The House met at 1000.
What we are discussing is the area that lies outside the greenbelt, which in fact is most of the land mass of Ontario. This motion, if passed, will highlight the need to address groundwater protection as we plan for growth in Ontario over the next 30 years.
If we cast our mind back to the Walkerton inquiry, recommendation number 1 said, "Drinking water sources should be protected by developing watershed-based source protection plans" for all watersheds.
I'd like to tell you a little bit about the watershed that I live in, which is the Grand River watershed. The Grand River rises up in the northeast end of Wellington county and north Dufferin, and winds through Dufferin county and over through Fergus and Elora and Wellington, over through into Waterloo region, through Kitchener-Waterloo, down through Cambridge, through Brantford and comes out in the Dunnville area, down on Lake Erie. But it has a whole lot of tributaries, so in my part of the world we have the Speed River and the Eramosa River, which rise in east Wellington and flow in at Cambridge. We have the Conestoga river, which rises in north Wellington and flows down through Waterloo region and comes into the Grand River. Over in Perth county, we have the Nith River rising and flowing through the New Hamburg area and on down.
All in all, if we think in terms of the way we measure things in this House, the Grand River watershed covers nine ridings -- or, to put it in more normal calculations, 6,800 square kilometres are in the Grand River watershed. The current population is over 800,000, soon 900,000 people, and the population in the Grand River watershed is expected to grow by at least 37%, about 300,000 people, over the next 20 years alone. Some 80% of the residents, or over 600,000 people, get their drinking water from wells -- in other words, groundwater -- both municipal and private.
There are 800 active water-taking permits in the Grand River watershed, but municipalities are the major holders of those water permits. In fact, groundwater accounts for 69% of municipal drinking water in this watershed, which is somewhat unusual for a watershed. That's why dealing with groundwater source protection is so very, very important.
I'd like to read you a bit from the Grand River Conservation Authority's watershed report for 2004. This is talking about the Grand River watershed, obviously.
"The central part of the watershed is covered with moraines -- hills made up of loose soils with high levels of sand and gravel.
"When snow melts or rain falls, the water soaks into the ground, which feeds or `recharges' the aquifers below ground.
"Some of the water feeds shallow aquifers and eventually feeds coldwater springs or seeps directly into rivers and streams, providing them with a source of cold, clear water, even in summertime.
"The rest of the water makes its way into deeper aquifers, where it feeds the municipal wells serving Guelph, Kitchener, Waterloo, Cambridge and many other communities.
"In fact" -- what's interesting -- "about 80% of the groundwater recharge takes place in just 30% of the land area.... Thus, it is important that the function of these moraines and sand plains be preserved in the future if the groundwater and surface water systems are to be protected."
But what's interesting is that, "Each of the major cities of the watershed is growing into a major recharge area."
To lay this out a little bit more specifically, because you can't see the maps in their reports, there in fact is one moraine which runs from south of Rockwood, south of Guelph, south of Cambridge, north of Brantford, over into the Paris area. Another moraine runs down the west side of Kitchener-Waterloo. So all of the major cities in the area are located very close to these critical moraines. So if I can go on to quote the GRCA:
"How do we deal with this, with all of the pavement and drainage associated with urban development?
"We can either learn how to build our communities so that water continues to enter the ground and that it goes in as clean as it can be, or we can develop our cities in another direction.
"The water resources of the Grand River watershed have made this region one of the richest, most dynamic parts of Canada. If that is to continue, they will have to be used wisely."
In fact, in order to address this, the Grand River Conservation Authority, together with the Long Point, Catfish Creek and Kettle Creek conservation authorities, has already appointed a source water protection project manager, who will lead a team of water quality, geology and groundwater experts to carry out research. What they will be looking at are studies on water use, the location and size of aquifers, stream flows, land use patterns, and susceptibility of water sources to pollution. I'm pleased to confirm that this position will be funded by our Ministry of the Environment, after an announcement that Minister Dombrowsky made just a few weeks ago.
What is critical here is that Ontario will continue to grow. The greater Golden Horseshoe area will continue to grow. The cities in the Grand River watershed will continue to grow. We understand that we live in a high-growth area, and because of that, our government has tabled Places to Grow legislation. We will be putting in place 30-year plans dealing with economic expansion, infrastructure requirements where growth centres are going to be, and environmentally sensitive areas which require protection.
This motion ensures that as we plan for growth in the Grand River watershed and in other places like this all over Ontario -- because this motion is not just about the Grand River Conservation Authority. I've talked about the Grand River because that's the area that I know best, but there are places all over Ontario outside the greenbelt where groundwater is a critical resource. We need to ensure not that we stop growth but that, as we plan for growth, one of the critical components of that planning is looking at the areas which are crucial for groundwater regeneration, because if we don't continue to protect groundwater recharge areas, we won't have groundwater, and if we don't have groundwater, there will be hundreds of thousands of people who will have their water supply endangered. So it is critical that we actually deal with this issue and make this an important part of municipal planning, and that as we look at this -- in fact, we don't have all the information we need. Even in my watershed, which is one of the leaders in doing research, we don't have all the critical information. We need to do more study so that we understand the mechanics of groundwater recharge.
We need to understand how dense development can be on a moraine. Do we have rules that are different for development on a moraine than they might be on other land? What is it that we need to do to ensure that our children and our children's children continue to enjoy the water resources that make Canada, and particularly Ontario, special?
One of Ontario's greatest resources has always been its access to clean drinking water. As we saw with the Walkerton incident, when we don't think about that in planning for the future, we endanger the health of our citizens. I ask for the support of all members so that we can protect our water supplies for our children.
I do wish to stress the importance of our Great Lakes. Whether that's an oversight, I think it's very important that any discussion of water -- groundwater or watersheds or headwaters -- should also make mention of and accommodate the health of the Great Lakes in the province of Ontario.
Our position was outlined very recently, and I'll just quote from the PC platform:
"A healthy environment is one of the greatest legacies we can leave to future generations of Ontarians. But investments in preserving our natural environment are not only for the future, they are part of the quality of life for Ontarians today. All of us need and deserve to have confidence in the safety of our water."
Now, with respect to this motion, we clearly support the protection of drinking water. However, the wide-ranging nature of a motion like this does raise a number of questions. I don't know whether these questions will be answered in the course of the debate this morning.
One concern: I've certainly attended a number of meetings, and one large meeting, with respect to the greenbelt, and the issue was raised concerning to what extent a direction like this would lead to alienation of landowners or farmers, landowners concerned about government intrusion, if you will, or any potential diminishing of their land. When I say that, of course, and farm organizations will mention this as well, the issue of compensation is raised.
A question arises with this motion and with the broader source water protection legislation that we're promised will be introduced by the end of this year: What is the relationship of this motion to the plethora of other pieces of legislation that have been introduced by this government, and by the previous government, with respect to water? With respect to the draft source water protection legislation, how does this motion relate to that? And I guess the question is, too, why would this motion be introduced today? Do we expect the government legislation today or later next week?
I don't know whether I heard any mention of the Justice O'Connor report. Of course, much of this initiative over the last four years or so has come from Walkerton and Justice O'Connor. As a government, we committed to implementing all 121 recommendations of the O'Connor report on Walkerton and made significant progress. Over 60%, or 78 of the 121 recommendations, were either put into effect or being implemented through major new legislation. I'd make mention of one: the Safe Drinking Water Act for Ontario. That act received royal assent back on December 13, 2002, and provided the legislative authority to implement 50 of the 93 recommendations of O'Connor's part II report. So I do wish to reiterate that we have a very strong commitment to the environment. We committed to implement every single recommendation of the Walkerton inquiry report.
I do raise the issue that it's very important for government to concern itself with protecting municipal drinking water. How far do you take that? Can you protect and study all water everywhere in the province, including the Great Lakes?
The member made mention of the Grand River watershed. It has been pointed out in this House a number of times that this present government is reviewing a major expansion of a landfill, the Edwards dump, outside of Cayuga. This is a landfill on a wetland slough forest only two miles from the Grand River.
That is the pattern that happens so very often. People running for municipal office in our area, for instance, inevitably run to save the farmland. They're going to preserve agricultural land. Provincial governments run and they're going to try to preserve environmentally sensitive and agricultural land. But when it comes down to the actual passing of a bill or bringing forward legislation at the local level, for instance, when there are decisions to be made which affect land use, you find that the development industry has a lot of influence.
I was reading in the newspaper the other day some of the municipal people saying, "At the local level we really feel the pressure. The developers or the person proposing the specific development live next door. They belong to our service club; they belong to a church or a synagogue or a mosque; or they just happen to be associates of people." So the pressure on local politicians is always great.
There are areas outside of the present greenbelt which are deserving of the preservation legislation that we can see forthcoming from this Legislature in the future. That's why I want to commend the member. This isn't the only area -- the greenbelt -- that requires this kind of protection. I've watched over the years different governments in power of different political stripes struggle to try to preserve agricultural land. They've not been successful in doing so, necessarily. Each one has to a certain extent, but I think the legislation we have goes a long way to meet that. Second, I also think it's important to extend it to other areas of the province. I commend the member for doing so.
We depend on water in the Kawarthas for more than just drinking. Much of our economy, as the Minister of Tourism and Recreation knows, is tourism-based and is driven by water-dependent activities such as boating, fishing and swimming. Our cottaging opportunities and recreational activities all depend on good water quality. Even the value of our land is certainly tied to the water.
I don't know how many of you are aware of this, but even the native Indian word "Kawartha" translates into "shining" or "sparkling water." Champlain even came up to the Kawarthas on one of his initial visits over to this side of the continent.
Everyone who lives in or does business in the Kawarthas is affected by and has a stake in water quality, and it's certainly a quality-of-life issue for us.
I'm sure some of you may recall the many petitions that my colleague from Parry Sound-Muskoka and I have brought forward to the House dealing with closure of the Frost Centre. We're very passionate about this because it's embodied the very best of our part of the province. The Frost Centre was all about conservation and stewardship, the very things we're talking about here today.
The motion we are debating reads, "That, in the opinion of this House, the government of Ontario should identify and protect moraines, watersheds and headwater areas, beyond the greenbelt study area initially identified by the province, in which urban development would have a significant negative impact on groundwater supplies." The Frost Centre taught the people of Ontario, the children of Ontario, the stewardship programs, so that property owners would be able to do their part to protect the land that they and their families are living on.
For many people throughout my riding, conservation and stewardship are more than things to talk about. They are certainly a way of life, and I encourage anyone to visit the Frost campus of Sir Sandford Fleming College to see what they have done with their new building, how they are teaching conservation and how to live with it and how to promote energy efficiency in the province.
I know it will come as good news that the conservation areas in my riding and Sir Sandford Fleming are already moving on this path. In fact, I think Susanna Kelley said they're light-years ahead up in Haliburton-Victoria-Brock in their conservation. The Lake Simcoe Region Conservation Authority, for example, which touches on parts of my riding, has a full range of GIS data available for the Lake Simcoe watershed, from standard infrastructure layers to natural resource layers, including recent Landsat satellite land use images. So the identification of watersheds and headwater areas is the easy part of the equation. The province may have to work with the existing conservation authorities -- and I'm sure and hopeful that they will -- to pull together the information they have been collecting. A lot of people have been working for quite some time to protect our natural resources, and the harder part is to protect them. That is where the government has to step forward.
I hope the government will recognize that throughout the province, landowners, especially those in my riding, have cared for the stewardship of the land long before it became a political cause and long before many of the people in this place ever heard of the word "stewardship." The roots of many families go back generations, and many of us learned from our parents and grandparents the importance of protecting the lands, both in and around our communities. I know my grandfather Scott was a conservation officer up in Haliburton county from just after the First World War until 1959.
I hope the government will work with local councils and work with local conservation authorities rather than just impose a solution on them, like they're doing with the greenbelt legislation. We're happy they have allowed those hearings to extend into January so that there's more time and to get more input, especially from the local areas. I mention this because Brock township, for instance, as I've said many times before, is included in the greenbelt boundaries, but just on the township line. So it seems to be a little bit of a heavy-handed solution on that, and I'm hoping they're going to be listening to the municipalities there about their concerns.
Today we're not talking about legislation -- and I honestly don't know what concerns I would have until it came forward, other than some of them mentioned -- but we're talking about a motion. That motion speaks to a very important point. I think we should all support it so that our children and grandchildren will be able to enjoy the natural bounty of Ontario.
What's behind this motion is the idea of growth, of balanced growth, of balanced planning. When I look at this motion before us, I say it's very straightforward.
When we look at a community like mine, Waterloo, ironically, both Minister Gerretsen and Minister Caplan said the region of Waterloo was one of the models they looked at in terms of the measures that have been brought forward to this House in terms of planning and an approach to planning with the work that's been done locally. The irony is that it's outside of the proposed greenbelt. What my colleague from Guelph-Wellington is saying is that communities such as mine, communities such as hers, which rely on watershed, we need to take a look at; we need to bring the same sort of balanced approach to planning to these areas as is done in the greenbelt.
This does not mean that there is no development in these areas. This does not mean that moraines and other areas will forever be kept green and there will never be an opportunity to develop. What it means is that we're going to have smart development. We're going to recognize the fact that these areas provide water sources for many, many people and that as we develop these areas, we want to make sure that it's done in a way which does not put these water sources in jeopardy.
When you take a look at the whole area around the Grand River watershed, to look at some of the facts: The population in the Grand River watershed is expected to grow by 37% over the next 20 years, and in fact I've heard that that may be a low estimate; I've heard higher. The current population in the Grand River watershed is 800,000, covering 6,800 square kilometres. Some 80% of the residents get their drinking water from wells. Surface water enters the ground through loose or sandy soils to recharge groundwater and enter these wells.
I think we have an obligation as a province to make sure that the type of planning and the type of thoughtfulness that's going into the greenbelt legislation is extended to other areas, as I say, not to hinder development, but to make sure, as development happens, as growth happens in these areas, that it is done properly, that it is done right. That's why I'm pleased to stand and add my voice in support of this motion put forward by my colleague.
First of all is the impact that development is having on the area's water supply. Lake Simcoe, in terms of its condition, has been significantly impacted by phosphorus, and the lower water level on Lake Simcoe is quite astounding, yet a development is being proposed in Innisfil in my riding, in the Big Bay Point area, which would provide for 1,200 boat slips on Lake Simcoe, which is just unbelievable, and a development in excess of 3,000 units.
The Ministry of the Environment and the Ministry of Municipal Affairs are going to have to take a very serious look at what's being developed along the water. They shut down a project that was set up in Oro-Medonte around the Fourth Line that was going to develop a seniors' residence and golf course, because it was too close to Lake Simcoe. Yet I think town council -- I don't know what the result of the vote was last night -- was looking at whether they were going to approve this particular project at the Big Bay Point area.
That's of serious concern for the situation of Lake Simcoe. I know the Lake Simcoe conservation authority does a good job, but they are not doing enough in terms of protecting Lake Simcoe if they're onside with that development. That's my personal view. We also have the Bear Creek watershed that feeds into my area and also into Simcoe-Grey and Essa, and that's significantly impacted.
What we're seeing is developers buying up large tracts of land in the areas outside the greenbelt -- huge tracts of land -- in anticipation of being able to develop it. I don't know how a municipality is going to be able to stand up to them when they're buying thousands of acres in that area.
I also have one area that is under siege in Bradford West Gwillimbury. They're proposing a purchase of prime farmland in Bond Head, Bradford West Gwillimbury, of 9,500 acres to develop a community of 37,000 people. The town of Bradford West Gwillimbury isn't even a third of that size. It doesn't have water capacity for that particular development. But that development is being proposed, which obviously will impact Lake Simcoe also, because Bradford West Gwillimbury feeds into the Lake Simcoe area at the south end.
So what you're seeing out there is, yeah, concern, and the member from Guelph is right in terms of making sure that we look, identify and protect, but why weren't they in the greenbelt area in the first place? It's complete nonsense that they weren't put in the greenbelt area and you've got a developer feeding frenzy going on -- on all the farms; not only in my area I imagine it's happening out in Cambridge and other areas that weren't protected by the greenbelt.
Certainly, you need responsible development. The bottom line is, when you put up a green light to developers and say, "OK, you can't do anything in this greenbelt area, but you can come up into this area," really, what you're putting in place is, the government is going to have to be the protectorate of sound development. We already have so much development up in the area that the highways are clogged, up Highway 400. We've been trying to get GO Transit as one way to alleviate that, and that hasn't come to rise.
Since the government exempted these areas from the greenbelt, I think it's important that they make sure the Ministry of Municipal Affairs and the Ministry of the Environment are going to protect these water bodies. If they're not going to do that, then the greenbelt study is a disgrace, and it's going to be a record that this government is going to wear because of what they've done to the areas outside the greenbelt area.
It's ironic, I suppose, that I should say this, but even the Tories, before they were thrown out and the Liberals came into power, had something called Smart Growth, which was looking at the province as a whole, and which I was generally supportive of. Now, I admit it was just still on paper, just as the greenbelt legislation is right now, but it was moving forward and looking at the whole province in terms of smart growth. That's what the Liberal government is saying it's going to be doing in other pieces of legislation, but we haven't seen that yet, so we have no idea what the overall plan for preserving environmentally sensitive land and prime agriculture land across the province will look like.
Certainly, I attended a press conference a few days ago and raised the question as a result in the Legislature, based on municipal leaders for the greenbelt. They're making the same point. They say, "For nature to flourish, the boundaries of the greenbelt must be based on ecological principles, not political borders." There is some real concern that some of the borders just don't make sense within the existing greenbelt proposed by the government, and it looks more political in some spaces than based on science. That's what they're saying, and they're saying, "If it's not in the greenbelt, it's open season. Anything goes."
They then give a series of recommendations, which would involve including some of the lands that we're talking about here today. "Failure to adopt these measures, said Elgar, will mean that urban sprawl will continue to spread like a cancer in the GTA -- with disastrous consequences for clean air, clean water, wildlife and our children." That is something that's put forward by me, and by some of the environmental groups who are very supportive of the concept of the greenbelt but who are making it very clear that all kinds of lands are being left out that, if not included, you will not have a greenbelt that will do what the stated intent is, and that is to stop urban sprawl. It will protect some environmentally sensitive land and agricultural land, no doubt, and that's a good thing, but it will not stop urban sprawl, which was one of the stated goals, which is why many of us are trying to actually improve it. I believe that is the intent of this resolution today as well, to include those lands that have been proposed by many, as well as across the province.
I want to talk about some of the other things that I would like to see included, because the intent of the greenbelt is to protect environmentally significant lands such as watersheds and headwaters. Sprawl produces polluted runoff entering waterways, and traffic congestion, we all know, that impairs our air quality and our water quality and destroys water areas. The initial greenbelt study area brought forth last December did not fully capture significant water systems, but there were concerted efforts by many: environmental groups, NGOs, sustainable planning experts and citizens. The government did listen, and expanded somewhat based on those representations, but there are still significant hydrological areas omitted from the greenbelt, and I'm going to talk a little bit about those today.
One we don't hear about very much -- but it really ties in very closely to the issue Mrs Sandals is talking about this morning -- is the big pipe. You'll remember that the government on the Friday of a long weekend in the summer -- I got the call when I was away -- said that they were going to allow the building of a massive sewer pipe to move 740 million litres of sewage from communities within the greenbelt to a Pickering treatment facility. This massive sewer pipe requires the removal of 66 billion litres of water from the underground aquifer system of the Oak Ridges moraine in 2004. That's been given the go-ahead, and on top of that, this water is not being returned to the watershed that supplies the GTA's drinking water supply.
The Oak Ridges moraine's groundwater aquifer system feeds more than 35 rivers and stream headwaters, including the Don -- which runs through my riding -- the Rouge and the Humber, which flows into Lake Ontario. So the base flow of these rivers and Lake Ontario will be affected by this, yet it's been allowed to go ahead, which goes against the spirit of the intent of this motion before us today and what the greenbelt is supposed to be all about. You've got to ask, why is this exempt from the moratorium? One of the largest water-takings in Canadian history is being allowed to go ahead. Just so people understand what I'm talking about, if you're trying to visualize this, a deep underground swimming pool will be emptied out of the moraine every two minutes for the next two and a half years. That gives you a picture of what I'm talking about here.
I'm going to refer to south Simcoe a little bit, although my colleague who is the representative of the area has described many of the problems with that area. It is an issue that I have raised in this Legislature. One of the main gaps and one of the main problems in the greenbelt, as proposed, is not only the leapfrog part. By now, we all know the problems, which is why I say that if the greenbelt goes ahead as it is, without adding this -- south Simcoe and other pieces of land and sensitive environmental areas -- you're not really going to be stopping urban sprawl. You're going to have a big zoning change, and that's good, to protect those lands, but you're not going to prevent urban sprawl; let's be very, very clear on that. That is why it is essential, if the government wants to be able to go out after passing the greenbelt and say, "We are stopping urban sprawl" -- it won't be able to say that unless lands like south Simcoe are included.
This region, which at present is not included, contains rivers flowing north off the Oak Ridges moraine and Niagara Escarpment and into Lake Simcoe. It was not included in the initial study area, nor was it included in the expanded belt. Its ongoing exclusion has set the stage for this leapfrog development I talked about. Developers will just leap over the belt and develop like crazy there, which they're already doing. It has been under significant pressure for some time now from urban sprawl, and because it was excluded, these pressures are even more heightened as developers, of course, move in and purchase more and more of that land because it's not included. Planning experts have thus described south Simcoe as the "wild west," because that's where all of the development is going to be taking place now. Proposed developments for south Simcoe include a proposal for the construction of an entire city in an area that's already under extreme pressure. This would be about 100,000 people, and that's massive by any scale. Furthermore, these developments are being proposed on lands not designated as urban residential in the county of Simcoe's official plan. This is crazy. Even Simcoe itself is saying that this should not be developed. Without action, south Simcoe will be a principal site where development leapfrogs, and we're already seeing that happen.
The Grand River, which has been talked about here today, absolutely should be included. I've been saying that for some time, and so have many others who are trying to expand the boundaries of the greenbelt. It's a very curious omission indeed. That's the watershed for Kitchener-Waterloo and Guelph. This has been talked about today, and I'm very happy to hear the members agree with me that this should be included in the greenbelt.
Then there's the issue of aggregates. I've brought that issue up here before and I've raised questions about it. I've said this during a question, and I never thought I'd see the day, but when it comes to aggregates, the Liberal policy on it within the greenbelt actually makes the previous Tory government look green. Even they didn't go so far. You know that.
Let me tell you what's going on. Contrary to protecting water and water sources, the greenbelt plan will permit new and expanded aggregate extraction throughout the greenbelt area. And then there's the new wording in the Liberal government's proposed provincial policy statement which significantly strengthens the aggregate industry's clutch on greenbelt lands and throughout Ontario. It didn't have to do that, but it actually went further than the previous Tories did. When it comes to aggregates, you're making a huge mistake. I think that if this is not fixed and repaired, you're going to go down in history on this one as being worse than the Tories, whom you so roundly criticized when you were over here in opposition. You just have to understand --
I want to point out to you, as I pointed out in question period here, that one of the worst examples is the slated expansion of the Milton quarry, which will put a giant, huge pit in the Niagara Escarpment, and that's the spine of the greenbelt. There's going to be this huge pit allowed there, and it will threaten to dry up streams and wetlands. I'm not happy about the deal that was made here. I'm going to be quite upfront about it.
I've been supportive of the government's greenbelt. With all my criticisms that it's not really going to stop urban sprawl, I've been supportive. Let's get this piece done while we can, because the pressures to actually reduce what's within the greenbelt are so great, instead of expanding it, which is what I want to do. I want to save more. But I'm really concerned, with it being out there, that a lot of pressure is being put on members from all parties to actually reduce what's already in the greenbelt. It's very alarming to me. I'm extremely disappointed that this deal was made, because I think if we were able to pass the greenbelt in a hurry, now -- because consultations have been done. Let's get it done. There's still time for consultations. There are a lot of other pieces of legislation that the government is working on, and we could continue to work on expanding it. My great concern now is that the pressure is going to be so great that the lands that have already been designated are going to be reduced.
I also wanted to talk a bit about -- I've only got a minute left -- the fact that we need more ongoing funding for conservation authorities. They play a huge role. They're going to play a huge role in this and many other pieces of legislation. Minister Ramsay did announce $12.5 million for watershed-based source protection in Ontario. That is directed to the conservation authorities and municipalities to hire expert staff. But you have to remember that funding to the conservation authorities was absolutely decimated in the Tory years. Many of them had to resort to selling off land to stay afloat, and much of that land did contain headwater areas. I think it's a shame that that happened. They need to be fully funded again so they can do all of the work they should be doing.
To fulfill the goals set out by this motion before us today, the planning process needs to consider headwater and groundwater sources from the start, not as an afterthought. However, the amended Planning Act did not see to this. In committee, I had proposed an amendment that would require official plans and planning applications to comply with source water protection. The source water protection legislation, though, can require that this act and the greenbelt act and acts related to resource extraction comply with it. The amendment I made to fix that was not accepted.
In closing, I support the resolution before us today and I urge the government, if they support this resolution, to go back to the drawing table and include not only the Grand River but all kinds of other pieces of land within the general GTA area and within Ontario that need to be protected now.
I think, from my own experience in my own community of Oakville, planning at the local level has taken on a whole new profile with the public.
If I can tell you something about that Oakville experience, we decided we were going to expand our community, and we went to the public and asked them just how that should take place, because we wanted their input. We expected a few people to come out. Well, people came out by the hundreds and they had some very important things to say to us. One citizen came forward and said, "Did you know there's a moraine in Oakville?" The planners in the town and the consultants we'd hired said, "There's no moraine in Oakville." Then a little bit of research was done and we found out we did have a moraine in Oakville.
Then it became very interesting, the education that took place in the community around the issue of groundwater recharge and moraines. I'm not sure if many people in Oakville could spell "moraine" before we went through this planning exercise. Now it's something they know an awful lot about and something they respect. They had go to books that went back as far as the 1940s to find out the ideal mapping of the Trafalgar moraine, and that was contained in a book by Putnam called The Physiography of Southern Ontario. All of a sudden, people around town were talking about the natural physiography of southern Ontario, talking about Oakville.
There's a whole new terminology in town now. People are starting to understand the values of watershed planning. People are starting to understand just what a moraine does, and it is the lifeblood of our communities. It's what keeps our natural environment thriving. When we hear about endangered species, when we hear of groups coming forward and asking us if we would do our part to protect endangered species, quite a lot of that endangerment has taken place as a result of the neglect of our moraines, of the neglect of our watershed when we've been planning. I think we can all look around our urban areas and see areas where planning has been -- "not the best" I think would be kind in classifying it.
I think we can move ahead in a much better way. Other governments have attempted to do this in the past. I'm extremely proud of the greenbelt strategy that's been proposed to date. We'll have a lot more public input, public opinion on that in the weeks and months ahead, I'm sure. I think it's going to be a momentous step ahead in the province.
I thank that the proposal that's been put forward and the foresight that's been shown by the member for Guelph-Wellington in proposing this private member's bill, as I said earlier, will only complement the proposal that's already been put forward by our own government.
The same pressures that impact on the major urban areas in southern Ontario, like the GTA, also impact on the Guelphs, the Brantfords and the Londons. There are a lot more watersheds in Ontario than simply the ones that surround the GTA.
So I'd like to add my congratulations to the member for Guelph-Wellington for bringing forward what I think is a tremendous initiative and lend my support and urge all members of the House to support this bill today.
Speaking on behalf of the farmers, we know that you do not foul your own well. We also know that we don't foul our neighbour's well. Because we all tap into the same aquifer in a region, if there's contamination in one well, it will spread to other wells. So in rural Ontario we understand groundwater and how very important it is.
The challenge we face is to map something that cannot be seen, and this was key to Justice O'Connor. Speaking as the parliamentary assistant to the Minister of the Environment, I want to remind all members that we are committed to mapping the groundwater of this province. That's crucial. That bit of science is so very key to what it is we are trying to do.
We have two things that we have to concern ourselves with: The quality of the water itself, to make sure that this pristine, preglacial water that is contained in moraines and underground and that we tap into stays as pure as possible, does not become contaminated; also, the quantity of that water. That's why I know our government and my minister were so insistent when we formed the government to have a moratorium on the permit to take water. We weren't going to allow people to take water willy-nilly without paying for it, without any value to it. There has to be a balance on the need for us to take the water, but we can't be grabbing a resource without any control, without any sense of its importance. If water is free, then we devalue water. That is something we cannot afford to do.
I want to mention as well that we as a government, and my ministry in particular, unveiled draft source protection legislation. One of the key recommendations of Justice O'Connor was the need to protect source water, and that draft legislation went up. It was, as I mentioned, actually recommendation number one from the Walkerton inquiry. So in November, our government pledged $12.5 million to help municipalities and conservation authorities develop watershed-based source protection plans. The provincial groundwater monitoring network will form the basis for these watershed-based source protection plans. The network already consists of 382 wells that monitor groundwater levels and quality right across Ontario. The network acts as an early warning system for changes in both water level and water quality. This is done on most parameters which are specified in the drinking water quality standards regulation.
That's why I want to rise in support of the member for Guelph-Wellington. Her resolution is congruent with what we are doing as a party and as a government. You cannot value something that you can't measure. You cannot value something as a society when it is considered to be free. Our government is very concerned about being able to map and measure groundwater, and no longer will it be considered free, because water is invaluable.
Obviously, the member for Guelph-Wellington brings to us an important piece of a puzzle, and a piece of that puzzle is important for us to understand.
Let me make a couple of comments first on the generality of private members' time. This is the time for ideas. This is the time to bring out some of the wonderful things that are happening in our ridings, some of the things that affect us as a population and as a community. It's an opportunity to push forward, push the envelope and make sure that each and every one of us has a voice.
I have a relationship to the member over there, as I do with this member and that member and the people in the gallery: it's water, it's air, it's land. Those three things are important to us for our survival. The member is offering us an opportunity to debate something that is extremely important, not just because it's life-saving and life-giving, but because it's interconnected to all of us. We've got to get that right.
Do we all have the answers individually? No, we do not. For anyone to stand up and say they have the answer and here's how we're going to do it, they're wrong. When we put the ideas on the table, debate them, discuss them, look at the expertise and look at the people out there who give us the opportunity to get that equation right, then we're going to head on the right track, and that's where we're headed with this resolution. I thank the member for doing that.
There are a couple of groups of people I want to mention. The Grand River Conservation Authority -- a complete watershed, not boundaries. There's no line on a map that says water flows a certain somewhere. We have several municipalities that work together to make sure our groundwater watershed is done correctly. To the experts at the Grand River Conservation Authority, thank you for the wonderful work you do, thank you for the protection of our water. This is what we need to do collectively as a province. Thank you very much, member. I appreciate your resolution.
There have been a few issues that came up that I would like to address. Protecting the Great Lakes was mentioned, and certainly that's something that matters. Protecting surface water has been mentioned, and that's something that is also important. All of these issues will be dealt with in our source water protection legislation.
But what we're doing this morning is focusing on groundwater. I would like to comment that the entire province can't be included in the greenbelt, and, recognizing that, we have put forward the Places to Grow legislation that looks at long-range planning outside the greenbelt. What we're highlighting with this motion is the need to look at protecting our groundwater sources as we plan for growth outside the greenbelt.
I think it was my colleague for Kitchener Centre who spoke about the idea of intelligent growth. We can only plan for growth intelligently if we identify our groundwater resources, and that requires a lot of research. The GRCA is one of the leaders at this, and they don't have the whole picture yet. But we have to work on mapping our ground resources. Then we need to make sure that when we figure out how they work, we protect them so our drinking water will be there for future generations. And in order to do that, I encourage all members to support this motion.
CELEBRATION OF HELLENIC
HERITAGE ACT, 2004 /
LOI DE 2004 SUR LA FÊTE DU
Mr Duguid moved second reading of the following bill:
Bill 150, An Act to proclaim a day and a month to celebrate Hellenic heritage in Ontario / Projet de loi 150, Loi proclamant un jour et un mois de fête du patrimoine hellénique en Ontario.
Before I speak about what this bill will do and why it's important, I want to begin by acknowledging the Minister of Citizenship and Immigration, the Honourable Dr Marie Bountrogianni, who brought this bill forward during her time in opposition. Ms Bountrogianni is not only the proud member for Hamilton Mountain, but a very respected and successful representative of our Greek community right across Ontario. She's on her way here now, and she'll be speaking to this bill later on.
Democratic renewal is a very current topic these days, not only in this Legislature and in Ottawa, but right around the world. Here in Ontario we're beginning to debate a number of potential political variations and structures in hopes of finding a way to engage more citizens in the democratic process and help reinvigorate interest and participation in our system of government. While in other countries, such as Ukraine, we see people having to take to the streets to ensure that their democratic rights are preserved and protected, we see here in Ontario an increasingly diminishing number of people participating in elections and an increasingly tainted amount of cynicism in our political system.
Any examination of democratic renewal has to begin with an understanding of what democracy is, not only its definition, but its origin and evolution. Democracy clearly has its roots in ancient Hellas or Greece. Without the vision cultivated in ancient Hellas or Greece, it is hard to imagine the emergence of democracy around the world. However, democracy is not the only contribution the Hellenes have made to our western civilization.
Tremendous advances were achieved in the arts, the sciences and the humanities. Hellenic or Greek sculpture, poetry, theatre and music were all of a level of sophistication beyond anything ever previously experienced. Many of the scientific terms in common usage today derive from the Greek language. Astronomy, geography, mathematics, medicine, physics and zoology owe their names and much of their terminology to the Hellenes. Aristarchus theorized that the earth revolves around the sun and rotates on its axis daily. Euclid gathered all the geometric knowledge of the time and published it. Archimedes contributed many of the important mathematical theorems. Ptolemy built a library to house all the known books in the world. Next to the library, a museum was constructed, where scholars produced encyclopaedias of knowledge.
Several schools of philosophy arose as well: the Stoics, the Epicureans, the Skeptics and the Cynics. It's easy to see that the cynics and the skeptics still exist, and I think many of them fill the opposition benches these days. But this is private members' hour, and I don't want to get partisan when I say that, because I know full well that there were skeptics and cynics in the government benches when they were in opposition as well. So let's be straight about that.
At this point, I'm sure a few of you are wondering -- and I know Mr Prue on the other side is -- "Is Duguid a Greek name?" I can assure you it's not; in fact, it's Scottish. My ancestry is Scottish, Irish, Ukrainian and Russian. My interest in Greek heritage was not sparked by personal ancestry; it was sparked by my involvement with the Scarborough-Florina fraternization policy that was adopted by the city of Scarborough many years ago -- decades ago.
My old friend and mentor, a former member of this House, the last mayor of Scarborough, Frank Faubert, was an integral part of the strong relationship between Scarborough and Florina. Frank Faubert loved our Greek community and they loved him back 10-fold. Frank headed a committee in fact to move the Olympic Games to Greece permanently during the 1980s.
Back in those days, I was his executive assistant when he was in this place. I'll never forget the time when he stood in his place here in this chamber and made a statement about the need for supporting putting the Olympic Games in Athens, Greece. The only problem was, Toronto was bidding at the same time. He got in a little bit of trouble for making that statement, but he didn't care.
Frank Faubert was passionately committed to the Florina-Scarborough fraternization. I know that his wife, Marilyn, is watching us here this morning on her television set. I can tell you that you could not visit the Faubert family or the Faubert household without hearing stories of Marilyn's and Frank's trips to Florina, of which they told many: stories of their adventures, stories of their love of the culture and the history of Greece.
Florina is a town in the northwest of Greece. There are a number of families in Scarborough who have their roots in Florina. The annual Scarborough-Florina fraternization celebrations have been something that I have rarely missed in the 10 years that I've been elected by the people of Scarborough. I can tell you that in attending those events, they're always very entertaining and well attended. There's always an air of pride by everybody there in being Greek, but there's also an equal air of pride in being Canadian. It's really something to behold.
Scarborough has even named a street after Florina, Greece, and in Florina, Greece, there's a street named after Scarborough. So it's a very close relationship that has developed over 20 years. This is one of the few Scarborough traditions to survive the amalgamation of Toronto, so I'm very proud of this tradition.
I'd like to speak a little bit about the impact of our Greek community in my riding of Scarborough Centre and right across Toronto and Ontario. Of our five MPs representing Scarborough, two of them are of Greek heritage: John Cannis from my riding of Scarborough Centre and Jim Karygiannis from Scarborough-Agincourt. Both of these MPs have served their community and served their country for over 10 years. Both have served Scarborough well and are very, very proud of their Greek heritage and history. I'm proud to be able to call both of these individuals my friends.
Earlier this year, the Hellenic Home for the Aged was opened in my riding at the corner of Lawrence Avenue and Kennedy Road. This is the fifth Hellenic Home for the Aged to open in Ontario and has already become a very important part of our community in Scarborough. I want to acknowledge all members of the Greek community and others who made the Hellenic Home for the Aged in Scarborough a reality. It will serve our community for generations, and it's something we're all very proud of.
I've talked about why this bill is important to me, but let me also tell you a little bit about the bill itself. If this bill is passed, each year we'll be proclaiming March 25 to be Hellenic Heritage Day and the month of March each year will be proclaimed as Hellenic History and Heritage Month. Why March 25? March 25 is the National Day of Greece. It celebrates the day in 1821 when Bishop Germanos hoisted the Greek flag over the monastery of Agia Lavra, signalling the beginning of the Greek War of Independence.
It's important to note that this bill has great support in our Greek community. There are a number of representatives of the Greek community here today. I will introduce them, but I'll wait until later on to do that, because I only have a couple of minutes here. I want to thank them for coming. A number of members will be joining me afterwards as well to celebrate what we hopefully will do here today.
As my time winds down, I just want to say that it has been an incredible year for our Greek community. The victory of the national Greek soccer team at the Euro Cup last July 4 set off celebrations in Toronto, across Ontario, and around the world like we've never seen before. I can recall my neighbour a couple of doors down, Savvas, coming down in his sports car, honking away with his Greek flags flying in the wind after the victory, pulling into his driveway a couple of doors down from me, jumping out of the car and yelling down the street to me, jumping about six feet off the ground and saying, "Brad, we shocked the world." And do you know what? They did shock the world; they really did.
Then, of course, this past summer we all remember the magical Olympic Games held in Athens, Greece. The experts said they couldn't do it. Months before the games were to open, the media claimed they would never be ready, but they proved everyone wrong and ran an excellent Olympic Games back where they originally started, in Athens, Greece. My late friend Frank Faubert would have been proud to see the Olympic Games finally returning to Athens. His dream was fulfilled as Athens welcomed the world.
It's time to recognize the enormous impact on our society of our Hellenic heritage. I hope I can count on the support of all members of this Legislature for this bill to proclaim a day and a month to celebrate Hellenic heritage in Ontario. Thank you very much.
I'm speaking on this bill also out of self-interest. My wife Helen's mother came to Canada in 1956 from Greece, actually the island of Ios, and she settled here. They are from Windsor. I can tell you that the contribution that the Greek community has made not only in Windsor but in Detroit has been significant.
Also, in my riding of Barrie-Simcoe-Bradford, the Greek community has established itself as very strong in the business community. In our riding, there are a number of restaurants that have been operated, for example, in terms of their business acumen -- I can name a few: Shirley's, Casa Mia and the Town and Country restaurants are operated by people of Greek heritage and are the most successful restaurants, actually, in the community. I have good friends -- I had a young chap who used to work with me named George Sardelis, and his father, Dino, and the whole family are tremendous contributors to the business community; the Nitsopoulos family; and a friend of mine with whom I practised law at one time, in renting the same space in the building, was John Alousis. Those people have made significant contributions to the community. They're good corporate citizens; they're good citizens per se. So certainly it's time we recognize that.
The member mentioned the Honourable Dr Marie Bountrogianni. She's of Greek heritage. I know she has been very involved in Greece, and certainly through our Canadian government -- I certainly want to state that I appreciate the work she's doing, but I would like to see a little bit more work done in an area that affects my riding, which is the children's treatment centre, which I have spoken up very, very passionately about. I actually was at a Christmas get-together for children on Sunday, at the Optimist Club. It was a Christmas party for children with cancer. All of the children go to Sick Kids for radiation treatment and are also children who would benefit from the children's treatment centre. I can't pass up the opportunity because, quite frankly, our area of Simcoe county and York region is the only area in the province that doesn't have a children's treatment centre. I know the minister wrote to me yesterday indicating that her ministry is studying the issue. I urge her to stop studying it and to approve the process because we have a capital site that we would have, without any cost to the province, in Barrie, and it's high time that this children's treatment centre was approved by the minister.
I wanted to say that I was asked by the parents on Sunday, at this Christmas party for the children that were suffering from cancer and also from developmental disabilities, that it's important that we get that in our riding. I want to make it very clear to the minister that we appreciate the review but it is time to appropriate the funds. They're looking for about $11 million per year to operate it, and I don't think that's out of line because the fact of the matter is, every other area in the province other than Simcoe county and York region does have a children's treatment centre. It's not right they have to go to other areas to get treated for things that they could be treated for in their own area.
I just want to say to the member that certainly this is something that is long overdue. I know that we've had other days by which we've recognized different ethnic groups in the province and their contribution, and I commend them for the work that he's doing. I don't know where he's going for his celebration, but maybe he can pass it on in his response.
I'd just like to expand on that for a little bit because people might think that's a little bit strange. Our art finds its traditions in ancient Greece from cycladic art, but also the art of later styles. When you look at the statues that many people will see around the world, they all have their origins in Greece. The great painters of the time were Greek and the whole tradition of painting and art, the whole tradition of the arts themselves, whether they be plays, whether they be poetry, whether they be the written word of Homer, all have their traditions in Greece. The very famous architecture of the past -- of course everyone knows the Parthenon, but if you stop and think where the wonders of the ancient world were -- there were seven of them, and only two were of non-Greek origin: the great pyramids of Giza and the Hanging Gardens of Babylon. The other five were all Greek. Even though they are not today in modern-day Greece, if you look at which ones those were, the wonders of the ancient world: the Colossus of Rhodes, on the island of Rhodes; the great temple to Zeus at Olympus; the temple of Artemis, which is in modern-day Turkey, but Artemis was a Greek goddess, and the temple was built by the Greeks. I'm trying to remember all of them as I speak. The Mausoleum of Mausolus, which is in modern-day Turkey, was also of Greek origin. And there was the Great Lighthouse at Alexandria. The great wonders of the world, the architecture, the magnificent monuments that were built, were Greek, and if you go around the world today you will see that that classic style is still emulated even in modern architecture.
Of course, our science is all Greek. Ask any schoolboy; he can tell you who Pythagoras is. Ask anyone about trigonometry or the development of algebra, and they will tell you that they are Greek in origin.
Our medicine: The great Hippocratic oath that doctors to this day still state when they are called to be doctors emanates from Hippocrates in Greece.
Our religion: the importance of Christianity and the whole Greek influence of thought. People, if they are Christian, know that Christ originally came from the area of modern-day Israel, but what they forget all too often is that as Christianity expanded, it was expanded throughout the Greek world into Greek cities by Saul, later known as Paul, and that almost the entire New Testament was written in Greek and the concepts of the expanding new religion were all Greek thoughts. The idea of the Trinity is a Greek thought. It is completely foreign to Judaic thought. We today, those who hold the Christian faith, will be very familiar with the Trinity -- the Father, the Son and the Holy Ghost -- and that is a Greek concept. One can see how that flourished in Greece.
I once had the opportunity to go to a lovely place called Meteora. You can see how the monks go up these enormous hills -- I don't want to call them mountains. There's no access and they have to be hauled up on makeshift elevators, where everything is hauled up the mountain. They lived on the top of the mountain cloistered from the world. If you go there, you can see how the Orthodox faith developed and maintained itself through wars and pestilence and everything else that has happened to Greece.
We all know about the politics of Athens, which was the first development of democracy in the ancient world. We all know about that. Mr Duguid was talking about the sceptics. I would also like to remind him about democracy in Athens because they had something absolutely unique that I think might be useful in this House. Whenever something went wrong, whenever they lost a battle or somebody gave terrible advice and a calamity resulted, of course they couldn't punish everyone in the democracy but they had to have a scapegoat. So they developed a thing called an ostrakoi. They put names on clay and put them in a pot and they pulled someone's name out and that person became ostracized. That's where we get that word. I would think maybe the members opposite, when things go very badly, should do the same. They should put all the members' names, the 71 of the government, in the hat and pull one out and that person can be the scapegoat and sent away for the misgivings. So if we want to talk about democracy, this is a Greek tradition I think we could possibly welcome.
We also are indebted to the Olympic Games, which were developed in Olympus, in western Greece, and existed throughout the entire history of the ancient Greek world and were embraced by the Romans. That is a tradition that is absolutely amazing. It is a tradition that is some 4,000 years old, in its earliest steps developing as an agricultural festival.
Greece itself has survived wars, conquests and invasions. In spite of all of the things -- the melting pot that was Greece and continues to be Greece -- the flavour of Greece, the essence of Greece, has survived. Not only has it survived, it has been embraced by the world.
I am reminded of a saying by Horace. Horace, of course, being a Roman, wrote the following, and I think it was absolutely as true in his time as it is in ours:
Graecia capta ferum victorem cepit et artes
Intulit agresti Latio.
That means, "Greece, once overcome, overcame her wild conqueror, and brought the arts into rustic Latium."
The Romans invaded Greece, the Romans conquered Greece, but then the Romans themselves became Greek. To this day, if you go to Rome and look at the architecture of that city, the art, the plays and the poetry, they are all Greek. Even though the Greeks themselves may have been conquered in a time of war, it was the Greek brilliance that shone through and lasted forever and infected, in a good way, the Roman tradition. It is as vibrant today as it was then.
We know of the great Alexander, who went on to conquer the entire known world and died by the time he was 32, having conquered every land the people in that area had heard of or knew of. We know his legacy lived on for many years through the Ptolemies, the Seleucids and the Antigonids. Ptolemies and Seleucids are easy, but the Antigonids are tough ones to remember.
We know his legacy lasted forever. We know his legacy lasted down into the Roman period. In fact, when Rome itself fell, when the barbarian hordes came in in the fifth century and Rome fell, was sacked and was gone and that civilization went into complete eclipse, it survived in Greece and Byzantium for another 1,000 years. The Greeks themselves kept alive the arts, architecture and science in Constantinople and in all of the areas of Greece and places where Greeks lived.
We owe an absolutely huge debt to the Greeks, because what has survived from the ancient world survived as a result of the Byzantine Empire, survived as a result of Greeks insisting that the arts, culture and science survive. Greece went into a long period, one would say, of decline, after that period in 1453 and was part of the Ottoman Empire, but the Greeks never, ever gave up what they believed in: democracy and their country.
It wasn't until the 19th century, when people started to see what was happening in the world -- in the United States, in France and the colonies of Great Britain, like Canada, that were struggling to be free and that were getting constitutional rights -- the people in Greece were no exception. They had been invaded and conquered but their will and spirit had never, ever been defeated. In 1821, the first movement was taken to throw off that yoke of oppression, and by 1827, Greece was a free nation.
The year 1821 is a remarkable year in Greek history, remarkable for the heroes of that period. One hero, who is not too well known in Canada but who is revered throughout Greece, is Kolokotronis: how he went to the initial battles -- a brilliant field marshal -- how he mobilized the Greeks and how he was able to overthrow superior armies. If you go to almost every little town in Greece today, you will see a statue to that great man, and he deserves to be remembered for the liberation of his country.
For the few minutes remaining, I would like to talk about other Greek groups, such as the Pontians. I am proud to say I am a Pontian.
Remarks in Greek.
Pontians are a group from Asia Minor. They lived there for 3,000 years. They were Greek-speaking people. At the time of Ataturk, they were forcefully and forcibly removed from their home of some 3,000 years and they were sent packing. Many of them died. There is no doubt in my mind they were persecuted and no doubt in my mind that it was a pogrom. They had nowhere to go. Many of them returned to Greece, although they no longer spoke the same language because 3,000 years of separation had changed a great deal. But they went to Greece and they did remarkable things in that country. They revitalized the agricultural industry and they built and rebuilt Greece.
There is a very strong Pontian community in Toronto. There is a statue, I am proud to say, for the Pontian community in East York. It is one of the only statues to commemorate the deaths and the problems of that wonderful people. It is located near the Walter Stewart library in East York. It is a tremendous statue, and Pontians from all over the world come to remember their past, to remember what happened between 1916 and 1921. They come and continue to come --
That statue continues to be there. Pontians come from around the world and remember the problems of their forefathers but also the strength in what their community continues to do.
As I said, I am proud to be a Pontian. I have been adopted. I am the only adopted Pontian, I think, in the world, and I have a plaque to that effect in my office. I'm very proud to say that I am a Pontian.
The Greeks in Canada have prospered. They have done extremely well over all of the years. We in East York are proud that we are twinned with a city in Greece, the city of Tripolis. I have been there. It is a wonderful, remarkable community. The Greeks in East York number up to 7,000 people and in my riding make up about 4% of the population.
I invite people from across Ontario to experience Greek culture in Canada. Please come to the Danforth. If you want to taste the finest food of Greek origin in the world, come to the Danforth. If you want to see the joie de vivre of the Greek people, come to the Danforth. You will see that they know how to enjoy life. They know how to celebrate who and what they are. I thank all of them for the contribution they have made to our society. Canada is a better place. And the world truly is Greek.
This debate allows us to acknowledge many of the signature contributions of Hellenic civilization to all civilizations, to civilization writ large, the system we know as democracy being chief among those but also the tremendous contributions in terms of art, literature and philosophy. We mustn't, as a society, underestimate those contributions.
We've heard about the Greek contribution in Scarborough Centre, and I know Dr Bountrogianni is going to be talking about the contribution in the community of Hamilton. Like so many communities around Ontario, my community of Don Valley West has benefited from a strong Greek presence. In particular, the community of Thorncliffe Park has been home to a significant Greek presence since its construction in the late 1950s and early 1960s. Today, Thorncliffe Park is home to the headquarters of the Greek Orthodox Metropolis of Toronto, on Overlea Boulevard, and St Demetrios Greek Orthodox Church, as well as the headquarters of the Greek Community of Metropolitan Toronto and the Cypriot Community of Toronto on Thorncliffe Park Drive.
The other thing I want to talk about is the informal organization of the Greek community in Thorncliffe Park. On any given morning, I can go to the Tim Hortons in Thorncliffe Park and I will find many members of the Greek community from that area having their conversation, having their daily check-in. I think about that group, and when I go and speak to them what I'm seeing is the way democracy works. People talk to each other. There's a town square. There's a place to gather. We shouldn't underestimate that tradition in the Greek community.
I'd like to acknowledge that Thorncliffe Park's vibrancy is in no small part a result of the Greek community that settled there. I'd like to recognize the community leadership provided by Metropolitan Archbishop Sotirios, who's been a strong advocate for the Greek community in Don Valley West, as well as the important role played by Reverend Charalambos at St Demetrios Greek Orthodox Church.
This bill and the heritage day and month it'll create will give us an opportunity to recognize our Greek community as an integral part of the Ontario mosaic. I think that's something we should all be able to support. That recognition of the varied ethnocultural communities is an integral part of our understanding of who we are in Ontario, and the fact that it is all but a cliché really demonstrates how far we have come along this road as a society.
So I'm happy to support this bill. For Greek Canadians, its passage will signal a recognition of their contribution to this society, and for the rest of us it brings us an opportunity to celebrate and increase our awareness of Greek heritage. Thank you, Mr Duguid, for introducing the bill.
Before I start, I'm going to say that it is a little difficult for me to get up here today. My background is that I'm a Portuguese Canadian. To see Portugal and Greece in that Euro 2004 final was riveting. It was a difficult loss for the Portuguese Canadians. But what was great was that everybody was able to come out on the streets and celebrate in a very peaceful way. Everybody was waving their flags. I thought it was a great celebration and a great show of what we have here in Ontario, where all cultures can come together and celebrate in great Hellenic tradition, one of democracy. For me to get up here, I'm being a good sport, and that comes from my Olympic background.
The opportunity I had to travel to Greece this past summer to watch the Olympic Games was tremendous. My days as a marathon runner are far behind me, but I wanted to make sure that I did the old course, so I went out to Marathon and made my way from Marathon to Athens. It didn't take me what it used to take me, two hours and a few minutes; it took me a good deal longer, almost half a day, because I stopped at many restaurants and spoke to many people. The culture was just tremendous. The people were so warm and the food was terrific. When we talk about a healthy culture, we talk about the Greeks. The Mediterranean diet is one of the healthiest diets in the world. They have one of the longest lifespans in the world because of using olive oil. All those viewing today should get out to a Greek restaurant in your community and eat some of that fantastic food: the olive oils, the salads, the cheeses, the souvlaki. It was all wonderful.
The Olympics are what is so important to me from the Greek culture because they touched me so greatly, from the first games in 776 BC to the modern-day Olympics that came back to Greece in 1896 and have continued. It's really where the world comes together in a peaceful way and we're able to celebrate Olympic values of peace and fairness and fraternity, and the human spirit and breaking barriers. I was able to bring forward a private member's bill, my Olympic Day bill, which really complements and works so well with this act that the member from Scarborough Centre has brought forward. During my time in Greece, I got a chance to go out to the Panathenean Stadium, the old stadium.
All I say is that for all those who haven't been to Greece, get out there. It's a wonderful country, wonderful people, and we're so glad to have a great Greek population here in our province.
I had to consult my dictionary to get the exact description of what Hellenistic means. As an adjective, it's "of or relating to the period of Greek history, language and culture." The time of the expansion of Greece was a long time ago: 323 to 331 BC. That was the period during which Greek culture spread throughout the Mediterranean and into the Near East. So many important features of modern civilization come from Greece, whether it be freedom and democracy, first developed by ancient Greeks, or as Mr Fonseca just mentioned, the birthplace of the Olympics. This year we had a very successful Olympics in Greece.
For me, the experience is more personal. I think of Parry Sound-Muskoka and the people I've come to know of Greek origin from my own riding; for example, people like Tom Tzavidas, who owned a Subway in Bracebridge for many years. I tend to run into him around the Bracebridge hockey arena because his kids have played on the same hockey teams as some of my kids. I know how much he cares for his family and how much he's given back to the town of Bracebridge over many years.
Also in Bracebridge are the owners of the Apollo Restaurant, Peter and Barbara Kokotsis. Incidentally, Apollo is the sun god and patron of music and poetry. Peter is Greek, and Barbara is actually German, so on the menu there is Greek and German food. It's an excellent restaurant, and if you happen to be in Bracebridge, I would highly recommend that you try it out.
I've also seen just how generous the people of the Greek community are in my area. I think of the owners of the Family Restaurant in Huntsville, Dino and Bessie Georges. I met them because I attended the Spring Fling in Huntsville. It's the biggest fundraiser of the year for the Huntsville Hospital and hundreds of people attend this event. All the food was cooked and donated by Dino and Bessie Georges's Family Restaurant in Huntsville. They've continued to do that for a number of years and are very generous in giving back to the community in a big way. It was a pleasure to meet them there. After that, I decided I had better visit the restaurant and try it out, except the first time I went, it was too full, too busy, because it's so popular. I went back another time and enjoyed a nice meal at the Family Restaurant.
I've bumped into other people of Greek descent who have been extremely generous. In 1985, I bumped into Nick Mirkopoulos, whom I met at an event. He subsequently invited me to a Greek Easter celebration, which was a big event. I think they roasted 14 lambs outside on spits. It was a lot of fun for me to attend, and also great to see some of the Greek culture.
Subsequent to that, our number two daughter, Reneé, was born in 1985, and Nick sent us this beautiful white embroidered dress for our new baby, which we still have. In fact, I was talking to my wife and she said she saved it and had it out the other day, looking at this wonderful dress.
That's just a personal demonstration of how generous the Greek people have been. They certainly have contributed in our area of Parry Sound-Muskoka, and I think it is very important to recognize this.
This bill will proclaim March 25 of each year as Hellenic Heritage Day. The month of March, and March 25 particularly, have traditionally been a great time of celebration by the Greek community. March 25 actually commemorates the anniversary of the commencement of the Greek War of Independence, 181 years ago, which resulted in the birth of the modern Greek state. Also, the month of March each year is proclaimed as Hellenic History and Heritage Month. As I mentioned, there is an awful lot of history there to be learned. In fact, when I graduated from grade 8, my principal in Bracebridge Public School, Mr Neil Haight, gave me this big, beautiful, bound history book on Greece and Rome, so it was obvious he felt this was something very important that I should be learning as I went on to further studies.
I'm very pleased to support this bill today and recognize the many contributions of the Greek people to our society.
While we're very cognizant of the fact that our civilization has benefited a great deal from the ancient Greeks, we must also be cognizant of the fact that many Greek Canadians struggled in Canada to maintain a livelihood, to create schools and special places of worship, and to ensure that there is a future for Greek Canadians. We want to be cognizant also that they have made a great contribution.
I had the real pleasure in 1981, for the first time in the history of Toronto, to raise a Greek flag at Toronto city hall, along with Mayor Eggleton. As the admiring throng was looking up at the fluttering flag of Greece, we were reminded of the great sacrifices people have made to ensure this flag flies in a free country.
We also know that Greek Canadians, who have made a great contribution to Canada, are not alone in this struggle. In terms of our own multicultural society, we know that Greek Canadians -- I'm quoting right now from my book, which is called Toronto's Many Faces, and I have a chapter here about the Greek Canadians.
I want to make sure I don't go over my time, because the Minister of Citizenship is Greek Canadian and I want to be sure she gets her five minutes.
Let me just say, in conclusion, that "Toronto's Greek community numbers around 130,000, a striking contrast to the 20 Greek names that appeared in the 1907 Might's Directory. Many of the first Greek immigrants ... were young men, most of them refugees, who came in the 1890s to work in agriculture or in northern Ontario's mines, forests and railways." Many of them also were professionals, especially "Dr Petros Constantinides, an eminent scholar and surgeon who arrived in Toronto in 1864. Today, the community is proud of its more than 15,000 professionals."
In short, we're delighted at the contributions Greek Canadians have made, and we certainly congratulate them today on this very special day.
I wanted to rise for a couple of minutes on this bill to reflect on how important the role of Mr Duguid or all members is to respect and promote their own particular view of the world, as well as the culture and heritage they respect and represent in their riding.
I had the very distinct pleasure -- I think the bill I passed here was Bill 133; I believe that's the bill number. I introduced the bill two or three times, on Irish heritage. As such, during more amicable times here in the House, toward the end of the session, oftentimes they put together a private member's bill, of which this is one, and without much debate they pass second and third reading and it's given royal assent. I had that privilege last year. Irish heritage, my bill, Mr Duguid, was similar: to respect the rich contribution that cultures generally and broadly make to our collective standard of living, our wealth and mosaic culture, that we all enjoy and celebrate.
I had the privilege last Christmas, I guess it was, at the end of the session, to go to the Speaker's chambers and then from there to the Lieutenant Governor's chambers and see the bill actually sent to law. So I wish you good luck, and certainly you have my support. From my own experience, it made me feel very gratified that I actually made a statement while in my time here that meant something to somebody just beyond myself, to my children and to my community, and I wish you luck in that context.
In my attempt to familiarize myself with some of the background, I know a number of very productive and engaging friends -- I would call them friends -- the Bastas family from my riding. They started out here -- I don't think they were in Canada all that long, perhaps a decade or two, and they had a very successful restaurant business and a bit of catering. I think there were three brothers involved. My wife, Peggy, and I often go to the Massey House restaurant, which is in Newcastle. It is still run by Gus and Karen Bastas. It's wonderful food from a very diverse menu, and the menu always has a couple of Greek dishes that we enjoy.
I would say that each of us, as I've heard Mr Prue speak earlier today, and Ms Wynne as well, would like to encourage all members to reflect, respect and represent our diverse communities. It does enrich all of our lives.
I went to a Catholic high school, and you had a couple of choices of study. Mostly they were the classics at the school I went to; I'm one of the older group here. You could take Greek or Latin and/or French. A lot of people took Latin and, obviously, they often chose to study Greek history and took Greek as another subject if they were in the arts area.
Some of the things I jotted down here: It's a rich tapestry of history. If you think back to Homer, he recounted history through poetry and stories. But it always fascinated me, just looking at the size of the country where half of the civilized world lived at that time in history, back in 1150, roughly. During the Bronze Age, their Mediterranean area was about the size of Manhattan. You could drive across it in less than a day today. But much of our birthplace of democracy and civilization as we know it today did happen in that culture.
With respect to the work you've contributed to this and to my opportunity to encourage all members to rise and try to bring forward their suggestions, I would say congratulations. I will be there to celebrate the March 25 anniversary or recognition of Hellenic Day.
I'm extremely proud, as the only Greek Canadian in the Legislature, to be here to talk to this bill today. In a way it's honouring our dual heritage. It is honouring the fact that we're a unique culture: Greek and Canadian. Like most people in Ontario, we have this unique mix of two cultures. We're so lucky to be from our wonderful cultures, in this case the Greek culture, with its rich history, the initiation of democracy in that country --
The young people of the Greek community are overrepresented, for example, in universities. Education is very important to families. Those who, because of poverty and political issues, couldn't go to school in Greece made a point of sending their children to higher education here. We were the second-largest community, actually, with respect to representation in post-secondary education in the 1970s and 1980s. I'm very proud of that and very thankful to my parents and my parents' generation for pushing that.
I was very proud, not only as a Greek Canadian but as Ontario's representative for citizenship and immigration, to be invited by the Greek Parliament to the Olympics this past summer. My friend the honourable member from Mississauga East, Peter Fonseca, was there as well. It was so special.
It was such an honour to be there, and they did such an amazing job. I was very proud of the job of the Greek people and the Greek government. The Olympics were beautiful. We were very proud. The opening and closing ceremonies were the classiest I've ever seen. I know I'm biased, but this was a bias that was shared by everyone I spoke to in Athens. Athens was transformed into the most beautiful city in Europe -- unbelievable. And to think of all the negative propaganda against the Olympics and how they'd be dangerous, insecure and so forth. We all proved them wrong, once again, that we are capable as a nation, as a civilization and as a country. I'm so, so proud of that.
I'm also proud of our rich history, and trying my best as a mother of two Greek Canadian children -- third generation now -- to teach them the language and the history. We try and go back every summer so that they know and they see their roots. And on days like today -- and of course March 25, our Independence Day -- I'm well aware of my late grandparents' and my late father's stories of the wars, of the multiple wars that my grandparents went through, right from Asia Minor, to Greece, to civil war, to two world wars and to amazing political disruptions and dictatorships. But thankfully, there is a democracy in Greece today; there has been for some 25-odd years. We're very thankful for that. Democracy is complex, but it's still the best system in the world. The Greeks invented it. We honour it here in this wonderful country and in this beautiful province.
I'll just say a few words in Greek now. Don't worry to translate it from Greek to French if you can't do it. I'll do my best to translate it if you'd like.
Remarks in Greek.
This is emotional. I'm very, very proud to be here. I'm very thankful to my colleague Brad Duguid for introducing this bill, and I'm also very thankful for what my parents gave me, as well as for what my culture gave me. I'm very happy to be part of the introduction of this bill.
First, Ms Angeliki Prassouli, vice-consul of the Greek consulate -- if she could stand; Costas Menegakis, president of the Greek Community of Metropolitan Toronto; Eleni Tsikritsis, vice-president of the Greek Community of Metropolitan Toronto; Theodore Antonopoulos, secretary-general of the Greek Community of Metropolitan Toronto; and my very good friend Gus Klisouras, president of the Hellenic Canadian Educators Association of Ontario. I thank them for coming.
Again, I thank all the members who spoke in this debate. The member for Beaches-Woodbine said it well: "We're all Greeks." And for those who don't believe that, they'll probably believe this: If you're not Greek, you probably wish you were. So you're one or the other. He gave an excellent presentation. He knows well the Hellenic culture and he knows well the beauty of the Danforth, which is really the Mecca of Greek culture, probably, here in Canada.
The member for Barrie-Simcoe-Bradford showed his knowledge of the contribution of the Greek community right across Ontario. The member for Don Valley West talked about the Greek community's contribution in her own community and spoke very, very eloquently about it. The member for Mississauga East spoke about his personal experience as an Olympian and how that captures the Hellenic culture and spirit. The member for Parry Sound-Muskoka spoke well of the contributions of Greek members in his area. The member for Davenport talked about his book and the contributions of the Greek community in his area as well. The member for Durham spoke about his Irish bill, which is similar to this. And the member for Bruce-Grey spoke about Tartan Day.
In the 10 seconds that are left, I want to thank the member for Hamilton Mountain. She's been an incredible representative here in this House. She makes us all very proud, but I know I can speak on behalf of the Greek community that she makes them incredibly proud of all that she has accomplished for them and for us.
Is it the pleasure of the House the motion carry?
All those in favour, please say "aye."
All those opposed will say "nay."
In my opinion, the ayes have it. Carried.
CELEBRATION OF HELLENIC
HERITAGE ACT, 2004 /
LOI DE 2004 SUR LA FÊTE DU
Is it the pleasure of the House the motion carry? Carried.
All matters having to do with private members' public business having been dealt with, I do now leave the chair. The House will resume at 1:30 of the clock.
The House recessed from 1201 until 1330.
As you're aware, since 2000 Mr Truscott has gone public in proclaiming his innocence so that he can clear his name for his family's sake. The campaign to exonerate Mr Truscott has led to a judicial review. The federal justice minister said that "there is a reasonable basis to conclude that a miscarriage of justice likely occurred."
Like most Liberals, he took the easy way out and, instead of ordering a new trial, referred the case to the Ontario Court of Appeal for review. In January 2002, retired Quebec Judge Fred Kaufman was appointed to do a review of the case. The Attorney General has had the results of that report since April 2004. In his report, Kaufman may recommend that the case be retried or reviewed by the appellate court, or he can recommend a pardon.
A man's chance to clear his name hangs in the balance. The Attorney General has continued the Liberal tradition of taking the easy way out by refusing to make the report public. Chief Justice Roy McMurtry is quoted in the Toronto Star today as saying he "has no objections to the release of the report publicly." The Chief Justice recognizes the need to expedite the hearing.
I say to the Attorney General, stop hiding the Kaufman report. Why have you refused to release the Kaufman report so far? I say to the Attorney General, why don't you stand up today and agree to release the Kaufman report publicly?
But this can be a lonely time of year for many in our communities. Ask any faith leader, social worker, community police officer, nurse, therapist or teacher, and they will all tell you that this can be a brutally difficult time of year for people without family or whose family members are alienated from each other.
Many Ontarians put forth extraordinary efforts at this time of year to help those who need help the most.
I want to thank all those caregivers who work so hard all year but who have an especially important job at this time of year. You are the families for many of the children, seniors and disabled Ontarians who are living in group homes, long-term-care homes and supportive housing. You provide the warmth of the season, and you do it generously.
Thank you to the people who dedicate their lives to running food banks, women's shelters, out-of-the-cold programs and homeless shelters across Ontario for your work all year but especially at this time of year when the emotional and spiritual need compounds the physical need of those living in poverty.
Thank you to the leadership at the Metropolitan Community Church of Ontario, which provides a sanctuary from homophobia for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transsexual and transgender people year-round but especially at this time of year when many members of this community are not welcome in their own families.
Thank you to all Ontarians who dedicate themselves to helping those for whom this season can be a truly difficult time of year. I know my colleagues in the Ontario Legislature share my admiration and gratitude for your work and your humanity.
ONTARIO FILM AND
Yesterday at 6 pm, the finance minister sent out a news release saying that he is listening to the film industry's concerns. Ontario's film industry cannot wait while the government dances around the issue, claiming to listen. People are losing their jobs today; business is leaving Ontario today for the United States and other provinces.
About 1,200 people came to this Legislature on December 1 demanding action, and the government's response is that they are listening. Action is required.
Everyone in Ontario knows we have a crisis in our film industry. The industry has been hard hit of late, and the Liberals, in government, have failed to keep their election promise to increase the tax credit. Other jurisdictions, both Canadian and American, have followed the lead of the former Progressive Conservative government of Ontario in creating the tax credits, often at a higher rate than Ontario is now providing.
There are 20,000 people in this industry -- 20,000 people who stand to lose their jobs. The time for action is now, so that Ontario can remain competitive on a global scale.
Our Minister of Agriculture and Food, Steve Peters, has been working tirelessly with the industry to ensure that the lines of communication are open, so that the ideas and concerns of the sector as well as their opportunities are brought forward. Minister Peters's commitment to the sector is an impassioned one. He has brought to Ontario the agricultural policy framework. He has made continuous efforts to maintain an open dialogue with all sectors. He has shown continued support for the agricultural sector through BSE funding and transition funding for business risk management.
Today I'd like to take this opportunity to congratulate Minister Peters, as he was awarded the Canadian renewable fuels award for the exceptional work he has done for this burgeoning industry. This is the greatest honour awarded to individuals who make an extraordinary contribution to the renewable fuel industry. Minister Peters announced a renewable fuel standard for ethanol and has also made significant contributions to the biodiesel industry by announcing his intention to move forward with a parallel strategy.
Over the past two years, I have worked with Richmond Hill Councillor Arnie Warner, Ministry of the Environment staff, the town of Richmond Hill bylaw department and residents of the Newkirk Road neighbourhood in Richmond Hill with a view to help determine the source, and to eliminate, offensive odours emanating from Gamma Foundries in this neighbourhood in Richmond Hill. Following studies conducted by the Ministry of the Environment, it is absolutely conclusive that these odours are indeed emanating from this foundry.
I've brought this issue to the personal attention of the Minister of the Environment. I now have a letter from her, which unfortunately is not very helpful. After reviewing the details of the issue, she simply concludes by saying, "MOE staff will continue to work with Gamma Foundries to abate the odour problem."
People in this neighbourhood have not been able to walk outside to enjoy their own property as a result of these odours. I am calling today on the Minister of the Environment to take absolute and immediate steps to ensure that these odours are put to an end and that the appropriate orders are issued to this foundry to ensure that the neighbours in this neighbourhood can in fact have rightful enjoyment of their property.
First of all, I remember the promise that was made in the last election. That promise was that the Ministry of Agriculture was going to be a lead ministry. I remember that last year, it didn't become a lead ministry. They cut the budget by $128 million, and the Minister of Agriculture is not even on P and P, which is priorities and planning of cabinet. How can you be a lead ministry if you don't have the dollars in your ministry to do the job and your minister doesn't have any voice within cabinet? So I wonder why the government is touting that.
I want to say that the Minister of Agriculture misses what has been going on in agriculture. There has been a crisis in agriculture. We all know what has happened with BSE. There have been depressed prices. We know that costs have gone up for the running of the farm. We know that hydro prices are going to be going up as well. What is this government doing to address any of these things? Quite frankly, not a heck of a lot. This government is lurching from crisis to crisis, leaving farmers high and dry.
I've got to take the opportunity to say a couple of words about the Nutrient Management Act. We know that that particular bill requires the government to provide dollars to farmers to be able to comply with the act. We know it's supposed to be $72 million, but what has the government done? They've put $20 million forward, and I guess they're saying to farmers, "You are going to pay the rest." So let me say, you have a strange way of showing your friendliness to the farm community.
INTERNATIONAL HUMAN RIGHTS DAY
International Human Rights Day celebrates the drafting and passing of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights by the United Nations. Today is the 55th anniversary of that ratification. The Universal Declaration of Human Rights recognizes the inherent dignity and the equal rights of all people in all nations. It has served as a beacon of hope for the world for 55 years.
Today is a day where we remember and advocate for the freedoms of people who are not as fortunate as ourselves. Today we celebrate living in a country where basic human freedoms are enshrined. It is also a day to reflect on those freedoms and what they mean for us here in Ontario.
I hope all members of the House and people of Ontario reflect on what the Universal Declaration of Human Rights means and how fortunate we are, and will understand how much more there is to do.
BUSINESS IN PETERBOROUGH
Peterborough now boasts an enviable unemployment rate of 4.2% and a diverse array of job opportunities, from high-tech to manufacturing. The city is home to large employers such as General Electric and PepsiCo's Quaker Oats. Additionally, German electronics and electrical engineering giant Siemens Milltronics recently announced it would transfer one of its production lines from California to Peterborough. There are also a number of homegrown business success stories, such as Ventra Plastics and auto parts supplier Merit Precision Molding. Five new call centres have opened in the last four years. One of these is operated by the German airline Lufthansa.
The article credits our Greater Peterborough Area Economic Development Corp for actively seeking out new business investment. The GPAEDC has been one of the driving forces behind the DNA cluster: a private-public partnership that could result in an estimated 5,500 new jobs for Peterborough. The project would bring together all three levels of government, Trent, Sir Sandford Fleming College, as well as partners in the private sector. The cluster would further DNA research through commercialization.
I would like to commend the hard work of the GPAEDC for its contribution in creating a viable and sustainable local economy for our community. Thank you as well to the city and county of Peterborough for their leadership toward this goal.
I would also like to congratulate the people of Peterborough. A highly skilled and innovative workforce is a major factor in companies opening or relocating within our community. It is the people of Peterborough who make the difference and show our community for what it is.
I want to go on record and agree with the former Tory Minister of Health, Jim Wilson, when he boldly said in this House in 1996, "All members should be aware, because the government's already announced it, that 1996 will be the year we move ahead on primary care reform." That was talk. If I recall, the number of underserviced communities rose under his watch.
Two years later, in 1998, the next in a long line of Tory Ministers of Health, Elizabeth Witmer, stated, "This program" -- meaning their new primary care program -- "will mean more doctors in underserviced areas." That too was just talk. Again, I recall that the number of underserviced areas under her watch increased.
There are now 142 underserviced communities, a number that doubled while the previous government talked but did not act decisively. Many of those underserviced areas are in my riding of Perth-Middlesex. Last month the family doctors in my riding overwhelmingly endorsed this deal. Our Minister of Health, George Smitherman, listened to the concerns of doctors and improved that deal in six key areas.
The time for Tory talk has passed. Working with our most valued doctors, the time for Liberal action is now upon us.
REPORTS BY COMMITTEES
STANDING COMMITTEE ON
Bill 96, An Act to amend the Liquor Licence Act / Projet de loi 96, Loi modifiant la Loi sur les permis d'alcool.
All those in favour, please say "aye."
All those against, say "nay."
I think the ayes have it.
The bill is therefore ordered for third reading.
STANDING COMMITTEE ON
FINANCE AND ECONOMIC AFFAIRS
Bill 106, An Act to implement Budget measures and amend the Crown Forest Sustainability Act, 1994 / Projet de loi 106, Loi mettant en oeuvre certaines mesures budgétaires et modifiant la Loi de 1994 sur la durabilité des forêts de la Couronne, the title of which is amended to read "An Act to implement Budget measures / Loi mettant en oeuvre certaines mesures budgétaires."
All those in favour, say "aye."
All those against, say "nay."
I think the ayes have it.
Call in the members. This will be a five-minute bell.
The division bells rang from 1347 to 1352.
All those in favour, please rise one at a time and be counted by the Clerk.
Pursuant to the order of the House dated Tuesday, December 7, 2004, the bill is now ordered for third reading.
INTRODUCTION OF BILLS
FILM CLASSIFICATION ACT, 2004 /
LOI DE 2004
SUR LE CLASSEMENT DES FILMS
Mr Watson moved first reading of the following bill:
Bill 158, An Act to replace the Theatres Act and to amend other Acts in respect of film / Projet de loi 158, Loi remplaçant la Loi sur les cinémas et modifiant d'autres lois en ce qui concerne les films.
All those in favour, please say "aye."
All those against, say "nay."
I think the ayes have it.
PRIVATE SECURITY AND
INVESTIGATIVE SERVICES ACT, 2004 /
LOI DE 2004 SUR LES SERVICES PRIVÉS
DE SÉCURITÉ ET D'ENQUÊTE
Mr Kwinter moved first reading of the following bill:
Bill 159, An Act to revise the Private Investigators and Security Guards Act and to make a consequential amendment to the Licence Appeal Tribunal Act, 1999 / Projet de loi 159, Loi révisant la Loi sur les enquêteurs privés et les gardiens et apportant une modification corrélative à la Loi de 1999 sur le Tribunal d'appel en matière de permis.
All those in favour, please say "aye."
All those against, say "nay."
The ayes have it.
Call in the members. There will be a five-minute bell.
The division bells rang from 1402 to 1407.
STATEMENTS BY THE MINISTRY
FILM CLASSIFICATION /
CLASSEMENT DES FILMS
Comme le savent les députés de cette Chambre, le public est très préoccupé par les jeux vidéo violents et l'impact qu'ils peuvent avoir sur les enfants et les adolescents. Le public réclame des mesures depuis un bon moment déjà afin de protéger les enfants contre les jeux inappropriés.
With this legislation, the McGuinty government is taking action, and it's not shirking its responsibility. The new legislation continues to regulate the film exhibition and distribution sectors to ensure the industry complies with modern marketplace standards. Parents will get more information on the content and age-appropriateness of movies and video games, and kids will be unable to purchase or rent mature or adult-oriented material.
The important provisions in Bill 70, which was approved by this House just last week, dealing with video games are carried through with this particular piece of legislation.
By limiting the Ontario Film Review Board's authority to censor, this legislation also ensures that adults will be able to choose for themselves what products they wish to view.
I'm proud of the government's ability to provide a balanced and effective response to the many stakeholders affected by this much-needed legislation. As the Minister of Consumer and Business Services, I'm pleased that this legislation also deals with ways to ease the administrative burden for film distributors by creating the opportunity to harmonize classification standards and services with other provinces in Canada. Standardization will also provide more consistent information to the many consumers who are confused by the current overlapping and inconsistency of classification information.
In addition, moving age-specific requirements from the act into the regulations gives us the flexibility to adopt other industry rating systems as my ministry continues to pursue the implementation of a more national approach with other provinces.
On April 30, 2004, in the Glad Day Bookshops case, the Ontario Superior Court of Justice ruled that the Ontario Film Review Board's authority to approve and censor films was too broad and violated freedom of expression. The court suspended the effect of its decision for one year so that the government would have time to develop legislation that separates the board's approval and classification powers. That time is now. Our government has chosen not to appeal the court's decision. We decided instead to repeal the outdated Theatres Act and replace it with a modern and responsive legislative framework that meets the needs of Ontario citizens in the 21st century.
J'aimerais prendre un moment pour présenter aux députés ici les réformes importantes que contient le projet de loi.
Il importe de noter que la Loi sur les cinémas n'a jamais été mise à jour au complet dans 40 ans.
The current legislation is actually a patchwork of amendments containing, among other things, obsolete provisions, archaic language and enforcement standards that are generally at odds with modern statutes. Some 40 years ago, the pictures, as they were quaintly called, bore no resemblance to the films of today. Reforms are therefore needed to modernize classification standards to better protect consumers; respond to emerging media technologies; improve enforcement and more efficiently use enforcement resources; streamline licensing requirements, reducing costs for businesses and improving government efficiency; and facilitate harmonization of classification standards across Canada.
This new legislative framework reflects changes in the market, changes in technology and new approaches to government service delivery. This new legislation redefines the term "film" to include emerging media. Administratively, the reforms will create greater fairness and transparency.
The new act will harmonize key components like licensing and enforcement with other Ontario statutes and the film legislation of other provinces. The reforms will enable the government to streamline and improve service delivery by allowing us to enter into service delivery partnerships with other jurisdictions and governing bodies.
La modernisation de cette loi fait suite aux nombreux commentaires reçus des parents, des consommateurs ainsi que des entreprises de distribution de films et de production de jeux vidéo.
This legislation, in summary, if approved by honourable members in this chamber, will modernize Ontario's film classification system.
It's my privilege to introduce today a bill that will help make Ontarians safer. The proposed Private Security and Investigative Services Act, 2004, represents the first significant legislative changes regulating the security industry since the introduction of the Private Investigators and Security Guards Act in 1966. These changes are necessary to better protect Ontarians and reflect the role and growing numbers of security personnel in our society. There were 4,000 licensed security personnel in 1966, and that number is now at nearly 30,000. That's an increase of 725%.
If passed, the new act would create a more professional industry and improve community safety.
The proposed legislative changes would address the key issue of mandatory licensing, which means removing many current exemptions from the act. Approximately 20,000 individuals providing security services in Ontario are currently exempt from the act. If the Private Security and Investigative Services Act is passed, personnel whose main duties involve protecting people and property would have to be licensed.
The proposed legislation would also call for training standards that would have to be met prior to an applicant obtaining a licence. There would be made-in-Ontario training criteria, including use of force, first aid, and diversity sensitivity, which would be developed in collaboration with our shareholders. It is our intention to make this training as accessible as possible across Ontario and available from as many providers as possible.
If passed, the new act would also better reflect the nature of the work in the industry. We would make a licence portable and allow security personnel to change employers without having to reapply for a licence. There are approximately 50,000 new licence applications or renewal applications to the ministry every year, and only about 30,000 licence holders. The difference in the number of licensed personnel and the number of applications reflects the high turnover rate in this industry.
We will continue to work with our partners to address another key issue in the proposed legislation. Together, we will draft regulations for new standards for uniforms, equipment and vehicles used by security personnel.
We have worked with our partners to develop the new act, and we will continue to do so during its implementation.
I'd like to acknowledge the co-operation of the Association of Professional Security Agencies and the Council of Private Investigators of Ontario in working with us to reform the security industry. The association and the council have played a very useful role, and we hope to continue to build on this fruitful relationship and on our relationship with other stakeholders, such as the Ontario Association of Chiefs of Police.
I would also like to recognize the valuable work of members in this House for contributing to this legislation, starting with the honourable member for Brant, David Levac, in the area of identification standards; the honourable member for York West, Mario Sergio, for advocating mandatory licensing; and the honourable member for Simcoe North, Garfield Dunlop, for his proposals on civilian oversight and facilitators.
There would be a two-year phase-in period to allow for consultations on proposed regulations, standardized tests, providers of the training and testing to be identified, and for the industry to adapt to the new legislation.
We have already established a strong partnership with our stakeholders. In 2003, the ministry sent a discussion paper on the proposed changes to the Private Investigators and Security Guards Act to 600 stakeholders. Seventy-three written responses by individuals, associations and agencies were submitted to the ministry. We will continue to work with our partners to develop supporting regulations and to implement the new act over the next two years.
The new act also comes less than a year after the coroner's inquest into the death of Patrick Shand. Mr Shand was a Toronto man who died after an altercation with employees of a grocery store and security guards. I'm delighted that Mrs Ethel Shand, Patrick's mother, is in the members' east gallery. I would like to acknowledge that she is here.
Earlier this year, the coroner's jury made 22 recommendations on training, licensing and standards for security guards. The new act responds substantively to the recommendations and would, if passed, strengthen the level of training and professionalism of security personnel.
The new act is one more way we are working with our partners to deliver real, positive change that will make Ontario strong, healthy and prosperous. Ontario is already a safe province, but we can make it even safer. The Private Security and Investigative Services Act would help us achieve that goal.
FILM CLASSIFICATION /
CLASSEMENT DES FILMS
We heard the minister reference the member from Nepean-Carleton starring in a movie. I think he may have starred in the movie Honey, I Swelled My Head, and that might apply to many of his colleagues. We see it on a day-to-day basis in this place. They talk about things like democratic reform. Well, our critic couldn't be here today to respond to this because there was no notification. We had this dropped on our desks as we came into the House. That is the way they approach democratic reform: Ignore all of the members sitting in the opposition benches. That's a tradition on the front benches of the Liberal government.
We will take a close look at this. We'll give it careful consideration.
Patrick Shand died of injuries received during an altercation with store employees and security guards outside a Scarborough grocery store on September 14, 1999. On April 23, 2004, the coroner's inquest into the death of Mr Shand came up with 22 recommendations dealing with a broad range of issues, such as training and use of force.
On June 1, 2004, I introduced Bill 88, the Private Investigators and Security Guards Amendment Act, 2004. Three days later, Bill 88 passed second reading in the Ontario Legislature. Minister Kwinter supported that legislation.
I thought I would point out a few of the changes to the private security industry that would have been brought about under Bill 88 before the regulations process: mandatory, multi-level training and standards for use of force, firearms and making arrests; different classes and portability of licences; one-year term on all licences; restrictions on the equipment that licensees are authorized to use or are prohibited from using; prohibitions for licensees on uniforms, and markings and colours of security vehicles that resemble those of police officers; prohibitions on licensees on the use of badges or other insignia that resemble those of police officers; record-keeping of the use of force that is required to be reported annually.
We looked at the Shand inquiry very seriously and spent a lot of time with that, including the Police Association of Ontario, which helped us with the bill. I even included a section that protected people with disabilities. Where possible, my bill addressed each and every one of the Shand inquiry recommendations. Based on what I've seen so far about the legislation introduced today -- and I've only seen the compendium -- I'm concerned that Minister Kwinter's bill doesn't go far enough to immediately address the 22 recommendations of the Shand inquest. Too many of the most important recommendations from the inquest -- for example, the use of force and mandatory training -- have been left up to regulations for implementation at a later date, if at all.
In today's bill, it seems that those requirements on training and use of force are not specified. In fact, all I see that's specific in the compendium is a lot about who, what, when and how to get a licence but nothing specific about what happens after the licence is issued. The minister appears to have run out of steam after the licensing components of the bill and bumped everything else into regulations that he may prescribe, if at all.
I was quite amazed to learn that the McGuinty government will consult again on the new legislation when the Shand inquest recommended that the government act quickly, since the issues are already well known by the ministry.
I introduced this bill in early June. Six months have passed. In the spirit of democratic renewal, this bill could have been passed by now. It's a very tough bill, not the weak sister I see actually happening here today. I'm disappointed in that we've taken this long to come up with a piece of legislation that is going to rely so much on regulations.
The other thing that's important is that we talk about more consultation. Two weeks ago, when the Police Association of Ontario was here, all of a sudden option 4 was brought out without any consultation with the chiefs of police of Ontario. That's the type of move this minister is making. I'm disappointed, and at this point I will not be supporting this piece of legislation.
What's of concern is that the Shand inquest said that while it's important that all stakeholders be consulted, the ministry has had many years to consult and the time for action is now. There's no time for protracted development of regulations; I'm concerned that the minister has already indicated that some of those regulations may not be available until 2007.
It's of concern that while the government says it has consulted, it has failed to consult with the largest single group of organized security guards, those members of the United Steelworkers of America. I urge the minister, in the course of the development of this legislation and its process through this Legislature, to meaningfully speak with security guards themselves and, as importantly, those trade unions which represent those security guards, the largest single representative, of course, being the United Steelworkers of America.
Quite frankly, the key to reforming this industry is reforming labour relations. It is imperative that security guards have successor rights. As well, Minister, you know that security guards are among the lowest-paid workers in this province. If we're going to create a climate and a standard for security guards which compels them to be more thoroughly and adequately trained and to engage in constant and ongoing retraining, we have to ensure that these workers receive wages that are commensurate with the skills they're expected to have and exercise in the course of performing their duties. We can't have security guards relegated to a low-wage, poverty ghetto and then call upon them to undergo the training and meet the standards that all of us will insist be established in your legislation and the accompanying regulations.
We agree that the issue of uniforms and the appearance of security guards is very important. I take note of your observation that since 1966 we've had a 725% increase in the number of security guards; we now have 30,000-plus here in Ontario. Understand what that really means. It means that more and more communities across this province are relying on privatized policing rather than being able to have confidence in our publicly funded, publicly supervised police forces. Get more police officers out on the street. Assist communities across this province, big city through small town, in meeting minimum standards for staffing, training and resourcing their own publicly paid and publicly supervised police officers, and we won't encounter some of the obvious difficulties we do with private policing services that have their guards masquerade as police officers in cars with red lights and in uniforms that are designed to be facsimiles of police officers' uniforms.
I say to you, under your new regime of classification, how would the movie Pinocchio be rated? I'm urged to request of you, by colleagues sitting around me, how that movie with the great Canadian actor Jim Carrey, Liar Liar, would be rated by the Liberals' new regulatory scheme vis-à-vis film in Ontario.
Pinocchio, Liar Liar -- I don't know. Get on with the job. You should have been on to it already.
AMENDMENT ACT (HOURS OF WORK
AND OTHER MATTERS), 2004 /
LOI DE 2004 MODIFIANT LA LOI
SUR LES NORMES D'EMPLOI
(HEURES DE TRAVAIL ET AUTRES
Deferred vote on the motion for third reading of Bill 63, An Act to amend the Employment Standards Act, 2000 with respect to hours of work and certain other matters / Projet de loi 63, Loi modifiant la Loi de 2000 sur les normes d'emploi en ce qui concerne les heures de travail et d'autres questions.
The division bells rang from 1432 to 1437.
Be it resolved that the bill be now passed and be entitled as in the motion.
PUBLIC SAFETY RELATED TO DOGS
STATUTE LAW AMENDMENT ACT, 2004 /
LOI DE 2004 MODIFIANT DES LOIS
EN CE QUI CONCERNE LA SÉCURITÉ
PUBLIQUE RELATIVE AUX CHIENS
Deferred vote on the motion for second reading of Bill 132, An Act to Amend the Dog Owners Liability Act to increase public safety in relation to dogs, including pit bulls, and to make related amendments to the Animals for Research Act / Projet de loi 132, Loi modifiant la Loi sur la responsabilité des propriétaires de chiens pour accroître la sécurité publique relativement aux chiens, y compris les pit-bulls, et apportant des modifications connexes à la Loi sur les animaux destinés à la recherche.
The division bells rang from 1441 to 1446.
Shall the bill be ordered for third reading?
The Peterborough Regional Health Centre is about to be put on fiscal life support. Your order for the hospital to cut spending by at least $8 million will have real and immediate consequences to patients in Peterborough and the surrounding area.
Minister, it's not rocket science. A hospital that is already overloaded cannot lay off 124 nurses and health care workers, close 32 beds and reduce health care in 10 areas, yet provide the same level of service. It has the busiest emergency ward in the province. In recent months, 129 patients have had their scheduled surgeries cancelled, which had a devastating effect on them and their families.
The day-to-day reality of hospital care in Peterborough gives the lie to the claim that a higher level of care or even the same, inadequate level is possible with fewer resources. Minister, will you stand in your place and will you back off this attempt to squeeze $8 million from patient care in Peterborough?
We do acknowledge, further, that our government has invested more than $16 million in the community of Peterborough for a variety of community health services, all of which are designed, frankly, to address one present reality in Peterborough which is the legacy of that party while in government: Their inability to have primary care that works in communities has meant that Peterborough is a community with challenges.
With respect to the hospital budget, let me be very clear to the honourable member. We have a process, we're at the beginning stages of it, and he wants to bring forward those things that may have been proposed, but I do remind him we are not at a point in the process where any cut that he may talk about has been accepted.
I wrote to you and gave you some information on an article I picked up in Peterborough, drawing to your attention, "Peterborough Regional Health Centre in Dire Straits."
Today I read the paper and here I've got Wendy Fucile, vice-president of nursing services, referring to cuts to postpartum clinics, breastfeeding clinics, cervical cancer and other programs. She says these are painful decisions.
Minister, it's clear. I sent you a letter on October 25. You still have not responded to the question with respect to the Peterborough Regional Health Centre capital project.
Today, I'm asking you if you can just, for the record and for the people of Ontario, stand in your place and make it clear that the status of the Peterborough Regional Health Centre will be committed, as Tony Clement committed in 2003.
What we have inherited is a party that ran amok all across the province of Ontario, in one venue after the next, presenting plastic cheques, which turned out to be rubber cheques.
The reality is very clear. I say on the issue of capital, if you'd listened to my first answer, what you would have heard very clearly from me. Something that I presented to the mayor directly, something that I've spoken to the hospital CEO about very directly, is that this government stands behind the commitment to enhance health services in the Peterborough community through the construction of a new hospital facility.
We're marking an anniversary today. One year ago this week, you stood in your place and promised that that hospital expansion would proceed on schedule and on time. Since that time, not a single approval has been granted and not a single dollar has flowed.
This is starting to have real consequences for people in Peterborough. The community has raised its share of the money. The county has come to the table to raise its share of the money, and the city of Peterborough is delivering on its commitment. The only person who is backing out from his responsibility and his commitment is you, Minister. Will you stand in your place and will you now commit that you will immediately flow the money and allow the expansion of the new hospital in Peterborough to be built, just as you promised to do 12 months ago? Will you do that, Minister?
Notwithstanding all of that, what I want to say to the honourable member, which I've said in the presence of that honourable member and I've gone to the Peterborough community and said, as has our Premier, is that this is a project which we support and will move forward on.
I really suggest to the honourable member that you do just a little bit of research. You've said that they've raised their local share, but the reality of the Peterborough build is that a significant portion of the local share is expected to be financed through operational savings, and this means we have some hard work to do to make sure the budget of the hospital in Peterborough is in balance, because the legacy of your party while in government is not one that stands up very well to the test of the people of Ontario.
I have shared that document with you to share with your staff several days ago. Your spokesperson, Danna O'Brien, said it was not sent out by the ministry or by Edelman. Will you confirm Ms O'Brien's statement? Minister, what role did your ministry or Edelman play with that inflammatory document?
I am not going to stand here and apologize for fighting for the rights of Ontarians. We are fighting for the rights of the people. I also want to make it very clear that we are not against the company. We are defending our rights that are available to us under the terms of the contract, and we will continue to do so.
Minister, I'm going to send you a document that was e-mailed to Spanish journalists by an employee from Edelman in Madrid -- to the minister. In this e-mail, the Edelman employee refers to this backgrounder I sent you and attached a copy to it. He also suggests that interested journalists contact directly your press secretary, Danna O'Brien.
Minister, you refuse to deny that you had no role in this, but this document says otherwise. Minister, come clean. Don't try to cover this up. What role are your ministry and Edelman playing with this inflammatory document?
Let me give you one more piece of information. When you look at the electronic document and you check the properties of that electronic document, it was written by Kevin Powers, an employee of Edelman in the city of Toronto. Ms O'Brien, your spokesperson, said one thing, you're backing her up, and the facts say just the opposite. Come clean.
WOMEN'S COLLEGE HOSPITAL
Today, the chair of the hospital foundation's board of directors said your claims are "absolutely without foundation."
Minister, were you misinformed by Liberal research on this issue or did you get it wrong all by yourself?
Is it the position of the New Democratic Party of Ontario, with respect to the future of hospital development, that if a local community does not have the capacity to raise its local share, they should finance that on the back of their ongoing operating budget? That is the position that hospital is taking.
So, yes, he said that they thought through this; they've been to the bank; they can get short-term financing; they can do the other fundraising. My question to you is, when will you quit stalling? Announce that you're approving the project and put the Ministry of Health's money in.
The reality of this capital project is a challenging one on a number of fronts. It's a $300-million redevelopment. Notwithstanding the honourable member's view that all you've got to do is say, "Go ahead," and all the money will flow, the reality is that the hospital -- and I have met with George Fierheller, who is the chair of the fundraising campaign -- is not certain of their capacity to be able to raise all of the necessary funds. They have suggested that, in the alternative, they would seek to pay for hospital capital from their base budget, those operating dollars. We all know that's a very precarious situation. What we're interested in is being able to secure at the earliest opportunity, on behalf of those patients that you spoke of, the necessary capital environment. That's what we will do.
I'll tell you what's happening here: You want to hold up this project, and so you're looking for any excuse whatsoever to hold it up.
Announce that you approve this project, announce that you're putting the money in, and this hospital and this group of people will be able to raise their final share. Will you do that, or are you going to continue to stall?
Coming from an honourable member who was part of a government that didn't build one stitch of hospital in a period of time, it comes as no surprise whatsoever that the honourable member is a proponent of funding hospital capital from the ongoing operating of that facility. I'm not convinced that that is in the best interests of the patients of the province of Ontario.
With respect to these young patients in the NICU at Women's College Hospital, we are going to make sure, on an expedited basis, that we make a decision that gets them the enhanced level of care that we all seek, and we're doing that fast.
Yesterday, the Quebec government sent a very clear signal to Bombardier to build the assembly plant there. They announced $750 million in loan guarantees. The question is, what is your government's plan? We haven't seen one so far.
I can tell you this: We are pursuing this opportunity most aggressively. I can say we're building on a very strong foundation. In fact, I am pleased to report that in our first year, this government has created almost more than three times as many jobs as the Tory government did in its first year: from June 1995 to June 1996, 40,700; in our first year, over 116,000 jobs. We consider that a very good opening track record, and that's the approach we will bring to dealing with this opportunity and so many others.
This is the opportunity to relaunch Ontario's aerospace industry. It looks as if you've completely thrown in the towel. It look as if you don't have a strategy so you make something up every day that I ask this question. What's your government's plan? What's your strategy? When are you going to announce it?
It's very clear -- in fact, this was debated in the Quebec Legislature. This is what the leader of the opposition had to say. He accused the Premier of Quebec and said that Ontario was trying to steal Quebec's aerospace industry. That's what he was accusing the Premier of Quebec of doing.
Ontario is engaged. We are engaged. We have an aerospace strategy. It includes the federal government and also includes, for your information, the government of Quebec. We are working together. For the first time, that's happening across this country. You would have us deal with things in the status quo fashion. We're moving away from that. We will secure aerospace work for our workers in Ontario.
I didn't want to bring this up in question period, but I've written several times to your Minister of Finance. I've had phone conversations with Peter Wilkinson, his chief of staff. I've met with the Deputy Minister of Finance about this issue. All have promised, on behalf of your government, that they would correct this mistake that was made in the past.
You've had 14 months to correct the mistake. Condominium owners can't wait any longer. When are you going to live up to your promise and help the condominium owners and the Town of the Blue Mountains?
I can say to the member opposite that if he provides me with details, I will undertake to get back to him on this.
Another constituent, Donnie Bond, has seen his tax bill exceed $7,000 per year. Some of these condominiums are, at the largest, 1,100 square feet. It's ridiculous.
When are you going to live up to your promise? Here's one promise that you can keep that doesn't cost you anything, and everybody agrees it needs to be done.
I have given my word that we will look into the matter. He has brought this to my attention. I give him my assurance that I will look into this.
Mr Hudak was escorted from the chamber.
Then, the bad news and the twist: Mrs Peliti is on social assistance. Mrs Peliti knows that gifts like this are usually clawed back because of punitive regulations that your government continues to enforce.
Minister, Mrs Peliti is here with her two sons today in the visitors' gallery and she wants to hear directly from you. She wants to hear, and all Ontario wants to hear, can this honest woman keep her money or is your government going to --
I doubt you'll give me another chance for a supplementary after that, so let me get this in right now: I will tell you that under a Liberal government, that is the way we think. We think that our social assistance system has to help people, that it has to treat people with dignity, and that is a sincere change from where we were a year ago.
Instead, our government's approach is clear: We don't listen to the Fraser Institute; we listen to people like Roy Romanow and we move forward with meaningful reform, like the Commitment to the Future of Medicare Act, which brings in strict prohibitions on queue-jumping and pay-your-way-to-the-front-of-the-line services. We're a government that's dedicated to the view that medicare is the best expression of Canadian values. We're working hard to inform Ontarians and to build on the capacities of our public health care system. We don't think privatization is the solution that John Tory and his friends opposite do.
In yesterday's article, Tory targeted MRIs. He is calling for private MRI clinics. He is clearly out of touch. If he talked to the people in my riding of London North Centre, he would know they do not want increased privatization of health care; what they want is good, reliable public health care.
Minister, can you assure the constituents of my riding that we are done with the days of accessing MRIs with a credit card, that we say what we mean and mean what we say when we talk about public health services for everyone?
That is the evidence that the people of Ontario need. They need to know, and they see from their government, that we're committed to medicare, not pay-your-way-to-the-front-of-the-line health care, as proposed by John Tory.
Mr Minister, you are the government now. You guys are the government. Do you realize that maybe we're over here because we didn't move on some of these issues? You're over there, and it's time you started making some decisions, and I've got one for you to start with.
The chief of the Mildmay-Carrick volunteer fire department was recently forced to resign because he was deemed to be a double-hatter firefighter. This man was the chief for over eight years, and did a tremendous job protecting the safety of the people in my riding. Mr Minister, do you think that the forced resignation of this fire chief makes my riding a safer place to live in?
The minister just said that the double-hatter issue should be resolved through collective bargaining, and yet he knows full well that this is impossible --
My question is this: Is it going to take a tragedy involving the avoidable loss of human life before this government takes action on this vital public safety issue?
I maintain again that I am concerned about the safety of people who are getting service; I want to make sure that's maintained. I have the utmost faith in the fire marshal, and until he declares that there is an emergency or a safety concern, we are looking at the collective bargaining process to resolve it.
Minister, that's not unique. You've described virtually every workplace in Ontario. Today's workplace is filled with part-time contingent workers, and you're saying that their rights on the job don't matter. Why will you not extend card certification to all workers in this province so that all are equally entitled to join and belong to a union?
The amendments we have proposed to the Labour Relations Act are in fact a very significant advance for the working people of this province. They help to restore the balance. The general rights that apply to all include remedial certification, so that we can deal with the worst abuses and the worst cases; and interim reinstatement, so that during the course of an organizing drive, if an employer takes steps that he or she should not be taking and poisons the well, there can be remedial steps by the Ontario Labour Relations Board.
We have, in addition, recognizing the specific character and the special nature of construction, which has its own part of the act, extended card-based certification --
Card-based certification is hardly a radical proposal. It was the law in Ontario for decades under NDP, Liberal and Conservative governments. Minister, show the courage that workers expect of you to restore the law as it existed under Bill Davis. In fact, pass the NDP Bill 151 today and give all workers in Ontario the same right to join a union.
The fact of the matter is, we have worked hard to protect the rights of workers in all spheres in this province, especially the most vulnerable: our employment standards advances, very significant advances, in Bill 63 to ensure that the most vulnerable have their rights protected; raising minimum wage for the first time in nine years; actually enforcing the Employment Standards Act, which they did not do while they were in government -- and that was made clear in the auditor's report that came down just the other week, the problems in enforcing the act which the NDP found when they became the government. The act that protects the most vulnerable, they ignored for five years in government, and now they pretend to stand up and defend the most vulnerable. That's shameful conduct. We're doing what they should have done years ago. We actually walk the walk and don't just talk the talk.
Minister, as you are aware, the lives of many, many people have been affected and touched by the issues surrounding these allegations. The citizens, the police forces, the public organizations and those who work in the justice system have been touched.
On November 29, you came to my community and brought these groups together in a unique round table. You came to Cornwall to listen to the concerns of these groups and to ensure that they had input into what the terms of reference for this inquiry should entail. Your commitment to getting these terms of reference right and listening to the community is appreciated.
Now that you have met with the community and heard their concerns, can you tell us what the next steps are, and, in particular, can you tell us when you will officially call the inquiry?
I say to you, Mr Speaker, this member has been a relentless and tireless champion on this issue, fighting for his constituents, fighting to get the result that they deserve and that they are now finally going to get. We are having a public inquiry in Cornwall: no ifs, no ands, no buts.
Our ministry funds the Men's Project, which is based in Ottawa but also operates in Cornwall. The Men's Project was set up to provide services to male survivors of sexual assault in the Project Truth investigation. We've been working very closely with the Men's Project to ensure that it effectively meets the needs of its clients and will continue to do so, and we will ensure that the counselling and support services are available to victims throughout the inquiry.
I have in my hand a letter that was sent to you by the mayor of Markham, and he points out that Hydro One says it can't be held accountable for the health impacts of the EMFs caused by high-voltage electrical transmission lines because there are no federal guidelines. He goes on in this letter to urge you not to permit Hydro One to push ahead with its class EA process and filing a final environmental study until the federal government comes back with a renewed position, and he calls on you to initiate a process, together with the federal government, so that the appropriate statistics about EMFs are available. Will you do that, Minister?
On December 8, 2004, the Hydro One corridor task force conducted additional discussions. I would urge the member to urge his constituents, including Mayor Cousens, whom I've had the opportunity to speak with as well, to work through this process. We believe it's appropriate. We believe it affords the community the opportunities it needs. I remind the member that at the end of the day, the eventual decision, should it come to that, will rest with the board of directors of Hydro One.
My question was to the Minister of Health. There is a direct appeal to the Minister of Health to initiate, together with the federal government, a study that will in fact confirm the details about the dangers of EMFs to the residents of this area. I will call again on the Minister of Health to stand in his place today and to say that he will, together with the Minister of Health, initiate a study for the federal level of government so that we can have, as the Minister of Energy indicates, the appropriate information that can be assessed during the environmental study. Will the Minister of Health do that?
GRAPE AND WINE INDUSTRY
This is legislation that allows 70% of juice in a so-called bottle of Ontario wine to be juices from outside Ontario, from places like Chile or the United States. Minister, when is your government going to amend the Wine Content Act so that it no longer discriminates against Ontario grape growers, Niagara grape growers and wineries, while supporting vineyards and wineries in Chile and the United States?
I would be happy to share the views that have been expressed, not only by the member, who I know has been concerned about this for some period of time, but also by other members of the House. Each time this matter has come before members of three different governments in terms of political stripe, and probably five or six different governments in terms of the Premier of the day, and the minister of the day, there has been considerable discussion taking place about it. I will be very pleased to share my friend's views on this important issue with the minister, because I think he recognizes it is extremely timely, particularly when there's a discussion of greenbelt legislation which would impact --
Now, as a member of Dalton McGuinty's cabinet, are you going to stand up in this House and confirm that you still believe that, or have you changed your mind, and is that why you're not advocating for vineyards and grape growers in Niagara?
Having said that, I recognize that there is input that has come from the farming community, and I'm always happy to share that input with the Minister of Agriculture and Food, the Minister of Consumer and Business Services and others who have specific responsibilities. But I note that the member, when he was minister, did not make changes to the legislation, nor did the Conservative government, nor did --
OCCUPATIONAL HEALTH AND SAFETY
Can you update us on some of your new initiatives aimed at making sure workers get home safely at the end of the day, Minister?
The fact is, workplace injuries take a terrible human toll in every workplace in this province. Some 300,000 people every year are injured in workplace incidents, so we've taken action. We announced in July the hiring of 200 health and safety inspectors, and I'm pleased to announce that I'm going to be seeing the first 100 of them start their training next week. That's real progress. They'll be targeted to the riskiest workplaces. The fact of the matter is that only 2% of workplaces account for 10% of the injuries and 21% of the costs. If we can address those, we'll make a substantial improvement in workplace health and safety.
I'm looking forward to the supplementary.
There's something else he's been talking about: He's asked me about the business cost of workplace injuries. It's estimated that every year injuries cost businesses $12 billion in lost productivity, retraining, rehiring and increased WSIB costs. So if we could improve workplace health and safety, we could benefit not only the workers, but all of the --
We know you're in negotiations. We wonder what's going to take place, how the negotiations are going. Second, if they fall through, where are you going to go with court facilities in the region of Durham?
"Whereas many volunteer fire departments in Ontario are strengthened by the service of double-hatter firefighters who work as professional, full-time firefighters and also serve as volunteer firefighters on their free time and in their home communities; and
"Whereas the Ontario Professional Fire Fighters Association has declared their intent to phase out these double-hatter firefighters; and
"Whereas double-hatter firefighters are being threatened by the union" actions "and forced to resign as volunteer firefighters or face losing their full-time jobs....
"We, the undersigned, petition the Legislative Assembly of Ontario that the provincial government express public support for MPP Ted Arnott's Bill 52 and willingness to pass it into law or introduce similar legislation that protects the right of firefighters to volunteer in their home communities on their own free time."
"Whereas the Ontario Liberal government took an historic step forward by funding a tuition fee freeze for two years; and
"Whereas a majority of Ontarians support increased public funding for colleges and universities as well as reduced tuition fees; and
"Whereas increasing student debt through income-contingent loan repayment schemes or raising loan limits only increases the cost of post-secondary education for students from modest means; and
"Whereas per student investment in Ontario still lags gravely behind the vast majority of jurisdictions in North America;
"Therefore we, the undersigned, supporting the Canadian Federation of Students' call to increase funding for colleges and universities and reduce tuition fees for all Ontario students, petition the Legislative Assembly of Ontario to (1) reduce tuition fees for all students in Ontario, (2) increase public funding for post-secondary education to at least the national average, and (3) implement an upfront, needs-based grant system for Ontario full-time and part-time students."
I also sign this petition.
"Whereas people of all ages with cancer have the right to seek treatment in their own area without the added trauma and obstacles imposed by having to travel great distances while unwell; and
"Whereas the citizens of Barrie and Innisfil have shown their good faith and continue to fundraise for their share of the cost for the development of a regional cancer centre, enabling area patients to receive their life-saving treatment close to home, near their family and friends; and
"Whereas the building of a regional cancer care centre will remove the barrier for area patients to receive their life-saving treatment close to home;
"We, the undersigned, petition the Legislature of Ontario to provide the approvals and funding necessary to commence construction of the Royal Victoria Hospital cancer care centre."
I support this and affix my signature.
"Whereas consumers of alcoholic beverages should be fully aware of the dangers and effects of consuming alcohol during pregnancy. In Canada, it is estimated that up to three in every 1,000 babies are born with fetal alcohol spectrum disorder.... FASD has been recognized in Canada as one of the leading causes of preventable birth defects and developmental delay in children.... We propose an amendment to act 43, which legislates signage in all facilities that sell alcoholic beverages. Our proposal is that, in addition to signage, warnings should be printed on the labels of alcoholic beverage containers, indicating that drinking during pregnancy can cause FASD.
"We ... petition the Legislative Assembly as follows."
"Whereas many volunteer fire departments in Ontario are strengthened by the service of double-hatter firefighters who work as professional, full-time firefighters and also serve as volunteer firefighters on their free time and in their home communities; and
"Whereas the Ontario Professional Fire Fighters Association has declared their intent to `phase out' these double-hatter firefighters; and
"Whereas double-hatter firefighters are being threatened by the union leadership and forced to resign as volunteer firefighters or face losing their full-time jobs, and this is weakening volunteer fire departments in Ontario; and
"Whereas Waterloo-Wellington MPP Ted Arnott has introduced Bill 52, the Volunteer Firefighters Employment Protection Act, that would uphold the right to volunteer and solve this problem concerning public safety in Ontario;
"We, the undersigned, petition the Legislative Assembly of Ontario as follows:
"That the provincial government express public support for MPP Ted Arnott's Bill 52 and willingness to pass it into law or introduce similar legislation that protects the right of firefighters to volunteer in their home communities on their own free time."
It's signed by hundreds of people from my riding.
ORDERS OF THE DAY
RESTRUCTURING ACT, 2004 /
LOI DE 2004 SUR LA RESTRUCTURATION
DU SECTEUR DE L'ÉLECTRICITÉ
Mr Duncan moved third reading of the following bill:
Bill 100, An Act to amend the Electricity Act, 1998 and the Ontario Energy Board Act, 1998 and to make consequential amendments to other Acts / Projet de loi 100, Loi modifiant la Loi de 1998 sur l'électricité, la Loi de 1998 sur la Commission de l'énergie de l'Ontario et apportant des modifications corrélatives à d'autres lois.
Bill 100 is a major response to key concerns, a bill that redresses past challenges and maps out a clear direction for the future. Consider where we were 14 months ago when we took office. There was no stability in the electricity sector. There was confusion. There was an utter lack of confidence by investors. Our government was determined to set it right and to bring long overdue stability and balance back to the sector.
The historical model for electricity in Ontario, the old Ontario Hydro, was an unregulated monopoly. After many years of success in the first half of the 20th century, the company began to lose its way and, by the mid-1990s, it was responsible for more than $38 billion of debt.
Our predecessors in government tried to address this problem by taking a radically different approach. They broke up Ontario Hydro, dismantled the central planning infrastructure that was at the heart of the old system and created a market. However, by fully entrusting Ontario's electricity supply to the market, they exposed Ontarians to unacceptable volatility and unacceptable risks to the adequacy of supply.
Bill 100 would bring Ontario's electricity sector to a point between these two extremes: a point where Ontarians can be confident about the future adequacy of supply, while investors know that Ontario is a safe and inviting place to invest; a point where Ontario's electricity sector can find stability so that it will serve Ontarians for many years to come; a point where Ontarians will be able to depend on a reliable, sustainable and diverse supply of affordable power; a point at which the environmental footprint of the electricity sector is progressively reduced.
Bill 100 is not a stand-alone piece of legislation. It is, instead, an extensive set of amendments to two pre-existing acts: the Electricity Act and the Ontario Energy Board Act. As a result, it should be read in conjunction with those two pieces of legislation to understand the full picture of the resulting structure of the electricity sector in Ontario. What would result from these changes is a more robust and improved legislative framework.
The most important element of Bill 100 is the creation of a new institution, the Ontario Power Authority. The authority would have the ultimate responsibility for ensuring the long-term adequacy of supply in Ontario. To support this mandate, the authority would be responsible for medium- and long-term electricity demand and supply forecasting, conservation and load management, and procurement of electricity capacity or supply as necessary.
The principal means for the OPA's fulfillment of its responsibility in the electricity sector would be the integrated power supply plan. This is a crucial new development in Ontario's electricity sector. The old Ontario Hydro periodically developed a long-term plan, but the last time this was done was 1989. Since then, the Ontario electricity sector has operated without an overall direction. The integrated power supply plan would be a public document, transparent, thoroughly scrutinized and subject to review and updating.
The Minister of Energy would kick off the preparation of the plan by providing to the OPA a series of directives. These directives would embody the intentions of the government of the day with respect to energy policy issues where there remains a clear and enduring public interest. They would include a target for energy conservation, a target for the use of clean, renewable energy, and a target for the relative mix of long-term supply sources in the sector with a particular focus on the use of nuclear energy.
The ministerial directives would form the core around which the plan would be developed. The OPA, in consultation with stakeholders and based on the best technical advice and forecasting available, would prepare a plan for conservation, supply and transmission that would achieve the targets. At all times, the obligation of the OPA would be to ensure the long-term adequacy of supply in the province according to planning principles generally accepted in the energy sector. In doing this work, the OPA would call upon all the resources at its disposal.
It is expected that the OPA would include at least three branches: the conservation bureau, a division responsible for forecasting, and a division responsible for procurement. Each would contribute to the planning process according to their area of expertise.
As I noted, it is the government's intention that the OPA would prepare the plan in consultation with stakeholders. While a variety of processes could be used to satisfy this intention, it is important to note that the OPA as an organization is intended to be administrative in nature and therefore will not conduct consultations through hearings or similar adversarial proceedings. The OPA would develop consultative processes appropriate to its needs in preparing the plan.
Once the plan is complete and approved for publication by the OPA board of directors, it would be transmitted to the Ontario Energy Board. The OEB, as regulator, would be responsible for the review of the plan in a timely manner as set out by the minister in regulation.
The OEB would review the plan using its normal public hearings process, which would provide interveners an opportunity to comment on the plan as proposed by the OPA and ensure full public transparency about the future of the sector.
The OEB would focus on three requirements: first, that the plan as proposed by the OPA would fulfill the minister's directives; second, that it fulfill those directives in an efficient and economically prudent manner; and third, consistent with its statutory mandate, that consumer interests are protected in the plan.
It is the government's intention that the OEB thoroughly consider the plan proposed by the OPA, but within the limits of time and scope set out by the OEB's objectives and governing regulations.
Ultimately, the purpose of the OEB review is to ensure the plan would be a reasonable course of action to fulfill the government's intentions and ensure supply adequacy in the province. If the OEB finds fault with the plan, then it would be referred back to the OPA for reconsideration and resubmission to the OEB. When approved by the OEB, the plan would become a guide for the electricity sector and, in particular, for the government institutions within it.
Conservation would be a cornerstone of the plan and is a high priority for our government. Creating a conservation culture in Ontario is overdue, essential and a key element in ensuring long-term prosperity by limiting our energy supply needs.
The conservation bureau, situated within the Ontario Power Authority and led by the chief energy conservation officer of Ontario, would play a key role in promoting conservation and delivering province-wide conservation programs.
The bureau would be responsible for determining the potential for energy conservation in Ontario, based on available technology and economic conditions. An annual report would be publicly delivered, which would be a lightning rod for public attention on energy conservation, providing a venue to highlight significant opportunities for action, whether by the government or the private sector.
The bureau would work with other institutions and stakeholders in the energy sector to promote the adoption of energy-saving technologies and to educate the public on the importance of conservation. Providing conservation tools and opportunities to consumers, either directly through province-wide programs or through partners, would be a key part of the bureau's activities.
The bureau, as part of the Ontario Power Authority, would contribute to the development of the integrated power supply plan, ensuring that the plan would properly take into account all opportunities for conservation. Through its own activities, the bureau would then seek to ensure that the conservation portion of the plan is carried out.
Conservation will help to limit the need for electricity supply in Ontario, but supply will always be required. Electricity and other forms of energy are an essential part of our economy and are literally all around us.
Ontario is blessed with an abundance of natural resources, including opportunities to harness clean, renewable energy, such as results from hydroelectric dams and windmills. In addition, Ontario has relied on diverse sources of electric power, including fossil fuels and nuclear energy. Other sources of electricity are constantly being developed or refined, including energy from biomass, solar energy, geothermal energy and hydrogen-based fuel cells. In the future, all of these can be expected to be important to Ontario in varying degrees.
However, building and operating electricity generation facilities is an expensive and risky undertaking. Capital costs are high, the lifetime of most facilities is measured in decades, and a highly trained and costly labour force is required to operate plants safely and efficiently.
But consumption varies from year to year, and new technologies and upstart competitors can render expensive facilities obsolete before their usefulness expires.
This is the conundrum that has always faced electricity planners: how to ensure that supply adequacy is never jeopardized, while at the same time encouraging efficiency so that electricity costs can be controlled.
Fully centralized systems like the old Ontario Hydro result in risks being fully assumed by ratepayers or taxpayers. The result of that was the massive stranded debts that are still being borne by the people of this province.
Bill 100 would see a mixed system of supply to answer this need.
Ontario would have a combination of regulated generation facilities providing continuous power and other facilities competing in the marketplace to provide electricity to consumers. This element of competition and risk sharing with private investors in the market would provide a higher level of discipline on all electricity suppliers and reduce the risks borne by Ontario's ratepayers.
The electricity market would be operated by the Independent Electricity System Operator. Bill 100 would continue the bulk of the operations of the current Independent Electricity Market Operator, with some changes. The responsibility for medium- and long-term demand forecasting would be moved to the new OPA. In addition, responsibility for the market surveillance panel would be transferred to the Ontario Energy Board. In most other respects, however, the market would continue to operate as it does now.
The integrated plan would identify how much generation is needed in different parts of the province and of what type, whether baseload, intermediate or peaking. To the extent that new facilities are required to meet these needs, the plan would provide clear signals to potential investors and developers.
It should be noted that demand-side management measures can sometimes be substitutes for generation. Arrangements for load shifting or voluntary demand curtailment can be used as an alternative to peak generation capacity and represent a significant opportunity for future development.
If no entity comes forward to take advantage of opportunities identified in the plan, whether to provide needed supply or stimulate demand-side measures, then the OPA would have the ability to encourage the building of generation capacity through procurement processes.
While an obvious tool for procurement would be a request-for-proposal process or some other form of contracting, these need not be the only ways to ensure that adequate long-term electricity supply is developed in the province. It is possible that the market could evolve, as it has in some other jurisdictions, to provide generators and potential generators with appropriate incentives to invest. A fully mature market is not likely to be limited to the so-called spot or real-time market.
In the future, it is expected that various forward markets for energy and capacity could be developed. These would help to ensure that generators have sufficient certainty in a competitive environment to take on the risks associated with construction of new facilities.
Moving forward with this market evolution in a prudent and cost-effective manner would be a key priority for the IESO. Doing so would allow the Ontario Power Authority to leave the development of new generation to the market, rather than relying on contracting processes.
Along with conservation and generation, delivery of electricity through transmission and distribution would form a fundamental part of the integrated plan. High-voltage transmission in particular would be a focus for the OPA's planning function.
In many instances, new transmission and additional local generation can be substitutes for each other in solving local supply problems. The OPA will be responsible for examining these choices and determining which are preferable according to a variety of factors, including cost efficiency, reliability, safety and sustainability.
A key objective of this bill is the reduction of the environmental footprint of the electricity system as a whole. While the burning of fossil fuels is often the most visible sign of the environmental cost of our electricity system, it should also be noted that the construction of high-voltage transmission systems, often cutting through otherwise untouched parts of our province, represents a serious environmental issue.
Where possible and economically feasible, it is desirable that Ontario move to a more distributed system of electricity generation, where clean generation capacity is situated close to the consumers who require the power.
Historically, Ontario Hydro built our electricity system along the opposite lines, with a small number of very large generation facilities and an extensive system of wires. It will take many years, and even decades, to slowly move our grid to a greater balance between small and large generation facilities. In the meantime, many technical barriers to changing the nature of the grid must be overcome.
Distribution will largely be outside the scope of the integrated plan, but not entirely so. In some cases, small generation facilities are able to supply power directly to their local areas on low-voltage distribution wires.
All generation, whether large or small, that participates in the market for electricity needs to be included within the scope of the integrated plan to ensure that all factors affecting reliability are taken into account. Only generation facilities that are truly outside of the grid, typically because they are located within a consumer facility, such as a large factory, should exist outside of the plan.
Distribution companies may also be important conduits for conservation programs, and in that way would also be affected by the plan.
Finally, the OEB will also play a role not only in the approval of the integrated plan, but also in its implementation, by using the regulatory authorities and instruments at its disposal to facilitate and expedite the accomplishment of specific elements of the plan.
The OEB would continue to license all players in the electricity system, set transmission and distribution rates, and would also set the prices for the regulated generation facilities and design the regulated price plan that would be available to designated consumers. In performing all of these functions, the OEB would ensure consistency with the integrated plan. Rates and prices should be consistent with conservation plans and the need for new supply or transmission facilities.
In addition, as the OEB performs its other functions, such as reviewing market rules, ensuring the fairness and transparency of the OPA procurement process and overseeing the market surveillance panel, it should strive to ensure that the objectives of the integrated plan are met.
For consumers, the complex institutional arrangements in the electricity sector that are being reshaped by Bill 100 are not a primary concern. Consumers are focused on reliability and cost. The lights must turn on when consumers flip the switch. Small business consumers, as well as other consumers, have to feel comfortable in the pricing and reliability of cost structures. For many of them, and in particular residential and small business consumers, the most immediate and obvious impact of Bill 100 would be the regulated price plan.
First contemplated in Bill 4, introduced and passed last year, the regulated price plan would smooth prices for eligible consumers so that they pay the true cost of electricity over time but are not subject to day-to-day market volatility. It should be noted that larger consumers, particularly industrial consumers, would continue to have all of the options and flexibility to make supply arrangements that they have currently.
Bill 100 sets out the elements that would have to be taken into account by the OEB when designing the regulated rate plan. This would include the stability of the regulated baseload supply, any other contracted obligations held by the OPA, as well as the expected market price of electricity.
Eligible consumers would get the benefit of predictable prices, which would be revised periodically by the OEB to ensure that full costs are paid. Consumers who are eligible for the regulated price plan would not be constrained to accept those prices. They would have the option, if they so choose, to purchase their power directly from the market, or from an energy retailer.
It is crucial that all members of this assembly understand the options and opportunities available to their constituents, so that they can communicate with and educate them. All constituents are Ontario electricity consumers. We all share an obligation to Ontario electricity consumers to ensure that they have the information and the tools they need to make the best, most informed and effective choices about their consumption of electricity.
Bill 100 would create a system that is balanced, a system in which the various institutions function seamlessly and in a coordinated manner, and in which there would be little overlap and duplication of functions.
Generators, distributors and other stakeholders would have the benefit of a clear, public and transparent long-term plan to help guide their behaviour.
Consumers would have the benefit of stable and predictable prices and an electricity sector that emphasizes reliability, sustainability, diversity and affordability, all while being environmentally responsible.
I am very pleased to introduce the bill for third reading today, and I am anxiously awaiting the words of my parliamentary assistant, the member for Etobicoke Centre, who has done so much, particularly in conservation. It needs to be noted that she has in fact put conservation back on the agenda in Ontario, and I she know has important observations that all members would be wise to listen to.
One of the things I have learned is how complex this particular file really is and how important it also is to be able to express to people in the broader community in what I call Canadian Tire language -- simple language -- so they can understand.
This morning I heard one of the most interesting pieces of advice. Although, unfortunately, I cannot share with you the person's name because I did not ask permission, I can certainly share the advice. The advice was during a fairly -- not difficult, but contentious interview. The person being interviewed finally said, "OK, let's stop all of this and let's spice things up by adding just a few facts." And I thought, "That really is what the electricity Bill 100 is all about. There are just a few facts out there that need to be stated, and stated in language that people can understand, because it is so complex.
Before I do that, I'd like to pay a particular tribute to my minister, Minister Duncan, the Minister of Energy. When the Premier has spoken about being open, transparent, accessible and accountable, there's no question in my mind that he has meant this gentleman in particular. I say that because I think he has met with, between us, 500 to 600 people. When he said, "Come to me with your ideas and your expressions of interest in terms of how we can work this sector together," he truly meant it, and the door was opened, and not opened once but many times. His schedule, being House leader, is also exhaustive, so you know when he put that effort in place, he truly and sincerely meant it. Then again we listened, because when we went forward with the amendments, over 94 amendments, 60 to 70 of those were amendments from the government itself. So you know that the minister had listened to the stakeholders who had come in and expressed their concerns. That really does speak to the issue of accountability and accessibility. I pay great tribute to this gentleman because he certainly has enabled this government to move forward on that file in particular with the kind of transparency and openness that we said we would do
Here are just a couple of the facts I wanted to speak about before we go into some parts of the bill.
One of the strangest things I've encountered when speaking to people was that they didn't realize that there was a price for the electricity, and then of course a price to get it to where they needed it in their homes. When they thought they were having a price of 4.3 cents for electricity, of course they thought it was really quite cheap. What they didn't know and hadn't been told was that it was not sustainable.
If you're going to provide leadership in government, one of the most important things you have to be able to do is put your house in order, and that means your financial house in order, your books in order. In order for us to have kept the 4.3-cent price cap, that billion-dollar deficit would have grown. That billion-dollar deficit would have ended up, really, on our children's children to pay off in the future. That was totally unacceptable.
The other part that was totally unacceptable was the fact that people didn't realize that in Canada we are the second-largest consumers of energy in the world, and not all of it is about geography. A great deal of it is about how we use our energy, the fact that we'd never been given the tools, either in terms of information or technology, or really even the understanding of why we needed to change our habits, our behaviour, around how we used our electricity, because there was no need to. It was cheap, or so we thought. But it really was very expensive, when you added the deficit of over $1 billion that had been accumulated. So the government said, we said, "What we're going to do is actually encourage you to pay the true price of electricity. At the same time, it's not just what goes into your meter but how you use that electricity that's really important: what you do every day; how you manage your electricity. We are going to put in place the tools to help you do that." Certainly, Bill 100 does it.
The first part obviously is going to be the new hybrid model for the electricity sector. We're going to look at the low-volume consumers and then the larger consumers. People will know because the Ontario Energy Board, which is the board that regulates these prices, will regulate the price in April next year and give you a whole year of what you will know will be your price of electricity, and then you'll be able to manage that.
On top of that, you will also get a two-tier price system. If you use your electricity in off-peak times, you will get a cheaper price. It's really like the telephone, if you remember long-distance costs. If you call after 6, it's cheaper. Now you may make the choice: You can either do your clothes in the middle of the afternoon or you can do them in the evening, after 6. It will be up to you. We will not dictate the time, but what we will do is give you the tool with which you may make a choice, an educated choice, a choice where you'll know, because you'll also have an interval meter or a type of metering process, a function that will enable you to actually look at and monitor your own consumption.
I know a lot of people have said things like, "Well, why would I need one? They're very expensive." In fact, the research that has come out of Britain in particular will show you that there's about a 10% reduction on usage alone, regardless of the price, simply because people can now monitor their electricity use. They realize, when they leave something on and leave the room, or when something is plugged in, like a television, and even though it's not turned on it still uses electricity, they can unplug, they can change, they can monitor their use. Ten per cent is significant. That's a consistent research product that's come out of Great Britain.
It would be interesting to see what comes out of Italy, where they have put into homes 19 million of the 30 million they are going to. Statistically, what I've heard so far is that they've got about a 38% saving just on data collection alone. Those are significant savings that can go back into the system, which will keep your prices lower. It makes that kind of difference.
The other thing we're going to do is create the Ontario Power Authority. The Ontario Power Authority, as the minister indicated, will have the authority to enter into contractual obligations for supply. He spoke a great deal about that.
I'd like to speak about another part of the Ontario Power Authority, and that is the conservation bureau. This is going to be the first bureau of its kind in Ontario. Actually, I think it's the first bureau of its kind in North America, because I don't know of any others. There certainly is an office of sustainability that comes out of the President's office in the United States, but it's not the same as a conservation bureau. The person who will be in charge, the chief conservation bureau officer, will have the authority to determine province-wide policies on how we, as a province, can sustain and control our electricity consumption. For example, you could have a fridge buyback program.
There are some other initiatives out there that might be a possibility. We're currently working with the Social Housing Services Corp to address the $750-million energy bill that over one million people in social housing, municipal housing, not-for-profits and co-operatives are currently experiencing. They will have the authority to work even more with them to lower not only their consumption, but ultimately their costs.
We're also working with the Canadian Environmental Law Association and the Low-Income Energy Network to develop a model of energy conservation programs for local distribution utilities right across the province -- there are about 94 of them -- where they can go into their local communities and adapt policies, programs, and develop those that meet those communities' needs.
That's unique as well. We're saying that it's not going to be the cookie cutter approach and one whole program will be the answer to everything. In fact, we've given the authority -- under the previous Bill 4, for the local distribution companies -- about $225 million, which is the third tranche of their profit that they can recover now that the cap freeze is off. But they must spend one year's profit back into conservation measures in their community over a three-year period. Now there are -- what? -- 71 of those local distribution companies that have actually come forward with programs that are unique to their community, some of which are very exciting, whether it's dealing with some capital involvement for their own, whether it's looking at load management or whether it's looking at education.
I've heard things from London, for example, where they're actually going to encourage every student in London-Middlesex to become energy auditors. I know that in Bluewater they are working very hard with their local education community. They're doing the same in Chatham-Kent. Dr Suzuki has been there a couple of times. They've involved their facilities and the students on how they can manage their energy. Shelburne just put up solar panels, and they're looking to put up a wind turbine -- exciting opportunities through the conservation bureau that can be worked through their local distribution companies.
Light exchanges have been going on in Mississauga. Enersource, an extraordinary company that did this the first time, actually went out to their community and said, "Give me your old lights because those old lights draw about 159 watts, versus the new LED lights, the light emitting diodes, which only draw about four watts." So they took all that old wattage in the lights off the grid and put the new ones on by a really good exchange that went on. We hope to have that right across the province by this time next year.
I don't know if anybody knows, but it's about 500 megawatts of electricity that we use during the holiday season for holiday lights. If we can diminish that load, that's a significant saving because, remember, as my minister has said many times, a megawatt saved is just as good as a megawatt built. That's the kind of thing that we're looking to do within energy conservation.
Some of the other initiatives that are easy to do, and Bill 100 enables us to do them, are simple things like wrapping your pipes, caulking your windows, recognizing where you place your windows if you're building a house. Really, even where you plant a tree can make a difference. There's a whole new, exciting world around solar panels, solar voltaic, working with both water and sun. It's amazing what's out there.
The other part that's amazing is that there's a real appetite out there in the community as well. They're starting to recognize that we want a green planet.
One of the things that Bill 100 enables us to do is to look to those alternative renewable fuels that have been long overdue. There was an excellent report that was done on renewable fuels during the last government's time, and it's really unfortunate that they didn't pick up and run with it, because, again, it really captured the essence of renewable fuels, whether it's biomass or biodiesel, whether they were looking at the wind turbines or additional water. There are just so many things that can be done, and there are people who want to do them. The technologies that are out there that are new and exciting, that have just come about in the last few years -- amazing. The entrepreneurial spirit is really alive and well in Ontario, and it's exciting to see these people coming forward. They want to enable us to provide the initiatives in terms of conservation and demand-side response. That's one of the things Bill 100 will do that's long overdue.
Part of the other things we'll do -- and maybe my colleague from Don Valley West will speak more about it, because she has been involved in education and training -- is the whole issue around eco-schools and actually teaching the children from a very young age how important it is for that environmental footprint they leave and we leave on planet earth. Many of us feel that we're custodians and that we need to be able to sustain this earth in order to pass it on to the next generation, when it becomes their responsibility to look after it for the generation that succeeds them. Again, that really is part of what Bill 100 does, because it's an enabling piece of legislation, through the conservation bureau. It allows us to look beyond. There's no question that we have to look at supply and, as my minister indicated, the issue of transmission, but it's really looking beyond that, through the conservation bureau and the things we can do, and that's an exciting part of Bill 100.
One of the other very complex areas is the independent market operator, which is going to have the name change. In essence, these are the watchdog over the market for the consumers. They're not a research facility. They actually look over the market and help determine that market and maintain it for the consumers. Again, the bill enables and strengthens that role for them.
There are going to be changes to the Ontario Energy Board Act. These are our regulators. Again, they are the folks who protect the consumers in many respects. They are going to work very closely with the local distribution companies, which, years ago, used to be called the utility companies. They have a nice new name now: LDCs -- another example of how we make this more complex than it really needs to be at times. Those local distribution companies or utilities will work through the regulator on the plans they put out that will go back into their community, that will enable them to go on the demand-side response and to make a significant difference.
So there are a lot of changes that are going to take place. They are exciting times. I find that when I speak to people and I talk about the 18,000 megawatts that's needed by the year 2020. I think that one of the most exciting things I'd heard from my minister was when he said that there is absolutely no reason why there shouldn't be a long-term strategic plan for energy in this province. That's true. Regardless of who is in government, the people of Ontario deserve a long-term strategy. That's what the beginning of Bill 100 does; it puts that in place.
That's the kind of leadership, that's the kind of legacy, that's the kind of thoroughness, transparency and accountability that I believe the people of Ontario want. That's what I would want as someone who goes out to vote.
The other part that's really important is working together with both the municipal and the federal levels. There is absolutely no reason that a number of the initiatives that we have put in place cannot piggyback on initiatives that are there at the federal level. There's no reason, if you want to look at the concept of sustainability, which has its footprint federally, why it cannot have its footprint provincially. In fact, it should have its footprint right across this country.
When we speak about young people who can learn about such projects as Hurley Island, which is the pan-Canadian science, it should be virtually in every subject, for every student from JK to 12, so that children learn from an early age how important it is to sustain their earth. The other is that obviously we need to work with our municipal partners, because they in turn will bear a lot of responsibility through their bylaws enabling wind turbines, for example, or biodigesters to actually happen.
It is that working together that, at the end of the day, a taxpayer likes. It's, "Forget the squabbling; forget the bickering. We're not really interested in that. If you've got a dollar, it's my dollar. Spend it well and be accountable, and ultimately work with the other levels of government, because it's my same dollar. It just gets spread around." I ask that of myself; my constituents ask that of me. I think this is something that the government has provided the leadership for: working together municipally, provincially and federally. It's long overdue. I hear that consistently in my constituency in Etobicoke Centre.
It's been an absolute pleasure to be able to stand and to say Bill 100 is on its way. I wanted to acknowledge and thank a number of people who participated in the hearings. We had over 150 submissions, but I know the member from Ottawa participated; Ancaster-Dundas-Flamborough-Aldershot; obviously Don Valley West -- strong committee members, all of them -- London; Niagara Falls. There were many who came. Of all the things that I wish had occurred, I wish we had had the opportunity to go a little further, but unfortunately that was not to be because we couldn't find consensus on broadening our scope.
Maybe another time that we have something as important as an energy bill, we'll be able to rethink how we reach out to this very large province of Ontario. I think people forget that it is as large as Western Europe; it's huge. It's just as important that we go to Wawa as to Windsor or Ottawa. We need to recognize that people from all constituencies should have an opportunity other than just to come to Toronto to participate in committee hearings. I hope that in the future we will broaden our scope and that we will have the opportunity to touch base with more people.
I want to pick up on a couple of comments that both she and the minister made. The one that the member for Etobicoke Centre just made about the long-term strategy: It seems to me that, on a number of fronts, one of the things this government is trying to do is to put plans in place so that there is a bit of a blueprint for how to move forward on a number of difficult files. Certainly the electricity file, the energy sector, is an incredibly complex and difficult one. It is, however, a defining characteristic and has been a defining characteristic of this province that we have a steady, available supply of energy. I think there is no one in this House who would disagree that this is a critical issue for this province, to get this right.
In the absence of a long-term strategy, in the absence of a plan, we're condemned to ad hockery, and I think ad hockery in a sector like the energy file is a very bad idea. It leads to bad decisions and it leads to panic reactions, so that caps are put on and then caps are taken off and caps are put on again. That is not the way to do business. There has to be a plan on how to price electricity, on what the mix is going to be and on how we're going to produce electricity over the long term. That's what Bill 100 is about, creating that plan.
The minister spoke about reducing the environmental footprint of the electricity system. That's the other piece of this plan. We need to think about the long-term viability of whatever system we put in place. The move toward more renewables, the move to clean energy, the emphasis on conservation: Those are the strategies that must be in place if we're going to have future sustainability in this province.
I commend the minister for bringing this bill forward, and I commend our government for making these moves.
I want to talk a little bit about what people who came to the hearings said to us. As the member for Etobicoke Centre said, it would have been great to have been able to visit more parts of the province. As it was, we were able to hear from hundreds of people, both in written submissions and visiting the committee. Almost to a person, the presenters said, "Yeah, we acknowledge that there's a move in the right direction." There were concerns, there were issues. Obviously, that's why people come to public hearings. That's why we hold public hearings, so we can hear the concerns and listen to the issues. But there was a real consensus that something has to be done in this sector. There has to be a plan.
I just want to read what Joan Huzar, president of the Consumers Council of Canada, said to us: "The Consumers Council of Canada applauds Energy Minister Dwight Duncan's announcement that he intends to bring a measure of sanity to the chaos of Ontario's electricity marketplace.
"Establishing a new Ontario Power Authority to oversee Ontario electricity well-being is a splendid idea and we are encouraged by the announcement that the air we all breathe will benefit as coal-fired generation will be phased out within a few years." That was also in a letter to the editor of the Toronto Star on April 21, 2004.
That phrase, "bringing sanity to the chaos," underscores the rational approach that this bill is putting in place.
Jennifer Heneberry of the Positive Power Co-operative, in her presentation to the social policy committee, said, "We were very pleased to see a number of the changes being proposed as part of Bill 100. We feel some of the proposed amendments are going to make it much easier for us, as a community co-operative developing wind power projects, to participate in the electricity market; things like references to non-discriminatory access to the transmission and distribution system, the promotion of cleaner and renewable energy sources and addressing the need for goals around renewable energy production. These are all things we were really happy to see in Bill 100."
Again, that other issue of encouraging renewables, encouraging generation locally, encouraging distributed generation, those are the underpinnings of this bill. People who came to speak to us recognized that's the direction we were moving in and commended us for that.
The Ontario Waterpower Association's Paul Norris said, "The government has moved quickly and decisively to articulate and begin to implement its vision for electricity policy and the importance of renewable energy."
I think it's quite clear that we're moving in the right direction in terms of putting some stability into the system.
One of the things I learned during the hearings -- I'd gone into this as a fairly new member in this place with the public power versus private power debate ringing in my ears, because that was the way the debate had been framed by some of the opposition members. It was quite clear to me, listening to the people who came to speak to us, that what consumers are interested in is reliable, cost-efficient and safe energy. That's what they are looking for. The false debate of public versus private really has been replaced in this province by a debate about how we make sure power is reliable, clean and renewable and safe.
That's what we need to focus on, and that's what this bill does. That's the direction we're moving in with this government's energy plan.
As the parliamentary assistant in the Ministry of Education, it's quite clear to me that one of the cornerstones of our energy plan has to be the education of our children -- the work of the conservation bureau to start to change the culture of how we use energy in this province and understanding that it's not an infinite resource, that in fact there are limits to our ability to create power and energy and, therefore, there have to be limits to our usage, and that starts with our children. We have to change our habits, but we also have to teach our children that conservation, that doing business differently in terms of energy usage, is critical, and that's part of this government's plan.
I just want to say that being part of this dialogue has been a terrific experience for me personally. It's a terrific opportunity and a change moment. It is a teachable moment in Ontario, because people know that the status quo is not sustainable. We are very lucky to have the people who are working on this file working on it, and we're lucky to be part of a transition that's going to take us to a more rational, more stable energy supply in this province. I'm happy to support Bill 100.
Right off the bat, I think of the select committee on alternative energy sources. That was an all-party committee that came up with a number of recommendations, which they presented to the former government, and I think we accepted those recommendations unanimously. Those were things like wind power, solar power etc -- different sources of energy. I know it cost the citizens of the province a lot of money to send that committee across the province and in fact around the world, and they came back with some of the ideas we're seeing here today.
I will be having an opportunity in a couple of minutes to make a few comments. What happened this afternoon is unfortunate. I thought we'd be getting equal time this afternoon. How it has worked out is that we will split the remaining time with the New Democratic Party, but the bottom line is that we should have had an opportunity for all three parties to have equal time on this time allocation motion.
It's a time allocation motion. They're ramming it through, like the two budget bills the other day, Bill 106 and Bill 149. Again, more promises not to do time allocation, but here they are breaking their word again.
I appreciate this opportunity to say a few words on this bill.
I think many people would be somewhat surprised that a government that said it was going to move toward transparency of government and more open and transparent democracy would use time allocation on such a central issue, in effect would try to shut down debate on such an important issue. So third reading of the bill is going to be limited to just a couple of hours of debate here this afternoon, when one would think that legislation like this should have at least a few days of third reading debate. But I suspect I know why the government is in such a hurry to ram this through: The government wants to avoid the debate.
As the government that promised to close all the coal-fired generating stations by 2007, it is now admitting it's not going to close all the coal-fired generating stations by 2007. As the government that said it wanted to keep our electricity system public -- in fact, the Premier said that during the election campaign -- it's now very clear that the program of this government is to do very much the same program as the former government, except that the former government wanted to privatize through the front door. They were very open about it. This government wants to privatize through the back door and pretend that it's not doing that. I suspect the reason we're seeing time allocation is that the McGuinty government doesn't want that debate to happen very publicly.
It occurs to me that there is an old phrase about every journey of 1,000 miles beginning with the first step. That said, it is rather helpful if you know which way you're going, or as my friend Gene Roddenberry is rather fond of saying, "We'll move in the direction in which we're looking." This government, along with some of our partners who have expertise at some alternative energy ideas, is looking at the institution of a conservation ethic that can begin to turn us around in this province, and I think the two honourable members spoke to that.
If we were to move with the advanced renewable tariffs on the wind power issue, within 10 years we could have 20% of our power in this province as wind, and coupled with a 30% projected saving through conservation, we could have a 50% change in the way we do business and the benefits that would accrue to Ontario.
We're prepared, as a government, to get involved in some new visioning, and to do that we're convinced that we not only need to do some strategic thinking but we need to do some strategic planning around that. We're prepared to do that because we have experienced the costs and risks of doing nothing for far too long. We're going to move ahead and build the kind of energy sector the people of Ontario want to see for this great province.
As was mentioned earlier, there was a considerable amount of work done with the alternative fuels committee. It was an all-party committee that toured around and got input from a number of significant sectors on how we can help this sector, which is very critical to manufacturing in Ontario.
There are certain things that have to be reviewed and looked at, though; for example, the forestry industry. I know, having had some exposure to that in the past, that a lot of forestry industries are deciding, are they in the hydro-producing business or are they in the pulp-and-paper and the forestry industry dealing with fibre? They look at the spot market and, should they be producing the electricity that they normally produce for their own work and industries, they start selling it on the spot market. The difficulty with that is, and I hope the minister takes note, the time allocation required before they can sell on the spot market. Effectively, they need two hours' notification.
The difficulty with that is, when for example New York is having an energy crisis and they want that energy, they need it now. In the event that they have to put a two-hour notice on and they're deciding whether they're shutting down their plant, producing pulp and paper or dimensional lumber, they're actually trying to sell it in New York and other areas where they can make a lot more money. It also puts a lot of other people in employment concerns, whether you're working in the forest or supplying these mills with fibre.
In some other areas, I hope the minister would be able to comment. In the past, the previous government established a committee between MNR and the Ministry of Energy to look at utilizing current MNR facility dams that they have control over. There are over 600 of them that aren't being used now. My understanding was that the committee was shut down. Effectively, these could potentially produce low-flow generation, anywhere from one to five megawatts, which could help the province significantly. The ministry is currently making the other areas available, but I hope the minister is not being told which ones and letting industry decide how they can best move forward.
There's no question it is the responsibility of this government to keep the lights on. It is also the responsibility of this government to be fiscally responsible to their constituents, to all of their constituents, which is all the people in the province, and at the same time to provide a long-term strategy so they know where their energy supply is coming from.
That's why we are so fortunate to work with people like Mr Paul Gipe, who is one of the foremost wind experts in the world, an absolute pleasure and delight, because he is one of those folks who have been accessible to the minister, to myself and to policy folks around how we can make wind turbines happen in this province in a way that is for both small and large. This is the kind of example of leadership we are providing.
You're right, there are folks who are going to be out there saying, "Chicken Little, the sky will fall." The fact of the matter is that the price of electricity has been subsidized to the point of a billion dollars. You can either pay up front, and at least you know what you're paying, which is what is going to happen with the true price of electricity, or you can hide it and somebody can pay it down the road.
I think it's better to be honest and up front with people, to tell them that this is what the price of electricity is going to be; to provide them with the tools, with the responsibility of monitoring their own consumption and determining their own use; and at the same time make sure we are competitive, in terms of our economy, in dealing with other sectors in North America, in particular in manufacturing and exporting our goods, as well as the development of those goods here. We are working with those sectors. They have been to the table, and they are --
For the viewers, they should know there is a small sequence of history that should be brought to light. The first was when the markets for electricity were opened while we were the government -- very controversial. Howard Hampton was clear on his message -- public power -- a very clear and very defensible position, I would say.
Our government, at the time, said we were opening the market. We delayed that, and then we delayed it again, but we finally opened it, and as with all things in the market, timing is often important. To cut to the chase, we said the market would open. We had the Pickering plant go down; we had the Bruce plants down; we had the hottest weather on record; prices went through the roof. Guess what? We chickened out and we froze the price at 4.3 cents.
Now I would say this: This is the start. Dalton McGuinty at that time was the Leader of the Opposition and they were barracking all the time in the House about, "Do something for the consumers." So as a responsible government of the day, we took it upon ourselves, with Minister John Baird at the time, I believe, and we blinked and we froze the price.
Here is where it gets interesting. The Liberals voted to freeze the price. Keep in mind you are dealing with the Liberals. I don't want to offend you now. If anybody starts yelling here, I hope the Speaker will keep them in order. They demanded that we freeze the price or do something to protect the consumer -- a fair comment, I might say, because what they were trying to do was respond to their constituents who were screaming on the phones. The NDP voted for the same response.
A bit of history here is that, in response to the public in Ontario, with high prices and short supply, the price went up because of the supply and the temperature and the other driving forces. We listened. We responded. Some in the media would say we blinked, and we froze the price at 4.3 cents, which was voted on by every Liberal of the time. There are more of them today, obviously -- they're the government.
What happened was that at that time there was a preparation on the generation side for a tremendous amount of investment, some of which did come to pass. Some of it was the refurbishment of the Bruce plant; some of it was the refurbishment of the Pickering plant; some of it was looking down the road at new generation. So the government formed a task force called the Electricity Conservation and Supply Task Force. This is their report. That committee was formed. It was chaired by Peter Budd, and eventually by Courtney Pratt.
I had a really decent privilege there. I was asked to sit on that, because of an undying interest in the issue of energy. There was Bruce Ander from the Canadian Energy Efficiency Alliance; Bruce Boland from Ontario Power Generation; John Brace, with the Association of Power Producers of Ontario; Gunars Ceksters, who is the president and CEO of Enersource; Mike Crawley, president and CEO of AIM PowerGen Corp.
There was Don Gibson, who is a partner at McCarthy Tétrault; Dave Goulding, president and CEO of the IMO; Duncan Hawthorne, CEO of Bruce Power; Ed Houghton, chair of the Electricity Distributors Association, at that time; Rebecca MacDonald, chair and CEO of Energy Savings Income Fund; David McFadden, chair of the Stakeholders' Alliance for Electricity Competition and Customer Choice; Paul Norris, president of the Ontario WaterPower Association; Tom Parkinson, president and CEO of Hydro One; Jan Peeters, chair and CEO of Olameter Inc -- you may want to remember that name for the future; Bryne Purchase, Deputy Minister of Energy; and Mary-Ellen Richardson, president of the Association of Major Power Consumers.
They came up with a series of recommendations. I'd call them solutions for the future. I think this report -- if people contact me, I'll certainly get them a copy of it -- is worth reading, because basically Bill 100 is following through on the initiative started by the government.
During the election, they promised to keep the price freeze. This is the game you play. It's very hard to catch a rattlesnake, because it keeps crawling down holes. But the key here is, during the election they were agreeing: "Yes, we're going to keep the price." Then what do they do? The paint isn't dry on the signs in the new ministers' offices and they introduce Bill 4, An Act to amend the Ontario Energy Board Act, 1998 with respect to electricity pricing, and raise the price.
Some say, "Well, they only raised it from 4.3 to 4.7." Do the math -- and from 5.5. That's a 20% increase on the price of the electrons only. Right there, 20%, first move. It looks small, innocuous and ineffectual, but really it's a 20% increase. It was the first thing you did.
The people were then put on notice that they were going to be paying more and getting less. I could go on. The point I'm really trying to make here is you can't negotiate a business relationship with the likes of that kind of performance. I don't know how else to phrase it. Technically, they're telling you what you want to hear. During the election they said this, and they did that. That's the difficulty. The consumers of Ontario should be put on notice today that there will be a shortage of supply, which is -- pardon me -- higher prices.
There's really a shell game going on here, because I have a fair amount of material, some of which I'll get to cover. This is the game: They're actually going to give consumers meters in their houses. They already have a meter. It's an old-fashioned one, some would say, but it does the job. It's a little antiquated to the extent that I cannot believe people are making $40,000 or so a year driving around in a $40,000 truck to read your meter. What's that about? What century are we living in? They're still going to your house, maybe knocking on the door to read your meter. So they're introducing smart meters, which is a good idea. It's been recommended, and I would support it.
Here's the deal: It's not actually going to be a smart meter; it's really going to be a kind of interval meter. As I understand it, the energy board has reviewed this and made some recommendations. They are not two-way communication devices, which means that, as a consumer, I'm the price taker. When I turn on the oven or the microwave or the toaster or the computer or the refrigerator -- which is on all the time because you want to keep your food safe, so there is little discretion in how we use it -- I'm a price taker. I have no idea what I'm paying. That is what is going to happen. I am going to say, "My bill went up." They're going to say, "Well, you're not using your smart meter."
What the smart meter says, and Mrs Cansfield said in her remarks -- actually, here is the advice I would give you. There are going to be three prices. If you use electricity off-peak time, the meter will be able to tell you that at 2 o'clock in the morning you can make your toast for breakfast because it's cheaper. You will have to get up at 2 in the morning because it will be a lot cheaper. You can have your coffee, too, when you're up, but then go back to bed because it's pretty early in the morning. Do you follow me?
I see Mr Leal, who could actually be commuting from Peterborough now. He will have to get up at 2 in the morning --
The smart meter gives them a tool -- I want to bracket this in. I want to frame it up so people actually understand. The consumer is going to be presumed to have some control over their misfortune of the bill. So when you don't realize that electricity is going to have a price of, let's say --
There could be three prices. I have watched this very carefully, and perhaps, some would say, too closely. I would say the bottom-line price at 2 o'clock in the morning or something -- off-peak time -- will probably be five cents. They will probably stick the medium-peak time at supper time because everybody has to cook their food, the kids are coming home from school and they'll want a hot chocolate because it is 20 below zero. So they'll probably stick about five cents, or I'd say maybe six cents, on what I'd call that mid-consumption period. Then, for the very unusual periods of the day, which probably would be when you get up in the morning, because people are cold so they turn the furnace up, have a hot shower, make the coffee and spend all that money on electricity, you're going to get whacked. You are going to pay 100% more to warm up that cup of coffee. So instead of making eight cups, cut it down to four. I don't know how you're going to save money on this.
It worries me that they are now going to be able to say to the consumer, "You have these three price bands," and with the three price bands what you are going to end up with is -- when you get the bill, you'll say, "My goodness, what happened? I used to pay $78 a month and now it's $150." Do you know what that is? Pay attention. That's called a tax hike, because this product is not like anything else.
I'm directly responding to the people of Ontario who I know are out there and concerned. They're probably holding their hands in anxiety and worry. Here is what I think is happening.
They are going to say to you, when you get that bill that has doubled, "You aren't using the smart meter." They are going to blame the consumer. Stay tuned. This is a shell game. You're dealing with the Liberal government. Remember the GST they were going to cancel? You can't negotiate with a customer who keeps changing the rules.
Remember the point I'm trying to establish here; it's sequential. Let's review it, class. Before the election, you voted for it; during the election, you promised; after the election, Bill 4.
Now, then, when we had the 4.3 cent power, you criticized us, because you said power is too cheap. For the person who is living on a Canada pension or a reduced pension or a fixed income or has a child with a disability, they need stability of price. They need price sensitivity. You're going to say to them, "You've got to pay the real cost of power. And, by the way, there isn't enough of it because we're closing down the coal plants; therefore, you're going to have to pay more."
The people in Toronto basically will say, "This is good." At the end of the day, I worry almost too much about my constituents and the consumers of Ontario. They're getting hoodwinked here. I'm just going to read a couple things. I'm going to stick to being a little more organized here. These are from today's clippings, so this is a current issue. It's not very glamorous, but to the consumers who are even interested in listening, I would suggest that you read the Toronto Star. It is a fairly Liberal-friendly newspaper. In fact, the Toronto Star is the Liberals' briefing notes.
Here's another article --
Anyway, this article: I need the viewers to pay attention. You can call me and I will get you these articles. I think it's important. It's the Toronto Star, again, December 8: "Three Hydro Prices Proposed" -- now is the confusion. Imagine senior citizens, and they've got to deal with three prices. Imagine a busy, hard-working Ontario family with children in nursery school -- maybe there'll be nursery schools or maybe there won't. Maybe there'll be a lot of driving around to hockey games and things like that. They're going to have to be worried about, "Which price is on? Should I turn the hot water tank on or off?" They're downloading this responsibility right to the household. It says right here, "The new pricing system would apply to homeowners with `smart meters' that record how much power is used hour by hour." But they don't know what the price is; that's the problem. Until they tell them the price, you can't move the demand.
This is important. This is kind of the theory here that we're trying to develop. Yes, people respond to price. That's called price elasticity. This is price-inelastic. If you want to go back to a simple kind of theory here, I put to you, if you're really understanding, this product is price-inelastic. What that means to me, an ordinary person, is that there is not much response to price. I still have to heat the house; I still have to cook the food; I still have to have a shower; I have to run the ventilator for my child that has a breathing problem. I cannot reduce price and I can't reduce consumption beyond a certain threshold.
I would support this if you had a realistic band of prices. I say to the parliamentary assistant, who I have some regard for -- I think she did better work when she was a school trustee. Ms Cansfield has worked hard, but she's working for a slave driver. The minister won't listen to her. What I suggest to her is this: I'm not sure what the number should be but I think this could be defined and resolved by some kind of research. I think it's about 800 kilowatt hours a month. I would have a price of probably about five cents. Arguably, it would be a little higher than -- your price now is 4.7 and 5.5. I'd say, make it five cents. It's higher than our price, I agree with that.
Here's the other part of it. They're listening. It's reassuring; they're listening. Usually, they just vote. They just say, "Yes, sir. No, sir."
They are engaged on this. Here's the issue: If they respond to price and actually cut down, I would do a little profile on them, Mr McNeely. If you knew that they were consuming 1,100 kilowatt hours a month for the last three years and were able to reduce it to under 1,000, I'd reward them. I'd incent them. That's how I would do it. I would charge them a rate, and if they respond to price, then I would reward them. If they cut their consumption --
I'm going to go back to first principles here, because this very, very complex topic, to an extent, is this: There are two things for sure. As the supply goes down, and if they shut down --
We had a plan. We recognized that. It was a lot more mature and balanced. What we said was, we would slowly phase out coal until it was completely phased out by 2015.
Their plan -- there is no plan. After the election, they said that they were going to close the coal plants by 2007. Guess what? Last week, Minister Dwight Duncan, in this House and in the press scrum afterward, was just scrambling, not just because it's another broken promise but because he said, "We're just going to keep them on, maybe. They're going to be there in case."
He's not being forthright with the people of Ontario. He knows that you'd have to have the engineers, the technicians, the people who shovel the coal or whatever they do -- all these various jobs. They would still be there in the factories, on standby. Can you imagine a coal plant like Nanticoke -- 4,000 megawatts; huge, heaping piles of coal -- and them standing there, waiting for the signal from Dwight and Dalton to turn the coal plant on? Can you just imagine it? Holy -- listen, it's hard to believe they even thought about this, because what did they say --
I've listened to them, and I respect that. They did not say, "Do not eliminate coal." They said, "Don't do it so hastily and so quickly." That's the only advice I offer, because if you take one quarter of the generation capacity off line -- let's go back to first principles -- what would happen? You short the supply, you raise the price, right?
So the consumer now has this new, regulated purchase plan, the RPP, he's got the smart meter, and he's going to get whacked. The bill is going to go up, I predict -- and maybe I could be proven wrong, and I hope I am. I'd say the average price is going to be -- right now, it's four; it's going to be seven. That's almost a 100% increase. No question, it's going to be seven cents. "You've got to pay the real cost." That is the biggest -- you've never, in Ontario, ever, ever, ever, since Adam Beck, paid the price of electricity. Never, ever. So the people of Ontario, get prepared. The Liberals know all. "Irrespective of what you do in your phone calls, we're going to charge you twice as much as you're paying today." Wait till the phones start ringing. Dwight Duncan will probably be shuffled off to health.
I'm quite serious. The people will respond. We did, as government. I can tell you, we blinked, and the reason we blinked is because this is a product unlike any other. Industry needs it. I've had pleas, and you're going to get them too, not just from General Electric or from the mining association or from the chemical or the forestry or the resource industry. About 50% of the cost of doing business in that sector is energy. What happens if the price goes up? The prices are set on the world market. They can't just pass that on to consumers, you know. So it's an economic issue. I've said from the beginning that most of the energy debate is an economic policy discussion. Adam Beck's plan was this -- not power at cost. He believed it was part of the economy; it was an economic thing. Cheap power creates jobs. That's why we have all the steel plants in Ontario. That's why we have all the manufacturing in Ontario. They use cheap power to create the economy. Those people worked, they paid tax, and the province got rich. Most other provinces don't have many manufacturing types of jobs or the infrastructure to support them. So if you don't think there's a relationship between the cost of power and the effects on the economy, then you're not paying attention.
If you look at the industries of the future, the current industries -- for instance, technology and service and call centres and those things -- huge consumers of power, there are the jobs. Frank McKenna of New Brunswick understood it. They also have one of the other nuclear plants, which is part of the generation discussion, as it could be described, because it will be a raging debate on the generation argument. If you eliminate coal, it's certainly a quarter, if not a third, of the generating capacity. If you eliminate nuclear, which is the baseload, which is probably at least 40%, some would say 50%, of the full capacity -- in fact, it's almost all your baseload -- you'll be starving to death in the dark, and extremely cold, because there will be no energy. You can't buy it from Manitoba; there's no grid to bring it in on. You can't bring it from Chicago or Ohio because there's a capacity of interconnect of about 4,000 megawatts.
So I don't think you'll complete this. It's not just a broken promise; it's mismanagement and poor administration. I'm saying to you, we as a government understood the problem. It was probably our nemesis at the end of the day. I would put to you -- and I'm going to summarize because there's so much content here, so much material, that I have to have a break -- that it will be one of the lead issues in the election in 2007 or 2008. The reason I say 2007 or 2008 is because the fixed-term election is a lot of bunk. You guys will have an election whenever you want. It's a Liberal promise; therefore, it means nothing.
So I say to you, there are going to be higher prices; there is going to be shorter supply. If you're in the dark, you'll lower the price, and if you're in the light, you won't be any brighter for it.
With that, I appreciate it. I'll be voting against this, obviously. It has been forced through, ill conceived and poorly managed by a government that deserves some time in the opposition.
There was a quote I picked up that I thought was really interesting, and it's all to do with the rate relief for hydro users. It comes from someone named Dalton McGuinty on the Bill Carroll Show of November 13, 2002. That's about the time we capped the rates and promised that we'd keep those rates in place until 2006.
The question is, "If you're elected to the Premier's office tomorrow, Mr McGuinty, what do you do to fix the hydro situation as it is today?"
The answer from this guy, McGuinty: "First of all, we have to maintain rate relief for consumers. I have had the terrible responsibility to raise horror stories in the Legislature, people who have been put ... in a desperate position because they simply can't afford to pay their hydro. So we've got to maintain rate relief for our ratepayers."
That comes from Dalton McGuinty on November 13, 2002. Exactly one year later, he lifted the cap. After this government voted in this House in favour of capping the rates to 2006, they broke a promise and lifted those rates. That's something I wanted to put on the record today.
The other comment I wanted to put on the record, very quickly, was the comment from -- the other day, Mr Duncan, the Minister of Energy, talked about his great plan to close down the Lakeview coal-fired generation plant. I would invite anybody to talk to Mrs Elizabeth Witmer, who put that plan in place. Mrs Witmer has a huge picture in her office upstairs of her in front of the Lakeview plant, with a plan to close that plant by the spring of 2005 -- next April. It's Elizabeth Witmer's plan, and I couldn't believe that Dwight Duncan was actually trying to take credit for a plan that Elizabeth Witmer had put in place when she was the Minister of the Environment.
When that plant does close next spring, I think it would be a shame if Elizabeth Witmer wasn't there to actually see the door closed on that plant. I wanted to put that on the record.
That's all I'm going to say for now. We have a few Qs and As, and I know the NDP wanted to say a few words as well.
New Democrats have been clear and consistent. Howard Hampton, who is going to make an effort to use the few minutes allowed us -- it's part of the government's design to ensure that the New Democrats weren't able to spend more than a few minutes in this debate. It's part of the government's design; we understand that.
Howard Hampton is the author of the book Public Power, which is still very much on the bookstands, whether it's Coles, Indigo, Chapters or independent book dealers. I encourage people to take a look at Public Power by Howard Hampton, because Public Power by Howard Hampton is the authoritative and current reference book on the history of electricity in this province, on the real dangers of privatization and on the need for us to re-embrace public, regulated electricity at cost in Ontario if we're going to have any luck at all in maintaining industry in this province and the jobs associated with it; if we're going to have any luck at all in controlling electricity costs for residential consumers, whether it's young families already hard hit by downloaded new expenses or their folks and grandfolks as seniors living on fixed incomes.
I encourage folks to stay tuned in to the legislative channel, because Howard Hampton will be addressing this bill. It will be the final moments of debate. New Democrats are adamantly opposed to Bill 100, and the people of Ontario certainly are as well.
Closing the coal plants is something that really -- I think everybody would like to see cleaner air. We would like to see the environment cleaned up, but it's something that has to be done over time. It's something that has to be done with balance in it. The supply of electricity in this province is something that requires a balance.
As the member for Durham pointed out, our atomic energy is the base of our supply. The only way you can make any money in an atomic plant is to run it full out all the time. It's not something you power up or down on short notice; it has to run all the time. So it makes good sense that the base power that we use 24 hours a day would be atomic power.
Hydro power from waterpower is something this province has a multitude of. Again, the members pointed out that maximizing that power is essential over time as well, so that we can use every bit of that hydro power that is available. The renewable resource powers that are coming on-line -- wind power and solar power -- those things are all fine, but they're not going to supply the bulk of power in this province at any time in the future.
There's no question about the need to close down coal-fired plants because, along with SUVs, they contribute to respiratory disease, which is significant. Whether one person dies, or 20, or 2,000, they are senseless deaths if they can be changed.
That's what this is about. This is about moving forward and looking at new ways of doing business; that's why alternative energy and renewables. You're right: Things are going to change. People are going to pay for their electricity. It isn't going to be, as I said, Chicken Little and the sky is falling, but there is no question that there will be an increased cost. But the fact of the matter is that the cost was there before; you just didn't know it. It was in the issue of a billion-dollar debt that somebody had to pick up and pay for.
I think what's really important for us to keep this in perspective is that we need to move forward, because there is a real need to. When you talk about mismanagement, that renewable project that was done by the previous government was superb. The problem was, they stuck it on the shelf, along with a lot of other things that were stuck on the shelf.
The member for Etobicoke Centre really has come to this recently, and I understand that. She has a very good understanding, but there were a few things she said that frightened me. That's all the more reason why I'll be trying to recommend that this go to further hearings, because if you keep talking like that, trying to link this whole thing of the change in our economy --
With that profound a change there needs to be a broader dialogue with the people of Ontario. That's the point I'm making. I'm not in favour of anything that has adverse effects on someone's health, but just the tone I see here is that they have the right answers. They will find that life, like politics, is about choices. I think the more expeditious and more rational route is to take a fair-minded approach to this, to incent conservation, as I've suggested. If people save, then you should incent that.
If they had a real commitment here, they would be looking at renewable portfolio standards. But it's clear from the debate that they're going to force this bill through, they're going to raise the rates, they're going to threaten the shortage of supply of electricity, without any regard for the people in nursing homes, the people in retirement homes or the people in their very own homes. They will soon learn, I believe, that this product, like nothing else, is not that sensitive to price. You need a certain amount of the commodity to live. That's what this discussion is about. It has to be a fair price and a reliable supply, and I don't think you can achieve that.
The first reason they're doing it is because this is a government that doesn't want the public of Ontario to know that their agenda for hydroelectricity is very much the same as the agenda of the previous Conservative government; that is, turn it over to the private sector. What that means -- it doesn't matter if you look at the price here or if you look at the price in Alberta, in the United States, in Great Britain or in New Zealand -- is at least an 18%, more likely a 20%, increase in the cost of electricity just through privatization.
A private company will want at least a 15% profit; they'll want the very large Bay Street salaries; they'll have higher costs of borrowing because they'll have a higher interest rate, and that all appears on the hydro bill. This government is still trying to do this by stealth, though; thus one of the reasons for trying to stampede this through without any debate.
The other reason they're trying to time-allocate this is that, for a government that went out there and was so holier than thou, more moral than the most moral about, "We're going to close down those coal-fired stations by 2007," it's obvious now that you don't have a plan to do that, and that you never, ever did have a plan to do that. So of course you want to shut down debate, because it's embarrassing.
I listened to the Minister of Energy in the scrum the other day trying to say to the media, "We'll just put them on standby," or, "We'll put them in reserve." People at home should know what that means. It means that when electricity usage starts to go up at around 6:30 or 7 in the morning, the coal plants will come on, and around 7 or 8 o'clock at night when electricity usage starts to go down, they'll be idled down. But you know what? That's pretty much what happens now. So there is no change here.
This has been a very embarrassing leak for the government. When I read the headlines in the Globe and Mail, the Toronto Sun and the Toronto Star the other day, you could see the Minister of Energy gritting his teeth, especially the headline from the Toronto Sun: "Duncan Warms to Coal." You could see him gritting his teeth. So this government wants to force this legislation through because they want to avoid that debate.
The McGuinty government has tried to make a big thing out of a little bit of wind energy, but what do we discover when we look at who is getting the contracts for the 300 or so megawatts of wind turbines? One Mike Crawley's name comes to mind. Who is Mike Crawley? Mike Crawley has done just about every job that a Liberal hack could do. If you read his resumé -- all you have to do is go to the federal Liberal Party's Web site and it's right there -- he's counted paperclips and he's sharpened pencils, he's answered the phone and he's been the gofer for this and the gofer for that. He's made his living being a Liberal hack.
What is he going to get for his dedicated work as a Liberal hack? He's getting a $475-million guaranteed hydro contract at 8 cents a kilowatt hour, wholesale price. People wonder why their hydro bill is going to go up. Let me tell you, your hydro bill is going to go up because the McGuinty government is going to be busy shovelling money into the back pocket of this Liberal hack.
If you go and look even at his own CV, it says that his other experience in life besides counting paperclips for the Liberal Party is some sales at the Bank of Commerce. Has this guy ever worked for an electricity company? No. Does he know how to put the plug-in in the wall? I doubt it. Has he got any experience working for an electricity company? No. He is a Liberal hack and he's going to get a $475-million contract, guaranteed at 8 cents a kilowatt hour. That's why the hydro bill is going to go through the roof.
It doesn't end with him. Then there is Brascan, and I want people to know about Brascan. Brascan is the outfit that picked up for a song three hydro dams that used to be owned by the people of Ontario and produce electricity for about half a cent a kilowatt hour. Then, when the price of electricity went through the roof a couple of summers ago, they literally drained a lake to make money. In fact, the Sault Ste Marie Star has a picture, and what you see on either side of the picture is basically lake bottom. What you see sort of trickling down the middle of what was a lake is a little bit of water. That's after Brascan drained the lake. The natural environment doesn't matter. Fish and wildlife don't matter. The tourism industry didn't matter. All those people who owned cottages and tourist resorts didn't matter. Brascan was going to empty the lake to make money.
Who did this government give the other lion's share of the wind turbines to? Why, it's that incredibly environmentally responsible company, Brascan. Brascan has a horrible environmental record -- drained a lake in pursuit of profits -- and who does the McGuinty government give the lion's share of the wind turbine contracts to after the Liberal hacks have been at the trough? Brascan. That's why you're imposing time allocation to ram this legislation through: because that's embarrassing for you.
It is bigger than that. What I found really interesting was the Association of Major Power Consumers in Ontario -- certainly not friends of New Democrats; they probably wouldn't want to be caught dead talking to New Democrats. The association of major power consumers are very, very clear on what's going on. In their brief they say that if you stack up the privatization of electricity under the McGuinty government, and then you stack up the Mike Crawleys, who get their $475-million contracts, and then you stack up some of the other shenanigans, like the duplication now of private sector bureaucracies and public sector bureaucracies, "For industry, the price of electricity is going to go up by at least 30%, more likely 50%." They're very clear about what is going to happen. Bowater paper came and said, "You're going to see more paper machines shut down. You're going to see more paper mills shut down." Steel companies came and said the same thing.
That is why we're seeing time allocation. The McGuinty Liberals are embarrassed by the hydro policy that they're trying to --
Mr Duncan has moved third reading of Bill 100, An Act to amend the Electricity Act, 1998 and the Ontario Energy Board Act, 1998 and to make consequential amendments to other Acts. Is it the pleasure of the House that the motion carry?
All those in favour, say "aye."
All those opposed, say "nay."
In my opinion, the ayes have it.
Call in the members. There will be a 10-minute bell.
The division bells rang from 1748 to 1758.
Be it resolved that the bill do now pass and be entitled as in the motion.
It being after 6 o'clock, this House stands adjourned until 6:45 pm.
The House adjourned at 1801.
Evening meeting reported in volume B.
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