The House met at 1330.
INTRODUCTION OF MEMBER FOR
I beg to inform the House that during the adjournment a vacancy has occurred in the membership of the House by reason of the resignation of Michael D. Harris, as member for the electoral district of Nipissing, effective the second day of April 2002.
Accordingly, I issued my warrants to the Chief Election Officer for the issue of writs for by-elections.
I beg to inform the House that the Clerk has received from the Chief Election Officer and laid upon the table a certificate of the by-election in the electoral district of Dufferin-Peel-Wellington-Grey.
"Mr Claude DesRosiers
"Clerk of the Legislative Assembly
"Dear Mr DesRosiers:
"A writ of election dated the third day of April, 2002, was issued by the Honourable Lieutenant Governor of the province of Ontario, and was addressed to Terry W. Sutton, returning officer for the electoral district of Dufferin-Peel-Wellington-Grey, for the election of a member to represent the said electoral district of Dufferin-Peel-Wellington-Grey in the Legislative Assembly of this province in the room of David Tilson who since his election as representative of the said electoral district of Dufferin-Peel-Wellington-Grey hath tendered his resignation. This is to certify that, a poll having been granted and held in Dufferin-Peel-Wellington-Grey on the second day of May, 2002, the Honourable Ernie Eves has been returned as duly elected as appears by the return of the said writ of election, dated the tenth day of May, 2002, which is now lodged of record in my office.
"John L. Hollins
"Chief Election Officer
"Toronto, May 13, 2002."
REPORTS, INTEGRITY COMMISSIONER
I beg to inform the House that on February 27, 2002, a request by the member for Eglinton-Lawrence for an opinion of the Integrity Commissioner, pursuant to section 30 of the Members' Integrity Act, 1994, regarding the role of Mr Ernie Eves as Minister of Finance with respect to MPPs' pensions and compensations, was tabled.
I beg to inform the House that on May 6, 2002, the report of the Integrity Commissioner regarding the role of Mr Eves as Minister of Finance with respect to the MPPs' pensions was tabled.
Bill 155, An Act to provide civil remedies for organized crime and other unlawful activities / Projet de loi 155, Loi prévoyant des recours civils pour crime organisé et autres activités illégales;
Bill 98, An Act to proclaim May as South Asian Heritage Month and May 5 as South Asian Arrival Day / Projet de loi 98, Loi proclamant le mois de mai Mois de l'héritage sud-asiatique et le 5 mai Jour de l'arrivée des Sud-Asiatiques;
Bill 105, An Act to amend the Health Protection and Promotion Act to require the taking of blood samples to protect victims of crime, emergency service workers, good Samaritans and other persons / Projet de loi 105, Loi modifiant la Loi sur la protection et la promotion de la santé pour exiger le prélèvement d'échantillons de sang afin de protéger les victimes d'actes criminels, les travailleurs des services d'urgence, les bons samaritains et d'autres personnes;
Bill 122, An Act to conserve the Oak Ridges Moraine by providing for the Oak Ridges Moraine Conservation Plan / Projet de loi 122, Loi visant à conserver la moraine d'Oak Ridges en prévoyant l'établissement du Plan de conservation de la moraine d'Oak Ridges;
Bill 125, An Act to improve the identification, removal and prevention of barriers faced by persons with disabilities and to make related amendments to other Acts / Projet de loi 125, Loi visant à améliorer le repérage, l'élimination et la prévention des obstacles auxquels font face les personnes handicapées et apportant des modifications connexes à d'autres lois;
Bill 130, An Act respecting community care access corporations / Projet de loi 130, Loi concernant les sociétés d'accès aux soins communautaires;
Bill Pr3, An Act to revive 1268519 Ontario Inc;
Bill Pr10, An Act to revive 237661 Builders Ltd;
Bill Pr15, An Act to establish the Sioux Lookout Meno-Ya-Win Health Centre;
Bill Pr21, An Act respecting the City of Ottawa;
Bill Pr24, An Act respecting the City of Ottawa;
Bill Pr25, An Act respecting Nipissing University.
BOARD OF INTERNAL ECONOMY
WEARING OF DAISIES
Less than a month ago, more than 20,000 litres of chemical fertilizer was spilled in Brown Creek near the Sydenham River, where Brooke-Alvinston draws its water supply. There was no timely response from the Ministry of the Environment, even though they were notified immediately of the spill. The Ministry of the Environment waited three days before alerting the municipality of that chemical fertilizer potentially affecting their drinking water. The mayor of the town had the foresight to shut the town's water supply immediately after he found fish floating belly up. The ministry did not notify the townships for three days after this serious incident.
As we know, the fertilizer contains large amounts of ammonium nitrate, a dangerous flammable solid which can cause eye and skin irritation. This can cause severe respiratory and digestive irritation. Now, post-Walkerton, two years later, this government's approach to environmental response pertaining to drinking water has not changed.
The celebration held recently in London kicked off with a dinner attended by General John Gowans and his wife, Commissioner Gisele Gowans, the international leaders of the Salvation Army. Saturday included a barbecue for all the public and a sod-turning for the new Centre of Hope, an $11-million project which will offer an array of programs and services under one roof. The weekend concluded with a morning worship service of praise and proclamation followed by coffee with the general.
The Salvation Army has for many years served Canadians and the world. Services offered by the Salvation Army include acting as an emergency agency around the world, willing and able to meet crisis situations wherever they occur; community and family services that operate year-round; Cross Zone youth shelters which offer a safe haven to youths aged six to 21 years; addictions and rehabilitation centres that offer shelter, food and counselling to men, young and old, who have no place to turn; and correctional and justice services which offer a wide variety of programs for those who are in the criminal justice system and support systems for the families of those incarcerated.
Services in London include the Bethesda Centre and the London Village, with whom my father worked for many years.
The Salvation Army and its supporters are people who make our country and world a better place. I know all members of the House will join with me in congratulating them on their 120th anniversary in London.
ONTARIO DRUG BENEFIT PROGRAM
The federal government and the other provinces have funded this and approved it for two years. The minister indicated that this was clearly the first priority for the new Premier. It says volumes about the last Premier and this cabinet that it was put off this long.
But just a minute: this Premier was in the cabinet two years ago and in fact was Treasurer. There was absolutely nothing done at that time, a time when there was a budget surplus. This Treasurer authorized lots of health advertisements, but there was no money for health care while seniors went blind. Over the last two years, seniors have had to make the choice between going blind or going broke. They've had to borrow money, they've had to use up their life's savings or they've had to take mortgages on their house to pay to keep their eyesight.
The government is backdating this only to April 1. I implore the Minister of Health to revisit this issue and pay people who over the last two years have put their financial health at risk to preserve their own eyesight.
Great for doing it this morning, but finish the job and do the right thing for the seniors of our province who paid taxes all of their lives and went blind because of the indecision and procrastination over the last two years.
Since we were here last, the hottest topic of letters and calls to my constituency office, as well as among political commentators, has been the restructuring of our electricity system.
During February, March and April I held three town hall meetings on this issue in my riding, at which Shane Pospisil, director of communications for the Ministry of Energy, spoke about what he was doing and why.
These events, held in Listowel, Mitchell and Ilderton, were attended by more than 200 of my constituents. It seems that most people didn't understand what was happening, why we were doing it or how it would impact them. However, once they heard the presentation and had their questions answered, I found most people seemed satisfied. That's not to say they all agreed with our plan, but they seemed to accept that we were doing what we believed was best.
That satisfaction was in part because of the presenter. I want to take this opportunity to recognize Mr Pospisil for his ability to explain this complicated issue and for his patience in answering questions. I understand he has since left the ministry, and I want to wish him well in his future endeavours.
MINISTRY OF ENVIRONMENT
Yes, we have seen him barnstorming the Ontario landscape, conducting make-believe hearings on the sale of the crown jewel of Ontario electricity, Hydro One. Yes, we have seen him storm out of sham hearings when confronted with vehement opposition. Yes, we have even seen him try to wiggle out of the previously firm Eves position of peddling Hydro One for no good reason.
But have we even seen an apparition of the newly minted environment czar at 135 St Clair Avenue West? If he has entered the premises, he must be using burglar tools to get into a building that, by the way, appears to be for sale. Yes, incredibly, if we believe the signs, the Ministry of the Environment is for sale.
No glib assurances or witty quips to satisfy those who fawn at the humorous style of the bombastic Stockwell will satisfy the millions of Ontario residents concerned about the appalling state of our environment. Ernie Eves has made a big mistake in piling the environment portfolio on a minister who is, predictably, beleaguered by the onerous responsibilities of the energy and House leadership duties. This is a clear indication of the low priority the Premier places on the environment in Ontario.
You will know that our leader, Howard Hampton, and the rest of the caucus have been working hard on this issue, trying to get the government finally to understand the little bit of common sense that trying to sell off an asset that's worth $10 billion for $5 billion ain't a good deal for the people of Ontario and, at the end of the day, is not going to do anything in order to get to what their stated goal is, which is lower hydro prices.
It's interesting to note that last week, at a time when there was the lowest demand for hydro, the hydro rate on the spot market, through the new deregulated mechanism, was 14.5 cents a kilowatt. That's up from 4.5 cents, just before May, before they opened the market.
Now that's a scary thought, because that means that at a time when Ontarians are not using power to the degree that they would in the summer or winter, the daily price for hydro went to 14.5 cents. That is not even as high as we had predicated it was going to go.
We're saying to the government here and now that you don't have the right to privatize Hydro. You never campaigned on it. You never got the legislative authority. The only way for you to do it is to call an election. We're saying here today in the Legislature that if you want to go out and privatize Hydro, have the guts to go to the people of Ontario and call a general election over it, and then we'll see what will happen.
SOUTH ASIAN HERITAGE MONTH
While most South Asians came to Canada from India, many others came from such places as Pakistan, Sri Lanka, Bangladesh, Uganda, Kenya, South Africa, Mauritius, Singapore, Malaysia, Fiji, the United Kingdom, Trinidad and Tobago and Guyana.
Today, South Asians make up approximately 7% of Ontario's population and are proud to draw upon their heritage and traditions while contributing to many aspects of culture, commerce and public service across our province.
South Asian Heritage Month is an opportunity to showcase the accomplishments and successes of the South Asian community. On May 2 this year I had the pleasure of joining Ontario's Deputy Premier and Minister of Education, the Honourable Elizabeth Witmer, Minister Brenda Elliott, Minister Tony Clement and 800 members of the Ontario South Asian community at the very successful inaugural South Asian Heritage Month gala dinner organized by the members of the South Asian Heritage Foundation.
It is my pleasure to join with all members of this Legislature in recognizing May as South Asian Heritage Month. It is my hope that we use this opportunity to enhance our understanding and appreciation of our rich culture, heritage and traditions as we work toward making Ontario and Canada the best places in the world to live, work and raise our families.
However, on March 7 a few Tory caucus members -- John Baird, Tim Hudak and Jim Flaherty -- got together for a little homemade breakfast. They did this at a little joint called Ernie's House of Waffles. Hudak, Baird and Flaherty donned aprons with their now-boss Ernie Eves's face on them and they served up pink waffles.
Here's what Jim Flaherty had to say: "Ernie Eves is attempting to be all things to all people. I had once thought Ernie had no policy, but now I see he does have some policy. Problem is, they're different policies on the same issues.
"On the education tax credit, for example, Eves is saying one thing publicly and another behind closed doors and thinks no one is looking. When you say one thing to one group of people and another thing to a different group, that's wrong. Voters in Ontario won't buy it no matter how slick the presentation may be." That was Jim Flaherty.
I couldn't agree more. Ernie Eves's position depends on whom he is talking to. He says one thing to his buddies on Bay Street and another to Ontario's families. There is one thing that Jim Flaherty and I agree on: Ernie Eves will say anything to hold on to power. Ernie Eves has more positions than the Kama Sutra.
Nurses want MPPs to see first-hand their day-to-day responsibilities and working conditions. I appreciate the opportunity to speak with the front-line professionals in their workplace. Take Your MPP to Work Day gave me a better understanding of the commitment and dedication RNs bring to their vocation, as well as the demands they face.
Health care is the number one priority for most Canadians. There are areas in the health care system that do require our continuing attention. Recently our Premier's throne speech spoke to those needs with initiatives such as an expanded role for nurse practitioners.
Take Your MPP to Work Day has reminded me that we are very fortunate to have such skilled and caring front-line staff. We must ensure that we continue to support them and thank them for their outstanding contribution.
COMMISSIONERS OF ESTATE BILLS
Accordingly, pursuant to standing order 86(e), the bill and the report stand referred to the standing committee on regulations and private bills.
REPORTS BY COMMITTEES
STANDING COMMITTEE ON
Pursuant to standing order 105(e), the reports are deemed to be adopted by the House.
STANDING COMMITTEE ON
Following an extensive review of the Polaris project, the standing committee on public accounts would strongly recommend that the Ministry of Consumer and Business Services (1) reassess Teranet's estimation procedures for project costs and timetables, (2) implement improved accountability processes to ensure that relevant operational and financial matters are brought to the attention of key ministry officials by Teranet on a timely basis, and finally, (3) review its management of the Polaris project and the 2001 committee hearings, focusing on the problems encountered in providing the committee and the Provincial Auditor with access to relevant information in order to prevent a reoccurrence of these circumstances. Indeed, the ministry should provide information as required under the Legislative Assembly Act and Audit Act on a timely basis.
I move adjournment of the debate.
All those in favour of the motion, please say "aye."
All those opposed, please say "nay."
In my opinion, the ayes have it. Carried.
STANDING COMMITTEE ON
FINANCE AND ECONOMIC AFFAIRS
INTRODUCTION OF BILLS
ELECTRICITY AMENDMENT ACT
CORRIDOR LANDS), 2002 /
LOI DE 2002 MODIFIANT LA LOI
AUX COULOIRS DE TRANSPORT
Mr Sergio moved first reading of the following bill:
Bill 13, An Act to amend the Electricity Act, 1998 to ensure that the transmission corridors remain provincial assets to be used for public transit, recreational and similar purposes / Projet de loi 13, Loi modifiant la Loi de 1998 sur l'électricité afin de garantir que les couloirs de transport demeurent des éléments d'actif provinciaux devant servir aux fins des transports en commun, des loisirs et d'activités semblables.
The member for a short statement?
FAIRNESS IS A TWO-WAY STREET ACT
(MINERS AND FORESTRY
WORKERS), 2002 /
LOI DE 2002 PORTANT QUE LA JUSTICE
N'EST PAS À SENS UNIQUE
(MINEURS ET TRAVAILLEURS FORESTIERS)
Mr Ramsay moved first reading of the following bill:
Bill 14, An Act to prohibit Quebec residents from working in certain mining and forestry occupations in Ontario / Projet de loi 14, Loi interdisant aux résidents du Québec d'exercer certaines professions minières et forestières en Ontario.
The member for a short statement.
The Lieutenant Governor in Council may suspend the operation of the new act as it applies to a specified occupation if it is satisfied that the province of Quebec no longer restricts the right of Ontario residents to work in Quebec in that occupation.
All those in favour of the motion will please say "aye."
All those opposed will please say "nay."
In my opinion, the ayes have it.
Call in the members. This will be a five-minute bell.
The division bells rang from 1402 to 1407.
STATEMENTS BY THE MINISTRY
VIOLENCE AGAINST WOMEN
We are encouraged by our progress. The message is getting out: violence against women is a crime. We will continue to build on our relationship with shelters, educators, legal advocacy programs and child care centres to support our front-line workers.
Every year thousands of children see or hear violence in their homes. These children are at risk and often continue the legacy of family violence.
Through our prevention programs, we are continuing to help children and young people to learn how to recognize the signs of an unhealthy relationship. We have made substantial improvements to our system of supports for women experiencing violence; however, there is room for improvement, and we are doing just that.
In 2001-02, we spent over $145 million on programs and services to address violence against women and their children. This is an increase of 40% since 1995.
We are also working with the many community organizations and experts dedicated to preventing violence, supporting victims and educating Ontarians to end violence against women.
This government has taken action to ensure that the justice system treats victims with the respect and the support they need. We are allocating $4.5 million in funding over five years to create a crisis line for assaulted women, so abused women across the province will have access to 24-hour, seven-day-a-week crisis services.
We have also taken important strides to address domestic violence, including increasing the number of domestic violence courts. There will be 54 courts by 2004, providing enhanced prosecution of abusers by crown attorneys specially trained in domestic violence issues, providing support for victims and specialized processing of these cases.
We have also increased our shelter funding by $26 million over four years -- this was a new announcement last year -- to add 300 new shelter beds and to refurbish 136 others, and we are providing new funding for counselling, which will grow to $9 million annually, for telephone crisis service and other shelter supports.
May is Sexual Assault Prevention Month on Ontario, a time when we shed light on a crime most people don't want to talk about, the crime of sexual assault.
Sexual assault is all too prevalent in our society. According to Stats Canada, one in three women surveyed nationally, or 39%, has been sexually assaulted. The majority -- over 51% -- of sexual assaults are committed against women between 16 and 21 years of age. This means that by the time they reach adulthood, far too many women will have experienced this form of violence. This is unacceptable.
The physical, emotional and psychological toll of these assaults on women is immeasurable. The impact on their families and on society as a whole is enormous. Violence tears families apart, targets the vulnerable and destroys our communities.
That's why we proclaim May Sexual Assault Prevention Month, as a way to place much-needed focus on the issue and to reaffirm our government's commitment to make Ontario safer for all Ontarians. We have developed a province-wide toll-free bilingual victim support line that offers referrals to victim services, information about the criminal justice system and information about the status and scheduled release dates of offenders.
In addressing violence as a learned behaviour, we have developed a new feature on the Ontario Women's Directorate Web site called Let's Talk About It. Created for young women and men, Let's Talk About It helps teens to learn how to recognize the signs of unhealthy relationships, identify potentially dangerous situations and learn what constitutes sexual assault.
Working in partnership with our communities, we will continue our work to end violence against women. That is why today we stand in unanimous support of the Daisy of Hope Campaign. A public awareness and education program dedicated to ending domestic violence, the Daisy of Hope Campaign originated, as was mentioned earlier in the House, at Brantford's Nova Vita Women's Services several years ago, and I was there to launch this special announcement. It has since provided fundraising and public education opportunities for many women's shelters in Ontario. We encourage our members to show their support by wearing the daisy pin and to break the silence by acknowledging the impact of violence on the lives of women and girls in communities everywhere. Together we can make a difference by ending violence against women.
The emphasis on a law-and-order agenda by this government ignores the alarming 80% of women who do not, for many reasons, report on their assaults, and only 8% of the victims' access fund has been spent to date. The first point of contact for most women in need of help is through their community-based sexual assault centres. Minister, I am telling you today that these centres are struggling to provide outreach, counselling and education services.
We know that abuse in permanent relationships often starts in the dating years. Abuse against women is a serious problem among dating couples. One university survey found that 11% of male students were physically abusive toward the women they were dating and 6% used severe forms of violence against their partner. More alarming is that date rape has the lowest reporting rate of all forms of sexual assault, less than 1%. Ten days ago in Sarnia, 21-year-old Jessica was brutally killed. Her alleged murderer was her 24-year-old boyfriend. There was a restraining order, but both the crown and the police did not want him released in December 2001.
When will this government take a tough stand and crack down on the very serious threat of date rape drugs? Today in Ontario, a woman who suspects she may be the victim of a drug-induced rape can only be tested if she decides to get the police involved. We already know that less than 20% of victims go to the police. The government wants to drug-test welfare recipients but will not permit tests for date rape drugs.
The most shameful record of this government was brought to light by the Provincial Auditor, who discovered that in one Toronto shelter alone 1,000 women fearing domestic violence were turned away. In 1998, Hamilton taxpayers paid $5,000 to find emergency shelter in hotel rooms for abused mothers and their children. In 1999, that figure increased to $37,000 and, in 2000, skyrocketed to $172,000. We are just beginning to see the disastrous and cumulative effects of cutting social assistance, social housing and social programs.
If we are to put an end to fear and violence, we need to educate young women and men. The character education initiative announced by my leader, Dalton McGuinty, would go a long way in teaching both our sons and daughters about respect, responsibility, empathy, choices, courage and self-esteem.
In recent weeks, potential predators have come into our schools, ventured into the washrooms and waited for their prey: our children. This is nothing new, of course, but with fewer caretakers and fewer secretaries in our schools, the incidents have increased. Let us keep in mind that victims of abuse often grow up to be abusers.
Kids are dating earlier today. As a parent, that concerns me, but it also allows parents and teachers more opportunities for teachable moments. We can teach at home, and it should be supplemented in the school, that perverse power over another human being will not be tolerated. York region's character education program can be a model for the province on teaching all our students to respect one another, whether they are boys or girls.
Sexual assault is a form of bullying. Abusers don't become this way overnight. Unfortunately, not all children learn the lessons of respect at home -- and yes, that is where they should learn it -- but do we wash our hands of this responsibility when it doesn't occur at home? It truly does take a village to raise a child, and on this side of the House, we take that very seriously.
We need to begin to tackle the root causes of violence in our society. We are all responsible for ensuring that violence in all its forms, against women, children and men, is not tolerated. I join in wearing the daisy, a symbol of hope that we can put an end to fear and violence in this province.
We must recognize the women who work on the front lines of this issue, those who face the challenges head-on every day, those who continue to ask governments to make the links between sexual assault, domestic violence and violence against women and who continue to ask governments to take action to prevent sexual assault and violence against women. We recognize the work these women are doing, but if all the minister and this government do is recognize May as Sexual Assault Prevention Month, then not enough is being done.
Every year we hear representatives from this government say that violence against women will not be tolerated and then talk about the punishment that will be meted out after the fact. The hard reality is this: preventing violence against women in all its forms requires more than words from this government and more than punishment; it requires preventive action, and the action steps that must be taken have all been set out.
Two years ago we observed the death of Gillian Hadley, a mother of three who was sexually assaulted and murdered by her estranged husband. Her death was followed with a coroner's inquest. The jury in that inquest made a series of recommendations for this provincial government to implement to help prevent such future tragedies. To date, there has been no action on the recommendations coming out of the Gillian Hadley inquest, just as many of the recommendations from the May-Iles inquest of 1998 remain virtually unimplemented.
What do those inquests recommend? They recommend greater availability of shelter beds. They recognize that second-stage housing has to be made available. They recognize that in too many cases across this province, because of this government's attack against the poorest, because of this government's cuts to social assistance, women who fear domestic violence, women who fear sexual assault don't have the economic security to escape their situation. They have nowhere to go. They can't find an affordable place to rent. They don't have the money to put food on the table or to look after their children. Those recommendations have been made over and over again, but those recommendations are sitting on a shelf gathering dust. Meanwhile, women's safety, women's very lives are at stake.
In light of the recent rash of women who have been murdered by their partners or estranged partners, a rash of murders that echo the haunting events of June 2000 when Gillian Hadley was murdered, we demand more than words to end violence against women today. We demand action. Violence against women, sexual assault of women can be prevented. The recommendations are there. It's time for this government to do something on the prevention side instead of always talking about punishment after these tragedies have happened.
Born in Ontario, the son of a Presbyterian church minister, he graduated from the University of Toronto in 1937. Two years later he attended -- on scholarship, I may add -- Oxford University, where he obtained a degree in economics, returning to Toronto, where he obtained his master's degree.
During the Second World War, Mr Bryden worked as an economist with the federal government in Ottawa. It was then that he moved to Saskatchewan to join Tommy Douglas's CCF government. As Deputy Minister of Labour, he drafted much of that province's present labour legislation.
At Queen's Park, Ken Bryden had a reputation as a ferocious critic, and it has been said that many were afraid to face him in this Legislature. Both his friends and his enemies held him in high regard for his role in bringing about several important changes to both Canadian and Ontario politics, such as the creation of the New Democratic Party.
When the CCF joined forces with the labour movement to form the NDP in 1961, Mr Bryden drafted its constitution and also played an important part in all major party decisions.
During his years at Queen's Park, Mr Brdyen advocated for a provincial health insurance plan, fought for the province to pay for the construction of Toronto's Bloor-Danforth subway line, opposed the planned provincial sales tax and introduced a bill to limit campaign spending.
Mr Bryden retired from politics at the young age of 49 years, but some say he really never, ever left politics. He continued to be very concerned with urban affairs and was a naturalist and an avid bird watcher.
After leaving politics, Mr Bryden earned a PhD from the University of Toronto and later joined its staff, teaching political economics until he retired in 1984.
Mr Bryden leaves his wife, Marion, of 47 years.
On behalf of the government of Ontario and the PC caucus, let me express my sincere condolences to Marion and family, and let me express my appreciation for his contribution to our province and our country.
My friend Mr Sterling, Mr Bradley and some others will remember that the late Ken Bryden's wife, Marion, served here as the member for Toronto Beaches from 1975 until her retirement in 1990. It was when Marion was here that I had an opportunity to meet Ken on a few occasions. I was not here when Ken Bryden served in the 1959-67 period, but he certainly did have the kind of reputation that Mr Stewart's very fitting words highlighted. My colleagues who served with him remembered Ken Bryden as an extremely vigorous, lively debater in just the ways that have been indicated.
He could, I must say, not only be a fairly direct critic of the government, but at least on one occasion made a very telling observation about his colleague Stephen Lewis. Ken Bryden was one of those New Democrats in 1977 who was not very happy that the 40-year-old Stephen Lewis took his leave at what appeared to be the cusp of real opportunity for the Ontario New Democratic Party. As I recall, Mr Bryden said at the time, "Stephen arrived in the leadership too soon, and he has left too early."
He was a man of real intelligence and commitment, not just to the NDP provincially but, as has been indicated, Ken Bryden from the late 1930s through till almost the end of his life played an extremely important role in the democratic socialist movements not just of this province but of the country. He was, as was indicated, a deputy minister in the first CCF government of Mr Douglas in Saskatchewan. He played a very important role in the CCF-NDP here in the late 1940s through the 1950s. He was elected in 1959 and left for the Elysium of academe in 1967.
He was part of a group -- Jim Renwick, Stephen Lewis, Don MacDonald -- who certainly gave the NDP, and the CCF as it was for some of that time, very real clout and influence in this place.
I was just thinking that in the history of the Legislature we've had a number of parent-child members. We've had Harry and Bob Nixon, we had Allan and Larry Grossman, we had Elie and Shelley Martel. I can think of only two husband-and-wife combinations who were here, not at the same time: Ken Bryden, succeeded later by his wife Marion, and in the 1960s one of Ken's very distinguished colleagues, Jim Renwick, served for a time with his wife Margaret, who was a member for Scarborough Centre while Jim was a downtown member here in Toronto.
So the Brydens have certainly had an important impact on the public life of this province, and I want to say, as a former colleague of Marion, that we, as the Liberal caucus, want to convey our sympathy to her and the family.
But I want to say seriously to Marion and to her family that we remember Ken's contribution with fondness and we extend to her our sympathy and our condolences.
The second time I met Ken Bryden was before I was ever elected. I was a teacher, and I was living in what was then the riding of Beaches-Woodbine, and the former Premier, William Davis, called a surprise election in the spring of 1977. Apparently someone had presented him with an opinion poll that said, "If you call an election now, you'll win a majority and escape the minority government situation that you're currently in." So Davis called a surprise election.
I had come home from school this day and was actually packing my luggage, and there was a knock at the door. First it was Marion Byrden -- if you knew Marion, Marion wouldn't let you get a word in edgewise -- handing you a leaflet and insisting that you had to vote for the candidate for Beaches-Woodbine, which of course was her. Then Marion left and Ken came to the door. Of course, Ken was the organizer, and he wanted to know if you'd put up a sign and if you'd work on the campaign.
So I spent two minutes trying to say to Marion that I was taking a leave of absence from my job. I was going to where I grew up to be a candidate there, but Marion didn't hear a word of it. Finally, after about two minutes of asking me if I'd take a sign, if I'd contribute, if I'd work on the campaign, Ken suddenly recognized what I was saying to him, that I was leaving to be an NDP candidate myself. He said, "What are you doing here? Get out of here." He was the ultimate organizer. You could not move in the riding of Beaches-Woodbine without seeing the organizational efforts of Ken Bryden.
But he was also in his lifespan an incredible public servant. Anyone who reflects upon the achievements of the CCF-NDP government under Tommy Douglas in Saskatchewan, the incredible legislative measures that were introduced, the introduction of medicare, as we now know it -- Ken Bryden was one of those people who contributed specifically and generally to all of that.
Finally, he was an academic, and a very respected academic, at the University of Toronto. If you studied public finance or if you studied at all the intersection of economics and public life, Ken Bryden was there, teaching, writing, researching.
He was also an incredibly generous individual. I have to tell you, during the period of the NDP government from 1990 to 1995, every cabinet minister, indeed every backbencher, would receive missives from Ken Bryden indicating what should be done on labour law, what should be done in health care, what should be done on a whole number of fronts, all areas he had researched extensively. But he would often make sure as well that he contributed generously to campaigns, and he would search out candidates to make financial contributions to. In fact, following the 1999 provincial election -- in my riding, we always fundraise before the election and after the election -- I happened to be in my constituency office one morning and the phone rang. There was a very abrupt voice at the other end: "Hampton?"
"It's Ken Bryden here. How much money do you need?"
Of course, I said, "Ken, however generous you feel."
About four or five days later, Ken Bryden sent a cheque for $100.
He was an amazing individual who seemed to keep constant touch with virtually everything that was happening across the province. To anyone who reflects on his life as a member of this Legislature, his life as a public servant, his life as an academic, his life as a community organizer, not just in Beaches-Woodbine but in Toronto as a whole, and his life committed to his wife, who was also an MPP, he was really quite an amazing individual. I can say, I think, that all of Ontario is richer as a result of the kind of contribution Ken made.
Our condolences to Marion and to all those who knew and were close to Ken Bryden in his life. He was an incredible individual, and I wish there were more like him.
PREMIER OF ONTARIO
The rigours of private life were obviously a little taxing. I just want to let him know that he is back among friends. I hope no one takes particular offence at this, but the fact is that life in opposition isn't all that lucrative. We're not made of money. Our caucus all chipped in when this guy left, and we bought him a toaster. We want the damn thing back.
Premier, congratulations. Congratulations on winning your recent by-election. Congratulations also on your successful race to replace the last Premier and become our new Premier. I hope to do the same thing myself shortly. While I'm at it, congratulations to all in your caucus who sought the leadership. Through your tireless efforts, you have served your party well. Now, through your record of criticisms of your government, you will all serve my party well.
Premier, you have returned to public service. You knew what you were getting into, and still you returned. Politics, as you well know, can be a thankless, all-consuming, gruelling and exhausting job. But it can also be the most rewarding job in the world. Your job of Premier bestows on you the wonderful privilege of being in a position to make life better for some 12 million Ontarians. Draw strength from the knowledge that what you do is important and very worthwhile. As you carry out your responsibilities, draw strength as well from your loved ones. They, more than anyone else, will sustain you.
It has been my pleasure to get to know Isabel when she served in government. She is a fine person. You're lucky to have her on your side. For the life of me, I can't understand what she sees in you. But you are lucky to have her on your side.
You have spent the past few months travelling this province, as have I, Mr Premier. You know, as do I, that the people of this province are concerned. There will be time enough for partisan debate in this Legislature. For the time being, let me say this: this great province of ours needs us, needs every single person in this Legislature, to move it forward; not left, not right, just forward.
There's going to be an election in this province in a year or so. Between now and then, we both have a job to do. We on the opposition side must hold you accountable for how you govern. You must hold yourself accountable for how you govern.
Premier, you have a majority. In the end, just how accountable your government is to the people of Ontario depends heavily on you. You are the Premier of a province I care a great deal about. I expect that you will govern it fairly and with respect. As long as you do that, I will give you whatever help and support that I can, because that's my job. If you fail to do that, I will put as many roadblocks in your way as I possibly can, because that too is my job.
As their Premier, Ontarians need your unwavering commitment to serve the public interest. They need your integrity. You are here to serve this province. I respect that, and I respect you for it.
I want to wish you the very best of luck in your new job. Congratulations, Premier.
Many times we wanted to ask questions about Highway 407, but since he was not here to answer, we really couldn't ask him; now we can. Many times we wanted to ask questions about the lease of the Bruce nuclear station, but since he was not here, there was no sense in asking the question; now we can.
We understand that some, even some within his own caucus, wanted to ask questions about the MPPs' pension scheme, but we couldn't ask. I'm sure some will ask some of those questions now.
So I want to welcome Mr Eves back to the Legislature. What is particularly important from our perspective is that we know you can ask any question you like of the Premier. At no point can the Premier say, "That is not within my ministerial purview."
Of course, we would also like to know some other things, now that Mr Eves is back. We would like to know what you were doing during your eight- or nine-month sojourn on Bay Street. Of course, I expect many of those questions will be raised as well.
We want to wish you well. We want you to know that we are prepared to work with you and work with your government in terms of accomplishing some of the very positive steps that have been outlined that need to be taken. But we also want you to know that, in a role as opposition, we intend to continue to ask those questions, some of which I've already outlined for you today.
No doubt you're in a hurry to respond to those questions, so I would not want to intrude any further into question period time. We welcome you back to the Legislature, and we look forward to having the opportunity to review and participate in the agenda you put forward and most of all to improve upon that agenda when we find that it is a little short of the direction that we think is required.
Congratulations on your re-election to the Ontario Legislature.
I've known Mr Eves since I was elected in 1990, and I can certainly attest to the fact that he has always been most respectful of other people and their opinions, he has always taken the time to listen and to consult and then to take very decisive action. Personally, as I travel this province, I'm hearing very positive comments about the optimism and hope that I'm seeing. So, congratulations to Mr Eves on his return.
It's really great to be back here. I had missed the leader of the third party and his interjections and his somewhat un-subjective, very subjective, points of view on different opinions, but at least he has a point of view on some subjects. I look forward to entering into those debates, not only about the subjects he mentioned here today but others as well, although I must say that I do prefer your singing, Howard, to some of the remarks made here today.
I think you've both pointed out a very important fact of public life. I've sat on both sides of the Legislature for approximately 10 years each. I would say to both of you that it is much better over here on this side of the House. However, I think the leader of the official opposition is quite right: everybody in this place, all 103 of us, have a role to play in taking the province of Ontario forward. I would hope that I have the opportunity to demonstrate over the next year and more -- and more, I would add again to the sentence I just said -- responsible and responsive leadership and government to the people of Ontario. The people, regardless of which party they vote for, which candidate they vote for, have placed their trust in their elected representatives, and it's up to each and every one of us every day to earn that trust and keep on re-earning it for the people of Ontario, and we aim to do exactly that.
There are some very important objectives to be obtained here, and it's the objectives that are the important thing at the end of the day. There has to be a reasonable-cost supply of energy for the people of Ontario for many generations to come. Surely, that is the first and foremost goal that should be on the minds of all Ontarians, regardless of their political stripe.
Obviously, the $38-billion debt that the old Ontario Hydro built up over many generations has to be dealt with and there has to be an orderly plan to retire that debt. There has to be significant investment in infrastructure for hydro generation and for hydro distribution and wires for many decades to come, and there has to be protection for the consumer. And bearing in mind those four objectives, the government will listen --
Either you are listening or you are not. If you are listening, then you do the right thing: put this whole business of Hydro One on ice until the next election, and then you'll listen to the people in a real and genuine way when they get a chance to vote and to speak on this in a real way. Will you do that, Premier, put it all on ice until the next election?
It may suit you and your pals on Bay Street to sell off Hydro One, but it's not in the interests of Ontario families and Ontario small businesses. So why don't you listen to those people? They've been saying this for quite some time now. Why not do the right thing? Do the easy thing, Premier: put it all on ice until the next election and let Ontarians have a real say.
I'm giving you the best advice I can. Do the right thing: take Hydro One; put it on ice. It's bad public policy. It's bad politics. Do what families and small business want. Put it on ice until the time of the next election. That's the best advice I have for you, Premier. Stand up now. Take a position on Hydro One. Tell us what you're going to do with Hydro One.
Some time ago, in fact in June 1998 during the debate on the Energy Competition Act, your then-Minister of Energy, Jim Wilson, said, "We do not want a fire sale, so we're not talking about privatization. One of the reasons we're not talking about privatization is my dream for Ontario Hydro is that once again it will begin to return a healthy profit back to the shareholder, and that shareholder is the people of Ontario."
Why is it, Mr Premier, back then you would have us believe that you had no intentions whatsoever to privatize Hydro One, to sell off Hydro One, but today you are doing something completely different with your plans, the details of which you are unable to make forthcoming here today, to do something by way of privatization to Hydro One? Why is it that we should believe you today when you're telling us that we couldn't believe the then-Minister of Energy, Jim Wilson, some three years ago?
How can --
The government is telling us that a statement made by a minister of the crown during a very important debate over the restructuring of Ontario Hydro is to be given no weight. That's zero, that's nada, that's nothing.
Can you tell me, Premier, if you yourself, through your lawyers, have filed a document in court telling us that your minister's statements made in this Legislature are to have no weight, why is it that we should attach any credibility, any believability whatsoever, to your statements and anybody else's in the government when it comes to the future of Hydro One?
We'll just wait till everybody is quiet so he can ask the question.
The leader of the third party.
You also know you have no mandate. All you've ever mentioned was some obscure term called "competition." You've never gone straightforward and said to the people, "Do we have a mandate to privatize Ontario's hydro system?"
So it seems to me, Premier, that you have two choices: you can either listen to the people and cancel your dirty deal to sell off our Hydro, or you can call an election and let the people have a say. Which is it going to be, Premier?
Premier, it comes down to this: we know that Bay Street wants Hydro privatized, we know that Bay Street has calculated they can make a lot of money buying up generating stations, buying up Hydro One and then selling more of the electricity into the United States at higher prices, but we also know that as soon as they can establish those export markets, the next piece will be that they will want Ontario consumers to pay that much higher a price.
The question is this: are you going to listen to the people of Ontario, who are telling you, "Don't sell off our hydro system," or are you going to listen to your friends on Bay Street?
People aren't really interested in whether you talk to your Bay Street friends once, twice or seven times. What they want to know is, are you going to listen to them, the 70% of Ontarians who are saying this is a bad deal? Are you going to listen to them and cancel this deal, or are you going to call an election and let the people have their say directly? You need to answer that question, Premier.
His point is this: if you look at Hydro One, he says it is worth $9.2 billion. Now, we understand that your government would be prepared to sell Hydro One for $4 billion or $5 billion -- in other words, half price. Professor Myron Gordon says it's worth $9.2 billion. Who is telling you that it's only worth $4 billion or $5 billion and that you should sell it for $4 billion or $5 billion? Who do you have? Enron?
As for Maurice Strong, yes, it was Maurice Strong's opinion seven years ago that Hydro should be privatized. I was part of a government that said, "No, we're not going to sell off Ontario's most important public asset."
The question for you to answer is, if Hydro One is worth $9.2 billion, why is your government entertaining offers to sell it for half price?
IPPERWASH PROVINCIAL PARK
Premier, will you today finally allow us to bring some closure to this issue and allow for there to be a public inquiry around the events surrounding the shooting death at Ipperwash?
I want to raise another issue, raised in today's memo that I sent you, which raises serious concerns about political involvement. The OPP in this memo says, "reluctant, since it appears to be a land dispute," that there is a "colour of right" defence.
My question is this. There's more hard evidence here that could have avoided this situation. As a matter of fact, you're probably aware that the crown was forced to drop 43 charges against the First Nations because they had this colour of right defence. The OPP, before the shooting, suggested they had. A year later, the crown dropped all charges. It is clear that the civil case won't answer the questions. The legal community agrees that it won't answer the questions. Will you do the right thing and call a public inquiry today?
ONTARIO PUBLIC SERVICE
As you know, I was in communication with strikers and picketers on almost a daily basis and reported concerns to you to help our government and our employees reach a fair settlement, a settlement that would be fair for both sides. Minister, could you tell me, did we achieve that goal?
During our negotiations with not just OPSEU but, frankly, with any union that represents government employees, our goal is to find a negotiated settlement that's fair to the employees but also reasonable to the taxpayers of Ontario. I believe we've done that, not only in negotiated contracts with AMAPCEO and with PEGO, but certainly in this case with OPSEU as well.
During the recent by-election in Nipissing, though, I must tell you the Liberals' failed candidate there wrote to me and said there was nothing as important as resolving the strike as soon as possible at whatever cost. However, I believe it's also important to balance this with the interests of the taxpayers. The government certainly has a role to ensure that other government priorities are looked at, like health and education, rather than simply giving in to a $1.3-billion demand, which represented around a 43% increase.
I believe we reached a fair settlement, both to our employees and also to the taxpayers of Ontario and to the member over there from St Catharines, who is essentially --
Minister, we know that a strike is not business as usual, and while we know that there were a number of people who were inconvenienced by the impact of the union's decision to strike, we also know that a number of facilities operated on the 24-7 basis because their services were simply too critical to go without.
Minister, could you tell the House how the Ontario public service was able to manage during the strike?
I would like to point out that we had many folks who work for us who, through their hard work and dedication, were able to deliver these essential services. In fact there are nearly 1,000 managers across the public service who volunteered to work where help was most needed to ensure these services were delivered to the people of Ontario where they're needed.
We owe these managers in particular, whose tremendous dedication was able to make this work during the strike -- they made us very proud -- a debt of gratitude.
FORMER PREMIER OF ONTARIO
You know, with two Premiers occupying offices at the same time, it makes the people of Ontario wonder who really is in charge. No former Premier has ever been granted such a luxury, but for some reason this government feels that Mr Harris is entitled to such decadence.
My question to you is, under whose authorization did the move to give Mr Harris a retirement office at Queen's Park take place?
Premier, this Harris cycle of dependency must be broken. We don't mind giving Mike Harris a hand up on his retirement through OPP security -- God knows he needs it -- but the people of Ontario are outraged at having to give Mike Harris a handout.
My question, Premier, is, for how long must this Harris cycle of dependency continue? For how long are you going to force Ontarians to give the former Premier this shameful handout?
I'm sure the honourable member would be supportive of some of these organizations: 4-H Ontario, Big Brothers, Big Sisters, Boys and Girls Clubs of Canada, the Easter Seal Society of Ontario, the Sudbury Manitoulin Children's Foundation, the Volunteer Centre of Ontario, Volunteer Thunder Bay, Women in Motion, York Region District School Board and the Certified General Accountants of Ontario. I'm sure that you would be supportive of those organizations and many --
Over the last few months I've held three town hall meetings about electricity restructuring in my riding and have had many constituents write and call to ask what is happening and why. While they seem to understand the opening of the market, there have continued to be questions about why we are planning to sell Hydro One. Can you please explain why we're planning to do that and what is going on right now?
I also want to say that the average price the day it opened was 2.8 cents, considering it was 4.3 cents before the market actually opened. In fact, the average price hasn't exceeded the 4.3 cents that the market was before it opened. It has always been lower than 4.3 cents and in fact, yesterday, Sunday, it was 2.84 cents. So let's be clear. I understand the doom and gloom offered up by the leader of the third party and the opposition members. Talking about doubling of prices and rolling blackouts was in fact just doom and gloom. We have been prepared for this for some time. The market opened. It was a seamless opening. It's operating well. The regulatory bodies are in place, and Ontarians could look forward, I'm certain, to good, competitive electrical prices with fair supply.
What can Ontarians expect to see as the next steps in this process?
Let's be clear, though. The only thing that isn't on the table is the status quo. The status quo put this province $38 billion in debt with $17 billion of assets. In previous administrations, including the members' opposite, political expediency took precedence over sound financial decision-making. Freezing rates, piling debt on debt on debt and asking our children to pay our hydro bills is not an acceptable public policy position to take. So we are looking at a variety of options. We have our criteria, but we will not allow the Hamptons and the McGuintys of the world to continue to saddle our children with their hydro bills.
Premier, in April 2002 your government should have received about 150 million new federal dollars for early childhood development. In light of today's important announcement, can you tell us how much of that new federal money will now be invested in regulated child care in Ontario?
The question today referred to the early childhood development dollars that have been transferred to Ontario from the federal government. It was about $114 million. The comments that she refers to indicated that they wished more money to be directed to child care. At this time, we have decided that priorities in Ontario that need to be funded include things like funding for autism, for the Early Years challenge fund, for investing money in children's mental health. We have continued and, in fact, increased our investments in child care, but this money has been directed to particular priorities of our government.
Coffey and McCain also pointed out that child care was an integral part of the earlier McCain-Mustard Early Years Study. So integral that, in fact, it was the key recommendation when establishing community-based childhood development and parenting services. Now this government has completely violated the spirit of the agreement, has shelved that key recommendation from McCain and Mustard because this government has diverted federal money away from regulated child care and has also cut the budget for regulated child care in the province of Ontario.
The report says: "It is essential for the provincial government to recognize and fund quality child care services as the core of an integrated plan for child development...."
Minister, when will you endorse the recommendations made by McCain and Coffey and will you commit to providing new money in the budget for regulated child care in Ontario?
I understand there are requests for increased child care and I appreciate that. Certainly as a new minister, I give you my full undertaking that I will consider that. But in the interim, our government has decided that the best place for that federal funding to be invested is into programs like autism, like mental health, where we view the greatest good can be done by those dollars for the children in greatest need.
When the province decides which route it's going to go, you'll certainly have every opportunity to comment and participate in that debate. The proceeds from any potential sale of Hydro One, as I understand it, would go to pay the stranded debt. That's where they would go.
Can you confirm, Mr Premier, former Minister of Finance, that in the event there is an IPO, the first $4 billion of the monies realized goes not to retiring stranded debt, but rather goes to the provincial government in recognition of its equity interests in Hydro One?
OAK RIDGES MORAINE
However, accusations have been made by an environmentalist who is suggesting -- and he's capturing some profile through this accusation -- that somehow the government has failed to deliver on its original commitment as outlined by you in November. Minister, can you assure us today that this individual's accusations are unfounded and that, in fact, the government's announcement in November is consistent with the Oak Ridges moraine plan as supported by regulation?
All members of this House, including the member from Oak Ridges, should be very proud of the accomplishment. I think it's an historic achievement. It's an area of land that stretches 160 kilometres, that varies in width from north to south, that is unique and should be passed on to future generations. I think we should all be proud of that.
The water policies are cutting-edge. They will provide for protection of the quality of the aquifer as well as the quality of our cold-water streams. We have natural features protected, 100% of the significant features. The ones that are clumped together form core areas and they're connected with linkage areas from one side of the moraine to the other. There will be a trail system and there will be a foundation set up to oversee and to raise money from the federal government, from other partners and from environmental groups to bring this plan to completion.
I think it's an historic accomplishment. There are compliance requirements. Every official plan and every municipality has to come into conformity with the Oak Ridges moraine plan within 12 months, 18 in the rural, and there are huge fines if they're not followed.
The question is about what happens to the proceeds of any sale of Hydro One. He asked you to confirm what would happen with respect to paying down the debt. I know since he's asked the question the Minister of Energy has come and spoken with you and consulted with you. Perhaps he spoke to the issue; perhaps he didn't.
My question is this: are you telling me that you're the Premier of Ontario and you don't know what's happening in terms of where the proceeds of the Hydro One IPO are going in terms of paying down the debt? Is it going to paying the equity commitment, $4 billion, and then $1.5 billion to pay down the debt, or is it not? Either Conway's right or Conway's wrong. Which one is it?
So the question is, are we today flipping, are we flopping or are we flip-flopping?
OCCUPATIONAL HEALTH AND SAFETY
Minister, at this time of year, many students are preparing to head off for their summer jobs. For many, this will be their first time in the workplace. Can you tell us what our government has been doing to help prepare these young workers to ensure their health and safety at work is protected?
To that end, the new four-year secondary curriculum program in Ontario now includes for the first time health and safety information for grades 9 to 12, and teachers are provided the Live Safe! Work Smart! curriculum resource guide to assist in teaching this valuable information.
At the Ministry of Labour, we have taken a leadership role with many parties. I want to stress very clearly that the government is working with the Workplace Safety Insurance Board, 14 different health and safety associations, labour leaders, the Safe Communities Foundation, the IAPA, as well as a number of ministries, to develop programs where we can protect students in the workplace.
MUNICIPAL ELECTION FINANCES
Rather than wasting time shopping for another police force to look into this, why don't you call a public inquiry to get to the bottom of this allegation?
In that Mr Lyons was the government appointee to the Toronto police board, there's an even bigger reason why you should clear the air and call a public inquiry. Why won't you call an inquiry? Don't you know the facts behind the allegations? Don't you want the public to know how widespread the problems really are? And don't you want citizens to have a mechanism where they don't have to go from police force to police force in order to find out why these things are happening in Toronto?
MOBILITÉ DE LA MAIN-D'OEUVRE
DANS LA CONSTRUCTION /
CONSTRUCTION LABOUR MOBILITY
Même si nous avons eu la grève qui a duré 52 jours, je crois que vous avez eu amplement de temps, aussitôt la grève terminée, et que vous auriez les personnes nécessaires pour retourner sur les chantiers de construction afin de voir l'injustice qui se passe ici en Ontario qui est causée par la Fédération des travailleurs et travailleuses du Québec. Est-ce que vous avez été mis au courant de la situation ?
"Whereas the overwhelming majority of the people of Ontario wish to retain Hydro One in the realm of the public sector;
"Whereas Hydro One is considered to be the crown jewel of the electrical power structure in Ontario, and that for reasons of security it should be retained in the public domain;
"Whereas the sale of Hydro One would allow private interests to control the transmission grid for the entire province, for their own profit-oriented interests;
"Whereas an Ontario court judge has ruled that the sale of Hydro One is illegal;
"Whereas private interests stand to benefit from the sale of Hydro One at the expense of Ontario families;
"We, the undersigned, petition the Legislative Assembly of Ontario" to accept the advice of opposition leader Dalton McGuinty, who recommends that Premier Eves should "abandon his intention to sell Hydro One."
I affix my signature to this petition, as I consider it to be in the interests of the people of Ontario and I agree with its sentiments.
"Whereas an internal government document indicates the Conservative government is considering cutting the regulated child care budget by at least 40%;
"Whereas the same document indicates the government is also considering eliminating all funding for regulated child care and family resource programs in Ontario;
"Whereas the Conservative government has already cut funding for regulated child care by 15% between 1995 and 1998 and downloaded 20% of the child care and family resource budget on to municipalities;
"Whereas further cuts would run counter to the support identified for regulated child care and family resource centres by Fraser Mustard and Margaret McCain;
"Whereas the Conservative government received $114 million last year for early childhood development and will receive $844 million from the federal government over the next five years for the same;
"Whereas other provinces are implementing innovative, affordable, and accessible child care programs such as Quebec's $5-a-day child care program; and
"Whereas the need for affordable, accessible, regulated child care and family resources continues to grow in Ontario,
"We, the undersigned, petition the Legislative Assembly of Ontario as follows:
"We demand the Conservative government guarantee the current child care and family resource budget is secure and will not be cut under this government's mandate and we demand that future federal Early Years funding be invested in an expansion of affordable, regulated child care."
Speaker, in light of the report released today by McCain and Coffey, this report is more important than ever. I agree with the petitioners.
"To the Legislative Assembly of Ontario:
"Whereas we, the undersigned, support the philosophy of caring for the elderly, the handicapped and the infirm within their homes and communities wherever possible; and
"Whereas caregiving by paid professionals in the home is not always the preferred choice of family members; and
"Whereas we believe in some circumstances it is more reasonable and compassionate for the government to use the money assigned to professional caregivers to support those family members who would prefer to remain at home to care for their relatives; and
"Whereas caregivers who work outside the home often carry an extra burden of guilt and anxiety when they leave their loved ones in the care of strangers while they go out to work;
"Therefore we, the undersigned, petition the Legislative Assembly of Ontario to provide financial support to those residents of Ontario who choose to remain with their loved ones and care for them at home. And we respectfully ask that the Minister of Health and Long-Term Care and any other relevant ministries give full consideration to developing legislation and policies to support caregivers who care for their relatives in their homes."
I am pleased to support and sign this on their behalf.
"Whereas Ernie Eves is planning to ram through the sale of Hydro One without a mandate from the people of Ontario; and
"Whereas an Ontario court judge has ruled that the sale of Hydro One is illegal; and
"Whereas Ernie Eves's Bay Street friends will benefit from the sale of Hydro One at the expense of Ontario's working families;
"We, the undersigned, petition the Legislative Assembly of Ontario to encourage Ernie Eves to take Dalton McGuinty's advice to put working families ahead of his Bay Street friends by immediately stopping the sale of Hydro One."
I have affixed my signature to this petition.
ORDERS OF THE DAY
THRONE SPEECH DEBATE
Consideration of the speech of His Honour the Lieutenant Governor at the opening of the session.
To the Honourable James Bartleman, Lieutenant Governor of Ontario:
We, Her Majesty's most dutiful and loyal subjects, the Legislative Assembly of the Province of Ontario, now assembled, beg leave to thank Your Honour for the gracious speech Your Honour has addressed to us.
Before I begin I would like to indicate that I will be sharing my time this afternoon with the member for Kitchener Centre.
On behalf of the people I represent in my riding of Scarborough Centre, it's my honour and privilege to move today the adoption of the first speech from the throne from the government led by Premier Eves, and I would submit that history will record this to be the first of many speeches from the throne introduced by the Eves government.
I say this because I'm confident that the people of Ontario will continue to demand strong leadership from their government. The reason for this is simple: Ontario's Progressive Conservative government has broken the mould and has actually kept the promises it made to the voters during the 1995 and 1999 election campaigns.
I, together with my fellow members on this side of the House, promised voters at the doorsteps that we would cut taxes, and we did, despite those across the way who said it couldn't be done. We promised that we would create an economic environment that would create new jobs, and we did, with more than 880,000 new jobs being created since we took office in 1995. And we promised to balance a budget that had grown dangerously out of balance, and on this too we delivered, and Ontario's economy is now extremely healthy.
When tough decisions had to be made we were there. As a result, Ontario is now in a new era. We must of course continue to be fiscally responsible. We must continue to work at making Ontario an even more attractive place in which to do business and create new jobs. That is what the constituents of Scarborough Centre tell me they want, just as I am sure that all Ontarians desire that Ontario be a leader in economic growth and in job creation.
This government did not make the tough decisions just for the sake of being tough. No, they were made because we knew that the tough decisions of yesterday would yield an economic environment that would allow us today to provide greater services to the people of Ontario.
Two weeks ago I had the honour of welcoming health minister Tony Clement to Scarborough Centre. He was there to announce capital funding of $15.4 million for the Scarborough Hospital. I was particularly proud to be part of that announcement because I believe it is an example of the good news that has been made possible by the tough decisions that we made earlier. In fact, the Minister of Health's announcement followed similar announcements across the province.
A strong economy permits this kind of investment. This government, by focusing on creating a strong economy, has got the fundamentals right. That is why we are able to invest in the services that my constituents and all Ontarians want and need.
Let me take a few moments to look more closely at the detail contained in the throne speech. I submit that the detail of the throne speech reflects quite closely that the government has listened to the concerns of Ontarians. It has listened and now it is acting on those concerns. That's why the government is planning to deliver more stability in classrooms and hospitals by introducing a three-year base funding model for school boards and is moving toward multi-year funding for Ontario hospitals. This progressive step forward addresses the concerns of front-line workers in both sectors. Multi-year funding provides our hospitals and our school boards with an environment where they can plan ahead to meet the future needs of our community. By providing these measures, the government is providing hospitals and school boards with the tools to obtain better results: better health care outcomes and better student achievement, something I believe we all want in this House.
These are important bottom lines. It's important to recognize them because they are indicators of better health care delivery and better student achievement. By managing the province's finances wisely, by fuelling economic growth and tax revenue -- in short, by getting the province's bottom line in order -- the government has positioned itself to fundamentally improve the workings of our hospitals and our school boards.
We know it was not easy, but today we can recognize that the tough decisions of the past are now yielding improvements in all areas that our citizens value most. This is not all. The throne speech signals the government's intention to make further improvements to education and health care. I am sure that people have taken note that the first action of the Eves government was to put an additional $65 million into textbooks and learning resources. This, of course, was followed immediately by an additional $25-million expansion of the early reading program and the introduction of a new early math program. Once again, the government has directed taxpayers' dollars into areas of the highest priority.
We all know that students will graduate facing far more significant challenges than when I was young and when most of us were young. It is important that all students get off to the right start at school so that their student careers can position them to take a full part in Ontario's growing economy. That's why additional funds have been targeted to make sure that all students get off to the right start in their early years at school. These are important improvements to Ontario's publicly funded school system. Once again, we see that the government has listened and that the government has acted.
In Scarborough Centre, my residents have told me that they want education to be a priority with this government. They have also told me of their concerns with the present school funding formula. I was particularly pleased to see that the government has heard these concerns and has rolled out a plan of action. Last Friday, Dr Mordechai Rozanski and the Education Equality Task Force began their review of the education funding formula. Later this year, we will see the results of this review, and I expect that the report will provide guidance to better ensure that each and every school board has the resources needed to deliver a quality education to the children of this province.
Furthermore, last Friday signalled more action by this government to improve education across the province when the education minister announced that the next school year would see school boards having nearly $350 million more in funding than this year. This new investment represents an increase from $13.86 billion to a record $14.21 billion for the coming school year, which represents a 2.5% increase over last year.
There's more good news for education also. It's important to note that the new funding takes into account the different school boards and their different school priorities. That is why the government has set aside $200 million in the local priorities amount. This marks an increase from $100 to $200 per student for school boards to help meet their ongoing costs, including classroom teachers, special education and remedial help for students. On top of this, $86 million is being dedicated for enrolment growth.
Additionally, $15 million will be directed toward helping students who may be at greater risk of not achieving their educational goals. Taking into account that not all school boards are experiencing increasing enrolments, $23 million will help these boards offset the effects of declining enrolment.
Finally, the Minister of Education's announcement provides an additional $23 million for student transportation. Taken altogether, Friday's announcement means Ontario's school boards will enjoy more flexible funding to help them provide better learning opportunities for Ontario's children.
Of course, the educational needs of the province go beyond the school system. Today, many young people attend a university or college in Ontario, more than ever before. This is good news for an Ontario that is going to depend on highly skilled people to drive our economy to new heights in the years ahead. I've heard concern in my riding about high tuition fees, so I'm particularly pleased that the throne speech announced that the government will increase the student opportunity trust fund to give 400,000 students who have the academic qualifications but lack the financial resources the chance to realize their dreams of a post-secondary education.
There can be no doubt that my constituents in Scarborough Centre place a high value on making improvements to our overall education system. That is why I am so pleased to note the government's plans to improve education, as outlined in the throne speech. By being fiscally conservative, the government is able to target scarce resources to the areas that my constituents value most.
I spoke earlier of the announcement two weeks ago by the health minister in my riding. As mentioned, an additional $15.4 million will fund improvements and expansion at the Scarborough Hospital. This is in addition to the original capital grant of $23.8 million, which was announced in 1999 to expand the capacity of the Scarborough Hospital. Altogether, the Ontario government will be providing $39.2 million to make improvements for my constituents at the Scarborough Hospital. This funding will enable the hospital to expand its critical care wing and its birthing services. The expanded critical care wing provides a new emergency department, a state-of-the-art intensive care unit, a critical care unit and diagnostic imaging departments.
I know there was great concern in my riding and across this province when the Health Services Restructuring Commission was given its mandate. But the Scarborough Hospital funding announcements show us that the groundwork has indeed been laid to make Ontario's hospitals more effective and more efficient than ever before. The commission's directions and recommendations provided the basis for hospital capital projects. This has led to reinvestment through consolidation and expansion of hospital facilities in order to accommodate Ontario's growing and aging population.
Today, as a result of the tough decisions taken by the government in the past, Ontario is going through the most extensive modernization of hospital services undertaken in Canada.
I know that I can be fairly accused of looking at the world through the Scarborough Centre perspective, but I can also see that other communities are benefiting as well from the skilled financial management and foresight of this government. In fact, since April 18, I have taken note that the Ontario government has reinvested more than $366 million in 12 communities or hospitals or health care facilities across the province.
There was a commitment of $28.1 million to advance three components of Kingston General Hospital's capital redevelopment fund; $20.4 million is being dedicated for redevelopment at Sudbury Regional Hospital; $108.4 million has been allocated toward the cost of the North Bay Health Centre, which includes North Bay General Hospital and the Northeast Mental Health Centre; $73 million was announced for various projects at the Ottawa Hospital, including renovations to the critical care, birthing and in-patient units at the General site.
Over the past month, we have also seen over $14 million in capital grants, including $7.8 million in cancer services announced for the Hamilton Regional Cancer Centre and $6.9 million to complete a new tower at St Joseph's Healthcare in Hamilton. A further $21.6 million is being invested at London's St Joseph's Health Centre, while $32 million was allocated to the London Health Sciences Centre. As well, $11.2 million is being dedicated to fund improvements and expansion at Lennox and Addington County General Hospital.
I would be remiss if I did not mention Mr Ken White, president of the Trillium Health Centre in Mississauga South, as mentioned by my good friend Mrs Marland, who recently acknowledged publicly that the inaction of previous governments was what led to the funding pressures that we have now been able to deal with.
I could go on, for I have not exhausted the list of new health care funding announcements that have been made over the last month. I think, however, that you can sense that major investments are being made to better ensure quality health care for the people of this province in the years ahead.
Once again, with the benefit of hindsight, we can see that the tough and, I will admit, sometimes unpopular decisions of the past are now yielding the results that Ontarians can applaud and welcome.
As important as improvements to our hospitals are, they are not the sum of quality health care for Ontario's citizens. That is why the throne speech signals advances in many other areas.
The government has again been listening. That's why the role of nurse practitioners will be expanded. The government will more than double the number of nurse practitioners and expand their presence into long-term-care facilities, community health centres and emergency rooms.
As you know, the government has been taking steps to provide around-the-clock health care service to the people of Ontario. Telehealth, a service where an individual can contact a nurse at any time of the day or night, is now in place across the province to assist with health care advice from the comfort of your home.
People have told me that they want quality health care around the clock and quality health care that is universally accessible. That is why the government has created family health networks. Family health networks are another innovative and important part of the government's plan to increase access to medical services. Fourteen pilot projects are already underway across Ontario, and the target is to see 80% of eligible family physicians practising in family health networks. The goal, as always, is to respond to the requests that government improve the quality and accessibility of health care for Ontarians wherever they live.
Since 1995 the government has increased the number of MRI machines by almost 400%, from eight to 41. I remember very well the joy I felt when former Minister of Health Jim Wilson quickly responded to my plea for new diagnostic imaging at the Scarborough Hospital, as well as renal dialysis. That was back in 1995, when Scarborough had been waiting for years for these advanced diagnostic tools. That day was among the most satisfying of my political career. I'm very pleased to see that communities across Ontario have been the beneficiaries of these new technologies just as my constituents in Scarborough Centre have.
I am very pleased, therefore, to learn from the throne speech that the government plans to add more MRIs and will immediately increase their OHIP-funded hours of operation by 90%. This means that Ontarians will have the best access to MRI diagnosis in all of Canada.
The throne speech makes clear that education and health care are key priorities of the Ernie Eves government. As I have said, the positive steps forward contained in the throne speech did not spring from thin air. No, today's improvements are made possible because the government was prepared to make the tough decisions that previous governments lacked the courage to make. In their naïveté they thought we could tax and spend freely without making sure the fundamentals were in order. We have learned some valuable lessons over the years. Talk is cheap, but real economic reform leading to more resources for peoples' priorities is much harder. Now we can finally see from the throne speech that tough decisions do yield handsome rewards.
Look at the economic achievements of the government. Since 1995, more than 880,000 net new jobs have been created as a direct result of the prudent economic management of this government. Our tax cuts have indeed yielded the economic growth that I promised to my voters at the doorstep in 1995. Ontario is now back on the right track. We continue to create new jobs despite the economic slowdown south of the border. Where once we paid out welfare benefits, people are now working and contributing the taxes that enable the government to make new investments in health care, education and the environment.
This throne speech shows that Ontario is indeed on the right track. I am accordingly pleased and honoured to move adoption of the Ernie Eves government's first speech from the throne.
I want to say that as a government I think we have provided seven years of very strong leadership. That's a message that was given in the speech from the throne. I'd like to quote, if I could. Decisive leadership means having "the strength to listen and the courage to act."
Now, what has happened with that strong leadership? Well, the province of Ontario has led the economy of the country. Ontario has become, once again, the engine to drive this country's economy to be the strongest in the western world. That's quite an accomplishment if you just think about it. More than 882,000 -- 882,700 in fact -- net new jobs have been created in the province of Ontario since 1995. That means that 882,700 people who were not working under the previous government now have a job. Some 600,000 people who were collecting welfare -- a piddly little cheque from welfare -- now have a job. They actually have a job that they can go to at 8 o'clock or 9 o'clock in the morning or, if they happen to work shift work, at some other time during the day, and they can then go home to their families with a little bit more money than they could when they were collecting welfare. They can feel a sense of pride, something that their family also needs to feel. Is it good for a family, young children, to see that their father or mother is on welfare? Is it good for them? Is that what we want? Of course not. Any government with a heart wants to provide jobs.
Now, we can either be a government whose largesse outstrips reality and creates all kinds of government jobs or we can try to create an environment in which the economy becomes so strong that jobs are in demand. That is what our government has done for seven years, and that is why I was very pleased to see that the direction of the government over the course of the past seven years will continue.
Now, are there some changes that will take place? Yes, there are some changes that will take place. We've all heard the critics, especially that left-wing alternative government that brought out its statement last week, say that there was a reduction in health care spending. We are now spending record amounts in health care in this province. No other government has ever spent what this government is spending on health care. Is it enough? Well, how much is enough? We have an aging population. We recognize that. We have more diseases. We recognize that. We have improved medications, improved drugs that cost a lot more money, improved treatments that cost a lot more money.
We also have a higher incidence of breast and prostate cancer. The Premier has committed to putting as many resources as we can to eliminating breast and prostate cancer in the province of Ontario in 10 years. Is it realistic? We have to have a goal, but we are going to put all our resources toward that endeavour.
Is there more work to be done? Yes. There is more work to be done to provide timely front-line access to important health services such as nurse practitioners. We know that we need nurse practitioners. We know that, because we know there is a shortage of doctors, not just in Ontario, not just in all of Canada, not just in North America; there is a worldwide shortage of doctors. There is a worldwide shortage of general practitioners. There is a worldwide shortage of specialists. We need nurse practitioners to pick up some of the load.
We need more access to community hospitals and diagnostic technology, like MRIs. We are going to double the number of nurse practitioners in the province. We will expand their role to include long-term-care facilities, community health centres and emergency rooms. And we are going to provide stability to our funding of hospitals. We will give them three-year predictability, which is what they want. David MacKinnon, the president of the Ontario Hospital Association, after the reading of the throne speech last week, was pleased. He said, "This is what we were wanting, this is what we were looking for."
Our government shares the goal of students; we share the goal of teachers; we share the goal of parents, to ensure that every student in the province has the opportunity to receive a high-quality education. Isn't that what everybody wants? We are world leaders in this province in ensuring that students have a high-quality education, but we know that there are challenges out there. We know that more resources need to be allocated. We know that more funding stability is needed. So we have endeavoured to give school boards three-year periods to budget and plan -- again, what they wanted.
There were critics in both the health care area and in the education area who said, "This is all very good, but the money they're talking about isn't enough." How much is enough? Do we want to go back to the days of the NDP government, when the government was spending so much money, building so much debt that the people of this province were being taxed into oblivion, when businesses were no longer expanding because taxes were so high, when working people were actually considering leaving the province, when we actually did have a brain drain, where young professionals were graduating from university and leaving the province? Do we want to go back to those days? I don't think the people of Ontario want to go back to those days. Certainly the people in my riding whom I have talked to for the last five months don't want to go back to those days.
There is no indication anywhere in this province, in spite of the NDP and Liberal criticisms -- the NDP and Liberals who say we should eliminate all of the tax cuts or we should put them off for a year -- and I have not had any indication in my riding that anybody wants to do without the tax cut.
The throne speech announced the expansion of a highly successful student opportunity trust fund. This will assist an additional 400,000 students in their educational pursuits -- 400,000 students.
Now, we announced plans to give municipalities the tools to move ahead on water treatment, transportation and other local infrastructure projects by offering opportunity bonds tax-free to investors. Some of you may think that that's anathema. On this side of the House, we don't that's anathema. And do you know the strangest thing? Municipalities don't think so either. They think that's a very progressive move.
The government also announced plans in the throne speech to double the number of nurse practitioners serving smaller communities. Now, smaller communities understand this -- a measure that will allow numerous communities to access important health services when a doctor is not available.
I already talked about the fact that many of the smaller communities have a shortage of doctors. My own community, which is not a small community, has a shortage of doctors, as does all of Ontario, as does all of Canada, as does all of North America. There's a number of reasons for that. I know the members of the opposition parties don't really want to hear this, but part of it is that it's difficult to attract young people to medical fields.
I've talked to a couple of the presidents at the universities and asked them about this, and they said young people aren't fascinated by medicine any more. It's a fact of life. It has nothing to do with morale. It has nothing to do with money. But it may have to do with the fact that the long hours of a medical career just don't interest some of them.
We know that doctors have made many sacrifices. I know a couple of doctors in Kitchener right now who are wrapping it up, closing their doors. One is in his 40s; another one is in his early 50s. My wife's rheumatologist is retiring as well, and he's in his early 60s. It's because of the strain on the medical profession.
So it will be difficult to attract increasing numbers of young doctors. But that's not just Ontario; that's throughout the world.
Ontarians have said -- and this was in the throne speech -- that they do not want classrooms and hospitals to be battlegrounds. I think I raised that issue with Premier Eves during the leadership debates. Of course I think you know, Speaker, that I supported the Premier in his leadership bid --
The Premier knows that these people have challenges. He knows that they have every expectation to be respected. He knows that they are respectable people. But I think we also have to face reality, as they need to face reality: that there are only so many dollars in the pot. There are a lot of demands in this province. Regardless of whether or not someone deserves more money, if we start giving in to every demand, then we're going to have massive deficits. I don't think the people of Ontario want that any more.
The first action of our government was to put an additional $65 million into textbooks and learning resources. That was needed. We knew that. That was immediately followed by a $25-million expansion of the early reading program and the introduction of the new early math program -- both needs that we on this side of the House knew needed to be addressed. The Premier committed to it, and did so.
We also heard over the course of the last six months, maybe longer, that health care was the number one priority of everybody in Ontario. In fact, it's the number one priority of everybody in Canada. Yet even though the provincial governments keep devoting more and more resources to health care, the federal government refuses to do so.
I don't like to criticize the federal government unjustly, but I don't think this is unjust. When health care became a government move in the 1960s, the federal government agreed to take on 50% of all health care costs. That has been ratcheted down through the years, such that the federal government now contributes 14% of all the costs of health care in the province of Ontario. The federal government does not contribute to pharmaceutical products. The government does not contribute to long-term care. The federal government does not contribute to any of the increased costs.
It was interesting. I was driving back from Madoc today. Of course, I'm in communication with my staff. I understand that the member for Timmins-James Bay stood up and was talking about the fact that the government has now recognized under OHIP that wet macular degeneration will be funded by the Ontario government; I think it was the member for Timmins-James Bay. Anyway, the comment was made that the federal government has done this for months. Contrarily, the federal government has not contributed one cent, not one cent, to wet macular degeneration. The federal government increase its share of funding? You've got to be kidding. The moon's made of cheese. It must be.
We are supporting our researchers. That is how we will endeavour to find a cure for breast and prostate cancer within the next 10 years. Wouldn't it be nice to eradicate those diseases?
If you think about it for a minute, we have an aging population, Speaker. You and I are in this age group that we now have to have a prostate test every year, and you and I could find out over the course of the next year that we have prostate cancer. Other members in this Legislature have done so over the last couple of years. This is serious. This is why it is important that we expend monies in research. That's why it is important that we spend time supporting our researchers.
We've created the Ontario Family Health Network, an innovative and important part of our plan to increase access to medical services. Fourteen pilot projects are underway in this province. It is our goal -- our target, if you will -- to see 80% of eligible family physicians practising in family health networks, along with nurse practitioners, along with nurses. We believe that this is an answer to providing timely access to patients throughout the province.
I do want to talk briefly about tax cuts. We don't want to do it just because it's some kind of ideology. Tax cuts do improve the economic climate. They are responsible for much of the economic prosperity that we have in this province. Why is it that we have outstripped the economic growth of every other province in Canada? Why is it that we have outstripped the economic growth of our most important trading partner, the United States? Why is it that we've outstripped the economic growth of every other country in the G8? Many of the American states have said that they wish they were moving ahead as quickly in the area of tax cuts. My only fear is that they are going to do likewise over the very near future.
Since 1995, I want to repeat, 882,700 net new jobs have been created in the province of Ontario. I can remember when the member from Scarborough-Agincourt six months after the election in 1995 would stand in his place and say, "You're behind target, only so many jobs have been created," and then a month later he would stand up and say, "You're behind target, only so many jobs have been created," and this went on, every month for about two years because he didn't understand the effect of economic lag. It takes time for the jobs to catch up to the improvements in the economy. Well suddenly, after two years, when the jobs were ahead of target, he was no longer standing up and saying, "You're behind target." We haven't heard any more from him about the number of jobs that have been created in this province. In fact, we haven't heard anything from anyone in the opposition benches, or the third party benches for that matter, about the number of jobs that have been created in the past seven years.
We all should take a sense of pride. Even if the members of the opposition or the NDP want to revel in some of the negative growth from time to time, we all, as members of this Legislature, should take pride in the fact that we have the leading economy in the entire G8.
You shouldn't just criticize, as members of the opposition. I'm not saying, "give credit," but revel in the efforts that the people of your ridings have made to create these jobs as well. And maybe just acknowledge, from time to time, that our economic policies have worked.
It's interesting that since 1995 the Liberals have opposed every tax cut that our government has moved to put into effect. In fact, the opposition Liberals have stated from time to time that they would move to repeal some of the tax cuts.
But tax cuts do improve the economic climate. They improve the climate for business, they do encourage investment and they do make our companies competitive. That's a fact of life. If you reduce your costs in any business, I don't care how it is, you become more competitive. Even the value of the Canadian dollar makes them more competitive.
We understand that creative solutions are needed to raise funds needed for important local infrastructure projects. We know that; we acknowledge it. So that's why we endeavour to give the municipalities the tools they need through the opportunity bonds.
In environment, the opposition can say what they want. In fact, from time to time I hear them raise the spectre of Walkerton. Let's raise the spectre of Walkerton for a minute. Under whose government were two people appointed who directly contributed to the problems in Walkerton?
We have introduced Ontario's clean water legacy trust that will focus our actions, our policies and our reporting, as well as enforcement efforts toward this critical goal. A clean water centre of excellence will be located in Walkerton. We're trying to fix what the Liberals didn't do either.
We also recognize as a government the need to ensure that Ontarians can depend on having reliable, accessible and affordable electricity today and in the future. Now, we have a situation with Ontario Hydro. We have Hydro One, which has been allowed through the course of many years to build up a debt of $38 billion. I will say this in very simple terms that even the Liberals and the NDP can understand. There's a debt of $38 billion, there are assets of $17 billion: 38 minus 17 leaves a stranded debt of $21 billion. In other words, gentlemen -- I'll reduce this to smaller numbers for you -- two minus one is still one, except that you have minus two and plus one, so you have minus one. In this case we've got minus 38 plus 17, so we've got minus 21, a stranded debt of $21 billion.
Somebody over in the NDP benches today indicated that we could sell a stranded debt of $21 billion for $9.2 billion. Well, I've got news for you. I'm a businessman. Granted, I was a small businessman and I didn't deal in billions of dollars; I only dealt in millions of dollars. But I've got to tell you, I wouldn't pay $9.2 billion for a business with a stranded debt of $17 billion.
The Premier has set out four very important objectives in the throne speech: we will ensure a sufficient supply of energy that is competitive; we will ensure that the necessary capital exists to rebuild and modernize the transmission and distribution of power in this province. Understand, Hydro One has indicated that not only do they have this massive stranded debt but they need somewhere between $5 billion and $8 billion to restructure the infrastructure, to improve, to modernize the infrastructure. So we have to ensure that that capital exists. We also have indicated in the throne speech that we must bring discipline to Hydro One to prevent the recurrence of this massive $38-billion debt. If I say it fast I realize it doesn't sound like so much.
Let me think: $38 billion works out to about $3,000 for every man, woman and child living in the province of Ontario. That's just the Hydro debt. If that's allowed to increase, then we are taxing our children's future.
I could have made a whole lot more money if I had stayed in business rather than come to this Legislature in 1995. But I came here out of a sense of frustration, a sense of devotion, a sense that I would not sacrifice my children's future any further.
Our fourth objective in electricity is to achieve the above three targets while protecting Ontario's energy consumers. Nothing could be more plain. We have seen, over the course of the last couple of days, the media's reaction to the throne speech across this province. The news media have been generally very positive. Even those who normally would be critical toward a PC government have said, "It looks good. It looks reasonable. Let's at least give them time."
We will continue our efforts in these areas, and we will continue our efforts on crime. I know that even the member from Brant will support us in that area. We are going to continue our efforts to stamp out child prostitution and child pornography, we will maintain a zero tolerance for violence against women and we will continue to reform our correctional system, making it tougher, safer and more efficient.
Is it the pleasure of the House that the motion carry?
All those in favour, please say "aye."
All those opposed, please say "nay."
In my opinion, the ayes have it. The motion is carried.
I am looking for another motion from the Chair of Management Board.
All those in favour, please say "aye."
Were there any opposed?
Hearing only one opposed, I declare the motion carried.
This House will stand adjourned until 6:45 of the clock this evening.
The House adjourned at 1701.
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