The House met at 0900.
ORDERS OF THE DAY
TOXICS REDUCTION ACT, 2009 /
LOI DE 2009 SUR LA RÉDUCTION
Resuming the debate adjourned on June 2, 2009, on the motion for third reading of Bill 167, An Act to promote reductions in the use and creation of toxic substances and to amend other Acts / Projet de loi 167, Loi visant à promouvoir une réduction de l'utilisation et de la création de substances toxiques et à modifier d'autres lois.
Just a couple of things at the outset: It's a fairly intensive bill, a red tape bill, if you will. There have been hearings. In fact, I'm kind of curious. The longer and shorter story here is that I'm curious as to how the government can live with this. They've kind of rushed it. It was introduced on April 7 and had second reading on May 5. Then it had hearings. Now, even to the extent of the hearings, I was in contact with some of my constituents-Detox Environmental, a very large and very successful but, I will say, very environmentally conscious business that deals with spills and other kinds of things, and many of these people work directly with the MOE, the Ministry of the Environment. I wanted them to have an opportunity-either them directly, or through their stakeholder organization-to present to the committee, but the committee was rushed as well. There were a couple of days in committee when the House was down-and it all gets down to the same old, what's the rush here?
This is an important thing. I want to make it very clear. Our position as a party is very clear. You might say that this bill-the government members often say that we're not in support of this. In fact, it is our idea. Let's be clear on this: We said back in 2007-and now it's 2009; that's two years ago our policy was out there-"Tory Announces Made-in-Ontario Plan to Reduce Toxins." I have the details here. It's a public statement. It's a press release. It's a plan with real action and real strategy to reduce and/or eliminate, and create more public awareness of, toxic substances. The goal of course was to eliminate and, at the least, reduce.
Now, it was modeled after a plan called the TURA plan, the Toxics Use Reduction Act that was executed in Massachusetts some years ago, I think it was in 1989. So we're quite aware and quite supportive of doing the right thing. We didn't do polls. We said that this is just good public policy. I'm surprised that somehow the characterization by the member from Oakville especially, pointing fingers at us when he should be pointing the finger at himself. They had the public hearings; even the Canadian Cancer Society responded unhappily.
Now, I see the member from Cambridge coming in. He often gets upset that I use part of his desk, so I'll put that aside. He is quite fussy at times. But he is a good friend at that.
Here is an e-mail I got from Kathleen Perchaluk-recommendations from them to strengthen the Toxics Reduction Act. It says:
"Mr. O'Toole, as you know, the Toxics Reduction Act will be debated during second reading in the Legislature." Now, this was back in April, and as I said, they rushed the hearings; our member from Haldimand-Norfolk can tell you that. I think he said it in his hour leadoff yesterday. It says, "As you may be aware, the Canadian Cancer Society, along with other health, environmental and labour groups, has been calling for specific measures to be included in the Ontario toxics use reduction legislation. Our recommendations are based on best practices in other jurisdictions and are echoed by the Ministry of the Environment's toxics reduction scientific expert panel." The final memo was released on April 7. So there was some consultation here, but they just didn't get it right.
Now, how many amendments were there?
There's some strong language in the legislation, but it's strong on hiring enforcement and inspectors and stuff like that-warrantless entry-that's the kind of stuff they've got going on here, but I'm going to stick to the Cancer Society's statement. Here are the five Rs:
"Reduce the release of toxic chemicals in places where people live, work....." Bill 167 does not include numeric goals or targets.
"Replace toxic chemicals where safe alternatives exist." This is the Canadian Cancer Society: "Bill 167 should make substitution a requirement....
"Restrict the use of toxic chemicals that are still in use through guidance from the Ontario Toxic Use Reduction Institute (OTURI).
"An institute was an important component to the success of Massachusetts's TUR legislation...." It is currently not part of the proposed legislation. The weaknesses here are evident: independent, non-partisan experts as opposed to the political interventions that I see in this legislation.
"Report annually on progress and monitor emissions, holding industry accountable to reduce their use of toxic substances through the development and enforcement of new regulations." These are their comments: "Setting targets and the development of an institute will help hold industry accountable by the government and the public."
"Reveal to all Ontarians the toxic chemicals in their workplace, community and homes through an identifiable product label or symbol and access to a public database.
"Bill 167 should include a component for product labelling."
There's the five Rs. They have failed completely on each and every one of those requests. In fact, they ignored-to their peril, I believe-the advice given by the cancer society. I appreciate the letter here and the other communications from Rowena Pinto, senior director of policy at the Canadian Cancer Society, Ontario Division. The society strongly feels that all Ontarians have the right to know if they are being exposed to carcinogens in the products that they use every day. The society believes there should be a strong focus on community right to know, because with more information about toxic substances we are being exposed to, Ontarians can make a better decision about their health and the health of their families. A strong community right-to-know component would fulfill one of the government's key objectives of Bill 167, which is to inform Ontario.
Look, I want to repeat, at the risk of sounding redundant or rhetorical here, that we believe in this goal. It's clear the government does not. I don't know what their agenda is; I wouldn't impute motives. I have no clue on why they're doing it the way they're doing it. All of the deputants-it's my understanding from the member from Haldimand-Norfolk, who sat through the days-was it one day of hearing?
Let's put context around this. Ontario is a large province that represents probably a third of the population of Canada, probably about-well, it used to be 50% of the economy of Canada. It's now dead last; it's probably a smaller component. It's tragic. The whole thing seems to be going in the wrong direction. But here's the issue: We really believe that we've got to work in partnership, and here are the partnerships, Mr. Speaker. You would know this, because you spoke yesterday about not wanting a wind turbine in your riding.
Here's the issue: The federal government has, as we know, CEPA, the Canadian Environmental Protection Act, and they have the CMP, the chemical management plan. In this, there are federal standards. Why is it so important that we have national standards? Well, it's very simple: You can't work in isolation in the economy of North America, let alone the economy of Ontario. Whether you are importing or exporting products, trading or transporting products-and the product labelling, with the trucks that go down the road that have these hazardous labels on them-there need to be national standards and there needs to be conformance with those standards; that's the first and primary role of Ontario.
I can't understand why-it's sort of like the Cosmetic Pesticides Ban Act. There's another case where they want to appear to be doing the right thing but in fact there are federal standards. It's called the pesticide management act, and it's the same thing. Federally, we do have these standards, and Ontario is sort of going it alone. It would be different if they were making it stronger. They're not. They're actually not making it stronger, they're making it weaker or more-how would you say? They call it transparency, but it really is making it more confusing, because for the-let's work this down to the small business person, a small shop. We're dealing with another bill-I don't like to mix them up-the apprenticeship bill, which is a tragedy in itself-another thing they've screwed up. But here's the issue there: A small shop; they're going to have all these manuals, big piles of manuals. What are they doing today? I looked at it. In fact, I worked in industry for about 30 years. I worked in the components of training, safety and personnel, but I actually worked as a plant manager-not the manager of a plant but of a section in a plant, a very successful company at the time. The point is that I clearly recall in my 30 years there that we had rules at the time, and they were called OHSA, the Occupational Health and Safety Act.
I have another one of my peers-they must have come this morning to hear me speak, I guess. They're normally not here all the time.
Paramount under the Occupational Health and Safety Act, there were clear rules of worker safety, the workplace hazardous materials information system-they were called WHMIS rules. Many members here-probably Mr. Leal from Peterborough-would remember WHMIS rules. WHMIS rules were an information system where you could access materials that could expose you to risk. These rules were how to handle, contain, control, safety precautions, cleanup precautions and what the constituent parts were, outlined on sheets called MSD sheets. These sheets were unique to each product and what treatment action would be required if your skin or other parts of your body came in contact with it.
So it's not like there were no rules on this. They're acting like they're inventing something. They're not; they're interfering with something, with a system. The principle here is, what are they trying to do? First of all, they're rushing it through. They're not listening to the stakeholders-they never adopted one amendment-and they want this thing done this week. They're probably going to have to time-allocate it. What's the rush?
Let's get it right. We want to do the right thing; I think you don't want to do the right thing. But they're the government, and at the end of the day they will force-their members will have to vote, otherwise they'll be kicked out of their caucus. Those members will dutifully vote yes, like little sheep walking into the slaughterhouse. It's tragic. What have they got to hide? I keep raising this issue of the uncertainty of their motive.
In my riding this is so important-I have to get down to a more serious tone in the conversation with the people of Ontario. First of all, we have the challenges facing the auto sector, and of course my riding of Durham and that of my colleague Christine Elliott-who is probably going to be the new leader of the party, according to the paper this morning-and also Jerry Ouellette's riding of Oshawa.
There was a presentation to the committee by the Canadian Vehicle Manufacturers' Association; it was made by Mark Nantais. I've got the submission here and, as the member from Haldimand-Norfolk said, I think some members on the government side didn't even listen to the input. I don't want to impute motive; I think they ignored them. Why? Because they didn't pass one of the suggestions, not even part of one. I don't think they even asked any questions that were respectful to the issue.
I had sent out a memo to my constituents, because of the rush-I had to send this out, as I said, to Detox and other constituency businesses. I advised: "There are opportunities for input at public hearings ... in Toronto, May 13 and May 25. Interested people ... should contact the committee clerk," and I gave the clerk-I also sent it to David Orazietti, who is the Chair of the committee, to advise them of my concern that they had to make space and time for these constituents: real people, real jobs and wanting to do the right thing.
Mr. Nantais appeared on behalf of the auto sector. Here's really what he wanted, in summary-unfortunately, I'm running out of time. Could I have more time, I wonder, maybe up to an hour? I could probably get it done in an hour. I'm sure some people would change their minds.
Anyway, "providing a clear definition of `toxic' in the act"-there's no definition of "toxic" in the bill. Under section 2, the definitions section, they don't define it. Here it is. I'm looking at it. Here's the bill: 44 pages, 22 in English and 22 in French. Here is section 2, "Definitions." They've got "justice," and "minister" is well described, because he has run the whole thing from his office, and "provincial officer." "`Toxic substance'"-here it is-"means a substance prescribed by the regulations as a toxic substance for the purposes of this act." That's sort of like saying, "Yes," and, "Look up in the dictionary what `yes' means." Anyway, I'm concerned about what they're hiding here, because almost everything in the bill is in regulation.
I'm going back to the bill, because when I looked through it, I was trying to make sense of some of it. Here's another good one, section 46 of the bill, "Protection from personal liability." Guess who's protected? Mr. Speaker, you'd be interested in this, as kind of a policeman here today. "No action or other proceeding may be instituted against the following persons for any act done in good faith in the execution or intended execution of any duty or authority under this act...." It says a member of the tribunal can't be called to court and held liable or accountable. An employee of the ministry, the inspector who shows up and gives you a hard time-and provincial officers. You can't take any action; they're immune from prosecution.
The regulations section starts in section 49. It's four columns. It goes right from (a) to (z), and each one of them has two or three subsections. The whole bill is defined in regulation.
So we're passing a bill, but we really don't know what the toxic substances are, what the reporting mechanisms are and what the inspections are.
I do know that the provision here-it says "crown"; it's warrantless entry. They can enter your property day or night, if they suspect something is happening, and start fooling around with your patent information.
As I said, Mr. Nantais had another one:
"Allow for one plant facility plan to address multiple toxic substances and the substances of concern" and provide for more flexibility in methodology of use.
"Provide equivalency with other certified environmental management systems"-EMS-"such as ISO 14001, without any changes to the EMS, and actually provide, again, powers to the ministry directors to recognize such plans under the act...." There are plans. Most companies aren't out there to be sued for some liability for some substance.
"Providing for some of the same exemptions as those afforded in the NPRI"-the national pollutant release inventory.
"Exemption of vehicles from the consumer products provisions in the act, as they are already covered under federal legislation"-in my riding, there's a cement industry.
My concern is, what's the rush? We want to do the right thing.
I don't see anything in this bill that's supportable. It's not transparent; it's not clear. At a time when there are so many other concerns, with the economy going down the drain, the people of Ontario without income, the new HST tax-they are going completely in the wrong direction.
Having been through the hearings and the second reading debate and having gone through clause-by-clause, generally I don't agree with what the opposition has to say about this bill, but I have to say that there are a number of things where they're exactly on the money.
This is a bill in which, overwhelmingly, what we have is a series of clauses that give the Lieutenant Governor in Council power to set regulation. So for us, we're voting on a bill whose substance is limited at best.
We are voting on a bill that, as the member from Durham talked about, has not gotten a ringing endorsement from one of the most significant stakeholders in all of this, the Canadian Cancer Society. I will be quoting them when I make my commentary, but he's entirely correct. If in fact this bill has come forward, doesn't have teeth, really amounts to a blank cheque for the government, which, from the perspective of the opposition, can be written for draconian legislation, and from the perspective of the NDP, simply allows the government to cut a deal with whatever industry it wants and do extraordinarily little to deal with the problem we have-that's all that's on the table.
I'm not going to hold up this bill. I'm going to speak to it today. I've recommended to my caucus that we vote for it-not out of any enthusiasm, as has probably been gathered. But, frankly, the question does arise, what is the rush for something that has so little in it? If in fact this bill was making things move forward substantially in Ontario, I could see the need for speed, but other than being able to put out a headline that we have this act-
"The Canadian Cancer Society applauds the government of Ontario for taking action to reduce toxic substances where we live, work and play. We look forward to working with government to ensure the supporting regulations have a strong community right-to-know component." I think that is a very reasonable statement. I think that's a statement that's based on knowledge. That statement comes from the Canadian Cancer Society, Ontario Division, chief executive officer Peter Goodhand, who's also chair of the Take Charge on Toxics campaign.
I believe that this bill is supportable. The third party, as I understand it, is supporting it. The official opposition I think has yet to make their mind up, but I would hope that, at the end of the day, they would see this is a reasonable bill that should be moved forward.
If you want to find out what the parliamentarians and scientists are dealing with, go to the federal legislation, go to the federal program. They have a definition for toxics. They have a program. The province of Ontario is probably the only subjurisdiction in any country that has decided to go off on its own and to duplicate, or attempt to duplicate, what the national level has accomplished. We saw this with the pesticide legislation that was introduced a year ago.
Within this legislation, there's no definition of "substance of concern." We don't know whether that's a cup of coffee, a can of pop or chlorine. We're really wandering in the wilderness on this legislation. It's way too vague.
However, I want to thank the member from Toronto-Danforth, and I compliment him as well, because I look forward to his one-hour speech. I may be in the cafeteria. But anyway, here is the issue: He said I was exactly right. I appreciate that.
The member from Oakville admitted here today that this bill is entirely in regulation. It is; the whole thing. There's nothing in this, outside of a mechanism of enforcement; it's very detailed in that. The member from Haldimand-Norfolk-I refer the listeners today to read Hansard online; his one-hour speech was kind of a thesis on what's the right thing to do.
I will bring up, in the few seconds I have left, that I put a question on the order paper about a week ago, and I'd encourage members to look at it; it's about a very important issue in my riding. This issue deals with nuclear waste. Here's one of the reports that I am in the midst of reviewing and providing input. This is the report; this is the draft copy of a pretty well secret document. This is a public information notice on the environmental assessment for Port Granby long-term low-level radioactive waste management. This is from Joanne Smith, Natural Resources Canada.
Canada takes a very responsible, mature, thorough lead. Dalton McGuinty has this obscure piece of work on Bill 167 that has no clarity in it. In my riding, this issue is a public health issue of the highest order. I don't want Premier McGuinty and John Gerretsen monkeying around with this stuff. They have no expertise, and they're confusing the public about one thing about toxic waste when in this case here, they would probably say, "Oh, that belongs to the federal government."
So let's be clear about this: We should have one set of rules; they should be tough and they should be enforced, and Ontario's interfering with the system that's already in place.
In Ontario, 23,000 chemicals and substances are used in manufacturing products that we use every single day of our lives, products such as building materials, toys, cars, food, medicine and entertainment products. Ontarians depend on these products to be safe.
I have to say that the safety of these products is often discovered quite directly by their impact on the people who work with them, and that has been the case for decades. Too often we've learned the consequences of the chemicals when we've seen the impact directly on the lives of the people who work with those chemicals. Vinyl chloride was only found to be a potent carcinogen after a physician diagnosed two cases of a very rare cancer, angiosarcoma of the liver, in workers from a single plant. If this had been a more common cancer, if this had been a cancer that could have been related to another factor, then the reality of that chemical would not have been understood for much longer.
I should note before I go further that I'm referring to testimony given by Mike Wright, director of health, safety and environment for the United Steelworkers. He spoke in February of 2009, this year, before a congressional committee looking at the Toxic Substances Control Act. He noted in his testimony, "It took the lung cancer deaths of 54 workers in a plant making ion-exchange resins to identify bis-chloromethyl ether as a carcinogen."
The reality is that far too often, we find out that chemicals are toxic because the people who work with them suffer direct health effects. One he cited that was interesting-they're all interesting, but particularly interesting-was something called diacetyl, which is the main component in artificial butter flavouring: "When inhaled, diacetyl causes a rare lung disease called bronchiolitis obliterans-and," as Mike Wright said, "it's as bad as it sounds.... In May 2000, eight workers in a microwave popcorn plant were diagnosed with the condition," and it took some time before the chemical itself was recognized as the cause of the problem.
Mike Wright, in his testimony, said, "We have no idea how many more untested chemicals are causing unrecognized illness amongst workers and consumers." That is the reason why anyone who is interested in reducing the burden of cancer and reducing the burden of occupational disease and injury is concerned about the presence of, the use of toxic chemicals and substances in everyday life in this province. He was right when he said, "We have no idea how many more untested chemicals are causing unrecognized illness amongst workers and consumers."
In the United States, there's been a calculation done on the health burden and the cost of occupational diseases. The National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health in the States in 2005 reviewed 38 studies, and they conservatively put the toll at 50,000 deaths a year, at a cost of between $128 billion and $155 billion-very substantial. So when we deal with toxic chemicals and when we deal with an act that is extraordinarily weak, which the Canadian Cancer Society says doesn't have the teeth to actually bring about the reduction in toxic chemicals and the protection of the public that is needed, then we need to pay attention. We need to look at the act before us and recognize that although the act will likely be passed, although there will be a headline somewhere or a story written about, "Toxics Reduction Act introduced and passed and put into law," the protection of the public is something that is, at this point, unknown.
Who knows if in fact this government will put in place regulations that will make a difference or not make a difference? My betting is that they won't. However, sometimes there are political currents beyond one's knowledge that move things in a particular direction. We'll see if those currents exist. At this point, I'd say, given the approach this government has taken to this piece of legislation-and the Conservatives would say from the opposite direction, but also accurately-essentially waiting for a blank cheque to be put before the cabinet; will they write a tough cheque or a weak cheque? It remains to be seen.
Prior to the last election, Premier McGuinty called for tough new toxic reduction law and a carcinogen reduction strategy. Well, be clear: That's not on the table today. He called for a plan that puts Ontario at the forefront in North America on tackling this issue: That is not before us today. Although the parliamentary assistant talked about Ontario being a leader, certainly it comes nowhere near where Massachusetts is headed, and frankly, when it comes to the European Union and their program-the acronym is REACH-we come nowhere near that.
During committee hearings, numerous respected health and environmental organizations spoke of the need to strengthen Bill 167. They stressed, before we went through the amendments, before we went through the process, to improve the bill, make something substantial of it. They stressed that the bill failed to incorporate a number of key recommendations from the government-appointed expert panel. The cancer society, the registered nurses' association, the public health association, key environmental groups such as the Canadian Environmental Law Association, Environmental Defence and unions like the United Steelworkers spoke in unison about the need for several amendments. Those amendments were moved by the NDP and were voted down by the government.
First, the groups presented a demand outlining the need to modify the bill so it would address a wider range of toxic substances and facilities. As it stands, the bill will only cover 14% of the 320 substances on the National Pollutant Release Inventory by 2012. It will only cover 1.5% of the total annual tonnage of emissions of National Pollutant Release Inventory reportable chemicals for manufacturing and mineral processes. That leaves too many important chemicals off this list. Indeed, the expert panel called for inclusion of all chemicals on the National Pollutant Release Inventory, plus cancer-causing chemicals listed by the World Health Organization's International Agency for Research on Cancer and the US national toxicology program, and the reproductive and developmental toxins from California's proposition 65 and Health Canada's domestic substances list-very substantial calls for expansion of the range of chemicals to be considered to provide protection against, because frankly, there is a very large chemical soup that we are all swimming in right now. It is fairly apparent that the federal government is not moving with anywhere near the speed that's needed to reduce risk to our population. This level of government needs to take action. What it has done with this act is far less than is needed to actually protect the health of the population.
Secondly, groups recommended reducing the thresholds of both facility size and volume of toxics released at which the bill would kick in. The current threshold of 10 employees and 10,000 kilograms of pollution exempts small and medium-sized businesses, which are responsible for emitting the majority of toxics in urban areas. Note that the city of Toronto with its own sewer use bylaw, it's own right-to-know bylaw, sets a standard that maintains no employee threshold and reporting thresholds of 100 kilograms for most substances. So the city of Toronto is actually recognizing the burden of toxic chemical release on the population that exists in the city and is acting within the legislative framework that it has. This government could do far more, far more extensively, and has not risen to that challenge.
Thirdly, health groups called for the expansion of the number of sectors covered by the bill. The government's expert panel called for the act to apply to all sectors that meet the thresholds, including energy and waste management. At a minimum, it was deemed crucial to include sewage treatment plants. Sewage treatment plants receive effluent from 12,000 industrial and commercial facilities. Sewage treatment plants are responsible for 87% of mercury, 37% of arsenic, and 71% of lead releases into the environment. Including sewage treatment plants would ensure upstream toxic use reduction, and it would also pressure sewage treatment plants to work with municipal governments on stronger sewage control bylaws. In fact, only 260 of 446 Ontario municipalities had sewer use bylaws in 2000 at all. So a failure on the part of this government to include sewage treatment plants in their legislation meant that a very significant source of toxic chemicals coming into our environment have been set aside, given a pass. It's not a defensible approach. This is a level of government that has responsibility for protecting the population of the province as a whole, has responsibility for reducing our exposure to toxic chemicals, and had the opportunity in this act to put in place legislation that would in fact do that. It passed on that responsibility.
Environmental, labour and health groups called for a toxic substance use reduction institute. The bill is silent on the establishment of a toxics reduction institute. The Toxics Use Reduction Institute at the University of Massachusetts has been an integral part of the Massachusetts law's success. An institute is needed to educate and train professionals such as toxics reduction planners, to educate the public, and to sponsor and conduct research. The institute would work side by side with facilities on pollution prevention plans unique to their needs. The government's expert panel called for an institute, saying it would serve as a "neutral forum for constructive dialogue among the public, industry and government."
If you actually look at what they had to say, this expert panel that was appointed by this government called for the establishment of "a well-resourced, collaborative, arm's-length agency and/or academic-affiliated institute to lead innovation and knowledge dissemination, as described above."
Frankly, if you don't have that institute-and the Canadian Cancer Society noted it as well-then you can't-sorry; I shouldn't say "you can't." It is highly unlikely that you will assemble the intellectual capacity to take on this issue and provide industry and small businesses the support they need to make the transition that we're going to have to have if we actually want to reduce people's exposure to toxic chemicals. The government's refusal to incorporate the setting up of that institution in the legislation was a substantial error. It leaves this bill weakened, undermines its ability to deliver on what it's supposed to deliver on and leaves this province in a situation where other jurisdictions in Europe and the United States will move forward on green chemistry while our people flounder around, occasionally dealing with enforcement efforts by the Ministry of the Environment-heavily underresourced. We will miss out on the opportunity to make that leap into green chemistry, which has the potential to develop new industry here in Ontario, the potential to move us away from dependence on fossil fuels for our chemical stocks.
We need effective legislation. Failure to put in that institute says to the world that we're not serious about what we're doing; that in fact this act is being passed so that the government can say that it passed an act, not so that we can actually reduce toxic chemicals, not so that we can actually make a transition to a whole other range of industrial activity.
The expert panel and health, environmental and labour groups that presented at the hearings spoke in unison about the need to include targets and goals for toxic use reduction in the bill itself. The expert panel recommended that the act include "clear, viable and progressive goals" and "a mechanism for monitoring and public reporting on achievement of those targets."
This is actually something that the Premier seemed to promise. In 2007, the Premier pledged that a re-elected government would "tackle the environmental causes of illness by ... introducing a tough new toxic reduction law that requires polluting companies to reduce their emissions." A tough new law, I'll tell you right now, isn't what's before us.
Requiring companies to reduce emissions-requiring someone to do something includes, as I read it, a mandatory reduction in emissions. Yet there is actually no requirement in this bill for companies to reduce their use or their emissions. They're simply required to make a reduction plan; they're not required to implement it. There is no goal or target for how much actual reduction in toxics in our environment will be achieved. So right now, we don't know how this government will be held to account five years or 10 years from now, or the government of the day, when it's pointed out that the reductions were virtually negligible.
Everyone can say, "We did our best. That's life. Stuff happens." If you don't have those targets, no government can be held to account for its failures. No government can be realistically praised for its achievements. There are no targets; there's no mandatory substitution. There is an ignoring of the work that was done by the expert panel that brought forward the recommendations. When we talk about goals, what they had to say was that in particular Ontario's pollution prevention legislation should include "clear, viable and progressive goals (i.e., a percentage reduction in toxics use and release in the province within a specified period of time); the statute should include renewable toxics reduction targets, and a mechanism for monitoring and public reporting on achievement of those targets. The panel notes that goals are not set in the current discussion paper and therefore strongly encourages the addition of goals to the discussion paper and program."
So the panel itself brought in expert advice. As far as I can tell from reading their commentary, they had debates amongst themselves. They came, within their framework of directions, to positions that they felt were reasonable, and at the same time actually delivered on the goals that the government said that it had, which was to reduce the exposure of the population to toxic chemicals.
So I don't see their representations, their recommendations, as the highest ceiling to which one could aspire but a reasonable bar to determine whether or not the action set out in legislation is going to be effective or not. Frankly, I have to say, having seen this legislation ignore the recommendations of the expert panel, ignore the recommendations of the Canadian Cancer Society, ignore the recommendations of environmental groups and health groups who came before us, particularly by not setting any goals-again, that gives a hollow sound to the pledge of the Premier in 2007 that a re-elected Liberal government would "tackle the environmental causes of illness by ... introducing a tough new toxic reduction law that requires polluting companies to reduce their emissions." That is not before us.
Massachusetts, the state that actually is a leading jurisdiction, in whose trail we follow, weakly-their Toxics Use Reduction Act requires a statewide 50% reduction of toxic by-products within 10 years. I don't know if 50% is enough. I do know that at least in that state, those who are concerned about these issues can determine whether or not the government has acted on the principles it said it was acting on and on the goals that it set out, and hold that government to account. That's the kind of clear and ambitious goal that we needed here in Ontario if we were actually going to come back to the population and say, "You know what? We've looked out at the issues. We've looked out at the problems. We understand the steps that have to be taken, and we've taken them."
Sixth point: We heard several deputations at the standing committee calling for amendments to ensure that the bill established a fund to finance research, training and technical assistance for toxics use reduction. Without funding for the kinds of support that companies need to actually move forward, they're far less likely to implement their now-voluntary toxics reduction strategies.
Not just a fund is needed: Experts indicated that revenue for the fund should come from a small levy on users of toxics-not a large levy, not a levy that changes the economics, but a small levy that allows consistent funding of an institute that would go in and provide the technical support for companies to make the transition that's needed.
The Massachusetts toxics reduction fund-the actual leading jurisdiction; this is not a leading jurisdiction-is the most effective of all US programs because it established a dedicated revenue stream based on those modest annual fees paid by toxic chemical users. Firms paying a modest annual fee are more likely to engage in the program and use the services. Cost savings from reduced chemical use more than offset the cost of the fees themselves. And without these funds, there's a grave danger that the program will have to compete-not just a grave danger, a certainty that the program will have to compete within government with other priorities for allocation of funds.
The McGuinty government-and we will hear this, I'm sure, if not in comment, then in other statements that are released to the public-plans to invest $24 million to help industry find green chemistry alternatives and reduce the use of toxics. Health groups like the Canadian Cancer Society are concerned that that won't be enough to provide technical assistance and won't be enough to help businesses make the transition from toxic substance use to less-toxic substance use. What's needed are programs to provide grants and loans to businesses to offset costs, money to support research and development of safer alternatives and, where it actually happens, provide re-employment assistance, vocational retraining and other benefits to ensure that any displaced employees are given that support to move on to their next careers.
The reality is that companies in Massachusetts have actually reduced their operating costs by reducing their use of toxic chemicals. This is not something that is novel. This is not something that is unheard of. This is something that in fact is old but minimized, marginalized.
In 1991, the American Environmental Protection Agency published a small paper, Achievements in Source Reduction and Recycling for Ten Industries in the United States. When we talk about these issues, so often people say, "Well you really can't get rid of these toxic chemicals. They're critical to the functioning of our society." There well may be instances for which that is true, but even in 1991 the Environmental Protection Agency in the United States published a study of industries that had done things that we should be doing on a large-scale basis here.
Trichloroethylene, a toxic chemical, was replaced in metal plating in some operations with a solvent extracted from orange rind, terpenes. Trichloroethylene was used to degrease metals before electroplating. Orange rinds, the non-toxic terpenes, were able to replace trichloroethylene, a very toxic chemical, at a substantial savings to the company that engaged in that activity.
Mercury and cadmium used to be substantial components of dry cell batteries that we use on a regular basis. In fact, their use was dramatically reduced and then phased out because dry cell batteries, the batteries that you use every day, were a significant source of mercury coming into our environment. That was done without battery companies going belly up or not being able to produce a battery that gave us power. That's entirely technically feasible.
Perchloroethylene, another substantial toxic chemical, is used to clean printed circuits so that you wouldn't have short-circuiting in your electronic products. The companies that dealt with that problem revamped their production process to dramatically reduce the amount of chemicals they used-period.
In fact, if you're going to reduce the amount of chemicals that we use in society and reduce the risk that both workers and the general public are exposed to, you know that there's a big body of knowledge out there already on how to do that, how to move forward. If you're going to apply it in a detailed way in industry here in Ontario, then you need people with the technical ability to develop the processes and get the information out to the industry and work with industry as a partner to make that happen.
The seventh point I want to make: Many of the groups articulated the importance of including measures in the bill to identify and encourage firms to substitute safer alternatives in place of toxic substances. I just set that out. The reality, though, again, is that having that toxics reduction institute would be a substantial part of making that happen.
We need to have a legislative framework-we don't have it-that ensures that the substitution takes place. We need to have identified the priority substances for replacement. We need to assess safer alternatives, develop alternative plans and put them in place with industry.
In fact, it was interesting to me to have people like the auto parts manufacturers and others come and say, "We're interested in moving this stuff forward. We would like your assistance in doing it. We don't disagree with the need to reduce toxic chemicals." There was an opportunity here for this government to develop a partnership with industry to move this agenda forward, a partnership that they seemed to have turned their back on. I don't know why. I guess I can speculate. I don't know why, in fact, they have not acted on this, but I can say that it is irresponsible not to have moved as far and as fast as they could on this legislation.
Groups called for amendments to include stronger provisions to ensure the public has full information about toxics in their environment and the products they use-something the cancer society makes reference to. The public has a right to know when they buy products that have toxic chemicals in them; they need to be informed of that. This government had an opportunity before the last election to pass a piece of private members' legislation that I brought forward, modeled on a very workable bill in place in California. They backed off on that. In the course of debating this bill and in the course of going through clause-by-clause, they backed off on making sure that they had the power to actually inform the public. That was a mistake.
We heard from groups who talked about the need to incorporate the precautionary principle into this bill. Quite simply, it would mean that where there wasn't full scientific certainty, we wouldn't take a risk with people's health. For what it's worth, the Krever Commission, when it looked at the contaminated blood issue from the 1980s, said that in fact if those agencies which had been dealing with blood had used a precautionary principle, many, many people would have been spared illness and death that resulted from contaminated blood. We need that kind of approach when you're dealing with chemicals that can cause cancer, sterility, neurotoxic effects-a broad range of health effects. We're not getting that from this government.
This bill, as it's presented to us today, is not a step forward. It's not necessarily a step backward. It depends on what happens in the writing of regulation. It depends on whether or not, in the writing of regulations, this government, in its dealings with those interests that want to make sure that toxic chemicals are used, comes to a deal that actually strengthens protection. It could come to a deal that undermines protection. That remains to be seen. That chapter has not been written.
I think it's unfortunate that the government didn't take this opportunity, in the course of introducing this bill and in going through the bill on a clause-by-clause basis, to make it the kind of bill that we could be proud of in Ontario, the kind of bill that would meet the standards set in Massachusetts and hopefully go beyond that. It's a huge missed opportunity, and frankly, an opportunity that people will pay for with their health, and in some instances, tragically, with their lives.
Mr. Gerretsen has moved third reading of Bill 167. Is it the pleasure of the House that the motion carry? Carried.
Be it resolved that the bill do now pass and be named as in the motion.
Third reading agreed to.
The House recessed from 1004 to 1030.
INTRODUCTION OF VISITORS
There being no further introductions, it is now time for oral questions.
ELECTRONIC HEALTH INFORMATION
I can tell the member that yesterday I had the great pleasure to speak with Mr. McCarter, the Auditor General of Ontario.
I have written to Mr. McCarter and, under section 17 of the act, have asked him to table his report so that I can, on behalf of taxpayers in Ontario, turn the recommendations around into action as quickly as possible.
Minister, you know that Accenture received numerous untendered contracts totalling $1.3 million. The CBC reported last night that William Falk, a partner at Accenture, was listed on Sarah Kramer's job application as a reference. The CBC also reports that they are close family friends.
Could the minister explain exactly what the nature of the so-called unforeseen emergency was around the $1.3 million in Accenture contracts? Or is the reality as it appears: more evidence of the incestuous relationships, the quid pro quo, the "You scratch my back, I'll scratch yours" mentality that you allowed to fester at your rogue eHealth agency?
It's important not just for eHealth, but for all of us who have the privilege of serving Ontarians, including, I would say to the member, every member of this Legislature. That's why I directed the board to undertake a third party review, and in fact, the board has engaged PricewaterhouseCoopers, along with a representative of the Ministry of Health, to oversee that review. There will be internal government auditors managing that review.
As I have mentioned, I have spoken with Mr. McCarter related to the work that he is doing in ensuring that both of those-
There has been, for some time, a growing stench at eHealth, all happening under the minister's nose. Minister, you have no choice: Will you do the right thing and resign and let someone else-
We have an internal government auditor managing the review. I've asked the Provincial Auditor to speed up, under section 17 of the act; to table with us the work that he has undertaken on behalf of the province of Ontario and the people of Ontario. I know, and I say to the my friend opposite, that the auditor has done thorough and excellent work on behalf of taxpayers. I will, in fact, receive his advice and turn it into action as soon as it is in hand. Rather than wait until his normal report comes out to release the findings, including eHealth procurement practices, I want to get as much good information as I can as soon as I can get it, so that this important initiative can continue to work, delivering-
ELECTRONIC HEALTH INFORMATION
Minister, PricewaterhouseCoopers has already conducted its review on your rogue agency. They violated those recommendations under your nose. Minister, this is out of control. Will you do the right thing? Will you step aside and let somebody else clean up-
The accomplishments in a few short months have been very good, and I would share them with the member. We have unveiled-or eHealth Ontario, rather, has-Ontario's first comprehensive, published eHealth strategy. They've launched an ePrescribing program, the first of its kind in Canada, piloted in Collingwood and in Sault Ste. Marie, connecting pharmacy with primary care. They have also partnered with OntarioMD, the Ontario Medical Association, to-
On January 5, Yamashita phoned Donna Kline, a call that lasted an hour and a half, for which Anzen charged $450 and Donna Kline's timesheet shows that she billed $300 for the exact same phone call; 750 bucks for a single phone call. On January 14, Ms. Yamashita billed $1,200 for four hours' work with her husband's consulting firm.
In addition to that, the Auditor General, an independent officer of this Legislature, has undertaken work previously and has done wonderful work on behalf of Ontario taxpayers historically. I had an opportunity to speak with Mr. McCarter yesterday and through that conversation directed him, under section 17 of the act, to accelerate the work-
At the same time, we've put in place a package that cuts Ontarians' taxes; 93% of Ontarians will have their taxes cut. That's an important piece of information that doesn't seem to be reaching Ontarians. I know that my honourable colleague is going to want to talk about that a bit more at some point in time, but 93% of Ontarians are going to receive tax cuts.
I've had the opportunity to speak to many seniors about this issue. Their single greatest concern is, "Are we going to leave a strong Ontario for our children and grandchildren? Will we be able to give jobs to our children and our grandchildren?" That's what this is all about. It's about building a bright future for all of us.
What is happening to the province of Ontario is very, very significant, dramatic, and it has the potential to be permanently traumatic. We have to rise to the occasion. We have to do what is necessary to build a stronger economy, not just for us today, but for our children and for our grandchildren. I believe Ontarians are prepared to do what is necessary to build that stronger economy, not just for our generation, but for the next-
ELECTRONIC HEALTH INFORMATION
I think the best thing for us to do on behalf of Ontarians is to introduce into this debate an objective, dispassionate, thorough investigator, in the person of the Auditor General. The Minister of Health has contacted the Auditor General, has asked him to conduct an inquiry, to be as thorough as he believes is necessary, and to produce that report, together with those recommendations, at the earliest possible opportunity. I can't for the life of me understand why the opposition would object to us calling upon the Auditor General and waiting for his recommendations.
"I am formally requesting that as per section 17 of the Auditor General Act, you consider tabling your report on eHealth Ontario in the Legislature as a special report as soon as it is complete, and then making it publicly available online on your website ... as well as in hard copy. I welcome your recommendations and if there are significant changes to be made at the agency, I believe that we should move to implement them as soon as possible.
"I can assure you of my full co-operation with your review."
Again, I think we should allow the Auditor General to do his work.
It's plain and simple: The Minister of Health failed to do his job. When will the Premier clean house and replace him with someone who can?
I think the single most important thing we can do is to turn the heat down a little bit, introduce a bit of light in the person of the Auditor General, have him come in and be as thorough as he can. He's objective. He is impartial. He is nothing, as I said before, if not thorough. Allow him to do his work-
ELECTRONIC HEALTH INFORMATION
I did say as well that, regrettably, the Smart Systems for Health Agency set up by the former member and her colleagues when they had the privilege to serve on this side of the House was given the wrong mandate, was given the wrong leadership, was given no direction. That is why my predecessor ordered an operational review of that agency. In fact, we took the move to quickly be able to change and bring in new leadership and, for the first time, have developed a real plan for eHealth infrastructure in this province.
We are already seeing good results, as I have mentioned here in this House. We've seen, for example, the launch of the baseline diabetes dataset initiative-
Furthermore, in October 2008, a document from the ministry stated, "By the spring of 2009, Ontario will have a diabetes registry actively used by patients and physicians to manage diabetic care." Well, guess what? It hasn't happened. And you continue to defend Ms. Kramer and Dr. Hudson, saying they're on track, they're on target, that there's an "electronic health record for all diabetic patients...." The truth is, there isn't one. Will you, today, recognize that you're not up to the job? Will you resign and give the job to somebody else who can clean up the mess?
The member says that nothing was accomplished under Smart Systems for Health. In fact, nothing could be further from the truth. They built and connected 7,000 secure network sites-all hospitals, public health units and satellite sites, family health teams and other physicians, continuing care agencies, pharmacies, Cancer Care Ontario, Cardiac Care Network, Trillium Gift of Life and air ambulance operations. Among its successes I would say is the wait times information system to give all Ontarians access to timely surgical procedures. We have seen the benefits of these eHealth initiatives as we are driving-
ELECTRONIC HEALTH INFORMATION
I do agree with the member that it is long overdue and it is time for us to be able to get on with this, which is why we began eHealth Ontario back in the fall, earlier in 2008. That was the result of work that was commissioned by my predecessor to order an operational review. I do believe we are already starting to see good results and yielding good results from the current leadership.
I have mentioned earlier that we have the first comprehensive eHealth strategy in this province's history. We are launching the ePrescribing program. We've established the diagnostic imaging network, where we will be filmless in this province in very short order. We have developed an electronic system to store images from hospital CT scanners for neurosurgical and neurological care to improve patient access-
Now, I have expressed my concern about the revelations related to the expenses, as has the Premier. That's why I have taken the action to call in the chair of the board and to order a third party review of management function and financial controls. That's why I took the step to contact and have a conversation with Mr. McCarter-a non-partisan, independent officer of this Legislature. I understand the partisan nature of the member opposite, and that is her right. But I can tell you that Mr. McCarter will provide good advice-
ONTARIO PUBLIC SERVICE
We've heard from doctors, nurses, water, meat inspectors, and we are incredibly worried about this. Even the member from Whitby disagrees with this idea, so I'm not sure that the party opposite has a coherent position on this issue.
We should all be worried about this because we all depend on the work of public servants.
Minister, can you inform the House if tearing up collective agreements with our public sector is a direction that he wants this government to take?
The negotiations this year with our labour partners were all done in good faith, and the agreements reached were fair and reasonable.
The mere idea expressed by the member from Niagara West-Glanbrook has the potential to bring profound labour unrest in Ontario. This province has already been through that with both opposing parties. This is not what Ontarians want. It's in times like these that we depend on public services the most. I can assure the members present that creating unrest-
Can the minister assure this House that this reduction will not negatively affect the important services that our Ontario public service provides?
We have no intention of taking advice from a party that fired food and water inspectors and thousands of teachers and nurses. Our view on this issue could not be more different than theirs. The McGuinty government is committed to reinvesting in our public services, services that were completely decimated when the party opposite was in power. With the help of our employees, we have rebuilt the public service, and we're proud-proud-to be one of Ontario's 100 best employers-
Could you confirm, Minister, if this contract was indeed sole-sourced, and, if not, would you produce the proposal submitted by the institution which received the money?
I can tell the member that Dr. Hudson has done outstanding work lowering wait times in the province of Ontario. We have already seen the benefits of that work as wait times are lower for hips and knees, for cancer, for cardiac and for diagnostic services. This is the kind of work, this is the kind of agenda that this government has moved forward on. I'm always happy to be held accountable here in this Legislature or in its committees for questions of the like, and if the member has details and would like to share them with me-
Minister, does the Ministry of Health not have the expertise itself to develop these protocols? Why did you outsource this contract to an outside institution connected to three eHealth Ontario employees for three and a half million tax dollars? We understand that there's a big joke about that there is another Ministry of Health operating outside of the Ministry of Health.
The ministry, in fact, has partners at local health integration networks, community care access centres and many others in helping us deliver fundamental services to the province of Ontario when it comes to their health care.
This would not be unusual-well, perhaps it would be unusual for the member opposite, because when they were in government they cut hospitals, they fired nurses, they partnered with no one and unfortunately the result that Ontarians received was a degraded state of health care in the province.
I can tell you that this government works with a variety of partners-
SERVICES FOR DISABLED CHILDREN
I'm very pleased to say in this House today that this government, since we came into power, has increased the money in this program by 45%. This year alone we will be spending almost $100 million for this very good program, a program that parents need to be able to continue to keep their son or daughter at home and to care for them.
This program provides money to the parents to get service for their disabled child.
Daria was born with cerebral palsy. She must be fed through a tube and has a host of exacting care requirements that qualify her family to receive support through this very program. The child advocate, the Ombudsman and New Democrats, as well as the community at large have all been pushing to have the McGuinty government meet its obligation to fund the needs of children like Daria.
Will the McGuinty government agree today to lift the cap they've imposed on care allowances for children with complex disabilities? Will you ensure that Daria and her family receive the support they need from the special services at home program?
Last Friday I was very pleased to be with the Premier to open the Rotary Home in Ottawa. The Rotary Home is a respite home to give a break to parents when they need to go away. Of course, they cannot leave these children to anyone, so we have this respite service in Ottawa and across the province.
We will continue to invest in special services at home. I'm very pleased to say that we are helping 27,000-
Medical isotopes are used to diagnose different kinds of cancer and cardiac care health issues. My constituents and the staff at the Peterborough Regional Health Centre are concerned about getting access to the diagnostic test if they need it. So I ask the Minister of Health, what is the ministry doing to ensure that access to these tests is not disrupted?
My ministry has implemented the Ontario medical isotope disruption plan. It has distributed two important notices to health care workers, informing them about what steps should be taken to conserve the current supply of isotopes. I have written to the federal Minister of Natural Resources. I've asked her about the federal government's plans to get Chalk River back up and running as soon as possible. I've offered her assistance from the province, if needed. We're working with our health care partners and with all levels of government to ensure our health system can respond directly to this challenge-
I know the province is in a difficult situation and resolving these issues depends in part on the actions of and much-needed leadership by the federal government. As such, I would ask what the Minister of Health is doing to engage the federal government on this very important and serious issue.
I also want to ensure that our federal partners are providing us with timely information because we depend on the estimates to manage our supply of isotopes, as the diagnostic imaging and treatment needs of Ontario residents are extremely important. I want to encourage our federal government to be a leader among Canada's international partners.
As a province, we're going to continue to manage the disruption in supply. I know Ontarians will depend on these diagnostic tests-
ELECTRONIC HEALTH INFORMATION
I want you to know that I have full confidence in the auditor to perform his duties and to provide us with advice and guidance. I will act on the recommendations that he provides for me when it comes to-
We have e-mails with respect to this Dr. Ballem, which are saying things like, "We do not have a signed agreement," "I can't make payment"-a back and forth-and "A signed agreement is not necessary." The e-mails clearly show how eHealth contemplated having the Liberal-connected Courtyard Group pay Dr. Ballem and then get reimbursed from eHealth, in an attempt to break the rules already in place. And who approved the payment, despite the lack of a contract? Well, the fat cat from Alberta, the guy who's charging taxpayers $15 for a nightcap.
It's not a lack of rules; it's that Hudson and Kramer have ignored the rules, breaking the rules already in place. They need to be fired. You need to resign. Put somebody in there who can do the job and clean up your mess.
I should note for the member that my direction to the board is that there is an additional layer of oversight appointed by my ministry. PricewaterhouseCoopers is not a consultant. They're the agency's external auditor of record, and every corporation or agency of its size has an external auditor. The previous PWC review was largely focused on administrative policies. The new review will be much broader in scope.
The member said that I've been talking about this for weeks; it was only just-
"At the Education Partnership Table meeting on April 6, 2009, Minister Wynne heard from virtually every representative that the site has had a negative impact for the many reasons we have stated in previous letters to you.
"We are united in our disappointment that our request on April 6, 2009 that the site be removed pending full consultation with all education stakeholders was denied."
The education partnership table is asking you to take down this offensive site. Will you do it?
I just have to note that there are approximately 600 visits to the school information finder every day, to the website-28,000 visitors between April 15 and June 1, 2009. We hear from people who say things like, "Finally! A place to get all the information on a school in one convenient place. What a great resource for parents. Really transparent look at school system! Well done!"
What we will do is have the conversation with the partnership table, who are the education stakeholders. They are very aware that we're going to be having that conversation, and we will make some decisions-
The letter questions the content of the site, the lack of consultation, and it challenges your claim that there is widespread support for the information on the site. Further, your own partnership table is telling you that the social demographic data on this site is incongruous with the ministry's new equity and inclusive education strategy.
When is this site coming down?
It is very clear that the best way to get to know what's going on at a school is to visit that school. But there are people who want information about schools. We are providing a transparent, consistent and coherent way of getting it.
Part of our platform in 2007 committed our government to launch a long-term affordable housing strategy. Minister, could you please tell us what progress to date has been made on developing this strategy and when we should hope to see the strategy?
I'm pleased to report that today we're launching our affordable housing strategy and consultation process. I'm very pleased to report that my very first stop on our province-wide tour of listening to individuals will take place on June 16 in the honourable member's riding, in Sault Ste. Marie. My parliamentary assistants-Mario Sergio and Carol Mitchell-and I will be visiting 12 communities across the province, listening and learning so that we can help develop and build a long-term affordable housing strategy. We'd ask all Ontarians to go visit our website, Ontario.ca/housingstrategy, and encourage MPPs to hold consultations in their ridings as well.
I understand that of the 1.3 million people who rent housing in Ontario, 20% are living in social housing. As well, approximately 6,000 Ontarians use shelters on a daily basis. These Ontarians want to succeed. They want to provide the best for their families but they need our help, and it's no secret that more needs to be done for affordable housing in Ontario.
With the launch of the consultations this month and the long-term affordable housing strategy, Minister, could you please outline some of the key principles, visions and goals of the consultation process?
We're not waiting for the consultation. This government has been very active when it comes to providing needed dollars to our municipal partners and to the not-for-profit sector. For instance, last year the Premier announced $100 million that is already in progress of repairing and rehabilitating affordable housing units. Minister Duncan, in his budget, matched the federal contribution, to bring a total of $1.2 billion in new money to build 4,500 affordable housing units across the province and to refurbish and rehabilitate 50,000 units. This is in addition to the work that we've done to provide over 20,000 rent supplements for those people who need help.
We're in the housing business, and we look forward to listening to the people that-
ELECTRONIC HEALTH INFORMATION
We expect, I expect, that consultants will abide not only by the letter of the law but by the spirit of it as well. That's why I have taken the action to direct the board to undertake a third party review which is going to have the government auditor as a part of that review. That's why I've taken the steps, and I know the member disagrees-but having the Auditor General engaged and looking at his recommendations. The Auditor General is an independent officer of this Legislature.
I understand the partisan nature of the member opposite-
Clearly, there is justification to get rid of these people, to clean this place up. You're obviously not up to the job. Step down and let somebody else clean up the-
We are already starting to see good results yielded: an ePrescribing project linking pharmacy with primary care; the beginnings of a diabetes registry, through an expression of interest which has been fulfilled-
I had the really good fortune to meet with a legend: Dr. Lovelock, a British scientist. He's 90 years of age; he remains as active as ever. He developed the so-called Gaia theory, which I have known about for quite some time. The point is this: He's an acclaimed environmentalist, and he thinks that we need to build nuclear. He thinks that we've got to make some difficult choices.
I appreciate the position that my colleague has taken on this, but the fact is that there's a division among environmentalists as to what we need to do in the face of climate change, arguably the single greatest challenge confronting humanity. One of the things that we have decided to do is to shut down coal-fired generation in the province of Ontario.
We need to maintain baseload. The wind doesn't always blow and the sun doesn't always shine. We've got to find a way to ensure we have baseload capacity. That's why we're looking at new nuclear.
USE OF QUESTION PERIOD
Now, I know that the tradition and convention here has been for the Speaker to allow a fair amount of leeway in terms of the type of question that's posed, but I would ask the Speaker to refer to the power of the Speaker to disqualify a question-
The question put by the member for Huron-Bruce to the minister was a not-very-veiled or concealed ad hominem attack on the member for Niagara West-Glanbrook. It clearly was made or put in the context of his being a candidate for the Conservative leadership.
I respect the right and the need for government members to ask questions during the course of question period. But I would also, Speaker, ask you to reflect upon the fact that increasingly the trend by government backbenchers during the course of their questions has been to ask questions about anything but matters that are urgent or of public importance.
So I'm asking you, Speaker-especially when you consider the power that is given to the individual member in standing order 38(a), because 37(a), which gives you the power to disqualify a question, also gives the right to the person whose question is disqualified to seek a late show with respect to that question.
Speaker, what I'm asking you to do is to please consider whether in this chamber we're going to be more effective during this very valuable one-hour period if the Chair-you-applies 37(a) more strictly than may have been the trend in the past.
We appreciate the Speaker's consideration.
The time for question period having ended, this House stands recessed until 3 p.m.
The House recessed from 1139 to 1500.
INTRODUCTION OF VISITORS
Present with us are Mary Rice, his widow, Doris MacDonald, Douglas MacDonald, Bobby MacDonald, Barb Collins, Aaron Collins, Patty Rice, Joe Pfaff, Jimmy Rice, Susan McGovern, John McGovern, Euston McGovern, Conrad McGovern, Parker McGovern, Michael Rice, Martha Rice, Theresa Davis and Matthew Rice. I would ask that we welcome them warmly to the Legislature.
Member from Durham.
I'd like to take this opportunity to welcome to the Ontario Legislature today the Ontario Association of Former Parliamentarians, who are today celebrating their annual meeting: George Ashe, Bill Barlow, Robert Callahan, Gordon Carton, former Speaker Hugh Edighoffer, Herb Epp, Steve Gilchrist, Karen Haslam, John Hastings, Don Knight, Mac Makarchuk, Margaret Marland, Judy Marsales, Gord Miller, Lily Munro, David Neumann, Hugh O'Neil, Yvonne O'Neill, John Parker, Tim Peterson, Jack Riddell, Derwyn Shea, Yuri Shymko, David Smith, John Smith, Joe Spina, Gary Stewart, Anne Swarbrick, George Taylor, former Speaker John Turner, Murad Velshi, former Speaker David Warner, John Williams, Doug Wiseman and Jim Wiseman. Welcome, former members, to Queen's Park today.
Jim was born on July 14, 1932, and was raised in Richmond Hill, Ontario. He and his wife, Mary Deciantis, married in 1952 and raised seven children. They were blessed with 18 grandchildren.
As the great entrepreneur that he was, Jim embarked on a career as a general contractor, founding the James A. Rice Ltd. construction company in York region. Among his numerous and notable municipal, provincial and national project contracts was that of prime civil contractor for the military aeronautical communications system for the Department of National Defence in five provinces across Canada.
Over the years, Jim employed hundreds of skilled workers who remember him as an employer who encouraged them to constantly enhance their skills in the pursuit of excellence.
Throughout his life, Jim Rice made many contributions to his community and his industry. He served as a York region Catholic school trustee, worked with numerous charities and was a valued member of the Toronto Construction Association executive. In his later years, Jim also served as a member of the sovereign council of the Knights of Malta.
I am honoured, as a member of this Legislature and as a friend of James Albert Rice and his family, to invoke the recognition of all members of the Legislature of this great Canadian for his spirit of giving to his family, to his employees and to his community. May that spirit inspire us all.
BATTLE OF STONEY CREEK
The battle saw over 700 greatly outnumbered British troops regain land previously taken by American forces. It was a starting point for a major push by the British. Following its conclusion, the American advance in the Niagara region ceased. It was a decisive victory for our troops, and it successfully interrupted the entire American invasion plan for Upper Canada.
As a former battle re-enactor, this anniversary is of great significance to me, as well as to many of my constituents. The re-enactment not only permits people of all ages to experience a better understanding of their heritage, but to also remember one of the greatest triumphs in Canadian history.
The events of that night have recently been recounted by local author James E. Elliott in his new book, Strange Fatality. I had the privilege of attending the release of this novel about the battle of Stoney Creek. Elliott tells stories of the courageous individuals who made this victory possible, individuals who should be recognized as Canadian heroes.
The battle of Stoney Creek was a defining moment for Canada, and a triumph both in the war and in Canadian pride.
The clash of June 6, 1813, has not been given the respect it deserves, and I am pleased to take this moment to have it recognized here today.
UNIVERSITY OF TORONTO SCARBOROUGH
The University of Toronto Scarborough was founded in 1964, and the first students began classes there in 1966.
I had the privilege to join Professor Franco Vaccarino, principal of UTSC, in announcing that through the knowledge infrastructure program, the University of Toronto Scarborough has received $70 million to fund the development of a new instructional centre. This funding was jointly provided by the government of Canada and the government of Ontario. This development will result in the single largest expansion at UTSC since 1966 and will increase teaching and research space at the school by 25%.
Principal Vaccarino stated, "This is a major announcement for UTSC and for the region. Recent unprecedented growth at the campus has created a critical mass of programs and scholarship and this infrastructure project allows us to build on this exciting momentum. With few universities in the eastern GTA, this new facility, paired with our scope and breadth across the arts and sciences, positions UTSC to lead the burgeoning innovation economy of our region."
Adding to the growing influence that UTSC will have on Scarborough and Durham region is the recent announcement that UTSC has been picked to house the largest new facility for the Pan Am Games if Toronto and Ontario win their bid to host the 2015 games. The proposal for the Scarborough campus is for a $170-million world-class athletic complex.
The University of Toronto Scarborough is undergoing a fundamental transformation and without a doubt will be recognized not only in Toronto and Ontario, but throughout the whole of Canada.
As we all know, UNESCO designated the Rideau Canal a World Heritage site in 2007.
These canals have been tourism and economic draws for eastern Ontario and my riding.
In 2008, National Geographic magazine recognized this region and the Tay Canal as one of the most attractive world tourist destinations.
Having been completed in 1834, the Tay Canal steering committee will host a week-long celebration of 175 years of heritage and contribution to the town of Perth. In February, 2009, Mayor John Fenik and council for the town of Perth officially declared the week of July 4 as Tay Canal Week.
Take a moment and check out tayriver.org for events, activities and some wonderful Lanark county charm. I encourage my colleagues and all tourists to drop by my hometown and join me in celebrating our heritage, our history and our culture in Perth. I hope to see you there.
EVENTS IN AJAX-PICKERING
Also, the 39th annual Ajax Home Week kicks off the following weekend, Friday, June 12, featuring a new Ajax Home Week Mardi Gras night-time parade, DuPont antique car show, Ajax Lions pasta night, Rotary pancake breakfast on Father's Day, Ajax Kinsmen giant arena dance at $10 a head, and the town's This is Our Ajax! day.
Sunday is waterfront day. From the pancake breakfast between 8 and 11, the waterfront festival, under Wilma Graham, will feature over a dozen venues for people and kids of all ages, all day and all evening long.
This year's Community Services Day includes a police helicopter landing and special police vehicles. The grand finale is Durham's largest annual fireworks at 10 p.m. on Sunday, which is chaired by firefighter Patrick Hayes.
Our sincere thanks to the hundreds of volunteers, like Ken Brown and Wilma Graham, and other key members like Angela Burke, Mike Fitzpatrick, Tom McBride, Vickie Camara-the list goes on-but primarily our Ajax Kinsmen, Legion, Lions and Rotary clubs.
BOWMANVILLE ZOOLOGICAL PARK
It is home to many of the animals we see every day in movies, advertisements and television productions. Popular stars such as the elephant Angus and the lion Bongo were household names for many of us. In addition, the park has established itself as an important voice in education, conservation and animal protection. It is a popular destination for tourists and local families alike, with daily presentations at its 400-seat animal theatre.
The property was originally known as the Cream of Barley Park when it opened in 1919 as a small tourist resort and petting zoo on Highway 2. The Connell family acquired the Cream of Barley Park in the 1950s, changing the name to the Bowmanville Zoo in 1964. It came under new ownership in 1988 as the Bowmanville Zoological Park.
Ontario is in the midst of celebrating National Tourism Week, from June 1 to 7. Ontario's tourism slogan could also be used to describe the Bowmanville Zoological Park: There's no place like it. Congratulations to its director, who is joining us here today, Michael Hackenberger, who is joining us here today, and his wife Wendy and their family, on celebrating their 90th anniversary in a successful tourist business.
By investing in Sheridan, the government of Ontario is not only helping to create the competitive workforce of tomorrow in this ever-shrinking world with ever-growing diversity, but also helping to boost the economy. These projects together will create more than 300 jobs in Mississauga. This is great news for Mississauga and for the entire region.
I want to congratulate Sheridan and each and every resident of Mississauga. Moreover, I'm proud to be part of a government, under the leadership of our Premier, that is committed to deliver essential services such as education, despite the challenging economic times we are going through.
In 2005, the school opened its doors to 56 new undergraduate medical students, and today I applaud the first graduating class of new physicians in northern Ontario. Four of those graduating students are from my riding of Sault Ste. Marie. I'd like to congratulate Mark Bennett, Philip Berardi, Jonathan DellaVedova and Jennifer Patterson. Our government is making the investments needed to ensure that we have greater access to primary care.
In our 2009 budget, we announced that we will also be adding 100 new medical school spaces, eight of those at the Northern Ontario School of Medicine. In total, Ontario's six medical schools will welcome 952 first-year medical students in September 2011-a remarkable 38% increase since 2004.
By training more medical students, we're helping to ensure that Ontarians will have increased access to primary care for years to come. This is in stark contrast to the NDP, who cut medical school spaces by 13%, and the Conservatives, who did very little to increase medical school supply for eight years.
Increasing medical school spaces is just one more way we're helping Ontarians. In my riding of Sault Ste. Marie, we're building a new $408-million hospital and creating a nurse practitioner clinic.
Once accepted to the program, all interns split their time at Queen's Park between two members, spending half of their time working for a government MPP and the other for an opposition MPP, in what is truly a unique experience. As part of their responsibilities, interns are asked to write an academic paper, learn the ins and outs of the legislative process and assist the member in a number of ways.
This year, I had the great fortune of being selected by one of our interns. Igor Delov, certainly a very bright young man with a keen sense of humour, joined our team for about three months, helping with correspondence, speeches, member's statements and research. He also had the opportunity to join me at a number of exciting announcements and spent time in my constituency office in the riding of York South-Weston. An outgoing, intelligent individual, Igor has a lifetime of opportunity and exciting prospects ahead of him, and I look forward to following his professional growth. He has been an excellent intern and an outstanding ambassador for the program.
Over the years, all the interns have gone on to great things, and I would expect no less from this year's group.
OF FORMER PARLIAMENTARIANS
REPORTS BY COMMITTEES
STANDING COMMITTEE ON GOVERNMENT AGENCIES
The report of the committee commends the Ontario Trillium Foundation for the important work the agency undertakes and also makes some recommendations for improvements.
I would like to take this opportunity to thank the chair and staff of the Trillium Foundation for their assistance at all stages of the committee review and to express our appreciation to those people who made presentations both in person and in writing. I also thank the committee members for their contributions to the review process. Thanks as well to our research officer, Andrew McNaught, and the clerk of the committee, Douglas Arnott.
I move adjournment of the debate.
STANDING COMMITTEE ON
REGULATIONS AND PRIVATE BILLS
Bill Pr16, An Act to revive Deep River Management Services Inc.;
Bill Pr24, An Act to revive a corporation named New Hermes Limited in English and New Hermes Limitée in French;
Bill Pr26, An Act respecting The Sisters of St. Joseph of the Diocese of London, in Ontario.
INTRODUCTION OF BILLS
ALLAURA INVESTMENTS LIMITED ACT, 2009
Mr. Klees moved first reading of the following bill:
Bill Pr15, An Act to revive Allaura Investments Limited.
First reading agreed to.
CITY OF OTTAWA
AMENDMENT ACT, 2009 /
LOI DE 2009 MODIFIANT LA LOI
SUR LA VILLE D'OTTAWA
Mr. Naqvi moved first reading of the following bill:
Bill 194, An Act to amend the City of Ottawa Act, 1999 / Projet de loi 194, Loi modifiant la Loi de 1999 sur la ville d'Ottawa.
First reading agreed to.
1312510 ONTARIO LTD. ACT, 2009
Mr. Dickson moved first reading of the following bill:
Bill Pr22, An Act to revive 1312510 Ontario Ltd.
First reading agreed to.
CONSIDERATION OF BILL 191
Motion agreed to.
ORDER OF BUSINESS
(1) All government bills except Bill 1, An Act to perpetuate an ancient parliamentary right, and Bill 24, An Act to amend the Assessment Act, Community Small Business Investment Funds Act, Corporations Tax Act, Education Act, Income Tax Act, Land Transfer Tax Act and Taxation Act, 2007; and
(2) The following private members' public bills:
Bill 14, An Act to deem that the Building Code and the Fire Code require fire detectors, interconnected fire alarms and non-combustible fire escapes;
Bill 96, An Act respecting protection for registered retirement savings;
Bill 106, An Act to provide for safer communities and neighbourhoods;
Bill 132, An Act to amend the Liquor Licence Act;
Bill 164, An Act to amend the Motor Vehicle Dealers Act, 2002; and
That the following committees be authorized to meet during the adjournment and/or, in the event of the prorogation of the first session of the 39th Parliament and notwithstanding such prorogation, during the interval between the first and second sessions of the 39th Parliament, as follows:
The Standing Committee on Public Accounts may meet up to two days by agreement of the subcommittee members with respect to dates, and may sit additional days by agreement of the House leaders of the recognized parties conveyed in writing to the Clerk of the Assembly;
The Standing Committee on Estimates may meet on July 29 and 30, 2009;
The Standing Committee on General Government may meet to consider Bill 173, An Act to amend the Mining Act, and Bill 191, An Act with respect to land use planning and protection in the Far North, in Toronto on August 6, 2009, and to adjourn from place to place on August 10, 11, 12, and 13, 2009;
The Standing Committee on Government Agencies may meet for up to three days by agreement of the subcommittee members with respect to dates;
That, notwithstanding the order of the House dated June 11, 2008, the Select Committee on Elections be authorized to present its final report to the Legislature no later than June 30, 2009; and
That the committees be authorized to release reports by depositing a copy of any report with the Clerk of the Assembly during the summer adjournment, and that upon resumption of the meetings of the House, the Chairs of such committees shall bring any such reports before the House in accordance with the standing orders.
Motion agreed to.
STATEMENTS BY THE MINISTRY
MOIS DES PERSONNES ÂGÉES /
Today Ontario marks 25 years of celebrating Seniors' Month in communities right across the province-25 years of celebrating our seniors, their contributions to their communities and their exceptional and unique stories.
It gives me great pleasure to welcome the members of the Ontario Seniors' Secretariat liaison committee. Thank you for joining us today in the Legislature.
Le thème pour ce 25e anniversaire du Mois des personnes âgées est : « Créer un environnement accueillant dans nos communautés pour les aînés ». Il traduit la volonté de façonner des milieux qui contribuent à améliorer la qualité de vie des aînés et qui assurent leur pleine participation à la vie de leur communauté.
This year's silver anniversary theme for Seniors' Month is creating age-friendly communities. It reflects a movement to create environments that enhance the quality of life for seniors and ensure their full participation in civic life.
Earlier this week, I officially launched Seniors' Month at Ryerson University at their second annual Silver Screens Arts Festival. The festival does a superb job of showcasing visual art and live performances by seniors enrolled in the university's LIFE Institute. It is a continuing-education program designed for mature students aged 50 and up. Seniors enrolled in the theatre courses are taught by talented and energetic instructors.
The LIFE Institute is an excellent example of how schools like Ryerson and other learning centres are helping to create age-friendly communities by providing opportunities for seniors to stay active and engaged.
And the timing could not be better. According to the World Health Organization, by the year 2050, seniors will make up 22% of the global population. For the first time in human history, there will be more older people than children 14 and younger. Here in Ontario, the number of seniors will more than double to 3.5 million over the next 20 years.
Nous sommes conscients que l'expérience, les connaissances et les contributions de nos personnes âgées seront essentielles pour édifier des collectivités dynamiques et vibrantes en vue d'y attirer des penseurs novateurs et des investisseurs.
We know that the experience, skills and contributions of our seniors will be vital in building more dynamic, vibrant communities that attract innovative thinkers and investors. But in order for those dynamic, vibrant communities to really thrive, they need to provide the services and supports that improve the quality of life for residents of all ages and make it easier for them to participate. That is why libraries, seniors' centres and educational institutions like Ryerson are vital. As community institutions, they promote lifelong learning and develop programs that help seniors stay healthy and active.
And more important, or equally important, the Ontario government also supports seniors in many, many ways. The government is committed to making sure that in Ontario, seniors live safely, they live with dignity and they live as independently as possible.
As more people reach their senior years, the face of our province will change, and it is our job to ensure that the province is prepared. The Ontario Seniors' Secretariat works with seniors' organizations and other community partners to deliver a range of programs and services, including seminars on such topics as safe medication use.
Over the next several months, the secretariat will be working with the Ontario Coalition of Senior Citizens' Organizations and la Fédération des aînés et des retraités francophones de l'Ontario in order to host six regional forums on age-friendly communities. These forums will help local leaders recognize the benefits of developing an age-friendly strategy.
One of the biggest abuses-one of the biggest threats to an age-friendly community is elder abuse, and Ontario has taken action to remove that threat through a comprehensive elder abuse strategy, the very first of its kind in Canada. The strategy's top priorities are to coordinate community services, train front-line staff and raise awareness of this very serious and unacceptable problem. We are putting that strategy into action thanks to a history of strong partnerships with the Ontario Victim Services Secretariat, the Ministry of the Attorney General, and the Ontario Network for the Prevention of Elder Abuse.
We have invested $2.77 million over the past three years to combat elder abuse, and last month I joined ONPEA in announcing a $415,000 Ontario Trillium Foundation investment in a new, province-wide hotline to assist abused and at-risk seniors. The Seniors Safety Line provides information, referrals and support 24 hours a day, seven days a week, and it does so in over 150 languages, because those languages represent the faces of Ontario; those languages are the languages that we, as a multicultural and incredibly diverse society here in Ontario, speak. Elder abuse is frequently something that people are ashamed of and frightened by, and it's obviously something that occurs on occasion, sometimes when seniors are isolated, so it is imperative that we have a lifeline into their homes in the language which they speak and understand.
On June 15, Ontario will be joining the rest of Canada and indeed the rest of the world in marking World Elder Abuse Awareness Day.
Ontario has invested, as well, more than $1 billion in an aging at home strategy. This strategy supports independent seniors in their own homes by matching them with appropriate health care support services available in their communities.
The recent budget contained measures that benefit seniors, including doubling the senior homeowners' property tax grant to $500. This, of course, will provide some real relief to low- and middle-income seniors who are trying to stay in their own homes. That increase will come into effect at the beginning of 2010.
These are some of the initiatives we have already taken to improve the quality of life of our seniors, and we will continue to work hard to develop others.
Finally, this month also marks an important milestone for our veterans. Saturday June 6-that's this coming Saturday-marks the 65th anniversary of D-Day and the Battle of Normandy. A commemorative event will take place on the front lawn of this Legislature to pay tribute to the tremendous sacrifice and bravery of our veterans who risked everything to ensure victory for the Allied forces. The average age of a Second World War veteran right now is 85 years old. This ceremony is an opportunity to recognize their achievements and remember those who died for their country in the struggle for peace and freedom.
There are many other events during these next few weeks that we should take note of. For those who are interested, for a comprehensive list of Seniors' Month events, I'd encourage you to visit the Ontario Seniors' Secretariat website.
J'espère que vous prendrez le temps de participer aux activités organisées dans votre collectivité et que vous vous joindrez aux célébrations du 25e anniversaire du Mois des personnes âgées en Ontario.
I hope that you will take the time to attend activities in your communities and help celebrate the 25th anniversary of Seniors' Month in this fair province of Ontario.
The seniors of today, whether they're our mothers and fathers, our grandmothers or grandfathers, our uncles, aunts and neighbours, deserve much of the credit for the freedoms we enjoy today. They helped build this great country for us and future generations, and many defended the honour of our country in the armed forces.
Sadly, our seniors are neglected by the McGuinty Liberals. Instead of acknowledging the needs of senior citizens, this government has abandoned them. The latest hit levelled at our seniors by this government is the McGuinty new sales tax. Ontario seniors will be among the hardest-hit people in Ontario by this tax grab. According to a report by Wernham Wealth Management, a retired couple earning an after-tax income of $41,000 will face a tax increase of $1,500 a year when purchasing items such as heating oil, Internet services, haircuts and coffee. Mr. McGuinty should be making life easier for our seniors, not bullying his way into their pocketbooks and diminishing their golden years. Shame on you, Dalton McGuinty.
This government also continues to keep a tight rein on the pensions of our seniors who worked for many long, hard years to earn that income. How can this government justify holding back money these seniors have access to in order to improve their quality of life? Last month, this government voted against a private member's bill by MPP Ted Chudleigh that would have given Ontario retirees access to 100% of their locked-in pension money. After all, it is their money.
Ontario is currently home to 1.6 million seniors. What's going to happen in 2028, when the number of seniors in Ontario doubles? What is the plan to assist those who need to move to a long-term-care facility? Senior citizens deserve better and Dalton McGuinty is not meeting their needs. This government continues to ignore our seniors' right to a secure and comfortable home by refusing to build new long-term-care beds. Instead, seniors end up in acute care beds in our hospitals that are in short supply. How would you like to live out your days, months and years in a hospital? Shame on you, Dalton McGuinty.
Those seniors who are fortunate enough to get a bed in a long-term-care facility are not receiving the amount of personal care they require. Despite repeated pleas from long-term-care homes, this government has refused to provide residents with the three hours of daily personal care they need. I have heard many horror stories about residents lying in their own waste for hours or not eating for hours after the usual mealtime. Shame on you, Dalton McGuinty.
And many of our seniors must shake their heads in disbelief when they see the unfairness of Dalton McGuinty and his $4-billion bailout of the GM pension plan. He plays a reverse Robin Hood, taking from the needy and giving to the prosperous. The $4 billion will be used for a small, select group in our province, without similar assistance being given to thousands of other pension holders whose pensions are also underfunded and failing, and absolutely no thought to helping the 70% of seniors without private pension plans whose small savings have been ravaged by the recession and must struggle every day to pay the bills. Yes, it soaks the middle class and gives to the rich, and it gets worse. Each and every senior in Ontario, without regard to their needs, will be called upon by the McGuinty government to pay an amount of $700, being their share of the $4-billion bailout. And please remember, the $4 billion does not save one job. It is a gift to former employees.
Seniors' Month is an important annual event in our province, and it's an ideal time for us all to thank seniors for their contribution to our communities, province and country. Thank you.
One specific group of seniors I want to mention is veterans. The Legion branches in Hamilton and Stoney Creek are very active in my community, like they are across this province. Veterans served our country bravely, and they deserve our respect and thanks each and every day for the sacrifices they have made.
Senior citizens helped to forge this province. They worked their whole lives to make it the wonderful place it is today, and we should show our appreciation for this all year long, not just in the month of June.
Yet I am concerned that the government is not doing enough to protect their right to live in dignity and with respect. It is alarming that this government is no longer committed to fulfilling its obligation to properly backstop the pension guarantee fund. Seniors, like all of us, deserve to retire with security and dignity, and they should not have to worry about their pensions because the government will not fulfill its responsibilities to them.
Another troubling issue is the way the government has treated grandparents raising grandchildren. Many grandparents care for their grandchildren when the parents are unable to do so. Recently, grandparents had to take action to ensure that funding to care for their grandchildren was reinstated after they were cut off by this government. I was proud to work with them on this issue, to have funding reinstated in the greater Hamilton area, but they should never have been cut off in the first place.
In closing, Seniors' Month gives us all a chance to reflect on the contribution seniors make to our province-
I just remind the government side again: The government statement was dealing with Seniors' Month; the opposition, whether the government likes it or not, is speaking to seniors' issues. I ask that you be respectful of the opposition members in their responses.
In closing, Seniors' Month gives us all a chance to reflect on the contribution seniors make to our province, and also on the things that government should be doing to protect their rights. I encourage everyone to take the time this month to reflect on the many ways that seniors have contributed to our lives, to thank them and to remind them of how much we appreciate all they have done for us and all they will continue to do. Seniors are a critical part of our society, and they deserve great treatment.
But what I want to talk about is how important it is to keep seniors in our community so we can learn from them and share our lives with them. In order to do this, seniors often need a little bit of support as they grow frail. That support will often come through home care through our community care access centres. But again, in our society right now, the Liberal government has put back into effect the competitive bidding system for home care.
The competitive bidding system has decimated our home care system, which means that a lot of seniors who want to age and stay in their homes are not able to do so. It makes the agencies that offer home support and home care programs unable to recruit and retain a stable workforce, which is so important for quality of care for seniors who wish to age in their own homes. They often end up in trouble and in hospital, and then they are labelled alternate level of care, which means they don't want to be in hospital, they do not need to be in hospital, but the home care system is not there to support them in their own homes and there are no beds for them to go into a nursing home.
This is poor-quality care for those seniors at the worst time of their lives, when they need us to support them a little bit so we can continue to gain from them. If they end up transferring to a long-term-care home, then the care levels are often abysmal.
We have been asking in legislation, first in legislation under the Long-Term Care Homes Act, and the government refused, then in regulation, to have 3.5 hours of hands-on care mandated so that everybody who is in a long-term-care home receives the care they need to live with dignity. But here again we are failing our seniors. So, the month of June could be whole lot happier with those two little changes.
Thank you, Mr. Speaker.
RESIGNATION OF MEMBER
FOR ST. PAUL'S
Neither I nor my parents, who were there-they came in from Victoria-nor Susan Abramovitch, my better half-hello-will ever forget that night. It was a night of honour, celebration and hope.
Political entrances, after all, are affairs of unbridled hope-nothing but the promise of the joyful unknown; political exits, on the other hand, can be a little brutal, whether the deep cut of electoral defeat or the voluntary resignation, inevitably shrouded in intrigue, real or imagined.
'Twas ever thus. The best we can hope for, when our political exit comes, is to trumpet the good memories, to find forgiveness amongst the chagrined, to muster maximum grace amid the unanswered and the unfulfilled.
Being an MPP is the best job I'll ever have. Sometime in my first term, coming down those stairs in this beautiful building, I literally pinched myself, hard. It was a feeling of the fulfillment of a dream and of living that dream.
As a rookie MPP, I came to realize the power of the bully pulpit, exercised through the sacred elected office through this Parliament's platform: a blow horn for democracy. You stand on that front lawn of Queen's Park and you have a chance to speak; you stand in this chamber, at these desks, and you have a chance to be heard, to officially advocate on behalf of the people for, and sometimes even effect, change through this empire of good that we call our parliamentary system, our primary tool of democracy in Canada outside of the ballot box. It's awesome. It is an awesome place, and for those contemplating a life in Queen's Park, I highly recommend it.
So thank you to everybody who gave me this opportunity, to Susan, my family and my very best friends, who entertained the fantasy that a 33-year-old kid from Victoria, BC, could get elected in the majestic midtown riding of St. Paul's. Thanks to the slow trickle of volunteers-at the beginning that was basically my political campaign-the slow trickle of volunteers at the beginning of a political journey of, obviously, a complete unknown.
To those who were there at the beginning, I say thanks:
-to the lovely ladies at the Bradgate Arms who rolled out in their wheelchairs to come to a nomination meeting on a sunny September day and who rolled back into the ballot box to vote for-who knows?
-to the tenants in the riding-68% of the riding are renters-who defied the conventional wisdom that tenants don't vote. They got out and voted in 1999, and then again in 2003 and 2007.
-to those who opened their doors for me and our team of volunteers; those who engaged and participated; those who went out and voted, sometimes standing in line for more time than I could have imagined anyone would tolerate.
It's a marvel that anyone votes-when your name's on the ballot, you are amazed that 10 people show up, let alone tens of thousands. It's a miracle, really, to actually win.
I know that people who support politicians support the office and support the democracy more than the person-certainly that was the case in St. Paul's-but I was the beneficiary of that support. And to all of those supporters, especially the surprise arrivals who stuck around the campaigns day and night and laboured the tedious and inspiring work of running a riding association and campaign, I'm obviously very beholden for that support.
To my staff, who make me look good sometimes and save my bacon often; overworked and underpaid and underappreciated: You do the hard work of public service and political support. It is humbling and it is awe-inspiring. I've watched many of you grow into genius form, even as you patiently held my political hand, warts and all. I'm gobsmacked by your sacrifice, dedication and professionalism. Thank you.
To all of you who share this chamber, on all sides of the House: I have learned much. I have listened much. I have spoken much-much too much sometimes; sometimes a little too loud and brazen for some Upper Canadians. The best we can do here, I suppose, is to be ourselves and hope for the best. That's what I did, and I have no regrets.
Special thanks to my Liberal colleagues. This is a great family I get to be a part of, and I hope always to be useful, and good friends. You have supported me and hopefully we have supported each other in good deeds. I've earned a few winces for my overexuberance, I understand, but I do pray that never did I harm our collective cause or the good deeds done.
To the Premier, my Liberal leader throughout my years here: I am unspeakably grateful for the opportunities that he gave me. Nothing with which I am associated would have happened without his support. We did a lot together. Without exception, my relationship with Dalton McGuinty was genteel and affable, and nothing if not productive.
Credit is due to many others, but I leave with the satisfaction of a few things done. Special thanks to Deputy Ministers Segal, Sterling, Amin and Howell, and especially Deputy Attorney General Segal.
My final words are to my family: to my mom, a multiple sclerosis conqueror extraordinaire, who taught me I could do anything that I wanted to do; and my dad, who taught me exactly how to do it; and to Susan for putting up with all this, for supporting me in all this, for sharing me with a lot of people and a lot of priorities. Thanks for letting me live this dream.
Finally, I want to wish all of you here the best. You'll be the best, I know. I'll soon enough enshroud myself with the excitement of the next chapter, but I will miss all of you terribly and always. Godspeed to all of you who work in this place and support the people in this place, in this noble chamber of best intentions. Thank you.
Gordon was a member of the infamous Gang of 22 in 1981-22 new members of the Progressive Conservative caucus who were elected in that Bill Davis majority government. I was one of them. It was quite a crew, when you look back and reflect on those times: people like Mike Harris, Ernie Eves, Andy Brandt, Susan Fish, Don Cousens, Gord Dean, Morley Kells-we could go on and on. It was a colourful, interesting and varied group of folks who made, I think, significant contributions to this place and the province over the years, and certainly Gordon was a prominent member of that gang.
When you think back about the fact that Gordon has not been a member since 1987-22 years-it's really a little bit scary, when you think about the way time flies. I know that only Norm Sterling, Jim Bradley and myself, who are in the chamber today, served with Gordon.
I remember him as a distinguished gentleman, and "gentleman" is the right word to describe Gordon: a tall, distinguished fellow. I don't think, Mary, even when he was first elected that he had a great deal of hair, but correct me if I'm wrong. But he was a gentleman and a scholarly guy as well, an intelligent guy, and respected in our caucus.
I have to say, reading some of the stories about Gordon written over the years-and I think it happens to many people who are elected to public office. Gordon was by nature a shy man, a shy person. There's an expectation on people who are elected to this office that you're going to be a backslapper and a hale fellow well met. I don't that that would describe Gordon, but he was a hard worker, someone who represented the people he served extremely well. If you look at his career in municipal office, it's 20 years of service to the people of his area as the mayor of Stoney Creek.
I didn't realize, even when you're serving with colleagues, some of their background and experiences. I didn't realize that Gordon was a former president of the Association of Municipalities of Ontario. Perhaps a lot don't know, John, that you were as well. Some of our colleagues, in their backgrounds and experiences, have given significant and extensive service to people in this province. That was certainly the case with Gordon.
He was, as I said, first elected in 1981. I vividly recall the day I sat in the backbench with Ernie Eves on one side and René Piché and Don Cousens. I recall, two years into the Davis government, four members, four of the class of 1981, were promoted into cabinet. That was a pretty big thing. Four of the 22 had an opportunity to sit around the cabinet table: Susan Fish, Andy Brandt, Phil Andrewes and Gordon Dean, who were all promoted. Gordon went in as a minister without portfolio. Of course we were all envious, the rest of us who remained in the back row.
Of course, as Jim and Norm recall-and a few others, I think, who were elected in 1985 will recall-the Miller government didn't last too long. It was my opportunity to go into cabinet as well back then. I think we were in office for five and a half months. I recall it was during the throne speech where, following the Liberal-NDP accord, we all knew that we were going to lose government because the throne speech was going to be defeated by the accord of the two parties. I read a story where Gordon had to come in, and what a difficult day that was, because we knew we were going to lose government, and he wanted Mary to come into the House to witness the vote, and she simply refused. This was not a happy day and she was not going to attend the Legislature for it, and I said to her earlier, "I don't blame you. If I couldn't have been there, I wouldn't have been there either." In any event, Gordon stayed with us until 1987.
He passed away at the age of 85, April 19 of last year. I've read a lot of the commentary with respect to Gordon's contributions to the province and the country. So many kind contributions, so many kind words about Gordon being an ardent Christian, someone said, who perhaps-and I don't know if this is accurate today, but at the time-"was the only MPP I ever met"-this gentleman who was commenting on it-"who used the Lord's name in some of his speeches."
The other thing we should mention about Gordon, of course, is that he was a farmer at heart. He always said his wife was more comfortable on the farm. He was probably more comfortable on the farm as well in terms of the responsibilities he had publicly, but he always went back to the farm. I also found out that he was a graduate of McMaster and had a Master of Science degree-a very accomplished individual indeed.
Upon his passing, I read one comment that really touched me, and I'd like to put it on the record in closing my comments. It was from Mary. Quoting you, Mary: "If I had a chance to say one more thing to him, I would say, `I love you very much' .... I guess I would say, we've had a wonderful 58 years together and three wonderful girls ... I'll miss you for the rest of my life." Nothing can be more heartfelt than what you said that day, Mary. You have every right to be proud of Gordon, you and your family, and we thank you very much for his contribution to this place, to the province and to the country.
I have to say that I did not know Gordon Dean personally, but through Charlotte Dean, his daughter, who told many warm stories about Gordon, I have a sense of the man, and I very much like the sense that I have. We may have had different political perspectives, but the central thing for anyone who is in this chamber is that when you come out and do what you can for the people of Ontario, you make personal sacrifices. It's as simple as that. My guess is that although a gentleman, as Bob Runciman said, Gordon was not a man who was retiring and who was shy in taking part in what happens in this chamber.
It's fitting that his family is here today as we pay tribute to his legacy. They're owed a debt of gratitude for the willingness to give of their family to this province in the years that Gordon served here in this Legislature. The sacrifices that families make are often unnoticed, but they are substantial, and we know that the foundation that our families give-that Gordon's family gave to his life-are critical to actually doing the things that we need to do here. So to Mary and all of the rest of the Dean family, a thank you for the role that you played in building a stronger Ontario. We're aware that Gordon's successes would have been diminished by the absence of your support. In fact I have to say, based on the stories that you, Charlotte, have told me, that his electoral successes would have been diminished without the support of the family. You were a campaign worker very early in your life, I gather, as was my son. It runs in our families, right?
As a proud resident and former mayor of Stoney Creek, Gordon's career was characterized by a commitment to his community. He understood the importance of public service. He knew it was an immense privilege and an even greater responsibility. He believed in the people and the potential of the communities he had the honour of serving. He demonstrated his commitment to them in this House and at the cabinet table.
For Gordon, retirement from political life did not mean retirement from public life. He spent time on the boards of St. Joseph's Healthcare and the Royal Botanical Gardens. He was a devoted family man and committed servant of the community. He never lost sight of the community and the people whom he came here to represent.
We celebrate his contributions to the people of Stoney Creek and to Ontario.
Bob Runciman-I guess we can use our first names today-characterized Gordon very well. He was not one of those hail-fellow-well-met, back-slapping type of politicians-not that there's anything wrong with those individuals, but he wasn't one of them. He was certainly a person who was very reserved in his way. But you could spot a brightness there, an intelligence there, a commitment in Gordon Dean, not only to his own constituents but to the province as a whole. I think Premiers recognized that. Premier Davis recognized that and Premier Miller recognized that as well. Remember that Gordon actually supported Mr. Timbrell in the leadership for the party, but that didn't mean anything to Mr. Miller, who was the Premier at the time. What was important was that Gordon Dean could contribute to the province of Ontario and would be an asset to the cabinet, and therefore he was selected by Premier Miller to serve in that cabinet.
I recall him as well as not being an ardent partisan. There's a lot of partisanship in this House, and some are more partisan than others, I am informed. But Gordon Dean, I would say, was not one of those who wore his political stripes, though he was loyal to the Progressive Conservative Party and maintained his activities within the party even after he decided not to run for the Legislature in 1987. He was nevertheless a person who could reach out to people in other political parties and was more interested in the issues than in scoring partisan points. I think that made him a person who was popular amongst his colleagues and, I'm sure, amongst his constituents.
Mention was made of his science degree from McMaster University, and I see as well-I wasn't aware of this at the time-that he had been involved with Atomic Energy of Canada, working at Chalk River. That has an interesting history along the way, as we see it in the news today, but all along it's had an interesting history. It's a clear indication that, again, Gordon could have done other things if he wanted to. He chose, instead, public service from the year 1981 to 1987.
What was interesting as well was that in 1985-I remember we used to kid him a bit as being "Landslide Gordon" because he won by just a few hundred votes when he was there, just as we used to talk about "Landslide Ernie"-Ernie Eves, who won by six votes in his riding.
But what happened in 1985, and this is probably a good judgment of a person with his constituents, when the tide was going the opposite way, because in 1981 it was going toward the Conservative Party: They went from minority status to majority status on March 19, 1981. But in 1985, when things weren't going quite so well for the governing party at that time, Gordon Dean actually increased his plurality amongst his constituents. That's a clear indication that they were very pleased with what he had done for them and the contribution he was making to the province.
Many people, as, again, Bob Runciman made reference to, start out at the municipal level of government, or as we now call it, order of government. Gordon was very committed to that order of government as well. I think he reflected that in the Legislature, having been a mayor and having held other positions in municipal government; as well, assuming-as mention has been made, my colleague John Gerretsen was the president of the Association of Municipalities of Ontario. You don't rise to that position easily, and Gordon obviously had the support and respect of many municipal politicians in the province of Ontario to place him in that position. So he made that contribution at that time as well.
He also had the opportunity to be a critic in opposition. That's not always an easy job to be a critic, but he certainly indicated that he was prepared to take that on after his government was no longer in power.
One as well is that he returned to the land, back to being a farmer. So often the trend is in the opposite direction, isn't it? People go from the rural area, from farming, to something else. Sometimes people say, "Well, they've advanced to something else." I think he advanced when he went back to the farm. Farming and agriculture are very important to this province. When you have a person of Gordon's quality prepared to go back to it, that's important as well.
The member for Toronto-Danforth made reference to the fact, as is the case with so many former members of the Legislature, that when he stopped being a member of the Legislature, he didn't stop serving publicly, and that the two institutions to which reference was made, St. Joseph's and the-
I noted as well, in one of the little comments I saw about him, that he was a great fan of poetry. It's interesting: Some members of the Legislature have recited poetry. There used to be a member of the NDP, a Toronto member, Mr. Brewin, who used get up and recite some poetry that was very good. There was also Dalton McGuinty's father, Dalton Sr., who used to recite poetry. Ogden Nash, a famous poet, was a favourite of Gordon Dean's.
A straight and fair approach-people would say that was exactly what he had; a devoted family person, a family man.
A couple of things he did here-if you look at the Legislature today and some of the issues, some members came ahead of the rest of us on these issues. I'm just going to mention a couple. He was paying tribute to a women's hockey team. At one time, that was just a sideshow. A women's hockey game was not something that people looked at very seriously. They were wrong then, and today we see that. Women's hockey is extremely important. I remember Gordon making a tribute to them.
He had a question to the Premier about the Red Hill Creek Expressway and when it was going to get built. That was, it says here, in January 1987, and the Premier gave one of those answers that Premier Robarts was perhaps known for, something like "in the fullness of time," or some vague answer that I'm told government members give from time to time to very succinct questions by opposition members. He would have been delighted when he saw the progress being made and now the number of people who use the Red Hill Valley Parkway, as they call it now, as a way to get around Hamilton. He was one who was for that.
The other was dealing with impaired driving-the RIDE program. He was even in favour of raising the minimum drinking age to 21. Well, that didn't happen, but the rule has come into effect, or will be coming into effect, that a person 21 and under will not be able to have any blood alcohol when driving.
So Gordon Dean was ahead on many issues. He was a decent man. We thank his family for sharing him with the province of Ontario and specifically with the constituents in Wentworth-I think the riding was called Wentworth East at that time. Ontario is a better place because of Gordon Dean, and we're all deeply grateful to him, as he has passed on, and to his family for sharing him with us.
The House observed a moment's silence.
"Whereas the residents of Bruce-Grey-Owen Sound do not want a provincial harmonized sales tax that will raise the cost of goods and services they use every day; and
"Whereas the 13% blended sales tax will cause everyone to pay more for gasoline for their cars, heat, telephone, cable and Internet services for their homes, and will be applied to house sales over $400,000; and
"Whereas the 13% blended sales tax will cause everyone to pay more for meals under $4, haircuts, funeral services, gym memberships, newspapers, and lawyer and accountant fees; and
"Whereas the blended sales tax grab will affect everyone in the province: seniors, students, families and low-income Ontarians;
"Therefore, we, the undersigned, petition the Legislative Assembly of Ontario as follows:
"That the McGuinty Liberal government not increase taxes for Ontario consumers."
I've signed this and will give it to Kathleen.
"Whereas protecting and preserving Ontario's cemeteries is a shared responsibility and the foundation of a civilized society; and
"Whereas failure to safeguard one of our last remaining authentic original heritage resources, Ontario's inactive cemeteries, would be disastrous for the continuity of the historical record and our collective culture in this province;
"We, the undersigned, petition the Legislative Assembly of Ontario as follows:
"The government must pass Bill 149, the Inactive Cemeteries Protection Act, 2009, to prohibit the relocation of inactive cemeteries in the province of Ontario."
As I agree with this, I shall sign it and send it to the clerks' table.
"Whereas the village of Seagrave is a quiet residential community of retirees and people still in the workforce, but preferring a country lifestyle; and
"Whereas much of the village of Seagrave lies within a half-mile distance of a proposed wind farm site; and
"Whereas we consider the plans to place a wind farm adjacent to a quiet rural community to be appalling, and we are absolutely opposed to the planning and construction of this development at the corner of Saintfield Road and Simcoe Street in Seagrave; and
"Whereas the adverse impacts of wind farms are well documented;
"Therefore we, the undersigned, petition the Legislative Assembly of Ontario to place a moratorium on the building of this wind warm in the village of Seagrave until there has been a thorough investigation into the impacts of wind farms on residential and urban communities."
I am pleased to sign and support this because it's the right thing to do.
"Whereas wait times for access to surgical procedures in the western GTA served by the Mississauga Halton LHIN are growing despite the ongoing capital project activity at the hospitals within the Mississauga Halton LHIN boundaries; and
"Whereas `day surgery' procedures could be performed in an off-site facility. An ambulatory surgery centre would greatly increase the ability of surgeons to perform more procedures, reduce wait times for patients and free up operating theatre space in hospitals for more complex procedures that may require post-operative intensive care unit support and a longer length of stay in hospital;
"We, the undersigned, petition the Legislative Assembly of Ontario as follows:
"That the Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care allocate funds in its 2009-10 capital budget to begin planning and construction of an ambulatory surgery centre located in western Mississauga to serve the Mississauga-Halton area and enable greater access to `day surgery' procedures that comprise about four fifths of all surgical procedures performed."
I'm pleased to sign and support this petition and ask page Carlyn to carry it for me.
"To the Legislative Assembly of Ontario:
"Whereas residents in Renfrew-Nipissing-Pembroke do not want the McGuinty Liberals' new sales tax, which will raise the cost of goods and services they use every day; and
"Whereas the McGuinty Liberals' new sales tax of 13% will cause everyone to pay more for gasoline, for their hydro, cars, heat, telephone, cable and Internet services for their homes, and will be applied to home sales over $400,000; and
"Whereas the McGuinty Liberals' new sales tax of 13% will cause everyone to pay more for meals under $4, haircuts, funeral services, gym memberships, newspapers, and lawyer and accountant fees; and
"Whereas the McGuinty Liberals' new sales tax grab will affect everyone in the province: seniors, students, families and low-income Ontarians;
"We, the undersigned, petition the Legislative Assembly of Ontario as follows:
"That the McGuinty Liberal government not increase taxes for Ontario families."
I am pleased to sign this in support of this petition and send it down with Kevin.
PERSONAL SUPPORT WORKERS
"Whereas all health care aides and personal support workers should be regulated, organized and accountable;
"That there be stricter screening of personal support workers before enrolment in courses;
"That all schools are providing proper education and training of personal support workers; we need more quality, not just quantity;
"That the practice of handing out personal support worker certificates to keep Canada's unemployment rate down cease;
"That a much-needed support group, to help health care aides and personal support workers deal with the many issues that face them every day, be established;
"That a stronger network be built with employers, registered staff and the public so we can enhance the lives of our seniors, eliminate senior abuse and improve working conditions for front-line workers;
"We, the undersigned, petition the Legislative Assembly of Ontario as follows:
"PSW Canada (2007) and Friends call on the government to bring forth changes in the lives of the residents of nursing homes, retirement homes and home care. The government must recognize personal support workers are a very important part of the nursing team; only then can government truly say they care for our most vulnerable in our society."
I agree with this and attach my name to it.
"Whereas the federal government's employment insurance surplus now stands" at over $50 billion; and
"Whereas over 75% of Ontario's unemployed workers are not eligible for employment insurance because of Ottawa's unfair eligibility rules; and
"Whereas an Ontario worker has to work more weeks to qualify and receives fewer weeks of benefits than other Canadian unemployed workers; and
"Whereas the average Ontario unemployed worker gets $4,000 less in EI benefits than unemployed workers in other provinces, thus not qualifying for many" of the federal retraining programs because they're not eligible for EI;
"We, the undersigned," join in solidarity to "petition the Legislative Assembly of Ontario to press the federal government to reform the employment insurance program and to end the discrimination and unfairness towards Ontario's unemployed workers."
I'm in solidarity with the unemployed workers, and I affix my name to the petition.
"To the Legislative Assembly of Ontario:
"Whereas the RFP process is causing hardship to small school bus operators and their employees throughout Ontario;
"Whereas the RFP process has awarded school bus runs throughout Ontario to multinational school bus operators;
"Whereas the Ministry of Education is using local property taxes to aid in the growth of multinational-owned school transportation companies which in turn affects small local family-owned school transportation companies;
"We, the undersigned, petition the Legislative Assembly of Ontario to discontinue the RFP process in the school transportation industry."
It's signed by hundreds of my constituents in Wellington-Halton Hills as well as many constituents in the riding of Perth-Wellington. I've affixed my signature to it, and I support it as well.
"Whereas Ontario's cemeteries are an important part of our cultural heritage, and Ontario's inactive cemeteries are constantly at risk of closure and removal; and
"Ontario's cemeteries are an irreplaceable part of the province's cultural heritage;
"We, the undersigned, petition the Legislative Assembly of Ontario as follows:
"The government must pass Bill 149, the Inactive Cemeteries Protection Act, 2009, to prohibit the relocation of inactive cemeteries in the province of Ontario."
As I agree with this petition, I shall sign it and send it to the clerks' table.
"I, the undersigned, wish to voice my concern with the approach taken by the city of Barrie, as supported by MPP Aileen Carroll, to encourage the government of Ontario to move forward with imposing a unilateral imposition of a boundary change on the town of Innisfil. This move would allow unprecedented expansion of the population of the city of Barrie to the detriment of every other taxpayer in the county of Simcoe.
"A locally negotiated solution that fairly distributes population and employment growth ensures everyone wins."
SOCIAL SERVICES FUNDING
"Whereas the population in Peel has tripled from 400,000 residents to 1.2 million between 1980 to present. Human services funding has not kept pace with that growth. Peel receives only one third the per capita social service funding of other Ontario communities; and
"Whereas residents of Peel cannot obtain social services in a timely fashion. Long waiting lists exist for many Peel region service providers. The child poverty level in Peel has grown from 14% to 20% between 2001 and 2006, and youth violence is rising; and
"Whereas Ontario's Places to Grow legislation predicts substantial future growth, further challenging our already stretched service providers to respond to population growth;
"We, the undersigned, petition the Legislative Assembly of Ontario as follows:
"That the province of Ontario allocate social services funding on the basis of population size, population growth, relevant social indicators and special geographic conditions;
"That the province provide adequate growth funding for social services in Peel region; and
"That Ontario develop, in consultation with high-growth stakeholders, a human services strategy for high-growth regions to complement Ontario's award-winning Places to Grow strategy."
I agree with this petition, I am pleased to affix my signature and to ask page Jacob to carry it-
"Whereas Cambridge Memorial Hospital and other hospitals in the Waterloo region are experiencing substantial increased demands due to population growth; and
"Whereas the McGuinty government's freeze on new long-term-care facilities has resulted in additional long-term-care patients in our hospitals; and
"Whereas the McGuinty government's cuts to hospital funding have resulted in a dangerous environment for patients and staff in Cambridge and across Ontario; and
"Whereas the approved new expansion of the hospital has been delayed by the McGuinty government and this has contributed to the funding shortfall;
"We, the undersigned, hereby petition the Legislative Assembly of Ontario as follows:
"(1) That the McGuinty government meet its obligations to introduce a population-needs-based funding formula for hospitals as has been done in other Canadian provinces;
"(2) That the McGuinty government proceed immediately with the approved new expansion of Cambridge Memorial Hospital."
PROTECTION FOR WORKERS
"Whereas a number of caregiver recruitment agencies have been exploiting vulnerable foreign workers; and
"Whereas caregivers are subject to illegal fees and abuse at the hands of some of these unscrupulous recruiters; and
"Whereas the federal government in Ottawa has failed to protect these caregivers from these abuses; and....
"Whereas a great number of foreign caregivers and caregiver workers perform outstanding duties on a daily basis in their work, with limited protection;
"We, the undersigned, support the Caregiver and Foreign Worker Recruitment and Protection Act, 2009, and urge its speedy passage into law."
I support this petition and I affix my name to it.
"Whereas residents in Burlington do not want the McGuinty 13% sales tax, which will raise the cost of goods and services they use every day; and
"Whereas the McGuinty 13% blended sales tax will cause everyone to pay more for gasoline for their cars, heat, telephone, cable and Internet services for their homes, and will be applied to home sales over $400,000; and
"Whereas the McGuinty 13% blended sales tax will cause everyone to pay more for meals under $4, haircuts, funeral services, gym memberships, newspapers, and lawyer and accountant fees; and
"Whereas the blended sales tax grab will affect everyone in the province: seniors, students, families and low-income Ontarians;
"We, the undersigned, petition the Legislative Assembly of Ontario as follows:
"That the McGuinty Liberal government not increase taxes for Ontario families."
I agree and support this petition, and I will sign it and give it to page Ajoy.
ORDERS OF THE DAY
ONTARIO COLLEGE OF TRADES
AND APPRENTICESHIP ACT, 2009 /
LOI DE 2009 SUR L'ORDRE DES MÉTIERS
DE L'ONTARIO ET L'APPRENTISSAGE
Resuming the debate adjourned on June 2, 2009, on the motion for second reading of Bill 183, An Act to revise and modernize the law related to apprenticeship training and trades qualifications and to establish the Ontario College of Trades / Projet de loi 183, Loi visant à réviser et à moderniser le droit relatif à la formation en apprentissage et aux qualifications professionnelles et à créer l'Ordre des métiers de l'Ontario.
Self-regulation is a plan that has demonstrated itself to be a useful way of standardizing rules in many fields, from architects to accountants, chiropractors to dietitians, and lawyers to midwives. But there is a backstory to this new government scheme that we all should be cautious of, because the introduction of the college of trades raises some very serious questions about the intent of this government.
I don't need to tell anyone in this House, save for the Liberals, maybe, about the potential dangers of a self-regulating organization, like the college of trades, that has been stacked with special interests.
Self-regulation in the public interest is meant to define qualifications as well as the ongoing obligations to ensure continuing competence, high quality and public protection. But red flags should go up when you look at what this government did with the college of teachers after they were first elected. They took the proven idea of self-regulation, which has been used successfully in many fields, and perverted it for their political ends. The college of teachers is now a union-led tool for promoting union interests, regardless of the impact on teachers, students or taxpayers.
I think that we can all look at the McGuinty record and confidently predict that he will do the exact same thing with the college of trades, and there's evidence to suggest this. The college of trades will be tasked with setting Ontario's apprenticeship ratios. In an effort to maintain Ontario's artificially high apprentice-to-journeyman ratios, the minister used provincial advisory committees, groups that he appointed under the Trades Qualification and Apprenticeship Act, to justify his unreasonably high ratios.
As has been said in this House before by my colleague from Simcoe-Grey, the minister stacked those committees with his buddies, who have a vested interest in keeping those ratios high without consideration for the broader public interest. Take the boilermakers' PAC: It is heavily stacked with representatives from the boilermakers' union, Local 128, with only token business interests. The same with the drywallers, and the acoustic and lathing applicator PAC. This is stacked with members of the United Brotherhood of Carpenters, another union which does not want to change the apprenticeship ratios.
So we can only assume that the government will use the college of trades just like they used their PACs and the way they have used the college of teachers, and pervert this for their own political ends by handing control over to the industry, to special interests, instead of the government protecting the public interest.
Let there be no mistake about it: The driving force behind this legislation comes from people like Pat Dillon and the members of the Working Families Coalition, who are intimate friends of this government and who have worked with the Liberals to carefully craft rules and programs to exclude anyone who is not part of their club, because to them, it's not about fairness and it's not about safety for working people; it's about whether or not you play ball with the government and their friends. If you do, the sky's the limit; if you don't, welcome to the brick wall.
And that's not all. Today, some groups are even challenging the legitimacy of the introduction of this legislation. The Open Shop Contractors Association of Ontario has been calling for months now for the resignation of Kevin Whitaker, the minister's implementation advisor for this legislation, because as their president, Dave McDonald, says, "In the view of the layman," Mr. Whitaker is "a virtual employee of the (building) trades." I understand that they have filed a complaint with the conflict of interest commissioner, and I note that the Ontario Electrical League backs them up on this matter.
In an article from the Daily Commercial News, Mr. McDonald even questions the need for this new body. He says, "`It was pointless to create a new bureaucracy paid for by the industry, through fees, to look into increasing compulsory trades when there is no rational need.'" The article goes on to say, "Some industry stakeholders, including" the Open Shop Contractors, "have said they think the college is a way for the" government "to `reward its political allies in the building trades.'"
The legitimacy of this process is definitely being questioned, and for all of these reasons, we will review this legislation cautiously.
The member pointed out a couple of points. One of them is about the board of governors of this proposed college of trades. The members of the board of governors are drawn from employees and employers in equal numbers; plus, five members are coming from the lay community. So it's a balanced board. It is appointed by an independent council, so I would like to bring the member's attention to the very fact that this board is going to be an independent board. It's not a union board, it's not an employer board; it's an independent board. The employees and the employers are equally represented on this board, plus five members are going to be drawn from the lay community.
On the question of ratios, there have been quite a number of discussions in this House about that. We know that there are maybe some concerns about these ratios, but it says in the proposed act that technical people, the review panels, are going to look into this notion of ratios, and they are the people who should decide. It's not for us, for politicians, to decide on these ratios or the number of journeypersons to apprentices. This is a technical matter, and the proposed bill leaves this to technical people to tackle this issue.
Currently, for example, in one particular trade, the number of ratios-for example, the electrical profession or trade. For smaller firms, actually, the number is one to one, and when the firm becomes larger, of course, the ratio goes up. But this is, again, something which is under review in this proposed bill-
I wanted to speak at length, for 20 minutes. However, by unanimous consent of the whip and the assistant whip, they have stifled me and censored me for the day, so having said all that, I will sit down.
The member from Burlington, you have two minutes to respond.
I just want to do a little bit of math here. Given that an average fee for these types of colleges is about $100 and that the potential membership in this college would be about 600,000 tradespeople across this province, that's about a $60-million annual budget. With that budget comes absolutely no guarantee that this will improve opportunities for our young folks who have an interest in a trade. We need to have some clarity on this, and there isn't any.
From what we see in this bill, nothing will change with the apprenticeship ratios. Certainly, you can change apprenticeship ratios without a college; you don't need a college to do that. So why are we structuring this college and another layer of bureaucracy, and on we go? We need to assure the Ontario public that there's going to be some accountability and some transparency in what happens here, and right now we have absolutely no assurance of that.
Who exactly is going to be on the board? There's no clarity about that either, and absolutely no clarity on how all of this is going to play out. It's very vague. I don't want us to get into the position we now find ourselves in in question period with eHealth, where there's lack of transparency, no accountability, nobody seems to be in charge, and yet there's millions of dollars rolling around and no one has anything to show for it. I hope this isn't another one of those scenarios.
Mr. Milloy has moved second reading of Bill 183. Is it the pleasure of the House that the motion carry? Carried.
Second reading agreed to.
Orders of the day.
Motion agreed to.
This House, then, is adjourned until 9:45 a.m. Thursday, June 4, 2009.
The House adjourned at 1648.
ORDERS OF THE DAY / ORDRE DU JOUR
INTRODUCTION OF VISITORS / PRÉSENTATION DES VISITEURS
ORAL QUESTIONS / QUESTIONS ORALES
INTRODUCTION OF VISITORS / PRÉSENTATION DES VISITEURS
MEMBERS' STATEMENTS / DÉCLARATIONS DES DÉPUTÉS
REPORTS BY COMMITTEES / RAPPORTS DES COMITÉS
INTRODUCTION OF BILLS / DÉPÔT DES PROJETS DE LOI
STATEMENTS BY THE MINISTRY AND RESPONSES / DÉCLARATIONS MINISTÉRIELLES ET RÉPONSES
PETITIONS / PÉTITIONS
ORDERS OF THE DAY / ORDRE DU JOUR
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