The House met at 1030.
INTRODUCTION OF VISITORS
Today is the beginning of our first western wardens' day here at Queen's Park. We have many of our colleagues from counties in western Ontario here visiting today. I know members will want to introduce them. I'm joined by the member for Sarnia-Lambton hosting today, but I do want to make special mention of my good friend John Green, the mayor of Mapleton, who is here visiting today. I'll leave it to others to introduce their guests.
They all oppose the HST, and that's why they're here today.
I ask the Deputy Premier, why do you say things during the election and then do the opposite once you're in office?
Once we get past the phony rhetoric and the hyperbole, we can look at the real experts. We can look at what his own expert witness, Jack Mintz, said, which is that this package will create 600,000 jobs. Sir, this is about-
Not only did Dalton McGuinty promise, during the 2007 campaign, not to increase taxes and now is increasing them with the HST, he also said that he was committed to open, public hearings.
Minister, your own budget says that you're counting on the HST to add $3 billion in net revenue to your coffers. So, once again, you say one thing during the campaign and you do the opposite once in office.
I ask the minister: Do you lack credibility or are you simply not good to rely upon to keep your promises?
This tax package will cut taxes overall for 93% of Ontarians. It will create some 600,000 net new jobs. This is the right policy for Ontario. It's about our future. It's about more jobs for our children and grandchildren. It's the right package for the times.
Minister, this is the largest sales tax grab in the history of our province, and all you want to do is hold a few hours of public hearings at Queen's Park.
Minister, you have six months before you start to scoop this money out of the pockets of Ontario families and retirees. Why don't you set aside your time allocation, don't ram this bill through, and have open, free, public, province-wide hearings in Brantford, in North Bay, in Cornwall, in Sarnia? Why won't you face the taxpayers who are going to foot the bill?
Let's look at the Conservative record-
We have had more than 30 hours of debate in this House-
In order to protest the lack of hearings, they walked away from an hour of question period.
We will have adequate public hearings. We've had 33 hours of debate. This issue is well understood. We're moving forward with the-
They are bringing forward and ramming through the House the biggest sales tax increase in the history of our province.
Minister, Ontario families know that your new HST will mean it'll cost more to put gas in their car, it'll cost them more to heat their home, it'll cost them more for natural gas for their appliances.
Minister, if this is such a good idea, can you name three products where we'll see prices actually come down under your HST tax grab?
The member can talk all he wants, and he can ignore all of the information that has been provided. This tax cut will benefit 93% of Ontarians with a reduction overall in their taxes, it will create 600,000 net new jobs, it will increase the amount of net new capital in the province, and it will raise disposable incomes.
We recognize that this is a complex piece of public policy. We will continue, as my colleague the Minister of Revenue and others have done, to help educate people to understand it. But overall, this tax cut package will create jobs, improve investment and improve disposable-
I will ask the minister one more time: If it is such a good idea to increase the sales tax for Ontario families, can you name me three products where you'll see the prices actually come down when you put this tax grab into place?
I'll point out to him that last year Mr. Hudak called Jack Mintz as his expert witness to the finance committee's hearings, and he asked him, "If there's one thing you could do, one thing at all, to improve the economy, what would it be?" Mr. Mintz said he would harmonize the sales tax. Mr. Mintz also points out that prices will come down for all consumers, as do the C.D. Howe Institute and the TD Bank. This is the right policy. It's about creating jobs in Ontario, it's about improving incomes, improving investments, and it's the right policy for those 600,000 new jobs. We're moving forward because we see a brighter future for Ontario because of this policy.
Minister, I don't think Ontario families are going to believe a word of your story, and for good reason. Despite promising no new tax increases, Dalton McGuinty has put personal income taxes up with his big health tax grab. Businesses' taxes under Dalton McGuinty are up; small business taxes are up; land transfer taxes in the city of Toronto are up; alcohol taxes under Dalton McGuinty are up; and jobs are down. They make all kinds of promises, but why in the world would Ontario families, who foot the bill, believe you for one second?
Here's what Mr. Sterling, the member for Carlton-Mississippi Mills, said-it's in Hansard: "The Ontario government should harmonize its provincial sales tax with the federal goods and services tax."
Here's what Peter Shurman, the member for Thornhill, said: "I am not saying that harmonization ultimately is a bad idea." That's what Mr. Flaherty said in his budget of 2008.
Here's what Bob Runciman, the member for Leeds-Grenville, said: "I think, in theory, our party is supportive of harmonization ... it's something we think should occur."
One party in this House has been consistent: the Ontario Liberal Party. One party has a plan for future-
How does the Acting Premier explain this particular turn of events?
I recognize it's a difficult choice for all members and I recognize the importance of full debate. This is the first time tax measures have been debated in both the federal House and the Ontario House, which is another indication of the amount of public hearings this has. I understand that the Harper government has brought forward a notice of ways and means to amend the Excise Tax Act. I understand that it will come to a vote this week and I look forward to its passage by the federal House.
I also agree with the NDP's Fair Tax Commission, which recommended the harmonization of Ontario's HST and GST. These times call for a substantive plan to help create jobs, to raise incomes and to raise the level of capital investment.
This a question to the Acting Premier as well. People across Ontario feel blindsided by a Premier who is hitting them with the exact tax scheme that they used to rail against.
New Democrats have a simple message to all MPs in Ottawa this week: Represent your constituents and reject this unfair tax scheme. I'm proud to say New Democrat MPs will be doing that. I'm sure a number of Liberal and Conservative MPs want to, as well. They see that the Premier of Ontario is ignoring the people of this province. How can this government ask parliamentarians to support a tax scheme that they themselves rejected just last year?
Overall, this $3.4-billion package of tax cuts will create jobs, it will improve investment, and it will provide a brighter future for all Ontarians, their children and grandchildren. It's the right plan for the times and it's the right plan that we will continue to advocate on behalf of.
My question is a very simple one: Has the Acting Premier and his government suddenly had a Conservative epiphany?
This is the right plan. The member opposite is right. It will create 600,000 new jobs. It will improve capital investment. Just two weeks ago, General Electric in Peterborough announced a major new investment. It's about jobs and it's about a brighter future. That's why we've put forward this plan, that's why we will pass it this week and that's why we-
Does this Acting Premier really believe this stuff or are his new friendships in Ottawa just a relationship of convenience?
It is a difficult choice. It does require that we help people understand the importance of it. We acknowledge that. It will create jobs; it will lower taxes; it will help low-income Ontarians. That's why we will continue to pursue it. That's why we'll continue to build a better future for Ontarians. That's why we'll help them understand the complexity of it.
Let me reinforce that taxes are being cut overall. First of all, the new HST is not being applied on the condo fee. This is about 600,000 new jobs, more capital investment, more jobs. It's about all of us working together for a better future for Ontario and tax cuts that will come into effect on January 1. I'm not going to let her and her party block that.
Deputy Premier, will you show some guts and hold public hearings on your HST, $3-billion tax grab?
I will look Ontario seniors in the eye and say that, in fact, on January 1 your income taxes will be cut, unless that member and her party block it this week. So we're not going to let them do that. The property tax credit for Ontario seniors will be doubled, unless that member and her party try to block it in the House today.
It is a difficult issue. We are doing our best to help people see all sides of it, to see the entire package. We will continue to do that. We are having public-
If the HST is so good for job creation, why didn't the Atlantic provinces see a spike in jobs after the HST was implemented there?
It is important that we do everything in our power to create jobs: All of the experts tell us 600,000. It will improve incomes and improve capital investment. We saw that in Peterborough just two weeks ago, with GE making a very substantial investment, in part as a result of our package. We will continue to work with Ontarians as we move to implementation for what is the best policy that any government can bring forward to help improve this economy in the coming years and months.
How can the Premier and the finance minister believe Jack Mintz's forecast when the evidence clearly shows that workers saw little benefit from the HST in those three provinces?
I stand with Hugh Mackenzie, I stand with those who see the importance of helping to rebuild this economy with the comprehensive package of tax reforms that will create jobs, lower taxes for 93% of Ontarians and help build a better future for all.
I know I speak for many of my constituents and Ontarians when I say that the health and welfare of the animals in the Toronto Humane Society is a very important issue. Minister, can you please shed some light on these recent events?
Also, the Ontario Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals operates independently of the government and we are not involved in the day-to-day operations. Most importantly, the well-being of animals is the paramount concern under the Ontario Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act. The society is authorized to enforce any law in Ontario pertaining to the welfare of animals. Also, under the legislation the OSPCA has a number of options to require that proper standards of care are met in any situation.
For most Ontarians, animals are more than just pets; they're members of our families. That's why many of us are strong advocates of strengthening and updating the OSPCA legislation, so that those who mistreat animals are held accountable for their actions and so that those who enforce animal welfare laws have the legislative framework through which to best protect animals. Can the minister inform the House how the new provincial animal welfare legislation just passed in this House strengthens the OSPCA Act and how this better protects our beloved pets and animals?
I would say to municipalities, for example, in other provinces where there is a harmonized sales tax, the amount of the rebate is either 0% or 50%. Here in Ontario, it will be some 78%, because according to StatsCan and the information that we've been given, that is what's required to ensure that there is neither an upload nor a download on our municipal partners. This same principle applies, for example, to school boards, where it will be at 93%, and to hospitals at 87%. All of these things have been designed to ensure that this is revenue-neutral to them.
A hundred and thirty other countries around the world and four of our sister provinces have decided that they need to modernize their tax systems.
What will happen in Ontario, of course, is we're ensuring that our businesses, which are the number one source of new jobs, are actually able to compete on the world stage. Here in Ontario, we export some 80% of what we make. It is so important for us to be competitive. I know that when our exporters are not doing well, as a province we can't do well.
As the federal government knows, you can't have a strong Canada and a weak Ontario. That's why we're working together to ensure that we have some 600,000 more jobs in the province of Ontario, more-
NUCLEAR POWER FACILITIES
In the case of a nuclear accident, the federal government is proposing to cap liability for nuclear plant operators at $650 million. Is the McGuinty government satisfied that $650 million is sufficient to compensate two and a half million people should there be an accident at the Pickering plant?
So I just say to the public, we have a lot of experience in this. First and foremost is safety. For many years now, well over half our power has been produced by nuclear-and a terrific safety record. I think the public should feel confident about the future. We have a lot of respect and confidence in the operators of those three plants. They are an integral part of our electrical system, and we're very proud of their safety record.
Frankly, Minister, the reason that nuclear plant operators want to limit liability is because they understand the scale of risk that they would incur if something went wrong.
Is this government prepared to support the NDP in calling for a move on that liability cap to international standards?
One of the telling points to me, as we're looking at new sites, was that both the community in Darlington and the community, I must say, in Grey-Bruce-
You may have a view on it; I may have a view on it. I tend to rely on the experts, and we follow the expert advice.
By the way, I might also say that we have been able to reduce the use of coal dramatically. One of the reasons is we have-
Minister, at a time when we face the most difficult and challenging economic downturn since the Second World War, people understandably have some hesitation about large changes to our tax system. Seniors are concerned about staying in their homes, and parents are concerned about supporting their children.
I know the federal government has signalled its support for the transition to our job-creating tax package with the $4.3 billion they are providing to Ontario.
As the federal government introduces harmonization legislation, will the minister tell us what he is telling them about why this is so important to Ontarians?
I know the personal story of your family. I know the story of your family and the sacrifices they made so that you could find the success you have today representing the good people of Hamilton Mountain. They understood that when times change, people have to change, and that when times change, it's important for governments to understand the nature of that change and to take advantage of that change to build a brighter and prosperous future for their children, something that you are the beneficiary of, as are all of us in this House. It is so important.
As I've gone across Ontario speaking to more than three dozen different groups, they've all agreed that the world has changed, and they are reassured that their government, working in partnership with the federal government, has set aside partisan concerns, ideological concerns, and understands that to have a strong Canada, one must have a strong and vibrant-
Recently, a great Hamilton company named BartonAir Fabrications Inc. won the Small Business Award at the Ontario Business Achievement Awards after being nominated by the Hamilton Chamber of Commerce. The Hamilton Chamber of Commerce is supportive of the HST. In fact, the Ontario Chamber of Commerce website states that our comprehensive tax package will create jobs and make Ontario more competitive.
Will the minister tell us what the effects of the HST are going to be on BartonAir Fabrications and Ontario's manufacturing sector?
You know, manufacturers overall, under our tax reform package, will see over a billion dollars a year, net, of savings to their businesses, allowing them to do three things: it allows them, those that are struggling, of course, to hang on through this recession, and it's so important that they do that; it allows them to purchase new equipment and improve their productivity so that they can be more competitive; and it allows them to hire more people.
We have bright companies in Ontario that have a bright future, but it's important for their government to understand that we are in the 21st century, we are competing around the world, and we need to do those things that are important to ensure that we have a high quality of life. It's exactly that success that will allow us to pay for the public services that we value in this province, our public-
DRIVER EXAMINATION CENTRES
I can empathize with those who are being inconvenienced by this situation, but the best deal is a negotiated settlement. It is one where the parties work together-these are difficult situations-to find common ground at the table. These deals are the most stable, the most productive, the best deals for our province and for labour-
One of the people in the galleries today is Mr. Shafique Malik, and he owns ABM Driving School, which has six locations in the GTA. He employs 40 driving instructors and he told me a few minutes ago that they've had to max out their lines of credit and credit cards just to feed their families and pay their mortgages. ABM Driving School and hundreds of others will be out of business if you don't solve this strike immediately.
Why are you sitting on your duffs? Why don't you care? You need the jobs. These people need to go to work, they need to feed their families. Why won't you end this strike immediately?
What I can say is that this government respects the collective bargaining process. Over 97% of all labour relations are done without any work stoppage in this province. That is an excellent record. We have some of the best-
How can this government allow Nortel to shove bonus money out the door to its top executives while at the same time sticking it to its loyal workers?
I'm not certain that Ontario, even if it wanted to, could intervene to prevent that; however, I think she raises a very valid issue.
Why does this government stand on the sidelines and do nothing while Nortel shovels money out the door to its senior executives, and its workers get a 30% cut in their hard-earned pensions?
We'll continue to work with these employees who are affected. We will also be working with others in the hopes, sir, that we can minimize any challenges associated with the circumstances that those pensioners find themselves in.
Last Thursday, there were questions raised in this House about two highway contract awards. The circumstances described in these questions did not sound to me like the way we do business in Peterborough. Would the Minister of Transportation be able to share with this House the facts surrounding the awarding of these contracts, beginning with the Highway 402 work?
We are pleased to see this highway improvement project moving forward in the riding of Sarnia-Lambton. It's an important project that is generating 540 jobs at a time when they are most needed, as I'm sure the member for Sarnia-Lambton agrees. I think it's important to get these matters brought to the House in an accurate fashion and to see that we have a transparent form of awarding contracts.
In the case of transportation infrastructure, we're also investing in our own economic future by building public transit, highways and bridges. I recognize that these improvements will make it easier to do business in Ontario and help more goods and people move efficiently. These investments put people back to work. Altogether, the infrastructure program is generating 50,000 jobs over two years. One of these investments in infrastructure improvement work currently is Highway 417 to Arnprior. This is also the second contract that was questioned last week in the House. I'm asking the Minister of Transportation: Share with this House the facts on this contract.
I would like to thank the member for giving me the opportunity to clarify the facts before the House and to point out once again that we have an open, transparent and fair way of awarding contracts.
As both my constituent's kidneys have been removed, she obtains dialysis in Kitchener after taking the public bus three times a week, her husband being unable to drive her as he works full-time to support them.
Can the minister explain how this government could deny my constituent coverage for a chemotherapy drug that for three years has been improving her quality of life, especially now that you have finally relented on the drug Avastin?
In the case of the constituent, I think it's important to acknowledge that our coverage is not a political decision; it is not the politicians who decide what drugs are covered, nor should it be. We have set up an independent committee to evaluate drugs. It is that committee that was able to negotiate a better price that has allowed us to expand coverage of Avastin. That Committee to Evaluate Drugs-
We take our responsibility to patients very seriously. We also take our responsibility to taxpayers very seriously. The Committee to Evaluate Drugs has been charged with the very difficult responsibility of finding the balance between doing everything we can for patients while at the same time respecting the fact that these are drugs that are covered by taxpayers. Finding that right balance is their responsibility. It is not my responsibility to make those very difficult clinical decisions. Frankly, I don't have that background and, with respect, neither does the member opposite.
So Eric Boucher, Tammy Dimatteo, Nancy Carrière, Celyne Sulston-all health care professionals from my riding-want to know, why is this government taking health care out of reach for Ontarians?
I'm proud of our record in reducing wait times. I'm proud of our record of investments in new health care initiatives. I'm proud of our initiatives in some of the capital investments we've made to help rebuild our health care sector.
I will say this: The tax cut package we're bringing forward will help low-income Ontarians. I wish that member and her party would support it and not try to block the passage of it. The doubling of the seniors' property tax credit: another important tax break for seniors. I wish you wouldn't vote against that.
We are determined to make this economy create more jobs, to raise incomes and-
My question is simple: Will the government exempt professional services by health care practitioners from the HST?
I wish she could see the benefit in the Ontario child benefit, which will help families of very modest means access more medicines and access better food for their children-all important health determinants. Why would you vote against that? Why would you vote against cutting taxes for seniors? Why would you vote against doubling the seniors' property-
NOTICES OF DISSATISFACTION
Pursuant to standing order 38(a), the member for Cambridge has given notice of his dissatisfaction with the answer to his question by the Minister of Health. This matter will be debated at 6 p.m. tomorrow.
There being no deferred votes, this House stands recessed until 1 p.m.
The House recessed from 1140 to 1300.
NOTICE OF DISSATISFACTION
INTRODUCTION OF VISITORS
I have the distinct pleasure also to introduce to you and to the House the six-member delegation from our sister organization in the People's Republic of China, Jiangsu Province. They're here and they are being led by Mr. Jin Xiangping, Mr. Zhu Laigen, Mr. Geng Zhong, Mr. Wang Fei, Ms. Yao Fenghua and Ms. Chen Huaying. Congratulations and welcome to the Legislature.
Born in Wainfleet, and a graduate of Dunnville Secondary School and Ridley College, Marshall earned his medical degree in 1962 at the University of Toronto and his law degree from Osgoode Hall in 1970. He wrote books, painted, farmed and raised Belted Galloway cattle, and chickens and horses.
Marshall earned his pilot's licence, learned diesel mechanics, dabbled in politics and became an honorary chief of Six Nations. While many travel the world, Marshall's journey saw him serve as a missionary doctor in South America, a Supreme Court justice in the Northwest Territories and the Yukon, as well as a doctor for the Northern Command at Yellowknife between 1982 and 1992.
Most recently he was appointed the colonel commandant of the medical branch of the Canadian Armed Forces.
Dr. Marshall is survived by his wife, Jill; children, Jill, Julie, Albert, Tom and David; plus 10 grandchildren. Our thoughts are with them.
While leading Sheridan College, he spearheaded 35 new programs and moved Sheridan to a degree-granting institution. When Dr. Turner arrived at Sheridan, the college had one site, the Oakville campus, with courses in animation, business and applied health sciences. In the past nine years, Sheridan has grown to three sites. The addition of the Davis campus in Brampton has added over 7,000 students enrolled in the Centre for Advanced Manufacturing and Design Technologies, and with the investment of over $31 million by this government, Sheridan Mississauga will soon be a reality, delivering a range of business programs to 1,700 full-time and 7,500 part-time students in a new instructional and laboratory complex. During Dr. Turner's tenure with Sheridan, 52,000 students have graduated into the workforce.
While well deserved, retirement won't come easy to Dr. Turner, who's either worked as a vice-president or a president since his mid-20s. Both he and his wife, Judy, are looking forward to retiring and taking some time to smell the flowers in their home in Victoria, BC.
I know all members of this House will join me in thanking Dr. Turner for the value he added to the education of young people in our province over the last nine years and wish him well in his retirement.
As you may know, the Ontario Agri Business Association is celebrating 10 years of service to the crop input, grain and animal feed industry. This sector provides essential products and services valued at over $5 billion to Ontario's 57,000 farmers.
The crop input, grain and feed industry plays a key role in the delivery of nutritious and safe food to Ontarians every day. During their visit to Queen's Park today, the association representatives have brought a reusable grocery bag filled with a sampling of made-in-Ontario food and consumer products that demonstrates the diversity and innovation of Ontario's agriculture, agri-business and food processing.
In many rural communities across this province, the local agri-business often serves as a focal point for the economy, economic activity and employment. Agri-business is an integral part of Ontario's rural infrastructure, our rural economy and our rural communities.
The crop input, grain and feed industry serves as the employer for over 8,000 Ontarians, with an annual payroll of more than $275 million. I want to thank all the agri-business representatives for coming to Queen's Park to update us on the state of their industry and share the concerns of their farms operating in rural communities across Ontario.
I hope that all the members in this Legislature will take time to visit their reception this evening in committee rooms 228 and 230 to learn more about Ontario's crop input, grain and feed industry.
Thank you very much for allowing me to present this statement on their behalf.
PAN AM GAMES
Hosting these games creates new and improved athletic facilities that help our communities engage in healthier active living. What's more, the games are expected to inject billions into Ontario's economy and create about 15,000 jobs.
There's another benefit to these games that I'd like to highlight. To house the 10,000 athletes and officials who will come to compete at the games, a new housing development will be built in Toronto's west Donlands. One of the great things about this housing development is that after the games, these units will be turned over as affordable housing units for Ontarians, to benefit Ontario long after the games are gone.
This is an important part of the legacy of the 2015 Pan Am Games. It's an important legacy to the affordable housing needs of Ontario. It will showcase our athletes and region to the world but ultimately it will help to improve our communities here in Toronto and support Ontarians with new affordable housing units.
The people of Bruce-Grey-Owen Sound elected me to represent them. I serve them, I listen to them and I represent them. Sadly, many members across the aisle have chosen to serve the Premier rather than serve their constituents. He does not deserve that kind of support.
Our caucus believes that the families who will be forced to pay the Dalton McGuinty HST should be allowed to have their say before the tax is passed. Public hearings: It is a simple idea, but not for this Premier. This Premier chooses to hide. This Premier chooses to deny the public any opportunity to have their say.
Dalton McGuinty once promised he would not raise taxes. He told Ontario families he would stay out of their pockets. We know how that ended up: First, higher income taxes, and now, higher sales tax as well.
Dalton McGuinty once said he believed in public hearings. Now he's shutting them down. Where I come from, we call that a cop-out. Where I come from, Dalton McGuinty is a liar.
The House recessed from 1310 to 1328.
With that, I will continue to ignore the member and we will continue with the business of the House.
Members' statements? The member for York-South Weston.
The House recessed from 1330 to 1345.
I would remind other members that upon being called to order and upon being named, those members being named and refusing to leave will also be suspended for the remainder of the session.
I call the members to order, please.
We will continue with members' statements. The member from York South-Weston.
So far, over 2.5 million Ontarians have already received the shot, and our government continues to work with our dedicated health care partners to ensure that every Ontarian who wants the vaccine can get it. The vaccine is now available for the general public. Everyone from infants aged six months and older to Ontario seniors can get the shot.
Worldwide studies have shown that the vaccine is safe and effective. Ontario's chief medical officer of health has said it is the best defence Ontarians have against the H1N1 flu virus.
What's more, our government has committed the necessary resources to make sure Ontarians can get the shot. The vaccine can be obtained in over 100 public health units and in over 4,200 physicians' offices across Ontario.
Getting the vaccine is a much safer way to develop immunity without having to suffer from the effects of developing H1N1 flu. Everyone is therefore encouraged to get in line for the shot.
While these are significant accomplishments, the anti-aging society is encouraging our government to focus on three fields of research and innovation: (1) biomedical breakthroughs, (2) lifestyle changes, and (3) mind and body connections.
Modern biomedical science now treats aging as a disease which leads to a breakdown of various parts of the body. Aging symptoms can be reversed by increasing human growth hormone levels. More research is needed.
The American Cancer Society is saying that a third of all cancers could be prevented through exercise, diet and weight management. We need additional educational programs to convince our citizens.
The anti-aging society thinks human beings' needs are also not only physical, biochemical and nutritional but social and spiritual. If we neglect our social and spiritual needs, we harm the physical organism. By changing our thinking from thoughts of revenge, jealousy or hate to thoughts of generosity, forgiveness or love, we demonstrate real changes in the biochemistry of our bodies.
I want to thank Dr. Tam for his trailblazing Another Path to Healing. Congratulations to him and Women's College Hospital, which is trying to integrate this new healing method in its present patient care for more efficient and long-lasting recovery. Congratulations to Dr. Tam.
I just want to remind the members that if subsequent interjections are going to continue, I'm going to be dealing with one member at a time and will be asking you to come to order. I will give you a warning if you refuse to come to order. I will then be forced to begin naming members.
As many in this Legislature already know, dairy is Ontario's largest agricultural sector. Ontario's dairy industry produces more than 2.5 billion litres of milk each year on the over 4,000 dairy farms across Ontario and employs thousands of Ontarians.
During the recent global economic crisis, when many of Ontario's businesses were impacted, the stability on dairy and poultry farms that existed during this time is a testament to the effectiveness of Ontario's supply management systems and to the good work of Ontario's dairy farmers.
Currently, Dairy Farmers of Ontario's members are producing an on-farm value of more than $1.6 billion.
Ontario's dairy farmers have been able to keep supplying high-quality, healthy local food to Ontario consumers while making all their returns from the marketplace and not having to rely on the taxpayer.
By working closely with the processing sector, Ontario dairy farmers are able to meet the needs of the domestic market while, at the same time, pursuing opportunities on the world market.
I would like to thank the dairy farmers for their contributions to our great province.
This is a final warning to all members of the House. Anyone banging on their desks will be named and I'll be asking the Sergeant-at-Arms to escort them from the chamber for the remainder of the day.
I've been forced to name Randy Hillier, the member from Lanark-Frontenac-Lennox and Addington, and ask that he please leave the chamber.
I do name, under standing order 15(c), Randy Hillier, the member for Lanark-Frontenac-Lennox and Addington. I again remind the member that the definition is "until the end of the session."
REPORTS BY COMMITTEES
STANDING COMMITTEE ON
FINANCE AND ECONOMIC AFFAIRS
Bill 212, An Act to promote good government by amending or repealing certain Acts and by enacting two new Acts / Projet de loi 212, Loi visant à promouvoir une saine gestion publique en modifiant ou en abrogeant certaines lois et en édictant deux nouvelles lois.
All those in favour will say "aye."
All those opposed will say "nay."
In my opinion, the ayes have it.
Call in the members. This will be a five-minute bell.
The division bells rang from 1358 to 1403.
All those in favour will say "aye."
All those opposed will say "nay."
In my opinion, the ayes have it.
Call in the members. This will be a five-minute bell.
The division bells rang from 1407 to 1412.
Motion agreed to.
"Whereas Canadians of Hispanic origin have made outstanding contributions in the"-
Continue with petitions.
The House recessed from 1417 to 1435.
BUSINESS OF THE HOUSE
I'd like to remind the members that there is a distinct difference between the situation presenting itself today and the one that Speaker McLean dealt with on December 6, 1995. Then, the House was in the middle of a vote. Under the rules of the day, members were required to vote. The Speaker, in that situation, could not proceed with the business of the House until the completion of the vote. The vote could not be completed until the members present all voted.
Today there is nothing in the standing orders that stands in the way of the business of the House continuing.
ORDERS OF THE DAY
That the Standing Committee on Finance and Economic Affairs be authorized to meet on Thursday, December 3, 2009, during its regular meeting times for the purpose of public hearings on the bill and following routine proceedings on Monday, December 7, 2009, for clause-by-clause consideration of the bill; and
That the deadline for filing amendments to the bill with the clerk of the committee shall be 12 noon on Friday, December 4, 2009. At 5 p.m. on Monday, December 7, 2009, those amendments which have not yet been moved shall be deemed to have been moved, and the Chair of the committee shall interrupt the proceedings and shall, without further debate or amendment, put every question necessary to dispose of all remaining sections of the bill and any amendments thereto. The committee shall be authorized to meet beyond the normal hour of adjournment until completion of clause-by-clause consideration. Any division required shall be deferred until all remaining questions have been put and taken in succession, with one 20-minute waiting period allowed pursuant to standing order 129(a); and
That the committee shall report the bill to the House no later than Tuesday, December 8, 2009. In the event that the committee fails to report the bill on that day, the bill shall be deemed to be passed by the committee and shall be deemed to be reported to and received by the House; and
That, upon receiving the report of the Standing Committee on Finance and Economic Affairs, the Speaker shall put the question for adoption of the report forthwith, and at such time the bill shall be ordered for third reading; and
That, when the order for third reading of the bill is called, one hour shall be allotted to the third reading stage of the bill, apportioned equally among the recognized parties. At the end of this time, the Speaker shall interrupt the proceedings and shall put every question necessary to dispose of this stage of the bill without further debate or amendment; and
That there shall be no deferral of the second reading or third reading votes allowed pursuant to standing order 28(h); and
That, in the case of any division relating to any proceedings on the bill, the division bell shall be limited to five minutes.
Further debate? The Minister of Aboriginal Affairs.
It's very important that we move ahead with this legislation-591,000 jobs, according to Jack Mintz and a third party report that was commissioned by the government, but commissioned in a way that was put out to allow for others to bid on this particular piece of work. What this report said is that it's going to create 591,000 jobs.
We're not just talking about placing the HST on some products. We're talking about very, very significant tax cuts-tax cuts that will ensure that 93,000 people in this province will indeed benefit, that 93,000 people will see a reduction in their income taxes. The vast majority of Ontarians are going to benefit substantially from this particular approach.
The HST is something that this province needs if we're going to be competitive. That's what our goal is. If there's anything that's important for us to do here in this Legislature, it's to ensure that we're building a stronger province for that next generation of Ontarians, a stronger province so that my kids, who happen to be 14 years old and 15 years old-actually, 13 years old and 14 years old; they'll be turning 14 and 15 when this legislation, with the will of the House, is passed and moves forward. Its their future that we're here to support. It's their future that we're here to build. Their future is why this government is certainly taking the political risk of moving forward boldly on an initiative that is complex, but an initiative that's going to serve that next generation, those young people, very, very well.
I'm thinking of my kids today. It's obvious the opposition, as they play political games with this legislation, as they pretend that they're opposed to this bill when no more than six months ago their leader stood up and said that this is exactly what we should be doing-he knows, in good conscience, as he knew back then, that this is something the province simply has to do.
If we're going to be competitive as a jurisdiction, if we're going to ensure that my kids-like I said, Kennedy and Jordan are 13 and 14. I want to do everything that I can to ensure that my kids have the same opportunities that your kids have, Mr. Speaker, that the Attorney General's kids have, that the kids of my good friends behind me have, that my good friend Mario's grandkids are going to have, that my friend Mike Colle's kids and grandkids are going to have, and my good friend Dave Levac, the member from-
It's not easy. We recognize it's not easy. We recognize it's a tough decision. But, look, when my kids look me in the eyes 10 years from now, when the kids of my colleagues on this side of the House look them in the eyes 10 years from now, or their grandkids, and they say, "When we were going through the toughest time that we've gone through in 80 years"-and that's what we're experiencing right now; Ontario families are hurting from this recession. There has been a loss of jobs, and that's why it's incumbent on us, as leaders in this province, to do everything we possibly can to ensure that when our kids look to us 10 years from now, look us in the eyes and say, "Did you do everything in your power when you had the opportunity to act? Did you do everything you could to protect us, to ensure that we inherited an economy that's going to provide us with at least the same opportunities that you had when you were going off to make your way in the world? Did you do that?"-I want to be able to look them in the eyes and say, "Yes, Kennedy, yes, Jordan, when I was in a position where I had an opportunity to make a decision, I did what I had to do, my party did what it had to do, the Premier did what he had to do-
The House recessed from 1448 to 1503.
First of all, we, as members, have privilege, which is well defined within our standing orders and also within the precedents to say that members have the ability to come into this House and to have an opportunity to debate the bills that are before the House, and to represent our constituents.
The second point is that we also have, under the standing orders and, again, under our precedents, the freedom of speech-again, to the same point.
It is fairly clear, as a result of what's happening in the House right now, that the members of the third party are not going to get an opportunity to speak on this bill. We don't like Bill 218; if we had our way, we would scrap it. But that's not the point of this point of order. My point is, I have a right, as do all members of the New Democratic Party, to rise and speak on this bill. This House is in such disorder, it's going to become impossible for us to be able to speak to this bill.
Under section 16 of the standing orders, "In the case of grave disorder in the House, the Speaker or the Chair may adjourn the House or a committee without motion, or suspend any meeting for a time to be named by him or her."
My last point is this: By your doing so to adjourn the House for the rest of today, it would give us, the House leaders, the opportunity to sit down with the government and try to find a way amongst the House leaders to resolve this issue so that at the end we're able to do what needs to be done in this Legislature on behalf of all the constituents we represent.
I am, right now, very prepared to recess the House and ask, if needed, all three House leaders to come and join me in the side office to have a discussion, to see if there is some compromise to move forward. If you do not want the Speaker and the Clerk there, I'm quite happy, but I would encourage the House leaders to use this opportunity to get together.
The House recessed from 1508 to 1626.
FOR FOREIGN NATIONALS ACT
AND OTHERS), 2009 /
LOI DE 2009 SUR
LA PROTECTION DES ÉTRANGERS
DANS LE CADRE DE L'EMPLOI
(AIDES FAMILIAUX ET AUTRES)
Resuming the debate adjourned on November 17, 2009, on the motion for second reading of Bill 210, An Act to protect foreign nationals employed as live-in caregivers and in other prescribed employment and to amend the Employment Standards Act, 2000 / Projet de loi 210, Loi visant à protéger les étrangers employés comme aides familiaux et dans d'autres emplois prescrits et modifiant la Loi de 2000 sur les normes d'emploi.
On October 26, Mr. Fonseca moved second reading of Bill 210, An Act to protect foreign nationals employed as live-in caregivers and in other prescribed employment and to amend the Employment Standards Act, 2000.
Is it the pleasure of the House that the motion carry? Carried.
Second reading agreed to.
Resuming the debate adjourned on November 26, 2009, on the motion for time allocation of Bill 175, An Act to enhance labour mobility between Ontario and other Canadian provinces and territories.
This is a bill that has serious implications-I will speak to it in a few minutes-and all we are going to get is this time allocation motion that I'm speaking to. On Thursday, we're going to have hearings, meaning very few people have been alerted to the fact that there are going to be hearings for one simple afternoon and it's gone; it's out of sight and no longer debated, and no one will be the wiser. No one has heard about this bill, no one is talking about this bill, it's not in the media and as far as this government is concerned, they're happy about that state of blissful ignorance by the public and by politicians as well. I dare say that the majority of Liberals don't have a clue what this bill implies. They don't have a clue. They haven't read it, will never read it and are happy to be told by their minister, "This is just about labour mobility. Not to worry, there are no other implications. Let's move on."
I have never seen anything like it. I have never seen a government operate in such a manner where we don't get adequate time for hearings.
When Liberals were in opposition, they sounded like New Democrats. They used to attack Mike Harris, as we did, on so many different bills that they would just rush through that place for one afternoon, one day, two days, and they were gone. And you're doing exactly the same with this bill. With this bill, you are doing the very things you decried when you were in opposition. How can you feel good about that? How can Liberals in general feel good about that, and how can left-leaning Liberals feel good about that?
I keep asking, "Where is the left in the Liberal Party?" They must be hiding so tightly under that carpet that they're invisible, creeping under the carpet like slithering serpents. That's what has happened. Because how could you accept this if you were good left-leaning Liberals? How could you not demand in your own caucus that there be adequate hearings and that people be adequately informed about these hearings?
We're debating a closure motion on this bill today, and by Thursday we'll have deputations-three days, Mike. And we say-
We have had two major agreements: the trade, investment and labour mobility agreement, called TILMA, between Alberta and British Columbia-and that was done lickety-split as well. That trade agreement is not just about labour mobility. It's about investments; it's about trade. It's about making sure that investors have the right to challenge regulations they disagree with.
The agreement is that I only have 20 minutes to speak-is that it?
Here's what it says in the Alberta-BC agreement: "Each party shall ensure that its measures do not operate to restrict or impair trade between or through the territory of the parties, or investment or labour mobility between the parties."
This isn't just about labour mobility. It is ostensibly about labour mobility, but it's really about investments; it's about trade. It's about making sure that the corporations have the power to go where they want, free of any obstacles. That's what this is about. It's not about labour mobility.
People have labour mobility in this country, and the federal government has the power constitutionally to be able to make sure that people are able to move from one province to the other to do what they want to do. It's not about that. The Liberals claim it's about that, because that's all they've been told to say, but it's about trade and it's about investments. And I've got to tell you, the civil servants know that this is what it's about. They know it's about trade over social issues. They know that it's about trade liberalization.
That's why I wanted to be able to have a long opportunity to discuss this-because we need to know that Ontario signed an agreement with Quebec a couple of months ago, called the Ontario-Quebec trade and cooperation agreement. Here's what it says about that: "Each party shall ensure that any measure it adopts or maintains does not operate to create an obstacle to trade, investment and labour mobility between the parties."
It's not just about labour mobility. It's about trade; it's about investments. What that means is that business wants to be able to operate between provinces and to have few restrictions apply to them. That's what this bill is about.
The worst of it is that Ontarians have a right to discuss and debate agreements, and should have the power to be able to change, to modify any of those agreements, based on what they feel strongly about, based on the fact that they might feel that those trade agreements impair their ability to manage their own affairs in Ontario.
These agreements should not have been signed behind closed doors. McGuinty and Monsieur Charest signed an agreement behind closed doors-Jeff, from Peterborough-behind closed doors. How could you accept that and how could you so blindly accept an agreement that you haven't read? I'm assuming that McGuinty told you it's a good agreement. I'm assuming that he must have told you that in a caucus room. But how could you not have had and wished for an opportunity to debate the bill? How could you do that? A fine lot we have of these fine Liberals and left-leaning so-called Liberals in that caucus. Two agreements-Alberta, Quebec and Ontario. The Premiers get together, they sign agreements and it's done. The Speaker doesn't have a clue. The clerks have probably read the bill, because they need to give advice to the Speaker. I haven't had an opportunity to read that bill, most MPPs haven't had an opportunity to read that bill, but it's an agreement that has been signed by two Premiers. And we accept it. How do we do that?
This is the problem that I have with these kinds of bills, because it pretends to be about cross-border business, it pretends to be about labour mobility, but it has to do with trade. If there's a water ban at city hall here that could operate as an obstacle for Quebec-based bottled water companies looking to sell their product, it could be challenged by Quebec. It could be challenged by those corporations. The Quebec government could say, "Sorry, Toronto; you can't say no." You can't say you've got a ban on bottled water, because Quebec says, "We've got a big bottled water company that we want to sell water all over Ontario, to all those municipalities, and we challenge the city of Toronto to be able to do that."
That's what this agreement does. That's why we need to be able to debate these bills, and that's why I wanted to condemn the action of the Liberal Party in doing what it has done, moving closure on debate and moving directly to hearings on Thursday afternoon.
This particular bill is going to hurt not just labour but every other profession that's affected by it. This particular bill pretends that it's just about getting people to move from one province to another and be able to get a job in same field, and it pretends that we are all trained in a similar fashion from one province to the other.
We have the constitutional power as a province to set our own rules, regulations and standards, and what this Premier is doing through this bill is saying that if somebody is coming from Alberta, where they have been trained in some private institution and the regulations are not what they should be, they should, with some modicum of experience, be able to come here and say, "Yes, I need to get that job. Yes, I'm able to do that job," and we don't need to worry about standards because all that matters is that they have some semblance of skills in that particular trade or profession and they can get into the profession or trade here; no problemo.
It puts a tremendous burden on the province that has the higher standard to prove that the person who is coming to our province can do the job, and the problem is, we don't know what standards any other province has. We don't even know in our own province what standards we have, as evidenced by the private colleges that just give out credentials to people as if they were giving them out as candies. Imagine. The Ombudsman has pointed out, over and over again, the little oversight we have over private colleges and the credentials they give out, and now we're about to say to someone from some other province who gets credentials in their trade and/or profession by some private or public institution where the standards are not very good or very high, that they can come and get a job and it's up to us as the province with the higher standard to be able to show that maybe they shouldn't get that job. But even then, the language is very clear about what we can and can't do, and I want to get to it quickly.
Section 9 obliges regulatory authorities to recognize and give effect to authorizing certificates issued in other Canadian jurisdictions-this is the central and most important element of this bill-and provides in part as follows:
"When applicant is certified by out-of-province regulatory authority
"9(1) This section applies if an individual applying to an Ontario regulatory authority for certification in a regulated occupation is already certified in the same occupation by an out-of-province regulatory authority....
"(2) The Ontario regulatory authority shall not require, as a condition of certifying the individual in the regulated occupation, that the individual have, undertake, obtain or undergo any material additional training, experience, examinations or assessments."
They do not have to go through additional training, experience, examination or assessment, and that's what this is about.
Other measures here:
"Every Ontario regulatory authority shall, to the extent possible and where practical....
"(b) take steps to reconcile differences between the occupational standards it has established for an occupation and occupational standards in effect with respect to the same occupation in the other provinces and territories of Canada that are parties to the agreement on internal trade."
"Take steps to reconcile differences": The intent of the bill, where there are differences, is that the government has to take steps to reconcile the differences between the occupational standards. It doesn't matter whether some province has standards that are not up to par; it is our responsibility as the receiving province with a higher standard to make sure we reconcile the differences, and there's nothing we can or should do that could be construed as preventing that person from getting into that trade and/or profession.
That's what this bill is about. It's about more than just labour mobility-I only mention those examples where there are some exceptions, but the language makes it very clear that what this is about is making sure that anybody can move from one place to the other irrespective of standards because the job of the bill is to make sure we reconcile differences and that we do nothing to prevent someone from getting into that particular job.
But beyond that, the effect of this is to make sure that we break down our provincial constitutional powers that we have to protect what is constitutionally ours, whether it be health, parts of the environment, all of the contracts we give away from municipalities and the provincial government. We give up all those things that we control locally and open it up to whomever.
This is about making sure that as the government negotiates an agreement-the Canada-European Union Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement-as we do those agreements with Europe, we are willing to give up our local procurement strength and policies that we have. It's about eliminating all those protections we have had under NAFTA for a long time. Under NAFTA, provinces have the constitutional power to exclude themselves from trade agreements that are within our jurisdiction.
What this is about is making sure we get rid of those provincial and city powers. It is about making sure we are in agreement with world trade agreements. It's about America, through Obama, urging Canada to sign up to the World Trade Organization agreement on government procurement, which would permanently remove the remaining abilities of local governments to determine how taxpayers spend their money.
I know that some members look inquisitively at me about that, or look as if they're confused and imagine it can't be what I'm talking about, but this is what it is. It is about making sure that we make deals with Europe, and making sure that we break down the trade barriers, that we eliminate our power to control locally what we produce. That is the effect of this bill.
We need debate. We need lots of debate. We need more and more people to know what this is about. We need the Premier of this province to talk to us about the agreement he signed with Quebec. Why has he signed an agreement on his own without any debate? And why are we pushing this bill through in one afternoon with deputants not even knowing we are going to be debating this thing on Thursday, and the amendments have to be in literally by that time so we can do clause-by-clause on Monday next? This is insane. I've never seen anything like it.
I have to tell you that I condemn, in the strongest of terms, what this government has done with this particular bill. Your desire to get it out of sight and out of mind is objectionable and has to be condemned strongly. All I had was a brief amount of time to put this on the record, and it won't do justice to the bill, because we simply don't have enough time to deal with it. But this bill, which eliminates the ability of governments to favour local companies and workers-it's simply one of the most objectionable elements of this bill, and every other bill that has been dealt with in Canada in the last short while, which includes the bills I mentioned. It's all part of the grand strategy of the Agreement on Internal Trade that was passed in 1995. Everything seems to be done on the basis of falling in line with the Agreement on Internal Trade signed by the then federal Liberals in 1995, and all these bills are just falling into line quickly without any debate. Objectionable, I tell you Liberals, and any Liberal who has ever felt left-leaning and can accept this kind of arrangement within their own party should be condemned too.
On November 26, Mr. Milloy moved government notice of motion 163. Is it the pleasure of the House that the motion carry? Carried.
Motion agreed to.
The House recessed from 1648 to 1845.
Evening meeting reported in volume B.
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
PETITIONS / PÉTITIONS
ORDERS OF THE DAY / ORDRE DU JOUR
Employment Protection for Foreign Nationals Act (Live-in Caregivers and Others), 2009, Bill 210, Mr. Fonseca / Loi de 2009 sur la protection des étrangers dans le cadre de l'emploi (aides familiaux et autres), projet de loi 210, M. Fonseca
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