Mr Murray J. Elston (Bruce): I was about to say I had the privilege of attending a meeting in Centralia last night, but it is no privilege when you arrive at a meeting that is designed to raise local interest in the plight of an institution of higher learning which has been shut down by a government which speaks in riddles when it comes to trying to figure out what its real plans are. They talk about training and retraining our young people to be competitive in the new environment, the new economies, and yet the story of Centralia College of Agricultural Technology arises on the spur of the moment.
The people at Centralia are concerned because over 170 students are now left without options for their continuing education. Although the second-year class-to-be will be able to finish up its studies at Centralia, others will be left without institutions. There will be no veterinary lab, because the NDP government has decided to close that facility. There will be no field research for things like white beans and rutabagas, commodities which are essential to the healthy economies of not only Huron county, where the college is located, but also for those in Bruce, for Elgin, for Middlesex, for Oxford, for Lambton and other centres in the ridings of this province.
Mr Bill Murdoch (Grey): Conservation authorities across the province are extremely concerned with the recent reduction in operating funds announced by this government. Coupled with the spending cuts to the conservation land tax rebate program, local authorities have been dealt a deadly blow. Many may no longer be able to pay taxes on their land, leaving wetlands, floodplains, parks and forests unprotected. In some instances, the property may have to be sold. This is indeed strange behaviour from a government which has always maintained that it is committed to our natural resources.
But apart from the severe damage these cuts will do to Ontario's environmentally sensitive land is the harm they will do to our municipalities, which are struggling now to make ends meet. Obviously, if conservation authorities are to survive and to function effectively, the shortfall caused by both cuts, which is estimated by my local people to be well over 30%, will have to be found elsewhere.
The authorities understand the need for reductions in spending, but why should they and their areas' beleaguered taxpayers have to kick in far more than other sectors in the province are being asked to do? This blatant and constant downloading on local councils cannot continue. Municipalities must set their budgets in advance, so there's little room for manoeuvring every time this government unleashes its surprise attacks.
The Treasurer has already indicated clearly that taxes will rise substantially in his next budget. He will ask the people of this province again to bail out his government. How far does he think they will be prepared to carry him when he has taken all they have to give?
Mr Mike Cooper (Kitchener-Wilmot): On April 26, I had the pleasure of hosting the volunteer service awards in my community and presented an outstanding achievement to Chloe Callender. Chloe has dedicated herself to helping integrate visible minorities into the Kitchener-Waterloo community. She was instrumental in implementing a race relations policy at the Roman Catholic separate school board and is active in working against racism. She is an inspiration and role model to many in the multicultural community.
Allen-Bradley Canada Ltd has supported the community with in-house campaigns to raise money, has an employee-run charitable fund, donates furniture and equipment to charities and has made available its cafeteria, meeting room facilities and its ball field for people in the community.
B.D.O. Dunwoody Ward Mallette encourages team members to participate as volunteers with community organizations. Through this participation, B.D.O. Dunwoody is represented in approximately 20 charities and community organizations.
On May 2, I had the honour of presenting 18 Canada 125 medals. One of the recipients was Lois Cressman, who was recognized for her efforts in the community on behalf of seniors, the women's institute and the horticultural society.
Lois was a founding member of the Haysville Sunshine Club for seniors, is a member of the Haysville parks board, is actively involved in church groups, participates in prison ministry and is involved in sorting and packing clothing for relief.
To Lois Cressman, Chloe Callender, B.D.O. Dunwoody Ward Mallette and Allen-Bradley Canada Ltd and all the volunteers in our region, we thank you for your efforts, concern and involvement in your community.
Mr Alvin Curling (Scarborough North): Yesterday the National Transportation Agency released its report The Road to Accessibility: A National Inquiry into Canadian Motorcoach Services. One of the outstanding recommendations is "that the federal government implement a comprehensive national standard to make extraprovincial motorcoach services accessible to people with disabilities."
In a submission to the Road to Accessibility inquiry, the Ontario NDP government promised to explore the issue thoroughly. The Ministry of Transportation directed the Ontario Highway Transport Board to hold hearings on several options for regulating accessibility.
Despite whatever good intentions the government might have, the disabled community views this inquiry as yet another delaying tactic, an excuse for not actually dealing with the problem. This community is tired; they have lobbied for over two decades for the establishment of fully accessible transportation.
The NDP, prior to its rise to power, also advocated on behalf of this community for a policy of fully accessible public transport, acknowledging that this is the only means through which persons with disabilities will have equal access to employment, education and recreational activities.
A pre-election promise of this government indicated that it would require all new intercity buses purchased in Ontario to be fully accessible within three years and that it would work to achieve this goal for interprovincial buses.
To date, this issue, so enthusiastically promised, does not seem to appear on the agenda of either the Minister of Transportation, who is over there yapping, nor the minister responsible for the disabled: another empty promise, but this time to a marginalized and a disadvantaged community.
Mr David Tilson (Dufferin-Peel): Yesterday, it was my pleasure to visit the Macville Public School in Caledon to attend a wonderful assembly on the environment and the one issue that is consuming the children: dumps. The NDP government has short-listed sites that are within miles of the Macville Public School.
Some children have made impassioned pleas at oral presentations to the Interim Waste Authority. One student spoke of how he would not be able to ride his bike because of the number of trucks. He spoke of how the country drives to see the fall colours would stop, because the only colours you would see would be the yellow bulldozers and the green garbage bags.
Another student prepared a poster with seven reasons why they don't want a dump in Caledon. They include odour, traffic, leachate, disease, breathing problems, tourism attraction -- not -- and that friends will move away.
Mr Mike Farnan (Cambridge): I rise today to praise the business development department of Cambridge. With the problems of shrinking job opportunities following the free trade agreement so ineptly manipulated by Canada's federal government, Cambridge might have resigned itself to less growth and fewer job opportunities. However, Cambridge has not accepted the sellout of our great province by the federal Conservatives; it has continued to push for more and better industrial development in our city.
I commend the city of Cambridge Community Profile, a booklet which gives the facts about the city and is distributed to manufacturers and others contemplating a move to the Waterloo region. This booklet notes Cambridge's position within Canada's technology triangle, its skilled workers, its already extensive industrial base, its parks, low crime rate, easy access to major highways, its schools and universities, its health care and its energy facilities. Information about Cambridge has reached potential developers around the world, in the United States, Europe, Japan and China.
What the booklet does not mention, but which is at least as important to potential settlers, is that the business development department of Cambridge is working overtime. In fact, it deserves an A for hustle: hustle to get new jobs into the area and maintain the city. The city of Cambridge has one of the best locations in Canada for new business to set up shop.
Mr Charles Beer (York North): A memorandum was sent from the Ministry of Education on April 20, 1993, to all school boards informing them that within 10 days their photocopying licence with Cancopy would expire and would not be renewed. School boards were also informed at that time that the cost of the licence would now be borne by school boards. This memorandum defies all sense or logic.
The general manager of Cancopy states in a letter to school boards that by not renewing the licence, the system will be more expensive than the old system because of the extra costs that will have to be incurred. This is yet another example of offloading expenses on to each school board, leaving them to look to the local property taxpayer to make up the difference.
Worst of all, after all of this confusion, we not only end up with a more expensive system, but the ministry has asked school boards to adjust to it in 10 short days. The lack of any clear planning that would help school boards deal with this matter is appalling.
Why were school boards not given more time to deal with such a serious matter? At a time when nearly $800 million is being removed from the education sector, why would the minister not provide school boards with more time and guidance to deal effectively with the copying issue?
Many school boards have been placed in a most difficult position. Classroom teaching materials are often copied. According to Cancopy, only 30 school boards have contacted them. This means that any teacher copying copyright materials today is in fact breaking the law. For school boards, the 10 days' notice was a totally insufficient amount of time to deal with the issues.
Mrs Elizabeth Witmer (Waterloo North): I recognize that the government has little choice but to significantly reduce its expenditures in order to maintain limits on the provincial deficit. However, within the priorities which are set to achieve expenditure reductions, the province's children should not be neglected.
In times of grave economic distress such as the present, the coping capacity of families is severely stretched, even more so for vulnerable families. These are the families most likely to be affected by unemployment, poverty and family breakdown.
If, as a community, we are not able to at least maintain the supports families need to fall back on, it is the children of these families who will suffer the most. We have long known that if we do not ensure good care of our children, we are limiting their chances of growing up as healthy, well-adjusted, competent adults.
As the service mandated to provide the most fundamental safety-net care to children in the Waterloo region, our family and children's services is very concerned that, to date, the government has not demonstrated that essential care to the province's children is high on its agenda.
As the government moves to set its 1993 budget, which I know must contain significant expenditure reductions, I ask you to show your support for your youngest constituents by insisting that the deficit not be fought at the expense of the children, particularly those children who require special protection and support through family and children's services.
Mr Gary Wilson (Kingston and The Islands): I've been reminded in the past week about the importance of heritage. We don't think of worker industrial heritage as being fragile, but it is its everyday nature that makes it so vulnerable. Thus, a factory may not seem to have architectural merit; the minutes of meetings of a local union may seem to be too mundane to preserve; the skills and the stories of people in the workplace go unrecorded.
On the Day of Mourning last week, the Kingston and District Labour Council, with the help of the Ontario Heritage Foundation, dedicated a historical plaque to the workers who were killed while building the Rideau Canal. Thanks to the research and work of the labour council, visitors and others enjoying this popular waterway will be reminded that "hazardous working conditions and diseases, such as malaria, exacted a heavy toll" of the workers "whose labour and lives gave us the Rideau Canal."
The other reminder was a feature article in last Saturday's Globe and Mail on "The Last Days of Local 303." The story and photographs were by Gayle Hurmuses, a member of the CAW local at the Scarborough van plant. The workers at the plant are chronicling the history of their workplace and the final chapter is a record of the last days at work there, as 2,800 men and women lose their jobs this month when the plant closes for ever.
What's striking about Ms Hurmuses's pictures of the workers is the way she has caught their humanity. They're real people. They're not automatons or parts of the assembly line. They're her friends and colleagues. It comes through in the pictures and the article, and that's why it's so important that workers tell their own stories.
Hon David S. Cooke (Minister of Education and Training): In the throne speech last month, this government announced a plan to set new directions in education, to ensure our young people are well prepared for the challenges of the future. Education is our largest single investment in that future and the foundation for our economic renewal and social progress. Ontarians want an education system that is more accountable to the public it serves. They want a system that teaches the skills and knowledge that we need to better understand ourselves, our communities and to meet the economic challenge head on.
I am pleased today to confirm the government's appointment of the Royal Commission on Learning. The royal commission will bring all partners in the education system together in a public process to make Ontario's education system work better for all its participants. The five-member commission will undertake a province-wide effort to assess and make recommendations about the goals, standards and programs to guide Ontario's elementary and secondary schools into the 21st century.
I am pleased to introduce to the members and to the people of Ontario the five commissioners, who are with us in the gallery today. The co-chairs of the commission are Monique Bégin, a former federal Minister of National Health and Welfare and dean of health sciences in the University of Ottawa; and Gerry Caplan, a public policy analyst and public affairs commentator. Other commissioners are Monsignor Dennis Murphy, retiring director of the Institute for Catholic Education, from North Bay; Manisha Bharti, a grade 12 honours student from Cornwall and I believe the first student to ever be appointed to a royal commission; and Avis Glaze, a school superintendent from North York. Dr Roberta Bondar, Canada's first woman astronaut in space, will serve as a special adviser to the commission as well.
The challenge we have given these commissioners is to take the public's concerns and expectations and translate them into concrete plans for the future of our education system and programs. This is not an easy task, but it is crucial to improving confidence in the system, the improvement of our economy and the personal growth and wellbeing of every citizen of our province. That is why we are asking for the support of the general public and our partners. Participation in this process is critical to its progress and success.
The royal commission will fully involve students, parents, taxpayers, business, labour, educators and trainers, organizations, interest groups and individuals. The commission will also be mindful of the diversity of Ontario's population. Stakeholders and partners will be asked to participate through oral and written reports and presentations at public hearings.
Accountability: How can we ensure that our school system is accountable to the public? What are the education standards, who should set them and how do we evaluate the progress of students against those standards?
While the independent commission conducts its work, the government will move forward with a series of initiatives including testing for grade 9 students; the circulation of the working document, The Common Curriculum, Grades 1 to 9; the increased participation of parents in education; and further steps in French-language education.
As a government, we have the responsibility to make the system work for the people we serve. As members of our community, we have an obligation to listen and work with the people who will be most affected by our actions. The Royal Commission on Learning is an opportunity both to fulfil those duties and to bring systematic and major change to the education system.
Education and training are one of the 10 points in our government's plan to put Ontario back to work. We want education that emphasizes more than the basics, prepares students for a lifetime of learning and is accountable to parents, students and taxpayers.
Mr Charles Beer (York North): Let me say first of all to the minister that in the time allotted to me and in the comments that I'm going to make about the initiative which the government has taken today, those comments that are made are in no way commenting upon the quality and the integrity of those persons who have been named to the royal commission. I say that because I believe there are some critical issues that need to be addressed, and we have some real concerns about the reasons for the government setting up this commission.
We hope desperately, along with the broader members of the public, that the government is serious in terms of some of the things that it has begun in the last few weeks and that it will take the reports of the commission which it has just created seriously.
Minister, it's awfully important to underline the level of scepticism and cynicism that is out in the province around the whole issue of education and where we are going. For that reason, I believe it is terribly important that we recognize what the issues are, that we identify them and that we bring concrete solutions to them.
In many ways, the success or failure of the commission that you have just named will depend in large part on the actions which you and your government take between now and when that report comes out, because if there is any intention that you are simply going to back off and not deal with some of the critical issues that are out there, then we are going to be in very big trouble. I acknowledge that you have said you are not going to do that, but I simply underline that it would be a grave mistake to leave the issues to the commission.
Of particular importance, and one of the areas that is of great concern to us, is the question of the funding of the system. It is clear that in the mandate of the commission, it will not be dealing with funding. In the background questions and answers which you released at your press conference, you note that education finance is being dealt with by the education finance reform project. Minister, what I have to say to you is, how can the commission adequately talk about the purpose and direction of our school system, the program and curriculum development needed in our schools, the system of governance, the system of accountability that we want in our system and the organization of that school system without in effect being able to deal with some of the fundamental funding issues?
As you know, the Fair Tax Commission has brought in a report. There is a minority report attached to that. All of the main players in the education system are saying we have got to deal with this fundamental issue of funding. The cutbacks announced on April 23 only make that issue even more important.
I believe that we need from the minister standing here in this House, and with very short delay, a full statement on how the government is going to handle the funding of education, what specific steps are going to follow over the course of the next few weeks and months to get the system into balance, because without that, all of the work of the commission could well go for naught.
Monsieur le Président, je veux souligner aussi qu'une des questions que la Commission devrait aborder, c'est la question de la gérance des écoles de langue française. C'est très important, parce que la communauté francophone, depuis longtemps, attend et attend : Quelle sera la solution ? Comment est-ce qu'on va diriger nos propres écoles ?
While we have many reservations about the need for this commission in terms of solving all the issues we have, we recognize that the members who have been selected are going to approach their task in a serious way, and we will work with them in doing that. But I want to tell the minister and I want the minister to understand clearly that on the issues to do with governance, on the issues to do with funding, we will need some answers this spring, next fall, during next year, and we are going to need those long before the commission has finished its task.
Mrs Elizabeth Witmer (Waterloo North): I'm pleased to have this opportunity to respond to the statement in the Legislature regarding the Royal Commission on Learning, and I'd like to deal specifically with the concerns we have regarding this initiative.
First of all, we're very disappointed that once again, instead of taking action and dealing with the growing public dissatisfaction throughout the province, we have set up yet another education commission. Certainly, although you're going to take a look at the goals and the objectives and the programs, you are not dealing with the most critical issue of all, and that is the area of finance.
The past Minister of Education, Mr Silipo, promised to bring in a new funding model for 1993. Clearly, that's not going to happen. The Fair Tax Commission couldn't reach agreement on that. The question I pose to you is, when is the issue of finance going to be resolved and why is it not being considered in the context of looking at the goals, the standards and the programs of education? It is all part and parcel and it's very crucial to the future of education in this province.
I'd like to compliment you on the inclusion of a student within the committee. However, I have to tell you that I'm extremely disappointed that there is no parent representation. We've seen a growing concern among parents in this province; in fact, we had three parent groups in here last week: the Organization for Quality Education, Quality Education Network and Parents in Action.
These parents, unfortunately, because you refused to meet with them, had to hold a press conference to highlight their concerns about education, and I'm certainly disappointed that there wasn't a parent representative on the committee, because parents deserve to be involved.
Also, you talked about the cost of the commission only being $3 million, for the study. However, I guess the big concern is, what will the cost eventually be to the taxpayer in this province to implement the recommendations? That's certainly unknown at the present time.
Also, you've indicated that while the commission is studying long-term changes, the ministry is going to undertake selected short-term initiatives in areas of priority. I want to tell you that this is causing grave uncertainty and concern to parents, students and teachers in this province as you proceed with initiatives such as destreaming and the common curriculum, and also take a look at junior kindergarten and child care. All of those issues should have been resolved within the context of the Royal Commission on Learning, and not in a slipshod manner as is presently being done.
You've talked about the need for more accountability and we certainly agree. In fact the Ontario PC Party put out a document last fall, New Directions: A Blueprint for Learning in Ontario. In fact we've noticed that the good ideas that you've put forward today are based on our Blueprint for Learning in Ontario. We certainly have stressed the need for accountability to the public and the need for accountability in the area of standards and evaluation.
However, you have not given any assurance to the taxpayers in this province that there will be financial accountability. It is extremely important that we reassure taxpayers that they are getting value for their money. They must be assured that their money is being used well, and that issue is not addressed at all in the commission's mandate.
Also, you talked about the programs in our schools that we need to take a look at. What is the knowledge, what are the skills, what are the values that students need? How do we develop, organize and deliver the curriculum? If that's what you're taking a look at, why are you proceeding with the use of the common curriculum for grades 1 and 9? Why is that being now implemented in a vacuum of ignorance when at the same time you're going to take a look at what's going on in the schools? I really do question that.
I would suggest we don't need another expensive education study. We've had five since 1986. It's unfortunate, because there has been no commitment to follow through on any of the recommendations of the other task forces and now we have yet another committee that's not going to report until the end of 1994, just in time to serve as a springboard for the 1995 election. Again, we're going to see all of the recommendations put on the shelf. We're going to see the taxpayers' time and money wasted. I would hope that when you're taking a look at consultation with the public --
Mr Dennis Drainville (Victoria-Haliburton): I rise on a point of personal privilege, if I might. Mr Speaker, as you know, last week I decided to cross the floor and sit as an independent member in this assembly. I have to say this has raised at least some questions and some problems which need to be dealt with by people in this House, by yourself as the Chair of the House.
I must say that I sent a letter last Thursday to the three House leaders and in that letter I indicated to the House leaders that I believe that my rights in this House are not accorded to me in certain important areas as a member of this House; that is, that I cannot ask a question in question period -- if I were to rise, I could not be recognized -- that I cannot make a member's statement and that I also cannot sit on a legislative committee.
Now, as you know, Mr Speaker, a year ago I introduced a resolution, which passed in this House, which indicated that independent members should be accorded these rights. I have also said on numerous occasions that this is the only jurisdiction in North America where these kinds of standing orders prohibit recognizing the rights of an independent member.
I would ask two things, Mr Speaker: Firstly, in your capacity as Speaker of the House, I would ask that you make some ruling as to my status, to clarify it so that all members realize exactly what rights I do have and what rights I don't have as a member of this House. But I would also say, if I could, Mr Speaker, I would challenge the honourable government House leader that I have sent him this letter. It would be in my way of thinking a great help to the House if the honourable government House leader would indicate the government's response to that letter as soon as possible.
Mr Ernie L. Eves (Parry Sound): On the same point of order, Mr Speaker: I would just say that I believe when the standing orders were reviewed the last time and amended, there were no independent members sitting in the Legislature and I don't think that --
Mr Eves: Well, there have always been independent members sitting in some caucuses, I say to the Premier, including ours, and I don't think anybody really anticipated the situation that we find ourselves in now.
For our part, we certainly would be willing to look at the standing orders. I feel quite strongly that any elected member of the Legislative Assembly should have the right to participate during question period and private members' statements, and obviously there has to be some mechanism whereby independent members also have the ability to participate in the committee process. They, after all, are elected members like anybody else and they certainly should have the same rights and privileges.
We, for our part, will be more than willing to sit down and talk to the other two House leaders about perhaps how not only the member for Victoria-Haliburton but other independent members can be accommodated in this place.
Mr Murray J. Elston (Bruce): Mr Speaker, on the point of order, while I think it is important that the three House leaders representing the established parties sit down and try and work out a reasonable solution to this issue, I would actually invite the meeting together of these House leaders with both the Clerk and yourself as more objective viewers of this place in looking at it from an other-than-party perspective.
While I think we would attempt to do the best to provide an evenhanded and a fair distribution of opportunity to ask questions and serve on committees, I think that cannot easily be seen when the three of us might be together looking to the interests of a fellow member of the House who was not a member of one of the caucuses.
The issue at hand is an interesting one because, as you see, there is a relatively large group of New Democrats representing the government, there is a significant number of Liberals in the opposition party and there is a smaller number of people representing the other party, whose name escapes me at the moment.
It is becoming quite clear that it is increasingly difficult for even the backbench members of most of the parties to have real access in question period, and while we would like to divide up even more the number of opportunities for people to participate, it will have to be seen to be equal opportunity for all of the backbench members as far as that is practically possible.
I understand that there is always going to be a difficulty in trying to make our questions short and precise, and even interventions on points of order precise, but we have been recently reaching only two of our backbench members' questions after the leaders' questions, and that really is not allowing very much access at all.
So in one way, when the member for Victoria-Haliburton, in his letter to me as House leader which I have now passed on to my colleagues, has suggested a guaranteed access every so many days to question period and to do other things, it is interesting because not all of our members are able to access every two weeks the question period, just by the very nature of the examination of the business put to the ministers.
Mr Speaker, this is not an easy exercise. It's one we willingly participate in, it's one we will certainly be looking for some guidance and direction not only from yourself and the Clerk but from my friend the government House leader and my friend the House leader for the third party, and we look forward perhaps at your call to come to a meeting to look at a way that we can fairly treat independent members.
Hon Brian A. Charlton (Government House Leader): Just very briefly -- I don't want to take a lot of time here in the House on this issue this afternoon -- let me say first of all, through you to the member for Victoria-Haliburton, that he's written to all three of the House leaders and hopefully whatever response we make at the end of the day will not be a response from the government House leader, it will be a response from our consultations with each other, you, Mr Speaker, the clerks and the members of our caucuses; in other words, a response that reflects the best interests of this House.
The House leader for the official opposition has suggested, for example, that in our considerations of the member's requests in his letter we will have to take into account the fairness of that over and against his circumstance and the circumstance of every other member in the House, and I hope we can do that in as non-partisan a way as we can. I'm certainly prepared to sit down with the other House leaders and with yourself, sir, and the Clerk and have some serious discussion about how we contemplate the participation of independent members outside of the three caucuses in this House.
The Speaker (Hon David Warner): May I say first to the member for Victoria-Haliburton that indeed, in his request of me, he answered his question. The standing orders are quite clear. They are indeed quite rigid with respect to any member who does not belong to a recognized party, so there is nothing in the standing orders which would assist either myself or himself in being able to participate in question period or indeed in other activities.
The Speaker: I remember the name -- and to the honourable member for Bruce and the government House leader, they perhaps will know, as I trust all members will know, that I've had a concern for some time with respect to the rights and privileges of independent members, and I appreciate very much the opportunity to meet with the House leaders and the Clerk to see if we can find a way to address the problem through a change in the standing orders.
I would say finally, in reply to the government House leader, that indeed it is my view that the best kind of accommodation for difficulties is when the House decides to make a change. Perhaps when the House decides to make changes, then all members will be happy with that and we can conduct our business the way it should be conducted.
Mrs Margaret Marland (Mississauga South): On a point of order, Mr Speaker: I understand that there is a requirement for unanimous consent if a request for the late show -- I think it's standing order 34 -- has to be waived. I made a request yesterday of the Minister of Consumer and Commercial Relations, and she phoned me today at 12:30 and advised me that she was ill. I said I was perfectly happy to reschedule that when she is well, but she told me it required unanimous consent of the House, and I'm making that request on her behalf.
Mrs Lyn McLeod (Leader of the Opposition): My first question is for the Premier. Premier, two weeks ago when the unions walked away from your social contract talks to draw up their own alternatives, you indicated that you would welcome their proposals. As you, I am sure, are aware, it is now being very widely reported that one of the major union alternatives to restraint will be proposals that you raise taxes even further. Surely you are not going to the table to negotiate more taxes. Premier, I ask you to give us your assurance that you are not prepared to entertain union proposals for major tax increases in addition to what you are already planning.
Hon Bob Rae (Premier): I can assure the honourable member that the tax decisions that are made by the Minister of Finance are, in accordance with tradition, made by him after his reflections and his discussions with his cabinet colleagues, as well as the very extensive budget and pre-budget consultations that have taken place. The issue of taxes is not at the table with respect to the social contract and is not subject to negotiation.
Mrs McLeod: We are assured by that reassurance, Premier, and we hope it reflects the fact that your Treasurer, as well as you, understands that you cannot deal with this deficit situation with more taxes when they will put more people out of business, more people out of work, and probably drive your deficit even higher.
But, Premier, let me take you back to the social contract discussions and the negotiations which you expect to have resumed this week, which was indeed the focus of my first question. I would suggest to you that we can well understand why the negotiations are mired in some confusion, because it has been a problem for anybody to understand what in fact is on the table.
I believe, Premier, that you added to that confusion last week in Hamilton when you told Hamilton municipalities, and I believe I'm quoting accurately: "We are also going to be taking into account the circumstances faced by individual municipalities. If there are special cases to be made for any one municipality, absolutely, we'll be prepared to listen to that."
I ask, Premier: Can you explain to us how you intend to take into account the specific circumstances of individual municipalities, school boards, hospitals, colleges and universities, which are already struggling to cope with your broad-brush cuts?
Hon Mr Rae: First of all, since my honourable colleague made a point of extrapolating from one answer into a totally different answer, perhaps she'll permit me to de-extrapolate and to say what I've said in the House in response to questions from other members and from members in the press: It is certainly my understanding, on the basis of everything that the Treasurer and I have discussed, that there will be tax increases in the budget.
I don't want there to be any illusions about that. We've made that very clear. We're making it for the simple reason that we feel it has to be done in order to deal with the extent of the deficit problem in the province as well as part of broader strategies that we're putting into place.
What I said when I met with the mayor of Hamilton, my good friend Mayor Morrow -- as is my colleague from Mississauga. I would feel the same way. I would feel precisely the same way -- was to say that one should not read into, for example, the percentage cut in the transfer payment to the municipalities that each municipality would be affected in exactly the same way. Obviously, it depends on the degree of dependence on transfer payments and it depends on the particular circumstances facing the municipality, and those are circumstances which obviously would be taken into account by the Minister of Municipal Affairs. That's his job. If there's a special case to be made, that's something which has to be taken into account.
Mrs McLeod: Premier, I agree with you in one respect, and that is your suggestion that in Hamilton-Wentworth they have shown leadership in dealing with the constant budget changes which your government has imposed on them. I would agree with you that that has also happened in Mississauga, where they have shown leadership at a municipal level, and I would suggest that that has also been true in other municipalities, just as it has been true in many school boards and for many hospitals.
That is why, Premier, I have a problem with the fact that you seem to be trying to have it both ways, because at the bargaining table your negotiators are talking about very broad-brush cuts, but when you hear the local concerns you say, "Don't worry, you'll be exempted." As we understand what you said in Hamilton, Premier, it was to tell municipal workers that they have sacrificed enough and should be exempt even from the social contract proposals on unpaid leave.
I simply ask you: How can you give your assurance to one municipality in the province that it will be exempt from the social contract before that contract is even negotiated? I ask further whether or not other municipalities and hospitals and universities and school boards that have indeed already made cuts will also be exempt. How are you going to identify who is going to be exempted and why?
Hon Mr Rae: Again the honourable member has extrapolated, and I'm glad she's introduced the word, because it now allows me to use it. She's extrapolated again. She's gone from my talking about a situation where, obviously, the circumstances and the steps that have been taken at a local municipality will be taken into account to my talking about there being blanket exemptions. I've never used any such expression. She's using that expression.
Everyone's going to have to pitch in, and I quite understand -- I'm not saying it's easy. I'm not saying that the circumstances facing the province make the lives of mayors or regional chairs or local councils or school boards any easier. They do not. I'm the first to admit that, and that's precisely why we've taken the unprecedented step of encouraging people to come to the table, to sit down and talk with us, tell us their problems, their responses to what it is the government is proposing and have a serious dialogue at the table.
I think that's where the confusion over time -- and it's going to take a bit of time and it's going to take a lot of work -- where that can be cleared up and where, if everyone comes to the same table, it will then be possible for us to make some good, constructive decisions in which as much fairness as possible can inform what will no doubt be a very difficult process. But I don't think I've ever used the words "blanket exemptions."
Mrs McLeod: I think the focus of concern for the people who come in to negotiate is what the process is for them to be able to persuade the Premier that they are deserving of the non-blanket exemption.
Mrs Lyn McLeod (Leader of the Opposition): My second question is on a different issue. I would have preferred, I say at the beginning, to have addressed this question to the Attorney General, but it is a question which I have already deferred once in her absence, and I do feel the importance of proceeding with the question today, so I will address it to the Premier.
Premier, I'm sure you are aware of the Attorney General's decision to go to court to overturn the court-ordered police protection for Denise Thournout of London. You also know that many women are afraid that the actions of your government in intervening in this case mean that women who are vulnerable will not be protected even if the courts have ordered it.
Premier, when some of these women who are concerned expressed their concerns by staging a protest last weekend in London, the Attorney General said: "I personally think the anger is misdirected. I think if the demonstration were taking place at the residence of the person who is harassing the individual, it would be much more appropriate."
Hon Bob Rae (Premier): I would say to the honourable member, and I know that she's going to be frustrated by this answer, but I really feel that in the circumstances I should simply refer the issue to the Attorney General and indicate to the honourable member that she will be here tomorrow and Thursday and will be in a position to reply to the question.
Mrs McLeod: Premier, I'm going to pursue the question, although I respect the fact that it would have been preferable to be able to address the question directly to the Attorney General, because I do feel that on an issue that has the kinds of consequences which this issue has and which is certainly not one that we're springing on you by surprise, since it has been featured quite prominently in the media, it's fair for me to expect that you and the Attorney General would have had at least some discussions about the implications of her decision, and thereby your government's decision, to intervene in this particular case.
Premier, I also understand that your government, through the Attorney General, has made very clear the reasons for intervening in the matter. But what is not clear to any of us, Premier, is what concrete alternatives your government has had to offer to this woman or to others like her. There are many women like Denise Thournout across this province who live in fear, and yet the only message that your Attorney General, and therefore your government, has sent to them is that you're prepared to step in and take away the police protection that's been ordered by the courts. You have clearly said that Denise Thournout can't expect to keep her OPP protection, but I ask what concrete, practical alternatives you have to offer to Denise Thournout and to others like her so that women do not feel betrayed by a justice system that is leaving them without protection.
Hon Mr Rae: Let me say to the honourable member that I don't take away for a moment her right to pose the question. I hope she will appreciate that this is a matter that, in terms of the particular instance and the particular case, is being handled in the courts. I'm very reluctant to comment on it in any way except to say that in general I think the government is very firmly committed to providing whatever assistance we can and whatever assistance can be provided to people who are affected by any kind of harassment. But above and beyond that, I just don't think it's right or reasonable for me, as Premier, to comment on an individual case, and I would certainly refer the question. I know the honourable member will be here tomorrow and the Attorney General will be able to answer, perhaps by means of a previously asked question.
Mr Tim Murphy (St George-St David): Mr Premier, in deferring the question I would ask that you take into account that the member for London Centre is both the women's issues minister and the Attorney General and that women of this province are looking to her and to your government for leadership in this matter, and they expect your government to take decisive action. Yet what is proposed to be done is to take away that very court protection, and in fact, from copies of documents that I have, not only are you taking that protection away but you're asking the respondent, Miss Thournout, to pay the costs if you win in taking that protection away.
We can understand, Mr Premier, that perhaps you can't afford 24-hour OPP protection, and yet I would ask that you ask the Attorney General to see if there are other alternatives, if she's considered other alternatives, before she did this move. Mr Premier, I'm asking you to ask your Attorney General and your Solicitor General if they explored other alternatives before they proceeded in this fashion. If you are not so satisfied, I'd ask you to undertake that they have that discussion and consider and decide on better alternatives than what they're proposing.
Hon Mr Rae: I don't say this simply to observe a nicety, but to say that I welcome the participation of the member for St George-St David in the House in terms of his participation in questions. Let me say that I shall certainly refer his question, as well as the question from the Leader of the Opposition, to the Attorney General as well as to the Solicitor General.
I think, though, that if he looks at the broad record and the direction which has been taken by the Attorney General and by the Solicitor General, I can assure him that uppermost in our minds is working in cooperation with the federal government, the new federal law that's now being proposed and the steps we've taken as a government. We are very much aware of the need to provide protection and the need to provide some real sense of security to women who feel that their safety is in any way in danger or that their rights are in any way in danger as a result of actions being taken by others.
I know this is something which would be shared by all members and making sure that that assurance is provided as a general rule. But with respect to the particular case, I'm very reluctant to make a comment and I will certainly refer it to the Attorney General.
Mr Michael D. Harris (Nipissing): Mr Speaker, I'm assuming that the Liberal Party making no comment of Clyde Wells's re-election was because he got elected on an issue that they fundamentally disagree with.
But I think we should take the opportunity, the first one, to acknowledge Clyde Wells returning as Premier of Newfoundland, and congratulate him on his election. Perhaps, by way of that in a question to you, Premier, I would like you, in a very non-partisan way, to say that this victory is one that you, who are now Premier of Ontario, should take some comfort -- it should reinforce to you that the time for tough action is indeed now. The time to cut the cost and the size of the bureaucracy and government is indeed now.
Premier Wells campaigned for cutbacks, against the entrenched position of the union bosses, and he won. He won the support of voters, he won the support of taxpayers and he won the significant support of the union membership. I think we would all acknowledge that today.
I would ask you this then, Premier: Since setting the agenda is slipping away from you, are you prepared to embrace the Wells victory as a sign that you need to toughen up, that it is you who should be setting the agenda, that it is you who should be talking about what's on the table and you who sets the deadline? Would you acknowledge that, Premier?
Hon Bob Rae (Premier): Perhaps I could borrow from a debate in another jurisdiction and say that I know Clyde Wells, have known him for some time and have worked with him, and I will say, listening to the leader of the third party, "You're no Clyde Wells."
I would say to the leader of the third party that, as a general rule, whenever premiers are re-elected, certainly an incumbent always takes a little bit of comfort from that fact. But I would make the additional point, in all seriousness, to the honourable member, that I'm not going to comment on events in other provinces except to say that I would obviously congratulate all those who campaigned. I've spoken both to Premier Wells today and to the leader of the New Democratic Party, who won his seat and increased his popular vote in the province in a difficult circumstance.
Obviously, we face a difficult challenge in the country. I listened to Premier Wells last night and also this morning on television and on radio, and I heard him saying very clearly that he wanted to sit down and negotiate with his employees, that he wasn't seeking a confrontation, and I heard very clearly from the unions saying that they also wanted to negotiate and weren't seeking a confrontation. In our own province, I think we're finding more and more that although there are differences of opinion -- they're being expressed very strongly -- people are willing to come and sit and talk and discuss and dialogue.
Hon Mr Rae: It's in that spirit, and not in a spirit of confrontation, that this government thinks we're going to make the most progress, and that's the spirit with which we enter these discussions here in Ontario.
Mr Harris: The Premier will know that he and I are in favour of negotiations. Mr Wells and I felt that there should be a level playing field, and he sought a mandate: He sought a mandate, he set the agenda, he began negotiating from at least a level playing field.
Premier, I appreciate that today, in response to the leader of the Liberal Party -- who somehow or other was disappointed that the Liberals won; I guess only because of the agenda that they fought, they disagree with -- you said the unions may put tax hikes on the table, but that is not negotiable, you will not allow that to be part of the negotiations. I heard you say that and I just wanted to acknowledge that and appreciate that and support you in toughening up a little bit in saying that you will set the agenda. If that is indeed what you are saying, let me acknowledge that part of it.
However, the unions do plan, Premier, to put on the table today pay freezes for job security or position security, which, in many people's views, could significantly damage the ability of the government today, tomorrow, next year and the next year to properly downsize the size of government, as you have said must take place.
Mr Harris: -- are you also prepared to take a tough line, as you have on taxes, and saying it is your job, it is the legislator's job, the Premier's job, to set the size of the civil service, but negotiating how you reach that size, what the pay schedule is, that's up for negotiation? Are you prepared to tell us that, too?
Hon Mr Rae: I have a feeling that somehow, somebody took away his second question so he had to put another one in there; just listening to it. All I would say to him is that, broadly based across the broader public service, the issue of employment security naturally will be brought forward by the employees, as it has already been raised by the government in terms of its broad approach in the social contract proposal. I think if you look at the social contract proposal, you'll see a very strong willingness on the part of the government to do that.
Look, we have a responsibility to manage; any government does. In the 1990s, in an age of progressive management, it seems to me we also have an obligation to provide as much security as possible in an economic climate in which, of course, there's a great deal of concern. My own view is that that's going to be better for confidence, it's going to do more for the economy, if we have a greater sense of trust and a greater sense of security in terms of what we're facing. But of course we retain the right to manage. That's quite fundamental to any government.
Mr Harris: It's going to be an interesting set of negotiations. The unions say they want to negotiate tax hikes for everybody else, and the management of the size and what the civil service would do; they're not going to have much left to talk about. But we'll see what unfolds this afternoon. All I'm holding you accountable for, Premier, is to stay that course, because there are a lot of people concerned that you will not.
I suggest to you that if Clyde Wells were here today, he would differ with you. When the union bosses gave him a tough time, he called an election to get a mandate to be able to negotiate from a position of strength.
Now, I don't think you're going to call an election, Premier, so we're looking for other signs. I would ask you, as I asked you last Thursday: You said you had a line beyond which you would not be pushed, that there was a deadline for these negotiations to conclude. Will you today tell us what that deadline is, will you lay it out for us, for the public, for taxpayers and for the unions, will you be fair to them in their negotiations, will you tell us what that line is, and will you give us the assurance that if that line is passed, that deadline --
Hon Mr Rae: Let me say -- and I say this to my colleagues; we've had a good caucus meeting this morning -- that an election is not the first thing on my mind at the moment. I know that will come as a disappointment and a surprise to many members. But some two and a half years into the mandate, we have a mandate to govern and we'd be wise to govern, and we have a way to go before we sleep, let me say.
Let me just say to the honourable member that I think the answer I gave last week was very clear, that as we indicated in the social contract proposal, the Treasurer needed to have some indication from the bargaining table, from our chief negotiator, as to the kind of progress that was being made and as to his recommendations. That date is tomorrow, and I'm quite confident that tomorrow or Thursday, the Minister of Finance will have a report from the negotiator which will allow him to make a decision and report directly to the House, which is, I'm sure, exactly what the Minister of Finance will want to do.
Having said that, I think we also want to give time for the negotiations to work and time for people to come to terms with what can only be described as a change which requires their participation in order to work. But I can assure the honourable member, we will take the decisions that need to be taken.
Mrs Margaret Marland (Mississauga South): My question is to the Minister of Housing. Minister, yesterday, in your answers to my leader, Mike Harris, on government housing, you demonstrated your complete blind faith on this subject; in fact, so blind that we believe you have blinkers on, because times change, and today in this province we have the highest vacancy rate since 1972. We believe it's totally unjust to those people who require affordable housing today and the beleaguered taxpayers who must pay for it.
Yesterday you said, "When those market units are filled, it helps to pay off the cost of social housing faster." In fact, what you didn't tell us is that you're paying for video productions and all kinds of forms of advertising to fill those particular units. How naïve of you to think that people are going to choose to pay market rent in a government-subsidized building.
Madam Minister, what we would like to know is how you can honestly deny the needs of a quarter of a million people in this province who are on waiting lists for affordable housing while you spend more money for only half that number of people because you want to spend money on bricks and mortar rather than on people.
Hon Evelyn Gigantes (Minister of Housing): The member for Mississauga South continues not to understand what social housing is about. It's unfortunate, because it was her government which began the programs of non-profit housing in this province. While times have changed, I think the member will have to recognize that one of the things that's changed is that a great number of people in Ontario now -- up to 600,000 cases in Ontario, which represent more people in the household than 600,000 -- are dependent on social assistance, and it is very helpful to people in that kind of situation not to be receiving a shelter subsidy in the form of a rental subsidy through social assistance but to have access to affordable housing which is paid for through the Ministry of Housing accounts.
But she can't have it both ways. You can't have people receiving social assistance for free. It's not free, member for Mississauga South. You can put them in affordable housing, which gets paid for over a 35-year mortgage, which retains its use of the public resource --
Mrs Marland: I guess the difficulty is that we have in this province a Ministry of Health that doesn't pay for two hearing aids, and I now understand why there's a need in this House as well as outside of this House.
I certainly wasn't talking about anything being free. I'm talking about the actual cost to the taxpayers of this program that does not look after -- the same number of dollars spent on four times as many people. It's very simple, actually.
Yesterday, in fact, the minister said to my leader that $2.5 billion was spent on shelter allowances. She said, "If that is not a rental subsidy in this province, how much more does he want to put into payments which are subsidies to landlords, which don't create new affordable housing?"
This is a selective argument. What I'd like to know is, how about the subsidies to land owners to whom the non-profit housing program pays three times the market cost of the land, then allows flips by these groups before they even come to market in terms of buildings?
Mrs Marland: The auditor has identified a lack of need and demand studies. The auditor identified that 25% of the projects do not even have approved operating budgets, the auditor talked about multiple waiting lists --
Mrs Marland: If this such a good thing, Madam Minister, why don't you open up your books and answer the questions that were asked in public accounts committee and answer the questions asked by the auditor himself, who is still waiting --
Hon Ms Gigantes: Mr Speaker, it's hard to know where to begin to answer this outpouring of vituperation and agitation, but I take all that she's saying very seriously because it's so highly inaccurate. It really dismays me that this inaccuracy goes on being spouted. It dismays me.
The Provincial Auditor reviewed the social housing program as it operated in this province between the years 1985 and 1991. He raised a number of questions, all of which we took very seriously at the Ministry of Housing in reviewing the social housing program which we are carrying forward under Jobs Ontario Homes.
We are making changes to those programs. The figures that were spouted yesterday by the leader of the Conservative Party are simply not the case. We will not be spending $1 billion by 1995. We have reconstructed our social housing program. The costs will be, on an annual basis, $70 million lower than that. I hope the member for Mississauga South will pick up her Hansard, read over the committee hearings which she participated in and note that every question raised was answered.
You also said yesterday that my Conservative leader is going around the province talking about this program in pathetic terms. I want to tell you what's pathetic. The program is pathetic. You're asking people to make sacrifices in this province at the same time that you do not know what's going on in your ministry. You do not know that the auditor identified $200 million of misspent dollars, money that they can't find where your ministry has spent that money.
Hon Ms Gigantes: One is the question of this government spending money, raising taxes, throwing people out of work. I don't know what she's talking about, but let me point out for the benefit of the member that the social housing that will be under construction in the province of Ontario this year will create the equivalent of 30,000 full-time jobs. Is that worth nothing to the member for Mississauga South?
The questions that have been raised in the public accounts committee have been answered. If there is a specific question, aside from these generalized pieces of misinformation, that the member would like answered, I'd be glad to get it from her and be glad to get her any answer she's looking for.
Mrs Yvonne O'Neill (Ottawa-Rideau): My question is to the Premier. Yesterday, your government received a stay, pending an appeal, on the release of the 1976 report on the Grandview school for girls in Cambridge. Mr Premier, judges, a former Attorney General, the media, some of whom are plaintiffs in this case, and the community at large have stated consistently for almost a year that your actions surrounding the release of this I remind this House that this is a heavily edited document, with all the names and personal interviews deleted. Your continued request to suppress this report is described over and over again as extremely rare and highly unusual.
You know and I know that the release of this report, even in its edited version, would most likely help to prove that there was real abuse at Grandview. The NDP government has always claimed to be the champion of the rights of those wronged through their contact with provincial institutions.
Mr Premier, you have demonstrated your personal interest in this matter by requesting and receiving a confidential briefing on the case by the assistant Deputy Attorney General, criminal law, the same person who argued your government's case yesterday.
Will you and your Attorney General stop hiding behind the excuse of hindering an investigation? I ask you, will you give us the real reason why you are continuing to request the suppression of this report, which is of such high interest to you, to your government, to the members of this Legislature and indeed to the community of Ontario? Why are you personally and three of your ministries fighting so hard --
Hon Bob Rae (Premier): First of all, I would say to the honourable member that her statement that this is some personal action being taken by any member of the government is frankly absurd and unworthy of the member. Secondly, I would refer her to page 16 of the standing orders, and I would refer others as well, to standing order 23(g), which states specifically:
Those are the standing orders of the House. They guide me in my actions and in my answers as clearly as they guide the honourable member. I can make no further comment on this matter, and she knows it perfectly well, as does every member of the House.
Mrs O'Neill: The Premier knows that he had a meeting on March 17, and that is the point of my question today. You met that day with the director of the provincial crown law office, Mr Murray Segal, and the assistant Attorney General for criminal law, Mr Michael Code.
Some crown attorneys in Ontario are concerned that their arm's-length relationship with this government has been compromised by this troubling and unprecedented briefing. Many believe your meeting with the director of the provincial crown law office, who will ultimately determine where and whether charges in this case will be laid, is more than the appearance of interference that your Attorney General continues to refer to.
Hon Mr Rae: The basis of the question is without any substance or foundation whatsoever. There's nothing unprecedented in the discussion between the Attorney General and I with respect to briefings on matters concerning her ministry, nothing unprecedented or unusual in it at all with respect to it. I would refer the honourable member and, if I may say so, refer other members to what is, after all, I would have thought, a pretty clear standing order of the House with respect to comments that a member or that a Premier can or cannot make.
Mr Norman W. Sterling (Carleton): My question is to the Minister of Citizenship. Madam Minister, I'd like to thank you, and also the Minister of Tourism and Recreation, for your invitation to the celebration of the presentation of the 1993 volunteer awards, a Festival of Stars, where they will recognize the stellar achievements of Ontario volunteers with special guests next Tuesday night.
I'm getting quite a few calls in my constituency office because my volunteers from my riding can't understand that at the bottom of this, it says these volunteer awards for Ontario residents are going to be given in Hull, Quebec.
Hon Elaine Ziemba (Minister of Citizenship): Thank you very much for the question. I want to say I'm very pleased that you received your invitation. We are often criticized that we don't extend those invitations. I hope also that you will participate, because we have tried, in all of our events -- that all the members participate in the event.
We are also very concerned about making sure that we save as many dollars as we can, that we can provide the best opportunity for our volunteers because they're extremely important, but we also have to make sure that we have facilities that will not cost us the dollars. I will look in to see about the costs effect of going to Hull, Quebec, for you.
Mr Sterling: Madam Minister, maybe you're not aware of it, but the Ottawa Congress Centre, which is owned by this province, is deficit-ridden at this point in time and would be very appropriate for this kind of ceremony. We have the National Arts Centre in the city of Ottawa, in the province of Ontario, which would be very appropriate for this kind of awards ceremony.
Madam Minister, I'm proud to be a Canadian, I'm proud to be an Ontarian, and the people who are receiving a province of Ontario award for voluntarism, quite frankly, would expect that this ceremony would take place in our province.
Hon Ms Ziemba: I'm very pleased to hear that the member is proud to be an Ontarian, proud to be Canadian, and I think we all share those values. I think it's extremely important that we state those. But I also would like to say, as I said to you in the last response, that I will look into this matter to see what the cost-effectiveness is of going to that particular facility and to make sure that we take your concerns into account next time.
Mr Donald Abel (Wentworth North): My question is for the Minister of Housing. Madam Minister, when the recent federal government's pre-election budget came out, we didn't hear much about the negative impact that spending cuts will have on social housing. In this budget, the federal government cancelled five national programs which in the past have assisted tens of thousands of Canadians annually.
This move by the federal government has many people in my riding of Wentworth North, and I'm sure all across Canada, very, very upset. I think it is of the utmost importance that the people of Ontario are made aware what effects these Tory cuts are going to have on housing in the province of Ontario. Madam Minister, can you provide us with some information?
Hon Evelyn Gigantes (Minister of Housing): I'm glad to do that, Mr Speaker. There were five programs affected by the federal budget, and in fact five programs have been completely eliminated including the non-profit housing program, which has been a federal-provincial shared cost program; the federal rent supplement program, which really has been useful especially in small towns and rural areas --
-- the rural native housing program, which is a rent-to-own program; the residential rehabilitation assistance program, RAP, which has helped people of low income repair their homes; and the urban native non-profit housing program.
Hon Ms Gigantes: In addition to the complete elimination of these five programs, the federal Conservatives have capped the operating funding for the more than 40,000 units of social housing here in Ontario that they've cost-shared with the province of Ontario, including with Conservative governments in the past, over the last several years.
Hon Ms Gigantes: Mr Speaker, it appears quite clear that the Conservative members of this Legislature think it's very funny when Ontarians lose assistance from the federal government that helps meet the desperate needs of people seeking affordable housing in this province.
Hon Ms Gigantes: I'd like to point out to them that it ain't funny. I'd like to point out to them that 2,000 units of social housing will be lost this coming year, 3,000 units of rehabilitated housing, and that amounts to 4,000 construction jobs in one year only, and that will be repeated year after year after year. That loss is going to be suffered in Ontario.
Mrs Joan M. Fawcett (Northumberland): I have here something for the Minister of Agriculture and Food, if he would like to take a look. I'd like to have a page come and deliver this to the minister so he could even get a closer look.
Last night, Minister, my colleague the member for Bruce and I travelled to Centralia College of Agricultural technology to listen to the concerns of the friends of Centralia. There were over 800 very concerned individuals from all walks of life there devastated by the closing of Centralia College by your ministry. They told us the vital role Centralia College plays in their lives and in the agrifood industry in our province.
Mrs Fawcett: -- who stated she preferred to hire graduates from Centralia because of their experience with large and small animals? In fact, she stated there were at least four Centralia graduates working there now.
Has the minister talked to people like Donna Stewardson, the second vice-president of the Ontario Federation of Agriculture, who told us last night that the OFA considers the closing of Centralia as an outright attack on research, education and the establishment of future generations of farmers?
Hon Elmer Buchanan (Minister of Agriculture and Food): I'm fully aware of the value of Centralia College to the Huron area and the staff there who do an excellent job. The research that's there is important to agriculture in this province and I'm aware of a couple of the research programs that are specifically located at Centralia and their importance to that region. But it's my job and the job of being part of the government to look at fiscal responsibilities. When we looked at the agricultural colleges, we have spaces for 2,000 students and we only have about 1,100 students in the agricultural college system.
Quite frankly, decisions had to be made. No one likes to close any college. If it had been Ridgetown, the people from Ridgetown would have had a meeting and they would have had a sign that said, "Save Ridgetown." It's very tough to close any institution, whether it's a school, a college or any other facility, but these are tough decisions that had to be made.
It's unfortunate for the people in the area, and I understand the economic impact. We'll do what we can to offset that. We are responsible and we will do what we can for the people in that region. But at the end of the day, we have to make decisions, we have to downsize the number of colleges we have in this province to show responsibility and reflect the capacity that we need to serve the agricultural community.
Mrs Fawcett: Is this the real Minister of Agriculture or an impostor? Never before, Minister, has the agrifood community shouldered such a disproportionate share of an Ontario government's attempts at fiscal responsibility.
How can you justify these cuts when your government is spending $2.8 million on seven ministers without portfolio who can't even answer questions in this House, or is spending over $1 million just to move cabinet offices across the street?
The minister has to realize that there is a future for agriculture in our province and that future depends on our ability to do research and development to provide our farmers with the best technology so that they can compete in the global economy.
Hon Mr Buchanan: During the last administration, the Liberal administration, when revenues were increasing 10% and 15% per year, if the Liberal administration had put some money aside and left some money in the kitty, we could continue some of the programs that they valued so much. If our growth in revenues was the same as it was in the 1980s, we wouldn't be experiencing the kinds of closures we've had to take.
These are very tough decisions. At least we had the guts to make those decisions and we're going to stand by those decisions. There will be no reversal in the closure of the colleges that we've announced. There will be no backtracking on that.
In terms of Agriculture and Food taking an unreasonable cut, I have the list here in terms of percentage of cut. Agriculture was treated very fairly. Some ministries were as high as 18%, some below that. We're basically somewhere in the median range in terms of the restraints that we suffered, and we believe that Agriculture and Food has to participate and be a responsible ministry in this government and be responsible to the people of the province.
Mr Leo Jordan (Lanark-Renfrew): My question is for the Minister of Natural Resources. The Ontario Forest Industries Association has stated that your government's ban on chlorine is not based on scientific evidence. Furthermore, it is the industry's contention that the large financial commitments necessary to meet your new regulations will not result in environmental gains.
Hon Howard Hampton (Minister of Natural Resources): The regulations which are addressed here are more properly in the realm of the Minister of Environment. I think the question should go to the Minister of the Environment and Energy.
Hon Bud Wildman (Minister of Environment and Energy): I thank the member for his question. He will know that the MISA regulations were put forward after about six years of development and widespread consultation. We had a 60-day comment period and we'll be taking into account the comments made in the development of the final regulation.
The member should know that, while he questions the scientific evidence, the International Joint Commission has called for the elimination of organochlorines from our water supply in the Great Lakes, and I think that the International Joint Commission is a commission that is set up by both the governments of Canada and the United States to protect those waterways and we could hardly question their ability to make scientific judgements.
Mr Jordan: It is now estimated, Minister, that as many as 6,000 jobs could be lost if the zero AOX regulation is pursued. One operation has been widely quoted as stating your policy will leave them with no other option than to close the plant. The mayor of Thunder Bay has called this ban a threat to the survival of northwestern Ontario.
Hon Mr Wildman: I did refer to the question about science in the previous answer. I would just say that we all are concerned about the health of the pulp and paper industry in Ontario. All of us would recognize that the prices have been depressed for some time and that the difficulties being experienced by some of the kraft mills are related to the market, not to regulations.
I would also like to correct a misunderstanding that the member has in that he refers to the zero as a regulation, when in fact it is a goal. What is regulated is 0.8 by the year 1999, and he should know that two out of the eight kraft mills can already meet that regulation and that they will be required, along with the other six kraft mills, to file a plan on how they might meet the goal of zero by the year 2002 by the end of 1998. This is not really very onerous at all.
Mr Gary Wilson (Kingston and The Islands): My question is for the Minister of Labour. Our government has taken steps to help working people in Ontario. With Bill 40, Ontario has one of the most progressive labour relations acts in North America. We've initiated a wage protection plan that ensures that working people receive earned wages and vacation, severance and termination pay when their employers don't pay.
The Ontario investment and employee ownership program encourages workers to buy into their own companies and provides a source of investment for individuals who want to invest in our economy here in Ontario. We've made progress with pay equity, and our down payment program announced this spring will pay up to $2,500 to thousands of lower-wage working women in the broader public sector.
With Bill 80, we have emphasized the basic democratic rights of construction workers by promoting greater freedom and control for local unions in their relationship with their international parent unions in the construction industry. Recently, however, some of my constituents have suggested that Bill 80 will require building trade unions members --
Mr Gary Wilson: -- to join only Canadian-based unions. There appears to be a contradiction here, Minister, between the constructive things for working people our government has done and this apparently arbitrary provision. Could you clear up this contradiction?
Hon Bob Mackenzie (Minister of Labour): I'm very glad to hear the member for Kingston and The Islands raise the issue, for example, of Bill 40 and Bill 80, which relates to Bill 40. Some of the members across the floor of the House might take a little time to find out exactly what's happening with Bill 40, both from the workers' and the companies' side, and might find out that it's nowhere near the bugbear they thought it was when the legislation was brought into the House. It has had the effect of speeding up the processes.
Hon Mr Mackenzie: As I was saying, Mr Speaker, the ability of workers to organize has been enhanced. There are quicker first contracts, there have been less costs through speedier handling of issues before the board and to date -- it's early in the game yet and that's why I haven't got up in this House to say anything before this -- it has been a success right down the line.
With respect to Bill 80, I want to say that it does not restrict, I tell my honourable friend, union members or workers' rights to join the union of their choice and it does set out prohibitions from the parent unions interfering with a local union, with the autonomy of the workers without just cause, which we think is something that's a step forward. It also provides effective representation in benefits and non-benefit plans, and it gives shared bargaining rights with the local unions as well as with the international that they represent.
Mr Gary Wilson: Minister, many of my constituents have been following the progress of Bill 80. They've participated in the consultations surrounding it and are anxious to see it reintroduced into the House for second reading. Just when can they expect to see Bill 80 back in the House?
Hon Mr Mackenzie: We have heard some of the concerns that were raised earlier by the member. We have been engaged in extensive consultations with the building trades unions and with both sides, those that are happy with Bill 80 and those that have some reservations about the legislation, and we are currently in the process of meeting with the various groups and discussing the concerns that have been raised by construction workers across the province of Ontario. I can tell you it is my intention to meet some of the concerns that are there when we bring the bill back in for second reading, and we hope to have it through in this session of the Legislature.
Mr James J. Bradley (St Catharines): I have a question for the Minister of the Environment. When I had the opportunity to establish the investigations and enforcement branch of the Ministry of the Environment, it was set up as an independent branch whose mandate it was to investigate all environmental infractions and to enforce the environmental laws of the province of Ontario. It was deliberately separated from other branches of government and from the control of the minister in order that it may preserve its independence and do its job appropriately.
As the minister has been asked by the treasury board to look at his ministry to determine which parts of the ministry shall be dismantled or cut back, would the minister assure the House that the investigations and enforcement branch of the Ministry of the Environment first of all will not be reduced in size; second, will not be reduced in its mandate; and third, will be retained as a totally independent branch of the ministry and not integrated with other parts of the ministry as a so-called cost-saving measure?
Hon Bud Wildman (Minister of Environment and Energy): As the member will know, all ministries of the government are playing a role in the expenditure control plan of the provincial government, and the Ministry of Environment and Energy is playing a part in that.
I think, though, that he will know that the cuts we have made have been made in such a way as to ensure that we will carry out our mandate for environmental protection and to ensure that the responsibilities of the Ministry of Environment and Energy are met. As a matter of fact, certain environmental groups have expressed the fact that they believe that the cuts have been made in such a way that our mandate will indeed continue to be met.
Mr Allan K. McLean (Simcoe East): I have a petition here. Enclosed are photocopies of 586 names and signatures of persons in my constituency who signed cards concerning the report of the Task Group of Abortion Service Providers, and it's from Campaign Life Coalition.
"Whereas the citizens of Ontario have not been consulted regarding the introduction of legalized gambling casinos despite the fact that such a decision is a significant change of government policy and was never part of the mandate given to the government by the people of Ontario,
"That the government immediately cease all moves to establish gambling casinos and that appropriate legislation be introduced into the assembly along with a process which includes significant opportunities for public consultation and full public hearings as a means of allowing the citizens of Ontario to express themselves on this new and questionable initiative."
Mr Randy R. Hope (Chatham-Kent): I have with me today 4,200 signatures that have been circulated over a four-week period, which is addressed to the Speaker of the House and the Parliament of Ontario. It is, the undersigned support the voluntary use of bicycle helmets but are opposed to the province's implementing the mandatory use of bicycle helmets. It is also signed by a number of people throughout my riding and throughout Kent county, and it is also signed by our future voters of the province of Ontario who are opposed to the mandatory use of bicycle helmets.
"General Motors' announcement to close the foundry operations in St Catharines, with the resultant loss of 2,300 jobs, adds to the growing devastation of the vital manufacturing sector in the Canadian economy. The spinoff effects will result in four to six lost jobs in other sectors for every lost job in auto. The foundry closure also puts the remainder of General Motors' St Catharines operations in serious jeopardy, which has a total combined employee population of 9,000 hourly and salaried workers. We strongly urge the Ontario government to intervene in all possible manners to stop the erosion of jobs and the economic base of our province and, in particular, the Niagara region."
"Whereas in 1923, seven Ontario bands signed the Williams Treaty, which guaranteed that native peoples would hunt and fish according to provincial and federal conservation laws, like everyone else; and
"When discussing the future of Bruce A, to consider that the undersigned are in full support of the continued operation of all the units at Bruce A. Furthermore, we support the expenditure of the required money to rehabilitate the Bruce A units for the following reasons:
"In comparison to other forms of generation, nuclear energy is environmentally safe and cost-effective. Rehabilitating Bruce A units is expected to achieve $2 billion in savings to the corporation over the station's lifetime. This power is needed for the province's future prosperity.
This has been endorsed by several organizations, including the Bruce Provincial Liberal Association and others, including the municipal governments and labour groups in the area, and I have affixed my name to the petition.
"When discussing the future of Bruce A, to consider that the undersigned are in full support of the continued operation of all the units at Bruce A. Furthermore, we support the expenditure of the required money to rehabilitate the Bruce A units for the following reasons:
"In comparison to other forms of generation, nuclear energy is environmentally safe and cost-effective. Rehabilitating Bruce A units is expected to achieve $2 billion in savings to the corporation over the station's lifetime. This power is needed for the province's future prosperity.
"When discussing the future of Bruce A, to consider that the undersigned are in full support of the continued operation of all of the units at Bruce A. Furthermore, we support the expenditure of the required money to rehabilitate the Bruce A units for the following reasons:
"In comparison to other forms of generation, nuclear energy is environmentally safe and cost-effective. Rehabilitating Bruce A units is expected to achieve $2 billion in savings to the corporation over the station's lifetime. This power is needed for the province's future prosperity.
Mr Noel Duignan (Halton North): I have a photocopied petition signed by some 989 names of persons in my riding who have signed petition cards concerning the task force group on abortion services. It's being submitted by Campaign Life Coalition.
"When discussing the future of Bruce A, to consider that the undersigned are in full support of the continued operation of all of the units at Bruce A. Furthermore, we support the expenditure of the required money to rehabilitate the Bruce A units for the following reasons:
This, as I have indicated, is supported by various organizations, including labour groups, business groups, the several riding associations previously mentioned and several municipal governments. I have affixed my name to the petition.
Mr Murray J. Elston (Bruce): I must note while I'm reading the petitions today on Bruce A that we do anticipate in very short order that there will be several petitions to come here in the days ahead in support of the continued existence of Centralia College. But with respect to the over 15,000 supporters of this petition, I wish to read the following:
"When discussing the future of Bruce A, to consider that the undersigned are in full support of the continued operation of all of the units at Bruce A. Furthermore, we support the expenditure of the required money to rehabilitate the Bruce A units for the following reasons:
"Whereas the residents of Sutton-By-The-Lake feel it should be a priority of this government to release the report and to take action to bring forward legislation on the following issues that surround land-lease communities;
"We, the undersigned, petition the Legislative Assembly of Ontario to follow through and to release the committee report to the communities and to propose legislation to give adequate protection to the individuals of these land-lease communities."
In addition to councils, chambers of commerce, business associations and labour groups, riding associations and school boards, I have affixed my name in support of this petition, this particular one being one instalment in a series containing over 15,500 signatures in support of Bruce A. The people herein listed come from Whitby, Ajax, Toronto, Unionville and other places that are removed from the Bruce area, but that know of the importance of Bruce A to the future prosperity of the province.
Mr Murray J. Elston (Bruce): Mr Speaker, I just rise to ask your direction. I have been requested by constituents to advise all members of the Legislative Assembly that the International Plowing Match will be held in Bruce county on September 21 and that there is a special invitation to all members to attend on Tuesday for the opening ceremonies.
Mr Chris Stockwell (Etobicoke West): Mr Speaker, on a point of order: I ask if there's a precedent here with respect to having a junior minister in a ministry who should be here at this time for carriage of this particular piece of legislation. I can understand the minister not being here, but we've never been in a situation with a junior minister. We are now, and would it not be appropriate that if it is not the minister, then the junior minister must be in the House at the time legislation is being dealt with?
Mr Stockwell: Mr Speaker, on the point of order: The point I was trying to make was that it's either the minister or the second in charge who has to be in the House during carriage of legislation. Now that we have junior ministers, it would make sense to me that it's either the minister or the person who's second in charge: a parliamentary assistant if there's no junior minister, but if there's a junior minister, one or the other must be in the House, one or the other, the minister or the person who is second in charge in that ministry.
The member who is standing in his place today and introducing the bill is not the person who's second in charge in that ministry who has carriage in this House. I would ask, Mr Speaker, considering the fact that there is a minister and a junior minister, would it not be acceptable that one or the other must be here, that it's no longer the parliamentary assistant's role?
The Deputy Speaker: I have just explained to you that we're totally within the rules. He is the parliamentary secretary and therefore he has the right to represent the minister. I will not entertain that point of order any more. Mr Hayes.
Mr Pat Hayes (Essex-Kent): Thank you, Mr Speaker. I don't believe this is setting any type of precedent. I think one of the things the public really wants to know, and I'm sure the opposition, is that parliamentary assistants are exactly that: They're assistants to the ministers, and they have certain responsibilities. I'm looking forward to carrying out that responsibility.
As many of my colleagues will recall, the throne speech emphasized that this government's top priority is putting Ontario back to work. There's a very important part of the 10-point plan, which includes sustaining the environment by encouraging the emergence and growth of green industries.
My colleague the Minister of Environment and Energy introduced ambitious new regulations last week that will help ensure that Ontario meets a 50% waste reduction target by the year 2000. The regulations require businesses and municipalities to recycle more and to reduce the amount of solid waste going to landfill sites.
Today I'm introducing for second reading Bill 7, the legislation that will enable municipalities to implement these new regulations. Bill 7 gives municipalities increased powers to develop and operate comprehensive waste management programs, particularly the 3R programs. The bill amends the Municipal Act, the Regional Municipalities Act, 13 regional acts and the Municipal Affairs Act.
We know that many, indeed most, municipalities already have the 3R programs in place, but existing powers are inadequate for developing comprehensive waste management systems geared to waste reduction, and most municipalities lack explicit 3R powers.
In introducing Bill 7 for first reading, Municipal Affairs Minister Ed Philip noted, "It is important that communities have the tools they need to continue with innovative, effective and long-range waste management programs." Indeed, the Association of Municipalities of Ontario told us that municipalities clearly support this legislation which, in their words, "represents a close fit with the recommendations the association has made in the past for clear municipal legislative authority for waste management activities."
We've also received support in principle for the bill from the Ontario Waste Management Association, representing more than 250 private waste management firms. The Ontario Waste Management Association's members contributed numerous suggestions during our consultations that are reflected in Bill 7. I might add that they do have some concerns, and we'll be looking at amendments to address those particular concerns from the waste management association.
Under the amendments to the Municipal Act, municipalities can establish and operate facilities for all waste management activities: collecting, reducing, reusing, recycling and waste disposal. They can charge user fees for waste collection and disposal. They now have powers to enter potential waste management sites to conduct surveys and soil tests. Accompanying these entry powers, of course, are procedural safeguards to protect the rights of property owners. Penalties for breaching municipal waste bylaws have been increased, and municipalities can market products made from waste materials.
Our legislation goes a lot further. We know that even in areas where the 3R powers already exist, they are vague and unclear about how the powers are distributed between the two tiers of municipal government in regional municipalities.
We have addressed this issue. Bill 7 clarifies that whatever level of government is currently responsible for waste disposal sites has the power to operate the 3R facilities. For example, in Metro, the upper tier currently has the power to dispose of waste; now it gets the power to process recyclables. In addition, upper tiers can assume any waste management authority from the lower tiers -- for example, collection -- but only if certain voting requirements are met.
I know that financial considerations are on everyone's mind these days. In fact, we have been asked, why give power when there's too little money to pay for waste management programs? Just as an example, Ontario spends about $33 per household a year for the blue box program. That cost, I submit, is a relative bargain, but the cost of not reducing and recycling is even higher. If we don't reduce, reuse and recycle, we end up sending more waste to landfill sites, and nobody wants that.
We have been asked about user fees which our legislation gives municipalities the power to charge. Of course, people pay for garbage services now through their property taxes. Our new legislation, however, allows municipalities to compute and levy these fees in a different way if they so choose. The great benefit of user fees is that they reward people for reducing the wastes they generate. But let me make this point clear: It's up to municipalities to decide whether they want to establish a user-fee system; our legislation simply ensures they have the authority to do so.
We also recognize that municipalities, like the provincial government, are facing unprecedented financial constraints these days. Despite these hardships, the Ministry of Environment and Energy plans to contribute its 3R financial and technical support programs for municipalities, which accounted for about a quarter of the cost to run 3R programs in 1991.
The government will also be looking very carefully at a more appropriate way of financing the system. Too much of the burden of cost is on the taxpayer. More of the costs need to be shouldered by those who introduced disposable products and packaging into the marketplace in the first place.
Our enabling legislation is both timely and necessary. Municipalities told us that they need and want these powers, and we have listened to those municipalities. This is something they have wanted for a long, long time.
I know the opposition parties do have some concerns; of course, those who did sit down who were willing to discuss it, not just the ones who want to automatically criticize things. There were some concerns in regard to the voting process and there are some other areas about the flow. Some of these areas we feel we can certainly address in the committee. We look forward to amendments to address those particular concerns from the opposition, and I don't see too much problem in going along with some of those recommendations they have made.
Mr Bernard Grandmaître (Ottawa East): I listened with great interest to the member for Essex-Kent, who today is representing the Minister of Municipal Affairs because this is partly a Municipal Affairs and partly a Ministry of Environment and Energy bill. I agree with most of what he said. I think every municipality in the province of Ontario is very much interested in the 3Rs and also in resolving the waste management problems that exist in the province of Ontario.
My biggest concern is who will pay in the long run. The member just mentioned that municipalities are overtaxed and sick and tired of paying more taxes. We were told this morning -- or at noon -- at a briefing that the program of providing municipalities with more moneys will continue, but when you read the newspapers, how municipalities are being treated by the expenditure control plan and also the social contract, I'm just wondering, how will municipalities afford to continue to provide these services? I'm especially thinking of the smaller municipalities.
As I mentioned before, I think every municipality wants to respect the environment, and most of the programs we're addressing today were all started about four and a half years ago by the previous Minister of the Environment, the famous Minister of the Environment, the member for St Catharines, Mr Bradley, and today we're simply applying what Mr Bradley had initiated.
Mr Grandmaître: In some way, Mr Minister, I do support a lot of the recommendations, but again I think this government, your government, will have to provide municipalities with better answers as to the cost and the implementation.
Mr Grandmaître: Yes, thank you. I have two memos before me from AMO: one dated April 21, "AMO supports new waste management powers for municipalities," and one from April 29 saying, "AMO critical of timing of new waste management regulations," and they're absolutely right.
If this government keeps cutting back municipalities on unconditional grants, and the social contract, municipalities want to be assured that these great programs will be in place for many years to come.
So the question of AMO is very simple. They don't trust the government. That's the problem. Many promises were made by this government and very few were kept, and now municipalities in the province of Ontario are very sceptical of what the government is trying to say and do.
I think what the minister or the government is trying to do in a different fashion is really to impose some of their will on municipalities. I realize that municipalities were seeking more powers, but at the same time, they want to know who will pay for this, because this government has said repeatedly, no more downloading on municipalities.
In my own area, my region, the regional government of Ottawa-Carleton will be losing 15%, will have to increase taxes by 15% if the social contract and the expenditure control plan go through -- a 15% tax increase. That means between $10 million and $12 million.
The Fair Tax Commission was supposed to relieve property taxpayers in the province of Ontario, and now I hear that the Fair Tax Commission cannot resolve this problem, and also the school tax problem. All these reports have been on the minister's desk -- the Treasurer, or the Minister of Finance -- for a number of months and very little is being done.
Again, I repeat, this is one of the reasons municipalities are so reluctant -- and yet they want to do the right thing -- to accept this program blindly. I was glad to hear the parliamentary assistant say that it will go before a committee and some amendments will be introduced.
I want to talk about these tax increases and maybe service cuts in my own region, for the simple reason that more and more programs are being imposed. My regional chair, addressing Mr Rae, "'They're the most incompetent people I've ever seen in government' Clark fumed" -- my regional chair. Also he said, "The entire provincial cabinet should be dumped into the Kingston landfill site."' That's how he feels about this government, for the simple reason that municipalities, regional governments, were promised: "No more downloading. We will support you and your programs."
The Premier of this province doesn't know what to do with his new plans, because very few of us know, and very few municipalities in the province of Ontario really know, what the social contract is all about. Even the Premier yesterday in Hamilton told the mayor of Hamilton that there could be exemptions. Imagine, there could be exemptions. Now, for how many municipalities?
Mr Grandmaître: I think it's very unfair that some municipalities can find or enjoy some exemptions while 50% or 75% of our municipalities cannot enjoy the same exemptions. I find this very unfair. If AMO is now asking these questions, as late as April 29, I think the ministry, I think the minister, should have come clean with AMO and provided it with all the answers. They're still questioning the program.
I'm anxious for the member for Essex-Kent to try and enlighten this House and tell us how these extra services in some municipalities will be paid for if the social contract cuts back on the number of transferred dollars, such as unconditional grants.
Mr Speaker, I know other people want to address this very important bill, which we will support today, but we are anxious to meet in committee and go through this bill clause by clause so that we can have more input.
Mr Dave Johnson (Don Mills): I rise to talk about Bill 7 today, and I might say that many of the objectives, of course, that are contained in this bill and are contained within the whole area of responsibility of recycling -- many of those responsibilities and objectives -- would be shared by myself and by the Progressive Conservative caucus.
I might say, from my experience municipally, that the municipalities have eagerly gone into the program of recycling and have indeed put resources towards it and have organized very successful programs right across this province of Ontario.
Speaking of the municipality that I represented myself until very recently, we implemented almost five years ago -- it will be five years ago this fall -- a blue box program in the borough of East York. That blue box program carries through to today and collects a great amount of recyclable material: paper, cans, glass, cardboard, PET. I can say that the participation rate in the borough of East York is excellent. There have been studies done that show that over 90% -- I think about 92% or 93% -- of the people of the borough of East York who have blue boxes participate at least once a month in this particular program.
I can say that the participation rate right across Metropolitan Toronto is excellent, perhaps not quite as high as that, but people take the program seriously; municipalities take the program seriously.
I might also say that this program actually was instituted, in a sense, in East York many years ago. We think of the blue box program as being very recent, but I can tell you that when I first came into political life about 20-some-odd years ago, in East York we instituted a paper collection system at that time. Cans were not involved, nor was cardboard, nor was glass, but there was a program which involved, those many years ago -- about 20 years ago -- collecting paper, selling the paper and keeping it out of the landfills of the province of Ontario.
This, again, was a program that was supported quite well, even back those many years ago, by the people of East York. The problem was then, and the problem to a certain degree remains today, that the price fluctuated, the price that could be achieved as revenue for selling the newspaper. At some points in time the price was quite reasonable. There was revenue that would come back to offset the cost of the program. But we went through periods where the revenue dropped and you could barely give the paper away to process it those many years ago. As a result, we had neither the facilities to store the paper nor the financial ability to fund the program without some revenue coming in. So the program, basically, was on and off, but nevertheless it was a program that carried through the years.
Today, East York, as do many other municipalities across this province, has programs other than the blue box program. There is a composting program that's very successful here within Metropolitan Toronto. That has two facets to it. One is that we have attempted to distribute and share the cost with the provincial government. It was a provincial and municipal cost-sharing program to try to encourage people to install backyard home composters. This was a very successful program and remains today a very successful program.
A great number of people in the borough of East York, a great number of people in Metropolitan Toronto, and I'm sure across the province of Ontario, have those backyard home composters and they divert a significant amount of waste from the landfill sites.
In addition to that, there is a program through Metropolitan Toronto to pick up hazardous waste. Perhaps this is the one area -- and I'm a little bit saddened that we don't focus more, and that there hasn't been a focus on household hazardous waste.I know in Metropolitan Toronto there is a program to pick up the household hazardous wastes, to have them processed so they don't get into the landfill sites. That, to my way of thinking, could be the number one source of pollution that we may encounter in the landfill sites.
If there are hazardous wastes, whether they be chemicals, whether they be paints, Varsols, any other form of pesticide, herbicide, anything of that nature that finds its way into the landfill sites, ultimately there's a chance that those hazardous wastes will find their way either into the groundwater or at least into the soil and certainly cause problems in future years, and that's something we certainly want to avoid.
My concern is, when we talk about this whole issue of waste disposal, somehow I don't think we highlight that aspect of the problem enough. That's an issue that we don't seem to focus on to the degree that I believe is essential.
There's no question that some people in this province of Ontario are not aware of how they should dispose of hazardous waste. There are some people who are not even sure what constitutes a hazardous waste and that they should be looking at special means to dispose of it. Perhaps that's something we could discuss at committee as well, Mr Speaker, because I certainly will be supporting that and calling for this bill to be discussed at the committee level.
The public acceptance is very high in terms of environmental issues, in terms of moving on the environment, but I must say at the same time -- I think this is what has been stressed by the previous speaker -- the public has also a very high resistance to taxation. The public has a very high resistance to any more taxes. What we need to be concerned about in looking at bills of this nature, Bill 7, is there has to be not just a one-pronged approach but at least a two-pronged approach, one that concerns itself in this case with the environment, but a second concern is the affordability and who pays.
Just drawing again from my experience in East York to outline the public acceptance, dealing with that aspect, two years ago almost to the day, I would suspect, we organized what was called an Environment Day in the borough of East York. During that day, we distributed home composters to the residents of the borough of East York.
Mr Dave Johnson: And we're still doing it, that's right. As a matter of fact, I might say this coming Saturday, May 8, is the next Environment Day in the borough of East York and there will be home composters there again for distribution to the people of East York.
By this point, of course, most of the general public will have received a home composter. As a matter of fact, about two years ago, during that first day, about 1,200 home composters were distributed; in the one day alone, about 1,200 home composters. In the fall of that year, about another 1,000 home composters were delivered during an Environmental Week that we held in the month of September. So just during those two short periods of time, there were over 2,000 home composters that were distributed just to the people within the municipality I formerly represented.
I might say at the Environment Day we also invited people to bring in their hazardous waste. If there was anything within their cabinets, in their workshops, in their homes, in their garages, that they felt should not be put out with the general waste, should not find its way into a landfill site, then bring it in. We organized the municipality of Metropolitan Toronto to have the hazardous waste vehicles present and we organized that those who were qualified to deal with household hazardous waste would be present as well and we invited the general public to bring those wastes in.
I might say that the response was enormous. The response was absolutely enormous. People brought in all sorts of cans and containers and batteries and things you could hardly imagine. They had been storing them in their houses, they didn't know what to do with them, but this was an opportunity. They brought them in and they flooded the parking lot. We could really hardly deal with them. There were just so many containers that the two vehicles and the half a dozen or so staff who were assigned to sort through this material were overwhelmed. I think that's an indication.
Another indication perhaps was that some people brought in materials that weren't hazardous. In their own minds they weren't sure. They'd been storing them. They weren't just too sure if it was or not, but some of the material was not hazardous. Again, it highlights this whole general concern.
That's a little bit of the experience I've had. I might say that we've followed up with an Environment Day last year as well and, as I mentioned, another Environment Day is coming up this Saturday. The response in all cases has been excellent, so people to this day do respond to environmental issues and are concerned about waste disposal. There's no question about it.
This bill, Bill 7, that has been put before us attempts to address this waste disposal issue in certain areas. It has been outlined by the member for Essex-Kent, I guess. It indicates that it will provide municipalities sufficient explicit authority to develop comprehensive waste management systems geared to waste reduction. The purpose is to help to meet the provincial target to reduce the waste going to our disposal facilities here in the province of Ontario by 25%, which I gather it's been construed that we met by 1992 vis-à-vis 1987 levels, and by 50% below those 1987 levels by the year 2000.
The preamble goes on that the municipalities have been undertaking 3Rs activities. They do not all have the full range of explicit 3Rs powers necessary to do so and some of the municipalities have been reluctant to expand their 3Rs activities to develop capital-intensive waste management facilities. Capital-intensive waste management facilities -- there's a key that I'm going to come back to in a few minutes.
It goes on to say that they're given adequate and explicit legislative authority in this area and the bill provides all municipalities with expanded powers to develop comprehensive waste management systems including powers needed to engage in a wide range of 3Rs activities.
That's all very nice. The problem is -- and it's been alluded to already here today -- who pays? How do we somehow organize all these lovely activities so that they are affordable, because if they're not affordable, then the whole house of cards breaks down. The municipalities are given the power here in Bill 7, and through some of the regulations associated with Bill 143 there's a mandate to proceed with the program right across the province of Ontario. Municipalities must proceed; they must have a 3Rs program.
Let's look at some of the individual areas. I think, in terms of the blue box program itself, which involves blue boxes, some 3 million blue boxes, I believe, across the province of Ontario, which involves the blue domes, which are used for apartment buildings, which involves the recycle trucks to collect the material, these are all expensive items.
To date, there has been a cost-sharing arrangement to fund the capital side of this program. It's been shared one third with the municipality, one third with the province of Ontario and one third with Ontario Multi-Material Recycling Inc -- one third with OMMRI. The problem has been over the past couple of years -- and again, when we talk about funding, we have already encountered a problem and we don't seem to be addressing this issue through this bill. I haven't heard any specific ideas as to how we're funding this particular issue. OMMRI, who have been brought into this fund-sharing situation, have been unable to fund their one third of the scheme.
I'm looking at the notes of the annual general meeting of OMMRI. OMMRI, I might add, is composed of some 200 members. These members come from the daily and weekly newspapers, publishers and printers, from grocery distributors, from manufacturers and suppliers of grocery and related products, the manufacturers and bottlers and distributors of soft drinks and their suppliers, the manufacturers and suppliers of plastic products and packaging and the manufacturers and suppliers of packaging and packaging materials. This is the private sector we're talking about, the private sector that would be involved largely with packaging materials, who certainly have a stake in this whole issue of waste reduction.
Now, what has happened is that three million blue boxes have been provided through the province of Ontario with OMMRI, so I don't want to leave the impression that OMMRI hasn't made an excellent contribution to the blue box program in the province of Ontario. Three million households have been involved, according to OMMRI's report, and I suspect that's correct. This represents about 80% of Ontario's current population.
I'm not 100% sure how those numbers are derived. I know that there are a great number of apartment buildings in Metropolitan Toronto that, while they may have access to a facility within the area, do not have a facility associated with that particular building. They do not have a blue dome that is located right on their particular property, which is very convenient to those tenants. There may be one in the general neighbourhood that they can go to and put the material in, but there's not one that's particularly handy. So when the figure is quoted as 80% of the population, I suspect that it may not be speaking to tenants.
I would go on to say that OMMRI has contributed $35 million, according to their report -- and I see the minister nodding his head in agreement -- to build this province's recycling infrastructure. About $23 million of that has come from the soft drink industry -- $35 million in total. However, that funding has come up short. Going into 1992, there was $4 million in requests within the blue box program that could not be satisfied. Municipalities had put forward requests to expand the blue box program, probably more often than not in terms of apartment buildings, I suspect, and the requests could not be satisfied. The money was simply not there.
During 1992, money was raised through the private sector, through OMMRI, to address about $3 million of those commitments. By the end of the year there was $1 million that remained outstanding, but during the course of that year there were a further $4 million in requests that came in, so that at the present time, if my arithmetic is right, there was actually about $5 million by the end of last year that there remained unsatisfied, and those constitute a backlog now where there is a desire to move, but the money isn't there.
My suspicion is that this is going to be a problem that continues and that some action is going to have to be taken. We're not told precisely what that action is through the discussion with regard to this bill, but there is a shortfall, and this program is not going to be successful unless that money is found somewhere.
Again, my suspicion is that many of the members of OMMRI, perhaps those associated with the grocery industry or plastics industry or whatever, are desiring to reach some sort of agreement with the province of Ontario. They're not charitable organizations, let's face it, so they don't put money simply in for the sake of putting money in. They need to know what sort of an understanding, what sort of an agreement they can get with the province of Ontario so that they can carry on their business, so that they can make the wheels of our economy go, create jobs etc.
Again, the feedback that I'm getting is that they're unable to reach that sort of understanding, that they're unable to reach that agreement, but here we are proceeding in this area, proceeding to either mandate requirements, proceeding when there's a backlog, perhaps, of $5 million or more, and we haven't got those agreements with the private sector in place, and I'm not sure how successfully they're being negotiated, frankly.
To move on, the whole program, if we're going to achieve the 50% reduction by the year 2000, there are other requirements that will certainly have to be met, and the first I will speak to will involve material recovery facilities.
The material recovery facilities are required to accept waste, sort it out and pull out what's recyclable. Of course, there will be some material that will not be recyclable and it will have to be disposed of, either at a landfill site or perhaps, in some day and age maybe, by incineration. Who knows?
The material recovery facilities are very expensive. In Metropolitan Toronto I believe there's one facility in operation at the present time, and there are different types of material recovery facilities as well.
I have a report from the commissioner of works for the municipality of Metropolitan Toronto, and it outlines the costs involved. This again is important in this whole area, because if we're going to proceed and be environmentally conscious, which we all agree with, at the same time we have to understand the costs.
The report states that a minimum of two material recovery facilities, MRFs for short, and one composting plant will be required to meet provincial waste diversion targets. Two material recovery facilities and one composting plant. The two MRFs and one composting plant will have a through-put capacity of 500 tonnes per day, or 130,000 per year, with 75% of the capacity dedicated to the residential material and 25% of the capacity going to the ICI sector, the industrial, commercial and institutional sector.
Those facilities would have a capital cost, in the case of the MRFs, the material recovery facilities, of about $23 million, and it's broken down as $15 million for the construction of the plant itself and, unless the land is free, then they've assigned another $8 million for the cost of the land. If construction is on a municipal property, I suppose, or maybe provincial property, then perhaps the cost of land isn't relevant, but that's the kind of cost we're looking at.
This kind of plant, I might say, is the simplest kind. This kind of plant basically takes recyclable material that's all thrown together -- paper, cans, glass and sorts them out -- that's the easy job -- sorts them out and redirects the paper to one area and the cans to another area and the glass to another area and then on it goes to be processed.
The more complicated, the second-generation MRF, I might say, is more expensive. The second-generation MRF will take mixed waste, the kind of waste that would be in the green bags today, and attempt to separate it out. Of course, the recovery rate will be quite different because it has to deal with many different types of waste.
The cost associated with such a facility is in the $30- million to $40-million range; $30 million to $40 million for such a facility. The cost of a composting plant, I might add, is about $60 million, and that's a plant that will take all compost material. It'll take leaves, it'll take small branches, hedge clippings, anything that's collected and sent to composting. It would also take waste from restaurants, food distributors and that sort of thing -- $40 million to construct the plant for such a facility, and they've estimated about $20 million for the land because you need a big piece of land for a composting facility.
That's just speaking to the capital costs. There are operating costs, of course, associated with all of these facilities, and I might just say that it's estimated that the recovery facility, the MRF, would operate at a loss -- the simple one, the one just dealing with recyclable material -- of about $2 million a year. That's for 500 tonnes per day. The composting plant would also operate at about the same sort of loss: a 500-tonnes-per-day facility at about a $2-million loss a year for such a facility. So that money has to be found.
In terms of the blue box program itself, on the operating side -- not speaking of the capital side now but on the operating side, the day-to-day operation -- there again is a cost-sharing formula with the province of Ontario and with the municipalities, but there is a considerable cost. I know that within Metropolitan Toronto at one time we estimated that the cost to pick up a tonne of recycled material would be about $200. The Ontario Waste Management Association has reckoned this cost -- and I think they're just talking about collection; I don't think they're talking about processing -- to be about $129 a tonne. Either way, you can see that there's quite a cost.
The revenue derived from a tonne of recycled materials is very low by comparison. In Metropolitan Toronto it has been estimated to be about $10 a tonne in terms of revenue, so the cost greatly exceeds the revenue. There is a huge subsidy that's required: well over $100 a tonne that's required for each and every tonne of recycled material.
I might say that at the present time this is an issue within Metropolitan Toronto because the municipality of Metropolitan Toronto has been covering the cost of the shortfall associated with the collection and processing of the blue box material, but it has a five-year agreement with the municipalities to do this and that five-year term expires either later this year or early next year, depending on the municipality.
I talked with the mayor of North York this morning and he, in particular, is most concerned about this. He estimates that the cost that will be placed on the taxpayers of North York next year when the contract expires will be in the area of $5 million to $10 million. He's made a commitment to the people of North York that there will not only be a 0% tax increase this year but there'll be a 0% tax increase next year, and he's not looking forward to having to assume $5 million to $10 million of additional costs to pay for the blue box program and the revenue shortfall associated with the shortfall.
In other municipalities the same sort of situation will crop up. In East York I suspect the shortfall will be somewhere in the area of $1.5 million to $2 million. The municipalities are in a bind. This is going to mean probably about five to six mills on a local municipal budget to pick up this shortfall.
So, again, while we're talking about the environmental aspects of this bill and the progress we're making in that regard, it has to be sustainable. It has to be financially sustainable, and the municipalities are certainly going to be put in the squeeze.
One interesting aspect of how they might deal with that, I might add, pertains to a press conference that was held yesterday right in this building by the Ontario Waste Management Association. They have done a study where they polled some different municipalities and some different private companies in the waste management business and they found out that the private sector can provide service in the waste field at a considerably reduced cost to the public sector.
Their results were released yesterday. I think they were fairly widely quoted in the press today. They have found that in terms of general waste collection, public operators experience costs as much as 75% greater than the private sector. Public sector wages are 19% higher --
The wages are 19% higher, the benefits are 42% of the base rate for the public sector and they're only 25% for the private sector. So there's quite an extra gap there to pay for benefits, and when you throw in paid holidays and absenteeism, there's another 7% difference less for the private sector.
They also claim that productivity is greater. I do know that some of the aspects of the productivity they take credit for would be a little difficult in some communities. For example, I know they use very large vehicles to collect the waste, and this would not be acceptable in certain municipalities.
Nevertheless, they say that for residential general waste collection the total cost per tonne is $27 for the private operators and for public operators it's $50 a tonne, so there's a difference of about 75%.
I guess, if we're looking at squeezing the municipalities, if we're looking at putting extra costs on to municipalities that they're going to have a problem bearing, that's probably what they're going to have to do. It's perhaps something they should be doing at any rate, but they're going to look at contracting out to keep the costs down.
The questions we run into are: Who pays for the capital recycling program, who pays for the large facilities that'll be required to sustain a waste reduction program that will achieve the provincial initiative, and who pays for the operating losses associated with these programs?
In terms of who pays for the capital recycling program, I've already indicated that OMMRI, Ontario Multi-Material Recycling Inc, is very concerned and the private sector is concerned. They're not the villains in this piece; they are businesses trying to survive in a very difficult economy. They have to meet the bottom line. They have to be able to survive financially, so they're not there just to be tapped endlessly to pay for expensive schemes. They create jobs.
Certainly, at a time when we have about 11% unemployment in this province, we need to be very cautious about imposing too many costs on our business sector. But that's the intention right now, I gather: to have the business sector pick up a good chunk of the capital costs of the recycling program. It'll be interesting to see if they're able to do that. It's an extra tax that they don't need.
Who is going to pay for the large facilities, the MRFs and the compost plants and that sort of thing? I think it's anticipated that these facilities will be paid out of tipping fees or else charges to the local municipality. The tipping fees will have to be put at a level to generate revenue; that the local municipalities will be charged for the tonnage of waste perhaps is another option, and the money will be derived to somehow pay for these very costly capital buildings.
Again, the problem here is that municipalities are not going to be able to afford this. If there are extra charges imposed on the municipalities -- they're struggling to keep their taxes down at a time when inflation is very low, at a time when taxpayers cannot afford more taxes, and they don't need any additional costs imposed on them to pay for expensive facilities.
In terms of generating revenue from the tipping fees, if the tipping fees are too high, which we've seen recently in southern Ontario, certainly, the private sector will simply not use the landfill site. The private sector will use other facilities. Unless there is some legislation that requires waste to be disposed in a certain landfill site -- this is generally termed flow control: waste that's created in a certain area must be deposited, both through the public sector and through the private sector, in a waste facility that serves that particular area -- unless flow control is instituted, then the private sector will certainly avoid landfill sites that have huge tipping fees and the revenue will not be raised. This bill does not speak to that. This bill does not come to grips with that whole issue, and I have to be critical of the bill in that regard.
You may wonder, where do they go if they're not disposing of their garbage here in southern Ontario? Well, I can tell you where they go to avoid the huge tipping fees. They go to an incinerator in the state of New York, the Occidental incinerator. They also go to many landfill sites. They go to landfill sites in Erie, Pennsylvania, and Detroit, Michigan. They ship it to Waterloo, New York, Seneca Meadows landfill. They ship it to Lewiston, New York. They ship it to Ohio; there's a landfill in Ohio that's receiving waste from Ontario. They ship it to Fort Wayne, Indiana. They ship it to Grand River Disposal landfill in Detroit, Michigan. They ship it to a landfill in Niagara Falls, New York. They ship it to the American landfill in Waynesburg, Ohio, and on and on it goes. They ship it to Green Tree landfill in Poland, Ohio.
That's where the waste is going today, because the landfill tipping fees are too high. Naturally, if you can pay $50 to $60 a tonne, including transportation fees, to have garbage disposed of in one of those sites in the United States or you pay $150 a tonne here in southern Ontario, then what's the choice? Now, some of the tipping fees have been reduced to about $90 a tonne, but nevertheless, that's still going to be a problem, because there's still an extra charge so they're still going to go south. I think if there's anticipation that the revenue's going to be generated to pay for these schemes from the tipping fees, then there's a real problem.
Just as an example of what's happening, there is a report from Metropolitan Toronto that indicates that in February 1991 there were almost 80,000 tonnes of garbage, paying the tipping fee, going into Metro landfill sites. By 1992, one year later, the tonnage had dropped from almost 80,000 tonnes down to about 13,000 tonnes. By 1993, just recently, in February, a year later again, the tonnage had dropped from the original 80,000 tonnes per day, I guess this is, -- this is a daily tonnage -- down to 6,000 tonnes. It had dropped an enormous amount, from about 80,000 tonnes down to 6,000 tonnes per day going into the landfill site to avoid a high tipping fee. All this waste is going down to the United States, and that's where it's being disposed of. As a result, the municipality of Metropolitan Toronto is losing about $150 million to $200 million a year in revenue because of the drop in the waste.
That money perhaps could have been used to pay for some of the facilities that will be required to satisfy the bills and the regulations that we've had before us by this government, but that money is not there, and where it's going to come from, I'd like somebody to tell me. Who's going to pay for that?
I'll just say a little bit about the user fee. It's anticipated that the local municipalities will impose a user fee on individual properties within their jurisdiction. It's been indicated by the member for Essex-Kent that this is not compulsory. This is something over which they have a say, they have a choice. The choice will be either to pay for it out of their general revenues -- put their taxes up -- or to pay for it from a user fee, I gather, which they would charge to each and every household and each and every business in the municipality.
I can say that any way you cut it, that's going to be viewed as being an extra tax by the people in this province, and it's going to put the municipalities in a very tight situation. Some may be doing it; the vast majority are not doing it. They're going to find it very difficult in this day and age to assign a user fee to every householder. People are going to rightfully consider this to be a tax. Frankly, they're getting too many taxes in this day and age, and they don't need another tax on top of the ones they already have.
In addition, I'd be interested to see how this works in apartment buildings. Somebody could explain how they're going to do that. I suppose they're proposing to shut off all the chutes that people use in apartment buildings, give people a bag and have them trot around outside and throw it into a bin. I don't know. I'm not sure this is practical within an area that has a very high percentage of apartment buildings.
I agree that there needs to be guidance in terms of this whole issue, and I personally agree that landfill disposal should be at the regional level. I know that at the present time, some local municipalities have that jurisdiction. In the Niagara region, for example, some local municipalities have that jurisdiction. I think that to some of them it's very worrisome. The environmental assessment process is very complex; they have a difficult time sorting through it.
My guess is that most local municipalities would say that the landfill issues, the disposal issues, should be at the regional level, and I don't dispute that. I don't, frankly, dispute that the processing and marketing of recycled materials should be at the regional level as well. I think there needs to be coordination in that. When we're talking about marketing paper and cans and glass and materials, this is something that should probably be organized and marketed on a broader basis to achieve constant markets, and the best markets that are possible.
Composting is another issue that probably should be handled at a regional level. Some local municipalities may be equipped to handle it, but the issue is one that's expensive and it's broad based and perhaps regional participation should be the way to go.
However, in terms of the collection -- the collection of blue box material, the collection of mixed waste -- I think there you will find a difference across the province of Ontario. In terms of the collection process, you will find that many local municipalities have been delivering this service, have been delivering it at a good cost and have the ability to deal closely with their ratepayers. If complaints come in, people know who they can get in touch with. They can get in touch with their local councillor and raise issues with their local councillor and get them resolved right on the spot. The collection process is one that in many municipalities is best dealt with at the local level.
I'm not saying that in some regions it doesn't make sense to do this at the regional level. What I'm saying is that across the province of Ontario, when we have such a varied nature in our municipalities, we'll find that both cases make sense, depending on which municipalities we're looking at. In some municipalities, the collection should be regional; in some municipalities, collection should be local.
Now, what's happened through this bill is that the regional municipalities have been given the authority to assume all aspects of waste management, right from the beginning to the end, from the collection phase right to the disposal phase. It varies by the region. In those regions such as Metropolitan Toronto and the Niagara region, where the regional councillors serve only on the regional government but don't serve on the local government, then the way the bill is structured today -- and I'm delighted to hear that the member for Essex-Kent has said there's some room for discussion on this -- the regional government can take over the collection without any input, without any say, from the local municipality.
I have to say, from my experience, that this is going to cause friction, that this is going to cause problems, in some local municipalities. I think that must be addressed before this bill is finalized. We have to give the say to the local municipalities and let them have input into this process, and that's not true in at least two of the regions. I hope that when this goes to committee we can resolve those issues and let the municipalities be involved.
In the other regions, where the regional councillors, excluding the mayors, also serve at the local level, and that would be the majority of the regions within the province of Ontario, there is some avenue for say from the local municipalities.
The way the act is structured, it permits the regions to take over all aspects of waste collection, all aspects of waste management, if the region votes in favour and if there is at least one vote from a majority of the local municipalities.
I have to say that's at least superior to the first situation that I described, in Metropolitan Toronto and Niagara, but still it's very little input from the local level to satisfy the region taking this over.
I would have to say that when this gets to committee, I'd want to take a look at that, and I think we should take a look in terms of broadening the local input into that process to make sure that we have a consensus. This is what we're trying to achieve: a consensus with the local municipalities and the regions. They can work together and they can mutually decide for their benefit how they want to proceed. Do they want the region to handle it all? Do they want the local municipality to have some part in this process? And it should be by consensus.
When we talk about the powers that have been given to municipalities, I couldn't take part in this debate without mentioning powers that have been taken away from municipalities. It's just interesting that in this sense, in this bill the thrust seems to be to give to some municipalities some additional powers. In many cases I support that and it's a good thing, but I can also say that in the past some powers have been taken away from municipalities in terms of waste management and it has not been a good thing. That has not been addressed here. I see no reference to that sort of situation and I think it should be discussed and pursued.
For example, I mention Bill 143; I mention the landfill search here within the GTA; I mention the fact that going back a few years ago, Metropolitan Toronto -- this would be prior to 1991 -- in the late 1980s and up to 1991 spent $5 million in a search for a landfill within the GTA: $5 million. This was a search that involved a very extensive environmental process, involved looking at landfills within the whole of the GTA and southern Ontario. It also involved looking at the Adams mine site, I might say, near Kirkland Lake.
But in 1991, as the municipalities, including Metropolitan Toronto, including the regions of Durham, York, Peel, were involved in a search for a landfill site, that authority was wrestled from them, taken from them and it was brought back here to the province of Ontario.
In 1992, we had the Waste Management Act, which set up the Interim Waste Authority and that waste authority then took over the search for a landfill site for the regions in the GTA. Now, not even two years later, I'm told that the cost of this search is some $35 million, or it will be $35 million by this June, $35 million in terms of cost to do a lot of the same work that the municipalities had already been undertaking at a much reduced cost.
Unfortunately, this $35 million, this money, is not only wasted but it's going to result in higher tipping fees, higher user fees, and again this is going to be felt back by the municipalities and by the private sector.
Mr Dave Johnson: Well, you know, I'm being told that it was cheap, but that certainly isn't the information I have from Metropolitan Toronto, that by the time -- and "cheap" too implies that there will be a successful result. It's interesting that in terms of the sites that have been found so far, they are almost identical to the sites that Metropolitan Toronto identified about two years earlier at a much-reduced cost. They're essentially the same sites. Let's see now: There are five sites in Durham and Peel and four in York region. In Durham, four of the five sites are located near the hamlet of Whitevale and the fifth site is located in the town of Newcastle.
I can recall back in those years serving on the Metropolitan Toronto council looking at sites in exactly those same locations at reduced cost and I can see that what's happening is that the citizens who live near those sites are rising up in arms. We see that the chair of Pickering Ajax Citizens Together -- they call themselves PACT -- is accusing the IWA of practising the 3Cs, which are cheap, close and convenient.
"It's time to take the gloves off. The fact that there is a shorter list doesn't make it any better" -- and it's referring to the short list of sites that have been identified through the provincial study -- " The process is still flawed. Now the government will really find out what is in store for them: civil disobedience. It's a foregone conclusion. There is going to be a horrendous fight with regard to any one of these locations within the GTA. The people will not accept them."
So, cheap: First of all we have to establish that in fact the government will be able to deliver on a site. It's my guess that there is a very high probability that it won't be able to deliver on a site, and in that case it's not very cheap. Even if they do deliver on a site, looking at the costs involved, I suspect the site in Kirkland Lake will look pretty good. I might add that some of the benefits of the site in Kirkland Lake by comparison -- and this site, I should say, is still being pursued by those who support it.
Metropolitan Toronto, for one, is very concerned that the province of Ontario will not have an alternative site when the current sites are full. They will not, going through this Interim Waste Authority process, be able to find a site, and in fact Metropolitan Toronto is continuing to put forward the Kirkland Lake site as an alternative in that event.
The site in northern Ontario in Kirkland Lake and the Adams mine: Recyclable products would've been directed to the proposed material recovery facility with an initial capacity of 120,000 tonnes per year. The blue box materials from the north would also have been processed at that site. The agreement would've provided for the establishment of an industrial park to develop the local recycling technologies in cooperation with the host communities and providing assistance to encourage recycling industries to locate there.
The northern Ontario solid waste management system project envisaged that up to 1.5 million tonnes of solid waste per year could have been transported by rail to that site -- 1.5 million tonnes a year. It would have created jobs, it would have created an industry in the north and it would have addressed the problem that I'm very fearful, through this whole process, will not be addressed as it is.
One area that has concerned the municipalities for some time concerns the problem of dumping. Purely and simply this is: If you put again the tipping fees up too high, if you charge too much for waste disposal, the waste will either go south to the United States or people will dump it illegally in parks, on the roadside or wherever.
The fines, through this bill, are being increased. I'm glad to see that. They're being increased for illegal dumping, for truckers I guess, or whoever is involved in this process -- they dump their illegal loads. The fines for an individual would be $10,000 for a first offence and $25,000 for subsequent offences; for companies, $50,000 and $100,000 for subsequent offences.
Certainly in my municipality we've seen many instances of this kind of problem. We've had to close off one road which led into an isolated area because dumping was so prevalent it simply couldn't be controlled. I recall an incident in the parking lot of a church just around the corner from me where there was a pile of --
Mr Dave Johnson: People have no respect. Isn't that the truth? A pile of earth was dumped illegally. The only way that this was rectified was that several weeks later, the police were sitting in the parking lot near the illegal pile, probably making out their daily reports, when a truck came into the site, rolled up beside it and attempted to dump a second load in the parking lot. The police officer got out of the car and asked the trucker what was he doing. He said he was dumping this material, he had to get rid of it, and it was brought to his attention that this was illegal. Through that process, the trucker had to remove both loads, the second load and the first load as well.
But this is right in the middle of an urban area, right in the parking lot of a church, and it shows the kind of problem we're running into. It shows the problem that happens if you put the price up too high, if you make people pay too much. This is what happens.
Mr Dave Johnson: Yes, maybe he can recycle them in the future. If the proceeds from the tire tax ever get put to good use, then maybe he'll have a gold mine there. But he has 200 tires to dispose of, he had a load of shingles, he had fridges, stoves and other general garbage. There is a real problem there.
The bill does speak to increasing the fines. It doesn't speak to ways of detecting the perpetrators, and I think that's where we need to focus some energies. In terms of those people who are dumping, how do we catch them in the act, how do we find them, how do we pursue this so that the fines can click in? I hope there are some good ideas in that regard, because that's becoming a real problem for a lot of municipalities.
I think perhaps I'll limit my comments to that at the present time. I did want to make sure, to the best of our ability, that this bill was going to be referred back to the committee. There are problems with regard to the financing, problems with regard to the jurisdiction between the regions and the local municipalities. There are also problems in terms of ensuring that the private sector has a role to play in this whole piece, because the private sector, from my experience, is able to deliver a product and a service at very economical costs.
When he talked about the costs, the regulations have been made more flexible. That will actually reduce the costs. For example, the north would not have to implement the 3Rs program for three years, and of course the depot system that they have would still be in place, and provincial funding will remain in place with no cuts. I think the member wanted to know that.
There are a couple of other areas here. The household hazardous waste that the member for Don Mills raised: Bill 7 permits municipalities to undertake programs to manage household hazardous waste right now. Of course, the Ministry of Environment and Energy does provide funding to municipalities to undertake household hazardous waste management initiatives.
I think the other issue was dealing with who is going to pay. I know that the member for Don Mills did mention the grocery products marketing commission, that it had some concerns. As a matter of fact, they have made a proposal to this province dealing with that issue, and they're willing to look at a model where they would assist to pay the capital cost and also the operating cost, and this government is reviewing that proposal at this present time.
The crucial point that the member for Don Mills raised was a point that he, as mayor of East York, has been dealing with for the last number of years, particularly surrounding the blue box program. I know the member was a member of the works committee at Metropolitan Toronto, and his knowledge of the program, the costs, the benefits is second to none in this House.
I would say that the issue that hasn't been dealt with by this government is the financial implications of the extension of this particular program we're discussing. When you talk about a hit of five or six mills on a municipality like East York, the flexibility of a municipality like East York to absorb the cost inherent in this program is very, very minimal.
The point that was made by the member for Don Mills that should not be overlooked by this government is that many municipalities, during the past few weeks, have taken great care and gone to great lengths to pass on no increase to the beleaguered taxpayers. With one fell swoop, in an ill-conceived, badly planned, financial fairy tale, the government's going to wipe out all that goodwill that's been established by those municipalities to keep the tax rate on the taxpayer to nothing.
So this particular initiative, I think, was enunciated very clearly by the member for Don Mills. It's ill-timed, it's underfunded and it's simply trying to placate a community out there that they've alienated with their half-baked game plan on landfill issues.
The member for Don Mills has raised a couple of interesting points, in particular around the cost issue. What I would like him to consider for a moment is the Ernst and Young study that was done about Kirkland Lake and the transfer of waste from Toronto to Kirkland Lake in the context of what it would cost.
When we look at the cost in that study, it clearly indicated that it was $750 million to run the garbage from Toronto to Kirkland Lake on the train and a further $750 million to run the transfer station in Vaughan. So for the people who are watching who live in Vaughan, under the Kirkland Lake scheme you're getting it one way or the other.
Mr Wiseman: The member for Etobicoke West doesn't like to hear this, but those are the numbers in the Ernst and Young study. I've read it; maybe he hasn't. But that $1.5 billion would have to come out of the taxpayers' pockets in Toronto. That is a huge hit on the local taxpayers. Local option is far more cost-efficient.
Just to have it broken down, currently it costs about $30 a tonne to run the Keele Valley landfill site and $30 a tonne to run the Brock West site. Metro is currently making money from the municipalities outside of Metro which have been subsidizing Metropolitan Toronto's waste management schemes for the last 20 years.
Mr Allan K. McLean (Simcoe East): I want to take a couple of minutes to respond to the speech by the member for Don Mills. It's one of his first major speeches in this Legislature and he certainly had his facts straight. It was a good speech, one that deserved a great deal of attention by the people listening.
I want to say that this Bill 7 is certainly going to create a great discussion when it gets to the committee stage. It's interesting to note that we were talking about waste management powers that are going to be available to the municipalities. In Simcoe county right now we have the great hearings going on in Midland with regard to site 41, something that's already cost $1 million or better. The cabinet has allowed that site 41 to be reopened, and the hearings now, my understanding is, could go right through until September, at great cost to many municipalities.
Since Bill 208, which gives the counties the authority to take over waste management, I don't know why we're looking at other sites when we've got a dozen sites or more that are now accepting waste. Why is the Ministry of Environment and Energy not looking at those sites and not having these great hearings with regard to site 41?
The member for Don Mills spoke about costs at great length and he spoke with regard to the transportation of garbage from Ontario to the States and to incinerators. When we look at the rail haul that has been proposed for Kirkland Lake and we look at the haulage that's taken place from here to the States, it certainly leaves this government options which it should be looking at, which I believe many people in Ontario want it to look at, which the people of Kirkland Lake want it to look at, and I know it will come to a decision which is proper.
Mr Dave Johnson: I guess I'm happy to hear from the member for Essex-Kent that the money will not be reduced in terms of the programs. I guess it's my position, though, that the money is insufficient at the present time. We're particularly going to see this when the local municipalities in many cases start picking up the costs that perhaps regional municipalities had been assuming. When we look at the inflation rate and the expectation of the taxpayer to keep taxes very low, there is going to be a whole lot of trouble. In addition, user fees are still going to be considered as an extra form of taxation and they're not going to be well accepted in this day and age. So I think there is going to be a huge revenue problem and funding problem, notwithstanding the member's comments.
With regard to the northern Ontario solid waste management system project at Kirkland Lake, I have a report from the municipality of Metropolitan Toronto that considers all facets of this particular application and shows a cost per tonne of $51.73 to dispose of waste in the Adams mine site. That is more expensive than today, for sure, there's no question about that, but I will be interested to see that in comparison to any site that may come out of the process through the Interim Waste Authority.
I look at some of the comments in the report coming out of the ministry that the key issue for the participants from the Vaughan area of the study pertain to social impacts associated with the future site because of the number of nearby residences and the presence of a school, and there's concern with the compatibility with regard to protection of agricultural lands. The minister's going to have a real problem putting a site in this area, and the Adams site may seem very cheap by comparison.
Hon Mr Wildman: I want to congratulate the member for Don Mills on what really is his maiden speech and to say that he obviously took a great deal of care to research his position. He has experience at the municipal level that has been very helpful to him in making his views known to the House on behalf of his constituents and on behalf of his party, and I congratulate him on his initial intervention in the debate in this House.
I want to also say very clearly that I strongly support, obviously, the amendments to the Municipal Act that were tabled in the Legislature by my colleague the Minister of Municipal Affairs and that the member for Essex-Kent has brought forward for debate this afternoon.
The amendments for the first time will mean that all municipalities in Ontario have unquestioned powers to plan, develop and operate 3Rs facilities and to embark on aggressive reduce, reuse and recycle programs. As you know, last week I made an important announcement on new regulations relating to the 3Rs in this province that will become law in August, giving us some time to consult the municipal sector and the private sector on how we can implement the 3Rs program to make it the most comprehensive in Canada and perhaps in North America between now and August. That will then give southern Ontario municipalities approximately a year to implement the program, and then in northern Ontario the choice of two to three years for implementation because they are indeed farther from market.
A lot has been said so far in the debate that relates mainly to the announcement of regulations that I made last week and/or the Interim Waste Authority process in the greater Toronto area, particularly as it relates to Metropolitan Toronto waste, which doesn't directly relate to the bill my colleague has brought forward for second reading debate today.
Bill 7 will give municipalities increased powers to develop and operate comprehensive waste management programs, particularly the 3Rs, and I want to emphasize that this bill comes forward after extensive consultation with the municipalities across the province and after many concerns being expressed by the private sector as well about the need to know how the 3Rs programs are to be implemented at the municipal sector and also to know what the regulations are going to be. So this really does fit closely with the regulations that I announced in the House last week.
Really, I believe that the amendments meet the needs of the municipalities across Ontario and should be passed into law by the House. It will enable municipalities to ensure that we do in fact implement waste management programs. It will make it possible for us to reach the goal of diverting 50% of our waste from landfill sites by the year 2000.
We have met, as I announced a couple of weeks ago, the challenge of cutting by 25% the amount of waste going to landfill by the end of 1992, in comparison to the amounts in 1987, when every Ontarian was responsible for approximately one tonne of garbage each year. That was a great achievement, but the greater challenge is going to be to meet the next 25% and to cut by 50%.
It has been suggested that what is being proposed in these amendments is some sort of downloading from the province to the municipal sector. I know that my colleague the member for Don Mills alluded to that, perhaps not as forcefully as the Liberal critic for Municipal Affairs, the member for Ottawa East, who, when he made his short intervention in the debate, said he believed this was a kind of downloading, or could be. As my colleague the member for Essex-Kent has indicated, with regard to the implementation of the 3Rs, we are committed to maintaining the level of funding that has been provided by the provincial government, particularly for the blue box program, and we will not move away from that. In fact, the first year of an implementation of the blue box, the provincial government provides 50% of the cost, the second year 40% of the cost, and then subsequent to that, 33%, and we will maintain that. We are committed to do doing that.
What we're talking, though, in this bill is allowing municipalities the powers to get involved in more complex waste management programs than just the blue box. There has been a lot of concern expressed about what might be proposed by that minority of municipal governments that are not now involved or are only involved in a very restricted way in the 3Rs. There are a number of them, around 15 municipalities of a considerable size, and many of them are in northern Ontario. We've consulted with them about the implementation of the 3Rs and the implications of this bill, and I want to say that we've listened to their recommendations. The consultation process enabled us to draft amendments which would assist the municipalities in their 3Rs endeavours.
The amendments we're debating here today have the strong support of the Association of Municipalities of Ontario and the Ontario Waste Management Association. There have been comments raised that I want to deal with in a few moments about cost and so on, but it's important to recognize that the particular amendments we're debating here today have the support of those associations.
Because of the concerns raised by municipalities, we have given them the power, all municipalities, to establish and operate facilities for all waste management activities, including collection, reduction, recycling and waste disposal. We will require separation of waste and recyclables and we will give the municipalities the power to establish user fees and incentives for waste reduction. The municipalities will also be given the power to enter on to property, to conduct surveys and soil tests for waste management purposes, while safeguarding the rights of property owners and occupants.
The municipalities will also be able to market products made from waste materials, and I want to emphasize that it's going to be the responsibility both of the provincial government and of the private sector, in conjunction with the municipalities, as we move into the expanded 3Rs programs, to develop markets and determine how we can indeed market products that are in fact a resource and should be seen as a resource for our economy rather than as waste materials that should go to landfill.
The 3Rs regulations that I announced will help reduce Ontario's garbage production by two million tonnes per year by the year 2000. Also, we've made a commitment that we will simplify approvals for recycling facilities, and we will also be able to save money on waste disposal if we implement the 3Rs program.
The regulations, as we all know, will require blue box recycling, leaf and yard composting and home composting programs for municipalities with a population of more than 5,000. The municipal amendments that we're discussing today are the initial requirement for the implementation of this 3Rs program. Municipalities then will be able, once these have been passed, to carry out reducing, reusing and recycling of their waste in order to ensure that we don't continue the levels of landfill that we have now been experiencing.
It's important for us to recognize, as the member for Don Mills did, that the legislation will give municipalities the clear power to handle residential waste. As for waste generated by the ICI sector, the industrial, commercial and institutional sector, the provincial government will continue to look to the private waste industry to deal with those materials.
The amendments sort out the roles and responsibilities of regional and municipal governments. We've had different situations with regard to the regional municipality of Muskoka, for instance, than we've had with other regional municipalities, and certain lower-tier municipalities haven't had the power to do certain things that they wish to do. These amendments now make it clear. We believe the amendments will help the municipalities to tailor and implement waste reduction programs which will be appropriate to their communities and that the municipalities will be able to ensure that any measure required by them will be able to be carried on successfully.
I said that this has been the result of extensive consultation. This government consulted with the municipalities, with AMO, with private sector firms, with environmental groups and with individual citizens to ensure that these amendments were on the right track. The public consultation which was undertaken last year included 12 open houses and public meetings across the province. We received more than 100 written responses to the proposals.
As the situation stands now, some counties and a few regional municipalities that assume waste management powers find it difficult to exercise these powers because of service area restrictions on landfills. This restriction often prevents counties from moving waste in an effective manner to the most appropriate site.
That's why I propose to bring forth a regulation pursuant to the Environmental Protection Act to enable counties and those regions which assume powers under the proposed municipal amendments to increase service area and fill rates where the approved landfill's capacity is not exceeded. I emphasize that landfill capacities will not change, only the authority for counties to rationalize landfill capacities across the county so that rates of filling certain landfills may change. The overall capacity won't, but the rate of filling individual landfills may.
There's been a lot of discussion about how we can finance this, not the amendments we're debating here today but the expanded 3Rs program. It's obvious to me that while we've had some participation from the private sector, it has not been as consistent or as widespread as it perhaps should be.
Too much of the cost for dealing with waste management has been put on the shoulders of the taxpayers. It's obvious to me that if we take into account the concept that was accepted by the international community at Rio de Janeiro -- that is, that the polluter must pay -- private sector firms that put single-use, disposable products or packages on the market will have to take responsibility for dealing with those materials when they have been used and it should not fall to the taxpayer to have to deal with disposable products.
We do support the hierarchy of the 3Rs: to reduce, reuse and recycle. Important and successful as the blue box program has been, it is the third in the hierarchy. We've got to ensure that there are more reusable products on the market, and if there are companies that insist upon developing and putting on the market disposable products, then they've got to take a greater share in the cost of dealing with those products.
I think we can develop a partnership. The Grocery Products Manufacturers of Canada has a proposal that has been put forward for dealing with waste from their sector, and while we have some concerns about how it might be developed, we're prepared to discuss with them further how we might develop that partnership and have all of the players in that sector play a greater role. The partnership is essential if we want to see our waste action plan succeed. Many of the elements of the plan are now in place -- some of them began with the previous government -- and they are working. The blue box program is successful, but it can be made more successful and fairer.
In closing, I want to emphasize that I believe the amendments brought forward to the Municipal Act by the member for Essex-Kent today are a step in the right direction. To reach our goal of diverting the amount of waste going to landfill by at least 50% by the year 2000, municipalities must be given the powers and authority to carry out waste management programs. These amendments, which the municipalities have been asking for for a long time, will help them in meeting that challenge.
For that reason I fully support the amendments brought forward by my colleague and hope the House will move quickly to pass them into law and to pass second reading now so that we can deal with the various elements of the bill where amendments might be required in committee.
Mr James J. Bradley (St Catharines): I'd like to offer a couple of comments on the minister's remarks in the brief period of time that I have to do so, to say that one of the areas that a minister must always speak to in introducing a program is how the program is going to be appropriately funded. Experience always tells all of us, when we're dealing with municipalities particularly, and other agencies or partners, that one of the areas they will always want to discuss with us is that of money and it makes it easier for them to accept when indeed the funding is appropriate.
I would hope that, once again, when the government is involved in its restraint program, it will pick out its priorities. There is a tendency on the part of treasury board, or as it used to be called, Management Board, to simply cut everybody at about the same rate. That makes everybody feel good. The Minister of Finance, as they call him now -- the Treasurer, as I still call him -- can go about saying: "It's fair to everybody. You know, the Minister of Industry, Trade and Technology has lost all of those offices that she can't visit now and others have lost various parts of their ministries."
I would hope that the government overall would ensure that there is adequate funding for the Ministry of the Environment, because I think at least the Liberal Party and the NDP -- perhaps the Conservative Party will speak for itself -- have placed a high priority on the field of the environment, but you're going to find that the municipalities are going to be quite resistant unless there is some continuing assistance provided to the municipalities as the program is expanded.
I think the program has to be expanded. I think there has been a reasonable start to it and I think there has been an anticipation by the people of the province of Ontario that in fact the program is going to be expanded. The minister is appropriately doing that with this legislation, and I'll look forward to the opportunity to discuss this matter in some greater depth when I have an opportunity to speak of my own volition.
Mr Ted Arnott (Wellington): I wish to thank the Minister of Environment and Energy for his important contribution to this debate. Certainly, as Minister of Environment and Energy he has a great deal to say about this particular initiative.
By way of my response at this time, I would like to pose a question to him. My question centres around the amendment to subsection 209(4) of the Municipal Act, which allows a county to assume all or any of the waste management functions if a majority vote on county council representing a majority of local municipalities votes in favour of that.
Following the former Minister of the Environment, who was the minister for five years under the Liberal government, who I believe took the initiative to change the legislation -- and he'll correct me, I suppose, if I'm mistaken -- from a unanimous vote on county council for county government to assume the responsibility for waste management away from the lower-tier municipalities, now we have the New Democratic government changing this again, reducing it from a two-thirds majority to a 50% majority.
My question would be, does the minister not think it's desirable to have more consensus building which would be represented in a larger majority on county council prior to the county government assuming the waste management responsibility? My concern would be that in some instances there could be a possibility where a number of municipalities could, in terms of their waste management planning, identify a landfill site in one particular municipality such that there could be a situation where municipalities would be, so to speak, ganging up on one.
I would think that it would be better and very desirable to have more consensus building, as represented by a larger majority, prior to the upper-tier municipality going ahead with assuming the waste management responsibility. I would pose that question to the minister.
Mr McLean: It was about two years ago that this government gave the Environment minister power to unilaterally dictate the waste management procedures that had traditionally been done by the municipal governments. Today he's giving back something that he feels is appropriate in Bill 7.
The question that I also have from the minister's comments is with regard to the 50% of the two thirds. In the county of Simcoe, they have a weighted vote; certain municipalities have five votes, some municipalities have one. How is this bill going to affect that vote? Is it going to be one vote per municipality or is it going to be used as a weighted vote, so called, where the large municipalities will get more votes than the smaller ones will? That's a concern that those small municipalities are going to have when it comes time to deal with this.
I'd like the minister to also indicate with regard to the waste management in the county of Simcoe with regard to site 41, of which the previous government had said there are now new hearings established. As I said before, there's already $1 million spent. They're now looking at hearings going on all summer, and my colleague Mr Waters from Muskoka-Georgian Bay was at it for about an hour and says we're going through this all again with lawyers and consultants and a great cost.
So since the county took over waste management, why are we proceeding with this site 41? We've already got probably a dozen sites in the county. Why are we proceeding with site 41? I'm telling you, it's interesting to note the background of the waste management corporation from north Simcoe county, and I wish the minister would look into it and see what's the problem.
Mr Wiseman: I'd like to just comment a little bit about the powers of the Waste Management Act in terms of the history of waste management site searches in the greater Toronto area. It goes back an awful long way in terms of the history of my community, what with Beare Road right on the boundary taking 18 million tonnes of Metro's garbage, and who knows what the content of that was, and then Brock West, and of course then the site selection search beginning in 1987, where Metro was looking in Durham and where they identified some sites and removed them from the table. Two of them happened to be in the Rouge Valley.
The next stage occurred when the previous government gave an environmental exemption to the site called P1 in my riding. What happened under that was that the province of Ontario, the government of Ontario of the day, decided to involve itself in the waste management issue, which had traditionally belonged to the municipalities and which I hope this bill will return to them. What they did was they gave an exemption.
The history has been rather clouded around P1 because in fact this government didn't remove P1 from the table. It didn't say that it had to be removed. What it did was say that any landfill sites would have to undergo a full environmental assessment hearing. That precipitated the regional municipality of Durham from removing that site and removing the five other sites that they had already identified even though the Minister of the Environment had told them not to do so.
So the responsibility for waste management in Durham was thrown away or abrogated by the regional municipal government and thrown on to the province, and this has led to the creation of the IWA. The process had been hoped to have been done in partnership between the municipalities and the province, but with the withdrawal of the municipalities from their responsibilities and obligations, that was not possible. I hope I've cleared up the record a little bit about the abrogation of municipal responsibility.
Hon Mr Wildman: The member for St Catharines indicated that he wasn't speaking of his own volition. I'm not quite sure what forced him to speak, but at any rate I want to assure him that there are no cuts across the board. In terms of the way this expenditure management plan has proceeded, each ministry first looked at its programs and determined which ones might be curtailed, which ones must be maintained and which ones would have to expand. Also, then we looked across government, and the whole government operated that way.
So you'll see that there has not been an arbitrary figure of 10% or 15% set and everybody cut by that amount by the centre, but rather it's done on a program-by-program basis. I want to assure the member that the funding for the 3Rs for the Ministry of Environment has indeed been maintained. We are committed to maintaining the levels of 50% in the first year, 40% in the second year and 33% subsequent to that for things like the blue box program, and we are committed to maintaining that.
The question raised regarding the county would constitute a majority vote is an interesting one. Obviously we didn't want to have it done in such a way as would hamstring the county from being able to make a decision, to serve its ratepayers across the county, but at the same time we certainly don't want to put it in such a way that it will make it possible, as the member indicated, for a number of lower-tier municipalities through the county to gang up on one of their sister municipalities. I think that's something we might look at in committee and deal with in committee.
I just want to correct the member for Simcoe East's wrong impression that somehow this is giving powers that the province has appropriated back to municipalities. That's not what this bill is about. What the bill is about is responding to the concerns of many municipalities, regional and county, as well as lower-tier municipalities that have attempted to bring in waste management programs but haven't been able to or were concerned they might not be able to because they didn't have the appropriate powers. This is responding to their concerns and giving them the powers that they require.
I want to deal first of all with the overall issue of waste management in the province and the desire, I think, of society to see a regime where there is reduction, reuse and recycling as a priority in terms of waste management.
There was a time when our society simply threw things away, to put it bluntly. North America is noted particularly as a very wasteful society even today, and it was encouraging to see that there were environment groups and people who used to be referred to as "granolas" and a lot of people laughed at them in the 1970s and early into the 1980s, but we began to see that governments recognized that they had to run to catch up to the population.
In other words, there were a lot of people who felt that it was not simply appropriate to dump anything and everything into the local sanitary landfill site, as every Environment minister calls it, and dump, as everybody else calls it. As a result, we began to see that there were ways of diverting that waste, diverting it in a few ways.
One way to divert, of course, is to reduce the waste we produce in the first place, and all of us have gone through the procedure of being annoyed at the amount of packaging we see in many of the products we've purchased over the years. Sometimes there has been reasonable justification for the packaging in terms of preserving the sanitation, or preserving the hygiene I guess is a better word, of the particular product, or in other cases it's to prevent theft, and there are further reasons.
But I think there's a recognition that a reduction in the packaging and a reduction in the amount of waste produced in the first place is desirable, so many of the catchy consumer goods that were available early on are now beginning to disappear as people make their own decisions to purchase that which can be reused or recycled.
In terms of reuse, we could take a lesson again from many of our grandmothers and great-grandmothers, I suppose, in that economic circumstances dictated that we did use different products. I can think of, for instance, sugar bags that were used for pillowcases. There aren't many people who can relate to that because we're in a much more affluent society today, but I was a little kid in Sudbury and I can well remember that in our house we had pillowcases that were made in fact from sugar bags.
So governments started to look at ways that they could be involved in reducing that waste and encouraging people to reuse. Unfortunately, some of the measures have not been popular, and the easiest has been the third of the 3Rs, which is to recycle. It's much more difficult to get people to reduce and to reuse than it is to recycle, even though the first two are the most desirable.
But there has been some considerable success with the blue box recycling program and additions to that. In my backyard and, I'm sure, many backyards in the community of St Catharines, people have composters where we take our banana peels and other household waste, as we used to call it, that is compostable and can be used once again to be useful on lawns and in gardens and things of that nature. It's amazing the amount of waste that is diverted as a result of that.
Second, the blue box program was denounced by many of the naysayers. You have to understand that there are still dinosaurs out there. You will still find the dinosaurs who will say, "Well, you know, that's a passing fad." I think, as you look around the Legislature today, you will see very few members who would hold that opinion.
You do get some resistance from some people in some municipalities because they will refuse to calculate the real cost of the old dump, of disposing. If you look at the real cost and compare it to diversion, you find out that in fact reduction measures, reuse measures and recycling measures are saving money or at least are exactly the same, because they will not take into consideration the fact that it costs you money, first of all, to purchase land, to site the land, to prepare the site, to go through the hearings, to operate the site appropriately -- not under the old rules, but under 1993 rules -- and then to keep the site in perpetuity and ensure that you don't have the leaching of undesirable materials into the waterways. You try to have catchment systems for that. And, of course, there's dealing with the problem of methane gas.
So I think all governments that are moving in the direction of diverting more waste and encouraging more reduction, reuse and recycling are in fact moving in a continued appropriate direction which I think would have very good support among the general population, if not among those who are out there today to pan environmentalism.
Let me assure you that there is an attack on environmentalists and environmentalism today. You particularly see it south of the border, where those who look at the state of the economy see this as an opportunity to begin to attack measures which involve conservation, which involve preservation and which involve many of the environmental issues that were popular in the 1980s and began to be implemented in the 1980s. So we have to be careful of that. There are spokespersons, in fact, in various legislative bodies who are prepared to take up that charge today, going back to the days when the environment was pushed to the back burner instead of being on the front burner for governments.
I'm a bit concerned about the actual financing from the provincial government. Though I understand the problem that the minister has, having been a minister, the idea was that the funding that would be provided to municipalities would be startup funding, would be initial funding for them, funding which would allow them to integrate into their waste management system a new program for diversion.
I'm pleased to see as well that we do not list the fourth R any more, although there are still people who list the fourth R, and that, of course, essentially was incineration, even though it didn't start with an R. It was essentially incineration. It was called recovery. Recovery is still an option, in my view, to be looked at for the purpose of disposal, but I do not consider recovery to be one of the measures for diverting waste from landfill sites because you still have the problem with incineration of the fly ash particularly, and to a certain extent the bottom ash, that has to be put somewhere and has to go through a leachate test to determine whether or not it is toxic. So those who offer that as a wonderful solution should know that while it should be on the table to be looked at, it is certainly not the solution that many people believe it to be and it is not a measure of diversion.
Mr Bradley: The member for Durham West, who knows everything about everything, interjects something about this because he has all of the answers. I watched him -- in fact, I should compliment him. I saw him on cable 10 in St Catharines with the member for St Catharines-Brock, who interviewed him on two different shows on waste management. Even though there were some politics in it, which happens from time to time, I thought it was useful, and I commend my colleague from St Catharines-Brock because I think it allowed an opportunity to deal with waste management issues, which aren't always very attractive to deal with.
I've become concerned about the funding because I see so many programs that the government is not moving forward with in the field of the environment, and I also worry about the investigations and enforcement branch. The Speaker will be saying, "Well, what does this have to do with this bill?" Let me explain to him what the investigations and enforcement branch has to do with this bill.
When we have waste management initiatives taking place, anybody who's in violation of those could be confronted by the investigations and enforcement branch of the Ministry of Environment. When it was established, when I had the opportunity to sit down with ministry officials and develop a separate branch of the government called investigations and enforcement, I saw that as being an extremely important branch.
I know there are those who don't like it. Whenever you went to visit a company, the vice-president -- environment always said, "The Gestapo was here last week." Now, the Gestapo, he didn't have to translate what that meant -- he or she, whichever the vice-president happened to be. He didn't have to say to me what it was. I knew it meant the investigations and enforcement branch.
There's a value to it, and why it fits into this bill and why it's important that we retain it as a separate entity is that if we are to enforce our environmental regulations as they relate to the management of waste, we would recognize that we can't have it integrated with other parts of the ministry. It's like having a police force. It has to be separate, first of all, from political control so the minister can't simply send the branch after somebody the minister doesn't like or protect somebody the minister does like or owes a favour to. That is simply not acceptable. I am told that used to happen at one time in the history of the Ministry of Environment. Though I don't know precisely what the date was, I can tell you it predated 1985. At least I can tell you that.
I think everybody supported the fact that it should be a separate entity, that you have an investigations and enforcement branch that answers to itself to a certain extent and works on the policy developed by a government.
I understand what's happening now and I know it was happening. People wonder: "Well, how do you know this is happening? How did you know that the government was thinking of scaling back or eliminating its program to move ministries to various communities?" Well, I sat around the cabinet table for five years, three months and four days. Don't know how many hours it was, but it was a good time to get an insight into the workings of government. And I on that occasion did not even have a second business that I could go to. I had to earn all of my money in the Legislative Assembly, so I didn't have that opportunity.
But it was important to have this separate branch, and I hope the members who are not members of the cabinet, and some who are members of the cabinet who are here, will hear the message of how important it is not to let them -- that is, treasury board and people who make certain recommendations -- destroy the investigations and enforcement branch, either by reducing its size or by reducing its mandate or, perhaps more insidiously, by having it report to people other than the branch itself. You see, there has always been some resentment out there that the investigations and enforcement branch had that degree of independence.
Let me put it this way. When you're dealing with a branch of this kind, abatement people have the job of working with the company or the municipality to try to develop systems of avoiding the production of contaminants or waste material or perhaps suggesting ways of developing catchment systems so the material doesn't go into the air, the soil and the waterways.
Well, you can't be sitting down nicely with the people around a table, around lunch or something, and discussing these matters and being friendly and then the next day lay 16 charges against them. So abatement is extremely important, and our abatement branch in our ministry plays a very significant role. But it has always been my view that abatement should be separate and apart from investigation and enforcement, and my fear is --
We're seeing a dismantling, in my view, potentially a dismantling, of this independent branch, and its integration within the ministry. I know that the people out there who watch this aren't always aware of the intricacies of government and some members are not aware of the significance of that, but I urge members of the government who are concerned about the environment to question the minister, to question anybody who has anything to do with the potential of reducing the importance of the investigation and enforcement branch. Let me tell you, it is a branch which is admired right across Canada and North America.
Mr Bradley: It's not only Steven Langdon. I would say Michael Davison probably likes him. I see a headline here that says, "Bob Rae Must be Defeated as Leader at the NDP Convention." This is the former member for Hamilton Centre, Mike Davison, whom I always admired when he was here in the Legislative Assembly. I can't believe that Mike Davison wouldn't agree with me that there should a circumstance where the Ministry of the Environment preserves the investigation and enforcement branch. Anybody who wants to get a copy of this, it was in yesterday's Hamilton Spectator. It is rather revealing. It follows along a little bit of what Steven Langdon has had to say, and, last session, what other members from the Windsor area have had to say.
In terms of municipalities, I'd like an option where there is some local input into which level of government locally, the regional or the local government, shall control waste management. However, I think the one reason we went from unanimous consent to a different mode of consent was because, obviously, it was hard to get that consent. Say you had 30 municipalities within a county -- it didn't happen in regions, but within a county -- and you had five of them that were potential sites; you can be sure that those five potential sites would have one view and those who didn't have the potential sites would have another view.
I know that in my own city of St Catharines, our mayor, Joe McCaffery, is concerned that if the region takes over garbage disposal, the cost to the citizens of St Catharines will zoom upward. We have endeavoured in our part of the province to develop a club system, where four municipalities -- in this case, Niagara-on-the-Lake, Thorold, St Catharines and Niagara Falls -- were to develop a common site for that material which would be ultimately disposed of when all diversionary activities were completed.
It has had its difficulties. One of the difficulties is that the Ministry of the Environment had promised funding to this particular club and the funding has not been forthcoming, so as a result we haven't had the degree of cooperation that we might have hoped for. It is my hope that the ministry -- with its priority for the environment, surely the government will ensure that those funds will be flowing to my local municipality.
The government must continue, in my view, to expand all methods of diversion, and I think it's wise, as we move from the residential -- the residential has to be retained, but as we move from the residential into industrial and businesses in terms of finding ways -- I can even think of some businesses that you wouldn't think would need this that should certainly ensure that they should be recycling and reducing and reusing. If someone, for instance, happened to be in the automobile business, they would find ways of being able to do this. I can't name any particular person, but I would say that there is that opportunity.
So I think you will find some considerable support for most of the portions of this bill. I think the support will be enhanced by sufficient government funding in terms of startup and in terms of continuing funding and for the purposes of education, though I don't include in that self-congratulatory advertising, which this government is very good at and is carrying on a time-honoured tradition, I might add. In times of financial restraint, what we don't need are ads that have a third hand coming back to pat the government on its own back, but rather are educating the population as to ways in which we can become better citizens environmentally.
All of us as members of this assembly, and I'm sure you, Mr Speaker, encounter people on a weekly basis who ask us, "How can we make a positive contribution to the environment?" This bill and some of its provisions are pointing in that direction. I'm not a person who's negative about legislation that I think will have some positive effects, and I think there are very supportable portions of this bill; some that may require some amending, and I heard the member for Essex-Kent telling the House earlier today that the government was prepared to accommodate suggestions from the government side, the opposition side or outside on how the bill might be improved, how it might be modified -- not gutted, because the government certainly doesn't want to do that, but how it might be appropriately modified to make it a better bill.
What I'm wondering is where along the line this fits in with the funding of the remedial action plans in various harbours, because I have not seen that funding; it must be invisible. But I can well remember that we needed funding for that.
I don't know where this fits with the clean air program, which appears to have totally disintegrated somewhere. It was announced in June 1990, I think, somewhere around there. It was a well-thought-out, well-developed program that was all ready to go, and I thought the government would seize this and move forward with it. I would have been here in the Legislature to commend it. The member for Etobicoke West has the famous -- what do you call that?
So all of these environmental initiatives that I heard my friends in the NDP talk about -- I was almost tempted to vote NDP last election because they had such a good platform on the environment. My hand trembled as I went in to vote, because I thought: "You know, I'm a true environmentalist. This party is committed to it. We're going to see 100 days of action and this province will be in great shape." So as I drove past Oakville today, I was sniffing the air and I thought: "That can't be the petroleum smokestacks. That's got to be coming from the United States, because we have an NDP government in Ontario now, and surely all of those melodious sources are now finished. And Sudbury will be perfect."
Dave Kappele, who was my opponent in St Catharines, who came very close to winning -- and good fellow he was: worked very hard, worked for the member for Lincoln for a little while; no longer works for the member for Lincoln -- I was convinced that he had a platform there that was worthy of support.
I certainly see a lot in this bill that's supportable, but I'm wondering where the rest of it is. I know that the strong environmentalists over there must be wondering the same. I know Mike Davison is wondering the same. Leo Panitch I heard on the radio this morning, a person I've always admired all my life, Leo Panitch was on NDP Morning -- Metro Morning -- and he was very concerned about the lack of action on the part of the NDP on initiatives such as this.
I know the Treasurer is going to speak to the federal NDP caucus today, and Mr Fulton, who is a strong environmentalist, and Mr Blaikie will both be asking him about the funding that will be forthcoming for all the environmental initiatives that this government will be embarking upon in this, the month of May 1993.
I see that it is almost, as we say in this House, 6 of the clock. I don't know why we say that, but it is 6 of the clock. I believe I'm adjourning the debate at this time. It will continue at another time, and the member for Etobicoke West will get a chance to ask questions and respond.
It now being 6 of the clock, this House will stand adjourned, but I want to remind members that there is the Order of Ontario presentation on the main staircase, so you may want to avoid the main staircase on your way down.