Official Records for 30 March 2011

LEGISLATIVE ASSEMBLY OF ONTARIO

ASSEMBLÉE LÉGISLATIVE DE L’ONTARIO

Wednesday 30 March 2011 Mercredi 30 mars 2011

ORDERS OF THE DAY

TORONTO TRANSIT COMMISSION LABOUR DISPUTES RESOLUTION ACT, 2011 /
LOI DE 2011 SUR LE RÈGLEMENT
DES CONFLITS DE TRAVAIL
À LA COMMISSION DE TRANSPORT
DE TORONTO

CHRISTOPHER’S LAW (SEX OFFENDER
REGISTRY) AMENDMENT ACT, 2011 /
LOI DE 2011 MODIFIANT
LA LOI CHRISTOPHER
SUR LE REGISTRE
DES DÉLINQUANTS SEXUELS

INTRODUCTION OF VISITORS

ORAL QUESTIONS

TAXATION

TAXATION

ONTARIO BUDGET

JOB CREATION

ONTARIO BUDGET

PRIVATIZATION OF PUBLIC SERVICES

BREAST CANCER

GOVERNMENT CONSULTANTS

HEALTH CARE

POST-SECONDARY EDUCATION
AND SKILLS TRAINING

PENSION PLANS

NORTHERN ONTARIO

MENTAL HEALTH
AND ADDICTIONS STRATEGY

WIND TURBINES

POVERTY

VISITORS

DEFERRED VOTES

TORONTO TRANSIT COMMISSION LABOUR DISPUTES RESOLUTION ACT, 2011 /
LOI DE 2011 SUR LE RÈGLEMENT
DES CONFLITS DE TRAVAIL
À LA COMMISSION DE TRANSPORT
DE TORONTO

CHRISTOPHER’S LAW (SEX OFFENDER
REGISTRY) AMENDMENT ACT, 2011 /
LOI DE 2011 MODIFIANT
LA LOI CHRISTOPHER
SUR LE REGISTRE
DES DÉLINQUANTS SEXUELS

NOTICE OF DISSATISFACTION

INTRODUCTION OF VISITORS

MEMBERS’ STATEMENTS

HEALTHY BABIES,
HEALTHY CHILDREN

TEAM 2056, ORCHARD PARK ROBOTICS

SNOWMOBILING

TWESTIVAL OTTAWA

COBOURG COMMUNITY CENTRE

PROVINCIAL DEFICIT

LAKE SUPERIOR CENTRE FOR
REGENERATIVE MEDICINE

DUDLEY LAWS

ONTARIO BUDGET

REPORTS BY COMMITTEES

STANDING COMMITTEE ON
SOCIAL POLICY

STANDING COMMITTEE ON REGULATIONS AND PRIVATE BILLS

INTRODUCTION OF BILLS

HIGHWAY TRAFFIC
AMENDMENT ACT, 2011 /
LOI DE 2011 MODIFIANT
LE CODE DE LA ROUTE

MOTIONS

PRIVATE MEMBERS’ PUBLIC BUSINESS

PRIVATE MEMBERS’ PUBLIC BUSINESS

ADDRESS BY AMBASSADOR OF JAPAN

STANDING COMMITTEE ON
PUBLIC ACCOUNTS

STATEMENTS BY THE MINISTRY
AND RESPONSES

VOLUNTEER SERVICE AWARDS

PETITIONS

OAK RIDGES MORAINE

REPLACEMENT WORKERS

PARAMEDICS

PROTECTION FOR
PEOPLE WITH DISABILITIES

NON-PROFIT HOUSING

SCHOOL FACILITIES

ASSISTANCE TO FARMERS

REPLACEMENT WORKERS

PARAMEDICS

DOG OWNERSHIP

REPLACEMENT WORKERS

PARAMEDICS

RURAL SCHOOLS

REPLACEMENT WORKERS

PARAMEDICS

PARAMEDICS

ORDERS OF THE DAY

2011 ONTARIO BUDGET

The House met at 0900.

The Speaker (Hon. Steve Peters): Good morning. Please remain standing for the Lord’s Prayer, followed by the Baha’i prayer.

Prayers.

ORDERS OF THE DAY

TORONTO TRANSIT COMMISSION LABOUR DISPUTES RESOLUTION ACT, 2011 /
LOI DE 2011 SUR LE RÈGLEMENT
DES CONFLITS DE TRAVAIL
À LA COMMISSION DE TRANSPORT
DE TORONTO

Ms. Smith moved third reading of the following bill:

Bill 150, An Act to provide for the resolution of labour disputes involving the Toronto Transit Commission / Projet de loi 150, Loi prévoyant le règlement des conflits de travail à la Commission de transport de Toronto.

The Speaker (Hon. Steve Peters): Debate?

Mr. Randy Hillier: It’s a pleasure to speak on Bill 150 today. The PC Party is supporting Bill 150. However, we have some strong reservations that came out during the committee meetings, and I’d like to share with the House our reservations and that process in the committees.

We know that this bill is an important bill for the people of Toronto, for the commuters of Toronto. It’s been requested by the mayor and council of Toronto, and it’s before us today for final reading. In our committees, we did offer up nine amendments to strengthen Bill 150, to improve Bill 150; nine amendments to protect Toronto taxpayers from potentially excessive increases, to provide greater clarity and criteria to arbitrators and also to provide this Legislature with an oversight role and review role on this legislation in five years’ time, because it does provide for a ministerial review in five years.

It was quite disappointing to see that each and every one of those amendments was dismissed by the Liberal government—dismissed out of hand, I would say—with very little interest for discussion or debate on the justification and the merit of those nine amendments.

We know that this bill has its flaws. We know that the committee process is there to improve legislation, but it can only improve legislation if the people sitting on that committee come to that committee in good conscience, with goodwill and good faith, and that was not demonstrated by the Liberal members of that committee—not at all.

We know that there are those who are opposed to this bill. That was spoken to at the committee by delegates. One of them was Sid Ryan. Sid Ryan had some very critical things to say of this bill—very critical of some of the members on that committee as well for their actions. Sid Ryan, who of course heads up the OFL—the Ontario Federation of Labour—and CUPE, said to the member for Brant, “You play politics all the time, sir, with labour legislation and the lives of workers in this province, and it’s got to stop.”

He also went on to say that you helped out “the construction industry, because the construction industry puts money into your election machine, and you gave them card-based certification, but you said to the rest of the labour movement—you gave them the finger.” Those are some of the quotes by Sid Ryan to our committee looking at this bill.

The first amendment that I want to talk about that completely disappointed me by the actions of the Liberal members was an amendment to provide a sunset review of this legislation in five years’ time. The clause had two components that differ from the original bill. The first was that it would put a time frame to end that review, not just a time frame to start the review; and, secondly, it requested, or would have made into law if it had been passed, that the review would have been tabled in this Legislative Assembly.

A review tabled in the Legislative Assembly: That differs from the bill itself, the way it’s written, in that presently that review only gets handed to the minister. The only one who will be able to see that review of this legislation in five years’ time will be the minister himself or herself, and that really is diminishing the role and the responsibility and the obligations of the elected members of this province, the elected members who stand here and represent their constituents. All the members of this House who represent GTA ridings will not be able to look at that review. I believe that’s a tremendous travesty of the due process and the protocols of an elected representative democracy. Reports reviewing our legislation must be tabled in this House so that we ourselves can take a look at them.

As I said to the members on the government benches in that committee, in five years’ time we’re not sure who’s going to be sitting in this House. We’re not sure which minister is going to be sitting in that portfolio. Why are you so willing to diminish and abrogate your own responsibilities when you don’t even know who’s going to be in government, who’s going to be the minister? It is due and proper that any review of our legislation be tabled in this House every time. It is absolutely unequivocal. It cannot be justified that we do business behind closed doors in this province. But that’s what this bill is doing. It allows business to be done behind closed doors.

The members of the Liberal benches in that committee refused to take ownership of their own responsibilities, but more importantly, they seek to diminish the role of others in this House, which is unacceptable and intolerable, in my view.

We also put forward an amendment to provide some protection for Toronto taxpayers. We have seen, with essential services legislation, with arbitration, that arbitrators have very little regard for this concept of ability to pay when it comes to public sector union awards. Their ability to pay is often misconstrued by arbitrators into the ability to tax, which is, of course, near endless. So we brought forward an amendment that would have prevented excessive arbitration awards and protected Toronto taxpayers.

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But once again, the Liberal members of that committee dismissed that amendment out of hand, without discussion, without debate. It was as if they were completely disinterested in doing their job of representing their constituents and making sure that there is some value and some improvement in that committee process. It was just a completely dismissive approach.

Furthermore, we provided an amendment to provide greater clarity to arbitrators, to give them a greater understanding of the arbitration awards and the criteria that would be required to come up with a reasonable settlement. Once again, the Liberal members of this committee dismissed it out of hand.

We’ve seen this in the past, and it’s something that we need to speak about in this Legislative Assembly. I’ve seen it in every committee that I’ve sat on, that any amendment brought forward by the opposition—this, of course, is the time. Committees are the time for opposition members to have input and influence and provide our constituents’ perspectives on legislation. But in each and every committee that I’ve sat on, there has been no discussion, no debate from the Liberal government, on any amendment. It is always dismissed and rejected as if they, their bureaucracy and their policy staff are the only ones who have any authority or any expertise to provide comments. The rest of us in here, when it comes to this Liberal government, are unimportant, insignificant and indeed irrelevant to the parliamentary process. That is an abrogation of who we are and what our jobs are here.

I do believe that someday soon, the members of this House must stand up, find a backbone, defend their responsibilities and obligations, and defend and advocate for the interests of their constituents. But at the present time, and in my time here with this Liberal government, I’ve not seen any interest at all in making this assembly work better and in improving legislation.

Laughter.

Mr. Randy Hillier: I see the member from Brant, who is laughing about this. Of course, he was the member that Sid Ryan was talking about in the committee. When Sid Ryan said, “You ought to be embarrassed; you ought to be ashamed,” Sid Ryan was talking about the member from Brant, who sat on that committee.

Again, some people may think this is all just frivolous, unimportant, that this job, this privilege to represent people, is a laughing matter. That’s not the way I see it, it’s not the way my constituents see it and I don’t believe it’s the way the people of Ontario see our jobs here.

Mr. Ted Chudleigh: Not a lot of subways down in Brant.

Mr. Randy Hillier: I know there are probably not a lot of subways in Brant, and the member may laugh and chuckle about all this. There aren’t any subways in Lanark county either, or Frontenac or Lennox and Addington. Regardless, we still take our job seriously. We still take the interests of our constituents and the taxpayers with deep interest and concern.

There are nine reasonable amendments. I have to give credit to the member on the Liberal side who was the Chair heading up the committee. He did say, “Thank you for the non-partisan amendment, but we’re still not going to consider it. We’re still not going to listen to it. It’s non-partisan, but it came from you guys. It came from the opposition benches. It didn’t come from our minister, so it really can’t have any value now, can it?” Well, that level of arrogance, that level of disregard is going to be costly. It is costly to the people of this province when elected members have that cavalier approach and dismissive lack of interest in legislation.

Legislation, of course, is indeed our primary role here. Making sure that legislation is effective, that it will achieve the objectives we want to achieve and that we minimize or mitigate the possibility of unforeseen consequences is what 107 elected people can do if they choose to exercise their jobs and their judgment in a proper fashion. But that is not the case. It wasn’t the case on the government appointments committee that I sat on, it has not been the case on any of the committees I’ve sat on with this Liberal government and it really is disheartening. I believe that if our constituents—the member for Brant’s constituents, the constituents of all those members—saw the conduct of their elected representatives during that committee, they would be furious. The contempt that was demonstrated was amazing.

I have to reiterate something I said in committee: It may be fine if members of the Liberal benches want to diminish their own role in this House. Go ahead and do it, okay? If you guys want to diminish yourselves, go ahead and do it. You have every right to do that. If you don’t want to have an opinion, if you don’t want to engage in debate and discussion on the merit of legislation, go ahead. Don’t bother. Diminish your role. You have every right to do so. But you don’t have the right to do it to others, and that’s what you’re engaging in. You’re not only dismissing yourselves, but you’re dismissing the role of others, and that is contemptible. It’s absolutely contemptible that these members on the Liberal benches would do that.

If you’re a member of the Liberal Party and you choose to gag yourselves, to handcuff yourselves, to put blinders on, that’s fine. You get to deal with your constituents when you act like that. But you have no right to do that to members on this side or other members of your own party who want to advocate for their constituents.

I really have seen enough of the committee process in this House. I know why there’s apathy and complacency among the members of the general public when it comes to politics. We don’t have to look any further as to why that apathy and complacency is so abundant in this province. All we have to do is look at ourselves, look at the conduct of ourselves in this House and people will see; people will understand exactly why.

Laughter.

Mr. Randy Hillier: There are elected members here who are laughing and chuckling. The member from Algoma thinks this is a funny and hilarious debate, as does the member for Brant.

0920

Interjection.

Mr. Randy Hillier: I guess the member for Algoma likes Fox News and thinks he should be watching Fox News instead of engaging in debate and advocating for his constituents. This is not acceptable.

Once again, why would they have prevented an amendment to this bill which would have brought the five-year review, the sunset review, back to this House so every member could look at it, so every member could have input into whether it was working well or not working well, if it had shortcomings, if it had improvements that could be done? But no, it’s not acceptable to this Liberal government that reviews and reports get tabled and that we have knowledge to make informed commentary on legislation.

It is unjustifiable that that amendment was turned down. Absolutely, unequivocally, it was unjustifiable. I’d like to hear somebody from the Liberal benches say why it is important that they remain in ignorance with legislation. Why is ignorance so blissful to the members of the Liberal Party that they will not—will not—amend legislation so that the reports come into this House so that we can all have a review, we can all take part? Why is ignorance so important to members of the Liberal benches? Why do you view that the only one who ought to have comment or to have eyes is the minister of the day?

I’m glad to see the minister has come into the House. I would have liked to have heard his comments as well on this bill, but I’ll be listening to what the minister has to say on third reading. Thank you very much.

The Deputy Speaker (Mr. Bruce Crozier): Further debate?

Hon. Charles Sousa: I rise to speak to third reading of Bill 150, the Toronto Transit Commission Labour Disputes Resolution Act. This follows a request by the elected representatives of the city of Toronto, the Toronto city council, that the TTC be made an essential service.

We said we would take this request seriously, and we did. We said we would consult with those affected, and we have. We said we would act quickly, given the time constraints, and we are. We listened to representatives of the city, to the bargaining agents involved and to the Toronto Transit Commission.

Let’s remind ourselves who the primary stakeholder in all of this is. It’s the people of Toronto. Every business day, 1.5 million people use the TTC, and many, many more are impacted by work stoppages at the Toronto Transit Commission. By moving forward with this legislation we are acting to protect not only those who ride and rely on the TTC, but also those who are seriously affected by work stoppages at Toronto’s public transit system.

All parties in this House have set a precedent on this issue. In 2008 the TTC strike began on a Friday night and was ended by the time Monday rush hour began. The impact of that strike was reduced only because of back-to-work legislation that was enacted—back-to-work legislation that was supported by all parties of this House. By their actions, all parties of this House acknowledged the essential nature of the TTC when they voted to end that work stoppage. After that vote, it was binding arbitration that was issued to conclude the collective agreement.

In fact, since 1974, this House has voted the TTC back to work five times. Those House votes speak clearly and convincingly about the essential nature of TTC service in the lives of Torontonians. The TTC is unique in its size, scope and impact on the city it serves and its surrounding communities.

What we are proposing is all about helping the people of Toronto and the GTA and ensuring that their needs are met. Foremost among those needs is their safety, their health and their well-being. I would like to read part of the December 15, 2010, motion adopted by the TTC board of directors. That motion stated, “Over one million Torontonians rely on the TTC to get to work, school and conduct their lives each day. The city of Toronto is simply not designed to function without an operating ... transit system....

“TTC strikes are an economic, social and environmental disaster that grinds the entire GTA to a standstill. The cost of transit strikes in Toronto has been estimated to be $50 million per day in lost economic activity. The environmental harm caused by the complete absence of transit and thousands of additional vehicles on the road is incalculable.”

We said we would act quickly, given the fact that the agreements between the TTC and its bargaining agents expire on March 31, 2011. The TTC and its workers have a right to know what the rules of that bargaining round will be. And the people of the city of Toronto, speaking through their elected representatives, have a right to ask the province that they be protected from the impact of TTC work stoppages, now and in the future.

Across this country and over the course of decades, provinces have deemed certain workers essential. They have replaced strikes and lockouts with a fair and neutral system of binding arbitration. Police, firefighters and hospital workers in Ontario and across Canada have been considered to be essential to the health and safety of our citizens and to the very functioning of our society. The people of the city of Toronto have a right to say to us that they need their transit system to make their city function.

We have listened to the 1.5 million people who ride and rely on the TTC every business day. This proposed legislation is all about helping the people of Toronto. Our goal and intent is to protect public safety, health and the environment.

It is self-evident to anyone who seriously and honestly looks at the situation that the people of Toronto are right when they say that the TTC is essential for their city to function. As many have said, the vital importance and the indispensable nature of Toronto’s public transit system is reflected in the fact that this Legislature has enacted legislation to end or prevent TTC work stoppages five times since 1974. That fact cannot be denied. But the vital importance, the essential nature of the TTC to the life of Toronto is also made evident through a report that was commissioned and published by the Amalgamated Transit Union, Local 113, in March 2008. I would like to quote a number of sections of that report.

The report opens with a question: “What would the city of Toronto be like without public transit? What if we woke up one day and all of our public transit infrastructure had simply vanished?”

The report goes on to ask, “How many more smog days would come from the additional car travel?” and it states that, “Many of public transit’s benefits to the economic, social and environmental health of our city are invisibly integrated into our daily life.”

This 2008 report—again, commissioned and published by Local 113 of the Amalgamated Transit Union—examines in great detail and goes on to describe the negative health and environmental impact of the loss of TTC services: “In the city without transit, we would peer through a brown haze to see over 178,000 additional cars on the road on any given business day. These cars would clearly be moving very slowly, and would wait in long impatient streams around the city, spewing additional emissions and costing their owners thousands of dollars for the privilege of sitting in traffic.”

The report goes on to make clear: “The cost of mental and emotional distress, of job reduction and disability, cannot be captured by the bald statistics of medical costs.

“Injuries and fatalities from car crashes are the most common cause of death and injury in Canada. Without public transit, car trips in Toronto would increase by a significant percentage (over 350,000 trips each business day). The additional congestion, frustration and stress would increase the dangers of driving even more.”

The report continues: “In a nationwide study, MKI estimates additional costs to the Canadian economy of $1.1 billion in crash costs, not including pain and suffering, if there was no public transit. Increased traffic accidents cost taxpayers money in government services, emergency response, medical costs, and in reduced travel time for all affected drivers. Lost productivity and the costs of pain and suffering add to the costs of driving accidents.”

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The ATU-commissioned report also states: “Transit also reduces the local smog levels. Cars are responsible for about 27% of local smog, which leads directly to asthma incidents and emergency visits to hospital, as well as premature deaths.... A recent Toronto Public Health study reviews 2004 figures and calculates the impact at $2.86 billion, a figure that is almost double the original estimate.” This is their quote. Perhaps most importantly, in its final section the report concludes: “Transit provides essential transportation, accessibility and equity for commuters, ensures a cleaner and safer urban environment, reduces the medical and environmental costs of car dependence and provides intangible additional benefits of physical activity, reduced sprawl etc.”

The findings of this report, prepared by the ATU, confirm what our government has been saying since the introduction of this bill. While some choose to ignore or downplay these impacts, there is a clear and convincing public health and safety issue at stake when considering Toronto’s public transit system and its availability and reliability for the people of Toronto.

Let me now address the manner in which TTC contract negotiations would be undertaken. Under this proposed legislation, if the parties cannot reach an agreement on their own—and let me stress “if,” because we should all be clear that nothing in this proposed legislation negates a deal being reached at the bargaining table. Our government has been consistent in our support for the collective bargaining process and in our belief that the best agreements are those that are reached at the bargaining table.

Across this country and over the course of decades, provinces have deemed certain workers essential. In these instances, the appropriate step to take is to put in place a fair and neutral system of binding arbitration. In Ontario and across Canada, police, firefighters and hospital workers have been considered to be essential in their communities. The city of Toronto has said to us that without their transit system, the city simply cannot function.

Under this proposed legislation, strikes and lockouts at the TTC would be prohibited. Work stoppages and the threat of work stoppages at the TTC would be replaced by referring all outstanding unresolved contract matters to arbitration. Binding interest arbitration is a fair and neutral method of settling collective agreement issues when the parties can’t reach a settlement on their own. In collective bargaining, the parties would follow the process established under the Ontario Labour Relations Act, including notice to bargain, and conciliation.

If the TTC and one of its bargaining agents couldn’t settle a contract in bargaining, a conciliation officer from the Ministry of Labour would be appointed. If, after discussions with both parties, the conciliation officer reported that the parties were unable to conclude an agreement, the dispute would be referred to arbitration. The parties would then be able to agree on an appointment of an arbitrator. If they were unable to agree, the Minister of Labour could appoint one.

Again, I want to emphasize that the parties would not be prohibited from continuing to bargain toward a new collective agreement during the arbitration process. In fact, they would be encouraged to do so. If they were to settle any matters between themselves and were to notify the arbitrator, the arbitrator’s decision would be limited to outstanding matters necessary to conclude a collective agreement.

Binding arbitration is by no means a new way of settling collective agreements in settings where the vital interest of the public is at stake. Compulsory interest arbitration already exists within the police, fire and hospital sectors. From January 2000 to January 2011, there were more than 6,000 settlements involving parties who are subject to compulsory interest arbitration. Importantly, almost 80% of these settlements were achieved without having to go to arbitration.

Ministry of Labour conciliation officers and mediators are available to assist parties in reaching collective agreements. According to the collective bargaining information service at the Ministry of Labour, as of March 2011, there are approximately 260,000 Ontario employees who are covered by compulsory interest arbitration collective agreements. That represents almost 31% of our broader public sector employees in the province. In situations where the public’s health and safety are at stake, it is clear that binding arbitration serves the interests of the public and the parties involved.

What should be equally clear is the critical role the TTC plays in assuring the health and safety of Torontonians. The greater Toronto area has the highest concentration of health care facilities in Canada, with 40 hospitals, 84 long-term-care homes and 21 community care centres. This includes hospitals with trauma centres, such as Sunnybrook Health Sciences Centre, and specialized hospitals, such as Princess Margaret and the Hospital for Sick Children. I think we can all agree on the importance of the services that staff at these facilities provide, and I think we can all acknowledge that a great many of these dedicated men and women rely on the TTC to get to and from work every day. What do the opponents of this bill say to the staff of these facilities, to the people who work in operating and emergency rooms, to those who work in nursing homes, to the patients and families who depend on them? “Hitch a ride.” On this side of the House, we aren’t prepared to say that.

How many members of this House would like to be in a position, or would want their constituents to be in a position, of needing emergency services—an ambulance, a fire truck or a police car—when our roads are clogged by the kind of congestion that occurs during rush hour when TTC services are not there?

Our government received a request from the elected representatives of the people of the city of Toronto to prohibit strikes and lockouts on the TTC. This request emerged out of the desire of Torontonians to be protected from the tremendous impact caused by the loss, and potential loss, of TTC services. The people of Toronto are in the best position to know what impact that has on their lives, and we have listened to them.

We have seriously considered the situation and consulted with the city, the TTC and affected bargaining agents. We have acted in the responsible manner this situation so clearly calls for. Our legislation takes a balanced approach. It ensures collective bargaining can continue; it protects the rights of workers and the public. Passing this legislation is the right thing to do.

The Deputy Speaker (Mr. Bruce Crozier): Further debate?

Mr. Peter Kormos: I may be joined by the member for Nickel Belt and the member for Timmins–James Bay.

In a free and democratic society, one of the most fundamental, if not the most fundamental, right is the right of any working man or woman to withdraw their labour. If they can’t, then they’re not free. Also, in this province and in this country, we recognize the right of workers to collectively bargain. Indeed, the Supreme Court of Canada, in the BC health services decision, affirmed that the right to collectively bargain is a constitutional right. It’s the right of free association.

This province has undergone a lengthy history of refinement in its labour relations legislation, and this government today is turning back the hands of time to an unacceptable era in Ontario and Canadian history.

One of the most fundamental flaws in the argument made by the minister, on behalf of Mr. McGuinty, is that one can make things essential services. It’s simply not the case. Things are either essential services or they’re not. They don’t become essential services because a bill happens to say so, whether it’s in the preamble or elsewhere. I wish, I had hoped, that the minister, and if not the minister, then the minions in the Premier’s office who drive these things, would have paid closer attention to some of the presentations that were made in the very brief committee hearings—because of course the government time-allocated this bill.

0940

The government used its power as a majority to ensure that there were but two scant afternoons of committee hearings—literally a few hours. And similarly, with their guillotine motion—a motion that has become all too common in this Legislature, a motion that stifles debate, that stifles discussion, that stifles democratic process—with their time allocation motion, the government has restricted third reading debate to about one hour: 20 minutes per caucus; hardly an appropriate length of time in which to fully discuss the implications of this thoroughly flawed legislation.

If the minister had paid attention, he would have paid attention, amongst other things, to the presentation by the Ontario Federation of Labour. The Ontario Federation of Labour was very helpful to the committee with its reference to the United Nations’ International Labour Organization convention 87, to which this country, Canada, is a signatory. Amongst other things, that convention 87 discusses essential services. Paragraph 581—the presentation was that specific: paragraph 581—“To determine situations in which a strike could be prohibited, the criterion which has to be established is the existence of a clear and imminent threat to the life, personal safety or health of the whole or part of the population.”

Further, and even more striking and more significant and more pointed, for those who didn’t get it the first time, there’s paragraph 587, where the ILO, the International Labour Organization, has ruled that metropolitan transit systems and railways are not essential, so that governments are not permitted to ban the right of these workers to strike.

This bill will not improve service on the TTC. This bill will not improve the morale of TTC workers. This bill won’t increase the number of routes or the number of streets that are serviced by the TTC, and this bill will not stop or prevent work stoppages. It will simply make them illegal.

Make no mistake about it; there’s a problem at the TTC. There’s a serious problem there, and it’s a problem that’s far more likely to be solved by encouraging and facilitating collective bargaining—meaningful negotiations at the bargaining table. Every time you have a denial of the right to withdraw one’s labour, that attack on collective bargaining, you undermine collective bargaining. It is beyond naive for this minister to suggest that somehow, “Oh, collective bargaining can still take place,” notwithstanding the fact that at the end of the day, a third party, an arbitrator, is going to hammer the table with his or her imposed ruling. Hardly a settlement.

The experience in other jurisdictions has been that in arbitration regimes, labour relations deteriorate. The strength of the imposed resolution is diminished, because it’s trite to say—and the minister should know this. He surely should know that a settlement that’s arrived at by the parties directly involved, through collaboration and through negotiation and through compromise and a series of concessions, is a resolution that’s far more likely to be complied with, and complied with voluntarily. It creates a far healthier environment.

If you’re going to address the problems at the TTC, you tell TTC management that when they’ve got a problem, they sit down and negotiate a resolution. They don’t come running, cap in hand, to the government of the day saying, “Fix it for us,” because that’s been part of the problem as well. Every time there has been a serious dispute between workers and management at the TTC, this Legislature has ordered the workers back to work. That’s part of the problem, not part of the solution, because management had no incentive to resolve differences. Management had no incentive whatsoever because they knew they could come, cap in hand, to the government of the day, and the government of the day would address their needs.

I, for one, and New Democrats don’t buy into the proposition that when Mayor Ford or his council asks the government to do something, the government should do it. This has serious implications. This is a full frontal attack on labour, on working women and men here in this province of Ontario. This isn’t the Ford model; it’s the Wisconsin model, and that is a very dangerous thing.

We’re already witnessing this government’s attack on working people and upon the trade union movement. We’re already witnessing this McGuinty government that refuses to extend card-based certification to some of the most vulnerable workers in this province. We’re already witnessing this McGuinty government’s attack on agricultural workers when it denies them the right to collectively bargain, notwithstanding that agricultural workers are some of the lowest-paid workers, and they’re workers in Ontario working in some of the most dangerous and lethal occupations.

This government embraced Bill 7 when it was imposed by Mike Harris as Premier in 1995, which revoked the NDP anti-scab legislation. This government has refused—refused—to restore anti-scab legislation in the province of Ontario. Mr. McGuinty and his Liberals are hardly a friend of working women and men. Mr. McGuinty and the Liberals are hardly a friend of the trade union movement.

New Democrats will have nothing to do with it. New Democrats believe strongly and adamantly that a strong economy means a healthy workforce, and a healthy workforce means a unionized workforce; that a strong economy means workers making decent wages, and if workers are going to make decent wages they’ve got to belong to trade unions so that they can negotiate those wages; that a strong economy and a strong province mean that workers ought to be able to negotiate and control their workplaces so they can arrive home at night in the same physical health condition as they went to work in the morning; and that workers in this province deserve and have a right to pensions—pensions that are protected, pensions that are stable, pensions that are strong and allow working women and men to live out their senior years with some modest level of dignity.

Well, today Mr. McGuinty demonstrates his true colours when it comes to working people, when it comes to trade unions and when it comes to collective bargaining.

We will be voting against this legislation. We will be voting against it with enthusiasm. We will be voting against it in solidarity with TTC workers and other working women and men across this province and country.

The Deputy Speaker (Mr. Bruce Crozier): Further debate?

Mr. Gilles Bisson: I echo all of the comments that were made by my colleague Mr. Kormos, the member from Welland–Thorold. I’ve only got a few minutes because I’ve got other caucus members who want to get on, but I want to make three points.

The first point I want to make is that we measure ourselves by the way we treat others in our society. When we take rights away from individuals that other citizens are able to enjoy, I think it reflects badly on democracy overall and what this government is all about.

The right to strike is a right that is afforded all workers. Why? It is a way of being able to put pressure on the employer in the case of negotiations. To argue that TTC workers are essential services and we need to take their rights away, I think, is a stretch beyond the pale.

The second point I would make: The Liberals are quite something. They try to have it both ways. One day they come into the House, and they say, “We love workers. Let us give you a hug. We want to hug you so much,” and the next day, they take the knife and stab them in the back. I say to the Liberals across the way, you will reap what you will sow—or whatever way that particular saying goes.

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I will say this here, though, because I really do want to leave some time, and that is that the workers are going to get whacked two ways now. You’ve got the Liberals, who now have this bill that at the end of debate, when it’s finally proclaimed, will take away the right to strike from TTC workers in the city and make them an essential service. Then you’ve got a Conservative caucus that’s saying that if they win in the next election, they’re going to take away binding arbitration. So we’re going to have workers in Toronto who are going to get whacked by the Liberals within the next few minutes, and, if the Tories win government, are going to get whacked again.

So I say there’s really one alternative in this province: That is to vote NDP. Why? Because we believe, number one, that we need to treat workers fairly. Workers in this province have to be treated in a way that allows them to negotiate fair collective agreements.

I thought Bob Kinnear and the ATU were quite responsible in their approach to negotiations. They said, “Listen, we’re prepared to not go out on strike in order to find some sort of an agreement that meets and satisfies the needs of both management and employees.” They were more than reasonable.

I think the only unreasonable ones here are, first, the Liberals, for doing essential services legislation, and extremely unreasonable are the Conservatives, who say they want to take away the right to binding arbitration.

The Deputy Speaker (Mr. Bruce Crozier): Further debate?

Mr. Paul Miller: All I can say is that I was in the steel business for over 30 years, in a union atmosphere. Do you really think we would have got improvements in benefits and wages if we didn’t have the right to strike? I personally went through two tough strikes: five months and four months. I had to resort to doing other jobs just to put food on the table, because the companies were refusing.

Do you think that companies are going to voluntarily give you money and co-operate in arbitration to give people what they want? I think not.

I also believe that this government forced the part-time university professors and their staff back to work. Now they’re forcing the transit workers back. Who’s next? Pretty soon, everyone is going to be an essential service and the right to strike will be gone. The right to unionize: They’re attacking unions throughout North America. You’re attacking them here in Toronto, and it’s going to continue. It’s outrageous that this would go through, that this government would back such a movement.

I know for a fact, during all the years I saw this develop, that in the last 10 years there have been North-American-wide corporate and government attacks on unions and the right to strike. It’s happening; look what’s going on in the States right now. People are sitting in the Legislature, protesting, because they’re attacking unions.

And talk about public sector workers. In a city in Alabama, the town is broke. They didn’t put enough money into the pensions, and the former police chief, the former fire chief and the former public sector workers are now suing their own town because they’ve cut off their pensions. This is going on.

They’re pulling the rug from underneath working people in North America. This is going to continue, and it’s going to continue to a point where I don’t know how the people are going to react, because I know a lot of them wouldn’t put up with this in the States.

Things are going to get worse. I warn all union leaders in this province and this country that this is just the start of what’s going to happen to unions in this country unless we make a stand now and tell them that enough is enough. We have a right to strike; we have a right to speak; we have a right to withdraw our labour if we’re not being dealt with fairly and honestly.

It’s absolutely outrageous, what you’re doing.

The Deputy Speaker (Mr. Bruce Crozier): The member for Nickel Belt.

Mme France Gélinas: I want to add my voice to this debate for many reasons. The first is that we all know that the right to unionize, the right to strike, was something that didn’t come easy. A lot of men and women in Ontario fought really hard to have the right to unionize, to have the right to strike. Those rights were finally enshrined into Canada’s Constitution, with the caveat that if there was danger to the life, health and safety of the public, we could make exceptions.

This is a stretch here, to say that transit workers are actually an essential service. This is a really slippery slope. When I see the Minister of Labour stand up and say that you may not be able to get to the emergency room because it will be so congested, or the firefighters won’t be able to get to your house because the streets will be so congested, this is an insult to every firefighter in the city, and this is an insult to every EMS worker in the city. If there is an emergency, those people are trained and they will get to your house and they will get you to the hospital, no matter what stands in their way. This is what they’re trained to do. This is what they do, and they do it well. They do it to protect us, and they do it because they want to help people. To link those two is completely ludicrous.

Transit workers have a right to unionize. They have the right to withdraw their labour if negotiations fail. This is a fundamental right. Think about it: We are taking away constitutional rights. The decisions that we will be making in this House this morning are huge. We are entering a slippery slope, because there are transit workers all over this province. There is congestion in most big cities in this province. We are—

Mr. Gilles Bisson: Timmins.

Mme France Gélinas: Congestion in Timmins? Well, maybe. Hey, he says so; it must be.

What I’m trying to say is that we are eliminating the right to strike for what will shortly be the majority of municipal workers in the city of Toronto. Once we take away the right to strike for public transit workers in Toronto, we have opened the door for every other city to do the exact same thing based on the same argument: “If we don’t have transit, there will be more traffic.”

I don’t buy this. This makes no sense. You don’t take away a fundamental right because there’s traffic in a city. That makes no sense. This is what rights are all about. There is no danger to life with the job of a transit worker. There is no danger to health with the job of a transit worker. Will it be inconvenient? Absolutely; no doubt about this. But it does not meet the criteria for taking away a constitutional right that they have fought long and hard to achieve.

The attack on democratic rights that is about to be delivered by the Liberal government will have long-lasting repercussions. Let’s think about this. Let’s give a sober thought to this. We are opening up a door to a slippery slope.

The Deputy Speaker (Mr. Bruce Crozier): Further debate?

Hon. John Gerretsen: I know this is a very tough issue. On the one hand we have the right to strike, on the other hand we have what the municipality wants and on the other hand we have what is actually an essential service.

I find it interesting—especially listening to the last speaker, and I realize there’s a lot of passion there—it’s my understanding that the Amalgamated Transit Union in its own report in 2008 basically said that transit was an essential service here in the city of Toronto. You can’t have it both ways.

To my way of thinking, first of all, it’s a well-known fact around the House that with anything that goes to binding arbitration, usually the employer ends up in a much better financial situation if you don’t have binding arbitration. That’s one of the biggest complaints about the arbitration process that we currently have: that it leads to higher salaries. I’ve got no problem with that at all. I like the current system we have.

What I find interesting is that I know the union leadership wants to have the right to strike. That has been the typical response of the union movement and the union leadership over the last 100 years etc. When you talk to the individual members, though, often you get quite a different view. They kind of like the fact that they are subject to binding arbitration. They are not all that clear that they want the right to strike.

To my way of thinking, I am a believer in as much municipal autonomy as possible. The city of Toronto has put its position on the table through its elected council. You may not like the council; you may not like certain members of the council; their position is that they regard it as an essential service and they want this particular law to be passed. There’s absolutely no reason why we should inconvenience the people of Toronto—75% of whom, according to the latest poll, regard the service as an essential service—by not regarding the TTC as an essential service.

So I say to the members of the NDP, I agree that the right to strike is very important, but it is trumped in this particular case by the fact that the city of Toronto, through its elected council, wants this; and secondly, that the use of the TTC by people in Ontario is truly an essential service. Therefore, we believe that these kinds of contracts, if they can’t be negotiated between the two parties, should go to binding arbitration.

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This is the right bill for the right time in the 21st century that we all live in. This is the right approach, and I think in their heart of hearts, even the members of the NDP know that this is the way to go in this particular century.

The Deputy Speaker (Mr. Bruce Crozier): Further debate? Does any other member wish to speak?

Ms. Smith has moved third reading of Bill 150. Is it the pleasure of the House that the motion carry?

All those in favour, say “aye.”

All those opposed, say “nay.”

In my opinion, the ayes have it.

Since a recorded vote is required, this vote will be taken after question period this morning.

Third reading vote deferred.

CHRISTOPHER’S LAW (SEX OFFENDER
REGISTRY) AMENDMENT ACT, 2011 /
LOI DE 2011 MODIFIANT
LA LOI CHRISTOPHER
SUR LE REGISTRE
DES DÉLINQUANTS SEXUELS

Resuming the debate adjourned March 29, 2011, on the motion for second reading of Bill 163, An Act to amend Christopher’s Law (Sex Offender Registry), 2000 / Projet de loi 163, Loi modifiant la Loi Christopher de 2000 sur le registre des délinquants sexuels.

The Deputy Speaker (Mr. Bruce Crozier): Further debate?

Mr. Steve Clark: It’s a pleasure for me to take a few moments this morning to speak in favour of Bill 163, An Act to amend Christopher’s Law (Sex Offender Registry), 2000.

The reason I want to speak on it is that, Mr. Speaker, as you know, I worked for my predecessor, now Senator Bob Runciman, for a number of years, and I had the pleasure of also continuing to work with some of the staff that Senator Bob had. In my constituency office, Lynn Campbell and Pauline Connolly, two constituency assistants, now work for me, and my legislative assistant, Dianne Tominac, worked for Mr. Runciman for many years. I think Dianne said it best this morning when she referred to Mr. Runciman as a tireless advocate for victims’ rights, and I’m pleased today to put a few comments on the record in favour of Bill 163.

You see, it was Senator Runciman, as MPP Bob Runciman, Minister Bob Runciman, who on April 28, 1999, first introduced Christopher’s Law, Canada’s first sex offender registry, in response to the recommendations of the coroner’s inquest into the murder of 11-year-old Christopher Stephenson. It was also Senator Bob Runciman who had the privilege of sponsoring Bill S-2, the Protecting Victims from Sex Offenders Act. The legislation will significantly strengthen the national sex offender registry and the national DNA bank.

In looking at the bill and also reading Bill S-2, I think it will ensure that every individual who is convicted of a sexual offence in Canada is automatically registered with the national sex offender registry and required to provide a DNA sample to the national DNA bank, which certainly wasn’t the case under the current law. At present, as you know, a crown attorney must first make application to have the offender registered once he or she is convicted of a sex crime and the presiding judge has the direction to make such an order. Bill S-2 in the Senate would eliminate that feature. As you know, we on this side of the House were very pleased that we were the first government in Canada to present this, and Bill 163 will put us in line with that Senate bill, Bill S-2.

When I’m reviewing some of the notes and some of the documents that we had in our office, and as well some of the speeches in the Senate, I look at a quote that Jim Stephenson, Christopher’s father, echoed when talking about Bill S-2. His quote is as follows: “I have no doubt these changes will help solve and prevent terrible sexual offences on innocent victims. I urge parliamentarians to quickly pass this bill into law.”

The Stephensons don’t want to see other families go through what they did. If you review the circumstances surrounding Christopher’s abduction and murder, it’s clear that an effective sex offender registry might have saved Christopher’s life. I’m pleased today just to provide a few comments, because I know how important Christopher’s Law was in 1999 with now-Senator Runciman and how he was pleased that, in his new role as senator, he was able to present and co-sponsor Bill S-2. Our legislation, under Bill 163, and Bill S-2 now meld.

Thank you for allowing me to provide a few comments in tribute to my predecessor. I’m very pleased to support Minister Bradley’s Bill 163.

The Deputy Speaker (Mr. Bruce Crozier): Questions and comments?

Seeing none, Mr. Bradley has moved second reading of Bill 163. Is it the pleasure of the House that the motion carry?

All those in favour, say “aye.”

All those opposed, say “nay.”

In my opinion, the ayes have it.

Since a vote is required on this, it will be carried out after question period this morning.

Second reading vote deferred.

The Deputy Speaker (Mr. Bruce Crozier): Orders of the day?

Hon. Monique M. Smith: We have no further business at this time.

The Deputy Speaker (Mr. Bruce Crozier): There being no further business at this time, this House will stand in recess until 10:30 of the clock.

The House recessed from 1006 to 1030.

INTRODUCTION OF VISITORS

Hon. Laurel C. Broten: I want to welcome the family of today’s page captain, Devan Scholefield, who’s from the riding of Etobicoke–Lakeshore: his mom, Cindy, is here; his dad, Paul; his brother Mitchell; and his grandparents Jim and Peggy. Welcome to Queen’s Park.

Mr. Jeff Leal: It’s a delight for me this morning to introduce two guests in the members’ east gallery: Mr. Greg Young and Mr. Greg Conlin. They recently won a silent auction item to have lunch with their MPP. They’re looking forward to a lively question period today and then heading for lunch with their MPP.

Mr. Lou Rinaldi: I want to take the opportunity to welcome a couple of guests to the east gallery: Glen and Debbie Phinemore and Gary and Lynn Vanderherburg, and of course, my wife, Diane. Welcome.

Mr. Monte Kwinter: I’d like to introduce Ahmet Tamirci, the executive director, and Mehmet Budak, the executive coordinator of the Turkish Canadian Chamber of Commerce. They’re sitting there. Welcome.

The Speaker (Hon. Steve Peters): The member from Waterloo—Wellington Hills.

Mr. Ted Arnott: Wellington–Halton Hills, Speaker.

The Speaker (Hon. Steve Peters): Wellington–Halton Hills.

Mr. Ted Arnott: I was privileged to represent the people of Waterloo–Wellington for many years, but it’s now Wellington–Halton Hills.

I’m pleased to introduce one of our hard-working staff members, Daniel Gordon, who’s here today in the chamber.

Hon. Kathleen O. Wynne: I’d like to welcome to the House Thomas Eaton, Emiko Graham, Jessie Jay and Louis Szilagyi, who are the classmates of my staffer Jackie Roach’s son Griffin at Quest public school in Toronto. Welcome here for community resource week.

Mr. Tony Ruprecht: I’m delighted to introduce to the Legislature a very special person. Her name is Jessica Whitbread, and she’s just won a recognition from the ministry responsible for women’s issues. It’s called the Leading Women, Building Communities program. Jessica Whitbread, congratulations. Next to her is Angel Parks. Angel, welcome as well.

The Speaker (Hon. Steve Peters): I’d like all members to join me in welcoming three guests of mine in the Speaker’s gallery today. We have a long-time friend of mine and a great heritage activist and supporter of heritage buildings from London, Shmuel Farhi; his wife, Nicole Laidler; and their son Natan Farhi in the Speaker’s gallery. Welcome to Queen’s Park today.

ORAL QUESTIONS

TAXATION

Mr. Tim Hudak: My question is to the Minister of Finance. Minister, after more than seven years of making sacrifices for Premier McGuinty’s runaway spending, Ontario families were looking for some sign that you understood; that you got it that they’re looking for some relief so they can spend on their priorities, not Dalton McGuinty’s priorities. But you missed that—

The Speaker (Hon. Steve Peters): I’d caution the member about the use of names.

Mr. Tim Hudak: Yesterday’s speech, in fact, when you look at it, is nothing more than a prescription for Premier McGuinty to raise taxes once again on the backs of average hard-working families. Minister, why don’t you come clean? Is it an increase in the HST? Is it a carbon tax? Is it a school board tax? Won’t you be honest? What tax hike do you have planned for Ontario families?

Hon. Dwight Duncan: We laid out a plan yesterday, and we haven’t seen a plan from the member opposite. In fact, they were going to unveil their plan at a convention at the end of this month, and they cancelled the convention. I don’t get it.

Let me tell the Leader of the Opposition what Ontario families want. They want the best education for their kids, and we’re investing in that. That leader and his party will shut down full-day kindergarten. They will roll back the progress we’ve made on public education. They want test scores to drop to where they were when they were in office.

In terms of health care, billions more for better front-line services is what Ontarians want. They want a plan. They got one from us. They haven’t seen anything from that leader. They’re right out of the debate—

The Speaker (Hon. Steve Peters): Thank you. Supplementary?

Mr. Tim Hudak: What a bunch of nonsense from a finance minister who has simply run out of gas, run out of ideas and, thank goodness, is rapidly running out of time.

This is where we stand: An Ontario PC government would invest in front-line health care, invest in classroom education, cut out the McGuinty waste and—yes—give average, everyday families the relief they desperately need.

Your plan is obviously another tax hike. We’ve seen this movie before. Dalton McGuinty has one pattern: break promises, spend more of your money and then increase taxes on Ontario families.

Minister, come clean: What tax are you going to increase?

Hon. Dwight Duncan: When we brought in the largest personal tax cuts for all Ontarians, that member and his party voted against them. We laid out a tax plan for jobs and growth that was supported by the federal Conservative government of the day with $4 billion. That member and his party voted against it. We now have the lowest personal tax rate on the first $37,000 of income. We cut small business taxes by 20%—

Interjections.

The Speaker (Hon. Steve Peters): The member from Lanark knows better. He needs to be cautious with his comments. I will have to warn him.

Hon. Dwight Duncan: We’ve created for Ontarians the most tax credits on sales tax across the country. Then, when we lowered Ontario’s energy bills by 10%, that member and his party voted against it. Eighty-six per cent of senior Ontarians are paying less taxes; 90% of all Ontarians less—

The Speaker (Hon. Steve Peters): Thank you. Final supplementary.

Mr. Tim Hudak: The finance minister knows that his numbers simply don’t add up. The last shoe to drop is: What tax are you going to increase to pay for your runaway spending?

Minister, we’ve seen this movie before. Premier McGuinty solemnly swore that he wouldn’t increase taxes, and he brought in the so-called health tax. Premier McGuinty solemnly swore, “I won’t do it again,” and he brought in the HST tax grab. I know, Minister, that you’re now going for the hat trick.

Let me ask you directly: Are you planning on raising the HST by one point, or is it two?

Hon. Dwight Duncan: This government won’t raise the HST at all. Let’s be crystal clear.

Now let me ask the Leader of the Opposition a question.

Interjections.

The Speaker (Hon. Steve Peters): Members will please come to order.

Interjections.

The Speaker (Hon. Steve Peters): Stop the clock.

Interjection.

1040

The Speaker (Hon. Steve Peters): I thank the member for his assistance.

Look, we’re just into the very first question, and I’ve had to rise on a number of occasions. I recognize that there was a significant event that took place in the province of Ontario yesterday, an event that certainly allows the members—

Interjection.

The Speaker (Hon. Steve Peters): Minister of Agriculture. It is an opportunity now for the opposition to question the government on this event that took place yesterday. I would just ask that we have some courtesy in this House, not so much for ourselves but for our guests who are watching today, who are very interested in wanting to hear the debate that takes place.

New question.

TAXATION

Mr. Tim Hudak: Back to the finance minister: Yesterday’s budget was the first one in memory that spent more time talking about the leader of the official opposition than it did about ordinary, hard-working Ontario families. It is absolutely extraordinary how far—

Interjections.

The Speaker (Hon. Steve Peters): Sorry. Stop the clock.

Interjection.

The Speaker (Hon. Steve Peters): It’s not a laughing matter, Minister of the Environment. These are issues that are very important to the people of Ontario, and the people of Ontario expect the opposition to do its part and the government to do its part.

Please continue.

Mr. Tim Hudak: It shows how far out of touch the McGuinty government has come. When families are struggling to pay the basics, to pay the hydro bill; when they’re coping with smart meters that are nothing more than tax machines; when they’ve lost jobs across this province; when they’ve seen the HST take more and more out of their pockets, you had absolutely no relief for ordinary families, for seniors. Instead of providing relief, you turned the budget into a partisan attack against the opposition—an extraordinary missed opportunity to give families relief.

Minister, how out of touch are you that you see families as—

The Speaker (Hon. Steve Peters): Thank you. Minister?

Hon. Dwight Duncan: I did want to finish my last answer. Later this week, I will be submitting this plan to the Auditor General of Ontario for him to sign off on the reasonableness of our projections. We had to do that because the Hudak-Harris government, the previous government, left a hidden deficit of $5.5 billion.

I challenge the leader—

Interjections.

Hon. Dwight Duncan: I challenge the Leader of the Opposition—

Interjections.

The Speaker (Hon. Steve Peters): My comments do go both ways in this House. As much as I want to hear you ask the question, I do want to hear a response.

Please continue.

Hon. Dwight Duncan: I challenge the Leader of the Opposition to give the auditor his platform. Unfortunately, he doesn’t have one. He won’t tell people that he’s cutting $3 billion from health care. He won’t say which hospitals he’ll close or which schools he’ll close.

We’ve laid out a plan. It is a solid plan that gets Ontario back to deficit. I refer him to—

The Speaker (Hon. Steve Peters): Thank you. Supplementary?

Mr. Tim Hudak: Minister, come on. You said you’d released your plan in August, maybe later, and we all know—seniors know, families know and Premier McGuinty knows—his real plan will come out if he’s re-elected, with a whopping tax increase on the backs of average Ontario families once again.

Minister, there was no relief for struggling seniors in your budget. There was no relief in your budget for hard-working families trying to raise the kids. The only time you mention them is on page 16, where you allege that they have more money in their pockets today. That’s right up there with the likelihood of the Toronto Maple Leafs winning the Stanley Cup in 2011.

I don’t know, Finance Minister, where you and the Premier have been. Ontario families are looking for a break. Why do you see those struggling families as your own personal ATM machine?

Hon. Dwight Duncan: I’ll make one prediction: The Toronto Maple Leafs will win a Stanley Cup long before he’s Premier of Ontario.

Interjections.

The Speaker (Hon. Steve Peters): Members will please come to order.

Interjections.

The Speaker (Hon. Steve Peters): Members will please come to order. I am feeling much like a referee in a good hockey game between the Leafs and the Senators right now. Sometimes the referee will need to take a little bit of action. If this persists, we’re going to have to start sending some members to the penalty box and perhaps issuing some game misconducts.

Please continue.

Hon. Dwight Duncan: When we created the property tax credit for Ontario seniors and the energy tax credit, he voted against it. When we doubled that same tax credit, he voted against it. When we cut taxes for Ontario seniors making less than $37,000, he voted against it. When we created the Ontario clean energy benefit to lower seniors’ hydro bills by 10%, he voted against it.

We’ve laid out a plan. It’s a plan about eliminating a deficit as we build on our achievements in health care and education. That’s what’s important to the people of Ontario, not his empty rhetoric, lack of plan, or anything that he has had to say of substance.

The Speaker (Hon. Steve Peters): Final supplementary.

Mr. Tim Hudak: Minister, that’s a bet I’m willing to take, but I’ll tell you what: Let’s let the people of Ontario decide if they want change or four more years of the same.

Do you know what? If you want a sure bet, if you want a 100% guarantee, if you want to take it to the bank, then bet that Dalton McGuinty will raise taxes once again—

The Speaker (Hon. Steve Peters): That’s four times I’ve had to remind the honourable member. If he persists, I’m just going to bypass his question.

Mr. Tim Hudak: I hear you say your slogan is going to be, “We won’t raise taxes. This time we really mean it.”

Nobody believes you. You’re out of credibility. You’re out of time. Why don’t you just admit it? Are you going to raise the HST by one point or two, or is it a carbon tax? Just be honest.

Hon. Dwight Duncan: The Leader of the Opposition stands up and says this on the same morning he cancelled his policy convention where they were going to outline their platform. So we’re wondering: What is it they’re hiding? Why is it that he takes a phone call from his federal leader and says, “Well, we’re going to cancel that”?

The only thing I would ask is: When he spoke to his federal leader, did he talk about their failure to deal a realistic immigration deal to Ontario? Did he ask the federal leader about the Canada health transfer and whether or not that government, if it were elected, would stand up and protect Ontario? Those are the important issues.

We look forward to seeing a platform from the member, and until we see one, all we can do is draw comparisons with what he did when he was part of a previous government versus what he’s saying now. The people of Ontario have seen that—

The Speaker (Hon. Steve Peters): Thank you. New question.

ONTARIO BUDGET

Ms. Andrea Horwath: My question is to the finance minister. Yesterday afternoon, this minister presented the McGuinty government’s latest budget, the budget that will forever go down in history as the much-ado-about-nothing budget.

I’ve had a chance to pore over the budget and my question is a very simple one: Where is the relief for Ontario families who are struggling to pay the bills?

Hon. Dwight Duncan: I think children’s mental health and addictions are very important. I think risk management for our farmers is very important. I think 60,000 spaces in post-secondary education is very important, and I think laying out a plan that brings balance back to our budget and creates opportunity for Ontarians is very important.

We’ve laid out a plan, a plan that strikes the right balance between new investments in the services that people need and want and that gets us back to balance in a responsible fashion. Shame on the NDP for saying no to children’s mental health and calling it nothing.

The Speaker (Hon. Steve Peters): Supplementary.

Ms. Andrea Horwath: Ontario families were looking for some light at the end of a very long, dark tunnel, but the latest McGuinty government budget provides not even a flicker for families worried about jobs, about reduced incomes, about soaring household bills.

The finance minister stands here claiming that he spent the last several weeks actually listening to families. If he was doing so much listening, why did he ignore what families want and need to help them make ends meet?

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Hon. Dwight Duncan: The member wants to shine light, but it’s all darkness over there. Why is it that that when we created the northern Ontario industrial energy policy, she and her party voted against it? Why is it that when we created the energy credits for northern families, she voted against it? Why did she oppose us cutting energy bills by 10% when she only wanted to do it by 8%? Why did they oppose that?

The investments we have made are the right investments for a better future for Ontario. We’ve in fact laid out a plan that gets Ontario back to balance and protects the crucial investments we’ve made in health care and education. Those are important to all Ontarians.

The Speaker (Hon. Steve Peters): Final supplementary?

Ms. Andrea Horwath: Here is what I find especially galling about this budget: Families are going to be squeezed for more, including an additional $1.1 billion in sales taxes, as big corporations and profitable banks cash in with huge corporate tax giveaways. Does the finance minister really, truly believe that this is fair to families?

Hon. Dwight Duncan: Absolutely, because we cut personal taxes by $11 billion for Ontarians, and because we have the most generous sales tax credits and we have the most generous property tax credits in the country.

You know, it was interesting: Last night on French-language television, the member for Timmins said we didn’t cut enough, which is quite interesting. It’s unfortunate that most of Ontario couldn’t hear that. I know my colleague was on with him.

What’s the NDP about? We just don’t know. They vote against energy benefits, they vote against tax credits for seniors, they vote against lower taxes for all Ontarians, and then they stand up and say, “What are you doing?”

We laid out a plan. It’s clear and it’s working. It’s about a better future for our children and our grandchildren.

JOB CREATION

Ms. Andrea Horwath: My next question is again to the finance minister. It wasn’t so long ago that this minister boasted his government’s approach would create 600,000 jobs. Well, not so fast, apparently: Yesterday’s budget shows that the government now expects 60,000 fewer new jobs in the next two years.

Since they got the job projections so completely wrong in the last budget, why should anybody believe they’ve gotten them right this time around?

Hon. Dwight Duncan: First of all, let me remind the leader of the third party that it was, in fact, the Conservative Party’s expert witness at parliamentary budget hearings who said that over the next 10 years, starting last year, Ontario would create 600,000 jobs. We’re on target to do just that.

Let me remind the member opposite that we added 35,000 more jobs in 2010—35,000 more than we forecasted, 91%—

Interjections.

The Speaker (Hon. Steve Peters): Member from Hamilton East and the member from Renfrew. Remember the motto: “Hear the other side.” “Hear the other side.”

Please continue.

Interjection.

The Speaker (Hon. Steve Peters): I hadn’t even sat down, and you start to interject again.

Mr. John Yakabuski: I thought you were asking a question.

The Speaker (Hon. Steve Peters): No, I was not asking a question; I was making a statement to you to hear the other side.

Please continue.

Hon. Dwight Duncan: This side would love to hear what the Tories will do, because we have no idea what they’re going to do other than close hospitals and schools.

To the leader of the third party, we have, in fact, seen 91% of the lost jobs return—Stats Canada tells us 84% full-time. We’re going in the right direction. There’s more to do, and this government’s laid out a plan to do just that. She’ll create jobs in Alberta, and—

The Speaker (Hon. Steve Peters): Thank you. Supplementary?

Ms. Andrea Horwath: This minister may not want to admit it, but he and his government are coming up short, real short, when it comes to their credibility. The McGuinty government promised 600,000 jobs. They bragged about it over and over and over again. Now they’re saying it’s going to be far, far fewer than that.

The government says it’s turning a corner, but it’s still on the road to nowhere, and fast. When will the finance minister finally admit that his so-called jobs plan is in complete disarray?

Hon. Dwight Duncan: I would refer the leader of the third party to the last NDP finance minister for Saskatchewan, who, last night on TVO, generally supported the direction of this budget. Her name is Janice MacKinnon. She also said that our tax plan for jobs and growth was absolutely the right way to go.

Now, I wouldn’t advise that she do what the NDP in Nova Scotia did, which was to raise the HST in that province by two points.

Progressive voices in this province know that if you want to protect education, if you want to protect health care, there’s only one party in this Legislature that is doing that, and it’s the government of Premier Dalton McGuinty. The third party has a plan to move jobs to Alberta, to British Columbia, Saskatchewan, but they have no idea—

The Speaker (Hon. Steve Peters): Final supplementary?

Ms. Andrea Horwath: I’d suggest this finance minister look to Manitoba, which held the line on corporate taxes, rejected the HST and has 15,000 more jobs than they did before the recession started.

Yesterday, this minister unveiled a desperate attempt to apply a Band-Aid to a deep economic wound. Unfortunately for Ontarians, what we need is full-blown surgery. Clearly, this government has run out of steam. Now they are admitting that their job projections have been completely baseless, and struggling Ontario families are being forced to pay much, much more to receive considerably less.

Why does the minister insist on defending the status quo when the status quo is completely indefensible?

Hon. Dwight Duncan: Why did the leader of the third party vote against every initiative for working families that we’ve brought forward? Why did you vote against the Ontario child benefit that lowers taxes for low-income Ontarians? Why did you not support us when we added another $10 million to the northern Ontario heritage fund that will create jobs across the north? Why did you not support us with the Ontario clean energy benefit? That lowers energy bills by 10% for all Ontarians, seniors included.

We have laid out a clear plan that makes life better for all Ontarians. It builds on our achievements in health care and education. It will get this province back to balance. It’s important that Ontarians see the difference between this party and particularly the second party, but also the lack of any plan on the part of the third party.

ONTARIO BUDGET

Mr. Norm Miller: My question is to the finance minister. Yesterday’s speech shows just how out of touch the Premier and McGuinty Liberals have become with Ontario families. Ontario seniors have had to postpone their retirement to keep paying their mortgages, rising taxes and skyrocketing hydro bills. Yet, contrary to what they are experiencing, you say 86% of seniors have more money in their pockets.

Is it contagious? Do you sit too close to the Premier? How did you get to be so out of touch with Ontario seniors?

Hon. Dwight Duncan: I am proud to sit on the same team as Premier Dalton McGuinty. This morning, Premier McGuinty is in Battle Creek, Michigan, signing a deal that will bring new jobs to Belleville. That’s what he’s doing. That’s where he is today. I’d ask the member opposite: When we created the Ontario property tax credit for seniors, why did he and the Conservatives here in Ontario vote against it? When we doubled that property tax credit, why did the Conservative Party vote against it? When we lowered taxes for the lowest-income Ontarians and for seniors, why did they vote against it?

We have a plan; we have a strong plan—no plan. Better future—bad future.

The Speaker (Hon. Steve Peters): Supplementary?

Mr. Norm Miller: Either the finance minister is out of touch or he thinks he can put phony numbers past Ontario families. The problem is, no one believes you. You boasted about the number of bureaucrats cut from the OPS, but every one of them was an HST tax collector you sent to Ottawa. You say you added more nurses, but the Ontario Nurses’ Association says the McGuinty Liberals cut 2,400 nurses since the last election. You say employment and manufacturing are up, but everyone knows that’s not a true picture of Ontario today.

When will you get down to business and give Ontario families the real fiscal picture?

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Hon. Dwight Duncan: We did that yesterday. What we haven’t seen—

Interjections.

Hon. Dwight Duncan: Early next week, I will be submitting this to the Auditor General of Ontario under a law we created, because the previous government hid a $5.5-billion deficit that plugged figures in their budget that they delivered at Magna. We had to clean up the mess.

This will be submitted; I look forward to the auditor’s position. I ask the member opposite: Will you submit your plan, if you ever have one, to the Auditor General for him to sign off on your numbers? Because nothing you said in your question is accurate.

The Speaker (Hon. Steve Peters): I’d ask the honourable member to withdraw the comment, please.

Hon. Dwight Duncan: I withdraw.

The Speaker (Hon. Steve Peters): New question.

PRIVATIZATION OF PUBLIC SERVICES

Mr. Peter Tabuns: My question is to the Minister of Finance. In your budget yesterday, you opened the door wide open to American-style privatized public service delivery here in Ontario. From your changes to ServiceOntario to the Drummond commission, it’s clear that this government is open to the ideas being promulgated by such Tea Party state governments as Wisconsin, Ohio and Indiana.

Why is this government opening the door to the kind of conflict and disruption that we now see in states such as Wisconsin?

Hon. Dwight Duncan: In fact, what we are open to is working to provide the best public services at the best price to all Ontarians, and I think that’s a reasonable proposition.

I would invite the member opposite to consider a couple of opportunities. First of all, we funded something called 211 about three years ago—you did vote against that; that’s run by the United Way across Ontario. They would like to be able to help us offer services through 211. It’s a non-profit, and they might be able to do it more effectively. So we are quite happy to work with the United Way and others.

The world is changing. It’s evolving rapidly. We will make choices that help deliver public services in the most cost-effective way so that the money we save can be put to the things that are important to Ontarians: better schools and better health care.

The Speaker (Hon. Steve Peters): Supplementary?

Mr. Peter Tabuns: This is an agenda that is not that well hidden, Mr. Finance Minister. Infrastructure Ontario is the vehicle that this government uses to build its P3 hospitals, hospitals that end up costing the public far more than if they were built through traditional public sector approaches.

Interjections.

Mr. Peter Tabuns: Calm down. Calm down. You can go check the record: It’s true.

Why is this government expanding the same failed, expensive approach to privatizing hospitals to new areas of provincial and municipal infrastructure?

Hon. Dwight Duncan: I want to applaud the work of Infrastructure Ontario in delivering better services to all Ontarians. We have had delegations from all over the place coming to see how well that’s working.

The fact is that we’re building 18 new hospitals. I think there are another five that are at various advanced stages of planning. That’s important, and we are getting the best deal we can.

I reject that tired old rhetoric from the 1930s, as do Ontarians. They know what is happening all over Ontario—

Hon. James J. Bradley: Tony Blair rejected it.

Hon. Dwight Duncan: Tony Blair is a perfect example.

I would invite you to look at the NDP records in other provinces, but I wouldn’t look back at the NDP in Ontario, the only government to ever open up and strip collective agreements with working Ontarians. That’s a shameful, shameful heritage.

BREAST CANCER

Ms. Helena Jaczek: My question is for the Minister of Health and Long-Term Care. Breast cancer is the most common type of cancer faced by women in Ontario. Cancer Care Ontario estimates that in the next year alone, 8,900 Ontario women will develop breast cancer and approximately 2,100 women will die from it.

Thanks to recent reports, we know that Ontario is a world leader in cancer care and cancer survival rates, but the fact remains that women are still losing the battle against breast cancer. These women are our mothers, daughters, sisters, wives, friends and neighbours.

Yesterday’s budget document contained a commitment to increase funding for breast cancer screening, an important part of the early detection of cancer. Would the minister please tell this House how this funding will benefit Ontario women?

Hon. Deborah Matthews: I’d like to thank the member from Oak Ridges–Markham for this question. I’m sure that many, if not all, members of this Legislature have been touched in one way or another by breast cancer, just as all Ontarians have been. That’s why I was so very, very pleased that a $15-million expansion to the Ontario breast screening program was announced in yesterday’s budget. I do want to take the opportunity to thank the member from Sault Ste. Marie for his advocacy on this issue. This means an additional 90,000 breast scans over the next three years. For the last 20 years, women aged 50 and over have been able to have these screenings. This is one of the reasons Ontario’s breast cancer survival rates are among the highest in the world. But we’re taking this program even further by expanding eligibility to high-risk women starting at age 30.

Together with Cancer Care Ontario, the Ontario—

The Speaker (Hon. Steve Peters): Thank you. Supplementary?

Ms. Helena Jaczek: This is great news for women with a higher risk of developing breast cancer. I’m confident it will go a long way to improve access to breast cancer screening in my riding of Oak Ridges–Markham and across Ontario. Certainly, as a physician, I know that the Ontario breast screening program has an excellent reputation for high-quality assessment services and follow-ups.

I understand that this expanded program will be available this summer. Until then, can the minister assure breast cancer patients that the care they need is available to them today?

Hon. Deborah Matthews: The member is absolutely correct. We’re working on finalizing the eligibility criteria, and this expanded screening program will be in place this summer. We want to get it up and running as quickly as possible because the earlier cancer is detected, the better the chance of beating it. These additional scans are just part of what we’re doing on the breast cancer front. These are in addition to the over 300,000 additional scans our government has added. We’ve also funded 53 new breast screening sites, for a total of 153 sites across the province. Through our public drug program, we funded 35 new cancer drugs, five of which are for breast cancer.

We are tackling breast cancer head on, which is more than I can say for the people opposite, the official opposition. Their cuts mean that they will—

The Speaker (Hon. Steve Peters): Thank you. New question.

GOVERNMENT CONSULTANTS

Ms. Lisa MacLeod: My question is to the Acting Premier. The Ontario PC leader has called for a committee of this Legislature to review all government agencies. It’s a remarkable step—

Interjections.

The Speaker (Hon. Steve Peters): Stop the clock. Order, please.

Please continue.

Ms. Lisa MacLeod: This is a remarkable step toward democracy, to take power out of the Premier’s office and ask members of this Assembly to inform us on how government services should be structured. Premier McGuinty, by contrast, has proposed to contract out a review of government to a high-priced, hand-picked group of consultants on a panel led by the architect of the HST, Don Drummond. The last time we received a report to this government was when it was proposing the HST.

Is the Premier of this province contracting out the review because he can’t help himself from appointing high-priced consultants, or does he simply think his caucus is too out of gas, too out of touch and too out of talent?

Hon. Dwight Duncan: Members of this House do have the opportunity to put forward plans. Unfortunately, the member opposite and her party have refused to do so. I will say this about Mr. Drummond, who is one of Canada’s most respected economists and who has not always agreed with this government: He was a senior official at federal finance for many years. He’s one of the most published economists in this country. We look forward to hearing recommendations from him and others and we look forward to your recommendations. Unfortunately, you haven’t said anything yet. You haven’t given us a plan. I think that instead of insulting honourable Canadians with cheap talk, the member opposite ought to clean up the act and start showing respect to the people of Ontario and the people who generously volunteer their service.

The Speaker (Hon. Steve Peters): Supplementary?

Ms. Lisa MacLeod: Respect for this Legislature is actually putting the power back into the hands of MPPs in this chamber instead of hand-picked, high-priced consultants who are going to inevitably tell us that we’re going to need to raise taxes.

The Ontario PCs, under our leader Tim Hudak’s plan, will put the power back in the hands of the members of this Legislative Assembly to review spending and to ensure that front-line care and other critical services that we deliver in Ontario are protected.

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Your hand-picked, high-priced consultants are only accountable to the Premier of this province, who calls the shots, and the consultant you hand-picked is the same person who handed you a report to bring in the HST.

The question is not how much you’re going to hike it, or if you’re going to hike it; the question is, when are you going to table a new hike to the HST in this province?

Hon. Dwight Duncan: What a sad spectacle from the party of Leslie Frost and Bill Davis.

You know what? I don’t think members of this Legislature ought to be trash-talking important individuals, Canadians who have made an enormous contribution to the public—

Interjections.

The Speaker (Hon. Steve Peters): The members from Simcoe–Grey, Lanark and Renfrew.

Please continue.

Hon. Dwight Duncan: I look forward to Mr. Drummond’s recommendations, just as I look forward to Professor Jack Mintz’s recommendations. I’ll remind you that he was the Conservative’s leading expert at pre-budget consultations.

I think we in this House owe a courtesy to the people of Ontario: to treat them with respect and show them the honour that they deserve. Let’s work together in a calm, reasonable way to build a better future for our children and our grandchildren.

HEALTH CARE

Mme France Gélinas: Ma question est pour la ministre de la Santé et des Soins de longue durée. Ontario is in the midst of an unprecedented demographic shift. The number of seniors in the province is set to double, yet, looking at yesterday’s budget, you would never guess that the province was facing this drastic change. There certainly doesn’t seem to be any planning to ready ourselves for it. There’s nothing in the budget that will address the tsunami of Alzheimer’s, there is nothing in the budget for the tens of thousands of seniors unable to access the services they need to stay in their homes, and there are no plans for our hospitals struggling with 20% ALC patients in their beds as the demand for their services grows.

How can the minister be proud of a budget that ignores the demographic shift—to ensure that our seniors have the care they require?

Hon. Deborah Matthews: I could not disagree more with the premise of the question. This is a budget that is absolutely forward-looking, that is actually investing in health care. We are not cutting; we are building. What we are doing is very much focusing on the challenges that the member opposite has raised.

The issue of ALC in our hospitals is a serious issue, and one that we are addressing very successfully. Let me just give you one example. The Toronto Central local health integration network, under the leadership of Camille Orridge, has identified those ALC patients who are long-stay ALC, and they are developing an individualized plan for each one of those people to get them out of the hospital and into the community. Our budget supports that kind of innovation.

The Speaker (Hon. Steve Peters): Supplementary?

Mme France Gélinas: I disagree with the praise that the minister is laying on her track record.

The system of elderly care is broken. It starts with our home care system, which has been sold out to the lowest bidder, and goes right through to your government’s deeply flawed plan for retirement homes.

Increases to funding are important, but unless you fix the broken system, the same problems will continue. When will the minister be ready to address the problems and take a good look at her increasingly broken health care system?

Hon. Deborah Matthews: I completely reject the notion that our health care system is broken. It is much, much stronger than it was when we took office, and we are working to make it even stronger.

One of the things we really need to invest in, and that this budget does invest in, is the community sector. Let me tell you another story about a program from John Gerretsen’s Central East LHIN. I attended, with Minister Gerretsen, a program called OASIS. It provides care right in the building where a number of seniors live. As a result of this program, three members of this club have removed their names from the wait-list for long-term care. The number of calls to 911 for ambulance services has been greatly reduced. This is the kind of community investment that we are making right—

The Speaker (Hon. Steve Peters): Thank you. New question.

POST-SECONDARY EDUCATION
AND SKILLS TRAINING

Mr. Bill Mauro: This question is for the Minister of Training, Colleges and Universities. Minister, with the recession that has affected many Ontarians, a number of people are returning to school to increase their level of education or train for a new skilled trade. More and more Ontarians recognize that it is imperative they have the skills and education to compete for the best jobs. Many reports suggest that seven out of every 10 new jobs will require post-secondary education or training in the next decade.

In my riding of Thunder Bay–Atikokan, I’ve met with students attending Lakehead University and seen Lakehead grow considerably over the years, as more and more students recognize the quality of education they can receive. These young Ontarians are our future; they’re the next generation who will support and contribute to our economy.

Minister, how is our budget helping these students to continue with their studies and get the education that they need?

Hon. John Milloy: I’m very, very proud of our government’s commitment to post-secondary education and the literally billions of dollars that have been invested over the past number of years. To take one example, Lakehead University, in the member’s community, has seen an increase in its operating budget of 81% under our watch, and of course, yesterday there was the great news in the budget that we will be funding an additional 60,000 spots over the next five years.

There are those on the other side of the House in the Conservative Party who have criticized this announcement. They refuse to tell us their plan on post-secondary education. They refuse to remind people that they cut $430 million out of PSE when they were in office. They say that those spaces would happen anyway. They might happen under their watch, but we know they wouldn’t fund them.

The Speaker (Hon. Steve Peters): Supplementary?

Mr. Kevin Daniel Flynn: Oakville is one of the fastest-growing communities in all of Ontario. It’s also home to one of the greatest colleges in the world: Sheridan College. Sheridan offers top-notch programs. One of the best programs is a bachelor of arts in animation. It’s referred to as “the Harvard of animation.” Animation degree students come from all over the world. Once they graduate, they go and work for great companies like Pixar and DreamWorks. We’ve got close to 14,000 students at Sheridan. They keep growing. I want to make sure that growth continues.

Minister, we can’t go back to the PC days. Students saw their tuition fees increase by 67%. At the same time, financial aid assistance decreased by 41%. Will the minister tell us what the government is doing to assist the increased number of students expected at all our colleges over the next few years?

Hon. John Milloy: As I say, I was very proud of yesterday’s announcement that we will be providing funding to support an additional 60,000 students at the province’s colleges and universities.

I applaud the member for his support for post-secondary education. He mentioned Sheridan College, which has seen their funding increase by 69% since 2003. In addition, we have spent over $3 billion since we came to office to increase infrastructure investments at our colleges and universities and create tens of thousands of spaces. Moving forward, we’re going to continue to work with all our institutions, including ones like Sheridan, to make sure that we have the agreements and the understanding so that this growth happens in a way that is smart and happens in a way that is in the best interests for Ontario students.

PENSION PLANS

Mr. Jim Wilson: My question is for the Minister of Finance. Minister, on May 18 last year, the Pension Benefits Amendment Act received royal assent after getting all-party support in this House. This legislation was supposed to help thousands of public employees merge their pension assets so they that could retire with the benefits they have paid for. The list of employees ranged from paramedics and social service workers to property assessors and thousands of others affected by past divestments. Unfortunately for the people affected, you seem to have completely ignored the bill since it was passed and have failed to introduce the necessary regulations.

Minister, why are you ruining the retirement future of thousands of Ontario families?

Hon. Dwight Duncan: First of all, I’d like to thank all members of the Legislature for supporting the legislation. We had two major pieces of pension legislation pass unanimously, and I think that speaks to the good work we can do.

The member is accurate. The regulations have not been promulgated yet. The regulations under pension legislation are very complex and difficult. We are engaged in a range of consultations with management and with labour, and I’m confident that once we get a consensus there, we’ll be able to bring forward the regulations.

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In the interim, I’m pleased to report that the situation of pensions, both in the public and private sectors in Ontario, has improved dramatically in the last year.

The Speaker (Hon. Steve Peters): Supplementary?

Mr. Jim Wilson: I have introduced and debated a private member’s bill on this issue; tabled hundreds of petitions, as have my colleagues; written the minister on several occasions, and the Premier; and even asked for meetings for my constituents. Each time, the government either skirts the issue or says no. Whether it’s OMERS, the healthcare of Ontario pension plan, or the OPSEU pension trust, they all supported this bill and have been calling for it for years. The government’s own Expert Commission on Pensions said, “The government should promptly address the pension arrangements for groups of public service employees affected by past divestments and transfers.”

Waiting for resolution for years does not count as moving promptly. I ask the minister again: When will he introduce the regulations to allow these honest and hard-working paramedics and public sector workers to retire with the benefits they have earned in their pensions?

Hon. Dwight Duncan: Those regulations will be promulgated shortly. We have been working with them. That particular regulation is at the top of the list. In fact, the regulations will likely take us back to the date of passage of the legislation.

What they do remember is that when the Conservatives were in office, they brought forward pension legislation that completely ignored the requests of the labour side of the table in these things. They were forced to withdraw two bills—two bills. Bill 198: I remember it well in this House, because it was all about undermining working people’s pensions and pensions in the broader public sector.

This party’s record is strong. This party’s record is about a better future for all Ontarians.

NORTHERN ONTARIO

Ms. Andrea Horwath: My question is to the finance minister. Minister, your budget yesterday had nothing new for northern Ontario. What it did have, however, was a 7.3% cut to the budget of the Ministry of Natural Resources and a 3.2% cut to the budget of the Ministry of Aboriginal Affairs.

Families in the north were expecting a budget that would address the loss of value-added jobs, the higher cost of living and the soaring electricity rates that people in the north are facing. But instead of action, they got the same old tired rhetoric. Why did the McGuinty Liberals completely ignore northern Ontario in yesterday’s budget?

Hon. Dwight Duncan: I am pleased that yesterday we fulfilled our commitment to raise the northern Ontario heritage fund to $100 million. Now, a little history lesson. My northern colleagues reliably inform me that when she was part of a government, they cut the northern Ontario heritage fund by $60 million.

Let’s talk about last year’s budget, which that member voted against. When we created the northern industrial energy policy, they didn’t support it. When we provided funding to get the Ring of Fire, which I think has the most opportunity to help northern Ontario grow and prosper, she voted against it. When we created a tax package to create jobs in the north, which was supported by the mining and by the forestry sectors, she voted against it.

We’ve got a good plan for all—

The Speaker (Hon. Steve Peters): Thank you. Supplementary?

Ms. Andrea Horwath: Not only has this government stood silent while the cost of everyday life got more and more expensive and good, value-added jobs left the north—40,000 forestry workers, as a matter of fact, have lost their jobs in northern Ontario since 2003; in the last year alone, in the northwest, 11,000 jobs gone. But instead of confronting these challenges, you stick with a strategy that’s been failing the north for years.

Finance Minister, I would like to know: Is the 2011 budget an admission that your government has given up on northern Ontario completely?

Hon. Dwight Duncan: All right, let’s see. The northern Ontario energy tax credit, $200 per family: She voted against it. Some $1 billion in support to the forestry industry: She says it didn’t work. The northern Ontario heritage fund I spoke about, $100 million: They cut $60 million. It supports 15,000 jobs. The new northern industrial hydro rate, $150 million annually to keep prices competitive: She didn’t support that. The $1.8 billion northern Ontario highway strategy, 900 kilometres of roadbed: She didn’t support any of it.

This is the party that stands up for northern Ontario. That’s why we have members in Thunder Bay, in Sudbury, in Timiskaming and North Bay. That’s why northerners know who they can trust. It’s a Dalton McGuinty Liberal government that has delivered a better future for their children and grandchildren in northern Ontario.

MENTAL HEALTH
AND ADDICTIONS STRATEGY

Mrs. Maria Van Bommel: My question is for the Minister of Children and Youth Services. I had the opportunity to sit as a member of the Select Committee on Mental Health and Addictions, and for 18 months we worked to develop 23 recommendations founded in the need to develop better mental health and addictions care. In yesterday’s budget, the Minister of Finance confirmed our government’s commitment to a mental health and addictions strategy. He spoke specifically to children’s mental health.

As a grandmother, I see how brutal today’s world can be for children and how their mental state can be bombarded by things that even adults can’t always protect them from. I’m a firm believer in early intervention and the long-term benefits of such intervention.

Could the minister please give the House more information about how children’s mental health and addictions will be impacted by yesterday’s budget?

Hon. Laurel C. Broten: Thank you to the member for Lambton–Kent–Middlesex for her question, and I commend her on her advocacy on this important issue. She and all of my colleagues, along with the many voices of so many advocates, have worked to ensure that kids with mental health difficulties in her community and across the province get the help that they need as close to home as possible.

Yesterday was an important day for Ontario families. Our finance minister committed to strengthening services for children’s mental health with an immediate funding infusion, which will continue to grow over the next three years. Children’s Mental Health Ontario, Parents for Children’s Mental Health, children’s mental health agencies across the province and their dedicated front-line staff who help children tackle challenges every day and get on a path to success: We have listened to you and are responding to the needs in our communities.

As the budget laid out, significant funding will begin to flow. We will focus on services as close to home as possible, on early intervention, on early identification and getting services quickly. That is—

The Speaker (Hon. Steve Peters): Thank you. Supplementary?

Mrs. Maria Van Bommel: Yesterday’s budget presentation speaks extensively to our commitment to mental health and addictions services for children and youth. But in the hearings by the select committee, we saw how very complex and diverse mental health and addictions can be.

Going beyond the benefits of early intervention for children, we know that there are people in this province who are also looking for support for their own mental health and addictions needs. Could the minister please address the concerns of all Ontarians?

Hon. Laurel C. Broten: To the Minister of Health and Long-Term Care.

Hon. Deborah Matthews: I can assure the members of this Legislature that the McGuinty government is committed to providing better support for all Ontarians struggling with mental health and addictions issues. The province’s 10-year mental health and addictions strategy, which we will release very soon, will do just that. We know that mental health is a very important factor in overall health, and while the first three years of our strategy will focus on children and youth, our strategy will address the entire system. We will address issues such as stigma, better system navigation and taking a better patient-centred approach to the delivery of care and services.

Yesterday’s commitment represents a very important step forward, but it is just the beginning. The executive director of Children’s Mental Health Ontario said that these investments are going to help thousands and thousands of kids who are struggling with mental health and addictions. These investments will help families and children. It will also put Ontario in the lead when it comes to mental health and addictions.

WIND TURBINES

Mr. Ted Arnott: My question is for the Minister of the Environment. Last May, the minister told his constituents in Wellington county that if a municipality did not sign off on a wind energy application, the government would not approve the project. He later backtracked, saying that the municipality must only be consulted, but he added that the proponents still had to submit a complete application.

Last week, the Wellington Advertiser reported that the county of Wellington and the township of Mapleton have refused to submit the municipal consultation form on a wind farm proposal in Mapleton township. The minister used to say that a complete application requires the municipal consultation form, but now we find out that the government accepted the application nine days before the county of Wellington even took its stand.

Why did the minister accept the application even though the municipal consultation form was glaring in its omission?

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Hon. John Wilkinson: I’m delighted to answer the question. We have been very clear to our municipalities that though we have the final say, we will say no unless the municipalities have been consulted.

I want to thank the county of Wellington for writing me and expressing to me, as the Minister of the Environment, their concerns about the project. So they have been consulted; they are providing us the feedback. That’s exactly how the Green Energy Act is going to work.

If they choose that they do not want to fill in the form that the proponent requires them to complete, then we’ll just listen directly to the municipality. That’s why we want to listen directly to the public and that’s why they keep on providing that to us.

But I guess the question that I have for the member opposite is: Does he agree with the lung society? Does he agree with the asthma society; does he agree with the Registered Nurses’ Association of Ontario; does he agree with the Ontario College of Family Physicians, who all say that it’s important that we get out of coal, that we go to green, renewable sources of energy? That’s what’s important—

The Speaker (Hon. Steve Peters): Thank you. Supplementary?

Mr. Ted Arnott: People in Wellington county are wondering if they can believe this minister anymore. I would submit that they can’t.

Hansard quotes—

The Speaker (Hon. Steve Peters): I would ask the honourable member to withdraw that comment.

Mr. Ted Arnott: I withdraw.

Hansard quotes the minister last October: “There will not be an approval of a renewable energy approval in this province of Ontario unless an application is complete.” The minister used to say that an application would not be complete without the municipal consultation form. The county of Wellington and the township of Mapleton are making a statement based on the minister’s assurance that they would have a say, but people in Wellington county were mistaken if they believed him. The minister’s own constituents feel deceived.

Why is he allowing the wind farm application in his own riding to go around his own approval process? Why is he accepting an incomplete application when he promised he wouldn’t?

Hon. John Wilkinson: I say to the member opposite, and I’ll just repeat: The county of Wellington has been consulted and they have shared their concerns with me.

The renewable energy approval and the Green Energy Act are all about ensuring that the public and municipalities have their say. But in this province, it’s the province of Ontario, under the Green Energy Act, that has the final say, because we’re the only level of government that has the ability to shut down a wind turbine if it’s too noisy. The people of Ontario have a right to clean air, but we all have a right to a good night’s sleep. And it’s the province, not the municipality, that should be dealing with wind turbine companies. That’s why we have final say, but as I said, we will say no unless the municipality and the public have their say.

I want to thank the county of Wellington for writing me personally and sharing with me their concerns. We take those concerns very, very seriously, and we want to thank them for ensuring that we have all the—

The Speaker (Hon. Steve Peters): Thank you. New question.

POVERTY

Mr. Michael Prue: My question is to the finance minister. The word “poverty” was not mentioned once in the budget speech. There was not a single significant new measure to address poverty in this budget. Why has the government abandoned totally its poverty reduction strategy?

Hon. Dwight Duncan: I am pleased that in the budget yesterday, we could raise transfers for OW and ODSP. I am pleased that we are continuing to implement the Ontario child benefit, which benefits families of more modest means. I am pleased that we now have the lowest tax rate on the first $37,000 of income.

I’m very proud of the fact that we’ve taken 90,000 low-income Ontarians off the tax rolls. I’m very proud of our anti-poverty strategy, which, for the first time, identified the real measurements of poverty. I am proud that we promised to raise the minimum wage to $10.25 and we have done that. I am proud of a variety of investments we’ve made in the education and health care system. And I’m very proud of our initiative yesterday with respect to children’s mental health and addictions, which I would submit does in fact help children from more modest income brackets here in Ontario.

The Speaker (Hon. Steve Peters): Supplementary?

Mr. Michael Prue: This government promised to reduce poverty 25% in five years, and you are way behind target. Yesterday did not help at all.

Food bank use, waiting lists for affordable housing and child poverty are all increasing in Ontario. This budget has no increase to the minimum wage. It has no increase to the child benefit. It has no new food or housing benefits mentioned at all. There is no new money for affordable housing. There is no new money for child care.

Why has this government abandoned its commitment to poverty reduction? Don’t talk about the past. Talk about now.

Hon. Dwight Duncan: I’m glad he’s asking for an increase in the child benefit because he voted against it on numerous occasions. There they go again: cheap, empty rhetoric that does not reflect reality.

He failed to mention the Trillium benefit which is contained in yesterday’s budget. Here is what a social policy expert said: He praised the new Trillium benefit as “the beginning of a ... base benefit outside the welfare system for single people” that will work to help eliminate poverty.

You know what? He didn’t say that at a $500-a-plate dinner at Barberian’s, which the NDP do routinely, a week after they follow the welfare diet.

You have no concept. You’re not stating the facts. We have the most aggressive and successful policy designed to reduce poverty in Ontario history.

VISITORS

The Speaker (Hon. Steve Peters): I’d like to take this opportunity to welcome Sue Storr and Dave Burgess, in the west members’ gallery, from CHOK radio in Sarnia, who conducted their talk show from Queen’s Park today. Welcome to Queen’s Park.

DEFERRED VOTES

TORONTO TRANSIT COMMISSION LABOUR DISPUTES RESOLUTION ACT, 2011 /
LOI DE 2011 SUR LE RÈGLEMENT
DES CONFLITS DE TRAVAIL
À LA COMMISSION DE TRANSPORT
DE TORONTO

Deferred vote on the motion for third reading of Bill 150, An Act to provide for the resolution of labour disputes involving the Toronto Transit Commission / Projet de loi 150, Loi prévoyant le règlement des conflits de travail à la Commission de transport de Toronto.

The Speaker (Hon. Steve Peters): We have a deferred vote on the motion for third reading of Bill 150, An Act to provide for the resolution of labour disputes involving the Toronto Transit Commission. Call in the members. This is a five-minute bell.

The division bells rang from 1136 to 1141.

The Speaker (Hon. Steve Peters): Members please take their seats.

Ms. Smith has moved third reading of Bill 150. All those in favour will rise one at a time and be recorded by the Clerk.

Ayes

  • Aggelonitis, Sophia
  • Albanese, Laura
  • Arnott, Ted
  • Arthurs, Wayne
  • Bailey, Robert
  • Barrett, Toby
  • Bartolucci, Rick
  • Best, Margarett
  • Bradley, James J.
  • Broten, Laurel C.
  • Brownell, Jim
  • Carroll, Aileen
  • Chan, Michael
  • Chiarelli, Bob
  • Chudleigh, Ted
  • Clark, Steve
  • Colle, Mike
  • Crozier, Bruce
  • Dickson, Joe
  • Dombrowsky, Leona
  • Duguid, Brad
  • Duncan, Dwight
  • Dunlop, Garfield
  • Elliott, Christine
  • Flynn, Kevin Daniel
  • Gerretsen, John
  • Gravelle, Michael
  • Hardeman, Ernie
  • Hillier, Randy
  • Hoskins, Eric
  • Hoy, Pat
  • Hudak, Tim
  • Jaczek, Helena
  • Jeffrey, Linda
  • Johnson, Rick
  • Jones, Sylvia
  • Kwinter, Monte
  • Leal, Jeff
  • Levac, Dave
  • MacLeod, Lisa
  • Martiniuk, Gerry
  • Matthews, Deborah
  • Mauro, Bill
  • McNeely, Phil
  • Meilleur, Madeleine
  • Miller, Norm
  • Milloy, John
  • Mitchell, Carol
  • Munro, Julia
  • Murray, Glen R.
  • Orazietti, David
  • Ouellette, Jerry J.
  • Pendergast, Leeanna
  • Phillips, Gerry
  • Ramsay, David
  • Rinaldi, Lou
  • Ruprecht, Tony
  • Sandals, Liz
  • Savoline, Joyce
  • Smith, Monique
  • Sousa, Charles
  • Takhar, Harinder S.
  • Van Bommel, Maria
  • Wilkinson, John
  • Wilson, Jim
  • Witmer, Elizabeth
  • Wynne, Kathleen O.
  • Yakabuski, John

The Speaker (Hon. Steve Peters): Those opposed?

Nays

  • Bisson, Gilles
  • DiNovo, Cheri
  • Gélinas, France
  • Horwath, Andrea
  • Kormos, Peter
  • Marchese, Rosario
  • Miller, Paul
  • Prue, Michael
  • Tabuns, Peter

The Clerk of the Assembly (Ms. Deborah Deller): The ayes are 68; the nays are 9.

The Speaker (Hon. Steve Peters): I declare the motion carried.

Third reading agreed to.

CHRISTOPHER’S LAW (SEX OFFENDER
REGISTRY) AMENDMENT ACT, 2011 /
LOI DE 2011 MODIFIANT
LA LOI CHRISTOPHER
SUR LE REGISTRE
DES DÉLINQUANTS SEXUELS

Deferred vote on the motion for second reading of Bill 163, An Act to amend Christopher’s Law (Sex Offender Registry), 2000 / Projet de loi 163, Loi modifiant la Loi Christopher de 2000 sur le registre des délinquants sexuels.

The Speaker (Hon. Steve Peters): We have a deferred vote on the motion for second reading of Bill—

Interjections.

The Speaker (Hon. Steve Peters): The Minister of Community Safety and the member from Hamilton East, take it outside.

Interjections.

The Speaker (Hon. Steve Peters): We have a deferred vote on the motion for second reading of Bill 163, An Act to amend Christopher’s Law (Sex Offender Registry), 2000.

Call in the members. This will be a five-minute bell.

Hon. John Gerretsen: Same vote.

The Speaker (Hon. Steve Peters): Agreed? I heard a no.

Members will please take their seats.

Mr. Bradley has moved second reading of Bill 163. All those in favour will rise one at a time and be recorded by the Clerk.

Ayes

  • Aggelonitis, Sophia
  • Albanese, Laura
  • Arnott, Ted
  • Arthurs, Wayne
  • Bailey, Robert
  • Barrett, Toby
  • Bartolucci, Rick
  • Berardinetti, Lorenzo
  • Best, Margarett
  • Bisson, Gilles
  • Bradley, James J.
  • Broten, Laurel C.
  • Brownell, Jim
  • Carroll, Aileen
  • Chan, Michael
  • Chiarelli, Bob
  • Chudleigh, Ted
  • Clark, Steve
  • Colle, Mike
  • Crozier, Bruce
  • Dickson, Joe
  • DiNovo, Cheri
  • Dombrowsky, Leona
  • Duguid, Brad
  • Duncan, Dwight
  • Dunlop, Garfield
  • Elliott, Christine
  • Flynn, Kevin Daniel
  • Gerretsen, John
  • Gélinas, France
  • Gravelle, Michael
  • Hardeman, Ernie
  • Hillier, Randy
  • Horwath, Andrea
  • Hoskins, Eric
  • Hoy, Pat
  • Hudak, Tim
  • Jaczek, Helena
  • Jeffrey, Linda
  • Johnson, Rick
  • Jones, Sylvia
  • Kormos, Peter
  • Kwinter, Monte
  • Leal, Jeff
  • Levac, Dave
  • MacLeod, Lisa
  • Marchese, Rosario
  • Martiniuk, Gerry
  • Matthews, Deborah
  • Mauro, Bill
  • McNeely, Phil
  • Meilleur, Madeleine
  • Miller, Norm
  • Miller, Paul
  • Milloy, John
  • Mitchell, Carol
  • Munro, Julia
  • Murray, Glen R.
  • Orazietti, David
  • Ouellette, Jerry J.
  • Pendergast, Leeanna
  • Phillips, Gerry
  • Prue, Michael
  • Ramsay, David
  • Rinaldi, Lou
  • Ruprecht, Tony
  • Sandals, Liz
  • Savoline, Joyce
  • Smith, Monique
  • Sousa, Charles
  • Tabuns, Peter
  • Takhar, Harinder S.
  • Van Bommel, Maria
  • Wilkinson, John
  • Wilson, Jim
  • Witmer, Elizabeth
  • Wynne, Kathleen O.
  • Yakabuski, John

The Speaker (Hon. Steve Peters): Those opposed?

The Clerk of the Assembly (Ms. Deborah Deller): The ayes are 78; the nays are 0.

The Speaker (Hon. Steve Peters): I declare the motion carried.

Second reading agreed to.

The Speaker (Hon. Steve Peters): Shall the bill be ordered for third reading?

Hon. James J. Bradley: I ask that the bill be referred to the Standing Committee on Justice Policy.

The Speaker (Hon. Steve Peters): So ordered.

NOTICE OF DISSATISFACTION

The Speaker (Hon. Steve Peters): Pursuant to standing order 38(a), the member for Wellington–Halton Hills has given notice of dissatisfaction with the answer to his question given by the Minister of the Environment concerning wind farm approvals. This matter will be debated next Tuesday at 6 p.m.

There being no further business, this House stands recessed until 3 p.m. this afternoon.

The House recessed from 1149 to 1500.

INTRODUCTION OF VISITORS

Ms. Lisa MacLeod: I’d like to welcome to the chamber today some long-time viewers but first-time visitors. I’ve got Cassandra Edwards from Greely, Kayla Fernet from Craig Henry, and Ashley Croke from Barrhaven. They’re with my assistant, Meg, and they all work and do great things for the people of Nepean–Carleton. I’m really excited that they’re actually in the chamber here today.

The Speaker (Hon. Steve Peters): We welcome you. I think you will experience today, and I say this to all our viewers at home, that it is one thing to watch us on television or watch us via live streaming on the Internet, but it is quite another experience to come and visit the Legislative Assembly here in downtown Toronto and witness the action first-hand. You will see things and you will hear things that you would not generally pick up on the television. So we welcome you to Queen’s Park.

MEMBERS’ STATEMENTS

HEALTHY BABIES,
HEALTHY CHILDREN

Mrs. Elizabeth Witmer: I’m pleased to rise today to speak about a program that has received widespread critical acclaim from health professionals and families throughout the province of Ontario. This program has provided a very strong and vigorous start to life for tens of thousands of newborn babies. Regrettably, this program is now suffering from a lack of funding under the Liberal government.

The program I speak of is Healthy Babies, Healthy Children. I was health minister when our government made a commitment to ensure that each and every newborn baby in this province and their parents would receive the support and resources required to start life on a healthy and solid footing. We provided that a public health nurse would visit all new mothers and babies in order to determine if that family and that baby might require some support. Our government made unparalleled investments in this postnatal program, increasing its funding every year as the population increased, as did the need.

Unfortunately, the McGuinty government has now broken this commitment to babies, children and their families. They have turned their back on them by not providing sufficient funding in recent months and years. The Waterloo Record states, “The province’s inability” to fund this program “raises questions about the government’s priorities.”

I agree. Why is this government not making the funding available—

The Speaker (Hon. Steve Peters): Thank you.

TEAM 2056, ORCHARD PARK ROBOTICS

Mr. Paul Miller: Today, I’m proud of the stellar work of Orchard Park Secondary School’s robotics team from my Hamilton East–Stoney Creek riding. The team, which goes by the name of 2056, has kicked off its upcoming season with its ninth straight championship win at the tournament held in Rochester, New York. The team placed first out of 44 teams from Ontario and the northeastern United States. The Rochester win takes the students to the upcoming world championships in St. Louis.

It’s a privilege to congratulate the students, the school, the parents and the teachers for their success, hard work and dedication. Orchard Park’s robotics team has shown what students can accomplish when they work hard and are encouraged to their full potential, success that is often the case in the Hamilton-Wentworth District School Board.

I encourage any individuals or businesses to support such a wonderful organization. Visit the robotics team website, www.2056.ca, for information on how to get involved or to make a donation.

I wish continued success to these students when they travel to the world championships later this spring. They’ll make Stoney Creek, Hamilton, Ontario and Canada very proud.

SNOWMOBILING

Mr. Michael A. Brown: I’d like to report to the House on my annual Snow Tour. The first ride began, Mr. Speaker, as you know, in the year 2000 and has hosted over 30 different members who have snowmobiled at least 4,000 kilometres over the years, from Manitouwadge to Chapleau, from Dubreuilville to Elliot Lake, and a host of other communities.

This year I was accompanied by the members from Scarborough–Agincourt, Ajax–Pickering and Oakville.

This year the ride began on St. Joseph Island with a wonderful breakfast featuring famous St. Joseph Island maple syrup. It was hosted by Ches Wallace and the fine volunteers at the Legion in Richards Landing. Then we were off, leaving from Jack Hore’s house at Hilton Beach, for lunch in Thessalon and a tour of the new construction at Algoma Manor. A big thanks to Donna Latulippe and the fine staff at the manor.

After lunch we were off to Elliot Lake, with a quick stop for fuel at Ted Linley’s Country Store in Iron Bridge before heading to Elliot Lake. Thank you to the Hampton Inn and Elliott Lake for their hospitality and Jack Quinte of Oliver’s for a superb dinner.

The next day we returned to the Hilton on St. Joseph Island for a time of refreshment and trail tales. Special thanks to Jack Hore, Bruce McNeely and Mark MacKinnon of the Algoma Snow Plan, the OPP officers, Dave Liske of the STOP program, Deputy Mayor Al Collette of Elliot Lake, Tim West of the Ontario Federation of Snowmobile Clubs, the Bruce Mines Sno Glyders and Gerry Bertrand of the Elliot Lake Snowbirds for their hard work on the trails. I want to recognize especially Luc Levesque and Rejean Raymond, who have been on almost all of my snowmobile trips. We couldn’t get on without them. Thank you.

TWESTIVAL OTTAWA

Ms. Lisa MacLeod: I’m pleased to deliver a statement today on behalf of not only myself but my colleague from Ottawa Centre, Yasir Naqvi, about a great event that he and I were able to attend last Thursday in the city of Ottawa. It was called Twestival, and 250 of our community friends and neighbours got together over Twitter. Over 150 communities across the world got together from places like Canada, Italy and Australia to raise a combined total of $500,000 for charities in their community.

My colleague Mr. Naqvi and I attended an event in Ottawa which hosted 250 people and raised over $13,000 for mental health awareness and treatment in the city of Ottawa through the Royal Ottawa Hospital and Do It For Daron and that great cause. Mr. Naqvi and myself would like to thank the tremendous supporters of that event, not only the organizers but the communities.

Mr. Speaker, I’ve got great news for you. Not one cent of that $13,000 that was raised went to the event. All of it went to children’s mental health, adult mental health and treatment in our community. The ticket price 100% went to that good work.

I want to say thank you to all my colleagues in the Legislature for congratulating the great efforts of the people of Twestival Ottawa. May they do this again, and may we be there with them.

COBOURG COMMUNITY CENTRE

Mr. Lou Rinaldi: It’s my privilege to share some great news from my riding. On April 16 we’ll be celebrating the official opening of the Cobourg Community Centre. Our provincial government made an investment of over $9 million through the infrastructure stimulus fund to see this project come to fruition. Not only is this funding an investment in good, solid infrastructure that will be here for years to come, but the construction of this facility created hundreds of jobs—local jobs that had workers employed seven days a week, 24 hours a day. I’m proud that this community had the opportunity and the forethought to hire local companies to provide services to keep workers and these jobs right here at home.

Some of the local service providers are Battlefield Equipment Rentals, Blake Construction, Carpenters Local 397, Cogeco, Cressman Tree Maintenance and Landscaping Ltd., Culligan The Good Water Company, Don on the Job, FedEx, Kelly Excavating, L.A. Signs, Labour Local 183, Lafarge Canada Inc., Lakefront Utility Services Inc., Lakeland Multitrade, Ontario Line Clearing, Plumbers Union Local 463, Portable Food Service Truck, PraxAir Inc., Rent All and RONA Building Supplies. This is just one of those infrastructure investments that was good all the way around.

PROVINCIAL DEFICIT

Mr. John O’Toole: This afternoon I want to give a little advice to little Caesar, the finance minister: some wise words from some very respected people whom I know he knows.

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First, a piece of advice from former federal deputy finance minister—Paul Martin’s deputy—and recent blue ribbon appointee Don Drummond, whom this morning Minister Duncan called “one of Canada’s most respected economists” and said he looked forward to hearing his recommendations. Mr. Drummond said the deficit is “a lot higher than people are thinking and it’s a graphic illustration to me that there is a structural deficit in Ontario.” That’s from Mr. Drummond.

Former federal Finance Minister John Manley recently said, “The single most important thing you could do to secure the future of” Ontario “is to rally your caucus and the population of Ontario behind a declaration of war … I am proposing a war on the provincial debt, before it is too late.”

Lastly, the words of former Finance Minister Paul Martin before the 1995 austerity budget that he championed—and one of the best finance ministers ever in Canada: “The debt and deficit are not inventions of ideology. They are facts of arithmetic.... The only thing Canadians want is clear action,” which is missing here today.

These experts and Liberals are all saying the same thing—

The Speaker (Hon. Steve Peters): Thank you.

LAKE SUPERIOR CENTRE FOR
REGENERATIVE MEDICINE

Mr. Bill Mauro: For decades, people in Thunder Bay have hoped for more diversification of their economy to create more opportunities for young people so they could stay at home.

Over the last seven years, our government has played a significant role in making that very thing happen. Just last week, I was very proud to be part of another great announcement in Thunder Bay. It’s news that will enhance health outcomes, expand our knowledge-based sector and further diversify our economy, creating more jobs and opportunity for young people.

Lake Superior Centre for Regenerative Medicine has now been designated as a type D facility, a tissue and bone bank, by the Trillium Gift of Life Network. This designation will allow Lake Superior Centre for Regenerative Medicine to create a local donor recovery program to access and process tissue and bone.

This program will result in an increased supply of tissue and bone, which will greatly enhance patient health outcomes and reduce the reliance on tissue imported from America. The designation will also allow this company to move forward to hire 30 employees with the potential for so many more.

I need to thank my old friend Bob Thayer, Judy Sander and the board of this organization, who have persevered on this issue. They are at the forefront of an economic transformation taking place in Thunder Bay.

With our government support, another health and knowledge company in the northwest is now positioned for future growth. The diversification of our economy is definitely moving forward. That will mean more knowledge-based jobs and more jobs for young people.

DUDLEY LAWS

Mr. Mike Colle: I rise today in the provincial Legislature to pay tribute to Dudley Laws, who passed away last week.

Dudley was a tireless, fearless and most unforgettable voice of equality for all Torontonians, no matter what their ethnic origin. For 50 years, Dudley Laws fought for social justice, not only within the black community but for all communities that needed help. Whether you were a domestic worker, in the prison system, a refugee or a new immigrant, Dudley was there. In fact, two weeks before he was taken seriously ill with kidney disease, he spent time in Joyceville prison celebrating Black History Month with some of the black inmates.

Dudley was a proud son of Jamaica, a proud Canadian and a welder by trade, and always believed in getting young people to learn a trade so they would be able to do something with their lives and be productive.

Dudley was completely generous to a fault. He was an incredible advocate. He was a neighbour of mine for many years, a friend and, as I say, a constant, tireless advocate for those who needed help.

Dudley Laws is going to be missed by his family and friends. He was a great shining light in the most difficult and controversial of times, but Dudley was a fearless fighter for what he thought was right. Many people on Dufferin today will tell you, when you ask them about Dudley Laws, “Dudley Laws speaks for me.”

ONTARIO BUDGET

Mr. Yasir Naqvi: Yesterday, Ontarians were happy to hear the finance minister tell this House that Ontario is turning the corner to a better tomorrow. Our plan is working, the economy is improving and jobs are coming back.

The 2011 budget is the next step. It contains new strategic investments which will create and retain nearly 10,000 jobs, add more than 60,000 post-secondary spaces, expand breast cancer screening, improve children’s mental health services and help our farmers. At the same time, we are diligently working to eliminate the deficit. The 2010-11 deficit is now projected to be $3 billion lower than it was forecast to be one year ago. We have also identified savings of nearly $1.5 billion across government over the next three fiscal years. All this while protecting education, health care and economic growth. We are building a strong economy that creates jobs.

The PCs oppose our plan. They’re against creating 600,000 jobs, against cutting taxes for families by over $12 billion and against cutting taxes for businesses by $4.8 billion. The Leader of the Opposition didn’t even support the infrastructure investments that brought 4,500 jobs to his own community. He’s more interested in laying off over—

The Speaker (Hon. Steve Peters): Thank you.

REPORTS BY COMMITTEES

STANDING COMMITTEE ON
SOCIAL POLICY

Mr. Rick Johnson: I beg leave to present a report from the Standing Committee on Social Policy and move its adoption.

The Clerk-at-the-Table (Ms. Tonia Grannum): Your committee begs to report the following bill, as amended:

Bill 141, An Act to amend the Health Protection and Promotion Act / Projet de loi 141, Loi modifiant la Loi sur la protection et la promotion de la santé.

The Speaker (Hon. Steve Peters): Shall the report be received and adopted? Agreed? Agreed.

Report adopted.

The Speaker (Hon. Steve Peters): The bill is therefore ordered for third reading.

STANDING COMMITTEE ON REGULATIONS AND PRIVATE BILLS

Mr. Michael Prue: I beg leave to present a report from the Standing Committee on Regulations and Private Bills and move its adoption.

The Clerk-at-the-Table (Ms. Tonia Grannum): Your committee begs to report the following bill, without amendment:

Bill Pr36, An Act to revive 1314596 Ontario Inc.

The Speaker (Hon. Steve Peters): Shall the report be received and adopted? Agreed? Agreed.

Report adopted.

INTRODUCTION OF BILLS

HIGHWAY TRAFFIC
AMENDMENT ACT, 2011 /
LOI DE 2011 MODIFIANT
LE CODE DE LA ROUTE

Mr. Prue moved first reading of the following bill:

Bill 174, An Act to amend the Highway Traffic Act in respect of contravening the rules of the road and causing death / Projet de loi 174, Loi modifiant le Code de la route en ce qui concerne les contraventions aux règles de la circulation et le fait de causer la mort d’une personne.

The Speaker (Hon. Steve Peters): Is it the pleasure of the House that the motion carry? Carried.

First reading agreed to.

The Speaker (Hon. Steve Peters): The member for a short statement.

Mr. Michael Prue: The bill amends the Highway Traffic Act to make it an offence to cause the death of or bodily harm to any person as a result of contravening any rule of the road set out in part X of the act.

MOTIONS

PRIVATE MEMBERS’ PUBLIC BUSINESS

Hon. Monique M. Smith: I believe we have unanimous consent to put forward a motion without notice regarding private members’ public business.

The Speaker (Hon. Steve Peters): Agreed? Agreed.

Hon. Monique M. Smith: I move that, notwithstanding standing order 98(b), the following changes be made to the ballot list dated March 9, 2011, for private members’ public business: Mr. Dickson and Mr. Brown exchange places in order of precedence such that Mr. Dickson assumes ballot item number 10 and Mr. Brown assumes ballot item number 75; and Mr. Brownell and Mr. Kwinter exchange places in order of precedence such that Mr. Brownell assumes ballot item number 15 and Mr. Kwinter assumes ballot item number 58.

The Speaker (Hon. Steve Peters): Members have heard the motion. Is it the pleasure of the House that the motion carry? Carried.

Motion agreed to.

PRIVATE MEMBERS’ PUBLIC BUSINESS

Hon. Monique M. Smith: I believe we have unanimous consent to put forward a motion without notice regarding private members’ public business.

The Speaker (Hon. Steve Peters): Agreed? Agreed.

Hon. Monique M. Smith: I move that ballot item number 78 on the order of precedence, dated March 4, 2010, previously standing in the name of Mr. Fonseca, shall lapse and that, notwithstanding standing order 98(e), the Speaker shall put the questions on the two remaining ballot items to be considered during private members’ public business on Thursday, April 7, 2011, after the conclusion of debate on ballot item number 77.

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The Speaker (Hon. Steve Peters): Is it the pleasure of the House that the motion carry? Carried.

Motion agreed to.

ADDRESS BY AMBASSADOR OF JAPAN

Hon. Monique M. Smith: I believe we have unanimous consent to put forward a motion without notice regarding an address to the House.

The Speaker (Hon. Steve Peters): Agreed? Agreed.

Hon. Monique M. Smith: I move that, following motions on Thursday, April 7, 2011, the Speaker shall adjourn the House during pleasure for the purpose of permitting an address to the House by His Excellency Kaoru Ishikawa, the ambassador of Japan to Canada; and

That up to five minutes be allotted to a representative of each of the three parties in the House for remarks in reply, and

That, following these proceedings, the Speaker shall resume the chair and call statements by the ministry and responses.

The Speaker (Hon. Steve Peters): Is it the pleasure of the House that the motion carry? Carried.

Motion agreed to.

STANDING COMMITTEE ON
PUBLIC ACCOUNTS

Hon. Monique M. Smith: I believe we have unanimous consent to put forward a motion without notice regarding committee travel.

The Speaker (Hon. Steve Peters): Agreed? Agreed.

Hon. Monique M. Smith: I move that the permanent members of the Standing Committee on Public Accounts be authorized to attend the 32nd annual conference of the Canadian Council of Public Accounts Committees.

The Speaker (Hon. Steve Peters): Is it the pleasure of the House that the motion carry? Carried.

Motion agreed to.

STATEMENTS BY THE MINISTRY
AND RESPONSES

VOLUNTEER SERVICE AWARDS

Hon. Eric Hoskins: Last week, the first 2011 volunteer service awards ceremony took place in Stratford. This was the first of 48 ceremonies in 35 different communities that will take place over the next three months. Together, these events recognize more than 10,000 unsung Ontario heroes who have volunteered their time and their talents to support not-for-profit and charitable organizations.

This year also marks the 25th anniversary of Ontario’s volunteer service awards. Since 1986, more than 150,000 women, men and youth have been recognized for their outstanding volunteer contributions.

By shining a spotlight on these exceptional Ontarians, we also recognize all volunteers whose efforts build and maintain the foundation for our compassionate and caring society—Ontarians such as Listowel volunteer firefighters Raymond Walter and Kenneth Rea. Two weeks ago, these two men tragically lost their lives as they selflessly volunteered to protect their communities. They risked their own lives to keep us safe, and we honour their service and their memory.

Volunteers strengthen our communities in so many different ways. They welcome new Canadians and make them feel at home here in Ontario. They advocate for people with disabilities, coach kids’ sports teams, organize festivals, protect the environment, raise funds and advance many other worthy causes.

Today more than five million Ontarians volunteer their time and their talents to make our communities better places to live. Collectively, Ontarians volunteer more than 800 million hours annually, valued at $10 billion in donated time.

Last year I had the privilege of attending a number of volunteer service awards ceremonies, and at these ceremonies I learned about the positive contributions Ontarians are making each and every day. I was inspired by their stories of dedication and service. I know that many members of the Legislature have had similar experiences when attending these awards ceremonies in their own communities.

Without a doubt, volunteers are the heart of our communities. They are our community builders and our community leaders. They express our values and define who we are, both as a province and as a people.

What makes our volunteers stand out is that they expect absolutely no reward for their generosity. They generously give themselves, their time and their talents to serve others.

The volunteer service awards are the cornerstone of Ontario’s recognition program. They are our thank-you to Ontarians for their dedication. By celebrating the positive impact that volunteers have in making our province a better place, we encourage more people to follow their inspiring examples.

The 25th anniversary of the awards is an occasion for us to honour our volunteers and to reflect on the society that they have helped create, but it is also an occasion to look ahead. It’s an opportunity to recognize that the role of volunteers will remain just as critical to the next quarter-century as it was to the last, and it is a time to renew our commitment to Ontario’s proud tradition of volunteerism.

This is what the McGuinty government is doing through the Partnership Project, our new strategy to strengthen the government’s partnership with the not-for-profit sector. To help guide the strategy, we are creating the partnership advisory group, which will include leaders from the not-for-profit, public and private sectors. We are also establishing the Partnership Project office to help renew, streamline and modernize the government’s relationship with community organizations and provide better coordination. This is in addition to the roughly 70 projects we have previously launched to help our not-for-profit organizations attract volunteers, improve their operations and manage risks.

I’m confident that all members of the Legislature share our vision of keeping Ontario’s volunteer spirit burning brightly and will join me in thanking our volunteers for their outstanding community service.

The Speaker (Hon. Steve Peters): Responses?

Mr. Steve Clark: I’m very proud, on behalf of the Ontario PC caucus and our leader, Tim Hudak, to speak about the Ontario Volunteer Service Awards. Every year these awards ceremonies recognize thousands of people at events held across Ontario. These presentations provide a richly deserved moment in the spotlight for those otherwise unheralded folks in our communities who willingly give up so much time and talent to make our life better.

Imagine for a moment just how many things families cherish about living in the villages, towns and cities in every corner of our province that would disappear without the remarkable contributions of Ontario’s eight million volunteers. If not for the men and women who volunteer, who would be the coach of our sports teams, help teachers in schools, stock shelves in the local food banks, comfort a lonely senior or organize fundraisers that are so necessary to close the gaps in our social safety net? We all know the answer: No one.

I’m thinking right now about the members of the North Augusta recreation committee, whom I met with last Saturday afternoon. We spent the day in the village’s community hall, signing up youngsters for summer sports programs. But their work didn’t end on Saturday afternoon; that was only the beginning. Now they’ll take those sign-up lists and put together the teams; they’ll organize the schedule, offer to coach, and officiate at the games. Thanks to these volunteers, more than 150 kids will enjoy experiences they will remember for a lifetime while playing soccer and baseball this summer.

I would like to thank the Minister of Citizenship and Immigration for his strong support of the volunteer service awards. Although we know volunteers like the ones I met in North Augusta last weekend don’t get involved for recognition, we should never take their vital contributions for granted. We owe it to them to say thank you not only for a job well done but to provide them with the acknowledgment that lets them know their efforts are appreciated and that we want them to stay involved.

This year, as the minister said, marks the 25th anniversary of the volunteer service awards program. I think it’s important that we capitalize on this special occasion. I believe the milestone anniversary is a great opportunity to use this year’s awards ceremonies to encourage and recruit even more Ontarians to become active citizens.

I had the great honour to attend my first volunteer awards ceremony as an MPP last June in Kingston. It was an incredibly humbling experience to meet these people from my riding, who joined over 150,000 people recognized through the program since its inception in 1986. I knew many of the people whom I met when I travelled to Kingston because I’ve seen them working around Leeds and Grenville as I travel in my duties. But I have to admit, I didn’t grasp the enormity of their contributions until I saw them there that day and heard from them how involved and how integral they are to their communities.

Like many of my colleagues here at Queen’s Park, I have been an active volunteer in my community—I take pride in that—but attending last year’s volunteer service awards ceremony inspired me. That’s why I feel so strongly that every MPP in this House should attend their local ceremony and then make it their mission to tell anyone who will listen about the difference volunteers make in their community. On this, the silver anniversary of the volunteer service awards, let’s use our voices to help inspire others to step forward and show the same commitment to community that we’re recognizing for this program in the coming months. Let’s recruit more people of all ages, all walks of life and all backgrounds to get involved and bolster the ranks of Ontario’s volunteer army. If we can do that, I’m confident that we’ll build a stronger, more vibrant province for the people we’re elected to represent.

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Ms. Cheri DiNovo: Of course it’s a moment of honour to rise and salute the volunteers across the province of Ontario, but there’s a problem. There’s a problem, and many of them have asked me to bring a message to the Minister of Citizenship and Immigration. It’s a message of some import, and I hope he listens, because I believe he’s a good man at heart.

Right now in the province of Ontario, volunteers are not only doing the traditional work of volunteers; they’re actually doing the work of government. Right now in the province of Ontario, we have a situation where child poverty is higher than it’s ever been since the Great Depression; where we’ve seen a government slash the housing budget 20% over the last two years, and 142,000 families wait for affordable housing; where this government, much to the contrary of their spin, is on track to raising the poverty rates 25% in five years. This is the backdrop to the good work of volunteers in the province.

What are they doing? This is what they’re doing: They’re providing the housing that government doesn’t. They’re providing the food that government doesn’t. They’re providing the jobs, at times, that government doesn’t. They’re providing the nursing and the care staff in our hospitals and our senior homes that government doesn’t. And they’re getting very, very, very tired. In fact, as a United Church minister, having worked with the largest Protestant denomination in Canada, with our volunteers and also the volunteers from the Anglican church, who were, by the way, across the street demanding that this government feed those on social assistance and not slash the special diet allowance—which of course they have—those volunteers are saying to this government, “Enough.” They’re saying, “Enough.” They’re saying, “Do the job that’s yours to do. Don’t do it on our backs.”

In terms of non-profits, here is the situation: Most of the non-profits in my riding I speak to spend a third of their time writing grant proposals. That’s not their job. They want to be on the front lines, dealing with the problems that they’re tasked to do, but that’s what this government requires of them. They don’t get stable funding.

Victim services, the very front-line group that deals with women in violent situations, victims of domestic violence, works profoundly with volunteers. In fact, they couldn’t do their jobs without volunteers. They didn’t get one extra dollar from this government, and they haven’t had a raise in decades. This is unconscionable. This can’t go on.

Out of the Cold volunteers have been doing this year in, year out, and churches are tired. They’re running out of funds. They’re running out of volunteers.

The volunteers who work in our hospitals and seniors’ homes: When they wake up and read the sunshine list and find out that their CEOs are making sometimes $4 million, $5 million, $6 million a year while they, the seniors, are actually doing the work on the ground, they’re even more tired. And they call on this government: Do the right thing. Do what you’re supposed to do. Step up. Do the job of government. The job of government should not be given over to charity, and that’s the situation we live in right now in Ontario, unfortunately.

So while we applaud—of course we do—the tireless work of volunteers, we say, “Give them a break.” You can’t count on them to deliver the job of government. They cannot and should not be asked to do the work that government should be doing, and that’s the situation. It can’t last; it won’t last. People are exhausted, institutions are exhausted and non-profits are exhausted.

So what I say to the McGuinty Liberals and to the Minister of Citizenship and Immigration is: If you really want to help our volunteers, respond to that challenge. Step up, provide housing and make it possible to close the food banks. It’s obscene that we have food banks. That’s the direction this government should go in. That’s what volunteers really want. That’s the reward that really will pay them for all their long and tireless hours of dedication.

PETITIONS

OAK RIDGES MORAINE

Mr. John O’Toole: It’s a pleasure to read a petition. I was hoping the Minister of the Environment would be here; He is here, he’s just not in the House at the moment.

The Speaker (Hon. Steve Peters): You know better than that.

Mr. John O’Toole: He’ll follow up, I’m sure.

The Speaker (Hon. Steve Peters): Read the petition.

Mr. John O’Toole: “Whereas citizens are concerned that contaminants in materials used as fill for pits and quarries may endanger water quality and the natural environment of the Oak Ridges moraine; and

“Whereas the Ministry of the Environment has a responsibility and” in fact “a duty to protect the Oak Ridges moraine; and

“Whereas the government of Ontario has the lead responsibility to provide the tools to lower-tier government to plan, protect and enforce clear, effective policies governing the application and permit process for the placement of fill in abandoned pits and quarries; and

“Whereas this process requires clarification regarding rules respecting what materials may be used to rehabilitate or fill abandoned pits and quarries;

“Therefore we, the undersigned, ask that the Minister of the Environment initiate a moratorium” first “on the clean fill application and permit process on the Oak Ridges moraine until there are clear rules; and we further ask that the provincial government take all necessary actions to prevent” further “contamination of the Oak Ridges moraine,” specifically on Lakeridge Road and Morgans Road in my riding of Durham.

I’m pleased to sign this and present it to Kiruthika, one of the pages.

REPLACEMENT WORKERS

Mme France Gélinas: I have this petition that was given to me by Denis Theriault from the Sheet Metal Workers’ International Association, Local 51, and the International Association of Heat and Frost Insulators and Allied Workers, Local 95. It reads as follows:

“Whereas strikes and lockouts are rare: on average, 97% of collective agreements are negotiated without work disruption; and

“Whereas anti-temporary replacement workers laws have existed in Quebec since 1978; in British Columbia since 1993; and successive governments in those two provinces have never repealed those laws; and

“Whereas anti-temporary replacement workers legislation has reduced the length and divisiveness of labour disputes; and

“Whereas the use of temporary replacement workers during a strike or lockout is damaging to the social fabric of a community in the short and the long term as well as the well-being of its residents;

“Therefore we, the undersigned, petition the Legislative Assembly of Ontario to enact legislation banning the use of temporary replacement workers during a strike or lockout.”

I fully support this petition, will affix my name to it and ask page Sydney to bring it to the Clerk.

PARAMEDICS

Mr. Rick Johnson: “To the Legislative Assembly of Ontario:

“Whereas paramedics play a vital role in protecting the health and safety of Ontarians; and

“Whereas paramedics often put their own health and safety at risk, going above and beyond their duty in servicing Ontarians; and

“Whereas the government of Ontario annually recognizes police officers and firefighters with awards for bravery; and

“Whereas currently no award for paramedic bravery is awarded by the government of Ontario; and

“Whereas Ontario paramedics deserve recognition for acts of exceptional bravery while protecting Ontarians;

“We, the undersigned, petition the Legislative Assembly of Ontario as follows:

“Enact Bill 115, a private member’s bill introduced by MPP Maria Van Bommel on October 6, 2010, An Act to provide for the Ontario Award for Paramedic Bravery.”

I agree with the petition, I sign it and I present it to the page.

PROTECTION FOR
PEOPLE WITH DISABILITIES

Ms. Sylvia Jones: My petition is to the Legislative Assembly of Ontario.

“Whereas supported-living residents in southwestern and eastern Ontario were subjected to picketing outside their homes during labour strikes in 2007 and 2009; and

“Whereas residents and neighbours had to endure megaphones, picket lines, portable bathrooms and shining lights at all hours of the day and night on their streets; and

“Whereas individuals with intellectual disabilities and organizations who support them fought for years to break down barriers and live in inclusive communities; and

“Whereas Bill 83 passed second reading in the Ontario Legislature on October 28, 2010;

“We, the undersigned, petition the Legislative Assembly of Ontario as follows:

“That the Liberal government quickly schedule hearings for Sylvia Jones’s Bill 83, the Protecting Vulnerable People Against Picketing Act, to allow for public hearings.”

For obvious reasons, I support this petition, will affix my name to it and give it to page Travis to take to the table.

NON-PROFIT HOUSING

Mr. Michael Prue: I have a petition that reads as follows:

“To the Legislative Assembly of Ontario:

“Whereas tenants living in Toronto community housing deserve to be treated with dignity and respect by all levels of government; and

“Whereas tenants have fears that their homes may be sold and the services to maintain those homes privatized to the lowest bidder;

“We, the undersigned, petition the Legislative Assembly of Ontario as follows:

“That the Minister of Municipal Affairs and Housing and the government of Ontario do all things necessary to halt the privatization and sale of the homes in which we live; and further,

“That meaningful consultations take place between the Minister of Municipal Affairs and Housing and the affected tenants to ensure that our voice is heard and our interest protected in this vital area of public housing.”

It’s signed by a number of people. I am in agreement and will affix my signature thereto.

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SCHOOL FACILITIES

Ms. Helena Jaczek: I have a petition to the Legislative Assembly of Ontario from some of my constituents from the town of Whitchurch-Stouffville:

“We, the undersigned, are concerned about the overcrowding at our two neighbourhood Catholic schools—namely at St. Brigid and St. Mark—and the growing number of portables being used to house Stouffville Catholic students.

“The introduction of full-day kindergarten at St. Mark next year will also further exacerbate the lack of classroom space and overcrowding.

“We need another Catholic elementary school in Stouffville. Another Catholic school will mean better places for all our children to learn, grow and thrive, and to reach their full potential.

“Therefore we, the undersigned, hereby petition the Legislative Assembly of Ontario to invest in a new Catholic school in Stouffville.”

I agree with this petition, will sign it and send it to the table with Sydney.

ASSISTANCE TO FARMERS

Mr. Steve Clark: I have a petition to the Legislative Assembly of Ontario:

“Whereas agriculture plays an important role in Ontario’s economy and deserves investment;

“Whereas PC MPP Bob Bailey has introduced a significant tax credit for farmers who donate agricultural goods to food banks, helping farmers, food banks and people in need; and

“Whereas over 25 million pounds of fresh produce is disposed of or plowed back into Ontario’s fields each year while food banks across Ontario struggle to feed those in need;

“We, the undersigned, call upon the Legislative Assembly of Ontario to call MPP Bob Bailey’s private member’s bill, Bill 78, the Taxation Amendment Act (Food Bank Donation Tax Credit for Farmers), 2010, to committee immediately for consideration and then on to third reading and implementation without delay.”

I’ll affix my signature. I agree with the petition and I’ll send it to the table with page Jimmy.

REPLACEMENT WORKERS

Mr. Peter Kormos: I have a petition certified by the Clerk and addressed to the Legislative Assembly of Ontario:

“Whereas strikes and lockouts are rare: 97% of collective agreements are settled without a strike or lockout; and

“Whereas anti-temporary replacement workers laws have existed in Quebec since 1978; in British Columbia since 1993; and successive governments in those two provinces have never repealed those laws; and

“Whereas anti-temporary replacement workers legislation has reduced the length and divisiveness of labour disputes; and

“Whereas the use of temporary replacement workers during a strike or lockout is damaging to the social fabric of a community in the short and the long term as well as the well-being of its residents;

“Therefore we, the undersigned, petition the Legislative Assembly of Ontario to enact legislation banning the use of temporary replacement workers during a strike or lockout.”

I’ve affixed my signature as well.

PARAMEDICS

Mr. Khalil Ramal: I’d like to read a petition given to me by Bernice Hall, a paramedic, in support of Maria Van Bommel’s private member’s Bill 115. It reads:

“To the Legislative Assembly of Ontario:

“Whereas paramedics play a vital role in protecting the health and safety of Ontarians; and

“Whereas paramedics often put their own health and safety at risk, going above and beyond their duty in servicing Ontarians; and

“Whereas the government of Ontario annually recognizes police officers and firefighters with awards for bravery; and

“Whereas currently no award for paramedic bravery is awarded by the government of Ontario; and

“Whereas Ontario paramedics deserve recognition for acts of exceptional bravery while protecting Ontarians;

“We, the undersigned, petition the Legislative Assembly of Ontario as follows:

“Enact Bill 115, a private member’s bill introduced by MPP Maria Van Bommel on October 6, 2010, An Act to provide for the Ontario Award for Paramedic Bravery.”

I agree with this petition. I’ll give it to Madelaine.

DOG OWNERSHIP

Mrs. Julia Munro: “To the Legislative Assembly of Ontario:

“Whereas aggressive dogs are found among all breeds and mixed breeds; and

“Breed-specific legislation has been shown to be an expensive and ineffective approach to dog bite prevention; and

“Problem dog owners are best dealt with through education, training and legislation encouraging responsible behaviour;

“We, the undersigned, petition the Legislative Assembly of Ontario as follows:

“To repeal the breed-specific sections of the Dog Owners’ Liability Act (2005) and to implement legislation that encourages responsible ownership of all dog breeds and types.”

As I’ve affixed my signature, I am in agreement. I’m giving it to page Fatemah.

REPLACEMENT WORKERS

Mme France Gélinas: I have these petitions, which have been presented to me by the Ontario Secondary School Teachers’ Federation, Districts 27 and 11, the Service Employees International Union, Local 1, as well as OPSEU. It reads as follows:

“Whereas strikes and lockouts are rare: 97% of collective agreements are settled without a strike or lockout; and

“Whereas anti-temporary replacement workers laws have existed in Quebec since 1978; in British Columbia since 1993; and successive governments in those two provinces have never repealed those laws; and

“Whereas anti-temporary replacement workers legislation has reduced the length and divisiveness of labour disputes; and

“Whereas the use of temporary replacement workers during a strike or lockout is damaging to the social fabric of a community in the short and the long term as well as the well-being of its residents;

“Therefore, we ... petition the Legislative Assembly of Ontario to enact legislation banning the use of temporary replacement workers during a strike or lockout.”

I support this petition, will affix my name to it and ask Kiruthika to bring it to the Clerk.

PARAMEDICS

Mr. Jeff Leal: I’m pleased to have a petition today from an outstanding person, Gwen Lamoureux, who lives in Strathroy, Ontario.

“To the Legislative Assembly of Ontario:

“Whereas paramedics play a vital role in protecting the health and safety of Ontarians; and

“Whereas paramedics often put their own health and safety at risk, going above and beyond their duty in servicing Ontarians; and

“Whereas the government of Ontario annually recognizes police officers and firefighters with awards for bravery; and

“Whereas currently no award for paramedic bravery is awarded by the government of Ontario; and

“Whereas Ontario paramedics deserve recognition for acts of exceptional bravery while protecting Ontarians;

“We, the undersigned, petition the Legislative Assembly of Ontario as follows:

“Enact Bill 115, a private member’s bill introduced by MPP Maria Van Bommel on October 6, 2010, An Act to provide for the Ontario Award for Paramedic Bravery.”

I will affix my signature to it and give it to page Logan.

RURAL SCHOOLS

Mr. Jim Wilson: A petition to save Duntroon Central Public School and all other rural schools in Clearview township:

“Whereas Duntroon Central Public School is an important part of Clearview township and the surrounding area; and

“Whereas Duntroon Central Public School is widely recognized for its high educational standards and intimate learning experience; and

“Whereas the frameworks of rural schools are different from urban schools and therefore deserve to be governed by a separate rural school policy; and

“Whereas Dalton McGuinty”—I should say “Premier McGuinty”—“promised during the 2007 election that he would keep rural schools open when he declared that, ‘Rural schools help keep communities strong, which is why we’re not only committed to keeping them open—but strengthening them’; and

“Whereas Dalton McGuinty found $12 million to keep school swimming pools open in Toronto schools but hasn’t found any money to keep rural schools open in Simcoe–Grey;

“We, the undersigned, petition the Legislative Assembly of Ontario as follows:

“That Premier Dalton McGuinty and the Minister of Education support the citizens of Clearview township and suspend the Simcoe County District School Board ARC 2010:01 until the province develops a rural school policy that recognizes the value of schools in the rural communities of Ontario.”

I agree with this petition and I will sign it.

REPLACEMENT WORKERS

Mme France Gélinas: I have this petition that has been presented to me by Denis Theriault from SMWIA, Local 51, Madam Louisette Roy de Hearst et Madam Denise Aubin de Nickel Belt. It reads as follows:

“Whereas strikes and lockouts are rare: 97% of collective agreements are settled without a strike or lockout; and

“Whereas anti-temporary replacement workers laws have existed in Quebec since 1978; in British Columbia since 1993; and successive governments in those two provinces have never repealed those laws; and

“Whereas anti-temporary replacement workers legislation has reduced the length and divisiveness of labour disputes; and

“Whereas the use of temporary replacement workers during a strike or lockout is damaging to the social fabric of a community in the short and the long term as well as the well-being of its residents;”

They ask the Legislative Assembly “to enact legislation banning the use of temporary replacement workers during a strike or lockout.”

I support the petition and will ask the page to bring it to the Clerk.

PARAMEDICS

Mr. Kevin Daniel Flynn: I have a petition to the Legislative Assembly of Ontario. It reads as follows:

“Whereas paramedics play a vital role in protecting the health and safety of Ontarians; and

“Whereas paramedics often put their own health and safety at risk, going above and beyond their duty in servicing Ontarians; and

“Whereas the government of Ontario annually recognizes police officers and firefighters with awards for bravery; and

“Whereas currently no award for paramedic bravery is awarded by the government of Ontario; and

“Whereas Ontario paramedics deserve recognition for acts of exceptional bravery while protecting Ontarians;

“We, the undersigned, petition the Legislative Assembly of Ontario as follows:

“Enact Bill 115, a private member’s bill introduced by MPP Maria Van Bommel on October 6, 2010, An Act to provide for the Ontario Award for Paramedic Bravery.”

I agree with this and will sign it.

PARAMEDICS

Mr. Jeff Leal: This afternoon I have another petition from Vincent Arnold from Mount Brydges, Ontario.

“To the Legislative Assembly of Ontario:

“Whereas paramedics play a vital role in protecting the health and safety of Ontarians; and

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“Whereas paramedics often put their own health and safety at risk, going above and beyond their duty in servicing Ontarians; and

“Whereas the government of Ontario annually recognizes police officers and firefighters with awards for bravery; and

“Whereas currently no award for paramedic bravery is awarded by the government of Ontario; and

“Whereas Ontario paramedics deserve recognition for acts of exceptional bravery while protecting Ontarians;

“We, the undersigned, petition the Legislative Assembly of Ontario as follows:

“Enact Bill 115, a private member’s bill introduced by MPP Maria Van Bommel on October 6, 2010, An Act to provide for the Ontario Award for Paramedic Bravery.”

I agree with this petition and will affix my signature to it and give it to page Grace.

ORDERS OF THE DAY

2011 ONTARIO BUDGET

Resuming the debate adjourned on March 29, 2011, on the motion that this House approves in general the budgetary policy of the government.

The Speaker (Hon. Steve Peters): Further debate?

Mr. Tim Hudak: I’m pleased to respond on behalf of the Ontario PC caucus this afternoon, and should the McGuinty government choose to table an actual budget this year, I’d be pleased to respond to that as well.

Sadly, the document this government released yesterday is no more than a work of fiction. Ontario families, after seven years of McGuinty government broken promises, McGuinty government higher taxes and runaway spending, simply don’t believe the words in the budget pages, and neither do we on this side of the House.

What was truly remarkable was that the finance minister chose to focus more of his time and energy attacking the official opposition yesterday than he dedicated to the interests of the province of Ontario. He spent more time attacking the official opposition than he did talking about bringing relief to hard-working Ontario families struggling today to make ends meet.

What has become clear is that this government will say anything that they believe will help them get re-elected. However, they don’t want to talk about their own record. They had absolutely no ideas on how to give average families a break.

We actually saw a continuation of the pattern since this government has come to power: Program spending has increased a staggering 77% while Ontario’s economy grew by only 9%, a rate more than eight times as fast. You can’t run your house that way, you can’t run your business that way, and we can no longer continue to run the province of Ontario that way.

Because of this remarkable increase in program spending, the runaway spending of the McGuinty government, that means that Ontario is actually on track to double the provincial debt. To put that in perspective, what it took all the previous Premiers before, from John Sandfield Macdonald to Premier Ernie Eves, 135 years to do, the McGuinty government will double in eight years in office. When you double the debt, when you increase the debt, we all know that debt interest increases along with it. That means that every dollar that is going to debt interest is a dollar that could have gone into health care, that could have gone into classroom education. Instead, the dollars are going into the pockets of Ontario’s creditors.

Interjection.

Mr. Tim Hudak: As my colleague from Nepean–Carleton says, that’s a quarter of a trillion dollars in provincial debt.

This government has tried to be all things to all people, to throw money at every problem under the sun. As a result, they’re on track to doubling the provincial debt, and that’s why families want to see change here in the province of Ontario.

We’re joined today, as well, by some of those leaders in Ontario who want to make a difference, who want to take us down an entirely different path. I want to recognize them here in the gallery today. Dave Brister, who is our candidate in Essex, has chosen to join us here today.

Wafik Sunbaty, an engineer and leader in his field from Mississauga–Streetsville, has joined us. Rick Nicholls, a businessman and training consultant whose services are sought North America-wide, from Chatham–Kent Essex has joined us here in the assembly. I want to welcome as well Ben Shenouda. Ben is the head of the Independent Pharmacists Association of Ontario, a small business owner who wants to make a difference by running for the PC Party in Brampton West. Welcome as well.

When you look through the details of this latest so-called budget, you know that the numbers simply do not add up, and families won’t be fooled by that. I guess the only way for the numbers to add up is for the McGuinty government to bring in another whopping tax increase on the backs of Ontario families.

Mr. John Yakabuski: Oh, no. They can’t take any more.

Mr. Tim Hudak: They can’t take any more. Enough is enough.

We heard the finance minister today, during my questions during question period, say, “Oh, no. No new taxes.” But families have heard that one before. They have heard the Premier say, “No new taxes,” and then he brought in the so-called health tax, a big tax grab on the backs of ordinary, hard-working families that, by the way, despite the title, goes into the general treasury, not into health care. Then the Premier said, “Well, I won’t do it again,” and then he brought in the HST tax grab, which threw 8% more on the basics like heat, hydro and gasoline. Now he’s saying, “Trust me, I’m not going to do it again.” What an incredible campaign slogan: “‘I won’t raise your taxes.’” This time, he really means it.”

Families won’t be fooled. It is absolutely clear that after eight years, only two things are guaranteed about the McGuinty government: They will spend more of your money and then they will raise your taxes to pay for it.

As I travel across this province, whether here in Toronto, back home in Niagara, or from North Bay to Thunder Bay, I hear from Ontario families. I hear from seniors who are saying that it is increasingly difficult to balance the family budget at the end of the month. They tell me they can’t afford the HST on the basics like gas, heat and hydro, and they tell me they can’t afford the Premier’s expensive energy experiments that are driving up their bills. Everywhere I go, seniors, moms and dads, students, small business owners tell me they are sick and tired of being nickel-and-dimed to death by this government. They say, “Enough is enough,” and they want to see change that will give them the relief that they deserve.

It sticks in my mind: Today I had an event in Mount Hope in my riding, and a senior citizen came up to me with his hydro bill in his hand—

Mr. John Yakabuski: Shaking.

Mr. Tim Hudak: —hands shaking, with both fear and anger in his eyes. He said, “Tim, I’ve paid my bills my entire life. I’ve paid them on time, and now I can’t pay my hydro bill anymore, let alone the increases that are still yet to come.” And then there was a couple from Picton who wrote to me, and they’re upset about how much the HST has increased the cost of oil to heat their home. They wrote to me and they said that they have to sell their farm and downsize because they can’t keep up with the basic costs. And then there’s the married couple in Windsor, both shift workers—not an uncommon situation in ridings like my own, in Hamilton or Niagara—who have no choice but to do their household chores during the day: They’re on shift work. And that’s when the McGuinty government’s mandatory smart meters are charging the highest rates for hydro. These folks can’t take a day off work just to do the chores.

These hard-working families, these seniors, they are not looking for handouts. They’re just looking for a fair deal from this government. They want a fair shake, and they want to be treated with the respect they deserve.

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This 300-page non-budget offered nothing for those seniors. It offered nothing for that hard-working couple in Windsor and it offered nothing for that farmer in Picton. It brought no real relief for average families. Instead, what it does offer is a prescription to raise taxes on Ontario families yet again. The only matter is, will the government announce it before the election or try to sneak through and bring it in if they get re-elected?

We have members opposite who are openly musing—Liberal members who are campaigning for a carbon tax. We have Liberal members who are campaigning to put a new school tax across the province, and I think they’re also looking at increasing the HST, whether it’s a point or two points. I believe that’s all on the table when it comes to this government, because we have seen this movie before. Every time before an election, the Premier says, “I swear I won’t increase your taxes,” and then he brings in a massive tax hike. They want to go for the hat trick.

We’re going to fight them every step of the way and bring real relief to Ontario families, because it is clear that Ontario families need a new approach. They need a government that respects that they do not have an infinite ability to pay. They want to see a change in government from the one that sees Ontario families as a bottomless ATM machine. They want to see a new government that respects the fact that it’s Ontario families who pay the bills.

That’s why the PC caucus has already brought forward several good ideas to give families relief and to focus government funding on services people care about and need, like front-line health care; policies like pulling the plug on the mandatory smart meter tax machines and giving families a choice on their hydro bills; ideas like conducting a forensic audit of the debt retirement charge that families to date should have paid off—families want to know, where did the money go? How much is left to pay? And when will this debt be paid off?—and ideas to cut out the McGuinty waste to invest in the front line, like closing the doors on these regional health bureaucracies called the LHINs and putting every penny into front-line health care instead.

And also in our sights: We would continue to push the government—and if they don’t do it, we will—to shut down the needless Ontario Power Authority bureaucracy that is driving up our hydro bills, and passing on the savings to Ontario families.

Next week, we’ll debate—and I hope we’ll get the members’ opposite support—a sunset review process for all 600-plus agencies, boards and commissions to root out the waste and to use the savings for the front line, like health care, and to balance the books here in the province of Ontario.

So what does that mean? This means, for families, finally a chance to get ahead, a chance to balance the family budget and have the confidence to spend again on their priorities, not the government’s priorities. That’s the kind of budget we wanted to see, and it is the plan that an Ontario PC government will deliver to hard-working families in this province.

This budget made it absolutely clear that families will have a choice: four more years of the same old tax-and-spend Liberal government or a PC government that will give them the relief and the respect that they so much deserve.

There’s no doubt that a McGuinty government will raise taxes once again on the backs of Ontario families, and a PC government will give them relief, put money back in their pockets and bring needed change so our great province of Ontario can lead again.

The Speaker (Hon. Steve Peters): The member from Welland.

Mr. Peter Kormos: I move adjournment of the debate.

The Speaker (Hon. Steve Peters): Mr. Kormos has moved adjournment of the debate. Is it the pleasure of the House that the motion carry? Carried.

Debate adjourned.

The Speaker (Hon. Steve Peters): Minister of Community Safety and Correctional Services.

Hon. James J. Bradley: I move adjournment of the House.

The Speaker (Hon. Steve Peters): Mr. Bradley has moved adjournment of the House. Is it the pleasure of the House that the motion carry? Carried.

This House stands adjourned until 9 a.m. tomorrow.

The House adjourned at 1605.

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