Official Records for 12 April 2011

The House met at 0900.

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

Prayers.

ORDERS OF THE DAY

HEALTH PROTECTION
AND PROMOTION
AMENDMENT ACT, 2011 /
LOI DE 2011 MODIFIANT
LA LOI SUR LA PROTECTION
ET LA PROMOTION DE LA SANTÉ

Resuming the debate adjourned on April 6, 2011, on the motion for third reading of 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): Further debate?

Ms. Smith has moved third reading of Bill 141. Is it the pleasure of the House that the motion carry?

I heard a no.

All those in favour will say “aye.”

All those opposed will say “nay.”

In my opinion, the ayes have it.

This vote will be deferred until the conclusion of question period.

Third reading vote deferred.

The Speaker (Hon. Steve Peters): Orders of the day?

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

The Speaker (Hon. Steve Peters): There being no further business, this House stands recessed until 10:30 a.m. this morning.

The House recessed from 0903 to 1030.

INTRODUCTION OF VISITORS

Ms. Cheri DiNovo: I’m absolutely delighted to introduce to the House this year’s Girls in Government from Parkdale–High Park, from the schools of St. Pius X and Swansea Public. We’ve got Jennifer Bucci, Alicia Bialzcyk, Maxine Pichler, Joyce Costa, Justina Ha, Bianca Harvey, Jenna Yuen, Charlie Creatura, Hannah Azaria, Naseem Shaikh, Skye Macneil, Eden Hailu, Savahna Idris, Emily Henderson, and their school staff, Ms. Atkinson and Ms. Legacy. Welcome to Queen’s Park.

Hon. Rick Bartolucci: I’m really proud to introduce—and the pages will be very interested in this—a page from 1999. His name is John David Doan. John, stand up.

John is from Sault Ste. Marie. He left here, went to high school, enrolled in university, and is now in his final year of medical school at Queen’s University. He’s doing a placement in the ICU unit at Mount Sinai Hospital.

John David, this whole Legislature is very, very proud of your accomplishments as a former page. He’s also my nephew and my godson.

Mr. Robert Bailey: It’s my privilege to introduce Bob and Joyce Poland in the west members’ gallery, grandparents of our page this session, Travis Poland. They are also my sister and brother-in-law.

Hon. Eric Hoskins: I’d like to welcome the teachers and classmates of page Ciaran Thomas to Queen’s Park. Ciaran is from my community of St. Paul’s, and joining us today in the public gallery are Ciaran’s teachers, Jan and Madeline, as well as his classmates from Howlett Academy. Welcome to Queen’s Park.

Hon. Glen R. Murray: I would like to introduce Amanda Robertson, who is in the gallery today. She’s director of fundraising from Street Health Community Nursing Foundation here today. I would like to thank Street Health for their commitment to serving the homeless in my community. This is their 25th anniversary this year. They have had a tremendously positive impact on the lives of so many of my constituents. If you could, please join me in welcoming Amanda today.

Mr. Tony Ruprecht: I’m really happy to introduce to you a very famous TV producer. It’s the TV Viet Tien producer Mr. Viet Tien Nguyen, and his assistant Mr. Tang. They’re here to report on the calmness of our debates so people back home can see how democracy really works.

The Speaker (Hon. Steve Peters): I trust the member from Davenport will be leading.

Further introductions?

I’d like to take this opportunity to ask all members to join me in welcoming a good friend of mine, Dr. Bob Warnock, in the Speaker’s gallery. Bob is a chiropractor in the riding of Elgin–Middlesex–London, in the town of Aylmer, in the Speaker’s gallery. Welcome to Queen’s Park today, Bob.

USE OF QUESTION PERIOD

The Speaker (Hon. Steve Peters): On Thursday, March 31, the member from Welland, Mr. Kormos—

Interjections.

The Speaker (Hon. Steve Peters): Order—raised a point of order concerning standing order 23(f), which states:

“In debate, a member shall be called to order by the Speaker if he or she:....

“(f) Reflects upon any previous vote of the House unless it is the member’s intention to move that it be rescinded.”

In his point of order, the member took issue with what is, in fact, quite a common occurrence in this chamber: reference by one member to a previous vote by another member, or another party. The member contended that standing order 23(f) should be interpreted as representing a prohibition against such references. The House leader of the official opposition, Mr. Yakabuski, supported this proposition and later renewed the same point of order when he complained about an oral question on Thursday, April 7, which again made reference to a previous vote in the House. I reserved my ruling and am now prepared to deliver it.

Interjections.

The Speaker (Hon. Steve Peters): Members, it would be important to listen to this.

What gives rise to the opposition House leaders’ objections is when members of the government taunt the opposition with statements like, “You voted against giving seniors that tax credit,” or, “You voted against that support program for farmers.”

Interjections.

The Speaker (Hon. Steve Peters): This is a statement for all members.

The nuance here is that these kinds of measures have been included in a bill which may contain a broad array of measures that, when voted upon, demand a single decision from every member, not a separate decision on each of its parts. Had they been able to vote separately on each part, members might well have voted in favour of that metaphorical seniors’ tax credit or farmers’ support program.

Preparing this ruling has caused me some degree of difficulty, because I do have to profess some sympathy for the opposition House leaders’ point. I don’t much like this when it happens, either. It almost always provokes disorder, to the extent that the practice has now given rise to this point of order. But what is the purpose of standing order 23(f)?

The rule is designed to protect the integrity of the collective decisions of the House. The process of a decision duly and properly made, whether by a majority or unanimously, has to be shielded from criticism or disparagement. Otherwise, the authority and legitimacy of the assembly itself and the legislative process is drawn into question. Thus, it is out of order to reproach the House as a whole or to scornfully criticize it for one of its decisions, for to do so would impugn the reputation of this House.

The standing order anticipates that the House may have mistakenly decided a matter: Perhaps different or additional information emerges that might have affected the decision, or there was a significant procedural irregularity when the vote was taken, or the House cannot agree with the side that the Speaker chose when breaking a tie with his casting vote. In such decisions, reflecting on the vote is necessary in order to justify a motion that it be rescinded.

The point of order before me focused on criticism by one side of the House of the votes by the other side—or one of the parties, or of another individual member. As I have noted, standing order 23(f) works to preserve the integrity of the collective decisions of the House, not to forbid ever referring to how an individual member voted on any given matter before the House. A member’s voting history is what it is. It is on the public record, available for all to see, and it stands on its own.

It is instructive to note that research into this question was not successful in finding a single instance of this standing order ever being exercised to prevent a member from referring to another member’s vote. Indeed, the very common and longstanding practice to the contrary belies that position.

Even setting aside the procedural realities of the House, though, I am still left to address the practicality and reasonableness of the requested remedy to this grievance; that is, a prohibition against referring to previous votes by another member. I think such a limit would very quickly prove to be unenforceable and regularly offended. How can it be reasonable that it would be perpetually off limits ever to mention how another member voted on issues in the past? Surely no one genuinely expects the Speaker to shield an individual member, or certain members, or one of the parties in the House from attention to or comment about their vote on any matter. This happens all the time, and I see it as a natural part of the political process of which this place is the heart. It has simply never been a part of our culture that making an observation about a member’s voting record has ever been out of order.

For all the reasons I’ve just given, I cannot find that standing order 23(f) works to exclude the types of references complained about in the point of order.

1040

ORAL QUESTIONS

MINISTERS’ EXPENSES

Mr. Tim Hudak: My question is to the Minister of Government Services. Yesterday, Premier McGuinty began the day with an astonishing admission that he’s breaking his own expense disclosure rules. In fact, he and four other ministers have not filed a single expense online since April 2010, when it began. By midday, you, Minister, sent out a memo trying to justify the process as being “successful so far,” but at the end of the day, the Premier accepted that he got caught. He backtracked and said he would stop hiding his expenses under the names of others in his office. Effectively, they had three different positions in one day. So who was wrong: the Premier in the morning, you in the afternoon, the Premier at night, or all three?

Hon. Harinder S. Takhar: To the Acting Premier and Minister of Finance.

Hon. Dwight Duncan: I have before me—

Interjections.

The Speaker (Hon. Steve Peters): Members will come to order. Stop the clock.

Acting Premier?

Hon. Dwight Duncan: I have with me a ministerial expense claim for the Integrity Commissioner’s office. It’s form—

Mr. John Yakabuski: On a point of order, Mr. Speaker—

The Speaker (Hon. Steve Peters): I’m not going to hear the point of order. I know that the Speaker should not anticipate, but he’s going to question the referral to another minister, and that is allowed to be done within the chamber.

Hon. Dwight Duncan: It’s form 7540-2059, which is created—this is an interesting piece of legislation; the opposition and House will remember—by the Cabinet Ministers’ and Opposition Leaders’ Expenses Review and Accountability Act, 2002. This was created because the leader’s former colleague—one of them—had expensed $150,000 in hotel bills. Another one had expensed $1,200 a night for drinks and wings at bars. They rushed this legislation through. We’re using your forms. We’re reporting according to the law that your government brought forward. This government has cleaned up the awful mess of expenditures that were left by that party of entitlement, who abused taxpayers’ money at every opportunity they had.

The Speaker (Hon. Steve Peters): Supplementary?

Mr. Tim Hudak: I’ve got one word for the minister: eHealth, the biggest boondoggle in the history of the province, which went into the pockets of your Liberal friends.

Sadly, the minister, the so-called integrity czar, refuses to answer basic questions about a memo that the integrity czar sent out. Who’s running the ship over there? Why are you getting paid if you won’t answer questions about a memo that you sent out? Come on.

Three different positions in one day; the Premier got caught trying to hide his expenses under the name of his staff, and it appears to be rubbing off on his ministers, because there are four other ministers who haven’t filed a single expense and have tried to hide them under their staff’s names. If this guy is not responsible for integrity in government, I don’t know who is. Why do you keep blaming everybody else for your own problems in hiding your own expenses?

Hon. Dwight Duncan: The one thing that party has no comprehension of is integrity in government. Let us just review the record.

Interjections.

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

Minister?

Hon. Dwight Duncan: The Leader of the Opposition took a trip: 140 days between April 1 and August 23, 2001. He and his staff racked up $23,633 in expenses. Let me review with you what some of those expenses are.

Interjections.

The Speaker (Hon. Steve Peters): The members will please come to order. Stop the clock.

Hon. Sandra Pupatello: C’mon, Timmy, ask your seatmate how many—

The Speaker (Hon. Steve Peters): Minister of Economic Development.

Mr. John Yakabuski: Sandra, you can ask questions in the fall.

Interjections.

The Speaker (Hon. Steve Peters): Member from Renfrew. Member from Nepean–Carleton. Minister of Consumer Services. Minister of Transport. Member from Essex.

Minister?

Hon. Dwight Duncan: Among those expenses by the Leader of the Opposition when he served in government were plants, gum, doughnuts and napkins.

This government has brought a level of accountability to ministerial expenses that was absent under that government. This government and the members of its ministry are in compliance with all the rules and regulations around full disclosure, and finally, everything we file is subject to freedom of information. We’re about—

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

Mr. Tim Hudak: Minister, come on. Your Premier got caught breaking his own rules yesterday. The Premier had one position in the morning; he had another position at night. Your integrity czar has been all over the place, except where he should be: answering questions here in the Ontario Legislature.

I don’t know where you’re coming from, Minister. You say you complied. You haven’t posted a single expense since June 2010. You’re trying to hide yours as well.

Minister, why don’t you come clean? Stop blaming the Integrity Commissioner. Stop blaming everybody else. Point the finger squarely at your chest and your Premier’s. Why were you breaking your own law when it came to publicly filing your expenses in our province?

Hon. Dwight Duncan: If the Leader of the Opposition were to fill out one of these forms today, like what he filled out to expense his chicken McNuggets, he would know that it goes through a variety of scrutiny. It’s looked at by the Integrity Commissioner. The rules are fully followed. There’s—

Interjections.

The Speaker (Hon. Steve Peters): The member from Lanark and the member from Nepean will please come to order. Member from Hamilton East. Member from Dufferin.

Minister?

Hon. Rick Bartolucci: Lisa and Tim eat at Jack Astor’s.

Hon. Dwight Duncan: There have been trips to Jack Astor’s by members of that caucus; $92 for nachos.

Hon. Rick Bartolucci: Nachos?

Hon. Dwight Duncan: Nachos.

This government has brought openness, integrity and accountability that was absent under the Conservative government. The people of Ontario don’t want to go back to that culture of entitlement. They’ll stand behind us. The integrity of the Premier and his government is second to none.

MINISTERS’ EXPENSES

Mr. Tim Hudak: Nobody believes that anymore, Minister, and that’s what I want to see changed in our province. I’m going to invoke the faint hope that the Minister of Government Services will actually answer a question that has to do with his portfolio. So let me try again.

To the integrity czar, the Minister of Government Services: Premier McGuinty has changed. He’ll say anything to get re-elected. He used to say that anyone who failed to follow his expense claim rules would be “visited with the full consequences of their failings.” The Premier broke his own rules. Four ministers haven’t posted since April 2010. So when the Premier says “the full consequences of their failings,” what does that mean in McGuinty-speak—a slap on the wrist, a loud tsk-tsk or a wink and a nod from the so-called integrity czar?

Interjections.

The Speaker (Hon. Steve Peters): The member from Lanark. The member from Durham, who’s not in his seat—stop the clock. The member from Peterborough as well. The member from Halton. Minister of Community Safety. So much for the member from Davenport’s wish.

Minister?

1050

Hon. Harinder S. Takhar: Let me outline what the procedure is for posting these expenses so it’s clear to the House. Expenses must be submitted by the ministers, the PAs and the political staff in the 22 largest agencies. They are reviewed by the Integrity Commissioner, and once the Integrity Commissioner has reviewed them they are sent to Ontario Shared Services for posting. Expenses have been posted approximately every month since April 2010. If some expenses are not up yet, it is likely that—

Interjection.

Hon. Harinder S. Takhar: Do you want to answer this question rather than me?

The Integrity Commissioner is still reviewing them or they are in the queue to be posted. Sometimes there’s a backlog with the Integrity Commissioner and it takes time to post the expenses.

The Speaker (Hon. Steve Peters) Supplementary?

Mr. Tim Hudak: The minister asked if he could refer the question to the member for Renfrew in the opposition. You referred it to pretty well everybody else, so I wouldn’t be surprised if you tried it.

Minister, you yourself have broken your expense filing rules. You are one of the seven ministers, like the finance minister, who hasn’t filed a single expense since June 1, 2010. The Premier himself broke the rules and at least admitted that yesterday and said he’s going to change. Instead of coming clean with Ontario families, you sent out junior staffers to defend your own failure to follow your own rules.

Minister, I’ll ask you: How can we trust you to run this expense disclosure system when you yourself are breaking the rules?

Hon. Harinder S. Takhar: Here is a list—

Interjections.

The Speaker (Hon. Steve Peters): The members will please—stop the clock.

Interjection.

Mr. Peter Kormos: You’re mixing your metaphors.

The Speaker (Hon. Steve Peters): The English lessons can take place outside the chamber, and I certainly encourage the member from Welland and the Minister of Community Safety to perhaps go visit the pages’ school down in the basement.

Minister?

Hon. Harinder S. Takhar: I think the Leader of the Opposition needs to maybe start looking himself, because my expenses are on the website. Here’s a list of three expenses that are right on the website. So maybe he should start looking at it.

Here is the difference between our party and their party: I met with the Leader of the Opposition and asked him to post his expenses. You know what they did? Rather than actually linking the website on which they post their expenses, they created a separate website that nobody can find to see if their expenses are posted or not. They have a secret website, and they don’t want the people of Ontario to see if their expenses are posted on the website or not. Why is your website not linked to your main website? Why are you hiding these from the people?

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

Mr. Tim Hudak: Premier McGuinty said that if you fail to follow the rules, there will be consequences, so let me ask about what those consequences are going to be. More than half of cabinet have not posted a single expense since June 2010. As a result, agencies are following suit. Fully 14 of the 22 agencies that this regulates have similarly broken the rules—more than half.

Minister, this was brought to your attention in October 2010. You have had six months to do something about it, and all you put out was a memo to excuse everyone who’s breaking the law.

Minister, you’ve had six months. If the Premier breaks the rules and you break the rules, how can we actually trust you to run the system and why should the agencies follow suit?

Hon. Harinder S. Takhar: This reminds me of a saying that says that people in glass houses shouldn’t throw stones at others.

Let me just read this from the St. Catharines Standard of December 6. This is not what I said but what the St. Catharines Standard on December 6, 2002, said: “While Minister of Northern Development and Mines, Tim Hudak spent your tax money to go to a conference in Las Vegas with vice-presidential candidate Dick Cheney.”

This is what the Welland Tribune, on October 4, 2002, said: “Tourism Minister Tim Hudak went on a province-wide junket in the summer of 2001. In 145 days between April 1 and August 23, 2001”—

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

TAXATION

Ms. Andrea Horwath: My question is for the Acting Premier. Tonight—

Interjections.

The Speaker (Hon. Steve Peters): Minister of Education. Member from Simcoe North.

Interjection.

The Speaker (Hon. Steve Peters): Member from Renfrew.

As I’ve reminded members before, we do have a rotation in this chamber when it comes to question period. Right now, that rotation has moved to the third party, and I would ask members, particularly of the official opposition, to allow the leader of the third party to put her questions.

Please continue.

Ms. Andrea Horwath: My question is for the Acting Premier. Tonight is federal debate night in Canada. Those tuning in will see the federal leaders offer vastly different opinions on corporate taxes. They’ll see that when it comes to corporate tax cuts, the Prime Minister and the Premier of Ontario are like two peas in a pod, yet study after study proves that these corporate tax giveaways don’t result in increased business investments or job creation. When will the McGuinty government finally chart a different course and abandon the corporate tax giveaway policies of Stephen Harper?

Hon. Dwight Duncan: Our government brought forward a comprehensive tax plan for jobs and growth. I am proud that we were able to reduce personal taxes. The leader of the third party earlier this morning tweeted that we’re giving oil companies tax cuts. What she doesn’t realize is, they don’t headquarter here or pay their corporate taxes here.

What we wanted to do was say to the forestry sector and the auto sector, which employ tens of thousands of Ontarians, that, “You can compete on an equal footing with those other corporations, so that we would have more jobs in Ontario.”

The New Democrats want to create jobs in Alberta. They want to create jobs in Michigan. They want to create jobs anywhere but Ontario. Our plan is the right plan for Ontario. Ontario’s part of a strong—

Interjection.

The Speaker (Hon. Steve Peters): The member from Hamilton East.

Mr. Paul Miller: What are you doing for the steelworkers in Hamilton and Sudbury?

The Speaker (Hon. Steve Peters): You can’t even hear me.

Mr. Paul Miller: I couldn’t hear you; sorry.

The Speaker (Hon. Steve Peters): He couldn’t hear you because of yourself.

Interjections.

The Speaker (Hon. Steve Peters): Supplementary?

Ms. Andrea Horwath: You know what? They may be inconvenient, but here are some facts for the minister: In 2000, the combined provincial-federal corporate tax rate was 42%. A decade later, the combined rate is now 28% and soon will fall to 25% because of the Harper Conservative-McGuinty Liberal corporate tax giveaways. During the exact same period, business investment in plant and machinery has fallen from 7.7% of GDP to 5.5%. During tonight’s debate, it will be Stephen Harper alone defending corporate tax cuts.

When federal Liberal leader Michael Ignatieff turns to Harper and tells him that corporate tax giveaways don’t create jobs, who is this minister going to be cheering for?

Hon. Dwight Duncan: I’d like to know what the leader of the third party said to Mr. Layton when he endorsed the HST in Nova Scotia.

Hon. James J. Bradley: Fifteen per cent—

Hon. Dwight Duncan: A 15% HST. Let me tell you what Mr. Layton had to say about all of this. He says, “The thing about what happened here under Darrell Dexter was, there was a whole program”—

Interjections.

The Speaker (Hon. Steve Peters): Order. Member from Renfrew. Stop the clock.

Minister?

Hon. Dwight Duncan: Here’s what Jack Layton had to say: “The thing about what happened here under Darrell Dexter was, there was a whole program of rebates and specific reductions.” Ours are bigger than Nova Scotia’s: interesting. He endorsed it after the NDP in Nova Scotia raised the HST by two points. That leader and her party wanted to raise the provincial sales tax by 1%.

We cut taxes for jobs in Ontario: jobs for steelworkers, jobs for auto workers, jobs for forestry—

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

Interjection.

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

Interjections.

1100

The Speaker (Hon. Steve Peters): Excuse me?

Interjection.

The Speaker (Hon. Steve Peters): Why, did you say something? You have a guilty look on your face.

Final supplementary?

Ms. Andrea Horwath: Perhaps we should take this opportunity to get back to the point. The mountain of evidence proving the folly of corporate tax giveaways continues to grow. Statistics Canada data show that corporate tax giveaways don’t create jobs. A recent study by the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives found the exact same thing, yet the McGuinty government persists.

When it comes to corporate tax policy in this province, why is the government listening to Stephen Harper and Jim Flaherty while ignoring virtually everyone else?

Hon. Dwight Duncan: The point is jobs. The point is to make sure that Ontario workers have an opportunity to work again in the auto sector, in the forestry sector, in all of the important sectors of this economy.

The leader of the third party wants to have it both ways. She cannot justify her position on the HST versus that of Jack Layton. You can’t have it both ways. So if you support Jack Layton’s tax policy, does that mean you support a 2% increase in the HST? That has to be what it is.

This government, this party, will stand up for auto workers to get them work. It will stand up for steelworkers to get them work. It will stand up for forestry workers to get them work instead of selling them out to low-tax jurisdictions where they don’t have a chance to compete. It’s about a stronger economy—

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

GASOLINE PRICES

Ms. Andrea Horwath: My next question is also to the Acting Premier. Ontario drivers are angry about gas price rip-offs. Some drivers in Thunder Bay today are paying $1.34; in Timmins, $1.37. A CIBC study released yesterday shows that gasoline prices are up by about 25% since 2010. The increase could cost the average Ontario household as much as $950 more this year alone.

In every eastern Canadian province but Ontario, governments have moved to stop these kinds of rip-offs by regulating the price of gasoline. Why does this government continue to take the side of oil companies and refuse to protect the interests of Ontario residents?

Hon. Dwight Duncan: Ontario consumers recognize the problem in the world oil supply. They also recognize that this is happening right across the country, right around the world. They also recognize that in those provinces where these so-called fixes have been brought in, not only have they not lowered prices, they’ve raised prices.

It is important that we continue to build a better economy by making investments in education and health care. It is important that we not lose sight of those broader issues as we build a better economy and build better jobs for our children. I would invite the leader of the third party to try to understand what is happening in the world economy today. If she did, she’d realize just how empty her rhetoric really is.

The Speaker (Hon. Steve Peters): Supplementary?

Ms. Andrea Horwath: The CIBC study shows that this continued gas price rip-off means that Ontarians are likely to spend less on things like sporting goods, clothing, personal care products and a whole other list of everyday items. Things are even worse because of the HST now levied at the pumps.

New Democrats believe that it’s time that the Ontario government finally stood up to the oil companies and stopped these gas price rip-offs. Will this government regulate the price of gas or is Ontario going to continue to be the only province in eastern Canada where oil companies can just keep on ripping off motorists?

Hon. Dwight Duncan: The leader of the third party knows full well that the federal government has responsibility for that and we can’t regulate it. That is well known.

I don’t disagree with what the CIBC report finds. Rising gasoline prices do in fact impact the economy. Unfortunately, this Legislature, and certainly the leader of the third party, can’t control circumstances in Libya and can’t control circumstances in any other part of the world. It is a world price. We pay the world price, and that is our reality. What we can do is build prudence into our budget; we can build reserves to accommodate the challenges that are going to happen.

Interestingly enough, the principal gasoline tax revenues actually decline when the prices go up. Not only that, but because we give two cents of that to municipalities, it helps fund public transit. We don’t want to cut public transit; we want to build a better future for Ontario.

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

Ms. Andrea Horwath: I wish the minister would pay attention to the circumstances of Ontario drivers these days. That’s a circumstance he needs to put his mind to.

More than four years ago, a legislative committee voted unanimously—that means every party in this House on that committee—to investigate precisely these sorts of rip-offs and explore the possibility of a made-in-Ontario gas price regulation regime. But this government stopped the committee in its tracks and refused to allow it to conduct even one single public hearing. Ontarians are tired of having their pocketbooks picked by oil companies that exploit world tensions to fatten their own bottom line.

When is this government going to finally take the side of Ontario drivers and stop the continued price gouging by oil companies?

Hon. Dwight Duncan: I think Ontario consumers can see through empty rhetoric that is steeped in no substance whatsoever. The leader of the third party would have us believe that this Legislature can affect the price of gasoline. Ontario consumers are too smart for that. They can see through the emptiness of that. They’ve heard this from all three parties over the years—all kinds of mindless grandstanding by the NDP on this issue.

The reality is this: We pay a world price for gasoline. We take certain steps, through a number of tax relief mechanisms, to ensure that Ontarians are shielded somewhat from that. That is our reality. The leader of the third party’s tired old rhetoric is not going to get anywhere. The people of this province can see right through her.

MINISTERS’ EXPENSES

Mr. Frank Klees: To the Minister of Infrastructure: The Minister of Health Promotion posted her expenses, and they’re current to December 2010. If the Minister of Health Promotion can comply with the law and post her expenses online and on time, why did the Minister of Infrastructure ignore the rules and not do so likewise?

Hon. Bob Chiarelli: We established a process which requires the members and their staff to file their expenses with the Integrity Commissioner by a fixed date. That has been complied with. What has happened is, the Integrity Commissioner has not finished working on these files. When she provides the information, we can then file them.

That is the process. It is a process which is much better than any process they had when they were in government, and we have complied. It is an irresponsible question. We have complied with all the requirements of expenses, and we will continue to do so. When we receive the information from the Integrity Commissioner, they will be posted on our website.

The Speaker (Hon. Steve Peters): Supplementary.

Mr. Frank Klees: Just to be clear, Minister, it is now the fault of the Integrity Commissioner that the minister’s expenses are not posted on time, as required?

Yesterday, we caught the Premier breaking the expense disclosure rules. Today it’s the minister, but he chooses to blame the Integrity Commissioner. I would ask the minister this: Is it that he in fact is simply ignoring the requirement to post on time, or is there something about those expenses that he has intentionally not disclosed? Which is it?

Hon. Bob Chiarelli: I answered that question in the main question.

I will answer the supplementary this way, and that is, we’ve been asking the party opposite where they posted their expenses. They promised to post in February last year. Almost a year later, they finally posted them on a secret website, Ontariopcleader.ca. There is no link to the secret website from the main PC Party website. The secret site is more or less impossible to find with search engines like Google. There was no announcement when the expenses went up on the secret site.

They are making it so hard—

Interjections.

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The Speaker (Hon. Steve Peters): The member from Nepean; the member from Lanark.

Interjections.

The Speaker (Hon. Steve Peters): Stop the clock. Minister of Community Safety, Minister of Agriculture.

New question.

NUCLEAR SAFETY

Mme France Gélinas: Ma question est pour la ministre de la Santé et des Soins de longue durée. As a result of the ongoing Fukushima nuclear crisis, the US Environmental Protection Agency is now reporting increased levels of radioactive iodine and calcium in milk, drinking water and rain water in cities across the United States. Radioactive iodine levels in milk in Los Angeles and Phoenix are at or above maximum acceptable levels, and in Vermont the milk is at two thirds the maximum level.

What I’d like to know is: Is the radiation level in the milk that we drink here in Ontario being tested, and are those results accessible?

Hon. Deborah Matthews: To the Minister of Energy.

Hon. Brad Duguid: I think it’s really important, when we deal with issues regarding the tragedy in Japan, that we deal with those issues very sensitively. Indeed, I think the last thing any member of this Legislature would want to do would be to put out information that might have the effect of fearmongering to the public on these kinds of issues.

We here in Ontario have a nuclear system and a nuclear program that is at or above all international standards. The people of this province can be absolutely assured that indeed, our nuclear system here in Ontario is safe, it’s secure and it meets all international safety standards. Again, the last thing we would want to do is to suggest to our constituents that the facts are—

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

Mme France Gélinas: I’d like to go back to the Minister of Health, because Ontarians are concerned about the health risk of radiation coming from Japan and they want full information about the radioactivity in the air that we breathe, in the food that we eat and in the water and the milk that we drink; the information about how to protect our health. This is about the health of Ontarians.

What will the Minister of Health do to ensure—

Interjections.

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

Mrs. Liz Sandals: That’s irresponsible.

The Speaker (Hon. Steve Peters): Member from Guelph, it is not for you to be judging whether a question is responsible or not.

I just remind all members that the issues that we deal with in this chamber are of importance to the people of Ontario. This question that is being asked is of importance to the member from Nickel Belt. I would just ask that that same respect be shown on the other side in answering the question.

Please continue.

Mme France Gélinas: Thank you, Mr. Speaker. I was saying: This is about the health of Ontarians, and having information is the best way to empower people to take responsibility for their own health. If you don’t have information, then people make it up. So what I want to ask is: Will the Minister of Health—

Interjections.

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

Interjection.

Mr. Paul Miller: It’s simple. Yes or no?

Hon. Glen R. Murray: Yes, you make it up.

The Speaker (Hon. Steve Peters): Minister of Research and Innovation, Minister of Municipal Affairs, comments like that are not helpful for maintaining good order and decorum in this House.

Mr. John Yakabuski: We’re hearing more and more of them.

The Speaker (Hon. Steve Peters): Member from Renfrew, it’s not helpful either, because some of those comments come from both sides as well at times.

Please continue.

Mme France Gélinas: The radiation levels are accessible to the people in the US. I was on their website. You click and you can see it all. It’s clear and transparent. When will the Minister of Health ensure that radiation levels in milk, drinking water, rainwater, in the air, everywhere in Ontario, are monitored and posted?

Hon. Brad Duguid: The Minister of Agriculture is very keen to respond to this.

Hon. Carol Mitchell: I am very keen to respond to this. I want to reinforce that food safety is our first priority.

Specifically, the question that was asked is directly toward milk. I want to remind all the members of why we’re such strong supporters of the supply-managed sector. Milk is contained within the supply-managed sector, and I want to assure that under Ontario’s Health Protection and Promotion Act it is illegal to deliver, distribute, sell or offer for sale milk that has not been pasteurized or sterilized in a plant that is licensed under the Milk Act. I’m very pleased to report to the House that the supply-managed sector, which milk falls within—we can absolutely give assurances that the—

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

ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT

Mr. Ted McMeekin: My question is for the Minister of Economic Development and Trade. Over the last several months, the member opposite from Hamilton East–Stoney Creek has criticized the McGuinty government for not doing enough for the people of Hamilton: not enough jobs, not enough for the economy, not enough, never enough—

Interjections.

The Speaker (Hon. Steve Peters): Members will come to order. Member from Oxford. Member from Durham, who’s not in his seat.

Please continue.

Mr. Ted McMeekin: Never, ever enough, he says.

I, for one, a representative of many constituents who are employed by businesses in the city of Hamilton and the surrounding area, am very concerned about this kind of negativity and want to hear from you, Minister, what you have to say about this. Minister, what exactly has the McGuinty government done to help families in the Hamilton area, and what is the government doing to create jobs in our great city?

Hon. Sandra Pupatello: Let me just say this: I’m delighted to speak to this. The member from Hamilton raises very, very important questions. It is very disturbing to hear the negativity that comes constantly from that side of the House as it relates to the great region of Hamilton. We have worked diligently with the city of Hamilton, with the economic development commission, to search for every opportunity.

Arcelor Dofasco is one perfect example where our government partnered with this company for their investment of $153 million, which is securing hundreds of jobs in the Hamilton area. We’re proud of the steel industry, proud of the history of Hamilton and what a significant player they are in the whole of the manufacturing sector in Ontario.

We, on this side of the House, are proud of the inroads we’re making to turn the corner of the recession, especially in the region of Hamilton.

The Speaker (Hon. Steve Peters): Supplementary?

Mr. Ted McMeekin: I very much appreciate that answer, and I want to thank the minister for it. It’s comforting to know that the economic recovery across Ontario includes all parts of this great province, and especially my beloved city of Hamilton.

I’m particularly interested in Max Aicher’s plans for economic development in Hamilton. I understand this is a successful international firm that has decided to open up shop in Hamilton.

I’d also like to ask the minister to tell the House what benefits the people of Hamilton can expect to gain from this particular business, and I hope the member from Hamilton East–Stoney Creek listens to the answer.

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Hon. Sandra Pupatello: I’m delighted to be able to speak about Max Aicher, a company that we took the time to meet when we were on a trip in Europe, sitting down with a potential investor who, in the end, invested $106 million in Ontario, specifically in Hamilton, reopening a steel plant from the US Steel days, re-employing people who used to work at US Steel and are now working for Max Aicher—hundreds of jobs thanks to the investment by Max Aicher, a company that we invited to come into Ontario, that we’re delighted to have. They have a great international reputation in the steel business. We’re delighted to have them. Max Aicher himself has since made several trips to Ontario and is delighted with our Hamilton operation, as the Ontario government is delighted to partner with a great company like Max Aicher.

I’m only sad to say that the—

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

MINISTERS’ EXPENSES

Mr. Robert Bailey: My question is to the Minister of Training, Colleges and Universities. Minister, you managed to post your expenses up until December 2010 last year. You also sit close to the Minister of Tourism, who didn’t post a single expense last year—not even for the trip to China he took with Premier McGuinty.

What’s your secret for obeying the law, and why haven’t you shared it with your cabinet colleagues?

Hon. John Milloy: I am very pleased that I have been able to get out across this province and talk about the great things that this government has done in terms of post-secondary education. It was only a few weeks ago that I visited the riding of Sarnia, where I talked about the tremendous investments that have been made in Lambton College. I was able to attend a Second Career graduation ceremony, where we talked about the literally hundreds and hundreds of laid-off individuals who have been helped through Second Career and who have received support from the government of Ontario, from a program that that opposition party stood up and derided, made fun of and did not support.

I talked about the great investments in terms of post-secondary education that that member and his party voted against. I talked about the way that we are—

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

Mr. Robert Bailey: My supplementary is back to the Minister of Training, Colleges and Universities. That sounded like a rendition of Gulliver’s Travels.

Minister, your colleague the Minister of Tourism isn’t the only one who would benefit from your advice on how to comply with the law and to keep up with expense disclosure laws. You managed to file your expenses—

Interjection.

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

Hon. Sandra Pupatello: I withdraw. You don’t even have to ask me.

The Speaker (Hon. Steve Peters): Stand and withdraw.

Hon. Sandra Pupatello: I withdraw.

The Speaker (Hon. Steve Peters): Please continue.

Mr. Robert Bailey: Thank you, Speaker; it’s kind of you.

Minister, you managed to file your expenses even when you also carried the research and innovation portfolio. This current minister hasn’t posted a single expense. Did you take all the forms from the office, or is blaming the Integrity Commissioner just self-serving?

Hon. John Milloy: I’m a little shocked that the member would refer to a trip that I took to Sarnia to talk about the great investments made by this government—

Interjections.

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

Interjection.

The Speaker (Hon. Steve Peters): Well, you could hear the answer, member from Sarnia, if your caucus would tone it down a little bit and allow you to hear that answer.

Minister?

Hon. John Milloy: I’m a little shocked that the member would refer to a trip that I took to his riding as Gulliver’s Travels, but since the member has stood up and asked me to comment on my colleagues, perhaps he’d like to talk about some of his colleagues when they were government, cabinet ministers who expensed Timbits; cabinet ministers, such as the Leader of the Opposition, who expensed their trip to Las Vegas and Chicken McNuggets, who made a mockery of the expense system.

We brought a level of transparency to it. Our—

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

FOREST INDUSTRY

Mr. Gilles Bisson: My question is to the Minister of Northern Development and Mines. Minister, recently you launched the Growth Plan for Northern Ontario. It’s interesting to see that section 8.2 says, “An Engaged and Informed Population.”

“8.2.1 The province will work to implement the policies of this plan in a manner that is responsive to northern Ontario” by “seeking out the views and aspirations of northern Ontario residents and businesses” and “using a variety of consultation mechanisms,” such as public meetings.

How can you go forward with Bill 151, a bill that will affect the forest industry for years to come, and not adequately consult the north by allowing that committee to travel up north?

Hon. Michael Gravelle: We’re very pleased that Bill 151, modernizing the forest tenure system, is moving forward. As the member knows well, we had two different, separate consultations leading up to the introduction of the legislation where we consulted very closely with northerners. We’ve continued that process as we lead up to the public hearings.

I am very pleased indeed that we’ve had strong representation from northern Ontario at the hearings that started yesterday and some very strong support. The consultation process has been extensive, and it is continuing.

In fact, I’m very pleased about the fact that we’ve been working with the forest sector in particular—up to last week—recognizing that the key to this is for us to get this legislation right. We are very pleased that the public hearings will give us an opportunity to bring forward some positive amendments that indeed will improve—

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

Mr. Gilles Bisson: Minister, it’s called the growth plan. In the centre of the growth plan is the idea that the government will consult northerners when it comes to decisions that affect them. You’re about to pass Bill 151 in a matter of weeks. You’re not travelling that bill to northern Ontario; you’re doing it down here at Queen’s Park, where northerners don’t have the ability to participate.

So I ask you again: How can you stand behind Bill 151 and, more importantly, how can you stand behind the growth plan when you don’t follow what you set out there, which is consultation with northerners?

Hon. Michael Gravelle: We are in the midst of extensive consultations related to Bill 151. We had two different levels leading up to the introduction of the draft proposal, and we went back out on the road and consulted all across the north. And, may I say, not just northern Ontario; there are many other communities in Ontario with, obviously, forestry being an important part of their economy. So indeed, that consultation process has taken place.

I am delighted that we’ve had strong northern consultations coming forward to Queen’s Park. We opened it up to video conferencing. In fact, Dennis Rounsville, from Tembec, appeared yesterday. He thanked us for the convenience of being able to conference in and not having to travel to be at the committee. We’ll continue the consultations. We’ll come up with a better piece of legislation—

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

VICTIMS OF CRIME

Mr. Tony Ruprecht: I have a question for the Attorney General. Sunday marked the launch of National Victims of Crime Awareness Week. The theme this year is Many Voices, Many Paths.

We fully recognize that no two victims are the same and each person works through the aftermath of the victimization in different ways. I know our government has played a significant role in addressing the diverse needs of victims. We have put numerous supports in place to help victims of crime overcome the impact of these horrific incidents.

While nothing can take away the terrible pain of those who have suffered from crime, can the Attorney General, who has taken a personal interest in this, tell the House what our government is doing to make sure that victims of crime all across Ontario are supported when they need help most? One, in the immediate aftermath of crime—

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

Hon. Christopher Bentley: The member from Davenport raises a very important point at the beginning of victims’ week. This week and every week we want to make sure that victims and their families have the supports they need at times of crisis and throughout the criminal justice process.

From the time we became the government we’ve invested almost three quarters of a billion dollars in victims’ services and supports; this year alone, $120 million, twice what the previous government invested in their last year. What does that pay for? It pays for the victim crisis assistance and referral services 24 hours a day, immediately, on a crime being committed; the victim/witness assistance service; the quick response service to put cash in victims’ pockets when they need it most; and the human trafficking initiative, just to mention a few—

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

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Mr. Tony Ruprecht: There are organizations in my riding of Davenport and throughout Ontario that operate through the dedication and hard work of professionals, volunteers and community workers to provide victims of crime and their families with the supports and services they need to overcome trauma and help put their lives back together.

Front-line workers know that the court process is an inherently stressful time for victims, coming face to face with those accused in a case and reliving often horrific experiences. Of course, this can once more tear open old scars.

In the past, the justice system would rarely interact with victims beyond direct contact with them at the crime scene and again on the witness stand. Can the Attorney General tell this House and front-line victims’ service providers—

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

Hon. Christopher Bentley: The member is right. Throughout his experience, he’s seen the development of these services: the victim/witness assistance program, helping victims and their families in court, just to name one.

But he’s also been able to identify a few gaps. We just launched a fund, the vulnerable victims and family fund, to address some of those gaps. For example, the families of homicide victims travelling to court: This fund will help them and support them financially so they can get to those court appearances; victims who require some additional interpretation service, not just to testify but to follow the proceedings.

We want to make sure that victims and their families are as involved as they wish to be throughout the court process and get the support they need. Thanks to the—

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

MINISTERS’ EXPENSES

Ms. Lisa MacLeod: My question is to the Minister of Research and Innovation. The Minister of Training, Colleges and Universities was the former Minister of Research and Innovation. He posted his expenses online, and they are current to December 2010. If the former minister could comply with the law and post his expenses online, why do you refuse? Or did he, in fact, steal all the forms from the office?

Hon. Glen R. Murray: It’s starting to sound like a Monty Python skit over there.

What was the Leader of the Opposition doing in Las Vegas with Dick Cheney? Was he getting hunting tips? I notice he got the fishing licence. Hopefully, the Vice-President didn’t get the hunting licence. That’s like the member from Carleton–Mississippi Mills getting political advice from the member from Lanark–Frontenac–Lennox and Addington or getting seasonal hunting advice from that member.

This party is hysterical. Not a single question on innovation or on productivity. In five years, not a single intelligent economic development question, because they don’t get it.

The Speaker (Hon. Steve Peters): Supplementary?

Ms. Lisa MacLeod: Hysterical, going rogue or unaccountable? We can’t pick all three, but I’m certain one of them is exactly what you are—going rogue for sure today.

When he was caught bending the rules, Premier McGuinty’s first impulse was to dodge and try to change the channel. He only backtracked when he got cornered.

Will you finally admit and take some responsibility, be accountable as a minister of the crown and admit that you have tried to fool Ontario families and—

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

Ms. Lisa MacLeod: I withdraw.

Will you actually post your expenses and come clean with Ontario families?

Hon. Glen R. Murray: I offered yesterday. If the member for Nepean–Carleton wants to write me a note, I’ll send her—my expenses are all up to date. They’ve all been filed with the Integrity Commissioner. They’re all making their way through the system.

Maybe you need better research staff. I don’t know what it is. God knows, your nomination process is out of whack. You can’t protect your own members.

Maybe you need to hire better research staff, because you get a lot of money from the taxpayers of Ontario. I would offer to take the member from Nepean–Carleton to dinner. Unlike her leader, I won’t charge taxpayers 87 bucks; I’ll pick up the tab. I’ll go through with you, at my expense, my expense account.

Maybe you need to get better researchers and get them off their butts, working for—

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

HEALTH CARE

Ms. Andrea Horwath: My question is to the Acting Premier. Families in the Niagara region are frustrated with their health care system, for good reason. They’ve seen emergency rooms closed in Fort Erie and Port Colborne, health care services disappear and life-changing decisions being made without transparency or accountability.

Local governments are listening to the concerns of their constituents. Last month, the Niagara regional council approved a resolution calling for an independent investigation of the Niagara Health System, following on the footsteps of seven municipal resolutions. Why has the McGuinty government blocked this vital investigation?

Hon. Dwight Duncan: The Minister of Health.

Hon. Deborah Matthews: As the member opposite knows, this afternoon I’m meeting with several community leaders from the Niagara area to better understand their concerns.

What I can tell you is that this is a government that is committed to improving health care for all Ontarians, and that includes people in the Niagara region.

Niagara’s hospitals are a very important part of our health care system. Of course, it goes without saying that they are made stronger because local people care about what happens there and local people advocate for them.

I am absolutely looking forward to this afternoon’s meeting. I want to hear what they have to say, and I want to talk about how we can continue to improve—

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

Ms. Andrea Horwath: Today the mayors are meeting with the Minister of Health to talk about the Niagara Health System’s possible investigation. This is not news to the Minister of Health. This issue has been raised by me and others in this House many times. She knows very well. She shouldn’t be waiting to hear what they have to say; she should already know what’s happening in the Niagara region and the frustration people are having there. So her nice little words about this lovely meeting don’t really make much sense.

It’s clear that the people of Niagara have lost faith in the Niagara Health System and that something needs to be done about that. Something needs to be done about that right away, to bring back their support for their Niagara Health System. Can the people of Niagara count on this minister to do the right thing and actually call the investigation?

Hon. Deborah Matthews: If the member opposite is suggesting that I not talk to anyone, I fundamentally disagree with that. We always learn when we sit down and talk to people. I’m looking forward to learning more this afternoon.

I can tell you that health care is measurably better in Niagara than it was when we took office. We’ve increased hospital funding by over 55%; that’s more than $113 million more on hospitals. We’ve also worked very hard to bring down wait times. The people in Niagara are benefiting from those investments. We’ve been able to cut 200 days off the wait time for hip replacement and 127 days off knee replacement.

We’re building a wonderful new hospital in St. Catharines that will provide cancer care—

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

ONTARIO PUBLIC SERVICE

Mr. Khalil Ramal: My question is to the Minister of Government Services. Minister, my constituents are asking how our government is finding savings within our government organization in an effort to cut expenditures while maintaining a high quality of service delivery.

I was pleased to see that there have been significant savings found across the government. I know that travel has been reduced, among many other expenses.

As you said before, “Every taxpayer dollar counts, particularly in these difficult economic times. It is more important than ever to ensure that we all take responsibility” to save money in our government.

Minister, can you explain to me and to the whole House and to my constituents your plan to—

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

Hon. Harinder S. Takhar: I want to thank the member from London–Fanshawe for asking this question.

Better use of technology and tighter rules on travel have reduced employee expenses by about $30 million last year alone, and that is about a 24% reduction. Our government has saved more than 22,500 hours of travel time. It is expected that a further $10 million will be saved this year in reduced travel expenses.

Webcasting and video conferencing technology have played a key role in reducing all these expenses. Let me just give you some examples: $7.1 million in reduced accommodations; $6.2 million in air travel; $6.2 million in road travel; $1.4 million in meal expenses; and $9.1 million in other travel-related expenses.

We are doing everything possible to make sure that our expenses are managed better.

The Speaker (Hon. Steve Peters): Supplementary.

Mr. Khalil Ramal: I want to thank the minister for working hard, on behalf of all of us in this House, to find savings in government services.

It’s not just about saving. Another component to it is protecting our environment. Can the minister tell us, as a result of the saving and reducing all the papers and all the travelling, how it can impact the environment and what is the result of that?

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Hon. Harinder S. Takhar: As the member said, it’s not just reducing the travel expenses; it’s also reducing paper and office equipment as well. That will save us about $15.6 million over the next two years. That is being done by eliminating 15,000 printers and computer servers, saving about $8 million a year; paper use reduced by 50%, saving about $7 million; reduced fax machines, saving about $640,000. Reducing the number of daily news packages by 96% will save about $1.5 million. The reduction in our office equipment alone will save about 30.5 million kilowatt hours per year as well. That is enough energy to power about 2,700 homes.

MINISTERS’ EXPENSES

Mr. Steve Clark: My question is for the Minister of Citizenship and Immigration. Why could the Minister of Health Promotion and the Minister of Training, College and Universities post their monthly expenses up to December 2010 and you won’t?

Hon. Eric Hoskins: I certainly thank the member opposite for his question. However, I would appreciate at least one question on immigration from my critic someday.

I can tell you that I have submitted all my ministerial expenses. I’m glad that the member opposite has given me the opportunity to talk about what some of these travel expenses relate to. For example, this past October 8, I flew to Ottawa to meet with my federal counterpart, Jason Kenney, to demand that the federal government immediately begin negotiations on a Canada-Ontario immigration agreement to benefit newcomers. Because of meetings such as this one, Ottawa did, in fact, enter into negotiations with Ontario.

I urge the opposition to end their silence and stand—

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

Mr. Steve Clark: I’m not sure Jason Kenney would know who the minister is. You should be more like the Minister of Health Promotion and the Minister of Training, Colleges and Universities instead of the Minister of Infrastructure or the Minister of Research and Innovation. Maybe the first two ministers could give you a lesson on how to fill out the forms on time. Why won’t you admit that you’re trying to fool Ontario families with your—

The Speaker (Hon. Steve Peters): Withdraw the comment.

Mr. Steve Clark: I withdraw.

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

Hon. Eric Hoskins: I find such comments pretty rich coming from the opposition. I should point out that the submission of ministerial expenses is an issue which is very important to this government and to all ministers, and it’s something that I take very seriously. I think, however, it’s quite telling that the immigration critic has not even taken the time to ask my ministry for a briefing on immigration matters, which is the level of attention he pays to that.

I’d ask the member opposite to take his job seriously, call his federal counterparts and demand a fair deal for Ontario and for Ontario’s newcomers.

NUCLEAR SAFETY

Mme France Gélinas: Ma question est pour la ministre de la Santé et des Soins de longue durée. Our neighbours to the south have found radioactive iodine and cesium in their milk. They reported their findings publicly. This is the basis of health promotion: Give the people transparent access to the information they need so they can protect their health.

My question is very simple: Is the government testing for radiation levels in the milk, the drinking water and the rain water across Ontario, yes or no?

Hon. Deborah Matthews: I’m very happy to actually have a chance to answer this. I want to emphasize the importance of monitoring radioactivity and other health hazards. I will undertake to have a conversation with the chief medical officer of health. I will have a fuller understanding of exactly what it is we are doing, and I undertake to get back to the member opposite with that explanation.

The Speaker (Hon. Steve Peters): Supplementary?

Mme France Gélinas: I would like to thank the minister for her offer to follow up. I, too, am interested. As I said, the basis of a good health promotion initiative is to have the facts to make them accessible to the people of Ontario so we all know.

We encourage people to drink milk. It is good for you. But I would say that if there are reported levels of radiation that are happening in states like Vermont, then it is worth monitoring what is done in Ontario so we have a clear conscience. All I’m asking for is, please do the monitoring and make it available and accessible to the people of Ontario.

Hon. Deborah Matthews: I appreciate the member opposite’s willingness to give me a little bit of time to find out more about this. I look forward to learning more myself and to sharing that information.

GOVERNMENT SERVICES

Mr. Jeff Leal: My question today is for the Minister of Government Services. Ontario families have a level of expectation of services they receive from our government. More than ever, Ontarians expect to receive high value for their government services and expect the service to be at par with the private sector.

I know that ServiceOntario in my community has been addressing a number of issues, such as long lines and wait times for core services, as well as issues like having to visit multiple locations for drivers’ licences and health cards. Fixing it wasn’t easy and didn’t happen overnight. It took hard work and some thinking out of the box. It took a service revolution involving a number of initiatives to make it easier for individuals, families and businesses to access government information services.

Could the minister tell us what changes or improvements the minister is doing or referred to in his budget to make service delivery better for Peterborough families?

Hon. Harinder S. Takhar: I am very proud of the changes we have made to improve the services that we deliver to all Ontarians. We actually have integrated our services; we have streamlined our services; we have modernized our services. Now we have 300 services, which consist of two thirds private and one third owned by the government. They deliver family-friendly services to all Ontarians. We have extended the hours. All of those services are available within 10 kilometres. We are not only just providing certain services, but actually we are taking all the services and providing them under one roof as well.

We have actually started measuring the wait times so that we can improve the services and even start providing more guarantees for the services that we provide, so that in case we don’t deliver the services on time, the people can get their money refunded.

We are very, very proud of the services that we are providing to the people and the quality of services that we are providing these days.

The Speaker (Hon. Steve Peters): The time for question period has ended.

CORRECTION OF RECORD

Mme France Gélinas: On a point of order: I was referring to radioactive cesium, but my colleague told me that I said “calcium.” Just in case, I was talking about cesium, not calcium.

The Speaker (Hon. Steve Peters): Thank you. That is a point of order. The member is allowed to correct his or her own record.

Mr. Jeff Leal: On a point of order: I’m trying to figure out this morning why the opposition never asked any questions on health care and education—

The Speaker (Hon. Steve Peters): That is not a point of order, and that is not helpful in helping to maintain order and decorum in this chamber.

DEFERRED VOTES

HEALTH PROTECTION
AND PROMOTION
AMENDMENT ACT, 2011 /
LOI DE 2011 MODIFIANT
LA LOI SUR LA PROTECTION
ET LA PROMOTION DE LA SANTÉ

Deferred vote on the motion for third reading of 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): We have a deferred vote on the motion for third reading of Bill 141, An Act to amend the Health Protection and Promotion Act. Call in the members. This will be a five-minute bell.

The division bells rang from 1148 to 1150.

The Speaker (Hon. Steve Peters): Ms. Smith has moved third reading of Bill 141. All those in favour will rise one at a time and be recorded by the Clerk.

Ayes

  • Albanese, Laura
  • Arthurs, Wayne
  • Bartolucci, Rick
  • Bentley, Christopher
  • Berardinetti, Lorenzo
  • Bisson, Gilles
  • Bradley, James J.
  • Broten, Laurel C.
  • Brown, Michael A.
  • Caplan, David
  • Carroll, Aileen
  • Clark, Steve
  • Colle, Mike
  • Craitor, Kim
  • Crozier, Bruce
  • Delaney, Bob
  • Dickson, Joe
  • Dombrowsky, Leona
  • Duguid, Brad
  • Duncan, Dwight
  • Dunlop, Garfield
  • Elliott, Christine
  • Flynn, Kevin Daniel
  • Gélinas, France
  • Gerretsen, John
  • Hampton, Howard
  • Hardeman, Ernie
  • Hoskins, Eric
  • Hoy, Pat
  • Hudak, Tim
  • Jaczek, Helena
  • Jeffrey, Linda
  • Johnson, Rick
  • Jones, Sylvia
  • Klees, Frank
  • Kormos, Peter
  • Kwinter, Monte
  • Leal, Jeff
  • Levac, Dave
  • MacLeod, Lisa
  • Martiniuk, Gerry
  • Matthews, Deborah
  • Mauro, Bill
  • McMeekin, Ted
  • Miller, Norm
  • Milloy, John
  • Mitchell, Carol
  • Moridi, Reza
  • Munro, Julia
  • Murray, Glen R.
  • O’Toole, John
  • Orazietti, David
  • Ouellette, Jerry J.
  • Phillips, Gerry
  • Prue, Michael
  • Pupatello, Sandra
  • Qaadri, Shafiq
  • Ramal, Khalil
  • Rinaldi, Lou
  • Sandals, Liz
  • Savoline, Joyce
  • Smith, Monique
  • Sousa, Charles
  • Takhar, Harinder S.
  • Van Bommel, Maria
  • Wilkinson, John
  • 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 69; the nays are 0.

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

Be it resolved that the bill do now pass and be entitled as in the motion.

Third reading agreed to.

The Speaker (Hon. Steve Peters): I just want to make two comments. One is, I’d like the House leaders to maybe talk about this issue of walking in votes. I watched very clearly, with the doors open, a member coming down a hallway, thinking that they were coming for a vote, and then with the vote being walked in, that member not being allowed to get in and standing right at the door. So I just put that out for members for discussion.

DECORUM IN CHAMBER

The Speaker (Hon. Steve Peters): I also want to make some comments about this morning’s question period. The members will know that I have, on more than one occasion, reminded members that the use of temperate language is necessary for the preservation of the dignity of this place. Today’s question period had numerous examples, on both sides of the House, of language that was something less than temperate.

It is challenging for the Speaker to maintain a flow in the question period with interruption and without constant interruption. It is made even more challenging when the noise level makes it difficult to hear every word from every member, including those who properly have the floor. To some extent, there has to be some individual responsibility on the part of all of you to resist the use of language that casts this place into disrespect.

I heard comments. I had a note passed to me about one member questioning the integrity of another member—issues such as, “How can we trust you to run the system?”; “You haven’t got a clue”; “Stealing the forms.” It’s coming from both sides of the House.

I realize that we are in the lead-up to an election campaign and things will get heated in this chamber, but as elected officials, I know that it is within each of you, that you do have the ability to use temperate language, use language that is becoming of this place and use language that is going to set an example, whether it is to the young ladies who were visiting today or the hundreds of thousands of students who visit this chamber on an annual basis. I’d just ask all members on both sides of the House to be conscious of that.

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

The House recessed from 1155 to 1500.

MEMBERS’ STATEMENTS

BROCKVILLE AND AREA YMCA

Mr. Steve Clark: Last night, the Brockville and Area YMCA held its annual volunteer appreciation dinner. I’m sorry I wasn’t able to be there to give my personal thanks to those volunteers who are the broad shoulders this great organization is built upon.

Two special awards were handed out, and I want to take a moment to talk about Mohammad Khadra, the Spirit of the “Y” Youth Leadership Award recipient, and Sherry Connell, this year’s Dr. Stanley Brown Memorial “Y” Values Award winner.

Mohammad is a 15-year-old student at Brockville Collegiate Institute who has used his kind and compassionate energy to become a role model to elementary-aged school children at the Y. Since last year, he has been assisting with three programs, including giving up his time to help with the Saturday youth night event. Currently, you can find him at the Y on Wednesdays from 3 p.m. to 5 p.m., helping children get involved in sports, do their homework and pursue healthy lifestyle activities.

Sherry is certainly no stranger to Y members, as she volunteers at least four times per week. That’s an amazing level of commitment and dedication. The local Y has recently reached a milestone of 5,000 members and I’m told they couldn’t survive without Sherry volunteering all those hours every week on the membership services desk.

I’m so proud to add my congratulations to Mohammad Khadra and Sherry Connell on this special occasion. Their involvement in the YMCA has enriched the lives of thousands and set an example of active citizenship to which we all should aspire.

PUBLIC TRANSIT

Mr. Peter Tabuns: I am receiving emails from Torontonians all over the city about the recent agreement between Premier McGuinty and Mayor Ford to dismember the Transit City plan. As people write, “This new plan builds only half as much new transit as was promised in the original Metrolinx Transit City plan, but it costs more! Worse still, it leaves out the very communities and neighbourhoods the original plan was designed to help!”

Bad enough that Torontonians are being left to choke on auto exhaust, wait ages for a bus or sit in endless traffic jams, but the agreement is very unclear as to whether or not the plan must go before city council for debate before it proceeds.

Premier McGuinty must make it clear that this new plan will require a council debate.

ONTARIO CHIROPRACTIC ASSOCIATION

Mr. Dave Levac: It indeed is a pleasure to rise in the House to offer a warm welcome to the representatives from the Ontario Chiropractic Association who are with us in the Legislature today.

It might be of interest for you to know that the Ontario Chiropractic Association represents approximately 3,000 of the province’s practising chiropractors. As accomplished health professionals who deliver care to over 1.2 million patients in the province, chiropractors provide diagnosis, treatment and preventive care for disorders related to the spine, pelvis, nervous system and the joints. OCA members are committed to educating patients and the public about their health while empowering them to make informed decisions about treatment options and their overall wellness.

For the second year running, groups of chiropractors will be meeting today with MPPs and government officials to talk about the contributions made by the profession to the health care system and share their experiences from our various constituencies. Of course, it would not be Queen’s Park Day without the Ontario Chiropractic Association’s reception for all MPPs.

A number of the OCA’s members have travelled from ridings across Ontario to be here today to let us know how they are making a difference for patients living in our communities. I personally welcome Dr. Ivone De Marchi of the OCA, who represents Brantford.

I encourage each and every member of this House to attend the reception that the Ontario Chiropractic Association is hosting this evening here, in committee rooms 228 and 230 from 5 o’clock to 7 o’clock, so that we can all meet our representatives from our ridings. I hope we can all count on your attendance.

SMART METERS

Mr. Randy Hillier: For the past few months I’ve been asking questions and delivering statements on behalf of my constituents, calling on this Liberal government to end their expensive hydro experiments. I have told this government time and time again that their smart meter tax machines are doubling and tripling the hydro costs of my constituents, increases they simply cannot afford.

But today, the issue hits even closer to home for me. I just received this month’s hydro bill for my constituency office in Perth and couldn’t help but notice that since the smart meter was installed in my office, the usage has now doubled from the same time period last year.

While the McGuinty Liberals would prefer that parents have their children get ready for school before 7 a.m. and cook their dinners after 9 p.m., they can’t possibly expect the constituency offices of my fellow members to also follow such ridiculous hours of operation.

There is something wrong with the McGuinty government’s smart meter tax machines. Even without the time-of-use pricing, his new tax machine has doubled our constituency office hydro usage.

More than 8,000 people saw their usage triple last year, according to Ontario Hydro—8,000 people.

It’s up to the McGuinty Liberals to come clean and account for yet another one of their expensive hydro experiments.

Speaker, I did bring in my hydro bill, which I’ll bring over. I see the Minister of Energy is here—

The Speaker (Hon. Steve Peters): Thank you. The member from Scarborough Southwest.

PUBLIC TRANSIT

Mr. Lorenzo Berardinetti: I rise today to acknowledge our government’s commitment to building a modern transit system for the city of Toronto. On March 31 of this year, the Ontario government announced that it has committed $8.4 billion towards expanding Toronto’s subway and rapid transit lines.

Our new transit plan will have a profound impact in my riding of Scarborough Southwest. Scarborough’s aging rapid transit line will finally be replaced by a modern, new light-rail transit system. The Scarborough line will also connect to a new underground light-rail transit system along Eglinton Avenue, which will help to ease congestion and reduce pollution along one of Scarborough’s busiest streets.

The residents in my riding and all across the greater Toronto area are getting a better deal under the government’s new plan. The McGuinty government understands that building a stronger transit system will help reduce gridlock, improve air quality and build stronger communities. That’s why our government has funded important infrastructure projects on the TTC, which has increased bus services along some of Scarborough’s major routes. That’s why our government has worked closely with the mayor and the city of Toronto on a revised plan to improve public transit, and that’s why our government is committed to making the largest transit investment in a generation.

GASOLINE TAX

Mr. Ted Arnott: With every new tax fee and price increase, Ontario families know this: They have a provincial government that is, at best, totally indifferent to their economic hardship.

The latest example: Yesterday the Minister of Finance categorically rejected a cut to his government’s HST on gasoline. Canadian Press quotes the minister: “You see overnight swings in these prices much larger than the HST.” How insensitive. How callous. People who are struggling know that every saving, no matter how small, makes a difference in their household budget. Every little bit helps. This may be a revelation to certain ministers, with cars and drivers, who haven’t noticed that the price of gasoline has gone up.

The minister could have acknowledged that rising gas prices are causing real financial pain. The minister could have also offered some encouragement on rising gas prices. But he didn’t so much as indicate he wanted to find a solution. Instead, he just made excuses.

Here’s the worst part: The McGuinty Liberals continue to deny small and rural municipalities their fair share of gas tax revenues. Cities with transit systems receive a portion of the 14.7-cent-per-litre provincial gas tax. Small-town and rural Ontario municipalities without transit systems still have to maintain their roads, but this government leaves them out in the cold. Our caucus has long advocated that this discriminatory policy must change so that all municipalities, large and small, can provide the transportation infrastructure that they need. Again, I call upon the government to address this inequity.

LONDON EMPLOYMENT HELP CENTRE

Mr. Khalil Ramal: On Friday, April 1, Minister Bentley and I attended an open house at the London Employment Help Centre. I would like to take this opportunity to acknowledge the excellent work being done in my community by this outstanding organization.

The employment help centre is a community, not-for-profit, charitable organization that provides employment services at all stages of the job search process, free of charge, including career counselling, individualized job placement services and how-to workshops, as well as access to essential resources in today’s job-search market, including computers with Internet access and a voicemail service.

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The centre receives funding from the Ministry of Training, Colleges and Universities as well as from the United Way and various community donors. Community organizations like the London Employment Help Centre play a pivotal role in rebuilding the province’s economy, helping laid-off workers to find new jobs and helping to equip individuals with networking and job-search skills.

I want to congratulate the employment help centre for the excellent job they’re doing in my community of London, Ontario, and especially in London–Fanshawe, because they help a lot of laid-off workers to find jobs and support their families.

INTERNATIONAL DAY OF PINK

Mrs. Liz Sandals: I rise today to speak to International Day of Pink, which takes place tomorrow all around the world. This is an internationally recognized day to take a stand against bullying, discrimination and homophobia. I know all members in this House agree that there is no place for bullying in our schools, at work or in our communities.

Our government has taken a strong stance on bullying in Ontario’s schools and made it clear that bullying is never acceptable. That is why we passed our safe schools strategy, which creates serious consequences for violence in our schools but also recognizes the importance of prevention targeted at stopping bullying before it occurs.

To prevent bullying, we must address the root causes. To help combat homophobia in our schools, we have brought in the first-ever equity and inclusiveness strategy. It requires school boards to have policies in place to combat discrimination based on race, gender, age, disability or sexual orientation.

Speaker, and all members of the Legislature, please join me tomorrow in wearing pink to show our support for the fight against bullying, discrimination and homophobia. Together, we can build a more inclusive and supportive Ontario, and our government is committed to achieving this goal.

2011 ONTARIO BUDGET

Mr. Bill Mauro: Very soon, both opposition parties, Conservative and NDP, will have an opportunity to support both a budget motion and a budget bill. There are significant measures contained within our budget that I’m hoping they’ll find the capacity to support: first of all, the full implementation and funding of full-day kindergarten; 60,000 new college and university spaces, which are very significant, including spaces at Lakehead University and Confederation College in my riding.

Also significant, I would suggest, given the economic situation on the planet for the last couple of years: $44 million over three years for literacy and basic skills—hopefully, that will gather some attention from them as well; $93 million a year for a province-wide mental health and addictions strategy, a strategy that all members from all parties had a hand in formulating—I’m hoping they’ll find the capacity to support that; $15 million a year to expand Ontario’s breast screening program, a program that will provide 90,000 more screenings for women who are at risk of developing breast cancer due to their genetics or family history, that will see the age for eligibility reduced to 30—very significant; and, of course, a piece very fundamental and important to northern Ontario is an increase in the northern Ontario heritage fund from $90 million to $100 million, an additional $10 million in that budget. It was always at $60 million. We’ve gone from $60 million to $70 million, $70 million to $80 million, $80 million to $90 million and, this year, from $90 million to $100 million—very important in northern Ontario.

I’m hoping the opposition parties can support that.

REPORTS BY COMMITTEES

STANDING COMMITTEE ON GOVERNMENT AGENCIES

The Speaker (Hon. Steve Peters): I beg to inform the House that today the Clerk received a report on intended appointments dated April 12, 2011, from the Standing Committee on Government Agencies. Pursuant to standing order 108(f)(9), the report is deemed to be adopted by the House.

Report deemed adopted.

INTRODUCTION OF BILLS

FARADALE FARMS LTD. ACT, 2011

Mr. Martiniuk moved first reading of the following bill:

Bill Pr39, An Act to revive Faradale Farms Ltd.

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): Pursuant to standing order 86, this bill stands referred to the Standing Committee on Regulations and Private Bills.

STATEMENTS BY THE MINISTRY
AND RESPONSES

NATIONAL VOLUNTEER WEEK

Hon. Eric Hoskins: I’m pleased to rise in the Legislature today to recognize this week as National Volunteer Week. National Volunteer Week gives all of us the opportunity to say thank you to Ontario’s five million volunteers. It gives us an opportunity to celebrate the generosity of our volunteers and to honour their spirit of service.

Mr. Speaker, I know it is important to you that this year’s National Volunteer Week theme is “Volunteers: Passion. Action. Impact.” I can’t think of any more appropriate words to describe our hard-working volunteers. Our volunteers embody a passion for service. Their passion and commitment results in meaningful action. That action makes an impact, a positive impact that creates stronger and more vibrant communities right across Ontario.

Whether as advocates, coaches, mentors, fundraisers, board members or in countless other roles, volunteers get results. Quite simply, volunteers change the world, and they build our communities. Their enormous contributions help make Ontario the best place in the world in which to live.

Our generation has inherited a powerful and proud tradition of volunteerism, a tradition that we must preserve and pass on even stronger to the next generation. We recognize that volunteers are the heart of our community, and that’s why we support an active volunteer engagement and recognition program. We do so through Ontario’s annual Volunteer Service Awards. This year marks the 25th anniversary of the Volunteer Service Awards, which recognize the outstanding contributions of exceptional Ontario volunteers. Since its inception, more than 150,000 Ontarians have proudly received the honour of the Volunteer Service Award. In 2011 alone, we have 48 ceremonies in 35 communities that will recognize another 10,000 devoted and deserving volunteers.

During National Volunteer Week, we will also present the June Callwood Outstanding Achievement Award for Voluntarism. This award recognizes individuals, businesses and other organizations for their outstanding volunteer contribution.

To encourage and engage the next generation of volunteers, this week we will award the Ontario Medal for Young Volunteers to youth who have performed outstanding community service. Yesterday, the Minister of Education and I launched the fourth annual ChangeTheWorld Ontario Youth Volunteer Challenge in Belleville. The youth volunteer challenge has captured the imaginations of our young people. Last year, more than 11,000 of them took action and volunteered more than 42,000 hours.

Ontario must continue to support our strong tradition of volunteerism and to find new ways to work together with the not-for-profit sector. That’s why, last month, our government announced Ontario’s strategy to create a stronger partnership with the not-for-profit sector, and to help guide this strategy we are creating a 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 and streamline and modernize the government’s relationship with community organizations and to provide better coordination.

Volunteerism and service help define our province and our people. It is this spirit that brings out the best in all of us, in our communities and in Ontario. I urge the members of the Legislature to recognize their community volunteers this week and during the Volunteer Service Awards ceremonies taking place in the coming weeks. Please join me in applauding the dedicated volunteers of all ages and all backgrounds who make an immeasurable difference to the lives of each and every one of us each and every day.

The Speaker (Hon. Steve Peters): Responses?

Mr. Steve Clark: It’s an honour to stand on behalf of the Ontario PC caucus and our leader, Tim Hudak, again this week to talk about the importance of recognizing in this announcement National Volunteer Week from April 10 to 16.

I know that I join with the minister in paying tribute to the more than five million Ontarians who give something back to our province by volunteering every year. Whether people are coaching our children in minor sports, being a companion for our seniors or helping at the hospital auxiliary, they do it quietly and for a compensation that’s not defined by dollars and cents but by the invaluable feeling we get when we help in extending our hand to others. These dedicated citizens put their own busy lives on hold and contribute 800 million volunteer hours annually.

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Imagine how much of what we love about living in our communities across Ontario would disappear if not for our legion of selfless volunteers. All across the province this week, organizations are holding special volunteer appreciation ceremonies to give their hard-working helpers a moment of well-deserved glory.

Earlier today, I was privileged to talk about two of those volunteers, Mohammad Khadra and Sherry Connell, who were the special award recipients at last evening’s Brockville and Area YMCA volunteer awards gala.

Like every member of the Legislative Assembly, I’m looking forward to attending the annual Volunteer Service Award ceremonies later this year. As the minister stated, it’s the 25th anniversary of that event. The volunteers who will be recognized at these ceremonies come from all walks of life and are all ages. But I think it’s important to focus on youth volunteers, especially as the minister has issued the 2011 ChangeTheWorld Ontario Youth Volunteer Challenge. As the minister said, it’s a three-week initiative which aims at getting teens more involved in volunteering.

Of course, we should remember that it was the PC government in 1999 that had the foresight to issue the mandatory 40-hour volunteer credit for Ontario high school students. I’m proud that our party recognized then, as we do now, that instilling the spirit of volunteerism in our youth today is essential to create a generation of active and engaged citizens tomorrow. It’s worth noting that the legacy of this program is that the volunteer rate among youth ages 15 to 24 in Ontario is now a remarkable 63%. As the minister quoted, over 11,000 youth volunteered 42,000 hours of their lives in 281 not-for-profit agencies.

In that spirit, I want to mention some of my local events because the minister encouraged us to be involved in our local communities. The Volunteer Bureau of Leeds and Grenville, in my riding, has taken up the minister’s youth volunteer challenge. On April 20, 180 students will converge on the Mac Johnson Wildlife Area, a local conservation area that’s a popular place for people to connect with the outdoors year-round. These students will spend the day giving the area a spring cleaning, learning from having hands-on lessons about the value of protecting our natural resources as they work side by side with a group of volunteers, the Friends of Mac Johnson. They will work in groups with a biologist to talk about the role of science and the environment and what they play in our lives. I’m confident that this experience will inspire many of the participating students to explore new ways that they can make a difference, whether it be preserving a cherished nature reserve or helping a not-for-profit organization.

This weekend I’m also participating in my community’s 10th anniversary edition of the local mayor’s walk, which raises funds for the Volunteer Bureau of Leeds and Grenville. Under the very capable direction of Frank Rockett, our volunteer bureau helps connect 15,000 volunteers with more than 50 agencies in 38 communities in my riding. I’ll be at this weekend’s walk doing something—many of us in Ontario will make that special opportunity to say thank you to the millions of volunteers who play an important role in making our—

Interjection.

Mr. Steve Clark: I am walking, Minister—to make a better place for our communities.

Ms. Cheri DiNovo: It’s an honour to rise on behalf of the New Democratic Party and our leader, Andrea Horwath, and to speak about National Volunteer Week. Certainly, you’ve heard the numbers from my esteemed colleagues: five million in Ontario, some 800 million volunteer hours that are spent. Certainly, 95%, we know, of all Canadians volunteer at least part of their time.

It’s an interesting fact that I don’t think has been mentioned that the idea of Volunteer Week was first started in 1943. It was started to draw the public’s attention to the contribution of women. So, it had a gendered beginning of women during the Second World War, because we remember that women took over many of the roles that were performed by men in their families during that effort. Certainly, in our own community, in Parkdale–High Park, every June I host a dinner where we recognize the 12 top social activists and volunteers in our riding and also five new businesses that have weathered the storm and managed to start something in difficult times. We certainly pay homage to all of them.

I want to use a few minutes of my time, however, to focus on one primarily volunteer-driven organization, and that’s victims’ services. It’s not far from here. I suggest to every member that they drop in. It is just around on 40 College Street, housed in the police services building there. And sadly enough, when I heard the announcement from the Attorney General of the hundreds of thousands that are supposedly going to the victims of crime, I thought for a minute, “Oh, wonderful. Finally victims’ services will have their day, finally they’ll get some relief,” because they haven’t had any money from this government for a long, long time.

Now, to understand victims’ services, here’s what you need to know: First of all, 150 volunteers work out of there. They contribute 20,000 hours of volunteer work, and what do they do? They are the first respondents to victims of crime. That’s who they are. So I’m appealing to the Minister of Citizenship and Immigration and to the government House leader and any other members of cabinet who sit around the table to please make sure some of that money goes to them. Here is why: Many of the victims of crime don’t ever see their day in court. We know this. And the money that the Attorney General announced is going just to court support services. Here we have volunteers who go out with a staff person in the police car, responding to the moment of crime, to the victims of crime on the scene, and they haven’t seen a dime. I immediately emailed them when I heard the announcement—Bonnie Levine is their executive director, a hard-working woman—and I said, “Did you get some of this money, Bonnie?” She said, “Not a dime.”

So, please, I am really pleading with you for them, because without them, victims would not see anybody at the scene of the crime, and we know that many victims of crime, unfortunately, particularly of homicide, never get their day in court. They never are involved in court at all, fortunately or unfortunately, as the case may be.

The other thing we should know about victims’ services is that the major crimes they are called to are situations of domestic violence against women, so there’s another gendered aspect that I would like to highlight here. Having just had the Girls in Government here, with their wonderful teachers who took time away from their busy schedules to get them active and involved in the political process and to meet ministers here and in Ottawa, again, we know how important the contribution of volunteers is, particularly women volunteers, because, let’s face it, that’s the bulk of volunteers as well. It has a gendered face.

So I appeal to all those across the aisle, on behalf of Bonnie Levine and victims’ services: Please step up. It has come to a point with victims’ services where they’re simply not going to be able to respond unless they get more money from this government. They’re simply not going to be able to do what they do, volunteers or no volunteers, unless out of some moment of insight the Attorney General changes the rationale for how this money is being delivered and gives some to victims’ services—the obvious recipient, first of all, of any volunteer award, but second of all, any money that goes to victims and their needs.

Please take that to heart, and again, here’s to all the volunteers who work in all the agencies across Ontario. The best to all of them. Thank you so much. You in fact are keeping this province running.

PETITIONS

HYDRO RATES

Mr. Steve Clark: “Whereas the McGuinty government is pushing ahead with the installation of so-called smart meters and mandatory time-of-use billing by June 2011 despite the flaws with the program; and

“Whereas 21 energy distributors, including provincially owned Hydro One, said that the rush to make time of use mandatory by June 2011 doesn’t give them time to fix all the problems with the meters, fix bugs with the software to run them, and to fix the inaccurately high bills they produce as a result; and

“Whereas the Ontario Energy Board, in a letter of August 4, admitted that energy distributors ‘may encounter extraordinary and unanticipated circumstances during the implementation’ of time of use, and said that ‘these matters need to be addressed’;

“Whereas relying on computer technology that the energy industry says is not ready, isn’t reliable and is making families pay too much on their hydro bills;

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

“To call upon the McGuinty government to suspend the smart meter time-of-use program until billing problems are fixed and Ontario families are given the option of whether to participate in the time-of-use program.”

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SERVICES FOR THE DEVELOPMENTALLY DISABLED

Mr. Khalil Ramal: I’d like to read a petition on behalf of my constituents Zofia and Henryk Nieradko.

“To the Legislative Assembly of Ontario:

“Whereas there are over 7,000 people with disabilities waiting for the Ontario Ministry of Community and Social Services’ special services at home (SSAH) funding and almost 4,000 on wait-lists for Passport funding; and

“Whereas such programs are vital and essential to supporting Ontarians with developmental disabilities, and their families, to participate in community life;

“ARCH Disability Law Centre, supported by Family Alliance Ontario, People First of Ontario, Community Living Ontario, Special Services at Home Provincial Coalition, Individualized Funding Coalition for Ontario and the undersigned individuals and organizations, urge the Ontario government to take quick action to substantially improve developmental services.

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

“—Ensure that all qualified Passport and SSAH applicants immediately receive adequate funding;

“—Make the application and funding allocation processes transparent; and

“—Ensure that sufficient long-term funding is in place so that eligible Ontarians with disabilities can access the supports and services they need.”

I agree with the petition, affix my signature to it and give it to page Christopher.

GOVERNMENT’S RECORD

Mr. Toby Barrett: This is a petition to the Parliament of Ontario.

“Whereas Ontario families are struggling in an economic downturn to meet the demands of eco taxes, the HST, energy price hikes, wasteful spending and increased taxes;

“We, the undersigned, petition the Parliament of Ontario as follows:

“Initiate the process for legislation to allow Ontario residents to recall Dalton.”

I affix my signature and apologize for the wording at the end of this petition.

MULTIPLE SCLEROSIS TREATMENT

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

“Whereas thousands of people suffer from multiple sclerosis;

“Whereas there is a treatment for chronic cerebrospinal venous insufficiency, more commonly called CCSVI, which consists of a corrective angioplasty, a well-known and universally practised procedure that is low-risk and at relatively low expense;

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

“That the Minister of Health agrees to proceed with clinical trials of the venoplasty treatment to fully explore its potential to bring relief to the thousands of Ontarians afflicted with multiple sclerosis.”

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

POST-SECONDARY EDUCATION

Mr. Toby Barrett: This petition is addressed to the Legislative Assembly of Ontario.

“Whereas Ontario families are struggling to help put their kids through university;

“Whereas students in Ontario graduate with an average $26,000 in debt and have the highest tuition and largest class sizes in the country; and

“Whereas Ontario tax dollars should be kept in Ontario to help Ontario students, not sent overseas;

“We, the undersigned, therefore petition the Legislative Assembly to call on the McGuinty government to cancel its plan to give foreign students scholarships of $40,000 a year and reinvest these funds in scholarships for Ontario students.”

I sign this petition.

ASSISTANCE TO FARMERS

Mr. Steve Clark: I have a petition to the Legislative Assembly of Ontario, and I want to thank the Food For All Food Bank in Prescott for providing it to me.

“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 agree with the petition, will affix my signature and send it to the table with page Leighton.

MULTIPLE SCLEROSIS TREATMENT

Mr. Steve Clark: I have a petition to the Legislative Assembly of Ontario, and I want to thank Amy Preston for providing it to me. It reads:

“To the Legislative Assembly of Ontario:

“Whereas thousands of people suffer from multiple sclerosis;

“Whereas there is a treatment for chronic cerebrospinal venous insufficiency, more commonly called CCSVI, which consists of a corrective angioplasty, a well-known and universally practised procedure that is low-risk and at relatively low expense;

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

“That the Minister of Health agrees to proceed with clinical trials of the venoplasty treatment to fully explore its potential to bring relief to the thousands of Ontarians afflicted with multiple sclerosis.”

I agree with the petition, will affix my signature and send it to the table with page Riley.

ORDERS OF THE DAY

TIME ALLOCATION

Hon. Monique M. Smith: I move that, pursuant to standing order 47 and notwithstanding any other standing order or special order of the House relating to Bill 173, An Act respecting 2011 Budget measures, interim appropriations and other matters, when Bill 173 is next called as a government order, the Speaker shall put every question necessary to dispose of the second reading stage of the bill without further debate or amendment and at such time the bill shall be ordered referred to the Standing Committee on Finance and Economic Affairs; and

That the vote on second reading may be deferred pursuant to standing order 28(h); and

That the Standing Committee on Finance and Economic Affairs be authorized to meet on Thursday, April 21, 2011, during its regular meeting time for public hearings, and be authorized to meet on Thursday, May 5, 2011, during its regular meeting time, for the purpose of clause-by-clause consideration of the bill; and

That the deadline for filing amendments to the bill with the clerk of the committee shall be 5 p.m. on Thursday, April 28, 2011. At 5 p.m. on Thursday, May 5, 2011, those amendments which have not been moved shall be deemed to have been moved and the Chair of the committee shall interrupt the proceedings and shall, without further debate or amendment, put every question necessary to dispose of all remaining sections of the bill and any amendments thereto. The committee shall be authorized to meet beyond the normal hour of adjournment for clause-by-clause consideration on Thursday, May 5, 2011. Any division required shall be deferred until all remaining questions have been put and taken in succession, with one 20-minute waiting period allowed, pursuant to standing order 129(a); and

That the committee shall report the bill to the House no later than Monday, May 9, 2011. In the event that the committee fails to report the bill on that day, the bill shall be deemed to be passed by the committee and shall be deemed to be reported to and received by the House; and

That upon receiving the report of the Standing Committee on Finance and Economic Affairs, the Speaker shall put the question for adoption of the report forthwith and at such time, the bill shall be ordered for third reading, which order may be called that same day; and

That when the order for third reading of the bill is called, one hour shall be allotted to the third reading stage of the bill, apportioned equally among the recognized parties. At the end of this time, the Speaker shall interrupt the proceedings and shall put every question necessary to dispose of this stage of the bill without further debate or amendment; and

That the vote on third reading may be deferred pursuant to standing order 28(h); and

That in the case of any division relating to any proceedings on the bill, the division bells shall be limited to five minutes.

The Speaker (Hon. Steve Peters): Ms. Smith has moved government notice of motion number 56.

Further debate?

Mr. Toby Barrett: As we in this Ontario Legislature have debated this latest have-not budget, it has become clear that this have-not province’s Premier really has no intention of halting the high spending, the high taxing and the high deficitting—if that’s a word—that sees all of us paying for bigger government and smaller results.

It’s also clear that it will take a real change of direction, concrete action, to dig out of this hole. While I realize that government forces are waiting in the wings to cut off debate on this spending plan, I appreciate the fact that it has given me and my colleagues in the opposition an opportunity to make it clear that there’s a better way.

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You can time-allocate all you want, but it won’t stop us from opposing the budget and the various measures, and presenting our plans to give families relief and to reallocate taxpayer dollars to services that people care about and services people need—front-line health care, for example.

We brought forward a number of ideas to redirect this government’s course from its poorly-thought-out experiments and wasteful spending. To start, time allocation or not, we’ve proposed pulling the plug on the mandatory smart meter tax machine to give families a choice on their electricity bills. As well, opposition leader Hudak continues to call for a forensic audit on the debt retirement charge on our electricity bills, a debt that should have been paid off by now. Families have already paid $7.8 billion on this $7.8-billion debt.

Part of our goal is to end wasteful spending. We need to cut wasteful spending, and this debate allows us to expand on some of our plans to close the doors on the regional health bureaucracies, the LHINs—again, put every penny back into front-line health care.

Last week, opposition leader Tim Hudak introduced and debated legislation to initiate a sunset review process through an all-party committee of all the 600-plus agencies, boards and commissions to root out wasteful spending. Government has become too big, too expensive, too clumsy, and part of that is exemplified through a number of these agencies that may well have their due date coming up.

I should move on with respect to time. I’m just getting started here.

In recent months, we’ve also made clear our plans to deal with a series of concerns that are siphoning off and wasting tax dollars. We will provide clear and tight time frames that will ensure public sector agreements reflect the ability of families to pay, by bringing in more transparency, bringing in more accountability to the arbitration system.

We’ll take on the unfair distribution of gasoline taxes, building on some of my attempts to establish a mechanism to ensure rural municipalities receive the full benefit of gas tax transit initiatives.

In rural Ontario and northern Ontario, roads and bridges are our form of public transit. We pay the taxes at the pump. We get nothing in return if our municipalities do not fund public transit. Again, the price of gas goes higher, as we all know, and to be standing there pumping gas, to read the list of provincial road taxes, let alone the HST—and to realize that none of those taxes are coming back to a riding like mine, Haldimand–Norfolk. In this House, I’ve presented petitions from the Dunnville area—well over a thousand signatures to investigate the establishment of connecting public transit links between Haldimand county and Norfolk county and to ensure rural municipalities receive the full benefit of the gas tax transit initiative. Again, there’s no initiative from this government.

We remain the only provincial party to pledge the return of municipal decision-making power on wind towers. We will also eliminate the practice of paying out inappropriately expensive subsidies under the Green Energy Act, the FIT program. Again, since the passage of this government’s flawed Green Energy Act, we’ve watched in my area, indeed right across Ontario, as wind towers pit neighbour against neighbour. There’s little doubt in my mind that we do need municipal oversight, oversight that has been ripped away from our municipally elected representatives by this draconian attempt to usurp power and implement a “green at all costs” agenda, again through the Liberals’ Green Energy Act. We’ve made very clear our demand for a moratorium on wind power until we see the return of this municipal decision-making. I have about 200 wind towers coming just to the southern part of Haldimand county.

This government does not want to hear some of the issues that were raised as recently as last week, sticky situations—former deputy health minister Ron Sapsford receiving $762,000. This was the year after he quit during the eHealth scandal. We will end the practice of paying outrageous severances to public servants.

Interjections.

Mr. Toby Barrett: The members opposite obviously don’t want me to talk about some of these things and issues that were omitted from their budget plan. We summarized much of this in what was referred to as the “10 for 2010” campaign. Again, in the budget there’s no mention of plans for a one-year payroll tax holiday for all new hires, for example, a program that would help young workers; a one-year suspension of the land transfer tax to help families achieve the dream of homeownership; an end to corporate welfare and the practice of picking winners and losers in the marketplace. We will bring in a cap on government spending—all part of an overreaching plan to end the out-of-control, wasteful spending exemplified in this, Ontario’s recent have-not budget.

Before I wrap up here, I feel it’s important to note that in this budget, in my riding, our tobacco economy has been deep-sixed, replaced by illegal tobacco that has bankrupted not only farms but businesses, companies, corner stores. The scrapping of a state-of-the-art coal generation facility—600 people used to work there. How can we run a steel mill down at US Steel? You can’t do it on windmills and solar, certainly not at 80.2 cents.

The treatment of commercial fishermen, cattlemen, hog farmers, cash crop, fruit and vegetable seems to be merely an afterthought rather than—usually, just before an election is looming, there is a bone thrown out to some of these groups.

Most importantly, five years ago this government ran away from two girls who were protesting in a Caledonia subdivision, which was allowed to explode into the most expensive, largest, longest-lasting occupation in the history of Ontario, bringing Caledonia, Haldimand county, Brant and Brantford to their knees.

Thanks, Premier Pinocchio, for promising in your first election—

The Acting Speaker (Mrs. Julia Munro): I ask the member to withdraw that.

Mr. Toby Barrett: I withdraw—promising in your first election no new taxes, then bringing in the largest income tax increase in the history of Ontario. Thanks, in the last election, for promising no new taxes and then bringing in the largest sales tax increase in the history of Ontario.

I predict that to try to win this coming election, Dalton McGuinty will promise no new taxes and then go to work at becoming what I would consider a three-peat liar, a bald-faced liar.

The Acting Speaker (Mrs. Julia Munro): I ask you to withdraw.

Mr. Toby Barrett: I will not withdraw, and I will address my comments to the Speaker. I will not withdraw. These are billion-dollar decisions.

The Acting Speaker (Mrs. Julia Munro): I’m sorry. I’m asking you to withdraw the comment.

Mr. Toby Barrett: I will not withdraw.

The Acting Speaker (Mrs. Julia Munro): I name you then, Toby Barrett.

Mr. Barrett was escorted from the chamber.

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Interjections.

The Acting Speaker (Mrs. Julia Munro): Order.

Further debate?

Mme France Gélinas: Well, here we are again: faced with a time allocation motion on something that I consider quite important, the budget for the province of Ontario. It’s not like it’s a thin document. We’re talking about over 300 pages of information, none of it in bold or anything like that, a big font. Certainly, something that is worth a little bit of debate. It is worth debate because when you look at it, you realize that there is lots that has been slid into the budget bill that tends to, how could I say, irritate me to the utmost.

One such thing that has been slid in there is this tiny, weenie little motion that had been defeated when we were talking about Bill 122, the Broader Public Sector Accountability Act.

Let me bring you back to November 2010; November 29, 2010, to be precise. After years of requests, people finally gained access to freedom of information for our hospitals. Hospitals are huge in Ontario; we’re talking $22 billion from our taxes, from the government, going to support our hospitals, yet hospitals had no transparency. If somebody had an event that they were not happy with, they had gone through the process within the hospital but they still hadn’t gotten closure and they still hadn’t gotten the information they wanted, that was it. With hospitals, you could not go to the Ombudsman if you had a complaint against your hospital and you could not have access to information because you could not file a freedom of access of information for your hospital.

Finally we have the Broader Public Sector Accountability Act, and finally hospitals—starting in 2012—are going to be FOI-able. You’re going to have access, through freedom of information, to information that you’ve never had access to before, information that a lot of families—basically, if they could have had that information, they could have had closure, they could have moved on. But no, we have a lot of people out there who have been going through tough times because they didn’t. So things look pretty good.

Then we go—I’m back on November 29, 2010. We’re going through clause-by-clause and here’s this tiny little motion that says we will give freedom of access of information, but a hospital won’t have to comply if it has to do with quality improvement. On one hand, everybody agrees; myself to start. We all support quality improvement in our hospitals. I mean, this is how we improve things, and we’re all in favour of this. The problem is that we had waited for a long time to get freedom of access of information for our hospitals. Finally we were getting it, but at the last minute came this little clause that says, “but a hospital won’t have to comply if it has to do with quality improvement.” So when this came in clause-by-clause, I voted that down.

I do want hospitals to have the opportunity to talk about quality improvement, but in a very narrow way, because if you think of all of the teaching hospitals in this province, their motto is, “Continuing quality improvement.” Everything they do in teaching hospitals has to do with improving quality so that they can be at the forefront of best practices and share those best practices with all of the other 157 hospitals in this province.

So what does that mean? That means that if everything you do is part of your continuous quality improvement, then if we had passed this motion, nothing that they did would have been accessible to freedom of access of information. All you had to do was say, “It’s part of our continuing quality improvement discussion. Therefore, we’re not going to share that with you.” All of this hard work that people had fought for and all of the government’s talk about wanting to make the public sector more accountable was all for nothing, because you were giving the hospitals a reason to refuse to share any information whatsoever on the basis of continuous quality improvement.

I had voted this down, and we thought life was going to go on. Yet, you go to page 281 in this lovely little 300-page book, and here’s this same motion that had been voted down, the same motion that the Registered Nurses’ Association of Ontario didn’t want in there and ImPatient for Change didn’t want in there and a whole bunch of other health care agencies didn’t want in there. They slipped it into the budget bill. I have no idea why they did this.

At the end of the day, this is why we need time for debate. When the government brings forward a time allocation motion, what that means is there will be very little time for us politicians to speak about the bill. It will also mean that when it comes to the people of Ontario having an opportunity to have their voice heard—and believe you me, there are already 100 people who want to speak about those two lines on page 281 of the budget. What about the other 300 pages of that budget? People have something to say. But, no, this House is about to pass a time allocation motion that will mean the MPPs, who are there to represent their constituents, won’t have much time to talk about it. That will also mean that everybody else who found something that they wanted to encourage the government about, congratulate the government about or bring a sober second thought from the government on—none of them will have an opportunity to be heard.

ImPatient for Change is a group of citizens in Ontario who have unresolved issues. They are people who have had experience with our hospital system, who went through the hospital system, came out of it and, either for themselves or their loved ones, have questions unanswered. They have run into issues for which they have exhausted the policies of the individual hospitals, and they were looking forward to being able to file freedom of access of information. But if the budget bill goes on as written—and it will, because we have a majority government, and they’ll vote in favour, and that will be the end of that—then all those people who have fought for such a long time, those hundreds of Ontarians who need closure because of an event that happened in one of our public hospitals here in Ontario, won’t have access to information, their need for closure won’t be answered and they will continue to wonder.

I would say the basis of them being able to turn the page, to have closure, is access to information and transparency. There’s often nothing to hide, but when you don’t have access, you don’t know this. So you continue to worry, you continue to wonder, and you don’t have closure in your life.

Life-and-death events take place in hospitals every day. People are born, people die, and life-changing events take place in every one of our hospitals on a daily basis. It’s no wonder that conflicts sometimes arise. It’s no wonder that sometimes people want more information about what went on. But hospitals will be off limits. All they will have to do is say, “This is part of our continuous quality improvement.”

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I had asked, how about if we say that whenever we have a discussion about quality improvement, we label it as such? So if there is a written document about it, all you have to do is say upfront, “This is about quality improvement.” If you want to bare your soul and say, “I could have done better,” and you want truly open discussion, I understand that fully. Put it under the label of quality improvement, and this paragraph won’t be FOIable, but the rest of the information will be. They refuse to do this.

If we were to put a limit as to how continuous quality improvement can be interpreted in freedom of access to information, we would all feel a whole lot better. But we won’t have an opportunity to bring those changes forward. The hundreds of people who have pushed for this legislation to come forward won’t have an opportunity to come forward either, because the government is putting forward a time allocation motion, which will limit debate and will make sure that the good people of Ontario never have a chance to be heard.

The budget has some good in it. I have no problem giving credit where credit is due. I spent 18 months—and I see some of my colleagues are in the House right now—on the Select Committee on Mental Health and Addictions. When I saw an investment in mental health in the budget, I was thrilled. I was happy. I have no problem congratulating the government for including this in their budget. I know that times are tight, but they recognized that that was a situation that needed to be addressed.

In the health care field, we often say that mental health is the poor cousin of physical health, and within mental health, children’s mental health is the poor cousin of a poor cousin. Not much has been invested in children’s mental health, and it is about to change. This is in the budget. So this is certainly something I would support wholeheartedly. I congratulate them, and I can’t wait to see how this will be rolled out.

In the Select Committee on Mental Health and Addictions report, we have some broad strokes as to the path that we would like those dollars to follow and how to make sure that we get the biggest bang for our buck when it comes to improving the mental health and addiction issues of youth in Ontario. We’ve made some recommendations that are system-wide, with the creation of Mental Health and Addictions Ontario.

So are there some good things in the budget? Absolutely. This is a good one, and I would like it to move forward.

But there’s also some bad stuff in there. The problem is that you are not willing to have a discussion where we could vote on those issues separately, so that I could show my support for part of what’s in the budget but we could also allow the people of Ontario a voice when it comes to items in the budget.

Frankly, I have no idea why a motion that changes the Broader Public Sector Accountability Act, Bill 122—how come it found its way in there? What does that have to do with the budget anyway? It has nothing to do with the budget, but they slipped it in there—I guess to make sure that I would vote no. I’m not too sure. A budget is supposed to talk in broad strokes about money: “Here’s the money that we bring in, here’s the money that will be spent, and here are the programs it will go to.” Why is it that we find things like this in the budget that irk me to the zillionth level?

There are other little pieces of the budget that also kind of irk me. The budget speech, on page 6, says:

“Ontarians worked together to help their neighbours with jobs in the auto industry.

“Together, we made emergency assistance of $4.8 billion available to General Motors and Chrysler to protect the hundreds of thousands of jobs in a key driver of Ontario’s economy.” Ain’t that grand?

I come from northern Ontario. I represent the people of northern Ontario. I look at what’s happening in the forestry industry, and I’m hoping, as I go through the pages, that I will see Ontarians working together to help their neighbours with jobs in the forestry industry—that we all put our shoulders to the wheels, band together and help the forestry industry. But do you know what? It is nowhere to be found.

We don’t talk about the forestry industry. We don’t talk about the difference it would have made if we had treated forestry jobs the same way that we treated auto industry jobs, but it is nowhere to be found. You won’t even find the word “forestry” in there. Yet if we were to apply the same principles that were applied to the auto industry, we could see a completely different picture being painted in northeastern Ontario and certainly in the areas that I represent.

Other things that are sadly missing are anything referring to a poverty strategy. When the campaign was going on in 2007, one of the big promises was to bring forward a poverty strategy. We had a minister who travelled—she’s now the Minister of Health, but at the time she was in charge of the poverty strategy. She went all over the province. They listened. They were supposed to lay out the plan. It rolled out a little wee bit.

We are still in the same mandate. Ontario is now the child poverty capital of this great country of ours, and poverty is nowhere to be found. Where are the investments so that we can see finally that we are taking poverty seriously and we have a strategy that will help? Where is the investment in child care in this budget? The minister who was responsible and who listened knows the direct link between access to public child care and poverty.

Where is the investment in supportive housing, in public housing? There’s not one new unit; there’s not one iota of money for renovation. There is so much missing that we thought would find its way. You cannot talk about being serious about a poverty reduction strategy without talking about housing.

Coming back to the example of mental health, most mental health strategies are based on housing first. If you don’t know where you’re going to sleep tonight—like Maslow’s hierarchy of needs. Food and shelter are the primary needs of every human being. If you don’t know where you’re going to sleep tonight, if you are homeless, there is no way we can start to do any kind of work with your mental health problems or your addiction issues. The first thing you need is housing. So housing should be at the centre of a poverty reduction strategy, yet we have this Bill 173, an act representing budget measures, and you don’t see anything in this bill.

Here we have a time allocation motion that has been placed ahead of us. We won’t be able to put on the record a lot of shortcomings, as well as other little tidbits that have been inserted into this budget bill that frankly don’t belong there but are there nevertheless and that I could never support. So the people who want to be heard won’t have an opportunity, and certainly the people in this House won’t have an opportunity. We’re talking about 300 pages—and that’s the English side; the French side is even longer and better.

I see that time is running on the clock, and given that it is a time allocation motion, I will have to stop here. There is way more about that budget that people need to know. They need to know that way more of those tidbits that don’t belong in a budget whatsoever have been inserted in this bill and will be voted on whether we support them or not. It doesn’t matter if there are some good things in there; they’ve also inserted a whole bunch of other information that I could never support.

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I’m also time allocated to a maximum of 40 minutes, which I’m sharing with my colleague from Welland. I thank you for your time.

The Acting Speaker (Mrs. Julia Munro): Further debate?

Mr. Bill Mauro: I’ll be sharing my time with the other members as well. I think I have about 10 minutes here today. I thank you for the opportunity.

I’m going to begin just by saying that the member from Nickel Belt just concluded her remarks and made the comment that you can look through the budget book—this book here—and there’s no mention of forestry in the book. I’d refer her to pages 34 to 37. She will see mention of forestry in the book, and she’ll also find in there other programs of interest to the people of northern Ontario.

But anyway, what I wanted to talk about today is the budget. Of course, people who follow this on television will be aware and will know that we introduced our budget one or two weeks ago. Contained within the budget are some significant items of interest, especially, to me, the $10 million of increase to the northern Ontario heritage fund, taking it from $60 million up to $100 million over the last four years: a major, significant investment in northern Ontario. Other programs like the breast screening program, making the age of eligibility now 30 for people at risk, and on it goes—some very significant pieces. But the deficit also became part of the discussion by many members when we began talking about the budget. I’d like to spend a little bit of time talking about that.

I think the book—I don’t have the number exactly, but I think it’s projected to be $16.7 billion. I think we’re about $3 billion lower than we were expected to be in the province of Ontario—$16.7 billion.

As many people will know, we’ve just gone through the greatest recession, as it has been described by almost everyone, since the Great Depression. Some 30 million to 40 million jobs were lost worldwide during this economic cataclysm. Of course, Ontario and my neck of the woods, northern Ontario, did not miss being sideswiped by this tsunami of bad news, and on and on it went—30 million to 40 million jobs. We took an approach, during this economic crisis, that led obviously to a significant portion of this debt and in-year deficits being accumulated.

What I want to talk about a little bit before I go into the main body of my remarks, though, is how it’s always been remarkable to me how at the federal level, as we speak about debt and deficits here in the province of Ontario over the last year or so—that when we talk about the federal government relative to the provincial government, it always seems to be portrayed that Mr. Harper and the federal Conservative government do a very good job of managing the economy, that they’re good stewards of the tax dollar, that they’ve managed to shepherd us through this economic crisis. When the opposition members have an opportunity to talk about the province, of course, they don’t quite portray it that we’ve done as good a job here in the province of Ontario. But the numbers tell us a different story, don’t they?

Interjections.

Mr. Bill Mauro: My friends, I have them engaged across the aisle. I’m happy to see them smiling and engaged.

The in-year deficit in—I forget the year; I think it was 2010. The federal government’s in-year deficit, I believe, in 2010—I could have the year wrong—exceeded $60 billion. One year—Mr. Harper and the federal Conservatives. Our in-year high water mark was $19.7 billion, so less than a third.

Ontario represents 40%, give or take, of the nation’s economy. Yet their in-year deficit, federally, was three times, give or take, greater than the deficit that we accumulated here in the province of Ontario year to year, when you compare year to year. I just want to put that on the record, speaking to the people in northern Ontario who are interested in this issue of deficit and total debt and reduction.

It’s important to know that at the federal level, where people seem to think they’re doing this wonderful job—they’re saying that the economy is coming back. If you watch their ads on television right now, they’re saying the economy is coming back. Well, guess what? If that’s true, it’s not coming back unless Ontario’s coming back, so something good is going on in Ontario as well. Some 91% of all the jobs lost in the recession are now back, and 84% of those are full-time jobs. So if the federal government’s doing a good job of managing this economy and bringing us back—I’m speaking to the people in northern Ontario—then something good’s going on in Ontario as well. I just want to make that comparison. I think it’s important to put it on the table.

When we talk about deficit and debt reduction, though, I think the other part of it that we would hope the opposition members would speak to, when they speak on the issue of deficit and debt, is what it is they would not do; what are the projects they would not expense or spend on? Because of course the contradictions are apparent every day you come into this place. If people who are following this debate on television today, back in my riding of Thunder Bay–Atikokan, are watching and following this, they’ll notice the contradiction on a very daily basis. On the one hand, they’ll criticize for what those numbers will be, but oftentimes their questions in question period or their comments during debates are asking us why we haven’t spent more on a particular project.

At some point, the opposition needs to tell the people of the province of Ontario, as we get ready to enter an election, what it is they’re not going to spend. Where are the reductions that they’re going to make? Is it health care? Is it education? Is it infrastructure? We know their history when it comes to those three things. In fact, in the previous term of government of the Conservatives, 1995 to 2003, that was one of the major ways that they funded their tax cuts: by not increasing funding to infrastructure and by making reductions in other areas. So at some point we will see a plan from them, and hopefully that plan will outline exactly what it is that they’re not going to spend money on so that the people of Ontario can know that.

In my riding of Thunder Bay–Atikokan, some of the projects that we’ve made a commitment to go forward on that have all of this spending, which contributes to our deficit and our debt—including in my smaller communities, like Oliver Paipoonge, Neebing, Atikokan, O’Connor, Conmee and Gillies, and the list goes on—have all received money through infrastructure and a variety of other programs. In the city of Thunder Bay, the gas tax, for example: $6 million to $7 million, minimizing the impact on the municipal tax base through that one program. That’s $7 million over seven years. I think in Thunder Bay, $1 million is about 1% when it comes to the tax base in the city, give or take. So just on that one program alone, I could point and say—on the gas tax alone—that we have prevented a potential 7% increase in municipal taxes, not to mention all of the other uploading we’ve done through the OMPF fund.

Going forward in my riding of Thunder Bay, there are two major projects that I want to talk about a little bit. One is a courthouse, moving forward: a $200-million project, give or take, that we’re moving forward on. Why am I highlighting that? There are dozens that I can highlight here in the 10 minutes that I have. But it’s a $200-million courthouse that’s going forward.

The opposition likes to say and think that northern Ontario is always forgotten and left out. Well, if you check the budget document, you’ll find that we’ve set aside, for the time being, a courthouse in downtown Toronto that was scheduled to be built. With apologies to my Toronto friends, we’ve delayed a $180-million project—we’re keeping the money—but the one in Thunder Bay is still going forward, a $200-million project. Pretty significant.

A new long-term-care home, a building that we’re building brand new—300 beds, it began with, when the city of Thunder Bay made a decision to close two older homes—has now grown to include about another 100-plus beds. It’s well over 400 beds. That project’s another $100-million construction project. The total value of just those two projects alone: $300 million.

Maybe somebody in the opposition wants to tell me, if they were to get the privilege of being in government here in the very near future, if those are projects that they would stop and put the brakes on, if they’re concerned about deficit. We’ve made decisions. We’ve made choices, and I can tell you about some of the people who are very happy with some of these choices. The building trades in my riding couldn’t be happier with this government when it comes to the investments that we’ve made in infrastructure: $300 million on those two projects, give or take.

Two coal plants in my riding—I think there were four or five. One is gone; four are left. Two are in my riding of Thunder Bay–Atikokan. In the 2003 election, all three political parties, all three political leaders—Howard Hampton of the NDP, Ernie Eves of the Conservatives and Dalton McGuinty of the Liberals—committed to closing coal plants in the province of Ontario. We’re keeping two of them open by converting them. The two in my riding—the one in the city of Thunder Bay and the one in Atikokan—are both going to remain open. The construction value of those conversions and the ability to burn cleaner biomass and create other related jobs is another $200 million to $300 million.

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That’s $600 million of investments I’ve talked about that’s going to occur in my riding. Some of it has started already; some of it is still to come.

My 10 minutes is up already, I’m very sorry to say. I’ve got a really long list of things I’d love to be able to spend more time talking about.

What I’m hoping to hear from the members in the opposition is, which of these projects, if you want to talk about deficit and debt, are you not going to spend money on?

I didn’t even get a chance to talk about health care and the angioplasty provision in the city of Thunder Bay for the first time; a 50% or 60% increase in the base funding of the hospital, Thunder Bay Regional Health Sciences Centre—on and on the list goes.

Yes, we made a decision when it came to deficit and debts. Unlike what occurred in the 1930s and the last great recession, the Great Depression, when governments did not play a significant role, we took a different approach, as did most national and subnational governments all over the world. They chose a different path this time. They chose to invest. They chose to put stimulus into the economy. They chose to create jobs so that families wouldn’t suffer as severely as they did 90 years ago, so that unemployment rates would not soar like they did 90 years ago and we could maintain some semblance of a strong economy, going through what was an extremely difficult time. We’re finding ourselves coming out of that now.

My time is up. As I said, I wish I had more, but perhaps another day.

The Acting Speaker (Mrs. Julia Munro): Further debate?

Mr. Robert Bailey: It’s a pleasure to rise today and speak to Bill 173 and the time allocation motion in regard to the budget. I’ll say right now that I won’t be supporting this bill, for one main reason—

Interjections.

Mr. Robert Bailey: I’m sorry to disappoint my friends on the other side.

It’s mainly, in my case, because of the decision in the one line in the budget where they’re going to close the Sarnia jail in my riding, which, according to them, is old and underutilized. That’s not the case, as they will find out in the days to come as the Sarnia–Lambton community rallies and makes the case here to the minister and to the finance minister that they were perhaps misinformed by their bureaucrats or whoever.

I’m going to make the case today that I’m appalled at the arrogance of the government, that they did not bother to consult with anyone in our local community—not the police forces, not the mayor, not the staff working in the Sarnia jail—and the record shows it.

The budget said that the jail was underutilized and that by transferring inmates from these older facilities, they would save $8 million a year. Well, the Sarnia jail is, on average, at 105% overcapacity. Sarnia’s jail is the newest small jail in the province.

The McGuinty government, as I said, did not consult with local officials before deciding to close this jail.

Sarnia is one of the only jails in the province that has no direct transportation costs associated with getting inmates to and from court, as the courthouse is connected to the jail by a tunnel. A number of prisoner transfers take place every day, on an ongoing basis, in a safe and secure environment. Last year, almost 3,000 inmates went through court security from the jail with no direct inmate transfer costs. Transferring over 3,000 inmates from Windsor to the Sarnia courthouse will drastically increase transportation costs. As we always like to say, there’s only one taxpayer at the end of the day. When the minister says those costs are going to be absorbed by the OPP—well, at the end of the day, that’s going to be taxpayers in Sarnia–Lambton and across Ontario.

For those of you who aren’t aware, Sarnia is also the second-busiest border crossing in the province. There will be a number of issues with customs and immigration. I’ve taken the time to speak to those people, as the minister and his staff should have. Some of the government members should make themselves aware of that. They’ll certainly take the time to make that case before this week is over.

Immigration: For those who don’t know, if someone is picked up at the bridge at the border crossing, those people are taken to the Sarnia jail, where they’re admitted. They don’t turn over the transportation of that individual to anyone else. Those immigration officers, whether it’s RCMP—they have to do that directly. So that’s another police force that this government never bothered to consult with. That’s a federal issue, and I’m certain that’s going to have some bearing on this decision.

I make the case today that this decision will be reversed. They’ll find some way to back away from this. I don’t know how, but it will be reversed.

Also, when there’s a smuggling issue—I’ve talked to border services in Sarnia. There’s a case for those who are the legal beagles here in the building that when you arrest someone for alleged smuggling, there’s a chain of custody. The arresting officer, who would be with Canada Customs, would have to take that individual to the jail, see them arrested, and then they would go and pick them up and take them to the court the next day when they appear for their arraignment. So this idea that people are just going to run willy-nilly up and down county roads across from Sarnia to Windsor is ludicrous. There’s no transportation available for prisoners’ families or even legal aid. If you want to get to Windsor, there’s no direct transportation routes. You’d have to take VIA, for example, to London, then you’d catch another train from London to Windsor—not very practical, I might add. But obviously, this government isn’t into practicality.

In 2009, there was a 21% increase over 2008 in people who were administered and passed through security. Court security: There were 4,292 in the court last year. The county picked up the costs of the administration of the building itself for security. There were 3,600 adults—male and female prisoners; the rest were young offenders.

The courthouse tunnel is very unique and a secure transport for this jail facility. The cellblocks on the second floor of the courthouse are overcrowded, so people are only kept there for a minimal amount of time and then they’re moved back and forth continuously to the jail. Something that’s not going to happen, I might add, with this jail facility—whether it’s going to be a jail bus or, as someone said, a chain-gang-type bus back and forth to Windsor every day, it’s not practical. It’s not going to work. We know that at the end of the day this won’t happen. I don’t care what the minister says in this budget, I know it won’t happen.

When we deal with all these issues with court security, when we talk about customs, immigration—I met with a number of people involved in the court system yesterday and they brought up something I’d never thought of. He said, “What about prisoners who are on medicated drugs?” He said, “When you pick that prisoner up in Windsor at the facility there, someone would have to take possession of those medicated drugs while they’re on the bus, all the way to Sarnia, to the court, and then someone at the other end would have to receive them. They would put that person in a holding cell, and then sometime during the day, if they needed medication, someone would have to administer it.”

This is just a totally ludicrous kind of decision. People obviously put no thought into this. It looks like something somebody pulled from thin air. It won’t work and I can tell you that it’s not going to work.

David Esser, who is the chief steward for OPSEU, took issue with their remarks when they said it was underused and expensive to operate. He said that as of yesterday, April 11—two days ago now—the jail in Sarnia was actually operating at 125% of capacity. He took issue with the $180 charge that they said it would cost to run the Sarnia jail. He said that there’s no jail in Ontario that operates for the $125 they quoted.

This jail, when it was built about 50 years ago now, with many numerous upgrades over the years, was built as part of a three-piece complex. The heating, electrical and cooling aspect is actually in the jail facility itself and it heats and cools the court facilities. Those costs would still be there at the end of the day.

They said there were no video remand facilities. Apparently they didn’t check with the people who actually administer them because there actually are. They’ve had that for five or six years and they actually spent, it looks like, $300,000 over the years installing that, and it works very well.

The chamber of commerce, which was also there, represents 1,000 members in the area, with 20,000 employees. They are asking for a cost-benefit analysis done by an independent review to make sure that the numbers the minister was giving—I’m sure he was sincere in his remarks, but they just don’t stand up.

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This trip from Windsor to Sarnia would take two and a half hours each way, plus the cost for fuel. The OPP would have to set up a separate command that would actually transport these people. You wouldn’t do it in one van; you wouldn’t do it in two buses; you’d probably be doing shifts.

What about weekend sentences? How does someone who’s serving a weekend sentence, who gets out on a Sunday night or Monday morning and tries to hold down a job and then has to show up again at the jail facility to serve their weekend sentence—they’re probably on minimum wage. They wouldn’t be able to get transportation to the court.

Actually, there were two representatives there from the First Nations community in Sarnia–Lambton and the Kettle and Stony Point First Nation. They spoke about the family and community supports that are necessary for their people—their access to legal aid. They’re probably one of the more—they said this themselves—overrepresented populations there. They have big concerns for their First Nations people and their communities, that they would be in jeopardy because they wouldn’t be able to access family and those kinds of supports. This Windsor hare-brained scheme—for want of another word—certainly wouldn’t lend itself to them.

There was a Helen Turner there, representing the Sarnia legal society, the lawyers. She says that it’s “an absolute disaster for justice in Sarnia–Lambton. We would need to see a cost-benefit analysis to ensure that this is accurate.” Prisoners would have to be brought in in shifts and held at the jail. There are 8,000 new charges a year in Sarnia–Lambton—three to four courtrooms a day with judges—and access to clients by lawyers who are representing a number of people on legal aid would be impossible.

No public transport—she raised the issue—between Sarnia and Windsor; intermittent sentences Sunday to Friday—I touched on that already. Another item that she and the First Nations leaders spoke about was the Gladue court decision, where there is a bill before members of the First Nations to access a unique form of justice for their communities. I think the member from Welland is going to speak to that maybe later. He’s nodding his head at me. I asked him for his advice on that.

What about snow days? We have all kinds of days. The member from Lambton–Kent–Middlesex is here today, and she knows the kind of weather we have in Sarnia–Lambton and Lambton-Kent–Middlesex—a number of days when school buses don’t run. I can’t see these prisoner buses running if school buses and other people are off the roads and the OPP have closed them. And those are major highways; what about some of these county roads that they would have to travel to get back and forth to Sarnia?

Like I said, the quickest way between Sarnia and Windsor is through Detroit and Michigan, but I’m sure that there won’t be any of these prisoner buses running through the United States of America. I’m positive they won’t be travelling down in Michigan. The member from Windsor is looking at me there, and I’m sure she agrees. I think she agrees with me. She’s nodding her head.

So we know that they won’t be accessing that means of transport to make it accessible to Windsor.

A number of other items that the district labour council spoke about: They’re concerned about the jobs and the loss to the local community. These 76 jobs would represent somewhere around $6 million in salaries and benefits that would be spent in the local community. It would certainly have a major impact on our community. The escorts would have to appear in court at 9 a.m. to appear. If you’re going to be in Sarnia at 9, that would mean that someone would have to be leaving Windsor around 6 in the morning. Like I said, the paperwork to turn these prisoners over to this transport system with their medications and that—and what if someone, God forbid, had a seizure because they either got the wrong drugs or they didn’t get their medication when they should have got it? Who’s going to take that responsibility for that liability?

Vince George from the First Nations community of Kettle and Stony Point spoke. He said that this would have a big impact on the First Nations community. He also spoke about the Gladue recent court decision. He said that travel costs for native families to Windsor would be prohibitive, and a lot of them wouldn’t have transportation or a method of getting back and forth.

I spoke about our jail and about the stats. This current jail is supposed to open in 2013, so I think we have lots of time to work on this. I’m going to work with the community. I met with the mayor; the local OPP; the Sarnia police chief, who’s certainly against this; the Royal Canadian Mounted Police; the two First Nations police forces; the Canada Border Services Agency; the president and also members of OPSEU, plus many other members of the community. They’re certainly opposed to this. They think it was wrong-headed.

When the Minister of Correctional Services and Public Safety was asked, “Minister, how much will your government save by closing the Sarnia jail?” Minister Bradley responded, “We don’t have that dollar figure right now, other than the percentages.” The minister stated to the Sarnia Observer that the daily cost of accommodating a prisoner will drop from $180 in Sarnia to $125, but like I say, members of our Sarnia–Lambton community question that. They want to see a cost-benefit analysis.

Mayor Bradley, the mayor of Sarnia, says, “It doesn’t make sense to transfer ... inmates by bus from Windsor when the Sarnia jail is connected to the local courthouse by a short tunnel.”

Quotes from Dave Esser, who is the union chief for the jail guards: “It would appear that half the jails in the province are less efficient than we are.”

“How do you run”—well, actually, this is partisan. But anyway, he said, “How do you run as a Liberal in Sarnia when the police budget is going sky-high because your party is shutting down the jail? I mean, what are your chances?” Well, that’s partisan. I wouldn’t have said that, but he did.

I could say a lot more, but I want to leave time for my colleague here. I know he’s got a lot of good points that he wants to raise. At the end of the day, I won’t be supporting this budget for a number of reasons, mainly because of what it’s going to do to my local community in Sarnia–Lambton.

The Acting Speaker (Mrs. Julia Munro): Further debate?

Mr. Peter Kormos: People have got to understand: We’ve already had the debate on the budget speech and the motion that followed that speech. That got its eight hours of standing order debate. We’re talking about the bill now, and regrettably, this bill bears so little resemblance to what was, in and of itself, a rather pathetic budget speech. It was thin gruel delivered in desperate times by a desperate government, and I tell you, it has not been well received in the communities where I’ve been spending my weekends, down in St. Catharines and Welland and Thorold and Port Colborne and Wainfleet.

What the finance minister didn’t tell us when he read his budget speech, nor were we told when the government introduced Bill 173, was that, remarkably, stuck into this bill is the legislative framework for online Internet gambling, sponsored by none other than Dalton McGuinty and the government of Ontario: the online Internet gambling that will lure younger and younger gamblers—indeed underage gamblers, not just youthful but kid gamblers—and the Internet gambling scheme that will undermine the jobs in Windsor and Niagara Falls and other casinos and will, rather than control or address or meet or in any way, shape or form confront problem gambling, aggravate it and cultivate it.

Hon. Sandra Pupatello: So are you the Bradley mouthpiece now?

Mr. Peter Kormos: The minister notes. Because, you see, the Minister of Economic Development recalls her colleague and my friend the Minister of Community Safety when he was a vociferous foe of slot machines and broad-spread, unfettered gambling, including the sad, sad explosion of slots in our racetracks, which has served to do little more than destroy families and undermine our racetracks’ horse racing, horse breeding—and large parts of the agricultural industry in this province, like the agricultural industry down in Niagara, where I come from, that depended upon horse racing to sustain themselves.

Let’s take a look at schedules 17 and 34, because as I say, hidden away in this budget bill—we heard nothing about this from a single government spokesperson, either in the budget speech, in the debate around the budget motion, in the introduction of this bill or, indeed, in the pathetic and sparse commentary by government members on this budget bill itself. Let’s understand, we’re debating a time allocation motion. That’s a gag motion, a guillotine motion. That motion and the frequency with which it’s been used by the McGuinty Liberals demonstrates a disdain for democracy, a disdain for Parliament and a disdain for parliamentary process.

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There’s a reason why there are three readings to a bill. Indeed, if you go back a couple of hundred years, there used to be five, six, seven readings of a bill. If you listen to government members who somehow shake their heads in shock at the fact that somebody would want to debate a bill and its substance, and who just—because, of course, the government members, on the rare occasions when they’re allowed to speak, or given their Coles Notes, the cheat sheets, the spin—and as often as not they consider a two-minute question and comment as participation in this debate, when all it is is a meagre, feckless effort to get one’s name on the record for a 16th of a page of Hansard.

Where are the government members defending Internet gambling, sponsored by Dalton McGuinty and Ontario’s Liberals? Let me tell you why I’m concerned about this. I’m concerned because when I hear what people say, like folks down in Las Vegas—as a matter of fact, in the New York Times of October 2, 2010, you have, “At the same time, officials here are watching another potentially disruptive storm on the horizon: legislation in Congress that would legalize Internet gambling. Mr. Brown said he was hopeful that online gambling would not draw people away from Las Vegas because ‘Internet gambling appeals more to addicted gamblers than people who are seeking a casino experience.’”

When you’re doing Internet gambling at home, you’re hard-core. You don’t even have the illusion of saying to your spouse, “Honey, let’s go to the casino tonight. We’ll see”—who would you see perform at the casino? Wayne Newton, or whoever it might happen to be. “We’ll see Wayne Newton at the casino, and maybe, heck, we’ll have dinner and spend a hundred bucks.” Mind you, to be fair, casinos don’t make any money on the people who only drop a hundred bucks at the slots or at the wheel. Casinos are very much like cigarette manufacturers. Cigarette manufacturers tell people, “You don’t have to smoke a pack or two or three a day; just smoke one cigarette a day.” Hell’s bells, we know better than that. Cigarettes are inherently addictive, and that’s the whole idea of the process, because if smokers only smoked one cigarette a day, the tobacco industry would have failed years ago. Any more so than the spirits industry makes money on the people who—I remember in my family there would be a bottle of Crown Royal. It would last for four or five years.

Mr. Steve Clark: Not at my house.

Mr. Peter Kormos: The member notes.

My father would have this bottle of Crown Royal, and I’m sure on Christmas Eve there was a celebratory smallest of drinks, and then the bottle went back in the closet and came out a year later and a year later. The liquor industry doesn’t make money off of people who buy a bottle of booze every five or six years, or even every year. The liquor industry and the beer industry, the ones that advertise—we see the ads on TV, and again, they’re geared towards young people—make money on young people who are heavy drinkers, excessive drinkers.

Casinos and gambling institutes don’t make money on the occasional gambler. They don’t make money on the senior citizen who takes the bus from the seniors’ centre up to Casino Rama with fifty bucks in their pocket. They lose money on those people. They’re not interested in those people. The casino and gambling industry is interested in young people, just like the booze industry is, and just like the tobacco industry remains—although now they’re doing their marketing in places like China, amongst other places. Because you want to bring them in when they’re young. You want to hook them as quickly as you can.

As I say, it’s interesting: In the debate in Nevada about legalized Internet gambling, there’s concern about Internet gambling because Internet gambling appeals more to addicted gamblers than people who are seeking a casino experience. It makes sense, doesn’t it? It makes common sense. The casinos draw their fair share of addicted gamblers, but at the very least, in most instances, you’ve got to put on a fresh set of clothes, you’ve got to travel to where the casino is, and there’s some interaction with other people. Internet gamblers are up at 4:30 in the morning, sitting in last night’s underwear. And kids, increasingly, will be gambling.

Look, what we’ve seen is the tip of the iceberg when it comes to gambling addictions here in the province of Ontario, especially when it applies to gambling on devices like the Internet and the computer.

We’ve got a whole generation of young people, with more to come, who have been nurtured on computer games, who can tweet like nobody’s business. I’m told that there has been research done that demonstrates, increasingly, that when young people ring a doorbell, they don’t use their forefinger like you or I would do, but they use their thumb, because that’s the pattern they acquire from tweeting. We’ve got a whole generation of people who are ripe for the picking, who are fresh for the gambling industry, who are tuned in to using computers, using BlackBerrys and using iPods, and who have been, Pavlov-style, trained to respond to the bells and whistles and bright lights etc. This is all part and parcel of the addictiveness of computer gambling.

That’s why a slot machine isn’t a one-armed bandit any more. Heck, you put your card in there and just keep pressing the button. I’m not even sure you have to keep pressing the button.

Again, quoting from that same New York Times article of October 2, 2010: “Senator Harry Reid of Nevada, the Senate majority leader who is in the middle of a bruising re-election fight, said he would oppose such a move”—that is to say, Internet gambling—“because it would hurt the state’s tourism industry and cost jobs.”

Let’s go on to another authority, none other than the chief executive officer of Wynn Resorts, Stephen A. Wynn. He knows a little bit about gambling.

“Other operators like Wynn Resorts have argued that online gambling would, among other things, cannibalize profits by reducing casino attendance.”

This is very important: “The chief executive of Wynn Resorts, Stephen A. Wynn, also stated last year in response to a reporter’s questions that he thought it ‘would be impossible’ to regulate Internet gambling.”

What schedules 17 and 34 do is because the traditional definition of a gaming place, for the purpose of the Ontario Lottery and Gaming Commission running a gambling operation there, has been a place. Of course, whatever’s out there that constitutes the Internet isn’t a physical place. So the government has had to amend the Ontario Lottery and Gaming Corporation Act by adding “‘gaming site’ means premises or an electronic channel maintained for the purpose of playing or operating a lottery scheme.” That’s it. That’s the legislative scheme.

Take a look at 17, and you see how futile the government even acknowledges it is to regulate who accesses these things.

Please, listen to this one. If it weren’t so sad, it would have you rolling in the aisles. “No individual who is under 19 years of age shall enter or remain in a gaming site, except ... in the course of employment.” That means a gaming place like a casino or the slots at the racetrack or inside that electronic channel on the computer.

This is lovely. This is the government’s response to the high risk that they’re exposing young people to: “No person shall permit an individual under 19 years of age to play a lottery scheme in a gaming site.” In fact, there’s nobody permitting or not permitting. You’ve got a 13-year-old kid with Mom’s or Dad’s credit card, accessing a gaming site in his or her bedroom, or at the family computer, for that matter, and nobody knows who that kid is at the other end of the gaming site. Nobody has any idea who he is. We all know about the anonymity of the Internet.

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It is absurd. It is absurd to suggest that that section proposed in this facilitative amendment—interestingly, part of the budget bill—in any way controls, restricts or monitors access by teenagers or younger people to gaming sites.

Take a look, just real quick now, at what a couple of experts have had to say about gambling in general and young people. There’s an interesting decision in the Ontario courts: Dennis v. Ontario Lottery and Gaming Corp. It was a judgment of Justice Cullity. The interesting parts are the expert evidence that was received from two experts, and I’m referring to the reported decision in 101, Ontario Courts, 3rd Edition.

Dr. Kevin Harrigan “is a research associate professor at the University of Waterloo where he teaches and conducts research in computer-game design including electronic gambling games.... His particular research interest at present is in understanding whether and, if so how, structural characteristics of slot machines may explain why so many people develop an addiction to them.” He’s identifying slot machines as inherently addictive.

And understand that when the government’s talking about Internet gambling, it’s not talking about participating in, let’s say, a poker game, which I acknowledge is a game of mixed chance and skill. It’s talking about the good stuff when it comes to people operating gambling casinos, whether it’s the mob or the government of Ontario, and the two are increasingly indistinguishable from each other—

Interjection.

Mr. Peter Kormos: Well, there’s a reason these Internet sites—I’m not going to be playing poker on the Internet with other poker players. They’re going to be slot-style. That’s why Dr. Kevin Harrigan’s comments are important. That’s why his evidence in this trial about the inherent addictiveness of slot machines is relevant.

Catch this: Dr. Harrigan “described in considerable detail .... how it is a distinguishing characteristic of slot-machine gambling that the player wins very frequently while as a matter of statistical probability, his bankroll steadily declines as the wins are reinvested.... He expresses the opinion that slot machines are highly addictive and that the misleading features of the machines contribute to the addiction.”

The government knows this stuff. This isn’t a secret. This government is as guilty as the drug dealer outside a schoolyard, getting kids hooked on whatever the drug happens to be at that particular point in time. This government is as guilty as any cigarette industry executive who, again, preys on young people, getting them addicted to deadly tobacco. It knows these machines and these games are addictive, and it knows that it can’t control access to them when they’re on the Internet. It knows that the Internet has no capacity whatsoever to screen who accesses it, and the evidence is, oh, so clear.

Another witness in the same trial, Dr. Robert Williams, “has a Ph.D. degree in psychology from McMaster University.... Among the opinions Dr. Williams provided on the basis of his research and experience were that, apart from biological and psychological factors, contributing factors to the likelihood that a person would engage in problem gambling include:

“the availability of electronic gambling machines, which because of high rates of reinforcement, illusion of control and deceptive ‘near miss’ features, are the most addictive forms of gambling”—the availability. You put these on the Internet, sponsored by the government of Ontario and Dalton McGuinty, and you’re making them available to everybody. You don’t even have to leave your house. If you’re an adult, you don’t have to shower or shave. If you’re a kid, you do it in the secrecy of your bedroom. I don’t know very many kids who don’t have computers nowadays in the province of Ontario.

The “likelihood that a person would engage in problem gambling include:

“(i)”—I already mentioned;

“(ii) erroneous beliefs about how gambling works and the probabilities of success;

“(iii) the ready availability of funds through nearby automated cash machines; and

“(iv) ineffectual self-exclusion programs.”

This is very dangerous stuff, and the government has hidden it away in a budget bill and has not been forthcoming about the fact that it’s even there, never mind exposing these two schedules, 17 and 34, to the public scrutiny that they deserve in public hearings. This time allocation motion that we’re debating today, that this government is going to ram through, will restrict public hearings to about one day here at Queen’s Park. This is repugnant stuff. It is shameful that a government would engage in such atrocious activities. It should be fighting gambling and the ruin that gambling causes rather than encouraging it and profiting from it.

The Acting Speaker (Mrs. Julia Munro): Further debate?

Mr. Steve Clark: I’m pleased to join in the debate for the time allocation motion—as the member for Welland said, the gag order, the guillotine order—that the government has put forward. I appreciate some of these sections that he has talked about—section 17, regarding the Gaming Control Act, and section 34, on the Ontario Lottery and Gaming Corporation Act—regarding Internet gambling, which we haven’t heard a peep from the government on.

It is ridiculous to have one day of public hearings as part of this time allocation motion. It reminds me of the discussion we had at the general government committee a week ago, when we decided to have our proceedings of our hearings, since we weren’t going to the north—which was another ridiculous decision by the government, not to go up north to deal with Bill 151. One of the motions that I put forward, because I think we need to have more technology involved in this place and get some of this paper off, maybe allow me to give a member’s statement from a tablet or at least do it—as I think the finance minister talked about. But we talked in the committee about streaming our presentation. We couldn’t seem to even get our head around to include that in the ad promoting the hearings. Even when we had the hearing yesterday—and we’re again in committee tomorrow—there was a little tiny reference, a little tiny link on our front website, about the general government committee.

I have no feeling of happiness when we can’t even get our head around promoting a live stream of a committee, let alone give the government the hands on the Ontario Lottery Corp. to provide online gambling. We can’t even add electronics to our deliberations here at Queen’s Park; why should I feel that this government has any aptitude for starting online gambling? I don’t.

I would like to talk about two sections of the act. I know that they’ve been mentioned before. One of them is schedule 10 under the Education Act, which I don’t think was part of the discussion. The other, which I’ll mention in a few moments, is schedule 15, regarding freedom of information. Schedule 10 amends the Education Act, subsection 218.2(2), which governs the code of conduct that applies to board members, whether permitted or required under this act. It basically clarifies that the minister can prescribe codes of conduct for school boards. I know that the member for Newmarket–Aurora had expressed some concerns about trustees in his area. In my own riding of Leeds–Grenville, when we had the discussion about closing schools, the public board, the Upper Canada District School Board, went through an exercise called Boundary 2020 that resulted, unfortunately, in a number of rural schools being closed. I know how some of the trustees fell muzzled once the decision had been made, that they couldn’t, under the act, speak their minds on whether they disagreed with the act because, once the board ruled, they felt muzzled.

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I know that in my riding we did elect a number of new trustees, trustees that I think heard at the door that people wanted some change in the way that the board did business. I really have expressed concern about hampering trustees. If you don’t want trustees to do their job as a government, you should just come right out and say it, because we think these elected officials should be able to speak freely on behalf of their constituents and be able to represent them. I’m extremely concerned about this code of conduct and what muzzling this government and the Ministry of Education are doing on truly and duly elected trustees.

The other section that the member for Nickel Belt brought up was schedule 15, the Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act amendment regarding hospitals. I do have a lot of issues, and I’m glad that she brought it up earlier in the debate. I have two issues that I’d like to talk about that relate to that. Just these two alone, schedule 10 and schedule 15, give me cause not to vote in favour of the budget.

The freedom of information—I have a constituent, Arnold Kilby, who I think has emailed every single, solitary one of the members of this Legislature probably 100 times. His daughter, Terra Dawn, passed away a number of years ago and he has been fighting ever since to get answers from the hospital board. He has been up against a brick wall with the Health Professions Appeal and Review Board; the College of Physicians and Surgeons has been like a brick wall to him to get answers. The Death Investigation Oversight Council—this man has tried to get answers from the hospital, from ministers. I remember he wrote the Minister of Community Safety, and the OPP came to his door questioning him about his emails. I couldn’t believe it.

All the man wants are some answers. He certainly doesn’t have the means to litigate. All he wants are some answers surrounding his daughter. I can appreciate what he has gone through with these bodies, the brick wall that he has hit, and to have further provisions removed for freedom of information at hospitals—I just don’t understand that.

In my own discussions in this House, just in the last couple of weeks, about the South East LHIN and the surgery department at Brockville General Hospital, I brought up this plan twice in the House. My critics say that I’m creating this mirage. I’ve seen the plan. A doctor shared with me the plan and shared with me the discussion around the plan. All I asked was that it be taken off the table. If I was such an extreme MPP to bring this up that it was at the far end of the spectrum, why didn’t you just take it off the table? I asked for a public meeting to take place. Well, lo and behold, I read the daily newspaper in Brockville this morning, and the headline is, “Surgery Update Heard Secretly by BGH Board.” When I see schedule 15 restricting freedom of information, and I see LHINs operating in a shroud of secrecy in a significant recommendation that would gut the surgery department, and I suggest gut the Brockville General Hospital, I have every right to bring it up as the MPP in that riding. I can’t believe, when I read the local paper, that this update by the LHIN would be held in a secret meeting with the board. I can’t understand it.

Taking away freedom-of-information rights from hospitals: I can’t support that. I can’t support it because of the issues with my surgery department, but more importantly, because of my constituent Arnold Kilby and his poor daughter and the answers that he has been trying to get. We need to make sure that he has that opportunity.

I know that there are some members who talked about predictable funding for municipalities, and I’m pleased that today I received a resolution from the municipality of North Grenville. It’s not a township. It’s one of the fastest-growing communities in eastern Ontario. They have a wonderful service called North Grenville Accessible Transportation. They don’t run their own transit system; they’re a predominantly rural community. But they’ve got this great not-for-profit corporation and, unfortunately, they can’t access provincial funds because they don’t run a conventional transit system. I think that’s just wrong, so I compliment the municipality on putting this forward. They’ve submitted it to me, and I’m looking forward to hearing what Minister Wynne has to say, because I think it’s extremely important, especially in a rural riding, that if there is this type of service for disabled persons, the government should listen.

I also want to talk about risk management because that’s something that certainly on this side of the House we’ve talked about a lot. I think many Ontarians are glad that finally, at long last, the government opposite has at least announced it. I haven’t seen any section in the act regarding business risk management, but I must say that the member for Oxford brought up an interesting point yesterday on the fact that the budget for the Ministry of Agriculture is actually $52.6 million less than it was the year before. I certainly am concerned about that because, in my riding, agriculture plays an important role. I’ve met many times with groups from all of the sectors that make up the Ontario Agriculture Sustainability Coalition. I met with them very recently, just prior to the federal election being called. I know that they’ve talked to both the federal MP and me about the importance of that. They certainly knew where our party was on the record. They heard loud and clear from our leader, Tim Hudak, at the International Plowing Match that he was committed to the program. They certainly know that the member for Oxford was in favour of the program. I was pleased, when the grain farmers met in my riding earlier this year, that I could tell them I was committed to the program as well. But I still don’t see any details here on the program. The grain farmers wrote me yesterday to thank me for my support.

There’s still the issue of the permanency of the program. I think that needs to be clarified at some point, whether the program is permanent, and some of the details, because they’re not part of this budget document.

The other issue—and I know I only have a few minutes left—is the issue of mental health. I know that we’re debating a private member’s resolution or private member’s bill on Thursday. I hope to get the opportunity to speak to that because I know that mental health is such an important part in my riding. The minister isn’t here—I know I’m not supposed to say that; I apologize. Withdraw.

Our community is very much in favour of a secure treatment centre for women. It’s a wonderful broad-based group that we’re working with in the community. We’re working with our federal member and our federal senator, Bob Runciman. We’ve got sectors from all over; the chambers of commerce, the municipalities and OPSEU are at the table. We hope that this government, at some point, will come to the table to support our community. We have a fabulous male secure treatment unit that has had wonderful success. Recidivism has decreased by 38% in the male population that is served in that male secure treatment centre. Knowing the mental health issues that are evident in our prisons right now with the female population—this is a critical issue that needs to be addressed. The people of Brockville and the people of Leeds–Grenville are very welcoming. They want this facility to add to the expertise that we have on the site.

My final comment is going to be on CCSVI. I put some petitions in earlier today. I know that there is a lot of discussion by the members opposite, although I can’t see the document, about breast cancer and their increasing funds. However, I know that people who have MS are extremely concerned about the government’s panel. People in my riding whom I’ve talked to call it a non-expert panel; the minister refers to it as an expert panel. I think it’s really suspect, some of the people who have been on that committee, and the lack of individuals who have an expertise with CCSVI, people like Dr. Sandy McDonald, Dr. Gary Siskin and Dr. Salvatore Sclafani, just to name a few.

Many people who are sufferers from CCSVI and who want the government to act have written the minister. I haven’t seen a response, but I know that these people are extremely concerned with this panel, that there is a bias against the procedure and that the minister has set up a panel that will not be impartial, will not provide for the review that these people wanted. I know that the minister thought that that was fabulous, but many people in my riding have expressed otherwise. So I hope, prior to this being passed, that she’ll go on the record and address those issues about the bias on her panel.

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In closing, I will not support this motion. I think that there is much to change and I think that there has to be a lot more public input and a lot more things coming out of this government on some of the—

The Acting Speaker (Mrs. Julia Munro): Thank you. Further debate? The member for Mississauga–Streetsville.

Applause.

Mr. Bob Delaney: I thank my good friends and colleagues across the aisle for the little round of applause.

I also want to acknowledge the commentary of the previous speaker, my colleague and, if I may say so, my friend from Leeds–Grenville who, whatever else, spoke for the folks in his community. I have to tell the folks in his community that he’s a pretty good hockey player. I hope he’s going to remember to bring his stuff for the Legiskaters’ last game on the 18th because, as the goaltender for that team, I look forward to standing in the nets and knowing that Steve Clark and Howard Hampton are in front of me—and I know I’ve used members’ names in the House, but I hope I’ve used them in the correct context.

I’d like to just make a few comments on the budget and the particular motion on which we’re speaking. Two budgets ago, coming out of the wicked recession that Ontario inherited from the rest of the world, people said to me prior to that budget, “We’ve run a number of budget surpluses in a row. What is our province going to do? Are they going to throw us out of the boat in this particular budget? We’re worried about our particular sector,” particularly if people were in the auto parts or auto sector itself. They said, “What’s going to happen to us? Is our province going to be there for us?”

People also said, “Are you going to balance the budget at the expense of completely gutting some of the services that we depend on? Does that mean that our hospitals will close? Does that mean that we’re going to crush public education?” And the answer to that, of course, was no, because perhaps the only thing that we didn’t want to do more than borrowing all the money that the province of Ontario did was not borrow it. That was probably the worst alternative we faced. So we said, “We’re Ontarians. We’ve encountered these difficulties before. We’re strong people, we’re hard-working people. This is money. We can borrow it and we can repay it, but we can’t replace the careers and the lives. We can’t replace an entire lost industry, if that’s what we have to do to pay the price of getting out of the recession.”

So we chose at that time in 2009, in 2010 and in 2011 to map out a course that took the province of Ontario out of the recession and laid a sustainable course back to prosperity, back to a balanced budget, back to a time where Ontarians could look ahead with confidence and with hope, and that’s what this, the third in that series of budgets, did. That budget lays out a sustainable, reasonable, achievable path back to a balanced budget.

It did it without gutting public education. It did it without closing hospitals. It did it without firing nurses. It did it without taking away hope from our kids, who said, “Where am I going to go after I’m finished high school? I need to have good post-secondary education spaces.” That’s why this budget, despite its efforts to climb out of the recession, says to kids who are in high school today, “As you begin to enter university, there will be 60,000 more spaces in Ontario’s colleges and universities for you.”

It says to people who are in health care, “The health care system that you work in will be there.” It says to people who are my age, as most of the MPPs around here are—we’re baby-boom-generation people, the first of whom turn 65 in this year of 2011—“As you begin to place your greatest demands of your life on the health care system, we’re laying the foundation to make sure that that health care system that you’ve known was there all your life—it was there when you were healthy; it was there for your children; it was there for your parents; it sustained all of those people around you. But as you enter the latter stages of your life, that health care system is going to be there for you, too, because you need that assurance.” Why? Because for all of us who were born in that generation between 1946 and 1966, the first of us turning 65—some of us have already turned 65—

Interjection: Not yet.

Mr. Bob Delaney: My colleague says “Not yet.” Not yet for me, too.

But the scary part is that we are now closer to 70 than we are to 40. Before any more of my colleagues disparage me from making veiled assertions that may lead you to suspect what their ages are, I think the important part here is to know that Ontario will make sure that you have a doctor in the last stages of your life. If you are an Ontario doctor and you’re looking at retiring yourself, you’ll be relieved to know that Ontarians are certifying more doctors, that Ontarians are arranging to certify more foreign-trained doctors, and that if, as a doctor or as a nurse, you’re looking at the latter stages of your life and you say, “I’d like to retire and I’d like to know that the health care system that I helped build will still be there for me and for the people around me,” that health care system will, courtesy of the budget that Ontario has introduced this year.

It’s an encouraging budget. It’s a budget that people should look at and say, “It means that the Ontario that I know, the Ontario that I grew up in, the Ontario that I’d like my children to grow up in, the Ontario that my grandparents and great-grandparents built, that Ontario will still be there, and I’m still going to recognize my province as the years unwind from here. Not only will I recognize it, but our province will gradually reduce our deficit,” and personally, I think we’re going to get out of this deficit ahead of schedule. That’s just my personal feeling. We did it with the last budget deficit that we inherited, and in that, our government can offer to Ontarians this: We have already inherited a budget deficit. We have already eliminated it. We did it ahead of schedule and we did it without destroying the things that you value and cherish as Ontarians.

This is a larger budget deficit. It’s going to take a little longer, but we’re going to do that, too. We’re going to reduce that budget deficit to a balanced budget, and your province will again be in surplus. You won’t lose your health care. You won’t lose your education. You won’t lose the things that you value most. That means a lot to my people who vote for me in Meadowvale, in Lisgar, in Churchill Meadows, in Streetsville. Those are my neighbours and my friends. They ask me, when I go to Queen’s Park, “Make sure you remember where you came from.” And I say, “I’ll remember where I came from because I take the bus beside you, I take the GO train beside you. When all is said and done here, I’m still going to be your neighbour.”

This is what this budget lays out to people in the 905 belt; this is what this budget lays out to people in the far north, in our farming country; this is what our budget says to the young and the old; this is what our budget says, even more importantly, to our students, to our entrepreneurs, to our job creators: that the Ontario that you need is at the cutting edge in any way that you need it. We have the most competitive tax regime in North America, and that’s good because that helps create jobs. We’ve got the best health care in North America, and that’s good because that helps all of us. We’ve got the best education system, and one of the best anywhere in the world—we’re in the top 10 worldwide, among the overachievers like Finland and Singapore. There are also Ontario public schools, and that’s good because that’s what we need as time goes forward, because today, the value in your life isn’t minerals in the ground or wood in the forest; it’s knowledge and it’s what you can do with knowledge.

That’s the important part about the budget. That’s the reason this budget should get passed and that’s the reason it should get passed soon. That’s why I intend to very proudly stand up and support this budget for this government, and why I will proudly stand up and campaign for re-election as a Liberal, and why I hope to be part of a majority Liberal government in the fall. Thank you very much.

The Acting Speaker (Mrs. Julia Munro): Further debate?

Ms. Smith has moved government notice of motion number 56. Is it the pleasure of the—

Mr. Rosario Marchese: No.

Mr. John Yakabuski: I’ll speak if there’s time left, Madam Speaker. I’ll have a word.

The Acting Speaker (Mrs. Julia Munro): No.

Is it the pleasure of the House that the motion carry?

All those in favour?

All those opposed, say “nay.”

In my opinion, the ayes have it.

Call in the members. This will be a 10-minute bell.

I have a deferral slip. “Pursuant to standing order 28(h), I request that the vote on government order 56 be deferred until after question period, April 13.”

Vote deferred.

The Acting Speaker (Mrs. Julia Munro): Orders of the day?

Hon. Sandra Pupatello: I move adjournment of the House.

The Acting Speaker (Mrs. Julia Munro): The minister 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 morning.

The House adjourned at 1721.

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