Official Records for 7 March 2012

LEGISLATIVE ASSEMBLY OF ONTARIO

ASSEMBLÉE LÉGISLATIVE DE L’ONTARIO

Wednesday 7 March 2012 Mercredi 7 mars 2012

ORDERS OF THE DAY

SECURITY FOR COURTS, ELECTRICITY
GENERATING FACILITIES
AND NUCLEAR FACILITIES ACT, 2012 /
LOI DE 2012 SUR LA SÉCURITÉ
DES TRIBUNAUX, DES CENTRALES
ÉLECTRIQUES ET DES INSTALLATIONS
NUCLÉAIRES

INTRODUCTION OF VISITORS

ORAL QUESTIONS

ENERGY POLICIES

ENERGY POLICIES

MANUFACTURING JOBS

TAXATION

AIR AMBULANCE SERVICE

AIR AMBULANCE SERVICE

CONCUSSIONS

AIR AMBULANCE SERVICE

MINING INDUSTRY

FIREFIGHTERS

AIR AMBULANCE SERVICE

EXECUTIVE COMPENSATION

FARM SAFETY

RENEWABLE ENERGY

CORRECTIONAL FACILITIES

VISITOR

CORRECTION OF RECORD

VISITORS

INTRODUCTION OF VISITORS

MEMBERS’ STATEMENTS

HORSE RACING INDUSTRY

ONTARIO MUNICIPAL BOARD

HEART AND STROKE FOUNDATION

OAK RIDGES MORAINE

HEART AND STROKE FOUNDATION

CARLETON UNIVERSITY
RELAY FOR LIFE

AUTO INSURANCE FRAUD

ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT

NORTHERN ONTARIO

SPECIAL REPORT,
ENVIRONMENTAL COMMISSIONER
OF ONTARIO

INTRODUCTION OF BILLS

REDUCING AUTOMOBILE INSURANCE
PREMIUMS BY ELIMINATING
FRAUD ACT, 2012 /
LOI DE 2012 VISANT À RÉDUIRE
LES PRIMES D’ASSURANCE-
AUTOMOBILE PAR L’ÉLIMINATION
DES ACTIVITÉS FRAUDULEUSES

AFFORDABLE ENERGY
AND RESTORATION OF LOCAL
DECISION MAKING ACT, 2012 /
LOI DE 2012 SUR L’ÉNERGIE ABORDABLE
ET LE RÉTABLISSEMENT DE LA PRISE
DE DÉCISIONS LOCALE

INSURANCE AMENDMENT ACT
(ELEMENTS IN CLASSIFYING RISKS
FOR AUTOMOBILE INSURANCE), 2012 /
LOI DE 2012 MODIFIANT
LA LOI SUR LES ASSURANCES
(ÉLÉMENTS SERVANT AU CLASSEMENT
DES RISQUES EN MATIÈRE
D’ASSURANCE-AUTOMOBILE)

FAR NORTH REPEAL ACT, 2012 /
LOI DE 2012 ABROGEANT
LA LOI SUR LE GRAND NORD

INSURANCE AMENDMENT ACT
(RISK CLASSIFICATION SYSTEMS
FOR AUTOMOBILE INSURANCE), 2012 /
LOI DE 2012 MODIFIANT
LA LOI SUR LES ASSURANCES
(SYSTÈMES DE CLASSEMENT
DES RISQUES
EN ASSURANCE-AUTOMOBILE)

MOTIONS

PRIVATE MEMBERS’ PUBLIC BUSINESS

PETITIONS

RENEWABLE ENERGY

DOG OWNERSHIP

RENEWABLE ENERGY

WIND TURBINES

MARKDALE HOSPITAL

WIND TURBINES

HIGHWAY SAFETY

TUITION

EDUCATION FUNDING

WIND TURBINES

WIND TURBINES

ORDERS OF THE DAY

INTERIM SUPPLY /
CRÉDITS PROVISOIRES

The House met at 0900.

Prayers.

ORDERS OF THE DAY

SECURITY FOR COURTS, ELECTRICITY
GENERATING FACILITIES
AND NUCLEAR FACILITIES ACT, 2012 /
LOI DE 2012 SUR LA SÉCURITÉ
DES TRIBUNAUX, DES CENTRALES
ÉLECTRIQUES ET DES INSTALLATIONS
NUCLÉAIRES

Resuming the debate adjourned on March 5, 2012, on the motion for second reading of the following bill:

Bill 34, An Act to repeal the Public Works Protection Act, amend the Police Services Act with respect to court security and enact the Security for Electricity Generating Facilities and Nuclear Facilities Act, 2012 / Projet de loi 34, Loi abrogeant la Loi sur la protection des ouvrages publics, modifiant la Loi sur les services policiers en ce qui concerne la sécurité des tribunaux et édictant la Loi de 2012 sur la sécurité des centrales électriques et des installations nucléaires.

The Acting Speaker (Mr. Paul Miller): Further debate?

Mr. Rob Leone: I’m pleased to stand on behalf of the Ontario PC caucus to talk about Bill 34. I want to begin by talking a bit about what happened yesterday in our debate about the opposition day motion with respect to Toronto subways. We had a lot of interesting and heated debate in this House, and I’m sure some of the quotes that we heard from that side of the House are going to ring loud and clear throughout this session because it was very interesting to see Liberal MPPs who actually support a subway, and said that quite frequently in their speech, end up voting against it. It’s pretty interesting to see that.

I want to draw your attention to one of the quotes that we heard yesterday from the member from Etobicoke Centre. She said this: “As difficult as democracy is, as messy as it can be, it’s far better than benevolent dictatorship, or dictatorship of any kind, where you just go in and say, ‘Because I know best, this is what you’re going to do.’” That’s what the member for Etobicoke Centre said yesterday in debate. I find it very interesting when we take that quote and bring it into this House, into this debate, knowing what happened right here in the city of Toronto with respect to the G20 summit.

If there is any example of dictatorship and the invoking of what we call a police state, it was that precise time. Regulation 233/10 is exactly this. It’s an example of a dictatorship, as opposed to democracy. So, in light of that debate, in light of that discussion, why did that government, sitting across the aisle from us in the opposition, decide it was okay to essentially overrule or, in secret, talk about a regulation that has some fundamental implications for civil liberties in the province of Ontario?

In addition, last week during debate on this very topic, the Minister of Training, Colleges and Universities spoke quite eloquently about human rights abuses and everything of that nature—and, you know, I applaud him for the work that he actually does on this file. But then he started to do something that has become all too much of a pattern. What he decided to do was, he laid the blame on the federal government. This is a pattern that we’ve seen from this government. They take all the credit for anything that happens that’s good, but never accept any blame for anything that has gone wrong. As members from the NDP have consistently asked, particularly on this file, we’ve never heard an apology. We’ve never heard an “I’m sorry” for what happened during that debate, that whole issue. We still haven’t heard that apology from the government.

I’m learning quite quickly that there are a lot of contrasts in this business, and I want to highlight one in particular here. Last week when I spoke in the House I talked about Mackenzie King being a Liberal hero, being a person that they like on that side, and the key to his success being that he never let his left hand understand what his right hand was doing. We can’t get the connection between two distinct events. It’s the key to Liberal success; it’s the key to why Mackenzie King was the longest-serving Prime Minister in Canadian history.

So let’s do that same process with this debate, Mr. Speaker. On the one hand you have the G20: the incidents that happened here in Toronto, the mass arrests that occurred, the trying to quelch lawlessness that the government allowed the police to do during that whole episode; and you contrast that with what happened in Caledonia, the lawlessness that happened there. We had, on the one hand, heavy police involvement, we had mass arrests, we disrupted civil liberties, and on the other hand we let that situation in Caledonia fester and fester until—chaos.

I remember watching the newscast after the G20 protests, watching what happened in Caledonia in our newscasts, and you know what, Mr. Speaker? It didn’t look like Ontario. It didn’t look like Ontario when cars were put up in flames or police cars were put up in flames. These are pictures of our Ontario, the great Ontario, the Ontario that is the glue that holds Confederation together. These aren’t the images that represent our province, and frankly, it’s an embarrassment to know what happened with those incidents and the fact that we can’t even come to an agreement on how to deal with issues that have significant importance to the people living in those communities.

Frankly, when it comes to protecting the city of Toronto, excessive force was used, but when we’re talking about protecting a community like Caledonia it seemed like there was a hands-off approach: “Let the two parties deal with those issues.” I think that’s one of the tragedies that we’ve seen from this government.

One of the issues that we talk about with respect to this issue is the secrecy: How do we have such massive police powers bestowed on that force without having a discussion or debate or a vote in this Legislature? That’s exactly what regulation 233/10 had done: It was done behind closed doors; it was done at cabinet, the whole cabinet sitting around a nice beautiful table, including the members for Peterborough, Ottawa Centre, Ottawa–Orléans, Mississauga–Streetsville, Willowdale, Bramalea–Gore–Malton, Ajax–Pickering and Algoma–Manitoulin—lots of people at the table to discuss what was going to happen with respect to this.

Mr. Speaker, we’re in a democracy. We need to know exactly what we’re talking about. We need to know the information to have informed and reasoned debate. We try and get that information at any given stage. Last week, certainly, was a deadline that we saw with respect to my motion on hospital expansion projects and tabling that plan. We passed a motion in this House to table that plan by March 1, 2012. We still don’t have that plan tabled in this House, the detail that we’d expect. It’s just a pattern of secrecy, of keeping the opposition in the dark; keeping the people of the province of Ontario in the dark.

We’re seeing it currently with the stuff that’s happening at Ornge where, on the one hand, we desire to get to the bottom of the situation at Ornge and on the other hand, we’re not giving this Legislature the tools to do that. We’re not providing witnesses with the protections that they’d expect to get them to freely come forward with the information that they need.

This is a democracy; a democracy that we have built through hard work. Frankly, we have to defend it at every given stage, and talking about this bill and what happened here in the province of Ontario is a necessity to getting to the bottom, to making sure that we improve the democracy that we’ve come to know.

0910

In terms of when I spoke last on this, when the member for Renfrew–Nipissing–Pembroke talked very elaborately and eloquently and even humorously on this topic—although it’s not a funny matter, he really did entertain us at that debate—I questioned the fact that there needed to be some semblance of understanding what “legitimacy” and “authority” meant. I decided to hit the textbooks to provide some background on what’s happening here. Let me give you a couple of quotes.

First of all, “Governmental power without legitimacy is only coercion or force....” This comes from Dickerson and Flanagan, the 7th edition.

“Power without legitimacy represents coercion—naked force.”

“Coercion is the deliberate subjection of one will to another through fear of harm or threats of harm.”

“When coercion is applied, compliance is not voluntary but results from fear of unpleasant consequences.”

If we look at what happened during the G20 protests outside here at this Legislature and throughout the city, particularly the core of the city of Toronto, we saw instances of coercion. We saw instances where authority was applied without the necessary legitimacy. That’s what this bill seeks to rectify. We understand that it seeks to rectify it because we don’t want to have a situation like this happen again.

At the heart of it is having a free and loving province of Ontario that we all have come to know and love. That’s why we sit in this place each and every day, talking about the future of this province. And we need to make sure that we can do that freely, openly and democratically. I’m going to support Bill 34.

The Acting Speaker (Mr. Paul Miller): Further debate? The member from Davenport—

Interjection.

The Acting Speaker (Mr. Paul Miller): Sorry. Questions and comments?

Mr. Jonah Schein: I’m happy to rise today to speak to this issue. I was among the thousands of people who gathered on the lawn at Queen’s Park on that day. I didn’t come to the lawn accidentally—my colleague yesterday mentioned that he kind of showed up to see what was happening. I came intentionally, because I shared the concerns of thousands of people who gathered there.

I come from a generation of people who grew up with a real concern about a changing globe, a globe that sees less and less democracy, a globe where we see growing corporate power. We’ve been sounding alarm bells on this for years and years.

To me, what I saw on that day, starting out, was a real optimism, a real hope about restoring democracy to the planet and bringing it right here to the Legislature. I saw thousands of people. I saw students, teachers, union members, folks who were unemployed, people who were struggling and people who were there because they were concerned about the environment. I saw, for the most part, people who were willing to demonstrate their concern by marching peacefully through the streets.

What I hoped I would see that day would be that folks there would see their concerns about democracy met seriously, and what happened instead was that people found that their concerns were more real than they could have imagined. They saw brutal police force. They saw an elected government that abandoned them and that sanctioned police brutality on that day.

I’d like to talk more about this, this morning, but this comes far too late. We need to have this debate, but we needed to have it right then. We have not heard an apology from this government to constituents in this city, to small businesses who suffered that day and to people who were detained unlawfully and who were beaten. We need to hear this government come clean about their role and make sure this doesn’t happen again, ever, in this province.

The Acting Speaker (Mr. Paul Miller): Questions and comments?

Hon. John Gerretsen: I listened with great interest to what the member from Cambridge had to say, and it takes much more than two minutes to respond to the number of concerns he brought forward, but let me just make a couple of points.

Number one, no government ever directs the police to do anything. Policing matters are totally within the jurisdiction of the police. Whether we’re talking about a local government—a police commission does not tell the police how to carry out its function, and it’s the same thing here. So I just want to correct that. A lot of things happened on that particular weekend. Certainly, one of the ways to resolve some of those issues is to pass this particular law.

What does this law basically do? It basically makes sure that our court system, the judicial system that we all rely on and that we’re all very proud of in this country, is carried out in the best possible fashion. In order to do that, the court facilities have to be secure. Exactly the same thing can be said for our nuclear facilities as well, because we’ve all seen what’s happened in some parts of the world. You know what can happen with a nuclear facility. There’s always the possibility, and so they have to be as secure as possible.

Let me just talk to you about what democracy is really all about. I was on a council in Kingston for 16 years and a mayor for eight years. I know of no other situation where a mayor can just say on any issue, “We’re going to do this,” and the council takes a direct contrary position. It just doesn’t happen this way. The government of Ontario is prepared to put up $8.4 billion of our tax dollars, all of our tax dollars, in order to deal with the transit situation here in the city of Toronto, but in order for that to happen it has to be done by way of a council resolution that the majority of council, which may or may not include the mayor, agrees upon. We are prepared to invest in transit in this province, as we’ve said before. It’s going to happen one way or another, but it’s not just going to happen because a mayor wants something contrary to what his council wants.

The Acting Speaker (Mr. Paul Miller): Questions and comments?

Mr. Jerry J. Ouellette: I very much appreciate the opportunity to comment on the member for Cambridge’s remarks regarding Bill 34. But before we get to that I also want to comment on the Attorney General’s remarks, where he specifically stated that he wanted to make it clear that no government tells the police. But I think the question that will come out very shortly that I’m going to try to allude to is: Are the police telling the government what to do in this particular situation?

Quite frankly, Mr. Speaker, we saw legislation come forward or bills come forward that drastically changed the direction of a lot of actions within the province of Ontario without coming to the legislative floor. What it was in the government and information that the government received that would cause them to do this is my concern: Where did this information come from and who is directing the government to say, “We need this done and we need it done this way and we need it done in this fashion”—that’s what hasn’t come to light in this whole issue.

Quite frankly, it’s quite surprising that they would bring one aspect of it without coming to the floor and passing the legislation and moving forward with the actions; without coming to the Legislature floor. However, when we’re getting rid of it, now all of a sudden, lo and behold, we have to come to the floor to discuss it.

We need the full details and disclosure as to why and what the government felt was so necessary to come forward; that “This is going to happen.” Was it the police telling the government that this is what’s going to take place?

Quite frankly, coming from a policing family—my father was the chief of police in Thunder Bay. He was 33 years in policing. My grandfather on my mother’s side was a chief constable in his homeland in Poland. So you get a different perspective of policing and the way that it operates. However, I’m still very concerned that that hasn’t come forward yet. Why hasn’t the government more or less given us some indication as to what the real reasons are as to why this was brought forward without coming to the Legislature floor? That’s what this province needs to know.

The Acting Speaker (Mr. Paul Miller): Questions and comments?

Mr. Michael Prue: It was my privilege today to listen to the member from Cambridge. He’s a relatively new member in this House, so I’m still sussing him out to see what he has to say. But I have to say that in listening to him, he was both scholarly and measured in his comments. What he had to say, I think, was absolutely essential and important: He highlighted the fact that this government has yet to apologize for their actions. I think that in his statement, that is absolutely correct. So I was somewhat taken aback when I heard the two-minute comment from the Attorney General, because I don’t know what it had to do with the member from Cambridge’s speech, talking about transit in Toronto.

Hon. John Gerretsen: Well, he talked about it.

Mr. Michael Prue: The member from Cambridge may have made a passing comment on that, but the member from Cambridge used the quotes from Dickerson and Flanagan. The member from Cambridge talked about the role that the cabinet and the hangers-on to the cabinet were playing in conjunction with, although we don’t really know the circumstances, the police and the police forces in Toronto; the decisions that were made to take away the civil liberties of thousands of Canadian citizens and Ontarians who were doing nothing more than exercising their democratic rights. I would have hoped that in the comments about the member from Cambridge, there would have been better comments from the government side than those that were proffered here today.

0920

I commend the member from Cambridge, because he was measured, he was balanced and he was asking the questions that Ontarians, and indeed all people in Canada, need to know about the events surrounding the G20. I think the member from Cambridge should continue on this file and should continue to be asking these questions.

The Acting Speaker (Mr. Paul Miller): The member from Cambridge has a two-minute response.

Mr. Rob Leone: I want to thank the member for Davenport, the Attorney General, the member for Oshawa and the member for Beaches–East York for their comments. Certainly, I also listened to the Attorney General with some interest. I guess the only reason why I brought up the debate on the subway was the quote that I had previously cited. I’m going to repeat that quote, because it’s certainly relevant to this debate: “As difficult as democracy is”—this is from the member for Etobicoke Centre—“as messy as it can be, it’s far better than benevolent dictatorship, or dictatorship of any kind, where you just go in and say ‘Because I know best, this is what you’re going to do.’”

That’s what the member for Etobicoke Centre said yesterday, and I wonder where the member for Etobicoke Centre was precisely when this whole discussion was secretly being talked about behind closed doors around a nice oak cabinet table. Because it’s the secrecy about this—it’s about keeping us in the dark. Well, Minister, I hope to soon be able to see what that cabinet table looks like, when the members of this side of the House actually form the government.

We have a situation in the province of Ontario of gross neglect of our democratic institutions. It’s a pattern that we’re seeing from that side of the House. It’s a pattern that we in the Ontario PC Party hope to end, Mr. Speaker, because we can no longer keep people in the dark, particularly with some significant issues that we’re seeing right here in the province of Ontario with respect to the promises that they made during the last election, with respect to the scandal that we’re seeing at Ornge. It’s a pattern that we’ve seen over and over again, and it won’t change until that government changes, Mr. Speaker.

The Acting Speaker (Mr. Paul Miller): Further debate? The member from Davenport.

Mr. Jonah Schein: Thank you, Speaker. To continue from where I left off, I felt hopeful, at the beginning of that day almost two years ago, that so many people came out on a Saturday to voice their concern, not just about what was happening in Ontario but what was happening around the world. People were expressing a real concern about democracy. They were expressing a concern about lack of sovereignty and about human rights abuses and about civil liberties.

Unfortunately, our government stood up and said, “This is exactly what you should be concerned about. You should be concerned about people’s civil liberties; you should be concerned about people’s freedom. This is a war. This is a war on democracy, on people who want to come out and voice their concerns.” The state came out that day and, in fact, ordered secretly to violate people’s rights.

I think all of us at the very least would agree that we need to restore hope in the political process. None of us appreciates the fact that half the people in this province have given up on electoral politics. It’s harder and harder to convince people that it matters, when we don’t see transparency in our government, when we see things negotiated behind closed doors, when we continue to see things off-loaded and responsibility is not taken at any level, whether it’s passed up the line to the federal government or down to the cities. We are waiting, and people in this city are waiting, for an apology from this government to take responsibility, to say, “This happened in our backyard, and we made it worse. We took a bad situation, and we made it worse.”

Mr. John Yakabuski: “We?” They.

Interjection: Don’t take their credit for them.

Mr. Jonah Schein: The government. Thank you.

So I think the concerns that were expressed that day—people worry that the government is not in control, that it’s actually the corporations that are in control. They’re worried that it’s the corporations that are calling the shots. So when we try to explain to people how it is that we have a government that continues to invest in nuclear power, that won’t make the public investments necessary to reduce our carbon footprint because they’d rather give money to the nuclear industry, we say, “Well, why is this happening?” Is it in the best interests of Ontarians to spend billions and billions of dollars propping up a nuclear industry and giving subsidies to big corporations? Why is it that we’re losing jobs in this province, a province where jobs are walking away; where corporations can come and get a handout without any promise of job guarantees and people lose their jobs? It’s no wonder that people are giving up on the political process here, and it is all of our jobs to restore faith in that process. At some point, it begins with an apology. It begins with acknowledging that there’s a problem here.

I know that people look at what goes on sometimes, and they shake their heads and they say, “What is happening?” How come one day a government will vote to support more corporate tax cuts, with no strings attached, and then, a few weeks later, they turn around and say, “Oh, no, that’s wrong. We won’t move forward with the corporate tax cuts”? How does this happen? Where is the leadership? Where is the spine on behalf of the government? How do you have confidence in a government that will change its mind whichever wind blows?

We were having this debate weeks ago, and the member from the Ministry of Training and Colleges, who represents a Toronto community, was saying that this wasn’t a general meeting of the campfire girls going on in downtown Toronto. He was insinuating that the force that was used that day was necessary to protect against terrorists, and he used those words.

But then, years ago, back in June 30, 2010, he said that people were afraid to disagree with the Toronto police chief, even when he was wrong. He was calling out the police chief then. He says, “The police reaction to [the] last two days can only be described as bizarre.” He gave good reason why a public inquiry was needed. He said, “A country that generously funds police actions and doesn’t fund access to its human rights charter has forgotten its people.”

Yet he comes back last week and says that police force was necessary; this wasn’t the Girl Scouts here; that it was dangerous. And I beg to differ. What happened then—we had the largest mobilization of police in Canadian history, and we had the biggest mass arrest of people over that weekend too. What I saw, when people gathered on that first day here at Queen’s Park, was a highly disciplined crowd of people, people who wanted to voice their concerns about what was happening with the G20. That police force was well equipped to keep things in line.

Interjections.

The Acting Speaker (Mr. Paul Miller): Excuse me. We have two loud sidebars going on. If you’d like to discuss things, could you go out of the chamber, please? Thank you.

Mr. Jonah Schein: Thank you, Speaker. But instead of allowing people to voice their concerns—I should back up and say that this should never have happened in Toronto. It was just absolutely terrible planning.

I do agree with the government, in this case, that the federal government also owes this city an apology for what happened. But it should never have happened, and it was terrible planning that it happened in this city. It cost us over a billion dollars, and I know that that billion dollars could be well used to create jobs in this province, to build a transit plan in this city. There are people who desperately need the services that that money could pay for.

But I also felt bad in some ways. Because it was so poorly planned, we had this huge mobilization of police who didn’t know what to do, or seemingly didn’t know what to do. I think that they probably felt embarrassed after what happened, because they were set up for failure in some ways. They did not have clear direction. I think that the police force deserves to be set up in a way that they can uphold the principles of democracy and freedom of speech, and I think that in a lot of ways, they were set up on that day not to do their job properly.

Interjection.

Mr. Jonah Schein: That’s right.

But my real concern is with the people who were absolutely abused on that day, people who were kettled for four hours at a time, five hours at a time in the freezing rain; people who lived in this city—for days. These were people who lived in this city, who were asked, who were questioned on what they were doing in their own neighbourhood, why they were walking down the street, why they were buying groceries. People were detained for days at a time, without access to a telephone; people were strip-searched—just gross violations of people’s civil liberties over that weekend. And we have not yet heard a clear apology from this government and we have really not moved this forward to make sure this never happens again. I think it’s good that we’re talking about it now, but without a real apology it’s a bit hollow.

0930

And it goes far—in ridings across this province. I know somebody; I don’t know if she’s a constituent, but in Parkdale–High Park this woman was pulled over by police and searched for no reason at all. She was an artist who used spray paint as her medium, so she had a mask in her bag when she was detained. She was held for 48 hours for doing her principal job as an artist. What is the reason that we give that we should host the G20 in Toronto when we can’t even protect people’s civil liberties here at home? It’s absolutely obscene.

I think overall, we need to restore people’s hope that government matters, that we can be a democratic society. We can’t off-load everything; we need to take responsibility. We can’t give the job of setting the budget to a banker. It’s hard to argue with people who are concerned that banks are running—

Interjection: Finance minister Drummond.

Mr. Jonah Schein: Yeah. It’s hard to argue that government matters when we won’t even do our job; when we hire a banker to do the job of the finance minister. It’s hard when we have the two biggest parties here competing on who will cut taxes faster, who will get rid of government faster.

Interjection: You’re backtracking a little bit.

Interjection: Yeah, Jonah, stay on message.

Mr. Jonah Schein: I’m on message.

We need to make sure that people know that we are ready to step up and that, consistently, the NDP will stand up and say, “We’re ready to govern.” We believe in public policy. We know that we can protect civil liberties in this province. We know that we can provide education to our province. We know that we can help people when they’re in trouble. We know that we can create jobs when we work together. We’re going to take responsibility for planning in this province. We’re not going to offload our jobs. We’re not going to make secret deals about how policing happens. We’re not going to hire in bankers to set public policy.

We actually believe that this place should create good public policy that should serve Ontarians, and never was that more clear that that was missing than over that weekend. I know that constituents in my riding and across the city are still waiting for an apology and would like to get to the bottom of this.

The Acting Speaker (Mr. Paul Miller): Questions and comments?

Mr. Jeff Leal: It was interesting, to say the least, to listen to the comments from my colleague from Davenport.

There was an interesting line when Benjamin Disraeli was the Prime Minister of Great Britain. He was in question period one day and was being asked a question from the opposition. The Disraeli government had changed a position after getting some new information with regards to public policy in Great Britain, and Prime Minister Disraeli’s response to the Leader of the Opposition was, that day, “Sir, what would you do if you received new information about your particular position?” So things happen from time to time when positions change.

If you look at this issue, there’s no question: The Public Works Protection Act was brought in in 1939, and the companion act, the War Measures Act, was brought in at the same time, dealing with a set of particular circumstances back in 1939, the advent of the Second World War.

But it’s interesting: I remember when I was a municipal councillor and, from time to time, you would get briefings from the local police service as they would quantify risk factors of particular things that might be happening in a community at any particular time; guns and gangs and other influences that might impact policing in one’s community. There’s no question that the G20 summit held here in Toronto—most of us recognize that that would amount to a significant security risk, having the leaders of the largest economies come right here.

But I want to move on—

Mr. John Yakabuski: Are you defending what you did, Jeff?

Mr. Jeff Leal: My friend Mr. Yakabuski is trying to throw me off this morning but I won’t let that happen—

The Acting Speaker (Mr. Paul Miller): We know that we don’t use names; we use ridings. Thank you.

Mr. Jeff Leal: I apologize, Mr. Speaker. I did not honour the rules.

It’s time that this act, a new act, was brought in to cover these circumstances.

The Acting Speaker (Mr. Paul Miller): The member from Renfrew–Nipissing–Pembroke.

Mr. John Yakabuski: Thank you very much, Mr. Speaker. I must say to the member for Peterborough, the chief government whip: I would have thought that he might have taken this opportunity to stand up and apologize, not try to defend what they did with respect to passing this regulation 233/10 in June of 2010. I heard the member for Davenport speak. We know today, Speaker—and I’ve already spoken to this for an hour, so I won’t get another chance—that the Liberals, the government, the ones that passed this G20 regulation and the ones that have had to bring this legislation to try to get away from it, don’t want to speak to this bill anymore. It’s their bill; they don’t want to speak to it—a few two-minute hits. I would expect that every one of the 54—52, I guess it is, because of the Speaker—members over there would want to take the opportunity during this debate to stand up to the members of this Legislature and to the people of Ontario and say, “If we have nothing else to say, we at least have one thing to say, and that is, ‘We’re sorry. We’re sorry for the abdication of our legal responsibility to govern, and we’re sorry for passing a regulation behind closed doors, hiding it from the Legislature and thereby hiding it from the people.’” I just say that you’ve got an opportunity here. Having said that, an apology doesn’t suffice. When you’ve done something wrong, there are two things that have to happen: You have to have contrition; and there is a price to pay. Just because the criminals say they’re sorry doesn’t mean they don’t go to jail. This government has failed on two accounts, and it must be held to account. On this side of the House, we will do our job.

The Acting Speaker (Mr. Paul Miller): The member from Parkdale–High Park.

Ms. Cheri DiNovo: Thank you, Speaker. First of all, I want to applaud the member from Davenport, who spoke with passion and compassion about what happened those fateful days.

I’d like to quote the Minister of Training, Colleges and Universities, who tweeted on that day, “What happened was wrong and I believe violated our charter rights.” We agree with him. We believe what happened was wrong and did violate our charter rights. I wish he had had the ear of his cabinet. Clearly, not even he knew what was going on behind closed doors. Unfortunately, he had a bit of a change of tune, because later he described or inferred that everybody who was demonstrating on those days were terrorists. I mean, please; I was one of them. I was one of them, standing with Tibetans. Were the Tibetans terrorists? I was one of them, standing with church leaders and people of faiths of all kinds on a Sunday to do a service. Were they terrorists? I was standing with unionists, who covered the grounds of Queen’s Park. Were they terrorists? Those were the ones hurt by the invocation of a secret regulation, done in secret when the Legislature was in session—not even known by Liberal backbenchers. That was only outdone, I might say, in the history of this country by a Liberal Prime Minister who at one point invoked the War Measures Act and suspended civil liberties from coast to coast. That outdid this particular action, but this particular action was right up there. Not only does it demand an apology; it demands an inquiry. We have long called for such: a public inquiry that would hold the cabinet ministers who made that decision to account. That’s what is needed so that we can actually get them on the stand and ask them to account for their actions and tell us what really went on, because we still don’t know. That’s not democracy; that’s an oligarchy at work. And that was this government at work in an oligarchy. The people of Ontario deserve better. Thank you.

The Acting Speaker (Mr. Paul Miller): Thank you. Questions and comments? The Attorney General.

Hon. John Gerretsen: Thank you very much, Speaker. Of course, you know, when you’re in opposition you try to create as much chaos as possible. I’ve been over there. I know the routine. You get together first thing in the morning, and somebody is going to come up with the ultimate question that will bring the government to its knees.

Interjections.

The Acting Speaker (Mr. Paul Miller): Order.

Hon. John Gerretsen: I realize that. Everything here is put on a totally partisan basis. Look, the regulation was passed, but you also know from the various reports that were done that the regulation was used only in a very limited sense. What you’re trying to do is take everything else that happened on that weekend—many things that shouldn’t have happened; I totally agree—and blame it all on this limited resolution that, to my understanding from the various reports that I have read, was only used on one or two isolated occasions of everything else that happened.

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Speaker, you know what I would really hope for—and I come from a municipal background, as do the member from Ancaster and the member from Peterborough. I can honestly tell you, having been here for 17 years—

Interjections.

Hon. John Gerretsen: Just hear me out for a moment—that there are more intelligent debates at most municipal council meetings around this province on an ongoing basis—

Ms. Cheri DiNovo: On a point of order, Mr. Speaker: I’m looking at standing order 23(h), (i), (j) and (k), “Makes allegations against another member.... Imputes false or unavowed motives to another member.” I think that’s what the Attorney General just did to the entire opposition.

Interjections.

The Acting Speaker (Mr. Paul Miller): Stop the clock. Frankly, I did not hear anything of that nature from the Attorney General. I rule that that’s not a point of order. Thank you.

Hon. John Gerretsen: Thank you, Speaker. I would never impute a motive on any member in this House—never have, never will.

As I said earlier, I’ve heard more meaningful debates at council meetings than in this place here, because everybody looks at their speaking notes and blah, blah, blah. The debate here sometimes is pretty awful, and I think we can all agree on that.

The Acting Speaker (Mr. Paul Miller): The member from Davenport has a two-minute reply.

Mr. Jonah Schein: In response to the member opposite, I’m new here, and I respect your years of service here. I’d love to sit down and have a coffee and hear about how we could make debate better here. I would like to hear from you how we can make this a place where we actually serve the needs of folks in Ontario, where we—

Hon. John Gerretsen: Leave all talking points out of here—

Mr. Jonah Schein: Friend, do I look like I’m using—

Interjections.

Mr. Jonah Schein: Speaker, to the member opposite: In fairness, I wasn’t using any talking points this morning. I was speaking from my heart, as somebody who was there, somebody who actually has a real concern about the way this province is governed, about the kind of growing inequality that we see in this province, about the environmental disaster that comes every day because we don’t have proper government regulations—

Interjection: No leadership.

Mr. Jonah Schein: We don’t have leadership. So I speak from my heart as a new person here and as somebody who was on the streets those days. It might seem like a little thing, or you might say that it was only used in a small way, that secret law, but in fact the chill that it puts through a city and a province when people don’t know what rights they have, they don’t know if they are eligible to be searched when they’re going to buy groceries, they don’t know how close they have to be to a fence before they have to show identification—this puts a chill through a city, through a province, and it fundamentally undermines the democratic process, when people don’t know what their rights are and when we have deals secretly negotiated. So I hope that you won’t minimize that concern. Even though it was not used on a mass scale, the implications were massive.

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

The Acting Speaker (Mr. Paul Miller): Point of order?

Hon. John Gerretsen: I respect the member from Davenport, as I respect every member in this House.

The Acting Speaker (Mr. Paul Miller): I’m not sure that was a point of order, but it was a statement. I can’t count that as a point of order; I’m sorry.

Further debate?

Mr. John Yakabuski: Point of order, Speaker.

The Acting Speaker (Mr. Paul Miller): Point of order?

Mr. John Yakabuski: Speaker, I understand that you don’t consider that a point of order. Is there any way that we might consider it an apology?

The Acting Speaker (Mr. Paul Miller): That is not a point of order either.

Further debate?

Ms. Lisa MacLeod: It’s a pleasure to be here today to debate Bill 34. I’m also pleased to join the debate and congratulate my colleagues. From time to time in this chamber, we have disagreements. We all, in this chamber, have our own views that have been shaped by our own histories and by our communities that we represent, that we’ve grown up in. I think that speaks to the heart of this legislation, doesn’t it? It speaks to the legitimacy and the credibility of this parliamentary process that we’ve engaged in, and the lack of one last year.

I’ve heard many people speak on this bill, and some people, I agreed with; others, I didn’t. Elements of some people’s speeches, I agreed with; elements of that same speech, I didn’t. But the reality is, that is why we have debate in this chamber. It is the rules that protect the minority from the tyranny of the majority. And it is in this House where we are expected to have that debate. It’s not every day we’re going to have that great debate on philosophies and how this place should be run, but when it talks about the need to police our streets in an international come-together of nations in one of our major cities not only in this province but in Canada—it’s important that that be brought to this chamber.

I was here last year. We asked some questions in the Legislature about this particular issue. I was one of the members who asked the Minister of Health Promotion at the time why she would allow this secret law to be rubber-stamped at cabinet. It was the Minister of Health Promotion at the time, because there were a number of members of cabinet who sat on that secret committee that rubber-stamped that.

At the time, we were told we had to speak to the Attorney General and ask him the questions, because it dealt directly with his portfolio. But at the time, us in the opposition, and me as one of the folks who actually asked the question, wondered why it went through a regulatory change at cabinet and not as law in front of this chamber. Because at the end of the day, we may have agreed with the Liberals; maybe we would have agreed with the NDP. But the point is, we deserved and we had the right to debate in this chamber, because that is why we are sent to Queen’s Park.

Mr. Rob E. Milligan: It’s called democracy.

Ms. Lisa MacLeod: It is called democracy, as my colleague from Northumberland–Quinte West just pointed out. It is about bringing an idea to this chamber, to represent the people who sent us here to talk about the big issues of the day. None were bigger at that moment in time, in 2010, when people were being charged and arrested, and fear was in the eyes of a lot of people in our country because we saw horrific images on our television sets. I remember sitting in Nepean one day—it was a Saturday—watching the channel with my husband to see what the spectacle was here in Toronto that day.

In the opposition, we’re not the only ones to have had serious concerns over how that secret G20 law—

Mr. Rob E. Milligan: Sneaky.

Ms. Lisa MacLeod: —sneaky G20 law came into being. We know, for example, there is historical context to why this act was put in place. I remember at the time, and colleagues who were here then will tell you, that the Liberals tried to blame a Conservative Prime Minister and a Premier from the 1930s for this legislation. Get with the times. You’ve been in power for three elections now. When are they going to take responsibility? They never want to take responsibility.

Those who were here last week heard probably one of the most remarkable speeches they’re going to hear in the 40th Parliament—and the Attorney General today spoke about people not using talking points when they speak in this chamber. My colleague Mr. Yakabuski from Renfrew–Nipissing–Pembroke, our critic for community safety and correctional services, spoke with great passion about the historical relevance of this bill, how we arrived at that point, and why this party, this Liberal Party, should take responsibility. He told us, for example, about the historical context of the War Measures Act. He actually spoke at great length about his father’s service to this—

Interjections.

The Acting Speaker (Mr. Paul Miller): Excuse me. Could the members in the gallery please take their seats? Thank you.

Sorry. Go ahead.

Ms. Lisa MacLeod: He spoke at great length about his own father’s service, and I was really touched by that, because for all members who are here today, not only was his father a member of this assembly for a great many years, but before that, he actually served in the Second World War. He talked about the historical context of the threat to civilization in the 1940s. It was also at that time that I learned a little bit more about my colleague. I think that’s what we are sent here to do: to learn a little bit more about each other’s point of view and respect that, not sneak legislation through the back door.

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You’ll recall: This wasn’t the only piece of legislation that they snuck through at the time. They also snuck through the eco fees during that same period. It became very clear that this was a government that got lazy, arrogant and entitled and decided to do things their way, not our way.

My colleague talked about Canada declaring a war in September 1939, about three days after it was declared by Great Britain. The federal Parliament of Canada at the time invoked the War Measures Act, and we brought it in through the Public Works Protection Act just after that.

That brings us to 2010, when we saw those horrific images on our television sets during the G20. Then, fast forward, of course, to our Ontario Ombudsman, who produced a report called Caught in the Act. He says on page 9, point 9, “The only way to understand why the Legislature of Ontario would create a statute conferring police powers of this kind is to hearken to history. The Public Works Protection Act is a war measure.”

Interjection: War measure.

Ms. Lisa MacLeod: War measure. “It was enacted in 1939 during an emergency session of the Legislature in the days following the declaration of war against Germany to deal with the threat posed by saboteurs against Ontario’s infrastructure. Guards and peace officers were given the kind of authority one might expect in a time of war or emergency circumstance—the kind of authority that stretches, if not transgresses, constitutional rights.”

The Ombudsman, then, further says, “Yet here, in 2010, was the province of Ontario conferring wartime” measures and “powers on police officers in peacetime. That is a decision that should not have been taken lightly, particularly not in the era of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms.”

Like my colleague from Oshawa, there is a policing background in my family. For years, my father was the chairman of the police commission in the small town of New Glasgow, Nova Scotia. He was also the president of the Canadian Association of Police Boards. He had a service of 26 men. He, of course, got to work with people like Norm Gardner and, at the time, Julian Fantino from Toronto during that period where they had thousands of officers, and they learned to respect and work with one another. I have the greatest respect for our police officers in the city of Ottawa and elsewhere across this province and our nation, but the reality is, at that period in time in 2010, they were equipped with powers that likened those that were to threaten Ontario’s infrastructure during a time of war.

Interjections: War.

Ms. Lisa MacLeod: War, Mr. Speaker. And this government decided at that time to ignore this Legislature so we could not have public debate.

Then, as our friend the Ombudsman, a friend of this Legislature, an officer of this Legislature, said, they were caught in the act.

The Acting Speaker (Mr. Paul Miller): Questions and comments?

Mr. Michael Prue: It’s a pleasure to listen to the member from Nepean–Carleton and her 10 minutes of description of what actually went on.

I noted many catcalls at the beginning of her statements, but I didn’t find anything that she said untoward. What she was talking about is that the government chose to enact legislation akin to the War Measures Act against the citizens of Ontario. She quoted extensively from the Ombudsman, Mr. Marin, and what he had to say about this.

Again, we keep coming back and back to this. The government of the day, the cabinet of the day and the hangers-on around that table knew precisely what they were doing. They have many government tools. They have many tools at their disposal, but they chose to take an act which was intended to protect Canadian interests, particularly property interests, in a time of war. They used that in a time of peace. They used it against people who were not insurgents who were coming to the country to attack our infrastructure, but against people who were out there exercising their legitimate right of self-expression and for people who wanted to simply state that they felt that the world economies and the things that were happening in their lives were not to their liking.

I commend the member for bringing this up. I am still waiting, as she is, for an apology from those who sat around that table. Surely, with the force of hindsight, looking back, I don’t know how anyone around that table could have thought we were in a time of war. I don’t know why anyone sitting around that table would have thought that this was an appropriate action. Please, somebody over there, stand up and do the right thing and apologize to the people of Ontario.

The Acting Speaker (Mr. Paul Miller): Questions and comments?

Mr. Kevin Daniel Flynn: It’s a pleasure to join the debate today, and certainly I’m listening to the other speakers as they bring forward their opinions on this. Some of the things I’ve heard, I think I’d agree with. Some of them are factual and some of them I think are stretched a little bit, and that’s not unusual around this place, I don’t think.

But certainly I think we can all agree that the G20 was held in Toronto and the G8 was held in Huntsville—

Ms. Lisa MacLeod: Point of order.

The Acting Speaker (Mr. Paul Miller): Point of order, member from Nepean.

Ms. Lisa MacLeod: Further to the member from Oakville’s statement, he may want to correct the record. He did impugn motive toward me in suggesting that what I was saying was not factual when I was quoting from the Ombudsman’s report.

The Acting Speaker (Mr. Paul Miller): I’ll rule on that right away. I don’t feel that he did that. I think he was skirting around the issue, but he did not exactly make a comment to you directly. So I’m going to rule that that’s not a point of order.

Mr. Kevin Daniel Flynn: Thank you, Speaker. Certainly I think people are a little more sensitive to what they’ve been saying than others around this place, and from time to time, we will disagree.

The city of Toronto was given four months to come up with a plan for the hosting of the G20. Huntsville was given two years. Obviously there were a number of goings-on that have been discovered since the G8 was held in Huntsville. Questions continue to be asked about what went on up there. I think down here what has happened is that a piece of legislation that’s been around since the 1930s was enacted. In hindsight, it was found to be lacking.

We’ve put forward suggestions as to how that can be changed, as to how that can be improved. The federal government has clearly said that they’re trying to, I think, avoid responsibility for this. The Canadian Civil Liberties Association has said that the federal government is clearly responsible for the G20. It’s time to move on. Everybody is using this, I think, as a bit of a scapegoat.

I think what we’ve got is a way of moving on, and it’s time to move on. This bill is worthy of the support of all members of the House.

The Acting Speaker (Mr. Paul Miller): Questions and comments?

Mr. John O’Toole: I listened quite carefully and attentively—and quietly, I might say—to the member from Nepean–Carleton. I thought she was quite fair in her assessment. It really reflected what I think I heard the Ombudsman say in December; I believe it was in 2010. It was a scathing indictment on the McGuinty government. That’s clear.

Frankly, what we’re asking here today—they won’t stand to defend their own piece of legislation. The report, of course, was Caught in the Act. That couldn’t be any more deliberate an accusation of the government. Impugning motive: There’s the motive by the Ombudsman. Not only that; the only other person that invoked the War Measures Act was Trudeau. They use a hammer when you need a fly swatter.

Now, the issue here is really this: We were never apprised of this in this Legislature, which would have been a fair and reasonable thing to do, and yet they want to blame Stephen Harper for this. It would be my understanding that the G20 was held in Toronto, the largest, most-respected city in Canada probably. So I think there was a lack of leadership on that side, a lack of transparency and a lack of respect, basically, for the people in the Toronto area.

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Not only that; Roy McMurtry, the former Chief Justice of Ontario, also commissioned a report. This report by an independent, well-respected former Conservative Attorney General for Ontario basically redrafted the 1939 legislation. Why didn’t they do that before they had the secret cabinet meeting, and get it right? I have lost trust in this government’s processes to lead the people of Ontario.

The Acting Speaker (Mr. Paul Miller): The member from Parkdale–High Park.

Ms. Cheri DiNovo: Thank you, Mr. Speaker, and thanks to the member from Nepean–Carleton. She always speaks with passion, and she spoke with passion about this. It’s hard not to speak with passion. This was a blight upon Ontario and our reputation around the world; it was a blight on Toronto. I was part of those demonstrations; I’m neither a terrorist nor a murderer, nor were the other thousands that took place peacefully in downtown Toronto and were met with what could only be construed as police violence. This government was behind that.

This government met in secret, invoked a secret regulation that nobody knew about, not even their own backbenchers, while this Legislature was in session. No wonder they were slammed by J.J. McMurtry; no wonder they were slammed by the Ombudsman. They would be slammed by anybody concerned in the least with civil liberties in this province and in the city of Toronto. And yet, what horrifies us in the opposition and what horrifies not only us but anybody concerned with civil liberties across Ontario is the lack of the public inquiry that could call those cabinet ministers and the Premier to account and, quite frankly, what we’re all saying here today: the absolute lack of an apology.

This government is a government in denial. You can look at them now: All their heads are down. They’re guilty. They should be guilty, guilty as charged, and they should apologize.

It was mentioned once that when you’re guilty and you’ve been proven so by not only an Ombudsman but by a special report by a former Attorney General, you do two things: You say you’re sorry and you act that apology out. This, they think, is their apology. This bill is by way of an apology. I look forward to speaking about this bill and its pluses and its shortfalls in a few minutes. But for now, it would be enough just to hear, “I’m sorry.”

The Acting Speaker (Mr. Paul Miller): The member from Nepean–Carleton has two minutes.

Ms. Lisa MacLeod: I’d really like to congratulate my friends for entering into debate today because that is why we’re here: my colleagues from Durham, Parkdale–High Park, Beaches–East York and, of course, Oakville; although I do believe the member from Oakville, had a bit of heifer dust in his speech today. I’d just point that out. I see my friends here from the Ottawa firefighters. I appreciate you being here today.

Look, at the end of the day, the Ombudsman said that this group here was caught in the act. I have the report here. Let me read a section from page 11, section 15. This should clear up everything.

“More importantly, it was grossly unreasonable and unfair for the Ministry of Community Safety and Correctional Services to let regulation 233/10 fly under the radar”—as it did. “No one knew about the regulation until after the news of Mr. Vasey’s arrest under the act went viral. Not the public, not the press, not the administrators of the very city in which it was to be implemented. As our investigation revealed, quite remarkably, not even the Integrated Security Unit Steering Committee lead or key members of the Integrated Security Unit’s G20 Public Affairs Communications Team knew of the regulation.”

They shut out members of this assembly, who are sent here to debate important issues of the day. They did it under the radar, as the Ombudsman said. He finishes with this: “And the Ministry of Community Safety and Correctional Services did nothing to ensure that people would be aware of these powers so that they could govern themselves accordingly.”

We stand here today demanding an apology.

The Acting Speaker (Mr. Paul Miller): Further debate?

Mr. John Yakabuski: Nothing, Speaker. They did nothing.

The Acting Speaker (Mr. Paul Miller): Order. Further debate?

Ms. Cheri DiNovo: It’s an honour and privilege, always, to be able to stand in this place on behalf of the people of Ontario and the incredible people in Parkdale–High Park.

To talk about the incredible people of Parkdale–High Park for a moment, I’ll tell you what happened on the Sunday in my life and in the life of Parkdale–High Park that was during the G20. I’m a United Church minister by trade, as many know, and I went down to the G20. I called for all faith leaders to go down and have a prayer service. People from all denominations went; we gathered and we went down to King Street because of the disruption brought upon us by this government—I’ll talk about that in a minute. We went down to King Street to hold a prayer service Sunday morning.

We gathered and we held that prayer service, only to be met with a riot squad—again, we’re faith leaders here of all denominations—a riot squad, a line of people who looked like Darth Vader moving towards us, clearing us away from King Street. This is our street. These were our streets. Remember that chant? “Whose streets? Our streets.” Well, King Street was our street, nowhere near the meetings of the leaders but close enough that we were cleared off our own street. In fact, one of the faith leader’s church was very close to there; she was cleared away from that as well.

Not wanting to invoke trouble—none of us—I left. I came back to my riding in Parkdale–High Park, only to find, right outside my home on Queen Street, the entire street closed down. Now, I can tell you that Queen Street, Queen and Dufferin, is nowhere close to where the G20 leaders were meeting and discussing. There was no reason to close down Queen Street, and nobody would tell us why, by the way. Shut down completely.

My neighbours, some of them lawyers, came out and asked the police for badge numbers. They were not forthcoming. They asked the police where they were from and on whose orders they were there; that information was not forthcoming. People, of course, were tweeting all over the place. We expected that the police would invoke violence, because all of a sudden we expected hundreds of people to come to Queen and Dufferin from downtown once they heard what was going on there. I went over and spoke to the police person in charge and said, “You know, you’re just inciting violence here by your presence. You’re not helping the matter.”

I was standing, Mr. Speaker, next to an Iraqi war vet who had come up here from the United States. He said he had never seen policing like that. He was trained in the marines.

He said, “Who’s in charge here?”

I said, “Good question. Who’s in charge here?” because it was apparent nobody was.

Finally, they packed up. Finally, they left. One of my favourite chants from that day was—because we’re very good friends with our police people in my riding, the 11th and 14th. Shout-outs and kudos to them; they do a great job. One of the chants that I liked best was: “Whose police? Our police. Who are you? We want our police.” That was part of the problem. These were police from who knows where, brought into a situation that they had no control over and then didn’t know what they were doing in, clearly. So there are problems there.

But the question is: Where did the problems start? Who unleashed this nightmare on the city of Toronto?

Hon. John Milloy: Stephen Harper.

Ms. Cheri DiNovo: I hear a jibe from across the way that it was Stephen Harper. Do you know what? There is enough blame to go around here. I’m absolutely ready to say there—a pox on both their houses, Mr. Speaker. There was some blame to go around. Ottawa, no doubt, is to blame, in part.

But it wasn’t Ottawa that sat around a cabinet table here at Queen’s Park while this Legislature was in session. It wasn’t Stephen Harper; it was, in fact, the Premier of this province who sat around that cabinet table and decided to invoke a little-known regulation meant to be used in wartime in this situation, that both confused and befuddled not only the people of Ontario but the police themselves. It was this government that did that. This government did that and got slammed by the Ombudsman and got slammed by Justice McMurtry for doing so. That’s what happened here.

Now we have Bill 34 that has been brought in that undoes that regulation. But I want to talk about something it also does, which is of a little concern to us in the New Democratic Party and should be of concern to civil libertarians. It also says that, going forward, even though they’re going to get rid of that regulation, it requires any person entering or inside a courthouse to produce identification and provide information to assess their security risk. It also talks about this at nuclear facilities.

I don’t really get the juxtaposition, Mr. Speaker. There were no nuclear facilities in downtown Toronto on that weekend, and, to my knowledge, courthouses were not under threat. The main demonstrations were downtown and around Queen’s Park and around downtown where the G20 was meeting. So why put together these two items? We are very concerned about civil liberties for those who are entering and leaving courthouses. Why aren’t courthouses open to the public? Why shouldn’t they be? These are public facilities. We’re going to be looking for amendments, and I just put that out there because clearly that’s a problem.

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Again, you see the hand of the government here, trying to work almost in secret: “We’ll pass a bill that, yes, we want to get rid of that regulation—but no, we don’t”—a little bit of a poison pill there. We’re going to be looking at that in the New Democratic Party because, again, we don’t want to correct one mistake only to make another.

On the Saturday of that weekend, I was out here demonstrating with Tibetans. There were thousands of Tibetans who were demonstrating about the occupation of their homeland, those same Tibetans who are now immolating themselves—about 23 monks and nuns who have died in Tibet because of the occupation there. Those Tibetans had not seen policing like that, some of them, since they left Tibet and saw the Chinese army at work.

Can you imagine how the police presence felt to all of those immigrants and new Canadians who were demonstrating here, who came to this country, who arrived in Ontario, just exactly because they wanted a country that didn’t use police forces like that? They wanted a country, a province and a city that exercised democracy. Yet they came here only to see people being shoved by people in riot gear, cleared from areas they had no business being cleared away from.

I was here on the Saturday with the Tibetans demonstrating—“those terrorists” and “those murderers,” in the words of the Minister of Training, Colleges and Universities, who, by the way, had a little change of heart, because on that weekend he was tweeting about the fundamental rights of the citizens in his riding being abridged and insulted; then all of a sudden, I guess he got the Liberal Party line, and all of a sudden he’s talking about murderers and terrorists, and the reaction was to deal with them.

Mr. Speaker, I’m not a murderer; I’m not a terrorist. I was there every single day. I was there for a good reason. I was there, like the vast majority, the 98.9% of the people who were there, to demonstrate peacefully, to let the world know about issues we felt were important. That’s why I was there.

What happened was unconscionable. It was, as many have said, a blot upon our history in this province, in our city. Movies have been made about it. People in other countries are talking about it still. The Ombudsman did a report; the Attorney General did a report slamming the government for this. And yet, silence, silence across the aisle—silence. Heads down, guilty expressions, nobody saying nothing: “We weren’t there; we didn’t see anything; we didn’t hear anything.”

This is exactly the sort of situation that we in this parliamentary tradition are trained, brought here and enabled to prevent. I mean, we were elected just to prevent such an occurrence as occurred that weekend, when a government can act single-handedly while a Legislature is in session, undemocratically, without consulting even their own members, to bring in a little-known regulation that can be used to take away, virtually, the civil liberties of its citizens. We were elected—people fought and died to get us elected—to be able to stand up for freedom of speech, civil liberties, freedom of association, all of those good things, all of which were abridged, all of which were insulted on that weekend.

Now, the government wants to have us forget, but I can tell you, Mr. Speaker, we will never forget. People in Parkdale–High Park will never forget. I hear from people from all political persuasions in my riding, saying, “Whatever happened out of that? Who was ever held to account for that? Who paid the price for that? Who had to resign over that one?” The answer I have to give them is: not one person; no apology, no resignation, no answer. Silence, heads down, heads looking away—the kind of silence that the guilty always invoke. I mean, come on. Come on.

This was horrendous. This was chaos. To quote the Attorney General—he wants chaos? That weekend was chaos: hundreds of arrests without cause, hundreds of citizens stopped without reason. That was chaos. He wants chaos? It’s chaos when a government can get away with it without one person apologizing, without one person resigning, with silence across the hall. That’s chaos. That’s chaos waiting to happen.

This regulation or not, Mr. Speaker—even if they take it off the books and this bill is passed? They are still guilty and they still have not said so. We still have not got an apology. Say you’re sorry. Say it now.

Second reading debate deemed adjourned.

The Acting Speaker (Mr. Paul Miller): It being 10:15, this House stands recessed until 10:30 this morning.

The House recessed from 1015 to 1030.

INTRODUCTION OF VISITORS

Mr. John Yakabuski: I would like to welcome today members of the Ontario Professional Fire Fighters Association, who will be visiting members of the Legislature in their offices and also having a reception this evening as part of their annual Queen’s Park day. Welcome.

The Speaker (Hon. Dave Levac): Introduction of guests? This is going to take some time, so let’s be patient.

The member from Hamilton Mountain.

Miss Monique Taylor: Thank you, Mr. Speaker, and good morning. I would also like to welcome the firefighters this morning, and one of our representatives from Hamilton Mountain, or from Hamilton as a whole, Mr. Ron Summers. Welcome.

The Speaker (Hon. Dave Levac): The Attorney General.

Hon. Madeleine Meilleur: Thank you, Mr. Speaker. I’m not yet the Attorney General. It’s coming, but I’m not.

I would like to welcome all the members of the Ontario Professional Fire Fighters Association who are here today as part of their legislative conference. We have Fred LeBlanc and Barry Quinn from the Ontario Professional Fire Fighters Association, and John Sobey and Erik Leicht from the Ottawa Professional Fire Fighters Association. And finally, I would like to acknowledge all the firefighters who are here from across the province this week for meetings with the MPPs.

Mr. Tim Hudak: I want to welcome to Queen’s Park today—and they’ll be joining us in the gallery—two grade 5 classes from St. Martin Catholic Elementary School in Smithville, Ontario. Teachers Frank Wilson and Leanne Szabo are bringing their students here, and I want to welcome them from my home riding here to Queen’s Park.

The Speaker (Hon. Dave Levac): We welcome them.

Member from Welland?

Ms. Cindy Forster: I’d like to introduce four individual firefighters who are here today—Mike Fowler, from Welland; Ryan Madill, Mike Vail and Chris Wheeler, from St. Catharines—and, of course, all the other firefighters who are here with us today. Thanks for being here.

Hon. John Gerretsen: I’m here to welcome a number of Queen’s University students on their annual trip to Queen’s Park, organized by one of our favourite columnists, Christina Blizzard, and they’re all in the media gallery there. I’ll just name them all: Stephanie Beakbane, Dan Bodirsky, Lorenzo Colocado, Rebecca Cuthbert, Summer Danakas, Daniella Davila-Aquije, Alia Elmsary, Sandrine Emmanuel, Janina Enrile, Andrew Green, Moraa Mochama, Marina Makris, Jacqueline Palef, Olivia Robinson, Diego Santesteban, Brittany Shales, Allison St. John and Kelly Whiting. I’m sure they’ll have a great day, meeting—

The Speaker (Hon. Dave Levac): Thank you. The member from Prince Edward–Hastings.

Mr. Todd Smith: Thank you, Mr. Speaker, for recognizing me. I’d like to mention a guest I have here. There are a number of people from Prince Edward county, but one specifically whom I wanted to mention, a former member of federal Parliament in 1979, representing Scarborough West, and he currently lives in my riding of Prince Edward–Hastings: Mr. Bill Wightman.

Mr. Kim Craitor: I, too, want to recognize the firefighters and, in particular, two from my riding of Niagara Falls. Todd Brunning has been a firefighter for 10 years and has been the association president for two years and an executive board member for over five years.

The other individual I want to recognize is David Jarrett, who has been a firefighter for 15 years and holds the rank of acting captain. The captain has been the secretary for three years and a great community leader in Niagara Falls.

Mr. Garfield Dunlop: I’ve got a number of people to introduce, first of all from the Ontario Professional Fire Fighters Association: Michael Gagnon from the Midland firefighters association, and Glenn Higgins and Randy Oldfield from the Orillia firefighters association.

Also from Ducks Unlimited—it’s their lobby day and they have a reception here this afternoon as well down in room 228. There is Julie Cayley, Michelle Stuckless, Joanne Barbazza, Owen Steele, Erling Armson, Kevin Rich and Christie-Lee Hazzard. I know there’s a number of others. I want to welcome them all to Queen’s Park today.

Mr. Jeff Leal: He’s to arrive shortly: Mr. Robert Lloyd, who is president of the Peterborough Professional Firefighters Association.

Mr. John O’Toole: I have two different introductions. The Ontario Professional Firefighters from my riding of Durham: Dan Worrall from Clarington and Dan Bonnar from Ajax.

Also I’d like to recognize students from the Canadian Federation of Students whom I’ll be meeting with today: Chantle Beeso, Clara Ho and Asad Jamal. Welcome to Queen’s Park.

The Speaker (Hon. Dave Levac): The member from Ottawa Centre.

Mr. Yasir Naqvi: Thank you very much, Speaker. I have got a few introductions; I really appreciate it. The family of page Michael Davidson is at Queen’s Park. Michael is from the great riding of Ottawa Centre. We’ve got his dad, Paul Davidson, who lives in Ottawa Centre, here today; Aunt Ann Davidson; and grandparents Ross and Doris Davidson, who live in the riding of Don Valley West. Welcome to Queen’s Park.

The Speaker (Hon. Dave Levac): The member from—

Mr. Yasir Naqvi: I have two more quick introductions, Speaker.

The Speaker (Hon. Dave Levac): Make them very quick. I’m trying to be patient here with everybody.

Mr. Yasir Naqvi: Very quick: Two of Ottawa’s finest firefighters, John Sobey and Erik Leicht, are in Queen’s Park. Welcome.

Mrs. Elizabeth Witmer: I would like to introduce, from the Waterloo firefighters, Brett Gibson and Dean Good. Welcome both of you.

Hon. Christopher Bentley: Jim Holmes, Phil King and Fred LeBlanc: London firefighters and great representatives of the profession.

Mr. Rob Leone: I’d like to introduce firefighters from Cambridge visiting Queen’s Park: John Jetter and Ken Talbot.

Hon. Michael Gravelle: I have a couple of introductions as well. I want to welcome the professional firefighters from Thunder Bay. Eric Nordlund and Phillip Dzuba are here today, and I think maybe others as well.

I also want to welcome Ducks Unlimited. They do tremendous work in the province in terms of restoring and reclaiming our wetlands. There’s a reception, as my colleague pointed out, this afternoon in rooms 228 and 230, from 5 to 7 p.m.—tremendous work. We welcome them very much today.

The Speaker (Hon. Dave Levac): As you could all see, I tried my best to get as many in as possible. We were over the time, and I’ll try to ask for your patience in getting to this as quickly as possible. A friend of mine from Brant, Ed Glover from the professional firefighters, is in the Speaker’s gallery.

I would also advise you that there might be moments where you can slip in some of the introductions that won’t be a point of order and that I will accept.

It is now time for oral questions.

ORAL QUESTIONS

ENERGY POLICIES

Mr. Tim Hudak: My question is directed to the Premier. Premier, we have two major crises in the province of Ontario. We have a spending crisis—we’re heading towards a $30-billion deficit; and a jobs crisis—we have 600,000 women and men unemployed. The problem is that you’ve backed away from most of the recommendations of your own senior economist, Mr. Drummond, and you’ve added about another $4 billion or $5 billion into the hole. As a result you’ve had to make taxes higher than they otherwise would be to pay for all your spending. This is going to hurt job creation even more.

But Premier, my question today is, the real key—one of the other keys to creating jobs in Ontario and opening us up for investment is reliable and affordable energy. Today I’m introducing a private member’s bill to take us down that path away from your expensive subsidies. Will you support that initiative—

The Speaker (Hon. Dave Levac): Thank you. Premier?

Hon. Dalton McGuinty: Speaker, I appreciate the opportunity to engage in this particular discussion. I think it’s always helpful to Ontarians when they know where their leaders stand on the issues. It’s not always easy to tell when it comes to my honourable colleague, the leader of the official opposition. They were against subways; now they say they’re for them. They were against full-day kindergarten; then they said they are for it; and now they’re against it; They were for the HST; then they were against it, and now they’re for it.

But I will give them full marks for consistency when it comes to clean, green energy: They have been unwavering in their opposition to clean energy in the province of Ontario.

I want Ontarians to understand that we favour clean green energy, the jobs that come with that and the clean air that benefits our children—

The Speaker (Hon. Dave Levac): Thank you. Supplementary?

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Mr. Tim Hudak: Well, here’s the problem, Premier: You’ve taken us down a path of very expensive energy rates. One of the historic strengths of the province of Ontario: For 100 years we had lower energy rates than the average of the US states. We were among the most competitive bordering states and provinces. Now, under your expensive feed-in tariff program, we are, as of 2009, above the American average and heading to having the second most expensive energy in all of North America.

I want to see us creating jobs. A key component of that is reliable and affordable energy. Premier, will you take us off the path of your expensive feed-in tariff program? Because quite frankly, it’s costing us even more jobs in the province of Ontario.

Hon. Dalton McGuinty: Again, my honourable colleague confirms once again that he stands foursquare against clean, green energy in the province of Ontario and the jobs and clean air that come with that.

My colleague made reference to the American circumstance. Two days ago, coincidentally, I had a meeting with Governor Pat Quinn, the governor of Illinois. We engaged in a very fruitful discussion, and most of our conversation was devoted to Ontario’s feed-in tariff program and what it is that they might do in the state of Illinois to adopt this kind of a program down there. He wants the jobs there that we’re creating here. He wants the clean air there that we’re enjoying here. He wants the bright future there that we’re building here in the province of Ontario by committing ourselves to an exciting new sector. It’s clean, green energy and it speaks to the promise of the future—

The Speaker (Hon. Dave Levac): Thank you. Final supplementary?

Mr. Tim Hudak: Premier, the problem is that your feed-in tariff program fails basic economic sense. In fact, the Auditor General ripped the lid off of your program and exposed the expensive track that you have us on in his rather scathing report in December 2011. In short, the Auditor General said that we have subsidized exports of power to New York and Quebec because your contracts force us to take power even when we don’t need it. Tom Adams says that we’re heading towards having the second-highest energy rates not only in Canada but in North America.

I want to see businesses creating jobs in Ontario. I want to see us open for investment again, and a key part of that, Premier, is reliable, affordable energy. Why don’t you free up Ontario’s job creators and get us back on the historic track of reliable, affordable energy to power our economy and help us create jobs—

The Speaker (Hon. Dave Levac): Thank you. Premier?

Hon. Dalton McGuinty: Speaker, I know that my honourable colleague is going to want to recognize that, after California, we are the world’s favourite destination in North America for foreign investment. First is California; then there’s Ontario.

We have drawn billions and billions of dollars in new investment in our green energy plan here in the province of Ontario.

Interjection: Where?

Hon. Dalton McGuinty: My honourable colleague says, “Where?” Speaker, there is a manufacturing facility they’re building in Tillsonburg with 400 jobs; another in Windsor with 700 jobs; another in Don Mills with 200 jobs. Farmers, in particular, are the most adamant proponents of our feed-in tariff program—

Interjections.

The Speaker (Hon. Dave Levac): The member from Renfrew, come to order.

Hon. Dalton McGuinty: —and we see them participating in the program—

The Speaker (Hon. Dave Levac): The member will be—

Hon. Dalton McGuinty: —Renfrew county, Perth county, Haldimand county and so many other parts of rural Ontario. Our single strongest group of supporters and champions for feed-in tariff in Ontario, Speaker, is Ontario farmers.

ENERGY POLICIES

Mr. Tim Hudak: You know, Speaker, it’s disturbing to see the Premier looking with envy on California, which is running into bankruptcy. If this is your model for Ontario, it’s frightening indeed.

The Premier’s ignorance of the reaction of small-town and rural Ontario from the last election is frightening as well. He has almost a cult-like zeal for this program that has moved away from any kind of connection to economic reality. Your own Auditor General said that for every subsidized job you create, Premier, you lose two to four jobs in the broader economy: in manufacturing, in resources and in the commercial sector.

Premier, instead of trying to continue to drive off the cliff, let’s reverse course. Let’s get back on track: reliable, affordable energy to strengthen our economy. We want to create jobs in the province of Ontario. I don’t want us to see us become another California. I want to see a strong, proud, prosperous province of—

The Speaker (Hon. Dave Levac): Thank you.

Premier?

Hon. Dalton McGuinty: Speaker, to the Minister of Energy.

Interjections.

The Speaker (Hon. Dave Levac): Be seated, please. Order. The less I have to stand, the better.

Minister of Energy.

Hon. Christopher Bentley: Thank you very much, Speaker. Ontario families, Ontario businesses have been doing a lot of work in the last eight years rebuilding the transmission system, bringing on new generation and cleaning up the air from the mess that was left by the party opposite.

Families and businesses expect power when they flip the switch. They expect the air to be clean; they expect their homes and businesses to be able to work and to function. The reality is, the other party burned coal, the other party invested in dirty air, and the other party had generators on street corners. We’ve taken a reliable, clean approach to energy in this province.

The Speaker (Hon. Dave Levac): Leader, supplementary?

Mr. Tim Hudak: I kind of want to pursue the Premier’s response a moment ago that he wants to turn Ontario into another California. I think that’s a very dangerous economic course to take us on when the state is catapulting towards bankruptcy.

Premier, not too long ago when you were the energy critic, you said the following: “I submit I am not going out on much of a limb when I say there is a direct correlation between Hydro’s rates and our rate of unemployment in Ontario.” Premier, you said, “As the rates go up, so will the rate of unemployment.” That was Dalton McGuinty in 1991.

We’d actually agree with that statement. We think that it’s actually grounded in sensible economics. The problem is, Premier, you’ve become detached from basic economics here. Rates are heading up under your policies to among the highest in all of North America. We have a jobs crisis in Ontario. We want to see businesses powered up and hiring again.

Will you take us off this reckless course of turning Ontario into—

The Speaker (Hon. Dave Levac): Thank you. Minister of Energy?

Hon. Christopher Bentley: You know, Speaker, the job numbers are coming up from our clean and green energy investments—jobs that rely on reliable power.

The previous party did not have reliable power. We had to import it at high cost, but they hid the cost on the taxpayer. They froze the cost and put it on the taxpayer and then they freed up the market and put it on the taxpayer, and that’s why we’re all paying a debt retirement charge right now—still paying.

We’ve invested in clean air instead of hiding the $4 billion on the health payroll. We’ve invested in clean energy jobs, which affects every part of this province. I think the people of Ontario want to breathe clean air, have good jobs and have the clean energy jobs that go with those investments.

The Speaker (Hon. Dave Levac): Final supplementary?

Mr. Tim Hudak: Again, I’d just like to ask the Premier more about his plans to turn Ontario into another California. Premier, your jobs plan is obviously badly broken. We have the combined populations of Brampton and Burlington out of work today in Ontario: some 600,000 unemployed.

Now, before you said we should be like California, you used to say we should model ourselves after France and Germany and Spain and Italy when it came to the feed-in-tariff program, which they started about—what?—10 years ago.

Premier, they’re now moving away from that. In fact, they’re ending the subsidies in those countries and dramatically moving away. It’s an experiment that has failed everywhere else it has been tried. You seem to be wanting to double down.

I’ll ask again: In the sense of economic reason, don’t take us down California’s path; get back to basics here in Ontario—reliable, affordable energy so we can create jobs in Ontario again.

Hon. Christopher Bentley: We have invested in clean air and the clean energy jobs that go along with it. You know, from the depths of the economic recession, we’ve attracted $27-billion worth of investment to the province of Ontario. Those billions of dollars of investment have already produced 20,000 jobs, and we’ll soon be up to 50,000 jobs. But more than that, Speaker, even more than that, those investments have already meant over a billion dollars in investment for local communities and community owners of property in those areas—a billion dollars of investment from the taxes and the fees. The fact of the matter is that every part of this province has been touched by investments in green energy.

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If you don’t stand for clean air, if you don’t stand for green energy jobs, where do you propose to find the jobs in the future? Come to green.

MANUFACTURING JOBS

Ms. Andrea Horwath: My question is to the Premier. The government handed out more than $30 million to Navistar, only to watch Navistar then ship nearly 2,000 jobs to Mexico. We requested the contract that was signed with Navistar, and the government, of course, refused to provide it, so we went ahead and we got it through the freedom-of-information process. However, when we received the contract, job targets, investments and all sorts of other pieces of information were censored from the contract.

Can the Premier tell us why the government is hiding information about multi-million-dollar handouts to a company that sent 2,000 jobs to Mexico?

Hon. Dalton McGuinty: To the Minister of Economic Development and Innovation.

Hon. Brad Duguid: I’m pleased to have this opportunity to speak a little bit about the Navistar situation and Navistar’s decision. It was unfortunate it closed its Chatham truck plant after a very long process that goes back to 2002, when it initially announced that it was going to close this plant. I guess the NDP’s position, in retrospect, is that we shouldn’t have fought hard to save those jobs in Chatham that were preserved for many, many years, since this plant was going to close down in 2002.

Our investment and the federal investment in Navistar, Mr. Speaker, turned out to—in the end, Navistar decided to leave. But our investments preserved those jobs in Chatham for many, many years, and we did indeed hold them accountable for the investments that they did not make on top of what they were supposed to make, and we did claw back a portion of the amount that they received.

The Speaker (Hon. Dave Levac): Supplementary?

Ms. Andrea Horwath: Speaker, I’ll remind the minister that the NDP’s position is that there should be strings attached to the money that the Liberals give away to these corporations.

Navistar broke their contract. In August 2011, then-Minister of Economic Development Sandra Pupatello told the Windsor Star that she didn’t expect to recoup very much at all of the $30-million investment.

Will the Premier tell us exactly how much he expects to recoup and why the then minister didn’t think it was going to be very much at all?

Hon. Brad Duguid: I’m pleased to share with the member the amount that we got back. I believe it’s in the range of $5 million to $6 million in total that came back to the province as a result of this investment.

The fact is that Navistar made a $151-million investment following the negotiations with the federal and provincial governments. They fell short of the investments they were going to make; they were going to make an investment of $173 million. In all, they didn’t make the entire investment they were going to make. But at the end of the day, what happened is, people stayed working in Chatham; hundreds of workers stayed working there over many, many years. Eventually, Navistar decided to leave. We regret that decision, but this government stood up for those workers and we fought hard for their jobs, and that’s something we’re proud of doing.

The Speaker (Hon. Dave Levac): Final supplementary?

Ms. Andrea Horwath: Speaker, Navistar’s US employment levels are up 166% since 2010. In Springfield, Ohio, Navistar is adding new union jobs to their working ranks. As the Premier may know, Ohio provides job creation tax credits instead of handouts to companies. We have put forward positive proposals to actually help create good jobs in this province, but Ontario keeps following a failed strategy of handouts to companies that ship jobs away.

Is the Premier going to listen to us, or is he going to stick to the status quo that just hasn’t been working in Ontario?

Hon. Brad Duguid: Mr. Speaker, it’s becoming increasingly obvious that the NDP are just not on our side when we make important investments that leverage private sector investments in this province and create jobs. It’s becoming increasingly obvious that the NDP are just not on the side of Ontario workers. They used to be one day; I don’t know what happened.

Mr. Speaker, why would the NDP not want to support our investments, for instance, in Kellogg Canada in Belleville, which created 60 jobs? Why would they not want to support our investments in Anaergia in Burlington, which created 206 jobs? Why would they not want to be supporting our investments in Liquiforce in Kingsville, 88 jobs; or how about the GE smart grid in Markham, 146 jobs?

The Speaker (Hon. Dave Levac): Answer.

Hon. Brad Duguid: I can go on and on. We are working very hard—

The Speaker (Hon. Dave Levac): Thank you.

Hon. Brad Duguid: —making important investments.

TAXATION

Ms. Andrea Horwath: My next question is to the Minister of Finance. The Minister of Finance recently called on the federal government to end corporate income tax writeoffs for luxury business perks like sports boxes and meals. Now, if the minister has a problem with this sort of writeoff, why did he sign the HST agreement that does the exact same thing?

Hon. Dwight Duncan: Mr. Speaker, in fact, that’s just simply inaccurate. The HST doesn’t do the same such thing, so that’s just fiction on the part of the leader of the third party, and that’s part of her problem—they just don’t get it.

Mr. Drummond indicated in his report and strongly recommended as we move forward that we need to eliminate what he termed tax expenditures; that is, areas where government chooses to forgo revenue for a couple of reasons: One, they’re not very accountable; two, as Mr. Drummond indicated, we now have a very competitive corporate tax system. No one less than President Obama is now advocating a similar thing.

I hope the leader of the third party would support us as we continue to build a competitive tax structure for all businesses and individuals.

The Speaker (Hon. Dave Levac): Supplementary?

Ms. Andrea Horwath: Speaker, in tough times, generous handouts like these on luxury items make very little sense, especially to families who are paying more than ever and watching things like emergency rooms across the province shut down. Now, if the minister opposes these kinds of handouts, why is Ontario piling on and planning to increase the giveaways by over $1 billion annually, allowing businesses to write off their HST as well?

Hon. Dwight Duncan: You know, the member opposite might want to turn to her colleague immediately right, who was on TFO supporting subsidy to the horseracing industry, Mr. Speaker. We managed to capture that.

Mr. Speaker, I would say this: The NDP—

Interjections.

The Speaker (Hon. Dave Levac): Minister of Energy.

Hon. Dwight Duncan: That indicates how they’re galloping off in—

Interjections.

The Speaker (Hon. Dave Levac): As soon as I get quiet, I get someone who likes to use the quiet to shout something. The member from Simcoe–Grey and the member from Nepean–Carleton will come to order.

Hon. Dwight Duncan: That shows how the NDP are galloping off in every direction possible. The fact is, we will be bringing forward a budget. I do agree with the member opposite, unlike the federal government, that health care and education should be a priority over supporting generous corporate tax cuts that are designed and were brought into place, as Mr. Drummond pointed out, at a time when the tax system wasn’t competitive. Now that it’s competitive, we think they need to be looked at.

The Speaker (Hon. Dave Levac): Thank you.

Hon. Dwight Duncan: On the particular one she mentioned, we would need the federal government—

The Speaker (Hon. Dave Levac): Thank you.

Interjections.

The Speaker (Hon. Dave Levac): Look, I’d like to remind a couple of you of a few things: Number one, I’ve made it quite clear that when I say, “Thank you,” that should be the moment in which you sit down, after the answer when I ask you, “Answer” or ask you, “Question,” and I don’t have to stand up. If I have to stand up, it means that you’re ignoring the Chair. That’s not appropriate.

Final supplementary.

Ms. Andrea Horwath: Speaker, we hear a lot of hot air from the minister and a lot of the same old ideas. The minister called those handouts a subsidy. Now, how can he claim on the one hand that the corporate income tax loophole is a bad one and should be closed while, at the same time, the HST loophole is a good one and should be open?

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Hon. Dwight Duncan: Again, the member opposite doesn’t understand how it works. The NDP are trying to have it every which way. They want to raise corporate taxes; they want to keep these generous subsidies in place. They voted against it when we cut personal taxes on the first income tax bracket and took 90,000 people off the tax rolls entirely.

Mr. Speaker, we have created a competitive tax environment for business. We welcome some of her proposals; they’re very reasonable. We look forward to working with the third party after we bring in the budget to ensure that our tax system and our economy continue to be fair and competitive for all Ontarians.

AIR AMBULANCE SERVICE

Mr. Frank Klees: Speaker, my question is to the Minister of Health. The Minister of Health has agreed to support the establishment of an all-party select committee if it is the will of the Legislature. The PC caucus and the NDP caucus expressed their will more than a week ago in a joint press conference.

We continue to hear from front-line paramedics, dispatchers and people in administration at Ornge that, because senior managers are still in charge there, nothing has changed. They want to come forward. They want to give us information about how we can restore confidence in Ontario’s air ambulance service.

I would like to know from the minister: When can we expect to have a motion tabled that will establish a select committee of the Legislature on Ornge?

Hon. Deborah Matthews: Speaker, it’s very clear that the issue of Ornge is one that is of significant interest to the people of this Legislature. There will be several opportunities for members of this Legislature to have much by way of conversation about Ornge. We will be introducing legislation that will bring enhanced transparency, accountability and oversight to Ornge. That, of course, will go to committee. The Auditor General will be releasing his report shortly. In fact, I have exercised section 17 of the Auditor General Act and I’m asking him to table that as quickly as possible. I fully expect that members of the Legislature will want to examine that as well.

We believe in transparency. We believe that sunshine is the best disinfectant. The members of this Legislature will have ample opportunity to talk about Ornge.

The Speaker (Hon. Dave Levac): Supplementary?

Mr. Frank Klees: Speaker, we don’t want to have a conversation about Ornge; we want to have a select committee so that we can get to the bottom of what that issue is.

Front-line employees at Ornge are getting more frustrated by the day, and it’s precisely because of the kind of rhetoric that we’re hearing from the minister today. They hear the minister quoting CVs of board members. They see the minister condoning the ongoing work of front-line senior managers whose fingerprints are all over the mess at Ornge. Patients are still at risk on a daily basis because the minister refuses to act.

Here’s from an email this morning from an employee:

“I look forward to seeing an all-party select committee concerning Ornge. I have information that will shed some light on the mindset of personnel at the head office.”

Speaker, why can’t the minister understand how important that select committee is and that we have to get to the bottom of it? Why will the government not give us what she promised—

The Speaker (Hon. Dave Levac): Thank you.

Interjections.

The Speaker (Hon. Dave Levac): Be seated, please. Thank you.

Minister of Health.

Hon. Deborah Matthews: I think it’s very important that we let those objective reviews take place. The OPP is engaged in an investigation about some of the allegations at Ornge—the Auditor General, Speaker.

My focus is on moving forward. My focus is on fixing the problems at Ornge. We are taking important, significant steps in that regard, and front-line staff tell me that they can see a tangible difference in the quality of care that they are allowed to deliver now at Ornge.

It’s important that we continue to make progress at Ornge. Part of that is a new performance agreement; part of that is new legislation. I’m sure the member opposite will have a lot to say when that legislation is introduced, and I look forward to hearing what he and other members have to say about this legislation.

AIR AMBULANCE SERVICE

Mme France Gélinas: Ma question est pour le premier ministre. Speaker, the Premier hasn’t answered a single question in this House about Ornge. Since more information surfaced about his top adviser receiving a 35-page document outlining the web of for-profit—

Interjection.

The Speaker (Hon. Dave Levac): The member from Durham will withdraw.

Mr. John O’Toole: Withdraw.

The Speaker (Hon. Dave Levac): The member from Nickel Belt.

Mme France Gélinas: Thank you, Mr. Speaker; sorry. My question is simple: Will the Premier, not his Minister of Health, explain to Ontarians why his top adviser didn’t raise alarm bells before Ornge hit the 6 o’clock news?

Hon. Dalton McGuinty: To the Minister of Health.

Hon. Deborah Matthews: Speaker, I think it’s very important that people understand that the January meeting has been in the public domain for some time. There was a series of steps that did result, Speaker, that culminated in my calling the senior leadership of Ornge into my boardroom and telling them that I expected them to co-operate with the Auditor General, to co-operate with my ministry officials and release information that had been requested for some time.

When that information finally started to be released, it became apparent that there were serious problems at Ornge. We’re acting on that information. We’ve pulled in resources, including a forensic audit team from the Ministry of Finance. That work is under way now, Speaker. The OPP is investigating.

The Speaker (Hon. Dave Levac): Supplementary?

Mme France Gélinas: Back to the Premier, Mr. Speaker: This morning the Premier put all the blame on Dr. Mazza, but we know that three employees from the Premier’s office, including his principal secretary, were told about the Ornge scheme 14 months ago. Has the Premier spoken to his adviser about what they knew about Ornge? And if so, how come it didn’t raise alarm bells before it hit the front page of the paper?

Hon. Deborah Matthews: Speaker, there are significant changes under way at Ornge right now. As I have said, the front-line staff acknowledge that and are very grateful for the steps we have taken.

As we move forward to rebuild Ornge, I look forward to the co-operation and the input from all members of this Legislature. The new legislation will allow us to have much more oversight. It will set the stage for a stronger air ambulance service as we move forward. But I have every confidence in the new leadership to make the kind of changes that we all expect as Ontarians.

CONCUSSIONS

Ms. Soo Wong: My question is for the Minister of Education. Before I came to Queen’s Park, I had two careers: one as a nurse and the other as a school board trustee. As both a health care professional and an educator, I have a unique perspective on the dangers that head injuries pose to our children.

Mr. Speaker, concussions are a growing problem. A concussion is described as a mild traumatic brain injury, and it usually happens after a blow to the head. As we learn more about concussions, we learn how big an impact brain injuries can have on people, especially our kids and teens.

Would the Minister of Education please tell the House what the government is doing to protect kids from head injuries?

Hon. Laurel C. Broten: I want to thank the member for Scarborough–Agincourt for the question and her interest in this important issue. As I said yesterday, concussions don’t discriminate. They can derail the career of our best hockey players in North America, and we saw one of them being able to return to play and return to contact yesterday. But they can also derail the academic careers of our students, and yesterday we heard from students, student athletes, whose academic careers had been derailed as a result of concussions. What we’ve learned is that we haven’t always responded in the right way. We haven’t known enough about concussions.

We do know now, and that’s why we’ve introduced legislation to make sure that all of our boards, all of our teachers, all of our parents and all of our students know how to protect themselves, how to prevent a concussion, how to manage a concussion and make sure that when they do return to play or return to learn, they do so in a way that keeps the health of their brain—

The Speaker (Hon. Dave Levac): Thank you. Supplementary?

Ms. Soo Wong: Mr. Speaker, I thank the minister for her response. There was a recent story in a local Ontario newspaper about a teenager who suffered from a concussion while cheerleading. She had difficulties returning to her studies and her parents are concerned about the impact that her head injury has had on her grades.

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Sometimes post-concussion symptoms like headaches and dizziness can last for weeks or even months after the initial injuries. As the minister said, concussions can be tricky to diagnose.

Can the minister tell us how Bill 39 can help to protect students and provide support to teachers and parents from concussions?

Hon. Laurel C. Broten: Unfortunately, Speaker, the story that my colleague read in the paper is all too common. What Charles Tator, one of the amazing experts in Ontario, told us yesterday is that the best thing we can do to protect our kids is empower them: have them know and understand, and how to describe what they’re feeling—what has happened as a result of that injury.

Bill 39 is just one part of a cross-ministry comprehensive strategy that brings together the Ministry of Tourism and Culture and the Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care to boost awareness across the province, to make sure that all of us have the information that we need to make the right decisions to protect our kids in our schools, in our parks, in our playgrounds and in our homes. We will make sure that our kids are healthy and safe in Ontario.

AIR AMBULANCE SERVICE

Mrs. Elizabeth Witmer: My question is for the Minister of Health. For six years, the Nishnawbe Aski Nation has been requesting a coroner’s investigation into the death of Sheila Childsforever, a 54-year-old woman who died on an Ornge air ambulance, but the request has been denied for six years. Now the CBC has uncovered an initial coroner’s investigation statement which states that the delay in the air ambulance service “had some bearing on this patient’s outcome.”

Minister, given the mounting evidence that the operational protocols at Ornge have put lives at risk and may possibly have contributed to patient deaths, will you now accept our call for a select committee to make sure all lives are protected in the future?

Hon. Deborah Matthews: The member opposite knows that it is the coroner who decides whether a coroner’s inquest will be held or not, so I would hope that the member would recall that in her questions.

However, Speaker, what I can tell you is that I have to take exception to a comment she made. We are very proud of the safety record at Ornge. That is not to say that there isn’t more that can be done, and that’s why the new board is very much focused on measuring safety, on reporting safety. In fact, in our new legislation, we will be requiring Ornge to notify the public of their quality improvement plan, just like our hospitals have done, because we know that if we measure it, we can improve it. That’s vitally important when it comes to safety and quality of—

The Speaker (Hon. Dave Levac): Thank you. Supplementary?

Mrs. Elizabeth Witmer: Mr. Speaker, I didn’t ask for a coroner’s inquest. I asked for a select committee.

Each day we hear of new deaths that occurred when people were being transported by Ornge. I raised one about the gentleman from Sault Ste. Marie the other day.

The public in the province of Ontario have lost confidence in Ornge. It is time to investigate what happened in the past and restore that public confidence. Moreover, the families of those who have died are looking for answers, just as the Nishnawbe Aski Nation is.

I say to you today, Minister, I believe these deaths and all of the other questions underscore the need for a select committee. Will you restore public confidence and file a motion for a select committee?

Hon. Deborah Matthews: Speaker, there is a lot of work going on right now. There is the work of the Auditor General. The Auditor General will, of course, report to this Legislature, and I fully expect that members of this Legislature will have questions concerning the Auditor General’s report. The OPP is doing their work. We must let them do their work. We are introducing legislation. That legislation will go to committee.

We are moving forward on bringing change to Ornge, and that work, I expect, is supported by the people of this province. They want to know that they can count on air ambulance; they want to know that we’re fixing the problems and that we’re taking steps to make sure they don’t happen again.

MINING INDUSTRY

Ms. Sarah Campbell: To the Minister of Northern Development and Mines: Members of KI First Nation are here again today to fight for their rights, as this government has failed to respect the moratorium on KI land. God’s Lake Resources has refused to stop exploration on KI’s traditional land, and they’re set to start drilling at any time.

This government made changes to the Mining Act that were meant to assure First Nations that conflicts would be minimized and that they would be equal partners. It’s clear that this has not been the case. Why does this government allow the escalation of tension to continue on this issue, and why won’t the minister meet with Chief Donny Morris to work out a solution?

Hon. Rick Bartolucci: Nothing can be farther from the truth than that—what was said in the form of a question. Over the course of the last three years, our ministry people asked to meet with the KI community to talk about those issues. To date, that request has not been answered. But, because we understand the sensitivity within that particular area, we withdrew those lands from exploration and development.

We believe that it is very, very important that everyone, as this government does, understands its duty to consult, its duty to engage, to ensure that a First Nations community and a mining company come together so that there can be some commonality of purpose and—

The Speaker (Hon. Dave Levac): Thank you. Supplementary?

Ms. Sarah Campbell: It’s true that over the weekend the government removed land from development, but it failed to deal with the most pressing issue, which is God’s Lake Resources that is scheduled to start drilling soon.

Not long after members of KI were thrown in jail for standing up for their community, this government promised a Mining Act that would respect First Nations, but drilling is still being planned on sacred burial sites.

I will ask again: Why does this government allow the escalation of tension to continue on this issue, and why won’t the minister meet with Chief Donny Morris to work out a solution?

Hon. Rick Bartolucci: I’m not going to repeat what I said, but we have been, for the last three years, trying to get a meeting with the community so that we can talk about their concerns. That offer is still on the table.

But let me tell you: We are doing anything but raising the temperature; in fact, we are lowering the temperature to ensure that that type of negotiation can take place. Our modernization of the Mining Act clearly indicates that we support the Supreme Court of Canada’s rulings that there must be a duty to consult. There has to be also a reciprocal duty to respond.

We understand the importance of dialogue, of discussion, because we want to ensure that everyone maximizes the opportunities there are with regard to mineral exploration and development.

FIREFIGHTERS

Ms. Tracy MacCharles: My question is for the Minister of Health and Long-Term Care. The people of my riding, Pickering–Scarborough East, know how vitally important firefighters are to Ontario families. In fact, I know this first-hand, coming from a long line of firefighters—my father and my two uncles—and I know of the great work that firefighters do in Pickering–Scarborough East.

It’s important that emergency services are integrated and seamlessly delivered to provide the best possible care to those who need it most. All Ontarians understand how every second counts when responding to an emergency call. The faster our first responders are able to respond to an emergency, the better their chances are for our folks affected by emergencies and to allow the responders to do the great work that they do. Furthermore, I move we continue to build a patient-centred health care system.

Through you, Mr. Speaker, I ask the minister how she will work to improve care for patients, particularly those in emergency dispatch systems.

Hon. Deborah Matthews: Thanks very much to the member from Pickering–Scarborough East for the question. I’m very proud of our early adopters program, which will begin later this month. This is a program that notifies both fire and ambulance simultaneously in the event of an emergency call for medical assistance. It means that patients will get faster care when they need it the most.

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I’m very pleased that our government is supporting this program. It’s more than $4.3 million over the next five years. We’re going to have four pilot sites. Those pilot sites are in Kitchener, in Mississauga, in Barrie and in Guelph. Speaker, 911 operators will have access to a real-time view of ambulance locations. It means faster access to care when people need it the most.

The Speaker (Hon. Dave Levac): Supplementary?

Ms. Tracy MacCharles: Thank you. Just recently, my constituents in Pickering–Scarborough East—and all Ontarians, for that matter—were reminded of the vital role our front-line responders play when they witnessed the efforts to help those injured in the tragic Via Rail train crash in Burlington. The Toronto Sun reported that “it was a real show of teamwork as police, fire, ambulance and CN and Via Rail staff worked in unison to identify who was pinned on the train, who was hurt and who needed to be treated first.” Our firefighters respond to tragic accidents; that’s the nature of their jobs. They support victims in life-threatening situations.

Speaker, through you to the Minister of Health and Long-Term Care, can you explain what the McGuinty government has done to help support Ontario firefighters?

Hon. Deborah Matthews: To the Minister of Community Safety and Correctional Services.

Hon. Madeleine Meilleur: Let me thank the member from Pickering–Scarborough East for raising this important issue. First, I want to offer my deep condolences to the families of the victims, and I wish a quick recovery to all of those who were injured in the tragic accident.

Secondly, I would like to take the opportunity to thank the firefighters who are here today and those who are at home keeping us safe. Thank you very much.

That’s why the McGuinty government passed presumptive legislation supporting firefighters who develop cancer or suffer a heart injury as a result of their jobs, providing compensation to the families of firefighters who suffer from work-related injuries unless shown otherwise—specifically, eight forms of cancer and heart injury suffered within 24 hours of fighting a fire. So I want to thank them all for getting up every day and making sure that we are all safe in our communities.

AIR AMBULANCE SERVICE

Mr. Frank Klees: No one is more disappointed at the minister’s hands-off attitude at Ornge than the front-line paramedics, pilots and dispatchers, the people who work there—

The Speaker (Hon. Dave Levac): To the minister?

Mr. Frank Klees: To the Minister of Health.

No one is more disappointed in the minister’s attitude. She refers to the Auditor General’s report. She refers to police investigations. She refers to legislation that she’ll bring forward. None of that has anything to do with our request for a select committee. Those can take place in parallel. I point the minister to the Gomery investigation, which had an RCMP investigation going on in parallel.

The Speaker (Hon. Dave Levac): Question?

Mr. Frank Klees: I say to the minister now: Allow those things to take place, but express some urgency at what is going on at Ornge. Allow those employees to come forward and testify and bring forward—

The Speaker (Hon. Dave Levac): Thank you. I remind the member to please adhere to what I requested.

Minister of Health?

Hon. Deborah Matthews: Speaker, I absolutely have a sense of urgency. That’s why I’ve taken the very significant steps that I have taken to clean up what we found at Ornge. That’s why I called in a forensic audit team; that’s an extraordinary step that is very rarely taken. I referred this matter to the Ontario Provincial Police. They are doing an investigation. That reflects the urgency of the situation.

We have replaced the entire board of directors with a very high-calibre board of very competent people who take their responsibility to the public very, very seriously. We have replaced the CEO. There are many changes that have already been made at Ornge, and there will be more changes. We are driving forward with a new performance agreement and with new legislation—

The Speaker (Hon. Dave Levac): Thank you. Supplementary?

Mr. Frank Klees: Speaker, what we see across the way from the minister, as well as from the Premier, who has refused to answer even the most basic of questions about this important issue, is simply a waste of time while patients continue to be at risk, according to information we have from front-line medics, from front-line pilots and from front-line administrators at Ornge.

Speaker, if the Premier and the minister refuse to show leadership on this issue and bring forward a motion, we will show leadership on this issue. We will table our motion by 5 o’clock this evening to ensure that this House has an opportunity to express its will on that issue.

Hon. Deborah Matthews: I think that the people of this province expect me to take my responsibility as Minister of Health and Long-Term Care very, very seriously. I do take that responsibility seriously, and that is why I have taken the very unusual steps that I have taken at Ornge.

We are moving forward with new legislation. We’re moving forward with a new performance agreement. We have the right board in place. Barry McLellan is heading up the safety committee. Patient safety is the number one issue. Winding down the for-profits is under way. We are addressing the fiscal challenges and fiscal irregularities.

We also need to remind all people who work in health care that they have a fundamental responsibility to the people of this province. They must never, ever lose sight of their responsibility to the people they are there to serve.

EXECUTIVE COMPENSATION

Ms. Andrea Horwath: My question is to the Premier. Today, the Premier announced an MPP pay freeze. He said that it’s about leading by example. So my question is: Will he finally put a hard cap on the salaries of CEOs in hospitals and other public sector CEOs?

Hon. Dalton McGuinty: Speaker, we are facing a significant challenge in terms of the deficit before us, but it’s also a time of great opportunity for us to transform government and deliver better services in a more efficient way.

We’ve asked our teachers to be part of the solution. It’s not an easy thing we’ve asked of them, but we’ve been great partners. I’m confident we’ll find a way forward. We’re asking our doctors to be part of this. In fact, we intend to ask all our public sector partners to be part of the solution when it comes to eliminating our deficit and preserving the quality, and indeed enhancing the quality, of our public services.

I think it’s important that all of us lead by example. We’ve had an MPP freeze in place for three years. I am proposing that we introduce a bill in this House that would extend that for another two years. That would be five successive years of pay freezes for Ontario MPPs, so that when we come to the challenge, we do so from an exemplary position.

The Speaker (Hon. Dave Levac): Supplementary?

Ms. Andrea Horwath: Well, Speaker, the fact remains that the Premier’s so-called wage freeze for hospital executives has enough holes in it to drive a forklift through. It doesn’t apply to bonuses and other perks, which are going through the roof.

Last month, when CEO contracts were revealed by hospitals, families found out that the former CEO of London’s hospitals received a $1.2-million bonus just for staying on, on top of his $800,000 annual salary.

To make sure that every single dollar goes to front-line care, why won’t the Premier just put a hard cap on CEO salaries in hospitals and the public sector?

Hon. Dalton McGuinty: Speaker, the fact of the matter is that my honourable colleague is on to an important issue.

We have done some things. We have made some inroads. We have, for example, mandated that hospital boards tie CEO compensation to performance, and there are specific measures that they can follow in that regard. But the honourable member opposite does raise an issue, and I would like her to know that I have asked the Minister of Finance to give some very careful consideration to additional measures—

Interjections.

Hon. Dalton McGuinty: —they can’t take yes for an answer, Speaker—to explore some potential additional measures in the budget that address the specific kinds of concerns raised by my honourable colleague.

FARM SAFETY

Mr. Jeff Leal: My question this morning is to the Minister of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs. For many of my constituents in Peterborough, farm safety will be particularly top of mind, as next week is recognized as Canadian Agricultural Safety Week.

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Farms are work sites like any others, and farm workers, too, must be provided with a safe and healthy work environment. Farmers and farm workers know that everyone has a role to play in ensuring that there are viable solutions for keeping them safe on the farm. Most farmers tell me it’s an important and essential component of their day-to-day farm operations.

Minister, what kinds of initiatives are being undertaken by your ministry and our partners in the agricultural sector to promote safe farm practices in Peterborough and in Ontario?

Hon. Ted McMeekin: I want to thank the member from Peterborough for that question. Speaker, our government is committed to ensuring the health and safety of all farm workers. The Canadian Agricultural Safety Week, of course, gives us an opportunity to reflect on that work and to see just how we can improve on it.

For some 15 years now, my ministry has been working with Safe Workplace Promotion Services Ontario, and in partnership with OMAFRA, we’ve initiated a number of safety opportunities. The agricultural Safety Days, for example, have allowed us to focus on educational safety and training for children and their families. Our Safety Days summer camp program has reached about 1,800 children each year. Of course, we hold special events at the plowing match, in schools and at fairs, and we’ve even partnered with the Mennonites to do special programs there.

I welcome all members of the House to join us in celebrating agricultural safety—

The Speaker (Hon. Dave Levac): Thank you. Supplementary?

Mr. Jeff Leal: Thank you, Minister. With that full and comprehensive answer, there will be no need for a late show on that one.

I know that my constituents will be happy to hear that our government is actively partnering with Safe Workplace Promotion Services to promote a number of safety initiatives across the province.

The people of Peterborough riding know that farmers are an important part of our economy. They work incredibly hard to make sure that we have food on our tables each and every day. But the work they do is often hazardous and, as I have previously mentioned, may lead to serious workplace injuries.

Many of the people in my riding work in the agricultural sector and face these inherent risks each and every day. Minister, can you tell my constituents what our government is doing to protect the health and safety of Ontarians who work in our agricultural sector?

Hon. Ted McMeekin: For another full and comprehensive answer, I’ll defer to the Minister of Labour.

Hon. Linda Jeffrey: I am pleased to take such a timely question from the member from Peterborough.

I want to assure the people of Peterborough and everyone across Ontario that our government values the hard work that our farmers do every single day to make sure that food comes to our tables. That’s why, in June 2006, our government extended the Occupational Health and Safety Act to include farming operations for the first time ever. Employers in the agricultural industry are now required by law to take every precaution reasonable in the circumstances to protect their workers.

The Ministry of Labour has trained approximately 180 inspectors and will continue to train new inspectors on issues inherent to the health and safety of workers on farms. Since 2006, our inspectors have visited more than 850 farms and will continue to conduct both reactive and field visits and proactively inspect farms across the province.

RENEWABLE ENERGY

Mr. Victor Fedeli: My question this morning is for the Minister of Energy. Minister, your energy plan has created some of North America’s highest energy prices, causing Ontario to lose 300,000 manufacturing, forestry and mining jobs.

Now, with those companies closed and people out of work, we’re generating more power than we need. Let me paint you a picture. Now we’re paying Quebec and the US $2 billion to take that surplus power. They use that cheap power to lure even more of our Ontario manufacturers to their jurisdictions.

Minister, do you not see this vicious job-killing cycle that you’ve created? Will you agree to cancel the FIT subsidies that have caused this problem?

Hon. Christopher Bentley: Now, apparently, the solar panels on North Bay city hall are single-handedly responsible for the worldwide economic recession.

Just a few facts, Speaker. From the depths of the recession, we’ve attracted billions of dollars worth of investment, thousands of jobs already in every part of the province. In fact, you’d be surprised what people say when they’re in their own communities speaking truth to their neighbours. “Taking advantage of locally available green power resources is a good fit with the long-range development strategy we have for the community”—from the MPP from Nipissing.

The Speaker (Hon. Dave Levac): Supplementary?

Mr. Victor Fedeli: Minister, this is no joke. You continue to pay outrageous subsidies for companies to produce wind and solar power that we clearly don’t need.

The 1,700 megawatts of wind and solar you’re paying for today have caused seniors’ hydro bills to skyrocket. Now you’re planning on producing a total of 10,700 megawatts from wind and solar.

Minister, you’re planning on making this problem six times worse than it is today. Minister, you’re going the wrong way. When will you agree to cancel the FIT subsidies and bring some relief to employers and Ontario families?

Hon. Christopher Bentley: We know where we were: unreliable power, billions for imports, generators on the street corner. Ontario families and businesses have had a lot of work to do. Now we have to pay for some of the work that the party opposite should have done, and we’ve found the opportunity to invest not only in clean air but the green, clean-energy jobs that go with it.

When the party opposite speaks truth to their neighbours, many of them are very supportive of the opportunities this brings to their local communities. That is a very telling fact.

We’ll continue to work on the price of energy, we’ll continue to deliver reliable energy and we’ll continue to deliver the clean air and green energy jobs that go along with it.

CORRECTIONAL FACILITIES

Mr. Taras Natyshak: My question is to the Minister of Community Safety and Correctional Services. Minister, by your own admission, our provincial jail system is at about 95% capacity, and those numbers are forecast to increase. Yet, your ministry is continuing on a proposal to close the Sarnia jail facility, with no consideration for the impact on the workers, no consideration for the impact of native communities in that area, no consideration for the communities that rely on that jail as a functional part of their community. Why is the McGuinty government moving ahead with this decision without providing any answers, any financial considerations to the community and to the workers of that jail and the community of Sarnia?

Hon. Madeleine Meilleur: Thank you to the member for his very important question.

This government has been addressing the capacity of our jails. We are building two new jails: one in Windsor and one in Toronto. We are closing our old jails, which are very expensive, with very little or no rehabilitation for our inmates, and we are opening new jails with increased capacity.

But you’re raising a good point. C-10 is going to have a great impact on our capacity, and we are calling on you and on the opposition to talk to the federal government about it.

VISITOR

The Speaker (Hon. Dave Levac): I would like to bring to your attention, in the Speaker’s gallery, the member from Perth in the 28th, 29th, 30th, 31st, 32nd, 33rd and 34th Parliaments, the Speaker of the 34th Parliament, Hugh Edighoffer.

Applause.

The Speaker (Hon. Dave Levac): I’m kind of hoping I receive that respect when I’m finished.

CORRECTION OF RECORD

Hon. Laurel C. Broten: I’d like to correct the record on something I said yesterday. Yesterday, I said that this government had increased funding to child care by 46%. In fact, that’s the figure of how much we’ve increased education funding over the past eight years. We’ve actually increased funding for child care in Ontario by 63%, and I thought it was important to correct it.

The Speaker (Hon. Dave Levac): Thank you. It is a point of order to correct your own record.

VISITORS

Mr. Ernie Hardeman: Speaker, on a point of order: Prior to question period, I was going to introduce Trevor Ford, president of the Woodstock firefighters’ association, but I was not allotted time. So on that point, I rise to introduce him here today.

The Speaker (Hon. Dave Levac): That is not a point of order, but I’m glad you introduced him.

Hon. Deborah Matthews: On a similar point of order, I want to welcome to the Legislature several people from the Heart and Stroke Foundation: Tom McAllister is with us, and Mary Lewis and Dr. Andrew Pipe. I know all members of the Legislature welcome them.

The Speaker (Hon. Dave Levac): That too is not a point of order, but we’re awfully glad that they’re here.

Hon. James J. Bradley: Mr. Speaker, being relatively new to the Legislature, I want to see if this is a point of privilege or a point of order, welcoming Robert Cooper, father of page William Cooper from Canadian Martyrs School in St. Catharines; and Dave Cooper, William’s uncle. Was that a point of order? If not, I would simply like to introduce them and welcome them to Queen’s Park.

The Speaker (Hon. Dave Levac): The dean of the House is correct: It’s not a point of order. We welcome our guests.

Ms. Tracy MacCharles: On a point of privilege, Mr. Speaker: I’d like to introduce firefighters from the Pickering Professional Firefighters Association. We have Colin Arnott, vice-president, and Mike Palachik, secretary of the association. I want to welcome them today. Thank you for being here.

Ms. Sarah Campbell: Speaker, a point of order: Earlier, I wasn’t able to introduce a couple of people who came in today to visit us: Cecilia Begg, Randy Nanokeesic, Richard Anderson, Luke Sainnawap, Mary Jane Crowe and Steven Chapman of KI First Nation.

The Speaker (Hon. Dave Levac): The member for Bruce–Grey–Owen Sound.

Ms. Lisa M. Thompson: Huron–Bruce.

The Speaker (Hon. Dave Levac): Huron–Bruce.

Ms. Lisa M. Thompson: Thank you very much. Earlier today, we missed an opportunity to introduce some people who travelled to Toronto to support our leader, Tim Hudak, with his private member’s bill looking at affordable energy and the restoration of local decision-making.

I’d like to welcome to the House Catherine Bayne from Lake Superior Action-Research-Conservation; Barbara Ashbee from Dufferin county; Joseph Leung from Meaford; Jim Brunow from Meaford; Cindy Sutch, board member from Save the Oak Ridges Moraine, city of Kawartha Lakes; Warren Howard, councillor, North Perth; Lorrie Gillis, health concerns, Grey Highlands; David Cohen, Toronto; Orville Walsh, Prince Edward county; Andre Den Tandt, Owen Sound; and Ron Bolingbroke from Meaford as well.

Ms. Laurie Scott: On a point of order, Mr. Speaker: I’d like to welcome Jerry Walker from Haliburton, who is here today with Ducks Unlimited.

Hon. Michael Chan: I want to recognize the presence of two great firefighters from my riding of Markham–Unionville: Scott Daniel and Joe Hill. Welcome.

The Speaker (Hon. Dave Levac): There are no deferred votes. This House stands adjourned until 3 p.m.

The House recessed from 1144 to 1500.

INTRODUCTION OF VISITORS

Ms. Tracy MacCharles: It’s my pleasure to introduce Mr. Mark Holland—

Mr. Yasir Naqvi: Yay, Mark!

Ms. Tracy MacCharles: Yay, Mark! He’s the director of government relations and health partnerships with the Heart and Stroke Foundation, and organizer of the Heart at the Park event here today at Queen’s Park. Mark is a former member of our federal Parliament. Welcome, Mark.

Mrs. Jane McKenna: Mr. Speaker, I am honoured today to have in the gallery Dan VanderLelie—he’s the president of the Burlington professional firefighters; Kevin Ritchie; Chris Burville, the trustee; and Paul Cunningham, the secretary. I had a beautiful lunch today with the fellas. Thank you, boys.

MEMBERS’ STATEMENTS

HORSE RACING INDUSTRY

Mr. John O’Toole: Mr. Speaker, I’m pleased today—I seek your indulgence as well. Because of the nature of my remarks, I do want to add a bit to the end.

I’m proud to stand and honour in this House and to congratulate a constituent of mine. This is not just any ordinary constituent, Mr. Speaker. He is eight years old. He has won almost $3 million in prize money, and he’s a big bay trotting superstar. My constituent is a horse named San Pail. San Pail was recently named horse of the year, trotter of the year and older male trotter of the year at the prestigious Dan Patch Awards in Orlando, Florida—actually, a world champion. I’d like to congratulate co-owner and breeder Glenn Van Camp from Port Perry, in my riding of Durham.

It is important to recognize this achievement in light of the McGuinty government’s plan to meddle in the successful slots-at-racetracks partnership. The partnership creates skilled champions like San Pail and victories for Ontario generally in tourism and other areas. It produces future champions on such farms as Tara Hills, which was founded by the late Peter Heffering and his son David. It is a world-class facility right here in Ontario, the best in the world, one would argue. Also, this farm is in my riding.

I call on the government to work co-operatively with the horse racing industry and owners to support the benefits of this to agriculture.

And it’s in this climate that I do want to take one moment to mention Peter Heffering, who is in the Agricultural Hall of Fame. He’s the breeder, first known as a Holstein breeder: His Hanover Hill Holsteins was arguably the most famous Holstein herd in the world, and he is in the hall of fame. He passed away just last week at the age of 80. He should be respected and remembered as a leader in agriculture and one of my constituents. Thank you.

ONTARIO MUNICIPAL BOARD

Mr. Rosario Marchese: In late February, Toronto city council asked the province for an exemption from the Ontario Municipal Board. It’s time we took this issue seriously and consider whether Toronto really needs the OMB at all.

As an appointed board, the OMB is unaccountable to the people of Ontario. Unlike city councillors or MPPs, these members answer to no one, yet they have considerable power over every community in the province. Municipalities across Ontario spend considerable amounts of time and money on city planning and consultations with their citizens to decide how they can encourage further development while maintaining the unique character of their neighbourhoods. All this effort is wasted when the OMB acts against the interests of these communities.

And make no mistake: The OMB does act against our interests. Developers know Ontario’s municipalities often lack the resources to fight an extended OMB appeal. It’s an ugly open secret in Ontario and it’s time for a change.

Toronto has 44 full-time elected city councillors, an extensive legal department and a professional planning department. Surely the city is able to decide on its own official plans. Surely the decisions of the local community and its elected representatives should not be overruled by a handful of unelected members accountable to no one. Toronto city council has asked to be exempted from the OMB; I will be introducing a bill shortly to do just that.

HEART AND STROKE FOUNDATION

Ms. Tracy MacCharles: Speaker, the Heart and Stroke Foundation is a volunteer-based health charity that leads in eliminating heart disease and stroke and reducing their impact through the advancement of research and promotion of healthy living, led and supported by a force of more than 130,000 volunteers, many of whom are here today.

In 2010, the foundation invested more than $106 million into research, health promotion and community programs.

The foundation aims to build healthier hearts and minds across Canada by bringing life-saving knowledge to the communities we serve, through their local offices and the health care providers they support with education and resources.

It is my great pleasure to sponsor their Heart in the Park event today at Queen’s Park, and I encourage all members to attend their MPP health circuit and meet with the volunteers who make this foundation so great—committee room number 2, I believe.

Thank you, Mark Holland.

OAK RIDGES MORAINE

Mrs. Julia Munro: The Oak Ridges moraine is one of Ontario’s great natural treasures, but it remains at risk. A series of reports by the Oak Ridges Moraine Foundation have revealed a decline in the moraine’s health, and shortcomings in the current conservation plan. Grassland birds are in decline, rare habitats are threatened, and only one third of streams are healthy. Dumping of contaminated fill and draining aquifers threaten the precious water resources of the moraine. All this and more, despite the hard work the foundation does to maintain and restore the moraine’s health—work such as protecting 5,500 acres through securing land and restoring more than 1,000 acres of significant habitat. Yet the moraine faces greater risks if the moraine foundation cannot continue to fund its work.

More than 23 municipalities located on the moraine have called on the government to continue funding the foundation. They know that the work the foundation does is vital—and the foundation leverages its provincial funding by more than a two-to-one ratio.

I call on the government today to commit to work with the foundation and local residents to preserve this natural treasure.

HEART AND STROKE FOUNDATION

Mme France Gélinas: I’d like to add my voice to the fact that today is Heart in the Park at Queen’s Park. Please join me in recognition of the Heart and Stroke Foundation of Ontario’s efforts to make Ontario the healthiest province.

Why is this important, Mr. Speaker? Well, because one in three Ontarians die prematurely from heart disease and stroke; it is the number one killer of women; and nine in 10 Canadians have at least one risk factor of heart disease and stroke. The Heart and Stroke Foundation is committed to improving these odds.

Ontarians can live longer, healthier lives, dramatically reducing our health care costs. All that is required is a focus on health promotion and illness prevention. Heart and Stroke has made better health a priority. Let each and every one of us make that same commitment.

The Heart and Stroke Foundation is asking Ontarians to invest at least 0.5% of the provincial budget toward health promotion—0.5% could make all the difference. Why? Because childhood obesity rates have tripled in the last 20 years, because smoking rates have plateaued, and because about one in five Canadians have hypertension—that number is increased to 64% of stroke patients.

The best way to control health care costs is to create the healthiest province, and this is what the Heart and Stroke Foundation is here to do. Let’s support them.

CARLETON UNIVERSITY
RELAY FOR LIFE

Mr. Yasir Naqvi: I want to take this opportunity to congratulate all the students who participated this past weekend at the Carleton University Relay for Life. It was held on March 2 from 7 p.m. to 7 a.m. on campus. So far, students have raised $72,000 from their effort to help the Canadian Cancer Society.

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It was an incredible event, with lots of energy, where students walked all night, with personal stories to share about cancer survivors and helping to ensure that we help more people. Their aim is $84,000, and I am confident that they will be able to accomplish that.

I want to take this opportunity to thank the organizing committee for their hard work. The event coaches were James Armbruster and Komal Minhas, and the other members of the organizing committee are Rebecca Pikor, Kirsten Strom, Dan Dalby, Shanelle Manhue, Ashley Gardner, Kelsey Round, Jill Krajewski, Rob Nettleton, Mitchel Pennell, Pavan Sapra, Pranav Mody, Julia E, Grace Valentine, Kiley Jamieson, Stephanie Desson, Elias Haime, Lyndsay Burman, Tristen Watmough, Jillian Black, Deanne Pittman, Marc Bedard, Adisa Sadja, Karina Pavlenko, Laura Moran, Sylvie Campbell, Amanda Devaney, Heather Page and Christian Bresee.

Congratulations to all the students for their hard work in making Carleton University’s Relay for Life a success. I’m sure you will raise your $84,000 by the end of the next couple of weeks.

AUTO INSURANCE FRAUD

Mr. Jeff Yurek: I’d like to draw to the attention of the Legislature that this month, March, is national Fraud Prevention Month. The purpose of this month is to raise awareness of fraud in all consumer markets.

I’d like to speak about auto insurance fraud. First off, I’d like to commend the police, investigators with the Insurance Bureau of Canada and all others involved in Project Whiplash last month. This joint project uncovered an intricate and organized auto insurance fraud ring that embezzled over $4 million, and resulted in 37 arrests.

To those who fight against auto insurance fraud on the front line, I want to thank you. Your efforts help protect innocent ratepayers, because when fraudsters cheat, we all pay through higher premiums.

I also encourage consumers to learn all they can about how to detect and protect themselves from fraud. Your broker is a good place to learn about tips that will help you to be able to detect fraud and prevent it. We all have to work together to tackle this issue.

I call upon this government to establish a special unit of the crown attorneys’ office to help prosecute and obtain tough convictions against fraudsters. Fraud accounts for 10% to 15% of our auto insurance premiums, estimated to be about $1.3 billion.

I think it’s important that this House stand united with all Ontarians, and takes a tough stance against fraudsters. We will not tolerate those who cheat, and we will do everything we can to ensure that if you defraud the system, you will end up in jail.

ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT

Mr. Vic Dhillon: Ontarians work hard every day to make better lives for themselves and their children. Our government is hard at work too. And just like families across this province, when times are tough we have to make careful choices: choices that support the needs and aspirations of all Ontarians, choices that will create jobs for Ontario families.

That’s why I’m proud that our government is investing in economic development in places where it’s really needed, and that’s why I’m disappointed that the official opposition voted against the attracting jobs and investment act and the thousands of local jobs it would have created in our communities.

The PCs are putting ideology ahead of helping small business create jobs and attract new investment. This act would help companies across eastern and southwestern Ontario expand their workforce, buy state-of-the-art equipment and compete and win in the new global economy. The Conservatives are using the global recession to push an ideology, tearing down rather than helping build a stronger economy.

The NDP have been silent on eliminating the deficit and creating jobs. They’re quick to criticize but have put forward no suggestions of their own. Our government, on the other hand, has had a balanced plan and is making thoughtful choices to eliminate the deficit, grow the economy and create jobs.

NORTHERN ONTARIO

Mr. Victor Fedeli: The growth plan for northern Ontario, established under Ontario’s Places to Grow Act, is quite simply a failure. Despite noting that North Bay, Sudbury, Timmins, Sault Ste. Marie and Thunder Bay are economic hubs that benefit all of northern Ontario, and that half of northerners live in these five cities, only two, Sudbury and Thunder Bay, have been designated as growth plan pilot site regional planning areas and have received provincial funding to develop regional economic plans.

The city of North Bay unanimously passed resolution 2011-816, which resolves that “the province, through the Minister of Northern Development and Mines, … immediately designate all five cities in northern Ontario as anchors and growth plan ... sites for their respective regional economic planning areas, thereby enabling the cities of North Bay, Sault Ste. Marie and Timmins to serve the same growth plan role in their respective regions as Thunder Bay and the city of Greater Sudbury....”

It further urges the minister to provide the necessary resources and support for Timmins, North Bay and Sault Ste. Marie to develop regional economic plans.

We need growth and funding support for all northern Ontario, not just in the ridings of the minister and his predecessor.

SPECIAL REPORT,
ENVIRONMENTAL COMMISSIONER
OF ONTARIO

The Deputy Speaker (Mr. Bas Balkissoon): I beg to inform the House that I have today laid upon the table a special report from the Environmental Commissioner of Ontario entitled Ready for Change? An Assessment of Ontario’s Climate Change Adaptation Strategy.

INTRODUCTION OF BILLS

REDUCING AUTOMOBILE INSURANCE
PREMIUMS BY ELIMINATING
FRAUD ACT, 2012 /
LOI DE 2012 VISANT À RÉDUIRE
LES PRIMES D’ASSURANCE-
AUTOMOBILE PAR L’ÉLIMINATION
DES ACTIVITÉS FRAUDULEUSES

Mrs. Mangat moved first reading of the following bill:

Bill 41, An Act to encourage the disclosure of and investigate fraudulent activity in connection with automobile insurance claims and to amend the Independent Health Facilities Act with respect to licensee requirements / Projet de loi 41, Loi visant à encourager la divulgation des activités frauduleuses en ce qui a trait aux demandes d’indemnités d’assurance-automobile, visant les enquêtes en la matière et modifiant la Loi sur les établissements de santé autonomes relativement aux exigences applicables aux titulaires de permis.

The Deputy Speaker (Mr. Bas Balkissoon): Shall the bill be read for the first time? Agreed.

First reading agreed to.

The Deputy Speaker (Mr. Bas Balkissoon): The member for a short statement.

Mrs. Amrit Mangat: Auto insurance fraud has been a very serious problem in many parts of Ontario. The purpose of this bill is to protect those individuals who report auto insurance fraud. By protecting such individuals, we will be taking a proactive step towards eliminating fraud and reducing automobile insurance premiums.

AFFORDABLE ENERGY
AND RESTORATION OF LOCAL
DECISION MAKING ACT, 2012 /
LOI DE 2012 SUR L’ÉNERGIE ABORDABLE
ET LE RÉTABLISSEMENT DE LA PRISE
DE DÉCISIONS LOCALE

Mr. Hudak moved first reading of the following bill:

Bill 42, An Act to amend the Electricity Act, 1998 and the Environmental Protection Act with respect to renewable energy / Projet de loi 42, Loi modifiant la Loi de 1998 sur l’électricité et la Loi sur la protection de l’environnement en ce qui concerne l’énergie renouvelable.

The Deputy Speaker (Mr. Bas Balkissoon): Shall the bill be read for the first time? Agreed.

First reading agreed to.

The Deputy Speaker (Mr. Bas Balkissoon): The member for a short statement.

Mr. Tim Hudak: I’m very pleased to table today the Affordable Energy and Restoration of Local Decision Making Act. It has three major components, as you can see from the explanatory note. If enacted into law, this bill would do the following three things:

First, reframe Ontario’s energy policy as market-driven and end the feed-in tariff subsidies.

Second, require the energy minister to consult first-tier municipalities on existing contracts for industrial wind and solar farms not yet connected to the grid.

Finally, re-empower municipalities to decide how and where large-scale wind and solar farms can be located in the community, if at all.

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INSURANCE AMENDMENT ACT
(ELEMENTS IN CLASSIFYING RISKS
FOR AUTOMOBILE INSURANCE), 2012 /
LOI DE 2012 MODIFIANT
LA LOI SUR LES ASSURANCES
(ÉLÉMENTS SERVANT AU CLASSEMENT
DES RISQUES EN MATIÈRE
D’ASSURANCE-AUTOMOBILE)

Mr. Sergio moved first reading of the following bill:

Bill 43, An Act to amend the Insurance Act with respect to the elements used in classifying risks for a coverage or category of automobile insurance / Projet de loi 43, Loi modifiant la Loi sur les assurances en ce qui concerne les éléments servant au classement des risques dans le cadre d’une couverture ou catégorie d’assurance-automobile.

The Deputy Speaker (Mr. Bas Balkissoon): Shall the bill be read for the first time? Agreed.

First reading agreed to.

The Deputy Speaker (Mr. Bas Balkissoon): The member for a short statement.

Mr. Mario Sergio: The bill amends the Insurance Act, and it requires automobile insurers to use a person’s driving record, a person’s age and the type of automobile in classifying risks for coverage or a category of automobile insurance. The bill also prohibits automobile insurers from using a person’s home address or postal code in classifying such risks. I thank you, Speaker.

FAR NORTH REPEAL ACT, 2012 /
LOI DE 2012 ABROGEANT
LA LOI SUR LE GRAND NORD

Mr. Norm Miller moved first reading of the following bill:

Bill 44, An Act to repeal the Far North Act, 2010 and to make consequential amendments to other Acts / Projet de loi 44, Loi abrogeant la Loi de 2010 sur le Grand Nord et apportant des modifications corrélatives à d’autres lois.

The Deputy Speaker (Mr. Bas Balkissoon): Shall the bill be read for the first time? Agreed.

First reading agreed to.

The Deputy Speaker (Mr. Bas Balkissoon): Mr. Miller for a short statement.

Mr. Norm Miller: Mr. Speaker, northern Ontario is being negatively affected by the Far North Act. First Nations are opposed to the bill. Many northern communities are opposed to the bill. Northerners want to see jobs and prosperity in the north. Repealing the Far North Act will help to open the north for economic activity and for job creation, and that’s why I brought this bill forward.

INSURANCE AMENDMENT ACT
(RISK CLASSIFICATION SYSTEMS
FOR AUTOMOBILE INSURANCE), 2012 /
LOI DE 2012 MODIFIANT
LA LOI SUR LES ASSURANCES
(SYSTÈMES DE CLASSEMENT
DES RISQUES
EN ASSURANCE-AUTOMOBILE)

Mr. Singh moved first reading of the following bill:

Bill 45, An Act to amend the Insurance Act with respect to risk classification systems for automobile insurance / Projet de loi 45, Loi modifiant la Loi sur les assurances à l’égard des systèmes de classement des risques en assurance-automobile.

The Deputy Speaker (Mr. Bas Balkissoon): Shall the bill be read for the first time? Agreed.

First reading agreed to.

The Deputy Speaker (Mr. Bas Balkissoon): The member for a short statement.

Mr. Jagmeet Singh: Essentially, this bill seeks to amend the Insurance Act to provide safeguards for the community so that an individual’s driving record takes precedence over where they live. The act will specify a number of criteria given a weighted preference, and these criteria would ensure that our rural members are not negatively affected but that those in the GTA are treated in a more fair and appropriate means. The criteria would be as follows: driving safety record, but only in respect of accidents where the person is not principally at fault; the number of kilometres driven annually; the driving experience of the individual; as well as the population of the statistical area in which the driver resides, and that’s to ensure that we don’t negatively impact those who live in smaller communities or rural areas.

This bill, taken together—all the factors from one to four have to be taken as a primary method of assessing risk. Any other factor cannot equal the equivalent of the last factor; that is, driving record is the primary concern in this case, not where you live.

MOTIONS

PRIVATE MEMBERS’ PUBLIC BUSINESS

Hon. John Milloy: Mr. Speaker, I seek unanimous consent to put forward a motion without notice regarding private members’ public business.

The Deputy Speaker (Mr. Bas Balkissoon): Is there consent? Agreed? Agreed.

Hon. John Milloy: I move that, notwithstanding standing order 98(g), notice for ballot item number 22 be waived.

The Deputy Speaker (Mr. Bas Balkissoon): The government House leader has moved unanimous consent to put forward a motion without notice regarding private members’ public business. He moves that, notwithstanding standing order 98(g), notice for ballot item 22 be waived. Agreed?

Motion agreed to.

PETITIONS

RENEWABLE ENERGY

Mr. John O’Toole: I’m pleased to submit some petitions here that read as follows:

“To the Legislative Assembly of Ontario:

“Whereas Solray Energy Corp. has given notice of its proposal for a class 3 solar power facility known as Epsom Solar Farm to be located in the township of Scugog; and

“Whereas the site is on prime farmland that has been in” productive use “for many generations; and

“Whereas we consider productive farmland to be of vital importance to farm and rural communities by providing healthy, locally grown food and ensuring the sustainability of Canada’s food supply; and

“Whereas class 1 to 5 farmland and land that is zoned rural or agricultural should be protected from the current proposal and similar projects that may be considered in the future; and

“Whereas other sites of less value to agriculture are better locations for solar power developments;

“Therefore we, the undersigned, petition” the Legislative Assembly of Ontario “not to allow large, industrial ... solar farms on prime agricultural land, and we further express our support for giving local communities, through their elected municipal councils, the power to control and approve large-scale renewable energy developments.”

I’m pleased to sign and support this and present it to James Newman, one of the pages here on his second-last day.

DOG OWNERSHIP

Ms. Cheri DiNovo: I’m delighted to read this petition.

“To the Legislative Assembly of Ontario:

“Whereas currently the law takes the onus off of owners that raise violent dogs by making it appear that violence is a matter of genetics; and

“Whereas the Dog Owners’ Liability Act does not clearly define a pit bull, nor is it enforced equally across the province, as pit bulls are not an acknowledged breed;

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

“That the Legislative Assembly passes Bill 16, Public Safety Related to Dogs Statute Law Amendment Act, 2011, into law.”

I and many thousands of Ontarians agree. I’m going to sign it and give it to David to be delivered to the table.

RENEWABLE ENERGY

Mr. Jeff Yurek: A petition to the Legislative Assembly of Ontario:

“Whereas the residents of Elgin–Middlesex–London are concerned about the sacrifice of 400 acres of prime agricultural land in the town of Belmont to the development of a solar farm despite the Green Energy Act’s prohibition of building on such high-grade agricultural land;

“Whereas the company First Solar claims their use of such valuable land is justified under the older renewable energy framework that was in place when the company received its OPA contracts;

“Whereas the government has grandfathered the project into the new Green Energy Act, thereby allowing the company to circumvent any municipal opinion and review;

“Whereas the government has effectively allowed this project to use favourable aspects of two separate regulatory frameworks while avoiding aspects of those same frameworks that are meant to protect one of Ontario’s most vital finite resources: its world-class agricultural land;

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

“To put a moratorium on the solar development in Belmont until the province decides by which set of regulations First Solar is to abide.”

I support this petition and affix my signature.

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WIND TURBINES

Ms. Lisa M. Thompson: I’m pleased to present this petition to the Legislative Assembly of Ontario:

“Whereas residents of Ontario want a moratorium on all further industrial wind turbine development until a third party health and environmental study has been completed; and

“Whereas people in Ontario living within close proximity to industrial wind turbines have reported negative health effects; we need to study the physical, social, economic and environmental impacts of wind turbines; and

“Whereas Ontario’s largest farm organization, the Ontario Federation of Agriculture, and the Christian Farmers Federation of Ontario have called for a suspension of industrial wind turbine development until the serious shortcomings can be addressed, and the Auditor General confirmed wind farms were created in haste and with no planning; and

“Whereas there has been no third party health and environmental studies done on industrial wind turbines, and the Auditor General confirmed there was no real plan for green energy in Ontario and wind farms were constructed in haste;

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

“That the Liberal government support Huron–Bruce MPP Lisa Thompson’s private member’s motion which calls for a moratorium on all industrial wind turbine development until a third party health and environmental study has been completed.”

Mr. Speaker, I agree with this petition. I am pleased to hand it to Katelyn on her second-last day as page.

MARKDALE HOSPITAL

Mr. Bill Walker: “To the Legislative Assembly of Ontario:

“Whereas Grey Bruce Health Services’ Markdale hospital is the only health care facility between Owen Sound and Orangeville on the Highway 10 corridor;

“Whereas the community of Markdale rallied to raise $13 million on the promise they would get a new state-of-the art hospital in Markdale;

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

“That the Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care announce as soon as possible its intended construction date for the new Markdale hospital and ensure that the care needs of the patients and families of our community are met in a timely manner.”

I sign my name to this and give it to page Mackenzie to deliver to the Clerk.

WIND TURBINES

Mr. Randy Pettapiece: “To the Legislative Assembly of Ontario:

“Whereas residents of Ontario want a moratorium on all further industrial wind turbine development until a third party health and environmental study has been completed; and

“Whereas people in Ontario living within close proximity to industrial wind turbines have reported negative health effects; we need to study the physical, social, economic and environmental impacts of wind turbines; and

“Whereas Ontario’s largest farm organization, the Ontario Federation of Agriculture, and the Christian Farmers Federation of Ontario have called for a suspension of industrial wind turbine development until the serious shortcomings can be addressed, and the Auditor General confirmed wind farms were created in haste and with no planning; and

“Whereas there has been no third party health and environmental studies done on industrial wind turbines, and the Auditor General confirmed there was no real plan for green energy in Ontario and wind farms were constructed in haste;

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

“That the Liberal government support Huron–Bruce MPP Lisa Thompson’s private member’s motion which calls for a moratorium on all industrial wind turbine development until a third party health and environmental study has been completed.”

I agree with this petition. I shall sign it and give it to page Grace.

HIGHWAY SAFETY

Mr. John Vanthof: “To the Legislative Assembly of Ontario:

“Whereas a fatal motor vehicle collision involving a passenger car and a tractor trailer occurred at approximately 3:10 p.m. on September 19, 2011, on Highway 66 approximately five kilometres west of the Watabeag Lake Road near Matachewan; and

“Whereas there have been numerous accidents on this particular section of highway since this fatality, as well as over many previous years, not all of which appear to have been reported even though numerous complaints have been made; and

“Whereas traffic volumes along Highway 66 into Matachewan have increased exponentially due to the tremendous growth and activity in the area due to the recent new mine construction and resultant development boom; and

“Whereas even though sections of this highway have been resurfaced in recent years, absolutely nothing has been done to rectify the dangerous S-curves, narrow shoulders, poor signage or inappropriate aggregate materials;

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

“That the Ministry of Transportation be immediately directed to engineer, redesign and straighten Highway 66 throughout the dangerous corners. Failing this, on all corners, install rumble strips on the centre line and erect brightly coloured markers throughout the entire turning radius. Finally, the shoulders must be widened and paved so that vehicles can safely get off the travelled portion of roadway.”

I fully agree and sign this, and I’d like to give it to page Grace.

TUITION

The Acting Speaker (Mr. Paul Miller): The member from Cambridge.

Mr. Rob Leone: Thank you very much, Mr. Speaker, and welcome back to the Chair.

I have some petitions here from students from the University of Guelph. I notice that the Canadian Federation of Students are here lobbying this government to change its policies, so I am happy to read this petition on their behalf.

“Whereas tuition fees in Ontario have increased by up to 59% since 2006, and students in Ontario pay the highest fees in Canada; and

“Whereas Ontario students owe $37,000 on average after graduation and collectively owe more than $7 billion to the federal government and more than $2 billion to the Ontario government; and

“Whereas tuition fees are the most significant barrier that prevents students from obtaining a post-secondary credential and disproportionately hinders access for students who are low-income, racialized, francophone, aboriginal, queer, transgendered or have a disability; and

“Whereas tuition fee increases have enabled successive Ontario governments to remove funding from the post-secondary education sector, leaving Ontario dead last in per student funding, $15,000 lower per student than Alberta; and

“Whereas, during the 2011 Ontario election, the government was elected in part based on a promise to reduce tuition fees by 30%; and

“Whereas all political parties in Ontario have publicly acknowledged that college and university tuition fees are too high;

“Therefore, we, the undersigned, support the Canadian Federation of Students–Ontario’s call to drop tuition fees and petition the Legislative Assembly of Ontario to apply the promised $430 million in funding for grants to reduce tuition fees for all students and progressively reduce fees by 30% over four years, reduce the debt cap and introduce more student grants rather than loans for students, and increase per student funding to the national average.”

These are from the University of Guelph. I’m happy to sign them and hand them to page Kriti.

Interjections.

The Acting Speaker (Mr. Paul Miller): The member from Guelph. Order. The member from Guelph.

Interjections.

The Acting Speaker (Mr. Paul Miller): A little order. The member from Oxford. The member from Guelph again. Are we finished? Thank you.

EDUCATION FUNDING

Mr. Phil McNeely: This is from a group of parents in Ottawa–Orléans from the Avalon Public School.

“To the Legislature of Ontario:

“Whereas the current enrolment of Avalon Public School is 687 students;

“Whereas the student capacity of the school is 495 students, as determined by the Ministry of Education’s own occupancy formula;

“Whereas the issue of overcrowding and lack of space makes it impossible for Avalon Public School to offer full-day kindergarten until the overcrowding issue is addressed;

“Whereas Avalon Public School is located in a high-growth community;

“Whereas the enrolment at Avalon Public School is expected to continue rising at a rate of 10% to 15% a year for the foreseeable future;

“Whereas the Ottawa-Carleton District School Board has made building a new school in Avalon a top capital priority;

“We, the undersigned, call on the province of Ontario and Ministry of Education to provide the Ottawa-Carleton District School Board with the necessary funding to build an additional school in Avalon, to open no later than September 2014.”

I agree with this petition and I send it forward with Sophia.

WIND TURBINES

Mr. John O’Toole: I’m pleased to present a petition here on behalf of my constituents in the riding of Durham. It reads as follows—this is on renewable energy as well.

“To the Legislative Assembly of Ontario:

“Whereas there is a growing body of evidence confirming industrial wind development has serious adverse effects on host communities;

“Whereas over 135 people in Ontario have reported serious negative health effects from wind ... development, and at least a dozen families have been bought out of their homes;

“Whereas Ontario’s Green Energy Act has ended local planning control by stripping municipal councils of their rights;

“Whereas 80 municipal councils, representing two million Ontarians, called on the” McGuinty “government to put in place a full moratorium on industrial wind development until an independent epidemiological health study is completed, proper environmental regulations and protections are put in place, and local democracy is restored;

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

“Immediately put a moratorium on all industrial wind proposals; fund an independent epidemiological health study to develop safe setbacks; legislate those findings; develop stringent environmental protection standards for natural areas; and require all projects to comply with regulations based on science”—not political science—“and local planning” should prevail.

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I’m pleased to sign and support this and present it to Darren, one of the pages, on his second-last day here.

WIND TURBINES

Mr. Jack MacLaren: Mr. Speaker, I would like to read this petition to the Legislative Assembly of Ontario.

“Whereas residents of Ontario want a moratorium on all further industrial wind turbine development until a third party health and environmental study has been completed; and

“Whereas people in Ontario living within close proximity to industrial wind turbines have reported negative health effects; we need to study the physical, social, economic and environmental impacts of wind turbines; and

“Whereas Ontario’s largest farm organization, the Ontario Federation of Agriculture, and the Christian Farmers Federation of Ontario have called for a suspension of industrial wind turbine development until the serious shortcomings can be addressed, and the Auditor General confirmed wind farms were created in haste and with no planning; and

“Whereas there have been no third party health and environmental studies done on industrial wind turbines, and the Auditor General confirmed there was no real plan for green energy in Ontario and wind farms were constructed in haste;

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

“That the Liberal government support Huron–Bruce MPP Lisa Thompson’s private member’s motion which calls for a moratorium on all industrial wind turbine development until a third party health and environmental study has been completed.”

I agree with this petition, affix my signature and give it to page Marium to be taken to the table.

ORDERS OF THE DAY

INTERIM SUPPLY /
CRÉDITS PROVISOIRES

Hon. John Milloy: I move that the Minister of Finance be authorized to pay the salaries of the civil servants and other necessary payments pending the voting of supply for the period commencing April 1, 2012, and ending on September 30, 2012, such payments to be charged to the proper appropriation for the 2012-13 fiscal year following the voting of supply.

The Acting Speaker (Mr. Paul Miller): Mr. Milloy has moved government motion 19. Debate?

Mrs. Jane McKenna: Mr. Speaker, today I am going to do my maiden speech, and I’m honoured to have some firefighters from Burlington here to listen.

When I first visited the legislative building at Queen’s Park as a nine-year-old girl, it seemed like just another field trip. To my child’s eyes, this place mostly seemed like a pretty ho-hum museum, one that could really use a few good dinosaurs. But my thinking has changed. I can tell you in all sincerity that there’s a world of difference between how entering this building hit me then and how it hits me now. Then, it was a field trip. When I visited again this fall, I got chills. The hairs on the back of my neck stood up, and they still do. Every minute of every day, I am struck by the history of this place. I am equally struck by the role of the Legislature in our future, and I am humbled by the ways in which our work here will influence the lives of those who work for our constituents, our communities and the people of Ontario.

We are all born into different circumstances. Some have a silver spoon in their mouths; others count themselves lucky to be rubbing the tarnish off of someone else’s silverware. But not one of us can escape personal challenges. None of us are immune to reversals of fortune, those moments when life throws a stick in your spokes. Case in point: In March of this year, more than 851,000 Canadians used a food bank; almost 40% of them were children—and those numbers are substantially higher than they were three years ago.

Burlington is a prosperous place, but it is by no means immune to the province’s economic downturn. Our food bank, Burlington Partnership West, is serving 42% more people this year than it did in 2008, supplying food to more than 7,000 Burlingtonians—and 40% of those are children. We owe it to each other, to our communities and to our children in particular to ensure that basic needs are never compromised in the name of political convenience. Sadly, that is not always the case.

Mr. Speaker, I stand here before the Legislature today because I believe, in my heart of hearts, that this province urgently needs change; real and meaningful change. I saw a Liberal government that for eight years has been deflecting and misdirecting, tap dancing from crisis to crisis, tap dancing while Ontario’s economy went from powerhouse to poorhouse. Thankfully, I saw an alternative. In Ontario PC Party leader Tim Hudak, I saw a passionate voice for progressive change; I saw a champion for small business, a champion for responsible government, a champion for fiscal sanity, a champion of real relief in an age of sound-byte solutions. Above all, I saw a champion for the people—all the people—of Ontario.

After some reflection and a memorable conversation with my loving family and my dear and patient husband, Tim, I made a commitment to the cause of change and I threw my hat in the ring for the PC candidacy of the riding of Burlington. From day to day, in our choices and actions, we create our destiny. Life doesn’t make a promise; it extends an opportunity.

So I have no time for negativity and self-pity. There are no guarantees in this world, but also few limits other than those we impose upon ourselves. I entered into politics because I believed that there was potential in my city that had yet to be realized. I believed—and I still do—that yesterday’s thinking was not the answer to the challenges of tomorrow. Like most politicians, I wanted to make a difference in my community. It has already been a phenomenal adventure.

Whatever your particular gifts are, public service demands that you dig deeper. I was reminded of that recently when I, along with Burlington Mayor Rick Goldring and Councillor Rick Craven, was debriefed at the site of the tragic Via Rail crash by Burlington Fire Chief Shayne Mintz. Chief Mintz’s calm command and level-headed response to an extreme situation gave me comfort; it also made me enormously proud to be a Burlingtonian. So yes, public service asks that you step outside of your comfort zone and find the positive in everything you do: to embrace the upside of everything, even falling down.

Public life asks you to build new skill sets, to question tired old assumptions, to learn strength, but also flexibility and resilience. It forces you to deepen your laugh lines and to laugh hardest at yourself, because most of all, the lesson of public service is that it is always far, far bigger than any one person.

Politics can be personal, but that’s not the reason you go to bed at night with your BlackBerry attached to your pyjamas. It’s about giving force to the will of your constituents and vigorously defending the best interests of all Ontarians.

I felt pretty secure in seeing myself as a hard worker: I’ve never been shy about putting in overtime or showing up at my desk on weekends. Then I met my campaign team, a phenomenal group of dedicated and driven volunteers who wanted to see the Tories return to Burlington; volunteers who came out for 18 hours a day, went door to door attached to my hip, and never complained or gave it less than their all.

It is certainly true that Burlington has a long history as a Tory riding. Since Confederation, the Conservative Party has represented the city for more than a century in total, and its hold on the riding has been unbroken for the last 68 years. I clearly wasn’t going to be the one to break that.

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Just four officials served during that time: Stanley Hall and George Kerr, who served for six terms each; Cam Jackson, who served for five terms; and my predecessor, Joyce Savoline, a passionate champion of Burlington who arrived here after a distinguished history as chair of Halton region.

Yes, Burlington is a Tory stronghold, but any stronghold still needs to be defended. I was always very clear on that point during the campaign. You owe it to the voters to knock on doors, have the conversation and make the calls. It’s community that elevates us to this position, and it’s community that gives us purpose.

The day of my swearing-in, a special constable of the Legislature told me, “This is your House now, Mrs. McKenna.” It was a heartfelt statement that meant a lot to me. But the more I thought about it, the more it seemed incomplete, because this is also our House, the House of all the people of Ontario.

As important as constituents are, I’d be lying if I said they were always top of mind, because in all honesty for me family is first and foremost. I get my self-worth when I look in my children’s eyes, and I know, at the end of the day when I pass on, that no one will love me as much as my husband has, and that’s all that matters to me. Any success I’m able to achieve is directly linked to that secure and firm foundation. I am blessed with five fantastic kids, a loving husband, a wonderful son-in-law and a gorgeous grandson.

My role, my title of MPP, is something that I take very seriously and a badge I wear with great honour. I am deeply thankful to my constituents for their vote of confidence. The community of Burlington has entrusted me to serve as their voice at Queen’s Park, and I look forward to working for progressive outcomes on the city’s behalf.

It will be a key priority for me to make sure that commitments related to the long-overdue expansion of Joseph Brant Memorial Hospital are honoured and that this project continues to move forward for the benefit of Burlingtonians.

To all the people of Burlington, allow me to say once again that I will never take this seat for granted. I will be your advocate and represent you with passion and distinction, listening intently, working hard, speaking out on your behalf and delivering the results that matter most to you, so that our community remains the greatest in Ontario. Thank you for this opportunity.

The Acting Speaker (Mr. Paul Miller): Further debate? The member for Ottawa Centre.

Mr. Yasir Naqvi: I thought the inaugural speech from the member from Burlington might be a little longer. But thank you very much. I appreciate it, and I’m glad she got the opportunity to speak.

I’m honoured to rise today to speak to the motion for interim supply.

If passed, this motion would give the government the necessary interim spending authority to finance required expenditures at the beginning of the 2012-13 fiscal year. Interim supply gives the government the interim spending authority to finance the programs it has set out, fulfill its commitments and put its vision into practice.

Interim or temporary spending authority is required from the beginning of the fiscal year until the Legislature reviews government expenditures and approves them in the Supply Act. Interim supply motions can provide temporary spending authority for up to six months, so this motion covers the period from April 1, 2012, through September 30, 2012.

This motion would give government the authority to make payments for all government ministries and offices, as well as legislative offices. Without spending authority, government payments, such as payments to nursing homes, hospitals, doctors, schools, municipalities, financial and income-support recipients, people with disabilities and special needs, children’s aid societies and those who rely on various benefit programs, such as the Ontario Child Benefit and the Ontario Clean Energy Benefit, cannot be made.

I would like to point out that this motion is not to authorize additional expenditures. All expenditures incurred under the authority of this motion would be charged to voted appropriations per the 2012-13 expenditure estimates. The maximum of amount of expenditures under the interim supply motion would be set out and authorized by the Supply Act.

When we complete this debate, I’m going to urge all members of the House to support this motion because without its necessary spending, the government will be unable to provide the public services that the people of Ontario count on.

I want to also talk about the fact that we, as a government, remain very much committed to prudently manageing Ontario’s finances. We will eliminate the deficit in 2017-18. We have to look at ways to ensure that we are providing government in a most responsible fashion while also reducing expenditures. The Don Drummond commission includes recommendations on continuing to reduce spending and improve service delivery.

Our strong record of fiscal management has resulted in eliminating the $5.6-billion deficit that we inherited and, after that, in posting three consecutive balanced budgets. Obviously the recession had a huge impact on our economy, and it has resulted in deficits, again, because of the stimulus spending that the government undertook, not only here in Ontario but across the country and, in fact, around the globe.

That spending, Speaker, was important not only to stimulate the economy, to create the necessary jobs, but also through that stimulus, we chose to lessen the impact on Ontarians and protect jobs, health care and education. Returning to balance by reforming government service delivery while protecting education and health care is the number one priority for our government.

In the alternative, we may be looking at arbitrary, across-the-board reductions which would require deep cuts to education and health care and hurt Ontario families, something that our government is not committed to doing.

We will continue to find efficiencies within the government. We’ve already done so, finding savings of nearly $1.5 billion across the government over the next three years. Major agencies have to deliver savings of $200 million by 2013-14.

We’ve reduced funding for executive offices of transfer payment recipients and agencies by 10%, not to mention we are taking steps and have taken steps in order to reduce the size of the Ontario public service by an additional 1,500 positions, on top of the 3,400 positions announced in the 2009 budget—in addition, eliminating 14 agencies, including Infrastructure Ontario and the Ontario Realty Corp., saving over $5 million per year.

One of the things that we undertook which was opposed by the opposition party was to reduce the price of generic drugs by 50%, something that we’ve been successful in doing. The result is that we have found savings of $500 million as a result of those reforms. That money is being invested back into our health care system, not to mention cheaper drugs for families across the province.

We’ve also committed to reducing travel expenses. In fact, we have reduced it by $30 million, or 24%, last year, and $10 million more will be saved this year.

Reducing consulting expenditures over 50% since we took government has been another initiative of our government in terms of expenditure management.

Speaker, it’s interesting to note that Ontario has the third-lowest program spending per capita in Canada, and per capita spending on government services is second-lowest of all provinces. In fact, Mr. Drummond, in his report, stated the following: “Yet spending is neither out of control nor wildly excessive. Ontario runs one of the lowest-cost provincial governments in Canada relative to its GDP and has done so for decades. And we must recognize that some important steps have been taken in the past few years to help manage costs, improve our prospects for future economic growth and enhance services to the public.”

That was something that Mr. Drummond, in his extensive report, outlined in terms of the way money is spent in this province on public services and government public service in general.

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Speaker, I want to spend some time talking about perhaps two very important initiatives which are going to result in both strengthening our economy, because that’s something we really, really need to focus on at this time, but also ensuring that we are helping a very important particular part of our population.

The first one I will talk about is the healthy homes renovation tax credit. Once passed by this Legislature—which I really hope; it has passed through second reading and will be moving on to committee soon—it will help ensure that our seniors can continue to live at their homes as long as they want. That’s a very important thing because our population is aging. The baby boomers are becoming seniors, and it is incumbent that we find ways to keep them at home as long as possible. The longer they’re home, there are a couple of things that will happen. First, they’ll continue to live with independence and dignity, because that’s where they’re most comfortable, at their own home; and secondly, it’s a cost saving for the government, because to put that senior in a long-term-care facility or in a hospital is an expensive proposition. It is most likely detrimental to their health when they actually can’t live at home, but also expensive for the government.

Through the healthy homes renovation credit, if it is passed, seniors will have the opportunity, even more so, to renovate, to update their home so they can make it more accessible. It’s a credit of up to $1,500 per year, if they spend up to $10,000, to put handrails at home, build ramps to make their homes more wheelchair accessible, put lift chairs in, for example, or make their washrooms more accessible. These kind of things will make it much easier for a lot of seniors to continue to live at home.

Here’s another great benefit of that initiative, and that is the jobs it will create in our economy when it comes to the construction, the renovation sector. In fact, it is estimated that 10,500 jobs per year will be created as a result of this tax credit.

So it’s an important step that on the one hand we are looking after our seniors, we are making sure that our seniors continue to at home, that they continue to live in dignity, that we provide the necessary services that they need at home, like doctors visiting or nurses visiting them at home or personal support workers coming to the home, as opposed to them getting those services in a long-term-care facility or in a nursing home. And they live with independence: Every senior that I have spoken to in my community of Ottawa Centre, that is something they want. They want to live in their homes as long as possible.

But there is a positive benefit to the economy as well because it will create jobs, which is very important as we go through these perilous economic times.

The other initiative, Speaker, that I want to talk about is the 30% reduction we have brought in post-secondary student fees both for universities and colleges. We know that education is absolutely key to grow a 21st-century economy, that one of the best assets we have in Ontario is its people. That skill set, that human resource, is going to ensure that we as an economy continue to grow, so we need to invest in our students from day one. That is why the full-day kindergarten program is so important, because it gives the kind of right start kids of all backgrounds need, coming from all parts of the province, no matter if they’re rich or poor or if they’re new to Canada or come from different ethnic or religious backgrounds. They get a great start through the full-day kindergarten program, making them more successful as they go into grade one and beyond.

Secondly, we have made tremendous advancement in our education system, to a point that we’re becoming the envy of the world. We are ranked an education system which is in the top 10 in the world. It has been recognized through all kinds of international ranking. Most recently the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development, the OECD, through its PISA testing, ranked Ontario in the top 10 in the world. McKinsey and Co. ranked it in the top five in the world, in the same category as Finland, Singapore and South Korea—

Mr. Jeff Leal: President Obama’s education secretary is looking—

Mr. Yasir Naqvi: President Obama’s education secretary is looking at the Ontario system and how we are doing things, where our graduation rates are going up, our class sizes are down and we’re narrowing the gap between students who had challenges in the past and those who succeed, by making sure that our students are doing better and better. That is putting in a foundation for us to grow in the future.

Hence the third part that of equation in order to develop that critical human skill, the great asset of ours in this province; that is, to invest in post-secondary education, to invest in our universities and our colleges so that our students can get the best education. Now, part of that exercise is to make sure that education remains accessible and affordable. That is why one of the commitments we, as the Liberal Party, made in the last election was to reduce tuition fees for low- and mid-income families—anywhere up to $160,000 or less—by 30%. Starting January 1, we brought in that measure so that we could reduce tuition fees. It’s really an effective tool, because it’s going to make sure that students can get a quality university or college education at an affordable price.

I want to do a plug here: Those students who are not on OSAP will not be automatically considered, so they have to go online and apply. The deadline is March 31. So if you have not been online yet to apply for the 30%-off grant, please do so. I believe you can just go to ontario.ca/30off, or you can go to the Facebook website, facebook.com/30off, and can get the information and apply online. I really encourage that. I encourage all the students who are in my riding, whether they go to Carleton University, which is located in Ottawa Centre, or the University of Ottawa, which is next door, or Algonquin College and La Cité collégiale.

All these things are extremely important to grow the 21st-century economy. We cannot continue to do things the way they were done in the past. That is just a non-starter. We’ve come a long way. The global economy has changed. When I hear ideas from the opposition parties that are a throwback from the past, this talk about how things were great in the past—they may have been, no doubt about it. But things have changed. We cannot just continue to do what we did 20 or 30 years ago or even perhaps in the last decade, to be successful today.

We need to continue to improve, and the best way to do it is to invest in our education system—I mean it—and that has got to start from day one when a child is born, by making sure there is quality child care, by making sure that the full-day kindergarten program is there for every single four- and five-year-old across the province, by making sure that grade 1 to grade 12 students are getting quality public education in our public schools and, of course, ensuring that we have the best universities and colleges in the world. That is the kind of investment we need to make that will help Ontario to grow, and not only will it help us to manage our challenges today, the fiscal challenges that we are very much committed to tackling and eliminating the deficit by 2017-18, but also, most importantly, to grow the economy, to create the new, modern, value-added, high-tech 21st-century jobs that this province very much needs.

Speaker, at this point I will urge all members to please vote in favour of this interim supply motion. It is extremely important. We need to make sure that this motion is passed so that we can continue to pay all our great service providers who provide valued public services to all Ontarians across the province, because it’s on their shoulders that we stand and enjoy such a great quality of life. Thank you very much.

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The Acting Speaker (Mr. Paul Miller): Further debate?

Mr. John Yakabuski: It’s my pleasure to join the debate on the interim supply motion.

I listened carefully, first, to the member for Burlington, and I want to congratulate her on her maiden speech today. I know that’s always a big day in this Legislature when you get to do your maiden speech. Also, it’s a day that you look forward to getting here, but you’re glad when it’s over too, because you’ve had lots of thinking and worrying: “Should I do this and should I have that?” You have, of course, a limited time. But I think the member for Burlington covered all the bases, and certainly we’re proud to have her as a member of the PC caucus here under Tim Hudak, our leader. She talked about only four members in the last 60-something years in Burlington—

Mrs. Jane McKenna: Sixty-eight.

Mr. John Yakabuski: Sixty-eight years. I expect that she’s going to be here representing Burlington for some time to come as well, and in the tremendously capable fashion that she’s already shown thus far. So congratulations to the member for Burlington.

I say that with respect to all of the new elected members here in the House. There are 16 new Progressive Conservatives, nine new members of the third party and six new members of the governing party, and I congratulate them all on their being elected to this House. I’m sure that each and every one of them we’ll hear from more and more as time goes on.

Now I’m going to talk a little bit about the interim supply motion and particularly the words that we heard from the member from Ottawa Centre, who came rushing in here—I thought maybe it was going to be like the sermon from the mount, that he had something rather important to say. But it was pretty innocuous stuff. It was the same old, same old stuff that we’ve been hearing from Liberals for months, trying to dodge and deflect the issues of the day and give the impression that they’re good stewards of the government and good stewards of the economy and the finances.

Speaker, we’re going to pass this interim supply motion because, of course, we want to ensure that the wheels of government don’t grind to a halt, even though we have mixed feelings on it because in the real world, if someone managed their affairs in the way that this government manages theirs—I say this to the Premier and to the Minister of Finance, because they’re the ones asking for this interim supply motion—one of two things would likely be happening: Someone would be appointed as a public guardian to run their affairs or someone would apply for and receive power of attorney to ensure that that person didn’t do damage to themselves because of the irresponsible way that they managed their own affairs.

In this province, there’s little we can do at this point, save and except for the next election, and I’m sure that when that time comes the people of the province of Ontario are going to send a very, very clear message to the sitting Liberals that, “We weakened you badly in the last election but, look, we’re taking you out in this one. It’s time for you to go.”

Mr. Phil McNeely: Oh, you’ve been saying that for years.

Mr. John Yakabuski: One of these days I’m going to be right, I say to the member for Ottawa–Orléans.

Let’s just look at some of the things that the member talked about. Actually, let’s touch on something that the member from Ottawa Centre didn’t talk about, but everybody has been talking about it since we came back here. You may have talked about it yourself, Speaker: the scandal enveloping the McGuinty government and the Minister of Health going on at Ornge. No disclosure of what’s happening; dodging and deflecting the questions—the very, very good questions—from the member from Newmarket–Aurora and the member from Kitchener–Waterloo, who have repeatedly raised the issue—and, of course, our leader, Tim Hudak, as well, the Leader of the Opposition—trying to get some answers as to what happened to bring this kind of mess at the provincially operated air ambulance system.

This scandal may be larger than eHealth. Some of the members are shaking their heads, and it’s because they’re saying, “Oh, no, eHealth was bigger. We were proud of that one too,” but they shouldn’t be proud of eHealth. You shouldn’t be—

Interjection.

Mr. John Yakabuski: I say to the member from Ancaster, you shouldn’t be proud of eHealth. You shouldn’t be proud of eHealth. It was a scandal of massive proportions, but you may have outdone yourselves with this Ornge scandal. What you should do is just put your heads down and try not to be seen, because this is something that’s going to—

Interjections.

The Acting Speaker (Mr. Paul Miller): Order.

Mr. John Yakabuski: —each and every one of you. The failure of the Minister of Health to deal with the scandal at Ornge is going to bring down every one of them. The people in this province are not going to forget the irresponsible way that you’ve handled this mess.

Twenty-five million dollars is actually totally unaccounted for: $25 million. So, what does the Premier want to talk about? Oh, he wants to talk—oh, here’s another one, Mr. Speaker. He wants to talk about subsidies.

The Premier likes to call revenue-sharing agreements subsidies. But if I say to the folks in the news department up there, in the gallery—you know, if you sign a contract with the Toronto Star and you’re delivering their newspapers and you say, “Well, look, I’ll deliver your newspapers but I want 10 or 12 cents per newspaper,” and then you start getting paid that and you look after the distribution of the newspapers, is that a subsidy or is that a revenue-sharing agreement that you’ve signed with them to do a certain job?

The Premier now wants to call a revenue-sharing agreement with the slots in Ontario racetracks a subsidy. You want to talk about what a subsidy is? A subsidy is when you pay an inflated price for something to actually bring it onboard and play it way above the market value because you want to ensure that it gets there; because you know that if it had to fight, sink or swim on its own merits, it wouldn’t be there.

Interjections.

The Acting Speaker (Mr. Paul Miller): There seems to be a lot of noise coming from that side of the House. I’d appreciate it if—

Interjections.

The Acting Speaker (Mr. Paul Miller): I can’t hear the speaker, so I’d like to tone it down a bit, please, and maybe if you want to make any comments, you’re in your own seat. Thank you.

Mr. John Yakabuski: Thank you, Mr. Speaker. I have to be careful when you stand because, as you see, I’ve cleared a bit of a way here. I’ve moved my chair out of the way, and in my haste to abide by your orders when you stood up, I went to—well, you know what could happen there, Mr. Speaker, so I have to be very, very careful.

So now we’re talking about what a subsidy is. We all understand: That’s when you pay far in excess of the value of something just to see it happen.

We’ve got a program here in the province of Ontario that is being subsidized to the tune of billions of dollars a year.

Interjection: Billions?

Mr. John Yakabuski: Billions. As Dr. Carl Sagan would have said, “Billions and billions.” Not millions, billions. Billions of dollars a year: subsidies for their failed green energy programs, their failed energy experiments.

Now we’ve got a situation with that subsidy where we take this power that we produce, but don’t need, at these gigantic industrial wind farms. Okay? We actually pay Quebec to take the power at times of low demand because the agreements the McGuinty government has signed with these people are that we’ll take that power whether we need it or not, whether we’ve got a place for it. As you know, the electricity system has to balance out. There has to be as much demand as there is produced. There’s no place to put it. So you’ve got to sell it, give it away or actually pay Quebec.

You ought to think of the unbelievable irony of that: paying the province of Quebec, which has the most massive hydraulic capabilities in any power system in North America, and they produce power at pennies per kilowatt hour, but they actually take our power that we’re subsidizing at the rate of 13.5 cents per kilowatt hour—and that’s just the price of the power. They’re taking it from us and getting paid to do so because we’re producing in excess at times of low demand because the McGuinty government has pretty well knocked out the manufacturing sector in this province.

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So Quebec then gets paid to take it at night, when the demand is low, so they use that expensive power that they’re actually getting paid to take and we are paying to subsidize the industrial wind farms here in the province of Ontario, and then when their demand goes up during the daytime, they release the water that they can store at their massive hydroelectric dams and Quebec gets power at a couple of cents a kilowatt hour.

It’s a wonderful, wonderful system for the people of the province of Quebec; not so good for the people of the province of Ontario. Those are the kinds of subsidies that are being paid—

Interjections.

Mr. John Yakabuski: They call that the global adjustment. Well, I’ll tell you what: In the old days, these folks over here would have received an attitude adjustment, because that’s exactly what needs to happen here, Mr. Speaker.

The kind of insanity that is going on in the back rooms where these decisions are made—and it goes back. I know we don’t want to speak ill of the dead, but I’ve got to talk about George Smitherman. This was the architect of the Green Energy Act. He’s gone from this place now, and even the Minister of Health wants to pretend she never knew him. But these were the things that George Smitherman left us with before he left: the Green Energy Act and the FIT program; the FIT program, which is the most massive subsidy in the history of Canada. We are paying that out so that Quebeckers can get free power—Quebeckers, who have the cheapest power in all of North America. The cheapest power available is in Quebec because it’s a massive hydraulic system that has the cheapest cost per kilowatt hour. Not only are we paying the most expensive, with the exception of Prince Edward Island, but we are giving it to the province that produces power at the cheapest rate. That’s what you call a subsidy. When Premier McGuinty wants to talk about a subsidy, he needs to look no farther than his Green Energy Act that he and George Smitherman cooked up over some sushi one day.

I don’t think I’m going to talk a whole lot longer, because I know we’ve got other members of the caucus too, but I could talk on a lot of things. The member talked about the 30% tuition cut. We all know that even the student unions are just livid about that, because it is the most misdirected, ill-conceived program you could ever think of trying to help students. Mr. Speaker, if you’re a student and you’re 22 years old, or you’re a single mother and you’d like to go back to school to get some upgrades, would you think that you might be in a financial need situation? Yeah, you might be, but you don’t qualify under the Liberal program. No.

You see, everything they’ve done for eight years has been done, “How can we get a political win out of this?” That’s the thing that gets me. They have stopped caring about what is good for Ontario or the people who live here. The only thing they look at in the future is, “What can we do, in a piecemeal way, to knock off, one by one, those little dominoes that may get us elected in the next election?” On one day, it’s going to be the seniors with the healthy homes tax credit, another joke of a program; another day, it will be the tuition cut of 30% for a selected group of students. It’s political dominoes, is what it is. One by one, they want to knock them down, and hopefully they can win another election.

The sad part is that if this government finds a way to hornswoggle the people once more, I’m worried about what might be left of the province of Ontario. Thank you very much.

The Acting Speaker (Mr. Paul Miller): Before debate continues, I’d like to introduce a long-time friend of mine, Ken Chartrand from Stoney Creek, in the west members’ gallery.

Further debate? The member from Timmins–James Bay.

Mr. Gilles Bisson: Speaker, you have friends. I’m impressed. That has got to be a hard cross to bear, I must say. Just joking, Speaker. You’re a good friend of mine and I know I’m your friend. We’re in the same caucus.

I want to just put a couple of things on the record. A wonderful thing, Mr. Speaker, today—we’re having a supply debate. Like a budget debate or like a debate around the throne speech, it gives us the ability to speak on different issues, so I’m going to raise two or three issues—and I warn you now: They’re going to be somewhat not connected. But it’s a supply bill, so I’m allowed to do that. I just want to go through it.

The first thing I want to talk about is an initiative that my good friend Mr. John Vanthof, myself, Mike Mantha and Madame Gélinas were very involved with, along with Sarah Campbell, from northern Ontario: the condition of northern highways. Mr. Speaker, this year—I know that it’s the case with the other northern members—we have never received more complaints in any other year in the past when it comes to the condition of our highways.

The government, in questions in the House last December, said, “Oh, it’s because of winter. It’s because winter has arrived and that’s why the highways are in a bad condition.” Mr. Speaker, I’ve been living in northern Ontario all my life, along with my colleagues, and we have never had a situation where we’ve seen highways in the condition that they were this December and this January: highway closures almost on a weekly basis. If you had six inches of snowfall on Highway 11 or Highway 144 or 655 or Highway 17 or wherever it might be, you were seeing road closures. Unfortunately, Mr. Speaker, we saw accidents where people died as a result of the condition of our roads. So I want to give some credit to my good friend Mr. Vanthof, the member from Timiskaming–Cochrane, who said, “Listen, we’ve got to do something about this,” along with my other northern colleagues. Mr. Vanthof had the great idea of creating what we call the northern road report. As a result of the northern road report, we had people from across northern Ontario—as we still do, when they see a condition on the highway—reporting it by way of that email, so that members like myself and Madame Gélinas and Monsieur Vanthof and others were able to meet with the Ministry of Transportation in order to raise those specific concerns so as to bring to the attention of the Ministry of Transportation the problem that we were having with our roads.

Mr. Speaker, I want to claim that we got a little bit of success. We haven’t fixed the problem—and I’ll explain the problem in a minute—but I can tell you that there have been some improvements, because as a result of some meetings that we had with the Ministry of Transportation, contractors have said—and they’ve been pretty categorical about this—that they had put some extra plows on the road. Hopefully, we should start seeing a difference. I would argue that road conditions are not what they used to be, but they’re certainly better than they were when we started in December. It goes to show that when people got involved in the process, they sent the emails, we were able to meet with the Ministry of Transportation, and we were able to put forward suggestions as to how we move forward to fix the roads.

I want to give MTO some credit where credit is due. The northern regional manager that we met with—

Interjection: Mr. Doidge.

Mr. Gilles Bisson: Mr. Doidge, Eric Doidge, who is the northern regional manager, was very responsive in getting back to Mr. Vanthof and myself and Mr. Mantha, and Madame Gélinas, I believe, as well, in order to try to respond to the concerns that we raised. He made his staff available to us; I want to thank him publicly for that. As a result, there has been some improvement in highway conditions.

But I want to say: Let’s not sit on our laurels, Mr. Speaker. It is yet to be seen if we’re out of the woods, because the issue is, there has been a change to the performance-based contracts. The new performance-based contract essentially has changed the route times which contractors have to be able to plow our highways, and as a result of that, it has meant less time on the road, which means less equipment, and that is essentially why we got the problem that we did.

We want to thank the ministry. There has been some improvement. We haven’t fixed the problem yet—I want to be clear about that—but there has been some response from the ministry, and we want to thank them.

Also, the minister, I want to say—Mr. Chiarelli—has talked to a number of us individually, and we’ve been trying collectively, but trying to schedule meetings around this place at times can be very difficult, because we all are very busy. But I know that the minister has been wanting to meet and certainly has discussed this individually with us and has had some concerns. So I want to say to the minister that it’s helpful.

But you’re not off the hook, Mr. Minister. We still have a problem, and what I hope to see is the result at the end of this year of comparing the amount of highway closures and the amount of accidents that we’ve had on our highways to the numbers in years before, and I think it’s going to demonstrate, quite frankly, that we still have a problem.

The challenge will be: How do we change the performance-based contracts next year so that in fact we’re able to maintain the level of—what’s the word I’m looking for?—the level of safety and maintenance on our highways that we’ve had in the past? So yes, there’s been a positive response, but I don’t think we’re out of the woods yet, and I just want to put for the record that it was helpful that the ministry and the minister tried to respond in the way that they did. We did have some progress, but we still have a ways to go.

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On the other side of it, I just want to raise another issue where I think the provincial and federal governments have fallen down entirely—on this, I’ll be very critical—and that’s the question of OxyContin. I, along with Sarah Campbell and Mr. Gravelle, represent communities that are landlocked. They’re communities where there’s no road to get in; the only way into those places, by winter or by summer, is to get on an airplane and fly in and fly out. We all know that there is a serious problem of addiction in those communities. Sometimes it’s alcohol; sometimes it’s drugs. And unfortunately, one of the drugs of choice over the years has been OxyContin.

I was just meeting yesterday with Elijah Moonias, who’s the chief of Marten Falls, and I asked him the question, point blank. I said, “Chief, in your community, when the tap runs out for this particular drug, what’s going to happen?” And I don’t want to repeat what he said, because it’s pretty depressing.

We have a crisis that’s brewing in those communities. There are people who will be coming off OxyContin and they have nowhere to go. You know—I am looking at the member across the way; I’m sorry I forget your name, but I know you understand this issue—the problem is that turning off the tap doesn’t necessarily break the addiction. It certainly takes them away from the drugs, but it creates a whole other set of problems, and there isn’t the support mechanism in our communities to ensure that we have the professionals in the community to deal with those people who are coming off the drug and are experiencing the awful experiences—I’m trying not to use the kind of language that I’d like to use, because it’s Parliament. But it’s going to be hell in those communities.

In some communities, the number of people on OxyContin is quite high. The percentages are a lot higher than people realize, and it’s going to create a real problem inside those communities. It’s going to be a problem for those who are coming off the drug. It’s going to be a problem for those people who are living in the same houses as those people who are off the drugs, because remember, we’re talking about communities where 20 people live in one house. If you’ve got one, two or three people coming off the drug at the same time, imagine what that’s going to mean to the other people living there. Grandmother, grandfather, brother, sister, husband, wife or children are going to be affected by what goes on in those houses.

I’m just pleading to both the federal and the provincial governments: We need to put in place a strategy that properly supports those communities so that we can deal with people as they get off the drugs. There are things that we can do. We all understand, on all sides of the House, that it’s difficult to accomplish these things, but I tell you, my friends, it’s going to be hell in those communities. When I heard what Eli and others have told me yesterday—I’m just going to leave it at that.

I see the minister is acknowledging this in debate, and I appreciate that. I hope we’re able to find a way forward to ensure that those communities and those people who are going to be coming off of these particular addictive drugs have the support mechanisms to get them there.

While I’m on it, I just—because I just finished meeting with the people from Heart and Stroke. There has been some real progress in a lot of our communities—not only in First Nations communities, but across Ontario—to get people to understand that a healthier way of life is the way, quite frankly, that we need to go, both from a personal perspective, as far as our own lives and wanting to live longer and have healthier lives, but also for our health care systems.

The challenge in the First Nations communities is that the challenge is this high, where it’s comparatively this high in other communities. Why? They’re isolated communities. There aren’t the types of facilities for people to go work out, like we have in our communities. We all have gyms. We have running tracks. We’ve got equipment. We have all of the things that we need in order to help us live a healthier lifestyle. In communities like Attawapiskat or Kashechewan or Peawanuck or wherever it might be, you don’t have those kinds of facilities.

So as we talk about living healthier lifestyles, I think we need to figure out, from our perspective, both federal and provincial governments—although health is now a provincial responsibility on reserve; it is no longer a federal responsibility, except for a couple of communities. As we talk about health promotion, we need to put in place for those First Nations communities a way for people to actually choose things that will allow them to be able to live that healthier lifestyle and eventually get to the way of recovery and the way of better health than what is going on now. So I just say to the minister, while she’s here, that she has to look at that.

I know my colleague—she wants how much more time? Because I’m about—

Mme France Gélinas: Whatever you want.

Mr. Gilles Bisson: Okay, very good. I’m just checking. We’re very democratic on this side of the House. We work these things out as we’re speaking.

I just want to raise another issue entirely, and that is on the issue of mining. I told you all of these things were going to be somewhat disconnected.

We have a huge opportunity in northern Ontario right now. We are seeing a boom in places like Sudbury, Kirkland Lake, Timmins, Red Lake and Matachewan, where mining is playing an amazing role to our communities.

Mind you, I want to remind people, there are many communities in northern Ontario that don’t have the benefit of having the geology or the mines in their backyards that create the kind of employment we see in Sudbury or Timmins or Kirkland Lake. Probably 80% or 90% of them don’t have that benefit.

But mining is going to provide, as it has in the past, a huge opportunity, not only for people in northern Ontario to get employment, both First Nations and non-First Nations, but it’s also going to be an opportunity to do what Ontario has always been good at, and that is to look at how we manage our natural resources in a way that we can most get the benefit here in Ontario to build a stronger economy.

The city of Toronto, people forget, was built on mining. Mining and forestry were what sustained the financial institutions in the city of Toronto. The TSX that we now take for granted as one of the most effective and one of the world leaders when it comes to a stock exchange for the commodities market was built on mining and forestry. So what’s good for northern Ontario is going to be extremely good for downtown Toronto, because at the end, it is the money from those natural resources that, quite frankly, sustains many of the jobs that we have here in downtown Toronto.

We have a place called the Ring of Fire. I remember I heard it mentioned a couple of budgets ago, where the government said, “Here’s a great opportunity.” And I agree with the government and their statement they did in the budget two years ago. But little has happened over the last two years to do the groundwork that needs to be done to ensure that all Ontario benefits from the Ring of Fire.

There is going to be a minimum of three mines running there in the next six to seven years. You’re going to have probably Noront for sure; it will be the first one up, running a nickel mine. You’ll have Cliffs Resources, and Noront shortly after, running chromite mines, and there are others that are there.

It is a prolific area when it comes to the geology and the ability to build mines there. You’re talking about ore bodies that are richer than we’ve seen in a whole bunch of other places in the world. It’s almost like the Porcupine camp and Sudbury put together, times two. That’s how rich this whole thing is. But we’ve done little in this province in order to figure out how we can benefit as much as possible as a result of what happens in those mines.

Let me just be very specific. One is the First Nations component. If we’re going to have development in those communities—and we are going to have development in those areas—we need to get right how we deal with First Nations, so that First Nations become real partners in the development of these operations, and not only real partners from the perspective of getting a job, but real partners when it comes to the ability to start businesses and do the economic development that they need in their communities to build the communities that we have in places like Timmins or Sudbury or Toronto.

When you’re living in Marten Falls or you’re living in Attawapiskat, it is a bit of a stretch, in this current environment, to have the confidence in thinking that those mines are going to benefit you to the degree that you do, because without government involvement in making sure the right things happen, you’re not going to get the maximum benefit.

The first thing I would say is, we need to move forward by making sure that we have in place good policy with regard to what the responsibility of the mining and exploration community is when it comes to those particular developments, and what the responsibility of the federal and provincial government is in regard to making sure that First Nations are not only able to get jobs but are able to benefit from the economic activities in their own territories.

The other part is, I very much fear—and I say today in the House, on March 7—that, left alone, chromite will not be processed in Ontario under the current system. It is pretty clear in my mind, as I look at where things are going in the Ring of Fire, we’re going to be mining what is essentially called lumpy ore, shipping it to British Columbia and putting it on boats and sending it to China for processing. I think, “What a stupid thing to do.” Why don’t we, as a province, position ourselves so that we can maximize those jobs created not only from mining but the value-added jobs that come after by way of refining and smelting? We’ve seen in Timmins, we’ve seen in Sudbury, the benefit that brings to not only our communities but the benefit it brings to all of Ontario.

I think that what we need to do—we need to do two things. We have to have a carrot and we have to have a stick approach. We have to say to the mining companies, “Listen, let us help you make those investments by being at the table to talk about the development of infrastructure to the Ring of Fire.” I’m not talking about building the mine, but the road or the rail that’s got to get there; the power developments that have to happen; the training that has to happen in order to support those industries, in order to make sure that they have the workforce to be able to deploy in those particular projects—all of the ancillary issues when it comes to infrastructure development of the mine. Then we say to the companies, “We’re prepared to do that, but here’s the quid pro quo: You will have to refine and smelt in this province; otherwise, we’ll prevent you by way of a stick,” and that is amending the Mining Act, saying that you can’t move ore out of this province unless it’s processed here in the province or we give you permission.

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I think most mining companies—I know in the case of Noront, I’ve had these discussions with them. My colleagues and I actually went to the Cowper Lake site to visit both the Noront site and the Cliffs resources site. I know, at least from the conversations that I’ve had with the mining companies, they’re prepared to invest in Ontario if the conditions are right: if they have power rates that make sense; if they have the training they need to get the workforce that runs those mines; if we’re able to help with the infrastructure to get to the place. For example, if I build an auto plant in Windsor, I’ll build highways to it; I’ll bring services to the property. We should be doing the same, I believe, when it comes to those mines. I think if we do this right, we will not only see those mines go into production, but we will also see the value-added smelting and refining opportunities that come from that and everything else after.

I know that our colleague Mr. Mantha is working hard as our critic on a policy that we’ll be announcing in the not-too-distant future about how we deal with the Ring of Fire and how we deal with mining generally in this province. I think there’s a huge opportunity here that we can’t let go.

With that, Mr. Speaker, I know my collègue, la membre de Nickel Belt, a une couple d’affaires qu’elle veut dire sur ce débat, et je remercie les membres de l’Assemblée d’avoir écouté mon débat. Merci.

The Acting Speaker (Mr. Paul Miller): Further debate?

Mr. John O’Toole: It’s a pleasure to speak on this supply motion this afternoon and to bring to the attention of the members attending and listening here this afternoon some issues that affect my riding. I’ll try not to be overtly political, but I will make a fair commentary on issues that are important to my constituents. They range from current issues of legislation that are before us—I’m just reading an article in the clippings here on Bill 13. This is by Moira Macdonald, on education, from this morning: “Stop the Bullying.” That’s an issue that’s not getting a lot of attention in the riding, in fairness. I think some of the leaders in the community are sort of avoiding talking about the issue, which isn’t helpful.

I want to start by saying that in the real, practical sense, I agree with, for instance, the private member’s bill that our leader, Tim Hudak, introduced earlier this afternoon, re-examining the whole feed-in tariff and renewable energy policy that the current government has basically screwed up in terms of—that may not be the right choice of words. But when you look at the charges for the dispatch price and the market price that they’re guaranteeing, all this money, the revenue for it, is made up from other charges that are put on people’s bills, and I think it’s just not acceptable. You see it in businesses in my riding. In fact, that’s one of the key things. If you look as far back as Sir Adam Beck, the policy at that time was energy at cost, and what he meant was energy at any cost. In fact, he built the manufacturing sector based on having safe, reliable, affordable energy. That’s exactly what Tim’s bill is trying to do: It’s trying to relate, as was said in question period today, that there’s a reciprocal relationship between the cost of energy and jobs. So if the cost of energy is up, then the loss in jobs is up. Do you understand? It’s sort of an inverse relationship, I guess you’d say. That’s where we are today.

In fact, one of my constituents on that file who is very well qualified—if I could be so bold as to mention his name: Michael Patrick. He’s an electrical engineer, I believe, and an MBA. At one time, he worked for the Ministry of Economic Development, I believe. He is the owner of Bowmanville Foundry. The foundry is where they make metal parts. They have an electric arc furnace, and so their electricity bill is about $100,000 a month. Half of that bill is this new charge that is the global adjustment.

There was a question asked by our member from Nipissing, Mr. Fedeli, our critic. I thought it was an excellent question. Most members don’t get it, but the global adjustment is collecting around $800 million a year—and it’s going to soon be $8 billion a year—from business.

There’s an employer in my community with about 100 employees, roughly. He has done everything to make his operation effective, efficient, and yet the more efficiency he spends money on, the more he pays in this global adjustment, which is really part of the feed-in-tariff discussion, which is the high rates of electricity—in a range of 80 cents for microFIT solar to something in the order of 15 cents per kilowatt hour for other renewables like wind.

The real issue here is that we’re paying them 80 cents. If you can figure this business model out, Mr. Speaker, we’re paying 80 cents for solar and selling it for under 10 cents.

More problematic is the question of, when you look at the system, the baseload is nuclear, of course—and I’m proud to have the Darlington nuclear plant in my riding, and the Pickering plant is in Durham region as well. The baseload is about 50% nuclear, and then there’s hydroelectric and then there’s gas.

Coal plants, in fairness—I want to make this very clear. I’m happy to see Elizabeth Witmer from Kitchener here. When she was the minister, she was the one who announced the closure of the Lakeview plant. In fact, I was there. That is the only coal plant that’s been closed. Who closed it? Elizabeth Witmer.

You’d remember this, Mr. Speaker: They promised in the 2003 election, the McGuinty—I don’t know how to get around it; I can’t use the word “lied.” They promised to close the coal plants. Now I’m going to put it on the table: Did they keep their word? They haven’t. They’re not closed. In fact, the truth is, they’re not going to close them at all.

Mr. Phil McNeely: Yes, we will.

Mr. John O’Toole: No, no. What they’re going to do is burn biomass. What’s biomass? It’s wood. What is wood? Wood is carbon. The only difference is it’s not coal; it’s carbon. Wood is carbon. It’s a carbon sink, actually.

They have not got anything right on this file at all.

Bringing it back to my business, my constituent is in the situation where he may have to move to the United States, not just because of the dollar problem, but because of the cost of energy.

Look at northern Ontario. The plight in northern Ontario is all costs—the pulp and paper industry was the lifeblood of northern communities, the wood fibre industry. What was the major cost of input for that business? The business cost was the price of energy. Now, the price of energy, when they had unmanaged hydroelectric dams that should have been built in northern Ontario and used to offset—and some of the companies did build dams, and yet they’re going to be charged these global adjustments that I referred to, as well. It’s just tragic.

If I share with the consumers, especially the seniors who might be listening today—please open up your electricity bill and look at all the charges on there. You’ll find about 40% of the total bill of $100—probably about $40 will be the actual electricity or electrons that you used. The rest is all these McGuinty charges. It’s just unacceptable. That’s just one file that is totally fouled up—totally fouled up. I don’t want to go on anymore on that one.

I look at my riding: What’s the infrastructure we need? They promised, Mr. Speaker—another promise to build the 407 to 35/115. In fact, I have a signed document from Greg Sorbara, who was then the Minister of Finance, and the Minister of Finance federally saying it would be built. There was an agreement about the York-Spadina subway extension, how the money would flow.

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You know something, Mr. Speaker? They have obfuscated or skated around the real truth. Highway 407 is not going to be built. I put on the table here that I have lost complete confidence in the McGuinty government. I don’t like it when they don’t deliver on their promises—none of them.

Interjection.

Mr. John O’Toole: No, it’s dreadful. I mean significant promises.

Now, it was 2003 when they promised it. They promised it again in 2007, and they promised it in 2011. I put to you today that I suspect that they’re going to further delay the 407 east expansion in this budget.

Don’t promise things you can’t deliver. It’s like telling your children you’re going to get them a pony. You’ve seen that advertisement on television for the bank. That’s what the guy did: “Oh, would you like a pony?” And he gave them a little plastic pony. Honest to God. The other ad that reminds me of is “hand in your pocket.” The HST: He said, “I promise I won’t raise your taxes.” He has raised taxes almost to the stratosphere. There’s that old expression, “Fool me once,” but I don’t want to use it because I’ll probably screw it up. All I’m saying is, there’s enough evidence that “trust” becomes an important word in political or public policy discussions.

Just recently, our member Frank Klees has carried the torch on the complete and utter mismanagement of Ornge. Today, they threw George Smitherman under the bus. If you read the article in the paper, they threw him right under the bus. They would blame anybody except take responsibility themselves. That’s the most disheartening part of this whole thing. They’ll blame Stephen Harper on the transfer payments, when he said he’s going to give them 6% per year for the next several years. I can tell you right now that it’s disheartening.

Mr. Speaker, I know that you have to be neutral in that chair, but I know you feel roughly the same. I know your passion for your riding. I’ve heard you speak compassionately in the past.

There’s another one here. I was at a meeting this week, on Monday morning actually. I went to a meeting with the leaders in Durham region. The regional chairman and all the mayors were there, and Mr. Bruce McCuaig, who is president and CEO of Metrolinx. Now they’ve promised to put the GO train to Bowmanville. It’s not there. There is not one dollar in the budget. In fact, this was pointed out. It’s not been funded; there’s no money. Don’t promise things you’re not prepared to deliver.

Now, here’s the conundrum. If you promise something and then find out later you can’t afford it, well, you shouldn’t have promised it. Why do I say that? Well, you can’t promise things unless you’ve done the due diligence, actually looked at the risk assessment, the business, the finances. That’s exactly the dilemma I find us in today on almost everything.

In the very little time I have left, I want to put on the table a very important sector in my riding of Durham, which I’m very proud to serve. It’s Uxbridge, a nice, small, prosperous community of just under 20,000 people; a wonderful mayor, Gerri Lynn O’Connor. Then we have Scugog township—really, Port Perry is the major city—another under 20,000, and a wonderful mayor, Chuck Mercier. He’s an excellent mayor. The other part, of course, is Clarington, about 80,000 people, and Mayor Adrian Foster.

I work very closely with them. I consider them my key partners to represent them in a non-partisan way, to be truthful. I say to the government, these are the things that are priorities for my constituents. In almost every case, they’re disappointed.

They’ve promised the nuclear plant. Now, they’re going to do the refurbishment. I think it was approved last week. The refurbishment is about a 10-year project, really, to refurbish the four reactors. We understand this is an important investment, but if you look back—I started with the energy file—the other nuclear plant is in Pickering, and they’re planning to mothball that plant. I’m putting another thing on the table: That is a mistake. You’re going to have a supply problem big time, because renewable energy is not dispatchable. When it’s not sunny, there’s no sun-powered electricity. When it’s not windy, there’s no wind power.

But anyway, I have pretty well used as much time as I was permitted to use. There are other people who want to speak and I’m going to stop right now. Thank you very much.

The Acting Speaker (Mr. Paul Miller): Further debate? The member from Nickel Belt.

Mme France Gélinas: Thank you, Mr. Speaker. It’s always a pleasure to see you sitting in that chair. It’s also my pleasure to add my voice to the interim supply motion that was tabled today.

I will start by making reference back to the Heart and Stroke Foundation people, who are here at Queen’s Park today. They have run a very dynamite campaign to really try to change things so that we have better health. Their campaign is called “Better Health is Worth 0.5%.”

I guess we all know that Ontario is facing an urgent health care crisis. But as they say, the real tragedy is that it is preventable. Did you know, Mr. Speaker, that 80% of heart disease and stroke and about half of all cancers can be prevented through healthy public policy and lifestyle changes? Think about it, Mr. Speaker: 50% of all cancer. That’s one in two who have cancer could be prevented. Some 80% of heart disease, strokes. You know how much hardship is brought upon an individual or a family when somebody has a stroke? Well, 80% of them could be prevented if Ontario had a good health promotion strategy.

We spend close to $47 billion a year treating people once they’re already sick, but we spend less than 0.35% of 1% of that trying to keep people healthy. The people at the Heart and Stroke Foundation, and certainly the people on this side of the House and in my party, would like to see that change, and I think we have the opportunity to do this through this interim supply motion that is in front of us.

I was really taken aback when I saw that Ontario, which was one of the first provinces to bring a Ministry of Health Promotion, had actually taken it away. We don’t have a Ministry of Health Promotion anymore. We still have some health promotion initiatives, but as I said, they represent a very minute part of what we do in health care: 0.35% of 1% we spend on keeping people healthy. Yet we know that we could have tremendous impact on the people of Ontario, on their quality of life and on the money we spend if we were serious about getting a good, strong, robust health promotion strategy that would put a determinants-of-health lens onto everything that the government does.

To give you an example I can’t understand how come in 2012, in my own riding, I see new housing development going on, beautiful new houses being built with all of the new people working at the mines, but you know what, Mr. Speaker? Those new housing developments are built without a sidewalk. Those developments are built in a way that they expect each and every family to hop into the minivan to drive to the soccer field. Why is it that we don’t put a determinants-of-health lens? A determinants-of-health lens will tell you that urban planning should be done so that people could walk.

Make the healthy decision the easy decision: If you have a sidewalk in front of your home, chances are that you will go push the stroller down on a nice day. Older people will feel safe to go for a walk. Your kids will walk to the playground, rather than hop into the back of the minivan and be driven over there.

We have to look at our environment as a way to make people healthy rather than relying on the health care system to fix us up once we’re already sick. It is too late. It is too late on the hardship that it causes on people, but it is also too late because it’s an opportunity lost. A lot of those diseases are preventable, yet we’re not working upon them.

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Mr. Frank Klees: Point of order, Speaker.

The Acting Speaker (Mr. Paul Miller): Point of order, the member from Newmarket–Aurora.

Mr. Frank Klees: Thank you, Speaker. Speaker, I want to inform the House that I have tabled an opposition day motion—

The Acting Speaker (Mr. Paul Miller): That’s not a point of order. You know, under regular circumstances you can certainly get that onto the record at a different time. This is not the place for it. Thank you.

Mr. Frank Klees: Thank you. I did want to let the House know—

The Acting Speaker (Mr. Paul Miller): Thank you very much.

The member from Nickel Belt.

Mme France Gélinas: Thank you, Mr. Speaker. Actually, I will take 30 seconds to thank the member from Newmarket–Aurora for tabling that important motion. It’s a little bit unfortunate that the procedures in this House did not allow him to expand upon it, but it’s certainly something important; that is, to create a select committee to get to the bottom of what happened at Ornge.

The hundreds of people that have come to me and that have come to this member have a story to tell. Right now, we know bits and pieces of what happened at Ornge. Actually, we know a little bit more than what we’re allowed to share, because a lot of those people that come to me and that come to the member from Newmarket–Aurora come to us and say, “But you can’t tell, because if you tell, they’ll know that I’m the one who gave you that information because I’m the only one that had access to that information.”

Those people want a safe forum to be able to come and share with this House what they know and how come we ended up in the mess that we are now in with Ornge, where a few people got very, very rich in a web of tangled companies that were all surrounding a not-for-profit agency that we call air ambulance Ontario, Ornge Ontario.

So I certainly commend the member for tabling that motion, and I can assure him that from the New Democrats it will have our full support to move that motion forward.

I also want to talk about another group that is here today. I had the pleasure to talk with Rob Heinman, who is a firefighter from the city of Greater Sudbury. It kind of surprised me to hear about his message. I remember my leader, Andrea Horwath, the member for Hamilton Centre—she was not our leader at the time, but, man, did she bring forward a hell of a campaign to make sure that firefighters had presumptive legislation. That is, we can see that a lot of the firefighters who get sick, most of the time from cancer—we can see that there is a direct link, Mr. Speaker, with the work that they have done. The work that they do made them sick. They work that they do gives them cancer, yet they were not allowed compensation. Although they got sick because of what they did at work, the way the law was structured, those people were not allowed to be compensated.

My leader, Andrea Horwath, fought really hard. She brought in the statistics. We looked at the incidents. We looked at what happened on some of the big fires where a lot of firefighters got sick. And with a lot of hard work and a lot of meetings, we finally got presumptive legislation for firefighters, but they are here today at Queen’s Park again asking us to basically come through on the legislation we put forward.

There are still a lot of firefighters who are getting sick, who are getting cancer. When you look at the epidemiology and when you look at the statistics, you can see that their rates of those diseases are way higher than the general population. If you start to take into account that generally speaking, fire suppression firefighters, the active ones—that’s a little pun for the guys who do fire inspection. The guys who work in suppression tend to be healthy, but yet, they will have rates of certain cancers that you cannot explain by any other means than the fact that they are firefighters.

They and their association are here today at Queen’s Park, advocating for their fellow members who are fighting a fight themselves. They are fighting cancer. There are about 100 firefighters right now in Ontario that have a diagnosis of cancer where we can make the link between the job that they did protecting ourselves and our property and the disease that they got, but yet to this day the government refuses to recognize that this is a disease they got on the job and they should get compensation for that. So they are here today asking for her support, and I hope we will give it to them.

Regarding interim supply, we know that the Ministry of Health represents a big chunk of the expenses of this government. Forty-seven billion dollars is a lot of money no matter how you look at it. Yet there are good practices—I would call them best practices—that exist out there that fail to be implemented.

Yesterday, we were all proud to wear our little bluish-purple ribbon for epilepsy. Yet those people were here to tell us that there are hundreds and thousands of people that have epilepsy in Ontario that don’t have equitable access to treatment because right now only Toronto and London have specialized care for epilepsy. You know what that means, Mr. Speaker? That means that if you live in northern Ontario, where I happen to live and where a good percentage of our population do live, you don’t have access. That means that you are seen by your family physician, who will more than likely put you on Dilantin and hope that your convulsions stop. There are many other anticonvulsant medications out there that are covered by this government, but they don’t have access to the physicians who know about them and know how to prescribe them.

We have an opportunity right here right now to say that we will look at equity of access, so that no matter where you live in Ontario you will have the same quality of care. The best practices are already there, but yet we trail behind in rolling out their implementation.

We also had the neurotrauma institute that came. They have developed some really innovative best practices, whether you talk about fall prevention or whether you talk about pressure ulcers, the bedsores that a lot of people with neurotrauma get, unfortunately, especially spinal cord injury people. Those are low-tech. It just needs to be implemented. We have what I call the valley of death. We have the strong, robust research that is being supported by this government—thank you—but then you have the valley of death. It doesn’t get implemented, and if it does, it gets implemented in a few pilot projects but never gets rolled out in a way that would guarantee equitable access to every Ontarian no matter where they live, especially when those techniques, as I say, are low-tech. They don’t cost more money; they just need people to know about them and put them into practice. It is really a huge opportunity lost.

A lot of what I have been talking about is prevention. When we look at a budget that is facing a $16-billion deficit, we want to make sure that the money we spend is money well spent, that gives us good results for the investment that we make. There are hundreds of opportunities to make those investments give us better results, but we don’t act upon them.

I’d like to talk a little bit about the opportunities that lie in long-term care. Our long-term-care system is going through a bit of a rough time right now. You see, Mr. Speaker, they had been promised a 3% increase for the next three years, but now, like everybody else, they read the Drummond report, they read the paper, they hear about the austerity measures coming, and they don’t know. The fact that they don’t know makes it really hard to manage and really hard to get good value for money when you don’t know how much money you’re going to get.

1710

Oh, and look at this: We have a new Speaker. You look pretty good in this chair, Mr. Flynn, and congratulations on becoming the Speaker. I just realized that we have a new Speaker in there.

The Acting Speaker (Mr. Kevin Daniel Flynn): Temporary.

Mme France Gélinas: Temporary? Well, you know.

We also had a group come to Queen’s Park last week. They were talking to us about chronic pain, and that will tie in to what the member from James Bay—

Interjection: Timmins–James Bay.

Mme France Gélinas: —Timmins–James Bay was talking about a few minutes ago, and that is the need for opioids, the need for narcotic medications, for some of the people that struggle with chronic pain.

But you know what, Mr. Speaker? Since November of last year, there is a comprehensive strategy that has been worked upon and presented at the wish of the government—the government asked a task force to look at chronic pain management. The task force got together, got to work, looked at the best practices, looked at what could be done, and prepared a comprehensive report, a comprehensive chronic pain strategy, and they delivered it to the minister last November. This document has not been made public. This document has been sitting there.

Meanwhile, we’re introducing a massive change in the limited toolbox that a primary care physician has to treat pain; that is, we’re taking away OxyContin, with the devastating impact it has had. Do I want better management of narcotics? Absolutely. But I’m not blind. I can see what it will do to the people in my riding. We have hundreds of people addicted to that drug, and all of a sudden, we change the supply side of the equation. We’re going to take that drug away. We’re going to make it harder for people to get, and we’re going to force a whole bunch of people that are addicted to this drug to transition to a new drug.

I can tell you exactly what will happen in my riding. A whole bunch of people that are addicted won’t have any support whatsoever to deal with their addiction, but they will want that drug and it will drive their lives. They will go knock on every walk-in clinic; they will go to every emergency room that they can drive to; they will do anything they can to get a physician to prescribe it.

You know what that will mean to the primary care physicians, who will be bombarded by people that are dealing with an addiction and have nowhere to go but to knock on their office door and ask for a prescription for a narcotic that is no longer available to them? Not a pretty sight. Well, this is the sight that primary care physicians in northern Ontario are expected to look at.

Are there ways to deal with chronic pain? Absolutely. Are there a lot of people that are presently on narcotics that shouldn’t be? Absolutely. Can we do better? I think we have to. But right now, we have the supply side of the equation that will be changed completely, but the human side is not being looked at whatsoever.

In the transition, it would be really nice to know: Where can people with musculoskeletal problems get physiotherapy, which is a good way to manage pain? Where could they get, maybe, acupuncture? Maybe they could get a little bit of chiropractic. Maybe they could—

Interjection.

Mme France Gélinas: But none of this is available to them. The only thing that is available free of charge is the visit to the physician, the prescription and the going to the pharmacy. So this is available to them; this is the course of action that we have given to them. Although a lot of other options exist, they are not available. Very few communities have free access to physiotherapy; you have to pay to go there. Why do you figure they didn’t go there in the first place, Mr. Speaker? Why is it that their family physicians, who know that this pain could probably be managed with a good physiotherapy program, didn’t send them there in the first place? Because those people don’t have the money to pay. Well, years later, with an addiction added into the mix, physiotherapy is still not an option, acupuncture is still not an option, and chiropractors are still not an option because they don’t have the money to pay. We have our massage therapy or laser; the list goes on. But none of this is covered. So the options that people with limited means can get access to are being completely changed with nothing else to replace them.

But yet, at the same time, we have a report that sits on the minister’s desk, a report that would put forward some good solutions to help the primary care physicians who will be stuck handling this when we haven’t added anything to their toolbox to be able to do that job.

Yesterday, some of you who are connected to health care would have gotten an email from the community health centre movement, the association of community health centres. A new report has been rolled out that shows with glowing statistics—I wish I had memorized them—the good outcomes that community health centres bring to our communities. We could see that if you receive your primary care from a community health centre—I haven’t memorized the statistics, it’s but close to 30% less visits to the emergency department. The report was glowing from the beginning to the end.

So through this interim supply motion, are we going to see a shift toward community-governed interdisciplinary care? I hope so, Mr. Speaker, but allow me to be skeptical. We have good models in place; we have opportunities to do better with the resources that already exist. I think what we need is a bit of political will to do the right thing.

Ça m’a fait plaisir de prendre quelques minutes cet après-midi pour ajouter ma parole à ceux et celles qui avaient parlé avant moi au sujet de cette proposition. La proposition est faite dans un cadre où on sait tous que le budget de l’Ontario fait face à un gros déficit—un déficit de 16 milliards de dollars. On sait que tout le monde devra mettre l’épaule à la roue. Tout le monde devra faire l’effort. Mais à même les argents existants, il y a des possibilités qui sont là. J’espère qu’on va les regarder et qu’on va les mettre en marche. Merci, monsieur le Président.

The Acting Speaker (Mr. Paul Miller): Further debate?

Mrs. Elizabeth Witmer: I’m very pleased to speak to this motion which, of course, concerns money. I just want to take a look at an issue very briefly, where I believe the Ontario Liberal government has squandered a tremendous amount of taxpayer money. It concerns their very sudden decision to pull the plug on the power plant in Mississauga just 12 days before last October’s closely fought provincial election. They gave absolutely no reason—the Premier did not at all. He was very vague as he tried to explain why he did this, but we all know that the cancelling of that plant was exorbitant. In fact, we’ve heard estimates that the poor taxpayer in the province of Ontario is going to be paying up to $1 billion. This is at a time when this government also has a $16-billion deficit. You have to ask yourself—this plant went through an arduous three-year approval process; it had the blessing of the McGuinty government in 2008; construction began in 2011; and then, shortly after, McGuinty, the Premier, announced that the plant would be stopped, even though the workers continued to be there for 58 more days. So here we have a problem of the cancellation of a plant. We all need to remember that earlier in 2010 they had stopped the construction of an even larger power plant in Oakville worth $1.2 billion. Taxpayers deserve to know why they’re squandering money like this.

The Acting Speaker (Mr. Paul Miller): Further debate?

Mr. Milloy has moved government notice of motion number 19. Is it the pleasure of the House that the motion carry? Carried.

Motion agreed to.

The Acting Speaker (Mr. Paul Miller): Orders of the day.

Hon. Kathleen O. Wynne: Mr. Speaker, I move adjournment of the House.

The Acting Speaker (Mr. Paul Miller): Is it the pleasure of the House that the motion carry? Carried.

This House stands adjourned until 9 a.m., March 8, 2012.

The House adjourned at 1721.

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