L256a - Thu 4 Dec 1997 / Jeu 4 Déc 1997
PRIVATE MEMBERS' PUBLIC BUSINESS
PROTECTION AGAINST PEDOPHILES ACT, 1997 / LOI DE 1997 SUR LA PROTECTION CONTRE LES PÉDOPHILES
GOOD SAMARITAN ACT, 1997 / LOI DE 1997 SUR LE BON SAMARITAIN
PROTECTION AGAINST PEDOPHILES ACT, 1997 / LOI DE 1997 SUR LA PROTECTION CONTRE LES PÉDOPHILES
GOOD SAMARITAN ACT, 1997 / LOI DE 1997 SUR LE BON SAMARITAIN
FAMILY RESPONSIBILITY OFFICE
DRINKING AND DRIVING
NIAGARA ESCARPMENT COMMISSION
BLAKE MULLIN, DAVID STANLEY AND DONALD HILBORNE
DAY OF REMEMBRANCE AND ACTION ON VIOLENCE AGAINST WOMEN
INTRODUCTION OF BILLS
MILK AMENDMENT ACT, 1997 / LOI DE 1997 MODIFIANT LA LOI SUR LE LAIT
HIGHWAY TRAFFIC AMENDMENT ACT (DRIVER TRAINING COURSE), 1997 / LOI DE 1997 MODIFIANT LE CODE DE LA ROUTE (COURS DE CONDUITE AUTOMOBILE)
ILLEGAL TIRE DUMPS
VIOLENCE AGAINST WOMEN
BUSINESS OF THE HOUSE
OCCUPATIONAL HEALTH AND SAFETY
FIRE IN HAMILTON
CERTIFIED GENERAL ACCOUNTANTS
RÉFORME DU SYSTÈME D'ÉDUCATION
CERTIFIED GENERAL ACCOUNTANTS
ORDERS OF THE DAY
DEVELOPMENT CHARGES ACT, 1997 / LOI DE 1997 SUR LES REDEVANCES D'AMÉNAGEMENT
The House met at 1002.
PRIVATE MEMBERS' PUBLIC BUSINESS
PROTECTION AGAINST PEDOPHILES ACT, 1997 / LOI DE 1997 SUR LA PROTECTION CONTRE LES PÉDOPHILES
Mr Brown moved second reading of the following bill:
Bill 145, An Act to provide protection against pedophiles by preventing them from working in direct contact with children / Projet de loi 145, Loi prévoyant la protection contre les pédophiles en empêchant ceux-ci de travailler en contact direct avec des enfants.
Mr Jim Brown (Scarborough West): There is no crime as reprehensible as child sexual abuse. Pedophiles are the stuff parents' nightmares are made of and pedophiles tend to be serial offenders. The majority continue to offend throughout their lives.
Several recent stories in the media have brought the issue of pedophilia into the forefront of public consciousness. Gordon Stuckless molested several young boys at Maple Leaf Gardens in the 1970s and 1980s. One of his victims took his own life last month, following what was widely considered to be a very light sentence for the offender.
Coach Graham James also preyed on young boys. His victims included NHL player Sheldon Kennedy when he was a kid. Many more players bravely came forward. A minor sports coach took advantage of our kids.
Joseph Fredericks was on parole for abduction and sexual assault. He was released into the Brampton community while on parole. He applied to coach minor baseball. While he was on parole he abducted, sexually assaulted and murdered Christopher Stephenson.
These highly publicized cases are really only the tip of the iceberg of the problem of pedophilia. The Globe and Mail quoted a Metro police document that showed almost 3,000 sexual assaults on children over a two-year period. There were also nearly 1,000 sexual interferences with a minor charge for the same period.
Experts estimate that one in four girls and one in eight boys experience sexual abuse as a child. An Australian study of 232 convicted pedophiles revealed they had each committed offences with an average of 76 children before they were caught. Pedophiles are serial offenders.
Dr William Glaser, a Melbourne, Australia, forensic psychiatrist said most pedophiles are "long-term offenders who have multiple victims." Sex offenders are the oldest group in the prisons. Burglars, car thieves and brawlers all give up their criminal careers in their 30s, but pedophiles keep on going.
Pedophiles are cunning and devious offenders who tend to be good with children, which is why they are so dangerous. They groom their child victims, building a complex relationship which, for the child, is exploitive and loving, cruel and kind, perverted and normal all at the same time. The average age of child sexual abuse victims is only 11 years old. Pedophile offenders are repeat offenders. Many pedophiles live in society undetected for years. Of those who are caught, the rate of recidivism is alarmingly high.
A study published by the American Psychological Association followed 115 child molesters after being discharged from prison. The recidivism rate was 14% at three years after discharge, 30% at 10 years and 52% at 25 years after release. Rapists have a disproportionately high rate of recidivism. A study on reoffence rates conducted at Brandeis University found child molesters were 100% more likely than rapists to reoffend. For many pedophiles, child sexual abuse is a lifetime pursuit, broken up only by jail terms if caught and convicted.
While most of us would like to believe that once a pedophile sex offender is convicted the danger has passed, that is rarely the case. The average sentence length of all sex offenders admitted to federal custody in Canada in 1995 was only four years and three months. Take away time for good behaviour or possible early release, and the threat is unbelievably high. In fact, time actually served averages at about 1.5 years.
In early 1996, a Hamilton court sentenced pedophile Keith Legere to a three-year probation because he violated a court order to stay away from children. The court order breach came as a result of approaching two toddlers. In 1988, the same man served only three years for the manslaughter of a six-year-old boy.
The Internet is full of sites catering to pedophiles, with sickeningly extensive collections of child pornography. Law enforcement agencies find the authors of these perverse Web sites very difficult to trace. The United Kingdom's "dæmon" Web server, often criticized for allowing its members to post illicit and illegal material, even has a page explaining ways to make your Web page more difficult to trace. Recent years have seen several child sex rings and child pornography rings in our own suburbs.
Because of the nature of their crimes, pedophiles often seek positions of trust with children, like coaching sports or leading community youth groups. Detective Wendy Leaver of the Metropolitan Toronto Police sexual assault squad said that school board screening policies are inconsistent across the province. Yes, school board screening policies are inconsistent. Some boards ask job applicants and would-be volunteers to submit to police screening, but most do not.
She wrote: "The pedophile is someone who is quite well known in the community and is going to be found working with children and knowing everything about children. What we observe in pedophiles is they love children and that is their whole goal in life. Screening is important, especially in the wake of an arrest of an elementary school principal in Burnaby, BC, charged with pornography and child sex offences."
Detective Leaver said that some schools are reluctant to call the police even if they suspect an employee of abusing children because they are worried about the school's reputation. In fact, the OSSTF manual specifies accused teachers must meet with the principal and victim to try to resolve the problem before police are called.
Pedophiles can walk into a room with a bunch of kids and in 10 minutes know who to target. They seek to win over the children with attention, affection and gifts. They do not attack them; they romance them. It is terrible and tragic when a child is abused by someone in a position of trust. It is unthinkable and unbearable when a child is abused by someone who has been given a position of trust despite a history of pedophilia.
I've been a minor hockey coach and have worked on a minor hockey board of directors. It's terribly difficult to know what kind of people you have volunteering to be coach. At least my bill will give people who select volunteers the tools to have some peace of mind. At least parents will be assured that they did not just deliver their child into the hands of a convicted pedophile or sexual offender.
What my bill proposes is very simple. My bill will make sure your child's sports coach, scout leader or teacher is not a convicted pedophile. To ensure this, every person who wishes to work or volunteer in a trust position with children will have to submit to a police record search. For a small fee and signed waiver given to the police, the police will search the person's record for any prior convictions for pedophile offences, and if there are none, the police will issue a letter stating that the applicant has not been convicted of pedophilia or sexual offence. That letter is to be delivered to the employer or organization. Failure to obtain such a letter results in a fine for the organization.
The screening procedure is already being practised by Big Brothers of Canada. The Canadian Hockey Association has incorporated this police check as part of its league policy. This bill is not a perfect solution to the problems of pedophilia in our society. It probably won't even stop the majority of them. However, if this bill can save one child, one kid from the nightmare of sexual abuse, then this bill must become law. Children have a right to their childhood. They have a right to their innocence and they have a right to be kept as safe as possible from monsters like Joseph Fredericks and Graham James and hundreds more like them.
My bill has received support from the Metropolitan Toronto Police department, the Peel Regional Police, the Association of Children's Aid Societies, the Canadian Hockey Association and the Ontario Women's Hockey Association.
I would ask everyone in this House to support this bill and continue to work to protect our children, our biggest asset.
Mr Peter Kormos (Welland-Thorold): I should indicate at the outset we're going to be supporting Mr Brown's bill. I listened to his comments in advocating the bill. I appreciate his reference to expertise that he's consulted. I'm surprised, however, that he didn't refer to the expertise that's homegrown right here in the Toronto area, the Ontario Correctional Institute, OCI, in Brampton. I'm grateful to the professional staff there for having provided some insight into the issue, and specifically with respect to what this legislation hopes to achieve.
As you know, one of the programs OCI engages in is the treatment of pedophiles. Everybody acknowledges that historically treatment of pedophiles hasn't been particularly successful. A number of techniques and approaches have been utilized. Ultimately the real protection for our children is going to come from the effective cessation of pedophilic activity on the part of adult pedophiles.
OCI is one of the institutions that's slated to be shut down by this government. OCI, with its milieu therapy, has overcome some of the frustration of the past by demonstrating a particularly high success rate at treatment of pedophiles. In fact OCI was selected by the American Correctional Association to receive the 1997 Exemplary Offender Program Award for all of North America. It was presented in August down in Florida. The deputy minister went. I suppose, had it been February or March, the minister himself would have been down there receiving the award.
One of the issues about pedophilia is that although not every victim of a pedophile becomes a pedophile, almost every pedophile has been a victim. I think that's something that should be at the forefront of any discussion about this.
This government, which has talked a big game about victims' rights and responding to victims' needs and indeed passed the Victims' Bill of Rights, the Attorney General having sponsored that piece of legislation, is more notable in its failure to respond to victims and its failure to address victims' rights than it is in any observance of its responsibilities vis-à-vis the Victims' Bill of Right, be it in spirit or in terms of the letter of the legislation.
One of the things that I think Mr Brown and all of us should concern ourselves with is the need to intervene at a very early stage and to intervene effectively when we witness or when we're confronted by victims of sexual abuse, the sort of thing Mr Brown talked about. Yes, he's been very candid in indicating that this bill addresses only a small piece of the problem, a very small piece of the problem.
One of the other things I learned from speaking with the professional staff at OCI, an incredibly valuable resource in this province that's slated to be dismantled by this government, is that most pedophiles by the time they're convicted and imprisoned have committed a number of pedophilic acts, have subjected a number of children to their perversion. I'm not criticizing Mr Brown, and I think he's well aware that the act of course only deals with convicted pedophiles, people who have already reached that point - and almost inevitably after that trail of victims - where they're finally convicted.
One of the luxuries pedophiles enjoy is the fact that children are less inclined to become complainants. They're more inclined to keep that dirty little secret to themselves, out of fear, out of shame, any number of things. If we're going to address this issue we have to be developing institutions in our communities and programs whereby children are assured of a positive response to their complaint about having been victimized by adults by way of sexual abuse, or quite frankly any other form of abuse.
We're going to support the legislation. Mr Brown indicates that it will - and if it only does save but one child from the sort of abuse that's so horrific, it will have been successful. But we certainly have to do more.
I would call upon Mr Brown, and I say this in all sincerity, to prevail upon his Solicitor General and his Premier to rethink the goal of closing down OCI, the Ontario Correctional Institute in Brampton, to rethink the prospect of privatization of correctional services.
We have the single most effective program for treating sexual offenders, pedophiles, right here in Ontario at the Ontario Correctional Institute. As a result of them receiving the Exemplary Offender Program Award, they've been contacted by institutions internationally, from throughout the world, with inquiries about this very unique type of therapy and treatment that's being engaged in at OCI.
The last thing we want to do at this point in time is ring the death knell for a very successful treatment program that's been developed by very competent, skilled, dedicated staff at the Ontario Correctional Institute. The alternatives being offered up by the Solicitor General and the Ministry of Correctional Services to OCI are specifically incapable of doing the very things that the professional staff and the correctional staff at OCI have been engaging in for some time now.
I say to you, Mr Brown, we're supporting this legislation, but please rethink and call upon your Premier to rethink the privatization of correctional services and the closure of a number of institutions but in particular the Ontario Correctional Institute. You may well have consulted them and simply not referred to them during the course of your comments in the brief time you had to speak to your bill, but if you haven't, please do so. I'm confident that they're eager to talk to you and to explain to you the success they've achieved over the course of a considerable period of time with their unique therapy program for pedophiles.
Let's also rethink our commitment to victims. I say once again, although not every victim of sexual abuse becomes a pedophile, almost every pedophile has been a victim. We've got to stop the cycle, because that's inevitably what it is.
This bill doesn't protect organizations from the unconvicted pedophile. That's acknowledged, that's apparent. It doesn't mean the bill should be defeated or should be criticized, but the bill is but a small piece of what should be a far greater plan to protect children in our society. If the state has any single obligation that's paramount, surely it's to protect the weakest in our community, the weakest in society, and that, I tell you, includes children, inevitably one of our most valuable resources if not our single most valuable resource, our children.
This government has acquired by now a litany, a pattern of abandonment of children. Quite frankly, its most recent attack is by way of Bill 160 on public education. The defunding of public education here in Ontario, I tell you, is an attack on children. Its bungling mismanagement of the family support plan, more specifically the Attorney General's mismanagement, his incompetent mismanagement of the family support plan, is an abandonment of children. The slashing of assistance rates for moms and their kids by 22% has forced children into yet deeper poverty.
Still, we support Bill 145, but we also call upon this government to contemplate and to reflect on what it has done to children in the course of two years and a few months. I'm confident that no single person in this chamber is going to fail to support Mr Brown's legislation. But I'm equally confident that there's no single member in this chamber who, if candid - and I include the Conservative backbenchers and, quite frankly, their cabinet as well - can't understand that this government has acquired a pattern of victimizing children in its own right.
I understand the politics of Bill 145. I understand that it's a fast hit in the press. I have no doubt the Toronto Sun is going to cover it, and I applaud Mr Brown for his initiative in bringing it forward and, quite frankly, his cleverness at addressing an issue that's going to generate with it some publicity. Good for you. But the mere fact of having a column or two in the Toronto Sun does not relieve any member of this government from the responsibility they have to take for having acquiesced in any number of policy moves that have very specifically victimized kids in our province.
I say to Mr Brown and to the gaggle of Tory backbenchers present today, use this opportunity, use Bill 145, use your support of it and your concern about children in our society as a means to address your members of cabinet and your Premier about the litany of attacks on children, of attacks on the weakest. I look forward to this bill going to committee and I think it should. There are a number of institutions and individuals here in the province and perhaps beyond who could well address this bill by way of their presentations in the committee process to enhance our understanding of the victimization that Mr Brown is attempting to address, my vision of children as victims of sexual abusers.
The process would be one wherein we may well be able to persuade Mr Brown and others to preserve OCI and its treatment program for pedophiles, to understand that it has become the hallmark internationally, that it has achieved success where no other program admittedly has and that the real issue of pedophilia is one of stopping the cycle. Once again, if we don't address the needs of victims promptly and effectively, we stand a high risk of those victims - and not every victim becomes a pedophile - becoming abusers in their own right.
I would look forward to participating in that committee process. I would hope that the staff of OCI would be called upon to speak to it and I would hope that this government, in the course of doing that, would recognize the incredible resource that we have in Ontario Correctional Institute and, quite frankly, other correctional institutions across the province, many of them slated to be shut down and privatized, after which none of them will be able to pursue or achieve the goals that all of us would purport to aspire to.
Mr Bob Wood (London South): I rise to support this bill. I think it's an excellent initiative which will be a major step forward in protecting our children from predators. I would hope it would go to an appropriate committee of the Legislature, where detailed refinement can be considered. I'd like to suggest a few areas for such refinement.
The scope of the bill is currently very broad and may require narrowing in order to focus on children who are at actual risk from pedophiles. The current wording could affect persons who are employed in positions where they have some low-risk contact with children that is unlikely to result in further criminal behaviour.
The bill may have problems with the Ontario Human Rights Code, which prohibits discrimination in employment on the basis of a criminal record for individuals who have received a pardon that has not been revoked. Refusing to hire or terminating the employment of pardoned pedophiles may therefore be a violation of the code.
The continuing responsibility would seem to be placed on employers in terms of verifying that an individual has not been convicted of a sex offence involving children. Although employers are given six months to check existing employees and can require a records check from new employees, the bill is silent as to the requirement for employers to confirm that employees have not committed a sex offence since the last records check. For example, how often should the check be required? This may prove onerous for both employers and employees who have no record and who may be required to pay for record checks on a regular basis.
There is some inconsistency in the definition of "sexual offence respecting a child" that requires clarification. The definition includes a list of offences if the victim was under 18 years of age. However, several of these offences are applicable only to children under 14 years of age.
We all know of instances where predators have had access to and have victimized children. This bill is a major step forward, and I hope all members of the House will support the bill.
Mr John Gerretsen (Kingston and The Islands): In just referring back to the comments made by the member for London South, maybe that's one of the reasons why this bill should go to committee: There may be some problems with it and they may have to be ironed out at the committee stage. Obviously, some inquiries have to be made to make sure that it is constitutionally all right and that it fits within the Canadian and Ontario human rights legislation.
Just at the outset, I'd like to congratulate the member for Scarborough West in bringing this bill forward, because I think it's a bill that is well thought out. I will be supporting it, but I think we also have to take into consideration some of the comments made earlier by the member for Welland-Thorold.
It's all right to say we don't want out children in any way or shape to be involved with pedophiles. I think we would all agree with that. I can't think of a more horrendous situation than somebody entrusting their children, whether in a recreational environment or an educational environment, and then having that essential trust being betrayed by an individual who turns out to be a pedophile. The kind of emotional effects that it has on individuals, and indeed on the families, I wouldn't want to contemplate. It must be absolutely horrendous.
But that's only one aspect of it. Yes, they shouldn't be in contact with them. Yes, they shouldn't be involved with them in any kind of activities. But that doesn't deal with the problem of what you do with the pedophiles. Whether or not we like to admit it or face it, these people do live in our society and obviously we want to do whatever possible to make sure that they don't perpetrate any crimes, whether it's within the context, as suggested in this bill, or in any other way.
That's why treatment is so important. The purpose of treatment shouldn't be so they can be totally rehabilitated and therefore start working with children again, but just treatment in general to make sure they don't do these kinds of activities with children under any circumstance. That's why I think it is completely shortsighted to have the rather successful treatment programs that are out there through the Ontario Correctional Institute in effect curtailed or abolished. We have to try to treat these people, we have to somehow deal with them or else they're going to offend, whether it's in the context of this kind of legislation or elsewhere.
That's why I commend the member for Scarborough West for starting this process. I think the bill is well thought out and it also allows for some changeover provisions to take place so that no one is all of a sudden placed in a position where one day they are a law-abiding citizen and the next day, because they may have hired one of these people to work with children under 18, they are in contravention of the law.
I keep going back to this and I spoke about this last night as well. We have to go back to the Provincial Auditor's report as to how he views the courts administration process in the province of Ontario. When you look at the fact that currently there are 224,000 criminal cases outstanding, which happens to be the same number that were outstanding at the time when all the Askov controversy started some eight or nine years ago - and you may recall, as a result of the Askov decision, there were about 50,000 cases thrown out of court.
Mr Peter L. Preston (Brant-Haldimand): It may have been the Liberals.
Mr Gerretsen: It may have been the Liberals, somebody said. It may have been as a result of the Liberal government. Quite frankly, I don't care at this stage and I don't think anybody else does. The point is that we are back to the same position we were eight or nine years ago, where we've got the same number of cases outstanding as we did in those days, and now what's going to happen? Are we going to hit the situation again where, all of a sudden, somebody one of these days is going to turf another 50,000 cases that are legitimately before the court out of the system and potentially let a lot of people go loose, as it were, without ever having been tried on crimes or criminal situations which have been properly laid before the courts?
What all that addresses is the question of resources. If you don't put adequate resources into the criminal justice system to make sure that these cases are dealt with in a speedy and expedient fashion, then you are going to run into those risks. I think that if all of a sudden another 50,000 cases were thrown out, it would do an awful lot of damage to the criminal justice system and to the confidence that the people of Ontario have in our system.
I'll just read you two sentences from the Provincial Auditor's report. He states, for example, "Despite the initiatives" - and this is on page 29 of the report. The Provincial Auditor is an individual hired by this Legislature. He is not hired by the government, he is not a government official but basically reports directly to the Legislature without any influence from the government of the day. And what does he say? He states, "Despite the initiatives taken to date, the following chart indicates that the backlogs have been increasing since 1994 and have the potential to develop into a situation similar to the one which resulted in the Askov decision." Of those 224,000 cases, by the way, 70,000 are more than eight months old, so they could very well be thrown out on the basis of Askov.
It goes on to say, "Even though most factors contributing to delays in cases being heard are beyond the program's control, it can exercise considerable control in ensuring courtroom availability and providing adequate information to the judiciary and the crown attorneys."
There are problems within the Ministry of the Attorney General that have to be dealt with to ensure that the laws that we make here and to ensure that the Criminal Code, which is a law that is made in Ottawa, are adhered to and are followed and are respected. This kind of law being proposed by the member for Scarborough West will once again, as you add to the volume of laws that are out there, put an extra burden on our police officers, on our enforcement agents within the department of the Solicitor General and also within the Attorney General's department.
I think it is totally shortsighted to limit the resources that are available within the Attorney General's department and the Solicitor General's department, because we can have all the best intentions that there are in the world - we can have them all - but if we cannot enforce the laws that we pass here and if we actively take away resources from the enforcement agents, then in effect we are not doing anybody any favours. It's almost like a shell game. It's almost like we're trying the best that we can but at the same time we're not putting the enforcement mechanisms into place.
The other aspect of course - and the irony that I find about the Provincial Auditor's report is that it deals with the courts administration area - is this whole area of uncollected fines. Here we have $139 million outstanding in fines and offences that have been committed under the Highway Traffic Act, where the auditor says, "In most cases we know the licence numbers; we know the addresses of the individuals who owe the fines; we have the mechanisms in place" - you know, if somebody owed you some money privately and you got a judgement against that person, you could enforce that judgement by either garnishing that person's bank account or wages or you put a lien or a judgement, an execution, against their house and, sooner or later, you're going to get paid.
What does the Provincial Auditor say about that? He states, "We note that none of these measures" - and the measures that he's referring to are the requiring of banks to deduct money owing from the person's bank account or registering a lien against a person's real property - "We note that none of these measures have been initiated by the ministry." He goes on to say, "While we recognize these measures would not be practicable in every case, some could be effective depending upon the nature of the case and the amounts of the fines."
There are 116 individuals who have fines totalling more than $10,000. I don't know what your experience has been but I know that when I get the odd $53 parking ticket or speeding ticket or what have you - and yes, I've got them; I'll be the first to plead guilty - if you don't pay it in time, you get a notice and then you'd better pay up pretty quickly or else they're going to be after you.
For the life of me I cannot understand how we can have 116 individuals - we know who they are - running around this province, driving around this province, owing $10,000 in fines each under the Highway Traffic Act. It is beyond my imagination how that could possibly happen. How do these people get away with it? They shouldn't get away with it because that $139 million is owed to you and me, to the taxpayers of Ontario.
As I said before, that money could be used to pay down the provincial debt. Remember, we will still have a debt of $120 billion by the time this government is finished. It started at $100 billion when they took over, and it's going to rise by another $20 billion to $120 billion by about the year 1999. I think in interest it costs about 15 cents out of every dollar. It's not as bad as Ottawa yet, but it's getting up there. We could be taking this money and paying it down on the debt or on the deficit for any particular year.
We could even put it into good useful programs such as the treatment of pedophiles at the Ontario Correctional Institute.
I know there is the attitude, and when we hear of these horrendous crimes these people commit all of us at times feel, "Why don't we just lock them up and throw away the key." The problem is that's not the answer in the long run because sooner or later most of these people come back into society, and whether they are involved in the kind of activities dealing with children envisioned by the member for Scarborough West's bill or whether they are just walking around in the general public, if these people have not gone through a treatment program of sorts, they are likely to commit a crime again, another act of pedophilia.
It is to all of our advantages, and particularly of the youngsters surely in our society, that it doesn't happen. Our initial reaction, "Lock them up and throw away the key," isn't going to work in the long run. That's just a gut reaction. We've got to deal with the problem.
If you collect the $139 million that's outstanding in Highway Traffic Act fines, I'm sure that will go a long way to run the program they do at the Ontario Correctional Institute. The $139 million that's outstanding to you and me is only part of it, because these are Highway Traffic Act fines but in other uncollected fines there is owing an additional $316 million. Can you imagine? This is right in his report again, on page 36. So when we add the $316 million plus the $139 million, there's almost half a billion dollars in uncollected fines and penalties that we're not doing a heck of a lot about in this province.
Mr Kormos: That would have paid for the pension buyout.
Mr Gerretsen: It would have paid for the pension buyout. It would pay for all sorts of programs. It could even be applied to the debt. What always gets me is that we have now elected a government that likes to carry on the business we do here in a businesslike fashion. Well, I know in my own business that if I were owed this kind of money, I'd try to collect it. If you want to run it in a businesslike fashion, use some businesslike tactics to get these legitimately owed fines paid.
Having said all that, I'm very pleased to support the bill put forward by the member for Scarborough West. It's a start, but let him get after the Attorney General and the Solicitor General to make sure that some of these other issues I've talked about are addressed as well.
Mr Preston: I rise today to speak to Bill 145, the Protection Against Pedophiles Act, 1997. Normally I would say I'm pleased to speak to a point in the House, but there is no pleasure in this subject at all.
In 28 years of involvement with youth, I don't only suspect the horrendous devastation; I know of the horrendous devastation these individuals cause. It takes a very strong individual to overcome the emotional trauma that is caused. Indeed, most of them don't completely overcome it. They carry the emotional scars for life. They only deal with it. Because these pedophiles earn the trust of children, the children somehow feel they are to blame - totally unreasonable, but that's the child mind.
I'm not naïve enough to think this bill will eradicate the pedophiles, but it will alert us to reoffenders. It won't catch those who are beginning their heinous career or those who have not been caught before, but it will put community organizations in a situation where they at least know that they are not taking on an already convicted pedophile or sexual offender. How many times, when these things come to light, do we say: "That person's been convicted before. My God, how could this happen? Doesn't anybody check on these things?" This bill will at least prevent the reoffending in our community organizations.
I use the term "community organizations" possibly to redundancy, but I don't want to inadvertently point out a particular organization in the community that may give the idea that this is a place where the occurrences are more prevalent. The number of people who are of good character, excellent people, caring, who work with children, who volunteer to work with children, 999 out of 1,000 are excellent, doing an irreplaceable job. This bill will catch the one who wants to use that position of trust to prey on children.
The pedophile situation is becoming more prevalent. It's front-page, ever more occurring. It's a nightmare. Parents are questioning the wisdom of sending their children out into these community activities, and what a loss that is for the children.
We demand that the people who handle our money are bonded because, boy oh boy, we've got to protect our money. We demand that the people who handle our affairs are licensed because, boy oh boy, we have to protect our chattels and goods. But we send our children out into the community in the care of individuals for hours on end, without a thought, or we did in the past. Parents are becoming very leery of doing that now. Possibly this bill can give them some modicum of security in at least knowing they're not sending their child out into the arms of a known pedophile.
We must ask that any person who is to be employed or volunteers into a position where constant contact with children is endemic to their responsibilities take the little step of providing a letter saying they have not been convicted of a sexual offence or as a pedophile, a small thing to ask of the people who are going to be dealing with our children.
Mr David Tilson (Dufferin-Peel): Today appears to be Scarborough day in the Legislature. The member for Scarborough West is making a presentation with this specific bill that is before us, and the member for Scarborough East also has a bill that we will be debating soon on the topic of volunteerism. Volunteerism has become a most important part of our society today, particularly with young people. It's something we in government, from whatever party, need to encourage.
Every day it seems that we open up the paper and hear reports of convictions involving the topic that the member for Scarborough West has raised today. Just yesterday I took out two clippings reporting on these incidents. A former Boy Scout leader had been charged with sexually assaulting a child. This scout leader's alleged assaults occurred between 1968 and 1974. This person is charged with two counts of indecent assault on a male, gross indecency and buggery.
In the same newspaper there is a report of a sentencing procedure involving a deaf pedophile facing dangerous offender status. He "told police that a tale he had spun about having a boy in his bed for sex was just part of a `sick game.'" It goes on and talks about how he had been convicted in the past on a number of occasions. Prior to his conviction last spring, in 1996, on this 13-year-old boy, he had three previous convictions of sex charges involving young males in 1989 and a similar offence in New York in 1988. He was also on record for breach of probation for being around children in 1994, as well as a conviction for possessing kiddie porn.
A most serious aspect of our society. The member opposite raised a constitutional issue and he may be right. I think those issues can be dealt with in committee. I believe this bill is constitutional and I think this matter should go to committee for further discussion, or better yet, immediate passage, because I think it's an important bill.
We need to encourage volunteerism. We need to develop trust in our volunteer organizations. We need to be confident that when we send our young children to camp, to scout meetings, to hockey teams, that these problems don't exist. One could say the onus is on the volunteer organizations to do that sort of thing. Well, they don't have that information available, whereas under this bill a volunteer who wishes to volunteer for these types of organizations, goes to a police station, signs a waiver, which is done in some organizations already, and the certificate is given with respect to whether or not there are any convictions registered against this individual.
One raises the question, whether you're talking Boy Scout movements, hockey teams - Mr Brown, the member for Scarborough West, has referred to incidents in the press, just horrible, horrible stories where people are affected. Young people are coming forward 20 years later on how they have been affected by these terrible incidents that occurred when they were young.
It is interesting to look at reports about pedophilia, and this could be dealt with in the committee. Research has provided me with some news clippings from the past. One is from the Hamilton Spectator back in 1994, which was a joint report by the Spectator, the Brantford Expositor, the London Free Press and others, an item called "No Easy Answers." There is a comment by John Kernaghan in that report: "There is no cure for pedophilia, admit clinicians developing treatments."
Dr Barbaree of the Clarke Institute of Psychiatry says: "There is no cure for child molesters.... Although pedophiles have an average of three to four reported victims each, the actual totals are likely much higher - often more than 100 - because many victims never come forward.... These offenders actively seek solutions that put them in close proximity to children, such as volunteers in organizations catering to children's needs or hobbies."
Grant Harris, a research psychologist: "The latest word on treatment for pedophiles is that since there is no cure, the goal is control."
It is for that reason that I congratulate Mr Brown, the member for Scarborough West, in bringing forward this bill. It's an opportunity in which we in this place can provide further debate as to how we can contribute to encouraging volunteerism, to encouraging trust in our volunteer organizations and how we can play our part in dealing with this issue.
This topic of pedophiles of course has been studied all over the place, as I believe has been mentioned by the member for Welland-Thorold and there are a number of reports. There was one by the Solicitor General of Canada in 1990, who concluded: "A reasonable conclusion from the available literature is that treatment can be effective in reducing sexual recidivism from about 25% to 10% to 15%. No approach will guarantee complete success." There's report after report that comes to that conclusion.
We just can't let the world go by with these young people being affected by these individuals. Young people need to get involved in these organizations, whether they be sports or other types of organizations, church groups; it goes on. It's a suggestion that needs to be pursued.
The Big Brothers of Toronto screens all applicants before allowing them to join the association. They already require a police check before they will accept a volunteer to the program. Those with any convictions are requested to get a pardon before they will be accepted. Certainly those with convictions of molestation would not be admitted.
The Toronto Board of Education also requires a police check on each teaching applicant. The Ontario College of Teachers states that boards have a duty to submit to them any report of misconduct of a sexual nature with a minor by a teacher. These organizations and others are doing things now, and I believe this bill will encourage all organizations to provide this information so that our volunteer organizations can provide the service for young people that they do and develop the confidence that's required in our organizations.
These police checks only show convictions that a person may have. The list of charges is absent. That may be a matter that needs to be pursued as well.
Mr Jim Brown: We have to protect our kids from pedophiles. Pedophiles don't slow down with age like burglars, drug dealers and car thieves. There have been 80-year-olds convicted of pedophilia. We know that pedophiles are serial offenders. They have many victims.
Around the world, the high recidivism rate has caused many jurisdictions to impose chemical castration. That is the administration of a drug to chemically reduce the sex drive. Florida, California, Texas, Oregon, Montana, Germany, Denmark, Switzerland, Sweden mandate chemical treatment to repeat offenders. A US study stated that 66% of the respondents were in favour of chemical treatment for repeat offenders; 92% wanted to know if a known pedophile lived in their area.
My bill, the Protection Against Pedophiles Act, will force all organizations that employ or use people in trust over children to have these people obtain a police screening. The procedure is simple, it works and it is presently a policy with the Canadian hockey federation, Big Brothers and the Ontario women's hockey league.
This bill will keep convicted pedophiles out of our children's sports change rooms, out of their camping trips and out of their classrooms. Community safety, our kids' safety, is paramount. This bill will be mandatory and give volunteer groups the structure, the tools to insist on police screening. Since it is province-wide, pedophiles can't go shopping from community to community for a better deal. For our children, I ask all the members to please support my bill, the Protection Against Pedophiles Act, 1997. Thank you.
GOOD SAMARITAN ACT, 1997 / LOI DE 1997 SUR LE BON SAMARITAIN
Mr Gilchrist moved second reading of the following bill:
Bill 166, An Act to protect Persons from Liability in respect of Voluntary Emergency Medical or First Aid Services / Projet de loi 166, Loi visant à exonérer les personnes de la responsabilité concernant des services médicaux ou des pemiers soins fournis bénévolement en cas d'urgence.
The Acting Speaker (Mr Bert Johnson): According to the rules, Mr Gilchrist has 10 minutes to make his presentation.
Mr Steve Gilchrist (Scarborough East): I am indeed pleased to stand here today to speak to this bill. It's a bill that hopefully puts a different spin on exactly where our government stands in terms of our outlook on the responsibilities we have to provide stewardship and to ensure that within our society there is always the motivation for people to do their best.
We've all heard anecdotal evidence of people who stop and help others in times of need, whether it's roadside assistance after an auto accident, whether it's someone found choking in a restaurant or any other circumstance of similar emergency need.
Recently here in Toronto we saw someone celebrated for their eagerness to help out as two young boys were threatened with being thrown out of a subway car on to the live power rail. That gentleman, Mr Crowl, was rightfully celebrated as being a tremendous volunteer, a tremendous representative for all that is best in our society.
Unfortunately, to date we have no protection for people who offer their assistance to others in need. While the courts as yet have not followed the American pattern and have not found people liable in cases where their assistance may have left open the question of whether there was some sort of liability, the fact is that the stories are legion where people have gone to court and been sued after having helped out. At minimum, they have faced the legal expenses and the risk and threat to their assets and to their esteem in the community by having the suits levelled against them.
After one particular example was brought to my attention in June of this year, I believed it was appropriate to research this subject and to see where Ontario stood relative to other jurisdictions both across Canada and throughout North America and around the world. As a result of that research, I ascertained that three provinces in Canada - Alberta, Saskatchewan and Newfoundland - have express good Samaritan bills, as they're known, on their statutes, and every other province in Canada has some exclusion in their health act that at least protects health care professionals from any liability if they stop and offer assistance in circumstances outside of a normal medical or hospital environment. However, even in those provinces the question is left dangling as to whether the general citizenry are protected.
Looking at what has been done in other provinces and the fact that 36 American states have good Samaritan acts and that around the world it is generally recognized that it is important to protect people who offer their assistance to others in times of need, protect them from any civil liability, it's in that spirit that I introduced this bill last week and rise to debate it on second reading here today.
The bill basically is broken into two parts. It recognizes that there has been a different test applied to health care professionals who may offer assistance in cases of emergency medical need. I was very pleased that both the Registered Nurses' Association of Ontario, representing registered nurses, and the Ontario Medical Association, representing Ontario's doctors, were pleased to support this bill.
In fact, Dr Ted Boadway, the director of policy for the OMA, joined me at the press conference last week where we first introduced this bill to the public. Dr Boadway is, obviously, a physician himself, with decades of experience in thoracic surgery. He provided personal examples of instances where he himself has stopped to render roadside assistance. He said that the first thing that seizes you is that adrenalin rush - you want to help, it's the natural human instinct to help - but at the same time you're not in your normal operating environment: You don't have your equipment with you; you don't have any other staff to back you up, to give you that second opinion. He said, "There's that moment of doubt, a moment of hesitation." He said, "Knowing how I as a trained MD felt in that circumstance, I can certainly appreciate how someone in the general public, with no medical training, would have been quite concerned about whether they should be wading in to offer assistance." Of course, he conquered that momentary hesitation and went on to render aid, but the fact remains that if even doctors in this province have that doubt, surely we need a bill like this to clarify the issue once and for all.
Dr Boadway said they have from time to time canvassed doctors, not just in Ontario but across Canada, and the issue is one that has been front and centre in the minds of doctors. They have a very legitimate concern that in our increasingly litigious age we're going to follow the American model and people will be suing for almost anything, and they might be caught up in that mindset.
In 1992 the British Columbia Medical Association commissioned a report that concluded that it was critical that there be some kind of protection for doctors. They outlined the conditions under which such a bill and such protection should apply, and I'm pleased to say that the bill we've put on the order paper here conforms to all five of those points.
What the bill also does, though, over and above protecting health care professionals, is that it very specifically says that anyone else in the public who offers aid to someone in a case of emergency will also be protected from civil liability. The rule of thumb is a very logical one. I'm not a lawyer, but it's been explained to me by legal counsel. Precedent exists that doing things that are the action of a reasonable man or woman will be protected. Gross negligence, on the other hand, will continue to be something that might invite a lawsuit, but gross negligence is defined as doing something that you should know not to do, so that's hardly the category of what we're talking about here today, one would hope. One would hope that everyone who stops at the roadside to render assistance knows their personal capabilities, knows either how to perform first aid or CPR or at least get a blanket and call 911 and offer assistance. This bill will protect anyone who performs those sorts of good Samaritan acts.
The bill also does not prevent someone from reimbursing you. If in the course of performing that duty you use an ambulance and it gets damaged, if other supplies are used, it would be permissible for someone to respect the fact that it did cost you out of pocket and pay you back. But the bill makes it very clear that, particularly for health care professionals, this doesn't relieve them of any kind of obligation to perform the top-quality services we take for granted in this province in hospitals and in their own offices, because the bill says this protects them only where there is not the expectation of being paid. This does not in any way give new protection against any sort of medical suit arising from the work they would be doing in their normal practice, but it does respect the fact that in a circumstance where they're stopping to render aid without the expectation of payment, they will be protected.
The act defines what is a health care professional. That means a member of a college of one of the health professions as set out in schedule 1 of the Regulated Health Professions Act.
I believe the act is very specific, not only in its intent but in its content. In talking to members on both sides of the House, I have yet to discover anyone who has any reservations. I'm very pleased, and I look forward to the comments that come forward during the debate in the next hour.
The bottom line, though, is that we should be celebrating voluntarism. We should be doing anything in our power to promote voluntarism, to promote helping others in times of need. There are any number of circumstances, any number of times in our lives where we will be called upon to make that decision, to make a judgement call about whether we have the capability to help out. I hope this bill in some small way increases the comfort level particularly for health care professionals but also for the general citizenry, that one thing they won't have to worry about is civil liability if they go out there, do their best and serve others in the community in a caring and compassionate way that we would all like to see as the hallmark of life in Ontario.
Mr John Gerretsen (Kingston and The Islands): I'll be speaking on this bill very briefly, and then the member for St Catharines will be taking some time as well.
I was somewhat disturbed that the member stated at the outset that this bill is part of the government program or part of what this government believes in. I was under the impression that this is private members' hour and that we bring our concerns in that fashion to this House. I honestly do not understand how this bill fits in with the rest of the government's agenda, because the rest of the government's agenda is something that I and the members of my caucus don't agree with at all. Most of the agenda seems to be to go after the most vulnerable in our society, and I see absolutely no relationship between that agenda and the Good Samaritan Act.
The second point I want to make is that I hope the general public doesn't, as a result of this bill, have some sort of false sense of security that if this bill passes they can no longer be sued by people who may, for whatever reason, feel they weren't properly treated in an emergency situation. I realize it was probably as a result of legal counsel giving this advice, but when you add clauses such as "unless it is established the damages were caused by the gross negligence of the person," I guarantee that if somebody has been helped by a good Samaritan and wants to initiate a court action against that individual, they will allege gross negligence. Whether they can prove it is something else again.
The general public ought not to misunderstand. Once this passes, there may be a smaller likelihood of them being sued by whomever they help, but it's still out there. The person would have to prove gross negligence, which I agree is tough to do under certain circumstances - there would have to be flagrant disregard of the person's security and of how the person is to be helped - but I don't think the general public ought to be under any illusions that somehow this puts an end to all that, that if they are a good Samaritan and help an individual who's in trouble, whether they're a health care professional or a private individual, they somehow cannot be involved in a court action.
Of course it's like that with respect to most court actions. I always tell individuals, you can't stop somebody from suing you. Whether or not they're able to actually prove what they allege in their suit is one thing, but there's no such thing as not being able to sue somebody else. I suppose to a certain extent what's happening in our Canadian field of justice and legal system is that we are getting closer and closer to and more and more involved in the Americanization of our system, where people do take actions a lot quicker than they would have let's say 10, 20 or 30 years ago.
Other than that, I support this bill, as long as the public is not under the illusion that this will give them a blanket protection with respect to helping people who are involved in emergency situations.
Mr Peter Kormos (Welland-Thorold): It's a most unusual day. The New Democrats find themselves supporting two bills prompted by Conservative backbenchers. I say it is remarkable that we see two bills, Mr Gilchrist's among them, that are non-partisan in nature. Enough said in that regard. I'll not be partisan in my comments.
I want to remind the sponsor of this bill that this isn't the first time a Tory government has had an opportunity to consider good Samaritan legislation. Mr Gilchrist, I hope your colleagues are kinder to you than Tory backbenchers were back in 1984, when Ray Haggerty, the member for Niagara South, for whom I have the highest regard and continue to have high regard - he's well, and working in those communities in Niagara South. Ray Haggerty sponsored a private member's bill in 1984, good Samaritan legislation. He was a Liberal opposition member at the time. The Conservative government of that day let it die without calling it to be enacted into law. I hope you're more successful than Mr Haggerty was and I hope your Conservative colleagues are kinder to you than they were in 1984 to Mr Haggerty. It was very non-partisan and well-intentioned legislation, very similar to yours as contained in Bill 166.
You've spoken of some of the background. Interestingly, the first good Samaritan legislation in North America was, predictably, from the state of California, perhaps one of the most notoriously litigious jurisdictions in all of the United States, in all of North America. It was 1959. The trend soon travelled, as one author put it, northward, where we saw through the 1960s various Canadian jurisdictions considering good Samaritan legislation. Interestingly, back in 1970 the Ontario Law Reform Commission, as I understand it from the literature, recommended against good Samaritan legislation. By some authors, regarding those jurisdictions that had enacted it and the experience they had, the legislation was described as otiose. This may well end up being the case for this bill here in Ontario. As I say, we're supporting it and we welcome it.
One of the observations is of course that Canadian jurisdictions tend not be as litigious for a variety reasons: mindset, but some other real reasons included. It's been explained by those who have felt there's no need for good Samaritan legislation that the common law as it exists in Ontario and throughout most of Canada, all but one Canadian jurisdiction, in fact protects Samaritans in any event.
Notwithstanding that - and I was particularly grateful for the article written by Mitchell McInnes, "Good Samaritan Statutes: A Summary and Analysis." McInnes speaks of the impact of good Samaritan legislation as not necessarily required to protect Samaritans, but, if that is the case, useful in that it encourages people to act and perhaps addresses the mythology of liability. In that regard alone, I agree with McInnes and I agree with Mr Gilchrist that the statute, this bill, is worthy of support.
Of course, the standard of gross negligence is contained here, a troublesome standard, because it's a very high one, as Mr Gerretsen has already explained. It's a very high threshold indeed. Whether or not the story about Mitch Hepburn and the hitchhiker is merely anecdotal, gross negligence is a standard that injured parties find very difficult to meet.
This bill addresses more so the concerns of health care professionals, because they're more inclined, I suspect, to be conscious of the potential for litigation inherent in their dealing with an injured party or injured persons. I'm confident that most Ontarians, if not all Ontarians, would be eager to address emergencies and traumas that are anticipated or contemplated by this bill without regard for the prospect of litigation. It would tend to be doctors or nurses who would be more conscious of the prospect of litigation.
The bill is modelled on current legislation across North America. Quite frankly, I suspect this bill should go to committee, because it should be addressed by some of the parties who are going to find themselves impacted. There may well be a need for addressing either deficiencies or language in the bill. I can contemplate a number of parties who would be interested in participating in those hearings and I look forward to addressing this bill in committee after today's second reading as well.
Mr Dan Newman (Scarborough Centre): It is my pleasure to join in the debate on ballot item 2,standing in the name of Mr Gilchrist, as he has presented Bill 166 before us today. He has carried many bills on behalf of the government, including Bill 81, the Fewer Politicians Act, where we reduced the number of politicians here at Queen's Park from 130 to 103. He also carried Bill 103, the City of Toronto Act, in his role as parliamentary assistant to the Minister of Municipal Affairs and Housing.
But he also has brought forward many different private members' bills to this House, like Bill 28, which was An Act to amend the Municipal Act to name Civic Holiday as Simcoe Day here in Ontario for that long holiday weekend in August. He also brought before us Bill 53, which is An Act to Promote Full Financial Accountability of Labour Unions and Employees Associations to Their Members.
These are a lot of bills that he has felt very passionately about, and it's no surprise that he would bring Bill 166 before the House today, which is An Act to protect Persons from Liability in respect of Voluntary Emergency Medical or First Aid Services.
I want to commend him and let him know that I will be voting in favour of his bill because, as he said in his comments, doctors, nurses and other health care professionals will not be held responsible for damages that result from their negligence in acting or failing to act unless the damages were caused by gross negligence, providing that the care was provided at a location other than a hospital or health care facility and that the care was provided voluntarily and without reasonable expectation of reward.
I think this is a good bill because it goes beyond that in that it also protects any other individual who provides assistance at the immediate scene of an accident or other emergency to a person who is ill, injured or unconscious. I think that's very, very important to keep in mind because in Ontario, indeed across Canada, we're trying to encourage people to take part in first aid training courses. In my community of Scarborough, which is the community that Mr Gilchrist hails from as well, all sorts of activities are happening where people are learning first aid and CPR training.
In one high school in my riding, R.H. King Academy, which celebrated its 75th anniversary a couple of weeks ago, they have a program where the students learn all about CPR. What a shame it would be if those students who learned CPR could not use it, if there were other first aid techniques that those students or indeed other people across Ontario had learned but couldn't use because they were afraid they would not be protected from civil liability.
What Bill 166 does is protect everyone in this province who wants to assist an injured person. I think, by assisting injured people in our communities, we are doing everything we can to provide for safer communities. I commend the member for bringing that forward.
He also talked about roadside assistance taking place, where perhaps there was an accident happening and someone drove by and wanted to help an individual there, that they would not fear any civil reprisals for assisting that person.
If we didn't have this bill, if a civil action were to take place in this province where someone did successfully sue at a large cost to someone for helping, those individuals would set an example to the rest of the province and they would not want to help others. I think it would be a sad day in Ontario if that day were to come forward. Mr Gilchrist's bill addresses that and makes for a much safer province because people will want to help their fellow people here in Ontario.
I know he has support from the Registered Nurses' Association of Ontario. There is a letter Mr Gilchrist sent to all the members, signed by Doris Grinspun, RN, who is the executive director of the RNAO, who says: "We believe our members will appreciate the explicit statement that they could voluntarily render this type of assistance and that they would not be liable for problems resulting from the assistance, with the exception of those resulting from gross negligence."
I would join Ms Grinspun and all other members of the House who have spoken today to encourage everyone to support Mr Gilchrist's bill. I think it's a worthy bill. The type of bill he has brought forward shows he is a member of principle and is working hard on behalf of his constituents; indeed it shows a lot of compassion for the people of Ontario.
Mr Doug Galt (Northumberland): It's certainly a pleasure for me to be able to rise and support the member for Scarborough East in his bill, the Good Samaritan Act, Bill 166. I commend him for this thinking and this idea; it's not exactly original, it is in several other states, but I certainly commend him for bringing it forward at this time.
One of the roles of government is to protect our citizens. Certainly the Good Samaritan Act is about that, protecting people from liability when they try to go and help someone else, particularly those in the health professions. However, it also recognizes that it's not about to protect people for stupidity or gross negligence.
I'm certainly very supportive of this bill. You may recall that back in December I brought forward a resolution to provide some protection from liability to volunteers in general. There's no question that people hold back because of this kind of concern. This particular bill is more specific, referred to as the good Samaritan bill. We use this term quite commonly, and really the title comes from our Christian Bible and a parable in that Bible. When asked by a teacher of law, "What must I do to inherit eternal life?" Jesus responded with the parable of the good Samaritan:
"A man was going down from Jerusalem to Jericho, when he fell into the hands of robbers. They stripped him of his clothes, beat him and went away, leaving him half dead. A priest happened to be going down the same road, and when he saw the man, he passed by on the other side. So too, a Levite, when he came to the place and saw him, passed by on the other side. But a Samaritan, as he travelled, came where the man was, and when he saw him, he took pity on him. He went to him and bandaged his wounds, pouring on oil and wine. Then he put the man on his own donkey, took him to an inn and took care of him."
You have to wonder why the priest wouldn't have been doing the very same thing; probably not because of liability but because of the association, and there would be some liability with his peer groups at that time.
This bill recognizes the medical profession in particular. As they arrive on an accident scene with not even a stethoscope to help them, they certainly feel very uncomfortable and concerned about liability. Private citizens coming forward, doing anything from putting pressure on a bleeding point to tourniquets to moving somebody off a busy street, could cause some other kind of damage that they might be sued for, so they get pretty concerned about this kind of thing and step around or try not to get involved. I'm even told that some of our medical professionals have been told by insurers who cover their liability insurance, "Don't get involved, because it may end up costing you more in liability insurance in the future." I think that's pretty unfortunate.
Doing a little research on this particular bill, I found that the only provinces and territories in Canada without a bill such as this are Ontario, Quebec and Manitoba. As mentioned earlier, it was brought forward in 1984 but did not get passed. In the United States, some 50 states have a total of 110 statutes covering legal protection headed up as good Samaritan bills.
I also think it's interesting to note that in many countries, almost all the countries in Europe, many of the states and even in Quebec, there is a law about duty to rescue when people are in trouble, particularly with their health. People are required to come to their rescue. However it's rather ironic, as you look at Quebec, that they don't have a good Samaritan act to protect their residents from liability, but they do have this requirement in their province that a person seeing somebody else in trouble is liable if they don't come to their rescue. It's kind of an interesting bit of legislation there. I see this as enabling legislation to encourage people to get involved so that people won't be in trouble with liability and be sued for their life earnings and they will be more willing to come forward when they have that opportunity.
I think it warrants a quote at this time from the 20th-century philosopher Kahlil Gibran, who wrote: "You give but little when you give of your possessions. It is when you give of yourself that you truly give." Here we want to protect those people who truly give of themselves.
In winding up, I think this is certainly a very worthwhile bill put forward by my seatmate here, the member for Scarborough East. It's very thoughtfully brought forward at this time. It certainly deserves our support, by all three parties here in the House. I don't think there is any question it's going to receive that. I'd even encourage them to go one step further and give unanimous approval that this receive third reading and we get on and put it in law.
Mr James J. Bradley (St Catharines): Thank you very much for the opportunity to speak in favour of the bill by Mr Haggerty, the member for Erie - I'm sorry: Mr Gilchrist, the member for Scarborough East. I recall as well as the member for Welland-Thorold has that Ray Haggerty, the former member for what was called Erie, and then Niagara South, was an individual who brought forward such a bill and it was compelling at that time. We could have had it in 1984, as a matter of fact, but the Conservative government of the day refused to allow the bill to proceed so it could be in effect, so here we are in 1997, dealing with the issue once again.
Heaven knows we will need a lot of good Samaritans in Ontario for a variety of reasons I can think of. We'll need good Samaritans to keep the hospitals open in the Niagara region because when the person is assisted at roadside, as we would hope the person would be, that person then has to go to a hospital. Well, in the Niagara region, the plan now is to close or radically alter five of the hospitals region.
They want to close the Hotel Dieu Hospital. They want to close or radically change the Douglas Memorial Hospital in Erie, the Port Colborne hospital, the West Lincoln Memorial Hospital in Grimsby, the Niagara-on-the-Lake hospital. I'm wondering if, when the person assists someone in the Niagara region, for instance, they will have a hospital to go to. I doubt that is going to be the case. That is why we'll need other good Samaritans out there to ensure we don't close the hospitals, because I remember, as everyone in the House will, the Premier during the last provincial election campaign saying, and I quote - you will remember me saying this on numerous occasions - "Certainly, I can guarantee you it is not my plan to close hospitals."
We've had several hospitals now that have closed in the province and several that are under the potential axe of the provincial government. I just hope that when someone assists someone at roadside, as I believe they should, as this legislation will enable them to do, there will be other good Samaritans out there to advocate on behalf of the various hospitals that are under threat by the Harris government.
I hope there are good Samaritans out there because once the people leave hospital, they have to have home care, and in the Niagara region we have cutbacks in home care now. People who before were able to get a service from nurses and physiotherapists and housekeepers and so on - this is often the frail elderly who are now being kicked out of the hospital more quickly and more sickly - are being cut back at this very time in their home care services.
I worry whether the person who is helped by the good Samaritan at roadside, for instance, will have hospital care and then will have this home care. So we'll need good Samaritans as well to advocate for more home care in the Niagara region and for not cutting the services out while we're giving a tax cut which will benefit the wealthiest people in our society.
We will need good Samaritans to deal with user fees, which the province is now imposing in the field of health care. I'm worried about that because once the good Samaritan has come to the roadside to help the person who is in the accident, they have to get that person to the hospital, and now we find out that downloaded to the municipalities is ambulance services. I know there are companies on the other side of the border, American companies that charge huge amounts of money for ambulance services, that can't wait to get into Ontario and take over this privatized service. As a result, people will have to pay even more.
I worry about those people who are being helped by the good Samaritan. You can see that there is more than simply assisting the person, as I believe we all should, particularly medical personnel who have some expertise. They have to get them into a hospital, and we're closing hospitals. We have to get them then to home care, and they're cutting back on home care. Then we have to make sure they don't have these user fees for the ambulance, and that there are ambulance services out there for them. We need good Samaritans to advocate there as well.
We need good Samaritans because some of these people are going to have to get health cards. As my colleague from Renfrew North has noted, there are people now who are going to have to come a long way from smaller outlying areas, and these are often people who don't have the capabilities to travel, into a major, I won't say urban area but a town at the very least to get their health care cards, to get that photograph taken. There's great worry about that, so we will need good Samaritans to advocate on behalf of those people. We have to make sure of that.
Sometimes as a result of an accident that takes place on the roadside where the good Samaritan goes to help that person - and we always hope this doesn't happen - people are permanently disabled as a result. We will need good Samaritans to advocate for the disabled, who are worried that they are losing their disability benefits as a result of the changes of policy of the government of Mike Harris. I'll be looking for the good Samaritans advocating on their behalf.
Some of them, as a result of an accident, for instance, may end up needing psychiatric care. It may affect them in a psychiatric sense. Those people will need the psychiatric services of the community. They will need good Samaritans advocating on behalf of those psychiatric services. There are families out there today who are finding it extremely difficult to cope with relatives and perhaps close friends who need psychiatric services. At this time, as governments deinstitutionalize or take people out of major hospitals and place them into the community, we don't see the services in the community.
If you look at the homeless people, many of those homeless people have psychiatric problems that have to be addressed, but when we're busy giving a tax cut of 30% in the provincial income tax, which benefits the wealthiest people in our society, it's difficult to address those needs and we will need those good Samaritans to address those needs.
Indeed, just their peace of mind has to be addressed, so we will need good Samaritans to protect the Niagara Escarpment, because people want to enjoy that peace of mind, that beauty that's around them. If there happened to be an accident that took place near the Niagara Escarpment, people might even be thinking about the Niagara Escarpment and the need for good appointments to the Niagara Escarpment Commission.
I note that one of the people who was appointed to the commission, who we in the opposition opposed strenuously, has now had to leave the commission. I wish I could say I was surprised. I was not. This is what happens when you have the old boys' network that says: "We've got to get good old whoever on the commission because he's been a good Tory supporter and he'll show those pointy-headed professors in Toronto and those pinko environmentalists that we can develop that Niagara Escarpment. We can have the Hilton. We can have golf courses. We can have all kinds of development, because development's good, it'll produce jobs." We'll need good Samaritans to protect the escarpment.
We will need good Samaritans to protect -
Mr Bradley: I always wonder why our good friend the member for Etobicoke-Humber didn't run for the federal Parliament. He sits here as a provincial member. He interjects constantly something about the federal government - all the time. I think he should run federally next time.
I would like to see as well a good Samaritan to help out those who are going to be hurt by the defunding of the education system. We now have a situation where the Ontario government, despite the fact that in Bill 160 the government said, "That has nothing to do with it," they said to the members: "Here's your script. You go out and you say to the people: `Don't you worry, this bill has nothing to do with funding of education. It's not about taking money out of education.'"
Then, of course, they found -
Mr Bradley: Speaking of bureaucrats - I'm glad there was an interjection, illegal as it might be, because we found the contract from the bureaucrat. The Deputy Minister of Education had right in her contract that she must take an additional $667 million, two thirds of $1 billion, out of the education system, on top of the $533 million - that's over half a billion dollars - already taken out, and the amount that was cemented as a permanent cut as a result of the social contract. So we will need good Samaritans to advocate on behalf of the students of this province, from junior kindergarten to adult education.
We will need good Samaritans to help out with the Minister of the Environment, who has had his budget cut by one third, the staff cut by one third, the resources cut way back, subtle changes made to regulations and some legislative changes that will have a detrimental impact on the environment.
I'm glad my colleague from Scarborough East brought forward a bill that deals with good Samaritans, because we'll need all these good Samaritans. I want to tell him I'm going to vote for it. I'm going to tell the member for Scarborough East I am going to vote in favour of this legislation, because I think with the Harris government in power in this province we will need a lot of good Samaritans; not just the good Samaritans to help out appropriately, as my friend from Scarborough East suggests in this bill, and I want to support that, but also to help out in the many other areas where people are feeling the impact of the oppressive policies of the Conservative government of Mike Harris.
I want to commend the member for bringing forward this legislation.
Mr David Tilson (Dufferin-Peel): I too wish to rise and speak in favour of this bill. This is a good Samaritan bill, and I'm not sure but I think there was a bill called the Donation of Food Act which was passed in 1994, and I believe it may have been under the sponsorship of the leader of the official opposition, but I could be corrected. That bill was to protect the food bank donors.
There have been a number of good Samaritan bills that have passed across this country. I think New Brunswick and Nova Scotia have one, and I believe there's one here - I think it received third reading; it may even be law - from the leader of the official opposition, as he then was, as a private member in a private member's bill. That was to protect donors or distributors of food from liability for damages arising from injury or death resulting from the food. So the good Samaritan bill is not a new principle in this place. I had a bill several years ago that was similar.
What I believe this bill is trying to do, among other things, is to protect the individual who comes and discovers an accident - it could be a motor vehicle accident - and tries to assist that person. It could be a health professional, it could be a layperson who does their best to assist the person until the appropriate medical authority, a police officer, an ambulance person, a firefighter, comes to provide assistance to that individual, and protect those individuals from civil action.
I might emphasize that the words "gross negligence" are used. Obviously, if there was gross negligence by the good Samaritan, they would not receive assistance. The definition of "gross negligence" is - of course, that's sometimes dangerous because it applies in different situations.
"`Gross negligence'" - this from Black's law dictionary - "is defined as the intentional failure to perform a manifest duty, in reckless disregard of the consequences as affecting the life or property of another. Gross negligence consists of a conscious indifference, a voluntary act of omission that is likely to result in grave injury when in the face of clear and present danger." And it goes on.
The type of situation - I have an acquaintance, a nurse, who a number of years ago was having coffee in a restaurant. Outside the restaurant an accident occurs. She and her friend, a nurse, went to the assistance of this person - I believe it was a motorcycle accident and he was thrown something like 50 feet. They began CPR. As luck would have it, a passerby who was asthmatic gave them an oxygen tank and a mask he had in the car. As a result, there were problems and these two nurses were sued in a civil action.
The action was subsequently lost, but when that type of thing gets around, that passersby, good Samaritans, who are honestly doing - they were completely exonerated later by a medical examiner who determined in fact that their actions saved the life of this individual. Problems were caused not as a result of the actions of the nurses, but because of the injury itself. The problem was these two nurses were sued. They had to hire a lawyer, they had to pay lawyers' costs and they had to go to court. It didn't get that far, but the very fact of the matter is that it was instituted.
This bill will protect those nurses, if that were to happen today. I might add, the medical examiner said, "Be less intrusive. Just wait for the ambulance to come," to reduce their chances of a lawsuit. That was the advice that was given. We don't want that to happen in our province.
The Acting Speaker: Further debate? The member for Scarborough East has two minutes to wrap up.
Mr Gilchrist: First off, I would like to thank my colleagues on both sides of the House, the member for Kingston and The Islands, the member for Welland-Thorold, the member for St Catharines and of course my colleagues the members for Scarborough Centre, Northumberland and Dufferin-Peel, for their comments. I appreciate very much their expressions of support. It is very important for people to see that this is an issue that does transcend partisan politics, although I was pleased to indulge Mr Bradley the equal air time for his other expressions.
There's no doubt, and Mr Gerretsen raised the issue, that no bill is going to stop people from being able to put forward a lawsuit, but by setting such a high standard of expectations, it will certainly minimize the likelihood of a frivolous lawsuit or one that the proponent of the suit does not believe meets the test of gross negligence. Again, that is expressed by the actions, as my colleague from Dufferin-Peel pointed out, that someone should know not to do.
My colleague from Welland-Thorold correctly pointed out, as did the member for St Catharines, that attempts have been made to introduce similar legislation in this House before. It was something we discovered during our research. I'm disappointed it didn't pass then, but I think it highlights the fact that, even as far back as 1984, members in this House recognized the need to plug this loophole, recognized the need to bring forward legislation that protected volunteers, protected good Samaritans in this province.
As my colleague Mr Newman from Scarborough Centre pointed out, we're making investments - not just the province, but others are making investments, such as the Advanced Coronary Treatment Foundation of Canada that's promoting CPR training in high schools in this province. Given the partnership there, the promotion of volunteerism, the promotion of first aid training, it would be ironic if we had any kind of a barrier in the minds of people or on the statute books. This bill assures that there is no such barrier.
Again I thank my colleagues, and I look forward to their support of this bill now and during third reading.
The Acting Speaker: There being no further debate, pursuant to standing order 95(e), this House is suspended until 12 noon.
The House recessed from 1149 to 1200.
PROTECTION AGAINST PEDOPHILES ACT, 1997 / LOI DE 1997 SUR LA PROTECTION CONTRE LES PÉDOPHILES
The Acting Speaker (Mr Bert Johnson): We will deal first with ballot item number 1. Mr Brown has moved second reading of Bill 145. Is it the pleasure of the House that the motion carry? It is carried.
Shall the bill be referred to the standing committee?
Mr Michael A. Brown (Algoma-Manitoulin): Yes, of justice.
The Acting Speaker: Is it agreed? Agreed. It will be referred to the standing committee on administration of justice.
GOOD SAMARITAN ACT, 1997 / LOI DE 1997 SUR LE BON SAMARITAIN
The Acting Speaker (Mr Bert Johnson): We will now deal with ballot item number 2. Mr Gilchrist has moved second reading of Bill 166. Is it the pleasure of the House that the motion carry? Carried.
Shall this bill be referred to a standing committee?
Mr Steve Gilchrist (Scarborough East): Yes, Mr Speaker, I would ask agreement from my colleagues to refer this bill to the standing committee on general government.
The Acting Speaker: Is it agreed that this is referred to the standing committee on general government? Agreed.
It being a little after 12, this House stands adjourned until 1:30 this afternoon.
The House recessed from 1202 to 1330.
Mr Mario Sergio (Yorkview): I wish to address my remarks to the Minister of Municipal Affairs and Housing. I would like to bring to his attention the release from Canada Mortgage and Housing Corp of a few days ago where the availability of rental units has taken a sharp drop in most Canadian cities, especially here in Ontario, including St Catharines, London, Oshawa and Ottawa. Here in Toronto we have dropped from 1.2% to 0.8% vacancy rate. I would like to tell the minister that this represents a dramatic drop and it's causing a dramatic situation with respect to those people looking for reasonable accommodation. What this means is that rents are going to skyrocket and the availability of reasonable, affordable accommodation is going to be practically nil.
Those most affected, especially now as we enter the Christmas season, as we enter winter, are the homeless, those people who can't afford anything else. They will have to look for underpasses or bridges to find accommodation this winter.
I'm surprised to see the minister in total inertia, doing nothing about it. I would say to the minister, make it your New Year's resolution and do something about it. Don't wait for the municipalities. It is your job, your responsibility to provide affordable, decent accommodation for the needy people in Ontario.
FAMILY RESPONSIBILITY OFFICE
Mr Peter Kormos (Welland-Thorold): More than a year after the Attorney General's family support plan was exposed as being non-operational, my constituency office and the constituency offices of my colleagues continue to be plagued by complaints about the ineffectiveness and the bungling that continues to go on at the support plan, Charlie Harnick's supposed Family Responsibility Office.
My staff are plagued with calls of women and children not receiving moneys that have been remitted by their spouses' employers. Their inquiries to the family support plan are met as often as not with an indifference and a mere shrug. One comment received by one of my staff people was, "Why don't these people," to wit, the mother and children, "get their lives together?" implying that it's their fault that they're not receiving the moneys that are being garnished from their ex-spouses' wages.
In another instance it was suggested to one of my constituency staff that it was "only $500," that family support plan employee of Charlie Harnick not understanding that for that woman and her children, yes, a mere $500 is a considerable amount of money.
You, Attorney General, have displayed your incompetence, your laziness and your indifference to children and their mothers in this province long enough. It's about time, I tell you, Attorney General, that you resign, that you transfer responsibility for the family support plan to somebody who displays a modest amount of competence.
DRINKING AND DRIVING
Mr Jack Carroll (Chatham-Kent): It gives me great pleasure to rise today and inform the members of the House of a local anti-driving-and-drinking campaign that is taking place in my riding of Chatham-Kent. Operation Red Nose is first and foremost a campaign against impaired driving. It provides, during the month of December, a free designated driver service to motorists who have been drinking, who are not able to drive their own vehicle.
The program, managed and run by local volunteers, aims to improve the safety of our streets not only during the holiday period but throughout the year. The program is designed to enhance our community by building community ties through five common goals: awareness, education, information, prevention and funding local youth organizations.
Operation Red Nose is non-moralistic and is neutral on drinking. The position is simple: If you drink, don't drive. As honorary chair of Operation Red Nose in Chatham-Kent, I would like to say that I'm very proud to be part of this organization and of a community that believes in neighbour helping neighbour.
Mr Rick Bartolucci (Sudbury): This past Tuesday evening a town hall meeting on Bill 160 was held at Lockerby Composite School. I want to thank David Chellow, the president of the parent advisory council of MacLeod Public School, for organizing the event which involved 10 south end Sudbury schools.
There was an excellent turnout and an excellent exchange of ideas, but in the end most of the people who were in attendance were still very concerned with Bill 160.
Pat Nurmi from my Sudbury office forwarded a petition to me signed by concerned residents from Sudbury and Sudbury East. In it, they expressed concern about the partnership between Mike Harris and the former NDP Minister of Education Dave Cooke. Certainly the feeling is that this alliance of educational philosophies between the Conservatives and the former NDP education minister equals bad education. Although this alliance in philosophy between Mike Harris and Dave Cooke may define EIC as the Education Improvement Commission, my constituents, and those of the Sudbury East riding, define EIC as education in crisis.
They ask that the government rescind Bill 160, dissolve the partnership between Mike Harris and the former NDP Minister of Education Dave Cooke.
Mr Len Wood (Cochrane North): I want to take this opportunity today to congratulate all those men and women who recently ran for office in municipal elections right across the province, in particular the riding of Cochrane North. The commitment, goodwill and dedication that will be demanded on the part of the newly elected mayors, reeves and councillors and school trustees will be enormous, given the scope and the magnitude of the change that is being forced on them by this Conservative government with the passing of Bill 152.
Communities in the north will be hit hard by the whole downloading exercise: provincial highways, social assistance, policing, public housing, ambulance service, day care, public health, policing costs and a number of other issues. Local governments are forced to make do with what is essentially a shell game.
With this in mind, I want to extend my congratulations to the following people: Donald Genier of Cochrane, Fred Poulin of Smooth Rock Falls, Roger Chevrier of Opasatika, Jean Claude Caron of Kapuskasing, Real Cousineau of Glackmeyer township, Claude D'Amours of Moonbeam, Paul Zorzetto in Mattice and Laurier Bourgeois in Val Rita. I know these men and women are going to work hard. They're committed to working to ensure that northern communities remain strong and vibrant communities despite the actions of the Conservative government.
As I pointed out, I'm meeting with the various reeves and mayors and town councillors. We know there's going to have to be money brought out because the downloading is not revenue-neutral. It never was intended to be revenue-neutral as far as I'm concerned. There are probably millions of dollars - $25 million or more - owed to Cochrane North municipalities.
Mr Ron Johnson (Brantford): I rise in the House today as a patriotic Canadian and native of Brantford, the home town of hockey great Wayne Gretzky, to draw attention to a grave and serious injustice.
Daily on the streets of my community, in its coffee shops, restaurants, barber shops, on the radio and in telephone calls to my constituency office, I hear the indignation, the sense of betrayal, shock and even outrage. I speak of something which I believe can have far-reaching and long-range implications on national unity, which could tear at the very fabric which holds our country together.
I speak of the very serious omission of a fellow patriotic Canadian from the Canadian Olympic hockey team, someone who has always answered the call of his country without hesitation, someone who has consistently exemplified the qualities of leadership and team building we try to instil in our young people.
I speak of the exclusion of a six-time Stanley Cup winner, two-time Hart Trophy winner for league MVP, Conn Smythe Trophy winner for playoff MVP, a four-time, first-team, all-star player with 1,272 regular season games, 575 goals, 1,552 points, 1,596 penalty minutes, 236 playoff games and 295 playoff points.
I speak of Mark Messier, a true Canadian. I urge all patriotic Canadians to contact the Canadian Hockey Association in Calgary at 1-888-846-4244 to voice their displeasure at this very serious injustice.
NIAGARA ESCARPMENT COMMISSION
Mr James J. Bradley (St Catharines): When the members of the opposition expressed grave concern about the appointment of Norman Seabrook to the Niagara Escarpment Commission, the Conservative members of the government agencies committee rallied to his side and voted unanimously to approve his appointment.
Even though Mr Seabrook was believed to have a rather negative approach to the preservation of escarpment lands at a time when this environmental gem, declared by the United Nations to be a world biosphere, would be under pressure from developers eager to develop the landscape, the Minister of Natural Resources accepted the recommendation of the Niagara Escarpment critic, Bill Murdoch, to appoint Mr Seabrook.
Mr Seabrook in one of the meetings made a racial allusion which is no longer, and never should have been, acceptable in our society and referred to the commission by using this terminology. What this points out is how important it is that the government assess very carefully its appointments to various agencies, boards and commissions. It simply isn't good enough to have the old boys' network, where a member of the Legislature who happens to dislike, for instance, the Niagara Escarpment Commission and the preservation of the Niagara Escarpment lands is allowed to influence the government to have one of his friends appointed to the commission.
Let us hope this is a lesson for the government. Let us hope that the minister will now appoint those who are going to truly protect the escarpment.
Ms Marilyn Churley (Riverdale): I have read with interest in the Toronto Star this morning Mr Harris saying that he doesn't think the educational court challenge was "a productive use of time or money." Then he says, "It seems to be the way of the land these days that if you don't like anything that's done by a company or a municipality or a provincial or federal government, you hire lawyers and march off to court."
I say to the Premier that if he'd start listening to the people, bring democracy back to Ontario and stop breaking the law himself - his government has been caught on several occasions - then people wouldn't have to as a last resort go off to court. Where does the Premier get off telling people that he doesn't think going to court to fight against the unjust laws that are being made in this province against the will of the people is a productive thing to do?
On Saturday all kinds of people all over the province are finding ways to continue this battle over the demise of our public education system. On Saturday in my riding, from 11 o'clock to 3 o'clock, people will be gathering, parents and teachers and students, in my office at 288 Danforth to go door to door asking people to sign the petition to repeal this bill.
BLAKE MULLIN, DAVID STANLEY AND DONALD HILBORNE
Mr Ernie Hardeman (Oxford): Tonight, two Oxford county volunteer firefighters will be honoured for their distinguished service as they are presented with the Ontario Medal for Firefighter Bravery. Princeton firefighters Blake Mullin and David Stanley will receive the honour along with three others from across Ontario.
These medals are given to individuals who show extreme bravery in the line of duty. Blake and Dave certainly displayed this extreme courage in November 1996, when they jumped into a liquid manure tank to rescue three farmers who had passed out due to the thick lethal gas fumes. The two firefighters, wearing air masks and air packs, went into the 12-foot tank to pull farmers out. They were assisted by other firefighters, who tied a rope around the waist of each of the men to help lower them into the tank and pull them out along with the three unconscious men.
This is indeed an act of bravery. Tonight in the Legislative Building the volunteers will receive this prestigious award from the Honourable Hilary Weston, the Lieutenant Governor of Ontario.
I would like to also bring the attention of the Legislature to the Oxford county -
The Speaker (Hon Chris Stockwell): Are we out of time? I think I made a mistake, member for Oxford, and didn't set the clock. It was my fault. I cut you off. When I stood up, you were cut off the mike, so if you want to continue from where I cut you off.
Is there unanimous consent that he read it again? Agreed. Okay. One more time from the top.
Mr Hardeman: I'd also like to bring the attention of the Legislature to Oxford resident Donald Hilborne, who was honoured Wednesday for outstanding achievement with the Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs in Woodstock. Donald was one of the recipients of this year's Amethyst Award. The Amethyst Award honours Ontario civil servants who are recognized for their excellence and outstanding achievement. He was honoured for his efforts in developing a computer program to help farmers reduce water pollution stemming from manure. We in Oxford are extremely proud of all three of these men and wish to congratulate them for their efforts.
Ms Marilyn Churley (Riverdale): Point of privilege, Mr Speaker -
The Speaker: I should get those in advance.
Ms Churley: It's just unanimous consent to wear a button.
The Speaker: The member for Riverdale is requesting the wearing of a button for the women who were massacred. Agreed? Agreed.
Mrs Lyn McLeod (Fort William): I believe there is unanimous consent of all the parties to mark the anniversary of the murder in Montreal of the 14 women.
The Speaker: Agreed? Agreed.
DAY OF REMEMBRANCE AND ACTION ON VIOLENCE AGAINST WOMEN
Mrs Lyn McLeod (Fort William): It is eight years now since the senseless, tragic killing of 14 bright young woman at l'École polytechnique in Montreal. Eight years later the horror of it is no less, and it should be no less. We cannot allow ourselves to forget the pain of the families or the incredible waste in the loss of these 14 lives. We cannot know for certain that these women were targeted for killing because they were pursuing a non-traditional field, although we believe that's so. We do know for certain that they were targeted for killing because they were women. We know for certain that the bright futures of these young women were suddenly erased by a senseless, mad act and that it was not an act of random violence; it was an act against women, carried out against them because they were women.
I try, as the parent of four daughters, to imagine the continued grieving of the families and the friends of Geneviève Bergeron, Hélène Colgan, Nathalie Croteau, Barbara Daigneault, Anne-Marie Edward, Maud Haviernick, Barbara Maria Klucznik, Maryse Laganière, Maryse Leclair, Anne-Marie Lemay, Sonia Pelletier, Michèle Richard, Annie St-Arneault and Annie Turcotte, and I cannot conceive of how their families and friends can cope with such a loss.
But my sense of the magnitude of what was lost eight years ago in such a sudden and horrific way increases my awareness of the vulnerability of my own daughters and all young women like them, and that renews my own commitment to do whatever I can to ensure that women can be safe and free from fear. We have such a long way to go. We know that domestic violence is increasing, not decreasing, despite greater awareness that domestic violence is a crime and that the crime now carries a greater likelihood of conviction and harsher penalties. We are not yet doing nearly enough to ensure that women can be safe in their own homes and can escape violent situations when their safety is threatened.
We know little about the origins of the senseless acts of violence against women on our streets or in a Toronto subway station. It is not sufficient to say that these are the acts of sick minds. Of course they are. But what predisposes a twisted mind to direct its anger and its violence towards women? Why are we so reluctant to understand that the roots of this targeted violence lie in the persistence of the abuse of power where women and children are so often the victims? And why do we not understand that sexual harassment is not unrelated to the horrific acts of violence that have the power to shock us so much?
We must do more to make our homes, our schools, our streets and our subways physically safe places for women. I acknowledge the efforts that are being made to take back the night, but even beyond this, we must not stop short as a society in our readiness to be shocked by violence wherever we see it, in every way that it makes itself known, from the abuse of children to the verbal abuse and sexual harassment of women, and to say: "Stop. This is not tolerable and it will not be allowed to continue."
Only then will our remembering of the killing of 14 young women eight years ago become truly meaningful and only then will we be able to pull some kind of sense out of this senseless loss.
Ms Marilyn Churley (Riverdale): Eight years ago, after this horrific crime was committed, Stevie Cameron, a journalist who I think is well known to everybody here, wrote a story for the Globe and Mail in sharp reaction to the event. I thought it would be useful today to read excerpts from that article, because you have to remember that it was written very, very soon after the murder of these eight young women.
"They are so precious to us, our daughters. When they are born, we see their futures as unlimited and as they grow and learn, we try so hard to protect them: This is how we cross the street, hold my hand, wear your boots, don't talk to strangers, run to the neighbours if a man tries to get you in his car.
"We tell our bright, shining girls that they can be anything: firefighters, doctors, policewomen, lawyers, scientists, soldiers, athletes, artists. What we don't tell them, yet, is how hard it will be. Maybe, we say to ourselves, by the time they're older it will be easier for them than it was for us.
"But as they grow and learn, with aching hearts we have to start dealing with their bewilderment about injustice. Why do the boys get the best gyms, the best equipment and the best times on the field? Most of the school sports' budget? Why does football matter more than gymnastics? Why are most of the teachers women and most of the principals men? Why do the boys make more money at their part-time jobs than we do?
"And as they grow and learn we have to go on trying to protect them: We'll pick you up at the subway, we'll fetch you from the movie, stay with the group, make sure the parents drive you home from babysitting, don't walk across the park alone, lock the house if we're not there.
"It's not fair, they say. Boys can walk where they want, come in when they want, work where they want. Not really, we say; boys get attacked too. But boys are not targets for men the way girls are so girls have to be more careful.
"Sometimes our girls don't make it. Sometimes, despite our best efforts and all our love, they go on drugs, drop out, screw up. On the whole, however, our daughters turn into interesting, delightful people. They plan for college and university and with wonder and pride we see them competing with the boys for spaces in engineering schools, medical schools, law schools, business schools. For them we dream of Rhodes scholarships, Harvard graduate school, gold medals; sometimes, we even dare to say these words out loud and our daughters reward us with indulgent hugs. Our message is that anything is possible.
"We bite back the cautions that we feel we should give them; maybe by the time they've graduated, things will have changed, we say to ourselves....
"But we still warn them: park close to the movie, get a deadbolt for your apartment, check your windows, tell your roommates where you are. Call me. Call me.
"And then with aching hearts we take our precious daughters to lunch and listen to them talk about their friends: the one who was beaten by her boyfriend and then shunned by his friends when she asked for help from the dean, the one who was attacked in the parking lot, the one who gets obscene and threatening calls from a boy in her residence, the one who gets raped on a date, the one who was mocked by the male students in the public meeting.
"They tell us about the sexism they're discovering in the adult world at university. Women professors who can't get jobs, who can't get tenure. Male professors who cannot comprehend women's stony silence after sexist jokes. An administration that only pays lip-service to women's issues and refuses to accept the reality of physical danger to women on campus....
"What can we say to our bright and shining daughters? How can we tell them how much we hurt to see them developing the same scars we've carried? How much we wanted it to be different for them? It's all about power, we say to them. Sharing power is not easy for anyone and men do not find it easy to share among themselves, much less with a group of equally talented, able women. So men make all those stupid cracks about needing a sex change operation to get a job or a promotion and they wind up believing it....
"Now our daughters have been shocked to the core, as we all have, by the violence in Montreal. They hear the women were separated from the men and meticulously slaughtered by a man who blamed his troubles on feminists. They ask themselves why nobody was able to help the terrified women, to somehow stop the hunter as he roamed the engineering building.
"So now our daughters are truly frightened and it makes their mothers furious that they are frightened. They survived all the childhood dangers, they were careful as we trained them to be, they worked hard. Anything was possible and our daughters proved it. And now they are more scared than they were when they were little girls.
"Fourteen of our bright and shining daughters won places in engineering schools, doing things we, their mothers, only dreamed of. That we lost them has broken our hearts; what is worse is that we are not surprised."
This was written, as I said, shortly after, in the aftermath of the horrifying shock for all of us to find out about the murder of these young women.
Every year I join with my colleagues from all three parties. We attend a candlelight vigil at Women's College Hospital. As I stand in the House every year, I talk about what a painful and sad time that is, but how important a ceremony it is, because every year 14 of we women are given a red rose to hold, and that rose is not just a rose. Each rose symbolizes a young woman who was gunned down that day in the university. As we stand there and slowly, one after the other, come forward and place the rose representing a name, a person, that person, to each of us, becomes very real.
Most of us, as mothers ourselves, come out of there with broken hearts because in that ceremony every year, as we to some extent relive it, these young women who were murdered become real to us. It's not just something that happened eight years ago. And we remember all of the other women who have died at the hands of their male partners and other forms of violence against women.
I think it's important that we take the time every year in this House to stand up and speak and remember the murder of these women, because we must never forget.
Hon Dianne Cunningham (Minister of Intergovernmental Affairs, minister responsible for women's issues): I rise with my colleagues today to recognize that December 6 is the national Day of Remembrance and Action on Violence Against Women. Today we remember the 14 bright young women, full of promise, whose lives were brutally cut short on December 6, 1989; whose lives were cut short because they were women and because they dared to walk a path that once had only been walked by men.
The female engineering students at l'École polytechnique represented hope for a profession that was opening its doors at that time to women in greater numbers. They stood as proof that entering a professional college is a matter of ability, not gender.
Today we remember the victims of the Montreal massacre. We mourn along with their families. Today we also commemorate the women who have died at the hands of their current or estranged partners.
We remember the thousands of Canadian women who right now, as we sit here in this Legislative Assembly, live under constant threat of physical, sexual and emotional abuse. They are our wives, our mothers, our grandmothers, our daughters, our aunts, our sisters, and we love them and we need to protect them as they nurture us.
Today we remember the victims and survivors of these crimes and we renew our commitment to end all forms of violence against women.
In the eight years since the Montreal massacre, too much attention has been paid to the person who did the killing. We look at news reports; we see his picture. We must stop it. We must stop mentioning the name and printing that picture. We must, however, remember what his motives were.
On this national Day of Remembrance and Action on Violence Against Women, let us resolve to focus on the 14 women who lost their lives. Let us remember their names, as their families are surely doing today, and let them live on as symbols of hope for the future.
For every woman who graduates from a school of engineering - and there are many of them, but not enough - let us say, "This one is for you, Michèle Richard." For every woman who breaks through that glass ceiling and reaches her goal, let her say and let us say, "This one is for you, Annie Turcotte, Geneviève Bergeron or Hélène Colgan." And for each small victory in our own effort, for everyone here in this House who works in our communities to end that violence against women, let us say, "Sonia Pelletier, Nathalie Croteau, Barbara Daigneault, Anne-Marie Edward, Maryse Laganière, Annie St-Arneault, Maud Haviernick, Maryse Leclair, Anne-Marie Lemay, Barbara Maria Klucznik, this is for you."
On this national Day of Remembrance and Action on Violence against Women, let us recognize the right of every woman, of every person, to be safe in our communities, in our homes, at school, on the street. All of us must state our commitment. All of us in this House, in our country, across our provinces, our communities and in our homes must commit to provide those supports, each and every one of us, to those women who continue to experience this terrible violence.
Mr Speaker, I ask that we take a moment of silence to remember those victims and their names.
The Speaker (Hon Chris Stockwell): Please rise.
The House observed a moment's silence.
INTRODUCTION OF BILLS
MILK AMENDMENT ACT, 1997 / LOI DE 1997 MODIFIANT LA LOI SUR LE LAIT
Mr Villeneuve moved first reading of the following bill:
Bill 170, An Act to amend the Milk Act / Projet de loi 170, Loi modifiant la Loi sur le lait.
The Speaker (Hon Chris Stockwell): Is it the pleasure of the House that the motion carry? Carried.
Hon Noble Villeneuve (Minister of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs, minister responsible for francophone affairs): It's my pleasure to introduce a bill that will amend the Milk Act to allow the transfer of the raw milk quality program to the dairy farmers of Ontario. This legislation will ensure a continued supply of safe, high-quality dairy products to Ontario's consumers and increase efficiency in our raw milk inspection system.
HIGHWAY TRAFFIC AMENDMENT ACT (DRIVER TRAINING COURSE), 1997 / LOI DE 1997 MODIFIANT LE CODE DE LA ROUTE (COURS DE CONDUITE AUTOMOBILE)
Mr Wettlaufer moved first reading of the following bill:
Bill 171, An Act to amend the Highway Traffic Act to require applicants for a driver's licence to complete successfully a driver training course / Projet de loi 171, Loi modifiant le Code de la route pour exiger que l'auteur d'une demande d'un permis de conduire termine avec succès un cours de conduite automobile.
The Speaker (Hon Chris Stockwell): Is it the pleasure of the House that the motion carry? Carried.
Mr Wayne Wettlaufer (Kitchener): I'm pleased to move the bill. The bill amends the Highway Traffic Act to require that an applicant for a driver's licence must, not more than two years before making the application, have successfully completed a driver training course approved by the Minister of Transportation.
Mr Gerry Phillips (Scarborough-Agincourt): My question is to the Premier and it's on the new property tax plan that will begin in 27 days. It's increasingly evident that the Premier and the government have taken a good idea, property tax reform, and are completely screwing it up.
I use the clerks and treasurers themselves, the people who have to implement this, who have said that this plan is going to create chaos in the municipal sector. They have told us that you are putting at risk the financial health of our municipal sector. They went on to say that they expect 600,000 appeals in the province of Ontario, and they've told us that no municipality will be sending out its final tax bills until at least July, probably August, and as late as September.
The Speaker (Hon Chris Stockwell): Question, please.
Mr Phillips: My question is this: The last date for appeal of your taxes in 1998 is June 29. That is before the tax bills go out. Why are you having the appeal date -
The Speaker: Thank you. Premier?
Hon Michael D. Harris (Premier): I'm not sure where you get your dates from or your information from. I appreciate your comment that it's a good idea, and I'd be interested in your thoughts on, if it was such a good idea, why you didn't do it in the five years you were in government.
Mr Phillips: You probably aren't aware of the dates because they're in your own bills. The last date for appeal, Premier, is June 29.
I just say on behalf of the taxpayers of Ontario, Mike Harris is going to set for the business community over half their property taxes. That bill will not arrive at our businesses until July or August, but Mike Harris has told you that the last date you can appeal your 1998 property taxes is June 29. The Mike Harris property tax bill arrives in July and the last date for appeal is June 29.
I ask you again, Premier, why have you set this up so that the last date of appeal is June 29, before they even get their tax bills? Why would you not allow people in 1998 to appeal their taxes after they finally find out how much you're socking to them?
Hon Mr Harris: I think the information will be out long before that, as it always is. There will be the interim tax bills, there will be the assessment data and there will be the formulas there. I think people will know, as they always do. I don't know what nonsense you're spewing.
Mr Phillips: I just say to all of the property taxpayers, listen carefully to this, because the Premier obviously does not know what he's talking about. The last date for appeal is June 29. No one in this province will be getting their 1998 tax bill until July, August or September. No one will know, Premier, how much their taxes are for 1998 until July, August or September. That is fact.
If you want to contradict that, I challenge you to contradict that. I challenge you to say I'm wrong. The final tax bills will not go out until July; the final date for appeal is June 29. That is fact. Stand up today and say it is not.
Hon Mr Harris: You are saying that people will not know by the time for the final notice, and you are wrong.
Mr Gerard Kennedy (York South): My question is for the Minister of Health. You made an announcement the other day in Hamilton around funding to improve cardiac care in this province. It was a long-awaited announcement. We congratulate you for finally responding to capital needs to improve cardiac care.
Minister, you know that will take time. You know that the communities have to come up with 50% of the funding. Meanwhile, the main requirement to improve cardiac care in Ontario was missing from your announcement: operating funds to be able to increase the amount of procedures that are done in this province. A report that your ministry has been sitting on since September said these were needed.
Today you can correct the oversight. Your ministry has cut millions of dollars from hospitals and has made it very hard for them to respond to what's predicted to be a 26% increase in demand. Will you increase operating funds so that the shiny new equipment can actually serve some people?
Hon Elizabeth Witmer (Minister of Health): If you will recall, earlier this year we actually did announce an expansion of surgery capacity for the operating portion and we announced at that time $35 million. As well, the Cardiac Care Network is continuing to work and they will be making further recommendations to us in the spring.
Mr Kennedy: The minister needs to know that this is an urgent matter. This is something that needs to be dealt with. The previous minister knew about it, your ministry officials have known about it, you in your new capacity know about it as well: that there are delays in Ottawa, that some of the hospitals, like the one in Sault Ste Marie, are having to pay deficit funding to do the catheterizations, to do the tests.
The cardiologists in the Toronto area are so concerned they started their own waiting list. On that waiting list since May approximately six people have died and five have had a heart attack. Minister, you need to act very soon to make sure the operating dollars are there where they are needed in the province. You haven't provided those and you need to do that, because that waiting list has been getting longer and you know that many of the new labs, which we think are good things to have in place, are not going to be there for as much as six months or longer.
Today, tomorrow, Minister, you need to be acting. You need to be putting more operating funds so we can get them up to capacity as your expert panel told you to do. Will you act so that people can have access to those tests and better cardiac care in this province?
Hon Mrs Witmer: I am not sure whether you're aware of the fact, but since 1995 we have actually invested $58 million in cardiac care. This government does recognize the need for new dollars to support these priority services in the area of cardiac care. In fact our announcement yesterday was extremely well-received, because what we have done is we have now provided additional support on top of the $35 million we had already invested previously this year. We are making every attempt to move forward as quickly as we can to reduce the waiting list. I want to indicate to you that we know surgeries are up 13% over the same time last year, and we are starting to see a decrease and we will continue to move forward as we have in the past.
Mr Kennedy: Minister, you were told and your previous minister was told clearly that there is a crisis in access to advanced cardiovascular care - in September, after you made some of your catch-up announcements, long after you dealt with that. You are not even keeping track, your own Cardiac Care Network isn't even keeping track of how many people are dying on a waiting list for those procedures.
You can shrug it off and say, "Even though our government has cut $800 million from hospitals, we are not going to respond to this," but you are the Minister of Health. It is important that you tell the families and the community cardiologists out there that you will act immediately to improve the operating funds to make sure people can have access to those tests.
Minister, will you do that or will you just depend on the old ideas, the old vision and the money that has been taken away by the old Minister of Health, or will you provide us with some of the new answers we badly need for the Ontario health system today? Will you do that for the people in Ontario?
Hon Mrs Witmer: It's obvious the member opposite isn't aware of the tremendous progress that has been made, particularly this year. As I've indicated to you, we are moving forward. We invested this year $35 million alone in operating funds. In fact, when the announcement was made, I just want to quote: "`This is a giant step forward in the integration of medical services,'" said Dr Wilbert Keon, head of the University of Ottawa Heart Institute. Dr Bill Schragge said it will have a significant impact on waiting lists for cardiac surgery. Without it there would be major delays."
Of course, Dr David Naylor at the Sunnybrook Health Sciences Centre, said when we made the $35 million investment to reduce heart surgery waiting lists: "These funds will shrink the line to its shortest period ever. This is a very important, major step forward."
The Speaker (Hon Chris Stockwell): Answer, please.
Hon Mrs Witmer: I would simply indicate to you, despite what you are saying, we have this year -
The Speaker: Thank you.
Mr Tony Silipo (Dovercourt): My question is to the Premier with respect to the education financing that will flow, particularly in the stub year. You know, of course, that the stub year for school board budgets begins four weeks from now. Your government has repeatedly stated that the new school boards, which also begin operation four weeks from now, will have stable funding. We want to understand more clearly and they need to understand more clearly what that means, because it's our understanding that for that stub year, that is, the first eight months of 1998, what you mean by that is that, in effect, boards will receive 62% of this year's combination of grants and taxes. Premier, can you confirm that the funding for the stub year is in fact going to translate into 62% of grant and tax revenue receipt by boards this year?
Hon Michael D. Harris (Premier): I'll refer it to the minister responsible.
Hon David Johnson (Minister of Education and Training): I will confirm precisely what the previous minister, Minister Snobelen, indicated in his April 18 letter to the school boards, where he said, "I'm pleased to advise you that for the 1997-98 school year," - that is, ending August 1998, and that is the stub year, from January to August - "the government will continue to provide in grants and taxes the level of funding the system was receiving in 1997."
That is precisely what we're going to do. Over the course of this year we've been meeting with various business officials. Meetings have even been held as late as today; there's a meeting going on even with school board officials today, local officials having further input into this whole process. So they can be sure of that stable funding.
Mr Silipo: The reason I asked a very specific question about the 62% was because people know the answer the minister has just given is the answer that's being given to date. We're trying to get some clarification as to what that actually means for various school boards. We understand, through the Ontario Association of School Business Officials, that the ministry is planning to apply this factor of 62% to all boards equally.
We want to point out that there is a problem with that, and I'm sure you're aware of it, because as you know a survey that was conducted by that same association showed that some boards are spending more than 70% of their budgets in that same period of January to August. If you stay on that formula of 62%, then you're going to have, in the words of this report, winners and losers, because there is a range of spending in terms of how boards allocate their money.
The Speaker (Hon Chris Stockwell): Question, please.
Mr Silipo: One of the big areas for that is what school boards do with respect to their summer programs. Therefore, if you stick to the 62%, we're going to see summer programs closing as one of the likely outcomes. Are you going to allow some kind of range, or are you going to stick firmly to the -
The Speaker: Thank you.
Hon David Johnson: I'm not here to make an announcement today with regard to the precise finite details of the plan, but suffice it to say that the grants and taxes have been committed to be stable. I am aware that some boards feel 62% is fine; some feel it should be 63%; some may feel that less than 62% may cover their costs during that period of time. It may be deemed to be the same amount of stable funding they received last year. All I can tell you is I'm aware of that, our officials are aware of that, we're meeting with various business officials, board officials - the meetings are taking place even today. The meetings are at the request of various officials. We're happy to do that and we're working out the finite details. They've been assured of stable funding. There's no problem in that regard.
Mr Silipo: You see, the problem is the minister keeps saying they are assured of that funding. He said the system-wide funding will be there. What we're trying to understand is, what does that mean board by board? I appreciate that meetings are happening at the 11th hour; I suppose that's better than having them start in January when the new budget year actually starts. But Minister, if you don't have your act together by now, that's exactly why school boards are concerned about what this means for them.
Will you allow, in that formula, for those variations that will ensure things like summer programs don't have to be closed down as a way for school boards to meet an arbitrary figure that you might very well decide to come down to? You've had very good suggestions from the business officials who have told you, "If you want to start with a benchmark of 63%, then be prepared to adjust that up or down to deal with individual boards' spending." Are you prepared to do that? It's a very simple question.
Hon David Johnson: And it's a very simple answer: We have guaranteed stable funding, the same funding, grants and taxes that they received in 1997. That's precisely what the minister has indicated.
What happens and how those moneys are used will be at the discretion of the local boards. If they choose to spend their money in certain areas, then so be it. If they spend their moneys on certain summer programs or programs that take place during the rest of the year, that will be at their discretion.
Ms Marilyn Churley (Riverdale): My question is to the Premier. Today on December 4, we are exactly 27 days away from the date your government is supposed to take over 100% funding of women's shelters. I've got to tell you, Premier, that not one single shelter - not one single shelter board, shelter program supervisor or executive director - knows what their funding for next year is going to be.
Your government announced that you would take 100% funding of women's shelters. The material from the Ministry of Municipal Affairs and Housing showed the municipal portion of that funding to be $5 million, but nowhere in your government's estimates does the $5 million show up. It's not in the violence against women funding envelope; it's not in Comsoc estimates.
I've asked the minister responsible for women's issues repeatedly where the money is and she hasn't given me an answer, so I'm asking you today, Premier: Will you tell women's shelters what their funding will be for next year? They need to prepare their budgets now.
Hon Michael D. Harris (Premier): I could refer you to any one of the ministers, all of whom could give you the answer, and rather than pick favourites I'll give you the answer myself. I think there will be an announcement forthcoming very shortly and it will be in plenty of time for preparing budgets. I would not anticipate any surprises and I think those involved in receiving the funding will be pleased.
Ms Churley: Premier, I'd like to see your Treasurer try to prepare your budget in 27 days. These people need to know what the money is going to be, and we on all sides of the House are aware that your government has botched, as the member for Oakville South has already said, the download to municipalities. We know it's an uneven trade. Not only can you not tell the municipalities what the numbers are, you don't even know what the numbers are yourself.
I've got to tell you that people are very worried. You don't have a good record in this area. You've cut shelter funding each of the last two years, you've cut support to second-stage housing and you've cut every single support that women escaping violent domestic situations rely on - every single support, Premier: income support, housing support, child care, legal aid. Now we are in a situation where there are a lot of questions about funding. What will the funding be? How will it be calculated? What services will you fund? We need to know now.
Hon Mr Harris: I have to comment on some of the facts that are quite frankly not true. Child care: We've increased funding to record levels in Ontario. Legal aid: We have honoured and maintained exactly the agreement that was put in place by the Rae government - you will remember them - before us, so there have been no cuts to legal aid. We have honoured completely the agreement brought forward by your government.
I indicated to you there will be an announcement coming shortly. I indicated to you I don't think they'll have any difficulty in doing their budgeting for next year, and I add that this government is looking at correcting something we inherited from your government, which was a per diem funding that caused significant fluctuations and difficulties for shelters to budget properly. We are looking at providing a more stable funding formula for them so as not to have to put up with the discrepancies and difficulties we inherited from your government.
Ms Churley: Premier, you perhaps inadvertently just called me a liar and I'm going to turn it back on you, because what I said in my previous question was the truth. You have to accept the fact. You talk to your minister responsible for women's issues and find out, if you don't know, what is really going on there.
We are talking about shelters. Shelters save women's lives. All the pamphlets of one-time funding that the minister has been bragging about lately with the new strategy cannot save lives. We're talking about shelters here. They are critical, and we have not a word out of the minister or you today about funding for those shelters.
The Speaker (Hon Chris Stockwell): Question, please.
Ms Churley: What you just said is not good enough, Premier. I want you to stand up - if you can't do it, ask your minister to do it - and assure us today that that funding is there and that women will be told today what they can expect and where they expect to get -
The Speaker: Thank you very much.
Hon Mr Harris: I realize that the main question dealt with funding for shelters and I responded that they will have that information in plenty of time to budget. They will be pleased with that information. It will be more stable funding than the erratic type of funding on a per diem basis that you provided.
Having answered that, in placing your question before us some facts were incorrect. I thought I should correct the record and I did.
ILLEGAL TIRE DUMPS
Mr Dominic Agostino (Hamilton East): My question is to the Premier. On December 2, there was a tire fire in Brantford where over 7,000 tires burned at a site that, as a result of your government's inadequate controls, lacked any regulations, lacked any aspect of government inspections and lacked any action on your part. This site had over 40,000 tires stored, eight MOE violations, operated without a licence and continued operation even with a court order to stop.
I have the field observation report from the ministry. The report says very clearly that even as late as October 15, "There is danger of fire. Contaminants will be discharged to the natural environment and will have an adverse effect." This is your own ministry's document on the site. It clearly shows that your government, your Ministry of the Environment does not have a handle on illegal tire dumps in Ontario, does not know how to deal with them and is going to cause another disaster in this province as a result of a lack of action.
Premier, I ask you, will you today commit your government to launch an immediate crackdown on all illegal tire dumps in Ontario and go after the operators who run them?
Hon Michael D. Harris (Premier): I think the idea the member puts forward is a pretty good one and I would be pleased to pass that on to the Ministry of the Environment. He will know that I and the minister share his concern with these kinds of fires.
I'm pleased to be able to report the immediate response of the Ministry of the Environment. Within an hour of the fire being reported to the spills action centre, the Ministry of the Environment was on the scene. I'm pleased to report that the local medical officer of health determined that there was no risk to human health.
I'm pleased to report that air samples were taken by the ministry that indicated that any chemicals, such as toluene, were below ministry guidelines, and that firewater - the experience we had from previous fires over the last decade in this type of situation, particularly the Hagersville fire - from this site was contained.
The Speaker (Hon Chris Stockwell): Answer, please.
Hon Mr Harris: In addition to that, you've suggested that we be proactive -
The Speaker: Thank you.
Mr Agostino: This disaster could have been another major environmental and health disaster for Ontario. The problem is that your government, since taking office, has sent out a clear message to illegal tire dump operators in Ontario that it is okay to continue to work and operate illegally.
Premier, since you have taken office, charges against illegal tire dumps have dropped by 67%. Fines against illegal tire dump operators have dropped by 79%. The message you are sending out is that it is okay. You talk the talk - the minister, Margaret Marland, talked the talk in 1990 with the Hagersville situation - but you have done nothing as a government to address that situation. There are hundreds of such sites across Ontario. It is a ticking time bomb that is going to explode unless your government commits to going after the operators, unless your government commits to change the regulations.
Premier, right now your ministry has admitted that they don't know where these sites are, that they don't know how many exist and don't know whether there are 4,000 or 400,000 tires stored at most of these sites. Without all the rhetoric, will you commit today to an immediate crackdown on all illegal tire dump operators in Ontario?
Hon Mr Harris: The member, I know, because he's interested in this issue, will know that the Ministry of the Environment encourages the reuse of used tires, recycling technologies, development of value added products. He will know that the province has achieved a 60% diversion for the management of scrap tires, a significant achievement in waste diversion. In fact, Ontario has led the way, with two tire recycling facilities in south-central Ontario.
With regard to this specific site, the ministry was brought in on August 25 by the city of Brantford. There was an inspection at that time. On September 3, 4, 5 and 24, inspectors were there on the property and orders were brought forward. I think the member would know that. In addition, in your first question you asked for an additional crackdown on the terrible mess we inherited. Could we do even more to clean it up faster? We'll do our best.
Mr Rosario Marchese (Fort York): My question is to the Minister of Education. Mario Silva, a parent from Charles G. Fraser, called me a couple of days ago. He was very angry at the way the grade 3 tests had been reported. He said that the students who wrote the test got 80% in reading, 97% in writing and 93% in mathematics, but because those students who were exempt were included in the overall average, the school got a failing grade. He became very worried and was afraid that many of the parents would take their kids out of the school system.
Your answer to the member for Algoma yesterday was, "We understand," and you told him, "Be assured that I will bring this matter at the earliest opportunity to the attention of the EQAO and ask that they reconsider how they may publish this sort of information in the future."
Minister, they need an answer today. You've got the power to do that. Are you going to do it today or are you going to wait for the following year?
Hon David Johnson (Minister of Education and Training): I don't know what the member means precisely. I did have a discussion with one of the members of the EQAO yesterday and I'll be having another discussion with another member tomorrow.
The member and the individual he referred to can be assured that the results student by student are as accurate as the test is, and the test, we have every reason to believe, is an accurate test. The only question is that some of those who were exempted were not included in the manner that most people think they should be in terms of the overall average per school.
But that isn't the main intent of the test. The main intent of the test is to give parents the opportunity to understand how their children are achieving, and that has been long overdue in the province. Parents have been asking for a standardized test to show how their child is achieving.
The Speaker (Hon Chris Stockwell): Answer, please.
Hon David Johnson: The kind of report cards and the kind of tests they've had in the past have been so fuzzy, they had no idea where they stood. Finally, we've come forward with a valid test -
The Speaker: Thank you.
Mr Marchese: You're talking about the purpose of the tests and why we are doing them in the first place. That's not what I asked you. The question to you, Minister, is that Mario Silva, as a parent, was very worried that when you average in those students who were exempt, they got a failing grade. He knows that many of the students who wrote the test did very well. He knows that. He doesn't need you to tell him again. What he's worried about, and why the school principal, Maria Alviani, took measures to correct it, was the reason for her calling and writing a letter to all the parents saying: "These were the results. We're doing well. Those who were exempt, because they were added in, created a failing result. But we don't have a problem in our school. We have done very, very well." She is worried, and this parent is worried, that many of the parents might want to take their kids out of those schools where the grade is low.
The Speaker: Question, please.
Mr Marchese: Because you've got the power, we want you to reissue the real numbers of those students who have written the test. Will you do that now or are you going to leave it for -
The Speaker: Thank you. Minister.
Hon David Johnson: Just a couple of facts. The EQAO is an organization long overdue. In fact the previous government is the government that initiated the EQAO. They're doing excellent work. In this particular instance, the individual results of the individual students are entirely accurate. There is no problem.
In terms of results of schools, each school board has full authority to reissue the results within their board, and in any manner they see fit. If the board in question chooses to reorganize the data, pull out those who are exempt, reissue on a school-by-school basis, they have every right to do that, they have every authority to do that. They have every authority to communicate with their parents, pulling out those who are exempt and showing different averages.
I have brought this to the attention of representatives of the EQAO and I would expect in the future that in all likelihood their findings in the future will reflect that reality.
VIOLENCE AGAINST WOMEN
Mrs Brenda Elliott (Guelph): Today my question is for the minister responsible for women's issues. Today we've been reminded of the terrible consequences of violence against women. I'd like to draw your attention to the Agenda for Action, the framework for violence against women paper. In that, you indicated that money would be made available by our government to community groups across this province for local violence prevention efforts. I'm wondering what action we've taken in this regard, and if any of that funding has been distributed across Ontario.
Hon Dianne Cunningham (Minister of Intergovernmental Affairs, minister responsible for women's issues): As part of our work with the communities across this province, I should tell you that last week, as part of Wife Assault Prevention Month, we announced some $660 million in community grants. I think the most important part of that is that some 50 organizations and groups across the province have received this money, and the more important part is that there are 180 partnerships. Otherwise, we're saying ending violence against women is everyone's responsibility.
I'm very proud to say that our communities are working very much more closely together. Groups such as the Chapleau Cree First Nation receive grants to establish a mentoring program between aboriginal women, the Association of the Deaf for Ontario to train service providers across the province on the needs of deaf women and children who have experienced violence, and the Centre des services communautaires de Vanier to help immigrant francophone women secure employment.
The Speaker (Hon Chris Stockwell): Answer, please.
Hon Mrs Cunningham: These are just some examples of the wonderful opportunities that have been made by -
The Speaker: Supplementary.
Mrs Elliott: I've been led to believe that this framework we've promoted as a government is in fact being used as a model for other provinces across Canada. I would like to know if that is the case and, if so, what other parts of that framework are we taking action on?
Hon Mrs Cunningham: I will answer that question to say that the ministers responsible for the status of women across Canada, provinces and territories, will be meeting in February to work very hard to establish this kind of framework across the country.
I would also like to make this point: We had a question earlier with regard to shelters. Right in this document, which all of us should be so proud of in Ontario because it builds on the work of the Liberal government and on the work of the NDP government - this isn't just us alone; we have taken it further - and it says, "In addition, the government has already announced that it will assume full funding for shelter per diems through the Ministry of Community and Social Services." It's in the book. It's our responsibility to spread the good word and to make people more confident that communities across this province and this country care about violence.
The Speaker: Answer, please.
Hon Mrs Cunningham: As we expand our victim assistance programs and as we expand our domestic courts and as we expand our programs in our hospitals to get good evidence -
The Speaker: New question, official opposition.
Mr Mike Colle (Oakwood): I have a question to the Minister of Consumer and Commercial Relations: Minister, you'll be aware of the fact that provincial regulations require that elevators across this province undergo monthly maintenance inspections to make sure they're safe. Every day, hundreds of thousands of Ontarians count on the elevators that they use to be inspected and safe. Required monthly maintenance and safety inspections ensure that cables don't break and other core safety features are operating properly.
These maintenance and safety standards have been developed and are supported by the entire industry but it seems now, Mr Minister, you're planning to allow one elevator company, the biggest, that is, the Otis United Technologies, to dramatically cut back on elevator maintenance inspections to only twice-a-year inspections instead of the industry standard of monthly inspections, or 12 times per year. Why are you letting Otis off the hook?
Hon David H. Tsubouchi (Minister of Consumer and Commercial Relations): I think the member will know that very recently we embarked upon a self-management initiative called the Technical Safety Standards Authority. It's my information that what's happened since we've embarked upon self-management is that we've actually had a greater degree of enforcement of our laws. In fact, we found that almost all of them, whether it's TSSA or whether it's TICO or whether it's RECO, we found the degree of enforcement and the degree of investigations has increased.
Mr Colle: Mr Minister, the Canadian elevator contractors' association in a letter to you has warned you that, "You are going to compromise the safety of the elevator-using public." The letter goes on to say, and these are the elevator contractors, "The standards established five years ago, which are being adhered to by all but Otis and which are recognized by all but Otis as manager requirements, still need to be enforced today." Otis is getting provincial regulators' permission to cut costs and increase profits and basically not do the monthly inspections.
Hundreds of thousands of Ontarians in apartment buildings and commercial high-rise buildings require those elevators to be safe. You are putting these Ontarians at risk by letting Otis off the hook. Why won't you let Otis do what the other companies are doing, that is, inspect those elevators every month to make sure they're safe? Why are you cutting back on these safety and maintenance inspections? Lives are at risk here, Minister. Will you commit to saying you're going to let those monthly regulations continue and not let Otis get away with this?
Hon Mr Tsubouchi: I can only emphasize that one of the reasons why we went to this new format is we allowed the consumers to have a far greater role in terms of what's happening in enforcement of these areas.
The Speaker (Hon Chris Stockwell): Order. Minister.
Hon Mr Tsubouchi: As I was saying, I think the important part of this initiative, if I could just give the context of this, is we have consumers heavily involved with the TSSA to ensure that public safety is not at risk, and I will assure you that public safety will not be at risk.
Mr Tony Silipo (Dovercourt): My question is to the Minister of Municipal Affairs. Minister, as I'm sure you are painfully aware, a lot of Conservative supporters in the 905 area aren't particularly happy with you these days because you're making them share the costs of services that you're downloading on to the Toronto megacity. We've been hearing a lot of rumours that you may back down on pooling. Some of the 905 mayors are saying that you should cancel pooling and just simply give a temporary cash payment to the new megacity.
Minister, I just want to hear clearly from you today, are you planning any changes to the pooling that you announced with great fanfare back on August 6?
Hon Al Leach (Minister of Municipal Affairs and Housing): Thank you to the member of the third party. The entire GTA is one economic entity, and I think everybody in this House recognizes that. If the regions that abut the new city of Toronto benefit from that economic engine, we feel that they should also share in the social safety net. That's what this process is all about.
Many of the regions surrounding Toronto have very high education costs and very low social services costs. Without pooling, the regions around Toronto would have huge windfalls. The region of York would have had a windfall of $100 million. We think those regions should share in the safety net of social services that are provided primarily in downtown Toronto. That's what this is all about. This is a fairness and equity situation, and I think everybody wants to be part of fairness.
Mr Silipo: I think I hear the minister saying that he's not going to change his position. I would like him just to be clear about that. That's what I heard him say.
Minister, we realize that you're somewhere between a rock and a hard place and that you caused this problem for yourself and your government by simply making your decision to download so many of these costs on to the property tax base when people are saying to you, both in the 905 area and in the megacity, that they don't want to be paying through property taxes for things like housing, welfare costs and child care. They're right. We shouldn't be paying out of those. But if you are going to push those things down on to the property base, then the notion of pooling makes some sense within that context.
Again, Minister, I want to be very clear that what you're saying is that in fact you are going to continue with your position of pooling the costs of those services across the whole GTA.
Hon Mr Leach: Is the member, a Toronto member, saying that he's opposed to pooling, that he wants the residents of Toronto to pick up the additional costs? We think it's fair. We think pooling across the entire GTA is an issue of fairness. I don't think anybody would disagree with that.
When he talks about unloading costs on to the property tax, we are taking 50% of education off the property tax. We're asking the municipalities to pay what they pay now: 20%. The province picks up 80% of the social services; they pick up 20%. We're taking 50% off of education. We're asking again that the pooling issue be looked at as a matter of fairness and equity. I'm sure that the vast majority in this House would agree with that and the vast majority of people in the province would agree with that.
Mr Douglas B. Ford (Etobicoke-Humber): My question is for the Minister of Economic Development, Trade and Tourism. Earlier this week I heard the head of CUPE, Sid Ryan, on the radio referring to small and medium business owners as being pompous and self-serving. Although I wasn't entirely surprised to hear Sid Ryan suggest such nonsense, nonsense which often found its way into the previous two government policies, I would like to ask the minister to tell me what he has done to ensure that small and medium-sized companies have an opportunity to enter new markets.
Hon Al Palladini (Minister of Economic Development, Trade and Tourism): I want to thank the honourable member for Etobicoke-Humber for the question. Obviously, this government and my ministry are deeply involved in and committed to helping business succeed.
Small and medium-sized businesses are the key investors and job creators of Ontario. As a businessperson, I know that seizing opportunities in today's marketplace is not easy. Helping businesses prosper by broadening their horizons beyond our borders is one of my key priorities.
This week I had the pleasure of attending the Trade Winds Latin America Export Forum. The purpose of this forum is to bring together Ontario businesses that are interested in getting started or increasing their export base. The forum was sponsored by private sector companies and the Ontario International Trade Corp, chaired by my friend and my colleague Bill Saunderson.
Together the OITC and private sector experts can help businesses identify growth target markets, help tear down barriers -
The Speaker (Hon Chris Stockwell): Answer, please.
Hon Mr Palladini: - inform companies of better shipping methods or offer whatever expertise Ontario companies need to expand into an international -
The Speaker: Thank you. Supplementary.
Mr Ford: Small companies represent 98% of all Ontario businesses and 41% of private sector employment. Few people realize this.
Having been business owners, the minister and I know how tough it is to be competitive. The former two governments created an environment where business was unable to thrive in Ontario, much less internationally.
What is the minister going to do to repair the damage and open doors for Ontario businesses in the global market?
Hon Mr Palladini: While at the forum I was pleased to announce the establishment of the Export Marketing Task Force, to be led by the Premier, myself and Bill Saunderson and many prominent Ontario business leaders.
The export task force will work to develop a provincial export strategy over the next three months. This will form the basis for a series of initiatives which will address the challenges of developing Ontario's exports. We will launch an aggressive marketing campaign, domestic and international, to tell the world about Ontario firms, Ontario goods and services and Ontario technologies.
If we increased Ontario's share of the global export market by a half-point share, it would mean the creation of 165,000 new jobs. Trade equals jobs. It's that simple.
My thanks go out to the OITC, the private companies sponsoring the forum and especially to the 16 business people who will sit on the task force and help Ontarians to succeed not only in Ontario and Canada but on the world stage as well.
Mr James J. Bradley (St Catharines): I have a question for the Premier, who is preoccupied there. Your government has decided to embark upon a major escalation in gambling opportunities in communities across Ontario by establishing 44 new what you call charity casinos. These are not tourist casinos, these are charity casinos which are established in various communities.
They will have thousands of new video lottery terminals, or electronic slot machines, and other forms of gambling which will be available on a permanent basis, sometimes 24 hours a day, sometimes seven days a week in these communities. Most of the communities in Ontario, given the opportunity to vote on this in the recent municipal election, turned it down.
Premier, will you now assure the people of Ontario that in those communities which have by vote turned down charity casinos, you will not as a government establish charity casinos?
Hon Michael D. Harris (Premier): I think the minister can respond.
Hon David H. Tsubouchi (Minister of Consumer and Commercial Relations): We've been very clear all along that we would not force any community that did not want to have a charity gaming club to have a charity gaming club. We've also been very clear as well, whether it's plebiscites or referenda or the variety of questions that were asked during the last municipal election, that it was information for the councils. The councils have the opportunity to speak to us. We are encouraging the councils to have a full discussion within their own communities, with their charities, with their BIAs, certainly with their ratepayers, to ensure that when they do make that decision, it's clearly reflective of their communities.
Mr Bradley: What the Minister of Consumer and Commercial Relations has said, then, is that despite what Mike Harris said about consulting the people on casinos in these communities, you are now going to ignore the plebiscite or referendum held in each community and that you are now going to go over the heads of those people and ask the councils of those communities to take whatever action they deem appropriate. You have offered bribes of $1,500 per VLT to the community. You have tried to coerce them by getting the local charities to phone up and say, "If we don't take one in our community, we're not going to get any charity money."
You have put pressure on these municipal councils, and now you're going to ask these municipal councils to ignore what the people have said in a plebiscite and, regardless of what they said, impose it on a community. Will you now listen to the people in those communities who have voted and will you not impose on communities across Ontario these charity casinos, which will suck all the money out of those communities to the detriment of other businesses? Will you not allow local councils to overrule the people who have spoken by the ballot?
Hon Mr Tsubouchi: I don't propose to overrule councils. I don't propose to tell them how to find what their community wants. I've said clearly that plebiscites or the varieties of referenda that were held were really advice to the various communities, to the councils. Clearly the member doesn't understand the fact that this is intended to assist charities in their areas. Currently, through the three-day rovers, which his government introduced, which were totally unsupervised, charities provide about $10 million to the people in the charities. This will increase it about $180 million.
I remind the member that when the Bill 75 hearings were being held, he indicated that he was supportive of a venue that was permanent, supervised and monitored. If he wants to draw his attention back to Hansard on October 22, 1996, he'll find a very interesting quote.
Ms Shelley Martel (Sudbury East): I have a question for the minister of privatization. On Monday, November 24, your community forum panel on TVO was in Sudbury, and there were some very serious problems associated with that meeting.
First, the local newspaper ads announcing the event told people that if they wanted to register, they had to contact your number in Toronto to do so. But when people called, they got a voice mail message with no information about the meeting, how to register or where it was going to be located.
Second, the meeting was significantly delayed because a number of people, to their credit, decided they weren't going to answer the set questions that your panel had put out for them and instead insisted on giving their views about how important TVO is.
Third, despite repeated requests at the meeting for the report to go back to these people before it was released to you, your panel would not consent to do that. It was the TVO Matters Coalition that finally decided they would try to distribute that report to their members.
This whole process is a sham. It's designed to keep people out and to hide your agenda on privatization. How can you possibly justify this process?
Hon Rob Sampson (Minister without Portfolio [Privatization]): Indeed, there was a consultation meeting in Sudbury that was pre-arranged and run by a group of individuals we had asked to consult with Ontarians in Sudbury and other parts of Ontario as well. The process they came forward with in order to achieve the consultation was somewhat different from what other consultation processes had been, but it was designed that way to make sure the people who came forward had a chance to speak in smaller groups and smaller meetings so that their views could be heard.
Indeed, the meeting was set in Sudbury and there were a number of people who came forward and expressed their views on TVO. That's why we had the meeting: so we could hear what they felt was important about TVO, how they felt it was being used by themselves and what they would like to see going forward. That's why we set up the consultation: so we could hear those views.
Ms Martel: I don't think you understand the seriousness of the problems in Sudbury. My colleague from Nickel Belt and I were at the hotel before the meeting started, and we know, because we were told by two different people, that when people called to ask where the meeting was taking place in the hotel, they were told by the hotel that no such meeting was taking place that evening.
Secondly, one individual, Sarah Walker, was told to call your 1-888 number for more information. When she did, of course, she got no information on the voice mail. When she finally got a live body after pressing zero, she was given no information about the meeting. She called the hotel back and was told that your staff had directed the hotel not to release any information about the meeting that night. When my colleague from Nickel Belt spoke with the hotel staff that night, he was also told by the hotel staff that they had been instructed not to give the public any information about the meeting that night.
Minister, how do you justify such behaviour? How do you justify trying to keep the public out with respect to this very important issue?
Hon Mr Sampson: Again, as I said earlier, we established the meeting in Sudbury so people could give us their views. A number of people from Sudbury did come to the meeting. Through the hotel accommodation, we decided to expand the meeting accommodation so that it could handle the number of people who did show up. While there may have been some miscommunication as to which meeting room was being used in the hotel on the particular day, it's very clear that the people who showed up were given the opportunity to express their views. Those who didn't show up have in fact either written to the committee itself or to the secretariat to tell us what they see as important in TVO. As I said to you earlier, it's important that we hear these views from the people of Sudbury and other parts of Ontario so that when we make the decision on TVO, it can be based upon their input.
Mr R. Gary Stewart (Peterborough): My question is to the Solicitor General and Minister of Correctional Services, and it concerns criminals who go into the provincial jails to serve their sentences on weekends only. My constituents are concerned because of these weekend sentences, and they want the government to be tough on crime, not to be letting people roam freely all week when they should be behind bars. What is the advantage of continuing to put people in jail only on the weekends when the people of Ontario think they should be dealt with much more severely?
Hon Robert W. Runciman (Solicitor General and Minister of Correctional Services): I thank the member for Peterborough for the question, and I want to stress that intermittent or weekend sentences, as he described them, are provided for by the federal Criminal Code. This government certainly agrees with the majority of Ontarians who told us they want the justice system to better protect the public and punish the guilty and deter crime.
In response specifically to the question about intermittent sentences, I'm told through ministry officials that they cannot identify any advantage or any benefit to the system in terms of intermittent sentencing. In fact, a recent meeting of senior corrections officials from across the country called for the elimination of intermittent sentencing altogether. It continues to create problems in the system. Smuggling of contraband is one of the major problems resulting from intermittent sentences.
Mr Stewart: Minister, it seems that not only are these weekend sentences not what the public wants, but they also are not working. It seems that this weekend prisoners' program is creating more trouble than it's worth. The minister also indicates that this is a federal responsibility under the Criminal Code. In that case, what is the government of Ontario doing to have this changed?
Hon Mr Runciman: Simply put, the government believes that if someone commits a serious crime, they should do some serious time, and in many cases the serving of a sentence on weekends is truly a travesty of justice. That's why Ontario is taking this issue very seriously and is taking the position the federal government should remove intermittent sentences as an option, period.
Both myself and the Attorney General will be raising this issue tomorrow in Montreal at a conference of federal and provincial justice ministers. We're continuing to pursue this, I can assure the member and other Ontarians who are concerned about this particular issue.
Mr John Gerretsen (Kingston and The Islands): My question is for the Premier, but I don't see him here. Let me ask the question to the Minister of Municipal Affairs. There's a media report today where Roger Anderson, who is the new elected chair of Durham, reported yesterday at his inaugural meeting of the Durham regional council that he had been personally promised and guaranteed by the Premier that provincial downloading won't result in any property tax increase.
This has happened a number of times. You've said at AMO on a number of occasions that as a result of the shifting in responsibilities in the downloading, there won't be any tax increases. Minister, I'll ask you the same question I asked the Premier last week. There's an awful lot of consternation out there by municipalities and their taxpayers as to whether or not their taxes will increase. Will you give them a guarantee in writing - write them a letter, in other words - telling them that if there is a shortfall between what you're saying is going to happen and what may actually happen, if there's a shortfall in revenues, that you'll make it up to them? Will you give them that guarantee in writing?
Hon Al Leach (Minister of Municipal Affairs and Housing): I will repeat what I have said on many occasions in this House: that the transfers that were included in the Who Does What program are revenue-neutral and that no municipality in the province of Ontario should have to increase taxes as a result of that program. That is what the Premier of this province has stated. We have said that publicly at AMO meetings. I said it to the counties and wardens. It's out publicly in all of the media.
I'm sure that the new regional chair in Durham - and I congratulate him on his victory yesterday. I'm looking forward to meeting with him, where again I will be able to confirm to him face to face - I would be pleased to meet with the regional chairman face to face and reassure him that the Who Does What program will be revenue-neutral. I will be quite prepared to do that.
BUSINESS OF THE HOUSE
Hon Chris Hodgson (Deputy House Leader): I have the weekly business statement. Pursuant to standing order 55, I wish to indicate the business of the House for the week of December 8, 1997.
On Monday, December 8, in the afternoon, Bill 164, the Tax Credits to Create Jobs Act, second reading. In the evening, it'll be Bill 139, the Fish and Wildlife Conservation Act, second reading, and Bill 120, the Red Tape Reduction Act, second reading.
On Tuesday afternoon, it'll be concurrences. In the evening it'll be Bill 164, the Tax Credits to Create Jobs Act, second reading.
On Wednesday afternoon, Bill 164, Tax Credits to Create Jobs Act, second reading. In the evening, we hope to deal with the Milk Amendment Act which has been introduced today.
On Thursday, December 11, 1997, private members' public business, ballot items 3 and 4 in the morning. In the afternoon, it'll be Bill 164, the Tax Credits to Create Jobs Act, second reading. In the evening, Bill 120, Red Tape Reduction Act, second reading.
Mr Sean G. Conway (Renfrew North): I'm pleased to present a petition signed by hundreds of secondary school students in the Barry's Bay area of west Renfrew county, which petition reads in part:
"We, the undersigned students, petition the Legislative Assembly of Ontario about our strong objections to Bill 160. Our objections focus on giving government too much centralized control over education."
These students are furthermore concerned about the government plan to reduce up to $1 billion of public funding from public education. I'm pleased to present and support this petition on their behalf.
OCCUPATIONAL HEALTH AND SAFETY
Mr David Christopherson (Hamilton Centre): I have a petition forwarded to me by CUPE, CAW and the United Steelworkers of America. The petition reads:
"Whereas approximately 300 workers are killed on the job each year and 400,000 suffer work-related injuries and illnesses; and
"Whereas the government of Ontario continues to allow a massive erosion of WCB prevention funding; and
"Whereas Ontario workers are fearful that the government of Ontario, through its recent initiatives, is threatening to dismantle workers' clinics and the Workers' Health and Safety Centre; and
"Whereas the workers' clinics and the Workers' Health and Safety Centre have consistently provided a meaningful role for labour within the health and safety prevention system; and
"Whereas the workers' clinics and the Workers' Health and Safety Centre have proven to be the most cost-effective prevention organizations funded by the WCB;
"Therefore we, the undersigned, petition the Legislative Assembly of Ontario to immediately cease the assault on the workers' clinics and the Workers' Health and Safety Centre; and
"Further we, the undersigned, call upon the Legislative Assembly of Ontario to ensure that the workers' clinics and the Workers' Health and Safety Centre remain labour-driven organizations with full and equitable WCB funding and that the WCB provide adequate prevention funding to eliminate workplace illness and injury."
On behalf of my NDP colleagues, I proudly add my name to theirs.
Mr John O'Toole (Durham East): I'm pleased to present a petition, although it's not in the proper format. It's addressed as a letter and it's from a couple of hundred students from St Stephen's Secondary School in Bowmanville.
"The students signed hereafter of St Stephen's Secondary School in Bowmanville fully support all our teachers. We feel that the changes to the education system proposed in Bill 160 deny teachers their right and in the long run the bill will not benefit students. Revisions to Bill 160 are absolutely necessary before it becomes law in order to ensure quality education for all students."
I'm pleased to support, in my view, the students' concern for education and present this petition to the House today.
Mr Peter North (Elgin): I have a petition to the Legislative Assembly of Ontario.
"Whereas the Ontario health system is overburdened and unnecessary spending must be cut; and
"Whereas pregnancy is not a disease, injury or illness and abortions are not therapeutic procedures; and
"Whereas the vast majority of abortions are done for reasons of convenience or finance; and
"Whereas the province has exclusive authority to determine what service will be insured; and
"Whereas the Canada Health Act does not require funding for elective procedures; and
"Whereas there is mounting evidence that abortion is in fact hazardous to women's health; and
"Whereas Ontario taxpayers funded over 45,000 abortions in 1993 at an estimated cost of $25 million;
"Therefore we, the undersigned, petition the Legislature of Ontario to cease from providing any taxpayers' dollars for the performance of abortions."
Mr Rick Bartolucci (Sudbury): This petition is to the Legislative Assembly of Ontario. It reads:
"Whereas the partners in education continue to be fearful of Bill 160;
"Whereas we believe Mike Harris is not acting in the best interests of the students of Ontario;
"Whereas Mike Harris has forged a partnership with the former NDP education minister, Dave Cooke, to form the EIC;
"Whereas because of this alliance in philosophies between Mike Harris and Dave Cooke we, the partners in education, define EIC to be `education in crisis';
"Whereas we believe that Mike Harris plus Dave Cooke equals bad education;
"Therefore, be it resolved that we petition the Legislative Assembly of Ontario to do the following in order to save public education:
"(1) Rescind Bill 160;
"(2) Dissolve the partnership between Mike Harris and the former NDP Minister of Education, Dave Cooke;
"(3) Disband the EIC, defined by Mike Harris and Dave Cooke to mean `Education Improvement Commission,' when in reality it means `education in crisis'; and
"(4) Reinvest in education, which is the future of Ontario."
I happily present this on behalf of the residents of Sudbury and Sudbury East.
FIRE IN HAMILTON
Mr David Christopherson (Hamilton Centre): I have a petition to the Honourable Minister of the Environment and Energy, Norm Sterling, and the Premier of Ontario:
"Whereas a fire at a PVC plastic vinyl plant located in the middle of one of Hamilton's residential areas burned for three days; and
"Whereas the city of Hamilton declared a state of emergency and called for a limited voluntary evacuation of several blocks around the site; and
"Whereas the burning of PVC results in the formation and release of toxic substances such as dioxins, as well as large quantities of heavy metals and other dangerous chemicals;
"Therefore, we, the undersigned, petition the Legislative Assembly of Ontario to hold a full public inquiry on the Hamilton Plastimet fire."
I continue to support these citizens in their call for a public inquiry, and add my name to theirs.
CERTIFIED GENERAL ACCOUNTANTS
Mrs Lillian Ross (Hamilton West): I have a petition signed by over 500 people and I'd like to read it in part since it's quite lengthy:
"Whereas it is in the best interests of the public to have open market competition among professional accountants; and
"Whereas, under the Public Accountancy Act, only chartered accountants have full access to public accounting licences in the province of Ontario; and
"Whereas the province of Ontario restricts certified general accountants more than any other province, with the exception of Prince Edward Island; and
"Whereas this has created a monopoly in the province of Ontario since 1962 that is not only unfair to the public but also results in additional expenses, particularly to small business owners;
"We, the undersigned residents of the province of Ontario, petition the Legislative Assembly of Ontario to grant the Certified General Accountants Association of Ontario their request for overdue amendments to the Public Accountancy Act to allow certified general accountants full access to public practice licences and to eliminate the present monopoly."
I have signed my name to this petition.
RÉFORME DU SYSTÈME D'ÉDUCATION
M. Jean-Marc Lalonde (Prescott et Russell) : J'ai ici une pétition qui contient plus de 2000 noms.
«À l'Assemblée législative de l'Ontario :
«Attendu que nous, les signataires de cette pétition, voulons signifier au gouvernement notre opposition au projet de loi 160 ;
«Attendu que le projet de loi 160 exclut les parents et les enseignants du processus de décision dans le secteur de l'éducation en Ontario ;
«Attendu que le projet de loi 160 centralise tous les pouvoirs entre les mains du gouvernement ;
«Attendu que le projet de loi 160 accorde au gouvernement Harris le pouvoir de retrancher 660 $ millions de plus du secteur de l'éducation ;
«Nous, les soussignataires, demandons le retrait du projet de loi 160.»
J'y ajoute ma signature. Merci.
Mr David Christopherson (Hamilton Centre): I continue to receive petitions against Bill 160 and I intend to continue presenting them to the House because this issue is not over.
"We, the undersigned citizens of Ontario, ask you, Mr Dave Johnson, Minister of Education, to withdraw Bill 160 on the grounds that it is flawed legislation that will (a) allow uncertified teachers to teach in the classroom; (b) cause a loss to kids of thousands of teachers and increase class sizes; (c) reduce teacher preparation time, which translates into less teachers and less time for students; and (d) allow the provincial government to set the education tax rate without provision for debate in the Legislature or at the local school board level."
I continue to support these petitioners.
Mr Steve Gilchrist (Scarborough East): I'm pleased to introduce what is only the second petition I've ever received. On behalf of the Guildwood advisory council, another parent council doing excellent work on behalf of the kids in the Guildwood school, it's a petition addressed to the Legislative Assembly. Pursuant to rule 36(b), I'll paraphrase and say that it deals with the importance of children receiving the right to the best-quality education, the importance of maintaining an education system which addresses local needs, the importance of having an education system that's dependent on the active involvement of parents, educators and the general public, and they call upon the Legislative Assembly to ensure that administrative savings are applied appropriately back to the school system.
I'm pleased to introduce this petition and have it form part of the record of the Legislative Assembly.
Mr Alex Cullen (Ottawa West): I've submitted so far in the few months I've been here some hundreds of petitions with respect to education. This is another one.
"To the Legislative Assembly of Ontario:
"Whereas education is our future; and
"Whereas students and teachers will not allow their futures to be sacrificed for tax cuts; and
"Whereas students, parents and teachers will not allow the government to bankrupt Ontario's education system; and
"Whereas you cannot improve achievement by lowering standards; and
"Whereas students, parents and teachers want reinvestment in education rather than a reduction in funding; and
"Whereas students, parents and teachers won't back down;
"Therefore, be it resolved that we, the undersigned, petition the Legislative Assembly to withdraw Bill 160 immediately; and
"Therefore, be it resolved that the Legislative Assembly of Ontario instruct the Minister of Education and Training to do his homework and be a cooperative learner rather than imposing his solution which won't work for the students, parents and teachers of Ontario."
I affix my signature to this petition.
Mr Peter Kormos (Welland-Thorold): I have a petition signed by hundreds and hundreds of people.
"Whereas the government of Ontario has not listened to the public on Bill 160; and
"Whereas the government of Ontario has chosen to overtly deceive the people of Ontario as to the true objectives of Bill 160; and
"Whereas we, the people, believe that no government has a mandate to act in isolation of the wishes of the electorate of this province and we have lost confidence in this government,
"We, the undersigned electors of Ontario, petition the Lieutenant Governor to dissolve the Legislature and call a general election forthwith."
I endorse this. I give it to page Rob Brown from St Pat's school in Perth county to deliver it to the Clerk.
CERTIFIED GENERAL ACCOUNTANTS
Mr Carl DeFaria (Mississauga East): I have a petition signed by approximately 2,000 people which reads as follows:
"Whereas, under the Public Accountancy Act, only chartered accountants have full access to public accounting licences in the province of Ontario; and
"Whereas certified general accountants have a statutory right to practise public accounting in the provinces of Alberta, British Columbia, New Brunswick and Newfoundland, are free to practise in the provinces of Saskatchewan and Manitoba, can be licensed to practise in Nova Scotia and have considerable public accountancy rights in the province of Quebec; and
"We, the undersigned residents of the province of Ontario, petition the Legislative Assembly of Ontario to grant the Certified General Accountants Association of Ontario their request for overdue amendments to the Public Accountancy Act to allow certified general accountants full access to public practice licences and to eliminate the present monopoly."
Mr John Gerretsen (Kingston and The Islands): I have a petition here which is addressed to the government of Ontario.
"Whereas the government of Ontario has determined to pass Bill 160 without meaningful consultation with parents, teachers and other stakeholders; and
"Whereas a properly funded quality education system is critical to the developing of the children of this province and to the future of the province itself;
"We, the undersigned, petition the Legislative Assembly as follows:
"That the Legislative Assembly hold a province-wide referendum on the question of whether Bill 160, the Education Quality Improvement Act, 1997, should be withdrawn or, if enacted, whether Bill 160 should be repealed."
It has been signed by about 400 or 500 Kingstonians, and I have affixed my signature to it as well.
Mr Peter Kormos (Welland-Thorold): "We, the undersigned students, are appealing to the provincial government of Ontario.
"We are signing this petition in protest of the current cuts to the education system. We are concerned that the educational reforms that are being made, the money that's being stolen from the system by Mike Harris and his gang at Queen's Park and Bill 160 are a betrayal of public education here in the province of Ontario.
"In signing this petition we hope that the government will realize that so-called reforms that are being made will only destroy public education in the province of Ontario and the growth and maturation of students in this province who deserve far better."
This petition is put forward by the students of Westminster Secondary School in London, Ontario. In signing this petition, the students of Westminster Secondary School understand that the issue they are addressing is one of ultimate importance not only to themselves but to their children and grandchildren after them.
I sign that in endorsement, as does Marion Boyd, MPP, from London.
Mr Bob Wood (London South): I have a petition signed by 49 people.
"Whereas the courts have ruled that women have the lawful right to go topless in public; and
"Whereas the Liberal government of Canada has the power to change the Criminal Code to reinstate such public nudity as an offence;
"We, the undersigned, respectfully petition the government of Ontario to pass a bill empowering municipalities to enact bylaws governing dress code and to continue to urge the government of Canada to pass legislation to reinstate such partial nudity as an offence."
ORDERS OF THE DAY
DEVELOPMENT CHARGES ACT, 1997 / LOI DE 1997 SUR LES REDEVANCES D'AMÉNAGEMENT
Resuming the adjourned debate on the motion for third reading of Bill 98, An Act to promote job creation and increased municipal accountability while providing for the recovery of development costs related to new growth / Projet de loi 98, Loi visant à promouvoir la création d'emplois et à accroître la responsabilité des municipalités tout en prévoyant le recouvrement des coûts d'aménagement liés à la croissance.
Mr John O'Toole (Durham East): It is my privilege to pick up where we left off the other night on the discussion of Bill 98. Bill 98 was introduced back in November 1996. Here it is November 1997 and the bill, An Act to promote job creation and increased municipal accountability while providing for the recovery of development costs related to new growth, is in third reading. Clearly the members here today have heard many of the sensitive issues with respect to this. If you think that now it's December and it's over a year, then we have to get on with doing the business.
The long-standing understanding with the development charge since it came in around 1990-91 is that growth should pay for growth. Indeed, our minister has consulted very broadly with all groups, whether it's the building trades groups or the municipalities, and in fact the new home sales people as well have been involved. Ultimately there's only one customer. The person who buys the house pays for these costs.
For those interested, I will review some of the highlights of the legislation. Under the revised Development Charges Act, new neighbourhoods will still contain all the services and features that new home buyers have grown to expect. Development charges will still help to fund roads, water, sewer and other facilities including libraries. Development charges will no longer fund facilities such as museums, art centres or new city halls.
The residents of the entire community can decide over time whether they can afford these facilities when and where they want them. A contribution from municipalities towards the cost of those facilities is believed to be the best way of being accountable to the taxpayer. Community growth must be financed in a way that is fair to all citizens, both existing citizens and citizens who are new to the community.
The new development charge clearly is more balanced. It also gives municipalities the assurance that key services and infrastructure needed for growth will still be funded through development charges rather than through increased taxes from existing residents, many of whom, I might add, are seniors.
We've consulted exclusively and extensively on revisions and amendments to the act. We have spoken with municipalities, home builders and the development industry. Development needs to be encouraged. It creates jobs and economic vitality in municipalities. In fact, it's one of the largest job creators in our economy. And after all, it's good for Ontario. It just makes good sense.
Our government is doing what it can to make housing more affordable to new home buyers. The new development charge process is streamlined and removes much of the red tape and reduces costs for the municipality, the development industry and indeed the new home buyer. We are encouraged in an ongoing discussion with members of the municipal sector and the development industry in the development of this legislation.
I've also been in touch with the municipal leaders in the region of Durham, where I have been on municipal council. In fact I was on council when the existing development charges bylaw was brought forward by the Liberal government of the day. After much of the consultation - I'm just going to read from some of the endorsements here from, for instance, the GTA mayors and regional chairs as well as the Urban Development Institute.
"To come this far and have things fail was unacceptable." They were committed to working harder to solve many of the top issues. Their concluding remark, if I could quote Mayor Hazel McCallion, Mayor Ann Mulvale and Mayor Don Cousens as well as others - I'm sure most of the GTA mayors were involved - "We feel very good about this. We wish to move on now to other issues facing the GTA." Clearly they want us to pass and get on with this legislation.
I could also report here that there was one specific area where the municipality was going to have to pay for the soft charges or soft costs that are referred to, and there were discussions which moved to a model where a shared formula was arranged. This is a comment made by Mayor Hazel McCallion. "The new rates of reduction will be set at 10%. This," according to Mayor McCallion, "will allow for a more planned approach to the staging of the community facilities."
Once again, when you're looking at building an arena, should the new home buyer be the only contributor to building the new arena? Is the level of service being enhanced by the development charges? Those issues have been a central part of the discussion, and I believe the minister has listened and very clearly thinks we have a balanced, conclusive piece of legislation that will indeed serve all Ontario.
I'll quote directly from the Minister of Municipal Affairs, Al Leach, the owner of this legislation: "The new Development Charges Act will restore balance to the system. It addresses the concerns of the development industry and gives assurance to municipalities that key services and infrastructure will still be funded through development charges. It would make new homes more affordable, create growth in jobs and promote industrial expansion."
There are a number of interesting details within the bill that, for me, as a person somewhat familiar with municipal issues, I know to be completely of interest to the average taxpayer really.
You might find out, how does this whole process get started? Once this legislation is started in January 1998, each municipality will have to go through a process, and it's in the legislation. That particular regulatory section is set out in section 10, the process for passing municipal bylaws:
"(1) Before passing a development charge bylaw, the council shall complete a development charge background study," of course defining very clearly what their capital cost needs are over a period of time, five to 10 years. Then they will do the following:
"(2) The development charge background study shall include" the estimates, the calculations for service and the examination of capital and other costs, and those studies will be brought forward.
It says here - this is section 12 now:
"(1) Before passing a development charge bylaw, the council shall,
"(a) hold at least one public meeting;
"(b) give at least 20 days' notice of the meeting" in a manner that's usually used for passing bylaws.
"(2) Any person who attends a meeting under this section may make representations relating to the proposed bylaw."
So clearly the public input is there at the municipal level to review the level of service and to understand that, so there's no change particularly in the process, except it's very clear that if it had been omitted from this legislation, it would have been a problem.
I bring to mind as well that there is an appeal process, as always, and this again is defined in this new Bill 98. When a bylaw that's passed is under challenge by some groups, there are up to 40 days to appeal the bylaw, and again that's appropriate, for public input. That's the way this government continues to pass most of the legislation, listening very closely to the public and bringing forward amendments that address the areas that need to be changed.
My last concluding remark, if I may: Municipalities will be required to reduce the amount they recover from development charges by 10%. That 10% is dealing with soft services such as libraries and parkland for development. That's been a controversial section of the bill.
The next thing is that there's supposed to be a 10-year rolling average of the level of service that's being provided in calculating this development charge formula. That is to say, this isn't a chance to ramp up the level of service and then have it all borne by the new home purchaser. I think that's a fair and reasonable thing to expect, that new home buyers not have to shoulder the cost of increased levels of service.
As I'm nearing the end of my time here, I understand that members from the other party will make comments on this important legislation, Bill 98. I would draw to the members' attention that the bill has had wide discussion for well over a year.
Certainly as a municipal person, Mr Gerretsen from Kingston and The Islands would know where we started in 1990. I can tell you, in summary, that in Durham region the new home buyer is paying, on a single detached home, $7,308 regional, $5,131 local and $629 for the municipal utility, for a development charge of $13,068. That's the cost in Durham on a new home. It ranges across the province in the order of $10,000 to $20,000. Who is paying for it? It's the new home buyer. In fact, if you put it on the mortgage and put that mortgage over 25, 30 or 40 years, you're going to say that this $10,000 or $20,000 ended up costing that new home buyer an inordinate amount of money, perhaps hundreds of thousands of dollars.
The Deputy Speaker (Ms Marilyn Churley): Thank you. The member's time has expired. Questions and comments?
Mr John Gerretsen (Kingston and The Islands): What the member forgets to talk about is that either the developer pays for it, and indirectly the new homeowner, or the taxpayer at large pays for it. It's got to be one or the other. These aren't things that simply don't exist.
What's very interesting about this whole Development Charges Act controversy is this: The province, earlier this week, just downloaded a whole bunch of responsibilities upon local governments, basically saying to local governments, "You're going to be responsible for more welfare costs, more public health costs, ambulance costs, transit costs, social housing costs and a whole variety of areas."
One of the things the minister has been saying is, "We have left more taxing room for the municipalities." One of the ways in which municipalities tax is in effect a tax on new development. When a new development starts, there are charges to that development. Why shouldn't the new homeowner pay for that? Why shouldn't the developer pay for that? Why should taxpayers as a whole be paying for that?
What they have really done is they are telling municipalities, "You cannot charge for certain things." Whereas on the one hand they seem to be giving municipalities much more responsibility and many more services that they're going to have to look after, on the other hand they are lessening their ability to tax and to charge for reasonable development charges. In other words, the municipalities are getting squeezed.
The other thing I very quickly wanted to say is that I think it's very interesting that those areas that have the highest development charges also happen to be the fastest-growing areas. So I don't think there's any correlation between the amount of development that takes place in a particular area and the development charges that are actually being charged by that municipality.
Mr Tony Silipo (Dovercourt): You could take a short drive just north of Metro, east of Metro or west of Metro and you would see example after example of what has happened as a result of the growth in those areas, the burgeoning growth that has taken place over the last 10 or 15 years, and the fact that many services have quite frankly not been properly planned and have not kept up with that growth, whether it's in terms of schools that are overcrowded, lots of portables right next to really new schools, or whether we're talking about lots of other services that simply are not there to the level they need to be.
One of the answers that's been developed over the last number of years is the use of development charges as a way to help meet some of those costs. What this government is trying to do through this bill, even though they've tempered and lowered the impact that will result, is to try and shift that cost back down to the property tax base. It's going to mean that it's going to cause, I suppose, a slowdown in development. Maybe the Tories think that's a good thing. I haven't heard many people out there say that what they want to do is to slow down the growth of the areas. What I've been hearing and what people have been saying to us is that they want the growth to continue but they want it to be well planned. They want it to be in a way that ensures that the various services such as libraries, schools, community centres and other services that are needed are there and are going to be properly paid for.
One of the big questions that I think we will not know the answer to is, as the government shifts, in this bill, the responsibility more and more away from development charges to pick up those costs and pushes that down on to the property tax base, what will the impact be not only on the growth but on those services? Municipalities can't afford, through the property tax base, to continue to pick up even this as an additional cost to all of the other costs that the government is forcing down upon them.
Mr Dan Newman (Scarborough Centre): I'm pleased to comment on the excellent speech on the part of the member for Durham East. I know he started his comments last Thursday and he finished them today. I was able to listen on both days to that excellent presentation he made.
It was a very convincing speech, I might add, especially today when he spoke about the regional development charges in Durham being $7,308, the local being $5,131, and the other cost, which would total $13,068. I know he would also want to add the education development charge, which was over $1,500, so that's also added on. He spoke of the cost there would be to people who buy these new homes. For the average working family who amortizes that mortgage over 25 years it would be an enormous cost, and a barrier, I might add, to some people choosing to buy that new home. Those new homes are producing jobs right across Ontario.
There are many quotes where people are very much in favour of the Development Charges Act. I quote John Barber in the Globe and Mail of November 29, 1996:
"Nowhere else in North America are potential citizens made to pay such a stiff head tax. And what do they get for their money? That is a good question. If all those costs are legitimate, then how can the money never get spent?
"Mississauga, to cite the most notorious case, maintains a reserve of $450 million raised entirely from lot levies. Officials there will tell you the money is all earmarked for vitally important projects. But the vitally important projects never seem to get built. What we now seem to have is an almost scam, custom-designed to keep moderate-income people out of the new suburbs."
I think that's absolutely deplorable, and I commend the member for Durham East for his fine presentation today.
Mr James J. Bradley (St Catharines): I'm surprised that the member for Scarborough Centre would have launched into a full frontal attack on Hazel McCallion, the mayor of Mississauga, who I've always noted to be a very moderate individual with a very open mind to matters of this kind. He has criticized her, obviously, by suggesting that the development charges they have in Mississauga are somehow being directed to the wrong places. I'll make sure she gets a copy of this Hansard so she can respond appropriately.
I want to indicate one of the problems with what the government is proposing. There is no guarantee that if a development charge is removed or if it's not as high, the cost of the house will be lower. It could well go into the developer's pocket. There's no guarantee of that. That is the one compelling argument the government makes.
Let me tell you why municipalities are really concerned about this bill. They're concerned because they recognize that this government is dumping on the municipalities new heavy financial responsibilities for areas over which they had no jurisdiction in the past. They're going to be stuck with ambulance services; they're going to be stuck entirely with public health; they have long-term-care obligations; they have some obligations now coming in terms of social services; they have certainly many additional concerns that are being brought forward about social housing now being dumped on local municipalities.
If you wonder why those local municipalities are so worried about Bill 98, which gives a break to the development community by restricting development charges that can be imposed across the province, it's because they're very fearful of the downloading and the ultimate consequences two and three and four years down the line, after the slush fund that will look after next year is all exhausted.
The Deputy Speaker: The member for Durham East.
Mr O'Toole: I'd like to thank the members for Kingston and The Islands and Dovercourt, of course my good friend Mr Newman from Scarborough Centre and the member for St Catharines, Mr Bradley, for their comments in response to the discussion on Bill 98.
One particular point I would like to leave in people's minds is the fairness. Clearly growth should pay for growth. What level of service is an important issue that should be decided locally. I think we all agree with that. Local government: All government is local; I've heard that expression.
There are exemptions. It's very important to understand that this government is working with small business. When I refer to section 4 - I'd like members to listen to this very important exemption: Industrial expansion of up to 50% of gross floor space will be exempt from the development charge. That's an important recognition that small business creates jobs. I would put to you, if the service capacity is there, if the pipe is there and the building is being expanded, what real cost to the municipality is there?
If you want to look at governments - Mr Gerretsen made a few comments on whether the charge was big enough. We're for less tax, not more tax; less tax, more jobs. That's what this government's entire plan is about. You've got to listen to the small taxpayer; he or she is the person paying the bill.
That exemption, along with another, clearly recognizes opportunities for the municipality to look at the level of service over 10 years. We don't want to go into creating a whole higher level of service. The taxpayer has had it up to here. They're against the wall. Development charges clearly recognize fair and reasonable cost for service; growth should pay for growth. I applaud our Minister of Municipal Affairs, Al Leach. He's done a wonderful job.
The Deputy Speaker: Further debate?
Mr Alex Cullen (Ottawa West): It's with great pleasure that I rise today to participate in the debate regarding the government's new Development Charges Act. This is an important piece of legislation that would help shape urban growth and the form of our communities. It also involves huge amounts of public tax dollars to fund the costs of land development. In this context, it is a bill that has provoked a great deal of criticism from municipalities who, after all, will be forced to live with the consequences of this bill.
As members of this House know, I have had some experience in this matter as a former member of the regional council of Ottawa-Carleton and as a member of its planning and environment committee for the past five years. As a matter of fact, I was able to make a presentation to the standing committee on resources development when it was holding its hearings with respect to this piece of legislation.
Bill 98 deals with an important tool, development charges, that affects not only housing costs and municipal services, but as well the taxes needed to support them and clearly land use. Therefore, I thought it would be useful, before reviewing the proposed legislation on how this legislation affects land use, to recall the principles regarding land use that this government, the Harris government, has enunciated.
On May 22, 1996, the government, through the Lieutenant Governor in Council, issued under the authority of the Planning Act a provincial policy statement governing land use planning. Specifically, under section 2 of that statement, entitled "Principles," the government stated: "Ontario's long-term economic prosperity, environmental health and social well-being depend on:
"(1) managing change and promoting efficient, cost-effective development and land use patterns which stimulate economic growth and protect the environment and public health."
Further on in the policy statement, under "Policies," the government stated: "It is a policy of the province of Ontario that," under 1.1.1, "cost-effective development patterns will be promoted."
Under 1.1.2: "Land requirements and land use patterns will be based on...
"(b) densities which: (1) efficiently use land, resources, infrastructure and public service facilities; (2) avoid the need for unnecessary and/or uneconomical expansion of infrastructure; (3) support the use of public transit in areas where it exists or is to be developed."
Under (d) in the same subsection: "Development standards which are cost-effective and which will minimize land use consumption and reduce servicing costs; and
"(e) providing opportunities for redevelopment, intensification and revitalization in areas that have sufficient existing or planned infrastructure."
It is a short step in logic and economic theory - and, I should mention in parentheses that my professional background is as an economist - to the position that the Legislature ought to adopt that land development charges should be fully cost-recoverable for the services being provided to new residential communities. These services, as we all know, include roads, transit, water, sewer, sidewalks, lighting, police, fire protection, schools, parks, hospitals, community centres, libraries and recreational facilities. These are what we consider today to be the basic building blocks of any healthy community. They're there as part of the community; how shall they be paid for?
If we are indeed to have efficient, cost-effective land use, as stated by the government's own land use policies, then we cannot allow public subsidies to cloud or undermine efficiency. With full infrastructure pricing, the market will be able to match consumer demand with housing supply, including the community services associated with that housing, because, as had been mentioned earlier, you cannot buy a house strictly in isolation at a price that will clear the market. It is through both competition and price that innovation will occur. While the housing industry may seek public subsidies to lower costs and therefore sell more products, one has to ask, products of what? It is not simply housing; it's housing within a healthy community that provides all those important services and features.
We, and by that I mean the taxpayers of Ontario, cannot afford more urban sprawl. Municipalities have already lost significant provincial subsidies that previously helped reduce the cost of development. In 1992, when the regional municipality of Ottawa-Carleton's development charge bylaw was first passed, the region at that time received some $76.5 million in provincial subsidies for programs not related to health, social services or child care. In other words, the $76.5 million was moneys that were received from the province that were spent on transportation, public transit, water and sewers. By 1997 that amount had been reduced to $44.3 million, basically the municipal support program and public transit operating subsidy, and by 1988 this amount will be reduced to zero dollars as a result of the government's infamous Bill 152 on provincial downloading.
The loss of $76.5 million in funding for hard services, maintenance and growth has to be made up from somewhere, and according to this government, it will be made up from property taxes. These are moneys that would have been paying for new growth, urban growth, and the government is going to be saying it should come from property taxes. This is wrong.
It is worth noting that the Crombie Who Does What commission, which recommended to the government that the public transit subsidy to municipalities be eliminated, stated that the subsidy was distorting municipal planning decisions, leading to low-density, transit-inefficient development. Apparently the government has accepted this argument. How can it now say to municipalities that municipalities must now subsidize land use costs for developers? If it is to be consistent with both its land use policy statement and the recommendations it has received from the Who Does What commission, it must support the ability of municipalities to set full-cost recovery development charges.
The government likes to pretend that Bill 98 will increase municipal accountability. If this is to be so, then why is the government legislating a municipal subsidy of local property tax dollars to reduce land developer costs? The government's own Common Sense Revolution, of which I have a copy not yet autographed, speaks of cutting subsidies to business by some $200 million. Why then -
Mr Ron Johnson (Brantford): It makes a good read. You haven't read it.
Mr Cullen: I have read this document many times. This is what confounds me with respect to Bill 98, that the government insists the municipalities must now subsidize business after taking out some $200 million. It is our community property tax dollars. If the government is so intent on ensuring there is municipal accountability, then leave it to the municipal taxpayers. If our taxpayers want to subsidize business like land developers for whatever reason, then the decision should belong to their locally elected representatives, who are accountable to them for their tax dollars. Forcing a municipality to contribute to the costs of new development by provincial legislation reduces accountability; it does not improve it.
The government should also recognize that municipalities should have the ability to set differential development charges by area municipality to reflect differences in the costs of providing community services to the new developments. To require, as someone suggested, a one-size-fits-all approach in setting development charges across the municipality ignores the reality of providing service to that area, masks the true cost of land use, provides cross-subsidization from less costly, more efficient land use to more costly, less efficient areas and creates a disincentive to make better use of our existing infrastructure and revitalize existing neighbourhoods, contrary to the very principles enunciated by the government's own land use policy which I just outlined earlier.
Let me give you an example. The regional municipality of Ottawa-Carleton recently completed a review of its official plan, and as part of its review, developed a regional development strategy to govern the direction of growth for the region for the next 25 years. We anticipate in Ottawa-Carleton growing from a population of some 678,000 in 1991 to just over a million in the year 2021, requiring some 137,000 new dwelling units by that year. The new regional official plan designates the major urban area within the national capital greenbelt where there is existing infrastructure, which has about 476,000 people and five urban areas outside the greenbelt, which now have a population of 200,000. To accommodate this growth will require new infrastructure.
The regional government of Ottawa-Carleton has sought the most efficient land use path possible, recognizing both consumer demand and infrastructure constraints, mixing both residential intensification and new development to reduce the predicted capital cost of growth from its previous official plan from over $500 million a year to about $120 million a year. This works out to about a $2-billion reduction in those costs over the lifetime of the plan, significant savings for the local taxpayer.
Even to achieve this, according to regional government staff analysis - based, by the way, on pre-mega-week announcements - mill rate increases will still be required for most of the period to finance roads and public transit, particularly in the new urban growth areas. As well, water rate and sewer charge increases would be needed.
However, within the region, costs per additional dwelling units do vary by area within Ottawa-Carleton for water, waste water, road and public transit costs. These costs range from about $7,500 per door inside the greenbelt, which is already developed, which takes advantage of existing infrastructure, going out to about $13,500 all the way out to $18,500 in the suburban growth areas. The question is, who's going to pay for these new infrastructure costs?
This clearly shows that dwelling costs are lower inside the greenbelt where infrastructure already exists and higher outside the greenbelt where new infrastructure would have to be created. It should therefore also be noted that if 40,000 more units were shifted from inside the greenbelt to the urban areas outside the greenbelt, it would cost us - I mean us as regional government taxpayers - some $400 million more in capital costs, therefore underlining the whole argument for more efficient use for infrastructure and therefore those kinds of incentives to reduce urban sprawl.
By allowing development charges to vary by area, reflecting the true cost of development, more efficient land use would be encouraged, existing infrastructure would be better used and existing neighbourhoods revitalized, meeting those very principles that were outlined in the government's land use policy statement. Bill 98, therefore, should permit municipalities to set such differential development charges, assuming the cost differences can be properly documented to recover those costs.
Documentation is an important point. As apparently few government side members know, the setting of development charges is by bylaw, requires a public process, requires documentation and is appealable to the Ontario Municipal Board. Therefore, unlike what some government members have said - and I was there at the standing committee on resources development, hearing the government side members saying that development charges were simply a licence for municipalities to charge exorbitant land costs. That is simply not so. It has to be verifiable. It is open to third-party scrutiny and is appealable to the Ontario Municipal Board, which of course our well-heeled friends from the development community do when they have cause to do so.
Municipalities simply cannot set whatever development charges they feel like. If it is the government's wish indeed to stimulate the housing industry, then it has its own tax dollars to do that. However, existing property taxes should not be forced to subsidize the costs of new development. Forcing a subsidy not only contradicts the notion of accountability, but it masks land use costs, leading to less than rational or efficient land use decisions. Further, efficient land use should be promoted through differential development charges. Unfortunately, Bill 98 does not achieve this. Instead, it forces property tax dollars to subsidize the profit of the land development industry, in astounding contradiction to the goals enunciated by the Harris Common Sense Revolution, but a fact none the less.
I had initially put these remarks together in light of the pre-mega-week announcements that came down in January and have been modified slightly in May and in August. We're waiting to hear the latest plan D by now with respect to Bill 152. The fact remains that the costs of land development are now being further passed on to the local taxpayer as a result of the additional cost for public transit, social housing, welfare and the like, and yet this bill will force some of these costs to be subsidized through the taxpayer instead of being charged directly to the land developer and the people who wish to buy those new homes out in that community.
If indeed we want to have more efficient land use, then price has to be a factor. If we subsidize the costs of these lands, therefore we are subsidizing inefficient land use. It behooves the members opposite to read again the Crombie commission Who Does What report that dealt with the very issue with respect to public transit.
It is unfortunate that this government seeks to say it is stimulating housing and stimulating jobs through a public subsidy that it is not paying for, that it is requiring the local property taxpayer to pay for from local property taxes.
People set property taxes for development within their own community. They do not see the point, when they live in the inner core, when they've paid for all those pipes, they've paid for that water, they're paying for the community centre, for the arena, for the libraries that all make up the quality of life they're paying for through their property taxes, why they should pay again for new development miles away, for someone else to come and piggyback on the quality of life they have already paid for. Indeed, it should be their responsibility, they say to me as I go knocking on doors in my own community, if someone wants to buy out in that new community in the outer suburbs, to pay for the costs of their community, whether it be the hard services or the soft services, as they themselves paid for 20 or 30 years before. That's the argument they put forward and that is what the municipalities have been putting forward in their submissions with respect to Bill 98.
It is completely unfortunate that the government misconstrues and says, "Oh, my Lord, the costs of development should not be borne by the hapless homeowner, those new families, those young families trying to buy new homes." If the government is consistent with its own land use policies that it proclaimed less than a year ago, then it should be searching to put into place the incentives to ensure that existing infrastructure is better utilized. In that way, we can inhibit urban sprawl. That way we make better use of our resources and better use of our environment.
The only way to do that is to ensure that development charges properly reflect the cost of development. Where we have existing infrastructure, development charges will be much less. Where we have brand-new infrastructure, it costs money to send out pipe, to send out water, to provide for the roads, to extend public transit. If you have a low density - because if you subsidize land development costs, you will have less intensive development and therefore less efficient development - that must cover the costs of public transit and all the other hard and soft services. Bear in mind that you just cannot have a community without schools, without libraries, without community centres, without all those things that contribute towards a healthy community.
Ergo, if we are going to have those kinds of healthy communities, someone must pay for the cost. Yet this government - and I am amazed - this Harris government is insisting that property tax dollars subsidize the costs of those developments. Bear in mind it's a seller-sell, buyer-buy market, and assuredly there will be provisions made to ensure that the costs of the developer are covered. If he's going to build to a market that is willing to pay $150,000, $200,000, $250,000, he'll build to it. If you are going to ensure there is a subsidy dealing with the cost of his land, because there has to be the linking up not only with the hard services, pipe, roads and the like, he will take advantage of the fact, selling that property that is in a wonderful community, that has easy access to shopping, easy access to schools, easy access to community centres. Who pays for those public services, for the community centres, for the policing, for the libraries etc that contribute to that notion of a community? It's the property taxpayer who pays for it.
Here's a new development. I heard the members opposite say that growth should pay for growth, yet this bill requires a public subsidy. It's wrong, Mr Speaker, it's absolutely wrong. You know this as well as I do, coming from a municipal background.
All I can say is that the government is totally inconsistent in its approach here. Yes, it wants to seek to promote jobs, but it doesn't realize that if we waste our environment, if we cost taxpayers dollars, we're taking away funds that could be better used to meet community needs. If it is the government's intention to create jobs, let it use its money; let it not require municipalities therefore to cross-subsidize through the use of property tax dollars.
Particularly as a result of Bill 152, municipal tax dollars are paying more and more for services that in our view properly belong at the provincial level. I think of such things as welfare, child care and social housing. These issues, which are now being downloaded through Bill 152 on to the municipalities, properly belong to the provincial level, and here you are, through Bill 98, forcing local property taxpayers to pay more towards the costs of these services as we have new development, as the suburbs grow in our communities. How else are we going to ensure that we have more efficient land use if we cannot allow price to more properly reflect the cost of that development? That is my submission.
The Acting Speaker (Mr Bert Johnson): Questions or comments?
Mrs Marion Boyd (London Centre): Before I speak, I don't believe there's a quorum. Would you check?
The Acting Speaker: Would you check for a quorum, please.
Clerk Assistant (Ms Deborah Deller): A quorum is not present, Speaker.
The Acting Speaker ordered the bells rung.
Clerk Assistant: A quorum is now present, Speaker.
The Acting Speaker: The Chair recognizes the member for London Centre.
Mrs Boyd: I'm pleased to have an opportunity to congratulate the member for Ottawa West on his discussion of the development charges. One of the things that's very important is that the government learn to listen to those who have experience within their own community of the effect of government practices. With his experience with the regional council in Ottawa, he has been able to bring to this discussion very concrete numbers, very concrete examples of what effect this bill, in conjunction with the download, is going to have on the taxpayers of the regional municipality of Ottawa-Carleton. This is the kind of information the municipal leaders across the province have been trying to bring to this government on these issues all along.
One of the big problems we find is that, for many reasons, this government appears anxious to listen only to those who agree with their own opinion, not to those who are going to have to enforce and those who are going to have to live with the kinds of policies this government is setting. Again and again we see this government ignoring its own panel, the Who Does What panel, clearly saying this was not a good bill and did not meet the needs they were identifying in Who Does What. They did not listen to municipal leaders until the mayor of Mississauga had to call a halt to the expansion in Mississauga until there were some changes made.
In fact, everything this government does has to come to a point of confrontation before there's any kind of compromise at all. Even when there's some kind of compromise, it still leaves the municipalities holding the bag for the policies this government is shoving through against their wishes.
Mr Bruce Smith (Middlesex): It's my pleasure to comment briefly on the member's comments on the Development Charges Act. I do so from the perspective of not only a government member, but a person who has been a practitioner in the planning field and had the opportunity to write development charges under the previous legislation that we've had.
Very clearly, the Minister of Municipal Affairs recognized that a new approach to that process was required, that a new scope be established so that the problems that had been encountered, in some jurisdictions, I would add, not all - so that the scope could be redefined and a new approach established, one that clearly provided a balance. I think very clearly this particular piece of legislation finds that balance and attempts to do so.
The government has attempted to find that balance by consulting with municipalities, homeowners and others that have an interest in development charges in our communities. As an individual, I was pleased and encouraged by the minister's efforts to secure professional advice outside of the normal consultation process to ensure that we were bringing forward a piece of legislation that was consistent with practical applications in the field and, as well, the overall direction that the government of Ontario wanted to pursue with respect to this issue.
Clearly there are continued concerns that have been expressed over a period of time about the application of the existing legislation and, as I indicated before, the scope in terms of those types of items that were being included and in my opinion were never intended to be included in development charges across this province. Very clearly the minister has moved to establish legislation that not only provides that balance but provides a clear understanding of what we can expect to have charged in the context of a development charge.
The process we went through was one of consultation, where we secured input from all practitioners and those involved in the community, and certainly that ought to be recognized as we move to balance a new piece of legislation that's responsive to industry and community needs.
Mr Bradley: The member for Ottawa West didn't have a chance to speak about this, but I was wondering where the idea for this bill must have come from. All of the ideas seem to originate in the same think tank, a think tank that's referred to as the whiz kids' corner.
Last night I had a chance, because there was a gathering at a charity auction, to be introduced to Guy Giorno, almost as powerful as the Premier of the province of Ontario. I'm wondering, when we're talking about this bill, if perhaps he had something to do with this bill, that little think tank that they have that comes forward with all of these -
Mr Bradley: The member for Scarborough whatever is getting very cranky on the other side. I don't know why. She must recognize that obviously Guy Giorno and the whiz kids had far more power than she. After her interjection, I can say to her I certainly very much understand why she would resent those individuals, because I would if I were she as well.
When we look at who develops the policy, I always wonder where the ideas come from, these ideas on the other side, especially when I hear references made to Roy McMurtry's fund-raiser and Susan Fish's fund-raiser. I just wonder why these references are made from time to time.
Anyway, I keep wondering where the idea for a bill like this would come from, because the municipalities need the funds to carry out their responsibilities, and without those funds they are going to be in even more dire straits than they have been in the past because of the downloading policies of the government of Mike Harris, which will cause them a lot of financial angst.
Mr Peter Kormos (Welland-Thorold): I listened carefully to the comments by the member for Ottawa West. I understand, as so many folks out there understand, this is a bill about friendships. It is. It's a bill about relationships. It's a bill about tight, close buddies. It's a bill about fulfilling one's obligations.
The intimacy between the development community and Mike Harris and his gang of Tories is one of fulfilling obligations. It's a bill about the developer pocketing the money - he's got that cash - and then writing a cheque at the end of the year to Mike Harris and getting a little more back from the taxpayer, because the taxpayer subsidizes that contribution as well.
It's a bill about this government being so deep in the back pockets of developers that they're spitting out lint. It's a bill about telling communities that the developers making the big profits are going to be making even bigger profits on the backs of the taxpayers in those communities. It's a bill about making sure that developers can make bigger and bigger profits but can ignore the responsibility to ensure that communities are real communities.
Tories don't believe in the kind of communities that Ontarians have historically believed in. Tories don't believe in parks, they don't believe in recreation centres, they don't believe in libraries. Why, they don't believe in schools. They don't believe in those things that make neighbourhoods places where people and families can live and grow. They'll settle for the most sterile and mundane and Bucharest of designs, all for the sake of bigger profits for their development buddies and to ensure the ongoing relationship is a tight and intimate one.
The Acting Speaker: The member's time has expired. The member for Ottawa West has two minutes to respond.
Mr Cullen: I'd like to thank the members for London Centre, Middlesex, St Catharines and Welland-Thorold for their contribution to this debate.
I have to say at the close of this debate that the myths the government is trying to perpetuate with respect to this bill still concern me. There are two myths. One is that this bill will protect the homeowner from being gouged, and the other one is that this will promote jobs.
I have to say on the first instance, why should property taxpayers be gouged? Why should they pay for the costs of this new development? The facts remain that there are genuine costs to new development, and people who have lived for 20 or 30 years, as they have in my riding, which was built after the Second World War, are paying taxes for new development across the greenbelt - new pipe, new water, new sewers, new public transit, all that stuff. They're having to pay more in property taxes for that development and they're saying: "We've already paid for ours here. Why should we pay that property tax?" But your bill, Minister, is going to make them pay for that.
The second thing is municipal charges. The members opposite say that the municipalities create these things from whole cloth, and indeed that is nonsense. The members opposite know that this has to go through a public process. It must be documented. It's open to third-party review. It's reviewable by the Ontario Municipal Board. You cannot just come in and say, "We're going to create this massive garden over here and you're going to have to pay for it." That's nonsense. If people don't appeal these things to the municipal board, I can't help them, but I can tell you that in Ottawa-Carleton, the land developers are involved in the development charges process, they have the ability to review this, and they can take the region to the Ontario Municipal Board.
All I can say to the members opposite is that your legislation is going to cause property taxes to be higher than they ought to be if it wasn't for full-cost recovery, and it's your bill that's doing it.
The Acting Speaker: The member's time has expired. Further debate?
Mrs Boyd: I'm pleased to have an opportunity to talk about this bill because there are a number of ways in which one can approach a bill like this. One thing that strikes me in reading the bill is how careful the minister and the government have been about laying out the obligations for the municipality to consult around the formation of the rules, as my friend from Ottawa West was pointing out in his response. If you go through this bill, large sections spell out the obligations for consultation, for appeal by municipalities around this bill. I'm not saying I think that's inappropriate. I think it's very important for citizens of a jurisdiction to have an opportunity to be notified of changes, to have an opportunity to respond to that notification, to have an opportunity to be consulted, to have an opportunity to appeal if a decision goes against them, to have a further avenue of appeal if that first appeal fails. I believe very strongly in that process.
What's amazing is that this minister and this government are bringing forward this detailed process that municipalities have to follow in the case of development charges when they themselves rule virtually by fiat, when they have set up rules in this place that allow them to shove legislation through without public consultation, where bill after bill that this government brings forward denies to people the possibility of any appeal, where there is absolutely no opportunity for people to tell this government how they feel, and even when they create that opportunity themselves, this government, and in particular this minister, does not listen to what the citizens are saying.
Hon Al Leach (Minister of Municipal Affairs and Housing): How many days did you have on the social contract? I can give you the answer: none.
Mrs Boyd: Mr Speaker, I refuse to be provoked by the minister, who is obviously trying to provoke me and to speak over me, which is his usual bully tactic. It's just more of the same. On every bill this minister has brought forward, that's his behaviour, that anyone who speaks against him is wrong and he has to shout them down, and he has to go further and further to try to silence people. That's exactly what his behaviour is like, and he's showing it again today.
One of the things that is very annoying to anyone who has tried to deal with this minister on any of the issues he has brought forward is that the absolute contempt for the democratic process this minister displays and is allowed to display consistently by his Premier is what has caused a lot of the conflict within this province over the last two years. It is absolutely remarkable that on the smallest issue this minister goes through a process of trying to deny others their right to speak, in contempt of this Legislature and elsewhere.
The Acting Speaker: Order. I'd like to just address for a minute if I could those who are here. I'd like you to temper -
Mr Gilles Pouliot (Lake Nipigon): Kick him out.
The Acting Speaker: Order. I'd like you to temper your language. I would like the debate to concentrate on the bill and on those things in the bill that are agreed with and disagreed with, and I'd like to call a halt right now to the personal comments and so on that would be made between members.
Mrs Boyd: Indeed I was speaking about the bill, Mr Speaker, because I think one of the good things about this bill is the extensive consultation and appeal procedure that's written in. I just wish that were available to the citizens of Ontario on many of the issues this government is bringing forward in terms of this Legislature. I am definitely speaking to the bill and saying this is the kind of democratic process that should pertain.
One of the things that has always been rather amusing about the machinations of this government as it tries to deal with the Development Charges Act is the fact that they're caught, as my colleague from Welland-Thorold pointed out, between two sets of friends. If there is at all any balance in this bill, the balance is there because those two friends forced the government to come to some compromise in terms of their position. Those friends, the 905 mayors and the developers, clearly had a great deal to do with the kind of priorities that were set by this government in this bill, and their arguments back and forth, which we all read on the front pages of the papers, which we all saw in very acrimonious debate, drew the government closer to some kind of compromise. But I would point out, as my colleague from Ottawa West did, that that compromise falls far short of what some of the community members wanted to see.
I want to talk a little bit about the whole issue of what it takes to build a healthy community and why this bill is so bad because it limits the possibility of building healthy communities at the local level in a way that is going to work, given the current download of services in the province. We all know that the government denies that the download is going to erode the services we now enjoy, and we all know that the government is denying that with this bill the changes to development charges are going to put an added burden on taxpayers if they are going to build healthy communities.
By limiting the flexibility of municipalities to use the development charge route to pay for a lot of the amenities that make communities livable and healthy places, this government is essentially saying to municipalities, "If you want a healthy community, you're going to have to raise taxes because you can't use this method any more to finance those kinds of amenities." They are very severely limited in terms of how they can use development charges. With the exception of public libraries, a lot of the soft services that really are so essential within communities are very seriously limited in terms of the way in which the development charges apply.
I wouldn't worry about that so much if we didn't have all sorts of examples, particularly in the 905 area, of rapidly growing municipalities, municipalities that have grown very rapidly over the last 10 to 15 years, where the municipal councils, where they have had discretion, have not put their dollars into a lot of the community-building services. We know that a lot of the problems that occur in some of the newer areas, particularly the newer areas where the density of population is fairly high, are because those kinds of amenities are not provided to the extent that they ought to be in a growing and a needy community. When you take away from municipalities a lot of the possibility of paying for some of these services through development charges, that problem is only exacerbated, and that's a real concern to all of us.
Any of us who have lived or know a lot about the service delivery mechanisms in some of the 905 areas know that they appear not to have in any way their fair share of services. When you go through subdivision after subdivision where there's a great big sign in a big empty field saying this was going to be a community centre or this was going to be a library or this was going to be a school but they never get built - partly the fault of municipality, partly the fault of the provincial government - we know there are large areas of these newer municipalities that do not have the services close to home that give rise to healthy communities. There are not the kinds of places where people can gather, where they can offer programs, where they can do all that building of community that happens, whether it's in a recreational setting or in an educational setting.
One of the real issues here is what the long-term effects are going to be of limiting the municipalities in their ability to use development charges to ensure those amenities are there in their communities. Of course, the government will say those municipalities can build those things using their tax base, but you know, it gets more and more difficult to do that as the download makes it clearer and clearer to municipalities not only that they are bearing a huge additional cost on their tax base, way above the so-called neutral position this government keeps insisting is the case, but also because of some of the other problems that are being created by other forms of download and cutback in our community.
What we really have is a situation where bill after bill brought forward by this government, including this one, is attacking the very fibre of healthy communities. As you drive down the services that are available in communities, you break some of the very important connections that really make sure community is built and community is healthy. This is just a piece of a much bigger picture around the destruction of healthy communities, but it's a pretty important piece.
To justify itself, the government talks about the fact that this will make housing cheaper. They keep saying that if developers didn't have to pay large development charges, then houses wouldn't cost as much. We have no evidence that's the case. In fact, for the last few months, we've been reading about the increasing prices, the increasing pressure within the housing market.
I look at the homes section in the newspapers all the time and I don't see any reduction or any indication that there will be a reduction in the cost of homes as a result of this. Maybe there should be, but why would anyone expect that to be passed on to the homeowner in an economic situation where the demand for housing is growing all the time and the ability of the developer to charge the going rate increases with the increased pressure on the housing market? There is no incentive whatsoever, none at all, for developers to pass this on to the prospective homeowner.
My prediction would be, and certainly it becomes very clear to us, that not only will these young families we're supposed to be worried about, these young families that are supposedly going to get a break from the lowering of development charges, have to pay that same money to purchase that house, but once they've purchased that house and are a taxpayer, if they want the services they deserve in that community, if they want a healthy, safe community, they're going to have to pay again or they're not going to have those services. There are very few choices here.
One of the issues we keep raising with this government is that with each successive bill they bring forward that tears away at the fabric of healthy communities, there comes a point at which there is absolutely no benefit to the costs we're incurring.
Development charges may seem like a thing that only those who have to pay them would worry about, or only those who have a prospect of buying a new home might worry about, or even possibly only those who are in a municipal government might worry about, but the reality is we should all be worried about the effect of this bill on the communities in which we live.
I'm not going to be buying a new house in the near future. I live in an old part of my town and I have no plans to move, but in my community there are growing subdivisions and in those growing subdivisions, which because of the land use in our area tend to be on the outskirts of the more populated area, the need for services like transportation services, like all those soft services that make a community a real home is very real.
As my colleague from London South will tell you, he's got a big, sprawling new suburb in his town and without the development charge contribution to building community centres, to building sports fields, to building the kind of community in which they live, they would simply be - I'm probably dating myself by saying this - fields and fields of ticky-tack; no community at all.
That's the real problem with this bill. If we allow an urban sprawl that has none of these services built into it, that has none of these services required and that has none of these services required as a base condition for building the subdivision, then we are simply multiplying those problems. What we see in those communities is very little interaction between citizens because there's no way to come to any kind of meeting place. We find that children are being bused far to school, because of course the whole use of schools is changing with the change in school boards and so on. If there are no community centres, if there are none of these amenities to build community, we're simply going to have places where people live, not healthy communities at all.
I believe very strongly that in the long run it is much wiser to allow municipalities the flexibility and the decision-making around development charges. Municipalities want to build their tax base. They want to expand the number of homes in their area. They are going to be wise enough to balance off the pressure of development charges with the ultimate goal of having a growing tax base, and they are able to make those decisions without the kind of dictating that this government is doing on behalf of its developer friends around how these development charges can be used.
This government is very fond of saying they trust municipalities not to raise taxes, but they don't seem to trust municipalities to balance the needs within their own areas and to do that in a way that is building a healthy community. That is why we believe this is bad legislation. We think it puts very unfair limits on the flexibility that communities can use to build themselves and to strengthen themselves. We think the whole issue here of the autonomous building and maintaining of communities that is supposed to be the job of municipalities is threatened by the kind of micromanaging this government is trying to do at the municipal level.
I don't expect the minister or the government to listen to me. They haven't listened to David Crombie or the Who Does What commission. They didn't listen to the 905 mayors. They compromised to some extent but they didn't really listen. They haven't listened to all those who are sceptical about the lowering of house costs as a result of the lowering of development charges, or the experience of economists in the area who tell them that's very unlikely to happen in a pressured housing market.
It's more of the same old story. This government has a desire to force other jurisdictions to consult, to have appeal mechanisms, they have a desire to try and make other jurisdictions responsive to those who are their constituents, yet there appears to be no desire at all to have the same kind of responsiveness to the concerns of ordinary people who live in the province, constituents who they say will benefit and who tell them they will not.
The Acting Speaker: Questions and comments?
Mr Bradley: I want to commend the member for pointing out the deficiencies in this piece of legislation and the dire circumstances municipalities will be facing if indeed this legislation passes. It is a fact that initially the legislation was even more unattractive to municipalities, which then made comment to the committee which travelled around Ontario. As well, there was a barrage of questions from the opposition and speeches from the opposition which obviously wore the government down a bit on this, and we saw some compromise on this legislation.
But the member has appropriately pointed out that in her community of London, for instance, it is essential to have the money derived from the development charges to be able to provide the services which are necessary for those new developments. One cannot expect people in the city who have already made their contribution when their homes were built to turn around now and make an additional contribution to those projects which are necessitated as a result of growth in that municipality.
I heard mention made, for instance, by the member for Scarborough Centre, as the member for London Centre would have noted, of the problem confronted by Mississauga. Mississauga decided it would go heavily into development charges. I haven't noted that that has stunted the growth in Mississauga. I know Mayor Hazel McCallion and former councillor Margaret Marland would have been surprised to hear the member for Scarborough Centre suggest that somehow the funds that were collected by means of development charges were directed to something other than the most appropriate causes.
Mr Pouliot: I certainly wish to thank a most articulate spokesperson, my colleague the member for London Centre, on behalf of people. She has studied meticulously what is about to happen with this government. It's a bit of a payback time again this season, the season of giving, giving in this case to the developers. Their pockets must be bulging now with a lot of money, because la payola goes well under Bill 98. Who pays? Who loses in the tradeoff? The home buyers.
You see, when you buy a property, you buy a bit of the library. Location is everything, the place you call your home. You buy the recreation centre, you buy the community centre; it's community. But now you're hit big time. Another 10% will be passed from the developers to the municipality. We know they're already under a state of siege, for starting January 1 they will be paying for social housing, they will be paying for community health etc - they're on their knees - and on top if it now another 10% for development.
The developers will save money. Will they pass the savings along to the consumers? What do you think? Do you wish to bet, maybe make a small wager that if they save $2,000 per unit, how much of it will go? Will it be half? Will it be all? Will it be nothing at all?
It's not a good day for people, it's not a good day for buyers and it's not a good day for the economy when we allow this kind of exercise without any checkmarks, without any monitoring of compliance to ensure that the savings will be there in the marketplace. I fear they will not be there.
Mr David Caplan (Oriole): It's very interesting to hear some of the arguments. I would certainly commend the words of many of the earlier speakers on this.
I would like to address the impact which Bill 98 will have on municipalities. There's a document - I'll refer to it here - that says the city of Mississauga, if Bill 98 passes, will lose about $90 million in capital funding for new services over the next 10 years. It's very interesting that we have a deafening silence from the members from Mississauga on the opposite side, why they would not stand up and fight for their particular communities.
The city of Richmond Hill, $69 million, and it's contemplating, by the way, a 21% increase in property taxes to help pay for new growth in that community; the city of Ajax, $6 million. I can go on. The city of Brampton is expecting a 24% mill rate increase as a result of the changes in Bill 98. Aurora, 14.5%; East Gwillimbury, 15.2%; Georgina in York region, 13.6%; Markham, 28%.
Are these the kinds of changes this government is looking to make, to take the burden off developers and put it on to property taxpayers? Is that what this is all about? This is an unconscionable action. I hope the members who represent those areas, many of whom are on that side of the House, would finally stand in their place and speak up on behalf of the people in those communities, their constituents, who will be faced with the hardships of the changes proposed in Bill 98. It is so telling that the members have nothing to say on this.
Mr Kormos: Ms Boyd, the member for London Centre, said the government doesn't listen to her. I beg to differ. The government members have listened well to what Ms Boyd has to say except, you see, that they don't agree with her. Ms Boyd believes in communities, she believes in healthy communities, she believes in neighbourhoods, she believes in community centres and parks and recreation centres. Ms Boyd believes in libraries.
The government hears her, except that they disagree, because they just believe in bigger and bigger profits for their developer buddies, so their developer buddies can continue to write that annual cheque to the Progressive Conservative Party of Ontario and to the Reform Party of Canada. It's a matter of, "You scratch my back, I'll scratch yours." This is what goes on in the back rooms. Ms Boyd knows that. The people across the province know that.
They understand that there was some tension between Mayor Hazel McCallion in the city of Mississauga and their interests - strong Tory turf - and the interests of the developer buddies of Mike Harris and the Tory gang. They said, "We'll split the pie up a little bit differently." They told the development communities: "Act mad. Do a little bit of WWF so that people might forget for a minute that we've been lying in the same bed for months and years." When you lie with dogs, you get fleas.
Ms Boyd is being listened to, but she simply has a far different vision from this government. I remind people, here we are debating Bill 98. In approximately 30 minutes I'll be speaking to it. In approximately 30 minutes' time we'll be speaking to Bill 98, the Development Charges Act, here on the legislative channel. I'll be speaking about the people from Castropignano, Italy, a small town just north of Naples, and why that's relevant to this bill today.
The Acting Speaker: The member for London Centre has two minutes to respond.
Mrs Boyd: I want to thank the members for St Catharines, Oriole, Lake Nipigon and Welland-Thorold for their comments.
I am prepared to stand corrected. Actually, the member for St Catharines pointed out that there had been a lot of amendments to this bill, and indeed that's the case. When we look through, we see the little black arrows all over this bill, so it was certainly messed up from the beginning, and there were some changes to it. I take his correction in the manner in which it was meant.
I believe very strongly that for those who have a vision of community as being available only to those who have the private means to pay, this may not be as frightening as it is for people who depend on the public amenities, public services, to enjoy a healthy lifestyle. If you can afford to go to a large health spa and belong to a tennis club and do not worry about having to pay private fees for that, this may not be quite as frightening as it is for all those families who do not have that opportunity because their income doesn't allow them to do that.
This government tries to paint the development charges as relieving young families of cost when it comes to buying their homes. It will not do that either in the cost of homes because the going rate will be what prevails, but it will cost those young families more and more as time goes on to have the kinds of communities they want for themselves and their children, through their taxes, through charitable contributions to try and build those amenities that now won't be built because of development charge changes.
The Acting Speaker: Further debate?
Mr Joseph Cordiano (Lawrence): I'm delighted to have an opportunity to speak on this bill, which I think is a rather significant piece of legislation in terms of the province's development over the next number of years, economic, social and cultural as well, because this bill affects what will be cultural development in the future, or lack of it, as a result of the lack of funds, funds that will not flow from what was normally a source of revenue.
The Development Charges Act, as it is conceived, and other speakers have commented on this, I think it's safe to make a prediction that fewer dollars will now go into things like recreation centres and additional amenities which make communities so liveable. I would say, especially over the long term, developers won't benefit from this. The house building industry will not benefit from this in the way you might think. Initially perhaps, I think it's fair to say, the savings will go to developers; the reduction in development charges, those initial savings, will accrue to developers and house builders. Costs will be lower for the developers.
Stephen Kaiser, our friend at the Urban Development Institute, when asked if the developers would pass on savings to home buyers, thought about it and his response was, "Well, the cost of lumber and the cost of materials going into homes might go up and as a result negate any of the savings." It's probably true over the next number of years that any savings that might accrue as a result of the reduction in development charges, to first-time home buyers particularly, who are the bulk of buyers these days, will result in developers pocketing that money and as a result not having to increase their costs for materials. There will be an offset for them. Will they pass those savings on to consumers? No, they won't. They'll be forced into a position where they can't do that, so it defeats the very purpose if the government indeed wanted to do that, pass on savings to home purchasers.
Let's assume for a moment that might be the case. As Stephen Kaiser points out, costs will rise over the next number of years as more houses are built. As there's an increase in demand for these materials, supply is not coming on board as quickly as it should, lumber has increased in price, the price of construction materials is going up, as has been the case already over the last number of years that we've seen an increase in house building, so what will happen is that those additional costs will have to be absorbed. Usually they get passed on to the consumer. The developer will offset any development charge reductions there are. You might get a levelling off of prices, but the cost savings are not there for the consumer. You're not going to get a reduction in house prices as a result of the reduction in development charges. That won't happen.
While the market won't bear it, there is no direct relationship with respect to the reduction in development charges and what happens at the market level. At least you've got to come clean with that. It just won't happen.
What I think will happen in the long term is that communities that are now on the table for development, projects that are just coming on board that will have to deal with this new Development Charges Act, won't have the amenities, won't have the recreational facilities, won't have all the other amenities that communities have seen over the last number of years. As a result of that, those communities will be less marketable. When they're buying a home, the first thing people look for is a good school in their neighbourhood. The other thing they'll look for is amenities, whether they're close to shopping, whether they're close to recreational facilities for their children, whether transportation is close by, what the conditions of the roads are: Are there good roads? Can they get back and forth from work easily?
When you eliminate those amenities, I venture to guess that those communities that are built in the future as a result of these new development charges will not be as attractive to purchasers, to consumers. As a result, you're defeating the very purpose you intended in the first place.
I would say to you, and this is repeated time and again, if you're out to help the development industry, you haven't done so with this bill. You may help in the short term, but in the long term it just isn't going to prove that valuable, particularly to house builders. House builders will see that something else has to take the place of the development charge. Is it going to be increases in municipal taxes, property taxes?
Earlier, my colleague repeated how much each municipality projects into the future that property taxes will have to increase in order to make up this shortfall. Don Cousens, the mayor of Markham, a former Conservative in this assembly at one time, says that the changes to this act could add as much as 31% to their bottom line as far as this bill is concerned. So it is going to be an increase all around. Even if you don't believe Don Cousens and you don't believe the estimates that were submitted earlier by my colleague, it's fair to say that someone is going to have to pay for these additional amenities. You can't argue with that.
If these cultural centres and recreation centres, the so-called gold-plated services that have been criticized in the past, which in my opinion make cities very liveable and desirable, are going to go by the wayside, then they either don't get built or they can only be built with additional costs to municipalities. Where do they find the revenues for this? Property taxes are not going to increase dramatically. I think municipalities realize today that they cannot, in all good conscience - and they can't get away with it because the taxpayers won't allow them to do it - increase municipal property taxes. They won't be able to do it.
I think it's fair to say that the argument has been made that new growth should fund new growth. That is to say, people moving into a new-growth area should fund those amenities, those services, soft services, if those amenities are to be built by the municipality. That's the way we've done it in the past and it has worked quite well. Many communities in the rim around Toronto - and I'll speak to that - and many other communities outside of Toronto have become much more liveable as a result of those additional amenities being built - recreational facilities, cultural facilities. It makes this province of ours one of the most liveable places on the face of the earth. That's what is important about this Development Charges Act: that you're changing the very nature of our communities by changing this.
I hope that's not the case. I hope somehow we can find another way to fund those very important amenities, but I haven't heard the government say that in any of this debate. I haven't heard the Minister of Culture and Recreation discuss how we're going to fund those very important undertakings. We haven't heard the minister speak to those concerns.
I can recall a time back in the late 1980s when I had to fight for additional dollars for my community to have a recreation centre built that was adequate, because there were no adequate facilities. Those days are long gone. We're not getting additional dollars in communities these days the way we used to. Everyone understands that. But when we're talking about entirely new communities without any facilities - you can't even argue that they're second-rate facilities and you've got to make do for now; there aren't any facilities - children, particularly young people, will be at a loss.
Mr Kormos: And seniors.
Mr Cordiano: And seniors, yes. Let's not forget seniors. By and large, seniors will be cut off from opportunities to see one another. I think it's very important for seniors to do that, not to be stuck in their own homes, isolated. That's what we did. Over the years we made certain we were building those types of facilities for seniors. It has led to an improvement in their quality of life.
I don't know for the life of me how we can argue that this is a bettering of the quality of life for the citizens of Ontario in the new-growth areas of this province when we know for a fact that in most of the house building taking place today, most of the homes are being purchased by first-time buyers.
When you speak to affordability, and I want to touch on that for just a moment, the government likes to imply that this bill will increase affordability, and I am presuming that you're talking about first-time home buyers. Naturally we would want a better situation, a better climate for first-time home buyers in order that they may purchase that first home. If I were really to believe that the price of first-time homes would come down, if you somehow directed through this legislation that that would be the case, I might even support this bill. It would be important to recognize making first-time home buyers able to afford that first-time home, and if somehow you were benefiting them, this would be considered by me a very supportable bill. But, again, I don't see that guarantee in this legislation. I don't see how it's possible.
Therefore, one wonders how it is that affordability is being enhanced by this government, particularly at a time when you're offloading to municipalities the cost for public housing, the cost for long-term care. You're offloading a considerable amount of responsibility on to the municipalities and, as a result of that, property taxes may have to increase, although I don't buy that just yet. I think the municipalities out there are very fearful of having to increase their property taxes, so what's going to happen in my opinion is that services will be curtailed. Those services will dramatically be reduced in terms of their quality and how many of those services are available.
You have a situation here where affordability is not something that this government is really considering when dealing with Bill 98. It's not going to result in more affordable homes out there for first-time home buyers or for buyers in new areas particularly with respect to this bill. It's not going to result in any kind of bonus or windfall for first-time home buyers, which is the market that I think really needs assistance at this point in time.
I think you'd be better off to direct that in some way we should have provision made for those amenities to be paid by some other means. That's not the case in this bill; you're simply leaving it up to the municipalities to determine whether they want to build those additional facilities. As I have stated, municipalities will be hard-pressed to be able to fund those additional responsibilities that you have offloaded to them, so where are they going to find the revenue for this? We can only conclude that, in the end, these facilities will not be built and, as a result, young people and seniors will suffer. They won't have those amenities, they won't have those facilities, they won't have those recreational and cultural possibilities.
I think that in the long term it's a bad bill and, as I said earlier, I think those communities will be less desirable for consumers. People are today looking for neighbourhoods with good schools, with those types of amenities. When you reduce those possibilities with this bill, those communities will simply not be as attractive. What you're getting in the long term is a reduction in the opportunities for developers, and it may be shortsighted on everyone's part to embrace this and say this is a solution - I don't think it is the solution.
I think you have to be able to fund these recreational facilities and cultural amenities. All these things are quite essential to the quality of life in any community. They're what makes a community very desirable so, in the end, I don't see that this will resolve anything. It may be a short-term benefit to some developers. They may see it as such, some of them who need relief right now. Again, it's not any kind of relief for first-time home buyers or buyers of new homes in new areas that are growing in the province. I don't see that they'll benefit from this.
I wonder what it is that you attempted to do. I think other speakers have pointed this out, but this runs counter to the recommendations of the Crombie Who Does What panel. I just want to quote. The Crombie Who Does What panel advocated letting municipalities retain control of development charges, and it had this to say: "Development charges are a critical and essential municipal revenue source for financing growth-related capital infrastructure. Any amendments to the act to reduce the scope or permitted level of development charges will mean higher municipal taxes or user fees."
Let's not forget that user fees will be imposed at one point or another. When a community says, "Enough is enough," we need these facilities. At some point down the road communities will come to that conclusion. Today it's the thin edge of the wedge, but at some point you will have user fees for the use of recreational facilities of all kinds.
My kids are in various programs and we do pay for the use of some of those programs. It's a small fee and it's a reasonable fee. I don't mind paying it, but there are many people who can't afford to pay those user fees. There are numerous families I know of who couldn't send their kids to camp last summer - summer camp. The city of Toronto had to cut back on the opportunity for kids to go to summer camp, and therefore many kids couldn't attend those summer camps because their parents couldn't afford it. It's as simple as that.
This gets piled on to the additional costs that municipalities have to shoulder under this government. It's a pattern that's been repeated over and over and over again by this government, that is, to offload on to municipalities and therefore be able to reduce its own costs provincially. At some point you talk as though you're the taxfighters; the taxcutters. That's not the case. The case is not that you're cutting taxes; it's that you're passing these responsibilities off and therefore making someone else pay for it. Whether it's a user fee or additional municipal property taxes, it is still coming out of the pockets of those consumers you're saying you're trying to help, and it simply isn't on. No one's buying it any longer because there's a lack of credibility with respect to your arguments.
You're trying to suggest time and again that you're passing on these savings, but it's not there. Wait till the next property tax bill hits. The proof will be in the pudding. At that point, I think there will be a huge number of people, particularly in Metropolitan Toronto, who will be outraged to see what happens. There will be a huge problem. There will be chaos when those property tax bills are received by property taxpayers and they won't be able to make out what's going on. Quite frankly, they'll have every right to blame this government for the chaos.
At the end of the day, you haven't solved a thing with respect to what's happening in those growth-related areas with this new Development Charges Act. I think there needed to be a balance with respect to how growth is funded, but the provincial government I believe has a responsibility for ensuring that there are recreational facilities throughout the province; that those things mean a lot; that those things matter to people; that there are facilities that seniors can go to so that they're not isolated and cut off from their communities and their friends and their neighbours. It's part of a quality of life that you are eroding time and again. This is yet another example of that erosion.
If the bill could guarantee that first-time home buyers were to benefit directly, and we could prove that and we could ensure that would happen, then I think the bill could be saluted. But it certainly isn't the case. Even Stephen Kaiser suggested that he couldn't guarantee that those cost savings could be passed on to home buyers. Therefore, I don't think the government really means what it says.
The Speaker (Hon Chris Stockwell): Questions and comments.
Mr Silipo: I want to congratulate the member for Lawrence for his comments on this bill. It's always good to see him on his feet dealing with this and other issues. As he has pointed out, the government is sort of caught in a bit of a conundrum on this one because on the one hand they tried to portray this as striking a better balance between how we raise some of this money through the development charges versus what happens when you remove some of those costs from the development charges, and then therefore have to have municipalities pick up those costs through the property taxes. But the balance here has really been shifted in my view, and the member for Lawrence talked about this, inordinately on to the shoulders of the property taxpayer and on to the municipality.
Even with that, as he pointed out, what you have is no guarantee that at the end of the day the homeowners who pay for the development charges when they purchase their homes, or other things, but we're talking here largely about people buying new homes, are going to reap any benefit. There's no guarantee that they're going to reap any benefit. Who gains by this? Obviously, it will mean that some of the developers will have fewer costs because the development charges are less.
I would have felt more comfortable, and I think all of us would've felt more comfortable, if there had been a passing on to the homeowners, in some direct way, of some of those savings that the developers will now save as a result of not having to pay as much in development charges. At least that could have somehow justified the increases those same homeowners will have to pay, initially and ongoing, through the increases in property taxes this will mean.
The member for Lawrence touched on all of these issues as he expressed the concerns he did around this measure of the government.
Mr Bart Maves (Niagara Falls): I just want to rise to speak to the member's comments on Bill 98. One of the things that caught my ear was his comment that folks have less money in their pockets now as a result of municipal increases and user fee increases that he claims are there. He should know - he should ask his own member from Scarborough, for instance; as our members from Scarborough on this side of the table would know because they are informed - that there's been actually a large reduction in user fees in Scarborough. One example I have been told about is a water surcharge that was removed in Scarborough. There's actually a trend the other way in many municipalities as people realize it's time for that fiscal management throughout the province and are doing that.
There was one comment about less money in people's pockets and that someone didn't have enough money to send their kids to summer camp. Maybe that's because they're spending their money on cars and trucks, because car and truck sales soared 15% over last year; 18 months in a row we've had increases in car and truck sales. It's really clear that, because of tax cuts, people have a lot more money in their pockets. They are spending a heck of a lot more money. If it were coming out of their pockets from another source, they wouldn't be doing that. But the evidence has been in over the past 18 and 20 months. Investor confidence is soaring; consumer confidence is absolutely soaring for the first time in a decade in this province.
For the member opposite to say these tax cuts are just being taken away to another level of government is untrue. The facts say something totally different when one looks at the economy. Consumption lagged in the Ontario economy for many years. It's now picking up and it is now finally driving our economy to new heights.
Mr Gerretsen: First of all, I'd like to congratulate the member for Lawrence for an excellent presentation as to what's wrong with this current act. I'm also very pleased to see in the House tonight the Minister of Municipal Affairs and Housing. At the appropriate time I will move unanimous consent so that he will be allowed to respond to this: How can he justify on the one hand giving the municipalities many more services to look after, like ambulance services, social, housing, more of the welfare costs, public health, transit - you could just go on and on - and at the same time say that municipalities will now have a greater opportunity to raise their funds and, on the other hand, through the Development Charges Act, in effect, tell municipalities, "You cannot charge more than such and such." He wants to give them more power. Why is he taking it away in this particular area? I'd like him to explain that, to give a cogent explanation of that.
I will be moving unanimous consent as soon as I'm finished so that we can hear him and the people of Ontario can hear him as well. I'm sure he'd be more than pleased to answer that because it doesn't make any sense. It doesn't make any sense that when you say you want municipalities to run their own affairs you say, "You cannot do this, that or the other thing when it comes to development charges."
The other thing that is very interesting is that the municipalities that have the highest development charges also happen to be the fastest-growing municipalities. If these development charges inhibit growth, then why are these municipalities, such as the Mississaugas, such as the Durhams, such as the Markhams, growing at such a tremendously rapid rate? I will now move unanimous consent that the Minister of Municipal Affairs and Housing address this issue immediately.
The Speaker: The member for Kingston and The Islands is seeking unanimous consent for the minister to address an issue. Agreed? No.
Questions and comments?
Ms Shelley Martel (Sudbury East): I want to congratulate the member for Lawrence on his comments here this afternoon and I want to just reinforce a few of the points he raised.
First of all, the bill really does ensure that the existing tax base in a community - those people who have already made payments on their homes, made payments on the services in the part of the community where they live are now going to pick up an additional 10% of the costs for development in new areas. They are going to be subsidizing costs even though they have paid for their fair share in terms of the area in which they live. That is just another form of download on to the local taxpayers, this time spread across the whole community. That is in essence what it is: another form of download, another form of tax increase for other people who live in a municipality, who are going to subsidize that new development.
Second, I've heard a number of members from the government try to argue that what will happen is if you reduce some of those costs that are now on the per-lot cost, the cost of a home for an average family who wants to buy is going to go down. There is absolutely nothing in this bill that guarantees that a developer is going to turn around and lower the price of a house because he or she does not now have to pay some of the costs because the municipality and the whole tax base is picking that up. There is no incentive for the developer to do that. The developer is just as likely to see how much the market will bear and pocket all of that as a profit; absolutely no guarantee that the price of houses for families is going to go down.
Third, you have to take this in the context of the whole provincial download or dump that's going on. Which municipality, faced with all of the services and all of the associated costs that this government wants to download, is going to be in a position to pay an extra 10% for a recreational centre, library or a community centre in a new area? They just won't.
The Speaker: Response, member for Lawrence.
Mr Cordiano: I've listened to the comments and I appreciate all of the comments. I would just reiterate that I think this bill is shortsighted. It does not look to a longer-term solution. In the short term it will be beneficial only to the house builders. The price of homes will not come down as a result of this. In fact, it may not be beneficial to house builders either because they're looking at additional costs having to be borne as a result of increases in material prices.
There's only so much the market will bear. At some point, this will not even benefit developers in the long term. It certainly won't, because as I pointed out, amenities and facilities that would have been built that would make their new subdivisions more attractive, those new communities will not have those amenities.
I can't think for a moment that municipalities would want to raise municipal property taxes. They're going to have to bear the brunt of all the downloading that's taking place as a result of additional services that are passed on because of this government's download to the municipalities for social housing, for long-term care, for ambulance services and a number of other essential services that municipalities will be hard-pressed to provide. They're not going to want to increase municipal property taxes to pay for these additional amenities. They simply won't do it.
These communities will be lacking in those facilities for years to come, and I don't think that's going to be very attractive. These new communities will be less attractive, and as a result developers may not find this to be such a windfall after all, not in the long term certainly. I think the government should revisit this. Yes, it's in its final reading before the House, but I think the government is -
The Speaker: Further debate?
Mr Kormos: I've been eager, anxious to participate in this debate. I have but a scant 10 minutes of course. It's because of the Tory rule changes, and there surely should be a more appropriate period of time because what this bill is about is communities. The bill is about communities and about the nature of our communities once the Tories are finished with towns, cities, families and neighbourhoods here in Ontario.
When I talk to you about communities, I feel compelled to talk to you about a community that I'm familiar with, let's say, vicariously. Let me talk to you for a moment and tell you about the town or village of Castropignano: Castropignano in the centre of Italy, in the mountains, in the hills, north of Naples.
Why do I feel comfortable talking about Castropignano? Because I know the people from Castropignano. I know their families, I know their children and I know their grandkids. You see, after the war over half of that village - over half of it - emigrated and settled in Thorold down in Niagara region. Over half the village departed. It was poor. These were hard times for these people and it took courage and a commitment to their future to move en bloc, yes, to a very strange land, a different language, different culture, and they moved to Thorold, Ontario, and the region around Thorold.
As a matter of fact, last Saturday I was at the Club Castropignano over in west Port Robinson when they celebrated the 25th anniversary of their club. We're talking communities here, Bill 98 and communities and the kinds of communities we want, and I'm talking about people from Castropignano because they understand community.
There were several speakers, several of the previous presidents, the first president and their most recent and current one, Jerry Evangelista, and a recurrent theme during the brief addresses by presidents of Club Castropignano was that Canada is such a great country to live in and that Canada and Ontario have been such great places to raise families and to work in. I got to speak last and I said: "Friends, I agree with you. We're in total agreement that this is a great place to live in. It's a great place to raise family in and to work in."
Now we have to ask the question why. I have no hesitation -
Mr Kormos: The inevitable conclusion I told them, "It's because of you and others like you who came to this country and to this province, bringing with them senses of community that are very much directly under attack by Bill 98 and this government." I was in the kitchen talking to the women. Mrs Scapiletti was there. Mrs Scapiletti, gosh, I've known her for well over 30 years. I've known here since I was a kid. She and her husband ran Scapiletti's supermarket over on the corner of 7th Street and King, and I'm not sure, but I think it used to be Louis Lusina's supermarket before the Scapiletti family purchased it. Louis Lusina, as you know, was the Polish émigré who sided with the Crowland relief workers when they struck for decent relief wages, forced workfare. Louis Lusina -
Mr Kormos: Well, Louis Lusina, I'm sure it's the same store, corner of 7th Street and King. I remember it well as a kid. Mrs Scapiletti hasn't changed a bit in the years. I've gotten older, no two ways about it. But they understood community. They understood neighbourhood and, yes, it was more than a rare time when at the back of the store where the meat counter was I had more than my share of prosciutto and provolone piled high on a thick crusty bun. I'm extremely grateful for the kindness that Mrs Scapiletti showed me then, and I hope that I can repay it to her in the most modest way. She understood community; she still does.
These people from Castropignano and, yes, so many other parts of the world, came here bringing with them strong senses of community, family and neighbourhood. They made sacrifices; we know that. We've talked about that before, you and me, Speaker. The concept of parks to the folks from a poor, small mountain village in Italy was a little alien. The concept of community centres or libraries was somewhat alien. These people were scraping a living out of the dirt, as often as not with their brute power and with great pain.
One of the things they committed themselves to was building communities here in Ontario. The older folks never had a chance to get much of an education in those small villages in Italy. Their lives were interrupted by the war and then by the poverty that followed. But they, as members of communities, be it Thorold or Welland or wherever you want, made investments in community centres, libraries, seniors' centres and parks. They understood this is what makes communities healthy communities and what makes them vital, what makes them alive. They understand that.
They witnessed the orgy of development that has taken place in the province over the course of the last 20 or 30 years and they understand that huge profits are being made by developers in the course of building those developments. They also understand that those developers, with those huge profits, should be paying their fair share, should be bearing their fair portion of the cost of building communities, building and maintaining parks and libraries and schools and community centres and recreation centres.
I was talking to Mrs Ventresca in the kitchen. She was telling me - I didn't know it was her son, Robert Ventresca. Her son was the MC that night. He's doing his PhD over at U of T, and his sister is a student at Brock University, both of them very, very bright, capable young people. I've know Robert's mother, Mrs Ventresca, all my life. I went and talked to Robert. He's doing his PhD in history. He's done a lot of work on the role of the ethnic community in labour organization and in the labour movement here. Robert is certainly the first generation of his family to ever get a PhD; I tell you that. His mom was so proud of him. She understands community. She understands what it means for people to pay their fair share.
I tell you, she understands that Bill 98 is a display of such largesse on the part of this government to their developer buddies, that there's a whole lot of cash changing hands here, a whole lot of money going to be pocketed.
Bill 98 has as its inevitable result the enhancement of profits for developers, the erosion of community facilities like parks, community centres, art centres, libraries, public services, and as well a transfer of the responsibility that developers should be bearing on to property owners, hardworking people like Mrs Scapiletti and people like Mrs Ventresca and people like the Evangelistas or the Contes or any of the other number of people who were over at Club Castropignano last Saturday night.
They've been paying their fair share and working hard to do it and they've been pleased to do it. It's because they've paid their fair share that Robert Ventresca can be finishing his PhD, when his grandparents tilled the earth back in Castropignano in a small mountain town in Italy, and there wasn't a whole lot of earth to till.
These people have paid their fair share. They understand that this government is telling its developer buddies: "It's in the bag. You developer friends of ours no longer have to pay your fair share. We'll just dump more on to hardworking folks who have worked hard in our factories and on our farms and in our retail stores all of their lives and paid property taxes. We'll just dump more on to them."
This government is saying, "We'll just turn our back on the seniors who rely upon community centres and seniors' centres in community across community to enable them to continue to engage in the social activity of the community."
I'm proud of my friends from Castropignano and I'm proud of what they've contributed to this province. This government should be ashamed of the attack that it's embarking on and the very things -
The Speaker: Thank you. Questions and comments?
Mr Maves: I really want to rise and comment on the member for Welland-Thorold's comments because I take great exception to some of the comments he's made, just now and prior to this. I'll tell you why.
In Niagara Falls we have a very large Italian community. We have a community that has given a great deal to Niagara. I have many, many friends. I've shared prosciutto in my friends' basements, I've been to many events at Club Italia and I have a great deal of respect for that community.
A lot of the people I know in the Italian community in the Niagara region are in the construction business. They are builders. They build homes and they do it honestly and they do it fairly, people like Domenic DiLalla and Can-Di homes; Felix Pingue with Pingue Construction; Frank Costantino, another well-known builder in Niagara; the Damore family and other families. They are all honest, hardworking people and their families are honest, hardworking people. They've come to this country and they've helped build the country.
For the member opposite previously to get up and say that these people will take payola, that they will put these development charges in their pocket, I think is absolutely shameful. I think the member opposite, when he makes these comments about the Italian community in his riding, should think twice. He should think of what he said earlier tonight that is really quite insulting to some of those people. The folks I know in that business and of that heritage are hardworking, honest people who are fair. They deal on a competitive basis with other builders and other people in the construction industry in my town. I think the member owes them an apology for his earlier comments.
Mr Bradley: Thank you for the opportunity to address the remarks of the member for Welland-Thorold. I was pleased he didn't engage in the bashing that I apparently received in the House the other night from my good friend the member for Niagara Falls who accused me of being pessimistic and a prophet of doom and gloom.
I have such an optimistic view of the future because I see, as I think the member for Welland-Thorold does, that people in this province are beginning to understand the ramifications of the reckless policies of the Harris government. While municipalities are worrying about some of the areas they're going to get their funds from, they are wondering why this government is closing hospitals. I am optimistic that if this government continues this policy, and others begin to see there are people out there who want to see the hospitals kept open, our problems will be solved. I'm a member of the Grantham Optimist club even, which means that I am a person who looks optimistically at the future.
The only thing that makes me pessimistic, I can tell you, is the policy of the Harris government. I hear members get up and extol the virtues of what the brain trust in the Premier's office has thrust upon this government, and that's bound to make anybody pessimistic. I see the hospitals closing, I see home care being cut back, I see hundreds of millions of dollars being taken out of education, and I'm pessimistic about that but I'm optimistic people understand the mistakes this government is making.
Mr Pouliot: Time and time again, the member for Welland-Thorold, Mr Peter Kormos, draws analogies that are filled with validity: the good people from Castropignano this evening, real people, people now residing in the proud Ontario riding of Welland-Thorold, people who have worked so hard and people who are noticing in front of their very eyes an attempt to dismantle what they represent. Imagine a community without libraries, a community with no parks, a community with few essential services, a community where you wouldn't have a recreation centre, where people could not congregate. Would this be advantageous for developers? In the long run they too would lose, for property is location, location, and of course location; nothing else matters. There's no money in wastelands, yet this Tory government is so shortsighted - oh, they're loyal, they're dedicated to their friends. Today, when this bill passes, la payola one more time -
The Speaker: Member for Lake Nipigon, you've crossed the line there. You can't make that accusation.
Mr Pouliot: I will withdraw, Mr Speaker. This is the modern age. Will you accept "direct deposit"?
The Speaker: Member, you know full well that kind of talk is unacceptable. It's not acceptable for Parliament. Certainly a charge like that levelled against an opposition member is something you should think very carefully about. It's very serious.
Mr Pouliot: I'm serious.
The Speaker: I ask that you withdraw your last comment.
Mr Pouliot: I withdraw, Mr Speaker. But do you believe that the savings will be passed along to the consumer, yes or no?
Mr Steve Gilchrist (Scarborough East): I'm pleased to respond to comments made by our colleague from Welland-Thorold. Of course his support for my bill this morning will temper my comments, but first I have to put on the record, in deference to our friend from St Catharines, that the second-hand information he had about the debates last night was incorrect. In fact, our colleague from Niagara Falls called you an honourable member and a friend. What he did, though, was quote from a book about David Peterson's years:
"Bradley's peers were accustomed to his pessimism. Colleagues respected Bradley's political nose, but saw him as a perpetual prophet of doom. `You give him a story, he can tell you everything that's going to go wrong, everything, because he's paranoid,' says one minister. Chaviva Ho_ek likened him to `the canaries they used to take down in the mines: when they stopped breathing, you'd know you were dead.'"
Mr John L. Parker (York East): That's what a Liberal minister has called you, Jim.
Mr Gilchrist: You're right. With Liberals you have to know whether that was yesterday's Jim or today's.
Let's get back to the comments made by our friend from Welland-Thorold. He said this was about communities, and we agree, but it's about the reasonable costs that would be expected to increase in a community as a result of new development. We don't think it's appropriate that a new museum, a new arts centre, a new city hall be funded on the backs of those few homes that are now being built in some communities, more in others.
The fact of the matter is those decisions should be made by all the citizens in a particular community. As you know full well, these are big-ticket expenditures by any community. To suggest that the tens of millions of dollars that would be put into any of those venues should be funded exclusively from new homes is totally inappropriate. That's why we've said the reasonable costs that are directly tied to the creation of a new housing development will continue to be borne on the backs of those homes by the developers. That's why we've brought these changes.
The Speaker: Response, member for Welland-Thorold.
Mr Kormos: I appreciate and indeed enjoy the participation of other members in response to my comments. I've got to tell you, I'm disappointed in the member for Niagara Falls. For him to slander members of his community like that I find most disappointing. I consider it a horrible insult to his constituents and quite frankly to folks across the Niagara region.
I will do my best with some of those same people, to explain to them that the member for Niagara Falls was speaking in a heated moment, that it had been a long day, that he was frustrated, that here he finds himself - I understand. Listen, far be it from me to be critical of somebody who has said things in the heat of the moment. I've done it from time to time myself. The member for Niagara Falls today said things that I'm sure he doesn't really mean. I will do my best to explain to folks down in Niagara that he's carrying a lot of responsibility, he sees the Tories dropping in the polls, he's got to engage himself in a nomination fight with a colleague as a result of the merger of ridings. He's under a great deal of pressure. The problem is, he'd like us to believe that he understands what's going on in the back room. You haven't even seen the hallway to the back room yet, Mr Maves. You're never going to see that back room. You and your colleagues on the back bench don't know the directions to it; you'll never get the directions to it. Jim Bradley is more likely to speak to Guy Giorno than you are.
The Speaker: Further debate?
M. Jean-Marc Lalonde (Prescott et Russell) : C'est avec plaisir que je prends la parole sur ce projet de loi 98, Loi visant à promouvoir la création d'emplois et à accroître la responsabilité des municipalités tout en prévoyant le recouvrement des coûts d'aménagement liés à la croissance.
C'est ce point-là qui inquiète beaucoup de gens. On mentionne «accroître la responsabilité des municipalités», mais ce projet de loi limite la responsabilité des municipalités. Le gouvernement va établir des politiques. Il va avoir ses directives que le conseil municipal va avoir à suivre. Lorsque nous regardons le contenu de ce projet de loi, nous pouvons voir les conséquences que les conseils municipaux vont avoir.
Je regarde la partie II : «Redevances d'aménagement». Lorsque nous regardons la partie II, l'article 3(b), nous voyons que les gouvernements municipaux, les municipalités n'auront pas le contrôle et n'auront pas le pouvoir d'avoir des redevances d'aménagement allant jusqu'à trois unités, ou deux unités additionnelles que nous allons construire.
Mais lorsque nous regardons à fond ce projet de loi, nous nous apercevons que actuellement, les municipalités pourraient être en difficulté. Pourquoi est-ce que je dis «en difficulté» ? C'est simple. Nous disons que actuellement, pour avoir le droit d'ajouter deux unités dans une résidence, il n'y aura pas de frais de redevance, mais il n'y a absolument rien dans ce projet de loi qui empêche un individu d'aller chercher un permis de construction, agrandir sa propriété ou sa résidence de 500 ou 600 mille pieds carrés, et l'année suivante retourner pour voir la municipalité et dire, «Maintenant, je veux rajouter deux unités à ma propriété.» La personne, avec ces procédures qu'elle aura suivies, va définitivement être exemptée de payer les redevances.
La même chose s'applique dans le secteur commercial-industriel. Lorsque nous regardons nous disons, jusqu'à l'heure, dans 50 % des agrandissements d'une industrie ou dans le secteur commercial les redevances ne s'appliquent pas. Mais encore là rien n'empêche un industrialiste de procéder avec des agrandissements de son édifice et, l'année suivante, peut-être même six mois plus tard, demander pour faire reconnaître le 50 % qu'il aura fait construire en deux ou trois étapes qui va être exempté des redevances. Je dis, rendus à ce point-là deux ans ou trois ans, nous pouvons agrandir notre édifice de 100 % sur la grandeur actuelle et être exemptés de payer ces redevances.
Qu'adviendra-t-il aux services municipaux qui sont en place ? Souvent, nous devons voir à l'agrandissement de tuyaux maîtresses d'eaux, à l'agrandissement d'égouts sanitaires, à l'agrandissement d'égouts pluviaux, mais avec ce projet de loi la municipalité, tous les payeurs de taxes, seront appelés à défrayer les coûts.
Je sais que le gouvernement a reçu beaucoup de pression depuis le dépôt de ce projet de loi, qui était fait le 25 novembre 1996, voilà déjà plus qu'un an. Mais nous voyons la mairesse de Mississauga, Mme Hazel McCallion, qui avait dit, «Si le gouvernement veut mettre d'avant ce projet de loi, nous allons geler le développement au complet dans Mississauga.» Nous avons aussi le maire de Markham, M. Cousens, qui avait mentionné que ce projet de loi pourrait vouloir dire des augmentations de taxes municipales allant jusqu'à 31 %.
Nous nous apercevons que ce gouvernement, encore une fois, comme il l'a fait à plusieurs occasions, va trop vite. On ne prend pas le temps d'étudier les conséquences qui peuvent survenir.
Je regarde tous les points. Après le 24 mars 1997, nous avons eu des audiences publiques à Ottawa, à St Catharines et un peu partout dans la province. Mais le gouvernement a réalisé que vraiment il y aurait des conséquences majeures. Donc, le 24 mars, un communiqué avait été envoyé à tous les médias. On nous disait que le gouvernement regardait la possibilité d'apporter un amendement et de retirer le 10 % que toutes les municipalités étaient obligés de défrayer dans la construction de routes, dans l'installation de tuyaux d'eau, d'égout et tout ça. Le gouvernement est revenu sur ses positions à ce temps-là.
Les «développeurs» étaient tous enchantés de la position du gouvernement. Mais juste hier, nous avons rencontré les entrepreneurs de routes et ils nous ont dit : «Nous sommes très, très déçus de ce gouvernement. Il revient sur ses positions aussitôt qu'il y a des pressions.» Donc, le communiqué avait été émis le 24 mars 1997 et le 25 avril 1997 - un mois et un jour après l'émission de ce communiqué - le gouvernement a décidé de retirer cette responsabilité additionnelle qu'on avait donnée aux municipalités.
Maintenant c'est vrai que les municipalités n'auront pas à défrayer le 10 % des coûts de construction de routes, d'installation de tuyaux maîtresses d'eau, le câble, le téléphone, un peu de tout. Le téléphone, anciennement, était toujours payé par Bell Canada ou encore par les câblodistributeurs, mais aujourd'hui on nous a retirés.
La chose qui m'inquiète beaucoup, c'est que les municipalités, qui sont en pleine croissance - dont ma propre municipalité, Rockland, avec une croissance de 38,4 % de 1991 à 1996 - se voient dans l'obligation maintenant aussi avec les fusions des municipalités - nous regardons la possibilité de construire de nouveaux hôtels de ville, de nouvelles bibliothèque, mais les payeurs de taxe vont être obligés de défrayer le coût au complet. Aucun argent ne pourra prévenir les frais de développement ou les redevances qui auront été perçus par les «développeurs».
Cela inquiète beaucoup les gens et les municipalités. Le point que j'ai soulevé tout à l'heure, ça pourrait vouloir dire un manque à gagner de plusieurs milliers de dollars pour les municipalités parce que actuellement, avec les redevances qui sont en place, avec le projet de loi qui a été mis en place en 1989, les municipalités peuvent recourir aux frais de redevances pour toute unité additionnelle qu'on construit dans une maison.
Mais ce projet de loi va éliminer le pouvoir des municipalités d'aller chercher des redevances pour deux unités additionnelles ainsi que pour les développements industriels et commerciaux. Comme je l'ai dit tout à l'heure, nous pouvons jouer une «game» avec ça, comme on le dit souvent. On pourrait jouer un rôle en disant : «Oui, je vais agrandir mon industrie de 25 %, de 40 %. L'année prochaine, je vais l'agrandir d'un autre 40 % et je vais m'exempter de payer les frais de développement.»
Encore là, on dit toujours qu'on va donner la responsabilité aux municipalités. Mais toujours avec les mains liées, nous ne pouvons pas faire ce que nous voulons. Avec tout le délaissement que nous connaissons - en anglais nous disons «downloading» - depuis tout récemment, tôt hier matin même, j'ai appris que dans le passé les municipalités bénéficiaient de 75 % des revenus du programme de santé publique. Maintenant, on nous a dit qu'on va retirer le 75 % et que les municipalités vont payer 100 %.
J'ai trouvé dans une autre section aussi que le gouvernement payait 100 % pour certains services de santé publique. Maintenant, les responsabilités vont être à 100 % chez les municipalités.
Beaucoup de choses surviennent. Nous regardons la bibliothèque. Quelle municipalité peut se permettre une bibliothèque dans sa municipalité aujourd'hui ? C'est impossible. J'ai toujours dit qu'une municipalité sans bibliothèque, c'est une ville morte.
Je peux aussi dire qu'avec les coupures du projet de loi 160, nous allons avoir besoin plus que jamais dans toutes les municipalités des bibliothèques puisque les conseils scolaires ne pourront plus donner les services de bibliothèques à la journée longue, 16 heures par jour. Nous allons avoir recours aux services de bibliothèques municipaux. Mais avec ce projet de loi, encore là on enlève tout pouvoir aux municipalités d'aller chercher les fonds nécessaires afin de défrayer les coûts de construction de bibliothèques.
Je sais que mon temps est presque écoulé, mais avant d'arriver avec la troisième lecture - nous sommes en ce moment à discuter en troisième lecture - on doit revenir, comme nous l'avons fait à quelques reprises, sur les positions afin de s'assurer que le secteur rural est aussi bien servi que le secteur urbain.
The Speaker: Questions and comments.
Ms Martel: I thank the member for Prescott and Russell for his comments here this afternoon. He is quite correct. You have to look at Bill 98, frankly, as just an extension of the download that this current government is also proceeding with. It's very clear that on January 1 municipalities are going to have to assume a whole set of new responsibilities for new services and the associated costs. Those costs will include increased costs for social assistance, public transit, social housing, child care, ambulance services, ferry services, some provincial highways, and on and on the list goes.
Despite whatever the Minister of Municipal Affairs has tried to say to municipal leaders across the province, the fact is in my community, and every other, this is not revenue-neutral. The regional municipality of Sudbury is looking at a $48-million increase in costs as a direct result of what this Conservative government is doing. They do not remain convinced by any stretch that any of the funds the government has talked about, around which the government has refused to provide any criteria for those who want to apply, are going to help them either on a short- or long-term basis.
Added on to all of those costs, which municipalities right across the province are going to have to deal with beginning January 1, we now have this bill which now says that municipalities will have to pick up 10% of the costs of new development in new areas for libraries, recreation centres etc.
I ask people who are watching, how is a municipality like mine, which is already going to be hit with a $48-million increase as of January 1, ever going to be able to afford in those new areas to try and provide those services which really are an important part of the community? The fact is that my municipality and every other won't. This is just one more extension, one more download by this government, and the people who are going to benefit are the developers because there's no guarantee in the bill that they're going to lower the cost of housing as a result of these reduced development charges costs.
Mr Parker: I listened with considerable interest to the comments from my friend from Prescott and Russell. I did my best to listen to them in the original French. I had trouble keeping up with his speed, but he spoke very clearly and I was able to follow most of his remarks.
I was particularly grateful for the light he cast on one point that has been raised in issue earlier today that has to do with the government attitude in bringing this bill forward. It was suggested by one commentator earlier this afternoon that this bill has been pushed through and that the minister has not been consulting adequately on the subject matter and has not listened to anyone's comments with respect to this bill. I'm very pleased my friend from Prescott and Russell has set the record straight on that matter because what I heard him say is that the bill has gone through many changes over the course of time since it was introduced in the fall of 1996.
What I heard my friend from Prescott and Russell say was that as different groups have met with the minister and applied their particular perspective, the bill has been adjusted and amended, and the thinking behind it and the thinking in the ministry and the policy development and underpinnings of the bill have been adjusted, have grown and have developed themselves in response to the advice that has been received from these various groups.
I think that quite accurately reflects the history this bill has followed over the year it has been in the works since it was introduced. It has been a matter of consultation, of meeting with different groups, of hearing their concerns and trying to address those concerns in the final draft of the bill.
The amount of development that is currently under way in this province shows that there is great optimism in this province for what benefits legislation such as this bill will bring to builders and to homeowners.
Mr Caplan: I would like to congratulate my colleague the member for Prescott-Russell for his very eloquent and insightful comments. Members more senior than I in this place know that the member is a former mayor, so his words should carry great weight in this assembly and I would hope that the Minister of Municipal Affairs would listen very intently to the words from the member. He has extensive municipal experience.
In fact, GTA-wide mayors commented on Bill 98 and set some principles which should be followed when you're going to make decisions regarding development charges. I want to let all members of the assembly understand what the mayors said.
They said, "New growth must continue to pay for itself," a very simple and very interesting and sensible proposal. They said, "Municipalities should have the right to establish, but be required to defend, reasonable, sustainable and cost-effective levels of services and to set the appropriate development charges to pay for those services." Under this piece of legislation they can't do that. The minister is going to micromanage that.
They said, "Development charges should be based on reasonably anticipated future levels of services and expenditures as determined by appropriate underlying studies." The minister cannot point to any underlying studies as the rationale for this bill. The mayors know their communities; they can.
The fourth principle was, "Development charge practices inconsistent with the spirit of the legislation are not supported by municipalities and should be dealt with accordingly." The fifth one was, "Development charge legislation must achieve a high degree of administrative simplicity." Simplicity? Bill 98 is so convoluted there is no simplicity.
The members would do well to listen to the advice of the -
The Speaker: Questions and comments.
Mr Silipo: Briefly, let me just express appreciation for the comments made by the member for Prescott-Russell. He pointed out very clearly and as thoroughly as one can in 10 minutes, which is all the time that was available to him, how this is linked very much to the rest of the downloading activity this government has undertaken and how what this is going to mean at the end of the day is that there will be people paying higher property taxes if current services are to be maintained; and that there won't be, as we've been saying all along, any guarantee that as a result of lower development charges people buying new homes will actually pay less than they're paying now.
There is no guarantee of those cost savings to developers being passed through, but on the other hand, as a result of the changes the government has made, there will still be some burden on the property taxpayers to pick up through the property taxes, many of the services like libraries, like community centres, that will be needed in the new growth areas. That is partly what continues to be very wrong about this bill and the general direction this government is taking.
The Speaker: The member has two minutes to respond.
Mr Lalonde: I'm going to give those two minutes in English. I commend the member for East York for having his earphone on while I was giving my speech in French, but I don't know if the minister had his earphone on.
Definitely this bill is going to have an impact on the rural municipalities. Most rural municipalities for many years were looking at the possibility of having development charges and finally they agreed to have development charges, but when they saw the clause I referred to in section 2, that you will not be able to charge for the second and third additional unit within your house and also anything under 50% of the expansion of your businesses - the people are in favour of not charging any additional expenses for the expansion of the businesses, but there is nothing in the bill that prevents someone from going ahead within two or three years to expand 100% his business or industrial.
There's another thing. The municipalities in the rural areas will have additional downloading because they will have no control over the development charges in a certain way, because the policies are going to be established by this government. I'm just looking at small Nation, the new amalgamation of four municipalities which became Nation. Their increase in taxes, which was in the paper yesterday, will be $2.1 million. I wonder if the minister is going to have a cheque written to this municipality for $2.1 million.
This is the effect of all those bills you are putting through, without consulting the rural areas, that could affect these small municipalities.
The Speaker: Further debate? Seeing none, Mr Gilchrist has moved third reading of Bill 98. Is it the pleasure of the House that the motion carry?
All those in favour please say "aye."
All those opposed please say "nay."
In my opinion, the ayes have it.
"Pursuant to standing order 28(g), I would like to request the vote on Bill 98 be deferred until December 8, 1997": the chief government whip.
It now being just past 6 of the clock, this House stands adjourned until 6:30 of the clock tonight.
The House adjourned at 1802.