Mr Eddy moved private member's notice of motion number 34:
That, in the opinion of this House, since there is playground equipment being purchased by municipalities, school boards, day care centres, and other provincially funded agencies that are frequented by children which does not have to meet any mandatory safety requirements; and
Since the Canadian Standards Association has developed a national standard of Canada for children's play spaces and equipment which is widely supported among Canadian manufacturers in the playground equipment industry and which is the only such safety standard in Canada; and
Since several Canadian manufacturers have spent considerable time and money to adhere to the standard; and
Since many foreign companies can and are selling their playground equipment products which do not meet the CSA standard; and Since the number of children admitted to hospitals with playground-related injuries has been rising in recent years;
Therefore, this House urges the government of Ontario to recognize the Canadian Standards Association's national standard CAN/CSA-Z614-M90 as the appropriate safety standard for playground equipment that is bought and sold in Ontario; and
To urge all Ontario municipalities, schools boards, day care centres, and other provincially funded agencies that use playground equipment to adhere to the national standard when buying playground equipment.
The Acting Speaker (Ms Margaret H. Harrington): Pursuant to standing order 96(c)(i), the honourable member has 10 minutes for his presentation. Following that, everyone will have a chance to debate, in rotation, for a total of 15 minutes for each party.
Mr Ron Eddy (Brant-Haldimand): It's with great pleasure that I rise to speak to this resolution, because I'm sure that it will get unanimous consent, approval, by all members of this House because of the importance of it.
I think that Canada is very well served in having a technical committee on children's play spaces and equipment, a committee of 22 members. At this time, I would advise that Mr Mike Jones, an official with the Toronto Board of Education who serves as chair of the committee, is present in the gallery and also another member of the committee, representing a manufacturer, Mike Hayward, is present.
There were 22 members who developed this standard, entitled A Guideline on Children's Playspaces and Equipment. It is being followed by some manufacturers and indeed required by some purchasers of playground equipment. But of course I want to draw attention that it goes much further than providing standards for equipment; it also provides standards for the assembly of equipment and structures in playgrounds and the construction thereof, and that is also most important.
I want to at this time too stress that nothing replaces adult supervision of children playing on playground equipment. However, kids will get hurt from time to time when they play, and this is a fact, as we are all aware. What we must do is to ensure that the chances of children getting seriously injured are reduced as much as possible, and certainly this is one way. I believe that the playground equipment that meets the CSA national standard for children's play spaces and equipment goes a long way to reduce the chance of injury, and therefore I'm appreciative of the fact that some manufacturers do follow it.
Last year in Mississauga, for instance, a tragic accident occurred when a young boy was strangled to death while playing on playground equipment in a condominium corporation complex. A loop in a rope that was affixed to the equipment was placed around his neck, which caused asphyxiation. The coroner's report recommended that all manufacturers of playground equipment sold and/or purchased for use in Canada meet the standards of the CSA guideline. I have a copy of that coroner's report for anyone who is interested in reading it at any time.
The statistics from Health and Welfare Canada indicate that 2,427 children to date have had playground-equipment-related injuries. This number comes from the Canadian hospitals injury reporting and prevention program, known commonly as CHIRP. This database began collecting information regarding these matters in April 1990. It collects and analyses data from emergency rooms of the 10 paediatric hospitals in Canada and five general hospitals and states that a majority of injuries occur in the five-to-nine age group. Indeed, that is not surprising to any of us when we know the activity of that particular age group of children.
Some 53% of injuries occur at public playgrounds, 42% occur at school playgrounds and the remaining 5% at day care and kindergarten playgrounds. I'm sure the operators of these playgrounds are most anxious to reduce injuries in playgrounds and on playground equipment, to the greatest possible extent.
With respect to the severity of injuries, the overall hospital admission rate for injuries reported in the CHIRP program is 4.2%. However, the admission rate for playground-related injuries is 8.9%. Therefore, the admission rate for playground-equipment-related injuries is more than double the CHIRP average.
Now, 55.8% of the injuries were caused by the ground. Therefore, the section of the standard regarding the surface materials for use under playground equipment is of particular importance, and that's no surprise to anyone who's here.
The equipment that was most commonly associated with injuries is climbing equipment, slides and swings. The important thing to keep in mind is not the sheer number of injuries but rather the patterns associated with these injuries. For example, there's a very serious pattern which indicates that the number of children admitted to hospital with playground-equipment-related injuries is more than double the average of cases reported by the federal government.
To give another example of the type of patterns we find, from April 1990 to May 1991 there were 59,520 injuries to children under 20 years old; 8,358, or 14%, occurred in playgrounds. Of the 8,358 injuries, there were 1,366, or 16.3%, kids who were injured as a direct result of the equipment on the playgrounds.
We've also been in contact with the Ontario trauma registry, which is funded by the Ontario Ministry of Health. This organization collects patient discharge information on approximately 85% of all acute care discharges in Canada. This data shows that from 1989 to March 31, 1993, there have been 4,337 admissions, rather than actual patients, to acute care hospitals in Ontario. Children treated in emergency rooms and then released are not covered by the data from the Ontario trauma registry.
I realize there are quite a few numbers there, but they're given to have members realize the large numbers who are affected across Canada.
An important thing to keep in mind is that this CSA standard, a national standard for Canada, that has been developed relates to the entire equipment industry and not just manufacturers of playground equipment.
The technical committee that worked on and produced this report and standard, that was formed to develop a standard, consists of representatives from the education system, the Canadian Institute of Child Health, the federal government, two provincial governments, the Ontario and Canadian parks associations, various playground manufacturers, the engineering industry, municipalities, hospitals and the Canadian Standards Association. There was very wide representation on the committee, there's no doubt about that. Therefore, the manufacturing sector is a small part of the ambit of the CSA.
With the recognition of this CSA standard comes the responsibility of the purchaser to recognize the upkeep and maintenance associated with CSA-approved materials. I can't overstress that; that's awfully important. We know every vehicle, every piece of equipment purchased does need maintenance or it does not continue to operate or be operated in the safe manner that it would be when it was originally purchased.
The costs of inspection and maintenance should be incorporated into the budget at the time of design, purchase of equipment and installation. The maintenance schedule must be strictly followed and a checklist is included in the standard.
I also want to bring into the debate the proposal of the city of North York. North York is recommending that the Ontario government develop mandatory requirements based on the Canadian standard for inclusion in the Ontario Building Code. This would include all public and private new and existing programs. I know many of us are concerned about the increasing number of restrictions, but it's in the name of safety, it's in the name of reducing injuries to children, so I think it's very important and I look forward to debate some time in the future.
At the present time, this resolution of course is requesting that the government adopt the standard and then see that all purchasers include the standard that affects at least the playground equipment in their tenders. I believe this is an important step in the prevention of injuries to children. Just because playground equipment is CSA-approved does not mean that parents should become too comfortable with allowing their kids to play, and of course that should never happen. The standard will not be effective if parents are not educated as to the potential dangers of leaving their kids unsupervised.
The Acting Speaker: The member's time has expired.
Mr Eddy: Thank you for the time that's been allotted to me on this important matter, Madam Speaker. ''' The Acting Speaker:''' Further debate? ''' Mr Allan K. McLean (Simcoe East)''': I'm pleased this morning to rise and participate in the debate with regard to ballot item number 41, this resolution with regard to the standards of playground equipment. I don't know anybody who would not support this resolution. I would have thought the ministry and the government could make these standards available by regulation, and I don't know of anybody who wouldn't agree with this resolution.
What the resolution really does is urge the government "to recognize the Canadian Standards Association's national standard CAN/CSA-Z614-M90 as the appropriate safety standard for playground equipment that is bought and sold in Ontario; and to urge all Ontario municipalities, school boards, day care centres and other provincially funded agencies that use playground equipment to adhere to the national standard when buying equipment."
This resolution focuses on the issue of the safety of our children, our youth, and I don't think anyone in this Legislature in good conscience could vote against an issue like that. But I certainly believe I want to get to the core of safety in our schools, and particularly this matter should be taken a step further. Really, what we should be dealing with is the violence in the Ontario school system when we look at the injuries.
The Metropolitan Toronto Police crime squad's estimate of 2,784 incidents of school violence logged last year may represent only half the actual number because so many go unreported. This resolution is bringing forward the very issue of the percentages the member has raised with regard to the public playground accidents and the percentages in the school playground accidents. I don't know of anybody who wouldn't support this.
But I want to talk a little bit about what my constituents have been telling me, that the time for action is long past when fully eight in 10 children tell surveys they've been exposed to some form of violence at school.
Everyone involved in education -- the administration, the teachers, the students, the trustees, the parents -- has the right to expect that the educational environment is safe.
I recently tabulated the results of a survey of my constituents and I'd like to share this information with you now because I believe it relates to the issue of safety in our schools. It's not directly related to what the member has brought forward, but it is safety in the schools with regard to what my constituents are telling me. The questionnaire I sent out had over 1,000 replies. These people took the time to respond to the questionnaire. The results suggest that our schools are not immune to what is happening elsewhere in society.
With respect to the Young Offenders Act, when I asked if there should be any differences between the treatment of adults and young criminals, 59% said no, 35% said yes and 6% were undecided.
When I asked the question, should there be changes made to the Young Offenders Act that would make it easier to transfer youth cases to adult court, 94% said yes and 6% said no.
When I asked if the age category of the Young Offenders Act should be changed, 42% said change to 10 years and under, 33% said change to 13 to 16 years and 25% said change to 11 to 13 years.
I asked the people if they feel as safe in their communities as they did five years ago: 65% said no, 35% said yes.
I asked if more resources should be devoted to policing in Ontario: 59% said yes, 12% said no and 29% were undecided.
I asked if the people believe the Crime Stoppers program is an effective tool to assist police in solving crimes: 94% said yes and 6% said no.
I asked if teachers should be given more authority to discipline students. Guess what the survey said to that question: 95% said yes and 5% said no.
I asked if standards should be set within the curriculum and if students in elementary and secondary schools should be regularly tested to make sure they are achieving these standards: 83% said yes, 11% said no and 6% were undecided.
As I said ea rlier, I believe my constituency survey indicates that our schools are not immune to what is happening elsewhere in society. It would not be fair to our trustees or to our teaching staff to suggest that we can or should take on this tremendous responsibility without the support of the parents, community leaders, law enforcement agencies and the whole network of social agencies.
I personally support in principle the policy statement of the Ontario Public School Boards' Association and the Ontario Separate School Trustees' Association, which adopts a zero tolerance policy towards violence in schools. This policy statement commits school boards, trustees, parents, staff, students, social and law enforcement agencies, colleges and universities, municipalities, community organizations and teacher organizations to enforce zero tolerance towards violence in schools. We should join with those involved in education to deal quickly and firmly with acts of violence and provide preventive programs to thwart the escalation of violence in schools. We all agree with the Minister of Education and Training when he said schools in Ontario should be safe places, places where students need only be concerned about learning.
This resolution this morning is dealing with safety in the school yard with regard to the equipment those students are allowed to use. As I said earlier, I don't think there's anybody here who wouldn't agree with the standard that's set and wouldn't agree that this government should adopt that standard. I don't think the resolution has to indicate to the government, I think the government can do it be regulation without having to debate this resolution here this morning.
I would sooner this morning if the member for Brant-Haldimand was talking about what's happening with GATT. Some of us are from the farming community. Some of us know what's happening in the country. Some of us know what's happening and is going to happen to our family farms.
When we look at the government of the day, the Minister for International Trade, Mr MacLaren, said this week that Canada has found no support for its position to preserve and strengthen the import quotas and may have to look at alternatives. I think that's a weak position to take to save the background and the agricultural community of this province.
The Acting Speaker: I would ask the member if he would relate his comments to this resolution, please.
Mr McLean: I think this time in the morning I could relate my comments directly to the resolution and I can talk about some of the other issues that are pertaining to the resolution, and I think I am. If there's something I'm not saying that I should be saying, I wish the Speaker could maybe tell me what it should be, because this is a free time in the morning that we debate resolutions.
I've already spoken of what I think of the resolution. I said I'm supporting the resolution. I think it could have been done by the government. So what more do you want me to talk about, other than the issues I'm raising here, and talking about some of the issues that affect my riding and the violence in schools that is related to violence in the playground areas of the schools? The member has given the statistics and some of the points of view relating to it, which I agree with. Do you want me to repeat them or not? I think this morning my 15 minutes are allotted to deal with the issues that are before the people of this province and I believe I am doing that.
We all know the minister's recent school violence initiatives sometimes, we think, lack real teeth. There must be ministry order and enforced rules for province-wide violence in schools, and we also must realize the problem we have with regard to the playground equipment that is not up to standard, and we support that.
Mr Noel Duignan (Halton North): First of all, I would like to say that the government appreciates the honourable member's concerns over safety in relation to playground equipment found in parks and school yards and day care centres and co-ops and non-profit housing. Anywhere you look in this province, you'll find playground equipment throughout Ontario.
Public safety is always a very important issue and priority for this government. Nowhere is it more evident, in my opinion, than the Ministry of Consumer and Commercial Relations. As parliamentary assistant to MCCR, I can tell you that the ministry's technical standards division has an international reputation for promoting the highest standards in safety in the areas it regulates, whether it's from elevators all the way to pressure vessels. Very recently, we just signed an agreement with the People's Republic of China on that issue, and we are recognized internationally for it.
I know the honourable member for Brant-Haldimand is well aware that playground equipment is not regulated by MCCR, nor by any other government body in Canada. It becomes very difficult to regulate something that's not regulated anywhere else in Canada.
We believe the voluntary guidelines covering children's play spaces and equipment recently developed by the Canadian Standards Association significantly enhance the safety of children using that playground equipment. I would draw the member's attention to a letter written by the minister to the honourable member, dated August 10 of this year, which states:
"The Canadian Standards Association (CSA) has developed voluntary guidelines which significantly enhance the safety of children using playground equipment. MCCR supports the guidelines and would encourage all purchasers of playground equipment to obtain a copy from the CSA. Schools, municipalities, day care centres and consumers should be made aware of the inherent dangers of poorly designed and constructed equipment."
Historically, the CSA has developed some of the world's most stringent codes and standards, including those for elevating devices. This widely respected standard-setting body has long been a major force in ensuring safe products for all Canadians. When you think about it at this time of year, when a lot of the major purchasing is done as we lead up to the Christmas season, we don't have to look any farther than, for example, your indoor lights or your outdoor lights for Christmas or even in fact your children's toys during the holiday season to gauge the impact the CSA has made on product safety. The CSA tests and certifies many of the electrical items you might choose as a present or for decorations in your home over this holiday time. A wide range of products, from electrical trains to race car sets to microwave ovens, TVs, VCRs etc, as well as the lights you use at Christmas time that dress up your Christmas tree etc all bear the mark of the CSA standard. This famous CSA logo means that a manufacturer has submitted samples of the products for testing and the products have met its safety standard and/or the performance requirements of that standard.
The ministry respects the CSA's commitment to high standards for safety and supports its national standard for playground equipment, a safety standard which is widely supported by manufacturers of this equipment in Canada. Again I draw the honourable members' attention to the same letter, written August 10, which states:
"You state in your letter that Paris Playground Equipment Inc" -- and I'm very familiar with this particular company, as I had dealings with it in my former life -- "is manufacturing its products to CSA standards and I believe this presents the company with a terrific marketing opportunity. I would encourage your constituent to work with the Canadian Standards Association in marketing his products through the education of consumers on the importance of purchasing goods meeting CSA standards.
We encourage everyone looking to purchase playground equipment to obtain a copy of these guidelines from the CSA. Everyone, whether you're a teacher looking to buy equipment for a day care centre or a parent shopping for a swing set for your children at Christmas, should be aware of the dangers of very poorly designed and constructed equipment.
I know the CSA has launched a very effective information campaign on this subject and published a very helpful booklet that will help guide anyone considering the purchase of playground equipment. I believe it's entitled the CSA and The Consumer: Making Playgrounds Safer.
The problem in developing standards is that when you look at the number of playgrounds that already exist in Ontario today -- and there are literally thousands of them across this province, whether they're in the parks here in Toronto or the parks in your home community or whether it's in a co-op or non-profit or wherever -- the cost to government and to industry and to the consumers themselves to establish these standards and this undertaking would certainly be very punitive and lead to very high costs.
Also, I believe it would be virtually unenforceable, as there are too many variables in this particular field such as equipment and the supervision of that equipment and the children involved in it. I mean, what would you have to do? Would you have to fence off all the various playgrounds you have in Toronto or in your home community make sure that before children can play on this playground equipment, you have to have supervision of that equipment?
In summary, we believe that an informed and educated public is the most effective way to ensure the safety of our children when using playground equipment. The educated public has led to the high standards of the CSA, because the consumer is a very educated person when going out to purchase equipment, whether it's a VCR or a television or indeed playground equipment. If that product doesn't meet standards, they are quick to let the manufacturer know that. That's what has led to the high standards of the CSA.
I support and appreciate the honourable member bringing forward this resolution today, but we believe the most effective way of dealing with this issue is through the voluntary guidelines established by the CSA over the years for this product and indeed a range of products across this country.
Mr Dalton McGuinty (Ottawa South): I want to at the outset congratulate heartily my colleague the member for Brant-Haldimand for bringing forward what I feel is a very important resolution.
The element that I find particularly attractive to this resolution is that it is inherently a pro-children resolution. I find that all too often, children, notwithstanding the words that we utter in this House on a regular basis, really are left behind. I have personally introduced a couple of bills which I contended were pro-children. One was the children's anti-smoking bill; another was one which would have reduced the amount of time which we evict our children from our schools when adults fight over money.
However, I want to focus on my colleague's resolution and why I find it so important. I think that as legislators, the wellbeing and safety of our children in this province ought to be one of our most important concerns, and that when there are competing interests with those children, the children's ought to be given priority.
I have some limited experience in terms of kids and playing. First of all, as one of 10 children, eight children younger than myself, I had the opportunity to witness from an older age all the kinds of things that kids tend to get into.
In one particular experience I recall, we were skiing and my younger sister was on the chair lift, on the chair in front of me. She had a long scarf on. It came time to get off the chair lift and her scarf remained stuck in the chair. She was literally hanging by her neck in the air as the chair lift turned around and started to progress down the hill. Fortunately, these operations are well attended and the chair was stopped and she was removed from that in short order.
Another example, and I have four children of my own: My daughter stuck her head, in some way which I'll never understand, between two metal rungs which form part of a fence. I literally had to pry those bars apart in order to extricate her head from that. Another example: My boys are constantly for some reason throwing a rope over a tree in order to climb up. You can get carried away in terms of preventing kids from getting into fun, but the point I'm trying to make is it's reasonably foreseeable that children are going to get into all kinds of problems in their effort to have fun and enjoy themselves.
Let's consider this issue of playground equipment. It is specifically designed for children to play on it. It is designed to attract them. It is designed to invite them. It is designed to entertain them. Kids from 18 months and up, a year and a half and older, want to climb up on these darned things; they want to jump down. They want to swing on them. They want to slide down. They want to have fun. Let's recognize that. There's an element of danger in all of that. I don't think anybody here can reasonably expect that we're going to somehow eliminate all the dangers associated with playground equipment, but what I think the CSA standards do is place some kind of reasonable limitation on the element of risk associated with playground equipment.
For instance, one of the things I learned as a result of reading through my colleague's material, which I must say is very impressive in terms of the amount of work he has put into this, is that there is no standard in place which people who purchase the equipment or manufacturers are required to meet in terms of the surface which is found beneath the equipment. As you might expect, most kids who hurt themselves on the playground equipment do so when they fall, and there is no standard in place governing the surface underneath the playground equipment.
I learned that a child can sustain a fractured skull from a fall of as little as 20 inches on a very hard surface like concrete. I also learned that they can cause the same type of damage if they're only 30 inches off the ground on hard-packed ground. If they fall and their head hits hard-packed ground, they could sustain a very serious injury indeed. The CSA standards talk specifically about what they call impact-absorbing surfaces, and quite rightly, I think. That goes into things like the kinds of material you can place below the playground equipment. That can be sand, something called pea gravel, wood chips or synthetic material of some kind or another, all of which are designed to ensure that when kids fall, and they surely will, they will sustain, I think, the least amount of injury reasonably possible.
For a resolution of this nature, of course, there will always be opponents. Some will argue that there are going to be additional costs associated with meeting these standards. Some may even argue that somehow there's going to be job loss associated with this kind of resolution if it is indeed passed and implemented by the government. Those are probably to some extent some legitimate concerns, but again, going back to what I said at the outset, I think when we're dealing with interests here which compete with the safety and welfare of our children, we have to give priority to the interests of our children.
Oddly enough, they don't come together and organize and lobby us in this House. I have never had a call, and I'm sure you haven't, from some child representing another group of children asserting the rights of that particular group. I think we have a special obligation as legislators to look out for those who are not able to look out for themselves. That's why I feel this resolution is so very important.
The parliamentary assistant to the Minister of Consumer and Commercial Relations suggests that by making these CSA standards voluntary and by publicizing that, that will somehow fill the bill, and that we need not concern ourselves otherwise. I disagree strongly with that. I think, for one thing, that when my kids attend a playground, they're just not going to be able to tell the difference between a CSA-approved structure and one that is not CSA-approved. In fact, I won't know the difference myself. I think that is completely unacceptable.
Again, for the reasons that I've given throughout, when it comes to the interests of our children, they must be given priority. I am generally very concerned about putting into place additional regulations which will further impair the ability of our manufacturers to compete not only internally but without the province as well. However, I make an exception when it comes to the interests of our children.
I want to second something that my colleague said, and I think this is very important as well. At the end of the day, these structures must be supervised either by parents or guardians, whoever has the children in their care. Particularly younger children must be supervised when they're playing on these structures, and it would be irresponsible for me to suggest otherwise.
Unfortunately, we have already had some tragedies associated with the use of playground equipment, and I would submit that many of those are foreseeable. Some have been associated with kids with ropes, having ropes on the structure, and I think others were associated with children's clothing.
There was a coroner's inquest held in the case of one of these tragedies. I have in my prior life acted on coroner's inquests, and people should understand that this is an opportunity for people to receive expert evidence, to properly consider the issues at hand and to come up with some very sound recommendations. So that coroner's jury made some very sound recommendations, I feel, in connection with that particular tragedy, the death of that five-year-old. They specifically recommended that we adopt CSA standards.
Let's remember what it is that my colleague is asking for here. He is merely asking that the government adopt a policy, put in place a policy, that if you are going to do business with this government, you have to abide by the CSA standards. Furthermore, if we're going to fund you, if you're going to receive money from us -- you're one of our transfer partners and you're going to do business with somebody else -- then we're going to attach a certain condition to that, which is that if you're getting into the business of purchasing playground equipment, that it be CSA-approved. I think that is eminently reasonable.
Mr Daniel Waters (Muskoka-Georgian Bay): I'd like to take this opportunity to join my colleague the parliamentary assistant to the Minister of Consumer and Commercial Relations in supporting the Canadian Standards Association's new guidelines for playground equipment. I agree these voluntary guidelines developed by the CSA go a long way in making sure the swings, slides and other playground equipment our children enjoy are well built and safe for use.
I'd like for a moment to return to my last sentence, though, and explain the meaning of "voluntary guidelines" somewhat. The CSA has different degrees of standards. I've also worked in an industry, the electrical industry, where it is a mandatory requirement to have a CSA standard, which is their strictest, which means that you cannot sell your product without having a CSA approval sticker on it. Then they have other levels that go right down, and the bottom end of it is the voluntary guidelines, which is asking people to consider the advantages of having CSA-approved equipment, in this case in their playgrounds. But I want to also make very clear that in the information I've managed to get together for this, I have found that CSA does not certify playground equipment. It is strictly a voluntary set of guidelines.
I think everyone in the House is well aware of the fact that all three parties in this House came together on bicycle helmets and all three parties asked for and in fact required not the other two types of certification, but indeed CSA, because we all recognize CSA as being a standard above and beyond when it comes to safety.
Mr Eddy: Mandatory.
Mr Waters: The member for Brant-Haldimand talks about mandatory. Well, it is not mandatory under voluntary guidelines. It is not mandatory. It is only mandatory in certain industries such as electrical equipment. In the bicycle helmets, we are saying mandatory. We are definitely saying that our children's heads are that important, and the brainpower that is going to be protected within those helmets.
I'm also pleased to learn that the manufacturers of this type of equipment support the CSA. I believe it's a win-win situation, for the consumer and for the domestic playground equipment manufacturer. For example, the municipal employee who buys playground equipment from a manufacturer displaying the CSA label can take comfort in the fact that it has met the recognized high standards, as I said before, of CSA.
On the other hand, manufacturers selling playground equipment that meets the guidelines can use the CSA designation as an excellent marketing tool, I believe. As I keep coming back to, it is recognized throughout our society the quality that is meant when you have a CSA stamp of approval on your merchandise.
I know the playground equipment manufacturer in the honourable member's riding home town of Paris is manufacturing his products to those standards. I congratulate them for that and encourage that manufacturer to work with CSA to take advantage of the marketing opportunity that represents. Marketing one's products by educating consumers on the importance of purchasing goods meeting CSA standards is not only socially responsible but good business as well. I think there's probably more education that has to go on with the buyers from the different organizations about what "CSA" means. Not everyone out there in the buying public for the different agencies or municipalities are aware of what it means, and I think we have to do some more education on the topic. I join my colleague from Halton North in encouraging prospective buyers of playground equipment to obtain those facts on CSA before purchasing these products.
We ask our children to practise safety first when using playground equipment. That must also be our prime consideration when we as consumers buy these products: to ensure that the equipment our kids are playing on is the best and safest possible.
But I would also like to talk a bit about some of the problems. I'm curious, and I would ask the member for Brant-Haldimand if he could answer: What do we do with the existing playground equipment that's out there? I can tell you, in my riding right now there is a small community in a very rural area that is scraping together a few dollars and calling in a lot of favours from people within that community to come together to create a playground. They're not going to go to the formal municipality to get this equipment. So how do we encourage these people to, if not buy the equipment if they can't afford it, ensure that the playground they are creating comes to a certain standard?
I think that happens all over rural Ontario in particular, because we have a problem. It's also in urban Ontario, but we're not as well organized and right now we have a problem of finances.
I'd like to wrap up on three points. Once again, I'd like to go back to the fact that we recognize the important contribution of safety standards in providing safe areas for children to play in. We recognize that CSA is the appropriate organization to determine the content and applicability of safety standards for playground equipment and playscapes, but I think we have a problem. The province is not in a position to enforce compliance or adherence. At the same time, we urge all Ontario providers of playgrounds and playscapes to become familiar with the standard Z614-M90, which is the standard for playground equipment, and to give careful consideration to the guidelines when buying and installing equipment and while operating playgrounds
I also would like to ask the member if there's been any thought given to what happens after the equipment's installed; the upkeep of the equipment and how we're going to deal with that, or, let's say, the ground it's put on, making sure the ground underneath it is safe. Is that going to be something the member also wants us to recognize?
With that, I thank you, Madam Speaker, and I thank the member for bringing this forward. I think it's a very important topic. It's a topic about our children.
Mr Steven Offer (Mississauga North): I am pleased to join in this very important debate in support of the resolution put forward by the honourable member for Brant-Haldimand. I hope that in the time permitted I'll be able to deal with all the areas that I believe should garner the support of this Legislature.
I think we have to realize that what this resolution is recommending is that the government of Ontario urge municipalities, school boards, day care centres and other provincially funded agencies to comply with the CSA national standard when purchasing playground equipment.
The honourable member for Brant-Haldimand has gone on to say that playground equipment that is bought and sold in Ontario currently does not have to meet any mandatory safety standards. It is surprising that this playground equipment is not required to adhere to the CSA national standard. Speaking as a parent, I believe every parent in this province would be aghast, taken aback, to recognize that the playground equipment their children are using does not have to meet certain national standards. I believe it is something which should warrant the support of this Legislature. I believe -- and as I've indicated, I speak as a parent -- that all who allow their children to play in playgrounds, whether they're municipally run, whether at schools or whatever, just assume that of course this equipment meets some standard and would be extremely surprised that it just isn't the case.
A resolution of this kind sends out a message that in this province that type of equipment should meet some minimum standards; that there should be some regard to the equipment in terms of handrails, in terms of whether there are any head traps, whether there are any dangerous hooks, whether there are any sharp edges, in terms of its condition, the access children have to the particular equipment and maybe some general standards of rules for the kids.
To me, this is a resolution that is founded on some common sense. We are asking the government and, through the government, the Ministry of Consumer and Commercial Relations, to take some action in this area. We're talking about a ministry that currently has responsibility for something over 80 statutes. They're responsible for birth certificates, they're responsible for marriage certificates, they're responsible for death certificates. They have regulations that deal with stuffed dolls. They have regulations that deal with upholstery and how upholstery should be stuffed. They have regulations that deal with gambling. They have regulations that deal with liquor, beer and wine. They have regulations that deal with bungee cords. They have regulations that deal with amusement parks. The list goes on and on and on. But there is no action, no regulation the ministry will take with respect to the particular equipment that our children play with day in and day out, especially through the summer months.
The commonsense aspect to all of this is that if there is equipment in existence that meets certain nationally recognized standards, then that's the type of equipment that should be in our playgrounds. The government has a responsibility, as it has a responsibility for birth certificates and marriage certificates and death certificates and bungee cording and amusement parks, and the list goes on and on. If they are responsible for dealing with how a sofa is to be stuffed and how a doll is to be created, then surely that responsibility should extend to the types of slides and swings and all those other things that kids play with in amusement parks.
The resolution by the honourable member is founded on common sense. I know the member has done an incredible amount of work; he has documented the terrible tragedies that have occurred because we don't have these types of standards. We are asking in this resolution that the government embrace the CSA standard so that our playgrounds are safe for our children, so that the issues around the safety of that equipment is one which the government has taken charge of. As a parent myself, I believe parents across this province are supportive of this resolution, and I hope that members of the government will stand in their place one by one and support what is an eminently reasonable resolution.
The Acting Speaker: The member's time has expired. Further debate? I'm afraid the member for Simcoe East has already spoken to this resolution. The member for Brant-Haldimand has two minutes to respond.
Mr Eddy: It's not nearly enough, Madam Speaker, but I appreciate that I have that amount of time.
I won't respond to the various speakers for their comments, but I do appreciate the fact that the members for Simcoe East and Halton North and Ottawa South and Mississauga North, I believe, have spoken to the matter, I think in all cases endorsing the resolution.
The resolution is about as simple as it can be. Really, I would have liked to have gone a lot further. I think it should be mandatory safety guidelines for equipment; it is for most other things. As a farmer, I can assure you how much farmers appreciate the safety features that have been into equipment, and certainly equipment that's there can be upgraded. I don't think we should worry about the cost of upgrading or improving some piece of equipment that's dangerous, if children are using it. I know cost is always a factor, but this is simply urging the government -- I think the government members have said they recognize the standards; I don't think there's a problem there -- to urge all Ontario municipalities, school boards, day care centres and other provincially funded agencies that use playground equipment to adhere to the national standard when buying playground equipment.
Now, there are many other important facets. There's the maintenance of such equipment, there's the installation and assembly of such equipment, and indeed there's the matter of the ground surface, as the member for Ottawa South has mentioned; many other matters to do with the operation of the playground facility. It's also, in addition to the safety of children, to reduce the legal liability that operators of such playgrounds face today. It's becoming a very costly item; insurance is important. So it's liability as well.
The Acting Speaker: Thank you. The time for this ballot item has expired. It will be dealt with further and decided at 12 noon.
Long debate on kidney dialysis and then returns to this:
PLAYGROUND EQUIPMENT SAFETY
Mr Ron Eddy (Brant-Haldimand): On a point of order, Mr Speaker: It was not my intention to mislead the House in the resolution I presented, but as a result of further information that's come forward since the resolution was printed, I find it necessary to correct paragraphs 3 and 4 of the preamble.
Paragraph 3 says, "Since several Canadian manufacturers" etc. That should read, "Since several Canadian and foreign manufacturers". Paragraph 4 says, "Since many foreign companies" and should say, "Since some Canadian and foreign companies". That is the result of further information.
The Deputy Speaker (Mr Gilles E. Morin): Is there unanimous consent that we make this correction? Agreed.
The time provided for private members' public business has expired. We will deal first with ballot item number 41 standing in the name of Mr Eddy. If any members are opposed to a vote on this ballot item, will they please rise.
Mr Eddy has moved private member's resolution number 34. Is it the pleasure of the House that the motion carry? I declare the motion carried.