Ted Arnott, MPP
Wellington – Halton Hills
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
October 3, 2016
Arnott seeks answers on groundwater concerns
(Queen’s Park) – The Provincial Government’s promised review on large-volume water taking
permits, including those sought by water bottling companies, remains uncertain and calls out
That’s the conclusion that Wellington-Halton Hills MPP Ted Arnott drew after raising the issue
with the Premier during Question Period at Queen’s Park on October 3rd.
“Will the Premier inform the House how this will unfold? Will there be public consultations? Will
interested groups and individuals be invited to make comments? Will municipalities be
included? Will they release the recommendations before Cabinet makes final decisions? How
will the Minister (of the Environment) be able to do all this by December? And does the
Government plan to use this issue as a cash grab to pay for its out of control spending?” Mr.
The Premier replied with vague assurance there would be some public consultations
associated with the review, but her answer lacked details.
Mr. Arnott’s follow-up question to the Premier urged the Minister of the Environment to meet
with Centre Wellington Township Mayor Kelly Linton to discuss the Township’s concerns. Mr.
Arnott also reiterated his view that groundwater needs to be protected, decisions on permits
should be science-based, and any increases in provincial taxes or fees on water bottling plants
should be substantially shared with the municipalities in which they are located.
The Premier referred this question to the Minister of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs, who
seemed to be taken by surprise. His answer did not directly address the points Mr. Arnott had
“The Government absolutely must clarify these issues,” the veteran MPP concluded. “Many
people in our Riding continue to fear that the Minister of Environment isn’t doing enough to
protect our groundwater, especially over the longer term.”
(Attached: the Hansard record of Mr. Arnott’s questions and the responses of the Premier and
the Minister of Agriculture, Food, and Rural Affairs)
– 30 –
Ontario Hansard – 03-October2016
Mr. Ted Arnott: My question is for the Premier. The Premier has given the Minister of the Environment
a mandate to “report back in fall 2016 on options to reform the regulatory process for permits to take
water for water bottling purposes” and “work with the Minister of Finance on pricing options for water
takings for bottled water in Ontario.”
Will the Premier inform the House how this will unfold? Will there be public consultations? Will
interested groups and individuals be invited to make comments? Will municipalities be included? Will
they release the recommendations before the cabinet makes final decisions? How will the minister be able
to do all this before December? And does the government plan to use this issue as a cash grab to pay for
its out-of-control spending?
Hon. Kathleen O. Wynne: I know the Minister of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs is going to want
to comment, but I just want to reiterate what I said this morning when I was asked by the media, which is
this: I believe that it is very important to have consultations. So on the question of consultations,
absolutely, we need to have input from people around the province on our most precious natural resource,
which is water.
Because Ontario has such an enormous gift of clean water, we need to be impeccable stewards of that
water, so we do need to have a consultation. In the meantime, Mr. Speaker, there are some pressing issues
around permits that have been extended, permits that need to be dealt with, and so we need to take some
actions in the immediate term. But does there need to be a broader conversation? Absolutely.
The Speaker (Hon. Dave Levac): Supplementary?
Mr. Ted Arnott: The mayor of the township of Centre Wellington is seeking a meeting with the Minister
of the Environment to discuss their current situation regarding the Middlebrook property and Nestlé
Waters’s interest in it. I hope the Premier will direct the minister to meet with Mayor Kelly Linton.
We continue to maintain that our groundwater is essential to the future of our communities and it must be
protected. We need to continue to take a science-based approach to whether or not permits are granted,
taking into account the long-term growth plans of communities. Three weeks ago, on September 12, I
tabled a private member’s resolution stating my position that any increase in provincial taxes or fees for
water-bottling companies must be substantially shared with the municipalities in which they’re located.
Will the Premier commit to this House that municipalities will receive a fair share of any increases
charged to the water-bottling companies?
Hon. Kathleen O. Wynne: Minister of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs.
Hon. Jeff Leal: I want to thank the member from Wellington–Halton Hills for the supplementary.
Particularly with this past summer, with drought conditions experienced by many of our farmers across
Ontario, we do know that water is a precious resource and we must balance the needs of all Ontarians,
including consumers and farmers, with requests from businesses. Achieving this balance, Mr. Speaker,
coupled with taking climate change events into consideration, of course, is this government’s goal.
This is an important issue for Ontarians from every part of this province. We want to make sure that we
address it by taking a rational, evidence-based approach that responds to community concerns. We are
looking at this more closely from a provincial-wide perspective and will be making an announcement
soon on next steps. Mr. Speaker, I heard this from many of the participants that were at the International
Plowing Match in the county of Wellington a few short weeks ago.