35th Parliament, 1st Session

The House met at 3 pm.

His Honour the Lieutenant Governor, having entered the chamber, took his seat upon the throne.

Hon Mr Alexander: Pray be seated.

The Speaker: May it please Your Honour, the Legislative Assembly has elected me as their Speaker, though I am but little able to fulfil the important duties thus assigned to me. If, in the performance of those duties, I should at any time fall into error, I pray that the fault may be imputed to me and not to the assembly whose servant I am and who, through me, the better to enable them to discharge their duty to their Queen and country, hereby claim all their undoubted rights and privileges, especially that they may have freedom of speech in their debates, access to your person at all reasonable times and that their proceedings may receive from you the most favourable consideration.

Hon Miss Martel: Mr Speaker, I am commanded by His Honour the Lieutenant Governor to declare to you that he freely confides in the duty and attachment of the assembly to Her Majesty's person and government, and, not doubting that the proceedings will be conducted with wisdom, temperance and prudence, he grants and upon all occasions will recognize and allow the constitutional privileges. I am commanded also to assure you that the assembly shall have ready access to His Honour upon all suitable occasions and that their proceedings, as well as your words and actions, will constantly receive from him the most favourable consideration.

His Honour the Lieutenant Governor was pleased to open the session with the following gracious speech.


Hon Mr Alexander: Mr Speaker, members of the Legislative Assembly, ladies and gentlemen:

I have the honour of welcoming you to the opening of the first session of the 35th Parliament of the province of Ontario.

It gives me particular pleasure to welcome those of you who are sitting as members of this Legislature for the first time. It is also a pleasure to see that so many of the new members are women and that the executive council of my new government includes more women than any cabinet in the history of Canada.

As a group of people accustomed to being on the outside of the established power structures in Ontario, my government will open Queen's Park to those who have never before had an effective voice in the corridors of power. It is a government that will listen to the people and respond to their needs to the best of its ability.

All of us in Ontario know that we are facing many challenges: an economy in recession; growing inequity; an environment where the air, land and water are increasingly polluted, and rising concern about Canada's future.

These challenges demand a new vision for Ontario, one which provides for a decent quality of life for all of us. We must build a society in which all Ontarians can achieve the best of which they are capable, have genuine access to education, culture, training and jobs and receive fair treatment from its institutions.


En assumant ses fonctions, le gouvernement sait qu'il doit répondre à des aspirations élevées, mais il ne sera pas possible de satisfaire toutes les attentes. Le gouvernement n'en accepte pas moins son mandat avec confiance et enthousiasme. Il dirigera la province avec énergie et ambitionne de lui donner un élan jamais vu auparavant.

This speech is about principles. But it is also about the realities that must guide our decisions. Wealth must be created as well as shared. We must be more creative about ensuring that new wealth and opportunity can grow in Ontario.

However, politics is about far more than what we can all get: It is also about what we owe each other. Too many people have been left out and need to be included. The values of community and solidarity have been undermined and ignored. Quite simply, there is too much poverty and inequality in Ontario.

My government's first challenge is to earn the trust and respect of the people of Ontario. My government's integrity will be measured by the way this government is run and our relations with the people we serve. Our task is to guard against institutional arrogance and the abuse of power wherever they exist.

We will set clear standards of behaviour for the conduct of ministers, members of the Legislature and senior government officials. These standards will be developed in consultation with the other parties in the Legislature.

We will introduce "whistle blowing" guidelines to protect public employees who make public information on illegal or unethical behaviour. We will also recognize our employees' right to participate in political activities in the same way as any other citizen.

We will introduce legislation on conflict of interest at both provincial and municipal levels.

We will establish measures to ensure more fairness in appointments to government agencies, boards and commissions.

We must create a greater sense of integrity in the work of government. We are under no illusions that this is easy, since the public remains distrustful of governments and other large institutions. It is our job to address that cynicism and to overcome it. When my government makes mistakes, it will admit them.

Recessions hurt people. In Ontario, we are struggling against high interest rates, an overvalued dollar, the free trade agreement and unfair taxes.

Early in this session, the Treasurer will present a statement reviewing the province's economic outlook. It will include the immediate allocation of $700 million for necessary maintenance and renovation of public sector facilities. These projects are ready to begin within the next several months. They will create critically needed jobs now. These funds will help address another serious problem my government has inherited -- the accumulation of many years of inadequate financing of public infrastructure.

The recession has not fallen evenly either on people or on regions and communities. Across the north, single-industry towns are vulnerable. In southwestern Ontario and eastern Ontario, our industrial and agricultural bases are being battered. Central Ontario's tourism and renewable resource industries are hurting. We will work with the communities of these regions to seek ways by which all of the province benefits from sustainable economic development. In the immediate future, newly funded maintenance and renovation projects will have a positive impact throughout the whole province.

In working to meet our economic challenges, both during the recession and afterwards, all of us must become open to change and adjustment. But we must ensure that the burden of change does not fall solely upon workers and communities. A fairer and more democratic economy must share both the benefits and the burdens of change arising from the time of major economic adjustment in which we live.

To begin this transformation, my government will introduce in this session a number of measures to protect workers during this period of economic restructuring. It will introduce a wage protection fund for the workers of bankrupt companies. It will introduce support for labour adjustment committees in industries affected by dislocation. It will introduce stronger measures on layoff notice, severance and other adjustment issues.

Our goal is to foster a society where economic change will not mean a dramatic loss of income or self-esteem. Our goal for the future is a society in which change signals new opportunities for people and their communities. We will be guided by the belief that the democratic principles shared by all Ontarians must be extended throughout the economy. For this reason, we will ensure that workers can freely exercise their right to organize.

We will work with all the partners in the economy on the design and implementation of Ontario's laws, programs and tax system. Workers and governments have a profound stake in a more efficient economy that can make and sell goods and services at home and around the world.

Global trading relationships, the ways of organizing and conducting our work, the kinds of knowledge and skills our workers require -- all these things are being transformed. My government recognizes that Ontario must compete in a worldwide marketplace. We need to develop stronger links with other jurisdictions.

As social democrats, my government believes in the need for a new relationship and respect among all the forces in the Ontario economy -- labour, business, community organizations, government -- so we can begin to work better together to achieve our common goals. New ways of co-operating will be needed. My government is determined to build a consensual, environmentally responsible economic strategy for the 21st century.

We must look beyond the recession and build a sound recovery. We must be more creative to help plan for new jobs and new investment. We will work with the private sector in ensuring more research and development, more innovation, more new jobs in new technologies. We are an open economy with a government determined to bargain for the best possible return on investment for the people of Ontario.

We must extend and diversify our international trade and industrial base. With workers who are ready and willing to learn new skills, good social services and a stable and high quality of life, Ontario will be well placed for new investment to create meaningful jobs for our people.

Our human resources will be key to our economic future. To face the challenges of the 1990s effectively, we must become a learning society where education and training are seen as fundamental to individual growth, where investment in people is understood to be as important as investment in capital or in research and development. My government will work with labour, business, community organizations and the educational sector to create new education and training partnerships. Strong, publicly funded institutions are crucial to lifelong education.

We cannot afford to lose the skills and abilities of Ontario's population because of discrimination. My government is firmly committed to both employment equity and pay equity. During my government's mandate, our goal will be to work with employers and employees to find practical ways of achieving equitable wages for all Ontario women. We will make early progress on redressing unequal pay in areas such as child care, where grievances have been long-standing and unresolved. After consultation, we will introduce employment equity legislation. We are confident the Ontario economy can provide equity for its citizens, while ensuring a fair level of profitability for its businesses.

While Ontario has become an increasingly urban province, the contributions of our farmers and rural communities remain vital. We will improve our programs to stabilize farm incomes. This and other measures will begin to build a social vision which recognizes the fundamental interdependence of farmers and food processors, consumers and producers, city and country. It is a vision which stresses co-operation and emphasizes the right of people in rural Ontario to share in the benefits of society.

We will work towards our communities becoming supportive environments where all people, including those who are vulnerable, can meet their full potential, participate in community life and make their contribution to society. In doing so, we recognize that saying yes to their concerns will mean saying no to others whose claims are presented more loudly. These are never easy decisions, but when taken in a spirit of openness and frankness, we believe they will allow the public interest to be served.


Pour atteindre à une plus grande justice, le gouvernement entend rester fidèle à son programme en matière sociale et lever les obstacles qui empêchent la participation pleine et entière de tous les citoyens à la vie de la province. Nous veillerons à la mise en place de modes de soutien à court et à long terme pour les personnes touchées par la récession et qui doivent essuyer les conséquences des politiques sociales et économiques régressives adoptées antérieurement.

Over its five-year mandate, my government will increase the minimum wage to 60% of the average industrial wage; introduce pension reforms; revise rent review legislation; help to expand the supply of affordable housing, particularly non-profit housing, and extend child care. We will provide support for those who find themselves out of work and unable to provide for themselves and their families. We pledge to continue the reform of Ontario's social assistance system and address the shame of child poverty in the midst of affluence.

We will deal resolutely with violence against women and children. It is time for society to come face to face with this reality. Reports on advocacy for Ontario's most vulnerable citizens -- the disabled and the frail elderly -- have been gathering dust for too long. We will deal with this issue. We will also improve Ontario's family support program to ensure that support and custody orders are meaningful and not just pieces of paper.

The future wellbeing of Ontario depends in large measure on how we care for our children today. The range of public services to families has not caught up to the needs of working parents. Public policies and programs must reflect the realities of family life, the growing participation of women in the workforce, the balancing of work and family life and the changing role of the extended family in caring for children. We will introduce legislation to improve pregnancy and parental leave for working families.

We will provide for a common pause day to help strengthen family and community life while protecting small businesses and the rights of workers.

Our health and social services must be the best we can afford. We cannot, however, assume that spending more and more money will mean better services. Instead, we will look at the results of our spending to ensure the most effective use of public funds. We will work with health and social service professionals, community organizations, workers and consumers to improve health and social services.

We will complete plans to move government offices out of Toronto to other cities and towns in the province, but we will do so in a way that is fair and responsible to our employees.

Fairness also requires that we share the burdens as well as the benefits of our economic wellbeing. As a result of a legacy of special breaks and favours for a few, the public has lost faith in the tax system. Therefore, we plan to establish a Fair Tax Commission to assist us in the design of a tax system that is more equitable to every citizen of Ontario. This fundamental review will require the involvement of many people across the province.

There is an environmental crisis facing Ontario and it will require an extraordinary effort to meet it. We accept our duty to the future. We will need to assess our decisions not only by standards of social justice or economic growth, but in terms of their ecological integrity. We know that we cannot have a healthy economy without a healthy environment. A sustainable economy will provide added opportunities for new jobs, which will last into the future, and which will enhance, rather than harm, the environment. Our environment is more than the natural landscape. It is our individual health and wellbeing. It is our children's future.

We can no longer afford to be a throwaway society. We must recognize that most garbage is used material which still has a value to society. We must expand and enhance our efforts to reduce, re-use and recycle solid waste. The previous government established the objective of 25% waste diversion by 1992. Without tough measures, we will not meet that objective.

Our province's southern boundary touches all of the Great Lakes. These magnificent bodies of water have for too long been treated as waste dumps. We will act to protect our supply of clean water. We will conserve and manage this precious resource and the watersheds that support it. As a first step, we will introduce a safe drinking water act to set standards for water treatment and protect our people's health and safety.

Many of our roads are becoming too congested to work effectively. My government is committed to a program of expanded public transit, not only to help the movement of goods and people but as a strategy for improving the environment and the economy.

Nowhere is the link between the environment and the economy more evident than in forestry. In the past few years, our forests have been a cause for concern when they should have been a source of pride. We believe in sustainable forestry, and are determined to see that our forests are regenerated.

We believe that people have the right to seek legal action to redress environmental harm. We will introduce an environmental bill of rights in this session. We will seek the advice of the public on the specific details of the bill. This legislation will be an important step in giving individuals more control over the quality of their environment.

My government is proud to announce new energy directions for Ontario to protect the environment while ensuring that the province continues to have a reliable supply of energy at reasonable prices.

We plan to complete construction of Darlington and to bring the station into operation. This will provide the security of electricity Ontario needs for the immediate future. The Environmental Assessment Board hearings on Ontario Hydro's 25-year demand and supply plan will continue. This will provide an opportunity for an independent evaluation of the economic, social and environmental aspects of all options, including conservation, for Ontario's electricity future.

Meanwhile. we will instruct Ontario Hydro to intensify its efforts and its investment in energy conservation. To that end, we will place a moratorium on new nuclear power facilities. We will ask Ontario Hydro to divert planned expenditures for new nuclear development towards the most comprehensive energy conservation and efficiency program ever undertaken by a utility in North America. These efforts to use energy more efficiently will also assist in reducing global warming. These new energy directions will be a challenge to all citizens of Ontario to take part in individual and community efforts to ensure the most efficient and environmentally sound use of our energy resources.

Our province enjoys great cultural diversity. My government sees strength in our differences, in learning from one another and enjoying the richness of our collective and individual heritage.

We attach great importance to the need to negotiate fairly with the first nations of the province. The previous government made some progress which we must surpass. We are determined to make major strides in negotiating aboriginal self-government and in improving the quality of life of aboriginal peoples in Ontario.

Par ailleurs, nous reconnaissons l'importance de la vaste population franco-ontarienne, qui apporte une énorme contribution à la vie de la province, et nous sommes déterminés à travailler en étroite collaboration avec la communauté francophone de l'Ontario afin de préserver ses droits.

We cherish our multicultural and multiracial diversity and we will work to preserve it and to benefit from it. We know that to achieve our social and economic goals, we must strive to achieve access, equity and the protection of the rights of all members of our society. Greater cultural, racial and linguistic understanding is an essential foundation for a society as diverse as ours.

We recognize the importance of the arts to the economy and to the quality of our lives. We will augment our support of artists and arts organizations through the Ontario Arts Council.

We plan to govern with a sense of partnership, a partnership that includes those who were neglected or left out in the past. No partnerships are more important than those with local governments. We intend to work with them so that together we can serve the people of Ontario.


Ontario's realities -- the environment, the economy, our social services and the challenges facing Canada itself -- require leadership. Public frustration has as much to do with decisions postponed as with the sense that the people have not been heard. We will look for new and better ways to hear and respond to the voices of the people.

My government appreciates the contributions that its predecessors have made to the life of the province. It is a tradition we will respect. We want the advice, assistance and ideas of the opposition parties.

My government shares the serious concerns of many Canadians that our political institutions are no longer working as well as they must. There is dissatisfaction with governments in Canada and a sense that the country deserves better. The next five years will be crucial in overcoming the current constitutional deadlock. Ontario cannot set the national agenda on its own. We can only act with others on this issue, an issue which must transcend partisanship. My government will soon discuss with the Legislature our suggestions for future action. Canada deserves our best efforts.

Leadership is often about choosing when and where to intervene. We believe that in many areas the market can and should take the lead, with the public sector playing a facilitating role. But in certain cases, such as the delivery of auto insurance, public leadership is a more effective and equitable solution.

After a period of discussion, we will introduce, in the spring, a bill to reorganize the delivery of car insurance to the driving public. We plan to examine the experiences of Manitoba, Saskatchewan, British Columbia and Quebec, other jurisdictions in North America and our previous provincial plans.

Our intention is to create a system that will provide the best service at a reasonable cost to drivers and at the same time ensure access to a fair settlement of claims for personal and other damages. We believe that a driver- owned plan can provide the best service to the public.

It has not been our intention in this speech to touch every conceivable base or to announce every measure that we will undertake in our mandate. Rather, this is an initial agenda for the priorities of the government, recognizing that we cannot do everything, and that to govern is to choose.

Over the life of our government there are many things that we want to accomplish. My government looks forward to a productive and lively session, where it will do its best to listen before it acts, recognizing that at the end of the day our government was elected to make decisions. There is much work to be done if we are to bring to Ontario the new fairness and openness that the people expect of us.

Puisse la divine Providence guider vos délibérations.

In our Sovereign's name, I thank you.

God bless the Queen and Canada.

His Honour the Lieutenant Governor was pleased to retire from the chamber.


The Speaker: I beg to inform the House that to prevent mistakes, I have obtained a copy of His Honour's speech, which I will now read. [Reading dispensed with.]



Ms Wark-Martyn moved first reading of Bill 1, An Act to amend the Retail Sales Tax Act.

Motion agreed to.

Hon Ms Wark-Martyn: This bill contains a provision which will permit Ontario vendors to exclude the goods and services tax from the base for Retail Sales Tax Act purposes. It also implements the proposals contained in the former Treasurer's budget of 24 April 1990. These changes are designed to reduce the confusion surrounding the introduction of the federal GST. In addition, compensation payments to Ontario vendors will be enriched.



Miss Martel moved that the speech of His Honour the Lieutenant Governor to this House be taken into consideration tomorrow, Wednesday, 21 November 1990.

Motion agreed to.


The Speaker: It is a great honour to beg to inform the House that the member for the electoral district of Brant-Haldimand is recognized as leader of Her Majesty's loyal opposition.


The Speaker: I also beg to inform the House that the Clerk has laid upon the table the roll of members elected at the general election of 1990.


Miss Martel moved the adjournment of the House.

Mr Nixon: Mr Speaker, before you put the motion, I wonder if you would permit me, on behalf of my colleagues, to congratulate you on your election and to indicate to you that on all reasonable occasions you can count on our support.

I think it is suitable, at the same time, to express our goodwill and congratulations to the Premier and his colleagues as they form a new government. We experienced the same thing, with his assistance, just five years ago, and I believe our wish for him is not only to achieve a similar level of accomplishment but also to enjoy the experience of giving some leadership to the province and working in this House.

I think it is also appropriate, as His Honour indicated, since there are so many coming into this House for the first time, to express congratulations to all and, I believe, to give an assurance that whatever side of the House we happen to be sitting on and representing for the time being, we all share a same commitment to the betterment of the province and the support of the democratic system.

Mr Harris: Knowing the leader of Her Majesty's loyal opposition's desire to continually have these unanimous consents, I am delighted to have a very brief opportunity to offer my congratulations to all of those who have been elected in this past election, to welcome those who have been re-elected and, more particularly, the new members of this chamber.

I too, sir, on behalf of my party, extend my congratulations to you on your election as Speaker, as our choice to preside over us all, and assure you of our commitment for support of your initiative, which also has been espoused by the Premier on a number of occasions, to enhance the image of this Legislature.

I extend to the Premier on this very special day my congratulations for his right to truly lead this province in the direction that he should set, in appreciation for how difficult it is after the last five years of how this province has been governed, and the complete co-operation of my party in ensuring that the best is done for the people of this province.

Hon Mr Rae: I want to thank the Leader of the Opposition and the leader of the third party for their declarations of support, which I have noted, on all reasonable occasions.

I want to congratulate you, sir, on your election as Speaker, and say to all members, whether they are new or re-elected, that we are very much aware of the task ahead of us. We are also aware of the fact that we are elected to do a job and to represent our constituents and to present the positions of our parties, and that is as it should be. But I want to say that as little as I expected to be sitting and standing in this particular place at this particular time, if indeed ever, I look forward very much to the responsibility, to the co-operation and to the goodwill of all the members of the House.

J'aimerais remercier tous les députés. Je veux vous féliciter, Monsieur le Président, pour votre élection et j'anticipe beaucoup, naturellement, le bon travail qui nous attend et qui attend toute la population de la province. Merci beaucoup.

The Speaker: Mr Speaker thanks you for your kind words and is looking forward to a continuation of the same atmosphere tomorrow.

Motion agreed to.

The House adjourned at 1546.