36th Parliament, 1st Session

L004 - Mon 2 Oct 1995 / Lun 2 Oct 1995










































The House met at 1330.




Mr Robert Chiarelli (Ottawa West): Today I will be introducing two bills concerning the governance and operation of Ontario's legal profession.

The first bill, An Act to amend the Solicitors Act, permits contingency fees whereby lawyers will be allowed to make written deals with clients to keep a percentage of court awards as fees.

Today, only the very rich or the very poor have reasonable access to the expensive court system. Contingency fees are one way to help make the courts more accessible to middle-income Ontarians and will also lessen the demands on legal aid.

Ontario is the only jurisdiction in Canada that specifically prohibits a contingency fee contract with a client, and both the Canadian Bar Association -- Ontario and the Law Society of Upper Canada are on record as supporting contingency fees.

The Attorney General supported contingency fees while in opposition, so I urge Mr Harnick to take quick action in passing this legislation, which answers a long-standing request of the legal profession and represents a positive step forward for our justice system by both improving access for those unable to afford representation and as a cost-saving mechanism for our civil courts and the Ontario legal aid plan.

The second bill will allow the Law Society of Upper Canada to achieve its goal of making rules to permit the election of benchers on a more democratic and regional basis, which the courts have ruled they do not currently have the authority to do.

Mr Speaker, lastly I want to congratulate you on your appointment and wish you well in the onerous responsibilities that you have ahead.


Mr Tony Silipo (Dovercourt): I rise today to pay tribute to the late Joe Piccininni, former city councillor for ward 3 in Toronto's west end and much of the present-day Dovercourt riding. He was a councillor for 25 years, from 1960 to 1985, and he passed away on September 16 of this year.

When I first met Joe Piccininni in 1975 I was a high school student and he was already a 15-year veteran of city council. In the years which followed I came to realize why, to many, he was just "Joe." He was someone who loved his city, Toronto, and was active in supporting life in the city, from boys' and girls' clubs locally to the big and little sports like hockey and soccer. It's appropriate that his contribution to his ward is remembered by the community and recreation centre on St Clair West which bears his name.

He worked hard for his constituents and people remembered that, as many who tried to defeat him over the years learned. He was not a stranger to controversy, but even then he was a tough opponent.

It's been said of Joe Piccininni that he was a politician of another time, but indeed what a time. He was one of the first Italian-Canadian politicians elected in this province at any level of government and he was first elected at a time when it wasn't particularly easy for people of various ethnic backgrounds to be elected to public office.

The strong legacy that he leaves in support for his community I think is important, but today I remember most that contribution that he gave and the road that he paved for many today who are able to be elected to public office from all walks of life and indeed from all ethnic backgrounds. So I remember him mostly with fondness and with gratitude.


Mr Tim Hudak (Niagara South): As the member for Niagara South, I am delighted to relate to the assembly some very good news that has recently transpired in Stevensville, Ontario, home of the Tim Hudak Action Centre.

Ronal Canada, a local manufacturer of wheel rims, has announced a $10-million capital expansion, including 120 new jobs -- a 100% increase in employment -- at its Stevensville plant.

In concert with the expansion, a new level of cooperation between union and management has been achieved, guaranteeing labour peace through 1999. According to the plant manager, Rick Visser, Stevensville has been chosen as the expansion site because of management-union cooperation and the new political climate in the province.

This new government in Ontario has chosen to strike a bold new path, eliminating corporate welfare. Instead, we will let the marketplace reward ingenuity, innovation and skill.

The result is that the Stevensville plant has been chosen over international competitors as the expansion site based on the talents of its own workforce and management, not because of government intervention.

The Ronal expansion demonstrates that management and union cooperation and the plans of this bold new government to restore a positive economic environment for business, investment and long-term job growth are already having an effect in the Niagara Peninsula.

The Speaker (Hon Allan K. McLean): The member's time has expired.


Mr Frank Miclash (Kenora): The slash-and-burn policies of this government are threatening the lives of the people in northwestern Ontario.

The Minister of Transportation will know that I am referring to the inability of his government to recognize and react to the extremely dangerous conditions of many highways in the northwest, especially the stretch of the Trans-Canada Highway between Vermilion Bay and Kenora in my riding.

Already this year more than 60 accidents on this section of the road have injured 34 people and claimed the lives of three. Since 1990, nine people have died on this, a section of our national highway.

Minister, the dangerous conditions to which I refer have been recognized by the MTO staff for several years. Indeed, a letter from the former NDP minister dating back to early 1993 recognized these dangerous conditions. Unfortunately, he failed to act when he had the chance. I hope that the new minister does not prove to be equally unresponsive.

In several letters to the minister this summer, I reminded him that the design phase of the project is completed. All that is needed is the political go-ahead from this government.

People throughout northwestern Ontario hold this minister and this government responsible. You cannot continue to hold up the decision to proceed with these long overdue repairs.

In the strongest terms, I urge the minister and the Premier to commit this government to repair this stretch of the highway immediately.



Mr Len Wood (Cochrane North): It was with great pleasure and pride that I attended and participated in the opening of Collège Boréal, a French-language college in my riding of Cochrane North, September 6, 1995. The project, an initiative of the NDP government, was years in the making and strongly supported by the francophone community.

The Collège Boréal has two campuses, one in Hearst and one in Kapuskasing, both providing a curriculum in business, technology, applied arts, health, human and environmental sciences, and professional and community services.

Francophones in the north have long needed facilities like Collège Boréal to provide them with continuing education opportunities. Francophone students in the north will now be able to study in French without leaving their communities.

Collège Boréal will also stimulate the economy in the north. The availability of skills development and training opportunities in French for workers means that francophones will be able to participate more fully in the economic development of the region.

Francophones from both Kapuskasing and Hearst, and from all areas in the north, continue to show and prove to the rest of the province that they are indeed a strong and vibrant community whose contribution to social, cultural, economic and political life is not only undeniable and enduring, but also necessary for the future development of Ontario as a whole.

I would like to congratulate the people of Kapuskasing and Hearst for their support of this project and their fine work over the years to bring these two campuses into being. I wish them every success for the future.


Mr Toby Barrett (Norfolk): Mr Speaker, congratulations on your new position.

I rise today to recognize the opening of the 155th Norfolk County Fair, to be held tomorrow, October 3, and to run all week. The opening ceremonies also mark the 200th anniversary of the founding of the town of Simcoe, a town that's been home to my mother's family for over 200 years. Simcoe was founded in 1795 by General John Graves Simcoe, first Lieutenant Governor of Upper Canada.

The Norfolk County Fair celebrates a vibrant agricultural community in my riding. It's the largest class A fair in Ontario. It receives up to 170,000 visitors and is well known for its tobacco show, cattle show and horse show. I'll be presenting my grandfather's trophy on Saturday for best overall breed of Southdown sheep.

The fair does not stop with agriculture. There's a Warriors' Day parade and a flypast of Second World War B-25 bombers.

The fair, thanks to the hard work of many volunteers, is a credit to the Norfolk Agricultural Society, which was founded in 1840. As we recognize in the speech from the throne, Ontarians are a generous people. The residents of the rich riding of Norfolk, through events such as the Norfolk fair, are celebrating the very community spirit and family values that make Ontario work.

As the parliamentary assistant to our Premier leads our government's initiative to encourage volunteerism, I wish to commend all volunteers who made this fair possible.


Mr Bruce Crozier (Essex South): Speaker, I too would like to add my congratulations to you on your election to this most honoured position, and I wish you well in your term.

The Ministry of Environment and Energy may not think that septic tanks are a very serious or important question, but they have become very expensive. As of April 1, 1995, regulation 358/90, Class N Septic Systems, is having a very negative impact on rural building costs.

The regulation has increased the required ground area for subsurface sewage disposal from 560 square metres to 2,500 square metres. The fully raised septic system not only proves to be too large an area for most lots but has increased the cost of development by $20,000 per building lot. A partially raised tile bed system has worked successfully since 1989 and I think should be allowed to continue.

The current regulation was originally drafted 22 years ago. The minister has replied to my request and that of my colleague Pat Hoy that, "It is not the ministry's intent to penalize rural communities for their use of partially raised septic systems," but that is exactly what's happening. This decision appears to conflict with OMAFRA guidelines as well.

I suggest that we return to the pre-1995 status and approve partially raised systems and, in the meantime, direct Environment officials to access their use further. Minister, we ask that you reverse this punitive decision.


Mr David Christopherson (Hamilton Centre): Last week, the Minister of Labour refused to promise to protect health and safety inspectors from major cutbacks. Instead, she hid behind a review panel she has set up to pick up the pieces now that she's moved to eliminate the Workplace Health and Safety Agency.

The minister will know very well that her review has little credibility with workers in Ontario. The Ontario Federation of Labour took a look at this review and said, "The deck is stacked against workers from the outset." They refuse to have anything to do with it, and who can blame them?

Recently, we learned that the Labour ministry has already proposed cutting 20% of the province's health and safety inspectors, the men and women we count on to enforce health and safety laws. When you put this together with the decision to dismantle the agency that helped train tens of thousands of workers and managers in health and safety, you can see that this government has moved at breakneck speed to tear down the protections workers rely on.

Then in the throne speech we hear that ensuring safety in the workplace is supposedly a government priority. This simply isn't being straight with this House, nor is it being straight with the people of Ontario.


Ms Barb Fisher (Bruce): October is Women's History Month in Canada, and Women's History Month is a time when we acknowledge and celebrate the achievements women have made in all areas and endeavours. Far too often in our history, women's accomplishments and our roles in events of significance have been downplayed and overlooked.

The goal of Women's History Month is to write women back into the history of Canada. The theme of this fourth Women's History Month is Leaders, Scholars, Mentors: the History of Women and Education.

According to a Statistics Canada report released last year, education is the launching pad for women's ascent in the job market. Education is the greatest tool women can employ to ensure their economic independence, and economically speaking what is good for the women of Ontario is good for the province as a whole.

Economic prosperity for women can only be achieved if we eliminate gender-based bias from our education system. It is imperative that girls and boys be educated in an atmosphere of mutual respect and equal opportunity.

Women's History Month is a time to celebrate women's accomplishments. It is also a time for looking ahead and planning for the accomplishments of the future.


The Speaker (Hon Allan K. McLean): I beg to inform the House that on Wednesday, June 21, the annual report of the Commission on Conflict of Interest for the period April 1, 1994, to March 31, 1995, was tabled.


The Speaker (Hon Allan K. McLean): I also beg to inform the House that on Wednesday, June 21, 1995, the annual report of the Ombudsman for the period April 1, 1994, to March 31, 1995, was tabled.


The Speaker (Hon Allan K. McLean): I also beg to inform the House that on Tuesday, August 15, 1995, the annual report from the Information and Privacy Commissioner of Ontario for the period January 1, 1994, to December 31, 1994, was tabled.



Hon David H. Tsubouchi (Minister of Community and Social Services): Welfare fraud is a problem that hurts the most vulnerable people in our society. Every cent that is paid to the wrong person through fraud is help taken from the needy.

Experience shows that hotlines are an effective way to ensure that does not happen. Manitoba's fraud hotline saved over $2 million --

Mr James J. Bradley (St Catharines): Tax fraud: Have you thought about that?

The Speaker (Hon Allan K. McLean): The member for St Catharines is out of order.

Hon Mr Tsubouchi: -- in its first year of operation. Ontario has found that fraud hotlines help to ensure that money is not going to the wrong people and being taken from those who truly need our help. Sault Ste Marie saved over $120,000 in six months. A fraud hotline has also been very successful in uncovering welfare fraud in Metropolitan Toronto. Statistics reveal that over 50% of the allegations investigated during the first seven months of this year were confirmed true.

Today I am announcing the introduction of a toll-free, province-wide hotline. People can help us combat fraud by calling 1-800-394-STOP.

It's estimated that Ontario's hotline and fraud prevention team will save $25 million in the first full year.

I would like to invite the people of Ontario to use this hotline to stop fraud and to protect the system for people who really need help.



Hon Jim Wilson (Minister of Health): I am pleased to mark AIDS Awareness Week 1995 in the Ontario Legislature today. The theme this year is AIDS and homophobia.

This theme talks about courage, the courage of people living with HIV and AIDS, the courage of partners, families and friends of people living with HIV, the courage of people providing care to people living with HIV and the courage of all kinds of people to insist on safer sex methods.

The theme also talks about discrimination. This disease places a burden on the daily lives of those affected. The burden is increased by the stigma often attached to having HIV.

While it is true that attitudes towards people living with HIV are improving, some people with HIV, their partners, families and friends, still live in a society that is sometimes not supportive. They often do not receive the same care and concern as people suffering from other life-threatening illnesses.

This is my first public statement as Minister of Health on HIV and AIDS. I want to be clear. I want my position and the position of this government to be understood on this day.

We recognize that no one is immune to this disease. All of us have friends or family members who have been touched by the tragedy of AIDS. It does not matter which side of the House we sit on. It does not matter what political stripe we wear. It does not matter where we come from. We can all be touched by this disease.

AIDS is a priority for my ministry and it is a priority for this government. Our work will build on what Ontarians have already achieved. Ontario can be very proud of the network of services now available. The people of Ontario provide education to prevent HIV infection. They offer support and treatment for those who are infected. They offer support for caregivers.

Ontario can be proud of the commitment of thousands of workers and volunteers who work day in and day out to stem this disease. The people of Ontario have been and will always be our province's greatest strength.

The work we proceed with now must take into account the changing face of this terrible epidemic. People with HIV are living longer. They are developing a wider range of social needs. These include ongoing counselling and support. Many do not have disability insurance. The partners, families and friends of infected people have ongoing social needs such as counselling, support and respite care.

In the haemophilia community, where there is no longer the threat of new infections, the single greatest need is for support. Families need help coping with the progress of the disease and with rebuilding relationships.

It goes without saying that we want to prevent new cases of this disease as well as care for those who already have it. The supportive environments I'm talking about are an integral part of HIV prevention. They promote the knowledge and skills to encourage healthy lifestyles. These, then, are our three chief areas of work: prevention, education and care.

We have already begun to work with community groups and my ministry's AIDS bureau. I have met with the Ontario AIDS Network and I look forward to meeting with other groups.

We want community groups and others to work with us to identify priority areas in HIV education and prevention and treatment and support of people living with HIV.

I also want to emphasize the important role of the Ontario Advisory Committee on HIV/AIDS. It has a long history of serving ministers of health. I am committed to the renewal of this group of advisers, consisting of people directly affected by AIDS, health care professionals and community-based workers.

I would like to take this opportunity to thank Dr Alex Klein and Mr Michael Sobota. They have ably chaired the committee over the past four years. Their contributions were many and well respected in the community and I very much, on behalf of former ministers of Health and governments, appreciate their commitment.

Today I'm pleased to announce two new co-chairs for the advisory committee. Dr Anne Phillips has been involved in a variety of HIV activities for over a decade, including work at major Toronto hospitals. She has also served as an assistant professor at the University of Toronto in the departments of microbiology and medicine since the mid-1980s. Dr Phillips's dedication, enthusiasm and leadership have been recognized with the Vanier Award for outstanding young Canadians and through awards of excellence from the Toronto Hospital.

The second new co-chair is David Kelley. Mr Kelley has been the executive director of the Toronto PWA Foundation. He has served on the board of the AIDS Committee of Toronto and been a project officer with my ministry's AIDS bureau. Mr Kelley has also worked for the Ministry of Community and Social Services and in mental health centres for children in Ottawa and Toronto. As a public speaker, Mr Kelley has over 500 addresses to his credit on topics such as gay youth and being HIV-positive.

We anticipate that the advisory committee will continue as a productive body. Together we will continue responding to HIV issues. These include identifying priority areas for HIV funding and government reinvestment.

I also want to affirm Ontario's commitment to working with the federal government to ensure that there is a national AIDS strategy in place. Members will know that the federal government is having some discussions right now that concern us about the future of the national AIDS strategy.

Mr Speaker, I'm saddened to tell you that this summer we lost two of our valued working partners to AIDS. Brian Farlinger and Alan Cornwall were well-respected activists. They were leaders in advocating for a more responsive health care system to meet the needs of people living with HIV. They gave of themselves. They had the courage to be open about their disease. They are very much missed by their families, friends and loved ones and the people of Ontario, in whose lives they made a tremendous difference.

It is the concern of this government that there is a great deal yet to be done to support people with HIV, their partners, families and friends. It should be the concern of all of us. Our concern can be shown today and throughout this week by wearing the red ribbon that is symbolic of AIDS awareness. Part of our work together as Ontarians must be to build compassion and caring for others. These are very priceless commodities. We must seek in our hearts to give these commodities freely. Without reservation we must give these commodities our time and our best thoughts day in and day out.

Ontario is a great province. Its people have built an enviable society. During AIDS Awareness Week let us all demonstrate the very best in ourselves and bring out the best in others and show our support for this terribly important week in the history of our lives together.


Mr Dominic Agostino (Hamilton East): First of all, I'd like to congratulate the Minister of Community and Social Services for his election and for his appointment to the cabinet.

I would state from the beginning that every single one of us on either side of the House wants to stop welfare fraud. We surely believe it's a problem; it's a problem that needs to be addressed. However, I've got to remind this government that the election is over, that the time for bumper-sticker solutions is over. We had a 1-800 for our Common Sense Revolution. We had a 1-800 number for the throne speech. We're now going to have a 1-800 number for fraud in Ontario.

I would hope that the government takes the same initiative and the same drive now in introducing 1-800 numbers for business fraud in this province, income tax fraud in this province, the type of fraud that is put on the people of Ontario by the rich and powerful, rather than continuing to go after people who are vulnerable and need help in this province.

What has been announced today is already there. Most municipalities have fraud hotlines. It is a quick-fix solution, it's an easy solution, and it's one that doesn't take any work, any creativity, but doesn't address the real issue of fraud in Ontario. The snitch line doesn't help the majority of fraud that occurs as a result of duplicate IDs, duplicate addresses, phoney bank accounts. Those are the real issues in fraud in Ontario. This does none of that.

You could have introduced ID cards that would have been mandatory to be shown and not duplicated. That isn't done right now. You could have introduced direct bank deposits, Mr Minister; you failed to do so. You could have introduced direct payment to landlords; you failed to do so. The initiatives are there, the ideas are there, but this government is not serious about addressing welfare fraud; what it's serious about addressing is feel-good, bumper-sticker solutions that are already in place in most places.


Let me tell you that the fraud that has been committed has been committed by this government upon the 17,000 seniors and disabled that you cut as of Sunday, people you promised to protect during the election, people you said were not going to be cut; 17,000 individuals as of today who are seniors and disabled and cannot work and earn it back have been cut by 22%. That is the fraud that is occurring here, not the fraud that the minister is talking about.

I would ask this government to get on with the real job of welfare reform, to get on with the real job of going after fraud and to do it properly, not with feel-good, bumper-sticker solutions where we can pound our chests and say we're doing something about it. Stop pitting neighbours against neighbours, families against families. Introduce some real initiatives, have some guts and courage to make the real decisions and stop your continuous assault every day on welfare recipients in this province.


Mrs Elinor Caplan (Oriole): To the Minister of Health I would say that AIDS Awareness Week is a very important time. We share the concern about those who are living with AIDS and the families who are supporting them. We share the need for a national strategy, but I want to caution the minister that I agree that Ontario has shown leadership in the past and that a national strategy not mean that there be in any way a reduction in services to those people living with AIDS and the families supporting them.

The reason I have that concern is that we know there is a continuum of care that is required. There is inpatient, outpatient ambulatory services; there is a need for community-based services, drugs, respite care and psychosocial services. Ontario today is providing many services that are in short supply and in fact frequently not available in other provinces in this country. So I would remind the minister that if AIDS is a priority for your ministry you will see that those services are there. Given your $33-million cut in community support home care, I would say to you that AIDS and HIV patients and individuals need those kinds of home support services. So we'll be watching when you say that AIDS is a priority for your ministry.

I too would like to congratulate all of those who have served on the AIDS advisory committee and the able chairs who have now stepped down. Dr Anne Phillips and David Kelley are excellent choices to co-chair the AIDS advisory committee. You neglected to mention that Dr Anne Phillips is on staff at the Wellesley Hospital. I'm sure that both she and David Kelley will tell you of the need for inpatient services and the continuum of care from inpatient to outpatient to community-based services. I make that point because you've just been handed a document which suggests that the Wellesley Hospital cease to provide inpatient services. So I'm just alerting you to what you will probably be hearing from the AIDS advisory committee, and we'll be watching very closely your commitment to provide education, prevention and care. Minister, the words that you have said today in this House are important words, but talk is cheap.

The Speaker (Hon Allan K. McLean): The time for oral questions -- oh, sorry, the member for Nickel Belt.

Mr Floyd Laughren (Nickel Belt): Thank you, Mr Speaker, for your consideration. I must say that I could echo and indeed applaud much of what was in the minister's statement about AIDS Awareness Week. Particularly I like the theme of the awareness week being that of AIDS and homophobia and the tribute he makes to the courage of people who suffer from this disease and the people around them and people who provide care as well. That is an important tribute to make.

I must say, though, that I would be remiss if I didn't tell you that people out there in the province of Ontario are very concerned about statements that are made by you and by other members of your government when they're not acted upon. There have been a lot of pious professions of support for the health community at large, and it's not being delivered. So you can say all you like about the importance of this week and your commitment to the treatment and prevention of AIDS, but as they say, the proof of the pudding is in the eating. There have been enough promises broken in your commitment to health care already that you will pardon us all if we tell you that we'll wait and see, but that does not take away from the importance of the work that's going on in this community and we do encourage those people who help make AIDS Awareness Week possible, and in particular the caregivers and indeed the advisory committee. It is terribly important work that they do.


Mr David S. Cooke (Windsor-Riverside): I'd like to respond to the statement by the Minister of Community and Social Services.

First of all, I'd like to say there's nobody in this Legislature in any of the political parties who supports fraud in our welfare system. We'd all like to see, not just in the welfare system but in every program that government runs, that there be no one who ever takes advantage of those programs. So it's a little annoying to those of us in my party when the government plays this issue in the way it does, and it plays it for one reason. It plays it for every political point that it can score, even if the impression that they're giving everyone is completely and totally inaccurate.

I would expect more from the Minister of Community and Social Services, but then, when I've heard him speak in the last few weeks, I never thought in the time that I've been in the Legislature that I would say there is a minister who is more out of touch and more backward than Jim Taylor when he was the Minister of Community and Social Services. If the minister doesn't know who that is, take a look at some of the things he said when he was minister. He was considered by people in the field to be the most regressive, out-of-touch Minister of Community and Social Services in years. You've achieved that and more, and you've done that by things you've said in the last couple of weeks.

You have, by the statements you've made, I think, ridiculed the position which you hold. When you say things to people like, "Yes, go out and find tuna at 69 cents a can, and buy in bulk," and then a couple of weeks later cut the welfare payments in this province by $1 billion -- and you know, or you should know if you were in touch, that people on welfare can't buy in bulk. They couldn't do it before the cuts; they can't do it at all after the cuts. Then you make these patronizing comments like, "Buy in bulk; buy dented cans." What right do you have as Minister of Community and Social Services, in a free and democratic society, to tell people what kind of food they should buy in this province? This is still a free society.

Then the most outrageous statement that I've heard from a cabinet minister in the 18 years I've been here, and that was, "If they can't feed their kids, then the children's aid will move in and take their kids away." That was the most ridiculous statement I have ever heard --

Interjection: Talk about uncaring.

Mr Cooke: Uncaring. But it does recognize one thing: that the policies you've implemented on social assistance are victimizing 500,000 children in this province. Why don't you get on with trying to take care of the people who need compassion instead of victimizing them further?

The fact is, the only fraud taking place in this province today --

The Speaker (Hon Allan K. McLean): The member's time has expired.

Mr Cooke: -- is the statement by the Minister of Community and Social Services.



Mrs Lyn McLeod (Leader of the Opposition): My first question is for the Premier. Premier, you will be very well aware that the Metropolitan Toronto District Health Council released its report on hospital restructuring on Friday. You will also be aware that the report calls for sweeping changes to Toronto's hospital system, including the closure or merger of 12 hospitals.

I seem to recall, Premier, that during the election campaign you said that you had no plan for closing hospitals. I ask, are you prepared to stand here today and repeat those words, that you have no plan to close hospitals?

Hon Michael D. Harris (Premier): I had no plans during the campaign to close hospitals, but the former government and Premier funded a study to be done by others on whether they felt they could more effectively deliver health care services. That study has been now, I guess, an interim report, delivered to the district health council of Metropolitan Toronto. It's not my study, it's not the government's study, it's not Minister Wilson's study, and it's not been completed yet.


We're interested in hearing what others have to say on delivering services more efficiently, including, indeed, what the leader of the official opposition has to say. Should we carry on with the status quo? Should we look at the $5-million study funded by the former government when it finally comes to us?

These will be very difficult decisions that we will all have to deal with. If the minister has specifics with regard to the study, I'm sure the Minister of Health would be able to respond to some of those. I'll await the supplementary to see.

Mrs McLeod: You won the election; we accept that. You now have the responsibility of managing the health care system in this province. I'm talking about your plans. You're clearly not prepared to say what you were prepared to say during the election campaign, that you have now no plans to close hospitals. Nevertheless, Premier, you are left with the responsibility, your responsibility, your government's responsibility, of ensuring that people in this province have access to the health care that they need.

That particular report that has been presented calls for up to 12 hospitals to close, up to 29 operating rooms to be shut down and the loss of over 1,500 beds. Again, I say it is your responsibility to ensure access to health care in this province. I ask you, do you yourself believe that the loss of 12 hospitals, 29 operating rooms and 1,500 beds constitutes a loss of health care, a reduction in health care service? What responsibility are you prepared to take to make sure that access to health care is maintained here in Toronto and across this province?

Hon Mr Harris: I haven't personally seen the study. The Minister of Health, I think, may have seen an interim report, but it's not a study for the government at this point in time, it's for the health council, and if the minister has further comments, he can make them.

Mrs McLeod: I say to the Premier, as he attempts to simply move this to someone else's responsibility, that he has a very direct responsibility, again, not just to provide health care, to make sure that the health care is provided, but to do that by ensuring that there is funding for health care in this province.

The fact of the matter is that as this study and other studies for restructuring hospitals are taking place in this province, the hospitals simply don't know what their funding is going to be. They hear rumours that you may be looking at cuts to hospital funding of up to 20%.

There is no question -- you'll get no disagreement from anyone -- that hospitals are going to have to find ways to save money. That is the reality they're facing. They're going to have to look at innovative approaches if they're going to be able to maintain the levels of health care that people need. But they can't do the kind of planning that's required if they don't know what their funding levels are going to be.

It is your responsibility to introduce some predictability, some stability to the system so that hospital administrators, district health councils and others involved can get on with the planning work they need to do. They need to know what their funding will be. I ask you today, will you commit that hospital funding will not be cut when you announce the 1996 transfer payments?

Hon Mr Harris: Let me, by way of response, say to the leader of the official opposition that we have committed to follow up on the work of previous ministers of Health, from both your party and from the New Democratic Party, to try to find more efficient ways to spend this health care envelope, which currently -- or at least our commitment was at $17.4 billion. It's hard to find from day to day where it's at, but that certainly was our commitment.

We're very clear, I might say to the leader of the official opposition, that to be able to do this over the life of this government and through our mandate, through a period of five years, would be very, very difficult. In fact, when we talked about maintaining the commitment, I was one who felt that over a period of five years the challenge was to keep it from ballooning way beyond $17.4 billion, not to keep it under, and yet most of the questions seem to be related that way.

Clearly, to keep it from ballooning way beyond control for the taxpayer to fund -- we're currently close to $9 billion in deficit this year, as I believe the member is aware -- we're going to have to find significant operational savings through all delivery of health care, including the hospitals. We would want to consult with the hospitals before rushing out making transfer payment announcements. We will consult, and we'd be interested in your views as well, as we make very difficult decisions over the next period of time.

The Speaker (Hon Allan K. McLean): New question.

Mrs McLeod: It's completely irresponsible for this Premier to suggest that at any previous time --

The Speaker: Is this a new question?

Mrs McLeod: -- hospitals have faced the threat of that kind of a cut --

The Speaker: The leader is out of order. Is this a new question?

Mrs McLeod: -- with no budget, nothing to indicate what this government is actually going to do.

The Speaker: The leader of the official opposition is out of order. Have you got another question?


Mrs Lyn McLeod (Leader of the Opposition): I do have a second question, Mr Speaker; it is to the Minister of Community and Social Services. The largest food bank in Ontario, the Daily Bread Food Bank in Toronto, has kicked off its annual Thanksgiving food drive. It seems rather ironical that the kickoff of their food drive coincides with your government's cut in welfare benefits. Clearly, the organizers of the food drive this year are concerned that the cuts to welfare benefits are going to lead to increased demand for the food banks. I can't help but feel that it's no coincidence that the food bank's goal of increasing their donations by 20% mirrors the 21% decrease in welfare benefits that you introduced yesterday.

The throne speech stated that it wanted to encourage more volunteerism in Ontario, and I think it's clear what that means. It means that your government's vision for Ontario means slashing welfare benefits and leaving it up to volunteer food banks to make up the difference.

I ask you, Minister, is it your expectation that food banks and other charitable agencies are going to make up for the cuts that your government is imposing?

Hon David H. Tsubouchi (Minister of Community and Social Services): First of all, I'd like to take the opportunity to remind the Leader of the Opposition once again that welfare expenditures have soared 310% over the last 10 years. Secondly, prior to any rate cut, the rates were 35% above the rest of the provinces. I must say that in addition to all this, this government inherited a very, very difficult fiscal situation from the prior government.

With respect to the food bank, I might refer the Leader of the Opposition to the food bank in Ottawa where at least the gentleman there, whose name is Greg Joy, indicated he was going to have to wait and see exactly what the situation was going to be with the food banks rather than anticipate and be like Chicken Little.

I want to take one more opportunity to also remind the Leader of the Opposition that there is a provision for earning back the difference between the old rate and the new rate.

Mrs McLeod: I thought at least the minister would acknowledge the fact that surely we all agree that volunteer food banks are not the answer to the problems of people on welfare. The minister, at least in the past, has acknowledged that the answer for people on welfare is to be able to find jobs. In fact, he urged them last week to find a job by Sunday. I don't think many people actually found a job by Sunday because the jobs simply weren't there to find.

In the meantime, this minister continues to refuse to understand any of the impact that those welfare cuts are going to have on people and particularly on the need for families to feed and to shelter their children. Obviously there are families today which find themselves locked into leases for their apartments which require them to pay a certain amount in rent per month. Their welfare cheques have gone down, but the landlord still wants his money.

We've heard the advice the minister has had to offer to deal with hungry children in the past. We've heard him talk about buying tuna in bulk and buying tins of spaghetti. I wonder, Minister, whether you have any advice at all for real people in a real world. How do you think parents are supposed to feed their children when their rent is the same and their welfare cheques have now been reduced by hundreds of dollars?

Hon Mr Tsubouchi: First of all, I would like to remind the Leader of the Opposition once again, as we mentioned last time we convened, that there's been at least three months' notice in terms of the rate cut. I would also like to remind the leader once again that the rates are now 10% above the average of the other provinces.


Now, with respect to the comment about rents --

Mrs Elinor Caplan (Oriole): Don't you care for the people?

The Speaker (Hon Allan K. McLean): The member for Oriole is out of order.

Hon Mr Tsubouchi: -- I have here a letter, Mr Speaker, I'd like to refer you to. There's a gentleman in Kitchener who says that he owns a 47-suite apartment building. He indicates that three of his tenants are on mother's allowance or some other form of welfare. Two weeks ago, the tenants received a letter from the local social assistance office informing them that the current rate they're paying will be too high under the new benefit structure. They were told to find more reasonable accommodations.

This gentleman writes that he is pleased to report to me that all three tenants decided to seek employment to supplement the reduced benefit and stay in their apartments. Two of them have already found employment and the third tenant thinks a job offer is imminent.


The Speaker: The member for Scarborough North is out of order.

Hon Mr Tsubouchi: This gentleman is indicative of people across the province of Ontario, who also would like to say that this is great news for the tenants as well as for the Ontario government. The financial burden on Ontario is reduced, and he feels that this will send these people on the road to self-sufficiency.

Mrs McLeod: Since the minister seems that he wants to remind us of things, I would remind him that it is not three people who are on welfare or unemployment looking for work in the province of Ontario, it is 515,000 people who are unemployed and who are looking for work. They cannot simply go out and get their affairs in order when there are not jobs for those 515,000 people to find, and some of those people have been looking for work for three years and more.

Minister, you also remind us in each response that your government has said that anybody who is able to find a job can earn back the benefits that have been cut. Minister, I say to you today that that commitment -- indeed a commitment -- was made in the Common Sense Revolution, it was made again in the throne speech, you have said it again today, and that is simply not the case.

According to your own rules, Minister, for example, a couple with two children can earn only up to $200 before the benefits begin to be clawed back. They cannot make up the full amount you have cut. So even if people on welfare are able to get a job, they can't possibly recover what they have lost.

Will you correct your previous statements, will you correct the statements and the commitments made in the Common Sense Revolution and in the speech from the throne and acknowledge that your rules will not allow people on welfare to earn back the full amount that you have slashed from welfare benefits?

Hon Mr Tsubouchi: I'd like to indicate of course that our statements have been that people can earn back the difference between the old base rate and the new base rate. So as far as I'm concerned, I would certainly invite the Leader of the Opposition to provide me with further information in terms of how she has arrived at that interesting figure.

Secondly, I'd like to indicate as well that under this program, aside from the basic exemption that people are allowed to have to earn back what this cut has taken away, they're also entitled to keep, after that, 25% of money they earn past that basic exemption. In other words, they can be rewarded for initiative, for working hard and working past just the bare minimum needed to earn back that money.

The Speaker: New question, leader of the third party.

Mr Bob Rae (York South): A question for the same minister: I just spoke earlier today to a young woman by the name of Andrea. She's asked that her last name not be used. She has two learning-disabled children plus another child. Her benefits have been cut by some over $300 and her rent has not been cut by a similar amount. She lives in Durham, where the children's aid society has been advising her and others like her that the services that they had previously provided to her and to her children -- they both have an auditory disorder -- will be cut off.

I want to ask the minister, because he put so much emphasis on people getting out and finding the job, and then he puts all the emphasis, saying if you can't find a job then get the children's aid society -- and I see that the minister is now being prompted by the Premier. It's hard to tell who Edgar Bergen is and who's Charlie McCarthy, but I'm going to go directly to the minister again and say to the minister, he's the one who said the children's aid society is now going to have an additional role of policing and stepping in. That's what he says. And out in the field we find that the children's aid societies are cutting. They're cutting because they've been subject to this indiscriminate, mindless cut that's now taken hold on the other side.

I want to ask the minister, what's his advice for Andrea with respect to her needs for her children?

Hon Mr Tsubouchi: It's interesting that I'm being criticized for repeating myself. However, it's interesting that leaders of the opposition are interested in repeating their questions.

First of all, I would like to once again remind the leader of the third party that, with respect to that statement, I suggested that we're not talking about poverty; we were talking about the situation of protection. We're talking about a situation where if a child was in danger or in need of protection, would that be a situation where the CAS would drop in.

Interjection: -- need of food?

Hon Mr Tsubouchi: That was not an indication of food or poverty or anything.

With respect, this government provides special services at home, which is probably what the leader of the third party is talking about. I invite the leader of the third party, if he's talking about services that are being so-called cut off to someone specifically, to give me the details of that and we'll look into it, certainly. But our commitment was, with respect to any rate cuts, that we were not going to cut any payments to the disabled.

Mr Rae: No, you cut the payments to learning-disabled kids. That's who you cut. They're members of the same family. That's who you cut. Wake up over there. That's what you're doing.

The minister made an interesting statement. I'd like to ask him directly about it. He said in his statement in his earlier quotation -- and maybe he's going through the ritual of saying he was misquoted; would that others of us had the same defence. I would simply like to ask the minister this: Is he saying today in the House that the creation of poverty, which apparently is a deliberate policy of his government, now that they've cut the payments as much as they have, does not, if he'll answer the question, put children at risk? Is he saying that?

Hon Mr Tsubouchi: I'm sounding like a record, I know, but I would like to remind the leader of the third party again that we have made provision for people to earn back whatever the cut took away. Therefore, I believe the leader of the third party's question is irrelevant.

Mr Rae: I would now like to ask, by means of final supplementary, since the minister has said that poverty is apparently irrelevant to the minister -- an interesting view of his jurisdiction. I also spoke earlier today with Mr Maloney, who is, as you will know, the executive director of the Catholic Children's Aid Society of Metropolitan Toronto, and I asked him to tell me where he thought the major problems would be as a result of these cuts.

He said that his main concern was with respect to those folks who had some psychological disabilities that would not at the moment qualify them for any kind of disability payment. They had children, they needed help and intervention all the time of a positive and constructive sort, and he thought that the resources of the society were just going to be taken over the top by virtue of the cuts that have taken place to children's aid.

Can the minister explain to me the logic of cutting children's aid and cutting the amount of welfare at the same time, when he himself is the person who raised the role of children's aid in the context of the cuts he's just introduced?

Hon Mr Tsubouchi: With respect to the leader of the third party's questions, I'd like to indicate first of all that when we made the transfer payment cut, which was 2.5% this year, it was necessary in order to address the impending fiscal responsibility.

Secondly, with respect to the question on disabilities, somehow you have to define "disability." We've clearly gone to a medical definition of "disability," and unfortunately that's what the catchment is going to be. The difficulty we've received from the former government in terms of the welfare situation is that definitions had no meaning to the prior government, that somehow there were no meanings that had -- I mean, it was not meaningful at all.


The Speaker: The member for Scarborough North is out of order.

Hon Mr Tsubouchi: You could somehow show up and therefore apply, regardless of what the standards may or may not be, and that was the question: may or may not be. We've clearly defined what "disability" is.



Mr Bob Rae (York South): I have a new question for the Minister of Health. We'll all have a chance to study that particular set of answers, but a new question to the Minister of Health. It's my first opportunity to question the minister and to congratulate him on his appointment. He was certainly a very tough critic of the previous government, and I know he will expect similar fair treatment from members of the opposition parties with respect to our questions of him.

Minister, the statements that are made by you and by the Premier raise some quite basic questions about the kind of restructuring that's going to take place over the next five years.

Let me just state categorically for the record that anyone who doesn't think restructuring needs to happen is sadly mistaken. We all recognize that. It's happening across the country, across North America and around the world, and you will find no resistance from me or from members of my party to the principle that restructuring needs to happen. I want to make that very clear.


Mr Rae: Don't applaud too much; premature applause is not a good idea.

At the same time, Minister, I'd like to try to test the logic of what's taking place. You gave a speech on May 31 on health care, in which you said, "We will not condone the continued ratcheting down of the institutional sector until adequate supports are in place and a seamless continuum of care is guaranteed." Now, that costs money.

I'd like to ask the minister, can you explain to us why it is that this year you're planning to take more money out of the health care system than you're putting back into community care? Can you explain that to us?

Hon Jim Wilson (Minister of Health): I think I was complimented in there somewhere by the member for York South, and I certainly appreciate that.

It's a very good question. I appreciate your support for the concept of restructuring and I ask you to take a look at some of the proposals, some 26 or 27 now around the province, that are coming in. All of them talk about the need to beef up long-term-care, community-based services.

We're in complete agreement with that. I spoke about that in the past, of the need to beef up community-based services, and that's exactly the direction we're going before we'll tolerate any reduction on the institutional side.

Mr Rae: I find the answer interesting, because I think it reflects the logic that every government has had to listen to. We know that in the communities there's a willingness to accept restructuring where you have a commitment to making sure that the measures are in place to allow it to be humane.

You've cut funding for training, you've cut funding for adjustment, you've cut funding for birthing centres, you've cut funding for long-term care. You've taken out more money this year than you're putting back into community care.

My question is the same as the first time: Can you explain the logic? Given what you're saying -- everyone agrees with it; everyone agrees more money's got to go into community care -- my simple question is, why aren't you doing it?

Hon Mr Wilson: I appreciate the question and would say to the member for York South that in no way have we taken out more money. What we're doing is identifying savings in the system so that we can reinvest those savings down the road in areas of priority and need.

I repeat to the honourable member that long-term-care services, community-based services, are a priority of this government, and you will see those reinvestments as time goes on.

Mr Rae: I think we are seeing a transformation of a previous promise made by the Progressive Conservative Party into a very different policy being carried out by the PC government. The PC government says that in 1999 that $17.4 billion figure will be the same. The PC Party said, and Jim Wilson the Health critic said, that not a cent will be taken out of the health care system unless it's reinvested day after day, minute by minute, right back into the system.

So we have a major change, and I'm telling the minister it's going to haunt him, because you cannot effect the changes in Windsor or in Thunder Bay or in Sudbury or in Toronto, you cannot effect those changes, if you're taking out more money than you're putting back in.

Why cancel the birthing centres? Why take money away from health resource training? Why take money away from long-term care? Why have you taken money out of community care if you are so concerned with making sure this adjustment takes place? It doesn't make any sense.

Hon Mr Wilson: The facts of the matter are that when we wrote the Common Sense Revolution in May 1994, the health care budget was at $17.4 billion. It was projected to stay at $17.4 billion throughout the rest of the NDP term. We will fully protect that budget. During the process, though, we must identify savings and then reinvest those savings in the system.

I can say to the honourable member that I will be proud to stand here prior to the call of the next election in some four and a half or five years' time and indicate to you that the health care budget will be at $17.4 billion and fully preserved at that time.


Mr Gerry Phillips (Scarborough-Agincourt): My question is to the Premier. The Premier will know that the most important financial document for the Legislature is the budget. That's the document that the Legislature relies on; that's the document the public relies on. Every year since Confederation, Ontario has had a budget. We understand, Premier, that this year you are planning to not present a budget. The last budget was in May 1994. We've been told you will not present a budget until next spring, May 1996. No budget. It relates to the question we just had here: How much are we spending on health care? How much money are we spending on the various programs? No budget. You are introducing sweeping changes and you refuse to present a budget to the Legislature.

My question to you, Premier, is this, because you've made this decision that we in the Liberal caucus find unacceptable: Recognizing that the people of Ontario have a right to see from you the full fiscal picture in a budget -- not in some financial statement; in a budget -- will you today commit to present to the people of Ontario a budget that will outline clearly your government's fiscal plans? Not a financial statement, but a budget as we've seen every year since Confederation.

Hon Michael D. Harris (Premier): Let me congratulate the member for Scarborough-Agincourt on his re-election.

He indicated in his question that the Legislature relies on a budget and the people of Ontario rely on a budget to get their information. I rely on the Minister of Finance to answer those questions.

Hon Ernie L. Eves (Deputy Premier, Minister of Finance and Government House Leader): The member knows full well he wrote me a letter on September 20 with respect to this matter. I gave him a reply on September 28. I presume he has that reply.

Mr Phillips: The people of Ontario should know the reply, and the reply is that we are not getting a budget, for the first time in the history of the province.

I will say this government is ramming through its agenda, and you've got a majority and you can do it. You can ram through your agenda, you can ram through your Common Sense Revolution. But you have no right, no right at all, to gag the Legislature and to not have a budget for the Legislature and not give us an opportunity to debate your plans as you're putting them through.

This is an extremely important subject for the people of Ontario, and we find it unacceptable that we do not have a budget from this government. Yes, you sent us an answer saying you're not going to do it, but that is unacceptable. It's unacceptable.

Hon Mr Eves: That's not all it said. Read the rest of the answer.

Mr Phillips: What the minister said is that we will have a financial statement but no budget, no debate on a budget. I think even the supporters of the Common Sense Revolution are probably shaking their heads right now saying: "Why will they not present a budget? Why can't we have a budget presented so we understand exactly where you're going?"

The Speaker (Hon Allan K. McLean): Put your question, please.

Mr Phillips: For the first time in the history of this province, no budget, no debate, no opportunity for you to lay out before the Legislature and the people of Ontario where you're going. I say once again to you, Minister, what possible justification have you for not presenting a budget to the people of Ontario? Answer that question.


Hon Mr Eves: Mr Speaker, through you to the member: The honourable member knows very well that Ontarians are entitled to open and factual and realistic financial reporting. Talking about the first time in the history of the province, for the first time in the history of the province we have asked an Ontario Financial Review Commission to report back on open practices.

The member will also know that the previous Minister of Finance introduced his economic plan for this province on April 27 of this year. The member will also know that on July 21 of this year we issued a fiscal economic update.


The Speaker: Order. The member for Scarborough North is out of order.

Hon Mr Eves: I know you haven't had your lunch yet, but just relax over there. The member will also know that we are committed to issuing a financial statement this November --


Hon Mr Eves: Just a minute -- which will have a lockup, which will fully detail and outline revenues, expenditures, borrowing. They will have all kinds of advance notice. There will be a lockup. There will be estimates tabled in this session of the Legislature. They know all of that. He's going to get all the information he wants. He will have three fiscal statements this year, not one. I do not understand what the honourable member's problem is.


Mr Tony Silipo (Dovercourt): I have a question for the Minister of Economic Development, Trade and Tourism, and I'd like to congratulate him for his election and his appointment to cabinet, to a post which is to a considerable extent responsible for maintaining a positive climate for job creation and economic growth in this province.

I want to focus on the question of jobs for a moment. Up until we heard the throne speech last week, I believed, as I'm sure many others believed, that this government was committed, as they set out in their platform, to creating more than 725,000 new jobs over the next five years. So it was with more than a little surprise that, with all the words we saw in the throne speech with respect to jobs and job creation, there was no commitment made to the 725,000 jobs.

What I'd like to ask the minister, very simply, is this: When did his government abandon that objective?

Hon William Saunderson (Minister of Economic Development, Trade and Tourism: Mr Speaker, before answering the question, I'd like to wish you well in your endeavours as Speaker of this chamber. I know you will acquit yourself so well, and we're very proud of you.

I'd also like to thank the honourable member for asking me that question. This is my first chance to stand in this Legislature, which has played such an important part in the history of Canada and in Ontario, and I thank him very much for giving me a chance to be part of this process.

We all want good jobs and secure employment for ourselves and for our children, and this government believes that the best way to create permanent jobs is by restoring a healthy and friendly employment climate. And we're going to do this by lowering provincial personal income tax rates.


The Speaker (Hon Allan K. McLean): Order.

Hon Mr Saunderson: We're also going to balance the budget by reducing government spending, and that is a very important aspect of our plan.

And may I add that we are going to remove the barriers to job creation, investment and economic growth, and with that kind of policy, the jobs will be created. I'm very confident of that.

Mr Silipo: I have to say I'm even more perplexed than I was when I first stood up to ask the question, because here's a terrific opportunity for this minister to reiterate his government's commitment to the 725,000 jobs, and it wasn't there. I think it's a legitimate question, therefore, for us to ask ourselves what's happened to that commitment, particularly when we know that is the equivalent of 2,000 jobs a week for the next five years.

We know also, in the last couple of months since the Conservatives have formed the government, that in fact we've seen a loss of jobs in this province. Now they will, I'm sure, quickly rush to say, "That wasn't our doing, we simply took over," and I suppose to some extent they may have some ability to argue on that score.

But let's take a look at some of the actions this government has undertaken, which seem to contradict exactly the direction towards job creation. In the July 21 statement we saw the cancellation of project after project, initiative after initiative. I could go on listing, and I'm sure you won't let me get through all of them, but, Mr Speaker: the high performance computing centre, Jobs Ontario Community Action, the Ontario network infrastructure program --

The Speaker: Would you wind up your question, please.

Mr Silipo: -- the sector partnership fund, particularly the Eglinton subway, a project which would have created 10,000 jobs immediately and some 35,000 jobs over a period of time.

The Speaker: And your question is?

Mr Silipo: My question is simply this: Where are the jobs? How does this government --

The Speaker: Will the member take his seat, please. The question has been asked.

Hon Mr Saunderson: I thought this hour was called question period, not speech period.

Mr Gerry Phillips (Scarborough-Agincourt): It's certainly not answer period.

Hon Mr Saunderson: Oh, it's going to be answer time.

Since becoming minister, I have met with hundreds of businesses and 15 sector industry groups to determine how our government can best help them to grow and to create jobs. This government looks forward to working with all businesses and employers to restore jobs and opportunities in this province. I might add to the honourable member that since the summer began, this is a list of jobs that have been created in our province. And these are no small commitments to jobs; these are major companies that have now got confidence in our province since this government took power.

The Speaker: The question has been answered. The member for Etobicoke-Rexdale.


The Speaker: Order. The member for Etobicoke-Rexdale has the floor.


Mr John Hastings (Etobicoke-Rexdale): Mr Speaker, on behalf of my colleagues in all the House, I am sure, I'd like to congratulate you on your election as Speaker and give you every cooperation in carrying out this very difficult job.

Mr Floyd Laughren (Nickel Belt): Give it a rest.

Mr Hastings: How about over there giving it a rest?

Last week in Ottawa there was a demonstration which clearly showed the need for a Victims' Bill of Rights in Ontario.


The Speaker (Hon Allan K. McLean): Could we have order, please. The member has a question.

Mr Hastings: The public believes that there is an imbalance in the rights of the victims versus the rights of the accused. Certainly, many residents in my riding feel that the rights of the accused take precedence over the rights of the victims. The tragedies committed and illustrated through the Bernardo trial have heightened Ontario's awareness of this need and the people of Ontario have been demanding legislation in this regard. We have reiterated, as a government, through the throne speech that we would proceed with such legislation.


My question is to the Attorney General. Mr Minister, could you outline briefly how you will proceed with the implementation of this proposed Victims' Bill of Rights?

Hon Charles Harnick (Attorney General, with responsibility for Native Affairs): I'd like to thank the member for Etobicoke-Rexdale for a very important question, a question that the opposition may not think is important but victims in this province do think is important.

We've had a situation in this province for some time where it's become obvious that the rights of victims do not equate with the rights of accused people. Accordingly, we in this government wish to deliver to this Legislature a Victims' Bill of Rights that will create a balance, not take away rights from accused individuals, and provide rights to victims.

I'd like to tell you, Mr Speaker, and you're well aware of it, that the member for Burlington South has tried for many years to implement this kind of piece of legislation. We are indebted to him for the work that he has done.

The Speaker: Wind up your answer, please.

Hon Mr Harnick: We will be bringing in a Victims' Bill of Rights that we believe can restore a balance and make people believe that we have a justice system that respects not only the accused but the victim as well.

Mr Hastings: My supplementary to the Attorney General is in regard to the exercise of judicial restraint in the implementation of this bill. I would like him to inform the House as to how he proceeds with his ministry in the implementation of victims' impact statements and whether in fact the bill will contain a mandatory obligation on the part of judges, when they're sentencing those before them in their cases, so that a victim's impact statement is not just simply looked at but is actually essentially in the sentencing of those people before the judges at that time.

Hon Mr Harnick: The victim's impact statement is a very important aspect in the sentencing aspect in any criminal case. Some cases will indicate that a victim's impact statement, because of the nature of the case, is an extremely important aspect to the sentencing in that matter. We will have a Victims' Bill of Rights that will set out what those obligations will be so that not just the judge or the crown attorney knows what the obligations are to a victim, but so that the victim knows, when he or she becomes involved in a case, that there will be an opportunity for that victim to advise the court about the impact of the event on his or her life.


Mr Dwight Duncan (Windsor-Walkerville): Mr Speaker, let me begin by congratulating you on your election as Speaker. It's a well-deserved recognition of the balance, fairness and moderation which you will bring to the chair.

My question is for the Minister of Labour, and let me begin by congratulating her on her re-election and appointment to cabinet. Though we will no doubt differ, I anticipate full and fair debate on the issues that will occupy our attention in the days and weeks to come.

Minister, over the summer you have made a number of decisions that, in the words of the Common Sense Revolution, are supposed to "restore the balance between labour and management," and "cut government barriers to job creation, investment and economic growth." Like so much of that document, the rhetoric and reality do not add up. In fact, your government is deliberately pursuing a policy to alienate working people and swing the pendulum of labour-management relations back to where it was earlier this century.

Minister, if you turn back the clock on the law, workers in this province will respond accordingly. Given the climate that you've already created by effectively kicking sand in the face of working people, how do you plan to restore balance between labour and management and create growth in our economy?

Hon Elizabeth Witmer (Minister of Labour): In response to the question from the member for Windsor-Walkerville, I would indicate to you that we did indicate during the election campaign and prior to the election campaign that we were interested in bringing jobs back to this province, jobs which are sorely needed for the people in this province.

We're also anxious to create new investment opportunities. We indicated at that time that we would restore the balance in labour relations, and in order to do that we are prepared to repeal Bill 40 and we are prepared to introduce into the workplace democracy measures, which for the first time will give all individuals the opportunity to be fully informed as to their rights and to make a choice by means of a secret ballot vote.

Mr Duncan: My supplementary is to the Minister of Labour. Surely, Minister, you don't believe that your government's deliberate and direct attack on working people in this province will go unanswered. You must realize that your government's extreme positions are creating polarization between workers and management. Your policies are creating severe instability, which in our view will lead to a decline in productivity, profit and investment.

Even Chrysler Corp warned you to slow down, restore balance and consult workers. The unfortunate violence in response which we witnessed here last week is not just the product of misguided protestors and overzealous security; it is the direct result of the mean-spirited and shortsighted policies being pursued by this government.

Given your get-a-job mentality towards the poor, will the minister now admit that your government's policies will harm Ontario's investment climate and cost this province badly needed jobs? What steps will the minister undertake to ensure that we don't witness an escalation in the type of violent response we saw last week, and how will you ensure that your policies --

The Speaker (Hon Allan K. McLean): The question's been asked.

Mr Duncan: -- don't completely undermine harmonious labour-management relations in the province of Ontario?

Hon Mrs Witmer: To the member for Windsor-Walkerville, I thought perhaps he was making his maiden speech in the House, as opposed to a question. However, I want to tell you that our government is personally very concerned about workers in this province. It's because of that concern that we are moving forward and ensuring that we will provide job creation policies and that there will be opportunity for all people.

Further to your comments regarding the Chrysler letter, I want to just indicate to you that Chrysler, as you know, and the CAW, have asked for a meeting and I am quite prepared to meet. As I have been doing with individuals, we want to make sure that as we move forward and make changes, we listen to the legitimate concerns that are being expressed. I will indicate to you one more time, as I've indicated to all of the individuals, whether employers or union leaders or employees, my door is open and I would be happy to respond to concerns at any time.


Mr Gilles Pouliot (Lake Nipigon): My question today is directed at my vis-à-vis opposite, the honourable Minister of Transportation. I have in my hand several letters. Those letters are from people who are physically challenged, people who are asking for a chance to be like you, to be like the others, for they have no alternative; people who use the Wheel-Trans system to try to find a job, at times to go to work, to attend a much-needed medical appointment.

They write to me because they're concerned about the systematic and deliberate cuts to what is for them a chance to be like the others, for a fistful of $1.2 million their chance to do that, and at times their chance to dream has been taken away from them. Will you rescind this nonsensical move on the backs of the less fortunate?

Hon Al Palladini (Minister of Transportation): Although this government inherited a tremendous spending crisis, it was never this government's intention to cut Wheel-Trans. It was a decision that was made by the Toronto Transit Commission, not the Mike Harris government.


Mr Pouliot: When you cut the oxygen, do you expect the patient to breathe? What you have here, sir, with this kind of answer, with respect, Minister, is the unspeakable. In pursuit of the most vulnerable of people who don't have a voice, $1.2 million. Pass the hat around to your rich colleagues. What are we doing? Is this the human dimension? Some people run faster than others, and they leave the field behind. What about an egalitarian policy? What about quality of life? The essence of life, in this case. Do what's right, Mr Minister: rescind. You haven't made a mistake. Or, if you have, you will admit it and you will correct it. It's $1.2 million, not the end of the world --

The Speaker (Hon Allan K. McLean): What's your question?

Mr Pouliot: -- so that people can wheel on board and have a chance to dream, have a chance to live. How can you, Minister, be so callous, be so heartless in the face of Kevin Greenfield, who wants to go to the library; Jonathan Howell, who wants to go to school?

The Speaker: Does the member have a question?

Mr Pouliot: The question is, will you do what's right, Minister?

Hon Mr Palladini: It was one thing that the Ministry of Transportation has done that has gone together with all the municipalities and all the operators that operate Wheel-Trans in this great province of ours, and it was the TTC only that chose to take that step. However, I am encouraged that it took the TTC only three months to come around and all of a sudden find a way to reinstate Wheel-Trans. This is something that I asked them to consider back in the middle of July and clearly is something that they could have done without cutting Wheel-Trans.


Mrs Lillian Ross (Hamilton West): Mr Speaker, I would like to echo the comments of previous colleagues and congratulate you on your election to Speaker. You have an awesome responsibility.

To the Chair of Management Board, I would like to ask, what initiatives have you taken as Chair of Management Board to rebuild our government and make it smaller and more efficient?

Hon Dave Johnson (Chair of the Management Board of Cabinet): Mr Speaker, I'll add my congratulations to you -- I've had an earlier opportunity but unfortunately forgot -- and my congratulations to the member for Hamilton West for her first opportunity to speak in this Legislature.

I must say that the member for Hamilton West is expressing concern, I believe, about an issue that is uppermost in the minds of all of the members in this Legislature. Indeed, when we took office in June we found that the projected deficit of the province of Ontario was $10.6 billion. I think all of us in this House would agree that we could not let that happen. We did set about to reduce expenditures. We set about to reorganize the government, to look at how we could deliver the services to the people not only today but five years from now, 10 years from now. People are going to be expecting the services across the province of Ontario, and there is an onus on all of us in this Legislature to ensure that the funding is there.

Anticipating a supplementary, I'll say the first avenue that we took was to reduce spending by $1.9 billion to reduce the deficit to $8.7 billion.

Last week in the Legislature I announced, as the final component of that reduction, that the ministries, all ministries, have looked at all programs across the province of Ontario and have reported back a reduction of --

Mr David S. Cooke (Windsor-Riverside): Come on, Mr Speaker.

The Speaker (Hon Allan K. McLean): The question has been answered. Will the member take his seat, please.

Hon Dave Johnson: -- over $700 million. That's the start of the restructuring and the downsizing of the government.

The Speaker: Supplementary?

Mrs Ross: I do have a supplementary: How do the operating reduction targets announced Thursday fit into the overall planning? Can you assure me that the cuts will apply evenly across the province and that Hamilton will not be singled out, as many critics have alleged it will be?

Hon Dave Johnson: I've had the opportunity to talk to the member for Hamilton West on other occasions and I know that she is fighting hard for the people of Hamilton West. I commend her for that, and I expect that all members of this Legislature will do that.

There will be reductions that will affect the Hamilton area. There will be reductions that will affect Metropolitan Toronto. There will be reductions which will affect all components of Ontario because this is a problem that if we can find the solution to it, if we can balance the books, if we can bring the expenditures in line with the revenue of the province of Ontario, then it will be of benefit to all of the people of Ontario. Consequently, the reductions will apply as well to all of the people of the province of Ontario, and it will certainly be my intent that we look at all programs all across Ontario.

I might say that it will also involve a review of agencies, boards and commissions. It will involve a review of the structure of the province of Ontario. Of course, we'll be looking at involving the private sector as well.

The Speaker: The question has been answered. Will the member take his seat.


Mr Mike Colle (Oakwood): I would like to congratulate Mr Palladini for being elected in York Centre, and also for being appointed to cabinet. I wish him the best of luck. I know how difficult his job is going to be.

My question relates to flying truck tires. As you know, in the last few days there was another incident near St Catharines where flying truck tires hit a motor vehicle. Fortunately, no one was killed. Today is the beginning of an inquest into two unfortunate, tragic deaths that occurred as a result of flying truck tires earlier this year.

Early in the summer you stated categorically that you were going to act quickly and urgently to respond to this danger on Ontario highways, that you were going to come up with a comprehensive road safety plan. The question I have for you is: Where is this comprehensive road safety plan?

Hon Al Palladini (Minister of Transportation): Thank you very much for the question. I am personally very much committed to improving truck safety in this province of ours. We have just completed a thorough study on how we can implement some changes to make sure that safety on our highways will be maintained and we are in the process of finalizing it.

My colleague across the room, I would like to reassure him once again that this government and this minister are committed to making our highways very safe, and things will be done accordingly.


The Speaker (Hon Allan K. McLean): We have a visitor in the gallery today from Alberta, the Honourable Gary Mar.




Mr James J. Bradley (St Catharines): I have a petition which reads as follows:

"To the Legislative Assembly of Ontario:

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

"We demand a public inquiry into the conduct of all crown and law enforcement officials and employees at all levels involved in the investigation of Karla Homolka, in particular circumstances of the negotiation of the plea-bargain arrangement. We also demand that all day passes and other privileges be revoked and her full 12-year sentence be served in its entirety."

This is signed by a large number of people in the Niagara Peninsula.


Mr Mario Sergio (Yorkview): Mr Speaker, I would also like to congratulate you on your election. I'm sure that it's because of the excellent work you've been doing prior to the election and I have no doubt you will continue to do so for the next term.

I present to this House a petition on behalf of the Certified General Accountants of Ontario, which seeks to provide access to public accounting licences for CGAs with three years of public accounting experience in Ontario. I'm delighted to affix my signature to the top of this petition and await, as do these individuals, a response to this matter.


Mr Sean G. Conway (Renfrew North): I have a petition signed by several of my constituents in the Ottawa Valley which reads in part:

"Therefore, we, the undersigned residents of Ontario, do petition the government of Ontario to not only stop opposing religious education in our public schools but to give our public school boards the same freedom as enjoyed by separate school boards of education, since both boards are financed by Ontario tax dollars. That is, freedom to adopt a curriculum and sponsor activities that will provide religious studies of our chosen faith. That is, the Judaeo-Christian faith."


Mr James J. Bradley (St Catharines): A similar petition, different wording, from again a number of people in the Niagara Peninsula. It reads as follows:

"We, the undersigned, demand that Karla Homolka's plea bargain be revoked by the Attorney General of Ontario, the Honourable Charles Harnick."

Again it's signed by a large number of people from the Niagara region.



Mr Chiarelli moved first reading of the following bill:

Bill 3, An Act to amend the Solicitors Act / Projet de loi 3, Loi modifiant la Loi sur les procureurs.

The Speaker (Hon Allan K. McLean): Is it the pleasure of the House that the motion carry? Carried.

Mr Robert Chiarelli (Ottawa West): Mr Speaker, I'll just read the explanatory note before the bill.

"The bill amends the Solicitors Act to allow solicitors to enter into contingency fee agreements with their clients in respect of an action or any proceeding in which the solicitor is to act on the client's behalf. Such an agreement must be in writing.

"The solicitor shall not enter into an agreement which would allow the solicitor to recover more than 20% of the award or of the value of the property recovered in the action or proceeding.

"A solicitor shall not enter into a contingency fee agreement if the action or proceeding for which the solicitor is retained is a criminal proceeding, a divorce proceeding or a proceeding involving support of a child or spouse or custody of a child."


Mr Chiarelli moved first reading of the following bill:

Bill 4, An Act to amend the Law Society Act / Projet de loi 4, Loi modifiant la Loi sur le Barreau.

The Speaker (Hon Allan K. McLean): Is it the pleasure of the House that the motion carry? Carried.

Mr Robert Chiarelli (Ottawa West): This bill amends the Law Society Act to allow the law society's convocation to make rules respecting the election of benchers on a regional basis.



Resuming the adjourned debate on the motion for an address in reply to the speech of His Honour the Lieutenant Governor at the opening of the session.

Mrs Lyn McLeod (Leader of the Opposition): Recognizing the round of congratulations that have been marked in the House since our recommencement last week, I too want to take a few moments at the beginning of this speech to offer my congratulations to all those who have been elected and re-elected to this 36th Parliament of the Ontario Legislature.

I particularly want to welcome those who have been elected for the first time. I trust those new members will find that their service here is fulfilling, that it's personally rewarding. I am sure they will find the experience to be as interesting and as challenging and periodically as frustrating as the experience that you had getting here.

Many of you may find or perhaps have already learned that the political process itself is not always the high road that we might like it to be. Regrettably, that reality can add to the public cynicism about politicians. I found it somewhat surprising to discover when I was first elected to public office some 25 years ago -- hard as that may be to believe -- that politics was seen as public service right up until the moment when you were elected, when many then were convinced that you were intent solely on enhancing your chances of re-election.

Well, 25 years and some rather interesting experiences later, I remain as convinced as ever that political office is public service. Our sense of commitment to our constituents and to the future of Ontario and its people is what surely motivates our seeking office and it is what should guide our every decision and our every action.

That is undeniably a rather high standard to adhere to, and veteran members will tell newly elected members that there are going to be times in this place when even the most careful observer will wonder whether the public interest is being served here. But it seems to me that if we ever lose the sense of why we are here, we undermine nothing less than our belief in democracy itself, because we are here as the people's representatives so that through us people may determine the nature of their government.

I'm not going to continue with that particular sermon; I don't happen to believe that this is a group of people that needs to be preached at. But every now and then in this business we're involved in I think it's important that we reaffirm our beliefs, and it seemed to me that there was no time better than at this beginning of a new session of a new Parliament, when those of us who have been here for a while meet for the first time with those who have just arrived. I can tell all new members that there will be few enough times in the future when we speak of common ground.

I believe we do share common ground, however, as we approach the critical decision that the people of Quebec will make on October 30.

Bien sûr, ici il y a un autre point sur lequel nous sommes tous d'accord. Nous espérons que la population du Québec choisira de demeurer au sein du Canada. Nous apprécions notre grand pays et nous apprécions le Québec en tant que partie intégrale et essentielle du Canada.

Mr Speaker, I can tell you that there will be few times again in this response to the speech from the throne when I am prepared to speak of common ground because, after all, we do serve as the official opposition. I am delighted that I have the support of a strong caucus in carrying forward the opposition role. For many obvious reasons, I wish that there were more of us, but the quality is there, without question. Both veterans and newly elected members bring to this House experience, knowledge and the perspective of varied backgrounds. We represent every region in this province and we will build on that as we do our job of hearing and raising people's concerns.

We accept both the decision of the electorate on June 8 and our responsibility to provide a voice for those who would have made a different choice. More than that, we accept the responsibility of examining the consequences of this new government's actions and its inactions. We will hold them accountable both for the promises that have been broken and for the impact of the promises they have kept.

This government was elected to implement an agenda which we opposed in many respects. After three months in office, they have now presented a throne speech which sets out, as everybody expected it to and as indeed it did, a program that was based on the Conservative campaign commitments, with some notable exceptions to which I will return.


In the months ahead, we in the Liberal caucus will challenge ourselves to do more than just oppose the government's agenda, although we have already seen in the first three months that we're going to have ample opportunity and very valid reason to disagree with what's being done. There may in fact be times in the future when we will agree with the government's action, because there are points on which we've called for similar action in the past. We're not going to oppose actions that we believe are right just because it is Mr Harris's government that is acting. We will also, I serve notice, be ready to congratulate the Premier and his ministers if they move away from their more poorly considered positions, and there are a great many of those.

I suspect, I say to the people opposite, that many members of this government are already feeling caught in a rather awkward situation and feeling a little bit uncomfortable with it. After all, if the members of this government retreat from their campaign commitments, they're going to lose credibility in the public eye. If on the other hand they go ahead, the public will increasingly understand that the promises, those glorious promises that were made by the Conservatives throughout the election campaign, those promises that were set out in that revolutionary document, just don't lead to the ideal Ontario that seemed to be promised.

So the government, at the end of the day, is still going to lose credibility. It is just a question of when, because there is one very simple fact, and I am notoriously unable to see things as simple, but I know with certainty and I am ready to state absolutely unequivocally that the Conservatives cannot deliver all that they promised. It simply doesn't fit together and it doesn't fit with reality.

We will be concerned in this caucus with what has been left out of the Conservative agenda. Even more importantly, we are going to be concerned with who will be left out as this agenda is pursued.

There will be work to do for the official opposition, not to oppose just for the sake of being opposition, but because there are real and growing concerns among the population of this province, concerns that have to be raised. We will continue to put forward what we believe to be constructive and workable alternatives because the public deserves no less and because our own sense of integrity demands no less.

We acknowledge, at the beginning of our response to the speech from the throne, that this will not be an easy time to govern. Everyone appreciates that, and I say to the former Premier that he must appreciate that most particularly since he had the responsibility of governing in difficult times as well.

I've disagreed strongly with the former government. I should acknowledge that as well. I disagreed both with their ideological direction and in the management of most of the issues they addressed. But I have always respected the member for York South in his commitment to government and to this province. His continued belief that even in the most difficult times we must preserve the values of fairness and compassion is one which I, as a Liberal, applaud.

The challenge for us all in the months ahead will be to define and to reaffirm our values and to understand what they mean to government in the latter part of the 1990s. At some point, that debate within the Ontario Liberal Party will be carried forward by a new leader. But in the meantime I intend to lead the opposition in this Legislature and to bring to that leadership my own convictions and my own sense of the realities we face.

I can tell you that I am more concerned today than I have ever been about the Conservative agenda and what it will do to this province. The agenda, I recognize, has a lot of popular appeal. Clearly, there are many people who really want to believe that it's possible to have a $4.7-billion cut in their income taxes, balance a budget that currently has an $8.7-billion deficit and still protect the services that people need.

Everyone in my caucus and, I suspect, the members of the third party will remember all the promises that were made about the services that would be protected. You remember the list of promises: no cuts to health care, no cuts to classroom education, no cuts to policing, no cuts to agriculture, natural resources, tourism, and the list went on and on.

It seems almost magical to think that government could save millions on business subsidies and economic development programs and still ensure that 725,000 jobs would be created in this province, and I'm sure you all remember that promise too, that promise that there would be 725,000 new jobs created during this government's term in office.

Now, I recognize that that particular promise was conveniently left out of the throne speech that was presented, but although this is a response to the speech from the throne, I thought it was appropriate to at least note that that was part of an original commitment that somehow just didn't make it into the speech from the throne. The problem is, when you put a commitment in writing, we're likely to remember that it was made.

If all this seems rather magical, it is because it is indeed an illusion, an illusion that was skilfully created to respond to an anxious populace uncertain about what the future holds for this once unshakeable province. Part of the illusion, very carefully crafted, was to convey sort of a sense that we could return to those more secure and comfortable days simply by having a Conservative government again. But these are not the times of Bill Davis, and the 70s' solutions are not adequate to deal with the realities of the 1990s. In any event, the current Conservative agenda bears no resemblance whatsoever to any agenda of any previous government of any party stripe. All that the government really wanted to do was to sort of evoke a memory of that more nostalgic era. I believe that Ontario, if their agenda is carried forward, will bear little resemblance to the Ontario that we have always known.

Let there be no question that we need change in the province of Ontario. The challenges are real. They are challenges that would have had to have been addressed no matter which party formed the government. Our economic unemployment, our financial problems, continue to be more profound than in any previous time in the history of this province. The reality of unemployment, the tenuousness of the jobs that are there, have made Ontarians very anxious about the future, and that is particularly true, as all of us know too well, for young people who are trying to start a career and can't find their first job, as it is for older laid-off workers who weren't ready to end their careers.

The hoped-for economic recovery has never really materialized. There are already forecasts of another economic downturn. Prolonged economic slowdown and higher unemployment make it more difficult for government to solve the deficit problems, and the services that people need more than ever in difficult economic times are threatened by government's fiscal straitjacket. We recognize all of that as reality.

We recognize then that the challenges are real and that people are more and more frustrated by government's inability to deal with them. People understandably don't like what's happened to this province, and they rightly demand change. In fact, I would suggest that after five years of government under the New Democrats, a large percentage of the people of this province wanted change that would take them as far as possible from what they saw as NDP mismanagement of the issues. So they elected a government that certainly promised that, a real reform group that promised radical change and revolution.

Mr James J. Bradley (St Catharines): Capital R.

Mrs McLeod: A capital-R reform group promising revolutionary change.

I think the desire for change, which we all recognize is needed, was so great that not many people looked very closely at the price we would have to pay for that change, and the price has become higher and higher in just three short months.

Incidentally, people of this province did not elect a new government to create, to invent, new crises. The new Minister of Education seems to have missed that point along the way. People know that there are enough crises in this province. They really would like some of them resolved.

I happen to believe that people, in voting for change, which they clearly did, still want that change to be well managed. I don't believe many people really want the kind of change that revolutions bring, a chaos that will certainly not lead us back to the security and the comfort of the 1970s and is highly unlikely to lead us forward to a more secure and stable future. And I don't believe, I truly do not believe, that a majority of people in this province want change that brings a benefit to themselves at the expense of others who are more vulnerable.


This government has tried consistently -- it continued to try today in question period -- to make scapegoats of those who are depicted as abusing the system. We all agree that abuse of the system, whether it be of our health care system or of our welfare system, has got to be addressed so that our very scarce dollars go to those people who really need them, go to provide services that are effective. I don't happen to think that our new snitch line is likely to solve the problems of abuse of the welfare system or deal with welfare fraud, but we do agree that those are real problems that have to be addressed.

But the agenda of this government is hurting real people with real problems, and there will be real needs that go unmet. I don't think many people voted consciously for that kind of change.

I should acknowledge, particularly perhaps to the members of my own caucus, that the kind of balanced and moderate and well-managed change I happen to believe in doesn't make for revolutionary campaign slogans. It doesn't allow the conjuring up, as we all saw during the election campaign, of a SkyDome full of welfare recipients whom somehow Mr Harris was going to magically make disappear. It obviously is not exciting, and as a leader of a party that put all its electoral fortunes on a program of balanced, moderate change, I clearly regret that, but I still happen to believe it is what works.

Revolution does not work, and it will not work in Ontario.

That is the essence of why I am concerned about this Conservative government's agenda. I realize that the new government is not going to worry too much about my concerns. They don't seem to be particularly interested in anybody's concerns, at least up to this point in time. They certainly don't want to listen to anyone who might challenge their agenda, although we see that the threat of legal action can get their attention on occasion. But even that doesn't always slow them down, and as proof of that, you just need to talk to some of the people who are involved in non-profit housing bringing suit against the government for breach of contract today.

This government doesn't seem to have any concern at all for the consequences of the decisions that it's making or the actions that it's taking. Collectively as a government, individually as ministers, as Premier, the members of this government are refusing, absolutely refusing, to consider the impact of their actions. They have shown themselves more than ready to lay the blame for the problems that exist on anybody they can find to lay the blame on.

They're even more ready to pass the responsibility for solving the problems on to someone else, although I must admit I am surprised that consistently in our first two question periods the Premier has turned to us to ask for advice on how to solve the problems. I really did think they presented to people a plan they intended to implement, and I wonder where the plan has gone, if they are now turning for advice.

But we see a government that is just marching ahead. I can only describe them as reminding me of a blindfolded executioner ready to just wield the axe, wash their hands, move on. It's as if they feel that their mandate somehow gives them absolution for any of the consequences.

I realize that no one who is sitting on the benches opposite, no one who is a member of this new government, can let themselves be swayed by seeing what's happening to people and to services and to communities across this province. Clearly, it has been established as a basic ground rule for this government that you've got to be a true believer in the revolutionary doctrine. If you want to be accepted, you've got to be a true believer. We've seen what's happened to anyone who might have disagreed with this government's agenda even at some point in the distant past. You have to stay a true believer if you want to get ahead in this government.

I say to the Minister of Community and Social Services, it's quite clear that you can't afford the near-conversion you seemed to be experiencing a little bit earlier. He had to be put back on the straight track of the doctrine.

That's the context. That's the context in which the government presented its first speech from the throne last week. They said at the beginning that it was going to be a short speech. They said it could have been even shorter, and in fact it could have for all it told us that was new or different. It was clearly what we expected it to be, again with some particular exceptions.

It set out a direction, but we've seen the direction already. We've had three months of government by decree. We've seen the singleminded pursuit of an agenda that is determined to cut things and to stop things and to dismantle things but puts absolutely nothing constructive in place -- nothing constructive on waste management, nothing constructive on long-term care or advocacy or legal aid or welfare reform.

We've seen a government that is determined to demonstrate how tough it is and is prepared to choose confrontation, consistently, over consultation.

We've seen no willingness to sit down and actually work with people to find solutions, unless we make an exception of the Attorney General when he found himself face to face with a subpoena and decided there was a better way of dealing with the issue than that.

We have an Education minister who cancels public hearings because anybody who might actually care enough to make a presentation would have to be dismissed as just having a vested interest.

We have a Premier who appeared reluctant even to meet with native leaders, at least publicly.

So I have to ask, where does it go from here, from that direction that was set out in the speech from the throne? Where does this revolution lead us if it's not checked by some real common sense?

Let's look at the promises and the actions of this government to date to try to get a sense of what is ahead, what lies behind the words and the rosy-sounding intent, at least, of last week's throne speech.

I think we have to begin with what is clearly the government's number one priority -- at least, certainly, it has been the focus of all its actions to date -- and that is to get the deficit under control.

We do agree, I say to the Premier, that the government's goal must be to get the deficit to zero so that our debt and the interest on that debt does not continue to grow. This is not, in my view, a matter for some kind of abstract debate by economic theorists. It is a very real problem, a problem of a billion dollars more every year going to pay interest on the debt, as the throne speech noted and as many of us have noted over and over again. It's a problem of a debt that has more than doubled in the last five years. Without question, we need to reduce our costs so that we don't keep adding to a debt that mortgages our children's future. On that we have no disagreement.

But without question, this government, a government that claims deficit reduction as a priority, is going to make our debt situation even worse if it goes ahead with a 30% cut in income tax. That is the great irony, that they are committed to taking action on the one hand which works against their clear priority on the other. That 30% cut in income tax will cost at least $5 billion, probably closer to $6 billion, and it is the commitment to that cut that is driving the kinds of cuts we have been seeing in the first three months of this government's mandate, the kinds of cuts that we are just beginning to see.

The Conservative agenda might have looked good as people looked at each one of the parts. Again, how would you not like to have that income tax cut and balance the budget and protect the services? The problem was, the parts never added up to be a whole, and it starts to collapse around the commitment to that income tax cut.

But the other thing that I truly believe is driving this government's agenda is the need to look tough, because that's what political popularity demands. Okay, Mr Premier, I'm prepared after three months to give you toughness. You've demonstrated you're prepared to be tough: You've shown you're prepared to be tough with the cuts. We'll give you that now. But I think it is also important that you show you're ready to be responsible.

The first step in responsibility in dealing with what you recognize as your number one priority, which is financial responsibility, is to bring in a budget. It is absolutely unbelievable, unbelievable, that a Premier who keeps telling us and the world, including the investment community, that a financial crisis is ahead of us is not prepared to then bring in a budget that will set out his plan to deal with the crisis. I don't know how it reassures financial markets to tell them that the financial world in Ontario is facing a critical situation when the government doesn't tell them what it's going to do to respond to that.


Surely a budget would help. Surely that's not a reason for not bringing in a budget at this point in time. Surely responsible action on this great concern of fiscal responsibility means bringing in a budget that will let us see the long-term financial plans of this government, the details of the spending cuts, the way in which they are going to accommodate that income tax cut and still reach a goal of balancing a budget and what that is going to mean. Surely this government is responsible for bringing in a budget to show not only us but the people of this province how it is going to manage that financial agenda and not just continue to show us day by day and week by week the tough-guy cuts, because that's simply not enough.

Today in the House, in response to our call yet again for this government to bring in a budget, the Premier referred the issue to his Finance minister, who told us that he has to now wait for, I think it was -- I ask our Finance critic -- the recommendations of an independent financial committee that would then recommend how the government should show its finances. I find that not only an unusual reason for delaying bringing in a financial statement and refusing, for the first time ever in Ontario's history, to bring in a budget -- I find that an unusual excuse to give -- but I also find it absolutely incomprehensible, because I think back to when the government presented its plans last May, the plans they campaigned on, and it seemed to me they were telling the Ontario public that they had a financial plan. They were trying to tell people that they had a basis of a budget not only for year 1, but years 2, 3, 4 and, if I'm not failing in my memory, it was even for year 5 of a potential Mike Harris government.

If they had a financial plan, if they believed then that the financial plan made sense, and if they think now that it still makes sense even though they actually have the responsibility of implementing it, then I say to the Premier and his Finance minister that they should have had a basis to bring in a budget as soon as they were elected. There is no reason for delay, no excuse that holds any water at all.

I was never convinced, of course, that the current government did have a financial plan that made sense. I was never convinced that the numbers in the plan added up, and I suspect that the reason we do not have a budget is because the government is desperately trying to put together some numbers that do add up, and when those numbers are put forward we may not see the tax cut that the Premier has promised.

The Premier may feel that he has at least a couple of excuses that he could fall back on, and I ask the members of the House to think about whether or not those excuses are going to work.

The first excuse we are likely to hear if the Premier backs away from that commitment he made to people that he was going to reduce their income taxes by 30%, the first excuse he may give, is the old standby, "Well, you know, once we got into government and opened the books, we found out that the situation was a lot worse than we thought it would be."

Mr Bradley: Now, there's a new line.

Mrs McLeod: That's a new line indeed. So as we hear that line and as we hear that line used as an excuse for deeper cuts than the government ever talked about, or perhaps as an excuse for not doing the tax cut that will drive even deeper cuts, I will keep reminding the Premier and his Finance minister that all of us knew last spring how bad the situation was. We all knew about the auditor's projection of the real deficit. I'm not sure why the Finance minister now has to await the recommendations of an independent commission when the auditor has clearly told us how we should present the government's finances. We knew what the real situation was based on the auditor's report. We all knew and you will remember that the previous government spent at least $1.2 billion between Christmas and Easter of last year. We all knew that $2 billion in federal transfer payment reductions had not been accounted for. We all knew all of that. I suggest to the Premier that he knew it when he committed himself and now his government to a 30% cut in income tax. So that excuse simply won't wash.

Hon Michael D. Harris (Premier): Do you want us to cut the taxes or don't you?

Mrs McLeod: Premier, I say to you it's your commitment. It's your commitment that we're going to hold you accountable for, both for whether or not you keep the commitments and for the impact of those commitments if you act on them.

Hon Mr Harris: What do you want?

Mrs McLeod: I suggest to the Premier, as he asks me what I would like, that he does have the responsibility of governing and he did make commitments to the people of this province, commitments which he insisted would be implemented if he had an opportunity to form a government.

Premier, you now have the opportunity you sought, the opportunity to form a government, and you have the responsibility for either fulfilling your commitments and dealing with the impact of those commitments which you made and which you had not thought out thoroughly, or you have the responsibility of talking to the people of this province about why you retract those commitments and what the impact is.


The Speaker (Hon Allan K. McLean): Order.

Mrs McLeod: Mr Speaker, the Premier's interjections are entirely consistent with the kind of direction we've also seen from this government. That's the direction that they are going to try and blame someone else for the problems but at the same time make somebody else responsible for the solutions. I suggest to the Premier that since he does now have the responsibility of forming a government, he is also responsible for finding the solutions. He can't simply turn to someone else continuously, nor can he blame someone else for forcing him to break his promise.

That's why the second excuse that he may bring out if he backs away from the income tax cut commitment will simply not work. I think he may try and claim that in this time when we are all concerned about economic growth and the investment that's needed for economic growth and job creation, at a time when we all share that concern, he is being advised by Bay Street and the investment community that he shouldn't make his tax cut because it will drive the deficit up and that will be bad for business.

They are saying that, and they're right. Not only that, but they were saying exactly the same thing when the so-called Common Sense Revolution came out, and they were also right then. Where is the common sense in making a huge tax cut when the highest priority is deficit reduction? But it made election campaign sense, and so the promise was made.

I did talk about tax cuts in the election campaign too. I'm surprised the Premier hasn't reminded me of that in his interjections. But I believed in a moderate, targeted tax cut that would help to stimulate economic growth and in turn create jobs. I say to the Premier and to the minister responsible for economic development, who responded to a question in the House today, that there is no evidence at all, none at all, that a cut in income tax will kickstart investment in this province, no evidence that it will restore consumer confidence or that it will do anything else that either helps the economy or helps the people who need help most. It will simply put more money into the pockets of the most wealthy of our citizens. The wealthier you are, the more you will benefit.

This is certainly not an agenda for economic growth and job creation that the Conservative government is offering, and all the words about jobs and the importance of jobs that were in the beginning of the throne speech will not get one single person working. There is no plan in the throne speech for economic growth. The Conservatives are offering only wishful and obviously overly optimistic thinking. There is no plan in the throne speech to get people back to work. In fact, the Conservative agenda offers nothing but more and more cut-induced layoffs, and some 70,000 jobs in this province have already been jeopardized by the actions of this government in its first three months.

Without economic growth, without job creation, without getting people back to work again, there will be no real and lasting deficit management, there will just be deeper and deeper cuts, and that too is not a matter for abstract economic debate.

Let me acknowledge that cost reduction is absolutely essential; let me acknowledge that again. But it will be tough enough to manage the cuts that are necessitated by the existing deficit without having to find $5 billion or $6 billion more to pay for the cut in income tax. If the government does go ahead with this promise, which was, after all, the centrepiece of its campaign commitments, what happens, I ask, to all the other commitments that were made, particularly the promises that the services people need and value won't be lost?

We have already seen, just three months into this government's mandate, that the promise not to cut health care has been broken, broken with more than $130 million in cuts in the government's first financial statement. The Minister of Finance, when he presented that statement, tried to camouflage the cut by saying that the dollars would be reallocated, but in fact they were part of the reductions that he needed to get to the deficit figure he presented to the Ontario public that day. The minister cannot have it both ways and the government cannot have it both ways. You cannot cut the health care budget and use that for deficit reduction and still allocate those same dollars to services.


There is no question that a cut of 10% or 20% to hospitals would also be a cut to health care, yet the Premier was not prepared to commit to maintaining current levels of funding for hospitals today. The government will soon learn that you can't find 10% to 20% cuts in funding in savings to administration, even with the restructuring that we all know has to take place.

The answer of this government to our questions about what happened to the promise not to cut health care is that by, I think it was 1999 that the Health Minister said today, certainly in time for the next election, and I suspect just in time for the next election, the health care budget will be back to its current levels. But the cuts to health care will take place now, and in fact those cuts to health care are happening now, and there is no disputing that.

Now we have the Premier back saying that he does not rule out user fees for health care, a retreat to a position that we know he has always advocated, and so it was with some surprise that we heard his commitment and saw the written commitment in that revolutionary doctrine, that there would be no user fees in health care, no new user fees.

Mr Bradley: Seems like a program to me.

Mrs McLeod: Well, the Premier was certainly prepared to be categorical when he spoke to the Ontario electorate, not only when they brought out the revolutionary document but during the election campaign, that he would not be introducing user fees, new user fees, in health care, and any introduction of new user fees now would clearly be a violation of a promise that the people of this province I believe continue to hold dear.

The throne speech doesn't say that seniors will face a user fee for drugs in the future. It left out the commitment that there would be no new user fees, a notable exclusion from the revolution document, but it doesn't actually say that seniors will face a user fee for their drugs in the future. But the Premier, interestingly enough, has refused to say that they won't.

Now, making seniors pay for their drugs, whether the government calls it a copayment or anything else, is a new user fee. It is a user fee to be paid by those who are on fixed incomes and who are facing increasing health problems.

Surely in the province of Ontario we are not at the point where we are going to move towards an American-style system of health care, where it is a fact that people over the age of 65, those same people who are faced with the possibility of having to pay a new user fee for their drugs -- in the United States that population of people over 65 spent 21% of their income on health care, and Republican proposals in the United States would add another 20% to 25% more in what they euphemistically term "new deductibles," or copayments.

So perhaps it should not have been surprising to us that there was no mention of the commitment that there would be no cuts in health care in the throne speech, that there was no repeating of the commitment that there would be no new user fees. Perhaps that should not have been surprising, because we did hear the Premier say, in his pre-session availability, that for him there were no sacred cows in his war on the deficit. It seems that he meant that not even health care was sacred. That certainly was not the message in the revolution manifesto.

Mrs Elinor Caplan (Oriole): Or the election.

Mrs McLeod: It was not the Premier's message during the election campaign. His message then was no cuts to health care, no user fees, no new taxes.

So I ask the Premier, is a user fee for health care a new tax? Will the Premier have his promised referendum on any new tax before he goes ahead with it, or does he feel quite free to take back that income tax cut that he's offering up with a new health care tax on people? Or, I ask the members of my own caucus, should we at this point simply give up trying to find any integrity in the Conservative campaign commitments? Clearly, there is one thing that is not sacred, and that is the Premier's promise to the people of this province, because even the promise to resign if you break your promise is already just one more broken promise.

Mr Speaker, I can tell you that Liberals remain committed to our health care system. We believe that we can find ways to manage costs and ensure that we still have high-quality, universal health care. That could only be achieved through long-term planning and real partnerships, and so far this government has done nothing but cut both the health care budgets and its health care commitments.

This government also made a promise in another area, a promise we will all remember, a promise not to cut police services, yet now they're poised for up to a 20% cut in municipal funding. I have to ask, what effect does this government suppose that this kind of cut to municipal funding is going to have on municipal police services?

Once again the Premier and his colleagues will say they are not responsible. The municipalities will be faced with making a totally arbitrary cut, with managing it. They will be ones held accountable if the cut leads to an increase in property taxes or to a reduction in police services, just as the TTC today was held accountable for the cut to Wheel-Trans. Somebody else will be responsible for making the really tough decisions.

The government will make the promise; the municipalities will somehow have to make good on it. That is downloading, pure and simple.

Then we come to the promise that there will be no cuts to classroom education. Who has to deliver on that one? Clearly, not the Mike Harris government, because their job is to make the budget cuts. The school boards will figure out how to deal with social contract obligations, classroom sizes, whether they can still offer special education or junior kindergarten. The government can still claim that it didn't cut classroom funding; it was the school boards that did it. All the government did was cut the funding for classroom education.

I know that there are a great many people who would argue that we spend too much money on education, and I've heard many of the arguments that are made and will be made in the future to justify cutbacks. After all, aren't there a lot of frills that can be cut? Can't we just go back to the days when the teacher taught and if the student didn't keep up, well, after all, that's the student's problem?

Why do we need special programs to help ensure that every student actually does have a chance to develop his or her potential? Education, after all, used to be a lot simpler and a whole lot less expensive. Anyway, why do we need junior kindergarten, because schools aren't there to babysit. If you listen to those kinds of arguments, as this government obviously does, you can cut away with absolutely no concern at all.

There are places where efficiencies can be found in education, and they are going to have to be, but we are in danger of losing much that we have gained in public education -- in large part, I say to the Premier, under previous Conservative governments -- if there is no willingness on the part of this government to understand what is valuable and must be preserved and what must be changed.

I can tell you that I was dismayed that the only reference to education in the speech from the throne was a critical one. There was no recognition at all of the strengths of the education system in this province, and I suggest that is a very poor basis on which to begin to address the issue of educational reform.

We all agree again that some changes are needed in the system. In fact, the government should have had a head start on this one. The royal commission on education, I recognize, was set in place by the previous government, but it set out a direction for change that actually won broad support. It even had the general support at least of all three political parties, and that's a rather rare situation, members will find, in this House. But that was a gift that the minister of education apparently either couldn't understand or wasn't prepared to accept.

Mr Bradley: He was busy creating a crisis.

Mrs McLeod: I think he was busy creating a crisis, I say to my House leader, but I think perhaps also it seemed just a little bit too easy when the way you make your mark in this particular government is to take tough stands. So the minister did set out to create a crisis, to make things appear worse than even he believed they were. So the minister himself, I suggest, is now a crisis, and he is a crisis that education in this province cannot afford. There is too much real and very serious work that has to be done.

The minister seems to have no understanding of how you successfully implement change. It does take some degree of partnership and consultation, even if you think that's a nuisance, which the minister obviously does. Whatever your views on the direction of the interim report on school board amalgamation that Mr Sweeney presented, you would have to agree, and Mr Sweeney I'm sure would agree, that it is incomplete. There are no estimates of cost savings; there are a number of rather significant problems that have to be addressed.

All of this presumably was to be dealt with after a period of consultation, except that now there will be no meaningful consultation. The minister, it seems, was afraid that he might hear from those people with vested interests. I wonder who they are. People who have children in the school system perhaps, or maybe people who work within the school system and have devoted their careers to it, or maybe it would just be people who actually care about the future of education in this province.

You wouldn't want to risk hearing from those kinds of vested interests. You wouldn't want to waste a lot of time hearing from people who will be affected by any decision that this government might make, particularly since the minister might actually hear from some who don't agree with what he wants to do.


But if you still believe that it is worth trying to tell this particular Minister of Education and Training what you think, I want the public to know that they can call. You won't get to talk to anyone, you won't have the benefit of asking questions or hearing other views, but you can at least make your voice heard, provided you restrict your comments to three minutes.

This minister has turned the important issue of educational reform into a farce. He cannot be effective in bringing about change even though he was practically handed a blueprint for it. He had to earn credibility in his new role, and he has lost any chance of that.

I confess, and I am ready to confess it, that I am actually one of those who has a vested interest. I've been involved in education for a good part of my life. I happen to believe that it's important to the future of our communities and to the future of individuals, and I just don't want to see educational opportunity destroyed by a government with a short-term political agenda and no long-term plans at all.

The throne speech touches on the need to restructure and to streamline and to work cooperatively to find efficiencies in the education system. But what isn't mentioned in the throne speech is that any dollars saved will be part of the government's deficit-reduction plan. None of those dollars will go to classroom education, and of course, as with health care, the cuts are going to come first, before any savings are found. If the administrative efficiencies don't equal the cuts, classroom education will be affected. But I suggest with great concern that long before the cuts actually hit the classroom directly the support that's provided to students and teachers will be reduced or eliminated and we will indeed be forced back to the days where the student either kept up or dropped out. The price that our society will pay for that is immeasurable.

But at least elementary and secondary education was referred to in the throne speech, and I want to acknowledge that, because post-secondary education and training, which are so critical both to individual success and to our economic future, weren't even mentioned. We know what lies ahead, though, and maybe that's why it wasn't set out again in the throne speech, because if the promises are kept, there will be at least a $400-million cut -- I think I've got that figure right, from the revolutionary document -- to colleges and universities and a deregulation or partial deregulation, whatever that means, of our tuition fees.

The Harris government will probably claim it is not cutting post-secondary education; it's not responsible for any direct cuts to education. If the colleges and the universities can't find the $400 million by looking at those always-appealing administrative savings, then they can raise tuition to make up the difference.

Well, I've been told by one university official that if his university were to make up its share of that $400-million cut with a tuition increase, the tuition for students in that university would go up by 65%. We know that tuition this year is up by 10% and that there has been a marked decline in applications for colleges and universities. I wonder what a 65% increase in tuition would do to discourage access for those who are not well off.

I think if the Harts, who were mentioned in the throne speech as planning to spend those income-tax-cut dollars on new clothes for their children, have any hopes that they may want to send their children to college or university, they might just want to save the dollars for the increased tuition they're going to have to pay.

I'm deeply concerned that children themselves have no place at all on the agenda of this government. I think we should look beyond education, which I've addressed at some length because I have a vested interest, to the cutbacks for the children's aid societies, children's aid societies which even now can barely meet their legal mandate for child protection. Now the children's aid society in Metro Toronto says that it won't be able to probe child abuse allegations as quickly as is even required by law.

Have we truly reached the point, after finally beginning to understand the sheer horrors of child abuse, that we cannot act quickly to stop it and prevent it from happening again? What kind of society can be ready to pocket a few more tax dollars knowing that children are being abused? I don't believe that people in Ontario will tolerate this retreat from a commitment to end child abuse.

The Minister of Community and Social Services of course has indicated that he would have the children's aid society actually expand its mandate, seemingly unaware that if you can't act quickly to protect children from abuse, you certainly can't protect them for hunger either.

Now, the minister, I acknowledge, claimed that he was taken out of context in saying that if parents don't feed their children and children are hungry, the children's aid society would step in. But it seems to me that he was saying exactly what I heard Mr Harris, his Premier, say at an earlier period of time: that if parents are irresponsible and they can't care for their children, the children's aid society should take them into foster care, find a foster parent for them.

If families haven't the money to provide adequate food and clothing and shelter, I wonder if indeed they are irresponsible parents. I wonder where the responsibility for solving this problem lies. Surely the state has some role here, and surely it is not to find foster parents for more and more children at great cost, both financial and human, both now and in the future.

If we're concerned about the health and wellbeing of our children, we should also be concerned about cutbacks to agencies which provide mental health services to children. We should remember, because the Minister of Community and Social Services keeps wanting to remind us of things, that only 50% of the mental health needs of children are now being met.

I know that these cuts may help the government with its deficit, but I think it's a fair question to ask what they will mean to the future of this province. The debt is indeed -- I acknowledge it -- a mortgage on our children's future which must be dealt with. It is a debt created by our generation, but we cannot and we must not pay it off at the expense of our children themselves.

Hon Mr Harris: Against every cut we've made --

The Speaker: Order, please.

Mrs McLeod: Now, if the Premier wonders about commitments, I say to the Premier, who interjects at this point, who seems somewhat concerned about my concern for children and where they fit on his agenda, I remind the Premier that the only commitment that he's actually made to children's services is a promise of a breakfast program.

I remember that commitment well because it's the one social policy that I remember this Premier championing. In fact, he has championed it for the last two years. It even sort of got into the throne speech, although almost incidentally -- it became "such as nutritional programs for children." This was the breakfast program that was to be put in place immediately, but when our critic responsible for children's services asked the Premier when his breakfast program would be put in place, he said, "If the Liberal critic wants a breakfast program, let her start one." So much for this Premier as a champion of social concern.

The children of parents on welfare are even less likely now to have a nutritional breakfast at home. I wonder if this government remembered, if the minister responsible for Community and Social Services remembered, as he reminds us of other facts, as they cut welfare and family benefit payments by 22%, that 38% of those on welfare are children. That's some 500,000 children who have just been affected by that 22% cut in welfare.

I wonder whether this government cares what the longer-term effect of those cuts will be. Have they given any thought at all to the family stresses that will build, the ways in which the healthy development of children will be affected or the cost to this society in the future? This truly is the politics of punishment, but the ones being punished are not Mr Harris's stereotypical welfare bums; the ones being punished most are the children. Suggesting that buying cheap tuna or dented tins of spaghetti is an answer is either the most appallingly cynical or the most appallingly aware response that I have heard a minister make. I don't believe that inexperience is any excuse for that kind of trivializing of something that causes real anguish for families.


Now, I do share a belief that the goal of real welfare reform is to help people get off welfare and back to work. But a parent, on welfare or otherwise, cannot go to work unless there is access to child care, and child care is clearly off this government's agenda. Here again we have both a minister and a Premier showing how totally unaware they are of today's realities, suggesting that neighbours or other family members can look after the children -- unless this government, this Premier, deliberately want to force us back to those nostalgic earlier times when we women were back in the home and where grandma was there to make the cookies and look after the kids. Well, it may be nostalgia, but that's not the way of the world in 1995, and Mike Harris, Premier of Ontario, cannot try to push us back that way, not if he wants those single parents back at work.

Last May, Mr Harris seemed to recognize that child care was essential to welfare reform. He even said so in writing. But that was then. Now he has a mandate to do what it seems he really wants to do. I think it's important to recognize that those cuts to child care will hurt more than welfare recipients. I don't know whether or not Lindsay Mason, who's going to use her income tax cut dollars for home improvements, has young children, but if so, I suggest that she's going to need those tax dollars to pay her increased costs of child care.

Getting people back to work, not just people on welfare but unemployed people across this province, was the single promise that meant the most to the people of Ontario. Failure to deliver on this promise will be the greatest breach of trust of all. This government said that government doesn't create jobs. We agree. But it nevertheless claimed that its economic plan would lead to the creation of 725,000 new jobs. They've dropped it now, but it was a promise made when the revolution was presented so proudly last spring.

Again, there is no more evidence today than there was then that an income tax cut will trickle through to the creation of new jobs. There is lots of evidence of more people losing their jobs immediately as a direct result of this government's actions. The only guarantee in the future that this government offers on that central promise of jobs is that there will be more and more layoffs. I wonder if that's what people expected when they gave this government a mandate.

Mandatory workfare was one of the issues that the Conservatives made a major campaign plank. Now, no one knew what that meant, including the Premier. Some of us didn't like what it seemed to mean, but at least it seemed to suggest to a great many people in this province that it meant that people would be working, yet there's still no plan to get people back to work.

The government gets totally confused when they try to tell us what they mean by workfare, so no wonder they can't tell us how it will work. But there is one bottom line: There are no jobs for people to go to. The jobs aren't there. There were 4,000 fewer people working in Ontario in August than there were in July. Yet the minister said that people on welfare had time to get their affairs in order, time to go out and get a job by this weekend. I don't think that we'll find there was any sudden drop in unemployment this weekend, and it isn't because people were too lazy to try and get out and get a job by Sunday. It is because the jobs aren't there.

If the jobs aren't there and people aren't working and benefits have been cut, we are going to see more food bank use. The government has washed its hands of any responsibility for affordable housing, so there will be more homelessness. Even the funding for emergency shelters may be cut, and I wonder where this government thinks people will go. All the doors are being closed at once and not a single new door is being opened.

Who else will be left out as this government marches ahead with its scorched earth, nothing is sacred, we have to make the cuts no matter who or what is hurt policy? The commitment to protect seniors and the disabled has been totally ignored. Cuts to Wheel-Trans, to the benefits of seniors and disabled on general welfare assistance made short work of that particular promise.

What will happen to a commitment that this province has always made for greater equity for all of its citizens? The only promise the government has made here is to scrap the employment equity legislation, and that is a promise they undoubtedly will keep. There are in fact some nice words in the throne speech about, and I quote, "a non-legislative equal opportunity plan," but the question is whether or not the government will do anything at all to address the real barriers that exist to ensuring equal opportunity, because maintaining, and again I quote from the throne speech, "a discrimination-free workplace," as important as that is, is simply not enough.

I have never supported an approach to equity that was a guarantee of access, an approach that opens doors to some and selectively shuts others out. But I believe that we must have a clear commitment and a sustained effort to break down the barriers that do exist if indeed every individual is to have a chance to participate in a society which is fair and open and holds an opportunity for success.

It's not directly relevant to my response to the speech from the throne, but I do want to stop for a moment to express my regret, in a non-partisan way, if I may, that there are fewer women in this Legislature today than there were in our last Parliament. In fact, there were never a lot of us. There were 26 in the last Parliament -- we were 20% of the total Legislature -- but we are now only 19, 15% of the total.

Any attempt to explain that will be a subject for further reflections on another day and in another forum, I'm sure, but it is a reality that I felt should be noted, and it reinforces my concern about whether real equality of opportunity to participate exists.

Let me return now to the world of revolution and radical change the Conservatives promised and the throne speech sets out. Where does the revolution lead this province? Not exactly to the more ideal Ontario the Conservatives promised, not to a province where people are working and heath care, education and police services are protected, certainly not to a province where the needs of children and seniors and the disabled and the homeless are met, and not to an Ontario which ensures fairness and equity and tolerance.

Mr Bradley: I bet they won't move to Mississippi either.

The Speaker: Order.

Mr Bradley: Alabama, Louisiana.

The Speaker: The member for St Catharines is out of order.

Mrs McLeod: This revolution will lead, without question, to labour unrest, and without labour stability there will be no new investment in Ontario and there will be even higher unemployment. This government talks about harmonious relationships between business and labour, but it is clearly ready to declare war on labour, because that, after all, is what they said they would do.

There will be increasing tension with the native people of this province, unless the government gives a clear message that it is ready to negotiate with native leaders to resolve legitimate concerns. Simply being tough will not ease the tension and the distrust that is developing.

So we face a future that offers a guarantee of higher unemployment because of layoffs, less health care and education, more homelessness and even hunger, more tension, and then the prospect of more violence. We are unlikely to see more investment because of the sense of insecurity that will be created, and we are, ironically, at the end of the day, unlikely to see a balanced budget. We note that the commitment to bring in balanced budget legislation was one of the other things which just didn't make it into the throne speech as a priority.

What will we have gained at the end of a first term of this government? Perhaps -- perhaps -- a few more dollars in the hands of the most well-off. And how much will we have lost? Who is likely to benefit from this government's agenda? The biggest businesses perhaps? Not if your business happens to be forestry, in my part of the province, or agriculture, in the House leader's part of the province, or film development. All of those have already faced cuts in the programs that support their industries.

Middle-income working people, supposedly the beneficiaries of this government's agenda, are unlikely to be beneficiaries at the end of the day, not when their $70-a-month income tax cut is taken back with a health levy, higher tuition for college and university student children, expensive child care, a host of new user fees and perhaps higher property taxes to pay for police and education.


Communities across this province will certainly not be the beneficiaries of the Conservative agenda: not Metropolitan Toronto with its subway construction already stopped; or Hamilton, where promises of funding the Red Hill Creek Expressway are still unmet; or Windsor, where I guess maybe they're going to have some kind of a paved parking lot where the courthouse foundations have already been laid -- no one knows what will happen to the casino -- and not Niagara Falls, which just lost not only promised jobs but support for its focus on tourism as a route to economic renewal; and the list of affected communities will go on.

Revolutions are for the strong, there's no doubt about that. In a world where the name of the game is toughness, the first to be hurt will be the most vulnerable: the poor, children, seniors, the disabled. But the agenda that the Conservatives have presented does not stop there. They have come to government having built on people's fears and anxieties. They have created a climate where the fittest will survive at the expense of the less strong, but it is an "us and them" approach to the world. It is divisive and it is certainly not what Ontario has always been about.

I believe that as the Conservative government cuts deeper and broader, more and more people in this province will come to realize that they indeed are "them" and not "us." They will understand that the illusion that this government created to assure people that we could keep all the services we wanted and have jobs and extra money in our pockets was an illusion. I don't believe this province can afford to pay the price of trying to make it real.

I do believe the role of government must change. It has become too costly and too interventionist; no question about that, no argument there. But I do not believe we can just dismantle government and let the market reign free. Government surely has a role in supporting and enabling its citizens to live and grow and work together and indeed a responsibility to ensure that every citizen has an opportunity to participate and to contribute. Furthermore, I happen to believe that we cannot respond to today's challenges unless we actually involve people in finding solutions and have some faith in what they can achieve.

The best politician, they say, is an idealist without illusions. I have no illusions that my vision of Ontario is easy to achieve. I know that making partnerships actually work is truly tough stuff, although it is never seen that way, but I am convinced that it is the only route to a more secure and a prosperous Ontario.

I am unapologetically an idealist. I happen to believe in Ontario and in its people, all of them. I believe that we can build on our great strengths, that we do not need the politics of division. We must not sacrifice some to the benefit of others. That direction is not only wrong, it is shortsighted and it will not work.

In the name of compassion and fairness and in the name of just plain common sense, if we can still use those terms in Ontario today, I believe we must stop the worst of the revolution before we in this province are changed utterly. William Butler Yeats, in a poem that rather ironically suggested "the centre cannot hold," wrote that:

The best lack all conviction, while the worst

Are full of passionate intensity.

Now, that's not a quote that I'm particularly comfortable with because I have never been given to somewhat moralistic judgements about the best and the worst. But I do believe that those of us who care, and who care deeply about this province and its people and our future, must make our voices heard with as much passionate intensity as we can summon.

My commitment and the commitment of my caucus is to care deeply and to make our voices heard. As a beginning, I then propose the following motion as an amendment to the government motion on the throne speech.

It is moved by Mrs McLeod and seconded by Mr Bradley that:

This House profoundly regrets that the new government has put forward an agenda that is a breach of trust for Ontarians who were promised jobs and a brighter future and that therefore this House condemns the government:

1. For its litany of broken campaign promises.

2. For its failure to reaffirm its plan to see the creation of 725,000 jobs.

3. For its failure to reaffirm its commitment not to cut health care funding.

4. For proceeding hastily to cut welfare benefits while the promise to help people get off welfare and into the workforce goes unfulfilled.

5. For its failure to put forward a constructive agenda, and for instead practising the politics of punishment and intolerance.

6. For its overwhelming and clear commitment to put Ontario on a path toward higher unemployment, a widening gap between the rich and poor, a health care system faced with cutbacks and threatened with user fees, reduced access to education and policies that benefit the wealthy most at the expense of the most vulnerable in society.

I present this amendment to the resolution on the throne speech and assure this House that it is an agenda we will oppose.

The Speaker: I have a motion that's moved by Mrs McLeod, and it's seconded. Is there further debate?

Mr David S. Cooke (Windsor-Riverside): I move adjournment of the debate.

The Speaker: Carried? Carried.

Hon Dianne Cunningham (Minister of Intergovernmental Affairs, with responsibility for Women's Issues): I move adjournment of the House.

The Speaker: Is it the pleasure of the House that the motion carry? Carried. This House stands adjourned until tomorrow at 1:30 of the clock.

The House adjourned at 1628.