36th Parliament, 1st Session

L005 - Tue 3 Oct 1995 / Mar 3 Oct 1995
























































The House met at 1330.




Mr Bernard Grandmaître (Ottawa East): I am pleased today to recognize St Jerome's Day. Named after the Christian saint of translators, September 30 has been declared National and International Translation Day by the Canadian Translators and Interpreters Council and the International Federation of Translators, a worldwide organization having consultative status with UNESCO.

Here in our province, members of the Association of Translators and Interpreters of Ontario, or ATIO, have been undertaking the valuable work of translating and interpreting since 1921. ATIO, which presently has about 1,000 members, is the oldest translators' association in Canada and the first in the world to obtain legal status for its members in 1989.

La capacité de communiquer en nombreuses langues, compte tenu des particularités culturelles de chacun, est un facteur de toute première importance pour l'harmonie sociale et pour le développement dans notre province.

Je profite de cette occasion pour rendre hommage aux membres de l'ATIO qui, de par leur travail dans les secteurs public et privé, contribuent si précieusement à l'atteinte de ces objectifs.


Mr Peter Kormos (Welland-Thorold): It's with great sadness, yet at the same time great pride that I want to speak to this assembly today about Ray Napper from Welland who was laid to rest in Welland this morning after being taken from his family, his friends and his community at the very early age of 63.

For 18 years, Ray Napper had run Napper's Boxing Club at great cost to himself both monetarily and in terms of the time commitment that he made to youngsters and what have now become generations of boxers, including Tom Glesby, Canadian national heavyweight champion.

Nobody was ever denied access to Napper's Boxing Club because they didn't have any money, because Ray would take care of any kid who wandered through those doors. In a gentle, avuncular style that one may not normally associate with the sport of boxing, Ray cultivated and nurtured young men and young women to become strong and capable athletes, to become good sportsmen and to become committed members of their community.

Ray, as we know, coached two Canadian national boxing teams at the Olympics, both in Spain and in Korea. He nurtured the careers of many young boxers. I want to express on behalf of this assembly, on behalf of the province, our sympathies to his family, to his friends. He will certainly be missed but he has left a great legacy.


Mr Ron Johnson (Brantford): I want to take this time as well, Speaker, for the first time in the Legislature to congratulate you on winning the Speaker's chair and your personal re-election in Simcoe East.

It gives me a great deal of pride and pleasure today to inform my colleagues on both sides of the House that Brantford was recently awarded and won the 1995 Communities in Bloom competition.

For those who haven't heard about Communities in Bloom, it's a national competition for communities of a certain size and population that really vie for bragging rights to have the most beautiful community and the community with the most community spirit.

We beat out, by the way, other communities in the 30,000 to 100,000 population category, including Dartmouth, Nova Scotia; Saint-Léonard, Quebec; Brandon, Manitoba; and Lethbridge, Alberta. I think that's a significant achievement not only for Brantford but for the entire province of Ontario.

Certainly this accomplishment would not have been possible without the fine work of our mayor and city council. However, there's an example of a person in my community by the name of Margaret Howe who together with her brigade of volunteers seized the opportunity and went out and cleaned up parts of the city which otherwise would have gone unattended. It's that kind of initiative that really stands for the true meaning of community spirit in this province.

Congratulations also to the parks board of Brantford.

I can tell you that the people of Brantford have always known the wonderful community that we live in. We've taken some hard knocks economically in the past, but winning this competition comes as a vindication of the kind of spirit and drive that prevails in Brantford.


Mr Pat Hoy (Essex-Kent): With $20 billion worth of value added agricultural sales, the Liberal Party recognizes that agriculture is crucial to Ontario's economy. In fact, it is the second-largest industry in Ontario after the automotive industry. As a farmer and the Liberal Agriculture co-critic, I intend to be a strong voice for agriculture, to speak for the farmers who represent only 2% of the population, yet are responsible for such a huge contribution to our economic wellbeing.

When the NDP assault on agriculture reduced agricultural spending by 14% and reduced agriculture's share of the provincial budget by 25%, the Tory revolution document promised, and I will read this directly, "Under a Mike Harris government, agriculture will regain its fair share of government support." It's right in here for everyone to see.

Just over a year ago, Mr Premier, you stood in this House, and I would like to remind you of your words. You said, "In the Common Sense Revolution, we call for no cuts to agriculture: not a single nickel." You reiterated that promise over and over during the campaign.

This is a betrayal, Premier and Minister of Agriculture, a betrayal and a breach of trust. You may have a majority in this House, but as long as I am here I won't let you forget your broken promises.



Mr Len Wood (Cochrane North): Today, I would like to direct my statement to the Minister of Transportation. Recently, I heard the Ministry of Transportation plans to cut the use of snowplows and sanders in the north. This is an essential service. Northern highways during the winter months need to be clear and safe.

The plans, I understand, are to reduce plowing by a quarter and sanding by 30%. Highway 11 will remain a priority, but Highway 655 linking Driftwood to Timmins and Highway 634 connecting Smooth Rock Falls to Fraserdale will be cleared only after the Trans-Canada route has been cleared. Route 631 between Hornepayne and Highway 11 would also be affected.

With these reductions, we'd be looking at a disastrous scenario in the north. The clearance of Highways 655, 631 and 634 is a priority. Even in the north, life must go on.

Lives will be placed on the line, including young lives. Babies are not delivered in Smooth Rock Falls; they are delivered in Timmins. If the roads are not cleared and the planes cannot fly, pregnant women would be in a predicament indeed.

We already have two or three deaths a year on the road in northern Ontario due to hazardous driving conditions. No doubt more lives will be at risk. There needs to be a more reasoned approach to trimming government spending. Cutting the budget and risking lives is not an approach that would be taken by a responsible government.


Mr Leo Jordan (Lanark-Renfrew): I wish to draw the attention of the House to the previous government's labour legislation, Bill 40.

Already, small business owners from Lanark-Renfrew are writing to me requesting that I, as a government member, stay the course and help repeal this divisive, job-destroying bill. During the election, many business people in my riding spoke out against the former government's bill. Now the people of Lanark-Renfrew want to ensure that their newly elected government does as it promised.

Furthermore, I wish to reassure my constituents that we are going to restore balance to Ontario's labour laws. We are going to do what is right for the hardworking people of Lanark-Renfrew. We are going to repeal Bill 40.


Mr Dwight Duncan (Windsor-Walkerville): This summer, Mike Harris and the Conservative government began to dismantle many things. There's one thing they've been extremely successful at dismantling, and that's their own credibility.

Remember Mike Harris's promise to protect health care spending? Gone. The Conservatives have chopped $132 million from the health budget and the government is said to be looking at another $2 billion in health cuts and 32 hospital closures across the province.

Remember the Premier's promise to spare seniors and disabled from his knife? Gone. The Conservatives have targeted seniors and the disabled for massive cuts. Wheel-Trans has already been chopped, and the cabinet is now considering gutting the seniors' prescription drug program.

Do you remember Mike Harris's promise to protect funding to law enforcement and justice budgets? Gone. The Conservatives have already cut $14 million from the budgets of the Attorney General and the Solicitor General; this while Conservative cuts to municipalities promise to eat into the budgets of police forces right across this province.

Do you remember that government's promise to find work for people on welfare? Gone. The Conservatives have no jobs for those on welfare and no plans to give them a hand up, just advice on how to buy tuna.

Gone with these and many other Conservative promises is the credibility Mike Harris promised when he said, "If I fail to deliver on my commitments as Premier, I'll resign." Shame on you. Shame on the government.


Ms Frances Lankin (Beaches-Woodbine): I wish to bring to the attention of members of this House a proposal by a company named Bedrock Resources. This proposal is to dredge sand from the bottom of Lake Ontario. The proposed area for dredging is located due south of my constituency of Beaches-Woodbine.

Our community's major concerns, in addition to the complete lack of public input thus far on the proposal, are, firstly, the possible contamination of our drinking water and that the supply for all of Metro Toronto is at risk. The dredging is very close to the intake pipe for the R.H. Harris water filtration plant, which of course supplies all of Metro Toronto.

Secondly, the 54 million tons of lake bottom that we're talking about that would be dredged is possibly playing a very important role in the management of toxins in the lake bottom, and the resuspension of toxins is definitely a threat to our environment and to our public health.

Third, the threat of erosion, to the beach shoreline certainly but also to the very sensitive land structures of the Scarborough Bluffs, is an issue for consideration.

The heavy schedule of dredging, the noise, the visual pollution and the water safety are all issues that need to be examined, and of course the potential impact on the community's recreational amenities, fish habitats and waterfront regeneration projects.

The Minister of Natural Resources has received a letter from me detailing all of these concerns and I request him to respond as soon as possible. This project is not appropriate to an area where so many people, as well as the environment, will be negatively affected by its implementation.

Public awareness has heightened. The city of Toronto and Metro have both rejected this proposal, and I urge the minister to stop it now.


Mrs Helen Johns (Huron): Yesterday, I had the pleasure of sponsoring and speaking at the Community Health Fair on the front lawns of the Legislature. It was sponsored by the Association of Ontario Health Centres and launched the second annual Community Health Week.

This year's theme is entitled Taking Back Our Health. In other words, in the words of the executive director of the association: "Meaningful health reform can only be achieved through the active involvement of individuals, families and communities. [This] is an urgent call for community responsibility, action and self-reliance in the matter of life and health."

Over 50 agencies, including community health centres, presented information about the important factors that affect our health.

Community health centres are the kind of innovative organizations that this government wants to encourage. Community health centres have strong community involvement, high volunteer participation and foster partnership with other non-profit and charitable groups from outside government.

Many of the community health centres have also been leaders in making maximum use of their limited resources, and I would like to take this opportunity to congratulate them on their outstanding contributions to our community.


The Speaker (Hon Allan K. McLean): I would like to inform the members of the Legislative Assembly that we have in the Speaker's gallery today a delegation from Serra San Bruno, Calabria, Italy, headed by His Worship Mayor Mr Nazzareno Salerno. Please join me in welcoming our guests.


The Speaker (Hon Allan K. McLean): I beg to inform the House that I have today laid upon the table a copy of an order in council appointing the following members as commissioners to the Board of Internal Economy:

The Speaker, who shall be chair;

The Honourable David J. Johnson, Chair of the Management Board of Cabinet, appointed by the Lieutenant Governor in Council from among the members of the executive council;

The Honourable Robert Runciman, Solicitor General and Minister of Correctional Services, appointed by the Lieutenant Governor in Council from among the members of the executive council;

The Honourable Noble A. Villeneuve, Minister of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs, appointed by the Lieutenant Governor in Council from among the members of the executive council;

Isabel Bassett, MPP, appointed by the caucus of the government;

Elinor Caplan, MPP, appointed by the caucus of the official opposition;

David Cooke, MPP, appointed by the caucus of the New Democratic Party of Ontario.




Hon William Saunderson (Minister of Economic Development, Trade and Tourism): A priority of this government is to restore Ontario to its former position as a place of opportunity and growth. We are very mindful of the need to increase the opportunity for employment in Ontario.

My background has taught me that government does not create jobs. But there is a great deal government can do to encourage job creation: by removing barriers to economic growth; by helping to shape the environment in which businesses and jobs flourish; by improving the ability for us to compete more effectively in an extremely competitive global marketplace.

Today my colleagues and I will be announcing some of the measures we are taking to facilitate job creation. My colleague the Minister of Consumer and Commercial Relations will introduce amendments to the Corporations Information Act that will revoke the annual $50 filing fee which, I might add, will reduce red tape, and this is clearly a barrier to business and job growth.

Mr Floyd Laughren (Nickel Belt): A major barrier. Major barrier.

Hon Mr Saunderson: It is.

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

Hon Mr Saunderson: My colleague the Minister of Environment and Energy will announce measures to freeze for five years the average rate charged for electricity by Ontario Hydro.

Finally, my colleague the Minister of Transportation will announce new legislation under the Ontario railways act to encourage investors to establish and to operate shortline railways in Ontario.

Combined, these initiatives further demonstrate our commitment to further expand employment opportunities in our province and put our economy back on a course to full recovery.


Hon Norman W. Sterling (Minister of Consumer and Commercial Relations): Later today I will be introducing for first reading amendments to the Corporations Information Act. As one of the first orders of business of our government, I am delighted to inform members of the House that we are acting on our election commitment that the annual $50 filing fee imposed on Ontario corporations will be eliminated. This will be retroactive to July 1, 1995, five days after we took office.

We have also suspended the current annual return filing cycle, which runs from July 1, 1995 to June 30, 1996. Beginning on January 1, 1997, corporations will file basic corporate information with the Ministry of Finance along with their corporate tax filing.

The Finance ministry will then transmit the corporate public record information back to the companies branch in my ministry.

This is great news for many corporations. It means filing with just one ministry, not two. It also means fewer administrative costs, less paperwork and even less dealings with the government. It's good for Ontario, good for job creation and especially good for small business.

Of the approximately 400,000 corporations registered on the public record, 300,000 will give us corporate information through their corporate tax return. The other 100,000, which don't file a corporate tax return, will file a corporate annual return with the Ministry of Finance but without a fee.

I'd like to add that as a result of this new integrated data collection program, this province will have the most streamlined reporting process of all Canadian jurisdictions and will be the only province in all of Canada without an annual filing fee.

We believe this is an important step towards simplifying the filing processes in Ontario. It's also an example of this government's commitment to streamline all its operations and procedures.

In summary, for the great majority of companies in our province this amendment will mean a reporting process combining forms and filing and with no fee. I urge all members to support this bill, which cuts red tape and duplication, which I will introduce later today.


Hon Brenda Elliott (Minister of Environment and Energy): It gives me great pleasure to share with my colleagues in the Legislature today an important action this government has taken with respect to Ontario Hydro electricity rates.

For many years we have enjoyed relatively low-cost electricity. However, this changed in the late 1980s and the early 1990s as Ontario Hydro's financial situation worsened. As a matter of fact, between 1988 and 1993 electricity prices rose 36.3%. Simply put, Ontario Hydro's competitive edge had been allowed to slide.

Some large industrial consumers and municipal utilities threatened to buy electricity from other suppliers. Some businesses threatened to move out of the province. Residential consumers were hit hard and no longer believed they were getting top value for their dollar.

This government understands the need for stable energy prices. Today, through the Ministry of Environment and Energy, we are taking another step towards ending the era of spiralling expenses.

In the Common Sense Revolution we promised a five-year freeze on the rates Ontario Hydro charges its customers. Today we are making good on that commitment. Last Wednesday, as announced in the throne speech, I advised Ontario Hydro chair Maurice Strong of the government's decision. We are holding Ontario Hydro accountable for ensuring no increases in its average rate between January 1, 1996, and December 31, 2000.

With this announcement our message is clear: Ontario is open for business; Ontario is offering unprecedented stability. To employers and industry, to families struggling to balance the household books and to young adults juggling bills as they strike out on their own, the message is clear: We are listening.

Taking inflation into account, we anticipate an average 15% reduction in the price Ontario Hydro customers will pay for electricity. This is good news for the municipal utilities, for large industries and for the rural customers who buy electricity directly from Ontario Hydro.

We are counting on our partners in the municipal electrical system to support our efforts by holding down their costs and rates. In doing so, they will pass on the benefits of the rate freeze to their residential customers.

We recognize that Ontario Hydro already has cut costs to become more competitive, and we fully expect the utility to continue to look for new ways to further reduce its average rate during the five-year period.

We also appreciate the need to ensure that Ontario Hydro can maintain its financial soundness and meet its debt obligations. To this end, Ontario Hydro will retain the flexibility to adjust to changed market conditions or unforeseen circumstances.

Stable electricity rates are essential to creating a thriving business climate in this province, and they are essential to Ontarians who need and deserve a solid foundation on which to build for the future. This five-year freeze will help restore Ontario's competitive edge and put Ontario in great shape to meet the challenges of the 21st century.



Hon Al Palladini (Minister of Transportation): I rise today to introduce legislation that will remove one of the major roadblocks to the creation of shortline railways in Ontario. This legislation will make it easier to start a shortline rail service in Ontario. It will free up the private sector to create jobs.

Short lines give us a way to keep freight moving by rail. With their small, flexible workforces and low operating costs they can tailor their service to shippers' needs. Above all, they are the way the rail industry is moving in the 1990s.

Ontario's railway laws were last updated in 1950. The world some 45 years later is a much different place. Today shortline operators face a maze of rules and regulations. Ontario's current laws make it time-consuming, expensive and risky to set up a short line.

Investors are interested in doing business in Ontario. They believe they can run these short lines at a profit, and so do we. We will help them by removing barriers to business. This will allow them to do what they do best: create jobs. Together with the measures announced by my colleagues this legislation will help make Ontario's economy stronger.


Mr Monte Kwinter (Wilson Heights): I was disappointed in the minister's initial statement. I was quite pleased when I heard he was going to be making a statement. I thought maybe he would address some of the shortcomings of the speech from the throne. When you consider that trade constitutes one third of the total economy of Ontario and there wasn't even a mention of it in the throne speech, I was anticipating that maybe I would have heard something about that today.

Instead the minister made a statement in which he said his colleagues and he would be announcing measures. I kept looking. I looked on both sides. There are no measures that he announced. He was acting as a master of ceremonies for his other colleagues, and I would hope that in the future, when he's going to stand in this House, he will have a more meaningful role rather than announce what his other ministers are going to say.


Mr Bruce Crozier (Essex South): To the Minister of Consumer and Commercial Relations: We acknowledge with interest and pleasure that you have taken an important step in simplifying the filing fee and reducing the cost of $50. It's only a surprise to me that you didn't announce that you were going to have a 1-800 number -- 1-800-NOFEE -- but in any event I suspect corporations will find this in due course. I would hope that the minister will continue on this course to practise the 3Rs with regulations, that is, to review, reduce and rescind.


Mr Mike Colle (Oakwood): I'm glad that the shortline railway announcement was made, but the thing I have trouble digesting is that this has been in the guise of job creation. I wonder what the net job creation is when you take into account that this minister has taken away 18,000 jobs from subway construction in Metro, has gutted GO expansion -- you can't even get in and out of Union Station -- and then the disabled transit across this province is being gutted. How many jobs were lost there, and what do you net out with this minor announcement here?


Mr Sean G. Conway (Renfrew North): Concerning the announcement today about a five-year freeze on Hydro rates, I'm sure the people of Ontario will be pleased to know that the new government has issued an instruction to carry forward the recent pattern of freezes on Hydro rates. I must say that Hydro rates are something that touch all of us in the Ontario community and in the Ontario economy. I repeat, I'm sure there is widespread approval across the province today for the commitment to maintain a zero increase through to the end of this decade and into the year 2000.

Mr James J. Bradley (St Catharines): However --

Mr Conway: However, I do note -- and let me read from the statement -- that the government appreciates "the need to ensure that Ontario Hydro can maintain its financial soundness and meet debt obligations. To this end, Ontario Hydro will retain the flexibility to adjust to changed market conditions or unforeseen circumstances that may arise." That is the parachute clause that we should all note.

I think it also has to be observed that while the public, and certainly business, will be very pleased to see this five-year freeze, there is also an expectation that the government and the crown corporation are going to maintain a utility that is reliable in terms of its service.

There is clearly a very deep-seated concern at the Atomic Energy Control Board, the federal regulator, about the safety performance of certain of Ontario Hydro's installations in this province. Honourable members will know that in recent weeks there have been reports from the AECB which raise very serious and legitimate concerns about the safety performance of some of our nuclear reactors. The question is being raised, not just by the federal regulator but by others in the province and country, as to what is being sacrificed in terms of safety at Ontario Hydro in these deliberations.

So let me say that we are pleased to see measures taken to moderate rates but we expect that the government and the utility will ensure that there is a reliability of service and, most especially, that the safety of Hydro workers and Ontario citizens will be in no way jeopardized as we move forward to control costs.


Mr Tony Silipo (Dovercourt): I rise to begin our response to the statements by the ministers across. I have to say that we know the Minister of Economic Development, Trade and Tourism comes to this place with a fairly good business reputation. So I think it's startling, to say the least, that he begins a statement around job creation and does not reiterate this government's commitment to the 725,000 jobs. I think it is therefore a very telling conclusion that we can come to, that this government has abandoned that commitment. I think that time will confirm that in fact they have done just that because, again, what a terrific opportunity for them to reiterate that commitment in what purports to be a major statement on job creation.

We don't believe that the attitude that this government is taking, of simply abandoning the field, of simply getting out of the way, is going to create the kinds of jobs that we need in this province. We believe that what you need is a partnership between government, business and labour working together, as we did, to create jobs.

That is what I think this government will find as they develop their ultra laissez-faire approach, that they will not create the jobs and people will be hurt because of the mean-spirited approach that they are taking of removing, one after the other, protections that are there for workers, structures that have been built up through the labour legislation of this province, through the health and safety protections of this province, to create a balance in the work environment that says that government does play a role in working together with business in creating a healthy climate.

That is the way you create jobs in this province, that is what's missing from this government and that is what will come back to haunt them, when the jobs they have committed themselves to and that they are now reneging on today will come back to haunt them.

Mr Peter Kormos (Welland-Thorold): Job creation. Yeah, sure. That's about as believable as the proposition that the O.J. jury wasn't in a hurry to get home. This has nothing to do with job creation. This has a whole lot to do with piecing off the corporate world, piecing off the Tories' good buddies on Bay Street. They don't know who small business is. Down in Welland-Thorold small businesses aren't incorporated; they're mom-and-pop operations.

These guys have the audacity to impose user fees on the sick, to cut the welfare rates of the poor and their children, to impose user fees on every other sector of the taxpaying society, to ignore the unemployed, and then they give this little giveaway to their corporate buddies and they don't expect the corporate world to accept some of the financial responsibility for maintaining a registry system that, in large part, is consumer protection in device and orientation. That's an abandonment of consumers and that's a piece-off to the corporate world. Shame.


Ms Marilyn Churley (Riverdale): To the Minister of Environment and Energy, I, on behalf of our caucus, would also like to say that we're very happy to hear that you are following through with the NDP's commitment to freeze rates. That was not in your statement; you cut it off somewhere way back there.

I do want to point out to people -- I have two documents here. One is the famous Common Sense Revolution and the other is the throne speech, and also your document of today.

If you will look in the Common Sense Revolution, you will see that it says, "A five-year freeze will be placed on Hydro rates." In your statement today and in the throne speech, it says a "commitment to freeze the average rates charged by Ontario Hydro." I would ask the minister exactly what this means. I think it means that there's going to be a freeze on rates for some people and not for others.

There are also implications of privatization that she did not get into today. We'd be very interested to hear from her on what she's talking about.



Mr Gilles Pouliot (Lake Nipigon): In response to the statement by the Minister of Transportation, this is a precursor of what's about to happen. The people opposite have made the decision to gut labour legislation. The result will be that workers will be left twisting in the wind. They'll be put on the human junk pile.

And yes, there are alternatives. Invite people vis-à-vis shortline establishment to negotiate, to compromise, to establish an equilibrium -- not, with respect, your extreme position, which indeed will come back to haunt you big-time in the not too distant future. Those people who are being discarded are the producers of wealth -- they're referred to as the middle class, who pay for all this -- and you're about to turn your back on them and to toss them away. Shame on you, Minister.



Mrs Lyn McLeod (Leader of the Opposition): My first question is for the Premier. Premier, over the last few days you and the Minister of Health have been talking about the challenge that you face in protecting what you have called your $17.4-billion commitment to health care. You said it would be, and I quote, "a tremendous challenge to maintain health care funding at $17.4 billion." You said, however, that your party was committed to the $17.4-billion envelope for health care.

Yesterday, the Minister of Finance tabled the 1994-95 public accounts. They show that health care spending last year actually totalled $17.8 billion. Premier, if the Ministry of Health's budget was $17.848 billion, why are you talking about a $17.4-billion budget, unless you are intending to cut health care by over $400 million? Will you confirm whether you are indeed intending to reduce health care funding by $484 million?

Hon Michael D. Harris (Premier): I think the figure of 17.4 is the one we have used, the commitment we made to the people of Ontario. If you want to get into specifics, I'll refer that to the Minister of Health.

Mr David S. Cooke (Windsor-Riverside): On a point of order, Mr Speaker: Obviously the Premier has the opportunity to refer, but he doesn't have the opportunity to answer and then refer. I just ask you to enforce the rules.

The Speaker (Hon Allan K. McLean): The Minister of Health.

Hon Jim Wilson (Minister of Health): The honourable member asks a very good question --


The Speaker: Order, please.

Hon Mr Wilson: -- and if I could hear myself think, perhaps I could answer the question for the leader of the official opposition.

I'd refer the leader of the official opposition to the 1994-95 estimates of the Ministry of Health, in which it very clearly says that the health care budget is $17,395,992,407. At the time we wrote the Common Sense Revolution, we sealed the health care budget at slightly above that, at $17.4 billion.

That commitment remains in place, and I will be happy in supplementaries to explain the well over $300 million worth of overspending that the previous government got itself into since the estimates were drawn up and during the recent campaign --

The Speaker: Order.

Hon Mr Wilson: -- where they went around this province committing dollars --

The Speaker: Order. Would the minister take his seat, please. Supplementary?

Mrs McLeod: I keep doing my best, in these first questions, to give the Premier an opportunity to take responsibility for commitments he made to the people of this province, but since he has referred the question to the Minister of Health --


The Speaker: The Leader of the Opposition has the floor.

Mrs McLeod: Since the Premier has referred this question to the Minister of Health, I say to the Minister of Health and to the Premier that the numbers are absolutely clear: $17.848 billion was the 1994-95 budget for health care spending, according to the Provincial Auditor. Those are real numbers for real funding that went to real health care services out in the communities.

There is no reason why there should be a difference between your commitment and what was actually spent on health care when you talk about freezing, sealing an envelope, because the May 1995 version of the Revolution came out after the previous government had presented its budget plan, and that budget plan clearly showed a budget of at least $17.7 billion for this year and for last year. That is consistent with the numbers that were tabled in yesterday's public accounts prior to the change to new accounting.

I believe that the taxpayers deserve a very straight answer from this government. You said that you would not cut health care. You knew that the health care budget was $17.7 billion or better. Do you not consider a $484-million reduction in health care funding to be a cut to health care services?

Hon Mr Wilson: At the time of the writing of the Common Sense Revolution, in May 1994, the health care budget was $17.4 billion. At that time, the former Treasurer indicated to this House that the health care budget was to be flat-lined, if not reduced by 1%. What the previous government did was run into several hundred million dollars worth of overspending that they did not intentionally spend; the fundamentals of the budget are fully preserved.

Overspending, for example, with respect to the long-term-care facilities, where they undercollected on the revenues -- they brought in $150 million worth of new user fees or copayments in the long-term-care facilities and did not collect that. Therefore, the government's estimates show they should have had that money. They didn't. It was overspent. There's $40 million worth of irresponsible overspending on the drug side, which, by the way, is being carried forward year after year after year. So this is not $40 million on drugs, which they carry forward year after year after year --

The Speaker: Could the minister wrap up his answer, please.

Hon Mr Wilson: I will continue the list, particularly with respect to physicians' services, where the government did not live with the budget it set out --

The Speaker: Order. Supplementary?

Mrs McLeod: I look forward to reviewing the minister's answer in Hansard and determining just who it is he's claiming has made this irresponsible spending on drugs, who it is who determines it's irresponsible. I think as we begin to examine a little bit of the minister's answer, we may get some sense of where in fact they are going to make the cuts to health care service, because it is quite clear they are making cuts to health care service. A cut is a cut. You've said that you are using the $17.4-billion envelope for health care. That means you are going to be cutting some $484 million from the current health care budget. Little by little over the last few days we've seen some of the reductions you're prepared to make to health care services, whether it is funding for birthing centres or home care or indeed the Ontario drug benefit plan.

Minister, I ask you today to come absolutely clean with the people of this province. Since you've acknowledged you're going to be cutting health care services, will you give us some details of where those health care services are going to be cut, what is going to be affected? Do you not feel the public has a right to know?

Hon Mr Wilson: The honourable member asks a good question. Perhaps I could be clearer. All members are aware that currently this government is charged with collecting over $200 million in overspending, in overpayments to physicians of this province. We are budgeting our health care budget to live within the fiscal envelope that we promised the people of Ontario. We have overspending out there which those line items that the member refers to in the estimates show.

I hope the honourable member isn't saying that somehow I should forgive $225 million to physicians in overspending which is now being recovered under the NDP social contract legislation. I hope you're not saying that when nurses and front-line hospital workers and teachers and everyone else in the broader public sector paid their social contract contributions -- I hope you're not telling me today to forgive the physicians the $225 million that they owe to this government as part of the previous government's social contract legislation. That shows as an overspending on the books. We're going to recover that and we're going to stick to the $17.4 billion we committed to with the people of Ontario.

Mrs McLeod: Mr Speaker, if we could get a budget from this government backed by estimates, we'd know what we could suggest about what this government is doing.



Mrs Lyn McLeod (Leader of the Opposition): My second question follows from that and it is a question to the Solicitor General. Last week the Chairman of Management Board announced that the government had exceeded its savings targets and had in fact found excess savings. What he failed to mention on that particular day was any detail of what the savings would be and how they would affect the people of this province. Little by little, we are finding out where those savings are being achieved.

Today we have learned from Joan Winchell, who is the executive director of the Elizabeth Fry Society of Peel, that the Solicitor General has sent notice that he is closing Ontario's 25 halfway houses. We understand that letters have been sent today to the agencies that operate these facilities to tell them that they will be closed in 90 days.

I ask the Solicitor General, will you confirm that this is the case, that you are closing all of the 25 halfway houses and that you are sending the residents back to jail?

Hon Bob Runciman (Solicitor General and Minister of Correctional Services): I will confirm what the Leader of the Opposition is saying. We are informing the operators of the CRCs in this province that at the end of their contracts we will no longer be continuing with their services.

Mrs McLeod: I believe that this minister, as a minister of the crown, has a responsibility to do more than just follow the blindfolded direction of the revolution; he also has a responsibility to the people of this province. One of the responsibilities is to tell them what it is he is doing as Solicitor General and how his actions will affect their communities and the safety of their communities.

I don't know, Minister, when you were planning to come to this House and make an announcement that would tell the public that you were taking this action. Perhaps you would be prepared to tell us at least what the impact will be of closing these halfway houses, which provide the counselling and support that people need in order to make a successful transition to the community. How many more repeat offenders are we likely to see? What will the increased jail costs be as you send the residents back to jail? What will the increased cost to police budgets be? These are questions that you have a responsibility to answer, Minister, and the public has a right to answers today.

Hon Mr Runciman: Our public announcements were going to be made following consultation and notification of the affected agencies.


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

Hon Mr Runciman: That notification is taking place today, and there will be approximately a 90-day period in terms of the closures taking place. We're talking about approximately 400, at the most, offenders who are utilizing these facilities.

We're also announcing today an alternative in respect to how we're going to deal with low-risk offenders in the province with the initiation of an electronic monitoring system to be brought in very early in the new year.

Mrs McLeod: It is totally unacceptable that the minister gives notice to the agencies providing the service only after the media discover that he has already made that decision, and he still does not come to this Legislature and make that announcement so that the public is fully aware of what he is doing.

Minister, I also want to take you back to a commitment that was made, a commitment in the Revolution document that says, on page 8, "funding for law enforcement and justice will be guaranteed."

As I understand a guarantee, or whatever the term used to mean, I think it would mean that there would be no cuts to law enforcement and to justice. You have just cut $11 million from law enforcement and justice, and that is another broken promise. We have just the cut. We have no alternative; we have no reinvestment. Are you going to claim today that the money is somehow going to be reinvested, even though the Minister of Finance is already using that money to reduce his deficit or will you acknowledge that this is another cut and another broken promise?

Hon Mr Runciman: I won't acknowledge that at all. In fact, this is a tougher way of dealing with offenders in society. We're going to be monitoring them on a 24-hour basis. We also are implementing a very tough and rigid risk assessment with respect to people who will be allowed out on electronic monitoring. We're only going to allow individuals who pose no risk to society; very strict criteria in respect to who can qualify for the use of electronic monitoring anklets.

I feel quite comfortable with the changes we're making. Our commitment has always been to public safety, unlike the Liberals, who have come new to this issue in the last couple of years.

The Speaker: Leader of the third party.

Mr Bob Rae (York South): To the Solicitor General: In light of how comfortable the Solicitor General feels with this decision, I wonder if the Solicitor General can please tell us, after all his time in opposition when he would complain about statements being made outside the House and everywhere else, why isn't he in the House today making a statement with respect to this cut?

Hon Mr Runciman: I appreciate the leader of the third party's comments, although certainly it's not a policy his government followed and indeed we did complain on a consistent basis about the practice adopted by the ministers of the crown during his government, who virtually always failed to make announcements in this Legislature.

I can't address the leaks that got out in terms of people being informed, but I want to say --


The Speaker: Order.

Hon Mr Runciman: -- it was certainly the intention of this government and this ministry to ensure that all of the affected agencies and individuals and employees were informed prior to me making a statement in this House. That was always the intention of this government.

Mr Rae: The minister is in government now and he has to take responsibility for the fact that his government has cut $11 million, it would appear -- we don't have any facts and figures in front of us; we only know what we've also been told -- some $11 million from his budget, which is a complete break of the promise the government made with respect to law enforcement. I think we're entitled to at least ask the minister, can he tell us whether as a result of this measure he anticipates that people who are now in halfway houses will be going back to jail?

Hon Mr Runciman: Yes, they will be going back to jail. The intent is that following the completion of the contracts, all the offenders will be reincarcerated. As I said, we have developed very strict criteria in respect to the types of individuals who can qualify for electronic monitoring. As well, they're going to be subjected to a very rigid risk assessment so we can ensure that any individuals who are allowed out into the communities on electronic monitoring as a replacement for CRCs will pose virtually no risk to society.

Mr Rae: The Solicitor General is not presenting us with any facts or with any information with respect to what's taking place. There's no review of the impacts; no review in terms of the impacts on public safety, people coming right out of prison right back on to the street without any effort at integration, any effort at education, any effort at giving people a chance to get a job, any effort at getting people back -- just keep them in jail and then put a prod on them and that'll be the answer to the problem.

I'd like to ask the Solicitor General, can he tell us today the comparative cost of keeping an individual incarcerated in prison compared to the cost of keeping them in a halfway house? Can you tell us that today?

Hon Mr Runciman: Our intent is not to keep them in jail, in terms of the individuals who qualify.

This system, in terms of electronic monitoring, has been in use in 50 states across the US. It's used by British Columbia, it's used by Nova Scotia, it's used by Roy Romanow in Saskatchewan, and we feel quite comfortable with the process.


We're talking about a pilot project. We're talking about, at the most, 400 offenders who are currently occupying the CRCs. We're not talking about a massive project here.

We believe this is going to be a tougher system in terms of 24-hour continuous monitoring of these individuals when they're in the community. We're adopting very strict criteria in terms of the individuals who will be allowed out so that they pose no risk to the community, and I feel very comfortable with it. I'm very comfortable with the fact that we're keeping our commitments in respect of public safety.

Mr Rae: The fact that the minister feels comfortable is something that gives many of us a great deal of concern.


Mr Bob Rae (York South): I'd like to ask a question of the Minister of Community and Social Services. I'd like to ask the Minister of Community and Social Services, when was the last time he bought tuna at 69 cents a tin?

Hon David H. Tsubouchi (Minister of Community and Social Services): I guess this is a lesson on economics.

I also apologize again. I still have a touch of laryngitis.


Hon Mr Tsubouchi: Thank you for the sympathy.

To the leader of the third party, there are many places where you can buy tuna for 69 cents. In fact, even if it's not priced at 69 cents, quite often you can make a deal to get it for 69 cents.

Mr Rae: Since the minister is now on record as saying that he himself has gone and bought tuna for 69 cents a tin, I'm sure he'd like to tell everybody where that is.

I'd like to ask him by way of supplementary, in response to his answer, which I can honestly say I was not anticipating so I do not have a text for this, but I'd like to ask him, when was the last time he bartered for food?

Hon Mr Tsubouchi: These are very interesting questions today and I thank the leader of the third party for them.

I think the whole object here is to look and see whether or not we're looking at the rate cuts. Obviously this is what the leader of the third party is getting at. We strongly believe that we have reduced the rates to 10% above the average in the other provinces. With all due respect, I think the leader of the third party is really asking whether or not it's possible to buy food on this type of a budget.

I would be happy to share with the leader of the third party perhaps not the entire text of this but certainly afterwards I can share this with you. I had some research done to indicate how and whether or not someone who is a sole single on benefits or a single parent with a child -- we've actually provided a budget here. Someone had asked me that before, whether or not someone can budget for this. I have it here in this binder. I'd be willing to share this with the leader of the third party.

Mr Rae: I'd love to have it. I'd love to have a copy and I'd like to share it with all the working parents of this province. I'd like to share it with the women and children who are out there now. I'd like to know what you and your ministry and the cabinet think is enough to live on. I think the people of this province would like to know what that is, and I'd like to hear from them, because I trust their judgement a whole lot more than I trust yours or the cabinet's on the basis of what it takes to live in this province. Their experience is much more eloquent than your data.

By way of final supplementary, the minister's aware that under the existing way of life for people on social assistance there are 100,000 people on social assistance who are now working in the STEP program. I wonder if the minister can explain why those people who are now working -- not the ones that you've ordered to go out and get a job, not the ones that you've told should go out and get a job, the people who are now working -- why, for example, for a single person who's working, their rate has gone from $842.85 to $769.85 and why a single parent with one child who's working under the STEP program is going from $1,721.95 to $1,393.69. Why, even in the world of your own tellings, of your own truths, of your own pieties, would you be punishing who have already taken your advice and have gone out and gotten a job? Why are you punishing those people as well? You're punishing everybody in the province.

Hon Mr Tsubouchi: First of all, our government is committed to breaking the cycle of dependency and giving people the incentive to get back to work. With all due respect once again, our commitment was to make sure that people have the opportunity to earn back the difference between the old base rate and the new base rate. We're not taking about programs to enhance income, which obviously the leader of the third party is right now. So I don't have to explain this, because once again we strongly believe that by reducing the rates 10% above the average of the other provinces, not at the average of the other provinces but 10% above, certainly this is going to be sufficient.

The Speaker (Hon Allan K. McLean): Official opposition, new question.

Mr Dominic Agostino (Hamilton East): My question is for the Minister of Community and Social Services. Minister, this is a can of tuna -- it is dented -- for $1.09. If you can tell me where you can get a dented can for 69 cents, please let me know because we'll buy it. Take a close look at it -- not 69 cents, $1.09 at every store where you can get it.

The Speaker: Was that your question?

Mr Agostino: No, it's not. Minister, in the throne speech, in the House yesterday, yourself, the Premier, stated that welfare recipients could earn back the amount of money you reduced without a penalty, a clawback or a reduction. Minister, this information is inaccurate; it is dead wrong; it is a myth.

In fact, this government by its policies is punishing people on welfare who want to work. You're penalizing people who you encourage to go out and get a job and then the clawback does not allow them to earn the amount of money that you've cut from them.

Minister, you know your statements are wrong. You do not understand the system. You do not understand your own ministry regulations. How can you make changes to the act without a common understanding of what you're doing? How can such punishing changes take place when the minister does not understand the social assistance system in Ontario?

The Speaker: The question's been asked.

Mr Agostino: I ask you to admit to the House today that the information in the throne speech that you gave, that the Premier gave, was wrong. Will you commit to changing the regulations for people with jobs to earn it back?

Hon Mr Tsubouchi: It's difficult to pick a question out of all that rhetoric. But, once again, with a little bit of work the people in this province have the opportunity to earn back the difference between the old rate and the new rate. Once again, I have to say that what we have done is remove disincentives for people to get back to work. It's very important for people to get off this cycle of dependency, and this is what this is intended to do.

Mr Agostino: Again, the minister by that answer has shown us once again that he does not understand his own regulations, does not understand the comments he made yesterday. Minister, yesterday you said people can earn back the amount you cut without a penalty or a clawback clause.

The reality is, with a single person, a single parent with one child or a couple with two children, in every single case the clawback clause kicks in before the reduction so therefore they will be reduced the amount of money that they can earn before you take away from them. You allow people after the clawback to keep 25% of what they earn. Before that happens, the reduction is already greater than you have anticipated.

Minister, the information you gave is wrong. You're not addressing the question again. These misguided and uninformed decisions are causing the hardship, the pain and the chaos in Ontario today. What province do we live in? What irrational decisions is the government going to make today?

Again I ask you, Minister, can you clarify your statements of yesterday, where you stated that the clawback clause you have in your regulations to allow people to earn back what you have deducted from them -- because the facts do not bear that out. Change your regulations and make consistent what you and the Premier have said in the House.


Mrs Elinor Caplan (Oriole): Just say yes.

Interjection: Who's asking you the question?

Hon Mr Tsubouchi: Yes, is this the second question?

I will say this to the honourable member for Hamilton East: We are prepared to ensure that there is the flexibility in the system to make sure that everybody can earn back the difference without clawback. This is an assurance I will give to the member.

Secondly, I just want to repeat the message one more --

Mrs Caplan: Repeat that.

Hon Mr Tsubouchi: Would you like me to repeat that? Is that what you said? I will ensure that there is the flexibility there. We've had individual circumstances brought up prior to this date in the House. I've also asked that if these circumstances are brought to my attention, we will deal with them. I will give this House the assurance that everybody will be able to earn back, without clawback, the difference between the old rate and the new rate.


Mr Floyd Laughren (Nickel Belt): I have a question for the Minister of Health. We are continuing to hear reports from various sources in the media and from within his own ministry and elsewhere that there are very substantial cuts coming in transfers to hospitals. Can I ask the minister very simply and very directly, is he actively considering cuts in transfers to hospitals?

Hon Jim Wilson (Minister of Health): The honourable member asks a good question. I think we've made it very clear throughout the campaign and prior to the campaign, and consistently since that time, that we are looking at all efficiencies, at all duplications, at all waste in the system, at every program. For the last 13 weeks I've been going through, line by line, the health care budget to try to find efficiencies.

No one in the six years that I've been involved in health care at the political level has ever said to me that $17.4 billion isn't enough to spend on health care. It certainly is, and we compare among the highest in the world in our per capita spending.

But we made it very clear in sealing the health care budget at $17.4 billion that the status quo was not an option and that we would look for efficiencies, we would look at better ways of managing the system and we would look at ending duplication, waste and fraud, and that's what we're doing.

Mr Laughren: I think the minister knows that we're not talking about waste and inefficiency. We're not talking about that kind of magnitude.

If the minister is not considering cuts of up to 20% for transfers, I wonder if he could explain why, in a release dated September 20 from Laurentian Hospital in Sudbury, there had been a meeting of chief financial officers, according to this release, around the middle of September at which they were told by a very senior official in the Ministry of Health -- at the assistant deputy minister level, I understand -- that they were going to have very, very substantial cuts coming, up to 20% for 1996, starting next year -- and they have to be notified ahead of time, of course -- and 10% per year for a couple of years after that.

So what I'm asking the minister is not whether or not he's trying to get waste out of the system. Of course, we're all trying to get waste out of the system; that's a given. What I'm asking him is, is he actively considering reductions of up to 20% in transfers to hospitals next year, and if so, how he thinks they can deal with that?

Hon Mr Wilson: The member points out a situation in his own area -- Laurentian Hospital, Sudbury. Sudbury is a very good example of the restructuring that's being done by that local community, and I think the purpose of that restructuring is to save some dollars in the hospital system.

Where hospital administrators in Laurentian would get the idea of a magnitude of cuts that the member suggests -- I have no idea where that would come from, and it certainly would not come from an assistant deputy minister or someone of the senior management team in my ministry.


Mr Trevor Pettit (Hamilton Mountain): Mr Speaker, on behalf of all the residents high atop Hamilton Mountain I would like to extend our congratulations and best wishes to you upon your selection as Speaker for this 36th Parliament of Ontario, and likewise to all of my colleagues here in the House.

My question is for the honourable Minister of Transportation regarding the Red Hill Creek Expressway. There exists some confusion and misunderstanding in the regional municipality of Hamilton-Wentworth with respect to funding for the Red Hill Creek Expressway, and I'm wondering if the honourable minister would, once and for all, please clarify the government's position and intent regarding funding for this project.

Hon Al Palladini (Minister of Transportation): I would like to respond to our colleague the member for Hamilton Mountain. I am very much aware of his efforts, and the rest of our colleagues' from the area, about Red Hill Creek and I would like to definitely clarify once and for all how important this project is to the region of Hamilton-Wentworth. This government is committed to complete it.

I would like to say that within two weeks of being appointed minister I met with the people of Hamilton-Wentworth to reaffirm the commitment that our Premier made prior to the election. This government has already kept many of its promises. We have taken on the responsibility of balancing the budget and completing this particular project. We will do both.

Mr Pettit: In the face of fiscal restraint, will the minister assure the people of Hamilton Mountain that he will give the Red Hill Creek Expressway his highest priority?

Hon Mr Palladini: Liberal and New Democratic governments left this province in a very deep spending crisis. This crisis had to be addressed immediately, so therefore we had to defer funding from 443 municipalities, including Hamilton-Wentworth.

Mr Mike Colle (Oakwood): Is the money there, Al?

Hon Mr Palladini: I'm very happy to say --

Mr Gilles Pouliot (Lake Nipigon): Don't send him home with that answer.

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

Hon Mr Palladini: All municipalities, I would like to assure, that whatever funds were deferred this year, they will be brought back next year. We will complete Red Hill Creek Expressway.


Mr Alvin Curling (Scarborough North): My question is to the Minister of Housing. This is very simple: Yes or no, will you be abolishing rent control?

Hon Al Leach (Minister of Municipal Affairs and Housing): To the member across, yes, eventually we will be eliminating rent control. But we are not going to affect rent control until such time as we have a tenants' protection act in place, something that provides protection to tenants. The present system is not working, I think everybody recognizes that it's not working and we intend to fix it.

Mr Curling: Mr Minister, having cancelled over 390 non-profit housing projects that would have brought on line some affordable housing and accommodation, and you're of course aware of the vacancy rate that now exists at a very, very low rate -- the CMHC has put that out -- our homeless population, as you know, is growing, and the preliminary response to this crisis by your government is to respond with a cutback on social assistance payments by over 21.6% across the board, which combined actually the increased rent of about 2.9% with the rent review process.

What we have seen is that all those questions of hope have now gone to despair in the struggle to achieve a decent, respectable standard of living. Mr Minister, I would ask that during this time of sharing, you might offer some advice to these people as to what they might do in order to salvage some dignity and respect in attempting to house themselves and their families in Thanksgiving time.

Hon Mr Leach: I quite frankly am a strong believer in the co-op housing program. I just don't think that it should be carried out on the backs of the hardworking taxpayers of Ontario. We have been encouraging all of the sponsors that were involved in the co-op housing program to go out and be able to get the bricks and mortar up and we'll provide the subsidies to the people of Ontario who need the help.



Ms Marilyn Churley (Riverdale): I have a question for the minister responsible for women's issues. During the election, the now Minister of Health said that he believed in a "seamless continuum of health care." Now, as a result of that statement, many women in my riding and across the province are very angry and very disappointed about the recent announcement to cut funding for the four birthing centres across Ontario. People feel betrayed.

We all know that at a time when we are reforming the system it is extremely important that we continue to move into -- and I believe the minister has referred to that -- providing community care. Don't tell me that it is not economic at this time. We know -- the statistics are there that show us -- that it saves money down the road, plus it gives women the choice they should have.

It's bad economics and it's bad health policy and it is sadly consistent with the actions of this government in terms of disproportionately hurting women and children in this province.

I ask the minister who is responsible for women's issues, and I know she cares, what she is saying around the cabinet table and what she is going to do about this very bad decision.

Hon Dianne Cunningham (Minister of Intergovernmental Affairs, with responsibility for Women's Issues): I don't want to disappoint my colleagues in the House in response to that question, but the Minister of Health and I have both conferred and it is his portfolio, so he will answer the question.

The Speaker (Hon Allan K. McLean): The question is referred to the Minister of Health.

Hon Jim Wilson (Minister of Health): The question of birthing centres, I think, is properly put in the context of our wanting to ensure that there isn't duplication in the system. To build a birthing centre, particularly one of those birthing centres, down the street, or, as the project suggested, on the very property where a hospital is to be vacated -- I refer to Sudbury -- seems to me to be a complete waste of taxpayers' dollars.

I said to that particular group prior to the election being called that there is no way, if we form the government, that I'm going to build bricks and mortar on the same site of an existing building that the taxpayers have already paid for. So I hope the honourable member will give this government credit for being consistent and for wanting to very much ensure that we don't have duplication of services when we have very scarce dollars to spend.

Ms Churley: Of course, I'm disappointed that the minister responsible for women's issues was not able to respond, because I do believe that she at least secretly has a different perspective on this.

I say to the minister that hospitals are most likely going to be restructured. I'd like to know if he is committing here today to free up space in those buildings to create free-standing birthing centres or not. What kind of restructuring is he looking at? But my other question here, which was to be directed at the minister responsible for women's issues, is, in general, what is happening? I wanted to hear her, and now I will ask you, Minister of Health, what you are doing as Minister of Health, along with the minister responsible for women's issues, about some of the cuts. What are you saying at the cabinet table to help protect the women and children in this province, who are disproportionately being hurt by these cuts? Children are losing welfare. They're going to go hungry. Some of them are going to be on the street. You're hurting kids who need day care.

The Speaker: Would the member wrap up her question, please.

Ms Churley: You're hurting kids who need special help. You're hurting kids and their families. I would like to know what the Minister of Health and what the minister responsible for women's issues are saying at that cabinet table to the Premier --

The Speaker: The question's been asked. Minister.

Ms Churley: -- and the minister responsible for children in this province to make sure --

The Speaker: Order. Minister.

Hon Mr Wilson: My colleague the minister responsible for women's issues, I can assure you, confers with me often about these issues.

With respect to birthing centres, the member should know, because it's some of the good work that her government did do when it was in office, we now have 28 hospitals that are providing less invasive, more woman-centred, less medical-modelled, birthing-centre-type services within the bricks and mortar of a building that the people of Ontario have already paid for. That is and will continue to be a priority.

As you know, upon our coming to office we've continued the midwifery program. We will have more midwives coming on stream, and I look forward to integrating and continuing to integrate those midwives and those services as part of a fully integrated, multidisciplinary team. The women of Ontario will be able to receive these services increasingly --

The Speaker: The question has been answered.

Hon Mr Wilson: -- as the restructuring studies consider the need for birthing centres, but within buildings that we've already paid for.


Mr Bill Vankoughnet (Frontenac-Addington): Thank you very much, Mr Speaker, and I too, on behalf of the people of Frontenac-Addington, wish to congratulate you and wish you the very best.

My question today is to the Minister of Municipal Affairs. Recently, the city of Kingston asked the minister to appoint a commissioner to review local government in the greater Kingston area. The minister has stated that he would like the city to meet with representatives of the other municipalities in the area to explore the issues and offer, if possible, some local direction to a solution.

My question is, why does the Minister of Municipal Affairs believe that a local solution to local municipal government problems in the greater Kingston area has a chance to succeed?

Hon Al Leach (Minister of Municipal Affairs and Housing): Thank you very much to the member for that question. I know that he's been very involved and very interested in that subject. This government intends to give more autonomy to municipalities throughout the province of Ontario. With that, of course, they must accept responsibility. I'm sure that the elected individuals in the communities involved have been elected by the taxpayers in their communities to make decisions, and I'm sure that they're more than capable of getting together and coming up with a solution that will be acceptable to all concerned.

Mr Vankoughnet: I appreciate that answer. I would also like to ask the minister if he would in every way possible encourage all the local stakeholders to give every consideration to all possible aspects of local government reform in Frontenac county and Lennox and Addington county, as well as the city of Kingston and the three other municipalities that are directly involved.

Hon Mr Leach: Yes, I can give that assurance to the member. I can also advise the member that the first meeting of all the heads of the communities will take place later this week.



Mr Richard Patten (Ottawa Centre): My question is for the Minister of Education and Training. Mr Minister, you've been in your position now for just over three and a half months, and I'm sure you've had a chance to develop a set of priorities that relate to improving the quality of education across this province. Would you share those with us today, please?

Hon John Snobelen (Minister of Education and Training): I thank the honourable member for his question. As the honourable member probably knows, this government came to office having made a commitment to the people of the province of Ontario to improve and enhance the quality of education in the province because it's so important to the future of the province and important to our students. We also promised the parents and the taxpayers of this province that we would do it with a better value than they have received to date, and that, sir, is the commitment of this government.

Mr Patten: I was hoping to hear from the minister that indeed he had some priorities. It seems to me that all we've heard is by way of the throne speech, cuts and limitations, the cutting of hearings, for example, that is going to hamper the wisdom of the people of Ontario for your consideration down the line. Let me ask again: Mr Minister, if indeed you have no priorities, what might be your legislative agenda?

Hon Mr Snobelen: We will be bringing forward legislation later this year to deal with such things that are so important to the people of the province of Ontario as testing and quality in education in the province. We look forward to bringing that forward some time during this session.

I also might point out that we have asked the public of Ontario to respond to some of the reports that have come out. We've had an 800 number and a written-in response, and the public has been responding to those questions.


Mr Len Wood (Cochrane North): I'd like to direct my question to the Minister of Northern Development and Mines and Natural Resources. First of all, congratulations on your re-election and your appointment to cabinet.

Recently, I had heard that the Minister of Natural Resources plans to cut another $35 million from the ministry's budget, cutting 200 jobs and putting the natural resources of northern Ontario at risk, with the possible closing of nurseries and offices in small communities and reducing fire crews. As you are aware, fire has raged throughout northern Ontario and put our natural resources in a very disastrous position. Can the minister tell me what the plans are for further cuts in funding to the ministry, which has already been streamlined and is now a mean, lean organization?

Hon Chris Hodgson (Minister of Natural Resources, Northern Development and Mines): I'd like to thank my honourable friend in the third party. We spent five weeks together last year, and it was an enjoyable time, working on behalf of conservation issues.

In answer to his question, it's true that we have met our targets that were given, $30 million in operating, $5 million in capital. As he's well aware, there are a number of issues at play here. To make the ministry meet its objectives, we had to prioritize what we were doing, make sure that we focused in on the core of our business, and I'm proud to say that in the next couple of weeks we'll be unrolling to the public and to this chamber the specifics of those reductions.

Mr Len Wood: The Ontario Forest Research Institute in Sault Ste Marie has developed a number of products that can be sold to other forestry jurisdictions, and sales from this source could be used to have extra revenue for the Ministry of Natural Resources. Would it not make a lot more sense to develop this and market this than to continue to further reduce jobs and put communities in northern Ontario at risk?

Hon Mr Hodgson: I'll take that under consideration. I'm aware of the importance of that to the ministry and to northern Ontario. Everything's under review right now and we'll be getting back to you in the next couple of weeks. Thank you very much for the question. I appreciate it.


Mr Bill Murdoch (Grey-Owen Sound): Mr Speaker, first I'd like to congratulate you also on your election to being Speaker, and thank you for last night. I appreciate that.

My question is to the Minister of Municipal Affairs. In the last session, we had a disastrous bill called Bill 163 brought in by the former government. I want to ask the Minister of Municipal Affairs, will he be bringing in amendments to that bill this session?

Hon Al Leach (Minister of Municipal Affairs and Housing): I can inform the member, yes, we will be bringing in amendments. In fact, we're going to take a surgeon's knife to Bill 163 and try and bring back some reality to that act.

Mr Murdoch: Will some of these amendments be giving back to our municipalities the local control which that government took away from us? I want to be sure of that, that our local municipalities will get back the control they used to have before the NDP took it away from them.

Hon Mr Leach: Yes, I can advise the member not only that we will be giving the municipalities back the autonomy they had, but that we will be increasing the autonomy that the municipalities in this province have.


Mr Frank Miclash (Kenora): My question is to the Minister of Education and Training. Minister, your plan to amalgamate school boards throughout the northwest without a consultation process is not flying. You yourself will know that the Conservative Minister of Education from 1972 to 1978, the Honourable Thomas Wells, recently undertook an amalgamation study for the Windsor-Essex area and found that there were no cost savings. I refer the minister to Mr Wells's fact-finding report of August 1993.

Minister, let me tell you what I'm hearing in the north. Amalgamation will jeopardize education programs and courses that are distinct and unique to specific areas. Amalgamation will create unmanageable travel distances for staff and parents, and will strain the commitment of trustees by creating unmanageable geographic areas for trustees to represent. Amalgamation will create perceived job placement inequities within boards.

Minister, please explain to the northerners what you have done to take their concerns, such as these, into consideration.

Hon John Snobelen (Minister of Education and Training): In answer to the honourable member's question, as the honourable member may know, the school board amalgamation or reduction task force that has been at work for some time since it was put together by the previous government has recently released an interim report. Its final report is due in December, and the public is invited to make submissions to that task force, either written submissions or oral submissions, which they have done in some number.

Mr Miclash: Minister, I've outlined a number of northern concerns, and obviously, judging by your answer, you haven't even heard of these concerns before.


The Speaker (Hon Allan K. McLean): Order. I can't hear the question.

Mr Miclash: The fact is, Minister, we have had no public consultation on this issue, and the consultation process that was planned has since been cut by your government. What you replaced it with is yet another 1-800 number. I don't believe it.

Minister, northerners need proof that this is a move which will put money into the classroom by cutting administrative costs. Marion Helash, the chair of the Kenora Board of Education, in a recent letter to you, states: "The prime consideration for any school board should be the quality of education that is offered to its students. Nowhere in the report of the Ontario School Board Reduction Task Force has it been proven that by amalgamating boards students will receive a higher-quality education than is already being provided."

The Wells report, again, clearly stated that amalgamation will not save money or improve the quality of education. Minister, I challenge you to show the people of the northwest studies that actually prove school board amalgamation to be an improvement to education. Where's your proof?

Hon Mr Snobelen: The honourable member should know that we have had a great deal of public input since the interim report was released. I'm told that 80% of the response that we've had from the people of Ontario has been from the people, the taxpayers and parents who are concerned about school boards here in the province, and not from the interest groups that have taken over those public hearings sometimes in the past.

I'm pleased that the public is responding and I'm sure that Mr Sweeney's report will include interests of the north.



Mr David Christopherson (Hamilton Centre): My question is to the Minister without Portfolio responsible for WCB reform. Just last week the minister was assigned a new job by his supervisor, the Minister of Labour. In a news release, she said the minister had been asked to recommend an implementation plan for a 5% reduction in employer assessments, as promised in the Common Sense Revolution.

Now the original plan was for the Minister of Labour to ask the board to do it and then she would take the credit, but the board balked at this because it does take very seriously its legislated responsibilities under the act and it was in a jam. So they threw the thing over to the Minister without Portfolio responsible for WCB reform and asked him to come up with an implementation plan.

My question to the minister is, will you commit today that you will not cut the benefits of the working women and men who are disabled in the workplace in Ontario to pay for your give-back?

Hon Cameron Jackson (Minister without Portfolio, with responsibility for Workers' Compensation Board): I'd like to thank the member opposite for his question. I don't want to participate in any speculation about what happened with the board's decision; I merely want to share with the member and the members of this House what is actually happening.

It's quite clear that the Common Sense Revolution and this government have indicated to employers that we are very concerned about getting premium costs reduced and we're also very concerned about ensuring that the reforms in the workers' compensation area are done responsibly and they're done correctly and they're done to tackle the large unfunded liability of some $11.4 billion.

I want to assure the member opposite that these reforms will be undertaken with full consultation and we have been working closely with the existing board of the Workers' Compensation Board. I think the member will be pleased that we're taking an approach which is sensitive to workers' needs as well as those of employers in the province of Ontario.

But it would be irresponsible to simply isolate a reduction without looking also at a reduction of costs associated with the administration of the Workers' Compensation Board. This government is committed to proceeding in that fashion, sensitively but also quickly, with full consultation.

Mr Floyd Laughren (Nickel Belt): Mr Speaker, I have a point of privilege: It seems to me that in this Legislature everyone should be treated equally whether they're in cabinet or out of cabinet. I'd like to know if you would look into the whole issue of the member for Burlington South, who's in cabinet, being the only member of cabinet who did not receive applause when he answered his first question.


Mrs Lyn McLeod (Leader of the Opposition): A serious point of privilege, Mr Speaker: The Minister of Community and Social Services indicated that he was prepared to make available to the leader of the third party a proposed budget. I'd like to ask that he table that, so all of us may have equal access to the information and advice that he's providing.

The Speaker (Hon Allan K. McLean): The minister will take notice of that.


The Speaker (Hon Allan K. McLean): In the east gallery there's the Honourable John Stopp, immediate past president of the Legislative Council of the state of Tasmania, and his wife, Mrs Ardi Stopp. Welcome.


Mr Sean G. Conway (Renfrew North): On a point of privilege, Mr Speaker: Some days ago, I think it's six days ago, I raised with you my concern about the circumstances surrounding the governor's speech last Wednesday. You indicated at that time quite helpfully that you were going to inquire into the circumstances of opening day and report back. I'm very interested to know how you're coming in that matter, since I view it as one of some urgency.

The Speaker (Hon Allan K. McLean): I have asked for that report and I anticipate I will have it this week. I hope to be able to report this week.


Mr Bud Wildman (Algoma): Point of privilege, Mr Speaker: I just would like all honourable members to join with me in wishing a happy birthday to the dean of the Legislature, my friend from Nickel Belt.



Hon Ernie L. Eves (Deputy Premier, Minister of Finance and Government House Leader): I move that Bert Johnson, member for the electoral district of Perth, be appointed Deputy Speaker and Chair of the Committee of the whole House; that Gilles Morin, member for the electoral district of Carleton East, be appointed First Deputy Chair of the Committee of the whole House; and that Marilyn Churley, member for the electoral district of Riverdale, be appointed Second Deputy Chair of the Committee of the whole House.

The Speaker (Hon Allan K. McLean): Would the member like to speak to that?

Hon Mr Eves: I just have a few brief comments. I would like it to be known that although I guess it is the privilege, if you will, of each party to nominate presiding officers after the office of Speaker is filled by election, we are proposing and have proposed to the other two House leaders that the office of Deputy Speaker be rotated on an annual basis among the three parties so that everybody can gain the experience and the insight into serving as the Deputy Speaker of the House. That is our intent.

In past parliaments the practice here in the province of Ontario has generally been that when there is a majority government the Deputy Speaker also came from the government party; when there's been a minority government the Deputy Speaker traditionally has come from one of the opposition parties. However, in 1990, on the first occasion on which we elected the position of Speaker in this Legislature, the Deputy Speaker was the only other candidate who happened to run for Speaker in that election and he became the Deputy Speaker.

We think that it would be a good practice for the province of Ontario and for the Legislative Assembly to rotate the position of Deputy Speaker on an annual basis so that all presiding officers gain some insight into that very responsible position.

The Speaker: Further debate on that?

Mr James J. Bradley (St Catharines): I would like to congratulate each of the people who have been named in the motion today and indicate that our preference in the opposition would have been to follow what had happened last time, and that was, since we have elected a Speaker in the Legislative Assembly, that the Deputy Speaker be a person who had run for the position of Speaker. It would have been understandable had the member for Mississauga South been appointed, since she had run. I guess she had run second, because there was a second ballot with her name on it and yourself.

It is our belief, I'll put on record, that while the government House leader has found an innovative way of dealing with this matter, and I commend him for his innovation, it would have been our preference that the member for Carleton East, who ran for the office, would have been the Deputy Speaker of the Legislative Assembly throughout this session.

What we have now in effect is a government-appointed Speaker. You're neutral, naturally, now that you're in that chair. A man from the government bench is a Deputy Speaker for the first term and presumably for the last part of the term -- the first year and the last year if it were a five-year term -- I presume it's going to be a four-year term in this case because we've had a three-year term and a five-year term, so we're due for a four-year term.

The member for Carleton East has distinguished himself, has served in this capacity before. It would have been our anticipation that the best way to deal with this, in keeping with a harmonious House and what would seem to have been a tradition being established, once we went to the election of a Speaker, as we did last time, it would have been our preference for that to happen.


As I say, I make no personal references. I commend each of the people who have been appointed to these positions or who are named in this motion today. I simply wanted to indicate what I felt our understanding was.

I recall that when I was reading messages from various people who were contemplating running for the office, there was one particularly germane point in one of the letters that came out that suggested it would be -- I forget the exact terminology -- almost a certainty that the Deputy Speaker would be from the official opposition.

Now, I recognize that those running for the office do not have that opportunity to make that final decision. Nevertheless, I do believe there was that kind of understanding.

So I wanted to indicate that. I don't want to rain on the parade today by any means or to prolong debate all afternoon or anything of that nature, but I did want to indicate what our view is in this matter.

Mr David S. Cooke (Windsor-Riverside): Very briefly, I also want to congratulate the individuals who have been appointed today and I want to indicate that we will be supporting the motion.

I think a couple of the points that have been raised by the House leader for the official opposition are fair points to make, although I do think the compromise that the government House leader has offered today will assure that there's not only representation as provided in the standing orders for the opposition parties but also rotation of the Deputy Speaker.

However, it's an area that perhaps the House leaders should actually look at, that section of the rules, and if in fact there's an agreement at some point that the Deputy Speaker should always be from the opposition, we should so state in the rules in order to guarantee some consistency.

I don't think there's anything that the government House leader has said today that would prevent us from -- I assume we're going to be changing the rules very soon anyway, back to the way they were before we changed them, so we might as well add this into the mix.

I also think those of us who have been around here for a few years will remember that there was a Speaker from the opposition, Jack Stokes, from our caucus, and he was much harder on our caucus than he was on the government or the Liberal Party, and some might observe that in the last Parliament the Speaker who was toughest on the government was the individual who came from the government caucus and that Mr Morin was much fairer to the government in the last Parliament than was our own representative from our caucus. So I don't think there's any particular advantage in having people from any particular caucus.

I think there's fair representation, the compromise is fair, and that the rule itself is perhaps something that the House leaders should talk about. So we will be supporting the motion.

Mr Monte Kwinter (Wilson Heights): If I could just add one other comment, I have no problem with the proposition put forward by the government House leader, but I do have a problem just from a practical point of view.

It would seem to me that if you're going to be rotating, surely you would have in your first rotation someone who has at least been in this House and has seen how the House operates, so that the second or third person, who has never been in the House, could at least observe the protocol, observe the process, so that in fact we could have a smooth operation of what is happening in this Legislature. It would just seem to me to be a practical solution to the problems.

What we have now -- and I have no problem with the individual; I don't even know the individual, I'm just talking about the concept -- is that we are in a situation where someone who has never been in this House is going to be the Deputy Speaker and will be asked to preside over a proceeding that he has never, ever participated in before. I just think from a practical point of view it would have made more sense to change the rotation so those people who have not had the experience could at least gain some experience by observing what happens in this House.

Mr Alvin Curling (Scarborough North): I just want to make a quick point. Although the appointments -- and I want to congratulate those who have gotten those positions, but I just want to understand the statement by the House leader for the government. He said that it is a learning process every year that someone gets an opportunity to learn the process itself, and then he turned around and appointed Gilles Morin, who has been the Deputy Speaker, to learn the process when he comes around, because I presume that's what will be done.

I'm a bit confused that at one stage we had three people running for the position, and quickly the Premier appointed one of the members to chair of caucus so it took that one out of the race itself, and then turned around and gave the other position to the other party who was running, and then explaining to us that it is a rotation in all this to learn.

I just wondered what was the rationale in doing that, but in the meantime want to congratulate those who have gotten the jobs -- it is an extremely responsible role -- and hope that fairness will reign in this Parliament from thereafter, and not manipulating or, as we say, be a creative way in interpreting the laws of fairness around here.

The Speaker: You've all heard the motion. Is it the pleasure of the House that this motion carry?

All those in favour, say "aye."

All those opposed, say "nay."

In my opinion, the ayes have it.




Mr Rick Bartolucci (Sudbury): I have a petition to the Legislative Assembly of Ontario:

"Whereas the hunters of northern Ontario care for and feed -- as well as prepare trails for -- and generally are charged with the responsibility for the overall wellbeing of the moose population during the off-season; and

"Whereas the hunters of northern Ontario are not recognized for this year-long effort;

"We, the undersigned, petition the Legislative Assembly of Ontario to pass amending legislation to allow for a percentage of yearly moose tags to be allocated solely for those hunters residing in northern Ontario."

I have affixed my signature to it.


Mr James J. Bradley (St Catharines): I have a petition signed by a large number of people in the Niagara Peninsula, and 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."


Ms Shelley Martel (Sudbury East): I have a petition which is addressed to the Premier, and it's signed by 48 members of the Rockview Seniors Co-op and the Steelworker retirees chapter in Sudbury. It reads as follows:

"We, the undersigned, seniors, families, supporting groups and people of Ontario are now petitioning you and all members of the Ontario government to stop the Common Sense Revolution, which deprives the elderly and favours the greedy, non-caring rich.

"We list some of our problems:

"Health care comes first, and hospital closures, plus cuts in services, affect seniors seriously.

"Co-op and non-profit housing should be increased and subsidized to provide for the growing number of seniors, instead of cutbacks which please greedy landlords.

"Pensions should be properly indexed to the true cost of living, with no cutbacks.

"Welfare payments should be adjusted to the needs of many unfortunate seniors. Cuts are not the answer to this serious problem.

"Finally, unemployment ranks high among seniors, disgusted at the unnecessary layoffs of their sons, daughters and grandchildren.

"Please stop your Common Sense Revolution, as it affects our Canadian seniors so adversely while favouring the rich."

I have affixed my signature to it and I agree with the petitioners.


Mr John Gerretsen (Kingston and The Islands): I have a petition addressed to the Legislature of Ontario which states as follows and is signed by about 150 people:

"We, the undersigned, petition the Legislature of Ontario as follows:

"We strongly urge the Parliament of Ontario to take some action to ensure that the wage subsidy grants for Ontario early childhood educators remain in place and not be cut in any way." Of course, it's happened since then.

"This wage subsidy was put in place by the Ministry of Community and Social Services to address what they recognized as an inappropriate wage structure for these individuals, given the importance and necessity of their role. Early childhood educators provide an essential service and ensure that the needs of both young children and the working parent are met in a professional and highly efficient manner.

"This wage subsidy cut would make a tremendous statement by the government to the people of Ontario."


The Speaker (Hon Allan K. McLean): Further petitions? The member for Elgin.


Mr Peter North (Elgin): Thank you, Mr Speaker, and congratulations to you and all the other members of the House.

My petition is to the Legislative Assembly of Ontario:

"We, the undersigned, beg leave to petition the Parliament of Ontario as follows:

"Reflect your children's future. This is a wake-up call. Transportation trailers can be made safer. We need reflective tape on all transport truck trailers. Make it mandatory; make it law.

"We, the people of Ontario, can make a change. Support the introduction of a bill. Please sign this below."

This petition has been delivered here to the Legislative Assembly and I'll affix my signature to it as well.



Mr Palladini moved first reading of the following bill:

Bill 5, An Act respecting Shortline Railways / Projet de loi 5, Loi concernant les chemins de fer d'intérêt local.

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

Hon Al Palladini (Minister of Transportation): The purpose of this bill is to provide for the regulation and licensing of shortline railways. The minister may appoint a registrar to issue licences for shortline railways. The minister may enter into agreements with the federal government to provide for the regulation and inspection of shortline railways by the federal government in the same manner as it regulates railways under federal jurisdiction.


Mr Sterling moved first reading of the following bill:

Bill 6, An Act to amend the Corporations Information Act / Projet de loi 6, Loi modifiant la Loi sur les renseignements exigés des personnes morales.

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

Hon Norman W. Sterling (Minister of Consumer and Commercial Relations): It is my pleasure to introduce for first reading this bill. As I indicated earlier, changes in this bill will result in the elimination of the $50 corporate annual filing fee and allow my ministry and the Ministry of Finance to integrate the data collection processes for Ontario's corporate public record with the corporate tax program.

Further, while we are knocking away this filing fee, the taxpayer will win as well, because we will reap considerable savings within the ministry with the elimination of the need for this duplication of collecting this information within my ministry walls.

This constitutes a win-win solution for this province's business community and the taxpayer, and it is another step towards one-stop government service delivery for our business community.


Hon Ernie L. Eves (Deputy Premier, Minister of Finance and Government House Leader): I would like to call the first order, but I would like to indicate that it has been agreed, and I would seek unanimous consent, that after the leader of the third party concludes his remarks today, we will be starting into the normal rotation on the throne speech debate.

The three House leaders have agreed that the remaining time today and the time every day that the throne speech is debated hereafter, will be divided evenly among the three parties. There will be no Qs and As after each member participates in the debate.

On the day that the member for Elgin, who is an independent member, chooses to speak for up to 10 minutes, that time will be deducted from the total time of the day.

The Speaker (Hon Allan K. McLean): Do we have unanimous consent to that? Agreed.


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

Mr Bob Rae (York South): Mr Speaker, this is the first opportunity I've had to congratulate you, sir, on your election, and I want to wish you and all the other officers of the House the very best and of course assure you that I will obey your every command as a dutiful servant of the House.

I want to start by saying that this is of course the first speech I have had the opportunity to give in the House since the election. I want to begin by welcoming a number of new members, some of whom I see sitting in front of me; they were elected as part of the change in government which took place on June 8. I simply want to indicate to them that we will have very real differences of opinion, and I think you'll find that today. Many of you I've had the chance to meet in my political life over the last 15 years; some of you I have not. In fact, some of the members have served with me in the House of Commons indeed, which I think points to the period of time we've been together.

I would just say this to the honourable members. There are very profound disagreements that are going to be expressed in the House and in the province over the next several months and indeed during the life of this government. I think those disagreements need to be understood. One of the great difficulties that a number of us have with what the government is doing is the fact that it's being done in response to a theory and it's being done in response to a text which doesn't permit of dissent or difference of opinion and which doesn't seem to permit of change according to circumstance. I must tell you that from my political experience, that is a very serious mistake.

You've all been elected on the basis of having made promises and you've all been elected on the basis of this document called the Common Sense Revolution, but I must tell you that quite apart from whether I'm a New Democrat or a member of a different party, I would say to the members opposite and I would say to the House and indeed to the public that I do not like fundamentalism in politics. I do not like the assertion that there is a text from which everyone must read and that that text must be applied regardless of circumstance and regardless of the real world.

I would simply say to members of the Conservative Party opposite, go back and read your Burke and remind yourselves of the fundamental truth in politics: that you do not destroy political institutions and you do not destroy ways of life because of a theory, and that if you fail to take circumstances into account you are making a very profound mistake. It is a mistake for which you will pay. I don't know when you will pay, I don't know the circumstances in which you will pay, but you will pay for it. You will pay for it because you cannot run a government out of a book, you cannot run a province of 11 million people on the basis of a theory, and you cannot ignore the circumstances of the people of this province.

Think for a moment of the conundrum of the problem which you have created for yourselves. The Premier has said if anything is not done that is in this document, or if anything is done that runs directly contrary to a promise in this document, he will resign. Well, I don't believe for a moment that he's going to resign; I don't think for a moment that the Premier is going to do that.

But the Premier has put himself in a box which is the wrong box for the first minister of this province to put himself in. What it means is that he's saying he has to do everything that's set out in this document even if it doesn't make any sense, even if on the basis of experience, on the basis of learning, on the basis of discussion, on the basis of dialogue, on the basis of give and take, he discovers that something in this document doesn't really make very much sense any more.


I know that my political career has gone through its ups and its downs, and I know that its greatest moments are yet to come. But I also know that there have been critics of mine, and indeed some members opposite who are with us in the House -- my good friend from Mississauga who's here, my good friend from Lanark county who's here, people who have known me for a long time; my very good friend from Etobicoke West, who's not here, unfortunately --

Mr Chris Stockwell (Etobicoke West): Right here, Bob.

Mr Rae: Oh, there he is. He's moved. He's got to get into that cabinet seat somehow and now he's moved over there.

They made a career -- indeed, my colleagues in the Liberal Party with whom I've had a long relationship, with many of whom I've served in the House for 15 years; the member from Renfrew has probably been one of my harshest critics. One of the things they used to say about me was that I changed my mind, that I didn't keep a promise or that I did something differently from what I said I would do -- Sunday shopping, for example, a very good example.

I'll tell you, sometimes you come up against the world of circumstance. Opinions change. The world changes. You discover that things are not as easy as they might have appeared in opposition. You discover that a promise made in the course of an election campaign sometimes doesn't make sense.

So where I part company with members opposite is partly in ideology, partly in political values, but above all where I part company with members opposite is in temperament. I am not a fundamentalist. I do not believe in textual truths being literally applied in the world of politics. That way lies a lot of danger, a lot of difficulty and, unfortunately and sadly, a lot of harm for real people. This is where I part company, and it's quite fundamental.

I would say to my friends, people in my own party know that I parted company with some of them over the years because of this difference in temperament, my attitude about circumstances and what sound political management requires. Sound political management sometimes requires that one says: "That ideology is interesting. It's got a lot of emotion behind it. It's got a lot of strength behind it. It just so happens that in this circumstance it isn't going to work."

So I want to say first of all to the Premier -- who's now here, and I appreciate his being here -- I will say very directly to him that there are times and places where we are going to agree. He may be surprised to hear me say that, but in a document that has as many specific promises as this one, it would be hard for me to say there's not a single thing in here that I agree with. As we will come to see, in fact, there are a number of areas in which I suspect there's very substantial consensus in the House about what needs to be done, not only among the three political leaders but among all members of the House, a very substantial consensus about this province and about what needs to be done in the province.

But I part company on this question of the fundamentalism that is at work here, on a temperament which says: "There is the CSR" -- as it's called now; it's got its colloquialisms -- "and the CSR is everything. It is the Bible. It is the text. It cannot be departed from."

You had little red books in China. It's the same thing, exactly the same thing. It's the same inane repetition, the same inane reference to page and to text, the same inane reference to resolutions. Sensible people opposed it in China; sensible people will oppose it in Ontario. We don't need a revolution in this province. This is the last thing this province needs. People get hurt in revolutions. People pay a price for revolutions. For my part, I want no part of a revolution whether it comes from the left or whether it comes from the right, and I stand by those words.

The premise of the revolution, as it's been presented to us -- and we even had to go through the ritual of having the Lieutenant Governor reduced to the point of reading out a 1-800 number and then people being told at the end of the speech from the throne that everyone on the government side rededicates himself to the Common Sense Revolution, almost like a kind of fundamentalist prayer meeting in which people are being asked to come forward and bring witness and bring faith to this process.

Well, I will say to the honourable members, I don't go to a lot of prayer meetings. I went to one when I was Premier, for the simple reason that I wanted to convince people --

Mrs Margaret Marland (Mississauga South): Yes, because I asked you to.

Mr Rae: Because you asked me to and because I wanted to convince people that I was tired of hearing from people who said the Premier didn't have a prayer. That's why I went.

Expressions of faith are those which we make individually, and we all reconcile ourselves to matters of faith. But I will say to you, Mr Speaker, and say to the government that this question of how this fundamentalism is expressed is going to get these guys into trouble. It already is, we can already see it now, because the government says, "We're not going to cut health care," and they're cutting health care.

Interjections: No, we're not.

Mr Rae: You are. They say, "No, we're not." Well, you are. I'm sorry, the facts will not bear you out. The facts will bear out the view that says that in many instances and in many places services are being reduced.

The government said, "No, there are not going to be any user fees," and then all of a sudden the Premier said: "No, when I was talking about user fees I was talking specifically about the Canada Health Act. I wasn't talking about the drug benefit plan. I was only referring to user fees under the Canada Health Act." The trouble with that is that there are no user fees permitted under the Canada Health Act, so how could he possibly have been talking about a Canada Health Act user fee when that's not permissible under the law? He must have been talking about some other user fees where they're permitted, like under the drug benefit plan.

I will say to members opposite that the approach they've taken and the number of promises that have been made and the way in which these promises are being now interpreted and reinterpreted in the name of the Common Sense Revolution is something I find disturbing. I also from time to time find it amusing, but more than anything else I find it disturbing because -- I will repeat the point for emphasis -- in a revolution real people get hurt. That's exactly what the government opposite is doing: hurting real people in the name of an ideology. I find that offensive and I also find it even more offensive because it's so unnecessary.

Like all revolutionary documents, it has to be based on a series of myths. You have in every revolutionary movement the need to demonize the opposition, to demonize the outer world, and to create a series of myths that are built up in common. You look at any revolutionary movement around the world, this is how it operates.

So you have the myth of 10 lost years, you have the myth of an Ontario that was on its knees, on its back, struggling, unable to move, only to be saved by the imposition of this revolution. You have the myth of the several statements that have been made over the years: the myth that Ontario has the highest taxes of any jurisdiction in the western world, which I've heard the Premier say on other occasions; the myth that all was terrible and bad in the past 10 years, that there wasn't a single good thing that took place in the past 10 years, that there's nothing to be pointed to that was right; that only with the restoration of a Conservative regime after 10 years of these bogus outsiders being in power could any true prosperity be brought to the province of Ontario.


Mr Rae: You see, they believe it, they really believe it. To me it's classic. Somebody's got to arouse you guys with eloquence. I mean, it's got to be done somehow.

I would say that these myths -- and obviously these people are true believers, and I congratulate them for the simplicity of their faith.

Mr Gilles Pouliot (Lake Nipigon): They're followers.

Mr Rae: They're followers, and we'll come to the followership in a moment, because I've seen caucuses at work, both large and small, and the larger ones are not necessarily any easier than the smaller ones.

I would say that what we have is the case of true believers who have created a series of myths which they've tried to impose on the province and which provides the emotional fuel for the Common Sense Revolution.


I would simply say, very briefly, and I do not intend to dwell on this at all, but I would hope that the government and the Premier would, if only in their own private moments, reflect on some very basic facts about the province.

This province is a great and wonderful place to live in. It is a province that has benefited tremendously from the strength of its natural resources. It has benefited most emphatically and most importantly from the range of people who've made it their home; the fact that it is home to people from all over the world, and that this province truly does represent the best hope for a great many people who have come here; that many good things have been done by Conservative governments, many good things have been done by Liberal governments, and many good things have been done by New Democratic governments. If the members opposite are not generous or wise enough, even in their private moments, to say such a thing, then I have no choice but to say it on behalf of my colleagues in my party and to say it on behalf of my colleagues in the Liberal Party.

William Davis was a fine Premier. He served the province well. I happen to believe that when he left public office in 1984 and was replaced by Mr Miller, the people of the province made a decision in 1985 that they too wanted a change, that they were not satisfied with the status quo in 1985, and after 42 years of Tory government a minority Parliament was elected.

I am proud of many things that I've done in public life, but one of the things of which I am proudest is the fact that Mr Peterson and I decided that we would do things differently in order to create a new government. That was a wise choice; it was a sensible choice; it was a change that was necessary and healthy for the people of Ontario. It produced very good progressive government for two years between 1985 and 1987, legislation which has made a permanent difference in the lives of millions of people, people who are better paid, people who are equally paid, people are better housed and people who are more fairly treated as a result of the accord that we signed in 1985 and as a result of the change in government which took place in that time.

Our overall --

Mr Bill Murdoch (Grey-Owen Sound): Why don't you ask the Liberals about that?

Mr Rae: Well, people say that the Liberals benefited very substantially from that accord. I didn't benefit politically from it. In fact, we went into an election in 1987 and, yes, we became the official opposition, but it was a House in which we both had very small caucuses, Conservatives and New Democrats, and I would even say that through the period between 1987 and 1990 the Liberal government did some good things. Some were things with which I disagreed, some were things with which I took them to task, but I will not subscribe to this eerily odd and restricted view that the only good things that can ever be brought in are brought in by Conservatives and that the things that are brought in by Liberals and New Democrats are somehow unworthy, unspeakable, unmentionable.

You have this phenomenon, now created in mythical proportions and repeated over and over ad nauseam and again in the speech from the throne, that somehow these last 10 years have been years which have been bad for the province. They have not been bad for the province. What has been bad has been a recession. What has been bad has been a tough economic circumstance which we've all had to go through. You can take your demonology and live with it all you want, and you can throw darts at the picture of the Premier of the day between 1985 and 1995 and say that it's all his fault and all his fault and all his fault. But I'm not the Premier any more, and so now you're all going to have to find someone else to blame for your problems, and you're going to have to find someone else and something else to demonize.

What troubles me now is you've chosen them, the targets. It's no longer Bob Rae or it's no longer the NDP government; it's the poor.

Mr Stockwell: Oh.

Mr Rae: No, no, no, it is; it's us and them. It's a world of us and them, the messages that you've created. You are dividing this province in a way it has not been divided in my lifetime. You are setting one group off against another in a way that has not been practised in this province in my memory. I do not recall a Minister of Community and Social Services standing up and answering questions and indicating that he is so out of touch saying, "We gave people three months' notice to go out and find a job." There are half a million people who are unemployed in this province. There is a 10% unemployment rate in this province. Do not insult those people by saying that each and every one of them is unemployed because it's their fault. That is an insult. That is an insult to them, it's an insult to their families, it's an insult to their situation. Show some respect. Show some respect for them and for their situation.

Surely we've learned something from the Great Depression. Surely we've learned that you cannot blame whole classes of people for the level and kind of economic change we've seen take place in our economy in the last 50 to 60 years.

Hon Michael D. Harris (Premier): Blame the politicians.

Mr Rae: No, don't blame politicians. That's another easy out.

Hon Mr Harris: Blame the parties.

Mr Rae: The Premier's heckling me, Mr Speaker. I don't mind it.

Hon Mr Harris: Ten years of overspending. Ten years of irresponsible government overspending.

Mr Rae: Don't blame the politicians, and don't simply try to find your easy answers.

Hon Mr Harris: It's not easy.

Mr Rae: Oh, yes. You're right, it isn't easy. You're right it isn't easy, but now --

Hon Mr Harris: It took you 10 years to screw up; wasn't easy.

Mr Rae: I would say to the Premier that if he wants to heckle, that's fine, but he's going to get as good as he gives, I can tell him that right now. I'm not troubled at all by the fact that he's doing so, but I would say what is objectionable about what is being done is this tendency, which is so strong now on the other side, so strong in the speeches that are being given, that somehow there's a series of easy solutions, easy, simple, quickly done, which will be brutal in their impact, harsh in their impact and which will produce a miraculous response.

Mr Murdoch: You need some common sense.

Mr Rae: It's not common sense; it's the opposite of common sense. It's ideology.

Mr Murdoch: You haven't read it.

The Speaker (Hon Allan K. McLean): The member for Grey-Owen Sound is out of order.

Mr Rae: It's an ideology at work. It's a philosophy that's based on a series of illusions, on a series of half-truths and partial truths.

The Speaker: The member for Grey-Owen Sound is not in his own seat.

Mr Rae: Ontario is not the highest-taxed jurisdiction in the world. We have not had 10 lost years. We've had production and productivity that's been good and healthy. We've also had a very tough recession, a recession that hit this province hard, starting in 1989, and did not let up until 1992-93. Those are facts.

No one government is responsible for that recession. You can't blame it on Ottawa alone. You can't blame it on anything. You can only say that a series of forces combined to make life extremely difficult for the people of this province, and those forces combined to put many, many people in a very difficult circumstance.

I would say that, given those circumstances and given those difficulties, I am enormously proud of what this government of mine tried to do in response to that recession. At the same time, I fully recognize that the people of this province decided in 1995 that they wanted a change. They wanted a change because they were offered a series of solutions by the members of the Conservative Party that obviously 45% of the people said would be preferable to them.

I am not one of those people who believes that there is some kind of conspiratorial corporate agenda which is antithetical to the interests of people that has somehow been secretly imposed on the people of the province. I in fact believe very strongly that the people saw something in what this party opposite was offering that they in fact liked. We'll never know exactly what that was, what the combination of elements was; whether it was the attack on employment equity, whether it was the attack on welfare and welfare recipients, whether it was appeals to lower taxes, whatever it might have been; a combination of those things. I don't think we'll ever know.

I would just make one cautionary comment to the members opposite: Do not make the mistake of the small child who attends the hockey game and believes that because he sings the national anthem he thereby has caused the start of the hockey game.


Let me try and explain this analogy to the member from Owen Sound. Do not assume that everyone who voted for you has read the Common Sense Revolution or knows anything about it. Do not make the mistake of believing that this province consists of millions and millions of people who have taken this blue book, learned it by heart and who believe its rote. They don't. So don't assume that there is quite the support that you believe there is for all the elements of the revolution that you are about to impose on the people of the province.

There are some things that need to be done, and let me say the areas in which we agree in general. We learned in office that there is a need to restructure the bureaucracy, that there is a need to improve the quality of government services, that there is a need to restructure and change and be willing to recognize that, given the circumstances we've been through in the last five years, those changes will not be easy or automatic and require leadership.

I'm thinking of my colleague from Windsor-Riverside who, in my view, served brilliantly as the Minister of Education and Training in our government. He's someone who had the courage to take a royal commission report and indicate to the public that he was prepared to go for it and go for it quickly: a need to improve standards, a need to ensure better teacher training, a need to improve accountability, accountability of teachers, accountability of students.

One of the Conservatives opposite is shaking his head. I know he is; I can hear him. I would say to him that his government, it would appear, is about to implement many, if not all, of the recommendations of the royal commission which had the full support of this government, which had my personal support and the support of the Minister of Education and Training. We know now that the work that's under way by our friend from Kitchener -- help me here --

Mr Sean G. Conway (Renfrew North): Sweeney.

Mr Rae: John Sweeney. Mr Sweeney's work on the reorganization of school boards, the work that's being done on how we make the difficult decisions that have to be made -- I'm proud to say that's work we started.

In my own constituency this is causing problems in the sense that the city of York, which has a long history in the province as the second smallest municipality in Metropolitan Toronto -- and there's a great deal of concern about amalgamation and the effect on smaller municipalities, and I understand these concerns. But, above all, we must remember that the essential point is service to the constituents and the interests of people in the service, not the interests of the bureaucracy, not the interests of the status quo, but making sure that citizens are well served. That's a fundamental point that we made in announcing our commitment to educational reform and it's a point which has my full support and I know has the full support of the former Minister of Education.

Restructuring health care: one of the most difficult things that this government is about to become engaged in, as we were engaged in it for several years. In the time of my administration, we closed over 8,000 hospital beds. At the same time, we increased the efficiency of the system quite substantially, we reduced the number of patient stays, we increased the number of patients being treated and we dramatically improved care for cancer patients. We worked and built on reforms that had been started by the Liberal Party with respect to health care for heart patients and we brought in the changes to long-term care, which I regret to say have been put aside -- in favour of what, we don't exactly know, but something like it is going to have to happen; something like it is going to need to be done.

I want to say to the Premier, as opposed to perhaps some of the questions and comments which have been made by others, I understand full well the need to continue with the work of restructuring in the health care sector. He's come back from a Premiers' conference, ones which I had occasion to go to for five years. All our ministers of Health have been attending conferences of the ministries of Health across the country. There are changes under way in every province, in every jurisdiction. We know these changes must happen.

My colleague from Kingston, who's newly elected, will know Kingston has been one of the cities that's led the way in restructuring. My colleague from Windsor, newly elected, is also nodding and he will know that in Windsor we've seen substantial restructure. In Thunder Bay it's taking place; in Timmins it's taking place; in Guelph, in Sault Ste Marie we've seen the changes; and now, finally, they're coming to Metropolitan Toronto and for some people this is news. It's big news because suddenly a report comes out saying: "We must reduce the number of hospitals. We must run the affairs more efficiently."

I will just say this to the Premier: I believe -- and my colleagues may not appreciate my saying this, but I'll say it anyway -- the restructuring needs to happen. That's not the question. The question is how it happens and the question is how much money do you put in up front that allows the retraining and allows the change to take place without disruption and without damage to the health care of the citizens of the province.

The problem is, and I'll come to this in a moment, that your financial plan is driven by the tax cut and it's the tax cut that's driving all the other cuts that are taking place in services. So where we part company not just in temperament, which I've already described, but in policy, is that far too much of your policy is being driven by the tax cut and the tax cut is creating a fiscal and a financial straitjacket that is going to cause you tremendous problems in the services you are responsible for delivering.

Restructuring is difficult enough; this province doesn't need an additional financial straitjacket. We already have the one imposed on us by the recession and by demographics and by increased demand and increased need and by the technologies in the system which are very expensive; by the fact that we had to, as a government, make the very difficult decision early in our term, early in our mandate, that we were going to get tough on health care costs. My colleague from the Beaches was the Minister of Health at the time and she had one hell of a job getting the health expenditures down from 11% and 12% that all of us had helped to fuel.

I'm as responsible for this as anyone. In opposition, I was the first to get up and say, "We need more of this and more of this and more of this," in terms of health care. When we became government, we took an approach that said we need to ensure the quality of the system, but that in itself requires change, change which is going to be tough enough without the additional financial straitjacket which your tax cuts are imposing on the system. They're imposing it here; they're imposing it in education; they're imposing it in welfare. You are cutting deeper and harsher and harder and more quickly than you objectively need to. Why? Because of the tax cut. That's where we part company.

I don't part company on the need to make change. I part company on how the changes are being imposed, the pace and speed with which they're being imposed, the level of cuts which is being put into place and I'm saying the reason for this is because you have adopted a fiscal strategy and a financial strategy which is fuelled by your tax cut, which in turn is fuelled by your ideology.

Everyone would like to see a tax cut. My neighbours would like to see a tax cut. I would like to see a tax cut. Everyone would like to see one. We're all human beings; we'd like to have more in our pockets. But the tax cut is being sold on the basis of an illusion. The illusion from an economic standpoint is that, in and of itself, the tax cut will create thousands and thousands of jobs.

I believe that the individual who will go down in history as Dr Mark Mullins, PhD, economics, has told us that he believes that this will help to create more than 725,000 new jobs. I wish Dr Mullins well in his prediction, but I would say to members opposite and I would say to my colleagues in the House and to the public, a tax cut of this dimension would only create jobs if the deficit was allowed to rise to proportions which are unacceptable to everyone in this House.

If you look at the history of the Reagan tax cut upon which this is so much based, what did Reagan do? Reagan cut taxes; it's true. Reagan also increased spending very substantially, particularly in defence, where there was great expenditure and a great increase in jobs. He also allowed, in combination with the Congress, the deficit to rise exponentially. He tripled the size of the United States deficit. That was a tax cut which definitely fuelled growth in the economy, but only taken in the context of all the other things which were being done at the same time.


This government will learn, as others have had to learn, that if you're taking all that other money out of the economy: your cuts in welfare, which take a lot of money out of the economy; your cuts in services, which take a lot of money out of the economy; your cuts in capital, which take a lot of money out of the economy; the thousands of jobs which have already been lost by virtue of the capital cuts -- and there's more to come. We don't know what they are. We assume we'll hear about them in dribs and drabs as panicky mayors and people on the receiving end of letters tell us what the impact of all these things is, because we don't know what all the cuts are that have been announced by the government. What we do know is that those cuts are just the tip of the iceberg, because we know, from having been in government as recently as the end of last June, exactly what it's going to take in order to effect the kind of cuts which will give you some room to bring in the tax cuts which you've promised and keep the rating agencies happy.

Mr Pouliot: You can't do it.

Mr Rae: The only way you can do it -- it can be done. Can it be done? Yes, it can be done. But the only way it can be done is by cutting services and by cutting expenditure far more than you really need to or in fact, I might say to my friends opposite, who may not believe me now, but I think they will in a while, more than you're really going to want to, because you have to do what's in the Bible. If it's got to be done, it's in the book, even if it doesn't make any sense.

It's interesting that down in the United States, Senator Dole, say reports this week, is starting to have second thoughts about the tax cut in the United States. Why? Because it's going to have a negative effect on the deficit, it's going to have a negative effect on medicare. He doesn't want to get hit by all those things. But no, not this government. This government is fuelled with an ideology that is going to take it and drive it, and, unfortunately and tragically, it's going to drive the province in a way it does not have to go.

Mr Pouliot: Who benefits with a tax cut?

Mr Rae: A tax cut goes to those who already have. But we have to remember, when we look at the effect of the tax cut as a stimulus to the whole economy, you've got to offset that by all the money that's being taken out. Somebody who's on welfare spends the money that they have. If they have $1,500 a month, they spend $1,500 a month. If they have $1,800 a month, they spend $1,800 a month. What you are going to find is that the people who are really spending at the lower end of the scale are going to stop, because they don't have it; it's not there. It's been cut off at the source.

I know the ideology tells you that they'll all go out and find jobs and find work and that everything will be fine. But I'm just telling you, it ain't true. It isn't true, because there are not in every circumstance the jobs to be done and the jobs to make it possible.

So I say to members opposite and I say to my colleagues in the House, we have a government that is fuelled by an ideology, an ideology that divides the province, an ideology that puts one group of people up against another, that says that there are deserving people and there are undeserving people, and that people who are on social assistance are, of a class, undeserving. It says that they are somehow uniquely going to be suffering a 22% cut.

If the cut works for them, why wouldn't the government apply it to all of us? Why wouldn't the Premier apply it to himself, to his own salary, if it's such a good idea? Why wouldn't he apply it to mine? Surely logic would say that if it's bearable for somebody who's making $10,000 a year, it should be bearable to somebody who's making $80,000, $90,000 or $100,000 a year. It would be an incentive for all of us to work that much harder. I just would say, if it's sauce for the goose, it's sauce for the gander.

Now, we took a very different decision as the government. Through the social contract we imposed difficult choices and we reduced people's incomes working for the taxpayer, including, I would say to all of you staring at me, everyone in this House. We took a cut, but we didn't impose it on the people on social assistance, because they're the ones who are the least able to bear it.

Politically, was it popular? Obviously, what you're doing has aroused some degree, I must confess, because I'm over here and you're all over there, of popular support. But I wonder if this creation of a world of us and them is really to our advantage. I don't think it's to our advantage as a civil community. I don't believe that. But equally important, I don't believe it's in our economic interest to do this.

What has helped to define the economic success of this province is its quality of life. What makes this province competitive is the fact that we have good services, is the fact that we have good training programs, is the fact that we don't have huge gaps between rich and poor, that we have not allowed our inner cities to become areas that are uninhabitable by people, where we have buildings that are boarded up. You go to any large American city -- I remember when I first visited Detroit as Premier. I said, "I want to walk to the next meeting," and they said: "Premier, nobody walks that way. Nobody walks down that street. You can't do it. You've got to get into a car and go anywhere you want to go in this community."

Interjection: Al Palladini would like that.

Mr Rae: Well, the Minister of Transportation would be thrilled with that kind of a world. Everybody has to get into a car in order to survive. If you want to take a bus or you want to take public transit or you want to walk, well, that's not good for the philosophy over there, but it happens to be good for building civil communities.

The Premier's going to be hearing from many, many people, I believe, over the next while who will be concerned about the growing imbalance between rich and poor, the fact that the rich are getting richer and the poor are getting poorer. Yet the way in which we have defined ourselves as an economy is one which succeeds not by pitting one group against another and not by allowing one group to exploit itself at the expense of someone else, but by having a community that works because it's prepared to work together.

Putting worker against management: We had the lowest days lost to strikes in the history of Ontario during the last five years. We had industrial relations peace in the last five years which was unprecedented. We had greater productivity increases than we've ever had. We had the largest increases in capital investment in 1994, the largest increases in capital investment and spending in the manufacturing sector. All this baloney about how we were driving jobs away: How could it be true if we had the largest increase ever in the history of the province in terms of capital investment?

These are facts, which the theories opposite cannot change. The theories opposite are based -- and you cannot move these folks. Many groups come and see me, the people come and they say, "What should we do?" I have all sorts of people come and say, "Is it worth talking to the backbenchers?" I say: "Well, it's always good to know who your member is, but forget it. He or she has got their little copy of the little blue book, and they're going to wave it in the air at you and they're going to say, `I don't have any choice.'"

If you sit down and listen to someone and they persuade you of something, if someone comes into your office and says, "Will you admit for once that you are wrong?" you couldn't do it. You could not do it. Why couldn't you do it? Because it's not written in the text. It's not in the textbook. It's not there. You'd say, "Because we agree with it." Well, that's fine, but then this simply confirms my view. This is a government that is operating in a bubble. It is a bubble that is permeated by the ether of this ideology and of this philosophy and of this political religion that is found in this little pamphlet.

Students who come by and say, "Wait a minute now, we can't afford these kinds of -- " people who come in and say, "Well, why are you doing it this way? What's happening to me here?" they say: "Oh, it doesn't conform to the theory of the Common Sense Revolution. It's not on page 15, paragraph 2, of CSR."

If we had taken this approach with any piece of fundamentalist literature that might have been devised by members of my party, in their wisdom, to tie around the necks of the cabinet, can you imagine what members of the Conservative Party or the Liberal Party would have done?

Mr Joseph Cordiano (Lawrence): We never had one.

Mr Rae: The Liberal Party of course would not know anything of this experience because they are not troubled by a philosophy, though I did find a copy, not that anyone can find one in their possession, all copies have been -- I had to go to the legislative library to get a copy of this. But I say this only in jest.

And that is to say to members opposite that the financial plan is driven by the tax cuts. The tax cuts will make rich people richer and poor people poorer and will not, on a net basis, because of the other cuts that are under way, create additional work and additional jobs. All the tax cuts in the world will not build you a subway. You can cut taxes all you want and it will not improve the quality of public services. It will not build up the infrastructure in training and in people that has been the basis of real growth and real advance in this province.


We can't compete on wages with Mexico. We don't want to compete in terms of the balance between rich and poor with the largest cities and communities in the United States. Where we want to and where we will compete is in the area of quality -- quality of production, quality of life, this unique combination of society and economy which we've built up in this province over 100 years.

That's what I think this government is losing and that's where I believe this government has lost its way. I don't believe the government has reflected well enough and long enough on the impact that these so-called Common Sense Revolutions are going to have on the people of the province.

I agree with Edmund Burke, who said that he did not think it was wise or fair to destroy institutions of government because of the existence of a theory. I agree with Edmund Burke and I disagree with these ersatz imitators of the Conservative religion who are sitting opposite.

Finalement, je veux dire quelques paroles à nos concitoyens dans la province du Québec qui sont en train de faire une décision importante en ce qui concerne l'avenir du Canada. Comme premier ministre de la province, j'ai eu l'opportunité plusieurs fois de parler à mes concitoyens canadiens dans la province du Québec au sujet de notre avenir commun que nous partageons ensemble. Encore une fois, les Québécois sont en train de faire une décision, et c'est important pour nous, je crois, de leur dire directement que c'est une volonté, c'est un espoir, c'est un sentiment qui est très profond dans notre province, la province voisine du Québec, que le Québec reste avec nous, partenaire permanent dans un Canada qui reste fédéral et uni.

J'ai eu l'occasion de voir, il y a quelques jours, le discours du premier ministre du Québec, M. Parizeau. Il a fait, je crois, une chose extraordinaire. Il a cité l'exemple d'une déclaration de la part de notre premier ministre, M. Harris, comme étant une sorte d'excuse pour la position de son gouvernement. Je veux dire à M. Parizeau que vous verrez à beaucoup d'occasions que moi je ne suis pas d'accord avec le premier ministre de notre province. Mais en ce qui concerne le Canada, nous sommes tout à fait d'accord.

M. Harris a dit tout simplement que les Québécois ne doivent pas prendre les choses pour acquises s'ils votent Oui. Il a eu raison en disant cela. Il a eu raison en disant aussi que si le Québec décide que Oui, en effet le Québec décide de devenir un pays indépendant et étranger au Canada. Pour moi, c'était une déclaration très claire avec laquelle je suis tout à fait d'accord. Nous voulons que le Québec vote Non parce que le Non, c'est le vote pour le Canada et pour un avenir commun que nous allons partager comme partenaires.

Mais, en même temps nous voyons dans les sondages comment l'opinion publique en Ontario et dans le Canada anglais est claire : pas de monnaie à partager ; pas de passeport à partager si le Québec veut devenir un pays indépendant. Je crois que c'est très clair. Ce n'est pas dur.

On m'a demandé hier soir à la télévision, est-ce que ça représente un durcissement de l'opinion au Canada anglais ? J'ai dit non. Au contraire, c'est seulement, je crois, une reconnaissance du bon sens des Canadiens que si les Québécois veulent être indépendants, eh bien, soit. Mais ça va causer des difficultés extraordinaires pour nous et pour les Québécois.

I have just said in French what I would say as well in English, and that is that when Mr Parizeau quoted Premier Harris, some comments the Premier made, as somehow justifying Quebec's voting for Yes, I wanted to say to Mr Parizeau very directly that while Mr Harris and I disagree on many subjects -- and we've been sparring mates for nearly 15 years -- I don't think there's a very big difference of opinion at all between us on the subject of the future of Canada. In fact, what the Premier has been saying with respect to the common interests that we have as Canadians, what the Premier has been saying about the realities of the choices that face the people of Quebec, are precisely the comments not only that I would have made, but that I have made as Premier for the last five years.

It is in everyone's interest, Quebeckers and those of us living outside Quebec, that a majority of Quebeckers see the common sense and the good value of a No. It is a simple fact of life, and the polls yesterday certainly confirmed it, that opinion in English Canada is very clear. If Quebec votes Yes and desires independence, there is no sentiment in the rest of the country for a common passport, there is no sentiment in the rest of the country for a common currency and there is no sentiment in the rest of the country for some other kind of partnership that would be based on some series of offers made by a separatist government in Quebec.

I speak as one who fought long and hard for Meech, I fought long and hard for Charlottetown, and I've got the bruises and scars to prove it. But I say to my friends in Quebec very directly, do not make the mistake of listening to those who would put forward propositions that are based not on their understanding of what really English Canada wants but on their own particular philosophy.

I believe that all the premiers who've ever served this province as Premier have wanted this country to stay united and have wanted to be strong partners with the people of Quebec. We still extend -- we want to extend and we must extend -- our hand of friendship and our hand of partnership to the people and government of Quebec, and we say directly to the people of Quebec, let us put this issue of separatism behind us, let us work together to build a great country, to make it even greater than it is today, and let us work together as Canadians for a common future. That's the partnership we believe in. That's the relationship we want. That's the country we love and we want to build together.

Mr Speaker, I've had the chance to serve this House in many different positions, as you will recall, sir, because I came when you also had been elected, and as the Premier will recall, since he was elected a year before. I've had the chance to serve this House as the leader of the third party, as the Leader of the Opposition and as the Premier. I preferred the last job, but unfortunately it was not the one that the people of Ontario decided to give to me.

I have accepted that decision in good grace, and I want to say to members opposite that I look forward to providing sound, constructive advice to the government. I wish that their ideology was more permeable and I wish that their revolution was less dense, but somehow nature does not always prescribe these things.


I say as well to my colleague in the Liberal Party, who unfortunately is not here today -- she told me she would not be able to be -- that she was a very vigorous Leader of the Opposition. When I was Premier, she did me much damage and scored many direct hits and direct blows, and I'm sorry to hear the news that she is not going to be carrying on as leader of the official opposition through to the next election. But I would say to my colleagues in the Liberal Party that we look forward to working with you in opposition. We will have differences as well -- we will perhaps remind you from time to time of some of the red book promises you made -- a number of occasions on which we will share a common view and a number of occasions on which we will differ.

I would say to all members, and I hope I will be permitted this brief moment of sentiment, that I love this province. It's a great and wonderful place. I believe it's strong enough to withstand the damage done to it by any government, and in particular, I wish it well in the circumstances ahead. I would plead with the government, please remember the least among us. Remember the most vulnerable and remember that we are not truly prosperous until the least among us has nothing to fear.

The Speaker: Mr Rae moves, seconded by Mr Cooke, that the amendment to the motion for an address in reply to the speech of His Honour the Lieutenant Governor at the opening of the session be amended by adding the following:

"This House, however, regrets that the speech from the throne shows that this government has chosen to attack the vulnerable and abandon basic services that the people of Ontario depend on, and condemns the government for:

"Creating a fiscal crisis in Ontario by promising an irresponsible 30% tax cut for the wealthy, then implementing cuts of somewhere between $6 billion to $9 billion in basic services for people in order to pay for these tax breaks;

"Failing to put the basic human needs of the people of Ontario ahead of irresponsible tax giveaways;

"Failing to honour its commitment to protect the most vulnerable among us, and instead imposing massive cuts to social assistance that hurt children, seniors and those with disabilities;

"Abandoning the basic protections for working people by cutting health and safety employment standards and wage protection as well as freezing the minimum wage;

"Breaking its promise to protect health care by cutting $132 million from the health care budget, including cost-saving initiatives such as birthing centres and the photo health card, and by threatening Ontario's seniors with user fees on the Ontario drug benefit plan;

"Giving up on the 500,000 men and women looking for work by slashing job training, including a special program to give 66,000 young people their first job and day care funding to let single parents find work, and offering no help or hope in place of these programs."

Further debate?

Mr R. Gary Stewart (Peterborough): As the new member for the riding of Peterborough, I would like to congratulate you, Mr Speaker, on your recent election as Speaker. I also wish to take this opportunity to congratulate all members of this House on their election win. I look forward to meeting and working with all members of this House in the months ahead.

I would first like to spend a moment telling this House a little bit about myself and why I chose to run for provincial office. I am married, I have three children, I have six great grandchildren. I am the founder and owner of a local travel agency and tour operation which I started in 1974 after spending 14 years owning and operating several sales and service companies in the Peterborough riding.

I was elected councillor in the township of Otonabee in 1982 and became deputy reeve in 1985. In 1992, I was acclaimed as warden of Peterborough county, an office which I proudly held for three consecutive terms.

I've always been active in my community, serving on various boards, commissions and associations in many capacities, two of which I am proud of: Rotary International and the Peterborough Civic Hospital.

There are three fundamental principles which have shaped my life. They are my family, my community and the principle of hard work. Not only are these principles important to me but they are also held dearly by many of the people in my riding.

I would now like to make a few comments on why I chose to run for this legislative seat. Towards the end of my third term as county warden, a gentleman told me that if I wanted to seriously change the way the provincial government was working, I would have to run for higher office. I thought long and hard about what he told me and I concluded that he was right. Government was no longer working for the people.

We must chart a new course towards streamlining operations and improving inefficiencies without compromising services and safety. Overlapping services and government waste were stripping this province of competitive opportunity. Over the last 10 years people have been asking for many improvements in our society, but government has not responded.

People were asking for long-term jobs and tax relief; they didn't get it. People were asking for safer communities; they didn't get it. People were asking government for better health care; they didn't get it. People were asking why their kids were no longer excelling in school. Quite simply, people were asking for better government for less money, and they didn't get it.

But, ladies and gentlemen, our new government is committed to providing the people of this province with better government for less money. We have to devise strategies that will allow us to deliver the best service for the best possible price, a simple business concept that we must apply to the running of government. People have to be less dependent on government. I campaigned in my riding on that principle, our party campaigned on that principle, and I intend to do everything I can to make that principle a reality.

Our party has the political will and desire to change the way our government functions. The do-nothing approach puts at risk the very institutions we are trying to improve. I ask all legislators, do not be afraid of change, for it is the only thing that is going to stay the same. We must all prepare for the future, as the past is now closing in on us all. These principles are the backbone of the Common Sense Revolution.


I am honoured to stand here today representing the people of Peterborough riding, a riding with much diversity, which adds to its splendour. At the centre of the riding is the city of Peterborough, home of Canadian General Electric; Fisher Gauge; Johnson and Johnson medical products, that has developed a new surgical stent for heart surgery, which will create 80 new jobs by this December; Milltronics, developing high-tech sonar equipment; Pebra, an auto parts manufacturer; and Quaker Oats of Canada, the home of your granola bars, your morning cereal and indeed your Gatorade. All of these manufacturers have adapted to a changing economic climate and provided strong employment opportunities for our community.

Encompassing the city are five townships, a village and a first nations reserve. The rural component of my riding strongly contributes to the local and provincial economies by producing high-quality agricultural products. Tourism also plays an important role in the riding, as there are many resort operators and cottage owners. Vacationers from outside of Ontario and Canada flock to our area each year to enjoy its recreation and its hospitality.

My riding is also the home of Trent University and Sir Sandford Fleming College, schools that not only provide students with quality education but contribute immensely to our local economy by providing our area with nearly 1,500 jobs.

My constituents have put their trust in me to represent them, and I intend to do just that. Representing the people is something that many politicians seem to have forgotten. I intend to represent my constituents with honour and dignity. Anything less would be a sign of disrespect to them, disrespect to the office I was entrusted with and disrespect to the taxpayers of this province.

Which brings me to my final point. As members of this House, we must all remember to conduct ourselves with a high level of protocol, dignity and respect. People of this province are watching our conduct in this House with very keen interest. We all must remember that we have been sent here to work on behalf of the people of Ontario in a dignified manner. This chamber and the history that accompanies it deserves that courtesy, as do the people of this province. Again, Mr Speaker, I look forward to working with you.

Mr Dwight Duncan (Windsor-Walkerville): It is with a sense both of honour and deep concern that I rise today to respond to the speech from the throne. To begin, I want to thank the people of Windsor-Walkerville, the great riding I represent, for choosing me to be their member of provincial Parliament.

Windsor-Walkerville is a completely urban riding and it's the only riding which is entirely contained within the corporation of the city of Windsor. More than 20 languages are spoken in that riding by close to 73,000 people. The riding is principally composed of single, detached, owned homes, though close to 40% of my constituents are renters.

The people in my riding are employed in manufacturing, retail trade, health, social services, education and a variety of other occupations. The average household income and individual income in my riding is significantly below the provincial average.

Mr Speaker, you will be interested to know that in 36 parliaments to date, five Speakers have come from Essex county. One of those, the Reverend M.C. Davies, who served in the chair from 1949 to 1955, represented the riding which I now hold. Windsor-Walkerville has a rich political heritage. In addition to the Reverend Davies, the riding also elected a man who has served as inspiration to me, the Honourable David Croll. William Riggs was elected there; Bernard Newman served for close to 30 years; Michael Ray; and my immediate predecessor, Wayne Lessard. Each of these individuals contributed in their own way to the health and vitality of Ontario.

One other note: My riding was the childhood home of our Minister of Finance, a man of great compassion and virtue who recognizes the importance of balancing budgets while at the same time not doing it on the backs of individuals and of the poor; a man whose vision and competence will help lead us into the 21st century. Paul Martin is truly a son of Windsor-Walkerville.

My riding is also the home of Ontario's Finance minister, who, though not possessed of the same virtue as his federal counterpart, none the less had the good sense to leave Windsor to pursue a career as a Conservative politician.

Indeed, I would be remiss if I did not point out that Windsor and Essex County rejected the Common Sense Revolution and said no to the shortsighted policies the government is pursuing in its speech from the throne. So I believe I am on solid ground when I say that the people I represent oppose this government and what it stands for.

The people of Windsor-Walkerville want very much to see Ontario's fiscal stability restored. They want a balanced budget and, no doubt, would enjoy tax relief. But the people I represent are good and compassionate. They recognize that it took us years to get into this mess, that the mess was contributed by all of us -- as the former Premier said -- and that it will take us many years to get out of it. We must do so carefully and thoughtfully so as not to unduly disrupt the economy.

While we all recognize the need for meaningful welfare reform, the people I represent know full well that you won't break the cycle of dependence by simply cutting rates. Welfare reform that benefits both recipients and ratepayers requires careful thought and implementation. None of us wants to penalize seniors, the disabled and children, yet this government persists in blindly pursuing its ideologically driven agenda.

We all want to put an end to welfare abuse. The city of Windsor and its department of social services has an enviable track record in fighting waste and abuse, a record that will not be improved on by this government and its 1-800 snitch line. Indeed, I come in contact with recipients every day who would give anything for a job. Many people on welfare want desperately to work. In spite of this fact and in spite of the fact that my city has benefited from an unprecedented boom in investment over the course of the last seven years -- an investment, by the way, that totals more than $5 billion -- there still remain unacceptably high levels of unemployment.

The government has failed to address this issue in a meaningful way. Instead, they rely on the vagaries of Adam Smith's invisible hand and the trickle-down dribble espoused by the new right. Jobs and a commitment to full employment must remain the principal goal of our society, if not our government.

Health care is vitally important to the people I represent. Over the course of the past three years, my community has wrestled with the issue of hospital reconfiguration and maximizing the use of scarce health care dollars. Using the same envelope of money -- to use the government's words -- we have agreed to close two acute care hospitals in exchange for a $22-million reinvestment in community based services and roughly $60 million to $63 million in provincial capital investment to give effect to the closure of the two hospitals through improved facilities at the remaining sites.

The new government, through its Minister of Health, has effectively put an end to our locally arrived-at solution. Despite its election promises, the government will likely cut overall health spending and not reinvest in the types of community based services that we've all come to recognize as the real alternative for the future.

I noted earlier that manufacturing is the leading occupation in my riding. Windsor-Walkerville is the home of Hiram Walker, the Ford Motor Co, General Motors, and a variety of smaller manufacturing interests. Chrysler Corp is on the boundary of my riding.

In my constituency, we place a great premium on collective bargaining and on recognizing the importance of harmonious labour relations. The government's approach to labour relations is cause for great concern in my constituency. The government appears to be deliberately provoking organized labour. It seems intent on creating labour instability in Ontario. This instability will contribute to a decline in productivity and profits as well as a climate which is unsuitable for new investment. The result: fewer jobs and declining tax revenues. This government is laying the groundwork for our first made-in-Ontario recession.


We recognize that the government was given a broad mandate, but we also believe that the devil's in the details. Constructive dialogue on labour issues is in everyone's interest.

My riding will be the home of Ontario's first permanent casino. Windsor Casino Ltd, which currently employs more than 2,600 people, the vast majority of whom are from Essex county, is a proven winner.

I would be remiss if I did not recognize the Premier for having acknowledged this and his decision to exempt Windsor from future referenda. We in my community understand the Premier's desire to ensure that future casinos have broad public acceptance and are grateful that he recognizes that this is already the case in Windsor.

All of us agree that the direction government must take is one which addresses the concern of the province's finances. There is not one of us who would not like to provide tax relief to the people who sent us here. The challenge is how you do it. On this score the government, in my view, has failed miserably. The throne speech is a recipe for recession. It's a prognostication of polarization which will divide this province and its inhabitants.

We on this side of the House, though our numbers are small, will stand up and be heard on the issues of the day. We will demonstrate that fiscal responsibility can be restored in a manner which is more equitable and fair than that which is envisioned by this government. The challenge before us is great, but, like our forbears, we will meet that challenge. Indeed, we will exceed it. It is our obligation; it is our duty.

In conclusion, I cannot support the speech from the throne or anything that it stands for.

The Deputy Speaker (Mr Bert Johnson): The Chair recognizes the member for Windsor-Riverside.

Mr David S. Cooke (Windsor-Riverside): Thank you very much, Mr Speaker, and congratulations to you and all of your colleagues who have been elected and chosen to preside over this place. I wish you a lot of luck, and if you think you're enjoying it today, I'd like to talk to you about it in about four years and see whether it's still a lot of fun being in that particular seat. It can get hot at times.

I wanted to spend the first couple of minutes thanking a few people who I had the pleasure of working with over the last four and a half years, when our party was in government, because I think all too often we forget some of the people who provide government with the kinds of services and leadership that they do and they don't get the kind of recognition that they require.

I had the privilege of serving for a period of time as government House leader. I would not recommend it to anyone, but none the less I had that opportunity and in that position worked very closely with the Clerk and all of the assistant clerks, and I want to say that we are privileged in this Legislature to have the quality of staff at our table and in our committees and the Clerk of this House to provide professional, expert advice and leadership in this place.

As government House leader, I worked very closely with them, and I want to tell them, on behalf of myself but my caucus and I'm sure on behalf of everyone here, how much we appreciate the professional service that they provide the Legislature and all the people of this province.

I also want to say that I had the privilege of serving in the ministries of Municipal Affairs and Housing, and my deputy ministers in both of those ministries, David Hobbs and Glenn Thompson, in Management Board, Val Gibbons, and over in Education and Training, Charles Pascal, I found all of the deputies I dealt with and worked with to be professional civil servants, to provide the kind of leadership that was required and to implement the decisions that were decided upon by the government. I very much appreciate their leadership and all of the other civil servants I worked with in those particular ministries.

I want to just spend a couple of minutes talking about a couple of areas that I remain concerned about: the area of education and the Ministry of Community and Social Services.

I'm going to start with just making a couple of comments about the field of education, and I can't let pass some comments about the now-famous videotape of the now Minister of Education and Training.

I'm not going to go over all of the comments that have been made in the newspapers and other media outlets about the comment and the specific part of the tape that referred to a manufactured crisis in education. Those comments I think have been adequately dealt with and I hope will never be repeated.

I want to tell you that what struck me when I watched that tape a couple of weeks ago was something that troubles me much more than the content of what the Minister of Education and Training said. I encourage everyone in this place to look at that tape. What struck me was the incredible arrogance of an individual -- and I think this reflects to some extent the ideology of this government -- of a minister who had only been in place for six days who would have the gall to go before senior management of a ministry in a field that he has had nothing to do with in the past and pretend or assume that he has more knowledge than people who have led that ministry and been involved in the field of education for many, many years. I think it was a clear sign that there is absolutely no respect for the civil service by that particular minister and that there is no respect for the role of public servants and the public service in this province.

For me, that arrogance and that approach does not bode well for the political leadership that is now presiding over that particular ministry. I hope that I'm wrong. I hope that reforms will go forward. But again, that tape troubled me greatly and the arrogance that was demonstrated and lack of respect for dedicated, qualified public servants that the minister clearly indicated.

I also want to say that I have heard the minister and I have heard some of the rumours that are going around that there will be cuts in the general legislative grants to school boards of up to 20% and that this is all going to be targeted at the administration of our school boards.

Now, our government as well talked about the need to cut down on the bureaucracy in education and focus the resources on the classroom. Nobody disagrees with that objective. But a couple of things have to happen first. Number one, you have to define what the administrative costs are so that you can target those costs. You have to have them reported to the ministry so that they can be recorded so that it can actually target the reductions and expenditures the appropriate way. Finally, you have to be realistic about how much can be cut. A 20% reduction in the general legislative grants to school boards in this province will in no way leave classrooms untouched in this province. It's impossible.

First of all, for those of us who represent ridings outside of Metropolitan Toronto, we know that all of the general legislative grant cuts will affect all of the school boards outside of Ottawa and Metropolitan Toronto. Those two communities get very little in dollars from the province because of the commercial and industrial wealth that exists in those two communities.

When you talk about a 20% cut, this means that the rest of the province bears the entire financial cut, not Metropolitan Toronto and not Ottawa. That means that you're going to see huge cuts to the rest of the province. It also means that boards which are very poor and do not have much commercial and industrial assessment and which do not spend a lot of money outside of the classroom are going to be devastated. There will be massive cuts to classroom education in this province, and the quality of education will no doubt suffer.

In fact, there will be a crisis. It won't be a manufactured one, in the sense that it won't be dreamed up; it'll be a real crisis in education that will have been manufactured by the Chair of Management Board and the Treasurer on the public education system in this province. There will be school boards go bankrupt.


We know that there are a number of school boards in the province that are running deficits already. The York Catholic school board almost went bankrupt a couple of years ago. The Hamilton-Wentworth Roman Catholic Separate School Board is in deep financial shape. The Essex County separate school board also has a substantial deficit.

There are a number of school boards in this province that have deficits. Every year when we decided, in our cabinet, what the level of grants was going to be to school boards the next year, we had an impact statement that would show what the impact would be on certain school boards and how many school boards would go further in debt and whether there was a danger of any school boards going bankrupt. That work has to have been done by your government as well.

I ask all the backbenchers here who represent communities where their school boards are already in tight fiscal situations or in debt to ask the question of their Minister of Education and Training and the Treasurer: "What will the impact be on my school board? Will there be a bankruptcy? Will there be impacts on the classrooms? We want the documentation from the ministry." It is prepared for the cabinet. It should be shared with the backbenchers in the government caucus so that you know what you're going to have to defend back in your ridings.

The ministry and this government, I believe, are moving away from a reduction in the number of school boards. If you really want to target your cuts on administration and bureaucracy in the system, you have got to restructure education: There's got to be a reduction in the number of school boards and there has to be an amendment to the Education Act that will enforce cooperative services. One of the biggest problems we have is that school boards talk a good line about sharing services; when it comes down to it at the local level, it doesn't happen.

There was a question asked in the House today about we don't need to reduce the number of school boards because the Wells report in Windsor-Essex showed that it would cost more money. Read the report. The Ottawa-Carleton report and the Essex-Windsor report both said that more money could be saved through cooperative services, but if the cooperative services do not take place, then amalgamation is the only way to proceed to cut down on the amount of bureaucracy. That's where we're at.

In fact, there's been very little progress made in Ottawa-Carleton on cooperative services, and I know in my own community there has been no progress made. In fact, there are at least three or four agreements of shared services that school boards in the county have backed out of, so that we've actually taken steps backwards, not forwards, since the Wells report.

You've got to move forward on a reduction in the number of school boards. We could talk a bit about education finance reform and the fact that this province relies more on property taxes to fund public education than any other province in Canada and that it's got to come, we have got to reform the way we finance education. I think some of the mayors in the greater Toronto area have now come to that conclusion and are saying that part of the reform in the GTA would be facilitated by a reform in education finance.

I would argue that it doesn't need to happen in just Metropolitan Toronto; it needs to happen province-wide. That would be one of the most positive steps for business and for the public that any government can take, because one of the difficulties is that our property taxes are too high in this province. We need to fund services like education off the property taxes and on to the ability-to-pay taxes like income tax.

I just want to touch on a couple of other things. I'm very troubled to hear that this government appears to be backing off on commitments that our government made, and that they endorsed, on testing in our schools. As you will recall, there was a commitment made -- it flowed partly out of the royal commission -- that there would be province-wide testing in grades 3, 6, 9 and 11. Every student would participate in that testing, there would be reports to parents, reports to students and a province-wide report that would give the public a clear indication of how well the system is doing, where its strengths are and where its weaknesses are.

I am told, by people who know, that this government is going to do province-wide testing in grades 3 and 11 and it's going to do spot testing in grades 6 and 9. I myself, as an observer of this for a number of years, would find it very interesting that a Conservative government would actually be retreating from an NDP testing policy that was almost implemented under our tenure in government. I suspect that there will be a lot of Conservatives, if the government does this, who will find it very strange that a Conservative government is backing off on province-wide testing after the years and years of debate.

Mr Floyd Laughren (Nickel Belt): Do you think they've told the back bench that yet?

Mr Cooke: I don't think they've told the back bench. I think they should go to the ministry and ask to get briefed on what is going on. Why are we backing off on something that we thought we stood for for years?

I obviously hope the government will move forward with the college of teachers. There's a lot of arguments in favour of that particular proposal as well, and I think that legislation is almost ready. It should come into the House this fall. It would be nice to actually debate a piece of positive legislation, rather than the legislative agenda that we know is coming forward.

I also really look forward to the back bench of this government when they have to go home in a few months and deal with their school boards when their school boards start eliminating junior kindergarten. Ask the MPPs in Peel how they dealt with it when Peel tried to reverse the decision on junior kindergarten and how difficult it was. When the government makes it optional for school boards to provide junior kindergarten and they pull the general legislative grants out and every school board in this province withdraws from junior kindergarten because there's no financial assistance from the province, then I'll tell you, all hell is going to break loose in your ridings and you're going to face the brunt of it.

I think now is the time for you to speak up, not after it's been done by those who are being driven, again, by ideology. Read the royal commission report. Read the evidence that's there of why there needs to be early intervention in our school system. Read why it saves us money in the long run and why other jurisdictions, with the exception of Canada and the United States, who do better than we do in testing across the world, have instituted early-years programs long before Canada has and that it really has provided real benefits.

I want to touch just for a couple of minutes on a couple of areas of Community and Social Services. I guess I do want to refocus on some of the comments that the minister has made in the last few days. We could talk about his comments that the children's aid society should intervene if families can't afford to feed their kids because of the cuts that are being implemented by this government. I can't remember a minister in recent years who has ever made those kinds of comments that the state should be so interventionist that it will take kids away from families. Look at the evidence. Look what happens to kids when they come into the care of the state. It is not a pretty sight. It damages those kids, it damages families and it costs the taxpayers a fortune.

The comments about tuna, the most ridiculous comments I heard today in the House, where the minister said, "Well, if you can't find tuna at 69 cents a tin, then maybe you can go and negotiate the price with the store owner" -- I mean, what is this coming to, that a Minister of Community and Social Services would be that silly, out of touch, that he would make those kinds of comments in this place or anyplace else?

Four days to get a job -- he told everybody last week, "Well, you've got four days to get a job; that's lots of time," and then that you can earn back all of your money. It doesn't seem to matter what the facts are, what's presented either in the newspaper or by the opposition parties, when we're getting briefed by the bureaucrats and the civil service in the Ministry of Community and Social Services, telling us that what the minister is saying is not accurate: You cannot earn back all the money. There are penalties in place, there are clawbacks that take place. That is the fact. Don't believe what this minister, of all ministers, is telling you in the House. It's not true. You're entitled to briefings. Go to the Ministry of Community and Social Services. Get your own briefings before you get yourself in even more trouble.

I take a look at the comments that have been made by the Premier and others about: "Let's use workfare. Let's use trainingfare. Let's use educationfare." You cut the one major training program, you eliminated it -- Jobs Ontario Training -- that was specifically targeted at people on social assistance. Our colleges are bulging at the seams. Our universities are having difficulty coping with enrolment. Where are people supposed to get training? It's not available in this province because you eliminated the one program, Jobs Ontario Training.

Then combine that with this housing policy being put forward by the new Minister of Municipal Affairs and Housing: that we've eliminated co-op and non-profit housing, we want to sell off some of the public housing, we're going to eliminate rent control, and somehow the private sector is going to move in? Get real about it.

Take a look at the studies that were done even by Tory governments. The private sector will not move in because if you build an apartment unit it costs about $100,000 to build, the rent for the private sector to recoup that is over $1,000 a month, and that means the private sector cannot build housing that will meet the market needs. They don't do it in any of the provinces where there is no rent control. They won't do it here. We're heading towards a major housing crisis in this province and it's because you're being driven by ideology rather than practical housing problems to help the people of this province.


Your government used to have practical housing policies when it built non-profit and co-op housing, when it brought in rent review. It wasn't an NDP government or a Liberal government that brought in rent review. It was a practical Conservative government.

We could talk about the CAS cuts, all the cuts that are taking place to agencies that serve the disabled when we were told that the disabled would not be hurt.

But I'm going to finish by saying just a couple of things about the Ontario Labour Relations Act, and this is going to be particularly targeted at my friends in the Liberal Party. We know where the Conservatives are coming from, and we know that very clearly. I totally disagree with their approach. I think the consequences for labour relations in this province in the short and long term are going to be disastrous. But I do get a chuckle when I now hear the Liberal Labour critic, the member for Windsor-Sandwich, talking about how terrible it is that there are going to be changes to the Labour Relations Act, when they voted against Bill 40 and when it was in this --

Mr Mike Colle (Oakwood): He wasn't here.

Mr Cooke: He wasn't here but he ran on the platform. The red book says, "Repeal the job-killing sections of the NDP labour law."

You know, this is typical Liberal policy, that the Liberals always want to have it both ways. They can never say what they stand for. They finally got caught for it. I mean, who could have gone into an election campaign at 55% in the polls and come out of it with fewer seats than when they went into the election? It's because they don't have the guts to say what they stand for, and this is a prime example. Now they're back in opposition, now they want to court labour, so now they say, "Well, maybe we'll vote against the changes to Bill 40." That means they will have voted against Bill 40 and then they will have voted against the changes to eliminate Bill 40. I don't know what their position is, but all of you who are new members will get to understand that party pretty quickly.

Mrs Lillian Ross (Hamilton West): I am the member for Hamilton West and proud to be standing here today to deliver my first speech to this House. It was an honour to be elected on June 8 as part of the Conservative government, and I look forward to the challenges ahead.

My predecessor, Dr Richard Allen, was the representative in Hamilton West for 13 years. He is a gentleman who worked hard for his beliefs, his party and his constituents, and a man whom I respect a great deal. However, the people of Hamilton West voted for real change on June 8 and I'm proud to have won their support and to stand before you today as we embark on a journey to a better, more prosperous Ontario.

The riding of Hamilton West is of course part of the city of Hamilton and the region of Hamilton-Wentworth. The city of Hamilton will be celebrating its sesquicentennial next year, and I invite my colleagues from both sides of the House to visit Hamilton next year during this year-long celebration.

The riding of Hamilton West has a wide distribution of incomes, and many of the problems that are found elsewhere in urban Ontario can be found here. It will be a challenging riding to represent, and I look forward to the next five years as we work towards a better Ontario for all of us.

Hamilton is known to many people in this House as the home of steel. Two towering steel giants, Stelco and Dofasco, located in the city have provided employment for Hamiltonians for many years. They are the cornerstone of Hamilton's economic growth and represent a significant number of jobs and the reason for Hamilton's reputation as Steeltown.

But Hamilton is so much more than just steel. The economy of Hamilton-Wentworth region has undergone some significant restructuring and diversification. Because of this diversification, the Hamilton-Wentworth region is well positioned to be a major competitive player in the new global economy.

Almost everyone, I'm sure, has watched some of the O.J. Simpson trial on television and probably watched the famous chase on TV last year, but not everyone knows that the cameras taking the pictures from overhead were built in Hamilton-Wentworth by Wescam Industries, the maker of highly sophisticated photographic equipment.

Hamilton's diversification from steelmaking includes the high-tech field of the environment with firms such as Philip Environmental, Laidlaw, Waxman's, and Hotz, leaders in the field of waste management and waste recycling, providing solutions for today's environmental problems.

Currently, I am pleased to say that we have the lowest unemployment rate in the country in Hamilton-Wentworth, but we have worked hard at promoting Hamilton's greatest resource, its people.

Hamilton's contributions to the arts are also worth mentioning. Hamilton's art gallery is one of the largest in Canada. The du Maurier Theatre presents live plays and operas, and Hamilton Place is the home of the Canadian Country Music Awards and the Hamilton Philharmonic Orchestra. Copps Coliseum has been the locale for world-class concerts, hockey games and figure skating, and the Canadian Juno Awards.

In addition, the Hamilton Convention Centre has hosted conventions from around the world, including all three of the major political parties in Ontario.

Hamilton is also the home of the Hamilton Tiger Cats and will be hosting the 1996 Grey Cup.

Hamilton's population is very diversified, with people from around the world making their home there. These people are hardworking, caring individuals, proud of their heritage and proud of their adopted city.

Many great leaders in the community, in Ontario and in Canada come from Hamilton. The Right Honourable Lincoln Alexander, former Lieutenant Governor of Ontario, is a resident of our city. The Right Honourable Ellen Fairclough, who was the first woman to hold a ministerial position in the federal government of Canada, is also a resident of Hamilton West.

Two world-class learning facilities, McMaster University and Mohawk College, are located in Hamilton West. Excellence in education has always been a hallmark for both of these institutions.

This excellence was recognized by the Nobel Prize committee when last year they awarded Dr Bertram Brockhouse with the Nobel Prize for physics. Dr Brockhouse is one of only 14 Canadians to ever win this prestigious award.

Even NASA recognized McMaster's excellence when they sent Roberta Bondar, a graduate of and staff member at McMaster, on the space shuttle.

McMaster's efforts in the field of research are second to none, with much of the research being funded through partnerships with the private sector. One of these partnerships is the Bell Canada link with McMaster. This partnership will focus on establishing software standards across North America.

Similarly, Mohawk College is a leader in its field, working with the private sector through programs such as apprenticeships and journeyman training, and will continue to do so.

All of us on the government side of this House campaigned on the Common Sense Revolution, as mentioned in the speech from the throne. We had set out our plan well before the election and listed our priorities and the actions we would take if elected. We have already begun to take those actions and will continue to do as we promised.

There are many important issues facing Hamiltonians, but one of the most important local issues is the Red Hill Creek Expressway. This project has been ongoing for over 40 years, and finally in 1990 the expressway began. But also in 1990, with the election of the former government, the funding was pulled without any prior consultation. The region has since spent millions of dollars to fight for their right to have this road built.

One of the reasons people voted for me was because I was committed to the completion of this expressway and our party was also committed to it. I'm pleased that our government remains committed to this very vital transportation corridor, and I look forward to the day soon when we will be driving on the Red Hill Creek Expressway.

While it is true that our government is forging ahead with welfare reform, it should be stressed that our party believes that welfare should be there for those in need as a helping hand to get people on their feet again and not as a lifestyle.


It has been my experience in Hamilton that the community and its citizens come together to help those less fortunate than themselves. As only two examples, I would point to facilities such as the Canadian National Institute for the Blind, which is located in my riding, and the Amity Goodwill, which has just celebrated its 60th anniversary. Hamilton's volunteer organizations have always been leaders in the community and across Ontario.

As a matter of fact, I am happy to report that the spirit of volunteerism in Hamilton-Wentworth is alive and well today, with over 70,000 people involved in volunteer work in one way or another. Volunteers fill a very definite need in society and allow each and every one of us to make a direct, positive impact on our neighbours' lives.

I was pleased to hear in the throne speech that the Premier had appointed the member for Durham-York to look into volunteer initiatives throughout this province and would recommend that Hamilton be placed high on her list as a community that cares deeply about taking care of its own. I would invite the member for Durham-York to visit Hamilton soon and see for herself the very strong volunteer force in Hamilton.

Hamilton-Wentworth's economic development department is a leader in promoting and providing initiatives for people on welfare, whose skills can provide opportunities for innovation and initiative. Their business advisory centre has ventured into a program providing the training and expertise needed for welfare recipients wanting to start their own businesses and provides them with assistance for one year while still on welfare. The success rate of this program is approximately 87%. It has provided self-employment for 350 individuals who have in turn provided jobs for an additional 209 more. The Minister of Community and Social Services, the Honourable David Tsubouchi, has visited this facility and was so impressed by it that I understand this project may be a possible basis for future workfare programs.

The GHTEC Centre, another initiative of economic development, provides an incubator program that is highly successful helping small businesses to get started. This centre provides opportunities for high-tech industry and is growing steadily. Its success rate is phenomenal.

We were elected to bring about major change to government and to the people of this province. We continue to do just what we said we would do. We will implement the changes necessary to reach our goal: that of making Ontario a great place to live and work, the envy of the rest of the provinces across this great country of ours. I look forward to the day when we can boast that Ontario has the lowest income tax rate in the country and a balanced budget.

We will re-engineer and redefine the role of government. We will provide those services we should be providing and we will get out of those areas in which we should never have been involved in the first place.

I hope that the residents of Ontario will feel the pride of being Ontarians once again and not the burden of being overtaxed. I know, as you must know and as the residents of Hamilton West must know, that the road we are embarking on is a rocky one and not without its problems. But I believe in my heart that at the end of our journey we will look back on that road and say, "It was a bumpy ride, but thank goodness we took it, because it was worth it in the end."

I pledge my commitment here today to the residents of Hamilton West to work hard for them to the best of my ability, and I thank them for their support.

Mr Colle: Thank you, Mr Speaker, and congratulations on -- you're not supposed to congratulate anybody else any more.

I'm very honoured to be representing the riding of Oakwood and I'm especially honoured as a Canadian who is Canadian by choice. I wasn't born here. Like 50% of the residents of Oakwood, I was born outside of Canada. I'm very proud of the fact that I am of Italian heritage -- I was born in Italy but I came here -- and I'm much more proud of the fact that I'm a citizen of Ontario and a Canadian citizen. I think for all of us it's a great privilege to serve in this historic chamber, and hopefully we can all do our best to represent the people who need our support in our certain work here.

In terms of the throne speech, I guess the most upsetting thing to me about the throne speech is that there is no reference in it to cities, no reference to the GTA, no reference to Metro. This I find very troubling because I'm really worried whether this is part of the agenda, that is, to essentially ignore the crisis that exists in all our cities and certainly exists in Ontario's largest city, which is Metropolitan Toronto.

I hope that this is not the case, because we cannot for one minute underestimate the importance of Metro to the health of Ontario, because whether we like it or not we are all interconnected -- economically, socially, culturally. The old adage of saying "Well, if we can beat up on Metro, the rest of Ontario or the rest of Canada will benefit" does not apply.

I hope that this government will not do what past governments have done, and I speak of not only provincial governments but also federal governments. I know that in the past the federal government has ignored Toronto's status as a financial centre. I know that even the last Liberal provincial government imposed the commercial concentration tax on Metro which was a punitive tax. I hope that this government looks upon Metro as an investment area, an investment in its infrastructure, an investment in its people, because there are willing and able people here in Metro who want to contribute.

I know there's been this constant emphasis on welfare, welfare, welfare. In the riding of Oakwood the emphasis is on work, work, work. People are sick and tired about hearing about welfare and welfare cuts and welfare programs. They're saying, "Let's get on to providing opportunities for work." People come into my constituency office. These are grown men and women in their 50s who have worked in factories that have been closed down, like Massey-Ferguson. They've worked on Spadina here in the garment industry. They worked for 20 years for eight, seven bucks an hour and they would beg for a job today and there are no opportunities. They go knocking door to door. They ask everybody for an opportunity just to work. They don't want a handout; they want an opportunity to sweat and to work and contribute.

That's why it was quite a rude awakening for the citizens of Oakwood when the first thing this government did was take away unilaterally, without any discussion, without any dialogue, 18,000 jobs right out of the heart of Metro and in my own riding of Oakwood. They took away a project that we had worked for 15 years to bring about, and that's the Eglinton subway. That is again a very ominous beginning for a government that claims they are interested in providing work, especially when over $130 million were spent on preparing the site for the subway. In fact, right now, if you go to Eglinton, they're still spending money digging a sewer tunnel that they can't stop because the tunnel-boring machine can only go one way, so they have to finish that job to get out north of Eglinton. So the work's still going on and the project is somewhere in limbo.

But you talk about taking the heart and soul of a community: When you took that subway out of Oakwood, out of the city of York, you basically took away a lot of hope that people had, and these are people, as I said, who didn't want a handout. They wanted to go and work not only on the subway but invest in the small, little shops and stores. We don't have the fancy, big-time stores like you see in downtown Toronto, we don't have the huge employers, but we've got the small mom-and-pop shops that employ four or five people. They were going to reinvest in their little buildings, maybe add on an addition, employ a couple more people. They were going to fix up the front of their store, maybe add a bit more amenities to make it more attractive.

But when you took the subway away you basically said: "Hey, we don't have the same faith or hope in your community as you do. Too bad, fellows. Go find hope somewhere else because this government is not interested in talking to you about your hopes and your aspirations about work." That's the message you gave, and actions speak a lot, lot stronger than words. So there are a lot of people in my community who are totally despondent because you took that away without any discussion and you wasted $130 million.


The crazy thing about the way this government works or other governments work -- I talk in a generic sense -- is that here are projects that were worth probably $800 million for the Eglinton, another $1 billion for the Sheppard, not to mention the Scarborough RT. These are projects that were being discussed for 10 years, at Metro, in the cities, in Queen's Park. You would think there would be a point in time where the provincial government would ever say, "Hey, listen, if we're going to start this project, we better be serious," because you supply 75% of the funding here at Queen's Park. "Let's make sure before we start digging these holes that we're going to follow through," because it is certainly economically, I would say, irrational to start something of that nature and waste that money, and before you get into that kind of investment, you better make sure you're going to follow through with it.

There was no discussion. I don't think it was ever discussed on the floor of this chamber whether or not this government or the government before was ever seriously committed to this. I think there were people who were committed, but this Legislature was never, as I say, clearly committed to this project which was certainly very, very significant in terms of dollars. To see it go halfway, then pulled back, is not the way you do business, certainly with taxpayers' dollars.

What I'm really concerned about is also in terms of the restructuring that is taking place in Metro and Metro's future. As you know, Metro has been hit and the GTA's been hit with a triple whammy, that is, you had the recession of the late 1980s, then you had the beginning of this new economy which caused deindustrialization, with the closure of factories, and on top of that you had a new form of work which deals with modems and work-at-home-based businesses. These three things hit Metro so hard that there were 200,000 jobs lost which have not come back to Metro to this day. The question is, how will Metro be reshaped to meet the challenges of the future, to not only make up for lost jobs but to function more economically, more rationally and more humanely in the future?

I wonder how much public consultation there will be as this government reshapes the GTA. So far, I've heard no indication that there's going to be any public consultation. Will it bring in ordinary citizens to talk about how they're going to be taxed, whether their city is going to disappear or not, whether a level of government will disappear? Will there be any public consultation? I hope there will be an opportunity for average citizens to come in and discuss the future of Metro, because we're not only talking about political boundaries and the future of politicians and trustees, we are talking about the future of people who have invested in this city -- by "city" I mean Metro, the growing GTA.

They want to stay here because they've made a commitment here. I hope this government looks upon the people who have decided to stay in this city as people who are going to be its partners.

I challenge the government to look at new ways of creating wealth in the cities. Get rid of the red tape that exists. If you live in downtown Toronto or York or Etobicoke and you want to add on a little addition to your store or house, the first thing they do is increase your assessment and they penalize you for investing in your own property. I hope you get rid of that type of punitive legislation which exists in the Assessment Act.

I also hope that you look at designating Toronto as an investment area, an investment zone, because right now Toronto, the downtown core, is in financial crisis. You can laugh all you want about Toronto and the fact that in the past it's been looked upon as the haves. Toronto is not made up of the haves any more. It does need the cooperative reaching out of all parts of Ontario to ensure that the downtown core of Toronto and Metro is healthy. If you ignore that, what you're going to do basically is you're going to set a pattern whereby all cities in Ontario will be ignored, because they follow the same pattern. I say to you that you should have an urban strategy where you get people who want to stay and invest in the downtown core.

The thing that frightens me also is that I see that this government is walking away from investing in things like public transportation which are really the backbone of a city. If you don't have affordable, workable public transportation, the city does not work. Cities that are totally dependent on automobiles do not work. If you want living proof of that, go to Detroit, go to Philadelphia, go to Boston, go to any American city that made the decision in the 1950s to go to the automobile. You can build highways till you're blue in the face and you will never make those cities work, and the cost of building highways will far outweigh any cost of building public transportation.

So I ask you to look beyond just a year or two. Look 10, 20 years down the road before you invest in just highways. There's nothing wrong with investing in roads, but you have to have a strategy, a strategic investment in public transportation.

I see Mr Palladini's here. I ask him to look at the rail infrastructure that exists in the GTA. It sits there totally untapped, with freight cars using it. We have to look at those resources. We have to look at the airport as a potential way of bringing in more economic activity to the downtown core -- a rapid transit link to Pearson or revitalization of the airport at the island. We have to start examining the resources that we have available to us and to remember that we shape cities and then cities shape us. That is something that Winston Churchill said that's very basic but very true.

If you shape a city that's ugly and hostile, without any humanity in it, without good public service, you are shaping a city that is not going to be one you'll be able to walk in or work in or invest in. I hope that some of you who have an interest in the future of cities get your ministers hopefully to look upon cities as a future resource that can be regenerated and not just as vestiges, the tombstones of the past.

I want to thank you for listening and I hope that we can work together and agree on certain things, and certainly we will benefit the people of Ontario who have elected us if we can work together. But we won't work together if there is a strategy of deinvesting in people and cities. Up to this point, again, as I say, your actions have spoken much larger than words when what you've done is -- the first thing you did is, you took away our future and took away our subway and said, "You don't need it." Where do people go now? Where do they go for these jobs that supposedly your strategies will create? I'm waiting.

Ms Frances Lankin (Beaches-Woodbine): I was watching the face of the member for Essex South as he listened to his colleague the member for Oakwood go on and on and eat into his time. I have to say that I sympathize with him because my colleague the member for Windsor-Riverside used up over half of my time as well. So I'm going to be unusually brief for me. Those of you who are new to the House may not know my reputation. I will try and hit a couple of key points.

As I was listening to the speech from the throne, I have to say it sort of reminded me of the Holiday Inn version. There were no surprises. It was all there, and quite frankly it was what we heard during the campaign; it's what we've heard in the last couple of years in the Common Sense Revolution. Many of my colleagues will speak to some of the initiatives that were set out in that throne speech, whether it be the intention to repeal parts of the labour law, the employment equity law, the Advocacy Commission, the cuts to welfare, massive cuts to funding of public services. Those all deserve time and debate. They're issues that stand alone and they're issues that are important.

But what I'm going to focus on in the very short time that I have are a couple of omissions from the throne speech. I have to say that I was very disturbed to hear the omission of two -- well, let me say, of clear reassurances on two key campaign promises that the Progressive Conservative Party and the Premier, Mike Harris, made during that campaign.


The first is with respect to jobs. Whether it was talking about the need to move people from welfare out into paid employment or whether it was talking about the miraculous flood of investment that was going to be coming to the province as soon as this government was elected, this party talked about jobs and made a commitment, a very clear commitment, to the creation of 725,000 jobs: a very aggressive agenda, one that I applaud, but, let me tell you, I've heard nothing about it since the day of the election. It was not in the throne speech. It was not in the Minister of Economic Development's speech today, or his statement to the House. It's disappeared. In fact, so have jobs.

Whether it be the training programs that were dedicated to the unemployed or people on social assistance, what happened to them? They were cancelled. Whether it be the day care support for people to get out and get jobs, what happened? It was cancelled. Whether it be jump-start programs targeted to youth employment and youth experience, it was cancelled. Subways, cancelled. Thousands of projects across this province that were creating jobs, cancelled.

So you tell me, where was the commitment to jobs? I didn't hear it in the throne speech; I don't see it in the actions. In fact, the actions of the government belie that commitment.

The second issue that I want to touch on was the "most important" promise, in the words of Mike Harris, on health care. Now, I've a little bit of interest in this. I spent a couple of years in the province as Minister of Health and I understand a fair bit about that large budget and about the pressures in that budget and about the need for restructuring and the continuous improvement and finding efficiencies and ending duplication, and much was done over the last five years and there's much still to be done. And I agree with the strategy that says that money should be reinvested, but not five years from now.

What I heard during the election campaign and what the people in my riding heard over and over again from Mike Harris was that that budget was sealed, that budget was frozen; not a penny was going to be touched. I participated in a debate with the now Minister of Health on health issues during the campaign at the University of Toronto, and he promised the people in that audience not a penny would be added, but not a penny would be taken away from that budget: day after day after day it was going to be reinvested.

Now what are we hearing in the throne speech, in the responses from the Premier and the responses from the minister? "Five years from now when we stand for re-election we'll be proud to see the budget restored to $17.4 billion." What does that say about this year, about next year, about the third year of this government? That's a very different promise from the one you made to the people of this province.

I can see the discomfort on some of the faces across the way. I know that you made those promises in your campaigns as well. You didn't go out and say, "We'll get back to the $17.4 billion in year five of our mandate." That's not what you said on the doorstep. That's not what the Conservative candidate who ran against me in Beaches-Woodbine said. Do you know what else she said? And I heard the Premier say it, Mike Harris, the candidate at that point in time, time and time again: "No new user fees in health care."

Well, what was he talking about? Now in the House he says, "In the context of the Canada Health Act, no new user fees for medically necessary services." Excuse me. Wake up. You can't do that anyway. That's what the Canada Health Act is all about. It prohibits those kinds of user fees.

What I heard, what I understood, and what I know the seniors in my riding understood was that there would be no new user fees in areas like the drug benefit program. That's what Mike Harris was talking about; that's not what he's talking about today.

Interjection: That was then; this is now.

Ms Lankin: Someone said, "That was then; this is now." We heard that a lot when we were in government and I'm tempted to use those words, but I have to say, consistent with my opening, there were no surprises even in that. That doesn't surprise me, because you know what I was saying day after day and what our leader was saying day after day in that campaign? That we knew that the plan in the Common Sense Revolution, as it is called, was not doable. We knew that you couldn't cut taxes by 30% and balance the budget and not touch the health care budget, being a third of the overall budget. One of every three dollars in this province that is spent is spent on health care. We knew you wouldn't be able to accomplish that. So we're not surprised by what we see today and what we hear today and by the knowledge that in fact there are going to be cuts in health care. We predicted it; we knew that.

What is shocking is that no one ever got to you during the campaign and said: "Whoa, be careful. Wait a minute." Particularly when you started going up in the polls, all of the alarm bells should have gone off. You should have been more cautious, because you're stuck with it now. You're stuck with a promise, you're stuck with a commitment, and you're stuck with a Premier who said, "I will resign if I don't keep my promises."

Well, let me tell you, the people of Beaches-Woodbine want to see you keep your promises. Let me tell you, the seniors in my riding want to see no new user fees. Let me tell you, the seniors want to see no cuts to health care. They believed you. I didn't, and I don't believe that you're going to deliver it now.

Do you know what is the most cynical thing? This has got nothing to do with the, once again, created crisis -- this is the modus operandi of this government: create a crisis, blame it on someone else -- the created crisis, the fiscal crisis that you talk about, the created crisis of the dollars in order to balance the deficit. This has got nothing to do with balancing the deficit. This has got everything to do with paying for a tax cut that is going to benefit the wealthiest in this province. The middle class is going to see none. Those who would spend the money at the lower end of the income tax scale will see no benefit from this and yet those are the people who're being affected by the cuts, the deep, deep cuts that will affect the very fabric of our communities in order to pay for your tax break for the wealthy. That's what's so cynical. That's what's so shameful.

It is not necessary for you to continue down this path. It is not necessary for you to destroy institutions and fabrics of communities in order to give more money for the wealthy, but it's the road that you have chosen.

I was disappointed in the throne speech. I was disappointed by those omissions, and day after day I and my colleagues will be bringing that home to you in question period and out across the province because the people will want to know whether or not you intend to keep all of your promises.

Mr Wayne Wettlaufer (Kitchener): Mr Speaker, I want to start by congratulating you on your election to the position of Speaker of the House. I know you will serve the people of Ontario in this position with honour and distinction.

Can you feel it? Can you feel the new wave of confidence sweeping across the province of Ontario?

Mr Rosario Marchese (Fort York): We can feel it. We can feel it.

Mr Wettlaufer: I'm glad. Can you sense the collective sigh of relief the hardworking taxpayers of this province are heaving, knowing that now when they go to work each morning there is finally a government in power which is working in their interests? Can you feel the warm glow of acceptance this government is already experiencing as the taxpayers start recognizing that this government is committed to doing exactly what it said it would in the election campaign; that is, to bring common sense to the government for the first time in over a decade?

It is truly an honour and a privilege to represent the people of Kitchener here today. I think it noteworthy to mention that I am the first Progressive Conservative to be elected to the Ontario Legislature in the history of the Kitchener riding --


Mr Wettlaufer: Thank you, thank you -- a riding which was formed three decades ago. It took us a long time to get here, but we are here now and I intend to use every ounce of my energy to help shape the future of this great province.

Mr Marchese: Did you feel the wind?

Mr Wettlaufer: That's the hot air from down there. I was born in Kitchener, raised my family in Kitchener and I've been involved in business in the Kitchener area for over 30 years. I know the people of my riding well.

When I first decided to seek the nomination, and even during the campaign, I was continually asked by my friends, why was I running. My friends wanted to know, why was I willing to postpone a successful business career and disrupt my family life to run for office with a party that didn't stand a chance of winning the election, in a riding which would never elect a Progressive Conservative MPP?

I was driven by a sense of fear, a sense of anger and the realization that the futures of our children and grandchildren were in jeopardy. My daughter is in the balcony up here --


Mr Wettlaufer: She's embarrassed. Stand up. She doesn't want to.


I wanted to be part of the solution to the $100-billion debt which is sapping nearly $9 billion a year in interest payments alone, a debt which was growing at the rate of $10 billion per year, a debt which was being passed on to our children and grandchildren, a debt which was created by the two previous governments over the past 10 years. That is why my primary campaign theme was, "For the love of our children." "For the love of our children" is such an easy thought, such a simple philosophy, yet it was this philosophy which brought my campaign team together with an adhesiveness and energy unlike any I had seen before.

The Common Sense Revolution includes the basic policies that my team believed were necessary to implement in order to ensure that our legacy to our children and grandchildren was a strong and vibrant province. When canvassing in the election campaign, in my one-on-one, eye-to-eye conversations with the voters, the common major factor became how they loved their children as we loved our children and why our party policies were the only hope we had of reshaping the province into the type of province they wanted, which they believed best exemplified the type of province they wanted to leave as their legacy to their children and grandchildren. They didn't want to leave a $100-billion debt as their legacy to their children and grandchildren.

Let me tell you a little about my riding. Kitchener is a fiercely proud city, a fiercely independent city. For almost 200 years, Kitchener has been built upon entrepreneurial spirit. It was in the early 1800s that Joseph Schneider brought his family from Pennsylvania to our region.

Today, J.M. Schneider is still operated by the Schneider family and is one of the largest meat packing companies in North America. It is by no accident that one of Canada's most successful meat and specialty food retailers is also centred in Kitchener and has grown on this tradition. M&M Meat Shops was begun by Mac Voison, a Kitchener entrepreneur who has been recognized within the business community as one of Canada's leading businessmen.

Kitchener has long held dear the traditional values of hewers of wood and drawers of water, the values our forefathers held dear. It is a working-class riding, much as you would find in Hamilton, Sudbury, Windsor, Kapuskasing and hundreds of other small towns and cities in the province. There isn't much fancy about us, but our people survive by the sweat of their brows, the strength of their backs and the depth of their intellects. Kitchener boasts one of the highest employment rates in the country because of its work ethic.

Kitchener is not only independent; it is loyal to its own. Just ask companies like Loblaws, which could only penetrate the Kitchener market by absorbing Kitchener companies such as Zehrs.

Our young people are the pride of our community. You will find hundreds of them involved in the famous marching bands such as the Dutch Boy Drum and Bugle Corps, which is recognized throughout North America. We are proud of our young people, whether they be in the schools, at the arenas, on the ball diamonds, in the community centres or volunteering in the hospitals. It is my belief that the youth of Kitchener exemplifies all that is good in our country and that bodes well for our future as a province.

I look forward to the day that I can sit with my grandchildren and tell them about the days I was an elected representative in the government of Ontario.

I am looking forward to telling them the story of how, back in the 1990s, we reshaped the educational system and how we reinvested the millions of dollars which were being wasted by mammoth bureaucracies and how we redirected the money into classroom spending and how they have a better education system because of it.

I am looking forward to telling my grandchildren the story of how we took power away from an ideologically driven, quasi-socialist government which had no sense of understanding how business operated and whose systems forced small businesses to spend up to 20% of their time filling out government forms instead of spending time creating jobs and paying taxes to reduce the $100-billion debt.

I am looking forward to explaining how thousands of small businesses were able to flourish and grow, creating hundreds of thousands of jobs because our government reduced unnecessary red tape, helped stabilize operating costs by fixing Hydro rates for five years, reduced payroll taxes, eliminated an employer health tax and reduced workers' compensation rates by 5%.

Before I close, I would like to advise that we have a mammoth Oktoberfest celebration beginning this Friday and lasting for 10 days, and I would like to invite all of my friends and adversaries alike to the celebration.

Mr David Ramsay (Timiskaming): I'm very pleased to have the remaining time this evening to talk a little bit --

Hon Noble Villeneuve (Minister of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs, with responsibility for Francophone Affairs): Another leadership candidate.

Mr Ramsay: Oh, I don't think so -- to talk a bit about my riding and also to say that I'm very happy to be with a renewed bunch of men and women that have been elected to this Legislature. I've been very impressed with the speeches. There's a lot of enthusiasm here, and I look forward to working with people from all sides over the next four or five years in trying to make Ontario a better place. I think everybody here has that in mind.

I'd like to just talk a little bit about my riding of Timiskaming in northeastern Ontario. Like many of my colleagues in this House and especially in our party that come from northern Ontario, we have traditionally had a set of challenges to us, being resource dependent, where employment has always, always been a problem.

In this particular case, we had those perennial issues before us but also we had some new issues and one that is currently going on. I'd like to give a sort of an update to the people of this House on where we stand, and that is in regard to the disposal of garbage from Metropolitan Toronto to the proposed Adams mine site near Kirkland Lake.

This became a very big issue during the election. In fact, I guess unfortunately, Metro Toronto began an environmental assessment process two weeks before the election did start. At that time, it really galvanized the opinion of the people in our area about this project, and I would report to this House today that the vast majority of people in the Timiskaming district do not want to see Metropolitan Toronto taken north to Kirkland Lake.

I would say that I have been working with the constituents, and I'd like to say to the members here that while many talk about their revolutions and the things they want to do here in Toronto on behalf of the whole province, I will tell all the new members here today you will find no greater satisfaction than working on your local issues, working with the people you were elected to represent and to represent them proudly and do the job that they've asked you to do.

The local issues, to me, are the most important. Government comes and goes, and sometimes you have an opportunity to play a role in government, sometimes minor, sometimes major. But in the end it's the people at home that elect you to serve them, and serving them and doing that job well will serve you proud when you look back upon your years here.

This project on Metropolitan garbage is ongoing. It's gotten me into a little bit of hot water because I feel passionately about it, and I'm being sued by one of the mayors of my municipalities for things I've said about this. I am not backing down. What has happened is that people are trying to coerce me to change my political opinion, and I will not, about this particular stand that I hold on Metropolitan garbage.

I believe, and I would say to this government, that we have to investigate the definition of what makes a willing host when it comes to regional megaprojects such as this and I believe that we have to, in law, allow the people of any region or county or district to be able to hold a referendum on any major project such as this.

This is what I've been fighting for in our area. In fact, in the town of Kirkland Lake, this was promised, and now the town council of Kirkland Lake has said: "No, we no longer need a referendum. The first one we had to see if we would proceed with an environmental assessment should suffice." The people of Kirkland Lake to this time have been denied that second referendum on whether they want to proceed with this project or not.

I have made a commitment to my constituents that I will continue my commitment to have a referendum, not only in the potential willing host area, but also any area beyond that that the EA might show is affected by this project.

I would say to all of you that these local issues are the ones that are the most important, and I wish you all well in carrying out your duties in that regard.

The Speaker: It being 6 of the clock, this House stands adjourned until 1:30 of the clock tomorrow afternoon.

The House adjourned at 1800.