36th Parliament, 1st Session

L006 - Wed 4 Oct 1995 / Mer 4 Oct 1995




































The House met at 1333.




Mr Frank Miclash (Kenora): My statement is directed to the Solicitor General and the Minister of Correctional Services regarding the closure of the halfway house in Red Lake, also known as the community rehab centre.

Minister, promising to decentralize government decision-making was a fundamental commitment of your party during the election campaign. Mr Harris said repeatedly that made-in-Toronto solutions would not be imposed on northern communities and that northern towns would be given the flexibility to determine their own future.

Well, we shouldn't be surprised to hear that yet another Harris promise has been broken. I have just been made aware, Minister, that a directive from your ministry is responsible for the closure of a very successful community rehabilitation centre in the town of Red Lake. Within the past 24 hours, the Red Lake CRC was closed, seven clients of the program were transferred to the Kenora district jail -- over 250 kilometres away -- one client, who was employed, was even removed from his job, and 15 CRC employees have been placed out of work.

You must realize that your simpleminded directives from Toronto just won't work in the north. Furthermore, this was a program operated by some of the most dedicated people I have met in my political life. The employees have lost their jobs; their clients have lost a method of rehabilitation that worked. I repeat, Minister, your ministry has lost a program that worked. As well, we have 15 more people in the north who have joined the ranks of the unemployed.


Mr Len Wood (Cochrane North): I direct my statement today to the Premier, the Minister of Citizenship, Culture and Recreation, and the minister responsible for native affairs.

Who's going to help the vulnerable and the needy? So far, the only indication we have from the government is that you plan to promote and encourage volunteerism in this province. This apparently is the spirit of Ontario.

I agree with you that volunteerism is a virtue and that it should be encouraged, and I look forward to many executives volunteering for the public service, but there are many groups, small and large, who have worked hard over the years and who provide an excellent service to those in need in the community. They too are the spirit of Ontario.

The Kapuskasing Regional Resource Centre for Independent Living requested funding from the Ministry of Citizenship, Culture and Recreation last May in the amount of $55,000, a very small amount, $30,000 of which is needed to keep them operating. Despite prompting from them and from my office, they have not received a response to this request. Last Friday, the executive director was laid off, leaving only one staff member to run the centre.

The Ininew Friendship Centre is in fear of having its community programs cut, as is the Moosonee Native Friendship Centre. Specifically, they are concerned about their Little Beavers program and their community development worker program. Both are very necessary for the native communities. Any loss or cuts to these programs will be detrimental to those at risk.

These people are established, dedicated to their work and the people they serve. They would like to hear from you now, not two months from now. What do you plan to do? As it stands now, they are waiting for the axe to fall.


Mr Dave Boushy (Sarnia): I am very pleased to announce to this House that the city of Sarnia has attracted a $60-million investment by one of the 50 largest industrial companies in the world.

Bayer Rubber is spending $50 million on two new plants, one to produce tungsten carbide and the other to produce nickel hydroxide, bringing jobs and opportunities to Sarnia-Lambton. The additional $10 million is being invested in environmental improvement, as well as a $500,000 community foundation. Improved pollution controls will help Sarnia maintain its clean environment, and the foundation will support community projects such as education, sciences, arts and culture.

Bayer already employs about 1,370 workers in Sarnia. Sarnia was one of several sites considered in North America, and being the area selected is recognition that business can grow and prosper in Sarnia-Lambton. Here is a prime example of cooperation between business and community. I am proud to say on behalf of Sarnia that Bayer has given our community a deserving vote of confidence. Sarnia is open for business. We welcome new investment to Sarnia-Lambton.



Mr Rick Bartolucci (Sudbury): I rise to inform the House, and in particular the Minister of Education and Training, that tomorrow is designated by the United Nations as being World Teachers Day.

The teachers of Ontario deserve this day of special honour. Teachers realize that students do not come to school all equal, so through their ingenuity, tireless efforts and dedication, they provide a meaningful individualized day for each of their students. They face real crises, not invented ones, every single, solitary day and they handle them in a very mature, responsible and loving way. They impact most directly and most positively on the life of each of their charges.

On a very personal note, I would like to thank all those wonderful teachers who have had such a profound influence on the lives and successes of my children, such as Dick Van Radshoven, Mary Ann Bellowis, Libby Marinelli and Jerome Perusini, to mention only a few.

Further, as a principal on leave, I was surrounded for 30 years by excellence in pedagogy with the likes of Lorraine Dupuis, Denise Massimilliano, John Pianosi and Maureen Doan -- so many like those mentioned who care, who truly care, and provide for their students before, during and after school hours.

Mr Speaker, I hope you, this House and in particular the Minister of Education will join with me and the United Nations in saluting the teachers of Ontario. Bravo to all of you. You are worthy of our recognition, our support and our thanks.


Ms Shelley Martel (Sudbury East): Last week, in response to a question, the Health minister said, "I want you to know that in the time I was Health critic...I personally lost seven friends in Collingwood and Alliston because of the inability of the previous government to do anything but study the dialysis issue in this province." I expected him to correct the record by now, but since he hasn't, let me outline the facts on dialysis.

Under our government, funding for services was significantly increased. In May 1994, a $23-million expansion of services was completed in areas where treatment had been weak or non-existent.


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

Ms Martel: In June 1994, an $11-million expansion of services at existing facilities in central Ontario got under way. In November 1994, another $10.9 million was announced to expand services in hospitals outside central Ontario.

I was involved in the November announcement. Laurentian Hospital in Sudbury received $1.3 million more in capital and operating funds to expand its hospital and satellite clinic services. The communities of Elliot Lake, Little Current, Kapuskasing, New Liskeard and Timmins all benefited as a result.

That same week, money for dialysis treatment went to Sault Ste Marie, Kenora, Thunder Bay, St Catharines, Kitchener-Waterloo, Kingston, Ottawa, Hamilton, London, Windsor and even the Premier's home town of North Bay.

Not only was the information the minister gave not correct, but the way he decided to choose to respond means that from now on he should not be surprised when he himself is held personally responsible for a failure in the health care system.


Mr Gary L. Leadston (Kitchener-Wilmot): I would like to acknowledge that for over a quarter of a century Kitchener-Waterloo has taken on the sights and sounds of an old-fashioned Bavarian holiday. Every year, North America's largest Bavarian festival is host to visitors from around the world as they converge on Kitchener-Waterloo, the heart of Canada's technology triangle.

I would like to encourage the members of this House and the people of Ontario to experience Oktoberfest as it begins this Friday, October 6, and ends the following Saturday, October 14.


Mr Dominic Agostino (Hamilton East): When asked, "How are parents trapped on welfare supposed to feed their kids after the Tory cuts?" the Minister of Community and Social Services replied that these people should try to barter or beg for dented cans of tuna. Needless to say, these comments have left a bad taste in people's mouths.

Let me take a moment to re-introduce to the House, to my friend from yesterday, a dented can of tuna.

On a serious note, this morning I contacted an official with the food production and inspection branch at Agriculture Canada. This official warned me about the very serious health threat that could exist with the purchase of dented cans. This official advised that consumers should never buy cans which are dented at the top or bottom seam where the lid is attached, as airborne botulism spores will often enter the can through microscopic holes. He went on to say that while dented cans are for the most part safe, extreme caution must be exercised when purchasing these products.

Ten years ago, one of Brian Mulroney's cabinet ministers tried to pass tainted tuna on to an unsuspecting public; 10 years later, Mike Harris's minister is trying to do the exact same thing.

So as the public says to the minister, "Sorry, Charlie, your answers just ain't good enough," I say to the minister, it's time for real jobs, real solutions and an end to all these fish stories.


Ms Frances Lankin (Beaches-Woodbine): Yesterday, I was pleased to rise and make a statement with respect to an issue of important environmental concern in the riding of Beaches-Woodbine, and that is with respect to water quality and the dredging of the water.

Because, probably, we are a waterfront community, you may come to realize with the statements that I will be making that issues of environmental concern are of extreme importance to the people of Beaches-Woodbine. Today, I want to address another, and that is the operation of the Ashbridges Bay sewage treatment plant. Particularly I'd like to address my statement to the Minister of Environment and Energy.

I want to say to the minister that I am aware that she has recently written to the Public Committee for Safe Sewage in my community, indicating that she is undertaking a review of the previous minister's decision with respect to an environmental assessment on the western beaches tank tunnel. I say to the minister, this is wrongheaded.

In her letter she gives a reason for this review, that this has been requested by the city. I am not aware of any direction from city council with respect to this. City council has taken a clear position not to prioritize the western tank tunnel, not to support it as a project under the Canada-Ontario infrastructure works program, for the very reason of the environmental and ecological concerns that all waterfront residents of Metro Toronto share with respect to the treatment of sewage and with respect to a move to a ban on incineration.

I say to the minister that if she's got some innocuous request from the engineering department of the city of Toronto, please don't listen to them, listen to the people. The people have spoken and made their views known. I urge you not to review and to uphold the previous decision of the previous minister.


Mr Harry Danford (Hastings-Peterborough): I rise for two reasons today. I'd like to begin by thanking the fine people of Hastings-Peterborough for the confidence they have demonstrated in our party and our Common Sense plan with my victory on election day. I will honour their trust to the best of my ability.

As well, I'd like to advise all members of the House of two events taking place in my riding this weekend.

The annual Norwood Fall Fair has been a Thanksgiving tradition since 1868 and this year is no exception. Norwood is the Friendly Town, and the fair is an opportunity to demonstrate the civic pride of the community and the friendly atmosphere which is so prevalent in Hastings-Peterborough.

The fair features something for all ages, including livestock and agricultural displays, live entertainment, a midway and a craft show. Visitors from all over Ontario seem drawn to this event, which at times has set provincial records for attendance.

This weekend is also very special in Cavendish township. At noon on Saturday a planting ceremony will take place honouring the efforts of area veterans and to recognize their contribution during the Second World War. The garden will feature 400 tulip bulbs from Holland in appreciation of the liberation of that country by Canadians.

I'd like to invite and encourage all members of the House to enjoy the beautiful fall splendour of rural Ontario this weekend, and to assure them of a warm greeting and old-fashioned country hospitality in Norwood and Cavendish township, two communities typical of the friendly places in Hastings-Peterborough.



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 the People's Republic of China, headed by Mr Fusheng Liu, accompanied by Mr Wenzhao Chen, consul general, and Mr Renshen Chen, vice-consul of the People's Republic of China. Welcome to the assembly.



Hon Elizabeth Witmer (Minister of Labour): I am pleased to announce that later this afternoon I will be introducing a package of labour law reforms designed to revitalize Ontario's economy, to create jobs and to restore a much-needed balance to labour-management relationships in our province.

We believe that the current Labour Relations Act is a barrier to jobs, growth and investment. In a global economy, Ontario cannot afford to be perceived as anything less than welcoming to the initiative, the imagination and job creation potential of the private sector.

The package of reforms that I will introduce includes the repeal of Bill 40, the NDP labour law, and steps to introduce workplace democracy in Ontario.

We believe that the repeal of this bill will restore the balance in labour relations, will attract new investment, will spur economic growth and generate new job opportunities for all of the workers. Once we have levelled the playing field in labour relations, Ontario's natural assets and highly skilled workforce will become obvious drawing cards for investors and businesses looking to grow and expand.

Our package consists of five key components.

First of all, as our government promised during the recent election campaign, we are repealing the NDP labour law, Bill 40. One of the symbolic and practical problems with Bill 40 was that it tilted the delicate labour relations balance in favour of organized labour. Repeal will restore the balance to the legislation.

We will couple repeal with amendments aimed at increasing democracy in the workplace and enhancing the rights of the individual workers. Towards this end, secret ballot votes will be made mandatory for union certifications, contract ratifications and strike votes. Each individual will now have the democratic right to vote on whether or not they want to be represented by a trade union.

Our labour law reforms also include the repeal of the NDP government's Bill 91, the Agricultural Labour Relations Act. This action to repeal Bill 91 recognizes that unionization of the family farm has no place in Ontario's key agricultural sector.

Along with the repeals of Bill 40 and Bill 91, our government is amending certain provisions of the Crown Employees Collective Bargaining Act. My colleagues the Minister of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs and the Chair of Management Board will be speaking in greater detail about their respective areas of responsibility.

The final component of our package is the reform of the employee wage protection program through amendments to the Employment Standards Act. Members may recall my announcement last month indicating that changes would be made to the program. Even with the changes we are making, Ontario's wage protection program is still the best in the country. Indeed, it will remain far more generous than those of Quebec and Manitoba, which are the only two other provinces which have a wage protection program.

We believe this package of labour law reforms will not only enhance the rights of the individual workers but will bring about positive change in our economy. Moreover, it will be the impetus for major growth and greater job opportunities in the decades to come, because it will send out a strong signal that Ontario is open for business once again.

Hon Dave Johnson (Chair of the Management Board of Cabinet): It is my privilege to rise today in support of the legislation and specifically, as Chair of Management Board, to address those areas that deal with amendments to the Crown Employees Collective Bargaining Act.

My colleague the Minister of Labour has outlined our intention to replace Bill 40 with legislation that we believe will restore balance to the labour law environment in Ontario. Part of this legislation includes amendments to the statute that governs labour relations in the Ontario public service and crown agencies, the Crown Employees Collective Bargaining Act, and the Public Service Act to respond to the changes brought about by the repeal of Bill 40 and to increase the flexibility of the government as employer.

First, I want to assure you that nothing in these amendments fundamentally alters the collective bargaining rights of the vast majority of Ontario government employees. Second, the government employees will retain the right to strike. Third, unions will continue to be able to organize, bargain and arbitrate grievances.

This government has clearly stated its commitment to a smaller, more efficient public service. We have said we will provide the people of Ontario with better government for less. The proposed amendments will help us reach those goals.

I would like to give some details on the proposed amendments. The proposed CECBA amendments will exempt the crown from the application of successor rights. Exempting the crown from the application of successor rights gives government the flexibility it needs to restructure.

Further, we propose to amend the Public Service Act to harmonize with notice provisions in the private sector, so that employees not covered by collective agreements can be released with reasonable notice or compensation instead of notice.

Also, we propose to amend the Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act and the Municipal Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act to ensure the confidentiality of labour relations information.

In closing, let me say this government is acting on its commitment to provide the people of Ontario with better government for less. The legislation outlined here today is a big step in that direction.

Hon Noble Villeneuve (Minister of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs, with responsibility for Francophone Affairs): I too am pleased to elaborate on an important aspect of the labour law reform package just announced by my colleague the Minister of Labour. I am referring, of course, to the repeal of the Agricultural Labour Relations Act, Bill 91. Our farmers, who are on the agrifood industry's front lines, are looking to us to help them maintain their competitive edge in the new global marketplace.

As was pointed out by my honourable colleague, the Agricultural Labour Relations Act is aimed directly at unionizing the family farm. We do not believe in the unionization of the family farm. Agriculture is very much a unique industry and therefore should not be subject to industrial-style collective bargaining and arbitration.

In addition to repealing the bill, we're taking another critical step; that is, we are strengthening the agricultural exemption by providing a comprehensive definition of "agriculture" in the proposed labour bill, a definition that previously did not exist.

Our farmers have traditionally proved to be good employers, and I know they have what it takes to continue being fair and even-handed in their dealings with those who work for them.

Simply, to sum it up, government interference is not a viable alternative in agriculture.


Mr Dwight Duncan (Windsor-Walkerville): The legislation the minister is tabling later today will not do what she suggests it will do. It will not restore balance. Rather, this government's legislation and this government's agenda will create a climate that will cause investors to leave this province and thereby create even higher unemployment than we've become accustomed to.

This government's policies in the field of labour relations and a variety of other areas are a recipe for recession, a recipe for violence, an unnecessary attempt to kick sand in the face of working people in this province. Job creation, investment, labour productivity, days lost to strikes have all improved in the last few years -- our economy performed strongly -- and we think this is unnecessary and unduly provocative.

The Tory ads in the recent campaign clearly said the Liberal Party would not repeal Bill 40 in its entirety, and they were correct. This short-sighted legislation will provoke unnecessarily confrontation and violence in the workplace. The result will be decreased productivity, profits, investment and jobs. Government must once again become the honest broker in labour relations. Both sides must be able to count on government to be fair and honest.

The NDP government mishandled labour relations by ignoring the legitimate concerns of the province's management committee. The NDP was a false friend to labour. Their legacy is one of stripped contracts -- they stripped contracts. Their friends in the labour movement still won't talk to them. They should be ashamed of their record. Had they handled it better, they wouldn't be in this position today.

I urge you, Minister, not to make the same mistakes your predecessors did. Don't shut out --


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

Mr Duncan: -- one of the partners in growth. Don't create a climate of disincentive to investment.

Minister, our party does now, as it did prior to the election, support the repeal of Bill 91 in recognition of the unique nature of our agricultural industry. We think it's a shame, however, that you broke your promise by cutting funding to agriculture in this province. We think that's a shame.

To the Chair of Management Board, we wish you well, sir, but this government is a recipe for recession, and when the social contract comes off you will have to deal with it, and we'll respond.

We feel that these policies, taken together, will harm productivity, growth and investment in this economy. We think you're going too far, too fast. We're all going to have to work together to prevent the recession this government is creating by its policies and by its deliberate attempt to provoke one of the partners in economic growth in this economy. Shame on you.

Mr John C. Cleary (Cornwall): I am pleased to respond to the Minister of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs' statement today on repealing Bill 91. I have been involved in agriculture all my life, and as I travelled around this province I found no support for Bill 91. It just adds to the problems of agriculture, along with the competition, the weather conditions and all the rest of the things facing agriculture. The other thing I have to mention here is that farmers have faced cuts in the agriculture budget for many years.

On behalf of the 150,000 people who work in agriculture on farms I would congratulate the government for knowing right from wrong on this issue. Our party would have handled it somewhat differently, I guess, had we been chosen to govern. We would have had more consultation among the groups that support it -- although I have not found any up till now. Anyway, it doesn't hurt any government to listen to the people.

I'm pleased that the government has taken this initiative and I look forward to working with them on it.

Mr David Christopherson (Hamilton Centre): Not since the government of R.B. Bennett and Mitch Hepburn have we seen a government in this country and in this province so dedicated to abandoning the rights and needs that workers have in this province, and today proves the point.

There has been unprecedented labour peace in this province since Bill 40. We know; the record is there. The record shows that in 1993, the very year that Bill 40 was enacted, there was the lowest number of person-days lost due to work stoppages in the history of the province, and in 1994, we had the third-lowest number of days lost due to work stoppages.

We know that 98% of all collective agreements in 1993 were settled without a strike, and in 1994, 97% of all collective agreements.

Mr Chris Stockwell (Etobicoke West): There aren't any strikes when no one has jobs. They have to be working in the first place.

The Speaker (Hon Allan K. McLean): The member for Etobicoke West, you're out of order.

Mr Christopherson: This is not about restoring balance. This is about going after workers and blaming workers.

Specifically, one of the things here is to take back the legislation on replacement workers -- and replacement workers, the way this government is going, is about pitting workers against workers.

When there are lawful strikes -- and there aren't many, and I've been at the bargaining table many times -- when it's necessary to have a strike it means that something has broken down, and the strike is one step in the process of trying to resolve that. There's a balance there that recognizes that the workers are withdrawing their labour but they're also not receiving the paycheque, and the employer cannot produce the product or provide the service but they're not putting out the cost of wages, and then it becomes a tension to see who can outlast the other.

This government wants to go back to the kind of thing we saw in the Yukon where people were killed because, during a lawful strike, an employer called in the police -- who, by the way, are no more interested in getting involved in the middle of these disputes than anyone else, but they have a job to do, a lawful responsibility, and they're called in to push those workers aside to let the replacement workers come in.

Now, with the freezing of minimum wage and the cutting back on social services and the attack on the poor and the abandonment of children -- that's a litany of the things this government has done -- they're creating a world of desperate workers, and when faced with the option of whether or not to cross that line, many will look at their families and say, "I have no choice." You will be directly responsible for every person hurt on a picket line in this province because of the steps you're taking today.

And talking about democracy in the workplace, this government wouldn't know democracy in the workplace if it walked up and bit them.


The Speaker: Order. The member for Etobicoke West is out of order.

Mr Christopherson: What they care about is creating an imbalance. They don't care about real democracy in the workplace or they never would have eliminated the Workplace Health and Safety Agency, which is a model of cooperation between employees and employers. That's gone too.

In three months, this government has clearly said: "The poor are to blame for the problems in this province. Children's needs are the problem. Single parents are to blame. Workers are to blame." You wrap them all up in special-interest-group labels and then give them the back of your hand.

This is the proof that this government does not care about working people and is prepared to abandon them on the road to its new revolution.

Mr Howard Hampton (Rainy River): I'd like to respond to the announcement by the Minister of Agriculture, first of all to say to him that he will try to create the impression that the Agricultural Labour Relations Act was aimed, somehow, at the unionization of the family farm. He knows that is not true. He knows that the Ontario Federation of Agriculture participated in the drafting of that bill and saw clearly that it was aimed at dealing with that variety of agricultural processing plants that are much like steel plants, auto plants and paper mills in that they employ several hundred people and do processing work. It is impossible to segregate and somehow move them away from other types of manufacturing in the province. You may try all the fancy words in the world; you will not take away those workers' charter rights.



Mrs Lyn McLeod (Leader of the Opposition): On a point of order, Mr Speaker: Yesterday, the Minister of Community and Social Services indicated to members of the House that he had a budget that would show how welfare recipients would be able to live on the reduced payments that they were receiving.

As you will recall, he indicated not only that he had that budget, but that he would make it available to members of the opposition. We have been trying persistently and unsuccessfully since yesterday to obtain a copy of the budget. We understand that his ministry staff may now be preparing a copy of a budget.

But, Mr Speaker, if you review the statement that the minister made in the House yesterday, I think you will agree that he clearly indicated -- in fact pointed to -- a budget, said it was available and he would make it available to us. I would ask you to determine whether or not that minister misled the House yesterday.

The Speaker (Hon Allan K. McLean): I will review what the member has just said.



Mrs Lyn McLeod (Leader of the Opposition): My first question is to the Premier. Premier, yesterday we were shocked to learn that your government had taken action to close 25 halfway houses across this province. Today, I am absolutely appalled to learn of your government's decision to put women and children at risk by cutting funding for second-stage housing projects for victims of spousal violence.

Premier, we've spoken to the second-stage housing alliance about the impact of those cuts. We understand that your cuts will affect approximately 400 women and 800 children across this province. These are women and children who have been forced to flee from their homes because of violence.

Mr Floyd Laughren (Nickel Belt): Very predictable.

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

Mrs McLeod: They spend, as I'm sure you know, up to six weeks in emergency shelter and then they move to the second-stage programs that have been set up to help them live independently so that they don't have to return to an abusive home.

We know that these programs are cost-effective. We know that they have proven that women can leave violent situations and live independently. I'll offer you one example, Premier: a second-stage housing project in Haldimand-Norfolk which has served 142 families since December 1991. Of those, 138 people were able to start an independent life.

The Speaker: Put your question, please.

Mrs McLeod: These are programs that work. Cutting the programs means that women and children will be forced to return to violent homes. I ask you, Premier, how can you endanger the safety of women and children? How can you deny them a refuge when they are forced to flee a violent situation?


Hon Michael D. Harris (Premier): Thank you very much. Was that for me or for the member? I'm sorry.

Mrs McLeod: Don't be flippant on this, Mike.

Hon Mr Harris: I think we're dealing with a very serious matter. I know the minister responsible for women's issues is prepared to respond.

Hon Dianne Cunningham (Minister of Intergovernmental Affairs, with responsibility for Women's Issues): It's my pleasure to respond to the question because I think every member in this House will be interested in a direct response, and the direct response is this: It is correct that we have made changes in the programs in second-stage housing, but I think it's very important that every member in this House and every community in this province understand that we will not be touching the residential component of second-stage housing.

Right now in the province of Ontario, we are supporting over 98 shelters; that's what you would refer to possibly as first-stage housing. All of us in this House know that at this difficult time in Ontario we must work together to provide efficient, effective programs, and every woman and man in this House knows that in their own communities there is room for more efficiencies.

I met with a group of women on Monday morning in Toronto looking at that very program who told us that there is room for more coordination and efficiencies.

The Speaker: Would you wrap up your answer, please.

Hon Mrs Cunningham: I should remind all members in this House that this group had met for the first time in a year. If we're looking at coordinating and efficiencies and providing a future for these same women and children who are abused, we'd better get our house in order, our efficient budget in order, get rid of the deficit and start providing jobs for those women in Ontario.

Mrs McLeod: It's difficult for me to believe that even in this first -- what is it? -- 10 days we've been back in the House, the minister responsible for women's issues has been forced by her Premier into giving this House that kind of an answer. This minister knows full well that the second-stage housing provides both a physical place for the families who have been forced to leave their homes; it also provides the counselling that gives them the support they need to make the adjustments to living independently and in fact to find the jobs that allow them to live independently.

I think this minister knows full well, as she sits around the cabinet table, that for this government, any cut, any cut at all, is a good cut. They really don't seem to care over there about anything or anybody. They don't care about the impact of the cuts they're making.

I say to the minister who has given me this response that we've also talked to the Ontario Association of Interval and Transition Houses; we've talked to people who are in the emergency shelter programs -- yes, indeed, the first place of refuge for women and children who are forced to leave -- and they are concerned about the impact of these cuts, because they're there; they can barely meet the demands for crisis response.

The Speaker: Put your question, please.

Mrs McLeod: They cannot provide longer-stage housing; they cannot become a revolving door for women and children who are going to be forced by these cuts back into violent and abusive situations. So what do you tell them, Minister? What do you tell these people in the emergency shelters as to how they should respond to the crisis situations? How can they provide the refuge that's needed, and where was your voice when this decision was made?

Hon Mrs Cunningham: I would like to speak first of all to where my voice is in this cabinet. That is that I believe strongly that we must support and in fact increase effective programs for women and children in the province of Ontario. It would be very helpful if all members of this House go out to the communities today and tell them that those places for emergency need in first- and second-stage housing will still be there. I expect that kind of response from the media as well.

The worst thing that we can do in this province is to put out scare tactics so that women and children who are already concerned about their future and their safety -- an availability of space for them is there. I think the wrong approach for any elected members representing their communities is to send --


The Speaker: Order. Would the member take her seat, please.

Mrs McLeod: I'm sure there is a correct response as this government would like the response to be understood, but there is also a reality that will face women and children who are forced to leave abusive situations. They will be forced back into those abusive and potentially violent situations because they will not have the support they need.


Mrs McLeod: I wish the Premier, who now interjects, had been prepared to answer the question, because I take him back to the throne speech, which I believe was a document that's supposed to carry the commitment of this Premier as well as his government.

The Speaker: Put your question through the Chair, please.

Mrs McLeod: Mr Speaker, I am addressing the Premier and the minister, through you, and reminding them, through you, that this government promised in the throne speech to bring in a Victims' Bill of Rights, and they promised as well to right "the balance between those who live outside the law and those who depend on the law for protection." And yet the first thing this government does is to cut the support for victims of violence.

I ask, through you, the minister and, through her, the Premier, what has happened to that commitment? How can you possibly speak of a commitment to helping victims when you are stripping programs which protect women and children who are clearly victims of violence?

Hon Mrs Cunningham: The member is quite correct and we agree with her that we believe too much focus has been given to the rights of criminals over the past number of years and not enough on the rights of victims. That is why this government, unlike the previous two governments, will introduce a Victims' Bill of Rights.



Mrs Lyn McLeod (Leader of the Opposition): I want to address another decision made by this government and return to the Solicitor General on the matter of shutting down Ontario's halfway houses.

Although the minister indicated yesterday that there would be a 90-day period in which those closures could take place, in fact, as we all know now, the closures started taking place last night. Men and women who were working on rebuilding their lives, making a transition out of jail and back into society, last night were sent back to jail.

I want to draw the minister's attention to the case of the Ellen Osler Home in Dundas, Ontario, a centre operated by the Salvation Army. Yesterday the 18 men who were living there were sent back to jail. They were given two hours' notice that they would be returning to jail. They were not allowed to make phone calls to family, to friends or to employers, because six of these men had jobs. They were working. They were starting to contribute again. Now they're back in jail.

We are hearing reports of that from across the province, reports of people who were working and who had to quit the jobs so that this minister could send them back to jail last night.

So, Minister, I ask you: How many of the people you shipped back to jail last night were working? How many people had to quit a job and go back to jail as a result of your so-called cost-saving measure?

Hon Bob Runciman (Solicitor General and Minister of Correctional Services): I would remind the Leader of the Opposition that these are people who broke the laws of this country and the laws of this province. It's interesting to note her extended sympathy for those individuals.

I think it's important that we put this issue in perspective. On any given day we can have 75,000 offenders within the province of Ontario in a variety of methods of supervision. We have about 7,500 to 8,000 who are incarcerated. In this particular setting 398 beds in community resource centres represent about 0.5%.


The Speaker (Hon Allan K. McLean): Order. Would the member take his seat, please. If the members would like to hear the answer to the question I would appreciate kindness. Would the minister proceed.

Hon Mr Runciman: I was encouraging the Leader of the Opposition to put this in perspective, that 398 beds in community resource centres represent about 0.5% of the inmate population in this province. This is not a significant hardship for anyone.

Mrs McLeod: Mr Speaker, I'd not only like to hear the answer, I'd like to understand an answer. Perhaps, since you've asked me to address my questions through you, you can help me understand why this minister would respond to my question about how many people had to quit a job to go back to jail yesterday by telling me that they had committed a crime, or why he would give me a percentage of what that group of people was of those in our correctional institutions. I was asking how many people had to quit a job to go back to jail.

I will now ask the minister, because ironically this is the kind of cut that is undertaken that actually ends up costing more money than it saves, whether or not he has looked at what the increased cost of what he did yesterday is going to be. You forced people who were working to quit their jobs; you're sending them back to jail, where it actually costs more to keep people than it did in the halfway house.

According to the Elizabeth Fry Society, it costs approximately $25,000 to keep a person in a halfway house. This is almost half of the $47,000 that it costs, on average, to keep a person in jail. I see the minister is nodding his agreement. It's going to cost $2.3 million just to buy the equipment for electronic monitoring if he brings that system in, and we haven't heard yet what the implementation cost will be.

Yesterday I asked you what the increased policing costs would be, how many more repeat offenders we would see, and you had no answers for me. It flies in the face of common sense to force people to quit jobs, to leave a halfway house, go back to jail -- a more expensive facility -- and claim it will save money.

The Speaker: Put your question, please.

Mrs McLeod: What proof can you offer that closing these houses will save any money at all, or in fact can you offer that it will not cost more? I don't want rhetoric, I want a detailed accounting.

Hon Mr Runciman: Perhaps the Leader of the Opposition should talk to Premier Wells in Newfoundland. They've had this system in place for some time in terms of electronic monitoring. Perhaps she should turn around and talk to the member sitting behind her, a former minister of corrections.

The Liberal government, in 1989 to 1990, entered into a program of electronic monitoring. They entered into it. That was cancelled when the NDP took over government. So clearly there was strong support within the Liberal government of the day to move towards electronic monitoring. Now they're being critical of us following through on a program that they initiated.

Mr David Ramsay (Timiskaming): Beyond the question of whether you'll be saving any money and the fact that making people quit their jobs is pure lunacy, there is an issue of public safety here. What you've done by closing these houses is to remove the counselling and the support the offenders need to make that smooth and safe transition back into society. Your plan is to send those low-risk offenders on electronic bracelets, but since there are no halfway houses left, the high-risk offenders are going to have to fulfil their terms in jail and go directly back on to the street. And this system is supposed to be safer?

What is the basis of your statement that your misguided experiment will make our towns and cities safer, and what studies do you have to indicate that it's safer to take the high-risk offenders directly from jail and put them directly back on to our streets without any counselling, without any safety checks?

Hon Mr Runciman: I reject that assertion that we're going to be handling matters in that way. The fact of the matter is that anyone who is going out on to electronic monitoring, as I indicated yesterday, is going to have to comply with very strict guidelines in terms of the kinds of individuals we will put through the system, in terms of a risk assessment to go out on to the streets. We're going to ensure that they pose no risk to society.

What the member is talking about in terms of an offender who may pose a risk, we have to deal with them through the normal process in any event through the parole system. Perhaps the superintendent of the jail will make a decision in circumstances with respect to the extended temporary absence program as well. They are all going to be subjected to a very intensive risk assessment process.

I think what we are doing is in the best interests of public safety in this province. People who are going to be out there in the communities are going to be monitored on a 24-hour basis. Currently they simply reside in that residence. They're back out in the community. We have no indication really of what they're doing while they're out there. Now we're going to be monitoring them on a 24-hour, seven-day-a-week basis; much safer for the public of Ontario.



Mr David Christopherson (Hamilton Centre): My question is to the Minister of Labour. Minister, your introduction of new legislation today will bring an end to an unprecedented period of labour peace and economic growth, and in spite of the irresponsible predictions by both your party and the Liberals during the debate on Bill 40, we know that in 1993 and 1994 new private sector investment was at $53.8 billion. In fact, in the manufacturing sector alone, which is a very highly unionized sector, we saw $8.8 billion invested in 1994, which is the highest level of investment in any single year in the history of this province. All of that happened under the law of Bill 40. We know that since Bill 40 was enacted there's been a net increase of 178,000 jobs created in this province.

On page 15 of your Common Sense Revolution, you stated: "We will repeal the NDP's labour legislation -- Bill 40 -- in its entirety. Period. It's a proven job killer." I'm asking you today, prove it.

Hon Elizabeth Witmer (Minister of Labour): We are introducing today the repeal of Bill 40 and new amendments that are going to democratize the workplace. We are doing this because we know that we have had a tremendous loss of investment to this province and new job creation.

We have heard from the employers, and although you've indicated and said today there is this additional investment, there are these new jobs, unfortunately what you haven't told us is about the number of jobs, the thousands and thousands of jobs that did not happen here simply because people didn't expand in Ontario, didn't come in and didn't create new jobs. We will never know the thousands of jobs that have been lost because of Bill 40.

Mr Christopherson: The minister needs to realize that she's in government now and can't get away with just making wild allegations. You've got to prove what you're doing and why you're doing it and back up the things you say, and to suggest there were some thousands of jobs that didn't come here is not going to wash in the face of the record.

My second question is the same as the first. I'm asking the minister, in light of the investment that we've had in this province, in light of the fact that there was a GDP growth of 5.5%, that we have benefited from a stable work environment, that we have benefited from the labour peace that exists -- and in fact we know that stability is one of the key factors when business is thinking of investing in a province -- Minister, I ask you again: You made the statement in your document that this Bill 40 is a proven job killer; you didn't answer my question. Prove what you said in the Common Sense Revolution; prove it, Minister.

Hon Mrs Witmer: I will give you an example, and there are many, many other thousands of examples, and as the new jobs start to come into this province, when people realize the barriers to investment are down, we're going to have more examples.

In my own backyard, in the city of Kitchener, we know that Dare cookies cancelled a planned expansion because of the restrictions placed upon them by Bill 40, and they selected to move south to the United States. There are numerous other examples throughout this province. During the past few weeks I have received phone calls from employers asking if indeed we're going to repeal Bill 40, because if we are, they are prepared to expand their factories here, they are prepared to create new jobs, and I will tell you, the jobs will come.

Mr Christopherson: Minister, I still don't believe that you've proven it. However, let me take you up on your offer of examples. When the previous Minister of Labour was considering Bill 40, he travelled to 11 communities across the province, he met with 195 business and employer groups, 109 labour and union groups and 28 community organizations.

Minister, since your answer seems to be pointing out examples, I'm asking you today if you will commit to taking this legislation out in the province for public hearings and let's find out what the truth is. Will you commit to public hearings today?

Hon Mrs Witmer: I'm glad you mentioned the approach, the process used by the former Minister of Labour, because I would like to remind you -- let's go back to what happened.

When the Minister of Labour decided there were 30 changes that he'd like to make to the Labour Relations Act, he got three people together from business, three people from labour, and he said, "These are the changes I'd like to make." In a month, labour said, "We have 60 changes we'd like to make," and business said, "We don't want to make any changes."

So what did your Minister of Labour do? He took the changes that had been put forward by the labour representatives and they became Bill 40. There was no input into the bill from the business community whatsoever. Yes, he travelled the province, but you and I both know that there was not one change in Bill 40 that reflected the wishes of the business community -- not one.

The Speaker (Hon Allan K. McLean): The question's been answered. The member for Windsor-Riverside.

Mr David S. Cooke (Windsor-Riverside): It's good to know that this government has two ministers for business.


Mr David S. Cooke (Windsor-Riverside): I have a question that would go to the Premier, but I assume he will be referring it to the minister responsible for women's issues, so I will ask the question to the minister responsible for women's issues.

It follows on the question that was asked by the leader of the official opposition, and in the last answer the minister referred to the Conservatives' proposal for a Victims' Bill of Rights. That was outlined in your Blueprint for Justice and Community Safety in Ontario, which only came out in January of this year, so it's only a few months old.

In the Victims' Bill of Rights the second proposal says, and I quote, "Victims should have access to social services, health care and medical treatment, counselling and legal assistance responsive to their needs." With the cuts that you've announced today for support services with second-stage housing, what good is a Victims' Bill of Rights when you're ignoring it at this point when it's only been promised in a throne speech a week ago? What good is that promise? It's not worth the paper it's printed on.

Hon Dianne Cunningham (Minister of Intergovernmental Affairs, with responsibility for Women's Issues): In today's announcement we were referring to cuts in programs that did not affect the core necessary services for women who have been violated, who need shelters and second-stage housing. What we did take away were some counselling programs for women and their families that relate to psychological counselling, opportunities for finding a new place to live, opportunities for discussing their concerns about child care, opportunities for returning to school, opportunities for getting a job, and all of those programs exist in communities across Ontario by other agencies, municipalities and small programs for women.

What we're saying, and other women are saying, including women who run shelters who came to us, is that there needs to be coordination among all of our agencies and that's what we intend to help them to accomplish.

Mr Cooke: The minister can talk about coordination all she wants. Every social service in this province is being cut. Services to kids, services to women, services to families, they're all being cut. You can't coordinate nothing when you're gutting all of the social services of this province.

This document that the Tories put out earlier this year, the Blueprint for Justice, also says, commenting on the amount of spending that we had for services to women:

"Decades of studies have established the need for more shelters for abused women and their children. It is long past time for government to dedicate the necessary resources to this problem, and to work with volunteer groups in design and construction. The issue of financial cost pales in comparison to the moral demand for action in this area."

What happened to the commitment of this party before it was in government now that it's in government? Where are all your commitments that you made just a few months ago to the women and children in this situation?

Hon Mrs Cunningham: I would like to respond to the member to say that all responsible communities and agencies and boards and commissions are grouping together, like we are in London -- my colleague the member for London Centre is part of that study in London -- and we're all looking at ways that, during this downsizing -- and, by the way, you use "cuts" like 2% is a major program cut. We're still spending over $65 million on these programs. They were up to something like $69 million or $70 million. But we're spending vast amounts of money on these programs for women. It is still a priority of our government. The coordination program will be necessary in all communities across this province because we cannot bankrupt our province and then people will no longer have supports or jobs or hopes or aspirations for the future, and that's what this is all about.


Ms Frances Lankin (Beaches-Woodbine): May I say to the minister, we are not talking about efficiencies. This is not what you are doing here. These are cuts to necessary services. The services that women and their children who have experienced violence need is not just a bed. You don't just put them there and say, "No help in terms of reintegration into the communities, into the workplace, and in finding long-term housing." Minister, I'm just astounded that you could stand there and say that.

If you look at your own document, you've said the issue of financial costs pales in comparison to the moral demands. Your minister's letter out to these agencies doesn't talk about efficiencies. You know what it says? It says, "We're getting out of service areas we can simply no longer afford." I don't accept that these services can no longer be afforded in this province.

Let me say to the minister, you have a commitment to a tax break out there that is fuelling these funding cuts far beyond what is necessary in this province. People are being hurt. There are letters here: a letter from a mother talking about her child who wrote to the teacher about what they're experiencing in their flight from abuse and being in second-stage housing and saying, "We are finally free."

You're cutting their welfare benefits; you're cutting their support services. These women and children will no longer be free. These women and children are going to have to go back to situations of violence. You should be ashamed. Please explain to me how you're going to answer this mother, her son and many other families in the same situation.

Hon Mrs Cunningham: Women and children will only be free when they have hope and confidence in the future. They do not have that now. They are worried about where they will get their next job. They are worried about whether they will be able to get the educational programs. We in this government heard that at every door we knocked on during the last campaign.

We have a mandate to provide the core, essential, necessary services. Counselling is one of them, and we are still spending over $16 million in this program on counselling services alone. That's a lot of money, and I say to all of the members of this House that it is all of our responsibilities to find different ways of supporting women and children. Government cannot do it all. Persons have to accept responsibility for their family members and themselves if they want to have self-esteem and be successful.


Mr James J. Bradley (St Catharines): I have a --


The Speaker (Hon Allan K. McLean): Order. Will the House come to order, please.


The Speaker: Order. Would the member please come to order.

Mr Bradley: I have a question for the Minister of Environment and Energy. Minister, do you intend to abolish the Niagara Escarpment Commission?

Hon Brenda Elliott (Minister of Environment and Energy): Mr Speaker, as I rise to answer my first question in this House, may I wish you well, on behalf of my constituents in Guelph, in this unique forum.

Thank you for the question from the honourable member opposite. As with all ministries, given the severe financial restrictions that we are faced with, in my ministry we are looking at all boards, all commissions, all programs that we are involved in.

Mr Bradley: As I rise to ask my 7,000th question in the House, let me say -- Mr Speaker, you of all people would know this -- that one of the proud legacies of the previous Progressive Conservative government was the establishment of the Niagara Escarpment itself and its protection and the Niagara Escarpment Commission, and in particular the present Minister of Consumer and Commercial Relations, the member for Carleton. It has been designated a biosphere, as we would know, by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization.

However, Mr Bill Murdoch, the member for Grey-Owen Sound, a well-known opponent of the Niagara Escarpment Commission, has said recently to the Owen Sound Sun Times that Ontario Environment minister Brenda Elliott has said to him, "I think you'll like what we're going to do with the commission."

Could you tell the members of this House and the people of Ontario, who expect you to protect the Niagara Escarpment, what it is that you intend to do that will be liked by the member for Grey-Owen Sound, who today, I believe, is squiring the Reform Party leader around his riding?

Hon Mrs Elliott: As in my working relationship with all the members of the caucus, what I was explaining to Mr Murdoch was that we are looking at delivering services efficiently from this ministry.

I can assure the member that the Niagara Escarpment Commission oversees the Niagara Escarpment, an internationally recognized feature of Ontario which we are committed to protect. This is a feature that is well recognized, that is highly admired by people across this province and throughout this world. Our government is committed to its protection.


Mr Floyd Laughren (Nickel Belt): I have a question to the Minister of Health. The Minister of Health may or may not know that on August 25 his deputy minister indicated to some district health council folks that there would be a 10% cut to hospital transfers in October and another 10% in April. Then on September 8, the principal secretary to the Premier, Mr David Lindsay, indicated there would a 20% cut to hospitals. Then on September 11, an assistant deputy minister in the Ministry of Health indicated to chief financial officers of hospitals that they could expect a 20% cut as well.

Then yesterday, in response to a query from me, the minister said, "I have no idea where that would come from," these rumours of cuts, "and it certainly would not come from an assistant deputy minister or someone of the senior management team in my ministry."

Could I ask the minister why he's out of the loop, and would he --

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

Mr Laughren: Would he show us today that he's taking back control of his ministry from the bureaucrats by announcing that there will be no cuts in transfers to hospitals?

Hon Jim Wilson (Minister of Health): I appreciate the question. I think it's important to keep in perspective who's in the loop and who needs to be in the loop. Speculation by an assistant deputy minister, which I understand took place in the form of what he claims to be a joke, an offhand remark --


The Speaker: Order.

Hon Mr Wilson: Believe me, with the very, very difficult agenda that your government left us I don't appreciate jokes like that, which add to instability in a system that we're trying to bring better management to. I have expressed my disappointment with that assistant deputy minister and I don't expect any member of the senior management team in my ministry to go down that road again in terms of speculation.

We are the government, we are the cabinet. I am the Minister of Health and I will deal with these issues. When I hear speculation like that, I will move very swiftly to try to bring stability back to, as your member for York South, the former Premier, spoke so eloquently about, a system that does need some restructuring, but it also needs the understanding and good management of the people in this House.

Mr Laughren: I appreciate that response from the Alexander Haig of the Tory party.

If the minister is at all concerned about instability or insecurity out there, and I think he should be, I would ask him to lay all of these rumours to rest, speak sharply to the principal secretary to the Premier, speak sharply to his deputy minister and his assistant deputy minister and announce here in the House today, once and for all -- because, after all, he certainly promised this during the election -- that he is not anticipating cuts of that magnitude to the Ontario hospital system.

Hon Mr Wilson: Perhaps the member would like to speak to the 11 chief executive officers of hospitals that I spoke to yesterday, who indicated very clearly to me -- and their message was consistent with what we heard in the election campaign from the people of Ontario -- that the status quo is not an option, that they want to restructure, they want to re-engineer, they're looking to government to help them through finding those efficiencies, bringing better management, helping them through their restructuring studies, and that's what we intend to do in my ministry. Where we can find efficiencies, where we can find better management, where we can avoid duplication, that's exactly what we'll be doing, and we'll be working in partnership with those people who must provide those services on the front line.



Mr John R. Baird (Nepean): My question is to the Minister of Consumer and Commercial Relations. As I'm sure the minister is aware, the problem of high-temperature plastic vents on mid-efficiency furnaces is a big issue across the province. Some 11,000 Ontario homeowners are faced with the risk of exposure to carbon monoxide as the plastic vents on their heating systems are deteriorating and failing prematurely. This issue affects hundreds of homeowners in greater Barrhaven in my constituency, and families are concerned about the large replacement costs and the safety issue. Could the minister tell me what his ministry and he himself are doing to address this problem to ensure that Ontario homeowners are safe throughout the winter months?

Hon Norman W. Sterling (Minister of Consumer and Commercial Relations): This member and many other members in this Legislature have expressed concern over this particular matter. The premature failure of these plastic vents came to light in 1992. Under the previous government, a voluntary plan was set up to have homeowners try to remedy the particular situation. Of the 11,000 homeowners, only 400 took advantage of this plan, so it was evidently not successful.

When I took office in June of this year, I was very concerned about the safety of our citizens in the coming heating season and made this a very top priority of our ministry. On September 12, after mounting evidence, the director of my ministry's engineering and standards branch issued a safety order requiring the correction of heating systems by August 31 of next year. Following the issuance of this order --

The Speaker (Hon Allan K. McLean): Would you wrap up your answer, please.

Hon Mr Sterling: -- 8,000 homeowners became eligible under the Ontario new home warranty program, at no cost to the homeowner. The homeowners were advised to contact the Ontario new home warranty program for further details.

We are also providing all homeowners, other homeowners, with information on how to keep their system safe during this upcoming winter season.

Mr Baird: I appreciate the minister's comments. Could the minister tell this House what he and his ministry are doing to assist homeowners who have updated their heating system and are not covered by the new home warranty program? This is an issue for many homeowners in my constituency. I've a letter from one constituent on Langholm Crescent, and this is a very big issue. Could the minister tell what he's doing to protect health and safety?

Interjection: Call 1-800-NORM.

Hon Mr Sterling: I think some members across the way don't realize the importance and the severity of this issue. It is a very, very important issue to many people.

My primary concern is for the health and safety of these families, that carbon monoxide poison does not emit from these furnaces over the next year. Homeowners, until they are able to remedy their systems, can contact their gas company and they will obtain a free inspection. I also would advise homeowners to install a carbon monoxide detector. We have been advised that affected homeowners who are not covered by the home warranty program should contact their gas utility for information.

My ministry is committed to continue working with affected parties to try to find an alternative vent system that can reduce the cost to all players while promoting public safety. I have been advised, and this is good news for those people, that an alternative venting system is currently under way and we hope will be approved very shortly. I'll report back to the members when --

The Speaker: Order, please. The question has been answered.



Ms Sandra Pupatello (Windsor-Sandwich): Thank you. I'll enjoy that while it lasts.

My question is for the Minister of Health, and I hope he'll excuse that I haven't congratulated him on his appointment as hatchet man for health care in Ontario.

You are asking communities to come to you with reconfiguration proposals that will save health care dollars. In the Common Sense Revolution you guarantee a reinvestment of savings into any community that finds cost savings. Windsor is one of these communities. Will you today guarantee your commitment to the reconfiguration process in Windsor, where we've already gone through the painful process of reducing hospitals from four to two?

Hon Jim Wilson (Minister of Health): I thank the honourable member for her question. I welcome her to this Legislature and I do congratulate her on her election.

Very clearly, when I met with the Windsor-Essex district health council representatives, the representatives of the hospital restructuring in that area -- I believe the honourable member will know it was about three or four weeks ago, perhaps a little longer -- I suggested to them that they try to go back and bring forward a plan to me that would allow us to give them the green light to go ahead and finish the restructuring in that area.

There has been a tremendous amount of good work done in the Windsor-Essex area. Your people in that area are to be commended. I wish I could have given the green light some few weeks ago; however, the request for $66 million of upfront capital, when the Ministry of Health in the best of years only spends about $200 million on capital, didn't allow me at this time to give them the green light. They have come back with another proposal, which I'm currently reviewing, and I hope in the near future we'll be able to give the go-ahead to your constituents to get on with that restructuring.

Ms Pupatello: In fact the minister has stalled and sent the Windsor group back to the drawing-board. May I remind the minister that this is a landmark case in Windsor, with all eyes watching to see if you are committed to providing the incentives that communities need to work together and come back here with a plan for you. Perhaps I need to warn the hospitals that you're not prepared to play ball, or will you guarantee the $66 million in capital, the $22 million reinvested in our community for health services? We need the guarantee today. The province of Ontario needs the guarantee that our health services will be maintained.

Hon Mr Wilson: As gently as I can, the honourable member should know that Windsor is one of some 26 restructuring committees that will be reporting in the next weeks and months to the Ministry of Health, to this government and to their own district health councils. To give such a large portion this year of our capital dollars when we have to make some reinvestments in cancer care and we have to make some reinvestments for the waiting list with respect to cardiac care in this province, to give all of that money to Windsor, which was a rather large carrot put forward by the previous government and done in isolation to the some 60 restructuring studies that are going on, 26 to come in pretty soon, I've had to ask for and I have received -- and I think the honourable member is unfairly characterizing the very positive meeting I had with the representatives from her area -- good cooperation, and I expect in the near future we'll be able to work something out so they can get on with their restructuring. That's my intent, and that's my commitment to you today.



Mrs Marion Boyd (London Centre): My question is to the Solicitor General and Minister of Correctional Services. Mr Minister, in the throne speech your government stated, "The new government invites its partners in the broader public sector to identify the tools they will need to increase flexibility, improve efficiency, and reduce costs." Further on that same page, your government promised that it was "serious about reducing its own size and cost."

In the Ministry of Correctional Services, 80% of the funding goes to institutions which currently care for only 20% of those who've been convicted of crimes in this province -- 80% of those who've been convicted serve out their sentence within the community in one form or another. Yesterday, your ministry moved 400 additional prisoners from the community into already overcrowded government-run facilities.

I ask the Solicitor General, what consultation was held with the partners in the community about how to effect cost savings in correctional services and what suggestions came forward from community agencies, what consultations did he have about those suggestions, and what consultations have come forward from Correctional Services itself about changes that might happen effectively within correctional facilities run by the government?

Hon Bob Runciman (Solicitor General and Minister of Correctional Services): The consultative process is ongoing. The decision to close community resource centres is an initial change in terms of achieving some savings within the ministry of corrections. We're looking at the whole range of services and trying to identify core services that should be delivered by the Ministry of Correctional Services and focus our efforts on those core services. There's still a consultative process going on, an analysis of all the services we have provided over the past number of years and trying to identify the areas where really we should be focusing on in the future.

Mrs Boyd: That answer is not very satisfactory to those who have attempted with every means they have at their disposal to consult with this minister. I'm talking about people from the Elizabeth Fry Society, the John Howard Society, the Ontario Association of Community Correctional Residences, the Ontario Community Justice Association, the Salvation Army, the Saint Leonard's Society of Canada, who have done a report that does exactly what this government said it wanted its community partners to do, which they presented to the ministry in September of this year, called Cost Reduction Strategies in Community Corrections: Proposals for the Province of Ontario.

Yet, although they have sent repeated requests to meet with the minister around these suggestions, as recently as September 27 this minister has refused to meet with these community representatives, has refused to consider the cost savings suggestions in their proposals and instead has cut them.

I repeat to the minister, how are community agencies supposed to believe this nonsense that your government is stating about wanting to consult with partners? You eliminate your partners instead of consulting with them.

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

Mrs Boyd: What is your plan in the next few weeks to meet with these groups and consult with them about the reality of their situation and that of their employees and that of the people they serve?

Hon Mr Runciman: We intend to consult widely -- we're not trying to reject the input from any interested group in the province of Ontario -- and we will indeed do that. What we've done in this particular situation, as I indicated in my response to the leader of the official opposition, is deal with a very modest number of individuals -- 398 beds. We have not put all of those people back into institutions, as the member alleged in her initial question.

It's interesting to note her concern for cost savings now, and new ideas and proposals that we should be listening to, when you look at yesterday's media, "NDP Staff Got $6.1 Million Sendoff." That's the NDP's idea of good utilization of tax dollars, not ours.


Mr Doug Galt (Northumberland): Mr Speaker, first may I extend my congratulations to you on your election as Speaker of the House. I, for one, certainly look forward to working with you during the coming term.

My question is addressed to the Minister of Health. Rural Ontario is having great difficulty in maintaining adequate numbers of physicians. Over the past few years, the climate to practise medicine in Ontario has not been healthy, and this seems to have reduced the number of physicians going to our rural areas. However, in some instances doctors are prepared to move into rural areas but are unable to, as your ministry will not provide them with an OHIP billing number.

The Campbellford and Brighton areas in the riding of Northumberland desperately need physicians. Will you help these communities?

Hon Jim Wilson (Minister of Health): I thank my colleague, the honourable member for Northumberland, for what is a very serious question.

I recall, as Health critic, watching the numbers grow in this issue area. We used to criticize the previous government early in its mandate for some 50 communities where there weren't enough physicians, therefore resulting in reduced emergency room hours in the local hospital or closed emergency rooms on weekends and during the evenings. When this government came to office, we discovered there are about 76 communities. Campbellford and Brighton are probably becoming the most famous, and they really illustrate why we need to act, and act very quickly, with respect to this issue and why the old programs, the status quo programs, are not working in terms of our underserviced area program, when we have programs, we have some generous incentives in place, we have some mechanisms through Bill 50 to deal with these issues, but even with all that we're still seeing an increase in areas that are not receiving proper coverage.

I'm working very, very hard right now, very quickly, with the Ontario Medical Association to address this problem. I'm hopeful that with the help of things like the Graham Scott report and some reinvestment activity that we are planning, we'll be able to bring some solutions forward in the very near future.

Mr Galt: There's no question the health system in Ontario is in great need of assistance in terms of helping communities recruit physicians. I would ask the Honourable Jim Wilson if he has any further plans to assist areas such as Campbellford and Brighton to obtain the required physicians and once again provide health equity in rural Ontario.

Hon Mr Wilson: If you think of the situation of Brighton -- and I've seen through media reports that that town, in its quest to try to attract just one physician, is offering upwards of $60,000 or $65,000 worth of additional incentives above what we pay for in the fee-for-service pool out of OHIP. This isn't just a money issue; it's a whole range of issues.

I'm pleased to report, and this actually came to my attention just this morning, that the Ontario Medical Association has released a press release to its members, dated October 2, in which they outline the very positive and constructive discussions we're currently having. They also, to my delight, indicate that they've received the message from this government that they're expected within a very few weeks -- in fact, they say within a month -- to get together with us and actually put forward solutions.

We'll be reporting back to the cabinet and to the people of this House with what I hope will be some very positive solutions --

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

Hon Mr Wilson: -- that physicians and the government can jointly implement.


Mr Michael Gravelle (Port Arthur): I have a question for the Minister of Transportation. It has now become clear that the minister, as part of the government's relentless cost-cutting measures, is planning to downgrade winter road maintenance in northern Ontario and in fact throughout the province. Such a move is courting disaster in northern Ontario, further endangering the lives of many people who must use the highway every day to go to home and to work.

While I recognize that the minister has no understanding of the realities of winter road conditions in the north, I cannot believe that he is willing to risk the lives of the people in the north by allowing this downgrade to happen.


My question to the minister is, will he take the opportunity now to assure the House that he will not make such cost-cutting decisions that will imperil lives, and will he commit to maintaining road maintenance at its previous level?

Hon Al Palladini (Minister of Transportation): I would like to thank the member and, at the same time, I would like to assure the member that public safety is our highest priority. The Ministry of Transportation will continue to clear the highways as soon as possible and maintain the standards that are safely adequate.

Mr Gravelle: It is imperative that the minister understand that any decision to downgrade winter road maintenance will cost lives. Surely this government cannot justify its cost-cutting exercise at such a price. I implore the minister and ask him to confirm that any decisions made or to be made in this regard will be rescinded immediately so the people of this province can at least be guaranteed a relatively safe passage on the roads and highways throughout the winter months.

Hon Mr Palladini: We believe that our standards are comparable to many, many other provinces in Canada and we are going to maintain those standards. This government is going to do better for less. I would like to assure the honourable member that safety on our highways is a priority in maintaining clean highways. This government is going to be able to do that. We will monitor road conditions and make the changes necessary as we go along, but we are committed to maintaining our highways.



Mr Harry Danford (Hastings-Peterborough): I present to the House a petition containing hundreds of names requesting a public inquiry with regard to an investigation into the incarceration arrangements of Karla Homolka.


Mr Tony Ruprecht (Parkdale): I have a petition to the assembly and it reads as follows:

"Whereas the new Conservative government is hell-bent," it says here, "on establishing a 20-bed forensic facility for the criminally insane at the Queen Street Mental Health Centre; and

"Whereas the nearby community is already home to the highest number of ex-psychiatric patients and social service organizations in hundreds of licensed and unlicensed rooming houses, group homes and crisis care facilities in all of Canada; and

"Whereas there are other neighbourhoods where the criminally insane could be assessed and treated; and

"Whereas no one was consulted -- not the local residents and business community, not leaders of community organizations, not education and child care providers and not even local members of Parliament;

"We, the undersigned residents and business owners of our community, urge the new Progressive Conservative government of Ontario to immediately stop all plans to accommodate the criminally insane in an expanded Queen Street Mental Health Centre until a public consultation process is completed."

I have signed my signature to this petition.


Mr James J. Bradley (St Catharines): I have a similar petition to the one presented by the Conservative member opposite. It reads as follows:

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

It is signed by a large number of people from the Niagara Peninsula.


Mr John Gerretsen (Kingston and The Islands): I have a petition signed by me and it's addressed to the Parliament of Ontario against economic cuts to present rates of social assistance.

"We, the undersigned citizens of Ontario, strongly oppose the government of Ontario's plans to cut welfare rates by 21.6%."



Mrs Witmer moved first reading of the following bill:

Bill 7, An Act to restore balance and stability to labour relations and to promote economic prosperity and to make consequential changes to statutes concerning labour relations / Projet de loi 7, Loi visant à rétablir l'équilibre et la stabilité dans les relations de travail et à promouvoir la prospérité économique et apportant des modifications corrélatives à des lois en ce qui concerne les relations de travail.

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

All those in favour, say "aye."

All those opposed, say "nay."

In my opinion, the ayes have it.

Call in the members. It will be a five-minute bell.

The division bells rang from 1516 to 1521.

The Speaker: The members will please rise one at a time when the clerk calls them.


Arnott, Ted

Guzzo, Garry J.

Preston, Peter

Baird, John R.

Hardeman, Ernie

Rollins, E.J. Douglas

Barrett, Toby

Harris, Michael D.

Ross, Lillian

Bassett, Isabel

Hodgson, Chris

Runciman, Bob

Beaubien, Marcel

Hudak, Tim

Sampson, Rob

Boushy, Dave

Jackson, Cameron

Saunderson, William

Brown, Jim

Johns, Helen

Shea, Derwyn

Carr, Gary

Johnson, Bert

Sheehan, Frank

Carroll, Jack

Johnson, Dave

Skarica, Toni

Chudleigh, Ted

Johnson, Ron

Smith, Bruce

Clement, Tony

Jordan, Leo

Snobelen, John

Cunningham, Dianne

Kells, Morley

Spina, Joseph

Danford, Harry

Klees, Frank F.

Sterling, Norman W.

DeFaria, Carl

Leach, Al

Stewart, R. Gary

Doyle, Ed

Leadston, Gary L.

Stockwell, Chris

Ecker, Janet

Marland, Margaret

Tascona, Joseph N.

Elliott, Brenda

Martiniuk, Gerry

Tilson, David

Eves, Ernie L.

Maves, Bart

Turnbull, David

Fisher, Barb

Munro, Julia

Vankoughnet, Bill

Flaherty, Jim

Mushinski, Marilyn

Villeneuve, Noble

Ford, Douglas B.

Newman, Dan

Wettlaufer, Wayne

Fox, Gary

O'Toole, John

Wilson, Jim

Froese, Tom

Ouellette, Jerry J.

Witmer, Elizabeth

Galt, Doug

Palladini, Al

Wood, Bob

Gilchrist, Steve

Parker, John L.

Young, Terence H.

Grimmett, Bill

Pettit, Trevor


The Speaker: All those opposed, rise one at a time.


Agostino, Dominic

Duncan, Dwight

Miclash, Frank

Bartolucci, Rick

Gerretsen, John

Morin, Gilles E.

Bisson, Gilles

Grandmaître, Bernard

Patten, Richard

Boyd, Marion

Gravelle, Michael

Phillips, Gerry

Bradley, James J.

Hampton, Howard

Pouliot, Gilles

Brown, Michael A.

Kormos, Peter

Pupatello, Sandra

Castrilli, Annamarie

Lalonde, Jean-Marc

Ramsay, David

Christopherson, David

Lankin, Frances

Ruprecht, Tony

Cleary, John C.

Laughren, Floyd

Sergio, Mario

Colle, Mike

Marchese, Rosario

Silipo, Tony

Conway, Sean G.

Martel, Shelley

Wildman, Bud

Cooke, David S.

Martin, Tony

Wood, Len

Curling, Alvin

McLeod, Lyn


Clerk of the House (Mr Claude L. DesRosiers): The ayes are 77, the nays 38.

The Speaker: I declare the motion carried.



Resuming the adjourned debate on the amendment to 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 Bud Wildman (Algoma): Mr Speaker, as I begin my contribution to the debate on the speech from the throne, I want, as other members have done, to extend to you my personal congratulations on your elevation to the Speaker's chair and I look forward to your tenure in that high office. We've served a good deal of time here together and I look forward to working with you in this new role that you're taking on.

I've participated in a number of throne debates over the years and I've always attempted to look at the approach of the government as outlined in its throne speech as a way of trying to determine what the general approach is of the government, recognizing that the specifics for implementing its direction will come later, as we've seen with the legislation introduced today, unfortunately, and the budget that's coming down later. We will be able to determine what the specifics will be.

I've looked at the throne speech. It's pretty obvious, as the Lieutenant Governor said in his presentation to the assembly, that this government is indeed committed to its document that it had published prior to the last election and campaigned on during the election campaign.


There really weren't many surprises in the throne speech, but I am disappointed that we have this singleminded approach, which I think can best be described in a very short phrase. Essentially, what this government campaigned on and what it seems to believe fervently is that the rich in Ontario don't have enough money and the poor have too much. It's essentially that rather strange dichotomy that poor people have too much money, they are taking too much, and that the wealthy do not have enough. That's a very odd and strange analysis of our economy as it stands today.

The government has announced, and we've seen, a significant cut in social assistance. I ask any member in this Legislature, how can we seriously expect people to take a 21% or 22% cut in their incomes and be able to continue to provide the essentials of shelter, food and clothing for their families?

We've seen the performance of the new Minister of Community and Social Services in the Legislature, and he's, to say the least, presenting rather bizarre solutions for the problems facing these people. He seems to have the view that these people, who have now had two or three months to prepare, as he says, should all now be working, and if they had really been serious, they'd all be out now working in the workforce and they wouldn't then face a serious cut in income. Frankly, it seems to me that if it was that easy to obtain employment, a very significant number of those people who are collecting social assistance would not be collecting it in the first place.

I suppose there are many in the government benches who believe that most, if not all, of the people who collect social assistance in this province are just people who do not want to work, and so if you provide a disincentive, you may change that behaviour and they will get out and get jobs. Perhaps we could concede that there may be a number of people who do not wish to work, but to suggest that the majority or even a sizeable minority of the people who collect social assistance are people who do not wish to work is a complete misreading of the situation.

Particularly when you see the government's lack of commitment to good child care, it means that most single parents are not going to be able to provide for care for their children without staying at home themselves, and as a result, they won't be able to get out to work. Even when you analyse the throne speech, you can see the basic contradictions within that proposal.

No wonder the minister has had such a difficult time explaining to this assembly and to the public how people are supposed to cope. In some ways I feel a little sorry for the minister. I mean, this is a difficult role to play.

I had hoped at one point that perhaps he would learn as he became more familiar with his ministry and with the regulations and the legislation for which he is responsible, that he might alter his position, and it sounded as if he was going to do that. At one point he said he had learned a lot about the problems facing people on social assistance and therefore he was concerned about how the government's agenda might impact upon those people. But then very quickly he moved back to the original position of the government.

I suspect the Premier had a little talk with him and told him: "Look, this is the agenda. We don't want you to be making these kinds of sympathetic statements to the public." Perhaps he should have had a little further talk and given him some ideas about what he should be saying, because what he's been saying since hasn't made a great deal of sense.

The thing that is particularly galling and which fits with what I said about the approach of the government is that we all know this is fiscally driven by a commitment to a major tax cut in the province, again the view that we should take money from the poor people and we should return it to the wealthy. In other words, we have the poor with less and the wealthy with more, and the suggestion is that somehow this is going to produce many jobs in the province.

Frankly, their numbers don't add up now. They didn't add up when the Common Sense Revolution document, or what I call the No Sense Retribution document, was brought in. At the time, the government, the now government, the then opposition party, said that by cutting government programs by $6 billion, we could then in fact have a lower deficit, certainly, but we also would have a 30% tax rate cut. At the same time the government was committed, and the Premier, the now Premier, repeatedly said the government would be committed to protecting health care, classroom education, policing and, depending on what part of the province he was in, he also added in agriculture.

Frankly, those numbers never did add up -- it's impossible -- and it's been shown that the government now recognizes that, so the Premier is now talking about a $9-billion cut instead of $6 billion, 150% of what was proposed initially, and of course that means continuing cuts over three years. All of this because of a commitment for a tax break to upper-income Ontarians, to give more money to those who already have and to take more money away from those who don't.

The commitment means that those who rely on public services will bear the greatest loss and receive the lowest tax benefit, if they pay any taxes now, and those who have the most and rely the least on public services will receive the greatest tax benefit.

It is completely unacceptable to us in this party to finance this tax break on the backs of the poor to fulfil what is essentially giving more to the rich, taking more from the poor, simply because of an ideological view that the rich do not have enough money and the poor have too much.

Mr Jack Carroll (Chatham-Kent): I rise today to speak in support of the speech from the throne, which set out in very precise terms the priorities which this government will address.

First permit me to elaborate a little on the great riding of Chatham-Kent. Geographically my riding includes the city of Chatham, the Maple City, with approximately 43,000 people, and all of Kent county north of the Thames River except for the village of Thamesville. Included in Kent county is the great industrial town of Wallaceburg. I refer to Wallaceburg as a great industrial town because with a population of only 12,000 people, it has 5,000 industrial jobs, thanks in large part to a program called the Wallaceburg skills development program.

This program started 17 years ago as a cooperative training venture between local industry, labour, St Clair College and the board of education. It is a remarkable example of a local initiative that worked, but one that is currently in jeopardy because of the bureaucratic nightmare called OTAB, the Ontario Training and Adjustment Board.

Also included in the riding is the town of Dresden, home of Uncle Tom's Cabin and Museum, a major attraction on the black heritage tour, and a Nabisco food processing plant that cans 50% of the Canadian volume of whole tomatoes. Those tomatoes, along with major quantities of corn and soybeans, are the primary crops grown on some of the finest farm land in Canada by some of the greatest farmers in Canada.


We are proud to boast that Union Gas maintains its head office in Chatham and we hope in the near future to see construction begin on Canada's largest ethanol plant. With natural gas and ethanol, Kent county will become increasingly important as the alternative fuel capital of Canada.

Navistar International Corp, which produces heavy-duty International trucks, is our largest employer. They are currently producing 103 trucks a day, most of which are exported to the United States.

I am also pleased to report that Chatham has been selected as the host city for the 1996 Special Olympics provincial summer games.

During the 35th Parliament recently completed, the Chatham-Kent riding was served by Mr Randy Hope of the NDP. I want to acknowledge Randy's effort on behalf of the people of Chatham-Kent. While I seldom agreed with him on policy matters or on his government's decisions, I do thank him for his years of service. I am proud now to carry the Conservative banner following in the footsteps of Andy Watson, the Honourable Darcy McKeough and the great George Parry.

I would like at this time to acknowledge my wife, Janette, who has always encouraged me to follow my dreams. I couldn't be here without her total support.

As I became less active in my business career, I was faced with the option of complaining about government or offering to make myself available to help. I considered my three children and my grandchildren, and I realized that government as we knew it in Ontario was unsustainable. Quite frankly, I was embarrassed to say to my children, "Here, we broke it; you go fix it."

We have allowed government to grow out of control -- and that is the collective "we." Most of us here complained as our taxes continued a relentless upward spiral. We have also complained about the oppressive government regulations and the runaway debt levels, and at the same time we watched as hundreds of special-interest groups hijacked our province.

Like so many of my colleagues, I finally had enough. It was time to get involved, to bring some sense of order to this monster government that we have allowed to become the master rather than the server it was intended to be.

The platform we took to the people is practical and doable. It causes us to address the problems today rather than continue to run up unpayable balances on our children's credit cards.

The people used the democratic process to send a message that they wanted the program we proposed. I stand here before you today to let the people of Chatham-Kent know that I am totally committed to doing everything I can to make sure we deliver. I feel so strongly about the need to rescue our province that my written promise during the campaign stated that, "As a member of a Mike Harris majority government, if we haven't lowered your taxes and balanced the total budget within five years or less, I will resign." I believe it's time politicians were more accountable for their actions.

In my nomination speech, I told the people of Chatham that I believed in God, in the family as the basis for order in our society, in the sanctity of human life, and in the need for all citizens to be more self-reliant and less dependent on government.

Today I stand in this great chamber believing in the same fundamentals, with the added belief that in order to restore credibility to government, we must deliver on our promises. What an incredibly exciting time to be alive and part of the process in Ontario. We have an opportunity, indeed a responsibility, to redraw the blueprint which will take our great province into the next millennium.

While part of my responsibilities relates to being a member of the Mike Harris team, of greater importance is my commitment to my constituents to stimulate economic development in Kent county, economic development by the private sector that creates permanent, well-paid jobs. Our government does understand its role as the facilitator of job creation, not the job creator.

Like so many others here, I come from an ordinary, hardworking family. I believe on June 8, the ordinary, hardworking families of this province, the silent majority, stood up and got counted. They asked us to restore fiscal integrity to the province so that they and their children would have a future. We must not let them down.

When my time of service is done here, I would like it to be said that the government I am so proud to be a part of made the difficult decisions, despite vociferous opposition by special-interest groups, that made Ontario a more exciting, compassionate place for all of us and that I was able to make a contribution to that process.

Ms Annamarie Castrilli (Downsview): It is with some pleasure that I rise to respond to the speech from the throne. I'd like first of all to take the opportunity to thank the people of Downsview for their faith in me. I have been elected to represent one of the most exciting ridings in Ontario. It is the home of people whose origins go back to some 115 countries and who speak a total of about 84 different languages.

A microcosm of the new Canada, Downsview is an exemplary community where diverse economic, racial and cultural groups flourish side by side. It is a community that prizes excellence in education through such dynamic institutions as York University and Osgoode Hall Law School. It is a community that values the importance of work and industry through such leaders as Labourers' International and Bombardier of Canada. It is a community that cares deeply about the importance of family and the safety of its seniors, its women and its children. It is a community that speaks to the future of Canada and that has much to teach this province and this country.

Yet as conscious as I am of the strength of the riding which I represent, I am equally aware of the challenges which we will have to face. Ask just about anyone in Downsview about sacrifice and they will tell you that they are accustomed to making do, that they work hard every day to create a better life for themselves and for their children, that they resent those who do not share these values and who abuse their privileges as residents of what the United Nations has termed one of the best countries in which to live. But no one in Downsview would ever want another human being to go hungry, to be homeless, to have children suffer, and that is what this government has announced loudly and boldly through its speech from the throne.

One of the fundamental characteristics of a fair society is how it treats, not its strong, but its weakest members. Governments must ever be wary of using their extraordinary powers against those least able to defend themselves. How can the poor, the elderly, the children, ever defend themselves against the massive and well-entrenched machinery of any government? What kind of society will we be if we willingly ignore and discard the neediest among us? Would we or could we in our families ever abandon our parents, our children, our daughters, our sons?


Canada has gained the respect of the world because of its traditions, its peacekeeping, and its promise of equality of opportunity for its citizens. Throughout our history, no province has exemplified that equality more than Ontario. While our system has not been and is not now perfect, it has nevertheless offered some important guarantees. Through education, through health care and through child care, Ontario has provided effective tools for a healthy and productive citizenry.

All this, and more, is now in jeopardy. Recent pronouncements of this government leave no doubt that draconian measures will be the order of the day. In the name of fiscal restraint, it is launching an attack on schools, hospitals, day cares, workers, students and the disabled, among so many others. Anyone who disagrees with it is labelled a special-interest group. This is not fiscal restraint, this is an ideological war.

We all know that the problems to be resolved are many and complex and that unpopular measures must sometimes be taken. It may be that a revolution is required for change to take place, but it is also true that successful revolutions are born of ideas and not just from the brute force of power. The Common Sense Revolution of which the government is so proud brings no new ideas, and there is nothing more dangerous than power without the conviction of new ideas. And so some twisted form of common sense is peddled as the magic solution to all of our ills.

The words of one politician in particular ring true: "We had also taken apprenticeship in advertising and learned how to put a complex and sophisticated case in direct, clear and simple language. We had, finally, been arguing that case for the best part of four years, so our agenda would, with luck, strike people as familiar common sense rather than as a wild, radical project."

This is what this government is doing, but the quote is not new. It belongs to Margaret Thatcher. She too, like this government, tried to play with the common sense of ordinary citizens, and we all know how disastrous that was for England: high unemployment and even higher deficits.

Not even the notion of revolution is new. It was announced in Chicago during the 1980 Republican convention, which for the first time preached the political theory of supply-side economics that hinged economic revival to reduced taxes and services. We are now being sold a Reaganomics bill of goods all over again, and we know how disastrous that was for the United States. Americans were left with the highest deficits in their history.

Another politician has said, "We have to recognize that litigation, taxation, regulation, welfare, education, the very structure of government, the structure of health, all those things, have to be re-examined from the standpoint of what will make us the most competitive society."

That is what the Tories are preaching. People are forgotten as everything is sacrificed on the altar of competitiveness. But these words belong not to Mike Harris but to an American Republican, none other than Newt Gingrich. After Thatcher's common sense and the Reaganomics of 15 years ago, we now see the Tories again with the Gingrich revolution. I might well imagine what the outcome may be in the United States, but I care more about the future of this province, a future which is in jeopardy because of failed ideas that are now being peddled as a revolution of the 1990s.

This does not, however, mean that governments should deal with our considerable challenges by spending our way through them or by denying them. It does mean that when we are asked to do our best for our province by tightening our belts, this apply to every one of us. Instead, this government has focused on requiring seniors, people with disabilities and single mothers to cut back. It would close hospitals and put higher education out of the reach of many families, yet it asks nothing of big business.

While the Toronto-Dominion Centre successfully appeals its property tax assessment that could result in a $10-million refund, Wheel-Trans is being dismantled. While corporations like the Royal Bank and Great Lakes Power boast record net profits and profit margins respectively, thousands of health care workers fear for their jobs. Where's the belt tightening? Where is the justice in this? I'm sure that even business leaders must be shaking their heads in shock.

The Conservative agenda seems bent on inflicting further punishment on people who have already paid for a crushing recession that has left them without jobs.

As difficult as the consequences of this recession have been, what worries me more is the attitude of a government that believes that being without a job is somehow the fault of the jobless. It worries me because the recession may have taken away their jobs but this government seeks as well to take away people's dignity. This is not what Ontarians believe is fair, and it is most certainly not the legacy of even past Conservative governments in Ontario. John Robarts's and Bill Davis's Ontario did not accept that some of the population should be well fed while the remainder starves. Never in the history of Ontario have we seen such blatant attempts to pursue ideology at the expense of people.

Deficit cutting and balanced budgets no longer mean what the words indicate. They are now code words, code words well understood by a select few, code words intended to redistribute wealth to the rich. All the devastating, demoralizing cuts that have already been announced this year will barely be able to finance next year's income tax reduction, which will most benefit the province's highest income earners.

But Ontarians will not be fooled. Ours is a people that has weathered numerous crises, and we will survive the Conservative agenda as well. To the people of Ontario, we in the Liberal caucus continue to pledge that we will speak out: for fairness, for justice and above all for people.

Mr Peter Kormos (Welland-Thorold): First, Mr Speaker, so as not to appear ungracious, I should congratulate everybody, you included. And now I'll stop puckering up and approaching from the rear and get on with a discussion of the throne speech.

The fact is that the omissions from the throne speech were what was most telling to the folks from Welland-Thorold and Niagara region, because Niagara region, a unique part of this province which is a remarkable integration of agricultural, urban, rural and industrial communities, has been among the hardest hit of all of Ontario when it came to the impact of free trade and the recession. The impact of free trade and the recession created levels of unemployment in Niagara that are unprecedented for Niagara and certainly among the highest in the province of Ontario.

There's no doubt about it: A whole lot of people in Niagara region -- no two ways about it -- voted for Tories. They voted for Tories because a whole lot of them were inclined to believe the blue book promise about jobs, 725,000 of them, and my God, they were shocked like they've never been shocked. They have a sense of betrayal, and by God, people were stopping me on the street, saying, "There must be liars within that gang because" -- I didn't say that, Speaker, but people were stopping me on the street saying that.

When they listened to the throne speech, not once but twice, some called the 1-800-FOOLED YA line, and others asked me if in the throne speech there was not a single mention of jobs, never mind 725,000, never mind 725 -- not one.

We've got people in Niagara region who are hurting. Those same people, not just young people, but their parents and more mature people yet, who believed that they had some security in the workplace, who expected to be able to work, work hard, work in a very skilled way -- because Niagara region's workers are as skilled as any in this province, in this country -- found themselves after 10, 15, 20 years' investment in that workplace unemployed, without a job because of free trade and the recession.

They found themselves abandoned by a federal Liberal government that too had made promises in its red book about jobs and about sustenance and support for those hard hit, hardest hit, by the recession and by free trade. What did they discover? They discovered that there were UI cutbacks, so they were forced to go knocking at the door of the welfare office because they were unemployed and they had no support from a UI system that they hoped, albeit fecklessly, would carry them through a brief period of unemployment, and they find themselves on welfare. Now they find themselves under attack as unemployed people, because not only is there not any effort, any suggestion of job creation in that throne speech, there is a commitment to an unprecedented attack on the poorest and the weakest and their children.


I know you spend time in your constituency office, Speaker, and I know these people have been in talking to you, and they're not just angry and they don't just feel betrayed, but they're afraid. I know you know it. These people have had their futures stolen from them by a government that doesn't give a tinker's dam about working women and men, about the weak, about the sick, about the aged and the seniors.

I know there were people who criticized this government for being ideological. I have no quarrel with being ideological, because I'm inclined to be somewhat ideological myself. But there is something wrong with being dishonest, and if the Tory agenda is an ideology of Bay Street they should say it. Indeed, this government is so deep in the back pockets of Bay Street that it's spitting out lint. That's an old one, but it was true before and it's true now.

I understand that not everybody in Welland-Thorold voted for me. I know that. There are some people in Welland-Thorold that I don't want to vote for me, because I have no intention of representing the interests of the powerful corporations, none whatsoever. I recognize that the interests of a shop floor worker are far different from the interests of the owners of that factory.

Mr Gilles Pouliot (Lake Nipigon): Plus there are more, so it's more votes.

Mr Kormos: Yes, and my community is a community of working people. Welland and Thorold are hard-working people, most of them immigrants, most of them coming to the communities of Welland and Thorold to work in the steel plants and the pipe plants and in the paper mills of Thorold, and they're creative people, far more creative than this government has been in its somewhat unimaginative, to say the least, and most especially uncreative -- because it isn't a throne speech about creation, it isn't a throne speech about vision. It's a throne speech about abandonment and an attack, and it's a throne speech about payola, grease, kickbacks, for the wealthiest and the big corporations.

Mr Chris Stockwell (Etobicoke West): Oh, you're so deep in the unions' pocket we call that an enema.

Mr Kormos: I have no quarrel --

The Acting Speaker (Mr Gilles E. Morin): The member for Etobicoke West, you're not in your seat.

Mr Kormos: Speaker, Mr Stockwell will never be in his seat even when he's sitting in his seat. Mr Stockwell has no seat. Haven't you been listening to the Premier and reading the news reports? But that's okay, because I've been there, done that. The only thing left -- and I do have some photographers at the Sun with whom I have close contact; we could always introduce Stockwell to one of them. But he's nowhere near as eligible as I am.

Let me say this, because this brings to mind an important point: This government, because of its size, because of its enormity -- there are no two ways about it; this government is so large in numbers that they're sitting on the opposition side. This is sort of the gulag, the Tory gulag. If you're not in the mainstream, if you're not circled around the Premier and his yes-men -- and trust me, in this government it's yes-men only --

Mr Mike Colle (Oakwood): And yes-women too.

Mr Kormos: Not a whole lot -- then you're on the fringe, you're marginalized.

Over the course of several years now, I have learned a few things here. One of the things I've learned is that if the voters don't like anything, they surely don't like seeing their parliamentarians, their politicians, their representatives, in this assembly or the federal assembly, standing there, sitting there, performing like trained seals, singing from the hymn-book as required, reading the scripted speeches, most of them not very good to begin with, prepared by ministries, asking those oh-so-stupid questions that you ask when you're a government backbencher and the ministry writes you a question. Sometimes, just for fun, they should reverse the process, you know -- remember Kreskin? -- do the answer, because that's printed on their sheet too, and let the minister pose the question.

I'm going to say something to some of the backbenchers here. Sycophancy has got more than a toehold in this government in the three short months since it's come into power. I'm going to say this: Niagara region has high expectations from all of its six representatives in this Legislature. Niagara region dearly needs jobs. Notwithstanding my own personal views about the effectiveness of casinos and their impact on communities, the Niagara region is prepared to accept into the community of Niagara Falls a casino and the hundreds, indeed thousands of jobs that would create in short order, and because of the efforts of CAW down in Windsor, now good-paying jobs.

I prevail upon the government backbenchers to not just be trained seals, to be more than just a choir or a chorus, to indeed speak up, stand up, speak out. And if that means speaking out against stupid policies that come from the Premier's office, stand up and speak out against them, because your constituents will recognize you and respect you all the more for it. That's the challenge.

I'm afraid that this chorus, though, this choir, is going to read from that blue book until every institution that we hold dear in this province is stolen from us, and they will have left behind them a wake of destruction -- no creation, no institutions, no creativity, no vision. That's my fear.

Mr Toby Barrett (Norfolk): It's an honour to be standing here today representing the riding of Norfolk. I was born and raised on our family farm north of Port Dover on Lake Erie, and my family has a history in the area going back 200 years. I feel I've gained an appreciation for the hard work of many generations that has built proud communities throughout Norfolk.

The riding of Norfolk is home to 77,000 people. It extends from Lake Erie, in fact from the international boundary, north to Brant county, west to Elgin and Oxford and east to Haldimand. Agriculture remains an extremely important sector of the economy and has been balanced recently with growth in manufacturing and heavy industry.

I wish to recognize the previous work done for the riding of Norfolk by MPP Norman Jamison and MPP Gordon Miller. I continue to work with Mr Jamison, and just recently, last night actually, was speaking with Mr Miller. Before Mr Miller, James N. Allan represented our riding for 24 years and was Treasurer of Ontario. In the 1920s our riding was represented by John S. Martin, at the time Minister of Agriculture.

Before I delve into the political landscape I would like to address the voters of Norfolk to extend a very special thank you to many people in the riding who supported my campaign and provided me with guidance on so many issues.

This throne speech is about change. It truly is time for fresh horses. It's time for positive change to restore confidence in this province and prepare Ontarians to lead Canada into the 21st century. However, we cannot lead the change without a massive restructuring in our government and our finances.


My riding of Norfolk is in the grip of a political revolution. A new brand of populism has taken hold that rejects the notion that voters can be bribed with their own money. It used to be, and George Bernard Shaw said this, that a government that robs Peter to pay Paul can certainly depend on the support of Paul. Peter knows the money's run out and even Paul realizes the easy money days are over. We have a problem in Ontario. It's called the debt. It's approaching $100 billion. In the past 10 years, our debt has almost tripled. Add to this the Ontario Hydro debt and the unfunded liability of the Workers' Compensation Board.

We need a wakeup call in Ontario. We have the worst annual deficit in Canada compared to the size of our economy, projected to reach $10.6 billion this year if left unchecked.

This year we will pay out almost $9 billion in interest cost, a figure that has more than doubled in the last five years. More than 18 cents of every dollar in revenue now goes to pay off this interest. What that means to the average taxpayer in Ontario: The person is handing over almost $800 every year from his or her pocket to pay the interest on past government deficits. How long can we afford this? The answer is, we can't afford this kind of spending, and we never could. Ontario government spending has doubled in the last 10 years.

Ontario is among the highest-taxed jurisdictions in North America and there have been 65 tax increases in the past decade. I ask you to picture yourself in a speeding car. We're about to hit the death-and-tax wall. We have no seatbelts, no air bags, no anti-lock brakes. Take a look in the back seat. Your children are riding with you.

We have a financial problem in Ontario. We have a taxation problem, a borrowing problem and a spending problem, but the money has run out. The fiscal tooth fairy is dead, and so's the fairy godmother.

Our provincial and federal politicians and bureaucrats, in my view, have behaved very similar to drug addicts. I would call them tax-and-spend addicts. They are addicted to taxing and borrowing and spending. Through my previous work, I know a bit about addiction. We must seek new ways to kick the habit. There ought to be a law against it, and taxpayers need statutory protection from this type of behaviour.

You know, taxes don't work if they're not collected. You don't have to live in Delhi or Tillsonburg, down in tobacco country, to know about the tobacco tax revolt and the problem with smuggling and the underground production and sale of cigarettes. Smokers won their battle against the taxman, at least for now. These are honest, hardworking people who simply want to enjoy some of life's pleasures without government breathing down their neck and reaching into their pockets.

I've been knocking on doors since January 6 of this year in towns like Selkirk and Simcoe and Port Dover and Port Rowan. People want jobs, not tax-and-spend binges. People don't need more reasons to join the underground economy.

We now have a government with the courage to say no. We will reform government. We will follow the example of Ralph Klein, Roy Romanow in Saskatchewan, Frank McKenna and other premiers who have cut government taxing and spending. When we lower provincial income tax rates by 30% over the next three years, the average family in my riding, earning on average $48,000 a year, will save $4,000. That's $4,000 that stays within the family and within the community, not for a politician or some bureaucrat to spend here at Queen's Park.

Here's a list of what people in my riding want: First of all, major change; secondly, smaller government, less spending, lower taxes, a balanced budget and jobs. This list is a clear message. People want government off their back and out of their pocket.

This speech from the throne is about hope, prosperity and jobs. The best way to bring jobs back to Norfolk is through farming, small business and industry. Tobacco and traditional agriculture need nurturing. We must get all aspects of agriculture back on track.

When my grandfather, Toby Barrett, gave his maiden speech to the House of Commons after the war, millions were starving in Europe, and yet, other than the tobacco area, much of Norfolk's rich farm land lay idle. Today millions are starving around the world and, again, much of the rich agricultural riding of Norfolk is being underutilized and priced out of world markets.

Norfolk agriculture derives from two different soil types: sand in the west and clay in the east. Each produces different crops and, by nature, very different concerns. Tobacco, grown on sand, often the target of many anti-smoking, anti-tobacco-farmer, special-interest groups, has contributed greatly to the prosperity of my riding. The tobacco industry has a farm-gate value of $300 million a year and provides 50,000 jobs for high school students, other local residents, migrant workers and others across the industry.

Each year, tobacco, apple, fruit and vegetable growers depend on offshore labour in our riding. Farmers have a great deal of respect for these workers and a deep faith in their ability and diligence to accomplish this kind of work. The need to preserve labour-intensive agriculture industry in my riding is critical for its social and economic vibrancy.

Ontario has a short growing season. Any unionization of farm labour in whatever sector of agriculture will send production and labour costs soaring, with increased threats of slowdowns and work-to-rule. For this reason, Bill 91 must be scrapped at the same time as Bill 40. In my riding, unionizing the family farm makes about as much sense as gun control.

To the east, my riding comprises beef, dairy, cash crop corn, soybeans and winter wheat. Also in the east is heavy industry. For example, Esso and Stelco have large operations at Nanticoke and must be given the opportunity to invest their dollars free from government intrusiveness.

Port Dover, my home town, is a proud commercial fishing port and a tourist town. Fisheries and fish tugs have existed in this region for generations. This industry, however, is experiencing hard times as it struggles to cope with smaller government quotas every year. With the cooperation of all players -- fishermen, fish packers, anglers, environmental groups and the Ministry of Natural Resources -- the Lake Erie fisheries can be maintained. The fishermen have demonstrated a genuine concern for the future biological condition of the lake. They now want their turn to bring that concern into action by participating in a recovery plan for the lake.

Our government is committed to improving the safety of our communities. We've got a system now that puts the rights of criminals ahead of the rights of victims and their families. A Victims' Bill of Rights is long overdue.

Opposition to gun control has been a predominant issue in my riding -- an issue, in my view, of government intrusiveness. As legal users of firearms, farmers in my riding of Norfolk have a respect for the power of these tools and a deep understanding of the need to maintain their guns in the safest of conditions. Guns are not the cause of crime. We cannot treat gun owners as criminals. Criminal activity is not coming from hunters, collectors, recreational shooters and certainly not from farmers.

We are overgoverned. We suffer duplication and even triplication of services in this province. We need a re-engineering of government, all levels of government, and the manner in which services are delivered to people. The last 10 years -- the lost decade -- have been a miserable experiment in liberal socialism based on the idea that we can tax and spend our way to prosperity.

Under both the NDP and the Liberals, Ontarians were subjected to 65 new or increased taxes. Businesses were thus given 65 reasons not to invest in this province. People were given 65 reasons not to pay taxes or to live on tax-free welfare.

For 10 years, Ontarians were sent a very clear message: Your money belongs to the government and the government knows how to spend it better than you do. Our government has created a new roadmap for Ontario, one that does not wander through the forest of special-interest groups, especially special-interest groups financed by taxpayers' dollars, but one that takes the commonsense road to social and economic prosperity.

I'm committed to fulfilling my promises to the people of Norfolk, promises that were clearly reflected in this session's speech from the throne. We -- that is, my constituents and I, along with my colleagues in the Legislature -- must now make the tough decisions we were elected to make so that we can enjoy the benefits of those decisions with our children.

If we are truly to get Ontario open for business again, and we will, people have told me the first thing they need is for government to get off their backs and out of their pockets.


Mr John Gerretsen (Kingston and The Islands): Mr Speaker, I'd like to congratulate you on your elevation to the Speaker's job that you've taken on today. Hopefully, you'll be in the chair for many years to come.

I would first of all like to take this opportunity to thank the people of Kingston and The Islands for their trust and confidence that they have shown in me in representing such a historic riding, particularly in the time of this onrushing Tory tide that we saw on June 8.

Kingston is one of the oldest European establishments in North America. Indeed, it's the oldest in Ontario. It was first settled back in 1673, when the Comte de Frontenac established a fort at the mouth of the St Lawrence River to protect French fur traders. After the American Revolution, many Loyalists settled in the Kingston area, and location again was very significant. Kingston was a border town and a base for protecting Canada, threatened by American invasion from time to time.

Mrs Marion Boyd (London Centre): Oh, like now.

Mr Gerretsen: In a different way, yes. As a result, Fort Henry was built in the early 19th century. Of course, now it's one of the major tourist attractions that attracts people from all over the world, especially Americans that we love to see there because it's good for our business.

By the mid-1800s, Kingston controlled water traffic on the Great Lakes and was a shipbuilding and commercial centre. In the 1840s, indeed, Kingston became the capital of Upper Canada for three years, and the first Parliament met at the Kingston General Hospital. Kingston indeed entered its golden age with the construction of many of its limestone public buildings and private residences.

As a matter of fact, Kingston was the leader in the heritage preservation movement within this province. Back in 1975, the Ontario Heritage Act was one of the very few acts ever proclaimed outside of this House, and it was done at our historic city hall in Kingston by the then Lieutenant Governor, Pauline McGibbon.

Over 350 designated buildings of historical and architectural significance are within the city of Kingston. There are also two heritage districts within my riding. One of them is the market square, which is located immediately behind our city hall; the other is the village of Barriefield, which is across the Cataraqui River in Pittsburgh township, in that part of the township which is indeed part of my riding. Pittsburgh township, of course, also contains CFB Kingston, which is a major employer in the Kingston area.

The riding also includes three islands: Wolfe Island, which is the largest island of the Thousand Islands, with a permanent resident population of something like 1,300 people, and also Howe Island and Amherst Island, which are located in Lennox and Addington county.

Today, the population of the greater Kingston area is over 130,000 people. Its people are a mix of ethnic cultures, languages, religions, as well as its United Empire roots.

The riding boasts two great universities: the world-renowned Queen's University, and of course Canada's first and now only military academy, the Royal Military College of Canada. We also have an outstanding community college in St Lawrence College.

One of the province's five medical health sciences complexes is located in Kingston, and it's a combination of Queen's, Kingston General Hospital, St Mary's of the Lake Hospital and the Hotel Dieu Hospital. Through their joint efforts, they have established, as the leader of the third party talked about yesterday, the extremely successful alternative funding plan to control health care costs in a cost-effective and businesslike way. It's been a great success and indeed it has been studied elsewhere in Canada and elsewhere in the world.

I would like to pay tribute to the former members who represented Kingston during the time I've lived there over the last 40 years, starting off with Billy Nickle back in the 1950s -- he indeed was the minister of planning -- followed by Syl Apps, a well-known hockey star and also the minister of corrections back in the 1960s; a good friend and old colleague of my city council days, Keith Norton, who served here both as Minister of Community and Social Services and Minister of the Environment. Indeed, my mentor, Ken Keyes, was a member of this House back in the 1980s. He was minister of corrections and also Solicitor General. Also, my immediate predecessor, Gary Wilson, who belonged to the party of the third part, who indeed was and still is a classy individual and someone I regard as a friend.

I was involved in local politics for over 16 years as a councillor, and indeed as the longest-serving mayor of the city of Kingston for some eight years. The guiding principle that I always believed in is that government at all levels should be based on the principle of fairness, fairness to all of its citizens, rich or poor, young or old, employed or unemployed. Fairness, compassion and understanding indeed have been the hallmarks of governments in Ontario over the last 50 years, whether we're talking about Bill Davis's years, David Peterson's years or indeed Bob Rae's years.

We should never lose our sense of fairness, equity and compassion to all Ontarians, and that's where this government and this throne speech fail utterly and completely. Only collectively can we build a true and just community which is fair and compassionate to all. It is the actions of a good government that create an identity as a society and as a province through the expression of our shared values.

I don't want to be totally critical. I applaud the government's efforts to cut red tape, to speed up the approval process and to let people know where they stand. And we certainly know where we stand with this government.

I agree that the governments of the past three political stripes have failed in the concept, that they abandoned the responsibility, of building for our children by the practice of borrowing against ours and our children's future. Something must be done.

We live in an ever-changing world with new and difficult challenges, but the arbitrary slash-and-burn philosophy without regard for its effects, as many of its most vulnerable citizens depend on the commitment of government to share in our wellbeing, erodes the moral base of political authority.

Let me give you just a couple of examples that perhaps the government, the members in this House and indeed the general public out there may wish to contemplate.

I ask you, is it fair to fight the deficit reduction battle on the backs of the most vulnerable in our society?

Is it fair to cut the benefits of 41,000 seniors and disabled individuals who are on general welfare assistance when the government promised not to?

Is it fair to cut the benefits of over half a million people by 21.6% when Comsoc's own data indicate that the government's goal could have been easily achieved with a 15% reduction?

Is it fair to claw back earnings before welfare recipients manage to reach their old income levels, contrary to every promise made by this government both during and after the election campaign?

Is it fair to all of us in society, both citizens and offenders, to close halfway houses and thereby in effect cancel any rehabilitation efforts that criminologists say reduce recidivism, and instead keep them in jail, which is much more expensive? I'll tell you, in Kingston we know about jails. We've got seven of the institutions there.

Is it fair for the Premier to tell municipalities that the province wants to be in full partnership with them at a recent AMO conference the day after the Minister of Municipal Affairs and Housing announces a 20% reduction in transfer payments to municipalities? Is that what you call partnership?

By that action, is it fair to force municipalities to either abandon or slash necessary programs or force them to increase property taxes, which is a much more regressive tax system than the income tax system?

Is it fair to cut those most in need ever deeper and harsher so that the government can cover a generous tax break which will primarily benefit the well-to-do?



Mr Gerretsen: Look, I wrote my own speech. I'm not sure about you guys.

Mr Stockwell: Hey, you don't have to tell us that.

Mr Gerretsen: Is it fair to tell those on welfare to get a job, preferably by the weekend --


The Acting Speaker: Order, the member for Etobicoke West.

Mr Gerretsen: -- when there are already more than a half million Ontarians unemployed and looking for work?

Is it fair to refuse to take action in setting up a public inquiry with respect to the unconscionable bonuses and commissions paid out of the public purse to three senior OHA executives?

Is it fair to cut off day care subsidies, especially for those individuals who are trying to upgrade their skills so that they can better compete in the tough job market?

Is it fair to promise social assistance recipients hope and opportunities and instead hit them with cuts and punish them with hardship?

Is it fair for the Minister of Education to threaten to invent a crisis in order to manipulate public opinion? Is that the way this government intends to govern? Let us never confuse popularity with fairness. It may be popular, but it doesn't make it right.

I simply make a plea to this government: Don't try to Americanize our society and create a greater gulf between the haves and the have-nots.

I too share with you your vision to achieve a balanced budget in the province, but let us make sure that all Ontarians share in the pain and sacrifice to achieve this and not just those who are the most vulnerable.

Contrary to the apparent belief of the Common Sense Revolutionaries who are now in power, people are not oppressed by government. Government should be there to assist society in achieving our collective goals, which in turn will enhance the individual liberty and opportunity of each and every one of us in Ontario.

Le Président suppléant : Monsieur le député du Lac-Nipigon.

M. Pouliot : Je vous remercie, Monsieur le Président. Vous allez bien sûr me permettre au début de vous féliciter pour votre réélection comme vice-président de la Chambre. On avait appris, au fil des cinq dernières années, de travailler avec vous. Vous nous avez prouvé, avec votre grâce, que vous êtes un arbitre sans pareil. Donc, avec toute la sincérité que je puisse commander, je crois aussi au nom de mes collègues, j'ajoute aux félicitations que vous avez déjà reçues de tous les membres de la Chambre.

The people of Lake Nipigon, with respect, exercised their franchise on June 8, like those of 129 other ridings in our privileged and blessed jurisdiction, and I want to thank them simply and sincerely.

We do represent a special part in the province of Ontario in a broadly summarized form. Our great riding is nestled in the Canadian Shield between the pristine waters of Lake Nipigon and Lake Superior, the largest of the Great Lakes, and all the way to Hudson Bay. Simply put, it's the province of Nova Scotia, add to it that of Prince Edward Island and of course New Brunswick, and multiply by two: 114,000 square miles, one riding -- underpopulated naturally -- 26% of the overall land mass in the province of Ontario.

I hesitate to think how big the riding of Lake Nipigon shall become if that man there, the Premier of the province, goes through and reduces the number of representation from 130 to 99. When I go back home on a clear day I'll be able to see the earth's curvature. These people are insatiable. They are.

Mr Stockwell: Just think: You might get 7000 votes.

Mr Pouliot: In power with 70% of the overall favour of the populace, Mr Stockwell, with respect, is indeed very welcome.

June 8, after more than a year and a half on this side of the House -- and I know. I started on this side of the House, went there, back, and back here, and I can assure you, with the highest respect for people in our democracy, the worst day where you're sitting is a lot better, sir, than the best day where I'm sitting. The people have decided that I can no longer satisfy my need in terms of vanity and egocentricity, so I have been given an opportunity for humility. But it's not becoming. I don't like it.

By reason of a document, a manifesto, écrit à la hâte -- well, no database. As long as it sells, we're not going to be too concerned about details, meticulous whether it adds or not, as long as it works. So we press the right button. What is it you want to hear? You want to hear about so-and-so, with three children on welfare? Ah, I will, I will. Let me calculate. I don't want you to do too much thinking.

Those people are vulnerable, so you press that button and you say, "Vote for me, I sell the best snake oil," and then you go on and on and you begin to lose homogeneity. You begin to distinguish the haves from the have-nots.

Those people, we wish them well. They've worked very hard, they've positioned well and they've been successful. We would like everyone to be rich, but it's not so. Those people who cannot afford to be without a social conscience -- the more you have, the more you give. We understand that it costs money and that we have to put the brakes on. No one will deny it. What you have here is a restructuring revolution: the end of an era, the beginning of a new one. But the transition --


Mr Pouliot: In your wisdom, because you have promised that you will do something -- and I think you should, because credibility among politicians is not a forte. People have lost faith to a large extent, and I think you should attempt to do what you said you would. By the same token, there is nothing wrong, in light of new arguments, maybe to take a little longer as you're heading in the right direction, to balance the books, because mathematically, beyond the philosophy -- and events will supersede philosophy -- it's not a killer if you can't. You've done the best you can without dislocating the system.

You know, keep equality in mind. There are people you cannot dislocate; they have nowhere else to go. You haven't played too many games up to now, in my humble opinion, and you're to be commended. But if you say, "We're not going to impact the health system; we will keep spending the $17.2 billion or $17.4 billion" -- well, you will impact it. Why don't you say it? Simply because every month in the province of Ontario, 10,000 citizens go from being 64 to 65 -- that's 120,000 a year -- and they enter the wheel, they become part of the system, and if you have the same money, well, you need not emanate from Harvard to understand that there's not enough money for the new clientele. Those are the demographics that you will have to deal with.

I don't subscribe -- it's not the way I was raised, and without pretence of having had a more difficult childhood than anyone else, it's just that early in life I chose not to adhere to these philosophies. It doesn't mean I'm right, for I've been wrong so often, but surely when all is said and done -- life is short and political life is shorter -- as one of my colleagues has mentioned, maybe a bit à la proverbiale, we're as rich as the poorest one among us. That has been said quite often, and sometimes it tends to lose its effervescence.


Simplement, les gens que nous représentons -- et je vais vous dire franchement, ce qui me fait peur dans l'agenda des conservateurs c'est la hâte, la vitesse, et que ceux qui sont les plus démunis, les plus petits, ceux qui en ont moins, ceux qui n'ont pas de voix, les silencieux, parce qu'avec ces gens, vous savez, on parle peu. Quand on n'a pas d'argent on écoute. Quand on a quelques deniers publics, avec ces gens, vous savez, on perd toujours. Ce sont les pauvres, les démunis. Pourquoi ne pas leur donner une chance d'être un peu comme tout le monde ? En latin c'est «equilibrium», l'équilibre, the balance, not too far to the left, not too far to the right.

I want to thank my new colleagues. We'll have to spend more time together over the next four years. What I will not miss, Mr Speaker -- there's only you and I, and I wish to tell you this -- I will not miss the Conservatives who were sitting here when I had the privilege to have four ministries and they used to come into my office about every second week, because they realized all politics are local, and said to me, "Minister, spend, spend, spend." If it hadn't been for the election they would have had me in the poorhouse.

We'll have an opportunity in the future with my colleagues. Je vous remercie. Bonne journée.

Hon Chris Hodgson (Minister of Natural Resources, Northern Development and Mines): It's a great honour to be invited to take part in the throne speech. I want to start off by thanking people from Victoria-Haliburton for giving me this honour to represent them again in this Legislature. I would just like to say that the people of Victoria-Haliburton, the economy of which is mainly made up of farmers, tourism operators, manufacturers, hardworking people, share the same desires as other people across Ontario.

This summer, as Minister of Natural Resources, Northern Development and Mines, I had the pleasure of travelling across this great province. The people I met in town hall meetings from Thunder Bay to Geraldton to Moose Factory all shared what residents of my riding were saying during the last year and a half that I've been in public life; that is, they desire a more prosperous Ontario, a restored climate for job creation, value for their taxes, safe communities, a sound health care system, and that all Ontarians have a fair and equal chance at opportunity and progress.

I think what happens is that we sometimes disagree about the means to achieve that end, and that's what elections are for. In this last election we were presented with a clear choice on how to achieve these ends. The people in my riding as well as the majority in Ontario chose a new path, and the path they chose requires major change. I just want to tell you a little bit about where that major change originated from.

I had the honour of sitting across the way for the last year. We travelled as a caucus around Ontario to small town hall meetings, to community functions, to little groups of just five or six interested citizens, to huge audiences, but we asked for input from people from all walks of life. Their ideas were gathered together by our caucus and by our party people. We put it together into a platform and we called it the Common Sense Revolution. It's a complete change in the direction we have been heading as a province.

We outlined in that package clear choices from the way we had been going, and the people could decide. The people gave us a mandate on June 8 to implement that document. That's why I'm so pleased to be debating this throne speech, because it follows so closely the mandate that was given to us by the people of Ontario.

I just want to share a few personal observations on why people would want to have a major change from the way we've been going. One relates back to, as we've heard in this chamber, the debt. Let me tell you that the people of Ontario are ahead of the politicians of all parties. They recognize that their standard of living has been dropping for a generation, and it's not just the previous government. It's the first time I've ever heard the member for Lake Nipigon suggest that the overspending was created by the third party during the last government, but I can assure you it wasn't.

Working people's standard of living has fallen. It's beyond just Ontario's economy, but it's indicative of what's happened. In the 1970s, we had approaches that said that if we kept on spending we'd have growth and we'd have a balanced economy and this would create the opportunity and the jobs. It didn't. What we got was inflation.

Inflation was fine as long as we could export it. By the end of the 1980s, the end of the Cold War, we could no longer export inflation, so what we've had is growing debt. In the 1970s what would happen is, if a government wanted to raise money, it could devalue the currency, keep on the spending program, say yes to every whim or want. And those savings bonds: The senior citizens who worked all their lives and put the money in the bank would get 10% from the government, you'd have 10% inflation, and then the government would tax you at -- you were losing money by investing in your country.

Now we don't have inflation. In the 1990s -- and I think the former NDP government got caught with this -- you can't have inflation because you can't export it, and what's happened is our currency's devalued, the standard of living, the purchasing power of hardworking people has declined, and they want major change. They want it so they can bring back hope and opportunity to their lives but also their children's lives.

The platform we've laid out, which came from the people right across Ontario, calls for a new way, a way of getting fiscal control of our government spending and also giving back or reducing the tax burden. Sixty per cent of our economy is consumer-driven, and if consumers, working people, have no money in their pockets, it's pretty hard to stimulate an economy.

What our platform, which we got the mandate to implement, calls for is a balanced budget by the year 2000-01, and that calls for significant reductions in spending. We've prioritized where this spending reduction is to occur, and the throne speech outlines that commitment. That's why I'm so pleased. One of the major complaints that you'd hear when you were knocking door to door during the campaign was that all politicians were the same, that this was just a campaign promise, that this was just another Agenda for People, that it wouldn't be completed.

I'm proud to say that we're following through on our commitments and our promises. When it comes to some specific promises in northern Ontario, which were outlined in our Northern Focus and also in our rural report, some of these promises have already taken place.

One was the grandfathering of FACs, the firearms acquisition certificates, which was a major concern to people in the north and in rural Ontario who were forced to go and take an additional course, spend extra dollars to replace maybe a worn-out shotgun for predator control in farming country or a rifle for moose or deer hunting. As of this week they can avoid that duplication. That was one of our commitments.

Mr Gilles Bisson (Cochrane South): Until when?

Hon Mr Hodgson: It runs from now until December 31, 1995, because the federal legislation, Bill C-68, if it's passed, makes that impossible. I went to the Senate a week ago with my colleague the Solicitor General, and also the Minister of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs, to appeal Bill C-68, that it misses the point. I think that was mentioned by my colleague earlier in his speech.

I'm pleased to say that promise and that commitment is being fulfilled and done.

The other commitment we've made is to give northerners a greater say in policies which affect them. To that extent, I've invited all the members from northern Ontario, both provincial and federal, to have a meeting on November 30 to try to set a framework, to try to get their input on how we can make government work better for the people in northern Ontario.

Mr Len Wood (Cochrane North): Have you invited your Conservative caucus?

Hon Mr Hodgson: The Conservative caucus will be there, the northern caucus. The Premier and the Treasurer will be there as well. I am pleased to say that this is one more commitment we're trying to fulfil. In a non-partisan way we're trying to make government work better for what's clearly a unique region of the province, and we want to build upon those successes.


What we're trying to do is benefit all the people of Ontario, and I'm proud that we're meeting our commitments and our promises. The electorate sent us a historic message on June 8 that the status quo was unacceptable and needed to be changed, and we're in the process of delivering on that mandate. We're making fundamental changes because it would be irresponsible not to. The debt in this province is reaching $100 billion. The interest on that debt is $9 billion. Each year, with compounding interest, it becomes harder and harder to maintain the social safety net in this province.

This isn't the 1960s, when we believed that government can solve all the problems for everyone, and it's not the 1980s, when a generation believed that government was the problem. This is the 1990s, where we recognize that there is a role for government but it's limited, and it must live within its means if it's to be sustainable.

The greatest threat to our standard of living, to our social safety net, to government's role to help those who truly cannot help themselves is this multiplying effect of interest on the debt. It's squeezing our ability as a society to help those in true need.

We're making these changes because it would be irresponsible not to. The government has to stop telling citizens how to live their lives. They must be given more responsibility for their own futures. I'm looking forward to implementing this throne speech.

Mr Pat Hoy (Essex-Kent): Mr Speaker, it's a great honour for me to stand before you today in this throne speech debate. In fact, this is my first speech in the House and I confess that I feel some awe, standing in this chamber where so many famous and honourable members have stood before.

I would like to pay tribute to the former member for Essex-Kent, who represented my riding with ability, compassion and humility from 1977 to 1990. I respect and admire Jim McGuigan and I continue to value his guidance. I am privileged to follow in his footsteps.

Before I begin, may I congratulate my colleagues in the House from all parties who have been elected to serve in the 36th Parliament.

The first priority of my maiden speech is to express my earnest appreciation to the voters of Essex-Kent who have given me their sacred trust. I don't use the words "sacred trust" lightly. I use them deliberately because I believe that the voters of Ontario are feeling cynical and betrayed, cynical because they no longer believe the promises made to them by politicians at election time and betrayed because some of our most sacred trusts -- health care, education and, in my riding, agriculture -- are being threatened and slashed by the government that promised them absolute protection.

This government promised jobs and a brighter future for Ontarians. Conspicuously absent from the throne speech is this affirmation of the Tory job plan, nor is there any mention of their election promise not to introduce any new health care user fees. The government now refuses to make a commitment to those 752,000 jobs or to honour its vow to protect health care, education or agriculture. This is surely a breach of trust by the government, a breach of the sacred trust which all of us accept along with the mantle of office. Yet still I believe that I have been called to a noble task: to serve the people of my riding with honesty and decency and to justify their faith and their confidence in me.

Almost two years ago, with the support of my wife, Debbie, and the rest of my family, I made a crucial yet very natural decision: to seek the provincial seat of Essex-Kent. It was a crucial decision because I realized the hard work, dedication and commitment a member must give to public office and to his constituency that he serves. Yet it was a very natural decision because I care so very deeply about preserving Ontario's rich heritage for my family and future generations of Ontario.

Over the past two years I had the opportunity to meet with an incredible number of my future constituents, and I've learned that in rural ridings like mine there is a strong common bond among us, a sense of honour and pride in the concerns, values and beliefs of rural and small-town Ontario. It is a good feeling to know that the values which helped to weave the social fabric of Ontario for generations are alive and well in Kent county and Essex county. So I believe it is noble to serve the people of Essex and Kent, whose values are so consistent with mine.

There are 22 municipalities which make up the great riding of Essex-Kent. It stretches from Ridgetown to the outskirts of Windsor. It is a very large riding which depends primarily on agriculture and manufacturing for its sustenance. Some 85% of my constituents were born in Ontario and are respectable people of average means, 59% with family incomes under $50,000 per year. These are rural and small-town, middle-class Ontarians who did not vote for higher unemployment, higher property taxes, health care user fees and eroded classroom services, yet that is exactly what they get with this throne speech. Many of my constituents who need and want jobs are suffering because Mike Harris has not fulfilled his promise to help get people back into the workforce.

I myself fit the demographic profile of Essex-Kent. I am a rural, middle-class Ontarian born in my riding. I've been a farmer all my life, and I'm proud of that fact. My brother is operating the farm alone now so that I can pursue this profession full-time.

I was delighted to be asked by my leader to serve as the agricultural co-critic for the Liberal caucus because I know that I can be a strong voice for Ontario agriculture. I'm grateful to be entrusted with the responsibility for Ontario's second-largest industry. As a long-time farmer and businessman, I understand agriculture and I know what the farming community needs to remain competitive in the face of continual low international commodity prices and new international trade agreements.

During the NDP mandate, Ontario's family farms were all but ignored. While the agricultural industries called for economic initiatives to protect and increase jobs, the $26-billion industry was hit by debilitating cuts by the NDP. Although overall government spending increased by more than 15% during the NDP mandate, agricultural spending was reduced by 14%, reducing its share of the provincial budget to less than 1% of all provincial spending. But the agrifood industry accounts for 5.8% of all of Ontario's gross domestic product.

When Mike Harris released his Revolution document, he promised farm communities that under a Conservative government agriculture would regain its fair share of government support. The Premier also promised that there would be no cuts to agriculture, not a single dime -- nickel. I want to quote him correctly; it was not a single nickel. That promise was repeated over and over during the campaign, yet the first agricultural initiative of the government was to axe the Niagara tender fruit lands program. This was followed by Finance Minister Eves's economic statement in July, which announced a $14-million expenditure cut for agriculture, a further betrayal by the government which promised not a single nickel would be cut. I don't know about your standards, but where I come from $14 million is a very big bag of nickels.

Over the past few weeks, Minister Villeneuve has been visiting farm communities across the province in a series of hastily contrived table talks. It appears that he is seeking validation and appropriation from the Niagara fruit sector to wield the Tory axe. In the words of the OFA president, Roger George, "No one respects fiscal responsibility more than farmers, but indiscriminate budget slashing coupled with current regulatory impediments to innovative economic strategy will freeze agricultural growth. If this government stalls agriculture it will stall the entire Ontario economy."


I intend to work with all of the farm groups in Ontario to force the government to honour its commitments to protect the 608,000 people employed by the agrifood industry. Agriculture is a major source of jobs in today's economy. Mr Premier, keep your promise to agriculture.

As I said, Essex-Kent is a primary agricultural area, but we also have a fair base of light industry across the riding which provides employment and contributes to our local economy. As in other parts of the province, we have been hit hard by the prolonged economic slowdown and high unemployment. Instead of the help promised by Mike Harris through the development of a major government job creation program, the slash-and-burn policies of the Tories are putting thousands of people out of work across Ontario, many of them in my riding.

Ontario has seen zero job growth since Mike Harris took office. In fact, a major initiative which would benefit many people in my riding, the Chatham ethanol plant of Commercial Alcohols Inc, may be in jeopardy if Premier Harris reneges on the funding commitment of the previous government. This project, which is scheduled to be operational by 1996, would provide 90 direct jobs near my riding plus another 400 indirect jobs in related agribusinesses in and around Essex-Kent, not to mention another 1,100 person-years of construction.

I'm sure that I don't need to say how important the ethanol alternative is to the farmer, to the rural community and to the environment. It opens up a new market for corn growers and is a responsible direction to take in renewable energy resources. The Tories supported this plant during the election and now they alone will decide the fate. I hope they weren't just posturing during the campaign and I hope they carry through on their support for ethanol.

As you consider your budget cuts, Premier, I want you to know that municipalities, hospitals, schools and community agencies in my riding have been experiencing fiscal responsibility and restructuring their services to cost, long before it became the vogue here at Queen's Park. They were deeply concerned about local policing issues, the serious medical underservicing of rural communities in my riding, the shortage of jobs for young people and the need for local-based training initiatives.

The voters of Essex-Kent have entrusted me with the responsibility of representing them at Queen's Park. On their behalf I cannot support the betrayal and broken promises which this throne speech offers.

M. Bisson : Monsieur le Président, j'aimerais premièrement vous féliciter pour votre situation comme notre président dans la Chambre aujourd'hui. Je suis sûr que, même si c'est votre première occasion comme membre de siéger avec nous, les collègues dans cette Assemblée, vous allez sans doute faire un ouvrage qui est sans exemplaire faisant affaire avec vos prédécesseurs.

I would say to the people here in the chamber, and I guess people watching more importantly, because those are who we're here to represent, that all of us in this chamber, both opposition members and I think government members, agree on a couple of things. We all agree on the general direction the government must go in order to be able to, at the end, provide services to the people we represent in the most cost-efficient way. I don't think anybody argues that.

I think all of us have had an opportunity, being in government over the last 10 years, to really learn to understand what that means in very practical terms. I can tell you, being elected as a member for the first time to this chamber in 1990, some of the impressions I had about government and where the money comes from to pay for programs were much changed because of my experience of being in government for five years. I recognize that at the end of the day, if we're going to provide for each other in this province, we have to have a tax base by which to provide those services so that government in the end can afford to pay for the services that we deliver.

I guess where I take exception to what's happening now in Ontario with the new Mike Harris government is the way in which we're going to get to that balance. Every government has a choice and I think every government has its unique way of doing things. Certainly we had ours. If it had been the Liberals who had won in 1990, I'm sure that the Liberals would have had a different opportunity, a different outlook on how the government does it.

Interjection: They would have done a better job.

Mr Bisson: I'm sure.

Mr Wildman: The Liberals ran on the Tory platform although not quite as tough.

Mr Bisson: That's right. But I guess where the problem lies is that the whole premise of how change is being created in order to be able to suit the means of this particular government -- I think the most telling thing that was said since the June 8 election was a cabinet leak on the part of Mr Snobelman --

Mr Colle: Snobelen.

Mr Bisson: Snobelen. Excuse me, I pronounced that incorrectly.

I think about a month, a month and a half ago, when he was quoted being on tape talking to his ministry colleagues within the ministry and the staff he has there and talking about having to create a crisis to justify the means to be able to effect the change, if he did anything wrong as a minister that he should be kicked out of cabinet, it wasn't because he said that but because he actually leaked cabinet secrecy.

Quite frankly, that's what this government is all about. They are trying to make the people of this province believe that the Ontario government and the Ontario treasury is in such crisis as to justify the drastic and draconian measures they are taking and applying their wrath to the people of this province.

The reality is -- and a couple of members alluded to it earlier -- Ontario's economy has gone through change, and certainly we've had our difficulties, starting with the Tory government before, the Liberals and ourselves, in regard to what's happened to the economy over the last 10 years, and government's had to effect that. But if we take a look at what the economy did over the last five years under the NDP government, the economy actually grew and we had the highest GDP growth of any of the G-7 nations for three years running in this province.

What ends up happening is that the measures that we were putting in place as government in order to be able to effect the change to balance the budget over the long term would have been a difficult one for even us to do, but in the end, I think, with the approach we have taken as a government, and if given the opportunity over another term, we would have been able to effect in a much different way.

I think what I really resent the most is the attitude that this government is taking towards the working poor of this province and those who are unfortunate enough to be unemployed, because what they're saying is what a number of other members in this chamber have said up to now, that if you're poor, if you're unemployed or you're less fortunate, that's your fault and the government has no responsibility to assist you with your plight.

If we learned anything during the 1930s -- and I'm too young to remember it because I wasn't there, but I've heard for years my father, my uncles and my grandfather and senior members of my community in the city of Timmins, Iroquois Falls and Matheson talk about how during the Depression it was really bad, because we did not have the support mechanisms in place in order to soften the impact of the recession of the 1930s, then called the Depression.

If we have been able to support ourselves in great measure during the recession of the 1970s, 1980s and again in the 1990s, it's in great part because of the social programs that governments before us, under the Conservatives, under the Liberals and under us provincially, and under two different governments in Ottawa -- we put those programs in place exactly for that reason. We understood as a Canadian society, we understood as an Ontario society, that not everybody within our society, given the same opportunity, will end up at the same place at the end of the day; that if you give everybody the same chance, because of all kinds of situations that occur in their lives, either because of a physical condition with themselves, because of possibly a psychological problem or they're not able to learn at the same speed as others, or just because of what happens in their daily lives, they may not end up at the same place at the end.

What I find very difficult to accept on the part of the Conservative government and some of the members here is this whole notion that just because you made it and you've been successful in business and you've been successful in your lives, you can't understand and fathom why nobody else can come to where you're at. Well, you have to understand not everybody has the same ability sometimes to get to where you ended up. A number of us in the House -- and I'm sure members of the Liberal caucus would agree with me, I'm sure the members of this caucus, and I believe some of the members of the Tory caucus understand that principle, that we put in place for each other, through our programs, through our social safety net, as we call it, the opportunity for people to at least have an opportunity to get to at least a bare minimum of standards and a bare minimum of respect as to how we see each other in this economy.


What's happening now is that this government is trying to create the impression that there is a great crisis in this province that is going to justify the changes it's going to impose over the next four years. Yes, you won the election, and I respect the will of the people of this province. I accept that people en masse elected 82 members of the Tory party that forms a majority caucus in this House, and I accept that you have the ability to make change. That is parliamentary democracy and we should never underestimate the voters of the province because, in the end, they're right. But don't think for a minute just because they elected you en masse you have a licence to change the entire fabric of what this society is about because they never gave you that.

One of the things that shocked me the most -- it was just as recently as last Friday. I do a local cable program every week in my community where people have an opportunity to call in and to ask questions of me, their provincial member. I did it when I was in government and answered many tough questions from my constituents about things that we did as a government, and I do it now. As a matter of fact, I invite Conservatives on my program, so you guys can defend yourselves.

But what scared me is, I was looking at a tape that was done by a camera crew that went out to ask a simple question in my riding on the corner of Cedar Street and Third Avenue. The question was simply this: How would you rate Mike Harris at this point? The answers were scary. That distresses me not only as a parliamentarian and as a New Democrat, it scares me because people out there are truly mad about what you're doing because they see the fabric of this society changing to the point that they may not recognize themselves when they look in the mirror of Ontario because the mirror will not reflect them, and people are livid.

If I only can implore of you one thing: Yes, effect change. You have licence to do that. But always remember as you're going through the process of changing the programs that serve the people of this province why those programs were put in place. They were put in place for one very simple reason, and that is to provide for those who need it, for all kinds of reasons.

I would only say in closing that I listened to the throne speech with a certain amount of anticipation, and I guess I can genuinely say I wasn't quite surprised. The only thing I will say to you at this point is that I accept that you will make some changes, and I'm sure on many issues we'll be able to agree.

Some of the things in your throne speech I can agree with. You froze Ontario Hydro rates, something that we did when we were in government and something that you will carry on, and I think you're right doing that. You want to eliminate a number of taxes in regard to corporations. I guess there is some merit to doing that.

I think it's a question you should find a better balance, but I implore you, you should be working with the people of this province along with other members in this House, including the opposition caucuses, to try to find a way to balance your change so that in the end the people who are less fortunate in this province are able to see themselves in the mirror of the society called Ontario.

Mr Bruce Smith (Middlesex): It's certainly a privilege to rise in the House for the first time as the elected representative for the riding of Middlesex. It's a position that I'm honoured to hold and I'm sure it'll be an experience that will be both rewarding and memorable.

I say that with a bit of jest, given that I have the good pleasure of sitting immediately to the right of the member for Welland-Thorold, and I understand from today as well that I'm sitting in the seat of my colleague from Etobicoke West. I'll leave that discretion to the members of the House to determine which is a good and a bad omen.

I'm pleased to have this opportunity to share with you some of my thoughts regarding the riding of Middlesex, its people, my predecessors to this position and, most importantly, to reaffirm my commitment to the principles outlined in the government throne speech.

The riding of Middlesex finds its strength in its people who reside in both the county of Middlesex and the city of London. The strength of our region is founded in the diversity of our industrial and agricultural sectors, access to quality educational facilities and world-class medical institutions. Located in the heart of southwestern Ontario, the London-Middlesex region provides a quality of life which is framed by historic urban and rural relationships and a strong sense of community-mindedness.

I'd be remiss not to recognize the contribution of members preceding me by acknowledging their commitment to the riding of Middlesex. Since 1985, time has brought change to Middlesex and change has taken a full circle and in many cases a difference of opinion. However, I do share in common with Irene Mathyssen, Doug Reycraft and Robert Eaton, all former members of this House, the desire to serve the residents of Middlesex well, with respect and to the best of my ability. Much like their contribution in this House, each of these individuals continues to be active and supportive of their respective communities and their interests.

There is, however, one additional name I would like to share with the House, and that is the name of former Minister of Agriculture Mr William Stewart, a person who influenced many in Middlesex and a person who to this day is regarded for his exemplary leadership and conduct. I think it most important as I reflect on the contribution Mr Stewart made to this province, his community, agriculture and agribusiness to note a quote from his book, titled Rural Roots and Beyond. In his book Mr Stewart states that "after 18 years in the Ontario Legislature, I firmly believe that common sense coupled with basic honesty should be the bottom line."

Knowing the humility of this man and his family, I doubt he would consider his statement to be profound. However, it comes as no surprise that the former minister does reference common sense as the bottom line for good government. I strongly believe that if Mr Stewart were alive today, he would be very proud that common sense has finally found its way back into the government's agenda.

Last week's throne speech reacquaints us with and confirms these same principles. Common sense must become the bottom line for Ontario. Now we must set aside our historical recollections of this concept and act. Action is what the government is committed to, but not as we heard from the leader of the third party yesterday, with his references to fundamentalism, prayer meetings and demonology. There are no indoctrinated puppets in this government caucus and we are not led by simplicity of faith.

As a young person newly elected to represent the riding of Middlesex in this House, I, along with many other young people in this province, commend the Premier's commitment to build a prosperous Ontario and recognize his dedication to value for service, fairness and excellence.

As we look to the future, I believe it is appropriate and, most importantly, the responsibility of this government to ask the question, "What if?" and not, "How much?" The "what if" question can be answered, but it requires a commitment to redefining the role of government and rethinking how and where government should conduct its business. That commitment is clearly articulated in the throne speech.

I believe the bottom line must be fiscal responsibility and we must invest in our greatest asset: people. In that context, and although the Minister of Health is not here today, I commend and thank the minister on behalf of the many concerned residents of east London for the quick and decisive action he demonstrated by reinvesting nearly $550,000 of administrative health care savings back into front-line services.

In east London, that commitment resulted in the deployment of a new ambulance service to that portion of the city of London, where emergency response times had increased to an unacceptable level, a service that was long overdue.

The "what if" question to which I have already referred, if properly answered, will result in a redefinition of government, forcing us to look ahead to the future. Conversely, the same question also forces us to evaluate our existing strengths, and this government is prepared to do that.

For that reason, I am encouraged that my colleague from Durham-York will be leading a government initiative aimed at promoting and encouraging volunteerism across this great province. I believe, as do all my caucus colleagues, that this is a vital step in recognizing the strengths and commitment of volunteers in this province, utilizing existing resources and not government-generated resources. I am confident that the residents of Middlesex will continue to give their valuable time, energy and resources to help build a stronger and prosperous Ontario.

The underlying message of my statement today is simply this: I support an agenda for change that reinvests in people; an agenda for change that, in part, recognizes the energy and abilities that we possess as individuals or collectively as volunteers; an agenda for change which recognizes the need for fiscal responsibility; and an agenda for change which is prepared to answer the "what if" questions.


I look forward to working with all members of this assembly with the expectation that our collective goal is to restore the prosperity of this province.

The Deputy Speaker (Mr Bert Johnson): The Chair recognizes the member for Yorkview.

Mr Mario Sergio (Yorkview): Mr Speaker, thank you very much. First of all, congratulations on your position. I wish you well and I'm sure that you will do extremely well, given the composition of the House.

In addressing my remarks on the speech from the throne, I would like first to -- this is not the first time, it's my second time actually that I'm making my stand in this particular House and, given so, I would like to give a brief description of my own area.

I've been living in the Yorkview area for 29, 30 or so years. The composition of my riding is a middle-class working community and you will find every ethnic community, and so there is also the variety of the foods which the ethnic community has to offer. Therefore, any member of the House who wishes to taste the variety will have to come to the area of Yorkview, and of course you yourself are invited, Mr Speaker.

Going to the business area, I fully recognize the honour, the responsibility which has been accredited by electing me in the riding of Yorkview. I'll do my very best to bring dignity and respect to my people and this House.

In addressing the remarks on the speech from the throne, I would like first to congratulate the Premier and his government for keeping perhaps the most important election promise. During the election campaign, the Premier won the confidence of the people of Ontario, or enough of them, by preaching on a daily basis that a Conservative government would be a different type of government. I'm sad to see so soon that the Premier has kept his promise. It is truly a different type of government. Right here on the first page of the document, the speech from the throne, on the front page, on page 1 of the speech from the throne, it says, and I quote, "The agenda is clear...`Your government is doing what it said it would do, and it will continue.'"

This is making a mockery of people's trust. Indeed, it continues on page 1, "People want jobs -- for this generation and the next." But there is not even one word about jobs in this document. Perhaps I know why. A politician who doesn't make any promises doesn't have to keep any.

But the fact is this, that Mr Harris during the campaign, and so did every other member, I'm sure, promised 725,000 jobs for the next five years -- for this generation now, not for the next generation.

"Ontarians want value for their tax dollars and an end to government waste." So the Common Sense Revolution -- or how we call it, Revlon -- said. Waste, yes. I agree with that, but the government has already increased the burden tenfold.

"Families want safe communities." Yes, I myself and every other member of this House believe that, but instead cuts to funding were made to strapped municipalities.

The Common Sense Revolution states that "funding for law enforcement and justice will be guaranteed." That was on May 3, 1994, but on July 21, 1995, $14 million was cut from the Attorney General and Solicitor General budgets.

We all want a sound health care system, but the government swiftly moved to cut $130 million from the health care budget and now is threatening to close a number of hospitals. No user fees, but now the government is moving to dismantle the health care system as Ontarians have been accustomed to know it.

On page 2 of the document it says, "Parents want schools where children learn." Indeed, Mr Speaker. Indeed, members of the House. We politicians, educators, parents, adults, tell our children: "Go to school. Learn. Be somebody. Go to college. Learn a trade. Go to university." But the truth of the matter is that parents won't be able to have their children get a reasonable education, for the government is eliminating every possibility.

"We want every Ontarian to have a fair chance at a productive and independent life." I'm quoting from this particular document which the government has presented to this particular House. "We want every Ontarian to have a fair chance at a productive and independent life." Is this government for real? With over half a million people unemployed, the highest percentage being youths unable to find a job, with no incentives to create work or jobs, I ask the government, where is the fair chance?

"June 8, the people of Ontario voted for major change," and it says the government "will deliver." It says on page 2 of the document that this government is going to deliver what it is promising. My invitation to the Premier and the government side is, stop promising and start delivering.

Now we are getting proof of that in this particular House, in the words of the Minister of Finance when he says, "We really mean it," in the words of the Chairman of Management Board, my friend the member for Don Mills, when he said in this House a couple of days ago that the government can't back down on its plans: "We have a government that is going to keep its word." I'm sure that I and every member of this House and every citizen of Ontario would like exactly that and nothing less. Don't back down; keep your word.

The citizens of Yorkview, while they saw a glimmer of hope in some of the so-called Common Sense Revolution, they knew better. They were no fools. They knew too well they could not trust a Conservative government, not because they didn't like all the promises, but they knew very well they could not be kept.

So today, on behalf of the people I represent, I would like to challenge the Premier and his government to keep those promises. Make good on the 30% income tax cut. Keep your promise. Don't cut drugs to the seniors. Don't attack the weak and the poor, and the children above all, the innocent, those who cannot speak for themselves.

As far as my people and I are concerned, the document makes as much sense as Jell-O nailed to a tree. The people of Yorkview are hardworking, honest, law-abiding citizens. They pay high taxes and complain very little. The only thing they ask is a chance to have a job, earn a decent living and get on with their lives. I, for one, as a member of this House, will do my very best to see that the government will deliver hope, faith and opportunities to make everyone's dream a reality in a prosperous Ontario.


Mrs Boyd: Mr Speaker, I'd like to begin by congratulating you on your position, and all of us as members on our re-election or our election to this House.

I'm very proud to be here as the member for London Centre. London Centre is a very remarkable place to live. It is remarkable in many, many aspects that have been mentioned today by other members in terms of their ridings. It is an area that has a great mix of the population of Ontario. In fact, London is often used as one of the trial sites for products and for various ideas. It's known by political pundits as a place where you can go and have some of those focus groups and get a bit of a sense of what's happening in the province of Ontario.

But London Centre, as part of London, is a little bit different, because the people in my part of London have a much lower standard of living than London in general. In fact, the last statistics showed at least a 14% decrease in the average earnings for people in London Centre than in general in the province of Ontario.

London Centre comprises the industrial heart of downtown London. Many of you will know that, as is true in many older communities, industries that were there as part of the beginning of London have very often disappeared, and many of those have disappeared in only the most recent past.

The retail community of London, which used to centre on Dundas Street and Richmond, too has seen a great change and, as is true in many cities across this province, has seen a great decline with the growth of mammoth shopping centres far out on the outskirts of the city, often in the riding represented by my colleague from Middlesex. So what we see is the centre of a town that is going through what the centres of many urban areas of our country and of North America are facing, and that is a real effort to restructure its economy, a real effort to take care of the people who live there, to maintain the urban residential base, and to ensure that the problems which beset the inner city do not overcome us in London Centre.

We also are typical of Ontario because in my riding we have a huge gap between the rich and the poor. The vast majority of those who live on social assistance, who require various forms of assistance from both the federal and provincial government, reside within the boundaries of London Centre. Many of those who are most unfortunate are part of my constituency.

We have the largest number of street people in London who reside in one form or another on our streets, in our alleys and in various areas that, really, people should never have to live in. But we also have those who have been very fortunate and privileged, who have belonged to a powerful élite, who have been able to gain the education and the training to improve themselves, to purchase for their families the kind of future we all want for our families. So the contrast is very high in my riding, and one of the issues for me is how to balance that contrast.

We have in the throne speech an outline that tells us that this gap is going to increase, that the gap between one constituent and another in my riding is going to increase dramatically with the policies that have been introduced by the new government.

A nearly 22% drop in income for people on social assistance is an enormous drop. It's always a drop for all of us. Many of us on this side of the House experienced a huge drop in our income, so we understand this, but the effect on us at the salaries we earn is very, very different from the effect on the subsistence rates that people get on social assistance. That 22% represents the difference between some kind of hope and no hope for the future, often no hope for the next meal for many families in my riding.

Those who think that this drop in social assistance rates affects only those who are on assistance better think again, because that drop means a huge drop in income for the retailers, already struggling in my riding. People on social assistance spend every cent they get every month, and they spend it within their neighbourhoods. It is very, very important for us never to lose track of the fact that small businesses struggling to make ends meet in tough times are going to lose a lot of their income from people who have spent it in their neighbourhoods in the past. The small grocery stores and the small retailers are going to feel that drop in income.

Small landlords who are making ends meet, many of them people on fixed incomes who are able to pay their taxes and maintain their homes because they can rent a property, will have difficulty doing that with the subsistence rates that are now going to be provided for housing by people in this province.

The next problem we have is the housing issue itself. We have many people in substandard housing in my riding, as we do in many urban areas, in fact as we do in many rural areas, and this government has destroyed a progressive housing program that had promised low-cost, decent housing to hundreds of people in our riding, people who have no opportunity now to enjoy what the majority of people in this province always dream of in terms of decent housing.

This government is withdrawing its support from many community agencies. A 20% cut in health care -- we believe, from the weasel answer that the Health minister gave -- is very important in a community like mine, with three major hospitals and a psychiatric institution. That's a lot of jobs. We already have been restructuring our hospitals in our city to try and make them more effective, to try and meet the needs that we agreed, as a government, needed to be met. We knew that costs needed to be controlled in the health area, but we believed that communities could best do that themselves, and now we find that all that work is threatened by the Tory knife. That is very distressing, because the jobs that are lost are again going to impact on our small businesses, on our landlords, on our housing industry, and that will have a great effect on our economy.

We also are a university and college town, so that means that faculty and staff are going to be affected by the kinds of cuts that we suspect are coming in the education area. Also our students, thousands and thousands of students, who are looking at the prospect of increased tuition fees such as we've never seen before in this province: 70%. And that again, my friends, is going to impact upon the ability of our city to maintain itself as a regional and commercial capital in this southwestern Ontario region.

So I'm deeply concerned. I'm deeply concerned that we understand that this is not a problem that affects a few; it is a problem that affects us all. We do not have to have our hearts on our sleeves for just a small minority or a special-interest group, as the government is so fond of calling anyone who disagrees with its policies. It is going to affect us all and it is going to affect especially those groups that this government purports to support the most. That is a very serious issue.

We are often accused of trying to maintain the status quo, a very amusing accusation for people who are social democrats, because in fact we do not want to accept the status quo. The people of Ontario didn't want the status quo of 1985, and that's why they elected a new government in 1985. They didn't want the status quo of 1990 either. But when they went to the polls in 1995, they did not think they were restoring the status quo of 1965, and basically that's what we're seeing: a rush to the past on the part of this government that is going to restore a way of life to this province that only supports power and privilege and forgets all the others.


Mr Dan Newman (Scarborough Centre): On June 8, the people in my riding of Scarborough Centre, like people all across this province, took a chance on us as elected representatives. They took a chance that maybe, just maybe, a politician can still be trusted; that maybe, just maybe, a politician will act with the common sense that every family and business in this province acts with on a daily basis. They took a chance at believing in what we said we would do.

This is an issue that I feel strongly about, and it is why I am proud to be a member of this government and why I am proud to sit on this side of the chamber with the honourable Premier. It is also why I'm so very pleased to congratulate you on your position as Deputy Speaker and that of Mr Speaker McLean on his election to that most honourable chair.

The voters of this province have given us one last chance to earn their faith, to prove to them that we can work with vigour, honesty and decorum.

Speaker McLean's election is both a testament to his many years of dedicated service to this chamber and to the people of Ontario and a testament to the honesty and decorum that has marked his years of service. Perhaps no other Speaker has had to serve at such a time of cynicism towards our profession, but I, like my colleagues, am confident that Speaker McLean will be capable of ensuring that we stay on line, stay focused on our tasks, and earn back the faith of every Ontarian.

I'm sure there are a number of members and a number of Ontarians who were surprised to hear what this government committed itself to accomplish in this throne speech -- surprised because it has been so long since a government stood, unwavered, behind its promises.

What we said in this throne speech was nothing new. It was nothing that Ontarians haven't heard before. Premier Harris has stood steadfast behind his commitments for some years now. It was 1992 when the first New Directions was published by the Conservative caucus, it was in May 1994 that the Common Sense Revolution was released, and it was one week ago today that the throne speech restated our commitment to Ontario. This government is committed to restoring public confidence in our elected representatives by living up to our commitments and doing what we said we would do.

As I stand in this chamber today and make my first remarks, I cannot help but look back at something from my childhood. When I was only eight years old, my father, Victor Newman, who I'm proud to say is here today to hear me speak, underwent surgery, and while he was recovering the grass on our family's lawn began to grow too long. Now, my mother didn't use the lawnmower and my sister and I were not allowed to because we were too young. So my eight-year-old mind decided that something had to be done. I sat down and wrote a letter to then-Premier Davis. In the letter I asked him, if he was truly "doing things for people," as his campaign slogan had said, then he should find someone to cut my family's grass. A few days later our grass was cut.

In Premier Davis's letter back to me, he wrote: "I hope that you grow into a young man who will continue to be concerned about people." To this day I continue to be concerned about people, and that is why I stood for election, and that is why I support Premier Harris and our government's commitments. It has taken almost 25 years, but today the people of Ontario once again have a Premier who truly cares about Ontario and Ontarians.

Since my election, a number of people have asked me if I find the transition to being MPP --

Mr Bisson: On a point of order, Mr Speaker: It's clearly against the standing orders of this House for a member to impute any motive in regard to how one Premier might feel about this province one way or another. We've had good premiers, under Mr David Peterson as well as Mr Rae, and for him to impute that, I think he is out of order.

The Speaker (Hon Allan K. McLean): Order. You are out of order.

Mr Newman: I understand, Mr Speaker, from a parliamentarian that when you're heckled it means that you're being effective in your speech, so I thank the honourable member for his compliment.

Since my election, a number of people have asked me if I find the transition to being MPP after working 10 years in the circulation department of one of this city's newspapers difficult. I'm happy to inform this chamber that it is not much of a change at all. In fact, after 10 years with the little newspaper that grew, I think I have the perfect experience to be part of the little caucus that grew.

I'm extremely pleased to be able to stand in this chamber today as the member for the riding of Scarborough Centre. Born and raised in Scarborough Centre, I continue to live in the riding with my wife, Karen, and our daughter, Alanna. Indeed, my connection to the riding goes as far as that both the riding and I were created in 1963.

Bordered on the north by Lawrence Avenue East and the south by Lake Ontario, the riding extends from Markham Road in the east to Kennedy Road in the west. And what a pleasure it is to have my riding surrounded by such dedicated and distinguished members: the honourable Minister of Citizenship, Culture and Recreation, Marilyn Mushinski, in Scarborough-Ellesmere, Mr Gilchrist in Scarborough East and Mr Brown in Scarborough West.

Scarborough Centre has a proud tradition of sending some of the best and brightest to sit in this chamber, distinguished members like Mr George Peck, Mrs Margaret Renwick, Mr Frank Drea, who served our riding with honour for 14 years, my friend the Reverend William C. Davis, Cindy Nicholas, who continues to practise law in Scarborough Centre, and my predecessor, Mr Steve Owens.

Scarborough Centre is truly a remarkable riding and one that I am proud to call home. It is time, however, for politicians to stand up and speak out in support of Scarborough. Scarborough bashing must end. In fact, the honourable Minister of Citizenship, Culture and Recreation was active in Scarborough in this regard. The honourable minister established the Action Scarborough Committee while she served as a Scarborough city counsellor.

Scarborough Centre is home to some of this province's most beautiful areas, areas like the Scarborough Bluffs. It also has an active artistic community. In fact, just recently Canada Post issued a stamp commemorating the comic book hero Nelvana of the Northern Lights, created in 1941 by the late artist Adrian Dingle, whose wife, Pat, is a proud and active Scarborough Centre resident. Just this past week, Scarborough Centre residents were able to visit homes of area artists and view their works as part of Scarborough's ArtsWeek.

Yesterday I was pleased to attend the rededication of Scarborough's Albert Campbell Square, named after Albert McTaggart Campbell, Scarborough's first mayor.

Next year is Scarborough's bicentennial, and I would urge each member of this chamber to come out and experience Scarborough.

More ethnically diverse than most areas in this province, Scarborough Centre is home to some of the most community-oriented citizens. My campaign team was made up of so many concerned citizens who had never before participated in an election but who cared enough about the future of our province to get involved and to try to do something to bring about the much-needed change.

I remember how Willy and Susan Sanford allowed me to put a sign on their lawn, the first politician they'd ever let put up a sign. Why? Because they believed in the changes that Premier Harris was calling for and because they saw the possibility that maybe, finally, Ontario could have a government that could be trusted and believed.

It is because of the community spirit in Scarborough Centre that I am so pleased to hear in the throne speech that the Premier has directed an initiative to support and nurture the spirit of volunteerism. Community associations and volunteer groups thrive in Scarborough Centre, and I would suggest to the member for Durham-York and parliamentary assistant to the Premier that she can look to some of my constituents for help in this initiative, constituents like Cay Shedden and Crawford Smyth, who have been honoured for their efforts. For far too long governments and politicians have tried to do everything for everybody while forgetting that this province flourished with the spirit of volunteerism long before President Kennedy called on our southern neighbours to act that way.

The residents of Scarborough Centre, like the residents across this great province, are fed up with the shift away from the rights of victims. They stand firmly behind initiatives this government will introduce, like the Victims' Bill of Rights. Indeed, as the throne speech mentions, there are too many stories of victims of crime, stories like that of my constituent Mr George Barber, who was savagely beaten in our local Radio Shack store. Mr Barber and many of my constituents are happy to see a provincial government that is finally standing up for the rights of victims and not standing aside to special interests.

During the election campaign, I had the pleasure to be able to speak with most of the residents in Scarborough Centre, as I knocked on every door and on every street in my riding, streets like Haileybury, Graylee, Martindale, Oakridge, Magnolia, Atlee, Blakemanor and Scarborough Heights. And let me assure you, Mr Speaker, that I do not plan to be one of those politicians who only walks the riding during election campaigns. I will be out doing it again before this session is over and again during every session that I am here.

At every door I was confronted with the same desire from residents: a desire to see government stimulate job creation and economic growth by cutting spending, cutting taxes and ending the warped view that a government needs to have its hands on everything and everybody in this great province.


Scarborough Centre residents supported the Common Sense Revolution, they supported Premier Harris and they are happy to see that this government has committed itself in this throne speech to doing what it said. This government is committed to reducing government red tape, restoring balance to labour relations, ending unfair job quotas and providing a climate where business expansion and investment is welcomed and encouraged.

The throne speech proves that this government is also committed to ending the cycle of welfare dependency and despair by getting able-bodied welfare recipients back into the workforce, to create a system that acts as a hand up, not a handout.

I'm also pleased to stand today as the parliamentary assistant to the minister responsible for native affairs and commit my energies to ensuring that all aboriginal peoples in Ontario are treated with the dignity, honesty and openness that the two previous governments failed to give them.

I would like to close by thanking everyone, including the members opposite, who have sent their congratulations and best wishes to me since my election.

The Speaker: Thank you. The member's time has expired. Just wrap it up.

Mr Newman: As the member for Prescott and Russell, Mr Lalonde, conveyed to me in August, Ontarians do deserve and expect us to build a better future for them and the generation to come, and by working together in this chamber we can put Ontario back on the road to prosperity.

Ms Sandra Pupatello (Windsor-Sandwich): I'd like to thank the voters from Windsor-Sandwich and LaSalle for placing me here today. I'm committed to them and to the Liberal Party during my time here. I'd also like to thank our leader, Lyn McLeod, and colleagues in the Liberal caucus. Their guidance and assistance is certainly going to be useful and has so far been most helpful to me. I'd like to thank as well the legislative staff for their help in the transition of a rookie member like me into one who may know the legislative process.

I plan to work well with the federal members from my riding, and those are the Honourable Herb Gray and member of Parliament Susan Whelan. I might say too that I thank the Honourable Herb Gray for bringing me here and leading me into a life of politics.

I'd like to remember the message from my friends in the Rotary Club of Windsor who will always be there to remind me of service above self and, in particular, how vital that is to this line of work.

I can tell you, Mr Speaker, that my first day here in this House for the throne speech was about as appealing to me as plunging my way through day-old dishwater to unplug the plug. You really don't want to do it but you recognize that you must. I'm speaking of the pandemonium that reigned only three months into this new government, and I reluctantly came here to hear a throne speech, a message that does not bode well for the people of Windsor-Sandwich and LaSalle.

The throne speech spoke of encouraging private sector job creation by cutting taxes and red tape for business. By its own admission, this is more than a year away. In the meantime, this government has left people questioning the status of jobs they have now -- municipal employees, LCBO employees, thousands of employees in the non-profit sector, the health sector, the education sector, and all small business that feeds and clothes and serves these sectors.

Will these people do anything but save anything gained in tax relief? Will those savings do anything more than pay down an increasing municipal tax, thanks to further downloading of costs to municipalities, done in the guise of allowing municipalities the freedom to choose the services they'd like to offer their citizens?

Am I worried about this government's move to completely eliminate Bill 40? I am. Am I worried that workers in Windsor and LaSalle will heed labour leaders' call for anarchy in Ontario? I am. This government's closed-door policy so far for dialogue with labour and business on this issue is foolhardy. Labour and business in my community have achieved a healthy partnership through communication and compromise; I beg of this government to do the same.

What didn't I hear in the throne speech? I didn't hear confirmation of a much-touted campaign promise to not cut health care. What I've witnessed instead is the cutting of millions of dollars from our system and in my community the reneging on a promise of the level of capital and community dollars required to finish the implementation of a merger of four hospitals into two, mergers which have already taken place. More frightening still is the likelihood of further cuts, massive and swift cuts to our health care, to our health system without the time for planning a process to cope.

If only the people at home could see the Minister of Health wringing his hands with glee as he plans the further cuts, they would be appalled. Which of the seniors in South Windsor will be affected by the additional cost of drugs? Which of the young families in LaSalle will wait impossible lengths of time for care by paediatricians, by obstetricians?

The throne speech outlined the severe and drastic cuts to those on welfare, with the message to these 7,000 families in Windsor to get out and get a job. May I submit that despite a flourishing economy in Windsor our unemployment rate stands at 10.4%. Where, where are these jobs? Those constituents who have frequented my office are asking me the same: Where are these jobs?

Would that there were jobs for the people panicked about how to make ends meet and deciding what will be eliminated from their shopping list. Panicked too are the disabled who got caught in a system that wasn't supposed to face cuts, but they are. People like Jake Airey, whose story was told in a recent Toronto Star letter.

I resent the government's actions so far, cutting child care spaces for those straining to get off the system. Tell me where the savings are in creating the vicious circle that won't let those retraining or finishing an education finally get off the system. Child care was the critical component in this equation. That was foolhardy. What of the children from these families on social assistance? Well, we know it's a parent's responsibility to care for children. Are we prepared for the backlash when parents fail, perhaps because they can't? Our children's aid societies are strained and barely coping now, and so are the several agencies that deal with children, and they face a 7.5% cut over the next several months. How are they going to cope?

This government must not realize the negative and costly effects of reduction in children's services. It will come back to haunt this government in these next four years, and might I remind the members of government that little people have this propensity to become big people, people who will be leaders and voters in Ontario.

I'm particularly concerned about the children in Ontario. In my riding you'll find an inordinate amount of children who are in desperate need of children's services and agencies facing long waiting lists, with children on them -- one child psychiatrist in the whole of Essex county, a population of 350,000 people. You'll find a higher-than-average teenage pregnancy rate, a higher-than-average number of low-birthweight babies, all of these things pointing to a desperate need for early intervention through children's services, and yes, those very agencies facing brutal cuts by a very shortsighted government.

Finally, I must say that this government has indeed been very busy these past three months; its focus has been strictly cutting. If only this time were spent with equal vigour focusing on how to get Ontario working again, how to lay fertile soil for jobs, how to reverse the months-long trend of no new jobs in Ontario.

I will make it my job to remind this government that it must lead with reason and with compassion. Our voters are not ideological, they are real people with real needs. I must say that on my letterhead -- and the people who sent me here, we're driven by a Latin motto, a phrase that says, "Ad augusta per angusta," and it means "Triumph through hardship." Indeed, the people of Windsor-Sandwich and LaSalle have seen that and we're prepared to rise above it, and we're prepared to fight the government on all of these actions.

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.