36th Parliament, 1st Session

L012 - Wed 18 Oct 1995 / Mer 18 Oct 1995































The House met at 1332.




Mr Michael Gravelle (Port Arthur): As most honourable members are aware, yesterday was declared the International Day for the Eradication of Poverty by the United Nations. In the spirit of this declaration, I wish to honour and salute the good work of T-CAP, the Thunder Bay Coalition Against Poverty, which last night hosted a candlelight vigil in Thunder Bay to commemorate this day.

T-CAP is to be applauded for leading a community-based fight against poverty and for its valiant attempts to catch the ear of this government.

Last month, T-CAP designed and distributed an information package aimed at educating the members of this House on cost-of-living realities for families receiving social assistance in the Thunder Bay area. In turn, they issued a challenge to the members of this Legislature by requesting that we take a few moments to complete a budgetary exercise.

The intent of their request was to illustrate the difficulties of achieving even a basic standard of living with this government's 22% cutback in social assistance levels. I am saddened to report that, to the best of my knowledge, not one Conservative member of this House was willing to accept responsibility for the devastation these cuts are causing.

Today, I wish to give praise to T-CAP and all anti-poverty organizations across this province and around the world. It is abundantly clear that the Ontario government will continue to act without genuine concern on this issue and that only through community-minded work of organizations like T-CAP and the diligence of the elected opposition will the principles of compassion and cooperation be upheld in this great province.


Mr Len Wood (Cochrane North): My statement today is about cuts to unconditional grants in the north. I'd like to direct the statement to the Minister of Municipal Affairs and Housing and also the Minister of Northern Development and Mines.

Recently, your government has implied that there will be a 20% reduction in unconditional grants to municipalities. A reduction of this magnitude would impact greatly upon northern municipalities.

For a number of years northern municipalities have been able to obtain specific provincial grants to cover the higher costs of providing municipal services and the lack of property assessment and capacity. A reduction of this magnitude would increase property taxes to northern municipalities by 8.3%. The impact on southern Ontario municipalities would be a mere 1.2% increase in property taxes. The playing field needs to be levelled.

We have relied for years, in the north, on the northern support grant and resource equalization grant. These grants, introduced in 1973, were to reduce the financial burden resulting from higher costs attributed to the northern climate, great distances, rock and the isolation of northern Ontario communities. Poor municipalities whose average assessment was below the provincial standard were paid these grants to enable them to improve and maintain service levels without imposing excessive property taxes.

Circumstances have not changed in the north. A 20% reduction in unconditional grants to northern municipalities would be an unconscionable action by this government.


Mr Tom Froese (St Catharines-Brock): Last week my colleague the member for Brantford spoke in this House about Brantford being declared the prettiest city in Ontario. We congratulate member Ron Johnson and the people of Brantford.

I would like to advise the members of this House that the residents of Niagara-on-the-Lake, a section of my riding, had a similar honour. It was declared the prettiest town in Ontario by the Ontario Parks Association's Communities in Bloom program. In the category for communities with a population between 5,000 and 30,000, Niagara-on-the-Lake beat out municipalities such as Cobourg, Collingwood, Dryden and Elliot Lake.

As with Brantford, the judges looked at everything from general overall appearance to tidiness and environmental awareness. Apparently the judges were particularly impressed with the originality of the town's landscaping, private and public. This honour is a perfect example of what can happen when citizens and government work together for the benefit of the entire community.

I would like to send congratulations to the town's Lord Mayor, Michael Dietsch, the parks and recreation department, and all the residents for making Niagara-on-the-Lake the prettiest town in Ontario.


Mr Dwight Duncan (Windsor-Walkerville): Yesterday the Minister of Community and Social Services apologized for his so-called drafting error which would have cut benefits to over 100,000 people living with disabilities. Today I'd like to speak about a number of other drafting errors, drafting errors that were contained in the Common Sense Revolution.

Take for example the drafting error on page 7, where it says, "We will not cut health care spending." It should have read, "We will slash $130 million from health care services across this province."

Again, on page 8, "...funding for law enforcement and justice will be guaranteed." Who proofread it? It should have said, "We're going to take $14 million from the justice budget to pay for our tax cut."

Another drafting error occurred on page 10, "Aid for seniors and the disabled will not be cut." They simply left out the words "unless they depend on the government for Wheel-Trans, housing or just plain making ends meet."

"No cuts to agriculture." Oops, that should have read, "Lots of cuts to agriculture," lots of cuts.

"No cuts to the north." They should say "$22 million in cuts to the north." Gosh, it's hard to find good staff these days.

And when Mike Harris said, "If I fail to deliver on my commitments as Premier I will resign," he really meant to say he resigned himself to the fact that as Premier he'd fail to deliver on his commitments.



Mr Tony Martin (Sault Ste Marie): I rise today to recognize the tremendously valuable contribution Indian friendship centres have made to community life in cities and towns across the province. The time and energy contributed on a volunteer basis and professionally to the quality of life of both the urban aboriginal community and the larger community is simply unquantifiable.

In my work as a community development professional during the very difficult early 1980s, the Indian Friendship Centre was always there. Whether it was an issue of family life, community life or economic development, they contributed with wisdom from the past, an understanding of the present and a vision of the future that was unique and always helpful.

My concern today is that this so very valuable organization is at risk, and with them, even more importantly, the people they serve. Their very heart and soul is being ripped out. The two programs central to everything they do are being discontinued. The native community worker program, which supported families at a very basic level, making ends meet and helping people keep their heads above water, and the Little Beaver program, which supported children, are gone. This is across the province, but most particularly for me and my colleague from Algoma, in both Sault Ste Marie and Hornepayne.

This is shocking and sad, but does it surprise me? Frankly, no, as the record of this government in its short mandate to date where it concerns support for families and children is abhorrent. Shame on you. Shame on you, Mike Harris.


Mrs Barbara Fisher (Bruce): I rise today to make mention of a retirement party I had the pleasure of attending in my riding of Bruce. The guest of honour was Arthur King, a long-time resident and respected member of the community.

Mr King began his career in 1956, when he joined the Town of Mimico Police Department. He was one of the first 17 members of the Metropolitan Toronto Police Force and went on to become a private investigator and later an RCMP special constable at Cape Crocker.

Mr King began his 20 years of service with the Ontario Provincial Police in 1974. In 1983, he became the officer in charge of the OPP launch the H.H. Graham, which was moored in Tobermory and now operates from the Kincardine harbour.

Mr King continued his outstanding service as an officer of the court and retired from the force as a detective constable. His son Rob is following in his father's footsteps with the Cape Crocker police unit.

Arthur King went above and beyond the call of duty during his career by getting involved in numerous initiatives designed to improve and enhance community and police relationships. Mr King was an original member of the community policing committee serving the communities of Amabel and Albermarle. He started neighbourhood watch programs and worked on community fund-raising committees.

The evening's master of ceremonies was Sergeant Wayne Stevens, who was joined by his wife, Carol. Others in attendance included the Honourable Judge Shapiro; Chief Superintendent Coles; Tom Boyd, chair of the OPP association, District 6; and Jim Gordon, District 6 inspector. Phyllis Miller, a distinguished member of the community, presented Mr King's wife, Bev, with an heirloom ring in appreciation for her years of service as a police officer's wife.


Mr James J. Bradley (St Catharines): St Catharines lost one of its foremost labour leaders this week with the passing of the former president of UAW Local 199, Jim Connell.

Jim's early commitment to the trade union movement began during his days in construction and lumber camps in Algonquin Park in the winter of 1941-42, where he recognized the vulnerability of workers unprotected by the lack of a union on the site.

In St Catharines, Jim Connell made his contribution to his fellow workers as a steward and, in 1964, as president of Local 199, a position to which he was elected for 16 years.

Jim's concern and involvement was not confined to the General Motors operation alone, but extended to the community at large. The establishment of a health centre in St Catharines with an emphasis on preventive medicine, the implementation of half-price bus fares for seniors, the creation of a senior citizens' drop-in centre on Dunlop Drive, strong support for Brock University, and the building of a retirement village with low-cost units for former auto workers were projects with which he was deeply involved.

Those who were involved in the early days of the trade union movement, before legislative protection was enacted and when business was unreceptive to unionization, will remember the courage, determination and tenacity of Jim Connell and his colleagues.

There are those who have great wealth and influence, and they can look after themselves. Jim Connell set out to defend and represent those who could not easily defend themselves, and he will be remembered with fondness and appreciation by those for whom he fought for so many years.


Ms Frances Lankin (Beaches-Woodbine): Today is day three in the continuing saga of the Mulroney-Harris affair.

On Monday, the member for Windsor-Riverside rose to expose the appointment of David Nash, a prominent London Mulroney Tory, to the Ontario Casino Corp by the Harris government.

Yesterday, the member for Nickel Belt rose to inform this House of the hiring of John Toogood, another Mulroney Tory, by the Harris government into the office of the Minister of Citizenship.

Today, I want to talk about yet again another Mulroney-Harris team appointment: Pauline Browes, a former Tory MP for Scarborough Centre from 1984 to 1993, a member of the Mulroney cabinet holding the portfolios of Minister of State (Environment), Minister of State (Employment and Immigration), and Minister of Indian and Northern Affairs, soundly defeated in 1993 and resurrected in 1995 by the Harris government when it appointed her vice-chair of the Environmental Assessment Board.

The affair continues; stay tuned tomorrow.


Mr R. Gary Stewart (Peterborough): I rise in this House today to express the need for dialysis treatment in the Peterborough area. I am presenting this concern in the form of a member's statement as a result of my constituents presenting me with a petition which does not conform to standing order 36. That petition has in excess of 6,000 names.

The Peterborough area does not have adequate treatment facilities to meet the demand. For too long patients and their families have been forced to travel long distances through miserable weather for treatment, only to arrive at a facility with a long waiting list.

Over the past few months, my constituency office has been flooded with approximately 5,000 letters and phone calls from patients, their families and concerned members of the community pleading for treatment facilities in the Peterborough area. Patients requiring dialysis services cannot wait long periods of time between treatments. Timely delays are not sympathetic to patients -- delays which, if they go on too long, will eventually lead to death.

This government committed during the election campaign to improve Ontario dialysis treatments, and I too publicly supported that goal.

When the government announced in August its intentions to expand facilities in Ontario, I was very pleased, as were the people of my riding. Let me congratulate the government for reinvesting in health care and, in particular, dialysis treatment.

One of those communities that is in need of help is the Peterborough riding.


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 His Excellency Jozef Skolc, accompanied by His Excellency Marijan Majcen, the ambassador of the Republic of Slovenia and the president of the National Assembly of the Republic of Slovenia. Please welcome our guests.



Hon Dianne Cunningham (Minister of Intergovernmental Affairs, minister responsible for women's issues): Today is Persons Day in Canada. It was 66 years ago, on October 18, 1929, that women were declared to be persons in the eyes of the law in this country. Prior to that time, only men were considered persons entitled to societal rights and privileges.

This watershed in women's history was the result of the determination and persistence of Judge Emily Murphy of Alberta and four other committed Canadian women: Henrietta Edwards, Louise McKinney, Nellie McClung and Irene Parlby. Collectively known as the Famous Five, these champions of women's rights took their crusade all the way to the Supreme Court of Canada.

On behalf of all Ontarians, I would like to acknowledge Judge Murphy and her colleagues for their achievement on behalf of all of us who have followed them.

Since the declaration of their personhood, Canadian women have increased their presence in virtually all spheres of endeavour. Taking a page from Judge Murphy's book of creativity and determination, more women than ever have become successful business people in private industry and the operation of their own small businesses.

More women than ever are pursuing post-secondary education, their greatest prospect for economic independence. An increased number of women are entering the professions; 47% of the undergraduate law school students and 39% of undergraduate medical school students at the University of Toronto in the 1994-95 academic year were women. In all areas of life, women are working harder towards independence and self-sufficiency.

This is a challenging time for government. We are forced to make some difficult decisions: to reduce government spending in order to create an improved climate for job creation and restore hope and prosperity for Ontario.


Our proposed Victims' Bill of Rights will strengthen protection for women, as well as men and children, who are victims of crime. And I am determined to work with all of my colleagues to keep our government's promise to preserve core services for women who need them most. As part of this commitment, we will preserve core services to victims of violence.

On this Persons Day, we are inspired by the determination of Judge Emily Murphy and her colleagues. We know they would be proud of the progress women have made since we first became "persons" and the contribution all women continue to make to this society. On this Persons Day in Canada, we are proud of the women who have made many advances since that early milestone in our history, and we are confident many advances still lie ahead.

Mrs Elinor Caplan (Oriole): As we stand today to acknowledge and celebrate Persons Day, when 66 years ago it was declared, by the British government actually, that women were indeed persons under the Constitution, we remember those Famous Five: Henrietta Edwards, Louise McKinney, Nellie McClung and Irene Parlby, led by Judge Emily Murphy, who on her very first day on the bench was in fact challenged by a fellow lawyer that she was not a person.

I would say to the minister that, while we acknowledge and celebrate the progress that women have made in this province, those women, those Famous Five, and the women of this province do not celebrate the policies of your government. Today in Ontario, women face violence, poverty and discrimination. What are you and your government doing about this?

When it comes to violence, you are closing and cutting second-stage housing. The core services of education and counselling support for women and batterers: You've cut those, you've eliminated them, and you are not doing what you say you will do when you say you will protect those core services. Women know that and they will never forgive you.

Women live in poverty, and what has been the response from your government? Your government has declared war on women and their children by cutting social assistance rates, cutting access to child care and thus cutting their access to opportunities to work, better themselves, educate themselves and protect their children.

Women face discrimination, and what has been the response from your government? Rather than amending legislation that would remove barriers in the workplace for women who face discrimination daily, you have eliminated and scrapped legislation and said to them, "Discrimination is okay, and if you have a case, you must take it to the already overburdened Human Rights Commission."

So in Ontario today, women are seeing the clock turned back on many of the progressive reforms of the past, they are seeing the clock turned back on the kind of important initiatives that will in fact see women make progress, and as we stand here on Persons Day, I would say to the minister for women's issues in Mike Harris's Ontario, to Premier Harris and to the Conservative government, that the Famous Five and all those who followed in their footsteps fighting for equal opportunity and equal rights for women in this province and across this country are turning in their graves, and they would be ashamed of you and your policies and they would be ashamed that you would rise in the House today and say this: "This is a challenging time for government. We are forced to make some difficult decisions."

What that means to the women and their children in this province is that you have declared war on them, you have turned your back on them, and you are saying to them, Madam Minister, that in your policies there is no room for compassion, there is no room for progress on those issues we have all held so dear.

Equality of opportunity and celebration of Persons Day is something that we in this House have always stood to celebrate.

Today is no celebration, and on behalf of the women and their children in this province, who depend on government policy to see that that progress continues, they have never in the history of this province seen this kind of turning back of the clock, seen this kind of regressive policy that will in fact harm women and their children. I would have expected much more from the women's minister today.

What was your response to their desire for alternatives in health care? Scrap the birthing centres. What was your answer to them on second-stage housing? You are misleading them, and I say that with passion, Minister, because in fact you've said you're not going to cut counselling, and you have done that.

Mrs Margaret Marland (Mississauga South): She can't say that.

Mrs Caplan: I would say that the women are not going to be fooled, and they know that your words today --

Hon Noble Villeneuve (Minister of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs, minister responsible for francophone affairs): She accused the minister of misleading.


The Speaker (Hon Allan K. McLean): Order. Would the member take her seat, please. I'm not sure whether I heard the word "mislead" in there or not, but if it was there, the member would have the opportunity to withdraw it.


The Speaker: Order. I must remind the people in the gallery there can be no demonstration.

Mrs Caplan: Never before in the province of Ontario have we seen these kinds of aggressive policies as they've affected women and their children.

The Speaker: Order. I asked the honourable member if I'd heard that word in her statement, and if I did I would ask her to withdraw it.

Mrs Caplan: I recognize the word "misled" is unparliamentary, and I will withdraw it if it offends the Speaker. I think it accurately reflects the policies of this government as they have --


The Speaker: Further response, from the third party: the member for Riverdale.

Ms Marilyn Churley (Riverdale): Thank you, Mr Speaker. You always have to remember to press that button. I've made that mistake myself.

I'm happy today to stand, on behalf of our party, with the minister responsible for women's issues and the Liberal Party to acknowledge and celebrate Persons Day in Canada.

As the minister stated, it is a scant 66 years ago today. When you think about it, it isn't that long ago that women were not even considered persons, and certainly none of us women who are sitting here today in this House would be here if it weren't for the women who have been mentioned previously, Henrietta Edwards, Louise McKinney, Nellie McClung and Irene Parlby, known as the Famous Five, and for the hard work and perseverance they undertook to make sure that women were rightly considered to be persons.

I have a copy of the minister's statement, and if people would like to refer to the last paragraph, it states, "We know that they would be proud of the progress women have made since we first became `persons'." It's my understanding that we always have been people; the issue here of course is that we were finally recognized 66 years ago as people.

I presume this is just a drafting error, that the minister certainly didn't mean to suggest that at one point in history we actually weren't persons. I'd like to correct that on her behalf.

Like the member from the Liberal Party, I'm saddened today. I'm celebrating with you all here today the fact that we did become recognized as people and we can now vote and participate equally in society, supposedly. But we cannot get too complacent here. There are still many, many advances we have to make, and I think everybody here in this House is aware of that.

Since this government came into power, however, it's become very clear that this is the most anti-women government we have seen in the history of this province. I would say to the women, and the men, sitting across the floor --

Mr Gilles Bisson (Cochrane South): Mostly men.

Ms Churley: Mostly men, correct, but I welcome the 11 Tory women here. I would say to all of you that you take a look --


The Speaker: Order.

Ms Churley: I'm sorry if I sound inflammatory here today, but let me say to you that if you take a good look at the kinds of cuts that have been made by your party, in consultation I'm sure with the minister -- she tells me she speaks up for women at the cabinet table -- they have mostly affected, unduly and tragically affected, women and kids and therefore families.


The reality is that regulated safe child care has been affected and cut by this government. The fact is that social assistance -- many single parents, which means thousands of kids in this province are now going to be hungrier.

Birthing centres, which sound fundamental when you understand that birthing centres will actually save the government and taxpayers money and will also give women a choice, have been cut.

For what reason? The excuse the Minister of Health gives makes absolutely no sense. If he will look at the documentation that has been provided to him, actually these birthing centres would save the government money, so why cut them? Job training has been cut. Employment equity has been cut.

The minister talks about core services to victims of violence and about the Victims' Bill of Rights. Well, let me tell you, the Victims' Bill of Rights is something that I and I think my party would have felt very comfortable supporting, but now we find out that they're taking the guts out of the Victims' Bill of Rights and are taking away the very support services that women, victims of violence, need to help them get out of their oppressive situations, to help them and their kids be removed, to get the kind of counselling they need and the safe haven they need. This goes against the grain of what this government is talking about in terms of victims' rights.



Mrs Lyn McLeod (Leader of the Opposition): My first question is to the Minister of Community and Social Services. Minister, yesterday you apologized to the House for what you claimed was a drafting error, a drafting error that had the effect of changing the legal definition of "disabled." I want to bring to your attention today a second change to that regulation that also changes the definition of "disabled," a change that you neither noted nor apologized for yesterday.

The October 4 edition of the Ontario Gazette contains a regulation change that reduces benefits for people who are permanently unemployable and require another person to provide them with daily physical assistance. This change would reduce benefits by hundreds of dollars for thousands of people.

We are now talking about two changes to your regulations, not one -- and I emphasize, two changes -- that do exactly the same thing, that change the definition of "disabled" in exactly the same way. Minister, is this just a coincidence, and are you still going to try to tell the people of Ontario that this was all just a drafting error?

Hon David H. Tsubouchi (Minister of Community and Social Services): There's not really much benefit or sense in having the leader of the official opposition indicate that there's some sort of apocalyptic scenery out there, that creates such anxiety in the disabled community. I think we should focus on the real issue here. The real issue is that no one's cheque was affected, there was never any intention to have anyone's cheque affected, and in fact the computer system was never set up to do anything different than issue the same cheques again.

Mrs McLeod: I'm certainly not attempting to be apocalyptic; I'm simply dealing with some facts that we're finding difficult to explain. I would remind the minister that these are facts: You told the House that you had no plan to change the definition of "disabled"; you claimed that a regulation that changed the definition of "disabled" -- exactly against what you said you were going to do -- was a drafting error; and now we find we have two changes in the regulation, two changes that do the same thing.

I suggest that no one can believe that your officials who draft your regulations could just happen to make exactly the same mistake twice. These two regulation changes did not just turn up. Somebody had to give the original direction to bring in changes to the regulation that would change the definition of "disabled." That's a change that would reduce the number of disabled people on welfare and a change that would clearly break your government's commitment to protect benefits for the disabled.

Minister, if you did not give that original direction to change the definition of "disabled," who, exactly, did?

Hon Mr Tsubouchi: I want to point out, first of all, that the section in question in the regulations did not explicitly refer to the disabled in any way, shape or form. Secondly, the matter has been corrected.

But once again I think we're overlooking the real issue here, and the real issue is that nobody's cheque was affected and there was no intention ever to do so, and in fact no member of the disabled community has been affected in any way whatsoever.

Mrs McLeod: We realize that once the minister had discovered that he was about to bring in a regulation change that broke his government's commitment, he acted to make sure that did not happen.

The question is, what was the original intent and how did a regulation come into law that effectively would have changed the definition of "disabled"? Minister, I simply cannot believe that this was a drafting error when it occurred twice, two significant changes which would have had that very serious impact. There is a consistency in those changes that makes it difficult to believe they were the result of a drafting error.

But beyond that, there is the fact that you signed these regulations with those significant changes there. I guess I just finally have to ask you, Minister: When someone puts something in front of you for your signature before it becomes law, what do you do? Do you just pull out your rubber stamp and apply it where your executive assistant has marked an X? Is it your policy to sign now and apologize later?

Hon Mr Tsubouchi: I made a very clear explanation yesterday of what had transpired, in a ministerial statement. I would like to address this again, that certainly the section did not explicitly refer in any way, shape or form to the disabled, anywhere. Clearly I admit it was a mistake, and clearly I apologized to the House already.

I'd like to take the opportunity, though, to indicate to both the Leader of the Opposition and the former government that they had 10 years in which to do a huge correction, which we have undertaken to do. That correction is to take the seniors and the disabled off the welfare system, where they should never have been in the first place. They had the opportunity to do this. This is what this government is committed to do. We are committed to support the disabled community.

The Speaker (Hon Allan K. McLean): New question, leader of the official opposition.

Mrs McLeod: As a matter of record, I don't think it was ever the intention over the last 10 years of any government to change the definition of "disabled," so no wonder it was not done. I submit it was the intention of this minister to change the definition of "disabled" and that's why the changes were made. But the saga will continue, and I do want to turn to other significant issues.


Mrs Lyn McLeod (Leader of the Opposition): I address my second question to the Minister of Health, because I want to ask the Minister of Health today about hospital restructuring, which he addresses often in this Legislature. As he knows, in communities across Ontario there are indeed dedicated professionals and community members who have put enormous amounts of work into making hospital services in their communities more efficient and more effective.

He also knows, because he speaks of it often, that many of those projects are anticipated to create savings in health care, savings that could be turned back into the community. In fact, this minister's government committed itself to sharing those savings with communities. They understood, in those communities, that this commitment made by the government meant that their savings, the savings they would make in their communities, would be reinvested in their communities to provide better care for the people in that community.

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

Mrs McLeod: The minister has indicated that those communities may get some of the savings, but not all of them. I think the people who are working hard to make the system better deserve to know exactly what share of those savings they're going to get. I ask the minister if he will tell us what percentage of those savings the communities can keep and can put back into health care in their communities. Is it going to be 50 cents on the dollar, or 20 cents on the dollar? Exactly what is their share going to be?

Hon Jim Wilson (Minister of Health): I appreciate the question from the honourable member. It's an important policy matter and one which our government has been very clear on.


The fact of the matter is, if we look at the interim report of the Metropolitan Toronto District Health Council and their hospital restructuring study, we notice that that report indicates that there are reinvestments to be made in Metropolitan Toronto. But in no way is that report asking for the full amount of savings to be reinvested in Metro, because that district health council, along with all the other district health councils in the province, realizes that investments have to be made in priority areas throughout the province. That's the commitment of this government, and we'll be guided by those local studies.

Mrs McLeod: Let me ask you very specifically about the Windsor restructuring project, because yesterday representatives of Windsor hospitals and the Essex County District Health Council met with your officials to get your very specific response to Windsor's proposals to restructure their health care system.

I think you know that people in Windsor have worked very long and very hard to come up with a proposal that would maintain quality health care in Windsor with savings of up to $22 million per year. In fact I think Windsor has been seen as a leader in coming up with exactly the kind of restructuring along with the savings that you believe are needed. Now they're looking for an answer from you as to how much of those savings they will be able to reinvest in their community.

Once again, your officials either couldn't or wouldn't tell them. They would not provide any details. So I'm going to ask you, on behalf of the people in Windsor, what portion of the savings generated by their hard work will be reinvested in health care in that community, and how much are you going to scoop up to pay down the deficit?

Hon Mr Wilson: If we were to follow the formula suggested by the honourable member, and that is that we can only invest dollars in a community once they've found the savings, we could never get started on restructurings. Windsor is a perfect example. It needs several millions of dollars from other parts of the health care system and other parts of the province in order to make its capital renovations to get on to saving, down the road, that $22 million a year.

So it's exactly our point: I have to take money from other parts of the system to invest up front in these communities that are to restructure and that are asking us for help in restructuring, and that money has to come from other parts in the system as an upfront investment. Down the road, we will reinvest savings out of the $22 million in the Windsor community --

Mr Dwight Duncan (Windsor-Walkerville): Where do you come from?

The Speaker: Order.

Hon Mr Wilson: -- as guided by that community and their restructuring study.

Mr Duncan: Shame on you.

The Speaker: Order. The member for Windsor-Walkerville is out of order, and I won't warn him again.

Hon Mr Wilson: You've got to get it from somewhere else.

Mrs McLeod: This government committed itself to sharing any savings from restructuring with the communities. There weren't conditions and caveats put on that. They made a commitment to share the savings, and I am simply asking this minister what kind of a share communities can expect to get, because I think communities across this province are going to look to Windsor. But it's a test case for you, Minister, because every community, whether it is Windsor or Ottawa or Toronto or Sudbury or Thunder Bay, where there are restructuring studies going on is going to wonder what incentive there will be for them to make these kinds of savings.

I have a document that came out before the election campaign which talked about Mike Harris's five commitments to health care. Number 3 is, "A Harris government will encourage front-line health care administrators in local communities to develop new means of delivering existing services."

Minister, I suggest to you that there is one kind of encouragement those communities need, and that is the incentive of being able to use those savings to improve the health care for people in their communities, and yet you will not offer any assurance, you will make no commitment to Windsor or to any other community.

I ask you today to give the people of Windsor and Toronto and Ottawa and Sudbury and Thunder Bay and all those communities doing restructuring studies a clear commitment that the dollars they save in their communities will go back to provide health care in their communities.

Hon Mr Wilson: I would hope the overriding incentive of those communities -- and I know that the overriding incentive of those communities -- is not the carrots put out by the previous government that may have said, "You'll get a dollar-for-dollar exchange in this restructuring."

The fact of the matter is, the overall incentive, I know, from talking to those communities, having met with Windsor on August 29, is that they want to improve quality of health care and the availability of health care to the people of Windsor. That is their incentive, and they very much understand that we have to take money from other areas of the health care system in order for them to get started on their restructuring, and we're having that discussion right now.

If we were to fund something like the Ottawa Heart Institute based on the honourable member's formula, which says just the people who live in that community pay some sort of a per-head share of that institute, then what about the people from all over eastern Ontario, North Bay and Thunder Bay who have access to that institute? That Heart Institute serves beyond Ottawa-Carleton. Money comes from other parts of the health care system, as an example, to beef up that institute so that a vast majority of Canadians in eastern Ontario, or Ontarians, have access to that institute.

A dollar-for-dollar formula doesn't make sense. The caveat in the system is to improve the quality of care. That's the level of cooperation I'm getting from the front-line providers, that's the level of cooperation we're seeing in these restructuring studies, and I commend the local people for that understanding of the system.


Mr Bob Rae (York South): I have a question to the Premier. No doubt the people of the province who look at newspaper headlines will be rather surprised to find out that there are two completely different interpretations of comments the Premier made yesterday with respect to taxation. Now, that's not news, but that's interesting.

I wonder if the Premier could perhaps help us out, because there are a great many people who have seen the promise of a 30% tax cut, half of which would come in year one, as being an absolutely rock-solid commitment by the government. I wonder if the Premier can confirm in fact that that is the case.

Hon Michael D. Harris (Premier): I appreciate the question because yesterday in a scrum, I think, and in response to the same question -- the leader of the New Democratic Party is quite right -- there were two different headlines. All I can do is tell you that I was asked, as a result of the slowdown, to create jobs and get the economy moving and consumer confidence: Could I cut taxes sooner than our first budget? In response to that I said I'd like to, but the mess we were left is so big, then balancing the massive overspending that was there and balancing for the deficit, that I felt it would be most responsible to wait until our first budget. In this case I would say that the Toronto Star had it quite accurately and the Globe and Mail did not.

Mr David S. Cooke (Windsor-Riverside): What do you think of their editorials?

Mr Rae: I think they're both wonderful newspapers myself. They've certainly treated me with great kindness over the years.

But I wonder if the Premier can tell us, is this commitment to the 15% tax cut in year one good regardless of what happens with respect to economic growth in the revenue situation in the province over the next six months and the projections which may be changed as a result of the various changes that are taking place across the country? Is the Premier saying that regardless of what is happening on the revenue side, regardless of what takes place in the economy, regardless of any other events that may take place, the commitments that are made are simply not going to be changed? Is that what the Premier is saying?

Hon Mr Harris: You know, for the last 10 years we've had governments tax and tax and tax and try and spend. I believe the member's first budget said: "You know, we're a little smarter than all the other nine provinces. We're going to spend our way out of this recession by spending government money, money that we don't have, and run up a $10-billion deficit."

Quite frankly, that did not work and government spending did not stimulate the economy. Now we have economist after economist telling us that we need -- including, by the way, the Canadian Labour Congress talking about the declining purchasing power. That's what's undermining the ability of consumers to help spend the economy out of the recession -- not government, consumers.


I agree with the Canadian Labour Congress senior economist Kevin Hayes that, if we want jobs in this province, and that's what we want and that's what we were elected for, we must encourage consumer confidence. Nothing will do that better than getting our personal income tax rates more in line with other jurisdictions and putting those dollars in the hands of people. They will in turn create the jobs. The answer, quite simply, is yes. It's what we ran on, it's what we committed to and it's what we will do.

Mr Rae: I take it then, from what the Premier is saying, since that commitment is rock solid, regardless of what else is happening on the revenue side, that if the government finds that its revenues are falling more seriously as a result of the recession, or whatever you want to call what's happened in the last few months, and its determination to persist in the tax cut regardless of circumstances, regardless of anything else happening in the world -- this is an ideological commitment which the government has made -- can we interpret that to mean, therefore, that with the decline in revenue and with the clear warning from all the rating agencies that the income tax cut is, to quote DBRS, our friends and friends of all governments -- when they say the largest single hurdle to the balanced fiscal track projected in the plan and the CSR is the 30% personal income tax cut, can the Premier therefore confirm for the House that the magnitude of the cuts that will be required this year to keep the province on fiscal track will be far, far larger than anything intimated in the Common Sense Revolution?

Hon Mr Harris: When we looked over the last five years at the record of the member's government, the tax instruments the New Democratic Party brought in --


Hon Mr Harris: And the Finance minister who slammed us with these deficits is now interjecting. I would have thought his record would have spoken well enough for itself. It did in the campaign anyway. The New Democratic Party hiked taxes over three budgets the equivalent of about $4 billion. Obviously it depends on economic activity. Had it been higher, it could have been more, or it may have been a little less. What we are dealing with is about $4 billion.

In our commitment, when we were drafting the commitment to cut taxes, we said, you know, the New Democratic Party hiked taxes about $4 billion, destroyed all these jobs, put more people on welfare, destroyed hope and opportunity for women and children in the future of this province, and it was a backwards policy.

I can give you 50 quotes if you want, from DBRS and from Wood Gundy and from other economists who have indicated that if you want jobs in this province and you want growth and you want a future, don't do what the New Democratic Party did; in fact do the opposite. That's what we're doing: reducing spending, getting it under control; at the same time we get our tax rates back down to where they were pre-Bob Rae. That's what the rates in Ontario will be.

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

Mr Rae: That's hubris, spelled h-u-b-r-i-s, Mr Speaker.


Mr Bob Rae (York South): The question I have is to the Minister of Community and Social Services. I wanted to ask the minister some questions which arise out of the answers that he's given over the last several days on this issue of the change in the definition of "disability" and "disabled people" and one can only presume the change in the definition of "permanently unemployable people" and the government's plan to create something called an "income support plan" for people who are disabled and seniors.

Could the minister now tell us, is it the government's intention to proceed by way of regulatory change again or is it the government's intention to bring in legislation which would allow for a process of dialogue with the people of the province? How is it that the government plans to change the definition of "disabled" and to deal with the question of the permanently unemployable, having made its mistake?

Hon David H. Tsubouchi (Minister of Community and Social Services): This all speaks to the basic problem of the system as it exists today. The problem is of course, and we recognize as a party, that the disabled community should not be on the welfare system. Certainly the previous government had the opportunity to change the system, and in fact it chose not to do so. We're having consultations at this minute with the disabled community to get their input into things. That's why right now there have been no decisions made.

Mr Rae: There's a major difference in terms of consultation; there's a major difference in terms of the members of the Legislature and members of the public having a chance to see what rules are being changed. One of the things we've all realized -- I hope the minister has realized it and certainly we've all realized it; it was with the stroke of two pens, the pen that was in your hand and the pen that was in the hand of the chairman of cabinet -- regulatory changes can be made which affect the fate of tens of thousands of people.

I don't know about you, Minister, but I think a lot of people woke up and suddenly realized that you have an extraordinary amount of power and so does the chairman of cabinet. All you have to do, the two of you, is, with the stroke of those pens, affect the fate of tens of thousands of people.

Speaking on behalf of members of my party, and I would suspect for a few other people around here, I don't want that to happen again. If it was a mistake, I don't want it repeated.

The mistake was trying to do too much by way of regulation; affecting too much the condition of people by unilateral, regulatory change which is in the exclusive hands of two people. It's absurd. No people should have that kind of power in their hands.

Therefore, Minister, I'm asking you, will you commit today that you will make no further changes to the condition of life of people who are disabled or who are permanently unemployable without a full process of bringing in legislation, full debate in the House, full discussion with the disabled community, first, second and third reading, a full and adequate public debate with hearings across the province? Will you at least give that assurance today so that people aren't subject to the whim of your pen?

Hon Mr Tsubouchi: It's very refreshing to find that finally the leader of the third party and myself can agree on something in the House. Certainly neither of us want anything like this to happen again. Certainly we've taken steps to assure it doesn't happen again, and since it was brought up once again, the mistake has been corrected.

We fully intend to make sure that we treat the disabled community with sensitivity in all matters. We have a commitment to the disabled community. Our commitment is to make sure that they're treated fairly, and certainly being on the welfare system right now does not recognize that.

Mr Rae: There are two ways to take people off the welfare system: You can either change the law or, with the stroke of a pen, you can cancel people's benefits, you can redefine them; you can redefine "disability."

Hon Noble Villeneuve (Minister of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs, minister responsible for francophone affairs): Uh-uh.

Mr Rae: The Minister of Agriculture says, "Uh-uh." Well, it's true. You can redefine "disability" the way you've done it.


Mr Rae: If he wants to rephrase his interjection, I would have no objection.

I would say directly to the minister, he surely understands this simple difference. It's a simple difference, but it has major impact. You either commit as a government to legislation or you commit as a minister to say: "I know best. I promise in a paternalistic way" -- and if I may say, sir, your answer was exceptionally paternalistic when you said to the disabled people, "Don't worry; we'll take care of you."


The disabled people of this province don't want your charity; they want justice and they want due process. That's what they want. That's what they require. Will you commit, Minister, not to being paternalistic about it and not just saying, "I'll try not to make another mistake again," if indeed it was a mistake, but to legislation which will ensure that there will be no further whimsical, arbitrary mistakes made by you and the member for Leeds-Grenville in signing that document and in cutting people off their benefits until it was discovered by mistake?

Hon Mr Tsubouchi: Once again I'm delighted to be able to agree with the leader of the third party. We both want to have justice for the disabled community. In fact, we have as a party indicated clearly, through the election and clearly now today and into the future, that the disabled community is a priority for us. Certainly our aim is to make sure that the disabled community is treated with equity, fairness and sensitivity, and that's what this government is committed to do.


Mr Mike Colle (Oakwood): To the Minister of Transportation: Minister, as you know, when your government scrapped photo-radar they assured the province and the motorists across Ontario that they were going to introduce some very comprehensive new safety measures. Yet all we've seen from you in recent weeks is cutbacks to safety.

For instance, on Monday we found out that you arbitrarily cut $6.5 million from snowplowing, sanding, salting on our highways, and basically reducing safety in winter conditions.

Today we see another safety initiative on the chopping block, and that is the emergency safety patrol which has helped motorists in the GTA and on your highways. For years they have served as a safety partner for the motorists on the highways. Yet this is now on the chopping block.

I ask you, Minister, how can you justify standing up and giving lip service to safety when you're cutting back on safety on a daily basis in this province? How do you justify that?

Hon Al Palladini (Minister of Transportation): This government is committed to fiscal responsibility, and this particular program is a duplication of services. I would like to assure the public that presently the private sector is handling that service quite capably.

Mr Colle: Again, I find that really astonishing that the minister is basically passing off to the private sector the safety of the motorists on Ontario highways.

I don't know if the minister realizes that the emergency safety patrol helped over 1,500 motorists last month, that these men and women on the emergency safety patrol are of great benefit to the people who are stranded on our highways.

I wonder, when will the minister realize that you can't leave safety out there -- you're playing Russian roulette with people's safety -- and hope that perhaps some tow truck driver will come around and take care of the job that you're supposed to be doing, and not to pass the buck to someone out there on a whim? When are you going to take safety as a priority and put people's lives ahead of cuts? When are you going to put safety ahead of cuts, Minister?

Hon Mr Palladini: We still have the OPP out there, who are going to help our people who are stranded. We have highway cameras that will identify a breakdown or an accident, where we can quickly respond. Most people have a cellular phone in their car, and the most important thing about this is that we are eliminating --


The Speaker (Hon Allan K. McLean): Order. Would the member take his seat, please.

Mr Howard Hampton (Rainy River): Point of privilege, Mr Speaker.

The Speaker: When the Speaker is standing, the members will resume their seats. Would the minister finish his question. The member for Lake Nipigon.

Mr Gilles Pouliot (Lake Nipigon): My rights as a member -- and I'm offended. Where I live we can see the earth's curvature, never mind your cell phone. How can the minister generalize on behalf of everybody, including the poor people in Lake Nipigon? Shame on you, Minister.


The Speaker: Order. New question, third party. Leader of the third party.

Mr Hampton: Mr Speaker, I would wish that I had the privilege of using a cell phone in my part of the province. There are no functioning cell phones for MPPs or anyone else --

The Speaker: Order. The member's out of order. New question, third party.


Mr Bob Rae (York South): I also have a question for the Minister of Transportation. Minister, I wanted to ask you a question about the Eglinton West subway, which is an issue that I think a great many people feel very strongly about across the city of Toronto and indeed in all of the greater Toronto area.

I wonder if the minister can confirm that while the startup costs for the subway in the first year of construction were $53 million, it's going to cost as much as $41.9 million for the wind-down and the close-out. In other words, you're going to be spending almost as much to close down the project as was originally spent with respect to the startup of the project.

I wonder if the minister can explain the logic of this kind of cost. I wonder if he can explain the logic of cutting off thousands of jobs in construction and thousands of jobs in other areas as a result of the construction. And what kind of hope can he offer to those people who have seen this project as an important element of building a civilized community in the northwestern part of Toronto?

Hon Al Palladini (Minister of Transportation): The honourable member also knows the fiscal situation that his government put us in. We had absolutely no choice but to be responsible people and managers.

It's very plain and simple: This province, the people of Ontario, cannot afford the Eglinton subway. We don't have the money and we cannot afford to carry the debt.

Mr Rae: Well, it's the person sitting next to him who a year and a half ago spoke these words quoted in the Toronto Star on February 12, 1994. He says: "You can never get a major project done because there's always an election. Every three years you have a new bunch of clowns trying to make a name for themselves." I therefore want to ask the minister: Given the comments that the Premier made earlier in which the Premier clearly stated that the first priority was the tax cut, and it's the tax cut that's driving the size of all the other expenditure cuts that you're making -- that's exactly what's taking place --


Mr Rae: You don't like it. It's exactly there. You don't like it but it's true.

I want to ask the minister --


The Speaker (Hon Allan K. McLean): Order. The Minister of Housing is out of order.

Mr Rae: I want to ask the minister directly this question: Does he not see that an investment of this kind, an investment in GO Transit, an investment in improving the basic infrastructure of Metropolitan Toronto, is an investment that is important not for the next three years, not for the next five years, but for the next 20, 30 and 40 years? And is he really saying that he can't conceive of this project going ahead? Is that what he's telling the people of Toronto today?

Hon Mr Palladini: I would like to, number one, assure the honourable member that this government is committed to balance the budget. Also, I would like to inform the honourable member that this government is interested in and committed to giving the people of Ontario a balanced transportation system. That is our commitment.


Mr Frank Miclash (Kenora): I have a question for the Minister of Health. Minister, you will know that several months ago you granted eight Bill 50 exemptions to help address the problems of doctor shortages in northern Ontario communities. Minister, these exemptions helped to address the shortage of specialists in eight communities, of course including one which was Kenora, in my riding.


Unfortunately, there are still dozens of other communities in the north and indeed across this province which are still in urgent need of physicians and specialists. Dryden, as the minister will know, has been searching for a general surgeon for over three years. That's three years, again to the Minister of Health. Now Sioux Lookout again is in need of a surgeon, and compared to Dryden they've only begun their search.

Can the minister explain what he is doing to ensure that the people of Sioux Lookout and Dryden will not have to wait another three years until their needs are met?

Hon Jim Wilson (Minister of Health): I sincerely do appreciate the question from the member for Kenora in that we have discussed this among ourselves, I've discussed it with other representatives from the north -- just a few weeks back, of course, with the North Shore communities. A massive number of representatives from that area were down around the AMO conference and the Honourable -- ex-Honourable -- Gilles Pouliot was there.

Interjections: Oh.

Hon Mr Wilson: He's still an honourable member, but he's not a cabinet minister.

It's a serious matter. I have signed Bill 50 exemptions for quite a few physicians to come into this province where we couldn't get physicians to come out of Metro Toronto, for example, or out of our med schools and go into these underserviced areas. I live in a community that's only 55 minutes north of Toronto that also has the same problem -- not on the scale that you face in your riding -- and I am prepared as a matter of policy and I've said it very clearly that if those communities find a physician from out of province and that physician is qualified by the College of Physicians and Surgeons in Ontario, at this present time I will not hesitate to grant a Bill 50 exemption.

Mr Miclash: Let me remind the minister of some of the things that he and his leader said about this issue when they sat on this side of the House. In December 1991, Mr Harris said, "Many northern Ontario residents are now seriously concerned about access to specialists in the north." In May 1993, you, Minister, said to the NDP minister of the time, "Minister, your government's slash-and-burn assault on health care has put the people of northern Ontario in a precarious position" by rationing physicians' services. In July 1993, you said, again to the then Minister of Health, "Because of your failure to deal with this critical shortage of specialists, the problem has reached a boiling point in northern Ontario."

In the last two years, nothing has really changed except your point of view. Will you give your assurance and commitment to the people of northern Ontario and the people of Dryden and Sioux Lookout that their health care needs will be met?

Hon Mr Wilson: I'm doing everything I can to ensure that we live up to the commitment that I know all members of this House from all parties share, and that is what the honourable member mentioned, to ensure that his constituents and the people of Ontario get the health care that they need and indeed deserve, because they all pay taxes in this province and medicare is to be universally accessible.

Something has changed and I want to just correct, perhaps, the honourable member on one point. Something has changed and that is, for the first time in several months, the government of the day is sitting down with the OMA in very serious discussions and coming forward with solutions in a partnership to solve the problem the honourable member is talking about. It has been some months since the government was the NDP government and in fact I would say during their term of office it's been a long time since serious discussions around this issue have occurred. Those discussions are occurring right now and I'm very confident that we're going to come forward with a solution in the very near future.


Mr David S. Cooke (Windsor-Riverside): I have a question to the Minister of Community and Social Services. I've already raised with the minister before concerns of our caucus with respect to cutbacks to the children's aid societies and the major cuts in staff at Halton, at the Frontenac children's aid, at the Durham children's aid, Metro Catholic children's aid, Hastings children's aid and Thunder Bay.

Today, I'd like to raise with the minister the major cuts that are going to take place at the children's aid of Metropolitan Toronto; announced recently that they will not fill any of their staff vacancies, only by exemption, leaving more than 40 full-time vacancies by the end of this year. They're also going to terminate an additional 10 staff members who are on contract positions, and those are the cuts only put in place this year to deal with the 5% cut in budgets to the children's aid societies that you've already announced. There will be more major cuts next year.

When we were in government, and I'm sure the same is the case now for you, the ministry always prepared impact statements. I'd like the minister today to tell us what the impacts are at the children's aid societies of the cuts and what the impact will be on children, either in the care of children's aids or that are being supervised by the children's aid societies. What were those impacts and would you file those impact statements with the House?

Hon David H. Tsubouchi (Minister of Community and Social Services): Caring for our children is a priority for our government, and that's why we're spending over $335 million a year in support of children's aid societies, and across this province they can provide services for children in need.

It would be uncaring to go on with the status quo and pretend, as past governments have, that there are no consequences. There are a lot of consequences and it's time right now for us to look. It's time to pay the piper and, frankly, we are there and we're going to assure people that we are going to protect the children.

Mr Cooke: If you read that answer, I think people would agree it doesn't make any sense.

The cuts to the children's aid society is going to mean that there are fewer law enforcement officers to enforce the Family and Children's Services Act. I'd like to ask the minister very simply, can he guarantee to the House and to the public that all responses to complaints about reports of alleged physical or sexual abuse, all the time lines in the act will be met and that all regulations with respect to regular visits to monitor the progress of children in the care of the children's aid societies or families under supervision under the Family and Children's Services Act will be met, and if they are not met, he will take total responsibility himself?

Hon Mr Tsubouchi: The children's aid societies will continue to live up to their legal obligations and we will continue to provide resources to help them in order for them to meet their legal mandate.

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

Mr Frank Sheehan (Lincoln): Let me offer my belated formal congratulations on your election as Speaker.


Mr Frank Sheehan (Lincoln): I have a question for the Attorney General. It's recently been reported that you are lobbying the federal government to strengthen legislation regarding hate crimes. Efforts to protect Ontarians from hate crimes and racism are admirable. What the people of Ontario would like to know is, is the government lobbying the federal government for new hate legislation?

Hon Charles Harnick (Attorney General, minister responsible for native affairs): I thank the member for Lincoln for a good question. Ontario is not lobbying the federal government regarding issues pertaining to hate crimes. We are at the present time part of a federal-provincial working group involving most provinces in this country, looking at the existing hate crimes and making a determination as to whether they are sufficient and, if not, what kinds of changes should be made. That is the involvement that the Ontario government has in looking at an issue of important potential law reform.

Mr Sheehan: Ontarians are concerned about freedom of speech and association. What are you doing to ensure that when you're combating hate crimes, you are not infringing on freedom of speech for the average Ontarian?

Hon Mr Harnick: As I have indicated, there is a federal-provincial working group looking at hate laws and looking at how they can perhaps be made better. In the course of doing that, those hate laws must stand up to the Charter of Rights and Freedoms in this province. That would be the protection we all desire in terms of freedom of speech and freedom of expression, and that is very much part of the work this group is doing.


Mr Gerry Phillips (Scarborough-Agincourt): My question would have been to the Premier, but he had to leave early, and understandably, so I'll ask the question to the Chair of Management Board. Last week, as the minister will know, the government released a report showing that the economy, in the first six months of the year, was in a negative growth position, technically in a recession. You also released last week a report showing that Ontario had lost 32,000 jobs from December to September. After two years of growth, we have lost 32,000 jobs.


Earlier today the Premier confirmed that it is your intention to proceed with the $5-billion tax cut. My question is this: Knowing now what you know about the economy, and knowing that during the campaign you promised that you would cut spending by $6 billion and it is now clear that it has to be substantially higher than that, will you give the people of Ontario the number now of cuts that have to be made in order for you to balance your budget?

Hon David Johnson (Chair of the Management Board of Cabinet): I think the Premier answered that question earlier today. When we took office, we recognized a very difficult financial position: We were facing a deficit of some $10.6 billion. We felt it was incumbent upon this government to act quickly. We've done so by reducing the deficit by $1.9 billion to $8.7 billion. Further cuts, as the member for Scarborough-Agincourt has indicated, are coming. The growth in the economy is not what the previous government forecast.

Mr Floyd Laughren (Nickel Belt): Where are you taking us?

Hon David Johnson: I'm looking at the previous Minister of Finance, who indicated a growth of 4.3%. It obviously hasn't been achieved in the first quarter. We've indicated that there will be further announcements this fall. The Minister of Finance will come forward with a statement this fall with regard to the situation, particularly to the transfer partners. Next spring, there will be the first full budget of this government, which will announce the tax cuts and further reductions in expenses of the province of Ontario to lead to the balancing of the budget.

Mr Phillips: Let me just say that as we look at the numbers, whatever numbers you have revealed to us, using those it now appears that you are going to have to cut roughly $9 billion. Just so everybody in the province understands, that is a 30% cut in your spending. You said you would not touch health care, so it's 30% of everything else.

I would like you, Minister, to confirm today that the number is $9 billion. If it's not $9 billion, tell the people what it is, because we now know you are 100% committed to your tax cut. We understand that. But we want to know and the people of Ontario want to know, what does it therefore mean in terms of reduction? As we look at the numbers, it is a 30% cut in everything else. If that is not the number, give us the right number today, Minister. The people of Ontario are entitled to know that.

Hon David Johnson: I find it somewhat ironic that the member for Scarborough-Agincourt is asking the question with regard to $9 billion, because I think back to the period from 1987 to 1990, when the spending of the province of Ontario went up by $10.4 billion, a spending increase of $10.4 billion in three years of the government represented by the member for Scarborough-Agincourt. To a large degree, and I'm sure the former Minister of Finance will confirm this, that is why we're in the mess we're in today, that the spending prior to 1990 went through the roof.

As a result of the spending of that government and the deficits from the former government, yes, there are significant expenditure reductions that will have to take place.

This government is planning to live within its means, which is what the people of the province of Ontario are asking. Your answer will come in the statement of the Minister of Finance this fall and the first full budget of the minister next spring.


Mr Gilles Bisson (Cochrane South): My question is for the minister of what was formerly the Ministry of Housing. I would like to ask a question of the present Minister of Municipal Affairs and Housing.

The minister will know that today the United Tenants of Ontario is holding a press conference in our legislative precinct to speak out against some of the actions you have taken as a government up to now with regard to housing and some of the things you're planning on doing in the future.

We all know far too well what you've done around the non-profit sector. We know what you intend to do around supportive housing. We know you are now talking openly about doing away with rent control, something tenants across this province will pay for dearly and, I will say, that you will pay for dearly come the next election, because tenants won't forget that. At the same time you're moving towards the privatization of some 84,000 units across this province that filed themselves within the rent control.

The United Tenants of Ontario, in its press conference today, is going to be talking about it. I'd like to quote to you from their press release: "The landlord lobby has been declaring the end of rent control."

The Speaker (Hon Allan K. McLean): Would you put your question, please.

Mr Bisson: Here's the question: "The landlord lobby has been declaring the end of rent control. Without legislated controls...." You have put before this House and before everyone in this province that you plan on doing away with the community partners program, money that funds tenants to be able to advocate on behalf of tenants across this province to speak out on issues important to them. Do you think it's fair that you're out there muzzling tenants by pulling funding out from under their feet at the same time you're supposed to be advocating for tenants?

Hon Al Leach (Minister of Municipal Affairs and Housing): This government campaigned on a program of deficit reduction. Every government program has been and will continue to be reviewed for every saving possible. The community partners program is absolutely no exception, and while no decision has been made yet on the amount, I can tell you that they can expect to have a reduction in their program.

Mr Bisson: The problem is that most tenants out there don't have the resources available to landlords across this province to advocate on their behalf when it comes to issues of rent.

I would like to quote from a document that came to my attention just recently that talks about something actually quite alarming. This document is from the Fair Rental Policy Organization of Ontario, in which they write to their members, landlords across this province, saying the following, and this is very disturbing: "We are now working with the Mike Harris Conservatives at Queen's Park to develop a sound alternative to Ontario's infamous rent controls. If we do our jobs well, I am convinced that one year from today rent control as we know it will be just a bad memory." They go on to say that they're working with you in order to make changes in human rights legislation and the Landlord and Tenant Act.

What's even more important and very interesting is that this document says, "You, as a landlord, are not likely to meet with the Premier and Minister of Municipal Affairs and Housing on a regular basis, so we do so on your behalf."

The Speaker: Would you put your question, please.

Mr Bisson: Here comes the question: "We work daily behind the scenes" -- behind the scenes -- "with bureaucrats and political staff to create a better environment for housing across this province." Are you working behind closed doors with landlords to eliminate rent controls in this province?

Hon Mr Leach: This government works with all members of our society. We work with landlords; we work with tenants. We try and cooperate to make sure that we provide services to everybody.

We have said we will not continue with the rent control program. It doesn't work. It's not good for tenants; it's not good for landlords. We're going to get rid of the rent control program. We intend to bring in a program that will provide good protection to tenants, something they don't have now.


Mrs Lillian Ross (Hamilton West): To the Minister of Municipal Affairs and Housing: On Tuesday, October 3, in this House the minister stated, "We have been encouraging...the sponsors that were involved in the co-op housing program to go out and...get the bricks and mortar up and we'll provide the subsidies to the people of Ontario who need the help." Does this mean, Minister, that you have developed a shelter subsidy program?

Hon Al Leach (Minister of Municipal Affairs and Housing): I thank the honourable member for the question. This government has made a commitment to get out of the non-profit housing business. That was a boondoggle that is costing the taxpayers of the province of Ontario hundreds of millions of dollars a year. This government lived up to and fulfilled that commitment.

We also committed to introduce a shelter subsidy program to assist those members of our society who truly require help in their housing needs. I can guarantee you that we will live up to that question as well.

Mrs Ross: Will you give us some idea today of how long it will be before we have a shelter subsidy program in place subsidizing people and not buildings?

Hon Mr Leach: The minister and the ministry, as we speak, presently are developing the details of the program. It's going to be an extensive program, as I mentioned. We're going to ensure that it will provide benefits to tenants, benefits they don't have now, protection they don't have now. I'm very pleased to advise that we will be bringing forward a program for the shelter allowances perhaps very early in the new year, as quickly as the people in the ministry can get the facts together, and we can continue to do that.

Again, what we're interested in is not bricks and mortar; we're interested in providing protection to the tenants of Ontario.



Hon Norman W. Sterling (Minister of Consumer and Commercial Relations): I move that the House do now proceed to orders of the day.

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

All those in favour will say "aye."

All those opposed will say "nay."

In my opinion, the ayes have it.

Call in the members. This will be a 30-minute bell.

The division bells rang from 1503 to 1533.

The Speaker: Will the members take their seats, please.

All those in favour of Mr Sterling's motion will please rise and remain standing until you are counted.

All those opposed will please rise.

Clerk of the House (Mr Claude L. DesRosiers): The ayes are 71, the nays 34.

The Speaker: I declare the motion carried.



Hon Norman W. Sterling (Minister of Consumer and Commercial Relations): Order number 4.

Clerk Assistant and Clerk of Committees (Ms Deborah Deller): Fourth order, second reading of 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, Mrs Witmer.

Mr David S. Cooke (Windsor-Riverside): On a point of order, Mr Speaker, dealing with the item that has been called before the House this afternoon: The order that has been called is in fact on the order paper, but there is also another item on the order paper, and that is the government motion to establish the standing committees of the Legislature.

The rules of the House are absolutely clear. On page 72 of the rules it states, "Within the first 10 sessional days following the commencement of each session in a Parliament the membership of the following standing committees shall be appointed for the duration of the session." It does not say "may be established"; it says "shall be appointed." In other words, that motion has to be debated and the committees of the Legislature must be in the process of being established.

Mr Speaker, as I said before, it doesn't say "may," it doesn't give any discretion to you, it doesn't give any discretion to the government; it says we must proceed. It is my belief that unless we proceed with that motion today, the Legislature cannot proceed. The standing orders are absolutely clear. There's no discretion, and I'm asking that the government either call that motion, which is properly printed and notice has been given, or that you adjourn the House.

The Speaker (Hon Allan K. McLean): I will recess the House for 10 minutes and come back with my decision.

The House recessed from 1537 to 1547.

The Speaker: It is clear that our rules require that the membership of standing committees be appointed within the first 10 sessional days of the session. Yesterday was the 10th sessional day. Yesterday, the acting government House leader did move the required motion to establish committee membership. Following debate on the motion, the House agreed to the adjournment of the debate. As of today, the 11th day, the motion has not been adopted and committee members have not been approved.

I recognize that the acting government House leader did attempt to comply with the standing orders by introducing the motion yesterday. I also observe that the existence of committees is an important and necessary element for the proper functioning of this assembly. This has been ruled previously on a number of occasions.

It is only in very rare circumstances that the Speaker would use his authority to impose sanctions on this House. I can only advise the acting government House leader to take note of the situation and to take the appropriate steps, along with your colleagues in the opposition, to come to a speedy resolution of this problem. I myself am available to assist in whatever way I can.

Hon Elizabeth Witmer (Minister of Labour): Mr Speaker, I move second reading of Bill 7.

Mr Cooke: On a point of order, Mr Speaker: I just need some help understanding exactly what your ruling means. The rules are clear, as I've said, and you've indicated that, yes, the rules are clear, that you're prepared to be of assistance, and you indicated that yesterday the government House leader attempted to resolve the --

The Speaker: Order, please. I recessed for 10 minutes, I went away and came back with the decision on your point of privilege. I'm not here to debate that point of privilege; the decision has been made, so there's no further point of privilege on that order.

The member for Waterloo North?

Hon Mrs Witmer: Mr Speaker, I am pleased to move second reading of Bill 7.

The Speaker: Mrs Witmer moves second reading of Bill 7. Mrs Witmer?

Mr Howard Hampton (Rainy River): Point of order, Mr Speaker.


The Speaker: I have recognized the member for Waterloo North.

Hon Mrs Witmer: Mr Speaker, today I am moving second reading of Bill 7, An Act to restore balance and stability to labour relations and to promote economic --

Ms Frances Lankin (Beaches-Woodbine): Point of order, Mr Speaker.

The Speaker: The member for Beaches-Woodbine on a point of order.

Ms Lankin: On a point of order, Mr Speaker: I'd like to refer you to the point of order when two or more members rise at the same time under debate. I move that the member for Windsor-Riverside now be heard.

The Speaker: The motion just made is in order.

All those in favour of that motion?

All those opposed?

In my opinion, the nays have it.

Call in the members; this will be a 30-minute bell.

The division bells rang from 1552 to 1622.

The Speaker: Members take their seats, please.

All those in favour of the motion will please stand and remain standing.

All those opposed will please rise.

Clerk of the House (Mr Claude L. DesRosiers): The ayes are 28, the nays 64.

The Speaker: I declare the motion lost.

I recognize the member for Waterloo North.

Hon Mrs Witmer: I am pleased today to speak to Bill 7, an act to restore balance and stability to labour relations and to promote economic prosperity. This legislation is designed to bring about positive changes in our economy, create jobs and introduce democracy into the workplace.

In the two weeks since I introduced Bill 7, many, many individuals and employers across Ontario have telephoned and sent letters of support. Whether they are global giants or small and medium-sized firms, their message to us in this province is the same: They are ready and willing to invest in Ontario if we do proceed and restore balance to our labour relation laws. With that balance restored, a strong signal will go out to the global community that Ontario is once again open for business and jobs. We are prepared to do that. With the introduction of Bill 7 on October 4, we sent out that signal to the global community that Ontario is open for business.

In fact, almost immediately the Hudson's Bay Co announced that it would be adding 3,000 to 4,000 jobs in Ontario as a result of Bill 40's demise. The company will invest $284 million over the next 12 months, providing employment at the same time to over 10,000 workers in the construction industry. These 10,000 construction workers will be employed in areas across our province. This is just the tip of the iceberg.

In the letters we have received, we have received many, many positive comments such as this, indications from investors, whether they be in Europe or the Far East, indicating they are prepared to come; letters and phone calls indicating that although there are some individuals who have bought property in the United States, now that we are repealing Bill 40 they will not find it necessary to move their operation there.

Last week I received a letter that I would just like to share with people today. It was from the owner of a medium-sized business in Renfrew. This is what he said:

"When Bill 40 was introduced, my desire to modernize and expand my business in Renfrew was killed...our plans to add a second shift and a new production line at the cost of $1.4 million were stalled.

"However, now that your government is changing the investment climate in our province, we have commenced our studies to accomplish the expansion and modernization plans mentioned above.

"I can assure you that your approach is right on track with many, many small and medium-sized businesses."

This is just one example of employers who are now moving forward with their plans to expand their businesses and create new jobs for the employees in this province, jobs that we all know are desperately needed.

In my own area of Waterloo region, we have one employer who is expanding his operation, and he will be creating 100 additional factory jobs for the people in our area.

These are the type of positive responses that we have been hearing. We will see, in the next months and years, the creation of new jobs for the people in this province.

Under Bill 7, Ontario workers will have the same fundamental rights to organize and bargain collectively that they have enjoyed for half a century. There are many direct benefits to the workers. Not only will there be the job growth that I have indicated will result, but the fact that many of the amendments that we are bringing forward will bring greater democracy into the workplace.

Bill 7 is in step with what workers need today. What could make more sense than to allow the individual worker more democratic options in making one of the most important decisions of their working life, whether or not to be represented by a trade union?

I would now like to give some more details about the contents of Bill 7. Bill 7 proposes to make the whole process of certification and collective bargaining more responsive to individual workers. Under Bill 7, a secret ballot vote will be required for every certification application. Currently, there is no requirement that any vote take place if it can be demonstrated that more than 55% of workers in a workplace support the trade union.

The evidence of support that is presented is usually in the form of signed membership cards. However, we have discovered that between signing these cards and certification, there are some employees who may change their minds. We have also discovered that there are other employees who may not even be aware that an organizing drive is going on. Under Bill 40 these workers had no democratic way to make their wishes known.


This will now change. The right to a secret ballot vote will be there for all employees in this province, a right that the workers in Alberta, Nova Scotia and Newfoundland already have. Our proposals will mean that someone who signs a union card and then has a change of mind will now be able to register that change in a secret ballot vote.

Having the backstop of a secret ballot vote allows us to remove many of the features of the current act which prompt litigation. This will result in a more streamlined, effective and cost-efficient certification process.

The Ontario Labour Relations Board will carry out these new certification votes within five business days after receiving the application of the union to represent a group of employees. This short, five-day timetable will limit the opportunity of employers and unions to intimidate or coerce workers, so it will result in a process that is fair to all parties.

The secret ballot vote will now become the most accurate and democratic way to determine the workers' wishes, and for the first time, all employees will be aware of the fact that there is a certification going to be taking place.

Similarly, we are --


The Deputy Speaker (Mr Bert Johnson): The House will come to order.

Hon Mrs Witmer: Similarly, we are introducing a mandatory secret ballot to be held to authorize any strikes or ratify a contract. These votes are now, and will remain, union-supervised.

In many cases now strike votes are not held or they are held early on in the bargaining process when employees are not in the best position to make informed decisions.

These measures are in keeping with our desire to strengthen the role of the individual worker in the decision-making process and to enhance democracy in the workplace.

Bill 7 also rewords the purpose clause of the act. This is a statement which explains what the legislation is designed to accomplish. Bill 7 rewords the purpose clause to acknowledge the importance of economic growth as the foundation for harmonious labour relations. It also recognizes the need for flexibility and productivity in the workplace.

As I said, these proposals lay the groundwork for the balanced labour relations climate that we are trying to create. Bill 7 is the product of many months and years of consultation that goes back to when our party was in opposition. Both employers and organized labour participated in the exchange of information and ideas, and the result is the bill that now is before this House.

The government has made a number of changes to the pre-Bill 40 Labour Relations Act which will address the situation of workers who exercised new bargaining rights as a result of Bill 40, and, again, we are very, very pleased that we were able to respond to the suggestions that were put forward by the stakeholders during the consultation process during the summer.

For instance, Bill 7 provides protection against reprisals for any employee who exercised bargaining rights under the NDP labour law.

Among the transitional provisions contained in Bill 7 are amendments which now permit mixed units of security guards and non-guards. Under the proposed new rules, they can continue bargaining together when the employer and union agree and where there is no conflict of interest. We heard from the stakeholders, and we have moved forward on section 12.

Bargaining units of full-time and part-time employees combined under Bill 40 can stay combined. This will apply except when the employer or the union objects and the Ontario Labour Relations Board rules that it is no longer appropriate for them to bargain together.

Contract tendering provisions introduced in Bill 40 are replaced by provisions which will provide greater flexibility to employers in the building security, cleaning and foodservice business. These new measures will ensure that any employees retained by a new contractor will continue to accumulate vacation time and other entitlements earned with their previous employer.

But I should reiterate one point. With the exception of the proposals that I have talked about today -- that is, the changes to the purpose clause and also the changes to introduce democracy into the workplace and also our proposal to deal with the communication and the provision of information to the workers before they make decisions -- the pre-Bill 40 Labour Relations Act will remain almost unchanged from where it was prior to January 1, 1993.

Our amendments introduced move us forward. They move us forward in a way that we are responding to the needs of the modern workplace. For many years now, workers have asked for the opportunity for a secret ballot vote. We have provided them with that. We have strengthened the democratic rights of workers so that they will be free of coercion or intimidation from either unions or employers.

With these amendments, the Labour Relations Act will return to playing a constructive role in our economy. It will provide the balanced laws and regulations that will encourage management and labour to reach collective agreements, as well as resolve grievances and other workplace disputes. We all know that Ontario's labour relations have been a model of peace and stability for almost 50 years.

In addition to the proposals I have just outlined, Bill 7 also makes major changes to two other labour acts.

Bill 7 repeals, in its entirety, Bill 91, the NDP's Agricultural Labour Relations Act. The agricultural sector was originally excluded from the Labour Relations Act, primarily because of the seasonal makeup of its workforce and perishable nature of its products.

Bill 7 also makes changes to the legislation overseeing the government's labour relations with its unionized employees to reflect the repeal of Bill 40 and to remove significant legal and financial restraints on the government's ability to restructure the Ontario Public Service.

My colleagues the Minister of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs and the Chair of Management Board will provide statements on these issues in the near future.

Mr David Christopherson (Hamilton Centre): Sell it to your friends so they don't have to pay the worker a decent wage. That's what that is all about.

The Deputy Speaker: I would ask the member from Hamilton Centre to withdraw from the chamber.

Mr Gilles Pouliot (Lake Nipigon): What? On a point of order, Mr Speaker.

The Deputy Speaker: Would you please take your seat. I will be naming the member for Hamilton Centre.

Mr Bud Wildman (Algoma): With no warning? Come on.

Mr Hampton: No, no. Learn the rules: You warn and then you name. This is not a kangaroo court. You don't make up the rules as you go along, no matter how large your majority.

Mr Ted Arnott (Wellington): The Speaker has the right.

Mr Hampton: No, you don't.

Mr Pouliot: There is a protocol here.

Mr Hampton: There is a protocol. Half of you would never have been allowed in here with the stuff you used to pull. Where would Stockwell be? Where would Wilson have been? They never would have been allowed in this Legislature.

The Deputy Speaker: I stand corrected. I stand in this House because I don't know all of the rules and like I'm asking everyone else to, I want to go by them as well. The member for Hamilton Centre will consider this a warning.


Hon Mrs Witmer: Many employers inside and outside the province are indicating that this bill will improve the business climate in Ontario. They are saying they are ready to invest and to create badly needed jobs. I have also heard from individual workers who look forward to the increased democratic rights that they will soon enjoy, rights that will give them a much stronger voice in making important workplace decisions.

These comments indicate that our labour law reforms will bring about positive change for both workers and employers. It is time that we get Ontario's economy back on track and fulfil this province's potential to create jobs and generate prosperity.

That's why I urge all members of this House to grant this bill a speedy second reading.

The Deputy Speaker: Comments and questions from the minister's speech?

Mr Ron Johnson (Brantford): I want to say that it gives me a great deal of pleasure today to rise and speak to the comments of my honourable colleague Mrs Elizabeth Witmer. I can tell you that Bill 7 is going to restore the balance between business and labour in this province.

What makes it especially pleasing to me is that it is consistent with our Common Sense Revolution commitment for jobs and prosperity for the working people of this province. It's funny, because every time we hear the members opposite talk about Bill 40 they talk about it as if it was the great revolution of their own to create jobs in this province. But the reality is that what Bill 40 did was drive jobs out of this province and deter investment from this province. That's what Bill 40 did and we're correcting that today.

I just want to add a brief comment, a letter here that I have from the Ontario Restaurant Association, a media release, actually. Let me just quote something that they say:

"This measure is welcome news to restaurant and foodservice operators, who can" look forward to "greater investment in this province and...stronger economic growth. The limitations imposed under" the NDP labour law "resulted in" great "uncertainty and had a tremendous negative impact on the hospitality industry...."

That is from the Ontario Restaurant Association, which we all know employs thousands of people in this province. I can tell you that this is a sign of things to come in the province of Ontario once Bill 7 is implemented.

Mr Dwight Duncan (Windsor-Walkerville): I shall use my two minutes to comment on the minister's speech and at the appropriate time I'll go into greater detail.

The minister spoke briefly on second reading and we will be speaking as well, albeit for a much longer period of time. The minister was brief and we will be discussing a number of amendments that we will be proposing to the bill that we hope will address some of the minor changes that happen as a result of Bill 7 in committee, and hopefully the government will listen to those. We're getting representations to us from labour and business about minor amendments, minor reforms that I think are in everybody's best interest.

The minister was brief and I appreciate that. I won't take any more time on that topic now, except to say that I believe although you can be brief in this House, the response out there and the response of working people in this province will not allow what you're doing to just go away. We will be dealing with the consequences as a province and working people will be dealing with the consequences of this government's bill for many, many years to come.

So, Minister, at the appropriate time, I will address more detailed comments with respect to the bill and we will be bringing forward some amendments that we think the government will find acceptable, and probably would agree to, that will make the bill a better bill, in any event on small things.

Mr Christopherson: Three quick points: First, I would again urge the minister to agree to province-wide public hearings because the best response to the points that she has made today will come from the communities that have benefited from Bill 40. That's the best opportunity for Ontarians to put forward the fact that the position of this government around Bill 40 that it killed jobs is not true. The history is there to be seen. In fact, that's why you don't want to go out in the province, because you know you'll be proven wrong and we would only hope, Minister, that you will ultimately agree that people have a right to have a say in a fundamental change to the way labour relations are conducted in this province.

Secondly, you have talked about consultations. Minister, there has been no consultation. You call what you did in opposition and talking to your friends during the summer when this Legislature wasn't even sitting consultation. It was not. Go and ask the labour leaders who did not have an opportunity of input, and now you're not even allowing the communities that are affected by this to have a say. You don't want anyone to have a say. You want to cut your deal with your friends and bring in your legislation that takes care of your pals.

Thirdly, Minister, I want to make the point that the thrust of your legislation is that it's going to create jobs and that it's going to make Ontario open for business. I agree with my colleague from the Liberal Party that we'll get a chance to get into this in some detail, but the reality is, you want to have Ontario compete and be competitive in the global economy by lowering the wages of workers, lowering health and safety standards, lowering environmental standards so that we can compete with Mexico and other Third World nations.

We did reject that as a government and we continue to reject it as a party. We need to compete where we have value added jobs, where we're benefiting from the infrastructure of our communities, where we're benefiting from our health system, from our education system, where we can compete globally as being the best, not offering up the worst of what competition does.

Minister, if you allow us to go out into the province and talk to the people of Ontario, I believe that point will be made.


Mr Marcel Beaubien (Lambton): It's my pleasure to say a few words on Bill 7 and support the minister today.

With regard to Bill 40, it did kill jobs, it did chase businesses out of this province and it did increase the welfare rolls. Furthermore, people lost their own personal dignity. If that's what we call social conscience, I would call it immoral.

Avec le projet de loi 7, on va créer des positions dans l'économie en Ontario aujourd'hui, pas le droit aux unions plutôt.

Bill 7 will create jobs. It will restore the economy to a healthy status and to a healthy level. Union members in my own riding have told me they support Bill 7. To say that union members do not, that's incorrect. They do support Bill 7 because they will finally have the right to a democratic vote.

We said during the campaign that we would repeal Bill 40. We have lived up to that. We are repealing Bill 40.

Hon Mrs Witmer: I would just like to express my appreciation to the critic in the Liberal Party, the member for Windsor-Walkerville, for his comments. Yes, we are already meeting with individuals who have indicated there are changes, both on the labour side and management side. We're prepared to make the changes to Bill 7, obviously to make it better and responsive in order that it does meet the needs of all of the stakeholders.

I look forward to his comments in order that we can have the best possible legislation for all of the stakeholders.

In response to the member for Hamilton Centre, I would simply indicate that the debate regarding the Labour Relations Act, as you well know, has been ongoing now since 1991. This is just now finally, we hope, coming to an end. We know, we have heard, there is going to be job creation. We have restored the balance in labour relations. In fact, your own newspaper in Hamilton has an editorial saying, "Restoring The Balance," a very positive editorial in support of the actions we have taken.

I appreciate the comments from the members within my own party as well for the support that they're giving on Bill 7. We look forward to soon seeing some very positive results in order that we can compete with countries throughout this world for new jobs. I hope we can do that quickly.

Hon Mr Sterling: On a point of order, Mr Speaker: I seek unanimous consent, because of the expressions of the Speaker before, to call and pass the sixth order of business, to appoint the committees of this Legislature, if that is important to the members of the Legislature. I know the government side will give unanimous consent and I seek the unanimous consent of the other parties to do so.

The Deputy Speaker: Do we have unanimous consent to proceed?

Mr Hampton: No, we don't. This was not discussed with our House leader.

The Deputy Speaker: No, we do not have unanimous consent.

The Chair recognizes the member for Windsor-Walkerville.

Mr Duncan: I say, in beginning my remarks, that it is indeed good to be here in the bearpit of democracy to share my views and the views of my colleagues in the Liberal Party, the official opposition, with respect to Bill 7.

Over the course of the next while, I shall attempt to address as clearly and concisely as I can our party's position on this omnibus bill.

Hon Chris Hodgson (Minister of Natural Resources, Northern Development and Mines): What is it?

Mr Duncan: Well, it's a well-thought-out and reasoned and rational position that responds, responds in what we think is a balanced and objective fashion, to an increasingly important issue. I say that the government can hold up its flyers all it wants, but they'll live with the consequences. They'll live with the consequences of this much longer than we shall.

I intend to address as specifically as I can the points contained in the bill itself, and to do so in a manner that I think hopefully will point out the extremes on one side versus the extremes on the other and try to find balance and reason in a debate that has gone on, in our view, far too long and with very negative consequences for our entire economy.

I shall break my time up into five sections. I'm going to start and review the bill itself, the omnibus bill. I then want to talk for a little bit about labour relations and the economy in general. I then want to speak about the most recent history we've seen both in this House and in labour relations across the province. I want to then talk about what I see and what our party sees as the appropriate role for government in labour relations, and then finally I shall talk about the very specific positions that our party has advocated and will advocate here in this House, in committee and in our final votes.

We all know Bill 7 is an omnibus bill, and in our view it represents the repeal of significant progress for working people and it represents a deliberate attempt by the government to provoke organized labour. This is the first time in history that we've seen an actual rollback in the gains that have been made by working people over the years.

There is a certain irony, and we in this party particularly see the irony. The members opposite and the members in the third party may not be aware, but when the previous government introduced its bill, when the NDP government introduced its bill, it claimed that those amendments were designed to improve competitiveness. This government, on the opposite extreme, claims the same thing. We in our party reject both extremes. We in our party have a very different view of labour relations in this province and how they ought to be conducted.

The Bill 7 proposals cover a wide range of issues, the general themes of which the minister has reviewed today, and I should like to spend a few minutes on them.

First, the Labour Relations Act, including the repeal of Bill 40: Obviously, the government is saying that it advocates and supports the use of scabs in Ontario, an absolutely terrible, extreme position that thoughtful commentators and thoughtful jurisdictions anywhere cannot agree to. The government is saying in this bill that it wants to make it more difficult for the most vulnerable workers in this province to organize and enjoy the benefits that collective bargaining brings.

There are a number of changes, including successor rights, the consolidation of bargaining units and more restricted access to first contract arbitration, that are clearly designed to hurt working people in this province and make it more difficult for working people to share in the benefits of this province's economy.

The so-called workplace democracy changes attempt to solve a non-existent problem. I can't think of a union anywhere that would call a strike without the support of its membership. I can't think of that. I can't think of it.

Mrs Marion Boyd (London Centre): What's the point?

Mr Duncan: The member for London Centre, the point of doing that is to kind of just kick sand in the face of labour. It's to say --

Hon Noble Villeneuve (Minister of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs, minister responsible for francophone affairs): You're drifting left.

Mr Duncan: The Minister of Agriculture sits there and doesn't recognize, as those of us who have been members of unions and those of us who have worked in those plants realize, that the whole thrust of government's role in labour relations in this great province ought to be to find balance and harmony.


The government also, as part of the omnibus bill, has said that it desires to repeal Bill 91, the Agricultural Labour Relations Act. As we said in the campaign, we support the government on the repeal of Bill 91. We believe that when the bill was adopted, the individual needs, the specific needs, of the agricultural community were not addressed. They were attempted to be addressed in a fashion that you might address industrial workplaces, construction workplaces, and we think that was wrong. We support the government in its repeal of Bill 91.

Perhaps the one area I'd like to spend a little bit of time on is the amendments to the Crown Employees Collective Bargaining Act, which are designed to enable an unprecedented privatization of government services. I want to address that in greater detail.

I want to start by saying first of all that the complete repeal of Bill 40, again, is an unnecessary provocation of labour. The government should be turning its attention not to creating conflict, but to creating cooperation. Growth, jobs, investment, productivity, only happen when we recognize that working people are a partner in that growth, that working people and organized working people are a partner in growth. They are not the enemy. They are not and ought not to be treated as though they're not partners. I will remind the members of the government that growth and real prosperity come from the productive application of human resource to capital. It takes the two: It takes capital; it takes labour.

The changes that the minister has proposed in Bill 7 go well beyond those that were contained in Bill 40. The Minister of Labour, in introducing Bill 7, said, and I quote, "Labour law reforms are designed to revitalize Ontario's economy, to create jobs and restore a much-needed balance to labour-management relations in our province."

Far from creating harmony, the minister has provoked the president of the Ontario Federation of Labour into saying: "It's a misnomer to call this a labour bill. This is really an employers' bill, and it has but one purpose, to threaten the rights of working people in the province of Ontario. On the picket line, this is facilitating the return to violent situations."

The president of the Canadian automobile workers' union has said, "We are not going to accept a major setback for working people without a fight, and where we fight is in the workplace."

The government has been warned by labour that its regressive changes to labour relations will not go unanswered. Large progressive employers such as Chrysler corporation and McDonnell Douglas have urged your government to proceed slowly and with caution. They have been joined in this position by a number of smaller progressive companies.

The Ontario director of the United Steelworkers of America has said that, "These changes are not just about getting rid of one set of laws brought in by the previous NDP government; they are eradicating the basic principles and structure of labour relations as they have been practised in Ontario for decades."

Even the London Free Press, though it continues to support the repeal of Bill 40, says, and I quote: "The legislation will turn back workers' rights too far. Once a party becomes a government, it must govern for all the people, not just those who agree ideologically with the party's leanings.

"It is arrogant and wrong to ignore the needs of groups that may not share the same world view but whose hard-fought-for rights shouldn't be dismissed in so cavalier a manner."

Bill 7 will not restore balance. This legislation and the government's agenda will create a climate that will cause a reduction in investment, because you will be undermining productivity in our economy.

The Minister of Labour said, "We believe that the current Labour Relations Act is a barrier to jobs, growth and investment."

A prominent University of Toronto professor was quoted in the Toronto Star on October 7 as saying: "Anyone who says Bill 40 is a proven job killer is either a fool or a liar. So many things influence our economy that there is no evidence pointing specifically to that."

The Minister of Labour also said, "We will couple repeal with amendments aimed at increasing democracy in the workplace." This argument masks the reality of the so-called workplace democracy changes.

Prominent labour lawyers have been quoted as saying: "Workplace democracy is like family values. Who's opposed to that?" But does it mean employees on boards of directors or that they get votes on plant closures? No. It's just an ability to impede organizing under the guise of another name.

The changes to CECBA are far-reaching. The amendments proposed for CECBA expand the categories of employees to whom the act does not apply. These amendments are the first step in a massive privatization that could see a reduction in government revenues and certainly a decline in the services that all of us have come to expect not only from our provincial governments but from our municipal governments.

The minister and the government are pursuing a downsizing without bringing forward all of their plans. In the future, at the appropriate time, we in this party intend to explore just what the government's intentions are with respect to privatization.

We will also be interested in determining what process the government will put in place to privatize various government services. We suspect a Tory patronage bonus bonanza that will make Brian Mulroney and his cronies proud. We want to advise the government that we will be pursuing this issue closely and that we intend to ensure that bad public policy is not compounded with an orgy of Tory patronage.

Having reviewed very briefly the package of amendments, I would now like to turn my talk to labour relations and the economy in general.

Ontario's economy today is, at best, in a precarious position. Many factors will influence this position, and many factors influence where our economy is today.

One fact remains, that unemployment remains persistently high. In Windsor, Thunder Bay, Ottawa, Hamilton and Niagara region, unemployment rates have never returned to pre-recession levels. Figures released late last week by the Finance ministry confirm that our economy fell into a recession in the second quarter of this year. Gross domestic product declined by a full 4.4% in real terms. Consumer spending is down. Personal disposable income is down. Exports, particularly in the automotive sector, are down. Corporate profits are down. Non-residential construction is down. Projections for the third quarter offer some hope, but overall we expect the economy to be sluggish.


The Minister of Labour said that the changes included in Bill 7 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.

This is where we differ entirely from the government. This bill and the other policies it is pursuing are a recipe for recession. Simply put, there is no compelling evidence that suggests the economy has suffered as a result of Bill 40. To the contrary, with the exception of the last two quarters, investments, profits, exports are all up while days lost to strikes are down.

Indeed, the governing party had clearly formed its opinions before any concrete evidence had been accumulated. In short, the government's agenda is ideologically based.

We assert that in a society and an economy as diverse as ours, the rigidity associated with ideology will ultimately lead to economic disequilibrium and eventual recession. And what of this government's ideology? The government does not recognize organized labour or working people as a true partner in our economy. The government has a view of organized labour and workers that is rooted in the past, the long-distant past.

Unions are a positive force in our economy. The right to bargain collectively should be respected, not denied. Ontario has a highly skilled, highly motivated and highly productive workforce. Ontario's long-standing pre-eminence not only in the Canadian economy but in a world context is testimony to this. So I say to the government, if you truly, truly want to open Ontario up for business, then create a climate where labour harmony abounds and workers are seen as equals.

I need look no further than my own community of Windsor. Windsor's workforce is unionized. Our economy is industrial. Even our service workers, most notably Casino Windsor, are unionized. In our community we have fewer days lost to strikes and other job actions than any other major centre in the province. Why? Because collective bargaining has matured. Both sides respect the importance of the other. For the most part, theirs is mutual respect.

Since 1989 there has been more than $5 billion of new investment in our community. Windsor has led the way. The member for Nickel Belt, the former Minister of Finance, will recall in his last pre-budget consultation a chart which indicated what new investments were going on in Ontario. The majority of those were in Windsor. Many of those investments occurred because union leadership in our city works with management to strike unique deals which allowed investment to happen.

The redevelopment of the Ford Essex engine plant required significant changes to the collective agreement Ford had with the CAW. Those agreements also reached out and included the construction industry in this province.

Chrysler's retooled mini-van plant, which is producing the new Dodge Caravan: $1.6 billion; again, unique collective agreements agreed to by the unions in question.

Minor sports and a whole host of other community organizations have benefited from the working people in our community. The United Way in our community, for 25 years the highest per capita giving in the province of Ontario, relies on the support of organized labour.

None of this speaks to the gains in employment standards that would not have happened had it not been for organized labour. Decent wages, benefits, working conditions, health and safety have all been driven by organized labour. My mother and older friends of mine in our community have told me stories of working in wartime plants where the workers couldn't leave their post to go the bathroom because of production quotas. This province has evolved a set of labour laws and standards which have ensured that can't happen again.

What about the unorganized worker? What about domestics? What about the positive aspects of Bill 40? A majority of arbitrators responding to Bill 40 in a survey said the bill had a beneficial impact on the administration of labour law.

Bill 40 has brought a degree of labour peace that has benefited our economy. Complete repeal of the statute will cause labour instability the likes of which we have never seen. This will do untold damage to our economy.

I'd like to turn my attention now and address the NDP hypocrisy in labour relations.


Mr Pouliot: A point of order, Mr Speaker, to the protocol, the understanding, the threshold of the House for respect and good manners: When the member refers to my association with the New Democratic Party of Ontario as being hypocritical, I stand not only offended, vexed and hurt -- certainly most uncalled for. Will you please, with your grace, Mr Speaker, do what needs to be done?

The Acting Speaker (Mr Gilles E. Morin): Order. It's the type of language, of course, that does raise the ire of people. Even though this term was not referring to an individual but to a party, it is totally in order. However, I would ask you: The English dictionary is full of good words; use these words.

Mr Duncan: I certainly wouldn't want to hurt their feelings. They've suffered enough this year, and that's why they're over on this side.

The New Democrats went too far too fast with Bill 40. They did not listen to management. If you want to argue that there has to be balance, you can't do so having spent the last four years ignoring the other partner in economic growth.

Bill 7 is the inevitable consequence of Bill 40 and Bill 91. The economic calamity that that government left this province in, the destruction of jobs and the way they treated the business community, has provoked a response. They did themselves and their supporters no favours.

Having done that with private sector relations, what did they do? They turned their attention to the public sector. They brought in the social contract and stripped collective agreements. They stripped collective agreements and betrayed their own friends.

And so we find ourselves today in need of the opportunity to address the appropriate role of government in labour relations. It is the view of our party that government's true role ought to be that of honest broker. The government ought to be an honest broker.


There are three clear positions on this issue. There's the extreme of the one side, the extreme that says management ought not to be listened to or consulted or heard. Then there's the extreme of the other side, that would suggest that labour ought not to be listened to.

Ontario has developed a wonderful consensus model of labour relations in this province that served us well for many, many years. By rejecting that consensus model, the previous government set us on a course that would provide for a situation similar to BC, where every time you change government, you have a radical change in labour laws. That does not benefit anybody. That does not benefit the public interest, that does not cause job growth, that does not cause the growth in investment.

We suggest and believe that this Bill 7 is not a modification but rather a destruction of the Labour Relations Act. We urge the government to slow down. Don't deliberately provoke organized labour. Don't cause an increase in strikes. Don't cause a decline in productivity.

As I said earlier, those progressive employers in this province recognize this and have asked the government to hold hearings, to consult, proceed slowly. Do so. Try to restore the consensus model that was trampled on by the previous government. Try to get us back to a scenario where we can work out our problems with an act and a statute that serves the better interests of everyone in the province.

I say unequivocally that this is a difficult issue. The Labour Relations Act is not a statute which necessarily lends itself to easy consensus. It is a difficult statute on which to find consensus, and it takes time and patience and understanding to find that consensus.

We in our party will propose a number of amendments at committee that will try to undo the polarization that has been created by this bill and by Bill 40 and Bill 91. We will ask the government to separate out the Agricultural Labour Relations Act to deal with it separately. We will support the government's proposed repeal. We will recognize that the family farm is not comparable to an industrial workplace.

We believe that unions are already democratic organizations and that the so-called workplace democracy changes are an unnecessary and deliberate provocation of organized labour that goes well beyond the repeal of Bill 40. We reject the use of strikebreakers and accept the fundamental right of workers to organize and bargain collectively. Exceptions can only be made in the most extreme circumstances, and those circumstances must be very, very clearly defined.

We will ask the government to restore the 55% automatic certification. We will ask the government to stay with the 40% threshold for obtaining a representation vote that was introduced in Bill 40. We will propose further amendments to Bill 7 that are consistent with our party's position that was outlined during the election.

It strikes me as most unusual that the government is spending so much time so early on this particular issue. There's a lot happening in Ontario today that this Legislature could be addressing. We should be spending more time talking about the precarious state of our economy. We should be talking about ways of ensuring that the kind of investment and job growth we've seen up until the last two quarters continues. We should be engaged in a very long debate -- instead of debating this, we should be talking about health care. We should be talking about the reconfiguration initiatives that are going on in Thunder Bay and Windsor and Ottawa and London and Hamilton and other places.

Mr John Hastings (Etobicoke-Rexdale): Metro.

Mr Duncan: Metro particularly; very good point. The member for Etobicoke-Rexdale recognizes that his government is about to close seven hospitals in his community and cut services to Metro. We should be talking about that at length in this House. Labour relations is an important component of getting agreement on hospital reconfiguration.

In our community in 1992, we began our reconfiguration process, which required the cooperation and understanding of the local trade unions. There were nine different unions involved in the process, including our local district labour council. The public service employees union, OPSEU, just by way of example, participated in a cooperative fashion in those discussions. Why? Because their members are obviously affected. In any effort that is designed to reduce hospitals, it's going to affect workers. That is the kind of cooperation that the government, in my view, jeopardizes by proceeding in the fashion that it has with Bill 7.

The kind of cooperation we've witnessed on plant floors between the Steelworkers, the Auto Workers and their respective employers in the areas of health and safety improvements, training opportunities, that kind of cooperation, that kind of support from the local union leadership as well as the provincial and national leadership has allowed significant progress in defining the modern workplace and in defining good work standards for the working people of this province. All of that is threatened; it is threatened. Why?

I quoted earlier the president of the CAW. Their response to this bill is not going to be here in this House, it's going to be on the workplace floors. It's going to be at the Essex engine plant in Windsor. It's going to be in St Catharines. It's going to be in Oshawa. It will threaten to undermine the stability and labour harmony we have created in this province.

We have to view labour, again, as a partner. They have been a partner. They have worked tirelessly in communities throughout Ontario. Today we paid tribute to a great unionist from St Catharines. Why? Because of his role not only in ensuring, not only in providing better opportunities for the people he represents, but for allowing and for working in the greater community. We believe that this role ought to be respected.

We could be spending our time on hospital reconfigurations. We could be talking about inadequate cellular phone service in northern Ontario. We could be talking about that at greater length. We could be talking about the price of tuna. I've yet to find a can of tuna for 69 cents. Even if I could --


The Acting Speaker: Order.

Mr Duncan: If it's 69 cents, it wouldn't have been packaged by unionized workers, I can tell you that. That government, that's part of its mentality, you know: "Get me a cheap can of tuna. Have it produced by unorganized workers."

Mr Pouliot: A dented can of tuna.

Mr Duncan: A dented can of tuna, absolutely. Well, the working people of this province are productive workers.


The Acting Speaker: Order. There's a period after his speech when you can ask questions, make comments, but don't do it whilst he's delivering the speech.


Mr Duncan: That can of tuna wouldn't have been produced in an Ontario factory. Why? Because of our productive workforce, because of our advanced state of labour relations. And telephones --

Mr Pouliot: Cellular phones and tuna don't work where I work.

Mr Duncan: They don't work in the north, that's right.

We could be talking about significant issues, like the condition of winter roads in northern Ontario. We could be talking about those kinds of things. We could be talking about other issues that mean a lot, not just to a select, narrow community, but to everyone in this province. But why aren't we? Why? Because we have to proceed in an ideologically driven fashion that doesn't recognize rational debate, that doesn't accept the reality that's happened in Ontario workplaces since the introduction of Bill 40.

While we don't like the divisiveness of this debate, we accept it and we say that as a party we will work to help ensure that productivity returns to workplaces in Ontario, but we suspect it'll be a long time, given the situation that this government has created.

I'd like to address just for a moment the impact that Bill 7 has on job creation and job growth. The government has not talked about jobs even though by their own government documents they're saying we're in a recession. They've got a worse record than any government in years in terms of how many jobs are happening in this province. Their own documents say that we're on the precipice of further decline.

Yet we spend our time in this Legislature talking at length about how we're going to fix those union guys. What a shame, what an absolute shame, when we could be addressing in a meaningful way the unemployment levels that are being experienced right across the province, when we could address in a meaningful way health care, when we could address in a meaningful way what's happening to children in this province and to welfare recipients in this province.

Why aren't we? Why? Because, like everything else, the agenda is going after the most vulnerable. Bill 7 does the same thing. Bill 7 makes it more difficult for a vulnerable worker, a domestic worker, to get union representation. Bill 7 makes it more difficult for any number of people in the garment industry in unorganized shops to get union representation.

We're not addressing the problems that people in this province are talking about. For instance, we could spend the time we're spending on Bill 7 talking about how to make regulations get approved properly. We could spend our time talking about that. We could talk about that process.

We could spend our time talking about health care and the broken promises in health care, $132 million of broken promises in health care.

We could talk about patronage. Instead of talking about Bill 7, we could talk about patronage. We could talk at length about all of Brian Mulroney's friends who are finding high-paying jobs with the government of Ontario. We could talk about that at length, and we would like to have the opportunity to talk about that.

What we say is this: The repeal of Bill 40 goes too far. It penalizes organized workers and it penalizes unorganized workers.

Interjection: It's taking labour back to the 1940s.

Mr Duncan: It's taking us back, and Gord Wilson himself said if you take the law back to the 1940s we'll take our tactics back to the 1940s -- a regrettable situation that's been solely created by this government and its intransigence.

And CECBA: They're going to change CECBA. So what are we left with? We're going to see privatization, everything imaginable up for sale.


Mr Duncan: To whom? We don't know yet, but we'll be watching that very, very carefully, because it's obvious at this point that the privatization will benefit their friends at the expense of service and revenues to the government of Ontario.

What about, again, to conclude, our economy and labour relations in our economy? Labour ought to be viewed as a partner in growth. We have an educated, skilled and productive workforce. In spite of all this, they persist. And we have stubbornly high unemployment, yet they refuse to address it. They'd rather address the narrow concerns of their constituency than the needs of people who need a job in this province.

Instead of penalizing working people, why don't we commit ourselves to a policy of full employment? Why don't we make that our agenda? Why not? We never have; we ought to.

This legislation, in tandem with what the government is doing in other areas, is a recipe for recession, and we will hold you accountable, as will the voters, when the recession that you have singlehandedly created happens in this province. Your own documents say it's under way already.

Government must again become the honest broker in labour relations. They must become the honest broker. They must become the centre. They must become the body that both labour and management can turn to and feel respect and feel that their views will be heard.

This government didn't do it. The previous government didn't do it. We urge the government to return to that. Return. Get away from the vision of the extreme. Get away from the blinders of ideology and focus on the needs of the people of this province, focus on their basic necessities and what we as a government and we as a Legislature can do to improve the lot of the people of this province. That's what the government should be doing, not following this kind of ideologically driven agenda.

In conclusion, I say to the government and I say to my friends in the third party and to the people of Ontario that we need to restore balance and harmony. We need a government that's committed to moderation and practical solutions that aren't generated or driven by ideology, but are driven by the needs of our constituents and the people of this province.

We look forward to debating this issue further and we look forward to making amendments to the bill that we think will improve the lot of working people and management right across Ontario.

The Acting Speaker: Questions or comments?

Mr Pouliot: Let me, of course, first congratulate the member for his most eloquent -- if not always, in my opinion of course, apropos -- comments. The members will soon learn that this is where you aim, this is where you focus, not at the members of the third party.

What we're seeing here really is a pilgrimage leading nowhere. It will pass and you will have your day, because you have people who come from all over the province. It's a sad day for workers, I will tell you that. There is no equilibrium. You will be seen as a caravan of misery that overreacted.

There is anti-strikebreaking legislation in the sister provinces of both British Columbia and Quebec. Where is the problem? May it not be an invitation to confrontation? But you have another agenda as well. You have succession rights. You dimmed the light on a certain night, Madam, with your colleagues, and you scared one another into believing that the workers coming by hordes were going to take over the province. This is a major step backwards, it's a sad day, and you will pay dearly.

I want to thank the minister for one thing. Our membership will grow by leaps and bounds. You could correct it. You could do what's right, because what is being done here is wrong. We invite you, and we can help you organize some public forum across the province so that not only labour people but everyone could have an equal say-so.

Come to Lake Nipigon and meet the miners. They want to see you, Madam. I might not be at the same meeting as you, I have so many other engagements, but I want to wish you well.

We will be calling for public hearings.


Mr John R. Baird (Nepean): I want to respond to the remarks made by my friend from Windsor-Walkerville. It's quite interesting. I compare what I've just listened to in his speech with what I saw in the last provincial election campaign, I compare it to the debates in Hansard from the debate on Bill 40 and I compare it to my friend from Lac-Nipigon's party. Their position is very clear, our position is very clear, but the honourable member's isn't, and I wondered why.

I then looked for guidance in the publication that I normally do, to the Toronto Star for some guidance, in the Toronto Star dated Friday, September 8, 1995, and I thought this explained a little bit of it. I quote from that publication:

"`We've been far too fuzzy for far too long,' said Windsor-Walkerville MPP Dwight Duncan," the member for Windsor-Walkerville.

He goes on to say -- and I don't know what this means; maybe my friend from Lac-Nipigon could help -- "`We're going to have to some day decide what we stand for and then stand for it.'" Then he goes on to say -- this is why I'll need my friend's help -- "`We have some serious navel-gazing to do.'"

Interjection: What did he say?

Mr Baird: "Some serious navel-gazing to do." I wonder whether it would be not too much to ask, for those of us on the government side of the House, that they could go on that retrospective before the Legislature meets and discusses bills, because for too long the Liberal Party has had one speech it gives to business and one speech it gives to labour.

I do at least have respect for the positions of my friends opposite in the New Democratic Party, who have only one position.

We on our side of the House look forward with great interest to find out what the position in the end will be of the Liberal Party, given that those of us in the third party in the last Parliament joined with his party and his leader in voting against this legislation. It was good enough before the election; it was good enough on election day; we think it's good enough today.

Mr Bruce Crozier (Essex South): I'm proud to stand today and comment on the speech just given by my colleague from Windsor-Walkerville. I've only been here since December 1993, and it isn't often, I think, and it isn't often enough, that we hear a speech in this place that tries to reach some kind of a consensus. My friend over there held up a number of documents about positions, and I think what we should do as government is try to reach some sort of consensus. And if we truly thought that the members across would listen, it would be easier for us all to give suggestions.

What happens when I go back home is I tell people quite frankly I think there are a lot of talented people in this place, a lot of talented men and women. I think one of them has spoken today and others will speak to this. The minister herself spoke to this. But I say I think there's too much time, too much energy and too much money wasted on some of the things that we may have been doing the last couple of days, rather than getting to the points that we should.

My friend mentioned this as well, that there are a number of other issues in this House that are vitally important to this province. He's addressed one of them. Health care is another. Education has hardly been mentioned. The economy and a plan for the economy hasn't been mentioned by the government yet -- and he's holding up that famous book that had six printings because they changed their minds at least six times, and we only wish you would change your mind on this and listen to the sound of reason.

Mr Wildman: I just would like to comment briefly on the remarks by my friend from Windsor-Walkerville. I listened very carefully to his presentation, and I must say that I think he was quite sincere in his attempt to take what he believes to be a middle-ground position. I would say, though, that for all members of the House we should understand that this is a fundamental question. I know the members of the government believe it to be, and members in our caucus also believe it to be.

What concerns me about the presentations that we've heard in the House, and I think this was recognized by my friend from Windsor-Walkerville, is that there seems to be an underlying view within the Conservative government -- I think it is held sincerely, although they are not being quite upfront about it -- that there is something basically undemocratic about the trade union movement, and that because they believe there's something basically undemocratic, they need to bring in legislation which will somehow, in their view, make it democratic. I think that is at the essence of the dispute or disagreement between the two sides of the House. In fact, we believe that the labour movement is, at its very essence, a democratic movement.

I regret very much that we've had to resort to the tactics that were used by the Conservative Party when we introduced Bill 40 on the introduction of Bill 7 in order to try and get the government to agree to hearings outside of Toronto, across the province, so that we can hear from everyone -- business, management, labour, unorganized workers, small business and so on -- to deal with that basic question of how we ensure a democratic process in labour relations.

Mr Duncan: I would just wrap up by saying yes, to the member for Nepean, we do have to think about where we stand. We don't have our heads buried in the sand or wrapped up in ideology.

You talk about broken commitments. Earlier today I had the opportunity to address the House on only several, and I'll be taking an opportunity in the future, I'm sure, to talk about more, and ultimately we'll be accountable. For instance, on page 7 of the Common Sense Revolution: "We will not cut health care spending." To date, $130 million in broken promises. Shame on you.

Again, page 8: "Funding for law enforcement and justice will be guaranteed." To date, the clock's ticking, $14 million cut. And another error: "Aid to seniors and disabled will not be cut," unless of course they depend on the government for Wheel-Trans, housing or just plain making ends meet.

No cuts to agriculture. The Minister of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs is no longer here. No cuts to agriculture is what they said in the campaign; so far, $13 million worth of cuts to agriculture. What about the north? Today we heard the Minister of Transportation tell northerners to get a cell phone. Shame on all of you for suggesting that, on top of the $22 million that you've already cut. Let's not make any mistake, there is going to be a lot more of those cuts.

Then, what about the final promise? I quote Mike Harris: "If I fail to deliver on my commitments as Premier, I will resign." I think rather he's resigned himself to the fact that as Premier he will fail to deliver on the commitments he's made, as this government will. I caution the member for Nepean, I caution my friend the minister that what you're doing today is going to cause you untold problems in the future. When those problems happen, we'll speak about them again.

The Acting Speaker: Thank you. Further debate?

Mr Christopherson: I want to begin with arguably the most important issue for us right now in terms of part of the process of that debate and that is to once again call on the government, in particular the Minister of Labour, to allow this massive bill -- and it is indeed a massive bill, some 137 pages -- to go out across the province and allow the people of Ontario an opportunity to comment on how they believe this law will affect their working lives.

There is very good reason for doing this now, and that is that we've had two years' experience under this law, so that communities and employers and employees and consumers and social planners and municipal planners all have had experience living under this law. The government has made what we consider to be very wild accusations, made before it was law, about what was going to happen to Ontario if Bill 40 was enacted. It did not happen, and we think the people of Ontario deserve the opportunity to say to the government directly and show it that not only did the disaster not occur but jobs were created.


We had an era of unprecedented labour peace. I grant you that is not the entire reason why in 1994 we had a record level of investment, some $8 billion in the manufacturing sector, which, I would mention, is also one of the most highly unionized sectors in our economy. But I would make the case that when the investors -- the world investors, the major corporations and the smaller ones also, but certainly the major ones -- are looking to make a commitment of hundreds of millions of dollars, particularly in the manufacturing area, one of the things they look at is labour relations and the stability that exists in the area that they are thinking of investing in.

Of course, they're looking in long-term cycles. They're not just looking next week, next month, next year; they're planning for many years. We believe it's fair to say that there were record levels of investment in the manufacturing sector in 1994, in part because of the unprecedented labour peace that existed.

I don't have a lot of time today because we only have a few more minutes and I'll be making the bulk of my comments of course tomorrow, but I do want to offer up that this government has not only attacked Bill 40 and the rights that workers have in there, but it's gone beyond that. They've gone beyond retracting Bill 40. In fact, the day that Bill 40 was passed I believe was the day then third-party leader Mike Harris rose in his place and tabled a very simple, one-page bill that would have the effect of retracting Bill 40.

That's a far cry from the 137 pages that were brought in here the week before last by this Minister of Labour. That's because this government has gone well beyond retracting the rights that workers had under Bill 40, but it's gone back decades.

We say to this government that the Bill Davises of this province would never introduce a bill like that. Not only would he not introduce it in terms of its content, but the process would never have been the way it has been here: the absolute lack of consultation, the absolute lack of consideration for everyone's input into this bill.

What we have here is very much a departure from the way that labour law has been developed and has evolved in the history of this province that has served us so well.

Hon Mrs Witmer: That's right, for 50 years, until 1990.

Mr Christopherson: It has served us so well. I hear the Minister of Labour heckling me from across the way. I am going to take the opportunity to ask if she can speak a little louder so I can hear her points, because I want to respond to every one of them.

Ms Marilyn Churley (Riverdale): She might get thrown out.

Mr Christopherson: If we get the other Speaker in here, you might want to be careful whether or not you exercise your democratic rights. I say that from personal experience. However, I want to say on that that the honourable member came over afterwards and apologized to me personally and I thought it was a very sincere apology and I accepted it and I consider the matter closed.

The other thing I want to do in the few minutes I have is to point out to Ontarians that Bill 7 should not be taken alone. If you really want to understand what this government is all about in terms of how it is systematically taking away the rights of workers, take a look at all the decisions it's made in the short time it's been in power, and I ask any reasonable-minded person to ask themselves whether that equates with a government that has an agenda that gives a damn about workers.

You have shut down the Workplace Health and Safety Agency, which was a model of partnership and cooperation between employers and employees, but that doesn't fit your idea of the way the world ought to operate. Workers ought not to have that kind of input, that type of consideration -- yes, I'm going to say it -- that kind of workplace democracy. When it comes to real workplace democracy, you wouldn't know it if it came up and bit you.

That was a prime opportunity for us to show the world that we can compete in a way that no one else can. That's how we compete, not by slashing wages and slashing rights and slashing benefits and saying: "Come on in and abuse our workers more than you abuse someone else's. That's why you ought to come here and invest money." That's no way to build the province. That's certainly not the history of this province, and I dare say it's not the future; it ought not to be the future of this province.

You say you're not going to attack the disabled. You've already announced you're cutting benefits to workers injured on the job. Shame on you. You came in here and you said: "If you're hurt on the job you get less money now than you got before, because we've got to balance the budget. And guess what, injured workers? You lost. You're going to pay for it. We're going to balance the budget on your backs." You did that.

The Royal Commission on Workers' Compensation: Because there are a lot of problems there, there is a need to come up with formulas that will work, so there was a royal commission in place that would look at all the implications and come up with recommendations that would make sense. You killed it. You're not interested in innovative ideas. You're not interested in listening to what people have to say about how to deal with those problems. You went directly to your simple little Common Sense Revolution idea, and that is, "We'll just pay for it on the backs of workers and we don't want to hear any other ideas." So you killed that idea.

The wage protection program: The name of that program must have been enough to cause you to break out in hives. Historically in the province of Ontario, if a corporation went bankrupt, workers were at the bottom of the list in terms of creditors. Bankers came first, suppliers were up there, all the people who lined up and said, "You owe us and we need a piece of this," and the workers were at the bottom. Historically, thousands of workers have lost wages they'd already worked to earn, and the severance they were entitled to, and their vacation pay. One of the first bills we introduced said that that's not right, that we ought to make sure the workers who've already put in their time and have accrued these benefits are entitled to them when they're facing the disaster of a plant closure or an office closure. That seems fair and reasonable.

You came into power and slashed away some of those benefits because, you said, "We can't afford those." That's fine if you're not the one on the other end, but when your plant or office is closing and you've got kids to feed and you've got a mortgage payment to make and you've got other bills and responsibilities, the very least you ought to be entitled to in the province of Ontario is that you will receive what you're owed. You ought to receive what you're owed. This government said, "That's not a priority for us: bottom line first, people second."

I'm going to close my comments by commenting on the Liberals. I don't want to waste a lot of my time, but there's something that needs to be said. With great respect for my new colleague the Liberal member for Windsor-Walkerville --

Interjection: Great speech.

Mr Christopherson: That was a great speech. I enjoyed it. He has a lot of ability.

We are united in conflict, if you will, on a number of fronts, but I have a little bit of difficulty with the fact that you now are part of a party -- and I know you weren't here then -- that voted against Bill 40. You're no friend of workers, and workers know that. You gave a speech that you could hive off into parts, one part to people who like Bill 40 and another part to people who don't like Bill 40, and people aren't fooled by that.

We'll accept the support as we fight this government on this draconian legislation, but don't think for a moment the people believe that the red book is anything but an agenda that goes after workers' rights too. You didn't stand up for workers in the election; you just said you might do a little less than the Tories did, but you were going after them none the less.

With that, I will close my comments and continue tomorrow at the appropriate time.

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.