36th Parliament, 1st Session

L013 - Thu 19 Oct 1995 / Jeu 19 Oct 1995


































The House met at 1331.




Mr Frank Miclash (Kenora): It's become painfully obvious in the past several days that Transportation Minister Al Palladini flunked Ontario geography, so I am happy to rise in my place today to teach Minister Al this lesson: It's Northern Ontario 101. This is the Ontario I know. I hope this refresher course will help him understand that there is an Ontario north of Highway 7.

In the Ontario I know, we have no closed-circuit TV monitoring of roads. In fact, we have stretches of highway where you might not see another car for hours.

In the Ontario I know, we have no private tow trucks waiting at every turn to rescue stranded motorists. When you're stuck you wait until someone, seldom a tow-truck driver, finds you.

In the Ontario I know, we have an average of 178 centimetres of snowfall every year, and it stays until spring.

In my riding only one community, Kenora, has cellular phone capabilities, and even that ends 12 minutes outside of the town.

Minister, my point is that you just don't get it. Our Ontario stretches from Point Pelee to Fort Severn, from the Ottawa Valley to Minaki. Clearly, your Ontario does not extend beyond greater Toronto.

Most of Ontario doesn't have cellular capabilities. Most of Ontario doesn't have tow trucks at every turn. By cutting and slashing the services that you have talked about, you are leaving most of the area of this province completely without any coverage at all.

Minister, it's time you discover the Ontario I know.


Ms Marilyn Churley (Riverdale): Recently, the Minister of Environment and Energy ordered a major review of the environmental regulatory system in Ontario. The minister has not told this House exactly what she means by such a statement. In fact, it's all been done in secret, behind closed doors.

This morning, the Canadian Environmental Law Association and others alerted the province to the Harris government's plan to dismantle hard-won environmental protection.

Sources claim that the minister plans to completely exempt solid waste management planning and disposal sites from approval through the environmental assessment process. This means that alternative sites and impacts of any given site would not have to be explored. It also means no guarantee of a full public hearing.

As well, the minister recently disbanded several environmental advisory committees, including the committee on the municipal-industrial strategy for abatement, the aim of which is to prevent toxins from entering our water supply. The job has not been completed yet on this.

The last election was about many issues, but I have yet to hear anyone, anywhere, at any time, suggest that what the people of Ontario said last June was that government should get out of the business of protecting the environment and their health.

Before the minister moves ahead with any changes to Ontario's environmental regulatory framework, she'd better come clean about her intentions and start consulting with the people of this province, who, I warn her and the Premier, are quickly wearying of this government's closed-door style of decision-making.


Mr Tom Froese (St Catharines-Brock): The spirit of volunteerism is alive and well in the St Catharines-Brock riding. Today I wish to offer my congratulations to Shaver Hospital staff, patients and auxiliary. It opened its doors for the first time 85 years ago today, on October 19, 1909.

The Shaver Hospital is unique in many ways. It opened as a sanitarium and now is a chronic care and rehabilitation facility. As an organization it is unique because it has always been able to adjust and change with the long-term-care health needs of the times.

Also unique is the incredible dedication of the Shaver's volunteers and the fact that their beginning as an auxiliary actually dates back to its founding meeting 15 months before the hospital was officially opened.

The theme of community service, participation and dedication which was established in 1909 has continued for the entire 85 years the Shaver auxiliary has been working with community organizations, churches and individuals. They have raised money for building programs, renovations and equipment and supplies, such as donations of bed linen, towels, clothes and reading materials for patients.

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

Mr Froese: That's the kind of spirit --

The Speaker: The member's time has expired.


Mrs Sandra Pupatello (Windsor-Sandwich): As we pass through the 16th month of operation of Ontario's first casino, Casino Windsor, I want to let the House know how proud I am that it has shocked the world's gaming industry with its over 7.3 million customers, 85% of whom are Americans, and stunned the rest of us with $315 million in revenues, $212 million of which are going directly to the Minister of Finance in the form of general revenues.

Windsorites were delighted when the now Premier made a commitment during the campaign that, if elected Premier, he would allow Windsor and any other city which plays host to keep 10% of net profits.


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

Mrs Pupatello: I look forward to bringing forward a resolution which will encourage the government to keep its promise. The wording of my resolution may seem familiar to the Premier. I've been doing some light reading and noticed in the committee Hansard of 1993 that during the casino debate, his Finance critic, now Finance minister, moved a motion to introduce similar amendments to the casino bill. I expect therefore not only to have his support but the support of the entire government caucus.

It's also my pleasure to inform the House that a team of community leaders has been brought together by the mayor to form a strategy group to help determine how best and most responsibly to spend Windsor's share of casino profits.

I hope the Premier has the opportunity to meet with the mayor and his strategic team.


Mr Gilles Pouliot (Lake Nipigon): It is with great sadness that I rise in the House today to join with my constituents in expressing condolences to the families and friends of those who died this past weekend in a tragic fishing accident in my riding. The community of Upsala has been hit severely by this terrible tragedy.

A group of 12 from the Upsala Bible Centre were fishing for whitefish when wind and waves came up suddenly and capsized their boats. Three people are dead and five are still missing. Land, water and air search is continuing, of course, for the five males still missing. Four are teenagers ranging in age from 14 to 19.

My thoughts and the thoughts of the House are with the families, and we offer our deepest sympathy and concern to all those affected by this tragic occurrence.



Mr Ted Chudleigh (Halton North): It is my pleasure to inform the House that today is Credit Union Day in Ontario. As we heard in this House on Monday, this week is National Co-op Week, and each year the Thursday of co-op week is designated as Credit Union Day.

This was a particularly challenging and exciting year for the credit union system. On March 1, 1995, new legislation was proclaimed which enables these community-based financial institutions to continue to expand upon their tradition of consumer service and innovation and enables them to compete with other financial institutions on a level playing field.

Credit unions, unlike most business corporations, including banks and trust companies, are cooperatives. That means they are established, operated, controlled and owned by their members.

Credit unions thrive due to the commitment of thousands of members who volunteer their time to serve on boards and committees. More than 3,000 Ontarians volunteer on boards of credit unions in this province.

Today, there are 500 credit unions in Ontario, with nearly two million members. These financial institutions employ more than 5,000 people and control assets in excess of $12 billion.

In communities across Ontario today, credit union members and staff are celebrating their success and looking to the future. Please join me in extending best wishes and congratulations to members of the credit union system as they celebrate Credit Union Day.


Mrs Elinor Caplan (Oriole): I rise in the House to inform everyone that tomorrow, Friday, October 20, is Breast Cancer Awareness Day. I'm sad that neither the minister responsible for women's issues nor the Minister of Health has made statements regarding breast cancer during October. This is the ninth annual Breast Cancer Awareness Month. Breast cancer is one of the most common cancers affecting Canadian women. One out of nine Canadian women will develop breast cancer in her lifetime. Canada has the second-highest rate of breast cancer in the world. Breast cancer continues to kill about one third of its victims. It is the single biggest killer of Canadian women aged 35 to 54.

In 1990, the Liberal government began the breast cancer screening program to detect breast cancer in its earliest stages. This program has not yet been completed and, as a result, there are too many women who do not realize the importance of regular breast screening and do not have access to this lifesaving opportunity.

What is this government doing to ensure that all women are aware of this very important program and that all women are receiving appropriate breast screening and education? This government already has an abysmal record when it comes to protecting services for women. The silence of the ministers speaks volumes.

The government must ensure that women at risk of breast cancer have culturally sensitive early access to the services they desperately need. I'm concerned about inadequate funding for breast cancer research and the fact that treatments are not readily and equally available.

This Sunday, October 22, my family and I will be participating in the "Honda Run for the Cure" --

The Speaker (Hon Allan K. McLean): Time has expired.

Mrs Caplan: I would ask all members to sponsor me, as the Liberal caucus is, and if anyone would like to participate --

The Speaker: The member for Dovercourt has the floor.


Mr Tony Silipo (Dovercourt): Today I rise to introduce episode 4 in the continuing saga of the Mulroney-Harris affair. Today's star is Andrew Simms, executive assistant to the Minister of Community and Social Services.

Mr Simms worked on the political staff of the Mulroney cabinet minister Tom Siddon at the time, and it gets better, that Mr Siddon was Minister of Fisheries and Oceans. Mr Siddon, you will recall, was brought into the Mulroney cabinet to clean up after the tainted tuna scandal.

We can only surmise -- and I'll leave to other minds the potential connection and advice that Mr Simms may have given to Mr Siddon versus the advice that he may have been giving to the current minister of Community and Social Services.

But it's sufficient for the time being to note that Mr Simms joins the list we've already presented in this House, to which no doubt we will have many other names to add, that so far includes the appointment of David Nash, prominent Mulroney Tory to the Ontario Casino Corp; John Toogood, another Mulroney Tory, appointed to the Minister of Citizenship's office; and Pauline Browes, a former Tory MP, appointed as vice-chair of the Environmental Assessment Board.

The saga continues. Stay tuned for more.


Mr Steve Gilchrist (Scarborough East): It's indeed a pleasure for me to inform the House of an act of extraordinary generosity which will benefit all Ontarians, and for that matter people around the world.

Yesterday, I had the opportunity to attend the announcement of the Anne and Max Tanenbaum chair program in biomedical research at the faculty of medicine at the University of Toronto, funded by a donation of $10 million.

The health science faculty at the university, in concert with its four affiliated teaching hospitals, is already recognized as one of the leading biomedical research facilities in North America, and this stunning gift from the Tanenbaum family will dramatically increase the ability of the university to attract even more of the best scientists from around the world.

In recent years, U of T appointed scientists have discovered genes and molecular defects responsible for Wilson's disease, cystic fibrosis, muscular dystrophy and, most recently, the gene for early onset Alzheimer disease.

The $10-million gift will permit the establishment of five joint chairs: in cognitive neuroscience; the chairs in molecular medicine at the Hospital for Sick Children and Mount Sinai Hospital; a chair in molecular neuroscience at the Toronto Hospital; and a fifth chair based at the U of T campus.

These programs will dramatically increase our understanding of the genetic causes of disease so that we can develop more accurate diagnostic tests, effective treatments and identify prevention techniques for cancer, heart disease, stroke and other major illnesses.

Through her gift, Mrs Tanenbaum has continued her family's long-standing reputation as exemplary patrons of the arts and medicine, and I know all members in this House join me in thanking her for this extremely generous gift to medical research in Ontario.


The Speaker (Hon Allan K. McLean): I'd like to inform the members that there is a guest in the Speaker's gallery today, the Honourable Doug Lewis, former Attorney General of Canada.



Mrs Lyn McLeod (Leader of the Opposition): My first question is for the Minister of Health. As all of us know, October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month, and as my colleague from Oriole has just noted, tomorrow in fact is Breast Cancer Awareness Day.

I want to bring to your attention, Minister, a very disturbing issue that affects women who are diagnosed with breast cancer, women who are hopeful about the future but still very much concerned about the kind of treatment that will be available to them.

GCSF is a drug that is used for patients who are receiving chemotherapy. Recently, and in fact before you were minister, your ministry established guidelines for prescribing GCSF for cancer patients who are on the drug benefit plan, and as you know that's seniors, disabled and people who are on welfare.

I learned yesterday that those guidelines which were set in place specifically exclude the ability to prescribe this drug for women who have breast cancer and are on the ODB plan. It's a fact, apparently, that in eight other provinces GCSF is available for women with breast cancer. So what we have is a situation in which, for example, patients who come across the river from Hull to have treatment in Ottawa are able to be prescribed with this particular drug; women who are from Ontario can't.

I ask, Minister, is it acceptable to you that breast cancer patients who are on the Ontario drug benefit plan can't get this treatment while women across the country can?

Hon Jim Wilson (Minister of Health): I appreciate the question and the seriousness of the question. I can inform the honourable member that I have taken no actions in terms of changing any regulations or rules or availability of products that might have been available for women with breast cancer since this government has come to office.


Mrs McLeod: I'm aware of that, that these were guidelines, as I indicated, that were put in place before this minister came into office. In fact, I believe they were put in place in January. It is a fact that only came to my attention yesterday that breast cancer was specifically excluded, and I am concerned, obviously, about the exclusion. I'm also concerned -- I find it difficult to understand -- why that specific exclusion was made.

The guidelines are set out to say that the drug can be used and is effective for people who have curable cancers, and yet breast cancer is excluded from the list of cancers that can be treated with this drug. It implies that breast cancer is not a curable illness, and I find this particularly distressing, because surely everyone acknowledges that breast cancer is indeed a curable illness. It has a 74% survival rate after five years. Research has shown that GCSF is a drug that will help more women survive with breast cancer, and yet women on the Ontario drug benefit plan cannot get the drug.

I truly believe that this is an unacceptable and disgraceful situation and that we cannot tolerate it. I ask you, Minister, if you will commit today to fixing the situation, to changing the guidelines so that they do recognize breast cancer as a curable disease and make this treatment available.

Hon Mr Wilson: The honourable member does raise some concern and something that concerns me. The previous government did leave in place a process, which we've tried to improve, so that women needing GCSF can, through their physicians, apply under our section 8 drug program to enable the people of Ontario, through the government of Ontario, to fund, because it is an expensive product.

I have in that area tried to expedite that process. I was highly critical of the delays, as the honourable member from Thunder Bay was, in the past. Our turnaround time now for requests such as this particular drug should be in the range of eight to 10 days. If I can improve on that, I say to the honourable member and to all members of the House, I will improve on that. However, through their physicians women can obtain assistance to obtain this drug through the section 8 process.

Mrs McLeod: With all respect to the minister, because I raise this as an issue that I am deeply concerned about and believe this minister must act to address immediately, this is not something which sympathy and the expression of concern is sufficient to address. It is something which can be changed, can be fixed by this minister without any delay at all. It is not the issue of the time it takes to get the approvals. Access to this drug is specifically excluded from section 8 approvals by the guidelines themselves. Physicians cannot apply for approval because it is not included for women who have breast cancer, and that's the situation I'm asking the minister to address.

I'm concerned that women are simply being denied access to this treatment. There is no question that people who are on the drug benefit plan cannot afford to purchase the drug on their own. The cost of taking the drug is approximately $4,000 per person. Clearly, people who are being denied the drug through the drug benefit plan exclusion are not going to be able to get the treatment.

I consider this to be an enormous violation of a basic principle that I think we all believe in in this province, and that's that access to the best possible treatment should be available regardless of the ability to pay.

I don't believe that fixing the guideline would cost the government a lot of money. It's difficult to estimate, but some estimates have been put at less than $2 million. Clearly, it could save some lives. I ask the minister again, on this very specific issue of the exclusion of women with breast cancer from access to this drug if they're on the benefit plan, to fix the situation, to commit to fixing it immediately so that we don't have long delays.

Hon Mr Wilson: I do appreciate the honourable member bringing this particular situation to my attention and I will undertake to take an immediate look at it. It does disturb me if women are being denied access to treatment that's readily available in other parts of Canada. Ontario still is the richest province. We still spend more money per capita on health care than most other jurisdictions in Canada and we have the most generous drug plan of all the provinces in Canada.

I will endeavour to take the concerns of the honourable member and to report back to her, and more importantly perhaps in terms of the immediate needs of the women of this province, tomorrow the Premier and I will be in the company of people from the Ontario chapter of the Canadian Breast Cancer Foundation and I'll take this matter up with them also.

Mrs McLeod: I truly hope I can take that as a commitment from the minister to act immediately.


Mrs Lyn McLeod (Leader of the Opposition): I realize that there's a certain repetitiveness in the pattern here, but my second question is to the Minister of Community and Social Services. I want to return to the question that I raised yesterday about changes in a regulation which would have reduced benefits to the disabled, because I think it became readily apparent that the minister simply did not understand the question that I was raising yesterday. So I felt it was important today to spell it out as clearly as I possibly could.

Minister, I tell you today that we are indeed talking about two changes. The first change was in subsection (2) of the regulation. It was first raised by the news media. It is marked here in yellow marker. By changing the legal definition of the disabled, this change would have reduced benefits for 115,000 disabled people and their families.

The second change is to clause 41. It is marked here in blue. It was much harder to miss, and despite what you said yesterday, it does refer very specifically to the disabled, right in the print in the regulation. This changes the definition of "disabled," to reduce benefits for people who are permanently unemployable and require another person to provide them with daily physical assistance.

I hope that the minister has been made aware by his staff of this other error since the question was raised yesterday. I ask him again today, will he acknowledge that the changed definition of the disabled was in two separate places, not in one?

Hon David H. Tsubouchi (Minister of Community and Social Services): Our government believes it's wrong for seniors and the disabled to be on the social assistance welfare system. That's why we're committed to establishing a new system, a separate income supplement that is sensitive to the needs of seniors and people with disabilities.

As I said in my statement to this House two days ago, "On August 29, staff of my ministry drafted a series of amendments to regulations regarding social service eligibility." This is what I said in my ministerial statement: "When these regulations were brought to me, I gave explicit instructions that any regulatory changes that affected the disabled be removed. Regrettably, my instructions were not carried out and the incorrect regulations proceeded through the approval process."

I have corrected the mistake, and we've disclosed that. There's been no attempt to do anything else other than to correct what was done. I clearly indicated to my staff at the time that all references to any regulatory changes affecting the disabled be removed.

Mrs McLeod: I find it very difficult to understand how it is possible, since you did not seem aware yesterday that there was a second change in the regulation, that the errors -- plural -- could have been brought to your attention.

I think what has become abundantly clear is that the story that all of this is the result of some kind of drafting error in your ministry simply doesn't hold water. There were two changes. It had to be part of a plan, a deliberate plan, to change the definition of the disabled, despite the fact you told this House that no decision about changing that definition had been made. It had to have been done deliberately.

It was no mistake, Minister: two changes that end up in the same place. So I ask you the question again, will you tell us, did you give the order in the first place for the regulations to be changed, for those regulation changes to be brought forward, and if you did not, who gave the direction for those changes to be made in the first place?

Hon Mr Tsubouchi: The mistake was made in fact that somehow the reference to the disabled was there. I've clearly said before that I instructed that any changes affecting the disabled should not be there, because we had not decided at that point in time, at any time, in fact right now, that the "disabled" definition should be changed. To attempt to suggest there was more than one mistake -- there was one mistake. The changes to correct that mistake were made.

Mrs McLeod: I raise the question yet again today because I believe that this minister and indeed this government owe the Legislature and the people of Ontario a very straight answer to what I consider to be an important question.

I know that these changes could not have been a mistake in the first place. My caucus knows these changes could not have been a mistake. I think the members opposite in the NDP caucus know that those changes could not have been a mistake. I suspect that people in the press gallery know that the changes could not have been a mistake. I suspect the people in your own caucus know that they could not have been a mistake. In fact I suspect people in the province of Ontario know these could not have been a mistake.

Minister, will you not just come clean, admit it was not a mistake and take some responsibility for the decisions you almost made?

Hon Mr Tsubouchi: Two days ago I admitted there was a mistake. I apologized to the House and I apologized to the people of Ontario for the mistake. I gave explicit instructions that any regulatory changes affecting the disabled be removed, and once again, regrettably, that was not done.

I think we're losing the real issue involved here, the fact that no cheques were ever affected for the disabled, no cheques were ever intended to be affected and no one from the disabled community has been affected by this at all adversely.


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

Mr Bob Rae (York South): I want to ask the Minister of Community and Social Services about the statement, since he was reading from it.

I want to just suggest to him that there must be a missing paragraph in the statement, because the statement says, "I would like to fully disclose to the Legislature the chronology of events that led up to issues raised in the House yesterday." That's one paragraph.

The next paragraph starts, "On August 29, staff of my ministry drafted a series of amendments." The logical paragraph in between would say either: "I gave instructions to my staff on the basis of a cabinet discussion," "on the basis of a discussion with the Premier's office," "on the basis of some sort of discussion. I then asked my staff.... " The staff wouldn't be producing amendments to regulations unless they were asked.

I'd like to ask the minister: Did he, prior to August 29, ask his staff to make changes to the regulations under the acts in question? Yes or no.

Hon Mr Tsubouchi: I'm sorry, I'm going to have to repeat my answer, but I clearly gave explicit instructions that any possible changes to the disabled should be removed and once again, regrettably, they were not. I've already apologized for this to the House. The mistake has been corrected, and in fact no one in the disabled community has been affected whatsoever.

Mr Rae: The minister didn't answer the question, because what he did was he read from the fourth paragraph, in which he describes what he did after August 29. He's saying that after August 29 people came to him and said, "Here are the regulations you asked for, Minister," or "Here are the regulations you asked us to draft." Then you said, according to this document, "I gave explicit instructions that any regulatory changes that affected the disabled be removed."

What I'm trying to find out, and I've been trying now for three successive days, is how it could possibly be that the ministry staff would've prepared such a range of regulatory changes, only some of which I would suggest we've seen -- I would suspect there are many others which we have not yet seen -- and how it would be that they would come to draft these regulations, unless you asked them to do so.

I'm therefore asking the minister again about the missing paragraph. What happened before August 29 that led your staff to draft these changes? What instructions did you give them that led them to make these changes?

Hon Mr Tsubouchi: My answer to the leader of the third party's question will be no different than last time. However, I will take the opportunity right now to say the reason I gave the instructions to make sure that there were no changes to anything dealing with the disabled community was because we're taking the time to examine what this all means. I think the disabled community is very important to us, and that's part of our commitment right now to ensure that they are not a part of the welfare system.

Mr Rae: This kind of stonewalling and this kind of patronizing of the disabled is not acceptable. I'm asking a very simple question, and I've asked it now for three days. The question has never been answered. He's never even given the courtesy of acknowledging the question. He runs away from the scrums, he runs away from everybody asking the questions. A simple question.


The Speaker: Order.

Mr Rae: They can shout all they want on the other side. They can try to cover this thing up, but they can't. Prior to August 29, somebody must've given the ministry staff instructions to make changes. There were two changes, not one.

In his statement the minister only admitted to one. He then discovered there were two. I want to ask the minister one more time, who was it who gave instructions to his staff prior to August 29 to make changes to regulations on social assistance? Who gave those instructions?

Hon Mr Tsubouchi: I'm going to have to answer this in my own way. Obviously, the leader of the third party is not hearing my answer to this matter.

Once again, our government really is concerned about the disabled community, and frankly, that's why the instructions were given, to make sure that --

Mr David S. Cooke (Windsor-Riverside): If you told the truth, it would be too embarrassing.

Mrs Margaret Marland (Mississauga South): On a point of order, Mr Speaker: The member for Windsor-Riverside just said in this House, "If this minister told the truth," and I would ask you to rule on whether that is acceptable, for a member of this House to accuse a minister of not telling the truth.

The Speaker: I would say to the member that I didn't hear him say it, but if the honourable member did say it, he has the opportunity to withdraw.

Mr Cooke: Mr Speaker, if I said anything that's inappropriate, I withdraw it. I should have said, "If the minister would come clean, he'd be embarrassed."

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


Mr Bob Rae (York South): If the minister is not prepared to answer the questions on that subject we will come back to it, but I'd also like to turn to another one now.

A few days ago the government changed its mind with respect to the funding of a project in Hamilton called the First Step program. As the minister will know, there are a number of programs that are covered by the community youth supports programs, which programs have been cancelled by the government.

I'd like to ask the minister: If restoring the government funding for the First Step program in Hamilton makes sense, why would it not also make sense to go back to all those other agencies which are carrying out precisely the same program, in one instance the Massey House, a Toronto maternity home which runs a young mothers' employment project which equips teen mothers with job search, interview and résumé preparation techniques? It's had a tremendous success record and this program has had to be cancelled. It's exactly the same program as the one in Hamilton. The only difference is, it wasn't visited by his Premier in the last few months and we don't have the record of it on video.

What I'd like to ask the minister is: If it makes sense to restore the funding to the First Step program -- which the government did, because they were clearly embarrassed by having had their leader visit the place, say what a wonderful job it was doing and then turn around and cancel the funding -- why would you be still cancelling the funding for exactly the same program, only this time it's in Toronto?

Hon David H. Tsubouchi (Minister of Community and Social Services): The question really doesn't address the real problem here. The real problem is that this government has inherited quite an extraordinary debt and quite an extraordinary deficit that somehow we have to deal with.

In fact it's too bad that we're speaking about things that the government is not doing; we should be talking about things that the government is doing. We're continuing to support many, many agencies out there in the community, and in fact we're spending over $2 billion on agencies and helping over 300,000 people.

Mr Rae: The government eliminated a program called the community youth supports programs. I'll tell him what happened; that's what happened. That's the first thing you did. Then you discovered that in so doing, you eliminated a project at a place in Hamilton which your leader had visited. Because that was on television, the member for Hamilton Centre, who is a very effective member, came forward and said, "Why are you cancelling this program?" Then a couple of days later you came into the House and said: "Ah, I have good news for the member. We're not cancelling that particular program."

Unfortunately what you did was, you undermined the faith that the people have across the province in your approach to managing this issue. You have programs which are in place right across Ontario. I mentioned one: Massey House. Last year they served 500 young women at a cost to the government of $114,000, which is $29 per person, a very successful project. The only trouble is, because it was in Toronto, Mike Harris didn't visit it. The Premier didn't visit it so he didn't get on video. We don't have a record of it.


I want to go back to the minister and ask him one more time a very simple question. If it doesn't make sense to cancel a program in Hamilton which is exactly the same kind of project, why does it suddenly make sense to do it in Toronto and elsewhere in the province? Why wouldn't you recognize that you made a mistake in cancelling the community youth support program? You've goofed again, another mistake, a deliberate mistake this time. Why wouldn't you recognize it rather than simply cherry-picking and giving benefits hither and thither?

Hon Mr Tsubouchi: I think that once again the leader of the third party is missing the point here. The point frankly is that it doesn't take much courage over a number of years to keep on writing blank cheques on the future of our children and in fact, that's what's happening.

To maintain the status quo doesn't do anything for the community or the province of Ontario and in fact, what it does is it increases the liability day by day. Quite frankly, we have sent the challenge out to the community. We believe that there are ways of doing more for less and being more efficient. We have to look back at exactly what caused the problem in the first place.

Mr Rae: Whenever I listen to the minister now I'm reminded of the statement that you can break a window with a hammer but the seagull still flies at dawn. If you say to me, you don't know what that means, I can say to the minister, I don't know what he means either. The project in Hamilton --

Mr James J. Bradley (St Catharines): He's got me flummoxed on that one.

Mr Rae: You wouldn't get it either. I know you wouldn't get it.

My question is not, "Do you agree?" My question is, it's a matter of trying at least to deal with what it is I'm asking you. A project is cancelled in Hamilton because it's part of the community youth support program. You cancelled the community youth support program. You change your mind because you get some negative publicity in Hamilton. But there are street kids, for example, now who are at the SOS centre run by the Anglican Houses in Toronto. It's an outreach program for kids who've been involved in drugs and prostitution; 50% of the youth say they were involved in prostitution before they were 16. The program has a significant success rate for getting troubled teenagers off the street and into jobs or education. It's a successful program. Ninety per cent of its funding has been cancelled because of what's taken place.

I want to ask the minister this question: If you're going to reinstate funding for something in Hamilton because you suddenly realize you've made a mistake, why wouldn't you realize that you've made a mistake across the board? You've made a mistake in Toronto, you've made a mistake in Hamilton, you've made a mistake in Guelph, you've made a mistake in Windsor. Everywhere you've cancelled this program, you've denied support for children and youth and getting them off the street. That's what you've done.

Hon Mr Tsubouchi: I'm actually quite surprised at the leader of the third party that he wasn't quoting at that point in time from Jabberwocky. However, I think we should look in terms of the merits of the program that in fact I support, and certainly the member for Hamilton Mountain supports, and that's the First Step program which enables single parents to get back to work. Clearly that's part of our mandate, to try to get people back to employment. We want to get people to break the cycle of dependency.


Mr Mike Colle (Oakwood): To the Minister of Transportation: Yesterday, I asked the minister to explain how he could justify the elimination of the emergency traffic patrol which is on the highways in the GTA and he referred to the fact that basically, these were unnecessary patrols because they were duplicating the private sector. He said they were unnecessary because people have cell phones. He said they were basically unnecessary for people's safety, so therefore he's putting these 10 trucks back into the maintenance yards.

The question I have for the minister is, does he realize that these emergency patrols also control accident scenes and help the OPP? They also remove debris from the highways, like flying tires or brake drums. Do you expect the private citizen or do you expect the tow-truck drivers to stop and remove debris from the highways? Will they stop and assist the OPP in containing a traffic scene? What is your answer to that, Minister?

Hon Al Palladini (Minister of Transportation): I would like to assure my colleague that public and highway safety is not in jeopardy by removing emergency patrol units. We still have OPP officers out there and there are a lot of service vehicles that we still have on the highway from the ministry that can certainly duplicate some of the services such as cleaning the debris, as the honourable member referred to.

Mr Colle: With the cutbacks and with the short staffing that exists with the OPP, with the cutbacks also on the COMPASS camera systems -- they're no longer operating 24 hours, they're now just going to operate 16 hours -- I really wonder whether the minister realizes that this accumulation of cutbacks is going to affect the safety of people who are going to be stranded on the highway or aren't going to have the money to pay tow-truck drivers.

Are you basically saying leave it up to chance and leave it up to a good Samaritan or leave it up to a tow-truck driver to take over the responsibility that your ministry has for safety? What good is it having a cell phone when you're stranded on the highway? What good is it having a cell phone, Minister?

Hon Mr Palladini: This service is solely operated in the GTA. This is a service that's strictly in the Toronto area and it does duplicate other services that the government offers presently. I would like to inform the public, the people of Ontario, that we were spending $900,000 to duplicate services that we already have. Where is the fiscal responsibility? How could we justify spending that money when the services that are in place are adequate?


Ms Frances Lankin (Beaches-Woodbine): In the absence of the Premier, I'd like to direct my question to the chair of treasury board. Yesterday in this House, we and members of the public listening received a clear and unequivocal commitment from the Premier that no matter what happens to the revenue picture in the province of Ontario, no matter how far below projections the real revenues that actually come to government end up being, the Harris government intends to proceed with a 30% income tax cut, 15% of that being achieved in year one.

I would like to ask the minister if he would confirm for us today if it is also your clear and unequivocal commitment that you will achieve the numbers in the CSR fiscal plan and bring in a budget that will achieve the CSR deficit projections as they are printed.

Hon David Johnson (Chair of the Management Board of Cabinet): I think the Premier outlined the fiscal situation of the province of Ontario accurately yesterday. The Premier has indicated the concern that we expressed during and after the election that over the past five years taxes have increased by $4 billion in the province of Ontario -- by the previous government, $4 billion.

Mr Gilles Pouliot (Lake Nipigon): Are you going to meet the target, yes or no?

Hon David Johnson: Yes, we were committed to rolling back that tax increase. The Premier yesterday reiterated the commitment of this government to follow through on the election promise. I think it's pretty clear to the people of the province of Ontario that we've already begun the process of reducing the expenditures of the province of Ontario. We've reduced $1.9 billion. In our estimation, in the province of Ontario we have a spending problem, not a revenue problem.

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

Hon David Johnson: We are committed to the promises that we have made in the Common Sense Revolution.


Ms Lankin: I'm assuming what the member meant by his answer is that you're committed to those promises, that you're committed to meeting those deficit targets. Well, there's no magic here. There are revenues and there are expenditures, and the difference between the two is either a deficit or it's a surplus. So we don't have a lot to work with at any given time.


Ms Lankin: I'm glad the members appreciate the Economics 101 lesson, because I want to explore these numbers with you. In the Finance minister's July economic statement, he indicated that in fact revenues were $1.4 billion lower than had been projected, primarily because of slower economic growth. This week, we hear that there is continued slower than expected economic growth, and that suggests probably a further $1.5-billion reduction in revenue from the forecast. So that's out there.

I want to ask you today about two areas that you haven't talked about that are a threat to revenues and that are not included in any of those numbers. First of all, as you continue to see a loss in revenues, you've committed to the tax cut, the size and timing of the tax cut and to the deficit targets. That means you have to cut more expenditures. There will be a corresponding drag on economic growth as a result of that.

The Speaker: Put the question, please.

Ms Lankin: Every time economic growth goes down, there is a decline in revenues. Mr Speaker, just one other point and I'll move right to the question then.

The Speaker: Put the question.

Ms Lankin: Okay. Let me put it to you very simply, then. I would argue you have completely underestimated the cost of your tax cut: $4.8 billion in the Common Sense Revolution; treasury says it's going to cost $2 billion more than that.

The Speaker: Would the member put her question.

Ms Lankin: Will you confirm for me today, with all of the other commitments you've made, that in addition to the $9-billion cuts we know about, you will now have to make $2-billion to $3-billion cuts more in public services next --

The Speaker: The question has been asked.

Hon David Johnson: I don't know if there was one question there or a number of questions or whatever, but clearly this government has laid its path: that we have a spending problem in the province of Ontario, not a revenue problem.

We have already begun on the process of a $1.9-billion cut. This fall, the Minister of Finance will be coming forward with a statement which will speak to the relationship with the transfer partners, and we'll be seeing the amount of money that will be available to the transfer partners. That'll be a second step. Next spring, the Minister of Finance will issue the first full budget of the province of Ontario. We will see further reductions there.

In addition to that, we are working on plans to privatize and other cost-saving measures of the province of Ontario. I wish to assure the member opposite that there are a number of plans in place. This government intends to live up to its commitments.


M. Ed Doyle (Wentworth-Est) : Ma question est dirigée au ministre responsable des Affaires francophones. Hier le premier ministre, M. Harris, a réaffirmé que la communauté franco-ontarienne va continuer d'être desservie dans sa langue. J'ai été bien content de l'entendre à nouveau.

Ma question est au sujet de ladite fermeture du Centre de santé communautaire de Hamilton-Wentworth-Niagara. Les francophones de ma circonscription veulent savoir si la réduction de l'enveloppe du counselling pour les adultes avait comme cible les francophones.

L'hon Noble A. Villeneuve (ministre de l'Agriculture, de l'Alimentation et des Affaires rurales, ministre délégué aux Affaires francophones) : À mon collègue de Wentworth-Est, je le remercie pour la question, une question qui agitait plusieurs gens. Le retranchement des services de counselling n'était jamais orienté vers la fermeture des centres de santé communautaires dans la région de Hamilton et Niagara. Les compressions budgétaires avaient pour but de protéger les services primaires de santé offerts à la communauté. J'apprends aujourd'hui même que le Centre communautaire de Hamilton-Wentworth -- Niagara reste ouvert pour continuer à desservir sa francophonie locale.

M. Doyle : Je remercie le ministre pour sa réponse. Les francophones de ma région seront fiers d'entendre que le Centre de santé communautaire de Hamilton-Wentworth -- Niagara trouve des moyens de se réorganiser pour continuer de desservir les francophones.

Ma question supplémentaire est celle-ci : La confusion y règne toujours. Les médias nous disent que les francophones ne seront plus desservis dans leur langue. Qu'est-ce qui arrive aux services en français en Ontario ?

L'hon M. Villeneuve : Ce gouvernement est engagé à continuer à desservir sa francophonie comme toujours, d'après la Loi 8, telle qu'originellement inaugurée ici dans cette rassemblée. Nous allons continuer les services sociaux dans les districts de Cochrane -- et mon ami va certainement être d'accord -- la région d'Ottawa-Carleton, la région de Stormont-Dundas-Glengarry et un peu partout à travers la province de l'Ontario où les régions sont désignées.

Nous continuons à desservir notre minorité francophone en Ontario.


Mr Dominic Agostino (Hamilton East): My question is for the Minister of Community and Social Services. On October 3, the minister said that he had a sample budget that indicated how a single person or a single parent with a child could survive after his 21.6% welfare cuts. I quote from Hansard: "I have it here in this binder. I'd be willing to share this with the leader of the third party."

We certainly, first of all, hope that the budget includes the cost of a cell phone in case the individuals' cars break down.

Since that time, my leader, members of our caucus and third-party members have continuously asked the minister for the sample budget to show the people of Ontario how they can survive on these cuts. Today, on October 19, over two weeks later, Minister, this is no longer an issue of the budget; it has become a question of credibility and a question of your credibility as a minister. This budget has not been released.

I ask you, Minister, did you have the budget with you on October 3, and, if that budget exists, can you please send it over to the opposition now?

Hon David H. Tsubouchi (Minister of Community and Social Services): Actually, if I recall, the commitment was made to the leader of the third party. Earlier in the week I spoke to the member for Windsor-Riverside. We discussed the matter. We had agreed that before the end of the week I will deliver the sample budget over to him. I will provide the same courtesy to the Leader of the Opposition.

Mr Agostino: Again, the answer of the minister is not good enough. The answer of the minister is not credible. How can you have us sit in this House and believe that for a budget that 16 days ago you had in your binder, you have not had the courtesy yet to send it across the floor to either the leader of the third party or the Leader of the Opposition? Does it take 16 days to photocopy a sample budget and send it across the floor?

Mr Minister, it has become a question of credibility. It has become a question of your credibility. You do not realize that this ongoing comedy of errors on your part is not only damaging your ministry --

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

Mr Agostino: -- not only damaging your credibility; it is damaging the ministry from one end of the province to another.

I ask you again, Mr Minister, if the budget is there and if the budget is in front of you, why will you not send it across the floor right now, this moment, and start the process to restore whatever credibility you might have left as minister?

Hon Mr Tsubouchi: The commitment was made to the leader of the third party. We had made arrangements earlier on in the week to provide the sample budget through the member for Windsor-Riverside. I said as a courtesy we would give one, although no commitment was made, to the Leader of the Opposition.

Without question, there are concerns about people meeting their daily needs on a restricted budget, and whether it be people on welfare or the working poor of this province, I realize that meeting these challenges is not going to be easy.

What I've asked my ministry to do, in addition, is to seek advice from an independent third party to provide a tool for the front-line troops. This action is intended to assist them assist families who are living on restricted budgets. This will provide individuals seeking budgetary information. This plan can be used by front-line personnel to really assist families, whether they are on welfare or are the working poor.

I indicated earlier on that I would provide a copy to the member for Windsor-Riverside before the end of the week. He seemed to be satisfied with that earlier in the week.



Ms Marilyn Churley (Riverdale): I have a question for the Minister of Environment and Energy. Madam Minister, in light of speculation about the imminent replacement of Maurice Strong by Bill Farlinger -- by the way, a well-known proponent of privatization and, incidentally, a long-term fund-raiser and chair of the Harris government transition team -- as chair of Ontario Hydro, and in light of the comments made by the president of Hydro yesterday in Calgary, can the minister inform the House whether the government intends to privatize Hydro?

Hon Brenda Elliott (Minister of Environment and Energy): I thank the member for the question. In the Common Sense Revolution, we committed, first of all, to a five-year rate freeze for Ontario Hydro, and also to consider restructuring for Ontario Hydro. At this point in time, the government is undertaking a review about what and how to go about looking at restructuring of Ontario Hydro.

Ms Churley: I believe the answer to the question was yes. In light of the comments made by the president, and let me quote -- "hopes to achieve `complete unbundling' of its facilities and services by January 1, 2001. He said that this would allow Ontario Hydro later to sell off certain assets or to form equity partnerships with private investors" etc -- it seems the two people who are being appointed to the most prominent positions certainly have their agenda set out.

I would like to know who else the minister is consulting with and talking to about the future of Hydro. Is she doing as she is in other matters of the environment and only consulting with a certain sector, or is she also consulting with other people who have different ideas and other ideas of where Hydro should be going? Can she be more specific about her views of where Hydro should go?

Hon Mrs Elliott: There are two matters that need to be considered in any matter of restructuring Ontario Hydro. The first is competitive rates. That's very important to Ontario's economy. The second is the stable delivery of electricity across this province.

Since I entered the Ministry of Environment and Energy, we have received a number of submissions and have met with a great number of stakeholders already. At this point in time, we are considering how to go forward. We will be doing that carefully, with a great deal of thought, and we will be looking to ensure the safe and best delivery of hydro to all the customers in Ontario.


Mr Bart Maves (Niagara Falls): My question is to the Minister of Education and Training. I would like to congratulate the member for Beaches-Woodbine for using the word "surplus" today. I don't think the people of Ontario thought it was in the vocabulary of the third party.

Mr Speaker, as the members opposite do, I digress.

Many students in my riding tell me their worries about not being able to find a good job after graduation. They are concerned because they have difficulty seeing a connection between the skills they are being taught in school and those required by employers in today's economy. Has the minister taken any steps to ensure the establishment of linkages between the education system and today's working world?

Hon John Snobelen (Minister of Education and Training): I thank the member for the question. The honourable member can be assured that the Ministry of Education and Training is doing everything it can to encourage partnerships between educators and the broader community, including the business community.

The colleges and universities of the province of Ontario have established deep and long relationships with the business community, and in addition to those relationships, over 60,000 students in the province of Ontario are actively engaged in cooperative programs between high schools and businesses in their communities.

There are other well-known partnerships in the education sector, including several in the Wentworth area and several in the Windsor area.

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

Hon Mr Snobelen: Yes. This week, I attended a conference in the Hamilton-Wentworth area where industry and education people came together to talk about partnerships; in fact, over 500 people were in attendance at that conference.

Mr Maves: I thank the minister for his answer. What has the minister done to ensure that younger students also become familiar with skills required in the workforce?

Hon Mr Snobelen: We believe it's never too early for children to become aware of the world in which their parents work. In fact, there are several programs geared towards younger children in the province of Ontario, including a program designed for young people initiated by the Learning Partnership, called the Take Our Kids to Work Day. I'm pleased to report that as a result of this program last year, over 150,000 grade 9 students in the province of Ontario attended a place of work of their parents.


The Speaker: Order. The member for Windsor-Sandwich is out of order.

The member for Oriole, with a new question.


Mrs Elinor Caplan (Oriole): My question is to the Minister of Community and Social Services. Minister, do you believe that the Ontario Association of Interval and Transition Houses has a valid concern regarding your cuts to second-stage housing for victims of family violence?

Hon David H. Tsubouchi (Minister of Community and Social Services): I'd like to address this by saying first of all that we're still providing over $60 million for shelters for women. We have provided programming in women's shelters, in the first-stage shelters, and certainly through the Ministry of Housing we still continue all the residential components of second-stage housing. To us, it certainly is important to address the matter of shelters for women.

Mrs Caplan: Minister, I'm going to take that bit of jabberwocky as a yes, you think they have a valid concern. I agree that they have a valid concern.

This morning they met with your colleague the minister responsible for women's issues to discuss these issues and they asked if she would assist in setting up a meeting with you, notwithstanding the fact that in the House, when speaking about second-stage housing projects, your colleague said she would be happy to meet with representatives concerned about second-stage housing. She also said, "I'm certain my colleague involved would be as well."

I have a question for you today that you can answer with a simple yes. Since your colleague says she's unable to arrange for that meeting and has refused to help the group, would you commit today in the House to meet with the Ontario Association of Interval and Transition Houses to discuss this serious issue of the cuts to second-stage housing? A simple yes, as opposed to more jabberwocky from you, Minister.

Hon Mr Tsubouchi: Yes.



Mr Len Wood (Cochrane North): To the Minister of Northern Development and Mines, recently the government announced plans to close the minerals incentive office in Sudbury, and a number of programs have been cut as a result of this action. To name two: the Ontario prospectors assistance program, which provides assistance to individual prospectors to seek out new mines, and the Ontario mineral incentive program, which provides grants to companies and individuals for grass-roots mineral exploration.

The mining industry has created many jobs in the north and any cuts to such programs would be detrimental to the economic development of the north as a whole. Can the minister confirm that these programs are to be cut and advise what other mining programs you plan to cut?

Hon Chris Hodgson (Minister of Natural Resources, Northern Development and Mines): I want to assure the member and all the members of the Legislature that mining is a very important sector of our economy in Ontario. It generates a lot of wealth, and the member knows from his home riding that it's very important.

He also realizes that these are difficult times in terms of the fiscal realities of Ontario and there have to be cuts made. As has been pointed out by the leader of your party, there's a consensus that government has to reduce its spending. What we're trying to do is prioritize where these cuts are made.

This is very important. I want to assure the member that I recognize the need for these incentive programs he talked about, but we're looking at ways they can maybe be delivered differently or better, and those programs are all under review. I can tell him that we made our targets as part of the July statement by the Treasurer of Ontario. They were announced and rolled out last week.

It's not an easy time for the employees who have worked hard on behalf of the province of Ontario, but I can tell you that it's necessary and we're looking at innovative ways to provide services in the future to help the mining sector in all northern Ontario.

Mr Len Wood: Some 80% of all new mines for exploration in Canada are discovered by the single prospector or junior mining companies that do not own mines.

I might point out that over 240 of them were out there last year that depended on some type of assistance from the government to put food on the table. I'm sure you've received a copy of the same four-page letter I received, the concern that these people are being thrown out of work as a result of what you're doing. I might point out that the Voisey Bay, Newfoundland, mine was found by an individual prospector.

What does the government have in the future for helping out these prospectors and junior companies in locating mines and finding work over the next year or so?

Hon Mr Hodgson: I want to assure the member that this is under review. I recognize the importance of this program. What we want to point out as well, of importance to his riding and to all the north and to all of Ontario, is that this government is committed to a number of initiatives that will help the mining sector as a whole: WCB reform, the freeze in Ontario Hydro rates for five years, cutting red tape, finding better ways to deliver on programs -- these are all things this government can reform that will help the mining sector.

What your question refers to is the prospectors. I'm aware of and thank him for his input, and I'm reviewing it. As soon as we've made up our mind I'll let him know. I appreciate his question.


Mrs Helen Johns (Huron): My question is to the Minister of Environment and Energy. Minister, as you're aware, the agricultural members of my riding are plainly interested in environmental issues. Your colleague the Minister of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs, the member for S-D-G & East Grenville, has spoken many times in this House on the matters of importance to the agricultural community. Having grown up on a farm, I know that you too are well aware of the farming life, and I would be obliged if you would tell this House what your ministry is doing to help the farmers of this province.

Ms Frances Lankin (Beaches-Woodbine): I'm from London, Ontario. He's from Quebec. Where are you from?

Hon Brenda Elliott (Minister of Environment and Energy): I'd like to thank my colleague the member for Huron for the question. She's quite right. I was brought up on a dairy farm -- quite proud of it. It happened to be in the county of Huron -- also quite proud of that.

This government is working with the federal government on a classification system that will streamline the availability of pesticides within Ontario. One of my ministry officials sits on the federal-provincial-territorial committee to harmonize pesticide classifications. Modern farmers, who now face global challenges and global competition, are concerned about the availability and competitiveness of pesticides because those are some of the tools they need for food production.

This government is committed to not putting up obstacles to farmers who need a level playing field. We are working with the Minister of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs --

The Speaker (Hon Allan K. McLean): Wrap up your answer.

Hon Mrs Elliott: -- and with the farming community to improve and ensure safe handling and disposal practices.

I would like to assure my colleague and members of the government that my ministry and I appreciate the farmers of Ontario, and we are very conscious of their environmental concerns and the impacts of those environmental concerns on farming practices.

Mrs Johns: As the minister is aware, the round table task force on agriculture and food produced a report with a set of recommendations, some of which were of concern to farmers. Can the minister tell the House, what is the status of the Ontario Round Table on Environment and Economy?

Hon Mrs Elliott: I would like to assure the member that this government recognizes, as I've said before, that farmers are good stewards of the land in Ontario. Their commitment to the environment cannot be questioned.

The Ontario Round Table on Environment and Economy has fostered dialogue and bridged differences among many interest groups throughout this province towards the goal of sustainable development. We have sincerely appreciated the work they have done for us in the past, but in recent weeks, in light of fiscal restraint, we have reviewed the future of the round table and decided that, as part of its sunsetting clause, its work should be completed.

I am pleased to report that we have had encouraging discussions with York University about investing in the school the round table's --

The Speaker: Wrap up your answer, please.

Hon Mrs Elliott: -- valuable collection of books and materials and --

The Speaker: Would the minister take her seat, please. New Question, the member for Essex-Kent.


Mr Pat Hoy (Essex-Kent): There was a story in the Chatham Daily News last week which illustrates the bureaucracy run amok.

Two of my constituents, Starla and Randy Wilkinson, may lose their house because of an Environment ministry regulatory bind. They got approval from the septic system inspector and the building inspector to renovate their property.

Halfway through the renovation, the Lower Thames Valley Conservation Authority advised that new ministry enforcement of old regulation 358/90 since April 1, 1995, requires them to install a $25,000 septic system, which they cannot afford.

The bank won't lend them any more money, and they probably can't sell the house because the ministry will fine the property $300 per day. The house may even have to be abandoned.

My question to the Minister of Environment is, what are you going to do to assist my constituents to ensure that they do not lose their home?

Hon Brenda Elliott (Minister of Environment and Energy): I thank the member for the question. As we discussed yesterday, my ministry is aware of the concerns of the residents in this area. I have, as I notified the member, asked my ministry to relook at this situation, and we will inform him shortly of our decision.



Mr Alvin Curling (Scarborough North): "To the Legislative Assembly of Ontario:

"Whereas the Minister of Housing has cancelled almost 400 non-profit housing projects; and

"Whereas tenants expecting to live in those developments have been given no other housing alternatives; and

"Whereas the waiting list for affordable housing is growing each day; and

"Whereas the cancelled housing projects would have provided the disabled and the elderly with affordable housing;

"We, the undersigned, petition the Legislative Assembly of Ontario to urge the Minister of Housing to reconsider these drastic cuts to affordable housing in Ontario, and to develop a housing plan that reflects the needs of tenants."

I affix my signature to this very able petition.


Mr Gilles Bisson (Cochrane South): I move adjournment of the House.

The Speaker (Hon Allan K. McLean): The member for Cochrane South has moved adjournment of the House. Is it the pleasure of the House that the motion carry?

All those in favour, say "aye."

All those opposed, say "nay."

In my opinion, the nays have it.

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

The division bells rang from 1451 to 1521.

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

All those in favour of Mr Bisson's motion will please rise and remain standing.

All those opposed will please rise.

Clerk of the House (Mr Claude L. DesRosiers): The ayes are 28, the nays 59.

The Speaker: I declare the motion lost.

Petitions? The member for Dufferin-Peel.


Mr David Tilson (Dufferin-Peel): I had a petition to read with respect to Bill 7, but instead I now move that we proceed to orders of the day.

Mr David S. Cooke (Windsor-Riverside): Point of order.

The Speaker: Well, the motion has been put and the motion is in order.

Mr Cooke: I don't believe the motion is in order.

The Speaker: The motion is in order.

Mr Cooke: May I speak to it?

The Speaker: No.

All those in favour of the motion?

All those opposed to the motion?

In my opinion, the ayes have it.

Call in the members; a 30-minute bell.

The division bells rang from 1524 to 1554.

The Speaker: Mr Tilson has moved that we proceed to orders of the day.

All those in favour of Mr Tilson's motion will please rise.

All those opposed will please rise.

Clerk of the House: The ayes are 53; the nays 23.

The Speaker: I declare the motion carried.



Resuming the adjourned debate on the motion for 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 / Projet de loi 7, Loi visant à rétablir l'équilibre et la stabilité dans les relations de travail et à promouvoir la prospérité économique et apportant des modifications corrélatives à des lois en ce qui concerne les relations de travail.

Hon Norman W. Sterling (Minister of Consumer and Commercial Relations): Mr Speaker, there was an agreement between the House leaders that the order of speakers would be 60 minutes on the government side, 60 minutes on the opposition side and then to return to the member for Hamilton Centre for the remainder of his hour and 18 minutes.

That was the agreement between House leaders that would be the order of speakers. So the member for Nepean is our next speaker.

The Speaker (Hon Allan K. McLean): I recognize the member for Nepean.

Mr John R. Baird (Nepean): I'm pleased to rise in support of Bill 7 --

Mr David S. Cooke (Windsor-Riverside): Mr Speaker, on a point of order: I'd like to rise on a point of order with respect to section 106 of the rules with respect to setting up the standing committees of the Legislature. I repeat, as I said yesterday, that the standing order states, and I quote:

"Within the first 10 sessional days following the commencement of each session in a Parliament the membership of the following standing committees shall" -- and I emphasize again the word "shall" -- "be appointed for the duration of the session."

Yesterday, Mr Speaker, you gave a ruling that yesterday was not the appropriate day, but I think you gave a very clear ruling that you were not going to tolerate a very long period of time, for which the rules were not set up.

We have had discussions about the establishment of the standing committees. I would like to say that the position the government has taken or the acting government House leader has taken, that in fact the motion can be dealt with but that it's going to be dealt with in a way that will all be done by consent and there will not be any debate, is unacceptable.

I want to again refer to the standing orders, which say that this is a substantive motion. In fact, in the section of the rules that refers to the definition of a substantive motion, the establishment of the standing committees is specifically referred to.

A substantive motion, as you know, Mr Speaker, is one which is debatable, and I don't think the government House leader or anyone else should take the position, "We're not going to call the motion because the motion is going to be debated." That's the position the government is taking.

We're now well past the 10 days that the rules state. We cannot deal with appointments. There are over 300 appointments that this government has made since it has been sworn in. We cannot call any of those appointments before the standing committee.

When and if the estimates are ever tabled -- I suspect the estimates were not tabled today, again because this motion has not been introduced to establish the committees. You cannot bring the estimates to the House, which are deemed to be reported to a standing committee, when the standing committees have not been established, so we don't get the estimates.

There's another very important item that we've all agreed, and you have stated in the House, will be referred to a standing committee, the security in this place. That is a very essential item for us to deal with.

None of those items can be dealt with because the government refuses to call the motion to set up the committees, as it's obliged to under the rules -- not optional; it's obliged to. It says "shall." They won't call that motion.

Mr Speaker, I ask you, the guardian of the standing orders and the protector of both majority and minority rights in this place, to take the appropriate steps and call the motion to establish the committees so we can debate that motion appropriately in the House.


The Speaker: The member for Carleton on the same point of order.

Hon Mr Sterling: If this wasn't such an important matter, I wouldn't be objecting to it as much as I am, but what appears to be happening here in this House is that the third party, notwithstanding what the electorate of Ontario said to this party, wants to govern this province in this Legislature.

Mr Speaker, you know that on Tuesday, in order to live within the standing rules and the spirit of the standing rules, we called this particular order. We had some debate on it, and it was obvious that the third party was prolonging the debate and stalling.

I think the nature of the motion is this: Each party is asked to put forward the names of people they want sitting on the various committees of this Legislature. Our party put forward its names, the opposition party put forward its names and the New Democratic Party put forward its names -- at a very, very late date, even though we had asked for them weeks ago. Therefore, each party put forward the names.

I have been in this Legislature for 18 years and I have not had a debate on this particular matter before, because it is thought to be a matter on which everybody seeks consensus as to whom each party wants on each committee, and therefore, while the House leader for the third party would characterize this as a substantive motion, what it has been treated as in practice is a routine motion almost.

I want to say to you that after we have debate this afternoon for a while on Bill 7, I would be pleased to adjourn the debate and go to this particular motion, if that is in your interest, and I offer that as a solution to the problem.

Mr Cooke: Mr Speaker --

The Speaker: Order. Yesterday I ruled on this very issue. I indicated that the House leaders should get together and come to a conclusion on this matter. I don't think further discussion with regard to those rules today is serving any useful purpose, but I would think that the House leaders should get together and come to a consensus with regard to that very issue.

Orders of the day. The member for Nepean.

Mr Baird: Balance and stability in labour relations and economic prosperity is the real priority of this government.

Mr Cooke: Mr Speaker, on a point of order.

The Speaker: I recognize the member for Windsor-Riverside. Is it the same point of order?

Mr Cooke: Mr Speaker, I'd just like --

The Speaker: Is it the same point of order?

Mr Cooke: Mr Speaker, you have different rules today than you had yesterday.

The Speaker: If it is, I have ruled on it.

Mr Cooke: Your ruling today is different than it was yesterday. It is, Mr Speaker. Yesterday you said there was a time at which you would step in.

The Speaker: Order. I ruled on it yesterday. I think my ruling was proper and I will abide by the same ruling today. Any further discussion on this issue is redundant at this time.

I recognize the member for Nepean.

Mr Baird: These reforms fulfil a key promise made by our party and our leader, Mike Harris, in the recent provincial election.

My colleagues and I believe that Bill 40 upset the delicate balance in labour relations in this province. It killed jobs, drove away investment and shackled industry, enterprise and small business in the province of Ontario.

Our reforms to the Labour Relations Act represent, in our view, the culmination of four years of broad public consultation and broad public debate on this issue.

Back in 1991 when Labour Minister Bob Mackenzie appointed the labour law reform committee, with representatives from both business and labour, he gave it 30 days to consider 30 potential changes. But they couldn't agree on these proposed changes.

The business representatives from the committee said that there was no demonstrable need for them. In their own words in 1991, they said:

"Our labour legislation...is already the most comprehensive in North America. If it undergoes the kind of radical change that is envisaged in these" -- Bill 40 -- "proposals, we shall merely add to the existing pressures which threaten the maintenance of jobs in" this province. "We will also reduce the chances of obtaining new investment and new jobs."

Unfortunately, the then Minister of Labour didn't hear these warnings and dismissed them out of hand, at a time when Ontario was in desperate need of private sector investment and job creation.

Less surprisingly, the labour representatives on the committee endorsed the NDP's wish list.

In 1991, a cabinet document was leaked and it stated very clearly, it spoke of the need for the NDP "to neutralize opposition from the business community" on this very important issue.

In November 1991, Bob Mackenzie released a discussion paper that launched another province-wide consultation on the proposed changes to the Labour Relations Act, and then they went through first and second readings in this place and committee hearings across the province.

Finally, in November 1992, our party was very pleased to join with our friends in the official opposition in opposing this bill. Every member of the Conservative Party in this place joined every member of the Liberal Party in this place and voted against Bill 40.

Our party even went so far as to place an ad in the Globe and Mail that week which said quite clearly that we would repeal Bill 40, signed by our leader, to be clear and specific to the people of the province of Ontario. That same commitment was placed on large signs in PC campaign offices across the province during the recent election campaign to show people that we were very serious in wanting to bring real change to Ontario.

We also included it as a major component in the Common Sense Revolution, ou la Révolution de bon sens, which was sent to literally hundreds of thousands, even millions of homes across the province. Repealing Bill 40 was a key element in our plan to create jobs and eliminate barriers to job creation and encourage investment in the province of Ontario.

Our leader, our platform and our candidates have been very clear on this issue. Everyone has known the simple fact that, if elected, we would repeal Bill 40. We wouldn't study it, not review it, not amend it. We said we would repeal it, and we said we would repeal it to create jobs and encourage investment in Ontario, and that's what we're doing this week.

Let me be clear that the Liberal Party hasn't pulled any punches in their criticism of Bill 40 either. In 1992 the honourable member for Fort William said that Bill 40 would "polarize labour and management to an extent never seen in this province." The Leader of the Opposition went on to say, "This legislation" -- Bill 40 -- "is clearly driving investments from Ontario at the very time when we most need policies that will create a positive climate for investment in this province."

And she wasn't alone in this House. The honourable member for Renfrew North, who's not with us today, indicated very clearly that this bill, this "untimely legislation...is fundamentally unbalanced." He added that, "Bill 40 will hurt, not help, economic recovery and it will hurt, not help, job creation."

These statements were true in 1992 when they were made; they were true when the Liberal Party drafted their red book during the recent election campaign; and they're just as true today as this government works to create hope and opportunity and jobs in Ontario.

During the election campaign, our commitment to repeal Bill 40 was well known across the province. It was discussed at all-candidates meetings and by candidates at the doorsteps and on the main streets of small-town Ontario. It was published in campaign literature, debated on television and covered in the newspapers.

In fact the previous government used to brag about how much consultation was carried out on this issue, and, to be very clear, our proposal to repeal Bill 40 is a product of that debate.

We put our proposals to the voters of Ontario and they rendered a clear and unequivocal verdict. We had the largest-possible consultation on this issue. The member for Lanark-Renfrew bragged that this was the biggest consultation ever taken on a single issue.

We were very clear with 10 million people in Ontario. We were very clear in our consultations with 10 million people across the province during the 40-day election campaign that this would be done, and we got a resounding vote of confidence, as evidenced by the results of the June 8 elections.

Our Minister of Labour, Elizabeth Witmer, has engaged in extensive public consultations with regard to the improvements that this government is proposing in workplace democracy. Numbered among these respondents were 68 employer associations and 17 community groups and academics, in addition to 47 unions. Furthermore, the members of this Legislature discussed these changes with constituents for many, many months.

Personally, I've spoken with, among others, members of the United Steelworkers of America and many small business people to obtain their input on these workplace democracy initiatives.


Bill 7 will restore a delicate balance to the workplace. It will attract new investment to Ontario and it will proclaim very loudly around this world that Ontario is open for business once again. Essentially, it returns labour relations to the level playing field which existed in 1992 prior to Bill 40. It does not set labour relations back 40 years, as some critics have suggested.

Bill 7 also repeals Bill 91, the Agricultural Labour Relations Act, a bill that was strongly opposed in rural Ontario and small-town Ontario, and we're very pleased to include the repeal of the Agricultural Labour Relations Act as part of Bill 7.

Bill 7 lifts the ban on replacement workers, protecting the basic right of employers to maintain their operations during a labour dispute. Bill 7 also contains, as I mentioned earlier, workplace democracy measures which will strengthen the democratic rights of individual workers. This is good news for working people in the province of Ontario. Specifically, these include mandatory secret ballots for union certification, contract ratification and strike votes.

Those of us on this side of the House believe that secret ballot votes will more accurately determine the true issues of workers in this province. It will legitimize decision-making processes in the eyes of workers and employers alike, as it will strengthen the collective bargaining process as a whole, and it will remove many of the costly and litigious features of the current Labour Relations Act.

I ask, who could oppose secret ballots to determine the true wishes of workers? Who could oppose the very format, the very way we were all elected to this House? A secret ballot will be held for union certification that will allow people to make a private decision, a secret decision.

Mr Bud Wildman (Algoma): We should bring the secret ballot to votes in here.

Mr Baird: My friend opposite will be encouraged to learn that normally these votes will be held within five days, which will be good news.

We have made the processes for union certification and decertification more equal. Now, secret ballots will be held if 40% support for certification or decertification is demonstrated in a workplace.

The purpose clause of the Ontario Labour Relations Act is being rewritten to promote harmonious labour relations. It recognizes the benefits of productivity, investment and job creation. Those are three priorities for this government: creating jobs, increasing productivity and encouraging investment in the province of Ontario. That's good news for workers.

Bill 7 contains provisions which will encourage the workplace parties to resolve problems on their own, including a quick consultation process in cases where full-fledged OLRB hearings are not necessary, the use of consensual mediation and arbitration and the assignment of certain cases to a single vice-chair.

I recently spoke with some Steelworkers who were particularly concerned with provisions affecting the unionization of the security guard industry. For the first time, Bill 40 allowed security guards to join unions which represent other workers and it allowed individual bargaining units to represent both guards and non-guards. Business people have argued that this presents a conflict of interest for guards charged with the responsibility of protecting property in the event of a strike. My friends in the Steelworkers will be very pleased to hear that we enshrined a process which will allow the Ontario Labour Relations Board to determine whether or not there is a conflict of interest on a case-by-case basis.

Bill 7 also includes a mechanism which is proven to effectively resolve jurisdictional disputes in the construction field. This will include a speeded-up resolution process that will be good news for those in the construction industry. These measures have broad support among all parties, I believe.

The people of this province want to get the province moving again as an engine of economic prosperity and growth. We should and must encourage them in that effort, and Bill 7 does just that.

The Canadian Manufacturers' Association has stated quite clearly that this legislation will have a positive impact on the economy and will send out a signal that Ontario is open for business once again. The CMA vice-president for Ontario, Paul Nykanen, says that Bill 7 will make Ontario more competitive while protecting the rights of employers and employees in this province.

The Hudson's Bay Co has already announced that they expect to create thousands of new jobs in the province of Ontario when we repeal this bill, and that's good news for workers. Jobs are good news for workers in this province.

Mr Wildman: What about Nestlé? What did Nestlé have to say?

Mr Baird: If my honourable colleague wants to go for a coffee, he can go outside the chamber.

This is a stark contrast to the situation surrounding the passage of Bill 40. Again, the member for Fort William clearly outlined the consequences of Bill 40 back in 1992. At that time she, the honourable member for Fort William, informed this Legislature that Dare Foods had cancelled plans to open a plant in Ontario and that Long Manufacturing had chosen to construct an upcoming plant in Michigan. Both were a direct result of Bill 40, she said, and if she said it, it must be true.

It is not surprising that there's a lot of support for Bill 7 across the province. In my own constituency, the Nepean Chamber of Commerce president referred to Bill 40 as "the worst piece of legislation that ever came to Ontario." His sentiments reflect a particular concern for the competitiveness of small business in this province, the number one source for new job creation. These people have first-hand knowledge of the need for equitable legislation to promote investment and business expansion.

If I could, I'd like to address one area that is of deep concern to me personally and to my constituents in Nepean: the spectre of violence that has been raised and even advocated by some individuals opposed to this bill. I think it goes without saying that there is no place for this kind of activity in our society. I make no apologies for fulfilling the promises we made to the electorate. That is what democracy is all about. Those who advocate violence and intimidation show a contempt for democracy which we simply cannot afford to accept.

In the words of the Right Honourable John Diefenbaker, "Our system of democracy is not something to tinker with lightly, or lay aside thoughtlessly." I think all members of this House will be very much against the spectre of labour unrest and violence, and we'd want to send that message out very clearly across the province of Ontario. That is certainly a very big issue of concern to people in this province, and I think we want to send a very clear and unequivocal message that violence of any sort in our society is unacceptable and it's wrong.

If we are to create hope, opportunity and jobs in communities across Ontario we need to support the people rather than hinder their efforts in creating jobs. Bill 7 provides this support by ensuring that the rights of employers and employees are equally protected. Bill 7 will create jobs, encourage investment in this province, and I'm very pleased to speak on its passage.

Hon David Johnson (Chair of the Management Board of Cabinet): I'm pleased to rise as the Chair of Management Board and speak to the 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. In particular, I would like to address those parts of the bill dealing with the Crown Employees Collective Bargaining Act, the statute that governs labour relations in the Ontario public service and crown agencies, and the Public Service Act.

The proposed amendments respond to the changes brought about by the repeal of Bill 40 and to increase the flexibility of the government as an employer. The amendments proposed to CECBA are needed to ensure that the public service sector environment parallels the changes that will occur with the repeal of Bill 40. In addition, the proposed amendments will give government the flexibility it needs to proceed with the major restructuring of the Ontario public service, one that will ultimately result in a more efficient and smaller organization. We promised the people of Ontario that we would cut the size of government and provide them with better government for less. We are now positioning ourselves to deliver on that promise.


Mr Wildman: Point of order.

The Acting Speaker (Ms Marilyn Churley): Point of order, the member for Algoma.

Mr Wildman: I draw your attention, Madam Speaker, to standing order 23(d), page 16 of the Standing Orders. I didn't raise it with the previous speaker, since he was a new member to the House and I didn't want to interrupt his speech. But surely an experienced member like the Chair of Management Board will be aware that the standing orders indicate that a member is out of order if, "In the opinion of the Speaker," he or she "refers at length to debates of the current session," which he is not doing, "or reads unnecessarily from verbatim reports of the legislative debates," which he is not doing, "or any other document."

It appears that the member is reading at length from a document. He can just table the document. It's not necessary for him to give a speech reading the document. Unless he is just referring at great length to notes, the member is indeed, I would think if you consider it, out of order.

The Acting Speaker: I would say to the member for Algoma that the member for Don Mills is not out of order. As he well knows, members frequently require notes when they're making a speech. I believe I've seen at times the member himself on occasions reading from notes.

Mr Wildman: I never read a speech verbatim. I don't know how.

The Acting Speaker: Order, please. I can assure the member that I will keep a close eye on the member for Don Mills to make sure that he is applying the rules of the House to his speech.

Hon David Johnson: Nice try. I thank you, Madam Speaker, for that most enlightened ruling.

To proceed with my ad-lib speech, at the same time that we're doing this I believe it is important to reiterate that nothing in the amendments to CECBA fundamentally alters the collective bargaining rights of the vast majority of Ontario government employees. More than 80% of the public servants will continue to have full collective bargaining rights. In addition, the government is willing to establish a framework agreement for limited bargaining for lawyers employed in the public service. The proposed amendments will also ensure the confidentiality of labour relations information by amending the Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act and the Municipal Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act.

The proposed amendment concerning successor rights has received some attention. These proposed changes recognize the difference between the application of successor rights in the public sector and the private sector. When successor rights are applied in the private sector, they relate to a business being transferred from one owner to another, where terms and conditions of employment are likely to be similar. In the case of transferring government work to the private sector, if successor rights applied, the private sector employer would have to assume the public sector employment terms, which may be considered too onerous for many private sector employers. Of course, workers would still have the right to organize and collectively bargain within that environment.

In the speech from the throne, we said we must get government spending under control. We have started the process by assessing which government activities are not necessary and which others are best left to individuals, communities or business. The government's intention to pursue alternatives such as partnerships between government and private businesses and opening government operations to outside competition means we need the flexibility as an employer to be able to consider all of these options. Offering government work that is not a core service to the private sector is one option that clearly we are considering. This would help us cut government spending, which we have already started to do by cutting funding of our own operations.

Meanwhile, we are reviewing every government program. We are asking all ministries to re-evaluate their activities, to identify what their core services are and how they will be delivered through a significantly reduced budget. This is not a one-year exercise. This kind of restructuring takes time, but it is essential if we are to create permanent change in the public sector.

We believe we need to take the necessary steps to spend less on administration so government can provide the best possible service to the people of Ontario. We need to get rid of duplication, reduce administrative costs and to find more efficient ways of organizing work. This is clearly not tinkering around the edges; this is a major rethinking of how we use taxpayer dollars to deliver public services. Ultimately, that means getting money back into the hands of people and businesses in Ontario to create jobs and growth.

The level of restructuring we are talking about within the government requires changes in the work we do, how we do it, and in some cases who will do that work or provide those services. Legislation such as the proposed amendments to CECBA will allow us to achieve those goals in the long term.

In addition, we propose amending the Public Service Act to harmonize with notice provisions in the private sector. This makes it possible for employees not covered by the collective agreements to be released with reasonable notice or compensation instead of notice.

In summary, let me say again that this government is committed to the restructuring of government, to cutting taxes and to balancing the budget. These measures will restore confidence in Ontario as a place to live and to work and to do business. To deliver on these commitments, and in particular the promise to restructure government, the government as employer must create an environment in which this can happen. The sooner we have that environment, the sooner we can meet our commitment to the people of this province: providing the people of Ontario with better government for less.

Hon Mr Sterling: Madam Speaker, I move to adjourn the debate.

The Acting Speaker: The member for Carleton has moved to adjourn the debate.

All those in favour of the motion?

Those opposed?

In my opinion, the ayes have it.

Call in the members; a 30-minute bell.

The division bells rang from 1628 to 1658.

The Speaker: Order. Members will take their seats.

Mr Sterling has moved the adjournment of the debate. All those in favour will please rise.

All those opposed will please rise.

Clerk of the House (Mr Claude L. DesRosiers): The ayes are 70; the nays 0.

The Speaker: I declare the motion carried.

Orders of the day.


Hon Mr Sterling: Thank you for the support. The sixth order.


Resuming the adjourned debate on the motion to appoint the membership to the standing committees of the House for this session.

Mr Bob Rae (York South): As I was saying before I was so rudely interrupted, the debate which has been moved by the deputy House leader on the other side, my good friend from Carleton, gives us an opportunity to discuss what I think is going to be a very critical issue, which I raised when we were last speaking, and that is the question of the process by which we will in fact be considering legislation in this Parliament.

Mr James J. Bradley (St Catharines): Under the new rules, the Rae rules.

Mr Rae: I would say to my colleague from St Catharines that it's important for the House, looking at the way rules operate in virtually every Legislative Assembly around the world, that public business be allowed to take place. I also think it's important that majorities understand that when it comes to the consideration of legislation, it's going to be extremely important for government to give the committees we are establishing the opportunity to do their job.

In the last week or so, we've had an opportunity to understand why it is that this issue of process is not simply some minor legal point. In fact, it's quite basic to the work of government.

The member for Carleton will know that we have all participated over the last decade in a number of debates in which the role of committees has been reaffirmed, in which the important work that committees do has been reaffirmed, and in which members have achieved some quite significant gains in terms of the work of committees and their importance.

For example, it was under the accord signed in 1985 that we agreed that the names of people who were appointed to agencies, boards and commissions would be referred to a committee and that there would be a broad-based discussion on those appointments, that people would be expected to indicate their views and their sense of the issues before the committees on the work of the boards they were doing, that this would be something that would be carried out.

I'm pleased that my colleague the deputy leader and the member for Nickel Belt has agreed to serve on this important committee, because he knows as well as I do that the issue of who is being appointed and their qualifications and their ability to do this work is a significant question.

At the same time, I don't think we can ignore the lessons we've had to come to terms with, in the last while, in the work of the Ministry of Community and Social Services. The minister has indicated very clearly that it was his intention to proceed with certain amendments to regulations, which regulations have a major impact on the most vulnerable citizens in the province.

It's of great concern to all of us that that minister has yet to tell the House how it was that these regulations came to be drafted. He's told us what he did once they were drafted and he's told us how it was all a mistake, but the so-called candid and open account which the minister gave the House in his statement on Tuesday failed to disclose two simple and, I would have thought, rather critical facts: first, who was it who gave the instructions for these amendments to be made; and, second, who was it who signed the document, and how was it that this very, very nearly became law, until the mistake was discovered very close to the date of October 1?

Yesterday, I asked the minister three times whether he would commit to bringing in legislation which would deal with this issue of changes to social assistance. I would even suggest that it would be wise for the government -- since, I would say to the minister, there are people in both opposition parties who have more experience of dealing with the ministry than he does and who, I suspect, have views which he might be surprised to hear, because they do not stem from any ideology but stem from experience, from a shared sense of some of the very real human issues we face as well as the need to find a greater efficiency and greater effectiveness in the delivery of services. I haven't met a minister in this field who hasn't come away feeling that there was a better way for this job to be done and a better way for this job to be organized.

What better way to activate some of that spirit than to assign to one of the committees of the House -- perhaps it could be the committee on resources development, perhaps the standing committee on general government, perhaps the standing committee on social development, some of the committees whose membership we're establishing today. Wouldn't it be interesting to have the former ministers who are in the official opposition, former ministers who are in our government, who would I think be very glad to come forward with members of the government to discuss very actively how we would reorganize social assistance in such a way that it could be done better.

We understand that the government has its agenda. We are under no illusions about that. But I would have thought it would be in everyone's interest to use the advice and the experience of people on this side of the House in coming to terms with these changes.

The work of these committees which we are establishing can either be important or unimportant, depending very much on the approach that's taken by the government. We've seen over the last week that a government acting on its own through the process of regulation can make some very major mistakes.

Let me say to the minister that there are, from my experience in life, two basic theories on how things go wrong. There is what I call the conspiracy theory of life and then there is what I call the screw-up theory of life.

Hon Cameron Jackson (Minister without Portfolio [Workers' Compensation Board]): You are talking about the last provincial election.

Mr Rae: My observation of human experience even includes the member from Burlington. That's how wide my scope is; that's how broad my view is. Nothing human is alien to us over here. We understand it includes all varieties of human experience, including that offered by the frustrated member from Burlington, though in fact --

Hon Mr Jackson: How many of yours screwed up? Was it five or six cabinet ministers?

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

Mr Rae: I know, as we all know, the disappointment that lurks deep in the heart of the member for Burlington South. We wish him well in his frustration and we hope he can overcome it. We know full well that there's no member opposite who is looking more eagerly at the performance of his colleagues than the member for Burlington South.

Ms Frances Lankin (Beaches-Woodbine): Well, there is the member for Etobicoke-Lakeshore.

Mr Rae: We know that together with his colleague from Etobicoke, they're two frustrated folks, and there are many others who are looking so carefully at the performance of their colleagues. No one more eagerly than the member from Burlington is assessing carefully the conduct of his colleagues as they answer the questions that are coming.

Hon Mr Jackson: What about your screw-ups? Are you going to put them in your book, Bob? That's all I want to know.

The Speaker: The member for Burlington South is continuously being out of order, and I won't warn him again.


Mr Rae: What I would say to you, Mr Speaker, and say to the honourable member for Burlington South, since he's responsible for the area of workers' compensation, on which we understand he's already got his marching orders, I'm not quite sure now what his task is. Having been told to cut, cut, cut he now has his work cut out. All the other administrative decisions are being taken. Certainly when we look at the member for Burlington, we know that second fiddle is a very hard part to play, especially when they won't even give you a bow. That makes it even harder.


Mr Rae: That makes it harder. When they actually give him a bow, imagine how well he's going to do.

But I want to say that the question now -- the voters have made their choice and yes, there's a majority Conservative government in place, but that doesn't take away from our rights and our obligations on behalf of the people we represent to ensure that the committees that are established, which we're establishing by motion of the member for Carleton today, in fact have a useful and constructive role to play.

I must say the concern that I have with this government is not only that it is moving forward from an ideology which they've stated and created in the Common Sense Revolution, but that furthermore they are moving by purely administrative action. Contemplate the fact that the government of this province was able to reduce welfare benefits by some 22%, which is the largest decrease that's ever been brought in in the history of the province in one fell swoop. No decrease has been greater than that; no single decrease has been greater. One can hardly conceive of a single step that's had a more dramatic impact on the incomes of hundreds of thousands of people.

They were able to do that without recourse to the Legislature, without recourse to a public debate of any kind within the confines of the Legislature, without requiring any legislative move, without requiring any consultation with anybody. We saw that not only could they reduce the benefits by some 22%, but they could even contemplate the reduction or the elimination of entire categories of eligible people simply by virtue of two pens: the pen that's in the hand of the Minister of Community and Social Services and the pen that's in the hand of the chairman of cabinet, the member from Leeds.

I must say I find it ironic, because there has been in my experience in government, and in my life in the Legislature, no harsher critic, no stronger judge of any possible human error, no one who has been more brutal in his immediate willingness to judge -- to be judge, jury and hangman all in one sentence -- than the member for Leeds-Grenville. I can't remember anyone who was not more instantly prepared to assume the worst of any of us, to instantly imagine that we were all singularly --

Mrs Margaret Marland (Mississauga South): On a point of order, Mr Speaker: It's with the greatest respect that I would ask you to recognize that the leader of the third party is maligning the Solicitor General and not speaking to the motion, the motion you are fully familiar with. To malign the Solicitor General is not speaking to the motion.

Mr Rae: I would just say that I find it ironic that it was that member who in fact signed the cabinet regulation, who signed the order in council which was later proven, shown to have been drafted in error. Obviously he hadn't read what he had signed, otherwise -- we have two explanations: One explanation would be that they both read what they'd signed, that they knew exactly what they were doing and that this was all some deliberate plot on their part which was then discovered by the Toronto Star.

Now, if I were even to suggest such a thing, my good friend -- and I would suggest to her that I've demonstrated that loyalty in a variety of ways over the last several months -- from Mississauga would be the first to leap to her feet and to accuse me of maligning one of her colleagues, which would be the last thing I would want to do, that someone of my experience and eternal goodwill would be willing to do.

So I come back to my two views of history. I am not a member of the conspiracy school of history. I don't believe that's how these terrible mistakes happen. They happen because people make mistakes and that's what happens. The minister made a mistake. The member for Leeds-Grenville made a mistake.

But it's the member for Leeds-Grenville, the Solicitor General -- and I appeal to my colleagues, which I have occasion to do from time to time, and ask them to reflect on the number of occasions when either the Liberal government was in office or we were in office when the member for Leeds-Grenville would, I am sure, have been absolutely merciless in asking who gave the pen, who was it who gave the pen, who made him sign it, did he read it before he signed it, how could he possibly aspire to be in public --

Mrs Marland: On a point of order, Mr Speaker: Maybe you could explain to this House what the current comments of the leader of the third party have to do with the motion.

The Speaker: I don't think it's my place to explain anything to the House.

Mr Rae: Mr Speaker, I'll be glad to explain that to the member from Mississauga. My point is, once you accept the reality of what took place with respect to the benefits for tens of thousands of people whose benefits were about to be eliminated by mistake, you then appreciate the importance of the role of committees and the importance of our establishing committees in ensuring that mistakes of this kind do not happen.

It was Mr Justice Brandeis, one of the great jurists of the 20th century, who said, "The greatest disinfectant known to government is sunlight." We demonstrated that over the past week. Who are the beacons of sunlight in our parliamentary system? It is the committees that we establish. These are the beacons, and it is obvious from the conduct of the government that it is interested in shutting down those beacons. They are prepared to turn down the lights. They are prepared to pull down the shades on the sunlight which we want to bring in. Our concern --


The Speaker: I warned the honourable member for Burlington South once. I said I would not warn him again, nor will I. I will name the honourable member and the Sergeant at Arms will take him from the chamber.

Mr Jackson left the chamber.

The Speaker: The leader of the third party has the floor.

Mr Rae: Mr Speaker, I appreciate that.

What I want to say is that the role of these committees, and the role that is assigned to them by this government, is going to become even more important as the days go on. I know members will look at me with some scepticism, and I understand that because they have their own views as to what takes place. But I want to say to them, they have to come to terms with what's happened, they have to come to terms with the fact that this isn't just a matter of somebody being appointed by mistake.

Let me just say I can remember, for example, that somebody would come forward with a bunch of names and we'd all say, "Now, is this the right John Jones from Hamilton that we're appointing to the housing authority?" So we'd doublecheck, triplecheck, and then we'd make changes, and there's nothing wrong with that. People make mistakes. Public servants make mistakes, civil servants make mistakes, ministers make mistakes. We all make mistakes. We understand that. I make mistakes every day, every day. But I would say to my colleagues, even the littlest and even the greatest among you will make mistakes as well. Therefore, what is the course of wisdom?


I know that there's the arrogance and hubris that's there with a 50% or 60% number in the polls, and believe me, I've been there once -- very briefly -- but it was nice when I was there. I remember those days. I remember how --

Interjection: You had 66%.

Mr Rae: I think we were up to 67% at one point. You were there. You, my colleagues in the Liberal Party, have been there, and it's great. You walk around and you feel, suddenly, slightly more bounce in your step, and you feel a little better facing those awful scrums and all the various attacks. You feel good because you know that the public is out there.

But I want to say to members opposite -- and I know that in the large numbers that are there you've got the support of the Common Sense Revolution and you know it's wonderful and it's all great, and you know we're just a small group of people who you think have been totally discredited and have no particular credibility. All I want to say to you, in the most modest way that I possibly can: This will change.

Ms Lankin: This too will change.

Mr Rae: This too will change. Mark my words. Let this be the date. Mark it down. October 18, I suggested to you --

Interjection: It's the 19th.

Mr Rae: The 19th; tomorrow is the 20th, my brother's birthday. I would say that this will change. As sure as the sun -- which Mr Justice Brandeis spoke about so eloquently -- as sure as it rises and as sure as it falls in the evening, this will change.

So the wise course for government is to understand a couple of things. What have we asked for from this government? Well, we've made two major requests in the last week. Have they been to say to the government, "You have no right to bring in your agenda"? No. Has it been to say, "You have no right to bring in your budget or your plans"? No.

We understand; we can see the writing on the wall. Having been in government, we have some sense as to what it's going to take to achieve an agenda which we think is, frankly, absurd in its ambitions. But nevertheless it's there. You've been elected, and you are going to carry that out. We will oppose you, and we will continue to oppose you.

But what is at stake today? We're asking in particular two things which have to do fundamentally with the role of committees. The first thing we're asking is: If travelling was good enough for Bill 40, and if a full process of public debate and public hearings was good enough for Bill 40, then it's good enough for Bill 7. A very simple point.

You took out ads. Remember the member talked about the ads that were taken out and how clear the government was. Well, you've gone beyond a mere repeal of Bill 40, something which I'm sure will give some discomfort to our friends here in the middle. They no doubt will recognize the stuff that you've added on decertification, the stuff which will create enormous instability in the workplace in terms of how this will work and how it will function. The business leaders that I've talked to -- I talk to them all the time -- feel that you've gone unnecessarily far, you don't need to do this, you don't need to go this far, you don't need to create that much instability.

Mr Dwight Duncan (Windsor-Walkerville): Nestlé.

Mr Rae: Why would Nestlé be making the statement that they're making? This is not exactly a group that is strongly affiliated to any particular political party. These are practical people with experience, who know that governments can make mistakes; that people can get carried away; that in the process of drafting, somebody can, frankly, screw up, to use the colloquialism that I use.

Therefore, what you need to have is a process that's as wide as possible, not that's narrow. Don't think the bureaucracies, the people who go off and draft these pieces of legislation, never make a mistake. Don't assume that they always know what they're doing. Don't assume that every single piece of information that comes to the cabinet has answered every question. Don't assume that they know everything. They're human beings like us. They live in fairly narrow circles, they have to work under great pressure, under great strain. They frequently are being asked to do too much too quickly.

In the case of Bill 7 they were asked fairly quickly to draft a very, very major piece of legislation. The minister herself admitted, in answers to questions from my colleague from Hamilton Centre, that she'd already begun to have discussions with people and was already considering making changes. Which ones? Which ones would she be considering making? What would the process be which would allow us to discuss this? Why wouldn't the House be permitted the opportunity for the committee to go? There may be some soul in Thunder Bay or Ottawa or even North Bay who might have a point of view that would be different from the collective wisdom.


Mr Rae: My friend from Windsor, my colleague here, is interrupting to mention his community, one to which I am tremendously attached because of the work that we did on behalf of his community and have done over the years.


Mr Rae: One doesn't always get one's rewards in this lifetime. I'm reconciled to that simple fact.

So when it comes to Bill 7 it seems to me we are entitled to ask, as we have been asking, why would the members of the government be so reluctant to have a broad discussion? It doesn't have to be about limitless time. It doesn't have to be one that goes on forever. I can understand the interests of the government in saying they want this legislation to proceed.

We understand that with the rules which we brought in and which I'm strongly in favour of -- having argued for them in government, I'm hardly going to turn around and argue against them in opposition. But I believe that even under these rules the government should see the wisdom, with legislation as major as this, in allowing the committee to travel and allowing the committee to have hearings. It's a reasonable suggestion. It's not an unreasonable suggestion.

Mr Duncan: Balanced and moderate.

Mr Rae: It is, as one would always expect from this party, balanced. It's thoughtful, it's moderate and it's a constructive suggestion. That's what I pledged to be as leader of our party, and I shall continue to argue in favour of that.

I shall be very determined in defence of moderation, because one should not confuse my determination to be moderate with our determination to ensure that the government listens. I can understand that members who are new to the House will be quite frustrated with the bells ringing and with coming back and voting, and they'll say to themselves: "What the heck is this all about? I didn't get elected to do this." I would say to them that there's a reason why this is happening. The reason it is happening is because we want to ensure that there's a process in place, that's established early on in our life as a Parliament, in which there is some element of mutual respect and some understanding of the need to listen to the people.

If there's one message that I hear from social service agencies, from the heads of children's aid societies, from the heads of municipalities, from all sorts of groups, it is this: "They're not listening. They don't want to hear from us. They've made up their mind. They don't care." I can see there is certainly some sort of blissful serenity that those who have found all the answers and know the truth can feel when confronted with a bunch of people who happen to have a different perspective.

But I'm constantly amazed at the number of people who I would have thought would be very well connected: conservative lawyers, people who are active in the social service field who are well known to me as conservatives, very well known to me as conservatives -- and I'm not yet in a position because we haven't evolved, our relationship hasn't become that close yet to say who all these people are, but in time I think their names will become very well known to the public -- who say: "How do we get to the government? How do we get to people? How do we find a way in? They're not listening. They don't return our phone calls."

They literally don't return the phone calls. The mayor of the city of York -- not a huge municipality, not a colossus in the field of municipal development, the city of York, a city of 125,000 people. All you've done is cut off the subway which was the major source of hope in terms of construction and ended up damaging the infrastructure hopes of the city. She says she's made dozens and dozens of phone calls to the office of the Minister of Transportation. They don't get answered. No one answers the phone.

This is something which the government can remedy. The government can remedy this. The government can remedy it with a different kind of style, with a different sense of how to deal with the world. One of the ways in which we're saying you can deal with this, something as basic as Bill 7, is to say: "We are prepared -- we are happy -- to hear from the public. We want very much to get out and hear people. We think we're right, but we'd like to hear from people."

It's very clear they have an agenda. It's very clear they have an approach. But in labour relations, which at one time was one of my major fields of interest and something in which I did a lot of work and gave a lot of advice on, one is wise to listen to the practitioners, one is wise to listen to the folks who say, from the point of view of management: "This is not going to help us to manage our operations. This is going too far. It's going to create instability where we don't need instability. It's going to create uncertainty where we don't need uncertainty."


It's a simple fact of life, which the members opposite don't like to hear, that in fact in the private sector labour relations have actually been better in the last five years than they've been for some considerable period of time. Now, there are many explanations for that.

The recession is, unfortunately, a partial explanation. The number of days lost to strikes has been reduced, I would think most economists would argue, because the recession has created a climate in which people are very reluctant to challenge the employer, and in which employers are looking for very little other than just steady work in order to maintain production.

But there's another explanation: The substance of Bill 7 created a climate in which labour and management had to deal directly with each other --

Mr Bud Wildman (Algoma): Bill 40.

Mr Rae: -- in a positive and constructive way -- Bill 40; excuse me -- and that's what took place.

I'm not here simply to reargue the merits of Bill 7 and Bill 40. There will come a time, and a substantive time, for us to do that. What I am here to do is to say to the government that when they move a motion to establish the standing committee on resources development, it would be wise for them to indicate to us that they understand that in setting up that standing committee they do not want it to be a rubber stamp. They expect it to do its work, and they are prepared to allow it to do its work, and they are prepared to allow it to listen to concerns that the public has across the province with respect to the matters which will be put before it. And we know that one of the most significant matters that is going to come before it is Bill 7.

I now want to turn from that question to the question which I touched on before and will touch on many times again, but which I want to touch on now, and that's the issue of the standing committee on social development.

Mrs Marland: No. You are not going to speak on a committee, are you? You are not going to speak to the motion, are you?

Mr Rae: I have been speaking to the motion, I say to my colleague from Mississauga South, and I will continue to do so. Sometimes one has to elaborate one's points and one's arguments to give them a bit of colour and context in order to make a point, and this is necessary. I spoke --

Mrs Marland: Keep us awake.

Mr David Turnbull (York Mills): Depth and texture.

Mr Rae: Well, I appreciate the encouragement that I'm receiving from the other side.

I think we've all witnessed in the last while one of the most extraordinary signs of -- I just say a little light should go on in the minds of members opposite, and I say to all my colleagues in opposition -- not all of them are members of the cabinet -- that I'm sure there are some interesting discussions in their caucus meetings about how this could have happened, explaining to us exactly how it took place and what it was all about. Because from my experience, caucus meetings are among the most interesting meetings that you can have because there's a wide range of views in every caucus, and there's usually a lot of candour in the caucus -- in fact, far more candour than one would find in this place in terms of what opposition members would say.

When I was Premier, I always had one or two colleagues who were candid inside caucus and also candid outside caucus, and it's a wonderful thing. I can only imagine what the caucus discussions, as the people become more comfortable, as the ritual songs from the CSR begin to wear a little thin, and as the compulsory standing up and applauding wears a little bit thin --

Mr Gilles Pouliot (Lake Nipigon): Less spontaneous.

Mr Rae: -- and it all becomes a little less spontaneous, and as you go back to your ridings and people start saying: "Wait a minute, that project was a good project. When we talked about restraint we didn't mean that project; we thought we meant somebody else's project. What about this?"

Let me tell you, once the member for Parry Sound brings forward his budget statement, oh, things are going to become very interesting indeed, because the cuts that are going to have to be made to the transfer partners, as the transfer partners are let in on the secret world which is now confined to the cabinet and all those papers that come with the options -- we used to call it the Goldilocks theory of government -- the option would come forward to the civil servant who would say, "Oh, no, Premier, that's too hot," and then they'd come forward with another option and say, "Oh, that's too cold," and then they'd have option 2, "That's just about right, and that's the one we think you should do."

The members of caucus don't get to go to them; they don't get to see those little option papers that are presented, those thick briefing books that you have to go through. You wade and you plow your way through them, and finally you get to the point where -- if we could only talk candidly and share and say, "I saw that briefing material four years ago." I'm sure my colleagues in the Liberal Party would feel the same thing. When the list came out of the things to be cut, I said to myself: "Boy, that's a list I've seen before; where have I seen that list before," all the range of things.

And you're going to have to go much, much deeper because of the income tax cut which you're now religiously committed to. I mean, it's passed beyond the world of normal political engagement; it's passed beyond even the rhetoric of a sacred trust. This is now an absolute matter of religious obligation and fidelity, which in my view is a very dangerous way to run a government, but nevertheless that's the way you intend to proceed.

Mr Speaker, when that takes place, the discussion within caucus is going to become more lively, and I know, sir, that you will feel more than ever before the loneliness of your office because you won't be able to go to those caucus meetings and participate in that kind of exchange.

But it will be lively and it will be real. I say to my colleagues, you should be asking some very tough questions about how it could be that day after day you appear to be bumbling your way through one of the most difficult issues, which is now you deal with the question of social assistance. It's not easy.

It's not easy, but it's made particularly more difficult if you are determined to do it without the participation of the Legislature. You will make it far more difficult for yourselves than you need to, unless you realize the need for a genuine consultation.

I was speaking today to a group of advocates who have been working in this field for a great many years, in the field of disability. They are a group of people who are not particularly political, not particularly partisan. They include people I know who've been very critical of us in government, who were very critical of the predecessor government --

Mrs Elinor Caplan (Oriole): Oh, no, they weren't.

Mr Rae: Oh, the member for Oriole's memory is far rosier than I can recall, but that's all right. If she chooses to live in this world, I can hardly blame her at this point.

But I said to them, "Well, have you been talked to? Is anybody talking to you?" and they said no. The minister yesterday said he's now actively engaged in consultation. I'm sure one day he'll get to them. Somebody at some point will pick up the phone and say: "Oh, yes, we should phone these people. They know about these issues."

But I would say to the minister, who's not here, and I would say to his colleagues and to members opposite, you are going to have to deal with this question of process, and you're better off facing up to it early on and saying, "We have such confidence in the integrity of our agenda and what we're trying to do that we want to open up this process to a real discussion."

When I look at the standing committee on social development and I see the members who are there from all political parties -- we've got two of our most experienced colleagues on the committee, former ministers; you've got former ministers from the Liberal Party -- I would think the wisest course would be for the minister to get together with the committee on social development right away and say: "Look, we made a big mistake on these regulations. Now we don't know what we're doing."

The minister says, "We haven't made any decisions yet." I referred earlier to what I called the screw-up theory, but in order to understand the screw-up theory, there has to have been something which set it off. I tried to get the minister today to answer the question, how would it be that staff would be preparing regulations unless someone told them to do it?

From my experience, the officials in Comsoc do not spontaneously come forward with changes to regulations. They don't do that. They don't do it that way. They only do it if they've got instructions to do so. And not only do they need instructions saying, "Please go off and draft regulations." "On what, sir? What exactly are you trying to achieve? What is it you want to do?" They would say, "Minister, you have to tell us what the context is for this."

Then there would be the relationship with the Premier's office and cabinet office and there would be phone calls from the deputy minister or the assistant deputy minister to people in the cabinet office saying: "What is this all about? Is there a cabinet ruling? Is there a cabinet minute that tells us what this is about? Is there some kind of set of instructions that tells us what the confines of this are?" That's how government works. I know that, the members next to me know that, everyone in the cabinet knows that, and caucus members will learn it. It's an open process.


We can't get the cabinet minute, because that's confidential. We understand that. Under the rules, under the way our Parliament operates, you can't see the cabinet minute. I appreciate that. But I can't believe, and I don't believe, that there was no cabinet discussion on the question of what exactly the nature of the first round of social assistance cuts would be. There must have been.

Hon Norman W. Sterling (Minister of Consumer and Commercial Relations): No.

Mr Rae: I say to the minister, be careful now, because you might be divulging cabinet secrets, and you certainly wouldn't want to do that. I would hate to see your career damaged so early on in flight, as it's just leaving the water. The loons are heading south at this point in time, and we know how long it takes those loons to get up off the water. And if you only have one right wing, you go around in circles all the time.

Clearly, what happened in this instance is that there was some cabinet minute or some instruction from the minister to his staff which produced the regulations on August 29. It is not credible to suggest that in one day the ministry, by means of what I described the other day as spontaneous combustion, came up with a series of amendments, and the minister looks at them and asks, "Is any of this about disability?" "No, sir." "Fine, go ahead." That isn't credible. That isn't how it works. I know that; the minister knows that. Why wouldn't he have the candour to say, "Well, I did tell them, but I wasn't clear in my instructions, or the cabinet minute was vague"? Or perhaps the cabinet minister wasn't as precise, the instructions as clear, as they could have been. "We're all new at this."

Hon Mr Sterling: Dream on.

Mr Rae: The member's saying, "Dream on." Tell me how it would be that on August 29 --

Hon Mr Sterling: You know exactly what happened.

Mr Rae: No, I don't know what happened. I'm not being difficult.

Hon Mr Sterling: They made a mistake. A lawyer made a mistake.

Mr Rae: "A lawyer made a mistake."

Hon Mr Sterling: Legislative counsel made a mistake.

Mr Rae: I would say to the member opposite --

Mr David S. Cooke (Windsor-Riverside): Lawyer to lawyer.

Mr Rae: That's right. I'm speaking to him marine to marine here, lawyer to lawyer. I say to him it is precisely because lawyers make mistakes that confirms my theory: Not only should the minister have looked at it, the member looked at it, but also, when you're dealing with regulations that affect as large a subject as this, you would be well advised to refer them to committee before you bring them in. You'd be well advised, if you're going to make further big changes --

Hon Mr Sterling: Did you do that? Did you do that with one regulation? You didn't do it with one regulation.

Mr Rae: -- to do it by means of legislation and not by means of regulation.

I hate to see the member's blood pressure go up the way it's going up. He's a man of great serenity and great experience, and I would be very surprised to see him lose himself. To have two ministers go out in one day, Mr Speaker, would be excessive, as they say.

What I would suggest is that the members opposite reflect on this last week of experience: first, with respect to Bill 7, the need to have a commitment to hearings, which is not illegitimate. If you treat the labour movement as a group of wild-eyed outsiders, you are encouraging those who would see this as a confirmation of their views of the current reality in the province. If you treat labour as a partner, from my experience, it will act as a partner. That, it seems to me, is a simple lesson in life and a simple lesson in human nature.

This government is determined to take a path which is very different from the one we took. In my view, it goes quite far, farther than it needs to go. But having staked out their ground as far as they have, how could they ever hope to re-establish a sense of their partnership? I would say to the members opposite, by demonstrating your commitment to a process that permits you to make change clearly built on a public opinion that is clear.

I would suggest this is a far wiser course than the one the government now appears to be set on taking. I don't see what the Premier possibly has to lose personally or what the government has to lose personally from saying: "We've set out our position. You know what it is. It's what we said we would do." Yes, but there are areas and ways in which it goes beyond the current consensus, and certainly goes beyond the pre-1992 legislation, and in which a wise course might be to say, "We want to listen to people and give people a chance to talk and then we're going to come back and make some changes."

I want to stress -- I know this will cause some conniptions on the other side -- that's what we did. Now, we didn't make all the changes we were asked to make, and members of the Liberal Party were very critical of us at that time because we didn't go as far as they wanted us to go; the members of the Conservative Party were very critical of us because we didn't accept as many changes as they wanted; some members of the business community were very critical.

But I must say that what I found fascinating about the debate around Bill 40 -- there was a process of vilification: I had my picture next to a donkey and all sorts of things, the one that's got the nice little pin-up shot now; every week there was a new thing, and that's okay -- but at the end of the day we listened, we had a process, we had hearings, we had consultation, we had endless discussions, and we made changes. We listened.

Hon Mr Sterling: Listened? Give me a break.

Mr Rae: I say to the member for Carleton, I would concede that we didn't make all the changes he wanted, but we did make changes. If you don't think we made changes, you weren't at some of the discussions I was, where we had some very lively and difficult discussions about what they should be and how they should be balanced and so forth.

I don't see where the government loses anything at all. It doesn't lose command of its agenda; its agenda's very clear. It doesn't lose command of the issue; the issue, from their perspective, is very clear. It has everything to gain in terms of public credibility and understanding by agreeing to a process in which the public will be consulted across the province -- not unlimited, but in a way that's manageable and thoughtful.

To come back to my point, on the question of what to do on amendments to social assistance, I say to the members opposite that you'd better think carefully about the experience we've all had this past week. You can't change something as significant as the definition of "disability," which the minister has said he plans on doing and which will have an impact on thousands and thousands of people in ways most members do not even begin to understand -- there is an intricate web of definition and of entitlement which affects all sorts of people: veterans, people who are on Canada pension, people who've come off unemployment insurance and are being shifted into another program, people whose private disability has run out and they're incapable of getting work.

Let's face it, there are a lot of people in their 50s and early 60s who are going to find it enormously difficult to return to the labour force. Given their physical condition, in many cases people who have bad backs, who've been working in construction for 20 or 30 or 40 years, I really question whether this government understands the human impact of that change of definition.

I know what it's going to be like. I know exactly what my constituency office is going to be like. I've been there. We've been through it before, and I do not want to go through it again in the same way and I do not want to see my constituents forced through this ritual because some group of bureaucrats has come up with a definition that the government knows is going to save it a given amount of money.


What's driving this change? It's quite simple. It's the fact that the Minister of Finance comes in and says, "This is the number we've got to get to," and turns to his colleagues and says, "and you'd better go off and find it, and this is where we're all going to go out and find it." You go backwards then to the redefinition. And when the minister says, "We haven't decided yet on the definition; we haven't decided yet on how we're going to change it" -- though he makes reference to the fact that they're going to make it more restrictive and return to what they call a strict medical definition.

The whole category of people who are permanently unemployable has a range of criteria, some of which are social, some of which relate to mental health, some of which relate to the fact that there are some very marginal people out there.

From a practical point of view, I question whether it's wise for us to be expending all this effort and saying, "You're employable," knowing full well that that 54- or 56- or 58-year-old person is not going to find another job, not in today's labour market, not in tomorrow's labour market; that he or she is not going to find that job.

I would much prefer that in terms of job skill training and saying, "You're employable," we spend our effort on those people who really can get back into the workforce, and let's say to those people of whom we don't think it's realistic that that's going to happen: "Here you are. We're prepared to support you, and we don't want you to live in total poverty, we don't want you to live in permanent insecurity. We're prepared to do the decent thing."

I think the members opposite would be quite surprised at the kind of consensus which can be developed within the House. We all know we have to save money. Everybody knows that. Look at the last election campaign: Nobody was running in the last election campaign saying, "The answer to our problems is to spend more money." We disagreed on the tax question but --

Mr Turnbull: The Liberals were, Bob.

Mr Rae: Well, you know, the Liberals. They had a program, and some of it would have involved spending more and some of it would have involved spending less.

But it was interesting to notice this fact, quite a remarkable fact: If you were to speak to members of this government, what did we know? We knew we had to find $2 billion because of the federal cuts. We knew that you're never sure what's going to happen on the revenue side, because our experience had been that revenues were very uncertain and could go up and down.

Therefore, we knew we had to find a process with the public sector partners in which we would be committed to finding that money, to not raising taxes, and to making sure the deficit continued on a downward course. If members opposite say, "You would have had to cut too," I say, yes, that's right, we would have, and so would members of the Liberal Party.

If we were all totally candid and honest, which we have an obligation to be, we would say, yes, we all would have had have to find it. The issue of how much? You have to find much more because of your tax cuts. It's quite simple. You've set yourselves a much higher target, raised the bar far higher, because you're determined to bring in your tax cuts. That's the reason, so that's the reason the bar has been raised so high.

The Speaker: The member's straying a little bit from the subject.

Mr Rae: Don't assume that the members of the opposition are uninterested or unprepared to deal with the reforms that need to happen -- in committee, Mr Speaker, the committee process. Use the committees. Put out a white paper. If the minister has suggestions on disability, say, "Here's a whole bunch of definitions." Get the public servants out and let them say: "This is how much we would save. These are the people we think would be affected." Then let us call in the commissioner for social services for Metropolitan Toronto and go to Ottawa and call in the commissioner for social services there. Let them come forward and let the groups come forward and let the people who actually deal with these questions come forward and say, "This is what we think the impact of this will be." Then let us help the government, help the minister, to cope with the size and dimensions of this. This is the kind of approach we would like to take, because we believe that's a better approach than the one the government is determined to do.

I say to the government this is a constructive and positive suggestion, one that would allow all of us to get through a very difficult period. We are about to embark on the most significant change in public expenditure this province has ever, ever seen, and if this government believes it can carry out this change -- and I say this four weeks prior to the statement by the Minister of Finance, but I say this knowing as well that he has to find at least $9 billion but, I happen to agree with my colleague the member for Beaches-Woodbine, more likely a figure well into the double figures.

There is no way it can be done without huge reductions in transfers to municipalities, huge reductions in transfers to school boards, huge reductions in transfers even to hospitals.

Mrs Caplan: No, they won't do that.

Mr Rae: Well, we'll see. But I believe it's going to involve a range of changes such as we've never seen.

Everybody knows that if you want to save money in this province, you can do all the symbolic things you want, but when it comes right down to health, education and welfare, that's where the money is spent.

Mr Pouliot: That's where the money is.

Mr Rae: That's where the money is. That's what makes it so difficult, because taxpayers like the notion of cuts in general but they don't like the notion of cuts in specific. It's human nature.

So you say, "We're going to cut this much in welfare," and they've already cut the amounts that they've cut in the basic level of support. It's having a huge impact. That impact is yet to really -- this is the first month, the first few weeks. People are reeling from it. But we don't know what the rent payments are going to be. We don't know what the impact in winter -- we haven't had winter yet. So if members opposite think this process is going to be easy, it is not going to be easy.

The discussion that we're having today is a substantive discussion. What I'm suggesting to the members opposite is: We are willing and able and eager to work in a constructive and positive and thoughtful spirit in dealing with the impact of this.

The opposition will be vigorous. We're not going to support the general direction of what the government is trying to do, I'm not suggesting that for a moment, but I am suggesting that there's a lot of talent and ability among all the members of the House, and I would suggest a lot of experience outside politics and outside the legislative process among the members who've been newly elected. I would have thought that you all who aren't in cabinet would also be interested perhaps in having a bit of a say in what your political faith is going to be like over the next three and four years.

Mr Douglas B. Ford (Etobicoke-Humber): Caucus.

Mr Rae: You say "caucus." Well, caucus is one vehicle but it may not be sufficiently long and sufficiently broad to permit of the discussions which are required. You're going to find over time, as we get to know each other better, that there are going to be a lot of issues upon which we all agree, on which we all shake our heads and say, "How could the bureaucracy have come up with this kind of a suggestion?" or "Why would that have suddenly made its way through?" And the answer is not that there's a conspiracy, because I don't believe there is a conspiracy; I believe there's a government with a very ideological point of view that's putting a lot of pressure on people to come up with stuff very quickly and very fast, and I believe that when you do that, people make mistakes.

Mr Rosario Marchese (Fort York): It's inevitable.

Mr Rae: It's inevitable. It's natural. What we're trying to suggest is a process by which we reduce the number of mistakes; we allow for as much discussion as possible. I do not know of a piece of legislation that has not been improved by real discussion, debate, exchange, information, bringing the public in. We're always trying to create processes that allow this to happen. We used the Premier's Council. We used all the discussion mechanisms that we had. We used consultation in committee work. We got clobbered in going out to the public and saying, "Don't do this."

We completely changed course on Sunday shopping. Why? Because our members kept coming back from the committee and saying, "This isn't going to work." It took a long time, beating it into the Premier's head, and finally I said: "Okay, I get the message. It's not going to work." That happens. I changed my mind as a result of what I was hearing from my own colleagues on the committee and from what everybody was saying out on the street. People would say, "Well, that wasn't very difficult."

You will find the same thing. The things that you believe now everyone agrees with you will find aren't quite as easy to do. What we're suggesting is that in setting up these committees, the members opposite should reflect on the experiences and on the mistakes that we've made, that others have made, and surely to goodness, as we embark on this incredible process of change -- incredible -- and that we at least recognize that there's some wisdom in each of us and that even those of us who are not blessed enough to be in cabinet and blessed enough to be in P and P, even those of us have some ability to influence the course of human events in this province.

The Speaker: Does the government House leader have the orders for next week?

Hon Mr Sterling: Perhaps I could rise on a point of order, Mr Speaker, prior to reading the weekly business statement: I want to ask you to rule with regard to standing order 46(c) in terms of whether or not today was a sessional day within the meaning of that rule with regard to Bill 7 if it will be necessary for the government at some future date to call closure upon that particular bill.

Mr Gilles Bisson (Cochrane South): Why? All you have to do is put it in committee.

Hon Mr Sterling: I'm asking for a ruling, and I'm entitled to do that. I would hope that it is not necessary, but I think for the clarity of the House it would be important for us to get a ruling on that particular matter, and I would ask you to consider that over a period of time.


Hon Norman W. Sterling (Minister of Consumer and Commercial Relations): I wish to indicate that for next week, the week of October 23, 1995, we will continue with second reading of Bill 7, and then, if we indeed complete the second reading of Bill 7, we will proceed to second reading of Bill 8, An Act to repeal job quotas and to restore merit-based employment practices in Ontario. If that should be completed, then we would move to second reading of Bill 5, the Shortline Railways Act, and then to second reading of Bill 6, the Corporations Information Amendment Act.

For Thursday morning, private members' business, we will consider ballot item number 1 standing in the name of the member for Mississauga East, and ballot item number 2 standing in the name of the member for St Catharines.

It is also our wish to complete the debate on the motion we have just been considering, and that is setting the committees as soon as possible.

Mr David S. Cooke (Windsor-Riverside): Mr Speaker, if I might before we adjourn, I understand the request that the acting government House leader has put upon you, but I would hope -- and I have my own view. I think it's pretty clear that today was not a sessional day on Bill 7, but I think it would be rather strange for the Speaker to rule whether it's a sessional day working towards a time allocation motion which completely prejudges how the debate on Bill 7 is going to proceed over the next week or so.

I know the government is looking at having the minimum amount of time on second reading, minimum amount of time on public hearings, but, Mr Speaker, I do not believe you should play any role in developing that strategy for the government. I hope you will not be aiding them by giving a determination of whether today was a sessional day before they've even put their time allocation motion to try to shut this place down.

The Speaker (Hon Allan K. McLean): Thank you.

It being 6 of the clock, this House stands adjourned until 1:30 of the clock on Monday.

The House adjourned at 1802.