36th Parliament, 1st Session

L014 - Mon 23 Oct 1995 / Lun 23 Oct 1995
































The House met at 1332.




Mr Len Wood (Cochrane North): A chapter of Canadian history was brought back to life in Kapuskasing Saturday, October 14, with the unveiling of the Never Forget statue at the Kapuskasing internment camp cemetery in memory of internee prisoners of war.

This statue by Kingston-based sculptor John Boxtel tells the story of the thousands of Ukrainians and other east European immigrants who were unjustly interned as enemy aliens in 24 concentration camps across Canada. Between 1914 and 1920, thousands of internee prisoners of war were forced to work under difficult conditions, lost their freedom of property and valuables, and were disfranchised in 1917. In some cases, they were deported after the end of the First World War.

The Ukrainian Canadian Civil Liberties Commission is asking that the Canadian government admit that an injustice was done. They are requesting an amendment to the Emergency Act to ensure that it doesn't happen again, that markers be placed at the 24 concentration camps across Canada, and that the property and money taken from the internees be put to use for historical education. The current value of the confiscated property is estimated to be roughly $10 million.

The Kapuskasing statue is the second of its kind in Canada. The first was installed in Castle Mountain in Banff National Park last August.

This was a tragedy in Canadian history. Eighty years ago, when this tragedy occurred, we were a different country. We can take pride in how we have changed.


Mr Derwyn Shea (High Park-Swansea): During the election, the Common Sense Revolution called for an end to government waste. To this end, our party proposed the start of a reward system for those public servants and institutions who used tax dollars responsibly. I sincerely hope this important principle of the Common Sense Revolution will apply to health care workers and all health care facilities.

The Metropolitan Toronto District Health Council's hospital restructuring committee apparently has not reflected this sensible approach. It is recommending closure of Runnymede Chronic Care Hospital despite its reputation as an exceptionally well run hospital.

The Metropolitan Toronto District Health Council can do what its restructuring committee failed to do: It can support those few hospitals which have avoided deficits during the past 13 years, particularly those which have accomplished that without cutting beds, reducing service or using questionable accounting techniques. It can recognize and reward those hospitals that have received the highest possible accreditation awards over the last nine years. The district health council can ensure that those few institutions which use tax dollars as judiciously as Runnymede hospital are not closed.

On behalf of the people of High Park-Swansea, a community that has demonstrated its strong support for Runnymede hospital's continuation and redevelopment by publicly raising $10 million for the rebuilding program, I hope the district health council will review the recommendations of the restructuring subcommittee with this principle in mind.


Ms Annamarie Castrilli (Downsview): Later today I will be introducing a bill to promote the rights of victims of crime, referred to as the Charter of Rights for Victims of Crime. This is necessary since the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms has in many ways become synonymous with the rights of the accused. Therefore, it has become apparent in recent years that governments must take steps to balance the often conflicting needs of the accused with those of the victim.

The people of Ontario are extremely concerned with the level and extent of crime in their communities. We must do all we can to make our neighbourhoods safe and enjoyable places in which to live, and we must also ensure that when citizens become victims, the justice system champions their rights and needs.

Our society has matured beyond an accused-based justice system to one that acknowledges the trauma and stress of the victims of crime and their important role within the system. Governments must take stock of this change and not only catch up to the expectations of the people but begin to lead. By passing this victims' bill, Ontario will join eight other provinces and one territory with such legislation.

This bill will address many of the concerns I have described. It will assist us to re-establish an equitable justice system in balance with the desires and expectations of the public. For the good of Ontario and its citizens I call upon all parties, particularly the government, which supports all the principles incorporated in this bill, to ensure that it becomes law.


Mr David Christopherson (Hamilton Centre): Our party has been calling, since the introduction of Bill 7, for province-wide public hearings so that we may show very clearly that the disastrous story this government tries to tell about Bill 40 is in fact not the truth.

Indeed, the Premier's office and the minister are now receiving many letters from corporations and their unions indicating the benefits that have accrued to them from the introduction of Bill 40.

For instance:

"Nestlé Canada and the CAW urge that your government proceed cautiously and only after joint consultation with the business and labour communities before considering dismantling labour laws, regulations and practices which have stood the test of time for over a decade.

"Given the major stake we share in labour relations in Ontario, we believe a balanced approach to changes in labour legislation which deals with the legitimate concerns of business and labour and includes a thorough consultative process with those involved, is essential to an excellent investment climate."

We have similar letters from Nortel, which is Northern Telecom, where they speak of achieving "an unprecedented level of success at Nortel Belleville in every measure over the last few years, including labour relations."

We have a similar letter from Valeo that speaks of the investments that have been made in Stratford. Each of these businesses is concerned about the effect of disrupting the labour peace that we have in this province, and if we had public hearings this government would hear the truth.


Mr Tony Clement (Brampton South): It is my distinct honour and pleasure to bring to the attention of this House an event which happened this past weekend. The John Brooks Community Foundation and Scholarship Fund held its 14th annual dinner and awards ceremony.

This event puts the spotlight on young people who are the source of pride for their families and communities. The awards granted recognize the determination of those youth to reach academic excellence and community volunteerism. I would say that community volunteerism is what this government is all about.

Since its inception in 1981, the scholarship fund has granted 517 awards to students, totalling $79.5 million. The awards are made possible through the generous financial support of many volunteers, many corporations and many financial institutions.

On behalf of the Ministry of Citizenship, Culture and Recreation and the government, I wish the John Brooks Community Foundation and Scholarship Fund, its organizers, its presenters, its participants and its recipients continued success. I applaud them for their commitment.



Mr Rick Bartolucci (Sudbury): Another event took place this past week; that was on Friday. A sample shopping list was presented by the Minister of Community and Social Services as part of a plan in which commonsense practical information is to be distributed to social assistance recipients and working people on low incomes to help them cope better.

After studying the list, it is truly in the spirit of the Common Sense Revolution because it doesn't make any. I wonder how the minister proposes to eat four packages of Primo pasta without any sauce to put on it. Even a bit of butter or margarine would suffice, but they're not the list. Well, maybe the sauce can be an oil and garlic one. No; in the spirit of common sense, those aren't on the list. Pitch the pasta.

Let's make a salad from the list: a little lettuce, a little broccoli, a little cauliflower. Sounds like common sense so far. Now add a pinch of salt, a dash of pepper, a spray of oil and a drop of vinegar. No, that doesn't make any sense at all. A salad with salt, pepper, oil and vinegar? How extravagant. In this commonsense list, those four items don't make it either. Toss the salad.

The lack, though, of fish products makes great common sense, since the minister finally realizes that you cannot buy tuna for 69 cents a tin; a tuna-free commonsense list; a commonsense list with no bartering. Shelve the tuna.

There is, though, plenty of bologna and beans. In fact this list, like the minister's decisions and actions, is full of baloney, and that makes the greatest common sense of all.


Ms Shelley Martel (Sudbury East): The legacy continues. The list of Tory hacks coming to Ontario to live off the avails of an unsuspecting taxpaying public grows, rather like a bad weed or a sore which festers. Today, in chapter 5 of the saga of the Mulroney-Harris affair, I present to the House one Mr Jean Lepine.

Mr Lepine has the dubious distinction of holding the position of executive assistant to Noble Villeneuve, Minister of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs and minister responsible for francophone affairs.

While in Ottawa, Mr Lepine worked for Tory MP Jim Edwards. More recently, Mr Lepine was also executive assistant to Senator Norm Atkins, who himself was a Mulroney Senate appointee. It was Norm Atkins who chaired Brian Mulroney's national campaigns in 1984 and 1988.

I didn't realize that the relationship between Mike Harris and Brian Mulroney was so close. After all, when the Taxfighter was on this side of the House, he tried as hard as was humanly possible to distance himself from the Mulroney GST. But it does appear that Ontario is becoming a haven for Tory hacks who were booted out of Ottawa in November 1993. I wonder if there will be enough money in the kitty to employ them all.


Mr Dominic Agostino (Hamilton East): I rise today to commend Cathedral Secondary School on its reunion on the weekend in Hamilton. The reunion of Cathedral Secondary School attracted over 5,000 people on Saturday evening.

Cathedral Secondary School has a long and rich history in the city of Hamilton and the province of Ontario. Opening in 1928, it has produced some of the finest people this province has ever seen. Among some of the alumni are leading corporate figures such as Paul Phoenix of Dofasco; Allen Fracassi, CEO and president of Philip Environmental; and others such as Glenn Cochrane of CFTO fame.

A number of alumni have included judges, clergy and at least three bishops in the province of Ontario, including the late Bishop Ryan and the late Bishop Redding of the diocese of Hamilton and Bishop Sherlock of the London diocese.

Many athletes, including Frank Cosentino, the great Canadian quarterback, the all-American linebacker out of Penn State, Peter Giftopolous, as well as Peter Mahovlich and other great NHL stars.

The achievements that Cathedral Secondary School has earned over the years are commendable. It has won all-Ontario basketball championships. It has one of the finest football records in the country.

The new Cathedral school opened about two weeks ago. It was an effort of three governments: the Liberal government, the Conservative government and the NDP government that made this possible. The school will continue its fine history. It will continue to produce some of the greatest people in the province in years to come. I want to thank all those who have played a role in the reunion on the weekend and the opening of the new Cathedral Secondary School, which we're all very proud of in the city of Hamilton.


Mr Joseph Spina (Brampton North): I stand here today to inform all members that this week is National Small Business Week. With the participation and sponsorship of local chambers of commerce and boards of trade across Ontario and Canada, National Small Business Week organizes seminars, workshops and many other activities.

In Ontario alone, small business constitutes approximately 98% of all businesses. Furthermore, small businesses occupy more than 90% of every sector of Ontario's economy, providing over 85% of all the new jobs created in this province.

Over the past decade, small business has been strangled by increased taxation, increased red tape and regulations, and increased provincial debts. Local business owners in my riding of Brampton North have echoed this sentiment, including Mr Duggan and Mr Harvey of Armor Personnel; Mr Brannon of Brannon Steel; Mr Vitale of Italpasta; and Andy McCutcheon of the Plus group.

Our government's commitment is to address these three concerns, and we wish to eliminate the unnecessary regulations affecting small business. I encourage all members of the House to take an active role in promoting the importance of small business and the jobs they provide Ontarians.


The Speaker (Hon Allan K. McLean): I would like to inform the members of the Legislative Assembly that we have in the Speaker's gallery today a South African delegation headed by Mr G.E. Nkwinti, Speaker of the province of Eastern Cape; Mr T. Gunning, Deputy Speaker of the province of Gauteng; and Mr E.N. Ginindza, Speaker of the province of Mpumalange, formerly Eastern Transvaal. Please join me in welcoming our guests.

I would also like to inform the members that in the west gallery of the Legislative Assembly we have today in the Speaker's gallery the Honourable Tomazinho Gardozo, Speaker of the Legislative Assembly of India, accompanied by Mr S. Nanda, consul of India in Toronto. Please join me in welcoming our guests.


Mr David S. Cooke (Windsor-Riverside): On a point of privilege, Mr Speaker: I rise to ask for some direction. Today I have three areas of concern with regard to security around the Legislature.

First of all, one of our caucus members today sponsored a press conference, which is the norm, that if an outside group is going to have a press conference in the media studio a member of the assembly must sponsor that press conference, and the organization, as I understand it, was denied access to the media studio on the basis that there were too many members participating in the press conference.

I need to know, and I think all members of the Legislature need to know, if the rules have changed in terms of access to the media studio, what are the new rules and who has been involved in changing those rules?

Secondly, when I was going down to the cafeteria to pick up a sandwich, I noticed that there were numerous representatives from the Ontario Provincial Police from the SWAT team, dressed in their SWAT team outfits. I know there was supposed to be a demonstration today out in front of the Legislature, but again, I would like to know what the rules of the game are and who in fact is inviting -- it's a very, very serious step to invite and ask for representatives from the SWAT team to come down to protect the Legislature. I think that's a very unusual step and I'd like to know what guidance and criteria are being used when representatives from the SWAT team, in their full outfits, are being invited into the Legislature and then walking around downstairs.

Thirdly, I'd like to know what authority there was and who made the decision to now install permanent barriers out in front of the assembly. I understand the difficulties that occurred on the day the speech from the throne occurred, but I think there will be a lot better atmosphere around this place if all of us are involved in making decisions with respect to security.

I'm very confused as to why there would now be permanent barriers installed in front of the assembly. No one from our caucus was involved in consultations for that decision.


Mr James J. Bradley (St Catharines): I must express a similar concern about a couple of aspects of it. Looking at it in a general sense, I really believe that the Legislative Assembly committee, once the committees are struck, should have that opportunity to review all security matters so that each of the parties represented in this Legislature can feel that it has had appropriate input and can review all of these decisions.

I understand there are always matters of concern to you, as Speaker, and to others about security in these days, but I do believe it would be important to consult all the parties and have the Legislative Assembly committee deal with these before we get into erecting permanent barriers and things of that nature.

Second, I am concerned as well about the media studio. It has always been an opportunity for people -- government or opposition or people from outside at the invitation and sponsorship of individual members -- to make a point in the media studio so that there is a democratic opportunity to put forward a point of view.

Any changes to those rules I believe would be best dealt with by the Legislative Assembly committee. I do hope we can move forward with this going to committee as soon as possible and have that input from the elected members.

Hon Norman W. Sterling (Minister of Consumer and Commercial Relations): We are as anxious as the other members of this Legislature to find answers to the questions posed. We did, however, earlier today inquire about the permanent posts which have been installed at the front of the Legislative Building and were told in response that they were there at the behest of the previous Speaker and that the contract had been let prior to your term in office, Mr Speaker.

Mr Alvin Curling (Scarborough North): On the same point, I had a visitor from the press coming to see me recently, Mr Doyle-Marshal, who was actually searched and asked for his bag to be emptied out. In fact, he was asking me what was the procedure. I couldn't inform him what was the procedure in security. He has come in and out of this building many, many times and he's wondering why he has to be searched in that manner.

I would like that the Legislature move on this as urgently as possible so we can understand what the rules are.

Mr Peter Kormos (Welland-Thorold): I met with the people who were gathered here to participate in the media conference in front of the Legislative Assembly, because not only had they been denied access to the media studio, they, as members of the public, had been denied access to the building. It was only when I escorted them into the building that they were permitted to enter this very public building, which they help pay for.

Mind you, I was somewhat grateful. I knew I wasn't going to get mugged, because there were enough police surrounding us that I was safe from any harm. Police and security staff accompanied us all the way to my office in the north wing, kept wait outside my office and then accompanied us as I took this group of people on a tour through the building.

I have no quarrel with the police accompanying me on a tour and I hope they enjoyed my pointing out the highlights of the building, but it is repugnant that members of the public are not allowed to enter this public place. One must question what are the standards to apply as to who gets in and who doesn't. Do you have to wear a blue suit to get in? Because I tell you, I'm not going to wear one for four more years.

The Speaker (Hon Allan K. McLean): I've heard the many points of order and I appreciate your bringing it to my attention. I will report back as soon as possible.



Hon Bob Runciman (Solicitor General and Minister of Correctional Services): Parole is a privilege, not a right.

This government made a commitment during the election, and reiterated it in the speech from the throne. We promised to shift the balance of the criminal justice system back towards the safety of the public and the rights of victims.

When members of the Ontario Board of Parole are making decisions about which offenders to release into our communities, we believe that public safety must be the overriding concern. They must, when considering whether to release an individual on to our streets, always be prepared to err on the side of caution.

We believe that parole board members must be qualified -- by their background, their work experience or their contributions to the community, as well as by the training they receive -- to make sound decisions.

That is why I wish to take a few moments today to talk about some of the recent improvements to the parole board, including the appointment of new members to the board and to announce a review of the board's mandate as a provincial agency.

Recent changes to the board's operation have come about as a result of the recommendations contained in the Stephenson inquest and the Wein report. Today, board members may no longer grant parole to a serious offender when key documents about the offender's criminal record, such as police reports, are not available. Without that crucial information, the paroling decision must be postponed or denied.

A 24-hour, on-call system for parole supervising officials has been established for issuing warrants of apprehension for parole violation.

My ministry is implementing a standard risk assessment tool to determine the level of risk presented by offenders being considered for release. This is one more mechanism to help guide parole board members and to ensure they make safe and responsible decisions before releasing offenders into the community.

The Ontario Board of Parole now has a procedure in place to review every case in which an individual commits a serious offence while out on parole.

These changes and others go some distance towards ensuring those parolees released are our best candidates for a successful and productive return to our communities.

I would also like to take this opportunity to announce the appointment of 34 new full- and part-time members to the Ontario Board of Parole. The expertise they will bring to their new responsibilities and their commitment to public safety will strengthen the board. These new appointments, made on the recommendations of the Premier, include four appointees with extensive backgrounds in the field of corrections and parole; 12 individuals with policing experience, including five former chiefs of police; two individuals with legal backgrounds; a retired judge; and five men and women with business and management experience.

Among our new appointees to the board as part-time members are Richard Chaloner, a former Deputy Attorney General of Ontario; Pat FitzGerald, a retired senior judge, district court of Ontario; Gary Preston, former superintendent of the Rideau Correctional and Treatment Centre; Arthur Rice, former chief of police for Ottawa; Carolyn Harrison, an instructor in the law and security program and a former police officer for Peel region; and Ralph DeGroot, a retired RCMP officer with 34 years' experience, including a stint as the commanding officer of the federal commercial crime investigative program in Ontario.

I would like the members to take special note of one newly appointed part-time member of the parole board. Franco Fragomeni is a supervisor of psychological services at the Belleville General Hospital, who has worked extensively with young offenders and adults with behavioural disorders. He is the brother-in-law of the late Constable Joe MacDonald, who was shot October 7, 1993, during a routine traffic patrol in Sudbury.

Among our 10 reappointments are Elizabeth Kiddle, a social worker who has worked within corrections and family services, and Joe Seymour, executive director of the NeChee Friendship Centre in Kenora.

I would also like to mention the appointment of Ken Sandhu, chair of the Ontario Board of Parole. Mr Sandhu has been acting chair since last March. He is a dedicated professional who began as a correctional officer more than 20 years ago and who has just recently assumed the presidency of the Canadian Criminal Justice Association. In his capacity as acting chair, Mr Sandhu has tightened the criteria for release and improved the training that board members need to carry out their difficult task. I thank him for his efforts to date and for overseeing future enhancements.


The measures we have taken today will begin to increase public confidence in this province's parole system. However, this cannot be done without examining all the issues surrounding parole. This brings me to my final announcement.

I have appointed a distinguished Ontarian, Mr Douglas Drinkwalter, to review the operations and mandate of the Ontario Board of Parole. He will make recommendations regarding the future delivery of parole services by the province of Ontario. His and my fundamental concern is with the continued safety and security of Ontario residents. Mr Drinkwalter is a former director of the Ontario Police College, a former chair of the Liquor Licence Board of Ontario and a former chair of the Ontario Civilian Commission on Police Services.

I have asked Mr Drinkwalter to report back to me by March 1, 1996.

Mr David Ramsay (Timiskaming): The Solicitor General never fails to amaze us over on this side of the House, because it was as late as September 16 that he was speculating in the newspaper that he would be getting rid of the Ontario parole board and allowing the federal parole board to do all that work for us. I see the minister now has sort of seen the light, that it's very important that we have an Ontario perspective on those people who are in our charge for two years less a day in the Ontario provincial system, and that we bring, as a government and from this Legislature, the perspective as to who should be on parole and what are the standards that we want to see in this province. So it's a bit of an about-face, but there have been lots of surprises from this minister as of late.

I think it's important when looking at these appointments that we say to the minister that there's some good correctional background in a lot of these people. I think that's very important, though I would add to the minister that we in the opposition especially would like to see a greater use of the government agencies committee of this House so that we could start to review many of the appointments that this government has made.

Many of the people have credentials from the corrections side, but I think it should be the role of the loyal opposition to be looking at and giving some scrutiny to those positions, and especially the laypeople who are there. It's very important to make sure that these are not just plum patronage positions, but that they can pass the scrutiny of government agencies. So I would ask the minister that he do that and maybe even bring some of these through so we could have a look at them once we get the committees up and running.

It's kind of ironic, of course, that many of these people now who will be put on parole will not have any of the transition programs going into society, because of course the minister has closed the halfway homes in Ontario. So I can see why he's putting some stress now on the parole board, because of course these people now are going to have to directly go from a jail on to the street without those support programs that our halfway houses have provided for us across the province. We on this side believe those are very important and would certainly ask the minister to reconsider that situation.

The other thing I would say to the minister also is that as he starts to downsize in the ministry, he's going to be putting more and more pressure on the parole and probation officers there. I know, and he does too, that the caseloads are extremely high, and if we're to have that exacting and close supervision of people who have been put on parole by his board and his new appointees, he'd better make sure that the professionals in the field are adequately equipped and that they have a manageable caseload so they can do the job properly and so we don't get slipups and have those awful incidents happen that from time to time do happen.

I would send a warning to the minister: Don't gut that ministry. Make sure that your staff have the time and the equipment to do the proper job to make sure the supervision is there. Caseloads are high and you can't be continuing to cut those positions.

It's very important also, Minister, to make sure the parole board people have the proper information when they make those decisions. In the past we've seen, both at the federal and provincial levels, offenders being released without the parole board having the proper information as to the severity of the offences and a complete record of the offender, and that's going to be very, very important.

I see the minister is concerned about some better communication and sending a current photograph to the police, as was not the case in the past. It's going to be very important so the police, when at their discretion they want to inform the community about who is going to be released in the community, have the proper information and a correct and current picture of the people.

I would also say to the minister that it would be very important to rush the implementation of the standard risk assessment tool that the ministry has developed. I think that's going to be very important to make sure that all these new board members are up to speed with all the current risk assessment tools that are available. It's very important, for them to make the very best decisions on behalf of us all, that they have the best information and the best training.

Mrs Marion Boyd (London Centre): The minister is quite right in his concern that people rebuild confidence in the probation and parole system in Ontario. As someone who worked for many years in the victim services area, I can tell the minister that there will be many who work within the community who will be very pleased to see the attention being paid by the ministry to the issue of parole.

I would point out to the minister that, of course, as he admits himself in his statement, many of the new changes that are being implemented or have been implemented were begun under our government in response to the Stephenson inquest. It's important for people to understand that that inquest pointed out very serious problems with our parole system and the way in which information is received, and certainly the changes that have been made over the past number of months should give us all a great deal of confidence that that information is clear to those who are making decisions.

I'm very pleased that those who are on the parole board are going to have enhanced education. I hope that enhanced education includes education around the whole purpose of parole in the first place.

The purpose of parole is to give a time period within which people are under supervision so that they can work themselves back into the community, so that they have the optimum opportunity to avoid reoffending against the law and so that we, as citizens, have the utmost confidence that these people, as they are under that supervision, are in fact getting the kind of supports they require. I share my colleague the member for Timiskaming's concern that many of those services are beginning to be eroded and that places like the halfway houses provided some of those services.

I would say to the minister that, given his statements in the past about the rolling in of the Ontario parole board to the federal board, we are not naïve. We know that this year's time will give an opportunity for that to be examined, and we hope the minister will encourage Mr Drinkwalter to listen to all of those in the community -- not just to the law and order types but to those who work with offenders and to those who work with victims' groups -- to try and ensure that our approach to this is not just a retributive approach but is a rehabilitative approach, is a balanced approach. Most offenders who are in our jails are people who have committed crimes which are certainly not in the high end of the serious scale. That doesn't mean some of them aren't dangerous, and I think we all are confident that the efforts of the board will be to protect public safety. But there needs to be balance and there needs to be understanding of that.

I don't see much here about improved education for the parole board around the kinds of conditions of parole, and that is something the victims' groups have cried out for for years. What are the conditions under which someone would be under parole? How is it going to keep victims of crime, particularly victims of domestic crime, safe during that period of parole? Because that is a very important issue and is one that has not done well in the past. It is very hard, when there are breaches of parole around contact with those victims, to ensure that there's an immediate response, and I think we need to work with all the law enforcement agencies to be sure that parole and that supervision ensure that safety of those victims, because there have been many, many problems with that in the past.

The appointments, I understand, are for a year, which also is a little hint that the minister is very clear about the fact that this is a real examination of the role of the parole board. I hope that as time goes on we will get information from other provinces about the pros and cons of rolling the Ontario parole board into the federal system and whether that will have the effect we want it to have of ensuring that there is a better sense of public safety as a result of the changes being made.

I certainly think many citizens do not know how hard members of the parole board have to work, the number of hours they're expected to give to this, and the difficult decisions they make. It's a good opportunity for us to thank them all, those who have served in the past and those who serve in the future, for the kind of work they're doing on our behalf.




Mrs Lyn McLeod (Leader of the Opposition): In the absence of the Minister of Community and Social Services, I will direct my first question to the Premier.

The Premier may be aware that there is a growing sense of alarm and dismay among people across this province about the performance of the Minister of Community and Social Services. On Friday, as I'm sure the Premier is aware, the minister released a highly patronizing and, I might add, totally inadequate shopping list for people who are on welfare. On that very same day, it was reported that the minister, that same minister, had hired a former Brian Mulroney campaign crony named Jan Dymond to spruce up the minister's image.

Premier, do you find it acceptable for this minister to ask people on welfare to live on a $90-a-month diet while he lives on an image diet that's about 10 times that amount per day, and do you think this minister's problem is just an image problem?

Hon Michael D. Harris (Premier): I believe that Jan Dymond would find it interesting, being part of a consulting firm providing services to many businesses and all governments, to be referred to as a Mulroney crony or whatever was advanced. I'm sure she will find that quite a surprise.

Let me indicate to the leader of the official opposition that all of us from time to time, in answering questions, seek expertise in how to respond to the type of personal attacks that Mr Tsubouchi, the minister, has been subjected to. For newly elected politicians, this is a part of the process; it's very difficult for new members to adjust to. I would like to suggest that whatever assistance Mr Tsubouchi is getting, it's far short of the $800,000 the leader undertook, at some expense, to get ready for the last campaign.

Mrs McLeod: I will, in the interests of dealing with the issue, let a totally erroneous and gratuitous comment pass, and suggest to the Premier that the consultant who was hired would not be nearly as surprised as the welfare recipients who had the benefit of the $90-a-month food plan Mr Tsubouchi provided them with on Friday at the same time they learned he could be spending as much as $1,200 a day to improve his image -- as if there wasn't a substantial problem with this minister. That was the question to the Premier, because I suggest to you that whatever he does in terms of hiring an image consultant, he doesn't have just an image problem; he has a very real credibility problem.

You can hire a thousand image consultants if you care to, you can hide the minister away, as you did on Friday when he released his shopping list, you can even keep him away from the Legislature, but you can't change the basic fact that this minister does not understand what he is doing.

During the weekend we were all intrigued to hear the Premier musing about his days of eating bologna. I suggest that while the Premier may now have stopped eating bologna, his minister is still talking baloney. I want to ask the Premier, during your bologna-eating days, did you have enough money for detergent to wash the dishes? The Tsubouchi list doesn't. Did you have enough money for soap to wash your hands and toothpaste to brush your teeth? The Tsubouchi list leaves that off. Did you restrict yourself to two pieces of bread per day, with no butter? That's all the minister's shopping list allows. This list comes from Tsubouchiland, right along with the 69-cent cans of tuna and the dented tins of spaghetti and the advice about bartering for food.

Premier, does your minister have any connection at all with the realities that the poor people of this province face every day, and does he still merit your confidence in this critical portfolio?

Hon Mr Harris: Just to correct the record, Jan Dymond is not an image consultant. Perhaps the large bulk of the leader of the Liberal Party's $800,000 makeover was for image consultants, but that is not Ms Dymond's role.

Quite frankly, the minister is out meeting with front-line workers in eastern Ontario, as he had planned to do and as he has been doing for a considerable period of time. The opposition kept asking for some assistance to help with their constituents. They didn't really want it, clearly.


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

Mr Chris Stockwell (Etobicoke West): Come on, Allan, kick somebody out.

The Speaker: It will happen soon enough.

Hon Mr Harris: The minister, in light of the cancellation of the $2-million program that used to be in the system to help people on welfare deal with managing money and budgeting and nutrition, a program cancelled by the former government, has asked his ministry that perhaps that cancellation was one program that ought not to have been cancelled and that we should be looking at providing this kind of help and assistance.

Whether the Leader of the Opposition agrees or not with the minister's attempt to help people break this cycle of dependency, to deal with a very, very difficult situation, the minister's quite a caring person and takes his job very seriously and believes he should do everything he can, even if some people will disagree with him.

Mrs McLeod: The Premier can try and dismiss the seriousness of the question with flippancy. He can try and dismiss the concern about the credibility of this minister. I think it is more difficult for the Premier to be able to dismiss the fact that this same minister has made a number of very serious mistakes, if in fact they can be called mistakes.

Premier, this minister said people could earn back the amount of your reduced benefits with no clawback, and this was not the case. We're still waiting for his commitment and indeed your commitment to fix the problem on this matter to be fulfilled.

This minister said he had not cut second-stage housing programs when clearly the cuts have been deep and widespread and those programs are now closing. He said there would be no cuts to seniors and the disabled, but he was caught, not once but twice, signing off on regulatory changes that would do just that. In fact, when he was caught making the first change in the regulations, you said you would not tolerate it a second time. Well, there was a second change in the regulations.

Premier, I suggest to you that every mistake this minister has made has very real significance for thousands of people, the very people that you yourself say you are committed to support: the seniors, the disabled, the victims of violence and those people who go out and get jobs so they can help break that cycle of dependency. I ask you, is this litany of errors what you consider to be an acceptable standard of conduct for one of your ministers?

Hon Mr Harris: I ask ministers to be honest, straightforward, do their best under very trying circumstances.

I want to tell you that over the last 10 years, the programs, the money we have not had, the spending, the $10-billion deficits, the lack of policing, of accountability for the dollars that were just thrown around -- I don't know whose dollars they felt they were. The sad fact is they weren't even taxpayers' dollars; they were dollars that belong to somebody offshore who is now threatening not to lend them to us any longer or to call the notes.

I want to tell you this: Those hardworking people who are struggling, who are on welfare today, to whom we are attempting to give a hand up, I don't think agree with the premise of the question you are asking. None of the allegations you have put forward have affected the commitments we have made that they will be able to earn back the difference.

Yes, it's difficult and challenging to put it into regulation. Perhaps that's why you wouldn't do it for 10 years. But we are going to do the difficult things, we will take on the challenges of doing what we said we were going to do, and the minister, in the very difficult task we have given him to do, is doing that on behalf of all Ontarians, particularly those who have lost hope and who have been caught in the cycle of dependency. Those are the ones we are trying to help.

Mrs McLeod: I gather then that the Premier's answer is, yes, he does consider this an acceptable standard of conduct for ministers, so I may as well move on to a second question.



Mrs Lyn McLeod (Leader of the Opposition): I direct my question to the Solicitor General. There are reports that when the Durhamcrest halfway house closed its doors last week, four inmates were released from Whitby Jail back into the community despite the fact that they had up to two months left to serve on their sentences. People in the surrounding community were understandably upset to hear that this had occurred. We have been worried that these situations would inevitably occur as a result of your government's very hasty decision to close all of Ontario's halfway houses, and now they have begun.

I want to ask you, when you and other members of the cabinet sat around to decide where you were going to make your cuts, whether you knew that people would be released directly into the community before their sentences were served, and did you even think about what that might mean to the safety of people in communities across this province?

Hon Bob Runciman (Solicitor General and Minister of Correctional Services): Individuals who were resident in CRCs were deemed by the officials releasing them into CRCs to pose no significant risk to the public.

With respect to individuals residing in these facilities, as I've indicated, the average stay in a provincial institution is 72 days. A number of these individuals across the province were released early, but if you take a look at the individual cases, a few of them had two or three days left on their sentences, there were a number of extenuating circumstances, and I've been assured that any of the individuals released early in terms of the completion of their sentences pose no risk whatsoever.

Mrs McLeod: I'm more than a little surprised at the minister's answer, because these are individuals the judges thought had committed crimes serious enough to give them a sentence the judge clearly determined was appropriate, and it would seem to me that the minister is now setting his judgement and the judgement of his ministry staff over that of the courts. I'm more than a little surprised that this minister would offer that explanation.

I suggest to the minister that the decision to close the halfway houses never actually made sense, and what's happening now simply proves that.

You made the cut without ever considering what its impact would be or where in fact the residents of halfway houses would go. You didn't take time to find out if there was actually room for these offenders back in Ontario's jails. You didn't even take into consideration the fact that it costs twice as much to house these people in a jail as it does to house them in a halfway house. And now we have a situation where the offenders are being sent directly into the street instead of finishing their sentences.

Minister, when you made that hasty decision to close the halfway houses, you said these residents were being sent back to jail. Now we learn they're being released directly into the community, and I have to wonder whether that's happening because you've discovered it is more expensive to keep them in jail.

How many people that you said you were sending back to jail have in fact been released into the community? Are they being released because it is simply too expensive to keep them in jail, and have your cost-cutting exercises now taken precedence over community safety across this province?

Hon Mr Runciman: Some of the information the Leader of the Opposition just put on the record is quite inaccurate.

With regard to the Durhamcrest matter, the individuals were returned to the institution. Four were granted temporary absence, again with the requirement to report to the institution daily, maintain employment, do community work on weekends and attend counselling programs as appropriate.

The two offenders that people say were dangerous were on bail prior to the sentence. Contrary to what the Leader of the Opposition said, the judges recommended immediate temporary absence when sentencing and correction officials no longer considered them as posing a risk to the community.

Mrs McLeod: If there were recommendations made that these individuals be released into the community without serving the balance of their sentences, it was because this minister and this government had taken away any other alternative, the alternative of the halfway houses.

I suggest again that that decision to close the halfway houses was made without thinking and without any kind of analysis; that you didn't think about the economic impact, the fact that people would have had to quit jobs to be sent back to jail, as you said you were going to do; you didn't think about the budget impact, the fact that it costs more to keep people in jail; you didn't think about the safety impact, that people would indeed have to be released directly back into the streets.

Minister, I ask if you will not admit that this was just a mistake -- call it a drafting error if you like -- say that you have had time to reassess the impact of this decision, that you've made a mistake, and reverse your decision to close Ontario's halfway houses.

Hon Mr Runciman: The member's contribution today certainly hasn't persuaded me that we've made a mistake. Quite the contrary. We're saving in the neighbourhood of $11 million a year. We're moving into electronic monitoring early in the new year. The system we've put in place in terms of the risk assessment tool, in terms of ensuring that the people released into the communities provide no risk to society I think is the way to go. In fact, as I've said on a number of occasions, this is going to provide a much safer process than the halfway house system did.

Again I have to mention that the member is trying to make a mountain out of a molehill here with respect to the fact that halfway houses represented a total of 398 beds, one half of 1% of the total offender population in Ontario on any given day.

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

Mr Bob Rae (York South): Mr Speaker, my breath is still recovering from the conversion in the demeanour and policy of the Solicitor General. I can hardly believe my ears, when I recall his attacks on us in the old days.


Mr Bob Rae (York South): My question is for the Premier. The Toronto Welfare Council, the predecessor of the Social Planning Council of Metropolitan Toronto, has had a guide to food since the Great Depression. In 1939, they said -- and the figures I'm giving you are all in 1994 dollars -- that the food cost for a moderately active man would be $75.97; in 1944, which was an update during the war, they said the cost would be $113.19; and it's $157.80 for today. Today, the North York department of public health also says that a single man, aged between 25 and 49, needs at least $156 a month for an adequate diet.

These figures are quite at odds with those put out by the Minister of Community and Social Services. I wonder if the Premier could explain why his minister seems to believe that a single person can live on a diet that's about $70 less per month than those being set forth by people who are nutritionists and experts in the field.

Hon Michael D. Harris (Premier): The premise of the question is that we somehow have set a figure, and that is not at all what we have done or what the minister has done. We have set our welfare rates 10% higher than the average of the rest of the provinces. This would be probably 20% to 30% higher than somebody living in New Brunswick; to date, nobody has told me that people are starving in New Brunswick because of those rates.

Specifically, somebody asked a "What if?" situation -- "What if" this? "What could you buy for that amount of money?" -- and the minister said to his staff, if somebody found themselves in that situation, which is the single person --


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

Mr Len Wood (Cochrane North): Tsubouchi said he had a budget.

Mr David S. Cooke (Windsor-Riverside): He said he did it on his own.

The Speaker: The member for Cochrane North is out of order and the member for Windsor-Riverside is also out of order. Could we have some order so I could hear what the answer is, please.

Hon Mr Harris: Somebody specifically asked about that amount of money. And the minister is a very thoughtful, caring individual. This amount was less than half the amount somebody would have after paying for shelter, so there was still plenty of money to go to $157, plus clothing, plus other items. But somebody asked specifically about that and he asked one of his staff members, "Let's see what we can buy for that amount of money." Perhaps the opposition now is saying, "Silly minister, for caring." We happen to be proud of a minister who cares.


Mr Rae: I don't think that's what any of us are saying. The issue isn't the size of anyone's heart. That's not what's at stake here. The issue is the wisdom of a government minister putting out a shopping list which is insulting and inadequate by any objective test. That's what's at stake here.

As the Premier is unwilling to answer the question with respect to the Toronto Welfare Council going back to 1939, perhaps he'd like to comment on the statement by Ann Armstrong, who's a nutritionist at the Lawrence Heights Community Health Centre, who said, in commenting on the list, "The dairy products list is okay, but the vegetable and fruit category is only enough for two weeks, following bare minimum nutritional requirements." She then goes on to say, "Ultimately, a person eating this type of diet loses interest in eating and the downward spiral begins."

I thought this was about giving a hand up, about providing people with enough sustenance so that they have the encouragement and the morale to carry on. Again I want to ask the Premier, how does he explain a minister of the crown putting out a food shopping list, sole single on GWA, for $90.81, when it doesn't appear to meet the food requirements which nutritionists and others are saying is the bare minimum that would be expected? Why would a minister make a blunder as serious as that?

Hon Mr Harris: The minister's staff person who said, "Here's one thing we can buy for $90," checked it with a nutritionist and checked around, said, "This doesn't look like a lot, but this is relatively balanced," and was part of what the minister was trying to do to make up for the $2 million cut by your government in providing this type of nutrition counselling. That was what the minister had. When he indicated to the House a couple of weeks ago that he was working on this, was concerned about this, cared about people, the opposition members demanded to see it -- started with freedom of information.

Clearly, there's much more to be done. The minister has asked his officials to work with a consultant to develop additional information to try and provide assistance. If there are others who have information that could be beneficial, we would encourage them to assist people who are on a low, fixed income.

In the meantime, I have to tell you that it is not the intention and it is not the goal of our welfare policies to simply be, on average, the most generous in North America; we understand that's very difficult and very challenging. It is our goal, in setting that rate and in bringing in workfare programs and in reducing dramatically the amount of money that's clawed back when people work, to encourage them to work and to get jobs to help supplement the income. In the case of a single person, as you're all referring to, this is about five hours a week at a minimum-wage job. We are asking people and the community and all of those to assist with those jobs.

Mr Rae: The Premier's minister, in answer to a question from me, quite unsolicited by me -- I did not ask for this list; I didn't ask for the budget -- said these words: "I had some research done to indicate how and whether or not someone who is a sole single on benefits or a single parent with a child..." and then goes on to say, "We've actually provided a budget here.... I have it here in this binder. I'd be willing to share this with the leader of the third party." Three weeks later, I got the list. I understand, from the Globe and Mail on the weekend, that in fact it's a different list from the one he had in his binder on that day, so I don't have the list he had in his binder on the day he offered it to me.

I'd like to ask the Premier, will you produce the diet which the minister said he had in his binder on that day, October 3? And is the Premier personally satisfied that the food shopping list provided by the minister for $90.81 is nutritionally adequate for the people of this province?

Hon Mr Harris: The only list I have is the one that was released on Friday. If there is another list, we're prepared to ask the minister. I'm sure that there were drafts that they were working on, trying to come up with it.


Hon Mr Harris: I know it's difficult for the member to hear with his members talking, but I'll do my best. Clearly, I said on the weekend that this is not a diet that I personally would want to live on. If I was faced with this, I would want to seek a job, try to get a little extra money, try to do other things.


The Speaker: Order.

Hon Mr Harris: The members ask where. I was sent this by a concerned person who said, "You know, I took a two-hour walk down Yonge Street" on a particular date, a couple of weeks ago, "and I had my camera with me and I saw, unbelievably, over 48 job opportunities," and he sent me a picture of each one, where they are. This was in two hours: "Wanted: Full- or Part-time Salesperson"; "Join Our Team"; "Manager"; "Manager Trainee"; "Full-time Salesperson"; "Accepting Résumés"; "Please Work Here."

The Speaker: Would the Premier wrap up his answer, please.

Hon Mr Harris: "We're Hiring Full-time, Part-time." So my advice would be not to try to exist on the minimum, although many people are able to do that.

The Speaker: The question's been answered.

Hon Mr Harris: Many in other provinces are doing it on far less than we're asking our people to do it on. My advice and suggestion, and I hope all of you are doing the same --

The Speaker: Time, time.

Hon Mr Harris: -- that you are truly trying to assist people --

The Speaker: Would the Premier take his seat, please. The question has been answered.

New question, the leader of the third party.

Mr Rae: I want to come back to this issue because I think the Premier is skirting a couple of fairly basic issues in a major way. The minister told us that he was going to provide us with a budget for a single person and also a single person with a child.

Ms Frances Lankin (Beaches-Woodbine): And that he had it there.

Mr Rae: And that he had it in his binder. He hasn't done that. He's given us a new document which has been doctored and, apparently, doctored inadequately, because other nutritionists are telling us even this document is inadequate.

I'm thinking now of the children who are reliant on perhaps single parents for their food. I'm very concerned that the same minister who thinks that it's okay to live on 90 bucks a month for food for a single person has also got some other mythic figure and mythic budget, not just for themselves but for kids.

Is the Premier advising the children of single parents that they should live on a diet of bologna and beans until they're 18 years old? Is that the suggestion that the Premier's making?

Hon Mr Harris: The minister's not giving advice to children at all. The minister is very concerned, of course, about children and a future and a hope and opportunity.


The minister was, as was I and our cabinet and our party when we took office, faced with this situation. We were faced with the fact that over the last 10 years, two successive governments spent a total of $40 billion on welfare. We looked at those programs that those $40 billion were spent on -- dollars we didn't have, by the way; borrowed dollars -- we looked at those dollars and said, after spending $40 billion, we took welfare rates 10 years ago, 10% on average higher than the rest of Canada to 30% to 35% higher.


The Speaker: Order. The member for Cochrane South, come to order.

Hon Mr Harris: What did we accomplish? More food banks; more people going without jobs; more unemployed; three times the number of people on welfare; the budget up four times. So we asked ourselves, if we carry on this way we're going to have even more people on welfare and even more hungry and even fewer jobs if we keep on borrowing money to do it.

So the minister, the cabinet, this government are making fundamental changes: changing welfare to give children an opportunity, a future, some hope -- something that was lacking in the last five years.

Mr Rae: The question was about food and children and the adequacy of the information provided by the minister, just to remind the House that was the question. I'd like to return to that question because I haven't heard the beginning of an answer.

On October 3, 1995, the minister said that he had a budget for a single parent with a child as well as for a single person. He has provided us with neither. He has provided us with a subsequent document which has even now been shown to be totally inadequate. I want to ask the Premier, will he produce for us today the budget that the minister said he had for a single parent with a child in the province of Ontario on October 3, 1995? Will you please produce that document today?

Hon Mr Harris: I have no documents that deal with any statements made on October 3. I know the minister was working on, and continues to work on, trying to provide nutritional advice and --

Mr Cooke: That's not what he said.

The Speaker: Order.

Hon Mr Harris: The minister, I believe, has responded to that. If there are other questions for him specifically, then that's fine.

What I can say to the leader of the New Democratic Party is this: His policies for children were an unmitigated, disastrous failure, condemning more and more and more an increasing number of children to a cycle of dependency that is one of the cruellest things that could ever be exacted upon children anywhere in this great province of Ontario, in this great country of Canada. That's not even to talk about the future hope for jobs and opportunity as the finances of this province have been pushed close to Third World country status.

I want to tell you we're making changes to bring this province back, to bring hope and opportunity back. Why are we doing it? I'm going to tell you why we're doing it. We're doing it for our children.

Mr Rae: Just because the Premier is advising people to live on a diet of bologna doesn't mean he has to serve it to us in the Legislature. No matter how thick you cut it, my friends, that's what's being served here.

The Premier and his government are doing something for the children of the wealthier people in this province. They're doing nothing for the children of those who are the most vulnerable in this province. The record will show it and the history will show it. But let me come back.

Premier, can you please tell us why you are unwilling to come forward with the diet which the minister said he had in his binder on October 3, 1995, which was supposed to prove how children of people who are on social assistance were going to be able to get by, when the only thing the minister has produced is for a single person, and even that document has been proven to be totally, totally inadequate by any standard? Can you tell us why you're so unwilling to come forward with that document today?

Hon Mr Harris: You know, unlike the way the government has operated for the past 10 years, we've come forward with every document we have, with information, with work in progress. This has been one of the most open governments, one of the most predictable governments.

A year in advance of the election we published, "Here's what we would like to do if you give us your trust to elect us."


The Speaker: I wonder if the members would mind coming to order so that we can hear the answer to the question, please.

Hon Mr Harris: We put out a year in advance of an election, saying: "Elect us. This is the direction we would like to go in." We campaigned on what we would like to do if the people entrusted us to make changes. We simply asked the people: "Are you happy with the status quo? Are you happy with 1.3 million on welfare? Are you happy with half a million people unemployed?" And the people of Ontario said: "No. We must make changes. We must change the spending dollars we don't have and we must turn welfare into workfare and into a hand up and break the cycle of dependency."

It's not easy. It's not easy making changes, and it is very difficult for people who are on welfare. We understand that. We appreciate that. We are sympathetic to that.

The Speaker: Wrap up your answer, please.

Hon Mr Harris: We have a lot of empathy for those people, and we are going to do everything we can to truly give them a hand up and break that cycle of dependency.


Mr Michael Gravelle (Port Arthur): I have a question for the Minister of Transportation. As you may have learned by now, this weekend brought a major snowstorm to northern Ontario. It also very tragically brought unnecessary fatalities to northern roads.

According to a police report, slippery, snow-covered roads were to blame in an accident that caused the deaths of three people and injured five others near Sioux Lookout. In addition, conditions were so bad near Ignace that dozens of transports were stuck on a hill with no sanders in sight.

Minister, it's happened. There have already been deaths this year due to road conditions. Your ministry has announced cuts that will see maintenance to winter roads downgraded. Nowhere will these cuts be more acutely felt than in northern Ontario, although they affect the entire province.

Minister, you must assure this House and you must assure this House today, and the people of this province, that you will make no further reductions in winter road maintenance and that you will reverse the cuts that you have announced. Will you please commit to that now?

Hon Al Palladini (Minister of Transportation): My deepest sympathies are with the families and the victims of this tragedy. I'm disappointed that the honourable member would blame government reductions for what is clearly a tragic accident.

It insults the families of the people involved for you to make those allegations. The reductions in winter maintenance do not come into effect until November 13. This was a tragedy, certainly with no fault on the proposed cuts that you're referring to.

Mr Gravelle: It's astonishing that the minister would just kind of slide away from this as he has all the time on this issue. There's no question you cannot simply walk away on this one. You cannot play with safety due to budget cuts. These things are happening now. You've got to talk to your colleague, your desk mate, the Minister of Education and Training, who was just in Sault Ste Marie this past weekend, and he was talking to northern board of education officials who were very concerned about those cuts as well.

You simply have an opportunity now to do the right thing and to see that before more tragic deaths occur, you rescind these cuts to winter road maintenance now. This issue will not go away, Mr Minister. You've got to deal with it now. Please commit to that today.

Hon Mr Palladini: I'm always sad when there is an accident and it takes a fatality. It really does make me sad. Again, I would like to say it is very unfair for the honourable member to put the blame for this tragedy on this government. Again I would like to say that we are committed to maintaining the standards of our roads in a safety environment, and I just will not accept the member's blaming this government for that terrible tragedy.



Mr David S. Cooke (Windsor-Riverside): My question is to the Premier, in the absence of the Minister of Community and Social Services, and I'd like to come back to the question that's been raised earlier about the cost of the consultant that the Minister of Community and Social Services has hired to improve his image.

I'd like to ask the Premier, does he think it's appropriate for the taxpayers of this province to be spending $1,200 a day, so one day's cost of this consultant is equal to 13 months of food under the budget that the minister tabled at the end of last week? Is that fair in the province? Is that a fair expenditure of funds, all of which are borrowed funds? That would be $1,200 a day, $6,000 a week, or $300,000 a year. Is that an expenditure which this Premier endorses?

Hon Michael D. Harris (Premier): As I indicated before, the person in question actually is not an image consultant but I understand has been retained on the minister's staff on a contract as opposed to staffing up to the levels that the former New Democratic Party had. What I think you will find is that ministry by ministry, category by category, Premier to Premier, we have far less staff, are spending far less money. Yes, in some cases, when you staff very lean and mean, and from time to time you need communications advice or you need advice on setting up your ministry and staffing and whatnot -- these are the kinds of services that are provided -- from time to time then you bring somebody in for a short period of time instead of carrying them on your payroll for five years.

I want to say to the member, with all due respect, the minister, like all our ministers -- (a) there are fewer of them, and (b) they are spending far fewer dollars on personal staff than did the former government.

The Speaker (Hon Allan K. McLean): The question has been answered.

Mr Cooke: Inside of about 48 hours, the Premier says to the poor people of this province, "Eat bologna and beans," and to the Minister of Community and Social Services, "Blow the taxpayers' money at 1,200 bucks a day, $6,000 a week or $300,000 a year," because you haven't got it and can't communicate with the public, so the taxpayers will pay for a communications consultant.

I'd like to ask the Premier, if the Minister of Community and Social Services needs to be trained or retrained, how long is it going to take the Premier to understand that maybe this person shouldn't be in cabinet?

Hon Mr Harris: What I have directed the Minister of Community and Social Services to do, as I have directed all cabinet ministers to do, is: "Spend far fewer dollars than did your predecessors on personal and political staff and on consultants, add up that budget and let's just make sure that we make the appropriate savings there that should be made."

Ms Frances Lankin (Beaches-Woodbine): But it's okay to spend money for an image consultant for the minister. Was it the consultant who said, "Don't send out the original budget"? Is that where the advice came from, Mike?

The Speaker: Order.

Ms Lankin: "Let them eat bologna; let them eat tuna," but we can spend bucks on a consultant for the minister because he is making our government look --

The Speaker: Order. Would the member for Beaches-Woodbine please come to order.

Hon Mr Harris: I would say to the member for Beaches-Woodbine and to all the members in the New Democratic Party that had you controlled your spending in your ministers' offices half as well as we are doing, and had that been extended to the finances of the province of Ontario, we wouldn't have inherited a $10.5-billion deficit.


Mr Doug Galt (Northumberland): My question is directed to the Minister of Economic Development, Trade and Tourism. Minister, recent media reports would indicate that the cuts in your ministry were very small, less than 2%; some $8.5 million from a ministry of $589 million. When this government is making such deep spending cuts, would you explain to this Legislature why the cuts in your ministry were so small?

Hon William Saunderson (Minister of Economic Development, Trade and Tourism): I'd like to say that, first of all, that is a good question. I should say, relatively speaking it's a good question. I want to thank the honourable member for Northumberland and I appreciate the opportunity to clarify the amount of expenditure reductions within my ministry.

When this government came to office it was confronted with a fiscal mess, and it was a mess created after 10 years of Liberal and NDP waste, abuse and mismanagement. In order to help meet the challenges this government faces, my ministry has reduced its budget by well over $90 million. We literally cut or froze every single program penny that had not already been spent or legally committed by the previous government. Our savings would have been even greater had the previous government not already spent the money.

In the Common Sense Revolution we vowed to reduce grants to business by at least $200 million annually. That goal will be met by this government --


The Speaker (Hon Allan K. McLean): Order. Will the minister take his seat, please. Do you have a supplementary question?

Mr Galt: In light of the significant cuts that this ministry has experienced and will be cutting in the future, what plans do you have for job creation here in the province of Ontario?

Hon Mr Saunderson: That's another good question, and I'm pleased to answer it. I can assure the member that I view these spending reductions as an opportunity to work with job creators in smarter and more strategic ways. We'll be concentrating on improving the business climate, we'll be eliminating barriers to growth created by previous governments, we'll be making the most efficient use of government resources and we will be marketing Ontario here and abroad and promoting sector development. Clearly, we can't keep operating business assistance in the way it was done before.


The Speaker: Order. Wrap up your answer.

Hon Mr Saunderson: We won't provide subsidies that are selective and that give some firms or businesses an unfair advantage over their competitors. We won't prop up unviable businesses or allow them to depend on long-term government support.


Mr Dalton McGuinty (Ottawa South): My question is for the Premier. Premier, many Ontarians are concerned about where your government's priorities lie relating to the environment, and here's why.

There's not a single reference to the environment in your Common Sense Revolution. To date, your government has eliminated three environmental advisory committees; you've cut funding now for the blue box program; you've told the people of Toronto they could not pass a clean air bylaw; and finally, last week we heard musings from your Minister of Environment and Energy about exempting dumps from the environmental assessment process.

I found this particularly surprising, Premier, in light of the fact that in this House, on December 4, 1990, you supported a motion which read in part as follows: "No new waste disposal sites will be designated within the province without the benefit of full and public hearings under the Environmental Assessment Act."

My question, Premier: Do you still, today, believe that Ontario's dumps ought to be the subject of full and public hearings under the Environmental Assessment Act?

Hon Michael D. Harris (Premier): Yes, I do.

Mr McGuinty: Now that the Premier is being so agreeable I'll move forward. I want to draw the Premier's attention to something else to which he agreed, found within the same resolution on December 4, 1990, in this House, and I quote, "No region can transport its waste to another municipality in the province without a resolution of the recipient municipality indicating that it is a `willing host' for such waste."


Premier, you will no doubt be aware that there is a proposed dump site in the community of Flamborough, which I had the opportunity to visit late last week. An environmental assessment hearing was held there. It lasted 140 days and cost more than $15 million. The upshot is that the Environmental Assessment Board concluded that it would be unsafe to locate the dump there. The affected communities of Flamborough, Dundas and the regional municipality of Hamilton-Wentworth are united in their opposition to the dump and these communities are clearly not willing hosts.

Your cabinet, as you will recognize, is now set to reconsider and possibly overturn the decision of the Environmental Assessment Board. My question is quite simply this: The people of Flamborough, Dundas and Hamilton-Wentworth want to know why, Premier, you are considering overturning an Environmental Assessment Board decision and locating a dump in their community when you are fully aware of their opposition to it and when you have clearly indicated in the past that you will not permit such a thing to happen.

Hon Mr Harris: I want to say very clearly to the member that the last time a government decided to skip full environmental assessments, skip the wishes of the people, skip this whole process, short-circuit everything, was when his party was in power and they proceeded to try to force mega-dumps on the people in and around Metropolitan Toronto without a full environmental assessment.

I want to say something: In spite of the fact that we felt the previous government was proceeding in error with their mega-dump proposal, at least they were having full environmental assessment, not trying to short-circuit the process, not going without any full environmental assessment, picking a site, saying: "This is our Liberal site. This is where we're going to put the garbage." I want to tell you that we made a decision then and there that that was not the role of the government -- not to short-circuit the process, not to do that. And the former government, we think, made a few mistakes but at least they did not violate that principle, as was done by the Liberal Party.

With respect to the specific site, I'm actually not aware of the specific site, but if there has been a request, a petition to cabinet, then cabinet must receive that petition and in a judicial way rule on it. If the member is suggesting that cabinet should say, "Even though people have an appeal, we should throw it out or ignore it or not consider it," then I don't think he's acting very responsibly.


Mrs Marion Boyd (London Centre): My question is for the Minister of Education. Minister, in keeping with your government's attack on children, your government is putting school bus safety at risk by cutting the allocation of winter road clearing.

The Toronto Star has reported that the Minister of Education met with representatives of northern Ontario school boards over the weekend and he told them that in order to ensure safety in the north for children travelling on school buses, his government would make deeper cuts to the road clearing in the south. Apparently, the minister said, "We're cognizant of what the road conditions in northern Ontario are like."

I'd like to ask the minister, does that mean that he, as the Minister of Education, is prepared to sacrifice the safety of children in the southern part of this province in order to make it whole through a meeting in the north at a media scrum?

Hon John Snobelen (Minister of Education and Training): In answer to the honourable member's question, I want to assure the honourable member that no one in this government will do anything to put the safety of children in this province at risk.

Mrs Boyd: We're very puzzled then at what the minister himself is reported to have said to the meeting in northern Ontario. The minister has made public assurances that he will take care of the children in the north and he told reporters that deeper cuts could be made in southern Ontario to compensate for the needs of the north.

I represent southwestern Ontario and I want the minister to remember what it's like in the snow belt. The children of Huron and Grey and Bruce and Perth and Oxford counties, Middlesex county, just to name a few of the examples where winter road conditions are an ongoing concern, are they to be sacrificed so that you can make that promise to the parents of northern Ontario children?

This is a real problem, so I have a question for the minister. What's he going to tell the parents and the school boards and the children in southern Ontario when he meets with them? Because I can assure him this will be a question that they will have.

Hon Mr Snobelen: In answer to the honourable member's question, my response to the parents of school children in the southern part of Ontario, the northern part of Ontario, the eastern part of Ontario, the western part of Ontario would be the same: that this government has a concern for the wellbeing and the safety of school children across the province -- an equal concern, honourable member.


Mr E.J. Douglas Rollins (Quinte): Mr Speaker, congratulations on your appointment. I know that you've got a big job to do.

My question is to the Minister of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs. The main goal in 4-H is developing youth. Their motto is "Learn to do by doing." In 1994 in the province of Ontario there were 1,400 members in 4-H work. The average age of these members was 13 years old. Both urban and rural people and children benefit from the practical experience gained through the participation of 4-H.

Considering the valuable contribution that the Ontario 4-H programs make to developing youth, what is the minister going to do to support them?

Hon Noble Villeneuve (Minister of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs, minister responsible for francophone affairs): The 4-H movement in Ontario was 80 years old this year, and I was very pleased to be in Brampton to celebrate with our 4-H members and the many volunteers that operate 4-H. I want to congratulate them again and wish them a happy 80th birthday.

OMAFRA has been and continues to be highly supportive of the 4-H program along with the many volunteers -- the parents of many of these 4-H members. I know that within these chambers many people who come from rural Ontario went through the 4-H movement and it's made them better people because of it. We are supportive of 4-H in Ontario.

Mr Rollins: What is the minister's future plan to promote the 4-H organizations in Ontario?

Mrs Lyn McLeod (Leader of the Opposition): Give them a little money.

Hon Mr Villeneuve: The Leader of the Opposition says, "Give them a little money." If they wouldn't have left the cupboard so bare, it would have been a lot easier to find them some money.

We're presently renegotiating the three-year agreement with the 4-H council, and that will be done for 1996-97. The 4-H council has indicated that they wish to be more responsible and will be providing more volunteers to support the 4-H movement. Yes, volunteers are very important in the province of Ontario and we have them in rural Ontario.


Mr Mario Sergio (Yorkview): My question is for the Minister of Municipal Affairs. The government's commitment to a balanced budget is quickly falling apart. As a result, the government is forcing the hand of municipalities, content to let municipalities make the tough decisions such as cutting essential services like policing, fire departments and ambulatory services, and, yes, raising business and property taxes.

This government has promised to help small business in the province. However, the proposed spending cuts, in particular cuts in municipal transfers, are going to leave municipalities with a serious shortfall in revenues. The end result of this decision will be that municipalities, in order to sustain essential services such as policing, will have to raise business and property taxes to cover this particular shortfall.


Could the minister today in the House give assurances that business, especially small business, won't bear the brunt of government cutbacks by simply absorbing the shortfall in revenues by way of increased property taxes within municipal jurisdictions?

Hon Al Leach (Minister of Municipal Affairs and Housing): In answer to the member's question, I'd like to say that this government is looking forward to working with municipalities, contrary to what they faced in the past. It's our intention to give the municipalities autonomy, with that responsibility to help make their own decisions so that they can implement the programs that they feel are most important to their municipalities. We believe that cooperation is the way you go, not confrontation. We've been working with all of the municipalities, we'll continue to work with the municipalities and we'll keep on going.

Interjection: Cut first, ask questions later.

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


Hon Mr Leach: I'm sorry, I couldn't hear the comment. But I have now.

Mr Sergio: Ted Mallett, of the Canadian Federation of Independent Business, has said that, "Higher property taxes would be disastrous. They will destroy jobs, income and create more poverty," and, I add, inequities.

The average increase in property taxes is going to be as high as $1,000 per every $1,000 in property value. May I say that this kind of help small business can do without.

It was not long ago when the now Premier was saying to the people of Ontario that the buck stops here, that we have to be responsible for our own actions, that we only have one taxpayer and that we must stop unloading on to another level of government.

My question is simple: Can the government guarantee that the shortfall in revenue the municipalities will face will not result in increased property taxes?

Hon Mr Leach: The decision whether to raise taxes or not raise property taxes rests with the municipality.

The Speaker: The member for Mississauga South on a point of privilege.


Mrs Margaret Marland (Mississauga South): On a point of privilege, Mr Speaker: My point of privilege is significant to every member in this House, and it's the question of the use of the cameras that are in the press gallery.

Apparently, at least two of our Toronto television stations, Global and City, last week filmed material on my desk and on my colleague the member for Wellington's desk as well. In my case the material that they filmed happened to be on top of a confidential report from the Attorney General's office which I was in the process of reading.


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

Mrs Marland: I say to all members in the House, I think you should share this concern, because there would be times when you wouldn't want material on your desk filmed either. So, Mr Speaker, I would --


The Speaker: Order.

Mrs Marland: This is a very serious matter, Mr Speaker, and I would appreciate perhaps if you reviewed those tapes and made a decision as to whether there should be some penalty. I know in other legislatures that cameras have been removed by the offending stations that were responsible for them for at least a week or 10 days of filming. If we cannot bring our work into this House -- all of us, every one of us in this House has tremendous work schedules, and we are dependent on being able to do some of that work in this House, so I plead for your consideration to review those tapes and decide whether in fact not only my privileges have been breached as a member, but possibly someone else in the future.

Mr James J. Bradley (St Catharines): On the point of privilege, Mr Speaker: I appreciate what the member has said and the concern she has expressed. I would be concerned that we continue to restrict information that might be available.

We have now discussion of permanent barriers outside for people so they can't demonstrate. We have more police officers around in SWAT gear around the Legislature.

I'm not saying that there isn't a problem that the government sees, and it has to deal with it sometimes, but I just worry that every time we do something like this, we keep restricting the freedom of information that we have available out there.

I think the member is quite appropriate in bringing forward her concerns about documents that she has on her desk and their availability to the public. As a member, she certainly is entitled to do that. I only look at it in the context of everything else that seems to be happening out there. We seem to be tightening the screws on those who want to get information about what happens in this chamber and other places.

I simply place that caution before you when you're dealing with this matter.

The Speaker: The same point of privilege, the member for Windsor-Riverside.

Mr David S. Cooke (Windsor-Riverside): I'd like to join with the House leader of the official opposition in saying that while I understand the concerns of the member, I also would not want the Speaker to think that there is some black and white answer to this particular problem.

It seems that some of the experiences that we've had around here recently have resulted in some rather simplistic responses to security problems, and I would not want to see anyone leaving this chamber thinking that anybody has the authority to implement sanctions against members of the gallery. They have acted in this way in the past, and if there are concerns, I think the appropriate thing to do would be for the Speaker to speak with the president of the press gallery and see if this issue could be dealt with in a way that the gallery enforce rules on itself and not us in restricting access to the gallery, to this place.

The Speaker: I want to thank the honourable members, the member for Mississauga South and others, for bringing this to my attention. I'll look at it and find if there is a policy and I'll report back.


The Speaker (Hon Allan K. McLean): I think I see a previous member in the gallery. Is that Dan Waters from Muskoka-Georgian Bay with us today?



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

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

All those in favour say "aye."

All those opposed say "nay."

In my opinion, the ayes have it.

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

The division bells rang from 1517 to 1547.

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

All those in favour of Mr Sterling'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 64; the nays 29.

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): As I was saying with regard to Bill 7 --

Mr David S. Cooke (Windsor-Riverside): On a point of order, Mr Speaker: Once again, I rise on a point of order with respect to section 106 of the standing orders, which 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 be appointed for the duration of the session."

Mr Speaker, I'm asking you to follow on what I believe your ruling was last week, that at some point you would be stepping in. The standing orders must be adhered to in this place and the standing committees must be established. The only reason the government's not calling the motion is because, even though it is a motion that is debatable in the House -- it's a substantive motion -- the government does not want debate on the motion to establish the standing committees.

We believe in this caucus that we have a right to debate that motion and that the government has an obligation to follow the standing orders and call that motion so that the standing committees of the assembly are established. I'm asking you, Mr Speaker, to intervene to see that that happens immediately.

Hon Mr Sterling: On the point of order, Mr Speaker: I think this government has shown good faith in trying to put forward that particular motion. We brought forward the motion on the 10th sessional day to have it passed and encountered unreasonable opposition from the third party. Then we allowed debate on it on two other occasions.

The leader of the third party saw fit to take an hour and a half to presumably talk about which members should be on which committee, a precedent which I have never seen in this Legislature heretofore in the last 18 years that I have been in these chambers.

We would love to appoint the committees of this Legislature, but we are also obligated to the people of Ontario to bring forward important legislation like Bill 7. I know the amount of time that the opposition has perhaps you might want to characterize it as taken up on this particular motion as to which particular member should be on which committee, and the delays by asking for adjournment votes during the routine proceedings have far outstripped the debate we have had on Bill 7. We must proceed with Bill 7. This was promised to the electorate and that's what we're going to do.

Mr Howard Hampton (Rainy River): On the same point of order, Mr Speaker: It seems to me that the member for Carleton is asking you to pass judgement on what should be debated and what shouldn't be debated. The point of order is that the rules require, and the language is clear, that "the following standing committees shall be appointed for the duration of the session."

You ruled last week that the government should have some time and some opportunity to discuss with members of the two opposition parties how this would be done. That has not proceeded.

The only other time the government has tried to do this was that while debate was happening on another bill, the member for Carleton rose in his place and asked again for unanimous consent.

If we're going to work in this place, instead of on an orderly basis, by always asking for unanimous consent, this place will get bogged down.

Secondly, Mr Speaker, it seems to me that the member for Carleton asking you to pass some sort of subjective judgement on how long a member can speak on a debatable motion, a substantive motion, is really not in keeping with the points of order. If one speaker arises and addresses the House on the issue, stays on the topic, it seems to me that is perfectly in keeping with the rules and the orders of this place.

So I come back to rule 106. It's very clear: "...the membership of the following standing committees shall be appointed for the duration of the session," within the first 10 sessional days. It seems to us that the government has not attempted to do that, and where they've attempted to do it, it's been a rather lackadaisical and haphazard attempt at most.

Mr James J. Bradley (St Catharines): On the point of order, Mr Speaker: From the point of view of our party, we would be delighted to --


Mr Bradley: Oh, you would like to go on forever, would you? We'll see about that. So far we've attempted to be, I think, quite reasonable -- so far. But it happens sometimes that government backbenchers start getting smart all the time and know all these things and start causing problems simply by their interventions.

Putting that aside, I am simply -- as are, I'm sure, the government House leader and the New Democratic Party -- eager to see the committees sit. One of the important things for all members of the House, regardless of which side they sit on, is the committee work that has to be done, and I would hope that a way could be found to accommodate the wishes of the three parties so we can have those committees in session. One of the reasons we've talked about today, Mr Speaker, and I know it's of great interest to you, is so the Legislative Assembly committee, for instance, could sit to deal with matters of security so that the onus isn't placed entirely on you or on any individual servant of this House when it comes to matters of security. So we would be delighted to see the motion brought forward and to have the committee struck at the earliest possible opportunity.

The Speaker (Hon Allan K. McLean): I thank the honourable members for bringing it to my attention. There is one thing that I want to see, and that is that the rules of this House are adhered to. I ruled on it last week. I thought I made the ruling clearly. However, I'd be pleased to take another look at it and report back.

Hon Mr Sterling: As I started to say about Bill 7, the repeal of Bill 40 was made absolutely clear to the electorate of Ontario during the last election, which elected this party on June 8. Therefore, for the House now to stall with regard to getting on with this debate I think does nothing for either side which wants to enter into this particular debate. It's my belief that we would be much better off spending our time talking about Bill 7, talking about our views on Bill 7, than calling for adjournments of the House, as the third party has done on a number of occasions.

The fact of the matter is that we have the mandate to carry the repeal of Bill 40 through, and I think we owe it to the Ontario public to do so. I fully support the Minister of Labour in terms of Bill 7, and I'm pleased as well that we're repealing Bill 91, which deals with the agricultural community. I know the Minister of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs would at this time like to put forward his comments with regard to Bill 7.

Hon Noble Villeneuve (Minister of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs, minister responsible for francophone affairs): I rise for a few moments to participate, to speak on the key points of Bill 7 as they will touch rural and agricultural Ontario.

Agriculture is a very unique industry. It produces food that looks after us all here in Ontario, along with major, major exports -- over $4 billion of exports annually. It's a business that, in my very humble opinion, is even more important than the car industry, and the car industry is very important to this province.

Agriculture, in its uniqueness, cannot and should not come under any sort of labour legislation. Ontario labour is currently experiencing a major period of transition and restructuring. As we travelled the province prior to the election, I had the honour of being the co-chair of a report known as the rural economic development report. I must tell you that there are no surprises between this report and a number of others and the one known as the Common Sense Revolution.

Those who were surprised by what came forth in the speech from the throne really had better look at this government again, because there were no surprises. It is important that the people of Ontario understand that with the type of spending that was occurring, $10 billion a year more than was being taken in by the government, the total debt in the last 10 years under a Liberal and NDP government went from $30 billion to almost $100 billion. That is almost more money than anyone can even imagine and fathom.


The interest now on $9 billion a year, or very nearly $9 billion a year, is more than half of what it takes to run our very cherished health care services in this province. Twenty years ago, under a Bill Davis government, the cost of interest now was basically what it cost to run the government of Ontario. If that does not give you some sort of scale to work on, I don't think any part of the debate will convince you.

It is a very, very important industry, to go back to the industry of agriculture, and I'm very proud to be a part of it and to be there to support and assist agriculture as we move through some global harmonization where indeed we will have to compete on a global basis. When we inject labour relations into agriculture, anything that disrupts the harvesting or the handling of a food crop I believe should not be tolerated and will not be tolerated by this government, and we are living up to exactly what we said.

I stood in my place on the opposition side of the House when Bill 91 came in and said it was simply an addendum to Bill 40, and should we ever have the privilege and opportunity of being the government, that would be one of the first bills to go.

I'm pleased to see that my Liberal colleagues support the repeal of Bill 91, although I was quite intrigued to see that they support Bill 40, which was not quite the message I was getting prior to the election. Be that as it may, Liberals have been known to be flexible from time to time and I guess that is a bit of their flexibility again. They're showing the spring they have -- spring and fall; remember, after spring comes fall, and those things do sometimes happen.

Our government is very, very adamant about making sure that Ontario agriculture not only survives but can operate at a cost that is competitive --

Mr Bradley: Is that like Sunday shopping, Noble? What's your position on Sunday shopping?

Hon Mr Villeneuve: The member for St Catharines should know this. Competitiveness in this world is what it's all about; that's what survival's all about. That is why this Legislature has moved very quickly to put back in place the labour laws that -- well, we're told we'll be challenged. I was very interested in reading in the most recent edition of Farm and Country, "Union leaders, including the United Food and Commercial Workers' Walter Lumsden, say they'll challenge new labour law." Challenge they may; however, we are adamant in having agriculture exempt, as it was previously, from the labour law of this province.

We are recommending in Bill 7 and will explain as thoroughly as we can and as is possible the exemption from collective bargaining to include "farming in all its branches, including dairying, beekeeping, aquaculture, the raising of livestock including non-traditional livestock, furbearing animals and poultry, the production, cultivation, growing and harvesting of agricultural commodities, including eggs, maple products, mushrooms and tobacco, and any practices performed as an integral part of an agricultural operation." I believe, regardless of what Mr Lumsden says, that the exemption of agriculture will indeed occur, as it should and as it had for many years.

I see the member for St Catharines leaving the chamber for a moment. He understands, coming from the tender fruit area of Ontario, the importance of having the job done on time. I know he understands that; he's been around here for a long time. I'm bringing him back to his seat.

Bill 91 increased the cost of labour. As we travelled the province prior to the election, farmers told us, almost to the last one, that indeed Bill 91 and Bill 40 must go in order for them to be competitive, that due to its uniqueness, agriculture must be exempt from industrial-style collective bargaining.

Interestingly, I received several letters, one of them from Highline Produce Ltd -- they produce mushrooms -- and another from Kingsville Mushroom Farms Inc. My colleague across the way would also understand that. I'll just quote a line or two. It's addressed to me, and it says:

"The quick response of your government to return sanity to agriculture by repealing the previous government's labour legislation will serve to provide great confidence in the future of the mushroom sector of agriculture in Ontario."

I believe this echoes the sentiments of basically all food producers in the province of Ontario.

In developing Bill 7, we met with the farm groups, including the Labour Issues Coordinating Committee, a network of 14 major farm groups that dealt with the farm labour issue as the previous government came forth with Bill 91. Committee members told us they supported the repeal of 91 and that they wanted a stronger agricultural exemption, previously present in the Labour Relations Act that was in place prior to the advent of Bill 40 and Bill 91.

We have responded. In Bill 7, not only is agriculture exempt from collective bargaining but we have included a comprehensive definition of "agriculture."

The broad definition will provide clear direction to the Ontario Labour Relations Board in agricultural disputes and ensure that all types of agricultural operations are protected by the exclusion from the Labour Relations Act.

It will also provide our Ontario farmers with the clarity and direction they've been looking for to help them guarantee in the future that they will not have to deal with a mediator or a negotiator. Bill 91 prevented lockouts and prevented strikes, so it created a very difficult situation, particularly when negotiations or communications broke down between an employer and an employee. Farm produce has to be harvested when ready, and whenever communications would break down, you can't lock out, you can't strike. When you don't talk, it's very difficult to get work done anywhere, but particularly in a farming operation.

That was the situation and the climate being generated by Bill 91. If you have a problem as either the farmer or the employee on a farm, you'd better discuss it and arrive at some sort of agreement or go your separate ways. There is no middle of the road here. And I do not think this Legislature or any government can come in and dictate to farmers and the people who work for them how they should run their businesses.

Bill 7 also prohibits an employer from dismissing or otherwise discriminating against any employee who exercised rights under Bill 91 while 91 was in force, so there is some protection there.

As soon as Bill 7 receives royal assent, all proceedings in process under Bill 91, including arbitration, mediation or any other matter before the Ontario Labour Relations Board, will be terminated. Any collective agreement in place under Bill 91 will also be terminated upon royal assent of Bill 7.

There will be no legal recourse to strike activities under Bill 7, since agriculture is exempt from the Labour Relations Act. Work stoppages can be part of existing labour-management discussions, but because Bill 7 contains no means for organizing the family farm, strike action will not be possible.

The Christian Farmers Federation of Ontario, during the farm show at Burford and again during the International Plowing Match, had a survey, and from what I can make out from the information they've provided me, 63% of respondents to the CFFO survey conducted at the outdoor farm show in September indicated that they support the repeal of Bill 91.

As a politician who's been around here for almost 12 years, I am pleased to stand in my place today and do what I said I would and support my government. Two years ago, when Bill 91 became law, I stood in my place over there convinced, and indeed made a solemn pledge, that we would repeal that bill should we ever be granted the opportunity of being in power in Ontario, and this is the beginning of this repeal.

I want to thank the Minister of Labour for initiating this movement because it is acting exactly the way agriculture and food producers in Ontario want us to. We are putting our money where our mouth is.


Mr Ted Arnott (Wellington): It's my great privilege to rise today representing the people of the riding of Wellington, who've seen fit to return me here for the 36th Parliament, to speak in support of Bill 7, An Act to restore balance and stability to labour relations and to promote economic prosperity. More than anything else, the intent of this bill is to encourage companies to create new jobs in Ontario, the new jobs we need for the workers of this province.

The government has undertaken this change in our labour law on the strength of five years of consultation with the people of Ontario while we sat in opposition. We undertake this change, having made this one of the central issues of our election campaign, with the legitimacy that only our election as a majority government can bring.

We have consulted. We have listened. There is legitimacy to our approach, and now it's time to act to reform our labour laws, to encourage the creation of new jobs.

Bill 7 does this in several ways:

It repeals the former government's Bill 40, which, in the two and a half years since it became law, has created an imbalance in labour relations tilted towards the union leaders, and this has discouraged job-creating investment.

It repeals the former government's Bill 91, the Agricultural Labour Relations Act, recognizing the absolute need for labour flexibility in Ontario's agribusiness to ensure that there are no strikes, work stoppages, slowdowns or job action of any kind when agribusiness must be operational, such as planting and harvest time.

Bill 7 also amends the Crown Employees Collective Bargaining Act, and it amends the Employment Standards Act to make the employee wage protection program financially sustainable while still preserving the wage protection program as the most generous in Canada.

But most importantly, Bill 7 introduces new approaches to ensure democracy in the workplace, giving new say to individual workers through a secret ballot vote requirement for union certification, contract ratification and strike votes, ensuring that our workplaces are more democratic, with every union member having the opportunity to directly participate in key workplace decisions.

The secret ballot is perhaps the most important and fundamental aspect of our democratic political system, allowing voters in local, provincial and federal elections the right to make their choices for the election of governments with privacy and free from coercion.

Now this legitimate, democratic right will be enshrined in our labour laws through Bill 7 and extended to employees in their workplaces so that they can make important decisions about joining a union, approving a contract or considering a strike without fear of pressure or intimidation from unions or management so that the will of the majority will prevail.

In my considered view, union leaders have nothing to fear from the secret ballot if they are representing the views and the wishes of their membership. For union leaders who are out of touch with the wishes of their members, the secret ballot will be a wake-up call to be more accountable to those they are representing.

I want to congratulate my friend the Minister of Labour, who has done a superlative job since assuming that position. It is accurate to say that no Minister of Labour in Ontario's history has fought harder to encourage job creation in the interests of all the workers in this province.

In her five years in opposition while she served as Conservative Labour critic, she exemplified every good quality you could ever imagine, being constructive and positive, listening and consulting extensively, and responding in the appropriate way to ensure that the interests of all workers in Ontario were being represented and were being considered by the government of the day. No member of the last Parliament was harder working, more responsible or a better listener than our present Minister of Labour.

Since becoming Minister of Labour, she's reached out immediately to consult all the groups and stakeholders with an interest in labour issues. She has consulted, she has listened, and now it is time to act.

This Bill 7 has been greeted in Wellington with considerable support, particularly from those who create the jobs in our riding, and I want to share two examples with the House.

From Howard Frohlich, president of the Guelph Utility Pole Company Limited:

"We strongly support the repeal of Bill 40. This is the type of change that is needed to keep industry in Ontario.

"Hopefully the changes that are being made by our government, including Bill 40, will convince some of the industry we have lost to the US to return to Ontario."

And from Richard Speare of Speare Seeds in Harriston:

"I support your plan to repeal Bill 40. This will then give business an interest to invest more in industry. We have cut back ourselves in the last two or three years as we could not afford all the extra costs of hiring more people. Without Bill 40, we trust the CN railroad from Stratford to Douglas Point will reopen and we are able to use this service."

This Bill 7 is but one step forward to encourage new investment in Ontario, to create a more positive business climate and to create the jobs we need. Today in Wellington county, in towns like Fergus and Mount Forest and Palmerston and Harriston, in villages like Erin, Arthur, Drayton and Aberfoyle and in our many townships, there are hundreds of people who are looking for work and can't find it.

As the member of provincial Parliament for Wellington, I will never be satisfied until every single worker in Wellington county who's looking for work can find it.

That, then, must be the central objective of this government, to encourage job creation for everyone, and Bill 7 meets this test. I urge all members of this House to support Bill 7.

The Acting Speaker (Ms Marilyn Churley): Further debate from the government side of the House? Before we move to the opposition side, there's an opportunity for questions and/or comments.

Mr Dwight Duncan (Windsor-Walkerville): I've listened with interest over the course of the last two days in the Legislature to the Chair of Management Board, to my esteemed colleague from Nepean, to my esteemed colleague from Wellington, to the Minister of Agriculture.

We indicated earlier that we support the government in its desire to repeal Bill 91 for many of the reasons that the minister himself outlined. I must say, however, that in dealing with the question of Bill 7 and Bill 40, the government members, in our view, have overlooked -- simply overlooked -- the facts. Indeed, as the member for Nepean was speaking on Thursday with respect to the issue of harmony in the workplace, we were confronted with the spectre of Nestlé's, a major employer here in Toronto, saying unequivocally that any future investments that they were considering would be put on hold because of the instability that Bill 7 is unnecessarily creating.

What is important to economic growth, one of the key components to economic growth, I suspect, and it has been verified by companies such as Chrysler, companies such as Nestlé, many other smaller companies, McDonnell Douglas, an example of a larger company, the best way to create a climate for investment is to create a stable climate. We have been told unequivocally -- unequivocally -- that the proposals contained in Bill 7 with respect to the Labour Relations Act will create instability.

The final point that has been absolutely not addressed by the government is the facts around investment, the facts around job creation and the facts around the performance of the economy since the implementation of the bill. We invite you in your future statements to look realistically at those.

The Acting Speaker: Any other comments or questions?

Mr Hampton: Yes. I want to respond to some of the rhetoric of the Minister of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs.

First of all, the Minister of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs, in his attempt to rewrite history, suddenly skips over the fact that most of the western world had to live through a recession, beginning in about the fall of 1989, and all governments were strapped and had to live with some difficult medicine to do that.

I would remind him that the Progressive Conservative government that was in office in Ottawa -- his executive assistant he recruited from that government -- the Mulroney government, racked up a deficit of $45 billion in its last year in office -- much, much higher on a per capita basis than we had here in Ontario -- and, I might say, a debt of approaching $600 billion. So we don't need any revisionist history lectures from the Minister of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs. All governments had to deal with some difficult issues, and I would argue we dealt with them much better than his friends in Ottawa dealt with Canada's problems.

The Minister of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs tries to make a guarantee, or at least he spouts the language of a guarantee, of an exemption for agriculture in terms of labour relations. Let me tell you, he's talking through his hat again. The reality is that we're dealing with a Charter of Rights issue here, the freedom of association. He can write all the fluorescent language he wants, and if the Ontario Labour Relations Board, upon hearing good argument, and higher courts, upon hearing good argument, find that his guarantee of exemption is nothing more than baloney, then it will not in fact provide a guarantee, and knowledgeable people in the field of agriculture know that.


The Acting Speaker: Any other further questions or comments? Yes, the member from -- sorry, you'll have to help me out here.

M. John R. Baird (Nepean) : Nepean. Merci, Madame la Présidente. J'apprécie le commentaire de mes collègues le ministre de l'Agriculture et le député de Wellington. J'apprécie leurs commentaires.

These comments made by my two colleagues I think are very important. For too long in this House and in election campaigns, politicians have said one thing before the election campaign when they're seeking votes, and then another thing after the election campaign when they're governing. I think the importance of their comments is probably best reinforced by the Minister of Agriculture's comments that "This is what we said we would do."

Unionizing the family farm was a wrong decision when it was brought in. It was met with great hostility in rural Ontario. It was an action that really, really was devastating to the morale on family farms, and repealing Bill 91 is an important process in our overall effort to create jobs and hope and prosperity in this province.

I also note that repealing Bill 91 was a major commitment that our party made in opposition. The two members' comments on repealing Bill 40, in my judgement, were very to the point and very wise.

I have a letter here, the fact that many Liberals are supporting our effort to repeal Bill 40. The honourable member for Fort William, when she was Leader of the Opposition in the previous Parliament, asked the former member for Mississauga West, Steve Mahoney, to be her party's Labour critic. I got a letter dated August 10 from Mr Mahoney where he says that for people in business this is very good news indeed, our repeal of Bill 40, which is very appreciated. He goes on to say that our repeal would mean that any decisions made on or after June 26 would be subject to the new law. He wants us to go farther than we're going. He goes on to say he would urge the minister to announce that her new bill -- "which we eagerly await," he says -- would be effective June 26. But again, this government has acted in a balanced approach and isn't going as far as Mr Mahoney would like us to go. But our bill will create jobs, hope and opportunity.

Mr Gerry Phillips (Scarborough-Agincourt): I respond to the Minister of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs first in that one of the justifications for the moves is that you face a substantial financial problem in the province. We agree with that; you do.

But I think the people of the province have to recognize the way you are dealing with that financial problem. Just so everyone recognizes this, yes, the deficit is a huge problem, we agree, and it must be dealt with. But this is a government that is choosing to deal with it by cutting taxes by $5 billion a year. You are going to go out and borrow $20 billion to pay for this tax cut. The Premier today said that that's foreign money you've got to borrow. That's exactly right. How is this government planning to deal with a huge deficit problem? By cutting taxes by $20 billion; by paying interest on that $20-billion cut of $5 billion a year over your term; by running up another $20 billion of debt.

When you became the government, yes, the debt was $90 billion. Now you are saying when you go out of office the debt will be $120 billion. You are going to go out and borrow $20 billion, pay $5-billion interest, for that tax break. I'm not sure where that makes sense. Yes, everyone wants a tax break, but does it make any sense to any of you to go out and borrow $20 billion to pay for that tax cut? It makes no sense to me. That is not common sense; it's nonsense. It's nonsense to borrow $20 billion. It's money we don't have. It is like a company declaring a huge dividend when it's bankrupt. The Premier says the province is bankrupt, and you are going to borrow $20 billion to buy a tax break. It makes no sense.

The Acting Speaker: The member's time is up. The member for S-D-G & East Grenville has two minutes to sum up.

Hon Mr Villeneuve: To my colleague the member for Scarborough-Agincourt and to my critic from up north with the third party, you have to understand that in Economics 101 something is called the law of diminishing returns, and the law of diminishing returns occurred on taxes about the first year that the NDP came to power. They increased the taxes very considerably. What happened? Less money came in. You've got to create a climate that is encouraging people to do something.

The total debt at the end of this fiscal year, as the member for Scarborough-Agincourt knows, will be very nearly $100 billion.

We are 11 million people in the province of Ontario. That is a very substantial amount for every man, woman and child if we continue to tax as the red book would have -- the red book here, and it's called The Ontario Liberal Plan: amazing. That book would have increased the total debt.

It's very interesting that my Liberal colleagues had a very wishy-washy plan. As a matter of fact, it wishy-washed right down the drain. However, their plan was such that, "Well, we will look at it; just send us to power." We had you in power. Recall 1985 to 1990. I happened to be here, and the money that was spent to try to keep the squeaky wheel quiet was unbelievable.

The people from Ontario recognized that. They recognized that very clearly in 1990. The law of diminishing returns was applying. The Premier of the day knew that a recession was right at the beginning and he said: "We'll go to the people. We'll have a nice, clean election in the summer and go back to power and live through this."

The Acting Speaker: Thank you. The member's time is up. Further debate?

Mr Pat Hoy (Essex-Kent): As the Liberal co-critic for Agriculture, I'm pleased to have the opportunity to speak on Bill 7 on behalf of farmers regarding the repeal of Bill 91. I must say that I'm pleased to be standing in my place in a comment to the minister after about 12 days of being here.

Before I move on to the agricultural component of Bill 7, that is, the repeal of Bill 91 and the definition of "agriculture," there's one aspect of the bill which I would like to remark on. Part II, which deals with amendments to the Crown Employees Collective Bargaining Act, gives the government unprecedented power to privatize provincial public services while trampling the rights of crown employees.

When I read some of the articles in the local media I couldn't believe my eyes and thought that surely the press was exaggerating the intent of the government. But when I investigated I discovered that indeed the government's changes to successor rights in the Crown Employees Collective Bargaining Act will make radical changes which will totally undermine the rights of crown employees.

This section of the bill will take away seniority and pension rights. Protection against arbitrary dismissal will disappear. Negotiated wage bargains will disappear. This law will allow employers to set whatever wage they choose.

If this happens, there will be a level of dissension and conflict such as this province has never seen before. I believe that you are responsible for the legislative precinct, Speaker. If I were you I would invest in grass seed and sod because these grounds will be trampled into mud by the force of the protest.


When the NDP passed Bill 91 in the spring of 1994, they did so after years of browbeating farm groups with the expressed intention to remove the previous Ontario labour relations exemption which had protected farmers. As far back as 1991, in their initial labour consultations, the NDP were threatening the farm community with full exposure to Bill 40, with no protection or exemptions. At that time government lawyers stated that even existing exemptions would not stand up in court and farmers would be vulnerable to court challenges from disgruntled farm employees.

Now in 1992, the previous government set up the agriculture labour task force to study the unique nature of agriculture in relation to labour reform. But before the task force was completed and could make any recommendations whatever, the NDP carried out its threat and removed the agricultural exemption under the Ontario Labour Relations Act, removing all protection for farmers and bringing them under the full impact of the Ontario Labour Relations Act. With this stick, the NDP forced farm groups to agree to reforms, because without the exemption, farmers were dependent on the NDP to bring in some legislation to protect them.

When the task force finally completed its recommendations, it suggested specific measures to protect the agricultural industry and family farms, such as preventing strikes, separate legislation instead of amendments to the Ontario Labour Relations Act, and exempting family members from having to join any union which was organized on a farm.

These recommendations were drafted only to moderate the effect of Bill 40 on farmers, not because of any desire of farmers to unionize.

Farmers had been well and truly backed into a corner by the government and the recommendations were only supported by farm groups to the extent that they minimized the damage which the current Bill 40 could inflict. Into their climate of intimidation and coercion, Bill 91 was born.

Now, although the NDP government said it had implemented the task force recommendations in Bill 91, there were many, many discrepancies. Farm groups found 11 major areas where Bill 91 failed to live up to the spirit and the wording of the recommendations. Even the amendments left a number of major problems. While Bill 91 prevented strikes, it created a whole new bureaucracy of red tape for farmers and it pressured an increase in farm employee wages, costing farmers more money in a time when there was less money to go around.

The labour task force had recommended putting the administration of Bill 91 under a separate board, with farmers as representation, but still Bill 91, when passed, operated under the broader Ontario Labour Relations Board. As well, Bill 91 did not provide strong enough penalties to prevent strikes. Bill 91 referred to the enforcement and penalty provisions of the broader Labour Relations Act, which involved a complicated process of first investigating labour disputes and then requiring the labour relations board to make a ruling.

The Labour Relations Act process was designed to mediate disputes where strikes were legal. It was slow, taking days to resolve an illegal work stoppage. Agriculture is seasonal, and even a short work stoppage would have major implications. So even if strikes were inherently illegal under Bill 91, a faster and stronger enforcement and penalty provision should have been established in deference to the seasonality of farming.

During critical times of the season, a strike would be devastating for agriculture. The timeliness of planting and harvesting of crops can be brought down to the hour. Agriculture cannot withstand strike situations where the production of crops is at stake.

We are speaking about crops which are perishable goods. Their value can be destroyed by rain, hail, frost, high winds and, in some cases, too much heat. Any stoppage in planting dates or harvesting dates would disrupt the delivery of the crop to the marketplace.

Processors also need to know that their production lines will continue to move according to schedule and that crops are moving out of the field and to their plant. In many cases, the processor will contract with a group of growers to plant their crops in sequence, a few days apart, to ensure the steady and timely delivery of produce and to guarantee that the plant management schedule is met.

What that means is that each grower's harvest must be completed exactly on time. This is done to optimize plant efficiency and competitiveness and to maintain the quality of product that Ontario is known for.

So we recognize that agriculture has its unique problems when we speak about labour. During any disruption that labour might instigate, the crop keeps growing. They will keep maturing until they begin to rot. It is not the case of simply shutting down the line and hoping the apples go dormant or that the peaches stop ripening or that cauliflower will not turn brown. Livestock won't stop eating or needing water, and birds won't stop laying. Sows won't stop giving birth. A farm isn't like a factory. You can't turn off the lights and go home.

Now, let's get back to the charter scare tactics. The previous government was in fact telling farmers that the exemption for farmers would not stand up in a court challenge. Well, if it's true that a disgruntled employee could file a challenge with the courts about not being able to join a union, he could just as easily have challenged not being able to go on strike. So tell me, Mr Speaker, what protections would Bill 91 have given?

Now the Conservative government lawyers are telling farm groups that with the repeal of Bill 91, the exemption will stand up to the court challenge. But these are exactly the same lawyers who not too long ago said it would not.

I guess they did their work too well, because now farm groups like the Ontario Federation of Agriculture and the Christian Farmers Federation are concerned. They see the Tory promise to restore the agricultural exemption to the Ontario Labour Relations Act as problematic and possibly destabilizing, since the previous government warned that the exemption was doomed to a court challenge as an infringement of the Canadian rights under the charter.

To provide some sense of stability, the Christian Farmers Federation believes that the exemption needs to come with a "notwithstanding" clause that shields it from the charter challenge. Without it, farmers are at risk of allowing the courts to dump on them and into the industrial Labour Relations Act. The Ontario Federation of Agriculture says, "Repeal without remedy is both politically simplistic and shortsighted."

They are well-considered and researched responses coming from farm groups, and they know what they're talking about. The farm organizations in Ontario represent a tremendous resource. They have a pool of knowledge, experience and understanding of farm issues.

That seems pretty simple, doesn't it, that farm organizations would have the best appreciation of farm issues. Yet it's still something that seems to be escaping Mr Harris and Mr Villeneuve as they forge ahead with cuts to this vital segment of Ontario's economy without listening, in spite of their campaign promises.

When Minister Villeneuve made his visits to farm communities across the province in a series of hastefully contrived "table talks," he did so under the guise of consulting with farm groups and listening to their collective wisdom and insights. But it appears that he was only seeking validation from the agrifood sector to wield the Tory axe one more time. He didn't listen, he didn't listen at all, or he would have heard about the importance of agricultural research.


During the table talks, funding for research emerged as a priority item. The Ontario Federation of Agriculture president, Roger George, met with prominent Ontario agricultural researchers at the University of Guelph and said that budget cutbacks to the Ministry of Agriculture's $30.6-million annual University of Guelph research grant would be misguided and disastrous for the long-term viability of Ontario agriculture.

The University of Guelph is a world-class facility doing major research and development that brings an average of $40 of return for every dollar of expenditure. Don't we wish we could all have a return like that?

For example, the University of Guelph has developed a new variety of soybeans which has pushed the economic production of this crop to a new geographic frontier. Furthermore, due to genetic superiority, this soybean will return an extra $28 per acre of income to farmers with no increased cost whatsoever. Moderate estimates indicate that this will increase the farm income by $12 million annually, with a multiplier effect that will occur in the rural area.

Mr George said that agricultural research is the most effective farm safety net program we can have. Of the University of Guelph's total annual agricultural research budget of $67.3 million, $30.6 million comes from the Ontario Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs. This core provincial funding ensures that Guelph research can attract further federal, private and stakeholder funding. Cutting back on research would be a betrayal of the next generation of food production.

Protection of this infrastructure and the continuation of the hundreds of vital projects being undertaken at the University of Guelph is critical to the growth of Ontario's economy. When you realize that agriculture currently receives less than 1% of provincial spending yet the agrifood industry accounts for 5.8% of Ontario's gross domestic product, you realize the importance of agriculture to Ontario's economy and the importance of research to agriculture.

The Christian Farmers Federation of Ontario also emphasizes that research is an infrastructure investment. The cutting of research dollars does immediate harm to the research facility and related industries and the entire economy. Ontario research facilities like the University of Guelph, the Ridgetown College of Agricultural Technology and the Kemptville College of Agricultural Technology are leaders in their field. The technologies developed at these facilities are used around the world. This means that the technologies create jobs for Ontario companies, which also compete in a global market.

If we have to count on others to do our research, this will also mean that the capital investment and related production will remain where they were developed. This leads us to an exportation of jobs and capital, something that I believe Ontario can ill afford.

Although these crucial points were made at Minister Villeneuve's table talks, they were somewhat ignored. The Conservative government announced $13 million in permanent program reductions, which included research administration, the tender fruit lands program, the private mortgage guarantee component of the agricultural investment strategy, the tile drainage loan program, and the Brighton Veterinary Laboratory will be closed, the milk utilization audit program will be cancelled, and Foodland Ontario is also being cut. The list goes on, and these cuts are only the tip of the iceberg if Mr Harris applies the 20% figure which officials have been using as the range needed to balance Ontario's budget.

When Mike Harris released his Revolution document, he promised farm communities that under a Conservative government agriculture would regain its fair share of government support.

During the NDP mandate, Ontario's family farms were all but ignored. While the agri-industries called for economic initiatives to protect and increase jobs, the $26-billion industry was hit by debilitating cuts by the former government. Although overall Ontario government spending increased by more than 15% during that mandate, agricultural spending declined by 14%, reducing its share of the provincial budget to less than 1% of provincial spending. I do believe the Common Sense Revolution backs these figures and goes further to say that if all government ministries experienced downsizing similar to OMAFRA, Ontario would not be facing its current debt crisis. So I want to say that agriculture has done its part in dealing with the debt problems of this province.

Mike Harris promised that there would be no cuts to agriculture, not a single nickel. During the opening remarks at the leaders' debate that was hosted by the Ontario Federation of Agriculture, Mike Harris delivered the following comments, and I'm going to read them to you exactly:

"What you will find in my plan is that there are no cuts to agricultural programs. In fact, we find the $6 billion in expenditure reductions in other areas. Those are the areas that have been burgeoning out of control, not agriculture. Indeed, under a Harris government, agriculture -- and our commitment is firm -- will regain its fair share of government support and priorities." Later in his remarks, Harris said, "Services and support for farmers themselves are fully protected."

That is what he said, and those promises were repeated over and over and over and over during the campaign. But it was just another example of the betrayal and broken promises of this government.

While we are talking about agriculture's proper place in the government's spotlight, I would like to clear up some misconceptions which have been raised by the government.

Mr Villeneuve suggests that agriculture suffered indifference from the Liberal government. While this makes for good rhetoric, it hardly stands up to scrutiny. Under our government, agricultural support and programs nearly doubled. This hardly seems like indifference to me.

I guess Mr Harris is not too worried about breaking his promises to agriculture or to the sick or to the disabled. He knows, he says, he has to be ready to make those tough decisions. But I'll be really interested to see what happens when he has to break his tax cut promise to the wealthy. Yes, that will be a very interesting one.

In the words of Ontario Federation of Agriculture president Roger George, no one respects financial responsibility more than farmers, "but indiscriminate budget slashing coupled with current regulatory impediments to innovative economic strategy will freeze agricultural growth. If this government stalls agriculture, it will stall the entire Ontario economy."

As a long-time farmer and businessman, I listen to farm organizations that understand agriculture and I know what the farm community needs to remain competitive in the face of continual low international commodity prices and new international trade agreements.


Because of the delays which it brought to time-sensitive farm operations, many farmers across the province have advised me that they will be pleased to see the end of Bill 91 and the increased cost and red tape I mentioned earlier. But farmers also believe that the government must be willing to engage in full consultation with farm groups before change is undertaken.

There are many other problems facing the farm community which illustrate this same heavy-handed, bureaucratic approach to rural issues. This government must address these problems and it must start listening.

This government stated in its campaign document the importance of the production of ethanol and supported the plants which have already been proposed. These projects are crucial to the economy of Cornwall and Chatham and their respective areas and, according to the Tory campaign document, important to the environment.

The Ontario Corn Producers' Association represents 21,000 farmers in Ontario who want these government commitments honoured. The plants and the ethanol they will produce represent substantial economic development for rural Ontario, a major market opportunity for Ontario farm crops and the promise of cleaner air quality through expanded use of renewable ethanol-blended gasoline. Now that commercial outlets and the public are considering ethanol-enhanced gasolines, it's even more important to get these facilities up and running.

As the Ontario Corn Producers' Association points out, no government support will be needed for fuel ethanol manufacturing in the long term; however, this is not true in the short term, in part because of the multibillion-dollar subsidy and tax-break supports which have been given to other fossil fuel development.

We are all concerned that this funding now is in jeopardy. One must wonder what has changed since June 8 that these plants are no longer a priority.

The Ontario Soybean Growers' Marketing Board speaks for 20,000 soybean growers across Ontario, and it has written to the Premier and the Minister of Agriculture regarding other commitments in the Tory campaign document. The Ontario Federation of Agriculture concurs.

This promise can be found on page 13: "A Mike Harris government will support and actively promote the establishment of a whole farm support program.... We also believe the inequities of the gross revenue insurance program should be relieved by increasing market revenue insurance coverage to 85%." So far, this promise goes unfulfilled.

As the Soybean Growers' Marketing Board points out, the cost of increasing the coverage under the market revenue program from 80% to 85% of the historic average price and farm yield will be at no greater cost to the government of Ontario, due to the decline in the average prices on which the support payments are based.

The Ontario Federation of Agriculture estimates the annual cost for the 85% market revenue insurance coverage, to begin in 1996-97, is only about one third of the cost of the market revenue insurance program when it came in, in the early 1990s. This means that the Mike Harris promise can be honoured, and other improvements in farm safety net programs, while still permitting some reduction in associated provincial spending compared to other years. In fact, recent data generated by the Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs shows that the cost of delivering an 85% program in 1996 will be significantly lower than the cost of an 80% program delivered in 1994. So why isn't the government keeping its campaign promise?

The government has said that it's concerned about the development of rural communities, but it has refused to respond to problems which have been raised because of a ridiculous reinterpretation of a 22-year-old septic systems regulation which has not kept pace with current technology. This is causing the development in rural areas to slow to almost nothing.

In my area people have stopped building, they have stopped building on to existing homes, and in at least one case a family that I know risks the chance of losing their home completely. Two of my constituents, Starla and Randy Wilkinson, may lose their house because of an Environment ministry regulatory bind. They got approval --

Hon Mr Villeneuve: The minister told you she was going to look after it.

Mr Hoy: I asked August 4; she takes too long. 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 raised system, which they cannot afford. The bank won't lend them any money and they probably can't sell the house because your ministry will fine the property $300 a day. The house may have to be totally abandoned.

In my riding the issue of raised-bed septic tanks is creating havoc for rural homeowners across a 90-mile-long riding. It also is causing havoc in the riding of Essex South. This is a regulation which requires homeowners to install fully raised septic systems which cost about $25,000 and are too large to be accommodated on most rural lots. The regulation is 22 years old and has not changed with current technology.

For the past six years, the Lower Thames Valley Conservation Authority has been approving permits for partially raised septic systems, a newer technology developed from the fully raised system which costs somewhere between $6,000 and $7,000 to install.

Local MOE staff say, and I quote, "All our indications are that the system is working, but we're caught in a regulatory bind." When is this government going to address this outdated regulation? How many families will have to lose their homes because of a regulatory bind before the ministry finally acts?

This is not what the Conservatives said they would do during the election. The government will not even give these people the courtesy of a response to their concerns. We have been writing to the minister since late August about the issue. With all of the pressure on the minister because of a question in this Legislature, I finally received acknowledgement that she may look into it. I wait for a real answer and a real response to a letter that was dated August 4. I have also heard from constituents that they cannot talk to or get a response from the government, or even a backbencher when he's back on the weekends.


Another issue which demonstrates this government's lack of commitment to rural affairs is one which I wrote about to the Minister of Transportation, the Honourable Mr Palladini. For over 35 years there's been a licence issuing office in Ridgetown, Ontario, which illustrates a proven need. This is a fine, thriving community in my riding.

Well, the last licensee in that office could not afford to install the handicap washroom which the ministry requested, so she closed her operation down.

Since that time, the citizens of Ridgetown and the surrounding area have had to travel quite a distance to seek licensing services. This is not only costly and inconvenient to individual citizens, it is detrimental to the economy and viability of that particular community.

There are two large car dealerships in Ridgetown, which depend on local issuing for efficient service. I'm sure that I don't have to lecture the minister about the importance of dealerships' need for quick and courteous service.

Interjection: Who's that, the Minister of Transportation?

Mr Hoy: Right. As you know, Minister, when people buy a car, they want to take it home yesterday. The cost of travelling -- and it's hitting them hard for their many daily transactions -- is undermining their ability to compete and perform.

I wrote to the minister to tell him all this and urge him to approve the reopening of an office in Ridgetown, but the minister wrote back that the government is facing some difficult economic decisions and the expansion of licensing service in our vicinity is not appropriate at this time.

However, the interesting thing is that this office would cost the government nothing, since it is a franchise. The local chamber of commerce is even committed to paying for the computer training.

So tell me where the sense is in this decision. Does this sound like a government committed to rural development?

Mr Duncan: No. Not at all.

Mr Hoy: I don't think so, and neither do the 1,383 people in the area of Ridgetown who signed a petition for the licence issuing office.

To go back to Bill 7, I must raise with the minister that the government's responsibility cannot end with the repeal of Bill 91. There are many farmers and farm groups, like the OFA and the Christian Farmers Federation, that have raised with me their concerns about the charter challenge.

Another issue raised by the OFA is that the definition of agriculture in Bill 7 simply lists all the known types of agriculture and doesn't answer the overall question, are farmers exempt under the new bill?

It is crucial that the Minister of Labour, or even the Minister of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs, clear the air on this issue and table a specific legal opinion from their legal staff explaining how the wording in Bill 7 will assure farmers that they will not face a charter challenge over their exemption. It's a simple thing to do. It would clarify much for the farm community and give farm leaders some dependable facts that they have been missing in the rhetoric over this very serious issue.

Or instead, perhaps the government would prefer to go to court on behalf of this legislation and the farm community in order to defend the exemption.

A few days ago in this House, we had three separate ministers stand up to make statements on Bill 7. Even the Minister of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs stood up to show how he was doing his part. But if the minister had really been doing his job, he would have taken to the farm leaders and made sure that there was an indisputable legal opinion on charter issues instead of just making a superficial statement about legislation that wasn't even under his ministry's jurisdiction.

It has been a great pleasure for me to participate in this debate, which is so important to the future of agriculture. Coming from Essex-Kent, where our two counties combined have an annual farm gate value of nearly $475 million, agriculture is very serious business in the counties of Essex-Kent because of the unmatched diversity in my riding, which includes grains, oilseeds, poultry, dairy, meat, greenhouse, horticulture, and fruit and vegetable production. Almost every agricultural policy in this country affects that riding, Essex-Kent. As my federal colleague Jerry Pickard, the member for Essex-Kent, likes to say, if it doesn't grow in my riding, it doesn't grow in Canada.

So I beg the members' indulgence in bringing so many concerns into this debate, but all of these issues are impacted by this bill and by the manner in which this government charts its course without interest in real consultation with the farm community.

Finally, I would leave you with an observation from a newly elected member of provincial Parliament, an observation from my three short weeks here. Naturally, I'll have to do it with a rural comparison, but here goes: You can lead a horse to water but you can't make him drink. My observation here has been: You can put a Tory into cabinet but you can't make him think.

Mr Phillips: Just to continue the debate, just in case anyone out there is wondering what we're debating, it's a bill called Bill 7, which is a very major revision to something called the Ontario Labour Relations Act. This is the act that governs all of our collective bargaining here in the province of Ontario, and it's extremely important. It's extremely important to every working person in the province; it's extremely important to every business in the province; it's extremely important to Ontario's economy.

I'd like to raise two or three issues. One is on process. I would just say that the process we're going to follow here will mean we have virtually no opportunity for public input into this bill. What will happen is that in eight weeks, this bill, if the government has its way, will become law. I think that's the government's agenda. It wants to force through the most sweeping changes -- this is more sweeping, actually, than the NDP brought forward in what was called Bill 40, and we will have virtually no opportunity for public input.

I would say to the working community that this bill will impact you. You may not have heard of the bill, but in eight weeks it will be the law of the land. In the middle of December, perhaps not even eight weeks from now, it will be the law of the land, before you've even perhaps had an opportunity to become --


Mr Phillips: I would say to you that we made this mistake. I'm a Liberal. We got elected with a large majority, and we thought just because we had a large majority, we knew everything that was right for the province of Ontario. And we did not give people an opportunity for input; we did not give people an opportunity to have a say on something that is going to fundamentally affect their lives.

The labour movement out there right now may think they have a lot of time to comment on the bill and to come to committee, but I will say that this bill will go to committee for a very few number of days. The committee will meet for perhaps three or four hours a day, for perhaps six days or seven days. There will be virtually no opportunity for public input.

Normally, the process we follow in this Legislature with major legislation is that when the Legislature is not sitting, the affected committee meets and invites representation to come and express their views on the bill. That's not going to happen in this case. So we're going to find, as I say, the most significant change in labour relations in the history of the province all implemented in a matter of weeks.

I have many friends in the labour community; I have many friends in the employer community. I had one major labour lawyer representing management say to me: "I'm thrilled with the bill. I never thought I'd live to see the day when I got virtually everything I wanted in a bill." There's no question this is a major victory for the business community, no question at all about that.


But I would say to all of us that when you win big you run the risk of losing big, and anybody who's been involved in collective bargaining knows this. If one side or another wins big at one stage you are setting yourself up to lose big at another stage, and this bill is a huge loss for the labour community; it's a huge win for the business community. There's no doubt of that.

I would say to all of you, you can ram the bill through. We can do what we can to encourage a broader debate, we can do what we can to encourage public hearings, but in the end you've got the right, not the right but the tools, to ram this through. I will say to you that before this House adjourns in December, unfortunately this bill will be the law of the land. I say "unfortunately" because clearly many people in the labour community are going to be extremely upset about it. This fundamentally affects their lives. It fundamentally affects things they've fought for for their whole careers, and some of it's not right.

I would also say that you're going to start to find from some of the business community that they've got some real reservations about this bill and they will have very little time to input into the bill. I'm sure you're getting letters from some people in the business community, as I am, one letter here suggesting that there's the need for some major revisions in the bill, saying:

"The ramifications of this are particularly negative for government because, among other things, it will likely drop many people with low employment skills into the unemployment insurance ranks and eventually on to welfare ranks. In net, the current wording in Bill 7 would create a huge and unnecessary churn of people in their jobs with no benefit to anyone."

Now that's a very responsible businessperson. He is president of a very large company. But there are literally dozens of large companies similarly affected by it. Yet I assure you that as you rush ahead with this bill -- and make no mistake, we are rushing ahead with the bill. I know the reason for it. You figure if some time goes by and the employee community has a chance to mobilize, it's going to make it fairly uncomfortable for you. But that's the price, often, of democracy. I realize you may not want to face that. You may not want to face that; you may want to just push it through, and you can and you will, but it's going to be a mistake.

Mr Cooke: This goes way beyond Bill 40. That was not your promise.

Mr Phillips: The member said it goes -- it does; it goes way beyond Bill 40. If you don't realize that -- I objected to Bill 40, as members will know. I felt that when you looked at Bill 40 the labour community essentially had a fairly big win. I looked at the provisions of Bill 40, which essentially were very strongly pro-labour. The problem we run into now is this bill not only goes back to where we were before Bill 40, it goes well beyond. That's why, as I said, one of my friends in the labour law community who represents management said to me, "Listen, I never dreamed that we could get a bill as favourable to management as this particular bill is."

Mr Baird: Mrs McLeod says she was in favour.

Mr Phillips: The member for Nepean is barracking over there, but I will say to him that yes, you've got the numbers, yes, you can force this bill through and yes, you will. I would say to you that you are sowing the seeds of problems in the province of Ontario in the relationship between our employee and our employer communities. Make no mistake about that.

In addition to that, there are provisions in this bill that are clearly wrong. The business community needs an opportunity to review this bill. The business community needs an opportunity for public hearings on this.

Mr Baird: Let's construct the committee.

Mr Phillips: The member says, "Let's construct the committee." I just went through that with the member for Nepean, who could not have been listening. I said: "Listen, we are going to have committees here. While the Legislature is sitting we will have a maximum of 20 hours of committee work with virtually no opportunity for any public input in this."

This is becoming a trademark. For the first time in the history of the province of Ontario, Ontario will not have a budget this year. From the day Ontario became a province we've had a budget every single year. This is the first time in the history of the province we've not had a budget.

You can say: "Well, we came in in June. We couldn't possibly have a budget." There was a government elected exactly the same time as you in 1985 that was sworn in in June on the exact same day you were and presented a budget in October. The fact is, you don't want to present a budget. The fact is, you want to avoid any debate on it. The fact is that you want to avoid having the people of Ontario understand how you're managing the finances. The reason is --

Hon Mr Villeneuve: It was a budget that was blowing money away, out the doors and windows. I wouldn't be too proud of that one, Gerry.

Mr Phillips: I'm sorry, Mr Speaker. The reason I think now is becoming clear why they want to avoid a budget. I look at the Common Sense Revolution. What's happening out there right now is that there is a war on spending. We understand that.

The first casualties of the war are people on social assistance. We're asking them to take a 20% cut on their social assistance. We understand that. The second one, the second war, will be with our municipalities. We are going to cut, in a few weeks, the transfers to them. We've cut halfway houses. All of our community and social service agencies have been cut, cut, cut. Why? Because the Premier says we have a war on the deficit. He's saying that we spend nearly $9 billion in interest charges, we have to spend $1 million an hour on interest, that we have to borrow our money offshore. It is true. All of that is true.

But what is happening? What is the other part of the Common Sense Revolution? You look at it here.

Mr John Gerretsen (Kingston and The Islands): Tax cut.

Mr Phillips: Yes, we understand cut. Cut $3.9 billion; cut $5.7 billion; cut $6 billion.

Hon Mr Villeneuve: Economics 101, diminishing returns.

The Acting Speaker (Mr Gilles E. Morin): Order, Minister.

Mr Phillips: But what also happens? While we're asking people to fight a war on expenditures, there are some people who are able to avoid the war. I call them draft dodgers. They're not going to fight the war on the deficit. As a matter of fact, if you earn $150,000 in this province, you're going to get a tax break of $5,000 from the government. So we find while we're asking all of these people, the most vulnerable people in many respects in our society, to cut, cut, cut, there are some draft dodgers, some people out there who aren't participating in the war and they're going to get a huge tax break.

It's right there: Cut $6 billion, give a $5-billion tax break. Every penny of that tax break, $20 billion over the next five years, has to be borrowed money. We are going to pay $5 billion a year more in interest to pay for that tax break. So what is it? Is it a war against the deficit that we all should be fighting, or is it a war against the deficit that we have to fight in order to give somebody else -- and who else is it? It is our best-off people in society -- a very major tax break.

Yes, it got you elected. I know that. It was a very attractive part of your platform: "We're going to give you a 30% tax break." In fact, it's a very attractive part of your platform for particularly many of the constituents that you represent. But what it means is we are going to spend five years grinding people, five years with this war against the deficit. Unfortunately, the people who are fighting the war are our most vulnerable. There are, as I say, some people who are sitting this war out and they are going to get a $5,000 tax break.

I honestly don't think that makes sense. If the Premier is saying that we have to go and borrow this money from foreigners -- that's his term -- assuming we could find someone in the world to lend us the $20 billion a year -- and by the way, the day you came in, the debt of this province was $90 billion. You have promised to take it up by $30 billion. The years that you're there --

Mr Baird: How much did you promise?

Mr Phillips: The member is barracking over there. No one's managed the finances perfectly in this province, but the fact is that the Conservatives, the last time they happened to have their finger in the pie, took taxes up more than any previous government, took spending up more than anybody's budget, took the deficit and the debt up faster than the next government. The point of all of that is this: Does it make sense to any of you to borrow $20 billion, to spend $5 billion in extra interest?



The Acting Speaker: Order.

Mr Phillips: Thank you, Mr Speaker.

The reason I raise all of that is that I raise the point about the way this government is operating: It is a way to avoid debate.


The Acting Speaker: Order. There's a period after this debate for questions and comments. Please, just reserve them. Ask them at that time.

Mr Phillips: The reason I raised all of that was that I was talking about the process we're following here and saying that in the most major -- this bill's 132 pages long. It's a huge bill that will touch every workplace in the province. And yet it is going to go through by Christmas. By the middle of December, this bill would become law, with virtually no debate, and I've said this is becoming a pattern with the government.

No budget: the first time in the history of the province that Ontario has no budget. I was saying, why would it be that we don't have a budget? Why would we not have something here in the Legislature that we in the opposition have an opportunity to debate?

The government presents the budget. There's then a chance where we can respond to that. The budget can then be debated at committee. But, no, for the first time in the history, we won't have that.

Why? I don't know why. I think the public reason is, "Well, we simply don't have time for that." But I would say, what is more important than getting public approval for spending?

Mr Speaker, you are a historian. You understand that getting the duly elected body approving public spending is absolutely fundamental, but we're not going to have a chance to do that, for the first time in our history.

I submit one of the reasons is that, yes, we have to fight the deficit. There is not one person in this province who doesn't believe it is a major problem. There's not one person in the Liberal Party who doesn't believe it's a major problem. I don't think there's one person in this Legislature who doesn't believe it's a major problem.

But we do wonder, if it is the single biggest issue, can we also afford to cut taxes by $5 billion a year? That's 10% of our revenue. Essentially, as I've said before, it's like a bankrupt company -- and I use the analogy because the Premier himself has said the province is bankrupt -- declaring a huge dividend every year. It doesn't make sense to me.

Similarly, there's a pattern we're following in dealing with this bill, where we will have very little debate. I submit to you that while you think this will all be behind you in the middle of December because you'll pass the bill, my experience is that when you pass a bill that affects people so directly and they've not had an opportunity to participate in that, you sow the seeds of a problem.

I also wanted to speak about the content of the bill. Ontario historically has had very good labour relations, with relatively few exceptions. There's been I think a good balance struck between the employers and the employees, and the proof of that is that Ontario, for a variety of reasons, but one of them has to be the climate, has been the strongest economy in Canada by far.

We at one time had the lowest unemployment rates in the country by far, as we all remember. We don't any more, by the way. All the western provinces have substantially lower unemployment rates now than Ontario does. But we had good labour relations. We had the major automotive companies choosing to invest heavily in Ontario. Why? Well, for a variety of reasons, I think: a very talented labour force, a good location. But it has to also be that there was a climate of good labour relations.

Anybody who's looked at the history of days lost to work stoppages and all of those things would say we've had, historically, a good climate of labour relations. In my opinion, Bill 40 tipped the balance. It needed to have revisions, and we, contrary to what someone across the Legislature said earlier, ran on a platform of change in Bill 40. We were very clear about that.

Mr Gerretsen: That's right. It's right in the red book.

Mr Phillips: It's right in the red book. There was no question that bill had to be revised and changed -- absolutely -- but it had to be revised and changed in a balanced way. The Conservative Party got lots of votes by saying, "We're going to scrap Bill 40." We were at a disadvantage with the electorate, because that sounded nice and simple, but when we looked at it, it isn't that simple. There is a balance in labour relations that has to be struck, and you've gone too far with this bill.

Go through this bill, 132 pages, and run through the advantages for the working people of this province in it. It is a strong pro-management document. I know you will argue that this is going to attract lots of investment to the province, but I would argue that what is more likely to attract investment in the long term is a balanced approach to labour relations, where people believe that our labour community and our management community can work together.

As I say, I know you want to get this bill passed quickly because you think there will be calm. My fear is that you're trying to win big here, and when you win big you rub some people's noses in it and you make life very difficult for the employee community.

I'm afraid you'll have a victory in the middle of December and then for many, many, many years ahead we're going to see the problems created by this particular bill.

I would have hoped that the government might have taken the time to ensure that it was a balanced bill, might have taken the time to ensure that all of us, including the employer community, had adequate time to participate in it. That's not the case, and that, unfortunately, is too bad for this Legislature.

The Acting Speaker: Questions or comments?

Mr David Christopherson (Hamilton Centre): Having listened now to the members for Scarborough-Agincourt and Essex-Kent, I would ask the Tory members of the House and the public to join me in showing a high degree of compassion and pity for the situation that our colleagues in the Liberal Party find themselves in around both Bill 40 and Bill 7. Here's a party that, during the last Legislature, joined behind the Tories, because the Tories were leading the fight -- give them their due. They fought against it and the Libs kind of slid in behind there trying to get as much "Me too, me too" as they could. In fact, their whole red book is pretty much a pretty light shadow of the Common Sense Revolution, which --


Mr Christopherson: You might not like the next sentence -- which, by the end of this term, I predict, they'll be distancing themselves from as it becomes more and more unpopular.

But that's for another day.

The fact is, the Liberals are showing their truest colours on this bill right here, because they're trying to be all things to all people, and in doing so they do nothing for anyone. No one -- no one -- is conned into believing that the Liberals stand up and represent workers in Ontario, and obviously the business community isn't exactly enthralled with their ideological approach or lack thereof, or they would have had the kind of support in the business community that clearly the Tories had.

So I call on colleagues to recognize the poor dance of the Liberals and show some compassion as they try to bob and weave their way yet again through another very difficult situation and at the end of the day go off into that abyss, never to be heard from again.


Mr Marcel Beaubien (Lambton): After listening to the second-last speaker, I finally realize why two plus two is now five.

I would like to share a letter I received from one of my constituents this past week:

"When the NDP brought out Bill 40, we believed the whole intent of it was so unions could increase their membership, which they were losing due to reduced employment and the state of the economy. We completely disagreed with the successor rights of the bill, which forced companies to hire the previous employer's employees, especially in instances where the customer was dissatisfied with the services being performed.

"Now that the obligation on the new contractor to offer employment is changed, we find ourselves in a predicament. Prior to this, we could not pick up work due to the fact that we had to charge union rates, which placed us approximately 20% to 30% higher than our competition. Now, after the change, we find our customers tendering and leaving us unable to compete with non-union companies.

"The information or assistance we are seeking is, how do we get out of this union agreement before we lose our business completely?"

Bill 7 will introduce the right to work in the workforce again, as opposed to the right to a union.

I would also point out that Mr Hargrove was quoted in the Toronto Star on October 23. "Hargrove, who has called for anarchy in the workplace" -- is that being a responsible Canadian, I ask -- "said his union will not stand idly by while a `bunch of right-wing, conservative idealogues' tear apart what workers struggled to achieve over a half-century."

However, Mr Pomeroy, the president of the Communications, Energy and Paperworkers union, said he didn't think the CAW's fight on the shop floor was a productive strategy.

Mr Gerretsen: First of all, I'd like to congratulate my colleagues the members for Essex-Kent and Scarborough-Agincourt for the excellent presentations they gave.

In the last couple of minutes, we've just been given an indication of what exactly is wrong in the Legislature, in the way our friends both on the left and on the right perceive this. The problem with Bill 40 was that it was all pro-union, and the problem with this Bill 7 is that it's all pro-management. There are a whole bunch of other people out there, you know, who somehow feel that the real, true way to go on this legislation is somewhere down the middle.

You can scorn it, you can do all sorts of things with it, but in the long run, that notion of the general public will prevail, and time will bear me and us out in that.

We've heard from the government side on a number of occasions now that their Common Sense Revolution said they would revoke Bill 40, and I agree that that's what your document said. Well, why don't you revoke Bill 40 and leave it at that? Why did you bring all this other stuff into it as well?

I'm particularly thinking about those sections that deal with public sector rights and privatization. It's very interesting. Nobody has said anything about that yet, at least not to my knowledge, in this House.

Hon Mr Villeneuve: It's already been said.

Mr Gerretsen: Just a minute now. There are public sector employees out there who are really concerned about what the future will bring for them. There are 90,000 people out there whose morale is probably at the lowest point it can possibly be, all of whom are productive in our society, all of whom basically carry out the wishes of the Legislature and the wishes of the government. Let's consider them as well. They were not in Bill 40, but they certainly are included in this bill.

Hon Mr Villeneuve: Mr Speaker, it's great to see you back in the Chair.

To comment on the remarks of my critic the member for Essex-Kent and my colleague from Scarborough-Agincourt, it's funny, but my colleague from Essex-Kent is pretty mild in his support of the repeal of Bill 91, and Bill 40 of course they're retaining support for, in spite of the fact that we know shortline railways may never open again because of successor rights and what that does to the farming community. My colleague chose to stay away from that, and I understand that.

The "notwithstanding" clause -- very interesting. It's never been used in Ontario, ever, ever, yet it was suggested today. I looked at it because I thought, "On Bill 91, we want to make sure we do have an exemption for labour." We were accused of not getting legal advice. I think we got some pretty good legal advice, and we were advised by a pretty good team of lawyers that the "notwithstanding" clause was a last resort. We are taking their advice in order to make sure that agriculture is exempt from the labour laws that are coming in under Bill 7.

Fair share health tax: The member for Scarborough-Agincourt chose to not talk about that, but effectively it applies to people who will make $50,000 or more, and those who are at the $150,000 bracket will be paying a good share of that fair share health tax. You know, there was a 1.95% health tax brought in by the Peterson government that applied to business. "Let business pay": That's the Liberal approach, and it sent jobs all over the place.

The member for Scarborough-Agincourt mentioned that all other provinces have got an increasing labour force and Ontario doesn't. Look at what the Liberals did; you'll find the reason.

The Acting Speaker: The member for Scarborough-Agincourt, you have two minutes to reply.

Mr Phillips: There are two or three points, just to respond to the member for Hamilton Centre's tirade. The fact is that I make no apologies about being balanced. One of the problems we've run into, with all due respect to the NDP government, is that it was not seen as balanced. You saw the results of the poll, and the poll results gave you the answer that the people of Ontario do not want your type of government.

Now, the Conservatives happen to have won the election on what I regard as a platform of very small-c conservative, not what some would regard as right-wing. I don't share your view of Ontario, I have a different view from yours of Ontario, and we'll see over the next few years whose view is right or wrong. But I make no apologies, as a Liberal, of being seen to be and being in fact balanced and in the centre.

There's nothing more balanced than labour relations, where both sides on labour relations have to have a voice. There's no doubt that on Bill 40 labour spoke, and it was in that bill. You made a mistake on Bill 40, there is no doubt of that. One of the reasons you were defeated, one of the reasons why the business community and others were so angry, is that you made a big mistake on Bill 40.

Bill 7, in my judgement, is an equal mistake in the other direction. Time will tell. As I say, I make no apologies for being balanced and in the centre.

On the job front, when the Liberals came into power in 1985, the unemployment rate was 10%. That was from the Conservatives: 10%. When the Liberals were defeated, it was 5%, the lowest in the country. I make no apologies. When the Liberals were in power, there were jobs, jobs, jobs.

The Acting Speaker: Further debate?

Mr Christopherson: First of all, I want, as I have on almost every occasion that I've had an opportunity to speak to this bill, to again call on the government to hold province-wide, public hearings on Bill 7. This is an incredibly complex and I would suggest draconian document running some 132 pages that I think the people of Ontario are entitled to debate and have input on. I know the government claims that by virtue of their electoral mandate, regarding Bill 40 they've had the public discussion and therefore have the right to proceed.

The difficulty that I believe most reasonable-minded people would find is that indeed Bill 7 goes far beyond Bill 40. In fact, it changes in very fundamental ways some of the cornerstones of labour relations in the province of Ontario for decades, under all three parties. And yet this government, that says it wants to have an open government, is not going to allow the people of Ontario to have an opportunity in their communities, which is where we suggest the truth lies in terms of the impact of Bill 40 and what it's meant, and we will continue using every means available -- and they aren't an awful lot from the third party, but there are tools available, and we will continue to make the point and make the case that the people of Ontario are entitled to have input before you dramatically change the labour law of this province.


I would also again point out, as I did earlier in members' statements, the number of letters, joint letters, that are coming in from unions -- in particular, the CAW, and corporations, speaking to the fact that the era of unprecedented labour peace has been a factor in the record level of investment that we've had in the province of Ontario since Bill 40, and the message that it sends out to the international investment community.

I hear some of the government backbenchers barking out about the fact that it's blackmail, that they've done this with a gun to their head, and I want to comment very directly on that and I want to say two things: First of all, I don't happen to believe that is the case, because the fact of the matter is that there have been record levels of investment made under Bill 40. That's the truth, not the stories that the previous Tory caucus talked about in terms of half a million jobs lost. There's no proof. The proof is on our side in terms of defending the positive aspects of Bill 40. I believe that's what's reflected in these letters.

However, if in one or two cases that is the case, then I would suggest that it proves the point, and the point is that Ontario benefits when there are positive relationships between employers and employees, and the introduction of Bill 7 is going to disrupt labour relations in this province big time. Big-time disruption. So even if there are some where the corporations weren't necessarily thrilled to sign the letter, it makes the point: They are indeed worried about the impact on their business, on continuing investment, on continued job growth, on profits -- which are important -- because they are facing a labour movement that is having the boot put to it by this government.

While you sit there and smirk about it and think that it's funny, the fact of the matter is that that unprecedented era of labour peace we've had in Ontario that has been of benefit to us, whether you think it's a lot or a little, is going to change. It's going to change because this government went way beyond what they said they were going to do. They refused to let anybody have any input and in fact, every measure you've taken so far in government has clearly been anti-worker. Not just anti-union, although that's there writ large, but it's anti-worker.

All one has to do is listen to the cuts to WCB, the cancellation of the workplace health and safety agency, the gutting of the Ministry of Labour that's coming, the cancellation of the Royal Commission on Workers' Compensation. None of those things help workers, and workers know that. They may not understand every clause in here. Who does, if you're not a lawyer? That's what lawyers are for. But they sure understand when somebody is attacking them and taking away something, and that's what you're doing. And you do it under the guise of balance and mandate and a continuation of the rhetoric from your debate on Bill 40, because there's no proof.

If I'm wrong, then let's go out into the province and talk to the communities. What are you afraid of? Take this bill out there. There were five weeks of public hearings on Bill 40, in addition to the consultations of the minister etc. The legislative committee went out into the province for five weeks and out into the communities because we thought that was important. Why won't you do it? I don't believe that the average person will accept the fact that you already did that in the election.

As I mentioned before, now-Premier Harris stood up on the day the Bill 40 was passed and tabled a one-page document that rescinded Bill 40, and that represented his position. Look what we've got from the Tory government. Look what's here: wiping out decades of positive labour relations in this province, and you won't even let the people have their say. It's because you know -- and maybe you don't, some of you in the government backbenches; I know how difficult it is in the early days to get information; all that will change; it's great fun watching how these things evolve -- but the fact of the matter is that the cabinet ministers know that the truth will hurt you.

The truth will put fundamental cracks in the foundation of your arguments around Bill 7 and that's why you're afraid to go out and talk to the people: because you can't afford to face that truth.

I want to now move to another issue. I won't take too much time with this one. The Minister of Labour, in her comments, felt that she had an ace up her sleeve when she read and quoted from an editorial in my home-town paper, the Hamilton Spectator, because she thought that would embarrass me. That's fair enough. We play for keeps around here. But I would like to return the favour.

The Kitchener-Waterloo Record of October 10 of this year, which is of course the Minister of Labour's home-town newspaper --

Mr Floyd Laughren (Nickel Belt): No.

Mr Christopherson: The member for Nickel Belt says, "No," but it's true. There's something here and I think in fairness everybody should hear at least a part of this. The opening paragraph is, "The Harris government would do well to use caution in its plan for the wholesale dismantling of labour laws enacted by the former NDP government." Well, well, well.

It goes on to say: "The proposed changes are intended to bring Ontario back to pre-NDP days and they are clearly ideologically driven. The bill's patently political title, An Act to restore balance and stability to labour relations and promote economic prosperity, tells us that."

This is the editorial speaking now: "Some of Ontario's largest employers have expressed concerns about the legislation. Chrysler Canada wrote to the Premier asking for a meeting before the legislation proceeded. McDonnell Douglas has now joined the auto maker, pleading for a careful approach to labour reform. That's because labour relations have worked rather well these past few years. The province has enjoyed labour peace, with a minimum of strikes since the NDP's Bill 40 went into effect in January 1993."

I say to my honourable colleague the Minister of Labour, people who live in glass houses shouldn't throw stones.

Moving on, I want to talk to some of the substantive parts of Bill 7, although Lord knows there could never be enough debate to cover all of it, given the size and dimension of the legislation that you're proposing. I keep holding it up because indeed it is probably one of the largest pieces of legislation that we've seen in this place in a long, long time, which adds further testimony to the fact that you're taking us back decades in labour relations.


But let's look at the purpose clause. The current law provides that one purpose is "to provide for effective, fair and expeditious methods of dispute resolution." Sounds reasonable. Bill 7 changes that, though. There's obviously some deep-rooted evil in "effective, fair," because it is eliminated from Bill 7. We don't have "effective" and "fair." What happened to "effective" and "fair"? What is so evil about a purpose clause saying that you're going "to provide for effective, fair and expeditious methods of dispute resolution"?

Interjection: That's a drafting error.

Mr Duncan: A drafting error.

Mr Christopherson: No, no. "That's a drafting error," my friends beside me say. That is entirely possible. All the more reason why it would pay you to get out there and debate this bill in the communities. But it really does make one wonder when the government stands up and --


Mr Christopherson: Here we go again. See, this is where the cracks are going to show, folks, and this is why you're afraid to go out in the province.

The fact is that there weren't the mammoth job losses that you said there'd be; there wasn't the disaster you said there would be. None of that is true. Yet when we start to look at what's really in Bill 7, we find out that you take out "effective" and "fair." What is it about those two words that gives the Harris government so much difficulty?

I'm not hearing anything from the government benches. You're usually very quick to respond when you're given an opportunity. It's because you can't defend it. In fact, you can't defend most of this bill. It's built on untruths. It's built on rhetoric. That's why we want to get out in the province and talk to the people. And we're only at the purpose clause.

Let's move on. So much to cover and so little time. The wage protection program. This government --

Hon Charles Harnick (Attorney General, minister responsible for native affairs): Why don't you talk about democracy in the workplace?

Mr Christopherson: The Attorney General heckles me from across the way, saying, "Let's talk about workplace democracy." That's part 2. I don't have time today, but we're going to get to workplace democracy, because there's nothing more hideous than the idea that Tories would tell workers what workplace democracy is all about.

Let's talk about the wage protection program. This is a program that is not geared to unions and unionized workers only; this is a program, a benefit, a right, a protection, for all workers in the province of Ontario. Basically, it says that if a corporation or an office closes or goes bankrupt or relocates -- and I would argue a lot of that's happened because of the free trade agreements that we've seen. However, that's another debate.

Here's a program that said to workers, "For too long now, if a corporation goes bankrupt and they owed you wages and vacation and termination and severance pay, you lose them." This program said: "We're going to change that. We're going to give workers the right to protection for wages that they've earned."

I would have thought that most of the Tories wouldn't have had problems with that. It seems to me that's like a key work-ethic-type issue that you ought to be very comfortable with. But instead, after you give us your patronizing speech about the debt and deficit and how it's okay to take money away from poor people because the deficit and debt and your 30% tax cut, to be precise, are more important, you've taken away some of the rights and protection that workers had here.

How does that equate? How is it fair that you're going to give back a 30% tax cut and you say it's okay to take away the termination pay and the severance pay and limit the amount of wages that workers can recover when, through no fault of their own, their job is gone? How do you equate that?

You don't. You don't equate that. It speaks very directly to the mean-spirited, anti-worker agenda, and I'm not going to back away from those rather harsh words, because that's the truth and that's the reality. If you had the guts to go out in the province of Ontario and talk to the communities you'd find that out.

So you now have said, with this legislation, that if you're owed severance pay -- contracts, remember? You guys like contracts: a contract with America, a contract with Ontario. You have a contract with an employer and you work and you're entitled to those wages because they're two or three weeks behind because the company is quickly slipping into bankruptcy. You've now said that having protection of up to $5,000 is too generous. Workers shouldn't have that much protection. I don't know why else you would do it, except of course you have to pay for your tax cut, but you said: "Five thousand's too generous. Workers shouldn't have that much protection. They should only have $2,000 protection."

In the case of severance pay and termination you've said, "We can't afford it as a province." That's the answer. You've said, "We can't afford it." Go tell that to the worker who lost his job, who still has to make mortgage payments, who still has to put clothes on the backs of his kids. You go tell them that it's okay to take away what they're owed because we can't afford it collectively.

Yet we know that if you're making $150,000 in this province, not only have you not been touched but you're going to get a nice big, fat tax cut. Isn't that great? Isn't that great, unless you're that worker who's had a right taken away. You cannot defend that on any ground that I can think of; ideologically or otherwise you cannot. It stands side by side with what you did to disabled workers who were injured on the job when you said, "We as a province can't afford to give you the benefits you were receiving even though you were hurt on the job and it's no fault of your own because we've got a deficit problem, we've got to give a big tax cut to our wealthy friends, so we're going to cut your benefits." This stands side by side. It has the same impact on workers, it's generated from the same agenda and it'll have the same result, and the result is an Ontario with legislation that is anti-worker.

I want to begin my comments on replacement workers and I would seek guidance from the Speaker in terms of whether he wants me to do that or -- we're a couple of minutes from adjourning the House; I'm in your hands, Speaker.

The Speaker: It's almost 6 of the clock. This House stands adjourned until tomorrow at 1:30 of the clock.

The House adjourned at 1759.