36th Parliament, 1st Session

L018 - Mon 30 Oct 1995 / Lun 30 Oct 1995



















































The House met at 1331.




M. Bernard Grandmaître (Ottawa-Est) : Dans quelques heures, il est fort probable que nous connaîtrons la réponse des Québécois à la question des séparatistes.

Cette dernière semaine en particulier, la population ontarienne vit des moments d'angoisse assez intenses en raison du référendum québécois. Elle est optimiste comme je le suis, mais elle entrevoit une possibilité que le peuple de la province où se trouve la population francophone la plus importante en nombre se dissocie du reste du Canada.

Une des plus importantes craintes est de faire partie des principales victimes d'une situation qu'elle ne désirait pas. Elle craint que la majorité oublie qu'elle a des droits historiques en Ontario. Elle craint qu'on oublie que les francophones au cours des siècles ont joué un rôle important dans la construction de ce chef-d'oeuvre de province.

Lorsque les Libéraux ont rédigé la Loi sur les services en français, ils ont pris bien soin de mentionner dans le préambule que le gouvernement reconnaissait la contribution historique des Franco-Ontariens et Franco-Ontariennes. Cette loi a été adoptée à l'unanimité.

Il est temps pour nous tous, mais pour le gouvernement d'abord et avant tout, de réaffirmer notre attachement à la population francophone de l'Ontario et de lui dire, «Quoi qu'il arrive, nous serons toujours des partenaires et des amis.»


Ms Marilyn Churley (Riverdale): Today I'm releasing an open letter to the Minister of Environment and Energy about her plans to reintroduce municipal solid waste incineration to Ontario.

While there are many reasons to oppose the burning of waste, there is one primary reason why New Democrats continue to support the current ban: Incineration poses an unacceptable threat to human health.

I agree that we must continue to find alternatives to dumping so-called waste into landfill sites.

Our province has taken great strides towards reducing, reusing and recycling, with the massive support of the Ontario public. Green industries have sprung up around our province, finding new uses for what we would formerly have considered garbage. We've begun to look at so-called waste as a resource. It makes good sense to continue in that direction.

Incineration, however, is a dangerous alternative to landfilling. Research shows that even the most modern incinerators release mercury, cadmium, dioxins, furans and other toxic substances into our environment, and inevitably into our food and water supply. Dioxin, which many scientists believe has no safe dose, has been shown to cause birth defects, reproductive and immune system problems and cancer.

In short, there are no good reasons to lift the ban on solid waste incineration. The minister may well be looking for easy solutions to the garbage crisis, but let me assure her that incineration is not one of them. The human health risks are simply too great.


Mr Ted Chudleigh (Halton North): My statement brings to this House great tidings of happiness for a special personal achievement in the riding of Halton North.

In a time where centenarians are the fastest-growing segment of the North American population, Milton resident Mabel Newman, born October 25, 1895, adds to this honour roll as she turned 100 years old last Wednesday.

It can certainly be said that Mabel has lived a fruitful and productive life, a testament to this being that the Newmans owned and operated a fruit farm on Mississauga Road for many years. When asked to what she attributed to her longevity, Mabel said simply that her "belief in God, taking one day at a time and feeling comfortable in" her "surroundings have contributed to a long life."

I had the pleasure of attending a birthday celebration held in Mabel's honour at the Acton Legion on Sunday afternoon with many other residents of Halton North. Not unlike other treasures that we hold dear that have survived in Canada for over 100 years, Mabel manages to smile and talk about what a wonderful life she has had.

I ask members of the Legislature to please join me in recognizing another one of our country's national treasures and congratulate Halton North's newest centenarian, Mabel Newman.


Mr Michael Gravelle (Port Arthur): Over the past few weeks I, along with my caucus colleagues, have offered grave warnings to the Minister of Transportation over irresponsible cuts to road maintenance budgets which will affect services across the province this winter.

Despite our warnings the minister continues, stubbornly, I might add, to fail to grasp the impact of these cuts on northern Ontario and the real sense of fear that has gripped the residents of my riding and across the north.

If the minister refuses to listen to our concerns, perhaps he might heed the words of other northern Ontario residents since, after all, this government has committed itself to giving a greater ear to northerners and northern issues.

To the question, is there any room to cut the highway snow removal budget, people who live in the north had this to say: "Absolutely not. The minister should take a trip by car from the Sault to Thunder Bay or Hearst to Longlac during a snowstorm to see it at first hand." Another northerner had this to say, "When the government learns how to legislate snowfalls, then maybe they can reduce snow removal budgets."

The members of the northern Ontario Liberal caucus are listening to these concerns. I am pleased to inform the members of this House that we have distributed petitions across northern Ontario inviting residents to send a clear message to this minister and this government that downgrading of winter road maintenance will not be tolerated. We encourage our constituents to sign this petition, as I urge all northerners to join us in our efforts to ensure the safety of our highways.


Ms Shelley Martel (Sudbury East): I want to make the Premier aware of an organization in Sudbury East which is a recent victim of the axe of this government.

The Valley East Youth Centre is one of the oldest supervised drop-in centres in Canada. For 12 years it has been a home away from home for thousands of area youth who otherwise might have roamed the streets or gotten into trouble with the law.

Staff provide bilingual counselling to youth, run a coordinated recreation program and help with school projects and homework. In conjunction with the Sudbury Board of Education, an alternative education program was run onsite this spring, and plans were under way to run the program again next semester. Youth Employment Service works out of the centre too, assisting hundreds of young people with résumé writing, job searches and interview techniques.

Now that the Tories have cancelled the Ministry of Community and Social Services community youth supports program, 90% of the centre's funding is gone and three and a half staff will be laid off. The ability to fund-raise, to keep the doors open, is also severely limited, as area bingos already have a five-year waiting list for new groups.

The board of directors believes that if Mike Harris would only talk to some of the youth, he would understand why the centre should be kept open, so they are inviting him to do just that when he's in Sudbury on November 24. They'd like him to come to the centre to meet since neither the board nor the staff nor the youth can afford to pay $125 to get into the dinner where Mike Harris will be at. Hopefully, the Premier can make his way to Valley East, to the more humble building many youth call their home.

I'm delivering this invitation to the Premier today and we await his positive response.



Mrs Margaret Marland (Mississauga South): Residents of Peel region have long known that the Peel Regional Police Force provides superb law enforcement services to Brampton and Mississauga. Now the rest of the world is hearing about Peel's top cops.

On October 16, the International Association of Chiefs of Police and Motorola awarded Peel Regional Police the Webber Seavey Award for Quality in Law Enforcement. This is the highest agency and department award in the world for innovative, successful law enforcement programs. Peel Regional Police was honoured for its child abuse response program, which helps children through the justice system and into treatment with minimal personal trauma.

On October 2, Peel Regional Police earned another major award. It was the only government agency in Canada to receive a Canada Award for Excellence from the National Quality Institute. The NQI award is a benchmark for excellence in business, education, health care and government.

As Peel police chief Robert Lunney said: "It is the efforts of all the individual members of the Peel Regional Police that has enabled us to achieve this recognition. The high quality of their day-to-day performance is what professionalism is all about."

On behalf of my constituents, I am thrilled to congratulate the fine women and men on the Peel Regional Police Force who protect our community and enforce our laws.


Mr Pat Hoy (Essex-Kent): I'm pleased to inform the House that on November 1, the Kent County Agricultural Hall of Fame Association will hold its seventh annual induction ceremonies. This county agricultural hall of fame is the first of its kind to recognize the achievements and service of both men and women within the realm of agriculture.

The hall of fame is located in the Kent county building in Chatham, Ontario. The support of the Kent county council is appreciated by the agricultural hall of fame and the farming community of Kent in the operation of this unique local industry.

The first Deputy Minister of Agriculture, Mr Archibald Blue of Kent county, was inducted into the hall of fame in 1989 in its first year of operation.

My congratulations go to this year's inductees: T. Howard James, Wilfred Roy, Reginald Snobelen, Paul Weber, Clarence Wilson and Stanley Wonnacott. These men have demonstrated unselfish achievements within the realm of agriculture and service to the rural community within and beyond the borders of Kent county.


Mr Floyd Laughren (Nickel Belt): I would like to draw to the members' attention an issue on which the Harris government is refusing to cooperate with Metropolitan Toronto. The government's inaction threatens the stability and integrity of our health care system and will place an added burden on taxpayers.

The government is forcing the privatization of Central Pharmacy, a pharmacy which is operated by the municipality of Metropolitan Toronto. Central Pharmacy is an integral part of Metro's community care system. The pharmacy works exclusively with the elderly, and consequently has the expertise to understand how the elderly consume drugs and is sensitive to their needs. This is important, as 20% of hospitalizations of the elderly are a consequence of misappropriate use of drugs. The pharmacy encourages low drug-utilization rates. This ensures that drug use is controlled and directed at increasing overall health.

The pharmacy's total charges to ODB have declined consistently. The pharmacy has experienced a shortfall, and all that is required from the government is a commitment to allow it to charge a dispenser fee which is slightly higher than the hospital rate but still considerably lower than for-profit pharmacies. The government's inaction translates into increased hospitalization, misappropriate use of drugs and an overall increase in the cost to the Ministry of Health.

The quick solution of privatization may be enticing, but upon closer examination reveals layers of contradictions and a serious affront to Ontario's overall system of providing adequate health care.


M. Jerry J. Ouellette (Oshawa) : Comme beaucoup d'entre nous aujourd'hui, l'histoire de ma famille sur terre d'Amérique remonte aussi loin que le deuxième bateau venu de France, en 1604 -- oui, le deuxième bateau venu de France en 1604 -- and as close as the 1920s, and also from, as most of our ridings are, the ethnically diverse community of Oshawa, the makeup of which includes Asian, British, Caribbean, French, German, Greek, Italian, Polish and of course Ukrainian, to name but a few.

We fully realize that the total sum of any whole is made up of the independent parts that give us all our individuality, and as such, the removal of any part takes away from the sum total pride of us all. Having said that, our Canada includes Quebec.



Hon Charles Harnick (Attorney General, minister responsible for native affairs): I would like to provide all members with an update on recent developments surrounding the administration of the Ontario legal aid plan.

The government's commitment to legal aid is clear: We will ensure that justice is administered and that people in need receive legal representation.

As members may be aware, the government has held extensive discussions in recent weeks with the administrator of the plan, the Law Society of Upper Canada. These talks have been designed to address the significant financial problems facing the plan. Our goal has always been to find a solution that is in the best interests of the people of Ontario.

Under the memorandum of understanding signed by the previous government in 1994 and affirmed by me just last month, the taxpayers of Ontario will provide nearly $900 million to legal services through the 1998-99 fiscal year.

So the issue is not really about money; it is about the law society's management of that money. Under the memorandum of understanding, the law society undertook to manage the plan within the guaranteed funding provided by the government. It also promised to implement the measures required to live within the funding it receives.

This government endorsed the MOU and supports the gradual reduction in costs contained within the agreement.

The law society has known since last spring that its bills would exceed the funds available for this year. The cost control measures announced to date fall considerably short of addressing the disparity between the accounts submitted by lawyers and the money available. The law society says that disparity could total more than $60 million in the current year.

The law society has not acted in a timely way to bring its costs into line. As a result, lawyers are experiencing payment delays. This is again contrary to the MOU, under which the law society agreed to manage in such a way that the plan will pay lawyers within its payment guidelines.

In addition, the law society has asked for a written guarantee which could obligate the government to provide additional funds in order to address the plan's financial difficulties. That is simply asking the taxpayers of Ontario for a blank cheque in addition to the nearly $900 million already guaranteed the plan under the memorandum. This I cannot and will not provide.

Let me be clear. The government will continue to honour its funding obligations to the legal aid plan under the memorandum of understanding. If anyone needs a written guarantee of financial support from the government, it is provided by the memorandum of understanding itself. At the same time, we fully expect the law society to honour its own commitment to manage the plan within the funding it receives.

Last month the government also initiated and urged the law society to participate in an independent review of the plan, to be conducted by Stanley Beck, the former dean of Osgoode Hall Law School. Late last week, however, the law society initiated legal proceedings to determine who is responsible for payment of any cost overrun that may be incurred by the plan.

Let me assure all members of the government's position. We will honour our funding commitments. During the period of the MOU we cannot and will not cover costs incurred by the law society beyond the amounts promised. When that memorandum runs out, we will set up a new memorandum or a new funding arrangement, and the work in progress will continue to be honoured.

Ontario already faces a provincial debt of nearly $100 billion. Like taxpayers themselves, both the government and the law society must manage within their means.

I can assure Ontarians who need legal representation that their legal aid lawyers will be paid for services rendered under the memorandum of understanding, but the way in which lawyers are paid is the responsibility of the law society, not the government.

This government expects the law society to honour its professional and statutory responsibility to provide legal aid services to those in need. The law society shares with us an obligation to ensure the smooth operation of the courts and access to justice by those in need. We need and want their input on this matter.

I will also be meeting representatives of the Canadian Bar Association -- Ontario and the Criminal Lawyers Association of Ontario to further discuss these matters.

Let me assure all honourable members that this government remains committed to a legal aid plan that is efficient and accessible, and that operates within clear budgets that taxpayers can afford.


Ms Annamarie Castrilli (Downsview): Let me begin by lamenting the way in which we receive ministers' statements. It seems to us in the opposition that, time after time, we have to wait until something like 30 seconds before we rise to receive the announcements that come from the other side. This is certainly not the way that responsible government should work, and I would encourage the government to proceed in a more timely fashion from here on.

Having said that, let me deal with the substance of the minister's statement. Minister, I am curious about why you would call this a statement; I find it to be a non-statement. This "clear commitment," as you call it, is anything but a clear commitment. In fact, I'm not sure it's even a commitment at all that your government has made.

I will remind you that the Common Sense Revolution promised to gut the legal aid plan by $130 million. Then you said you would not honour the memorandum of understanding; now you say you will honour the memorandum of understanding. Frankly, we don't know what to believe. It's very difficult to understand what it is that you're saying to lawyers and to those who need access to the system of justice.

Minister, you say this is not about money, yet your entire speech deals with nothing but money. The reality is that you are forgetting that this is about accessibility and about fairness. It's about accessibility for the weakest and the poorest in our society to a very expensive and cumbersome judicial system, which I am sure you are well acquainted with. Secondly, it's about fairness to the providers of service to that group that would otherwise be excluded from having proper representation.

Now we have a mess, a mess that's been created, in large part, by the inaction of this government, and some would say a crisis may have been precipitated by this government. You've sat on the sidelines and, rather than deal directly with the law society and the bar, you've contented yourself largely with firing salvos through the press. That, sir, is not the way to conduct proper negotiations with the law society in the aid of the poorest and the weakest.

The law society has been forced to litigation, precisely because of the uncertainty which has been created and because it has not been able to come to conclusions with you. They do not feel that it is going to be possible, in the short term, to sit down with this government and find a solution.

I find it interesting that your statement today does in fact, at least, say that you are retreating from what, in your Common Sense Revolution, was your plan to take $130 million out of the legal aid plan. That is indeed welcome and I hope you will keep that commitment. I think that is very interesting indeed.

Let me encourage you to keep your other commitment in this paper: to meet with the benchers of the law society and the criminal bar. I hope it's not just lip-service this time. I hope you and your department will engage in some very meaningful negotiations with the law society.

Ontario has a very strong need for clear language, clear direction and clear solutions with respect to legal aid. We cannot afford to victimize the poorest in our society.

Mr James J. Bradley (St Catharines): What also was not mentioned as much as it should have been in this statement was the treatment of the various legal assistance clinics around the province. People will not call this legal aid, but in fact it is aid provided to disadvantaged people in our various communities. Certainly the Niagara North Community Legal Assistance clinic has rendered an excellent service to many in our community, and it would be our hope that the minister would continue to fund that in an appropriate way.

I'm also surprised that the minister did not mention the need for a magnetic resonance imager at the St Catharines General Hospital when he was making his statement today, because everyone in the province, at least in our part of the province, knows there's a need for an MRI machine. I ask the minister to speak to the Minister of Health about that.

Mrs Marion Boyd (London Centre): I must say that our party also is pleased to hear the minister back off the promise in the Common Sense Revolution to cut $130 million out of the legal aid system, and to hear of their new commitment, after threats earlier this summer to ignore a memorandum of understanding which our government worked very hard with the law society to negotiate.

However, I think it is very clear that legal aid in Ontario is an important part of the whole aspect of access to justice, and it is extremely important that all of us in this community understand the importance of access to justice for everyone who is unable to afford representation.

One of the concerns I have about the statement the minister has made is the way in which negotiation has gone on with the various parts of the bar. The minister indicates that he wants input from lawyers and that he will seek input by meeting representatives of the Canadian Bar Association and the Criminal Lawyers Association.

I would also urge the minister to have meetings with the family bar and not to confine his meetings just to lawyers within the city of Metropolitan Toronto. The issues of access to legal aid and to legal services across the province differ greatly from community to community and they differ greatly depending upon the area of law being considered.

I would urge the minister very strongly to work with the family bar, because with the constitutional requirement for those who are accused under the Criminal Code to receive representation, very often the temptation of law societies is to cut access to legal services for those who are engaged in the family law area.

It is extremely important for us to understand that those are some of the most vulnerable in our society, people who, through no fault of their own, no decision of their own, find themselves with the full weight of the law holding in its hands their fate, and without representation it is a very serious matter. It's a serious matter for all of us because it imbalances the power in family law relationships, and the people who always lose when power is imbalanced are those who are most weak.

I would say to the minister that his commitment to continue to try and prevent a crisis situation in this area ought to be appreciated by us all, and I hope that commitment is real. The ups and downs of the last few months, the kinds of suggestions around suddenly taking over the plan and so on, have not been helpful in terms of ensuring that there is a climate in which genuine negotiation can take place.

When we were in government, we expressed similar concern around the management practices of the law society in dealing with this plan. The law society has now had over two years to look at management issues within the plan. The state of technological information, the availability of information, the comparability of information between one legal aid office and another is virtually non-existent.

It is extremely important that this plan come into the 1990s and be able to deal with the realities of information exchange and the kinds of regular controls on expenditure that one expects in a plan of this size. It is important for the ministry to be supporting and indeed leading the way in terms of that information exchange; that, as the minister is well aware, has not always been the position of the ministry itself, and I hope he will be encouraging that kind of participation.

There are many ways in which legal aid services can be offered and many changes in the legal system that can make it reasonable for us to expect lower and lower demand for legal services. I would urge the minister, in both the civil law area and in the criminal law area, to look at the reforms of the courts that have been studied over a number of years, to streamline the process, to try and encourage the law society to make decisions around its own limits on its own members in terms of earnings in the plan, in terms of the way the plan is used, as major means of controlling the costs and maintaining the MOU.




Mrs Lyn McLeod (Leader of the Opposition): My first question is for the Minister of Correctional Services. I would like to bring to the attention of the minister the grave concerns that one of his caucus members, the member for Perth, has about the potential closure of the jail in Stratford, in his riding. The Deputy Speaker, the member for Perth, has indicated publicly that he shares the anxieties and the fears of the municipal and law enforcement officials in his community.

The Stratford police chief says the closure of the jail will place further burdens on an already overburdened police force, since valued officers will have to spend their time driving prisoners to other communities. The quote from that police chief is: "We're already stretched to the limit with the number of personnel on the street during the daytime because of court security duty. The city would have to look at either reducing services or increasing personnel numbers."

I'm sure the member for Perth would have wanted the opportunity to raise this question himself but would not have been allowed to, so I ask the Minister for Correctional Services if he will assure the member for Perth that the jail in his community is not on the list of jails that you plan to close.

Hon Bob Runciman (Solicitor General and Minister of Correctional Services): The member for Perth has raised this issue with me and talked about a number of options. I'm not sure I can add anything to this issue in respect to --

Mr Bruce Crozier (Essex South): An answer would be helpful.

Hon Mr Runciman: I'll give you an answer. I've given you an answer in the past and it's not going to change; that's the point I'm trying to make.

We have not made any decisions with respect to jail closures. I indicated to your critic several weeks ago, when he expressed a concern about a jail in his riding, that I would consult with members on this side of the House and in the opposition parties with respect to the recommendations or the comments made by the Provincial Auditor back in 1993, when he expressed concern about the per diem costs of the very old jails in this province.

I'm following through on that commitment. I'm meeting with members of government and opposition this week. The Provincial Auditor, Mr Peters, will be present to discuss his report, and that will allow members to have an opportunity to provide me with feedback with respect to concerns they may have about Mr Peters's recommendations.

Mrs McLeod: Indeed the minister did, in response to a question from our critic, indicate that if at some time he was moving in this direction, he would communicate with members. He also says today that nothing has changed, but in fact something has changed. He refers to that when he says he is going to be meeting with members of this Legislature whose ridings will be affected by the closures of jails in their communities.

In fact, Minister, you have invited a total of 14 members to meetings this week to discuss the proposed closures of jails. There are 27 jails in this province. The fact that you have singled out 14 members to speak to on Thursday suggests to me that you have made decisions, that you have a short list of jails, that you have a target list, a hit list. I ask you to confirm that you do indeed have a short list of 14 jails you are proposing to close; that that is in fact the purpose of the meeting on Thursday.

Hon Mr Runciman: Well, you're damned if you do and you're damned if you don't.


The Speaker (Hon Allan K. McLean): Come to order. Order.


The Speaker: Will the members come to order, please.

Hon Mr Runciman: I indicated that I wanted to do things differently, in terms of consultation before decisions were taken. I would point out to the former government, who are making a lot of noise in this place today, that they closed a jail in Perth and they closed a jail, Camp Hillsdale, in ridings represented by then members of the opposition party, with no consultation whatsoever. The announcement was made.

I'm giving members of this House, on both sides of the Legislature, an opportunity to have input to convince me that there's merit in keeping these jails open. The 14 the Leader of the Opposition mentions are the 14 that were mentioned by the Provincial Auditor. That's the only implication in this, I say to the honourable member. Decisions have not been taken; this is not a hit list. I'm simply providing members an opportunity to have input and address the concerns of the Provincial Auditor.

Mrs McLeod: I come back to what the Minister of Correctional Services indeed told our member earlier, which is that if he decided he was moving in this direction he would communicate with the members affected. I suggest -- and I would not be critical of him for communicating -- that that is what he is doing on Thursday. He is not consulting; he is communicating about decisions that have been made.

I believe that the closure of those 14 jails could have an enormous impact on the safety of the communities in those 14 ridings: Prescott and Russell, in Cornwall, in Renfrew North, in Rainy River, in Timiskaming and Barrie and Brantford and Chatham and Lindsay, and the list goes on, because indeed we do have the 14 communities that would be affected by those decisions. And yes, I say to the member for Perth, his jail in Stratford is on the list.

We know that this minister did not consider the impact of closing the halfway houses when he slammed those doors shut and when many residents of the halfway houses were not in fact sent back to jail but were released into the communities without having served their terms because there was no room in the jails that the minister tried to return them to.

I want to know whether he has done any in-depth analysis of the impact of the closure of these 14 jails. Just a short time ago, we were hearing horror stories about people being let out on bail because of overcrowding in the jails. I want to know whether there will be even more people out on bail because our jails will be overcrowded when he takes the action of closing 14 more. Are you once again going to sacrifice the safety of communities to your cost-cutting measures?


Mr Mike Colle (Oakwood): Bracelets for everybody. No jails -- everybody is going to be on the streets with a bracelet.

The Speaker: Order.

Hon Mr Runciman: I must say the response of the opposition over the last number of days with respect to this matter begs the question of whether indeed there's anything to pursue in respect to consultation with these folks.

I'm telling you, last week I sent out a letter inviting these members to participate in a true consultative exercise. I can understand why they don't understand this, because they never engaged in it themselves, neither one of those two parties. Never -- never, never, never.


The Speaker: Order. The member for Oakwood was continuously out of order, and I won't warn him again.

Hon Mr Runciman: A day or two after I sent the letter with respect to the meetings this week, they were on the fax wires across the province to the media, to the public service employees unions. You know, when they get up and say, "Let's talk, let me have input before you make this kind of decision that impacts my community," and I say, "Yes, I want to hear what you have to say," and then the next day they're faxing out to the unions, to the media, and raising questions in this House, I want to say that I want to consult and I want to have your input, but continue along these lines and we'll have to re-evaluate that.

The Speaker: New question, the leader of the official opposition.


The Speaker: Order. Come to order.

Mrs McLeod: Mr Speaker, I assure you and the minister that I will never hesitate to ask questions affecting public safety, particularly of this minister, who shut down 25 halfway houses with no notice at all.

The Speaker: Do you have a new question?



Mrs Lyn McLeod (Leader of the Opposition): My second question is for the Minister of Culture. Minister, I'd like to go back to an issue that we tried to raise with you last week, the issue of the misguided cuts in funding that you've made to the Ontario Film Development Corp. Now, you might have thought these were just routine cuts in your list of cost-cutting directions, but in fact those are jobs that you are cutting in the province of Ontario, and that's why we raised the question.

We asked why you would cut funding to the film development corporation and you recited a list of the funding that the province provides to other cultural industries that have absolutely nothing to do with the film development corporation. It was clear that this minister had no idea of what the film development corporation does or the importance of the Ontario film investment program.

Minister, the reality is that you have abruptly cut one third of the OFDC's funding, and one of the main programs that's run by this agency is the Ontario film investment program, which provides incentives for independent film and television production in Ontario. That's what we're concerned about.

It's a successful program. For every dollar spent by the province, there are revenues of $1.23. Given that this program actually brings in much-needed revenue for Ontario -- you actually make money on this, Minister -- can you explain why you've cut the funding?

Hon Marilyn Mushinski (Minister of Citizenship, Culture and Recreation): Yes, to the Leader of the Opposition, I'm quite happy to explain why we have made this decision. We've made this decision because government spending has doubled in the last 10 years. We've made this decision because this spending crisis left by the previous government required immediate action. We've made this decision because if we had not moved to make these cuts immediately, we would be looking at a deficit of more than $10.9 billion and a future increase in the costs of servicing our debt.

Unless and until we can deal with the issue of the debt, there will be no future for the film development industry and there will be no jobs for our children and our grandchildren.

Mrs McLeod: I understand that there is one rote answer to every question we ask, but on this one the mantra simply doesn't work. Minister, you failed to hear the fact study done by an independent auditor: that for every dollar of investment this program brings into government $1.23. You don't save money by cutting it; you lose money by cutting it. On top of that, this program supports 2,000 high-value, high-skilled jobs per year. Each government investment dollar stimulates $8.30 in domestic film and TV production in Ontario, and that means jobs.

Ontario, in case your briefing note doesn't mention this, is now the third-largest production centre in North America. The impact of the industry is approaching $1 billion annually and the potential for growth is enormous. In fact, it is the one industry that produced jobs during the recession. There's a huge infrastructure that is built in this province to support the industry. It took a long time to build. We'll lose it all if you cut this program, and that is more jobs.

Minister, your slash-and-burn ideology, which makes no sense with this program, is threatening a proven job creator in the province. How could you cut funding to a proven job creator like the Ontario film investment corporation? Did you have no idea, no idea at all that this was producing jobs and that it was making money for you?

Hon Ms Mushinski: Let me say again that if this government believed in the voodoo economics of the previous government, which honestly believed that government assistance did indeed create jobs, then everybody in this province today would have two jobs.

Mrs McLeod: This is an ideological blindness that makes absolutely no sense at all. Minister, I realize that your government ideology says you don't ever put any investment into anything that creates a job, but this one works. It works financially; it creates jobs. The fact is that other provinces, like Alberta and BC, have similar programs, and if you cut the program here, we will lose those jobs to other provinces that are ready to provide the support. Since funding was frozen in July, Minister, six productions with a production value of $8 million have left the province or have been halted, and that means we've already lost hundreds of jobs.

The province has traditionally announced its funding for the OFIP program, this investment program, in the fall. That's necessary because the film industry obviously has to plan its productions in advance.

Minister, I'd suggest to you we cannot afford to lose any other productions or jobs. Will you send a signal to the film industry today by giving us your commitment that the Ontario film investment program will continue, and will you tell us what next year's funding for this program will be?

Hon Ms Mushinski: Again, let me reiterate that unless and until this government can get its own financial house in order, there will be no film development corporation for the future. We have to deal with the debt, we have to get our financial house in order so that we can get jobs back into this province. To continually rely on government spending to create those jobs hasn't worked in the past, isn't going to work in the future, and unless and until we balance our budget, in conjunction with getting our fiscal house in order, there will be no future for the film development board or any jobs for my children and my grandchildren.


Ms Frances Lankin (Beaches-Woodbine): My question is to the Minister of Finance. On October 18, the leader of our party placed a question to the Premier. The question, the gist of it, was if the Premier would tell us if he was still committed, his government was still committed, to the size and the timing of the tax break, the 30% tax break and then the 15% in the full year.

In fact, he went on at some great length to say, "Irrespective of what happens to the revenue situation, what happens to the changes in the country, is the Premier saying, regardless of what happens on the revenue side, regardless of what takes place in the economy, that that commitment's good, that he's not going to change that commitment?" And the answer from the Premier was: "The answer is quite simply yes. It's what we ran on, it's what we're committed to and it's what we will do."

The Finance minister will know in the Globe on the weekend there was an article which suggested that perhaps he had a different view of that and that he may think the effect the large income tax cut would have on the deficit could be mitigated by delaying the timing of the tax decrease. I wonder if the Minister of Finance could clarify for us today if the commitment his Premier made last week in this House is still a good one or in fact is he changing the government's position by his comments on Friday.

Hon Ernie L. Eves (Deputy Premier, Minister of Finance and Government House Leader): I indicated in my brief discussion with Mr Mittelstaedt on Friday that indeed we were committed to delivering on our tax cut, that during the first budget of our government in the first fiscal year, 1996-97, we indeed would be enunciating the first step in that tax cut; however, we had not decided yet as to the implementation date.

The honourable member will know that any time there is a budget and there is a tax increase or, which is very rare for their two governments, a tax decrease, it doesn't happen on the exact moment in time that you announce the budget.

Ms Lankin: By the minister's answers he's also admitting something that the other side refused to admit for the last three or four weeks in this House, that there's actually a connection between the loss in revenues from the tax cut and the deficit numbers you have to achieve in the budget, and we're pleased to see that.

My second question to the minister is to ask him if he would tell the House what his projected cost of the lost revenues from the fully mature implementation of his 30% income tax cut would be.

Hon Mr Eves: I would say to the honourable member, as I said to her colleague the member for Scarborough-Agincourt last week, what they fail to take into account is that reductions in provincial income tax in the province of Ontario will indeed lead to increased economic activity. More people will be working. More people will be paying taxes. That will gain financial security for the province of Ontario, not lose it.

Ms Lankin: I notice that the minister didn't answer the question, but his answer did say something to me. If in fact cutting the taxes is going to spur economic growth and going to get us back on track, why isn't he doing it earlier, rather than later, as he is suggesting? Let's get a consistent answer.


I think the reason the minister won't answer my question about the cost of the tax cut is because we've been told by Finance officials that the Common Sense Revolution estimation of $4.8 billion is in fact underestimated by about $2 billion. It is going to be between $6 billion and $7 billion.

Will the minister now be clear with us on the connection between the lost revenues from slower economic growth of about $3 billion and the lost additional money from the fully matured cost of the tax cut of about $2 billion, and confirm that this means that if he's going to meet his deficit targets, he's going to have to take an extra $5 billion in cuts to services to the people of this province?

Hon Mr Eves: The honourable member will know -- she may not know or doesn't want to hear -- that that is simply not true. Reductions in income taxes in the province of Ontario will leave more money in the hands of hardworking, taxpaying Ontarians.

I have a few quotes that the honourable member may be interested in. "Ontarians have hit a tax wall and simply can't afford to pay any more taxes."

Hon David Johnson (Chair of the Management Board of Cabinet): Who said that?

Hon Mr Eves: The MPP for Essex-Kent.

"Businesses are going to go where lower taxes are over the long term. That is what the Harris government is trying to do. It will help." University of Toronto professor Jack Carr.

"Echoing the same view" -- that tax cuts would help -- "some economists have started to argue that the recession shows just how badly tax cuts are needed to get Ontario going again." Toronto Star editorial, October 19.

Why don't you understand --

Interjection: Why don't you bring it in now?

Hon Mr Eves: Because we're not introducing a budget now. I thought we'd been through this. In our first budget, we will implement the tax cuts. Unlike the previous Treasurer, however, we will not retroactively increase taxes when we introduce a budget.


Mr David S. Cooke (Windsor-Riverside): My question is to the Minister of Community and Social Services.


Mr Cooke: We didn't want him to feel left out. On October 3, the Minister of Community and Social Services promised the House: "We are prepared to ensure that there is...flexibility in the system to make sure that everybody can earn back the difference without clawback.... I will give this House the assurance that everybody will be able to earn without clawback the difference between the old rate and the new rate."

The cuts to general welfare assistance have been made, and tomorrow, single parents receiving social assistance will see their benefits cut by 22%. They want to know, Minister, have the STEP exemptions been made? Have you made good on that promise?

Hon David H. Tsubouchi (Minister of Community and Social Services): As I explained before in the House, we have had a two-phase approach to this. The first one is we've had to address the huge problem we inherited from the previous government. The second phase is to start to give people the opportunity, once we transform the system.

The problem with the system has been that it's been one of a cycle dependency. What we are trying to do right now is convert that into one of self-sufficiency. So what I said held true. We are working on that as part of our promise to transform the system.

Mr Cooke: The minister may be receiving lessons on how to answer a question, but I can tell him, on that one, that's not how you answer it.

Tomorrow, new rates go into effect for single parents. You made a commitment in this House that there would be no clawback. Your staff told us an hour ago that there have been no changes to STEP since you made that commitment to the member from the Liberal Party on October 3.

We want to know, are you going to fulfil the promise that there will be no clawback or not? What steps have you taken to make sure that commitment and the commitment of your Premier is in place for tomorrow when the new rates go into effect for single parents?

Hon Mr Tsubouchi: I've already indicated to the House that we will give people the opportunity to earn back the difference between the old and new base rates.

Mr Speaker, I'll tell you something: The problem here once again -- and I'm sorry that the honourable member has to stand up and he's got to pretend to be so self-righteous at this point in time. We're missing the whole point again, and as the Leader of the Opposition indicated earlier on in a list -- I guess we're in a list day today, but I want to indicate something to the people of Ontario right now: In 1985, the welfare caseload went up 9.8%; in 1986, it went up 11.3%; in 1987, another 16.4%; in 1988, another 13.3%; in 1989, another 19.9%; in 1990 -- this is a great year -- 37.2%.

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

Hon Mr Tsubouchi: It gets better: in 1991, 42.5%; in 1992 -- this gets a little better -- 20.7%; in 1993 -- this is a great year -- 7.5%.

The Speaker: Wrap up your answer.

Hon Mr Tsubouchi: In 1994, because we were coming into an election, it came down to 1.7%.

The whole point of this is that the system's broken. At least this government has the courage to try to transform this system and to give people the opportunity once again to work.

Mr Cooke: The minister made a commitment to this House and to the people of the province that there would not be a clawback. You may have been taught, with your $1,200-a-day image specialist, to quote back numbers from 10 years ago, but your credibility, what's left of it -- and it's not much -- is on the line. You made a commitment to the House that there would not be clawbacks. Are you going to fulfil that commitment or were you telling a lie to this House? What is the truth? Were you lying or were you telling the truth?

Hon Mr Tsubouchi: I guess there are a couple of things that I really should address. Apparently, the member for Windsor-Riverside doesn't remember what happened last week when I indicated that this particular company has been retained by the ministry to deal with our long-term programs, to ensure a two-way dialogue to make sure that we implement workfare properly. I resent the fact that this member keeps on incorrectly, and in such an unfair manner, referring to this matter where he has clearly had an answer.

Mr Speaker, I'm going to tell you something right now: I've already answered the question the very first time the member asked the question. I want to close by saying that some might say that this is a very wise man who was quoted here: "Welfare has, for some, become a permanent source of income and a permanent way of life. That is something that needs to be changed. Welfare should not be a permanent destination. It should be a point of transition. The objective of welfare administration should be to reduce welfare rolls. Our social security system needs to be reformed."

The honourable member Bob Rae indicated that. That was his quotation. At least this government has the courage to try to change the welfare system to be responsible to the people of Ontario, the working people of this province.


Mr Dominic Agostino (Hamilton East): My question is also to the Minister of Community and Social Services. Minister, in the Common Sense Revolution -- last week in the House you have reconfirmed your commitment to carrying out a workfare program in the province of Ontario, a program that is called, I understand, Ontario Works, and is part of the guaranteed support plan that Mr John Rabeau is now working on.

You also have put a $500-million figure to workfare. Minister, can you explain to the House how you arrived at a $500-million figure and how you expect to put 494,000 people into workfare at a cost of about $1,000 per individual? How did you get to that figure of $500 million to implement workfare?

Hon David H. Tsubouchi (Minister of Community and Social Services): I welcome back the member from Hamilton East; I missed him on Thursday when he wasn't here. It was unfortunate he wasn't here on Thursday, because I answered part of the question on Thursday.


Clearly, the member for Hamilton East is very fond of telling me how to run my ministry and do my job. I think it's about time that the member for Hamilton East realized what his job is as a critic in the official opposition: It is to bring up points of interest, points that are of concern to the people of Ontario; it is not to be running amok out there in the community, creating an atmosphere of fear.

I'm going to indicate here -- this is the article in which the member for Hamilton East was quoted in the Toronto Sun. He is indicating first of all here -- and I don't know where he's getting his figures, because I believe the member for Hamilton East has never been to the land of arithmetic.

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

Hon Mr Tsubouchi: Anyway, it says here, "The province's plan to axe 13,000 civil servants means there wouldn't be anybody to administer a $1-billion scheme."

Mr David S. Cooke (Windsor-Riverside): Sit him down, Speaker. He doesn't tell the truth in the House anyway.

The Speaker: I would ask the honourable member for Windsor-Riverside if he'd mind withdrawing the word "liar."

Mr Cooke: Mr Speaker, I withdraw.

Hon Mr Tsubouchi: The member for Hamilton East is indicating there are 13,000 civil servants -- we only have 2,100 front-line people administering the welfare system, so I don't know where he gets 13,000 people from, unless he's out there to scare the community.

The Speaker: The question has been answered. Supplementary.

Mr Agostino: First of all, I'd be happy to compare my attendance in the House to the minister's. If you want to look at the number of days you have missed in the House and compare it to the number of days I've missed, I think you'll look pretty bad in there.

Secondly, the minister likes to talk about fear. The minister wants to talk about fear. Minister, you're the one who stopped people earning back what they have been cut. You're the one who signed the regulations that cut off 115,000 people, and then we pointed out, and the media pointed out, the mistake and you backtracked. You're the one who has cut 17,000 seniors and disabled from welfare benefits. Don't tell me about fear, because you're causing the real fear that is happening out there.

If you'll answer the question now, Mr Minister, the program that you're talking about -- there's a program in New Brunswick called New Brunswick Works. That program cost $59,000 per individual to implement. That is the closest formula we have in Canada to your workfare. Based on that, it would cost your government $2.9 billion to put the 494,000 people that you're going to enrol into workfare into the system; not the $500 million you talk about, but $2.9 billion.

The Speaker: Put your question, please.

Mr Agostino: Mr Minister, I ask you again, since you didn't answer the first one -- I appreciate that the consultants addressed some advice to you; they have somehow captured your imagination here, but if you can answer the question -- how did you arrive at the $500-million figure and how can you guarantee this House that you're going to put 494,000 people into workfare at $1,000 a person when the closest experience in New Brunswick is $59,000?

The Speaker: The question has been asked.

Hon Mr Tsubouchi: Unlike the tax-and-spend policies of my friend over there, we're looking for economic and cost-efficient ways in which to implement workfare. Frankly, I don't know where he's getting his ideas from; probably the same place he gets most of his ideas.

I am going to continue here for a second, because my friend over there has also said that this whole thing is absurd, that there is an enormous up-front cost, including thousands of workers -- and then of course my friend refers to me as Superman.

Quite frankly, we are going to do things in a very efficient way. It's our intention to make sure people have the opportunity to work and get them off the welfare rolls, as the prior government should have done.

But if this gentleman over here refers to me as Superman, I think he's probably Clark Kent, walking around in disguise, hoping no one recognizes who he really is.

The Speaker: New question, the member for Fort York.


The Speaker: Order. The member for Hamilton East, come to order. The member for Lawrence, order. The member for Fort York has the floor.


Mr Rosario Marchese (Fort York): My question is to the Minister of Citizenship, Culture and Recreation. Bill 79, the Employment Equity Act, requires employers to set goals and timetables, leaving employers to make reasonable efforts to achieve them. Quotas are strictly imposed and by definition they do not allow for reasonable efforts.

You call the first part of your Bill 8 "An Act to repeal job quotas." Can you, Minister, define "quotas" as they relate specifically to Bill 79?

Hon Marilyn Mushinski (Minister of Citizenship, Culture and Recreation): The honourable member's question can be answered in one word: disaster.


The Speaker (Hon Allan K. McLean): Order. The member for Lake Nipigon, you're out of order. The member for Fort York has the floor.

Mr Gilles Pouliot (Lake Nipigon): On a point of order, Mr Speaker: I understand, with respect, from my colleagues that you're addressing me?

The Speaker: Would the member take his seat, please.

Mr Marchese: It is quite apparent to me that the minister has a wonderful grasp of definition, and it's also clear to me that when you don't have an answer, you don't answer. That's what we get.

As a supplementary, the employment equity bill does not compromise the merit principle; on the contrary, it affirms it. It calls for the hiring of qualified candidates from among the designated groups. You call Bill 8 "An Act to repeal job quotas" -- which you didn't answer -- "and to restore merit-based employment practices in Ontario." Can you tell me where in Bill 79 it says we should not hire the most-qualified person?

Hon Ms Mushinski: The Employment Equity Act was based on quotas, clear and simple. It spoke to designated groups and it spoke to $50,000 fines for employers who did not hire to reflect those designated groups. If that isn't a quota system, then I don't know what is.


Mr Steve Gilchrist (Scarborough East): I'm sure I speak for all members of this House when I commend the Minister of Transportation on the announcement late last week of his important initiative on road safety. In light of certain recent events relating to a number of tragic truck accidents on our highways, however, there's one aspect of this new plan which I'd like the minister to explain in further detail.

Could the minister please tell the House how the proposed carrier rating program differs from the existing commercial vehicle operator's registration? Furthermore, can he also tell the House how it will impact on truck safety? Lastly, will this program place any additional tax burden on the citizens of Ontario?

Hon Al Palladini (Minister of Transportation): I would like to thank my honourable colleague the member for Scarborough East and share the information on how this present government is going to be working.

The existing commercial vehicle operator's registration provides a database on a carrier safety road record. All convictions, accidents and detentions are entered into this particular database. Also, a complete safety history of each commercial vehicle fleet operator is compiled.

We are going to be sharing this information by rating the carriers as satisfactory, conditional or unsatisfactory. This rating information is going to be made available to shippers and people that want to do business with these carriers. It will be an incentive for carriers to make sure that their safety record is good. In other words, this will improve safety, and I'm happy to inform this House that this program is self-funded.


Mr Gilchrist: Mr Minister, as someone with more than a passing experience in the automotive repair business, there's another aspect of your truck safety initiative that I would appreciate receiving greater detail on, namely, the air brake training program for truck drivers. How exactly will this aspect of the initiative work, and will it be mandatory for all transport truck drivers?

Hon Mr Palladini: It is a sad fact that the most common safety defect on trucks today is brakes. We feel that this brake training program will train drivers to be able to adjust their own brakes. Who is a better-qualified individual than the driver when he knows that his brakes are not functioning the way they're supposed to be? This is an 18-hour program through the Ministry of Education and this program is going to be mandatory, so every truck driver will have to take this program because that is in the best interests of road safety.


Mr Richard Patten (Ottawa Centre): My question is for the Minister of Education. As you well know, across the province parents are very concerned about the standards of education their children are receiving. Minister, you confirmed details of a report from the Education Quality and Accountability Office in an interview with the Toronto Star which was published on Saturday. You were quoted as saying that the report was "pretty good work" -- powerful quote.

On October 17, I asked you about your priorities, to which you responded: "We will be bringing forward legislation later in the year to deal with such things that are so important to the people of the province of Ontario as testing and quality in education." Therefore I ask you, Minister, will you make this report available today?

Hon John Snobelen (Minister of Education and Training): I'd like to assure the honourable member that we have had a report. As he knows, the EQAO is an advisory body at this point in time. It has submitted some advice to the ministry. We are still going through that report and we'll be making our comments public over the next couple of weeks.

Mr Patten: I'm disappointed that the minister would not share that report. We spoke to the office and they said they had indeed shared the report with you and that it would be up to you.

But in your remarks it is reported that funding for the education quality office will be dropped to $16 million, down from $25 million, as was previously announced. This is a $9-million gap and presumably the rationale for some of your comments which were reported as being supportive of across-the-board testing in only grades 3 and 11 and backing away from testing in the middle grades.

This is a pretty big gap. There are eight years in which there would be no across-the-board testing, perhaps some sample testing. Surely the minister agrees that parents will want to know the progress of their children in the eight intervening years. So my supplementary question is: Can the minister assure us and the parents that testing between grade 3 and grade 11 will not be a victim of this government's indiscriminate cuts?

Hon Mr Snobelen: I want to thank the honourable member for bringing up the subject today, because I'm quite proud of our government's efforts to bring real value to the province of Ontario, including real value in the very critical area of assessment of children in schools.

As I said earlier, I'll be reviewing the report of the EQAO now. That report does call for something in excess of $15 million per annum in spending for testing. We're reviewing that report at this time and will be making public some remarks later on.

It's important for people to note, though, that those tests and evaluations that are suggested by the EQAO are not the only tests and evaluations of school children in the province; far from it. The most important evaluation will continue to be the week-by-week, month-by-month, quarter-by-quarter testing that's done in the classroom by the teacher and those reports that go to the parents. That remains the simple, most important testing process in the province.


Mr David Christopherson (Hamilton Centre): My question is to the Minister of Labour. I have today received a letter, as you have also I believe, from the Information and Privacy Commissioner. In this letter the commissioner makes reference to sections 79 and 80 of your anti-worker Bill 7 and the effect that it would have on provincial and municipal freedom of information and protection of privacy legislation.

The commissioner says in his letter, "If the amendments are enacted as written, I believe the ability of the public to scrutinize the activities of government will be significantly compromised." Minister, what are you going to do about this?

Hon Elizabeth Witmer (Minister of Labour): We have certainly appreciated very much the meetings that we've had personally with individuals as well as the mail, in the way of letters and faxes, that we have received indicating areas in which Bill 7 needed some change or people didn't support or they were very supportive of.

Certainly this is just one other indication of a letter that we have received and we are giving very serious consideration. We appreciate the input, and I would tell you I have been particularly pleased that so many of the unions and businesses in this province have taken advantage of the opportunity to give us their best advice possible in order that we can introduce some more amendments tomorrow.

Mr Christopherson: Minister, that's an absolute insult to the very people that you've just mentioned. You talk about now wanting to listen to input and to listen to changes that ought to be made to this bill, and yet you're the same minister who is shutting down debate on this bill. As I understand it, by the end of tomorrow all discussion and input on Bill 7 is over. You've denied the public any opportunity to have input. There are no hearings, no province-wide consultations.

Minister, in addition to unions and business and others pleading with you to allow them the opportunity of input, you now have the Information and Privacy Commissioner indicating that changes need to be made. Dear God, Minister, when are you going to stop this ideological rush and give the people of Ontario an opportunity to comment on this draconian, sweeping legislation? Minister, will you admit today that you've made a mistake and that the people of Ontario are entitled to have the public hearings that would allow them to comment on this legislation before you steamroller it through?

Hon Mrs Witmer: I appreciate the concern that you're expressing, but I think it's important that we set the record straight. Last week this government asked, invited you to participate in four days of hearings, 44 hours, and you said no. Unfortunately, it's your side, it's your party which indicated that you did not want any part of public hearings. The public has nobody to blame but the NDP at the end of the day for no public hearings.



Mrs Helen Johns (Huron): I have a question for the Minister of Northern Development and Mines. The Keep Mining in Canada campaign recently met in Ontario to garner support for their cause. Their goal is to ensure that the mining industry remains a key source of jobs and prosperity for all Canadians. They have indicated that the industry has been saddled by bureaucratic regulations and inflated costs at all levels. As a result, mining investment and the jobs created by it have been leaving Ontario for at least 10 years.

How is this government planning to stop this trend and once again make the mining sector a key source of jobs and prosperity for Ontario?

Hon Chris Hodgson (Minister of Natural Resources, Northern Development and Mines): I'd like to thank the member for Huron for the question. It's very perceptive. I want to assure her and this House that this government's very concerned about this trend. We want to turn it around. We want to reiterate to the mining people from around the world that Ontario is again open for business.

Toronto still remains, as the honourable member knows, a mining capital for risk capital. The last four years, we've raised $20 billion on the Toronto market, and the sad thing is that only $6 billion of that has been invested in all of Canada.

We heard the member's concerns when we were travelling the north before the campaign, and I want to assure this House that this government is going to keep its campaign commitments. We're going to freeze all mining taxes and fees on the mining industry. There will be a five-year freeze on Ontario Hydro. There will be a 5% reduction in WCB premiums. Last week, as you are aware, I announced some streamlining of the mine rehabilitation process.

I think that with these things we're delivering on our promises to make Ontario once again a place of prosperity and hope for our children and to send out a message that we're open for business.

Mrs Johns: What effect did the recent mine rehabilitation policy changes have on environmental regulations?

Hon Mr Hodgson: I want to assure the member for Huron that the announcements last week will have no impact on the environment, that we're committed to a strong mining industry and we're also committed to a healthy environment. What we've done is we've streamlined the mine rehabilitation process, which significantly reduces the time and the amount of paperwork required on the industry but doesn't violate or change any of the environmental requirements. We're open for business and we also want a strong mining sector in our economy. And we will, I want to assure the House, protect the environment.


Mr John Gerretsen (Kingston and The Islands): My question is to the Minister of Municipal Affairs and Housing. Minister, last week you indicated to this House that it's the intention of your government to give more autonomy to municipalities, as you stated, "to make their own decisions so that they can implement the programs that they feel are most important...."

Is the minister saying that municipalities will be able to opt out of currently provincially funded programs and mandated programs such as welfare and the proper construction and maintenance of their infrastructure? This will undoubtedly happen, since you've also stated on a number of occasions that the transfer cuts to municipalities are expected to top 20% this November and probably more so next spring.

Mr Minister, are you willing to give to us a list now of the programs that municipalities will be able to cut as the result of the autonomy you're giving them and as a result of the cuts you're implementing?

Hon Al Leach (Minister of Municipal Affairs and Housing): As the member knows, the Treasurer is bringing down an economic statement at the end of November, and all of that information will be provided at that time. However, I would like to point out that it's this government's intention to give more authority to municipalities. With more autonomy and more authority comes responsibility, and I think that's something they can handle.

Mr Gerretsen: Of course the minister didn't answer the question, but I'll ask it in a slightly different way: Is the minister not concerned about the effect, that we'll be creating in this province have and have-not municipalities where some citizens will receive a particular kind of service whereas others will not, because some municipalities will be cutting out some of the programs completely? Will you not be concerned about creating, in effect, two types of municipalities without any provincial standards?

Hon Mr Leach: Perhaps the honourable member across doesn't have any respect for locally elected politicians, but I do. I think they are elected to represent their constituency and they should be given the autonomy and the responsibility to do it. I believe they can do it, even if the honourable member doesn't.


Ms Shelley Martel (Sudbury East): I have a question for the minister responsible for women's issues. The YWCA in Sudbury operates a shelter and a second-stage housing program, and your government recently cut off 100% of the counselling services at the second-stage housing project. Not only have you put the women and children at second stage in jeopardy but you've now compromised the women and children at the shelter, because one of the counsellors who worked at second stage also provided bilingual services to women and children in the shelter.

Rosemary, who's a survivor, has recently written to the Premier about this, and she says: "It was my move to second-stage housing and the counselling services provided there that helped me to move beyond the crisis stage to rediscover myself and to allow my child and I to feel safe. The daily contact my son and I had with the counsellor at second stage was vital to our being able to move, to live a normal life."

I wonder if the minister can explain to Rosemary how this government can possibly help women and children in Sudbury if you fund only the bricks and mortar and the security system at second-stage housing.

Hon Dianne Cunningham (Minister of Intergovernmental Affairs, minister responsible for women's issues): To the honourable member, I am interested in hearing more from you personally with regard to your agency in Sudbury. It is not our intent to close the second-stage housing; we do intend to protect the core services. If you would like to speak to me further, I'm sure the Minister of Community and Social Services is looking at all these second-stage housing projects and some of the concerns the individuals have brought to our attention, and we'll certainly be looking at the one that you intend to talk to me about.

Ms Martel: I don't know how the two ministers could have made the kinds of decisions they did without looking at the projects involved, without determining what core services are and without trying to find out what other services are available for women and children in our communities.

The minister should know that in Sudbury there is one full-time counsellor at Sudbury Family Service to deal with abused women and children. There is one counsellor at children's aid to deal with counselling for children who suffer from abuse.

About three weeks ago, Comsoc told the CAS that the funding for that child counsellor was not guaranteed for next year. Minister, with your decisions you are sending women and children right back into the violent situations they have fled from. How can your possibly justify the cuts to counselling at second stage?

Hon Mrs Cunningham: I would like to remind the House that there is in the province, funded by the Ministry of Community and Social Services, some $15.7 million for emergency counselling. I would say at this time that I am interested in hearing about the difficulties in Sudbury. I've said to this House before that we will be coordinating services within all communities so that communities can be treated fairly, and if there's a specific concern, bring it to our attention.

We are working on the whole issue of counselling for women because we do agree that we have to protect and support safe communities in the province of Ontario. In the end, we also have a responsibility to be the most efficient providers of these kinds of services, and we are protecting the counselling for women.


Hon Mrs Cunningham: I will also say, since people are shouting from the other end of the House, that we have a responsibility to the taxpayers. If we don't coordinate our services and get the best services available for the least amount of money, we will not be able to balance our budget and therefore these women will have very little hope for the future, jobs for themselves and a future for their children.


Mr Dan Newman (Scarborough Centre): My question today is for the Minister of Environment and Energy. I understand that the minister recently attended a meeting of the Canadian Council of Ministers of the Environment in the Yukon, and I understand that at that meeting the council of ministers agreed to support important new clean air initiatives. I wonder if the minister might reassure the House that in speaking for Ontario she supported the clean vehicle and fuel initiatives that will be critical in addressing Ontario's smog problem?

Hon Brenda Elliott (Minister of Environment and Energy): I would like to thank my colleague for the question. I did indeed attend the Canadian Council of Ministers of the Environment meeting in Whitehorse, and I am pleased to indicate that we did agree to move forward with other provinces to improve air quality both here in Ontario and across Canada by agreeing to support the Task Force on Cleaner Vehicles and Fuels. We believe this will help move all of Canada towards national standards for vehicle emissions and for cleaner-burning fuels.

I would also like to say that today a very important decision is being made in Quebec, and it was an honour for me to be at that meeting and to participate with the other Canadian ministers and their representatives from the territories to work towards national standards for environmental legislation.

Mr Newman: As a supplementary, I would ask the minister if the council of ministers also agreed to move forward with the most cost-effective approaches to those initiatives; that is, harmonizing vehicle emission initiatives with those planned in the United States.

Hon Mrs Elliott: We did agree to go forward to work with harmonizing our standards in Ontario and Canada with those in the United States in this regard. We believe it is a cost-effective and environmentally sound method to improve Ontario's air quality.




Mr Monte Kwinter (Wilson Heights): I have a petition to the Legislative Assembly of Ontario:

"Whereas the report of the Metropolitan Toronto District Health Council hospital restructuring committee has recommended that North York Branson Hospital merge with York Finch hospital; and,

"Whereas this recommendation will remove emergency and inpatient services currently provided by North York Branson Hospital, which will seriously jeopardize medical care and the quality of health for the growing population which the hospital serves, many being elderly people who in numerous cases require treatment for life-threatening medical conditions;

"We petition the Legislative Assembly of Ontario to reject the recommendation contained within the report of the Metropolitan Toronto District Health Council hospital restructuring committee as it pertains to North York Branson Hospital so that it remains, at minimum, emergency and in-patient services."

I have signed the petition, as has Mayor Mel Lastman of North York, along with 23 other people living in the area, and I am delighted to support it.


Mr Bud Wildman (Algoma): I have a petition signed by 12 residents of Ontario. It reads as follows:

"To the Legislative Assembly of Ontario:

"Whereas the labour legislation from the Conservative government, Bill 7, would strip public sector workers of successor rights, meaning that workers whose jobs are privatized could either lose their jobs or be cut back to minimum wage;

"Whereas Bill 7 would also make a mockery of essential services provisions of the existing law, by allowing the Mike Harris government to use strikebreakers to perform any work in the Ontario public service, regardless of the provisions in an essential services agreement;

"Whereas many workers who are currently union members would have their union rights taken away by Bill 7, without any opportunity to vote on whether or not they wanted to remain in a union;

"Whereas this legislation will affect the Ontario public service employees in communities all across the province who have had no opportunity to have their voice heard in the drafting of this bill;

"We, the undersigned, petition the Legislative Assembly of Ontario to conduct public hearings, including evening sessions, in communities across the province, with a full opportunity for participation by public sector workers who would be hurt by this law."

I support this petition and I affix my name to it.


Mr Bill Grimmett (Muskoka-Georgian Bay): Mr Speaker, I'm presenting this petition today on behalf of the member for Simcoe East, with whom I understand you are acquainted. The petition concerns negative option marketing, and the paragraph following the preamble reads as follows:

"That the Ontario government ensure consumer protection by quickly enacting Bill 206 into law, and that it advise the federal government of the concerns of Ontario consumers about the CRTC's recent decision not to protect cable television consumers."

It is affixed with the signatures of 12 persons and appears to be in order.


Ms Annamarie Castrilli (Downsview): I have here a petition signed by numerous Ontarians which reads as follows:

"To the Legislative Assembly of Ontario:

"We, the undersigned, petition the Legislative Assembly of Ontario as follows:

"We demand a public inquiry into the conduct of all crown and law enforcement officials and employees at all levels involved in the investigation of Karla Homolka, and in particular the circumstances of the negotiation of the plea bargain arrangement. We also demand that all day passes and other privileges be revoked and her full 12-year sentence be served in its entirety."

I have affixed my signature.


Mr Howard Hampton (Rainy River): I have a petition signed by over 3,000 residents of the constituency of Rainy River. The petition reads as follows:

"To the Legislative Assembly of Ontario:

"Whereas the provincial government is reviewing the operations of small jails across the province for their financial viability;

"Whereas the Fort Frances Jail is in fact under review and is at risk of closure;

"Whereas the Fort Frances Jail is the only jail in the Rainy River district, an area of approximately of 10,000 square miles;

"Whereas this move would be detrimental in many ways to many communities and the district as a whole;

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

"Not to close the Fort Frances Jail, that serves the Rainy River district."

I have signed this petition as well.


Mr Gary Fox (Prince Edward-Lennox-South Hastings): I have a petition signed by over a thousand of my constituents that reads:

"We, the undersigned, petition the Legislative Assembly as follows:

"Therefore, let it be resolved that the government of Ontario cease any further downsizing of Prince Edward Heights until the proper support structures for the developmentally handicapped are firmly established;

"Be it further resolved that the Minister of Community and Social Services implement a comprehensive impact study that would assess the current community-based social services available to developmentally handicapped individuals across the province of Ontario; and

"Be it therefore resolved that any impact study conducted would involve consultation for all stakeholders affected."

I have signed this petition.


Mr Mike Colle (Oakwood): I have a petition from the good citizens of Oakwood.

"Whereas on Friday" -- Black Friday -- "July 21, 1995, the Harris government deferred the construction of the Eglinton subway line without public debate and consultation" -- no consultation --

"Whereas, by stopping the construction of the Eglinton subway line the Harris government buried over 1,200 jobs" in the Harris hole, "10,000 future jobs" were buried in the Harris hole, "derailed the subway link to Pearson International Airport and impeded the growth of new development and business within the city of York; and

"Whereas to date $123 million worth of contracts have been committed and $50 million has been spent" and put into the Harris hole;

"Whereas the Harris government will waste millions of taxpayers' dollars on filling the holes, and on legal costs due to broken contracts;

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

"That the government of Ontario immediately resume the completion of the construction of the Eglinton subway."

I have signed this along with five dozen other people from Oakwood.


Mr Len Wood (Cochrane North): I have a petition here signed by 1,436 people from Cochrane North, from Smooth Rock Falls to Cochrane to Kapuskasing and Hearst.

"We travel Highways 11 and 655 every day, seven days a week and six times a day. Highway 655 is a very dangerous route during the winter season and the route gets hazardous because of the icy conditions and the feeling of riding on a bottle. It's very narrow and has no shoulders and will not allow a truck to stop in bad weather. The road gets snow-packed easily because the trees are so close to the highway and the wind has no chance to clean it up. Snow swirls on the road and reduces visibility to nil.

"Drivers see more accidents on Highway 655 than any other highway. By reducing the number of snowplows and sanders, Highway 11 will get the priority in cleanup. If, for example, we get a snowstorm for two days, the cleanup will take three to four days. Meantime, Highway 655 and Highway 634 will be abandoned. Trucks will no longer be able to work, putting people out of work; 15 or 20 truck drivers could be laid off with one company alone.

"We don't find the winter cleanup to be adequate with the present equipment. We understand that the government is cutting the budget, but this will have serious consequences to the lives of the people travelling in northern Ontario."

I affix my name to the petition.



Mr John O'Toole (Durham East): I rise today to present a petition on behalf of the residents of Durham East to the Attorney General as follows:

"We, the undersigned, request that the plea bargaining agreement between Karla Homolka and the Attorney General be revoked, and we want a sentence that is equitable to the crime."

It's indeed a privilege to sign in support of this petition.


Mr John C. Cleary (Cornwall): I have a petition signed by many people from across Ontario, and it's concerning the ethanol project in my riding. They write:

"We, the undersigned, petition the Minister of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs to honour the $3-million commitment to assist the Seaway Valley ethanol cooperative to construct a $40-million to $45-million facility to produce ethanol and other byproducts in the Cornwall area."

The petition continues, "The commitment was announced by the former government on April 5 and supported by all MPPs of all three parties, including the current Minister of Agriculture, whom we petition to" release the money to the Seaway co-op.

I have also signed this petition.


Mr Bob Wood (London South): I have today some 225 names on a petition concerning the Karla Homolka plea-bargain arrangement. The petition reads as follows:

"We demand a public inquiry into the conduct of all crown and law enforcement officials/employees at all levels involved in the investigation of Karla Homolka and, in particular, the circumstances of the negotiation of the plea-bargain arrangement. We also demand that all day passes and other privileges be revoked and her full 12-year sentence be served in its entirety."

I believe these people to be on the right track.

Mr Alvin Curling (Scarborough North): I have a petition, and this is addressed to the Legislative Assembly of Ontario:

"We, the undersigned, petition the Legislative Assembly of Ontario as follows:

"We demand a public inquiry into the conduct of all crown and law enforcement officials/employees at all levels involved in the investigation of Karla Homolka and, in particular, the circumstances of the negotiation of the plea-bargain arrangement. We also demand that all day passes and other privileges be revoked and her full 12-year sentence be served in its entirety."

I affix my signature to this with many others who feel the same way.


Mr David Christopherson (Hamilton Centre): I have a petition that reads:

"Whereas labour legislation from the Conservative government, Bill 7, would strip public sector workers of successor rights, meaning that workers whose jobs are privatized could either lose their jobs or be cut back to the minimum wage; and

"Whereas Bill 7 would also make a mockery of the essential services provisions of existing law, by allowing the Mike Harris government to use strikebreakers to perform any work in the Ontario public service, regardless of provisions in an essential service agreement; and

"Whereas many workers who are currently union members would have their union rights taken away by Bill 7, without any opportunity to vote on whether or not they wanted to remain in a union; and

"Whereas this legislation will affect Ontario public service employees in communities all across the province who have had no opportunity to have their voice heard in the drafting of this bill;

"We, the undersigned, petition the Legislative Assembly of Ontario to conduct public hearings, including evening sessions, in communities across the province, with a full opportunity for participation by public sector workers who would be hurt by this law."

I add my name.


Mr Harry Danford (Hastings-Peterborough): I have a petition to present to the Legislative Assembly of Ontario, and this petition today is signed by over 1,500 area residents expressing concern with the present method of selecting waste management sites:

First of all, "That the Ontario government seek progressive, long-term solutions reflecting an awareness of modern technology;"

Secondly, "That the Ontario government reconsider the use of incineration as a method of waste disposal;" and

Finally, "That the Ontario government establish clear guidelines and standards to be applied to the site selection process which would exclude productive farms. These standards and guidelines should encourage locating waste management complexes close to major waste production sources."

I affix my signature to this petition.


Mr Frank Miclash (Kenora): I must say that after two weeks of not being able to present petitions in the House, it's nice to rise today to present this petition, which states:

"We, the undersigned, petition the Conservative government through the Legislative Assembly of Ontario as follows:

"That the government of Ontario hereby stop child care cutbacks. Funding cutbacks will affect the availability of professionally run child care programs, resource centres and services for children with special needs."

That's signed by a good number of constituents from my riding and from the Rainy River riding, and I too affix my name to that petition.


Ms Marilyn Churley (Riverdale): I have a petition that reads:

"To the Legislative Assembly of Ontario:

"Whereas the PC government of Mike Harris, under the influence of corporate special interests, has introduced Bill 7, which would roll back rights of workers that have been achieved over several decades;

"Whereas this legislation is part of a pattern of cutting back protection for people in Ontario who don't have power or influence, including reduced welfare payments, cuts to health and safety training, a cap on pay equity wages for low-paid women, gutting of the wage protection program, a freeze on the minimum wage and lower workers' compensation benefits;

"Whereas the effects of Bill 7 would be felt in every workplace across Ontario, from Windsor to Cornwall to the Manitoba border;

"Whereas the people who will be affected by this legislation have a natural right to be heard by MPPs before such sweeping changes are rammed through the House;

"We, the undersigned, petition the Legislative Assembly of Ontario to hold public hearings in at least eight cities in all parts of this province and listen to why Bill 7 should be withdrawn."

I affix my signature to this petition.


The Speaker (Hon Allan K. McLean): I would like the members to know that we have a special guest in the gallery today, the former member for Sarnia, Mr Bob Huget.



Mr Barrett moved first reading of the following bill:

Bill 11, An Act to amend the Expropriations Act and the Human Rights Code with respect to property rights / Projet de loi 11, Loi modifiant la Loi sur l'expropriation et le Code des droits de la personne relativement aux droits de propriété.

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

Does the member have a short statement?

Mr Toby Barrett (Norfolk): By way of explanation, this bill amends the Expropriations Act and the Human Rights Code to enhance the protection Ontario law gives to private property rights. The provisions added to the code are based on the Charter of Human Rights and Freedoms, Quebec.


Ms Castrilli moved first reading of the following bill:

Bill 12, An Act to promote the Rights of Victims of Crime / Projet de loi 12, Loi visant à promouvoir les droits des victimes d'actes criminels.

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

Does the member have a short statement to make?

Ms Annamarie Castrilli (Downsview): I've already spoken on this bill at a previous time. I'll forgo.



Mr Martin moved first reading of the following bill:

Bill 13, An Act to regulate Franchise Agreements / Projet de loi 13, Loi visant à réglementer les contrats de franchisage.

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

Do you have a short statement?

Mr Tony Martin (Sault Ste Marie): This act provides a comprehensive scheme to regulate the entering into of franchise agreements and ongoing relationships between the franchisor and the franchisee.


Mr Tilson moved first reading of the following bill:

Bill 14, An Act respecting the rounding of the Penny in Cash Transactions / Projet de loi 14, Loi prévoyant l'arrondissement des sommes dans les opérations au comptant.

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

Does the member have any statement at all? None.



Resuming the adjourned debate on the motion for second reading of Bill 8, An Act to repeal job quotas and to restore merit-based employment practices in Ontario / Projet de loi 8, Loi abrogeant le contingentement en matière d'emploi et rétablissant en Ontario les pratiques d'emploi fondées sur le mérite.

The Speaker (Hon Allan K. McLean): The member for Fort York had the floor last. Continue, please.

Mr Rosario Marchese (Fort York): It's my pleasure to continue to speak on Bill 8, a bill which has been improperly named, I would add, because it says it's "An Act to repeal job quotas" -- and there are no quotas. I asked the minister today a question on the issue of quotas. Rather than give me a definition on the word "quotas," she simply described what quotas are. It's not what I asked, but that's what I got as an answer.

It continues, this bill, to say, "and to restore merit-based employment...." I asked the minister a question on the issue of merit, where I said that the employment equity bill does not compromise the merit principle. On the contrary, it affirms it. It calls for the hiring of qualified candidates from among the designated groups. That's what it does. It's not what they say it is, but what is in actual fact the case with Bill 79.

I want to continue making some remarks, to add some comments that I didn't make or wasn't able to make in the previous remarks that I had made. I want to comment on the role of governments, because in my view governments play an important role in dealing with issues of equity and issues of discrimination.

If governments are not involved in bringing equity to people who are otherwise discriminated against, we have a problem. The Conservatives on the other side would prefer that these things happen magically and that we allow employers to do it on their own. I say that's all very nice, but it doesn't work. It has never worked. As I make some comments on this bill, you'll see how that's the case.

I want to give some brief history of the role of governments in bringing about some equity in the workplace. Affirmative action programs aimed at redressing gender discrimination in the public service were instituted by a Conservative government in 1974. It's a small fact that I suspect a lot of Conservative members on the other side are not aware of, but that is the case. It was a Conservative government that instituted affirmative action programs to redress gender discrimination.

The Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms, passed as part of the Constitution Act in 1982, in subsection 15(2) guaranteed affirmative action programs for disadvantaged groups.

In 1986, in response to the 100 recommendations contained in the report of the Commission of Inquiry on Equality in Employment, the federal Conservative government passed the federal Employment Equity Act, which aimed at dealing with discrimination by removing barriers to employment for women, racial minorities, persons with disabilities and aboriginal people. Again, it is a fact that I refer to: a bill introduced by the Conservative government at the federal level attempting to deal with discrimination because they clearly understood it was happening. The report written by Judge Abella made that quite clear, and in response to it, a Conservative government introduced an employment equity bill. It wasn't the Liberals at the time, it wasn't the NDP; it was the Conservative government.

You might argue or some people might argue that this Conservative government is different. It's not the same, because if previous Conservative governments could introduce equity issues to deal with discrimination, why isn't this government following through? It makes sense.

But this Conservative government is different. They're not the same. They're certainly not progressive. They should remove the label "Progressive" from "Conservative" because they're not, and I suspect they should remove the label "Conservative" because they've gone beyond that title.

Where on previous occasions you've seen that other Conservative governments have done something very useful in this field, this reform party is abrogating all of that. This reform party is eliminating all of that. This reform party is saying: "We don't need to do this any more. It's not good. It's a disaster," they say.

I argue that it's a disaster to get rid of Bill 79 and introduce Bill 8, which has no substance other than repealing everything good that has come out of Bill 79.

The provincial Liberal government in 1987 initiated an employment equity program in the Ontario public service for the four groups and included francophones. The previous provincial government built on these years of progress by bringing in the Employment Equity Act in 1993, which required employers with 50 or more workers to take reasonable measures to survey their workplace, to determine the extent of representation of the designated groups, review the policies and practices for barriers to employment, and set goals to eliminate those barriers and hire and promote qualified women, people of colour -- black people -- persons with disabilities, and aboriginal people, the overriding objectives being to level the playing field so that all Ontarians can compete fairly with the goal of creating a truly representative workforce.

It required employers to develop a plan to remove them and change employment practices, and it also says they will keep tabs on the workplace makeup through data collection and monitoring those changes. That's what it did. If we don't keep tabs on the workforce through data collection, how are we to know how we are doing by way of equity and by way of representation? If you have no data, you will never know, and Bill 8 says that all employers will have to throw those data out, that we don't need them. That's a serious mistake. It costs money, as the minister said, to begin with, and she's saying: "It's okay. We don't need it any more. As to monitoring mechanisms, we don't have to monitor it; we don't need it."

But you see, if we don't monitor what people are doing with respect to employment equity practices in the workplace, again, we won't know what is going on. But they don't want to have us monitor the workplace; they don't want us to collect data.

Mr Len Wood (Cochrane North): They know it's working.

Mr Marchese: They don't want it because they know it's working. That was the vision around Bill 79. It was a good vision. It builds on what the research says, and that is that people of colour, black men and women, aboriginal people, people with disabilities and women, have been underrepresented and underemployed. They're the ones who often are last hired and first fired. These are the groups that are not faring well in the workplace by way of promotions, at the entry level included.

So when we look at what we have done, when we look at that practice based on the research, some of you will understand why we introduced Bill 79: because it brings about fairness to those groups that have not had fairness.


If we go the other way with Bill 8, the repeal of employment equity legislation and the related provisions of the Education Act and the Police Services Act, this abandons the attempt to implement non-discriminatory hiring and standard employment practices and returns the province to the days when systemic discrimination in employment denied women, racial minorities, persons with disabilities and aboriginal people equal access to employment and promotion while maintaining an in-built advantage for some Ontarians.

We are knowledgable on the in-built advantages to some Ontarians. White males have always had an advantage in the workforce in employment practices. The research speaks to that. Judge Abella's report was clear on this. When we repeal Bill 8, we go back to the old practices. We go back to the discriminatory practices where some people will do well and many will not. It's a terrible vision. It's a terrible Conservative vision. It doesn't work and it will be very costly.

I want to speak briefly on the issue of reverse discrimination, because a number of people have said that this Bill 79 is reverse discrimination. I want to say that programs which remedy long-standing underrepresentation of designated groups are not reverse discrimination.

First, our laws against discrimination have specifically identified employment equity or affirmative action initiatives as being compatible with and not inconsistent with the guarantees of equality. For example, the Ontario Human Rights Code bans discrimination in employment on grounds such as race, religion, disability, sex and the like. Subsection 14(1) of the code specifically allows for such initiatives. It provides as follows:

"A right under part I is not infringed by the implementation of special programs designed to relieve hardship or economic disadvantage or to assist disadvantaged persons or groups to achieve or attempt to achieve equal opportunity or that is likely to contribute to the elimination of the infringement of rights under part I."

Similarly, section 15(1) of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms guarantees equality rights to all persons in Canada without discrimination on grounds such as race, national or ethnic origin, colour, religion, sex, age or mental or physical disability.

Section 15(2) of the charter explicitly allows for employment equity initiatives without running afoul of the section 15(1) guarantee of equality. Section 15(2) provides as follows:

"Subsection (1) does not preclude any law, program or activity that has as its object the amelioration of conditions of disadvantaged individuals or groups...," and it goes on.

The combined effect of the Ontario Human Rights Code and the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms is to provide that employment equity initiatives are totally compatible with guarantees of equality and freedom from discrimination. Employment equity promotes the same aim in these equality right guarantees. So there is no conflict with Bill 79 and the guarantees provided by the Ontario Human Rights Code and the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms.

The myth underlying the reverse discrimination fear of employment equity is the belief that at present job applicants in Canada compete with each other on a level playing field. The current, severe underrepresentation of designated group members in the workforce demonstrates that this is false. The playing field is heavily weighted in favour of those who are not members of the designated groups. For the designated group, the playing field is slanted in a steep, up-hill incline.

I refer you again to that survey that the Bank of Montreal conducted among 2,000 of its employees across North America to determine, among other things, if there were attitudinal barriers to women's advancement at the banks. I described the last time the perceptions and the reality at the Bank of Montreal. Rather than repeating the perceptions and the reality, what the study did is to debunk many of the arguments made by those who oppose employment equity. There are still many discriminatory attitudes towards women. That's what that study at the Bank of Montreal reveals. That was 1990, while they were federally regulated and under the employment equity law. So in spite of this, there are still discriminatory practices in the workforce. We know that.

"And as is the case with women," -- because that's what it dealt with in this particular study -- "we are certain that a similar study would show that discriminatory attitudes and stereotyping also continue to exist towards the other designated groups," says the study.

I want to refer the public and those who are listening to another study, or many studies, that the Canadian Civil Liberties Association has done, studies over a 20-year period. The premise is this: They call employment agencies located all over Ontario, the caller identifies himself or herself as a representative of an American company planning to locate in that area and wants to explore the services of this employment agency. Among the questions asked was whether the agency would be prepared to refer whites only for the jobs available. In the 1975 study survey, the first one, 15 agencies were contacted, and 11 indicated their willingness to screen out non-white people.

I will just read from a letter, but I want to simply point out that the Canadian Civil Liberties Association has written many, many letters since 1975.

One was addressed to Dr Thomas H.B. Symons, chairman of the Ontario Human Rights Commission, identifying this problem and speaking to remedies connected to such injustices. The next one is in 1975, and it's addressed to Mayor David Crombie.

It continues to Dr Thomas Symons in 1977, the chairman of the Ontario Human Rights Commission. They write again in 1979 to Gordon Fairweather, QC, chief commissioner of the Canadian Human Rights Commission. It goes on to 1980, and it's addressed to the Honourable Dr Robert G. Elgie, Minister of Labour of Ontario.

They continue writing: 1983 to Mr W.B. Cook, administrator of employment agencies, Ministry of Labour. They write in 1991 to the Honourable Elaine Ziemba, the Minister of Citizenship for Ontario. Again, they write to us, the Honourable Bob Mackenzie, Minister of Labour of Ontario, 1992.


Then I will read from a page from 1991 which best explains the problem with these employment agencies and the discriminatory practices they're engaged in. This is written to the Honourable Bob Mackenzie:

"Dear Sir:

"This is to express the concern of the Canadian Civil Liberties Association over the failure of successive governments in this province to adopt the minimum prerequisites for dealing effectively with discrimination by employment agencies."

The next page describes a bit of the problem:

"In our earlier submissions to the government on this issue, we noted that the Human Rights Code and commission could not deal adequately with discrimination by employment agencies. The machinery of the code is too dependent upon the filing of complaints. The problem with such an approach is that job applicants who go to employment agencies do not know the identity of the agencies' clients. Thus, those applicants can easily be screened out without their ever knowing what the agency has done.

"In consequence, we argued that the only way discrimination would ever be detected in this field was to create an audit system with the power of continuing access to books and records," part of what I talked about earlier. You need a monitoring agency; otherwise, you'll never know what is going on in those workplaces.

"The ministry's 1982 paper seemed to acknowledge the logic of this argument. Nevertheless, as indicated, no such audit system has been established to date.

"When we decided with the advent of a new government in Ontario it would be wise to renew this proposal, we realized that our research material is more than 10 years old. Within the last several weeks, therefore, the Canadian Civil Liberties Association conducted another survey.

"Once more, we telephoned 15 agencies -- four in Toronto, four in Ottawa, four in London and three in the Kitchener-Guelph area. Our testing method was the same as before. We told each agency that we represented an out-of-town firm that was considering the setting up of operations in that community. In order not to waste any time, we pointed out that this call was designed only to elicit information as to the kind of services that the agency would be prepared to perform. There were to be no orders or commitments at the time of the call. At some point in the conversation, we asked whether the agency would be prepared to refer only white candidates for the job in question, just as they did before, since 1975."

And it says, "I regret to advise you that it appears very little has changed in 20 years." Nothing has changed. That's what this government wants to get us back to. This government wants to bring us back to 1975 in spite of all the progressive changes their Progressive Conservative governments have made.

"Of the 15 agencies we telephoned, only three declared their unwillingness to accept discriminatory job orders." Out of the 15, only three. "The other 12 agencies readily expressed their willingness to comply."

The following are some of the examples of what they said: "It is discrimination, but it can be done discreetly without anyone knowing. No problem with that."

Another quotation: "That's no problem. It's between you and me. I don't tell anyone; you don't tell anyone." Remember, this is where they point out whether the agency would be prepared to refer only white candidates, and these are the responses.

Another quotation says, "You are paying to see the people you want to see."

Another: "Absolutely. We will refer any white candidate that you want, definitely. That request is pretty standard here."

Another: "That's not a problem. Appearance means a lot," in terms of obeying the law, "whether it's colour or overweight people."

"We can do that," another quotation says, "but I didn't hear you say that. As an employer, I can understand that you want someone who won't make your customers uncomfortable."

Another quotation: "Between your four walls and mine, we break it right down to race, colour and creed. We don't like to waste time. Not everyone is right for everyone."

Another quotation: "Okay. Not a problem at all. That's one of the major reasons for going through an agency."

The final quotation I've got here says:

"We send only the ones with your specifications. If you want a girl, I'll send you a girl. If you want a guy, I'll send you a guy. If you want a WASP, that's what I'll send you."

All these quotations that come out of the interviews done by the Civil Liberties Association with these employment agencies reveal that we've got a serious problem, that the problem of discrimination will not go away voluntarily.

This is what this government wants us to do. It wants to take us back 20 years ago to those discriminatory practices. The question we almost have to ask them is, haven't we learned something from the last 20 years? Or, put differently, what have we learned over the last 20 years?

Is this government not intent on looking at this kind of research that has been done? Is this government not interested in listening to that? I know they're not listening now, including the minister, I understand that, but if they simply look at the record -- it's important for the minister in particular to listen.

Mr Derwyn Shea (High Park-Swansea): We're making notes.

Mr Marchese: I'm glad you're making notes.

If you're looking at the evidence, it will tell you we've got a serious problem and that we're not going to fix it by disregarding it. We're not going to fix it by simply allowing employers to do what they want. We'll help them, yes, if they want. The problem is, this is not going to go away.

These studies show equal opportunity and voluntary measures just don't work. In all these studies, we see intentional discrimination at work, with no way for action to be taken to the Human Rights Commission. Why? Because there is no complainant.

We just reveal how the policies and procedures in hiring work against designated groups and we see how these policies discriminate in a systemic manner. Designated groups are screened out before even knowing about the job opportunities. White males are given their own 100% quota system. We see how equal opportunity guarantees are regarded with contempt and so easily thwarted. We see how the Human Rights Code and Human Rights Commission are useless in the face of these anonymous policies.

Now we have a legacy of designated groups being unrepresented in the workplace, especially in good, full-time jobs, and we can see how business caters to the old boys' network. Tories want to bring us back to that system, and they have the arrogance to call it a merit system. It is a system, what they're getting us back to, of "It's not what you know but who you know."

Change is necessary. Bill 79 was intended to give us that change. We see it in all the studies. Equal opportunity won't work, and the Human Rights Commission is not the vehicle to guarantee rights in the workplace, because it is intended to deal with individual complaints, with individual discrimination, not systemic discrimination. Not only that, we need a complainant. Without a complainant, we can't solve the problem. Without a complainant, we can't even take it to the Human Rights Commission. This assumes, of course, that the Human Rights Commission will solve it, or solve all the cases, with all the backlog.


But the problem is clear: It doesn't deal with systemic problems; it doesn't deal with barriers; it doesn't deal with recruitment; it doesn't deal with collecting data so we know what the workforce looks like; it doesn't deal with monitoring those policies and those practices. That's why we need change. We need employment equity legislation which compels employers to create a barrier-free workplace to determine bias-free hiring and promotion procedures.

On the question of data collection and setting of goals and timetables, you call these "quotas," as if they are a stick that the government uses to clobber employers into submission. Well, why be afraid of taking an honest look at the makeup of the workplace, and why be afraid of measuring success? Why would anyone be afraid to do that?

Quite clearly, this government isn't just afraid of that; it's simply opposed to that, and it's bringing us way back.

We argue several things on the issue of merit again, that these studies illustrate how this government perpetuates the myth that the merit determines hiring and it wants to restore merit. Make no mistake about this: If merit were the bottom line, we would have no need for employment equity. If merit were the bottom line, people of colour, people with disabilities, women and aboriginal people would be employed, would be better employed, would have greater access to equality in the workplace. But merit is not what is being used in hiring practices. We wish merit were being used, but it's not. They want to bring us back to a merit system that is not merit at all.

Employment equity was intended to do just that. It affirms the merit principles. Contrary to their statements, employment equity affirms those principles.

Testing and hiring, as I said earlier, must be bias-free. Recruitment must be comprehensive. Data collection is not to be feared. Employment equity ensures these conditions, because it's an open and transparent process. It's accountable, methodical and concrete. It's a plan which reflects the needs of each workplace, and it gets results.

Equal opportunity does not. It's all very nice to call it equal opportunity, but it doesn't work on its own. It won't work if you don't have the plans in place, as we did through Bill 79. So it might sound good to a few of them. Some of the listeners might think that what they're talking about makes sense, but equal opportunity brings us back before 1974, when the first Conservative government brought about affirmative action programs.

I want to go to the Hansard briefly to comment on the minister's statements, several of them. One has to do with the one I made when I asked her a question about what she's doing for the issue of diversity and multicultural groups. I talked about the fact that what this government has done doesn't help our multicultural diversity, doesn't help it at all. I referred to a number of things and said, "...you chopped millions of dollars in programs that support the following: citizenship development, access to professional trade demonstration fund, settlement and integration." She eliminated the anti-racism project fund, the anti-racism operating fund and the anti-racism community placement program.

How could you talk about equity and eliminate those very programs to deal with the issue of racism? They say, "We can't afford it." Can we afford racism? These are the few programs that are intended to deal with racism, and this government has eliminated them. If you have any sense of what they're doing with employment equity, based on what you've seen with these cuts, you will understand. They're not interested in equity at all.

It goes on. They are eliminating the Advisory Council on Multiculturalism and Citizenship, and with one, single stroke of the pen they eliminated the five welcome houses in Hamilton, Mississauga, Scarborough, North York and Toronto. They serve 63,000 people, but they say, "Oh, we can't afford it." We say you should be able to afford that, because when you send them to these welcome houses, what you're doing is you're preparing them to be good citizens, to be better citizens. Not to say they're not, but we're giving them access to information and programs that will make them better citizens, and this government's eliminated all five welcome houses.

Mr David Christopherson (Hamilton Centre): They don't care.

Mr Marchese: How could they care? Oh, but they do. No, no they care. They say they care, so we have to believe that they care.

These agencies, which ease the settlement process and help to make sure that the energies, skills and knowledge of new Canadians are captured and channelled into productive lives, are gone. How can anybody have any faith that this government is interested in equity when it just abolishes the very things that help to serve our diversity, our diverse communities? Our anti-racism programs are gone.

But they have a plan. We haven't seen the plan, but it's coming, and we have an indication of this possible plan through the programs this minister has made. She said there are four simple reasons why they oppose this: They're unnecessary, they're unfair, they're ineffective and they're costly.

"Job quotas are unnecessary because discrimination is already against the law under the Human Rights Code." What an interesting statement. First of all, Bill 79 doesn't deal with quotas at all. I think they're smart enough to understand this. But more than that, I believe they're more politically smart to understand that you never tell the truth; you manipulate it. So you call it quotas. And if you ask them a question, they simply won't answer it. That's what they do.

Mr Christopherson: We saw that today.

Mr Marchese: We saw it today when I asked her that question. She said, "Jobs quotas are unnecessary because discrimination is already against the law under the Human Rights Code." Isn't that wonderful? We can all go home now. Discrimination is against the law. It says so under the Human Rights Code. They're going to beef that up and we'll all be happy. Everybody will be equal. How ludicrous that is.

It flies in the face of every study that we have done. That is why I referred to the civil liberties study which speaks to the ineffectiveness of the Human Rights Commission and the code for a variety of reasons, but primarily because of the instance that I cited: You need a complaint. How can you get a complaint if the complainants don't know they're being discriminated against? But that's okay, the Tories have the answer: It's against the law under the Human Rights Code. I feel much better now.

Then they say, "We know that significant improvements to the Ontario Human Rights Commission have to be made to ensure that it helps victims of discrimination more effectively...." That's wonderful; I feel better. They're going to do that somehow, and after all of that we'll have equity once again, equity of the prior-to-1974 type where discriminatory practices were the rule. We'll bring those discriminatory practices back to 1995, bringing us back all the way to those terrible old days where we didn't deal with discrimination at all.

She goes on to say, "Job quotas are unfair because they obstruct an employer's ability to hire on the merit principle" -- another ludicrous statement. You can't say it's a lie, you can't say that in the House, you can't do that, but what is here is not truthful. This statement here is not a truthful statement. "Job quotas are unfair because they obstruct an employer's ability to hire on the merit principle" is wrong, is false, and they know it. And if they don't know it, it's worse.


Bill 79 does not require employers to hire those people who are not qualified. It's clear in Bill 79. All I urge the minister to do is to read it. I urge Mike Harris to read it. I urge those who support the Tories to read the document, because nowhere in that bill does it say that employers must hire unqualified people. Nowhere does it say that. If they don't know it, it's worse.

She goes on by saying that "Job quotas are ineffective because they fail to address the root causes of the very issue they purport to address: discrimination."

That's a neat one. I don't understand that at all. They were ineffective because they fail to address the root causes. It's unbelievable. I don't understand that at all. It makes no sense. Bill 79 was intended to deal with the root problems of discrimination in the workplace. It was intended to deal with systemic discrimination. These are the root causes. I have no clue what they're talking about here, but they have the boldness to say anything that they want, even if it doesn't make any sense.

"Last," it says, "but by no means least, job quotas are costly."

That's another good one. What they're saying is that we shouldn't spend any money to remedy injustices, that we shouldn't spend any money to correct discriminatory practices, that it's all right if the resources of humans of these designated groups are not used by employers, that that's not costly, but what is costly is for employers to put a few dollars to do the right thing, to bring about equity in the workplace, to recruit, to remove barriers, to have data collection and to monitor it. That's not costly.

It is my view that when you eliminate discriminatory practices, when you eliminate discrimination, when you deal with it, even if we can't eliminate it, that's good; that every dollar we spend in dealing with those issues is critical for our society; that to punish those who have been victims of the discrimination is a bad thing; that to punish them because we say it's costly to do the right thing is not good. It's absolutely wrong, and these Tories have done irreparable damage to the progressive changes that we have made to those progressive efforts they themselves as Tories have made. It's a destructive change.

It goes on and says, "As an employer, the government has made a commitment to zero tolerance in our...workplaces and to leading by example, and we fully intend to keep these commitments."

What does it all mean? It sounds all very nice to be able to say this government's "commitment to zero tolerance in our...workplaces." What does that mean?

Now, on paper, it's wonderful. It means you oppose it; zero tolerance. On paper, it says a great deal, but in practice, it says nothing. If you abolish Bill 79, which had all the tools to deal with discrimination, then you're not committed to zero tolerance in the workplace. You can't be, because you've just eliminated all the tools that gave us the opportunity to deal with discrimination, but they're committed to it, they say. It sounds nice, but I tell you, Minister, you're doing the wrong thing. People will not be fooled by this language, because it's false.

Mr Christopherson: Talk is cheap.

Mr Marchese: Talk is very cheap, very cheap, and if you're leading by example, this is the worst of examples to lead by.

I challenge you, Minister, to show us the figures of the people you employ in your offices, and I will tell you that it will show that we will not have too many of those designated groups in those offices and you're not leading by example, but I'd like to be proven wrong. Minister, before those hearings begin, I'd like you to show me how wrong I am in that regard.

"Our approach," she continues, "to equal opportunity -- "

Mr John Gerretsen (Kingston and The Islands): On a point of order, Madam Speaker --

Mr Marchese: I only have 44 seconds.

Mr Gerretsen: Well, on a point of order, I don't believe there are 20 members in the House right now.

The Acting Speaker (Ms Marilyn Churley): Is there a quorum?

Clerk Assistant and Clerk of Committees (Ms Deborah Deller): A quorum is present, Speaker.

The Acting Speaker: Continue.

Mr Marchese: I'd like to thank the member for that intervention.

In my 17 seconds: Bill 8 is a disaster. Bill 8 will bring us back to the Dark Ages. Bill 8 is anything but progressive. I hope through the hearings that the communities out there will come out to show how wrong they really are in this regard.

The Acting Speaker: It's now time for questions and/or comments in response to the speech from the member for Fort York.

Mr Steve Gilchrist (Scarborough East): Certainly, it has already been our experience as the new members in this House that what passes for debate is far too often idle rhetoric and diatribes and far too often a less-than-decorous tone from the other side.

Let me just start, in responding to my honourable colleague, by quoting a few sections right out of the act. An employment equity act must contain the following information: "A list of the numerical goals described in section 18 that will be achieved during the term of the plan and a description of how the goals were set and a description of the timetable for implementing the measures and achieving the numerical goals."

I don't think the time of this House should be spent occupied by quibbling over semantics, but whether you want to call them quotas or whether you want to call them numerical goals, the point is exactly the same: This act was flawed; this act spoke against merit; this act was all about putting people into boxes and targeting specific groups and having them work not in the interests of all Ontarians but in their own special interests.

Let me also quote very briefly from a Globe and Mail article. "Designed by well-meaning people to encourage integration, employment equity in fact works against it, encouraging Canadians to huddle together in groups and feed the unhealthy obsession with race and gender that has seized Canadian society in the 1990s."

The Toronto Star -- it'll be interesting to hear what our Liberal colleagues have to say about Bill 8, because the Toronto Star, on June 27, 1993, said: "After spending two years and a few million dollars, the government has come up with a plan that's not likely to help those it's supposed to. It will put employers through expensive bureaucratic hoops in this recession. In so doing, the NDP has managed the worst of both worlds."

The Globe concludes by saying, "Every Canadian should give it hearty good riddance."

Mr Gerretsen: It's kind of interesting that my friend across the way should talk about idle rhetoric, because for the last four to five weeks in this House, that's all we've heard from all members on the government side. We've heard about nothing --

Mr John Hastings (Etobicoke-Rexdale): From your side too.

Mr Gerretsen: Not from our side, no.

The Acting Speaker: Would the member please address the Chair.

Mr Gerretsen: We are the party of reason. We are the party of consensus, of compromise, because we realize that in this province, what has worked extremely well over the last 125 years, up until five years ago, is the fact that on most issues, people were able to reach consensus, and management got along well with unions. The type of legislation we're talking about right now that this government's trying to introduce will basically set the province back at least five years, if not more than that.

So if we're talking about idle rhetoric, I think what the members of the government ought to do is at least get rid of their secondhand or thirdhand copies of the Common Sense Revolution. There are about three or four copies, I'm sure, in each and every desk, and if there's nothing else to talk about, they sort of bring out this book that they wave around just like a Bible, and everything, all the answers to all of the problems that we face in this province, is contained in the Common Sense Revolutionary document.

I say that the people of the province of Ontario don't buy it. It may be a popular notion right now, because they want change. I totally agree with that. They want change. But they're not going to buy the kind of revolutionary nonsense that's being preached by the other side.

The way you change bills is not just to say, "Everything the last government did during its five years is wrong and we're just going to abolish it all." No, what you do is take a look at that legislation, find out what the problems are, and deal with it accordingly.


Mr Christopherson: Once again it's interesting to watch the contortions of the Liberal Party, which votes against Bill 40 and then attacks Bill 7 and then tries to attack the government on this bill when indeed it was the Liberal Party that voted against this legislation when we brought it in. The public is at the very least getting a good education in watching Liberal policy in action: whichever way the wind's blowing.

I want to focus my comments on the efforts of the member for Fort York, who, in all the time I have known him, has made human rights and the positive aspects of our society an important part of why he's in this place. I can remember over the years as we were in government that he was always the first and the strongest on his feet to argue that we ought to be doing everything we can as a government to build on the strengths of Ontario, and that means the diversity of the people who have come to Ontario today, who will come tomorrow and have been there in the past. He shows that again with the passion and commitment he's made to his comments.

We believe fundamentally -- and my colleague from Fort York shows the leadership on this -- sincerely believe that the difference between us in Ontario is a strength, and the new government seems to believe that somehow, by dividing people or merely doing nothing, that makes for a better Ontario. The evidence is exactly the contrary. The evidence shows us that when we build on our diversity and we work together and we find common goals, that's how we become the great place we are. That's what we're arguing when we're asking Quebec to stay. Yet this government is full of words, full of rhetoric, but no action, and this truly is a sad day for Ontarians.

Mrs Janet Ecker (Durham West): Thank you, Mr Speaker. I'm very pleased to stand up and respond to the discussion on this legislation because I find it extremely difficult to understand why our friends opposite keep referring to this legislation as not having quotas in it. Any legislation that requires numerical targets, that requires employers to sit down and start dividing up their workforce by gender or by cultural background, is about quotas. There is no other word for it.

As I knocked on doors in this election I met people of all political backgrounds -- I don't mean "political," though I did meet people of all political cultures as well -- I met people from all different cultural backgrounds who complained to me about this legislation because they saw it as reverse discrimination. They saw it as legislation that was not promoting equality among the races; they saw it as legislation that was not promoting peace and good government, if you will, good order in the workplace.

For that reason I think the changes we are making to this legislation are needed. Discrimination, regardless of what it's based on, is wrong and should not be put into legislation. It is not something which is going to help employers or employees get along better as they seek to compete in what is becoming a very, very competitive world out there in the workplace.

I am very pleased that the minister, Marilyn Mushinski, is moving to change this legislation. I think it will help employers as they seek to compete and hire those who are best qualified for the jobs. Encouraging employers to hire based on the visible characteristics of employees I think is very, very wrong.

Mr Marchese: You weren't listening.

Mrs Ecker: No, it's very, very wrong. I heard from people who you would think would benefit from this legislation, but they were very upset about it because they saw it as patronizing, saw it as somehow saying they couldn't hack it, and they want to be able to compete on a fair basis.

The Acting Speaker: The member for Fort York, you have two minutes to sum up.

Mr Marchese: Madam Speaker, on a point of order: I think four speakers could speak to this, if I'm not mistaken. Perhaps you can get a ruling on that.

The Acting Speaker: Four people did speak, and now I'm asking you to sum up.

Mr Marchese: Is that four already? I beg your pardon.

I thank the members for Scarborough East, Kingston and The Islands, Hamilton Centre and Durham West for their comments.

First of all, with respect to the Liberals, I'm hoping very much that this time around they will all oppose Bill 8, because it's wrong. I don't need to say any more than that.

Mr Gerretsen: Oh, say some more about it.

Mr Marchese: No, I don't want to offend the Liberals any more than others have done already.

With respect to what the members for Scarborough East and Durham West have said -- and I thank the member for Hamilton Centre for his remarks on my behalf -- I find what they said almost offensive, particularly the remarks the member for Durham West made.

As to the remarks made by the member for Scarborough East about "idle rhetoric," what's idle rhetoric is the title of this bill. What's idle rhetoric is the fact that it says "An Act to repeal job quotas and to restore merit-based employment" when they know this is not true. That is idle rhetoric.

They quote some comment from the Globe that says "encourages Canadians to huddle in groups." What an offensive remark. What does that mean? People are seeking equity. They're not seeking to huddle in a group; they're seeking equity.

As to what the member for Durham West says -- who's busy talking to her other friends -- she talks about getting away from hiring based on visible characteristics. I've been here speaking for an hour and a half against that very comment, and she reiterates something which is very offensive. What person wants to be hired because she's black? What person wants to be hired because he or she is disabled? They want to be hired based on their merit, not because of their visible characteristics.

Bill 79 promotes that. They should read the bill. They offend me and they offend every designated group when the member for Durham West, who's not even listening and is laughing at something else, says those very stupid things.

Mrs Ecker: On a point of order, Madam Speaker: I would like to start by apologizing for addressing you as "Mr Speaker" earlier this afternoon.

The Acting Speaker: I'm getting used to it. That's okay. I accept your apology.

Mrs Ecker: I should have said "Madam Speaker." I think it's a wonderful change in the decor of the Chair.

That being said, I do believe I have been insulted by the member opposite, and I would ask you to please ask him to withdraw.

The Acting Speaker: I give the member for Fort York the opportunity to apologize to the member for Durham West, who was offended by your remarks.

Mr Marchese: I understand. I would like a ruling on this. What I said is this: I was offended by her remarks, and I said that her remarks -- I'm paraphrasing myself -- were stupid. I didn't say the member was stupid, but that her remarks were stupid. If you have a record of that, please rule on that.

The Acting Speaker: To the member for Durham West, I've given the member for Fort York the opportunity to apologize to you, since you've indicated that he has upset you by that remark. However, I don't rule the remark to be unparliamentary. I'll ask the member for Fort York one more time if he'd like to take the opportunity to apologize, and if not, then let's continue with the debate.


Mr Tony Clement (Brampton South): I can only say to the honourable member for Fort York that stupid is as stupid does, and we'll just leave it at that.

It is my great pleasure to speak on behalf of Bill 8, An Act to repeal job quotas and restore merit-based employment practices in Ontario.

This repeal bill is necessary because legislated job quotas do not and will not work, contrary to the assertions of the previous government and the previous speakers we have heard so far from the opposition benches. Quotas are not, nor will they ever be, equitable. This form of government coercion -- coercion -- in the workplace will not result in equal opportunity for the individuals with the talent to do the best job.

The honourable member for Fort York seems to be making a point about saying there are not mandatory job quotas in the previous legislation. If it walks like a quota, if it talks like a quota, if it quacks like a quota, it is a quota.

This government intends to repeal the quota legislation and to develop a sensible, cost-effective equal opportunity plan to encourage merit-based hiring and promotion in Ontario's workplaces.

The quota-based system as found in the former government's legislation would have weakened our social fabric and undermined our economic strength. It would have done this by pitting group against group, by picking winners and losers according to skin colour, according to gender and other designated grounds. This is plainly morally wrong.

What have we and our ancestors struggled for all these centuries? Freedom. Was not individual responsibility and freedom the hallmark of such North American social and political reformers as William Lyon Mackenzie or George Brown or Thomas Jefferson or James Madison? Now the ideologists on the other side wish to turn back the clock and strike away at individual rights and responsibilities. These rights and responsibilities have been hard fought for and won over the past 200 years and more. Fortunately, due to the decision of the people in the June 8 election, this wrong turn is going to be fixed before we reap in full what Bill 79 was to sow.

The whole concept of quotas is based on a philosophy of government obsessed with slotting its citizens into categories. To me, this is abhorrent. My vision and that of the people who elected this government is not of a society preoccupied with promoting differences to the detriment of recognizing our common humanity, but instead of a society profoundly sensitive to the potential and the uniqueness of each individual.

Mr Bruce Crozier (Essex South): Only 38% of the population voted for you.

Mr Clement: The honourable member for Kingston and the Islands is quoting from the election results, and I commend him to do that --

Mr Crozier: Essex South.

Mr Clement: -- because certainly in my riding of Brampton South over 50% of the population wanted real change and helped elect a Mike Harris government.

Mr Gerretsen: On a point of order, Mr Speaker: I would like the member to at least recognize the proper member. He referred to me when I didn't say a darned thing, and I would just like to set the record straight. In my riding, less than 25% of the people wanted the Harris government.

Mr Clement: I do acknowledge my mistake. I meant my own riding of Brampton South. I acknowledge the mistake and thank the member for correcting the record in Hansard.

The wider issue, though, is that there is an important role for government to play, but it is to protect individual rights and expand individual opportunities.

For the past three and a half months, I have served as parliamentary assistant to the Minister of Citizenship, Culture and Recreation. In this capacity, I have served and I've participated in a number of events sponsored by Ontario's diverse communities. But when I look out over an audience, I do not see the neat categories of people that have been defined by a bevy of bureaucrats. I perceive a sea of individuals, each with his or her own collection of strengths, weaknesses, geniuses and follies. People see themselves as individuals, with hopes and dreams and abilities and achievements, not as some statistic in an elaborate scheme devised by government. No wonder voters felt that government wasn't working for them any more.

The message that was sent out on June 8 was that the people of Ontario want back more individual freedom and individual responsibility. Taxpayers want to spend more of their money themselves instead of having government spend it for them. Workers want their democratic rights in the workplace to be strengthened and individuals want to succeed by their own merit, not because they fall or do not fall into the right category.

Quota legislation is divisive. Quota legislation emphasizes the very differences that fair employment practices should overlook. It seems to me that there is a whole cottage industry out there finding some tragic event or calamity in the past and demanding redress in the present. I believe it would be a mistake to succumb to this cult of victimization. While we should all never forget the lessons and the victims of past inequities, to seek to redress these injustices, regardless of merit, by creating another injustice -- injustice piled upon injustice -- only compounds the problem.

Victimization has become a crutch, aided and abetted by an ideological critique of Western democratic thought and society to minimize individual responsibility and to use -- to use -- previous tragedies throughout the history of humanity to promote the redistribution of power and authority for utterly separate motives.

I understand the motives of the third party. We all saw them in the past five years. They wish to redistribute to their ideological convenience. But to use the victims of the past as a crutch to do this is truly immoral. In other words, what are we teaching our children: that to get ahead, someone else must be pushed aside? Is that what we're teaching them? That each failure is a result of the system being stacked up against the group? I, for one, wish my children to learn the values of independence, the values of hard work and the values of individual responsibility.

Not only is quota legislation dangerous and immoral, it is in fact unnecessary, because discrimination is already illegal under the Human Rights Code. The reason we have an Ontario Human Rights Commission in the first place is to deal with those who break the law. It is here, with this commission, that we must take action against those who insist on hiring and promoting based on factors other than genuine merit.

The commission is working to enhance its operations and case management. In the longer term, I would agree with the critiques of the opposition benches that significant improvements are needed to ensure that the commission fulfils its mandate to help the victims of discrimination more effectively and efficiently, and we will be acting swiftly and decisively once our review is completed.

The previous government did little to strengthen the commission, instead diverting valuable resources to a parallel bureaucracy set up to enforce this quota law. This government is committed to making the changes required to achieve lasting solutions for this very important institution in our society.

Repealing the quota legislation is, for me and for my colleagues, a matter of conscience, but it is also a matter of economics. Coercive job quotas would also detract from economic progress by forcing employers into seeing employees not as individuals with their own respective merits or demerits, but as some strict category according to race, according to gender, according to disability. Hiring and promotion decisions would be skewed to include irrelevant and extraneous factors.


The economic cost of such foolery would begin to match the moral and psychological costs. Clearly, if Ontario is to be open for business, employers and employees must be allowed to deal with each other without government imposing a new, ill-conceived version of its definition of "social justice."

As Ontario employers have repeatedly warned, a quota system compromises an employer's ability to hire the best-qualified candidate for the job. To say that this hinders economic growth would be an understatement.

I would like to quote the Ontario Chamber of Commerce when it told the standing committee reviewing Bill 79 that the most common complaint it had received from its members regarding the legislation in question -- Bill 79 -- was that it "ignores the merit principle, which should drive hiring processes."

The Business Consortium on Employment Equity, representing 10 large Ontario employers, warned that Bill 79 threatened productivity and competitiveness and said, "The way to assist economic recovery and job creation is to ensure that our employment practices are based solely on merit."

Recently, a spokesperson for the Canadian Manufacturers' Association, commenting on our commitment to repeal this legislation, said: "The legislation disregarded the merit principle completely so that employers were not in the position to hire the best person for the job. That's a competitive disadvantage."

It's not only business that feels this way. During the debate on Bill 79, the Provincial Federation of Ontario Fire Fighters, for example, took the position that hiring practices should be based on the ability to perform the job.

I would like to quote from the township of Georgian Bay, for it was typical of many municipalities. They passed a resolution urging the hiring of the best person suited for the job as the most effective use of the taxpayer's dollar.

Ontario employers want to hire on the basis of merit.

Mr Alvin Curling (Scarborough North): Then do it.

Mr Clement: That merit includes hiring employees with a diversity of skills and backgrounds. They know better than anyone that Ontario's diversity is a business advantage and that their human resources are their most valuable resources. To Ontario employers, the merit principle is plain common sense.

Now, the honourable member for Scarborough North said, "Then do it." I agree with him. Do we have a ways to go? Yes, we do. Not everyone understands how to hire on the basis of merit. That is why it is this government's commitment to work with business, work with employers, work with employees in a non-coercive way to ensure that hiring by merit is the way to go.

What they fail to understand on the opposition benches is that coercion does not work; it is immoral. Carrots work better than sticks, and in fact these sticks were breaking the bones of Ontario employees and Ontario businesses. We will not let this happen again.

Legislated quotas also bury employers in paperwork and create a large government bureaucracy. Repeal will save employers significant compliance costs, which they can use to invest and create jobs. We all know that jobs and opportunity were what this past election was about. That is why we are committed to jobs and opportunity in Ontario and why all of our policies are geared towards that end.

The repeal of this legislation will also save the government and the taxpayers a total of $8 million this fiscal year and more in later years -- $8 million to save us from a failed and badly flawed piece of legislation.

The purpose of Bill 8, then, is to repeal a costly and immoral law. As the minister indicated, the government is also developing an equal opportunity plan for all Ontarians to work together with government in a non-coercive capacity. The equal opportunity plan will not require any new legislation or new coercion by government bureaucrats; it will not be intrusive. It will be cost-effective and it will be based on partnerships. Our plan will support the efforts of employees and employers to have fair workplaces where hiring and promotion decisions are based on merit. It will aim to remove and prevent barriers that hold people back for reasons that have nothing to do with bona fide job requirements.

Employers in this province know that they cannot afford barriers to opportunity.

Mr Floyd Laughren (Nickel Belt): Is that a young white male speaking?

Mr Clement: Well, the honourable member opposite said, "Is it a white male speaking?" Yes, it is a white male speaking. Perhaps he doesn't know a lot about me, but I too have faced discrimination. I too have faced the stares and the comments of people who do not understand. I know what that's all about. The fact is, I do not want to be judged on my background. I do not want to be judged on my country of origin. I want to be judged as a Canadian with merit to the job. That's how I want to be judged. That's how many, many people want to be judged.

In this province, employers know they can't afford the barriers to opportunity such as those often facing persons with disabilities. They want to be competitive. Some employers and their employees are already experts in equal opportunity measures, and one of our priorities is to encourage the sharing of this experience and expertise among Ontario workplaces. The direction of our equal opportunity plan was set in the consultation with the people on June 8.

Mr Laughren: Set by young white males.

Mr Clement: Well, the honourable member mentioned young white males again. In my riding of Brampton South we've got a lot of very different people, including people who are not white males. They said to me at the door that they did not want to be judged on their colour; they did not want to be part of a quota system; they did not want to be part of a coercive job quota system where they are not judged on the basis of merit but are judged on some extraneous factor. That's what they told me at the door, that's what they told 81 other colleagues at the door and that's why we won.

The Ministry of Citizenship, Culture and Recreation is taking the lead to turn this direction into practical support for Ontario's workplace partners. The ministry is contacting people from business, from the private sector, from the private sector employers, from labour, from community-based groups and human resource practitioners with expertise on equal opportunity in the workplace. Input from these people will help determine what initiatives will best advance the cause of equal opportunity in employment, what expertise and resources already exist in Ontario workplaces and how these can be shared, how to encourage the building of partnerships to promote equal opportunity -- something the former government did not do -- and how to meet the needs of the different sectors of the economy and regions of the province.

I am confident that our plan will enable the government, the employers and the employees to work together productively on creating workplaces where everyone is treated fairly on the basis of merit.

Mr Laughren: Absolutely. Some people will do very well. The people who wrote the Common Sense Revolution will do very well.

Mr Clement: The net impact of our legislative changes will be to allow the honourable member mentioned who wrote the Common Sense Revolution. I can tell him who wrote the Common Sense Revolution. It was average men and women who met in church basements, who met in temple basements, who met in schools. The people of Ontario spoke to us. That was the origin of the Common Sense Revolution, and we are proud of it.

What we are espousing is a different approach to workplace fairness in Ontario: an approach where the removal of barriers means widening the opportunity to compete for jobs, not trying to predetermine the outcome of the competition; an approach where inclusiveness means a workplace open to all, not a new form of exclusiveness; an approach where diversity is a business advantage, not a problem for government; an approach where people are hired on job-related grounds, on merit, not on quotas; and an approach where merit is the bottom line from both a moral and an economic perspective. I am proud to say Bill 8 is the first necessary step in this direction, and I am proud to speak in favour of it.


The Deputy Speaker (Mr Bert Johnson): Questions and comments? The Chair recognizes the member for Scarborough North.

Mr Curling: Well, as soon as the seals sit down -- good. The honourable member for Brampton South, in his effort to address employment equity, tells me how much he does not understand what it's all about. He emphasized all the time about access; it's about fair access. I don't think he understands that's what it is all about: to eliminate all those barriers that are there. You walk in here with your common sense and take away all the privileges that would allow that access.

I would ask the honourable member in his response if he is prepared to tell his minister -- who sometimes I'm not quite sure too is in focus about what employment equity is about, but I know because you're so near to her and think in the same kind of light that somehow you will bring some of this thinking to her -- that there is a study that was done called Access to Trades and Professions in Ontario. I would ask you if you are prepared to introduce that policy about access to trades and professions.

You talk about merit. There are people there, all those people who have the merit to enter the workplace but have been shut out and some of the professional organizations and all that which have restricted these people. So I'm going to ask you when you rise to say that yes, you will support that being introduced.

Now I'm telling you, too, that when your party, your government starts admitting that there are barriers that restrict people from coming in -- in those four designated groups which have been identified by all the studies, which none of you seem to have read -- there are systemic barriers, break those down and stop telling us, "It's on merit." Merit for those who are inside, but think about those who have the merit who are outside.

Mr Marchese: We're hearing some of the same speeches over and over again. It's interesting. There's material there for a couple of hours in what the member for Brampton South has said. I must say that the member's comments are breathtaking. To say that I am offended by his remarks is an understatement. He says that Bill 79 weakens our social fabric. It is such an irresponsible comment to make. It is so completely irresponsible that it offends me. I don't mind reasonable remarks made by members, but when they are so extravagant as to almost be ludicrous, it's offensive.

Then he says it detracts from economic progress when we hire based on race and disability. It isn't right. Bill 79 did not say, "You will hire someone because they're black." Bill 79 does not say, "You will hire someone because they're disabled." Bill 79 says, "Make sure that you represent your workforce." It doesn't say in fact that you should hire the unqualified people, but hire the qualified ones. That's what it says: "Hire those who are qualified. They are underrepresented."

He goes on to say that the quota system is dangerous. This is not a quota system. He does not tell the truth about this bill, and he knows it. He talks about people wanting to succeed by their own merit. That's exactly what people of colour want to do: succeed by their own merit. What they want to do is to protect their individual rights and their collective rights, and this government, through Bill 8, is destroying all of that, destroying all of it. That is immoral.

Mr Joseph Spina (Brampton North): Mr Speaker, on a point of order: He has accused the member of not telling the truth.

Mr Marchese: Mr Speaker, he's taking some time away from me, but I refer you to the clerk to indicate that what I've said was not that, and he knows it.

Mr John R. Baird (Nepean): I'll say to the honourable member for Brampton South that that was a fine speech, in the very best traditions of this place, very well researched and a varied discussion and debate on whether there are quotas maintained in the bill.

The first step: Do research. The second step: Develop the numerical targets. And the third step is the $50,000 fine if you don't live up to it. If that's not a quota, I don't know what is.

In response to the member for Brampton South's speech, I can only say to him that those in our society most opposed to quotas, those who were most offended by the bill of the previous government, were probably those, regrettably, in the designated groups themselves.

I know members on my side of the House heard this from doorstep to doorstep to doorstep as they went campaigning in the last campaign. They told me and my colleagues that these quotas offended them, that they lessened their legitimate successes, that it hurt their dignity and questioned their very self-worth. I think that is a real statement to make, that those of us on this side of the House heard that on doorstep after doorstep. It was a tremendously big issue during the last election campaign.

We made a very clear and unequivocal commitment to follow through to repeal this legislation which we believed was wrong.

The member for Brampton South spoke of a sea of individuals. We on this side of the House believe that Ontario's greatest resource is its people and that we must deal very effectively and very strongly with discrimination. That's why we have a strong Human Rights Commission, a strong Human Rights Code, that will continue to be able to deal with this issue. Discrimination, as the member pointed out, is illegal in Ontario, and the Human Rights Commission is put there explicitly for this purpose, to redress these situations.

I again commend the member for Brampton South on a most excellent speech.

Mrs Marion Boyd (London Centre): In response to the member's question, one could speak for a couple of hours. He certainly took my breath away, I can tell you.

I'd like to respond to just one of the comments he made. He went on and on about how his government believes in carrots, that it doesn't believe in coercion. Well, he should tell his Minister of Community and Social Services that.

One of the issues around employment equity is that the only place where the people who are in the designated groups are overrepresented is among the poor and those who are unable to obtain employment.

I should tell the honourable member that it is one of the ways in which we enable people to become self-sufficient and not depend on social assistance: through a carrot, a carrot we all share as employers and employees, by looking at ourselves and the systemic discrimination we practise in our own workplaces. We practise systemic discrimination in this workplace often.

One of the things we all learned as we went through the process of Bill 79 was how to recognize barriers that may not seem to us, when we are privileged, to be barriers. When we are fortunate enough to be among the overclass in this society, we very often don't see what is a barrier to another person seeking employment. The whole issue around the employment equity bill is to help all of us together, as a community, to recognize the way we discriminate against one another, whether we mean to or not.

What you are proposing is to put everything back into a fault system, where someone has to recognize that they've been discriminated against, make a complaint and carry that complaint through a very cumbersome process. That will never solve systemic discrimination. It is in itself a barrier to the end of that discrimination.


Mr Clement: I thank the honourable members for their incisive commentary on my comments. I would like to respond first to the member for Scarborough North with his question relating to barriers to access to trades and professions. I can respond in the House that in fact this is of grave concern to the minister and myself. Certainly, from our perspective, there is a role for this government to play, to work in that area to remove some of those barriers, and we would very much appreciate his suggestions.

Now, the honourable member also suggested that I haven't read all the reports, that I'm somehow ignorant of the various reports that led to that calamitous piece of legislation. I can assure the House that I have read the Cornish report in its entirety and I absolutely disagree with everything, in its entirety, as found in that report. It's an immoral report. It is a report that brings everything in the wrong direction. It does not really help those whom it professes to help.

I was called irresponsible by the member for Fort York. He calls it not a quota bill. I say otherwise. I would refer you to Ontario regulation 390/94, subsection 17(4) of that regulation under the Employment Equity Act, which requires the employer to provide a list of numerical goals described in section 18 that would be achieved during the term of the plan, and section 5, a description of the timetable for implementing the measures and achieving the numerical goals. Numerical goals by any other name are job quotas.

The honourable member for London Centre said the designated groups are overrepresented among the poor. I agree, and that is why we need jobs and opportunity in this province, tax cuts in this province, an end to government being the solution to everything in this province. That is why the status quo will not work and that's why this government was elected.

The Deputy Speaker: The Chair recognizes the member for Fort William.

Mrs Lyn McLeod (Leader of the Opposition): As I rise to speak on this legislative proposal from the government, I can only suggest that this government's decision to repeal the Employment Equity Act and any and all other related legislation is yet another example of a pendulum swinging from one side to the extreme on the other side. It is another issue, I suggest to you, on which this government is very quick to act to undo something, but it has no plan, and I suspect it has very little will to act, to put something better in place.

All we've had from the Minister of Citizenship, Culture and Recreation to date are more of the empty words and the meaningless commitments to do something some day, and I suggest that those kinds of empty words and meaningless commitments are becoming this government's specialty.

There is no sense of balance or moderation in this government's agenda on any issue, and we see that again as they act to repeal all the work that has been done over the years to ensure greater equity in the workplace.

Once again, this government's in a hurry to prove that it can do one part, just one part, of what it said it would do. Unfortunately, the part they're anxious to show they can do is the destructive part, the part that's easy, because repealing something that others have put in place is easy. Creating a new program, implementing a new program is much more difficult, and this government has not even begun to act on that part of its commitments, whether on employment equity or in any other area. You wonder, on this as is in all other areas, if we will ever see the other, constructive part of the commitments.

This is a government in a hurry -- in a hurry to show how tough it is. Certainly it's a government, as we have seen time and time again, that is in much too much of a hurry to hear from anyone who might have a different view of what's needed. They are in too much of a hurry or else they lack the courage to hear from those who might disagree.

So the government House leader called for debate on this legislation, legislation that affects the very principles of equality which define our society in this province and this country -- he called for debate on that legislation on a day when our hearts and our minds were focused on our concerns for the future of our country. The House leader called for debate on this legislation last Thursday. He called for debate with two hours' notice. They had introduced the legislation with no notice at all, and then called for the debate on a day when clearly we were all focused on issues of importance for all of us.

I think this government clearly wants to do this deed with as little notice being given -- or, hopefully, as little notice taken -- as possible. I wonder if they are perhaps just a little bit ashamed of what they're doing, or are they simply afraid of the opposition?

I would like to look at the record of this government on listening to people who might have a different view. We've seen the government cancel consultations on hospital amalgamation, as the member beside me from Ottawa Centre knows well. We've seen them cancel the consultations right across this province on school board amalgamation. We've seen them ram through the labour legislation with no hearings at all. The Minister of Education and Training now, who cancelled those hearings on school board amalgamation, acknowledged, he actually acknowledged, that even if they'd had the public consultations, they weren't going to listen to anyone who came forward anyway because the only people who might come forward in a consultation would just be dismissed as representing special interests.

I expect that if it comes to consultation on employment equity legislation, this government would consider women and visible minorities and aboriginal people as simply having vested interests, because this employment equity bill, or non-employment-equity bill, as it might be better called, will affect them. So women and visible minorities and aboriginals will not likely be listened to because they will just be vested interests clearly affected by the government's actions.

Then there's the disabled, the other group which will be so profoundly affected by this government's bill. They would most certainly be seen as a special-interest group, and the disabled would be doubly suspect because not only are they a special-interest group, a group with a vested interest affected by the legislation, but this is a group that has already had the nerve, the sheer temerity, to express their concern about the way this government has already hurt them. So they are doubly suspect and most certainly not likely to be listened to in any consultation.

So in entering this debate today, I want to call publicly on all those who are concerned, deeply concerned, about our ability to make progress in ensuring a more truly equal opportunity to make their views known, whether this government wants to hear from them or not. Because we know, even as we rise to participate in the debate, that this legislation is going to pass. Government guarantees that with its majority, and when this particular piece of legislation passes, the fact is that we're simply going to be left with nothing. We cannot amend the legislation to improve it, because there will be no legislation. We'll be dependent on the goodwill of this government to take the steps that are needed to provide support and encouragement and assistance for people who seek a more equal opportunity and for employers who want to offer a more equal opportunity because they believe in it in principle and because it makes sense in practice.

We have absolutely no indication at all from the government that there is any particular will to take the next steps, so it's a little frightening to think that any future progress is dependent on the goodwill of this government. We just have to look at the details of what the minister has said they plan to do to see that there is little will to act, because I have to emphasize the word "plan." The minister, when she introduced this legislation, said she would develop "a sensible, cost-effective, equal opportunity plan that will support employer and employee efforts to remove workplace barriers and share equal opportunity expertise."

I have no idea what the minister meant when she said she was going to develop this kind of "sensible, cost-effective, equal opportunity plan," and we may never know what it means, because right now all it is is just words. They're only now working on a plan. I ask the minister very directly, if you're only now working on a plan, why are you in such a hurry to repeal the legislation? Why wouldn't you wait to repeal the legislation until your alternative plan is available?

It seems to me the two things fit together. You repeal the legislation you think isn't working and you put in place your plan that you believe, as the minister says, is a better, sensible, cost-effective, equal opportunity plan. But in fact this government is in too much of a hurry to undo, to show how tough it is, to take the time to put its plan in place first.


If they're afraid that the new legislation would have an impact they're worried about, they could suspend the implementation of the old law. They don't need to bring in legislation, focus our time and our energies in defending the government's desire to put nothing in place. They could suspend the old legislation, bring in their plan and allow us to debate whether their plan is indeed sensible and cost-effective and a good equal opportunity plan.

The government's not going to give us that opportunity. All the government is going to let us debate is whether it's okay to have nothing in place. I don't think you can take away everything and put nothing in its place. I happen to believe that truly is irresponsible government.

Now this minister describes this bill as "a major step towards building a province" -- I'm quoting the minister when she introduced the bill. She described it as "a major step towards building a province in which all Ontarians are afforded equal opportunity in employment."

But I suggest to her that this bill doesn't build anything, and it is certainly not a step towards anything, not without an alternative plan in place, and with no demonstrable evidence of a government that's prepared to keep its broader commitment. Without that, this can only be seen as a giant step backward.

During the election campaign we did see what looked like a reasonable proposal from the Conservatives. In fact, as I looked at it during the election campaign, it looked remarkably like the employment equity proposals that we were putting forward. I suggest to the government members, who are unable to look behind the advertising that their government put out in campaigning, the six-point plan, the backgrounder plan that went behind those rather simplistic statements that they liked so much when they were campaigning -- I sort of thought that maybe the plan that was put out in the backgrounder, the six-point plan, carried some sense of commitment on the part of Mr Harris, who is now the leader of the government, and all those who were seeking to be elected along with him. So I think it's legitimate to suggest that the government had the makings of a plan, and I'm surprised that it hasn't brought it forward.

Let's look at the six-point plan. That plan clearly said that a Conservative government, a Mike Harris Conservative government, would help employers develop plans and remove systemic barriers to employment.

Hon Charles Harnick (Attorney General, minister responsible for native affairs): That is exactly what we are going to do.

Mrs McLeod: That six-point plan, I say to the Attorney General, did not say that government should just get out and let employers decide what they were going to do. It said you would help develop plans and remove barriers, and without a plan I don't believe there is any evidence that this government will ever do anything to help employers put those plans in place and deal with the systemic barriers that exist.

In fact the government has gone even further than simply repealing the legislation that the New Democrats brought in. They've gone even further in undoing the kind of good that has been done in furthering employment equity, because they had to go beyond repealing the NDP act and they had to repeal those sections of the Police Services Act that require every police force to put employment equity plans in place. Now, that simply required police forces to put plans in place. It was legislation that was passed in June 1990. It's legislation that has supported increased equity in the police forces across the province.

I notice that when the Solicitor General got up to say that they were going to repeal these sections of the Police Services Act, he said you do not need legislation to develop "a barrier-free, discrimination-free policing service," and he went beyond that and he said that "We" -- and I assume when the members of the government say "we," and particularly when members of the cabinet say "we," they do mean the government. They mean, "We, the government, are going to act."

"We will ensure that police forces continue...to operate in accordance with the Police Services Act" to "be sensitive" -- and again I'm quoting the minister, the Conservative minister who introduced this -- "be sensitive to the pluralistic, multicultural and multiracial character of Ontario society," "as they have done admirably over the past few years" -- and I stress the fact, "as they have done admirably over the past few years."

The Solicitor General said that police forces have "adopted race relations policies," they've "put into place barrier elimination practices," and he recognized the importance of the diversity that we now find in our police forces in achieving the transition to community policing.

Now I wonder, would any of that have happened if those particular sections of the act had not been in place? And if it is already happening, as the Solicitor General assured us it is, that police forces have been following admirably the provisions of the act, and he was praising the way in which they have become more representative of the diversity of our population, then why is it necessary to repeal the legislation? I'm not sure what problem the government is trying to address.

Then we see the fact that the legislation goes even further than that. It doesn't just undo the good that has been done, the attempts that have been made in the past to provide support for greater equity in the workplace; it actually penalizes employers who are already developing their own plans. It forces them to destroy the data that have been gathered. Again, I have to ask, what is this Tory government so afraid of?

I quote the clause from the act:

"Every person in possession of information collected from employees exclusively for the purpose of complying with part III of the Employment Equity Act, 1993 shall destroy the information as soon as reasonably possible after this act comes into force."

We all know, and surely the members opposite know, that many employers have implemented or they're in the process of implementing employment equity plans because they want to ensure that they are making the most of their human resources, that they are not neglecting the development or failing to benefit from the full potential of their workforce.

Now the data that they have been gathering voluntarily because they are committed to employment equity within their own workplace, because they do believe it in principle and because they believe it makes sense, might also have been used to implement employment equity under the act. Why would you want to duplicate the collection of data for the purposes of the act? Does all of that work now have to be sacrificed? I have to ask why.

Even if data on the workforce have been gathered exclusively for the purpose of the act, what possible danger is there in allowing employers to keep the data? Have they no faith at all in what employers across this province would do with the data? Is the government afraid that employers might voluntarily proceed to put employment equity plans in place? Do they want to make it simply too costly to proceed by forcing every employer to redo all of the work that's been done?

If the government can tell me where the sense is in all this, I would appreciate some clarification, because this is one where I can find no possible explanation, even if I try, as difficult as it might be, to put myself in the ideological world of the members opposite. I can't understand why this makes any sense to them.

This goes so far beyond the political decision to repeal the act. It is clearly deliberate. It's not an accident. There's no way the minister is going to be able to come back and say that this was yet another drafting error, which the government is so prone to.

Mr Gerretsen: Don't bet on it.

Mrs McLeod: Right. As the member for Kingston and The Islands says, "Don't bet on it." We have seen further stretches of common sense in this government's hands. But there's no explanation for this seemingly inexplicable piece of this legislation.

Another part of the Tory six-point plan was to replace what they call the discrimination of quotas with the merit principle. I think, in fairness to our colleagues in the third party, we should acknowledge the fact that the act, as it currently stands, did not impose quotas. It was the requirement, and members opposite have noted this, to present numerical targets that could be easily implemented as quotas that was the concern. It was the fact that the government was prepared to back up those numerical target plans with financial penalties that led to the concern that numerical targets in fact would become imposed quotas.

But the real problem was not what was written into the legislation; the real problem was what people feared from the New Democratic Party government in the implementation stage. And I do think, in fairness, that calling this new bill the Job Quotas Repeal Act is simply a cynical political tactic, and again it is not worthy of responsible and thoughtful government.


Having acknowledged a concern that the members of the third party would want acknowledged, there is also no doubt that we saw, over past months and years, blatant exclusionary approaches in what the NDP government did in advertising. There's no doubt in my mind that that kind of blatant exclusionary approach created fertile ground for this extreme Conservative reaction. But I do not believe that it was necessary and is necessary to repeal this legislation in order to ensure the primacy of the merit principle. The act could have been amended to make it clear that quotas cannot and will not be imposed, but what this government leaves us with now is again nothing.

I suggest to the members opposite who want to make every single speech about quotas and about the importance of the merit principle that the merit principle is not and will not be ensured in the absence of a plan to enhance equal opportunity. There are too many capable people who are denied a chance because there are real barriers, both blatant and subtle, that prevent their full opportunity to be considered for a job or a promotion.

I believe, in the absence of a plan to provide support to employers, to understand what the barriers are and to address them -- the very kind of plan that this government supposedly was committed to bringing in -- the workplace loses a chance to know who is truly best. How can you have a merit principle if you have no sure way of knowing who is truly the best?

I suggest that word-of-mouth hiring does not ensure equal opportunity to apply and to be considered for a job or a promotion, and I suggest that internal hiring policies don't expand the representativeness of the workplace. Neither situation constitutes deliberate discrimination. It is discrimination that is built into the system. That's what we call systemic discrimination. It is never recognized as discrimination; it is just the way things have always been done.

The member for St Catharines, I noticed in the debate on Thursday on this bill, raised a concern about the role that nepotism can play in public sector hiring. The member for St Catharines actually suggested that it might be possible that nepotism could get in the way of the merit principle the government claims it's committed to.

I think that the member for St Catharines may well have valid concerns about nepotism, but it may not be nepotism that's a major problem. As I understand nepotism, it's the hiring of members of the same family. But I do think that the problem we could have that will very much get in the way of the merit principle for this government is something called "cronyism." It's a question of who you know, and it seems to me that Tories know Tories best.

In raising this concern about whether cronyism, the way things have always worked, just might get in the way of the merit principle, I refer to the expertise -- I think probably the inside knowledge of what she should be concerned about in her government -- to the question that was asked by the member for Mississauga South, who's the chair of the government caucus and who I think must share the same concern that we have on this side of the House, because she very recently asked the Chairman of Management Board, a member clearly of her cabinet, for an assurance that as this government proceeds with its apparently extensive and never-ending plans to privatize everything government does, the new contracts that are going to be handed out will not just go to Conservatives. In fact her specific words were, on October 25, "Please assure me that this isn't going to be some kind of fire sale for friends of the government."

Now, if the member for Mississauga South, who is a member of the government -- in fact a senior member of the government caucus, the chair of the government caucus -- shares that concern, then we have to ask the question. It is rather strange for a member of the government to use question period to ask for that kind of an assurance from one of her own ministers. I can only assume that she's genuinely worried about it and that she somehow got past the House leader in question period to be able to ask the question.

If anybody is shocked to find that one of their own members asked the Chair of Management Board whether or not this would be a fire sale for friends of the government, I direct them to Hansard of October 25, in which the question is clearly stated and the response and assurance hopefully given. So clearly the concern was there for the member, a matter of Hansard record.

This government has also said, the minister said when she presented her legislation, that employment equity legislation -- of course she's not presenting legislation; she's presenting the repeal of legislation. It's hard to know how to describe what the government is doing when it's non-legislation it's presenting. But as she presented her bill she said that employment equity legislation is not needed because discrimination is illegal. That was the sole defence this government offered for presenting this bill: We don't need it because discrimination's illegal.

I suggest that it is not enough to ensure that there is no discrimination, as basic as that is to equality. It is simply not enough. Discrimination was made illegal in 1981, it was prohibited by the Human Rights Code, but I don't think that who gets hired and who gets promoted has changed very significantly since then.

I won't take time to read a lot of statistics into the record -- I'm sure there will be a lot of statistics offered during the course of this debate -- but I do have some that I think are significant from a 1991 report on employment equity in the public service of Ontario, where I think we would all agree the example of government commitment to employment equity should be set: in the people who are hired and the people who are promoted within the Ontario public service.

In 1991, 77% of all women in the Ontario public service were employed in 10 of 124 OPS occupational groups. Now, those groups employ only 48% of all OPS employees, but 77% of those employees were women. Twenty-two per cent of all jobs were in the office administration group; 42% of all women were employed in the office administration group. Women represented 47% of the Ontario public service workforce. It doesn't sound like a bad number if you're just looking at numbers, until you look at the jobs women were in and until you look at the fact that with 47% of the Ontario public service workforce being female, only 26% of women were in the executive compensation plan.

We see the same kinds of statistics for racial minorities. Racial minorities represented 12% of all Ontario public service employees, but only 5% of those were in the executive compensation plan -- only half, numerically half of the total workforce.

I think statistics are equally telling when we look at disabled and aboriginal people in the Ontario public service, but the fact is that the numbers of people employed are so small that it's difficult to get a sense of the magnitude of the problem.

If we look beyond the Ontario public service and we look across the broader public and private sectors in Ontario, again using the 1991 census figures, we see that 71.6% of all clerical workers in Ontario were female, that 67.6% of all sales and service workers in Ontario were women, and -- a telling figure -- 17.7% of senior managers were women, obviously as opposed to 82.3% of senior managers who were men.

Hon Mr Harnick: I wonder who was in the government before that. You were the one who left those numbers.

Mrs McLeod: Those are just a few statistics, but I think they suggest that it is simply a fact that making discrimination illegal is not enough. I say to the members opposite that they must understand that there are barriers, barriers beyond outright discrimination, that must be addressed if we're to make progress towards truly equal opportunity.

The Attorney General interjects that other governments have not yet solved the problem of equal opportunity in the workplace, and I say amen to the Attorney General. We have not yet adequately addressed the problem of how we provide for truly equal opportunity in the workplace, and that is why it is reprehensible for any government in 1995 to simply repeal what has been done and put nothing in its place to address the real barriers, and we see nothing from this government. In fact, not only do we see nothing --

Hon Mr Harnick: That is not true, Lyn. There is something coming and you know it.

Mrs McLeod: The Attorney General says something is coming.


The Acting Speaker (Mr Gilles E. Morin): Order. Take your seat, please. I'd just like to remind you that if you want to heckle, you have to do so from your seat, and that applies to everyone.


Mrs McLeod: Having said that it's not enough to make discrimination illegal, that that's not enough to deal with the real systemic barriers to equal opportunity, I go further than that in suggesting that this government is not even ready to deal with the problems of discrimination itself. This government and this minister said in introducing the bill that they are going to address the problems of the Human Rights Commission, but only, and again I quote, "in the longer term." I have to wonder how long that particular term is going to be.

The Conservatives were much less hesitant about their commitment to deal with discrimination when they were campaigning, because one of the key points in that six-point plan they put out was "to show leadership through a policy of zero tolerance for discrimination in government hiring and promotion." Now the minister, last Thursday, was talking about employers and employees having the responsibility to create an environment in which there is zero tolerance for discrimination, once again passing the responsibility for solving the problems on to someone else, which is another early trademark of this government.

I wonder where the leadership is from the government. They certainly didn't set much of an example when they fired four members of the Social Assistance Review Board -- and members will remember that they claimed that they were cutting costs when they fired four members of the Social Assistance Review Board -- and then turned around and hired --

Mr Crozier: Got to make room for Tories.

Mrs McLeod: Exactly. They hired long-time Tories to replace them.

We've raised this issue in the House, but today I raise it because I wonder whether that is an abdication of this government's supposed commitment to zero tolerance for discrimination. I suspect the government would say: "No, no, no. We're not abdicating our commitment. How can the member for Fort William possibly be talking about hiring Tories for the Social Assistance Review Board as being an abdication of a commitment to zero tolerance for discrimination? We're not discriminating. This is just the way it's always been done." Well, exactly. It is the way things have always been done, and that's what systemic discrimination is all about.

The Conservatives said in the campaign that they would help victims of discrimination by reforming the Human Rights Commission. They also promised, and this is a promise in writing, to redirect a portion of the money that would be saved by winding down the Employment Equity Commission and redirecting that to the Human Rights Commission. But on Thursday, I noticed, the minister talked about her new plan being cost-effective. She never mentioned -- I don't understand why -- redirecting a portion of the savings to the Human Rights Commission. I noticed that the member for Brampton South in speaking earlier this afternoon said that his government would save $8 million with this legislation; there was no talk from the member for Brampton South about how much of that $8 million was going to be redirected to the Human Rights Commission.

Maybe this is because the reform of the Human Rights Commission is only going to be done over "the longer term," whatever that means. I get the feeling that this promise of redirecting funding is like the promise not to cut health care: It's going to be one of making the cuts now and waiting until the next election before we ever see the reinvestment of the dollars. I suggest that just as health care is needed now, reform to the Human Rights Commission is needed now.

The fact is that as important as it is to deal effectively with discrimination and as reprehensible as I believe this government's failure to take the action it said it would take to reform the Human Rights Commission and redirect funding to it is, the gains in equity over the past years have not been the result of anti-discrimination laws. They are the result of affirmative action programs, affirmative action programs that had been mandated and funded by the central government.

I have to wonder what kind of commitment this government is going to make to affirmative action and, even more importantly perhaps, what kind of dollars they're prepared to provide to this. We know they're winding down the Employment Equity Commission. We wonder whether they're also going to collapse the Centre for Disability and Work in the Ministry of Labour -- or maybe that is already gone and we just haven't learned about that yet. But it was there to provide advice to employers, supportive advice, on how the employers could address barriers for the disabled.

We know that over the years the women's directorate has provided effective consultation on the change agent program. They've worked with employers like the Canadian Manufacturers' Association, Ontario Hydro and Westinghouse to develop employment equity plans. This is the kind of positive, supportive role that government can and should be playing. I wonder if there will be any positive capacity for consultation or support after this government is done with its cost cutting.

The Conservatives' six-point plan -- and I have to keep coming back to this, because I perhaps naïvely believed that that background commitment of what a Mike Harris government would do on employment equity carried some commitment. So I come back to it and recognize that the six-point plan also talked about the importance of training to give people the skills they need and the education of employers so that discriminatory practices would be recognized.

I really do believe -- it's one of the reasons I thought maybe the Conservatives would be on the right track with employment equity -- that those kinds of actions would be a step in the right direction in dealing with barriers to equity. We can only hope that if we ever see a plan, education and training will indeed be part of it.

But all we've had to this point from the Minister of Education and Training is the repeal of the sections of the act which allowed the Minister of Education to require school boards to develop and implement employment equity policies for designated groups. No talk about education, no talk about training -- just more repeal of existing legislation.

This legislation was permissive; it was permissive to the minister. It gave permission to the minister to require school boards to put plans in place. I wonder, did the government think it was even too dangerous to leave the Minister of Education with permission to deal with employment equity?

Mr Crozier: It's dangerous to leave that minister with anything.

Mrs McLeod: It could be.

The minister, in introducing this bill, said it would be good news to the workers and the entrepreneurs of this province. Well, I fail to see how it is good news to workers when it offers nothing constructive. If it is only supposed to be good news for entrepreneurs -- because I notice they did not say "employers"; they said "entrepreneurs" -- if it is only supposed to be good news for entrepreneurial employers, why were they in such a hurry to scrap employment equity in the public sector, which was in fact the only sector where implementation was to be in place in September of this year? Again I suggest that this is a government in a hurry but a government with no idea of where it's going. It hurries only when it runs backwards, which is the only direction it understands.

Maybe that's the only direction it wants to go or intends to go: straight backwards. Maybe it sees no role for government at all, other than to get out of the way of those entrepreneurs. That is not a view of government that I could ever accept, because I happen to believe that government does have a role to play in supporting and encouraging and ensuring fairness and equal opportunity for each of its citizens.

It seems to me that there is a big difference between respecting the merit principle and resigning ourselves to a survival-of-the-fittest world, because those of us who reject the view that only the strongest and the most fortunate should survive and flourish believe that a lot of human potential could be realized if we support its recognition and development.

I do not believe that the route to real equality lies in a quota-based approach. I never have, and I have spoken publicly on this often. To me, quotas are a guaranteed access, and I don't believe that's what people in the designated groups want. Women and visible minorities and aboriginal people and the disabled all want an equal opportunity. They don't want to be given positions because they're needed to fill up a numerical target. That approach carries with it an implicit assumption that members of the targeted groups would not be successful if they were given an equal chance, and that assumption implies an acceptance of inequality, which I will not accept.

There's no question that people are different. They have different skills and aptitudes and interests. But they are not unequal by virtue of gender or race or disability.

I also believe that a quota approach is the wrong direction because it sets people up for failure. No one wants to be given a job that they're not ready to handle or are not particularly suited to. No one enjoys the experience of failure, and deliberately creating the conditions for someone's failure is truly unfair.

I think what people in the designated groups want is a recognition that there are barriers to having an equal chance to be considered and to compete, and they want government to be active in addressing those barriers.

The barriers are different for different groups. The barriers faced by women, for example, are very different from those that are faced by visible minorities. The disabled face quite different challenges unique to each disability. The barriers that face a particular group differ in different workplaces and different geographical areas. The concerns of aboriginal people who live on first nations reserves in southern Ontario I know are not the same as those from reserves in my part of the province, in northwestern Ontario. There is no blanket approach that will address the concern about barriers.


More than that, the barriers themselves are often subtle, rather than blatant. Some barriers that somehow we have to deal with are the result of persistent stereotypes. It has been suggested that some of those stereotypes have even now gone into code so the stereotype isn't so obvious. I just use one example. Women being not tough enough, for example, is code for the old stereotypes of all women as soft and emotional and indecisive. "We need an assurance of your long-term commitment," I suggest is code for, "We know you're going to take time off work to have a baby." I think we've made some progress. I think it's no longer acceptable to say, "Back to the kitchen, baby," so the code becomes more sophisticated and rather more difficult to challenge.

I know that the barriers of stereotypes can only be defeated by exposure and by time and by the success of those who shatter the stereotypes. That is a long, slow process. But there are more tangible, more readily identifiable barriers that can be and must be addressed, with government's help: the barriers of training, the barriers of language, the barriers of access to trades and professions. I know this is a sensitive issue to raise, because we have a report on access to trades and professions which is now I believe at least five years old, and its recommendations have gone absolutely nowhere. The New Democratic Party government, with all of its stated commitments to employment equity, did nothing to deal with the barriers related to access to trades and professions.

I am prepared to have the government bring forward the recommendations of that report and say, "These recommendations simply can't work." If that's the case, then let's bring them forward and acknowledge that they can't work and why they can't work. Let's know at least what the recommendations are and then let's decide to take another route. But simply continuing to ignore the work that's been done and to ignore the fact that there are real barriers to access to trades and professions is something that cannot continue.

We know that there are physical barriers that have to be overcome if physical barriers are not to be forever limiting to the disabled. There are supports to individual learning that have to be provided if learning disabilities are not to continue to be unnecessarily frustrating to those who have finished with their schooling and are ready to take their place in the workforce.

There are issues of how we harmonize work and family responsibilities that have to be resolved if both men and women are going to be able to participate fully in the workplace and pursue careers, and we know, just as again one example of a barrier, that in the absence of affordable child care there is a major barrier to equity. Yet this government is withdrawing support from the provision of new subsidized child care spaces.

The list goes on. I couldn't make it exhaustive and I wouldn't even attempt to. But I hope the point is made, because the point is that government does have a role, and it must be an active role, in helping to identify and address the barriers and ensure that equality of opportunity is there. There is no detailed plan that will fully and adequately address all the issues that can be put in place here in Queen's Park, but the government's plan surely must be to recognize all the areas in which it can play a part and then commit itself to doing what can be done.

We should not be focusing all our energies on end goals and numbers, although we should and must have ways to track the progress that's being made. We don't have to create a cumbersome, costly and ultimately ineffective enforcement mechanism, but rather we should be using the resources of government to work positively and constructively with employers to make progress. I believe in the past that has been happening.

We can and we should find creative ways to provide incentives -- not penalties but incentives -- for achieving more equal opportunity in the workplace. But the real incentive will come with a greater understanding of how much we gain by making the full use of all of the resources of our workforce and all of our human potential.

Employment equity is good for business, as many businesses have already discovered. Left on their own, however, many businesses and people in the public sector workplace will have difficulty identifying the barriers, let alone addressing them, and that's why government must play a part.

So we will anticipate this government's plan, if it ever comes. We will be ready to scrutinize it and to follow the commitment, if any, that this government brings to its implementation. In the meantime, since we have nothing yet but words, we must call on the government for some specific action to reform the Human Rights Commission, to deal aggressively with discrimination, to not force the destruction of information that could be used to enhance equity in the workplace, to not interfere with employers' good intentions, to do more than just get out of the way, and to bring in their plan so that we have some sense that this government is committed to doing something more than just repealing the legislation while it puts nothing in its place.

The Acting Speaker: Questions or comments? The member for Hastings-Peterborough.

Mr Bart Maves (Niagara Falls): Oh, I'm sorry, Mr Speaker. I'm not in my seat.

The Acting Speaker: You're not in your seat, obviously. The member for Scarborough North.

Mr Curling: As I listened to the leader of my party address the issue of employment equity, I hoped the members were listening. I hope that the Conservative Party, who have gone on, as they have said, to destroy, not to build and put a structure in place, start listening to the things that the leader had said. Because the member eloquently put in place the fact what equity's all about, what employment equity's all about.

She reminds us that systemic discrimination is the issue that we speak about, the fact that barriers are placed in front of people just because they are minorities, just because they are women, just because they are aboriginal people and the disabled, and to realize that, as she put the case so eloquently, the fact is, how can you then look at legislation that was in place that addressed these issues and come and talk about readdressing these issues and just come like a search-and-burn approach to things, wipe it all about?

She reminds us about the fact that the Police Services Act had something in place that was working, and if you want to just take an example of that, look back before that was in place in the police service and find out what was happening, who was representing us on the police force. Today, as I say, it is working because of the employment equity legislation, the policy they put in place.

To go back, as she stated, to pull that out after recognizing the fact that it's working tells me: Take another look, and please, as you search and destroy, put something in place that we can call an equity legislation.

Mr Marchese: I find myself agreeing with most of what the leader of the Liberal Party has said. I would remind her, however, and the others that they did vote against Bill 79, and it appears from everything I have heard that they support much of what we did in Bill 79, so I'm delighted to hear that.

I would ask her for some clarification on some statements she made to a ministerial statement a week or two ago -- I'm not sure -- where I heard her say that Bill 79 was a guarantee of a job. I disagreed with that statement because Bill 79 does not guarantee jobs to anyone. It says that you've got to represent your communities, but you still hire based on people's qualification, not based on colour or sex or disability. So I'm not quite sure what she might have meant by it, but she might have an opportunity to clarify that.

With respect to the whole issue of "not penalties, but incentives," I have to disagree strongly with that because it sounds very much like what the Tories are doing. They want to give incentives to people as opposed to penalties. It can't be done. It's all very nice to say, "Please do it, employers; it's nice for you," but it doesn't work on its own. It simply does not. The point of penalties, as we did with the $50,000 fine, is that we gave them goals and timetables, leaving employers to make up reasonable efforts to achieve them. The point of the fine is, if the employer is found not to be making reasonable efforts, they get fined. What is wrong with that? That's an incentive, to say to employers, "We want you to do it, and if you're going to say `absolutely no' to this, there's a penalty." We think that enforcement of those rules and those laws is important to do through such measures.


Mr Maves: I hate to bring up old wounds and tired phrases, but I have to congratulate the Leader of the Opposition. She set a new speed record today for flip-flopping. The first half-hour, she spoke against the repeal of job quota legislation. Then at the start of her second half-hour, she shifted gears and she was against job quotas.

She's also in favour of affirmative action. Well, that strikes me as odd, because I want to let her know about her party's position, apparently, on affirmative action as stated by the member for Oriole. She said:

"People find quotas offensive, I find quotas offensive, and that's not what people want. When you have a quota, what that says is that in order to meet your quota, you will likely hire people who are unqualified. That's a result of the affirmative action programs in the United States." Surprising, Mr Speaker.

I also want to talk to the member opposite about her position in her red book: Ontario Liberals "believe that the guiding spirit in workplace decisions should be merit, not quotas."

What did she say in the leaders' debate, May 18? I quote. The Leader of the Opposition, May 18, says, "I would not continue with an approach that's been taken by the current government, which in my view is based upon a quota by any other name." Therefore, I'm sure she'll vote in favour of the legislation and live up to her campaign commitments. It's only logical that she would do that.

I want to quickly turn to the member for Nickel Belt who offended me and others in the House by continually labelling people in this room. The whole point is that as a society we're trying to get past this member's type of compartmentalized view of society. We will never get past his old-fashioned view if we enshrine the categorization of human beings in our own legislation.

Mr Mario Sergio (Yorkview): It's very hard not to agree with what our leader, Ms McLeod, has been saying with respect to this particular bill. We seem to be getting support from both sides of the House, although the other side refuses to accept exactly what we have been saying all along.

What we have been saying all along is, and this is our policy -- this is what has been our policy during the election period as well -- that if it's broken, you fix it; if it's damaged, you repair it. But the Conservatives are saying, "Let's throw it away completely." This is exactly what they are doing now.

Since the election, what we have seen is, if I may say, this holier-than-thou attitude, and they don't give a darn with respect to the people who cannot speak for themselves.

I think what we have heard during the campaign, and in the Common Sense Revolution, is that we're supposed to be compassionate, understanding and tolerant. If it's not up to us to deliver exactly on that, who is going to do it? Evidently, the people who need the most, they are helpless. So we are here to speak on behalf of those people.

What we have heard from the Common Sense Revolution, it is nothing more than senseless resolution, and every day we are seeing more and more of this. I would say that it is exactly resolutions like this when we have to show tolerance and understanding with respect to the people who cannot help themselves. There are no jobs. Jobs are being lost on a daily basis. So this is going to be even more difficult for those people who need assistance, need help, to find those jobs.

I hope that common sense can become the real, true part when the bill will be introduced, and make some amendments which we have suggested all along.

Mrs McLeod: I realize that for members of the Conservative and New Democratic parties who tend to prefer simplistic, categorical and ideologically driven positions, it is difficult to understand the position of those of us which is less simplistic, categorical and not ideologically driven. So in the few seconds that I have available to me, I will attempt to explain for the members opposite, who I know will continue to raise the evidence of their confusion, exactly what our position is.

I suggest that Liberals have always supported and always will support employment equity. It is only the determination of an NDP government to be driven to ideological extremes that could have ever forced the Liberal Party into voting against employment equity legislation. The record is clear that we opposed the NDP legislation because it did contain the provision of numerical targets, because it was backed by financial penalties and because of our concern that those numerical targets could become the imposition of quotas, and further because it established a costly, cumbersome bureaucracy and, to us, focused on end goals as opposed to providing support to really address barriers to true equity.

I suggest to the member for Niagara Falls that I would be happy to give him many more speeches that I've made on my personal opposition to a quota-based approach, so he can quote them to eternity if he chooses. But when he suggests that my position today is a flip-flop, I am absolutely incredulous, because I remember the ads that said, "Mike Harris will repeal the legislation; Lyn McLeod won't."

Well, I wouldn't, and I wouldn't now, because I happen to believe that legislation is needed to set the spirit and intent for employment equity. I did not support the NDP approach, but I believe their legislation could have been amended. I believe that employment equity is right. I believe it makes sense. I will vote against this government's repeal of the legislation because I do not believe that either extreme works.

The Acting Speaker: Further debate?

Mrs Boyd: I'm pleased to rise to join in the debate because I think it is important for us to discuss the real issues. The Leader of the Opposition raised some questions about code words, and I think that's where I'd like to start. Frankly, the code words, almost all the code words that are used by the Conservatives in their opposition to employment equity, are code words used by those who want to maintain the power and privilege of the status quo and want to prevent those who wish to share in the bounty of our society from having an opportunity to do so.

Employment equity is a concept that is offensive to those who have always enjoyed power and privilege. None of us in this place, who understand about power and privilege, because we all do, think that it is easy to give up power and privilege and to share power and privilege with others. We all know that it's difficult. It is a difficult concept for those who have held power to consider that those who do not hold power have the ability and the right to share that power.

So it's not surprising for us to see very serious fights arise whenever there is a movement afoot to ensure equity among people living in a country like Canada. We shouldn't be surprised at that, those of us who have fought for equity for most of our lives, because we know that the unwillingness to share that power and privilege is part of the way in which our whole institutional life, our political systems, have operated. They have operated to protect those who are powerful and privileged in our society.

It is true that both the Liberals and the Conservatives in this House when we were in government resented more than anything else the legislation that our party brought forward that would have changed that balance. It is not surprising that the Progressive Conservatives, oxymoronic though I continually find that title, the Conservatives are consistently trying to dismantle any legislation which in fact ensured that there would be some sharing of power and privilege in Ontario.

It is a very real issue for us to come into an understanding of. It is very easy for us to deny in our society that in fact there are different classes and that there are some classes in our society that have more power and privilege than others and that class is in fact a reality for this society. It's very easy. We don't talk that way in Canada, in North America in fact; we try to pretend that we are all equal. In fact the American Constitution, if we recall it, says that we "hold" all people to be equal; not that we really believe they are, but that for constitutional purposes we will hold that people are equal.

If we truly believe that human beings are equal and ought to enjoy the same opportunities and the same rights as their neighbours, then part of the job of government surely is to ensure that our laws make that true. That's why we put employment equity into place. We saw that this equal opportunity nonsense that, frankly, had prevailed in this province for over 20 years was making few inroads.


It was under a Conservative government that the whole issue of equal opportunity gained great credence, at the time that our Constitution, guaranteeing equal rights, was put into place. But when you simply use the words, "I am an equal opportunity employer," and you do not make the effort to make sure that the job is known to all those who might have the ability to apply and the training to apply, you do not go out and seek from those groups of people who have no reason to believe that they are welcome to apply, you do not make sure that the questions that are asked by those who are hiring do not immediately discriminate against the possibility of seeing those people as having merit, you do not ensure that there is some way for employers to receive some check on whether or not they are in fact acting as equal opportunity employers, it means nothing.

Quite frankly, we have the best example here in the government of Ontario, where equal opportunity employment has been the watchword for a very long time. But when, as the Leader of the Opposition did, we look at the actual statistics, we know we have failed. We failed as well during our term of office to do anything but make small inroads into that. Why? Mainly because we didn't have information. Mainly because there was no way for us to determine who was applying for jobs, how people found out about jobs, what kind of merit-based questions were there, how in fact the selection process proceeded and, then, how we were doing. We began to set that process into place for ourselves as employers. I don't think that's unreasonable. If we expect people to really believe that they have an equal opportunity in this province, we have to do better than the statistics show we have been doing.

I get very tired of this government talking about employment equity being for special-interest groups only, because when you take all the special-interest groups that they talk about -- women, 52% of the population; the others, up to a total of 65% to 67% of the population, depending on how you cut it -- we are not talking about special-interest groups when we talk about equity-seeking groups, we are talking about special-interest groups when we look at those who are opposed to employment equity, when we look at those who fight against a sharing of privilege and power and real opportunity with others in our society.

So it is absolutely inappropriate for us in this debate to be under any illusion that without some requirement for the gathering of data, without some reporting requirements that can then check on the accuracy of that data, without some way in which those in the equity-seeking groups can in fact be assured that they will be welcome to employ, there is the possibility for those equal opportunities to relate to actual proportional representation in the population.

In the public service in Ontario we see ourselves as having done a great deal in terms of mentoring programs, in terms of the requirements for advertising, in terms of the requirements to distribute among the people of Ontario the availability of appointments and so on. We have done all that partly on a voluntary basis prior to our government and then at the behest of the government during the past five years.

We had only just begun to get equity-seeking groups to believe that there really was a will in government towards their full employment. We had only just begun to show that government was willing to accommodate to those who had special needs, willing to accommodate the workplace, willing to accommodate the employment process to ensure that the merit that people had would in fact be seen during that process and that the kind of discrimination that had been faced by equity-seeking groups over all their history would no longer be experienced by people in the province of Ontario.

So we had a situation where we went out to our communities. There was great discussion about employment equity. Many employers and employees became equally understanding of their role in preventing equity-seeking groups from moving forward, not their personal blame or fault, not that they themselves were discriminating directly but that because of their assumptions, because of their unwillingness to examine the barriers or to appreciate the barriers, in fact were as a group, as a system, discriminating against those who did not have equal opportunity.

What that means is that as we went through that process, in fact a lot of groups who initially opposed the idea of mandatory employment equity became convinced that it was the only way to go. So the repeal of this act, and particularly the prohibition for those operations that had already begun the process, begun to collect the data, begun to work as employer and employees together to really put employment equity into place, is one of the most offensive things in this act.

A big employer in my community, London Life, is very incensed by this action. They have had employment equity plans in place for a long time and are great supporters of them, and they are fearful that the kind of information that they and their employees together have collected in order to measure their success will in fact be destroyed as a result of this bill. That would be a shame.

It would be one of the things that we would certainly be seeking as a bit of the change when and if the minister keeps her promise about public hearings. It may be one of the things that we can do, that when employers have willingly entered into this with their employees and made plans, they at least could continue to follow those plans.

Mr Speaker, I have more time on my speech, and it being almost 6 of the clock, I think this would probably be a good time for us to adjourn the debate.

The Speaker: It being almost 6 of the clock, I adjourn until tomorrow at 1:30 of the clock.

The House adjourned at 1758.