36th Parliament, 1st Session

L020 - Wed 1 Nov 1995 / Mer 1er Nov 1995





























































The House met at 1333.




Mr Dalton McGuinty (Ottawa South): I want to raise an issue that has particular relevance as we approach Remembrance Day. I believe that our collective memory of the wars that touched Canada is weakening and must be strengthened by everyday reminders. Without these reminders, the generations of Canadians alive today, to say nothing of future generations, will fail to appreciate and understand the wartime sacrifices made by our Canadian veterans.

I have a proposal which I feel will help Ontarians preserve their memory of our past wars and the price we paid. I am proposing that the Minister of Transportation name Highway 416, the most important roadway leading to the nation's capital, the Canadian Veterans' Memorial Parkway/Promenade commémorative des anciens combattants canadiens.

This simple gesture will honour our veterans, and for the many who travel this route this name will act as a reminder of a vital part of our history and of the sacrifices made by previous generations of Canadians.

I have obtained support for my proposal from countless veterans' organizations, including the National Council of Veteran Associations in Canada representing over 250,000 Canadian veterans.

If we do not take real steps to remember the devastating impact that wars have had on Canada, we remain in danger of forgetting the lessons to be learned and the terrible price we paid. My proposal to name a highway in honour of our veterans will, at least in some small way, help us to remember.


Mr Peter Kormos (Welland-Thorold): We, along with Canadians from east to west, throughout the territories, witnessed an extremely historic and significant point in the development of this great country on Monday past. I want to speak very specifically to this House about the people in Welland-Thorold and their response to what indeed was a crisis for this country and certainly for Ontarians across this great province.

Some 18%-plus of the residents of the city of Welland are francophones, many, if not most of them, with direct roots in the province of Quebec, and most of those same people with family and friends and colleagues in the province of Quebec.

As well as that significant and important francophone constituency, Welland and Thorold are communities of immigrants, people who have witnessed the breakdown and breakup and destruction of their own countries of origin and have come here to this country and this province prepared to be nation-builders.

I suspect that people in Welland-Thorold were representative of all Ontarians in their great commitment to the process which developed over the course of the last several weeks, in their perseverance in impressing upon friends and relatives and colleagues in the province of Quebec that the people of Quebec are truly a part of this country, and are truly sisters and brothers of Ontarians and residents of every other province.

I want to congratulate those great people of Welland and Thorold.


Mr Dan Newman (Scarborough Centre): I rise today to recognize the excellent work the city of Scarborough is undertaking in order to support and promote small business in Scarborough.

Last week, the city of Scarborough held its annual Small Business Symposium, and I was pleased to be able to attend the opening ceremonies with my colleagues the member for Brampton North and parliamentary assistant to the Minister of Economic Development, Trade and Tourism, Mr Joe Spina, and the member for Scarborough East, Mr Steve Gilchrist.

It has been clear to economists for some time now that the small and medium-sized business sector is the engine that drives job creation in our province. The vital role that these businesses play in our economy is well recognized and accepted.

Why, then, did the previous two governments pay only lip-service to the importance of these businesses while they pursued an agenda which made it almost impossible for small business to start, to grow, to compete and to show a profit? The small business community was drowned by taxes, fees, regulations and paperwork, and now this government must clean up the mess and shed Ontario's image of being an oppressive and hostile environment for businesses to live in.

That is why our government committed itself in the Common Sense Revolution to open up Ontario for business once again by eliminating the employer health tax on small businesses that stifled job creation, by eliminating red tape that smothers business, by freezing Ontario Hydro rates, by reducing Workers' Compensation Board premiums and by repealing the NDP's job-killing labour legislation, Bill 40.

That is our commitment: to ensure that we are a government that creates the climate for small business that it needs to create jobs. That is why it is small business that creates jobs, not government.


Mrs Sandra Pupatello (Windsor-Sandwich): I must go on record today for the people of Windsor-Sandwich in denouncing this government's priority list. With our provincial revenues going down the drain -- by the Tories' own numbers, our revenues are down $500 million to $750 million in this time frame alone -- what have we done in the House so far? We've repealed Bill 40. Today we're going to start talking about the repealing of the Employment Equity Act. I've got to ask these people, what does this have to do with jobs? What does it have to do with creating fertile ground for jobs?

We're trying to talk about what's going to create investment in Ontario. If only this government would work with equal fervour on those issues, some real incentive for business to say, "I think I should hire more people." This government has everyone in retreat, looking out for themselves; in true description, an armoured cocoon.

I urge this government to reconsider its priorities. Save your ideology for your Conservative fund-raising dinners. I'm looking for real work through the Minister of Economic Development and Trade. I'd like to see some work and I urge you to reconsider your priorities.



Mr Rosario Marchese (Fort York): A week ago Monday, I invited parents and child care workers in my riding to a meeting to discuss the crisis in child care that is the direct result of this government's draconian cuts to social programs.


The Speaker (Hon Allan K. McLean): Order. The member for Windsor-Walkerville is out of order. The member for Fort York has the floor.

Mr Marchese: Although the meeting was arranged at short notice and was not widely publicized, over 220 parents and child care workers showed up. These people are desperate about the consequences if funding for regulated, non-profit child care in Ontario is cut.

I'm not going to tell you the heartbreaking stories I heard from single mothers who will be forced on to welfare if they lose their day care space. Instead, I'm going to tell you what parents and child care workers told me, that it's common sense to provide funding for regulated child care because it makes economic sense.

Working parents whose children are in regulated day care are more productive, effective employees because they don't have to worry about the kind of care their children are receiving. Quality child care reduces absenteeism and makes business more competitive.

Furthermore, children in regulated child care get off to a head start because they are challenged and stimulated. They learn social skills because they have a chance to interact with other children in a creative environment. Stable, regulated child care pays off later in improved school performance, fewer behavioural problems and lower dropout rates.

In the long run, cutting funding for non-profit, regulated child care will result in a less skilled, less productive, less competitive workforce. Is this common sense or nonsense?


Mrs Barbara Fisher (Bruce): It is my privilege to congratulate the County of Bruce General Hospital in Walkerton on the opening of its new birthing unit. The official opening took place Friday, October 20, and many members of the community celebrated by visiting the new facility.

The funding for the centre was provided by the hospital foundation. Research and professional expertise for this project were provided by a team of nurses, who studied birthing facilities in Toronto, as well as by local midwives and physicians who support midwifery.

I extend my warmest congratulations to Joanne McKee, the head of nursing at the birthing centre; to Maurice Donnelly, the chair of the hospital board; and to Tracey Culbert, the first mom to enjoy the comforts of the birthing unit.

Women who plan to have their babies at the County of Bruce General Hospital can now look forward to a more comforting environment to experience the birth of their children. Mothers will experience labour, delivery and recovery in the same suite. The baby will remain with the mother until discharge from hospital. Fathers are encouraged to be present and offer support throughout the entire birth.

Although this government does not support stand-alone birthing units, the initiative and insight that the County of Bruce General Hospital has shown by providing a birthing centre within its existing facilities is to be commended. Theirs is an example to be followed by other hospitals with similar goals.


Mr James J. Bradley (St Catharines): The long, exhausting struggle incurred by the residents of the Niagara region in their efforts to have a CAT scanner located in the Niagara region is still a vivid memory for most local residents.

The previous government announced that it would expand the number of MRIs, high-tech diagnostic devices that act like enhanced X-ray machines, in Ontario from 12 to 34, including five more for the planning region that encompasses the Niagara region.

I trust that the government will not involve itself in any unnecessary delays in overseeing the implementation of this resource in the Niagara region, given the dire need for it in the area as well as the preparations that have already been made in anticipation of its arrival.

The St Catharines General Hospital has already drawn up blueprints for the planning and installation of an MRI machine and has actively pursued and hired staff based on their expertise in the field of MRI radiology.

Given the crucial role that MRI technology plays in the diagnosis of soft-tissue ailments related to the brain, central nervous system and other difficult orthopaedic cases, it is unacceptable that we currently have one MRI machine servicing a designated area of over 1.4 million people.

This current arrangement has produced undue hardships on those who have been in need of these kinds of diagnostic treatments. Patients in the Niagara area have been forced to incur great financial hardships through the purchasing of this treatment in the United States or enduring the long and painful waiting periods for treatment here in Ontario.

I call on the Ontario government to act in a caring and expeditious manner.


Ms Shelley Martel (Sudbury East): I want to make the Premier aware of another organization in Sudbury East which has fallen victim to the funding cuts of this Tory government.

The First Baptist Church Teddy Bear Day Care is a non-profit child care centre located in Garson, Ontario. It opened in November 1993 with a licensed capacity of 39 spaces. At present, it has 51 spaces, a staff of nine, and is the only centre available in the community to respond to parental needs.

Teddy Bear Day Care is in jeopardy because the Tories have withdrawn 100% provincial funding of Jobs Ontario child care spaces. The increased cost to the regional municipality of Sudbury to fund the 166 spaces involved at 100% is $209,000 annually.

The region has applied to the Ministry of Community and Social Services for special one-time funding, as they were encouraged to do by the Minister of Municipal Affairs and Housing, but they have not received a reply or any money. As a result, the region has advised Teddy Bear and four other centres that regional funding cannot continue past December 31, 1995. It will be impossible for parents to pick up the 20% loss in revenue and the centre will have to close.

The parents believe that if the Premier would only visit Teddy Bear Day Care, he would understand why it would have to be kept open. They're inviting him to do that when he's in Sudbury on November 24. Since they can't afford to pay $125 a plate to attend the fund-raiser the Premier is at, they're hoping he will come to them. I am inviting him today and will send the invitation to him forthwith.


Mrs Julia Munro (Durham-York): November is Wife Assault Prevention Month in Ontario, a time when Ontarians stress the issue of domestic violence against women.

Violence in all its forms is a tragic reality that faces far too many women. A 1993 Statistics Canada survey indicated at least 50% of Canadian women can expect to be victims of physical or sexual assault at some point in their lives. Almost 60% are afraid to venture out alone in their own communities.

Clearly, we must find new ways of working together to achieve our common goals: prevention of crime and safety of our communities.

This marks the 10th year Ontario has named a month to recognize and address the issue of wife assault. Campaign themes have evolved over time, with early strategies attempting to bring what was then a taboo subject out into the open. Later campaigns increased public understanding of the issue, underscoring that wife assault is a criminal act.

Last year's campaign focused on community responsibility, and everyone was encouraged to speak out and act to end violence against women. This year, we build on that idea of community responsibility by asking everyone -- friends, family, coworkers and neighbours -- to contribute to solving this social problem.


The Speaker (Hon Allan K. McLean): I would like to inform all members that on a daily basis my office is getting phone calls and letters with regard to decorum in this Legislature, and I would ask all honourable members to realize that.


The Speaker (Hon Allan K. McLean): We have a special guest in the gallery today, a former cabinet minister, Mr Richard Allen from Hamilton West. Welcome.



Hon Elizabeth Witmer (Minister of Labour): Later this afternoon, I will introduce a bill which represents the first part of a two-stage initiative to completely overhaul Ontario's financially troubled Workers' Compensation Board.

The reforms which we are introducing today have two fundamental objectives. The first is to change the governance and accountability structure of the WCB. The second objective is to put the system back on a sound financial footing to protect the future needs of injured workers. These reforms will set the stage for further comprehensive reform by our government next spring based on the results of the work being done by the Minister without Portfolio for workers' compensation reform.

We are acting now because the board is on the brink of a financial crisis. The board has an unfunded liability of $11.4 billion. This has skyrocketed in 10 years from $2.7 billion. The unfunded liability calls into question the long-term financial viability of the board and its ability to provide future benefits to injured workers. No other workers' compensation board in the country has an unfunded liability that comes anywhere near the size of Ontario's. Workers in this province and all Ontarians deserve better.


On top of that, Ontario employers already pay the second-highest premiums for workers' compensation in Canada. These excessive rates are a major barrier to job creation, new investment and growth in the province. Prospective investors are well aware of the high cost of workers' compensation in Ontario and the possibility of even higher costs if we don't overhaul the system.

Despite the high premiums, the WCB has also been dipping into its long-term reserves for the past few years to meet its yearly operating expenses. This practice is putting the future needs of injured workers at further risk. It should be noted that injured workers also experience excessive delays when they file their claims, and we must improve service delivery at the board.

Finally, entitlement to benefits has become open-ended, again putting the whole system in jeopardy. The WCB has moved too far from its original mandate as a workplace accident insurance plan. We must, as Manitoba, New Brunswick, Alberta and other provinces have done and are doing, regain control of our workers' compensation system.

Despite the mounting crisis, little has been done in our province to tackle the problems. In large part this is because the governance structure is broken. The bipartite approach introduced by the previous government has paralysed constructive decision-making on a range of crucial administrative, policy and financial issues. One example is the non-implementation of a financial improvement package that would have resulted in a saving of $400 million.

The government cannot let this situation continue. We will ensure the long-term financial health of the system, we will eliminate the board's unfunded liability by the year 2014 and we will return the board to its original concept as a workplace accident insurance plan.

The reforms that I'm introducing later today will begin the process to restore sound management to the board. The bill amends the act to clear the way for a multistakeholder board of directors. The new governance structure will provide for stronger leadership, more effective decision-making and wider representation on the board to include not only employers and employees but also those from the medical and insurance professions, just to name a few.

Until a new board is established, the WCB will be run by the president. Recruitment is under way for a new president who will have the mandate to overhaul the operations of the WCB. Until that process is completed, Kenneth Copeland will remain as the interim WCB president.

The accountability of the WCB will be strengthened through some major changes which ensure that the government has a greater presence in the system. The changes that I will introduce today also ensure the financial accountability and that those measures will be applied to all parts of the system. They will require external value-for-money audits that will ensure that the board's programs and operations are efficient, effective and financially sound.

Our amendments include measures to stem the loss of revenue owed to the WCB, strengthen anti-fraud measures and eliminate abuses of the system. This will help ensure that there are sufficient funds to cover the legitimate claims of injured workers.

The changes I am introducing will begin the overhaul needed to put the board on a sound financial footing. As a result, the board will be well positioned to implement the second stage of the government's WCB reform next year. Work on the second stage is already under way.

My colleague the Minister without Portfolio responsible for Workers' Compensation Board reform, Cam Jackson, is now undertaking a major review of the Ontario workers' compensation system. When his review is completed next spring, it will provide the comprehensive financial package that will stabilize the system over the long term and wipe out the board's unfunded liability.

Mr Jackson is reviewing the current system for compensating long-term permanent disabilities, the existing adjudication and appeals structure, and alternative approaches to delivering the services. The package will also include measures to address our commitments on benefit levels, waiting period, entitlement and assessment rates.

Today we are moving ahead carefully and deliberately to fix the many problems facing the board. We do not want to repeat the mistakes of the past. Our reforms will be sustainable and lead to long-term stability. Our consultations to date reinforce our view that quick fixes or further experimentation won't work.

The changes that I'm bringing today are just the beginning. They are, however, crucial to launching the process of restoring the long-term financial viability of the Workers' Compensation Board and making the system work more effectively for both workers and employers in this province.

Mr Alvin Curling (Scarborough North): Mr Speaker, I'm just seeking unanimous consent that Cam Jackson, the parliamentary assistant, could add his comment to this very important topic.

Interjections: Agreed.

Hon Cameron Jackson (Minister without Portfolio [Workers' Compensation Board]): It would have been a lot longer.

The Speaker (Hon Allan K. McLean): Responses. The member for Windsor-Walkerville.

Mr Dwight Duncan (Windsor-Walkerville): Well, here we go, Mr Speaker.

Change. They talk about change. Let's talk about governance for a moment. There's less here than meets the eye. From a government that promised change, today we get more of the same.

Take, for example, the new board of directors. Sure, there'll be representation from labour and management, but you don't specify how many; it doesn't provide for equal representation.

More importantly, they're still going to do it by order in council. They promised to end the system of patronage at the WCB. This bill enshrines the old Tory proverb: It's not what you know, it's who you know. I guess your friends all got to you. Shame on you.

On accountability: Somehow the minister thinks that simply amending the purpose clause will eliminate decades of incompetence and mismanagement at the board. Life is only that simple in the Common Sense Revolution.

The minister talks about value-for-money audits. Minister, these value-for-money audits ought to be public documents, and I suggest that it ought to be the Legislature that determines where those audits will happen and not the government.

The act says the Minister of Labour may determine which program will be reviewed. Again I say to you, it ought to be the Legislature that reviews which program will be reviewed.

What about fraud and abuse? Minister, your initiative today does nothing to strengthen it. Your initiative today is nothing but window dressing. It won't reduce fraud one bit, and the government knows it.

All they're doing today is enshrining in the act what the WCB is already doing; a policy that's been in existence at the WCB for many years. Minister, you have no real solutions. You're not even going to set up a 1-800 line like you've done in so many other instances.

I never want to hear another Tory whine about WCB fraud ever again, because when they had the chance to do something they failed to deliver the goods. From this day forward, every single penny of fraud and waste and abuse will be on this minister's head.


Finally, on health and safety: Last week I asked the minister whether she was washing her hands of responsibility for enforcing the Occupational Health and Safety Act, and the minister wouldn't rule it out. Minister, today we see why. Today you lay the groundwork for moving health and safety inspectors from the Ministry of Labour to the WCB. Minister, the workers of this province need to know that they'll still be protected by your inspectors if they end up in the swamp of the WCB.

Then there's what the minister didn't say. You promised to reduce WCB premiums by 5%. There's been no action. You said you were going to deal with the unfunded liability. How? Again, no action. You said you wouldn't appoint senior management through patronage. This legislation enshrines it.

Finally, I ask the government, who's in charge? Who's in charge? In the minister's Alexander Haig statement in July she said she was in charge. In her August 28 letter, she said again that she was in charge. Today her parliamentary assistant said that Minister Jackson's in charge. Who's in charge over there? Who's really responsible? Who's really responsible for the WCB? Who is it? Clearly, we have a two-headed monster that's going in different directions, neither one of them willing to take real responsibility.

More broken promises. Like their health care promise not to cut spending; they broke that promise. Not getting a magnetic resonance imager for St Catharines; they broke that promise. Not delivering 10% of casino profits; they broke that promise. Cancelling the Hamilton courthouse; they broke that promise. Broken promises, every one of them. How many more are there going to be? You'll all be held accountable some day.

My community waits and listens for real and meaningful WCB reform. When will it come? We're all waiting for that. In this day and age, we need a government that will keep its word, that when it says it will do something, it does it. You've all failed miserably, and what you've done is put this province into ruin and you'll pay for it. Shame on you. Shame on all of you.

Mr David Christopherson (Hamilton Centre): I would begin by first of all saying that --


The Speaker: Order.

Mr Christopherson: Do the Tory backbenches want to just calm down a bit and give us at least a moment to comment? I mean, you jammed through your legislation yesterday. At least give us a chance to comment on your new piece of anti-worker legislation today.

I want to begin by first of all saying that I disagree somewhat with my colleague from the Liberal caucus, to the extent that he believes this is not much of a bill and doesn't change much. The fact of the matter is that it does hold a fundamental shift that's important to workers in this province, and the fundamental shift is, we're moving away from a board that has equal representation of employers and workers, back to the multi-stakeholder board that was in effect for decades, and in fact that was the model that got us into all this trouble in terms of the unfunded liability.

You never gave a chance to the new board because you don't like that model. You don't like the idea that workers would have that much say in what's important to them, and you've proven that --

Mr David Tilson (Dufferin-Peel): Tell us about your --

The Speaker: The member for Dufferin-Peel is out of order.

Mr Christopherson: You've proven that when you folded up the Workplace Health and Safety Agency, which, coincidentally, had the same model: Half of it was employers and half of it was employees. You don't like that. You don't want workers or employees to have any say, any influence. You want to go back to the days where you and your cronies ran everything, and we saw last night, when you rammed through Bill 7, that you're prepared to go to any length, including denying democracy, to make that happen.

I want to comment a little on some of the comments the minister has made about crisis. There's a colleague of the minister's near her, the Minister of Education, who was caught out in the cabinet agenda of creating a false crisis in order to implement their agenda. There's a world of difference between a crisis and a problem. A crisis requires dramatic action, and that's why they need to have the world believe there's a crisis there, rather than recognizing it's a problem, but a problem that can be dealt with and in fact was being dealt with by the board that you're getting to ready to fire.

The fact of the matter is that over the last couple of years, new claim costs have decreased by 8%. Overhead costs have decreased by 8%. The average target assessment rate in 1995 dropped from $3.34 per $100 of payroll to $3. The unfunded liability has decreased. It has decreased from $11.5 billion to $11.4 billion -- not huge numbers, but going in the right direction. That was always the difference between that government and the previous government, that we were prepared to take the steps necessary and do it in a gradual way that didn't hurt people and destroy communities.

You've taken a course of action, and you show it with every piece of legislation, that you're prepared to hurt people, hurt the poor, hurt families, hurt children, decimate communities, go after the disabled, because you want to make sure you can give that 30% tax cut to your pals. We rejected it before; we reject it again.

The financial improvement package the minister talked about that would have seen the elimination of the unfunded liability by 2014: As I understand it, Minister, and I stand to be corrected, the worker representatives on the board were prepared to support it and they're the very representatives you're going to fire. You want to make sure that the only way to reduce the unfunded liability is on the backs of the disabled. You've shown that with your 5% cut to the disabled; you show it again today, and nobody's fooled.

This is the softening up. The knockout punch of course comes when the minister from Burlington brings in his report, and that's when you'll finish off the patient, except in this case it's going to be hundreds of thousands of working people who have been hurt.


The Speaker (Hon Allan K. McLean): We have another former member in the west gallery, Mr Mike Cooper from the riding of Kitchener-Wilmot.

Mr David S. Cooke (Windsor-Riverside): Mr Speaker, a point of order: I'd like to ask for unanimous consent from the House. Today is the first day of Wife Assault Prevention Month and that has been the tradition in this place for several years, so I'd like to ask for unanimous consent for statements from each of the parties.

The Speaker: Do we have unanimous consent? We do not have unanimous consent.

The leader of the official opposition on a point of order.

Mrs Lyn McLeod (Leader of the Opposition): Before question period begins, on a point of order: We have always, as I understand it, in this Legislature on November 1 recognized Wife Assault Prevention Month. Maybe I should not be surprised that this government was not prepared to come forward, but I am surprised they have not agreed to unanimous consent today to recognize this.

Interjection: A point of order.

The Speaker: There's nothing out of order.

The member for Riverdale on a point of what?

Ms Marilyn Churley (Riverdale): This is what I consider to be a point of privilege. As already stated, it's been traditional in this House on the first day of Wife Assault Prevention Month that members get to speak on this.

The Speaker: No. Order. We have dealt with that point of order, point of privilege.




Mrs Lyn McLeod (Leader of the Opposition): My first question is for the Minister of Finance. Minister, as you will be aware, the Dominion Bond Rating Service today put out a report analysing the government's fiscal position and what you need to do to keep the promises that you set out in the Common Sense Revolution.

The Dominion Bond Rating Service says -- surprise -- that you have underestimated how much you will have to cut in order to keep your promise to cut income taxes by 30%. The Common Sense Revolution, I'm sure you will remember, says that you will need to cut $6 billion to keep this promise.

The Dominion Bond Rating Service says you underestimated by close to $4 billion and that indeed you will have to cut closer to $10 billion, which is just about exactly what our Finance critic has been saying for some time. Even the Premier has admitted that maybe $6 billion will not be enough.

So my question to the minister is, do you know, Minister, whether $6 billion will be enough? Can you confirm for me whether or not the assessment of $6 billion in cuts will not be enough to keep your tax cut promise, and do you agree that your cuts will have to be closer to $10 billion?

Hon Ernie L. Eves (Deputy Premier, Minister of Finance and Government House Leader): I have read the Dominion Bond Rating Service report today. They do not say that we have underestimated by $4 billion; they do say that it could be as much as $10 billion. There is a difference.


Hon Noble Villeneuve (Minister of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs, minister responsible for francophone affairs): Oh, it's a big joke for you guys. It's a joke all right.

Hon Mr Eves: The one party this shouldn't be a big joke to is the third party, which, on April 27 of this year, said the deficit would be about $5.8 billion and it turned out to be $10.6 billion. That's the one party that shouldn't have anything to say in this discussion whatsoever.

We did make a commitment during the CSR document to reduce expenditure levels by $6 billion. We have reduced expenditures by $2 billion because the in-year deficit was going to be $10.6 billion if we didn't take action. I think we have a mandate to cut a further $6 billion, as we indicated in the CSR document.

Mrs McLeod: It's a little bit difficult to follow the minister's answer. The minister acknowledges the fact that the Common Sense Revolution says $6 billion will be cut. Dominion Bond Rating Service says it will have to be $10 billion. This minister says that this is not a miscalculation, that they haven't underestimated. I'd be prepared to admit, Minister, that this could have been a drafting error in the Common Sense Revolution, but let's at least acknowledge what it is you're facing right now.

The Dominion Bond Rating Service clearly says that to meet your deficit reduction target -- we assume you want to meet that target -- and to keep your promise of the income tax cut, you will have to cut $4 billion more than you planned. Dominion Bond Rating Service estimates that this is a 20% cut in total spending of the government.

Now, if you take health care out and you protect it as you said you would, then you would have to cut about 32% in all other areas across the board. Now, you have made a very clear and a very categorical promise that you will not cut health care. So can you assure me today that you will not cut health care, that we will not see massive cuts to health care as a result of your miscalculation of the numbers, and will you confirm that if you do protect health care, you will have to make cuts of 32% or more in all other areas?

Hon Mr Eves: No, I won't confirm that at all. Dominion Bond Rating Service also says, which the leader of the official opposition refuses to acknowledge, that they don't know what the impact of tax cuts will be. They do confirm that they will undoubtedly spur the economy, create growth in the economy and create employment, but they just don't know when or by how much that will happen. She knows; they don't know.

Mrs McLeod: The minister may say that Dominion Bond Rating Service doesn't know what it's doing, but we need to have a Minister of Finance who knows what he's doing and a Minister of Finance who is going to bring out an expenditure statement within a few weeks and who needs to tell people what the cuts in that expenditure statement are going to amount to.

Minister, your program of promises calls on you to balance the budget; to do that while you cut income taxes by 30%; to do it with cuts of $6 billion from government spending; and to do that without cutting health care. It is now absolutely clear to everyone that you miscalculated the expenditure cuts that you would have to make in order to keep your income tax cut promise.

Dominion Bond Rating Service says you'll need to cut $4 billion more than you planned. It seems to me this leaves you with three options: abandon your promise to cut income taxes, abandon your promise to protect health care, or cut all other programs besides health care by 30% to 40%, a task which seems nearly impossible.

Minister, I ask you, which of those approaches do you plan to take? And, again, I ask you to give me an assurance that you will not be cutting health care, and not cutting health care in the financial statement you present next month.

Hon Mr Eves: Dominion Bond Rating Service says that Ontario may -- "may" being the key word, I say to the leader of the official opposition -- have to cut spending by up to -- "up to"; it doesn't say "will be," it doesn't say "will be $10 billion," it doesn't say "should," it doesn't say "will," it says "may" -- up to $9.6 billion instead of $6.8 billion.

Also inferred by that, if you read through the whole report, there is going to be economic stimulation as a result of the tax cut. They acknowledge that. They also acknowledge they don't know -- neither do you or I, by the way -- how much that will be or when it will take effect.

We have a mandate to cut by $6 billion. If the deficit in this fiscal year is $8.8 billion, we've cut $2 billion, we have a mandate to cut another further $6 billion and that's what we intend to do.

The Speaker (Hon Allan K. McLean): New question. The Leader of the Opposition.

Mrs McLeod: I assume that the minister's refusal to give me an assurance that he will not be cutting health care means that they are looking at cuts to health care, and that disturbs me very greatly.


Mrs Lyn McLeod (Leader of the Opposition): My second question is to the Attorney General. Minister, last week, with great fanfare, you announced that you would be taking steps to combat drunk driving, but according to corrections officers, there are situations in which drunk drivers who turn up to serve their sentences on weekends are turned away because of overcrowding in our jails.

I suggest that this revolving-door policy makes a mockery of the public concern about drunk driving and that it is a threat to public safety. You are saying to the public, "Look what we're doing about drunk drivers," but you're saying to drunk drivers: "We're not serious about repeat drunk drivers. Make a show of turning up to serve your jail time and we'll send you home."

This is completely unacceptable and I want a clear statement today from you, as Attorney General, about this practice. Do you agree with the practice, and if you do not, what are you going to do about it?

Hon Charles Harnick (Attorney General, minister responsible for native affairs): We announced last week our initiative regarding automatic licence suspension. That, we believe, will reduce the incidence of impaired driving on our roadways.

What the leader of the official opposition is talking about is a completely different issue. It's a completely different issue. What the Leader of the Opposition should know is that intermittent sentences are not given traditionally or generally to people who have been convicted of impaired driving. They are not given those sentences. That is a totally different issue than the issue of a temporary absence program, where someone serves time in jail but is allowed to leave in the morning and comes back at night. The incidence of those kinds of things happening in court is very minimal, intermittent sentences not being given to people convicted of impaired driving.

Mrs McLeod: For me there is one bottom line in this and that's that people who drink and drive are dangerous and we must be prepared to deal as aggressively with them as we possibly can. I thought that's what you were saying last week in announcing the measures that you were taking.

I do not believe they are separate answers. I don't believe you can talk on one hand about what you're doing to deal with drunk driving and not be prepared to address the issue of whether or not sentences that are being given can in fact be enforced.


As I understand it, half the convicted criminals serving time on weekends are for drunk driving; two thirds of the drunk drivers who kill are repeat offenders. These are the people who are walking away from their jail time and from sentences that the court imposes, not just as punishment but indeed as a deterrent.

I want a guarantee from you, Minister, as Attorney General of this province, that there will be no more Get Out Of Jail Free cards from this government. Will you tell this House and the people of Ontario that drunk drivers will serve their time in jail as ordered by the court, no ifs, ands or buts?

Hon Mr Harnick: The leader of the official opposition should know that the Attorney General doesn't tell jailers how to run jails in the province of Ontario. But I agree with the leader of the official opposition that drunk driving is something that we cannot and will not tolerate in the province of Ontario.

What I would like to tell the leader of the official opposition is to go to Ottawa and tell her federal cousins that someone who is convicted of an impaired driving offence for the second time should be facing more than a minimum of 14 days in the common jail.

Mrs McLeod: I directed this question to the Attorney General for one very specific reason, because I believe that if we have overcrowding in our jails and that means that people who are given sentences are being released into the community before their sentence is served because there is no room in the jail, that undermines the decision of the court and indeed undermines the justice system. I ask this question of you because you are Attorney General and responsible for administration of justice in the province of Ontario.

I suggest to you that we have already seen the situation where your government has shut down all the halfway houses in the province, and we know that there are people who did not go back to jail, who were released into the communities before they'd served their sentence. Now your colleague who sits beside you, the Solicitor General, is talking about closing more jails. We don't know what that's going to do to more overcrowding.

It seems to me the equation is simple: Fewer jails and no more halfway houses equals more criminals on the street. That is not acceptable to my caucus, and I don't believe it's acceptable to people in this province. You cannot get up and tell us that you're getting tough on crime when the public safety is being threatened because you're shutting down halfway houses and planning to close jails.

Will you tell the Solicitor General, Minister, that this situation is unacceptable, that criminals who are sentenced to jail must not be let out early because there's no room in the jail? Will you deliver that message to the Solicitor General?

Hon Mr Harnick: I think that the Solicitor General, who is sitting right beside me, heard what the leader said, and if she'd wanted an answer from him, she could very well have asked him for an answer.

What I am trying to do, recognizing that impaired and drunk driving is an epidemic in this province, is to try and stop impaired driving before it happens. We are trying to develop, with our automatic licence suspension proposal, a deterrent to people drinking and driving. Evidence in jurisdictions all around North America where this has been implemented indicates a deterrent effect of up to 50%, and that's what we are trying to achieve.


Mr Bob Rae (York South): In the absence of the Premier, I have a question for the Minister of Intergovernmental Affairs. I was rather surprised, to put it mildly, that in his comments yesterday the Premier, in commenting on the referendum and in subsequent comments that have been made, was not able to state clearly the position of the government of Ontario with respect to Quebec's position in the Constitution.

Indeed, he spent an entire paragraph talking about the agenda of the Common Sense Revolution, which frankly the referendum had nothing to do about, and did not address the question of Quebec's historical concerns and demands. I wonder if the minister can now tell us, what is the position of the government of Ontario with respect to recognizing Quebec's distinctiveness within the Constitution?

Hon Dianne Cunningham (Minister of Intergovernmental Affairs, minister responsible for women's issues): I'd like to answer the question in this manner: Ontario and the other provinces and territories within the Confederation are all interested in negotiating with the government of Canada a new arrangement, a new agreement, a new way of doing business in this country. We, of course, had expected and had hoped that Quebec would be part of those negotiations, those discussions.

Within the whole Confederation of our country, I can only say that we do hope that Quebec will reconsider, given the results of the referendum vote, and that they will be part of the negotiations along with other ministers -- I represent the province of Ontario -- at those negotiations, at those communication events within the next few weeks.

Mr Rae: The minister can't speak for the government of Quebec, and neither can I. Nobody can.

I was a little concerned to hear the inference in the comments by the Premier this morning on the radio that somehow the change in leadership in Quebec provided some grounds for optimism, which I must say I find a little strange, given the various personalities involved.

But I'd like to ask the minister, is she telling us today that the government is not in a position to express its support for the distinct society? Is there a problem over there that we're not being made aware of? Why wouldn't the minister be able to say clearly on behalf of the government that this is in fact the position of the government of Ontario?

Hon Mrs Cunningham: In that regard, I think I can simply say that you have made your position clear as a former Premier, but it's our responsibility, I think, to hear from the people of Ontario.


Mr Rae: I'm sure we all want to hear from the people of Ontario. I'd be interested to know how it is the government intends to do that. But I would say directly to the minister and to members of the Tory caucus who were applauding those comments so loudly, the future of the country is at stake here, and if you think that this is an issue that's going to be settled by simply holding your finger up in the air and seeing which way the wind blows, you're sadly mistaken. We all have ridings to go home to, I also want to have a country to go home to, and that's what's at stake here.

Let me ask the minister, then, one more time. This House has passed resolutions, and the member for London North was in the House on several occasions. We passed motions in this House supporting the Meech Lake accord, we passed motions in this House in support of the Charlottetown accord --

Mr Gilles Pouliot (Lake Nipigon): Unanimously.

Mr Rae: Unanimously in the latter case, without a single dissenting voice; there were a couple of dissents over Meech Lake. I want to ask the minister directly, is she saying that the position of the government of Ontario is less than it was in the Charlottetown accord? And if that's the case you might have had the courtesy to tell us before the last referendum.

Hon Mrs Cunningham: I'd like to make it very clear to the leader of the third party, and a former Premier of this province, that every member in this House is interested in the future of this country. We all want Canada to move forward, together with the citizens of this great country, to be competitive and to reach out to other members of our society.

I'd also like to make it clear that for whatever reason the member has asked this question today, I can say to him sincerely, on behalf of this government, that we have appreciated his involvement throughout his whole life in this issue. We look at him as one of the leaders in advising all governments across this country. I think that was known as we watched him on television on that night and we were very proud to have him there.

We would expect him to continue in good faith in advising us in government as we proceed along this very important course, and that is to create an even better Canada and to move forward with all the citizens of this country and with their support, especially here in the province of Ontario.

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

Mr Rae: To the same minister on a different subject, and I can assure the minister that I will be returning to this: The reason I'm discussing it is because I think it's time for the whole country to come to terms with the fact that our very future is at risk and it's something that we all have to talk about. There's no merit in not talking about it.



Mr Bob Rae (York South): I would like to ask the minister a different question, and it relates to the questions that I raised with her last week concerning the meeting that took place in London on October 20.

Given the fact that there are a number of women here today because they heard the minister's answers the other day and wanted to get a chance to hear them here again -- the minister has denied in the House that she said words which have been attributed to her in correspondence with the member for Riverdale. I'd remind the minister that the remark attributed to her is this statement: "Within the context of this government, you need to understand that groups or agencies that are seen not to be working with this government, providing an oppositional voice [at this point she made reference to Harmony House, an Ottawa second-stage housing project which has been strongly voicing opposition to the cuts] will be audited and their funding eliminated."

The minister has denied that she made those statements, and there are several people who insist that that is in fact what she said. I wonder if the minister now can tell us what suggestion she would have, given this very strong difference of opinion between two people attending the same meeting, of how this issue can be effectively resolved.

Hon Dianne Cunningham (Minister of Intergovernmental Affairs, minister responsible for women's issues): I don't think it can be effectively resolved. I don't think those kinds of statements can be effectively resolved.

I certainly know that my intent in meeting with that group was to work with them to solve a problem in London, and I intend to do that.

As far as the reference of the group to Harmony House is concerned, I certainly met with a representative as part of another group a week ago and I intend to meet with them as per requests from the Ottawa members. I'll be meeting with them tomorrow.

Mr Rae: Given the fact that we have a group of people who attended a meeting who insist that they heard the minister say that if they were to continue in opposition to the government, their organizations would be audited and their funding would be eliminated -- which is a remark, I'm sure the minister would agree, intimidating in its very nature and can only have the impact of creating a terrible climate for public policy and for the future of the relationship between thousands of agencies and the government of Ontario -- I wonder if the minister would agree today to have her remarks and the subject matter of that meeting of October 20 referred to a committee of this House so that in fact it can be possible for us to see who's there.

Hon Mrs Cunningham: All I can say is that the member of the third party is in a very nasty mood, and I would suggest that he knows better than this. I've been elected since 1973. I have always encouraged public participation and debate. I have also encouraged people to speak out against policies they don't agree with. I should say right now that I think, and people have heard me say this over the years, that one of the greatest problems we have in democracy is that people are not involved.

The end result of that meeting, in our notes -- and I'm not about to debate this in the House -- is that I left them with the challenge of speaking out. I will be meeting with the president of the London second-stage housing board and their executive director at an appropriate time, and that is after we have taken a look in all communities at how we can consolidate the programs and keep our second-stage housing alive. That's our intent and that's what we're working on now.

Mr Rae: I want to assure the minister that I'm in a wonderful mood today. I think members opposite can accommodate that. I've had words to say. I hope the minister isn't suggesting that if I ask questions she finds uncomfortable, that means I'm in a bad mood. No, it doesn't. It means I'm doing my job.

I'm in a very cheery mood. I would say, in a mood of complete cheeriness, that we have a group of people who represent agencies that receive funding from the government of Ontario. They are reputable people, people who take their job seriously. They were at a meeting in which they heard you say something which is completely different from an account which you have now given.

In every other experience in which I've been involved in this House, with several different governments, when you have such a clear question of a different accounting of a conversation that took place, it is immediately referred to a committee and there is an opportunity for the committee itself to hear from all sides.

I'm simply asking the minister, if she's so clear on what she said and so clear that nothing else was said, what would she have to fear from a committee hearing from her and hearing from a group of people who say that's not what she said? What's your problem?

Hon Mrs Cunningham: I don't fear anything. As a matter of fact, I just think it's a total waste of time, and I don't think the taxpayers should be spending money on irrelevant situations where you have no proof except one person and the few women --

Ms Frances Lankin (Beaches-Woodbine): No, no, more than one person. They are all here, Dianne. Look at them.

Mr David S. Cooke (Windsor-Riverside): Try nine, Dianne.

Hon Mrs Cunningham: When you talk about intimidation, I suggest that any member of this House, when they disagree with what's being said in this House, can phone up a group of people and bring them to this place. That's up to you, if you want to do that. I don't feel intimidated in any way and I wouldn't intend to intimidate anybody else.

My job is to look at all of the funding, to coordinate where possible and to make a decision without bias on the best projects for the job and the best institutions that provide the most services for the public of Ontario, who are working very hard to pay their taxes, and a lot harder as a result of your five years in government.


Mr Bruce Crozier (Essex South): Mr Speaker, I have a bit of a problem in that the minister to whom I'm going to address my question is not in the House.

The Speaker (Hon Allan K. McLean): You can address it to anyone you wish.

Mr Crozier: I was going to give the Minister of Finance a couple of minutes.

Interjection: He's here.

The Speaker: Proceed with your question.

Mr Crozier: Minister, we all know that over the past 18 months insurance premiums in this province for automobiles have skyrocketed. Rates published just last week show that they've increased 12% over the last quarter, and we had average increases of 11.5% or thereabouts in 1994.

I know for a fact that the current government would agree with me that these increases are due in large part to what we refer to as Bill 164. The minister recognized this problem, as a matter of fact, because last July 18 he appointed his parliamentary assistant to review this current legislation.

I would therefore ask the minister, even though you've appointed your parliamentary assistant to look at the current legislation, will we see legislation either to amend or to repeal Bill 164, and when?

Hon Ernie L. Eves (Deputy Premier, Minister of Finance and Government House Leader): I thank the honourable member for the question. He's quite aware that the member for Mississauga West has indeed been reviewing the entire issue of automobile insurance in the province of Ontario. I am happy to report to him that in the last three months the parliamentary assistant has met with well in excess of 100 different groups about automobile insurance. Yes, we will be bringing forward legislation to deal with the auto insurance situation in the province of Ontario, and hopefully by no later than next spring.

Mr Crozier: The minister knows well that January 1, 1996, is a crucial date when it comes to Bill 164. We're not talking about a tax decrease for rich Ontarians; we're talking about decreased auto insurance premiums for every automobile owner in this province. That includes the little people, Minister.

We have had consultations, as your government has had, over the past year. I don't know why it's going to take you any longer. If this isn't great legislation, that needs -- you know, all the drafting errors we had last year. We have the information at hand.

You know that January 1, 1996, is the crucial date. Why won't you bring in legislation before that time to reduce insurance premiums for the auto owners in this province?

Hon Mr Eves: Actually, we had planned to send this issue out for deliberation by an all-party committee of this Legislature during the winter break -- I'm sure the honourable member would concur with that -- at the conclusion of the parliamentary assistant's deliberations with stakeholders in the industry and the public.

The honourable member wants something done. He just got through criticizing the route the government took on Bill 7 for not having public hearings, and now he doesn't want public hearings on the auto insurance bill. I don't understand where they're coming from.

As a member of the party that introduced Bill 68 into this Legislature, which probably led to the greatest auto insurance premium increases in the history of the province, he should be the last person to be talking about that.



Ms Marilyn Churley (Riverdale): My question is for the Deputy Premier. Today marks what is traditionally known as Wife Assault Prevention Month. In addition to her threats and intimidation which our leader talked about earlier, the Premier's appointee to the women's issues portfolio has told the Ontario Association of Interval and Transition Houses that the funding for core services to abused women will not come from the Ministry of Community and Social Services and will have to come from other systems. The Minister of Comsoc has said this isn't correct, that the funding is still there.

Considering that both the ministers seem to be backpedalling at this point -- and they're doing so because the attack on women is not what people voted for in this election; in a document released by the Conservatives in 1994, they promised to keep these services there, to protect those services -- I would ask the Deputy Premier, is he going to go ahead and allow the continuing dismantling of these services for abused women and children?

Hon Ernie L. Eves (Deputy Premier, Minister of Finance and Government House Leader): I'd like to refer this question to the minister for women's issues.

Hon Dianne Cunningham (Minister of Intergovernmental Affairs, minister responsible for women's issues): I think the member who has asked the question understands that coordination is extremely important. That's what we're working on now.

The wife assault and sexual assault initiatives are funded through the Attorney General; Citizenship, Culture and Recreation; Community and Social Services; Solicitor General and Correctional Services; Education and Training; Health; Northern Development and Mines; and the Ontario women's directorate. We're trying to coordinate those services. Of course we support all the initiatives of the former governments, and we just want to do more with our money.

Ms Churley: Flowery language is not what we need right now. While we speak, women and children are in abusive situations.

Both the ministers have to start understanding that core services are being cut. They don't seem to understand that; or, if they do, we really have to ask integrity and credibility questions here. What is going on?

I'm going to give one example out of many. In St Thomas, the St Thomas-Elgin second-stage housing has no other funding than funding from MCSS. That's the very funding, Minister, that's been cut. They've sent a letter to the Premier telling him this. The letter points out that they receive no other funding and that there are no other services in the community that provide the support they do.

We are beyond arguing whether or not counselling services are necessary. We are telling this government that what it is doing is cutting core services. Is the minister going to continue to allow her government to cut these core services, or is she going to start standing up for the women and children of this province now?

Hon Mrs Cunningham: It would be helpful, especially during this important month, that the opposition parties not -- I shouldn't say "parties"; I will say "party" -- go out about Ontario fearmongering among the women. I can tell you right now, in the London area there are eight shelters, there are six second-stage housing, and there are two other programs that support women from the area.


The Speaker (Hon Allan K. McLean): The member for Cochrane South is out of order, and the member for Hamilton East is out of order.

Hon Mrs Cunningham: It's our intent to continue support for second-stage housing. It's a matter of the Minister of Community and Social Services and myself and other ministers getting together, as we are doing, and we will be making a presentation later this afternoon with regard to this important issue.


Ms Marilyn Churley (Riverdale): On a point of order, Mr Speaker: I'd like to give you notice that I'm not satisfied with the answer, and I will be asking the minister to come back for a late show.


Mr Bert Johnson (Perth): I rise for the first time from this place in the House today. I'd like to start by thanking the leader of Her Majesty's loyal opposition for her concern which she expressed on my behalf earlier this week. I understand that in past administrations a government member would not have been allowed to question a minister, but thankfully this is different and new in this government.

The Speaker (Hon Allan K. McLean): Which minister are you asking a question of?

Mr Bert Johnson: My question today is for the Minister of Correctional Services. Rumours are abounding still that you will be announcing the closure of certain older correctional facilities in Ontario. Listed among the possible closures is a facility in the city of Stratford, in my riding of Perth.

I'd like to take this opportunity to point out to you that the Stratford Jail has been upgraded and modernized in the last two to three years. Its evolution has involved almost $1 million in upgrades and a six-month closure for the renovations. Modern fire protection, air exchange and security improvements are in place. The fact is, Stratford Jail is a facility which has been outfitted with modern equipment. Why, then, has it been placed on the list of possible closures?

Hon Bob Runciman (Solicitor General and Minister of Correctional Services): I thank the member for that question, and I appreciate the concern that he and other members with some of the older jails in their ridings have, essentially based on the report of the Provincial Auditor in 1993. That is why he has been invited tomorrow, along with other members who have older jails in their ridings, to meet with me and the Provincial Auditor so we can review the auditor's concerns and discuss changes that may have taken place, for example in this member's riding, since the Provincial Auditor completed his audit. This member has talked about an expenditure of $1 million by the previous government upgrading the Stratford Jail in the past year. That's the sort of input we want to deal with.

The previous government closed down two jails in Ontario. In the riding held by the member for Lanark-Renfrew, the NDP government had spent $1 million during the year before announcing the closure without any consultation. In a riding held by the Speaker of this House, the government spent significant dollars in renovations in Camp Hillsdale and then went ahead with a closure without any consultation.

We're doing things differently. We're going to allow for input and consultation, deal with this question with the auditor and then make our decision.

Mr Bert Johnson: I had the opportunity this morning to tour the facility in Stratford and to hear the concerns of the staff. Stratford Jail has beds for 50 inmates. Under our previous government, we saw 20 of those beds closed. While other jails throughout the province are complaining of overcrowding, it does not make much sense to close a facility which is not being permitted to operate at full capacity as it is. From a cost-cutting point of view, Stratford Jail actually has a lower per diem cost per inmate than the provincial average, when it's operating at capacity. Why, then, can't the Stratford facility be used to accommodate inmates from other overcrowded jails?

Hon Mr Runciman: Those are all good points the member raises, and we will address them tomorrow at the meeting with the auditor and with officials from the Ministry of Correctional Services.

There are other issues out there that we have to deal with. I want to put them on the record. In the last 10 years -- and this is particularly relevant to the folks sitting across the room -- the cost of operating our correctional institutions has increased 83%, while the number of inmates has increased by 28%. Our correctional officers in Ontario earn almost 25% more than federal correctional officers. They work an average of 32.3 hours a week. I should mention as well that our staff-to-inmate ratio in Ontario is about one staff person to every inmate, which is double the ratio in the province of Alberta. We have significant problems that we have to come to grips with because the past two governments simply ignored them.



Mr John Gerretsen (Kingston and The Islands): My question is to the Minister of Municipal Affairs and Housing. The chairs of the 13 regional governments have just issued their report entitled In Pursuit of Better Government, in which, among others, they state that they represent two thirds of Ontario's population; rather, in most cases, they represent the councils that selected them. In it they propose that the regional governments take control over tax billing and collection, property assessment, fire protection, education and hydro. The effect would seriously weaken local government.

Minister, your government's CSR document calls for a radical restructuring of municipal government. Not surprisingly, local governments are feeling anxious and worried. They're wondering if your government will be acting on this report, which has had no public input, no AMO input, or no input from the local councils. What are you going to do about it, Mr Minister?

Hon Al Leach (Minister of Municipal Affairs and Housing): Yes, the regional chairs did provide me with a report. It's one of a number of reports that we have on restructuring government throughout the province of Ontario, a situation that has to be addressed as quickly as possible. We've had meetings with AMO. We've had meetings with the regional chairs. We've had meetings with all sorts of municipalities: with single-tier, upper-tier, lower-tier. All of their comments are being taken into consideration, as well as the ones from the regional chair, and we'll deal with them all.

Mr Gerretsen: My supplementary also deals with the very important issue of municipal restructuring. Mr Minister, you've indicated that you will be cutting transfer payments by at least 20%. You've also indicated that you're going to give municipalities more local autonomy. Are you going to give local councils complete control over their police budgets, and will they be able to opt out of currently mandated provincial programs? Yes or no?

Hon Mr Leach: We are going to give the municipalities more autonomy. With more autonomy comes more responsibility. We are going to provide block grants to enable the duly elected representatives of municipalities to make decisions that are in the best interests of their communities as they see fit, not by mandate.


Mrs Marion Boyd (London Centre): My question is for the Minister of Correctional Services and Solicitor General. We've heard a number of times in this House about various closures of programs by the ministry of corrections, and one my colleague from Fort York mentioned in a statement last week was Galbraith House, a bail release program here in the city. Minister, I understand that you know quite a bit about this, having talked yourself personally by telephone to the executive director of the agency and meeting with the executive director of the agency, and expressed some concern about this program.

It's a unique program, I understand, in the province of Ontario and is not a mandatory program. It is one that has been in existence, however, for 14 years, put in by the previous PC government. It is one which takes in a number of men at a time -- I believe they have 10 beds -- and looks after those people with counselling and with job opportunities and so on while they are on bail, because they have no place else to go.

I understand that you indicated to the executive director that you didn't understand this was a different program than halfway houses when it was closed and that you wanted to review that, and that you did review that and decided that in fact the program was not cost-effective.

I wonder if you could confirm to me a statement that was made by a ministry of corrections official at the meeting that you held with this group which said, "Whether the guy is innocent or not" -- because of course people on bail have not been convicted of anything yet -- "if it is cheaper to keep him in jail, it is a feasible option." Can you confirm that, Minister?

Hon Bob Runciman (Solicitor General and Minister of Correctional Services): What happened in this situation is that I received a letter from the executive director of Galbraith House, and I responded to that letter. He was asking for reconsideration of the decision, and I gave the director a call and said to him, "You have to appreciate the financial situation we're facing and we've had to make some very tough decisions, but I'm prepared to sit down and talk to you if you can come to me with a proposal that will indicate that you can provide the same service at costs that are significantly lower than incarceration rates in the Metro area." We did meet and they did bring a proposal, but it didn't meet that standard. Those are the facts.

Mrs Boyd: The minister did not answer my question as to whether the issue here is that services that will be offered by Correctional Services in the province of Ontario will always be the cheapest services, because that raises the question for all of us: If we are looking at only the provision of the cheapest services, and given the comments that the member made in response to the question from his own colleague from the county of Perth, and given that this government has now changed the Crown Employees Collective Bargaining Act to refuse succession rights to government employees, I'd ask the minister, can we assume that you are going the route of Alberta, where people are at half the cost of that of Ontario, and looking at privatization of all correctional facilities?

Hon Mr Runciman: Well, we're looking at everything. We haven't ruled anything out and we're certainly looking at cost-effective operations. I know that's a pretty difficult concept for members of the NDP, but we have to deal in that regard because we're faced with very significant financial pressures.

The Galbraith House, as an example, was costing taxpayers of this province $165 per day --

Mrs Boyd: It's $122.

Hon Mr Runciman: No, $165 per day to house the residents versus, if you want to compare this, the Toronto Jail at $78 and Metro West $92.

Galbraith House -- certainly I have nothing but praise for the people who are involved in that operation, but these are people who have not been convicted -- as you indicated, they're people on bail -- and I think if you get back to looking at the core services each ministry has to provide, it raises a serious question about whether that's the sort of business the ministry of corrections should be involved in, especially when it costs us significantly more dollars than incarceration.


Mr Rob Sampson (Mississauga West): My question is across the court here to the Minister of Education and Training. I understand that this morning the Ministry of Education released the results of its reading and writing tests for grade 9 students. Could the minister tell us what his thoughts are regarding the results of this test?

Hon John Snobelen (Minister of Education and Training): I must say I'm sure no one in the House is surprised to hear such an excellent question from a representative of the fine city of Mississauga, and I'm proud to have that question today.

In fact we did release the results today of a 1994-95 test of grade 9 students in the province of Ontario. Over 130,000 students in the province participated in that test, and I'm proud to report on the results from last year's test.

The test was done in reading and writing in both the English boards and the French boards across the province. The English boards reported that reading skills were 96% acceptable, which is an increase of 6% over the previous year's testing, and the writing skills were at 93% acceptable, a decrease of 1% over the previous year. In the French boards, the reading was at 79% acceptable, which is a significant increase over the previous year, and the writing skills were at 87%, a significant increase over the year before again for those French skills.

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

Hon Mr Snobelen: Thank you.

Mr Sampson: I just want to remind the minister that while we are the opposite, we are on the right side of the opposite side.

My supplementary --

Mr Gilles Pouliot (Lake Nipigon): You're going to fall off the platform you're so far right.

Mr Howard Hampton (Rainy River): It's called the tilt.

The Speaker: Order.


Mr Sampson: Does the minister have any concerns regarding the discrepancies in the results between the various boards in the test?

Hon Mr Snobelen: Well, to the member at the extreme right of the opposite, the member for Mississauga West, I think it's important to remember that there are some statistical anomalies in all of these reports. For instance, the boards that tend to be at the extremely good or extremely poor spectrum in the test results tend to be boards with a very small number of students, and I think that accounts for some of that range.

I'd like to tell the member that I am very concerned that in fact over a third of the students in our English boards are performing at the very bare minimum level of performance and that in fact in our French boards almost half the students are performing at that level. I think we have a lot of improvement we can make in the system.

Thank you, Mr Speaker. I've enjoyed the question from the member for Mississauga West.


Mr Dominic Agostino (Hamilton East): My question is to the minister for women's issues in the province of Ontario. Madam Minister, yesterday --

Mr James J. Bradley (St Catharines): Jan Dymond has already prepared the answer.

Mr Agostino: I'm sorry, Dave. You're going to have to get excited tomorrow.

Minister, yesterday the Ontario Association of Interval and Transition Houses was advised that your Minister of Community and Social Services has cut $65,620 from their 1996 funding.

As you know, this organization met with you on October 19. They met with you, you asked for advice and information, you talked about a partnership, and 11 days later they were notified that the funding that your government has provided to this organization and that the Conservative government started providing to it in 1980 has been cut.

This group represents organizations that coordinate the services for women's shelters across Ontario. They work together to pool services to find better ways of serving abused women in Ontario, exactly the type of concept that you are talking about.

Minister, can you explain to the House how you could allow your Minister of Community and Social Services to make this cut, and who is speaking on behalf of abused women in your cabinet?

Hon Dianne Cunningham (Minister of Intergovernmental Affairs, minister responsible for women's issues): First of all, the Minister of Community and Social Services has his responsibility with regard to managing one of the most important budgets in the province of Ontario, and I think he's doing a very good job of it.

Secondly, I would like to say that with responsibility for all the ministers -- and I have already talked about the eight ministries that are involved -- working together with the Ontario women's directorate, it is our responsibility to spend money wisely and efficiently.

I should say that I too appreciate the Ontario Association of Interval and Transition Houses and the work that it does. As a matter of fact, I understand that there was a reduction in the money that went to that particular group.

We did have a very good meeting. They certainly knew where we were coming from with regard to providing core services, and that means of course that the first responsibility is in the front lines to the women and the children that we serve. Therefore, many advisory groups across all ministries, many groups that are trying to coordinate on their own within communities, will in fact be left without that kind of funding, because it isn't, as we would describe, a core service with money going directly to the mother and the child with some level of support.

Mr Agostino: The minister says it was a good meeting, and once again we have a different interpretation, and you think a group of people left very happy. Let me read from the letter that was sent to your Minister of Community and Social Services:

"We are further taken aback that after we met with Dianne Cunningham on October 19 in good faith and agreed to provide her with information and ideas, two weeks later we should find that our provincial government support has been totally eliminated. It would appear that our idea of partnership and that of your government might be two very different things."

That does not sound like a very happy group, Madam Minister, does not sound like a group that left a meeting that was the same meeting that you left.

Your government is celebrating Wife Assault Prevention Month in Ontario by once again announcing another cut. That is your way of treating abused women in this province. You've cut second-stage housing. You've cut support services. You have now cut organizations that deal with them.

Madam Minister, let me suggest that silencing this group is another attempt to silence your opposition. This group will speak out. This group has been opposed to the cuts you're making. This group, as part of those efforts, is there to deal with and represent abused women, and you're going to silence them by cutting their funding. Anybody who opposes you, you're going to cut.

Madam Minister, can you please stop defending these brutal cuts? Can you use the same compassion, the same passion that you use in defending Mike Harris and his cuts, on behalf of abused women in this province, on behalf of vulnerable women who need help?

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

Mr Agostino: When are you going to start representing the women in Ontario who need your help and stop defending your --

The Speaker: Order.

Hon Mrs Cunningham: This government is spending almost $100 million on projects and on programs that support women and their children, and especially women who have been abused. I don't want anybody to forget that a huge proportion of that budget is still in place, including all of the funding for 98 shelters and some $15.7 million in counselling services across the province.

I think the most important issue that the member has asked about today is with regard to supporting the agenda of our government and we are protecting as far as possible, and still providing, most of the services and all of the core services that affect women and children.

Ms Frances Lankin (Beaches-Woodbine): You are not, Dianne. Stop saying that, you are cutting core services.

Hon Mrs Cunningham: I should say to the member for Beaches-Woodbine that at this point in time, until we're ready to come back with a new solution with regard to second-stage housing, there's absolutely no point in my standing up and trying to respond to the member. I think it would be better if you were to make an appointment and meet with me.

Mr Agostino: You have cut funding 100%.

The Speaker: Order. The member for Hamilton East is continuously out of order, and I won't accept it.


Mr Gilles Bisson (Cochrane South): My question is for the Minister of Municipal Affairs. We know that in the last provincial election the now government of Ontario, the Progressive Conservative Party, ran an election with the whole bunch of promises contained in the Common Sense Resolution.

Mr John Gerretsen (Kingston and The Islands): Wake up, Al.

Mr Bisson: That's a question to you. One of the promises that you made in the CSR, as we affectionately call it now, is that you will be, on page 17, eliminating an "unfair downloading" process by the province to the municipalities. In other words, you didn't believe that you should pass on your fiscal problems to the municipalities of the province of Ontario.

We now see across the province of Ontario municipalities from northern Ontario, from southern Ontario, from different parts, who are really worried about what your cuts are going to mean not only to services but to increases in property taxes. How do you plan on eliminating unfair downloading to municipalities?

Hon Al Leach (Minister of Municipal Affairs and Housing): As I repeated before in this House, we plan to give municipalities more autonomy, and with more autonomy comes more responsibility. We've met with AMO, we've met with the regional chairs, we've met with the mayors' committee -- all of them are prepared to work with us. The municipalities in the province of Ontario want to be part of the solution. They don't want to be part of the problem, like many people across the floor.

As recently as last night we met with the AMO group where we talked about what's happening in the province of Ontario, with the very difficult economic situation that we've got into, and if the member wants to really know what the problem is, what he should do is get up in the morning and look in the mirror, because that's where the problem started.

Mr Bisson: That's very typical. Mr Speaker, I can assure you that in the morning I have no difficulty in looking at myself in the mirror. I can assure you that the minister and this government will before not too long.

Onwards and forwards. I was interested in what seemed to be an answer. I think the first time we've actually asked this minister a question, we had about a tenth of an answer in his entire response to the question.

Now you're saying in a response that you want to pass on more autonomy to local municipalities to deal with things. If you go to page 5 of the Common Sense Revolution, open up the CSR, you are saying in the Common Sense Revolution that you will ensure that any actions taken by your government will not result in increases in local property taxes.

Just how do you propose to do that? Do you plan on somehow or other introducing legislation that would take away rights of municipalities to deal with things on their own? We know that you have a huge problem on your hands in dealing with what the minister just talked about this morning. You are going to be passing on a huge transfer of cuts of money to municipalities. How do you plan to do this and, at the same time, make sure that the municipalities don't pass that tax increase on to their citizens at the local property tax level?

Hon Mr Leach: The member is very correct: It does say that we will work very closely with municipalities, and we are. The municipalities are prepared to work with us. They know they're in a difficult situation. What they're going to do is restructure their organizations to downsize their problems. Hopefully, they'll be able to do that without raising property taxes. But property taxes rest with the municipality. The municipalities make the decision as to whether they raise it or whether they don't, not this government.



Mr Gilles Bisson (Cochrane South): I would like to let the Speaker know I am unsatisfied with the answer of the minister and am requesting a late show.


Mr David Turnbull (York Mills): Mr Speaker?

Mr Howard Hampton (Rainy River): Do you want a late show too, David?

Mr Turnbull: No, I don't want the late show particularly. I would just like to inform the Speaker that Mr George Archibald, a member of the Legislative Assembly of Nova Scotia and opposition whip, is sitting in the members' gallery.



Hon Ernie L. Eves (Deputy Premier, Minister of Finance and Government House Leader): I move that Mr Pouliot and Mr Martin exchange places in the order of precedence for private members' public business.

The Speaker (Hon Allan K. McLean): Agreed? Agreed.


Hon Ernie L. Eves (Deputy Premier, Minister of Finance and Government House Leader): I move that when this House adjourns on Thursday, November 2, 1995, it stand adjourned until 1:30 pm on Tuesday, November 14, 1995; and that notwithstanding standing order 8(a), the House shall meet on Friday, November 17, 1995, from 11 am to 1:30 pm for the consideration of government orders, after which the House shall proceed to routine proceedings. At the completion of routine proceedings, the House shall adjourn until Monday, November 20, 1995, at 1:30 pm.

The Speaker (Hon Allan K. McLean): Agreed? Motion carried.



Mr Mike Colle (Oakwood): This is a petition from the good citizens of Oakwood.

"We, the undersigned, are against the proposed amalgamation of our Board of Education for the City of York with the Toronto Board of Education and the East York Board of Education.

"We do not want to be part of a proposed new mega-board of education with a student population of over 110,000 students. Amalgamation would not realize the expected cost savings. The actual process of amalgamation of the school boards would be lengthy and costly. It would also decrease the responsiveness of the boards to their students, parents and community.

"We do not want to pay higher property tax to run a mega-board. We do not expect to receive more provincial funding from a government that is cutting back on all expenses. We want to keep our special programs. We want to keep providing our seniors with courses at little cost. We want to keep our before- and after-school programs. We want to say no to amalgamation."

I attach my name to this petition against the amalgamation of the York school board.


Ms Frances Lankin (Beaches-Woodbine): I have a petition from residents of the riding of Beeches-Woodbine with three pages of signatures.

"Whereas the Minister of Labour has introduced legislation, Bill 7, to drastically amend the Labour Relations Act, the Employment Standards Act and other labour legislation which had been brought forward by successive Progressive Conservative, Liberal and New Democratic governments in recognition of the legitimate rights of employees in Ontario;

"Whereas the implementation of Bill 7 will undermine the fundamental and democratic rights of employees to organize and to have access to collective bargaining;

"Whereas employers have raised concerns about how Bill 7 will result in an increased number of strikes; and

"Whereas the Minister of Labour is proceeding with Bill 7 without consultation with employee groups and without conducting public hearings;

"We, the undersigned, petition the Legislative Assembly of Ontario to urge the Minister of Labour to withdraw this legislation."

I have affixed my signature to this.


Mr Bill Murdoch (Grey-Owen Sound): I have a petition that I would like to add to all the other signatures that the member from Etobicoke brought in the other day. This is 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've also signed this.


Mr Rick Bartolucci (Sudbury): I have a petition to the Legislative Assembly of Ontario:

"Whereas the Sudbury Action Centre for Youth has helped nearly 130,000 people since 1986; and

"Whereas more than 35,000 youth have come to the centre for various services; and

"Whereas nearly 10,000 people have filled casual, full- and part-time jobs; and

"Whereas 372 youth have returned to school; and

"Whereas the government of Ontario has decided to close community youth support programs, including the Sudbury Action Centre for Youth;

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

"That the government of Ontario continue to fund the Sudbury Action Centre for Youth."

I've affixed my name to it.


Mr David Christopherson (Hamilton Centre): The women and men of Local 200, CAW, refuse to be muzzled by this government and have asked me to present 2,000 petitions to the government that read as follows:

"Please stop and consider what you are about to do to the working men and women of Ontario in passing Bill 7. You have made it obvious that you will do anything possible to cater to your business interests, no matter at what expense to the workers of this province. The way you are attacking workers and unions is reminiscent of less democratic governments throughout the world.

"Why are you afraid of discussion with the people who will be detrimentally affected by these imminent legislative changes? I would like you to explain to me why you can't find the time to talk with those that you represent."

I proudly add my name to theirs.


Mr Bill Grimmett (Muskoka-Georgian Bay): I'm presenting this petition today on behalf of the member for Simcoe East. The petition concerns the French Language Services Act from 1986, then known as Bill 8. The operative paragraph reads:

"We, the undersigned, request that Bill 8 be repealed, its artificial structures dismantled immediately and English be declared as the official language of Ontario in government institutions and services."

It contains some 82 signatures.


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 in-patient 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 recommendations 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 retains, at minimum, emergency and in-patient services."

It's signed by 25 people and I have affixed my signature as well.


Mr Len Wood (Cochrane North): I have a petition signed by several hundred people out of Smooth Rock Falls. The Communications, Energy and Paperworkers Union is concerned that:

"The government has already stated it will water down and weaken several aspects of the Ontario Occupational Health and Safety Act, including:

"The right of the workers to have adequate safety and health training;

"The right to refuse;

"The right to have an independent health and safety inspectorate;

"The right to participate in your own job safety and health;

"More fines for workers and less fines for employers.

"Therefore we, the undersigned, demand that Premier Mike Harris and Labour Minister Elizabeth Witmer do not change or alter the Occupational Health and Safety Act. We also demand full public hearings and consultation immediately on improved health and safety regulations as it concerns occupational exposure limits to hazardous and cancer-causing substances."

This number of petitions was forwarded to me by the recording secretary, Judy Smith, from Smooth Rock Falls, and I have affixed my name.



Mr John O'Toole (Durham East): It's a pleasure to rise today to direct a petition to the attention of the Minister of Education and Training. It's from the students, staff and parents supporting St Stephen's Secondary School in Bowmanville:

"We, the undersigned, forward this petition requesting that the scheduled opening of St Stephen's secondary not be delayed unnecessarily, and that the $600,000 of annual rent on the current facility is a waste of taxpayers' money."

It's a pleasure to sign in support of this petition today.


Ms Annamarie Castrilli (Downsview): I have a petition signed by over 1,000 Canadians from coast to coast. It 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 special privileges be revoked and her full 12-year sentence be served in its entirety."

I affix my name to this petition.


Mr David Christopherson (Hamilton Centre): This is from residents in the home backyard of the Minister of Labour:

"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 gladly add my name to the list.


The Speaker (Hon Allan K. McLean): Further petition, the member for Oakville.

Mr Gary Carr (Oakville South): Oakville South. How quickly they forget.

I have a petition which says:

"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."


Mr Michael Gravelle (Port Arthur): I have a petition signed by over 1,300 residents in Thunder Bay, asking the government to rescind its 22% cut to social assistance benefits. This petition was organized by the Thunder Bay Coalition Against Poverty, a group that today in Thunder Bay is holding a tin cup rally, the culmination of a food drive to help those in Thunder Bay who are affected by the cuts. They make the point that these cuts will target groups that are already economically disadvantaged, including single parents, women, children, persons under 25, disabled persons and unemployed persons.

I'm proud to sign my name to this petition.


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

"Whereas during the 1970s, the government of the day developed measures that curbed the growth of government by involving local communities in the provision of legal services, the criminal justice field began to recognize the benefits of community-based justice options. Privatization was considered more cost-effective while strengthening government ministries through community participation in the justice system. Since that time, non-profit agencies across Ontario have developed effective programs and present a strong local face to the justice system while supporting partnerships with an ever-widening community base. Community programs have proven to be effective in comparison to directly operated government services. Community-based options reduce the cost of incarceration while promoting public safety.

"Whereas community-based justice programs such as community service orders, diverse alternative measures, bail supervision etc have proven of value, the screening and supervision of accused and offenders within well-defined programs contributed to public safety. For over 20 years, community-based options have made a positive contribution to the welfare of communities in Ontario.

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

"We believe these programs must not be viewed as dispensable. As with many recent cuts, short-term, fiscal expediency holds no long-term value. Credible links with the community and quality programs for the citizens of Ontario must be maintained."

I have affixed my signature to this petition.


Mr Gilles Bisson (Cochrane South): I have a petition here from members of CAW, Local 200 out of Windsor. They have a petition to the Honourable Elizabeth Witmer, Minister of Labour, which reads:

"I wish to express my disgust with your ministry for the lack of consideration being shown to your constituents regarding the repeal of Bill 40. You are failing in your responsibility to the people by refusing to give us input into important legislation that will adversely affect the majority of Ontarians in labour relations that have served us well over the past 50 years.

"I appeal to you to reconsider Bill 7" -- although this is kind of late because we didn't get an opportunity to introduce petitions here because the government wouldn't allow it for over a week -- "and explain to me why you would even tamper with legislation that is beneficial to the majority of the citizens of Ontario."

I affix my signature to this petition.


Mr Michael A. Brown (Algoma-Manitoulin): I have a large number of petitions from my constituents in Algoma-Manitoulin addressed to the Legislative Assembly of Ontario.

The petition addresses the issue of gasoline price differences between northern Ontario and southern Ontario and essentially decries the difference of between 10 and 20 cents a litre for each litre of gas in northern Ontario, and they call on the government to equalize those prices.


Mr Ted Arnott (Wellington): I have a petition to the Legislative Assembly of Ontario. It reads as follows:

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

"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've affixed my signature.


Mr Frank Miclash (Kenora): My petition is to the Legislative Assembly of Ontario, and it reads:

"Whereas the Ministry of Transportation is intent on reducing northern winter road maintenance and services; and

"Whereas such downgrading places the lives of northern residents at undue and unnecessary risk;

"We, the undersigned, petition the Legislative Assembly of Ontario to disallow these reductions in service and to guarantee that winter roads across the northern region of the province receive the necessary maintenance to ensure the safe passage of all travellers."

I have affixed my name to the petition as well.


Mr Bill Grimmett (Muskoka-Georgian Bay): I have a petition from the residents of the township of Tay in regard to a zoning bylaw amendment, number 95ZBA16, expressing their opposition to the application.

There are a number of signatures here, well in excess of 100. I believe it's in the proper form.



Mrs Witmer moved first reading of the following bill:

Bill 15, An Act to amend the Workers' Compensation Act and the Occupational Health and Safety Act / Projet de loi 15, Loi modifiant la Loi sur les accidents du travail et la Loi sur la santé et la sécurité au travail.

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


Mr Kwinter moved first reading of the following bill:

Bill Pr39, An Act respecting Canadian Life Line Limited.

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


Mr Gravelle moved first reading of the following bill:

Bill 16, An Act to amend the Public Transportation and Highway Improvement Act with respect to the removal of snow and ice from roads / Projet de loi 16, Loi modifiant la Loi sur l'aménagement des voies publiques et des transports en commun en ce qui concerne le déneigement et le déglacement des routes.

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

Mr Michael Gravelle (Port Arthur): The current provisions in this act do not require the ministry to provide winter road maintenance service to any specified standard. This bill will legislate the winter road maintenance standards currently employed by the Ministry of Transportation.




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 London Centre had the floor.

Mrs Marion Boyd (London Centre): To continue the remarks I was making with respect to Bill 8 on Monday last, I'd like to remind the House that what we were talking about in terms of employment equity in this province was an effort to try to redress a balance within the employment community and to balance out the real opportunities of those who are in the designated groups -- and I pointed out that 65% to 67% of our communities fall within those groups -- and to ensure that those persons knew about jobs, were being sought out according to their merit, according to their training, according to their ability; that they felt welcome to apply; that the means of screening those applicants would enable the merit of those particular individuals to be known.

It is very important for us to talk about this whole issue of merit. When the Leader of the Opposition spoke on October 30, she talked about code words that are used with respect to the ideological pursuits of the government. Quite frankly, under this government the issue of "merit" has become another code word.

In speech after speech, both during the election and in this place, members of the Conservative Party have talked about the merit principle as though that were antithetical to the notion of employment equity. Quite frankly, what is underlying the assumptions of the Conservative Party is that if people are members of the designated groups, they do not necessarily have merit. In fact, they can be sure they would only be hired because they are one of the designated groups, not because they have merit.

I spoke the other night of the whole issue of class in Ontario -- a very unpopular issue. It's very unpopular for us to hear that we have a stratified society in which the current overclass has power and privilege and denies that power and privilege to others.

In the words of Michael Lind, the senior editor of Harper's Magazine who recently wrote an article called To Have and Have Not: Notes on the Progress of the American Class War, there's a very good analysis of how those who exercise power and privilege in a society convince themselves that they and they alone have merit and that they and they alone can lead the society into better times.

He talks about this overclass in this way: "They dress the same. They talk the same. They walk the same. They have the same body language, the same gestures. They eat the same food, drink the same drinks, and play the same sports. They read the same publications. They...but I should say we."

He goes on to point out that those who have power and privilege in a society all have this in common: that we tend to think of ourselves as being the benchmark for merit.

He goes on to say: "The most remarkable thing about our own American oligarchy is the pretense that it doesn't constitute anything as definite as a social class. We prefer to assign good fortune to our individual merit, saying that we owe our perches in the upper percentiles of income and education not to our connections but solely to our own IQ, virtue, brio, genius, sprezzatura, chutzpah, gumption. Had we been switched at birth by accident, had we grown up in a ghetto or barrio or trailer park, we would have arrived at our offices at ABC News or the Republican National Committee or the ACLU in more or less the same amount of time. The absence of black and Hispanic Americans in our schools and our offices and our clubs can only be explained, we tell ourselves, not by our extrinsic advantages but by their intrinsic defects. Compared with us (and perhaps with middle-class East Asian immigrants), most blacks and Hispanics must be disproportionately lazy, even (if Charles Murray and the late Richard Herrnstein are to be believed) disproportionately retarded. What other explanation for their failure to rise can there be?"

I would say that although he's writing about America, much of what he says is true in Ontario and in Canada as well. But there is an assumption -- and certainly we hear it day after day when talking about those who depend on social assistance by this government -- that those who are not reaching the top, who are not scaling the heights of power and privilege in this province, are not doing so only because they don't work hard enough, because they don't have talent, because they don't have any intrinsic merit.

I would say that this is a very dangerous proposition, that this is a proposition which in fact is the very stuff of systemic discrimination. Systemic discrimination depends on those who are the powerful and privileged in a system not recognizing their disproportionate power and privilege, not recognizing that their perceptions of others are filtered through the glass of that power and privilege and that they see others in a very different way because they make assumptions about those others based on all of their socialization and learning.

We heard Mr Clement, the member from Brampton, the other night extolling the virtues of individuality and going on and on about how we need a society where individuals can prove their merit and that this is why this government has to repeal an act that guaranteed employment equity.

There are those of us who believe we should have community values and community supports, not just individual strength, not just the strength of the fittest, as we might say; who believe that those who are not necessarily finding it possible to reach all the opportunities that should be available to citizens deserve all our support in order to improve their conditions of life, in order to improve their ability to provide for themselves and their families.

There's a little bit of a problem, you see, when this government talks about needing carrots instead of sticks when it comes to employment equity. Mr Clement was very clear: "Carrots work better than sticks. We must give incentives to employers to provide equal opportunity. We mustn't have the stick of a law that requires them to do that; we must offer carrots."


Yet when this government is talking about those who are poorest, those who are most vulnerable, it has no compunction whatsoever in using sticks. The stick of a 22% reduction in social assistance is hardly a carrot. Yet this government says it needs that stick in order to drive people to seek self-sufficiency and independence. I don't believe those sticks are required at all.

Many of those on social assistance have found themselves blocked by the systemic discrimination this bill was intended to relieve. When we look at those groups dependent upon social assistance, we see huge numbers, the vast majority, who fall into the designated group characteristics. We see aboriginal people with an 80% unemployment rate. We see our black communities, where young people are losing hope and losing faith in this system of government and in fact in all our institutions because, try as they may, they see no opportunity of advancement.

Indeed, we did many studies that showed it was not a question of individual discrimination, although, as members of the opposition have pointed out, that often is the case with employment agencies and it often is the case in terms of employment practice. But just our ability to ask questions that bring out the merit in people, our ability to look at differing experiences as being real, is one of those issues that are part of systemic discrimination.

One of the objectives of employers and employees working together to devise the goals they had in terms of diversifying their workplace, in terms of looking at the nature of job descriptions to ensure that those job descriptions did not include in them code words that would ensure that only those who have had those jobs in the past get those jobs in the future, was the ability to look at the whole selection process to ensure that, in the first instance, people know about jobs, that there's an outreach to communities that have the merit, have the training, have the ability but may not have felt welcome in that workplace. That's a very real issue, because if one looks at a workplace which is all made up of people who are homogeneous and if one looks different or one seems different or has a different way of looking at the world, it is hard to feel welcome to even apply to that kind of organization unless one knows one is welcome.

Part of the whole purpose of employment equity was to get employers and employees together to look at the ways in which they truly open their doors to the wide range of talents available; that we look at our own perceptions and ensure that as we look at others, we are truly looking at their merit, that we are not looking at their skin colour or their relative physical ability or sensory ability, that we are looking at their ability to do the job and that the qualifications for the job are uppermost.

People cannot argue that this has been true when you look at the statistical studies that have been done, when you look at how underrepresented are even those who have the same level of education in this community, the same abilities, when it comes to employment.

All we have to do is look at the lack of use that is made of women in our society. This is the biggest group. This is why this can hardly be called a special-interest group, when 52% of the population is part of the group. When we look at the very real job discrimination that has been found again and again and again in private studies, in government studies, in statistical studies and in qualitative studies, we have seen that in fact it is difficult for those who have always held the power to share their power with the new group of women who are coming up, and we find that that is very real.

Certainly we, as electors, know it's a watchword in all of our parties that for women to win nominations and to win elections, it takes real will on the part of our parties, takes real support on the part of our colleagues. If that support is missing, we don't get it.

Therefore, it's important for us to recognize very clearly that many people with good qualifications, the top qualifications, are in fact often not even considered for the job.

Women still remain, for the most part, clustered in 20 of the occupational groups, which, given the wide range of educational opportunities now available to women, is very, very indicative of the inability of women to move forward.

Many people in the opposition say: "If people really worked hard, if they really tried, they would get ahead. After all, I did." Well, that again is taking out of the equation the benefits we get when we are part of a dominant group.

The claim of the opposition is that somehow there will be interference with business through employment equity. I want to counter this with some of the comments we've had from some of our strongest employer groups in this province.

Mr Robert Rochon, the director of employment equity at National Grocers -- National Grocers employs 30,000 workers across Ontario -- said: "Regardless of any legislative requirement, this" -- ie, employment equity -- "is a good business decision for us. When you consider the changing face of Canada, it just makes good business sense."

National Grocers was one of the groups that acted as advisers to our government in setting up employment equity. That employer adviser group agreed that while there are some employers in this province who are willing, voluntarily, to extend employment equity in this province, a voluntary basis would not necessarily work.

Mr John Hastings (Etobicoke-Rexdale): Why not?

Mrs Boyd: Because it hasn't for years. The previous Conservative government set up a policy of equal opportunity. It gave little titles about being an equal opportunity employer. The statistical evidence shows very clearly that there was very little change in the makeup of the workforce of this province in spite of the changes in availability of well-qualified, highly educated people.


The Acting Speaker (Mr Gilles E. Morin): Just wait for your time. There will be questions and comments.

Mrs Boyd: The member in the corner may want to hold on to his notion that this is some insidious plot to foist people who are not qualified into the workplace, but that is absolutely untrue. No employer and no employee would want to be in a situation where someone was hired only because they're a member of the designated group. Our legislation was very clear: The major consideration had to be qualifications, and only if all the qualifications were met would the issue of the goals already set by that employer in conjunction with the employees be looked at as a factor in a hiring decision.

I quote from a Manulife Financial official who during our employment equity hearings said to those hearings: "Employment equity is not only a legal, social and moral obligation. It is also a commonsense business policy designed to increase productivity, improve our ability to attract and retain talented employees and enhance our position in both domestic and international markets."

I don't think there's any disagreement in this House -- or at least the speeches from the government side have indicated that they believe it is in the best interests of employers to use employment equity techniques to ensure diversity in the workplace. The problem is that the statistics clearly show employers do not do this unless they are required to do so; just as pay equity, while everybody said, "Oh, yes, everybody should be paid an equal amount for equal work," did not occur in this province until the previous government brought in pay equity legislation and our government improved it.

My mother would have said that fine words butter no parsnips. I would say to you that the fine words of the Conservatives butter no parsnips, and I would say to you that the fine words of the Conservatives butter no parsnips with the equity-seeking groups when they talk about "individuality," when they talk about "merit," when they talk about "equal opportunity." Those are all code words for the maintenance of the status quo, a status quo in which the groups designated under the Employment Equity Act do not have the same opportunity to fulfil their talent, to fulfil their promise and to contribute to our society.

I would urge the members on the government side to reconsider this ill-thought-out plan of repealing the employment equity bill.


The Acting Speaker: Questions and comments?

Mr John Gerretsen (Kingston and The Islands): I just have a few comments, and the first one deals with a comment the member made four or five minutes ago about how it makes good business sense, that some of the larger companies have voluntarily moved into the area and, as a matter of fact, applauded the program they had to implement. That makes it all the more interesting why section 1(5) of the proposed legislation specifically states, "Every person in possession of information collected from employees for the purpose of the Employment Equity Act, 1993 shall destroy the information as soon as reasonably possible after this act comes into force."

For the life of me, whether you're in favour of this act or whether you're in favour of the old act or whether you're in favour of no act at all, I cannot understand why the government would find it necessary that any information that has been gathered, particularly by large employers, ought to be destroyed.

I can well recall that in 1985 in the city of Kingston we did an employment equity study before there was any need in legislation to do so. As a result of the study, we implemented a program that I think made for a better workplace, made for a more understanding workplace, made for a more inviting workplace by people who applied for positions within the workplace. It would be crazy in a situation like that, surely, to now require employers to in effect have to destroy the kind of information they have collected.

There's no question about it: Merit should rule. The real question is, what do you do if you have employees or a potential number of employees who are equally meritorious --

The Acting Speaker: Your time has expired. I recognize the member for Hastings.

Mr Hastings: My first comment is that whether you're an old member or a new member in this House, the common procedure usually is that you designate the member by wherever they come from. One of the members of the opposition has twice made comment to me as "the member in the corner," so maybe the member for London Centre would prefer to call me the member from hell, since I'm that irrelevant in that context. I am the member for Etobicoke-Rexdale. Maybe they'll finally get it right, and thank you very much for that professional courtesy.

As far as observations on the employment equity bill are concerned, let me just say that if the approach of the previous government was so effective in terms of implementing employment equity plans required by large or medium-sized or small business operators to structure and find out the number and diversity of the folks in their workforce, then why, in the time in which the Employment Equity Commission was up and running, didn't they have more success than they had?

If it was such a marvellous bureaucratic model of efficiency in getting more diversity into the workforce, my point is, why wasn't it done with incentives instead of the heavy hand of penalties and compliance and the usual regulatory approach we've had around here for umpteen number of years?

I've spoken to a large number of people, during the past election and since then, and their point usually is, when you talk about this issue of employment equity, that they do not want the state involved in terms of trying to give them a hand up.

The Acting Speaker: Your time has expired. And, Mr Hastings, I apologize to you; you are the member for Etobicoke-Rexdale.

Mr Rosario Marchese (Fort York): I want to congratulate the member for London Centre for her comments. They make sense to me and I hope they make sense to a lot of the listeners watching this program. I know they don't make sense to the members opposite, but we understand that.

A few remarks: The member for Etobicoke-Rexdale asks a few questions and says, if it was so effective, why have we had no success? I'm not quite sure what he means by all of that. The program has begun only a short while ago. It hasn't been years and years that we have passed this. We have given companies time to be able to compile the information because it takes time in order for them to be able to do that, and so until we have the collection of the data and until we give employers and employees an opportunity to put programs into place to make employment equity effective, how do we know whether it's effective or not? That's the point.

But we need the information, and to offer Mr Gerretsen an explanation as to why they are compelling employers to destroy the data, my feeling is they don't want the data to be collected. They don't want proof to show that we have a problem in the workplace, and so they want to destroy the data, because what the data will show is that the people we're trying to help are underrepresented in the workforce. By destroying the data, you won't be able to have yet more evidence of the problem.

The point, to the member for Etobicoke-Rexdale, is that the voluntary programs have never worked. Issues of equity are complicated, most people resist bringing about equity in the workplace, and that is why we need employment equity. That's why this bill was put into place: to bring about, once and for all, fairness to 80% of the population that has not had fairness in the workplace.

Mr Alvin Curling (Scarborough North): As I listen carefully to my colleague from London Centre, it makes a lot of sense, actually. I just hope that some of the remarks and the comments that she made were reflected fully inside the last employment equity bill. I think it was going in the right direction but some of it got hijacked by some of the interest groups.

But as I listened to my colleague from Etobicoke-Rexdale too in his comments talking about the carrot aspect of it, I just want to remind him, of course, as the member for London Centre stated, that that concept has been used for almost 100 years, and what happened? We found that there are people within our society who have systematically been discriminated against. This government has now gone back to the status quo. They feel now, "Let's go back to the carrot." We're saying it doesn't work. It doesn't work by many, many studies that have shown you blatantly, all the time.

My good friend the Minister of Education and Training is here, and I know his commitment to fairness and, as they made savage attacks on the Education Act in employment equity, that he will make sure that it is back in place, that fairness, equity, will be demonstrated in there.

I was really appalled, as I said, as they go with their hunt of search-and-destroy aspect of it in the Police Services Act and all over, to tell everyone that all is fair. And, as it is stated, it makes good business sense to have all people participate, because they do have merit but they have systematically been shut out of the force. I just want to say, just listen to reason and common sense, if they do have any.

The Acting Speaker: The member for London Centre, you have two minutes to reply.

Mrs Boyd: First, to the member for Etobicoke-Rexdale, the honourable John Hastings, I can understand your error, sir. I could have leapt up on a point of privilege in the middle of your comments, because you attributed something to me that certainly was not something that I felt. I may disagree with you, sir, but I would never use an epithet like that towards you.

I think it's very important for those of us in this House to recognize that what is going on here in this House is a retrograde step. It is a step backward in history, as my friend from Scarborough just pointed out, and the argument that people will voluntarily cede power and privilege to those who are not like them has never been shown to be true in our history.


If we look at the long, long fight for women to win the vote, and then to win some measure of access to education, some measure of access to the working world, you will know that is not true. If we look at the United States, where slavery was abolished a century before legal action made it possible for young people to get an equitable education, we know it is not true.

When we look at the statistical evidence in our own province and in our own society, whatever the expressions of good will which may come from the powerful and privileged overclass in our society that they will suddenly, voluntarily open their doors, we know it is not true.

If it had been true, it would have happened a long time ago. We have wasted the talents and the skills and the education of hundreds and hundreds of thousands of people in this province, and the purpose of the Employment Equity Act was to stop that from happening in the future.

The Acting Speaker: Further debate?

Hon John Snobelen (Minister of Education and Training): As my colleagues on this side of the House have said, and as the people of Ontario know, job quotas are wrong. They interfere with an employer's ability to hire the best qualified candidate for a job. They do not promote the merit principle. They do create a burdensome and expensive bureaucracy without getting at the root of discrimination.

I agree fully with my friend and colleague from across, the member for Scarborough North, that discrimination in the workplace is wrong. It's not only wrong, it's against the law, pure and simple. The Ontario Human Rights Code forbids it; the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms forbids it.

The bill which is receiving second reading today repeals sections of the Education Act that have implications for school boards in Ontario. They are paragraph 8(1)29 and subsection 135(5) dealing with the affirmative action in employment equity.

It is also my intention to revoke related policy and program memoranda numbers 92 and 111 once the Job Quotas Repeal Act comes into effect.

Policy and program memorandum number 92 was issued by the Ministry of Education in 1986 and established the objective that school boards achieve numerical quotas. Policy and program memorandum number 111 was issued by the Ministry of Education in 1990 and also required school boards to develop and submit plans for achieving quotas.

By repealing sections of the Education Act and revoking related policy and program memoranda, we are ensuring that, like all other sectors, school boards are no longer obliged to meet job quotas.

The mandate of school boards, colleges and universities is to act not only as employers but also as providers of education to an increasing number of students from very diverse backgrounds. I believe that the academic performance and personal growth of students should be supported by teachers who represent the diversity of Ontario society and by an inclusive, bias-free curriculum. In this way, students will be equipped with the knowledge, skills and values needed to fully understand and appreciate cultural diversity. They will also be better prepared to live and work comfortably and effectively in what has become a global society.

Our government and my ministry are committed to fairness in employment and to the removal of barriers in our schools, colleges and universities. We support an educational environment that meets the needs of a diverse society and we are determined in our opposition to discrimination in Ontario's education system.

That is why we are developing a workplace equal opportunity plan to promote equal opportunity for all Ontarians in the education sector. This plan will include a clear policy statement that will provide a framework for school boards, colleges and universities. It will be developed by the ministry through discussions with the educational community. This policy statement will reflect our commitment to restore merit as the basis for hiring, promotion and other employment decisions; remove barriers to achieving fairness for all in the education sector workplace; ensure employment accommodation in accordance with the Ontario Human Rights Code; and prevent and respond effectively to workplace discrimination and harassment.

Additional elements of our plan needed to help schools, colleges and universities achieve workplace equal opportunity will be identified with input from the educational community. Details will be developed and shared with our education partners as soon as possible.

Many educational institutions have already introduced various equal opportunity incentives at the workplace. We applaud these achievements and encourage our education partners to build on their successes to date.

In addition to developing a workplace equal opportunity plan for the educational sector, the Ministry of Education and Training is developing an anti-discrimination education program. As my honourable colleagues may know, anti-discrimination initiatives are the focus of a number of policies and programs in education. Their intent is to help create and promote a learning environment that accommodates the needs of all students and reflects the experiences and viewpoints of a diverse society.

Initiatives such as the Common Curriculum, the violence-free schools policy and a harassment and discrimination prevention policy for Ontario colleges and universities will be part of our new anti-discrimination education program.

I'm looking forward to working with all of our partners in education in continuing to remove barriers to equal opportunity. It's through our combined efforts, not through legislated job quotas, that fairness will result for all.

The Acting Speaker: Questions or comments?

Ms Annamarie Castrilli (Downsview): I'm happy to respond to Minister Snobelen. I'd like to make a couple of points, first with regard to the protections that currently exist in Canadian and Ontario law: the Human Rights Code and the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms.

The minister has stated that they make discrimination illegal and, to some extent, we agree. But I ask the minister to look in our institutions and see if that's really the case. The fact is that we need an enforcement mechanism. That enforcement mechanism at the moment simply does not exist. That is what employment equity legislation tries to address.

The Human Rights Code is not an effective instrument for enforcement. If you look at the Human Rights Commission, you will see an incredible backlog that not only requires that cases take months and sometimes years to come to the light of the tribunal, but in fact they're not even brought to the tribunal because of the long delays and the long time that it takes and the money it takes for individuals to pursue their case before the tribunal.

I'm interested in what the minister has to say with respect to the new policy that he's proposing. Particularly with regard to colleges and universities, I would say this to you, Minister: The fact is that universities and colleges require a certain amount of freedom. Quotas will not be accepted lightly, but employment equity is not a quota, and that is what you don't seem to understand. Employment equity is an affirmative action plan. It's a plan that provides equal opportunity that does not require legislated levels of participation of people.

With respect to your anti-discrimination policy, may I suggest to you that the best way to assure that there is no discrimination with regard to students in colleges and universities is that you have a clear plan for funding for universities and particularly for students in order to ensure that there's accessibility in the schools.

Mr Marchese: I want to be able to say that what this government has done with Bill 8 in repealing Bill 79, and in addition to that also adding to it aspects of what we have done under the Education Act and the Police Services Act, programs that brought about greater fairness for women, greater fairness for the designated groups -- having shown that it was effective and that it worked, they destroy it, they eliminate it. We've shown through the other two sections that they're repealing in the Education Act and the Police Services Act that it was working. Because it was working, they're destroying it.


In this regard, all I want to say is that this minister should be ashamed of standing up to speak to an issue that was working and he eliminates it. Then he says, "Oh, it wasn't working, but we're going to make it work," and he talks about eliminating barriers. Bill 79 was about eliminating barriers, that's what it was about, but he stands up and says, "We're going to eliminate barriers." If Bill 79 was intended to eliminate barriers, how will his equal opportunity plan eliminate barriers where there is no plan? There is no plan. They haven't brought a plan. We're not going to get a plan. There will be no enforcement of the plan. There will be no way to measure that plan.

How this minister can stand up and say that this bill restores merit is an embarrassment, because clearly he hasn't read the report, clearly he knows nothing about Bill 79. Bill 79 is about merit; it's about affirming merit. He knows that, and I urge him to read that report before he makes those irresponsible comments.

Mr Curling: I listened very carefully to my colleague the Minister of Education. I think that he has more confidence in what his government is doing than the people outside in Ontario, because the fact is that I had hoped somehow -- and I know that he will get around to addressing this aspect of it. I will emphasize again that Access to Trades and Professions is a very good document to look at. That policy and that paper said very plainly that there are people who are shut out, those who have merit, from participating in the system.

I want you to look very carefully, Mister Minister, at many of those professional organizations that feel they can control people from coming in, those who have merit. That's what employment equity is about: allowing those people to participate and play a role and be productive in our society. Your government has continued to look at other programs, like the ESL program, and not fund them itself. These are people who are qualified -- just give them the necessary tools with which to have access, to come in to participate in society -- who are shut out. Just take a very close look, and I will emphasize it: The status quo is not working. It did not work. It shuts people out.

I was rather excited about the fact that my colleague who was making a comment from the NDP side, who talked about merit itself, the member for Fort York, actually did not -- I think that government did not understand fully the scope of employment equity, because you don't cut deals with interest groups. You make things fair for all people. You don't cut deals with the unions and what have you, because the fact is employment equity is about fairness to all. The white male who is qualified must participate in society and must not be shut out; the black male or the disabled, whoever, must do that. So let's address those issues in a fair way.

Mrs Boyd: I'm pleased to make a comment on the minister's speech as well, because I too was a Minister of Education. He must be encountering many of the same things that I did as I went around the province talking to student groups and parent groups and community groups.

One of the realities of Ontario today is the diversity of our communities, not only in Toronto -- there seems to be some belief that diversity is only an issue in Toronto. It certainly is an issue in London and Ottawa, in Hamilton, in Sudbury, in Thunder Bay, even maybe in Lake Nipigon. I'm not certain of that, but certainly in terms of aboriginal people the first nations are very much represented in the riding of Lake Nipigon.

When I was Minister of Education, I was hearing from all those groups and from educators of teachers that there was real concern about how the teaching profession, how the schools, how the universities and colleges in our province were going to meet the needs of that diversity and how, having held out an equitable education to young people and given them an opportunity to become educated, we were going to guarantee them that they would be able to find jobs in their chosen profession of teaching.

The Southeast Asian Teachers' Association, for example, was deeply concerned and could show instance after instance after instance where higher qualifications, stronger teaching records and better ability to meet the needs of a diverse population were available to teachers who had not been hired by school boards that were not hiring equitably.

We hear instance after instance of that from young people who have gone through the training, who have high, high marks, and who find themselves not able to get jobs at the end. The only explanation that they have is that they have been shut out because they are not part of the dominant community.

The Acting Speaker: Minister, you have two minutes in reply.

Hon Mr Snobelen: To the member for Downsview, if I can --

Mr Marchese: Fort York.

Hon Mr Snobelen: Yes. We only have two minutes. I'll talk to the member for Downsview for just a moment. I can give you this advice: If it looks like a quota, if it sounds like a quota, if it smells like a quota, it's a quota.

To the member for London Centre, I'm very aware of the diversity of Ontario. I come from the region of Peel, from the city of Mississauga, where we're very proud of being one of the most diverse communities in the world. I understand very much the need for our classrooms to look like our communities, and I think that's something we all need to work towards.

I am also cognizant of the fact that in my riding there are many small business owners who resent -- deeply resent -- governments or any others accusing them, with no evidence, of discriminating; accusing them of using discriminating work practices. We do not find that in our tour of my riding, ladies and gentlemen. We find people in the business community who value the skills they need, who value the skills from around the world that they need to get along in the business world today. Most business competitors, if not all, understand that we have to look global if we want to participate globally, and that's one our great strengths here in Ontario.

To my friend the member for Scarborough North, I know that he makes his statements very seriously. I want him to know that we have looked at much of what he has said this afternoon and that we also are very concerned with making sure that the people who come to Ontario from around the world have their qualifications recognized in Ontario. It makes sense for the province and it certainly makes sense for those people.

The Acting Speaker: Further debate?

Ms Castrilli: Let me begin by saying that it's clear to me that the government has adopted a strategy of throwing as many pieces of legislation, as many issues as it can at the opposition, leaving as little time as possible for debate.

The intent is not for the government to appear efficient and committed to its agenda, as it states, but in fact to attempt, in an undemocratic fashion, to try to overwhelm the opposition and its critics, to stifle the opportunity for the public and the members of this House to debate fully the real issues. This was visible in the government's handling of Bill 7 and is noticeable again in the handling of Bill 8.

Ontario is blessed with a rich and diverse population. Well in excess of 60% of its people are women, minorities, aboriginal and the disabled. My own riding of Downsview represents this reality very well, and you should know, as the Minister of Education and Training, that in my riding we speak well over 85 languages. Yet our structure nowhere reflects this reality, this diversity, at the highest levels: not in any government body, not in any government agency, not in any court, not in any institution. No executive board, no board of directors and no managing body of any major corporate organization even begins to approximate the demographics of Ontario. These facts testify to the need for special considerations in the employment field.


The term "employment equity" was first introduced by Judge Rosalie Abella in her 1984 commission report, Equality in Employment. Judge Abella explained:

"Equality in employment means that no one is denied opportunities for reasons that have nothing to do with inherent ability. It means equal access, free from arbitrary obstructions."

Disadvantaged groups often encounter higher levels of unemployment and underemployment, lower pay for equal qualification and lower participation in positions of authority. Therefore, the goal of employment equity is to balance the variation between disadvantaged groups and their advantaged counterparts in terms of economic participation, pay and opportunities.

Let me cite some interesting facts. The Economic Council of Canada explained in 1992 that racial minority immigrants earned much less than expected on the basis of job qualifications such as education and work experience. For example, black male immigrants often earn 20% less -- that's after adjusting for other factors that are known to influence earnings, such as age, education and urban residence.

Today, despite all of the rhetoric, women in Canada continue on average to earn only about 65% of men's wages while clustered in only about 20 occupational groups. The percentage of Canadians reporting disabilities is approximately 15%, a sector of society that we know all too well suffers from a much lower average income. These are statistics, not my interpretation.

Unemployment rates for disadvantaged groups generally hover far above the national average, particularly among aboriginals, with as high as 30% unemployment, and the disabled, as many as 15% of whom are generally without jobs.

It is clear from these and other indicators that we, as a society, have a long way to go to create a truly even playing field. We must wipe away any and all biased beliefs that members of these designated groups are in any way not as capable as others. It is a fact that racism, discrimination and sexism are very real social problems and we must endeavour to dig them out of the foundation of our society.

Clearly, there is need for employment equity. It confronts workplace norms and strives to ensure that our working environments reflect not only a select few but all of us, all of our brothers regardless of colour, all of our children regardless of colour and disability and race.

Employment equity addresses the systemic biases inherent in our system, biases against those who have little or no power, traditionally women, minorities and the disabled. These are biases that exist not because our system is malicious but because it ignores merit in a significant part of its population, preferring instead to focus on race, colour, gender and disability.

The Progressive Conservative government may well choose to believe that discrimination is no longer a problem faced by large numbers of Canadians. Such a belief is not only wrong, it is irresponsible. Systemic discrimination continues to hamper the hopes and aspirations of so many in Ontario and across this land and it is this systemic problem that we must address continuously in pursuit of fairness for all Ontarians.

We have made some strides in the last couple of decades. We are witnessing a larger number of aboriginal youths entering schools and entering the workplace, offering greater opportunities for this community; disabled Canadians have developed greater confidence and hope and are seeking employment in greater numbers; immigration levels in Canada continue to bring large numbers of new citizens to our country, increasing the proportion of visible minorities; and women continue to enter the workforce in larger numbers and for longer periods.

Nevertheless, the inequalities persist, and now is not the time to ignore the facts or our social responsibilities.

Far from being a burden on society, these Ontarians want to be productive members of that society, but they need a chance: a chance to learn, a chance to be considered and a chance to shine. For many, this cannot happen without creating a level playing field -- not job quotas, not job quotas at all, but equal opportunity for jobs. Job barriers and glass ceilings must be torn down in favour of the merit principle, for all and not just for a select few.

That is what real employment equity is all about. It most assuredly is not about the unskilled and the unprepared being promoted because of their origins, colour or their gender. It is about having regard for their abilities despite their origins, colour and gender. Our society can only benefit from ensuring that all our residents are allowed to use all their talents for the benefit of all. This is the Ontario I want my children to grow up in and this is the Ontario all our children should experience.

This past summer, Omnibus Consulting Inc surveyed 221 Ontario employers regarding their intentions with respect to employment equity under a Tory government. It may surprise you, but the results are quite telling: 70% of those polled in fact said that reform or repeal of the law would have little effect on their conduct because employment equity is simply good for business.

As an example of business's belief in a balanced playing field, Robert Rochon, director of employment equity for National Grocers Co Ltd, stated to the media his continued support for employment equity. As the member for London Centre has already noted -- and I'd like to cite Mr Rochon's quotation in its entirety -- Mr Rochon emphatically believes in the merits of employment equity. I quote:

"Regardless of any legislative requirement, this is a good business decision for us.... When you consider the changing face of Canada, it just makes good business sense to reflect the customers that you serve."

North American Life Assurance Co, Chatham's Union Gas Ltd and Toronto's Wellesley Hospital are just some of the other employers on record as supportive of the employment equity goals. Clearly, there is widespread belief that we as a society have a role and must continuously strive to break down the barriers to opportunity. This is Canada. This is what Canada is all about.

Yet once again this government is apparently finding it very easy to destroy legislation and programs while offering very few alternatives and solutions instead. We've all seen in this House how they reduced welfare benefits and created no job programs, we've seen how they've decimated child care and provided no alternatives for working parents, and now the same is true with employment equity.

You will recall that during the election campaign, the Tories promised to replace the employment equity legislation with an equal opportunity plan. While the government has stated that it is working on such a policy -- we've heard the minister say that -- we have yet to see any evidence of this. There is no plan in place to deal with inequities: inequities in education, inequities in training, inequities in opportunity.

It is clear that the government does not believe safeguards for the most vulnerable citizens are important enough to introduce simultaneously with the dismantling of the current system. We seem to destroy very well; we don't seem to build well at all in this House. Anyone can tear down walls, but it takes foresight, compassion and -- need I say it? -- imagination to present something constructive, to build a fair society. Ontarians expect leadership and direction from their governments. This government is failing to live up to that challenge.


With the elimination of employment equity legislation, Ontarians need to be assured that other safeguards are implemented to prevent a complete reversal of even the small gains that disadvantaged groups have experienced in recent years, gains that have been to the benefit not only of the individuals involved but for the whole society, something we should bear in mind. A productive member is a productive member for society, not just for themselves.

To ensure true equality of opportunity in the workplace requires a strong ethical, social and economic foundation upon which we can continue the construction of the even playing field.

You will recall that the Tories stated during the election that a key ingredient of such a goal is an improved education and training system that ensures all Ontarians have the skills needed to compete in the workplace. Nevertheless, we have witnessed no movement on the part of this government, despite what the minister has said, towards an improved educational system. In fact, the government has made no major announcement, no policy proposals, no mention at all of post-secondary education other than to cut funding and slash training programs and initiatives. This is not foresight, this is not compassion, this is not intelligence and this is definitely not leadership.

I encourage the government to spend a little less time attempting to eliminate legislation and legislative memories of past governments and spend a little more time developing policies that will truly reform government in a productive manner.

There must be much more communication and consultation with the people of Ontario -- particularly those stakeholder groups most affected by government action -- and less rule by decree. This is the essence of good governance. I should not have to remind the government that it has the awesome responsibility of representing all groups in society, not just the privileged.

I call on the government to reconsider its position on this misguided piece of legislation.

The Acting Speaker (Ms Marilyn Churley): Questions and/or comments?

Ms Frances Lankin (Beaches-Woodbine): I appreciate the comments of the previous speaker. I am actually very pleased to hear that kind of support coming from a member of the Liberal caucus. I know we have had differences at times in our approaches to our previous government's legislation. I remember during the election campaign hearing her leader talk about "mandatory opportunity," and I have to say I was quite confused about what those words meant and what the impact would be.

But I appreciate the words of the speaker today, because I think she in many ways has addressed the challenge that faces us in the province of Ontario today, in this field and many others, as we see legislation being taken apart and don't see constructive alternatives being put in place.

I want to share with you just for a moment the importance of this legislation and why I agree with the member's comments. In 1976, I had an opportunity to become an employed member of the Ministry of Correctional Services, in a position as a jail guard at the Don Jail in the city of Toronto. You may know that is a profession that, particularly at that time, was a male-predominant profession. I was one of three women hired. Each of the three of us was put on a different shift -- it's a 24-hour operation -- so there was only one woman working in the institution at any given time.

This was this institution's answer to an equal opportunity mandate that had come from the government of Ontario to them. This was voluntary employment equity. It didn't work. Let me tell you that it was a very long time and a very hard journey to encourage more women to come into that workplace and, of course, the management structures to open up their selection process to even consider women.

For those of you who talk about merit, I appreciate the qualities and the importance of merit and want to see the best people hired for the jobs, but let me tell you, too many times the best person is overlooked because of discrimination, because of bias on the part of the person doing the hiring.

Voluntary employment equity or equal opportunity is not going to erase that very real fact. I think your approach is wrongheaded. I'm sorry to see that you're headed in that direction.

Mr Hastings: I would like to point out that this whole criticism from the opposition benches that this particular policy can't work, won't work, is a direct repudiation of their own policy. Where is the proof or the evidence that it was working?

Even the member for Downsview has conceded that there was little statistical evidence that there were major gains being made by women in the workplace. She quoted the statistic of 65% of earning capacity. If an Employment Equity Commission were the real approach to this, it should've speeded it up almost overnight.

The problem here is that we have an approach which is social engineering of the worst ilk. It doesn't work any more than, as they say, the voluntary approach; it's failing, if we're looking at it in a philosophical sense.

To me, the real problem is not to have a group of bureaucrats dealing with the situation; we need to be meeting, as part of an equal opportunity plan, with those particular professions and trades to find out where we can create a plan of equivalencies, when people come from new countries from around the world where the rate of education and progress is somewhat different or significantly different from what we find in the Ontario or Canadian model.

That's where we have to put some work: into an equal employment or opportunity plan instead of using the state's power to say, "This is the way you will develop social engineering; this how we're going to plan your life." People in the outside world -- of which we're not the privileged -- want to see opportunity, but they don't want to have a bureaucrat telling them how they're going to implement the approach.

Mr Joseph Cordiano (Lawrence): I concur with the remarks made by my colleague the member for Downsview. How eloquent she was in making those remarks. I thought her comments were succinct, laid out the case very concisely, and all in all she made some very relevant points.

At the end of the day, obviously we're talking about very little here, because the government's bill talks about nothing. It attempts to do nothing, so there is not much to talk about with respect to Bill 8.

On the other side of the equation, Bill 79, the previous government's legislation, had difficulties within it that I think we could not live with, and ultimately changes were necessary. My colleague pointed out what some of those changes might be.

We fundamentally agree with the principle of employment equity. We have always agreed with that, and we will continue to advocate for some form of legislation which would put in place those key goals and objectives to bring about employment equity.

I think the governing party, the government, fails to understand that there are systemic barriers in our society, fails to understand that there has to be motivation on the part of employers. That motivation, I believe, has to come from legislation introduced by government.

If that weren't the case, we would've seen a great deal more improvement in our workplace, and we have not seen that improvement over the number of years that we've been talking about this issue. There has not been substantial progress made, and that is why we need to have some directional change by the government and some legislation.

Mrs Boyd: I also want to congratulate our colleague from Downsview for the stance she has taken on employment equity; and express, as the member for Beaches-Woodbine did, that should have been in the House when Bill 79 came through.

I should say that as we look at this whole issue, unfortunately, the member for Lawrence is wrong. This bill does something very serious and very drastic. It takes away the hope and the possibility from a lot of people in designated groups who were looking forward to having an opportunity, a real opportunity, to seek work and to work within their chosen field. It's terribly important for us to understand that the repealing of a bill that took as much time and energy on the part of the communities affected to work with government and to work with employers to make this act possible is a very serious thing.


I should say that the whole idea that this is not much, the taking away of this opportunity, is very distressful to me. What happened over the two and a half years that we were working on this bill with the communities -- with employees, employers and the designated groups -- was a real coming together of the understanding that opportunity is more than fine words.

With respect to the comments that the member for Etobicoke-Rexdale made in response to the member for Downsview, I would just remind him that the first deadline in the act was for September 1995 and the other deadline stretched out for five years. His claim that government can't do it is simply wrong, because government didn't have a chance to help. The commission did not have a chance to vet plans or to ensure that plans were working, because the deadline had not been met for one plan.

The Acting Speaker: Thank you very much. The member's time is up.

Mrs Boyd: This government cancelled the deadline.

The Acting Speaker: The member for Downsview has two minutes to respond.

Ms Castrilli: Let me say first to the member for Etobicoke-Rexdale how delighted I am that he has such an interest in this issue. It's unfortunate that he's totally wrong on it, but I'm delighted that he has an opinion, however wrongheaded it might be, and I will defend his right to be wrong at every turn.

Let's deal with some facts. First of all, the member for Etobicoke-Rexdale seems to be anti-bureaucracy. We've heard him say that time after time. That's his standard answer to everything. Well, sir, the reality is that the plan that you have in mind, the plan that you seem to have announced here -- and, frankly, you're the first to announce such a plan; I assume you have the authority to do that -- I think would require even more bureaucracy than anything we've had to date. It will be interesting to see what it is that you come up with in the future.

The second point I'd like to make is that I'm really not sure where you get the information that my position is that employment equity has not worked. All I said was that the gains were small and we should keep trying, and that means a strengthening of practices, not an elimination of practices altogether.

The problem with what the Tories are proposing is that they're dismantling something and providing nothing in return. That's what's wrong with what you're proposing.

Let me also just say in closing that I agree fully with the member for London Centre. Opportunity is more than fine words, and, quite frankly, all we hear from the government side is fine words over and over again. Enough of the rhetoric. If you really believe in opportunity, let's see a plan.

The Acting Speaker: Further debate? I recognize the leader of the third party.

Mr Bob Rae (York South): I'm very pleased to take part in this debate, though I must say it's the first debate I've ever spoken to in the House where the bill is based on a lie. To be perfectly blunt, the bill states in its title that this is An Act to repeal job quotas and to restore merit-based employment practices in Ontario. There are no job quotas in the province that I'm aware of, and merit-based employment is widely practised and widely shared and it's a practice that all of us support.

It's no accident that there is a lie in the title of the bill. There's a lie in the title of the bill because the entire Tory campaign in the last election was also based on a lie. The lie was that there was a practice in the province of job quotas, the lie was that this was something that was sanctioned by the government, and the lie was that there was legislation in the province which endorsed quotas. That is a lie. It's a lie which is based on the premise that the bigger the lie and the more often you tell it and the louder you shout it from the rooftops, the more likely it is to be believed. But I would say to members of the House that it's one thing for the Tories to run their campaign on a lie and it's another thing to base their legislation on the same premise.

Let's go back in time to the origins of this debate in this House. The members opposite who are in the House today will not be familiar with any of this because it predates their political lives.

Back in the 1970s and 1980s, there was a growing feeling across the province that in a great many professions and walks of life it was becoming intolerable that they were not accessible and they were not reflective of the changing makeup of the province. We had the situation where high school principals were in the 90 per cents men, where public school principals were in the 90 per cents men. We've got a situation where even today in our public schools, the vast majority of public schools, the teachers are women and the principals are men. That's still the case today.

It's changing, it's evolving, it's reforming and it's improving, but I dare say that it would have not have improved without the pressure of legislation and the pressure of opinion changing and shifting, the two together.

I can recall raising issues and questions, and my colleagues in the House, in the early 1980s looking at situations in policing, looking at situations in education, looking at situations in the public sector, and then we began to turn our attention to problems in the private sector.

We were not alone in this. This was not some ideological agenda of the New Democratic Party. It was shared widely in the Liberal Party. It was shared widely on the federal scene. The federal Conservative Party appointed Rosalie Abella, now Madam Justice Rosalie Abella of the Court of Appeal, to write a report with respect to the situation in Ottawa. This report came down, Judge Abella's report, which very clearly established that there were significant problems of discrimination against women, of discrimination against visible minorities and disabled people, which discrimination was systemic and which discrimination required a positive response from governments. The federal government, under the leadership of Brian Mulroney, brought in such legislation. It was modest, it was not revolutionary, but it was a step in the right direction.

We then began to push here in Ontario for a similar direction. We had meetings during the time of the accord negotiations in which the question of employment equity was on the agenda. My colleague from Scarborough, who for some reason has moved his seat -- I'm not quite sure why, but he's still my colleague from Scarborough and my good friend -- was a minister in the Peterson government and he will recall the discussions that he and I even had, personal conversations in which we said there are areas in which we need to make significant progress, policing being one of them, and in which we agreed that this needed to be done.

Joan Smith, who was the Solicitor General at the time, agreed that it needed to be done and we needed to look at those areas and professions where progress could be made. I'm sorry to say that we did not make as much progress as I would have liked in the years between 1985 and 1990, but we made some -- not as much as I would have liked, but some was made.

We then decided that we ourselves would carry out a very broad-based consultation, led by my colleague Elaine Ziemba, whose leadership in this area has been simply outstanding; widespread discussions with the private sector, widespread discussions in the public sector, a white paper brought out, discussion carried on, legislation brought forward, significant amendments to the legislation and a broad acceptance within the private sector of what it was that we were trying to do.

Whole groups of companies were excluded from the legislation. All this description by the member for Etobicoke-Rexdale who just spoke, this description of somehow a bureaucrat was going to decide how opportunities would be established -- false, totally false. He clearly hasn't read the legislation, doesn't know anything about it. I'm sure he hasn't even seen it.

Ms Lankin: Just repeating the mantra.

Mr Rae: He just repeated what he said on the campaign doorstep. I've never heard a debate that's been so full of total misrepresentation and, frankly, lies. Lies, lies, lies; it has to be said.

You talk about job quotas; that's a lie. You talk about the importance of merit and say that there's no provision for merit; that's a lie and it has to be said.

What you are doing with this legislation is taking this province back -- not prior to 1990. You're not taking this back -- it's just what you did with Bill 7. You are carrying out a Reform, Preston Manning agenda in this House. We can see it on the Constitution. You're trying to turn Ontario into a colony for the thinking of Preston Manning. It's preposterous that in the Legislature for the last two days we've tried to get the Premier and the Minister of Intergovernmental Affairs to recognize that we're not a colony of Preston Manning. I'll be damned if I'm going to sit around and rest quietly while these yahoos in the back try to turn this province into a colony for the Reform Party. I will not stand for it.


You've got nothing to do with Progressive Conservatism. Bill Davis would not have stood for this kind of nonsense. Even in policing, even in education, you're setting us back. You're going to turn the province into the social policy laughingstock of Canada. Other provinces are recognizing the need to move ahead in equity, the need to move ahead in diversity, the need to understand the need for opportunity. This group of Reform Party yahoos is taking us in the opposite direction. The only people who are raising the issue of employment equity in the House of Commons and saying that they're opposed to it is the Reform Party, and we have exactly the same philosophy at heart here in the province of Ontario.

I see my colleague the member for Frontenac-Addington is sitting very quietly in the back. He will know perfectly well; he was a member of the caucus, he was a member of the party in power in Ottawa between 1984 and 1993 that passed legislation in Ottawa on employment equity. He voted for it, and here he comes in and says, "Not only are we going to repeal the entire legislation; we're going to go back to the Police Services Act" and all the elements that we've tried to bring in, critical for social peace, critical for diversity, critical for making sure that policing is reflective and representative of the community, and even that you people aren't prepared to support.

It really is a group of people who are so determined, in the name of their own ideology, to reverse direction in a way that just takes away fundamentally from some of the great social progress that needs to be done. If the party opposite had said, "There are some things about this legislation that we want to amend," I think we all would have understood that. Clearly they won the election; they have a mandate to do that.

But this notion that nothing good ever happened between 1985 and 1995 and they're the only ones who ever thought of anything original -- my God, what incredible, stupid arrogance. What a stupid arrogance that's in place, arrogance that's based on a lie, arrogance that's based on a systematic ignorance of what's going on in the province, of the need of diversity. Your party doesn't reflect the diversity, your caucus doesn't reflect the diversity, and therefore you say, "so we don't want anybody else to reflect the diversity." It's a disgrace; it really is truly a disgrace.

There is a problem with police. There are problems with the structure and the makeup in our educational system. There is a problem facing university teachers. There's a problem facing all of our institutions, both public and private, with respect to diversity and with respect to making sure that people of disability, to making sure that women and men have equal access to positions of responsibility. If the members opposite don't want to admit that, if somehow they think they were elected to carry out some Neanderthal policy of patriarchy for all time, I'm sorry, I don't subscribe to it; I think it's wrong.

If they're afraid to do the decent thing for the province of Quebec, I'm not afraid to say that's what needs to be done and I refuse to be intimidated and told, "You're in a bad mood today so you're not allowed to even talk about that issue." We are going to continue to talk about it.

I do not think it's right that the brain, the mind, the heart and soul of this province should be taken over by a mean-spirited, right-wing, Republican, Newt Gingrich ideology in the name and the face of the Tory party of Ontario. It's not something that should be allowed to happen. When they bring in this legislation and they base it on a lie, you're going to get a response from this party and from this group of individuals.

You cannot rewrite history, you cannot pretend that history didn't happen, you cannot pretend that progress was not made and you cannot deny it, even to the point where under section 5, look how far the oppression is supposed to go. Those employers which have carried out, because they think it's the right thing to do, because it's positive and progressive, whether it's the CBC or private broadcasters or anyone else, who have now collected some information for the purposes of complying with employment equity, all that has to be destroyed.

You talk about oppressive, you talk about intrusive. The member for Etobicoke-Rexdale talks about the power of the state. What could be more preposterous than saying to employers who have legitimately been gathering information for purposes of employment practices, in some cases for years, that they all have to destroy that information? What could be stupider as an example of public policy?

This government is dead set on everything. Every day is a new announcement: today workers' compensation, no mention of the progress that was made, no recognition of the fact that big steps were being taken, no recognition of any of that -- no, no, no, all done in the name of a narrow ideology, and in this case it's an ideology which is based on a lie.

They lie when they say there are job quotas. There are no job quotas. They lie when they say we have to restore merit-based employment. There's always been merit-based employment and we all support it. That is how the Tory party got elected. They got elected on a lie and now they're trying to pass legislation on a lie, and I think it's a lousy idea.

Mr David Turnbull (York Mills): On a point of order, Madam Speaker: I would ask the leader of the third party to withdraw the suggestion that the Tories are lying. This is not parliamentary language.

The Acting Speaker: I would ask the leader of the third party -- he has offended certain parties in the government party -- if he would apologize. He has that opportunity to do so.

Mr David S. Cooke (Windsor-Riverside): On the same point of order, Madam Speaker: I think the rules of this place are very clear. You cannot accuse another member of the Legislature of lying. The speech that the leader of the third party gave was very clear. It talked about the campaign policies that were put forward by the Tory party. There's no accusation of a member of this Legislature and there were no rules or traditions of this place offended.

Mr Curling: On the same point of order, Madam Speaker: I think I listened very, very carefully and I heard the leader of the third party state very emphatically that the concept was based on a lie. I didn't think he called anyone a liar over there and I don't think that he was out of order at all.

The Acting Speaker: If I may, to all members on the same point of order: Before we continue with this, it is clear that the leader of the third party did not accuse anybody on the government side, any individual, of lying. What I have said to the leader of the third party is that some people found his language offensive and he has been given the opportunity, if he so wishes, to apologize for that. But the rules are very clear and the member did not break those rules. He did not refer to any individual as a liar or say that anybody told a lie.

Mr Gilles Bisson (Cochrane South): Madam Speaker, on the same point of order.


The Acting Speaker: Order, please. Is this on the same point of order? I've ruled on that point of order. We'll now move to comments and questions. The member for Cochrane North.

Mr Bisson: South.

The Acting Speaker: South. Oh, I'm so sorry.

Mr Bisson: I must give you a geography lesson, Madam Speaker. Cochrane is a wonderful district, but there's a southern and a northern part. I represent the south.

I want to take this opportunity to comment on two points from my leader in regard to this bill. I totally agree with the member's assertion that what this bill is, quite frankly, is a big lie. If members of the opposition take that as offensive, it is not meant to be offensive; it is meant to be the truth.


The act clearly states under Bill 8 -- and I'd read the title of the act. It says, "An Act to repeal job quotas and to restore merit-based employment practices in Ontario." This bill has nothing to do with repealing job quotas, because job quotas never existed. Under the employment equity legislation of the NDP government that was passed some few years ago, it was very clear that the act never spelled out that there would be quotas that would be applied to any hiring practices within the province of Ontario. To further assert through this bill that we're restoring merit-based employment is totally preposterous and is a lie, because we've always had merit-based employment in this province prior to Bill 8 and after Bill 8.

So for the members to get upset on the other side because the leader of the third party, my leader, Mr Rae, has said that this act, as in the title, is a big lie -- he is totally true, and I think the case is very well put.

On the question of wahoos, I think he's 100% right. You have a bunch of ideologically driven wahoos in the opposition who believe that they're going to go out and they're going to restate what this province is all about. This province is based on a series of events that have unfolded over a period of time, of history, which have stated where we are as a people in this province. For these wahoos in the government to come forward and all of a sudden start reasserting their view of things on this province, I think is not only wrong, it is mean-spirited, and yes, they are wahoos.

The Acting Speaker: The member's time is up. Further questions or comments? I recognize the member for Niagara Falls.

Mr Bart Maves (Niagara Falls): For the last 10 minutes here and previously I have flipped through the member for York South's hero, Edmund Burke, and I can't find the word "yahoo" for the life of me. So where he pulled that out of, I don't know.

On the one hand, the opposition continues to admit that large companies are already hiring from across all of society's groups because it's good business. I agree. I say yes, they are hiring from across all of society's groups. Why? Because these people are qualified and they deserve the job. That's the point. If businesses are doing this now of their own volition, as the people on the other side continue to say, then why do we need a $50,000 fine hanging over their head? We don't is the answer.

We obviously don't have a society completely free of prejudice. Nobody does. But you can't get rid of the categorization of human beings by enshrining that very same categorization in legislation. I firmly believe in the power of education to enlighten, and it is education that is the key to developing a non-prejudicial society.

Mr Curling: I just want to make some comments about the member for York South, the leader of the third party. There's no doubt that his passion for equity can't be challenged. I know that he believes in it very strongly. The good thing about this House is that while we agree with all of that, sometimes we can have a bit of disagreement. But there's no hesitation at all for me to say that I don't have this kind of doubt with that leader. He believes in the issue.

I could tell you something: Even though we didn't vote for that bill in the Liberal Party, they had public consultations, they went all over. We heard many, many people come in and criticize and support that bill.

What appals me, actually, is that this search-and-destroy legislation that came in has no policy, no plan. We just keep hearing announcements all the time about this. You have gone about and destroyed what was in place, not that we fully and totally agreed with it. But the fact is I can't believe that the Minister of Citizenship, the Minister of Education and the minister responsible for the police would come in here and fully agree with that.

I would say to you it's rather a shame on all your parts. I expected somehow in that process, as you listened to some of the intelligent representation that has been put forward, it might convince you somehow to show some compassion and reason, the fact that all people of this province would like to participate, to make a contribution.

If you continue to bring legislation in that goes back and is regressive in its form, back to the status quo where there was no participation, we're going to say, "Shame on you," and you shall pay for it in that sense. We hope that somehow we have more public consultation and that we have some sort of plan that's brought in place.

I want to commend the member for his excellent presentation.

Mr Peter Kormos (Welland-Thorold): Just a few days ago, down in Thorold, where the March of Dimes, in conjunction with the Association for Community Living -- and I know the member for Lincoln was with me -- was unveiling their new centre, designed to demonstrate and illustrate and be a resource centre to accommodate persons with disabilities in their homes, why, on the door entering this building was a précis of the Employment Equity Act as it has existed.

The folks in that building, the folks working with the March of Dimes and the volunteers and the many, many people who avail themselves of the services provided by community living programs and the March of Dimes, were certainly in a bittersweet mood. They relished the chance, finally, to access workplaces, you see, because accessibility isn't just about building ramps.

Unfortunately, there's some pretty reactionary perspectives out there that suggest that if you widen doorways and build ramps, that means accessibility. Accessibility means making sure that people live in decency and dignity and that people are entitled to work at decent jobs with decent pays, regardless of who they are, what they are and regardless of whether they suffer from or endure a given disability.

Unfortunately, this government cannot explain to those people from the March of Dimes why it's tearing that poster down off the wall, the employment equity rules and standards in précis form. It can't explain to those people from the March of Dimes and similar organizations of volunteers and activists why the door is being slammed in their faces, why they're being told that "This Ontario does not include you."

I say it's a shameful exercise on the part of a government --

The Acting Speaker: The member's time is up.

Mr Kormos: -- that clearly has no interest and certainly no concern --

The Acting Speaker: The member's time is up. Thank you very much.

Mr Kormos: -- about our disabled citizens.

The Acting Speaker: The leader of the third party has two minutes to respond.

Mr Rae: I used strong language because I believe that only the strongest of language can describe my views when somebody brings in a bill that in the very title talks about repealing something that doesn't exist. They do that for a reason.

I can't recall a piece of legislation -- people want to say that something's out of order. I'll tell you what's out of order. How about an act that in its very name talks about something which doesn't exist? Is that not intended to frighten people or to create a false impression? I can't imagine anything more likely to create a false impression in the minds of people. This isn't the title that would have come from the government drafters. This is a title that comes straight out of the Common Sense Revolution, straight out of that political document.

So I say to members opposite, you carry out that kind of partisan politics, you bring in that kind of language and you use those kinds of measures, and you're darn right, I'm going to use very strong language to describe it. I do not think the public policy agenda of this province should be hijacked by the kind of right-wing ideology that you people represent, and I intend to continue to say that and continue to express it in the strongest possible language, and for that I will make absolutely no apology.

The Deputy Speaker (Mr Bert Johnson): Further debate?

Mr Joseph N. Tascona (Simcoe Centre): It is with great honour that I stand here today to represent my riding and to support my colleague the Minister of Citizenship, Culture and Recreation in her introduction of Bill 8, An Act to repeal job quotas and to restore merit-based employment practices in Ontario. I've had the pleasure of briefly speaking in this House since my election on June 8, but this is my first opportunity to speak on the reading of such an important piece of legislation as Bill 8.

I would like to begin by thanking the constituents of Simcoe Centre for placing their trust in me to represent them at Queen's Park. It is a challenge and responsibility I accept with pride.

Simcoe Centre is a dynamic riding, the fifth-largest in the province. In the south, it stretches from the town of Bradford West Gwillimbury, Ontario's agricultural heartland, and the town of Innisfil, a fast-growing municipality that is becoming a gateway to commerce and recreation in the north. At its centre, my riding includes my home town, the beautiful city of Barrie, and to the northwest it contains the southern part of the township of Springwater, formerly known as the township of Vespra.


The people of Simcoe Centre expect nothing less than fair and honest government. They expect fair and responsible legislation, which is why I must speak out today on the need to repeal the existing job quota law.

The existing legislation is a barrier to fairness and equality. It is a piece of legislation based on myth and not reality. It is a roadblock on the path to ensure that employers everywhere hire on the basis of merit, a path I think most sensible employers already follow.

The goal of this government is to remove barriers to equality of opportunity. Time and time again we have restated our commitment to encouraging economic prosperity and new opportunities for all Ontarians. I speak in favour of Bill 8 as a proponent of fairness and equality. I stand here as a proponent of the cultural diversity which makes this province great. I stand here as a proponent of government policy which will foster growth and renewed prosperity. I also stand here today as an opponent of unfair competition and redundancy. This existing piece of legislation, this so-called job quota law, is unfair and a true example of redundancy.

A strong Human Rights Code makes the current job quota legislation redundant. Such redundancy is unnecessary and unwarranted. Legislation already exists to ensure affirmative action: the Charter of Rights and Freedoms and the Ontario Human Rights Code, which represent the core values of our society and make it a legal requirement for employers to provide equal treatment without discrimination to all current and prospective employees. It already makes smart business sense for employers to follow the principles of these pieces of legislation.

Let this House create a climate which fosters opportunity. Let this House give a hand up to those in need. Let us encourage Ontarians to exploit their potential and explore opportunities that may at first seem out of reach. But we must not let this House fall victim to redundant legislation and myths of injustice. This House must adopt Bill 8 so that we can remove legislative barriers that require employers to make decisions based on meeting quotas or satisfying a numbers game. Bill 8 will give employers the opportunity to hire on merit-based principles, something all employers should be able to do. Bill 8 will encourage employers to take a proactive approach to ensure fairness and equity.

My grandparents came to this country at the turn of the century. They didn't speak the language. Their accents and customs were a bit different from everybody else's. There were people who thought they didn't fit in, yet they succeeded. They worked hard. There weren't any job quota laws back then, and special-interest groups didn't demand such laws. But my grandparents prospered anyway, and they prospered by working hard and earning the respect of those around them.

I refuse to believe that times have changed so much that we need legislation such as the existing job quota law. People want to know they won the race because they deserved to win. People want genuine respect, and such respect can only come by earning it. Respect can't be fostered by legislating quotas.

There are those who will say I'm not a member of the minority group and therefore may have a different perspective than they do on this issue. But I do speak as a member of the majority of the people of this province. By that I mean I speak as a part of the majority of people in this province who believe success should be achieved based on personal merit. No one wants to win a game that is rigged. I speak as part of the majority of people who don't like feeling they got something at the expense of someone else who is more deserving. That is an injustice.

I promised the people of Simcoe Centre to govern fairly, with honesty and integrity. I urge this House to restore integrity and fairness to employment practices by supporting the Minister of Citizenship, Culture and Recreation and voting to pass the Job Quotas Repeal Act.

The Deputy Speaker: Questions or comments?

Mr Cordiano: I can't help but think that what we've just heard is anachronistic at best and brings us back to a time -- it's really a time warp, living in another era where everything was idealistic and seemed to work in a province that was rather homogenous and did not have the kind of diversity that exists today. I think if the members opposite truly believe that there are very few problems indeed with regard to discrimination in the workplace, then we're in for a very difficult time in the future in this province, because we are very much in favour of employment equity, very much in favour of the principle. To overcome the barriers, the systemic discrimination that exists, you need some motivation on the part of employers. You need to have some direction from government in that regard.

Oh, there are good employers out there. There are people out there who are fairminded and have made enormous progress in terms of employing the wide diversity of people who exist in the province today who make up this great province.

I say to members opposite, if on the other hand you do not believe that there is any requirement for any of those additional measures that the government might take -- and we see nothing before the House today; we see nothing that this government has presented in order to move forward, in order to make the kind of progress this government so intended during the election campaign that would replace the legislation that is being replaced today by the repeal of Bill 79 -- then I say to the government they're living in a dreamland, because this province will not move forward. This province will not be as competitive on the international level as it should be when we have employment in the province of Ontario that reflects the diversity of the population.

That's what this is all about. That's what employment equity is all about, and when you deny that, you deny a forward-looking province, you deny the possibilities that exist for this province in the future.

Mr Marchese: I think it's important to remind the members on the other side, the government members, that in 1974 it was a Conservative government that introduced affirmative action programs. In 1986, Judge Abella wrote 100 recommendations in a report called the Commission of Inquiry on Equality in Employment, and it was the federal Conservative government that introduced employment equity programs. There are Conservatives who did that in 1974, Conservatives who did this in 1986. The Reform Party of today in this House is abolishing all of that. Not only are they abolishing what we've introduced, but all of the affirmative action programs, employment equity action programs introduced by Conservative governments before. They're gone. They're bringing us back prior to 1974. That's what they're doing.

Those studies were an attempt to restore integrity and to restore merit where there was no integrity and where there was no merit. The study by Abella and the programs introduced by two Conservative governments were intended to restore merit. We introduced an employment equity bill which did just that: to bring about fairness in the workplace, to bring about equal opportunity for people who haven't had it for a long time, in spite of those things that other governments have tried to do.

The Human Rights Commission, the Human Rights Code is not sufficient to bring about equality for working people, for those designated groups. The Human Rights Code and Human Rights Commission do not deal with systemic discrimination in the workplace. They know it; we all know it. That's why we introduced Bill 79: to bring about fairness, to bring about equality to people, to 80% of the population that hasn't had it. This bill does not tell the truth. As our leader said, it tells a big lie about what Bill 79 is all about.


Mr Ron Johnson (Brantford): I'm pleased today to stand in support of Bill 8, and I want to congratulate the Honourable Marilyn Mushinski for bringing that piece of legislation forward.

I take offence at the leader of the third party saying that this legislation is based on a lie. If this isn't a quota system that's in place today, what are the numerical goals for? What are the timetables for implementation for? What's the $50,000 fine for, if these aren't job quotas? They're quotas by any other name.

I want to add that this legislation today is in good keeping with our campaign commitment to eliminate those very job quotas. I listened very carefully to the opposition members and I am astonished in particular with the Liberal members across the floor.

I want to take us back, just for a brief moment, to July 15, 1993, on a debate on Bill 79. The honourable member for Oriole goes on to say in debate: "People find quotas offensive, I find quotas offensive, and that's not what the 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."

These are the words of a Liberal member just as recently as 1993, and they sit here today and they support quotas in this House. That is absolutely astonishing to me. The reality is that the people of this province have no idea where the Liberals stand on this issue, I have no idea where the Liberals stand on this issue, and the Liberals don't even know where the Liberals stand on this issue.

Mr Michael A. Brown (Algoma-Manitoulin): I too wish to comment on the speech that was just given. I look at this, and having heard the comments of the member across the floor, it's quite clear that the Liberal Party is in favour of getting rid of the quotas, but it understands that there are barriers out there that need to be addressed.

I just want to tell you that the principle of merit is the all-important principle in hiring, but one does not have to be a rocket scientist; all one has to do is have their eyes open. To look around Ontario and to believe that right now people with the most merit are being hired, I don't believe that to be true, and I don't believe anybody in this House can believe that to be true. Therefore, we do need legislation that provides for people to be able to be hired on merit. That's what this is about.

No, we don't need quotas. That is a bad and reprehensible approach. But yes, we do need programs that address the barriers that are there. What you're doing is not what the CSR promised. The CSR promised to get rid of quotas. It didn't promise to get rid of all of this legislation.

I'm in favour of getting rid of quotas. Everything the Liberal Party has said is perfectly consistent with that. But I want to tell the members opposite: Your solution is the Human Rights Commission. I've been around this place for about eight years. I get a huge number of complaints from employers about having to go to the Human Rights Commission because some employee has lodged a complaint with the Human Rights Commission. You just wait and see how the employer community is going to react to this bill when they're lined up paying the bills to fight battles at the Human Rights Commission.

The Deputy Speaker: That's all the questions and comments. The Chair recognizes the member for Simcoe Centre.

Mr Tascona: I stand here as a member of the Progressive Conservative Party, not a member of the Reform Party, but I will say this: that Bill 8 reforms the unfairness in the present workplace caused by this piece of legislation that we're repealing.

There is legislation in place to deal with discrimination, and it also provides for affirmative action, and it's been in place for many years. Job quotas, everybody knows, are barriers to equal opportunity in employment.

I would say this: Let us go forward and treat all our citizens equally, based on merit. And I will say this: Bill 8 is not a lie, but it is a lie to say there are no job quotas in the NDP legislation and that quotas are needed in this province.

Mrs Sandra Pupatello (Windsor-Sandwich): I want to begin today with something that someone far cleverer than me said, and that was, "We ought to feed politicians what they really enjoy, and that's some of their own words." I would ask specifically the Conservative members to pay heed.

On this issue of employment equity, I'd like you to know specifically what the now ministers have said in the past regarding employment equity.

In fact, our Minister of Labour, Elizabeth Witmer, has said, "Employers should be required to recruit and train members from the four designated groups." What an interesting thought, given today's actions.

Conservative MPP Charles Harnick, now our Attorney General, said, "I am proud to say that my party supports the idea of employment equity without discrimination." That is Hansard from September 1994, not all that long ago.

Even the leader of his party, now Premier, said that employment equity would need to be reworked -- I believe that was "reworked" and not entirely repealed -- and called the penalties in the law weak. An interesting position, given what the government is doing this week in terms of employment equity.

There certainly is dissention among even the members of the Tory caucus, and I'd like to suggest comments made by MPP, and now minister, Cam Jackson. He suggested, "Women don't face any problems of access to jobs in Ontario." For the 50-plus per cent of the population of Ontario who are women, I'd like them to pay particular note to that. Any of us who have been in the workforce have seen clearly that there have been barriers. I'm proud to say that women have certainly led the charge in attempting to make change, and there has been change, but obviously there are barriers. I'd like the people of Ontario to note too that this individual is now a minister with this Ontario government, and he feels that women face no barriers to job access in Ontario. We need to have that on record.

Perhaps the most interesting comments of all were from the deputy House leader of the Tory caucus, the member for St Andrew-St Patrick, Isabel Bassett. She wrote a report, and let me quote her for the members, because I know you haven't heard this before and you'd find this particularly interesting:

"Clearly, females will never achieve true equality until they can count on an equal start in life. This means demanding fundamental changes in a system that inhibits women's development."

She goes on further: "It's interesting to note, as Maureen McTeer points out, that not all discriminatory treatment of women comes from men. There are still some `queen bees' around. They are the women who have been the lone, token woman in an organization for so long that they resent younger, sometimes better-trained women coming along."

Still quoting Isabel Bassett: "This leaves affirmative action as the only viable solution to the problem, and a substantial number of career women agree. When asked on our poll of career women, `Do you approve or disapprove of affirmative action programs for women, ie, government-enacted legislation requiring that a stipulated proportion of top jobs in government be filled by women?' 67% approved. Women see government controls as a last resort. However, Maureen McTeer makes a valid point that since volunteer measures have not worked, there is a need for something more binding."

I must ask this government, what happened to Isabel Bassett in that cabinet? What happened to Isabel in the caucus? Where was her voice?


I have to suggest that on the discussion of employment equity, particularly the government members in this House, you really needed to go outside your caucus to get a true reflection of what the issue of employment equity is all about. The sheer demographics of your group speak to that. Indeed you are not representative, even as members, of what is out there in the community.

When I read the kinds of comments that have been made by your own members, why were they shut out of the process here? Why were people like Isabel not allowed to say: "Wait. Don't repeal this bill without having something in place"?

In my brief remarks to this today I'd like to speak to the process, the process of repealing a bill in its entirety without offering alternatives.

While you were on the campaign trail you continued to bring forward a six-point plan that deals with employment equity, because when you talked about it, you seemed to have an understanding for how much it was required in the workplace. All I can ask you today is why: Why have you chosen to bring forward the repeal of a bill that needed to be modified but that was good in its content? Why are you bringing this forward without having your six-point plan that you've been trumpeting on the campaign trail but when it comes to action don't have here today?

I'd like the people of Ontario to know that this is more ideologues driving a government agenda. Clearly this repealing of the bill has nothing to do with what really matters to Ontario today: that you have a mandate to balance the budget, that you have a mandate to create jobs.

Let's look at the Toronto Star business section: "Focus on Debt Urged." What does employment equity and ramming this through in such a hasty manner have to do with jobs in Ontario? What does it have to do with balancing the budget? Why have you chosen this kind of priority for government today? Why are you making us stand up and ask, "Why aren't you thinking about all the people in Ontario?" Clearly you're not thinking of the prioritizing that even the people who voted for you expected because you campaigned on it.

It's obvious that this is not about employment equity per se. You've selected to target particular groups in Ontario that simply don't have a voice. They don't have the kind of organized voice that those who put you in your place have, and I'd like to be that voice for them as the other two parties in the House.

It's obvious that the government has no regard for designated groups currently recognized in the employment equity legislation, including women, the disabled, racial minorities and native groups. The government's made it clear, even by the focus of their cuts that have already taken place, that they don't believe barriers exist for those in those designated groups. Let me give you some examples in terms of how you and your cuts are going to inhibit these groups from gaining access to employment.

Through the multicultural areas, access to social assistance, cultural interpreters eliminated, a government saving of $5.2 million; anti-racism grants; operating grants; project funds; native community branches; community action funds; settlement and integration; access to the professional trade demonstration fund. The list goes on and on.

It's quite difficult for the people of Ontario to get a focus on where your targets were for the cuts. It was like a buckshot approach: They went everywhere. If we could only put it in order for the people at home so they could understand that they were very cleverly targeted, and targeted so you wouldn't have a voice.

Even the manner of your agenda and how you chose to bring it forward: You knew the whole nation was watching to see what would happen in the referendum vote of October 30, and you chose this week to bring the most significant changes to government in history because you knew the newspapers were going to focus on anything but what was happening in this House. I personally resent that you have this demonic method of targeting when you're doing what. That's exactly what you chose to do, so the people at home are thanking heaven that we still have a country today and don't realize what you're doing with employment equity legislation.

The Ontario Liberal Party does support principles of employment equity and merit. Merit should be the determining factor in driving the workforce. We need to address the inequities that are evident with certain employers and industries and we should be addressing them specifically without imposing quotas on the entire private sector.

A particularly persistent equity problem is lack of access to trades and professions, community-based organizations and employers to improve access for foreign-trained persons to trade professions.

We heard earlier that our Minister of Education and Training spoke. He failed to mention how critical his ministry is to a particular group of individuals who are immigrants to Ontario. In fact they come over, causing a severe brain-drain in the countries they come from, and Ontario is to benefit because they've managed to capture an education elsewhere at no cost to Ontario taxpayers, but when they arrive in Ontario we're not accrediting the kind of education they've had.

I have to urge the Minister of Education to seriously look at this matter. There are people in our midst who are employed not at levels that they could be, simply because of paperwork and administration. When the minister spoke today about the bill, he failed to recognize how pivotal his role could be in helping individuals who are immigrants gain access to better employment, instead of being underemployed, as they are.

I can't understand that a minister with this kind of portfolio wouldn't make that connection between what his job is as it relates to employment equity. He completely missed the boat on this. I'm happy to give him my ideas, for what it's worth, but I've got to tell you, some things aren't about politics. Would you kindly take the ideas that you know are going to work and take all the credit for them in the world? Just do it, because at the end of the day the people have to benefit from the kinds of things your government is bringing forward.

In the end, I've got to ask, why are we repealing this bill today without having any alternatives?

We have to understand that government often has a role to play in trying to create some public opinion where it really matters. I'd like to take you back a couple of decades at least. You may remember when they brought in the seatbelt law. I remember being at home, and everyone was pretty incensed that the government was going to tell us that we had to wear a seatbelt in the car now. Some people still refuse to do it, but today it's the most normal thing in the world to get in the car and put your seatbelt on. We know it's against the law to drive without them.

I would submit to you that when it comes to issues like employment equity, government has a significant role to play to show some leadership. While we're talking about employment equity today -- and for many of you this is clearly a new concept -- where we wish we will be in 20 or 30 years is that it will be the same as getting in the car and putting on your seatbelt, that you have things in place that are completely understood and that everyone have equal access to employment.

This government clearly has a role to play in that. You are not taking your responsibility seriously. I submit to you that there's still time. Please, don't just repeal the bill without having alternatives available that we can debate and that go about the right business of letting everyone work in Ontario.

The Deputy Speaker: Are there any questions and comments?

Ms Lankin: I want to congratulate the member for Windsor-Riverside --

Mrs Pupatello: Sandwich.

Ms Lankin: Windsor-Sandwich; sorry. Riverside's beside me, right? I've spent too much time in Windsor in the last five years.

I want to congratulate her for her remarks. I thought she hit a number of issues right on the head.

When she was speaking about the seatbelt law, a number of members opposite said, "What's that got to do with it?" Let me tell you very directly. It has to do with it in this way: You cannot legislate attitudes -- we know that -- but you can legislate behaviour. And you know what? Attitudes change as behaviour changes.

As I've heard people talk on this and extol the importance of the merit principle -- somehow suggesting that the legislation that was in place was moving away from that, but forget that dispute for a moment -- I want to tell you that merit hasn't always worked.

I spoke a little bit earlier about becoming one of the first three women correctional officers at the Don Jail. I want to tell you how I got that job: I got it because I was a woman. I survived in that job because I had merit, but merit couldn't get me through the door because of the biases and the systemic discrimination that existed within the correctional services of this province. There had to be a program, there had to be rules in place, there had to be a swift kick in the butt of some of those people to get them to change their behaviour. With time, and with the experience of myself and a number of other women eventually coming to work in what had been a traditional male workplace, attitudes started to change. With forced change in behaviour, attitudes started to change.

That's what the legislation is about. That's why we need an approach to systemic discrimination. The voluntary approach never has worked in this province or in any other jurisdiction, and you're sending us back to that no man's land.

Mr Tim Hudak (Niagara South): It's been several Liberal speakers today, and I still remain confused as to where exactly they stand on the quota issue. I understand the third party's position. I fundamentally disagree with the third party's position, but at least I know where they stand. None the less, throughout the speech given by the member for Windsor-Sandwich, I strove to see where she stood. I couldn't make out where her feet were, where she stood on this issue.


But during the campaign, when she toted her red book, they said, "The Employment Equity Act, which took effect...is widely regarded as adversarial, bureaucratic and expensive to administer." The red book said that the Liberals "believe that the guiding spirit in workplace decisions should be merit, not quotas."

Here we stand on the brink of repealing the quota bill and restoring the merit principle, yet when it takes some backbone to make the change, takes some backbone to restore the merit principle, the Liberal Party hesitates, turns tail and runs.

However, I am pleased to say that even after the Leader of the Opposition hands over her mantle to another leader down the road, the weather-vane that spins in the wind is alive and well in the Liberal Party.

Mr Cordiano: Let me just start off by saying how the comments of my colleague were indeed excellent and made the point very succinctly and her remarks were very eloquent. In fact, she summed it up just perfectly in terms of what the confusion is over there, the real confusion in that back bench. They're so confused they're in a daze. They haven't got a clue as to what's going on around them because they've been blinded completely by that Common Sense Revolution document that I think was beaten over their heads during the election campaign. Every time they threw it out there it hit them in the head as it was going through the air.

Anyway, let me just say that my colleague made the appropriate remarks and in fact tried to get the members opposite to really understand this issue from the principle of the matter, and I think this is where they fail. The point of departure is that they don't even agree with the principle. In fact, they've gone so far back to repudiate all of the progress that has been made, all the way back, as we've said and other speakers have said, from previous Progressive Conservative governments. It's a complete repudiation of any kind of progress.

Perhaps the previous government went too far, and we said that. We didn't support their legislation, because they went too far.


Mr Cordiano: Well, it's very clear that you're not going anywhere. You're not making any progress whatsoever, and you just simply will throw this away, not recognize the fact that there is discrimination in the workplace. You have no intention of helping anyone out there, and you simply will allow people to fend for themselves, because you don't believe -- you don't believe at all -- in the progress that has been made. You don't believe in any merit whatsoever. In fact, I would argue that you don't believe in the merit principle by virtue of the fact of what you're doing. You didn't bring forward a plan to make merit a fact of life in hiring, and that's the point that has to be made.

The Deputy Speaker: That's all the questions and --

Mrs Boyd: Rotation.

The Deputy Speaker: The Chair recognizes the member from -- York?

Mr Howard Hampton (Rainy River): Rainy River.

The Deputy Speaker: Rainy River. I'm sorry.

Mr Hampton: I want to simply comment briefly upon the principal speaker for the Liberal Party and say to her, you do indeed have difficulty, because the majority of the Liberal members who were here in the last Parliament stood up time and time again and said they were opposed to employment equity. Some said that they were opposed a great deal and some said they were opposed a little. That does create some problems for the Liberal Party and you'll have to sort that out yourself.

I wanted to go on to talk just for a moment about the reality of first nations in the province and to give people some actual historical examples.

I come from a community --

Mr Curling: Point of order.

The Deputy Speaker: Excuse me. Would the member for Rainy River take his seat for a minute. Your point of order.

Mr Curling: I can't remember any time that my party had said we didn't believe in employment equity.

The Deputy Speaker: There is no point of order. Would the member for Rainy River continue, please.

Mr Hampton: People need only look at the record of the votes, okay?

I want to talk just for a moment about the situation that first nations find themselves in, because I come from a community that is a pulp and paper mill town. Most people work in the paper mill; that's the core of the economy. There are no less than six first nations, six Indian reserves that surround that community. Some are two miles away, some are 20 miles away, some are 30 miles away. There are about 800 people who work in the paper mill. Most of the wood comes from adjacent to Indian reserves; a lot of it comes off Indian reserves to go to the mill.

How many native people do you think are employed in that paper mill? When the paper mill is going to hire new people, how many notices do you think go out to Indian reserves telling native people: "We're interested in hiring. Why don't you come in and apply?" How many native people do you think ever hear about that? None. So virtually no people from those Indian reserves are employed in the mill, despite the fact there are 80% and 90% unemployment rates in those communities.

The Deputy Speaker: That's all the questions and comments. The member for Windsor-Sandwich.

Mrs Pupatello: I guess I'd like to leave this topic of discussion today with a couple of thoughts. Firstly, the people who come from Windsor-Sandwich, whether they watch this or not, I hope remember the kind of glib and, if I might say, cavalier attitude that members here in the House are serving with this topic. Eventually, the actions of this government come back to haunt even the members of this House. Whether it's going to be the daughters of the members who may themselves be barred -- perhaps it'll be their son-in-law, who may or may not be a member of a minority group -- at some point you will personally experience what the repealing of this legislation will do.

May I submit to you that when that happens you'll know what members of the Liberal Party have known for a long time: that fairness is going to be the key for Ontario. As all of us are facing this strife and trying to cope with what we need economically in Ontario, this kind of legislation doesn't help; it only hurts.

I'd like to mention, too, to the member who said earlier, "Way back in a time when my parents came to this country," may I submit to you that my parents too came to this country, and what my parents and my grandparents will tell me is that today is not the same Canada that it was 30 years ago when they came, that in fact if we follow any financial information and documentation or any of the journals, you will know that today we have seen the last generation that is due to do better than their parents, and that should be a sobering thought.

So Norman Rockwell is no more, my friends. It's time you looked seriously at this.

The Deputy Speaker: Further debate?

Ms Marilyn Churley (Riverdale): I, as perhaps some other members here do, find these kinds of debates distressing at times, because it's late in the day, it's been a long day and people are tired. It's been an interesting and emotional week for many reasons for us here in this House. But I get disturbed because we're talking about people's lives, and I think sometimes in this House, as we debate more the policy around these issues, we tend to forget about the people out there who are affected by the kinds of laws we make and/or the laws we repeal.

Sometimes as members we stand up and we speak more to the constituents who voted for us and tend to perhaps forget about those who need some of the legislation. Perhaps the people who voted for some of us don't necessarily support, maybe don't understand and, in many cases, dislike. But I think all members in this House at all times, and particularly the government, which has the responsibility to govern for all the people, not just the people who elected you to be here and who really believe that what our government did was bring in a quota system -- we didn't.


We will continue to argue about that. I think that it's dishonest to tell people that. I don't think it's fair in a major economic downturn, when people are very concerned and afraid about unemployment, for people who are generally well heeled, in good positions in life to go out and tell people who are already very alarmed and worried about their position in this society and the workplace, tell them more or less directly, "You will not get this job because a black person is going to get it instead of you," or, "You won't get the job because this woman is going to get it instead of you." When you go out and tell people that, of course they're going to react.

I too heard at the door in the election campaign fear expressed about this law. I heard it expressed more than once. People expressed real worries about it -- young, white males and mothers of these young men. I don't blame some of those people for their fears and expressing them when they are being told in the press and through some of the members in this House, probably all of you in the campaign, that this was a quota system, that it wasn't merit and if you went into a job application as a white male, even if you were 10 times, 20 times, 100 times better than the black person who was in, that black person was going to get the job anyway. That was not our intent. It wasn't and isn't the law. I don't think there's any point in reiterating this any further because you're quite aware that it works in your favour.

The reality is there are a lot of people out there who were counting on this law to give them a fair chance to get in the door, to show that they too had the abilities. Now, I think everybody, almost everybody in the House has admitted that there is a problem, because if you don't admit that there's a problem, what you're saying is that it's not systemic discrimination, but that white men actually are better than all other groups, including women. Surely nobody in this room --


Ms Churley: I agree. I don't think anybody in this Legislature is saying that. Okay. If you're not saying that, what is the problem? You are admitting that there is a problem out there.

I believe people are, on the whole, nodding to that. Yes, I believe they are nodding that there is a problem. Okay. So what do we do about the problem?

For many, many years there was a voluntary system out there. What study after study after study showed is that it wasn't working. My goodness, would we have taken on such a controversial issue, such a difficult issue if we thought that there wasn't a problem? We went out and talked to people; people came and talked to us. We looked at the studies. We saw that this was a very difficult issue to take on. It's very hard to bring in fair employment equity. We feel that, and we know that we did that.

I am seeing with this government overall -- I'm going to try very hard not to be provocative. As a deputy Deputy Speaker, whatever I am, I know what it's like to be in the chair, having somebody jump up on points of order and trying to be neutral and fair, so I won't call people across the floor yahoos or anything like that.

But I will say that I am seeing a form of systemic discrimination going on by this government in its policies overall. If you will look at the cuts that have been made to date, if you combine that with repealing employment equity, which affects women, if you combine that with the kinds of cuts to welfare affecting thousands of women and their kids, if you combine that with the child care program development fund, that affects women and children. Eliminating the programs for male batterers -- that really affects women. It goes on and on and on, the effects. This, to me, is a form of systemic discrimination. I don't think that members of the government have really looked at what they've done and what they are doing and the fact that they are hurting women and kids in a disproportionate way. There's all kinds of evidence that shows that, and I'm very worried about it.

I was very worried today when the minister responsible for women's issues did not, I believe for the first time since the beginning of the acknowledging that there are wife batterers out there, get up and make a statement today. Usually, the government takes the lead. Today, not only did she not take the lead; that government refused unanimous consent for any of us to speak on this very, very serious issue.

Coming back to employment equity, which is one of many, many regressive moves by this government to hurt women, to hurt the disabled -- because let me say again that in the Common Sense Revolution and throughout the campaign, the Premier and members of the government said time and time again that they would not hurt the disabled, that they would not hurt the vulnerable in our society. They've already done that. They've already cut back incomes for the disabled. They've already affected their transit. Now this employment equity bill further affects the disabled.

They come in here and say, "Oh, yeah, yeah, we think we've got a problem," but, "Don't worry, don't worry; we're going to get rid of this bill and we'll bring in another bill." Where is it? We haven't seen it yet. I'm going to quote somebody here. Believe me, it's not my quote. I'm quoting a well-known Tory who may be on the outs with the Reform Party that we have in here today.

Mr James J. Bradley (St Catharines): Name names.

Ms Churley: I will name him. He said, basically, "Any jackass can kick the barn down, but it takes some good people to build it up." Dalton Camp said that on September 9, 1995. I saw him on TVOntario in a debate with Tom Long, I believe.

His point, of course, is totally relevant to the issue before us today. This government is not even bringing in new legislation. It's coming forward and saying, "We're repealing this," and, like the labour bill, not only repealing our bill, but it's going beyond that. This is doing the same thing. It's not just repealing the legislation that we have or the new legislation that we brought in, but it's going even further, unnecessarily.

This whole thing is unnecessary. If you would look at the bill carefully and talk directly to disabled people, talk directly to people of colour, talk to some women who are stuck in some job ghettos, talk to disabled people, talk to our first nations, I can assure you that if you really did go out and talk to some of those people directly -- get their stories. Find out what happened to them. Don't close your minds to this. There is a problem out there.

I regret very much that you're not bringing forward new legislation, but I urge you to look at what's happening and to come forward as soon as possible with legislation so that these people who were counting on being given a fair, equal chance in the workplace will still have some opportunity for that to happen.

Mr Speaker, it being almost 6 of the clock, I believe that I should adjourn the debate now.

The Deputy Speaker: It being 6 o'clock, this House stands adjourned until 10 o'clock tomorrow morning.

The House adjourned at 1800.