36th Parliament, 1st Session

L026 - Mon 20 Nov 1995 / Lun 20 Nov 1995





















































The House met at 1332.



The Speaker (Hon Allan K. McLean): Before beginning the business of the House this afternoon, may I remind all honourable members of the unveiling of the portrait of the former Speaker, Mr David Warner. The unveiling will take place in the lobby of the building at the grand staircase at 6:15 this evening.

In the past, the proceedings of the unveiling ceremony have been recorded by Hansard. Would it be the wish of the House to include this as an appendix to Hansard? Agreed.



Mr Dominic Agostino (Hamilton East): Later today I will introduce a private member's bill entitled An Act to provide for an Oath of Allegiance for the Members of the Legislative Assembly. This bill, if approved by my colleagues in the Legislature, will require elected members of this House to swear allegiance to both the Queen and our country, Canada. Never in our country's history has it been more important that we as leaders in our communities stand up and speak out about our love for and our allegiance to our country, Canada.

When I was in Montreal for the unity rally in October, I was struck by the hundreds of thousands of Canadians who were taking the time to speak out for Canada, thousands of people taking time to say, "I'm proud to be a Canadian." It was a very powerful message and an important message in the history of our country.

I feel that as leaders in our community today taking an oath of office, we should also state how proud we are to live and serve in this wonderful country. We can become the first legislative body in Canada in which members take an oath of allegiance to Canada. I am encouraged by the fact that the Premier has supported such a concept in the past, and I hope that all members will support this endeavour.

I'd like to stress that the tradition of the oath including the Queen is very important to me. My intention is not to take anything away from the significance of the Queen, but to have a stronger oath which includes and makes reference to Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II and to Canada.

I'm hopeful that together, in the spirit of unity, we too can change our oath of office to include Canada. I urge members of the House to support the bill.


Mr Bud Wildman (Algoma): I rise again to call the attention of the Solicitor General and members of the House to the need for a coroner's inquest into the death of Miss Kim Butler, and now unfortunately her daughter, Amanda, as a result of the accident that took place near Whitefish on Highway 17 a couple of weeks ago.

As has been stated in this House, prior to the cutbacks taking effect in highway maintenance, this accident occurred many hours after the storm had subsided in good weather conditions, but unfortunately the highway was still not clear. It was still in a horrendous condition, according to the investigating OPP officers.

It is really important that there be an independent inquiry, a coroner's inquest, that will tell not only the members of the family and other residents of northern Ontario, but all of us, what the possible causes were of this accident and what changes should be done in terms of highway maintenance in future to avoid similar accidents if possible.

I reiterate the need for a coroner's inquest and I would hope that the Solicitor General would use his office to ensure such an inquest is held into the deaths of both members of the Butler family.


Mrs Helen Johns (Huron): As another year's harvest comes to an end, I am reminded of the hardworking people of my riding, Huron county. John Galt was the founding member of the Canada Co, and he originally envisioned the settlement of Huron county as an agricultural experiment. Today, Huron county is the most productive county in Ontario and a world leader in numerous areas of agricultural technology and innovation.

Huron county is an agricultural leader in gross farm receipts, acres of farm land, number of farms, hens, pullets, white beans, winter wheat, barley and rutabagas.

Almost one fifth of the Huron county labour force is directly employed by agriculture, making it the most prominent Canadian agricultural region east of Winnipeg. Agriculture offers a wide variety of rewarding jobs and opportunities to the residents of Huron county. Huron county farmers are finding innovative ways to add value to their farm products and to supplement their farm income. Huron county agriculture is something for us to be proud of.


Mrs Elinor Caplan (Oriole): This past weekend the Ontario Association of Interval and Transition Houses held a membership meeting to discuss the recent Harris government cuts to first- and second-stage housing shelters. Today at a downtown hotel OAITH held a press conference to respond to the Harris government's unprecedented attack on abused, vulnerable women and their children here in Ontario.

The Ontario Association of Interval and Transition Houses represents 67 front-line emergency shelters and services for abused women and their children across this province. OAITH did not escape the axe of the Harris government and had its funding cut by 100%. Adding insult to injury, or should I say insult to their demise, this cruel cut came on the eve of Wife Assault Prevention Month.

In Ontario, we have witnessed the most ruthless cuts to people who need them most: vulnerable women and their vulnerable children. The government has displayed a total lack of regard towards abused women, which was clearly illustrated in their refusal to acknowledge Wife Assault Prevention Month until it was pointed out by the opposition.

It is time that this government stood up for abused women and gave them the hand up that the Premier frequently speaks about, rather than continuing to push them down and to remove and cut their safety net, which they need to have the support to get on with their lives.



Ms Shelley Martel (Sudbury East): I'd like to remind the Premier today of yet another organization in the Sudbury area which has been hit by Conservative funding cuts.

In 1986, the John Howard Society of Sudbury began a community youth support project to serve special-needs youth who were at risk of long-term dependency on the welfare system. The aim was to assist these young people in preparing for and gaining employment.

To this end, the project involved counselling services to encourage youth to stay in school, support for young people who had left the formal educational system but wanted to access upgrading and vocational programs and links to youth employment services to provide job-readiness training.

The project also focused on dealing with substance abuse of clients and assisting young people in conflict with family, school, society and the law. Support was provided to youth incarcerated at Cecil Fraser Youth Centre, Cedar Youth Residence and Nor-Kap who were due for release in the near future.

This project has benefited thousands of Sudbury and area youth, most of whom were living alone in hostels and who were at risk of long-term dependency on the system because they had neither the social, emotional nor educational skills to stay employed. The cancellation of funds for this youth support project puts these young people back at risk.

The board of directors and the staff of the John Howard Society would like Mike Harris to visit them when he is in Sudbury on November 24 to see first hand the work being done. They can't afford to pay $125 to attend the Tory fund-raiser, so they hope he'll visit them at Passi House. The executive director, Mr John Rimore, is in the members' gallery today, and we invite the Premier to come and we hope that he will.


Mr Ron Johnson (Brantford): I have here some of the latest statistics out of Brantford on the welfare caseloads. Needless to say, I have some very good news to report to the Legislature today.

On June 8, when the people of Ontario decided to elect a new and vibrant government with some fresh ideas, we were sitting at 2,607 welfare caseloads in my community. Since then, in five short months, that has dropped to 2,133, nearly 500 caseloads fewer at a time when caseloads have generally risen as the result of the end of seasonal employment.

I can see the Honourable Mr Rae over there shaking his head. I'd just like to tell him that in 1990 there were 1,200 --

Mr Bob Rae (York South): On a point of order, Mr Speaker: I want to assure the honourable member, since it's going to be in Hansard, that my head was not shaking, and if it was he would have been able to hear it.

Mr Ron Johnson: I'm going to tell him these numbers anyway. In 1990, there were 1,200 on welfare in our community. That has since risen, under his government, to over 3,500. I can tell you that they sit over there and they lecture us on welfare reform, but really the only thing they knew how to do was increase the size of a welfare cheque and put more people on the dole.


Mr Mario Sergio (Yorkview): It should come as no surprise to any observer of Ontario politics that the Harris government commitment to restructuring hospitals and health care facilities is going to hurt many people in this province. But frankly, when the government priorities begin to seriously affect the most vulnerable people in society -- I'm speaking of children -- then maybe it is time for the government to rethink its priorities.

Last week, I received a letter from Dr Ogilvie, a doctor who specializes in paediatric care. Dr Ogilvie expressed concern over the impact the planned Tory closure of hospitals will have on the delivery of health care services within the province, especially the impact the cuts will have on children's paediatric inpatient care. Dr Ogilvie notes that there has been a shift for more demand with respect to health care services for paediatric patients.

In view of the changes taking place at the Hospital for Sick Children, this has resulted in a shift of numerous paediatric ear, nose and throat care cases being transferred to peripheral hospitals such as North York Branson Hospital. As you know, Branson is on the Tory hit list.

The problem is serious. The shift in children's inpatient treatment to hospitals like Branson will be seriously undermined if and when the government finalizes its restructuring plans. It is therefore becoming --

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


Mr Peter Kormos (Welland-Thorold): I'm happy to see the Minister of Community and Social Services here, back from Las Vegas. He's got a damn peculiar idea about what it means to support the Ontario economy.

But he's got a lot of answering to do to folks down in Welland-Thorold and throughout the province who are running scared now, real scared, about what this government's cuts are going to do to public day care across the province of Ontario, and certainly the fear that's being expressed pretty consistently and far and wide by parents whose children are being taken care of on a daily basis at the regional day care centre in Welland: people like Lynda Welsh, who's got her two-and-a-half-year-old daughter Mandy at the regional day care, who's currently full-time at school in the adult learning centre, taking accounting and other programs that are going to enable her to have some modest competitiveness in the workforce if only there were jobs there -- it's simply going to be impossible for her to follow through with that training if this government, by its mean-spirited and stingy and nasty attitude towards day care, takes away that spot for her child -- people like Pattie Jamieson, again of Welland, who's working out of town for $7.65 an hour, who wants to be able to keep on doing it but needs regional day care services subsidized, if you will, if she's going to keep that employment and maintain the level of dignity that she's worked hard to achieve; people like Kimberly Wilson, with a four-year-old child at the regional Welland child care centre, real concerned about the prospect of cuts.

Maybe Mr Tsubouchi had better leave the slot machines for a few minutes and pay attention to what these people are talking about.


Mrs Janet Ecker (Durham West): Today Canadians are celebrating national Child Day. This is a day for all Canadians to reflect upon the importance of children and how we can ensure they receive the best of care.

I have recently been charged with the responsibility of reviewing Ontario's child care program and recommending a reform strategy to the Minister of Community and Social Services. Through this process I will be consulting with stakeholders throughout the province. My goal is to bring forward options for child care that parents and taxpayers can afford. In our dialogue the table will be open to options that use our resources as effectively as possible, ensure parental choice, encourage quality and balance the need for public and private modes of delivery.

Contrary to the speculation encouraged by the opposition, no child care policy decisions have been made. This government is concerned that some child care providers wish to make their concerns known by disrupting or closing child care centres this week. This scheme will deprive parents and children of care. Parents have a right to expect operators to act responsibly and ensure that services are provided, and the ministry expects that all requirements of the Day Nurseries Act will be met so that the health and safety of children are not jeopardized.

On national Child Day I would like to emphasize our government's commitment to protecting our children's future by encouraging growth and prosperity by getting --

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



Hon Bob Runciman (Solicitor General and Minister of Correctional Services): Ontario residents have repeatedly called for tougher sanctions against young offenders who show a flagrant disregard for the law. In keeping with the promise we made to the electorate last spring, this government is committed to delivering a program that would expose young offenders to the concepts of discipline and personal responsibility.

Today, as a first step towards implementing a clearer and more meaningful response to youth crime in Ontario, I am announcing the establishment of a task force of community leaders and members of provincial Parliament to develop a strict discipline program for Ontario young offenders.

Strict discipline programming for young offenders has recently been introduced in Manitoba and Alberta. Programs typically emphasize fundamental values such as personal accountability and self-respect in a highly structured atmosphere of rigorous physical discipline.

The task force will establish standards for security, work and basic skills training to maximize self-worth and rehabilitation of young offenders. Over the next four months, task force members will review Canadian and international models for strict discipline facilities, consult with stakeholders, and make recommendations on how a program of strict discipline should be tailored for the effective custody, management and treatment of young offenders in Ontario. New programming recommended by the task force will be implemented within current ministry budget allocations.

The task force will be co-chaired by my parliamentary assistant, Gary Carr, MPP for Oakville South, and Janet Ecker, parliamentary assistant to the Minister of Community and Social Services and MPP for Durham West.


Citizen members of the task force, who are present today in the Speaker's gallery and who will, I want to point out and emphasize, be volunteering their time, include Norman Inkster, former commissioner of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police and a past president of Interpol; Archie Ferguson, former commissioner of the Ontario Provincial Police; the Honourable John M. Seneshen of the Ontario Court (Provincial Division); Norman Peel, QC a London, Ontario, criminal lawyer; Franco Fragomeni, supervisor of psychological services at the Belleville General Hospital; and Gary Allan, former special programs coordinator at the Brockville Psychiatric Hospital. On behalf of all members of the Legislature, thank you, gentlemen.

The task force is to complete its recommendations by April 15, 1996.

This government is alarmed by Statistics Canada reports that the number of youths under the age of 18 who were charged with violent crime is increasing at a significant rate. The rising trend towards criminal involvement by young people must be addressed to prevent future crime and the unacceptable waste of human potential.

This is the first of a number of initiatives this government will be announcing to strengthen Ontario's justice system.


Hon Ernie L. Eves (Deputy Premier, Minister of Finance and Government House Leader): I rise today to table the final report of the Ontario Financial Review Commission, entitled Beyond the Numbers: A New Financial Management and Accountability Framework for Ontario.

Since being named Minister of Finance, I have taken a number of steps aimed at restoring credibility and public confidence in Ontario's finances. One of these first steps was to establish the Ontario Financial Review Commission last July 27. The eight commissioners, six from the accounting profession and two from the broader business community, were asked to advise on ways of improving Ontario's financial management, making financial reporting easier to understand and strengthening accountability. The commission, as part of that mandate, was also asked to examine the financial reporting and activities of certain crown agencies.

In the ensuing three months the commissioners have applied themselves diligently to their tasks, meeting with dozens of people from within and outside government, reviewing written submissions from members of the public and applying to their deliberations their experience and skill in financial management and reporting. Their report and recommendations, which I have just received, appear to be extremely comprehensive and detailed. I look forward to reviewing and responding to them.

Finally, I would like to thank the commission chair, Bill Broadhurst, past chairman of Price Waterhouse, and the vice-chair, Helen Sinclair, president of the Canadian Bankers Association, who are with us today in the members' gallery. My thanks extend also to commissioners Sonja Bata, of Bata Ltd; Hugh Bolton, of Coopers and Lybrand; Martin Calpin, of Deloitte and Touche; Cecil Fleming, of BDO Dunwoody; David Knight, of KPMG Peat Marwick Thorne; as well as Robert Lord of Ernst and Young.

The members of the Ontario Financial Review Commission, all of whom willingly volunteered their service, provide an exemplary model of the way dedicated private citizens across the province are working for the good of all Ontarians.


Mr David Ramsay (Timiskaming): First of all, I would like to say to the House that I believe this minister really has total disregard for this Legislature, where less than five minutes ago I received a copy of his statement to this House and yet he was in the media studio for the last half-hour giving a press conference about this statement. Mr Speaker, I'd ask that you would look into that so that he would be serving this House rather than the media.

I also would like to say that it's probably good that he's going to have a little study before he jumps into this, because I would refer the minister to all the literature that has been developed over the last five or six years in regard to boot camps -- and that's what we're talking about here -- in the United States. All that literature shows that recidivism rates are the very same for kids, young offenders, coming out of boot camps as they are for any other sort of institution.

This is very dramatic, very political action, but as a lot of the experiments in either a criminal justice or an education system there's more drama in the ideas than there are in the results. I would ask, before we get into a lot of expense with his blue ribbon committee, that the minister go look at that literature.

Several of the studies -- and I think the latest one has come out of an eight-state study in the United States. This has been authored by Doris Layton MacKenzie. They studied boot camps out of eight of the states that have had the most history since 1988 in this, and the conclusions to the study I'd like to read into the record:

"We do not know yet how to organize boot camps with reasonable confidence that they will achieve their intended results. The...assessment does suggest how not to organize boot camps. The only effects on recidivism that were found were in programs that included a strong rehabilitative component in the daily schedule of activities (three or more hours) and in programs that provided intensive supervision to participants after release. Programs designed only to provide physical training, hard labour and military discipline did not reduce recidivism and may have a negative effect."

I would like to emphasize this for the minister, that we need to continue with the programming side and that maybe some strict discipline programming for 10% to 15% of our young offenders could be very effective, but it's not the panacea for all of the young offender problems we have here in Ontario.


Mr Gerry Phillips (Scarborough-Agincourt): I would like to add my thanks to the distinguished group that did this report. We are very fortunate to have as much talent that's prepared to give their time, and I want to add my thanks to the minister's thanks.

I would say that, for our party, this is an extremely important report because, as the Provincial Auditor as recently as about a week ago pointed out in his report, the deficits in the last two years have been understated by, the auditor says, roughly $3.5 billion. What that means is that as the finances of the province have been reported in the budget, they have not reflected accurately the true state of the finances, so we welcome this report. I just received it literally minutes ago, but some of the recommendations that I've seen so far we're very supportive of.

I might add our disappointment with the government. We've said this in the Legislature before, but for the first time in the history of the province we will not have a budget. It is the budget document that we use, and the auditor says we should use, as the major fiscal statement of the government, but for the first time in the history of the province we won't have that. I see the group makes a strong recommendation about the necessity of a comprehensive budget. So I wanted to add our disappointment with that.

I wanted to add our disappointment with the fact that the only documents we are dealing with right now are what are called estimates. They're not even the new government's estimates. They're the estimates of the previous government. So not only have we not got a budget, but the estimates that the Harris government is asking the Legislature to deal with aren't even their own estimates. They're estimates that were prepared by the previous government. I can accept that the new government's been busy, but surely there's nothing as fundamental as laying out for the public and indeed the Legislature the details of their spending plan.

I look forward to going over this report in more detail. I think it will be a very helpful blueprint for ensuring that the new government reports its finances in a way that the public, the opposition and indeed the financial community can have some confidence that the numbers we see in the budget are in fact the numbers.



Mrs Marion Boyd (London Centre): Mr Speaker, I'd like to respond as did my colleague from Timiskaming to the statement of the Solicitor General and to say to you that I too am deeply concerned that in fact the critics were not given an opportunity to respond to this statement and indeed did not receive it until after the press had been briefed. I think that's a serious omission, and I hope the government will not continue with that.

Mr David S. Cooke (Windsor-Riverside): Something he used to complain about.

Mrs Boyd: This minister used to complain very bitterly about that when any other government did it, and it is very important for him to be respectful of this place.

I want to say to the minister that the notion of having a committee to look at different ways of improving the response that the corrections area has for young offenders is something that will be very popular with people in Ontario. We know that.

The problem is that he has established a task force with one focus, and I would urge the minister to look very clearly at who are young offenders who show a "flagrant" disrespect for the law. To whom do these concepts of strict discipline really apply? Are they first offenders, or do we need to find a much more effective way of dealing with first offenders at the onset of their kind of criminal activity and make sure that they do not learn how to be more and more violent criminals as time goes on?

We have very good programs and alternative measures that are in place in places like London and Sudbury, run by people who understand youth crime, and I would urge the minister to ensure that there is a continuum of looking at this issue from the least serious offences to the most serious offences.

The member says that the number of violent youth crimes has more than doubled between 1986 and 1991, and that is true. What the minister does not say is that for the last three years there's been a consistent decline in the number of violent crimes committed by young offenders, even though changes in the Young Offenders Act which have been made and are pending on the part of the federal government have not yet taken place.

It's important for us to get that into perspective, particularly in Ontario, where charging mechanisms changed with respect to our zero violence in the schools program, and indeed a much more serious look at the school level at the use of violence by young people. So I would urge the minister to be very, very mindful of using statistics that are current and are real, not trying to use the scare tactics that youth crime is out of control, because in fact none of the statistics show that that is true.

Last, I'd like to say something about the task force itself. The members of the task force are all deeply respected, contributing citizens of the province of Ontario. However, having said that, none of them has any particular expertise or knowledge around youth issues -- none of them. Even the Honourable John Seneshen, a judge of the provincial court from my own jurisdiction, has not been a youth court judge, has not been doing that kind of work, and it is extremely important that the minister be aware that the expertise that my colleague from Timiskaming talked about in the area of youth justice, what works with young people, could be much broader.

I would urge the minister to be sure that, when this matter is being looked at, the expertise of people like Dr Alan Leschied, from the Family Court Clinic in London, and many of those who have worked around the province with the John Howard Society, with the St Leonard's Society, doing work with youthful offenders -- that he would take into account the kind of work they have done.

I am surprised that we could not find any experts, any community experts, for this committee who were women, and I would say to the minister that it is important to have a dual perspective, because young offenders are not just boys. Young women are also in this kind of situation, and many of those who have worked hardest in our communities on young offender issues are in fact women, whose expertise is just as great as the honourable gentlemen whom he has appointed.



Mrs Lyn McLeod (Leader of the Opposition): My first question is for the Premier. Last week my colleague the member for Oriole asked your Minister of Health and your Minister of Finance if they would reaffirm a campaign commitment that you made, a very clear commitment that you would not cut health care, and we asked them to reaffirm that commitment by signing a pledge.

Both of those ministers refused to sign a pledge, and yet I remember, Premier, during the campaign you were prepared to sign a pledge to underline your commitment. In that case it was a taxpayers' pledge, and you signed that pledge in order to underline your commitment on taxation.

Today I ask you if you will underline your commitment on health care by signing a health care protection pledge. Premier, I have the pledge here, as we had it last week, asking your ministers to sign it. It's a simple pledge. It merely restates the commitment that you made, the commitment I'm sure you will remember.

It says, "I hereby pledge that there will be no further cuts to the health care budget in the November 1995 fiscal statement, and furthermore, I guarantee that the Harris government will not make additional cuts to health care as a result of revenue shortfalls."

I will ask a page to deliver it to the Premier and I just ask the Premier if he will sign this and reaffirm his commitment to the people of Ontario.

Hon Michael D. Harris (Premier): I will live up to and honour the commitments I made in the campaign. If you've got specific questions, I'll refer them to the Minister of Health.

Mrs McLeod: We've been asking the Minister of Health repeated questions. We asked the Minister of Health to sign this pledge; the Minister of Health refused. Since it was the Premier's commitment, I felt it was appropriate to ask the Premier if he would reaffirm his commitment to the people of Ontario.

It seems rather strange to me that no one in the government, including the Premier, is willing to sign a pledge which does nothing more than reaffirm one of the foundations of their election platform, one of their most sacred commitments, according to this Premier, to the people of Ontario.

The campaign document said it very plainly and very simply, "We will not cut health care spending." We are simply and plainly asking you to reaffirm that commitment. I find your refusal to do so absolutely mystifying. I take it that this is an indication that you are intending to break your promise in the expenditure statements next week. You've already made cuts in the health care budget. Should we be expecting even more cuts next week?

Hon Mr Harris: We made it very clear in the campaign, and this is typical of why we're in the mess we're in. The member, you know, when they were in government -- and now they're saying: "Don't spend here and don't do there. Spend more efficiently here but don't do this. Balance the budget but don't reduce any expenditures. Don't do this; don't do that."

We committed, and let me tell you what we committed to. You can't take one part without the other. We committed to seal the health care envelope. We will go to the people four years from now with the health care envelope spending at the same $17.4 billion that we said we would go there with. But we also committed, and we committed extensively, and day after day, to find savings in the health care system, to spend more smartly, to spend more wisely, to meet the funding pressure of an aging population, new technology, new funding that was there.

The minister, week after week after week, and will in this upcoming statement and will in the 1996 budget -- and we will talk about brand-new spending, new programs in health care. The difference between the way this government operates and the two former governments for the last 10 years: We said clearly we're going to find savings in the health care system to pay for the new funding pressures and the new programs we announced so that they're in balance. That's what you didn't do.

Mrs McLeod: That seemed like a very strange and rather inappropriate rant, given the nature of the question. The question was not about where you're going to save money in the health care budget and how you're going to reallocate; the question was about a commitment not to cut health care. Your campaign commitment was very clear, very plain, very simple: You promised you would not cut health care, full stop, period. That was the commitment. Within a month of taking office, we saw that you had already broken that commitment.

You cut $127 million in your first financial statement and now we see that you're looking for some weasel kinds of ways of getting around your commitment that there would be no new user fees in health care. It is absolutely clear to everybody that you have no intention of keeping your commitment not to cut health care. Premier, why don't you just come clean and tell us what cuts in health care we can expect to see in that expenditure statement next week?

Hon Mr Harris: What you are asking me to do is to not fund new dialysis, not fund new cancer treatment, not fund new programs for immunization, not fund paramedics, not fund, for rural Ontario, emergency services for hospitals. You're asking me to do that.

You campaigned on stable funding. Did you have a definition of it? I put on the record the definition $17.4 billion, and I was very clear that I would find savings in the system, that we would spend more efficiently. Now you want me to sign something that says we'll never spend another nickel on any new program in health care because we said to do it we have to find the savings.

The irresponsible $100-billion debt, the $10-billion deficit, are a result of you saying yes to every interest group that came along, signing anything anybody put in front of you, and not being fiscally accountable. For me to sign what you're asking me to sign is to say no to new dialysis, no to new techniques, no to cancer treatment, no to all those services that the minister is announcing week after week. We're not saying no to the people of Ontario when it comes to health care.

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

Mrs McLeod: But in the campaign document, the words were so simple. I was simply repeating it. Apparently the Premier is not prepared to repeat those very simple and very clear words.



Mrs Lyn McLeod (Leader of the Opposition): I will move on to a second question, and that is to the Minister of Community and Social Services.

Minister, you will be, I'm sure, aware that there are representatives from the Ontario Association of Interval and Transition Houses in the gallery today and that they're here following the release of an annual report they've made on the progress -- or it might be more appropriate, having read their report, to talk about it as being a full-scale retreat -- made by your government towards eliminating the violence against women and children in this province.

Last month in this Legislature, in response to repeated questions, you made a commitment to protect core services for women and children in abusive situations. At the beginning of this month, which is, as you will know, Wife Assault Prevention Month, the minister for women's issues made a similar commitment. But as the women in the gallery have made clear today, programs that have been established to protect women and children from abusive situations are being slashed by your government and your ministry.

My question is very simple: What happened to your commitment? Why are you cutting programs that assist abused women and children and protect them from further violence?

Hon David H. Tsubouchi (Minister of Community and Social Services): First of all, I'd like to state that I'm meeting on Thursday with this particular group to discuss some of their issues. Secondly, I'd like to say again that we do continue to provide over $60 million in funding to women's shelters.

Mrs McLeod: I fail to see how meeting with the group on Thursday helps to rectify the problems he's created with the cuts that have already been made. This minister keeps talking about "core services"; again today he says they've protected funding for core services. Yet the people who are here today, who run the emergency shelters, the people you say you're finally going to meet with on Thursday, define core services they offer as being things like a 24-hour crisis phone line, emergency transportation to shelters, crisis counselling for women, counselling for children who witness violence in their homes, and funds to pay for the shelter administration. All these core services at emergency shelters across this province have suffered cuts from your government.

I have to ask you, as you talk about protecting core services, exactly what is your definition of "core services"? Do you not agree that a crisis counselling program for women or counselling programs for children who have been in abusive situations at home or emergency transportation to a shelter are core services? Will you tell us how you define the core services that you say you're prepared to protect?

Hon Mr Tsubouchi: When we're talking about core services, they're exactly that. They're services that are considered very important to the people of Ontario.

We have to put this in perspective. I mean, here we go again. There's no recognition whatsoever of the fact that we are in a fiscal crisis at this particular moment, that as a result of the overspending of the last two governments, it's costing us $1 million an hour to pay the interest on the debt alone.


The Speaker (Hon Allan K. McLean): Order. The member for Hamilton East is out of order.

Hon Mr Tsubouchi: What would you like me to do other than the fact that I am trying to meet with this group on Thursday and discuss their issues?

Mrs McLeod: I'll tell the minister that I happen to believe that a commitment to protect core services needed by women and children in abusive situations should be a priority for his government and for his ministry, and that it is completely hypocritical for this minister, day after day, to stand up in the House and say they are protecting core services when they in fact have cut the funding for emergency shelters, when they have totally eliminated the funding for the second-stage housing programs that provide the support that women and families need to establish independent lives.

Hon Dianne Cunningham (Minister of Intergovernmental Affairs, minister responsible for women's issues): We have not eliminated funding to second-stage, Lyn.

Mrs McLeod: The minister for women's issues interjects to say, as she has said consistently, that they're not cutting core services for second-stage housing. There is nothing left except bricks and mortar. There are no support services to help those women and children establish independent lives, because the services are being shut down on December 31.

Minister, I think you should come clean and admit that you're cutting core services for emergency shelters, admit that you have indeed completely eliminated the funding for longer-term support services to help women and children establish independent lives, come clean and admit that you indeed have violated your commitment to protect programs for women and children who are in abusive situations.

Hon Mr Tsubouchi: Number one, it is a priority of our government. And talk about coming clean: The Leader of the Opposition is saying we've eliminated all funding for second-stage women's shelters, and no we haven't; they're still being funded for the residential component. Also, we still fund $60 million towards these programs and, in addition to that, another $15 million in counselling programs for women in need.


Mr Bob Rae (York South): A question to the Premier: I've had a chance to ask this question to your colleague the Deputy Premier as well as to the minister responsible for women's issues, but since we're together in the House today, I'd like to ask you this question.

I have in my hand an affidavit sworn in London on November 16, 1995, signed by Julie Lee, who swears that she attended a meeting with the minister responsible for women's issues at which time, according to her own notes, the minister said, "Within the context of this government, you need to understand that groups or agencies that are seen not to be working with the 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."

I'd like to ask the Premier, given the fact that this has now reached the point where the person at the meeting feels she has to sign a sworn affidavit indicating that this indeed is directly what she heard, would the Premier not agree with me that this issue, which has been with us now for a couple of weeks, should be referred to a committee of the House so that members of the House will have an opportunity to hear both from members of the community as well as from the minister with respect to this meeting?

Hon Michael D. Harris (Premier): I think where it should be referred is to the minister.

Hon Dianne Cunningham (Minister of Intergovernmental Affairs, minister responsible for women's issues): I think it's very simple. There was a meeting. I've stated in this House before that I encourage people to come forward and speak up for what they believe in. Those words don't match the practice in my political career, nor are they believable, and I didn't say it.

The Speaker (Hon Allan K. McLean): Supplementary? New question.

Mr Rae: I want to ask the Premier again, and I want to ask him directly. This concerns the conduct of a member of your government. We now have, in addition to the affidavit, letters from several other advocacy and women's centres across the province. I have a petition with 231 names. We have comments from various people who were at the meeting who all concur with what Ms Lee says was said.

We have a fundamental question about the willingness of your government to recognize that when there are very different accounts of a conversation between the people who were there and the minister, this at least raises a very fundamental question with respect to what in fact happened at this meeting. Would the Premier not agree with me that if indeed the minister said these words, they could only interpreted by the people listening to them as a threat?

Hon Mr Harris: I referred the question, Speaker.

Hon Mrs Cunningham: I didn't say the words --

The Speaker: Order. This is a new question.

Hon Mr Harris: I will refer the new question as well to the minister.

Hon Mrs Cunningham: I will say in this House again that there was a meeting -- all of us have meetings -- and if everybody had to put up with this kind of activity because someone disagreed during the course of some conversation, and they sent letters and they got signatures -- it's my understanding now that this same person has written all the interval and transition houses, many of which I've met with. Some are here in the gallery today. They know I've encouraged them to speak up for what they believe in.

It's very simple. I did not make that statement. I would never make a statement like that. We are actually, as members in this House, all intimidated by the actions of this particular member in the third party.

The Speaker: Does the leader of the third party have a supplementary? No? New question; the member for Oriole.



Mrs Elinor Caplan (Oriole): My question is to the Minister of Health. Minister, it's a very simple question: Have you licensed any new facilities, independent health facilities or clinics, to provide insured health services under the Independent Health Facilities Act?

Hon Jim Wilson (Minister of Health): To the best of my knowledge, over the past four months since coming to office I've not issued any new IHF licences.

Mrs Caplan: Thank you for that answer, Minister. We often hear of the new vision of you, your government and your Premier that you're proposing for health care and medicare in Ontario. I wonder and I worry, as many are worried, that your vision includes an American-style, two-tier health care delivery system for Ontario: one health care system for the rich and one for the rest of us Ontarians.

Minister, will you stand in your place today and guarantee to the people of Ontario that they will not have to worry about buying their way into receiving medically necessary services, that people will not be forced to pay for those necessary health services that they presently are receiving today from health facilities in Ontario?

Hon Mr Wilson: I'm very proud to say that with the announcement by the government shortly after we came to office respecting out-of-country payments, Ontario today is the only province that has no irritants between ourselves and the federal government with respect to the Canada Health Act; we are the only province fully living up to the Canada Health Act. I'm proud of that and we will continue to do that. Under the Canada Health Act insured services must be provided to insured persons in Ontario without user fees, and we will fully live up to that aspect of the Canada Health Act.


Ms Marilyn Churley (Riverdale): I have a question for the Premier. Premier, this morning the Ontario Association of Interval and Transition Houses held a press conference with the theme Unlock the Doors to Freedom. I attended that press conference, and since there was no representative from the Tory caucus, they asked me to give these keys to the government caucus to wear in support of their campaign. I'm sending them over with a page right now and I'd like to ask the Premier if he will wear one himself in support of their campaign and if he will distribute these to his caucus members to wear and support the campaign Unlock the Doors to Freedom.

Hon Michael D. Harris (Premier): I think members will know that my practice, with the exception perhaps of a poppy every Remembrance Day, has been to respect what I interpret to be the rules of the Legislature to not wear T-shirts or sweaters or buttons or these kinds of things, and I personally have not done that. I have tried to be pretty consistent with that.

I am happy to receive the keys. I will distribute the keys to the members of my caucus, many of whom may wish to wear them and many of whom do wear -- I know that in your caucus some do and some don't, and it's the same in the Liberal Party.

But let me say to the member that whether or not one wears buttons, T-shirts, signs, keys, symbols, in no way diminishes my personal commitment to transition houses, to interval houses, in no way diminishes our government's and our cabinet's commitment to provide services, dollars and help in any possible way we can.

Ms Churley: I think the Premier just told me that he's willing to restore the lost funding to the transition houses and the second-stage housing in Ontario. I'm glad to hear that commitment and I hope he'll reaffirm it in my supplementary.


Ms Churley: I don't want to hear any comments from the minister responsible for women's issues. She has absolutely no credibility in this House any more. Anyway, this question is to the Premier.

The Speaker (Hon Allan K. McLean): Direct your question through the Chair, please.

Ms Churley: Yes, Mr Speaker. The members of the Ontario Association of Interval and Transition Houses feel that your government has locked the doors to freedom for women who are experiencing abuse. How are you going to make sure those doors are kept open at the same time you are cutting? And you are cutting. You won't admit it, but you are. You're cutting funding from front-line emergency shelter budgets, funding for second-stage shelters, training programs, community counselling, social assistance benefits, pay equity, employment equity, and more. What are you going to say to the women? What are you going to say to assure abused women today that you will guarantee their safety?

Hon Mr Harris: I'll refer the supplementary to the Minister of Community and Social Services.

Interjections: You can't do that.

The Speaker: No. New question; the member for York-Mackenzie.

Mr Frank Klees (York-Mackenzie): My question is for the Minister of Municipal Affairs and Housing. On October 25 --

The Speaker: Excuse me. The rule says you can refer a supplementary, which I was not aware of.

Hon Mr Harris: If the rules are, and I believe you're correct and that interpretation is one I've always had, that you can -- the questioner cannot in fact redirect, but I did refer it and I know the minister would be happy to answer it.

Hon David H. Tsubouchi (Minister of Community and Social Services): This is very similar to the question that was asked of me by the Leader of the Opposition, and once again I think it's very important that we have some discussions, and we are going to have discussions with this group on Thursday.

The Speaker: New question; the member for York-Mackenzie.


Mr Frank Klees (York-Mackenzie): My question is for the Minister of Municipal Affairs and Housing. On October 25 I tabled a petition in this House that was presented to me in my constituency, signed by some 1,650 people, most of whom were senior citizens. Specifically, these people live in Ontario Housing Corp units, and I read the petition as follows:

"Mr Harris has proposed to sell all 84,000 units owned and operated by Ontario Housing Corp to the private sector. This represents the homes of approximately 110,000 people in the province. This will mean a dramatic change in lifestyle for all of us, including seniors who are on fixed incomes. We oppose this action."

Mr Minister, this petition was organized by senior citizens in my riding, many of whom have serious concerns about losing their housing units as a result of government policy. Can the minister provide us with clarification on the government's policy on this issue, and what comfort can he give these seniors that their homes are not at risk?

Hon Al Leach (Minister of Municipal Affairs and Housing): This government is committed to getting out of the housing business. We stated that categorically during the campaign and we intend to live up to that commitment. The alternatives of getting out of the housing business are currently under review, as we've said. We know these are the homes of the seniors who were referred to, and everybody else, and we're going to be extremely sensitive to their needs as we develop our alternatives. Nothing is going to happen until we are satisfied that the concerns of the tenants are protected.

One of the options that we're looking at is a shelter allowance. This would allow people to choose where they live rather than having to stay in the bricks and mortar that they are in now.


Mr Klees: My supplementary to the minister is that while the ultimate ownership of these housing units may not have an immediate effect on these people, the fact is that many of them are senior citizens and are on fixed incomes. What assurance can the minister provide that these senior citizens will not be facing rent increases under whoever the new owners are and that they in fact will be protected from rent increases so that they will not be uprooted from their homes?

Hon Mr Leach: As I've indicated, we're examining a wide range of options that are available to us on the future of the OHC. However, as I have repeated many times in this House, we intend to ensure that tenants' rights are protected while we're directing a new program. I can assure the member that in the event of privatization we would offer that same assurance to the tenants of OHC.


Mr Monte Kwinter (Wilson Heights): My question is to the Minister of Economic Development, Trade and Tourism. Mr Minister, 10 days ago I asked you a question about the credibility of your government and the ability of businesses to rely on commitments made by you in your efforts to portray Ontario as open for business. Since I asked that question, I have had several other businessmen call me to tell me of their experience with the reneging of commitments by your government.

Now we have Douglas MacKenzie, president of Commercial Alcohols Inc, proposers of an ethanol project in Chatham, Ontario, saying that the project is in doubt because of the withdrawal of committed support by the Ontario government.

My question to the minister is this: Your government and your Minister of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs have consistently given lip-service to financial support for the ethanol industry in Ontario. As a result of those assurances, investments have been made that are now at risk. Is the message that you are trying to convey to investors that Ontario and its government cannot be trusted?

Hon William Saunderson (Minister of Economic Development, Trade and Tourism): I'd like to refer this question to the Minister of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs.

Hon Noble Villeneuve (Minister of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs, minister responsible for francophone affairs): I and this government continue to support the ethanol industry 110% in this province. I'm also happy to announce today that a former deputy minister within the Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs has been given the task of being a fact-finder in order to look into the very real possibility of stimulating the ethanol industry in Ontario, an industry that is requiring more and more product just to service Ontario needs.

Mr Kwinter: The minister has taken what I consider an unusual step of referring a question that has really nothing to do with basically the ethanol issue; it had to do with the idea of trust in this government and about commitments that you have made.

Ten days ago, the minister made an astonishing statement. It says, "Economic growth cannot be created by government assistance." I say to the minister, and I said to his deputy, if that is the case, then what kind of boondoggle are you running over there? Why don't you send everybody home, turn out the lights and save the taxpayers one pile of money?

This question is to the Minister of Economic Development and Trade, not to the Minister of Agriculture. It's a question of trust. There are people who are investing millions of dollars finding out that those investments are going down the tubes because they cannot trust this government. I'm asking you, Minister, I'm asking the Minister of Economic Development and Trade, are you going to be a player or are you going to continue to be a cheerleader and not provide the kind of leadership that this province needs?

Hon Mr Villeneuve: Twenty-seven thousand new jobs have been created in the last two months, according to one of the Toronto papers. Now, the original question revolved around the ethanol industry, and I believe the supplementary should come from the response to the initial question.

I want to quote the Leader of the Opposition here when she was Minister of Energy in 1990. It says here, and it's signed by the Honourable Lyn McLeod, "At present it does not appear that ethanol from grain can be produced at a sufficiently low cost to become an important component in Ontario gas without significantly larger subsidies," signed by Lyn McLeod. So draw your own conclusions.

The Speaker (Hon Allan K. McLean): New question, the member for Algoma.


The Speaker: Order. The member for Algoma has the floor.


Mr Bud Wildman (Algoma): I have a question to the Minister of Education and Training. It is in relation to his statements that he would be saving $350 million of taxpayers' money because of the commitment to end OACs, or grade 13, by the year 2001.

In light of one of the statements made in his now infamous videotape in which he said, referring to the United States Declaration of Independence, that the statement that all people are created equal is a ludicrous statement, "That assertion today wouldn't hold water; in the time that it was written it was absolutely wrong," can the minister clarify his position with regard to the allocation of the funds saved by the ending of OACs at the end of secondary level of education to the beginning of primary education to deal with the inequities he seems so sure exist between people?

Hon John Snobelen (Minister of Education and Training): I want to thank the member for Algoma for the question. I think every member in this House certainly is here with a firm commitment to finding inequities and ending them. That's certainly why I'm here and I know that's why the member opposite is here. That's one of the reasons why I'm looking forward to the report of the task force on education financing, so that we can look at how to fund education across this province so every child in this province has a similar opportunity to education.

However, I might point out to the member opposite that if he wants to find out where that premium will be spent when OACs end past the year 2000, he needs to look at the $100-billion debt his government left this province because, my friend, you have already spent that money.


Mr Wildman: I take from the minister's answer that the savings of $350 million to which he referred in the House will not be, in his view, applied to primary education.

Would the minister confirm that only 40% of that $350-million estimate are actually provincial dollars and the rest of it, the 60%, are moneys that have been expended and are being expended by boards of education and separate school boards across the province?

Can he at least commit to apply the 40% of that figure to ensure that young students who are experiencing difficulties can be identified early by having junior kindergarten programs available to them, so they can develop their language skills, their attentiveness and their social skills, since most studies have indicated that those children who have indeed had good early childhood education do not have the same problems later on. They have fewer dropouts and have more academic success, and indeed one study in the United States indicates that for every $1 spent at the primary level, society saves $7 later.

Hon Mr Snobelen: I'd like to take this opportunity to remind the member opposite that there is one taxpayer in the province of Ontario, and that that one taxpayer is a taxpayer contributing that $350 million.

I'd also remind the member again that that $350 million comes past the year 2000, and this government will not wait until after the year 2000 to find affordability, accountability and quality in the public education system in the province of Ontario.


Mr Bill Grimmett (Muskoka-Georgian Bay): My question is also for the Minister of Education. Computers are becoming an integral part of our society, both at work and in our homes. What is the minister doing to ensure that students in our school system acquire the necessary skills to compete in an increasingly computerized world?

Hon John Snobelen (Minister of Education and Training): I want to thank the honourable member for his question. For many years, educators in this province have recognized the importance of teaching computer skills. This government recognizes the importance of computer skills for the young people in this province. That's why we've increased the funding for programs such as GEMS, which puts computers in the classroom here in Ontario. In the near term, I intend to announce some further initiatives that will help Ontario to be at the leading edge of information technology in education in the classroom in Ontario.

Computers are only a part of information technology. Educators in Ontario are moving now from using computers as merely a tool to teach computer skills to using information technology to teach children to distribute knowledge. That's the exciting part of information technology in the province.

Mr Grimmett: The difficulties associated with the financing of educational programs is a topic of considerable discussion in my riding, and I wondered what steps the minister is taking to ensure that the students in all Ontario schools will get a chance to be involved in these computer programs.

Hon Mr Snobelen: Many people, including this government and I'm sure everyone in this chamber today, are concerned with the growing gulf between the educational opportunities for children who have an opportunity to learn with information technology and children who do not. Recently, in the grade 9 test results that were issued in the province, teachers reported that 70% of children in this province rarely or never used computers. That's why I'd like to assure the honourable member that this government will be moving to work with educators and the private sector to make investments in information technology that will close that educational gulf and give every child in this province the same opportunity.


Mr Dalton McGuinty (Ottawa South): My question is for the Attorney General. On a warm August evening in 1994, 16-year-old Shayne Norris was riding his bicycle home in the Ottawa area when he was struck from behind by a car and killed. The car was driven by OPP Constable Serge Loranger, who admitted that he had just left a bar where he had been drinking. He also later admitted that he knew he hit something, but he said he didn't believe it to be a person. He did not stop his car to confirm that it was not a person he'd struck.

A blood sample taken from Constable Loranger showed that his blood alcohol level was still over the limit some three and one half hours after Shayne was struck. The blood sample procedure was not properly followed by the police investigators, and as a result this evidence was found to be inadmissible in court.

Constable Loranger has been acquitted of all charges brought against him. He has even been acquitted of merely failing to remain at the scene of an accident.

Shayne's parents are in the gallery here today, Mr Attorney General, and I understand you met with them earlier today. They need to know from you, our province's Attorney General, if you believe our province's justice system worked in the case of their son. On the one hand, the Norrises have lost their 16-year-old son, and on the other, the man who'd been drinking and driving and whose car struck Shayne has been acquitted of all criminal responsibility. Do you believe that our system of justice worked in the case of Shayne Norris?

Hon Charles Harnick (Attorney General, minister responsible for native affairs): May I say publicly to Mr and Mrs Norris and express to them my profound sympathy for the loss that they've suffered, and repeat that we had a meeting today and we discussed a number of things. Mr and Mrs Norris were very candid with me when they indicated how strongly they felt that the prosecution service of the Ministry of the Attorney General prosecuted this case well and vigorously, and I very much appreciated hearing that from them in very difficult circumstances.

This case was a complicated matter and it was a case that the judge made some very specific findings of fact over, and those findings of fact indicated that there was an issue of doubt as to whether the accused realized that he had been involved in an accident. Whether I agree with that finding or whether I don't agree with that finding is irrelevant. That's a finding that was made by an independent judge on the basis of the evidence that she heard. The ministry reviewed that finding, and it reviewed it over and over and over again, to find a means by which it could possibly appeal this case.

Unfortunately, the finding of fact by the judge is something that is not appealable. The finding was purely a finding of fact. There was no error of law in the way the judge instructed herself to deal with the application of the law to those facts. I can tell you that the administration of justice, as the Norrises know and acknowledge, put every ounce of effort into trying to obtain the result that we all had hoped for and prosecuted this case with integrity and with vigour.

Mr McGuinty: I want to assure you, Mr Attorney General, that the Norrises do not believe that justice has been done in the case of their son. Indeed, over 100,000 people have signed a petition in Ottawa-Carleton on this matter because they too do not believe that justice has been done. My community of Ottawa-Carleton is overwhelmed by a tremendous sense that something went terribly wrong here. On the one hand, we have a young man in the prime of his youth cut down, and on the other hand, the man who admitted to drinking and then driving the car that killed Shayne is found not to be responsible in any way whatsoever for causing Shayne's death.

As you might expect, serious questions are now being raised about the handling of the police investigation. People in Ottawa-Carleton are wondering if there's one standard of law for our police and another for the rest of us. I can tell you that justice has not been seen to be done in the case of Shayne Norris.

I think you would have to admit that this case has brought our system of justice into disrepute, but also I can add that you and the Solicitor General have it within your means to help clear the air here. You can call a public inquiry into the conduct of the investigation in this case, and I believe you must do so immediately. The only way you can restore confidence in our system of justice is through a public inquiry to determine exactly what went wrong here and what must be done to ensure it does not happen again. Mr Attorney General, will you support a public inquiry into the case of young Shayne Norris?

Hon Mr Harnick: It troubles me greatly to hear that there are those who believe that because a police officer was involved in this case, the administration of justice was somehow different than it otherwise would be. I can't comment on issues pertaining to police investigations. What I can comment on is the fact that the prosecution had a case placed before it after certain charges were laid and the administration of justice, through the Ministry of the Attorney General and crown prosecutors, prosecuted that case as best it was possible.


What I can tell members of this House is that there are a number of options open that the Norris family has undertaken, and I hope very much that these options will answer the questions that we so very much want answered. They include procedures under the police complaints legislation that provide for disciplinary hearings and an investigation pursuant to the public complaints investigation under the Police Services Act. I know that the Norris family is proceeding in that regard and I don't want to comment about any of the details in so far as that is concerned.

As well, I understand that there is a civil action that has been started. If there are to be police investigations or investigations as to police conduct, that is not something that is within my purview. What I can say is that the Norris family is following all of the options that are available to them, and I have indicated in my meeting with Mr and Mrs Norris that if they need any guidance in terms of being directed towards those processes or understanding the nature of the process that's available, we would be in a position to provide the advice they would need in terms of following the different options that are available.


Mr David S. Cooke (Windsor-Riverside): My question is to the Minister of Community and Social Services. I'd like to ask the minister if he is aware of a study that was done in Alberta that confirmed that the number of Calgary-area youngsters needing child welfare intervention soared in the past year.

The document confirms that child welfare caseloads jumped 19% in Calgary and the outskirts between November 1994 and June 1995 and, according to the internal caseload analysis, front-line staff attribute the increase to poverty, job loss and the inability of families to pay for basic supports. It also links very clearly the decrease in welfare payments to families in Alberta to an increase in caseloads in the children's aid societies or the child welfare system in Alberta.

Is the minister aware of that study, has his ministry analysed that study, and what will the impact on child welfare cases be in Ontario of your 22% decrease in welfare benefits to children and families?

Hon David H. Tsubouchi (Minister of Community and Social Services): First of all, no, I haven't got that study. Perhaps the member could share the study with me. I certainly would be happy to look at it.

Secondly, I had another meeting this morning with the Ontario Association of Children's Aid Societies, and we've agreed to have a good dialogue between themselves and myself and the ministry on an ongoing basis in order to assure the people of Ontario that the area of child protection is certainly well taken care of. It has been mandated. The umbrella group has agreed to meet with us on an ongoing basis to assure us that these mandated services will be provided to people of Ontario.

Mr Cooke: It doesn't make anybody in this province feel comfortable or assured that just because the minister finally, after three months, had a meeting with the Ontario Association of Children's Aid Societies, somehow it's deemed that cases are going to be dealt with.

The fact of the matter is, in the experience in Alberta, caseloads increased dramatically because families had less financial resources in order to deal with basics like food and a roof over their heads. That will increase the demand on children's aid societies in this province. At the same time, you have cut back already grants to children's aid societies by 5%, and we know that in at least one case, the Halton Children's Aid Society ran out of money at the end of October.

The people of this province want to know what you're going to do to make sure that the children of this province who need the protection of the state are going to get that protection. Or are you going to allow them to be abused and not to be taken care of by this province, as has been the tradition for years?

Hon Mr Tsubouchi: Specifically with respect to the Halton CAS, this question was asked of me last week in the House, at which time I indicated that the ministry and the Halton CAS are working together to do a review of the administrative and financial situation, and we have provided them with interim funding to ensure that the mandated services of the CAS are provided to people in Halton.

But I'd like to share with you a thought on this particular issue. It came from the Hansard of July 8, 1993, and it's my predecessor, the Honourable Tony Silipo at that time, indicating:

"If there's one thing that just about everyone agrees with, it's that the Ontario welfare system isn't working. It isn't helping unemployed people to learn new skills and find jobs. It isn't helping parents provide for the children's basic needs. By this, I mean not only parents who receive social assistance but also parents who are working full-time in low-wage jobs."

All of a sudden, I think the collective lightbulbs went on over people's heads and they all said, "Eureka," at the same time, and this is the solution Mr Silipo came up with. He said, "Since coming to office in 1990, our government has taken a number of steps to improve the welfare system, including" -- and this is his number one reason -- "increasing benefits by 13.5%."

Obviously, throwing money at the situation is not the answer. If it had been, there'd be nobody on welfare today. We have undertaken a fundamental reform of the welfare system to make sure that people have the opportunity now to be self-sufficient.


Mr Leo Jordan (Lanark-Renfrew): My question is for the Minister of Health. Minister, you've been doing a very good job of finding areas of saving within the health care system and reapplying them within the system to better the whole system for every rural Ontarian.

At the present time there's a regulation for nursing homes stating that the administrator there must be on duty 40 hours per week. We have just opened an $18-million nursing home and home for the aged in the county of Renfrew. It is across the street from the Renfrew Victoria Hospital.

Minister, I'm wondering if you would assist us in clearing that regulation in such a way that we could use the same administrator for the hospital and the home for seniors, in that they are adjacent to one another on the same street.

Hon Jim Wilson (Minister of Health): I want to thank my colleague the member for Lanark-Renfrew for his thoughtful words and for his question. I certainly would like to do everything I can and am actively working to do everything I can to clear the red tape and ensure that one administrator can serve both institutions which are essentially adjacent or very close to each other.

I want to assure the honourable member that we're going to do everything we can. Please, if I could, I commend the member and his constituents for coming up with this idea. Perhaps you'll be a model for other parts of the province. As you take two administrators, and one retires and is not replaced, you're going to save administrative dollars, and you'll be able to use those savings to reinvest in front-line services, and I commend you for that.

Mr Jordan: You're quite correct. The administrator at the new home for seniors is retiring at the end of December, and we can see the saving as being very obvious there.

Can you expedite this so we have a decision before the end of December, when the administrator retires at the Bonnechere Manor?

Hon Mr Wilson: I want to confirm for the member and for the record that the ministry and I are quite serious about resolving this issue as quickly as we can. A recent letter by one of my ministry staff in the residential services branch to the chief administrative officer of the county of Renfrew reads:

"Thank you for meeting with ministry staff on October 17, 1995, to discuss the cost-saving options you are currently exploring with the Renfrew Victoria Hospital. I'm pleased to advise you that the ministry is supportive of pursuing these options in greater detail."

The letter goes on to list a number of questions that the ministry had.

We've seen other examples. For example, Kitchener-Waterloo Hospital and Freeport Hospital went to one administrator when one of those administrators retired. But that was between two hospitals. This is the first time we'll have it between a home for the aged and a hospital. We're going to do everything to clear that red tape and try to meet your time frame. Again, congratulations to you and your constituents for being proactive in finding those savings and suggesting this to the government.



Mr Dalton McGuinty (Ottawa South): At this time I'd like to raise a question with the Solicitor General. I gather you will have some passing acquaintance with this case as well, and I want to speak to you about some of the issues that have been raised with respect to the failure on the part of the police conducting the investigation into the Shayne Norris matter to carry out standard operating practice or procedure.

In particular, as I understand it, the police conducting the investigation here did not read Constable Loranger his rights. No breathalyser was taken; no ALERT was taken at the scene. The blood sample that was taken was taken at the three-and-a-half-hour mark when it's required to be taken within the two-hour mark and when Constable Loranger had been in contact with police well within the two-hour mark. Furthermore, Constable Loranger was not charged until one month after the incident.

Given those facts, Solicitor General, I wonder if you might not agree that a public inquiry must be held in the circumstances.

Hon Bob Runciman (Solicitor General and Minister of Correctional Services): I share the member's concerns related to the way in which this investigation was handled by the police service involved. I will ask my ADM, policing, to provide me very quickly with options available to me as a minister and to us as a government in terms of what can be done to determine precisely what occurred in respect to this particular investigation and the incidents involved in terms of delays in laying charges, the way the samples were handled and all of the very serious and legitimate questions that have been raised in respect of this matter.

I personally am not responsible in respect to public inquiries; that falls under the aegis of the Attorney General. But I do have some personal concerns related to that. I would remind the member that in 1988, I believe it was, perhaps prior to your arrival in this place, the Liberal government initiated a public inquiry in the Niagara region related to a police shooting. That public inquiry dealing with a single incident took five years to arrive at completion and cost the taxpayers of this province $10 million.

I am concerned in respect to handling this in a very expeditious way and a much more time-conscious way, and we can come up with the answers and deal with it in an effective manner. I don't think a public inquiry, at first blush, is perhaps the way to approach it.

Mr McGuinty: We all have, obviously, concerns about government expenses, but I am not sure that it is at all appropriate to weigh the costs of conducting a public inquiry into this matter against --

Mr Mike Colle (Oakwood): A matter of justice.

Mr McGuinty: A fundamental matter of justice, against the death of a young man struck down in the prime of his youth.

I want to impress upon you, Solicitor General, how important an issue this is for Ottawa-Carleton. As I indicated earlier, over 100,000 people have signed a petition connected with this matter. Mr and Mrs Norris are here today. They've met with your colleague. They are not in any way receptive to any passing of the ball back and forth with respect to this issue.

I believe that you recognize how important it is, and I would ask once again that you commit to calling a public inquiry into this matter at the earliest possible opportunity for the sake of the Norrises and indeed for the sake of the administration of justice in this province.

Hon Mr Runciman: At the same time, in responding, I don't believe this is the kind of issue that should be a political football where we get the kind of catcalls that were generated from that side of the assembly.

I indicated at the outset my clear concern and recognition in terms of the questions that have arisen out of this issue. I made a commitment to pursue it and to find out what avenues are available to us and will take action in an appropriate way and in a very timely fashion.


Mr David S. Cooke (Windsor-Riverside): On a point of order, Mr Speaker: I'd like to raise a point under section 33 of the standing orders, and it's with respect to a question that was asked by my colleague from Riverdale to the Premier. The Premier answered the first question and then referred the supplementary. I do not believe that has happened in the House before. When a minister accepts the first question, the supplementary must then go to that particular minister.

I'd like to specifically refer to 33(d), which says:

"In the discretion of the Speaker, a reasonable number of supplementary questions arising out of the minister's reply to an oral question may be asked by any members."

Obviously, the supplementary has to go to the minister, because the supplementary arises out of the answer given by that minister.

I'm sure it was simply an error made by the Speaker, but I wouldn't want that to stand in the House and I'd like clarification.

The Speaker (Hon Allan K. McLean): I thank the honourable member for raising it. I thought I was right also. However, we will check the record and the standing orders and we will report back to you.



Mr Tony Ruprecht (Parkdale): I want to present a petition regarding our present child care crisis. This is to the Legislature.

"Whereas the Ontario Tory government has decided to replace our current child care system with one that lacks compassion and common sense and is fraught with many dangerous consequences; and

"Whereas the concept of affordable, accessible and quality child care is a basic, important and fundamental right for many members of our community who are either unemployed and enrolled in a training program or are working single parents or where both parents are working; and

"Whereas if our present provincial government is sincere in getting people back to work, they should recognize the value of the child care component of the Jobs Ontario program and acknowledge the validity of the wage subsidy to the child care workers;

"We, the undersigned residents, business owners and child care providers of our Parkdale and High Park communities, urge the Progressive Conservative government of Ontario to immediately suspend their plans to implement cuts to our present child care programs across our province and restore funding to their previous levels."

I've attached my signature.


Mr Gilles Bisson (Cochrane South): I have here a petition from a number of people from the community of Monteith in my riding which reads:

"Whereas the government of Ontario has indicated a need to privatize crown assets and programs;

"Whereas the provincial government plans to remove successor rights via Bill 7, therefore enabling widespread privatization;

"Whereas the Common Sense Revolution did not address the topic of privatization of prisons;

"Whereas the Common Sense Revolution did, however, discuss issues related to public safety;

"Therefore, be it resolved that we, the undersigned, petition the government of Ontario to eliminate any rumours of actual intentions to privatizing the provincial correction facilities and therefore ensuring that the people of this province have their peace of mind in knowing that the government of Ontario is still responsible for the safety and the security of the people in those institutions."

I would affix my name to that petition.


Mr Derwyn Shea (High Park-Swansea): I rise yet again to present to the Legislative Assembly a petition signed by thousands of constituents in High Park-Swansea, including patients, staff, families of patients and residents, supporting the renovation of Runnymede hospital on its current site.

The petition asks this government to honour the promises broken by the previous Liberal and NDP governments and asks the provincial government to add the promised $18 million to the $10-million community contribution that has already been collected or pledged and give Runnymede Chronic Care Hospital its final approval to begin its rebuilding program.


In addition, this petition calls upon the Minister of Health to carefully review the hospital restructuring report, which has been submitted to the district health council, and to note the serious flaws it contains, particularly in so far as it recommends relocation of long-term and chronic care beds that would leave the southwest quadrant of Toronto significantly underserviced for long-term and chronic care beds in an area that has an aging population already higher than the average for the city of Toronto or Metro.

I submit this petition with hope the Minister of Health will offer public consultation to respond to the final recommendations of the district health council, and I am honoured to affix my name to this petition.


Mr Rick Bartolucci (Sudbury): I have a petition to support the government of Ontario's information line and the public inquiry desk at 199 Larch Street in Sudbury. This service has been available to northern Ontarians for 17 years and serves all of northeastern Ontario.

"To the Legislative Assembly of Ontario:

"Whereas the government of Ontario's information line and public inquiry desk at 199 Larch Street in Sudbury provides a valuable service to Sudburians;

"We, the undersigned, petition the Legislative Assembly of Ontario to rescind their decision to cut the funding for this service."

It is signed by 800 people and I have affixed my name to it as well.


Ms Marilyn Churley (Riverdale): I have a petition to the Legislative Assembly of Ontario which reads:

"Whereas six women present at a meeting held by the minister responsible for women's issues, Dianne Cunningham, at her constituency office on October 25, 1995, agree that they heard the minister state, `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...will be audited and their funding eliminated';

"And whereas the minister responsible for women's issues denies having made this statement;

"And whereas the minister's credibility and all future actions and statements will be clouded by these discrepancies;

"Therefore, we, the undersigned, request that the government establish a legislative committee to determine whether the minister responsible for women's issues abused her authority as a minister of the crown by making threatening and intimidating remarks at the meeting described above."

I will affix my signature to this petition.


Mr Doug Galt (Northumberland): I have a petition signed by over 1,000 constituents of mine from the Cobourg and district area concerned about a secondary school where there are some 26 portables around it.

"We, the undersigned, support the St Mary's community and the Peterborough, Victoria, Northumberland, Clarington Roman Catholic separate school board in their efforts to complete this school project by September 1997."


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

"Whereas the Minister of Transportation is intent on reducing northern winter road maintenance 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 regions of the province receive the necessary maintenance to ensure the safe passage of drivers."

I have attached my name to that as well.

Mr Michael Gravelle (Port Arthur): As winter continues to settle in across Ontario, the people are continuing to express their concern over the cuts to winter road maintenance. My petition reads:

"Whereas the Ministry of Transportation is intent on reducing northern winter road maintenance 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 regions of the province receive the necessary maintenance to ensure the safe passage of drivers."

I'm proud to sign my signature to it.


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;

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

"We petition the Legislative Assembly of Ontario to reject the 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 inpatient services."

Mr Speaker, I have affixed my signature.


Mr Leo Jordan (Lanark-Renfrew): I have a petition. Two seniors, George and Helen McLenaghan, drove the riding and collected over 300 names for a petition to the Parliament of Ontario.

"Whereas Ontario seniors upon reaching the age of 80 are currently required by legislation to take written and practical examinations by the Ministry of Transportation in order to continue driving;

"Whereas these examinations have placed unnecessary stress and anxiety upon seniors which have resulted in heart attacks and heart failure;

"Whereas medical doctors and family members are fully able to assess the driving abilities of seniors above the age of 80 relative to highways at or below the 400-level series roads;

"We, the undersigned, petition the Parliament of Ontario as follows:

"That the Ontario government permit senior citizens who have reached the age of 80 to continue driving on roads not in excess of the 400 series provided they have obtained the approval from either their family members or their physician."

I affix my signature.


Mr David Ramsay (Timiskaming): "To the Legislative Assembly of Ontario:

"Whereas the Ministry of Transportation is intent on reducing northern 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 regions of the province receive the necessary maintenance to ensure safe passage of drivers."

I will affix my signature to this.


Mr Len Wood (Cochrane North): I have a number of petitions here signed by members from my riding from Cochrane, Moosonee, Hearst, Kapuskasing, and the theme of the petition is that we are very upset about the direction in which Ontario has been heading since the most recent provincial election. In particular, right now the Conservative government's plans to make junior kindergarten optional for schools really has them worried. They think it's about time the opposition members let their voices be heard on the subject.

I believe from my experience and from the reading that junior kindergarten is essential if we are really to give everyone in our society a chance to succeed. It doesn't take a genius to see that some children are coming to school totally unprepared to take advantage of what is being offered in the classroom. They have no idea how to behave in groups, don't know their colours or their ABCs and are already far behind their classmates. The older these children are when they are first exposed to the basics of schooling, the harder it is to narrow the gap between their ability to learn and that of more fortunate students.

I have affixed my name to the petition.


Mr Dominic Agostino (Hamilton East): I have a petition signed by teachers at St Bernadette school in the Halton Roman Catholic Separate School Board and members of the Ontario English Catholic Teachers' Association.

"We, the undersigned, are writing to you to inform you that we are opposed to the proposed College of Teachers which the government is intending to legislate. As some of the 130,000 members of the Ontario Teachers' Federation we feel that the College of Teachers is the creation of another level of bureaucracy, the last thing that teachers of the province need.

"The government could be spending its time more productively on the real issues of education such as providing funding for junior kindergarten, a thorough investigation of the amalgamation of school boards and better vocational and technical programs for secondary school students.

"The proposed College of Teachers does not provide a fair representation of teachers and its governing council. The proposed College of Teachers does not provide a fair representation of francophone teachers on its governing council.

"The teachers of Ontario have never asked for a College of Teachers. OTF with certain enhancements could fulfil the powers and function of a proposed College of Teachers. The proposed College of Teachers would impose an annual fee on teachers as well as certain user fees. Most teachers already follow professional development programs and do not need additional bureaucracy to mandate such programs. We ask you to make the government aware of this and state our opposition to this proposal."



Mr Marcel Beaubien (Lambton): I have a petition similar to my friend's the member for Lanark-Renfrew. It reads:

"Whereas Ontario seniors, upon reaching the age of 80, are currently required by legislation to take written and practical examinations by the Ministry of Transportation in order to continue driving; and

"Whereas these examinations have placed unnecessary stress and anxiety upon seniors which have resulted in heart attacks and heart failure; and

"Whereas medical doctors and family members are fully able to assess the driving abilities of seniors above the age of 80 relative to highways at or below the 400-level series roads;

"We, the undersigned, petition the Parliament of Ontario as follows:

"That the Ontario government permit senior citizens who have reached the age of 80 to continue driving on roads not in excess of the 400 series provided that they have obtained the approval from either their family members or their physician."


Mr Mike Colle (Oakwood): This is from the 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, the undersigned, do not want to be part of a proposed new board of education with a student population of over 110,000. Amalgamation would not realize the expected cost savings. The actual process of amalgamation would be lengthy and costly. It would also decrease the responsiveness of the board to their students, parents and community.

"We do not want to pay higher taxes to run a large board. We do not expect to receive more provincial funding from a government who is cutting back on all expenses. We want to keep our special programs. We want to keep providing our seniors with courses in the schools at no cost. We want to keep our before- and after-school programs. We, the citizens of York, want to say no to amalgamation."


Mr Dominic Agostino (Hamilton East): I have another one, from the Dufferin-Peel secondary unit:

"It has come to the attention of the executive of the Dufferin-Peel secondary unit of the Ontario English Catholic Teachers' Association that the government intends to table legislation regarding the College of Teachers.

"As elected representatives of 1,500 teachers, we wish to express our opposition to such a tabling. The teachers are unilaterally opposed to such legislation in that it obstructs the whole concept of self-government and the basic Canadian tenet of democracy.

"Accompanying this letter are numerous responses from constituents who are also members of our organizations and are in fact supportive of the executive's views.

"We therefore urge you to oppose the proposed College of Teachers."



Mr Agostino moved first reading of the following bill:

Bill 22, An Act to provide for an Oath of Allegiance for the Members of the Legislative Assembly / Projet de loi 22, Loi prévoyant le serment d'allégeance pour les députés à l'Assemblée législative.

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

Mr Dominic Agostino (Hamilton East): I'm certainly pleased to introduce the bill. I urge the House to support this. It is a bill that will enhance, I believe, our concept of national unity. It is a bill that will allow us the opportunity not only to pay tribute and to continue to understand and respect our heritage in regard to Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II, but add to Canadian unity by also swearing allegiance to our country, as is customary in most countries throughout the world.



Mr Eves moved government notice of motion number 4:

That the Minister of Finance be authorized to pay the salaries of the civil servants and other necessary payments pending the voting of supply for the period commencing December 1, 1995, and ending April 30, 1996. Such payments to be charged to the proper appropriation following the voting of supply.

The Speaker (Hon Allan K. McLean): Mr Eves, for up to an hour and a half maximum.

Hon Ernie L. Eves (Deputy Premier, Minister of Finance and Government House Leader): Mr Speaker, I won't be anywhere close to an hour and a half, you'll be pleased to know, and I'm sure members opposite will be pleased to know that as well. My remarks are going to be extremely brief. I just want to outline the circumstances, so there is no misunderstanding, as to the situation in which the government finds itself and why this motion is necessary here today.

Normally, what would happen is a supply bill would be passed, but as members opposite will certainly know, a supply bill can't be passed until the estimates of the ministries, as put before the Legislature in the estimates committee and concurrences, are agreed to.

Of course, an election having happened on June 8 of this year and the new government not having taken over until June 26 of this year, the estimates, which of course were introduced, like the circumstance that the Liberal Party found itself in in 1990 -- almost identical circumstances -- what happens is that the estimates of the previous government are initially tabled and put forward. That is exactly what we did, and then supplementary estimates are put forward, and that is again exactly what we did, to account for the difference between the previous government's estimates and the expenditure levels that we plan on having as a government during this fiscal year.

But still, according to the standing orders of the House, last week, I believe last Thursday, was the day in which estimates would have been deemed to have been passed. We had just reached an agreement among the House leaders Thursday morning to send them out to committee. We have agreed to give the estimates committee -- a rather unusual circumstance, but then again much similar to what happened in 1990 -- the time they need during the winter break to go through all of the estimates, as outlined in the standing orders, and to go through the concurrences for six hours as they're deemed in the standing orders, or outlined in the standing orders would be more appropriate wording, I would suggest.

So we're doing all of that, but we can't pass the supply bill until all of that is done, and that won't be done until after the Legislature resumes in the spring. Therefore, the government finds itself in a position, of course, where it needs funding, moneys to operate. Most members are aware that the motion for interim supply provides government with the authority to make payments to hospitals, physicians, school boards, municipalities, suppliers, civil servants and many others. These payments, currently, are being made under the authority of a special warrant, which was issued on July 1 of this year. Members will also know that special warrants can only be issued when the Legislature is not in session. So that avenue is not open to the government either, in terms of funding.

Motion for interim supply is required now because this warrant only covers payments up to November 30, 1995, and as I indicated, the supplementary estimates tabled with this House earlier this month cannot come into effect on December 1 without the passing of an interim supply motion.

To ensure that all payments scheduled on or after December 1 are made on time in all parts of the province, and particularly I refer to more remote areas of the province such as northern Ontario, it is necessary to provide the banking system with some lead time. The practice has been to give at least five working days to ensure that all payments are received on time. Scheduled payments earlier in December include, among others, payments for general welfare, transfers to hospitals, school boards and children's aid societies.

To ensure that the province meets its obligations in an orderly fashion, I hope that members on all sides of the House will be supportive in ensuring that this motion is passed in a prompt and expedient fashion so that these things can indeed be taken care of.

I would like to also point out that it has been the practice in this Legislature that normally interim supply is a subject matter which, most of the time, receives about one day's debate. As a matter of fact, the last interim supply motion of the previous government, the government that immediately preceded us, in December 1994 lasted all of about 15 minutes. So that is the length of time -- I want to put things into proper context, not to say that there has never been one that has gone on for more than a day, because I'm sure that members opposite will remind me that on occasion there has been, but that isn't the norm. The norm is approximately one day for interim supply.

I did want to outline the circumstances behind which the government finds the reason for moving this interim supply motion, and I will be interested in hearing what members of the opposition and indeed members of the government have to say on this motion.

The Deputy Speaker (Mr Bert Johnson): Questions or comments? No? The Chair recognizes the member for St Catharines.


Mr James J. Bradley (St Catharines): Thank you very much, Mr Speaker, for the opportunity to speak on a supply motion. One of the advantages to members of the Legislative Assembly is that supply allows members to discuss a very wide range of topics, because what the Minister of Finance is asking for is permission to pay various bills the government has. In that context, I always enjoy the opportunity to speak on a variety of subjects without being called to order for straying from what one might think would be the only topic one could discuss.

Hon Mr Eves: Are you giving a hint to the Speaker?

Mr Bradley: I do want to assure him that I don't expect the Minister of Finance will have the time to sit through the entire address this afternoon, because I do intend to cover a number of topics. I know he will be back in his office watching on his television monitor to hear what is being said or will read the Hansard in detail tomorrow, but I do want to discuss a number of matters that relate to general government policy and some that are a little bit specific to my riding although they have ramifications across the province.

What is interesting is that the government has to now borrow money to be able to carry out its responsibilities. That's because the government is at the present time carrying a deficit and anticipates that there will be a deficit for a few years to come. One thing where I think there's a consensus in the province is that there must be control of expenditures, that there must be a very careful examination of each of the ministries and each of the programs and each of the projects, and then the government will establish what it considers to be its priorities.

This is indeed important. If you think of it, even the previous government, under which the debt in the province increased by about $50 billion, was making an effort, in its latter days, to reduce its expenditures in very difficult economic times.

Mr Gilles Pouliot (Lake Nipigon): We sure got some help from you guys; we got a head start. Tell us about your "balanced" budget.

Mr Bradley: It is always easier to balance budgets in good economic times, more difficult in challenging economic times.


Mr Bradley: The member for Etobicoke-Rexdale, who is interjecting, would know that the only time that we had a budgetary surplus in Ontario since 1971, and the majority of those years would be under Conservative governments, was the 1989-90 fiscal year, and deficits during the period of time of not necessarily the previous government but the government before that were confined to capital expenditures and that the operating expenditures were balanced.

When I look back to 1971, when Premier Davis assumed office, I know he probably wanted to balance his budget in each of his 13 years as Premier, but he did not do so in any one of those years. In fact, on a per capita basis the deficit was significantly higher in 1982, for instance, than it was in the governments subsequent to it.

I don't want to dwell too much on the past, but I hear this mythology purveyed in this House, because there's a script for all of the ministers, including the Premier, that they must talk about previous years and how the previous years were not necessarily good for Ontario. In fact, the greatest period of economic growth in the province of Ontario occurred between 1985 and 1990. We had an unprecedented number of jobs being created across the province during that time.

Mr Pouliot: Thirty-three tax increases.

Mr Bradley: Everybody I spoke to at that time was relatively pleased with the state of the economy. Yes, there were some tax increases, as there were under the Conservative government, but the feeling was that if programs were to be established or expanded, if new services were to be provided at the request of people, if new needs were to be met, it should be on a pay-as-you-go basis. The other basis would have been to allow the deficit to balloon to unprecedented levels, and that was not the choice of the government.

I well recall, as well, sitting in this Legislature listening to Conservative member after Conservative member -- the member for Lake Nipigon will remember this, as will the member for Nickel Belt, who is here now, and the member for Oriole. Virtually all the questions that came to the previous government of which I was a part were asking the government to spend more money.

Day after day after day there would be questions: Why aren't you expanding this program? Why aren't you initiating this project? Why don't you provide more funding for this good cause or that good cause? I listened very carefully to those representations, and sometimes I thought they made a rather good case and so acquiesced to Conservative suggestions that there should be some increases in various areas, but knowing that they would have to be paid for with some tax increases.

As Minister of the Environment, I knew that member after member, within his or her own constituency, had requested more money. The members of Toronto city council, Metro council, were consistently asking for more money from the provincial government because they did not want to raise their municipal taxes. But time after time I had to do it.

Mr Derwyn Shea (High Park-Swansea): Not even once -- never asked for any money.

Mr Bradley: The member now for a west Toronto riding, High Park-Swansea I believe it is, was a member of a council that asked for money from the provincial government and was concerned about the level of expenditure the provincial government would provide to the municipalities. In fact, if there was not an 8% increase for hospitals or municipalities or school boards or other transfer agencies, there was great consternation out there.

We tried to meet some of the pent-up needs there were. There were some programs established, and now each new government has to look at those. The NDP government, never known in opposition for wanting the government to decrease expenditures, had in fact under the previous Treasurer undertaken some significant cuts. I'm sure the Treasurer of this province did not want to cut some of those programs and projects which were so beneficial to so many communities, and I know that even he was confronted by some members of the Conservative Party even during his time of office who requested that the government spend more money in a specific area.

The previous government -- I'm always fairminded in this House and like to give some credit -- was making some significant cuts that did not bring a smile to the face of the Treasurer or of others within the government, but they made those cuts. I, for instance, like to share that information with the labour council when they ask questions about what this government is doing and explain to them that even the NDP had to cut and I know they didn't want to.

I know the labour council was a little more diplomatic in its criticism of the government, although I saw in the paper that Bob Rae is still not welcome at the OFL convention. I would hope they would invite him next time around when they find out that he was simply trying to do a job on behalf of the people of the province. But the previous Treasurer -- who will speak next, I believe, for the NDP -- will talk about those years with a little more respect than I might be able to conjure up.

I think everybody recognizes, at every level of government, that we must look carefully at all the expenditures. The balance is that you have to be careful when you're cutting that you don't initiate a provincially initiated recession, because if you take a lot of money out of the system all at once in huge chunks, there is the danger that you could have a very, very dampening effect on the economy. Your hope will be that the private sector will take up the slack and move forward. But I've talked to some small-c conservative economists who worry that by cutting so drastically and so quickly there is a distinct possibility of a recession in the province or at least the recovery not coming back as we would all like.

I caution the government in that regard. We recognize that there are going to be cuts. For anyone to say we can simply continue the level of deficit we have today is unrealistic. I recognize that; others recognize it. It's where you do the cutting, how you do the cutting, how quickly, how drastically. That's essentially where the quarrel will come in this province.

I think the government is moving far too quickly and far too drastically in its program to cut, and I understand that politically that's good to do. I'll talk in a moment about why I believe the government is cutting so deeply.


The government's been embarking on welfare cuts. One area where I was particularly critical, because I thought it was an area where there was some considerable abuse -- and it's not popular sometimes to say it -- was in student welfare. The program, in its concept, was reasonable. Students who were badly abused in a home situation and were prepared to go to school and attend appropriately, make the appropriate effort, would have that opportunity between the age of 16 and 18 to be able to carry on independently if they were unable to stay at home.

What happened, of course, as can always happen with these programs, is that a well-motivated program turned into one which was causing great problems, as you had some young people who simply did not want to live by the rules of the house and took a hike, and the parents may have even been persuaded, let's say, by the young people's actions to have them leave. Sometimes it was a mutual parting and sometimes it was simply the young person not wanting to live under the rules.

But there were some cases, and I think the teachers in the school system will be able to point those out, where there was very significant abuse in the home, where there was an untenable home life, and the student really wanted to work and was prepared to carry on. Unfortunately, the level of abuse in the program was so high that the government has had to move, and I don't criticize the government at all. I say the government had to take that action. I hope there is still opportunity in those very genuine, narrow cases to carry on, but I do believe the government moved in the right direction there.

Not everything the government does, as far as those of us in the opposition are concerned, is wrong. There are programs that have to be examined. That's why I say here was a program that needed examination, the government took some action that had to be taken, and I think the program will be better as a result.

Most people out there, by the way, virtually everybody, would want to see abuse removed. Where there are people abusing the system, not entitled to government payments, people are prepared to see government act upon that, and act quickly and act quite drastically in that case.

Where you would find less support is the government cutting by almost 22% the allocation of people who are genuinely receiving social service benefits. A 22% chunk is a big chunk to take out. Generally, the public might have accepted some kind of trimming in there, but 22% is quite drastic, coupled with the fact that there are cuts in child care for people who required child care so they could be in the workforce, because the choice essentially for some was to either be in the workforce or to be at home, and child care allowed some of them to be in that workforce. I'm worried about those programs, because all of us want to see as much as possible people in that workforce doing something productive and useful and meaningful to themselves and to society. So that becomes a problem.

What you're going to do at the same time is remove rent controls. That sounds good in right-wing theory and marketplace theory. In the best of all worlds I suppose the marketplace would dictate what those rents shall be. We all recognize, however, that in many municipalities, particularly Metropolitan Toronto, when rent controls are removed, as you say they're going to be -- and the member for York-Mackenzie I thought asked a good question today on that: What are you going to do for senior citizens who will lose certain accommodation? If you combine those things together for low-income people, it becomes a problem. That's where I think you have to look carefully at what you're doing before you proceed.

It's the same as workfare. If you went out and asked anybody on the street I live on or the street you live on, "Are you in favour of people working instead of being on welfare?" they're going say yes. The actual implementation of the program is going to be interesting. It's going to work for some people if you can create some meaningful jobs for them, and it's going to help them out, but it has to be very carefully advanced and implemented, because in many jurisdictions it hasn't worked and has cost the taxpayer more money in the long run.

I said I didn't want to dwell on the history, but when I keep hearing the history referred to in this House, I think of an oil company we bought in the province of Ontario.

Now, if you had said the NDP was going to buy an oil company in the old days, I would have said, "Yes, I believe it," because they were going to nationalize Inco and they were going to bring in public automobile insurance and so on. They were quite radical in some of the rhetoric. Having assumed the reins of power, however, practicality took over. Not all of these people are wild-eyed, radical socialists. In fact, as I look around the House, I see some who could never be defined as radical, wild-eyed socialists, who might well fit into another party in the Legislature.

But for the life of me, there was a Conservative government buying a big portion of an oil company; I think it was $350 million for Suncor. Some of the members here today, including the Premier, sat in the government caucus and must have acquiesced, because it came forward and there were great rounds of applause for that.

Then I remember the same people here -- probably there were objections in the back room, but they were purchasing a jet, a Challenger jet for the comfort and convenience of the Premier, members of the cabinet and senior government officials. They had it being constructed in Houston, Texas, and I would get up almost daily in the House to ask the Premier of the day, a Progressive Conservative Premier, if indeed there were significant alterations being made to it to make it more comfortable for members of the cabinet and senior government officials.

The government was proceeding with this. I think it was $15 million or $16 million. Day after day, questions would come in the House, and then at long last the Premier rose in the House one day and on page 16 of the statement he said he had, as a magician, converted a Challenger jet into two water bombers and said that was the idea all along, that they'd use them as water bombers.

Of course, my friend the member for Nipissing, who is known in his town as Mike Harris, was a member of that government, as he was a member of the government that purchased Suncor. But I don't want to get too much into that, because if I did I would have to talk about a 35% increase in OHIP premiums initiated by W. Darcy McKeough, the former Progressive Conservative Treasurer of this province and a variety of taxes which were implemented.

In retrospect, am I critical of all of those taxes? I suppose if I wanted to be unfair I should be critical of every one of them. But I knew that the government, if it was going to bring new programs in, beneficial programs and projects, would have to get the money from somewhere. So they brought in those taxes, and they were controversial at the time. They've blurred in the memory of the members who are sitting here today who sat in that government, and those who are newly elected, the new reform caucus, of course do not take those into consideration at all. I thought I would share that with some of the members who perhaps had forgotten.

The member for Carleton is sitting across from me. I will be addressing him -- through you, Mr Speaker, of course -- in a complimentary way a little later on in the speech, and he'll be delighted to know that.

What I believe people are looking for in the province, and your government will have a difficult time with this, I believe -- I hope I'm wrong, but I think you'll have a difficult time with this -- is the issue of fairness. One thing you can count on from the people of Ontario, I believe, is their desire to be fair to everyone in the province. They don't want one group to be getting something that another group isn't getting, and that's going to be important. That's why this issue that came before the House last week was of significance.

Our Finance critic, Gerry Phillips, the member for Scarborough-Agincourt, and the member for Hamilton East both raised the issue of how you treat cheating. In one case there were specific instructions given to members to put these posters up in their office and public places about a snitch line. If somebody was breaking the law on welfare, you could phone in and say, "This person is doing that," or is suspected of it.


But along came the auditor -- and the auditor is totally independent of all of us; every government ends up disliking the auditor eventually, not on a personal basis but the reports the auditor brings forward -- and the auditor said there was a major problem out there with another kind of cheater: a person who didn't pay the taxes assessed to that person.

Now, in terms of fairness, I would have thought the government would have been equally aggressive in dealing with that kind of lawbreaking as it would with those who are at the lower end of the pay scale who are attempting to obtain, in a fraudulent fashion, some social service payment. So both are extremely important.

I believe that we have a situation in the province where we have to --

Mr John Hastings (Etobicoke-Rexdale): They're all crooks.

Mr Bradley: The member for Rexdale says that they are all crooks. I don't know who he's talking about -- "They're all crooks" -- but I think people simply look for fairness, that if one group is going to be treated in one way, another group is going to be treated exactly the same.

You know who else is going to be in favour of the government following the recommendations of the Provincial Auditor? The other person who is going to be pleased with this is the person who has paid his or her taxes: good, solid business people who've worked hard, who've assessed taxes, who've been asked to collect taxes on behalf of the government. Those people are going to say, "If somebody else is evading taxes, that probably means I have to pay more." So those people, in fairness, will have to make sure that things are going right, that things are going to be set.

Next I wanted to deal with the issue of health care. I think if you asked a cross-section of the population of this province what is the most important expenditure that they would have, overall they would say, in the field of health care, that they want a good, solid health care situation.


Mr Bradley: You should have been elected for the Reform Party in Ottawa. You could barrack at the underprivileged there much easier than here.

What you want is a situation where everybody has good access to health care in this province on a fair basis, not one for the rich and one for the rest but a fair system where, when people are ill, those people are able to obtain the necessary health care and they can do it across the province.

I think you will find, if you talk to people about this -- not simply the rich, not simply those who've trampled on everybody else all their lives -- if you ask the average person in this province, those people are going to be prepared to see their tax dollars go to a good health care system. Under the Conservative government I think there was a recognition of this under Premier Davis, and subsequent governments built upon that system.

It's generally conceded, and I think people south of the border look upon us with envy in this regard, that Ontario has had over the years a good health care system. All of us want to ensure that that health care system is maintained in that fashion, not, as I say, so if you're rich you go to a special clinic and you get service right away, but if you don't have that kind of money you don't get that kind of service. I don't think we want to see that kind of system in this province.

There may be some people who do want to see that, and I know that's the philosophy of some people in this province, that in fact they believe that if you're rich and privileged you should be able to go to the front door and get the service right away, while the people who don't have that privileged position or that money shall be at the back of the line. That is one of the reasons I'm in this Legislature: to fight that kind of thinking and the implementation of that kind of policy in this province.

So, I think again, if you talk to fairminded people across this province of all political persuasions, they would in fact tell you that health care is an important investment for all of us. Yes, the dollars have to be spent carefully. Yes, there have to be the important efficiencies. But I believe that, overall, people want to see a good health care system and are prepared to pay for it.

I look, I guess with some degree of interest, at the Ministry of the Environment and what's happening with that ministry. We have seen a situation a number of years ago, and I'm sure the former Minister of the Environment, and the member for Etobicoke-Lakeshore is here, would have liked to have had the resources to carry out his responsibility appropriately. He was interested in the environment. He probably requested that position. He probably asked for that position. He had a little bit of a spill on the way that caused him --

Mr Floyd Laughren (Nickel Belt): Ah, let's not push it, Bradley.

Mr Bradley: I don't say that in a negative way, because it wasn't his fault but it happened, and he made a -- call it a glib comment about it, and there was a lot of focus of attention on it. Now, that doesn't mean the member wasn't interested in the environment. He was, and he probably looked upon the initiatives in the Ministry of the Environment in the subsequent government with a good deal of satisfaction.

Again, there were two sets of people who were pleased to see these initiatives: one, the general population that sees an improvement in the environmental situation in the province; and two, if you get into the business sector, it was those companies who were being responsible, who had spent the dollars, who were prepared then to see others follow the same rules.

I get concerned when I hear that they're going to be what you call business-friendly now, because that conjures up pushing aside environmental regulation, environmental legislation and the fair enforcement of those laws. I know that there have been considerable cutbacks in terms of the staff that's available in the Ministry of the Environment, in terms of the resources available and the clout that ministry has, and that is negative for the people of this province, in my view, and we will pay for it in the long run.

As well, I want to get into the idea of the cuts, because that leads into it, the Ministry of the Environment cuts. I don't envy the Minister of the Environment of the day, because clearly it's going to become a junior ministry again, and when the Ministry of Transportation barks, the Ministry of the Environment will be on the run. That's the way it used to be years ago.

I know if I were a land developer who wanted to get things done very quickly and have a minimum of concern with the environmental implications of what was going on, I'd be delighted. I would be applauding vigorously the removal of the provisions of Bill 163. I would be applauding vigorously the fact that the Ministry of the Environment is being gutted. That would be a delight, because then I could simply trample over all of the regulations that were there in the past, all of the rules that were there to protect the environment, and simply proceed with my development as I saw fit.

Now, I want to mention why I believe this is happening. I think the cuts that you're making, the degree of the cuts and the quickness of the cuts, are related as much to the tax break as they are to the deficit.

I can't think of anybody in the province in his or her right mind who doesn't understand the need to address the deficit. I think there's a consensus out there. Certainly the people I talk to recognize that, and when I express on occasion some support for particular initiatives the government is taking in that regard, they understand that and are reasonable about it.

But what's going to happen, which is very strange, and I don't think a lot of people know this, is that the government of Ontario is going to borrow $20 billion -- they're going to pay $5 billion in interest -- so they can give a tax cut to people. The tax cut of course will benefit those in the highest income brackets the most.

That is difficult to understand, because, again, I talk to a variety of economists out there who, I think, are small-c conservative, and those people tell me that the province simply can't afford a tax cut. I'm not talking about James Laxer. I'm not talking about Maude Barlow. I'm not talking about people on the left wing. I am talking about people who are small-c conservative economists who are saying, in their opinion, if we're to deal appropriately with the deficit, we cannot afford to be providing a huge tax break for people in this province. I know that you can keep --

Mr Hastings: Name one.

Mr Bradley: I would say that the whip for the government side should allow the member for Etobicoke-Rexdale to speak, because I would be delighted to hear his opinions and I would be delighted to send them to my constituents, who I'm sure would be happy to hear the opinions of the member for Etobicoke-Rexdale. I look forward with anticipation to his contribution to the debate. I will help him out; I will speak to the chief government whip to ensure that he gets a chance to speak if he wishes to do so, because I think the people of this province deserve to hear from the member for Etobicoke-Rexdale.


When we look at it, if you said you are addressing the deficit with your cuts, people would agree with it. But you're going to borrow $20 billion so you can give a tax cut to the people of the province, a tax cut that will benefit the rich and the privileged to the greatest extent.

The services that are lost, the services that the middle class requires in this province, not necessarily the rich --


The Deputy Speaker: Would the member take his seat, please. The member for Etobicoke-Rexdale will come to order.

Mr Bradley: Thank you, Mr Speaker, for your very helpful intervention. But the Speaker reminded me, as he rose, I may be able to get on to another subject to help him out, and that is the subject of jail closings, if I can remember to come back to that, and bus service. I will try to think of both of those if I can.


Mr Bradley: That's good. No, I'm happy to see that; it's very good to see that.

Let's go look at the schools, the colleges and universities and things of that nature. One of the initiatives the government is looking at -- in fact, it was an initiative that was taken by the previous government when the member for Windsor-Riverside was the Minister of Education and Training -- is the amalgamation of school boards.

There's this theory out there -- and I remember when the previous Conservative government was implementing regional government there was this theory out there that bigger was better, that somehow regional government was going to be the solution to all of our problems. So they amalgamated a lot of municipalities together, and we know what happened. Since the people working there had more responsibility, they had to have more pay and they had to have more staff. So we saw, at least in the early days, some significant duplication.

The amalgamation of school boards is being advanced by some. Even in the commission appointed by the NDP, some in that commission thought it was reasonable that somehow if you cut the number of school boards, you're going to save a lot of money. Indeed, if you were going to save a lot of money, there would be virtue to it.

But there isn't always virtue to it, and I simply caution the government to look carefully at whether you're really going to save money or not save money, because what you lose, and I think people in smaller communities recognize this better than those of us even in the larger communities, is some of the local control, some of the local input into education, as you have a huge board that makes those decisions. I think a number of members will recognize that. So I would caution the government on amalgamation. It may be useful in certain circumstances, it may not be in other circumstances, but it's not a holus-bolus, "Take all of the recommendations from the commission" solution.

I look as well at the colleges and universities. I'm told by people in the business field that what we need is a highly trained, highly educated workforce for the future if we're able to compete in a global economy. Again, I think we have to look carefully at all of the expenditures that are made. But I see a circumstance arising where, first of all, there's a move away from junior kindergarten and addressing the needs of those young people. I must tell you, I used to be a bit sceptical of the argument that was made for early education at that age; I really was. But I've listened to a number of different sources. I've gone out to some health forums, for instance.

I remember Dr Fraser Mustard, who used to be the dean of the medical faculty at McMaster University, made a very compelling case. He brought studies from around the world which showed the benefit of getting to these children at an early age, particularly where many of these children come from disadvantaged homes. Each of the studies showed that if you were able to turn the kids on to education, if you were able to make that early difference, it really helped throughout and it diminished the chance of social problems later.

Now, as I say, you're looking at a person in this House who was a bit sceptical of this to begin with. Now, when I look at the independent studies that are out there, as I think we all have to do, I have to look at new ideas and perhaps change my thinking on some of the issues that come before me in this House. I can't simply maintain them over the years when circumstances change.

But I think if you look at the number of kids out there who are in disadvantaged circumstances, it's to society's benefit to have that early intervention. I wouldn't have said that in this House even five years ago, but having attended a number of these forums where there were people of various backgrounds making the case, I've now come to that conclusion.

Grade 13 is always a dispute. Some members of this House who have been here a while will remember that grade 13 has been abolished by at least three different governments, and it still seems to be there. I think the system has been fine-tuned to the extent that students today who wish to make it through in four years, exceptional students, can do it with the semestered system. That's positive. But there are students who are not exceptional as academic students or who have circumstances at home that compel them to have to do some work, where it may be advantageous to have them have what we used to call grade 13, or at least the OACs.

As the government looks at that carefully, I hope they will not simply jump at it as a solution, because what we will find is those kids will spend more time in university than they did at the high school levels.

Another thing that some of the people at universities will tell you -- not everybody, but some of the people at universities -- is that kids coming out of our system are generally more mature and generally better prepared for post-secondary education having had grade 13. That's not with everybody; every young person is different. There's a pretty good consensus out there that this has helped them in their post-secondary education, which is why I hope the government is cautious in that regard.

The colleges and universities have a very significant role to play in making us a competitive society, and while they cannot expect that they're going to get the kind of funds they would like, I think it's important to maintain a strong education system.

There are some other areas where cuts have been made where in the short run the government is going to gain an advantage. I'm not convinced in the medium- and long-term run that's going to happen. I know every social agency makes the case that if only you spend in that area, somehow the problems will not come up later on, and I know all governments have to face that, but there are some instances I've seen where this is the case.

I was quite surprised that the government abolished halfway houses. The member for Lincoln, Frank Sheehan, who has worked very well in the field of working with the John Howard Society -- he's been a strong supporter of the John Howard Society over the years -- was the chairman of the halfway house in St Catharines. It was a good program. I talked to some of the people who worked in the program and some of the differences it made.

I thought the advantages of the halfway houses -- almost entirely for society, but also for the people who were the so-called clients -- were the following: First, it's much cheaper to keep people in a halfway house for a portion of their sentence than it is in a jail, and second, it's a much better integration for our society to be able to do that.

I think of it now that I know they're going to have these ankle bracelets or something like that so that you can monitor where they are. What they don't get is the counselling and the help of the job. John Howard has done a great job in our area. Jim Wells -- and Jim Wells is a good Conservative supporter -- has been a strong worker with the John Howard Society over the years. I'm sure he must be pained, though I can't necessarily speak for him, by the loss of the halfway house in St Catharines, because I think it helped society.


If somebody were moving back to my street, I would rather have a person coming from a halfway house, having had some encouragement and counselling and some supervision, coming back into the neighbourhood than I would coming right out of the penitentiary or out of a provincial prison who would have had none of that. I would be much more apprehensive about that. That's why I question the wisdom of that particular cut.

In St Catharines we have a place called Bethlehem Place. It was established largely by church people and other people in our area, the council of churches. By the way, many of the supporters of the Conservative Party were people who worked to have Bethlehem Place. It's what's called second-stage housing; a lot of us don't necessarily know the terms used out there. They had turned people's lives right around. They had, yes, a building, and the building's important enough, but what was more important were the counselling and the program there. They took a lot of people where other people had failed; the other people couldn't handle them, so they'd send them to Bethlehem Place. The rules were tough, the counselling was good, and you had people completely turned around.

There's a lot of support in the community for it. I'm getting a lot of letters today on this, and you don't get this for everything, I can tell you that; it depends on how much support there is in the community. And it's not an organized type of thing; different kinds of letters are coming to me. The churches particularly are concerned about this loss of second-stage housing.

I think this is penny wise and pound foolish; the British use the term. When I think of the excellent work Bethlehem Place has done over the years, I really lament the fact that it's losing $150,000 a year in funding for counselling.

I've heard some of the Tories locally say, "It's time the churches took this up," or "Wouldn't it be good if the private sector or volunteer people came in and took over?" Not a bad suggestion if there weren't other problems, but since there are cutbacks in all the service agencies in our community, everybody needs more money from the volunteer sector and everybody needs more resources and time from those in the volunteer sector. So it really doesn't help Bethlehem Place to say: "Oh, we have this wonderful new plan. All these people are contributing and everything will be fine." It might even be fine for one year, but you can't carry on like that forever.

Another is family and children's services. When the government, for instance, cuts its student welfare, there are some people now who are going to come under the auspices of family and children's services, yet they are seeing cutbacks at a time when the number of their clients is increasing considerably. I think society may well pay the price for that down the line.

Bill 163 is rather interesting. I disagreed with some of the things the NDP did and I agreed with others. Bill 163, the changes to the Planning Act, are rather interesting. I don't like saying one person has to be right, and I know there's a very legitimate difference of opinion on this. I am concerned that we are going to see mistakes made that cannot be handled later on except with a lot of cost.

Let me give you an example. I've seen subdivisions built right beside old landfill sites. Kitchener is one example of that.

Mr Morley Kells (Etobicoke-Lakeshore): What era?

Mr Bradley: Probably every era right along the way, I would guess, probably since subdivisions started out.

I remember what happened in Kitchener, for instance, where a subdivision was built in Kitchener and then we had the methane gas problem. I think there was an explosion and there were some real problems and the cost was very heavy.

The former minister -- he wasn't the minister at the time -- will remember Smithville, where the huge PCBs --

Mr Kells: Do I ever. Half the PCBs in Canada were in Smithville.

Mr Bradley: He says half the PCBs in Canada were put there -- very unwisely. He inherited this from his predecessor, couldn't help that, but the PCBs were located there and we spent millions of dollars on the cleanup. If appropriate action were taken in the first place to avoid the problem, we wouldn't have had this huge expenditure, and time and again we see this happen.

With Bill 163, I see a major problem arising. I used to read the Urban Development Institute newsletter my friend the member for Etobicoke-Lakeshore put out. I know my friend Bob Nixon appreciated his newsletter in which he said "the best Premier Ontario never had," or words to that effect. I remember that one well.

I used to read it. I didn't always agree, but I knew the name Morley Kells. I had served with Morley Kells. He'd been a colleague in the House, albeit on the other side of the House, and I always found his writings to be interesting, especially a recent one in the Toronto Star, right after the cabinet was chosen. That was excellent. I framed that one. That's good, because he's an independent-minded member.

One thing you'll find in this House, Mr Speaker, is that there's a lot of respect for independent-minded people. I don't mean people who are constantly a thorn in the side of the government or party of which they are a member --

Mr Laughren: Name names.

Mr Bradley: I won't get into names. But there is a respect for people who have an independent judgement, an independent analysis. Having said that, I know the member for Etobicoke-Lakeshore will want to use it in his next brochure, but he provided that.

I believe that Bill 163 had a lot of provisions that were beneficial. Yes, where there was a useless holdup of development just because things sat on somebody's desk, that didn't make any sense and the streamlining of that was important. But I fear that some of the environmental provisions and conditions in there will be removed and again we'll see taking place the kind of developments that aren't beneficial to the province.

No matter who's in power, one thing I can say about the provincial authority is that it's independent and it's objective when it's weighing decisions. It's much easier to influence the local council than it is to influence an independent body such as the Ministry of Housing or the Ministry of Environment or the Ontario Municipal Board. It's an independent judgement that is rendered, and I think that's exceedingly important.

I think we'll pay for the changes this government is going to bring about in Bill 163 with some rather unfortunate developments. Some may be good and I'll be happy to see them, but I think we'll see some unfortunate ones.

The reason I get to that is that I am one who believes strongly in saving prime farm land. To do that, you have to save the farmer. That's most important. I don't think you can simply say to the farmer, "Here's the circumstances you're in and you're stuck there." You have to be prepared to assist the farmer.

One of the things in our society we haven't been prepared to do is pay the farmer the price that's fair for his food. I'm probably as guilty as everybody else, and when I go into the supermarket I'm looking at price as well as other things. Because we have a farming area in our area, I tend to look at where things are grown, and just because it says "Canada No 1" doesn't mean it's Canadian-grown. I've looked at it, and I find the quality of our product is very, very good, and I am from time to time prepared to pay a little more.

Mr Mike Colle (Oakwood): Did you find any tuna for 69 cents?

Mr Bradley: I have not found any tuna for 69 cents, but that doesn't mean there isn't any out there. I just haven't found any.

For instance, there's a proposal by the regional municipality of Niagara which I think is not going to work, and that proposal is to start granting severances. Those people who live in rural areas, like the Niagara Peninsula, know what happens when you grant severances. You have the urban people moving out to the area, and the urban people move out and start complaining about the farming practices. They don't like the odours, they don't like the dust, they don't like the noise, they don't like the territory, but they like the fact that they're out of the city and it's a bit quiet.


I remember one of the very difficult times I had -- and as Minister of the Environment, I did not interfere and would not interfere with prosecutions, but our ministry was in the middle of prosecuting somebody with a bird banger that was simply a noisemaker to keep the birds away from the cherries at that time. It's a loud noise and annoying noise, but it's part of the farm operation. I was delighted to see that in fact we had a resolution of this problem.

My friend the member for Grey-Owen Sound sits beside me now. When I mention the word "severance," what comes to my mind immediately is my friend the member for Grey-Owen Sound, who has been known to be in favour of some severances over the years from time to time. But I think he understands that each part of the province is different, and the effect of a severance in one area is often different from a severance in another area.

I think what the regional municipality of Niagara has proposed will be death by a thousand cuts. They'll have all these severances out there, all the urban people moving out and then complaining about the farmers. The second thing you'll have is a demand for urban services. They'll say: "Now that we're out here we have to have water services, sewer services. And let's get the bus out here. Let's have some street lights." So you see this urban sprawl taking place on some of the best farm land in Ontario.

I make no friends, from time to time, and my friend the member for Lincoln is here, and he would know this. For the life of me, Frank, when I see subdivisions in Vineland and Beamsville for people who live and work in Toronto and have nothing to do with Beamsville or Vineland, and then they will go to you and demand services -- they'll demand school expansions, they'll demand recreational services -- for the life of me, I don't understand why we'd be paving that kind of farm land over just to have some subdivisions to service people who work in Toronto, in other words, making a bedroom community out of our area.

I think there are some solutions. The member for Lincoln and I and the member for St Catharines-Brock have looked at some proposals, along with the federal members, that might assist farmers in being more successful financially. One is marketing. I think we've got good products down there, and I know the member for Lincoln would agree, some excellent products, and if we would market those in a very innovative way I think we'd find a lot more in the way of sales.

The member also pointed out at a meeting, and I don't think he'll mind me sharing this with you, that while we heard an awful lot about sour cherries and how bad they were this year, there were other products that were quite successful in terms of the dollars obtained for the sale of those products. So I don't think it's safe to just in a blanket way say, "Everything is terrible in terms of fruit farming in the Niagara region."

I want to see this kind of promotion of our product. I would hope that our grocery stores in this province would show some loyalty and put those products into the stores for us to see and clearly label them so we can purchase those.

I do not see as progress a Toronto from Toronto to Fort Erie, just a mass out there. One of the attractions of the Niagara Peninsula is a lot of the rural area that is there. That's what attracts many of the people, that it is kind of a nice, laid-back place. Somebody working for one of the companies in Welland was telling me that somebody comes up every year from Ohio and does winery tours and comes up sometimes when the blossoms are out and so on. Now, this looks like kind of a soft industry when you say it, but it's important to tourism, and it makes the Niagara Peninsula attractive.

I'm telling you I do not want to see all those little towns simply become bedroom communities for Toronto. Some of my colleagues who are closer to Toronto know what I'm talking about when I say that they have had to incur the costs of providing services for people who are really oriented very much to Toronto, and it's not their fault; they want to come out to try to get cheaper housing.


Mr Bradley: There's also quality.

University tuition: The NDP -- and the former minister is here -- raised tuition by some 42%, even though the NDP was in favour of abolishing tuition. Did they do it because they wanted to? No. Did they do it because they hate students? No. They were faced with difficult circumstances, and I thought they went too high with it, but nevertheless I know why they did it, even if I don't necessarily agree with it.

I hear now rumours, and they're only rumours, that the government is considering almost taking the lid off tuition and letting it go where it wants to. Well, that's fine again if you've got money. That's fine again if you're in a privileged position. I don't think a government can, nor should it, be in the position of determining outcomes. But I think government is in the position of trying to provide opportunity for people. If you're simply going to say that the wealthy are going to be those who are able to go to university or to community colleges, I think we all lose if that happens.

I hope the government isn't going to allow continued huge increases in tuition, because there's a second part of that. In the summer, a lot of students used to be able to get good jobs, and there are still some. I suspect that within the government today -- some of the government members who are not in the cabinet may or may not realize this -- your government is developing something that would remove all of the summer job opportunities. I'd be surprised if I saw the summer Experience program, which was good for kids out there, a good opportunity, survive the meat axe that the government is swinging. Places like General Motors that used to employ a lot of students in the summer -- good money for them, good opportunity; they could earn some money to go to university -- don't hire nearly so many students. I wonder about the Junior Ranger program, a really good program started by the Tories a number of years ago, and whether that will continue to exist.

If you see what I'm saying, on the one hand your government is thinking of allowing tuition to go up rather drastically, but there aren't going to be the job opportunities for students in the summer that there once were. That will mean that only those who have the financial ability to do so will be able to go to university or community college. We all lose by that, because there are a lot of talented people there who don't have high incomes, who come from more modest means. Don't lock them out. Give them the opportunity. Once they've got the education, you have no obligation to get them a job; you have no obligations then. We have only an obligation as legislators to provide opportunity for those people.

The LCBO privatization is another favourite issue that I want to deal with. Again, I'm looking at all these things the Tories have done years gone by that have been successful, and here I am in the House extolling the virtues of the former Conservative regime in this regard. You've got something successful: the LCBO. I know in years gone by that's where all the Tories worked in the summer and at Christmastime and so on. I think that's kind of changed because the union rules and so on changed much of that, but you've got a very successful operation. It's good product. The stores are clean. It's not the old days where you had to go in and sign something and you handed the person the signed order just with a number on it. You couldn't even put what you were ordering; you had to use your number.

Mr Laughren: You're going back a long way.

Mr Bradley: A long way. Back when the member for Nickel Belt first came to the Legislature, this is what happened.

Mr Len Wood (Cochrane North): Now the dean.

Mr Bradley: Now the dean of the Legislature. You had to sign the paper and hand it in and the person went and got you the bottle. Now, I just heard that from others because I was never in there in those days. I would have been too young to be in there in those days, so I wouldn't have known anything about that. But that's what others told me you had to do. Now you have some very nice stores. They stock virtually everything, far more product than they do where it's privatized. You don't hear of many robberies, and the people working in the store are quite responsible in terms of not allowing young people to purchase the product.


I think it's been quite successful. They've opened up more hours now, so if people have a different lifestyle they now open up different hours. They have stores that are called -- what do you call those stores in the rural areas? -- agency stores. They have agency stores that are useful.

You've got an excellent chairman of the board, Andy Brandt, former leader of the Conservative Party, a real booster, a person who's doing, in my view, an excellent job -- I'm impartial -- and for the life of me I don't know why you want to even consider privatizing it. It makes a lot of money for the government.

Go to New York state. Is that what you want? There's a robbery every night at those stores. They stock stuff that you don't know what it is when you get it. The LCBO has pretty good quality control in there. You don't know what you're getting in one of those private stores. I'm told in Alberta the amount they stock is very limited in each of the stores and the cost has gone up.

So you've got something successful. Keep it; take credit for it. You can say, "We Conservatives" -- out there, you people -- "brought in the Liquor Control Board of Ontario stores and they've been successful and we're proud of them." Some of us, most of us on this side, would be applauding that and saying, "Yes, you're right, and let's keep those."

Now I look at something that concerns all of us, and that's plant closures that are taking place. I look at my own community. On Friday we had Foster Wheeler, a major operator in terms of producing boilers, turbines over the years, a major employer, announce that it was moving its largest division to Dansville, New York, and 180 permanent jobs will be gone. One of the people I know has worked there 45 years. When we read about it it's numbers, but all of us are human beings. We live on streets, we have relatives, friends, and you find out it affects real people.

I become very discouraged when I see Foster Wheeler moving its major operation to the US; Kelsey-Hayes in St Catharines in the process of closing down its operation; Court Industries moving its operation.

I was under the impression -- I don't say this in a particularly negative way -- that since Ontario was open for business and you were going to bend over backwards as a government to accommodate the expressed wishes of business, somehow we would see people staying here in the province.

Each of the circumstances is different; I understand that. The Premier the other day stood in the House and went through a performance, which he must, and I understand that, about how maybe they didn't know about all the good changes coming. I suspect all of these industries knew about the changes you're making, but they're still moving to the US or closing operations.

There are not that many job opportunities for the people who lose their jobs, particularly those who are older. There are some programs being cut back that assisted those people. The Ministry of Labour staff is being cut back in the areas that deal with employment standards and things of that nature.

The Premier was kind enough to say that he would make a personal call to the company to see if there was anything he personally could do, and I appreciate that gesture on his part. I hope the Minister of Economic Development, Trade and Tourism and the Minister of Labour will try to intervene. If it is not possible to retain the operation, or any of these operations, I hope that the adjustment for the workers can be made as humane as possible.

Something else we got into, and again people from smaller communities within regions may find this interesting: the regional chairs -- I think they're all "chairmen" in this case. Are they all chairmen? Anyway, they're all men in this case, I think, but there are 11 of them. They were involved in a program --

Mr Rob Sampson (Mississauga West): That makes a difference?

Mr Bradley: Nowadays you don't know what you're supposed to say. I'm just trying to say they're chairs but in this case men, so they're chairmen, I guess. I'm being sidetracked.

They were cooking up something for several months which involved a new answer to all the problems of the province. They went behind the backs of the municipalities, used the resources of their staffs, and guess what answer they had to the problems?

Mr John Gerretsen (Kingston and The Islands): Their own municipalities didn't know.

Mr Bradley: Their own municipalities did not know. The solution is: "Leave everything to the region and get rid of those local municipalities. We will handle things best." Does that sound familiar? Does that sound like the old regional government argument, that the regional government would know best and the people in the local community, on those municipal matters, wouldn't know best?

My own municipality of St Catharines was up in arms over this. There was a meeting of the regional council, there was some criticism offered, but nothing really happened from it. This doesn't mean that we shouldn't always look at structures of government to see if we can improve them. What concerns me is that here are 11 people who claim to speak for the regions, many of whom are not even elected at large in the regions, making some major representations very quietly to the government of Ontario. They were discovered, and now local mayors and reeves and other officials are quite concerned at what was happening with the regional chairmen.

I hope that the government would give at least equal, and probably more, weight to the arguments made by others, duly elected people, people who generally represent their areas, as opposed to simply the regional chairs.

Bill 7: You promised as a government over there that you would remove Bill 40, the NDP labour legislation. I won't go at length on this because I've already dealt with it in the motion of closure, or time allocation. One of the problems I see is that I know you think --

Mr Pouliot: You voted against Bill 40. You can't have it eight different ways.

Mr Bradley: Bill 40 had some problems as well. What we seek is some balance.

Mr Pouliot: A curse on both your houses.

Mr Bradley: The member for Lake Nipigon is intervening now. Somebody said the other day, watching, that he was somewhat flummoxed by the interventions of the member for Lake Nipigon, who, I assured him, was simply using good humour and really didn't mean sometimes what he said and other times he meant what he said.

Anyway, what you've done is you've made those changes. It's one thing to say, "We promised it, it's out there, so therefore we implement it exactly as we promised it." Not everything that you promise is absolutely perfect, and sometimes there's a need -- I'm not saying with the principle -- to tinker with the bill, to make changes in the bill to make it better. By not having the hearings across the province you gave, at the very least, the appearance of ramming it through the House.


I know there was some disruption in the House. That always annoys the government. I've sat on the government side; I can remember how often those who'd never served in opposition would get annoyed by that. I wouldn't; I would explain to my colleagues in government that I had sat in opposition. I understand that the opposition's opportunity to influence the government is limited and sometimes they use tactics that people think are not as grown up as they should be. I understood that. But I think the mistake you made was ramming it through as you did -- it was going to pass anyway; you've got 82 members -- and not making changes to accommodate some legitimate concerns about the bill.

Now, if I may be parochial, I want to announce to everyone and welcome everyone to the 1999 world rowing championships, to be held in St Catharines. Mr Saunderson, the member for Eglinton, and the Minister of Economic Development, Trade and Tourism, has been deeply involved in rowing over the years and would know about this, but it's a major, prestigious event being held in St Catharines.

We have to, however, dredge the Royal Canadian Henley Regatta course to make it competitive for the world championships, and I think this is a good investment by the federal government, which has made an investment, the local government, the volunteer sector, the private sector, and I hope the provincial government with a share.

The returns for the province and for our community in terms of dollars coming into the country, into the province and the community are going to be very significant and the prestige of our nation and our province and our community enhanced considerably. So there's a payback to that, and I hope the government would look favourably upon providing assistance.

Another group has come up -- and there may be some lawyers in the House who may be annoyed with me for dealing with this issue, but there's a group that has been formed in the Niagara Peninsula to deal with the cost of divorces and separations, and that's what the group is all about. They say, you know, they have two people who are in difficult marital circumstances, and what happens is there is a charging by the lawyers on each side of a certain tariff for services rendered, and I think what they're looking for is the Attorney General to solve this problem by perhaps making it easier to come to an agreement without so much expenditure on legal costs.

Now, if you're in the legal community, you may see this as necessary cost, but I hope the Attorney General has looked carefully and will assess the representations made by this group that believes that the costs incurred are not beneficial to either side in a divorce or separation and that there may be some way of lowering that cost at the very least.

It says here, "You can't squeeze legal aid money from a stone." So that's come from somebody else.

I know all of you -- and I asked the Minister of Health when I had to respond to one of his statements the other day -- would be aware of the need for an MRI in St Catharines. This is a magnetic resonance imager.

Mr Gerretsen: You still don't have one?

Mr Bradley: We still don't have one. We have three CAT scanners in the Niagara region now, all very good, but a magnetic resonance imager does a different job. The closest one is Hamilton, and there's a lineup there.

Interjection: They cost money.

Mr Bradley: Actually, they do cost money, but what happens is, the local community raises the entire capital cost of the magnetic resonance imager and the hospital gets only a very small amount of operating cost. So again it's a good investment. If you get at some of the problems and diagnose them earlier, often the cost to the medical care system will be less. I think it's a good investment, and I know all members will be speaking to the Minister of Health to be assured that we have this in St Catharines.

Lastly, because I know there are other members who wish to speak, including the member for Nickel Belt, I would like to read from a letter, and I hope this gives some reason to think for the members on the government side. This letter is an open letter to the Premier, and I'm going to read the whole thing because I don't think it's fair just to read the excerpts that the opposition likes.

But this is a letter, not from the president of the labour council, not from Gord Wilson, the president of the Ontario Federation of Labour, not from activists' groups, which have demonstrated out front against this government, not from those who have been traditional enemies of the government, but from the Anglican Church, and specifically from the Bishop of Niagara, Walter Asbil. I think it's important, because churches are reluctant to get involved in political matters.

I suspect, if I were to look in the biographies of members of the governing side, there may be a significant number of Anglicans sitting on the government side, and --

Mr Richard Patten (Ottawa Centre): They're all rich.

Mr Bradley: Well, the members of the government are; not all Anglicans, though. But I would like to read this in the record just so you will take it into consideration, because you don't want to be labelled this way and there's some considerable evidence to the Bishop that you are deserving of what it says in here. It also says, "St Thomas Anglican Church in St Catharines along with the other 115 congregations in the diocese of Niagara fully support the bishop's letter." It's rather significant. It's to the Honourable Michael Harris. It's dated October 24, 1995:

"Dear Premier Harris:

"I write to you out of deep conviction and concern. During the past few months, this level of concern has increased to the point that silence is no longer possible.

"You and your government have received a strong mandate from the people of Ontario and that mandate is to govern. The responsibility that comes with this charge is awesome and I want to begin by assuring you that the members of our parishes in Niagara diocese pray for you and your government on a regular basis.

"The task of government, however, is to govern fairly, with a passion for justice towards all segments of society. In trying to face the problems before it, and we all realize that you face huge difficulties, the solutions chosen must not treat one group in society more harshly than another.

"In dealing with a problem as important and difficult as the provincial debt, every Ontario citizen should share in its solution, with those who have more resources being asked to take proportionate responsibility.

"What I perceive, however, in the first months of your mandate as our Premier, is that your government is singling out the poorest segment in our society, the ones with no champion in your cabinet, and you are asking them to bear the brunt of your efforts to reduce the debt. At the same time, you're giving me and others like me in the so-called `middle class' a healthy boost in my health coverage so that I can more easily head to Florida for as much of the winter as I wish. Further, you are promising me a substantial reduction in the taxes I pay (30% seems to be the target). I could easily go into many other details regarding your announced policies, but allow me for the sake of brevity to paint only this broad picture."

This is where I think it becomes rather condemning and this is what I think members of the government should take into account and think about. I don't expect you're going to respond in the House to it, but think about it. He makes the following observation:

"The face your government is presenting to Ontario increasingly is one that shows heartlessness, no compassion, callous disregard and an attitude towards the poor that is perceived as mean and patronizing. Your ministers stereotype groups of people with labels, forgetting they are citizens, voters, sisters and brothers and neighbours. Some in your cabinet, and I allow generously for inexperience, shock me with their remarks and attitudes, as if speaking about things and not about people, who ask only for the respect every human deserves.

"The patronizing attitude towards the disabled, the single parent, the poor, the abused, the homeless, all of them our sisters and brothers, is especially upsetting.

"My strong hope and prayer is that you and your government will turn another face towards the people you govern. Why cannot the government of the largest province in Canada become known as a compassionate government? This does not mean abandoning plans to face the very real problems you confront, but it does mean that such plans are shaped with a care for people, for all people. Why cannot the government of Ontario bring a balance into its program and stop singling out, victimizing, ridiculing those least able to speak out or stand up for themselves? Why do you promise the already rich even more riches and, at the same time, slam the poor?


"As Bishop of the Anglican Diocese of Niagara, I have responsibility for 116 congregations in southern Ontario, for the membership of 50,000, including communities between Fort Erie and Shelburne, from Guelph to the Mississauga border. This diocese includes cities like Niagara Falls, St Catharines, Hamilton, Burlington, Oakville, Milton, Georgetown, Orangeville, Guelph and many of the surrounding towns and communities. Our clergy and lay leaders continue each day in trying to respond to the basic needs of people in their particular area. Many are on boards and committees in their region who support and help people in a wide variety of ways. How utterly discouraging it is to all of these leaders when the government of our province scolds us as we try our best and offer no sense of partnership, concern or continuing financial support.

"While I do not try to speak for every member in all our parishes, since most can speak for themselves, I do represent the clergy and people of the diocese of Niagara in asking you to have passion for fairness, for justice and for compassion.

"My basis for this concern grows out of personal faith, from the Scriptures that Christians hold as central, from the way and example of Jesus Christ. These central things of our faith encourage our parish members to join all others in society to work for the wellbeing of all, having a special regard for our sisters and brothers who are poorest among us.

"The prayers of the people of the diocese of Niagara are offered to God regularly for you and for the government you lead."

Signed by Walter Asbil, Bishop of Niagara.

Bishop Asbil has, far better than I could say and with more independence and without a political consideration that I would bring to a debate, as I do to any debate in this House in the afternoon, made an observation which at the very least should be one which members of the governing side should take into account.

As I mentioned at the beginning of the letter, were this from the Ontario Federation of Labour, were it from the president of the NDP or the president of the Liberal Party or from one of us in the House, one might say there is a partisan consideration to it, that there is an opposition that is historic and ongoing, but this is a bishop of the Anglican Church, a person who has made an observation about your government. I hope the government can change its persona, that it can change its policies so that the Bishop of Niagara can write a letter complimenting the government of which you are a part and the assembly of which we're all a part.

I leave that with you this afternoon, along with some of the observations that are made, and I want to assure you that unlike the United States, where the legislative branch will be preventing the executive branch from having the necessary funds to carry on its duties and responsibilities, those of us in this portion of the legislative branch will not be holding the government to ransom and will allow the government to have its supply in the appropriate period of time to be able to carry out its responsibilities.

The Acting Speaker (Ms Marilyn Churley): Questions or comments? Seeing none, further debate.

Mr Laughren: I did want to speak for a few moments. I don't think I'll match the prodigious output of my colleague and good friend the member for St Catharines --

Mrs Elinor Caplan (Oriole): And eloquence.

Mr Laughren: Eloquent as well, and from time to time quite fair in his comments.

Interjection: He's always fair.

Mr Laughren: That's right. But I did want to make some comments on the interim supply. When I see interim supply on the order paper, it brings back a flood of memories to me, one or two of them even good, but not all of them, I can assure you, because there is a new mythology developing out there in Ontario, it seems to me, and I've noticed it in some books I've read on the New Democratic Party's five years in office. I just finished reading one by a self-professed Liberal, which is really good of him to do that, to profess --

Mr Bradley: Storming the Pink Palace?

Mr Laughren: Storming the Pink Palace. But I've read a couple of other books as well, and I enjoyed them, because when you're in that milieu and then read about it later, it is truly fascinating to see the perspective that other people have or the spin that they put on some of the events.

Mr Bradley: How about Giving Away a Miracle?

Mr Laughren: That I haven't read. So I do remember very clearly, when I hear some of the present government members talk about our spending and their cost-cutting, I sometimes feel they need to be reminded -- and I appreciate very much what the member for St Catharines said about our attempt to rein in spending by government in Ontario. I recall that when we came to office -- I'll give you a couple of examples -- the Ontario drug benefit program was increasing each year over the previous year at 18% a year. I'm not pointing fingers; that's the way the Ontario drug benefit plan was developing, and it was just completely unsustainable. Health care costs --


Mr Laughren: If you'd just listen for a moment, the health care costs were going up at an annual rate of about 11% a year all during the 1980s -- 11% a year. That's unsustainable as well when you think of the base of $17 billion you're working from. If you allow that to go up 11% each year over the previous year, you've got a serious problem. That was what we walked into. I'm not blaming or pointing fingers; that doesn't solve a thing.

But we did make serious attempts to rein in government spending, and by the end of our term -- we didn't do it the first year; I'd be the first one to acknowledge that. For one thing, we were elected in September and the fiscal year was up at the end of March. But those of you who were around here will recall that in 1993 we brought in a budget that we talked about as being the three legs of the stool: We raised taxes -- absolutely -- to the tune of $2 billion that year, we cut program expenditures by $2 billion a year and we saved $2 billion a year on the social contract.

Hon Charles Harnick (Attorney General, minister responsible for native affairs): "We are going to fight the deficit." Remember those words?

Mr Laughren: Do you think that any of those were popular to do? Absolutely not.

Hon Mr Harnick: That's after what you spent --

The Acting Speaker: Come to order, member for Willowdale.

Mr Laughren: We're supposed to, in this chamber, deny any responsibility for anything we might have done that in retrospect we might not have done. I'm trying to say to members opposite: "Yes, that's true. Absolutely true."

I don't have any doubt whatsoever that the present government has already made some decisions which they will live to regret. They will live to regret them. I can tell you what they are; I know you wouldn't want me to leave you hanging after making a statement like that. The government will regret its promise to cut income taxes by 30%. You will regret that because of the price that the communities all across this province will have to pay for you to deliver that promise. You will live to regret that promise.


Mr Laughren: Look, I'm just making a prediction; you don't have to take my word for it. I wouldn't suggest for a minute that you abandon your commitment to the Common Sense Revolution; you'd all look pretty silly if you did that now. But I'm just telling you the day will come when people in the province will say, "Why are we having to suffer all of these cuts at the local level -- in education, in health care, in community services -- so that well-heeled people in this province can get a 30% tax cut on their income taxes?" That's exactly what it's all about -- exactly.

I am telling you, you are going to regret that decision. I don't think you'll change your mind on that, although I did notice the other day that the Minister of Finance was already hedging his bets a little bit. "The timing might be a little different, you know," he said. We can see. We'll wait and see what will happen. I'm quite prepared to be told by members opposite in four years that I was wrong when I made this speech on November 20, 1995. I'm prepared to admit that. I've made lots of mistakes in this place, and if that's the case, fine. But I'm telling you, you will live to regret that promise. You will.

Hon Mr Harnick: You lived to regret that first budget, and we will do exactly the opposite of that first budget.

The Acting Speaker: Member for Willowdale.

Mr Laughren: What he's really admitting is that they are going to take those cuts in order to provide their friends with a tax cut at the income tax level. That's exactly what you're doing.


Mr Laughren: Don't give me any of that nonsense. We know exactly who benefits from the tax cut and it's your friends who earn over $50,000, $70,000, $100,000, $200,000 a year. That's who benefits from the tax cut. That's why you had to cut welfare rates, so you could deliver a tax cut to your well-heeled friends. Let's not pretend it's anything else. It's crystal clear, that's what it is; crystal clear.


I'm trying to be as reasonable and as rational as possible, because when I was watching the election unfold, it was obvious we were not going to get re-elected in June 1995. You didn't have to be a wizard to see that that was about to happen. I watched the campaign unfold, and as everyone else who's a candidate, I go door to door in my election campaign, and it was very clear in my constituency, even though my constituents have been loyal to me -- that doesn't mean they always will be, but I can tell you that as soon as the Tory ads started on workfare and job quotas, I could feel the cold wind blowing through my constituency and, indeed, it blew through the rest of the province. So those were very politically successful ads, and they worked very, very well for the Tories.

I think those are the two main reasons that they won the election. I think the tax cut had something to do with it as well, although I think the main beneficiaries of the tax cut would vote for you anyway, so I'm not too sure why you needed to do that.

I watched with real fascination, because we've been through it as well, all three parties now. There's been a majority government for each political party in the last three provincial elections. So it was obvious that we're on to something here with changes. Whether or not it'll happen next time, I'm not suggesting that. But I can tell you I watched with some fascination as the cabinet was appointed.

There were some very, very predictable appointments. I think the Minister of Finance, that was a predictable appointment, and I quite frankly think a good one. I think the Attorney General -- I don't want to embarrass him. I thought that was a good appointment as well. The member for Leeds-Grenville: I thought that was predictable, at least. There were some others that were disappointing, because there were some members of the caucus who were here before who quite frankly I thought would have made good cabinet ministers, regardless of political party.

But there have been some problems in the new Tory cabinet, some real problems. I can remember, when we were in office, the charge daily across the floor from the Tories was that we were completely incompetent. Well, I wish I could play that one back again, I'll tell you, when I see some of the performances over there in the last couple of months. You must confess that there have been some embarrassing moments in this chamber in the last couple of months. Well, you don't have to confess it, but I think you will.


The Acting Speaker: Order, please. The member for Nickel Belt, speak to the Chair.

Mr Laughren: All I'm telling you is that we had embarrassing moments too. You can't seem to grasp that. And you've had some embarrassing moments and you're going to have more, and some of them are right here in the chamber as I speak. And you're going to have more of them.

The other day I couldn't believe it when the Minister of Economic Development, Trade and Tourism stood in his place and tried to explain how the government had absolutely no role in furthering economic development by assisting the business community. Why he didn't then take the wonderful opportunity to say, "And for that reason, Mr Speaker, I'm resigning because my ministry is completely useless now, completely redundant" --

Mr Pouliot: He would have been a hero.

Mr Laughren: He would have been a hero. We would have all applauded him. And I don't think he's enjoying his job anyway. He came highly touted, but he has not delivered very well.

There are times when you have to grasp that opportunity. I know that others of you --

Mr Pouliot: At least he's not here for the money.

Mr Laughren: Well, you don't know about that for sure.

The next moment that's going to be delicious in this chamber is on November 29, when the people of this province start, really start for the first time, when the Minister of Finance makes his announcement on transfers to partners out there all across the province -- municipalities, universities, school boards, hospitals, social agencies -- when he makes that statement, the people of the province are going to get their really first glimpse of how the tax cut's being paid for. That's what they're going to see. This is the first opportunity that they'll be able to see it in spades. But it's going to start to sink in that, holy smokes, why are we doing this just so that well-heeled people can have a tax break? We'll see. I can imagine some of the fuss in the educational community, at the municipal level, school boards.

But there's one area where people out there should relax and not worry about a thing, and that's anybody that's involved in the health care field. Relax; no cuts, absolutely no cuts in health care. None. So on November 29, everybody out there relax; no cuts in health care. We know that. The Tories know that because you promised it in your Common Sense Revolution. So everybody out there knows that while they may be in trouble in education -- although nothing to affect the classroom -- and other areas, municipalities and property taxpayers are going to see their taxes go up, that's for sure, but the one area where people should relax is if you work in a hospital, if you work at any aspect of health care; don't worry, there won't be a problem, because the Tories have promised not to cut health care at all, not at all.

I'll tell you why. In the Common Sense Revolution, it's very clear: "We will not cut health care spending. It's far too important.... Under this plan, health care spending will be guaranteed." A 20% cut in non-priority spending "without touching" -- these are the words in the Revolution -- the health care budget. Without touching it. Now, that's as firm a promise as you can make, and I tell you, if the Premier doesn't honour that, he's also on the record as saying he'll resign if he doesn't deliver on these promises. So we'll see.

Mr Len Wood: Oh, he's still saying that.

Mr Laughren: Well, I haven't heard him say anything differently. Then there was the Mike Harris Forum on Bringing Common Sense to Health Care. That was in December of 1994. This is what he said then. "While other non-priority areas of government will have their budgets reduced, budgets for health care, law enforcement and classroom education will remain at their current levels." At their current levels, and in health care that was $17.4 billion a year. Now, that's as firm a promise as you can make. I don't think he was dissembling -- look up that word if you don't know it -- I don't think that he was making a false promise. I think he really meant that, and I assume he means it today, that there will be no cuts in health care. That was in his Forum on Bringing Common Sense to Health Care.

Then in May of this year, as we headed for the election, Mr Harris issued a release that had five commitments to health care in which he said: "There will be no cuts to health care funding by a Mike Harris government. This is our first and most important commitment." There's another promise.

Then the Minister of Health, speaking before he was the minister, admittedly, but on May 31, not long before he was the minister, said at a conference: "We are committed to preserving health care funding in Ontario. Every dollar we save through managing the system better will be plowed right back into front-line patient-care services." That's the Minister of Health speaking.

Of course, something went off the rails, because on October 6 the Finance minister announced a $107-million cut for this year and $50 million next year. Wait a minute. Wasn't there a firm promise in the Common Sense Revolution that there would be no cuts to health care? What is wrong here? Something's gone wrong.

Secondly, the minister and the Premier have talked about reinvesting health care savings generated at the local level back into the community. This is what he said in Bringing Common Sense to Health Care, this is Mike Harris speaking back in December, almost a year ago:

"Building the right incentive into our health care system will be essential. Health care professionals will have a Mike Harris guarantee that savings they generate through their own initiative will not be siphoned off into other non-health-care-related programs. Local health care communities will share in any savings identified locally for reinvestment in community priorities."


I want to tell you, I'm not allowed to use certain words in this chamber. I'm not allowed, so I won't use those bad words because the Speaker would descend upon me with both spiked heels if I used them, but in Windsor that promise has already been broken, in Sudbury that promise -- don't shake your head. How do you know? Why are you shaking your head? You know that?

Hon Marilyn Mushinski (Minister of Citizenship, Culture and Recreation): I didn't shake my head. We didn't break our promises.

The Acting Speaker: The member for Nickel Belt, please address the Chair.

Mr Laughren: How ridiculous can you be, to say that they haven't broken the promise to reinvest savings. You're calling the Minister of Health a liar if you say that. That's what you're calling him, because he stood in his place in this chamber and said, "We are not going to reinvest the savings in Windsor and we're not going to reinvest the savings in Sudbury." So if you don't believe the Minister of Health, your battle's with him, not with me.

Hon Mr Harnick: Wrong. There will be $17.4 billion in the envelope.

Mr Laughren: We're not talking about $17.4 billion, we're talking about the savings that are generated at the local level being reinvested in the community for community services. That promise has already been broken, completely broken. If the Tory members are embarrassed by that, they should take it up with the Minister of Health, not with me. I'm quoting him. That's what he said.

Hon Ms Mushinski: No way. Wrong.

Hon Mr Harnick: Your mathematics is nothing that we would ever rely on. "Spot on" are the words I recall.

Mr Laughren: All right, then let me quote the Minister of Health. Perhaps this will get through to the Tories. I don't expect you to take my word for anything. This is what Jim Wilson said on Thursday, October 26 this year, less than a month ago. This is what Jim Wilson said:

"There is no sense paring down the institutional side in a local community without beefing up community-based services. Will that be a dollar-for-dollar exchange? The answer is simply no."

So blow that out your ear. If you don't believe me, take it up with the Minister of Health. He's already on the record as having said that. So there's another promise broken already.

The other thing that was promised by Mike Harris in the Common Sense Revolution had to do with an increase in community-based care. This is what he says in his Bringing Common Sense to Health Care, December 2, 1994: "Our goal: funding an increased number of community-based health care services to meet the priority needs of consumers."

What have we seen since then, despite that promise? The closing of birthing centres, no action whatsoever on long-term care, nothing. I'm not saying you have to buy our model. Fine, introduce your own. Cancel ours, introduce your own. That's fine. But do something. Get off your duff. You're supposed to be doing something on long-term care. You have done nothing, nothing at all.

Here you are, you're expecting communities to go through the hospital restructuring exercise, expecting them to do that at the local level, and they've worked extremely hard at that. My own community worked for a couple of years on hospital restructuring with the assurance that before one hospital was closed and restructuring went on, there would be an increase in the level of community-based, home-based services in the community. Guess what? Nothing. Big fat zero by the Tory government. Absolutely nothing.

Another commitment that the Tories made had to do with user fees. Oh, user fees, here's where they're getting cute and using weasel words and sucker clauses. You're raising that skill to an art form. This is what it says in the Common Sense Revolution: "Under this plan there will be no new user fees." Mike Harris, Five Commitments to Health Care, said, "Mike Harris and his caucus publicly rejected new user fees as an effective way to ensure adequate funding for our health care system." What a lot of nonsense.

You're already floating the ideas out there on the drug benefit plan, and you can pretend that a copayment is not a user fee all you like, nobody's going buy that line. Nobody will buy that line. One day you don't pay for the drug and the next day you do. One day there's no user fee for the prescription, the next day there is. And you're trying to tell people that's not a user fee? How stupid do you think people are? They see through that very, very clearly.

I use the term "weasel words and sucker clauses" because there was never any mention in the Common Sense Revolution of anything else about the Canada Health Act. Now the Minister of Health and the Premier are talking about, "Well, there'll be no user fees in anything that comes under the Canada Health Act." You talk about weasel words -- that's them. Because that's what you're going to do.

Another commitment that you made was to restore 24-hour emergency service for rural and northern hospitals. My goodness. This is what Jim Wilson said, "A Mike Harris government will sit down with the Ontario Medical Association and immediately adopt the key recommendations contained in the Scott report" -- which dealt with that very problem -- "which help to resolve the small emergency room coverage crisis."

This is Jim Wilson speaking. "By ending this crisis we will demonstrate our commitment to dealing in an honest and straightforward way with professionals." When, Mr Wilson, are you going to do this? The report's been sitting on your desk. Why don't you do something with it? Big promises. Big promises. No delivery. No delivery.

Another issue, which really did cause me to raise my eyebrows, was the implementation of smart card technologies. Remember, the Liberals introduced a health care card that was fraught with problems. We tried to deal with it. We introduced a new card that had a photo identity with it and had a certain amount of information on it. It was a magnetic stripe, as I recall it, and some information was available on that card.

The cost of that card, as I recall, was about -- we were going to do it over five years -- $30 million a year for five years. So it's very expensive to do the cards, these health cards, and you have to worry as well about privacy, who has access to them, because it's done through the driver's licence, at least the present plan was.

I remember Jim Wilson doing this himself. Actually, this came from the Mike Harris forum on health care: "We will replace Ontario's outdated health information system with a modern smart system. The government's own studies estimate the cost of health card fraud at $700 million a year." I don't ever recall seeing a government study of that, but that's being quoted by the Tories.

Mr Tony Clement (Brampton South): Peat Marwick.

Mr Laughren: Peat Marwick? I think you're right.

What Jim Wilson then said was -- and this is a good quote, I think: "A Mike Harris government will scrap the NDP's new, dumb photo health card and replace it with a smart information system." So here we have the Minister of Health -- fine, he doesn't have to like our card system; I'm not saying that he has to. But he's saying it's costing -- and he used this in the Legislature day after day -- $700 million a year to the taxpayers for the fraud on these cards. So we introduced a new card, and when he becomes the Minister of Health what does he do? He cancels that card, which at least was going some way -- I don't know if it's the ultimate card or not. I know that at $30 million a year you hope you're getting something for your money. He says, "No, no, we're going to bring in a smarter card because your card's a dumb card."

I have to tell you, at $700 million a year, by his estimates, it's costing the Ontario taxpayers $58 million a month on fraud while he dawdles about what kind of card system to bring in -- $58 million a month. I thought you people were concerned about waste in government. Here you are saying: "It's $700 million. But that's okay. We're not ready to introduce our card yet. All in the fullness of time."

You can't have it both ways, folks. Either it's costing the taxpayers of this province $700 million or it's not. If it's not, then the Minister of Health was blowing smoke out both his ears when he was using that number. If it is costing $700 million a year, why is he just sitting there spinning his wheels and allowing that waste to continue? There have to be some answers on the health card. I can tell you, it makes no sense to leave it the way it is.

Another commitment was on mental health reform. This is what Mr Harris said:

"Through public consultation, the Harris government will identify a priority list of services for reinvestment of the provincial share of the savings which can clearly be generated. These priorities would include mental health." Oh, really? No kidding. Mental health? Where are the initiatives? Where are the priorities? Nothing. Absolutely nothing.


Mr Rosario Marchese (Fort York): They're coming.

Mr Laughren: Well, if they're coming, they're coming pretty slowly.

Another commitment had to do with a health care bill of rights, and this what they said about that, this is what they're going to provide: a bill of rights that would include the right to proper access to insured services, the right to high-quality, timely care, the right to appropriate care in one's own community, the right to health coverage at Ontario rates while travelling outside the province -- that you've delivered on for the people who can afford to go to Florida for the winter. Cut everybody else, but make sure that your dear friends who can go to Florida every winter, make sure that that's reinstated for those darlings. That's exactly what you've done. If you're not embarrassed, you should be.

Another thing that was promised --


Mr Laughren: You'll pay for that by charging a user fee for drugs. That's how you're going to pay for it.

This is part of the bill of rights: the right to be informed about treatment options, the right to participate in decision-making regarding one's own health, the right to treatment free of discrimination -- can you imagine this government talking about freedom from discrimination? -- and which recognizes one's privacy, dignity and individuality.

Well, we haven't seen the health care bill of rights yet. Anything we've seen on some of those items, though, causes a great deal of alarm.

The other issue that bothers me -- and I hope you'll allow me, as you allowed my colleague from St Catharines, to be a little bit parochial here -- had to do with denominational hospitals. Jim Wilson said to the Catholic Health Association of Ontario on Friday, September 29, of this year:

"What I will tell you is that the commitment I made to you in 1994, which was reiterated by the Premier last April, stands firm. We will respect and continue to support Catholic and denominational-governed structures and their missions in Ontario." Fine. He made that statement.

Let me tell you what's happened in my community, where hospital restructuring is going on and the district health council, through its committee, the --

Ms Shelley Martel (Sudbury East): Hospital review.

Mr Laughren: The restructuring committee, anyway, made a presentation to the district health council, who then endorsed it and forwarded it to the Minister of Health some time ago now. In their recommendation was that there be a sole governance in Sudbury. I support that 100%. There would be two hospitals, one of which is a Catholic hospital operated by the Sisters of St Joseph. The other is a non-denominational hospital. Both good hospitals, and a third hospital was to be closed.

The hospital that was to be closed and the supporters for that hospital were obviously very concerned and unhappy, but in the interests of a better health care system for the community they went along with that, somewhat reluctantly, but they agreed to it. Guess what happened next. The Sisters of St Joseph, who run the Catholic hospital, won't be part of a sole governance model, and they're now quoting the Minister of Health for things that he said to them in writing as to why they don't have to comply with a sole governance model any more.

I want to tell you, I don't believe we have the luxury any more in this province for hospitals to be run that way. There was a time, of course, when the Catholic system did a lot of good things in the hospital system because governments weren't doing it. I acknowledge that. I'm not mad at the Catholic system.

But I want to tell you that I think the day has gone when we have the luxury of allowing that to dictate the kind of hospital restructuring that goes on, because if we don't have sole governance to end the turf wars that have gone on in hospitals in various communities across this province, we're not going to achieve the savings.

We're going to have some savings, of course, but the hospitals will be starved by lack of funding, and since there's going to be less funding, I believe -- maybe I'm wrong, because Mike Harris says: "No, no. No cuts to hospitals." Anyway, I don't believe him, and if that's the case, they'd better get all the local savings they can through restructuring.

I think that is completely logical. I don't think there's anything irrational about that. The community supports sole governance, 75% support.

I can tell you that unless the minister moves in right smart and accepts that recommendation from the district health council, in my view it's just going to get messier and messier and messier. I think it can be avoided, but it's going to need some action on the part of the minister, because if we let it go, it's just going to get very, very cluttered up there.

I must say that it's fascinating to be a critic for health care at this time and it must be really a pleasure to be the Minister of Health knowing there's not going to be any cuts in your ministry. Everybody else is going to be out there flailing away trying to survive, trying to justify to their stakeholders and constituents that what is being done is necessary, but the Minister of Health doesn't have a worry in the world: No cuts to health care. Again and again and again and again: No cuts to health care.

Other people are very nervous about the announcement by the Minister of Finance on November 29. Not me. I'm not worried, and nobody out there in the health care field should be worried, because that is as firm a promise as it's possible to make. I've quoted you, chapter and verse, how Mike Harris and Jim Wilson will not allow any cuts to the health care system.

Don't give me this nonsense, the dishonest argument that by 1999, when your first term is up, it will be $17.4 billion again. How stupid do you think people are? That's a dishonest argument. Let me give an example. What would stop you from cutting the health care budget to -- let me pick a number out of the air -- $15 billion from $17.4 billion for the next three years, and then in the final year, as you go to the polls, saying, "This year we're going to spend $17.4 and we've got the budget number up to where it was when we formed the government, at $17.4 billion"?

Nobody is going to believe that hogwash. When you start making cuts to health care, it will be a signal to the people out there that all those promises are for naught, and you will not be trusted on anything else.

That's why I say to people in the health care field: "Relax. Don't worry. You can't have that many promises and break them all and still have the person who made them stay in office. It's not possible." I think it would bring shame upon this whole assembly if that were to happen.

I want the Tory backbenchers to relax. You may not have seen the announcement that's coming on the 29th. If I were the minister, I wouldn't show you yet. Cuts are coming, but I don't think you should worry about the health care part. Worry about the municipal transfers -- they'll get cut -- and worry about the universities and the school boards, but don't worry about the hospitals. Don't worry, they cannot be cut. They're inviolate. They can't be cut.

I think you should all relax about that and go home and tell your constituents in a newsletter, go on a local talk show or radio or TV interview and say: "I am telling you there will be no cuts, because here it is in the Common Sense Revolution, `There will be no cuts to health care.' You can worry about other things, but don't worry about health care. There will be no cuts."

I think you should tell them that. Don't be shy. Don't wait till you see it; that's not necessary. You don't need to see it. The Premier is as good as his word. Don't wait to see the announcement. Forget it. You don't need that assurance. You've already had that assurance. He wouldn't lie to his own caucus. So don't worry about it.

There's a lot of nervous people out there, so if I were you I'd be getting my message out ahead of time, and then you can say: "See, I told you so. I told you there'd be no cuts to health care or transfers to hospitals." You can say that, you can say: "See, I'm a government backbencher. I'm on the inside. I knew there'd be no cuts to hospital transfers."

I don't think you've got a problem in the world. I think you should be talking to your municipalities about what to expect, and I think you should be talking to your local school boards. That's where property taxes come into the equation, of course, because property taxes are going to go up, and if you think that they're not going to blame you, you've got another story to tell.


Mr Douglas B. Ford (Etobicoke-Humber): There's only one taxpayer.

Mr Laughren: Yes, there's only one taxpayer, that's absolutely right, and you're giving a great big break to the well-heeled taxpayers in this province. That's what you're doing. That's what it's all about. You're right, there's only one taxpayer, but there's sure a hell of a difference in the amount of money they earn and the taxes they pay. You know that, my friend. I think that's right.

And I'm glad you said that, because you know what else I think the Tory backbenchers should do? I'd think you would appreciate advice coming from this side. You don't want to hear advice only from your own side all the time. I mean, I get advice from you and I listen to it very carefully.

I think the other thing you should do is your constituents that this tax cut is for their own good. You tell them, "This tax cut is for your own good, and if people with a lot of money get a bigger tax cut than you do, don't worry about it, because there is the trickle-down theory and until you've been trickled on, you don't really know how good it feels."

I think you have to tell your constituents not to worry that the people earning $70,000, $100,000, $200,000 a year are going to get a much bigger tax cut than they are. Tell them to relax, that it's for their own good that they now have user fees in the health care system. You've got to convince them of that.


Mr Laughren: All I'm suggesting is that you get out there early. Don't leave it too long. Get out there ahead of the pack and start telling your constituents, because your constituents are worried too.


Mr Laughren: I need your help, Mr Speaker. I'm trying to be as non-provocative as possible.

The Deputy Speaker: Order.

Mr Laughren: Last week there was a poll done in the province that showed the Tories at a very high level of support in the province, 58%, I believe. Just to put a sobering thought on it --

Mr Shea: How was yours, Floyd?

Mr Laughren: Very low. Let me finish now.

Mr Shea: And why was that?

Mr Laughren: Would you let me finish my sentence here? At the same point in our government, five years ago -- and I don't say this for one-upmanship -- we were over 60% in the polls. So I just put that in perspective. That's why I think you should be taking advantage of this high level of support you've got now. Get out there fast and reinforce your commitment to no cuts in health care. Get out there fast and keep that level of support up there, because it will start to slip away on you.

Secondly, reinforce the tax cut. Get out there and tell people not to be selfish. Tell people earning $40,000 a year that they shouldn't be jealous of somebody earning $200,000 a year who gets many times the tax break they do. Tell them not to be so selfish. Tell them to get the big picture. They've got to see the big picture. I think there's lots that you should be proud of over there. You should be out there talking about it, though.

I'll conclude my remarks --

Mr Ford: Bring everybody down in the province.


Mr Laughren: This gentleman is a wonderful interjector over here. What riding? Who sits behind you there, Charles? I've got to zero in on this person. The member for Durham Centre is making some wonderful interjections. I had every intention of sitting down until those interjections started. The member for Durham Centre says that the NDP would make everybody poor and that the Tories wouldn't do that. I agree with him that the Tories don't do that. The Tories make the poor poorer and they make the rich richer.

It brings to mind an expression that was used in the United States which I think is most apropos.


Mr Laughren: I've got a quote for you here. Now don't get wrangy.

A Democrat in the States a number of years ago decided he was going to "declare war on poverty." It didn't solve much. I've often thought of that and I've often thought, what would happen if the Tory Party in Ontario declared war on poverty? Do you know what they'd do? They'd throw stones at beggars. That's how they'd declare war on poverty. I am telling you, it's not just that you're cutting benefits for the lowest-income people in the province; it's what you're doing with that money.

If you people didn't have your commitment on the tax cut, you could make a lot of valid arguments for cutting spending by government. I endorse that. I'm telling you I agree with that. Where you lose it all is that you're doing the cuts in order to provide tax cuts to your well-heeled friends. That's where you lose any legitimacy, my friends. That's where you lose it.

If you weren't doing the tax cut, you would be a lot more legitimate in the eyes of a lot of people, but because of the tax cut, people will start to realize that all of this agony that's going to occur out there is simply to provide tax cuts to well-heeled people in the province.

Interjection: The middle class is not wealthy.

Mr Laughren: No, the middle class is not wealthy, and if I can find the page in here where you've got -- well, by golly, it just opened up at the page. This is the tax saving, so you tell me: The taxpayer income of $25,000 a year would have a total saving over the three years -- because this is a three-year phase-in of the tax cut, right? -- 15%, 7.5% and 7.5%, for a 30% total tax cut. So at the end of three years, if you earn $25,000 a year your total tax saving is $1,900, rounding off. If you're earning $50,000 your tax cut is $4,000 over the three years. If you earn $75,000 your tax cut is almost $7,000.

Let me ask you this question --


Mr Laughren: No, no, don't heckle, don't heckle. Let me ask you this very serious question: Who do you think needs a tax cut of $7,000 more, somebody who earns $70,000 a year or someone who earns $25,000 a year? This chart doesn't even include $100,000, $200,000, $300,000. It doesn't even include those numbers.

If this is your idea of fairness in the tax system, lots of luck trying to sell that. When people realize what they have to give up to get that tax cut, I want to tell you they're not going to be as happy as they are today.

Mr Ford: Did you make everybody happy, Floyd?

Mr Laughren: I just finished congratulating you for being at 58% in the polls, so don't get ugly with me. I'm trying to be nice to you and congratulate you on being so high in the polls.

I should wrap up my remarks. I just wanted to offer some gratuitous advice, if you will, to the Tories not to be bashful about continuing to sell the Common Sense Revolution. It's worked for you very well. You won the election big-time and you're at 58% in the polls still. I've been in politics a long time and I know how fleeting polls are too.

All I can say is that I think you have got to hang tough on those promises about health care. Hang tough on that. Just don't let them waver; don't let them introduce user fees; don't let them cut budgets to hospitals, because at that point it all starts to slip away on you, and that would be too bad, especially for the new members. Especially the new members, who are going to have to look after their own pension needs.


Mr Laughren: All right, all right. I'd better leave that one alone. I'll leave that one alone.

In conclusion, I've enjoyed taking part in this debate this afternoon. I must say, and I mean this, that I enjoyed the lively participation by the government members as well. That's a healthy process around here. I can assure you that we are as anxious as you are to make sure that the government has the dollars to spend on the necessary services that are offered in the province.


The Deputy Speaker: Questions or comments?

Hon Mr Harnick: When I hear the former Treasurer making predictions about what's going to happen and what's going to work, I really feel good, because what he says is not going to work I know is going to work, because everything he used to say was "spot on" was always wrong. Every prediction the former Treasurer made was wrong, so when he says a tax cut isn't going to stimulate the economy and create real jobs in this province, I know he's wrong.

It was very interesting. As I listened to the member talking about the historic aspects of his role in government, I notice that he started in 1993 and started to talk about Ontario drug benefit plan cuts and cuts to health care. He was very proud of the fact that he was reining in government in 1993. What he doesn't tell us is how we got into the position we're in now with a $100-billion debt and deficits that have been $10 billion.

That's because he doesn't start at 1991 when he made the decision to spend his way out of a recession. That's why this province is where it is today. He decided he was going to spend money he didn't have, and now we, the taxpayers of the province, are saddled with the debt he created. It's very interesting that he doesn't start to talk about his role in government until 1993. He has a bit of a memory lapse.

We watched his government tax and spend and tax and spend, and the debts got bigger and the jobs got fewer. Now we're taking a different approach. We're going to cut spending and we're going to put more money in people's pockets by taxing so that we can be competitive and so we can create jobs. The best way to create tax revenue is to have more taxpayers, and that's what this government is doing.

Mr Gerry Phillips (Scarborough-Agincourt): I wanted to comment on the member for Nickel Belt's remarks about health care, because I think they are timely. I've been interested, in the Legislature, that the health care promises seem to have been made a year before the election, and now the government is trying to say, "Take our year-before promises into account, not the one we made during the election." But I think the people of Ontario will hold them accountable for one they made during the election, the Common Sense Revolution, published during the election.

I can remember press conferences held during the election. It was called the post-Martin budget Common Sense Revolution. It was very clear in the Common Sense Revolution that everything had been taken into account. Here's what the government says: "Total non-priority spending will be reduced by 20% in three years, without touching a penny of health care" spending. It is clear that you have made and have to honour that commitment, not for something a year before with this famous envelope you're going to seal at $17.4 billion. You, during the campaign, said you would not touch a penny of health care, and you're going to be held accountable for that. We lost the election, the NDP lost the election, and you won it on that solemn promise.

There's another one the member for Nickel Belt points out, and I think it's very important: "Under this plan, there will be no new user fees," including copayments. You specifically excluded copayments in your Common Sense Revolution. That's how you got elected; it's right there. You specifically excluded copayments, and you can't weasel around now and saying, "Oh, we didn't mean copayments." You did mean copayments and you're going to be held accountable.

Mr Bud Wildman (Algoma): I just wanted to rise to congratulate my friend the member for Nickel Belt on his presentation, in particular his advice to the backbenchers who support the government benches on the other side and the rump over here.

I really do think it's important that the backbenchers listen to the comments of my friend, because I think he was advising them to talk to their constituents and tell them that they don't have to fear health care cuts, to really emphasize that. As he pointed out very clearly, on page 7 of the No Sense Retribution document it says, "We will not cut health care spending," in bold print, and then in italics, "It is far too important." On the previous page, it says, "Under this plan, there will be no new user fees," and "no" is in capital letters.

That should really allay all the fears of people who have been perhaps listening to the media, reading the newspapers and who have heard or read apocryphal reports that this government might in fact be bringing in user fees for the drug benefit plan for the elderly.

I'm sure this will help to assure people and continue to ensure that the government has long-term support, and that people have nothing to fear from the statement that is going to be made very soon by the Minister of Finance in this House.

I hope the backbenchers will take very seriously the advice of the long-standing member for Nickel Belt and that there will be no cuts in health.

Mr Gary Carr (Oakville South): I wasn't going to speak because the member from Scarborough's mom and dad are here, the former member of Parliament, and I didn't want to take too much time; they're expecting their son to speak. But I did want to comment on just one quick thing.

I don't mean to be unkind to the former Minister of Finance, although in the past I guess there were occasions to do that. This is the same person who, when he was on that side of the House, stood up and said, "We had a decision to make, and we decided to fight the recession, not the deficit," and all the backbenchers you talk about rose up in a standing ovation.

You took us from $45 billion to $100 billion in debt. Some $1 million an hour, I say to the member, is what we spend, not for the good roads, not for the health care system, not for the education system, but $1 million an hour just to pay the interest on the provincial debt. When that government took office, 9% of our revenue went to pay the interest on the debt and now it's up to 18% It doubled in five years.

This member talks about the taxes. This is the same member who introduced a surtax on people making $50,000. They were the people who thought they were average. Not only do they have the highest tax, but they were the rich and famous in the province of Ontario. Who were they? The average worker in my riding who works at the Ford Motor Co and who used to support the NDP. You put a massive surtax on them. We're the highest-taxed province in Canada, the highest-taxed jurisdiction in all of North America, and you stand here and talk about the tax rates.

We are taking the tough choices that weren't made. When I see what was done to this province over the last few years, I say it's a good job we got a change of government. We're going to restore hope, opportunity and prosperity because you didn't have the political courage to do it.

The Speaker: The member for Nickel Belt has two minutes.


Mr Laughren: I appreciate most of the comments that were made. I must respond, first of all, to my friend from Oakville, who forgot to mention that his government is going to give a $4-billion or $5-billion or $6-billion tax cut with borrowed money. Here you are borrowing money to give a tax cut to well-off people. So don't give me a lecture on what borrowed money's for. That's exactly what you're doing.

I used to keep a list when I was sitting over there of all the Tories who demanded more government spending in their ridings, and it was a very substantial list. Day after day they'd be demanding this, they'd be demanding that. At the same time, of course, they were saying the government should spend a lot less money.

I wanted to respond to my friend the Attorney General, who didn't reply in kind to my kind remarks about him. But that's okay, that's the nature of the beast here. I did want to say to him, and perhaps he wasn't listening -- I didn't expect him to hang on every word, but I did mention our very high spending in the first budget and even the second one, because in the first one there was virtually no time to get it reined in -- at least that's my position -- and then after that we did.

When we said we were going to fight the recession, that was a $700-million package. You can argue that we shouldn't have spent that $700 million, but I don't think it should be blown out of proportion that our determination to fight the recession was what caused the high deficits. We had the worse recession in this province since the 1930s, and that surely had something to do with it.

The Speaker: Is there any further debate?

Mr Steve Gilchrist (Scarborough East): In the limited time available to me today, it gives me great pleasure to rise in this House to make a few comments about the interim supply motion and also to speak to the perspective which the voters of Scarborough East have given me as I embark on a new career very different from the one I've enjoyed in the last 25 years.

Though I've had the opportunity to make a few comments in this chamber throughout the session, this is my first formal opportunity to speak, and I'd be remiss in not congratulating all my colleagues and all of my colleagues opposite, as well as the new Speaker, for their respective elections.

The stewardship of the affairs of this great province is an awesome responsibility and I'm certain that all members of this House share my commitment to being an open and accessible representative for the residents of my riding and a champion for their views and aspirations. At the same time, I understand that the affairs in this House are very much a team effort, and in the Legislature and in committee I pledge to work in a responsible and cooperative manner with all members to ensure that we deliver the necessary legislative decisions in a timely and professional manner.

The riding of Scarborough East is, for a variety of reasons, a fascinating part of this province to represent. It's blessed with a wide variety of housing styles, a diverse assortment of commercial and retail businesses, and perhaps most importantly, it is beset with a wide variety of social issues which have, some would say significantly, impacted and continue to affect all residents of the riding.

Though Toronto-born, I was a newcomer to Scarborough East when I moved there 20 years ago to take on the managership of the local Canadian Tire store. What attracted me to the riding was that in a very real sense the eastern end of the riding was almost rural in its perspective: the low housing density, the vast amounts of parkland and the strong sense of community with which it's blessed. In the western end of the riding, on the other hand, the government of the day had erected the largest density of subsidized housing in the province, a fact which persists today and which has been the root cause of many of the servicing challenges which have faced both the provincial and municipal representatives for this area.

Scarborough East has managed to retain much of its unique character over those 20 years, largely as a result of the extraordinary efforts of committed volunteers in the local community associations: the Guildwood, the Rouge, the Centennial, the Old Lansing and the Highland Creek, to name a few. They've demonstrated exactly the kind of volunteer spirit that our government alluded to in the throne speech. They've worked without government funding to foster the sense of neighbourliness for which the riding is famous. They've also served as the conscience of the elected representatives.

On many issues affecting the riding, it is they who have organized the town hall meeting, who have done the fund-raising to afford the consultants, attended the OMB hearings, and generally let it be known that the residents of Scarborough East didn't believe that involvement in their community and involvement in their government was just a 10-minute task at election time, but a full-time commitment that all residents should share.

I think of individuals such as William Dempsey, the honorary president of the Centennial Community and Recreation Association, who has been, for the 49 years he's been a resident of the area, a tireless champion for environmental, cultural, historical and planning causes, and who earlier this month was the worthy recipient of this year's Scarborough Civic Award of Merit. It is people like Bill Dempsey who have set an example of public service that all elected officials would be wise to follow.

The riding has been ably represented by members of all three parties, but of particular note is the Honourable Margaret Birch, a distinguished lady who was a superb champion of a variety of local issues, most notably seniors' services and health care. It is a fitting tribute to this exemplary member that the last expansion of our local hospital, Centenary Health Centre, was named the Margaret Birch Wing.

I must also include my father, Gord Gilchrist, a former federal MP -- and who is in attendance in the gallery here today along with my mother, Pat -- high on the list of accomplished elected officials from whom I have drawn --

Interjection: He's better looking.

Mr Gilchrist: He's better looking; you're right.

-- the lessons of service, integrity and the need to lead by example. He treated the job of MP as a seven-day-a-week, 52-week-a-year job, and yet found time to continue to serve the community in a variety of other ways, particularly as a Rotarian and a benefactor to a number of worthy causes, including science scholarships at all of the local high schools and at the Scarborough campus of the U of T.

He was also the most outspoken champion of science and technology issues during his term of office, and his campaign to have Canada at the forefront of industrial innovation not only raised the profile of high tech on the agendas of the various ministers of the crown but led to tangible results, including the seminal report on the future of hydrogen technology in Canada.

I can only hope that in the eyes of the people who have placed their trust in me, I am seen to provide the same sense of dedication and commitment as my father and Margaret Birch and that I can repay the trust of the voters with honesty, enthusiasm and a genuine desire to make this province once again the most envied jurisdiction in the world.

In preparing for this address, I thought it most appropriate that I would be speaking to a bill dealing with the funding of government operations, for in one way or another the creation and the maintenance of government programs and the search for the proper method to fund them is at the heart of the decision every member in this Legislature made to run for this office.

If anything drove me to give up a successful career in the private sector, it was the profligacy, the wastefulness, the complete lack of fiscal responsibility that had been the hallmark of this province for the last 10 years.

That last decade saw government spending double, the size of the bureaucracy balloon out of all proportions, taxpayers hit with 65 tax increases, including four to income tax.

But did all this largess result in a better Ontario, a safer, more prosperous province? Just the opposite. We saw the percentage of Ontarians on welfare almost triple, from 4.3% to 12.1% of the population. We've seen the number of children on welfare increase to the point we now have more children than we had total welfare recipients just five years ago. Is that the legacy of a caring government?

We saw corporate and personal bankruptcies skyrocket, largely as a result of the increased tax load, but also as a result of the crushing new regulatory changes that in the case of some industries, such as private day care, the social engineering of the previous government literally drove entrepreneurs right out of the business.

And of course we saw deficits, every year for five years, that exceeded $10 billion and which reduced -- no, which eliminated -- the capacity of this province to deal with the financial requirements of an increasingly technological world and an aging population.

Those annual deficits, which every single year added a debt load equal to one third of the total debt that this province had accumulated in the first 118 years of its history, every one of those debts destroyed our ability to deal with infrastructure development or expanded access to health care or innovative apprenticeship programs and other educational improvements. The dollars were wasted on social engineering experiments, on expanding the bureaucracy and on a myriad of other projects that far too often appeared to be motivated by a belief in empire-building rather than in productivity and common sense.

Members opposite and many people outside of this chamber have accused this government of a multitude of sins. I will wrap up quickly. The bottom line is, we should be judged by the actions we have taken, actions which have already trimmed $1.9 billion off the deficit, actions which will move to bring a balanced budget in this province again by 1999, restore the trust of the world, restore the trust of the people in this province that this is a place they can make an investment, earn a profit and derive a good living.

The Speaker: It being 6 of the clock, this House stands adjourned until 1:30 of the clock tomorrow.

The House adjourned at 1801.


The Speaker (Hon Allan K. McLean): Good evening, ladies and gentlemen, special guests, members of the Legislative Assembly. I'm Allan McLean, Speaker of the Legislative Assembly. It is a pleasure to welcome all of you here this evening as we honour David Warner, the former Speaker of this Legislative Assembly.

Special thanks go to the representatives of the three parties for making time in their always-busy schedules to join us this evening on this very special occasion. We were all members of the 35th Parliament which elected David as Speaker, in the first vote by secret ballot, and we all followed the rules during his five-year term.

I would also at this time like to recognize David's family who are here for this special event: his mother, Margaret; his wife, Pat; and daughters Sherri and Barbara. They have joined us for this unveiling ceremony. The support of one's family is very important in this job, and I am sure David's family has been very supportive as well as very proud.

David Warner was elected to the provincial Parliament for the riding of Scarborough-Ellesmere in Metropolitan Toronto, and he was there for four terms. He was first elected in 1975 and re-elected in 1977, 1985 and 1990. At the beginning of the 35th Parliament, he became the first Speaker to be elected by a secret ballot of members. As Chairman of the Board of Internal Economy, Mr Warner was responsible for the fiscal management of the Ontario Legislature and the provision of services to members.

During David's term as Speaker, he served as co-chair of the special committee on the parliamentary precinct, established by the Ontario Legislature to develop and supervise a restoration and renovation program for the Legislative Building here at Queen's Park. He presided over the 1993 celebration of the centennial of the Legislative Building.

During his earlier terms at Queen's Park, Mr Warner served as chief caucus whip for the New Democrats, was critic for several ministries, including Attorney General, and served on the select committee on health care costs in 1979 and on the standing committee on the Legislative Assembly from 1985 to 1987.

By profession, Mr Warner is a teacher with the Scarborough Board of Education. He is particularly interested in international politics and took part in a fact-finding mission to Nicaragua in 1987. His interest in global education took him to India in the summer of 1990 as part of a Canadian team, Project Overseas.

Before I turn to the platform guests and others, I would like to give you a little background on the artist who painted Speaker Warner's portrait.

Born in Hungary in 1942, Istvan Nyikos has lived in Canada since 1969. He started painting while studying literature and philosophy at the University of Toronto. Shortly after graduating with a bachelor of arts degree in 1973, he enrolled at the Ontario College of Art and studied painting in Toronto and Florence, Italy.

After graduation, he received a grant from the Greenshields Foundation to travel and study art in Europe and subsequently spent the next six years painting commissioned portraits in England, Germany and Spain.

Since returning to Canada permanently in 1983, he has been painting portraits here and in the United States. Other commissioned portraits include those of former Speaker Hugh Edighoffer and former Premier William Davis.

Now I would like to invite representatives of the three caucuses -- Mr Gerry Phillips, MPP for Scarborough-Agincourt; Mr Floyd Laughren, MPP for Nickel Belt; and Mr Ted Arnott, MPP for Wellington -- to help unveil the portrait.

The portrait was unveiled.

The Speaker: I would like at this time to turn the platform over to Mr Ted Arnott to bring greetings on behalf of the Premier and the government.

Mr Ted Arnott (Wellington): Thank you very much, Mr Speaker. Good evening, ladies and gentlemen. Let me just say what an honour it is -- and a short-notice honour, I must also add -- to be able to participate in this occasion this evening.

I have known David Warner now for five years and I've known him as a friend. I think I can say that, David, with your concurrence, I hope. He was the Speaker when I was first elected and he certainly opened the door to me in a lot of ways.

The job of Speaker, as we know, is at times a very, very difficult one, and David at all times performed that job with dignity, with respect for all the members and in a very fair and even-handed way.

David, I just want to say, on behalf of the government caucus, we thank you for your contribution to public life. Who knows, you may be back here again at some future date -- and I hope you are. Please accept our best wishes for success in future years.

The Speaker: Thank you very much, Ted. I would now like to call upon the Scarborough-Agincourt member of provincial Parliament, Gerry Phillips, representing the leader of Her Majesty's loyal opposition, Lyn McLeod, to speak.

Mr Gerry Phillips (Scarborough-Agincourt): Mr Speaker and David and Pat, I really appreciate the chance to represent our caucus, the Liberal caucus. I'm sure, Ted, that Marilyn Mushinski took a deep breath when you said you were looking forward to David coming back. Marilyn won that riding. In politics, we come and we go, as they say.

I may have known David longer than most people here, other than mother. I've known him longer than the daughters, I think. He and I come from the same area in Scarborough, and he's been a well-known and well-respected teacher in schools that our kids have gone to. Pat is an equally well-known teacher. So I've known him in that respect. We go to the same barber too, I think, don't we, Dave? Yours looks a little better than mine.

I must declare a conflict here, because David and Pat are constituents of mine. I keep working and working, hoping maybe some day I might be able to get their votes too. I have a bit of a conflict here, but I'm pleased to represent our caucus, and many of our members are here as well. I see Monte Kwinter and Gilles Morin, and there are others who I probably don't see out there right now.

David, you really earned the respect of everyone here as Speaker. I think the fact that you were the first elected Speaker speaks volumes, but also you were someone who wasn't afraid to innovate. You changed the office of the Speaker. You certainly handled all three parties well. Being Speaker is not an easy job, because you cannot command respect; you have to earn it. David worked very hard to earn respect here in the Legislature. I think all three caucuses appreciated his balance and evenhandedness.

I also admired, David, the work you did on international affairs as well. An awful lot of visitors from around the world come here to Ontario, and one of the things that David in his role as Speaker did I thought an exceptional job on was to make those delegations feel welcome, to feel at home and to feel that this is a province where they can come and feel welcome and do business with.

It's a real honour for me to have a chance to represent the Liberal caucus to say how much we appreciate what you've done here, David. I might also add that I'm really thrilled with the artist's rendition. I think, David, you should be very pleased with the fine work. I'm pleased to be here at the unveiling and to wish you and Pat and the family all the very, very best.

The Speaker: Thank you, Gerry. I would now like to ask the member for Nickel Belt, Floyd Laughren, representing the leader of the New Democratic Party, Mr Bob Rae, to come forward.

Mr Floyd Laughren (Nickel Belt): Mr Speaker, ladies and gentlemen, David, Pat and family, I am really happy to be here at this occasion. This is too much of an in-joke, I suppose, but David and I go all the way back to debates on the Magna Carta. He fell back on the Magna Carta to try and make some points when I think he was the critic for the Attorney General, as I recall, and it was a remarkable number of days in the Legislature.

I am impressed with the portrait. I wanted to ask the artist how hard it is to paint pictures bigger than life. I can say that and get away with it. I have a right to say that. David may be mad at me for saying this, but I'm going to say it anyway. I remember when David became the Speaker. His predecessor, I think, was Hugh Edighoffer, who was about six foot 13 or something -- he was too tall, anyway. When David was taking over the chair, about two or three inches were sawed off the bottom of the legs of the Speaker's chair. I'm wondering whether that couldn't be done to the picture as well. Maybe it was originally longer than that. I'm not at all sure.

David served the Legislature extremely well. He gets elected every second term. Because of that, in the interest of austerity, he gets a termination allowance every time he's defeated. So he's paying for his own portrait today.

I remember in my previous role that David oversaw the restoration of the outside of the building, which was really critically important to do. I mean, the place was crumbling. I'm very pleased that went on. I have to confess that there were moments when I had heartburn as those bills were coming in for the exterior restoration. But it really did have to be done, and I'm really pleased that David oversaw that. It is, I guess, almost done now, and it's an important project for the people of this province.

I am very happy to represent New Democrats here this evening and to wish you all the very best. I'd like to do one thing more than shake your hand; I'd like to give Pat a hug.

The Speaker: Thank you very much, Floyd. Now, I'd like to turn it over to the special individual here tonight, former Speaker David Warner.

Mr David Warner: Mr Speaker, honourable members, ladies and gentlemen: Order! I wanted to try that just one more time. First, of course, I want to thank my family for being here and sharing this wonderful moment with me. My mom is here. My brother lives in the Yukon, so he isn't able to be here. My sister, Marilyn, is here, and my daughters, Sherri and Barbara, and a lot of friends and a lot of former colleagues who I worked with.

I notice that Eileen Chalk is here, and Lorna Prokaska and the staff who helped me as a member -- Linda, Francine, Irene, Bruna and Hratch -- and of course the staff who helped me as Speaker -- Gayle, Elaine, Judy, Heather, Lina and Gloria -- are all here.

Our senior staff who really ensure that this place functions day by day by day are here; that of course is headed by the Clerk, ably assisted by the other executive members who are here this evening: Mary, Barbara and Bill. I know that a couple of the commissioners are here, and again I had the great pleasure and privilege of working with the commissioners. I see the Ombudsman is here, and the chief electoral officer, with whom I have a slight disagreement about how we count ballots in certain ridings -- but anyway. The provincial auditor, Erik Peters, is here and the Freedom of Information and Privacy Commissioner is here.

I don't mean by any means to leave anyone out. Suffice it to say that as I'd list the friends and the family, I hope you will get the picture that it is impossible to do alone any job which has a great deal of responsibility attached to it, and this job is no exception. I appreciate the very kind remarks that have been made by my former colleagues from all three parties, but I can tell you that it would not have been possible to do the job and to appear evenhanded and fair and judicious if it weren't for the goodwill of the members of the assembly in wanting to make this assembly function properly.

It was a great joy for me to have the responsibility and the privilege and the opportunity to share some vision, whether it was about restoring the most important building in the province, our assembly, or whether it was reaching out to fledgling democracies in Cambodia, Latvia or Cuba or trying to develop a friendship agreement with a province in China, which we were able to do.

Closer to home, one of the projects that overall is probably closest to my heart, was developing a parliamentary association with Quebec. Through that association, our members and the members in Quebec had an opportunity, some for the first time, to learn a little bit about each other's province, each other's culture and background and try to set a firmer and gentler path between our two provinces.

I really do appreciate all those opportunities, but if it wasn't for the staff who were here supporting me, I couldn't have done the work, and I know that.

My family has supported me all the way through this smooth-path career that I've had over the past 25 years. From day one, Pat has always been enormously supportive of my career, through the ups and downs. When I lost in 1981, we had a discussion about my political future, and there was no doubt that Pat was going to be steadfastly supporting me as I attempted to gain my way back here. The same happened when I lost in 1987. Whether or not we will try this round again, I don't know. Based on the formula that's at work here, maybe all I have to do is put my name on a ballot; I don't know, but we'll see what happens.

In another vein, one of the things I learned from the job was that Ontario is an extremely important player not only in Canada and in the Commonwealth but in the world. It is amazing, when you meet with various people around the globe, how much respect they have for our province and how important we are in their eyes. I think the work with the Commonwealth is exceedingly important and helps to create a better world.

Our province was a contributor, along with other member states of the Commonwealth, in helping to ensure a smooth path to democracy for South Africa. Now that South Africa is moving along that path nicely, our attention should be focused on Nigeria. Again, our assembly has a role to play in that.

It will be surprising to those members who take up the opportunity to learn how much respect the members will have in other parts of the world when Ontario and the Ontario assembly speaks up on behalf of democracy. It's a challenge, and those challenges are something that I always enjoy.

I couldn't have done the job of Speaker if it hadn't been for those who also occupied the chair. In the early days, from the New Democratic Party, I had Karen Haslam serving as one of the chair occupants, then Mike Farnan, Dennis Drainville and finally Margaret Harrington, all of them doing an outstanding job in trying to make sure that the business of the House flowed smoothly and that, regardless of who was sitting in the chair, the same decision would be coming.

Then there was Noble Villeneuve, who is not able to join us this evening. He is now the Minister of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs. Noble and I, through working together for the five years -- he was Second Deputy Chair -- and always meeting every Wednesday morning, along with Gilles Morin, became friends.

The friendship that developed between Noble, myself and Gilles I think put to rest some of the qualms that people might have about how rigid politics has to be. You realize that there isn't a corner on wisdom, that other people can have good ideas, and no matter if you have some differences, if you focus on the good ideas, if you focus on the things you have in common, those differences seem really small. You always seek for the good things that you can put together, that you have in common.

Through our experience, I know that not only did we do a job as a team but we grew to respect each other very deeply and we became friends. That for me is a lasting impression; it's the type of politics I like and it was the kind of experience I wanted to have. I was very fortunate to have that opportunity.

I want to take a moment to talk about Mr Nyikos. You know he's an extraordinary man: He made me look good, and that's not an easy task. I shared with him at the outset, never having had my portrait painted before, that I had no idea if this would be like a trip to the dentist. It turned out to be far more enjoyable than I thought. There was always a cup of hot, fresh coffee and a biscuit or two at his studio, and we could sit for a couple of hours and would chat about a whole range of things.

I learned a lot about this astonishing and marvellous man and his interesting background and came to respect him not only as an artist but as a person. The portrait that you've done, sir, is absolutely magnificent, and I thank you. I thank you very much for it.

Earlier this afternoon, I was surprised with a little gathering up in room 228. I thought I was going up to look at some new carpet or something, and it turns out there were about 100 of the staff there. They were kind enough to present me with some very memorable photos, nicely framed, memories that I have of this place. I shared with them, as I share with you, that this is a very special place. The staff here are very professional, very well schooled and trained in carrying out all their duties.

As I had the opportunity to visit various parliaments around the Commonwealth, I always came away feeling exceedingly proud of our staff. There isn't a better staff anywhere. Even though we are fewer in number than many parliaments, certainly per capita fewer than any parliament in Canada, I think we have the most efficient and effective staff you will find anywhere. I know at times I felt that I was overburdening them, that I was pushing too hard, but they always did everything that was asked and then much more. They made my job much easier. For that I will thank them and I will say that I will always miss them and I will miss this place. This place has meant a lot to me, and especially the last five years. It's been an important part of my life, and I will miss it.

In closing, I think if this five years has taught me anything, it has taught me that governments will come and go, always -- that's the nature of democracy -- but the strength of our democracy lies in our parliament. In the final analysis, it will be a parliament which solves the big problems. That's why we always support a parliamentary democracy.

I notice that my good friend Noble has arrived. May I say to you, Noble, that I want to thank you very much for helping me. If I achieved any success during the last five years, you helped to make it happen. You and I have been friends through it, and I thank you very much. I thank all of you for coming tonight and helping to share this very wonderful and happy occasion with me and with my family. Who knows? Maybe I'll be back.

The Speaker: Thank you very much, David. Due to the fact that Noble has arrived and he sat around the table with you on those Wednesday mornings, I would like the honourable minister to come forward and say a brief few words, please.

Hon Noble Villeneuve (Minister of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs, minister responsible for francophone affairs): Thank you, Mr Speaker. Mr Former Speaker, Pat, family, friends and colleagues, it was indeed an honour for me to have shared the Speaker's chair with my good friend David.

I knew David before he was Speaker. I don't know what went on here before, but I was in policy and priorities -- the former Treasurer would know all about that -- and the going is tough here and it took a lot longer to accomplish very little.

However, it's a situation where when I knew David -- and I was first elected in a by-election; it will be 12 years very shortly, on December 15 -- this little fellow from Scarborough-Ellesmere got under my skin real good. He knew how to do it. I was new. People who were there before knew David Warner. I said, "My goodness, this is a rough little guy."

Then he came back. He called it a sabbatical that he had. He went away and then he came back again. That's when I really got to know the true David Warner, a gentleman all the way. He always decided in favour of the legislators. His motto was, "It is your Parliament, and if indeed you want to misbehave, you will suffer the consequences." I appreciated that. The elected people came to appreciate that. There were days when it wasn't easy. There were days when David had to say, "Order." A couple of times at the beginning he said, "Whoa, whoa, whoa." I didn't know he was from a farming background, but that didn't work either.

We had to take a few recesses initially, and then David decided, "Well, it's your House, folks; you were elected up there, and if you want to use it that way, we'll weather the storm." And then we got to know that David would let us weather the storm, and if we accomplished nothing, as he would say, then so be it; it was our fault.

Mr Former Speaker, it has been an honour to have spent those Wednesday mornings with you; sometimes I was late getting there, as I was tonight, although it was not because I did not want to be with you. We solved some problems, we may have created a few, but all in all we were elected to serve the people and you have been an excellent public servant. Congratulations and thank you -- and we may see you back again.

The Speaker: I'd like to thank the platform party and I'd like to thank all the members, the former members, guests who have come this evening to this special event to recognize David Warner's tenure as Speaker.

The official portion of the evening has now concluded, and I invite everyone to join us at a special reception in the legislative dining room. I thank you one and all for coming. Good evening.