36th Parliament, 1st Session

L028 - Wed 22 Nov 1995 / Mer 22 Nov 1995
























































The House met at 1331.




Mr Mike Colle (Oakwood): Earlier today, a press conference was held to ask for immediate, concrete action to ensure truck safety on our highways without further delay and deferral to studies taking place.

The families of the victims of these tragic accidents caused by unsafe trucks were present, including the Worona family. Mr and Mrs Worona and the sisters of Angela Worona are here today in the gallery. This family, along with other families, has worked most diligently to ensure that this government take action to stop this plague on our highways.

Theresa Worona and her family have had to endure through this most difficult of times and have devoted countless hours to ensure that the loss of their loved one does not go in vain. Today, they presented a petition of over 30,000 signatures demanding that this government stop the plague of unsafe trucks on our highways.

It is imperative that this government act on the 31 recommendations of the coroner's jury and take immediate action to take unsafe trucks off our public highways. The coroner's inquest, the front-line OPP officers and the families of the victims are all in unanimous agreement that the existing fines are a joke and that the government cannot wait for six months or a year to act and implement significant increases to these fines for unsafe trucks.

Too many lives have been lost due to truck operators who do not comply with safety standards. The Minister of Transportation in this government must live up to the commitment he made to these families and to the citizens of the province.


Mr Rosario Marchese (Fort York): I'm standing to tell you a happy story, one that could not happen without government help. Last Wednesday evening, Mayor Barbara Hall and I had the pleasure of opening a new artists' live-work project in my riding.

A modest public investment of $50 a square foot has transformed an underutilized industrial building located on Queen Street West into housing for artists. This project will set the standard for industrial conversions for the foreseeable future. Its financial and aesthetic success has already triggered private investment in another building across the street for expensive loft apartments.

A local resident commented how wonderful it was to see lights in the window and to have new neighbours. Everyone there marvelled at the miracle of having a happy occasion to go to in these hard times. We met painters, sculptors, dancers and potters. Each person I spoke to told stories of their struggles to find accommodation in the downtown, where they need to be.

Whatever the private market may be able to do, it has never been able to deliver decent housing that artists can afford. Illegal loft living often ends in midnight evictions, and when the city legalizes lofts, artists end up priced out of the market.

Susan Wright of Artscape notes that there is a five-year waiting list for this project. I dread to think what accommodation those on the waiting list are in now. It is not news that it's artists who subsidize the arts. Artists are often the last to see the financial rewards of their work. Sadly, in the government's recent decision to leave housing entirely to the private sector, one of the groups left out in the cold is the artists.


Mr E.J. Douglas Rollins (Quinte): There are citizens in this province, many of whom are honourable colleagues who sit in opposition to this government, who lament the decision to lower provincial income tax.

We've been listening to the opposition's impassioned pleas on behalf of the poor and its attacks on the rich. We're all aware of the opposition's unsurpassed talent for generosity as long as it was other people's money. Previous governments put taxes higher in an effort to keep up with the soaring costs. Social assistance is no longer viewed by many as temporary aid. Many now view it as a right. Many speak of their assistance as a paycheque.

It is the belief of this government that individuals free from the encumberment of big government can better provide for themselves. As individuals we show compassion by freely giving of our time and our resources. My honourable colleague Julia Munro has been given the task of promoting volunteerism. We want to give the people the opportunity to be more charitable.

What I would ask is for my honourable friends who sit in opposition in this chamber, for he newspaper editors, the columnists and the professional demonstrators, to put their money where their mouth is and give that money to charity.


Mr Dwight Duncan (Windsor-Walkerville): I rise today on a matter of great importance to my community. I would like to ask the Minister of Economic Development, Trade and Tourism if we can put aside partisan differences and agree that the government of Ontario has a role to play in maintaining jobs in Ontario.

The minister is no doubt aware of the Everfresh beverage situation in Windsor. More than 100 families in our city are anxious to have the Everfresh production plant stay open in Windsor.

Earlier this week, Everfresh in Windsor, as well as its parent company in the United States, was put into receivership. This morning it was reported that the company is seeking a buyer to help keep the plant operating. It's imperative that the minister recognize the gravity of this situation for the 100 employees and their families who will not have a job if we as a community do not do our best to find a buyer who will operate the plant.

The mayor of Windsor and the Windsor-Essex County Development Commission are working with me to try and find a buyer to preserve these jobs. We invite the minister to join our team to help find a practical solution to this most difficult situation.

I ask the minister, will he please direct senior officials to meet with owners of Everfresh as well as our mayor and the development commission to see what role the government of Ontario can play to help find a buyer for this plant and keep our fellow citizens working?


Mr Gilles Bisson (Cochrane South): Yesterday, I asked a question of the Minister of Health in regard to the continuing care centre in Timmins that is slated for closure as the provincial government is unable to top up the Timmins and District Hospital in regard to their base budget that would allow the TDH to be able to keep their doors open.

I asked the minister to commit to basically what had been committed to under the Common Sense Revolution. I said to the minister, "At the very least, if you're unable to secure the funding, would you guarantee that you won't go into the budget of the TDH next year and reduce that hospital budget?"

The appeal I'm making to the minister, and I make it again through this statement, is that the Timmins and District Hospital has been working very hard over the past number of years to make sure that they turn out to be the most efficient hospital of their size in the health care system. They have done that and we should be rewarding the Timmins and District Hospital, not penalizing them for having made the decisions they've made up to now in order to make sure that they're able to operate an efficient hospital, and within budget.

The minister, for whatever reason, evaded the question in question period and I asked for a late show later on, which the minister did not even have the courtesy to attend, either himself or to send his parliamentary assistant, to respond to the people of Cochrane South and to keep their commitment in regard to the Common Sense Revolution. I want to remind the minister that it is in the Common Sense Revolution where you say, "Under this plan, health care spending will be guaranteed."

I ask the minister, for the people of Cochrane South and the people at TDH: Keep your commitment. Don't reduce the Timmins and District Hospital budget in your upcoming budget. Keep to your commitment in the Common Sense Revolution.



Mr Dave Boushy (Sarnia): I wish to draw attention to a special lady in Sarnia who has shown how much one person's dedication can accomplish.

Betty Dee Black, a 62-year-old retired Sarnia hairdresser, concluded Walk '95 in Victoria, BC. She came back to Sarnia, a 6,759-kilometre walk across Canada to promote fitness, better nutrition and disease prevention.

Betty began her journey on March 1 with 42 Sarnia school children who took turns walking with her. She was also accompanied by her good friend Victor Fast. Betty spoke at dozens of schools during her walk. The children she spoke with will carry her message for a lifetime.

As an ambassador of good health, Betty has set a wonderful example. On a shoestring budget, much of it arrived at through collecting beer bottles on the side of roads, Betty has promoted Sarnia as the health conscience of Canada. I applaud Betty and the students as outstanding examples of Canadians who care enough about the future to get involved.


Mr James J. Bradley (St Catharines): The people of St Catharines in the Niagara region were shocked and distressed to hear the announcement of the Foster Wheeler Corp that the industrial boiler division in St Catharines will be closed and the operation moved to Dansville, New York.

During the initial months of the Conservative government in Ontario, it has been contended by the government that changes to social and labour legislation and regulation would result in business operations remaining and expanding in our province.

These changes, rushed through the Legislature, often with little debate and with inadequate public involvement, have not guaranteed the jobs of the people who are being laid off at Foster Wheeler, Court Industries and Kelsey-Hayes in St Catharines.

The promise of former Conservative Prime Minister Brian Mulroney that the free trade agreement he signed with the United States would bring prosperity to Canada rings hollow with the men and women at closing industrial and business operations in the Niagara Peninsula.

When I raised this issue with the Premier last Friday in the Legislature, he agreed to contact Foster Wheeler officials to determine if the provincial government could take any action that might reverse the company's decision. I hope this will be the case, but all indications so far give us little reason for optimism.

We must assist to the greatest extent possible those who are the victims of these plant closures in finding new jobs and new opportunities in our province and our community.


Mr Tony Martin (Sault Ste Marie): Mr Speaker, I rise today to seek direction from yourself or perhaps some other member of the House. I had a situation arise in my constituency office -- never happened before -- that left me speechless.

A constituent came in to lay a complaint against himself. He was really disappointed and disquieted with himself and wanted to lay an official complaint. Apparently, he voted for Mike Harris on June 8 and now he's wondering why he did that. What moment of insanity or total lack of common sense and normal good judgement would bring him to do such a thing, he wanted to know. As a matter of fact, by the time we were finished, he was calling for a full-scale public inquiry of his actions.

In light of revelations in this House over the last couple of months, I thought maybe he had a point. Was he conned? Did he fall for the marketing plan of the Common Sense Revolution, developed with some significant assistance by a convicted fraud artist, one Mr Watt?

Mr Chris Stockwell (Etobicoke West): Can't your wife talk to you at home?

Mr Martin: Mr Speaker, have you or any other member of this House been approached with a similar request from a constituent? Perhaps we should be consulting to get to the bottom of this situation.

Mr Stockwell: My family voted for me.

Mr Martin: Could we have a full public review of my constituent's obvious lack of commonsense in light of what is now being inflicted upon him and his friends and his neighbours by this government across the way and by Mike Harris -- and Chris Stockwell? Sinners re --

The Speaker (Hon Allan K. McLean): The member for Lanark-Renfrew.


Mr Leo Jordan (Lanark-Renfrew): I would like to draw the attention of the members of this House to a November 15 Globe and Mail article. There are some people in the province who are concerned with the recent cuts to welfare rates in Ontario. Besides the fact Ontario is still 10% above the average of the other provinces, I would like to point out some other facts that have been overlooked.

According to University of Toronto professor Jack Carr, welfare rates for the non-disabled caseload have increased from 18% to 29% in Ontario since 1980. However, and I quote, "Since 1980 the average family income for all Ontarians has increased by only 2.5%." He also points out that real buying power has increased by 69% and the caseload has tripled.

This government is committed to breaking the cycle of dependency created by these higher rates. We are also providing the incentive for recipients to earn back the difference.

Many welfare recipients in Lanark-Renfrew have stopped by my office to say that they realize rates cannot continue at their present levels. My constituents fully endorse the real changes my government is making to the present system. They know that after 10 years of Liberal --

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



Hon Bob Runciman (Solicitor General and Minister of Correctional Services): As I've stated previously in this Legislature, the need to focus on serious crime and crime prevention is paramount to the government's vision for Ontario's justice system. It's a vision that will restore balance, fairness and confidence in our justice system while ensuring public safety and respect for victims of crime.

Towards this end, I'm pleased to announce today that Ontario has negotiated a memorandum of understanding with the federal government to share the proceeds of crime and reinvest those ill-gotten gains into our criminal justice system. This initiative will aid in dismantling criminal organizations by crippling their financial base.

Proceeds-of-crime investigations allow us to get at criminals' profits from theft, fraud and money laundering. Here's the kinds of examples that I'm talking about: Within the last year, as a result of a proceeds-of-crime investigation, $450,000 in net valued property and vehicles were ordered by the court to be relinquished to the crown in Shelburne. Similarly, US$1 million in bank assets was forfeited in Toronto just this month. Without proceeds-of-crime investigations, such moneys would still be in the hands of criminals.

These proceeds are funds that will be recouped from criminals and their illegal activities. Of course, stolen property or money belonging to law-abiding citizens will continue to be returned to rightful owners. However, the remaining assets will be allocated to justice initiatives in Ontario through the Ministry of the Solicitor General and Correctional Services and the Ministry of the Attorney General.

Proceeds of crime will be apportioned by the federal government based on the amount of investigation and/or prosecution involvement of participating jurisdictions. The funds will be transferred to Ontario annually for reinvestment into front-line law enforcement, crime prevention and related justice activities. By helping to support community-based crime prevention programs, these funds will also assist in preventing victimization.

A set of principles will guide the allocation of proceeds of crime. Funds will enhance local crime prevention and law enforcement initiatives. Proceeds of crime will not be used to offset current government operating budgets. A portion of the proceeds will also be used by the Ministry of the Attorney General to offset direct and administrative costs.

On behalf of my colleagues and the people of Ontario, I'm pleased to be bringing this important initiative before this House. It's an initiative that reflects this government's vision and values for Ontario's justice system. The government commitment to redirecting the proceeds of crime into law enforcement and crime prevention initiatives is a concrete example of how this government is rebalancing Ontario's justice system to better meet the needs of the law-abiding public. It demonstrates how partnerships and working together will help us meet the challenges of our justice system.


Mr David Ramsay (Timiskaming): I'd like to say to the minister that while we over here in the Liberal caucus welcome his agreement between the Ontario government and the federal government in regard to proceeds from crime, I'm somewhat disappointed and I'm sure the others over here are disappointed that the minister didn't take this opportunity today to respond to my question of yesterday. I know he has other opportunities today, and we will certainly be looking forward to the first rotation of government members' questions to give him that opportunity to respond to my question. I'm sure the minister will be going over his notes in preparation for that response.

But with regard to this memorandum of understanding between Ontario and the federal government, I certainly concur that the perception of the criminal justice system has been for quite a while, in this country and this province, that criminals do get away with much more than they ever should deserve and it's about time that we looked at this type of policy that the Americans have had in operation for years in their criminal justice jurisdictions right across the States.

We are all very much aware of especially the unfortunately lucrative drug trade in south Florida and other southern states coming from Latin American countries and the seizure by the FDA down there of boats and airplanes, and the subsequent sale by auction of those assets seized and the reinvestment of those funds into criminal investigations. It certainly is time that the criminal justice jurisdiction in this country got on board with that sort of attitude. I certainly wanted to, number one, reflect the comments of my colleague from St Catharines that we have to congratulate the federal government for working with the provincial government in making sure that happens.

I do have a couple of cautions that I would like to pass on to the minister about this. The first caution I would ask the minister to take a look at would be what the impact might be on municipal governments and municipal policing here. I see in his statement that he has said that funds will enhance local crime prevention and law enforcement initiatives. I would have to ask the minister, does that mean there will actually be transfers of moneys to municipalities or directly to municipal police departments? This would be a concern I have.

We all know that next week the Treasurer of the province of Ontario will have a rather severe budget statement that is going to mean cuts for probably all ministries in this government. With that, we're very afraid that law enforcement and policing would also suffer those cuts. Transfer payments and unconditional grants to municipalities are also probably going to be cut, and this is going to put severe strain on municipal policing. I would say to the minister that he should be an advocate for municipal police departments in this province and make sure that some of that money goes not just to OPP local investigations throughout the province but also to municipalities.

I also say to him that I think we have to be very careful that these moneys that will be gained from the sale of assets from the proceeds of crime do not just come into his department and the department of the Attorney General merely to offset the cuts he may be receiving from the Treasurer, but that they go in as additional moneys so we can enhance our law enforcement in Ontario, so we can embark upon more detailed and prolonged investigations to really start to get a handle on crime. We should look at these proceeds as additional moneys for policing in Ontario to do these investigations.

I ask the minister to go to bat with the Treasurer on behalf of justice and policing in Ontario to make sure that these moneys aren't just used to offset the budget cuts but go towards policing so we can have a strong and vigorous criminal justice system in this province.

Mr James J. Bradley (St Catharines): CAVEAT, a group representing victims of crime, had a press conference here the other day where they gave the minister, unfortunately, an F in crime prevention.

I hope that some of the money coming back to the government would go not only to law enforcement in its narrowest sense but also to other preventive programs suggested by those individuals who are part of CAVEAT. They presented an excellent brief at their press conference. I know the minister has a copy of that brief, and I hope he takes into account some of the recommendations outside of the narrow purview of law enforcement, to apply those funds to them.

Now that the government will have this additional money coming in, it means they will free up some money so they'll be able to give approval for a magnetic resonance imager for St Catharines General Hospital.

Mrs Marion Boyd (London Centre): I too am pleased that the provincial government has managed to negotiate this agreement with the federal government. This means of getting at the ill-gotten gains is very good and I'm very pleased that an agreement has been reached. However, the details are rather sketchy in the minister's statement about how these funds will be shared with the jurisdictions that participate in the bringing of these criminals to justice. Certainly, it is a major concern of municipal police forces that they be seen to have often been major players in these criminal proceedings.

That concern has been expressed again and again by municipalities, by municipal police forces, by the provincial police, in terms of their share in joint investigations with the RCMP, particularly around drug matters. I notice that the minister in his statement talked about theft, fraud and money laundering, rather than straight proceeds from the drug trade. As he is well aware, municipal and provincial police forces are very frequently participants in the apprehension of criminals participating in illegal drug means. I would like some clarification from the minister at some point about whether those things are included in the agreement, and if so, to what extent that cost-sharing can be determined.

It's also important, as the members of the official opposition commented, that the proceeds of crime be seen to be directed at those victims' services, at the kind of special activities, particularly in crime prevention, that have got a great deal of attention of late. I would remind the minister that when our government set up the victim fine surcharge, we set it up as a separate account so that it could clearly be shown to be used for those purposes. I would suggest to the minister that might be a good way of assuring victims' groups and of assuring the --

That's great. The minister is nodding and saying that indeed he does expect that kind of accounting to come forward.

The national crime prevention strategy, which the federal government and the provincial governments devised together, requires some additional resources to centre on the prevention of crime, so it will be really important for our province to be a strong participant.

Crown attorneys in this province have been instructed to pursue the proceeds of crime as part of the outcomes of criminal cases and have been quite successful in doing that, so I'm glad to see that the Ministry of the Attorney General, in terms of its vigour of prosecution and pursuing proceeds of crime, is also going to have a part of the say in what goes on in this.

Finally, I would like to suggest to the minister that as this process goes forward, it's going to be important to give a regular progress report in order to bolster those citizens' groups most involved in crime prevention, groups like Neighbourhood Watch, Crime Stoppers and so on, which become very engaged in the prevention of crime and feel that they would like to be true partners of the Ministry of the Solicitor General and the Ministry of the Attorney General in the prevention of crime. Drawing them into this process as part of their participation will be a very important part of helping them to feel that they are being effective in their efforts at the local level and indeed at the provincial level.

I would like to just say to the minister that I think it would be to the benefit of this House to have regular reports made to members so we in our communities can bolster these efforts at our local level and be part of the whole effort to prevent crime in our province.



Mr James J. Bradley (St Catharines): On a very brief point of order that you may be able to help me with, Mr Speaker: Could you inform me whether the Minister of Environment and Energy has tabled with the House the report known as A Strategy for Sustainable Transportation in Ontario? I would have thought this would have been tabled in the House today. I don't know if it has been. Are you aware of that? I would hope she would perhaps do so now if she had the opportunity.


The Speaker (Hon Allan K. McLean): I beg to inform the House that pursuant to section 30 of the Members' Integrity Act, 1994, I've today laid upon the table a request by the member for Riverdale to the Honourable Gregory Evans, Integrity Commissioner, for an opinion on whether the member for London North has contravened this act or Ontario parliamentary convention.



Mrs Lyn McLeod (Leader of the Opposition): My first question is for the Minister of Labour. Minister, two weeks ago you received a submission from your health and safety inspectors. In that submission the inspectors said you were failing to protect worker health and safety. According to the front-line workers in your ministry, the message you were sending to Ontario's employers was as follows: You stand little chance of ever getting caught putting a worker's health at risk and an even lesser chance of ever being penalized when you do get caught.

It is this message that your front-line workers say is largely responsible for the dramatic rise in critical accidents and occupational illnesses, which increased by 80% and 102% respectively between 1990 and 1995.

Minister, do you agree with this assessment of your front-line workers, the very people who are responsible for enforcing Ontario's health and safety laws?

Hon Elizabeth Witmer (Minister of Labour): As the Leader of the Opposition knows, I have personally been very concerned about health and safety. In fact, it was because of that concern that we set up a review team, and we are most anxious to continue to ensure that we have the best health and safety system in all of Canada.

Mrs McLeod: I hear the minister say that workplace health and safety is indeed a priority for her, but I have in my hand an internal memo which we obtained just today that says very clearly that the situation is otherwise. Minister, a memo written by the director of your northern area office states the following:

"The overall trend is that field presence is decreasing. In the north, we are projecting that our field visits will decrease by 1,300, including inspections, compared to last year, based on activities to date."

Minister, you'll recognize the fact that since this is a memo from the director in northern Ontario, we are talking about inspections in places like the mining industry, the logging industry, the pulp and paper industry, all, I hope you would agree, that you would recognize as being very dangerous workplace situations.

Given that your own director says things are getting worse and not better, I wonder how you can stand and say this is indeed a priority for you. I ask what you're prepared to do to ensure that health and safety inspectors have the resources they need to protect the lives of workers in northern Ontario, and indeed in every region of this province?

Hon Mrs Witmer: I appreciate your bringing the memo to my attention. I have not yet seen that particular memo.

However, I do want to indicate to you that unlike the initiatives that were taken by the NDP government during the last five years, where we saw a decrease of 8% in terms of the number of inspectors doing front-line work, I can assure you that I have given instructions to the ministry that there are to be no further reductions when it comes to health and safety inspections and that we need to concentrate our resources on the front-line workers.

In fact, I recently sent out a memo again indicating to individuals that we are concerned and that we need to do as much as we possibly can. The memo has gone out prior to Christmas, when we know that a lot of students are going to be involved in working. We want them to be aware of their rights under the Occupational Health and Safety Act as well.

I can assure you that we are continuing to do whatever we can to ensure that our front-line workers have the opportunity to do what is appropriate in order that we can eliminate, as much as possible, injuries and illnesses and, of course, fatalities.

Mrs McLeod: Minister, I appreciate that reassurance, but the memo I've conveyed to you today, if you've not seen it, is a very recent memo. It's dated November 17. It indicates very clearly that not only is there a critical situation which indeed developed over the past five years and relates back to reductions that were made in the number of inspectors, but that the problem is continuing and is getting worse.

We all know we are approaching an expenditure statement in which there are going to be reductions in virtually every area your government is involved with. I think you will agree that when it comes to this issue, it's not a question of bottom lines in financial terms, because we really are talking about workers' lives.

You will recognize that we have seen that the reductions in inspectors have led directly to a sharp rise in critical accidents and in occupational illness, and I think you will agree that workers have a right to know that their workplace is safe.

You've given us an assurance today that there will not be a reduction in inspectors. Can you give us an assurance that there will not be a reduction as a result of any cuts to your ministry that we may see next week? And can you further tell us what you will be able to do to address the critical situation that already exists in workplace inspections?

Hon Mrs Witmer: I am glad the leader was honest enough to acknowledge the fact that this is a problem that has arisen over the last five years. It's not a problem that we've had anything to do with, because I have personally instructed that there be no further reductions to the number of front-line workers. I can assure you that, come next week, there will be absolutely no reduction in the number of workplace health and safety inspectors.

We will continue to take a look at the situation. I can tell you personally that we are moving forward and looking at some initiatives where we can work with the private sector to raise public awareness about the fact that we need to, as much as possible, eliminate and prevent any illnesses and accidents and fatalities in the workplace.


Mrs Lyn McLeod (Leader of the Opposition): My second question is to the Minister of Education. I want to return to the issue of junior kindergarten and the remarks the Minister of Education made in response to a question from my colleague yesterday.

Minister, yesterday in this House you indicated that school boards and school trustees and parents and teachers are in the best position to know what's required to meet the needs of children in their communities. On that point I could not agree with you more.

The point of difference between us is that I don't believe that school boards can provide the services they know children need if they don't have the money that's needed. I suggest to you that giving them flexibility with no funding just will not work.

So I ask you today, how do you expect school boards to provide the full range of services that children need if you will not provide the funding and if indeed we are looking at significant cuts to school boards next week?

Hon John Snobelen (Minister of Education and Training): To answer the question from the Leader of the Opposition I will reaffirm my remarks of yesterday, that this government intends to keep the promises it made to the people of Ontario in the Common Sense Revolution. With regard to junior kindergarten, those are very specific promises. One of those is that we will make junior kindergarten for next year a local option. That was announced in the throne speech this year.

The second promise is that we will review junior kindergarten and have a look at the best support mechanism for four-year-olds in the province. I think those promises are very clear and we intend to fulfil them.

Mrs McLeod: School boards across this province have only so many options. If you cut their funding, they can raise taxes or they can cut services. If they are not to raise property taxes -- and the Minister of Finance has indicated that he does not believe that municipalities and school boards should have to resort to raising property taxes as a result of the cuts he will make next week -- if that's not an option school boards have, they have to look at cutting services.

If you make junior kindergarten optional at the same time as you cut the funding for school boards, boards are going to have to choose, and the kinds of choices they're going to have to make are between offering junior kindergarten or offering special education programs to children, or perhaps they can choose to offer junior kindergarten but increase the class size for children in grade 3 or grade 4 to 40 or 45. Those are the kinds of choices you will be forcing school boards to make.

Minister, if you were on a school board, with the kinds of choices you will be forcing them to make, where would your priorities lie?

Hon Mr Snobelen: I'm surprised that the Leader of the Opposition would miss some of the other choices like cutting administration costs, like doing things more efficiently, like working cooperatively -- coterminous boards -- like supplying real value in education to the taxpayers, the parents and the children of Ontario. I'm surprised that the Leader of the Opposition would not mention those choices.


Mrs McLeod: I'm so pleased that the minister gave that response, because I could not agree with him more. In fact, I believe it's important that if school boards can find administrative savings, they be able to use those dollars saved for services for children. But I'm only too familiar with the campaign document of the government in which the minister now serves, a document in which they promised to cut school board funding by $750 million and that $400 million of those cuts were to come from administrative savings that school boards would make.

Now if school boards find savings by making administrative changes, becoming more efficient, sharing services with other boards, as the minister has suggested, I think they should have the opportunity to keep those savings and to invest them in programs for children. Yet this government's plan is to scoop those very administrative savings away in order to pay for their income tax cuts, and I think that is reprehensible. I'm afraid that is one promise they are going to keep.

Minister, instead of taking the savings the boards find in order to pay for your income tax cuts, why don't you do what you've just said today you think is a good idea: allow the boards to keep those dollars and reinvest them in programs like junior kindergarten?

Hon Mr Snobelen: I'm sure it won't come as a surprise to the Leader of the Opposition that I don't believe that the boards have dollars and the province has dollars. I thought they were all taxpayer dollars. I thought there was only one taxpayer in this province of Ontario. I thought that we would make savings in education for the same reason we'd look for it anywhere else in the service provided in the province.

I can assure this House that this government will make every effort to achieve three things in education: quality, affordability and accountability.


Mr Bob Rae (York South): My question is for the Minister of Municipal Affairs and Housing. His colleague the Minister of Finance is quoted today as saying that the municipalities should be able to avoid raising taxes as a result of the cuts in transfers that are going to be brought in next week. I wonder if the Minister of Municipal Affairs can tell us how this miracle is to be performed.

Hon Al Leach (Minister of Municipal Affairs and Housing): I think it's called good management. It's called working effectively. It's called giving the municipalities tools to work with, and that's what we intend to do, provide them with some tools to work with, get rid of a lot of the red tape.

Mr Rae: An organization with which the minister is familiar, the TTC, in September raised the cost of a Metropass by $10 a month, which is $120 a year --

Hon Michael D. Harris (Premier): Shame.

Mr Rae: The Premier shouts "shame." It is a shame. It's a shame caused by a reduction in the transfers.

I'd like to ask the Minister of Municipal Affairs how he intends to stop the shell game. As his colleague has just finished saying, there's only one taxpayer. If you take away the transfers which pay for a variety of services, who exactly do you expect to pay for the services, or do you expect there to be less services?

Hon Mr Leach: I expect the municipalities to work, again as I said, with more efficiency. We're talking about cutting the red tape and giving them the tools to work with it. When we say we're cutting red tape, we mean cross-wise, not length-wise, like you guys did.

Mr Rae: I think we all look forward to seeing how this shell game is going to be performed next week and in the weeks ahead. It's very clear now that the government strategy is going to be to blame any other organization which, as a result of the cuts in transfers, is forced to either cut services or to raise taxes.

But I want to ask the minister once again, in the Common Sense Revolution document there are references throughout to how this truly miraculous event is to be performed: cuts in transfers of up to 40% or 50% in some instances; reductions of $1 billion in the case of primary and secondary education over the next 18 months to two years; $400 million to colleges and universities. These reductions are going to be huge and somehow these reductions are going to be performed without any increase in the cost to the consumer.

Is the minister telling us that it's his view that all of these things can be achieved without increasing the cost to taxpayers, without increasing the cost to users and to consumers, and without a drastic reduction in services? Is that now the position of the government of Ontario?

Hon Mr Leach: Unlike the leader of the third party, I have faith in our elected municipal officials, even former Metro --

Mr Mike Colle (Oakwood): That's why you called them clowns.

Hon Mr Leach: Only some of them, Mike. Unfortunately, most of them have now gone to the provincial scene. The elected officials of Metropolitan Toronto --


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

Hon Mr Leach: -- will make the decisions that are in the best interests of their citizens. That's why they're elected and that's why they'll do the job.


Mr Bob Rae (York South): My second question is to the Minister of Labour. Minister, there are 200 workers at a company called Highline Produce, which is a mushroom-cultivating operation in Leamington. It was certified in 1994. There was first-contract bargaining, but there was no agreement.

The minister will be aware that as a result of the introduction of Bill 7, these workers have been stripped of their union, they've been stripped of their ability to organize and they've been told that retroactively they now have no rights with respect to negotiating their conditions of work.

I wonder how the minister, in a democratic society as we are supposed to have in Ontario, can possibly justify taking such basic democratic, fundamental rights away from 200 workers at a place of employment?

Hon Elizabeth Witmer (Minister of Labour): To the leader of the third party, as you well know, that's exactly what did happen under Bill 7, which came into force on November 10. The Agricultural Labour Relations Act was repealed. However, what we have done, in order to ensure that there are no reprisals against the employees who were involved, is that we have indicated and put that type of protection into the legislation.


Mr Rae: We're not talking here about a family farm; we're talking about 200 workers who are working at a processing plant which raises mushrooms -- 200 people. So I would like to ask the minister once again, how can she justify taking away rights to organize, bargain, discuss conditions of work at a place called Highline Produce in which 200 workers are employed? What is the justification for that? It's not a family farm; it's where 200 people are working in producing mushrooms. What's the justification?

Hon Mrs Witmer: As you well know, there was consultation regarding the Agricultural Labour Relations Act. As a result of the conversation that we had with the members from the agricultural community, the definition of "agriculture" was put forward, and it was as a result of the input that we received that the act was repealed.

Mr Rae: This is a mushroom factory, Minister. This is a mushroom factory which employs 200 people. It is not a family farm. What kind of definition would exclude 200 people working at a place called Highline Produce from even having the right to organize and have the right to bargain collectively? They don't have the right to strike with respect to the legislation that we brought in. Why would you not recognize that workers who are in this kind of situation, some 200 strong, surely should have some basic rights in this province rather than be stripped of the most basic democratic rights which they previously had?

Hon Mrs Witmer: I think one of the issues we need to take into consideration is the fact that this repeal, which involved the particular business you're alluding to, was done in consultation with the entire agricultural community. If we take a look at the mushroom plant that you're referring to, it still does have a problem as far as the sensitivities are concerned: time and the fact that you're dealing with perishable food. That's the basis on which that decision was made in consultation with the Minister of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs.


Mr Bruce Crozier (Essex South): Yesterday, in response to my question regarding the proposed satellite bingo scheme the Gaming Control Commission has given its approval to, the Minister of Consumer and Commercial Relations said, "There is no doubt that this kind of province-wide network bingo would affect charitable bingos to a very great degree."

I would ask the minister, now that you've had some time to look into this matter and know what the effects are on these local, charitable, independent bingos, to what extent will the province of Ontario and your government receive any portion of the revenue that may be generated from this game if it's approved?

Hon Norman W. Sterling (Minister of Consumer and Commercial Relations): It's not quite certain what we would receive from this, but it's estimated to be around a million dollars.

Mr Crozier: What you're telling me, Mr Minister, is that at the present time the only thing the government gets from this is a fee of approximately $12,000 from each commercial establishment. Notwithstanding the fact that the Premier has said, "Gambling isn't what we want as revenue in this province; we don't need the money," what you're going to do is you've found a new source of revenue that you've just told us about. That money is going to be taken away from the poor, the disabled perhaps, children, because these private charitable bingos have been asked by your government to help out. Is this what's going to happen, you've found a new source of revenue that you're taking away from these small, local, charitable bingos?

Hon Mr Sterling: No, quite the contrary. As a matter of fact, many, many people who would need money and are given money by many charitable organizations across Ontario will receive much more, because basically the whole concept behind this new form of bingo is to bring back to some of the existing bingos the business that they've lost over the last 12 and 24 months.

The fact of the matter is that it's about a wash with regard to what the government receives with regard to this new bingo activity. The fact of the matter is, as was alleged in a document which I saw by some operators that the government was going to be benefiting to the tune of $500 million, nothing could be further from the truth. Any money, of course, which is collected is to pay for the gaming commission's costs in overseeing this kind of activity.

Mr Crozier: A million dollars a year.

Hon Mr Sterling: Absolutely. It's very expensive to make certain that it's done properly.

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

Hon Mr Sterling: The bottom line of all of this is that charities will get more money, will benefit more, through this new scheme. The new scheme has been approved in principle, but we are now going to --

The Speaker: Time's up.


Mr Bob Rae (York South): I have another question for my friend the minister responsible for francophone affairs. Once again I find from reading the francophone media that the minister has been very busy expressing himself with respect to other plans of the government.

In a report on the weekend in Le Droit, the minister is quoted as saying that the question of selling off public television was raised in a cabinet meeting, and the minister said that he personally was opposed, and he promised to do everything he could to make sure the cabinet didn't take this decision. He said: «C'est la seule télévision éducative francophone hors Québec, et c'est tellement important pour la communauté francophone. C'est unique.» It's unique, he said. But he added, «Je ne suis pas majoritaire au cabinet.» "I'm not in a majority in the cabinet."

This is indeed an old tactic that I've observed over the years, not one I've ever thought very highly of. I'd like to ask the minister, can he confirm in fact that he's been present at cabinet meetings where the question of TVO and TFO being sold has been raised? Why would you have made this announcement in Le Droit on the weekend?

Mr Gilles Pouliot (Lake Nipigon): You have as much clout as Mickey Mouse.

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

Hon Noble Villeneuve (Minister of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs, minister responsible for francophone affairs): First of all, I have discussed this matter on several occasions with my honourable friend the minister responsible. I am responsible for French-language services, and TVO, whether it's privatized or whether it remains where it is, I certainly would endorse strongly the fact that it continue educational television en français. That is my main concern, and that's where I stand.

Mr Rae: Back in 1991 when there was a small, short debate in the House with respect to TVO, the minister himself said, "I belong to a group called Friends of TVO." I'd like to ask the minister, is he still a member of the Friends of TVO? I'd like to ask the minister, why is he announcing the sale of TVO and TFO to the Presse canadienne and to Le Droit? Why is he making these announcements?

Hon Mr Villeneuve: First of all, this was not an announcement; it was simply a comment that I made in reply to a question from one of the French-speaking lawyers expressing their concerns. The speech from the throne did say that we would be looking at the privatization of all those areas that could be privatized. I simply expressed that whether La Chaîne TFO remains in the public sector where it is or goes to the private sector, I am simply saying that I endorse the French-language educational portion of TVO.


The Speaker: The Solicitor General has a short answer to a question previously asked by the member for Timiskaming.


Hon Bob Runciman (Solicitor General and Minister of Correctional Services): I wish to respond to a question asked yesterday by the member for Timiskaming concerning a memo that was issued by the assistant deputy minister of Correctional Services. The memo concerned possible job actions and information pickets by ministry personnel and advised superintendents and area managers to report on such activities.

I want the member opposite to know that the purpose of reporting on such activities is to ensure that the Correctional Services ministry fulfils its mandate of protecting local communities. For example, if a large number of corrections officers decided to leave their jobs to participate in a job action, the ministry would have a responsibility to ensure that inmates were secure and the community was not at risk. We might need to call in unscheduled staff to manage the correctional operation.

The member should know that MPPs' offices were cited in the memo only because there was such an information picket at my constituency office in Brockville. However, if that information picket were held elsewhere in the community, then it would have been reported on as well.

As to the member's suggestion that the ministry would be spying on any corrections employees who might visit his office, that is completely false and I suspect he knows that.

Mr David Ramsay (Timiskaming): I didn't solicit, and I don't know of any other member in this House who solicited, the protection of your ministry from constituents coming to visit me and make representations on my behalf.

The other thing I would have to say is that if you combine this memo that was put out to the superintendents and area managers with the remarks of the minister responsible for women's issues to the group in London, it starts to, I think, weave a thread that possibly this government wants to intimidate people who oppose it and also to maybe intimidate people who work for it and maybe question some of their policies.

I would say to the minister that he should look throughout his ministry and maybe talk to some of his colleagues in government to make sure that this is not going on in the other parts of this government, because it seems to be starting to set a pattern.

I would ask the minister today, has he rescinded this memo throughout the ministry and has he alleviated the fears of his employees, that they no longer are going to be spied upon by his ministry officials?

Hon Mr Runciman: I have not rescinded the memo. I've reviewed it and I see nothing wrong with it. A few weeks ago I had a meeting with various members in this assembly who have concerns about the possibility of jail closures in their ridings. The member for Timiskaming was a participant in those meetings. Subsequent to that, the feeling as we left that meeting was that they would work together in their own local communities to try and come up with solutions and answers to try and deal with the financial problems the government is facing.

I've had a number of members since that meeting come forward. The member for Bruce is an example. He spent two consecutive Fridays meeting with jail guards and management to come up with options. Instead of doing that, what has this member done? He's come in here yesterday in an attempt to score political points rather than trying to work together with us to find solutions.


Mr Joseph Cordiano (Lawrence): I have a question to follow up on a question asked by the leader of the third party to the Minister of Municipal Affairs and Housing. If in fact he is still the Minister of Municipal Affairs, I'm sure he'll be able to answer this question satisfactorily.

As he made comment on cuts to transfer payments for municipalities, surely the Minister of Municipal Affairs would have commissioned impact studies to these municipalities to determine what the effect of these cuts will be on municipalities, and surely the minister can tell us today what the impact studies have revealed.

Hon Al Leach (Minister of Municipal Affairs and Housing): We've conducted meetings with AMO of most of the municipalities around the province, with all the major stakeholders. They fully understand the problem that the government has with its financial situation that it was left with. There's absolutely no way that we're going to be able to eliminate the crushing debt load that we've had -- and we've got $100 billion in debt -- unless we cut costs. The municipalities in this province understand that. They're prepared to be part of the solution, not part of the problem.

Mr Cordiano: I'd like to point out to the minister that according to Metro Chairman Alan Tonks, his government's cuts in transfers will mean a 25% cut to Metro Toronto. According to Chairman Tonks, that can mean "cutting Metro police by $59 million, the TTC by $12 million, and services like homes for the aged, water and sewage and parks and roads by $75 million. Some government sources, as has been indicated today, suggest that these cuts will in fact amount to 45% over two years."

Minister, you promised during the election campaign that, "Funding for law enforcement and justice will be guaranteed." That's a quote from your Common Sense Revolution. The only way municipalities will be able to maintain policing levels to meet your commitment that you made during the election campaign will be to raise property taxes.

Is this what you're telling municipalities, that they should raise property taxes? Because, Minister, there's simply no other way to do it to meet those policing levels. They have to raise property taxes. I ask you very directly, is that what you're telling municipalities, that they should raise property taxes?

Hon Mr Leach: As I mentioned to the leader of the third party, I have all the faith in the world in our elected municipal officials to determine how to deal with their own particular budget.

The municipalities have been asking for autonomy for years. We're planning to give them autonomy. They're going to make the decisions. We don't believe they're going to have to raise taxes, but if they have to raise taxes, that would be their choice and they would have to face their electorate on that.


Mr Bud Wildman (Algoma): I have a question for the Minister of Education and Training related to the effects of the social service cuts on post-secondary students in the province. Could the minister explain what should be done to assist Patricia Gravelle, who's a single parent of two children, enrolled in the diploma nursing program at Georgian College? She is halfway through her studies, has a considerable student loan, and she's had to drop half of her courses in order to take a part-time job so that she can make up for the 21.6% cut in her family benefits.

What is the minister's response to Patricia's question when she says, "How does it benefit Ontario if those of us who have struggled so hard to climb back into the workforce now have the ladder kicked out from beneath us, sending us tumbling back into a vicious cycle of dependence on family benefits and other social services?" What is the minister's response?

Hon John Snobelen (Minister of Education and Training): I'm sure it won't surprise the honourable member that I can't comment on an individual case, but I will say I'm very pleased that he's revealed today that someone has in fact found a part-time job, which I'm sure is helping that person to take care of her family and to be a useful, productive member. I'm also pleased that the individual he's mentioned is attending university.

Mr Wildman: I wasn't asking the minister to comment on this particular case, I was asking him what his answer would be for students like Ms Gravelle who are facing the situation of having to drop the courses, the very courses that the minister and his government are saying they want people to get involved in so they can gain the skills and be productive.

I'll give you a couple of other examples: Tracy, a business student at Fanshawe College, or Kathryn, a nursing student at Lambton College, have both lost their Jobs Ontario child care subsidy which made it affordable for them to attend school and get child care in this province and as a result are having to consider dropping out of school and remaining dependent on social assistance. I'm told that more than half of the nursing students at Lambton College are going to be affected by the loss of this child care subsidy.

What is the minister doing to ensure that child care subsidies remain available to single parents who are attending community college so that they can upgrade themselves, become employable and productive and not be dependent on social assistance in the future?

Hon Mr Snobelen: I'm glad to hear from the member opposite that people are attending colleges and universities to upgrade their skills and to find gainful employment in the province of Ontario. I think that's a progressive step.

I also am pleased that there are support systems available in the province that I'm told are among the best in Canada to take care of those sorts of people. I understand and appreciate that it is a struggle for people to attend colleges and universities, that that's an ongoing struggle for people in all sorts of categories.

Specifically, I can't speak to the area of child care although, if the member would like to direct a question to the Minister of Community and Social Services, I'm sure there will be a response.



Mr Harry Danford (Hastings-Peterborough): My question today is for the Minister of Natural Resources. Minister, I've received a number of inquiries from constituents in my riding of Hastings-Peterborough concerning fox and raccoon rabies. Rabies, as you are well aware, is not only a threat to the wildlife and livestock population but can be potentially dangerous to the public. I know the fox rabies problem is almost eradicated, but what steps has the minister taken to deal with new threats of raccoon rabies?

Hon Chris Hodgson (Minister of Natural Resources, Northern Development and Mines): I would like to thank the member for Hastings-Peterborough for the fine question. Ontario is recognized as a world leader in the fight against rabies and our techniques are world-renowned. We sell technology, actually, to other countries in the world. As you know, there are fewer rabies cases now than there were in 1961, and the success rate of our program speaks for itself. We are planning to improve our program, though, in coordination with federal and local authorities, enhanced surveillance, maintenance of a barrier of immune raccoons and increased public education.

Mr Danford: The agricultural community in particular has specific concerns with regard to rabies. I know that the Ontario Federation of Agriculture raised this issue with you Monday night when they met in Toronto. Could the minister update my constituents and members of the House on what partnerships you're prepared to work with in the agricultural community to address this?

Hon Mr Hodgson: We are working with the agricultural community. The MNR has had a good tradition of working with the agricultural community. It's an important issue, and on Monday night that was expressed to me personally by numerous people in the agricultural community -- farmers. We plan to set up a partnership with farmers and rural land owners to trap, vaccinate and release on their property. The goal is to eradicate rabies from Ontario permanently, and with the agricultural community's support -- I've talked to my colleague the Minister of Agriculture -- and together with rural land owners' support we hope to achieve our goal.


Mr Frank Miclash (Kenora): My question is for the Solicitor General. Treacherous: That's how officers of the Ontario Provincial Police describe the stretch of Trans-Canada Highway between Vermilion Bay and Kenora.

I have to ask the minister, what action is he taking to protect the health and safety of the province's police officers, whom he represents, in the face of the dangerous cutbacks to road repair and winter maintenance being made by his colleague the Minister of Transportation?

Hon Bob Runciman (Solicitor General and Minister of Correctional Services): The provincial police have an association, the OPPA. Certainly if they have concerns, they haven't been conveyed to me. I believe the Minister of Transportation has answered this question adequately in terms of the way the ministry will be responding. Indeed, in his supplementary the member may have specifics to refer to in terms of identifying members, but up to this point I have not been made aware of any concerns.

Mr Miclash: Minister, that may be your spin, but that's not what we're hearing from the OPP officers of the Kenora district. They have indicated to me -- and just let me quote what an OPP officer from the Kenora detachment has said:

"Any of the officers will tell you that on the easterly drive to Vermilion Bay none of us feels safe, and we drive there on a regular basis.... Officers are nervous driving that section...it's a treacherous piece of highway no matter how you look at it."

OPP officers tell me that statistics prove that this section of Highway 17 is one of the worst sections of highway in the country.

The Ministry of Transportation upgrading plans are complete and sitting on the Transportation minister's desk, yet the death and accident toll continues to mount. Your officers, the men and women in your ministry, cannot do their work of enforcing the law under the existing conditions.

Minister, explain to the people and the police officers of the northwest why your government refuses to invest in their safety.

Hon Mr Runciman: The member has identified the area in respect to the detachment, and I will follow up. If indeed that is a valid concern, I will certainly be quite prepared to sit down with the Minister of Transportation and make sure that he's apprised of those concerns as well and follow through on it.


Mr Bud Wildman (Algoma): I have a question to the Minister of Health in regard to the long-standing problem of the need to deal with the shortage of medical practitioners in many small communities in northern and rural Ontario.

The minister will be aware that the Hornepayne Community Hospital made a written proposal to him in August asking the ministry to support the training of one staff nurse in the nurse practitioner program in Lakehead University. The idea was that this would alleviate the load for one doctor in the community of Hornepayne, make it more attractive to get a physician to locate there, and lower the cost for the ministry's underserviced area program.

Will the minister indicate whether or not his ministry is prepared to assist the Hornepayne Community Hospital in training a nurse practitioner as proposed by them to him in August?

Hon Jim Wilson (Minister of Health): I would certainly say that all options are on the table right now to deal with a physician shortage in Hornepayne, Red Lake and my area of the province and 76 communities where we have a crisis, and 50 other communities where we have minimal, if not a shortage of, physician resources in those communities. So, yes, I will consider that.

We are in discussions with the Ontario Medical Association now about this very problem. We've indicated to the OMA that this government is serious about finding a solution to this problem. I agree with what I think is behind your question, which is that we've been doing a patchwork approach for the past few years in this province. Sometimes we've been paying physician locums up to $500 a day plus expenses. It's a very expensive way and I think the wrong way to go about this problem. So we're trying to find a permanent solution, and nurse practitioners are part of our review of primary care in the province.

Mr Wildman: I'm pleased that the minister is prepared to review this, which he has had on his desk since August. Can he indicate when the review might be completed and when the Hornepayne Community Hospital will know whether or not they will get assistance for the training of the nurse practitioner, recognizing that the staff nurses who have indicated they're interested are making a commitment to their community?

Also, because of the topping up of the subsidies for locums in northern Ontario, the hospital is running out of its reserve funds in having to compete with other communities in the north that are subsidizing over and above what the underserviced area program provides, up to $1,000 a day.

This is becoming a particular crisis in this community because the hospital is running out of funds. They have a practical approach to lowering the cost and making it more attractive to meet the medical needs in their community. When will you complete your review and give the hospital an answer?

Hon Mr Wilson: It's a good question from the honourable member. I will remind him, though, that I inherited these problems. They weren't created just in the past four or five months. As the opposition Health critic, I watched the growth of these problems, and I have some sympathy for the previous governments.

However, this government is moving. We made it clear in the throne speech that we will move on the Scott report, which will help with physician services. We've also, in our discussions with the Ontario Medical Association, put a number of items on the table. We've given them to the end of this month to give us a final response and indicated to them that we're serious.

I'm tired of going home to my communities and being asked by physicians practising there now, "Why can't you get me more help?". I'm tired of going to the North Shore communities and having physicians themselves yell at me and say: "I'm the only physician in town. You're burning me out and I need more help." That's exactly the message I've got at the table with the Ontario Medical Association.

When I came to office we made a very quick decision that nurse practitioners will continue the education program set up by the previous government. We're reviewing primary care services. Unfortunately, and I do apologize, we have to get the physician resource piece settled in the province, and then we'll be able to give a clearer indication of nurse practitioners and where they'll fit into the multidisciplinary team as we --

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



Mr Bruce Smith (Middlesex): My question is to the Minister of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs. Minister, although current grain prices in Ontario are favourable, many grain and oilseed producers in my riding are still quite concerned about significant fluctuations over the next several years. What reassurances can you give them that an appropriate safety net will be available to them?

Hon Noble Villeneuve (Minister of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs, minister responsible for francophone affairs): I want to reassure the honourable member that indeed this government is living up to its commitment to the grain and oilseed producers of this province.

I was pleased to announce at the OFA meeting this week that we have gone from 80% to 85% in the market revenue area, what's known as GRIP to some people, and we are living up to the commitment and the promise that was made in the Common Sense Revolution. We are now at 85% of the market revenue program.

Mr Smith: As the minister is undoubtedly aware, many potential substantial income fluctuations could be incurred by farming communities. In the Common Sense Revolution we committed to the whole-farm approach for national safety nets. Can the minister provide an update on the developments in this area and when producers may expect further details?

Hon Mr Villeneuve: Yes, we are going to 85% of market value in 1996 and henceforth. Yes, this government is very much committed to protecting farmers against fluctuation in prices: the safety nets program, the crop insurance, NISA and GRIP -- very much in place. We can very much reassure the farmers of Ontario that this government stands behind them to protect them when prices go against them.


Mr Mike Colle (Oakwood): I have a question for the Minister of Municipal Affairs and Housing. Minister, as you know, yesterday the city of Oshawa passed a resolution whereby they asked that you make the Golden task force recommendations public. They say that the speculation about dramatic changes in governance and property taxation in the GTA is creating an economic freeze in the GTA, as commercial and residential taxpayers alike cannot plan future investment and job initiatives.

Given the havoc that the secrecy and backroom deal-making are causing, why not share the findings of the Golden commission with the 4,000,000 people of the GTA who paid for this task force, and why not allow a city like Oshawa to get on with business and create jobs?

Hon Al Leach (Minister of Municipal Affairs and Housing): I will share the findings Anne Golden brought to me. She told me they found that there's too much government, too much duplication, too much waste, and that they're addressing it. Their findings and recommendations will be made public as soon as the report is finished. They're still working on it.

Mr Colle: One other aspect of this which troubles a lot of people is that because of the secrecy you have a situation where the mayors of the major cities like Mississauga, North York, Toronto and Oshawa, who call themselves the champions of the GTA, are seeking special status within this so-called supercity. Are you going to allow for special status within the GTA for the so-called champions, or are you going to treat everybody equally within this new so-called supercity?

Hon Mr Leach: The party that's in power right now treats everybody equally.


Mr Howard Hampton (Rainy River): My question is for the Minister of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs. Minister, the fruit and vegetable growers of the province are very concerned about some of what they're hearing about cutbacks in the Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs. In particular, they're very concerned that you may cut the number of crop advisers who are available to fruit and vegetable growers. They believe that's a very important part of the service your ministry provides to them.

What assurances can you give them that in the Minister of Finance's statement which will come next week, and following that statement, there will be no cuts to the crop advisers and other advisory advice available to fruit and vegetable growers?

Hon Noble Villeneuve (Minister of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs, minister responsible for francophone affairs): The member realizes full well that this government was left with a major, major financial problem -- a $10-billion-plus deficit per year.

The interesting thing is that my predecessor, a good friend of mine and a former member in this House, Elmer Buchanan, with whom I had the opportunity of speaking last night, made a statement here on April 23 that, "Tough decisions had to be made, but our aim is to invest in essential services and to ensure the long-term economic health of the province." My answer is the same.

Mr Hampton: The reality is that this minister went around Ontario before and during the election campaign and said there will be no cuts to agriculture, no matter what. This Minister of Agriculture may prefer to think that people don't have memories, but people do have a memory.

Your government's problem is that you have to cut $5 billion in order to give your wealthy friends a tax cut. That's your problem. You created that problem. What assurances can you give the fruit and vegetable growers that you won't be cutting them in order to give your wealthy friends a tax break?

Hon Mr Villeneuve: In the rural economic development task force report, of which I happen to have a copy, it said there would be no program cuts, and there have been no program cuts. We have gone to 85% market revenue, 75% farm tax rebate. We remain committed to Ontario's agriculture, and there will be no program cuts. We will serve agriculture.


Mr Chris Stockwell (Etobicoke West): I will note, Mr Speaker, that I'm question 4 today. Of course, the list only goes to question 3. My question is to the Minister of Municipal Affairs and Housing. This was not planned, because I'm question 4.

Having campaigned in the last election about the municipality and the restructuring of Metro and the GTA, I heard from a number of my constituents, and I'm certain you heard from a number of yours, Minister, that what we needed was less government, fewer politicians, fewer bureaucrats and, most importantly, fewer taxes.

The previous government, the NDP, struck the Golden task force. If the Golden task force came back with a recommendation seeking a larger, more bureaucratic and a far greater regional government, it seems to me that wouldn't fit with the practice of our government, which is smaller, more efficient and better.

I put it to you directly, Minister: If Golden came forward and said we need a superregional government, are you prepared to say today on behalf of the taxpayers, "This is not an effective and efficient use of the good GTA taxpayers' dollars"?

Hon Al Leach (Minister of Municipal Affairs and Housing): It's nice to hear from my colleague with the fourth question. The Golden task force has not completed its report yet. Whatever recommendations they bring forth, this government will look at and review, whether it's a superministry, whether it's a single tier, whether it's a two-tier system -- whatever recommendations they're doing. They've been working on this for a year. They've gathered all kinds of information. They're reviewing their findings as we speak and they're still developing their recommendations. Whatever recommendations they come forth with, this government will give consideration to.

Mr Stockwell: Having heard the answer, there are some concerns I still have. Let me itemize them.

Having discussed this fully with my good friend Howard Moscoe, one of those elected clowns at the Metropolitan Toronto level, he has said to me specifically -- at least not to me, maybe to the Toronto Star -- he has suggested that there are concerns with respect to this supergovernment.

I am prepared to look at all recommendations Golden brings in, but I am not prepared to look at recommendations that call for larger government. That doesn't meet our mandate. Our mandate, Minister, was clear in opposition. I think it should be clear in government. Larger government doesn't work. To have more politicians is not a good thing, it is a bad thing. Greater bureaucracy doesn't prove to be efficient, and red tape gets multiplied when you push it across the GTA.

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

Mr Stockwell: I put it to you very directly, Minister, if the Golden task force, as one of the recommendations, suggests a superregional government, are you prepared to say: "No. Doesn't fit. Not acceptable" --

The Speaker: The question's been asked.

Hon Mr Leach: Thank you, Mr Speaker. That's a nice suit you're wearing.

As I mentioned to the member before, whatever recommendations the Golden task force brings forward I know will be responsible recommendations that are in the best interests of this community, and this government would be obligated to review all the recommendations that come forward. We have no idea at this point what those recommendations are. They are still running models on certain information, and recommendations will be forthcoming within the next month.



Mr Gerry Phillips (Scarborough-Agincourt): My question is for the Minister of Finance. We're awaiting, of course, the fiscal statement next week. One of the key areas of interest to all of us is the public service staffing, and I know the government's commitment is to reduce the public service staffing by 13,000 people to get it back, I gather, to the 1985 levels. My question is actually quite straightforward: What is the current staffing level in the Ontario public service, the number you're using to reduce the 13,000 from? You've given me a document dated March 31, 1995, indicating that it's around 81,000. I'd like to know whether that is still the number.

Interestingly enough, as I went back to 1985 to look at the numbers, the number I have for 1985 is also 81,000. So my question is this: You are planning, I gather, to reduce the civil service by 13,000. The number you've given us to date for the current staffing is around 81,000 and the number in 1985 is around 81,000. Can you give us the number of public servants we currently have in the province and the number we had in 1985, Minister?

Hon Ernie L. Eves (Deputy Premier, Minister of Finance and Government House Leader): I will get back to the member with an up-to-date number; he has the number as of March 31, 1995. I will take that as notice and I will get back to you with an appropriate number as of now.

The Speaker (Hon Allan K. McLean): The member for Timiskaming on a point of privilege.


Mr David Ramsay (Timiskaming): Mr Speaker, I rise today on a matter of personal privilege. I'd just like to say to you that in my 10 1/2 years in this House I've never done this before, and I don't do it lightly. I would refer you to standing order 21(a), where it says: "Privileges are the rights enjoyed by the House collectively and by the members of the House individually conferred by the Legislative Assembly Act and other statutes, or by practice, precedent, usage and custom."

I've always considered that it's one of my rights, by custom and precedent, as a duly elected member of the Legislative Assembly that my constituents can freely associate with me and I with them.

I didn't stand to do this yesterday, because I wanted to bring this up in question period and give the minister a chance to dissociate himself from this memo that an ADM in the Ministry of Correctional Services put forward to superintendents and area managers, whereby those people were ordered to report to the ADM and now, being endorsed by the minister today, to the minister any political activities to an MPP's office.

Mr Speaker, I certainly will submit the copy of this memo to you later, but I would just like to repeat the second sentence in this memo, which says, "A report should be submitted, even if an action in, or adjacent to, the workplace or to a local MPP's office is only suspected of being related to constraint proposals/initiatives."

In other words, if there is any political dissent, action or discussion -- and as you know, Mr Speaker, as a member of this House also, constituents from time to time choose to book appointments with members, to come in unannounced to seek a member's advice or to give them their opinion or, from time to time, as is their right, to demonstrate in front of our offices. While maybe we don't necessarily always relish having a demonstration at our office, it certainly is the right of our constituents and it's certainly my right as a member to be informed through that method what my constituents are thinking.

Mr Speaker, I would ask that you please investigate this and report back to this House.


The Speaker (Hon Allan K. McLean): We have a former member in the member's gallery today by the name of Larry O'Connor, former member for Durham-York. Welcome, Larry.



Mr Monte Kwinter (Wilson Heights): I have a petition addressed 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 General 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 recommendation contained within the report of the Metropolitan Toronto District Health Council hospital restructuring committee as it pertains to North York Branson Hospital, so that it retains, at minimum, emergency and inpatient services."

I have affixed my signature.


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

"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;

"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."


Mr Frank Miclash (Kenora): I have a petition that reads:

"Since the government has stated they plan on selling off 84,000 units which are owned by the Ontario Housing Corp, we are in favour of keeping Ontario Housing Corp, which assists people on limited incomes to have decent, affordable housing."

That's signed by a good number of my constituents in Kenora, and I too have attached my name to that petition.


Ms Frances Lankin (Beaches-Woodbine): I have pages and pages of petitions here which I'm submitting today.

"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;

"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 agree and I have affixed my signature to these petitions.


Mrs Sandra Pupatello (Windsor-Sandwich): I'm happy to submit this petition on behalf of the constituents from Kitchener-Waterloo, where I spent last evening in a group, expected to be 100, that turned out to be 550. That, of course, was a collection of people concerned about child care.

"Whereas high-quality child care contributes significantly to the healthy development of all children;

"Whereas research has proven that good wages and working conditions for early childhood educators are a key factor in high-quality child care;

"Whereas the best child care system is one that is accessible, affordable and regulated for quality; and

"Whereas recent cuts to child care are destabilizing the entire child care system in Ontario;

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

"That all public funding be restored for child care, including subsidies, capital funds, operating grants and all-day junior kindergarten pilot programs;

"That all existing commitments regarding wage subsidies, pay equity grants and any other funding and/or policies that help to stabilize high-quality child care for children and families in the province of Ontario be retained;

"And that public hearings be held as part of the child care services review process."

I hereby affix my name.



Mr Gilles Bisson (Cochrane South): I have a petition here from a number of people from Iroquois Falls, Matheson and Elliot Lake. The petition reads:

"To the Legislative Assembly of Ontario:

"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 and 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, we, the undersigned, petition the government of Ontario to eliminate any rumours of actual intention to privatize the provincial correction facilities and therefore ensuring the people of the province peace of mind in knowing that the government of Ontario is still responsible for the safety and security of the province."

I affix my signature to this petition.


Mr Mike Colle (Oakwood): I have here over 30,000 names on a petition. A lot of this work was done by Theresa Worona, whose sister Angela unfortunately died in a truck accident. The petition reads:

"To the provincial Parliament of Ontario:

"Whereas the Ministry of Transportation maintenance checks on large commercial trucks and trailers has found approximately 43% of trucks with potentially dangerous defects; and

"Whereas these defects are a serious threat to the public safety on the highways;

"We, the undersigned, hereby petition the provincial Parliament of Ontario to take all necessary measures related to inspection and enforcement of safety and maintenance standards for these trucks and trailers."

I affix my name to this petition.


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

"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 safe passage of drivers."

I will affix my signature to this.


Mr Michael A. Brown (Algoma-Manitoulin): "Whereas the Memorial Hospital in Sudbury, Ontario, is northern Ontario's only heart care hospital;

"Whereas the calibre of heart care at Memorial Hospital is second to none in Canada and possibly the world;

"Whereas the presence of such a respected facility is extremely important in attracting top-notch specialists to the north;

"Whereas thousands of people in the Algoma-Manitoulin area owe their lives to the excellent treatment and care received at Sudbury Memorial Hospital;

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

"To do everything in its power to see that any planned amalgamation of hospitals in Sudbury does not include the loss of the Memorial Hospital."

This petition is signed by literally hundreds of my constituents.


Mr Gilles Bisson (Cochrane South): I have yet another petition on the same issue from the people of Connaught and Raymore, and the petition reads as follows:

"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 and 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, we, the undersigned, petition the government of Ontario to eliminate any rumours of actual intention to privatize the provincial correction facilities and therefore ensuring the people of the province peace of mind and knowing that the government of Ontario is still responsible for the safety and security of the province."


Mr Frank Miclash (Kenora): This petition relates to a question that I asked of the Solicitor General earlier on today and it reads:

"To the Legislature of Ontario:

"Whereas the interim report of the Ontario School Board Reduction Task Force recommends amalgamation of the Kenora Board of Education with the Dryden Board of Education and the Red Lake Board of Education; and

"Whereas the amalgamation of school boards in northwestern Ontario is not practical for operational and financial reasons because of the large distances between the communities;

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

"To ensure the continuation of the present number of school boards in northwestern Ontario except where local school boards and their communities, having evaluated the costs and benefits from amalgamation, request an amalgamation of their respective boards."

I attach my name to that petition as well.


Mr Michael A. Brown (Algoma-Manitoulin): "Whereas zoning approval for the redevelopment of Huron Lodge has been referred to the Ontario Municipal Board; and

"Whereas this redevelopment is a critical component to the continuum of long-term care in the Elliot Lake area; and

"Whereas any delay in the Ontario Municipal Board hearing into this matter could seriously jeopardize this continuum of long-term care;

"Therefore, we, the undersigned, petition the minister to expedite the Ontario Municipal Board hearing into the rezoning of the proposed Huron Lodge site."

The Speaker (Hon Allan K. McLean): Further petitions? The member for Dovercourt.


Mr Tony Silipo (Dovercourt): Mr Speaker, I would move adjournment of the House.

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

All those in favour, say "aye."

All those opposed, say "nay."

In my opinion, the nays have it.

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

The division bells rang from 1516 to 1546.

The Speaker: All those in favour will please rise and remain standing.

All those opposed will please rise and remain standing.

Clerk of the House (Mr Claude L. DesRosiers): The ayes are 14, the nays 77.

The Speaker: I declare the motion lost.



Mr Gilles Bisson (Cochrane South): I have a petition here, this time from the people of Tunis and the people in around that area. It reads:

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

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


Mr Bisson: No, Tunis is actually around Iroquois Falls. I'm surprised you don't know that. It's a very nice place.

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

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

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

I affix my signature to that petition.


Mr Frank Miclash (Kenora): I have a petition on the issue that I referred to the Solicitor General earlier on. It's a petition to the Legislative Assembly of Ontario which 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've attached my name to that petition as well.

The Speaker (Hon Allan K. McLean): The member for Beaches-Woodbine.


Ms Frances Lankin (Beaches-Woodbine): I move adjournment of the House.

The Speaker (Hon Allan K. McLean): The member for Beaches-Woodbine has moved the adjournment of the House.

All those in favour, say "aye."

All those opposed, say "nay."

In my opinion, the nays have it.

Call in the members; a 30-minute bell.

The division bells rang from 1549 to 1619.

The Speaker: All those in favour will please rise and remain standing.

All those opposed will please rise and remain standing.

Clerk of the House (Mr Claude L. DesRosiers): The ayes are 12, the nays 75.

The Speaker: I declare the motion lost.

Further petitions? The member for York Mills.


Mr David Turnbull (York Mills): I move that the House now proceed to orders of the day.

The Speaker (Hon Allan K. McLean): The member for York Mills has moved that we proceed to orders of the day.

All those in favour will say "aye."

All those opposed will say "nay."

In my opinion, the ayes have it.

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

The division bells rang from 1622 to 1652.

The Acting Speaker (Ms Marilyn Churley): Would the members please take their seats. I mean the member for Scarborough North as well. Thank you.

All those in favour of the motion, please rise and remain standing.

All those opposed?

Clerk of the House (Mr Claude L. DesRosiers): The ayes are 64, the nays 10.

The Acting Speaker: I declare the motion carried.



Mr Harnick moved second reading of the following bill:

Bill 19, An Act to repeal the Advocacy Act, 1992, revise the Consent to Treatment Act, 1992, amend the Substitute Decisions Act, 1992 and amend other Acts in respect of related matters / Projet de loi 19, Loi abrogeant la Loi de 1992 sur l'intervention, révisant la Loi de 1992 sur le consentement au traitement, modifiant la Loi de 1992 sur la prise de décisions au nom d'autrui et modifiant d'autres lois en ce qui concerne des questions connexes.

Hon Charles Harnick (Attorney General, minister responsible for native affairs): Today this government is keeping its commitment to vulnerable people and their families by tabling for second reading the Advocacy, Consent and Substitute Decisions Statute Law Amendment Act. On my own behalf and on behalf of my colleagues from the Ministry of Health and the Ministry of Citizenship, Culture and Recreation, I am introducing for debate a law that will reduce government interference in the private affairs of individuals and ensure that decision-making is in the hands of individuals and their families.

First, I would like to provide everyone with an overview of Bill 19. The Advocacy, Consent and Substitute Decisions Statute Law Amendment Act repeals the Advocacy Act, an act that is intrusive in the lives of vulnerable people, their families and care givers. It abolishes the Advocacy Commission, an expensive and unnecessary adjunct to existing services. It replaces the Consent to Treatment Act with the Health Care Consent Act, which will reduce delays in the treatment of people who are unable to make their own decisions, and it amends the Substitute Decisions Act to ensure powers of attorney will be protected.

It will reduce the barriers to family members who apply to be appointed statutory guardians. It will broaden the categories of family members who can apply to become statutory guardians. It will simplify the rules for making and using powers of attorney and it will clearly establish the government as the substitute decision-maker of last resort for people who have no one else to make decisions on their behalf.

I would like to highlight the key elements of the new Health Care Consent Act, which is included in Bill 19. Underlying the important changes this government is making to the law under the Consent to Treatment Act is our fundamental belief that health care professionals will act in the best interests of their patients. The Health Care Consent Act will eliminate the adversarial barriers between patients and providers, promote the role of the family in the treatment of mentally incapable relatives and reduce the bureaucratic red tape that can delay treatment.

Some of the major improvements to the law are that it promotes the role of the family in the care and treatment of their mentally incapable relatives; it reflects this government's fundamental belief that health practitioners will act in the best interests of their patients; and it streamlines the process for substitute decision-making for incapable persons.

It reduces bureaucratic red tape and complicated rules that can delay treatment for mentally incapable people. It eliminates the need to apply the act to treatments that carry little or no risk. It establishes a streamlined process for admissions to long-term care facilities and to personal assistance plans for residents of such facilities.

My colleague the Minister of Health will be speaking in greater detail about these and other improvements to the consent law.

I will now turn to the amendments to the Substitute Decisions Act. The Substitute Decisions Act was intended to create a set of rules for decision-making for mentally incapable people. The law prior to the Substitute Decisions Act had gaps and inconsistencies that confounded some of Ontario's most distinguished legal counsel. While the Substitute Decisions Act was intended to codify much of the common law and bring it into the 1990s, it produced a complex web of rules that were difficult for everyone to follow.


Hon Mr Harnick: You know, Madam Speaker, it's too bad that the member for Cochrane South has absolutely no interest in protecting individuals in his riding who have to deal with the Substitute Decisions Act.

Mr Gilles Bisson (Cochrane South): Point of order, Madam Speaker.

The Acting Speaker (Ms Marilyn Churley): Could the Attorney General have his seat, please. I have a point of order.

Mr Bisson: I realize the member hasn't been here for a long, long amount of time, but he would know that you don't have the right in this chamber to impute motives on to another member. I do care about people in my riding, and especially those affected by this draconian bill that you're bringing forward.

The Acting Speaker: Would the Attorney General continue, please. That is not a point of order.

Hon Mr Harnick: The Substitute Decisions Act brought in by the last government was intended to codify much of the common law, which, as I said a moment ago, confounded even legal scholars. The intent of the Substitute Decisions Act was to bring the law into the 1990s, but the Substitute Decisions Act, as brought in by the last government, produced a complex web of rules that, again, were difficult to follow by those learned in the law, but even more important, and significantly more important, by those who had to rely on using the rules pertaining to substitute decision-making and powers of attorney and guardianship.


As an MPP during the time the Substitute Decisions Act became law, I spoke to literally hundreds of members of the public in my riding of Willowdale who found this act too confusing and too complicated. Even before it became law, many members of the public were alarmed and needlessly frightened because of its complexity.

Mr Gilles Pouliot (Lake Nipigon): They were picking up forms by the hundreds, as you know.

The Acting Chair: The member for Lake Nipigon.

Hon Mr Harnick: They were picking up forms by the hundreds, and he's right. He's right that they were picking up forms because they were afraid of the act and they were afraid of what would happen if they didn't have those forms.

It was a very good thing that they were picking up the forms, and I'm going to continue to encourage that, but I do believe that what we have done with the bill takes away the fear of the last government's piece of legislation. I know that every member on that side, when they went around their ridings to talk about substitute decisions, heard about the fear that people had, and I'm going to go into that very briefly.

During my consultations with my constituents in Willowdale on this law, I came to understand that it does not work as well as it could because its procedures are hard to follow. It also allows the government to intervene too much in people's affairs, and that's people's private affairs. It's my privilege to be able to address these problems by amending the Substitute Decisions Act.

Let me deal with the issue of powers of attorney. I have an important message for all citizens about powers of attorney. The act that we are now amending, the Substitute Decisions Act, allows a person to plan ahead by making a continuing power of attorney for property and a power of attorney for personal care. These can be very important and valuable documents. They allow an individual to appoint someone he or she trusts to make decisions if he or she becomes mentally incapable. I want to assure all Ontarians that these amendments will not invalidate existing powers of attorney.

Over the past few years, many citizens have planned ahead, as the member across the way shouted to me, by making powers of attorney, and this is a good idea. We had forms and kits and we will continue to have forms and kits so that they can do this without the necessity, in most cases, of dealing with a lawyer. We are not interfering in any way with these plans that people have made by preparing their own powers of attorney, so I repeat that existing powers of attorney will not be affected in an adverse way by the amendments that we are now bringing in.

It is an unfortunate reality that mental incapacity could happen to any one of us or to people we care about. I urge everyone in this province who hasn't done so to plan ahead. Acting now will ensure that your wishes are honoured, and that is very much the direction our amendments take. They are to ensure that the wishes of those who make powers of attorney will be honoured and that no one will be able to step in and take over from the power of attorney that people appoint to look after their affairs.

I would now like to talk a little bit more specifically about some of the improvements we are making to the Substitute Decisions Act. Our changes will preserve the good intentions of the act and address the flaws that undermine those intentions. The Substitute Decisions Act, the old act we are amending, is supposed to recognize and honour the choices individuals make when they are mentally capable. However, in practice it can frustrate them, thus causing the fear every member in this Legislature has heard about as a result of the original Substitute Decisions Act.

For example, currently under the act passed by the former government, an individual can make a continuing power of attorney and appoint a trusted family member or friend to look after his or her property. But later on he or she might be formally assessed and found incapable. At this point, the government would automatically step in and take over management of his or her property. To get back permission to manage the property, the person appointed to manage that person's property and affairs would have to apply to the public guardian and trustee.

This is an unacceptable level of government intervention in the private affairs of our citizens. We are addressing the legitimate concerns about this process that were raised by people all over the province. I can tell you that I spoke to hundreds of people at seminars I gave on the Substitute Decisions Act in my riding who were more fearful about this particular aspect of the Substitute Decisions Act than of any other provision.

We are therefore amending the Substitute Decisions Act so that a continuing power of attorney for property will not be terminated when a person becomes mentally incapable. Ontarians have asked the government to stay out of their private financial affairs, and we are responding. We are going to honour the wishes people make when they sign their power of attorney appointing someone to look after them in the event that they should become incapable.

The Substitute Decisions Act was a step forward because it created new opportunities for individuals to plan ahead in case they became mentally incapable, by allowing them to make a power of attorney for personal care. The existing procedures for using such a power of attorney, if the need should arise, are expensive, time-consuming and complicated. They involve getting the power of attorney validated by obtaining two capacity assessments, filing these and a detailed guardianship plan with the public guardian and trustee, and then waiting for an advocate to visit the incapable person to give him or her rights advice.

Even after the attorney who has been appointed goes through this process, a confused, incapable person is allowed to stop the power of attorney from being used, contrary to that person's wishes when they were well and providing for the orderly management of that individual's personal care which they made when they were well. In reality, to be able to stop this orderly planning that a person can become involved with, and should become involved with, makes a power of attorney for personal care of little use to most people. No one wants that result.

Accordingly, the government is amending the old act, the Substitute Decisions Act, to make it easier for everyone to use these important and valuable powers of attorney for personal care.

The government will no longer be in the business of validating powers of attorney for personal care. Attorneys acting for incapable people will not be required to go through an elaborate procedure just to get formal acknowledgement of their authority to act on behalf of the incapable person. The power of attorney will speak for itself.

It was always intended that the public guardian and trustee should be the substitute decision-maker of last resort, only for those persons who have no one available to make decisions on their behalf. The old act, the Substitute Decisions Act, passed by the previous government does not go far enough in this regard.

As I said earlier, powers of attorney could be terminated when a person was found mentally incapable, resulting in the public guardian and trustee taking over management of a person's property.

Further, only the attorney or family members such as a spouse, partner, parent or child were allowed to apply to the public guardian and trustee to replace it as an incapable person's statutory guardian. This process was supposed to allow them to look after the property of their incapable relatives without having to go to the trouble and expense of an application to court.

But there are lots of other family members, such as grandchildren, nieces and nephews or in-laws, who care very much for incapable people. Right now, they are prohibited by the law from becoming statutory guardians.

We know that families do not begin and end with parents, children or siblings. We are supporting incapable people and the family members who care for them by amending the Substitute Decisions Act, the old act, to allow any relative to apply to become a statutory guardian. This will include persons related by blood, marriage or adoption.


We are also amending the act to give direction to the court that it should not appoint the public guardian and trustee when there is another suitable person available and willing to be guardian. This way the public guardian and trustee will truly remain the last resort.

There is another flaw in the old act, the prior government's Substitute Decisions Act, which we are amending, and that flaw creates an irrational barrier for family members who want to help an incapable person. A person assessed and found incapable of managing property can refuse statutory guardianship of the property or end it at any time, even though he or she remains incapable and in need of help.

This is not right. It requires family members to go to court to be allowed to resume management of the property. In the meantime, it places the person and property at risk.

This government is amending the act to provide that a statutory guardianship will only be terminated when the person is found to be capable again of managing property or by court order.

Being an attorney or a guardian can be a lot of responsibility and involve many hours of work. I wish to acknowledge the dedication and care that many people demonstrate in acting as attorneys or guardians. We want to support their efforts and encourage others to do this work.

That is why we are amending the Substitute Decisions Act to make it easier for people who act as guardians and attorneys. For example, they will continue to have to keep records, but will not be required to produce a separate, detailed report every year.

In addition, the existing act says that a guardian cannot admit a mentally ill person to a psychiatric hospital, if he or she objects, without a special court order. Often the need for this will not have been anticipated at the time the guardian went to court. A further trip to court is an unnecessary and even potentially harmful barrier to care, and we are removing it.

The current Substitute Decisions Act attempted to strike a balance between rights and protection. An individual's right to control his or her own life and the need for society to protect mentally incapable people are equally important principles. Rather than achieving a balance that addresses everyone's needs, the existing law frequently places them in conflict. In making laws, we should be looking for ways to reduce conflict in people's lives wherever that is possible. A system out of balance serves no one.

In introducing this bill to amend the Substitute Decisions Act, this government is acting to create the proper balance, and that is: to honour the wishes and choices of capable persons and to provide assistance, support and care to those who are mentally incapable.

No longer will powers of attorney be terminated just because a person has become mentally incapable. No longer will an incapable, potentially seriously ill person be able to unknowingly obstruct treatment or assistance simply by refusing to accept the use of his or her power of attorney or guardianship of his or her property.

We are recognizing that people can be trusted to make good decisions. They trust in their family and friends as well as this government to ensure that they will receive the assistance and protection they will desperately need when they become incapable.

The amendments to the Substitute Decisions Act honour certain principles:

They honour the principle that this government is committed to honouring private financial arrangements under powers of attorney.

We are making it easier for more family members to become guardians of property without having to go to court.

We are reducing the barriers to family members who apply to be appointed as statutory guardians.

We are making it easier to use a power of attorney for personal care.

We are making it easier for people to act as attorneys and guardians.

We are making sure that the office of the public guardian and trustee is used as a last resort.

We are making sure that incapable people get rights information without interference and delay.

We are improving the government's commitment to protect incapable people from abuse.

We are encouraging the community to get involved with helping incapable adults.

In closing, this legislative package reduces government interference in people's lives and puts decision-making where it belongs: in the hands of individuals and their families. Anyone who campaigned in the last election knows and any member of this Legislature who held seminars in his or her riding knows the fear that was instilled in people by the former Substitute Decisions Act.

It was a good act and it was a good start. What we are doing is responding to the wishes of families and family members who believe that with these improvements we will have an act that strikes the proper balance between families who want to look after their incapable loved ones and the role of the government as the last resort to get involved in people's private affairs.

We're responding to the province-wide expressions of concern and confusion following the proclamation of the previous legislation. We have listened and now we are taking action. Once again our government is living up to the commitments we made prior to being elected.

The Acting Speaker (Mr Gilles E. Morin): Are there any questions or comments?

Mr Bisson: I'm going to take time later on in this debate to participate more fully, but I want to make a couple of points on the heels of the comments made by the Attorney General.

I want to say two things to the government. First of all, we've got a government here that's been elected and has come into the House and over the first part of its term has done nothing in terms of introducing any new legislation. In fact, what they're doing is an agenda of repealing legislation from the previous government.

Mr Marcel Beaubien (Lambton): We have to clean up the mess before we start building.

Mr Bisson: I want you to listen to this. You should pay attention, because you're setting one heck of a precedent in this House. A government was duly elected by the people of Ontario -- or if it happened in any jurisdiction, for that matter -- and in good faith, after consultations with the people it represents throughout this province, put in place legislation to respond to a number of concerns. For a government to be elected after that and start repealing one piece of legislation after another and basically doing away with someone else's agenda sets one heck of a precedent for other governments that come after to do the same thing, and the next time possibly to come back with an omnibus bill wiping out the entire work of a government over a period of four or five years. You're setting a very dangerous precedent here, and it's something we're going to get an opportunity to speak about at greater length later.

The only other thing I would like to say on the bill at this point is that the Attorney General talked about the power of attorney and how it had put fear into a number of people across the province of Ontario. I was one member who was very, very active in his community, meeting with seniors and with all kinds of different people on the question of the power of attorney, and at no time at any of the public meetings -- I've had some where 300 people showed up -- were people in fear after it was explained what this was all about. They understood it to be what it was: an easing of the process so somebody can attain a power of attorney and not have to sit in your lawyer's office and pay the lawyer anywhere from $50 to $300 to get the power of attorney.

Mr David Tilson (Dufferin-Peel): I'd like to congratulate the Attorney General for being so prompt in honouring a commitment this government made during the election campaign.

The previous speaker mentioned a number of things, but if he talked to his electorate, one of many things the electorate was concerned about was how the government was getting into the face of private families.

People wanted to administer their children's problems, their parents' problems, and they were simply bowled over by this terrible legislation that created an $18-million bureaucracy called the Advocacy Commission. One of the main purposes of this legislation is to get rid of that unnecessary expense that was put forward by the last government.

I can tell you that in my riding, and I'm sure in many of the ridings of members throughout this House, one of the concerns -- we had hearings trying to explain this legislation. Nobody could understand it, and that's the second thing this legislation is going to do, as put forward by the Attorney General: clarify much of the confusion that has been put forward. The chaos that was created for people in the medical profession, in long-term care, and particularly people like the schizophrenic associations, they were completely lost by this legislation. They were overwhelmed by the unnecessary confusion.


The Advocacy Commission, as I indicated, was creating such things as advocates -- no one really knew what they were -- who were literally interfering in the private lives of individuals. The cost of that commission was, within the first eight months I believe of the commission's existence, something to the extent of $18 million.

I congratulate the Attorney General for being so prompt in responding to a very serious social problem.

Mrs Margaret Marland (Mississauga South): I too would like to congratulate the Attorney General, not only for this legislation but for the promptness with which he and his staff have been able to deliver this bill to this House.

The Attorney General mentioned that if some of us held public meetings and public forums on the previous Advocacy Act we certainly were made aware by the public of their major concerns and questions about some aspects of that legislation. Certainly, some aspects of that legislation were very good. The direction was very good, and overall I guess we can say that it was well-meaning and it was well-intentioned. However, it did need some changes, and these are the changes that are now before this House.

I would say simply to the member for Cochrane South that when he says governments are duly elected with a responsibility, he's absolutely right. When the NDP ran for election in 1990, they didn't talk about what they would do in terms of advocacy and consent, and yet they passed a bill -- in fact, it became effective in April of this year -- that caused a lot of questions and consequently a lot of concerns.

But this government, this Mike Harris Conservative government, was elected with a mandate, because in our Common Sense Revolution we said what our concerns were and we also said what changes we would make, and we were elected with a mandate of 82 members, I'm proud to say. I'm happy that today another piece of legislation which was promised in our campaign is being fulfilled.

Mrs Helen Johns (Huron): I would just like to take a minute to thank again the Mike Harris government for bringing about this act. There are some very important health care considerations in this act that needed to be addressed and have been done in this act.

What we have tried to do is take away the adversarial barriers that were put up in the previous act and try and make people aware of the fact that they are in charge of their own health care. What we are saying is that we're going to eliminate the intrusive bureaucracy that came about through the last act and we're going to restore the role of the family in the care and treatment of their family and their close family members. It's very important to us to allow the family to make the decisions about what they believe is right for their family. This Health Care Consent Act does that for us.

This consent act also talks about the health care practitioner. It is important for us to restore the faith that people like us have in their health care professionals. We have to have a belief that they're acting in our best interests, that they're giving us the information that we need and they will continue to do that to ensure that they act with us and our families to make the best use of the health care industry and the treatments that we as people need.

Some of the other things that this act does is it restores hope in the profession, it reduces red tape and it restores balance between individuals' rights and the need for care and treatment. It's a good act. People in Ontario will be happy to have health care that allows them to make decisions for their families, and I'm sure that in the long run everyone, as they read this bill, will be very happy from the health perspective.

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

Hon Mr Harnick: These amendments, particularly the amendments that I am directly responsible for, which are the amendments to the Substitute Decisions Act, are amendments that were spawned as a result of the fear that people had, and every one of the members of this Legislature heard what those fears were.

I held seminars prior to the last election across my riding and literally spoke to more than a thousand people. The recurring theme at every one of these seminars was, "The only reason we are preparing a power of attorney is to protect us against the government, and even at that, the government can still step in and replace the person we choose as our attorney with the public guardian and trustee."

What I want to tell people in the province of Ontario is that we have remedied this act by making amendments and proposing amendments that I hope will become law very soon to ensure that the wishes of someone who appointed an individual to be their attorney cannot be overturned in any circumstances and thereby inject the government, in the form of the public guardian and trustee, to take over the management of their affairs. More than anything else, this is the keynote part of this bill.

In addition, we've expanded the availability of family members and the numbers who can participate in volunteering to look after their loved ones, and we've made it easier for them to do that.

This bill is a direct response to what the people of Ontario were telling us. There is no longer any reason to fear.

The Acting Speaker: Further debate?

Mrs Elinor Caplan (Oriole): Mr Speaker, there has been agreement, unanimous consent, that myself and the additional critic can share the 90-minute opener. I'll be beginning for our party.

The Acting Speaker: Is there unanimous consent? Agreed.

Mrs Caplan: Actually, the legislation that is before us, known as Bill 19, is something that I care a great deal about and that I've had extensive experience with. The issues of the Substitute Decisions Act, the Consent to Treatment Act and the Advocacy Act were something that took a great deal of my time in a former life as the Minister of Health for the province of Ontario from 1987 until 1990.

While the Attorney General has carriage of this bill, and the Substitute Decisions Act clearly appears to be a justice bill, the Consent to Treatment Act and the Advocacy Act have their roots grounded in the Ministry of Health as well as the Ministry of Community and Social Services.

So today what I thought I would do, to help explain what's going on to the people of the province who are watching this and wondering what the rhetoric is all about, is to try and cut through some of the rhetoric and deal with a little bit of the history of the legislation and the changes that we are seeing today, some of which I support, some of which we will be proposing amendments to when it gets to committee and some of which we frankly have concerns about.

But I want to say at the beginning of the debate that while we reserve the right at committee -- and I've had the assurance of the government that this will go to committee -- to identify areas where we have concern, propose amendments and, at the end of the day, if the government hasn't responded to those concerns, to not support the package of legislation, since this is a second reading debate, my caucus will be supporting the package of legislation in principle on second reading. I wanted to say that up front so that while we get into the substance of the discussion and the debate, that is clear.


The package of legislation that is before us comes from years of identified need to address some very specific and fundamental issues. The package of legislation was required because prior to the legislation that was presented by the previous government, the NDP Rae government, there was no comprehensive legislation that dealt exclusively with areas of consent to treatment. You did have some dealt with under the Mental Health Act, some under the Child and Family Services Act under the responsibility of the Ministry of Community and Social Services, and some under the Public Hospitals Act, Ministry of Health.

Prior to the legislation that was tabled, you could not appoint anyone to make decisions for you, if you became incapable, for the purposes of health and personal care decisions. You could appoint someone, you could have a power of attorney, for financial services and financial responsibility. That has been the law in Ontario for quite some time. But as medical treatments have become more complex, and also the whole notion of living wills, something that people felt strongly they wanted to be able to give, pre-determination -- that is, instructions while they were still able -- was not possible in Ontario.

So it was deemed necessary to have legislation, called the substitute decisions legislation, which brought up to date the power of attorney legislation for financial and property, and brought in a new right, which was the right to designate someone, while you are capable, who will make decisions for you when you are deemed incapable and incompetent.

Further, and one of the features that I feel is particularly important in the substitute decisions legislation, is that it allows me or you, anyone in this province who is able and capable and deemed competent, to give advance directives. In other words, you can place restrictions, you can tell them what you want, and the person you designate to make decisions for you says they must follow the direction that you have given. So we have the substitute decisions legislation. I will be dealing with that as we go through.

I understand that the Attorney General's parliamentary assistant, Mr Tilson, is going to be sitting in during the debate. That's great.

Back to my thought. So the substitute decision legislation was enacted. I held forums in my riding. People were very pleased to know that they had a new right, and that was the right to a power of attorney. Many of them believed that a power of attorney had to be an attorney and that an attorney under the legislation was a lawyer. In fact, what they found out was that anyone they appointed was called their attorney. From there, they learned a great deal about this new right to decide who would decide when they were unable to decide.

But just as the Attorney General mentioned, there were also a great number of fears about how this would work. Was it complicated? Did they need to see a lawyer? Did they need to spend money to have this done? What would happen if they hadn't signed a power of attorney? Those issues were very important to be cleared up, and frankly, one of the things that I said when I held those forums is that no piece of legislation is ever perfect, and only until it is in practice do you see what amendments are needed.

From my review of Bill 19, the amendments to the Substitute Decisions Act are primarily technical. They respond to the concerns that people had that the government would not intervene unnecessarily or unduly, that if a power of attorney were made, it would be supreme, and it clarifies very appropriately the concerns that people had about the way the legislation was functioning.

What the substitute decision amendments do I think is very important, because what this is all about is simplicity. This new piece of legislation simplifies the process for appointing and activating powers of attorney. That's important. People don't want it to be complicated. What it does is it makes the public guardian and trustee's office the last-resort decision-maker.

People need to know that there's always going to be that office of the public guardian and trustee as a last resort, but no one wants the government interfering in their business if there is someone -- a member of their family or a friend -- who can come forward and take on that responsibility. I think it's important that "member of family" was amended to include in-laws, because very frequently it is not the blood relation who becomes the caregiver and who looks after the individual. That's a very positive amendment.

As I begin my comments, I want to point out that in this House I've stood in my place and I've said to the Minister of Health and to the government that when you do something that I believe is in the public interest and I believe is good, I'll stand in my place and I will say that is in the public interest. I believe that your amendments to the substitute decisions legislation are in the public interest and they are substantially good amendments. I'll be looking forward to reviewing them in more detail at committee.

I'm not going to spend too much more time. It does take from the legislation references to advocates. I also think that is appropriate, especially given your decision on advocacy. However, I will be dealing with my own views regarding advocates and advocacy and that legislation in just a few minutes.

As I move from the substitute decisions legislation to the consent legislation, I thought I would take a few minutes to read into the record once again the principles that guided the policy development. What's really key about this is that those principles were agreed to by all of those who were consulted, by the public and all of those who said, "Are these the right principles that consent and advocacy legislation and guardianship and substitute decisions legislation should be founded on?"

To this day I have not found anyone who says these are the wrong principles, so I'll put them on the record and perhaps digress as I read them to give my interpretation to them. I would note that the substitute decisions legislation was supported by all three parties in the Legislature in the last session. I did want to make that point that we did support it then and we support the amendments now.

"Principle 1" for the development of policy for consent to treatment and advocacy is that the legislation should "Apply to all health care professionals, to all health services and in all health settings."

That, I think, speaks for itself. What you really want is some comprehensive policies so that you're not treated differently if you are in a psychiatric hospital or in a general hospital or in a community clinic, that wherever you happen to be seeking your treatment the same rights and obligations apply.

"Principle 2: Set out the elements that constitute a valid consent -- that an individual be mentally competent and give a voluntary and informed consent."

There has been much debate and over the years there had been numerous horror stories. While I listened to some of the rhetoric side, I want them to remember and perhaps go to the legislative library and look up the report by Fram, the report by O'Sullivan and the report by Manson. Those were the three reports. Each one identified a need for policy in this important area, and there were examples of human suffering because it wasn't as simple as leaving it to the family, it wasn't as simple as trying to define competency.

At this point I would like to applaud the work of Dr David Weisstub, the work that he's done in determining competency. This is an issue that has plagued mankind for many, many years. As we have seen psychiatric care and mental health services evolve from the days of the snake pit, we should not ever believe that we can be lax about our determination to make sure that people are treated humanely and fairly and, wherever possible, have the right to object to the treatments that they are receiving. There's always been a need for finding that balance. I'm not sure that we have appropriately found that balance to this point in time and it's probably something that we will struggle with as time goes on.


"Principle 3: Specifies that individuals under age 16 are deemed incompetent to consent to health services, but that presumption may be rebutted based on the mental competency of a patient between the ages of 12 and 16."

I know this particular principle was one that was hotly debated in this House, and I know even at the cabinet table, as to where that line should be drawn. This legislation does not propose any amendments to the age, and I think that's right. The legislation as it exists and as it is on the books, let it be tested is my view. Let's see how it works. Let's not interfere with something that doesn't appear to be broken at this point. There are always those who will argue and debate as to what the appropriate age level is.

"Principle 4: Permits health care providers to determine the mental competency of a patient."

Perhaps this was the place where I should have complimented David Weisstub. The literature is there. It is always necessary to allow the patient to object to findings of incompetency, and that is where you need to have the Consent and Capacity Board -- it's now called the board; it was the review board -- where people who say -- for example, there are some who would say to me, "Eleanor, we don't think you're mentally competent," and I would like to be able to say: "I think I am. Give me the opportunity to prove that."

We've heard the horror stories about families who want to put old Aunt Nellie away and take over her estate before she's gone, and those are the stories that we've heard too. Let's have someone declared incompetent and take over their lives, both their financial resources and their ability to make their own decisions about what they want when it comes to health care. You know, let's stick them in an institution. Let's force them into a nursing home.

Well, for some people who feel they are able and capable and competent to live in the community, the family should not be able, in my view, to force them against their will into an institution. So you have to have in place those rights and procedures to often protect the individual from those who may be very well meaning and think they know best, but as long as the individual is competent and able to say what they want, even where there are risks involved -- even where there are risks involved -- my own view is that the right of the individual should be supreme in these matters as long as they're not placing themselves in serious jeopardy, and I think that principle is contained in this legislation.

"Principle 5: Provides for a review board (similar to that established under the Mental Health Act)" -- now to be called the Consent and Capacity Board -- "to make the following decisions, as well as an appeal to a court from such decisions: (a) a finding of mental incompetency; (b) a decision by a substitute decision-maker to admit a mentally incompetent person to a health care facility to receive health services in the manner set out in the Mental Health Act for informal patients between the ages of 12 and 16."

"Principle 6: Establish who is authorized to give substitute consent when a person is determined to be mentally incompetent."

It provides that a guardian would be listed first and the person named in a durable power of attorney would be named second, again guarding the rights of the individual. What we have is the substitute decisions legislation which codified that principle and that desire.

"Principle 7: Provides that a substitute decision-maker may only consent to therapeutic health services and, therefore, excludes all non-therapeutic procedures from the legislation."

I believe that those debates have been important and that the state should not interfere in clinical decision-making, but the individual has a right to know, and I'll be dealing with that in just a moment.

"Principle 9: Establishes provisions for `living wills' -- permitting mentally competent persons to draw up a durable power of attorney naming a person who will consent to health services if he/she becomes mentally incompetent. Permits individuals to state limits on the type of health services desired or refused."

That is the substitute decisions legislation, and I believe that is good.

"Principle 10: Provides for an exception to consent to health services allowing a health care professional to provide health care services without consent where an individual is unconscious or otherwise incompetent and the patient has expressed no contrary intention."

This is quite controversial, but I have always believed that it is very important for providers of health services to be able to act in an emergency, and this legislation removes liability from those who do.

I will tell a story at this time, a very unfortunate story. I don't blame it on the legislation. I blame it on lack of education and information to the providers, because I believe that the old legislation that is being amended by the new consent legislation should have permitted treatment to be given, because under the old legislation treatment could be permitted where the patient was deemed to be in imminent danger, where it was an emergency, and that was a clinical judgement.

The Clemens family has had a tragedy. Their son, developmentally handicapped, had a tremendous fear of doctors and of hospitals, but he was subject to, unfortunately, recurring episodes of bowel impaction. He went to the hospital and on one occasion he was deemed incompetent, and they went on another occasion, after this legislation was proclaimed, and he refused treatment.

But it was clear, I believe, to the parents, who begged for treatment, that the son did not understand the implications of treatment refusal, and in that case he was probably incompetent once again. Treatment was withheld until a senior physician came in and examined the boy and ordered the treatment, but the boy died of heart failure -- a tragic, tragic case.

The Clemens family are constituents of mine, and I said to them that it has always been difficult to advise people to see a lawyer in these kinds of situations but I advised that they do that, because I felt the law was clear that emergency treatment could be delivered. Most doctors should, in my view, when they believe that someone's life hangs in the balance, risk the lawsuit against treatment against will rather than risk a coroner's inquest and death.

I wanted to just tell that story because, as I said, I'm not sure that the existing legislation changes that balance in a way which is positive, and I do worry that treatment can still be denied. I worry that professionals will not inform incompetent patients or patients they have deemed incompetent of their right and that we will see people have treatments imposed on them that they really don't want and that are not life-threatening.

So there is a balance and a line, and while I told the one story you would think, "Well, she's going to support giving absolute right of treatment," but we have to look at this in a very thoughtful way and make sure that professionals cannot impose treatment on individuals who don't want it, reasonably, and as long as the patient fully understands the implications of the risk. Perhaps there has to be some way of responding to that desire, what I call the right to refuse treatment, if you are competent to know what the outcome may be.

That's what we deal with in living wills, where people can give advance directive that says, "I only want treatment for pain" or "I don't want treatment unless it's treatment for cure." Unfortunately, I worry about how we have drawn that line about the right to impose treatment versus the right to refuse treatment. There are some who would argue it's the right to be well versus the right to be sick, and I understand the concerns of organizations such as the Ontario Friends of Schizophrenics. I believe that we have to make sure that line provides appropriate care appropriately and that people are treated and are able to be well.


Those who are able to give advance directive of what will happen when they're incompetent solve that problem for all of us, but there will always be that issue. I just wanted to raise that in this House today, because I feel very strongly that we have to constantly struggle with that balance. If any of you think you have found the solution or that you're right and there's a definitive answer, there is not. I wish there were.

The other principle I'd like to place on the record -- I believe I'm at principle 11 -- provides for notification to be given to mentally incompetent patients of their rights and provides advocacy mechanisms to enable patients to exercise those rights. That leads us into a discussion of the advocacy legislation. Before I leave the area of consent, there are a few things I would like to say about consent to treatment.

The consent to treatment allows a person to select a substitute decision-maker, and that's the tie-in with the substitute decisions legislation. It eliminates all the requirements that rights advice or notices respecting rights advice be provided.

I did not support the previous Consent to Treatment Act and I did not support the advocacy legislation because I felt it was bureaucratic, legalistic, adversarial, anti-professional, that it was cumbersome and extremely costly, in fact unaffordable.

I'm not one who too often says "I told you so," but I would like to put on the record comments I made February 7, 1995. I said:

"I have some very serious concerns about the three pieces of legislation that are before us," referring to consent, advocacy and substitute decisions, "because what I see is the development of a huge bureaucracy, at enormous cost, at the expense of service. Unless those issues are addressed, my own view on the models that have been identified, particularly for advocacy successors, rights advisers and all that, is that the population may not get the services it requires simply because there are no additional or new resources out there.

"Given the deficit and debt situation the province is facing, no one clearly has a reasonable expectation that there are pots of new money or money trees. In trying to move it from one place to another, you're not going to have the resources necessary" to provide for the costly advocacy model that the previous, NDP government put in place.

I say that's unfortunate, because Fram's report, O'Sullivan's report and Manson's report all identified a definite need for advocacy services. We already have advocacy support through the provincial Psychiatric Patient Advocate Office, which is located at the Ministry of Health. We have advocates around the province who are doing what they can in many different ways. Many of them are social workers.

My view was always that an advocacy office -- you could call it a commission or whatever -- didn't have to be expensive, didn't have to be bureaucratic; that you could make sure people knew what their rights were, and if they required the intervention of an advocate, there were ways of providing it that were cost-effective, in fact inexpensive.

Most hospitals have patients' rights advisers. Those are advocates; they're there already. My view was always that the consent to treatment legislation -- extremely important -- shouldn't be bureaucratic. You don't need rights advisers coming in at great expense; you could use the existing personnel and you could develop an advocacy office that would do the education, both for providers and consumers, in a very inexpensive way.

I despair that this legislation removes all advocacy services, removes all rights advice. One of the concerns I have and one of the amendments we will be proposing at committee is a right-to-know clause. Individuals must be told what their rights are. They must be told whether they are competent or incompetent. It's much easier, of course, to have a conversation with someone you think is competent, but as I said before, someone might think I'm not competent and I might want to argue about that and there is a review board in place to do that. But if I don't know that's possible, how can I take advantage of that opportunity? I believe everyone has the right to know.

I also believe there's a way of doing that at no cost. I'm glad the Minister of Health is here, and I hope he will consider this suggestion. There are professional colleges for the regulated health professions and they have been given responsibility to regulate the professions. They have also been given the authority in areas such as sexual harassment, sexual impropriety, to develop guidelines and procedures and protocols. I believe it would be very appropriate to include in the consent to treatment legislation an obligation that the colleges develop clinical guidelines and that the profession is then held accountable for following that right-to-know obligation. It costs nothing; in fact, it fosters communication between the professional and the patient, and that's what you want in informed consent.

There have been court cases and difficulties for many health providers where it was deemed that they had not been given proper information and that consent had not been given. It's my view that there are some safeguards we can put in that would safeguard the providers. If you spoke to the governing colleges, I think that is something they could do. It is within their mandate. It would not be government intrusion. It's not bureaucratic. I believe the colleges could establish those kinds of clinical guidelines to make sure that providers have an obligation to let people know what their rights are.

I will be putting forward that amendment. I would be happy if the government chose to put forward that amendment, and we would support it. It is important that people know what their rights are so they can exercise those rights.

There are a few other things being done in the consent to treatment legislation that I think are positive, and I want to put that on the record. It clarifies the permission for emergency treatment without the consent of an incapable person or of an apparently capable person if there are language barriers. I think that's good. In an emergency situation, if the individual doesn't understand, even if you think they're capable but you can't communicate with them -- there's no way you can get translation for them -- to deny them treatment because you can't communicate with them is not in their interests.

That's a very important addition to this legislation. It will apply only to emergency situations, and I hope it won't be used too often. But in a highly multicultural society where so many of the elderly have language barriers and may not have someone with them who can explain it to them, there has to be the opportunity to give them the treatment they need in a timely manner. I think that's positive, and clarifying the permission to treat and the lack of liability if you treat in good faith in an emergency I think would mean that the Clemens situation would never happen again, because it gives comfort to the profession. I don't think it should have happened under the old legislation, but this does clarify it.

The other thing it does that I think will be a little controversial, but that I support, actually, is that it allows consent to apply to fewer treatments. It exempts anything that is considered to be no-risk or low-risk. I think it was always intended that you would get consent for anything that was going to hurt you and have potential harm. The notion of risk of harm is very clear in the regulated health professions legislation, so to see it repeated here is something I support.

The fact that this legislation streamlines the procedure for substitute decision-making as well as the treatment for incapable people and a review process for people who decide to dispute a finding of incapacity is also good. I've been very impressed with the functioning of the Consent and Capacity Review Board. The fact that you want to change its name to Consent and Capacity Board is just fine with me. I would like you to give them the authority, which they don't have now, very specifically to do two things which I think might be a first step in the area of providing support for those in need of advocacy services and those in need of education, primarily the professionals, and policy development.

My proposal is as follows: Because most everyone believes that this kind of policy development is best done by an independent body, I think the Consent and Capacity Board is the right place to do it. You could have an office of advocacy established. You don't need a lot of people. You could have an advisory committee. All of the advocate organizations who are grieving over the loss of the Advocacy Commission I think would be happy to participate on a voluntary basis to see that advocacy services which already exist could be coordinated, that the role would be to identify what's out there, where the gaps in services are, see that policy was developed. While I use the word "office," I don't mean big; I mean small. I believe most of it could be done voluntarily by existing organizations and with very few resources that are already available with that Consent and Capacity Board.

The Acting Speaker: It being 6 of the clock, this House stands adjourned until 10 of the clock tomorrow morning.

The House adjourned at 1800.