36th Parliament, 1st Session

L029 - Thu 23 Nov 1995 / Jeu 23 Nov 1995



































































The House met at 1002.




Mrs Munro moved private member's notice of motion number 4:

That, in the opinion of this House, the government of Ontario should amend the Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act, 1987 and the Municipal Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act, 1987 to prevent vexatious, frivolous, abusive, time-consuming or costly requests that are clearly of a repetitious, systematic or malicious nature, without denying or restricting access if there is a legitimate reason for the request.

The Deputy Speaker (Mr Bert Johnson): The honourable member has 10 minutes.

Mrs Julia Munro (Durham-York): It is a privilege and an honour today to rise to comment briefly on what I consider to be one of the most basic rights of the people of Ontario: freedom of information.

Ontario's Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act came into effect on January 1, 1988, and applies to all provincial ministries and most provincial agencies, boards and commissions, as well as community colleges and district health councils.

The Municipal Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act came into effect on January 1, 1991, and applies to more than 2,200 local government organizations, including municipalities, school boards, public utilities, transit and police commissions, fire departments, conservation authorities, boards of health and other local boards.

Ontario's freedom of information and protection of privacy laws give an individual a right of access to most government-held information, including information about the individual. It is the responsibility of the Information and Privacy Commissioner to ensure an individual's right of access is protected.

While it is everyone's right to have access to information, I strongly believe that no individual or organization should be permitted to abuse our freedom of information laws.

At this point I want to stress that I recognize that most requests for information are legitimate and I do not want to deny or restrict access if there is a tenable reason for filing a request for information. However, we all know there are cases where an individual is obviously abusing Ontario's freedom of information laws and that ends up costing taxpayers.

Municipal and provincial government organizations, as well as individual members of the public, want to end the costly abuse of Ontario's freedom of information laws when certain applications can be clearly identified as nuisance requests sought only to annoy and distract municipal and provincial officials from performing their tasks.

For example, a man who deluged police forces with more than 770 requests under Ontario's freedom of information laws in less than two years is a nuisance who sought only to annoy and distract officers from their duties, according to legal counsel for the police forces of London, Sarnia and Windsor, as well as the Ontario Association of Chiefs of Police.

Some of the requests included the number of washroom facilities available for male and female police officers and cleaning schedules in police departments. Requests were made for information on alleged UFO sightings and a list of how much police officers eat and drink while on duty. Requests were made for detailed listings of all arrests made or charges laid by Metro Toronto police over a five-year period as well as a detailed listing of all arrests made over a 10-year period by London police.

Legal counsel for police told an information and privacy commission inquiry three months ago that the individual's requests were an endless harassment, a burden, and detracted the institutions from the very purpose they were mandated to do. He said the requests were an outrageous waste of taxpayers' money, a complete abuse of the process and an interference to legitimate requests.

A second example of an apparent abuse of our freedom of information laws involves a long-term patient at a maximum security mental health centre who inundated a municipality with more than 100 requests, including a demand for all of the township council's minutes dating back to the 1940s.

About five years ago this patient managed to get architectural blueprints for this maximum security hospital, which houses more than 100 schizophrenics, multiple murderers, rapists, paedophiles, arsonists and others. What does this patient do with all the information he collects? He shares it with private practice lawyers, other patients, the union representing hospital staff or the local media.


More than 15 regional municipalities endorsed a resolution calling for the province to clamp down on the patient's use of freedom of information laws. These municipalities believe the act was being used for something it wasn't intended for and it had the potential to seriously overburden small municipalities with limited staff.

Support for amending the freedom of information laws has also been expressed by municipalities in my own riding of Durham-York. At its meeting of November 14, 1995, the town of Whitchurch-Stouffville passed the following resolution:

"That the town of Whitchurch-Stouffville expresses its support for the position proposed by Julia Munro, MPP, in her private member's resolution to be debated in the Legislative Assembly on November 23 requesting amendments to the Municipal Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act to prevent vexatious, frivolous, abusive, costly requests."

At its meeting on November 13, the Whitchurch-Stouffville public library board moved its support for this amendment as well. The library board went on to indicate it questioned the mechanism that will be used to judge or determine what is considered to be vexatious, frivolous or abusive, and would like some clarification on who would be responsible for evaluating the requests. I intend to address these concerns later in my remarks.

The regional council of York also endorsed this resolution at its meeting on November 9:

"Whereas the Municipal Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act provides for the right of access by the public to certain information held by municipal institutions; and

"Whereas there have been occasional abuses of the legislation made by individuals through the use of frivolous and vexatious requests of a repetitive and systematic nature that interfere with the normal operations of the institution; and

"Whereas it would be advantageous for the act to be amended to address and prevent vexatious and nuisance requests as a means to curtail wasteful demands on the staff of municipal institutions and ultimately the taxpayer;

"Therefore, be it resolved that the regional municipality of York express its support for the position proposed by the member."

Also, the Georgina town council passed a similar resolution at its most recent meeting.

The town of Georgina also recognizes that the intent of the freedom of information laws is to ensure that all and every request by an individual for information is acted upon expeditiously, impartially and with the full cooperation of the municipal staff to assist the requester to find and retrieve the information requested. However, the legislation has been enacted with an extremely broad application, with no opportunity for the municipality to screen out vexatious and frivolous requests.

With respect to the Whitchurch-Stouffville public library board's concern about determining what requests should be considered, I believe Ontario's Information and Privacy Commissioner already has the authority and resources to make that determination. In fact the commissioner used that authority when he released an order on the issue of frivolous or vexatious requests on October 18, 1995, with respect to the individual I mentioned earlier.

The commissioner declared the individual in question to be engaged in a course of conduct which constitutes an abuse of the processes of government institutions and the commissioner's office. The commissioner invoked his authority under subsection 43(3) of the act to impose conditions on processing any of this individual's requests and appeals, now and for a specified time into the future.

The commissioner indicated he expected this would assist the individual in exercising self-discipline in prioritizing his concerns. It is my hope that the government will strengthen the commissioner's authority in this area and consider extending this same authority to municipal governments that currently do not have the power to screen out vexatious and frivolous requests.

In conclusion, I want to emphasize that I recognize that most requests for information are legitimate and I do not want to deny or restrict access if there is a tenable reason for filing a request for information. However, there are cases where an individual is obviously abusing Ontario's freedom of information laws.

I look forward to receiving your support of my private member's resolution to end the costly abuse of Ontario's freedom of information laws when certain applications can be clearly identified as nuisance requests sought only to annoy and distract municipal and provincial officials from performing their duties.

Mr Alvin Curling (Scarborough North): I appreciate the opportunity to speak on this private member's bill. It is quite interesting that it was presented by a member of the Tory government side.

In 1985, I got elected to this Parliament, and as far as I was concerned, this wonderful, august building, this powerful force here, was seen to be almost locked away from the public. I felt rather intimidated when I arrived here, and so did the Premier of the day, David Peterson, who got the feeling that the people felt this place was not for them and that the doors should be opened.

One experience I have had that will stay with me forever is the swearing-in ceremony outside on that lawn, where thousands and thousands of people saw cabinet ministers and individuals being sworn in, their people whom they had elected being reachable by the people. He opened the doors of this place and said we all should walk in:

"This place is your place. It's free; it's yours. It's yours to use, it's yours to ask. These individuals are people who have been elected and are accountable to you. Take away the mystery, the kind of myth that surrounds this place here, that they are untouchable, because these are the people who make the laws, the legislation and then enforce it upon you, who encroach upon your life, who take your money through taxation and spend it in a way that they say is good for you."

Then you ask whether it is right to ask the question: "How do you spend the money? What did you do with it? How many lunches did the cabinet ministers have and spend the taxpayers' money on?" They say, "Oh, that's rather frivolous." It was not frivolous to collect all those funds in taxes and then expend them, and then someone on the other side will judge if these are vexatious and frivolous.

I personally don't think it's frivolous at all. Once you take my money and say you're going to spend it and say you're going to be accountable and say you're going to make laws that are good for me, I have a right to ask those questions. Once I give you the responsibility, have elected you to protect the vulnerable in our society, I have to ask you, "How well are you doing that and why are you doing it and how much are you spending on that?"

You will feel that we could be busy doing other things, could be getting on with the job instead of finding out how many doughnuts the police officers have used. You would say that's rather frivolous. But we must take away that confusion, that mystery behind the ebb and flow of government information. There should not be any mystery at all.

If, of course, there are individuals in our society who feel that, "Yes, I'll do it just for my kicks," and it's costing the government and they are asking you to Xerox so many thousands of copies and what have you, charge these individuals. It's easy: Put a fee on it and say, "If you need that information, there should be a fee, because it takes time." But the information must be there.

This privacy we have, this secretiveness about information, should not be there, because the government must be accountable. Every one of us who comes here has the opportunity to ask the minister details about certain things he or she is responsible for; we can come and ask those questions. How does the individual in our society go about getting that information? It's through this kind of information process we have.

It's tedious, it's long and sometimes you will feel it's vexatious, but who judges that it's vexatious? It is the individuals who want the information who will judge whether or not it is vexatious. They said: "No, it's not vexatious. I need that information."


When I started to speak, I said it was interesting that the Conservative government now talks about how we should protect information and not be so open with it, because this is what I'm hearing: "Let us not be so open. It's so vexatious, it's so frivolous." But who set you up as judge to say these are vexatious and frivolous? Information that you may see as trivial may be very important to that individual who needs it, maybe a satisfaction to feel he's in a democratic society. Many times we feel we are in this democratic society but somehow we are so far from getting the truth or getting the real answers.

We must protect our democracy through that process, where I can take the phone up or I can request something through a form, a process. You know that process to request information is so tedious, takes so long -- and that's okay. Maybe it's necessary to protect some of the privacy of individuals. And it's important what we do with that information. There is a balance to it, of course, what we do with that information when we get it.

Therefore, we must make some sort of responsible judgement of how we dispense it and to whom we dispense that information. There are individuals in our society, I would say, who maybe are mentally imbalanced in a way and use that information for devious reasons.

But as I say, it's the government which collects all this information, and many times the government itself does not use it in a very responsible way. How do we know that? We know that through the requests of individuals who want that information to keep this government accountable. "Government" means not the government of the day, or in power, or Conservative, but all legislators who are elected.

It is very important as we look at this legislation, this private member's bill, to ask ourselves, how far do we go? While this government intrudes upon people's privacy in many, many ways -- like the poor today; it's open season on the poor and the interest groups -- they want it to be closed for the big corporations. Let us have a balance in that. I will leave some time for my colleague who will speak on this. She has some rather great insights on this matter.

Mr Tony Silipo (Dovercourt): I've listened with great interest to the presentation by the member for Durham-York, Ms Munro, in presenting her resolution, and to the last speaker, the member for Scarborough North. It's noteworthy that in those two presentations we heard a good summary of the arguments that can be made on this issue.

The member for Durham-York very well demonstrated and explained some of the misuses of this legislation, and I think it's appropriate for all of us, partisanship aside, to acknowledge that there have been instances where the freedom of information and protection legislation has, to the average person, on that test, been misused, been used for reasons other than what was intended. It makes sense for us to have an open mind to that reality and therefore a willingness to do something about it.

I want to take that as being what is driving this resolution and what has guided the member for Durham-York to present this resolution, because in listening to the member for Scarborough North we also heard that importance of the legislation is that it gives access to citizens of this province to government information at all levels through both pieces of legislation, the provincial legislation and the municipal legislation.

In whatever we do, or indeed in whatever the government does -- because this is something that, at the end of the day, can really only be dealt with properly through government legislation -- the basic issues and the basic points of continuing to provide fairly open access to people in the province, to the citizens of this province, need to continue to be there while obviously providing the necessary protections for governments at all levels to be able to continue to do their work properly.

I wish the wording in this resolution was a little different in terms of not including, for example, such things as "time-consuming or costly" as being legitimate reasons why requests should be denied, because I don't think that the fact that something takes a long time or that it may cost some money is necessarily a good enough reason why a citizen should not be able to ask for certain information. But I do think that where the requests are vexatious, frivolous, abusive, and particularly where they are malicious in nature -- and of course these are all subjective terms; we know that. These are all things about which we may not agree on whether they fit the definition. Indeed, I suppose someone would and will have to determine whether something is malicious. I wish the wording did not include such things as "time-consuming or costly requests."

Speaking personally -- and that's a point I want to underline, because this is private members' hour -- I will support this resolution because the bottom line, as I read it and as I've heard the member presenting the resolution, is to call upon the government to amend the legislation to take a look at those issues.

Should this resolution pass and should the government decide to act on it, it seems to me that we would be very wary on this side about the changes that would be made, and we would want to make sure that they not become restrictive of the right of the average citizen in the province to continue to have access to government information.

I'm sure the member for Durham-York and other members of this Legislature are aware of the review of the legislation done during the last Parliament. I was Chair of Management Board at the time the review was undertaken and therefore responsible for the provincial legislation, and I recall -- I may not be entirely correct, because I haven't had a chance to go back and look at the record -- that the committee came to agreement, with the three parties agreeing on a number of changes that could be made, some of which addressed this particular issue. I hope the government would take a good look at that report if it is going to act on this resolution, assuming that the resolution is adopted this morning.

I just want to say again that, to me, this is worthwhile supporting, because it brings to our attention something that I think is a problem. But I would also have to say that I'm supporting it because this is private members' business. I have said in this House before how important I feel it is that we come into this particular part of the proceedings trying as hard as we can, because I know it is difficult, to set aside partisanship. I have to believe that what has led the member for Durham-York to bring this resolution is not the fact that she's a member of a party that is now the government, but that indeed she believes strongly that there are problems with this piece of legislation that need to be addressed but that the basis of the legislation is sound and needs to continue to be there.


I would hope that in any efforts to change this legislation we would keep that very much in mind, which is also why I wanted to have my comments on the record, so that if I need to I can come back to them at some point and be very clear that I am supporting this resolution, with a little bit of apprehension, but with an understanding that some of the changes that I think this resolution calls for would be appropriate. Any of us who have been in government know some of the examples that the member for Durham-York has pointed out this morning in her presentation.

I think the bottom line has to be that the legislation, in the spirit that it has now, needs to continue to exist, because at the core of it is giving the citizens of this province access to government information, and that's a very legitimate role; that's a very legitimate purpose; that is one that needs to continue to be there. So it's in that spirit that, as I say, speaking personally -- and I don't know what other members of my caucus will do; it is up to them to make that decision -- I will support this resolution.

Mr David Tilson (Dufferin-Peel): I rise in support of the resolution raised by the member for Durham-York. This is a topic that has been before this House several times, certainly during the New Democratic regime. There were reports done by committees on the provincial bill, the Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act, 1987, and that was presented to the House in 1991; then of course there was the report on the Municipal Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act, 1989, and that was introduced last year about this time.

I had the privilege of sitting on a committee that actually reviewed this topic with respect to the municipal freedom of information legislation, and the legislation required that it be reviewed in five years. When it was passed in 1989, this committee was following its responsibility and so had an opportunity to hear from schools and police officials and other institutions around this province expressing their concerns with respect to the legislation.

These reports, I suspect, are sitting, one in the office of the Minister of Municipal Affairs and the other in the office of the Chair of Management Board. I guess I'm looking at all governments. To me, that's one way in which this House could be improved. Hours and hours of time were spent by individuals making presentations, and I believe that these are the types of reports that should be debated in the House. Of course, the rules preclude reports being debated in the House, and so it's only those people on the committee who really had an opportunity of reviewing these issues.

I think the purpose of the resolution, as I see it, is to show that the scales have gone too far. Some of the previous speakers have said, "You know, you have the right of access to information in a democracy," and certainly we should have that access. On the other hand, because of the myriad of applications that have been presented, frivolous applications in particular in some cases have almost approached anarchy as far as the operation of some institutions.

In fact, we had one individual who came to committee and said there's an individual going around the province of Ontario who just wants to do that; he openly does that. He makes these applications for the purpose of bogging down the system.

So the issue of frivolous applications, and there were a number of them -- we heard in presentations that these proceedings took place in October 1991 on the provincial legislation and it was revealed to us by the Regional Municipality of Peel Police Services Board that, "We have had actually one request recently by a convicted murderer for information that could only be pertinent to this person, and we find, unavoidably, that the cost of servicing this request had been borne by all the taxpayers in the region."

That's madness. There was another incident where someone revealed that someone in jail wanted to know the plans of the jail that he was in. There was another story where someone wanted to know the type of toilet paper that was used by the chief of police. All of these applications are a pure example of frivolousness, in my opinion and in the opinion of the committee.

There were some other examples which were given, and I'll repeat this one as well. This was given by the Metro police force. They said: "Having listened to the first deputation from the regional municipality of Ottawa-Carleton, I concur with what they said. That's one of the tactics, to break the big request down into the smaller requests.

"But we get requests that I can only categorize as being right off the wall. There are requesters who ask for the number of toiletry articles in the chief's washroom, who has access to the chief's washroom, this sort of thing. They come in and we're forced to deal with them."

There was another, for example, which came from the Ontario Public School Boards' Association, which made a comment -- and delegation after delegation described these abuses. There was one where it said: "As an example, let me just give you two or three. Most recently, just last week as a matter of fact, and I think it's kind of apropos, we had 205 requests from one individual in one day. We're having to deal with that at the moment. Previously, we had 68 requests from one individual in one day, and we had a total of 137 during a three-week period."

So obviously there is a need for access to information, but it's being abused. The committee that I was on, the committee dealing with municipal freedom of information -- I'd recommend that members get copies of these and read them. They're in the library. These are the library copies that I have. I'd recommend that these reports be read. Of course, hopefully the two ministers will read them as well, because the committee is quite clear on recommendations.

One of the issues, in the short time I have left, is an issue that has bothered me for a certain period of time, and that is the salaries of senior officials in any level of government, whether it be school board, municipal, civil servants at this place, people who have a tremendous amount of power, and yet the taxpayer does not know what they're making; what they do know is the range. I don't think it's necessary to know the salaries of all municipal or education officials or all people who work for the civil service, but I do think it's important that we know what the people are making in our government today. We don't know that information.

I'm just going to read you a part of that in the time that I have. The committee recommended that the Municipal Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act "be amended to require institutions to routinely publish at least annually the annual compensation paid to elected officials and the actual compensation paid to public service employees earning in excess of $50,000 per annum in salary benefits, and that institutions also be required to routinely publish the financial details of personal service contracts and that further consideration be given as to how often and in what format the routine publication should be made."

I think that's a reasonable request to be made. I'm just going to read you portions from this report, which is 34 and 35, which I think explains the concern. These people are assisting our elected officials to make decisions. The taxpayer is paying their salaries, and yet we haven't a clue as to what they're making. Not only that, if you find out and tell, you're going to get fined. That didn't use to be the case until my Liberal friend stood up and talked about the changing of the law, and he did change the law.

I remember sitting on municipal council, and it used to be very useful to me, sitting on municipal council, to know what salaries were being paid to senior municipal officials around the province. Municipal officials can't do that any more. Why? Because the act was passed that precludes that.


I'm reading from the report: "The disclosure of an individual's actual income is presumed to be an unjustified invasion of personal privacy under section 14(3)(f). However, the disclosure of an individual's salary range does not constitute an unjustified invasion of personal privacy and is permissable under the act. Many witnesses criticize the act because it protects from disclosure the actual salaries and benefits that are paid out of the public purse to public officials and employees. These criticisms raise important issues about public accountability."

That's the key: the issue of accountability. I believe, when decisions such as this are to be made, these people must be held accountable, and they're not.

I'm going to close, but I do urge members of the House to support the resolution, and hopefully the two ministers will read these reports and consider making amendments to both pieces of legislation.

Mrs Sandra Pupatello (Windsor-Sandwich): I'm happy to speak today for just a few moments on the introduction of this, the resolution that deals with freedom of information.

When the Liberals formed the government not that long ago, one of the first actions was the introduction of the Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act. It was very significant when that happened, because it literally opened the doors of Queen's Park to the public. It made government transparent. It allowed people access to know what they wanted to know about government, about their government officials, about the order of the day, about the business of the provincial government.

At that time, it was very remarkable that a government would have the wherewithal to do so, because they knew that they'd be opening themselves up to speculation by the public. Today, the Liberals feel that this is an integral part of government, and that is that the general public should always have access to what it is we're doing and that we wouldn't have any opportunity to hide.

What I find particularly fascinating in discussing this today is how it fits with the overall process and direction that this government seems to be going in. Given that it's my first term here at Queen's Park, I guess I notice everything for the first time, but all of the actions that have happened so far smack of secrecy here, smack of a government that wants to hide and that wants to do things where the public will have no knowledge.

We see lots of examples of that going on here in the House, where very effective opposition members find things and bring them to the attention of government and say, "Now, why is it that we're not hearing about a voucher system for child care and we have to find a report?" The reporter from the Toronto Star certainly did a job of finding exactly what was going to happen with the voucher system in child care. When the minister was presented with it in the House, he denied any knowledge of it. While he was denying it, we were simply reading what his bureaucrats had already prepared some time ago. That's only one example of the kind of secrecy and the kind of information that we should have, not just access to the information, but be a part of the process of consultation.

We know how upset all of the labour in Ontario has been without having access to public consultation in the introduction of Bill 7. But more interesting or fascinating is the way our timing was in the introduction of that bill; that we should choose the time when the whole nation was worried about a referendum happening in Quebec; and that in that same week we would shove through Bill 7, all in a manner to try to stay under the guise of wanting to rush through quickly and keep promises, but instead marketing and strategically placing that when no one was watching.

I drove back to Queen's Park after this weekend and I parked the car outside the Legislative Building, and as I was walking down the sidewalk, I looked up and saw there was a camera on me. I don't know if the members opposite know that they've now installed cameras in the trees outside of Queen's Park. I want you to have a look, because you should all know that you're watching us; that this government is implementing these things. I didn't get a notice that there were cameras being hung from the trees. I find that fascinating. Why would people want to watch the things that are going on outside? The general public would be strolling through the lawn of Queen's Park, and now we have cameras hanging there.

Mr Michael A. Brown (Algoma-Manitoulin): Police the squirrels.

Mrs Pupatello: Exactly. For the squirrels. But all of this just tends to go in one direction, and that is one of secrecy, and then that is one of again closing the doors. We've said often that after June 8, the doors of Queen's Park closed -- closed to public consultation -- and this is just more of the same.

There are things in place now when requests are made for information. There are estimates that would be offered when it seems like an extreme request. Estimates are given back to individuals and it's said, "Here's what you would pay if you request this information," and many requests are not followed through because it is too expensive. Now, if the estimate of the cost of the research is not in fact cost-recoverable, then perhaps it should be and the government and the researchers ought to be paid for these kinds of requests.

There are checks and balances in place now. No one can be against something that would be "vexatious, frivolous, abusive, time-consuming or costly requests that are clearly of a repetitious, systematic or malicious nature," but my fear is that someone makes the judgement call on what those things are, that if this government's idea of balance is the introduction of Bill 7, if this government's idea of fairness or compassion or a hand up means eliminating child care for single moms who are trying to work and get off the system, then this same group is the group that's going to make the determination of what frivolous is.

Perhaps we shouldn't have access to the letter sent out by the corrections minister that tells his employees they're not allowed to contact their MPP's office. Maybe we shouldn't find out that Mr Watt was rehired by the Premier's office. This has nothing to do with Mr Watt, quite frankly. This has to do with a Premier's office that didn't want to take responsibility, didn't want to be found out. But we did find out, and I think there's nothing wrong with it. We should know, and people who are bringing in this kind of -- if you're doing it, then you ought to be proud of what you're doing and don't try to hide it.

So more about the content, no one wants to be frivolous; no one wants to expend money needlessly. But more fascinating about this is the timing of it, is the idea that is more of the secrecy, more of the doors closed, and I guess I should end by simply saying, "Watch, because the cameras are on you."

M. Gilles Bisson (Cochrane Sud) : J'aimerais prendre la chance pendant un couple de minutes pour discuter un peu de la motion numéro 4 qui est amenée ici devant nous aujourd'hui, venant de la députée de l'autre bord.

I wouldn't mind actually doing this particular debate in French. Unfortunately, the resolution was not provided in French. It might be with the table officer if I would have got it, but we'll do it in English none the less.

I just want to make two points on this: First of all, I think the member is aware that there were a number of members in the past Legislature and the past Parliament who spent an extreme amount of time dealing with this whole issue and taking a look at it.

I guess in the spirit of this being a private member's motion -- and I would hope this is not a government motion but indeed a private member's motion -- and that what the member is asking to do is that we go back and take a look at the whole question of the Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act in order to be able to deal with some of the problems within that act, I think all of us within this Legislature probably would agree to an extent that there are problems with that particular act.

But I'm a little bit troubled by some of the comments that are made in this motion and I just would like to speak to that, because if the government does decide as a result of this motion passing to go ahead and to do an actual revamp of the act, there's a couple of things in here that bother me a little bit.

I'm just going to read here, "to prevent vexatious, frivolous" and "abusive" access or utilization of the present acts. I would agree with that. I don't think, quite frankly, that that act was ever set up as the mechanism and means for people to try to get back at somebody, and if that's the intent of that, I understand that and I think that's a hard thing to deal with in legislation. I think it's a hard thing to word.

How do you really define who is vexatious and who is trying to do this frivolously and who has a legitimate concern? Because the one thing I've learned over the years in this business, and also in private life, is that sometimes what appears to us as the person being attacked through a process as vexatious sometimes is not at all vexatious but, quite frankly, a legitimate concern of the other party about how government or how a person individually has dealt with them and taken away their rights or done something that is wrong.


It is always hard to admit when one is wrong. It is the same for governments. It is hard for governments to admit that they're wrong. To say that we want to prevent people from frivolously using the act I would support, but I would want to try to figure out how we balance that, because quite frankly I wouldn't want to be in the business of being in this Legislature and standing in support of this if at the end of the result it means to say that people with legitimate concerns and people with actual grievances wouldn't have the opportunity to go forward and to request information under this act.

The other thing that troubles me -- and I probably wouldn't have gotten up and spoken if this had not been in it -- is the words "time-consuming or costly requests." I may get the dander of some of my friends on the other side up, but I have a problem, because, you know, democracy does have a price. It is always cheaper to run a dictatorship. You don't have any kind of appeal tribunals in a dictatorship. The buck stops with the person at the end of the hall, who has the most guns. It's fairly cheap to do it that way because you don't have to spend a whole bunch of money with having a bunch of tribunals or putting in place laws in order to make sure that people's rights are guaranteed.

If we're saying in this House that we're worried about the cost of democracy and the cost of providing tribunals to the people of Ontario -- I'm sure that's not what the member meant in her motion, and I'm going to support her motion because I have to believe that what she's not saying, she is not saying that we should watch how much money it costs us to have a tribunal in place or an act such as this in place in order to guarantee somebody's rights, because I believe strongly, as do all members of this assembly -- Conservatives, I'm sure, ourselves and the Liberals -- that people have a right to request information if they feel that is in the best interests of a given situation and that people have a right to be able to question what it is that their government is doing or not doing.

In order to be able to go through that process and in order to challenge a decision of a government or a decision of a particular branch of government, people need to have the tools to be able to initiate that. Certainly there is a cost associated with that, and I would say that I would not want to be in a position where we start looking at the amount of dollars it costs to administer an act like this as a reason to take away somebody's rights. I'm sure that's not what the member meant, and I don't mean to be combative.

The other thing in here was the word "repetitious." I'm not quite sure, and I would like her maybe to speak on this just a couple of seconds, on the word "repetitious." If you're saying repetitious in the sense of the same person trying to go back over and over and over again to get the same information, I raise the same concern. Sometimes people get quite caught up in a particular situation.

For example, I was involved for many years in my community with a group of people who were widows and were survivors of men who died in the gold mines from exposure to silica dust and to carcinogens in the underground. It took 50 years of work on the part of those people, over two generations, to be able to raise over and over and over again the same issues, to request the same information time and time again, to ask for it to be studied time and time again, over and over, until finally the IDSP, the Industrial Disease Standards Panel, recognized that indeed people were contracting cancer from their exposure working underground.

If what we're saying is that we want to prevent people from going back again a second time to be able to try to get information to advance a particular issue, again I would say I can't support that, because I have the personal experience of knowing that in the end, with the change of government from the Conservatives to the Liberals -- and I would give some credit to the Liberal government of 1985-87 -- through the IDSP and through the work of the Minister of Labour at the time, Mr Sorbara, the United Steelworkers, myself, the Victims of Mining Environment and many, many people in the communities of Timmins, Kirkland Lake and Sudbury who lobbied at great extent, requested all kinds of information, we finally changed the policies of the WCB to recognize that industrial diseases can be contracted from mining.

If we were to adopt the idea that you're not able to come forward again after you've lost your fight to once again try, I think quite frankly that would have said: "Hey, too bad. You lost the first time, it's strike three, you're gone and you'll never play again." Even in baseball, after you've struck out, you have an opportunity to come back to the plate, and I wouldn't want that to happen.

In the spirit of cooperation and the spirit of trying to do business in this House that is the best for the people of Ontario, I'm prepared to look at this act, to support this motion, but I would ask that those two particular points that I've had an opportunity to speak on be respected.

Mr Tom Froese (St Catharines-Brock): As a government, we campaigned on the promise that, once elected, we would reduce red tape, bureaucracy and the cost of government.

When we examine the member for Durham-York's resolution, we see that the underlying problems with the Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act, 1987 and the Municipal Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act, 1987 are not access to genuine-need information but loopholes that allow people to abuse the intention of the law.

This is not a new problem. As early as 1991, the member for Simcoe East made an attempt to introduce a private member's bill to stem abuse of these acts. Now it seems we are faced with an epidemic of abuse: abuse that only adds to red tape, the bureaucracy needed and further financial burden to the Ontario taxpayer.

I can certainly agree with the act in principle. Too often in the past people have been denied access to information on themselves, and the media was denied access to important information that we all needed to know. In effect, the law makes sure all government officials and workers are accountable to the people they serve. We have to keep these principles intact.

However, we need balance. We need to protect the rights of our province's citizens to gain access to information that they need that pertains to them personally. We need to protect those in our society who see their roles as the guardians of democracy and free speech.

But that being said, we need to protect the government, agencies and municipalities from those who seek information that does not relate to them personally but which is meant only to use up time and money on a slippery slope of inquiry and which could infringe on the privacy of others and, since there are tremendous costs involved, infringe on the rights of those who pay the bills, the Ontario taxpayer.

There are many examples of abuse of the governing procedures of these acts, but the two that have been discussed the most in the press are the individual who has harassed local municipal governments, hospitals and provincial government staffs and the individual who has harassed police forces across Ontario.

In the first instance, that person has made a minimum of 200 applications to his local municipality and has been turned down on each one of these cases, but because the appeal process is automatic, he is able to appeal each rejection. This individual has been able to get lists of municipal staff addresses and phone numbers, even unlisted phone numbers. Why do they need that kind of information, which could be used to harass people? It is clearly breaking privacy guidelines for people involved.

In the other case, the person has openly said he likes to embarrass the police and government officials. That individual has filed close to 772 requests and 272 appeals, asking for such things as have already been mentioned by the member for Durham-York, trivial information such as phone sex records and reported UFO sightings.

These searches are extremely expensive and should not be allowed to continue. It costs money to make phone calls, write reports, make photocopies, never mind the staff hours to do the searches.

In the last instance, the individual's access to information requests so far has cost the Ontario taxpayer a minimum of $34,628. If we multiply that amount by the many people who are abusing this act, we are talking about millions. This money could be spent, and should be spent, on reducing the deficit and the debt.


There need to be amendments to the act that balance the right of the citizens to access information of a valid nature with those who abuse that right. I support the member for Durham-York in her resolution to amend the act to prevent frivolous and abusive applications. As we promised the citizens of this province, we need to reduce the cost of government and the red tape by providing a mechanism whereby all access to information requests can be examined for merit or for proper purpose before --

The Acting Speaker (Mr Gilles E. Morin): Thank you. Your time has expired. The member for Durham-York, you have two minutes to reply.

Mrs Munro: The first thing I would like to do is certainly congratulate those people who have spoken to this resolution this morning. I appreciate the support that this resolution has received from both sides of the House.

There are a couple of points that I think really need emphasis in clarifying the kinds of issues that have been raised by the discussion this morning. Very clearly, I made comment in my opening statement and in the conclusion to that statement that I do not want this to be perceived in any way as a method of hampering legitimate requests. I believe, as does everyone else in this House, that part of the strength of a democratic system is the opportunity for everyone within our community to have access to those kinds of pieces of information. So I would stress to you that the intent here is the question of amending on the issue of abuse.

I think quite clearly the question of concern over the way in which that abuse might be interpreted is a legitimate one. So I think it's important to look at the way in which it's worded. A couple of the speakers made reference to the concern of "time-consuming" or "costly" as issues that would be contrary to the spirit of a democratic process. I couldn't agree more. I think, though, that what the rest of the sentence says reflects the concern, and that is when these requests are clearly repetitious, systematic or of a malicious nature. So I think it's important to look at the kind of information that we have from the commissioner which supports this kind of concern.

In closing, I appreciate the support that has been shown and ask you to support my resolution.

The Acting Speaker: The time for the first ballot item has expired.


Mr McGuinty moved second reading of Bill 2, An Act to amend the Election Act / Projet de loi 2, Loi modifiant la Loi électorale.

The Acting Speaker (Mr Gilles E. Morin): Pursuant to standing order 96(c)(i), you have 10 minutes for your presentation.

Mr Dalton McGuinty (Ottawa South): It's my pleasure to speak to a bill which I introduced at the first possible opportunity upon our return to Parliament here.

Let me first describe the problem which my bill attempts to address. It's very simple and I think we've all had some experience with this. It addresses the requirement that the returning officer post in each polling division a copy of the list of electors. This is a copy here. I think we've all seen these posted on telephone poles and lamp standards during the course of an election.

The problems that constituents have raised with me, and I'm sure these have been raised elsewhere, are that there are issues connected with privacy and safety, particularly raised by women, and even more so by senior women living alone.

What the list does, of course, is it describes who lives where, and if you happen to be living alone, at least if you're an older person who's living alone -- there's no indication that there might be younger people there -- there's an opportunity for others to look at the list and determine that you are in fact living alone.

I did a bit of research on this when I got back to the Legislature and determined that there's a fairly extensive history of this being raised by members in the Legislature or in committee.

The first thing I discovered was that after every election, our chief election officer prepares a report, and in the 1988 report and the 1991 report, the same comments essentially were made by the chief election officer. I just want to quote from the 1988 report, where he says on page 6, under the heading "Posting of List in Conspicuous Place," "Many complaints are received in every election about the invasion of privacy involved in the posting of the list of electors in urban polling divisions." He then goes on to make a recommendation. He says: "Paragraph (a) of subsection 19(3), requiring posting of the list, should be repealed. Paragraph (b) should be amended to specify that one copy of the list must be posted in the returning office and that public access to and inspection of the list must be allowed." That is precisely what my bill does, nothing more and nothing less. That was 1988.

In 1989 the standing committee on the Legislative Assembly considered some submissions made by the chief election officer for the province, and they recommended to the Legislature that this very change be made. Nothing came of that. However, I do have a copy of the then House leader, Chris Ward, the Liberal government House leader at the time, who indicated in a letter to the standing committee that he intended to introduce a bill to amend the Election Act, and it's my understanding that the change that would be incorporated in those amendments would include the one that I am proposing we adopt here today.

In 1991 again we had another report of the chief election officer making the same recommendation; that is, that the act be amended to remove the requirement that the list be posted in public places.

In 1993 I have a copy of a letter from the Information and Privacy Commissioner for Ontario, Mr Tom Wright, and the letter is directed to the chief election officer, Mr Warren Bailie. In that letter he simply points out that he's received complaints of people removing the list for business purposes, taking it down off the telephone pole. There's one particular case he describes about a real estate agent removing it from the telephone pole within 30 seconds of its having been posted. He goes on to encourage Mr Bailie, the chief election officer, to pursue the amendments that he had made reference to in his earlier reports.

In 1994 the Information and Privacy Commissioner wrote to the then minister responsible for women's issues, Marion Boyd, and indicated that the president of the Ontario Advisory Council on Women's Issues had written to him concerning the privacy and safety issues for women associated with the public posting of voters' lists. He goes on to indicate as well that his office shares those concerns and agrees that the public posting of voters' lists has implications for both privacy and safety. That was 1993.

Then in 1994, the minister responsible for women's issues, Marion Boyd, writes back to Tom Wright, the Information and Privacy Commissioner, and indicates in essence that she shares the concern regarding posting of the voters' lists.

That's the history. So obviously it's a very simple matter. There's been some significant history for such a simple matter, and my bill has been supported. I have written to the Information and Privacy Commissioner and the chief election officer for the province. Both of those officials have indicated that they fully intend to support my bill, and do.

Obviously, on June 8 we had an election in this province. Once again, a number of further complaints were registered with the chief election officer's office.

The other thing that I notice myself is that I took this down off a telephone pole on June 30. So I think that raises another issue, and that is, nobody removes these darned things. They end up falling on to the ground. There's no legislative requirement that they be removed. They end up falling on the ground and become litter. I think the other thing to keep in mind is that there are certain costs associated with producing this thing and having it posted. Those are two other reasons -- not as important, but the costs and the fact that nobody's required to take the darned things down are other reasons why we shouldn't be proceeding with the practice.


I also found out, just in case anybody's interested, that this practice of posting these lists began in 1874 when our predecessors put in place An Act respecting Voters' Lists, and it required that lists be posted in a variety of different public places. The original purpose of course was to allow voters to make sure they were on the list and make sure the names were spelled correctly.

That is no longer necessary in my view because, first of all, everybody receives a notice of enumeration in the mail. Secondly, the chief election officer makes a practice of advertising the fact that there's a phone number available that you can call to make sure you're on the voters' list. Furthermore, this voters' list is found within the returning office, so if anybody was interested, they could always attend there and view it in order to make sure they were on the list.

I also want to note that the federal government adopted a similar amendment in 1982, an amendment which removed the requirement to post voters' lists in public places.

Finally, I'd like to note that I've received letters of support from women's groups and police, in particular from the London and Area Council of Women, who have written in support of my bill, and in fact have indicated that they're putting forward a resolution at the next provincial council to have the larger provincial council adopt a resolution in support of my bill.

I also have a copy of a letter from Brian Ford, the chief of police for the Ottawa Carleton Regional Police Service. I just want to quote from that. He says:

"I wholeheartedly support and endorse such a bill. I believe the posting of voters' lists in public places invades personal privacy. I also believe this is a security concern for police, both from the perspective of names being acquired and people being victimized, and also with respect to vandalism that is associated with the election lists so posted. In my view, it would make sense to have the voters' list posted in a place that is secure and under the watchful eye of someone, such as at a polling station." Of course, that is precisely what my bill does.

On that, I'll end my comments and ask that my colleagues give it every consideration, and I ask for their support.

Mr Gilles Bisson (Cochrane South): I'd like to raise a couple of points with regard to what is being proposed here, because it is somewhat problematic, especially in rural ridings and northern ridings. I know there are a number of members on the other side of the House, as on this side, who represent ridings that are quite large geographically, with the population spread out.

For example, in my riding, I have three major communities within the riding. There's the community of Timmins, where it would be easy for people to get to the returning office to find out if their name is on the list, depending on where they live within the city of Timmins, because Timmins is the largest municipality in Canada and the second-largest in North America in geographic area, but when it comes to population we're actually one of the smallest.

If you're living in places like Connaught or you're living out at Star Lake or you're living in Kamiskotia, the returning office is 45 minutes to an hour away. It is hard enough to get people to exercise their democratic franchise to vote without giving them other barriers to jump over to find out that their name is on the list come election day.

This last election and the election before -- I remember especially the 1990 election -- there were a number of people I ran across on election day who said to me, "Jeez, it was a good thing I happened to see that my name wasn't on the list, because I couldn't have voted for you," or against me, to be fair. Most of them voted for me, in fact about 60% of the people in my riding in the 1995 election, so I thank the people of Cochrane South.

The point I'm trying to make is that sometimes, especially if you live in smaller communities, the only way you're going to find out whether your name is on the list is by going to wherever the list is available, on whatever street corner or pole or area it might be, and looking to see if your name appears.

Most members would know this. The 1995 election -- and I hate to say this, because I don't want to be confrontational and disrespectful to the returning officers -- was the worst job I have seen in all the elections I've been involved in when it came to enumeration. It was God-awful. In my riding, scads of people had not been enumerated, I am told, especially in apartment buildings. Entire apartment buildings, for whatever reason, were left off the enumerator's list.

How we find that out -- let's be candid -- is that we have election teams and we do our telephone canvassing and we do our on-foot canvassing and we knock at the door and find out that people who want to vote for you aren't on the list, and that tells you you've got a problem. I was lucky. I had a large campaign, lots of people, lots of volunteers, and we were able to canvass every poll in my riding. Unfortunately -- fortunately for me -- the Conservative Party wasn't as well organized and the Liberals did not have full campaign teams.

I would imagine that part of their difficulty in the 1995 election is that a number of people, I'm sure, went to the polls to find that their name wasn't on the list but who may have wanted to support one of the three candidates. Given how poorly the last enumeration was done, if this had been a close election -- which it wasn't; I won with 60%. But let's say it had been 40, 50, 100 or 200 votes; it could have made a difference in the result. In fairness, if the people of Cochrane South, for whatever reason, would want a member other than myself, we need to respect that in legislation and respect that through the election process.

My problem with this is that what we're talking about doing here is that the list be posted at the returning office and that people have to amble down to the returning office during business hours to see if their name is on the list. That's difficult enough, but that's not all.

Again I'll resort to my riding. A community in my riding, Black River-Matheson, is an amalgamation of a number of different townships that came together some years ago: Val Gagné, Matheson itself, Holtyre, Ramore, Burk and a number of others. These communities don't have a municipal town hall where you'd be able to get hold of the list. They don't have a library other than what's in Matheson. There are no municipal structures, no provincial structures, no federal structures in many of those communities, other than a volunteer fire hall that nobody has a key for except for the volunteers.

How, under this, would somebody in Burk or Ramore or Holtyre who wants to exercise their right to vote find out if their name is on the list? That's why the Election Act provides that the list be posted in a conspicuous area, so people are able to find out if they are. That's why I would have extreme difficulty supporting what is being proposed here unless I were to see some kind of mechanism to ensure that the people of communities like Nellie Lake or Burk or Holtyre are able to find out if their name is on a list other than going to the returning office.

I'll tell you, if I live in Burk, to get over to the returning office in the city of Timmins is an hour and a half or two hours away, depending on road conditions. People are coming home from work, and they're exhausted by the time they get home. They've driven in all the way from Falconbridge or Pamour Mines or they might be working out at Abitibi. They drive all the way home and it's a real problem to go out again.

In fact, in those communities, people plan their shopping well in advance of actually having to go. It's not like me or my friends from Ottawa or Toronto who want to go shopping, get in their car or take a walk and go down to the corner store. In some of these communities, you don't even have a corner store. In Burk, if you want to buy a pitcher of milk you've got to drive to Kirkland Lake or to the truck stop or up to Matheson or Ramore, some 30 minutes away, almost an hour away in some cases. If it's hard enough to get a quart of milk, imagine what it would be like to check if your name is on the list.

I would have a problem supporting this. I was trying to think of a possible solution, but probably some kind of provision in the legislation that the posting has to be more than just in the returning office. It would have to be available in a number of other areas, which is okay, but then you get into the problem in many of our ridings where there is no municipal structure, no structures of any kind to post the list securely, no other physical locations you can put it. I'd have a difficulty with that.


My honourable friend who's sponsoring this bill, you said you took down the list you showed us from the telephone pole on June 30. I want you to check the legislation and find out if that was legal, because my guess is that there's a law preventing people from taking those lists down. I'm sure you didn't share that list with a whole bunch of people. At the first opportunity, I'm sure you'll go back to your community and the Ottawa Citizen, as a matter of fact, will have a picture of you posting that list back up on the telephone pole to make sure you're in compliance with the law.

J'aimerais dire tout simplement aux membres qui ont mis en place cette loi, c'est comme j'ai dit, il y a beaucoup de situations à travers la province où les comtés qu'on représente sont très vastes en géographie mais très petits en population, et c'est très difficile pour eux, comme citoyens et citoyennes, d'être capables de s'assurer que leur nom est sur la liste d'énumération.

Demander, comme on le dit dans cette législation-là, que la personne aille au bureau pour voir si son nom est sur la liste, ça peut être très difficile parce qu'il y a beaucoup de places dans nos communautés où -- par exemple chez nous, si je demeure à Holtyre, à Brooke ou à Ramore -- pour aller au bureau pour vérifier si notre nom est sur la liste, ça prend une heure, une heure et demie d'embarquer dans notre camion ou notre auto et aller trouver ça. J'ai un problème à appuyer la législation sur cette base-là.

J'écouterai très patiemment et très attentivement -- j'ai besoin de faire un téléphone -- à la télévision pour m'assurer que le député nous explique directement ce qu'il arriverait aux listes pour ceux qui restent dans les municipalités où ils ne trouvent pas un bureau de vérificateur où on pourrait regarder la liste.

J'aimerais voir un système où tous les citoyens et les citoyennes très simplement peuvent, avec un accès très facile, être capables de voir si leur nom est sur la liste, pas simplement par téléphone. Je pense des fois que le monde est un peu épeuré de rentrer dans un bureau du gouvernement. Je sais que c'est une des affaires qu'on trouve lors des élections. On téléphone au monde pour faire du «canvassing» et on dit, «Avez-vous vérifié si votre nom est sur la liste ?» puis ils disent : «Bein non, ça me tente pas. Je ne veux pas aller là. C'est trop loin.»

Il y a toutes sortes d'excuses des fois, et j'aimerais voir comment le député répondra à cette question-là pour être sûr qu'il y ait des assurances que si la personne veut vérifier si son nom est sur la liste, elle soit capable de faire ça de manière très facile, où la liste est assez proche d'où elle demeure et qu'elle n'a pas besoin d'embarquer dans l'auto et partir pour une heure et demie sur la route pour aller trouver la liste.

La dernière affaire que je vais dire est que je sais que le député a toujours des standards très élevés. Il a dit tout à l'heure qu'il a ôté la liste sur le poteau de téléphone. Je pense qu'il y a des lois qui disent qu'on n'a pas le droit de faire ça. Je vous demanderais qu'on prenne le marteau et qu'on prenne la liste et qu'on remette cette liste-là quand on aura fini, parce que je suis sûr que le député veut s'assurer qu'il respecte la loi. Avec ça, je cède la parole.

Mr David Tilson (Dufferin-Peel): I'd like to rise and make a few comments with respect to the bill that's been introduced by the member for Ottawa-South. This bill has been introduced at a very opportune time, particularly as we've just gone through a referendum in Quebec, a very close referendum, where very serious allegations have been made with respect to voting procedures: allegations that votes were counted improperly, allegations that perhaps one person voted more than once, the fact that something like 85,000, 86,000, 87,000 votes were spoiled and couldn't be used.

It's an opportune time for this to come forward. I intend to support the bill in principle. I've told the member privately that I don't think his bill goes far enough. I think the entire Election Act needs to be reviewed by the government and recommendations made on a whole slew of things. What happened in the province of Quebec could very easily happen in the province of Ontario.

The member for Cochrane South mentioned the whole problem of enumeration. He's not alone; I think all of us have had some complaints about the process of enumeration, of buildings being left out. More than once I had people approach me and say, "I have been here and I haven't been enumerated." The enumerator I think has to approach a residence three times, and the residents would deny that individuals have been there. I'm sure all members of the House have experienced that issue.

The issues of democracy, of the whole process of electioneering, are at stake, and I would hope that in due time the government would consider a complete review of the election bill.

The issue raised by the member for Ottawa South is another that needs to be dealt with, although I have a couple of reservations. If people who are voting phone the returning office to ask whether they're on the list, I don't know what that means in terms of the barrage of telephone calls that could be received. It may be a problem that could be solved, but I would be concerned if the returning officer says, "Because of this amendment we're going to have to increase our staff to deal with this amazing number of calls coming in to us."

I still intend to support the bill in principle, because hopefully that issue could be resolved at committee stage and we'd have an opportunity, with no time restraints, to debate that issue and other.

There's another issue, about which I spoke privately to the member, that hopefully this amendment won't preclude those running for office from having access to lists. Certainly it is a service to all individuals running for office that those lists be made available in their campaign offices, because people call them and ask whether they're on the list. Again, I'm sure it's not the intent of the member to exclude candidates from receiving the lists.

The main purpose of this bill -- and I'm going to be summarizing some of what members have already said -- is that of security. Of course, being a Conservative, there's concern with the issue of cost.

Mr John R. Baird (Nepean): Oh, the Liberals are concerned about cost half the time.

Mr Tilson: The member is talking over there. Perhaps the Liberals are concerned about cost as well, but we're really concerned about the issue of cost. I don't think there will be a significant cost saving with the implementation of this bill. The lists are put up and taken down by returning officers who must be hired anyway. What little saving there would be would come from the cost of producing fewer lists.

I suppose there's the issue of saving the time of the returning officers from running around urban centres -- and I think this section only applies to urban areas -- putting up these lists on posts. But it does send out an important message that we as legislators should consider, that we must identify and do away with unnecessary expenditures, however small or insignificant they may seem. I would support the bill on that issue.

But the real crux of the bill has to do with the issue of security and privacy. Individuals have expressed to me and I'm sure to individual members in this House and certainly to the office of the Chief Election Officer, Mr Bailie, concerns about security and privacy relating to the publication of electoral lists.

It's quite obviously possible for someone to identify from lists individuals who live on their own. You can see who's living at a particular house or apartment or residence and determine the sex of the individuals from the list. There are some strange people in our society that we worry about, and if you're living alone, if you're a single woman, if you're a senior individual, there are the obvious concerns the member commented on in his introductory remarks. I imagine this information is rarely used dubiously, but in reality, a potential threat certainly exists if individuals choose to use this information in an unscrupulous manner.


The member for Cochrane South raised the issue of lists out in the country. I represent a rural area and I can tell you that the people in my riding in Dufferin county don't have lists; it only applies to the urban areas. So the people in the country have been doing what you're recommending for years and they've got along just fine without those lists. What we're asking now is urban voters to do what rural voters in my riding have done for years and go to the returning officer and check out whether their name appears on the list.

In summary, I'm going to close by saying that individuals must show some personal responsibility. If you want to vote, it's very easy to pick up the telephone and call, as opposed to what we have been doing since the 1980s, as the member pointed out. I quite support him. It's time to change the law.

Mr Richard Patten (Ottawa Centre): I'm pleased to rise today to speak in support of my colleague the member for Ottawa South and his bill, An Act to amend the Election Act, Bill 2. I believe that this has a great deal of merit. A number of the points that I had intended to make have been made by the member for Dufferin-Peel as well and of course by the member introducing the bill from Ottawa South, but I would like to underline a couple of points that perhaps may add to the discussion.

I think it was important that the member for Dufferin-Peel pointed out that the use of these lists is really in the urban area. That's absolutely correct that in the rural areas these lists are not used, and that's important. It would be nice to think that we could go back to some simpler days where neighbours knew each other, that there was the high degree of accountability that indeed I feel we still have in some of the smaller communities, in some of the smaller towns in Ontario.

But in some of the urban areas where we have large apartment buildings, a lot of people, a lot of mobility, a lot of people moving in and out of the community, a lot of people travelling to downtown areas etc, places like my riding, I think some of those whimsical feelings of having to recapture that are gone to a degree. There are always efforts to try and recapture some of that in any neighbourhood, and certainly we do that in many areas, but security is a very important sense.

I was here in the House several weeks ago, and I'm sure many of you members will identify with this, when my family home was vandalized. I live in an urban riding. Many members I'm sure have experienced the feeling of being victimized, because that's what it is. When your house is invaded, you feel you are targeted, you feel that you've been victimized, let alone what you've lost in property.

That's not the most important thing. In fact, for me, my teenage daughter was particularly affected by this invasion of privacy. With the number of break-ins in people's private homes and apartments these days, it's more and more of an occurrence and it becomes part of the records of the police files. To date, they have not found out who it was. My point is that all citizens should and must be protected in terms of the invasion of their personal privacy.

Now, this amendment to section 19 may seem like an administrative issue, but as the member has said, it's outdated, and it's outdated for social reasons as well. It's my opinion that this should have been deleted several years ago, and indeed the returning officers have recommended this change. Similar laws have been amended, by the way, in British Columbia, Nova Scotia, and as was pointed out, by our federal government as well.

I have received a number of complaints, and perhaps that isn't unusual -- I'm sure following an election there are a number of complaints that people have -- but particularly dealing with this particular issue. In fact, from my experience in three elections, each time this issue has been raised.

I asked my staff if they would help out and conduct a little mini-telephone survey in the Ottawa area on this particular issue this week. The men and the women who responded were overwhelmingly in favour of not posting election lists in public places. In particular, I have spoken to representatives from women's shelters and from transition homes, including Harmony House, whose existence is threatened by cutbacks to this particular point. They identify this as problematic, for obvious reasons, for women who are attempting to rebuild their lives and yet would like to vote and would like to be identified, but in fact it is a risk for them.

These are some of the more extreme examples perhaps, but I'd suggest that in this day and age there are ways in which we can do that. As the member for Cochrane South pointed out, there are ways. Each campaign office has volunteers who phone. People phone in and they want to know if they're on the list. In fact, there's a very simple way. There's an enumeration card that confirms whether someone is listed. Indeed, what most people do in the urban areas is phone the election office and ask, and they can do that. If they wanted to check, then of course they could visit the returning officer's office and find out for themselves.

We've talked about the lists. I know in my riding, sometimes the lists disappear. They're often in tatters. They're not protected from the weather. Sometimes you can't read them; you only have two pages left or a page is torn or indeed it's removed in totality. So it seems to me it's not even an efficient system any longer. Yet in the interests of urban areas, especially downtown areas in cities, the question of security and privacy looms more and more important.

I would wind up my remarks by saying to my colleague from Ottawa South that I support Bill 2 and would urge all members to consider this, remembering that this is a city or an urban issue, by and large. It respects the way in which life goes on. In smaller towns and in rural areas where people know each other more, the mobility is not as high as it is in highly densified communities, in our cities. I believe it's a good bill. It's long overdue and I would add my name in support of Bill 2.

Mr Tony Silipo (Dovercourt): I too want to rise to express my support for this bill and hope, if the speakers so far are an indication, that it will meet with support in this Legislature this morning.

I think that the basic point behind it is certainly one we all should support, which is that in this day and age there are other considerations that I think have come into being around the posting of these electoral lists and that the basic point of posting the list, which is to get people to know if they have been properly enumerated or not, can much more easily be accomplished through other avenues.

If that's the case, then having these lists posted as they are now does, I think, raise some issues with respect to safety, as the member from Ottawa South has pointed out, particularly with respect to women and seniors who may be living alone. I think those are issues that are worthwhile and useful for us to remember and to remind ourselves of.


I know that there are some concerns. I listened to my colleague the member for Cochrane South express some of his worries about a riding like his and some of the other more rural ridings, and I think it has been useful to hear the clarification from a number of members about the fact that the present legislation doesn't require the posting of these lists in the rural ridings. I think that even more so it's therefore appropriate for us to support this resolution and to do what we can to make our communities a little bit safer, at least with respect to this particular issue.

I think that when it comes to the Election Act there are a number of other areas that certainly I hope at some point in this Legislature we have an opportunity to get into, because I think that there are other issues that can be addressed, should be addressed, both, quite frankly, in the way in which the elections are run -- I have been one, for example, who has believed for many years that it's appropriate, and now I think the technology makes it even easier for us to get to having a permanent voters' list, which obviously would need to continue to be updated. But I find the present process of people having to run around and do the enumeration, pretending that they're starting from nothing election after election, quite ludicrous, especially in this day and age.

I think that there are a number of improvements like that which can be made, but I appreciate that what the member for Ottawa South is wanting to do today is to address one specific problem, one particular issue, which I think makes it, hopefully in this particular case, easier for us to deal with this issue, adopt it, pass it on. I hope that the government then would see the wisdom of bringing this bill back for third reading, and if there's any need for it to go to committee, that this would also be facilitated and that it could be done, because it does raise, I think, some important issues.

We will have, I'm sure, during the course of this Parliament, the opportunity to deal with some other substantive issues around elections in this province. The government did reiterate in the throne speech its wish to reduce the number of members in this Legislature. I think that certainly I for one will have some things to say around what other changes should be done in conjunction with that.

If they've chosen that course of action, I certainly will not be objecting to that as a course of action, but I think that it would be useful for us, for example, to take a look at whether we could not inject into the electoral system of this province some element of proportional representation and some perhaps hybrid of the system that we have now with that other system. But those are issues for another day. For today, I'm happy to stand in support of the bill from the member for Ottawa South.

Mr Derwyn Shea (High Park-Swansea): I reflect upon the comments made by my colleague the member for Cochrane South requesting more Progressive Conservative competition in the next election, and I'd certainly like to talk to him about that and help to accede to his request.

In terms of our colleague the member for Ottawa South, I am certain that I did not hear him say that he removed anything from a telephone pole contrary to the rules. I know he wouldn't do that. I know he didn't say that. But I do support any effort he makes to clean up the environment, and more than that, I particularly approve of the bill he brings forward today and will support it as well, although I confess it doesn't go as far as it should.

I grew up in the riding that I now have the honour to represent. I can recall, as a young lad running the streets, when there was an election called and the voters' list was placed on telephone poles, that we all eagerly took a look to see if our name was there. We looked with pride, and we looked with a sense of neighbourhood to see: Is everything on this list accurate? Is it indeed reflective of our community? Are there some errors and omissions?

On occasions when there were omissions, we would go to the household and point out to them the fact that there may be something missing. There was that sense of neighbourhood that we hear expressed even now in the rural areas that it continues, but it doesn't continue quite to the same extent in some of the urban areas. I'm delighted to say that probably my riding may be one of the urban exceptions. Certainly in the areas of Swansea and High Park there is still that sense of collegiality. But particularly as the high-density areas develop we lose some of that intimacy, and I regret that.

I can also recall that the first signs of this disintegration of neighbourhood began to occur when, as one member has rightly pointed out, you'd begin to find a page ripped off the lists, and then the entire lists were disappearing from the telephone poles, and then you began to discover they were being used in other ways, not least for direct sale and for direct door-to-door soliciting and so forth. That was the first sign that, in the urban areas at least, the lists were now being abused.

They had a reason. As one member has pointed out, back as far as 1874 they had a reason, they had a purpose. They were the only means of ensuring that you were in fact being recognized for your franchise. But that need has disappeared rapidly and has been overshadowed in some ways by what has now become misuse of the lists and certainly some mischievous use of the lists in some particular quarters.

We all know, particularly those of us who represent the urban areas, that the difficulty we have is that these lists can often place people in a vulnerable position. We have heard today people suggest that single women, seniors living alone, women living alone are placed in particular vulnerable circumstances by having their names appearing on the list; and that is true. Even though we know in a more sophisticated sense that a person who may appear to be single on the list may in fact be living with someone in that apartment or in that dwelling who is not on the list for reasons that they're not qualified to vote, still it looks as though there is only one person in that dwelling and indeed it makes them vulnerable to all kinds of behaviour and attack, not least of which is that from direct sales and other forms of solicitation.

The vulnerability then is something that this bill attempts to address. It at least reduces that opportunity of allowing people the convenience of simply grabbing a list, taking a look at it and immediately going to that household and creating some problems for it. So I think we should support it in that regard.

But let's also be very clear that the bill, while it isn't harmful, doesn't go far enough. I would hope that during the tenure of this Parliament we will have a chance to improve on the entire sense of the bill. I think there's no question that we should have a permanent voters' list, a list that is combined by the federal, provincial and municipal governments and that can be kept up. There is no difficulty in doing that now, and it becomes very cost-effective.

In the last provincial election, we all saw just atrocious examples of very bad enumeration. In my own riding, I just had entire apartment buildings left off the voters' list, like there was a huge kind of vacant ground somewhere in High Park, which wasn't the case. We need to address that shortcoming, which is not dealt with here, and I hope that we use this simply as a launching pad to move on to the proper reformation of the entire Election Act with the permanent lists.

Let's also be very clear that there is still vulnerability in the system. Certainly for the more literate, instead of just taking the ease of accessibility of the lists on telephone poles, it's a matter of going to the local library and picking up a copy of Bowers or a copy of the city directory and very easily doing a walk-through to discover who is listed in many buildings and in many dwellings. But setting that aside, at least what we're doing is minimizing the impromptu use of the list for the direct mail solicitation, door-to-door and indeed perhaps even for criminal activities. In that sense, then, this is certainly a bill worthy of support.

I am pleased to lend my support to the bill. I hope it is a precursor of a much broader, sweeping reform to the entire Election Act.


Ms Annamarie Castrilli (Downsview): I am delighted to rise today to support Bill 2, An Act to amend the Election Act, brought by my colleague the member for Ottawa South. Before I start, I also would like to echo some of the words that have been said before, that there is critical need to amend the Election Act to bring it into the 20th century as we head into the 21st century. We are, however, dealing today with a very specific amendment, which I support.

I want to very succinctly go through some of the considerations which I have with respect to the bill. The purpose of the list was, as had been indicated before, to provide public access to ensure that the lists were correct, that they were full, that there were no egregious errors. Those lists, however, contain information with respect to names and addresses, the gender and the number of people in the household. While that information may have been protected within very small and comfortable communities, that isn't the society in which we live today, in the main, in Ontario.

The problems are the following: The first is privacy. That privacy is invaded by these lists, there is no question. That has been said before. In my own riding of Downsview in North York, which by the way has the greatest concentration of seniors in the GTA and a substantial number of women and single mothers, this issue becomes of paramount importance. The notion that their names and personal information about them might be posted in public places makes people very, very worried indeed. It makes officials very worried indeed.

The second problem is that the current Election Act contradicts existing legislation, at both the federal and the provincial levels, with regard to privacy. In Ontario, as you know, we have the information and privacy commission, which is set up precisely to ensure that individuals' rights to privacy are safeguarded, and there is some concern that the current Election Act may in fact infringe a generous interpretation of our personal freedoms under the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms.

The third difficulty with the current legislation is that it also contradicts federal legislation on this very issue. The elections act federally has been amended, it's been pointed out before, to ensure that the right to privacy is protected.

Fourthly, the problem is that there is a serious concern that the lists might be used for other purposes, whether those purposes are criminal or otherwise. Quite apart from issues of security, one isn't clear whether these particular lists that are stolen and vandalized are being used to target people in any other way. This indeed is of grave concern.

This particular amendment to the legislation is correct for a whole host of reasons. The first and foremost is that the purpose of accessibility and correctness, which was a stated intent of the list and the publication of the list in the way it was originally published, is preserved. They're preserved by having those lists available at the returning office.

I see some very clear advantages. The advantages are that the purpose of the list is unaffected; privacy is protected; security is enhanced, or at least protected; accessibility remains; and quite frankly the cost is bound to be cheaper because we will not have to have copious lists published and then distributed all through the various electoral ridings.

The weight of the evidence is in favour of this amendment and I urge all members of the House to vote for it.

Mr Mike Colle (Oakwood): I echo really the sentiments of previous speakers on both sides of the House on this and I hope this bill is a catalyst for more comprehensive changes in the Election Act.

I certainly concur with my colleague the member for High Park-Swansea. In the last election the process did not do any kind of service to democracy. The enumeration process was pathetic at best, and so many people were deprived of the right to vote because of this archaic system we have and the inconsistencies we have between the provincial, municipal and federal processes.

As you know, one of the most blatant examples of that is that if you aren't on the voters' list and you show up on voting day, municipally or federally you can still vote; provincially there are so many people who are turned away crying because they cannot vote. They come there with passports, with ID, with birth certificates, and they cannot vote because of the system that is in place right now.

I think this may be typical of the archaic process that is in place. Hopefully, this will be the beginning of a process which puts in an election system that is fair, that is efficient and that works, because at this point in time there are so many anomalies and inconsistencies in the process that, again, a lot of people went through the last election and it left a bad taste in their mouth because the process that is in place has so many quirks and so many inconsistencies in it that it really stops people from exercising their democratic right.

As I said, I hope this bill has perhaps the beginnings of many more comprehensive changes that are needed in the Election Act, and I think even the election commission itself recommended changes last time. I'm not sure why the comprehensive changes weren't brought about during the last Parliament, but I think this posting of names on the lamppost, or whatever it is, in neighbourhoods may be typical of the fact that the electorate doesn't see any real value -- in some cases some of the processes are a hindrance and cause concern among the electorate.

I urge everybody to support Bill 2, and hopefully we can go on from this to overhaul and bring the election process in Ontario into the 21st century to make it accessible to everyone in this province.

Mr Frank Klees (York-Mackenzie): I'm pleased to rise and speak in support of this bill. I don't think that we'll have many opportunities in the course of the sitting of this Legislature to commend members on the opposite side for a very commonsense proposal, and I'm pleased that I do have that opportunity.

I also just want to speak in support of the comments made by my good friend the member for High Park-Swansea, who so eloquently spoke in favour of this bill. We look forward. As the previous member who spoke said, this would only be the beginning of some meaningful reform to the Election Act. I urge members in this House to support this bill.

Mr McGuinty: I want to begin by thanking all members who have commented on my bill and for their contribution to the debate and for their offers of support.

I want, as a point of clarification to comments raised by the member for Cochrane South, just to confirm that my bill merely addresses a provision in the existing legislation which requires that lists be posted in urban areas alone. There is a different practice taking place in rural areas and my bill will not affect that in any way whatsoever.

Furthermore, I would think that given the significant distances my colleague from Cochrane South described in terms of how long it would to drive somewhere to look at the darned list, it would be appropriate that a telephone call be made, if at all possible. The chief election officer has confirmed that if this bill goes through, he would expect that he would make it a more widespread practice to advertise telephone numbers and to make sure that people understand, first of all, that there's an election on and that there's opportunity for them to confirm whether or not they are on the list.

Finally, again, I'm putting forward something here which has been proposed by the chief election officer since 1988. It was supported by the standing committee on the Legislative Assembly in this House in 1990. It's supported by women's groups and by police. I think it's high time we move forward with it.

As well, I want to draw to the attention of, in particular, the members of the government that in the 1991 report of the chief election officer he included some recommended legislative changes. In fact, there are 38 recommendations for changes in there. It's fairly substantive in terms of the kinds and the extent of the changes that have been made. In fact, he also goes so far as to include --

The Deputy Speaker (Mr Bert Johnson): The member's time has expired.

Mr McGuinty: It's all there. Anyway, I thank the members for their attention. I appreciate their support.


The Deputy Speaker (Mr Bert Johnson): Ballot item number 7, private member's notice of motion number 4, standing in the name of Mrs Munro: Is there anyone opposed to taking a vote on this now?

Is it the pleasure of the House that this motion carry? Carried.


The Deputy Speaker (Mr Bert Johnson): Ballot item number 8, the second reading of Bill 2, An Act to amend the Election Act, standing in the name of Mr McGuinty: Is there anyone opposed to taking a vote on this now?

Is it the pleasure of the House that this motion carry? Carried.

The bill is referred to committee of the whole.

It now being 12 o'clock, this House is adjourned until 1:30 o'clock.

The House recessed from 1202 to 1331.



Mr Mario Sergio (Yorkview): The list of broken Tory election promises continues to grow. During the election, Mike Harris continually gave his assurances to the people of this province that there would be no new health care user fees. We now know, through a leaked ministry document, that the Conservative government is presently considering implementing user fees or, as the Minister of Health chooses to label them, copayments. While the minister chooses to play this game of semantics, seniors in this province face the disturbing prospect of shelling out more money for their drug prescriptions.

The problem is that many of Ontario's seniors are presently on a fixed income and can't afford such an increase for prescription medication. The Common Sense Revolution promised that there would be no user fees with respect to health care and that any government cutbacks would not hurt seniors. However, the seniors and others who rely on the Ontario drug benefit plan now know that these promises were not worth the paper they were written on.

It is time for this government to do the right thing; it is time for the Premier to show some compassion; it is time for the Minister of Health to stop playing games with the seniors of this province and live up to their promise and not introduce health care user fees.


Mr Tony Martin (Sault Ste Marie): I rise today in recognition of the very difficult challenge we all face in trying to provide competent and timely health care to the residents of northern Ontario.

I am formally and publicly inviting the Minister of Health to visit Sault Ste Marie and Wawa to see at first hand two initiatives that have been developed over a number of years by these two communities to respond to the very critical need to have health professionals and services readily available.

The first initiative is the Group Health Centre in Sault Ste Marie. This is an internationally renowned institution of health services delivered cooperatively by doctors, nurse practitioners, registered nurses, physiotherapists, optometrists and a multitude of other medical practitioners guided by a community-based board of directors.

The second initiative is the North Algoma Health Organization. This program is run along the same lines as the Group Health Centre in the Sault and is just beginning to take shape in Wawa. In both instances the local communities have taken responsibility for the operation. They have been creative and courageous. They are working cooperatively to the benefit of both the community and the health care professionals.

I have spoken personally to you about this, Minister, and I know you have been invited previously by these organizations. Today Bud Wildman, my colleague the member for Algoma, and I personally invite you to visit these two centres. We will be your hosts, if you like, so that you might have the benefit of our experience and understanding of how valuable and important both these operations are to health care in the north.


Mr Joseph N. Tascona (Simcoe Centre): I wish to share some encouraging statistics which represent a decrease in the number of welfare cases in Barrie and an increase in the number of these people who have found jobs since the government's announcement to reduce welfare payments. In August, 33 cases were closed because these people found jobs. Another 43 were closed in September, for the same reason: These people found work. In October another 25 people found work and got off the system.

Since the Minister of Finance made his announcement in July, the total number of welfare recipients in Barrie has dropped each month. In August there were 1,653 cases, 1,034 of whom were employable. In September there were 1,535 cases, 923 of whom were employable. The most recent data for the month of October show there were 1,323 cases, and 762 of these people were considered employable.

I say that if 101 people found jobs between July and October there is work out there, and the cuts announced by the minister are encouraging people to go out and find work.


Mr Frank Miclash (Kenora): The staff of the Vermilion Bay Area Social Planning Council and the residents of the Vermilion Bay area are concerned about this government's elimination of their community program funding. The council has been serving the Vermilion Bay area for over 17 years and works on behalf of more than 1,600 residents who use its services.

The drastic cuts by the Harris government will result in eliminating or reducing vital community programs which cater to the needs of seniors, the disabled and children. While the government claims it wants to cut recreational program funding, it is actually destroying numerous home support services for seniors -- services such as Meals on Wheels, medical transportation for seniors, home maintenance and visits for seniors, seniors telephone hotline and the emergency response system for seniors. This government's cuts to planning councils throughout the province are simply unjust, cruel and irresponsible.

Tomorrow night I am meeting with the volunteers and staff of the Vermilion Bay social planning council. I wish I could explain the common sense of these Conservative cuts, especially in light of the Premier's election promise which stated in the Common Sense Revolution, "Aid for seniors and the disabled will not be cut." But obviously, there isn't any common sense here. There is no common sense to these cuts, just as there is no common sense to this government.


Ms Marilyn Churley (Riverdale): Earlier this week the Coalition for Good Planning drew attention to the Tory plan to gut the Planning Act. These protections were put in place by the NDP government to safeguard our environment and preserve our prime farm land. I suggest to the minister that his plan to repeal planning reforms is based on the false premise that the legislation wasn't working. The new law was only just proclaimed in March of this year and the province had barely begun to switch over to the new system. What kind of logic is this?

And another logical flaw: Urban sprawl is expensive to service, whether we are talking about policing, fire protection, transportation or other services. Where's the common sense in that?

Recently, the minister told a meeting of the Canadian Bar Association that the policies themselves are weighted too heavily towards protecting the environment. Apparently the minister also feels the current legislation is too heavily weighted towards ensuring public input on planning issues, since the minister also plans to scale that back significantly with Bill 20.

There you have it. Like so many of this government's decisions, repealing these important reforms is based not on rational assessment of the facts but on ideology: "Nothing must get in the way of unfettered development. Drain the wetlands and pave over that prime farm land; here comes another mall and another parking lot."


Mr Trevor Pettit (Hamilton Mountain): Recently, the Ontario Police and Firefighters Bravery Awards were handed out at the University of Toronto by Ontario's Lieutenant Governor and the Solicitor General.

I am very proud to say that one of the recipients was Constable Thomas Britt of Hamilton-Wentworth Regional Police Force, who is a resident of my riding of Hamilton Mountain.

One evening, while off duty, Constable Britt was called to a very dangerous situation by a neighbour. Constable Britt entered a residence where a man was threatening to kill himself with a sawed-off shotgun, which he had cocked. After escorting other occupants of the house to safety, Constable Britt confronted the distraught man. While having the gun pointed at him, Constable Britt was able to talk to the man, disengage the firearm and prevent a potentially tragic event. Constable Britt displayed tremendous bravery on that evening.

I would like to salute Constable Thomas Britt of Hamilton Mountain, along with all the other recipients of this year's bravery awards for their tremendous acts of courage. All too often, the excellent work done by our police and fire departments goes unnoticed. I ask all members of the House to join me today in acknowledging the efforts of these men and women of valour. They deserve our ongoing support and encouragement as they carry out their difficult duties and, in so doing, make all our communities better places in which to live.

I'm honoured to present to the House today the pride of the Hamilton-Wentworth Regional Police Force and indeed, the pride of Hamilton Mountain, Constable Thomas Britt, who is accompanied by his wife, Linda.



Mr Rick Bartolucci (Sudbury): In less than eight hours from now, a major event in Sudbury will be plugged in. The north's largest display of Christmas lights will be turned on at 7 pm on the grounds of Science North. The evening will also feature the Living Nativity presented by All Nations Church.

This display known as the Festival of Lights is a total community effort. It is bigger this year thanks to the donation of several silhouettes made by the Industrial Trades Centre for Women. The event is sponsored by the Sudbury Charities Foundation, which has over the last five years donated tens of thousands of dollars to the needy.

This event is more than a Festival of Lights. It is a festival of sharing, it is a festival of caring and a festival of our love for our fellow man. This cavalcade of lights provides a ray of hope for the disadvantaged and for those who require the assistance of others to provide for a happy Christmas for needy children.

Our community of Sudbury is proud of the care we show for others and invites the public to visit the display free of charge daily from 4 until 11 pm through to January 7. The Sudbury Charities Foundation will have a kettle set up to accept donations from spectators. Due to this provincial government's insensitivity to the needy, we are confident that the total of $32,000 collected last year will be eclipsed as the community of Sudbury rallies around those in need.

I am honoured to be a part of the opening ceremonies this evening at 7 pm and invite the Premier and all the cabinet ministers, who may be in town early to attend the $150-a-plate gala Tory fund-raiser in Sudbury, to participate.


Ms Shelley Martel (Sudbury East): I want to bring to the attention of the Premier yet another organization in the riding of Sudbury East which is a victim of Conservative funding cuts.

The Community Action Network/Réseau action communautaire was incorporated in 1989 and received registered charity status in 1994. CANRAC is a multiservice agency which identifies and delivers a range of health, social services, education, recreation and child care services in Sudbury district east, a rural district containing both municipalities and unorganized areas.

Since its inception, CANRAC has run a literacy program, summer programs for children and youth, coordinated visits and outreach by a chiropractor, the Sudbury and District Health Unit and the VON, and has assisted seniors needing legal assistance and aid in completing health and tax documents. In 1995, the organization became the sponsor for the JobLink Resource Centre in Sudbury district east, opened up three job banks, started three play centres and completed a study of primary health care needs which was leading to a proposal for a community health centre.

This Conservative government is cancelling 100% of CANRAC's funding by December 31. There is no other organization in Sudbury district east which operates a similar network of important services.

The chair of the board has invited Mike Harris to meet members of the organization when he's in Sudbury tomorrow. They can't afford to pay $150 per plate to attend the Tory fund-raiser, but they are prepared to meet with him anywhere else at any time. Maybe if Mike Harris actually talked to people providing important public services, he would then value their work and continue to fund them.


Mr Ed Doyle (Wentworth East): Later today I'll be presenting a petition on behalf of the students and parents of Cardinal Newman Catholic Secondary School, located in my riding. They've asked me to convey to this House their desire for a rebuilt school in one location. In fact, they've been trying to accomplish this goal for over 10 years.

Currently, the 1,400-plus students of Cardinal Newman are spread out between two campuses located 10 kilometres apart. The mere fact that they're unable to be at one location severely hinders the delivery of high-quality education. Moreover, this separation necessitates midday transfers of students and teachers alike in order for them to reach their next class.

In addition, due to the fact that large portions of the heating systems, the roof and the windows are irreparable and that there are more students than can be accommodated efficiently, Cardinal Newman has had to resort to using up to 29 portables at times.

As a proud member of the Mike Harris government, I have made a solemn commitment to the Common Sense Revolution. This commitment is extended to getting the spending crisis under control. We must do this now before it's too late and there is no Cardinal Newman school at all. The changes that we'll be making over the next few weeks and months will make it possible for our government to improve the education system in our province.

It is my sincerest desire that during the next four years the students of Cardinal Newman will be able to learn and flourish in a proper learning atmosphere. A new school would help accomplish this goal.



Hon John Snobelen (Minister of Education and Training): I'd like to begin my statement today by pointing out to members that some of the members of the Ontario Public School Boards' Association are in attendance today. Particularly, the association's president, Donna Cansfield, and the executive director, Mike Benson, and all the members of the association's executive council are with us today.

Today I'm very pleased to announce another important initiative that reflects this government's commitment to providing accountability and excellence in education for Ontario students and taxpayers.

This initiative follows other recently announced reforms to Ontario's education system, including secondary school reform and the establishment of the Ontario College of Teachers.

Our government will introduce a comprehensive testing program to be undertaken by an independent agency. This agency, called the Education Quality and Accountability Office, will monitor and report to the public on the performance of our province's education system. It will be the first of its kind in Canada. We will introduce legislation to bring this about.

To be truly accountable, our education system must provide relevant information on how well Ontario students are learning. Testing students regularly on their level of knowledge and skills and reporting test results objectively will help improve student performance and boost public confidence in our elementary and secondary schools.

The agency's first task will be to introduce comprehensive testing in the province. It will test all students in grade 3 in reading, writing and mathematics, and all students in grade 11, along with sample groups of students in grades 6 and 9. The first grade 3 test will be administered in the next school year. The agency will also manage the province's participation in national and international tests.

An important function of the agency will be to report annually to government and to the public on the performance of our education system. As well as providing a snapshot of student performance in English- and French-language schools, the agency's report will also make recommendations on changes to improve education.

By dedicating itself exclusively to improving the quality of Ontario education, the agency will respond to the public's demand for closer scrutiny and greater accountability in education.

The concept of such a specifically focused agency at arm's length from government was one of the recommendations of the Royal Commission on Learning. We are not establishing the $25-million version proposed by the previous government, but rather a much more effective agency that will cost approximately $15 million.

An interesting feature of this agency is that, once up and running, it will eventually be able to explore the possibilities of marketing its expertise to jurisdictions outside Ontario.

This initiative is part of our government's long-range strategy to provide Ontario students and taxpayers with a high-quality, accountable and affordable education system that is second to none, and today's announcement is another step forward towards achieving that vision.

In establishing the Education Quality and Accountability Office, our government is making a commitment to quality assessment and a long-term investment that will lead to ongoing improvement of student performance and of the entire education system.


Hon Charles Harnick (Attorney General, minister responsible for native affairs): I am pleased to announce today that this government is introducing for first reading a Victims' Bill of Rights, An Act respecting Victims of Crime.

With this legislation, Ontario will have one of the most comprehensive Victims' Bills of Rights in the country. This initiative reflects the important role that victims play at all stages of the criminal justice process. The Victims' Bill of Rights is an important step by this government to refocus the justice system so that victims of crime are given the recognition and the support they deserve.

This government will not accept a system that allows victims of crime to suffer twice: first at the hands of the criminal and, second, under a justice system that does not respond to and respect victims' needs.

However, we are faced with the challenge of improving the plight of victims while remaining fiscally responsible. It is not an easy task, but we will do the best we can to provide for the needs of victims during these difficult economic times.

Our Victims' Bill of Rights will legislate a set of principles to support victims throughout the criminal justice process by providing them with supportive, respectful and courteous treatment. It will support access to information at all stages of the criminal justice process. It will support access to civil remedies for victims who are seeking redress. It will support child witnesses by amending the Ontario Evidence Act to make it easier for children to be witnesses at civil proceedings. It will support the provision of better information to victims about the conditional release of offenders from provincial institutions.


This bill will also enshrine the victims' justice fund, guaranteeing that moneys collected under the victim fine surcharge will be solely dedicated to providing services for victims.

Today's announcement is one of our government's initiatives to provide victims with the support they deserve. The announcement also fulfils our election promise to introduce a bill of rights for victims of crime.

I remind the House today that this legislation is a major step towards striking the proper balance between the rights of the accused and the needs of the victim. Our government is dedicated to bringing about meaningful change to the way victims are treated in the criminal justice system.

I would like to take this opportunity to thank my colleague the Honourable Cam Jackson, MPP for Burlington South, whose dedication to advancing this bill is gratefully acknowledged. As a private member Mr Jackson first introduced a Victims' Bill of Rights in 1989, and his efforts since that time have been unceasing on behalf of victims.

I would also like to thank my honourable colleagues the Solicitor General and Minister of Correctional Services, Bob Runciman; the Minister of Community and Social Services, David Tsubouchi; the minister responsible for women's issues, Dianne Cunningham; and the Minister of Health, Jim Wilson, who have supported and helped to refine this historic bill.

I call on members of this Legislature to do something they have refused to do up to now; that is, to support a Victims' Bill of Rights by supporting this very important piece of legislation.


Hon Ernie L. Eves (Deputy Premier, Minister of Finance and Government House Leader): I rise today to announce that the government will shortly be introducing legislation that will require organizations that receive public funding to disclose annually the names, positions, salaries and benefits of employees paid $100,000 or more a year.

The purpose of the Public Sector Salary Disclosure Act, 1995, is to make the public sector more open and accountable to taxpayers. It will give the public the kind of information to which they are entitled about how the province and public bodies it funds compensate their senior staff. We committed to this in the Common Sense document and we are delivering.

The salaries and benefits paid to the public sector have not recently been a matter of public record, even though they were paid out of the public purse. This bill is a sunshine law that will permit the taxpayers of Ontario to obtain information that has previously been shrouded in unnecessary secrecy. Indeed, the Information and Privacy Commissioner has called for broader public disclosure of public sector salaries. Taxpayers have a right to this information so they can compare an organization's performance and priorities with the way it compensates its senior staff.

The disclosure requirement will start with the 1995 calendar year and will apply to public organizations in the province's jurisdiction that receive funding from taxpayers. These include the Ontario public service and the Legislative Assembly; provincial crown corporations and agencies such as Ontario Hydro, the Liquor Control Board of Ontario and the Workers' Compensation Board; and municipalities, school boards, colleges, universities, hospitals and other organizations that receive transfer payments from the province of at least $1 million annually or 10% of their gross revenues, if that amount is $120,000 or more a year.

Organizations will be required to give public access to this information at no charge by March 31 of the following calendar year.

We believe public sector employees will support this initiative. However, the bill will authorize the government to hold back part or all of the organization's transfer payments if they do not comply. If this is still the case at the end of the government's fiscal year, the funds will be used to reduce the deficit.

We are committed to returning the meaning of the word "public" to public sector salaries. The Public Sector Salary Disclosure Act, 1995, will serve the interests of Ontario taxpayers by making the provincial government and publicly funded organizations more accountable.


Mr Richard Patten (Ottawa Centre): I am pleased to respond to the statement by the Minister of Education and Training concerning the testing program that is being put forward and also the establishment of an independent agency that will monitor and report on this.

I do, of course, have a few concerns still with parts of the statement, Mr Minister. One is that between grade 3 and grade 11 are many years -- eight years -- and some of those are formative years in the life of a young person. That obviously will have some impact on testing capacity as young people grow and mature and change their perceptions of who they are.

The sample testing that you refer to is nothing new. It is going on all the time but cannot really replace a province-wide basis. I would be interested to hear more, when the legislation is introduced, in terms of how he perceives this testing program to be more effective than what is there at the moment, especially in terms of introducing a province-wide testing program when we don't have a province-wide curriculum. So we will be testing people with one standard when from board to board the curriculum may vary.

The other point would be: What are some of the other factors that will influence testing? Will this agency adopt the sensitivities that will take into consideration the nutritional needs of children, which we know affect testing? Will it take into consideration those youngsters with special needs, and how will that be managed by this particular body?

I look forward to seeing the legislation come forward. My final question would be, where will the $15 million come from? It's not in the budget of the Education ministry at the moment. Anticipating some kind of cutbacks from the government, I'd be curious as to know where this $15 million may come from.


Ms Annamarie Castrilli (Downsview): I'm delighted to rise to respond to the Attorney General. I would remind the Attorney General that he's just a trifle late in introducing his victims' legislation. I remind the Attorney General that we announced our legislation in mid-October; indeed, there was first reading on October 30.

Let me, for the benefit of members from the other side, just outline some of the issues that we hope will be in this bill and were indeed included in ours. I hope that the legislation will include a satisfactory and contemporary definition of what a victim should be, which should include a spouse, a parent or other specified relatives of victims who may have died as a result of crime, and even guardians in those particular circumstances. A victim, I hope, will be informed by the police of the services that are available for the victim and the relative provisions that apply in the specified statutes, and that this be done in a timely fashion.

Victims should be kept informed by the crown attorneys' office as well of the progress that is made with respect to the investigation of their crime and of any charges that are laid in connection with the crime. Victims should also be given an opportunity to discuss plea bargains with the crown attorneys' office, and victims of sexual offences should be interviewed by police officers or officials of the same gender.

Our bill also provides that victims should be informed by the crown attorneys' office of the progress of court proceedings and should be given an opportunity to make victim impact statements before a person convicted of a crime is sentenced.

In addition, victims of a crime should be provided information with respect to the custody of the person who was convicted of committing the crime and should be given an opportunity to make representation. These are standards that we hope the Attorney General will follow.

We have some questions, sir, about things that you've not in fact dealt with. What will be the status of plea bargaining with respect to victims of crime? We don't see that here. We don't see any real addition to the victims of crime fund that you are talking about. Those sums are minimal; they're not in fact real funds that you are adding. We hope that they will be applied appropriately to the victims.



Mr Bud Wildman (Algoma): I rise to respond briefly to the Minister of Education and Training's statement with regard to testing. Not only did the minister fail to give credit where credit was due in terms of the proposals for testing, he also failed in his statement to make it clear that this is a major backoff from what was committed to by the previous government with regard to comprehensive testing of students' performance across the province.

Rather than testing at grades 3, 6, 9 and 11 across the province, the minister is proposing only to test comprehensively reading, writing and mathematics at grade 3 and grade 11, with sample testing at grades 6 and 9. As my colleague the member for Ottawa Centre indicated, there is a great time lag and distance between grades 3 and 11, and it would be unfortunate if we aren't able to test comprehensively the success of students across the province at all of those levels.

I suppose this is how the minister is saving the $10 million that he argues is going to provide a more effective and efficient testing program for $15 million rather than the $25 million which was budgeted by the previous government. How this is going to be more effective remains to be seen. I would hope also the minister would make it clear that this is an attempt to look at the overall performance of Ontario's English- and French-language students and not an attempt to set up a sampling of various schools for a comparison base.


Mrs Marion Boyd (London Centre): In response to the Attorney General, these are fine words, and as I've said in this House before, fine words butter no parsnips. Fine words don't help victims of crime. What helps victims of crime are services. Quite frankly, it would be very interesting for all of us to see exactly what these fine words actually mean when services are being destroyed all around this province and taken away from battered women, from children who are abused. It is quite an interesting aspect.

Our government refused consistently to do the kind of window dressing that your government thinks you're going to get away with in this province. Victims of crime are not going to be at all fooled by the kind of fine words that you have in this bill.

Your first point, legislating a set of principles: Does that set of principles include victim-witness services in every court location in the province? Oh, that wouldn't be fiscally responsible. Support to access of information at all stages: What is the punishment if that access isn't given? What is the recourse of a victim if that does not happen? Support access to civil remedies for victims who are seeking redress: What does that mean? We're going to a tort system? Does that mean withdrawal of support from the Criminal Injuries Compensation Board? Does that mean that you're going to force victims, on their own, without the support of legal aid, which has been withdrawn for civil cases, to go into the courts and try and get redress for the criminal injuries that have been foisted upon them?

We're delighted that you're changing the child witness act to make evidence easier, but we see that as a bit of a farce when you're withdrawing services from children by cutting children's aid societies, by cutting a lot of the supportive mental health services that are available for children. We certainly support the provision of better information to victims about conditional release of offenders, but where's the protection in information? Where is the guarantee from the Solicitor General that those released offenders will be monitored? It's not here, and victims will not be fooled by these fine words.


Mr Bob Rae (York South): I simply want to say directly to the Minister of Education and Training that this is the third announcement that he's made with respect to education, and for a first-time member and a first-time minister it might be useful for him to at least recognize that the former minister and, if I may say so, the former deputy minister, who was summarily fired by your government, were in fact very responsible for the steps which you are announcing.

What I find ironic is that in your announcement today you're providing less testing than was recommended by the royal commission, less testing than was agreed to by our government in the spring of this year. Perhaps, when you come into the House and announce that you're moving ahead with secondary school reform and the establishment of the Ontario College of Teachers, a little humility, just a dash of humility, might be in order in terms of recognizing the kind of work that went into --

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



Mrs Lyn McLeod (Leader of the Opposition): My first question is for the Minister of Health; it's a very simple and straightforward question. Minister, is your ministry drafting any changes to the Public Hospitals Act, and if so, could you outline for this House what those changes might be?

Hon Jim Wilson (Minister of Health): In meetings recently with the Ontario Hospital Association, they have asked us to consider a number of tools that they would like in place and would like this government to consider, given that we have already signalled that we will be moving ahead with hospital restructuring in this province.

Mrs McLeod: I take that to mean that the minister is indeed looking at changes to the Public Hospitals Act. We had received information that you were indeed in the process of drafting changes without apparently any consultation, so it does raise some concerns about the nature of the changes that you might be proposing. Minister, you may be aware there are some rumours and some very real concerns about whether or not you are looking at some fairly significant changes. One of the changes we've heard you might be considering is the creation of a new body called the Provincial Restructuring Commission.

As I understand it, the purpose of this body would be to manage or perhaps control hospital restructurings across the province. In other words, that sounds to me like you would be somehow stripping district health councils of their role in planning and giving that responsibility to a new centralized body set up by your ministry.

Another potential change we've heard word of would be even more disturbing, and that's the question of whether or not you are drafting legislation that would give you, as Minister of Health, the ability to unilaterally close hospitals. Minister, you have an opportunity today to put the rumours to rest and say that this is not so.

I ask you, will you rule out the possibility of stripping district health councils of their planning role? And will you rule out any possibility of giving yourself the power to unilaterally close hospitals?

Hon Mr Wilson: I don't know where the honourable member gets her information, other than to say that with respect to the implementation of restructurings, the advice that you're talking about came from the Ontario Hospital Association itself. If that's where your information is coming from, you may want to go back and ask them. I don't sit around at night thinking up ideas on what tools others may need to restructure the system. I've been listening to our partners out there, and while we're reviewing all our programs and our legislation in this area, we've been taking into consideration their suggestions and suggestions that have come from the district health councils themselves.

It is clear to me, in my personal opinion, that the people who write these district health council hospital restructuring reports have a great problem actually implementing them. We have said very clearly to the DHCs, "We want you to continue your planning role," so that part of your question isn't correct.

The second part, though, is with respect to implementing hospital restructurings. We do need a system in place to help district health councils implement their plans; nothing secret in this. I said it publicly in my Ontario Hospital Association speech two weeks ago, I've said it with all of our partners and we've asked for their ideas on how we actually go about, in a smooth and cooperative way, implementing DHC hospital restructuring studies once the DHCs have done those studies with no interference from Queen's Park.


Mrs McLeod: There were a great deal of words in response to that question, and what I asked the minister was to rule out any possibility of his bringing in legislation to this House that would give the Minister of Health the unilateral ability to close hospitals. I am more than a little surprised that with all of the words, and I listened very carefully to the minister's response, he did not rule out the possibility that he would be giving himself the power to close hospitals.

I take from your refusal to say that you were ruling that out that you are at least considering that kind of a change. I can't believe you're serious about giving yourself the ability to decide what hospitals will stay open and what hospitals will close. We all know that the decisions about hospital restructuring are difficult ones to make and we all know that communities are anguishing over making those difficult decisions. If there are problems with the district health council in the implementation, surely you don't eliminate their role or step in and take over; surely you fix the problems and facilitate it.

I wonder, if you bring in this power that you will be able to step in and arbitrarily make those final decisions on behalf of communities, how you are going to exercise this new and arbitrary power that you would give yourself. I almost find myself wondering if you've got some kind of a hit list of hospitals, that you've already made decisions about which hospitals are going to stay open and which hospitals are going to close, much like your colleague the Solicitor General.

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

Mrs McLeod: Minister, I ask you, how are you going to exercise this arbitrary authority, and what has happened to your view that ultimately it is the local communities who can best decide what is in their interests and according to their needs?

Hon Mr Wilson: I'm going to say as calmly as I can to the honourable member that the reason governments have been unable to come to grips with the need to restructure the hospital sector is because of comments like this and politics like this from the leader of the Liberal Party.

She knows very well that this government has no list of hospitals to close. She knows very well that for a number of years, and millions of dollars later, district health councils have been examining their own local communities and trying to figure out how to maintain and enhance the quality of services in their area, given the limited financial restraints that all of the sectors of our economy and broader public sector are under.

I think we should be celebrating the fact that district health councils without political interference from Queen's Park have been planning together, have been looking where there are redundancies in the system, have been trying the very best they can to eliminate waste and duplication and to try and make the hospital system more efficient for their local communities and maintain quality services.

I for one see good news in the work our district health councils are doing, and since coming to office -- and I give credit to the NDP government and the process they started -- we are trying to support district health councils in their planning role and to help them implement the results of their studies.

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

Mrs McLeod: Methinks the minister protests too much. I merely asked him what changes he's planning to bring in, when he's going to bring them in and who he's going to --

The Speaker: Who is your question to? Do you have a question?

Hon Mr Wilson: You're an old-style politician.

The Speaker: Order. Who is your second question to?


Mrs Lyn McLeod (Leader of the Opposition): To the Minister of Health, although I will turn for the moment to another subject and hope the minister can provide greater clarity on earlier answers that he's provided to the House, particularly on the issue of his plan -- we understand his plan -- to charge user fees for patients on the Ontario drug benefit plan.

Last week, Minister, you told my colleague the member for Oriole that your government will not introduce user fees on medically necessary services. I'm trying to be very careful to quote you directly. I'm sure that patients who use the Ontario drug benefit plan were very relieved to hear you make that commitment in this House because of the concerns they've had about introducing user fees.

I'd like to ask you a very specific question about the commitment you made last week. If a person is prescribed medication by a medical doctor for a medical condition such as, for example, breast cancer or diabetes, is it your opinion that that medication is or is not medically necessary?

Hon Jim Wilson (Minister of Health): The term "medically necessary" comes from the Canada Health Act itself and is used by people in the business of health care specifically within the context. This government, as you know, does not decide what is medically necessary in a unilateral way. Those decisions are made by the medical community and recommendations from time to time on what will be listed under the definition of the Canada Health Act and what will not be listed come from the medical community themselves. Those recommendations are then dealt with by government.

With respect to copayments, we're not doing anything different than what the Honourable Elinor Caplan, when she was Health minister in 1988, was looking at. She said at that time:

"We have in place right now a system of copayment for chronic care. I believe that there may be other appropriate copayment opportunities which are not a deterrent to appropriate services."

I can confirm with the honourable member that indeed her party, the Liberal Party, in its time in office was looking at the same programs that we're looking at today. I can confirm that.

Mrs McLeod: I wonder if by the end of this session we'll be able to stop reminding this minister that he is now the Minister of Health, that his government's commitments are what is at issue, and certainly what's at issue today, because I remember the commitment in the campaign document of the now government very clearly.

It said in very clear language, "Under this plan, there will be no new user fees." It doesn't say, "No new user fees except for those on the Ontario drug benefit plan," it doesn't say, "No new user fees except for those items that are not covered by the Canada Health Act," and you have tried to wiggle out of that commitment by using those kinds of exceptions before. But last week you said, as clearly as I thought you could say, that there would be no new user fees on medically necessary services.

Now, Minister, I agree that you do not decide what is medically necessary, so my question again: If you agree with me that medication prescribed by doctors as medically necessary is medically necessary, how can you justify even considering imposing user fees for the Ontario drug benefit plan?

Hon Mr Wilson: If we were to bring in user fees --


Hon Mr Wilson: Excuse me -- then we would be in violation of the Canada Health Act. You tell me, honourable member, how nine other provinces have copayments on their drug plans and all kinds of other plans, and yet no one today says those are user fees in violation of the Canada Health Act.

Mrs McLeod: I say to this minister, in case he has somehow forgotten as he obfuscates the issue with words, that his leader, when he was the leader of the third party, made the following statements. I draw your attention to the statements of your leader, because they were very clear and very unequivocal. "A fee hike is a tax hike; a copayment is a user fee." Your leader also said, "The debate over health care is too important for politicians to deceive the public with misleading language."

You can use all the weasel words you want, Minister, about medically necessary services and copayments and levies and the Canada Health Act and whatever else you care to do, but the fact is your leader was right. This issue is too important to too many people for weasel words and game-playing.

Will you give us your assurance now that next week's economic statement will not include any new user fees for health care and keep the commitment clearly and unequivocally that your government made?

Hon Mr Wilson: I'd be happy to keep our commitment in terms of -- right on the same page that we talk about health care, we talk about the Canada Health Act. Again I repeat that, unlike groups right now that we're having discussions with that want us to bring in user fees on medically necessary services under the Canada Health Act, I'm resisting that and we will not be bringing in user fees on medically necessary services as defined by the Canada Health Act.

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

Mr Bob Rae (York South): User fee, copayment; user fee, copayment. That's how it works.



Mr Bob Rae (York South): I have a question to the Minister of Community and Social Services. Yesterday my office got a phone call from a young woman by the name of Lisa George who lives in the Niagara region, and she's the mother of two disabled children. This is yet another instance of a family where her benefits have been cut. She's at home taking care of her children.

One of her children takes medication which inhibits his ability to gain weight. Now, because of the 22% cut in her family benefits, she can no longer afford the high-fat foods that were recommended by her doctor and helping her son to gain weight.

I wonder if the minister is now prepared to at least publicly admit that one of the impacts of the 21.6% cut in social assistance payments is in fact to hurt the single parents of disabled children.

Hon David H. Tsubouchi (Minister of Community and Social Services): First of all, I'm not denying that there are some tough times out there for some people. This is probably about the 12th time I've answered the same question from various people from across the room and we've been pretty consistent in what we've been saying. Quite frankly, unless we're prepared -- and we are prepared -- to really realistically and quite frankly dedicatedly reform the welfare system, this situation will not change.

We inherited 1.3 million people on the welfare system, and this is a fact that the people across the room are not willing to accept, the responsibility for having this kind of a load given to the people of Ontario. Unless we really change this and give people the opportunity to get back to work and do various other measures, this is not going to be fixed. But we also have other programs that do assist disabled children at home.

Mr Rae: In this instance as well, Lisa George had a special tutor to help her children, who had and who have serious behaviour problems which are affecting their ability to do well in school. As a result of the 21.6% loss in her income, she's no longer able to hire that person to help the children with their schooling needs. So in effect what the minister is doing is not only affecting these children's health, but also affecting their education.

Is the minister at least now prepared to recognize that disabled children are being hurt by the cuts, and if that is the case, why would he be supporting an income tax cut to people making more than $50,000 as opposed to trying to do something to help people like Lisa George and her kids?

Hon Mr Tsubouchi: What this really is about is having priorities, and the reason why this government is not in a position to do as much as we'd like to do, quite frankly, is once again -- I mean, it's very easy for people to deny their own liability in all of this.

Mr Gilles Pouliot (Lake Nipigon): She can't defend herself. She's too small to defend herself.

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

Hon Mr Tsubouchi: The people who are yelling the loudest are the ones who are the most responsible for our inability to really provide more funds.

Mr Pouliot: Shame on you, the party of infamy.

The Speaker: Order. The member for Lake Nipigon, I will not warn him again: continuously out of order. Minister.

Hon Mr Tsubouchi: When I'm speaking about priorities, had some sort of restraint been exercised by the previous government, we would be in a position to really provide more funds to the areas in which we need to through my ministry. Quite frankly, these areas are the disabled and our elderly and children in need of protection, and these people have taken away our ability to really allocate more funds to do this. Clearly people should start looking at themselves in the mirror instead of looking at me.

Mr Rae: Perhaps I could ask the minister what kind of priorities it says about our province -- and we are ones who are involved with the United Nations convention for children -- what sorts of priorities are they that say to a stockbroker making $150,000 to $200,000 a year, "We're going to give you a tax break of somewhere between $5,000 and $10,000 minimum," and say to Lisa George, who's taking care of a couple of kids at home, that she's going to suffer a cut of 22%, that her kids are no longer going to get the diet they need, that her kids are no longer going to get the educational help they need? Is this really the kind of province that the Minister of Community and Social Services is trying to build? Is this really what it's come down to?

Hon Mr Tsubouchi: It's not so much what I'm trying to build, but the government right now is trying to build a province that will take responsibility, which will exercise proper spending, and that's quite the opposite, because the previous government really started destroying the economy and destroying the lifestyle of people in Ontario by their overspending.

What we've done is we've created a committee of people who are front-line workers, people who are involved with providing the direct services to the disabled community, to help us define our core services, to help us put together a structure that is workable in Ontario today.


Mr Bob Rae (York South): To the same minister: On November 1, the Metro family residence experienced an all-time high in occupancy, 1,450 parents and children, when the usual occupancy is somewhere between 700 and 800. I wonder if the minister can tell us, is he now prepared to accept that the cuts which he has introduced in his ministry have any responsibility at all for this current situation.

Hon David H. Tsubouchi (Minister of Community and Social Services): If I could beg your indulgence, I missed the first part of the leader of the third party's question.

Mr Rae: If he missed it, I'll try again. The Metro hostel has doubled the number of women and children that it normally has, and my simple question to him is, is he at last prepared to recognize that the cuts that he has introduced have some responsibility for this situation?

Hon Mr Tsubouchi: Perhaps we should answer that question with another question. Perhaps the leader of the third party can tell me that in 1990 to 1991 the use of hostels increased as well, and that was the time in which the government of the day was throwing money at the problem. There are a lot of glib answers coming from across the room, but the fact remains that we're committed to providing a support system out there for people in Ontario.

Mr Rae: I wonder if the minister, if he's not prepared to answer that simple question, perhaps could turn his mind to another example, and that is that in Sault Ste Marie the Christmas Cheer Depot opened its doors for the season, and the list of needy families is already double the number from last year. The economic conditions this year in the Sault are not drastically different in terms of unemployment. The recession has not had any less or more impact this year than last. The only thing we can point to is the drastic cut in social assistance benefits for a great many people in the Sault.

Is the minister at least prepared to recognize that the impact of his cuts is to increase the number of people in hostels and to increase the number of people who are describing themselves as needy, families in need of direct charity assistance? Is he at least prepared to recognize that this is the impact of what he's doing?

Hon Mr Tsubouchi: We can start cherry-picking all we like these days, and picking some selections of some areas, but I was reading the paper today and in one of the instances -- and I don't remember the actual city, but we can certainly find out -- they indicated they didn't really notice much of an increase in the use of hostels as well. We can look at one side or the other, but the fact remains that the government is still providing funding for about 4,500 emergency hostel beds throughout the province.

Mr Rae: I want to ask the minister this question then: What exactly is it going to take, if it's not the situation of Lisa George, if it's not the increase in number of people who are using hostels, if it's not the increase in number of families who are describing themselves as needy, what exactly will it take for the minister to appreciate that the impact of what he has done and what he is doing and what his ministry is responsible for is to increase hardship, to increase pain, to increase hunger and to increase the inability of children to learn? What will it take for him to come to terms with those simple, harsh facts of life which are growing in the province?

Hon Mr Tsubouchi: When we inherited this mess from the previous government, there were 1.3 million people trapped without any hope or opportunity in the welfare system, the welfare trap. It sounds very great for someone to look across and ask when we are going to do something about it. They have created the problem here. In fact, what we are going to do, through our workfare program, is provide opportunities for people to become net contributors to society and to make something of themselves.

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

Mrs Sandra Pupatello (Windsor-Sandwich): Finally, the Minister of Community and Social Services has admitted that Mike Harris has declared war on our children. They indeed are not a priority of this government. We really need to get that message to parents out there that Mike Harris has declared war on our children.



Mrs Sandra Pupatello (Windsor-Sandwich): Tomorrow there will be hundreds of parents and children, children who would otherwise be at child care; parents are bringing those children to the Legislature tomorrow to speak with you. I'd like to ask the Minister of Community and Social Services if he would join me on the dais tomorrow.

Hon David H. Tsubouchi (Minister of Community and Social Services): I think it was well expressed by the Premier the other day, who expressed a certain amount of disappointment that through this protest there's going to be a disruption of services to families who use the child care system. Perhaps we should be looking to see exactly what the root of this whole problem is.

The fact remains that we are doing a complete review of the child care area to make sure it's done in a more efficient way and to make sure it's done to service the people of Ontario.

Mrs Pupatello: We're not just talking about parents who are low-income, poor kids; we're not talking about just those parents. We're talking about all parents who have children in child care. Fifty per cent of the workforce is involved in some form of child care, and all these reviews and revisions are frightening to the parents of Ontario.

Tomorrow, it is parents themselves who are walking to the Legislature. From all over Ontario, some 1,000 centres, their parents and children will be walking. The parents I meet around Ontario, 500 in Minister Witmer's riding, parents of every income group, tonight in Thunder Bay how many hundreds of parents, want to hear assurances from the minister that he will not be promoting unregulated, unlicensed child care; that he also won't introduce a voucher system that will virtually destroy the child care industry.

Hon Mr Tsubouchi: What I will say is that our government is committed to providing better and more efficient child care and more choice to parents in this province. The difficulty we've had with the honourable member who just asked the question is that she has been relying so much on non-existent reports. Quite frankly, she herself is distorting the view of the province out there and really inciting people. Perhaps she should explain to the House why she's spending money for 50,000 postcards and postage to send out to infuriate people.


Ms Marilyn Churley (Riverdale): My question is to the Minister of Community and Social Services. I recently received some very disturbing information regarding an incident that apparently took place at the Toronto Boys' Home. I would like to ask the minister if he is aware that on the evening of Friday, November 17, 1995, a 12-year-old girl was reportedly sexually assaulted at the Toronto Boys' Home, which is funded by his ministry. Can the minister explain how such a horrific incident could occur in a supervised group home for juveniles?

Hon David H. Tsubouchi (Minister of Community and Social Services): I apologize to the honourable member; I didn't quite get the first part. The difficulty these days is that there's so much noise in the House, as you fully understand, that it's very difficult for the government to hear and perhaps conduct business in an efficient way. Maybe your phone is going to ring shortly as well.

As the member well knows, I cannot comment on a specific instance with respect to a specific client. If there's a concern about it, I will look into it and I will certainly report back to the member.

Ms Churley: I think this is pretty outrageous. I just asked the minister a question about an alleged reported sexual assault of a 12-year-old girl in the boys' home which is funded by his ministry. Obviously, I'm not talking about the case today; it's going to be before the courts. I take it from his answer that he's not aware of the incident, which astounds me in itself. A 12-year-old girl was reportedly sexually assaulted in a supervised home funded by his ministry.

I would ask him today, what is he going to do, since he hasn't done anything yet and it's almost a week later, to make sure that this kind of thing doesn't happen again? Is he going to review the security systems within this home and others like it? What is going on in his ministry, that an incident as serious as this could take place and he doesn't know a thing about it?

Hon Mr Tsubouchi: I thank the honourable member for bringing this incident to my attention. I am concerned about the allegations that have been raised. There are certain rules and regulations that apply to group homes. I'll take that under advisement, to the honourable member, and I will get back.


Mr Marcel Beaubien (Lambton): My question is for the Minister of Education and Training. Minister, over the years, we've had many studies and reports commissioned with regard to implementing a College of Teachers. In my constituency, many teachers have approached me in the past couple of weeks about this particular subject. They all seem to have concerns. I know the three parties in this House have supported the Royal Commission on Learning. How do you see the College of Teachers carrying on the functions that the Ontario Teachers' Federation provides now? Why should we have a College of Teachers?

Hon John Snobelen (Minister of Education and Training): Before I answer the question from the honourable member, I'd like to point out that the leader of the third party and the member for Algoma are quite correct that any statement on the testing program announced earlier today would be incomplete without an acknowledgement of the work and effort and championing for testing that's gone on by the member for Windsor-Riverside. I'd like to acknowledge his assistance in that regard.

In terms of the advantage we see in a College of Teachers, it's the same advantage the Hall-Dennis report found, the same advantage the royal commission found in its report of last year. It's an understanding that teaching is truly a public trust and that teachers are professionals and that they deserve and need a professional college so they can steer their own profession. That is the advantage.

Mr Beaubien: How indeed does the minister intend to address the concerns the teachers have with regard to controlling this particular college?

Hon Mr Snobelen: We'll be working closely with our education partners, including the OTF, to define the governing council of the College of Teachers. The governing council will have 31 members, and a majority of those members will be elected by the members of the college of teachers.

Mrs Sandra Pupatello (Windsor-Sandwich): A point of order, Mr Speaker, please: I just wanted to clarify for the Minister of Community and Social Services --

The Speaker (Hon Allan K. McLean): No. Order. Will the member take her seat, please.


Mr Dominic Agostino (Hamilton East): I have a question for the Minister of Community and Social Services. Minister, I want to bring up to you the case of Maureen, a single mother from Kitchener on welfare. Maureen, who has a five-year-old daughter, had her benefits cut by you by $264.

Maureen gets up at 5 am to deliver newspapers to attempt to earn back your cuts. However, even though her cut was $264, she can only earn $230 before you start penalizing her. Clearly, she cannot earn back the cut, as promised by you and the Premier.

In a letter sent to one of my constituents from Premier Harris on November 14, the Premier says, "Even though we are cutting rates, current social assistance recipients who work will be allowed to earn back the difference between the old and the new rates." The Premier stated this in the House again last Friday.

Minister, the Premier is obviously under the false impression that you have changed your regulations, as you promised in this House on October 3. The Premier does not realize that people on welfare cannot earn back their cuts without penalty. As of today, the regulations have not been changed. Minister, you've been dragging your feet. These changes have not been made.

It's a simple question, and please spare us the lecture about previous governments' sins and answer the question: When will changes be made in the regulations, that you promised two months ago, that will allow welfare recipients to earn back the cuts without penalty? Can you also promise the House that you'll advise the Premier when you do make the change so he doesn't make the same mistake again?

Hon David H. Tsubouchi (Minister of Community and Social Services): First of all, the Premier is quite right. Second, as I have said in the House, we are going to be adjusting things. In fact, that is pending. As the honourable member can well appreciate, as he has pointed out to me, it's very important to make sure the regulations are done properly.


Mr Agostino: I find it difficult to believe that a government that can move within weeks to make the most massive cuts in social service benefits in the history of this province cannot in two months change a regulation that was promised by the minister in this House on October 3. As of today, a single mom or any welfare recipient working cannot earn back the cuts that you told them on October 3 they can earn back.

Minister, we have been advised by various officials within your ministry that it is very difficult to make this kind of change and that is why you have not made the change. Simply, you moved too quickly on the cuts. Within your system, it is almost impossible right now to keep your promise to allow people to earn back the cuts. The system cannot be changed the way you said on October 3 you were going to change it.

Will you admit to the House today that you cannot keep your promise and that welfare recipients cannot earn back the cuts without penalty? Failing that, can you give us a date when welfare recipients can start earning back the cuts as you promised a number of months ago? Will you keep the promise you made to them, and when will that happen?

Hon Mr Tsubouchi: It's really interesting to listen to the honourable member speak. I think somewhere in there he answered his own question and then he contradicted himself at the end. He said during the course of his question that it is a difficult process to do, and he's quite right. As a past chair of dealing with social assistance in Hamilton, he should certainly know that it's a very complex formula to put together.

As I said, this is pending almost immediately. I can't give him a specific date; however, I will tell him that this is considered quite important by me right now. As I said, he's answered his own question, because he says it's difficult to do, and it is, but we are going to do it.


Mr Bud Wildman (Algoma): I have a question for the Minister of Education and Training. Minister, this morning we spoke to a secondary school vice-principal in Toronto who told us about a 19-year-old single mother, who we'll call Judy. Judy has a two-year-old son who is in subsidized day care. Judy lived on the streets for two years. Now she's back in school taking grade 11 courses and hopes to go to university. She and her son live on general welfare. Judy is doing very well in school, but she's worried that if she loses her subsidized child care she'll have to leave school in order to take care of her son.

Minister, can you reassure Judy that she'll be able to finish her education and make a better life for herself and her son?

Hon John Snobelen (Minister of Education and Training): Of course I can't comment on an individual case. However, I can say that I'm pleased someone has returned to school and is upgrading her education. I'm also pleased to hear that there are people who are very concerned about the wellbeing of their families.

Mr Bud Wildman (Algoma): Minister, there are many Judys in this province. They're working and studying hard to get out of the welfare rut. I'm glad you're pleased about that, but I'd like you to answer why you and your government are removing the supports that are helping these people to get ahead. Why are you punishing them for being poor? What are you going to do to guarantee child care so that mothers can continue to upgrade themselves and become productive and provide for themselves and their families?

Hon Mr Snobelen: Like the honourable member opposite, I too have talked to a number of people across the province who are working hard to lift themselves out of their current circumstances. One of the ways they're doing that is by accessing the education system in Ontario. I'm glad they are. I think that is part of the answer for people to lift themselves out of circumstances they don't like and would like to get on with life. I think it's wonderful that they do access our school system.


Mr Doug Galt (Northumberland): My question is for the minister responsible for the Workers' Compensation Board reforms. Minister, small business is the engine of economic growth in Ontario. This sector creates the necessary jobs which employ our students and promote the many tourist attractions in Ontario, which in many cases have only about four or five employees.

Owners of small and medium-sized businesses in my constituency are telling me that the WCB assessment rates are onerous, and given the financial situation at the WCB, they're concerned that this will affect their ability to maintain existing jobs with higher assessment rates. Indeed, I have a letter from one business in my riding which indicates that over the first five years of operation they had an assessment and paid in excess of $50,000 while at the same time they only had claims of less than $1,000.

Can the minister indicate to this important sector of the economy how the WCB assessment rate freeze has and will assist small businesses in Ontario?

Hon Cameron Jackson (Minister without Portfolio [Workers' Compensation Board]): Consideration of the actual assessment rate freeze was made clearly on the basis that we needed to stabilize these rate increases which are forecasted over the next few years. We think it is far better that we look at the administrative cost reductions at the Workers' Compensation Board immediately. This will allow for greater consultation with the small business sector, and I want to advise the House that the category that small business and tourism find themselves in is going to go up by 8%-plus on average. By bringing in the freeze, we have sent a signal to small business, and we're getting some very positive responses from that.

I want to just advise the House that right here in the city of Toronto, the Holiday Inn, for example, was anticipating a 5% net increase in their WCB premiums. They have reinvested all of that in workplace health and safety right in their own operation, and I think they're to be commended. That's the kind of direction we're encouraged to see small business is taking with the relief and the stabilization this government has brought.

Mr Galt: I believe the minister will be formalizing some consultation process to develop ways of getting the WCB under control. Can he indicate that the concerns of the small business sector will be taken into consideration at that time?

Hon Mr Jackson: There is no question that this government, and indeed the province, look to small business to provide much of the new growth in jobs for the future of Ontario workers. We believe there is a clear link between the future role they will play and premiums in the Workers' Compensation Board to make sure that their competitiveness and their opportunities for job enhancement are extended.

That's why my colleague the Minister of Labour, with Bill 15, has brought an extremely important piece of legislation to this House as early as it has come to restructure the governance model, to bring financial responsibility back to the Workers' Compensation Board operations and, frankly, to go after fraud and those non-payors to the system, because we all hurt as a system for workers' compensation when those premiums are not paid properly.

I want to indicate that it's our government's commitment to consult and to bring balance back to the workers' compensation system in this province, and I'm pleased that there is going to be a prominent role for small business in that reform.


Mr Bernard Grandmaître (Ottawa East): My question is to the Minister responsible for francophone affairs.

Monsieur le Ministre, j'aimerais poursuivre votre discours prononcé devant un groupe de francophones tout récemment où vous auriez mentionné la possibilité de fermeture de collèges ou d'universités et même la privatisation de TVO/TFO. Je peux vous assurer que le Parti libéral de l'Ontario est tout à fait contre la privatisation de TFO.

J'aimerais vous poser une question ; j'espère que vous allez bien y penser. Quel sera votre rôle pour bloquer la privatisation de TFO ?

L'hon Noble A. Villeneuve (ministre de l'Agriculture, de l'Alimentation et des Affaires rurales, ministre délégué aux Affaires francophones) : À mon collègue, la raison pour laquelle c'était mentionné, c'est que dans le discours du trône, puis je suis certain que mon collègue le député d'Ottawa-Est va s'en souvenir, c'était mentionné que TFO et TVO pourraient être privatisées.

Ce que j'ai à faire, c'est tout simplement, que TFO soit privatisée ou qu'elle demeure dans le domaine public, là où elle est dans le moment, c'est de garantir que les programmes éducatifs de TFO continuent, qu'elle soit privatisée ou, où elle est dans le moment, dans le domaine public.


M. Grandmaître : Ça me surprend, parce que la réponse d'hier était tout à fait le contraire. Ma question était très simple : qu'est-ce que Noble Villeneuve, ministre délégué aux Affaires francophones, va faire pour empêcher la privatisation ?

Ma question supplémentaire s'adresse aussi au ministre délégué aux Affaires francophones. Depuis un certain temps il y a certaines rumeurs qui se propagent dans l'Ontario français. On parle de possibilité de fermeture de l'Office des affaires francophones ; on parle de changer son mandat. Vous savez aussi bien que moi, Monsieur le Ministre, que durant les deux ou trois dernières années, l'Office des affaires francophones a subi des coupures radicales de 20 % et même de 40 %.

Alors, je vous pose la question aujourd'hui : est-ce que l'Office des affaires francophones va avoir le même mandat qu'il a aujourd'hui ou avez-vous l'intention de changer le mandat de l'Office des affaires francophones ?

L'hon M. Villeneuve : Je vous assure que l'Office des affaires francophones va continuer à desservir les francophones de la province de l'Ontario. Deuxièmement, l'Office va toujours demeurer en place pour rassurer notre francophonie que la Loi 8 est bel et bien mise en oeuvre, comme toujours.


Mr Howard Hampton (Rainy River): My question is for the Minister of Community and Social Services. One of the victims of your government's cuts has been a centre known as the Choices Teen Centre in my home community of Fort Frances. Over the past few years, Choices has helped over 500 teenagers find jobs, get off drugs and alcohol and get back on the right path after getting in trouble with the law. Literally hundreds of parents in and around the community appeal to your ministry to continue funding for Choices Teen Centre, yet because of your government's cuts, Choices was closed in early October.

Minister, how do you justify closing a centre like that, that was doing so much good work, and how do you justify putting those kids back out on the street?

Hon David H. Tsubouchi (Minister of Community and Social Services): As the member well knows, I'm currently trying to find, through our committee of MPPs and, frankly, through any other sources -- opposition members have brought some particular programs to my attention as well -- programs that will fit into our workfare idea.

Frankly, I'm not denying there are many good programs out there, but we're also looking very closely in terms of the cost of the programs, what the cost is to get the individual back into the workforce if possible, and secondly, whether or not this particular program will be something that can fit regionally, urban, rural.

These are the programs we're looking at right now. We haven't made any decisions, but if the member is willing to give me some information on the program, we can speak to him about it.

Mr Hampton: This teen centre has nothing to do with workfare. It has a lot of do with offering young people who need a hand up that hand up, and it has a lot of do with helping those young people get back into the mainstream of society rather than ending up in young offenders' institutions which will cost the government close to $100,000 a year.

This minister acknowledges the government is going to hand out a $5-billion to $6-billion tax cut to its wealthy friends but it has no money for something like this, the Choices Teen Centre, that does such good work.

I say to the minister again, how do you justify chopping such a good, such a productive, such a preventive program as Choices Teen Centre and throwing those kids back on the wrong track in society?

Hon Mr Tsubouchi: I'm quite interested in what the honourable member means by getting these kids back into the mainstream and talking about giving a hand up and not a handout. To me, that means we get people back into meaningful employment if we can, to give them a reason for doing this.

If the member had given me more details in terms of the particular program -- perhaps we can look at it, but frankly there are many good programs out there. We don't deny there are many good programs, but we also have to look in terms of what our priorities are going to be in terms of providing opportunities for people but also acknowledging the fact that we have fiscal constraint targets because, frankly, of your government that preceded us.


Mr R. Gary Stewart (Peterborough): My question is for the Solicitor General. Mr Minister, earlier this week the Liberal critic for your ministry complained very vigorously about a memo issued by your assistant deputy minister of Correctional Services which requested superintendents and area managers to report any information on pickets, demonstrators, job actions or legal strikes. Minister, since the Liberal member was so terribly, terribly concerned, and indeed I believe upset, it is most prudent, and I ask emphatically, do you have additional information to alleviate these concerns?

Hon Bob Runciman (Solicitor General and Minister of Correctional Services): Coincidentally, I do have some additional information. Our research indicates that the procedure outlined in the memo to record union activity was developed by the government of the day in 1989. That's right, 1989. I ask you, do you remember who formed the government in 1989? If you suggest that it was the Liberal Party, you're absolutely correct.

When the member was so considerably agitated about this issue in terms of getting an answer, all he had to do was look about four seats down the row from where he sits. The member for Ottawa Centre, who's currently occupying that seat, was the then Minister of Correctional Services.

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

Mr Stewart: Possibly no supplementary may be necessary, but because of the honour of this House I'm wondering -- and I believe the question has been answered completely -- but I do wonder if the minister deserves an apology for what has happened.

Hon Mr Runciman: Absolutely, without any doubt, but I won't hold my breath.



Mr Dalton McGuinty (Ottawa South): My question is for the Minister of Environment and Energy. Minister, you will know that yesterday an important report was delivered to you by the Ontario Round Table on Environment and Economy. The report was delivered by the round table in its death throes because, as you know, you're not permitting it to continue its good work.

The report deals with the impact of vehicle emissions on our environment, and it makes a number of recommendations to you which, if enacted, would dramatically reduce smog caused by fossil fuel emissions. Significantly, the report is endorsed by environmentalists, business and labour, all of whom recognize the problems caused by vehicle exhaust and the need to address these problems. Pollution Probe, General Motors and the Canadian Auto Workers are just some of the parties that collaborated in the preparation of the report.

Can the minister tell members of this House what specific recommendations from the report she will be implementing and when?

Hon Brenda Elliott (Minister of Environment and Energy): I was very pleased to receive that report, which I tabled in the House yesterday. We are committed to working in partnership with a number of jurisdictions across Canada to stabilize greenhouse emissions, as the member opposite knows, and indeed studies such as this one will be very helpful to us. There are a number of opportunities for mitigating Canada's climate and I recently returned from a ministers' conference where ministers, both provincial and federal, were working together to begin to address and to carry on some of the initiatives that have already been begun.

With regard to the specific recommendations in that report, since we have just received it yesterday, my ministry has already begun to review it but we are not able at this point to comment on issues further with regard to those recommendations.

Mr McGuinty: I hear the minister, but I'm not at all convinced that she truly understands the urgency of the problem before us. A study of 168 Ontario hospitals between 1983 and 1988 showed that 6% of all hospital admissions were smog-related. Another study has shown that by the year 2020, pollution-related illness will cost Canada's health care system more than $10 billion.

Minister, there are currently 6.5 million vehicles registered in the province of Ontario. So far, only 10,000 have gone through the province's voluntary emissions testing pilot project, and of those vehicles owned by private citizens, 23% did not pass the vehicle emission test.

I say to you, Madam Minister, that we are clearly not doing enough to attack the problem of motor vehicle emissions in our province. The problem's harming our health, it's hurting our environment and it's costing us money.

So I ask the minister to tell me how long Ontarians will have to wait before we will see improvement in our air quality because of steps she has taken. Minister, when do we get to breathe cleaner air?

Hon Mrs Elliott: Clearly, this government is very much aware of the fact that this is a serious issue for all of us. Breathing polluted air is not what anyone wants in this province, or anyone else for that matter.

We have already begun a number of initiatives. Recently, we have begun to work with the federal government and other ministers across Canada to bring in low-emission vehicles, which will address the problem directly, and to work on new fuel formulations as well, which will reduce emissions enormously. We already have regulations in place under the Energy Efficiency Act to reduce greenhouse emissions. There are changes to the building code ongoing, and we have a number of remarkable achievements by Ontario Hydro that have reduced its emissions enormously.


Mr David S. Cooke (Windsor-Riverside): I have a question to the Minister of Community and Social Services. He's indicated in the House several times when I've asked questions about funding of the children's aid societies in this province that there will be a new definition of "core services" and that there will be a move to fund core services only.

I'd like to ask the minister if he can tell us, give us some examples here in the House, of what a core service is and what a non-core service is; in other words, a service that he thinks the children's aid society should not be doing and will not be funded for.

Hon David H. Tsubouchi (Minister of Community and Social Services): The last time the honourable member asked the question -- I think it was last week -- I indicated at the time that one of the reasons why I've met with groups such as the Ontario children's aid societies is to ask them, along with a number of other organizations that are dedicated to the protection of children, to assist us in defining what those core services are. I think, quite frankly, that we should be going to the community to find out what they define as the services they truly need, and not necessarily a definition of something coming from myself alone.

Mr Cooke: I can certainly understand that to get to the point where there's an absolute definition, the minister would want to consult, and I hope he would want to consult beyond just the children's aid societies. There are many other people who are involved.

But in order to get into this exercise, he must have a view of some services that the children's aid societies are providing in this province that he believes are not essential to the functioning of the children's aid societies, or you wouldn't be involved in a review and you wouldn't say in the House that you're only going to be funding core services.

I think it would be appropriate for the minister, so that we can better understand what this exercise is all about, and since we went through about a 20-year process whereby we no longer just funded protection services for children's aid societies but saw their role as being one of protection as well as prevention, to give us an example of a service that you think a children's aid society does now that is not essential to the wellbeing of children in this province.

Hon Mr Tsubouchi: I believe the honourable member is sort of pushing the direction into someplace I don't quite understand where he's going to. But if we want to look at a truly consultative process, that means we have to enter into real and meaningful discussions with these organizations in order to provide ourselves with that framework and that definition of "core services."

It's not just the Ontario Association of Children's Aid Societies but it's also the Ontario Association of Children's Mental Health Centres, the Ontario Association of Children's and Youth Institutions, the Ontario Contract Custody Observation and Detention Homes Association and the Ontario Association of Residences Treating Youth. This is to give us a wide and meaningful look at what core services should be in the area of children's protection.


Mr Tony Silipo (Dovercourt): On a point of order, Mr Speaker: I want to rise on a point of order arising out of the exchange that took place a little while ago between the Solicitor General and the member for Peterborough. I know there was some levity around that and I think that's something we certainly all can use from time to time, but I think there is both a serious point of order and a serious question of privilege that I want to bring to your attention and ask you to consider and to rule on at your leisure.

I believe the rules are clear in indicating that, when ministers have additional information to provide to the House on the basis of questions that have been asked in this House, they have, in effect, two routes that they can follow. One is to stand up when it's a government member's turn in the rotation and to provide that information to the House. That gives the opportunity to the member who initially posed the question -- in this case I believe it was a member of the Liberal caucus -- to pose an additional question. The rules are quite clear. The second alternative a minister has is to make a minister's statement, in which case also there's an opportunity for the opposition to respond.

I think it is stretching the rules of this House, to say the least, for a minister to provide that additional information by vehicle of a question from a government backbencher. I think that's a serious issue that I would ask you to take a look at, because, Mr Speaker, if you allow that to happen, not only is it a breach of the rules of this House but it is indeed a breach of the privileges that opposition members have in this House.

The Speaker (Hon Allan K. McLean): I will review your point of order.

Mr David S. Cooke (Windsor-Riverside): Mr Speaker, just a small point in addition: I think it's very clear in the standing orders that the Speaker has the right to indicate that a particular question is not of urgent public business. The first question you can take a look at and should take a look at. The supplementary question asking whether there should be an apology was a frivolous question and I think, Mr Speaker, you should have ruled it out of order under the standing orders.

The Speaker: Routine motions.

Hon Ernie L. Eves (Deputy Premier, Minister of Finance and Government House Leader): First of all, I'd like to seek consent to read the business sheet for next week, please.

Mr Gilles Pouliot (Lake Nipigon): Skip Wednesday.

Hon Mr Eves: No, I'm not going to skip Wednesday, but thanks for the advice from the member for Lake Nipigon. It is taken in stride.


Hon Ernie L. Eves (Deputy Premier, Minister of Finance and Government House Leader): Pursuant to standing order 55, I wish to indicate the business of the House for the week of November 27, 1995.

On Monday we will continue with second reading of 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.

Tuesday, November 28, will be an opposition day standing in the name of the member for Downsview.

As I indicated last week, in my capacity as Minister of Finance, I will be making an economic statement on Wednesday, November 29, at 4 pm. There is agreement to adjourn the House immediately after routine proceedings on that date until 4 pm for the economic statement and to adjourn immediately following the statement.

On Thursday, November 30, there will be debate on the economic statement in the form of responses to it from the two opposition parties, and we will adjourn after that is completed, if it's before 6 pm, and it may not be.

For Thursday morning's private members' business we will consider ballot item number 9, standing in the name of the member for Cochrane South, and ballot item number 10, standing in the name of the member for Oakville South.

The Speaker (Hon Allan K. McLean): Any routine motions?

Hon Mr Eves: None of these are routine, Mr Speaker, unfortunately. I would like to have consent of the chamber for some business relating to the standing committee on government agencies.

The Speaker: Agreed? Agreed.




Hon Ernie L. Eves (Deputy Premier, Minister of Finance and Government House Leader): I move that the standing committee on government agencies be authorized to consider the appointments of Patricia Deguire to the Ontario Board of Parole; Evelyn Dodds to the Social Assistance Review Board; and David Nash to the Ontario Casino Corp; and that the committee shall review and report on these appointments following the procedure for reviewing and reporting on intended appointments as provided for in standing order 106(g).

It's necessary to make this motion because these are appointments that have already been made, and notwithstanding the standing order, we are asking that these appointments go through the same review procedure as others.

The Speaker (Hon Allan K. McLean): Shall the motion carry? Carried.

Further routine motions?

Hon Mr Eves: One last motion, Mr Speaker, if you will. This requires unanimous consent as well, and it is my understanding that there will be a brief discussion or debate surrounding this motion from the three House leaders or their representatives.

The Speaker: Do we have unanimous consent for it to proceed? Agreed.


Hon Ernie L. Eves (Deputy Premier, Minister of Finance and Government House Leader): I move that notwithstanding standing order 9, the House shall continue to meet from 6 pm till 12 midnight on December 4, 5, 6, 7, 11, 12, 13 and 14, 1995, at which time the Speaker shall adjourn the House without motion until the next sessional day.

Just very briefly, of course this is the traditional motion, but that might impinge some motives on the festive season. I don't know if it'll be too festive around here next week, but it is traditional that during the last sessional days of both December and June, according to the parliamentary calendar, this motion is moved to extend the sitting hours until midnight to allow business to be cleared up before the end of that particular session.

This is a normal motion. I am pleased to say that at the House leaders' meeting this morning all three parties and all three House leaders concurred that this motion could be dealt with rather expeditiously today, and I do appreciate that cooperation from the other two House leaders.

Later today, as you will see -- we'll be dealing with it in a few moments -- we'll be moving on to the continued debate and concluding the debate on the interim supply motion.

I really don't have any further comments to add at this time, and I would like to thank the other two House leaders for their cooperation.

Mrs Elinor Caplan (Oriole): On behalf of our House leader and our party, we will be supporting this motion. However, while the government House leader says that this is a traditional motion, there have been times in the past, and particularly in the past 10 years that I've been in this House, when it has been necessary for parliamentary agenda reasons to extend the sitting hours to allow for full and thoughtful debate of important public policy issues. Our caucus has always been willing to stay here and do the work necessary, and it is in that spirit that we will be supporting this motion.

However, I would point out to the government House leader and to everyone watching this debate that the Harris government did not return to the Legislature on the calendar date, as one would expect, in September. Further, there was an expectation of members of our caucus that we would be sitting in the summer to be dealing with the matters of public business --

Mr David S. Cooke (Windsor-Riverside): That's what Mike said.

Mrs Caplan: That was what he said during the campaign. We expected to do that. We were prepared to be here to work, because we believe that many of the items contained in the revolutionary document promulgated through the election campaign deserve public scrutiny, public debate, public hearing and exposure so that people fully understand the agenda of this government.

Today is November 23, and we were informed that there are pieces of legislation that the government House leader will be tabling that have not already been tabled. I want to put on the record our concern that any pieces of legislation which are tabled from this point forward have the full debate and scrutiny and public hearing that the public deserves. I will say to him that our caucus is ready and willing to stay here to hold public hearings across the province to make sure that those issues are thoroughly and properly debated.

Having said that, I would also point out that all of the legislation should have already been tabled. There is no reason why on November 23, with an expectation that the House calendar would adjourn this session on December 14 -- it is unreasonable, in my view, for us to be told by the government that it expects legislation to be tabled and passed before the end of this session. I have real concerns about that. I have expressed them to the government House leader and I just want to put them on the record.

We will, however, be supporting this motion for late night sittings to ensure that the business is done and that the public is aware of the work of this House.

Mr Cooke: Very briefly, we also will be supporting the motion as part of an agreement on how the advocacy legislation is going to be dealt with and the four weeks of hearings on the advocacy legislation, three weeks of which will be public hearings, one week clause-by-clause, and that this will take place either concurrently with the House in February and March or during the break.

I want to indicate that I agree with the thrust of the approach that the spokesperson for the Liberal Party was taking; that is, that we know there is going to be major legislation coming forward next Wednesday as part of the budget and that this major piece of legislation, in our view, is going to require extensive debate in this Legislature and that it will have so many major ramifications for the province that it is our belief there should be public hearings for that legislation before it gets third reading.

I am indicating on behalf of our caucus to the members of the government now that it is our intention to do everything we can to make sure that legislation has that public debate here and public hearings in a standing committee of the Legislature. We fully expect that the ramifications coming out of next week's budget are going to be significant enough that we should not be adjourning on the 14th, we should not be adjourning on December 21, but that this place should be in session all of January and all of February in order to deal with those financial implications, social implications on the province.

Therefore, it is our intention to see that the House is in session in January and February. We'll support this motion to deal with other business before the House, but I think everyone should understand that the budget will be of significance to this province, and big enough significance that we should be in session in January and February.

The Speaker (Hon Allan K. McLean): All those in favour of Mr Eves's motion, say "aye."

The motion is carried.


The Speaker (Hon Allan K. McLean): We have some guests in the west gallery. One slipped away on us -- Christel Haeck was there from Niagara -- and we still have Noel Duignan, the previous member for the riding of Halton North. Welcome.


Hon Ernie L. Eves (Deputy Premier, Minister of Finance and Government House Leader): On a point of order, Mr Speaker: It is a small point, but I think it's one I should make in response to the comments made by the member for Oriole. I believe she indicated at the outset of her comments that the government did not come back in accordance with the parliamentary calendar. She'll be quite aware of the fact that we did indeed come back one day late because of Rosh Hashanah. I presume that the member for Oriole is not complaining that we came back one day late because of that holiday.

Mrs Elinor Caplan (Oriole): On the same point of order, Mr Speaker: In fact, what I intended to say was that we came back in accordance with the parliamentary calendar instead of coming back in the summer, as had been the election expectation. Not only was I pleased that we did not sit on the first day of Rosh Hashanah, but I was distressed that in fact we did sit on the second day and I was unable to be here and participate for the opening of the Legislature. But I will correct my record. My intention was to say that you adhered to the calendar and did not live up to your expectation commitment.




Mr Tony Ruprecht (Parkdale): I keep getting petitions on the issue of our crisis in child care. This reads:

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

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

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

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

I've signed my name to the document.

Mr Bud Wildman (Algoma): I have a petition addressed to the Legislative Assembly. It is from 50 residents of Wawa. They are expressing concerns over the impact of spending cuts on child care in Ontario. It points out that studies have shown that quality early childhood education is the most important determinant of future development and success for children, and every dollar invested in the quality education of our children saves over $7 in correctional costs.

I support this petition and I've affixed my name thereto.


Mr Ed Doyle (Wentworth East): I'd like to present a petition on behalf of the students, parents, teachers and members of the Hamilton-Wentworth Roman Catholic Separate School Board in Stoney Creek supporting the construction of a new Cardinal Newman Catholic Secondary School. It reads as follows:

"Whereas the Catholic ratepayers of Wentworth East and Hamilton East have been concerned for many years about appropriate Catholic secondary school accommodation in Stoney Creek, and given past government commitments to funding of a new Catholic secondary school ready for occupancy by 1998;

"We, the undersigned ratepayers, hereby petition the government of Ontario to ensure the previously committed funds are provided to Hamilton-Wentworth Roman Catholic Separate School Board so that a new Catholic secondary school can be built to address the long-standing concerns of overcrowding and program needs as Catholic students in Stoney Creek are educated to deal with the demands of the 21st century."

Sir, I have signed this petition as well.


Mr Mike Colle (Oakwood): I have a petition from Northwestern General Hospital. These are people who live in the area of Whitmore Avenue in my riding.

"To the Legislative Assembly of Ontario:

"Whereas the Metropolitan Toronto District Health Council hospital restructuring committee has recommended to close Northwestern General Hospital and merge all programs with Humber Memorial Hospital;

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

"That the recommendation of the Metropolitan Toronto District Health Council to close Northwestern General Hospital be rejected" -- again, rejected -- "by the government of Ontario and that it keep Northwestern General Hospital open forever."


Mr Tony Silipo (Dovercourt): Mr Speaker, I have a petition which is actually three different petitions but the same issue, and with your indulgence I'll just read them once. They are a petition from the community of Stella Maris Public School on Ascot Avenue in the riding of Dovercourt.

"We have a serious concern regarding the elimination of funding for junior kindergarten programs. The educational benefits of junior kindergarten programs have been acknowledged by governments in Ontario for decades.

"Effectively, four-year-olds who attend junior kindergarten experience rapid and critical growth in both mathematical and language skills. These skills provide a secure foundation for literacy, computational knowledge, work habits and study approaches. Also, for those students who are new Canadians but who do not speak English at home, junior kindergarten facilitates their learning of the English language. These results are immediate and ongoing.

"Therefore, it is our belief that short-term gain will not be worth the long-term pain. Funding will be the factor that will directly affect the educational development of our children.

"We, the undersigned, urge support for the appropriate provincial funding to ensure the future of our children in our province."

There is one petition from parents in the school. There is also a version in Portuguese, which I know under the rules I'm not allowed to read in that language, but I wanted to indicate that as well, Mr Speaker, and there is a third one by teachers, all of which total about 350 signatures. I've affixed my name to it.


Ms Annamarie Castrilli (Downsview): I have a petition signed by 475 of my constituents in Downsview and it reads as follows:

"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 way to ensure a superior system is through public funding so that all children can access affordable, high-quality, non-profit child care; 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 programs and/or policies that help to stabilize high-quality child care for children in the province of Ontario be retained; and

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

I have attached my signature.


Mrs Marion Boyd (London Centre): I have a petition to the Legislative Assembly of Ontario.

"Whereas recent cuts to programs for abused women and their children seriously endanger their lives and will be costly in both financial and human terms, we are committed to the preservation of services to abused women and their children in Ontario. We are particularly aware that our community of London has developed a respected and successful integrated model of service delivery aimed at ending woman abuse.

"We, the undersigned, petition the Legislative Assembly of Ontario to preserve the existing services used in London to end woman abuse, and we therefore demand that the cuts to services for abused women and their children in London be immediately restored and that no further cuts in funding be implemented."

This petition is signed by 193 citizens of London, and I am proud to affix my signature.


Mr Frank Miclash (Kenora): My petitions reads:

"To the Legislative Assembly of Ontario:

"Whereas the interim report of the Ontario School Board Reduction Task Force recommends the 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 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 boards and their communities, having evaluated the cost and benefits of amalgamation, request an amalgamation of their respective boards."

I've attached my name to that petition as well.


Mr Frank Miclash (Kenora): I have a petition to the Legislative Assembly of Ontario and it reads:

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

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

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

I've attached my name to that petition as well.




Mr Smith from the standing committee on regulations and private bills presented the following report and moved its adoption:

Your committee begs to report the following bill as amended:

Bill Pr14, An Act respecting the City of Nepean.

Your committee begs to report the following bills without amendment:

Bill Pr13, An Act respecting the City of Nepean

Bill Pr37, An Act respecting the City of Mississauga.

The Speaker (Hon Allan K. McLean): Shall the report be received and adopted? Agreed.



Mr Harnick moved first reading of the following bill:

Bill 23, An Act respecting Victims of Crime / Projet de loi 23, Loi concernant les victimes d'actes criminels.

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


Mr Colle moved first reading of the following bill:

Bill Pr44, An Act respecting the City of York.

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


Mr Wildman moved first reading of the following bill:

Bill 24, An Act to amend the Environmental Protection Act, the Ontario Water Resources Act and the Pesticides Act / Projet de loi 24, Loi modifiant la Loi sur la protection de l'environnement, la Loi sur les ressources en eau de l'Ontario et la Loi sur les pesticides.

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

Mr Bud Wildman (Algoma): This bill will enable the Ministry of Environment and Energy to crack down on offenders who continue to ignore Ontario's environmental protection laws, especially those who dump waste illegally across the province. The bill will give the ministry the tools to combat the illegal practices of the fast-buck artists who continue to dump on other people's properties and treat current fines simply as a cost of doing business.

The bill amends the Environmental Protection Act, the Ontario Water Resources Act and the Pesticides Act to combat the illegal depositing of waste. There are specific amendments to the EPA, and all three statutes are amended to facilitate enforcement and increase penalties. Provisions of the EPA to deal with the depositing of waste and other provisions for waste removal are broadened, and the power to make restitution orders is added. Provisions that allow the seizure and suspension or detention of vehicle permits and plates are expanded.

All three statutes are amended to allow provincial officers to make enforcement orders and to seize vehicles and other things used in the commission of offences, to allow the courts to order the forfeiture of vehicles or other things used in the commission of offences, to facilitate the service of summonses against corporations under the Provincial Offences Act, to prohibit the keeping of false records and the refusal to furnish required information, and to increase penalties for certain offences under all three pieces of legislation.


The Speaker (Hon Allan K. McLean): Pursuant to standing order 34(a), the member for Fort William has given notice of her dissatisfaction with the answer to her question given by the Minister of Community and Social Services concerning cuts to family counselling agencies. This matter will be debated today at 6 pm.



Resuming the adjourned debate on the motion for interim supply for the period commencing December 1, 1995, and ending April 30, 1996.

The Speaker (Hon Allan K. McLean): It's my understanding that when we finished, Mr Gilchrist had finished, and we're looking for comments and questions. Seeing none, further debate?

Mr Mike Colle (Oakwood): If I could address this House on interim supply, I know the minister has had quite a challenging time since coming into his portfolio, and no doubt next week the challenges will even be more articulated, I think.

Some concern that my constituents have and that I have in terms of the direction this government is going is basically the concept that cuts create employment. I heard someone stand up today and say, "The welfare general assistance has been cut, and all of a sudden they found work."

The sense I get in talking to people face to face is that despite all the cutting that's taking place, very little employment has been created in the last four or five months. What I sense is quite an anxiety among ordinary people. People are looking over their shoulder. They're afraid of losing their job, either in the private sector or in the public sector. They don't seem to have the confidence to go out and buy an extra pair of shoes. They certainly don't have the confidence to get into a mortgage, to buy a home. They essentially are saying that they're not sure what the future holds, even if they have a job.

The essential thing to remember, as we appropriate funds for different departments and look at the different ministries, is that we have to go beyond just arbitrary cuts for cuts' sake, that there have to be initiatives that enable people to have a bit more confidence in the marketplace, and that confidence will translate into jobs.

What I see happening is almost an implosion taking place. I talk to my small merchants along Eglinton, along St Clair, and they notice that people are buying less this year than they were last year, that they're not buying as many groceries. The barbers you talk to -- and I think they're a good barometer of what's happening to real people -- tell me that even the number of haircuts people are getting has been reduced because people don't have even that kind of disposable income, never mind the disposable income to buy and invest in a home.

Somehow the initiatives this government is taking have to acknowledge the fact that all the cutting in the world won't do anything to create meaningful employment and consumer confidence, and there has to be a series of initiatives which will do that. No matter how much of a tax break you get, if these tax breaks do not produce jobs, all these promises of glory days because of tax breaks will mean nothing.

That is what we should start asking the members opposite to start asking their ministers: Are there any initiatives to create jobs that will employ people so people will go out and buy from local merchants and invest in the future and have confidence that things are going to get better? I don't see any growth in confidence.

The only place I see a growing confidence is among our major banks. In the next weeks, the banks will be issuing their year-end statements, and you'll see tremendous growth in profits, no doubt. The banks are doing better than they've ever done. Last year, the Royal Bank had a profit of a billion dollars, yet the Royal Bank laid off I don't know how many thousands of people.

That trend of increasing corporate profits, among the big corporations especially, and the elimination of human beings, of people in their workplace, is a very alarming trend. What good are all these profits among the few when they're not employing people and giving people an opportunity to make a living and buy homes and buy cars or buy clothing? It doesn't really end up with an improved economic situation.


We see the banks are still charging -- what? -- 18% to 20% on their credit cards when interest rates are at 7% or 8%. Why do we still accept this type of attitude from our banks in Canada, which are, as you know, some of the well-to-do banks in the world. They rank with the wealthiest, most powerful banks in the world.

This government hasn't taken steps to send a message to whatever it is, banks or big corporations, that they have an obligation not only to their shareholders but to the public out there who are, by and large, looking for employment. They want to work. The vast majority of people would work at any job, at any wage, if that opportunity were there, and these jobs are not coming forward.

In the last number of months, we haven't seen an increase in job opportunities. The improvement in the economy is very sector-specific. If you happen to be lucky enough to export auto parts to the United States, as a result of the lower Canadian dollar you may be fortunate enough to see increased profits in that specific sector, but overall there is very little recovery or growth across all the sectors.

The stock market is doing very well on Wall Street, the stock market seems to be doing very well on Bay Street, but people on Main Street in Toronto or in Sudbury or in Wawa or Manitouwadge, they still see a lingering recession that does not seem to be ending.

It is critical to acknowledge that the pattern of cuts for cuts' sake is not creating any turnaround. If you talk to small grocery stores, for instance, they will tell you that in certain areas of cities where there are people on social assistance, they used to make their living for that month during the first week when the social assistance cheques were cashed. These are people who bought potatoes, corn, rice. They will tell you now in the small stores, even the discount stores and discount clothing stores, that now in the first week of the month they are losing that little bit of margin they were taking in as a result of people on social assistance.

Subsequently, what's happening is that people in the small stores on Main Street in Ontario are having to lay off people. I know a case at Dufferin and St Clair where a discount clothing store used to employ five people. When the social assistance cheques were cut by 22% October 1, they noticed a dramatic dropoff in people buying discount clothing, so now it's back to the husband and wife alone working in that store.

As much as I know the party opposite detests giving money to people on social assistance and how they're patting themselves on the back for making those cuts, I say to you that many of those people on social assistance were spending that money on Main Street and they were spending it on groceries, on clothing, and that money was creating economic activity, believe it or not.

Your approach is, "We'll take money away from social assistance recipients and we're going to give it back to people in a tax cut." Who is the purest contributor, you might say, to the local economy? Many of the people in the upper income brackets will not be spending their money on Main Street. A lot of those people will use that tax cut for a variety of different activities. Some will be for buying shoes, but some of them will go to the Cayman Islands, some may go offshore on vacation, some of them will buy that Mercedes instead of buying that Chevy because they got the tax cut. Those people on social assistance, for the most part, were buying potatoes and rice and shoes for their children.

If you really wanted to create jobs, who is going to create more jobs: the people working in government services or in, let's say, the small mom-and-pop stores and who are spending money on Main Street, or is there some multiplier effect that takes place when a wealthy person gets his or her $5,000 to $10,000 and spends that money in the Cayman Islands or Bermuda? I still don't see why they have a greater multiplier effect on the economic wellbeing or vitality of Ontario than the ordinary people at the bottom, who are at least spending the money locally.

It wasn't that they wanted government assistance out of choice, because the reality is that over the last six or seven years we've gone through a major transformation of the North American-Ontario economy. I know it's easy to scapegoat and say, "You're on general welfare or you're in a government job because you're lazy" etc. These people, for the most part, are victims of a worldwide transformation in the economy. They didn't choose to be born and work -- or try to work -- at this point in time. They've been victimized by the changes and transition, so to say to them, "You don't have a job because you don't want to work" is simplistic and it is by no means fair to people who, for the most part, that we in my area run into, want an opportunity to work.

What is happening is that in many cases they can't work because the company they worked for is now gone to the United States and they're shipping the product back here because they can get somebody in Mississippi to work for six bucks an hour or, in some cases, where Bell or the bank they work for is saying, "Sorry, if we cut down the number of our employees, it will help us increase profits." That is the trend that is displacing a lot of people, and I haven't seen anything yet that addresses that problem of human displacement.

One of the astonishing things I saw when I first came here is that the government had cut back on road maintenance, sanding, salting, but I asked the ministry, as I'm the critic for Transportation, "We hear these reports from people in the field that you've cut back on winter maintenance, but in the cuts you've announced, in July and now some more in October, we don't see any mention of that in your statements, in your estimates."

I've had some experience at local council, Metro council, and I said, "Usually, at local council, if there was going to be a cutback in something like winter maintenance, it would be a line item and we could see that the commissioner was recommending a cut." There was no mention whatsoever of this cut of $6 million to $7 million in winter maintenance in any of the documentation from the ministry.

I use this example because I think it demonstrates that sometimes there isn't accountability and the ability to question some of these cuts. They make them arbitrarily without any ability to have input and say: "Maybe this cut is the wrong one. Maybe this cut is shortsighted, because if you cut back on winter road maintenance, you're going to increase people's time to get to work, which is an expense; you're going to increase traffic accidents, which is another added expense and cost; and possibly you might be putting people out of work if you make this cut, never mind the safety factor."

Yet that ministry made that cut secretly, without not even a line-item reference to it, so all of a sudden we find out indirectly they have cut this program. It really made no sense. It didn't make any economic sense because it slowed down traffic all over Ontario -- in a storm it will do that -- not to mention the fact that there are going to be more accidents etc. It's shocking to me, and that's one little example, that you could make a cut without looking at the ramifications or without that cut being up front and accountable.


I hope that as you go on cutting, which you no doubt will do, you'll give members opposite, and the public, an opportunity to scrutinize the cuts to see if they really make any sense, if these cuts are really contributing to the economic wellbeing of this province. What I see is that there is a great attempt at secrecy and ensuring that nobody finds out what's going to be on the hit list, and the details and the impacts are always found out, you might say, down the road.

This approach is a very regressive approach. It's old-style politics. You claim to have this new approach that is open to scrutiny. If you have a cut to make and a dramatic change to make in a ministry, you should put it up front and have it open for public scrutiny and debate.

You are making a lot of changes, and I know the changes you're making are based on the voodoo economics of Ronald Reagan and his approach: supply-side, trickle-down stuff. That did not work. How you think the trickle-down, supply-side economics of Reagan is going to work now in an economy that's in major transition -- I mean, the challenges Reagan had were nursery school challenges compared to the challenges the North American economy has now.

How this government can rely on practices and economics that have been proven to be at best questionable is something you should start to ask yourself, because there happens to be a very good case study for you to look at. Look at the example of Reagan and what he went through and the promises he made -- the Reagan revolution, they called it. These guys are calling it the Common Sense Revolution. There are so many similarities there, all the rhetoric, all the PR, yet when you look beyond the PR and the rhetoric, all you got was a tripling of the debt in the United States, or even more. It just went completely out of control because they did not look beyond the ideology of their economic viewpoint. They were in this straitjacket which did not allow them to look laterally at other solutions and other approaches.

This government is so intent on this economic straitjacket of supply-side economics, of trickle-down economics, that it's going to make some major mistakes. The major mistake is that they're going to destroy consumer confidence, because the consumer is still not buying, the consumer is not working, because Reaganomics and this revolutionary "Common Sense" economics do not create jobs. All it creates is a lot of rhetoric and simplistic adages that if we cut back on all the NDP programs, this magic solution is going to appear because they got rid of the NDP programs.

Just because you get rid of the NDP approach doesn't mean you're going to create anything. As someone once said, it takes just one jackass to kick down a barn, but it takes many good men and women to build one. So far all you've done is kick down things and you haven't built anything.

I'll give you an example. In my riding over the last number of years, we worked to build a subway for the future of that middle part of Metropolitan Toronto.

Mr David Tilson (Dufferin-Peel): How were you going to pay for it?

Mr Colle: The same way you're going to pay for the Sheppard subway. How are you going to pay for Highway 407?

Mr Tilson: Where were you going to get the money from? There is no more money.

Mr Bud Wildman (Algoma): Where are you going to get the money for the tax cut? The tax cut is going to be borrowed money.

Mr Colle: That's a good lead-in, because somehow they're going to borrow $5-billion to give to people who don't need the break. Where are you getting that money? I say it's better to spend that money on building subways, on keeping hospitals open and not in giving a tax cut to those who don't need that tax cut. You can just as easily spend the $5 billion that you're going to use for that tax cut on keeping hospitals open or building subways.

One thing I'll guarantee is that if you've got hospitals open and people are working on subways, they pay taxes. That tax they pay because they work ends up going back into government coffers, so the government can therefore pay its bills. But if those people aren't working on subways, if they're not working in hospitals, they can't pay taxes to this government or to the federal government or to the local government. People won't be able to pay their property tax, won't be able to pay the provincial government tax or the federal tax.

That's basic, fundamental economics, that people who work actually can contribute back to government and to society, but if you're not working there's going to be very little manoeuvring room for this government. So far all you've done is say, "We're going to take that money from workers." You're going to take money from some vulnerable people and you're going to give it to people who are probably working now and people who don't need that tax cut.

The direction has to be changed to say that not only will this government think with nostalgia about Ronald Reagan; they have to start thinking in terms of the 21st century. They have to have some new, innovative initiatives. I haven't seen one innovative initiative so far. I challenge this government to start looking at innovation, to face the challenge that Ontario is in and this whole North American economy is in.

There are different things being done internationally that are working, but the Reagan approach didn't work and it won't work. That's why the critical thing is for the backbenchers on the other side to say: "How many jobs are we creating? Where are the real, full-time jobs people are asking for?" Will this $5-billion tax cut create as many jobs as you promised, for instance? They promised they would create 720,000 jobs.

As they continue on this Reagan approach to economics, they're also adding another very interesting scenario. They're saying, "It's not we who are going to increase taxes; we're cutting taxes." But what they do is have this thing called -- I think the Minister of Health today finally said the four-letter word -- a user fee. This is another back-door tax this government is introducing.

You're going to see a whole slew of user fees. This government will say: "Oh, it's not us, it's the local municipality that's charging that user fee on your garbage. It's the other level of government. It's the library that's charging that user fee. It's the local council that's now asking you to pay for those services that you got on your basic tax."


On top of the property tax, there's going to be a new user fee tax you'll be paying when you go for medical services. The Minister of Health admitted today that they are seriously going to introduce some form of user fee for medicine and prescribed drugs in this province. They're changing the definition of what it is and what it isn't, so the ordinary consumer is going to be hit with a tax. That tax, that user fee, is going to pay for that $5-billion giveaway. That is what is wrong with this thing.

Why would you take money out of those people's hands to give this tax cut, when these people are buying medicine or are living in their own homes paying property taxes that are already too high? Why would you ask these people now to start paying more, when you're asking others who can afford it to pay less?

This is not fair or logical. I would say it's better not to charge user fees to that senior citizen who needs those drugs, better not to charge user fees to pick up garbage, better not to charge a higher fee for public transportation, but keep that money in the hands of people who right now are struggling to pay their bills. These are the people on fixed incomes, the people who are worried about whether they're going to still be in their house a year from now, because that property tax is already like a mortgage on their home.

The user fee approach is another misguided and I think very regressive approach to getting revenues for this government. User fees are regressive in nature because a user fee hits hardest the person who can least afford it. That well-to-do person can afford to pay that user fee and that $2 more for a service may not hit that well-to-do person. But that $2 for a senior on a fixed income is punitive, and that's why user fees should be rejected, because they hit the people who are most vulnerable. It is critically important that we look at this user fee in that light. It's another anachronism, another back-door tax grab. That's what it is, and it hurts people who are trying to make ends meet.

As you know, the per capita debt load of individual Canadians has never been as high, because people over the last five or six years no longer have the ability to finance education for their children. They've had to go into debt to pay for many things they thought they could afford. Individual Ontarians are in greater debt than they've ever been before.

If this continues, how will these people be able to purchase goods and services? They're not going to be able to, especially when on top of this debt they're faced with part-time jobs instead of regular jobs. These people are faced with losing jobs, on top of this debt they've accumulated -- not because people are living high off the hog. I think they've accumulated these debts because they've had relatives who lost their jobs and had to help out. They've had sons and daughters who had to come back into the house because they lost their jobs. That's why they're in debt. They're not in debt because they're going to the Cayman Islands. They're in debt because they've had to help out their friends and neighbours and families. That's what's caused the debt, and because the amount of work and economic activity has shrunk in the last six or seven years.

What people need more than anything else are employment opportunities. You can talk about tax cuts and you can talk about cuts across the board, and it may make you feel real good to cut the NDP programs, but the critical thing is that somehow they have to get their nose to the grindstone and start coming out with innovative programs to create employment in this new economy.

The Deputy Speaker (Mr Bert Johnson): The member's time has expired. Comments or questions?

Mr Tilson: I have listened to the member for Oakwood and I don't think he gets it. This province has a debt of $100 billion. The interest on that debt is approaching $10 billion. We in the province of Ontario don't have any other choice. There is no more money, we have no more money, and if we listened to you we would be spending the way your government and the last government, the Liberals and the New Democrats when they were in government, were spending for the last 10 years. You don't get it. Look how the debt has grown. Look how the overspending has grown. There is no more money. These cuts aren't going to be interest.

It's as if you think we took you by surprise on this thing. This thing has all been spelled out in the Common Sense Revolution, the document which I know you've read --

Mr Colle: We haven't read it.

Mr Tilson: Well, if you haven't read it, I'd recommend that you do. All your constituents read it, and they read it back a year before the election.

Mr Wildman: That's why they voted for him.

Mr Tilson: The member may have been fortunate to become elected and I welcome him to the House as a new member, and it's good to hear from him, but I'm afraid he's a little misguided on the economic policies of this province. I'll tell you, there's history as to where people have gone. Look at New Zealand. There's no more money. You've got to get that into your head. We can't keep spending the way your party spent and the way the NDP spent over the last 10 years.

If you were a private individual and you were going into bankruptcy -- and by looking at you I don't think you are in that state, but if you were, you'd cut back on your spending, cut back on your way of life. Why? If you didn't, the trustee in bankruptcy would move in. That's exactly what is going to happen to the province of Ontario if we don't take the action we're taking.

Mrs Elinor Caplan (Oriole): First of all, I'd like to commend my colleague on his very important and very significant comments in this debate on supply. I would also say, although it's during a two-minute response, that I am provoked by Mr Tilson, the member from the Orangeville area, the member for Dufferin-Peel. New Zealand, sir, did not cut their income tax rates by 30% as a way of dealing with their deficit and their debt.

I would also point out to you that while we agree that there are serious deficit and debt considerations in this province, your policies will not balance the budget and the deficit until the year 2001, after your mandate expires, and second, that during your term of office, because of your unprecedented tax cut the debt is going to increase almost 20%, to a projected $120 billion.

So don't stand in your place and lecture us. We were the first government in the history of this province for the last 20 years that balanced the budget, had consecutive operating budgets, reduced the debt by $430 million. When you stand in your place and suggest to us that a 30% income tax cut is fiscally responsible at a time when we do have a serious deficit situation and a serious debt situation, your credibility and the credibility of your party -- and I can tell you, once the taxpayers and the voters in Ontario understand the implications of your policy, they will realize that it makes no common sense at all.

Mr Colle: To respond to my honourable colleague the member for Dufferin-Peel, the fundamental thing I don't understand -- and I could ask him to think about this -- is that if the debt is of such serious concern to you, and I know this is the mantra of every Conservative member, why would you borrow money for a $5-billion tax cut, if you were that concerned about the debt? I could support it if you were to say, "I would give that $5 billion to reducing the debt." Instead, you've made a politically expedient choice to basically give that money away to a lot of people who don't need it.


Don't tell me about the tax cut and don't talk to me about this debt that concerns you. I would think that you would be a lot more credible as a party if you took that $5 billion and brought that debt down, because that might even create more confidence and it might create more jobs than that $5-billion reward to people who maybe are going to spend it offshore.

So when you say to yourself that you want to deal with that debt seriously, use that $5 billion to pay the debt down, and then you would be following Ralph Klein or New Zealand's example, because neither one of those entities had this haywire tax cut like you are going to do and impose on the people of Ontario.

The Deputy Speaker: Further debate?

Mr Wildman: I'm pleased to join the debate on interim supply with the opportunity to discuss a number of issues as it relates to the voting of supply to the government bench, to the treasury bench, so that the government of Ontario can continue to carry out its responsibilities across the province.

I've had the opportunity in this House of speaking on interim supply on many occasions over the last 20 years serving my constituents from Algoma, and I'd like to have the opportunity here to engage in some dialogue, particularly with the backbenchers from the government side, and I hope we will be able to have a real dialogue. Frankly, I'm not too concerned about talking to the members of the government. I do see one member of the government here, but they seem unlikely to be interested in consultation, because I've actually tried to engage cabinet ministers --

Hon William Saunderson (Minister of Economic Development, Trade and Tourism): All us people are members of the government.

Mr Wildman: No, they're supporters of the government. You're a member of the government.


Mr Wildman: Oh, you're not a supporter of the government? Oh, I thought you were. I thought they were supporters of the government, but at any rate, the supporters are the members on the government bench, then.

I would say that those members of the treasury bench have indicated quite clearly that they do not like the idea of consultation. As a matter of fact, they've said a number of times that all the consultation that was required took place in the six weeks prior to June 8, and that a decision was made on June 8 -- I recognize that a decision was made by the people of the province on June 8 -- and therefore no more consultation is required, even on the implementation of the commitments made by the Conservative Party in the election campaign. Apparently, there is no need for further consultation. So I would like to engage in a discussion with the backbench members.

I truly believe it to be a privilege to represent the people of Algoma in this House, and have had the opportunity to do that for a number of years, and I know that all members of the House feel that way in regard to the responsibilities given to them by their constituents.

I want to talk about a couple of things: First, the approach taken by the previous government that the members of the Conservative Party and the government disagree with, and I understand that they disagree with it. I also want to talk about language and the use of language and what it does to the political process in Ontario, and what it means then in terms of the allocation of the funds that we are voting today.

I think one of the best examples of the approach taken by our government in trying to build partnerships among government, business and labour to respond to the very serious economic difficulties that we face in Ontario for my area was the example of Algoma Steel Corp.

Not long after we came into government, the then Premier received a telephone call from the chief executive officer of Algoma Steel to inform him -- actually, I think the first call was from Dofasco, which owned Algoma Steel -- and subsequently I got a similar telephone call, that Algoma was in serious difficulty and Dofasco intended to write it off, essentially, and that would mean the loss of somewhere in the neighbourhood of 6,000 jobs in Sault Ste Marie, direct jobs in Sault Ste Marie and Algoma district, and of course with the spinoff that would mean probably in the neighbourhood of 12,000 to 14,000 jobs, in a community of about 82,000 people, Sault Ste Marie, and a total Algoma district population of about 140,000. You can imagine the economic devastation that would have meant.

We had the opportunity to involve in a very innovative way Dofasco, but particularly the banks, the United Steelworkers of America, the workers at the plant, both management and labour, in an innovative ownership-partnership approach that frankly was a risk; a very serious risk for the taxpayers of the province and for the workers themselves as well as for the banks.

It was a risk, but it was a risk that paid off, to the point that Algoma Steel now has gone from near bankruptcy to the point where it is now the most productive steel plant in North America.

Everybody took a haircut, I think is the term in business. The banks had to eat a lot of debt.

Mr Frank Sheehan (Lincoln): How'd you convince them to do that?

Mr Wildman: By job-owning. Because they knew if they didn't do that, they were going to lose everything. Just as the workers took a cut, a very serious cut in pay.

Hon Mr Saunderson: If they hadn't asked for such a big increase, it wouldn't have happened.

Mr Wildman: I think I don't need to go on at length, because the interjections are demonstrating the different attitude.

During the election campaign, Mr Tom Long, whom I happen to know personally -- we're not bosom buddies, but we're friendly. We know each other. He made a statement -- which was carried, incidentally, on the front page of the Sault Star, much to the consternation of the local Conservative candidate -- in which he said that if the Conservative Party had been in power at the time that Dofasco phoned the Premier, it would not have participated. The government would not have participated, and that would have meant a depression -- not a recession; a depression -- in Sault Ste Marie, the demise of a steel plant. It wouldn't have shut down completely. It would probably have become a mini-mill, employing somewhere in the neighbourhood of 1,500 to maybe 2,000 at the most, instead of continuing to employ between 5,000 and 6,000 people and make a profit.

I don't believe that "profit" is a bad term. The point is, whatever the causes -- the workers' demands, the banks, the high interest rates -- everybody recognized they had a problem and everybody took some sacrifice and made it work in partnership, and it has worked. It's something that, as a member of that government, I'm very proud of, and as a representative of that community and of Wawa, I'm also very proud. That was our approach.

Mr Long demonstrated clearly that the Conservative Party believed that the market should decide. There were analysts at the time, steel analysts. One infamous one is Jay Gordon, whom I also know, and we are not even friendly, as I am with Mr Long. Jay Gordon has always campaigned against any kind of assistance for anybody, particularly Algoma Steel, because he believes that there should only be two major steel plants in Ontario, and I guess they are Dofasco and Stelco, and he believes that the market will decide that eventually, some time or other. He would write off Sault Ste Marie. Apparently, so would Tom Long, and so would the Conservative Party. That's the difference in approach.

I said I also wanted to talk a little bit about the approach taken by the Conservative Party since it won the responsibility of government on June 8 and the language that is used. It's certainly the language of the market, as Tom Long has made clear. The market will decide, the invisible hand of the marketplace. Adam Smith lives. You know, in medieval times they called it God. After the Industrial Revolution it became the market.


I recognize that we live in a mixed economy and that we need to have private investment. We need risk-takers. We need people who, because they take risks, can then gain profit. We need workers who make a contribution. We need a skilled workforce who can provide for themselves and for their families. And we also have to be able to provide for those who are less fortunate and cannot provide for themselves.

I think I've tried to make clear what my position is. Let's look at the language that is used. When I say the language of the market and the concern about debt, it should be clear that while we all have differences of view -- and that's what democracy is about and that's what the Legislature is about -- there is basically one area of agreement, I suppose, with significant changes in emphasis, but one area of agreement in that we recognize that the debt and the deficit are matters that have to be dealt with. In the last part of our mandate, of course, we cut substantially, and that was because we recognized the difficulty. You might argue we should have recognized it earlier. I don't want to get into that argument, but the fact is, we all now accept that we must do something to deal with debt and deficits.

However, there are major differences in how we should do that. In our view, we must have employment opportunities. People must be trained and get the skills they can then market in the marketplace so that they can be contributing members to society whose taxes can be paid to the government. The government can then use those taxes, as we are here voting interim supply, to fund programs which will help those who cannot provide for themselves and help to stimulate further economic development that will provide more job opportunities that can be taken advantage of so that we have more taxpayers, people who can pay for the good of society and for themselves.

I have a fundamental disagreement with some of the language that is used. The argument really centres around whether or not a tax cut is a wise approach at this time in our economy. It seems to be almost a matter of faith, on the other side of the aisle, that the tax cut will resolve our problems, because the trickle-down theory is that people will spend the money in Ontario and then that will create more job opportunities, more investment and so on.

There are of course no guarantees that this money will be spent in Ontario. People can take a tax break and they can invest it anywhere in the world. They can stimulate jobs in Florida or in China or in Europe. There's no guarantee that those jobs will be stimulated, if they are stimulated, anywhere in Ontario. It certainly doesn't mean, if there are jobs stimulated elsewhere, that they will provide any tax revenues for Ontario. They will create tax revenues, I suppose, for those other jurisdictions.

The opposite side refers to this idea of cuts and tax breaks as a revolution. They look at the cuts to social services, health care and education as revolutionary. They've redefined the word "revolution" in the political sense. It no longer is an attempt to advance, but it is an attempt to go back. They're using the word "revolution" to mask what is essentially reaction.

I heard recently that the Premier was in his home riding in North Bay and he attended a fund-raiser. I understand it was $125 a plate. There were 600 people at the fund-raiser. I'm sure it was very successful for the Conservative Party. There were also more than that outside, in a demonstration, and I understand that they weren't having a $125-a-plate supper; they were eating bologna sandwiches.

During his remarks that night the Premier was quoted as saying to the people who were sitting in front of him at the $125-a-plate dinner that the people outside -- many of whom were social assistance recipients, working poor and so on -- were privileged and that their privileges were not going to continue. Let's look at that word "privilege." I think what he meant was they were privileged because they didn't -- I think he meant -- have to work and they still got some income through social assistance. But isn't that a corruption of the word "privilege"? How can someone suggest that someone who is poor is privileged?

The other use of words in this so-called revolution is the term "interest group." Somehow the Conservative Party believes that they represent the "silent majority" and that anyone who disagrees with their agenda is a member of an interest group, that they have their own self-interest, the status quo, to defend and that they aren't interested in the common good.

Mr Gerry Martiniuk (Cambridge): You've got it.

Mr Wildman: The member over there is confirming that. So they define 52% of the population, women, as an interest group. The majority of the population is now an interest group.

Mr Gilles Pouliot (Lake Nipigon): Workers.

Mr Wildman: Workers are an interest group; minorities are interest groups; service providers are interest groups; teachers are interest groups; school boards are interest groups; municipalities are interest groups, and everything they have to say doesn't count.

Mr Wayne Wettlaufer (Kitchener): And if they would all work together then it would be to everybody's benefit.

Mr Wildman: I've seen in this House governments of every stripe and I've been an observer of government over the years, and I've seen that over the years, no matter whether you had a Conservative government, a Liberal government or a New Democratic government, there was an attempt -- sometimes successful, sometimes unsuccessful -- by the government to bring people together in Ontario, to try and get people to work together and develop some sort of consensus around what the government should be doing.

It is my observation, in the few short months since June, that this government does not take that approach. They aren't interested in bringing people together. In fact, they are quite happy to have confrontation, because they see themselves as representing a certain element of society, and all those others who don't agree with them, again, don't count. So they aren't interested in bringing those people in and hearing what they have to say and seeing if in some way they can accommodate their needs and concerns. No. Let them stay outside and demonstrate and do whatever they want. They don't count. Let 'em eat bologna.

Interjection: Tuna.

Mr Wildman: Or tuna. The irony of this whole approach in my view is this: The so-called Common Sense Revolution, or, as I call it, the No Sense Retribution, is based on the premise that the poor have too much money, they're getting too big a piece of the pie and the rich don't have enough money and they're having to pay too much into the process. That is what these people believe. Think of that as a reversal of language. The poor are too rich and the rich are too poor, because that's what they're talking about. They're talking about taking money from the poor, in cutting welfare benefits by 21.6%, and giving money to the rich in a $5-billion tax cut.

So the idea is to take from the poor and give to the rich.

Mr Martiniuk: Who represents the working poor? Why do you keep taking money from these people with higher taxes?

Mr Wildman: I see the Sheriff of Nottingham over there is trying to defend his policy, as opposed to the approach that governments in the past have taken, which might be compared with Robin Hood, which was to try to share the wealth with those who don't have it. That's the difference in our approach and it's also the new reversal of language. It's almost Orwellian in the way that they approach language.


Interjection: And you're more lethal than anyone else. We've heard that one.

Mr Wildman: I don't know exactly what that means, but it probably means something.

I want to refer to their campaign document. This is the seventh printing, page 9. This I want to refer to because it's somewhat similar to my experience in church, in that of course there is the gospel, which is referred to and is interpreted, and everything is based on the gospel. If it can be based in some way on the gospel, it's acceptable, and if it doesn't relate to the gospel, it doesn't matter. So I will try to follow their approach.

It says on page 9 that they want "to replace welfare with a work, education and training social policy that rewards individual initiative and demands responsible behaviour from recipients of public assistance, even as it expands opportunity to achieve self-sufficiency."

That sounds very interesting. I believe that we should be expanding opportunities for self-sufficiency and that's why I've raised in this House on a number of occasions in the last couple of weeks instances of people who are attempting to gain the skills to enable them to become self-sufficient and to provide for themselves and get out of welfare, such as the example I raised in the House today of a 19-year-old single mother who is attending high school taking grade 11 courses and supporting herself and her son on welfare.

Here's an example, I think, of the kind of person the Conservatives would congratulate, someone who is trying to get ahead, provide herself with the skills she needs. She wants to go to university, and then she can be a contributing member of society and provide for herself and her family. But the government has cut her benefits by 21.6%, so the result is going to be that she will not be able to afford the child care she needs because the child care subsidy is disappearing and she will then quit school, return to welfare and be a drain, as the Conservatives would have it, on our society. Surely that's self-defeating, even for the government's agenda.

I can't understand why the minister has not been able to respond in any way about what he's going to do to assist young women particularly, single parents, who are attending school to get the training and education they need so that they can be productive members of society. Why do the Conservatives seem to think it's okay for these people to go back on welfare and stay there, instead of getting the training and skills they need to get off? It doesn't make sense to me when I look at your document about wanting to expand opportunity to achieve self-sufficiency. It's self-defeating.

Also in this document, they go on with some emphasis with regard to education, because I think we all in this House recognize the importance of education for providing the skills required for people to be self-sufficient. It says here on page 8 of the retribution document:

"Classroom funding for education will be guaranteed.... Not enough is being invested in students directly. Our principle of `classroom-based budgeting' will help ensure that this essential service is protected and, indeed, that excellence in education and training is enhanced."

Nobody knows what "classroom-based budgeting" is: nobody in any of the school boards in the province, nobody in the ministry and frankly, I suspect, nobody in the government. Right now we don't know how to define "classroom-based budgeting." The minister was asked, "What does classroom funding mean?" and he said, "Anything that has anything to do with the advancement of students."

That's a pretty wide definition. I think just about anything that a school board does might be defined that way -- just about -- because if they are spending money that is not going to contribute to the advancement of students, then they shouldn't be.

I know that there is a group within the ministry that is currently working to try to get a working definition of "classroom funding." But what they're coming up with, as far as I'm aware, is that about 10% of the expenditures of school boards are clearly administrative. Perhaps about half of that, or maybe even more, maybe a little more than half of that, could be cut, could be seen as fat.

That means you might be able to save approximately 6% of the expenditures by cutting fat on administrative costs. But that is nowhere near what the targets are that the Minister of Finance has requested his colleague the Minister of Education and Training to achieve; it doesn't come anywhere close.

I don't understand how this government is going to maintain its commitment to protect classroom funding unless there are going to be increases in rates paid at the local level, unless we have property tax increases. I know the Minister of Finance has said very clearly that there shouldn't be any property tax increases, but I suspect that what we are going to see is a balancing of most -- or perhaps more, even -- of the cut in income tax by increases in property taxes at the local level by school boards and by municipalities.

I don't think anybody in the public is ready at this point for the magnitude of the cuts that are coming at the end of next week and then in the next budget. When they see them, and they see they can't provide for classroom education, then boards will be tempted to raise taxes so that they can continue that funding.

One of the ways the Ministry of Education and Training is attempting to find the funds that it requires to meet the target set for it is to cut funding for junior kindergarten. I know that in the retribution document the Conservative Party said that it wanted to make junior kindergarten optional and that it has done that. But it really isn't optional if, at the same time you say boards can determine whether or not they're going to provide junior kindergarten, the provincial government cuts the funding for junior kindergarten, particularly if you have the Minister of Finance saying the board should not increase local property taxes. It means that the local boards will discontinue junior kindergarten. Some 80% of the boards in this province provide it because they know it's important for students, for their performance later on in school and in life.

We find that this government again uses another word, "option," in a way that is not really the proper use of the word. It is not a choice for boards, if they cannot increase property taxes and they are going to lose provincial grants, to be able to continue to provide the program.

I don't think that in all the years I served in opposition prior to 1990 I ever confronted a government quite like this. I think the members of the Conservative Party are quite proud of that. This certainly is not the kind of government that my friend the member for Etobicoke-Lakeshore served in before.


This is a government that isn't interested in consultation. It is a government that is determined to carry out an agenda that they believe they've been given a mandate to carry out, that cannot be confused with facts, that will not listen to contrary opinion because it will slow down the progress of achieving the commitments they've made, and might in fact provide information that might convince them that perhaps they should modify their approach.

It's a government that uses language in a way to confuse and to, I believe, corrupt, and I don't mean that in the sense that you might take it; I mean it in the sense of corrupting political discussion and debasing, I guess is a better word, the language that we use in this place and outside of it.

I think the government and the members of the back bench who support the government clearly believe in what they're doing, and sometimes when you ask them why they're doing it, they say, "Because we believe it," which is certainly an indication that they're an ideological bunch. But I'm not sure that ideology is something that people on welfare and social assistance can eat when they see that their incomes have been cut in the name of providing more to the wealthy.

I understand that my friend from Scarborough East in his remarks on Monday just before 6 was not able to complete his remarks, and I know that when he sat down and gave up the floor, he didn't reserve time for later. I would ask the members of the House if they would agree to give my friend from Scarborough East the opportunity to complete his remarks as we go through the rotation rather than have the opportunity to hear his pearls of wisdom after other members may have wanted to respond.

The Deputy Speaker: Comments or questions?

Mr Tilson: I'd like to make a few comments on the presentation given by the member for Algoma. The member for Algoma is certainly recognized as an experienced member of this House. He's been around many years. He's been in government; he's been outside of government. He's seen governments come and go.

Listening to his comments, and I tried to listen to as many of the remarks that he made as possible, what I don't understand, which I'd like the member to comment on, is that every family in this province, or most families in this province, almost every institution in this province, has restructured, has downsized.

All of us, as individuals, as institutions, as corporations, we've spent beyond our means. We get credit cards. We do all kinds of things. We buy things and we can't afford to do it, and I think that's exactly what has happened to the province of Ontario. A succession of governments -- and I certainly would admit that the Conservative government prior to the Liberal government did some of this, but not to the extent of the Liberal government of David Peterson or the NDP government of Bob Rae, not to that extent.

I can only repeat the message that I have been trying to give, and I ask the member for some comments. We can't afford it any more. We're overtaxed. I don't know what the Liberal taxes were -- something like 33, and the NDP 32, or it was vice versa? -- but it was approximately 65 taxes in the last 10 years. We're overtaxed to our hilt. We can't afford to ask the people of this province to give any more money.

So again I repeat, we have no choice but to do what we're doing, and for the life of me I can't understand the opposition particularly the member is giving to the restructuring that this government is entering into.

Mr John Hastings (Etobicoke-Rexdale): I note with some substantial reflection on the member for Algoma's comments about how nobody in this government or anybody in the bureaucracy has figured out what would constitute classroom expenditures.

Let's just use a little judgement, and look at very specific things which would constitute classroom expenditures: obviously, the overheads of the building, your lighting system, your heating and ventilation, your teachers' salaries, your maintenance staff to some extent, chalk, some computers.

Mr Wildman: Just about everything.

Mr Hastings: You can say, "Just about everything." That would mean that excessive extravagances would be justified as well. As a case in point for the member for Algoma, I know of a school board in Ontario that has been able to buy one of the most expensive printing-shop machines, laser printing, when the justification of the economic cost could never be made as a business case, because they would approach the municipal government to get business. To me, where's the thinking in just that one decision? To me, that doesn't support nor constitute classroom expenditures.

When you start sorting out a few of these support situations, they cannot be justified to help the teacher in the classroom. In many instances, your high overhead costs deal with your administration staff, with excessive purchases over the last few years of school board real estate. I don't see how that could be figured into any equation in terms of classroom education if you were trying to define the core costs of expenditure in that area. I would ask the member for Algoma if he would start to really look at the specific items that constitute classroom education and how we can come up with the definition we have in the Common Sense Revolution.

Mr Wildman: At the beginning of my remarks I said I hoped I could engage in a dialogue, and I appreciate the comments from my friend. I'd like to try to respond. I've known the member for Dufferin-Peel for some years, and we've had exchanges in the past. I would say that we are not opposed to restructuring, and I would argue, although I'm sure he doesn't agree with me, that in the last three years of our mandate we engaged in considerable downsizing in the government. He would say we had gone up too much before that and we were just coming back down, but there was downsizing. We spent less, year over year, twice in the last two years of our mandate, the first time any government has since 1945. So we weren't opposed to downsizing.

What I would say, though, is that I'm very concerned about what we do if we simply cut, cut, cut and don't provide the supports required to enable people who have gone through such restructuring to adjust and deal with that. That's why I'm particularly concerned about the cuts in education spending.

He says we are overtaxed; perhaps we are. I don't think that is borne out when you compare us with other jurisdictions. But even if we are overtaxed, if you are as concerned with debt as you say you are, I don't understand how you can justify increasing the debt by giving a tax cut.

The member for Etobicoke-Rexdale gives the example of extravagance in classroom expenditure. If we could easily define "classroom expenditure," the minister could answer my question when I ask him, what is the total expended in this province on classroom? He doesn't have a figure; he doesn't know what it is.

Sure, there might be examples of extravagance. I can think of the Carleton board, which a couple of years ago engaged in certain activities that I don't think had anything to do with advancing students. I would agree that those times have changed, but I would also say that the examples he's given indicate that there are very few things that cannot be justified as expenditures.

The Deputy Speaker: The member for Algoma has moved that there be unanimous consent that the member for Scarborough East continue. Agreed? Agreed.


Mr Steve Gilchrist (Scarborough East): My apologies to both the Chair and the clerks if my inexperience on Monday night created the confusion that occasioned the gracious offer from the member for Algoma, and I am indeed grateful to him for the opportunity to finish off the comments I had started Monday night. For those of you keeping track at home, check the Hansard for Monday at 6 o'clock. This is the second chapter in a continuing saga.

Mr Wildman: "As I was saying before I was so rudely interrupted...."

Mr Gilchrist: Exactly, if I can remember back that far. The graciousness of the other two parties will force me to temper my comments. I'd feel guilty about taking umbrage with anything that's gone on in the last 10 years.

Mr Wildman: Go right ahead.

Mr Gilchrist: Seriously, over the last few weeks and months we've seen a number of people in this province, some inside this chamber and many outside, accuse our government of a multitude of sins. Some are in a quest for printer's ink, I think others are genuinely confused about the issues that face us in this province, and others have just not taken the time to inform themselves of the specifics of the initiatives our government has taken so far.

On June 8 there was a clarion call from the voters of this province, a call to fiscal responsibility, a call to common sense, not just in how we raise dollars but how we spend dollars and how we prioritize the issues this government must face and the programs we must fund. They sent a very clear message that the days of solving problems by indiscriminately throwing taxpayer dollars at that problem are long behind us, and they've demanded the same kind of fiscal responsibility that all of us in our personal lives and in our businesses are forced to practise.

Perhaps most importantly, based on the Common Sense Revolution, they gave our government the mandate to set priorities, most of which we stated very, very explicitly in that document. Those priorities must be determined within the framework of very limited financial resources that are before us today.

Speaking of the Common Sense Revolution, I'm very proud of the grass-roots consultation process that our party put in place a number of years ago in concert with task forces in which all our sitting members at the time took part and which went across the province thoroughly debating the issues of the day, doing in-depth research, not with a bunch of academics but with the people in Ontario: the shopkeeper, the doctors, the accountants, the corner garage and the Mac's milk store, all those people who in their day-to-day lives are the ones confronted with the educational challenges, the health care challenges and the law enforcement challenges. Based on those discussions, based on that dialogue, we distilled that down. The words of literally tens of thousands of Ontarians were distilled down into the words that became the Common Sense Revolution.

So it's not surprising -- in fact it would have been illogical had it gone otherwise -- that the results of the election, the support we got on June 8, mirrored the support we received in those task forces. All we did was accurately reflect the views, the aspirations and the concerns of the people of this province in a document. And we did one other thing: We gave our solemn commitment to honour all the promises contained in that book.

To date, many of those promises have already been fulfilled: the issues of coming to grips with the crushing debt load of this province and with deficit spending and the ills attendant to that. Another major step will be taken next Wednesday with the economic statement that the Finance minister told us about today.

It's clear to all but the most politically biased that the policies of the last decade have failed to advance the cause of people who have been most disadvantaged these past few years and the people who are trapped in the welfare cycle. It's immensely distressing to receive lectures, within this chamber and outside, from those who have, if not profited from the expansion in the welfare rolls, at least have done nothing to stem the dramatic increase in the number of people who are receiving welfare assistance in this province, and particularly the vast increase in the number of children who have been forced on to the welfare rolls.

Instead of job creation in the last 10 years, we've had tax increases. We've had an increase in regulation. We've had 10 years of telling business that jobs weren't welcome in this province, that their investment dollars weren't welcome and their job creation just wasn't welcome. Indeed, the only jobs that one might say have been created are in food banks and in other social agencies which sprang up to deal with problems that in many cases didn't even exist back in 1985.

I've spoken in short statements in this House, starting from the day after the throne speech, about the inconsistency with which many of our transfer partners are dealing with the funding crisis. The example I used was the TTC and how galling it was to me that at a time when all of us should be wrestling with the genuine need to balance fiscal responsibility with a social conscience, the TTC commissioners, particularly those of a certain anti-Conservative bent, but perhaps not motivated by politics, maybe motivated by a lack of awareness of exactly the issues that face us in this province today -- we were confronted by a group that, when we told them their budget would be cut by one thin percentage point, did not respond by trimming administration, did not respond by looking for new efficiencies, by consolidating services, by out-sourcing, by cooperating with GO Transit or Mississauga Transit. There were probably myriad ways to have accomplished a 1% saving.

But what did they do? Their first step was to raise their prices. There's a logical conclusion. Again hearkening back to my retail background -- that's right; any time we had a problem moving product we raised its price. Sure, that's how you stimulate product movement. It's exactly the opposite.

The other thing they did, having now told people that we're trying to price them out of using our service, was to threaten the people most in need of public transportation, the most vulnerable group in our society, the people who use Wheel-Trans. I did not hear any dissent that day and I doubt if I would hear it today; I doubt if there is a member of any party in this House who sanctions blackmailing the people who use TTC's Wheel-Trans service under the guise of meeting this fiscal crisis.

Mr Wildman: Careful. Is that parliamentary?

Mr Gilchrist: I will withdraw the word "blackmail" -- using them as pawns in a political game.

It has nothing to do with partisan politics. It has everything to do with properly reading the tea leaves and seeing that a message was delivered by the voters of this province on June 8, and they clearly have not got that message.

Every time one of our transfer partners fails to proactively deal with the funding crunch, deal with deficits by helping out in their own small way, they exacerbate the problem and they tie the Finance minister's hands, and that has led us to the point where we may very well have to take unilateral action. That's indeed regrettable, because the hallmark of our negotiations with most of these transfer partners for the last five months has been to ask for their cooperation. We've had five months since the swearing-in for these transfer partners: municipalities, universities, schools and hospitals.

I should say that many have recognized their need to belt-tighten. They have recognized within many of the hospitals that if they don't want the Metropolitan Toronto District Health Council to force something upon them, they should proactively get together and find new economies and find savings. Those partners are to be congratulated, but those that haven't learned, and unfortunately they are the majority, will be forced, along with the rest of us, to do the belt-tightening if we are going to deliver on all the commitments of the Common Sense Revolution.

We're leading by example. I'm sitting on a committee that's looking at the spending by the members themselves in this Legislature, and I can tell you that we're being as ruthless in analysing cost savings in this building as we are with anything going on outside of the Legislature. We've already committed to eliminating the pensions that the new members and I would have been eligible to receive, and we will stand by that commitment as well.

It's similarly a gross misstatement to suggest that we have cut the funding for those who are seniors or disabled on welfare. The fact of the matter is, the cuts have come only to those who are able-bodied, and the message that has to be sent is that the only thing that will break welfare dependency, the only thing to get people off that crushing treadmill of despair, will be the dignity of a job.

Again I don't think that a member of either of the other two parties would disagree that the long-term goal of this government has to be to find a job for every single able-bodied person who's currently on welfare. That is our commitment. We may disagree as to the strategy to deliver on that, but at the end of the day we at least will have a program in place, and I hope that as history unfolds, our commitment to create 725,000 new jobs will in fact wind up being an understatement.


Likewise, the allusions to reductions in day care service are clearly untrue. On the surface, it may be fair to say that when we went from 100% funding under the previous government's Jobs Ontario program to the traditional 80-20 rule that was put in by our government many years ago and which has served this province very well over the intervening years -- on the surface, yes, that would cost the municipality more dollars.

But offset against that was the fact that the same municipalities currently paid 20% of every welfare dollar that's paid out. So when we reduced welfare payments by 21.6%, their payments were reduced by 21.6%. In fact, the net difference across the province was a positive benefit for the communities of Ontario of over $60 million -- that's the fact -- and a commitment for those few communities where the balance between the increase in day care costs against the decrease in welfare expenses created a negative, the minister committed to making up that shortfall.

So there is no municipality in this province, including Metro Toronto, that can say to any parent that we, the government of Ontario, have occasioned the need to reduce day care spaces in this province -- not by one space. That's the reality. That's the honest answer. Those who would go around this province fearmongering and creating the impression that our government has somehow impacted to the tune of 14,000 day care spaces are absolutely off base.

On the other hand, in the last five months our government has already gone a long way to restore fiscal prosperity in this province. We have sent out a message to the business community that we want their investment. This is a place where you will be able to make an investment and, we hope, a profit. We are committed to ensuring that we once again have a world-class education system, complete with far more appropriate apprenticeship programs to meet the changing needs of the marketplace today. We will ensure that we have the trained workers capable to handle the jobs of the late 1990s and beyond.

At the same time, we're committed to changing the tax regimen and already, through things such as the elimination of the $50 annual filing fee and dramatic reduction in regulations and red tape that has beset business in this province for too long, we've sent out a very specific message that we want business to come to Ontario to invest and to thrive.

We've brought in bills to repeal the quota-based hiring practices that were implemented, I guess, three years ago now. We've eliminated the $80-million boondoggle known as the Interim Waste Authority. We've moved to bring in the most definitive landfill and incineration standards that this province has ever seen. Once and for all I'm confident that we're going to be able to deal with a number of the environmental issues that have plagued our province for far too long -- more than the last 10 years. These are issues that go back all of my lifetime and beyond, and once and for all we will know definitively the proper course that this province should take in handling matters such as waste management.

Add to that the fiscal benefits to the public purse of the 21.6% reduction in the welfare rates, which still provides, by the way, a 10% superiority over the average of all the other nine provinces. In fact, after the draconian cuts put in by the NDP government in BC just two weeks ago, that number is closer to 13% and in every single category Ontario now has the highest payments of any of the 10 provinces.

Mr Wildman: And one of the higher costs of living.

Mr Gilchrist: Within Metro it may have the highest cost of living, but I would suggest to the member that up in the riding of Algoma, having just been in Thunder Bay last week -- and might I note how well maintained the roads were -- I took the time to look through the Thunder Bay Chronicle and saw that the average cost of a single-bedroom apartment up there was only $420, including utilities. That leaves $100 a month, even for a single person.

At the same time, every minister of the crown has begun a review not only of all the specific regulations but of all the non-elected boards, agencies and commissions which have proliferated over the last few years, and again before, and which have been used far too often to circumvent this chamber and to make decisions that were best left to the elected officials in this province. The days of the Ontario Municipal Board setting planning policy, de facto planning policy, must come to an end. The days of all these other unelected officials making decisions that have so dramatically impacted the lives of Ontarians must and will be reined in.

I feel tremendously privileged to have been born and raised in what I still believe to be the greatest province and the greatest nation on the face of the earth. There is no other jurisdiction, not one that I know of, where the citizens have the potential of achieving any -- and I emphasize any -- reasonable goal or ambition that they set their minds to.

There's no social program, there is no capital project, there is no government direction that we cannot afford once we have established a regime of fiscal responsibility. Ontario has the resources, natural and human, to resume a leadership role within Canada and internationally, and the only thing lacking has been a government that is prepared to lead by example, which is to say, operates efficiently, searches out new and innovative means of delivering services and which always -- always -- does these things with the abiding belief that it is morally reprehensible to mortgage the future to pay for the excesses of today.

Together, the members in this Legislature have a daunting responsibility. We have a choice. We can either spend the next four years engaged in frivolous, puerile philosophical invective or we can challenge ourselves -- and I am indeed gratified at the start of the comments from the member for Algoma, his comments about wanting to embark on a constructive debate. I hope to take him at his word and I know in committee so far that has been the hallmark of the debate within the three parties. But I think we need to challenge ourselves to work cooperatively, to represent the best interests of all Ontarians, to ensure that opportunity and good fortune once again become the modus vivendi of this province.

This interim supply motion typifies the financial realities that we all face as we attempt to meet the legitimate needs of Ontarians. It may be a minor detail in the overall legislative agenda, but I would call upon all members to support this motion, not only to fund the good works of the government but to demonstrate that cooperative and productive spirit that will serve us and serve all Ontarians well in the four years ahead.

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

Mr Tilson: I'd like to congratulate the member for Scarborough East on his remarks today. I think we'll certainly hear further speeches from him in the future. It's well thought out, and I think many people will listen to his comments quite seriously.

The favourite rant of the New Democratic Party and the Liberal Party of course is that the balancing of the budget is on the backs of the poor, and it's really unfair when one considers how we got to this place. How we got to this situation was because of the economic policies of the New Democratic Party and the Liberal Party over the last 10 years.

There's no question that there have been all kinds of programs that we got on to that we didn't have the money to spend on. We didn't have the money, the resources to get into these programs, and the debt kept getting higher and higher and higher. In fact, I think it doubled in the last 10 years. Spending I think has tripled.

I must say that the member specifically referred to the area of welfare, and that's an area which specifically the New Democratic Party has referred to in the past. People in this province, whatever your economic strata, hopefully want to work, and what we have done is we have created a society where it doesn't pay to work, and that was not the intent of welfare.

Mr Wildman: Jeez.

Mr Tilson: Well, I can tell you, that's exactly what you've done with your policies. The intent of welfare is to help people.

Mr Wildman: Those people want to work.

Mr Tilson: Well, it doesn't pay them to work. Why would they work under the standards you've created? When I say "you," I mean the members of the New Democratic Party and the Liberal Party.

So I can tell you, Madam Speaker, that that is our intent: to get people working in the province, and I know that was the intent of the member for Scarborough East.


Mrs Caplan: The member for Dufferin-Peel, while he provokes me, I'm not going to lose my temper. I would point out to him that the period from 1985 until 1990 in this province was a period of unprecedented economic growth, as 700,000 jobs were created, the budget was balanced for the first time in over 20 years -- that's fully balanced, both operating and capital -- and for consecutive years beginning in 1987 until 1990, there was a balanced operating budget. In 1989-90 the budget was fully balanced, and in fact there was $430 million of debt reduced, again for the first time in over 20 years in this province.

I can say to the member that during that period of time from 1990 --

Mr Tilson: Talk to the former Treasurer. He didn't agree with it.

Mrs Caplan: I am setting the record straight, sir, and I wish that you would listen, because you are repeating a mantra and, I will say to the Speaker, many people who will be watching proceedings of this House will be misled if they believe what you are saying.

I say to the member that the period of 1985 until 1990 saw the beginnings of welfare reform which were supported by none other than Conrad Black, who said that it was very important to provide opportunities for people to get off welfare and to work, and that never during the period of 1985-90 were the people of the province of Ontario scandalized by the type of display of bringing forward an unfortunate Helle Hulgaard to suggest that in fact she was better off on welfare rather than working at a $40,000-a-year job.

Mr Howard Hampton (Rainy River): Someone who was totally discredited.

Mrs Caplan: Totally discredited. I would say to the member that to repeat this mantra of the past 10 years is to simply not tell the truth. Yes, times have changed and we have difficult times --

Mr Tilson: Point of order, Madam Speaker.

The Acting Speaker: Point of order, and also the member's time is up.

Mr Tilson: You should know, Madam Speaker, you can't allow that. She went through that on several occasions, suggesting that I was not telling the truth. That is not the way you act in this House. I will trust that she will keep the rules of this House and not allow members such as that to go on rants suggesting that other members are not telling the truth.

Mrs Caplan: Madam Speaker, the facts speak for themselves. If the member will confine himself to truthful facts, I will not stand in this House and say you --

The Acting Speaker: Would the members take their seats, please. I listened carefully to the member for Oriole. I must admit I didn't hear everything she said. I did not hear the member directly accuse the member for Dufferin-Peel of telling untruths. I did hear her use some words that in my view were borderline and provocative, but I don't believe, from what I heard, that she directly accused the member for Dufferin-Peel of telling untruths.

Further questions or comments?

Mr Wildman: I listened carefully to my friend from Scarborough East, and I must say at one point I was thinking maybe I shouldn't have asked for unanimous consent. But seriously, I understand that he said we shouldn't participate or waste our time, I think, in futile philosophic debate. I understand what he meant by that, but I do think it's important for us to be able to describe and explain the philosophy behind what we're doing. I think it's useful to have that kind of an exchange.

I would say that we would all agree, I'm sure, all of us in this House, or we wouldn't be here, that we live in the best part of Canada, and Canada, as the UN has shown, is the best or one of the best countries on earth to live in. I believe the reason for that is certainly our wealth of resources and our skilled people, but also the kind of social programs that we have developed in this country -- not just medicare, which we all value, but the other safety nets that we have developed to assist people that are not existent in other parts of the world.

What bothers me through the discussion and points made by, for instance, my friend the member for Dufferin-Peel, whom I certainly would not want to accuse of telling an untruth, because that would be unparliamentary -- I mean, he suggested at one point that it didn't pay to work in this province. That just doesn't bear any semblance of reality.

The vast majority of people in this province and throughout our nation want to work. Frankly, when people are asked, what do they do, who are they, they define themselves by their work. That is our culture. So to suggest that it doesn't pay to work is just silly, and it's unfortunate --

The Acting Speaker: The member's time is up. Thank you. Further questions or comments? Time for one more. Seeing none, I will ask the member for Scarborough East to respond.

Mr Gilchrist: Thank you to the members for Oriole, Algoma and -- oops, where's David from? -- Dufferin-Peel. My apologies. There's no doubt that the social programs have been part and parcel of what has made Ontario the great place to live that it is, and in that regard, I will agree with the member for Algoma.

I think that, coming into this chamber, one is ill-served unless one accepts that every person sitting in this room has an equal right to be here. It's obvious, but it needs to be stated. While it is unfortunate that the parliamentary system encourages confrontation as a means to debate, I hope that we can find a mechanism to restrict ourselves not only to the facts, but even more so that we -- while it's always tempting to fingerpoint to the past, I think it's far more appropriate for us to take our time ensuring that the changes that are implemented by this government set the tone for the next four years and beyond in a way that the province will be best served. We may learn from history, but I think, beyond that, our time is better spent debating the proactive and the forward-thinking initiatives that I hope will be the hallmark of this chamber.

I certainly agree with the member for Algoma when he says that this is a good province. I think, though, that while I recognize and he recognizes the benefits we all enjoy here in Ontario, the fact of the matter is that we can make it better. That has to be again the hallmark of what we do. We must constantly strive for the best way to deliver the maximum number of services. We must always be balancing the fiscal needs against the social needs. To that end, I thank him for his comments and I thank the member for Oriole, and I look forward to future such debates.

The Acting Speaker: Further debate?

Mrs Caplan: In the few minutes that I have to participate in this debate, I will be speaking to the formal supply motion which allows the government to then spend for the rest of this period of the fiscal year until the end of the year. It's an important motion; it does allow members latitude to discuss pretty much any area of government policy. I will be reserving a significant part of my time to continue the discussion on the three pieces of legislation that are before the House and that I spoke on yesterday, those being consent, advocacy and substitute decisions.

However, as I begin this discussion and this debate, I thought I might just share with members of this Legislature and anyone who's watching some of the stories that I'm hearing from constituents as they come to my constituency office. To the member for Dufferin-Peel and to others, the member for Scarborough West, I don't believe there is any person in this province -- and certainly I am the first one to stand in my place and speak on behalf of providing services in the most cost-effective way, being fiscally responsible. Everyone agrees with that. You might even say it's motherhood.


Some of us have practised it, and I'm proud of my record of both fiscal responsibility and looking to provide services in the most effective, efficient and cost-effective way. I've had the opportunity of serving in government in my very first portfolio as Chair of Management Board. I spoke on a fairly regular basis about finding ways to deliver services as efficiently and as effectively as possible.

I can tell you that in the days of buoyant economic growth, as the Treasurer of the day would refer to it, and in the days of a booming economy when jobs were being created, the tune of efficiency and effectiveness didn't pierce the public consciousness, because frankly everything was going well.

I was proud to be a part of that and I'm proud of the record, and that's why I stand here in this House and repeat the record, because I am concerned that the rhetoric and the mantra of the new government are giving the people of Ontario the wrong information about the facts of the governance of the period of time from 1985 till 1990.

Someone said to me, "Elinor, you're a little touchy and defensive about that," and the answer is, I am proud of it and so I am proud to defend it. I would stack up our record of those years of 1985 till 1990 against the previous Conservative record from 1980 until 1985 and certainly the disastrous economic record of the NDP from 1990 until 1995.

My concern, as I stand to debate supply, is that the economic, fiscal and social policies, which are linked, those policies that this government likes to refer to as common sense, the policies that suggest that you can balance your budget, cut taxes by a massive 30% rate cut in personal income tax and not fundamentally damage the fabric of our society, are not, in my view, common sense. I'm not going to engage in the rhetoric of, "It's nonsense," or any of that. I happen to believe that it's too important a debate for us to engage in simple rhetoric.

The reality is that the depth of the cuts that you are engaging in, that you must engage in to pay for your tax cut are going to have long-term detrimental effects on the people of this province. When you start to dismantle child care, when you have an impact on education -- elementary, secondary and post-secondary -- when you have a negative, detrimental effect on those services, you jeopardize the future of this province. Every study, every thoughtful analysis says that the target of your resources must be to future generations, and that education and child care are key to the economic prosperity and future of our province.

Secondly, I'm aware of the remarks of Fraser Mustard, the chairman of the Canadian Institute of Advanced Research, and his thesis, and their thesis, that supports what I have just said about nurturing the child having educational opportunity. Their view is that you can't start too early, and the notion of a voucher system that would effectively dismantle child care in this province, which has worked well -- I'm not saying that there aren't reforms that are needed and necessary; I am recognizing that we can always make it better.

I did not support the approach of the New Democratic government under Bob Rae that suggested that all child care should be government-run. I don't believe it should. I don't believe that it should all be not-for-profit in the broader public sector. I believe that government has a role to set standards. I don't believe that government has to control; government has to hold accountable. Government that funds has an obligation to make sure that those dollars are being effectively used, and so the establishment of standards, the investigation, the accountability by those who are providing the service, that is the legitimate role of government.

My opinion is that government should not be the deliverer; in fact, we should be the deliverer of last resort. I do believe a balance between public sector not-for-profit and private sector for-profit gives you examples of good competition.

Mr David S. Cooke (Windsor-Riverside): What about hospitals?

Mrs Caplan: The member from Riverside provokes me by saying, "What about hospitals?" I would say to him that one of the health reforms that I proposed as Minister of Health and that I still believe in very passionately is the comprehensive health organization.

Mr Cooke: What about the private hospitals?

Mrs Caplan: The comprehensive health organization is a model that would encourage the kind of appropriate and effective competition, public-private sector partnership -- what we have in health care is a publicly funded, privately run non-system. I've said that many, many times. And I believe that in services we have to ask the following question: Who can deliver the best-quality service or the best-quality product at the best price?

There may be a legitimate and important role for government.

Mr Cooke: But look at all the studies on private child care. They all show that private child care doesn't work.

The Acting Speaker: The member for Windsor-Riverside.

Mrs Caplan: In many of those services, I believe there is, but government is not the only game in town, government is not the only provider, and I have always supported that kind of balance in the delivery of child care, and "balance" is the operative word.

I would also say to this government, as you look at your spending plans, that investment in child care, investment in education and investment in social services -- I said I was going to share some of the stories. Now, I have to tell you, I can't use the names of the individuals, because when I say to them, "Can I tell your story?" they say, "Yes." When I say, "Can I use your name?" they say: "I don't want to be embarrassed. I'm embarrassed," they say, "by my troubles."

The first question most people come in and ask me is: "Can you help me find a job? Can you help me find a part-time job? Can you help me?" Because the policies of this government have had a negative impact on their ability to house themselves and feed themselves and their children. I keep a big box of Kleenex in my constituency office.

Let me tell you the story about one woman, recently deserted by her husband, with three children, one a baby with a heart condition. Her intention had been to go back to work after the baby was born. The baby was born sick; her marriage deteriorated. She is living in a one-bedroom apartment with three children and a sick baby. She's on a waiting list for child care. Her family benefits have been cut.

Contrary to the promise in the -- and I call it the revolutionary document because the words "common sense" do stick in my throat -- in that revolutionary document, when she phoned me, she said: "I thought they weren't going to hurt children. I thought they weren't going to hurt the disabled. How can I care for my baby? How can I look after my children, and how am I supposed to go to work? When I'm not home, who's going to look after my sick baby?"

Another woman -- because I have to tell you, while I do have men coming in to see me as well, the predominant number of people who are coming in with real, serious, unresolvable problems are women. Another young woman called. She has a disabled child. She does not want to institutionalize that child. The cost of institutionalization to this government would be three times annually the cost of supporting her on family benefits -- three times. She says: "I want to give my child the best-quality life. I want to stay home and look after him." She said: "My rent is $700 a month. The child requires all kinds of support services that I simply cannot afford." She said, "On $957 a month, how am I to survive?" And I don't know what to say to her.

She wasn't the only one who called with a disabled child whose benefits had been cut from approximately $1,200 a month to $957 a month. Single women with disabled children -- we've heard questions asked in this Legislature -- I don't know what to tell them. I direct them to the local food bank. Most of them don't have cars. Heaven forbid they can afford a car. So when the member stands and says everybody wants to work, sure they want to work, and they need child care, they need supports and they need assistance to help keep disabled children out of institutions.


Let me tell you about a gentleman who came -- actually, two; I'm going to just tell you two stories. One man came to see me and since he arrived in this country three years ago he has worked every day. There has not been one day that he hasn't worked. He works as a security guard for $7 an hour. He has been looking for three years for a better job. He has three children and a wife. You cannot possibly support a family of five on $7 an hour. The first thing he said to me was, "Can you help me find a better job?" The second thing he said to me is: "How am I going to survive? I can't support my family. I was receiving a supplement. My wife went out to get a part-time job, and 100% of her earnings are deducted."

Where is the incentive to give people a hand up, to help people and support them, people who want to work, who are looking for a better job?

I wanted to put this story and others. Another man: He came here as a convention refugee. He's paying the federal government $75 a month in return for them having advanced his air fare. He wants to work. He is 60 years old. He fled a country where his life was in danger and he came here to build a better life. He has no Canadian experience, and he said: "I was excited about the government's workfare program because I would have a job, I would get Canadian experience and I would earn money. How am I going to survive? I don't have a job. I have no Canadian experience. I'm 60 years old and I came here to build a better life and flee a country where my life was endangered and now the rug has been pulled out from under me and my family. How are we going to survive?" He is living in a very modest apartment, but his rent is 60% of the money coming in from social assistance.

These are the stories of real people, real faces. As you consider your spending priorities, as you consider all that, tell me how you can justify a 30% cut in the income tax rate to the wealthiest in our society, to those who have jobs, to those who are paying income tax. I agree, nobody likes to pay tax and everybody feels they pay too much in taxes. I don't like paying taxes. But how do you justify that? What do you say to the people who come to your constituency offices with stories like that? What do you tell them: "We're giving a tax cut. Stay tuned. Soon it'll be better for you," when everybody knows your tax cut combined with cutting government expenditures is actually slowing economic growth?

Your own revolutionary document said that your cuts in spending and taxes are having a drag on the economy. People cannot wait for jobs. People want those jobs. You haven't provided any new job opportunities. In fact, my fear is that many of the things that will be announced in the economic statement called "budget" next week will make it more difficult for people to get jobs and will cause massive job layoffs across this province. What most people don't realize is that almost every nickel of government expenditure is income for somebody. Whether it's in the hospitals or the municipalities or the colleges or the school boards, you fund services that are provided by people, and as you cut those services, people will be laid off and services will be reduced. That's the reality. Don't kid yourselves.

I'm not going to continue in this vein; I could do so for a long time. There will be other opportunities to speak in this House. I did want to take this opportunity in my time remaining to put on the record some of the comments I wanted to make on the consent and advocacy legislation that I may not have time for when we resume debate on Monday.

I received in my office a brown envelope. I don't know who it was from. I suspect it was from one of those organizations that's feeling intimidated. We have been told there is a chill following statements by some of the members' and in fact some of the ministers' suggestions. I'm not saying it's valid, and I hope it's not, but there are organizations that are afraid to speak up for fear that they will be targeted for greater cuts or further cuts or that their organizations will no longer be supported by the government if they criticize.

I received this, and I'd like, if I can, to have a little leniency while I read into the record the questions and comments that were sent to my office in a brown envelope by one of those fearful organizations. We will have significant time at committee and I would hope that the government would address the concerns. I want to say at the outset that while I share some of the concerns in this letter, I do not share them all. I won't take the time to stop and point out; I will, just for the record, include this.

It's under the headline of "Questions." It says:

"General concern that given the complexity of the proposed legislation, the tremendous impact it will have on the lives of many of the citizens of this province and the radical departure from the current legislation with the emphasis on autonomy and the requisite checks and balances needed, the government appears to be insensitive and not to be ready for the impact of these changes or the problems which are sure to unfold.

"Re: Consent to Treatment Act/Health Care Consent Act:

"(1) Under the current consent-to-treatment legislation, persons who are found incapable of consenting to a treatment are entitled to be advised of the right to challenge that finding. They are also provided with assistance in applying for a review of the findings and in contacting a lawyer if such assistance is requested.

"Under the proposed legislation, all rights to this advice and assistance have been eliminated.

"What measures will be in place to ensure that persons who have been found incapable of making decisions about their treatment will have the opportunity to challenge such a finding?

"(2) The proposed legislation invests all decision-making authority to health practitioners and substitute decision-makers while removing the rights of patients to be informed of the availability of a remedy and the opportunity for assistance.

"What measures will be in place to ensure that the rights of patients will not be lost in this legislative shift of power?

"(3) The proposed legislation states that one of the purposes is to promote communication between doctors and patients. At the same time, it allows doctors considerable latitude in making decisions without consultation.

"What measures will be in place to ensure that communication between doctor and patient will in fact be promoted under the proposed scheme?

"Re: CTA, SDA and MHA" -- that is, the Consent to Treatment Act, the Substitute Decisions Act and the Mental Health Act -- "Proposed Legislation.

"(4) Under the current legislation, all communities in the province are provided with timely, responsive and cost-efficient information regarding the rights of vulnerable people and the remedies available to them should they be subject to adverse findings of their decision-making capabilities.

"Under the proposed legislation, all communities will lose this service, with the exception of limited services provided in psychiatric facilities.

"What measures will be in place to ensure that persons in the general community will be entitled to rights and remedies?

"What measures will be in place to ensure that people who have been subjected to proceedings under the current legislation, ie, statutory guardianship, powers of attorney etc, will maintain their current rights that were in effect at the time the proceeding occurred?

"What measures will be in place to ensure that persons outside psychiatric facilities will be advised of their rights under the Mental Health Act? (The proposed legislation appears to exclude them.)


"Re: SDA

"(5) Under the current legislation, a number of checks and balances are provided to ensure that vulnerable people are not left to the mercy of those who do not have their best interests at heart. Statutory guardianship, powers of attorney and court-appointed guardianships are all subject to a number of provisions to ensure that property and personal care issues are not abused.

"Under the proposed legislation, most of these checks and balances have been removed. Statutory guardianship can no longer be refused or terminated by the vulnerable person. Powers of attorney for personal care can be exercised with no requirement to show that the vulnerable person is in fact incapable. It is no longer necessary to provide independent advice to an alleged vulnerable person who is the subject of a court-appointed guardianship application. What measures will be in place to maintain some balance in the proceedings?"

As I say, this was sent to my office and I wanted to make sure that it got on the record. I knew I wouldn't have time when I did my summation of the opening remarks.

I have received the fact sheet from the Ministry of Citizenship, Culture and Recreation regarding the Advocacy Act. The first thing I want to say about that is that I think it's absurd for that act to have been placed at the Ministry of Citizenship, Culture and Recreation. This is clearly health legislation.

During the time I was in cabinet I had wonderful battles with Ian Scott over where this legislation should be placed, whether it should be under the Attorney General or under the Ministry of Health. My concern was always that if it was with the Attorney General it would be far too legalized and procedure-oriented and bureaucratic and intrusive, as opposed to being streamlined and assistive to individuals.

I still believe that located somewhere near and around the purview of the Ministry of Health is the appropriate place for this kind of legislation because it does deal with health policy, findings of capacity and capability, and it has to do with the rights of individuals primarily as they refer to health treatment or the state having the power to impose treatment via a provider. It takes away individuals' rights to refuse treatment. I just wanted to make the point that I hope that any future legislative amendments on advocacy will be included in the health care consent act as opposed even to the Substitute Decisions Act, and I will be considering placing amendments that would expand the opportunity for advocacy as part of the consent legislation.

The reason I'm going to do that is that the government appears to be making a commitment. I agree with them that the Advocacy Commission, which was established in 1994 at a cost of $18 million, was ridiculous. The scope was far too broad, it was very expensive, and I went through all of that yesterday. Our policy was that it would be abolished. However, our policy was and is to recognize the need for advocacy services, and the government has recognized that as well.

They say: "Our goal is to work with groups to better coordinate their efforts and make the best use of collective resources and expertise. Priority will also be given to dealing with abuse and neglect of vulnerable adults." They also say, "We will provide details once we have determined the approach that best supports the autonomy and independence of vulnerable people and are satisfied that that approach meets our commitment to deliver services in a sensitive, responsible and cost-effective manner." That's in the fact sheet in response to the question, when is the government going to release its new approach to advocacy?

The point I want to make is that I hope this government will not wait until the legislation on consent to treatment and substitute decisions and the repeal of the existing advocacy law is a fait accompli before it comes forward with an approach to advocacy. We've had a long history in this province. We all know that advocacy is necessary.

Right now, the Psychiatric Patient Advocate Office, which was established under a former Conservative government in the Ministry of Health, has had tremendous success in advocating for the appropriate needs of patients in provincial psychiatric hospitals. There is nothing in place for those patients found incapable outside of a provincial psychiatric hospital, such as a community hospital. There is nothing in place to deal with elder abuse or vulnerable adults out in the community who may be being abused, not just by providers of service, and we know that has happened in the past. The horror stories of abuse in provincial institutions is something we unfortunately have had to witness in newspaper accounts over the past few years.

Advocacy and support for vulnerable people, whether in the community or in an institution, is something I feel very strongly about. I don't think it has to be $18 million. In fact, the proposal I began to put forward during my remarks and which I will continue on Monday I estimate could be accomplished for $17 million less than the Advocacy Commission costs, for about $1 million. That's a lot of money, but not when you consider the $18 million the NDP was proposing for the Advocacy Commission.

That would go a long way to providing coordination, education and support for individuals, both consumers or patients and providers, so we could see that vulnerable people's needs were being met. I would urge the government to do that by amendment as this legislation goes through the committee process.

As my time is almost up, I'm not going to proceed with any further discussion of the Advocacy Act. This is a motion for supply. I just want to leave my final words with this government and say to them, think very carefully about your spending plans and think very carefully about the impact of a 30% cut in the rate of income taxes in this province and the impact your spending cuts may have on people, whether they are vulnerable, unemployed, or the young, those whom we will depend upon for future prosperity in this province. I urge you to reconsider and indeed to use some common sense.

I would be here to offer advice and solutions and find better ways to deliver services. I certainly am not one who has been wedded to the status quo. I recognize that things must change and can be changed for the better, but I urge you to abandon your cuts across the board and I particularly urge you to think about what massive cuts will mean to the transfer partners and the implications for your constituents and mine across this province.

The Speaker: Comments and questions? Further debate?

Mr Hampton: In the short time remaining, I would like to make a few comments, and I will try to centre them on the general fiscal direction the government has taken, since I think it ties to this motion for supply.

I don't want to be too controversial, but I think some of the things the government has done have to be remarked upon and have to be given some critical study. One of the things the government is going to try to say to folks across the province, especially when it launches its financial statement next week, is that our deficit and our debt have reached crisis proportion. They'll use this argument about crisis proportion to justify the kinds of cuts that are being planned and will be implemented in the next few months.

I think it would do us well to look at some of the relative statistics from other jurisdictions. I actually asked the library to do some research for us on this and I want to look at some of those statistics.

First is the government of Canada's deficit and debt situation. I say this for Conservative members because they need to know this. When the Brian Mulroney government, a Conservative government federally, left Ottawa in 1992, it left behind a deficit of $42 billion. It left behind as well --

Mr Jerry J. Ouellette (Oshawa): It was 1993.

Mr Hampton: Yes, you're right, it is 1993. Sorry. In the fall of 1993 when they left, they left behind a total debt of over $550 billion.


If this government is trying to pretend that our deficit and debt figures are a major crisis, then what Brian Mulroney left behind in Ottawa is a monstrous disaster. If you try to make the argument that these draconian cuts have to happen, that there are no alternatives, then the government of Canada was and is beyond redemption. So I use that just to provide some comparative statistics.

The fact of the matter is that other jurisdictions, banking institutions, financial institutions, do not view Canada's financial situation as somehow being a horrendous disaster; they say there's a problem. We acknowledge there's a problem in Ontario, a problem that arrived here partly because of some of the very negative impacts of the free trade agreement, and they hurt the Golden Triangle in particular. The worldwide recession that hit in 1990-92 hurt this province. The withdrawal of federal funding, particularly as it affects health care and as it affects social services and as it affects post-secondary education, has very much hurt Ontario.

There is a problem, though there is not a crisis. There is certainly not a crisis that would justify the kinds of draconian cuts that this government wants to impose.

To take the comparisons a bit further, I asked the people in the library to look at the figures for Saskatchewan. As you know, Saskatchewan had a Conservative government, and that Conservative government had a fiscal philosophy much like this Conservative government. If you read Grant Devine's speeches, over the nine years he was Premier of Saskatchewan he gave very large tax cuts to high-income families, gave very large tax cuts to the oil industry, literally strangled the public sector, and generally tightened the screws on working people and lower-income families.

The interesting thing is that in the fall of 1991 when the Devine government, the Conservative government, was voted out in Saskatchewan, even though that province has a population of less than a million people the accumulated deficit, end of year, they left behind was over $3.6 billion. In fact, it was approaching $3.7 billion. The debt they left behind in the province of only one million people was over $15 billion.

Just do some simple multiplication. Multiply by 11 to get the approximate population of Ontario. That would have meant a $3.7-billion deficit in Saskatchewan multiplied by 11 would have been over a $40-billion deficit in Ontario. That's the comparative figure. A $15-billion debt in Saskatchewan at that time, multiplied by 11, would be over a $150-billion debt in this province.

I cite those statistics just to give some comparative data. By this government's arguments, there would have been an absolute disaster with debt and deficit figures that high. In fact, financial institutions, bond rating agencies and the New Democratic government that took over indicated that, yes, there's a very serious problem and, yes, we have to take some serious steps, but there is not a horrendous crisis that would justify the kind of slashing and burning of important health care and education services that this government now wants to undertake.

Looking at the current situation for the government of Canada in terms of its debt and its annual deficit, looking historically back at Saskatchewan and again comparing the relative populations, their situations were much more serious than our own, yet people looked at it and said, "It's a problem, not a crisis." This government has, I would suggest, a real credibility problem in terms of trying to suggest to people here that: "Oh, my God, there's a horrendous crisis. We must attack health care. We must attack education. We must attack the poor." It just doesn't add up.

That takes us to the next issue. The fact is that what is really driving this government's fiscal direction is its tax cut. In fact, the Dominion Bond Rating Service, when they looked at your fiscal plan, said that. They said yes, there is a deficit problem -- and there are ways to approach that deficit problem -- but they said this government's major problem was the magnitude of the tax cut which is promised. They say the tax cut will require at least a $5-billion cut to health care, education and other services to find the money for the tax cut, and perhaps even up to $6 billion in cuts to health care and education to find the money for the tax cut.

I simply want to point out to the government that, yes, you can repeat the mantra. You can say to people that what is a financial problem in terms of the deficit and the debt is a huge crisis, and you can repeat that and repeat that and then say, "Because of this, we must cut health care, we must cut education and we must tighten the screws on the poorest and most unfortunate in the province." You can say that as much as you want. The comparative figures, looking at other jurisdictions, just don't bear that out.

What you've got is a problem. We recognized it as a government when we took steps like the social contract, when we started cutting some of the expenditure in 1993-94 and into 1995. What you've got is a problem. But what is causing you fiscal pain and what is going to cause people in Ontario in communities real pain in terms of loss of health care services, loss of education services, loss of community services and loss of jobs is your ideological conviction, your ideological attachment to a tax cut for the wealthiest people in Ontario.

Before you get yourself into more trouble and before you hurt an awful lot of people in this province, look at where your strategy has been tried before. Look at the results in Saskatchewan. Look at Ronald Reagan's famous tax cut in the United States and what it left behind in the United States. It is still not too far down the path to look at some of the historical examples --

The Speaker: Order.

Mr Hampton: Speaker, it's 6 o'clock and I know we have a vote --

The Speaker: No, it's just that there are an awful lot of conversations going on in the House and I can hardly hear the member. Order, please.

Mr Hampton: Thank you, Speaker. I was going to say it's almost 6 of the clock, but since you have correctly given me the exact time, I will make use of it.

It's still not too late to learn from some of the examples of other jurisdictions. The fact is that Ronald Reagan's strategy of the big tax cut did not work for him. In fact, Reagan saw a little way down the road that it wasn't working and decided that he was going to spend more. So Reagan got into what has finally been called voodoo economics, and you know the result of that.


I'd invite you to sit down and look at Saskatchewan, because in many ways your government's direction is more like the Grant Devine Conservative government's direction in Saskatchewan than anywhere else. Devine believed in the very large tax cuts which he gave away. Devine believed in selling off whole chunks of the public sector and giving away whole chunks of the public sector, which they did. Devine believed in really tightening the screws, particularly on working families and lower-income families, which they did. There was a mass exodus of jobs from the province. The debt and deficit situation climbed higher than ever. It has taken some really tough steps by the succeeding government to try to turn that around.

Hopefully, as I say, before we proceed too far down the track, you will have a careful second look at some of the historicals that are lying around, and I would point out I think frankly your tax cut is misguided and will take you in the wrong direction, and hopefully you'll avoid that.

Speaker, as I said, it is close to 6 of the clock. It is Thursday and I know members want to vote and get on with other work.

The Speaker: Mr Eves has moved that the Minister of Finance be authorized to pay the salaries of the civil servants and other necessary payments pending the voting of supply for the period commencing December 1, 1995, and ending April 30, 1996. Such payments to be charged to the proper appropriation following the voting of supply.

Is it the pleasure of the House that this motion carry?

Those in favour, say "aye."

Those opposed, say "nay."

In my opinion, the ayes have it.

I declare the motion carried.


The Speaker (Hon Allan K. McLean): Pursuant to standing order 34(b), the motion to adjourn the House is deemed to have been made.

Mrs McLeod has given notice of her dissatisfaction with an answer given by the Minister of Community and Social Services respecting the cuts in family counselling agencies. The member has up to five minutes and the minister or the parliamentary assistant will have up to five minutes for a reply.

Mrs Lyn McLeod (Leader of the Opposition): I want to preface the five minutes I have to restate my question and my concern that was posed to the minister some time earlier by indicating very clearly to the minister that I do not consider this, Minister, to be a gotcha exercise.

I want you to know that I am genuinely disturbed at the seeming unawareness that you've demonstrated in this House of the nature of the cuts that you're forcing or of the impact of those cuts on programs and on people in communities across the province. I am deeply concerned about the impact on vulnerable people and on the loss of programs and services that have taken years to build and cannot readily be replaced.

Your answer to my question that led to my dissatisfaction related to the cancellation of funding for counselling programs in family counselling agencies across the province, in fact $3.9 million in funding cuts to some 40 community agencies that provide counselling.

I used two specific examples, one being an example from my home town in Thunder Bay, where the family services agency experienced a $97,000 cut, which eliminated all of the funding for general counselling programs of that agency. The second example was a $310,000 cut to the counselling programs offered by the Family Services Association of Metropolitan Toronto. Those are just two specific examples of the cuts, the $3.9 million in cuts that have been made to 40 community agencies across the province.

The minister in response kept saying that they want programs, this government wants programs to help people get off welfare and back to work, and that was very frustrating for me, because the programs that are being cut, the programs that I was asking him about in this question, are long-established community programs that do provide counselling to welfare recipients, to people who are low-income earners, in order that they can survive, that they can manage and hopefully that they can indeed get work and establish independent lives. I had to wonder, as the minister said in answer to my question about why they're cutting these programs, "We just want to help people get off welfare and back to work," how he could possibly give that as an answer when he's cutting the very programs that help people get back to work.

The minister also said to me that they want to cut, in their cost-cutting exercise, "inherited programs" that are costly training programs when the training isn't related to the work. Now, that may be a fine sentiment, but it had absolutely nothing to do with the question that I had asked, because the question I asked was about cuts to community programs that provide counselling.

My question had nothing to do with training programs, and indeed training programs are not even the responsibility of this minister. Counselling programs in community agencies across the province are very much the responsibility of this minister, and again I am concerned, when you ask a minister responsible about counselling programs and he answers you about training programs, that he is very seriously unaware of the cuts that his ministry is making and the impact those cuts will have.

In fact, I wonder whether this minister has any idea at all of what counselling programs are and why indeed they're valuable. We have seen them cut counselling programs for women and children who are leaving abusive situations and the minister says, "We are protecting our core services." Surely, as we have said time and time again in this House, counselling services that help women and children leave abusive situations and establish independent lives are a core service, and yet that is being cut and not protected as the minister has said.

We have not had time, even with the number of question periods we've had, to raise all of the specific areas where counselling programs in communities are being cut by this ministry, but I suspect that virtually all of the programs that are being carried out by community agencies providing counselling are in fact being cut.

Just to indicate to the minister, under vote 702, item 04, of his ministry's estimates, we're aware that ethnoracial community-based organizations' funding has been cut. We have already mentioned the fact that any counselling services contracted to municipalities and community agencies have been cut. We're aware that support services that are provided through Indian friendship centres have been cut, so that there is no counselling there. We're aware, sadly aware, that all of the services that are provided by community and neighbourhood support agencies have been lost because of the cut to their funding.

Issue after issue after issue of counselling services provided by community agencies that will disappear when the cuts being brought into place by this minister take effect -- the minister says he is redefining the core services of his ministry. I suggest that that has nothing to do with it, that this is a blind, cost-cutting exercise being carried out at the expense of the most vulnerable in order to give a tax cut to the most well-to-do in our society. I suggest that there will be virtually no core services left when this minister finishes --

The Speaker: Time has expired. The Minister of Community and Social Services, for up to five minutes.

Hon David H. Tsubouchi (Minister of Community and Social Services): The honourable Leader of the Opposition is questioning my government's commitment to help people break the cycle of dependency on welfare and return to the workforce.

First of all, let me assure this House and the people of this province that we will not waver from our commitment to get people working. That commitment, first made over a year and a half ago, was founded on the belief that people on welfare want to work and better their lives, people who have been trapped by a bad system, a system made worse by the policies of both the Liberal and the NDP governments.

Since our election victory, the Leader of the Opposition has been in deep denial. She avoids acknowledging the reality that we are on a collision course with our creditors. She appears to have abandoned her red book commitment that government spending must be cut by more than $4 billion. While in government, her party and the NDP also failed to address the growing problems. Instead, they let the debt of this province spin out of control. Thanks to their spending sprees, we're now paying $1 million an hour for the province's debt interest. Just imagine all the programs we could fund if the Liberals and the NDP had brought their spending under control instead of continuing to waste taxpayers' borrowed dollars.

They spent $40 billion over the last 10 years on social assistance alone. Costs escalated by more than 300% over the same period. What do they have to show for it? A welfare caseload that has increased by a staggering 168%, over 1.2 million now dependent on welfare in this province, trapped in a cycle of hopelessness and despair.

The size of the debt has kept growing during the past decade. In the last five years alone the province had to borrow almost $50 billion. Part of that borrowed money was spent on Jobs Ontario. Even the Liberals agreed Jobs Ontario was a dismal failure; the honourable member promised in her red book to scrap it. This government cancelled Jobs Ontario shortly after taking office. It simply did not make sense to continue pouring millions of taxpayers' dollars into a program that was not working.

As I stated a couple of weeks ago in the House, there is nothing more disheartening than sinking taxpayers' borrowed dollars into programs that do not produce results and do not lead people back to the workforce. Even the red book acknowledges that: "The Ontario government spends hundreds of millions of dollars each year on training. It's time that money was spent in a way that produces results."

At the same time, we've had to make other, more difficult decisions because of Ontario's debt and cuts by the federal Liberals. They left us with no choice. The federal government --


The Speaker: The member for Brantford isn't in his seat.

Hon Mr Tsubouchi: -- used to fund 50% of my ministry's social assistance budget, but their federal Liberal cousins have reduced the level of spending to 29%, and future prospects for federal funding look worse. With dwindling federal funds and a provincial debt of $8.7 billion, we have no choice but to curb our spending so we can protect our core services for people who really need our help. The status quo for the last 10 years has not worked. It's unacceptable to taxpayers and unacceptable to over 1.2 million people trapped in the welfare system. That's why we are committed to a major reform of the welfare system.

Over the past few months we have laid the groundwork, we have made the following changes to protect the system for people with genuine needs: We have adjusted the welfare rates to 10% above the average of the other provinces; introduced an incentive for people to get back to work by allowing people to earn back the difference between the old and new rates; tightened eligibility rules to make sure that only people who truly need our help get it; improved anti-fraud measures, including introducing a 1-800 anti-fraud line. But these measures only laid the foundation for a fundamental restructuring and reform of Ontario's social assistance system.

The cornerstone of our vision for welfare reform is mandatory workfare. We are currently looking at many options to develop a made-in-Ontario solution that requires able-bodied people to work for their welfare benefits. Our workfare program will also include training and educational programs that lead to real jobs. The failure of past governments' policies was best expressed by the Liberal member for Hamilton East a couple of years ago, when he said: "We're spinning our wheels. We're retraining but we're just ending up with higher-educated, better-trained unemployed."

It's time to stop spinning our wheels and give people a hand up. Our mandatory workfare program will give people that opportunity to break the cycle of dependency on welfare and become self-sufficient.

The Speaker: There being nothing further to debate, the motion to adjourn is deemed to have been carried. This House will stand adjourned until 1:30 of the clock next Monday.

The House adjourned at 1811.