36th Parliament, 1st Session

L032 - Wed 29 Nov 1995 / Mer 29 Nov 1995















































The House met at 1332.




Mr Michael A. Brown (Algoma-Manitoulin): I have a statement that will be of particular interest to the Minister of Northern Development and Mines and to the Minister of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs. This is representative of numerous letters I've received from my constituents.

The letter reads:

"I am concerned that the northern Ontario heritage fund program will be lost or changed in such a way that agriculture may no longer benefit in the way it has in the past. I feel that an agricultural component fits well within the revised mandate of the northern Ontario heritage fund. The challenge of stabilizing and diversifying the economics of northern Ontario communities and stimulating economic development has been taken up by the farmers in rural communities. It is my understanding that one of the aims of this new mandate is to assist `one-industry towns' across the north. From that perspective several communities, plus Manitoulin Island as a whole, fit within these guidelines since without agriculture their economies would be devastated.

"Agriculture in the north represents a $120-million industry and the northern Ontario heritage fund program was of significant importance in ensuring that this industry remained viable; $6.3 million in forgivable loans had been approved under Norfund," and those have levered $20 million of investment by the farmers in my area and across northern Ontario.

These farmers, people from the OFA, from the milk board, from all over, want this component of the heritage fund in place after today.


Mr Gilles Pouliot (Lake Nipigon): It gives me great pleasure to announce that the Geraldton District Memorial Hospital, the Manitouwadge General Hospital, the Wilson Memorial General Hospital in the township of Marathon, the Nipigon District Memorial Hospital and the McCausland Hospital of Terrace Bay have officially formed the Lake Nipigon Region Hospital Association at long last.

While keeping their independence, each of those five hospitals has ratified the terms of reference for the association as follows:

(1) provide opportunities for exchanging experiences and information among the hospitals;

(2) study and make recommendations to the five hospital boards on opportunities to improve the delivery of health care in all of Lake Nipigon;

(3) provide a common voice for the five hospitals in communication with government.

The communities and hospitals which form the Lake Nipigon Region Hospital Association are relatively small, of course, so that new concepts can be effected more rapidly, making them ideal for pilot sites.

The timing, Mr Speaker, and I think you will agree with me, could not be better, for it is in a mere two and a half or three hours from now that the government of the day, those people over there, will strike with passion, will strike with vengeance. May they not jeopardize the good deeds of those five hospitals, for they have a vision. They know what's coming down the pipe. They don't like it but they're trying to live with it.


Mr Ted Arnott (Wellington): I'm rising today to pay tribute to the professionalism, excellence and caring of our doctors in Wellington county. Too often, I think, we tend to overlook and take for granted the people who are most important to us, and doctors, as the gatekeepers to our health care system, clearly rank high on the list of those people we rely on the most when we need their help.

In Wellington county we are blessed with outstanding general practitioners and specialists, most of whom practise in hospitals in Fergus, Palmerston and Mount Forest or in the hospitals in Guelph. But we also have many communities which lack a sufficient number of local doctors and it's time the Ontario Medical Association and the Minister of Health collectively act to encourage positive incentives to address this problem.

Physicians in Wellington tell me they recognize that the province faces a severe financial problem due to many years of reliance on deficit financing for a government that grew too large. They want to be part of the solution and have indicated to me their willingness to work cooperatively with the government on issues of concern such as better management of existing health care resources and improving medical service delivery while reducing costs.

Collectively, doctors in Ontario have already demonstrated their sincere commitment to their patients by in effect providing free health care services valued in excess of $300 million last year alone due to the social contract. Obviously, this was a bad deal for individual doctors and it's important that change occurs in this area and that a new arrangement with doctors is reached.

As the government's mandate unfolds in the next four years, it is a certainty that we will be continuing to ask the help of our doctors to resolve both our health care and financial problems in Ontario. I'm confident that in the spirit of compassion and public service that they exhibit every single day, we can count on them to be supportive partners, working alongside us.


Mr John Gerretsen (Kingston and The Islands): My constituents are sending this government a message in a bottle -- and a diaper.

Last Friday I met with the coalition representing the vast majority of private and non-profit day care centres in my riding. They presented me with hundreds of letters in baby bottles, diapers and toys, all of which I will pass on to the Minister of Community and Social Services. They want the Harris government to leave day care alone. Let me share a couple of the letters with you:

"The health and safety of our children is vital to Ontario. Your possible cuts may look good when balancing budgets but how do you factor a mentally and physically healthy child into this equation? Children are often forgotten but please remember...the generation that will bear the responsibility for you in your maturing years."

Next: "Cutting the child care subsidies to employed parents, regardless of their income, instituting a voucher system, and lowering the standards of child care will have a dramatic negative effect on all society.

"You will be jeopardizing the safety of our children. Without standards, children will receive lower quality of care....

"It is our hope that you will re-evaluate your plans to cut back these areas. You need to think of our children. Let's not destroy their future."

Next: "Your plans to change child care, as it exists in Ontario, are ill-conceived. They threaten the standard of care for all the children of Ontario.

"How can you propose to build a strong province if you threaten the future, our children?

"Please use your common sense and continue to support the high quality of regulated child care programs in Ontario."


Ms Marilyn Churley (Riverdale): As an avid cyclist and Toronto resident, I'm proud to stand here today and tell the House that Bicycling Magazine, the world's premier road and mountain bicycling magazine, has chosen the city of Toronto as the best city for cyclists out of 124 cities in North America.

The survey examined aspects such as number of cycling commuters, miles of bike routes, the existence of a bike plan, bike advisory committees, regulations regarding bike parking and safety programs.

In accepting the award, Mayor Barb Hall spoke of the work of the Toronto City Cycling Committee, of which I was chair during my years at Toronto city council. I know that I and many Toronto residents put many hours into ensuring that Toronto will become a premier bicycling city.

Our combined efforts have paid off. According to Bicycling magazine publisher Mike Greehan, Toronto is a model of how a city can both encourage and benefit from cycling and points to our innovative cycling program's high ridership, excellent natural amenities and a committed cycling community. I encourage other communities in Ontario to follow Toronto's example.

Bicycling provides a fast, healthy and cost-effective method of transportation. Unfortunately, the government recently cut funding provided to encourage communities to establish bike plans. If our government was as committed to smog reduction and wise spending as it claims, it wouldn't have made such a short-sighted cut. Biking is healthy and cost-effective and deserves our support.



Mrs Lillian Ross (Hamilton West): It's my pleasure today to bring to the attention of this House a milestone in the history of women in Canadian politics. This afternoon in Hamilton, the Right Honourable Ellen Fairclough will officially launch her memoirs, entitled Saturday's Child: Memoirs of Canada's First Female Cabinet Minister. Mrs Fairclough is a remarkable woman who has had a distinguished career in business and politics. As a fellow resident of Hamilton West, I wanted to extend my sincere congratulations to Mrs Fairclough on behalf of all members of this Legislature.

Mrs Fairclough's political career started municipally in Hamilton, first serving four years as an alderman and then one year as a controller.

Mrs Fairclough was successful in a federal by-election in May 1950 as the Conservative candidate for Hamilton West. After the 1957 general election, which saw a minority government, Prime Minister John Diefenbaker asked her to serve in his cabinet, first as the Secretary of State for Canada and then, after the 1958 election, as the Minister of Citizenship and Immigration. Between 1662 and 1963, Mrs Fairclough held the post of Postmaster General. As most members of the House know, Mrs Fairclough was the first woman cabinet minister in Canadian history and also the first woman to serve as acting Prime Minister.

In 1963, Mrs Fairclough became active with her husband, Gordon, in their printing business, and also became active --

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


Mr Frank Miclash (Kenora): Northerners are saying that this government's plans for school board amalgamation across northern Ontario are not acceptable.

Over the past few months I have received letters, faxes and petitions signed by literally thousands of teachers, parents, students and trustees. All of them demand that amalgamation not take place among northern school boards.

The reasons are very clear. Northern communities are very different from southern communities, whereas the roles played by local school boards in northern towns are fundamental to those communities. This government has absolutely no proof that board reductions will save any money or improve classroom education.

Furthermore, northerners feel that this minister has done nothing to ensure that he understands the unique challenges and needs of northern Ontario. The minister has simply opted not to consult with them on the amalgamation issue.

This minister has the responsibility to make his decisions in the best interests of the people of Ontario, based on correct information, not blind ideology. To learn what the people of Ontario want he must meet with them; he must speak with them.

For these reasons, I urge the Minister of Education and Training to get away from Toronto, to travel to northern communities, to visit with northern board officials, to meet with northern parents, to talk with northern teachers and to see for himself the uniqueness of northern communities.


Mr Rosario Marchese (Fort York): Today has been proclaimed Prostate Cancer Awareness Day across Metro Toronto, a day to raise public awareness about this disease. Prostate cancer is the most frequently diagnosed cancer in Canadian men after lung cancer and is the leading cause of cancer death in Canadian men. In Canada an estimated 16,000 men will be diagnosed with prostate cancer in 1995, and 4,200 will die of the disease.

Detection and treatment of prostate cancer in its earliest stage provides the best chance for complete cure, and the combination of annual rectal exams after age 40 plus annual PSAS blood tests after age 50 offers the best chance of early detection and cure.

From 1979 to 1994 approximately 52,000 men have died from prostate cancer. These are indeed scary statistics, but I emphasize them to point out that prostate cancer can be cured if caught in time. I urge all men to speak to their doctors about the early warning signs and to take the appropriate steps to ensure a cure.

Mr Derwyn Shea (High Park-Swansea): I am certain all members of this House will join me in wishing Mr Floyd Laughren, MPP for Nickel Belt, a speedy recovery from his surgery.

In the same vein, I rise to advise this House, as my colleague has just done, that today is Metro Toronto's first Prostate Cancer Awareness Day.

In 1995, approximately 16,000 Canadian men will be diagnosed with prostate cancer and some 4,000 will die, statistics comparable to the number of Canadian women who will be diagnosed with and die from breast cancer this year. Prostate cancer is the number one cancer suffered by Canadian men. After lung cancer, it's the leading cause of cancer death.

Men and their families must be educated about the disease and the importance of early detection and treatment. It is critical that we get the message to the public.

Today marks the first-ever Toronto awareness day for this disease and I hope that you will join me in helping recognize this important milestone. I encourage all Ontarians to get involved in the prostate cancer cause, because only through increased community involvement, awareness and funding will a cure be found.

Finally, please join me in applauding the efforts of the sponsors of this event: the Canadian Prostate Cancer Education Network; support groups US Too and Man to Man; and the Canadian Cancer Society.



Mr Alvin Curling (Scarborough North): My question is to the Premier. Considering that you and your Minister of Housing have announced on many occasions your intention to eliminate rent control in this province, many people have been questioning what will happen to tenants who are now subsidized and who will be unable to pay market value rents.

You have stated your intention to implement a shelter allowance subsidy but without any details of how it will be implemented. Both tenants and landlords are concerned what the impact of these changes imposed upon them will be. My direct question is, will an individual applicant's shelter allowance subsidy be less than his or her rent-geared-to-income subsidy, and if so, what alternatives do you have planned for this shortfall?

Hon Michael D. Harris (Premier): I am aware of the member's long-standing interest and involvement in the whole issue of affordable housing and of rent controls, and making sure that there's an adequate supply and that tenants can afford that supply, both as a minister and as a critic, and so I appreciate the member's question and interest and comments.

Clearly, we indicated that we felt the rent control policy currently in place, the one that I believe the member voted against, as did the members of our party, which was put in place by the New Democratic Party, and the member for Scarborough North and his party voted against it --

Mr David S. Cooke (Windsor-Riverside): No, they voted yes on second reading and no on third reading.

Hon Mr Harris: Oh, I'm sorry; voted against it at one point, yes.

There were problems with the current system. It was too expensive; it was not serving tenants well; it was not serving affordable supply well. We indicated in the campaign and post-campaign that we believed it was incumbent upon all of us to see if we couldn't come up with a system that was more friendly to tenants, that was less costly, less cumbersome, and that we would strive to do that. We're in that consultative stage and our commitment is that if we can't come up with a system that's better for tenants, we'll leave the old one in place.

Mr Curling: I'm not quite sure if you're going to abolish rent control or not. One minute you were saying you were, and now you're saying you may leave this one in place. I recall too that in 1975 it was the Conservative Party that introduced rent control in a very haphazard way. In 1986, when we introduced ours, we got more balance involving tenants and also landlords in that.

But you're on record that it is your belief that if rent control in Ontario were eliminated, the building of affordable housing would flourish. Are you saying that rent control is the main cause for affordable housing not being built? Have you taken into account that tenants today are paying up to four times the accommodation tax that homeowners do? Would you be prepared to reform the property tax, making it fairer to all, which I think would dramatically reduce the cost to tenants who are paying rents today?

Hon Mr Harris: It's interesting that when the Liberal Party was in office they talked about rent review and now they talk about rent control, even though at some point in time they voted against it. So it's hard for us to get a handle on where the party is. But I want to say this: I believe the member for Scarborough North is sincere about wanting to have something in place that is fair to tenants and is in their best interests.


As far as the tax issue goes, that issue was there for five years of your government and was not addressed. It sort of got like market value: Everybody was afraid to touch it. We went through another five-year period with the New Democratic Party, and now we have the Golden commission, which is examining all these issues of taxation, including values and including assessments. We are awaiting that report. I would hope if the member is advocating a change to how apartment buildings are assessed that he is making those views known to the Golden commission. If he hasn't, I will relay them for the member.

Mr Curling: Thank you, Mr Premier. I think I'd be quite capable if I had my presentation to relate any concerns I have in that regard. You may recall too that the consultation process that the Liberals had put in place was a matter of tenants and landlords coming together and coming up with a program -- if you want to call it rent review -- that is fair to both landlords and tenants. Of course the NDP had to try to dismantle it.

Your Minister of Housing has received a discussion paper of which the title is The Challenge of Encouraging Investment in New Rental Housing in Ontario. You may be quite familiar with it. Your new Minister of Housing has already heard from landlords, and they are the only housing group you seem to be listening to these days. What about the consumers of rental housing?

Given this government's willingness to dismantle programs without consultation, as we have seen with Bill 7, the labour bill, and without regard for public input, what assurance will you give us that you or your minister will hold full public hearings into changes to rent control and subsidy allowance when you bring forward your bill to abolish rent controls?

Hon Mr Harris: I want to say I take a little exception that we don't consult and don't listen. We consulted for five years. We had an extensive consultation process on Bill 40 and made our views known throughout that consultation process. Then when Bill 7 came in, which was the same groups to consult, and you referenced this as Bill 40, we offered a further 40 hours of hearings if there was anything additional. The NDP snuffed that out and said no to five days, or 40 hours, of hearings.

But I want to assure the member that we will consult all of those, consumers, tenants, all those involved in the rental housing industry before making any changes. I welcome the member's input, because we're convinced we can come out with a process that will help tenants better. It may be that the member would like us to appoint him as chair of a commission to do that. Certainly I know the member would want to do that. His signal to me is he'd want to do it under the dollar-a-year principle under which we're looking for help from people.


Mrs Sandra Pupatello (Windsor-Sandwich): My question today is for the Minister of Community and Social Services. Once again yesterday the minister indicated in this House that children are indeed a priority with this government, even though to date all parents in Ontario realize that the government's actions so far would indicate that would be otherwise.

In fact, so far this government has eliminated junior kindergarten for children, cut funding to children's mental health agencies, cut funding to children's aid societies, cut programs for children with special needs, made cuts to child care and cuts to those children whose families are on welfare.

Are we going to hear anything today in the economic statement that would indicate that children might be a priority with this government?

Hon David H. Tsubouchi (Minister of Community and Social Services): I'd like to thank the member for the question because it gives me an opportunity to say once again in the House that what we are trying to endeavour right now is to work with the various areas of concern to this government, including of course the area of child protection, the area of child care, the area of the disabled community.

As for the gist of the question, I guess you're just going to have to wait for a couple of hours.

Mrs Pupatello: In my travels across the province over the last couple of weeks I've spoken to hundreds of parents, parents of all income levels, not just those on assistance, dual family-income parents, all of them. The questions I found most difficult to answer to those parents are those from parents with children who have special needs. The parents come from all income levels, every city, and they're all afraid.

It seems quite cruel to threaten cuts to programs that help provide the basic necessities for their children. I'd like the minister today to assure parents with children who have special needs that they will continue to have the required support from this government.

Hon Mr Tsubouchi: First of all, I have to say that this government is concerned about children with special needs. In fact the ministry has not ended any special-needs programs for special children. Local children's aid societies continue to work with families to ensure that their children receive the appropriate care.

Once again, I think the member is just going to have to be patient for a couple of hours to find out exactly what's going to happen today.

Mrs Pupatello: The realities are, though, the cuts have been made already, in a mere six months, that indicate that children are not a priority with government.

The minister mentions the children's aid societies. Across Ontario we recognize that there are several prepared to turn their mandate back to the province because they cannot continue to fulfil their mandate as legislated by this government.

The realities are that you are making cuts to a child care industry, making threats to the industry, that in fact will dismantle it. In particular, the parents of children with special needs in Ontario are afraid because you are already withdrawing that support.

I'd like the minister to assure us in the House today, and later on in a couple of hours through the economic statement, that parents in Ontario can be assured of the kind of support children require, because the very future of Ontario depends on it.

Hon Mr Tsubouchi: Nowhere have we ever made any threats in terms of the child care area. The only thing I can see that is happening is from the other side of the House, in particular the particular member who is asking the question today, who is out there on a campaign to fearmonger.

I think the appropriate question, once again, is to ask what is the cost of sending out 50,000 postcards to people to try to get the community excited over nothing. She has raised several points before in the House with respect to jurisdictions which we haven't looked at. I think the member has to do a little bit better homework and certainly come up with some facts to support any statements she makes.

We have a priority for child care in this area. In fact, as I've said before in the House, we're conducting a review of the child care industry under the able leadership of Janet Ecker, my parliamentary assistant, and we are entering into consultation in this area. We have a mandate to provide better, more affordable child care and more choice in terms of the child care area to the parents across the province of Ontario.


Mr Gilles Bisson (Cochrane South): My question is to the Premier. Tomorrow in private members' hour, I'll be introducing a motion that will call on this House to support the current rent control system. As you well know, you and your Minister of Housing have been telling Ontarians that you plan on introducing legislation that would scrap our current rent control system and replace it with a tenant protection package that would be market-based.

Premier, as you know, 3.6 million Ontarians live in apartments in this province. Many of them are concerned that such a move will allow rents to go right through the roof. Given that new landlords already have five years' exemption from rent control that allows marketplaces to initially set the rents in those crucial first five years, why are you putting tenants at risk and moving to a new system?

Hon Michael D. Harris (Premier): We've indicated -- and I indicated earlier today when the member for Scarborough North was on this issue, a little ahead of the NDP -- that we understand that the system in place is better than nothing, flawed as it is.


It was our goal to, and we believe we can, come up with a system that can encourage more supply in conjunction with trying to stop the massive subsidization and waste of dollars with the non-profit industry, as pointed out by the auditor -- where the auditor said, "You're wasting hundreds of millions of dollars" -- creating ghettos where you ghettoize everybody who needs assistance, and try and move in a combination package of shelter subsidy, of the private sector, of giving tenants more choices, of not ghettoizing people who need assistance by saying, "You've got to go into this unit or project that we designate as opposed to your choice," and a whole package that we believe will be in the better interest of all tenants, including those with an affordability problem.

We're working on that. We're consulting on that. I hope you're as interested as the member for Scarborough North in helping us come up with something better than what is in place.

Mr Bisson: It will certainly be a snowy day when the Liberals are ahead of us on any issue, because we really don't know what side of the fence they fall on this issue.

Mr John Gerretsen (Kingston and The Islands): Now careful. Be careful now.

Mr Bisson: Oh, we've got their dander going, we've got them going.

I must say that you certainly stick to your lines, Premier.


The Speaker (Hon Allan K. McLean): The member for Windsor-Sandwich is out of order.

Mr Bisson: However, your lines were not what Tory candidates were telling voters in the last election. It seems that the Tories, in their lust for power in the last election, were, let's say, inconsistent in their message to voters. In fact I would say they were very inconsistent. They seemed to be engaging in the oldest trick in the book: Tell them one thing in your central campaign, but tell them another thing on the doorstep.

I have here an election leaflet issued by Mr Leach's own parliamentary assistant, the now member for High Park-Swansea, Mr Derwyn Shea, that states, "The Mike Harris" --


The Speaker: The member for Hamilton East is out of order.

Mr Bisson: -- "policy would maintain rent control for all tenants in rental units."

I have here another one, from Mr Saunderson, that says, "Mike Harris will strengthen rent controls, not cancel them."

The Speaker: Put your question, please.

Mr Bisson: Premier, clearly you're saying one thing and these two other members are saying something else. Who are we to believe?

Hon Mr Harris: I am surprised, actually, that a member of the New Democratic Party would come forward suggesting that there were mixed messages in our campaign -- the masters of mixed messages, the masters of saying one thing and doing another, the masters throughout the province, the fearmongers at election time of the worst kind that I've ever seen in the history of the province, second only sometimes to the Liberal Party.

But let me say this to the member: We remain committed to ensuring -- whether it is marketplace rent controls, which have worked in British Columbia better than your failed policy, or whether it is a combination -- we are determined that rents will be controlled in the province of Ontario better than your failed policies are doing, and that's what we're striving to find.

When we find that, we will bring it into place, confident it will supply better controls, more choice, more opportunities, freedom of where to locate, shelter subsidies, less ghettoization than your policies collectively presented. That's our commitment and that's what we're striving for.

Mr Bisson: The Premier talks of inconsistencies of messages during campaigns and inconsistencies once we come into the House. I'm sure the Premier wouldn't want to give voters the impression that he's saying one thing during a campaign and another thing after.

I have here the Toronto Star, dated May 29, 1995, in the midst of the provincial election, where the headline reads, "PCs Vow Rent Revamp." What it goes on to say -- this is a direct quote from you that you said on CITY-TV on May 28 -- "Harris said tenants would still be protected under a Tory government and rents would be set as they now are under rent control guidelines."

My question to the Premier is simply this: You're telling the tenants in this province one thing during the election and then you're telling them another thing when it comes into the House. I want you to do one simple thing: Reconfirm what you said to the voters of this province in that article and say that you will stick to a rent control system that's based on our present Rent Control Act. Come clean.

Hon Mr Harris: You're asking me to confirm something that I haven't seen from CITY-TV to the Toronto Star or in the campaign that was there. I'd be happy to take a look at the article. I'm happy to repeat what I said pre-campaign, during the campaign and now consistently. You don't want to take yes for an answer, but I think tenants will. If we make any changes, it will be better for tenants than your failed policies. That's our commitment.


Mr Tony Silipo (Dovercourt): I have a question to the Premier as well and it concerns the important issue of youth unemployment, something that I know the Premier has many times expressed his concern about.

I want to tell him about a centre that's located just on the border of my riding and the riding of St Andrew-St Patrick. It's St Stephen's Youth Employment Centre. One of the programs that this centre runs is a computer training and English-language skills program aimed particularly at recent immigrants who are young people.

The amazing thing about this particular program that they run is that it is run, in terms of government funding, at a very low rate. I think the total government contribution averages about $750 per student. This program's success rate has been phenomenal. They've managed to place over 70% of the people who go through this program, who end up with a job.

What I'd like to ask you, Premier, is where is the common sense in eliminating a program -- which is what is happening because of the cuts through the municipal employment programs and Metro social services having to cut this program -- that gets people from welfare into jobs, particularly young people, and costs the government $750 per student? Where is the common sense in that?

Hon Michael D. Harris (Premier): I have to confess that I'm not 100% aware of all the details of this program. It sounds like one that is being run by the city of Toronto through Metro social services. If they're cancelling something that doesn't make sense, I'm going to talk to them.

Mr Silipo: I will confess that the reason I chose to ask the Premier the question is because a part of me was hoping that he would take exactly that attitude, as opposed to what might have happened if I'd asked the Minister of Community and Social Services.

I'm sure the people at St Stephen's will be delighted by that answer, because one of the things the Premier will find when he pursues this is that this program is giving young people who, as I said, are recent immigrants or refugees to this country, what they need in terms of getting Canadian experience through a 12-week training program, followed by a 16-week, on-the-job placement program. As I said, this is getting people off welfare and into jobs, exactly the kind of thing this Premier and this government have been talking about.

I want to make sure the Premier is prepared to ensure that this program does not go under. Yes, it's being cut through Metro social services, but the reason it's being cut through Metro social services is because of the cuts that your government has made to the municipal employment programs. They are the direct funders, but that municipal employment program is funded primarily through the Ministry of Community and Social Services.

Hon Mr Harris: I've indicated that we'll take a look at the program. It may be that it will require some consultation with the city of Toronto. It may be that they have valid reasons, and I don't want to prejudge that. But the minister has already indicated, as he does if there's any single little area of unfairness anywhere out there in Ontario that is affecting the most vulnerable, or the needy, or children, or those that we definitely want to target for assistance, we want to take a look at that. So we'll look into that.

I think the member was saying that it had to do with -- was it with immigrants or new Canadians? Maybe we should talk to the Liberals here, and if we could get a better deal out of the federal Liberals in Ottawa in funding the services -- I know Mr Rae had spent a considerable amount of time lobbying for that, and I have assured the former Premier and the leader of your party that I'm going to pick up the torch there and continue that lobbying to make sure we get a fair deal on helping new immigrants establish in Ontario.


Mr Silipo: The Premier will certainly get no disagreement from me and from the NDP caucus in terms of wanting to go after the federal Liberal government. That's fair game. But what I want to say to the Premier is that right in his Common Sense Revolution there is a commitment to providing people with opportunities for training, doing that also through training programs.


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

Mr Silipo: I remind the Premier that there are existing programs, like the St Stephen's community placement program, which right now does exactly that. It does it at a very low cost-per-pupil basis, and it also does it -- I know the Premier will be interested in this -- by involving private funding, but that private funding is in jeopardy of being cut because those private foundations will not continue their funding if there is no government funding, Premier.

That's the point we want to register with you, that sometimes a little bit, as in this case, of public money, government money, goes a long way to securing jobs for people, in this case for young people.

I want to ask the Premier again to ensure that this program and many others like it, because we could get up here day after day and give him lots more examples, do not go under in order for the Premier and his government to fulfil the rest of their agenda.

Hon Mr Harris: I think I've answered the question, but I am happy to respond to the member. The question is, if there are other examples where other agencies or governments are not using common sense, would we be prepared to assist or look at that? Of course we'll do what we can within our jurisdiction.

If the member is saying that after five years of the worst government the province has ever seen, he's discovered common sense and he's learned something from the election of June 8, and now I'm seeing some positive signals that he'd like to work with us in a positive, cooperative way to find commonsense solutions to the problems that he and his predecessors left us over this dismal, lost decade, I accept that offer. We're prepared to work with you.


Mr Sean G. Conway (Renfrew North): My question is to the minister responsible for Hydro. On October 24 I raised, in your absence, the question of reported pay raises at Ontario Hydro's nuclear power division in recent months. I raised this concern with the Chair of Management Board on October 24.

As you know, the utility was reported to have increased the pay in recent months of a number of managers, many of them associated with the nuclear power division, pay raises of up to 15%. Your colleague the minister responsible for treasury board indicated that there was a concern on the part of the government, that you had been deputized to convey that concern and to inquire into what could be done. Can you report to the House on the status of your inquiries in that respect?

Hon Brenda Elliott (Minister of Environment and Energy): I did raise those concerns that you brought forward in the House on that occasion, and I'm happy to report to you that the increases stem from salary compensation decisions made by the Ontario Hydro board of directors in 1993. The determination of these salary levels for individual employees is an operational decision, as the member opposite knows, for the operations of Ontario Hydro.

We certainly are concerned when increases are such for employees, wherever they may be. The times are difficult for all of us, and certainly we wish that all people in Ontario would exercise the same sort of restraint that we in the government here are exercising and that most people across Ontario are doing.

Mr Conway: It's not what you wished, it's not what you prayed for, it's not what you hoped for; it's what you did or did not do in this case. Do you not think it is obscene that on this day of all days, budget day 1995, you should come to this House and say that managers responsible for the nuclear power division, a division that's been fraught with safety problems reported widely in the public press, are this year receiving pay raises of up to 15%?

In and of itself, do you not think that is unacceptable, and do you not agree further that it sets a very poor example for the broad public looking to you for leadership to ensure that there is going to be pay for performance and there is going to be some discipline for poor performance?

Minister, beyond what you hope and prayed for, did you do anything?

Hon Mrs Elliott: I remind the honourable member opposite that the compensation increases stem from a decision made by the Ontario Hydro board of directors in 1993.

But I would like to mention that this government has been taking action with Ontario Hydro. We have instituted a rate freeze. We have made Ontario Hydro accountable for all changes in its operations under the guise of that rate freeze and within the limitations that are very clearly imposed on that corporation by that rate freeze. I remind the honourable member that we have appointed a new chair of Ontario Hydro and we very much look forward to the direction we will see from this new chair. I would also say that for the first time, we have organized a commission to look at the restructuring of electricity in this entire province. We are taking action.


Mr David S. Cooke (Windsor-Riverside): I have a question to the Chair of Management Board. Mr Chair, it is reported in my local paper, in the Windsor Star, that your ministry is seriously considering proceeding with the construction of the new courthouse in Windsor and that you're considering doing that with a private sector developer, that you would do this project jointly with the city of Windsor and that you would then lease back that facility from the private sector.

Could the Chair indicate to us, over the life of the possible lease, how much additional money that will cost the taxpayers rather than paying for the building up front?

Hon David Johnson (Chair of the Management Board of Cabinet): In terms of the courthouse situation, we are in a position to explore all alternatives, and I might say that not only in Windsor but in other locations in Ontario, other court sites, there are various options coming forward. For example, the mayor of Oshawa visited me about two weeks ago and brought forward possibilities with regard to the courthouse in Oshawa.

I'm happy to say to the member that we are negotiating, we are discussing with the mayor, with the council members in Windsor, the possibility of cooperation with the municipality, with the possibility of including a police function within the building. In terms of how the building is constructed or in terms of the financing, there are various options being discussed at this point, and I think we're making good progress.

Mr Cooke: There is one option the minister has ruled out, and that option is the completion of the construction of the building in the original form it was planned. He ruled that out, as it was quoted very strongly in the local media and press.

I'd like to remind the minister that to date, out of a project that would cost $54 million to complete, there has been nearly $30 million spent already in building that courthouse. I'd just ask the minister whether he could tell us what the additional cost of the option being examined by your ministry would be. If it is completed by the private sector and leased back, we know it will cost the taxpayers millions of additional dollars. What will that additional cost be?

Hon David Johnson: To the member for Windsor-Riverside, I'm happy to report to the House that it is our expectation that by exploring these options, rather than costing the taxpayers millions of dollars we will be saving the taxpayers tens of millions of dollars. I'm very delighted that the community, that the mayor, that the council in Windsor are taking a very cooperative approach -- one, I might say, I'm not entertaining in the House this afternoon.

As a result of that cooperative approach, the discussions are looking at alternatives that will save the taxpayers millions of dollars on this project. Indeed, the Attorney General is looking at alternatives for about five courthouses across the province of Ontario. My expectation is, because of the kind of cooperation we're getting in municipalities across Ontario, that we have a good chance of delivering courthouses in many of the communities and at a cost that the taxpayer can afford.



Mrs Barbara Fisher (Bruce): My question is for the Solicitor General and it concerns his announcement that Ontario will finally be able to benefit from the proceeds of crime. Could the minister outline why Ontario hasn't been benefiting from the proceeds of crime in the past and how soon the province could expect some of these funds?

Hon Bob Runciman (Solicitor General and Minister of Correctional Services): I really can't explain why we haven't been benefiting up to this point. Clearly, it wasn't a priority of the previous government.

Mr David S. Cooke (Windsor-Riverside): Benefiting from crime.

Hon Mr Runciman: It wasn't a priority of the previous government, and we're hearing that from across the floor, that that's still their view.

Clearly, our party and our government are committed to doing this. It makes sense, in our view, to share the proceeds of crime in the fight against crime in this province. We're looking forward to receiving our first cheque within the next few months.

Mrs Fisher: I was pleased to hear the minister state last week that the money will not be put into the consolidated revenue fund. Instead, it will be deposited into two new accounts. Could the minister explain how this money will be used and, in particular, could he confirm that the funds will be used for crime prevention purposes?

Hon Mr Runciman: Yes, I can indeed. In fact, there are two dedicated funds for the revenues that will be derived from the proceeds of crime, one for the Ministry of the Solicitor General, the other for the Ministry of the Attorney General. Indeed, these will be used for crime prevention purposes. Community groups, law enforcement groups will be able to apply for use of these funds, and victims' groups that are advocating crime prevention measures will also have access to funds that grow through the proceeds-of-crime memorandum of understanding with the federal government.


Mr Rick Bartolucci (Sudbury): My question is to the Premier. I have a copy of a resolution sent to you from FONOM, the Federation of Northern Ontario Municipalities, expressing great concerns over cuts to northern municipalities due to the inequities in our tax bases.

The following part of the resolution passed by the federation reads as follows, and after very many important "whereases," it says, "Therefore, be it resolved that the Federation of Northern Ontario Municipalities, FONOM, requests the province to limit the reduction of unconditional grants for any northern municipality to a maximum decrease of 3% of the 1994 tax levy."

They haven't heard a response from your minister or you, Mr Premier. I'm asking, how will you respond to this resolution?

Hon Michael D. Harris (Premier): I know that the member, being from the north, will understand this party's long-standing commitment to northern Ontario and to some of the increased costs northerners have. We are the party, of course, that was in government when the differential was first brought in, when special northern grants were put in place. As I recall, we brought in a minister and a Ministry of Northern Affairs at the time that your party opposed. I don't know if you opposed it at the time, but your party and your leader opposed it, said, "No, this is terrible, having a voice for the north."

But let me assure the member and let me assure the municipalities and the association and FONOM that nothing that they will hear later today from the Minister of Finance and in future weeks as details are brought forward for individual municipalities will take away from the fact that we respect and understand different tax bases and different costings in all parts of the province, including northern Ontario.

Mr Bartolucci: I'll take that as a no. I'm really not asking you what you did in the past, I'm asking what you're going to do later on today. Premier, your across-the-board cuts to municipalities will unfairly penalize those municipalities that have truly tried to be fiscally responsible and tried to control their costs.

Let me tell you that your 20% reduction in transfer payments to municipalities will lead to an 8.3% hike in property taxes in the city of North Bay, a city I know you're familiar with, in part. The city of Sudbury can expect an 8.9% tax hike; Timmins and Sault Ste Marie, a 7.5% tax hike; and the region of Sudbury, 9.7%. Premier, how can you justify punishing those fiscally responsible municipalities with these across-the-board cuts?

Hon Mr Harris: I'm glad of the opportunity to clarify for the member that of course we will not be punishing fiscally responsible municipalities. We will not be punishing municipalities across northern Ontario.

I met with members of municipalities across the north, including my own, including some in Sudbury, just last week. I know the Minister of Northern Development has as well, and so has the Minister of Municipal Affairs and Housing.

I want to assure the member that, as we have in the past when we were in government, as we advocated when we were in opposition and as we will do in governing, although it will be difficult and adjustments will have to be made, we will be fair to all municipalities in the province of Ontario. We will give them the tools they need.

They have told us they recognize the problem -- an Ontario on track to bankruptcy, which we inherited, and in fact a country that, unless changes are made, is heading for bankruptcy -- and that they have to be part of the solution. They're asking for the tools to be part of that solution, and we will do that fairly. We will do that fairly for all municipalities, including those in northern Ontario.


Mr Gilles Pouliot (Lake Nipigon): Mr Speaker, in the absence of the Minister of Transportation, who is no doubt busy on yet another assignment, you will permit me, sir, to direct my question to the Premier of the province.

It was him, Premier, your Minister of Transportation, who said a few days back that your government intends to deregulate the bus industry in the province of Ontario, and we heard him loudly and clearly. Yet he said in the same vein that he would have the bus industry regulate itself. It's like having Colonel Sanders in charge of Swiss Chalet.

The freedom to move: The coalition of seniors, coalitions of students, coalition of commuters are saying very plainly that they suspect a deal will be cooked under dim lighting in the back room. Will you have public consultation before anything else takes place so that people in Lake Nipigon, people all through the north, southeastern, southwestern, will not be left without the essential service, which is that of commuting through intercity buses?

Hon Michael D. Harris (Premier): As you are aware, because the Minister of Transportation has been very forthcoming, we are looking and his ministry is looking at the bus industry. As your government, or previous ones, were involved in deregulation of the trucking industry, trying to bring more competition, lower costs, we are looking to see if there are some benefits -- lower fares and service improvements -- by looking at the current regulatory process in place in the bus industry.

I want to say to the member, some have said that if you don't proceed carefully, some communities may lose service. Others have come forward and said, "If you will streamline this process, many smaller companies are prepared to enter into the marketplace and perhaps we'll have improved service."

We've asked the minister to weigh all these predictions, if you like, and benefits, to study it very carefully and ensure whatever we do is in the interests of those who require bus transportation in the province of Ontario, and that's what we're doing.


Mr Pouliot: With the highest of respect, Premier, you're right: Your Minister of Transportation has been forthcoming, but it seems that he's been forthcoming in many directions.

We want to know here -- and we're only seeking clarity -- within the confines of the mandate of your minister, Premier, is this new deal going to serve the consumer, people of moderate means like the opposition here, or is it going to serve the bus company? Which one will it be? We want to know, because we have plans to make, plans to go to school, plans to go to work, plans to attend much-needed, essential medical services.

You can make a difference. You're the boss here, Premier. Stand up and say that you will protect us.

Hon Mr Harris: Let me assure the member of this: We haven't asked the minister that at the top of his mind should be members of the Legislature who have full cost recovery on their travel, in their ridings, to and from Toronto, and are able to expense it. That hasn't been our top priority, looking after the members of the Legislature.

Mr Pouliot: On what you're paying me, I can't afford to go back and forth.

Hon Mr Harris: The member says he's not paid enough and he's having trouble affording going back and forth to the riding. Let me assure the member that I believe the Legislative Assembly provides ample travel allowances for the members who are there.

What we are concerned about are those who don't have the same expense allowances that the member has, those citizens of all of our communities across the province of Ontario. That indeed is our top priority --

Mr Gilles Bisson (Cochrane South): The bus has left the station. You missed the bus.

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

Hon Mr Harris: -- looking to see if we can find ways to improve service and affordability for Ontarians.


Mr Leo Jordan (Lanark-Renfrew): My question is for the Minister of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs. That's a hard act to follow, but, Minister, you realize that we did promise reduced red tape and increased cooperation between ministries. We did this in the hope that it would lead to job creation. Can you tell me, if you have made any progress in this area?

Hon Noble Villeneuve (Minister of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs, minister responsible for francophone affairs): Yes, we have reduced and will be reducing red tape. Examples: We're working, together with the federal government and my colleague the Minister of Environment and Energy, towards harmonizing the use of pesticides. That will reduce red tape and it will reduce time.

I'm also working with my colleague the Minister of Natural Resources and Northern Development and Mines regarding the aquaculture industry. Aquaculture is very important, and the Minister of Natural Resources has announced many more species that are now available to be raised domestically.

So yes, we're putting together a province that has a lot less red tape and will be providing more employment and business opportunities.

Mr Jordan: I can appreciate that when two ministries are involved, it's easy for there to be more red tape and regulatory burden. As a result then, it's a detriment to growth and job creation. Could the minister explain how the two ministries that he's referred to -- he represents one, and the Minister of Natural Resources and Northern Development and Mines the other -- are working together and whether new job creation is actually expected from this initiative?

Hon Mr Villeneuve: Yes, the Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs along with the Ministry of Natural Resources have deregulated and continue to work together on --

Mr David S. Cooke (Windsor-Riverside): Deregulated what?

Hon Mr Villeneuve: The livestock industry, for instance. The former government wanted to tie up the exotic-type farming. Deer farmers were very unhappy. Yes, we are deregulating.

Ms Marilyn Churley (Riverdale): You're the exotic minister.

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

Hon Mr Villeneuve: The new climate for growth and opportunity in Ontario will assist the aquaculture industry, for example, which is only at $15 million presently, to grow to sales of $50 million by the year 2000.


Mr Jean-Marc Lalonde (Prescott and Russell): My question is to the Minister of Consumer and Commercial Relations. On November 21, you confirmed that your ministry, through the Registered Gaming Suppliers of Ontario, was in the process of giving final approval to satellite bingo. You also mentioned on November 21, and this is taken from the answer, "There is no doubt that this kind of province-wide network bingo would affect charitable bingos to a very great degree."

I'm quite concerned with the effect that those bingos would have in my riding, and also the cuts, since we recognize all the cuts that we are going through at the present time. There were some priests over the weekend who were telling me that now the people are lining up at the door of the church to get food, and the money for that food comes from bingos that they run during the week. In my riding alone, over 100 permits are issued on an annual basis, and 50% of those permits are issued for weekly bingos.

The Speaker (Hon Allan K. McLean): Would you put your question.

Mr Lalonde: Those bingos represent hundreds of thousands of dollars, and probably over $1 million, in revenue for charitable bingos in my riding. The minister has said that revenue generated by the province-wide bingo game will be returned to the charitable groups of the province.

The Speaker: And the question is? Put the question.

Mr Lalonde: My question to the minister: Will the minister guarantee that the charitable groups in Prescott and Russell will receive provincial bingo game revenue equal to the current revenues they are generating on their own?

Hon Norman W. Sterling (Minister of Consumer and Commercial Relations): As I indicated in the House to your colleague, who I believe since the date of his question has been inundated by charities supporting the new concept for bingo -- and I'm not surprised that he's not asking this question of me today, because I'm sure that he's embarrassed by the response that he has evoked, which has been of the exact opposite of the tack he took in his question.

Notwithstanding that, the principle which has been put forward by this group has been approved. However, the details as to how the money shall be divided have not been brought forward. I'm not about to have this particular type of bingo approved unless all charities get some of the benefits from it. It's not for one charity, it's for all of the charities of Ontario, and we have to be certain that they all receive a fair shake out of this new scheme.

Mr Bruce Crozier (Essex South): It's my pleasure to inform the minister that I am not embarrassed. It's our responsibility to raise questions when they're of concern to the small people in this province. I'll also inform the minister that I have not been inundated by anyone. I have received more calls from Tecumseh, from McGregor, from Prescott-Russell, from St Catharines, from small bingos. I got one big letter from the registered gaming suppliers of Ontario, who have a very vested interest in this.


What I would like to ask the minister is: He has acknowledged that this is going to hurt small charities in the province, he has acknowledged that for the first time in history that I know of you're going to participate in the revenues of bingo, notwithstanding the fact that your Premier said you don't need the money. How is it, Mr Minister, with this charitable trust that you're going to set up, that you're going to assure the small bingos of this province that they are going to be able to continue: not just participate in this money, but that they are going to be able to continue and in fact survive?

Hon Mr Sterling: The member is quite wrong in his taking of my remarks that this was going to injure bingos or injure charities.


The Speaker: The member for St Catharines is out of order.

Hon Mr Sterling: The whole purpose of this endeavour is to improve it for charities like B'nai Brith, which I also know contacted you, contacted the minister as well, and probably services many, many people across this province as well. But the whole purpose of this is to allow the bingos to regain the business that they've lost to the other parts of the gaming industry. Therefore, all I'm concerned about is and the bottom line is that charities are better off than they were before this started.


Mr David Christopherson (Hamilton Centre): My question is to the Minister of Labour. Minister, as a result of your anti-worker Bill 7, there are now over 200 workers at the Highline Produce Ltd mushroom plant in Leamington who have been denied their right to a union. In fact, they'd already signed voluntarily, had begun negotiations, and your anti-worker legislation has denied them that democratic right. When asked about this recently in an interview with regard to health and safety, you answered, and I quote from the article, "Although the workers can't seek the protection of a union, they will be protected by provincial health and safety laws."

Given that agricultural workers in Ontario are not covered by the Occupational Health and Safety Act and therefore will not have any protection if they cannot include clauses in a collective agreement where you've taken away those rights, my question to you is, is it your intention to amend the legislation so that all agricultural workers will have protection for health and safety under the law, or will you be making a special case just for the workers at Highline Produce?

Hon Elizabeth Witmer (Minister of Labour): As you well know, the agricultural community is protected by the Farm Safety Association. I met recently with the farming community and they are very adequately looking after the needs of the agricultural workers at the present time.

Mr Christopherson: Minister, that is outrageous, to suggest that they're adequately covered. When I talked to workers from that plant when I was in Windsor, and the union that attempted to negotiate a collective agreement on their behalf, they spoke of the unusually high rate of serious accidents and deaths, high rates above average. You answered when that question was put to you, "Don't worry about a union contract; you're covered by legislation." Don't give me some smarmy answer about associations. We're talking about workers' rights being protected in law.

My question again to you is, will you provide that protection in law for all agricultural workers or will you at least honour your commitment to provide protection in law to the workers at Highline Produce?

Hon Mrs Witmer: As I have indicated on many occasions, it is certainly our intention to provide the safest workplaces possible in this province. It is to that end that we have set up the health and safety review panel.

I am meeting tomorrow with a group of individuals and we are again taking a look at involving the private sector to ensure that we raise public awareness. We recently have introduced the Alert program and we are actively moving forward. I am meeting with the Minister of Agriculture and we will ensure that we have safety, whether it's in the agricultural community or whether it's the industrial community. I would suggest to you, if you do have specific concerns, that you address them to the Minister of Agriculture.


Mr R. Gary Stewart (Peterborough): My question is to the Minister of Natural Resources. I believe this question to be very important because it could have a major effect on rural and northern Ontario. I've received numerous calls and letters from constituents in my riding and groups across the province concerning the application of crown land fees on such things as water lots. What progress has your ministry made on the question of rental fees on commercial water lots?

Hon Chris Hodgson (Minister of Natural Resources, Northern Development and Mines): I'd like to thank the member for Peterborough for his question. It is a very important issue. I know he's aware that by statute, land under navigable waters belongs to the crown. What he's referring to are docks and boathouses. These are called water lots, which are privately owned but occupy crown land.

Groups like the Northern Ontario Tourist Outfitters Association and other owners are concerned over the fairness of the fee schedule the previous government proposed for these rental lots. I would like to continue the dialogue with these affected owners and make sure that water lot rates are fair and the schedule is fair, or even if they're appropriate.

Mr Stewart: Mr Minister, I agree with you 100%, because certainly it was another tax or suggested tax by the previous government to continue their ride into economic chaos in this province.

I understand that the previous government's plan would have directed staff from your ministry to begin enforcement action in situations where these types of water lots have not been authorized by the end of the year. Is the ministry planning to begin enforcement action on January 1, 1996?

Hon Mr Hodgson: As the member for Peterborough stated, that's the situation that I inherited, but after listening to the concerns of lodge owners and NOTOA -- I was in Kenora two weeks ago, speaking at NOTOA -- I realized that we need to extend this deadline to May 1, 1996, in order to have a further dialogue and to see what's fair and to see what's appropriate in this regard.



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

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

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

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

I have affixed my signature.


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

"Whereas six women present at a meeting held by the minister responsible for women's issues, Dianne Cunningham, at her constituency office on October 25, 1995, agree that they heard the minister state, `Within the context of this government, you need to understand that groups or agencies that are seen not to be working with this government, providing an oppositional voice...will be audited and their funding eliminated'; and

"Whereas the minister responsible for women's issues denies having made this statement; and

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

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

I affix my signature to this petition.



Ms Annamarie Castrilli (Downsview): I have a petition to the Legislative Assembly of Ontario.

"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 and families in the province of Ontario be retained; and

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

I'm proud to add my signature to those of my constituents in Downsview.


Mr Gilles Bisson (Cochrane South): I have here a petition from some of the youngest people in the province in regard to saying to Mike Harris, "Don't stamp out junior kindergarten." I recognize it's not a legal petition, but they did give it to me, and I must give it.


Mrs Julia Munro (Durham-York): I bring to the assembly a petition in support of family resource programs.

"We, the undersigned, are firmly opposed to the erosion of the child care system. We are most particularly concerned about the unregulated child care sector, which represents the choice of most Ontario families, many living in rural areas. We urge this government to make its budget reductions in areas where children and families will not once again be the targets of cuts. Family resource programs support the informal sector of child care, which includes parents caring for their own children and care provided by grandparents, home child care providers and nannies."


Mr Michael A. Brown (Algoma-Manitoulin): I have another petition on the same subject that we've been talking about for many weeks now. It says:

"To the Legislative Assembly of Ontario:

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

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

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

This particular petition is signed by the entire council of the township of Tehkummah.


Mr David Christopherson (Hamilton Centre): I have a petition to the Legislative Assembly of Ontario. It reads as follows:

"Whereas six women present at a meeting held by the minister responsible for women's issues, Dianne Cunningham, at her constituency office on October 25 of this year agree that they heard the minister state, `Within the context of this government, you need to understand that groups or agencies that are seen not to be working with this government, providing an oppositional voice...will be audited and their funding eliminated'; and

"Whereas the minister responsible for women's issues denies having made this statement; and

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

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

I also join by signing my name.


Mr Ernie Hardeman (Oxford): I'd like to present a petition on behalf of 650 people living in and around Oxford county. The petition was brought to my attention by the Tillsonburg and District Association for Community Living, which feels it is unfairly and inequitably treated by the Ontario government. Although this petition was circulated in the community this past spring, it was not presented by the previous member due to the election and the subsequent closure of the Legislature. The petition reads:

"The Tillsonburg and District Association for Community Living wants your support in addressing the discrimination and inequities inflicted upon its workers by the Ontario government.

"We, the undersigned, petition the Legislative Assembly to intervene on behalf of the Tillsonburg and District Association for Community Living workers to aid in eliminating any further inequities and discrimination."

Again, this petition was signed by 650 people.


Mr Frank Miclash (Kenora): I have a petition that 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 Legislature of Ontario as follows:

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

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


Mr Peter North (Elgin): I have a petition to the Legislative Assembly of Ontario. It reads as follows:

"We, the undersigned of Elgin county, beg leave to petition the Parliament of Ontario as follows:

"That junior kindergarten as it stands in the current public school system remain as a level of education for our children, governed by the provincial government.

"Therefore, we, the people of Elgin county, request that the House refrain from cancelling junior kindergarten as proposed by the current Harris government. We request that junior kindergarten remain as part of the public school system."

I've attached my signature thereto.


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

"Whereas the Ministry of Transportation has had 12.8 kilometres of Highway 11 between Temagami and south of Highway 64 turnoff reconstructed during April to October 1995; and

"Whereas the contractor for this project is Allan Cook Construction of Barrie, Ontario; and

"Whereas the condition of this highway during construction was deplorable and caused considerable damage to vehicles driving north and south along this 12.8 kilometres of Highway 11 and the lack of maintenance during the construction period caused an unsafe environment for vehicle traffic from the south and north who had to use Highway 11, as it has been the only route for residents, businesses and tourists; and

"Whereas the length of time for this construction to be completed was too long a time frame and being the months of April, May, June, July, August and September 1995 afforded the most favourable weather for the necessary construction work to be completed;

"We, the undersigned, petition the Legislative Assembly of Ontario to disallow a similar situation of road construction to occur in the future and to guarantee a safe and good passable roadway during any further road construction for the residents of northern Ontario, transportation vehicles of goods and services, and tourists to and from northern Ontario."

Now I'll affix my signature to this.


Mr David Turnbull (York Mills): I have a petition for the Legislative Assembly.

"We, the undersigned, request the Legislative Assembly of Ontario not to approve any tax cuts until the causes of poverty and unemployment in Ontario are dealt with and in fact until the province's debt and deficit are paid down."

I do not agree with this petition; however, I'm presenting it.


Mr James J. Bradley (St Catharines): This petition is addressed to the Legislature of Ontario. It reads as follows:

"The governments at provincial and regional levels are threatening cuts to child care programs. We see child care as an essential service to the community. A reduction in subsidized child care programs would result in unaffordable and unavailable child care, causing higher levels of unemployment and welfare dependency."

I affix my signature to this petition as I'm in agreement with its contents.


Mr Mike Colle (Oakwood): I have a petition from people of my riding of Oakwood in support of Northwestern General Hospital.

"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 and services with Humber Memorial Hospital on Humber's site;

"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 by the government of Ontario and that it keep Northwestern hospital open" forever.


Mr Frank Miclash (Kenora): I have a petition to the Legislative Assembly of Ontario which 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 David Ramsay (Timiskaming): "To the Legislative Assembly of Ontario:

"Whereas the Ministry of Transportation is intent on reducing northern road winter 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'll affix my signature to this.


Mr Peter North (Elgin): I have a petition to the Legislative Assembly that says:

"We, the undersigned of Elgin county, beg leave to petition the Parliament of Ontario as follows:

"That junior kindergarten as it stands in the current public school system remain as a level of education for our children, governed by the provincial government.

"Therefore, we the people of Elgin county, request that the House refrain from cancelling junior kindergarten as proposed by the current Harris government. We request that junior kindergarten remain as part of the public school system."

I've attached my name thereto.


Mr Mike Colle (Oakwood): I have a petition to the Legislative Assembly of Ontario.

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

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

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

"Whereas recent cuts to child care will destabilize 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 and their families in the province of Ontario be retained; and

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

I attach my signature to this petition and I support it.



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 Pr9, An Act respecting the City of Brampton.

Your committee begs to report the following bills without amendment:

Bill Pr11, An Act respecting the Waterloo County Board of Education

Bill Pr12, An Act respecting the Canadian Niagara Power Company, Limited.

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



Hon David Johnson (Chair of the Management Board of Cabinet): On behalf of the Minister of Finance, I move that leave be given to introduce a bill entitled, An Act to achieve Fiscal Savings and to promote Economic Prosperity through Public Sector Restructuring, Streamlining and Efficiency and to implement other aspects of the Government's Economic Agenda / Loi visant à réaliser des économies budgétaires et à favoriser la prospérité économique par la restructuration, la rationalisation et l'efficience du secteur public et visant à mettre en oeuvre d'autres aspects du programme économique du gouvernement, and that it now be read the first time.

Mr Tony Silipo (Dovercourt): On a point of order, Mr Speaker.

The Speaker (Hon Allan K. McLean): There's nothing out of order.

Mr James J. Bradley (St Catharines): On a point of order, Mr Speaker.

The Speaker: There's nothing out of order. I have a motion before me. Is it the pleasure of the House that the motion carry?

All those in favour, say "aye."

All those opposed, say "nay."

In my opinion, the ayes have it.

Mr Silipo: On a point of order, Mr Speaker.

The Speaker: Call in the members; it will be a five-minute bell.

Mr Silipo: Mr Speaker, you have to recognize --

The Speaker: There is nothing out of order. We've had a motion. We have voted on it. There's nothing out of order.

The division bells rang from 1504 to 1509.

The Speaker: Mr Johnson has moved first reading of the bill.

All those in favour will please rise one at a time.


Baird, John R.

Hudak, Tim

Runciman, Bob

Beaubien, Marcel

Johnson, David

Sampson, Rob

Boushy, Dave

Jordan, Leo

Shea, Derwyn

Brown, Jim

Kells, Morley

Skarica, Toni

Chudleigh, Ted

Klees, Frank

Smith, Bruce

Cunningham, Dianne

Leach, Al

Sterling, Norman W.

DeFaria, Carl

Leadston, Gary L.

Stewart, R. Gary

Doyle, Ed

Marland, Margaret

Tascona, Joseph N.

Ford, Douglas B.

Martiniuk, Gerry

Tilson, David

Fox, Gary

Murdoch, Bill

Tsubouchi, David H.

Froese, Tom

Mushinski, Marilyn

Turnbull, David

Gilchrist, Steve

Newman, Dan

Vankoughnet, Bill

Guzzo, Garry J.

O'Toole, John

Villeneuve, Noble

Hardeman, Erni

Palladini, Al

Wettlaufer, Wayne

Harnick, Charles

Parker, John L.

Witmer, Elizabeth

Harris, Michael D.

Pettit, Trevor

Wood, Bob

Hastings, John

Preston, Peter


Hodgson, Chris

Rollins, E.J. Douglas


The Speaker: All those opposed will please rise one at a time.


Bisson, Gilles

Cooke, David S.

North, Peter

Boyd, Marion

Duncan, Dwight

Pouliot, Gilles

Bradley, James J.

Hampton, Howard

Pupatello, Sandra

Castrilli, Annamarie

Kormos, Peter

Ramsay, David

Christopherson, David

Kwinter, Monte

Silipo, Tony

Churley, Marilyn

Marchese, Rosario

Wood, Len

Cleary, John C.

Martel, Shelley


Colle, Mike

Miclash, Frank


Clerk of the House (Mr Claude L. DesRosiers): The ayes are 52, the nays 22.

The Speaker: I declare the motion carried.

Does the minister have a short statement?

Hon David Johnson: The Minister of Finance will be outlining some of the measures contained in this statement later this afternoon, measures pertaining to the systems and promotion of public sector restructuring.

The Speaker: Any further introduction of bills? There being no further introduction of bills, as previously agreed to, this House stands recessed until 4 o'clock this afternoon.

The House recessed from 1512 to 1600.



The Speaker (Hon Allan K. McLean): Could I have the indulgence of the House for a few minutes while the pages deliver the statement.

Hon Ernie L. Eves (Deputy Premier, Minister of Finance and Government House Leader): This statement is a report to Ontarians on actions to renew the province's economy and get Ontario back to work.

The people of Ontario have asked us to take on an important job: restoring confidence in this province as a place to live, to work and to do business.

The plan I am introducing today is an essential part of our program to renew Ontario.

Ontarians want jobs.

They want to see a more secure and prosperous future for their province and their children.

They want to see businesses that create jobs and opportunities here at home, while competing for markets around the world.

They want an economy that is freed from the burdens of red tape and overtaxation, where individuals have the opportunity and the means to set goals for themselves and their communities.

They want a sound and affordable health care system, and they want schools where their children learn.

They want their government to focus on the services that Ontarians value most, to deliver those services as efficiently as possible and to make changes when changes are needed.

Our government is committed to creating an Ontario of opportunity rather than dependence, where genuine need is met with compassion and support, and where government is a partner in change rather than an obstacle to it.

Since taking office, my colleagues and I have had to adjust to the reality of a fiscal situation that was worse than previously disclosed. We have faced an economic downturn that forecasters did not predict.

We have listened, and will continue to listen, to constructive advice from Ontarians on how to meet our government's objectives in the face of changing circumstances. Some of that advice is reflected in today's statement.

Yet even as we adapt to changing circumstances, we remain committed to the objectives that Ontarians have asked us to pursue.

To achieve these objectives, we must get Ontario out from under the burden of rising interest costs. That's why we are committed to stopping government overspending. That's why we are taking other steps to encourage people and business to invest here and to create worthwhile jobs.

The size of our debt, and the interest we pay on it, mean we have to act quickly.

The root of our debt problem is government overspending. As a result of the fiscal situation we have inherited, our government spends $1 million more an hour than it takes in in revenues. I want Ontarians to think about that: $1 million an hour more than we take in in revenue, 24 hours a day, 365 days a year.

We are determined to stop that. We have to stop that.

In the last 10 years, government spending has almost doubled, while the accumulated debt has almost tripled. And what do the people of Ontario have to show for it? Fewer jobs now than in 1989, higher unemployment and nearly three times as many people on social assistance as 10 years ago.

The experience of the past decade shows that overspending, high taxes and deficit financing do not create lasting jobs. In fact, they are barriers to job creation.

Over the past decade, previous governments financed some of their overspending by raising taxes. They raised taxes 65 times during those 10 years. Ontario's personal income tax rates are now among the highest in North America.

But these high taxes were not enough to cover government overspending. And so previous governments borrowed to fill the gap.

In the past 10 years our provincial debt has almost tripled. Soon it will exceed $100 billion. This year we will pay close to $9 billion in interest costs alone to service that debt. That is more than the province spends on all hospitals across the province of Ontario. It is more than we spend on all levels of education in the province of Ontario. In fact, it represents the entire expenditure of government in the province of Ontario in 1975.

Having to pay this much debt is crippling today and the interest is unsustainable tomorrow.

Right now, our interest bill alone translates into almost $800 a year from each of us in the province -- every man, woman and child. If interest continues to grow at the rate of the past five years, it will cost each of us about $1,700 a year by the end of this decade, and that would translate into $20 billion a year in interest costs alone.

We cannot allow that to happen. If Ontarians had to pay $20 billion a year in interest costs alone, we could not possibly afford to educate our young people, take care of the sick and elderly and protect our communities.

Six provinces have brought their interest costs under control by balancing their budgets this year, but not the province of Ontario.

The only way to stop the growth of interest costs is to stop government overspending.

To do so means rethinking which services government should provide and how it should provide them. We need to focus government spending on the services we value most. We need to restructure government and its agencies so that services provide better value for every tax dollar.

Making government more affordable and more efficient is not just good for our finances. It's good for jobs too.

I am releasing today an economic paper that provides the fiscal context of the coming year.

Ontario is emerging from the recession that took place in the first half of 1995. We now see signs of renewed economic growth. Exports are rising. Consumer spending has begin to increase.


Our projections for future years -- which are deliberately cautious, and in fact are lower than the consensus of other forecasters -- show that the Ontario economy will continue to strengthen. In real terms it is projected to grow by 2.1% in 1995, 2.3% in 1996 and 3.1% in 1997.

Inflation is projected to remain low, averaging around or just below 2%. Following a net increase of 72,000 jobs in 1995, employment is projected to rise by 81,000 jobs in 1996 and 100,000 jobs in 1997.

The economic outlook is prudent for planning purposes. But Ontarians deserve better.

For the past five years, our economy has not performed as well as those of the rest of Canada and the United States. While our export industries have expanded, household spending has been weak. Too many Ontarians are out of work. We have fewer people working today than in 1989.

Even Ontarians who are working have seen their standard of living fall. In real inflation-adjusted terms, the take-home pay of the average Ontario worker is lower today than it was in 1985. That is 10 years without a pay increase.

One of the major reasons why Ontarians are seeing less in their paycheques is the increase in Ontario's personal income tax rates. Ontario's income tax was hiked 11 times during the last decade. People who work every day to support their families have seen more and more of their hard-earned dollars go to pay higher and higher taxes.

Middle-income families, and those of modest incomes, have been especially hard hit by cuts in their take-home pay.

Ontarians deserve better. They deserve a plan that supports job creation. They deserve a plan that will stimulate the economy by leaving more money in the hands of hardworking, law-abiding, taxpaying Ontarians.

For too many years, the tax and regulatory environment in Ontario has frustrated job creation.

High personal income taxes have taken money out of consumers' pockets and have discouraged small businesses from investing and hiring.

Payroll taxes like the employer health tax and workers' compensation premiums have also worked against job creation. So have artificially high minimum wages, legislated job quotas and other government intrusions.

Uncompetitive tax rates have made it difficult for firms to attract and retain highly mobile, highly skilled workers who are key to competing successfully.

As a result, our entire economy has suffered. Despite a growing population, there are fewer Ontarians employed today than there were six years ago.

The Ontario economy can do much better, and if we set the right course, I believe it will.

Lower taxes, coupled with lower interest rates and continued low inflation, will return more dollars to Ontario consumers. Their spending and saving will provide a direct boost to private sector job creation.

Reducing the burden of government regulation and restoring the balance in labour-management relations will help businesses -- especially small businesses -- create jobs. Already our government has taken action, by repealing Bill 40, freezing average assessments for workers' compensation, introducing legislation to abolish the annual corporate filing fee, repealing job quotas, and freezing average Ontario Hydro rates for five years.

As promised in the throne speech, today we are launching a 12-month review of all regulations affecting businesses. Mr Frank Sheehan, the member for Lincoln, will lead this government initiative and will report directly to cabinet. By cutting red tape and eliminating any regulation of business that cannot be justified, the Red-Tape Review Commission will remove barriers to growth, promote economic prosperity, and create jobs.

By restructuring and streamlining government -- providing the services that Ontarians value most, at a more affordable cost -- we will end the job-killing effects of high deficits and high interest costs.

The first step towards a more affordable and efficient government is to have a realistic financial plan -- a plan Ontarians can understand and in which they can have confidence.

In July our government introduced the Ontario Financial Review Commission. I asked them to look at ways to restore confidence and credibility to the province's financial reporting and planning practices, which in my opinion have been confusing and sometimes unrealistic.

The commission's report offers a new vision of how government should operate. It says that government should stop focusing on process, and instead set its sights on constant improvement in performance.

As the commissioners noted, some of their recommendations will require time to implement, but I have already decided to act upon several of the commission's most important recommendations:

-- The commission said the province should adopt a single set of financial reporting standards for all of its budgetary reports and updates, by using the standards set out in the Public Sector Accounting and Auditing Board, PSAAB. I am doing so, effective today. I am ending the previous government's practice of keeping "two sets of books."

-- The commission said the government should adopt a prudent planning framework, using cautious forecasting, to be certain that deficit targets are met. The plan I am outlining today does exactly that.

-- The commission recommended that the government set three-year deficit targets. I agree -- and in fact, today I am going further than this by providing deficit targets for the next five years.

-- The commission said our budgeting should include a contingency fund to cushion against unforeseen economic circumstances. I will do so starting with the 1996 budget.

In taking these steps immediately, I want Ontarians to have confidence that their government's financial planning is open, realistic and credible. I will further address the commission's recommendations in the spring of next year.

As an additional step towards open and accountable government, I announced last week that we will require full public disclosure of salaries and benefits paid to senior employees in the public sector, starting with salaries for the 1995 calendar year. Taxpayers will have access to compensation data for each public sector employee who receives an annual salary of at least $100,000 in a calendar year. This includes employees of the civil service, hospitals, universities, colleges, school boards, municipalities and other government agencies.

On taking office we found that the former government had chosen not to secure the necessary legislative authority for several tax measures announced in 1993 and 1994, even though those measures were implemented and have been in place in some cases for up to two and a half years. They affect taxpayers, primarily corporations, who have been filing returns while expecting in good faith that government would introduce the appropriate legislation. This situation is not acceptable and must be corrected.

To resolve this, legislation is needed to authorize these measures that the previous government implemented without seeking the necessary legislative sanction.

Let me turn to our financial plan for the current fiscal year.

Last June 26, our government inherited spending that was out of control. On a modified cash accounting basis, we faced a potential deficit of $10.6 billion -- with an even higher outlook for annual deficits in the foreseeable future.

On July 21, we took immediate action to reduce spending by $1.9 billion in this fiscal year alone.

With these actions in place, our 1995-96 deficit remains on track at $8.7 billion on a cash accounting basis. That is $1.9 billion lower than the potential deficit we inherited five months ago.


Using the province's new accounting basis, the deficit target for 1995-96 is $9.3 billion. That again is $1.9 billion lower than the potential deficit we inherited, which was $11.2 billion on a PSAAB basis.

This new accounting recognizes a number of revenues and expenditures that are not new but that historically have not been shown as part of the province's budget -- for example, the expenses of certain crown corporations and agencies, the cost of pension liabilities as they accrue and the full cost of public debt interest incurred each year.

In addition, under the province's new accounting, this year's deficit will reflect certain investments made by former governments that have not yet been written off, and accrual adjustments such as provisions for loan losses from the Ontario student assistance program and the Ontario development corporations. It will also include any onetime costs incurred when programs are cancelled and any commitments to severance payments that are made this year. These items will be added to the planned deficit target of $9.3 billion once their amount has been determined.

By converting to the PSAAB financial reporting standard, we are giving Ontarians a fuller and more realistic picture of the financial problems that their government has been experiencing for many years. This is an essential first step forward towards dealing with our problems while protecting Ontario's taxpayers.

The best taxpayer protection is a balanced budget.

Having taken these first major steps to put the province's financial reporting in order, I am setting out today a balanced budget plan for Ontario.

This plan is based on deficit reduction targets for the next five years as provided for in the Common Sense Revolution document.

Even though our reported deficit this year will be $600 million higher under our new accounting system, we have not changed our plan to balance the budget and we have not changed the balanced budget targets that will get us there. We said we would do it, and we are doing it.

With this plan in place, Ontario will have a balanced budget in five years. Balancing the budget will not be easy, but it is essential.

It will help get Ontario's public debt interest costs under control.

It will protect taxpayers from never-ending tax increases.

On behalf of all taxpayers, let me say clearly: Ontarians have had enough of high personal income taxes.

That's true for Ontario's income taxes and it's true for the federal government's as well. It is time for both levels of government to reduce the burden of personal income taxes and help the economy create more jobs.

Balancing the budget means we must rethink how governments and government agencies at all levels do business.

Since taking office, my colleagues and I have begun a thorough review of every area of government spending. That means reviewing literally hundreds of government spending programs.

For every program, we are asking, is it in the public interest? Does it help or hinder job creation? Is it fair and equitable? Is it well managed?

We have identified areas where government can spend less through smarter management. We have identified areas where there is simply no reason for government to be spending at all.

Governments have tried to be all things to all people. For example, should the province of Ontario have signed an agreement in June of this year to provide a $5.5-million research grant to the Ontario Federation of Labour? To serve people properly, government must focus on its priorities.

We have not yet finished our review. But we have already agreed on the following new measures to cut government spending by focusing on what is important to Ontarians.

We will begin by putting our own house in order. The government will ask the Legislature to approve funding reductions averaging at least 20% next year for the offices of the Legislative Assembly. This measure will save at least $27 million annually.

We are setting cost reduction goals that will aim to reduce the cost of internal government administration by 33% by the end of 1997-98, saving $300 million a year. Over the next two years, we will cut costs further in every ministry through better management and reduced overlap and duplication. For example:

-- Almost every one of the government's 18 ministries has its own financial data system, its own information technology system, and its own personnel database. We will determine how to consolidate these system to reduce duplication and save taxpayers money.

-- We will create partnerships with private businesses, and open our administrative operations to outside competition, where this can save taxpayers money, while protecting privacy and the public interest.

The government has set a target of cutting other internal spending by an average of 33% to achieve an annual saving of $1.1 billion by the end of 1997-98.

We will do so by restructuring, closing some operations and making other operations more efficient. Some immediate examples:

-- Funding for land registry offices will be cut to reflect reduced workloads, saving $2 million next year and an additional $2 million in 1997-98.

-- Overhead costs in the Ministry of Economic Development, Trade and Tourism will be cut by $10 million annually as business assistance programs are terminated.

-- The Ministry of Finance will develop a comprehensive plan to reduce abuse of the tax system and improve overall tax compliance. Taxpayers who abide by the law should not subsidize those who break the law. As a first step, 50 positions from within the ministry will be reallocated to tax auditing.

As promised in the Common Sense Revolution, the government will permanently cut $230 million in grants and loans to business in 1996-97. To help achieve these savings, over 30 programs across six ministries will be ended. The government will take immediate steps to phase down the operations of the Ontario development corporations in respect of new loans and loan guarantees.

The government will support business by providing a positive business climate with competitive taxes, responsible fiscal management, and fewer barriers to investment and growth.

The government has set a target of reducing funding for agencies, boards and commissions by 28%, to achieve an annual saving of $220 million a year by the end of 1997-98. To date, we have made the following decisions:

-- The operating subsidy for the Ontario Northland Transportation Commission will be reduced by $6 million next year and an additional $4 million in 1997-98.

-- Funding for the Ontario Arts Council will be reduced in 1996-97 by 19% from current levels.

-- Funding for the Ontario Science Centre, Science North, the Royal Ontario Museum, the Art Gallery of Ontario, the McMichael Canadian Art Collection and the Royal Botanical Gardens will be reduced from current levels by an average of 7% next year.

-- Funding for the government-funded radio station CJRT-FM will be eliminated next year, saving over $1 million.

-- Funding for the Ontario Energy Board, the Niagara Escarpment Commission, the Environmental Appeal Board and the Environmental Compensation Corp will be reduced by an average of 15% next year, saving an additional $1 million.


As promised in the throne speech, the Management Board of Cabinet will undertake a detailed review of agencies, boards and commissions. Mr Bob Wood, the parliamentary assistant to the Chair of Management Board, will lead this initiative.

We have set a goal of cutting total funding for government grants by 28% over the next two years, saving $1.4 billion annually by the end of 1997-98. Already we have decided on the following reductions:

-- The Jobs Ontario Community Action program will be terminated, saving $82 million next year and $88 million in 1997-98. This program was badly designed, its objectives were unclear, and oversight and cost-control requirements were inadequate. The Provincial Auditor has also criticized this program extensively in his recent report.

-- An array of environmental and energy grants will be eliminated, saving $24 million next year.

-- Capital subsidies for GO Transit will be reduced by $20 million annually.

-- Grants to municipal airports will be reduced by $4 million next year and an additional $5 million in 1997-98.

-- Grants provided by the Ministry of Citizenship, Culture and Recreation to cultural organizations, including arts and heritage groups, local festivals, library agencies and funding for community information centres, will be reduced or eliminated to achieve an average saving of 18% from their current levels. This measure will save $5 million next year.

-- Grants for sports and recreation groups and associations will be reduced by an average of 15% from current levels, saving $3 million annually, beginning in 1996-97.

The actions I have outlined, coupled with ongoing savings from measures announced in July and further decisions to be taken during the estimates process, will mean significant reductions in government spending over the next two years. But they are not enough.

Almost 70% of the government's total spending is transferred to agencies and individuals outside of government, including municipalities, school boards, universities, colleges, hospitals and many smaller agencies.


The Speaker: Order. Please remove the stranger.

Hon Mr Eves: Ontarians will be aware that the federal government's support for some of the largest transfer programs is declining. Over the next two years, federal contributions to Ontario for health, higher education and social services will decline by $2.2 billion from this year's level.

In recent weeks I have met with leaders from our major transfer partners. They impressed on me the need for action. They told me that, just as the government is restructuring internally, their institutions are restructuring as well, focusing on the services that Ontarians value most and finding ways to provide those services more affordably. They told me they need additional tools to assist them in their restructuring efforts.

To help them prepare, today we are giving our transfer partners early notice of transfer levels for the 1996-97 fiscal year. We're also giving them additional flexibility to introduce innovative solutions that will help them to meet the challenge.

In response to requests from groups representing our major transfer partners, legislation is required to guide interest arbitration awards. These guidelines are intended to ensure that arbitrated wage settlements are in step with the province's fiscal situation and our transfer partners' ability to pay.

Municipalities have asked for greater flexibility to set priorities and to restructure.

-- To assist them, we will convert three existing programs into a single block fund: the Ontario municipal support program. This new arrangement will free municipalities to pursue innovation by eliminating the restrictions of current programs.

-- They have also asked the province for flexibility to help reduce overlap and duplication among municipalities and between upper- and lower-tier local governments. We will give them that flexibility.

-- They have asked the province to reduce barriers that prevent them from offering services on a cost-recovery basis. We will reduce those barriers.

Funding for the Ontario municipal support program will total $1 billion in 1996-97. This is a reduction of $290 million from current levels, equal to 2% of the municipalities' current total revenues of approximately $16.8 billion. The distribution of the block grant will be designed to make spending reductions fair for municipalities.

Mr Mike Colle (Oakwood): Tell the truth: 44%.

The Speaker: The member for Oakwood is out of order.

Hon Mr Eves: The government believes that, by using the tools and flexibility asked for, municipalities can adjust to these reductions by restructuring their operations, and without increasing local taxes.

In 1997-98, the funding for the Ontario municipal support program will total $736 million. That is a further reduction of $262 million, equivalent to another 2% of municipalities' current spending.

Grants for municipal recycling will be phased out over two years. Operating grants to municipal public libraries will be reduced by $6 million next year and an additional $6 million in 1997-98.

Operating funding for conservation authorities will be reduced from $18 million this year to $10 million in 1997-98, and capital grants will be phased out.

Provincial support for the operation of municipal transit will be reduced from $242 million this year to $218 million next year. Funding of $194 million will be provided in 1997-98. Funding to municipalities for specialized transit services for people with disabilities will be maintained at current levels.

These measures create the opportunity for local governments to become more streamlined, more autonomous, more accountable to the local ratepayer, and less expensive. Ontarians expect to see their local governments work better and cost less.

Our government is committed to ensuring that a larger share of the education dollar goes to the classroom, preparing Ontario's students for the future.

Our school system is well funded. In fact, Ontario's school system cost 10% more per pupil than the average of the other provinces in Canada in the fiscal year 1994-95. That is an additional $1.3 billion a year in extra spending. But even with this level of extra spending, Ontarians do not have the school system they want:

-- Our schools should be providing students with greater equality of opportunity, through funding that is shared fairly across the province.

-- Parents should have more effective opportunities to become involved in their children's education, through local school councils.

-- Parents should be able to see what their children are learning, through tests that measure results against clear standards.

-- The importance of good teaching should be recognized throughout the school system.

-- And our schools ought to be making more effective use of new technologies to educate students better and to manage more productively.

Over the coming year, the Minister of Education and Training will work with the education community to make the school system more effective, more equitable, more accountable and less expensive.

-- We will ask school boards to take every reasonable step to cut costs outside the classroom. These costs now account for at least 30 cents of every education dollar spent.

-- We will work with school boards, teachers and parents to improve productivity in the schools.

-- We will continue to work with the education community on a new financing formula that will distribute school funding more equitably.


As set out in the Common Sense Revolution, next year we will reduce transfers to school boards by $400 million. This figure is equal to 3% of the $13.8-billion total cost of operating Ontario's schools.

The Ministry of Education and Training will ensure that this reduction is equitably achieved. The government fully expects boards to meet this reduction by cutting costs outside the classroom, and without increasing the tax burden on local ratepayers.

Reductions in transfers to school boards for 1997-98 will be announced as early as possible next year.

In 1996-97, transfers to universities will be $1.5 billion, a reduction of $280 million. Transfers to colleges will be $689 million, a reduction of $120 million. The total reduction for provincial funding for post-secondary education will be $400 million -- equivalent to 7% of total expenditures by colleges and universities in Ontario.

Tuition fees for colleges will be able to be increased by up to 15% and universities by up to 10%. University tuition will be further deregulated by allowing universities the discretion to increase fees by an additional 10%.

Interjection: That's 25%.

Hon Mr Eves: It isn't 25%, and it's no wonder they're over there.

The ministry will work with colleges and universities to deregulate foreign student tuition fees as quickly as possible. Institutions will be required to set aside 10% of any new revenues from tuition increases for the purposes of providing assistance to students in financial need. I suppose they're opposed to that too.

As promised in the Common Sense Revolution document, the government is now pursuing a review of the current student assistance program. Ontario will seek the federal government's assistance to develop a student aid plan in which repayment reflects income after graduation, a measure long overdue.

The minister will release a discussion paper in the new year on future goals for Ontario's colleges and universities. The paper will address issues such as student and provincial shares of post-secondary funding, accessibility, and program rationalization and cooperation. A four- to six-month consultation process will be undertaken to assist in developing a new framework for government policy on post-secondary education. The minister will be providing further details shortly.

Despite the need to reduce overall spending, our government remains committed to protecting our health care budget.

This is not a commitment to maintain the status quo. We need to find savings in some areas in order to meet needs in other areas, for example, to provide new technologies, to reduce waiting lists and to meet the needs of an aging population.

By acting to reduce spending on some health programs and reinvest in others, we will ensure that total health care spending at the end of our term of office is protected at no less than $17.4 billion, the same level as when the Common Sense document was published. That was our commitment, and we are living up to it.

Already our government is taking steps to reinvest health dollars where they are needed most:

-- An additional $25 million is being reinvested in kidney dialysis services.

-- $15.5 million is being reinvested in expanding emergency paramedic services, providing training to almost 400 paramedics across the province.

-- OHIP coverage for out-of-country emergency services has been restored under the Canada Health Act.

-- We are planning to reinvest additional funds to permit patients with acquired brain injuries to be treated here in Ontario rather than in the United States, as has been the past practice.

-- Extra funding will be reinvested to expand immunization programs. The Minister of Health will provide further details.

In the throne speech, we identified other priority areas for reinvestment. We need to improve access to care for northern and rural Ontarians who face the reduction or loss of hospital emergency room coverage. We have to do more to coordinate, streamline and better integrate the delivery of cancer care services.

We have to make these reinvestments possible. We must begin by finding additional savings in the existing health care budget. Institutions must restructure and programs must be redesigned to provide better value.

When it comes to restructuring, Ontario's hospitals have been leading by example. They are treating more patients each year. They are redirecting more dollars to front-line patient care and they are providing the type of care that is most appropriate to each patient.

Hospitals must continue to restructure. The former government closed 6,700 acute-care beds over the past five years. That is the equivalent of 30 medium-sized hospitals, but of course 30 medium-sized hospitals were not closed. That has left a hospital system that is in many ways inefficient and hard to manage.

Like all of Ontario's public institutions, hospitals must continue to make improvements in providing services efficiently, effectively and economically.

To have the flexibility to meet priority health care needs, the government will redirect funds from hospital transfer payments. We will provide hospitals with a three-year funding plan, as they asked, so they can plan for the future with certainty. We will give them the tools they have asked for in order to adapt.

Funding in 1996-97 will be constrained by $365 million -- equal to about 4% of the hospitals' total revenues of approximately $8.5 billion. The amount of the constraint will increase by $435 million in 1997-98 and an additional $507 million in 1998-99.

To assist hospitals to restructure further, the Minister of Health will establish a Health Services Restructuring Commission to manage and accelerate the implementation of hospital restructuring regionally and locally.

Hospitals will be given more flexibility to generate revenues, while continuing to comply fully with the Canada Health Act.

To reduce hospital administration costs, the Ministry of Health will simplify approval processes.

The government will also take steps to address the long-standing problems with the delivery of physicians' services. We will ensure a fair distribution of doctors between urban and rural areas, and we will weed out fraud in the health care insurance plan. In addition, taxpayers will no longer be asked to pay for doctors' malpractice insurance, saving $40 million a year. The national physician malpractice insurance plan has a surplus in current account of approximately $1 billion.

The government will take steps to control the cost of the Ontario drug benefit plan, which has more than tripled in the past 10 years and now stands at $1.2 billion a year. Effective June 1, 1996, people receiving drug benefits will be asked to share the cost, as they do now in other provinces. Social assistance recipients and seniors receiving guaranteed income supplements will be asked to make a copayment of $2 per prescription.


Mrs Elinor Caplan (Oriole): That's outrageous. What was it you promised? No user fees.

The Speaker: The member for Oriole is out of order.

Hon Mr Eves: Beneficiaries of the Ontario drug benefit plan with individual incomes exceeding $16,000, or with family incomes exceeding $24,000, will be asked to pay a deductible of $100 per year and to pay the pharmacist's dispensing fee. These measures will save $225 million annually.

Mr Dominic Agostino (Hamilton East): Isn't that a user fee, Mike? I guess you'll be resigning tomorrow.

The Speaker: The member for Hamilton East.

Hon Mr Eves: Our government has a responsibility to work with public institutions to assist them in becoming more efficient. We are living up to that responsibility.

At the same time, I ask Ontarians to consider what they can do directly to support health care, community services, education and cultural institutions in their communities. Each of us has an opportunity to make a difference by volunteering our time, our skills, our financial support. Together, Ontarians can give back to their communities far more than the government can provide alone.

In response to a number of requests, I will introduce legislation to make it easier for certain public institutions to solicit major charitable donations.

Public hospitals, public libraries, the Ontario Cancer Treatment and Research Foundation, the Ontario Arts Council, the Royal Ontario Museum, the Art Gallery of Ontario, the Ontario Science Centre and the Royal Botanical Gardens will be permitted to establish crown foundations.

Universities, colleges, the Ontario Heritage Foundation, the Trillium Foundation, Science North and the McMichael Canadian Art Collection will continue to have the right to receive gifts to the crown, as they do at present.

The actions announced in this statement, coupled with the permanent savings from measures announced on July 21, will achieve total savings of approximately $4.5 billion to $5.5 billion in the fiscal year 1996-97. Specific actions will be decided on during this year's review of ministry spending estimates to fully achieve these savings.

The experience gained in Windsor demonstrates that casino development can create jobs and provide a significant boost to the local community.

The government remains committed to holding a referendum in which the people of Ontario will decide on the expansion of casino gambling in the province.

To this end, we will ask a committee of the Legislative Assembly to examine options for holding referenda in Ontario. The first opportunity to hold a referendum in conjunction with an existing province-wide vote would be the 1997 local government elections.

In the meantime, the government will give Ontarians a further opportunity to evaluate casino development by allowing casino development in Niagara Falls. This initiative will test casino development in a world-renowned tourism destination that annually attracts more than 10 million visitors, most of them international.

Niagara Falls is the only community in Ontario where a referendum on the casino question has already been held, with 63% of area residents voting in favour of casino development within their municipality.

This new casino development is expected to create jobs in the Niagara region, as it has in Windsor, and to create $375 million annually in provincial revenues.

With the Niagara Falls development in place, Ontarians will have the information on the impact of casinos in three different communities by the time a referendum is held.

The government remains committed to exploring the sale and privatization of government assets, where the private sector can manage these assets more efficiently and provide better service to the public. In keeping with this commitment, the government will soon announce a process for privatization, ensuring that initiatives meet the strictest criteria for protecting the public interest, and adhering to rigorous conflict-of-interest guidelines.

The plan I have outlined today is an essential part of the government's program for renewing Ontario, restoring prosperity, and creating jobs. It begins the task of freeing Ontarians from the burden of rising government interest costs.

It paves the way for an economy with less red tape and lower taxes -- where businesses can invest to create new jobs.

It faces up to the challenge of renewing Ontario's public services -- working with our major transfer partners to focus on the services that Ontarians value most and to deliver those services more efficiently.

Most important, after a decade when Ontario has lost its way, the plan I am setting out today will put Ontario back on the road towards a more prosperous and secure society for everyone.

It is possible to get Ontario growing and creating jobs again -- if we have a plan and stick to it.

Moving towards that goal will involve many changes to Ontarians. Change can have a human cost -- our government understands that.

But we also understand the human costs of not changing, as previous governments have done. There is no easy solution. There is no time for delay.

For all of us who care about the social fabric of Ontario, who want to see more jobs for Ontarians, and who seek a better future for our children, the state of the province's finances must simply be addressed.

Ontarians understand that need. They understand. They have the will. And they can be confident that as we work together to carry out our plan, we are on the way to making Ontario once again a province of opportunity.

The Speaker: This House stands adjourned until 10 am tomorrow morning.

The House adjourned at 1658.