36th Parliament, 1st Session

L034a - Mon 4 Dec 1995 / Lun 4 Déc 1995









































The House met at 1332.




Mrs Elinor Caplan (Oriole): As Jim Wilson prepares to give himself sweeping, absolute powers over health care in Ontario, powers which would allow him to singlehandedly close any hospital in the province with the stroke of a pen, without any input whatever, it's only fair that we examine Jim Wilson's record to see if he can be entrusted with this enormous and absolute power.

Did Jim Wilson have the strength to remind Mike Harris of the Conservatives' promise not to cut a single penny from health care? No. Did Jim Wilson have the courage to tell Mike Harris that a further $1.3 billion in health cuts will jeopardize lives? No. Did Jim Wilson have the influence in cabinet to stop the $225 million in new user fees that seniors and the poor will be forced to pay when they get sick? No. Did Jim Wilson have the character to explain to Mike Harris that promises should be kept, not broken at the first opportunity? No.

Should Jim Wilson or any individual get the unprecedented new powers to singlehandedly, with the stroke of a pen, without any public input whatsoever, close down a hospital or an independent health facility? No. Not only should no one ever have that power, but based on his actions to date, Jim Wilson, Mike Harris's health care hatchet man, is absolutely the last person who should be given absolute power.


Mr Tony Martin (Sault Ste Marie): I was in Kitchener-Waterloo on Friday meeting with some ordinary folks -- you know, the type who live and work in communities across this wonderful province. I met with the type of people who pay rent or hold mortgages, buy groceries and clothes and invest in a car, the men and women of Ontario who keep the economy going. And do you know what they're telling me?

They said this government does not know what it's doing. This government has no idea of the impact of the decisions it has made and will make on people and communities like Kitchener-Waterloo. The Common Sense Revolution makes no sense to them. It was and is not well-thought-out. They are feeling at first hand the sad truth that it was nothing more than an election gimmick.

In July they took away the money out of the pockets of the poor, last Wednesday they took away their services, and soon you will lay off the people who service and support them. At first it was the poor. Now it is the lower middle class and seniors. Soon it will be everybody.

The Common Sense Revolution is an unmitigated disaster, and the omnibus bill that was delivered to us here last week is a serious abuse of power.


Mr Toni Skarica (Wentworth North): I rise today to mark the first anniversary of the proclamation of the Tobacco Control Act and to congratulate all school boards across Ontario for their effective implementation of the legislation banning smoking on school property.

Smoking is the most important cause of preventable illness, disability and premature death in Canada. Each year more than 13,000 Ontarians die from tobacco use.

In our schools, we educate our youth about the dangers of smoking. By banning smoking on school property, the Tobacco Control Act ensures we are sending a consistent and unequivocal message: Smoking is an addiction that kills and it will not be tolerated at school.

If an individual reaches the age of 19 and he or she is still a non-smoker, it is very unlikely that individual will ever start to smoke. By banning smoking at school, we are helping our youth get to 19 smoke-free.

We still face a considerable challenge. Smoking rates are going up in our youth, most notably among females aged 12 to 18. We need to seize every opportunity we can to reinforce the message to youth: Don't start smoking, and if you do smoke, quit.

The school boards of this province have accepted this challenge and are making a difference in the fight against cancer. As parliamentary assistant for Education and Training and as a parent, I congratulate them.


Mr Richard Patten (Ottawa Centre): My speech today is dedicated to the Tory backbenchers. Determined to emphasize their view of the Tory reign as a full-fledged revolution, members of the Mike Harris government acted like true revolutionaries last Wednesday and staged a coup d'état on the notions of responsible government and, indeed, participatory democracy.

Bill 26, which was introduced into the Legislature under a cloak of secrecy, sneakily, is all about taking power out of the hands of our communities, established organizations and cherished institutions and placing that power in the hands of a select few in the Tory cabinet.

But Bill 26 goes further than that. It takes power out of the hands of our elected officials, and by doing so it renders the voice of the public powerless.

With its majority, the Tory government will ultimately be able to pass Bill 26, but one has to wonder whether the majority of the Tory members have themselves considered the extent to which this bill renders them mere decorations and powerless instruments of an agenda driven by two individuals, Eves and Harris, as opposed to representatives of their constituents serving to promote and to defend the interests of the electorate.

I ask the Tory backbenchers if they would think about that, that they indeed will have far less power under this kind of a move to introduce Bill 26.


Mr Tony Silipo (Dovercourt): On Friday of last week I was in Ottawa, and I met with a number of people who talked to me about what the Harris revolution means for them.

I heard such things as students in elementary schools being asked to pay a $40 fee for classroom supplies. I heard about people losing their day care spaces and as a result having to give up some of their jobs. I heard about women who had been victims of abuse, as a result of the social services cuts not being able to afford a telephone line any more, and as a result of that therefore being even more isolated and more prone to abuse than they were before.

I heard story after story about the kinds of impacts, the kinds of effects that this Harris government is having on ordinary people right across this province, and certainly in the Ottawa-Carleton area, and when I talked to them about the focus this government is putting on the tax cuts, they could not understand the logic. They could not understand why a government, why this Harris government, is so intent, for the sake of providing tax cuts to the wealthiest citizens in this province, to forsake some of the many basic services we've built up in this province over decades.

They said to me quite clearly that the Common Sense Revolution makes no sense to them, that this government has gone too far too fast, and that it is not doing the thing that is needed for the people of this province.



Mr David Tilson (Dufferin-Peel): This weekend one of the finest writers Canada has ever known, Robertson Davies, passed away. Undoubtedly we have lost a literary figure who has no equal. Since Robertson Davies first made his mark on Canadian letters more than 50 years ago, his pen has defined this country and its citizens with clarity, endless imagination and undeniable love. Robertson Davies will be remembered for his vast contribution to the Canadian arts as an actor, playwright and of course as an author.

Born in Thamesville, Professor Davies excelled in a number of careers including editor and publisher of the Kingston Whig-Standard and occasional actor before accepting the position of master to Massey College at the University of Toronto. His books were recognized with a Nobel Prize nomination, the Stephen Leacock Award for Humour and a Governor General's Award for fiction.

Yet none of these formal tributes can capture the greatness and humanity of the man. I know many people waited anxiously for Robertson Davies's next novel to take them on a new adventure, to a new wonder.

On behalf of the government, I would like to offer my condolences to Robertson Davies's wife and family. His family has lost a husband, a father and a grandfather. All of Canada has lost a statesman and scholar.


Mr Mike Colle (Oakwood): Never before has this Legislature seen a government so arrogant. Never before has this Legislature seen a government so dictatorial. Never before has this Legislature seen a government break major election promises so quickly. And never before has a government been so thirsty for unilateral, dictatorial power that it has locked out the public and the elected members of this Legislature from debating such an important bill.

Bill 26 gives the Minister of Health dictatorial power to close down any hospital in this province with the stroke of his pen. Bill 26 gives the Minister of Health dictatorial power to close down any hospital without public consultation. Bill 26 gives the cabinet the dictatorial power to ignore their backbenchers, ignore the opposition and ignore the public.

Bill 26 is a disgrace. Bill 26 is a plan to end democracy in Ontario as we know it. Governors in the United States don't have the powers Mike Harris will get as a result of this bill.

There is a role for the Legislature. There is a role for backbenchers. There is a role for the opposition. And I hope there still is a role for the public in this Legislature.


Mr Gilles Bisson (Cochrane South): This last weekend, like most members here, I had an opportunity to go back home to my riding and to speak to many, many people throughout the riding of Cochrane South, from Timmins to Iroquois Falls to Matheson. One thing that everybody was in agreement on was that we had to do something in order to try to deal with this government -- people back in Cochrane South by droves, I would say; in fact, I have never seen in my history, in my time as a member, people so opposed to what a government is doing.

People are concerned, first of all, that this government is trying to stifle the role of the opposition, and second of all, more importantly, is trying to stifle the role of the general public in regard to being able to exercise its right through democratic processes.

I have to say that the people of Cochrane South are no different than anybody else when it comes to how they look at this government, and they say to this government, "We understand that you have the right to govern, but we also understand that you have a responsibility to be able to govern for the people of Ontario through a democratic process, and the people of Cochrane South would like to see a return to democracy in the province of Ontario instead of seeing the Mike Harris dictatorship that is now unfolding."

One of the things I would also like to point out is that the cuts that are happening throughout this province are yet to be felt in full force. But I can tell you that in the community of Matheson, I was shocked to hear that the only government office in the municipality of Matheson, being the Ag and Food office, was being closed down -- one person, one office that services a huge geographic area was being shut down. I ask what the common sense is in doing such a stupid move. Quite frankly, I wish this government would wake up and smell the coffee.

Mr David Tilson (Dufferin-Peel): In response to some of the comments that were made today, I'd like to summarize an editorial that was given by the Toronto Sun over this past weekend.

"Premier Mike Harris and the Conservatives didn't win the last Ontario election in a sneak attack...they won it by advocating a program of spending restraint and tax cuts that they released to the public more than a year before the election -- a program that was widely ridiculed by the Liberals and the NDP before they stole most of what was in it....

"It used to be that politicians in Ontario got into trouble for saying one thing in the election and then doing another when in office.

"Now they get yelled at for doing what they said they would do.

"Sure you can quibble over details -- whether the $1.3 billion in cuts to health care announced in their economic statement last week constitutes a breaking of the Tory promise not to cut `a penny' of health care funding.

"But the reality is that as long as the Tories maintain overall health funding at $17.4 billion annually, they will have kept their pledge.

"The fact remains that in their first five months in office, the Tories have fulfilled more key election promises than the previous NDP government did in five years. And it's clear the name-calling isn't having any effect on the two men at the centre of the storm....

"It's clear the name-calling by the opposition and some media haven't fazed" the Premier of this province.

"Bottom line? This leader's not for turning.

"And instead of calling him names, Bob Rae and Lyn McLeod ought to reflect on the fact that if they had believed in their own programs" --

The Speaker (Hon Allan K. McLean): Order.


The Speaker (Hon Allan K. McLean): If I could have members' attention, I'd like to introduce a former member in the gallery today, Mr Ross McClellan from Bellwoods.



Hon Jim Wilson (Minister of Health): As part of our government's commitment to meeting the medical needs of northern and rural communities throughout Ontario, I'm announcing today an initiative to ensure access to emergency physician services 24 hours a day.

To meet this commitment, we are reinvesting savings achieved through efficiencies to this crucial front-line service. This annual funding will ensure that physicians working in these communities are paid $70 an hour for working nights, weekends and holidays in hospital emergency departments.

We've been listening to local communities, local hospitals, physicians and the people they serve, and we've been listening to the Ontario Hospital Association, the Ontario Medical Association and the association representing interns and residents.

Currently, a growing number of physicians in northern and rural communities are working less or not at all during off-hour shifts, leaving patients, hospitals and communities feeling anxious.

People in the community have been feeling more and more uneasy with each passing week, wondering whether emergency medical care will be there for them when they need it.

Hospitals have been scrambling to make sure enough physicians are available for emergency care. This has often meant dipping into their operating budgets to top up pay for physicians -- money that is urgently needed for other services in the hospital.


The Speaker (Hon Allan K. McLean): Order, the member for Hamilton East.

Hon Mr Wilson: Or hospitals are limiting the hours the emergency department is open.

The reason for this uncertainty is simple: The fee-for-service system does not adequately ensure that emergency health services are available for communities.

Beginning in mid-January, communities such as Alliston, Bancroft, Exeter, Haliburton, Marathon and Southampton, to name just a few, will be assured of having emergency medical services 24 hours a day.

As promised, our government is committed to all communities, large or small, having access to the medical care they need. I'm pleased to be reinvesting savings found through efficiencies to improve access to emergency services.

Mr Peter Kormos (Welland-Thorold): Another promise.

The Speaker: The member for Welland-Thorold is out of order.


Hon Mr Wilson: The dollars we have invested today will help ensure that 67 Ontario communities have adequate access to emergency physician services. The $70-an-hour fee is based on a recommendation made by Graham Scott in his report on the medical coverage of small-hospital emergency departments.

This represents a significant reinvestment of health care dollars. We're making sure precious health care dollars are going where they are needed most. We will be announcing in the very near future details of further incentives to attract and retain physicians in small and rural communities.

We want to work with physicians to develop these incentives. The way to accomplish this is through real discussion, not media ad campaigns that only serve to create unnecessary fear.

We are also taking steps to increase the availability of alternative funding arrangements in order to improve distribution of physicians, control costs and improve access to medical services across the province, and we are continuing to support the development of decentralized medical education programs and professional supports for rural practice such as locums and continuing medical education. What will evolve will be one of the most generous packages of financial incentives and training initiatives in this province's history.

We are ensuring, as a government, that the people in northern and rural communities have access to emergency medical services that they pay for through their taxes, and that those services are there when they need them. This government is moving on commitments we made in the campaign and we're very proud of this reinvestment.

Mrs Elinor Caplan (Oriole): This is a statement which is long overdue. The minister knows that the Scott task force report was delivered to the ministry in March 1995. It was there when he arrived in June 1995. He could have made this statement in July, in August, in September, in October or in November. Deliberately, in my view, he waited until December, until after the tabling of the most anti-democratic, dictatorial and absolute powers of Bill 26. He did this, in my view, to try and deflect criticism from this bill.

I can tell you, notwithstanding the fact that the people of small communities who depend on those emergency services will be pleased to hear that the minister has finally gotten around to doing something that he could have done within the first days in office, the fact that it has taken him this long is something they are very angry and frustrated about.

However, I can tell you that at the Ontario Hospital Association conference, the minister proudly said to them that he had found the money. What he didn't tell them was that he was going to be cutting hospital budgets by $1.3 billion. He neglected to tell them that. He neglected to tell them that he was giving himself the absolute powers in Bill 26 to close their hospitals, to order hospital boards to do whatever he says they should do. That he neglected to tell them. But he did mention that he would be moving to implement the Scott task force report.

This Scott task force report will, when implemented -- and I hope the minister is committed to implementing it immediately -- stop the kind of tragedies we saw in Alliston and the recent inquest as a result of that. It will stop the fact that people in small communities have been without access to emergency services when they need them.

One of the things we all realize -- that is, the Liberal caucus and myself as a former Health minister -- is that probably the most important service to anyone in this province is access to emergency services when they need them. The fact that the minister allowed this situation to go on for almost six months after he arrived in the office is nothing short of criminal.

He said with a straight face that he was listening to the OHA and the OMA and to the interns and residents represented by PAIRO. I say he said it with a straight face, but certainly he should have been blushing, because while everyone is pleased to see this plan implemented, he certainly has not been listening to the Ontario Medical Association, the Ontario Hospital Association or PAIRO, the interns and residents. In fact, my understanding is that not only is he not listening but he is shutting them out, and Bill 26 proves that.

One of the things he is doing is suggesting that he wants to work with physicians and others to develop incentive programs and to have real discussions, not media ad campaigns. Yet I know that on day one of negotiations with the Ontario Medical Association, he directed his negotiators to inform them that he was not interested in negotiating, that in fact he was not interested in a solution and that he intended to bring in this bill with all of its powers -- on day one.

This bill is not only unprecedented in its power, but it is absolute. Bill 26 gives the minister absolute power to tell pharmacists what he will pay them, tell doctors what they will receive from him, where they can practise, where they can have access to hospitals. It says to independent health facilities not only what they can deliver but what they will no longer be able to deliver. It says that nobody will be able to take him to court if they disagree with any of his decisions. It says what drugs will be put on the formulary and what drugs will arbitrarily be left off the formulary.

The implications of this bill are so sweeping and absolute, I would say to the members of the Conservative back bench, that today's important statement about emergency services, which could have been delivered months ago by your government, is merely a sham to cover the absolute and draconian powers of this bill. Don't let him get away with it, because you know that absolute powers corrupt absolutely.

Mr Bob Rae (York South): I'm sure a number of communities will welcome this announcement. Since we appointed Mr Scott as the person responsible for bringing forward a report, which he did, a very constructive report, I think it would be a little odd were I to turn around today and denounce the minister for having implemented part of the report which our government commissioned. As odd as my statements are from time to time, I've no intention of doing that.

However, I would simply say this to the minister: If he would perhaps reflect a little on the experience he's about to go through in terms of his dealings with the medical association and with other representatives of doctors, I think he's making a mistake if he thinks this further unilateral step on his part, outside the context of the negotiations with the OMA, is going to do any particular good in that regard.

When I hear on a day-to-day basis from the minister in terms of the announcements that are being made, we're certainly never entirely clear which particular part of the agenda is being pursued. I welcome this particular announcement; I think it makes sense. We clearly had and have a problem with respect to the provision of emergency services in a number of rural communities, and that's precisely why we asked Mr Scott to sit down and help us try to find a solution to the problem.

But my sense, in the briefings I had and my discussions with the deputy minister and others during that period, was that this was part of an ongoing, difficult transition in the relationship between the government and the medical association; that it was not always wise to try to solve these on a one-off basis and that what one should be striving for is an overall agreement with the medical association and with interns and residents in which one would try to see that some things can be done in a positive direction, and at the same time that certain concessions have to be worked out on the other side.

My observation -- and I know the minister will not agree with it -- would be that what he is doing is proceeding in two unilateral ways. Unilaterally, he's making this announcement. On the other hand, as my colleague the member for Oriole has pointed out, unilaterally he's also proceeding with Bill 26. Then at the same time he's doing what all people in government do, and that is to complain when the OMA takes out ads denouncing the course the government is set to take.


My observation would be that the government is going to have a very hard time getting out from the implications of Bill 26 in its discussions with the doctors. It may well be that it will have this in its armoury as it heads into discussions with the doctors, but the simple fact is that this legislation amounts to the greatest potential unilateral power being granted to a Minister of Health that we've ever seen in the province. No other minister has ever attempted to exercise such unilateral power in the system. No Minister of Health in the history of medicare has ever sought to create this kind of regime.

As a result of this, we'll be the only province that has no effective regulatory structure for drug prices. We'll be the only province in which the Minister of Health has as much unilateral power as is now being granted to this particular minister. I know of no parallel in any jurisdiction since the introduction of medicare in which would be granted to the Minister of Health alone, one individual alone, the power to make the kinds of decisions that he is accruing to himself.

I say to my colleagues, who are all of us here as private members, that you will have no more power than I will in influencing the Minister of Health with respect to this decision. I say to my colleague from St Andrew-St Patrick, who has been such an advocate on behalf of Women's College Hospital, that she's going to have as little influence as the rest of us, because one person alone is going to be able to make that decision.

There will be no review process. There will be no discussion process. There will be no way in which this can be changed. A decision will be done and will be made by one person and one person alone. This is the first time in the history of the province that the Minister of Health unilaterally can determine which hospitals will receive funding, which hospitals will not, which boards can be suspended, which boards can sit, and what is going to be done with the funds that have been amassed in every institution in this province on a not-for-profit basis.

It is unprecedented, and it cannot be permitted to proceed in the way in which it has been proposed by the government.

The Speaker (Hon Allan K. McLean): The leader of the third party has asked for unanimous consent to make a statement with regard to Mr Givens. Agreed? Agreed.


Mr Bob Rae (York South): Yesterday, the Attorney General and the member for Wilson Heights and I attended the funeral services for a former member of this House, Mr Phil Givens. I know that each of us wanted to say a word today in memory of Mr Givens.

Phil was an outstanding citizen of this province and an outstanding citizen of Canada. He was born on Augusta Avenue. He felt the pulse of the city of Toronto every day. He knew this city better than almost any one of us. He cared very deeply about the city. He cared very deeply about this province, about Canada. And as we heard yesterday, he was a lifelong Zionist and someone who cared greatly about the fate of the State of Israel, about its success and about its challenges, and was a constant advocate on its behalf.

When I first came to Toronto to live, Phil Givens was the mayor. As a young student, to go down to city hall, as I used to do from time to time, and watch the debate, the great debate at that time was over whether there should be public funding for a statue which we all know as the Archer. The mayor was an indefatigable advocate on behalf of the arts. Yet when he suffered a defeat in the resolution, he immediately turned around and raised private funds to ensure that the statue was standing.

He went on to lose the next election to Mr Dennison, another very distinguished citizen of the province, but Phil was not set back by that defeat. He went on to serve in the House of Commons. He was elected as a member of this Legislature in 1971, where he served until 1977. He was a very effective member of the opposition. He was an extraordinarily eloquent speaker. He was a very lively mind, and he was a going concern for I would think at least 20 hours a day. He was a man of remarkable energy and remarkable talents.

He then went on to become the chairman of the police board at the time; we saw a sign of the affection of many members of the Toronto police yesterday, in the numbers of them who came to the funeral. He then went on to become a very active member of the Zionist Federation, of which he was president, and continued to be an advocate on behalf of the community.

Phil Givens gave me the best advice I've ever received from another politician, and perhaps the best observation on our political fates, when he said to me, quite recently, actually, "In politics you don't always get what you deserve, but you always get what's coming to you." I have remembered these words on many different occasions and I would share them with other members of the House, because I can assure you that as secure as you may feel in your current positions, this is not a security which always lasts. Mr Givens's observation on the way these things change and move is perhaps worth reflecting on.

On behalf of our party, I would like to extend our condolences to members of Phil's family: his wife, Min, his children and his grandchildren. He was a lively, friendly, remarkably intelligent, sparkling presence in our political lives and in our personal lives for many, many years, and I'm sure all of us would want to pass on our best wishes to his family.

Hon Charles Harnick (Attorney General, minister responsible for native affairs): I too, on behalf of the government and on behalf of my party, wish to say a few words about the late Phil Givens.

As I was a young boy during the period when he was mayor, I came to realize that the city of Toronto, when Phil Givens became the mayor, became a place to be reckoned with on the world map. Phil Givens made this city a recognizable urban metropolis around the world and it was because of the nature and style and personality of this very man.

Mr Givens was a lawyer, he was an alderman, he was a councillor, he was chairman of the Metropolitan Toronto Police Commission, he was the mayor, he was a member of Parliament, he was a member of the provincial Parliament, and he was a great Zionist. He was recognized in each of these positions as a leader, as a person who would be a dominant force in every endeavour he was ever involved in.

It was interesting that at his funeral yesterday the coffin was draped in both the flag of Canada and the Israeli flag, a testimony to a man who touched people in so many places and in so many ways.

I can personally say that Phil Givens followed in a great tradition. He followed in a tradition set by the late Senator David Croll and by the late Allan Grossman, who was no stranger to this place. Phil Givens was yet another person in that line who in many respects made it possible for people like me and people like Mr Kwinter to be able to serve in public life. Phil Givens, to a very large extent, made that possible.

I was struck yesterday while at his funeral by the number of people who were there. There were a number of politicians past and present. There were a number of members from the police force, both past and present. But the vast majority of people who were there were constituents, ordinary people who depended on Phil Givens, whom Phil Givens represented during his years of service to this community and who were there quite simply because of their love for this man.

It was quite evident yesterday that Phil Givens touched the lives of everyone who came to pay their respects to him. I would like to convey personally and on behalf of the government and on behalf of our party my sincere condolences to his wife, Min, to his children and to his grandchildren, and also to his many, many friends who mourn the loss of a very close friend.


Mr Monte Kwinter (Wilson Heights): I too would like to pay tribute to Phil Givens, a friend, a mentor, a confidant, a colleague, a sailing buddy and a good friend of the family. Our lives were intertwined for about 40 years. One of his great passions was B'nai Brith.

It seemed that my lot in life was to follow in the various offices that he held several years behind him, but my steps really mirrored his steps. When I first considered running for this place, obviously I turned to the consummate politician Phil Givens to ask his advice and his counsel. He never, ever missed talking to me about what was happening in the political scene.

Phil's greatest recognition probably is his connection with the Archer, the piece of sculpture that graces the square in front of city hall. But what most people don't know is, it wasn't just that he went out and raised privately $100,000 for that Archer, but because of his passion, because of what he felt about culture and the idea that that should be there, Henry Moore made the largest contribution of his works to the Art Gallery of Ontario, and we, the citizens of Ontario, have been the beneficiaries of that collection, and to a large amount it is due to Phil Givens.

Again, as both our careers progressed, he found himself as the chairman of the police commission, I found myself as the chairman of the harbour commission. One of the great areas of, I would say, discontent is the fact that I had responsibility for two police forces on the waterfront and he of course had responsibility for the Metro police force. There was duplication. We certainly all, as politicians, know that there are concerns about duplication, but it couldn't be resolved.

Phil and I had belonged to the same yacht club for 25 years. I've seen his children grow. We have sailed together. We've spent countless hours together. One night he said, "Monte, let's get this thing resolved. Let's merge all of these things," and we were fortunate in that we had another friend in the person of Paul Godfrey, who was chairman of Metro, and between the three of us we did something that had defied politicians for 25 years. Today, we have a unified police force on the waterfront to the betterment of the sailors who are in the harbour and to the safety of people who use that facility. I think, again, it is a tribute to Phil Givens.

There are circumstances that happen, acts of fate. Last Thursday night, the member for Renfrew North and I happened to be in my riding; we had dinner. He said: "This is Phil Givens's old territory. How is old Phil?" I said: "Well, you know, he's not well, but he's not really that sick either. He's got some problems with his legs, he's walking with canes, but he's still the same Phil Givens: witty, sharp, interested." Little did we know that at the precise moment that we were talking, he was dying.

The member for Renfrew North told me stories about when Phil was in the north wing and the things that they were doing, and Friday morning, when I read in the paper that he had died, I called his wife to offer my condolences and recounted some of the stories. She chuckled and said, "You know, Monte, I'd forgotten those things." I said, "It was eerie, because I hadn't talked to the member about Phil Givens ever," but there on that night as he was dying, we, in a different location, were talking about him.

I think that it's important that we recognize that he was unique. He was an eloquent speaker. He won the gold medal at Osgoode for his oratory. He was not only the mayor, he was a school trustee, he was an alderman, he was a controller, he was the mayor, he was the MP, the MPP, he was the chairman of the police commission and he was a provincial judge. The man -- and it has been said of him -- was a man for all seasons and a man for all reasons.

I want, on behalf of my caucus, to extend to his wife, Min, his children, Michael and Eleanor, and their grandchildren, our condolences and the condolences of all of us.

The Speaker (Hon Allan K. McLean): I want to thank all honourable members for their kind remarks with regard to the Givenses, and I will see that a copy of Hansard is sent to his wife and his family.


The Speaker (Hon Allan K. McLean): I want to bring to the attention of the House that the leader of the official opposition has returned to the House. She left the other day and I did not have the opportunity to have her named. I would ask the honourable member today if she would withdraw the remarks that she made.

Mrs Lyn McLeod (Leader of the Opposition): Mr Speaker, I've come into the House today certainly prepared to participate. I want to be able to challenge this government very directly on what it's doing.

The Speaker: Would the member withdraw the remarks that she made last Thursday.

Mrs McLeod: Mr Speaker, I think I made it very clear on Thursday, voluntarily, that I believe that what I said on --

The Speaker: Will you withdraw your remarks?

Mrs McLeod: I said no, I cannot.

The Speaker: I have no alternative but to name the honourable member.

Mrs McLeod: Are you asking me again to leave the House?

The Speaker: I'm naming the honourable member.

Mrs McLeod: And are you therefore asking me to withdraw from the House again?

The Speaker: I'm asking you to withdraw the remarks that you made last Thursday.

Mrs McLeod: Mr Speaker, I've made it clear I cannot withdraw the remarks that I made.

The Speaker: Okay. I have to name the honourable member and ask the Sergeant at Arms if he could remove her.

Mrs McLeod: I will again leave, Mr Speaker, but Mike, let me tell you --

The Speaker: No. You have been named.

Mrs McLeod: -- you are not going to get away with this.

Mrs McLeod was escorted from the chamber.



Mr Gerry Phillips (Scarborough-Agincourt): My question is to the Premier. It's a question that my leader would have liked to ask. She's not here because she said something that many of us believe, and that is, that in the campaign you couldn't have been clearer, Premier: You promised the people of Ontario that you would not touch a penny of health care spending. You didn't say that you would restore it in four years. You didn't say, "We will cut it and then bring it back." You said, "We will not touch a penny of health care spending." That reassured many of the people in this province; not one cent you would touch.

Now we find, in your statement last Wednesday, that you have cut $500 million of health care next fiscal year and $1.5 billion over the next three years.

This is a question of your personal integrity. Will you now at least acknowledge the truth, that during the campaign you said you would not touch a penny, and now you have cut $500 million next year and $1.5 billion? Will you personally, because it's your credibility, tell the people of Ontario when you were telling the truth?

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

Hon Michael D. Harris (Premier): I think the Minister of Health should respond.


The Speaker: Order.

Mr Frank Miclash (Kenora): You said it, not him.

The Speaker: The member for Kenora is totally out of order.


The Speaker: The member for St Catharines, order.

Hon Jim Wilson (Minister of Health): Unlike previous governments --


The Speaker: Order. This is question and answer period. I would ask all honourable members to obey the rules of the House. I'd ask members to obey the rules of the Legislature.


Hon Mr Wilson: Unlike other governments that often made announcements about savings they were going to find in the system, whether it was health care or education or transportation or some other system, and they would then announce the same day multimillion-dollar programs of new spending in the hope that they would find the money in the future --


The Speaker: Order. Order.

Hon Mr Wilson: What we found is a history and a litany in this province that the multimillion-dollar programs get up and running, but the savings never get found to pay for those programs, and therefore we end up with $10-billion deficits year over year, $100 billion worth of debt --

The Speaker: The question has been answered.


The Speaker: Order. If you want to have question period, fine; if you don't, then I will just recess the House. It'll be your choice.


The Speaker: Order. Supplementary.

Mr Phillips: This is the document that the people of Ontario bought. This is the picture of the Premier on it. The commitment could not have been clearer. It was very, very specific. It wasn't, "We are going to cut spending now and bring it back up." It was that you would not touch a penny of health care spending, and I repeat: The people of the province took you at your word -- at your word, Premier -- and now we find in the announcement last week -- it also couldn't have been clearer -- you are cutting spending and that spending is going to fund your tax break. It isn't going to be reinvested in health care.

The Premier shakes his head, but he's afraid to answer the question. He's afraid to answer the question. Last week we were told that that money was going to reduce the deficit -- that's where it was going -- and to fund the tax break, not to be reinvested in health care.

Will you confirm -- and I would prefer the Premier; you can refer this back to the Premier -- that those health care funding cuts you announced last week are going to fund your tax break?

Hon Mr Wilson: I'd be happy to reaffirm, to affirm what the Premier and I and all members of this government have been saying all the way along, and that is, we would identify the savings -- and we've done that -- over the three years that the money will be taken out of the operating side of the hospital budget. You will see those reinvestment announcements.

It is not only unfair but it is ridiculous for the opposition right now to say that we're not going to reinvest that money in health care when today we made another significant announcement with respect to emergency on-call services, physician services, badly needed in some 67 communities. We're investing that money as part of our reinvestment strategy, and that's before -- that is months before -- we've seen any of the savings that were announced by the Treasurer last Wednesday. So we're already ahead on our reinvestment strategy, and I hope the opposition will recognize that.

Mr Phillips: The fact is that we no longer trust you. That is the fact. You are planning, by your own admission, massive cuts to the hospitals. You've cut funding to the hospitals by 20%. You are planning massive cuts to the hospitals. There's no question about that. The only way you can do that is with this bill.

I would say to the people of Ontario, pay attention to this, because one of the things this bill includes is it gives the minister the unilateral right, the minister alone, to close hospitals, and it gives the minister the unilateral right to tell every hospital in this province whether they stay open, whether they close, and more, whatever services they offer are under the direct control of the minister.

Why is this being forced through in two weeks with virtually no debate? I will tell you the reason why: Because you are imposing massive cuts on the health care system, massive cuts to the hospital section, and you want that done in two weeks so you can have those powers.

My question is this: Will you today acknowledge that the reason your government is forcing this bill through, with many sweeping powers, is so you will have the unilateral right to decide which hospitals in this province are closed, which hospitals are open and the services that are determined in those hospitals? Will you acknowledge that?

Hon Mr Wilson: Good management dictates that we make the reinvestment announcements in health care as we can realistically expect that the savings in other parts of the health care portfolio, that those savings are --


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

Hon Mr Wilson: So I repeat. Unlike other governments that made the multimillion-dollar announcements on day one, didn't actually achieve the savings and ended up driving the whole system into debt, we're taking a good management approach.

Secondly, with respect to the legislation and the member's question, I made it clear last Thursday, we will continue to make it clear that, as a matter of policy, the Minister of Health will not exercise the powers contained in that legislation, that those powers are there as an amendment to the Public Hospitals Act, and those powers will be delegated to the Health Services Restructuring Commission, as we were asked to do by the Metropolitan Toronto District Health Council's restructuring study. It recommends very clearly that we set up a commission, that we give it this authority, that the authority only be used by the commission as a last resort, that restructurings continue to be done at the local level by volunteers, and that there be no political interference.

The Health Services Restructuring Commission will ensure that we take the politics out of restructuring the hospital system so that we can finally get it done when it should have been done 10 years ago and other political parties in this place didn't have the courage to do it right.


Mr James J. Bradley (St Catharines): My question is for the Deputy Premier who is also the government House leader. On Wednesday of last week, when most of the news media and members of this Legislature were in the lockup for the budget across the street, your government introduced a massive budget bill which amends some 43 acts, which repeals two acts and which creates three new acts, a bill which gives the Minister of Health the absolute power to close hospitals and to run any hospital he wishes as he chooses, that allows him to impose user fees on the people of Ontario, that allows him to tell doctors when, where and how they will practise in this province, a bill which gives your cabinet and unelected advisers sweeping powers in a large number of important areas.

You determined to pass this huge bill, quite obviously, with just a few days of debate, allowing no public hearings, very little analysis and discussion, and in the end turning over full authority to the cabinet at the expense of the democratic process.

Mr Minister, in view of your statement on the weekend, your admission that, "There have been some individual circumstances that probably we didn't think all the way through, if you want me to be frank," why are you so determined to ram this massive bill through the Legislature before Christmas, when members of the opposition are prepared to sit in January, February and March to deal with the several bills which are encompassed within this massive budget?

Hon Ernie L. Eves (Deputy Premier, Minister of Finance and Government House Leader): The honourable member knows full well that there are some severe expenditure problems in the province of Ontario. He will also be aware of the fact that many of our transfer partners have asked for tools to enable them to deal with a lot of these expenditure problems. He will also know that there are certain actions that must be taken by the government to be able to implement some of the expenditure savings and reductions that we have outlined. We are committed to putting those tools into place and to following through with the measures we need to effect those expenditure reductions.


Mr Bradley: When I spoke to people, a good cross-section of people on the weekend, they all said, except those who are the real adherents -- most independent-minded people, many who had voted Tory, said, "Your government has made a big mistake when you're trying to ram through this massive bill."

We, the elected members, are the only people the voters of this province can get at directly, the only people they can influence. Why are you so determined to take away from the elected members of all parties in this House the jurisdiction and power that they have to deal with policy and legislation and turn it over to the few advisers, the unelected advisers, you have and to the cabinet? Why are you prepared to circumvent the democratic process and concentrate power in the hands of a few?

Hon Mr Eves: The honourable member will know that this is not the first time a government has introduced an omnibus bill in the Legislature. He will also know that this is not nearly the largest omnibus bill that's been introduced in the Legislature. As a matter of fact, the previous government had a bill named Bill 175. It amended 139 different statutes. This bill affects 47 statutes, not 139. Bill 175 affected 14 different ministries. The Savings and Restructuring Act affects nine or 10.

What did the previous government do with respect to omnibus Bill 175? They permitted three days' second reading debate totalling about seven and a half hours. They time-allocated the bill in committee of the whole to give the Legislature 30 whole minutes to talk about amendments to that bill that amended 139 different statutes, and they gave us about 35 minutes' debate, I believe, in third reading debate.

The honourable member will know that this is not the only omnibus bill that's ever been passed, nor is it the largest, nor is it the one that affects the most statutes, but you will be given a lot more time than my predecessors gave to debate those bills.

Mr Bradley: Make no mistake about it. This bill is unprecedented. This is a massive budget bill. It does not compare to any other bill that's been introduced into this Legislature.

Mr Minister, no doubt your unelected political advisers -- and you've seen them for all parties that have been in power in this province. These are the whiz kids and the political geniuses who sit with smiles on their faces in the back rooms and give you advice. No doubt those people have told you that you can get away with this, that if only you will tough it out, you can get away with this, because we're getting near Christmas and people will forget about it and there will be other issues that will arise. I agree with them that you can get away with it, and they will give you and have given you that advice.

But you have a choice, Mr Minister: You can do either what's expedient, what you can get away with, or you can do what is right. Why don't you do what's right? Why don't you withdraw Bill 26, separate it into several bills, have a full debate on each bill, allow public hearings and follow the democratic and prudent process that you know in your own mind and your own heart is right and just?

Hon Mr Eves: The honourable member will know that the province cannot continue to spend $1 million more an hour than it takes in in revenue. He will know that the spending practices of the previous two governments over the last 10 years have brought us to the position we're in today.

He will also know that they cannot be corrected without giving our transfer partners and the Ontario government the tools they need to correct the spending practices that now leave the Ontario taxpayer with $100 billion in debt, spending $9 billion in interest a year and, most importantly, spending $1 million more an hour, every hour of every day, 365 days a year, because their massive deficits don't take a holiday.


Mr Bob Rae (York South): A question for the Premier: Premier, the last few days we've seen some rather interesting statements being made by a number of your colleagues with respect to the status of the promises that are contained in the notorious document the Common Sense Revolution.

Your colleague sitting next to you said the other day: "There's no design for the tax cut plan. There's never been a design for the tax cut plan." That was on December 2, 1995. In contrast, the Common Sense Revolution is very precise. There's a plan that's only too detailed. In fact even the dollar amounts are set out, exactly how much each person will get. People are already banking on those things. You've recommitted to them.

Your colleague also said that you raise a good point with respect to the social assistance reductions, I think having watched some of the examples that are raised on a daily basis in the Legislature: "There have been some individual circumstances that probably we didn't think all the way through.... I think some of those things have to be adjusted." But you did think them all the way through. With respect to welfare, there's no ground for complaint on inconsistency. What you did was exactly what you set out to do in the Common Sense Revolution.

How are you going to stop this very dangerous backsliding that we see taking place among some of your colleagues, where the literal truth that surely is contained in the Common Sense Revolution, the fundamental truths that are contained in each sentence in each paragraph, is now being questioned by the more querulous among your colleagues, including the Deputy Premier? My question to the Premier is this: Which of the promises in the Common Sense Revolution precisely are we supposed to believe?

Hon Michael D. Harris (Premier): Let me deal very directly with the question, and if there are specifics by way of supplementary to a minister, I'll be happy to have them answered.

Very directly, the member had asked about the tax reductions. It's very specific in the Common Sense Revolution that, beginning with the 1996-97 budget, we will begin phasing in, over three years, a 30% tax reduction on the Ontario portion of the income tax rates.

Secondly, in the document as well there is a -- you could call it different things -- some have called it a clawback, some have called it other things, in the fair share health care levy, to income earners over $50,000. That's the fair share health care levy, and that's very progressive, as the member will know, and that would reduce the 30% figure for those with $50,000 a year or more.

I want to say very directly to the member that when the budget comes in in the spring you will clearly see that we have lived up to our commitment in the Common Sense Revolution.

The member also asked about specifics with the reductions that we announced to have our welfare reduced to 10% above the average of the other provinces. We think we have precisely done that, but certainly within that we've been prepared to say that if there is one area here, or if there is something that is affecting the disabled, or if there is another area as a result of that, we'd like to hear about that, and if it requires fine-tuning, we believe we should respond to that. We're happy to do that.

Mr Rae: There's a difference between fine-tuning and taking an axe to the piano, and I think that what we're seeing is far more of the latter than anything that would approach fine-tuning. What we're looking at is a Minister of Finance who on one day says that there is no tax cut plan and then you on this day say yes, there is a tax cut plan and it's exactly the plan you set out in the Common Sense Revolution.

We have a Minister of Finance who says, on television on Saturday night, that you've made a mistake with respect to your welfare cuts and things need to be changed and looked at again, and then we have a reiteration of the fundamentalist doctrine by you again, on Monday, saying that you stand by everything that's in the Common Sense Revolution.I think there's a significant problem with respect to your approach.

I'm asking the Premier today if perhaps you can clear up where we see these huge gaps between what you promised to do, what you are now setting out to do and the various statements that are being made by ministers with respect to their own commitments, given the realities they're having to confront. We all know the realities we have to confront. That's why we think the Common Sense Revolution was such a stupid document. But now we're having to confront your having to maintain that promise all the way through.

So I come right back to you: Do you still stand by all the promises you've made in the Common Sense Revolution?

Hon Mr Harris: I suppose the voters, according to the member's definition, were stupid in the last election, if that's what you're saying. We put before the people of Ontario a very straightforward, commonsense platform to undo the damage of the last 10 years. This was a document that we put out to the people with regard to the specifics that you've talked about today, with regard to the tax cut and welfare. We were very clear.


The Speaker (Hon Allan K. McLean): The member for Cochrane South.

Hon Mr Harris: We will also be very clear with our workfare proposals to ensure that --


The Speaker: The member for Cochrane South is out of order.

Hon Mr Harris: -- people who are capable are given opportunities to work or train and break this cycle of dependency that your failed programs brought forward.


We've been very up front pre-election, during the election, post-election. We are working tirelessly, very hard day and night, to fix a huge problem that the Treasurer has announced of a million dollars an hour being spent on your programs, more than is coming in, even with all your massive tax increases.

We inherited an economy that used to be one of the best in the world, that had failed after 10 years of your policies, and we are moving quickly to correct those problems and put Ontario (a) back on a sound footing, and (b) give Ontarians today and tomorrow hope and opportunity for the future. That's what we said we'd do; that's what we're doing.

Mr Rae: In a debate in this House on November 30, 1993, the Premier said: "I've been calling for a full and open discussion on the issue of user fees. Let's be fair. A copayment is a user fee. Rationing leads to user fees. Parental contribution is a user fee." That was on November 30, 1993.

He then went on and said: "Why do you refuse to allow the taxpayers, the people who pay for it and the people who use our health care system, to participate in a debate over what should be and what should not be paid for by the public purse? Why do you continue to deny that access?"

With respect to health care and the Common Sense Revolution, this Premier promised two things: First of all, "We will not cut health care spending." Those are not my words; those are his words, page 7. "We will not cut health care spending." The other thing he said was, "There will be no user fees," and on November 30, by way of background, he said, "A copayment is a user fee." Those aren't my words; those are his words. Those are the words of the person who's now the Premier.

My question to the Premier would be this: Given the way in which you've twisted and turned on the Common Sense Revolution, in which you've turned it into a document which is going to become the laughingstock of your party and of your government over the next several years, why are you refusing to allow us to cut up Bill 26, to turn it into a series of measures that can now be turned over to the public for hearings and for discussion, instead of which you're arrogantly trying to take to yourself powers which no other government has had in the history of the province?

Hon Mr Harris: Now you want to cut. For the last five years, if you had cut out the ideological nonsense; for the last five years, if you'd had responsible spending; for the last five years, if you had been prepared to cut off those special-interest groups that got special favours and special privileges from the Bob Rae government -- the power to the union leaders, the power to the monopolies that you gave to segments in society -- if you had been prepared for the last five years to be more responsible, there would be less cutting out of this nonsense that we'd have to do today.

But yes, we must move quickly to stop the nonsense and stop the bleeding, to quickly get Ontario back on a solid footing; yes, although not nearly as quickly as the former government and the member who was Premier at the time of the government, with their draconian omnibus bills, with far less time for debate, amending far more pieces of legislation; yes, had the member shown one single, solitary modicum of common sense for the last five years, our job would be a lot easier today.

You did not, it is not an easy job, and we are asking all Ontarians to continue to help us fix the mess.


Mr Bob Rae (York South): If a public debate was good enough for the Premier on November 30, 1993, when we didn't introduce user fees, I don't know why a public debate in 1995, when you are introducing user fees -- that's exactly what you're doing -- it's what you promised you wouldn't do in the Common Sense Revolution, it's what you told the seniors of the province you wouldn't do, it's what you promised disabled people you wouldn't do.

Why wouldn't you now say you will divide up the bill so it's there in presentable packages and you will send it out for hearings so we can have a full public debate, the kind of debate that you called for? Why are you afraid of debate? Why are you afraid of the people? Why won't you let the people have their say with respect to this legislation? Why would you be afraid --

The Speaker (Hon Allan K. McLean): Premier.

Hon Michael D. Harris (Premier): You know, we consulted with the people for five years. We put a document before the people. The people had their debate. I recall being on television with the other two leaders where we had our debate, and the people decided they wanted a change of direction.

Mr David S. Cooke (Windsor-Riverside): You lied to them.

The Speaker: Order. The member for Riverdale is out of order.

Hon Mr Harris: Clearly, the election was on the basis of the Common Sense Revolution document, which said we're going to balance the books, said in health care we are going to find savings so we can reinvest in priority areas, and this is exactly what we are going to do. I might say to the member that people are responding. We're getting calls from seniors all across the province saying, "Right on."

Mr Gilles Bisson (Cochrane South): You're lying, Mike.

The Speaker: No, no. The member for Cochrane South, would you withdraw?

Mr Bisson: I'll withdraw, Mr Speaker.

Mr Rae: The problem is that this government's entire campaign was based on a document called the Common Sense Revolution, in which you said you wouldn't cut health care spending, in which you said you wouldn't bring in user fees and in which you said you had a very specific tax plan.

On Friday we were told by the Treasurer that there is no tax plan. Those are his words, not my words. He said: "There's no clear-cut plan. I have no plan." Then we find out on Wednesday that you are in fact going to cut health care spending by up to 20% in terms of hospitals over three years and that you're planning to bring in new powers, that you're planning to bring in new fees.

It's precisely because there's been such a change, it's because you've departed so dramatically from the truths and the verities of the Common Sense Revolution, that we're now saying to you, why would you be afraid of hearings? I say to the Premier, especially you, why would you be afraid of hearings and why would you be afraid of breaking up the bill when you were the first one over so many times in the past to say: "Let's be fair. A copayment is a user fee.... Parental contribution is a user fee." "I've been calling for a full and an open discussion on the issue of user fees."

If the Premier is so confident that the seniors of this province are going to rise up in grateful thanks for having user fees imposed on them, if the disabled and the handicapped are so thrilled with the fact that they're suddenly going to have to pay $2 a shot every time they pay for their drugs, will the Premier tell us, why is he afraid to send this particular measure off to a committee for a full discussion so that people can come out and do it?

Hon Mr Harris: I think the member will know that I have never been afraid of public debate, of hearings, of talking to people, of travelling around the province and listening to what they said. In fact, as I indicated earlier, we had open houses, we had town hall meetings, we had hearings. We heard what people had to say.


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

Hon Mr Harris: In addition, when it has come to restructuring and reductions that we have to find in the health care system in order to fund new priority areas of service, we've heard from people all across the province. Roger Macauley, president of the Council for London Seniors, called the fee plan reasonable, one that may even help reduce problems. "Our members were prepared for this." This is Roger Macauley, president of London Seniors. "Our members were prepared for this. I'd say the vast majority know this province has a debt problem and we all have to take part in handling it."

We've been pretty straightforward and up front continually, pre-election, during the election, post-election. The member asked about this in September when the House came back: Were we considering having seniors participate, as they do all across the country, in the drug benefit plan? We said yes, we were; we think this makes sense, and so did seniors who have talked to us.


Mr Rae: Bill 26 would make Ontario the only province in Canada without the ability to regulate drug prices. It gives the Minister of Health more power over hospitals and doctors than any Health minister has in the rest of the country. It repeals existing laws giving preference to Canadian-owned, non-profit health care providers. It rolls back pay equity. It gives enormous power to the Minister of Municipal Affairs to restructure municipalities. It guts the laws requiring cleanups at polluting mines. It rewrites completely the rules for bargaining with police officers, firefighters, hospital workers and other workers in the broader public sector. It is a major measure, all in one bill. And that's not all it does; it does more than that. Those are just the highlights.

It signals a dramatic shift from all the town hall meetings you had. It was the town hall meetings that led you to say two things about health care. The first thing you said after the town hall meetings was that you wouldn't cut health care spending, that it's far too important. That's the first thing you said. The second thing you said was, "We will not cut aid to seniors and we will not cut aid to the disabled and we will not introduce any new user fees." The people already had your statement saying that a copayment is a user fee, so they can only assume that you meant it then in 1993 and you meant it today in 1995.

In that instance and in that regard, and given the total departure from the Common Sense Revolution, the complete and utter departure from it, why would you refuse now to have full hearings on every area in which you have so significantly given new powers to yourself and in which you've moved away from the teachings, the truths, the eternal verities, of the Common Sense Revolution?

Hon Mr Harris: The member indicates that Bill 26 indicates a significant departure from accepted practices. The member is quite right. We need a substantial difference from the last 10 years, where it was spend, spend, spend. It is a significant departure. Our election was a significant --


The Speaker: The member for Hamilton East.

Hon Mr Harris: The people of Ontario said, "We want a change. We want people who are capable to work for their benefits," and we said, "Yes, we agree with you."

We heard that in open town hall meetings, and we said that will be part of our platform. We heard people say, "We want you to pay your own way," both environmentally, by the way, and fiscally: a balanced budget. You can't keep spending money you don't have. In fact, to do so is in effect spending dollars and sending the bill to our children and to our grandchildren and to the next generation. The people said: "Stop that. We don't want that any more. We want a change."

Yes, we are offering a change, both in a budgetary sense, in balancing the books, and yes, we are responding to our transfer partners, who are excited and enthusiastic about seeing a balanced budget in Ontario for a change, one that will lead to jobs and growth and investment in their communities. They've asked us for some tools to help them, and yes, we responded with a bill to give them those tools.

Mr Sean G. Conway (Renfrew North): My question is to the government House leader. Ernie, you know better --

Mr Rae: Yes, but Bert doesn't. That's the trouble.

Mr Conway: I say to the government House leader that he knows better than just about anyone here how unprecedented his Bill 26 is. He knows from long and distinguished years as a party House leader just how remarkable and how unprecedented is this particular bill. Yes, there have been other omnibus bills. He knows it and I know it. But I submit to you, sir, that there has never been in this chamber, in its long and distinguished history, a bill such as this Bill 26.

The Speaker: Put your question, please.

Mr Conway: Mr Government House Leader, your friend the Premier and you yourself like to describe this as an innocent little toolbox for your transfer partners, when you and I both know that this bill is a Trojan Horse with a bellyful of unprecedented, sweeping and unilateral powers that, for the first time ever, seeks to give your colleagues like the Minister of Health, for but one example, dictatorial powers in the area of, for example, closing down any public hospital.

The Speaker: And the question is?

Mr Conway: Given the sweeping, unprecedented and dictatorial --

The Speaker: Order. Finance minister.

Hon Ernie L. Eves (Deputy Premier, Minister of Finance and Government House Leader): The honourable member points out that there are some powers in this bill that are unusual. I would say that having a $100-billion debt is very unusual. I would say that's never happened before in the province of Ontario either.

How did we get there? I would say that spending $9 billion a year on interest to service a public debt that his party and that party have been largely responsible for in the last 10 years; not being able to spend that $9 billion a year on people who need it for health care, on needy families, on children and essential services -- yes, that's unprecedented in the province of Ontario too. And getting to the point where you have to spend $1 million an hour more than you take in in revenue, due to policies of your government and your government -- that's unprecedented too.

Unprecedented circumstances call for some very decisive action to bring this spiralling debt we have in this province under control so that my children, your children and grandchildren will have a future in the province of Ontario instead of the legacy of debt that your two parties have left them.


Mr Conway: If they want to clap, let them clap to this: Twenty years ago when I came here, Darcy McKeough presented this chamber with a budget in 1975 that offered a nearly $2-billion deficit on a $12-billion budget plan. In 1985, Jake La Motta there from Nipissing, with his friend Frank Miller, offered this chamber a budgetary deficit of $3.3 billion on a spending plan of $30 billion. How dare you talk about the last 10 years? That is your record.

To the government House leader, unprecedented is this bill -- not unusual; unprecedented, conferring sweeping dictatorial powers to ministers. A naked power play, a naked concentration of executive power in this government, this Bill 26 is a legislative pudding full of ground glass masquerading as common sense and fiscal restraint.

Will you, Minister, recognizing the unprecedented nature of this Bill 26, commit today to meeting at the earliest opportunity today with my colleague the Liberal House leader and the NDP House leader to do the honourable thing, to break this bill into several sections and work out a timetable that allows a reasonable and democratic debate on the several enormously important policies contained --

The Speaker: The question has been asked.

Hon Mr Eves: With respect to the specific question he asked at the end of his question -- or the end of his theatrical performance, perhaps I should say -- if he talks to the member for St Catharines at all, he will know full well that at last Thursday's House leaders' meeting I said to both opposition House leaders that I would talk about the piece of legislation, I would get back to my cabinet colleagues and I would get back to them after your caucus, and your caucus, had had a chance to talk about the bill in caucus the following Tuesday, which is tomorrow.

You would know that process is already going on, so I'm somewhat surprised to find an open letter from the House leader of the third party today -- perhaps he thinks that scores more political points -- and I'm quite surprised to find your theatrical debate here today in questioning when you know full well that that process was under way, as it's always been under way.

I can make one commitment to the honourable member opposite: There will be more time for debate on this particular piece of legislation than was given by the previous government on its omnibus pieces of legislation.


The Speaker: The question has been answered. New question, the member for Windsor-Riverside.

Mr Cooke: The question is to the government House leader. This piece of legislation that the government slipped in last week is not parallelled in the history of the province, so the government House leader should stop with the misinformation in this place that there's some parallel with other omnibus bills. There's no other parallel in the history of this province.

The government House leader was a member of the Legislature when Bill Davis brought in extraordinary legislation in the beginning of the 1980s to deal with the so-called budget crisis of his own making at that time. At that particular time, the Legislature was called back, there was a long second reading debate, and he had the decency to consult the public through public hearings.

I'm asking the government House leader, is he prepared to divide this bill up and allow the public to participate, or is he going to ram this bill through and legalize dictatorship in this province?

Hon Mr Eves: What an objective question coming from the House leader of the third party. I will make a commitment to the member, the same as I just committed to the member for Renfrew North: You will have more debate time on this particular piece of legislation, more time in committee or committee of the whole and more time on third reading debate than you ever dreamt of giving the opposition on your omnibus bills, 175 and 160.

Mr Cooke: There is no parallel. This bill deregulates drug prices. It allows the government to decide where doctors and which doctors can practise in the province. It gives the government the power to close hospitals. It gives the government the unilateral power to amalgamate and annex municipalities. The list goes on and on. It deregulates drug prices.

Our caucus has met. The Liberal caucus agrees. We're prepared to stay here through Christmas and in January and February if the government is interested in proceeding in a democratic way. Are you prepared to split up the bill and have the Legislature sit?

We're not the only ones who are worried about participating; there are 11 million people in this province. Your government is trying to change the face of this province with no consultation. Are you prepared to have the Legislature sit and get these bills out so that the public can participate in a change in this province of this magnitude?

Hon Mr Eves: The member for Windsor-Riverside will know full well that there was consultation in this province leading up to and including June 8. The member for Windsor-Riverside will also know that we are quite prepared --


The Speaker: Order, the member for Cochrane South.

Hon Mr Eves: We are quite prepared to have more discussion about this piece of legislation than you had the courtesy to extend to members of the opposition with respect to bills 175 and 160.

Mr Richard Patten (Ottawa Centre): Two wrongs don't make a right.

The Speaker: The member for Ottawa Centre, come to order.

Hon Mr Eves: The honourable member protesting is the individual who dreamt up, as I recall, new rules for the House in the Ontario Legislature. He belongs to a party that invoked time allocation or closure some 21 or 22 times in the last five years, and now he's objecting because the government that was elected to fulfil a mandate of expenditure reduction in the province of Ontario and, yes, change the face of the province of Ontario, is doing exactly what it said it would do.


Mr Derwyn Shea (High Park-Swansea): My question is to the Minister of Citizenship, Culture and Recreation.


Mr Gilles Bisson (Cochrane South): Here's the guy who was in favour of rent control.

The Speaker (Hon Allan K. McLean): The member for Cochrane South has been continuously out of order and I won't warn him again.

Mr Sean G. Conway (Renfrew North): How about the member for London North, Mr Speaker?

The Speaker: There are all kinds of them.

Mr Shea: The financial statement announced last Wednesday brings with it many changes for this province. In light of last Wednesday's statement by the Finance minister, will the Minister of Citizenship, Culture and Recreation share with this House what the government is doing to help some of its cultural agencies adjust to the new economic realities?


The Speaker: Order.

Hon Marilyn Mushinski (Minister of Citizenship, Culture and Recreation): Before I answer the honourable member's question, I'd like to take this opportunity to recognize the passing of one of Canada's great icons of literature. I know all the members of this House will share the sadness of Robertson Davies's passing.

Mr Shea: I'd like more elaboration on what the financial statement means for the organizations involved.

Hon Ms Mushinski: When I met with the chairs and the CEOs of our cultural agencies in September, each and every one of them asked us to remove the barriers for their opportunities to raise funds. Indeed the cultural agencies like the Art Gallery of Ontario, the Royal Botanical Gardens and the Royal Ontario Museum are most happy that we have established the opportunity for them to create crown foundations.


Mrs Elinor Caplan (Oriole): My question is for the Premier and it regards Bill 26, the Savings and Restructuring Act.

Premier, Bill 26 gives your Minister of Health the unilateral and unprecedented power to close hospitals; decide what services hospitals will provide; reduce, suspend, withhold or terminate funding to hospitals; force hospitals to merge and amalgamate; make regulations that would allow hospital boards to refuse applications for appointments and revoke existing appointments; revoke licences of private hospitals; unilaterally decide what services independent health facilities can deliver and which ones can exist; reduce or terminate any private hospital funding; determine what drugs and drug products will be covered by the Ontario drug benefit plan; determine what the dispensing fee will be for prescriptions, without negotiation; charge user fees -- "copayments," he calls them -- in the Ontario drug benefit plan which will mean payments by senior citizens, welfare recipients, including children on welfare, disabled persons on welfare. He's going to bring in billing numbers for doctors, determine unilaterally what areas are oversupplied.

The Speaker (Hon Allan K. McLean): Will you put your question, please.

Mrs Caplan: As well, he will have the power to set levels of fees to decide what doctors and pharmacists and others will be paid.

Premier, do you agree that Bill 26 grants your Minister of Health these absolute and unprecedented sweeping powers in every aspect of the delivery of health services in the province?

Hon Michael D. Harris (Premier): No, I don't.

Mrs Caplan: Premier, in fact it does. You have made the argument very well for why there needs to be appropriate scrutiny of this bill. I believe that every one of the sections in this bill -- because, Premier, the powers that I have listed in the first part of my question are the powers, and potential powers, that can be abused by this Minister of Health, although I admit that you believe he is benevolent.


I am afraid of the abuse of power which is contained in this legislation, and I am also very concerned that no one will be able to give it the kind of scrutiny that it deserves. We know there has not been consultation. Frankly, I'm shocked and horrified that you are not aware of the powers that are contained in this bill. I'm asking you, on behalf of your government, to commit today to full public hearings on every aspect of the powers that I have outlined, public hearings that will allow the people of this province to understand the absolute and dictatorial powers. Will you commit to public hearings on this bill?

Hon Mr Harris: The House leader has indicated that there will be discussions with other House leaders on how we can provide significantly more time and debate on this piece of legislation certainly than we ever received. I want to also say that the question is coming from a member of the cabinet who brought us five successive 16% increases in spending that put this province into the mess that we have today.

Finally, what we are dealing with in the legislation is not at all the same representation that's being put forward by the member today. In those areas where it is taxpayers' dollars that are funding, what we are committing to do is to manage them far more effectively than you did.


Ms Frances Lankin (Beaches-Woodbine): My question is to the Minister of Finance. Minister, I couldn't help but actually be amazed over the course of the weekend as I read a number of quotes from you, quotes like: "We haven't calculated, quite frankly, how much it would cost." "We haven't structured what the tax cut will be." "There's a little slack in there." "We haven't designed the tax reduction yet." "Depending on the design of the tax cut, the numbers in the CSR may be extremely accurate or extremely inaccurate." My all-time favourite: "Of course, there has never been a design for the tax cut plan, as I've found out in the few short weeks since being appointed on June 26."

Stunning, breathtaking, in their contrast to the surety of what's set out in the Common Sense Revolution where we see the numbers, where we know someone making $25,000 a year will get $425 in 1996-97, someone getting $50,000 a year in income will get back $934 -- accurate to the penny, Mr Minister, to the penny. And today we hear the Premier say, very clearly: "The CSR is what rules. This is what you will see in the budget."

Would you tell us, please, would you clear this up for us, because I think many of the people out in the public are quite confused, is there a plan? Will there be a 15% reduction in income tax in 1996-97? Will someone earning $25,000 a year get $425 back in a tax rebate? Please, clear this up for us, Mr Minister.

Hon Ernie L. Eves (Deputy Premier, Minister of Finance and Government House Leader): Is the honourable member for Beaches-Woodbine actually suggesting that the member for Nickel Belt, for example, five months or six months or seven months prior to a budget being read, had the tax legislation designed, had all the specifics of the tax legislation outlined and had the budget already in place? Is that what the member's saying?

Ms Lankin: Absolutely not. I am not saying that, because the member for Nickel Belt, the former Minister of Finance, would never have put out so irresponsible a document as this, based on false numbers, based on inaccurate -- I was going to say untrue, but I want to be parliamentary here.

I've looked at these numbers. I've looked at the bottom line of the fiscal numbers that are there in the deficit. If you reinvest the health cuts, as your Premier has said, your deficit will go up. If you take the tax cut, as your Premier has said today, your deficit will go up. You haven't got those numbers calculated in there. Please tell us: Which is true? Which is right? Is it your deficit number, is it your commitment on the tax cuts, or is it your commitment to have every, every cent of health money reinvested next year? Tell us which one of those things you're going to do.

Hon Mr Eves: Talking about the member for Nickel Belt, the previous Minister of Finance, never putting out an irresponsible document, he put out five of them in a row. They were called budgets.

He also was irresponsible enough to suggest on April 27 of this year that his deficit would be in the neighbourhood of $5.8 billion, and when we assumed office, lo and behold, we found out it was $10.6 billion on a cash-modified system or $11.2 billion on an accrual system. So much for irresponsible documents and irresponsible statements.

The member knows full well that she will get the particulars of the first instalment of the 30% tax cut in the 1996 budget, and she knows full well that she'll have to wait until then to get the specifics of the same.


Mr R. Gary Stewart (Peterborough): My question is to the Minister of Education and Training.


Mr Stewart: Quiet, please. Show a little respect.

Minister, many constituents in my riding have expressed their support of a standardized report card for all students in Ontario. They recognize the advantage associated with having a clear and consistent reporting system on student achievement and performance. Minister, will your ministry be moving ahead with this long-needed and essential reform to Ontario's education system?

Hon John Snobelen (Minister of Education and Training): Notwithstanding the comments and catcalls from the members opposite, I believe that the question is on the mind of many parents in the province of Ontario and that it's important to the people of the province of Ontario. It also speaks to this government's commitment to quality, accountability and affordability of education in the province of Ontario.

Let me read to you from the throne speech, where we said, "Within the classroom, the Harris government will ensure a demanding core curriculum, regular testing of students and standardized report cards."

I'm pleased to assure the member that this government will work towards a standardized report card across the province of Ontario that will make assessment of students clear to parents.



Mr Mike Colle (Oakwood): This is to the Legislature of Ontario. It says, "`No' to user fees on medication for seniors.

"Whereas the Minister of Health, the Honourable Jim Wilson, is imposing user fees on prescription medicine for seniors and people on social assistance;

"Whereas during the election, the Mike Harris Conservatives promised they would not impose new user fees for health care;

"Whereas seniors and people on social assistance are having a most difficult time paying for food and housing and paying taxes on their small pensions and incomes;

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

"Be it resolved that the Minister of Health, Honourable Jim Wilson, and Premier Mike Harris stop the user fees on prescription drugs for seniors and the people on social assistance and keep their promise of no new user fees for health care."

I've affixed my name to this petition.


Mr Len Wood (Cochrane North): I have a petition and a letter from a large number of people in Hearst.

"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 reduction 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."

As I said before, there are a large number of people from Hearst, Cochrane and Kapuskasing and they're very much concerned. I've affixed my name to the petition.



Mr Michael Gravelle (Port Arthur): "Whereas Mike Harris promised on May 3, 1995, not to cut one cent from health care spending; and

"Whereas that promise was broken when the Conservatives cut more than $1.3 billion from Ontario hospitals; and

"Whereas Mike Harris also promised in the Common Sense Revolution that, `Aid for seniors and the disabled will not be cut'; and

"Whereas that promise was broken when the Conservatives slapped a new user fee on the drugs seniors, the disabled and the poor are prescribed by their doctors when they are sick; and

"Whereas Mike Harris promised in the Common Sense Revolution that there would be no new user fees; and

"Whereas that promise was broken when the Conservatives added $225 million worth of user fees on the Ontario drug benefit plan; and

"Whereas Mike Harris has clearly broken every single promise he has made with respect to protecting health care; and

"Whereas Mike Harris and the Conservatives are now planning, through Bill 26, to bestow upon the Minister of Health new dictatorial powers which would allow him to singlehandedly close any hospital in the province with the stroke of a pen; and

"Whereas Bill 26 will allow the Minister of Health to close any hospital in the province without any public input whatsoever; and

"Whereas Bill 26 will allow the Premier and cabinet to usurp the rights and privileges of the elected members of this Legislature and thereby the rights of every person in this province;

"We, the undersigned, demand that Mike Harris reverse his policies, which will clearly jeopardize the future of quality health care in Ontario; and we further demand the Conservative government withdraw their heavy-handed, dictatorial budget bill, Bill 26."

I'm proud to sign my signature.


Ms Frances Lankin (Beaches-Woodbine): I have a petition to the Legislative Assembly of Ontario which reads:

"Whereas Mike Harris said on May 30, 1995, `If I don't live up to anything that I have promised to do and committed to do, I will resign'; and

"Whereas Mike Harris promised on May 3, 1995, `No cuts to health care spending,' but in his November 29 economic statement we see $1.3 billion or 18% in cuts to hospital spending over the next three years and a further $225 million in cuts from the health care budget; and

"Whereas Mike Harris has clearly broken his promise to defend health care cuts in funding; and

"Whereas Mike Harris promised in the Common Sense Revolution that, `This plan will create more than 725,000 new jobs,' but in his November 29 economic statement we see a prediction of only 253,000 jobs created over the next three years and an unemployment rate of 8.6% in two years, which is the same as it is today; and

"Whereas Mike Harris has clearly broken his promise to create significant jobs in this province; and

"Whereas Mike Harris promised in the Common Sense Revolution that, `Aid for seniors and the disabled will not be cut,' but in his November 29 economic statement Mike Harris is cutting the Ontario drug benefit plan and making seniors and the vulnerable pay for their drugs; and

"Whereas Mike Harris has clearly broken his promise to seniors and the disabled;

"We, the undersigned, demand that Mike Harris keep his word and resign immediately."

I've affixed my signature to this petition.


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

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

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

"We petition the Legislative Assembly of Ontario to reject the recommendation contained within the final 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.


Mr David Christopherson (Hamilton Centre): I have a further petition from my community. In fact, this makes over 2,000 signatures that I've presented so far.

"Whereas the funding for social services in the centres de santé communautaire of Hamilton and Niagara has been cut by 100%; and

"Whereas the French Language Services Act ensures the delivery of French-language social and health services to francophones in designated cities, such as Hamilton, Welland and Port Colborne; and

"Whereas the needs and feasibility studies carried out after the implementation of the French Language Services Act recommended the establishment of community health centres in the regions of Hamilton-Wentworth and Niagara to ensure delivery of French-language services; and

"Whereas the health centres are the only organizations ensuring the delivery of social services in French, since there are no designated bilingual positions in the other organizations of these designated cities;

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

"We demand that the Legislative Assembly immediately stop its attack on French-language services in Ontario. The centres de santé communautaire of Hamilton and Niagara are the only agencies offering French-language social services because there are no bilingual designated positions in the other agencies in our communities. We expect the Legislative Assembly to demonstrate clearly that Franco-Ontarians are an integral part of the province of Ontario, to immediately review the cuts which have affected those health centres and to re-establish the funding of social services and ensure the future of social services and health services in French in the Hamilton-Wentworth and Niagara community health centres."

I affix my signature.


Mr Frank Miclash (Kenora): I have a petition to the Legislative Assembly which reads:

"Whereas Mike Harris promised on May 3, 1995, not to cut one cent from health care spending; and

"Whereas that promise was broken when the Conservatives cut more than $1.3 billion from Ontario hospitals; and

"Whereas Mike Harris also promised in the Common Sense Revolution that, `Aid for seniors and the disabled will not be cut'; and

"Whereas that promise was broken when the Conservatives slapped a new user fee on the drugs seniors, the disabled and the poor are prescribed by their doctors when they are sick; and

"Whereas Mike Harris promised in the Common Sense Revolution that there would be no new user fees; and

"Whereas that promise was broken when the Conservatives added $225 million worth of user fees on the Ontario drug benefit plan; and

"Whereas Mike Harris has clearly broken every single promise he has made with respect to protecting health care; and

"Whereas Mike Harris and the Conservatives are now planning, through Bill 26, to bestow upon the Minister of Health new dictatorial powers which would allow him to singlehandedly close any hospital in the province with the stroke of a pen; and

"Whereas Bill 26 will allow the Minister of Health to close any hospital in the province without any public input whatsoever; and

"Whereas Bill 26 will allow the Premier and cabinet to usurp the rights and privileges of the elected members of this Legislature and thereby the rights of every person in this province;

"We, the undersigned, demand that Mike Harris reverse his policies which will clearly jeopardize the future of quality health care in Ontario and we further demand the Conservative government drop their heavy-handed, dictatorial budget bill, Bill 26."

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


Mr Bernard Grandmaître (Ottawa East): I have a petition from parents of developmentally disabled persons at Silver Spring Farm, and it reads:

"Whereas under a Niagara cultural program funded by the Ministry of Community and Social Services there are 20 developmentally disabled persons presently working at the Silver Spring Farm in Nepean, Ontario; and

"Whereas during the spring provincial election the Progressive Conservative candidate declared that the developmentally disabled would not be affected by any future downsizing due to budget cuts; and

"Whereas the parents of the 20 developmentally disabled persons working at Silver Farm believe that the agricultural program has proven to be a great benefit and an excellent source of fulfilment for these workers with disabilities;

"We, the undersigned, petition the Legislative Assembly of Ontario that the agricultural program for the developmentally disabled at Silver Spring Farm be maintained."

This petition has been signed by 2,720 people in the area of Nepean and I have signed the petition.


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

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

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

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

I have affixed my signature to this petition.



Mr Michael A. Brown (Algoma-Manitoulin): I have a petition that I'm proudly presenting from the central part of my riding, places like Massey, Webbwood and Espanola.

"To the Legislative Assembly of Ontario:

"Whereas the majority of Ontario senior citizens have contributed to the province through work and taxes all their lives and for many of those years had not the benefit of many of the social programs enjoyed today;

"Whereas recent and planned funding cuts to health care, including reduced hospital grants and hospital closures, elimination of many medications used by seniors from the Ontario Drug Benefit Formulary, reduction in the out-of-province ambulance cost-sharing program, reductions in the assistive devices and home oxygen programs, will have the greatest impact on senior citizens; and

"Whereas reductions to the non-profit housing access fund and long-term-care funding will further erode the deserved right of Ontario's senior citizens to participate in society and live safe, independent lives;

"Therefore, we, the undersigned, petition the Legislative Assembly as follows:

"To immediately review and reconsider all cost-cutting which impacts directly and indirectly on the health and wellbeing of Ontario's senior citizens."

I proudly affix my signature.


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

"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."


Mr John Gerretsen (Kingston and The Islands): I have a petition which is addressed to the Legislature of Ontario and is signed by about 400 of the residents of my riding. It says:

"Whereas the following residents of Kingston and area do not support the current financial cutbacks to programs, including child care, counselling services, women's shelters, civil service jobs, social housing, halfway houses, youth programs and services, labour concerns, children's aid, children's mental health programs, hospitals and financial assistance programs such as welfare, mother's allowance and disability; and

"Whereas the citizens of Kingston and area believe that the Tory government is creating havoc, more poverty, especially child poverty, and paying the debts of the province on the backs of the poor and the powerless;

"We want this type of heartless, unplanned tyranny to stop."

I've affixed my signature to it.


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

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

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

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

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


Mr Michael A. Brown (Algoma-Manitoulin): "Whereas Mike Harris promised on May 3, 1995, not to cut one cent from health care spending; and

"Whereas that promise was broken when the Conservatives cut more than $1.3 billion from Ontario's hospitals; and

"Whereas Mike Harris also promised in the Common Sense Revolution that, `Aid for seniors and the disabled will not be cut'; and

"Whereas that promise was broken when the Conservatives slapped a new user fee on drugs for seniors, the disabled and the poor prescribed by their doctors when they are sick; and

"Whereas Mike Harris promised in the Common Sense Revolution that there would be no new user fees; and

"Whereas that promise was broken when the Conservatives added $225 million worth of user fees on the Ontario drug benefit plan; and

"Whereas Mike Harris has clearly broken every single promise he has made with respect to protecting health care; and

"Whereas Mike Harris and the Conservatives are now planning through Bill 26 to bestow upon the Minister of Health new, dictatorial powers that would allow him to singlehandedly close any hospital in the province with a stroke of a pen; and

"Whereas Bill 26 will allow the Minister of Health to close any hospital in the province without any public input whatsoever; and

"Whereas Bill 26 will allow the Premier and cabinet to usurp the rights and privileges of the elected members of the Legislature and thereby the rights of every person in this province;

"We, the undersigned, demand that Mike Harris reverse his policies which will clearly jeopardize the future of quality health care in Ontario and we further demand that the Conservative government withdraw their heavy-handed, dictatorial budget bill, Bill 26."

I affix my signature.



Mr Gerry Phillips (Scarborough-Agincourt): Just so we all know what we're talking about, particularly me, we're dealing now with the fiscal and economic statement that was presented in the House last Wednesday by the Minister of Finance and beginning debate on it. I had an opportunity to begin this debate last Thursday and continue the debate now.

I believe this is, for the government, really the defining document for you. This is the document that sets the government's course. I think it fundamentally changes Ontario. It sets Ontario on a new course, frankly one that concerns us deeply.

Just so we all appreciate the magnitude of the cuts you are proposing, in the end about 25% of all government spending will be cut out. That's about $8 billion, and just so we all appreciate what that's being used for, it is the government's intention to cut $8 billion out of the budget and then, according to the documents we've been given by the government, it's the government's intention to use $5 billion of that for a tax cut, a 30% cut in personal income tax, and to use $3 billion of that cut to reduce the deficit, just so we know why we're going through the pain -- and it will be very painful in Ontario, make no mistake about that.

It is because the new government is committed to a 30% cut in personal income tax, and today the Premier once again confirmed that this is the government's firm intention. It will be done over the next three budgets, half of it in the budget that will be presented here in April or May 1996 and then a quarter and a quarter.

But when we talk to people in the community about why we must go through this incredible battle with the deficit, I think we have to be clear that much of the saving is not being used to reduce the deficit. In fact $5 billion of the $8 billion is being used to fund the tax cut, and I might add, for the people out there who are very worried about the deficit and the cost of funding the debt, that virtually all of this money for the tax cut has to be borrowed for the next four years. We're not going to balance this budget until March 31, 2001. By the way, that's about eight months after the next election.

Mr Michael A. Brown (Algoma-Manitoulin): What a coincidence.

Mr Phillips: Well, it won't be before the election, because it won't be balanced until March 31, 2001.

We are going to go through an incredible amount of change in the province, there's no doubt -- the government itself points this out very clearly -- a dramatic reduction in the level of services, and for what? Partially to fight the deficit, but more importantly to fund a tax cut, a 30% tax cut on personal income tax. Clearly, the more you make, the bigger the cut.

The Finance critic for the NDP pointed out earlier today in the Legislature that it was crystal clear in the Common Sense Revolution -- crystal clear -- what the implications of that 30% tax cut were. There were several charts in the Common Sense Revolution. This one has the tax implications for people making $100,000 a year and it was calculated out to $2,540. During the campaign the now Premier, the then leader of the Conservative Party, pointed out in clear detail that this 30% tax cut applied to everyone. The more you make, the bigger the cut. If you make $150,000 a year, the cut is $5,000 a year.


Mr Wayne Wettlaufer (Kitchener): And the more you pay on the health premiums.

Mr Phillips: No. I always appreciate the heckles because --

Mr Wettlaufer: But you want to ignore that.

Mr Phillips: No. This is what infuriates me, for the viewers who can't hear. One of the Conservative members is heckling me and saying, "But you ignore the health cut." No, no, no, no. I've actually read the Common Sense Revolution. This is after the health levy.

The Acting Speaker (Mr Gilles E. Morin): Address your remarks to the Chair, please.

Mr Phillips: Thank you, Mr Speaker, but I'm being provoked by members of the Conservative Party who don't understand the document they ran on. They don't understand the document they ran on, because the figures I give you are after the health levy.

So when we are asked to bear the pain -- if you're on social assistance, you're bearing the pain right now of a 21.5% cut in your social assistance. By the way, the Minister of Finance acknowledged last week maybe they made a few mistakes doing that, but so what? So what if some people have borne an enormous penalty for their mistakes over the last little while?

The people on social assistance are going to have to bear the pain, the people in the education system are, the people in the municipalities are going to have to bear the pain, and the hospitals and the seniors, all of the pain. We're being told it is to fight the deficit; we've got this death fight with the deficit. But I would just say, to us it is crystal clear that $5 billion of that deficit-fighting is going to fund the tax break.

I want to talk about what I regard as a serious breach of confidence with the people of Ontario in what was announced last week. I don't think it could have been clearer in the campaign that the Conservatives were running on a campaign of not touching one penny of health care. In the all-candidates debates I was at, that was the thing that I think perhaps gave the most reassurance to people: "Don't worry. We are not going to touch one penny of health care." It was repeated time and time again.

As a matter of fact, in all the documentation that was presented to us, it was clear -- this is the documentation for all of us on cost measures; in other words, what things were going to be cut -- health never shows up anywhere. It never shows up in 1996-97, 1997-98, 1998-99. It never shows up. It could not have been clearer that the commitment you made and you all ran on was to not touch a penny of health care.

None of you ran on the platform of saying, "We're going to cut it for a while. We're going to cut," and last week's announcement cuts $1.5 billion out of health care. None of you ran on that. I challenge any of you to show me a document that would indicate that you ever told anyone: "Here's our promise. We're going to cut the health care spending and then restore it in four years."

You provided direct assurance to the seniors, the people of this province who are worried about health care, which I guess is everyone, and certainly to the people in the health care field that your government would not touch a penny. Then what we heard last week in this statement, the fiscal and economic statement, was that the hospitals themselves were going to be cut by $1.3 billion. To put a perspective on that, that's about 20% of our hospitals funding.

I would say that for the hospital sector, that is going to be a tremendous strain on them. As I think we know, every hospital in the province is going through some challenging times. They all know they've got to restructure. They all know there has to be change made. They all know it's going to take some time and, frankly, some money to make those changes possible. But just when they're all wrestling with that, the government says, "We're going to cut 20% of funding for our hospitals."

It would perhaps be understandable if at the same time the government said last week, "But we're reinvesting that money in community-based care," which would allow beds to close, people to leave the hospital earlier. But no. We were told specifically that that cut from the hospitals wasn't being reinvested. We were told specifically it was clearly part of the money that's being cut out of the budget and used to reduce the deficit and used to fund the tax break.

I would say to the Conservative caucus, listen carefully, because you're all going to have to explain this. You're going to have to explain this over the next few weeks and certainly over the next few months. Listen carefully to the explanation, because the Premier implies this money is going to be put back into health care. That's not the case. It is being taken out of the budget. The government was getting lots of good pats on the back from the financial community last Wednesday for these great cuts in spending. These great cuts in spending included $1.3 billion in hospital funding.

The second thing I want to say on health is on the user fees. This wasn't a promise that somebody twisted your arms to make, but you all ran on a platform of no new user fees. You all ran on a platform that was very specific, because what you're now talking about are copayments outside of the Canada Health Act. The Minister of Health is trying to weasel off a firm commitment that all of you ran on.

People are going to hold this up and say, "Wait a minute," because what you said was: "We reject copayments. We reject user fees. We have a better way, a fairer way, and it's called our fair share health care levy." So all the seniors in the province said: "My gosh, the Conservatives are looking after me. The Conservatives aren't going to put a user fee on me or a copayment. They're going to do it through this fair share health care levy."

In fact you say: "In the last decade, user fees and copayments have kept rising and many health care services have been `delisted' and are no longer covered by OHIP.

"We looked at those kinds of options," -- copayments, user fees, delisting, no longer covering -- "but decided the most effective and fair method was to give the public and health professionals alike a true and full accounting of the costs of health care, and ask individuals to pay a fair share of those costs, based on income. We believe the new fair share health care levy, based on the ability to pay, meets the test of fairness and the requirements of the Canada Health Act."

As of last Wednesday, you have broken, clearly broken, that commitment that all of you made to all the people in this province, and particularly the seniors in the province.

I say to you that on this fiscal document, if I were in the Conservative caucus, I would be going to the cabinet and saying: "This isn't what I ran on. This isn't what I promised. I'm going to be asked some questions that I don't have answers for." I guarantee you that will happen.

The second thing I'd say that's extremely important to the people of Ontario and to all of us is that -- for those people who are watching, what happens around here is that we have what we call a "lockup," where the members of the opposition go into a meeting room, we are what's called "locked up," we stay in that room to be briefed on what's going to be in the financial statement, and then we're let out just as the statement's begun to be read.

Mr Peter Preston (Brant-Haldimand): Your choice.

Mr Phillips: Again, there we go, "Your choice."

Mr Preston: I was here.

Mr Phillips: Yes, there's the member saying, "I was here." I appreciate the fact that the Conservative member who's heckling and saying, "Too bad you were locked up," doesn't realize that it is our obligation to be in that lockup. That's what's expected of the opposition. That's why we're there. The member across -- whoever it might be; I'll find out eventually -- heckling, sitting in here, was party to the fact that tabled here on Wednesday was a bill that I guarantee you you will regret having introduced.

I'll just tell the people of Ontario what it is. It is a bill that is extremely far-reaching. It takes away from people some very fundamental rights. It impacts every single person in this province, and it is clear why it was done. The Minister of Finance made it very clear today, "We have a fiscal problem and we need this to deal with it."

Hon Charles Harnick (Attorney General, minister responsible for native affairs): Yes, that's right.

Mr Phillips: And the Attorney General says, "Yes, that's right."

Hon Mr Harnick: An unprecedented problem.

Mr Phillips: To the Attorney General, sitting here, I would say as directly as I can, I think you should be embarrassed about this bill. I think it tramples on some fundamental rights of people. I don't know how you allowed it to be introduced when what it means --

Hon Mr Harnick: You're wrong.


Mr Phillips: The Attorney General says I'm wrong. I will tell you that eventually, as we all deal with this bill, it is a -- I hope it doesn't sound too dramatic. It's the War Measures Act. It's the Ontario equivalent of the War Measures Act, designed to fight your Common Sense Revolution.

What does it contain? The Minister of Health now has the unilateral right to tell any hospital in this province what it can and what it cannot do, what services it can offer, what services it can't offer -- any hospital in the province.

Frankly, I don't like that. I used to be chairman of a hospital board. We had some pride in trying to reflect the needs of our community. But now the Minister of Health will tell every hospital in this province what services they can and cannot offer. The Minister of Health has the right now to close any hospital that he so chooses. The Minister of Health now has the right to set user fees -- and you ran on a platform, Mr Attorney General, of no user fees. This bill: Why are you introducing it? To go exactly opposite to what you ran on and what you promised in your campaign.

Hon Mr Harnick: We promised we'd reinvest into health care --

Mr Phillips: No, no, no. The Attorney General says -- don't -- well, I wish I could say what I think, but I would be thrown out of the Legislature. You made a solemn promise to introduce no new user fees, no copayments, and that was your promise. No one forced you to make that but that was your promise.

So what we've got here is a bill that allows the Minister of Health -- and as I said before, I'm amazed that the Attorney General, whom I view as a civil libertarian, would allow this to go forward -- to have the most sweeping powers of any Minister of Health in this country. The Minister of Municipal Affairs can unilaterally restructure any municipality he wants -- sweeping powers introduced.

Why? Because they say we've got an enormous deficit problem. I say, if this deficit problem is so difficult, so immense, so overwhelming that we need these extraordinary powers, how can you at one and the same time afford a $5-billion tax cut then? If you need these sweeping powers, how can you afford that tax cut?

I have difficulty imagining that the government plans to proceed to pass this bill before Christmas. They often say there was another bill called Bill 175 that covered more statutes. The fact of the matter is that the Bill 175 introduced by the NDP I think had all-party agreement and it was a bill designed to clean up statutes that needed cleaning up and all parties agreed, "That's the best way to do it. Let's not introduce 30 bills," because it was essentially housekeeping.

As a matter of fact, when Bill 175 was first presented to us, we said, "We've got concerns in these two or three areas. We think they are more significant than you do," and they were taken out of the bill, which is not a bad idea. There should be some piece of legislation that allows, when there's all-party agreement, for us to change legislation around here without debating the full bill.

That bill did cover many acts, but it certainly had, as I recall it, all-party agreement. This bill is very different. This bill touches on the very heart of Ontario, and as I say, in the health area, sweeping powers, in the freedom of information area, which may, for many, not be a huge area, but for people who are suspicious of government, people who believe that government should be as transparent as possible, it makes it more difficult to be that. On municipal affairs, it gives the powers to implement municipal restructuring just through orders in council.

I could go on, but it impacts on the Pay Equity Act in a big way. It tells doctors where they can practise and where they can't practise. It changes the public pension plan. If I were a policeman in this province, or a firefighter, or a hospital worker, an ambulance worker, or a teacher, I would be phoning up people who are responsible for my collective bargaining and I would be saying, "What impact does this bill have on us?" and I would say to the people that it directs arbitrators on how they are going to make awards. Some may like that, but for organizations like our police and our fire and our ambulance drivers, who rely on arbitration as their sole collective bargaining mechanism, this is a very dramatic change for them. I think it dramatically weakens their bargaining position and dramatically strengthens the employer's bargaining position.

You may say that's great, but if you're a firefighter or a policeman, who have fought for this legislation, who have this as their bargaining tool, this fundamentally changes the relationship. It doesn't surprise me, but I surely think it warrants a very major debate, because if in the end there isn't real collective bargaining going on, believe me, people have other ways. They get very frustrated with it -- I've learned that a long while ago -- and they'll find other ways to deal with grievances around collective bargaining if there's no real collective bargaining.

This is the bill that allows the government to do that. I would say that there needs to be a very substantive debate around Bill 26.

As my time runs out, I would just say that the fiscal statement last week fundamentally changes Ontario. Sadly, I think we have a meaner, less caring, less compassionate society than we had before. I think it increasingly is every person for himself or herself, and that's unfortunate. I frankly don't think that's the legacy of the old Progressive Conservative Party, and it's unfortunate, and this bill fundamentally changes Ontario, and that's unfortunate.

The Acting Speaker: Questions or comments?

Mr Tony Clement (Brampton South): I understand the honourable member for Scarborough-Agincourt's concern about whether we, as the government, have the necessary compassion to be a government that can serve the people.

My only response to the honourable member is that it is the government that does nothing over the next four years, it is the government that fails to understand the need to tackle our deficit and debt situation, that is not being compassionate. If we do not do anything, the crushing debt that every man, woman and child has to bear goes from $9 billion a year in debt service payments to $20 billion a year. Under no circumstances is it being compassionate to allow that to happen, because we will not have the services for the unemployed, we will not have the services for those who are less fortunate than ourselves, we will not have the services to educate our children properly, to make sure that our streets are safe for every citizen of this province. That is being uncompassionate.

I share in the honourable member's concern that compassion is a priority of the government. I would put it to you, Mr Speaker, that we are the ones who are being compassionate because we are the ones who understand that our debt has to be put under control to ensure that there are jobs and opportunity for all Ontarians.

Mr Michael Brown: I'm pleased to stand up on behalf of the constituents in my area to commend the member for Scarborough-Agincourt on his presentation. I think Mr Phillips has demonstrated a clear understanding of the numbers.

I'm a little taken aback by the last member's comments. He seems to think that only Conservatives know anything about deficit reduction, when in fact all this spending decrease is to provide for a tax cut, or at least most of it. It has nothing whatever to do with deficit reduction; it has everything to do with making sure fat-cat Tories get good tax breaks. That's what it's about. But the government has selective memory when they look at the Common Sense Revolution and they have selective memory when they read their own financial statement.

Seeing as that's what we're here debating, I would like to call the government's attention to page 32 in the document. It's right here. It's probably too small to pick up on the cameras, but what it shows is that in 1989 there was a balanced budget in this province. And who was the Treasurer of the province of Ontario at that point? It was the Honourable Bob Nixon, who happened to be a Liberal. There wasn't a balanced budget for 20 years before that.


That's what their own document says, and if we read the bottom -- this is also interesting -- it says right here in the text:

"With increased debt have come increased interest costs. This year, about 19 cents of every dollar in revenue the government collects will go to pay interest on the debt. Five years ago" -- that was when there was a Liberal government -- "it was less than nine cents."

So I want to tell these Tories who seem to want tax cuts but not deficit reductions, get with it.

Mr John Gerretsen (Kingston and The Islands): I would just like to follow up on something that was said by the earlier member across the way, and also by the member over on the left here -- he's actually to the right of me, but he's to the left of me -- the member for Lincoln, and that deals with who caused the deficit.

Let me first of all preface by saying that I believe in looking forward, not in looking backwards. We have heard in this House over and over again the government charge that somehow the Liberals and the New Democrats are the cause of our economic problems.

Well, I have a document here from the Fraser Institute -- not exactly a Liberal or a New Democratic organ, I would say. It's probably the most rightward-thinking think tank in this country. It clearly shows that during the period of time from 1981 to 1985, when the Conservatives were in power, the average deficit that was rolled up in each and every year was $2.7 billion per year. You've got to remember, that was at a time when the budgets of the province were something along the line of $10 billion to $13 billion per year.

During the Liberal years, the average deficit annually was $2 billion. So during the first five years of the 1980s, the debt of the province went up by $13 billion, and during the Liberal years that followed that, by less than $10 billion.

I totally agree with them that the NDP government raised it by $50 billion in the next five years, but let's get our facts straight. Let's go back 15 years when we make these comparisons and not 10 years like our friends across the room have been doing.

The Acting Speaker: The time has expired. Further questions or comments? If not, the member for Scarborough-Agincourt, you have two minutes.

Mr Phillips: I appreciate the comments of the member for Brampton South about why we're going through all this pain to get the deficit under control. I just say once again, if this were a battle about the deficit and solely about the deficit, and if all the pain were required to get the deficit under control, I think we could have a reasoned debate. The problem we run into is, by your own admission -- and I do follow the Common Sense Revolution quite clearly. I've been our Finance critic, and during the campaign we had great battles, the three parties, around the finances.

Mr John Hastings (Etobicoke-Rexdale): You laughed at it before.

Mr Phillips: Actually, I did laugh at it. The member over there says I laughed.

Here's the problem that I have. The member for Brampton South says: "This is all about the dreaded deficit. We have to get the deficit under control." Then we find out this isn't about the deficit; this is about a tax break. This is about the tax break, where you've promised to cut taxes by 30% -- $5 billion.

Mr Clement: Four.

Mr Phillips: No, no. He says four. You see, you never look at your own material. Five billion dollars there, from the direct fiscal impact of the Common Sense Revolution.

Mr Gerretsen: It's your document.

Mr Phillips: From your own document.

As I said before, if this were just about the deficit, and if all the hospitals have to be closed because of the deficit, and if all the people on social assistance have to have their rate cut, and if all the municipalities have to cut services, if that were all this was about, I could understand it. But most of this is for a tax cut.

The Acting Speaker: Further debate?

Ms Frances Lankin (Beaches-Woodbine): I appreciate the opportunity to take part in this very important debate about a document that I think is historic in its import and in its impact. I want to take the time I have available for our leadoff response to go through a number of different sectors of the Ontario provincial economy and the Ontario broader public sector to understand, work through, what the impacts are, what the effects will be, and then come back to the bottom line in terms of, does this make fiscal sense, let alone common sense?

As I do that, it's important to set the context. I have to back up and take a look at the period leading up to the last provincial election and during the election itself. That was when the Common Sense Revolution document was first published and much promoted, and of course it became the platform on which the now government ran its election campaign.

There were many marvellous and wondrous promises made in that document. At the time, we found it lacked credibility; that the numbers didn't add up. We said that repeatedly, but it is true that people basically thought it was just political parties of different ideologies and political stripes harping, and they didn't listen to that warning even though it was made over and over again by members of both the Liberal Party and the New Democratic Party.

That's a shame, because I think what we see now, as the document that was tabled last week in this House underscores only too clearly, is that those warnings that the Common Sense Revolution didn't make sense, that the numbers didn't add up, that there were real problems and potentially serious impacts for the province of Ontario -- those warnings were only too true.

It has been important to try and understand how a group of people like the party opposite, the governing party, could have gone through the year leading up to the election and all the way through the election repeating the mantra of the Common Sense Revolution over and over again, never questioning it themselves. Perhaps one might wonder whether some who were the architects of that document in fact knew the inconsistencies in it. It's hard to tell.

It's very hard, as you will well know, Mr Speaker, to find the parliamentary language to question this basic premise. I thought I might have had it on the weekend. I just share with you that I'm an avid crossword puzzle buff, and in the Saturday Star's crossword puzzle, number 123 down -- you might want to check it out -- the clue was, "Was incorrect, on purpose." The answer is a four-letter word that starts with L, in the past tense.

I won't say it, because that would be unparliamentary, but I have to wonder whether there were times during that election campaign when the Premier was in fact inexact, on purpose -- when he said clearly, over and over again, "We will not touch one cent of the health care budget"; when he said in the Common Sense Revolution document itself, "We will not cut health care spending"; when he said during the campaign: "That budget is sealed, that envelope is sealed. It's at $17.4 billion, it'll be at $17.4 billion in 1996, at $17.4 billion in 1997, in 1998."

I'm sure you all said it at the doorstep too. I know the Conservative candidate in the riding in which I ran said it at debates, said it at the doorstep to people, said it in response to questions. Yet shortly after the House resumed in September and we started asking questions about how this could be possible because the numbers don't add up, how you were going to do it, we heard a repositioning of that most important -- in the Premier's own words: "Can't touch health care because it is too important. This is the most important promise we are making, not to touch health care." Yet it starts to get repositioned.

What we hear is, "The commitment really is that when we go back to the people in the next election, the budget will be $17.4 billion." Nothing about what's going to happen now in 1996, 1997, 1998, 1999. That's not what the Premier and those of you opposite campaigned on. It's not the commitment you made to the public. But we sensed, with that dramatic shift and repositioning of the commitment, that there was bad news to come in the economic statement that was tabled last week. Of course, there it was: cuts to health care spending in the major transfers to hospitals, $1.3 billion out of that $17.4-billion sealed, protected envelope that no one will touch, not a cent, "not a penny" -- $1.3 billion cut to the hospital transfers.


We hear some vague promises about: "This money's going to be reinvested. We know there has to be restructuring and reform in the health care sector, and the money we save we're going to reinvest, but we're going to do it wisely, because we're going to save the money first, before we then plan to reinvest it."

Mr Preston: That's novel.

Ms Lankin: The member opposite says it's novel. In fact it's not novel. There have been many other plans. If you'd take a look back, sir, over the last five years and take a look at the health care budget and take a look at the plans for savings and reinvestment and take a look at, for example, in long-term care, the $20 million to be reinvested from chronic care into long-term care community services, in fact those dollars were not expended until the mechanisms were put in place to take the money out of the hospital sector. So please, no lectures on that.

What is so dishonest about what's being said is that there isn't a plan for the reinvestment of those health care dollars in 1996, 1997 and 1998. We don't know where the priorities are. There is a desperate need for restructuring in the health care sector. I said this the other day in the House, to the applause of some of the members opposite. I profoundly believe that there is a need to restructure our hospital services, our institutional services, and to move resources from the institutional sector to the community sector, from the illness treatment end of the system to the health promotion, illness prevention front end of the system.

Mr Hastings: Now you are contradicting yourself.

Ms Lankin: The member for whichever Etobicoke you're from over there is bantering away and interjecting with inane comments. For two years as Minister of Health, I preached the need for this kind of restructuring and reinvestment to take place. I believe profoundly in that need for restructuring. But when you go the one step, to restructure the hospitals and take money out, you have to have, lockstep with that, the reinvestment in the community. We're not seeing that, and this is very frightening.

Communities like Windsor undertook a restructuring, first of all, of their hospital system but then broadened it to understand the whole health system. That is the key. You have to look at the whole health care system, because health care is not doctors and hospitals. That's only a piece of the system. You have to look at the broad spectrum of what's involved in the delivery of health care services and at what's involved in keeping people healthy. I'll talk a little bit later about the determinants of health, many of which lay outside of the $17.4-billion health care budget.

But within that health care system, you have to look at the whole system. In Windsor, they went through an incredible process of community consultation, of examination of all the services on the community level and the hospital level, and in the end they came to the conclusion that they could move from four acute-care hospitals to two acute-care hospitals.

Along with that, however, there needed to be a commitment from the government, which they had from the previous government, for two things.

The first was that the money saved in the hospital operating budgets, from that kind of merger, restructuring, amalgamation, would be reinvested in the very, very needy areas of community service, to take up the slack -- not a very good expression, actually, because in this case it's a very important need -- to take up the demand that would be created and, by the way, in the long run to provide more cost-effective and better-quality health care in terms of the whole spectrum of health care services, fewer gaps.

The other commitment made was that there would be the capital dollars to actually rebuild the physical plant, the bricks and mortar of the two hospitals, to reconfigure them when you're merging four hospitals down to two.

Well, the commitment on the capital dollars is now gone and it appears that the commitment on the reinvestment into the community services there is now gone. How can that community move forward?

Let's go to another community. Let's take a look at Metro. Metro, the largest hospital system in the province, has undergone a huge restructuring report looking just at hospitals here. They have commented on and will comment in their final report on the needs at the community level, but the restructuring was unlike Windsor, which was more a whole health system review. Here, it was a hospital restructuring report.

They have come, through the district health council process and an immense consultation, to the conclusion that a number of hospitals could actually be closed, but attendant with that is the need to merge certain hospitals, to relocate certain services, to ensure that the coverage across the whole Metro area is appropriate. But they will tell you, and I suggest you listen very carefully when their final report comes down -- we anticipate it some time this week; it's at the printer now -- that unless you take that money that will be saved and reinvest it in the community, unless you do that, you do more damage than good to our health care system and to the health of the people in Metro Toronto.

They have taken it a step further, because they've worked very hard to develop an actual plan for the restructuring and how you take the steps and phase in the savings in one area with the reinvestment in the community so that you're not out of step in providing that service. It's tremendous work, but how does it fit within the statement we heard last week from the Minister of Finance?

Well, it doesn't fit very well, for a couple of reasons. The Minister of Finance announced that there will be $1.3 billion in cuts in the hospital sector.

Mr David S. Cooke (Windsor-Riverside): Plus the cuts made in July.

Ms Lankin: In addition to cuts that were made earlier, in July, as the member for Windsor-Riverside points out. That $1.3 billion is coming out over a three-year period.

The hospitals were quite surprised, actually, that it wasn't put out a little further to give them time to get some of these restructuring plans working and in place if they were going to have to take that big a cut. But there's been no information to them about how that's going to be applied. Is that 18% across the board? Is every hospital going to have its budget reduced by 18%, the first amount of that being 5% next year? Is every hospital going to receive that cut? If you do that, you totally throw the cooperative work and consensus-building of restructuring out the window -- totally throw it out the window.

Also, let me tell you, I know from the time I was in that portfolio that medium-sized hospitals will close. They can't absorb that kind of cut. You have to go through the restructuring of merging services, of understanding where efficiencies can be found. You've got to do the proper work. If not, you end up with whole areas of medicine falling through the cracks and people not having access to those services.

So the minister puts in place a provincial restructuring commission to do what? From the ivory office of Queen's Park to pick and choose which hospitals will close, where services will go, where the cuts will be taken? I surely hope not. What a nightmare. If you believe that the capacity to make those kinds of decisions wisely rests within the Ministry of Health, you are sorely wrong.

That is not at all to denigrate the fine people in capital planning and health service planning and all the very important contributions they make to the health system in this province. But believe me, they would be the first to admit to you that sitting here in Toronto, in Queen's Park, they can't tell you how to restructure the community and hospital services in communities like Thunder Bay and Sudbury and Ottawa.

They can't make those decisions without the input of people locally and without the appropriate studies being done, without understanding the demographic changes, the health needs of the population, what services are there, what's missing, where the gaps are, what excess capacity there is. You can't do that out of Queen's Park, but that's what the minister's setting up for himself, a provincial restructuring commission that reports to him and a little piece of legislation buried in this omnibus bill that gives him the unilateral right to close hospitals.


The safeguards that have been in place over the years are there for a reason. The reasons that we built up district health councils over the last 10 years and gave them more important powers and more important avenues of advice and input into health planning in their regions and the ability and the resources to do the studies to give the appropriate advice was for the very reason that you needed to have local people involved in this. You needed to have people from the communities examining their own health systems. You've taken that away.

If you ram through this legislation in eight days and give the power to a restructuring commission and unilateral power to the Minister of Health by regulation -- your Minister of Community and Social Services signed a regulation that inadvertently took away benefits from thousands and thousands of disabled people and said, "Whoops, guess you didn't read it."

I don't mean to make light of that situation, but please understand, on the desk of any minister on any given day the volume of materials and the background materials and what you have to go through -- the checks and balances are in the system for a reason. That's why you have public input. That's why you go out to the community. That's why you get the people who know best how things are being delivered: to have a reasoned debate about the changes that need to be made.

You cannot take out $1.3 billion from the hospital sector without investing in the community end of the health care system and not seriously damage our health system and the health status of our population. You cannot do it.

Maybe this comes back to your commitment. You've promised not to do it, you've promised to reinvest it, but when? What are the reinvestments that we've seen so far? Because the minister likes to make much of this in his comments in the House and answers to questions. Remember what's been cut? In July $132 million; $1.3 billion in cuts to hospitals announced last week.

So what have we got? We have some dollars for treatment for specific injuries, like acquired brain injury. That's good. We have some dollars for treatment of specific illnesses, like kidney dialysis. That's good. We have out-of-country OHIP reinstated to $400 a day. I think there's a debate that could be had about that one, but, okay, that's your priority; you've chosen to do that. That total reinvestment: Do you know how much that adds up to? Anyone, quickly?

Mr Wettlaufer: I'm sure you'll tell us.

Ms Lankin: Sure, I'll tell you. I'm surprised you don't know, those of you who know this stuff inside out, who every time we get up and say anything tell us that we don't know what we're talking about, that you know what you're talking about: $70 million, out of $1.3 billion. That leaves $1.23 billion being cut and $70 million being reinvested, and, by the way, not in the expansion of the community services.

You have stopped the planned expansion of long-term-care services. The dollars that were there to implement greater services in the community you've stopped. At the same time you're making cutbacks in hospital budgets. You've taken away levels-of-care funding, the whole system that was being put in place. How are you going to decide what cuts you're going to make to chronic care hospitals and long-term-care facilities? You've taken the mechanisms away. You've stopped the expansion of the community services. You've taken $1.3 billion out of acute care hospitals.

This is very frightening. There is no plan here. There is no plan, and this is too important, in the words of your own Premier, this is much too important an area to be proceeding in such a piecemeal, out-of-control fashion. Well, that's how it appears to me. I see the member shaking his head, but that's how it appears to me. I spent some time inside this portfolio. There isn't a public policy area that I care more passionately about than the future of our health care system and the need for the reform and the restructuring that must take place and where we need to get to, and I don't see a plan to get us there.

Let me just raise one other thing about this $1.3 billion and this soft commitment for the reinvestment of that. I had the opportunity on Thursday to ask the Premier this question, because it truly is troubling. If in fact the plan is to reinvest those dollars, where is that in the fiscal plan in that economic statement?

Let me tell you what I mean by that. You have a projected deficit next year of $8.2 billion. When you look at all of the numbers in the document, you get to that number when you count the cuts to hospitals. If you're going to reinvest that money next year, your deficit's off, or you're going to have take huge cuts in another area, and the Minister of Finance seemed to suggest that there may not be more cuts coming. I think you've got your answer and I think you should be going into your caucus meeting and demanding to get it a little more up front.

That money is applied directly to deficit reduction, the money that has been taken out of hospitals. It isn't there and available for reinvestment next year or the year after or the year after. We've got a three-year plan there -- $1.3 billion applied directly to the deficit number. It's gone. You don't have it for the reinvestment unless you take dramatic cuts elsewhere to make up for it, which, if we put enough pressure on you, maybe you'll have to do. There may be some scrambling around this. But please, don't stand and tell us that $70 million out of $1.3 billion in cuts is proof positive of a planned reinvestment strategy. It's not there.

Mr Cooke: Surely the tax cut's in that $8.2-billion deficit?

Ms Lankin: I know the member for Windsor-Riverside wants me to talk about the tax cut. That's actually much later in my 90-minute presentation. I'll get to it, okay?

What I want to talk about next is the commitment on user fees. Again, during the campaign I'm sure you heard -- I know I heard, I know the constituents in my riding heard -- the Premier say over and over again: "No new user fees in health care. No new user fees in health care." It was almost like a chant. You know, you could be at some kind of a game with cheerleaders going, "No new user fees." It was a mantra. It was well-received, no doubt about it. Seniors really liked that. They believed that gave them protection, particularly for their drug benefit plan.

In the Common Sense Revolution, in the document that had been out for over a year, it says very clearly on page 6, "Under this plan, there will be no new user fees." You heard the leader of our party today quote from your Premier in 1993, where he said: "A copayment is a user fee. A fee to parents is a user fee. I want a public debate on user fees." He went on in the campaign to say: "There will be no new user fees. This is too important. Health care is the single most important promise we're making. No new user fees."

I hope I'm having an effect, because what do we see? On the day of the dawning of the new world in Ontario with the release of the economic statement last week, we saw user fees in health care, in the drug benefit plan.

I've heard a lot of defences of it. "There are copayments in every other province," many of your members say, but that wasn't your promise. "Maybe it'll help stop seniors from taking too many drugs." I don't believe that. But it doesn't matter; it still wasn't your promise. Your promise was, "No new user fees," and your economic statement introduced user fees.

This is one where you started to waffle a little bit before the economic statement too, sort of knowing that it was coming. Your Minister of Health was quoted as saying, "If we ever do introduce user fees in the Ontario drug benefit program, we'll do it in such a way that poor seniors and the disabled are taken care of and are not hurt."

Is that what you saw? Do you think the fact that every senior, irrespective of income, has to pay $2 for every prescription, every disabled person who is currently in receipt of social assistance benefits and therefore enrolled in the Ontario drug benefit plan has to pay $2 for every prescription --

Mr Douglas B. Ford (Etobicoke-Humber): They do across the rest of Canada.

Ms Lankin: Here we go again. "They do across the rest of Canada. They do in many other provinces." Granted. Boy, oh boy, I guess you weren't here when I used to give answers like that as Minister of Health and looked at what was going on in other provinces. It doesn't seem to matter, the fact that you were the guys that made the promise. Why don't you understand that?

In light of the knowledge that there was a fiscal problem, in light of the knowledge that every other province had copayments, you went out and said: "We can do it. We can do it all. People of Ontario, elect us, elect Mike Harris and his team, and you can have it all. You can have a balanced budget, you can have a tax cut and you can have no cuts in health care and no new user fees." That's the promise you made.

You boxed yourselves in from the beginning. You boxed yourselves in so tight that your Treasurer is scrambling like a little mouse trying to get out of a box to get out of this box that you've boxed yourselves in. A box is a box is a box, and you're in it, my friend. You're in it up to your eyes, let me tell you. You made the promise. It is incredible that you won't accept the responsibility for the fact that you made the promises. You said everything could be done.



Ms Lankin: You know, it's interesting in terms of the interjections that come back across the floor. I'd really like once for you guys just to try and defend your own record on this. Did you not make the promise? When you went to the door, did you make that promise? They've gone quiet, Mr Speaker. I'll address my remarks through you. All of a sudden, no interjections. Interesting.

The user fees that you have introduced are a direct contradiction to the commitment that you made in the Common Sense Revolution and that the Premier made. It's a direct contradiction of the commitment not to have adverse impact on seniors and on the disabled. It's a direct contradiction of the commitment made by the Minister of Health as recently as a month ago where he said if there were user fees, they would ensure that it didn't hit poor seniors and the disabled, and it does.

I mean, you're scrambling. Clearly you're moving so quick, so fast, so ideologically bound to this Common Sense Revolution that you're causing incredible problems for yourself and, may I say, because I don't quite frankly give a darn about the problems you cause for yourselves, what I care about is the problems that you're causing for the people of Ontario and the impact of this on the people of Ontario and what it means to their lives, to their families, to their neighbourhoods, to their communities, to their cities, what it means to the health of our province overall, and I worry very much about that.

Let me talk about another area of commitment that you made in the Common Sense Revolution and during the election campaign, and that's that any of the cuts that you took wouldn't affect classroom spending. Not, "We're going to take cuts and we hope it won't affect classroom spending." Not, "We're going to take cuts and, gee, we know people really care about classroom spending out there and so those school administrators will make sure." None of that. It was unequivocal, absolutely unequivocal: "The cuts that we take will not affect classroom education and classroom spending."

Do you realize that your Minister of Education doesn't even know what percentage of money is spent in classroom and doesn't even have one definition of what is classroom spending? He admitted it. Did you hear that, in answer to a question? He admitted it. He sent out a letter, in fact, to all the boards saying: "Help us. Send in your information. We've got to compile this."

But you took the cuts before you even had that information, and when we look through the document to try and find what are the controls, we see you're going to sit down and talk to the school boards and hopefully persuade them that it won't affect classroom education. You don't have a clue what you're dealing with there. How are you going to make these cuts?

Let me come back to the transfer partners not having any better sense of what it means for them when they're setting their individual budgets. That $400 million, that almost 10% in cuts to schools, to elementary and secondary schools, that you made -- it's only one year of cuts, by the way. I should point out that we don't know what year two and year three will be in that area, unlike health, hospitals at least, where we know what the three-year cuts will be. In schools we only got the first year and they told us there's more to come and we'll find out about that.

So the almost 10%, $400 million: Can any one of you answer? Is that right across the board? Is that sort of 10% of every school board? Is that how you're doing it? Is it more than 10% then for some school boards?

What about for Metro? Well, Metro doesn't get any general legislative grants from the province. So maybe we've got to take all of that whole large area out of the equation. What about Ottawa? What about Hamilton? If these large areas get little or no support through the general legislative grants, does that mean the $400 million have to come out of the rest of the school boards? Does that mean some school boards are going to have as much as 12%, 20%, 40% of their GLGs cut in order to make up this amount?

That's exactly what it means if you're saying it's not going to be done across the board, and one of the members opposite said to me, "No, it's not going to be done across the board." So in your communities -- small, rural, northern communities, southwestern Ontario, eastern Ontario -- whoever's listening, watching this program, it may not be the 10%; it may well be 20% or 30% to your local school board. Stay tuned; that's only year one.

You tell me how school boards are going to do that and not affect classroom education and classroom spending. In fact, the Premier said, "Not a penny would be cut. Classroom spending is sacred," right? Now we see the document, it's not sacred any more. Now it's the best effort -- "We'll try and convince them not to cut classroom spending." That's not the promise I heard during the campaign.

Let's talk about another level of education. Let's talk about post-secondary: a 15% cut to colleges and universities. That's in year one. There, again, we don't know what the long term is going to be. But in addition to the cuts that you've taken, you've also said, contrary to the Common Sense Revolution, that universities, for example, will get an automatic 10% increase in the tuition that students will have to pay and another discretionary 10%; they can take it up to another 10%.

I heard members earlier, in response to that, say: "You don't know that they're going to do it. It's only 10%. That's all we're responsible for." Let me tell you, on Friday I was in North Bay, in Premier Harris's own riding. What did I hear on the radio that morning, just a day and a half after the economic statement? Nipissing U -- tuition's up 20%. They took the additional discretionary 10% just like that. That's happening in university after university across this province.

Mr Jim Flaherty (Durham Centre): So what?

Ms Lankin: So what? Okay.

Now let's move away again from, do you agree with a 20% tuition fee increase or do you disagree with it? Let's talk about the Common Sense Revolution and let's talk about your commitment in there: "We'll keep it to moderate increases in tuition." Can you sit there with a straight face and say that a 20% increase in one year at Nipissing University in Premier Harris's own riding is a moderate increase for those students?

Mr Ford: Are you advocating a free ride for everybody?

Ms Lankin: Now the interjections come again. "Do you advocate a free ride for everybody?" was the member's question opposite.

Mr Wettlaufer: You raised them 42%.

Ms Lankin: No, I'm not talking about me; I'm talking about you. You said everybody could have it all. You said you could have a balanced budget, you could have a tax cut, that there wouldn't be other increases in municipal taxes -- you'd stop that -- that you could protect classroom education, that you could protect health care. You're the ones who said it. You're the ones who said, "We'll make sure it's only a moderate increase."

I'm not advocating anything here in terms of a free ride. I'm talking about your commitments. I'm talking about how, day after day, you're breaking all of your commitments; and you sit there and defend it by attacking the previous record, the 10 lost years, as you call them. I often wonder what happened to the 42 forgotten years, but anyway, that's your defence.

Why don't you defend your own record? You made these commitments, and if you're not going to live up to them, then why don't you say it? You know what? There is nothing wrong with saying: "You know, we made a mistake. We didn't understand. We got into government. We understand it's more complex than we thought in this inane little document called the Common Sense Revolution. Now it's not about politics, it's not about campaigning, it's about governing, and we're going to make good decisions for the people of Ontario."

That's not what you're doing. You're implementing an ideological agenda, taking it page after page even though it doesn't make sense, and then you sit here and defend it by attacking the opposition's past record. It's quite amazing. You make commitments and then you turn around and refashion those and say, "Oh yes, we're still meeting our commitments."

Do you know what's so upsetting about it? Perhaps I shouldn't let this upset me, but Mike Harris was so -- Madam Speaker, you're going to have to help me; I don't know if this is parliamentary -- sanctimonious in his approach about being a straight shooter, a solid guy. He had all the answers and he was going to deliver and he wouldn't back down from his promises. He even signed a promise that, "If I break any one of my commitments, any one of my promises, I'll resign." Well, he's done it every day that I have been sitting here for the last two weeks at least, if not before, and he hasn't resigned yet.


It's really tough to take. "Boy, I'm a different kind of politician." "Boy, I'm better than the rest." "Boy, I know the answers and you're going to get the straight goods from me." It's Mr Tough Guy. There was a skit once where he was portrayed as the Taxfighter, the hotshot with the guns. Well, the hotshot with the guns didn't have the answers and the commitments he's made he's breaking daily. The people of this province are the ones who are going to be suffering as a result of that.

Let me tell you about another commitment that -- well, you know; you all made it. You were all on the doorstep saying: "Not only will we not touch health care, we won't touch classroom education, we're not going to touch law enforcement. We're going to protect that because that is important. Our communities are not safe and we need to have that law enforcement budget. It has to be protected. We're going to do that."

Can you tell me how you've done that? You made a cut to municipal transfers of 43% over two years, and you're moving it into a block grant with no strings attached. So you're saying that you're devolving all of the decision-making -- oh, tough decision-making, by the way -- down to the municipalities so that they're the ones that are going have to sort through this and understand what they're going to be able to do in their budgets or not, and you've done nothing to ensure that the law enforcement budgets are intact. So if Metro ends up taking any of that money out of the policing budget, guess what? Law enforcement's not intact. And you haven't lived up to your promise.

Do you remember saying that? "You can have it all." Let me go through it again, all right? "You can have a balanced budget. You can have your tax break. We won't touch education, we won't touch classroom spending, we won't touch law enforcement." I probably know it as well as you do, I've heard it so often. You've broken every one of those. You haven't protected law enforcement.

I remember something else in the Common Sense Revolution. It says that you're going to make sure that the spending cuts that you take don't result in municipal governments raising property taxes. It's very clear in the Common Sense Revolution. It says, "They will not raise municipal taxes. We will ensure...." Look for the words. I can see my honourable friend opposite digging out his copy. In fact, look, it says, "We will ensure."

I'm waiting till you find it. Oh, you stopped looking for it. Okay.

"We will ensure that they will not raise municipal taxes." What did you do in that economic document to ensure that municipal taxes won't go up? Nothing. In fact, you've given more abilities to the municipalities, not just to raise the taxes, because you didn't have the right to stop that unless you introduced legislation -- you could've put that into the omnibus bill too, but I notice that wasn't there. You centralized a lot of other powers, but you didn't do that.

So the one commitment you said you would do, you would stop municipalities from raising municipal taxes as a result of the cuts, you didn't do that. You've taken other powers away from them, but you didn't do that.

What you did in that bill was, you gave them the power to raise user fees for a whole range of things: parks, garbage collection, recycling. Name it; you've given them the power.

Do you remember, just not long ago, question period, the leader of our party quoted your Premier in 1993 talking about user fees? You'll find it in the Common Sense Revolution and through the campaign: "A user fee is a tax. We will not let taxes go up." You're not going to let municipal taxes go up, you say, but you are. You're not going to allow new user fees to come in, which are just another way of putting taxes on people, but in fact your legislation opens up the door for municipalities to do just that. It says it's open season: "Go, charge whatever."

How is this consistent? How are these actions in the economic statement consistent with the commitments that you made? Well, they're not. Quite frankly, I understand why they're not. I understand the box that you got yourselves in, but boy, I'd just like it if you'd admit it, instead of all of this sort of waffling that's going on and backing out and explaining and spin-doctoring. You know, just come clean and admit it. You are breaking --

Mr Cooke: What was the phrase in the crossword again?

Ms Lankin: The phrase in the crossword, Saturday's Star, number 123 down, the clue was, "Was inexact, on purpose." The answer: four-letter wording starting with L, in the past tense. I'll let you look it up.

Mr Cooke: No, you can say it.

Ms Lankin: Can I tell you what the answer was?

Mr Cooke: Yes.

Ms Lankin: Well, I'm going to let people guess, particularly those who are crossword fans out there. They might want to go back and take a look at that: "Was inexact, on purpose." I think you were inexact, on purpose, in that campaign. Maybe not those of you individually who believed that the leaders of your party and that the architects of the Common Sense Revolution had got it right and had put it all together, who believed in the magic of the formula that was there and went out and sold it like good troupers, but I think you're finding out that you got sold a bill of goods. What's a worse sham is that the people of Ontario were sold a bill of goods during that election campaign.

You touched hot buttons and got people upset about employment equity, and you touched hot buttons and got people all upset about all those welfare cheats; everyone was a cheat. And then you said, "But you know, we can fix it all," and you gave the promise again: "You can have a balanced budget. You can have a tax cut. More money back in your pocket. And we won't touch health care and we won't touch classroom education and we won't touch law enforcement." And your Premier, at the OFA conference, said, "And we won't touch agriculture." Well, you've seen the cuts in agriculture. I mean, it really was a promise that, "You can have it all."

But the member opposite asked me, "Do you believe in people getting free rides?" Well, we all know there are no free lunches and people are realizing that they were sold a bill of goods, sold a promise of a free lunch, and that the free lunch is not coming, and in fact, beyond that, they're going to have to pay a heck of a lot.

You know, there are cuts yet to come. I don't know if you noticed in the economic statement that the range of cuts is somewhere between $4.5 billion and $5.5 billion. It's pretty inexact. That's a little bit of a $1-billion slush fund or leeway there. It's quite amazing to give that kind of range in terms of what you're doing, but there are a couple of reasons for it. In the document itself there are at least three or four areas of spending cuts in which you've just identified how much you want to cut and you don't have the plans for how to go about cutting it. So in your own ridings that you represent, you don't know yet what the impacts of this unknown, unspecified amount of money are going to be.

I would argue that you don't know exactly what it means in terms of the hospital cuts, exactly what it means in terms of the municipalities. You're going to have to wait and see how that folds out. But you've got a general sense. You've got a sense of prediction about what that's going to mean in your own communities.

But there are other areas here where you really don't have a clue what it means because it hasn't been specified. You might have remembered that just before the economic statement, the Chair of Management Board introduced a document or a statement in the House where he talked about $300 million in administrative savings from the administrative internal budget of government, and he talked about how we're going to look at things like consolidation of information technology departments and payroll administration, but the plan wasn't there. There were no specifics in that announcement. I'd like you to go back and take a look at it. All it was was a ballpark, a goal, a target of $300 million.

Well, there is more. If that wasn't shocking enough, to actually take that and include it in the deficit -- remember, this is from the government that stands up and says: "We're going to get our savings first before we plan to reinvest them in health care. We're very clear and methodical. We're not going to count our chickens until they hatch. We're not going to count our savings until we know where we're going to achieve them." Well, there's $300 million with absolutely no plan. It's just a number. It's just a target. If that wasn't surprising enough, what did we find in the economic statement? Another $1.1 billion on top of that to be saved from internal government spending -- ie, not the money that you transfer to transfer partners out there, not the money that is given to individuals through benefits or whatever. Right?

In the internal government spending, $1.1 billion is in fact what you said you're going to find, and you know what you've identified so far? Well, $4 million from land registry offices and $10 million from overhead at the Ministry of Economic Development and Trade, which has virtually lost all of its program areas, so you're taking that money out of administration. But it's $17 million that you've identified. Out of the $1.1 billion plus the $300 million, which is $1.4 billion, you've identified $17 million.


You should be shocked by this, because you've got to realize that those cuts, as they come, are going to affect fundamental services in your communities to your constituents. The people delivering them, the people who work for the Ontario government, who deliver the services on the front line, will be losing their employment, will not have the money to spend at the corner store, so the local economy will be affected.

It's $1.4 billion, and you don't have a clue where those cuts are coming from. This is the government that says: "We're going to be clear, we're going to be straight with people, we're going to let everyone know what's going on. We're not going to count our chickens until they hatch. We're not going to just set out numbers that we don't have a plan to reach." Holy mackerel -- $1.4 billion unknown.

Those are two of the areas. As I said, there are four areas.

Government grants: You set a range, including minor transfers and program grants. You've still got areas to find in terms of grant recipients that are going under review. We don't know whether that means greater cuts to social service agencies that have already had a 5% cut, and how many of them are going to have more. Your ministers have often answered questions saying, "Oh, we're going through that review." You don't know yet. That's another area where we don't know how much is going to be achieved.

Agencies, boards and commissions: You've set $220 million in reductions over two years. You know how much you've identified? Twenty-five million. You have another $195 million to find.

These are really loose targets. I'll tell you, the bond rating agencies shouldn't be so sure of your commitment. You haven't done some of the tough stuff yet. You've made the global announcement, you passed the buck to the transfer payment agencies to do the tough work there, but in your own backyard you haven't identified those cuts yet.

Those cuts are going to have a dramatic effect on this province, on the delivery of services, on the people employed there who deliver those services. It's going to cause a drag on the economy, put thousands and thousands of people in the Ontario public service directly out of work, thousands and thousands in the broader public sector, and the spinoff effect on the economy will take that number upwards of 100,000 people. As a result of your economic statement, 100,000 Ontarians will lose their jobs.

That brings me to the whole issue of jobs. It makes me ask, where is the commitment to jobs? I heard it during the economic statement. I heard the Treasurer say, "Ontarians...deserve a plan that supports job creation." That was page 6. On page 1 he said, "Ontarians want jobs." On page 29 he said, "There is only one real basis for restoring Ontario's fiscal health: people at work in productive jobs." You know something? I agree with every one of those statements. I agree with every one of them.

The problem is that there is nothing in this economic statement to create jobs. In fact, all this statement does is kill jobs. Look at the cuts. Look at the jobs attached to that. Look at the economic spinoff of those jobs. Look at the drag on the economy. Look at all the cuts to business programs like sector partnership, which is not a direct subsidy of an individual business but was a program to bring companies and unions and government together to plan for greater competitiveness of various industrial sectors of our economy -- gone. All the good, forward-thinking work they were engaged in and were pleased with and saw results producing jobs -- gone.

This is not a government that has committed itself to the creation of jobs. The only concrete job creation initiative -- I use those words very loosely -- you even talk about is the 30% income tax cut. We have to really stretch our imaginations on this side of the House to understand how a 30% cut in income tax is a major job creation program. Let me just step through this.

I guess the premise on which the Treasurer suggests that is that if people don't pay as much in income tax, they'll have more disposable income and they'll spend more of that income in the economy. That'll create a consumer-driven demand and therefore there will be an economic glow from that which will create jobs. That's the only cycle I've heard explained.

Mr Preston: By Jove, I think she's got it.

Ms Lankin: The member says, "By Jove, I think she's got it." By Jove, I think you don't, because it doesn't work. Let me take you through that cycle again.

Let's talk about who is most likely to take any disposable income they have and spend it in the economy. If you were going to stimulate the economy by consumer spending, if you wanted to change incomes and tax structures to promote that, what sector, income level etc would you look at to provide the greatest stimulus? That is, which sector would, with any money they get, likely dispose of it in the economy in a way to stimulate consumer demand?

Probably the largest group you would look to are the social assistance recipients that you've just cut by 22% in terms of their benefits. That's money, by the way, that you've taken directly out of the economy. That's money that's not being spent in the local store and in consumer goods of any sort. People are having trouble putting food on their table, let alone paying their rent and having a place to live. Do you think any additional money they have is going to go into some savings fund someplace, in the bank? It's going to be spent.

Now let's move up. Let's talk about if you're going to use the tax system. Of course those people are not paying income taxes. They are paying sales taxes, and that's another whole issue, but they're not paying income tax. Perhaps that was unfair, if you want to use taxation as a tool and that's the approach you want to take.

Now let's take a look at the various income levels.

At a low-income level, where you're still paying taxes, still on the tax rolls, wouldn't it make sense to shift the taxation to give them more of a tax break? Isn't it more likely that would be spent more quickly into the economy and create that consumer demand and create the demand for goods?

Or what about middle-income Ontarians? Middle-income Ontarians are the ones who've often talked about feeling the brunt and the weight of this. They don't have all the tax loopholes that the wealthier have. They don't have all the ways to get breaks from the tax system to write off this investment or that investment, these capital gains. None of that's available to them. They've seen over the last number of years constraint on services while they're still paying all those taxes. It's certainly been a shift in the mindset in the middle-income group about: "Is this all worth it? Where's this all coming to?" What if you gave them more of a tax break? What would happen there? Do you not think more of that would go into the economy?

But that's not your plan. Your plan is -- well, do they have a plan? That's hard to tell after the Treasurer's statements for the last few days. But in the Common Sense Revolution and according to the Premier today they have a plan, and that plan is 30% across the board. It doesn't matter whether you're a low-income, a middle-income or a high-income taxpayer, you're going to get a 30% cut in what you pay. You know what those numbers are, I'm sure; I think you've heard it. But without going into the detail of the numbers -- because I'm not sure that matters as much as the concept -- if you are very wealthy and pay high income tax, the 30% of your income tax is worth a heck of a lot more than the 30% of someone who's earning $20,000, $30,000 or $40,000 a year.

But there's another piece you've got to put in, and this is where the dishonesty of the promise comes in. For that middle-income earner who thinks they're going to get $600 or $700 in a tax break next year -- that's about what the numbers work out to that were committed to in the Common Sense Revolution -- you know what you haven't factored into that? When municipal taxes go up as a result of your government's cut to transfers to municipalities, when the municipality puts a user fee on the blue box system because you cut the recycling grants, or on garbage pickup or any other area, because in your omnibus bill you give them the right to put user fees on anything to raise new revenues at that local level, add all that up with, "Oh, by the way, if you want to send your kid to university in Mike Harris's riding, Nipissing U, it's 20% more in tuition fees."

Start adding tuition fees together with increased property taxes, together with user fees, and that $600 tax cut that I, as a middle-income earner in Ontario, am expecting to get has been spent long before the minister's even had his budget and introduced it. It's gone.


Who is going to benefit? We're talking about the people with the highest incomes in this province. What do you think they are going to do with that income tax rebate they get, that additional nest-egg of, in some cases, $10,000, $20,000 or $30,000 in less tax they have to pay? What do you think they're going to do with that? Do you think they're going to fuel a consumer-driven recovery in the economy? That money's going to go into investments, into stocks, into bonds, much of it offshore, into vacations and into purchase of luxury items. Those are all wonderful things, but they don't create local demand in the economy.

I just walk through this because this is one of the most inane premises that's been put forward, that this income tax cut is somehow going to spur the economy and create 725,000 jobs. I remind you, that was your commitment. Your document says that in the next three years you're only going to create just a little under 200,000 jobs. I don't know where the other 525,000 are going to come from in year four of your government so that you can meet that commitment. It's extraordinary. No one looking at that could take it seriously. It is truly laughable from any economic analysis. Call in the Fraser Institute and they'll tell you that's laughable. So your job commitment's gone too.

Let me back up again. Where did I start? Premier Harris on the campaign trail, all the Tory members in their ridings, saying: "You know, Mr and Ms Ontarian, you can have it all. You can have a balanced budget, you can have a tax cut, and the cuts won't affect education in the classroom and they won't affect health care and they won't affect law enforcement. You're going to get this tax break and it's going to create jobs. There'll be 725,000 new jobs and everything will be wonderful." And it was all a sham. It was all a sham.

Mr Preston: You are repetitive.

Ms Lankin: The member says I'm repetitive. Holy mackerel, the mantra of the Common Sense Revolution has been repeated in this province day after day after day. In this Legislature, since we've been sitting, it doesn't matter what question you ask, the answer you get back is the Common Sense Revolution. Want to talk about repetitive? The way to get a message out -- and you are effective communicators, there's no doubt about that -- the way to make a point is to repeat it, is to illustrate it, is to go over and over it. With all due respect to my friend, I intend to continue doing that.

The last area I want to touch on before I sum up is the whole area of the omnibus bill that has been tabled in this Legislature. I think many people will know the story. I myself, as Finance critic for the New Democratic Party, was in the lockup for the economic statement.

People might not know what that process is. I know there are some new members, one in particular, who said: "Huh, your fault. I was here." I'll tell you, when I was a government member I used to go to the financial statement and budget statement lockups because it was my duty and responsibility to come out of this House and be able to explain what was in that document, to call my local community and meet with groups that night and share that information with them. I believe that is your responsibility as well, as an elected member representing a constituency.

In any event, there is always some secrecy around these documents until the time the Treasurer stands up and actually delivers the statement. It's hard to know why there was with the economic statement. Usually those rules are there because there's tax information or whatever, and it could be of some benefit to someone if they knew in advance what those changes would be; they might be able to cash in in a big way on that. So there's secrecy around it and protection. It also, of course, provides the government with an opportunity to structure its own communications opportunities, which every government would want to do in terms of presenting that information to the public.

There we were, many of us, in the lockup going over the statement, meeting with officials from the Ministry of Finance, asking questions about it, trying to understand it, becoming very familiar with how unclear it actually was, how there was no real information about the nature of some of the cuts and that there were just targets and goals; how in terms of the bottom line on the deficit of $8.2 billion there was no room for reinvestment of the health care dollars that we had been told by the Premier was what the intent was; how the tax cut hadn't even been factored in in its entirety in terms of its cost. If you're to stick to the plan in the Common Sense Revolution, none of that was there.

We were going in and asking all these questions and trying to understand all of this so we could go back and talk to our constituents and so we could raise questions here in the House.

The Chair of Management Board stands in his place and tables a bill, the most phenomenal omnibus bill that has ever been seen in the history of the province of Ontario. The Finance minister and your government House leader stood in his place today and chanted off about a previous bill that affected some 100-odd acts, whatever. I really urge new members to go back and take a look at that, to take a look at the nature of those amendments, the housekeeping amendments that were brought together, to years and years of the ministry wanting and needing minor amendments to pieces of legislation and there never being enough legislative time, because governments of course are going to deal with their priority; putting it all together, sending it over to the opposition party, saying: "What do you think of this? Do you agree? We think these are all minor," having the Liberal opposition party at that time raise concerns about a couple of areas, saying: "No, we don't think this is so minor. We want this separated." We said, "Okay, fine." We pulled that out, then we proceeded, all-party agreement, to do routine housekeeping. That is nothing like the bill that was tabled here in the Legislature.

I don't know if you've even all had a chance to read it yet, because it wouldn't have been printed in your books until today, but this is what was tabled as the actual bill. Along with that there were compendium documents. The compendium documents, together with the bill, stack this high. May I mention that many of the acts that are being amended weren't included, so you've got to get them and it would probably take it from there to there.

You've got to go through all of that in detail, if you're doing your job, to understand what the impact of those cuts is. Do you have any idea, guess even, at how long it would take to have a good understanding of that piece of legislation, to look at all the compendium documents? Have you tried to figure that out? We took a look at it and each of the sets of documents, the compendium documents, and even the original tabled version of the bill are not numbered consecutively through, so we had to do some work at trying to figure out what exactly is there. But we believe that it's over 2,200 pages, and that's not even with the full text of the acts that are being amended.

We tried to do a little bit of work, just some assumptions. If you assumed that a member of this Legislature can read dense, legislative text, legal references, amendments to other acts -- you've got to pull it out and read it to understand it in the context -- if you figure they could read that and understand it and absorb it quickly, at the rate of about 30 pages an hour -- is that unreasonable? I don't think so. In that case, just to read this material that you have tabled would take more than 74 hours. So if any one of you sat down and read through this material at the rate of eight hours every day straight, no breaks -- eight hours a day -- it would take you more than nine days to read the materials.

Your House leader said we've got eight days to actually debate the bill and pass it. You're not even going to understand what the impact of some of these things is. I think we should tell people listening what all's involved in this. It's not just amendments.

It actually creates three new pieces of legislation: the Public Sector Salary Disclosure Act, the Ontario Loan Act, the Physician Services Delivery Management Act. Those are three brand-new pieces of legislation.

It repeals two acts: the Public Halls Act and the Bread Sales Act. I can't imagine what those have to do with public sector restructuring or your fiscal agenda or whatever.

It amends 44 acts: the Corporations Tax Act, the Income Tax Act, the Capital Investment Plan Act, the Highway Traffic Act, the Ministry of Health Act, the Public Hospitals Act, the Private Hospitals Act, the Independent Health Facilities Act, the Ontario Drug Benefit Act, the Prescription Drug Cost Regulation Act, the Regulated Health Professions Act, the Health Insurance Act, the Health Care Accessibility Act, the Expenditure Control Plan Statute Law Amendment Act, the Pay Equity Act, the Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act, the Municipal Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act, the Public Service Pension Act, the Ontario Public Service Employees' Union Pension Act, the Municipal Act, the Municipal Franchises Act, the Municipality of Metropolitan Toronto Act, the Ontario Unconditional Grants Act, the Public Utilities Act, the Regional Municipalities Act, the Regional Municipality of Haldimand-Norfolk Act, the Regional Municipality of Sudbury Act, the Regional Municipality of Waterloo Act, the Regional Municipality of York Act, the Conservation Authorities Act, the Public Transportation and Highway Improvement Act, Local Roads Boards Act, Milk Act, Forest Fires Prevention Act, Lakes and Rivers Improvement Act, Public Lands Act, Game and Fish Act, Mining Act, Ministry of Correctional Services Act, Fire Departments Act, Hospital Labour Disputes Arbitration Act, Police Services Act, Public Service Act, School Boards and Teachers Collective Negotiations Act.


It goes on and on and on. These things aren't even related to each other. I've spent time this weekend reading through this bill, without having the other acts that it was amending, because they weren't provided as they're supposed to be, and I'd had this material and all the compendium documentation at home. I could only get through the bill three times and had a whole list of questions in trying to understand what these provisions meant. In some of them you're going to have to get legal interpretations.

How can you do your job and how can I do my job representing my constituents in debate on this bill when it's going to be rushed through, rammed through, in eight days? All of these complex, major public policy issues strung together, where we each have one half-hour to speak on it as members of the Legislature, and we won't even all have that in terms of the amount of time that's available, and no public discourse, no opportunity for the very groups that are going to be affected by this to see the legislation, to do their analysis and to provide it. They can't do that in the amount of time that's left before December 14. This is extraordinary, absolutely extraordinary.

Just a few of the things the bill does, Bill 26. Infamous number; we will never forget that one. The bill rolls back laws on pay equity for women, proxy method of determining pay equity. If you believe in pay equity, if you believe in the principle, you will know that there are plans where in some workplaces you can actually find the job of a male comparator to develop your plan around, but there are workplaces that are predominantly female or all-female workplaces.

One of the best examples is a child care centre. Most of those employed in child care are women. There are some men who work in there, but it is a female-dominated job class and there are no male job classes in a child care centre to compare to. So the proxy method was developed where they could look at an organization -- for example, a child care within the Ontario public service that has a large number of ministries and a huge number of other jobs where they can make a comparison and determine what an appropriate comparison and an appropriate adjustment would be, and by proxy take that percentage of adjustment, not the actual wage rate but the nature of the adjustment, into those workplaces. That's being done away with.

Know what other little gems are in there? If you're an employer and you've negotiated a plan or you've posted a plan, you've got a schedule of payments that you have to meet, you don't have to meet the schedule of payments any more. It's gone. You've reached in to past plans that have already been posted, people who are already depending on that money coming, and said, "No, no, no, an employer doesn't have to pay it out on that schedule any more." You don't say what they have to replace it with. That's just from a quick read at it.

Your bill deregulates drug prices.

Hon Mr Harnick: You just delisted them.

Ms Lankin: Those of you who made much of the point that every other province has a copayment for drugs -- and I heard you -- do you know that every other province has a law that regulates the price of drugs as well, and you're doing away with that?

Hon Mr Harnick: Then there is the NDP, who delist the services and pay 100%.

Ms Lankin: The Attorney General walks in after a long absence and starts piping from the time he comes through the door to his chair. Perhaps you could just listen for a moment and know what the debate's about before you pipe up.

Hon Mr Harnick: I picked it up. I'm really sharp about these things.

Ms Lankin: Yeah, you're really sharp.

It deregulates drug prices. What's that going to mean, not just for the Ontario government, but for people who are not under the Ontario drug benefit program? What's it going to mean for your constituents, your neighbours? I suggest it's going to mean higher drug prices for all Ontarians very quickly. You've got to take a look at it. You've got to understand it. You should have public hearings. You should allow people to --

Mr Ford: How do you know all these things?

Ms Lankin: The member asks, how do I know all these things? I suppose none of us know with equanimity all of these things, but I did spend two years as the Minister of Health dealing with the pharmaceutical industry and taking a look at the drug benefit plan, and I suspect -- it may not be true -- I might know just a little bit more about it than some others who didn't have that opportunity.

So I speak from that experience when I say I think this is a very dangerous move and I think that it requires full public hearings, because I believe that you will want to hear the concerns, and you may want to amend how you're going to implement it. Even if you're determined to implement it, you may want to amend it after hearing from people and after hearing from opposition. But you don't have the time. You don't have the opportunity built into the system, because you're going to ram it through in eight days and not listen to anybody. So you won't even know.

I suspect most of you don't even know what's in that little schedule piece of the bill, how it goes about deregulating. I'm sure if the media put a microphone in front of you right now and asked you to explain it, you couldn't do it. You probably haven't even seen it, most of you.

Hon Mr Harnick: Only Frances can do it.

Ms Lankin: The Attorney General says only I can do it. I can't do it. I spent the weekend going through this trying to understand it, again without the acts that it's amending, because those weren't provided and we didn't have them all at our fingertips at that point in time. You can't understand it that quickly. The minister wasn't here when I pointed out that there are over 2,200 pages in the bill and the compendium documents, and that a member reading that dense legislative text at the rate of 30 pages an hour for eight hours a day would take nine days just to read it. That's without any attempt at trying to understand it, cross-reference it, get legal opinions. It's impossible. This is not a government that wants to have any kind of debate on this or any kind of sunshine on the process, public understanding.

The bill takes from municipalities rights that they have with respect to protection of their own borders and boundaries, and it gives the power into the ministry, amazing powers to the Ministry of Municipal Affairs and Housing to restructure municipalities, to amalgamate, merge, annex. It's stunning that you should feel that this is appropriate. Many of you have been involved in municipal councils, but you think that the Ministry of Municipal Affairs and Housing and the minister should, by regulation in cabinet, be able to annex municipalities, amalgamate municipalities? Ho.

You're shaking your head. I'm surprised. I would not believe most of you, particularly those of you who come from the political point of view more akin to the Reform Party, who believe in the rights and controls being at the community level and in the powers remaining there and in people having a say over their own destinies, that you would agree that big, bad state, central government should be able to pull in all the power to itself and to a minister to sign a letter and decree that municipality X no longer exists, that it's merged, amalgamated, that its services are changed, that its tax base is changed, without any say from the municipality.

That's what the bill allows. I'm not exaggerating. Read it. That's what the bill allows for. You haven't read it. Please, pick it up and read it. Understand what it is that you're doing. Understand the powers you're giving to your own cabinet, because I think many of you would disagree with that, what I know of the political perspectives that you hold.

Totally unrelated public sector restructuring, totally unrelated to the fiscal savings that you talked about; there's a whole bill in there that guts the laws that require cleanups of pollution when you're closing a mine, the cleanup of all the tailings, the environmental obligations on the part of mine operators. What does that have to do with public sector restructuring or with your fiscal agenda? Nothing. It's a whole piece of legislation shoved in there under this one umbrella. It's not related at all.

You know, of course, that it gives government more powers over hospitals and doctors. Government doesn't have to listen to anyone before closing a hospital. In fact, you've set up a central restructuring commission which bypasses all of the good work being done by district health councils, and you put the power in the hands of the Minister of Health that by a stroke of a pen he can close a hospital. It's unprecedented. Those powers don't exist in this province, until you pass that legislation, for very good reason.

I spoke earlier about how wrong it is to assume that the wisdom of how health restructuring should be done rests within Queen's Park, at the heart of the province. You've got to go out to the communities to understand what the real impact is. This is very, very dangerous.

It repeals existing laws -- get this one -- that give preference to Canadian-owned non-profit health care providers in setting up independent health clinics. The minister says, "Oh, no, no, no, it's not because we have a desire to bring in American for-profit." Well, why are you doing that? You have to assume, when you put all the pieces together, that you have a plan to move, widespread, into the delivery of health services through independent clinics, for-profit, American-run.


This is not medicare, friends. That piece of legislation is critical to the integrity of the not-for-profit, quality delivery of health care services guaranteed under medicare. I know you don't like those words. That's what medicare is all about, my friend. That is what medicare in this country is all about. That is what the quality of services is --

Mr Hastings: A universal waiting line.

Ms Lankin: A universal waiting line. What are you talking about? Please, what are you talking about? Take a look down south of the border. Take a look at the universal waiting line for hundreds of thousands of Americans who have no coverage at all. That's what you're importing into this province. That's what you're bringing here.

You're tearing apart the finest health care system. It's not a system that doesn't require change. No one in this House would argue that. Of course it does, and those plans are unfolding and people in communities are planning for the change. And what are you doing? You're opening it up to for-profit American operators to come in and deliver health care as independent health care clinics. Why? Why are you doing that?

Okay, back off a second, Frances. Even if you think that's a good idea, shouldn't that be something that you let the public talk about? Shouldn't it go out to hearings? Shouldn't we have an opportunity to examine what that means for the future of health care delivery, even if at the end of the day you decide as a government it's a good idea?

I don't believe you've had any conversation with your constituents on this issue. I don't believe it for a moment. I know I haven't. I didn't know you were contemplating this. I haven't talked to my constituents about whether they think this is a good idea or not. I suspect I know what the answer would be, but I haven't had that discussion. How am I supposed to do that in the eight days that you ram it through and have no public debate, when I have to be in the House to participate and debate on it? Come on, take a look at what you're doing.

Of course, it rewrites rules for bargaining with police officers, with firefighters, with hospital workers and other workers in the broader public sector. I'm sure this is an area where we will part in opinion, if we haven't already so far today, because I believe that there are many of you who will not be sympathetic to the arguments I'm making.

But I want you to understand the history of interest arbitration. We're not talking about grievance arbitration here. We're talking about arbitration of collective agreements, of terms and conditions and benefits and wages in those sectors which do not by law have the right to strike.

I'm sure those of you who are familiar at all with labour relations will understand that this system of arbitration and the rules that govern it were set up to replicate what occurs in free collective bargaining, and that's very important. If you take away the basic tool that's available to workers, the withdrawal of their service by law because of the essential nature of the service that they provide, if you say that they don't have the right to strike, the system that you've replaced free collective bargaining with must attempt to replicate free collective bargaining.

This series of bills that you have put in fetters the arbitrator in doing his job. It sets new conditions that the arbitrator must consider, one of them being the ability to pay. You would think that's a reasonable thing. You would argue, I'm sure, "Well, if the municipality doesn't have money, then that has to be taken into account." But I ask you to take it a step further and to understand what the implication of that is.

By extension, when you put the requirement or the criterion to examine the ability of the employer to pay, to examine the economic circumstances in the province, to examine the service levels that are required in the community, to examine the need for qualified staff -- these are the things that are in the bill as I read it on the weekend -- you know what you do? You bind the arbitrator and you set us down a road where you're saying you expect public service workers to subsidize the cost of the delivery of public services; that no longer is there a fair process that will actually try to replicate what happens in free collective bargaining and will look at the non-legislated, non-right-to-strike sector and say, "If they were out in the private sector and in the free collective bargaining sector, what would the wages be?" and look across sectors. You've taken away the ability for the arbitrator to do that and you've moved us down the road to saying to public sector workers, "Thou shalt subsidize the cost of delivery of public services."

That's not to say that there shouldn't be pressures on wages: in good times pressures to bring them up and in tough times pressures that restrain them. Of course that happens and we've seen that happen in this province. We've seen responsible trade union leaders come forward and understand and say: "Listen, we're not talking about a wage increase. What we want is job security protection for our members. We understand that keeping the jobs is more important right now than getting an increase in wages."

Unions understand and have brought forward these proposals in the public sector, and yet you've stepped into the process and you've taken away the ability for arbitration to replicate free collective bargaining. The minister calls this and the many other things that I talked about in those 47 different acts and the three new bills and the two repeals the tools in his tool chest that are required to implement his economic statement.

Most of them have very little to do with being tools and most of them, if in fact they are tools, are an incredible shift in the balance of power in this province, an incredible shift away from working people, just as your tax policy is an incredible redistribution of income from low incomes to high incomes, a depressing of the lowest incomes, those on social assistance, a freezing of minimum wage, a capping of pay equity payments and elimination of proxy pay equity method, all to provide a huge tax break for the highest-income people in this province.

It's not something I'm very proud of in our Ontario. In fact, it's something that I find quite immoral, in terms of its motivation, but that is the program of this government.

I guess I'll wrap up in saying that it's very difficult, day after day, to know exactly where your government is headed. The economic statement is very unclear in terms of the impact of the cuts in many areas. In the transfer payments there are global numbers. We don't know how they're going to be applied. The transfer payment agencies can't do their budgets yet. We don't know what the impacts will be. In the internal budget, the $1.4 billion cumulative in cuts, you've only identified something like $20 million of what that will be. We don't know the rest of those cuts.

We heard a commitment from you during the campaign that you wouldn't cut health care. We've now seen $1.3 billion being cut from hospital budgets, applied against the bottom-line deficit reduction -- not there available for reinvestment, as we often hear the Premier say.

We heard a commitment for no new user fees. We see user fees having been implemented in the drug benefit program. We heard the Minister of Health say, "Even if we do break that promise" -- he didn't say that, but that's what's inferred -- "and introduce user fees, it won't affect low-income and poor seniors or the disabled." It does; it covers everybody.

We heard a promise that you wouldn't make cuts to classroom education. You've cut just about 10% -- $400 million. No plan at all to prevent it from touching classroom spending, and most of the school boards are saying: "Of course it'll affect classroom education. There isn't enough room anywhere else." The minister doesn't even know what's classroom spending and what's not. He's got a survey out there trying to gather that information; he doesn't have that information yet.

We heard a commitment that you would only allow modest increases in tuition fees -- 20% to universities, 15% at colleges. That's not modest.

Hon Mr Harnick: About the same as yours.

Ms Lankin: The minister opposite says, "The same as yours." I'm not talking about our promises; we're talking about your promises. The Common Sense Revolution is your document. You are the ones who promised you would hold tuition fees to a moderate increase. You're the ones who announced university increases at 20% and college tuition increases at 15%. You're the ones who promised not to allow the cuts to affect law enforcement.

Hon Mr Harnick: You're the ones who gave us the $100-billion deficit. You were the ones who raised fees. You guys have very selective memories.

Ms Lankin: The Attorney General's the one who's interjecting here. You show me where in the economic document there is any protection of law enforcement dollars.

Cuts to the municipalities: Move it all into a block grant. It just moves it out there and says, "You make the decisions." There are no controls in there to protect the policing budgets in those municipalities.

Talking about municipalities, the Common Sense Revolution makes a commitment that there will be no pass-on of these costs or these cuts in terms of municipalities increasing property taxes. Nothing in the statement, nothing on that front now.

The Common Sense Revolution says, "We will ensure that municipalities don't pass this on by increasing taxes at the lower level." You're not ensuring it. In fact, you're rolling it into one block grant, putting it down to them and saying: "You make do. You make the tough decisions."

On top of that, you're passing legislation in this omnibus bill that will give municipalities the right to introduce user fees where before they would have had to have legislation. Your Premier said: "A user fee is a tax by any other name. We will not have taxes increase at the municipal level or at the provincial level." He has introduced user fees and he is passing legislation to let municipalities introduce user fees for garbage pickup, for recycling, for a whole range of things. We don't know how innovative they will have to be to make up for the cuts you have made.

On the tax cut, you promised it was going to create 725,000 jobs, and we've been through this afternoon how improbable and unrealistic that is, how wrong in its economic theory that is. It hasn't worked in other jurisdictions. Just take a look at the Reagan years and the Reaganomics. It's exactly what they tried to do, the trickle-down theory. In fact, their deficit increased through that period of time. It ballooned during that period of time, and jobs weren't created as a result of the income tax cut.


In order to pay for an income tax cut that's going to primarily benefit the wealthiest people in this province, we are seeing poor people's incomes lowered. We're seeing seniors and disabled having to pay user fees on their drugs. We're seeing hospitals get money yanked out of them and put against the deficit, not reinvested where we need it in community care in order to effect the restructuring. We're seeing money taken out of schools that is going to affect the classroom education for our children. We're going to see municipal taxes go up, user fees be introduced, higher tuitions.

For the middle-income person, that tax cut they're going to get is going to be spent twice over before they even get it, all in the name of giving a big tax break to the wealthiest, highest-income people in this province. Why?

Mr Trevor Pettit (Hamilton Mountain): You took it away from them in the first place.

Ms Lankin: The answer: The member opposite said because we took it away in the first place. In fact, you know, we are right. We introduced, at the top end, additional surtaxes for the wealthiest people in this province and we took people off the low end of the income tax roll. We believe that that made the system fair, that that brought fairness to the income tax system based on an ability to pay.

The myth that we hear across here that we are the highest income tax rate in all of North America: I'll tell you, you look at middle income, and in fact we are right in the middle. We are third-highest at the marginal rate at the highest end, and there's nothing wrong with that. If you believe in progressive taxation, if you believe in people paying taxes based on their ability to pay, if you believe in us all pulling our fair share in this society based on our ability to do so, then that is the exact right way to go.

But the member opposite here says, "The reason we're doing it is because you increased taxes at the top and we want to give those poor people" -- not poor as in low-income -- "those sad people, those heavily taxed people, those wealthy, high-income people, a break so that they can invest more in offshore stocks and bonds, so that they can buy luxury items that are not produced in this country."

It's not going to stimulate the economy, it's not going to create the jobs and, I say again, I believe it is immoral. I don't think that's too strong a word. I think when you are making poor people pay through hardships of losing their homes, not being able to feed their kids, not being able to clothe themselves in the wintertime -- and don't look at me like that. You go out on the streets of Toronto and meet some of these people. Meet them in the lineups of the food banks right now.

When you were doing that, when you were taking money out of our health care system that you promised to defend, when you were breaking every promise that you were elected on -- every promise that you were elected on. Don't shake your head. Absolutely every key promise: not touching health care, not touching classroom education, not touching law enforcement -- every key promise you are breaking. Why? To give a tax break to the wealthiest people in this province.

In the course of the last two months I have had discussions with many people in the business community and many people who come from high-income households as well. It started slowly, but more and more, people are saying, "I don't think this is a good idea." I have a colleague who met with the chamber, and to a person, except one, at that chamber meeting, they said: "I don't think this tax break's a good idea; it shouldn't come now. We should slow down the cuts and we should pay off the deficit before the turn of the century. We shouldn't do this tax break."

More and more people are saying: "I don't want this money when I see the pain that it is causing, that it's driving the cuts to be as deep as they are and as fast as they are and as far as they go. I don't want that. Mike Harris, I don't want your blood money."

More and more people are saying no, and I hope you will listen. I hope you will listen. Slow down the nature of the cuts, the speed of the cuts, the depth of the cuts. Balance the budget faster. That's what people want in this province.

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

Mr Doug Galt (Northumberland): Congratulations to the member for Beaches-Woodbine for lasting the whole 90 minutes. It was a very compassionate speech. She's an excellent orator.

I am concerned about the warnings that you talked about to begin with. You talked about the warnings from the CSR and you talked about the warnings of the cuts to welfare, 21.6%. I would point out to you that we still are the highest in North America, the highest in Canada, more than 10% above the provincial average. Our people on welfare can't be that terribly off when we're that far above the other provinces.

I think the real warnings are the deficit. The real warnings are the spiralling debt that we've been going through: a deficit of some $9 billion, a debt of almost $100 billion. By the end of this decade, if we don't do something about it, if we remain the status quo that we've gone through in the last term of government, it'll be approximately $20 billion or 40% of the taxes that are coming in.

Nine billion dollars is more than we're spending on hospital care today. Nine billion dollars is more than we're spending on education in total in this province. As a matter of fact, the deficit and the interest are just about the same. If you people hadn't borrowed so much and put us so far in debt, today we're taking in enough money to supply all of the services in this province that we need to be supplying.

I'm hearing from across the House an awful lot of criticism from the opposition about what we're doing, but really, your role happens to be to give some alternative suggestions. You said in the last election that in three years you would balance the budget with no spending cuts. That must have been through tremendous increases in taxes.

Ms Lankin: No.

Mr Galt: Oh, yes, you did.

The Liberals said they would only cut by $2 billion and they would balance in four years. Maybe the candidate in our area didn't understand the platform of your party, that they were going to have no spending cuts but balance in three years.

Mr Gilles Bisson (Cochrane South): I would like to congratulate the member for Beaches-Woodbine for what I thought was a most informative speech. Like always, the member for Beaches-Woodbine makes sure to research her material and to inform the people of this House and the public on the matters before us.

I just want to comment on a couple of parts of what she talked about. One of the things is that there was a comment made by one of the Conservatives across the House during her speech, when she was talking about health care. He described our health care system as being -- and I want to put this on the record -- our universal system of health care being a universal lineup.

I think that just shows us where this government is at and where this Conservative Party is at. They don't believe in public services. They certainly don't believe in our public health care system as it stands. They want to see an opening up of our health care system so that in the end the private sector can play a much larger role, because ideologically that's where they want it to go. So let's not delude ourselves about what this government is all about.

The member also made, I thought, a most interesting point -- and I think really the crux of what's going to be happening in this House over the next couple of days -- and that is what is found within Bill 26. I won't read the act because it's so long, but the point is there are 44 pieces of legislation here. She made a point that there are a number of things within this act that have nothing to do with what is termed as savings and restructuring within the act.

The government brings this forward and says, "This is in order to allow us to save the money and to restructure government so that we can save money in the end."

I only want to point something out here. There's section 237. This is most amusing, and I wonder what it has to do with restructuring. It says, "Bylaws may be passed by the council of a local municipality regulating or prohibiting the playing of bands and of musical instruments...." What in heck does that have to do with anything about restructuring? I guess they're saying, "No more music in Ontario after this act is passed." It's amazing.

Mr David Tilson (Dufferin-Peel): The member for Beaches-Woodbine has raised a number of issues, and one of her comments had to do with the Savings and Restructuring Act. She asked the question, why are these things being done? Well, we have to take drastic measures. As one of the previous speakers, in reply, commented, the interest we're paying on our loan is now somewhere between $9 billion and $10 billion. The debt is $100 billion. If we didn't do anything, which is basically what the New Democratic Party under former Premier Rae said, "No change, no taxes, no cut in taxes, no restructuring" -- that was his message --

Mr Bisson: No.

Mr Tilson: I'm sorry. You say no, but it was his message. He said he was not going to reduce taxes, he was not going to get into restructuring because of the programs that are needed in this province.

Mr Bisson: Point of order.

Mr Tilson: The problem we have in this -- you don't have a point of order.


Mr Bisson: The member is --

Mr Tilson: I want my time back. He's eating up my time. I'm not going to let you blather on. You can listen to me.

The Acting Speaker: Would the members come to order, please. Continue with your statement.


Mr Tilson: I can only say that the answer as to why is because we don't have any choice, because of the terrible position that your government -- and you are a former Minister of Health, you are a former minister of a number of things. We put much of the root of our problem in this province on your former government. It's drastic, it's terrible as to the position that we've been left in this province.

The understanding I have is that instead of $9 billion at the turn of the decade, that interest would be $20 billion. We can't sustain that sort of thing. So whether it's health care, whether it's education, our promise is being committed. The $17.4 billion is going to be honoured, so don't hold up your "Not a penny" argument.

Mr Bisson: You said you wouldn't touch health care.

The Acting Speaker: The member for Cochrane South, come to order.

Mr Tilson: The promise is going to be kept. We are keeping our promises, which isn't what you did in your government.

Mr James J. Bradley (St Catharines): I listened with a good deal of care to the comments of the member and I was pleased to note that she mentioned Bill 26, the huge, massive government financial bill that they have presented, a budget bill that they've presented to the Legislature, which contains provisions for the amending of some 43 acts of the Ontario Legislature, which has, I believe, three new acts which would be passed and two which would be removed.

This is a massive bill. It deals with a number of items, as the member has mentioned, that have little to do with one another, and it seems to me that when we are dealing with the financial statement of the minister, what was more important as it emerged was the massive new budget bill the government had introduced and wishes to have passed before Christmas, presumably in order that the members of the government can flee to the warmth of Florida in the new year.

I know that the member mentioned that we in the opposition are prepared to sit right through the Christmas holiday if necessary, but we understand there are people who have family considerations and wish to get together. I understand that and I want to be flexible. But we are certainly prepared to come back immediately in January, and in February and March, to deal with these matters, because we know that the provisions of that bill, as the member has noted, require careful scrutiny by members of this House. I know that all of the government members, at least the ones who have been here for a while, know that this bill is a major mistake on the part of the government, that it should be separated and that there should be public hearings and full consideration of its provisions.

The Acting Speaker: The member for Beaches-Woodbine, you have two minutes to sum up.

Ms Lankin: I'm glad that the member for St Catharines actually mentioned the fact that there is a commitment from both the Liberal Party and the New Democratic Party to sit through the Christmas period and/or through January and February. It is very important --

Hon Dianne Cunningham (Minister of Intergovernmental Affairs, minister responsible for women's issues): That's news.

Ms Lankin: I hear someone say, "That's news." In fact, that was made clear during question period today.

We believe profoundly that this omnibus bill must be split, must be dealt with in some discrete packages that make policy sense, so there can be a rational debate, and that there needs to be public hearings on many of these pieces. We're prepared to sit through to see that happen. I noticed a lot of the members, perhaps with a little more bravado than they intended, said, "Yeah, yeah, yeah, we're prepared. We'll sit here. We'll be here too," a lot of the Tory members. I'm glad. I hope you'll convince your House leader of that.

If I could say to the member for Dufferin-Peel and to the member for Northumberland, I appreciate their comments in which they talked about the previous government's record and in which they talked about the size of the debt and the size of the deficit. There is much we could debate about the reasons and how we got there and whether or not the government attempted to take steps to bring down the cost -- I can remember a $4-billion expenditure reduction program and a $2-billion social contract -- but I can't dispute the fact with you that there is a very large deficit and a very large debt, and that it is important and needs to be dealt with. I don't dispute that.

The member for Northumberland stood up and said, "You know, we pay as much on debt interest as we do on hospitals." I used to say that when I was defending the $4-billion expenditure reduction program and the social contract, so I know those numbers, I know those briefing notes. I've been in that movie; I've seen it.

What I want to suggest to you is that it is not credible to believe that your number one priority is the debt and the deficit when you're prepared to borrow $30 billion over the next five years to pay for the tax break for the wealthiest people of this province. That makes no sense, common sense or otherwise.

The Acting Speaker: Further debate?

Ms Isabel Bassett (St Andrew-St Patrick): Madam Speaker and honourable colleagues on both sides of the House, I am privileged to rise in the Legislature today and to speak for the first time on the economic statement that was delivered by the Finance minister last week.

I am proud and privileged to represent the people of St Andrew-St Patrick, and I want to say a few words about my riding since this is, after all, my maiden speech.

St Andrew-St Patrick elected Allan Grossman to this cabinet at a time when members of the Jewish community were treated by many people as second-class citizens. I am honoured also to follow in the footsteps of his son Larry Grossman, who has become one of my mentors and who, as was his father, is a long-time friend of the Bassett family. I am also pleased to take over from my immediate predecessor, my friend Zanana Akande, who chose not to run for re-election.

St Andrew-St Patrick is more proudly diverse than most ridings in Ontario. Economically, culturally, religiously, ethnically, racially and linguistically, it is a cosmopolitan microcosm of diversity: people who are proud of their heritage, but even prouder of being Canadians, Ontarians, Torontonians, and of living in St Andrew-St Patrick. This diversity in St Andrew-St Patrick encompasses a broad range of political and ideological views with great intellectual ferment and academic achievement, and medical and professional excellence epitomized by the University of Toronto, by world-class health care centres, research facilities and by a vibrant corporate financial sector.

By electing me to this chamber, the people of St Andrew-St Patrick, whether they live in Forest Hill, in the Annex, on Bloor Street or on Harbord or on College, have entrusted me with their confidence. I ran on a campaign that clearly spelled out Mike Harris's agenda to restore fiscal health to this province, and so I bring to this Legislature one overwhelming message from my constituents: Fix the fiscal mess at Queen's Park.

The hardworking citizens in my riding feel economic despair. They feel overburdened by high taxes, little or no disposable income, and a never-ending treadmill of barely making ends meet. Adjusted after inflation, the take-home pay of the average worker in Ontario is lower today than it was five years ago. My constituents' concerns are rooted in reality. In Ontario, twice as many people are unemployed and nearly three times as many are on social assistance as were a decade ago. We all know why.

Too much of our money has been grabbed by the governments of Ontario over the past 10 years. Between 1985 and 1995, Ontario's government spending doubled from $27 billion to $55 billion. During the five Liberal years there were five consecutive 16% jumps in spending. During the five NDP years, Ontario's debt doubled from $42 billion to $97 billion. The NDP also doubled Ontario's interest costs.


That is why, within weeks of assuming office, Finance minister Ernie Eves had to make a midcourse correction. In July he cut $1.9 billion, yet the deficit remained at a staggering $8.7 billion.

This is the real legacy of 10 years of Liberal and NDP governments: the richest province in Canada saddled with the highest provincial deficit and burdened with a debt of nearly $100 billion. Per capita, it is the third-highest debt load behind Newfoundland and Quebec. Who would have thought that Ontario would be in the same economic league as Newfoundland?

Ontario's interest charges alone are $8.8 billion a year: $1 million per hour, 365 days a year. This year, Ontario will spend close to 19 cents of every dollar it receives on the public debt, and that's up from nine cents only five years ago.

The basic truth is that this is not sustainable. As our Finance minister, Ernie Eves, put it, "If we let this continue, the deficit will reach $20 billion within five years -- more than we spend on health care and twice as much as we spend on education."

There is broad agreement across the political spectrum that we need to get out of this deficit-and-debt trap. The financial markets have been demanding it, the Bank of Canada has been demanding it, and governments across Canada are beginning to respond. The Liberals in Ottawa have tightened the reins. Every provincial government except Quebec is cutting back. Six provincial governments will balance their books this year, and they include both Liberal and NDP governments. The only difference of opinion is what to cut and how quickly to cut it.

The pace of change in Ontario was determined by the people of Ontario on June 8 in the election. They agreed with Mike Harris on eliminating the deficit in five years. Our task is to be faithful to that mandate.

The economic statement introduced by Finance Minister Ernie Eves is an affirmation of the people's will. After 10 years of fiscal mismanagement, it marks the beginning of the restoration of our financial health. We are on the road to recovery, but it is a long journey. Our task is to proceed expeditiously but fairly, and we all must share in the pain of cutting back.

Those of us in government must lead by example, and lead by example we will. The journey to a deficit-free Ontario is beginning here, right here in this chamber, and that's why our Finance minister is reducing legislative expenses by a minimum of 20%, which will save taxpayers $27 million a year. Many of the perks enjoyed by MPPs are being eliminated.

Outside government, we can't expect hardworking taxpayers to make sacrifices without also ending corporate welfare, so this Conservative government is eliminating business subsidies and loans -- all of them -- for an annual saving of $230 million. As Finance Minister Eves said, "We don't think the best way to support business is to give them handouts."

Business understands. In fact, business has been ahead of government in trimming costs and in restructuring in the last five years. As Catherine Swift, the president of the Canadian Federation of Independent Business, said, "Subsidies to business have never been good." Business does understand, and business is cooperating.

As we put an end to corporate welfare, we must also reform the general welfare system. In doing so we will be in good company, in the company of other provincial governments, including those of Liberal leader Frank McKenna and NDP leader Mike Harcourt.

In BC, the provincial government is slashing benefits by up to $100 a month, it is encouraging recipients to take retraining and it is even imposing a three-month residency requirement.

The problem here in Ontario is more severe, however, and the challenge more daunting. With one third of Canada's population, we have nearly one half of Canada's welfare recipients -- thanks to the economic handiwork, I might add, of the Liberals and the NDP in the past 10 years. In North America, Ontario ranks first in having the highest proportion of its population on welfare, and this is a dubious distinction. People want jobs, not dependency.

If throwing money at the problem were the solution, we would have solved the situation long ago. After all, the previous two governments spent $40 billion on welfare over the last 10 years. Obviously, we need a new approach. We need to create jobs. To do so, we need to control the deficit and the debt, and to do that, we need an attitudinal change with new ways of running the shop. We need to be realistic about what we can and cannot afford. That basic reality check runs right through our economic statement.

Even after the school boards lose $400 million from their funding base, we will still be spending 10% more than the average of what other provinces spend on their schools. We are confident that the school boards will find the savings in the 30 cents of the education dollar spent outside the classroom -- in the half-empty buses that are running on the same routes, in the same direction, to different schools. They will also find savings in their own bureaucracies.

Similarly, we are confident that more than 800 municipalities will meet the challenge of finding the needed savings by not having two parks departments in every municipality of Metro Toronto or two different crews for the maintenance of roads and highways.

Hospitals, universities and cultural institutions will no doubt have to do with less, as we all must. But we have provided them with an additional tool to assist them in restructuring as well. By introducing legislation to allow them to establish foundations, we are giving hospitals and universities additional flexibility to come up with their own funding through more private donations.

To all those who claim it is not doable, we say that the provincial government itself is going to be reduced by one third. We'll do it by streamlining administration and finding new ways of delivering services. Our transfer partners must do the same. We don't pretend that the cuts don't hurt. It is far easier, politically, to do nothing or to just tinker around the edges. As the Finance minister has put it, we know there are human consequences to balancing the budget, but there are much greater consequences if we do nothing.

Let it also be said that no one has a copyright on compassion. It is not compassionate, in my view, to keep a million people on welfare and to deny them the opportunity to work and to find employment. It is not compassionate to rob the young of the opportunity to know what it is to earn a living. It is not compassionate to run the middle class into the ground with high taxes. The most compassionate thing to do is to shake off the yoke of the deficit that is weighing us down and restore business confidence, restore investor confidence, restore people confidence and create jobs for the people of Ontario.

We have begun the process. We have taken the first steps on the long journey back. We are headed in the right direction, which is why the economic statement has been well received by the people and by the Canadian Bond Rating Service, the Dominion Bond Rating Service, the Canadian Manufacturers Association, the Canadian Federation of Independent Business and investors who are back buying Ontario bonds.

As the Canadian Bond Rating Service put it, "The international financial markets have been waiting for Ontario to show it that it means business in deficit reduction." Let me tell you, Finance minister Ernie Eves has shown we mean business.

We are cutting government, and we are doing it fairly and equitably. We are beginning to revive the economy, create jobs and end economic insecurity by restoring prosperity. Our economic statement has started Ontario on its way to recovery.


The Deputy Speaker (Mr Bert Johnson): Questions and comments?

Mr Bisson: I'd like to congratulate the member on her first speech in the House. I very much look forward to working with her over the next four years. I know her to be an honest individual who's hardworking, and I compliment her on that.

There is a difference, though, in the approach we would take, depending on what side of the House we're on. If the member can just look this way for a second, because I'm trying to respond to her speech, one of the things she said was that neither the New Democratic Party nor the Liberal Party is prepared to deal with trying to balance the budget of Ontario. I want to tell you directly, and I want to tell those people watching, that the New Democratic Party and the Liberal Party understand and support the direction the government is going in. Our argument with you is not in your overall aim.

We accept and we understand that our government came to power in the middle of a recession, the worst recession since the 1930s. The program spending, as set up by both Conservative governments and the Liberal government before us -- not through your fault but because of the way the programs were set up -- was costing the province a lot of money, with the recession added to the deficit and added to the problems we were having in regard to the overall budget. Our government was dealing with that, in fairness.

What we said during the election was that we would not promise a whole bunch of tax cuts to people as a mechanism to try to get elected. We said no promise like that can be made. Eventually, a government may have to make a decision to increase a tax, but we wanted to do it on the expenditure side.

That's why we were doing the restructuring of the long-term-care system; that's why we had the royal commission report in regard to the work we were doing around trying to amalgamate school boards; that's why we commissioned the Golden report, to take a look at municipalities and how they're structured and how they need to find efficiencies.

I think the difference we have here is that I and my party, the New Democratic Party, do not agree with the approach your government is taking. We feel that in the long run it's not going to serve our services well and not going to serve the people of this province well.

Mr Mario Sergio (Yorkview): With only a few seconds, I don't want to respond to Ms Bassett. As a matter of fact, I wish to congratulate her on her maiden speech, as she said. I won't be speaking on her comments or others with respect to the Minister of Finance or the Premier or other members of the government side.

I want to address these brief remarks to Bill 26 itself, this very voluminous document here. Bill 26 is 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. They forgot to add "without public consultation." I think this is the most fundamental part missing from this particular document.

What Bill 26 does is give new powers to deal unilaterally with major components of our structural society as we know it today. It deals with the Ontario drug benefits, it deals with the Ontario hospital acts and it leaves us and the people totally unknowing the effects of Bill 26. We have already mentioned the other day and today that we wish to peruse this document and take the time required to bring forth and let the people of Ontario know exactly what the consequences are of this bill.

It's extremely important that the contents of Bill 26 are brought to the attention of our people so we know exactly what's in it for us and for them out there. We'll go through it at length later on.

Mrs Marion Boyd (London Centre): I'd also like to congratulate the member on her first speech in the Legislature, and say to her that her way of speaking -- her clarity and her even-toned response -- was certainly much appreciated.

Our concern, obviously, with the financial statement and the bill that has flowed from it is the contention of the government that suddenly we have a disaster, a crisis, a huge problem that needs extraordinary measures in order to deal with it. We don't agree that that's the case.

We have always said that it is important for this province, indeed this country, to get the finances under some control, to begin to assure that we are not mortgaging the future for our children, and we agree with that.

But we do not agree that suddenly this has attained the kind of crisis proportions that requires a government to put into place measures which are similar to the War Measures Act or some other draconian bill that would enable governments to make decisions without recourse to the Legislature, without recourse to the public in terms of comment on those concerns. That is exactly what the government has done and exactly what the member, in her support of the Minister of Finance, has not taken into account.

It is important, when we speak in this place, to be very clear that it is not unusual and has not been unusual for governments, long before 10 years ago, to run deficits. In fact, I think the Progressive Conservative government that was in power as long as most of us could remember prior to 1985 only balanced the budget once in that period of time.

Mr Alvin Curling (Scarborough North): I also wish to go on record commending the member for St Andrew-St Patrick for her very well-delivered first address. She's someone I have respected and known for some time, and I know she would bring the representation that is quite respected in the House and in her constituency.

Because of that, I want to give you a little bit of pressure, in a sense. My expectation of the member is that when it comes to your party's undemocratic process, which you, I know, do not agree with at times, you will speak up very loudly in the House in that regard, especially to Bill 26, this huge omnibus bill that is asking for a very dictatorial approach from government. I know that goes against the grain of the honourable member, because I know her very well. I know I can depend on her and some members of the Conservative Party to speak up against that.

I heard there is a little leeway from your House leader today, when he spoke about separating the bill into two parts or what have you. But we'd like to see public consultation, because there is so much to be learned from the people themselves when they make their presentations and make their concerns known about the direction they want to see their province go. I know you would like to see your constituency make that kind of contribution.

I want to congratulate you on your speech and I look forward to many, many debates as you make your presentations for your constituency.

The Deputy Speaker: The Chair recognizes the member for St Andrew-St Patrick for a response.

Ms Bassett: I'm not going to make any comment other than to thank the honourable members on the other side of the House for your grace and leniency today. It's appreciated, and I am listening. Thank you.

Report continues in volume B.