36th Parliament, 1st Session

L035a - Tue 5 Dec 1995 / Mar 5 Déc 1995










































The House met at 1331.




M. Bernard Grandmaître (Ottawa Est) : Dans la presse francophone on parle de loi «fourre-tout» pour décrire la dernière loi omnibus du gouvernement conservateur. Je ne veux pas me lancer dans des jeux de mots de mauvais goût, mais il faut que j'admette qu'il est difficile de trouver un meilleur qualificatif pour le projet de loi 26.

C'est un fourre-tout parce que le gouvernement s'est senti obligé d'intégrer les trois quarts de sa révolution de l'inconscience en un seul projet de loi. Jamais dans l'histoire de l'Ontario on n'a vu un projet de loi avoir des effets aussi profonds dans autant de domaines aussi différents. La santé, l'éducation, le monde du travail, les municipalités et bien d'autres secteurs importants sont touchés, et souvent très sérieusement.

La population francophone de l'Ontario, quant à elle, a déjà compris qu'elle allait faire partie des grandes victimes de la révolution de M. Harris et le projet de loi 26 le confirme.

Comment la population en général va-t-elle pouvoir évaluer le projet de loi fourre-tout du gouvernement entre maintenant et Noël ? Si personne ne peut sérieusement examiner votre projet de loi et en débattre, comment l'Assemblée législative peut-elle garantir que ce projet de loi ne contient pas de mesures idiotes qui vont causer de graves dommages en Ontario ?

Le gouvernement présentait en cachette un projet de loi épais comme un annuaire du téléphone dans lequel on se donne des pouvoirs d'exception. De plus, le gouvernement rompt sa promesse de ne pas toucher à la santé et à l'éducation. C'est un projet de loi qui va avoir de lourdes conséquences, mais le gouvernement ne donne pas à l'Assemblée législative --

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


Mr Rosario Marchese (Fort York): Yesterday, artists and cultural workers held a very successful news conference in the media studio at Queen's Park. They came together to present a united voice against the cuts of the Harris government to arts and culture, cuts that will erode the economic, social and cultural fabric of our province. They came from all disciplines: dancers, actors, musicians and filmmakers.

Artists like Gordon Pinsent and R.H. Thomson, venerated artists of Canadian stage and screen and cultural ambassadors internationally, spoke eloquently and articulately to the economic, social and cultural benefits of arts and culture to the province of Ontario.

Lorraine Segato asked a simple question: If it's not broken, if it's working and working well, why fix it? Why cut it?

Younger artists like Don McKellar, the star of Atom Egoyan's films and Steven Page of the Barenaked Ladies were passionate and intelligent as they addressed the hundreds of millions of dollars the arts generate for Ontario and spoke of artists as workers and as a community.

Sandi Ross, president of ACTRA, presented the spectre of American cities such as Detroit and Minneapolis that handed down similar cuts to the arts and then evolved into urban ghost towns.

R.H. Thompson's words tell it best: "Tell us, please, Mr Harris, your vision beyond the cuts. Articulate for us, please, why the promised tax cuts for the well-to-do will really work, and not just in ideology but in reality. This very strategy failed recently in the US. For you to say it was a `promise made' is not enough. Articulate for us your vision of our culture and our arts community."


Mr Trevor Pettit (Hamilton Mountain): I'd like to take this opportunity in the House today to recognize the dedicated work of the folks whose job it is to record what goes on in this House while it is in session. I'm referring of course to the people responsible for putting Hansard together.

As we all know, on both sides of this House, Hansard is an essential tool in helping us to do our jobs. It serves as a reminder to those of us who may have missed the live version of who said what, and by so doing also serves those members who may have forgotten their own words. But we know that this is not a common occurrence in the House.

I would like to give special recognition today to one individual who is celebrating 25 years with Hansard this month and who is with us in the Speaker's gallery today. Mr Edward Patrick joined Hansard in 1970 after many years as a newspaperman in Glasgow and London. In the last 25 years with Hansard, he has served under six premiers, eight Speakers and five lieutenant governors. During this time, one can say with certainty that Mr Patrick has heard it all.

I would like to convey, though, that Mr Patrick is on record as saying, and I quote: "I have no intention of writing a book about my experiences at Queen's Park, for although there is a book inside every newspaperman... that's precisely where it should stay."

I would ask all members to join me in thanking Mr Patrick and all the people at Hansard for the very important work they do.


Ms Annamarie Castrilli (Downsview): Today is a sad day for Canada. Today we bury Robertson Davies. If ever there was someone who embodied the Canadian identity it was Robertson Davies, a magnificent writer, a dedicated nationalist, a Canadian hero.

He was a newspaperman, an actor, a playwright and a novelist. His was an uncommon talent, which was evidenced to the end. His last novel, The Cunning Man, was published just last year when he was but 81 years old.

His biographer, Judith Skelton, called him "a man of myth," and he was. With his flowing beard and his chiselled face, he was likened to Jehovah. His speech was authoritative, his writings wise.

Dr Davies was a giant not only in Toronto at Massey College, whose master he was for a number of years, but in the world. His life and wondrous writings had a profound effect on the 20th century. His writings have illuminated generations of young people. He enriched all of our lives with his prodigious imagination. His patriotism was a beacon through very difficult times. He made us feel good to be Canadians.

Our hearts are today with his family. To them we say that the world is indebted to Robertson Davies more than words can ever say.



Mrs Marion Boyd (London Centre): On Friday, December 1, in London, a group of citizens gathered together, all of whom are involved one way or another in the education, training and placement of those who are seeking work in our community.

These members of our community talked about the concerns they had, not only in the face of what was to be announced last Friday from the federal government's point of view in terms of the unemployment insurance changes, but particularly with respect to the financial statement that was delivered in this House last Wednesday. These members of the community work with people of all ages and all walks of life, many of whom have lost their jobs through no fault of their own during the recession, many of whom have never been able to work into the full workplace because of the barriers that face them.

This is a group of people who've dedicated their lives to combating unemployment and they were discussing their disgust and their concern at the lack of job creation opportunities offered by this government, despite the strong promises that were there in the Common Sense Revolution for 725,000 jobs.

This is a group of people that will continue to work in our community to counter the effects of the disastrous budget this government has presented and to continue to try and create work in spite of this government.


Mr John O'Toole (Durham East): I rise to call the attention of all members in the House to the support of our Health minister that has come from a journalist who is usually not known for Tory accolades.

Thomas Walkom of the Toronto Star, in his November 28 article, commends the Honourable Jim Wilson for staking out a position on health care that makes considerable sense. He applauds the minister for his work to protect Ontario's health care system, while taking all the necessary steps needed to ensure its financial viability.

Interestingly enough, Walkom, who has an intimate knowledge of the NDP, cites how Bob Rae, while in office as Premier, cut $20 million worth of health services from a list of services covered by medicare. He also showed how the NDP broke the Canada Health Act by eliminating out-of-country coverage. To his credit, the minister moved quickly to reinstate that out-of-country coverage, which mostly affected seniors.

The Honourable Jim Wilson, Walkom states, has gone on to revoke the stranglehold on Ontario's health care system put on by the NDP in their 1991 framework agreement with doctors. He has also freed taxpayers from spending $40 million annually on doctors' medical malpractice insurance, at a time when the fund has a $1-billion surplus. How's that for common sense?


The Speaker (Hon Allan K. McLean): Order. I must remind all members of the gallery that there shall be no clapping or demonstrations of any sort. Thank you.


Mr James J. Bradley (St Catharines): A very significant event is taking place in St Catharines today in the form of the demolition of the infamous house at 57 Bayview Drive.

For the people of St Catharines, and in particular the families of the victims and the people who reside in the immediate neighbourhood of the structure which holds so many horrific memories for the residents of our community, the destruction and removal of the building from the landscape of Port Dalhousie will be most welcome.

Its continued existence has been a constant reminder of the terrible crimes that were committed within its walls and it has been a constant target of vandalism and morbid curiosity.

While its demolition cannot erase the sad and awful memories from our minds, its destruction can remove a tangible monument to terror and crime that happened in our city.

I would like to express my appreciation to the St Catharines city council for its endorsement of my request for the demolition of the Bernardo home and to the Attorney General for his prompt and positive response to my recommendation.

Everyone in our community is grateful, as well, to those who are giving freely of their time and resources to complete the project in an expeditious and efficient manner and at no cost to the taxpayers of this province.


Ms Marilyn Churley (Riverdale): Last evening over 100 people gathered in my riding of Riverdale and asked me to deliver a message to the Premier: Don't even think about scrapping rent control. Like so many Ontarians I talk to these days, they're frustrated that no one in this government seems to want to listen and consult about major government changes such as ending rent control.

It's mighty curious that during the election some Tory candidates, including the Minister of Housing, talked openly about their support for tenant protection. Why? Because openly supporting the end of rent control, especially in Metro Toronto, would be political suicide. Even those Tory ideologues who support throwing everything to the free market system know that to spout off about ending rent control would have meant a quick and decisive defeat on election night.

This is another example of this government saying one thing during the election to get votes and then turning around and doing something different. You really do have to ask what is going on here.

Despite what some Tory members told this House during a debate on this issue last week, rent control works. Tenants know that it works and I dare say that landlords know that it works for tenants or they wouldn't be lobbying so furiously to have it scrapped.


Mrs Margaret Marland (Mississauga South): Today I rise in the House to welcome the members of the Marland Youth Council to Queen's Park. The Marland Youth Council was formed in October 1992. This non-partisan council is comprised of student representatives from the seven high schools in my riding of Mississauga South. These students have an excellent understanding of the legislative process and are well informed about current issues.

The council meets once a month to discuss provincial legislation or policy changes and the council members take time between classes to discuss these issues with their school peers. Consequently, the Marland Youth Council has been of great assistance to me in representing the concerns and interests of young people in my riding.

I would like to extend my appreciation and gratitude to all the members of the council who have been so forthright in their discussions with me. Their frank and open advice has proven to be very meaningful on a variety of issues affecting Ontarians today.

I would ask all members of the Legislative Assembly to join me in welcoming the following students: Tim Gallinger, Patrick Roane, Allison Phinney, Sayone Arasratnam, Christopher Allsop, Sarah Vella, Darka Hopej, Monica Awasty and Alexandra Malik.


The Speaker (Hon Allan K. McLean): We have a former member of the crown in the west gallery, the Honourable Hugh O'Neil from the riding of Quinte, and his wife Donna.


The Speaker (Hon Allan K. McLean): Last Thursday, several members rose on questions of privilege and questions of order relating to Bill 26, 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, and the circumstances surrounding its introduction for first reading on the previous day. The following members made submissions on that occasion: the leader of the official opposition (Mrs McLeod), the member for Windsor-Riverside (Mr Cooke), the member for Renfrew North (Mr Conway), the member for York South (Mr Rae), the member for St Catharines (Mr Bradley), the member for Beaches-Woodbine (Ms Lankin), and the government House leader (Mr Eves).

The facts giving rise to their submissions are as follows. On Tuesday, November 28, the House passed the following order:

"That, on Wednesday, November 29th the House shall recess immediately after routine proceedings; and, that the House shall reconvene at 4 pm for an economic statement by the Minister of Finance; and, that the House shall adjourn immediately following the Minister of Finance's statement that day; and, that on Thursday, November 30th and Monday, December 4th under orders of the day, the House shall consider replies to the economic statement."


On the Wednesday indicated in this order -- a day on which there was a media lockup until 4 o'clock with respect to the economic statement mentioned in the order -- the government introduced Bill 26 for first reading in the course of the item of routine proceedings known as introduction of bills. On division, the House gave first reading to the bill, after which the House recessed until 4 o'clock pursuant to the previous day's order. When the House resumed meeting at 4 o'clock, the Minister of Finance (Mr Eves) read the economic statement, after which the House adjourned pursuant to the same order.

That is what transpired from a procedural point of view. I have carefully reviewed the arguments and concerns raised. These include: the ability of members to raise points of order or privilege at certain proceedings of this House, the introduction of Bill 26 without notice, the fact that some members were in the financial statement lockup at the time of introduction and at the start of the presentation of the statement, the contents of the compendium on Bill 26 and the admissibility of Bill 26 because of its omnibus nature. I want to deal with each of these points, and I ask the indulgence of the House as the number of issues raised and the importance of them have made for a lengthy ruling.

First, let me deal with the right of members to raise points of order and privilege and in particular the fact that I declined to hear points of order at the time Bill 26 was introduced and again following the financial statement. Let me begin by referring to the 21st edition of Erskine May, at page 396, where it states, and I quote:

"Speakers have exercised discretion over the taking of points of order and have indicated at what point in the proceedings they are prepared to hear them."

In this House, we have precedents which confirm the Speaker's discretion in this regard, and specifically discretion to decline to hear a point of order during certain proceedings. I want to advise all members that it is not the intention of the Chair to prevent any member from raising points of order or privilege as long as these matters are raised at the proper time in the proceedings. At first reading of a bill, the Speaker is required to put the question without amendment or debate. That is what I did on Wednesday last. Also that day, the House was operating under a motion which stated that the House would recess immediately following routine proceedings until 4 pm that same day to hear the economic statement of the Minister of Finance. This was done. The motion went on to state that the House was to adjourn immediately following the economic statement until the next day. This was done. I would submit to you that for your Speaker to have proceeded otherwise would have been out of order.

I would also like to take this opportunity to explain the points of privilege that differ from points of order both in form and process. It is not necessary to bring a matter of privilege to the attention of the Speaker immediately upon its occurrence or to have it decided upon immediately. The member for Windsor-Riverside (Mr Cooke) referred to standing order 21(b) which provides that "whenever a matter of privilege arises, it shall be taken into consideration immediately." In response, I would explain that standing order 21(b) refers to immediate consideration once a prima facie case of privilege has been found by the Speaker. At that point, a motion may be moved and would have to be taken into consideration immediately.

I will now deal with the issues raised concerning the introduction of Bill 26 without notice and prior to the presentation of the related financial statement. While it is true that there are several parliamentary jurisdictions, most notably the House of Commons, where notice is required before bills may be introduced, we have no such requirement in this House. Quite the contrary, standing order 38(a) says:

"Every bill shall be introduced upon a motion for leave for introduction and first reading, specifying the title of the bill, no notice being required."

Likewise, there is nothing in our rules that compels a minister to deliver a statement in advance of introducing a bill. Any agreement members have to the contrary is not one to which the Speaker is a party and therefore cannot be taken into consideration on this matter. There have been instances of legislation, even budget legislation, introduced without prior statements having been presented. On April 25, 1988, for example, the budget bills were introduced before the budget speech was given.

On the point raised that the compendium of background information did not contain all of the relevant material required, I would refer member to the 21st edition of Erskine May at page 383 where it states in part:

"It is the responsibility of the government and not of the Chair to see that documents which may be relevant to debates are laid before the House and are available to members. It is not for the Chair to decide what documents are relevant. Only when the Speaker himself has control of a document can he be involved in making it available to the House or a committee."

In 1979, Speaker Stokes made a ruling on this very matter. In it he stated and I quote:

"...I fail to see how I can be expected to know what was, or what was not, the background information considered by a minister and his staff when preparing legislation. The minister tables what he considers to be the compendium required by the standing order, and there is no way that I can look behind his decision."

Subsequent rulings on this question have been consistent with Speaker Stokes.

As to the concerns raised with respect to the fact that many members were in the financial statement lockup and were therefore unable to attend the House for introduction of bills and subsequently for the beginning of the financial statement, I must point out to the members who were involved that the rules and guidelines for this event are the prerogative of the government and any person who enters the lockup must be governed by those rules. Members are not, nor should they be, forced to enter a lockup. It is not a question of privilege since I must assume that the members agreed to attend the lockup even though they were aware that it would cover at least a portion of the time that the House would be sitting.

However, I do have grave concerns if the allegations that some members were allowed to leave the lockup before others are correct, though I am not in a position to determine if they are. If one set of rules governed the caucus of the government and another set of rules governed the caucus of the two opposition parties with respect to the lockup, I would find that to be offensive. All members of this House should be treated equally in this regard, and no one group should have an advantage that the other group does not enjoy.

Finally, I will turn to the arguments put forward last Thursday respecting the omnibus nature of Bill 26 and a request on the part of some that I intervene either by ruling Bill 26 out of order or by splitting it into several parts. It is this issue which has caused me the greatest concern.

In addition to reviewing the argument set out by the members of this House, I have examined our precedents with respect to omnibus legislation and I have sought information on the experiences of other jurisdictions. I have also reviewed the relevant parliamentary authorities. I will say at the outset that, while I am sympathetic to the complaints many members have outlined over this type of legislation, my role is limited to consideration of the procedural issues before us.


In reviewing the precedents of this House, it is clear that we have dealt with omnibus legislation on several occasions. Often, the introduction of such legislation gave rise to points of order on its admissibility. The arguments put forward on those occasions were not unlike those we heard here last Thursday. In each case, the Speaker ruled that the legislation was in order and that it was not within the Speaker's authority to find otherwise. On at least one occasion, presumably after some discussion among the House leaders, legislation was in fact split. This split, however, was effected by agreement of the House and not by a decision of the Speaker. This was referred to in a ruling by the Deputy Speaker on October 31, 1994, when he said and I quote:

"...in the past when omnibus legislation has been split, it always has been as a result of an agreement between the House leaders."

The experiences of the House of Commons in Ottawa seem to be the most helpful to the consideration of the orderliness of omnibus legislation. In a 1971 ruling, cited by several members of this House in the course of their arguments on this matter, Speaker Lamoureux reflected that there may be a point at which an omnibus bill might go too far and not be accepted from a procedural standpoint. The difficulty which Speaker Lamoureux had in 1971 and which Speakers since that time have had is that there are no clear procedural guidelines which define what is or is not acceptable.

Citation 626 of Beauchesne referring to the relevancy of the contents of a bill reads in part:

"Although there is no specific set of rules or guidelines governing the content of a bill, there should be a theme of relevancy amongst the contents of a bill. They must be relevant to and subject to the umbrella which is raised by the terminology of the long title of the bill."

It is clear that the long title of a bill could be broad enough to encompass a wide variety of subjects and statutes as is the case at hand, thus allowing wide parameters within the bill itself.

In her 1982 ruling, Speaker Sauvé suggested that:

"It may be that the House should accept rules or guidelines as to the form and content of omnibus bills, but in that case the House, and not the Speaker, must make those rules."

With Speaker Sauvé I concur: It is for the House and not the Speaker to develop clear and definitive guidelines respecting omnibus legislation. Indeed, even Speaker Lamoureux noted that while he feared that the bill before him had gone too far, the government had not contravened any rule or practice and he had no choice but to allow it. To date, as far as I am aware, no Speaker in Canada has found an alternative.

Bill 26 amends several existing acts. It seeks to enact, by my count, three new statutes. There is no doubt that this is a complex and very broad piece of legislation. However, omnibus legislation is accepted in many parliamentary jurisdictions in this country and it is something to which this assembly is no stranger. I share the concerns raised by many members here and caution that the use of omnibus legislation should be considered carefully and exercised judiciously. I also urge this House to break ground in this area and develop guidelines and policy as to the acceptable form and content of omnibus legislation.

At present there are no rules or precedents in this House or in other jurisdictions that give me the authority to rule Bill 26 out of order or to divide it. I can find no major difference between Bill 26 and omnibus bills that have confronted previous Speakers of the House of Commons or this place and although the House is presently faced with a serious disagreement, I must be guided by what I perceive was the wise direction in my learned predecessors' rulings and encourage the parties to meet and find solutions to the problem of the omnibus nature of this bill.

I want to thank all members who contributed to the discussions of these matters. The arguments put forward were insightful and of a great deal of assistance to me. I also thank all members for their attention during this extended ruling.

Mr Bob Rae (York South): A point of order, Mr Speaker, on the nature of your ruling.

The Speaker: There is no debate on the Speaker's ruling.

Mr Rae: I'm not seeking to debate anything, just seeking to advise you, sir, that we find your ruling so problematic that we will not be participating in question period this afternoon.

The Speaker: The leader of the official opposition on a point of order.

Mrs Lyn McLeod (Leader of the Opposition): First of all, Mr Speaker, I believe it is in order for me to ask for a specific clarification of one aspect of your ruling. I would like to do that first, and then -- Mr Speaker, I believe that's clearly set out in the rules of order.

The Speaker: There's no debate on a Speaker's ruling, and there are no points of order.

Mrs McLeod: Mr Speaker, this is not a debate. It says very clearly in the rules of order and in the directions to the Speaker that simply an explanation of one part of your ruling -- and I ask it in all seriousness. I'm not attempting to be disruptive.

You, as I heard it -- and I ask whether I heard it correctly -- indicated that you would be, I think your words were, "grievously concerned" if in fact members of the assembly had been treated in different ways and if some members of the government caucus had been allowed out of a lockup in order to participate in a vote while others weren't. I believe you said that it would not be possible for you to determine whether that had occurred. Did I hear your ruling correctly?

Mr Speaker, may I just then advise you that as we go into a lockup, each member must sign in and must sign the time at which they entered the lockup. I believe it would be easily possible for you to determine which members of the government caucus had signed into the lockup and at what time, and if any members of the government caucus were present in the House for that vote at that specific time, at a time after they had signed into the lockup and before 4 o'clock, which clearly it would have to be, then you would realize that they had been allowed to leave a lockup when we had not.

I ask for that as an explanation, and then I have three separate, new points of order which I would ask you to hear.

The Speaker: I've already asked for an investigation into that, so I will be reporting back.

Mrs McLeod: Thank you, Mr Speaker. In that case, I will move to the points of order. As I indicated, I have three points of order which I believe to be new points of order, although related to the same matter. I will place them, if you like, sequentially and then ask you to rule on whether you believe them to be valid points of order to be taken into consideration.

The first point of order -- Mr Speaker, I hope I didn't see you shaking your head before I place the point of order. You are prepared to hear my new points of order? Thank you.

The first point of order is my question of whether or not you would define the bill that is before this House as indeed a budget bill, and if so, whether you would rule on whether it is in order to present a budget bill when in fact there is no budget. I consider this to be a new point of order and one which is germane to the consideration of this bill.

I suggest to you that there is considerable evidence in the government's presentation and in the materials which they tabled. Quite clearly, I accept your judgement today that it is not within your purview to determine what materials the government provides, so I deal only with the material that has actually been given to us by the government. I think there is considerable evidence there that what they have presented to us under the title of an omnibus bill is indeed an omnibus budget bill.

The first point of evidence is that the day the bill was presented, at a time when, as you've recognized, I was in a lockup, our Finance critic was in a lockup, along with other members of our caucus, where we had to be and particularly where our Finance critic had to be in order to receive the financial statement information, our House leader was in the House and became aware that the bill was to be introduced but was unable to obtain a copy of the bill at that time, even though it was being introduced, on the grounds that it was to go to the critic and exclusively to the critic. That meant our Finance critic, who was of course in the lockup at the time.

I suggest to you that if a bill cannot be made available to the House leader because the government is directing that bill to the appropriate critic, and the appropriate critic is indeed the Finance critic, then the bill must perforce be a finance bill.

The bill contains sweeping measures which seem to us to be relatively unrelated, but if I can assume that, because it was to be directed to our Finance critic, it is necessarily a finance bill, I look to see what relationship these various measures could possibly have. Clearly, since many of them are not financial measures, the only thread can be that they are measures that are seen to be needed by the government in order to back up the government cuts.


I think you will agree that normally when a budget is presented, the government follows that budget with the presentation of a bill, usually an omnibus bill, which contains a number of measures needed by the government to implement the provisions of their budget. We all accept that as necessary proceedings of this assembly.

I submit to you, then, that the government has presented to us a budget bill needed by the government in order to back up their cuts and has presented what is a budget bill in the absence of a budget. This is the first point of order on which I would ask you to rule.

If I may proceed, Mr Speaker, assuming you've heard that point of order, my second point of order is that if you consider my first point of order and determine that this is in fact a budget bill, and if you then determine that it is in order to present a budget bill when there is no budget, I would ask you further to rule on whether each section of this bill is in order as part of a budget bill. Again let me suggest some evidence that I would ask you to consider in making that ruling.

The first, if I look at one measure before us in this omnibus bill, is that the government would be given the power to impose new user fees. Clearly, although I personally feel this is a horrendous step for the government to take, a horrendous measure and a horrendous breach of faith on the part of this government, I too would consider that to be a budget bill measure necessary to bring in the new revenues which this government seeks to get from seniors and the disabled and the poorest of our society -- a financial measure, and therefore seen by this government to be appropriately part of a budget bill.

But I would ask you to consider whether the power to annex and to amalgamate municipal jurisdictions, with no legislation, can even remotely be considered a budgetary measure and therefore part of a budget bill. There is no way that such a measure can be considered to have a direct budgetary effect on the government.

As far as I know, there are no proposals that have been made public, let alone come before this House, specific proposals in which the government intends to annex or to amalgamate municipal jurisdictions, so I can't see any immediate financial impact upon the budget of the government. In any event, if an amalgamation or an annexation takes place, it is only going to have an immediate effect on the budgets of those particular municipal jurisdictions.

It would seem to me that this is not a government budgetary measure. At best, it is a buffer to try to cover the municipal cuts that were included in the government's expenditure statement, and to give municipalities enormous powers such that big guys can swallow up little guys without its even being a matter for public debate in this Legislature. I find it difficult to imagine that that could be ruled as being a legitimate part of a budget bill.

I would draw your attention to amendments to the Corporations Tax Act and say that if this indeed is a budget bill and if it is in order as a budget bill even in the absence of a budget, then amendments to the Corporations Tax Act are in fact a budgetary measure and affect the revenues of the government, and I accept that.

There is a section of this act that is permissive to allow the government to introduce tolls. I think that probably would be considered a budgetary measure, since again it is a way of getting revenue which, if the government ever did present a budget, would presumably be part of what they would show as being their revenue and part of their budgetary explanation -- all of which we lack because we don't have a budget. But a budgetary measure it would be if you rule that their bill is in order as a budget bill.

I would ask you to look at schedule F of the omnibus bill, which gives the government unilateral power to close hospitals, and suggest again that this cannot in any way, shape or form be considered a budgetary measure. It has no direct impact on the budget of this government, if and when the government ever chooses to present us with a budget.

This unilateral power to close hospitals that is being given to the minister under this bill is only a way of the government ultimately finding the savings it needs to find to make up for the $1.3-billion cut to hospitals. It is a way in which the Premier and the Minister of Health can some day make honest men of themselves, but it is not a budgetary measure with direct budgetary impact.

The Speaker: Could you wrap up your point of order, please.

Mrs McLeod: Mr Speaker, if I may, there is one last point I would ask you to consider in terms of this being a budgetary measure in a budget bill, and that is the inclusion of amendments to the Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act. I recognize that there are two components to that particular schedule, which is schedule K.

One component is that there will be an increase in fees for access to information. I appreciate the fact that this again could be seen to be a revenue-creating measure or at least a cost-reduction measure, one or the other, and would be appropriate as a budgetary measure. But I do ask you to rule, Mr Speaker, on whether there is any way that limiting access to information, as the amendments to the freedom of information act do, could be even remotely considered to be a budget measure. That is the second point of order which I would ask you to consider.

As I indicated, I have a third point of order, and it is directly relevant to the freedom of information point, which I would further ask you to consider now. If I may, because I believe that this third point of order represents a rather direct challenge to you and to your understanding of the role of the Speaker and of your responsibilities as Speaker, I do want to preface my point of order, if it is not presumptuous, Mr Speaker -- and I'm attempting to be on my very best behaviour today, so I would not wish to be presumptuous in raising with you what I think is considered to be essentially an oath of office that you take as the Speaker of the House.

That oath of office, and I won't read the whole thing, says, "If, in the performance of those duties, I should at any time fall into error" -- Mr Speaker, I'm not challenging you with error at this point -- "I pray that the fault may be imputed to me and not to the assembly whose servant I am and who, through me, the better to enable them to discharge their duty to the Queen and country, hereby claim all their undoubted rights and privileges" -- and this is the point I would emphasize -- "especially that they may have freedom of speech in their debates...."

I believe that oath of office charges you with the responsibility to uphold both the principles and the practices of parliamentary democracy. I recognize this as an awesome responsibility which falls to you and I also appreciate the fact that that responsibility and your ability within the scope of your role as Speaker to discharge it is being tested today as perhaps it has never been tested before. May I say that I understand that and, in that context, ask you to seriously consider what is a cause of great concern certainly for members of our caucus.

I believe the principles and the practices of democracy are absolutely founded on that right to debate which you are sworn to uphold in carrying out your responsibilities in this Legislature. I think you would have to agree, Mr Speaker, that the ability to ensure that we have the right to debate is founded on a recognition of the legitimacy of hearing different points of view, and that that in turn is founded on the right of individuals in free elections to choose representatives to debate on their behalf.

I think you would agree that these are the most fundamental principles of democracy. I believe, and I think you would believe, that the full exercise of that parliamentary right, the exercise of democracy through elections and through parliamentary debate which you are sworn to uphold in this place, is absolutely dependent on the right to know.

I would draw your attention to the fact that in the government's omnibus bill which is before this House today, the government includes a non-monetary item, perhaps a non-budgetary measure, but includes essentially a new act which the government calls the disclosure of public information act. So the government itself recognizes the importance of public disclosure.

Yet I think it is germane to the point of order and to the discharge of your responsibilities to ensure the freedom to debate in this place that there is no opportunity in this bill for the full disclosure of information: not, certainly, to members of the public, but even more so not to the members of the Legislature who are charged this very afternoon with the responsibility of carrying out a debate on behalf of the public of this province.

Members of our caucus sat yesterday afternoon with some 40 bureaucrats who were there to attempt to take us through the bill that has been presented for our consideration this afternoon. They spent three full hours with those 40 bureaucrats. They only got halfway through their initial questions on the sections of the bill, and yet that bill is to be called today and in some manner debated.


There has been absolutely no opportunity for the public to know what is in this bill, and just earlier today I met, as did other members, with a group of people, a coalition of citizens representing some 35 different groups who came together literally in 24 hours in order to express their horror that this kind of a bill could be presented, could be debated without any public hearings at all.

I suggest that we have seen this kind of an approach from this government before, that we should be concerned when the Legislature was not called back until September 26, that we should be concerned when public hearings on school closures were cancelled, that we should be concerned when the labour legislation was rammed through without any public hearings, because it makes so clear that the focus of this government is to ensure that there will be no public debate, that they will not hear concerns, that they want to impose dictatorial powers with no opposition at all. It is those kind of powers that they would be given in Bill 26, if indeed it proceeds to passage.

If this bill, regardless of the impact of the bill and the dictatorial powers it would impose and the effect that that would have on the exercise of democracy, if this bill can proceed even without debate, without public hearings, without our awareness of all the impacts of this bill, let alone any public awareness of the impacts of this bill, I suggest to you that it is a grave violation of both the principles and practices of parliamentary democracy, that it is a grave infringement on our ability and our right and responsibility to debate matters of public concern.

I suggest that you take into consideration as a point of order that part of your responsibility, as Speaker of this House, and I stress, because I believe it to be true, as a non-partisan guardian of the principles and practices of parliamentary democracy, is to ensure that the public's right to know is protected. I ask you to rule on whether it is your responsibility to ensure that there is a reasonable opportunity for debate and a reasonable effort to create public awareness of the matter at hand for debate.

If you rule that that is not your responsibility, that your role is somehow only to keep order in this House, I suggest to you that the responsibility in your oath of office demands more of you than that, because if the Speaker of this House is subject without condition, without any condition at all, to the will of the government, albeit that the government has a majority, if you as Speaker, responsible for ensuring the exercise of parliamentary democracy in this place, have no prerogatives at all, and according to the ruling you've read today all prerogatives are the government's, then I do not believe that it is possible for us to exercise, in a fair and reasonable way, the democratic principles in this Legislature.

As such, Mr Speaker, I ask you to take into serious consideration all three points of order I raise with you today.

Mr Sean G. Conway (Renfrew North): On a point of privilege, Mr Speaker, and mine is a point of privilege: I do ask your forbearance and that of the House because I think we are at a critical point in this debate and I would hope that honourable members, well-intentioned, can, through reasonable means, resolve this.

Mr Speaker, on privilege, let me say again that in his citation Beauchesne indicates that there are certain fundamentals that govern the way in which the British parliamentary system is intended to work. Let me just quote very briefly from that first citation in Beauchesne.

"To protect a minority and restrain the improvidence or tyranny of a majority; to secure the transaction of public business in an orderly manner; to enable every member to express opinions within limits necessary to preserve decorum and prevent an unnecessary waste of time; to give abundant opportunity for the consideration of every measure, and to prevent any legislative action being taken upon sudden impulse."

That, it seems to me, is an issue that strikes at the core of the way in which members on all sides discharge their responsibilities.

You, sir, in your ruling this afternoon -- and I do recognize the difficulty in which you and any Speaker would find themselves, particularly if you were to take a narrow, constructionist view of your responsibilities -- you cited, for example, Madam Sauvé's ruling in 1982. I want to raise that today because I mentioned it in passing the other day. That was the debate in the Parliament of Canada, in late February and early March of 1982, that led to one of the most notorious outbursts in the history of Canadian parliamentary democracy.

Madam Speaker Sauvé was making her --

The Speaker: Order, please. The member is referring to the statement that I made today with regard to Madam Sauvé. I made that statement. There's no debate on the statement that I made.

Mr Conway: I realize that, but my point is privilege and I simply make reference to that, because I want everyone here to know that what the opposition did in Ottawa on that occasion is they couldn't find redress through regular channels.

The fact that it was a Conservative opposition is for me irrelevant. It was an opposition that felt passionately what the then government was doing was completely unacceptable. They could find no redress in the rules, so what did they do? They took extraordinary measures, extreme measures. Who will forget the sight of outraged members at the Speaker's feet, bells ringing for 18 or 19 days? I, for one, do not want to be driven to that and I want to say again that, for me, this is a matter of privilege.

I think, sir, that you have a responsibility, quite apart from the ruling you have made, to ensure that the fundamentals of the British parliamentary system are in fact adhered to. Mr Speaker Lamoureux said clearly that there is a point where we reach extreme measures that are not going to serve any institution, most especially the parliamentary institution.

It is right, I think, for people to observe that those of us who are elected have a responsibility to resolve this in a way that does not put the Chair in an untenable position. As the last moments of opportunity now present themselves, I say, as a senior member of this House, as a former government House leader, as a minister who has been charged with some very difficult legislation -- I'll cite but one example -- that I have real sympathy for the position in which the government finds itself. I do not minimize the fiscal pressures with which you are confronted.

But don't think for a moment that day 10 or 11 years ago, when I was handed that wonderful school bill, that I didn't dream about a Bill 26, about marching in and solving a lot of my problems by saying, "The end will justify the means." But to have done that, however tempting, would have been an affront to the democratic principles that have inspired this place for 135 years.

You know, 30 years ago, Mr Robarts, as Premier of the province, was confronted with a situation that was, as I said the other day, notorious. What was it? On privilege, Mr Speaker, I remind members of this House that the then Attorney General, quite a fine fellow from Chesterville, Fred Cass, was so concerned about a report he had received about the nature and extent of organized crime in Ontario, he brought forward Bill 99, the famous police bill. There was no question that the Attorney General of the day had in mind an end that was very, very clear in his own way, and that is rooting out this crime that seemed to be everywhere.

So the Attorney General brought forth a bill. As it turned out, it was a bill that had not been canvassed in cabinet to any great extent, not brought through the government caucus -- all of which was admitted rather quickly -- and Bill 99 was presented. It had as its central provision that, in the interest of dealing with the organized criminals who were causing havoc in Ontario, Her Majesty, in right of the government of Ontario, would have the power, through the police commission, to summon anyone suspected of misconduct to a private hearing, without a lawyer, and should that citizen not oblige by telling what he or she knew, that person could be jailed without notice. Now, clearly, that was an extreme measure.


What did Mr Robarts do when the matter hit the fan, as we say in the Ottawa Valley? He said, "This bill is a problem." Interestingly, he referred that bill out after first reading to a committee of the Legislature where it sat unloved, unnurtured and unprotected, and where it died the ignominious death it ought to have died.

I say this this afternoon particularly to the government House leader but to all honourable members. By any measure, Bill 26 --

Mr Bert Johnson (Perth): What is your concern?

Mr Conway: The member for Perth asks, what is my concern. I say, as a senior member of this House --

Mr James J. Bradley (St Catharines): He's supposed to be neutral, isn't he?

Mrs McLeod: The Deputy Speaker should be asked to be quiet in a debate.

Mr Bradley: You're not just a Tory flunkey now. You're a Deputy Speaker.


The Speaker: Order, order.

Mr Conway: Mr Speaker, I will not be long. By any measure, Bill 26 is an exceptional and an extraordinary piece of legislation. I don't think there is any student of Ontario politics who would quarrel with that, just as I do not quarrel with the right of a government under certain reasonable circumstances to bring forward omnibus bills. I completely agree with the government House leader that there is precedent for omnibus bills. Where my fundamental difference of opinion is, is that there has never been a bill like Bill 26.

That does not mean that I want to deny this government or any government the right to bring forward an array of measures of this kind. I would submit that my privileges or the privileges of any member will be abridged if we are forced to deal in one massive bill with the sweeping array of municipal reform and health and freedom of information and other measures that are contained within Bill 26. But it's more than that, I say to the Minister of Citizenship.

To bring forward a bill of this magnitude, introduced on November 29, 1995, and to say that without any delay and without any public hearings it shall be passed as one massive undertaking within five to 10 or 12 days is to add insult to injury.

I know, sir, that you are in a difficult situation, and I don't want to be part of a House that puts you or anyone in that kind of a position, but I say as I resume my seat that we have a little bit of time left before self-respecting honourable members will have to consider extraordinary measures to respond to an extraordinary bill.

Interjection: Is that a threat?

Mr Conway: Is it a threat? I hope not, I say to --

Hon Charles Harnick (Attorney General, minister responsible for native affairs): It's an ultimatum.

Mr Conway: Well, it's not an ultimatum, but I ask, Mr Speaker, that if we're going to do business in this House, and the government House leader, who's been here for 15 years, would know, as the Minister of Agriculture would know, as the Minister of Intergovernmental Affairs would know -- I don't expect a lot of new members to perhaps be immediately attuned to some of these niceties, because quite frankly after six months of being in the place in 1975, I wasn't either, but senior members have a responsibility, particularly to a House in which there is such a large intake of new members. We have a responsibility to provide some leadership.

I say again, I think there is a way out of this situation. I think the way is for the panel of House leaders to meet, to meet soon, to agree on a reasonable severance of the several sections and to agree to a reasonable timetable.

I've got some very real sympathy for any government House leader. You've got to get the work done, and there is a tendency in any opposition -- Liberal, Tory, NDP -- to want to delay to perhaps too great an extent. I understand that, but surely if we want to have the public respect what it is we are here to do, which is public business -- and I know my friend from Wellington would be the first to say, both publicly and privately, "If we're going to undertake the kind of measures that this bill contains, surely, as a matter of our privileges and theirs, they and we have a right to say, `Here's what's in this bill, and you should get a reasonable time to see the bill, to read the bill and to come to some committee and to offer an opinion.'"

So I say, Mr Speaker, that is my point of privilege, and if it is not resolved -- and for this we will need the help of the government House leader and the understanding of the opposition House leaders -- I think the alternatives are not going to be very attractive for any of us. There's no doubt at the end of the day who will win the confrontation, but it will be, my friends, a pyrrhic victory, because it will be won at a cost that further diminishes an institution that's already in too great a public disdain.

Someplace in this building, there is a Latin injunction that says, "Loyal in the beginning, so let us remain." That's the motto of our Ontario. I say, as a matter of privilege, let us be loyal to the parliamentary institutions that have made this the most relevant and the most acceptable form of government in the free world, and let us find a way out of an impasse which, if not resolved, is going to make a lot of Ontario taxpayers think that perhaps there is not much left to hope for in what it is we do here.

The Speaker: The member for Perth, on a point of privilege.


Mr Bert Johnson (Perth): I'm what might be referred to as one of the new members in this chamber, and a few minutes ago I was shouted down by those in the front bench and those in the back bench across from me. I was referred to because I have a special place in this chamber at times.

My point of privilege is: Am I not entitled to the same privileges as the rest in this House when I'm sitting in my seat and I am dressed in my civil clothes? If I am, then I think that I shouldn't be shouted down.

The Speaker (Hon Allan K. McLean): Point of privilege, the member for Timiskaming.


Mr David Ramsay (Timiskaming): Mr Speaker, as you know, about two weeks ago I stood in my place to raise a point of privilege. I believe you have not reported on that, and I appreciate that, because I know it was complicated and I appreciate that you're still investigating that. I want to bring a further document to your attention that relates to that first point of privilege.

As you will remember, I stood on a point of privilege because I had a memo that had been circulated from an assistant deputy minister in Correctional Services to all the area managers and superintendents that those managers were to report on any activity that their employees embarked upon at an MPP's office. At that time, I felt that impinged upon my privilege to freely associate with my constituents.

Mr Speaker, it becomes worse than that. I have here a confidential -- because it's marked "Confidential. Not to be copied or distributed." It's a guideline for ministry strike response teams and line managers. This is August, 1995, Management Board Secretariat. It's a document, Illegal Strike Response Guide for the Ontario Public Service. In it -- it's very lengthy -- it defines what an illegal strike is, what those actions could be and what to do. It also lists other potential activities in this. It talks about demonstrations during lunch and outside working hours. It talks about buttons and armbands or T-shirts.

Much of this isn't new, as has been pointed out before. Previous governments have wanted to make sure that the civil service conducts itself in a professional manner, and I can understand that.

But also on the bottom of this page -- and I will later on submit this to you, Mr Speaker -- it says, "Complaints to MPPs," and the sentence here goes beyond what I brought to you previously. It says that, "Although these activities may not constitute a legal/illegal strike, records should be kept, as this action may be course for discipline."

So what we have here is a document from this government, circulated to its senior managers, to say that, "You must keep a record of any complaints that employees make to their MPPs, as this action may be course for discipline."

Mr Speaker, I think this ratchets it up to a degree that relates to many of the points of order that have been circulating in this place as of late, that this government is one of the most punitive governments we have seen, and I take this very, very seriously -- whether you're a government member or an opposition member, I think all members of this House should take this very seriously -- that employees of the Ontario civil service could possibly be disciplined for making a complaint to their MPP. I will leave this in your hands, Mr Speaker.


The Speaker (Hon Allan K. McLean): Further points of privilege on the previous point of privilege.


Hon Ernie L. Eves (Deputy Premier, Minister of Finance and Government House Leader): I would like to respond to both the points of order raised by the leader of the official opposition and to the point of privilege raised by the member for Renfrew North.

Firstly, with respect to the points made by the leader of the official opposition, she made a point with respect to copies of the legislation the day that Bill 26 was introduced last Wednesday, November 29. I want to inform the House that as has been the practice in this Legislature, at least since I have been here in 1981, copies of this legislation were left on both the critics' desks --

Mrs Elinor Caplan (Oriole): I didn't get one.

Hon Mr Eves: Just a minute. Before the Finance critic for the Liberal Party chuckles, there have been many days in my duties as a House leader for an opposition party. It is my duty as the House leader to search out the desks, as I have done in 10 years in opposition, to find copies of bills, and when that particular critic is not there it is the House leader's responsibility to then distribute it to the appropriate member of his or her caucus. In addition to that, a copy of the bill was given to the staff of each opposition party as the bill was introduced.

So, the leader of the official opposition, I see some of the very staff on whose seat the copy was placed, as has been the practice in this place for 135 years, by the way, in case you're interested. I see the very staff members shaking their heads. If they weren't here at introduction of bills, that is hardly my place.

Mrs Caplan: Yes, it is your place.

Hon Mr Eves: No, it is not my place.

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

Hon Mr Eves: If he chooses not to come to work, that's his problem, not mine.

That has been the practice in this place all the 15 years I've been here. I can't tell you how many times I scurried around on the desks over there picking up copies of bills, statements, and giving them to the appropriate member.

Mr Gerry Phillips (Scarborough-Agincourt): On a point of privilege, Mr Speaker: He is saying some things that he knows are ridiculous and untrue. The minister knows full well that at 9 o'clock on Wednesday morning last week I went into the lockup, and you know that, and to imply that I wasn't at work is smearing me and I find it, frankly, insulting and beneath you.

Hon Mr Eves: The member for Scarborough-Agincourt is truly amazing. I wasn't even referring to him. Clean out your ears, listen to what's said instead of what you want to be said on your behalf. I said staff --


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


The Speaker: Order. Could we have some order, please.

Mr Garry J. Guzzo (Ottawa-Rideau): Throw them all out.

Mr Bruce Crozier (Essex South): We might as well be out. You guys won't let us do anything.

The Speaker: The member for Essex South is out of order and I won't warn him again.

Hon Mr Eves: Furthermore, with respect to the points of order raised by the leader of the official opposition, Bill 26 has been ruled to be in order by yourself today. There is nothing out of order with respect to Bill 26.

The leader of the official opposition really is trying to find a way around standing order 13(b) that says, "No debate shall be permitted on any such decision, and no such decision shall be subject to an appeal to the House." That was a standing order that she is well aware of. It is a standing order that's been in place for some time in this Legislature, and really, to be truthful, what the leader of the official opposition is trying to do is raise another point of order which really merely revisits the original point of order which you have already ruled on.

Mr James J. Bradley (St Catharines): No, no, no.

Hon Mr Eves: Yes, that's exactly what she's doing.

And with respect to her point talking about the bill having relevance and what is contained in the bill, the bill 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. We've already discussed in this place with respect to that point of order raised last Thursday. We've already addressed that issue. The issue has already been decided.

Furthermore, Mr Speaker, I would refer you to Beauchesne's fifth edition, page 39, section 119(1): "Speakers' rulings, once given, belong to the House, which, under standing order 12, must accept them without appeal or debate. They become precedents and form part of the rules of procedure. The Speaker is not vested with the power to alter them of his own accord."

I've only begun to respond to the points of order raised by the leader of the official opposition. She also referred in her remarks to the practice of omnibus bills. I would like to suggest to you, Mr Speaker, as indeed has been the case, that the Speaker does not make the rules of the Legislature; the House does. The Speaker's role is to interpret them and to enforce them. A Speaker could not change a rule or create a new rule even if he or she wanted. I think the authority there is abundantly clear.

While I can understand the frustration of the opposition members with respect to omnibus bills, the fact remains, as Speaker Sauvé pointed out in the House of Commons and, as has been pointed out and alluded to by yourself earlier this afternoon, by several Speakers of several different political parties in this place, that the House determines the rules, not the Speaker, and that there has never, ever in the history of Canadian Parliament been an omnibus bill that has been ruled out of order by a Speaker, simply because it is not within the purview of the Speaker under our standing orders or the standing orders in the House of Commons, or any other province for that matter, for the Speaker to do so.

With respect to the practice of calling the House back, which the leader of the official opposition referred to and which the member for Oriole referred to a couple of weeks ago, we have called the House back in accordance with the parliamentary calendar. That is more than I can say for those two parties. Five years between 1985 and 1990, and five years between 1990 and 1995, I sat over there while those two parties totally abused the parliamentary calendar: never sat according to the calendar, or almost never; always made up reasons why they couldn't come back on time. David Peterson was famous for it. Bob Rae was so famous for it, last year the House hardly sat at all. It sat for about five and a half weeks out of a whole year. And now we hear Chicken Little screaming over there about wanting the House to sit. David Peterson never did it. She was a member of that cabinet. I don't remember her standing up on points of privilege saying, "Why didn't the House come back?"

Mr Bradley: On a point of privilege, Mr Speaker: Surely you would consider the term "Chicken Little" out of order in reference to the leader of the New Democratic Party as made by the government House leader.

Hon Mr Eves: I withdraw that comment. It was inappropriate and the member for St Catharines quite rightly points that out.

With respect to coming back on September 26 of this year, the parliamentary calendar said we should come back on September 25.

Mrs Caplan: You said in the election you'd be back in the summer.

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

Hon Mr Eves: I said no such thing.

Mr John Gerretsen (Kingston and The Islands): Oh yes you did.

Hon Mr Eves: I did not.

The Speaker: Order.

Hon Mr Eves: I said no such thing. I challenge any member to prove otherwise with respect to that comment.

Rosh Hashanah is an important holiday of people of the Jewish faith. I approached both opposition House leaders to see if it would be appropriate for the House to return on the 26th, understanding that the holiday, according to some in the Jewish faith, extends until sundown on the 26th. I approached both opposition House leaders that the House come back late in the afternoon on the 26th.

Mrs Caplan: Mike Harris said July.

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

Hon Mr Eves: I asked both opposition House leaders to check, in the case of the Liberal House leader, with the member for Oriole and the member for Wilson Heights, to ensure that we had that consensus and agreement. I also asked the House leader for the third party to check with his leader to make sure that met with his approval. I was assured by both House leaders on a couple of occasions that that was appropriate. To now have the leader of the third party, and two weeks ago to have the member for Oriole, screaming that they didn't agree to come back on the 26th is totally inappropriate and not factually accurate, and I suspect they know that.

With respect to the point of privilege of the member for Renfrew North, I think the member for Renfrew North does have a point. I indicated in the House yesterday and I also indicated in a House leaders' meeting last Thursday morning that I would be going back to my cabinet colleagues prior to this morning's caucus meeting. I would be asking of them what parts, if any, of the legislation they felt they did not need.

I also asked that the same courtesy be extended to us from the two opposition House leaders, to come back to me, to indicate to me what parts of the bill, if any, they felt comfortable in passing. To date, neither one of them has got back to me, except that Mr Cooke, the member for Windsor-Riverside, the House leader for the third party of course chose to respond by issuing an open letter. I will leave it for members of the public to determine whether that was PR-motivated or whether it was a sincere response to my request of last Thursday morning.

I did confer with my colleagues, as I undertook to do. There will be a response to both House leaders this afternoon with respect to the House leader of the third party's letter to me and our previous deliberations. They indeed will be offered some committee time with public hearings.

I would just like to say that I find the points of order and the interruptions of the Legislature, although I would agree it is their democratic right, to be --

Mr Dwight Duncan (Windsor-Walkerville): Then split the bill up, Ernie.

Hon Mr Eves: No -- to be certainly not conducive to helping discussions among or between House leaders. If you really want to achieve a solution to this --

Mr Frank Miclash (Kenora): You don't remember sitting over here, Ernie?

Hon Mr Eves: Yes, I do remember sitting over there, I say to the honourable member. That's exactly why I'm having this discussion right now.

I will say to members of the official opposition that they may not concur with what is offered, and I understand that. But I am going to tell you right now, Mr Speaker, that what will be offered is far more debate time on second reading of this bill than the previous government gave to opposition parties with all their omnibus bills combined. I will also say that with respect to committee time --

Mrs Caplan: Public hearings.

Hon Mr Eves: -- with public hearings, I say to the member for Oriole, the number of hours offered will be the equivalent of many, many weeks of regular sittings of the committee or those committees to which the bill may be referred.

There will be this afternoon an offer made, responding to the House leaders of the other two parties, as I undertook to do. It will be for them to decide whether they choose to accept it, but the offer indeed will be made, as I undertook to do last Thursday morning.

The Speaker: I would like to recess for 10 minutes to confer with the table, and I will come back.

The House recessed from 1455 to 1505.


The Speaker (Hon Allan K. McLean): I'd like to rule on Mr Conway's point of privilege first. I don't know whether he's coming back in or not, but I can go ahead anyway. I want to thank him for his presentation, as well as that of the government House leader.

After due consideration, I find that the honourable member does not have a point of privilege even though he put forward his frustration about the process. In doing so, he made points that I must agree with and that had been covered in my ruling. He is right that this matter is one for the House leaders and not for the Speaker.

The other points of privilege by Mrs McLeod: I have already ruled that it is not for a Speaker to categorize bills. There is no procedural distinction to be made between types of bills. Furthermore, my ruling refers to the precedent set in the House when on April 23, 1988, Treasurer Robert Nixon introduced budget bills before making his budget statement the next day. As to your last point, I'm fully aware of my obligations and responsibilities as Speaker.


The Speaker (Hon Allan K. McLean): I would also like to rule on the member for Timiskaming. I've taken that under advisement and I will report back to you later.


Mrs Lyn McLeod (Leader of the Opposition): Mr Speaker, if I may, on a point of order: first of all, an explanation for the ruling you've just offered, which I know is in order under the rules of the House.

The Speaker (Hon Allan K. McLean): The Speaker's ruling is final.

Mrs McLeod: I understand that, Mr Speaker, but I do need a clarification of your ruling in two respects.

The Speaker: No. The clarifications have been made.

Mrs McLeod: Mr Speaker, I am sorry, but it is a requirement of you as Speaker to explain your rulings to the House.

The Speaker: I have given my ruling.

Mrs McLeod: We cannot challenge your ruling but we can ask for an explanation, and I would ask you to explain, as you have used as a precedent for your ruling the fact that Treasurer Robert Nixon introduced a budget bill prior to the introduction of the actual budget, how that addresses my question, which is whether you can have a budget bill, which you have conceded it as being, in the absence of a budget. That was the question, Mr Speaker, which I don't believe you've addressed.

The Speaker: Order. We have had a lot of points of order, a lot of debate. I'd like to move on with the proceedings of the day.


Mr James J. Bradley (St Catharines): On a point of order, Mr Speaker: When the government House leader was speaking this afternoon, he indicated how much time would be available to all of us as members of the House -- you, as one of the members of the House -- for consideration of Bill 26 and that there would be some committee time. He has now conceded there shall be some committee time, maybe some public hearings out there. But I ask you, as the Speaker, how can this be if indeed the government is going to proceed with Bill 26 this afternoon?

The Speaker (Hon Allan K. McLean): It will be up to the House leaders to meet and to determine how they want to deal with it. I've heard that they want to meet and deal with it and it'll be up to them; it's not up to me.

Mrs Lyn McLeod (Leader of the Opposition): Mr Speaker, on a point of order: In respect to your ruling on this matter that it is the responsibility of the House leaders to determine whether this bill should be divided, I would ask you to rule, therefore, as per the orders of the day, that Bill 26 cannot be called and debated today in advance of the meeting of the House leaders because, as you've rightly said, the House leaders must determine division.

The Speaker: We will proceed with the question period.

Mrs McLeod: Mr Speaker, will you not indicate whether or not you are prepared to explain your ruling as to whether or not you can have a budget bill in the absence --

The Speaker: It's not my place to rule what the House leaders are going to do, nor is it my place to rule what's on the agenda. Perhaps after question period, it would be in order then to do that.

Mrs McLeod: Mr Speaker, with respect, you recessed the House in order to consult with the table in order to rule on the points of order which I raised. You did not indicate when I raised these points that they were out of order. You therefore have come back and made a ruling on them.

Mr Speaker, with all due respect, you have not ruled on the specific points of order I raised. The point of order I raised -- and in fact you indirectly implied that my point of order was valid by referencing the precedent of Mr Nixon, who introduced a budget bill prior to his budget being read. That relates very directly to the point of order I did raise, which you have not ruled on. I'd be happy, Mr Speaker, if you want to take another recess to rule on this point as well, because the point of order I raised was whether or not you can introduce a budget bill -- you have clearly decided this is a budget bill -- when there is no budget. That, Mr Speaker, was the point of order, and you have not given us the ruling.

The Speaker: I will review the Hansard and I'll report back.

Mrs McLeod: Can I expect that tomorrow then? Mr Speaker, I'm happy to have that ruling.

The Speaker: I will have to tell the honourable member that I have given my ruling and there will be no further debate.

Mr Alvin Curling (Scarborough North): Point of privilege, Mr Speaker.

Mrs McLeod: Point of privilege, Mr Speaker.

The Speaker: No. What's your point of privilege, the member for Scarborough North.

Mr Curling: This is what I'm going to state. Are we both on our feet?

The Speaker: I just recognized you.

Mr Curling: Okay, good. Thank you very much, Mr Speaker. I don't want to refer to your ruling itself and the talk about the lockup. My privilege was being denied as a member.

The Speaker: Order. I have ruled on the proceedings of those days. I have heard the debate. It was in my ruling today, referring to the lockup. My ruling today referred to the lockup. You're wanting to debate my ruling. My ruling is not debatable.

Mr Curling: Mr Speaker, I'm not debating your ruling. You talked about a lockup. I was locked up and I tell you my privileges are being denied, Mr Speaker, and I'd ask you to hear it.

The Speaker: No. I've heard it. With regard to the lockup, I ruled on that today in my statement and there's no further debate on my ruling.

Mr Curling: I am talking about your security, a matter of your security that you are in charge of, Mr Speaker. I'm not talking about the lockup itself. I'm talking about the security that you have enforced that held me in a certain place.

The Speaker: Is this a new point of privilege?

Mr Curling: That's what I'm trying to say to you, Mr Speaker. When I went into that area to be briefed, I had to sign a document that tells me, and I'd like to read that document so you understand it. I don't know when the minister here is --


The Speaker: Order, the member for London North.

Mr Curling: Mr Speaker, as a member, I was requested to attend a lockup, and I had to sign this when I went in. They asked me, I must sign a document before I could go in, and I would like to read this.

"I, the undersigned, undertake and declare that in consideration of being furnished with a copy of the intended Ontario Fiscal and Economic Statement and supporting documents and/or being permitted to enter the lockup and to leave the lockup, as described below, to return to the Legislature, I will neither transmit the documents of the intended Fiscal and Economic Statement in any form to anyone outside the lockup nor disclose by any means to anyone outside the lockup the contents or proposals of the intended Fiscal and Economic Statement to the Legislature.

"I further undertake, and I declare, that I have no cellular phone, radio transmitter, electronic device or other equipment in my possession that would permit the transmission of information by any means to the location of a receiver outside the lockup."

Mr Speaker --

The Speaker: Order. I gave the ruling with regard to the lockup. I had nothing to do with it. If you want to challenge the Speaker's ruling, which is unchallengeable, no.

Mr Curling: If you allow me, Speaker, I'll go to the last line of --

The Speaker: No. We have had enough discussion with regard to my statement. My ruling is final. In my ruling I talk about the lockup and I talk about the rules and I talk about the members. I don't need to hear any more about it.

Mr Curling: But you didn't talk about the security that held me, Mr Speaker, that you are in charge of.

The Speaker: Resume your seat, please.

Mr Curling: You are in charge of the security that held me and refused --

The Speaker: Resume your seat. Minister of Health, ministerial statements.

Mrs McLeod: Point of order, Mr Speaker.

Hon Jim Wilson (Minister of Health): I'm announcing today --

The Speaker: You have a new point of order? Minister, resume your seat. A new point of order.

Mrs McLeod: Yes, a new point of order, Mr Speaker: The Minister of Finance and government House leader has indicated that he is prepared to look at division of the bill and I would ask you to determine what effect that has on the subsequent orders of the day.

The Speaker: It has no effect at all.

Mrs McLeod: Then, Mr Speaker, I would raise two points of privilege which I think need raising.

The Speaker: No, we have had all kinds of points of privilege, unless it's on a different subject. On a new point of privilege?

Mrs McLeod: Mr Speaker, they are two new points of privilege. They are unique to me alone as a member of the assembly, so these are individual points of privilege which I raise with you.

The first point of privilege was raised in a different way and you referred to it earlier in terms of the hearing of points of privilege. I believe, Mr Speaker, in an earlier ruling today, you referred, I think quite appropriately, to the application of 21(b), which says that matters of privilege must be heard immediately. But as I understood your ruling, it was to say that was only true once there has been established a prima facie case that the point of privilege is a valid point of privilege, and at that point it can take immediate precedence over proceedings that must be dealt with.

It's also my understanding that the hearing of a point of privilege can interrupt any proceeding, and that, obviously, in order to establish whether a point of privilege has a prima facie case, you must hear the point of privilege first.

I refer you back to last Wednesday, when I rose on a point of privilege in the House. I rose and was not heard, Mr Speaker, by you, as you chose to adjourn the House at this point. I spoke immediately afterwards to the Clerk of the assembly. It was my understanding, and it was confirmed at that time to be a correct understanding, that had I risen on a point of privilege at any point when the Minister of Finance was delivering his statement, I would have to have been heard, that you must hear a point of personal privilege and that it can interrupt the proceedings at any time.

Mr Speaker, I did not raise my point of privilege while the minister was speaking. I believe it is a long-established courtesy of this House, with one exception within my memory, that the Minister of Finance has an opportunity uninterrupted to deliver a financial statement or a budget. I respected that right. I rose before the minister had sat down, and yet I was not heard by you, not even to make my point of privilege, let alone for you to determine whether it was a valid point of privilege.

I was informed by the Clerk that the order under which you were operating as Speaker was an order of the day which directed you to adjourn the House immediately following the reading of the financial statement. I submit to you, Mr Speaker, that because I was on my feet before the minister sat down -- and of course I had no way of knowing that you were going to determine that applause was not immediately following the statement and you could allow the applause to continue but my point of privilege could not be heard. I believe that since I was on my feet the moment the minister finished speaking, I was indeed in order and my point of privilege should have been heard.

The Speaker: I ruled on that point of privilege in my ruling. It's in there; it's very clear in my ruling.

Mrs McLeod: I'm sorry, you did not rule on my point.

The Speaker: You read my statement. You review the Hansard. I made that ruling today.

Mrs McLeod: I did read it very carefully. You said that a motion of privilege --

The Speaker: Whoa, order. I understand the rule that when the Speaker's standing, the members are to resume their seats. Would the member resume her seat, please.

Mrs McLeod: I will, then I have a second point of privilege which I will raise, Mr Speaker.

The Speaker: A new point of privilege?

Mrs McLeod: Yes, a new point of privilege, although I do not believe, Mr Speaker, that you have ruled on my original point of privilege.


Mrs Lyn McLeod (Leader of the Opposition): My second point of privilege also relates directly to me and it is an individual point of privilege. Mr Speaker, as you will know, last Thursday I made a charge to the Premier that was unparliamentary. I recognize the fact that it was unparliamentary. You gave me an opportunity to withdraw. I said that I could not withdraw a statement that I believe to be true, and I therefore withdrew from the House, knowing that you had no choice but to name me on that day.

I was somewhat surprised when I came into the House yesterday afternoon, although I had contacted the Clerk's office earlier in the day, expecting that as Leader of the Opposition I would be able to come back in the House, ask the lead questions and indeed participate in the budget debate, as I came prepared to do.


I was informed by the Clerk that you indeed, Mr Speaker, should have named me on Thursday but that you had neglected to do that. I draw your attention to the fact that the leader of the third party was also in violation of the code of the use of non-parliamentary language, that you asked him if he would withdraw, that he said he could not and he left the House. Apparently, you did remember to officially name him on that day and therefore the leader of the third party was allowed to participate in yesterday's proceedings.

I do feel that because of, I say with respect, Mr Speaker, a perhaps understandable error you made on Thursday, I was therefore named yesterday, a second time indicated that I could not withdraw my earlier statements, and forced a second time to serve the penalty of not being allowed to participate in the proceedings of the House.

Mr Speaker, with due respect, I feel that because of an error you made last Thursday, my privileges as a member have been abused.

The Speaker: I should clarify that the ruling that was made last Thursday -- Mr Conway had left the same way; the member for Oriole had left the same way; the member for Oriole came back in and was named and left; Mr Conway came back in and withdrew. You didn't come back in again.

Would you resume your seat, please, till I'm finished?

When you came back in, you didn't come back in the same day or you would have been named. When you did come back in, the first opportunity I had to name you was yesterday.

Mrs McLeod: With respect, there was a fundamental difference, if you will review Hansard, and I would ask you to do that. Both the member for Oriole and the member for Renfrew North left without being asked whether they would withdraw. I was asked if I would withdraw. I said I could not and left the House. That is a difference, Mr Speaker. Obviously, I've served my time and served it twice. But I do feel, Mr Speaker, that you should recognize the abuse of my privileges.



Hon Jim Wilson (Minister of Health): I'm announcing today a reinvestment in preventive health care funding to benefit Ontario's children and young people. With this announcement today, we are taking positive steps to eradicate measles in Ontario.

We said in the throne speech that immunization against childhood diseases was a priority for this government. We said we would reinvest the savings we find in health care. We said that Ontario's children and youth are important to us.

Between February 1 and the end of June 1996, public health providers will give all school pupils a second dose of measles vaccine. We are immunizing an entire generation, more than two million children and youth, which will serve to protect the whole population.

Let me tell you that measles is not just a harmless childhood disease. It can cause hearing loss, pneumonia, brain damage and death.


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

Hon Mr Wilson: One in every 3,000 children who gets the disease will die.

Right now, Ontario children require a single dose of measles vaccine to attend school. It is effective in 90% to 95% of youngsters.


Hon Mr Wilson: Mr Speaker, I would appreciate, on behalf of the two million children in this province, a little lowering of the volume so I could hear myself think. I think the people of Ontario are quite interested. They're not as interested in the gamesmanship that's been displayed in this House over the last two hours.


The Speaker: Order.

Mr Bruce Crozier (Essex South): On a point of privilege, Mr Speaker: The minister has just made some reference to the gamesmanship in the House in the last couple of hours. I suspect that --

The Speaker: That's not a point of privilege. Will the member resume his seat, please. There's nothing out of order. Minister?

Hon Mr Wilson: A second dose of measles vaccine raises protection to almost 100%. The vaccine that will be used is safe, as it has been in use in Ontario for more than 20 years.

Following this initiative, we will initiate a second dose of measles vaccine as a standard requirement for all children entering school in Ontario. Right now in Ontario, children only get one round of measles vaccination. From now on, they will get two doses of measles vaccination prior to entering and registering for school.

Local public health departments will be delivering the campaign against measles. These front-line providers of public health care have always delivered excellent service. They will work with the cooperation of Ontario's physicians, schools, teachers and administrators, local school boards and the Ministry of Education and Training.

Thereafter, physicians will immunize children with a second dose prior to school entry.

Ontario is taking the lead in Canada. We are the first province to announce such an all-encompassing program. Our campaign is the largest immunization program in the history of Ontario, and its timing could not be better.

We are leading the way, as part of national and international agreements, to eradicate measles in the western hemisphere and around the world. Globally, measles kill one million children each year. There are serious concerns that 1996 may bring a major outbreak to Ontario.

Moreover, I'm delighted to announce that we have purchased the measles vaccine from Connaught Laboratories Ltd of North York. It was a competitive tender and Connaught Laboratories was the successful bidder. That means our health care reinvestment will not only protect our young people; it will also provide jobs for Ontarians. We are delighted that this local manufacturer has the technical excellence to be one of the leading suppliers of this vaccine, and we are delighted to be entering into partnerships with the private sector to help protect the children and youth of Ontario.

I want to thank a number of experts who had been with us in the gallery earlier today and were with me at the press conference earlier today. They provided advice in developing this program and they've lent their support to helping to implement this important initiative.

They are Dr Richard Schabas, who is Ontario's chief medical officer of health; Peter Elson and Winston Miller, the executive director and president, respectively, of the Ontario Public Health Association; Al Northan, who's president of the Association of Local Official Health Agencies; John Spika, who's director of the Bureau of Infectious Diseases at Canada's Laboratory Centre for Disease Control; Dr Ron Gold from Toronto's Hospital for Sick Children; Jim Ramsay and Dr Pierre Lavigne of Connaught Laboratories; and finally, Dr Verna Mai, who's a member of the Ontario Medical Association's population health committee. All these people should receive the congratulations of all members of this House for their hard work in this historic initiative for the children and young people of this province.

Mrs Elinor Caplan (Oriole): I listened carefully to the minister's statement, which was previously announced by the chief medical officer of health at a meeting of the Ontario Public Health Association, and I believe that immunization for measles is a very important part of public health.

I would also say to the minister that if he is concerned about the health of children in the province of Ontario, proper nutrition, a decent and safe place to live, care before and after school and, for those who are not in school a full day, child care are extremely important. Children, when they are sick, need access to drugs, and we know that as a result of the policies of this government the parents of some 400,000 children who have already had a cut of over 21% in their welfare social assistance support will have to pay a user fee for drugs when their children get sick.

I'm not going to hold the minister responsible, because in fact he is the Minister of Health and these are Comsoc initiatives: cuts to child care, cuts to social assistance support, initiatives around cuts in child care, and also the cuts to second-stage housing for women and their children who are leaving abusive and violent situations at home.

I would say to the minister that I have been looking up some of the things he had to say when he was in opposition. He is responsible for Bill 26, the most draconian, the most anti-democratic, the most dictatorial piece of legislation, the most absolute powers that any Minister of Health has ever attempted to amass.

I would say to him that yesterday in this House he also did a public relations statement designed to suggest to the people of this province that he was listening, and today the Ontario Medical Association says it had not been consulted or informed about further initiatives the minister referred to.

I would remind the minister of his own words: "When the government refuses to listen to the people of Ontario, we have no choice in opposition but to get up and, as forcefully as every fibre in our body can muster, bring forth the points, the issues and the concerns we are hearing from the people of Ontario." You said that when you stood on this side of the House, sir. I remind you of those words as you talk about the health of children in this province. This initiative today does not do enough to ensure the health of our children.




Mr James J. Bradley (St Catharines): My question is to the Deputy Premier, who is also the government House leader.

Much as I dislike negotiating in public, I saw the House leader blink, and when the House leader blinks I know it's a good sign, so I want to ask him the following: In view of the fact that you, as an individual who has sat on this side of the House and on that side of the House, are aware of how important the democratic system is -- I presume -- and how important it is for governments not to make mistakes by moving too quickly and too drastically and not examining the ramifications of the measures they are implementing in the House through their bills, are you now prepared this afternoon, at long last, to say you will divide this bill into a number of bills to be discussed between the House leaders so we can consider those bills in an appropriate fashion with all the necessary details, with a full debate, and hopefully, without the use of closure?

Hon Ernie L. Eves (Deputy Premier, Minister of Finance and Government House Leader): I am not prepared to undertake negotiation with respect to House leaders' matters across the floor during question period. I am, however, going to respond to both House leaders this afternoon with respect to the requests that they have made.

Mr Bradley: What we in the opposition have asked for, and as I'm sure at least some members of the government caucus must have told you this morning at your caucus meeting, is appropriate consideration of this bill.

Are you, in addition to providing ample time to deal with the bills contained within this bill, prepared to ensure that there will be appropriate time given -- and that's generous time given -- to public hearings across this province so that individuals who have concerns about the bill or who may wish to express support for the bills we have before us, contained in the omnibus bill, will have this opportunity for input and so we can have the best possible legislation emerge at the end of the day?

Hon Mr Eves: As I indicated in response to the initial question, I am not going to respond to specifics during question period. I will respond to the request of the other two House leaders later today and they can decide whether that offer is acceptable or not acceptable.

Mr Bradley: I think the people of this province are very interested in what's happening now, quite obviously. Initially, most people are not. I'm sure, as I say, the political geniuses and the whiz kids and the others I described the other day, the backroom people who advise governments, will tell you that you can get this through, that we're approaching Christmas and the interest will shift to other matters out there and you really don't have to worry, that if you want to, you can simply bulldoze it through this House and in a couple of months from now a lot of people will forget about it.

That's why I'm asking you today, this afternoon, with the people of this province watching, in a very open and democratic way, will you give an undertaking to sit well beyond Christmas, into January, February, even March if you wish, so these bills can be considered appropriately, bills that give sweeping powers to the Minister of Health, for instance, to be able to close a hospital in the ridings of any one of the people who sit in this Legislature; that give him other important powers, absolute powers, to be able to tell doctors when and where they shall practise; that give municipalities -- and I know, Mr Speaker, you'd be interested in this -- the ability to create new regional municipalities or amalgamate municipalities without the consent of this Legislature?

Are you prepared, first, to split the bill into several bills; second, to have public hearings with input across the province; and third, if necessary, to sit in January and February of the coming year to deal with this important legislation with many ramifications for this province?

Hon Mr Eves: I repeat the answer I've given on the first two questions. I have told the honourable House leader that I will be responding to both him and his third-party counterpart this afternoon with a proposal, and that's exactly what I intend to do.


Mrs Elinor Caplan (Oriole): To the government House leader, to the Deputy Premier and to the Finance minister: One of the reasons I am asking if you will today commit to full public hearings on every aspect of Bill 26 that affects health is that in just one section -- and I've just had a briefing from ministry officials and a chance to review the legislation -- in just the Health Insurance Act, schedule H, it says -- and I believe this needs public hearings and I'm asking if you will commit to make sure that the people have a right to know what this legislation contains -- to paraphrase, that every person who uses health services in the province of Ontario will automatically consent to allow the general manager access to their health records.

In light of that and in view of the fact that this same part of the legislation says the minister or the general manager may disclose information obtained under this act, that is, health records of individuals, and that if they do that, as a previous minister did and was forced to resign her seat because she disclosed that information, your Minister of Health or your general manager would be safe, harmless: "No action lies against the minister or the general manager, or any member of the staff of either of them, or any person or organization, for disclosing information in accordance with the act" --

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

Mrs Caplan: Minister, will you guarantee that you will permit full public hearings so that provisions in this legislation, and this is just one, can receive full public scrutiny?

Hon Ernie L. Eves (Deputy Premier, Minister of Finance and Government House Leader): With respect to the health aspect of Bill 26, I would refer the question to the Minister of Health, and she already has my response to her House leader.

Hon Jim Wilson (Minister of Health): The honourable member for Oriole is in error with respect to her interpretation of that section of the act. She will know that further in the act we are amending, in no way can the Minister of Health or inspector or supervisor or any general manager of OHIP disclose public information and in any way override the Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act. The privacy act is supreme and those provisions are not overridden by anything we're doing.

Mrs Caplan: I would point out to the minister that this act says very clearly, "No action lies against the minister or the general manager, or any member of the staff of either of them, or any other person or organization, for disclosing information in accordance with the act." That allows the general manager to have access to the health records of the people of the province of Ontario simply because they have accessed service.

Further, I would say to the minister that for the very first time in the province of Ontario a Minister of Health can appoint an inspector, not someone from the Medical Review Committee, not someone from the College of Physicians and Surgeons, but an inspector who can -- and this is in the legislation: "The minister may appoint persons as inspectors who shall act only under the direction of the general manager" of the health insurance plan, "To enter and inspect premises where insured services are provided" and carry out inspections, "To inspect and receive information from health records or from notes, charts and other material relating to patient care and to reproduce and retain copies of them," and that this inspection can be at any reasonable time without notice.


This is an unprecedented power for any Minister of Health. Do you believe that with these kinds of powers the public should be able to come to public hearings and understand and have their say?

Hon Mr Wilson: Again the honourable member for Oriole is in error. This is not an unprecedented power. First of all, the exemption-from-liability clauses are contained in several dozen pieces of legislation. She and I sat in the social development committee when we were in opposition and she will know of many references to exemption from liability with respect to the crown and those officers who act on behalf of the crown, like the general manager and his or her inspectors.

Second, I'm glad she asked about this section. This government has a zero tolerance policy with respect to health card fraud. Those provisions in the act will allow us to get to the root of the fraud problem in this province, something she failed to do when she introduced the silly red and white health cards, with which there's no way to figure out whether somebody from America is coming in and using our health care system, no way your health card is hooked up to a common database. The provisions in this act will allow us finally to nip fraud in the bud and actually enforce our policy of zero tolerance with respect to ripping off the taxpayers in this province.

Mrs Caplan: The Minister of Health has finally admitted to just some of the powers he is amassing unto himself, powers to have access to patient records, power to appoint inspectors to enter any doctor's office or health facility and copy those records, powers that, I would say to you with all due respect, the police do not have, that the RCMP do not have and that CSIS does not have. I would respectfully suggest that he and his government are attempting to have these new powers without any public hearings, without any public scrutiny, and I would say to him that the people of this province will not stand for that and you will not get away with it.

Hon Mr Wilson: Again the honourable member for Oriole is in error.

Mrs Caplan: No, I am not.

Hon Mr Wilson: You certainly are. The powers of inspectors are contained across a number of ministries and a number of different pieces of legislation. For example, today a public health officer who wants to inspect a restaurant or look after food quality and other public health measures has very similar inspection powers as we are now bestowing in the OHIP area to ensure that we stem both patient fraud and also any provider fraud that might be going on in the system. We want to make sure that where needed, the officials -- and it's not the Minister of Health, it's officials -- have the authority.

You will certainly know that in the Nursing Homes Act, inspectors today can go in and inspect all the records, including patient records. There are numerous other acts -- I have a list of them pages long, I say to the member -- in which similar powers exist. The people of Ontario should not get worried. This is not unprecedented and it is not new. It is a tool to ensure that we nip fraud in the bud. Anyone out there who has nothing to hide from the general manager of OHIP has nothing to fear from this provision in this act.


Mrs Lyn McLeod (Leader of the Opposition): My question is to the Minister of Finance and the government House leader. Minister, you have today essentially indicated that the reason you brought in this omnibus bill is that you need the measures contained in the bill to implement your expenditure cuts.

You have given us no budget; you have refused to give us a budget. You have left out of your expenditure statement some rather critical things that we would have found in a budget in terms of your budgetary goals, your revenue sources and the way in which you were going to make further cuts. But you have given us an omnibus bill, a big, bad budget bill, in order to implement the budgetary measures you have introduced in your expenditure statement.

You have also indicated today that you will be approaching the cabinet to determine what particular parts of this omnibus bill your colleagues might not need. Minister, you will be aware, as we all are, that you as government House leader have placed on the orders of the day the second reading of the omnibus bill, undivided.

In order for us to enter into this debate this afternoon, I believe you have an obligation to tell us what parts of this bill you are prepared to take out for separate consideration so that we may debate them fully. Most particularly, has the Minister of Health indicated that any part of the sweeping powers provided to that minister -- the kinds of powers which have just been outlined only in the beginning by our critic the member for Oriole -- are powers which he does not need to bring about your budget cuts?

Hon Ernie L. Eves (Deputy Premier, Minister of Finance and Government House Leader): I believe there were actually several questions asked by the leader of the official opposition, and I will attempt to answer them.

With respect to the particulars in the economic statement delivered on November 29 and her assertion that there are no particulars, I would say that exactly the contrary is true. With respect to the economic statements delivered on both July 21 and again on November 29, there are full and sufficient particulars with respect to the budgetary year 1995-96. With respect to future years, she will get that in the 1996 budget, as has been the practice in this place.

With respect to her question referring to the specific legislation, no, I have not received an indication from the Minister of Health, to answer her question very directly, that he is prepared to forgo at this particular time any of the sections in Bill 26 relating to his ministry.

Mrs McLeod: One of the things we have been hearing about the future and the budget, which presumably is to be presented next spring, from both the Premier and the Minister of Health is that they have made savings in the Ministry of Health and those are the very savings which they are committed at some point to reinvest.

Having presented that financial statement, you know full well that there are no savings other than those which you might realize through the user fee that is being imposed on welfare recipients and seniors and the disabled. Apart from that, all we have in relationship to the budget for the Ministry of Health is a $1.3-billion cut to hospitals.

You know that is a direct cut. It is money which is gone. It is gone to your bottom line. It is money which is gone to pay for the tax cut, which you are committed to bringing in in your spring budget. It is only a cut right now -- your ministry officials confirmed the fact that this money is a cut -- and therefore there are no savings. That $1.3 billion is gone and there are no equivalent savings. It seems to me that is exactly why your Minister of Health will not tell you he doesn't need the sweeping powers that you want to give him under this omnibus bill.

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

Mrs McLeod: He needs those powers and you need him to have those powers because it is only by forcing the closure of hospitals, and forcing the closure of hospitals fast, that you are going to get any savings at all in order to show some savings and not just a cut to health care.

Is it not true that you need to force hospital closings across this province in order to meet your commitment to your constantly changing budget target, in order to find savings which you can later reinvest so you can make honest men of the Premier and the Minister of Health?

Hon Mr Eves: First of all, we are not outlining, and I'm sure she's aware of that, a $1.3-billion cut in the fiscal year 1996-97. What we are indicating and what we indicated last Wednesday in the statement is that there is a figure of $365 million with respect to a reduction in funding to hospitals in the province for the next fiscal year; not this fiscal year, next fiscal year. There's also a statement, by the way, in the statement that some of that money will be reinvested in new initiatives in health care as they come on stream.

To the last point the honourable member directed -- pardon me, there are two more points. First of all, the exact expenditures in health care will be outlined in the 1996 budget for the fiscal year 1996-97. As much as I would like to be able to tell the honourable member, and I'm sure other people would like to know, everybody will have to wait until the 1996 budget is structured for fiscal year 1996-97 to find out the particulars of the same.

With respect to the fact that somebody is suggesting that we are forcing hospitals to close, nothing could be further from the truth. The previous government, as she is well aware, started some initiatives with respect to district health councils all across this province. Some have already taken place in restructuring; some in my own community, I might add.

Also, I would say to the honourable member, she knows full well that the Metropolitan Toronto District Health Council was well under way and came up with a recommendation, long before the economic statement or any proposed reduction to hospitals was introduced on the floor of this Legislature last Wednesday, about some of their own initiatives as to how they suggest that significant restructuring and savings could be found in the health care system in the province of Ontario, within their jurisdiction, that would provide better health care to front-line patient care, which I think is what everybody wants to do in the province of Ontario.



Mr John Hastings (Etobicoke-Rexdale): I have a question to the minister responsible for WCB reform. Over the past few months, a number of injured workers in my riding have been very concerned about the financial chaos at the WCB, particularly as a result of the bipartite board they have there -- a very incompetent one. They're concerned about a system that's unable to deal with employers who have not contributed their fair share. Some employers aren't even paying their premiums. Can the minister indicate to this House the extent and scope of the fiscal mess at the WCB on this issue?

Hon Cameron Jackson (Minister without Portfolio [Workers' Compensation Board]): First of all, I'd like to thank the honourable member for his question. I want to share a little bit of information with the members opposite about part of the financial mess we've got at the Workers' Compensation Board.

The issue about the fact that we have a serious number of late payments and non-payments, revenue that's being lost -- I want to share with the House the numbers that were involved here. Lost revenue in 1993 was $200 million; $173 million in 1994; and this year, which isn't a complete picture, it's already at $165 million. So these are huge --


Hon Mr Jackson: Well, I'm going to get to that part in my supplementary, as a matter of fact. We've been very patient over here waiting this long to get this question on, so you can be at least patient for my supplementary.

My colleague the Minister of Labour brought in Bill 15 which dealt with strengthening provisions for penalties for non-payment of employers, and also for introducing financial accountability, a strong framework within the legislation.

The truth is that in the previous five-year period of workers' compensation, bipartism has failed, the stewardship of the NDP government has failed injured workers in this province, and frankly, when one third of every premium dollar spent in this province is a charge to reduce the unfunded liability, we cannot afford to continue to write off these hundreds of millions of dollars in payments each year.

Mr Hastings: My supplementary to that informative answer from the minister deals with a concern, not only of my own but a lot of my constituents and even many Ontario citizens, that such massive amounts of money have not even been attempted to be collected. That money, as you have said, could have helped to offset the huge unfunded liability which the WCB presently has. In fact, it's come to my attention that there is a company in northern Ontario which owes the board about $2.6 million.

Can the minister indicate, as he continues to examine a range of reform options, whether this particular area of financial incompetence by the board will be a number one priority in his spring report?

Hon Mr Jackson: As I indicated earlier, it's clear that this government's early piece of legislation, Bill 15, addresses the framework for financial accountability, but clearly, additional reforms are required in order to ensure that these large write-offs do not continue. The fact is that in the last five years, under the previous government, we've had $600 million in write-offs. These are moneys that should have gone to pay down the unfunded liability, that should go in payouts to injured workers in this province.

Frankly, when you combine that with the $1.5 billion that was drawn down from the investment fund to play with the books of the WCB, when you combine these two figures, you're over $2 billion of financial mismanagement, a crisis at the WCB that wasn't created by this government; it was inherited by this government.

But frankly, the thousands of injured workers in this province have a right to make sure that our WCB is managed properly, and the employers who pay the premiums in this province have a responsibility to ensure that those who are paying their premiums are dealt with fairly. Our government is committed to those reforms, and we'll be having a discussion paper out to the community at large before Christmas of this year.


Mr Gerry Phillips (Scarborough-Agincourt): My question is to the Deputy Premier and Minister of Finance, and it is on Bill 26. I think it's indicative of why we feel there's a need for full public hearings on the bill. I just want to take one two-page aspect. For the public, this is two pages of 230 pages, I think. It has to do with the Public Service Pension Act.

The briefing we got yesterday said this: that it is the government's intention to exempt itself from the Pension Benefits Act. The Pension Benefits Act is an act designed to protect pensioners, both private sector employees and public sector employees. But this bill does this: It exempts the government from the Pension Benefits Act. It is retroactive for three years. It goes back to January 1, 1993. It is designed to save the government $225 million of benefits that would be payable, we were told, to the 10,000 people that would lose their jobs as a result of the restructuring.

Can the minister confirm what we were told yesterday, that the intent of those two pages is to exempt the government from the Pension Benefits Act, to take $225 million worth of savings and deny benefits to 10,000 people as a result of that?

Hon Ernie L. Eves (Deputy Premier, Minister of Finance and Government House Leader): I'll refer this aspect of Bill 26 to the Chair of Management Board. It's his responsibility.

Hon David Johnson (Chair of the Management Board of Cabinet): This particular act, as the member has indicated, was structured to ensure that employees were dealt with fairly when the number of employees was being reduced and the firms were being wound up. Now, that's not the case for the province of Ontario. It is certainly true that the province of Ontario will be reducing the number of employees. We have clearly announced the intent, through the election and subsequent to the election, that we're going to have to downsize the government, that we're reducing the costs of the government. But clearly the province of Ontario is not going out of business. So all the employees will be dealt with fairly in terms of their pension.

However, had this provision kicked in, and the superintendent had indicated a possibility of the provision kicking in with a significant downsize in the public service, then those employees who left the employ of the province of Ontario would continue to improve their benefits -- it's called "growing in," the growing-in provision -- even beyond the rate of inflation, even while they were no longer in the employ of the province of Ontario and indeed even while they may have found some other employment. That particular provision goes way beyond what would be deemed to be fair --

Mr Mike Colle (Oakwood): Just like Conrad Black.

Hon David Johnson: No, not at all like Conrad Black. Obviously the member does not understand what is implied here. But the basic point is that the employees will be treated fairly but they will not be given any special provisions at a cost to the taxpayer of Ontario.


Mr Phillips: Just so the public understand, the minister confirmed exactly what I said, that it is the intention of the government to deny $225 million worth of benefits that would have been available to those 10,000 people. Whether you think that's the right thing to do or not, you are doing it. You're doing it the only way a government can do it, and that is to pass legislation exempting itself from the Pension Benefits Act, a Pension Benefits Act designed to protect people not just when companies close but when there's a significant downsizing.

My question is this: Because this is simply one of hundreds of similar, huge proposals in this bill, don't you think those 10,000 people that are going to be affected by this at least deserve an opportunity to come before the Legislature to make their case and to have this bill fully explained to them? Don't you agree that those 10,000 people deserve full public hearings before you take the $225 million away from them?

Hon David Johnson: I can simply reiterate that the employees involved will be given extremely fair treatment. They would be given the kind of fair treatment, in terms of pension receipts, that they would ordinarily get.

What has happened is that the government represented by the member opposite in 1989, the Liberal government, introduced the Public Service Pension Act and gave extremely generous provisions -- extremely ridiculous, frankly, is the word that's being used -- in a case where there is a significant downsizing to the civil service.

Now, Mr Speaker, you may say, "Well, isn't that fine for those members who get the extremely generous provisions," way over and beyond what ordinary people would get for pension provisions. The problem is the taxpayer has to pay for this, and if the member opposite, the Finance critic, thinks that the taxpayer should be paying to the tune of several hundreds of millions of dollars for this pension scheme, $400 million or $500 million beyond an ordinary pension, then the member should vote against this bill.


Mr Leo Jordan (Lanark-Renfrew): My question is for the Minister of Transportation. Mr Minister, on two different occasions I read to this House petitions signed by over 300 constituents requesting that changes be made to the drivers' examination requirements for seniors, specifically those over the age of 80. Mr Minister, could you please tell the members of this House and the constituents of Lanark-Renfrew that something will be done to change the current requirements?

Hon Al Palladini (Minister of Transportation): I would like to thank my colleague for the question and help spread out some good news. As part of our road safety plan, we are going to be treating our senior citizens with some respect. Most people over 80 are careful drivers with excellent records. Many seniors already restrict their driving at certain times of the day or certain roads or even conditions. Insurance companies consider senior drivers to be good risks for precisely these reasons. So does the Ministry of Transportation.

Once it is in place, our new program will require seniors to only come in once every two years, and they will only have to do a road test if it is absolutely necessary.

Mr Jordan: What specifically will be done so that driver examinations may not have to be performed every year for the seniors over 80?

Hon Mr Palladini: This program will respect our seniors over age 80 while ensuring their safety and the safety of other motorists. Right now we road test everyone over the age of 80 every year, and 99% of the times these senior citizens do pass the test. We believe that a better approach is to bring them in every two years, test their vision, test their knowledge and have a group counselling session to assess their skills and make them aware of any risks they may have. The ministry will decide, based on the individual's test score and driving record, whether the person's licence will be renewed or whether a road test is required. If they require a road test, we will administer one.

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

Mr John Gerretsen (Kingston and The Islands): What the Chairman of Management Board totally missed in the last question is that these 10,000 people want a public hearing and they want the ability to say something.


Mr John Gerretsen (Kingston and The Islands): My question is to the Minister of Municipal Affairs and Housing along exactly the same line. Minister, you know that in Bill 26 there are some dramatic changes to the way municipalities have operated in this province. They will have the ability to take over utility companies, to change their boundaries, to get involved in amalgamations and annexations, to dissolve local boards and start imposing hefty user fees, to name but a few.

Minister, you know it's extremely important, and indeed it has been a hallmark of local government in this province, that public hearings and public meetings are an absolute necessity for municipalities to function properly. That's the way they've functioned over the last 100 years or so. Why is it that in this act dealing with municipalities there's absolutely no requirement for any public hearings to take place before municipalities can take the drastic steps I've asked you about? Can you answer that?

Hon Al Leach (Minister of Municipal Affairs and Housing): The municipalities have been after the province for many years to give them more autonomy, and we plan to do that. There's nothing in that bill that precludes a municipality from having hearings on any aspects of the new tools we're prepared to give them. They can --

Mr Gerry Phillips (Scarborough-Agincourt): Annex?

Hon Mr Leach: Not within their own municipality, but if they want to license or if they want to franchise, they will no longer have to go through the complicated process of a referendum. They will have the powers to do that, as they should have.

Mr Gerretsen: Minister, there are two issues here. One is whether they should hold public hearings, which is totally separate and apart from the issue of whether they should be given the ability to do what you're doing in this act. Of course, they also have the ability to start imposing heftier user fees.

I wonder if you could answer this question: Why will they have the power to impose these user fees? The reason I'm asking this is that we were told yesterday at the meeting with some of your officials that the main reason they're being given greater powers to impose user fees is to ensure that some of the activities in the areas where they're going to impose user fees will act as deterrents to people from using those facilities.

That's what we were told, and I wonder what your comment is on that. Are user fees being allowed so that in effect the public can be deterred from utilizing some of the services municipalities provide?

Hon Mr Leach: I'd like to point out that the fine city of Brantford in Ontario was given user fee legislation in 1985. We're not doing anything that hasn't been out there in the public for many years. The city of Brantford has had it. They've used it responsibly.

I have faith in the municipalities of the province that they will carry out their responsibilities in a very responsible way. I can't understand why you don't. We've dealt and met on many occasions with AMO. We've reviewed all of this legislation with them. The municipalities are thrilled to be able to get some autonomy at long last.


Mr Bill Grimmett (Muskoka-Georgian Bay): My question is to the Minister of Transportation. I hear reports that there are over 30 centimetres of snow in my riding, and snowmobiling is of great importance in my riding. The snowmobile season is upon us. Unfortunately, in the past this has meant some accidents and in some cases deaths. I know you're committed to safety in transportation and I'd like to know what your ministry is doing to promote snowmobile safety this season.

Hon Al Palladini (Minister of Transportation): I would like to thank the honourable member for the question. I am concerned about snowmobile safety and my ministry is very much involved in promoting safety. Every year approximately 40 people die in snowmobile accidents. The real tragedy is that most of these deaths could have been prevented.

I am pleased to inform the member that the Ministry of Transportation chairs the Ontario Snowmobile Safety Committee, which was established to promote snowmobile safety. On November 28 the committee launched its Ride Safe, Ride Sober campaign. This education campaign is aimed at preventing high-risk behaviour such as drinking and snowmobiling, riding on thin ice and speeding. It has received much media attention and we hope it will make a difference.


Mr Grimmett: I'm glad to hear of the campaign and I hope it goes well. Are there other ministries or groups involved, and do they have other initiatives planned?

Hon Mr Palladini: I would like to share this information. I think the members across the hall here would also find it very interesting and supportive.

The government of Ontario is the committee's major sponsor. The committee includes people from the ministries of Transportation, Citizenship, Culture and Recreation, the Solicitor General, Attorney General and Northern Development. Groups from outside the government include the Ontario Federation of Snowmobile Clubs, snowmobile manufacturers and interest groups such as the Addiction Research Foundation and the Royal Life Saving Society. All members know that government can't do everything by itself, and we are grateful for the support and participation of outside groups.

This year, the committee has a snowmobile safety strategy plan which has several initiatives to promote snowmobile safety, including publicizing the findings of the snowmobile injury report, mobilizing the Sled Smart education team --

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

Hon Mr Palladini: -- also, the snowmobile training program is very important, and reviewing the Motorized Snow Vehicles Act to see if changes are needed.

Safety is this ministry's priority --

The Speaker: Order. The question has been answered.


Mrs Lyn McLeod (Leader of the Opposition): I want to return the Minister of Health to the question raised by the member for Oriole. I refer him to the powers he seeks under Bill 26, specifically page 101, in which it states, "The minister or the general manager may disclose information obtained under the act if the minister or the general manager, as the case requires, is of the opinion that the disclosure is necessary for the more effective management of the health care system or for the delivery of health care services." A sweeping power indeed, made even more frightening by subsection (4), which says, "No action lies against the minister or the general manager, or any member of the staff of either of them, or any other person or organization, for disclosing information in accordance with the act."

We all remember that a former Minister of Health in a previous government voluntarily resigned her position in cabinet because she had inadvertently disclosed confidential information. We also remember that another minister of that same government was subject to intensive and prolonged criticism because of the belief that she had access to confidential information and had used it inappropriately.

Under the terms of this bill, is it not true that if you or any future Minister of Health even inadvertently misused confidential information, there can be no sanction taken against you?

Hon Jim Wilson (Minister of Health): I think I explained some of the reason for the particular provision before. Second, with respect to the release of patient information, which I think the honourable member is implying, certainly that is not allowed under this act, because the override is the Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act.

The particular disclosure mentioned in subsection 21(4) is to allow the general manager, after complete due process, as you would in any court of law, to make public the names of guilty parties. In this particular section, we're dealing with provider fraud; therefore, a doctor, after having gone through due process -- that is very crucial -- may have his or her name made public if found guilty with respect to fraud, but only after all the safeguards provided by this act and our justice system are fully exercised.

Mrs McLeod: I fail to see where that kind of condition or caveat is applied in the actual wording of this bill, which emphasizes our point: Even a single provision of this nature, which gives such sweeping prerogatives to the Minister of Health and to the agents of the Minister of Health, must be subject to public debate.

I further add to that by referring to page 109, subsection 40.1(1), in which the minister may appoint an inspector and the inspector would have the following powers -- Mr Speaker, I know you will rule me out of order if I list all the powers the minister can assign to an inspector, but I get to paragraph 4, which is a power:

"To enter and inspect premises where insured services are provided" -- these are private physicians' offices -- "and to inspect the operations carried out on the premises.

"5. To inspect and receive information from health records" -- individual health records -- "or from notes, charts and other material relating to patient care and to reproduce and retain copies of them."

Those powers are not now held by the Minister of Health, let alone by any agent appointed by the Minister of Health. It is presently only within the power of the College of Physicians and Surgeons or through the power of the Medical Review Committee to have access to confidential information on patient records.

I ask this minister how he can possibly justify not only giving himself and his direct agent the power to have access to and to disclose private confidential information, but to appoint an inspector who would indeed have access to confidential medical records in a private physician's office, a power which does not now exist, and whether the minister can tell us what sanction, if any, can be applied to such an inspection.

Hon Mr Wilson: The honourable member knows -- she's been around this House for a number of years -- that in dozens of pieces of legislation, similar inspection powers and the right to review records does exist.

I'll draw the member's attention to the particular clauses, though, that might help her respond to her question.

"The minister may appoint medical and financial inspectors from among the persons nominated by the College of Physicians and Surgeons of Ontario. These inspectors shall act only under the direction of the Medical Review Committee."

Not the minister -- they're nominated by the college. We have these inspectors today. In many cases, these inspectors are doctors themselves who go in and review the records with respect to OHIP services.

The next clause makes it clear they don't have sweeping powers to look at every patient record. It says, "The powers and duties of inspectors appointed under subsection (2) relate only to the provision of insured services by physicians." So in most cases you'll have physicians reviewing the records of physicians to ensure that the billings are correct, to ensure that fraud has not occurred.

It's a very rarely used provision now. It clarifies the intent of current legislation and it was requested by the College of Physicians and Surgeons as one of the tools needed to clamp down on fraud. I didn't cook this up. The college itself asked for it, and we're responding to its ability to self-govern and have full respect for the medical profession in this province.

Mrs Elinor Caplan (Oriole): A point of order, Mr Speaker: I know the minister would not want to deliberately give information to this House that was incorrect. Subsection 40(1) says, "The minister may appoint persons as inspectors who shall act only under the direction of the general manager."

The Speaker: The member is out of order. You're out of order.


Mrs McLeod: On a point of order, Mr Speaker.

The Speaker: No. There's nothing out of order.

Mrs McLeod: Mr Speaker, you have not heard my point of order.

The Speaker: There is nothing out of order.


The Speaker: No. The member's out of order and she knows it. New question.


Mr John Hastings (Etobicoke-Rexdale): I have a question for the Minister of Environment and Energy. Recently, the federal Environment minister, Sheila Copps, issued and signed an interim order under the Canadian Environmental Protection Act that would ban the export of PCBs to the United States.

My question to the minister is, does the minister agree with this interim order to ban the export of asbestos and PCBs to the United States, and if she doesn't, does she have a different alternative in place to make vigorous representations to the federal government on this job-killing ban?

Hon Brenda Elliott (Minister of Environment and Energy): I thank my colleague for the question. This is a concern for us in this province. It's important to recognize that regulating the international movement of hazardous wastes does rest with the federal government. We are aware of this interim order and quite frankly we are concerned about this particular order.

It's important to realize that Ontario is faced with 116,000 tonnes of PCBs. We have signed an agreement with the federal government to reduce 50% of that and to eliminate that by the year 2000. We are concerned with the ramifications of this interim order and, as my colleague asked, we have made those concerns known to the federal minister.


Mr Hastings: Madam Minister, will you carry more vigorous representations to Ottawa regarding this ridiculous job-killing ban and insist that the minister federally look at other alternatives that are a lot more economically viable and realistic?

Hon Mrs Elliott: We are aware of a number of alternatives. There's a company very near my home town that has a new method of destroying PCBs. We can, of course, ship our PCBs to Alberta, but that is quite expensive and we believe industry should have all options available, providing they're environmentally safe, to deal with the hazardous waste of PCBs.

Given that, we have made communications to the federal minister to indicate that this is of concern to us. We have also notified the other members of cabinet.


Mr Mike Colle (Oakwood): I have a question for the Minister of Transportation in regard to this dictatorial bill. I'm just wondering, Mr Minister, whether you realize, under these amendments to the Capital Investment Plan Act, 1993, and the Highway Traffic Act relating to toll highways, that you're giving these corporations that charge tolls the right to basically put liens on private property like homes or businesses if they don't pay their tolls. You're also going to give police the power to stop without a warrant any vehicle they suspect may have some kind of device in their automobile, whatever that device may be, and you're also going to no longer give people the right to a hearing on a disputed toll.

Don't you think people would want to discuss or at least have hearings to see whether they agree with these dictatorial new powers you're giving this tolling corporation before you proceed without hearings on this bill?

Hon Al Palladini (Minister of Transportation): I would like to inform the honourable member that we are committed to keeping Highway 407 out of the deficit column. The legislation will ensure that we collect tolls that will pay for the 407. If it weren't for the tolls, the highway wouldn't be there, so we had to have proper legislation in order to ensure that the success of the tolling is good. The mechanisms that we had to put in place were needed to ensure that everybody who uses number 407 is going to pay for it, not just the honest people.

Mr Colle: Talking about honest people, I just wonder: The minister just stated that he's going to make sure everybody's going to pay if they use the 407. He's going to put a lien on their house, put a lien on their business if they don't pay.

Now what I'm asking is, how are you going to make all the trucking firms that come from Quebec, that come from the United States -- how are they going to be forced to pay? Because you know, Mr Minister, it's going to be very difficult to put a lien on their homes, to put a lien on their property because they won't obey those Ontario directives. So how are you going to make sure the trucks from Ohio, the commuters who are visiting Canada or the Quebec truckers pay as you're going to force everybody else to pay and have liens on their property? How are you going to do that?

Hon Mr Palladini: You would think the honourable member is actually believing that this is the first highway in the world that's going to be tolled. But the regulations that we have put in place are going to make sure that 407 will be a success.

As far as liens are concerned, we're talking about vehicles here, so we're not talking about liening somebody's house because they haven't paid their toll. The honourable member is fearmongering, as is the usual thing.


Mr Rob Sampson (Mississauga West): My question is for the Minister of Education and Training. Yesterday, Sheridan College announced that it was closing its nursing and practical nursing programs as of May 1996. What is the minister's reaction to the end of this program?

Hon John Snobelen (Minister of Education and Training): I want to thank the member for Mississauga West for a question that I know is on the minds of a great many residents of Mississauga and other places in Ontario.

Mrs Margaret Marland (Mississauga South): Yes, me too, Mississauga South too.

Hon Mr Snobelen: There has been a lot of talk about program rationalization at our colleges and universities across Ontario, and this announcement is a good example of that kind of rationalization.

If I can share with the member and with this House some information on the nursing programs offered around the province of Ontario, nursing programs are currently offered at all 23 colleges; the annual first-year enrolment is about 2,800 students. This program, the cancellation of which was announced recently, is the smallest of these programs in the province.

There are practical nursing programs that are offered at 22 colleges, and nursing programs are offered by 10 universities. In answer to the honourable member's question, in the view of this college, there are enough nursing programs around the province of Ontario to certainly exceed the need for nurses in the future.

Mr Sampson: Speaking on behalf of the residents of Mississauga West, and certainly the residents of Mississauga South as well, what can we tell our residents and the people who are attending that school about the accommodations that are being made for those who are currently enrolled in the nursing program?

Hon Mr Snobelen: To the honourable member for Mississauga West, and I know there is some concern in Mississauga South as well -- I notice the member for Mississauga South is paying particular attention to this matter. I can assure both members that the president of the college, in its release recently, suggested that she will be speaking with students in ensuring that those students can get enrolled in other programs that are offered across the province.

Also in that release the president mentioned the commitment of the college to "go forward with programs of excellence, programs that serve the needs of their students, making sure that there are opportunities for those students on graduation."

I think it's a responsible move by the college and I believe that all the colleges and universities across the province of Ontario are looking at these kinds of rationalizations to make sure that we have an excellent post-secondary education system available to the students of Ontario.


Mr Richard Patten (Ottawa Centre): My question is for the Deputy Premier and Minister of Finance. I noticed in "Ontario's Fiscal Outlook" -- it was not in the body of the speech, which I think in and of itself was significant -- he addresses the area of junior kindergarten, and it says: "We must continue to reduce non-classroom costs, which account for at least 30% of education spending, and to develop necessary tools to achieve the savings. For example, as announced in the throne speech, legislation will be introduced to make junior kindergarten a local option." Can the minister confirm that he considers junior kindergarten to be a non-classroom expense?

Hon Ernie L. Eves (Deputy Premier, Minister of Finance and Government House Leader): With respect to matters educational, I would refer that matter to the Minister of Education.

Hon John Snobelen (Minister of Education and Training): As the member suggested, in the statement of the 29th there was reference made to non-classroom expenditures. This government is committed to reducing non-classroom expenditures and we have given examples of some of those: $600 million in transportation costs; $560 million in prep time; over $1.2 billion in janitorial costs. We believe there are a variety of non-classroom expenses in the education system that can be reduced and should be reduced to bring the education system in Ontario at a level that represents a value to our taxpayers.

The Minister of Finance said in his statement of November 29 that Ontario spends $1.3 billion over the national average on education in this province. We believe there needs to be a better value for the taxpayers in the province of Ontario. Our promises and our commitments to the people of the province of Ontario on JK have been very specific and we have kept those commitments.

Mr Patten: The minister knows full well you didn't even answer the question, but I'll be seeing you in committee and I'll ask it again. I'm going to repeat what I just asked. You said, and you said this in your CSR, as you now refer to it, that you would not touch the classroom. We still don't even have a definition related to administration, but you would not touch the classroom.

My question is that if you're not prepared to cut the classroom how come you're cutting junior kindergarten? Do you not consider pulling out the funding for junior kindergarten to be affecting the classroom?

Hon Mr Snobelen: I look forward to meeting with the honourable member opposite in committee, because I look forward to addressing these questions more fully. And perhaps the member opposite is a little startled when a political party in this province keeps its promises. We have kept our promises to the people of Ontario on junior kindergarten.

We have said very specifically -- let me spell this out, Mr Speaker, for the honourable member. In the Common Sense Revolution we said we would review junior kindergarten, and we are. We said we would make junior kindergarten a local option for local boards.


The Speaker (Hon Allan K. McLean): I'd like to draw to the members' attention that we have a guest in the west gallery, a former member, Joan Fawcett from Northumberland. Welcome, Joan.


Mr James J. Bradley (St Catharines): Mr Speaker, I move the adjournment of the House.

The Speaker (Hon Allan K. McLean): Mr Bradley has moved the adjournment of the House.

All those in favour, say "aye."

All those opposed, say "nay."

In my opinion, the nays have it.

There will be a 30-minute bell.

The division bells rang from 1633 to 1703.

The Deputy Speaker (Mr Bert Johnson): On the motion to adjourn by the member for St Catharines, all those in favour will please rise and stay standing.

Those opposed, rise and stay standing.

Clerk of the House (Mr Claude L. DesRosiers): The ayes are 38, the nays 58.

The Deputy Speaker: I declare the motion lost.



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

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

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

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

There are over 300 signatures from my riding, and I have affixed my signature to this petition as well.

The Deputy Speaker (Mr Bert Johnson): The Chair recognizes the member for Parkdale.

Mr Tony Ruprecht (Parkdale): Mr Speaker --

Interjection: Rotation.

The Deputy Speaker: I've been corrected that I go in rotation. The Chair recognizes the member for York Mills.


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

The Deputy Speaker (Mr Bert Johnson): Shall the motion carry?

All those in favour, say "aye."

All those opposed, say "nay."

In my opinion, the ayes have it.

There will be a 30-minute bell.

The division bells rang from 1706 to 1736.

The Deputy Speaker: By way of a short explanation, we were on the business of petitions, and they go in rotation from the official opposition to the third party to the government.

Mr James J. Bradley (St Catharines): You recognized the member for Parkdale at that time.

The Deputy Speaker: I properly recognized the member but unceremoniously went to the member for Beaches-Woodbine. I apologize to the member for Parkdale.

On the vote on the motion by the member for York Mills, all those in favour of the motion please stand and stay standing.

All those opposed please stand and stay standing.

Clerk of the House (Mr Claude L. DesRosiers): The ayes are 59, the nays 39.

The Deputy Speaker: I declare the motion carried.

Orders of the day.

Hon Jim Wilson (Minister of Health): The seventh order, Mr Speaker.

Mr Tony Ruprecht (Parkdale): A point of order, Mr Speaker.

The Deputy Speaker: The Chair recognizes the member for Parkdale on a point of order.

Mr Ruprecht: I certainly appreciate the applause from the government side, who will recognize that this is a very strange place today indeed. I'm happy, Mr Speaker, that you do recognize me.

While your explanation was somewhat odd, might I say that you had already recognized me first and then suddenly interrupted me and shifted to recognize the leader of the government side. I would like to have at least some explanation from you of why you did that. You simply explained earlier what happened to Mr Bradley and why he was not recognized, but you failed to explain why you didn't recognize me at the time and you shifted to the leader of the House.

The Deputy Speaker: I'd be happy to explain. I wasn't in the chair when the member for St Catharines used his turn in rotation, so I was corrected by the members at the Clerk's table that I was not following the correct rotation.

Mr Ruprecht: That was not my point of order. My point of order is that you had recognized me and I was in the middle of my petition. Then you suddenly moved away from recognizing me and recognized the leader of the governing party. That's what I would like to have explained to me: that you suddenly shifted from recognizing me to the leader of the House.

The Deputy Speaker: It is in rotation.

Ms Frances Lankin (Beaches-Woodbine): On the same point of order, Mr Speaker: In support of my colleague, I have to indicate that you were back in the chair and you recognized me on a petition. I introduced the petition. You then proceeded to recognize the member who just rose on a point of order. Perhaps you're indicating that you should have gone in rotation, but Mr Speaker, once a member in this House has risen and has been duly recognized, you have a responsibility to proceed on that and not turn around every time a minister of the government speaks to the Chair and gives instructions catered to the government's wishes, which is what's been happening in this House for the last week.

The Deputy Speaker: The Chair recognizes that I made an error. I apologized for it and I think we should proceed. The Chair recognizes the member for Simcoe West.

Hon Mr Wilson: I move second reading of Bill 26.

Mr David S. Cooke (Windsor-Riverside): On a point of order, Mr Speaker: You'll find that it's easier to run the place if you look at both sides of the floor, much easier.

Mr Speaker, this afternoon during question period the government House leader was asked several questions with regard to how he intends to proceed with Bill 26. He indicated very clearly in the House that he would not negotiate in public or in question period because he intended to have a meeting with the opposition House leaders and he wanted to discuss that.

Even though the government House leader isn't here, I am sure he would want to correct the record by indicating that he sent a letter to the press, to the entire gallery. He did not offer to negotiate with the opposition House leaders. He put an offer to us in writing that would ram Bill 26 through the House before Christmas and thus changes nothing. It's clear what the government House leader did this afternoon is lie to the House. There's no doubt about that at all.

The Deputy Speaker: Would the member for Windsor-Riverside withdraw the unparliamentary remarks.

Mr Cooke: I want to be here to debate Bill 26. As a result --

The Deputy Speaker: Would the member please withdraw his remarks.


Mr Cooke: I did.

Mr Bradley: On a point of privilege, Mr Speaker: Clearly the privileges of the members of the opposition, if not all members of the House, have been affected by a statement which was made in the House by the government House leader today.

There was an undertaking that I heard, that I think all members of this House heard, that the two House leaders for the opposition -- he said it in the House -- would be contacted by his office and a meeting would be established to discuss the future of Bill 26, for the purpose of finding a timetable and agreement which would allow the government to proceed with any components of that bill.

Instead we have, without any meeting, a letter which has arrived which is contrary to what the member has had to say in this House, an undertaking he has given. Clearly the privileges of the opposition have been adversely affected by the statement which was made in the House by the government House leader.

Mrs Elinor Caplan (Oriole): A point of privilege? Thank you, Mr Speaker.

The Deputy Speaker: I would like to know the reason for the member for Beaches-Woodbine to be standing.

Ms Lankin: Mr Speaker, I'm sorry, I didn't hear you, but I move adjournment of the House.

The Deputy Speaker: On a point of order, I'll not accept that motion. The Chair recognizes the member for Oriole on a point of privilege.

Mrs Caplan: I would seek the guidance of the Speaker as to whether this is a point of order or a point of privilege. I feel it is both.

When Bill 26 was tabled, I was in the lockup. I was locked up by the government. The government House leader today says that in accordance with procedures of this House and the orders of this House, critics were given copies of the legislation at that time in a timely manner.

The Deputy Speaker: Would the member please take her seat. The Speaker has already ruled on that in this House today.

Report continues in volume B.