36th Parliament, 1st Session

L042 - Mon 18 Mar 1996 / Lun 18 Mar 1996























































The House met at 1332.




Mr Alvin Curling (Scarborough North): The people of Ontario, myself included, are becoming increasingly concerned by the way this government is handling the largest strike in Ontario's history, especially when the government holds the cards in settling this strike. There's a message here. When you see thousands of people demonstrating outside the Legislative Building to get your attention, Mr Premier, are you listening? They are telling you your process in dealing with this strike shows no justice and, as the picketers say, "No Justice, No Peace."

These are people's lives you are dealing with. These are the families and individuals who have children to feed, rent to pay, mortgages to pay, bills to be honoured. You must deal with the crisis in our province now in a sensitive manner. You must make every attempt to settle this. When I see Dave Johnson, the minister you have charged with responsibility for negotiating with the Ontario Public Service Employees Union saying he wants to wait and see and let the strike play itself out, I tell you, this is not a game to be played. He insults all of us who believe Ontario is worth standing up for.

Mr Premier, when you were in North Bay last week you thought offering the picketers doughnuts would appease the unrest on the line. The picketers that day didn't accept your doughnuts. I tell you, the province doesn't want doughnuts from you. What Ontarians need are dignity, respect, balance, fairness and good government. As I said, no justice, no peace.

Mr Tony Martin (Sault Ste Marie): This is not a red-letter day for Ontario. The Legislature is surrounded by ordinary citizens, as is every other provincial building in this province.

These are our friends and neighbours. These are our family members, the people who, up until a few weeks ago, delivered the services that all who live in this province rely on. These are your ambulance drivers. These are the people who clear the highways of snow in this province. We have people out there who do research, who manage our resources and who oversee our education and our health care systems.

And why are they there? They are there standing up for their rights to fair treatment and access to a process of just labour relations. They're not asking for anything outlandish, just that their severance, retirement and successor rights be honoured, but even more so, they are fighting for the jobs and services that are so valuable to the economic and social wellbeing of this province. They are putting their livelihoods on the line for each one of us in this province.

In this province this year, we've had people freeze to death on the streets of this city. We have disease beginning to rear its ugly head. We have TB in Toronto. We've had blood spilled on the steps of this Legislature. Mr Speaker, I ask you to call this government to account.


Mr Dan Newman (Scarborough Centre): I am pleased to rise today as the member for Scarborough Centre in order to celebrate 1996 as the bicentennial of the city of Scarborough.

It was in 1793 that Lieutenant Governor John Graves Simcoe named Scarborough, based on a suggestion by his wife Elizabeth, who fell in love with the shoreline that reminded her of the town of Scarborough, England.

In 1796, 200 years ago this year, the first land patent in Scarborough was granted by the crown to David and Mary Thomson, thus opening the township to new settlement. The Thomsons became the first European settlers in Scarborough just three years later, in 1799.

Scarborough became a township in 1850 and Peter Secor served as the first reeve. By 1900, almost 4,000 people called Scarborough home. Today, Scarborough is home to more than half a million people.

Born and raised in Scarborough Centre, I have watched Scarborough grow throughout the years to become a city of great diversity in which to live, work and play. I am proud to call Scarborough my home. Scarborough has a strong and vibrant business community, a dynamic arts and cultural community, a variety of social, recreational and educational opportunities that are second to none and active community associations with many caring and hardworking residents.

A number of activities are planned in Scarborough throughout the year in order to celebrate Scarborough's bicentennial, and I extend an invitation to every member of this House to come out and experience Scarborough. I would ask the members to join me today in wishing a happy 200th birthday to the city of Scarborough.


Mr Rick Bartolucci (Sudbury): On Friday, I attended a noon-hour march in downtown Sudbury. As we wound our way through the streets, we were joined by hundreds of people who spontaneously joined in. The people of Ontario and the people of Sudbury support the OPSEU cause.

It's not about money. It's about balance, it's about justice and it's about fairness. That's why there isn't a teacher in Ontario who isn't thankful to OPSEU for their cause, that's why there isn't a power worker in Ontario who doesn't understand the importance of OPSEU's stand, why there isn't a CUPE worker in Ontario who doesn't appreciate the relevance of OPSEU's situation, why there isn't a doctor in the province of Ontario who can't sympathize with the sense of government betrayal felt by OPSEU, why there isn't a lawyer in Ontario who can't associate with the hidden agenda of this government, why there isn't a member of a private sector union who doesn't support and appreciate the significance and importance this job action has for the labour movement in Ontario, why the people of Sudbury want you, the government, to listen to us and restore balance, fairness and justice, why the people of Sudbury and Ontario want you to listen to us when we say there cannot be a vibrant Ontario as long as there is no balance, no fairness, no justice.

OPSEU's stand is not about money. It's about balance, fairness and justice.


Ms Marilyn Churley (Riverdale): The Harris government continues to show complete contempt for its own employees. They don't seem to care or understand that these are real people with real kids to support, real mortgages to pay, and that they contribute real taxes to the Ontario economy and provide vital services to the people of Ontario. At the very least, they deserve to be treated with respect and to be given a well-stocked toolkit, to use a favourite phrase of the government, so they can try to get back on their feet.

It is completely unfair for any employer to lay off literally thousands of people and at the same time take away pension and successor rights. Mr Harris knows as well as I do that it wouldn't cost taxpayers a penny to be fair to workers whose jobs are being sold off to the highest bidder. If there is a cost, it would be to their Tory friends who are gearing up to make big profits on these services.

At least admit it, Mr Harris; you're beating up on the workers to pay for a tax cut that will mainly benefit your rich friends, a tax cut that the experts say will not do anything to create jobs and help the economy.

I know we're going to hear the mantra "a million dollars an hour" many times today as you try to justify your despicable behaviour. Have you thought how many million dollars an hour it's going to cost the taxpayers to pay for your irresponsible tax cut? Your government has a chance to finally show some competency and fairness for a change. Get on with it. You can end this strike by giving OPSEU workers back their successor rights.


Mr Bill Vankoughnet (Frontenac-Addington): I rise today on a sad note in the wake of the unspeakable tragedy at Dunblane, Scotland. A group of community-oriented people in Frontenac, Lennox and Addington and the city of Kingston sent, through the courtesy of Purolator Courier Ltd, 16 teddy bears, one each to the families of every slain child, and a mohair bear made especially for the family of their teacher.

The idea for this compassionate action comes from an international charitable organization called Good Bears of the World. Good Bears are people who come from a variety of backgrounds, professions and ages, sharing a common interest in giving, aiding and comforting in a low-key fashion in times of need.

Limestone Teddies of the Greater Kingston Area is a group of volunteers who promote and do the work of Good Bears. It is important to show support for the families of the victims of Dunblane, the family of the Belleville youth killed in Florida and express our concern about violence in any form. I know I speak for all members of this Legislature as we send our deepest regrets to the grieving families and say that our hearts and minds are with them during this time of great pain and frustration.

We hope that the love we send with these bears and the concern we express will be felt by the entire Dunblane and Belleville communities. As we can't be in Dunblane to distribute them personally, these bears are taking our hugs with them.


Mr Dwight Duncan (Windsor-Walkerville): Today I want to speak about labour harmony, investment and Tory mismanagement. Labour harmony is an essential component to a healthy and prosperous economy. Investor confidence will drop as a result of this government's policy of deliberately and unnecessarily provoking working people.

For 50 years, governments of all stripes have been adopting laws that improve the lives of working people and encourage a labour climate that enhances investment opportunity. The Tories continue to pursue their recipe for recession. They have demonstrated complete incompetence in the management of labour issues. The strike we're witnessing today was unnecessary. The government is being penny wise and pound foolish.

The strike is but the beginning. London, Hamilton and Kitchener-Waterloo are other examples of what the Tories have done to undermine the province's investment climate. How does the government think that pictures of riot police running through the halls of our Legislature is going to improve investment? How does the government believe that shutdowns of our major industrial centres are making Ontario a better place to invest? Incompetence, lack of foresight and a bullying mentality are the characteristics that best describe this government.

What about the investment in jobs they promised? They're stagnant. The only things that are more stale are the tired rhetoric and broken promises of the government's mindless ideology. No justice, no peace; no peace, no investment.

Mr David Christopherson (Hamilton Centre): We said in this party that when the government declared war on the workers of Ontario through their anti-worker Bill 7, it would leave workers with no choice but to fight back. The strike that we're seeing displayed outside today and across this province is workers having no choice but to do just that: Fight back against a government that has declared war on workers and their representatives.

One of the key issues in this strike is successorship rights. That's a right that workers had in the public sector along with those in the private sector for decades. It had nothing to do with Bill 40 and yet this government said, "When we privatize all those jobs, you as a public sector worker will have no guarantee of benefits, no guarantee of wages, in fact you don't even have a guarantee of being offered that job."

No wonder they're out there fighting for their survival. You've taken away fundamental rights that they were entitled to. It wasn't in the Common Sense Revolution. You didn't talk about it in the campaign. You brought in Bill 7, rammed it through, no public hearings, and then you wonder why people are fighting back.

Take a look at your own agenda. You brought this upon yourself. You've left these workers and tens and thousands of others no choice but to stand up and fight back. Look out the window. There's the Mike Harris Ontario and every one of you Mike Harrisites that played a role in this ought to be ashamed of yourselves.


Mr E.J. Douglas Rollins (Quinte): I would like to take a moment to speak about a terrible tragedy that struck my riding on the past weekend. The life of Mark Fyke, a young constituent of mine, came to a violent end on Friday night when he was vacationing in Daytona Beach, Florida. The loss of this young man has shocked the country and our community.

Mark's death will be a personal loss for many in the community. I think of the pain his passing will be to his classmates at Nicholson Catholic College, some of whom were with Mark in Florida. Mark will also be missed by the guys he played hockey with in the Belleville Minor Hockey Association. Of course, his death will no doubt be felt by many people he came in contact with at his job at McDonald's.

I want to express our deepest sympathy to his family and to his classmates, particularly the ones who were vacationing with him in Florida.


Mr Peter North (Elgin): Today I bring to this Legislature for the Minister of Health some 2,740 clip and care coupons. The coupons signify the people's opposition to the proposed closure of the St Thomas Psychiatric Hospital.

These coupons were clipped from our local newspaper, the St Thomas Times-Journal, which has done an admirable job getting this message out. Hundreds of clients will be displaced, hundreds of jobs will be lost or sent to London. Rural communities are losing much of their infrastructure. Health services such as these are a valuable resource for rural communities.

I know, having had many discussions with the minister in the past and his being a rural riding as well, that he would take our concerns very seriously. I believe it is incumbent on both the ministry and the minister to understand the magnitude and potential tragedy of this situation and weigh any decisions carefully.

I would like to close by simply reading the card that I have here in front of me. It says:

"Save our Psych!

"Mr Jim Wilson,

"Minister of Health,

"I ask that you as the Minister of Health for the province of Ontario refrain from implementing a recommendation by the psychiatric hospitals restructuring committee to close the St Thomas Psychiatric Hospital in order to allow for more public hearings into the matter. Because the closure of the STPH would have a negative impact on the community, it warrants further study by the government and health officials alike."

It's signed by a women named Ellen from London, Ontario.


The Speaker (Hon Allan K. McLean): I beg to inform the House that I have received a number of requests from the members pursuant to section 30 of the Members' Integrity Act, 1994, to the Honourable Gregory Evans, Integrity Commissioner, for opinions on whether certain members have contravened the act or Ontario parliamentary convention.

These requests and subsequent opinions were received by me during the adjournment and can be found as sessional papers filed with the Clerk of the House.


The Speaker (Hon Allan K. McLean): I beg to inform the House that on Wednesday, January 17, 1996, a special report of the Legislative Assembly of Ontario on the Ontario regulation 482/95 and the Environmental Bill of Rights was tabled.


The Speaker (Hon Allan K. McLean): I beg to inform the House that the Clerk has received a favourable report from the commissioners of estate bills with respect to Bill Pr24, An Act respecting TD Trust Company and Central Guaranty Trust Company.

Accordingly, pursuant to standing order 86(c), the bill stands referred to the standing committee on regulations and private bills.



The Speaker (Hon Allan K. McLean): I beg to inform the House that during the recess a vacancy has occurred in the membership of the House by reason of the resignation of Bob Rae, the member for the electoral district of York South, effective Thursday, February 29, 1996. Accordingly, I have issued my warrant to the chief election officer for the issue of a writ for a by-election.


The Speaker (Hon Allan K. McLean): I would like to inform the members of the Legislative Assembly that we have in the Speaker's gallery today legislative interns from the province of Manitoba. Please join me in welcoming our guests.


Mr Peter Kormos (Welland-Thorold): On a point of privilege, Mr Speaker: as you know, there have been lawful picket lines here at this building as a result of the members of the Ontario Public Service Employees Union being forced into a strike situation. This morning, as you know, that picket line was enhanced by members of the Ontario Protective Service employees' union and other trade unionists and members of the public who have joined them in solidarity, similarly in lawful picket lines. They were orderly picket lines, they were peaceful picket lines, and they were there for their precise and long-acknowledged democratic purpose.

I received a number of reports just within the last hour of what were described to me as riot-equipped police squads storming picket lines and attacking picketers, striking them to the ground, resulting in at least one person being sent by ambulance to a hospital and other persons receiving what were described to me as visible injuries. There may have been yet a second person sent by ambulance to the hospital.

Why I raise this as a matter of privilege is because it similarly was reported to me that the reason for these riot-equipped, baton-equipped, helmeted, shielded police barging and attacking lawful picket lines was to facilitate the entry of Conservative government MPPs into at least one area, if not two of these parliamentary precincts.

I submit with respect, Speaker, that is very much a matter of privilege pursuant to rule 21. We are seeing here and witnessing here within the scope of your jurisdiction, I submit, a most undemocratic and violent utilization of police power to obstruct and interfere with lawful picket lines, resulting in not just the disruption of the picket line -- I suppose that would be an unfortunate but recognizable side-effect -- but in literal physical attacks on people lawfully assembling for a very lawful purpose, and very specifically to facilitate the entry of Conservative MPPs into these buildings.

I am calling upon you, Speaker, as you have been called upon in the past, to make appropriate inquiries into this matter. I must tell you that if indeed those reports are factual, it's repugnant and certainly to be condemned that lawfully gathered people would be subjected to violent attacks of that nature. It's similarly repugnant that members of this Legislature, and it's reported to me that it was Conservative members, would avail themselves of that type of violent attack on lawfully assembled members of the public so that their whims and fancies -- I was speaking of the Conservative members -- could be accommodated.

I am asking you, Speaker, to make inquiries into this matter. I submit it is within your jurisdiction, within your responsibility. This should be extremely disturbing. We are witnessing and others have witnessed events out there this very morning which reinforce events of days gone by that are very much not resembling the Ontario most of us believed existed. If this is the new Ontario, then let's string up the barbed wire right now and put in the anti-tank barriers.

I ask you to make those inquiries.

The Speaker (Hon Allan K. McLean): I have asked for a report on the activities of today, and I expect to receive that shortly.



Mrs Lyn McLeod (Leader of the Opposition): My first question is for the Premier. Premier, for the last 21 days, this province has witnessed the largest labour dispute in its history. In the months leading up to this strike, you used your legislative bullying power to strip your employees of their rights, and for the past three weeks you have simply let this strike drag on. The message I bring you today from the men and women outside this building and on picket lines across this province is that they will not be bullied into submission.

My question to the Premier is about jobs, because that is really what this strike is all about. In the past, Premier, you have said, and said in writing, that about 13,000 people would lose their jobs, would be fired. You have also said, or your ministers have said, that there could be a lot more, but you won't acknowledge just how many. But your economic statement shows that over the next two years you are planning to cut one third of the government's salary budget. Now, that doesn't mean 13,000 jobs, as you've stated, Premier; it means more like 27,000 jobs will be lost. Will you confirm today that you are planning on firing as many as 27,000 people after this strike is over?

Hon Michael D. Harris (Premier): I think the Chair of Management Board could answer that.


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

Hon David Johnson (Chair of the Management Board of Cabinet): First of all, I'd like to react to the statement in the question from the leader of the opposition party that we have allowed this strike to drag on. First of all, again I would say that it was the union that called the strike, not the government that called the strike. We have put a fair and reasonable offer on the table. There is a media blackout that is under way at the present time, so I'm not going to speak to any of the details that have transpired recently. But I will say that it is the objective of this government to reach a settlement at the earliest possible date, and that's how we've been acting over the course of these labour relations: a settlement that is fair and affordable to the taxpayers of the province of Ontario and a settlement that is fair and reasonable to the employees of the province of Ontario.

In terms of the jobs, we speculated through the Common Sense Revolution that this government would certainly have to be downsized, that we would need restructuring. Certainly other governments are going through this. The business community is going through this. We have to be able to deliver better services at a lower cost. We said probably about 13,000 people would be laid off through the Common Sense Revolution. Those numbers are being fine-tuned. The various ministries are going through their business plans. The estimates procedure is under way. There will be announcements by the Minister of Finance. Certainly through the budget process, there will be announcements leading up to the budget, and then we will know precisely what the size of the civil service will be.

Mrs McLeod: I cannot believe, although I should not be surprised, that this Premier sees his only responsibility to deliver some doughnuts to people on the picket line. In the absence of any accountability from the Premier of Ontario, I will, of necessity, redirect my supplementary questions to the Chair of Management Board and say to him that all of us -- all of us -- including every person on that picket line, would like to see this strike resolved through an agreement at the bargaining table. We all hope that, for the first time, you and your government may be prepared to engage in some serious negotiations at the bargaining table.

But, Minister, I say to you that it is very difficult for real, good-faith bargaining that leads to a resolution to take place if you keep misstating the facts. The difference between the 13,000 fewer jobs that you said in writing you were going to bring in and the 27,000 fewer jobs that your 33% cut would mean is not a fine-tuning, Minister. It is offensive to every person out there for you to call that a fine-tuning. That is taking a broad axe and a blunt axe to your entire workforce.


It is completely misleading, Minister, for you to say, as you have day after day, that this is all about the taxpayers' interest and balancing the budget. It doesn't take an analysis of that economic statement to know that you're talking about 27,000 jobs and to know why it is that you're looking at cutting those kinds of jobs like there is no tomorrow.

The Speaker: Put your question.

Mrs McLeod: It is the $5-billion tax cut, Minister and Mr Speaker. That is what is driving the agenda. It is about the most irresponsible and cynical campaign promise that this province has ever seen.

Minister, I ask you, if balancing the budget was truly the reason for your actions of the past weeks and months, will you tell me how you can possibly justify adding more than $20 billion to the province's debt while you lay off thousands and thousands and thousands of workers, just to give the richest Ontarians an irresponsible tax cut?

The Speaker: That question's been asked.

Hon David Johnson: I want to give two numbers, if I can. The head count in March of 1985, the head count in the Ontario public service, was 80,371. Five years later, by 1990, the head count in the Ontario public service was 88,267. There were 8,000 more people employed in the Ontario public civil service through the term of the Liberal government.

So if we have a problem today that we're trying to come to grips with, a problem of doing better for less, a problem of restructuring the civil service so that the civil service can give the services to the people of the province of Ontario, the health services, the education services, the Leader of the Opposition should look in the mirror. This is the problem that we are trying to address that gained momentum under the Liberal years from 1985 to 1990. That's when the problem was created.

What we are trying to do, our objective, is to be fair and reasonable to our employees -- that is the offer we have put on the table in terms of our final offer -- and to restructure the civil service. That's what we are trying to achieve.

Mrs McLeod: The difficulty with this minister and the difficulty with this government is that they give us one number and then two numbers and then three numbers, and all of them are inconsistent with each other. They talk of 13,000 people being laid off and then it's 27,000 people. They talk about a 20% cut and then it's a 33% cut. They talk about balancing the budget, and then they bring in a tax cut that is going to add $20 billion to the deficit and the debt.

Surely, we're all concerned about balancing budgets. That's why we're so concerned about adding $20 billion to the debt and why we're so concerned about eliminating thousands of jobs to give that tax cut to the most well-to-do Ontarians.

I say to this minister again, be factual. This strike is not about balancing the budget. Put the numbers on the table. This strike is about 27,000 people losing their jobs, and the fact is that as a result of your tax cut, which is driving those layoffs, 12 months from today, the deficit -- let's put real numbers on the table -- is still going to be more than $8 billion. Be honest with the people of this province, Minister. Admit that this strike has nothing to do with balancing the budget. It is about firing thousands of people. It is about privatizing government services, which is why you need to lay off so many public servants. It is about political profit, not the public interest. It is all about keeping an irresponsible campaign promise no matter who gets hurt.

Hon David Johnson: First of all, I want to say that that 27,000 number is not a government number. The Leader of the Opposition knows that. It's some sort of speculation in one newspaper. It is no number that's been put out by the province of Ontario.

I want to tell you one more number. I have a document that the Leader of the Opposition may be familiar with. It's the Liberal red book plan, and in this plan it calls for the Ontario public service to fall by 12,000 people. There it is.


The Speaker: Order.

Hon David Johnson: Mr Speaker, I find --


Mr James J. Bradley (St Catharines): There are over 100,000 in the public sector.

The Speaker: The member for St Catharines is out of order. Could we have some order.

Hon David Johnson: I find the line of questioning somewhat insincere and somewhat inconsistent in view of the red book.

I will say again, if the honourable member wants to know what the government is trying to achieve in terms of the negotiations with OPSEU, with the union, we are trying to achieve a settlement that's fair and reasonable for employees, a settlement that is fair and reasonable to the taxpayers of the province and the ability of this government to restructure and to deliver services on a less costly basis, better services to the people of Ontario.

The Speaker: New question, the leader of the Opposition.

Mrs McLeod: I would be happy to bring Conservative government documents into the House; in fact, I'd bring two documents in. One is the Common Sense Revolution, which talked about 13,000 jobs -- indeed it did, in writing. The other was the government's economic statement, which the minister simply does not want to address today, which talked about a 33% cut, which means more like 27,000 jobs, which at one point months ago the minister at least made some allusion to.

I will again attempt to address my question to the Premier, futile as it may be. I say again that this strike is not about balancing a budget and reducing the size of the public service to help you with that. This is about a government that wants to look tough while it delivers its tax cut to the most well-to-do. This strike is not about restructuring the public service so that it will be more efficient. It is about making your job cuts fast and not caring who gets hurt, and this strike is about selling off government jobs to the private sector because of your ideology and it's about being able to make a profit while you do that. This strike is certainly about what is fair and reasonable.

Premier, you are all set for a massive privatization of public sector jobs, whether it is in the public interest or not. You are going to make that fire sale more appealing to the private sector by offering them a pool of cheap labour, labour that has no protection because you stripped these employees of their successor rights. Where is the fairness in literally selling your employees to the private sector as a cheap source of labour?

Hon Mr Harris: I would like to make a couple of comments, if I might, on the context of the question. First of all, this government is committed to privatizing nothing -- absolutely nothing. We have clearly gone on the record saying that what we think has to happen when you have 10 years cumulatively of Liberals and NDP running up $10-billion deficits -- it might interest you to know, Mr Speaker, that today the per capita deficit in Ontario is higher than even the federal government per capita deficit after their latest projections. This is what we inherited.

What we committed to do was to look at government's role, what is the most effective way, the most efficient way --

Mr Mike Colle (Oakwood): Why borrow money for the tax cut? You've got to be crazy to be borrowing money for the tax cut.

The Speaker: The member for Oakwood.

Hon Mr Harris: -- to deliver the best-quality services for the best price.

If that means that some things would be better left to the private sector, we're prepared to study that. We've indicated a number of areas where we're looking at that. If, on the other hand, it can be proven that the public sector can deliver better quality for a better price, we're all for that. You see, we're not for any ideology that government has to do everything. We're not for any ideology that it has to be this union that delivers this service, or this crown corporation. In fact, we're for the taxpayers and we're for the citizens of Ontario: best quality, best price.


Mrs McLeod: There is nothing I might like better, other than a resolution to the strike, than to see this government's privatization plans. Then we might have some idea of just how many of those 27,000 jobs are about to be lost in the next two years. But Premier, that was not my question.

My question is about, where is the fairness for your employees when you do privatize their jobs? I say to you there has been no fairness at all in what you and your government have put on the table for these employees during these negotiations. I say to you there was no fairness at all in the preparations you made deliberately for this strike using your legislative bullying powers to strip away first successor rights and then pension rights in Bill 26, Premier, you may remember, when you took away the rights of your employees to fair treatment on pensions that any other employee in any other sector, public or private, would have.

Premier, I hope you know that under your proposals it is now possible, for example, for a 55-year-old employee who has 22 years' experience in government service, who is three years away from retirement, to lose his job under your layoff provisions, and to lose his right, at the same time, to continue to make contributions towards a full pension, that full pension he's worked towards for some 22 years. Premier, where is the fairness in that?

Hon Mr Harris: I have to tell you that I believe, as does our cabinet, as does our caucus, as does the vast majority of Ontarians, that nobody has been fairer than the Chair of Management Board, Dave Johnson, in dealing with the employees of the province.

In reaching our ultimate goal of significantly lower unemployment, of significantly more jobs, of competitive tax rates, of Ontario becoming known as a friendly jurisdiction to invest and create jobs, and our ultimate long-term plan, to deliver services efficiently and effectively, we up front acknowledged that the public sector would be downsized. We publicly acknowledged that pre-campaign, during the campaign and post-campaign.

The challenge, then, is to be fair, to be compassionate, to be generous. By any measure, including the settlement we have tentatively reached with AMAPCEO, with offering severance benefits far in excess of any of those in the private sector who have lost their jobs, who are paying the taxes to support this $1 million an hour more going out than we get in, Dave Johnson, representing the government, has been more than fair, in putting forth, given our financial situation, an increase -- if you can believe that with a $10-billion deficit -- in the total package that was put there. While we can't talk about the details of negotiations right now, that is a matter of public record, as is the fairness of our position and our negotiating position and our negotiator.

Mrs McLeod: How can this Premier talk about fairness and compassion?


Mrs McLeod: The members on the government benches may laugh at this, but I can tell you that the people out there on picket lines are people with families and homes and mortgages to pay. They're people who worry about their jobs. They're people who worry about what's going to happen not just to them, but to their colleagues when some 27,000 of them get laid off in the next two years because this government wants to move so fast to deliver its tax cut.

I ask the Premier, where is the fairness, before negotiations ever begin, in taking away successor rights, in taking away the right to contribute to your pension, in taking away even the right to arbitration? Where is the fairness, when you sit down at the negotiating table, in saying that the people whose job you sell to the private sector won't even get your generous severance offer, and that senior person won't get a chance to keep his job and work towards his pension while a more junior person could hang on to his because it is a management right to keep that junior person in his job? Where's the fairness in all of that from a government that is ready to lay off as many as 27,000 people?

Premier, this strike could have been ended much earlier. In fact, this strike didn't need to take place if there was any interest on your part or the part of your government in what was fair and reasonable. If your goal, Premier, was to reduce the size of the public service by 13,000 positions, as you said it was during the election campaign, you could have done that and you could have done it through attrition.

The Speaker: Put your question.

Mrs McLeod: You could have done that through the natural process of attrition and get to your goal long before you have any plans to balance your budget. But this strike is not about fairness. It is about a bullying government that wants the maximum flexibility to do whatever it wants to do when it wants to do it and how it wants to do it, and it doesn't care who gets hurt.

The Speaker: Are you putting your question?

Mrs McLeod: Premier, is it not true that this has nothing to do with making a fair and reasonable offer to your employees? It is just your government carrying out its very deliberate plans and driving a steamroller over anyone or anything in its path.

The Speaker: The question has been asked.

Hon Mr Harris: No. As with most of the statements you make, it's not true. You ask me, is it not true? It is not true. Not only that, a lot of the statements -- the 27,000 figure, the other figures thrown out by the Leader of the Opposition -- are not only not true, they are irresponsible and they're not productive in the middle of these negotiations.

We talked about offering double severance from what was there from the NDP; we talked about offering pension bridges; we talked about committing the employer to make reasonable efforts; we talked about, in the final offer, a cost of $150 million to $200 million to the beleaguered taxpayers, deficit-ridden Ontarians, of the mess that we inherited. That, we believe, is fair and generous.

The Leader of the Opposition said, "Why don't you use attrition?" Well, we will use attrition and we will use retirement packages and we will use incentives. But I'm going to tell you that it would have been --

Mr Richard Patten (Ottawa Centre): You can't do it in two years.

Hon Mr Harris: We can't do it in two years. That's right. And do you know why we can't do it in two years? Because of the irresponsibility, particularly between 1980 and 1985.

Let me ask you this: Does it sound like attrition? You hired 8,000 people; 8,000 you hired. We had a chance to use attrition from 1980 to 1985. Had the Liberals particularly not been so irresponsible, we wouldn't be in this mess today. Even the NDP might have been able to handle it.


Mr Bud Wildman (Algoma): I didn't realize the Premier felt that way about the Davis government.

I have a question for the Premier. In light of the comments the Premier has just made in answer to the questions from the Leader of the Opposition re the fact that the government, as he says, is not committed to privatization at this point, that the government wants a fair settlement and is trying to be fair, why has this government provoked this strike? Why did you take the approach of bringing legislation before the House last fall that stripped workers of their pension rights in Bill 26 and their successor rights in Bill 7? The people who are facing loss of jobs no longer have any opportunity and protections that people in the private sector have.

Recognizing the fact that this would not cost the government money and would be seen as a substantive move, is the government prepared, in the attempt to reach a settlement and to bring an end to this dispute, to restore successor rights to the workers who are out there on the picket line? We're not talking about numbers. We're talking about people and their families who provide services to the people of this province. Are you prepared now to say that you will restore successor rights to the people who are out there on the picket line?

Hon Michael D. Harris (Premier): As the newly elected leader of the New Democratic Party has indicated -- and let me offer my congratulations for his position -- as he pointed out, and I will correct the record, as it is my right to do and I'd like to do that, it was 1985 to 1990 when the Liberals added 8,000 employees.


In response to the leader of the New Democratic Party, I want to be very clear. There's been a lot of talk bandied about about pensions, or stripping of pensions or using these kinds of words. I want to reiterate, and I think that the public clearly needs to understand, that the members of OPSEU, the members of AMAPCEO, every employee working for the government of Ontario is privy to a defined-benefit, fully indexed pension plan and there is absolutely nothing in legislation or negotiations that takes a cent away from that.

Mr Wildman: The Premier did not respond to the specific question I raised, which was the issue of successor rights. The fact is, if the government is not committed to privatization, why on earth did you bring in Bill 7 in the first place? And are you prepared now, since it will not cost the government and the taxpayers anything, to move and to restore successor rights, or are you determined to have the people out on the picket line and to have a confrontation instead of a settlement?

Hon Mr Harris: Now that we've settled that intact and in place is one of the most generous, fully indexed, defined-benefit plans that compares with all the other provinces and the federal government -- I just wanted to get that behind us, because that was in the preamble -- in successor rights we have indicated we are not committed to privatization but we are not committed not to look at privatization. We've said that. We're committed to finding the most effective way to deliver the best quality services for the best price to the people of Ontario.

So we did make some changes. We did make some changes that had been brought in by previous administrations, paralleling the similar changes that were brought in by the Liberal government in Ottawa, that allowed it the flexibility and the opportunity to see, who are the best people? Is it the employees? Is it government? Is it perhaps the employees taking it over, giving them an option? Is it the private sector? Now we can do that, as can the federal government and other governments across the country.

Mr Wildman: Perhaps the Premier could explain, now that he has indicated privatization if necessary but not necessarily privatization, why it is that people in the public sector, employees of this government, should be treated differently than people who work in the private sector who do have successor rights. Why is it, if the government is truly interested in fairness, that it is taking this approach and determined to deny rights to these workers that other workers across the economy have?

Hon Mr Harris: I don't know if the member is suggesting that we change the legislation for the private sector so that we're all the same. We're prepared, actually, to take a look at that. We're prepared to take a look at that, now the leader of the New Democratic Party has suggested that that's what perhaps we should do.

Ms Frances Lankin (Beaches-Woodbine): Oh, get off it. Take this seriously. This is about people's lives. It's about families.

Hon Mr Harris: Well, now the potential leader, used to be leader, leader, leader of the day, wannabe leader, interjects, "Be serious." You measure fairness. What's in the private sector? What's in the public sector?

Ms Lankin: Everything is a joke to you. It's not a joke to the people out there on the picket lines. It's not a joke when they can't pay their mortgages.

Hon Mr Harris: The point of the matter, I guess, from the interventions from the member for Beaches-Woodbine, is that the public sector's not the same as the private sector, and she's right. It's not the same.

We actually inherited a $100-billion deficit. In the private sector, they're bankrupt, out of business, nobody has a job or any protection because that was it. We are a little different. In the public sector, if they run a million dollars an hour more money going out than comes in, they're bankrupt, no jobs, everybody loses their job. So we are a little different.

In the public sector, if they run $1 million an hour more money going out than comes in, they're bankrupt; no jobs; everybody loses their job. So we are a little different.

I've got to tell you something else. After the last five years of the NDP government, we're very different in the public sector and it's a heck of a mess to clean up, but we're doing our best.


Mr Bud Wildman (Algoma): It's exactly that kind of flippant, arrogant response that is going to make it very difficult to get a settlement in this dispute.

The Premier knows full well that I was not suggesting that private sector workers should be denied rights. He knows full well that what I was suggesting was that public sector workers be treated fairly. The Premier goes on to say that this is about cutting the deficit and resolving the problems of the deficit, when in fact we know that the level of the cuts in the public sector that he's talking about are related to a tax cut that is not going to produce anything in terms of economic development in this province.

The finance committee report that you announced today, Mr Speaker, indicated to all of us here and to the public that every expert who appeared before the committee said the tax cut would be taking money out of the economy and would not restore the economy as the government intends.

Can the Premier explain why he is so determined to go ahead with this tax cut when every credible witness before the committee said that it would take money out of the economy, would harm the Ontario economy, not do what this government claims it would do?

Hon Michael D. Harris (Premier): The cost of the tax cut is this: It will take us five years to balance the budget instead of three years, as you campaigned on. That is the cost of the tax cut. Now, what are the advantages of the tax cut?

You campaigned on no tax cut, "We're going to carry on the highest taxes virtually, among the highest in North America." You campaigned on that and you said you could balance the budget in three years. You might be able to do that. If you're prepared to make the same kind of reductions we are, you might be able to do that. But the penalty for it is over 10% unemployment, 1.3 million on welfare, $10-billion deficits, a $100-billion deficit overall, a whole litany and tyranny of unemployment, of loss of hope.

So we believe very strongly that just as your tax hikes killed jobs, destroyed jobs, ruined the Ontario economy, that we're better to wait five years to balance the budget and have lower unemployment, over 725,000 new jobs, fewer people dependent upon welfare. The price is prosperity and jobs for Ontario. We think it's a pretty good price.


The Speaker (Hon Allan K. McLean): I'd like to restore order in the Legislature. Could I restore some order, please.

Mr Wildman: The Premier has said that the purpose of this is to produce 725,000 new jobs. Can he please explain how laying off somewhere between a little more than what the Liberals promised or up to 27,000 from the public sector plus the teachers, perhaps as many as 15,000 teachers are going to be out of work, the hospital workers and all of the municipal workers across the province because cuts in your transfer payments -- how is that going to add to consumer confidence? How is that going to produce more spending that will stimulate the private sector? Can the Premier please explain how it is that this tax cut is going to produce consumer spending when in fact in order to do it he's putting thousands of people out of work in this province?

Hon Mr Harris: I think the member knows quite well that the spending reductions called for by his party and the Liberal Party and our party were to deal with the deficit. That was to deal with the $10 billion of spending each year that we didn't have or the million dollars an hour we didn't have.

Then you had some stimulative programs, "tax more, government spend," to try and create jobs. They were an unmitigated disaster, a job-killing failure, so we are scrapping those programs.


The Speaker: Order. The member for Beaches-Woodbine is out of order.


Hon Mr Harris: Everybody knows by delivering services more efficiently, more effectively, in conjunction with having a more competitive, regulatory and tax climate, we will create far more jobs in the private sector than are lost in the public sector. Clearly, some will be lost in the public sector. Many more will be created in the private sector. It's already working today. We are on track for over 725,000 jobs, and by the time we go back to the people, we will exceed it.

Mr Wildman: There is absolutely no evidence for what the Premier just asserted. There is absolutely no evidence that there has been stimulation in the economy today as a result of the policies of this government.

Can the Premier please explain why he is prepared to stand by this promise of a 30% tax cut, even when he recognizes that the experts before the committee made it very clear that the cuts in public services and expenditures will result in less consumer confidence in the economy, not more?

Hon Mr Harris: The reductions in the public sector -- I guess maybe when we campaigned we were the only party that acknowledged there's a drag on the economy when you do that. But then there's a plus for balancing the books and getting your affairs in order that are there, you see.

We acknowledge that. It is the stimulative effects of electing a Progressive Conservative investment climate here in Ontario -- tax reductions, a more competitive regulatory climate -- that will create the private sector jobs. So how are we doing?

Here's how we're doing. Over the last six months, Ontario has gained 76,000 jobs, net. Employment rose by 31,000 in February. We're on track the last six months: 13,000 jobs a month. Our projections -- our own government projections -- are 81,000 net new jobs in 1996, 100,000 in 1997. Data resources, if you want independent data, say 150,000 in 1997. On that track, we're in excess of 725,000 jobs over the next five years.


Mr Joseph Cordiano (Lawrence): It's obvious that the Premier wants to look like this fair guy, and his Chair of Management Board certainly has that look of fairness. I can tell that you when you scratch beneath the surface, there is no fairness there.

My question is for the Premier. Premier, the daily commerce of the province is steadily and daily being slowed down: Potential home buyers are being hurt by the slowdown in land registries; small meat processors may be faced with bankruptcy; birth registry and renewal are slowing to a crawl. How in the world can a poisoned labour climate, in addition to all of that, help attract more investment to Ontario? I ask you, Premier, when will you put the public interest ahead of your own narrow political interest and start negotiating in good faith?

Hon Michael D. Harris (Premier): I know the Chair of Management Board does that every day, and he'd be pleased to answer the question.

Hon David Johnson (Chair of the Management Board of Cabinet): I'd be pleased to indicate to the member for Lawrence that the government has been negotiating through this whole piece in a fair and reasonable way. We put an offer on the table in the first instance, a final offer, involving an increase in compensation of between $150 million and $200 million.

Most of the people I talked to in the province of Ontario feel that is a fair and reasonable amount. As a matter of fact, I would say that to some degree we are getting criticism, that some people feel that's too much money that we're putting on the table, but we have looked in other areas as well. We've looked at severance payments for those who will be leaving, doubling the severance payments. We've looked at pension-bridging mechanisms. As a matter of fact, we've looked at restoring the social contract, so the take-home pay of the members will be increased, which was taken away by the previous government. So there'll be about a 2% increase in compensation, total take-home pay to the members, plus the merit increases will click back in. So this government has put a number of different proposals on the table in an effort to be fair and reasonable to the employees of the province of Ontario.

Mr Cordiano: It's obvious that this government has used every chance it has, including the strike, to drive a wedge with the people of Ontario between the rich and the poor, to have a division between the employed and the unemployed, workers and management. When will this government realize that the people of Ontario want fairness, not more division, not more conflict, not more alienation -- fairness. When will you get back to the negotiating table with fairness in mind, Mr Minister?

Hon David Johnson: We are at the table in the sense that the mediator is very actively negotiating between the two parties. The blackout, of course, is in place so I can't give you any details of anything that's taken place under the blackout. Fairness is what we are trying to achieve: fairness for the employees, fairness for the taxpayers, fairness for the citizens of Ontario in that we need to restructure this government to be able to do better with less, to be able to deliver the services to the people of the province of Ontario. That's what we're trying to achieve.

I might say that in an effort to kickstart that, we put forward on Tuesday of last week amendments to our proposals, such as the job-matching scheme which would include a further element of fairness, and that's I think why we were in active negotiations over the last weekend. So I'll assure the member one more time that we are attempting to be fair to all concerned: to the employees, but also to the taxpayers.


Mr Bud Wildman (Algoma): I have a question to the Premier. In light of his comments and the comments of his colleague the Chair of Management Board, and the determination, it appears, of the government to make these cuts to help to finance the tax cut, could we refer to your promises in the campaign. In the campaign, you said your plans included $600 million for severance payments. Now, apparently in the negotiations you're saying you can only afford $150 million to $200 million in the OPSEU agreement. You also said in the document the Common Sense Revolution that, "Where possible we'll make reductions through attrition and retirement packages." Why are you breaking this promise and why are you not prepared to meet the commitment you made of $600 million in the campaign?

Hon Michael D. Harris (Premier): The commitments that were quoted in the Common Sense Revolution will be met or exceeded.

Mr Wildman: Does that then mean that the commitment for $600 million to finance severance packages is again on the table?

Hon Mr Harris: The commitments that have just been repeated in the supplementary, as well as the commitments in the question, as well as those commitments dealing with downsizing in the Common Sense Revolution, will be met or exceeded.


Mr Ted Arnott (Wellington): My question is for the Chair of Management Board of Cabinet. As members know, the ongoing strike of the civil service union is creating severe hardship for the owners and employees of provincially inspected meat processing plants. Virtually no meat is being processed in provincially inspected plants at the present time and many of these businesses are in very deep trouble because for the past three weeks they've been unable to operate and serve their customers. In recent days I've heard from a number of my constituents who are affected by this strike and I view the present situation as being totally unacceptable. Can the minister advise the House of what actions the government is taking to resolve this problem?

Hon David Johnson (Chair of the Management Board of Cabinet): The government is concerned about this situation. It's unfortunate because there are some 300 small meat processing plants across the province of Ontario. They are small business people. They struggle. They work hard to make a living and this government is very concerned about them. I will say that they employ a great number of people across the province of Ontario and unfortunately -- those employees are important -- as a result of this strike the plants have essentially been closed down. There are about 2,000 people who have been put out of work and I'm very concerned about that.

The government took this matter of the Ontario Labour Relations Board last week. The government feels that these meat processors should be in operation. The union's position is that the services are not essential. The government's view is that the services are essential and the government wished to have essential service workers so that the plants could be opened. But the labour relations board has ruled against the government and ruled that the meat inspectors should not be essential, and unfortunately, as a result, the plants are closed down.


Mr Arnott: I want to thank the minister for the actions he has taken to date, but we must acknowledge that in spite of the government's best efforts the problem is not yet solved. There's a concern that some processors, in desperation to save their businesses and their livelihoods, may process illegally and unsafe meat may reach the supermarket counter. What assurances can the minister provide the House that the meat being sold in Ontario is safe for people to eat?

Hon David Johnson: Again to the member for Wellington, we will certainly be continuing to monitor this situation. It's not a situation that we're happy with. I'll assure you that we would immediately negotiate with the union in terms of having essential service workers in these plants so that they could operate, so that they could process meat properly, so that there would be no danger at all to the health and safety of the people of the province of Ontario.

The government is continuing to collect evidence. To the degree that there's evidence that would support a further review by the Ontario Labour Relations Board, I'll assure you that we will be more than willing to go back to the Ontario Labour Relations Board to rectify this matter. Of course, the government is continuing to negotiate on a broader scale, and if we can reach an agreement on a basis that's fair and reasonable to the taxpayers as well as to the employees, then this whole matter will be resolved as well.


Mr Gerry Phillips (Scarborough-Agincourt): My question is to the Premier and it has to do with the OPSEU strike and how the government is dealing with the OPSEU members.

The Premier will remember that during the campaign his document on the Common Sense Revolution said, "We will trim the cost of the direct provincial government workforce by 15%, the equivalent of some 13,000 employees, returning the system to the approximate size it was in 1985." That was your first promise; you would return it to 1985 levels. We've heard today, however, that we're actually already at the 1985 level. The Ontario public service already is at the 1985 level.

The second thing we've heard is this -- and my leader pointed this out. These weren't her numbers, these are your numbers, Premier. You have said that you are going to cut the payroll by one third, 33%. That's how much money you're going to cut out of the Ontario payroll. Because OPSEU is essentially two thirds -- or actually three quarters -- of the payroll, we can only assume that when you're cutting the payroll by 33%, you are going to cut 33% of the jobs.

My question is this: Knowing what OPSEU is facing at the table, can you confirm that you have changed your commitment from the campaign? You are no longer committed to returning it to 1985 levels, but you are planning to reduce it at least 20,000 and perhaps as much as 27,000 jobs below the 1985 levels?

Hon Michael D. Harris (Premier): I think the Chairman of Management Board --


Hon David Johnson (Chair of the Management Board of Cabinet): I can confirm that this government is committed to its Common Sense Revolution approach, that we will downsize and restructure the government to deliver better with less.

In terms of the job count, at this point it's all speculation. The 13,000 is the number that was contained in the Common Sense Revolution, but the ministries are looking at their business plans, the ministries are looking at their estimates procedures, and this will all become clear over the next couple of months in terms of what will be required to deliver the services in the province of Ontario in a manner consistent with what we said would happen in the Common Sense Revolution. The people of Ontario are expecting us to downsize, restructure and do better, and that's exactly what we're going to do.

Mr Phillips: I think you begin to see the problem OPSEU faces trying to deal with this government. You have said publicly you are going to cut one third of the cost of the payroll out of the budget. Those are your own numbers, and the Premier's shaking his head. You have said that. You said that publicly and you said that in private briefings. That's what OPSEU is facing, a government that is trying to hide the facts from the public. You said you're going to cut one third out. In the campaign you said we were going to return to the 1985 levels. You've already broken that promise. You've already said you're going to get at least 13,000 below it.

I want you today to confirm that you have said you are going to cut one third -- it's in your own document, right here -- of the payroll out. If it does not come from jobs, where in the world else are you going to cut payroll, Mr Chairman of Management Board?

Hon David Johnson: What I announced in the Legislature last fall was that the operating and administrative expenses of the province of Ontario in those areas that were not exempted such as health and classroom education etc, those areas would be reduced by about 33% over two years. That was clear.

Mr David S. Cooke (Windsor-Riverside): You stuck to that one.

The Speaker: Order.

Hon David Johnson: Mr Speaker, if I'm allowed to respond.


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

Hon David Johnson: There are a number of ways of reducing administrative expenses. For example, you will see quite a lowering in terms of the cost of property leases of the province of Ontario.

Ms Frances Lankin (Beaches-Woodbine): That's not payroll. He' talking payroll numbers. Answer the question.

Hon David Johnson: Well, I'm telling the member opposite the commitment this government made, and the commitment this government made was to reduce operating and administrative expenses. That will be accomplished through reduction in lease costs, through consolidation, for example, of computer leases -- in many, many different ways. Yes, there will be reduction in the payroll costs as well. All taken together, that will be one third, roughly, over a couple of years, of the expenses that have not been exempted.


Mr Floyd Laughren (Nickel Belt): I have a question for the Minister of Health. It seems as though I need to remind him of a commitment in the infamous Common Sense Revolution, a commitment that is worded as follows: "We will not cut health care spending."

Outside on the picket lines today there are many, many health care workers, because they know that after you've finished savaging OPSEU, they're next on the line. They know that. You've already broken a promise that you would not cut health care. They know that the promise in the Common Sense Revolution is at best a sham and at worst an outright lie. There have been thousands and thousands of layoff notices already issued by hospitals. Anybody with an ounce of sense knows you cannot effect those levels of layoffs without affecting the level of services in the health care system.

At the Toronto General Hospital there have been 1,300 workers already receive layoff notices. At the Parry Sound hospital, every health care worker in the hospital below the level of chief executive officer has received a layoff notice. In Hamilton Centre, St Peter's Hospital has already notified 230 people of layoff. And as a matter of fact, St Joseph's Hospital will be closed and there will be up to 4,500 jobs there.

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

Mr Laughren: I'm asking the Minister of Health, will he finally lay to rest that big lie in the Common Sense Revolution and admit there are going to be cuts to the health care system?

Hon Jim Wilson (Minister of Health): Perhaps the record of this government speaks for itself in the area of health care. The budget was $17.4 billion when we arrived in office. It's $17.4 billion today. It will be $17.4 billion when we go into the next election.


The Speaker: The member's out of order. Sit down. You're out of order.

Hon Mr Wilson: Yes, the Minister of Finance, in his November statement, made it clear that $1.3 billion will be the amount of money reduced in transfers to hospitals over the next three years. I know the honourable member told the Ontario Hospital Association that he agreed with hospital restructuring. That's the money we anticipate will come out of hospitals.

Unlike other governments, when we actually see that money -- and don't forget, those fiscal years haven't even started yet and we've already made investments in kidney dialysis and paramedics and ambulance services around the province and a 20% increase in cardiac surgeries, and we've not seen one penny of hospital restructuring savings. When we see the savings, though, that money over the next few years of the government will also be reinvested into health care, into long-term-care services, into things that his community needs, and the envelope sealed at $17.4 billion. I don't understand how you can't get that through your heads and understand that is a sealed, protected envelope as per our campaign promises.


Mr Laughren: That response would be laughable if it wasn't so serious. The minister knows he's already cut the money out of the hospital budgets before the restructuring has taken place. He knows that full well. As a matter of fact, his own government, his own ministry, through the health sector training and adjustment program, has announced for the year 1996-97 that there'll be the following layoffs in the hospital sector in the province: for Metro Toronto, 2,550; for the northeast of the province, 350; the northwest, 65; eastern Ontario, 820; the southwest, 1,315; central west, 460; central east, 175 people. Those are layoffs that are coming, according to his own ministry, this year in the hospital sector, and he wants us to believe that will not affect services and that does not represent a reduction in funding to the health care sector.

So I'm asking the Minister of Health to do two things: to convince his colleagues that the tax cut must not go and that that money be used to maintain spending in the health care sector and to get the deficit down.

Hon Mr Wilson: The honourable member was the Treasurer of a government that closed over 6,000 hospital beds during the five years that you were in office. The only thing you forgot to do, I say to the honourable member, was to actually reduce the overhead costs. On a proportional basis, Ontarians pay today more for bricks and mortar than we do for actual services in those hospitals compared to other provinces and other health care systems, and that's a real shame. So everyone, I say to the honourable member, in the health care sector agrees with restructuring, and all three political parties here.

Yes, there will be a dislocation of jobs in the hospital sector. We will see a beefing up of services and an increasing number of jobs created in the long-term-care sector. We know that adjustment policies have to be in place. One of the Health Services Restructuring Commission's first priorities is to establish that human resources plan. The remnants of the plan that the NDP left -- they spent tens of millions of dollars studying this problem but didn't have the courage to move forward and do the restructuring -- did put in place the health sector training and adjustment program. That money is still there and that money will be available to help retrain people so they'll get jobs, the new jobs in health care that aren't necessarily in the old hospitals but in the community.

We'll see an increase of health care services in the province. In fact, all of the studies to date, some 33 coming into the ministry, indicate we will have better health care services -- highest quality, best price -- and it's a pretty exciting time in health care in the province.


Mrs Lillian Ross (Hamilton West): My question is to the Solicitor General. Ontarians across the province are deeply concerned about the rise in the number of crimes committed by youths in our society today. Criminal habits developed by these young people may stay with them all their lives, with long-term costs to themselves and to the people of Ontario as a whole. While our party was in opposition, we advocated getting tougher on young offenders. Recently the Solicitor General announced the formation of a Strict Discipline Task Force. I would like to ask the Solicitor General, what progress has been made in this area since the creation of the task force?

Hon Bob Runciman (Solicitor General and Minister of Correctional Services): I thank the member for the question. I know there have been a number of incidents in her own riding in the last little while with respect to young offender crime and I appreciate the concern of her constituents which she is voicing in the Legislature today.

When our party was in opposition, we toured the province listening to people with respect to concerns related to the justice field. One concern is in the young offender area. We have acted upon that concern as a government. We're limited significantly in what we can do because, as members are aware, the Young Offenders Act is a federal piece of legislation. But we are moving in the strict discipline area. We have established a task force which will be reporting back by mid-April and we hope to move very quickly in this area this year. They have met with over 40 stakeholders, they have visited a number of young offender facilities in Ontario and have also visited Manitoba to take a look at the strict discipline program in Manitoba.

I can indicate to the member and to members of the House that we will move quickly with respect to implementing the recommendations of the task force. We see a strict discipline facility, at least one, perhaps more, in establishment before the end of the calendar year and certainly the implementation of strict discipline programming throughout the young offender system in Ontario.



Hon Ernie L. Eves (Deputy Premier, Minister of Finance and Government House Leader): I move that notwithstanding standing orders 8(a) and 96(a), the House will not meet on the morning of Thursday, March 21, 1996, to consider private members' public business; and that notwithstanding standing order 96(h), the requirement for notice be waived with respect to ballot items 15, 16, 17 and 18.

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


Hon Ernie L. Eves (Deputy Premier, Minister of Finance and Government House Leader): Mr Speaker, I think you will find there's unanimous consent to consider the estimates concurrences together and to defer all votes to the end of the six hours allotted for estimates concurrences.

The Speaker (Hon Allan K. McLean): Is it agreed? It is agreed.



Mr Bruce Crozier (Essex South): It's my privilege today to add another 3,200 signatures, which now makes it I believe in excess of 11,000 signatures collected by Rose Kulimouski and Mae Mussolum with regard to cuts in health care. I will dispense with the reading of the petition, but it is addressed to the Legislative Assembly and I'll file that with the clerk.


Ms Frances Lankin (Beaches-Woodbine): "Whereas the Ontario government plans to sell off public services to corporations which will run them for profit; and

"Whereas corporate takeover will be strictly user-pay for services we now depend on; and

"Whereas our clean air and water standards and worker safety rules are being relaxed because corporations don't like rules that interfere with profits; and

"Whereas privatization is being sold as a way to save tax dollars, even though large companies pay little or no taxes while individual Canadians pay most of the total tax bill; and

"Whereas Bill 7 was introduced in the interests of facilitating its privatization agenda by stripping public sector workers of their rights to retain fair working conditions when services are transferred or privatized;

"We, the following citizens of Ontario, beg leave to petition the Parliament of Ontario to abandon the sell-off of Ontario public services and reinstate successor rights for public service employees."

I'm affixing my name to this petition.


Mr Bill Murdoch (Grey-Owen Sound): I have a petition to the Legislature of Ontario:

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


Mrs Sandra Pupatello (Windsor-Sandwich): To the Honourable Lieutenant Governor and the Legislative Assembly of Ontario:

"Whereas Bill 26 exempts the government as an employer from key legislation governing pensions in Ontario; and

"Whereas employees of the Ontario government have been stripped of their right to access pension security, a right that other workers in Ontario have; and

"Whereas this represents the theft of hundreds of millions of dollars in pension benefits from working people; and

"Whereas as a result thousands of workers who face being laid off in the coming months could be forced into poverty;

"We, the following undersigned citizens of Ontario, beg leave to petition the Parliament of Ontario to reinstate the rights removed by schedule L of Bill 26."

I hereby affix my signature.



Mrs Marion Boyd (London Centre): To the Honourable Lieutenant Governor and the Legislative Assembly of Ontario:

"Whereas the members of the Ontario public service are earnestly attempting to negotiate an equitable and respectful collective agreement with the government of Ontario; and

"Whereas a fair collective agreement is evidence of this government's respect for Ontario's public services, the workers who provide them and those who need them; and

"Whereas by introducing Bill 7 and Bill 26 prior to commencing negotiations, the government removed significant rights from OPSEU members that other workers in Ontario retain; and

"Whereas reducing the size of the civil service can be achieved through attrition, without attacking basic rights and dignities of hard-working people;

"We, the following undersigned citizens of Ontario, beg leave to petition the Parliament of Ontario to negotiate responsibly and in good faith with the Ontario Public Service Employees Union towards a fair and respectful collective agreement."

This is signed by more than 70 people, and I'm proud to affix my signature.


Mr Bill Grimmett (Muskoka-Georgian Bay): By coincidence, this is a petition from the member for Simcoe East.

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

It's signed by some 21 persons. It appears to be in order.


Mr James J. Bradley (St Catharines): My petition reads as follows:

"Whereas the Minister of Health is given full power to close or amalgamate hospitals and to terminate services that individual hospitals provide; and

"Whereas the Minister of Health is given the power to take over the operation of a community hospital by appointing a hospital supervisor who will have all the powers of the hospital board; and

"Whereas $225 million in new user fees under the Ontario drug benefit program will be imposed on seniors and others most in need; and

"Whereas drug costs under the Ontario drug benefit program will no longer be regulated, leading to sharp increases in the price of prescription drugs; and

"Whereas the Minister of Health is given the power to unilaterally remove health care services from OHIP coverage, meaning these services will have to be paid for by the public; and

"Whereas the government is given the power to unilaterally close down the public service pension plan and the Ontario Public Service Employees Union pension plan; and

"Whereas Bill 26 restricts access to freedom of information requests by implementing new fees and providing greater powers to the government to keep files secret;

"We, the undersigned, petition the Legislative Assembly of Ontario to withdraw Mike Harris's undemocratic omnibus Bill 26."

I affix my signature to this petition as I agree with it.


Ms Marilyn Churley (Riverdale): I have a petition from people who are very concerned about the treatment by this government to workers.

To the Honourable Lieutenant Governor and the Legislative Assembly of Ontario:

"Whereas the members of the Ontario public service are earnestly attempting to negotiate an equitable and respectful collective agreement with the government of Ontario; and

"Whereas a fair collective agreement is evidence of this government's respect for Ontario's public services, the workers who provide them and those who need them; and

"Whereas by introducing Bill 7 and Bill 26 prior to commencing negotiations, the government removed significant rights from OPSEU members that other workers in Ontario retain; and

"Whereas reducing the size of the civil service can be achieved through attrition, without attacking basic rights and dignities of hard-working people,

"We, the following undersigned citizens of Ontario, beg leave to petition the Parliament of Ontario to negotiate reasonably and in good faith with the Ontario Public Service Employees Union towards a fair and respectful collective agreement."

I agree with this petition and I will affix my signature to it.


Mr Derwyn Shea (High Park-Swansea): Pleading with this government to do what the former Liberal and NDP governments would not do -- that is, to help restore clean water and clean beaches to west Toronto -- I present to the Parliament of Ontario a petition signed by thousands of residents of Parkdale and High Park and York South asking the government to give speedy approval to the construction of the western beaches tunnel, which will make a major contribution to the improvement of our environment, improve water quality, create thousands of construction jobs and return our western beaches to safe, pristine conditions for our children and our future.

I proudly affix my signature.


Mr Dwight Duncan (Windsor-Walkerville): "Whereas the members of the Ontario public service are earnestly attempting to negotiate an equitable and respectful collective agreement with the government of Ontario; and

"Whereas a fair collective agreement is evidence of this government's respect for Ontario's public services, the workers who provide them and those who need them; and

"Whereas by introducing Bill 7 and Bill 26 prior to commencing negotiations, the government removed significant rights from OPSEU members that other workers in Ontario retain; and

"Whereas reducing the size of the civil service can be achieved through attrition without attacking basic rights and dignities of hardworking people;

"We, the following undersigned citizens of Ontario, beg leave to petition the Parliament of Ontario to negotiate responsibly and in good faith with the Ontario public service employees union towards a fair and respectful collective agreement."

I affix my signature along with the hundreds of others who have signed this petition and submit it to the House today.


Ms Shelley Martel (Sudbury East): I have a petition to the Lieutenant Governor and the Legislative Assembly of Ontario and it reads as follows:

"Whereas the Ontario government plans to sell off public services to corporations who will run them for profit; and

"Whereas after the corporate takeover it will be strictly user-pay for services we now depend on; and

"Whereas our clean air and water standards and worker safety rules are being relaxed because corporations don't like the rules that interfere with profits; and

"Whereas privatization is being sold as a way to save tax dollars, even though large companies pay little or no taxes while individual Canadians pay most of the total tax bill; and

"Whereas Bill 7 was introduced in the interests of facilitating the privatization of the agenda of the government by stripping public sector workers of their rights to retain fair working conditions when services are transferred or privatized;

"We, the following citizens of Ontario, beg leave to petition the Parliament of Ontario to abandon the sell-off of Ontario's public services and to reinstate successor rights for public service employees."

I agree with the petitioners and I affix my signature to this petition.


Mr Marcel Beaubien (Lambton): I have a petition dealing with Ipperwash Provincial Park and it reads as follows:

"Whereas Ipperwash Provincial Park was occupied by aboriginal persons on September 5, 1995; and

"Whereas there has been considerable property damage resulting from this occupation; and

"Whereas there is speculation of a possible burial site on this deeded property;

"We, the undersigned residents" -- and there are 5,000 of them -- "of Ontario petition the Legislative Assembly of Ontario as follows:

"(1) To undertake to reopen Ipperwash Provincial Park and restore the park for public use before the regular opening date of May 1996.

"(2) To ensure the integrity of all of our provincial parks to remain open for continued use for tourism and the enjoyment of the public.

"(3) To define the status of any burial site and protect any such site under the direction of the Cemeteries Act."


Mr Richard Patten (Ottawa Centre): I have a petition to the Legislative Assembly:

"Whereas community-based justice programs such as diversion, alternative measures, community service orders, bail supervision etc have proven value; the screening and the supervision of accused and offenders within well-defined programs contribute to public safety; for over 20 years community-based options have made a positive contribution to the welfare of communities in Ontario;

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

"We believe that these programs must not be viewed as dispensable. As with many recent cuts, short-term fiscal expediency holds no long-term value. Credible links with the community and quality programs for the citizens of Ontario must be maintained."

I affix my name to this petition as well.



Mr David Christopherson (Hamilton Centre): I also have petitions here in support of the OPSEU strikers.

To the honourable Lieutenant Government and the Legislative Assembly of Ontario:

"Whereas the members of the Ontario public service are earnestly attempting to negotiate an equitable and respectful collective agreement with the government of Ontario; and

"Whereas a fair collective agreement is evidence of this government's respect for Ontario's public services, the workers who provide them, and those who need them; and

"Whereas by introducing Bill 7 and Bill 26 prior to commencing negotiations the government removed significant rights from OPSEU members that other workers in Ontario retain; and

"Whereas reducing the size of the civil service can be achieved through attrition, without attacking basic rights and dignities of hardworking people;

"We, the following undersigned citizens of Ontario, beg leave to petition the Parliament of Ontario to negotiate responsibly and in good faith with the Ontario Public Service Employees Union towards a fair and respectful collective agreement."

I'm proud to affix my signature also.


Mr Bill Murdoch (Grey-Owen Sound): I have a petition to the Legislative Assembly of Ontario:

"Whereas the Progressive Conservative Party of Ontario is considering the privatization of the Liquor Control Board of Ontario,

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

"That the Liquor Control Board of Ontario remain a crown corporation because we fear that the privatization of that organization will lead to an increase in crime, drunk driving, alcohol abuse and its health costs as well as loss of control over availability to minors and the quality of product."


Mr Alvin Curling (Scarborough North): A petition to the Legislative Assembly of Ontario:

"Whereas the Minister of Health is given full power to close or amalgamate hospitals and to terminate services that individual hospitals provide; and

"Whereas the Minister of Health is given the power to take over the operation of a community hospital by appointing a hospital supervisor who will have all the powers of the hospital board; and

"Whereas $225 million in new user fees under the Ontario drug benefit program will be imposed on seniors and others most in need; and

"Whereas drug costs under the Ontario drug benefit program will no longer be regulated, leading to sharp increases in the price of prescription drugs; and

"Whereas the Minister of Health is given the power to unilaterally remove health care services from OHIP coverage, meaning these services will have to be paid for by the public; and

"Whereas the government is given the power to unilaterally close down the public service pension plan and the Ontario Public Service Employees Union pension plan; and

"Whereas Bill 26 restricts access to freedom of information requests by implementing new fees and providing greater powers to the government to keep files secret,

"We, the undersigned, petition the Legislative Assembly of Ontario to withdraw Mike Harris's undemocratic omnibus Bill 26."

Hundreds of people have signed this, and I proudly affix my signature to this petition.



Mr Martiniuk from the standing committee on administration of justice presented the following report and moved its adoption:

Your committee begs to report the following bill, as amended:

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

The Speaker (Hon Allan K. McLean): Shall the report, as read, be adopted? Agreed.

Shall Bill 19 be ordered for third reading? Agreed.


Mr Gilchrist from the standing committee on resources development presented the following report and moved its adoption:

Your committee begs to report the following bill, as amended:

Bill 20, An Act to promote economic growth and protect the environment by streamlining the land use planning and development system through amendments related to planning, development, municipal and heritage matters / Projet de loi 20, Loi visant à promouvoir la croissance économique et à protéger l'environnement en rationalisant le système d'aménagement et de mise en valeur du territoire au moyen de modifications touchant des questions relatives à l'aménagement, la mise en valeur, les municipalités et le patrimoine.

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

Shall Bill 20 be ordered for third reading? Agreed.


Pursuant to the order of the House of December 14, 1995, Mr Laughren from the standing committee on government agencies presented the committee's fourth report.

The Speaker (Hon Allan K. McLean): Does the member wish to make a brief statement? No.

Pursuant to standing order 106(g)11, the report is deemed to be adopted by the House.


Pursuant to the order of the House of November 16, 1995, Mr Curling presented a report from the standing committee on estimates.

Reading dispensed with.



Mr Chudleigh moved first reading of the following bill:

Bill Pr50, An Act respecting the Town of Milton.

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


Mrs Marland moved first reading of the following bill:

Bill Pr56, An Act respecting the Association of Registered Graphic Designers of Ontario.

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

1092040 ONTARIO INC ACT, 1996

Mr McGuinty moved first reading of the following bill:

Bill Pr43, An Act to revive 1092040 Ontario Inc.

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



Mr Eves moved concurrence in supply for the following ministries:

Ministry of Education and Training

Ministry of Education and Training, supplementary

Ministry of Community and Social Services

Ministry of Housing

Ministry of Transportation

Ministry of Transportation, supplementary

Ministry of Health

Ministry of Health, supplementary

Ministry of Economic Development and Trade

Mr John R. Baird (Nepean): I'm pleased to rise today to speak on the 1995-96 estimates. At the outset, though, I do believe it's important to note for everyone's information that the 1995-96 estimates that we're going to be discussing today reflect the previous government's way of doing business. This government is in the process of rebuilding the foundations of the province's fiscal and economic policy.

One of the issues we're debating is the Ministry of Housing's estimates, which were reviewed last month. One veteran member of the standing committee on estimates told our committee that landlords have failed, that he had failed when he was a landlord, that as a former Minister of Housing he had failed. He said, "We have not brought decent and affordable housing to the people of this province and we must fix that." He went on to say about this government's actions, "I commend you" -- the government -- "to looking with respect to fixing the rental housing aspect in our province."

Do you know who said that? It was the former Minister of Housing, Alvin Curling. And I couldn't agree more with Mr Curling on this issue. We need fundamental change in this policy area.


We learned a great deal from the estimates process with respect to the Ministry of Housing. We learned that taxpayers are subsidizing non-profit units to the tune of some $10,000 a year; that's this year and every year. If we had let this boondoggle continue, there would have been 132,000 units under subsidy by 1998-99. This would have cost the taxpayers of Ontario, the hardworking taxpayers of Ontario who are suffering under one of the highest tax burdens in North America, brought about by 65 successive tax increases -- half from my friends in the Liberal caucus and half from my friends in the New Democratic Party --

Mr Robert Chiarelli (Ottawa West): How come you are reading your notes?

Mr Baird: My friend from Ottawa West will be pleased to note that I carried every poll --

Mr Chiarelli: They all go to Ottawa for the housing.

The Deputy Speaker (Mr Bert Johnson): The member for Ottawa West will come to order.

Mr James J. Bradley (St Catharines): On a point of order, Mr Speaker: I was trying to listen carefully to what the member said, and I wondered if he mentioned the 172 tax increases under the Progressive Conservative government previous to that. I didn't hear it. Did he say that or not?

Mr Baird: My friend from St Catharines can review Hansard and make note that I, on a number of occasions, said that government was certainly not perfect prior to 1985.

But going back to my friend from Ottawa West, he can take some pride in looking at every single co-op and non-profit housing project in my constituency, and I was elected by a plurality in every single one of them. I know my friend from Ottawa West will appreciate learning that.

These hardworking taxpayers are forced to pay a $10,000 annual subsidy, each and every year, to these units. It's simply unsustainable. This would have cost the hardworking taxpayers of Ontario more than $1 billion a year. Again, this is not just a $1-billion, one-time cost. This is $1 billion this year, next year, and forever. This simply is unsustainable to the taxpayers. If we continued with this type of spending strategy it would end Ontario in the bankruptcy court.

The non-profit program was a badly conceived and badly mismanaged project. Even the neutral Provincial Auditor would wholeheartedly agree with that statement. The Provincial Auditor found huge discrepancies in the non-profit housing sector, such as unsatisfactory control to ensure that projects were built only where needed and at a competitive price. That would seem only logical to the people of Ontario that you build housing only where it's needed and when it's needed. But the Provincial Auditor found that there were unsatisfactory controls to ensure that basic concept was satisfied. Twenty-five per cent of the projects looked at by the auditor lacked approved operating budgets, something that's just absolutely outrageous.

It's that type of mismanagement that put this province at a competitive disadvantage. It's that type of mismanagement and excessive government spending that is the reason why this government has to take control of what is a very difficult situation. We can look at the roots of this problem in the Provincial Auditor's reports and in the way housing has been dealt with over the last five and 10 years particularly.

Mr Chiarelli: What about rent controls?

Mr Baird: The Provincial Auditor went on -- and my friend from Ottawa West will be interested to know this -- to note that project costs were going up despite large declines in land prices and construction costs. When construction costs went down, when land prices went down, it's only logical that the cost of building these non-profit units would go down. But regrettably, under the previous two administrations the Provincial Auditor found it actually went up, which is quite outrageous.

Finally, he noted that the average costs came in even higher than those at the peak of the housing boom in the late 1980s -- last year and the year before, the non-profit housing projects were coming in even more than they were at that boom.

If you go around Ottawa-Carleton, my home community, you'd see that housing prices have fallen in each of the last three or four years. People who bought their homes in 1990-92 find that their homes are depreciably less. It would come as quite a shock to the hardworking taxpayer to note that even with this reality, even with the decline in housing costs, the government-owned and -operated and -constructed housing units were going up in price.

It's that type of mismanagement, it's that type of excessive spending that's put Ontario at a competitive disadvantage with our trading partners. It's put Ontario at a competitive disadvantage when dealing with job creation. It's why the tough actions, all designed to create jobs and hope and opportunity in Ontario, are needed. It's why we simply can't wait. At $1 million an hour going into debt, we simply can't wait. We've got to take action. This government fully accepts the heavy responsibilities given to it by the people of Ontario to make such real change.

We had a very good debate during the election campaign. The government of the day put forward a very clear strategy on where they wanted to take the province. The current government put forward an equally clear strategy on the direction we'd like to take the province in. My friends in the official opposition put forward two very clear strategies on the directions they'd like to take the province in, and we learned about some of them in question period when we heard that the civil service reductions proposed by the official opposition were only 1,000 less than the government's. That's something important to note. I've learned from my colleagues in the Liberal Party that they stand by the numbers; they stand by both of them.

I recall Bill 15, the reform to the Workers' Compensation Board. We learned that during the reign of the previous government, the Liberals were in favour of scrapping the Workplace Health and Safety Agency. Then we waited until after the election and they changed their minds. Now they like it. So they had one set of policies before the election and another set of policies after the election. Regrettably, my colleagues in the third party only have one set of policies.

The committee also heard from the Minister of Housing that the provincial government and his ministry were phasing out funding to a number of interest groups that the previous government funded. It's important to note that. People in my riding, in my constituency, feel very strongly that hard-earned tax dollars shouldn't be given to special-interest groups to lobby their own government to spend exceedingly more money. It's inflationary to simply say, "We'll give money to this group and not that group, and then this group will use that money to lobby us to spend even more money."

I suspect if you knocked on doors in the great city of St Catharines or in Ottawa West, you'd find that nine out of 10 would wholeheartedly agree with the concept that the government simply should not be funding special-interest groups. If interest groups truly represent the large constituencies they purport to represent, surely they could collect a very modest membership fee of as little as a few dollars to support that worthwhile cause they hope to represent.

The people of Ontario have solidly spoken in favour of the government getting out of the advocacy business, of the government getting out of the special-interest-group financing business. They believe the people of Ontario will make the very wise decision to support those groups which they choose to support, not those groups which the government of the day chooses to support through their hard-earned tax dollars. It's simply unsustainable. To ask taxpayers to fund special-interest groups is something that is simply abhorrent to the vast majority of hardworking people in the province of Ontario.

I'd also like to take a moment to point out some news that we learned in the deliberations of the committee with respect to the Ministry of Community and Social Services, something we were very concerned about. In reviewing the estimates, as each member does before the committee meets, you could go through and find large discrepancies, sometimes double-digit discrepancies, between what was budgeted and what was spent, what was estimated to be spent and then what in fact was spent.

There was one remarkable discovery that members of the committee made in the course of our deliberations on the estimates. Now, it would have been helpful had this House debated these estimates last year when these estimates were first drafted, but they didn't. They were being debated some 10 or 11 months too late, which I think is something unfortunate. I think the most basic tenet of democracy is the 1:30 to 3 o'clock window where members of the cabinet are accountable to the citizens of Ontario, where the estimates could have been tabled in this House and referred to the appropriate committee. It's remarkable that the House didn't sit for a spring session last year, not even for the month and a half preceding the call of the election.


I think the public was denied what we would call accountability on this side of the House, and that's very regrettable. In fact, in the last year they sat only a few weeks, which is simply not --

Mr Bradley: Twenty days.

Mr Baird: Twenty days, my colleague the member for St Catharines says. That simply is inappropriate. It speaks volumes to the degree of accountability that the previous government sought.

In the 1995-96 estimates of the Ministry of Community and Social Services, the government of the day, my colleagues in the third party, said that a program was in existence that would find $611 million in savings from the Ministry of Community and Social Services -- $611 million would be saved. When my colleague the member for Nickel Belt presented his budget forecasts last year, this $611 million was a budgeted saving, that they brought down the deficit by $611 million.

In the estimates committee we noticed that this $611 million hadn't been saved. When you go through the books -- we saw some 11.3% discrepancy on that vote which we were all very concerned about, so we went to the estimates committee and we had the good fortune to have the minister spend a number of days with us to question him about that. Of course, this minister was there to answer questions on behalf of the previous government, so these figures weren't his. When we asked the minister why this program -- this program designed for saving $611 million, this program which got the deficit down $611 million conveniently, just a week before the election was called -- why this program saving hadn't been realized, we found out that the program was never implemented. We found out that the program they said existed never was implemented.

We were all very surprised, and it's no wonder that the deficit went up by such an incredible margin between the day of the calling of the election and the Minister of Finance's financial statement of July 21, 1995; it's no wonder there was a huge discrepancy. Here's $611 million we found out about. Not even my colleague the member for Lake Nipigon could get away with that type of disappearance of saving plan.

We asked the minister, could he and his officials table the spending reduction program, their plan to save $611 million, with the committee. To our great horror, when we requested such from a ministry official, a senior official at the ministry was able to report that the previous government, my friends opposite, had no plans to realize the $611 million in savings. There simply weren't plans.

Is it any wonder that governments in this province brought in deficits over the last number of years of as high as $10 billion, and that we have a $100-billion deficit in this province, when $611 million just simply disappears in the estimates book, and that the government of the day would not call back the provincial Legislature for a spring session last year before the election was called so that these accounts and these estimates could be tabled with this Legislature, so they could have public review and scrutiny at the most relevant time, before the money had even begun to flow? I think it's a real disgrace that that never happened. In going on, we found that this $611 million simply hadn't occurred.

I wonder over the last 10 and, to be fair, even 15 years, how many decisions like this were simply made: "We'll just say let the next generation pick up the bill. We'll just put a $611-million accounting trick into the books and we'll let the next generation pay. We'll let the young people of this province take out a mortgage on their future and they'll pay the bill, because we simply don't have the courage of our convictions to stand up, to make the tough decisions," the tough decisions that the people of Ontario sent each and every member of this Legislature to address, and that's a great concern to us all.

I also would take note in this discussion of the report of the Provincial Auditor. He said in his report, "I'm pleased to note that the new government has taken action on many of our recommendations." The Provincial Auditor, a neutral third party of this House, is someone who has served admirably and well in the last number of years, someone who in the dark days of the previous government was the best friend the taxpayers of this province ever had, by the way.

He goes on to state that the government is finally accepting the advice by him and his officials at the Office of the Provincial Auditor that the government shouldn't keep two books. That's something that we on this side of the House in successive caucuses have spoken about for many years. I think that's something very important to note.

Having said that, I think the endorsement of the Provincial Auditor that this government is addressing and taking action on many of the recommendations that he has made in subsequent years is good news for the finances of the province of Ontario. That, coupled with addressing the real spending concerns in this province, I believe will create an environment that will encourage job creation, encourage investment, will encourage consumer confidence.

My colleagues opposite in the Liberal Party presented a plan during the election campaign with billions of dollars in tax cuts. They don't talk about that now. They were going to cut billions of dollars in taxes and balance the budget in four years. My colleagues in the third party had a plan to balance the budget in three years. We know we're already $611 million off just from the estimates in this one ministry. We find out that they wouldn't have made those savings and delivered Ontario with a balanced budget in three years.

What we on this side of the House said is that waiting an extra year, balancing the budget in five years, was worth the issue of addressing job creation and the urgent need for employment in this province. When I went door to door, and I know my colleagues from all sides of the House would have got this, the number one issue of the people of Ontario was job creation, spurring economic growth, and we put forward a concrete plan to deal with that.

Having said that, it meant we would have to balance the budget one year later, but we simply couldn't look at the people of Ontario and say to the unemployed, to those working families struggling to bring up a family in a high-tax environment, "No, you'll have to wait for five years; you'll have to wait until the fifth year before we address the problem of unemployment and job creation."

The people of Ontario told us that job creation, economic growth, creating an Ontario that encourages investment and job creation is key, that it should be the top priority of the provincial government. We have taken some actions to get government spending under control and when we do that and bring in lower deficits and eventually, in five years, a balanced budget -- that's already had a tremendous effect. We learned from my colleague the minister of industry and trade today that there were 33,000 jobs created in February, the highest job creation for any February since 1981, that better economic times are already beginning to be fostered.

We also know from the statistics released by the federal government that 33,000 of the 44,000 jobs created in this country were created here in Ontario because of the climate that this government is setting, the climate that this government is encouraging for job creation, and I think that's good news for the people of Ontario. For my colleagues opposite who say to tell the unemployed to wait, that they should wait for an extra year, they should wait until year five of this government's mandate for job creation and major government initiatives to deal with job creation, it is simply too much.

We learned from the experience in other jurisdictions; we learned from the federal experience, the federal Liberals. We learned they would borrow $6 billion and spend it on infrastructure. What did infrastructure mean? We found out what infrastructure meant after the election.

Mr Chiarelli: Highway 416.

Mr Baird: My friend the member for Ottawa West talks about infrastructure and Highway 416. The money that the federal Liberals put up for Highway 416 did not come from the infrastructure program. They had to find the money elsewhere because they had --

Mr Chiarelli: What did they spend in Nepean?

Mr Baird: Do you know what they had spent it on?

The Acting Speaker (Ms Marilyn Churley): The member for Ottawa West.

Mr Baird: The federal Liberals had spent the $6 billion infrastructure program on a golf course in one constituency. They had spent it on a museum celebrating the industrial heritage of Shawinigan. I wondered, where was Shawinigan? It's in the constituency of the Prime Minister. They're building a museum to celebrate the industrial history of Shawinigan when, regrettably, there's no job creation program to give it industry today. That's just simply outrageous.

Mr Bruce Crozier (Essex South): Is that like the millions of dollars spent on Mulroney's old riding?

Mr John Gerretsen (Kingston and The Islands): So's Mulroney.

The Acting Speaker: Order, please, the member for Kingston and The Islands.

Mr Baird: My colleague the member for Essex South is comparing the actions taken by Mr Chrétien to the previous Prime Minister, Brian Mulroney. I'm sure his colleagues in Ottawa would be abhorred to learn that members of the Liberal caucus are comparing Mr Chrétien's actions to Brian Mulroney's.

I go on to point to examples where the federal Liberals' job creation strategy included bringing cable television into a rural community. I don't think when the people of Canada voted for a federal Liberal government, their idea of job creation was to say, "Listen, you're going to have work harder and longer, and we'll take tax dollars" -- and the federal Liberals have of course increased tax rates in this country. They increased taxes, and they take that money and they spend it on cable television for some communities. They spent it on a canoe museum in one constituency. That was a good one. They spent it on I think a curling rink in the north end of Toronto, or some sort of recreational sports facility --

Mr Doug Galt (Northumberland): Bocce ball.

Mr Baird: My colleague from Northumberland says it's bocce ball.

I don't think the job creation programs announced by the federal Liberals are what worked. Clearly, we've had them in power for some two or three years, and the job creation numbers that they promised just simply haven't arisen.


What we say is cut taxes to create jobs; cut regulation to create jobs; spend appropriately, which deals directly with this estimates process, to create jobs. When we cut government spending, interest rates have already fallen some 2%, and that makes mortgages, consumer loans and car loans, loans for small business to start up and create jobs, more affordable for the people of Ontario. That's what the people of Ontario elected a government for: to take real action to create jobs and an environment that will encourage job creation.

Mr Gerry Phillips (Scarborough-Agincourt): I'm pleased to join the debate on the estimates. I'll start off commenting on the accountability that the member mentioned. The public may not be aware, but for the first time in the history of the province, the first time ever, we have a government that has not presented a budget. We will have gone a full year with no budget. The government, for the first time in history, refused to present a budget. The members may say, "Well, we just got elected in June." There have been lots of governments elected in June who then moved to present a budget.

Mr Bradley: Why wouldn't they present one?

Mr Phillips: My colleague says, "Why wouldn't they present it?" In my opinion, because you did not want to reveal to the people of Ontario your fiscal plan.

I comment on this because the member just talked about accountability. Frankly, if I were in the back bench of the Conservative Party, I would not have let them get away with it. They may have said: "Well, we just want to do this because we're a little bit disorganized right now. We don't have time to prepare a budget." But I find it objectionable, really objectionable, that for the first time in the history of this province of Ontario since Confederation, we did not have a budget. We did not have an opportunity for this Legislature to debate the budget. The government wasn't required to lay out for the people of Ontario their fiscal plan. So what we've dealt with is what's called warrants, where the government has gone to the Lieutenant Governor and said, "Please give us the money to operate," and we're dealing now with estimates, but no budget. I simply find that unacceptable.

But I wanted to touch a little bit on some of the issues that have been raised around the impact on jobs. I think the first thing that the people of Ontario should recognize is that -- this is the government's document. They prepared a fiscal statement: instead of a budget, a fiscal statement. No opportunity for debate on a budget but simply a fiscal statement.

But one of the very interesting pages in here, Madam Speaker, outlines the job situation for the province of Ontario. Would you think, would anybody believe, that a government that says it has a program for seeing job creation, that "We have an idea of how we're going to see jobs created in the province of Ontario," the government itself predicts that there will be more people out of work in Ontario in 1996 than there were in 1995. And then the government predicts that in 1997 the number of people out of work will be higher than it is in 1996. So two a half years -- 1997 is two and a half years into this government's mandate -- we find by their own admission that there are more people out of work in 1997 than there were in 1995.

I find that frankly a disgrace, that the government is accepting, planning, that there will be more people out of work in 1997 in the province of Ontario than there were in 1995. I don't know whether you find that acceptable --

Mr Baird: Thirty-three thousand jobs. Come on.

Mr Phillips: The member is saying 33,000 jobs. The Premier today acknowledged that you will not see jobs created in Ontario fast enough to absorb the people entering the job market. There are going to be more people out of work in 1996 than there were in 1995. That's not me and the opposition speaking. Get this document, which you all have, and look at it.

I would also say that there is a provincial disgrace around youth unemployment. Frankly, I don't pretend to blame the Conservatives for this. Frankly, I find it unusual you are taking credit right now because if I were you, I would say, "We're just beginning to implement our plan," but you're trying to take credit for the job creation that might have occurred in February. The youth unemployment in the province of Ontario is between 25% and 30%. That is a disgrace that none of us should live with, when our young people between the ages of 15 and 24 have unemployment rates I think very close to 30%. The reported rate is lower than that because a huge number of them have simply dropped out. I truly don't blame the Conservatives at this stage for it, but it is a problem that all of us are going to have to tackle, and tackle with vigour.

Frankly, I believe you are a government that is fixated on cutting expenditures. This is your mission right now: cut expenditures. Your second mission is to cut taxes. I will just say to you that in my opinion neither of those things are going to begin to tackle the provincial disgrace of youth unemployment. I raise all of this because we are facing it right now. Summer's coming up and our young people are going to be even more frustrated.

Your program calls now for tuition increases, as you know, a 15% tuition increase for colleges, 20% for universities, and we're now finding in certain programs -- dentistry and I gather medicine -- huge increases. I might say personally I worry about that. If your access to a profession like medicine, or dentistry, or pharmacy is going to depend on the size of your wallet, we have a problem in this province. I'm just saying that I guarantee you that this is a major problem that none of the estimates we're dealing with begins to address. I've heard virtually no talk from the government about it. The talk is all around cut, cut, cut. We are sowing the seeds, in my opinion, of a very significant problem if we don't begin to deal with and understand the size of the problem with our young people.

I wanted to touch a little bit on the job area around the OPSEU strike, because it is impacting on this year's fiscal statement. I think it's undeniable -- when you ran you did say, "We are going to cut the level of the public service back to 1985 levels." I can remember the language was "the bloated bureaucracy back to the 1985 levels." I think even in the document -- yes, "The provincial bureaucracy has grown by leaps and bounds over the past 10 years."

We heard today that it hasn't grown by leaps and bounds over the past 10 years. In fact, the government acknowledged that the size of the public service right now is exactly what it was in 1985. So when you ran -- I know you ran on this, "We are going to trim the bloated bureaucracy" -- you either didn't know the numbers when you made the commitment that you're going to reduce it to the 1985 levels, or you misled the public. Frankly, I have a document that was given to your government -- it will take me a moment to find it here, but it was given to your government in February 1994. This is it here, sent to Mr Johnson. Actually, February 6, 1995, I'm sorry, after you published the Common Sense Revolution. It shows that the public sector in 1985 is the same as it is in 1995.

The reason I raise this is because OPSEU right now is at the table attempting to reach an agreement with the government. I realize the public is divided on the issue, they don't know which side to support, but it is absolutely clear that the government not only plans to get back to the 1985 levels, but it has told us and told the public you are going to cut the payroll of the government by one third. We had a little debate in the Legislature earlier today, but it is absolutely clear that it is the government's intention to reduce the size of the payroll by one third. It was presented in this document here, you're going to cut one third of the payroll, and in this document you say you're going to cut one third of the payroll.


The reason I raise this is that you can imagine, if you're OPSEU -- firstly, here's the situation they face: a five-year agreement, I gather, with no increase in remuneration for the individuals in it for five years. You have, in my opinion, stolen $300 million from their pension. The only way you could do that was through Bill 26, the omnibus bill, where you took $300 million of entitlements out of their pension.

You have said you're going to return to the 1985 levels of staffing when you're already at 1985 levels. Then in my opinion you have said publicly you are going to cut one third of the payroll. So you can imagine the fear that OPSEU and its negotiators are faced with. Here they are facing a government that is determined for a drastic cutback in the number of positions, far beyond what you ever said in the campaign. In the campaign you said you were going back to 1985 levels. It now is clear you are going probably a third below the 1985 levels.

The members here may wonder, why has it been so difficult for us to reach an agreement with OPSEU? Why aren't they reasonable? Well, the fact of the matter is, OPSEU is faced with an enormously difficult position. The government's fiscal plan and financial plan are going to be exceedingly disruptive to OPSEU.

I frankly don't think the government's been forthcoming. Today we asked in the Legislature, what are your plans for staffing? What does it mean when you say you're going to cut a third of the payroll? Surely it means that you're going to cut a third of the positions.

We heard earlier today in the Legislature the government saying, "The opposition is scaremongering about cutbacks and things like that." We're not scaremongering. We are using your own statistics. We are using the numbers that you published. In my opinion, you have said you are going to cut the civil service by a third. If that's wrong, if for some reason or other the numbers you have given us are incorrect or we are misinterpreting them in some way, I think you owe it to the public to lay that out.

The next thing I'd like to talk a little bit about is the commitments you made in the campaign. I think you got an awful lot of support because you made three promises around programs. Certainly in my constituency you got a lot of support because you made these three promises, and you may remember them. It was around the whole issue of health care, classroom education and law enforcement. It was very comforting to people when you said, and here are the words you used, "The plan guarantees full funding for health care, law enforcement and education spending in the classroom." You go on in another place: "Total spending will be reduced by 20% in three years without touching a penny of health care funding. Other priorities of law enforcement and classroom funding for education will also be exempt."

That, certainly in my constituency, was something that got you a lot of support. They said, "Well, this is great. They're not going to touch health care, they're not going to touch the classroom and they're not going to touch law enforcement." Well, already this year and certainly in a very major way next year, you are touching it. You are cutting right into the health budget in a very major way. It's going to present some significant problems for you, because it was 100% clear that you were going to freeze the health care budget at the level of when the campaign started and hold that level.

I know the cabinet's trying to persuade the caucus to buy the idea, "Well, we are going to cut for about four years and we'll restore it at the end." But here's the problem: You are cutting hospital funding by 18%. I think many of us have probably at one time or another been on hospital boards in our communities. As the minister knows, I've been chairman of a hospital in my community and I know how difficult it is to manage change in the health care sector. But you have said to the hospitals, "Not only must you restructure, but at the same time as you are restructuring, we're going to cut 18% of your funding." In my opinion, that is going to cause chaos in the health care sector as they try and manage to restructure.

Believe me, hospitals are trying to work together. In my community of Scarborough, the three acute care hospitals are working very cooperatively together. But as they find incredible cuts to their budgets, they find it extremely difficult to work their way through the problems. So I will assure you that people will not allow you to wiggle off the commitment you made that you would not touch health care.

I would also say that for a lot of people in my community, when you said you would not put user fees on drugs, they believed you. If you read your promise carefully, which I hope all of you now have read, it was very explicit and it talked in detail about user fees and copayments. You said very clearly to people, "We are not going to put new user fees or new copayments on." Here are the words from your Common Sense Revolution:

"For some time now, there has been growing debate over the most effective way to ensure more responsible use of our universal health care system. In the last decade, user fees and copayments have kept rising and many health care services have been `delisted' and are no longer covered by OHIP."

You went on to say: "We looked at those kinds of options, but decided the most effective and fair method was to give the public and health professionals alike a true and full accounting of the costs of health care, and ask individuals to pay a fair share of these costs, based on income. We believe the new fair share health care levy, based on the ability to pay, meets the test of fairness and the requirements of the Canada Health Act while protecting the fundamental integrity of our health care system.

"Under this plan, there will be no new user fees."

Now you've changed your mind. You've said, "Well, every other province has user fees and so we're going to put them in, so there it is." But the public are astute and understanding, and they realize that you made this very specific promise -- it certainly was very effective in my community -- and now you've broken that. One of the things that you say you're going to do is to keep your promises. You've broken your health care promise.

The second one is classroom spending. There is no doubt that the promise on protection of classroom funding has been broken, and you've only just begun. Just so we all know the numbers, the figures, you have said you're going to cut roughly 25% of provincial funding for elementary and secondary schools. You have cut, you've said, $400 million, $233 million of it in operating, and you're going to cut a total of $1 billion from the operating budget. But even as you've just begun, the cuts are already taking place in the classroom. Junior kindergarten in many communities is a thing of the past. Programs for adults -- all of us, I think, believe in lifelong learning, and that has been cut. And we've only just begun.

The third area promised was that you would not touch law enforcement. I don't think there's a community in Ontario that has not found that their police organization budgets have been cut and they are making do with fewer and fewer officers. I don't think there's a single community in the province. I would just add to that that one thing I think particularly the back bench is going to want to watch is, we talked about the change in the public service over a 10-year period. Where in 1985 there were 81,000 public servants, today there are 81,000 public servants. So we are back to the 1985 level.

But within that, it's interesting to note that there has been significant growth in one part of the provincial public service, and that is law enforcement, the area that the Conservative Party promised to protect. The law enforcement component over that 10-year period has increased by 5,000 -- staffing has gone up by 5,000. This is our jails, our policing, and our courts. The rest of the civil service has gone down by 5,000 -- Health, Education, Comsoc, and all others. So as you and the government and your cabinet are at the negotiating table and planning a cutback to a level at least 13,000 lower than 1985, and probably more like 27,000 more, you are going to want to be able to answer the question: "How much have we cut back law enforcement? Because we said we'd never touch that. We said we would guarantee it."


Mr Crozier: A solemn commitment.

Mr Phillips: "A solemn commitment," my colleague says.

So we find, as we're now I guess eight months into the revolution, the dreaded revolution, that some things are beginning to unravel. The revolution is beginning to bog down. Firstly, on the job front, I find it incredible that the government itself is planning more people out of work in 1997, two and a half years into the revolution, than when you came into office. Why is that? Why in the world could that be happening? Because that's what you're planning on. So on your job commitment -- and believe me, we in our caucus will hold you accountable for this 725,000 -- you are not anywhere near on track to hitting those numbers.

On your big promise on the program area, the three things I think you gave a solemn promise on -- "We will not touch health care, we will not touch classroom spending and we will not touch law enforcement" -- you already have broken those promises and you are breaking them in an increasingly significant way.

Why is all of this happening? It's happening to fund the tax cut and I would just say that we've heard many different estimates on the cost of the tax cut. You yourself, when you ran, were very clear on what the tax cut would cost. You said that the tax cut -- these are your numbers -- in the first year, the one that starts in just a few weeks, April 1, would cost $2.2 billion, then $3.4 billion, $4.7 billion, $4.8 billion, going up to $5 billion a year. Now, you may be interested -- and I would hope all of the members of the Legislature get this document -- this was tabled today in the Legislature. It's called an 18-K. It is a document that the government files in the US. It had a couple of interesting things in it that were never divulged here but were divulged in the 18-K.

Mr Crozier: To your US friends.

Mr Phillips: "To your US friends," as my colleague says. One is very significant -- well, they're both very significant, but the one highlights that you are planning a very significant severance payment in the fiscal year 1995-96. On all of the documents here in Ontario you never mention that. You never mention in the fiscal statements that you are planning significant severance costs, but in this document, which is filed in the US, it mentions the severance costs and you say that once these charges are taken into account they will be added to the deficit, the $9.3-billion deficit. It is absolutely clear from this document -- you never mentioned anywhere publicly in Ontario that you're planning significant severance costs, but in a document filed in the US you do acknowledge, as I say, significant severance costs.

The other thing you do acknowledge is the cost of the tax break. Some of the public may be aware that we attempted to get from the government the cost of the tax break. We had the Minister of Finance to a finance committee and we said: "What is this tax cut going to cost? What did your officials say it would cost?" The minister said, "I never asked my officials to prepare an estimate." It was the most incredible statement I've heard, because this is the big financial decision the government's going to make.

I would have thought that five minutes after being appointed Minister of Finance, the minister would have said to the officials: "Listen, we've made this promise we're going to reduce taxes by 20 points. What's the cost?" But he said in committee, as you all know, "I've never asked them for an estimate of the cost of it." He didn't know. Is that really any way to run this operation? Do any of you think that's a way to run the operation, where you haven't even asked, after eight months, the financial officials to give you an estimate of your key campaign commitment?

It is obvious they could have done it, because in this document the government says that a single percentage increase in Ontario's tax rate is estimated to yield approximately $272 million. What that says is that if you proceed with your tax cut, the reduction of 20 percentage points, from 58% of the federal to 38%, the cost is $5.4 billion. It's very clear.

By the way, the minister I think at the same meeting said: "Well, our tax commitment wasn't all that clear. It was around 30%. We're not sure exactly what it will be." I would just say that will come as quite a surprise to a lot of people because many of them still carry around the Common Sense Revolution, as I do, and your promise was extremely explicit. You couldn't have been clearer. In fact, you got the tax cut down to the nearest dollar. If you're making $75,000 a year, your annual saving is $2,922 -- not $2,921 or $2,923, but $2,922.

Mr Crozier: Including the fair tax levy.

Mr Phillips: Including the fair tax levy, my colleague mentions that.

First, why are we going through the depth of pain for the cuts? It is because you have had to find at least $2 billion more money in cuts than you had planned. We are in this province going to cut expenditures by $8 billion, and more than half of that -- $5.5 billion of that $8-billion cut -- goes right out in the form of a tax break.

My point is this. I realize many people out there are probably saying, "I can hardly wait for my tax cut," and I understand that. That's who you're counting on, people to cheer you on in it. But if this deficit is such a huge problem, if all of us in this Legislature believe we have the fight of our lives, to fight the deficit -- and it is a significant problem -- how can it be that we can afford a $5.5-billion tax cut, that more than half of all of those expenditure cuts go right back out the door in a tax break? You can imagine how many people out there who are being faced with significant cutbacks and living with them are asking the question, "Wait a minute, if this thing is such a huge problem, how can we possibly afford this tax break?"

I will add another thing. Every penny of this tax break is borrowed money. It isn't as if we're running a surplus in this province. The province over the next five years will provide a total of $20 billion in a tax break, and every penny of that is borrowed money.

Mr Crozier: How much will that cost?

Mr Phillips: The cumulative interest on that will be $5 billion. So I say to many of my friends in the business community, I know that you and many of your friends might very well -- we all would love a tax break, but does it make fiscal sense that we are able to give a $5.5-billion tax break -- all of that money has to be borrowed -- when we have such an incredible problem in dealing with our deficit?

Mr Marcel Beaubien (Lambton): Yes, but you had an opportunity 10 years ago, Gerry. That's the problem.


Mr Phillips: I'm going to be running out of time, but someone barked over there about if we'd dealt with it. Let me just say, do yourselves a favour. I know you think -- I was going to say Mike -- Mr Harris and the gang ran things well: 1969 was the last year a Conservative government balanced the budget. Get out the 1984 budget and you will see deficits, huge deficits, consistent deficits, running $2.5 billion your last five years. The last five years of Conservative government, you ran deficits of $2.7 billion a year.

My point is this: Don't assume that the Premier and his colleague there know how to run the finances. The last time they had their hand on the till, the deficit was $2.7 billion. The unemployment rate was well over 9%, and the last time a Conservative -- this was Mr MacNaughton, 1969. You people will have gone, the Conservatives will have gone 20 years without ever having balanced the budget. So I'm just saying to you, don't assume that they know what they're doing, the cabinet. Don't assume that.

Mr Crozier: When was the last balanced budget?

Mr Phillips: My colleague says, "When was the last balanced budget?" The Provincial Auditor checked it all out and he said there's been only one balanced budget in 25 years in the province of Ontario, the year 1989-90. Your own fiscal document, by the way, confirms that.

The Acting Speaker: The member's time is up. Thank you very much for your speech. Further comments?

Mr Tony Martin (Sault Ste Marie): I also appreciate the opportunity to rise today and speak on this concurrence motion re the tabling of the report from the standing committee on estimates. I spent the last month and a half to two months around this place sitting and listening and participating in the discussion that ensues from the tabling of those documents and the questions raised and the concerns raised, and I have to tell you that it was, for me, quite a learning experience.

The most obvious feeling coming out of that experience was that in fact this government doesn't really have a plan, or if it does, it's not being shared readily with the people of this province, because it doesn't fit those things that are needed that would be in the best interest of the people who live and work in communities like Sault Ste Marie, Thunder Bay, Kingston, Windsor.

I think it's important, before I speak directly about some of what became obvious as we went through those hearings, the context, or some of the context, within which we discussed estimates this year the month of February and some of March in this province. The premise of all of the plans of the government that we have in front of us in Ontario today is that somehow the economy is in crisis and that we need to be doing some things to correct that, to, as they say, bring back a sense of economic health to the business sector in Ontario.

That, from all the reports that we're hearing, is just not the truth. This province was actually in fact on good footing when our government went to the polls in June 1995 and has taken a considerable downturn since then because of some of the things that this government is both doing and saying it's going to do, which is having a very negative impact, or, as they say, a negative drag, on the economy of communities out there, particularly where it concerns the smaller business sector.

But for somebody to for a second purport that the economy of Ontario was not doing well or that we were not attracting investment to this province in the years 1993, 1994 and 1995 is just not supported by the reports and the facts as they come at us. As a matter of fact, in 1994 we saw in this province record investment, historically record high investment, and we were creating jobs.

Any of you who spent any time in your community, particularly after the Christmas of 1994, which is traditionally the busiest time for the retail sector, which oftentimes indicates to us in communities just how the economy is doing -- if you were walking around the malls and the streets of your community after the Christmas of 1994, you had to have felt, as I did, the buoyancy that was out there, the sense of good feeling that was in people, the willingness to spend, the reports that the small business sector was making re the kind of spending that went on during that Christmas period and the plans it was making for expansion and the hiring of new employees, and the comfortableness that working people in Ontario were feeling at that particular point in time.

I have to tell you, as I walk around my community now, the mood is completely different. There isn't that confidence any more that consumers need re the long-term prospects re their jobs and the economic stability of the family unit to which they belong. So where we were experiencing a growth and things were going well and corporations -- particularly the smaller business sector -- were beginning to experience some positive results, we are now finding that this has in fact turned around and what we have are large corporations, because of the downsizing that they're doing and the restructuring that they're doing, declaring record profits while at the same time the small business sector is struggling to keep its head above water.

So where it used to be we had business making profit and doing well at some periods in our history and the workers being targeted for lower wages or losing their jobs, we now begin to see that the small business sector is being lumped in with the workers and where corporations such as Barrick Gold, which in 1995 dug up a 10th straight year of record profits, and GM in 1995 declaring a record profit of $1.39 billion and Scotiabank making $876 million and defending its record earnings while most of these organizations are cutting staff and employees. We move over to a company like Brascan that has a lot of interest in our province. There are a couple of them in my own community; Great Lakes Power is owned by Brascan. In 1995, they made a record profit of $312 million, the best in their 96-year history.

To suggest for a minute that there's something wrong with the economy re big business interest in Ontario and its willingness to invest and to generate wealth in just their jurisdiction is wrong. I don't want people to get me wrong. I don't have any difficulty with profit and people making profit and the generation of wealth. I think it plays a very important part in the health of a community and certainly it's something that we in Ontario hope that we're able to continue. It's the question of how that wealth gets distributed that concerns me. It's the question of how we as a government participate in the discussion around how that wealth gets distributed that concerns me. It became obvious as we went through the exercise of looking at the estimates of the government and questioning the ministers who sat before us during those very valuable days of question and answer and back and forth.

I had the privilege of sitting and having some discussion with at least four of the ministers of this government, four ministers who carry some very important portfolios where it concerns the health and social wellbeing of the people of Ontario. The first minister was the Minister of Education and Training. Then we had before us the Minister of Community and Social Services, followed by the Minister of Housing and then the Minister of Health.


I guess if there was a common thread that went through the discussion that we had with all four of those folks as they came before us, it was that where it concerned their ministries there seemed to be no plan. It was government by the seat of your pants. It was a commitment to cutting and slashing and reducing and getting government out of the life of people in the province at any cost. It was a "take no prisoners" approach where it concerned the livelihood or the wellbeing or the health of those who are most vulnerable in our communities -- the handicapped, women and children.

Whenever we asked a question that was specific or focused or pointed, I felt we always got back -- as we heard today in question period here in the House -- a very haughty, arrogant set of clichés, pious platitudes and a mantra that became increasingly grating on the ears. In fact, it was interesting, when we first started off, that whenever a minister was asked a specifically difficult question where it reflected on a particular organization in a community being able to continue to provide the very valuable services that it did, we got into the mantra and the clichés and the platitudes. Initially the ministers were reading those out to us; eventually they learned them by rote and were able to repeat them without having to look at the paper.

I think that's what you'll find with this government, particularly probably in the first two or three years anyway, that as it goes through this very harmful exercise of cutting and slashing, we will in fact begin to learn those platitudes and mantras and clichés by rote as well and will be able to give them back to you before you give them to us.

That's really unfortunate because this province was, as I stated before, on good footing going into the middle of 1995. The large corporations were making profits. We had record investment in the province. People were working and were feeling confident that the work that they had would continue for some time, and so they were spending and consumer confidence was up. That all lends itself to a sense of stability and health in the economy, which then flows over into a sense of stability and confidence that the programs that we all need from time to time as we experience difficulty or bad health or whatever will be there and will be able to provide us with the wherewithal to keep ourselves, to keep body and soul together, to put food on the table for our children, and to be able to contribute in the economy in the way that we all want to contribute.

We as a government in the early 1990s struggled with the recession that came at us. That was very, very difficult and very deep, and we did some things in order to adjust to the reality that we faced. We made a decision that it was important, on one hand, to be investing in programs and infrastructure and education systems and health care, which was a long-term view of what we as a government needed to do to make sure that we were going to be in good shape as we moved into the next century and as we developed a province that would be supportive of a future for our children. On the other hand, we were very concerned about our operating. We wanted to make sure that from one year to the next we had enough money in the kitty to make sure that we were able to pay for those very direct services that people needed to have when they needed to have them.

So we divvied up in two the way that we looked at the finances in the province. We had investment, long-term investment, that we felt that we could go to the bank for. We actually created some new institutions, three corporations that were given the facility to act in partnership with the private sector out there. There was the clean water agency that we established, there was the realty corporation that was established and there was also a transportation corporation that we put in place to help us with the very important infrastructure that represents for this province.

That was beginning to unfold in a very positive and constructive light. Things were happening. People were working. We were building highways. We were building subways. In northern Ontario, even though always dissatisfied that we were not doing enough in the area of repairing and improving the highways and building new highways and four-laning some of the highways, we were making some significant progress, particularly where it concerned, for example, Highway 69.

Anybody from northern Ontario will tell you that Highway 69 is an important piece of infrastructure, it's an important avenue for us as we come from the north, whether it's with our goods for market or whether we come to spend money down here or to participate in the economy of southern Ontario. Whether we come down here for health reasons or social reasons, a lot of us get funnelled through Highway 69.

Slowly but surely, governments, up until this year, were continuing to improve that highway and move the four-laning of it up. I drive that highway quite a bit and I know myself, and in talking to other people, that as we get closer and closer to Parry Sound, we begin to think about the fact that soon we'll be on the four lanes. That was always something to look forward to.

This government, in its wisdom, as part of its new approach to stimulating the economy of this province, has decided to put a stop to any further development of the four-laning of Highway 69 and so has effectively cut off any further progress re our ability to get our goods to market, to southern Ontario, and our ability actually to feel safe as we travel back and forth between the area of Metro Toronto and the communities that we all live and work in in northern Ontario.

That highway is very, very dangerous and we lose a lot of lives on it every year. Certainly in that area that has been improved by way of four lanes, the number of accidents and the number of people we lose are minimized. We were all looking forward to that, but that now is gone, because the new approach this government is taking and that we talked about in the estimates exercise we went through is to cut and to not worry about the impact that has on everything else that is so intimately interconnected as we look at the way this province does its business, carries out its work, provides health care and social services to people and tries to provide for a decent standard of living for all of us who have chosen one way or another to come, to live, to work and to participate in the everyday life of the communities we live in in the province of Ontario.

Where we had a plan that was reflected in the estimates that were tabled -- because those estimates were after all estimates based on the work we were doing as government -- that plan is now out the window. We don't know what the plan is any more. We hear little titbits from time to time. There was a report tabled in the States where we're told that, for example, in the Common Sense Revolution, we were going to balance the budget in two years. Then in the initial statement out from the government, we were going to do it in four years. Now we find we're not going to do it until the next century, and it's questionable whether that in fact is going to happen because the figures that are starting to come out that were actually presented by Mr Phillips, the speaker before me, are indicating that we're expecting the deficit for this year will be higher than what was projected in the statement of November 1995. With that in mind, as these numbers change from one month to the next, as this government comes to terms with the fact that its figures were wrong, that we were right during the election that the numbers didn't add up, we don't know where they're going to wind up or what condition this province is going to end up in.

I have to tell you frankly that it worries me, because I'm concerned about the people I represent. I'm concerned about their ability to make a living and I'm concerned about the services they need as they go through this transition period, as they deal with the direct effects of this cost-cutting and downsizing that's going on, and try, as I've said before, to keep body and soul together and put food on the table for their children and keep a roof over their head.

As a member of the estimates committee, I sat through most of the presentations that were made by the ministers, and I have to say I was getting a double message there. There were some ministers who I felt had some very sincere concern for the area they had responsibility over, but they seemed to be hamstrung. They seemed to have their hands tied. They at times certainly lent some sympathy to some of the scenarios that we painted and the concerns that we raised, but in the end would not act as an advocate on behalf of those who so much depend on them -- the poor of the province, the women of the province, the disabled of the province -- as the cutbacks they preside over begin to take effect and really hurt them.


This government, when they talk about restructuring services, are actually talking about all the promises they made in their Common Sense Revolution that we find they now are beginning to break in ever-increasing numbers.

They've broken their promise to protect health care funding. They have broken their promise to protect funding to the classrooms of the schools of the province, and without any study or impact analysis have decided to do things that will see, for example, junior kindergarten disappear across this province. They have broken their promise to the disabled and the elderly. They have introduced new user fees for health care. They have broken their promise to children and the most vulnerable citizens of this province. Their spending decisions will result in higher property taxes and new user fees for municipal services. They've broken their promises to the taxpayers of the province.

They have broken these promises in order to pay for the irresponsible tax cut that Mr Harris keeps recommitting his government to implementing with every day that goes by.

Therefore, his ministers, as I've said, have come to this exercise of looking at the estimates of the government with nothing to offer but a whole lot of rhetoric. That's unfortunate, because I'm sure some of them are very intelligent and very committed to the area they've been given responsibility for, but they can't do anything. While the tax cut will benefit the most wealthy, the spending cuts have the biggest impact on women, children, the poor, the disabled, the elderly and the sick. None of these cuts are about balancing the budget; they are about Mike Harris's personal commitment to introduce a 30% tax cut. That's what it's about.

What will this tax cut do? We're told that the tax cut will reinvigorate the economy, that this tax cut will help this government live up to its promise of 725,000 new jobs.

I have to tell you, there was one day when I sat in front of the Minister of Education and Training and I had two students with me from Humber College. They were partway through their second-year social work at that college. Looking at the cuts that are happening to government services these days and projected as life unfolds, they're not sure whether there's going to be a job for them when they finish their program in a year and a half. What they were wanting me to ask the minister was where these 725,000 new jobs that were promised during the election in the Common Sense Revolution would be, so that if they needed to make a decision about changing track or taking further courses regarding their future, they could do it now as opposed to later, when maybe it would be too late.

The minister had no answer. As a matter of fact, he got quite indignant with me and told me that he was personally offended by anybody who would mortgage our present on the backs of the children of the future, not recognizing that what he was doing in trying to give a 30% tax break to his wealthy friends and benefactors was taking away any future that the young people of today might have, because they won't be able to afford the education they need any more and there won't be any jobs out there. There just will not be any jobs out there.

I found it interesting that Mr Phillips again raised by way of reports that he keeps reading and that we keep hearing about that in fact there will be fewer jobs in 1997 than there are in 1995: fewer jobs. That means that they're protecting themselves, that their program will in fact not work. So if there are going to be fewer jobs in 1997 than in 1995 and we're already losing jobs in 1995, I guess the question that needs to be asked is, just where are the 725,000 jobs going to come from and what is this tax break going to do for the people of this province?

It will definitely help people who don't need it, because the people who will get the break are those who already have jobs and are already making money. Whether they'll reinvest it or not in Ontario is questionable as well.

More than half of the tax cut will go to families whose incomes are over $90,000. The median income in Ontario is between $20,000 and $30,000 per year. It is the majority of the people of this province who depend for their daily lives on the services whom this government is destroying.

The Common Sense Revolution makes a commitment to protect health care, classroom education and law enforcement while eliminating the deficit and cutting taxes. However, Mike Harris has broken these promises, and he's hurting thousands of people because his fiscal plan requires even deeper cuts than he was willing to talk about in the election campaign.

While the government refuses to listen, we have heard from many people representing the vulnerable, representing the people who are affected by this government's decision. As is consistently pointed out by these people, the cuts are resulting in increasing numbers of people losing their homes. Increasing numbers of families are in shelters and increasing numbers are going to food banks for help.

As a matter of fact, I don't think that any of us here could have missed the phenomenon this winter of driving up University Avenue and seeing more and more people sleeping on the sidewalks and park benches and grates of this, one of the wealthiest cities in the world. Not only was it individuals this year, it was whole families of people lying on the streets at night and sleeping out in the cold. We were told a week or two ago that we may be on the verge of a TB epidemic in the city as well. If that doesn't concern the government of the day, I really don't know what will. If that doesn't tell them that something is wrong, that their plan, if they have a plan, is not working, then I don't know what will.

All of this has a further negative effect on the economy of lost productivity and increasing dependence on government programs, but as the Tories spout their rhetoric, they refuse to talk about the loss in human capital. They refuse to talk about the real impact of their decisions.

I know the difference between what Mike Harris's minister said at committee and what is really happening because I'm out there listening and talking to the people in my community. As a matter of fact, a study has been done, in September 1995, in the community of the very Premier of the province today which paints a pretty bleak picture about just exactly what the impact of the policies and programs of this government is going to have on that community and on its economy.

It says here in the executive summary, just to encapsulate:

"Governments across this country are basing their economic policies and programs on the assumption that government is too large, and on the additional premise that the path to economic prosperity lies in making deep cuts to government expenditures. This study shows that this strategy may be counterproductive. In fact, it could make things a lot worse than they already are.

"The main reason is that when people are employed, they have money to spend on goods and services. When they do this, they help make the grocery stores, restaurants, car dealers, home builders and other business establishments they patronize successful. Those businesses then have more money to hire employees, pay suppliers and so on. Those employees and suppliers also spend money on goods and services. This puts even more money into the economy, helps create even more jobs and results in economic growth.

"All this, of course, works in reverse when people lose their jobs. The Harris government in Ontario has announced that it is considering substantial reductions in public sector jobs. Using a study by Mr McCracken that was done in 1994, based on the assumption of a potential 5% job cut across the public service and a potential 5% reduction in remaining workers' wages, our analysis has shown the following:

"In total in North Bay, a small community in northern Ontario that's very much self-contained, over 1,000 public and private sector jobs will be lost because of the agenda of this government. Governments would lose $19.2 million in revenues, $10.4 million at the federal level, $7.1 million at the provincial level, and $1.7 million at the municipal level. As a result, municipal programs and services could be at risk."

Therefore, North Bay, its public sector institutions and its citizens already have to cope with the effects of existing government cutbacks and perhaps even future cutbacks even without the cuts postulated for purposes of the study that's here. So communities like North Bay, Sudbury, Sault Ste Marie, Timmins and Thunder Bay are going to be fundamentally changed, are going to be impacted negatively in a way that may cause us who have responsibility for leadership in those communities to ask whether in fact we will be able to survive in the way that we have.

In wrapping up, what I heard during the time that I sat on the estimates committee is that the program of this government, the track that this government is on is actually destroying the province, and I want to say to the members across the way that I feel personally we shouldn't be cutting, that we should in fact rather be investing. There's nothing more important to people who want to invest in a jurisdiction than a well-educated workforce, a good social structure, social services and health care, and a good infrastructure program, and they are being destroyed in the province of Ontario today.


Mr E.J. Douglas Rollins (Quinte): As a junior person on this estimates committee, I find it quite amusing here to think that we should be standing here debating the Common Sense Revolution. I thought we were on estimates. I thought the member from the Liberal Party talked about the Finance minister, and I never thought there was anything along that line, that the Finance minister ever appeared before the committee on estimates. I only missed one afternoon, so maybe he slipped in that afternoon that I wasn't there. I'm not sure.

In my recollection of what I've seen as a member here, during the Minister of Transportation's deliberation to that committee -- we have some roads in this province that are not in the greatest of shape. I don't think they all got that way since the election on June 8. I think some of them were worn out a little bit before that.

I happen to live in the eastern part of Ontario and I know a little bit about 401 east of Shannonville river, where there was a major breakup all winter long. We have a little bit of a problem there, in that the wisdom of other governments have seen fit to put cement down. The cement was put on there some few years ago. I can't tell you exactly when 401 was built, but back in the relatively early 1960s, I believe. They covered that road with asphalt. The asphalt and the cement have started to separate. I'm not an engineer and I'm a long way from one of those kind of people, but I do know that they didn't adhere and it became a very, very dangerous situation. It's something that we as a government are going to have to spend a lot of money on, to put those road structures, the infrastructure, back into shape.

I think that as long as we're prepared to look at those kinds of things -- and I know that the opposition over here says they left things in a great array of -- everything was in fine order, everything was in excellent shape, but they forgot to tell us that they were just another $10 billion in the hole for another year, that $100 billion that we're paying interest on, that $1 million an hour. I'm sure it would build a lot of roads and improve a lot of highways, whether it's in eastern Ontario or northern Ontario or any place else.

I was quite interested to know that the Minister of Transportation was quite encouraged by the people who are in the trucking business that they're going to try to encourage the builders of trucks to do away with those lift axles, because the lift axles are something that allows a lot of these trucks to be way overweight and when they're overweight they are the people who wear out our roads. I think this is one of the things that is going to be a plus for this government, to encourage the industry to do away with that kind of configuration of truck axles.

We also learned that the A trains that some of you people may be familiar with, where they put a couple of tractor-trailers together, this configuration is probably the easiest wear on our roads that we have. I think it's nice to know he has the feeling that those are the kinds of things that as Minister of Transportation he can encourage our people to spend the money wisely on and encourage the truck people to do that kind of development. We also are very interested in the safety of our trucks on the road. I think those are the kinds of dollars that also have to be spent, to make sure those trucks are kept and maintained and that type of thing.

I'm certainly not going to use up all my time talking about the Common Sense Revolution, but I'm going to touch on a couple of other --

Mr Floyd Laughren (Nickel Belt): Don't blame you for that.

Mr Rollins: It's out there and it's all ready to be put out, so it's not hard to figure, Floyd. We're going to do what we're going to do, and we're going to do what we said we'd do, and that's where it is. It's not a hard thing to follow, I'm sure of that.

Mrs Elinor Caplan (Oriole): Not one penny from health care.

Mr Rollins: "Not one penny from health care." I hear that across from the other side.

Mr Gilles Pouliot (Lake Nipigon): A man has to do what a man has to do.

Mr Rollins: I'll tell you what we're going to do with health care. We're not going to deregulate a whole bunch more drugs. We're going to try to put a few more back on, so that's not the easiest way. I believe the last government deregulated a large number of drugs.


The Deputy Speaker: Order.

Mr Laughren: Mr Speaker, he's on steroids.

Mr Rollins: No, I'm not on steroids, but you'll have a little few. Maybe you should use some. It'll help you out.

They talk about an 18% cut in the hospital tax. You, as a government over there, sit there and close down 6,700 beds. You did a nice job of that. But we didn't get rid of one administration. I think we've got to take a look at that as a government. Our Minister of Health told us that he would take a good look at that and try to reduce those administrations to save dollars from the health system so they can be reinvested. Yes, reinvested in dialysis machines, reinvested in heart operations, reinvested back in the people of Ontario. We just can't increase our health budget more and more and more, because unfortunately that $9-billion interest tag keeps sticking its head up every day and we have to pay it. If we didn't have that $9 billion, I think a good chunk of that would solve a lot of our problems.

Mr Chris Stockwell (Etobicoke West): Listen up for a change.

Mr Rollins: Take a little heed of this.

We also started out something with paying our doctors in the outlying areas so that they could stand-by emergencies. I think this is a real step in that direction so that the people of outlying Ontario, where there isn't a lot of coverage -- so some of the doctors are a little more encouraged to go to work. A little place close to our community in Bancroft, we have five doctors back there and they are very happy with that. Some of the emergency rooms in some of our hospitals certainly need to be rebuilt, put back into place, and we cannot do that unless we take some of the dollars out of the health budget and reinvest them. Believe me, those dollars will go back into there to be reinvested to make a better place.

Mr Laughren: I got a policy I want to sell you.

Mr Rollins: I know your insurance policy, Floyd, is different than mine, but I think the thing is, we've got to have --

Mr Pouliot: So is the pension.

Mr Rollins: Yes, I know. His pension is fantastic, you know. It's not even a laughing matter. It's a serious problem, particularly for somebody like me who won't have a pension. It's a disaster. I'm not saying he doesn't deserve the pension. I'm not saying that in any one way, shape or form. Anyway, you should get it, Floyd, for sure.

Mr Stockwell: I think it should be based on height.

Mr Rollins: No, no, you can't do that, because it would be cut down too low. No, they might get on to him.

One of the other places that I want to touch on for a minute is education. I think under the education system we've had to reduce our administration. Now, I know that we, as a government, said that we would not reduce classroom dollars, but we've got to take a look at the dollars that we spend in the province of Ontario when we spend $400 or $500 per student higher than the other areas in this Canada of ours. I think we've got to make sure those dollars are spent more wisely.

We're going to remove grade 13 from the system. It's roughly 20%. It's five years; we're going back down to four years. Certainly there are going to be some teachers cut back. There's certainly going to be some heavier loads put on our younger people to be able to learn in four years what the rest of the country has been able to do.


Mr Pouliot: You and I won't miss it.

Mr Rollins: No, you've learned enough and probably I'll never learn enough, so there's the difference in that problem. There's no problem there, Gilles.

But I think the percentage of our cutdowns with the budgets that we've got to be prepared to spend, the dollars that we're going to have to spend in this government, have got to be looked at very, very closely. We have got to get to a balanced budget. Whether it's in health or wherever it is, we've got to get there, because we cannot continue to let our mortgage grow. Our mortgage has been growing, as well you know, at a pretty alarming rate, and we cannot continue the way we are. Somehow or another, we have got to start and balance the budget, and we've got to balance the budget radically. We don't want to balance it in three or four years like you people. It's nice to have people like Ralph Klein to show us the way to go, because if we'd kept on going the way we were, we'd have been a lot worse off.

Mr Richard Patten (Ottawa Centre): Write it off the budget. Didn't you hear him last week?

Mr Rollins: I know, and it was a very nice thing just to hear on the radio or in the newspapers in the last two or three days that we created some 30,000 jobs in February. Holy jeepers, I don't think anybody thought of that before. My goodness, it was very good.

When you bury your head and you don't want to look any other way, it's terrible. I think the biggest thing that we've got to look at is to make darn sure that we balance the budget, do the things that the Mike Harris Common Sense Revolution said we'd do and make sure that in the year 2000 or 2001, that budget is balanced. The jobs will be there, the investments will be there, and I for one want to be part of that government when that happens.

Mrs Caplan: I rise to participate in the estimates debate. This is a particularly difficult time in the province of Ontario. I think what people are learning is that just because Premier Harris says something, that doesn't make it so, and just as my colleagues from the government caucus are standing to speak, their rhetoric will not and does not make it so. There are many in this province who are beginning to realize --

Mr Stockwell: That you're right --

Mrs Caplan: -- that what the government is saying and what the government is doing are two entirely different things.

The member for Etobicoke, who interjects even though he's not in his seat, might be interested to know that my intention today is to put on the record words that are not mine, because I believe there are many who in fact diminish much of what is said in this House because they don't like politicians, they don't know who they can believe, and notwithstanding the fact that my constituents always say to me, "But you're different, Elinor," today during this debate what I'd like to do, Mr Speaker, is put on the record the words of others. I will quote them and tell you who I am quoting, because I think that it is relevant at this particular time.

Particularly today at the Ontario Legislature we have nothing to smile about. Members of the government's own union, OPSEU, are striking. They have been on strike for some three weeks. We have seen unprecedented violence and anger and frustration on those picket lines, and I think most people in this province are unaware of why the strike is going on, what the issues are, and there has been anxiety that has been fuelled by the rhetoric and the actions of some of the members of the government caucus.

I would like to place on the record an article that was written March 11 on the op ed page of that good old Liberal newspaper, the Globe and Mail. The article is written by H.J. Glasbeek, who is professor emeritus, Osgoode Hall Law School, York University. I think that he fairly puts the issues that are before us in this strike. This is what Professor Glasbeek has to say. The article is entitled, "How the Harris Government Undermines OPSEU."

"The Conservative government of Mike Harris always meant to manoeuvre the Ontario Public Service Employees Union into a strike position. The best Ontarians can hope for is that the government's cruel cynicism will be matched by its ineptness and that working people can come out of the trap laid for them with their dignity and organizations intact.

"To understand how cynical the government has been, it is necessary to ask this question: How is it that OPSEU was in a legal position to strike at all? After all, Ontario's public servants had not had the right to strike until the previous New Democratic Party government gave it to them, as part of a package of labour law reforms that was vehemently denounced at the time by the Tories. The Tories, now in power, claim that even if their own policies are not always well received by the public, they should be given credit for living up to all their promises, in particular those on labour law reform. Despite vigorous opposition, they have already repealed the Employment Equity Act and have started to gut the Pay Equity Act. But -- and in this context it is an extremely large `but' -- they have not done away with the NDP-granted right to strike for public sector workers.

"Are we to believe that the Conservatives overlooked this major NDP reform? Or did the Harris government see a political advantage in leaving the choice about whether to strike with the union and its members? The government had reason to feel confident that it would gain politically whether the members refused a strike recommendation by their leaders or whether they went on strike.

"With the NDP-instituted social contract coming to an end, Ontario had to reach a collective agreement with OPSEU. The government, all the time protesting that it believed in responsible trade unionism and good-faith bargaining, changed the playing field before bargaining was to begin. Before a single negotiating session took place, the government:

"(1) Announced that it was firm about dismissing 13,000 employees and allowed (caused?) rumours to swirl around that the number might rise to 27,000.

"(2) Changed the law to cut out the employees' vested property rights in early pension benefits, obligations that all other Ontario employers will have to continue to meet.

"(3) Changed the law to take away a right that all trade unions have had for a long time in Canada. Trade unions are entitled to retain their democratically won bargaining rights when an employer sells or transfers its businesses or service to another employer. This remains the case for all Ontario employers except the provincial government."

To digress, that's the issue of successor rights. I continue my quote.

"By unilateral action, the Harris government has not only attacked its employees' individual job rights and accrued benefits, but had also set out to undermine the union's viability. Only after it had done all this did it sit down to bargain.

"At the bargaining table, the government is adding insult to injury. It seeks to dilute employees' bumping rights -- the seniority provisions the union had won over time. Further, it demands that from now on, classifications are to be solely managerial decisions. As bargaining over classifications had been of OPSEU's most visible activities on behalf of its members before it got the right to strike, this demand strikes at the heart of its existence."

I digress. For those who are watching, that paragraph by Professor Glasbeek says to me and to others who have read this that these actions constitute union-busting by the Harris government. I continue to quote:

"Having loaded the dice, the government purports to be bargaining in good faith as the law requires it to do. To prove good faith, the employer must show some willingness to do a deal: so the government has offered a little money by way of wage increases. But money cannot be the issue when jobs and the union's life are at stake."


That is why when people see the placards of the strikers outside of buildings that house government offices, many of those placards say, "This is not about money." This strike is not about money.

"The thrust of the government's bargaining strategy should now be manifest: It wants to undermine the union. This fight is not just about cutting the deficit. After all, even if the government had done none of these things, there would have been 12,000 fewer employees by the year 2000 as a result of built-in attrition. None of this costly fighting, public inconvenience and political upheaval was necessary if the only goal was to reduce the size of the public sector's payroll."

I digress again as I say you will note that the 12,000 number as quoted by Professor Glasbeek is identical to the 12,000 number contained in the Liberal policy platform. We recognize that government indeed must get smaller. We recognize that there is a serious debt and deficit problem. But it was not necessary to bust the union, to undermine free collective bargaining, to, as Professor Glasbeek says, load the dice. It was not necessary to do any of this if it had not been for the astounding 30% cut in income tax rates and the promise to begin to do that in the first budget. That is what is driving the government's 33% cut in its own estimates account and that is where the 27,000 number comes from, because when you reduce government's expenditure by 33%, the equivalent number is 27,000.

The Common Sense Revolution talked about 13,000 jobs, and what they said was that the 13,000 jobs were the equivalent of a 15% reduction in government expenditure. The estimates presented by the Treasurer said it would be in excess of 13,000 jobs because it would be not a 15% reduction, as they had advertised in their election propaganda, but in fact would be in excess of 30%. That is the reason that the members of OPSEU and AMAPCEO -- those are the workers of the provincial government -- are feeling betrayed and that's why they're feeling angry.

I continue to quote from Professor Glasbeek:

"The Harris government is taking its cue from its role models, the Thatcher and Reagan governments. Both instigated strikes to bust major trade unions. Both aimed to make trade unions look as if they weren't appropriate in a modern economy, one where employers would have all the bargaining power their wealth gives them vis-à-vis an unorganized labour force. The defeat of a significant trade union stiffens the spine of employers in the private sector.

"In Premier Harris's Ontario there is an additional agenda. The government hopes to reduce the centrality of government, and to give private companies some new avenues for profit as they inherit the right to deliver services people must have. Of course, the abolition of successor rights makes the purchase of government services cheaper."

We have seen many examples of privatization that have done nothing more than reduce and drive down the wages of those people delivering the services. That, it's suggested, is the hidden agenda, the privatization agenda of this government and the union-busting agenda of the government.

"We are taught to think of public service employees as fat, lazy and inefficient. The government feels, therefore, that their employees will not get much public sympathy. Further, as this is a union inexperienced in striking, the government no doubt expected that OPSEU's members would reject a call for a strike, which would have killed the union then and there. To the government's obvious dismay, this did not happen.

"Now the government hopes (because it holds a trump card; it can always use its legislative power to impose an agreement) that many OPSEU members will go back to work and cross picket lines to do so. If this happens, it will also harm the union greatly. The government may even be hoping that there will be some serious accidents or jail riots, and that the public will blame the workers whose lack of willingness to work may be portrayed as the immediate cause of hardship and harm -- rather than the government that has put the workers in a position to do this kind of harm.

"The government seeks, by a carefully orchestrated attack on its own employees, to unravel decades of progress made by all of Ontario's workers. For all of our sakes, and for the sake of democracy, we must hope OPSEU can hang on long enough for the public to be aware of the danger that these draconian government tactics present."

Members of this Legislature have talked about rhetoric, but I would suggest to you that this very thoughtful article by H.J. Glasbeek, who is a professor emeritus at Osgoode Hall Law School, York University, should be sobering thoughts for all members of this Legislature.

I have listened as this debate has gone on and I'm very concerned that as we debate the estimates and have this opportunity to rise in the House to raise issues of concern, the members of the government caucus are not fully aware of just how devastating and serious will be their policies as they relate to their own employees. No strike is good for anyone. It is my hope that this will be solved through collective bargaining at the bargaining table. I do not believe that imposed solutions or solutions that are come to as a result of holding a gun to someone's head will result in the kind of vibrant public sector that will be feeling good about what it does.

I thought Professor Glasbeek said it well, because unfortunately too many people in the public of Ontario do not value the work that is provided to them by the civil service in the province of Ontario. I'm not going to say to you that all is perfect. I have served in government and I have worked with many of those dedicated, conscientious, competent public service employees, those who are dedicated and have dedicated themselves to serve the public and the public interest and the government of the day. The morale of those employees is extremely important.

During these estimates and during this debate, I would urge the government not only to solve its problems at the collective bargaining table but also to send out a message that it will not in conscience accept violence. We have seen peaceful protestors provoked, and that does not serve Ontario well.

I would also say to this government that there is not only an opportunity to settle this strike peacefully, but there is also an opportunity to send a clear message, because labour instability is not a climate for economic growth. If you want to say to the world, and you should, that Ontario is a vibrant economy and a good place to invest and a good place to do business, you must send a message that good labour-management and good employment practices are valued in this province. The government can serve and set by example that climate, and they have not done so today, and they should be criticized, and they should change their ways before it is too late.


I sat here in the House today, on March 18, the first day that we have been here since before the Christmas recess in middle December, and I heard the ministers as they stood to respond to question period not be accurate in their answers, and I charge you, Mr Speaker, to hold those ministers accountable for accuracy, because the rhetoric gets in the way.

I've been very careful in my remarks to not be inflammatory, to be thoughtful and to be concerned, and I hope that the members of the government caucus will heed this message. During my quotations I mentioned that what is driving the fiscal agenda of the Common Sense Revolution is an astounding tax cut, and we have heard time and again of the government's determination to move forward. I would like to put on the record some thoughts of others to remind Premier Harris and this government that while they may believe that it is macho to stand there and say, "We will not blink," what the people of the province want is a government that is responsive and responsible, a government that will listen to the best advice, and I would say that there are some quotes that would be very helpful.

On the tax cut, recently we had a legislative committee who took advice from numerous presenters, and my concern is that the government is not heeding that advice. In the Toronto Star dated March 14, I think there was an excellent editorial entitled "The High Price of the Harris Tax Cut." The editorial starts with this question:

"Would you like a 30% provincial income tax cut? Of course you would. Who wouldn't?

"Would you also like Queen's Park to slash services by 33% more than it has already announced? Most Ontarians wouldn't.

"But that's the price Mike Harris forgot to tell you about during the election campaign when he promised his 30% income tax cut. He said he could slash taxes and balance the budget with a grand total of $6 billion in expenditure cuts.

"Harris already has cut spending by $8 billion, and according to WEFA Canada Inc, an economic consulting firm, he'll either have to cut $2.6 billion more or forget about the deficit and let Ontario's debt grow another 40%.

"Harris talks about his tax cut putting money into the economy. But when all the spending cuts needed to pay for it are taken into account, `the bottom line,' according to Bank of Montreal economist" and I can't pronounce his name but for the record it's Wojciech Szadurski, and I apologize to him for my inability to correctly pronounce his name, he said, "`is that money will be taken out of the economy by a tax cut.'" The bottom line is that that money will be taken out of the economy by a tax cut.

"That view is shared by many economists who believe that worried consumers are more likely to use the tax cut to pay down their debts than to go on a shopping spree. And that, says Jayson Meyers of the Canadian Manufacturers' Association, means that the proposed tax cut won't do anything to stimulate job creation.

"For these reasons, every economist and business group appearing before the Legislature's finance committee in pre-budget hearings expressed some degree of caution over the Harris tax cut.

"During the election campaign, Harris made the tax cut sound as if he was offering something for nothing. But everything has a price. And the price of his tax cut is a massive reduction in public services and/or bigger deficits that keep adding to the debt.

"So we'll put the question again, but this time with the qualifications Harris neglected to mention the first time around.

"Do you want a 30% tax cut that will precipitate even more teacher layoffs and hospital budget cuts or a hefty increase in the provincial debt; that will lead to higher property tax and more user fees; that won't spur job creation; and that will suck money out of the economy instead of pumping it up?"

That's the editorial from the Toronto Star dated March 14, and that is the question that I believe Ontarians must ponder and ask themselves and let the Premier know how they feel. Because, according to Mike McCracken, the president of Informetrica, one cost of the tax cut would be the loss of 200,000 jobs by the end of the Tories' term in office and according to him the spending cuts introduced by the Conservatives to date will cost the economy 30,000 jobs in 1996-97.

We heard, and we saw very clearly in this document that was circulated in Oriole riding in this past election, we heard and we saw and we read of the government's plan to create 725,000 new jobs. They were very clear on that. They were clear that when they reduced the size of the civil service, they would have jobs for these people in the private sector.

Every bit of evidence is suggesting that Ontario's economy is not growing the way that it should in order to see job creation happening in the private sector, and so people are worried and that is why they are not spending. Someone said to me, "What good is a tax cut to me if I lose my job and I have no income?" and I had no answer for them, because they are now beginning to understand that there is no common sense in this revolutionary document.

But probably the single most important concern, after their individual security, their own job and will it be there for them tomorrow and for their neighbour and what will be the effect on their community of the policies of this government, probably the single most significant concern of the people of this province, and I know in Oriole riding, is medicare, health care in Ontario. And as Health critic, I can tell you that during the questioning of the Minister of Health at committee during time for estimates, the answers were inadequate.

When I look at the promises that were made, "Under this plan" -- they were very clear, under the Common Sense Revolution -- "there will be no new user fees." May 3, 1994. "We will not cut health care spending. The budget for health care, currently at $17.3, billion will be sealed, and we're the only ones to make this financial commitment to health care."

The suggestion was that they would take the budget they inherited as they inherited it and they would seal it. Well, the budget they inherited was $17.8 billion. Everyone knows that the expectation that everyone had was that not one cent would be cut from that, and yet we know from the estimate projections that in fact that's exactly what is happening. We know that health spending has been cut already by $1.5 billion, with the bulk of the cuts coming in the hospital sector.

The Conservatives acknowledged, in a response to the Ontario Hospital Association, when they said: "We will allocate more resources to community-based services to enable people to live in their own homes for as long as possible. We will not reduce hospital services until alternate support systems are available in the community."


I said at the beginning of my remarks that they say one thing and they do another, that their actions do not result from their promises and their words. Their deeds and their actions are not consistent with what they have said they would do, because we have not seen the focus on services. We have not seen communities such as Windsor, which just received an announcement that was long overdue that they would have $48 million for the capital construction of their hospital reconfiguration -- they have not had a commitment to ensure the community that community-based services will be there as part of that reconfiguration.

I say to this government, if you are going to assure the people of this province that not only are you going to do what you said you would do, but that you understand what is needed for the health of this province, you must be aware that health and economic prosperity go hand in hand, that your economic and fiscal policies and your social policies have an impact one to the other, that you must not cut one penny from health care, and we will be watching the budget that will be tabled by your Minister of Finance and your Premier and we will hold you responsible if you cut one nickel from the health account. Because we know that the cuts you are making are to see a redistribution of wealth from the most vulnerable and the poorest in our society to the best-off in our society.

I say to you, that is not healthy public policy, that is not good for Ontario, and you have little time to reconsider before you do enormous damage to this province.

Ms Frances Lankin (Beaches-Woodbine): I have to begin by saying it's kind of perverse to be here today and to be discussing these estimates. It's an incredibly empty process, and I'll explain what I mean in a moment, but it's also perverse given what we've seen going on outside in the streets of Toronto today and the streets around Queen's Park, the numbers of people who were here protesting the loss of thousands and thousands of jobs in this province, loss of vital services. And why? So that we can finance a 30% tax break that the Conservative Party wants to give to the wealthiest of their friends in this province.

I say it's perverse and I say this is an empty process because we have in front of us today a set of estimates that have been tabled that are for this year's expenditures that haven't even been updated to reflect appropriately the announcements of the spending cuts you've already made, let alone, when your ministers came before the committee on estimates, any projection of where your cuts were going to be, in what ministries, in what areas, any detail at all with respect to what was in your economic statement that you were going to cut over a third of the payroll in the Ontario public service. No details of that, no information.

If I could say so, this is the hallmark of this government, a government that proceeds without any consultation, without wanting to listen to anybody or get any advice, without providing anyone with any decent basis of information on which to respond to your plans. We see this over and over again. We see the way you treat legislation in the House, the way you treated the opposition with respect to bills like Bill 7. Ram it through: no debate, no committee, no hearings. We saw what you did on Bill 26 and the extraordinary efforts that it took on the part of members of the opposition to force a process in which you'd have to listen to some members of the public. We know that even then that was inadequate. There were hundreds of people who were denied an opportunity to be heard, who wanted to present as we travelled the province and as we held hearings here in Toronto and were denied that opportunity because of your bully tactics, because of your arrogant approach, because you're going to ram through your agenda no matter what the cost, no matter what the information.

In some ways I feel badly saying this to the members opposite, because most of them are members of the back bench and quite frankly I don't think they have any more information than members of the opposition do. The cabinet's just doing things behind closed doors. It's exactly what we said would happen as a result of Bill 26: taking more and more powers on to the cabinet, less and less consultation, less and less openness of government. This is a government that has closed the doors: closed the doors to the public, closed the doors to the opposition and, I suspect, closed the doors on the backbenchers of the Tory caucus as well.

If I can just take this a step further for many of you who weren't at the finance committee hearings and talk about the consultation we had with the Minister of Finance in the pre-budget hearings, you may know that every year it is traditional that at the standing committee on finance and economic affairs the minister comes forward and presents information with respect to his planning for the budget. The underpinnings of the budget planning process are presented to that committee.


Ms Lankin: Someone is saying over there, "The wrong committee." If you don't realize that there is a connection between estimates and the budget, then we've got a lot of education to do here.

Mr Pouliot: It will come.

Ms Lankin: It will come. With time, it will come.

He came forward before that committee and refused -- absolutely refused -- to provide that committee with any kind of information on which they could respond and give advice to the Minister of Finance with respect to his budget planning. Now, sitting here two seats over from me, the member for Nickel Belt, the former Minister of Finance, went through an incredible effort every year in opening up the budgeting process to involve people in this province -- not just the finance committee, not just members of the Legislature, but I can tell you this: He made a full presentation that included information on projections of the future on revenues; projections on expenditure; where the pressures were; what it looked like in terms of the deficit trends; what the economic growth trends were; all of those things which would allow the members of the opposition to provide their advice based on detailed information that the Ministry of Finance has at its fingertips, to provide that advice based on some real information. That was cut out. But not only did the member for Nickel Belt, when he was the Minister of Finance, consult in an open way with the finance committee and members of the Legislative Assembly, he went out across the province and met with people across the province in pre-budget consultations year after year after year.

Quite frankly, this government has said: "No, no, no, we're not going to be bothered doing that. Two weeks, we'll have the standing committee here listen to some folks and then we'll completely ignore the recommendations of the people who came forward." And you are, because if you read that report from the standing committee, you will see the compendium of all of the presentations that came forward, all of the economists, all of the expert witnesses who said: "This government is putting our economy in danger of sliding into another very, very deep recession. This government is putting us in danger of thousands of jobs being lost. This government is putting us in danger of not reaching our fiscal targets in terms of deficit reduction and eventually a balanced budget by the year 2000. This government should be very, very cautious about proceeding with its tax cut at this point in time because the indications are the market's soft, the economy's soft, revenues are down. We don't think you can do it."

This government is saying, "To heck with all of that" and the members of the government put forward their recommendation despite what they heard, not just from all the ordinary folks who came forward, those people they think are special interests whom they write off, but from all of the expert witnesses who came forward including, I might add, the expert witnesses the Tory caucus put forward. You're not even listening to your own experts. You're not listening to anyone. In fact, what you are doing is providing people with a whole lot of misinformation rather than real information. Let me give you some examples.

I was appalled today to hear the minister for Management Board stand up and rail in response to a question from the leader of the official opposition, talking about the size of the civil service and defending his actions which have absolutely provoked the OPSEU strike -- defending that by saying: "In 1985 there were X number of public service workers in the Ontario public service and five years later, in 1990, there were 8,000 more. It had bloated; it had grown. We've got to do something about it." We were all over here saying: "No, no, no. Dave, tell us, what was it in 1995 when you took over? Give us all of the information." But he refused to do that.

Mr Laughren: Not a chance.

Ms Lankin: Not a chance. He wouldn't give us that information. He wouldn't give the public that information, and probably hasn't told you, so let me tell you. In 1985, there were 81,000 people employed in the Ontario public service. In 1995, there were 81,000 people employed in the Ontario public service.


You see, it didn't begin with you guys, the idea of restructuring the way in which public services are delivered, trying to streamline, trying to deal with a reorganization of how services are delivered. And it didn't begin with you guys looking at how many layers of management there are and what kind of de-layering needed to take place and how we learn from some of the things that have happened in the corporate sector. That didn't begin with the Tories. But you went out with an ideological document, your Common Sense Revolution, and you said, "We're going to take it back to 1985 numbers." You forgot to check what the new numbers were. Now you're in the situation where you're going to cut even deeper than you intended, you're going to lay off even more people than you intended and you're going to take us back not to 1985 -- because we're already there -- you're going to take us back to 1952 in terms of the size of the civil service, for a population that has grown dramatically.

Think through what you're doing. Why don't you deal with some facts for a change instead of just, "I believe in what's in the Common Sense Revolution"? You should challenge yourselves with reality from time to time, challenge yourselves with facts. You might come to a point where you realize you need to make some changes in the plans that you had. When you're governing, you govern the province as it is, not based on some ideology. You take a look at the real facts: what's the situation that's facing you, what are the steps you should take, what's reasonable, what's the response going to be to the steps you're taking as a government with respect to the economy?

Let's take a look at some of the facts. You said you were going to lay off 13,000 people. Quite frankly, we now know, looking at the documents the Minister of Finance tabled in November, that you intend to cut over 30% of the payroll. That doesn't translate into 13,000 people. Everyone wonders where this number of 27,000 comes from. My friends, that's where it comes from: 33% of payroll being cut -- it's right there in the document that the minister put forward -- translates into somewhere between 25,000 and 29,000 people, depending on salary rates and how high a salary or how low a salary is. That's the number it translates into.

So why don't you tell us what your plans are? When we tried to ask the Minister of Finance -- no information; wouldn't provide us with any information, wouldn't confirm the numbers, wouldn't tell us what his intent was. When we tried to ask every minister coming before estimates -- no information; wouldn't confirm, wouldn't tell us.

Misinformation is being provided day in and day out by this government. Let's take a look at what's actually happening in the economy right now. You have the Common Sense Revolution based on projected economic growth of about 4.5%. Do you know what the expected economic growth for 1995 actually is? It's 2.5%.

Unemployment out there is running at 8.9%, despite the extraordinary misinformation we heard from the Premier today that you're on track for the creation of 725,000 new jobs. What a joke. All of the projections, all of the people who have come forward, who testified before the finance committee, all of the people who have speculated on what's happening in the economy, have said that we're looking at very weak employment numbers for the next year to two years out. Where does the Premier come up with these mythical, hopeful projections that don't accord with any of the real information? Provide people with real information, not smoke and mirrors, not misinformation.

The drag in the economy from the cuts that you are making, the deep cuts in public sector spending, is causing us to slip back to the edge of dropping off into a recession again. We heard from expert witness after expert witness, testimony after testimony, that the economy is so fragile right now that the depth of the cuts you are making is taking money out of the economy. The public sector is part of the economy. That money that's spent by government circulates in the economy. It provides people with employment wages, for example, which they then go out and spend in the corner stores and in retail operations and in buying cars, whatever. You're taking that money out of the economy. So there's a drag on the economy, there's a slowing down on the economy as a result of that, and we heard time and time again that we are dangerously close to sliding over the precipice down into another recession.

The thing that is driving the depth and the speed of your cuts, which by the way are going to be $5 billion to $6 billion to $8 billion more than you projected in the Common Sense Revolution, is your absolute ideological commitment to providing this tax break that is going to benefit the wealthiest in the province. I've got to wonder why. Why would you keep down this road?

All of the experts said to be cautious on that tax cut. One of two things is going to happen: You're going to have to cut deeper and deeper in order to make up the money for that if you're going to reach your deficit targets and balance the budget by 2000, or you're going to miss your deficit targets. We keep hearing from the Premier and the Finance minister, "No, there's no way we're going to miss our deficit targets." I guess that means you're going to break every other promise you made. We have already seen $2 billion being cut from health care, which you promised not to cut. We've already seen $400 million in the first tranche of cuts from classroom education, and it's going to grow; we know it's going to be $1 billion-plus in terms of education. We've already seen cuts in law enforcement which are bringing us dangerously close to levels of police officers that can't secure the safety of our communities.

What is the kind of Ontario that you have a vision for? It's incredible when we see the direction that you're going. You are ripping the heart out of Ontario, and for what reason? You break every promise in your Common Sense Revolution, and for what reason? To keep one promise and one promise only -- that promise for the 30% tax break, fully two thirds of which will go to families earning over $90,000 a year. That's not going to help middle-income earners; it's not going to help low-income earners. We know they're going to feel the pressure of huge new user fees that they're going to have to pay, higher property taxes as a result of your cuts of transfers to the municipalities.

You took welfare recipients and cut by 22% the incomes of people who spend every dollar they have in the economy. You cut them by 22%. You froze minimum wage. You took away access to pay equity for the poorest-paid women in this province. What is the theory here? Obviously, it's to depress wages. Obviously, it's to create a whole pool of workers who are going to work as cheap labour. It's no different than what you've done with OPSEU. Why is OPSEU out there on strike? Good Lord, you took a piece of legislation and included in it stripping their legal rights to follow their job with their contract if you privatize their work.

Every private sector employer and every private sector employee in a unionized workplace is covered by that kind of legislation and you exempt yourselves as an employer and say: "Our employees, it doesn't matter. We're not going to give them that protection in terms of job security." Why? It's hard to tell because the Premier today said, "We don't really have any plans. We're not committed to privatization," but he said, "We're not committed to not looking at privatization either." What does that mean? Double negative; sounds like you're committed to privatization. But let's give him the benefit of the doubt. If he's right and you don't have the plans for privatization, then why did you include stripping the public sector workforce of successor rights legislation back last fall? I don't believe it for a moment that you don't have those plans.

The thing that really, really disturbs me is the fact that you could restore successor rights, you could restore that protection and it wouldn't cost the public purse a penny. It doesn't cost anything if you're privatizing jobs. You're sending them out to somebody else. It doesn't cost you anything if that contract and those workers go with those jobs. Who does it cost? The friends you've got lined up down on Bay Street who are going to benefit from this fire sale of assets of the public that you have intended for us over the course of the next year.

A lot of people are going to pay through the nose. When you privatize Hydro, you will see consumer rates go up. You can see in the north it's going to devastate northern communities. In rural Ontario, dairy farmers, small business and small towns will pay more as a result. Who's going to benefit? The folks down on Bay Street. Over $1 billion is going to be made in fees from the sales and from all of the stocks and bonds and all of the process that you go through when you're divesting an asset like this.

It would be a good test for the public, every time they listen to you make an announcement, for them to ask themselves the question, "Who benefits from this?" It would be very illustrative, because I think they would see time and time again it's the wealthiest people of this province, it's the people who are the friends of the Mike Harris Tories, it's the people on Bay Street, it's the people in corporate offices. Over and over again those are the people who are going to benefit. And who hurts? The people with the lowest incomes, the people in middle income, people who are just scraping to try and get by and keep their families whole and safe, every time. Ask yourself that question: Who benefits? Who loses?


So we have a situation where the experts all say the tax cut won't provide any stimulation in the economy. At the most, we might see maybe 50,000 jobs created over some two or three years from that tax cut. But at the same time we're going to see 147,000 to 175,000 jobs lost as a result of the cuts in public sector spending. So there's an obvious net loss of employment that you're causing at the same time you promised to create 725,000 jobs.

Again, the Premier today said, "Elect a Tory government and confidence will return and investment will flood in and that's all you need to do and everything will be fine." Where is that confidence? Let me tell you, that slow economy, that increase in unemployment as we see people starting to look for more work and trying to flood back in when jobs aren't being created, all of that says to most people: "Gee, I'm not sure I should go out and spend right now. Gee, maybe I should save a little bit."

You guys are scratching your heads and saying: "Why isn't the consumer bounding back and out there in the retail market? Where's the consumer confidence?" Let me tell you, folks are sitting at home around the kitchen table right now with one of their kids in bed and looking at their budget, and it's in a family where one person works, and they're saying, "We can't afford this any more. We're going to have to both go out to work," or people are out every day on the OPSEU picket line fighting for their jobs, or young teachers are worried that they're going to be laid off. Do you think these people are going to go out and spend?

Students are training for a job that they don't have any belief will ever be there for them. People who are worried about losing their jobs aren't going to go out and spend. People who don't have a job can't go out and spend. You guys just don't get it. You keep going down a path which is pushing us closer and closer to a recession.

My friends, let me tell you that the recession that we will be seeing will be almost as deep in its impact on people as the Great Depression. The only thing that will make a difference are the social programs and social networks that have been built up for years and years and years in this province which you are trying to dismantle as quickly as you can. That is the difference between a depression and a recession. That is the difference in terms of how people experience those changes in the economy. It's the social programs, the social safety net that has been created that protects families.

Think back to the days of the Depression. If you're not old enough, read about it. Ask a relative about it. Find out about the hardships that people suffered as they stood in soup lines, as they stood looking for work, as they got on trains to travel to parts far away to try and find some employment to provide for their families, about the disintegration of families, of communities, of neighbourhoods.

After that, a number of people in this country said, "Never again." People like Stanley Knowles and Tommy Douglas and many, many others of all political stripes said, "Never again," and they set us on a course to building the fine, incredible country that we live in today, which, my friends, you are dismantling.

You keep saying it's about money; you keep saying it's about the deficit. If it was, you wouldn't be proceeding with this tax cut. At some point in time, the public is going to start to see through the sham of this argument, the sham of the Common Sense Revolution, of the mantra that you repeat over and over and over again, the sham of, "We've got to do this because we're spending $1 million more an hour than we're taking in."

Let me tell you, once you borrow the $27.8 billion that you're going to have to borrow to make up for the lost revenue between now and the year 2000 as a result of this tax cut that you're giving, over two thirds of which is going to families over $90,000, do you realize that you're going to be spending --

Ms Marilyn Churley (Riverdale): How much per hour?

Ms Lankin: How much per hour? Thank you for asking. You knew I was going to tell you that. Just under three quarters of a million dollars an hour just to pay for that tax cut. Come on. There is no common sense in that. This does not make sense. You're prolonging the time in which we could arrive at a balanced budget. You're cutting deeper and faster than you need to. Let's come back to the reason why.

Why is it that you're prepared to break every single promise in the Common Sense Revolution except that one? It's not because it makes sense economically, because all of the experts who came before the committee said no. In fact, your Finance minister couldn't even answer the question about what kind of economic stimulus this tax cut would provide. When we asked him, "In the first year, second year?" he said, "Well no, probably not." "Beyond that?" "Well yes, we think so." "What will it be?" "I don't know. I don't have those numbers, but I believe -- I believe -- that it will do it" -- true believers in the Common Sense Revolution. This is an ideology that you're believing in, but there are no facts to substantiate it.

I come back to the reason why. Why are you prepared to proceed to break every promise you made in the Common Sense Revolution to the public of Ontario except the one for the tax cut? I suspect it's because Mike Harris said -- he probably would regret it now and think of it as a moment of weakness or stupidity or something -- "If I don't keep that promise, I'll resign." So you're all screwing around, living up to an ideology and to a promise to try and protect your Premier.

Do you know what you're doing on the other side in order to protect your Premier or in order to live up to that promise? Thousands upon thousands of workers are going to lose their jobs. Thousands upon thousands of families are going to lose that economic security. The very fabric of our neighbourhoods and our communities is being ripped apart by the actions you're taking and the cuts you're making in order to pay for this tax cut. Thousands of people can suffer in this province as far as you're concerned. For what reason? To save one guy's job. To save Mike Harris's job. "Shame, absolute shame."

It is time that you listened to what people of this province are saying. It is time that you stepped back and took a deep breath and said, "Look, we're heading down a road of ideology here that doesn't work when you're trying to govern a complex, large industrial province, a province where you need to have some balance between what the markets do and what the governments do."

I'm tired of hearing you folks say, "Let the markets do it all." Let me tell you there's something incredibly perverse about the markets that would see, last week, the markets respond to good employment news with a mini-crash. There's something perverse about markets that respond to a major downsizing announcement by a corporation by seeing their stocks shoot to the sky. There's something perverse about that.

When we were in the finance committee hearings, the chief economist for Canada Trust came forward and did this whole bit about the markets and how they -- primarily US markets -- were responding to the Harris government, and all the Tory backbenchers there were just so pleased and delighted that the markets liked the Tory government. They felt all warm and fuzzy as a result of that. This was good news.

I said to her: "When the markets are looking at this promise of the tax cut or this promise of the deficit being reduced at this point in time, are the markets also, by the way, looking at the devastation of our health care system, which is one of the main competitive edges we have over the US in terms of attracting industry and the cost of production? Are the markets looking at the complete desecration of an education system that now is in place and produces good-quality-educated workers for those corporations that are going to come in and invest? Do the markets take account of the loss of security in our neighbourhoods and the increase in crime as a result of increased poverty and greater polarization in the distribution of wealth in our society?" She said: "No, no. The markets don't look at that. Those are things that are of concern to us as citizens who live here, but not to the markets."

That's why we have governments. We have governments to intervene, not to hand over our province to the US-driven markets. You take that information into account, but you don't bend on knees to them. You don't worship at the feet of the markets. You have a job to do which is to protect people, which is to intervene, which is to ensure that there's a distribution of the wealth that comes from the resources, the natural resources and the human resources, of this country. You have a role as a government. You're abandoning that role when you are proceeding hell-bent on introducing this tax cut, no matter what, to save Mike Harris's job.


Premier Harris is a very nice person and Premier Harris, I'm sure, doesn't want to lose his job. Neither do the thousands upon thousands of people who were on the lawns today, who were walking picket lines all around this province, or the teachers -- who know they're next -- the hospital workers, the municipal workers. You've set this province on a course of absolute chaos and confrontation. How do you think that appeals to those people you want to come in and invest in this province?

My friends, you've got some serious thinking to do. These estimates, unfortunately, are not a forum for you to deal with those very serious questions facing your government. But you have a month or two before your Finance minister introduces his budget. You have caucus meeting after caucus meeting where you should be putting these issues to him and you should be demanding answers.

He wouldn't tell us how much a tax cut was going to cost. I told him, "You can tell us right now what the yield per tax point is." I know that information's available. I sat around the treasury board table. I was there with the member for Nickel Belt time after time when he presented that information. I know it's available. "No, no, no, not available. Can't give it to you." But who did you give it to? We saw it in the document today that you filed with the US Securities and Exchange Commission. You tell the folks down in the States information that you won't share with the people of Ontario. It's amazing.

It's an amazing government that's producing amazing times in this province, and I worry. I worry for the future of Ontario. I worry for what Ontario will look like after Mike Harris. I took a ride to the airport when I was going out on committee hearings with a taxi driver who said that you guys are like a neutron bomb that's been dropped on this province. The thing that happens after a neutron bomb, when the smoke and the dust clears, is that nothing grows for a long, long time. I worry about our Ontario after Mike Harris. Think it through. Rethink it. Do the right thing in the budget.

Mrs Lillian Ross (Hamilton West): I spent two weeks sitting on the estimates committee, and as soon as you sit on the estimates committee for a very, very short time, you realize in fact that estimates is the last thing on everybody's mind. It's due in part to the fact that the estimates that we were looking at were really those of the previous government and weren't really reflective of our government's position, and partly because the estimates committee appears to be a forum for members to restate their parties' positions on various topics.

However, it was an informative and interesting experience for me. I'd like to focus my remarks today on two particular ministries. The first one is the Ministry of Community and Social Services. Minister Tsubouchi was present for 15 hours of estimates and began by stating the ministry's vision, which I would like to quote for you.

"That vision is an effective and affordable service system which supports and invests in families and communities to be responsible and accountable, where adults are as independent as possible, a society where children are safe and where support is provided to people most in need."

The minister also noted that the estimates we were referring to were from the previous government and would be dramatically different next time around.

Welfare of course was the major topic of discussion. In 1985 the welfare rolls were at 476,000 cases. By June 1995 they had grown to around 1.3 million cases. Approximately one in every 10 people in Ontario was supported by the welfare system. By the end of 1995 the government of Ontario was spending approximately $6.6 billion on welfare.

Our government was determined to change this. The minister acted quickly and took steps to address the welfare issue. By lowering welfare benefits 21.6%, it brought welfare benefits in Ontario more in line with the rest of the other provinces. Welfare benefits in Ontario are still 10% higher than the average of the rest of the provinces, but welfare recipients have the opportunity of earning back the difference without penalty.

Steps have also been taken to tighten eligibility and combat fraud in the system. Our government firmly believes that welfare should be a last resort for people, but it must be preserved and protected in order to ensure that it does not become a way of life for generations of Ontarians but in fact is a social assistance system for those who truly need support.

The Ontario Works program which the minister is working towards was discussed in some detail, and it was confirmed to us that it will be a program designed specifically for Ontarians, a made-in-Ontario solution, because it's clear that the best program for welfare recipients is a job.

The last major topic that was dealt with under the Ministry of Community and Social Services was the child care issue. The previous NDP government had spent $52 million by June 8 on the conversion of private child care centres to non-profit centres, but with all that money not a single new space was created. This government will spend up to $549.5 million on child care this year and includes available funding for up to 14,000 Jobs Ontario child care fee subsidies. The minister also confirmed that 71% of the child care operating budget will be set aside to help low-income parents so they can continue to work and avoid reliance on social assistance. Minister Tsubouchi is committed to improving child care options for parents so they can choose the kind of care they want for their children, whether it be institutional, formal or informal, and the minister will do this by making better use of taxpayers' dollars.

The other ministry that I'd like to comment on is the Housing ministry. Minister Leach attended 15 hours of the estimates committee also, and was quick to tell us that the estimates of the Housing were not those of his government but were from the previous government's disastrous housing policy.

In fact, major changes in the Housing ministry have taken place since June 1995. Almost 400 non-profit projects were cancelled immediately, saving almost $500 million over the next five years. While stating that 100,000 units of non-profit housing were added since 1985, the minister pointed out that continuation of this program would have cost the taxpayers of Ontario more than $1 billion a year every year. It is not fiscally responsible to burden the taxpayer with that kind of debt.

The estimates tabled by the previous government were a program for spending. The Provincial Auditor has criticized the non-profit housing program since its inception, based on the way the program was managed and operated. Minister Leach stated that the housing problems could be handled in a far better way, a way that doesn't put a crushing burden on the taxpayer.

The Provincial Auditor found huge discrepancies in the non-profit housing program. Our government is committed to replacing the existing social housing system with a shelter allowance program, believing that a shelter subsidy is fairer, because it subsidizes the person and not the unit. It will offer support to the neediest people, not just the ones lucky enough to get to the top of the waiting list. It allows people to choose where they want to live.

A great deal of discussion at the estimates committee centred around rent controls and the effect of removal of rent control on those least likely to afford increases in rent. Minister Leach stated over and over that he meets continually with tenants and landlords alike to discuss rental housing. Rent control is not working. Old stock is crumbling, nobody's building new buildings and the vacancy rate is very low and falling.

Minister Leach is working towards a new system that gives renters housing choices and protection and one that gives landlords incentives to invest in new buildings and maintain their old ones. Even the member for Scarborough North, who was at one point Minister of Housing for the Liberal government, put the best case for change when he stated:

"As a landlord, you have failed. As a landlord, when I was there, I failed. As a landlord, as the Minister of Housing, as we go through, we fail. We have not brought decent, affordable housing to the people of this province, and we must fix that. So I commend you to looking with respect to fixing the rental housing aspect in our province."

Minister Leach has stated that he would like to bring forward a complete package of reform which will include the Ontario Housing Corp, rent supplements and ways to encourage the private sector to build as well as the non-profit program. The minister assured the committee that the 1996-97 estimates, which will come before this committee later this spring, will demonstrate quite a different approach. The Ministry of Housing will no longer tolerate abuse, nor will it subsidize inefficiency.

This government will make the kinds of changes that reflect a new way of governing, a way that respects the financial realities and encourages the private sector to play a greater role. The Provincial Auditor was pleased that the government was prepared to reduce government spending in both the community and social services area and in the housing area as well, but also stated that there was a great deal more to do.

I look forward to reviewing the estimates after the spring session, as I'm sure the numbers will be more accurate and the auditor's report will be more favourable to the actions the government will take. I look forward to the next committee meeting.

The Speaker (Hon Allan K. McLean): It being almost 6 of the clock, this House stands adjourned until 1:30 of the clock tomorrow afternoon.

The House adjourned at 1801.