36th Parliament, 1st Session

L043 - Tue 19 Mar 1996 / Mar 19 Mar 1996

















































The House met at 1332.




Mr David Ramsay (Timiskaming): I'd like to read to the members a news article that appeared in the Kirkland Lake Northern Daily News on March 15:

"Mother of Three Killed in Crash

"Road conditions played a significant role in an early-morning accident which claimed the life of a Larder Lake woman.

"Cheryl Duplin, 42, was killed Thursday when the vehicle she was driving was struck broadside by a truck.

"The multi-vehicle accident happened at about 6:35 am just east of the level railway crossing on Highway 66.

"`The roads, at the time of the day in that certain section of the highway, were extremely icy,' said Ontario Provincial Police Constable Thomas Batisse from the Swastika detachment who investigated the accident.

"The married woman and mother of three was driving westbound on Highway 66 about nine kilometres east of Kirkland Lake, followed by two vehicles, when she lost control on a curve and was hit by the car immediately behind her which caused minor damage to her Jeep.

"The cars careered to a stop with Mrs Duplin's vehicle coming to rest on the north shoulder of the highway almost blocking the westbound lane.

"Seconds later, it was hit on the passenger side by a third westbound vehicle which could not stop in time to avoid the collision."

The Kirkland Lake police, who shortly after arrived at the site, are investigating this.

At midnight tonight Ontario is expecting another major storm. I would say to the government members over there and all members of the Legislature that we would hope this strike is over soon so that we don't have to have other victims such as Cheryl across this province. We've got to get this province back again and we've got to start saving the lives of Ontarians.


Mr Rosario Marchese (Fort York): In September when this House was called into session, angry demonstrators were confronted by police billy clubs. Yesterday when the House was reconvened, picketers engaged in a legal strike were confronted by an OPP riot squad. As Thomas Walkom said in his column in this morning's Toronto Star, "It was a pretty normal day -- for these days -- at the Ontario Legislature."

Mr Premier, how do you like your new Ontario so far? Envision this: an Ontario with no new foreign investors, an Ontario with thousands of people laid off because their jobs are about to be privatized, and an Ontario that is about to lay off about 27,000 workers in order to give some wealthy people a tax cut. That's where you're taking this province

Yesterday I witnessed two picketers who were taken to hospital after being beaten by the batons of riot police who came out of nowhere from behind the strikers and just started bashing everyone. They didn't even see it coming. It was totally unprovoked.

Is this the Ontario you want to promote to potential investors? Because I'll tell you, Mr Premier, if I were a potential investor in Ontario and witnessed the rioting that occurred yesterday because of your government's draconian policies, I would certainly take my business elsewhere. Does anyone think the oppressive bully tactics that were witnessed yesterday are going to attract investors?

Your Common Sense Revolution is working, only it's the workers who have the common sense and are leading the revolution. Wake up, Mr Premier, and smell the napalm.


Mr Ted Chudleigh (Halton North): I rise in the House today on a matter of urgency to ask all members for their assistance. The life of a young and vibrant child in my riding hangs in the balance. Five-year-old Deidre Scholtz has been stricken with a rare, life-threatening disease known as idiopathic aplastic anaemia. This disease prevents Deidre's bone marrow from manufacturing blood. The condition seriously weakens her immune system and her ability to fight common infections like the cold or flu virus, which is uncomfortable to many of us but deadly for her.

Bone marrow transplant testing is an expensive procedure. In the true nature of community spirit and volunteerism, the town of Milton has pulled together in an outpouring of support, with over 2,000 bone marrow samples contributed in one afternoon, and has raised over $48,000 in funds to pay for tests.

The odds for Deidre are one in 20,000 to find a suitable match, but we can't do it alone. Halton Regional Police have set up an information phone line and the Royal Bank in Milton Mall is accepting donations.

I encourage all members of this House to consider a monetary donation or a blood sample donation to bolster the current supply of bone marrow registries. There are approximately 200 to 300 cases of this disease diagnosed yearly in Canada. In giving, not only might a donor be found for Deidre, but for all those who suffer from this terrible affliction elsewhere. Please be generous.


Mr Michael Gravelle (Port Arthur): I wish to bring an issue to the attention of the Minister of Northern Development and Mines and the Minister of Natural Resources. Despite the fact that both ministries are led by one member, they appear to be working at cross-purposes to the detriment of economic development in the north.

As I understand it, the Ministry of Natural Resources is planning to implement a regulation that would permit ministry officials to charge a crown land camping fee of $10 per night per person on American boats dropping anchor in Lake Superior this summer.

This is a fee that would only be applied to American boaters who choose to cruise waters that fall under crown land designation. Interestingly enough, this means that only northern Ontario bordered waters will be forced to levy this fee. This government might speak of Ontario being open for business, but in northern Ontario we're apparently closed to American tourists.

Previous governments, through the Ministry of Northern Development, have invested hundreds of thousands of dollars in developing marina infrastructure as a means to attract tourist dollars to the north. These projects have just begun to pay dividends, as numbers confirm a brisker flow of dollars from our southern neighbours.

This move by MNR is an assault on northern marina marketing efforts and in direct contravention of the mandate of the Ministry of Northern Development to work with its partners to nurture economic development initiatives in northern Ontario.

I call upon the minister to rescind the decision to extend the crown land camping fee to boundary waters, to recognize his mistake and to instruct his officials to withdraw any ads promoting this wrongheaded and ill-thought-out measure.



Mr Len Wood (Cochrane North): I'd like to direct my statement today to the Premier, Mike Harris. Bring this strike to an end, Mr Premier. The government must start negotiating in good faith. The OPSEU workers want a fair deal, and it's about time that you gave them one.

More than 20,000 members of the civil service are about to be fired or laid off in the province, and you are not offering them a fair deal. Under Bill 7, your anti-labour legislation, successor rights were exempted. OPSEU members whose jobs are privatized, divested or contracted out want to take their contracts, union representation and seniority with them. These rights are to apply to every other private and public employer in Ontario; why not to our civil servants? This is a non-monetary issue. It will not cost a cent.

The union's proposal on pensions should be accommodated. You say it will cost $30 million; $30 million is a small percentage of the cost of the overall package and it would allow 400 workers to continue to collect pension credits until they are eligible for their unrestricted pension. You are willing to spend $28 billion -- and I might point out of borrowed money -- to give a tax cut to the people of Ontario. All it would take is $30 million to prevent a number of people from going on to the welfare rolls. This doesn't make sense, Mr Premier. Your 30% tax cut may be good politics, but it's bad economics and it's headed in the wrong direction.

Bargain in good faith, Mr Premier. Bring this strike to an end and give the thousands of workers a fair deal. Let's get this province moving again in the right direction: in the direction of labour peace, economic prosperity and a feeling of wellbeing enjoyed by Ontarians.


Mr Dan Newman (Scarborough Centre): I am pleased to rise today as the member for Scarborough Centre in order to celebrate 1996 as the 40th anniversary of Scarborough General Hospital.

Scarborough General Hospital is Scarborough's first hospital. It's also the largest community hospital in Metro. We in Scarborough are very proud of the outstanding service and care that have been provided to the residents of Scarborough over the past 40 years.

It was in 1952 that the Sisters of Misericorde, led by Sister Roseline, purchased the land and received the okay of Scarborough council to develop the city's first hospital. It was on May 11, 1956, that Scarborough General Hospital was officially opened. Known as the "hospital with heart," Scarborough General has made medical history with a number of innovations, especially in the treatment of heart problems. As well, Scarborough General is home to several world-renowned doctors.

Did this House know that Scarborough General Hospital was home to the world's first post-polio leg reconstruction; Metro's first long-term-care facility; Toronto's first sports medicine clinic; Canada's first community hospital to use clot-busting drugs for heart attacks; the first community hospital to use a Holmium YAG laser to break up kidney stones; the first Canadian hospital to use myoglobin testing to diagnose heart attacks in the emergency room; and that just this year Scarborough General Hospital was home to the first soya bean oil breast implant?

To commemorate its 40th birthday, Scarborough General Hospital is hosting a year-long series of events and activities to provide a retrospective view of 40 years of health care in Scarborough, as well as a glimpse of health care into the next 40 years. I'd ask the members to join me today in wishing a happy 40th birthday --

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


Mr Mike Colle (Oakwood): It appears I owe some members of the Conservative caucus an apology. I owe them an apology because I assumed that all of them supported the Mike Harris crazy tax cut. It appears I was wrong.

According to that fine newspaper the Kitchener-Waterloo Record, MPP Chris Stockwell said that as many as one out of four Tory backbenchers thinks that the Harris tax cut is crazy. Fully one quarter of the Conservatives elected on a promise to cut income tax by 30% now have second thoughts about a plan to basically increase the provincial debt by $20 billion. Finally, Conservative backbenchers are waking up and realizing that this irresponsible tax cut, which is designed to benefit the wealthiest in society, just isn't worth it.

It isn't worth it for the $1.5-billion cuts that have been made to health care. It isn't worth it when you take into account all the layoffs that are going to occur because of teachers, police officers, health care workers. Even Ralph Klein says this is a stupid, wacky tax cut. The Minister of Finance knows that it doesn't make sense to add $20 billion to the provincial debt.

There is light at the end of the tunnel, hopefully.


Mr Gilles Bisson (Cochrane South): I stand in the House today in order to bring a message to Premier Harris and the rest of his cabinet and his backbenchers.

Ms Marilyn Churley (Riverdale): Where is the Premier?

Mr Bisson: The Premier is out today, but I want to none the less send this message: Many members of this assembly, at least on our side of the House, have been out over the last number of weeks talking to the people out on the picket lines, not only in our ridings but across Ontario, to try to really ascertain exactly what it is that the people out on strike are asking for and what it is that we can do as members of this assembly try to find a resolution to this conflict that would be beneficial to both the employees and the employer in this case.

What strikers are telling me across this province and what they're telling me in Cochrane South is simply this: They're saying that they want to be treated the same as any other employer would treat a private sector employee, because what you have here is a government that stands in its place and says, "We want to be able to run government as they do in the private sector," but the minute they get the chance, they treat their employees opposite to what they would in the private sector.

Employees in the private sector have successor rights. If an employer sells off his plant, the collective agreement goes with it. But because Mike Harris wants to revise Ontario to his new vision, public sector employees have a much different case when it comes to successor rights. When it comes to seniority rights, private sector employees have protection under the collective agreements. Mike Harris is stripping that out of their collective agreements.

I say to the government, on behalf of those people out on the picket line: Mike Harris, treat public sector employees the same as private sector employees are treated.


Mr Trevor Pettit (Hamilton Mountain): I would like to take this opportunity in the House today to inform you that the city of Hamilton will be hosting the 1996 Ford World Men's and Women's Curling Championships from Saturday, March 23 to Sunday, March 31. The Ford Worlds, as they are called, will take place at the fabulous Copps Coliseum in downtown Hamilton.

We are very proud that Hamilton is the site of this exciting sports event. Our city is expecting 230,000 visitors from all around the world during the week of the competition. Participating in this event will be teams from seven European countries, one team from the Pacific region, as well as teams from the USA and from Canada. It is truly an international event which highlights the increasing popularity of curling around the world.

The Ford Worlds will also be instrumental in determining the entrants to the Olympic curling competitions at the 1998 games in Nagano, Japan. The current men's Canadian championship team is led by Manitoba's Jeff Stoughton and the women's Canadian championship team is led by Ontario's own Marilyn Bodogh.

I invite everyone to come over to Hamilton next week to show their support for this great international sport and for the Canadian teams as they make their way to the next winter Olympics. I'm sure everyone knows how to get to downtown Hamilton.

I also encourage all visitors to catch the incomparable view from high atop Hamilton Mountain and to enjoy the unparalleled hospitality of Hamilton Mountain citizens.


The Speaker (Hon Allan K. McLean): I beg to inform the House that in the name of Her Majesty the Queen, His Honour the Lieutenant Governor has been pleased to assent to the following bill in his office on Tuesday, January 30, 1996.

Clerk Assistant and Clerk of Committees (Ms Deborah Deller): The following is the title of the bill to which His Honour has assented:

Bill 26, An Act to achieve Fiscal Savings and to promote Economic Prosperity through Public Sector Restructuring, Streamlining and Efficiency and to implement other aspects of the Government's Economic Agenda / Projet de loi 26, Loi visant à réaliser des économies budgétaires et à favoriser la prospérité économique par la restructuration, la rationalisation et l'efficience du secteur public et visant à mettre en oeuvre d'autres aspects du programme économique du gouvernement.


Hon David Johnson (Chair of the Management Board of Cabinet): I have a message from the Administrator of the government signed by his own hand.

The Speaker (Hon Allan K. McLean): The Administrator of the government transmits estimates of certain sums required for the services of the province for the year ending March 31, 1996, and recommends them to the Legislative Assembly.

That's signed in Toronto, March 19, 1996, by His Honour Roy McMurtry.



Mr David S. Cooke (Windsor-Riverside): Mr Speaker, I rise on a point of order concerning yesterday's confrontation outside the Legislative Assembly. I have extreme concerns about the extreme force that was used by the Ontario Provincial Police on behalf of the assembly. I guess I'm referring to subsections 103(1), (2) and (3) of the Legislative Assembly Act that make it very clear that you, Mr Speaker, have responsibility for security of the assembly. Therefore, Mr Speaker, it is my view that you have responsibility to deal with the consequences of yesterday's chaos and damage and individual injury that have occurred as a result of that level of force. As I said, my concern is with regard to the excessive force that was used by the Ontario Provincial Police.

I want to just very briefly outline some of the very specific items that have come to our attention. I can tell you that staff of the assembly who work in the Whitney Block can tell you that yesterday, while the OPP riot police were waiting to exercise their responsibilities, they were running up and down the hallways of the Whitney Block, I guess psyching themselves up, banging their shields up and down the hallways constantly. They weren't carrying out any orders at that time; they were simply, I guess -- and I do not understand it -- they were, I'd say, psyching themselves up. But what they did is they intimidated staff of the Legislative Assembly and I am sure intimidated staff of caucuses that reside over there, as well as, I'm sure, caucus members.

Mr Speaker, you will know that yesterday at least five people were injured. Again the Ontario Legislature made the national news, that there was violence again at the Ontario Legislature, a near-riot again at the Ontario Legislature, a near-riot again in Toronto. I don't know what this does for the image of Ontario or the image of the Ontario Legislature. I do know what this does to attract investment and jobs into this province, and it's very, very negative indeed.

According to the newspapers, a high-ranking Metro police officer said, "They were like animals," describing the Ontario Provincial Police. As described again in the press, and I quote from the press, "After the incident, one of the OPP team leaders blew kisses to the crowd of angry pickets as the team returned inside the building." That's a direct quote, but also has been reported to us, and it was viewed on the clips on TV. That is clearly inciting a riot and inciting a reaction from people who are already under extreme pressure because of the situation in this province.

We need to know in this assembly: Who called for this level of force; who monitored the actions of the Ontario Provincial Police when that force was being carried out?

I don't advocate blocking the entrance of the Legislature by OPSEU --


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

Mr Cooke: You can see some of the problem when someone says that we shouldn't be allowed to picket, and somehow that is seen as blocking entrance to the assembly. There happens to be a Constitution in this province, and the Constitution guarantees the ability to assemble.


The Speaker: Order.

Mr Cooke: If I might continue, Mr Speaker, as I said -- and I've said this on behalf of our caucus before -- we do not advocate the blocking of the entrances to the Ontario Legislature, not by OPSEU, not by security guards --


Mr Cooke: I wish you'd shown the same level of enthusiasm when security was blocking entrances to the assembly last October. But I don't advocate it, I don't support it, no matter who's involved in it, and it will be raised every time by this caucus. But while there was a near riot taking place, you had lawyers at that time going to court seeking an injunction to solve the problem in a legal way through the courts and with the existing law in this province.

Mr Speaker, I think one option you could have considered would have been to announce that the Legislature would be recessed at 1:30 -- that could have been arranged with the three House leaders -- and that it was in recess until the court had dealt with the issue of an injunction. That would have dispensed with all of the problems of security and all of the resulting physical damage to individuals and the image to this Legislature and to this community. The law and the courts are there to deal with situations like this in a fair way but in a safe way to all of the people of the province. Instead, this level of force, under someone's instructions to use that level of force, resulted in people being injured and resulted in severe damage to the image of Ontario, the Ontario Legislature and Toronto.

Mr Speaker, enough is enough. This is not the first incident where extreme force has been used around here. Members of the assembly have expressed grave concern to you before. We asked for a full public investigation after the October incident during the throne speech. That never happened; there never was a public investigation of what happened in October.

Mr Speaker, I want to propose something to you. If you have something else that would provide a public process, then I'd like to hear it. But specifically, Mr Speaker, I propose that we should together be requesting from the government a public inquiry into what happened around this place yesterday. Only through an independent public inquiry under the Public Inquiries Act can we get to the bottom of what happened yesterday. The public could testify and the process would of course be open to the public. There has to be accountability: accountability for the police, accountability for everyone who made decisions yesterday. No police officer should be allowed to taunt and provoke demonstrators, not around the Parliament of this province. This will incite violence. It did incite violence.

Mr Speaker, I'm asking you to state your position. You're the person who has to show some leadership on this issue today. This cannot be allowed to happen again. My strong view on behalf of my caucus is it can only be resolved through a public inquiry concerning yesterday's devastating events around this place.

Mrs Janet Ecker (Durham West): Mr Speaker, I rise on a point of privilege because I believe there is another view here which needs to be heard on the issue that was raised by the honourable member.

For three weeks, staff and MPPs and members of the public respected the OPSEU lines. We waited when we were asked. We met and listened to them give us their views and their messages when we were asked. But yesterday, members of the public, members of the media, MPPs, and members of our staffs who were not members of the union were physically, forcibly prohibited from entering their workplace when they wanted to. I myself spent over two hours attempting to get into the building by the rules that OPSEU had set. The police attempted on two occasions to negotiate access for members of the public, for staff, for the MPPs. They were forcibly denied. They said that if we were not allowed access, trouble could occur. They did not want this to happen.


OPSEU was a legal strike. There was a legal picket line until yesterday, and we respect that. But, Mr Speaker, we're paid by the voters. I'm paid by the voters of Durham West to do a job, to represent their interests here. Yesterday I was forcibly prevented from doing that. The only option that I had to get into the building was to use the assistance of the police.

If there are concerns that have been raised about the conduct of the police, our caucus has written to you, as you know. We have asked you to take an investigation. As the security issues fall solely within the purview of your office, our caucus would request that you review and report at the earliest possible opportunity on the following security-related issues: the role of your office in planning for the advance picket lines and the protest which occurred yesterday, the role and responsibility and jurisdiction of the Metropolitan Toronto Police Force, the responsibility of the Ontario Provincial Police and the role and responsibility and jurisdiction of the protective service.

We were concerned about the safety and security of the people who work in this building. Public servants and visitors to the assembly were forcibly denied entrance. We want to know what steps your office will take to prevent any recurrences of this unfortunate and very sad day. Thank you very much, sir.


The Speaker: Order. Is this on the same point?

Mr Rick Bartolucci (Sudbury): On a point of privilege, Mr Speaker: It is disgusting, and let me right now talk to you a little bit in my point of privilege about the balance and fairness and the justice that I don't see happening in this House with regard to identifying and recognizing members. There is a rule that the official opposition can stand up on a point of privilege or order and be recognized first. This was not the case today.

But let me continue on, because I want to attack this from a very, very different angle. I want to refer to subsection 21(a) of the standing orders, with regard to precedent.


The Speaker: Order.

Mr Bartolucci: Let them yell and scream and let them accuse us of trying to be disruptive. Let them go. It doesn't bother me. It shouldn't bother you. But the one thing it does do, Mr Speaker, it bothers the people of Ontario so let me tell you with regard to my point of privilege about the precedent that was set.

My concerns, and they are major concerns with very, very serious ramifications, are with regard to the conduct of the riot police yesterday within the walls and the halls of the Whitney Block, not outside. Let's talk a little bit about within the walls and the halls of the Whitney Block.

My staff was at work when out of nowhere, and obviously out of control, two supervisory officers, I guess in charge of the riot squad, burst into my office and upset my legislative assistant to a great degree. She asked, "What's going on?" I came out of my office and said, "Is there a problem here?" At that point in time, they viewed outside and then they walked out. No explanation, no permission, no order at all; burst in, viewed, walked out. As far as I am concerned, that disrupted the business of my office and according to subsection 21(a) that is wrong and I ask you to investigate it.

Let them talk. It doesn't bother me. The people of Ontario don't hear them anyway. They're tired of listening to them, so let them talk.

On my way down the hall to the House leader to try to ask for some guidance, when we asked for a little bit of guidance here, I was met by a troop of riot police --


The Speaker: The member for Etobicoke West is out of order.

Mr Bartolucci: -- clearly out of control, running down the hall. I had to jump away in order to avoid being trampled. Again, precedent; subsection 21(a), interfering with my right to do business.


The Speaker: Order.

Mr Bartolucci: Mr Speaker, I ask you to find the answers to a few very simple questions. First, who authorized the invasion of my office? I would like to know who authorized the invasion into my office. Second, who authorized the charge down the hall when there was clearly no one at risk in the halls of the Whitney Block? Third, I'd like you to try to find out the answer to why the caucus assistant to the Premier, a Mr King, who was trying to be a movie star with his dynamic pretending of being pushed aside, was almost leading the charge. I ask that you investigate and, in fairness to everyone, I ask also for a public inquiry so that we can get to the bottom of this in a realistic, honest way.

Mr Bud Wildman (Algoma): We've come to a pretty piece here in Ontario. As a member of this Legislature, of this Legislative Assembly, for over 20 years, we've seen more disruptions and confrontation outside of this place in the last number of months than we have in almost 20 years previous to June 1995.

I want to say I am very concerned about some of the comments that are being made by some of the people across the way, not by all. The view seems to be that those of us who are requesting that you consider and agree to a public inquiry into the decisions that led to the police action yesterday somehow are condoning violence or violence on a picket line. That is hardly the case.

We are being very clear here. This place, as we all know, is a public place to which members should have access. The people who were picketing yesterday were also engaged in legal picketing activity related to a legal strike. The question is whether the approach taken by you to go through the courts to deal with the problem was the appropriate one, which we believe it was. If that was the appropriate one, why then did this occur?

I'm not just quoting from the press or referring to what I saw on television last night, and I watched it on two different stations, one after the other. The fact is that I saw police lined up in the corridors hitting their batons on their shields and then running in order, initially in order, down the hall and out the door and then forming what looked like an attempt to form a V-shaped wedge and going into the crowd and then appearing to lose complete control and to just batter people.

It's interesting that in the press this morning it states that a staff inspector, the second in command of the Metro police 52 division, was lashed across her right wrist as she blocked an OPP nightstick that was aimed at a striker. I want to make clear I'm very serious about this. Another individual, a striker, who happens to be a probation officer and a parole officer employed by this government, was knocked unconscious with a gash on his head after being struck by a nightstick and had to be taken to the hospital.

Is that an appropriate response to the fact that people were having difficulty entering the building? Is it an appropriate response? It has been suggested by some across the way that because verbal insults and pushing occurred, and in some cases I understand someone said they were spat upon, that meant we should take a decision to unleash this squad of OPP officers, without warning apparently, against a legal picket line and to hit people.

This is the assembly that belongs to the people of the province. The reason we're saying, all of us, that we should have access is because it belongs to the people of the province. Is it necessary, is it appropriate, that we should have to witness this kind of police action, in essence, in protecting members here from members of the public who are engaged in legal activity? Why could we not have taken a more serious approach, a balanced approach, to await the outcome of the decision of the court?


We need to know who made the decisions. We need to know who decided that the OPP should be called in. We need to know what the relationship was between the OPP and the Metropolitan Toronto Police in giving advice to those who made the decisions. Then we need to know how those decisions were carried out and were orders carried out properly. Central to this is who made the decisions and why. Did the police then lose control of the situation to the extent it appeared from television last night?

It's important that such an inquiry be public, that it should not simply be the police investigating themselves and making a report. It's important that all those involved -- members, staff, strikers, members of the public and police -- should be able to explain what they saw and what happened, in a public way. In our view, the only way that can occur is if it is a full, public inquiry under the Public Inquiries Act.

I would hope that you would agree with our request for that and advise the members of the assembly that you would support it. In our view, that's the only way this can be properly aired, that the whole situation can be calmed and we can ensure that security around this place is handled in future in a way that does not lead to what appeared to be a situation where the police got out of control.

Mr Robert Chiarelli (Ottawa West): Mr Speaker, I'm rising on a question of privilege. It has to do with my access to this building as an elected member of the Legislature, and I'm sure it applies to everybody in this House.

As you're aware, Mr Speaker, there is a memorandum of understanding, which has been signed and has been effective since January 1993 dealing with security in this place. It's an agreement between the Ministry of the Solicitor General and the Speaker on behalf of the assembly, on behalf of me as a member and other members in here. I'm saying to you, Mr Speaker, that my privileges have been breached in that I was not given secure access to this place in a reasonable manner, in a manner which should have been provided.

I want to refer to several sections of this memorandum of agreement, and I think it's right on point and it refers to some of the questions which have been raised by the member for Algoma with which I concur.

The agreement states under section 8.3.1, "Where the assembly determines or the ministry" -- that's the Ministry of the Solicitor General -- "recommends that a special event or situation within the legislative precinct requires a level of security greater than that normally provided under this memorandum of understanding, such an increased level of security shall be provided jointly by the OPP and the OGPS," which is the Ontario Government Protective Service. It goes on and it has a subsection, and this is the relevant part, "In any case referred to in section 8.3.1, a security plan shall be prepared by the ministry" -- that's of the Solicitor General -- "and provided to the assembly prior to the event or situation."

Now, Mr Speaker, clearly, with the OPSEU strike on, the picketers having been out there, clearly, with everything in the media that we saw over the course of the weekend that there will be a problem here in terms of access and in terms of security, the Ministry of the Solicitor General ought to have been aware of it, you ought to have been aware of it, and in my opinion you and the Solicitor General ought to have abided by the rule of law, the provisions of this memorandum of agreement.

I am asking you, Mr Speaker, to conduct a public inquiry and to provide the answers to several questions.

In the opinion of the assembly or the Speaker, was there a level of security greater than that normally provided? Was it that type of situation? In my opinion, clearly it was. Was there a security plan provided as required by the memorandum of understanding? If there was not a security plan provided, why not? If there was a security plan provided, why was it not provided to the assembly? And I ask you to define what "providing it to the assembly" means. Does that mean secretly to the Speaker? Does it mean providing that plan to the assembly is providing it to you and you will discuss it with the House leaders?

We need answers to these questions not only in response to what happened yesterday, but to future situations. So I'm saying to you, and I'm raising a point of privilege, that my privileges have been breached, because I saw no plan. I have not been advised by my House leader or any House leader that the assembly has been provided with a security plan as required by agreement.

With all due respect, I'm asking you to provide the answers to these questions through a public inquiry.

Mr Chris Stockwell (Etobicoke West): First and foremost, I would like to say, very personally -- and I suppose you can say it universally -- that no one in this Legislature would condone wanton acts of violence. That would be a given. And I don't think anyone would speak --

Mr Gilles Bisson (Cochrane South): You can check with Mike Harris.

Mr Stockwell: I think that's truly an unfair comment, to the member from Cochrane.

I will further state that from considering the situation of yesterday, there is a fundamental disagreement between OPSEU and this government. Without debate, that is out there in the public forum.

There are going to be differences of opinion and disagreements that take place. The leader of the New Democratic Party has suggested he has not seen in the last number of years as many public demonstrations as he's seen in the past couple of months. I would agree with the member for Algoma. He's absolutely right. We, as the government of the day, duly elected, are carrying forward on a platform of policies that, by and large, some sectors of this province are vehemently opposed to.

I am here to say -- and I rise on this point of privilege -- that I allow for those kinds of disagreements. I allow that people will want to congregate out front of this place and demonstrate against this government. That is the freedom of a democratic process. I understand that this group, OPSEU, has withdrawn their services and we are in a strike. I accept that. I accept further that they are going to picket the entrances to this building and stop those members and their staff coming in and give them their 15 or 20 minutes or half-hour, whatever it takes, to convince them that crossing that picket line is wrong. I accept that too. I accept all those particulars.

I accept the fact that sometimes the police are put in a very, very awkward situation, because they're damned if they do and they're damned if they don't in a lot of respects. I think most reasonable people would at least consider the difficult nature that the police found themselves in yesterday. But when you review this situation --

Ms Frances Lankin (Beaches-Woodbine): We said that.

Mr Stockwell: I say to the member for Beaches-Woodbine, when you review this situation and report back to this House, you must remember one important fact: This is a democracy, this is a democratically elected government, and this is the cradle of democracy in this province.

I myself tried, and the staff that I work with, for three hours to peaceably cross that line, not pushing nor arguing. And we -- not just myself -- were intimidated, we were shoved, we had whistles blown in our ears, and no access was given. At one point during that time, the chant went up: "No one in. No one out." It seems to me that the game plan yesterday was to shut democracy down. I will not be party to that.

Mr Speaker, when you review this tape, when you review the action, I understand there's some concern with the police, but understand, anyone who counsels people to shut democracy down is counselling, in my opinion, anarchy. I will not be party to anarchy. This is a democracy. I was elected; I will serve.


Mr Dominic Agostino (Hamilton East): I find it interesting and amazing that members across the floor will speak of anarchy and will speak of democracy. It is hypocrisy at its best. Let me tell you, no one disagrees with the fundamental principle that legislators of all political parties should have free access and should be able to get safely into this building. No one on any side of the House would disagree with that.

The point we are making on this side -- and I saw the riot squad, the Star Wars team run through the Whitney Block, run by my office -- is the level of force that was used. Members across -- the gentleman in the back is waving away as to why he thinks it's funny to see people have their heads bashed in. I don't agree with that. Maybe that's the Tory way in Ontario. There's a difference between allowing free and safe access, there's a difference between the police helping members who may have a tough time on the government side of the House getting into this building, and the riot squad being called in to bash heads and bust knees in order to clear the gauntlet for the Tory ministers to hop over that fence and run into the building.

That was the message we saw on television last night. That is the message that you want to send out across Ontario, across this country and across this continent, that in Ontario we send riot squads to bash heads and break knees to allow legislators to get in, because that is the only way it can be done. I don't agree with that.

I think the question, Mr Speaker, that you have to look at and that is important to the way we operate here is, fundamentally, who gave the orders? Was it a police decision? Was it an OPP local decision? Was there consultation with the Metro police department, which appeared to be shunned and pushed aside yesterday? The Metro police officers, who patrol and work in this region and do a great job, were shunted aside yesterday. They were taken over by the OPP. Who gave those orders? Most importantly, the question is, was there political involvement in the orders they were given? That is fundamental to be asked.

People across this province must be assured that what happened yesterday, the mistake that happened outside yesterday was not as a result of political orders being given on the government side of the House, because that is dangerous, that is not how we operate. The principle of police being independent and free of government is essential regardless of where you stand on this. That has to be answered and it can only be answered through doing it openly, publicly and ensuring that all of the key players who were involved in yesterday's decisions are being brought forward to answer the questions that are necessary.

God help us if there was political involvement in yesterday's decision, because that really then becomes anarchy, that really becomes the opposite of everything we stand for. The scenes we saw yesterday were scenes that we saw in past years in South Africa, not scenes that should be repeated in the front of this Legislature again. Mr Speaker, I ask you to come forward and assure this House that there was no political direction given yesterday to send the riot squad after those protesters outside.

Mr Peter Kormos (Welland-Thorold): There are certain images that are etched in our collective memories: the imagery that was transmitted from Selma, Alabama, in the 1950s and the early 1960s; but a decade later the imagery from Richard Daley's Chicago; the imagery from Pinochet's Chile.

When I presented to this House yesterday on a point of privilege what had been relayed to me by witnesses to this assault on lawfully assembled people, I tell you, Speaker, I had no idea that it was as violent and disturbing, and as thorough and aggressive and excessive a violation of the rights of Ontarians and Canadians to collectively assemble, that it was as strong an abuse of police power and that it was as bloody an assault on people who had gathered to express a viewpoint and gathered in a way that was peaceful, democratic and indeed traditionally acceptable in our society.

But, you see, this image now, this image of Toronto, Ontario, has been broadcast across Canada, across North America and I'm confident internationally. I tell you, Speaker, it joins the imagery that I spoke of, along with others.

What's bothersome is that there was anticipation of a large number of people outside the Legislature. I read, Speaker, your comments in the weekend press, in which you indicated an anticipation of a large number of people being gathered outside this assembly. I read the comments of the Sergeant at Arms, in which he, not inappropriately, acknowledged his anticipation of a large number of people. Clearly, the fact that government lawyers were in court here in Toronto at the beginning of the day on Monday seeking an injunction again indicates that the government was well aware that there was going to be a large gathering of OPSEU women and men, of supporters from other unions and of the general public who supported the interests and the rights of OPSEU members to establish picket lines.

Much has been said, and I'm not sure how thoughtfully, about democracy. But the fact is that in democracy the rule of law must prevail, and the fact is that the process to be utilized in dealing with issues that have been complained of, like difficult access, is that you go to court, as the government did, seek, and if you're successful with your argument, obtain an injunction.

The OPP riot squad surely knew or ought to have known and the people giving directions to that squad knew or ought to have known that at the very moment that they were bludgeoning, literally violently attacking, bloodying, Ontarians lawfully engaged in their right to picket, they knew or ought to have known that at the very same time, government lawyers were in the course of obtaining an injunction in Toronto courts.

Frankly, Speaker, the message that this sends out -- and again, as I say, when I relayed this information first yesterday afternoon I literally had no idea of the seriousness of it, as was portrayed in the press coverage and in the videotaping that was broadcast on news, as I say, not just in Ontario, but -- you know it, Speaker -- internationally last night. We witnessed, and the people of this province witnessed, surely what goes beyond merely heavy-handed. We witnessed a violent abuse of police force.

And the purpose -- reflect on this, please, Speaker. It's clear, and when one reads the press report, the author in the Toronto Star indicates that the gathering of people, the gathering of strikers, was angry but not violent. There's no suggestion that there was any violence being exercised.

Further, and this has been referred to, after the completion of the assault by the police on these women and men -- and don't forget, Speaker, and I don't know if you witnessed the people gathered outside, but there were children there too; there were seniors there too. And the police waded into, barged into, in a cavalry approach style, this group of people, swinging away with their batons and going far beyond intimidating, going far beyond crowd control, but engaging in what I tell you, Speaker, constituted violent assaults on members of the public.

You know, Speaker, that the police have certain powers of arrest. I'm not aware of them exercising any of their powers of arrest yesterday, such that a person who's arrested could avail himself or herself of the due process that our law avails them of, or provides to them. You also know that the Criminal Code provides for certain powers under certain circumstances to disperse crowds of people. Similarly, I'm not aware and I believe sincerely that there was no exercise of any of those powers under the Criminal Code to disperse crowds of people. As well, Speaker, you know that police have powers of arrest that do not entail the laying of charges, and that's purportedly to protect public peace or to maintain public order.


Once again, there's no suggestion that any of the police involved in this attack on Ontario's citizens utilized that power given them by the code; rather, they engaged in a violent exercise, none of which is sanctioned by either the Criminal Code, certainly is not only not sanctioned but it's contrary, I tell you, Speaker, to some very fundamental rights that are enshrined in the Charter of Rights and Freedoms. It was the most violent attack that one could witness. I tell you, Speaker, it has marked Ontario now for all time. I would like to make comparisons historically, but even Mitch Hepburn's Ontario, the anti-worker Ontario of Mitch Hepburn, failed to raise levels of violence that were as unconscionable as what we witnessed yesterday.

I've listened carefully, as all of us have, to the member for Durham West. She tries to paint a somewhat contrary picture of this. In my view, the fact that the member for Durham West would appear to want to justify, along with some of her colleagues, the conduct of the police yesterday -- I haven't heard any condemnation of the conduct of the police, none of us have, other than from the opposition members. That cries out, I tell you, Speaker, clearly for the need for there to be a full, independent and public inquiry.

In view of the fact that the events of yesterday are not solitary, that there appears to have been an escalation in the level of violence being employed by armed and uniformed personnel against people attending at or near Queen's Park and the Parliament Building, witness back to the very opening of this Parliament, in view of the fact that there's an escalation of violence with its pinnacle being reached yesterday, I tell you, Speaker, there is no time for delaying a demand, a call, for the inception of an independent and very public inquiry.

Speaker, I exhort you to join in this call for an inquiry into what happened yesterday. I exhort you to insist that that inquiry take place promptly. I tell you, Speaker, I've received phone calls, as has every other member of this Legislature, I'm sure, from persons who were literal witnesses to these violent attacks, these crimes by the police. This is Ontario and we're speaking in the Legislature about crimes by the police. This is so contrary to what all of us expected to be doing in 1996, to be addressing the matter of crimes by the police. Who do these members of the public, who do these people call upon? They've been attacked, they've been victimized by the police.

The purpose of the police exercise, I reiterate, was to facilitate the entry by Tory members through legal picket lines, access by Tory members past legal picket lines, when the Tory members already had a mechanism in place, the government already had a process in place, and that was the suit for an injunction in our courts.

An inquiry must be held promptly, it must be thorough, it must be public. I tell you, Speaker, people are increasingly frightened about attending at Queen's Park for fear of this sort of violence. That cannot be allowed to happen. We can't be allowed to put up barricades of fear. The people of Ontario must remain confident that they can attend at Queen's Park without fear of being beaten up, battered to the ground, bloodied up, assaulted, sent to the hospital by the government's police forces. I tell you that, Speaker.

The Speaker: Does somebody have something further to add, some new information on Mr Cooke's point of privilege?

Mr Mario Sergio (Yorkview): Indeed, I would like to bring to the House and to yourself, Mr Speaker, a different point of view with respect to the happenings of yesterday around Queen's Park here. Yes, I do share the concern, as most members do, with the events that have taken place. But it didn't really sink in until this morning when I started to get calls into my office with respect to what people had seen on the news, on the screen all yesterday until the evening hours.

Really, it didn't sink in until I got a call from a school principal who was just about to finalize a trip down to Queen's Park, to the place where it is so important to take these school children, to show the place where some important decisions, directions and leadership come into their homes. I don't have to tell you that I had to listen for about 15 minutes at how appalled that principal was. But most of the concern came not so much from him; it came from the parents who called the school and the school principal. Sadly, do you know what they wanted to know? Is it safe to take the kids on the excursion to Queen's Park. This goes very, very deep. It's very profound. It's very traumatic to the parents and the school children. I wonder, Mr Speaker, if this is the image and the message that you as Speaker of this House and we as members of this House want to convey to the people and the kids in our province. I don't think so. I don't think any of us want to do that.

I go as far as agreeing with my colleague Chris Stockwell that we do not condone violence around this place. That's as far as I go with his comment, by the way. Mr Speaker, I also totally agree with previous speakers, especially the member for Windsor-Riverside and Mr Chiarelli, the member for Ottawa West, that I think you are responsible and I think direction has been given to conduct a full inquiry into the matter.

When our people, and especially young people, are so much concerned if it's safe to come down to Queen's Park, then we have a severe problem. Let me say this without offending the other side: The situation yesterday was not brought about or on by the strikers but by whoever gave directions to call in the squad. We could have accused the strikers if indeed the government had provided itself with the injunction or a court order, whatever, as it said it was going to do. Why didn't they do it?

I'm sorry; if you're pointing the finger at the Speaker, I think the Speaker will have an opportunity to come back to this House and address the House on this very particular issue. So I thank you for your finger, honourable member.

I think the government perhaps would have been somewhat excused if it had provided this House and the people out there and the strikers with that particular piece of paper, if you will, that injunction or court order, and then gone outside and met the strikers and said, "Look, we have a legal piece of paper to enter the House peacefully." If there was a time where common sense should have prevailed and been used, it was an occasion like yesterday. I have to say, very sadly, that the government, or whoever gave direction, if it was you, Mr Speaker -- and I apologize for addressing you on this particular issue if it was indeed you, Mr Speaker -- then I think we are in a very, very sad situation because if the strikers had been presented with the opportunity that, "Either you let us in with an injunction here, a court order, or we have to find other means," then I think the government or yourself, Mr Speaker, could have been excused. So why didn't you or why didn't they or why didn't the leader do that? Why did they have to bring the squad team, the republican army, if you will, and barge their way into this House?

I totally agreed with the member for Windsor-Riverside when he said, "Couldn't we have adjourned the House for an hour or so until a court order would have been provided and then met the strikers and said, `We have a legal right to enter the House'?" I think the situation was totally mishandled, totally lacked direction, totally lacked leadership and was certainly a total lack of common sense.

I don't want to indulge in the issues, because I think it is a very serious issue. It is neither funny, nor does it set a precedent which I as a member of this House and you as the Speaker or any member of this House should be proud of.

I join the other members to call on you and make sure that actions are in place so that actions like this will not be repeated at the people's place.


M. Gilles Pouliot (Lac-Nipigon) : J'aimerais attirer votre attention sur le livre de règlements, page 15, «Les privilèges», et je cite :

«Les privilèges sont les droits dont jouissent les membres de l'Assemblée législative, collectivement et individuellement, en vertu de la Loi sur l'Assemblée législative et d'autres lois, ou en vertu de la pratique, des précédents et des usages.»

Chers collègues, hier, comme membre de l'Assemblée, j'ai vu de mes yeux, d'une part, un conflit de travail où les frères et ses soeurs les syndiqués exerçaient leur droit démocratique ici, comme mon collègue a mentionné plutôt, dans le bastion de la démocratie, ou la voix de la démocratie, si vous voulez, des gens qui avaient démocratiquement exercé leur droit de retirer leur labeur. Tout est légal jusqu'à maintenant.

J'ai vu hier sur le terrain de l'Assemblée législative ces mêmes gens dans certains cas -- non universellement, il faut le dire -- étant victimes de façon délibérée, certains diront de façon systématique, d'un excès de force. Certains, certaines, dieu merci et dieu en est témoin, en petits nombres jusqu'à maintenant, sont tombés sous les coups d'une force organisée.

Jamais je n'aurais cru qu'ici en Ontario dans notre beau pays, comme on le prononce, comme on le dit, le cite en latin, l'equilibrium, cette balance au nom d'une soi-disant démocratie, l'honneur, le respect dont nous jouissons tous, aurait été ternie, non que le record était tout à fait immaculé. Mais ce genre d'incident prend des proportions extraordinaires et amène des questions quand on examine le passé récent depuis que l'Assemblée est revenue il y a quelque mois, jusqu'à hier, aujourd'hui et demain. Je demande, le coupable, c'est qui ? Qui a donné l'ordre ? Qui nous a mis dans ce pétrin ? Mais qu'est-ce qui se passe ? Les gens de mon comté, comme nous tous, les gens qui paient mon salaire et un peu du vôtre ont accès à l'écran de télévision. Ce sont des gens paisibles. Ces gens parlent peu. Ces gens paient continuellement, mais espèrent que l'avenir sera un peu meilleur, donc ils sont confrontés chez nous, et chez vous aussi, avec l'image d'une violence sans précédent.

Je me joins à mes collègues en conclusion parce que moi aussi j'ai peur. Vous savez ce qui me fait peur ? Je vais le partager avec vous ; vous êtes un homme instruit, vous êtes une personne intelligente. On va se parler au nom des autres. On va faire ça ensemble. J'ai peur que le respect et l'honneur, au nom de la démocratie qui était mentionnée par mon collègue M. Stockwell, en prennent de façon mauvaise un coup. Ce n'est pas juste. Mais je ne veux pas venir ici, travailler au nom de mes concitoyens, étant chargé d'un fardeau extraordinaire. Promettez-nous à travers une enquête pour que tous sachent que ce sont eux qui nous protègent ici à l'Assemblée. Il s'agit de rétablir la confiance à travers l'équilibre. Je ne demande pas plus, mais pas moins que cela non plus.

Mr James J. Bradley (St Catharines): I'll try to be brief and to the point on this. As a member who has been in the Legislature since 1977, I cannot recall a time where there has been more tension and more confrontation taking place than I have seen in the last few months, since the summer of the past year. I don't think it's an image which is very good for our province. One of the things we've been proud of -- and all parties have been part of this, whether it's the Conservative Party, which ruled this province for 42 years, an unprecedented period of time in a democracy, I think, and then the Liberal Party and then the NDP, and now the Conservative Party again.

What we saw was an image of our province which was rather favourable, an image of moderation, an image of conciliation, an image of being able to get along well together, one of which we could all be justifiably proud and for which we could pay tribute to one another and people throughout history.

That image has changed considerably. I recognize that part of it is because there are honest but profound differences of opinion on the direction the province should go. I personally do not agree that the present administration is moving in the right direction, in terms of how fast it's moving, how drastically it's moving and how it's moving without, in my view, taking into consideration the ramifications of its actions. Be that as it may, that's not really the point we look at today. It's the point of confrontation in this province, and it's exemplified by what has been happening around this building for the past several months.

I know there's an inclination on the part of a government -- perhaps there would be some on the government benches and perhaps some who advise the government who believe it's very good to project an image of strength and to have a Premier who is seen as a "tough guy" who will look at the special-interest groups and keep them in line and will stand fast for what he says he believes in. It's very tempting for those who are advising premiers to project that kind of image, because it can be very effective politically to do that.

I don't think, however, that helps the atmosphere in the province in the long run. I expect the government's going to stick to its guns in certain circumstances. I fully expect that. But to go out of its way, in my personal opinion -- there may be others who disagree -- to pick a fight with people, to confront people, is not healthy for the democracy in which we live. I know there are some out there who may dislike intently those who are opposed to the government, who may feel it's time those people were put in their place, as some would say on the government side, but I don't think it's helpful to do that as well.


I hope nobody over there is enjoying what's happening in Ontario. I don't think anybody is. I don't think any of us who turn on the television set are happy, particularly if you flick to American channels to see the image of Ontario being projected across the border. I don't think any of us want to see that. I hope we can find a way of avoiding that.

When I think of a government of people like Bob Welch and Tom Wells and Roy McMurtry, and when you had perhaps others who were advising along the line like Hugh Segal, these were people who were moderates. Yes, they were Conservatives, but they were moderate at the same time. They could find that consensus which was so important to this province.

I didn't think and I don't think -- and this is a subjective evaluation, I understand that -- that some of the comments of the Premier recently have been helpful. They may rally the troops and they may project a certain image, but I don't think they've been entirely helpful. I would hope that some of the caucus would advise that a more conciliatory approach would be helpful.

Mr Speaker, you and I perhaps saw through the television set or read through our newspapers of the huge rally in Hamilton, over 100,000 people. It was a relatively peaceful rally that took place in Hamilton. There weren't the violent confrontations. I know that some on the government benches may have misinterpreted that as somewhat of a non-event. "These people were being very peaceful, they weren't being confrontational, therefore we can ignore them." I think instead it would have been important to reach out to that group of people, a lot of them middle Ontario. There are always going to be some radicals, there are always going to be some extreme people within a group, but overwhelmingly it was pretty well middle Ontario that had assembled in Hamilton that day.

I think they have advised you, members of the Legislature, on what you can do. There's been a call for an inquiry, and I think that would be helpful, because I found the images that I saw on television made me feel very uneasy when I saw the club-swinging. I understand how difficult it is for security forces in these circumstances, but when I saw those images of the police banging their batons on their protective material, like an army charging around, I was very concerned to see that for our province.

I guess what I would recommend, outside of what has been recommended, is that the government, because the government has most of the levers at its hands, abandon the politics of confrontation and embark upon the politics of conciliation and consensus. I think if we're able to do this, we'll move Ontario, in terms of the deportment of people, in terms of our democracy, back in the direction in which we would all agree it should be moving.

The Speaker: I'd like to thank all members for their input on this very, very, very important issue. I will reserve and get back.


Mr John C. Cleary (Cornwall): Mr Speaker, on another point of order: I want to speak about another very important issue that faces every resident in this province. I don't know whether Team Harris knows the hardship they are causing many in this province. I'm talking about the farmers and the owners of provincially inspected plants, some of whom are finding themselves in very deep financial problems. I know that livestock and poultry don't stop growing, as you well know, Mr Speaker.

On a call-in show I was a guest on at the weekend that was the top issue: the meat inspection and the problems it's causing the residents of Ontario. I know this government and the Tory members say they have a backup plan in place. They don't have a backup plan in place. They didn't consult with people before this happened, and it's not working. I just want to know what they're doing about it.


Mr David S. Cooke (Windsor-Riverside): Mr Speaker, I know after listening to the representations to you, you've indicated you're now going to reserve judgement. I must say, on behalf of my caucus anyway, how unsatisfactory that response is. You knew, you had to know, based on what happened around this place yesterday, that this matter was going to be raised in detail and that we were going to be looking to you for leadership on how this matter would be reviewed.

All we got today, after there was total agreement between the two opposition parties and some agreement even from the government party that there had to be something to review this, is: "I'll review it. Let's get on to question period." That is unacceptable based on what happened around this place yesterday. We cannot allow this place to continue without something more substantial. It is not acceptable. This is not business as usual. This is chaos.

The Speaker (Hon Allan K. McLean): The honourable member was well aware that yesterday I had indicated that I had asked for a full review on this. Today there has been a lot more input from all members who have spoken on a point of privilege, and I hope that you wouldn't expect me to make a decision today on all I've heard in this Legislature, so I am reserving my judgement.

Mr Cooke: Mr Speaker, at the very least I think we can expect that you will tell us -- because last October when we raised matters of concern about the demonstration then, you said there was going to be an internal review, and we got nothing for months. You've got to tell us if there will be some public process or that you support some public process. This is unacceptable. It can't be swept under the carpet.

The Speaker: The member is well aware that there has been a committee looking into the very issues that were raised, and we would anticipate that tomorrow that committee will be making a report. The issue is closed.

Mr Howard Hampton (Rainy River): On a point of privilege, Mr Speaker: This institution has a place of honour in the province. People look to this institution. What people are seeing on television, not just in this province but internationally, is something that looks more like a police state. For you, Speaker, to say, "Well, I will consider it," and then put it off is frankly not giving this matter the gravity and the attention that it deserves. Speaker, all of us belong in this place and all of us are concerned --

The Speaker: Order. You cannot consider all the evidence and the speeches that I have heard today and ask me to make a decision on it now.



Mrs Lyn McLeod (Leader of the Opposition): My first question is for the Solicitor General, who is responsible for the Ontario Provincial Police and is therefore accountable to this Legislature for the behaviour of the OPP riot squad yesterday.

Mr Speaker, I suggest to you that it is not just legislators who were sickened by what happened yesterday. People who watched the television coverage, who saw the photos in the newspapers and who heard the radio reports were shocked and they were disturbed by what can only be described as excessive violence used by the riot squad officers. People were shocked to see images of riot squad police using billy clubs on the citizens of this province. You have to be dismayed that this is what Ontario has come to eight months after the start of the revolution.

There is no question and no disagreement that the people who were on the picket line had a legitimate right to be there and to protest. There is no question that we would all have expected tempers to be high. These people had been on strike for some three weeks. We don't argue that there was a need for assistance for Tory MPPs, who have been provocative over the course of the last three weeks, to cross that picket line.

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

Mrs McLeod: But nothing that happened on that picket line warranted the excessive force that we saw used yesterday. I want to ask you, Minister, were you aware that the OPP riot squad was going to be used yesterday? If you were, will you tell us when the riot squad was first brought in to the legislative precincts? Will you tell us what procedures the members of the riot squad were instructed to use in dealing with the strikers, and will you tell us whether in fact you did prepare a security plan and provide that to the assembly prior to the return of the Legislature yesterday, as you were required to do?

Hon Bob Runciman (Solicitor General and Minister of Correctional Services): The plan was prepared by the legislative security services and submitted and signed by the Sergeant at Arms. So the memo of understanding was followed.


Mrs McLeod: Then I think the first step in a public inquiry into what happened yesterday is for the Solicitor General, who was responsible for preparing that plan and for making it available to the assembly, to table that plan so that we in fact do know what instructions were given to the riot squad police and who ordered them to go in yesterday, because what we saw yesterday was a bullying government that, quite frankly, got what every bully wants: a fight and a confrontation. There is no question that, whoever ultimately yesterday at that hour ordered the riot squad to go in, this government was expecting a fight, they were looking for a fight and indeed it is my understanding, Minister, that the riot squad was in this building the first day that the strike began.

I can tell you that aside from the shock of the images of violence we saw yesterday and the injuries that were suffered, the most disturbing aspect of yesterday's violence was what it says about the political climate that has been created by this government in this province, and it is a climate of bullying and confrontation that has been fuelled from the first day that this government took office. It's the kind of bullying and confrontation that we saw from this government when it rammed Bill 26 through this Legislature and it is the kind of bullying and confrontation that we have seen from this government in dealing with this civil service strike from the time it used its legislative bullying powers to strip away rights until it ordered in the riot squads yesterday.

The Speaker: Would you put your question, please.

Mrs McLeod: Minister, I ask if you will acknowledge that the actions of the riot squad members were excessive. Did they exceed what you would have put into your plan for ensuring security that you tabled with the assembly? Will you tell us, given what happened yesterday, what steps you will take to ensure that this type of behaviour is never repeated.

The Speaker: The question has been asked.

Hon Mr Runciman: I can't comment on all of the complaints that have been levied by the leader with respect to the activities of the OPP. I do know that in my own personal circumstance the Minister of Transportation, the member for Oshawa and myself had to be escorted into Frost South and we had to literally run about 150 feet through a horde of people who were physically attacking the line of police trying to protect us to gain entry into the building. So in that particular instance, the one that I was very much involved in, I thought the police acted in a most responsible way.

With respect to the other allegations surrounding the conduct of the police, there are procedures and mechanisms in place for complaints to be filed. At the police complaints commission, there are already, I understand, two complaints that are possibly filed; at least they've been filed with the police service and may be formally filed with the police complaints commission, and perhaps others will follow. That's the procedure to be followed. This is the committee chaired by Justice Lapkin, an impartial body that will decide on the facts of the case.

Mrs McLeod: I suggest that it was not the protesters who called in the dogs yesterday, and it wasn't strikers who were holding attack drills of the riot squads in the hallways of the legislative precincts. I would suggest let's not get into a debate about provocation and where provocation arose, because for the last three weeks of this strike we have seen a government and government members who have almost relished the confrontation, a government that has taken pride in being able to put on a tough face and to tell the people of this province that they're standing up to anybody who opposes them and opposes their agenda. This is a government that takes pride in being able to talk about slashing jobs and closing down hospitals and laying off teachers. That is provocation. That is a government that is bent on creating a climate of confrontation that indeed was the basis for yesterday's violence. It is creating a climate of confrontation that sadly has turned the legislative grounds into a war zone.

Minister, it's not enough to respond to what happened yesterday by simply saying that there are some procedures in place. What is needed, as many members have said, is a full, open and public investigation into what happened yesterday on the picket line. I ask you, as the minister responsible for the Ontario Provincial Police, to commit to a full and open investigation of the actions of the riot squad yesterday.

Hon Mr Runciman: The investigations that I mentioned may occur if there are formal complaints levied with the police complaints commission will not preclude any review of the occurrence by the Speaker. He's indicated earlier that he is going to respond to those requests.

In respect to the other allegations, the Leader of the Opposition has opted to attack the police officers, good men and women in this province, in my view, on the basis of what happened yesterday. We've heard allegations about the activities of the police in the hallways, and I can understand the concerns of laypeople with respect to those activities, but when they're dealing with those kinds of situations, this is a normal part of the process dealing with crowd control. It is a normal part of the process. I ask anyone who's served in this capacity, the former Solicitor General. This is a way of sending out a message to the crowd that we are coming and it's part of the normal process. I understand the suspicions of laypeople in dealing with these situations, but we're talking about a relatively small group --


Hon Mr Runciman: I guess they don't want to hear an answer, Mr Speaker.

The Speaker: Order. Minister?

Hon Mr Runciman: We're talking about a relatively small group of police officers having to go out and face hundreds, if not thousands, of protesters. I think under those circumstances we have to sit back and assess the challenge that they faced as well.

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

Mrs McLeod: Mr Speaker, obviously that issue is not over. I'm not going to pursue it beyond the call for there to be a full and open inquiry, because I am absolutely astounded that I've just heard the Solicitor General of this province seeming to condone the kind of violence that we saw directed against citizens of this province yesterday.

The Speaker: Who's your new question to?

Mrs McLeod: Mr Speaker, it's obviously very difficult to move to any other issue. There's been much discussion about the intimidation of members of the Legislature wanting to come into this place in order to do the business of the province. I can tell you, there is nothing more intimidating for me than the climate of seige which has been created around this building.

The Speaker: Who's your question to? Have you got a question?


Mrs Lyn McLeod (Leader of the Opposition): I think it's important that we somehow find a way of putting in context what happened yesterday with the agenda of this government and the reality of the pain that's being caused to people across this province and that is going to dominate this session of the Legislature, because the climate of tension that's building across this province is not just around the Legislative Assembly; it is in every community of this province, where in the absence --

The Speaker (Hon Allan K. McLean): Who's the question to?

Mrs McLeod: I'm coming to the question, Mr Speaker.

The Speaker: Who are you asking the question to?

Mrs McLeod: I'm asking the question to the Minister of Finance, who is ultimately --


The Speaker: Put your question.


The Speaker: Order. The Leader of the Opposition.

Mrs McLeod: While this assembly has been adjourned, we have seen communities right across this province where thousands of teachers have received their pink slips. We have seen every community in this province affected by the fact that hundreds and hundreds of nurses' jobs and health care workers' jobs are on the line. We have seen support for special services at home withdrawn. And this government suggests that talking to the Minister of Finance about his agenda and the fact that it is being driven by a tax cut, by their determination to fulfil a totally irresponsible campaign promise that is causing people in this province this kind of pain, is some kind of social club question?


The Speaker: What's your question, please?

Mrs McLeod: I ask the Minister of Finance: Given the fact that according to Revenue Canada, there are 20,800 Ontarians who each earn over $250,000 a year -- each -- who under the Harris tax cut will get back a total of nearly half a billion dollars, why are you taking away the jobs of thousands of not only public sector workers but nurses and teachers to pay for a half-a-billion-dollar cash bonanza for the 23,000 wealthiest Ontarians?

Hon Ernie L. Eves (Deputy Premier, Minister of Finance and Government House Leader): In response to the Leader of the Opposition, we are not, despite her protestations to the contrary, taking away thousands of jobs of Ontarians to finance a tax cut, and she knows that full well. That is not the case in the province of Ontario. That is not what the government of Ontario is doing. That's the answer to the question.


The Speaker: Order. Supplementary.

Mrs McLeod: I can't imagine what the minister has just said to the people who were out on that picket line who don't know whether or not they're about to lose 13,000 jobs or 27,000 jobs, because we can't get a straight answer from Management Board or from the Minister of Finance, or what he's going to say to the teachers who got all the pink slips or the nurses who are being fired as we speak.

Minister, let me get you to focus on the question, because I believe that this pain is being driven by an irresponsible campaign promise and I think you know it is an irresponsible campaign promise.

According to Revenue Canada, there are a further 108,000 Ontarians who earn between $100,000 and $250,000 a year. Together, under the cash bonanza program for the wealthy, they will get nearly $1 billion back. All told, the top 128,000 earners in Ontario will receive $1.33 billion in tax rebates.

So I do ask you again: Why are teachers and nurses and public servants being fired, why are the oldest and the poorest Ontarians being asked to pay user fees on drugs, so that you can give $1.3 billion in a cash bonanza back to the wealthiest Ontarians?

The Speaker: The question's been asked.

Hon Mr Eves: The Leader of the Opposition is going to have to wait until the government tables its budget in late April or early May to see exactly what the tax cut is and who receives what. She knows that's the case. She's known that's the case since June 8.

I want to put the Leader of the Opposition's comments into their proper context. This government in the province of Ontario inherited an accumulated deficit of almost $100 billion. We inherited a government that spends $1 million an hour more than it takes in in revenue. The Leader of the Opposition may find that acceptable --


The Speaker: Order.

Hon Mr Eves: We don't relish the expenditure reductions that we have to make, but I can tell the Leader of the Opposition one thing: If we had followed down the path of David Peterson and Bob Rae, my children, their children's children and their children wouldn't have a future in the province of Ontario, because we'd be spending $20 billion a year in interest by the year 2000.

That is the legacy that you and you have left the people of Ontario.

The Speaker: Final supplementary.


The Speaker: Order.

Mrs McLeod: And so you, Minister, in the name of a campaign promise, are prepared to add $20 billion to the debt. Where is the common sense in that?

This minister talks about other governments --

Hon Mr Eves: You are as wrong as wrong can be.

The Speaker: Order.

Mrs McLeod: It is so clear what other government this government models itself after. In their ideological drive to bring in trickle-down economics, they want to follow the 12 years of trickle-down economics practised by Ronald Reagan and George Bush. Well, look what happened there, Minister, if you want an example of how your model works. It never trickled down, it just trickled up, and in the meantime the rich got richer and the poor got poorer and the gap between them got greater, and that is exactly what's happening in Mike Harris's Ontario.

Minister, I ask you again: How can you be so committed to delivering a $1.3-billion cash bonanza to the most well-to-do people in this province while you slash thousands and thousands of jobs and while you slash services to the poorest and the sickest and the youngest and the oldest people of this province?

The Speaker: The question has been asked.

Hon Mr Eves: Mr Speaker, I say through you to the Leader of the Opposition that a tax reduction to hardworking, honest, taxpaying Ontarians I know is a foreign thought to her party, and certainly is a foreign thought to the predecessor to this government.

But I can tell you one thing, raising taxes 65 times in the last 10 years, personal income taxes 11 times in the last 10 years, certainly has not solved the problem of the economy in the province of Ontario. If it had, unemployment would be zero, everybody in the province would have two jobs, and we would have a surplus this year instead of inheriting an $11.2-billion deficit from our predecessor government.

We are trying to put money back in the hands of honest, hardworking, taxpaying Ontarians.

Ms Frances Lankin (Beaches-Woodbine): Put money back in the hands of the rich.

Hon Mr Eves: I know you're against that. You said so during the election campaign. How did you do?


The Speaker: Would the House come to order, please. The member for Lake Nipigon is out of order, and I won't warn him again.

Member for Algoma, new question.

Mr Bud Wildman (Algoma): Interestingly enough, the experts from the Bank of Montreal and the Canadian Manufacturers' Association appearing before the committee have said that this tax cut will take money out of the economy, it will not produce jobs in this province. So it's not just the opposition saying it.

I'd like to ask a question of the --


The Speaker: Order. The member for Dufferin-Peel is out of order.

Mr Wildman: Your friends the bankers said that. They said they were going to pay down debt, they weren't going to spend money.


Mr Bud Wildman (Algoma): I've a question for the Deputy Premier. I'd like to return to the issue that was discussed at length at the outset of the session today, the images that we saw on the television last night, that some of us witnessed at first hand and that were reported in the press with the OPP riot squad clubbing its way through the crowd yesterday.

I want to make clear that in asking this question of the Deputy Premier we are not asking questions about the police action in itself per se, but who gave the orders, who made the decision and when that decision was made to call in the police riot squad, a squad that I saw on television a member of which was taunting the crowd -- it didn't look like a disciplined member of a police force to me -- which led to the injury of a member of the Metropolitan police who was trying to protect a striker, apparently from a blow being levied by a member of the OPP, and led one or two members of the strikers to be taken to hospital.


Since the Speaker has said he will take under advisement the proposal of our caucus and the Liberal caucus for a public inquiry under the Public Inquiries Act, will the Deputy Premier, on behalf of the government, keeping in mind the comments made by his leader yesterday that an appropriate investigation will be taken if there was inappropriate action, now agree to an independent public inquiry into the decisions that led to the police action yesterday under the Public Inquiries Act?

Hon Ernie L. Eves (Deputy Premier, Minister of Finance and Government House Leader): I want to say at the outset, and I think any member who knows me in the 15 years that I've been in this Legislature knows, that I certainly am concerned about the actions of many people, protestors and officers alike, in yesterday's activities.

I would like to say to the leader of the third party that for our caucus as well, our caucus chairman has written to the Speaker asking for a full report on yesterday's actions. I think it would behoove all of us in this chamber to take a few steps back, await the Speaker's report, see what it says. I for one would be more than pleased, on behalf of the government, to commit at the very least that that report will be sent to the Legislative Assembly committee. That committee, as the leader knows, has the full authority to call witnesses before it and to further investigate the matter.

But I think it would really be presumptuous of me or anybody, quite frankly, to make any further comment until we at least give the Speaker, who's charged with security in this place, an opportunity to table his report and see what it says.

Mr Wildman: With respect, that just is not adequate. We recall that in October commitments were made that there would be a report given. I understand that such a report would be prepared by the OPP, submitted to the Speaker and then provided to a committee, and that just didn't happen. We didn't get to it, and there were months of delay and nothing happened.

This is a matter of such great import that it must be dealt with immediately, and it must be dealt with in a public way. So I again reiterate my request that on behalf of the government the Deputy Premier commit to a public inquiry under the Public Inquiries Act, not a referral of a report to the Speaker to a legislative committee, but one that is under the procedures of the law that are well understood and will ensure that all of the issues, all of the decisions, will be looked into very carefully and understood clearly so that we can then make a decision subsequently, perhaps, as a Legislature on how to deal with proper security around this place.

Hon Mr Eves: I would say to the honourable member that I still believe we need to see the Speaker's response and report before we decide what the next step would be. I would say to the honourable member that I agree that whatever the solution is and whatever the report has in it should be public, but I think --

Mr David S. Cooke (Windsor-Riverside): Who is going to prepare the report?

Hon Mr Eves: That is the Speaker's function, I say to the member for Windsor-Riverside. The Speaker is going to report back to the members on yesterday's activities, and I think it behooves all of us to allow him that opportunity.

Mr Wildman: Again, with respect, I just refer to the report on the CTV National News last evening, and I'm quoting: "The police created a V-wedge. They got them in, then the riot squad stood there hitting the person standing in front of me trying to get out, hitting him in the back of the knee. It's about as big as a grapefruit. The police were out of control."

The question is, who will make the report to the Speaker? If you're simply requesting a report from the police on the police action, that isn't adequate. We want to go beyond the actions to the decisions that led to those actions, and that's why we need to have a report immediately and it's why this government must make it clear that they are prepared to have a full public airing of this matter under the Public Inquiries Act. So again, I ask the Deputy Premier to make clear that this government wants this matter aired in a public manner under the law that sets forward the procedures under that act.

Hon Mr Eves: I again say, I think that we at least owe it to the Speaker, who is charged with security in this place and on these precincts, to report back to the members --

Mr Gilles Pouliot (Lake Nipigon): You're stonewalling.

Hon Mr Eves: I am not stonewalling, I say to the member for Lake Nipigon, and he knows better than that.

I think that we should await that report from the Speaker and then we should collectively make a decision as to where we go from there.

Mr Wildman: Mr Speaker, I would go now, I guess, to the minister responsible for the police, the Solicitor General.

I remember very well on many occasions when the member for Leeds-Grenville sat on this side of the House, his approach to questions regarding police activity and issues related to whether or not decisions were made that were proper with regard to direction of the police. With that in mind, I would hope that this minister would be as disturbed as we are by reports in the public press attributed to a Metro Toronto police officer that the OPP tactical unit were "acting like animals." To understand the context of that in this province, this democratic province, a TV cameraman is quoted as saying, "They were just whaling away." We all saw the member of the OPP tactical squad blowing kisses to the crowd after the police activity.

With that in mind, would the Solicitor General, who has responsibility for the OPP, fulfil that responsibility by making a clear report as to the decisions around security around this place, who requested the tactical squad, the riot squad, to come to the Legislature, when that request was made and who made the decision to ask them to take action?

Hon Bob Runciman (Solicitor General and Minister of Correctional Services): I'm not certain about the protocol surrounding the release of the security plan that was submitted to the Sergeant at Arms by the security service in the Legislature, but certainly I'm prepared to take a look at what process is involved.


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

Hon Mr Runciman: If it's feasible, I'm sure it can be considered, but beyond that I cannot go.

At this point, I want to say there have been some suggestions of interference here, implications of that by both opposition parties, and I want to stress that the ministry in no way gets involved in operational decisions of police services. If we did, you would be the first to be on your feet charging us with political interference.

Mr Wildman: I guess it's a case of "That was then and this is now." Members of the squad were heard saying, "Use whatever force is necessary." Does the minister responsible for the OPP have any concerns about that? Is he concerned about what happened yesterday at all, or is he, as was quoted and as was repeated today by him, supporting the actions of the police and the decision that was made to bring them into this matter in the first place? Will the minister make clear what his view is as he understands the situation with regard to the measures taken by the police, the approach they took, and will he make clear what his view is of the decision to bring them into the situation in the first place?

Hon Mr Runciman: I'm not going to respond to anonymous allegations and hearsay. What I will say is the comments that were attributed to me yesterday dealt with my own personal experience and that of the Minister of Transportation and the member for Oshawa. That's all I could respond to directly: my own personal experience. I do not have any information on the other allegations that have been made.


I have indicated to you that there are processes available for complaints against the police. Those can be exercised. On the other allegations and charges surrounding the bigger question, if you will, on police conduct, the Speaker has made a commitment today to review that. Following the Deputy Premier's suggestion, I think we should await that report, and if indeed it calls for further action we can consider that at that time.

Mr Wildman: I'm very concerned about the Solicitor General's response. Can the Solicitor General explain? Does he not believe, as minister responsible for the OPP, that in making statements "that the police had handled themselves very well; they acted with great restraint in situations I observed because they were being provoked," and is he not concerned that he may by making those statements have prejudiced any type of investigation that takes place into this matter, because he has already made his position clear, it appears, that he believes the police were provoked and acted appropriately?

Hon Mr Runciman: The leader of the third party can paint it any way he wishes, and I'm sure he will. I indicated, I've indicated it here today, I indicated it yesterday, that I was responding to my own particular experience and that of two other members of my caucus. I wasn't talking about any other incident that occurred.


Mr Gerry Phillips (Scarborough-Agincourt): My question is to the Minister of Education and Training. It has to do with an issue that I think is consistent with what I regard as the bullying tactics of this government.

There is a highly regarded elementary school principal in my constituency who sent a letter to the community outlining her concerns around cutbacks in education. She then got from the minister's office, from his political staff, three phone calls, and here's what the principal wrote down verbatim. The principal is an individual whom I have a good deal of confidence in, and she said this is what your political staff said -- and I believe this to be the case -- to the principal: "You have overstepped your bounds as a principal. You have no business revealing information to your community in such a partisan manner." Then it goes on to say, "I am going to report you to your board and I'm going to talk to" -- and then your political staff named a reporter in a major Toronto daily. This is a verbatim quote from your own political staff. I find it threatening, intimidating and chilling that your political staff would phone up a principal and threaten the principal in this way.

I went to the superintendent whom this principal reports to and I said, "Are you aware of this?" Your political staff had also phoned that superintendent, again with the same threatening tone.

My question is this -- because I believe that your staff did this, and I think it is part of the bullying tactics of this government -- will you today assure the House that you will first apologize to that principal and, secondly, that you will ensure that this not happen again in the future?

Hon John Snobelen (Minister of Education and Training): I yesterday heard about this incident. I have asked my staff to investigate it. I can give you some preliminary information. Apparently, there was a letter sent out by a principal. Apparently, we received some complaints from the public about a letter that had been sent home by a principal to parents' homes via the children and we did investigate this at the time. A member of my staff did contact the principal to ask for three things.

One of those things was to provide a clean copy of the letter that had been sent home -- obviously, we need to respond to the public inquiries that were made of our office -- secondly, to inform the principal that, along with several other errors apparently contained in the letter, the phone number for our office was wrong, so they would get the correct phone number for our office. The preliminary investigation will be that those inquiries and that response were very appropriate.

Mr Phillips: I sent a letter to the minister, as he knows, a week and a half ago on this matter. This matter took place at least two weeks ago. It is crystal clear that your staff threatened this principal. We've been through this before with the minister responsible for women's issues, who threatened a battered women's group in London with withdrawing funding from it.


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

Mr Phillips: We have a signed affidavit saying she did that.

Now we find the Minister of Education and Training's staff threatening a principal. I find it objectionable and totally unacceptable. The question is this: Will you investigate this thoroughly? Will you confirm, by talking to the principal, to the superintendent and the director of education that this took place? And will you report back to the House quickly with an apology to the principal and an assurance that this will not be allowed to continue?

The Speaker: The question's been asked.

Hon Mr Snobelen: In response, I think I've already answered that question. Of course I would be concerned if a member of my staff left some concern with a member of the public, and certainly someone in the education department. I have asked someone on my staff to investigate this matter. When I get the report, I will take the appropriate action.

Hon Dianne Cunningham (Minister of Intergovernmental Affairs, minister responsible for women's issues): On a point of personal privilege, Mr Speaker: In response to the accusation made across the House that I intimidated people --

The Speaker: It can be raised after question period.

Hon Mrs Cunningham: I can raise it, Mr Speaker?

The Speaker: After question period you can raise it.


Mr David Christopherson (Hamilton Centre): In the absence of the Minister of Labour, my question is to the Deputy Premier. Deputy Premier, it was just last October when your government took great glee in introducing and then ramming through your anti-worker Bill 7. That then laid the groundwork for the strike that we now have in the province of Ontario with OPSEU members, because one of the things you did in that bill was to take away successorship rights to people in the public sector. You did not include that in your Common Sense Revolution, you did not talk about that on the campaign trail, and yet as soon as you took power you rammed through legislation that took away those rights from workers. That has now, as I said, laid the groundwork for the kind of strike and picketing that we're seeing across the province right now.

What I want to know from you, Minister, is will you now admit that yesterday's violence on the picket line is just the beginning of an escalation of picket line violence that we will see during the entire term of your office? Will you admit now that's what your Bill 7 is doing, Minister?

Hon Ernie L. Eves (Deputy Premier, Minister of Finance and Government House Leader): Of course I wouldn't admit that and the member fully well knows. I don't judge union members or any other group in society by the inappropriate actions of a few, and I think he should bear that in mind himself.

Mr Christopherson: More and more the arrogance tends to come through. You talk about inappropriate behaviour, and yet Ontarians are standing by watching you decimate and dismantle everything of value in this province. All your colleagues around are shaking their heads like this is some idea that you've never heard of before.

The fact of the matter is that in that same piece of legislation, Bill 7, you've also now allowed scabs. You've made it legal in this province once again, after it was made illegal, to allow scabs. What does that mean? It means the police are called in -- usually against their will, in my opinion -- but police are called in and they do exactly what happened yesterday: They force honest, decent, hardworking people who are on a lawful picket line to be pushed aside so scabs can go through. Yesterday it was you; tomorrow it's the scabs. What will you do to ensure this kind of violence does not happen again?


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

Hon Mr Eves: I understand that the member from Hamilton has a certain leadership campaign he's running in --

Interjections: No, no.

Hon Mr Eves: He's not running? Okay, sorry, I apologize. He sure sounded like a guy who was running. It sure sounded like the member is one of them.


The Speaker: Would the House come to order, please.

Hon Mr Eves: If he's not running, I apologize. I'm sorry.

To suggest that the inappropriate actions of a few people yesterday were somehow precipitated by Bill 7 is totally inappropriate. I understand that groups in society have the right to lawfully strike. I understand that full well. And this issue will be resolved at the bargaining table, not on the picket lines. We were at the bargaining table yesterday, we are at the bargaining table today, and that is where the resolution of this matter will be had.


Mr Tim Hudak (Niagara South): My question is to the Minister of Education and Training. I hope he will be able to clarify the status of two important school projects in my riding. There are currently renovations at Ridgeway and Crystal Beach High School, and Bertie elementary is slated for heating and ventilation improvements under the Canada-Ontario infrastructure program. What effects will the construction moratorium have on these very important projects?

Hon John Snobelen (Minister of Education and Training): I know the member for Niagara South will understand that I don't have the details here of every project in the province of Ontario, but I am very willing to share the criteria for this moratorium.

First, schools that are already under construction, or renovation projects that are already under way will be completed and will proceed under this moratorium.

Second, schools that are authorized under the Canada-Ontario infrastructure works program will be funded for the fiscal year 1996-97.

Third, in addition, several schools slated for asbestos removal or fire and safety upgrades will proceed.

In total, some 228 projects currently under way in the province of Ontario will proceed during this moratorium.

Mr Hudak: Along the same line, I've heard in media reports that the minister will be commissioning a review of the ministry's school construction program. What kinds of alternative funding arrangements and design types will the review be examining?

Hon Mr Snobelen: The honourable member is quite correct. We are currently looking at designing a review process so that we can have a look at how schools are constructed in other parts of Ontario. We're looking at design-build-leaseback scenarios, we're looking at third-party construction initiatives, we're looking at changes in the grant structure that will allow us to accommodate the children of this province in working schools in the generation to come.


Ms Annamarie Castrilli (Downsview): My question is for the Attorney General. Minister, the long-awaited Homolka affair report has now been issued and Mr Justice Patrick Galligan's conclusion is that nothing should be done to either reopen the Homolka plea-bargaining or to lay additional charges.

You may recall that you stated in the House in November when you announced the inquiry, "The citizens of this province have a right to a complete explanation of the decisions made" -- your quote. I submit to you that the citizens of this province did not get a complete explanation and I submit to you that the results were predictable from the beginning.

Judge Galligan's competence and integrity are not in issue here; they are beyond reproach. But what is not beyond reproach is this government's credibility. You tied his hands with terms of reference that were so narrow that they could not allow a full public airing of the facts. Is it not true that he could subpoena no witness to testify under oath? Is it not true that such a crucial player as Paul Bernardo's initial lawyer could not be and was not available even for an interview because he is the subject of another investigation? Minister, how can you believe that justice has been well served in these circumstances?

Hon Charles Harnick (Attorney General, minister responsible for native affairs): First of all, you refer to the conclusions of Justice Galligan's report. Now I would urge you to read the report to see how he got to the conclusions and then come back and tell me that was not a complete report, a comprehensive report and a report that was sensitive to the victims and their families. I think it behooves you to read that report thoroughly before you make allegations such as the one you've made.

Implicit in your question as well is the fact that there was not, as a term of reference, an inquiry made of Mr Murray. You answer your own question; you answer your own query: Quite simply because he is the subject of a police investigation, and you should know that because of that he would not, nor should he; nor would the judge who was inquiring into this suggest that he make form of disclosure. That's quite simply why that was not part of the terms of reference of this report.

The other thing I refer to are the comments of your own House leader who had praise for this report but who very succinctly and very properly indicated exactly what the problem with the report is, and that is that we are so profoundly disappointed that this particular deal had to be made that it is very difficult for the public to understand and accept the conclusions, because they are so disappointing, they're so despicable to all of us. But in a purely legal sense, if you read the report, the judge is very clear about why this had to happen. As your House leader so succinctly put it, the report is good, the conclusions are proper. The task here is that people read the report and try and understand it. It's difficult because the conclusions that it reaches are not something that any of us can be happy about.

Ms Castrilli: I need no lectures from the minister on either the report, which by the way, sir, I have read in its entirety, or the conclusions that were given. My quibble is not with the report. Mr Justice Galligan did in fact do what he did, and he did it admirably. That's not the issue. The issue is that the terms of reference were incomplete, they were not adequate. Quite frankly, even if you don't believe me, the outrage of people who have been calling my office and, I'm sure, your office is testimony to that.

But let me say more: Justice Galligan himself notes in his conclusion that the terms of reference leave something to be desired. He states, and I concur with him, that there is a need for rules in plea bargaining and in offences that are committed in more than one jurisdiction. I ask you in the public interest, at the very least, to commit to send such matters to the standing committee on administration of justice to establish clear guidelines to ensure that another Homolka tragedy does not happen again.

Hon Mr Harnick: Justice Galligan made very important recommendations pertaining to those two issues and he made those recommendations as a result of a very thorough review of this whole issue. Of course, I hope that the standing committee on administration of justice will under the rules, as you well know them, have an opportunity to examine into those very issues. Certainly people at the ministry have indicated already a willingness and a desire to begin the process of setting out clearly answers to what Justice Galligan has said. They're very important.

That's exactly why we had this examination, so that we could do a better job with the administration of justice. Where there's improvement, we want to make it. That's exactly the kind of recommendation that we want to respond to and will respond to. Any advice that you could give us through bringing, through the standing orders, a request for a hearing, which you have the right to do, a referral, we are delighted that you do that and undertake to do that.

I hope that maybe pursuant to the standing orders there will be unanimous consent to spend X number of hours, an adequate number of hours, to do just that. But certainly the ministry is doing it. Any help that the justice committee can provide, we would be interested in, and any help that you could provide in dealing with those issues, we would be grateful for.



Mr Tony Martin (Sault Ste Marie): My question is for the Chair of Management Board. Minister, you've presented yourself so far in this House and in your tenure as a calm and rational person. You have watched yesterday and today and on previous occasions some of the activity that has taken place around this building and across the province. You have, with us, witnessed blood being spilled at least twice now very publicly in front of this building.

The first time it was in response to what we see as a violation of agreements that we all came to around how the poor of this province should be dealt with, with compassion and some degree of understanding of their real need.

Yesterday, I suggest, the activities were a product of pent-up frustration because of the strike that's in front of us today. I would ask you to confront your colleagues in cabinet and your government to begin to act in accord with the highest values and principles and traditions which governments in this province over the years have used, values of balance, fairness and respect for the process in this place.

I ask you in the context of the very troubling activity of yesterday and of October of last year --

The Speaker (Hon Allan K. McLean): Would the member put his question, please.

Mr Martin: -- and in the context of this government's need to act in a fair and responsible manner, will you table an offer in this difficult OPSEU labour dispute that has some potential to be successful in achieving an agreement?

Hon David Johnson (Chair of the Management Board of Cabinet): I wish to assure the member for Sault Ste Marie that in fact the government has tabled a final offer. This was some time ago. One week ago today, the government did table amendments to that offer. In an endeavour to be fair and reasonable, the government did make movements in different areas. For example, part of that offer one week ago today involved job matching, which enhances job security for members of OPSEU.

I wish to assure the member that the government is at the table. There is a media blackout under way. Obviously, I can't give the details of what is on the table at this point in time. But it certainly is in my interests and the government's interests that we resolve this settlement at the earliest opportunity, but that we do so in a manner that's both fair to the employees and fair and affordable to the taxpayers of the province of Ontario.

Mr Martin: I would say to the minister that I'm a bit disappointed but not surprised. We hear again a continuation of the rhetoric of this government as they try to paint a picture for us all that really is not true.

I would ask the minister, in light of some of the comments yesterday to the leader of our party re the question of successor rights, where he made flippant and off-the-cuff comments about a very serious issue that is on the table, will you, Minister, please stop the rhetoric? Will you start facing the truth as it confronts us in this province and start telling the truth and be consistent in the information you use for your own purposes with the public and in this House and at the OPSEU bargaining table so that we might get an agreement?

Hon David Johnson: I would say again that the government, certainly in my estimation and in the estimation of many people who are contacting me directly, has put an offer on the table that is fair and reasonable to the degree that it involves, for example, added cost to the taxpayers of the province of Ontario between $150 million and $200 million. Now that's a great deal of money.

I think it recognizes the value of the members of OPSEU. I certainly myself value the services that the members of OPSEU have given to the province of Ontario over many years. In terms of successor rights, the negotiations I'm involved with, we have put on the table our offer to make reasonable efforts to attempt, if a function in the province of Ontario is privatized, outsourced, contracted out, to speak with the new employer in an attempt that the employees could move with that particular job.

This is, I might say, an approach that another union in the province of Ontario, AMAPCEO, has accepted through a tentative agreement. They have found this approach to be reasonable and I would hope, in the final analysis, that OPSEU would find it reasonable as well.


Mr Dan Newman (Scarborough Centre): My question today is to the Minister of Community and Social Services. During the past several weeks while the House was in recess, I have had the opportunity to meet with many of my constituents in Scarborough Centre. A number of these constituents are anxious to hear the details of our government's workfare plans.

I wonder if the minister might reassure the House of our commitment to implementing workfare and update the members on what the timetable might be to introduce the workfare plan. I also ask the minister if he would assure this House that our workfare plan is not a make-work project.

Hon David H. Tsubouchi (Minister of Community and Social Services): First of all, I'd like to make it perfectly clear that this program is going to be mandatory. Second, it will require all able-bodied people on welfare to work for their benefits.

We're right on track. One of the things we've looked at when we're trying to find the proper solution for Ontario, is that we've looked at other jurisdictions, we've looked at Alberta, we've looked at Quebec and New Brunswick, we've looked at the States and some international areas, but one thing we've concluded is we need a made-in-Ontario solution. Therefore, this spring we will be making the details known of our made-in-Ontario solution.

I'd also like to point out that we have had a committee of MPPs working on the actual structure of workfare. We've also been working to look at some of the programs that will work. We will continue to consult through our MPPs and also carry on the discussions we've had before.

Second, the member has asked whether or not the allegations out there with respect to make-work projects are true. Certainly not. Our objective is to make sure that the community has improved somehow. I will just share with you one quick example.

I had the opportunity to be out in Oshawa with our member there, Jerry Ouellette, and it happened to be in our member John O'Toole's area, an area called Camp Samac, which is a project run by the Scouts and supported by the Kiwanis Club and in fact has received a grant of $100,000 from GM. This is a project that will improve the community, and these people who will work on this program will have received training and will receive the networking possible to receive real jobs.


Hon Dianne Cunningham (Minister of Intergovernmental Affairs, minister responsible for women's issues): On a point of personal privilege, Mr Speaker: On November 21, 1995, the member for Riverdale filed a request for the opinion of the Integrity Commissioner, the Honourable Gregory T. Evans, on a matter alleging that I, as the member for London North, in my role as minister responsible for women's issues, have contravened the Members' Integrity Act, 1994.

I received the report from the justice on December 13, 1995, and would like to read into the record the opinion:

"Section 35 of the act states: `If the commissioner is of the opinion that the referral of a matter to him or her is frivolous, vexatious or not made in good faith or that there are no grounds or insufficient grounds for an inquiry, commissioners shall not conduct an inquiry and shall state the reasons for not doing so in the report.' In my opinion, section 35 applies and there are no grounds requiring me to hold an inquiry."



Mr Bud Wildman (Algoma): In relation to a question raised by my friend the member for Scarborough-Agincourt a moment ago, the Minister of Education and Training said that he was calling for an inquiry or he was investigating the alleged intimidation of a school principal in my friend's riding.

I want to point out to you that the minister may have inadvertently misled the House in his answer, since I have a letter, dated March 7, to Ms Joan Westcott of the Federation of Women Teachers' Associations of Ontario signed by John Weir, the executive assistant to the minister, in which Mr Weir says:

"Our office must address the concerns of all stakeholders in the process of educating the children of the province. Mr McLeman was only investigating some complaints directed to this office and would have been remiss in his duties if he had not done so. I feel my staff member performed the job that I would expect of him."

It appears from this letter from the minister's executive assistant that the minister's executive assistant is quite satisfied with the actions taken by the staff member. That does not seem to corroborate what the minister said in answer to the member for Scarborough-Agincourt.



Mr Mike Colle (Oakwood): It is my pleasure to present to the Legislature a petition in regard to the crazy proposed tax cuts.

"We, the undersigned, request that the Legislature of Ontario not approve any crazy tax cuts which cause more poverty and unemployment in Ontario, and until these are dealt with effectively, the province should not proceed with this crazy tax cut."

I affix my name to it.


Mr David Christopherson (Hamilton Centre): I have a petition from my community of Hamilton Centre regarding St Joseph's Hospital.

"Whereas the Hamilton-Wentworth Health Action Task Force, as part of their report, has recommended the closure of St Joseph's Hospital in Hamilton; and

"Whereas it is recognized the health care system should be made as efficient as possible; and

"Whereas the quality of health care service in our community should not be sacrificed in the name of this efficiency; and

"Whereas the Mike Harris government promised to protect the quality of health care in Ontario; and

"Whereas we, the undersigned, believe that maintaining the presence of St Joseph's Hospital in downtown Hamilton is a vital component of our health care system,

"Therefore be it resolved that the Minister of Health and the Hamilton-Wentworth District Health Council ensure the continuance of the St Joseph's Hospital at its present site."

I proudly add my name to theirs.


Mr Rick Bartolucci (Sudbury): I have a petition to the Legislative Assembly of Ontario.

"Whereas the city of Sudbury has a shortage of family and general practitioners,

"We, the undersigned, petition the Legislative Assembly of Ontario to designate Sudbury as a medically underserviced area."

I have affixed my name to this as I agree with it.


Mr Bud Wildman (Algoma): I have two petitions signed by approximately 110 constituents from Iron Bridge and from the township of Prince in my riding. They both deal with the same topic. I'll read one of them.

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

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

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

I affix my name thereto.


Mr David Ramsay (Timiskaming): To the Honourable Lieutenant Governor and the Legislative Assembly of Ontario:

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

"Whereas in the corporate takeover it would be strictly user pay for the 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've affixed my signature to this.


Mr Tony Martin (Sault Ste Marie): I want to present a petition here that perhaps is a little after the fact but nevertheless needs to be read into the record. Because of the speed at which this government operates, sometimes people don't get a chance to exercise their legitimate democratic rights. It's signed by about 500 people from across northern Ontario, places like Geraldton, Thunder Bay, Nipigon, Sault Ste Marie, Longlac, Hearst, Kirkland Lake, Englehart, Nakina. The list goes on and on. It says this:

"Due to our isolation and great distances between communities and the larger cities in the north, we require reliable air service to have access to medical services and to maintain a competitive economy.

"We, the residents of northern Ontario, do hereby petition the government of Ontario to reconsider its decision to pull norOntair air services from our community."

I sign my signature to this petition.


Mr Dominic Agostino (Hamilton East): I have a petition signed by my constituents to add to the petition by the member for Hamilton Centre. It's to the Legislative Assembly of Ontario.

"Whereas the Common Sense Revolution states that a Conservative government will not cut health care funding; and

"Whereas in the 1995 election campaign, the Conservatives clearly promised to defend the health care system by protecting ministry funding, stating in a campaign backgrounder, `There'll be no cuts to health care funding by a Harris government,' and calling this their first and most important commitment;

"Therefore, we, the undersigned, call on the Minister of Health to reject all recommendations put forward by the health care task force as relate to any hospital closures in Hamilton-Wentworth, particularly St Joseph's Hospital on Charlton Avenue."

I add my signature to that petition.


Mr Gilles Pouliot (Lake Nipigon): I have a petition signed by several people, Ontario residents. It's addressed to the Legislative Assembly of Ontario and it reads as follows:

"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" -- that's really all they have -- "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 the infamous Bill 26."

I have affixed my signature and my support to the petition.


Mr John C. Cleary (Cornwall): I have a petition signed by 146 residents of my riding and across eastern Ontario. It reads as follows:

"To the Parliament of Ontario:

"Whereas the teachers of Ontario are already accountable to the province of Ontario through the Ontario Teachers' Federation; and

"Whereas the proposed College of Teachers will create a new, unneeded and costly bureaucracy;

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

"To refrain from enacting legislation with respect to the College of Teachers."

I've also signed this petition.


Ms Shelley Martel (Sudbury East): I have a petition which is signed by literally hundreds of seniors who live in the Sudbury basin. The petition was sponsored from two groups: the Rockview Seniors Co-op Inc and Steelworkers' Retirees, Chapter 2, and it reads as follows:

"We, the undersigned seniors, families, supporting groups and people of Ontario, are now petitioning the Premier and all the members of the Ontario government to stop the Common Sense Revolution which deprives the elderly and favours the greedy, non-caring rich. We list some of our concerns." They are as follows:

"Health care comes first and hospital closures plus cuts in services affect seniors very seriously.

"Co-op and non-profit housing should be increased and subsidized to provide for the growing number of seniors, instead of cutbacks which please greedy landlords.

"Pensions should be properly indexed to the true cost of living, with no cutbacks.

"Welfare payments should be adjusted to meet the needs of many unfortunate seniors.

"Unemployment ranks high as a concern among seniors who are very worried about the layoffs of their sons, daughters and their grandchildren.

"Please stop your Common Sense Revolution, as it affects our seniors so adversely while favouring the rich."

I have affixed my signature to it and I agree with the petitioners entirely.



Mr Toby Barrett (Norfolk): I have a petition signed by 30 residents of my riding, and I point out that it's not on the proper form.

"We taxpayers do not support the measures taken against OPSEU by the Harris government. We find these tactics both unfair and undemocratic."

I affix my name to this petition.


The Acting Speaker (Ms Marilyn Churley): The member for Kingston and The Islands -- sorry, Essex South. It's been a while. Sorry about that.

Mr Bruce Crozier (Essex South): Thank you, Madam Speaker. If I had to be from anywhere, Kingston and The Islands would maybe be the next-best place. I'm not sure.

I have a petition that's been given to me by the Friends of the Leamington Public Library, and it's regarding the repeal of the Public Libraries Act. It's addressed to the Legislature of Ontario, and has a number of whereases that indicate their concern. It concludes by saying:

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

"To oppose the repeal of the Public Libraries Act, the imposition of fees for the use of public libraries, the elimination of provincial conditional grants to public libraries and the eradication of library boards, and to support free public libraries as the foundation of a literate, informed and prosperous population."

I affix my signature to this petition.


Mrs Marion Boyd (London Centre): "To 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."

This is signed by more than 70 people from my riding of London and around London, and I have affixed my signature to it.


The Acting Speaker (Ms Marilyn Churley): Further petitions? The member for Windsor-Walkerville.

Mr Pat Hoy (Essex-Kent): Essex Kent.

The Acting Speaker: I am getting them mixed up today. I obviously have to go back to the drawing board. Excuse me.

Mr Hoy: I don't look anything like the member.

"To the Legislative Assembly of Ontario:

"Whereas Transition House in Chatham has provided emergency shelter to troubled or abused youth as well as support, counselling and life skills training since 1990, and, operating on a five-year budget of $865,000, they have counselled over 400 youth and served over 20,000 meals;

"Whereas the city of Chatham and the county of Kent rely on Transition House to meet the needs of its troubled youth and there is no other facility to serve the needs of the community; and

"Whereas many of the youth who end up at Transition House suffer from attention-deficit disorder, Tourette's syndrome, fetal alcohol syndrome and other diseases and cannot function in a normal school environment, and since new welfare legislation requires welfare recipients to be in school or training, some severely disadvantaged youth who might be at risk at home are not qualified for welfare assistance; and

"Whereas the principles of discipline, self-help and regimented environment at Transition House have combined with the counselling and support to provide youth with the motivation and self-respect to return to school or find jobs; and

"Whereas it has been shown that massive cuts to health services, school systems and social services have a definite impact on the statistics of children and youth in crisis; and

"Whereas the government of Ontario has cut its direct funding to Transition House by almost $48,000 annually and places the existence of Transition House in jeopardy;

"Be it therefore resolved that we, the undersigned, urge the government of Ontario to reverse its decision to cut the funding of Transition House in Chatham."

I affix my name.


Mr Michael Gravelle (Port Arthur): I have a petition sent to me by Susan Marrier of Thunder Bay which joins a growing chorus of support for those who are opposed to this government's 30% tax cut, an irresponsible cut that cannot be condoned at this time. The petition reads:

"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."

I'm proud to sign my signature to this.


Ms Shelley Martel (Sudbury East): I have a petition that is signed by several hundred people who live in the good riding of Sudbury East and it reads as follows:

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

"Whereas Mike Harris promised on May 3, 1995, `No cuts to health care spending,' but in his November 29 economic statement we see $1.3 billion in cuts to hospital spending; and

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

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

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

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



Mr Arnott moved first reading of the following bill:

Bill Pr53, An Act respecting the Association of Ontario Road Superintendents.

The Acting Speaker (Ms Marilyn Churley): Is it the pleasure of the House that the motion carry? Carried.



Resuming the adjourned debate on the motion for 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

The Acting Speaker (Ms Marilyn Churley): I recognize the member for St Catharines.

Mr James J. Bradley (St Catharines): Thank you kindly, Madam Speaker, for the opportunity to speak on concurrences. I will be, of course, germane as always during this debate.

I want to first address the background to these concurrences, and that is the atmosphere that I see in the province of Ontario. Some of us had an opportunity earlier in the day to talk about the incidents which have occurred in and around this building over the past couple of weeks and in particular the major confrontation that took place yesterday. As I look at the various ministries and their expenditures, or their lack of expenditures, and the policies they're pursuing, I can see that we are as a province being deeply divided.

The confrontation, the anger and the division which we see are uncharacteristic, I believe, to Ontario, where successive governments have endeavoured to provide an opportunity for consensus and conciliation as opposed to major confrontations. There have been honest disagreements that have occurred between governments and opposition, between various groups and interests in our society. Largely they have been settled by trying to bring people together to develop a consensus. I understand that in the mid-1990s this isn't as attractive politically, because the image that governments wish to portray revolves around strength, not backing down, being lacking -- let's say lacking -- in conciliation as opposed to trying to bring people together, trying to reason with people.


We have a strike going on in the province of Ontario at this time. Members of the Ontario Public Service Employees Union, if you think about it over the years, are hardly the most militant people that you would find. Many have said that they have served successive governments with loyalty and with dedication and with a sense of fulfilment in terms of the contribution they've been able to make to this province.

So when we look at the government confronting this particular organization, it is not as though they are confronting a union which is known for being militant or whose actions tend to be more aggressive than other unions. They themselves, the other unions, may be proud of those actions, but I can say that OPSEU is not what we would call a militant union.

They are confronted with a very difficult circumstance, that is, the possibility of up to 27,000 people losing their jobs in this province. This is of consequence not only for those who lose their jobs and those close to them, because that is important to those people, but it is of consequence to the people of the province at large, who will not have available to them the kinds of services that Canadians and the people of Ontario have had in years gone by. Indeed, many of our American friends have looked with envy to Ontario, and to certain other provinces which have provided those services, which have been civil in their outlook. We will find, if we lose those 27,000 public servants, and many beyond the provincial public service, that we're going to have a distinct diminishing of the services provided to people in this province.

It is not only the provincial civil servants that we're talking about. We are talking as well about people within the realms of boards of education, municipalities and agencies, boards and commissions that have provided service, that have contributed to the quality of life in Ontario.

In my view, the government is moving far too quickly and far too drastically. If you asked anybody of any political background who wanted to be reasonable, the people would say yes, we have to do something. We have to try to deliver services in a more economical way, in a less costly way. I don't think there's a debate. Even those who are considered to be socialist in background would not even argue with that.

Indeed, the previous NDP government had to undertake a significant downsizing when it was in power, and I know that members of the New Democratic Party, for instance, did not look forward to raising tuition by 42%. They did not want to do that because it was in their platform that they would abolish it. I know from speaking to individual members of that party and to the Premier of the day that this was a difficult decision, but they were decisions that were taken by that government.

And when there were layoffs in the civil service, as there have been since 1990 because of the deep recession we were in, because of the economic circumstances, there weren't people I think in the previous government who looked upon this as a nice thing to have to do, but it was nevertheless, in their mind, essential. When they abrogated the contracts of public service workers in this province, they felt -- Premier Rae said this on many occasions -- that this was the best, in his view, of many difficult choices that governments had to make.

I'm saying that no matter which party would assume office after the last election, there would be difficult and challenging decisions to make. But it's the manner in which this government has undertaken those decisions, the speed and the degree of change that is taking place, that is causing disruption in this province, in my view.

As I mentioned earlier and many other members have mentioned, the sight of police dogs, police on horseback, the riot squad we saw yesterday banging its shields in military fashion, and paddy wagons, the whole presence of almost an armed camp in and around Queen's Park makes all of us feel uneasy. It's not an image we want to project to others whom we would like to have invest here and visit here, and it's one that makes most Ontarians feel concerned and I think a bit apprehensive.

The kind of governing that we've seen has not been conciliatory. I understand -- I think some of the members have said it well -- that there are honest differences of opinion. I happen to disagree with some of the policies -- not all of the policies; some of the policies -- the government is bringing forward. I was adamantly opposed to the manner in which it introduced Bill 26, a massive budget bill that contained approximately 45 to 47 changes to acts of the Ontario Legislature -- much too massive -- and a bill that they wanted to bring in very quickly and pass without much consultation with the electorate. I was opposed to that. It was called the bully bill by some people who are more objective observers than I. I think it is, nevertheless, an indication of the early style of the government, which I hope will change.

Now, you might say, why would I hope the government would change, because won't it become more acceptable to the people of this province? I'm here in this Legislature to encourage governments to be moderate, to be conciliatory, to be forgiving in some cases, and of course to provide appropriate leadership. I hope sometimes they will accept that counsel and advice, even if it makes the government more acceptable to the general population.

I think most people in this province are moderate and fairminded, and they're looking to the government to make changes in that light. There are those who give advice to premiers and to governments. They often aren't the elected people; they're other people who give advice. They say today, and it's true politically, that if you give a tough-guy image out there, you say "Let's have a Premier who shows he's prepared to stand up to all" -- as they would call them -- "the vested interests," that somehow politically will resonate well with the population. I suspect, if you look at polling -- and heaven knows the government that was never going to do polling is polling again with taxpayers' money -- that it will give at least in the short term a good image of the government. I don't think, however, it provides good government and I don't think in the long run it's good for democracy in the province.

I mentioned earlier I don't think the Premier has been particularly helpful. I don't want to get into a personal attack on Mr Harris. I have, as I say, many disagreements with him, but I just don't think some of the comments he's made in, as they call them, the scrums where the news media meet him in the hallway have been helpful in healing some of the wounds that are out there. I suspect some in the Conservative caucus attended that Hamilton rally and were impressed with the number of people who were in the streets of Hamilton. I know there's a feeling that somehow you think they're vested interests, they're rabid people, they're extreme people, and among the crowd there are going to be some of those people. But they were a pretty good cross-section. I know people who went there who don't go to political rallies, who aren't involved politically, who don't get involved in demonstrations, and probably are annoyed when they watch other people in certain demonstrations. These people had strong feelings -- in education, for instance, of the impact that this government could have on classroom education.

I know there's a suggestion that all you have to do is cut out administration. Let me tell you, under the NDP, which was constraining budgets considerably, a lot of those changes were already made by the boards of education. A lot of the fat that you thought was there was cut out. There are far fewer administrators, far fewer people in boards of education who aren't in direct contact with students, and yet I hear the Minister of Education, Mr Snobelen, say he's going to cut $400 million this year and $1 billion next year out of the education system. You can't do that today and not have an impact on the education system, on the students in that system.


When you look at the figures, when you look at numbers out there, it doesn't mean too much. But when it's your brother, your aunt, your next-door neighbour, your son, your wife, your husband who happens to be laid off, who happens to lose their job, the meaning starts to come home to people, because they have provided that service to students in the classroom and because they are people who spend money in the community.

Again, the government and everybody understands. If you talk to the representatives of teachers' federations or OPSEU or anybody else, they all understand that the revenues aren't there today and that we must address some of the problems of accumulated debt. They understand that, and they are the people you can consult to advise you on how you can reduce those expenditures in a humane way and in a way which is least likely to affect the children in the classroom.

I look at what I think is an unwise abandonment of junior kindergarten. I mentioned once before in the House that years ago if you had asked me about junior kindergarten and its importance, I would have said it didn't rank that highly. I have seen evidence presented by neutral people -- these aren't people with a vested interest. Fraser Mustard is a name that comes to mind. He went to Brock University one day -- he used to be the president, I believe, of McMaster University and, previous to that, the dean of medicine -- and he made an excellent presentation: study after study showing the difference between the group of children who had junior kindergarten and those who didn't in terms of their long-term success. Pretty convincing information provided by a pretty neutral person. Excellent, by the way, the talk he provided at Brock University, a university which provides opportunities for various people with some repute to speak on issues.

The abolishing of grade 13: I've always felt grade 13 was helpful to our students. I know that about three different governments have abolished it or said they were going to abolish it, but there is a feeling out there among many people that our students have gone on to university and community college -- particularly university, because grade 13 was geared to that -- better prepared, in a more mature state than otherwise might be the case. I lament the loss of that year to our students.

In particular I lament the loss of services to children with special needs. You know, we aren't the society we were when I taught school many, many years ago. The number of children who came from dysfunctional homes, if I can use that term, homes where there are problems within the home setting, is far, far higher today than it was a generation ago. That means that the students need that additional help which is available within the school system. I see when you withdraw those funds that there is going to be a problem.

I see one of the panaceas that's advanced is amalgamation of boards. Well, look at regional government in many areas. Tell me how much money that saved when you imposed regional government. It didn't save a heck of a lot of money. I think you have to look at it on a board-by-board basis, not simply apply one rule for the whole province. It may make sense in some areas.

Mr David S. Cooke (Windsor-Riverside): I'm just going by what John Sweeney said.

Mr Bradley: The previous Minister of Education was a fan of this, I think. He may not be today, now that he's in opposition, but he was a fan of it once, just as he was a fan of the college of teachers. Indeed, there may be people in the Liberal caucus who may even be fans of the college of teachers. Heaven knows why, but there may be. I have consistently been opposed to that on a personal basis because I think that's an unnecessary expenditure. I believe there are other ways of handling that problem. I think the bill that you people have brought in is draconian --

Hon Norman W. Sterling (Minister of Consumer and Commercial Relations): You just take some stuff away from the unions.

Mr Bradley: We are people who have views that we are allowed to express on our own, just as you have, just as the Minister of Consumer and Commercial Relations, I know, is a strong advocate of the retention of the Niagara Escarpment Commission to protect the escarpment. I have commended him on many occasions in this House and will do so publicly, along with the member for Dufferin-Peel, who is as well. I know there are other members who don't share that view within the governing caucus, but I do.

Mr Chudleigh even may be opposed to that view, but that's why I like the opportunity in this House, within the confines of the concurrences, to be able to discuss these matters.

Mr Cooke: Is there anything else you want to split the caucus on?

Mr Bradley: I don't want to direct my remarks to the former NDP government, which many had thought had moved so drastically to the right.

The Acting Speaker: Please direct your comments to the Chair.

Mr Bradley: I know the person in the chair particularly, the member for Riverdale, doesn't want me to dwell on the former NDP government, so I won't do so, just because of her suggestion.

We have the Minister of Consumer and Commercial Relations here, and I know this has something to do with education. It's educating people about the LCBO. I want to commend the Progressive Conservative government of years gone by and the Progressive Conservative Party on establishing the Liquor Control Board of Ontario and the present chair of that, Mr Andy Brandt, former leader of the Conservative Party, appointed by the New Democratic Party, supported by all parties in the House, who has modernized the LCBO, effectively brought it into the 1990s in an enviable fashion.

I cannot believe that anyone in that government now would want to, as they say, privatize the LCBO, except the Minister of Consumer and Commercial Relations. I would bet there are other people in the cabinet who would disagree.

The attraction is, all the Tories will be lining up for the stores. They'll be saying, "Oh, this is great. Let's get all these Tory supporters. Where can we get these stores?" as they did in Alberta. You've got a good thing going. You have a fine selection in there, I'm told, in the Liquor Control Board stores, a fine selection of beverages available to the general population. I can say that the stores are well located now. There's one located, frankly, not all that far from my house, I'm told, and a wonderful staff in there who serve the public well, according to my neighbours.

I can't see why the government, which has wonderful control for those children who used to be able to buy places -- there's good control in the LCBO; very few robberies take place. Just across the border, in New York State, they seem to have robberies three times a week at those stores. I know that the Minister of Consumer and Commercial Relations would not want to see that happen, so I urge the members of the Conservative caucus to maintain that tradition, to conserve that which is good, and that is the LCBO, its employees serving us in a fine fashion in the 1990s.

There are other things that can happen in that regard. I want to go to the tax cut, because that affects all of these concurrences and why we have the situation we have today. When I speak to people about the tax cut, originally people said: "This is a great idea, this 30% cut in the provincial income tax. I'd like to see that."

But then when you explain to them the reason they're losing as many services as they are so quickly and in such quantity, the reason that the municipal governments are forced to raise the property tax, the most regressive tax, or user fees, again which do not take into account a person's ability to pay -- when you explain that to them, they say that it's not such an attractive proposal. "If my neighbour's losing a job as a result, if the developmentally disabled will lose their sheltered workshop, as they are in St Catharines, as a result, if there isn't help for the most vulnerable in our society as a result, I would prefer to see the government keep and use effectively those funds."

There's a second group of people who are attracted to the argument that I am now making, and others in the province, about the tax cut; I'm sure there are many in the government caucus who are as well. That is this: When I ask people, "Is the deficit a problem?" particularly when I go to the chamber of commerce, they say: "Yes, it is. We must address the problem of the deficit." Then I ask them, "Do you know that the government is going to have to borrow over $20 billion" -- what's that, $14 million a day it's going to cost the province? -- "that we're going to have to spend over $5 billion in interest to give money to me and to others in terms of a tax cut?" They say, "That might make some sense if the budget were balanced." If we had achieved that situation with the deficit where we no longer had a deficit, that might make some sense. Or if you were to have a small tax decrease that just gave us an indication that perhaps you are going to stimulate the economy a bit, that may make some sense. But they can't figure out why this government is embarking upon this.


When I asked different groups who came before the Bill 26 committee about this, I couldn't find anybody who was in favour of it, except a former Tory candidate who was appearing in the Niagara Peninsula who said he was in favour of it. I asked a doctor, who is a well-paid individual no doubt, earned every penny of it, worked hard. I said, "Do you understand this about the tax break?" He said, "I don't know anybody who's in favour of it." I found a lot of people in that category who, when you explain the situation, say, "Well, under those circumstances, I would prefer the government address the deficit and debt problem and I would prefer that the government not cut back so drastically and that we not proceed with this and we will forgive the government if it doesn't proceed with the tax cut."

I can assure you, if you don't proceed with it, I will not criticize the government for having broken a promise and I will certainly get up in this House and compliment the government on taking what I think would be a commonsense approach to a problem.

That is why we are in a situation with a strike by OPSEU, for instance; that is why we are cutting services so drastically in our province, because we are being driven by this tax cut that even some strong Conservative supporters are having doubts about now.

There is an economic model that is taken that economists accept. I was talking to a Conservative economist, Dr Joseph Kushner, of Brock University, who fashions himself as a real Conservative, and he explained how when you combine drastic government cuts with a tax cut, that is, a cut in expenditures with a tax cut, the stimulative effect is minimal on the economy -- very minimal. In fact, Dr Kushner, at St Catharines city council, moved a motion, which council endorsed, which in effect called on the government to abandon the provincial income tax cut. We're not talking about a small-l liberal, we're not talking about a socialist, we're talking about an individual who has consistently been on line with limiting government expenditures and with being fiscally conservative. When people such as this individual are putting forward these motions, you know the government should be rethinking its initiatives.

There's another area I find rather interesting and that's hospital spending. I can remember when the Liberal Party was in power, if the hospitals didn't get an 8% increase, the world would end. We would hear from the hospital boards and we would hear from the Tory members of the opposition -- and I must say this for the benefit of the hundreds of thousands of people who are watching this program in the province. In fact, the Conservatives used to get up in the House and almost invariably demand more money for their communities, and I understood it.

Hon Mr Sterling: Now, Jim. I told governments not to spend money in my riding.

Mr Bradley: There may be exceptions to that. The member for Carleton says he is not one, but he had colleagues who would rise in the House and ask other governments to spend money -- members of the Conservative caucus. Even the present Premier used to get up and ask questions which would imply there would have to be increased government expenditures to meet what he felt was necessary.

Well, I look in our area and I see pretty substantial cuts to hospital funding, even greater cuts than the NDP imposed when they were trying to address this problem -- far more drastic in this case.

St Catharines General Hospital, reduction 7%. What was most interesting -- and this is how well you've intimidated them -- the Minister of Health came in and said, "If you people don't play ball, I'm going to put what money there is somewhere else and you people may face some difficult circumstances." There's a great intimidation factor. One member of the hospital board said, and I found this amusing -- mind you, I think he's a Tory -- "Oh, it's only a 7% reduction. We thought we were getting an 11% reduction." The same person probably 10 years ago would have said: "Where is the huge increase? Aren't you miserly when you don't give it?"

Greater Niagara General Hospital, Hotel Dieu in St Catharines, Port Colborne General, West Lincoln Memorial in Grimsby, Douglas Memorial in Fort Erie, Niagara-on-the-Lake and the Shaver in St Catharines all received reductions in government spending from a government that said during the election campaign it wasn't going to cut health care spending.

If you were in a situation where there hadn't already been cuts -- the NDP out of financial necessity, Mr Rae's government, had to impose restraints on the growth of expenditures. That was understood, and they got no quarrels except perhaps from the Liberals, but certainly didn't get any quarrel from the government in doing this. When they did that, a lot of the so-called fat or unnecessary expenditures had come out of the system. Today you're cutting to the bone. Today the front-line workers are losing their jobs, thousands upon thousands of them, and the consequence can be seen on patient care in our hospitals.

The staff there simply cannot handle all the responsibilities they have with the numbers that they have now. Members of the medical profession have found it necessary in many cases to move to the United States because they feel, particularly under Bill 26, that they are not being dealt with in a fair fashion.

When I hear the district health councils saying they can live with this -- it'll be very instructive for any successive government, I must say, when they say they can live with the kind of cuts we're seeing. But I know they're doing it under a threat from this government. There's a theme of intimidation out there of various people: "Don't give us a hard time or we will come down harder on you than we do on others." I don't think that is healthy for all of us.

I always feel confined by the amount of time that's available, but I must say as well that I am concerned about the level of environmental vigilance we're seeing in this province. We have members bragging to people in the backwoods areas of the province, the non-urban areas of the province, the rural areas --

Mr Cooke: Rural Ontario is the backwoods?

Mr Bradley: No, that's not what I said. The backwoods is behind my house. Those people are hearing government members say, "The Niagara Escarpment Commission is gone." I hope the Minister of Consumer and Commercial Relations has enough clout in this government to save the Niagara Escarpment Commission and the whole Ministry of Environment and Energy.

Mr David Christopherson (Hamilton Centre): I appreciate the opportunity to join in the debate on estimates. This is one of the few times we get an opportunity to stand back and talk about the impact of the government's agenda in all its various forms on the people of Ontario.

I personally would feel remiss if I didn't begin by talking about the relationship between the fiscal plan and the budgetary goals of this government and the strike of the public sector that's happening in the province, and indeed the issue that happened yesterday, which has riveted, I would suggest without overstating it, possibly worldwide attention on what has happened outside this Legislature. And I might add, that's not the first time. A number of incidents in terms of violence have erupted outside the Legislature that have gripped this province, this nation and indeed people around the world, particularly when they look at Canada and Ontario as a model of democracy, of tolerance, of understanding, of progressiveness.


It also sets up, Mr Speaker -- I see we've had a change in the chair -- a clear example of the kind of Ontario I grew up with and the kind of Ontario Mike Harris is creating, one that seems to pit worker against worker, have against have-not, and certainly pits this government against every vulnerable individual and every vulnerable group and institution in this province.

I can remember standing in my place when Bill 7 was introduced on October 4 of last year and heard the government plans to ram that piece of legislation through. They were still flushed with power at that time and all filled with themselves, and when they managed to pull that off, they thought to themselves: "This revolution's not going to be as difficult as we thought. We're going to be able to implement our agenda. All we need is a little bit of backbone. We've just got to make sure we don't cave in to the special interests and cave in to those who are against us."

We said at that time that you cannot do that to the people of Ontario. In particular, as it relates to labour relations, you cannot take away the rights workers have had for decades and offer no opportunity for debate. There was no public debate, no committee hearings -- none whatsoever. For those who think Bill 26, the omnibus bill, was too quick, I suggest they hearken back to what happened with Bill 7. After an introduction on October 4, on Halloween, October 31, a mere few weeks later, that piece of legislation was rammed through this Legislature in one evening, and not one citizen had an opportunity to have a say.

What is so obscene about what took place there was not just the following through of their mandate, which was to revoke the provisions of Bill 40 -- which, by the way, were an amendment to the Ontario Labour Relations Act. The government's anti-worker Bill 7 completely replaced the entire Ontario Labour Relations Act. Imagine that. Imagine how that's going to look in the history books when children are taught that when this government took power one of its first moves was to unilaterally change and replace the Ontario Labour Relations Act in a matter of a few weeks, with no public consultation, no opportunity for input, and in doing so, went well beyond the mandate it ran on. And that takes me to the strike we have in our communities across Ontario right now with OPSEU.

This government did not say in the Common Sense Revolution that it was going to take away successorship rights from public sector workers. It's not in that book -- not a word in there about that -- and there was no discussion about that on the campaign trail. Yet in Bill 7, we found exactly that: Rights that public sector workers had had, just like their counterparts in the private sector, which had been in place for decades -- in fact, it was a previous Tory government that put those rights in place, maintained by a Liberal government, maintained and enhanced by an NDP government -- this government ripped away.

There's no other term for it. They literally ripped away the right to successorship privileges and rights. What does that mean in everyday terms? It means that in the private sector you still have the right, if your business or your enterprise is sold and you have a collective agreement, that the collective agreement, like any other asset or part of that corporation, goes to and with the sale to the new owner. It means that those workers have stability. It prevents anybody from playing games, so they can't just transfer on paper the ownership of that corporation and thereby get rid of the union and get rid of the wages and benefits and other protections in collective agreements.

But it also provides workers with some security. Quite frankly, most workers are not all that concerned about who owns the company as long as they manage it correctly, and managing it correctly means offering up fair wages and fair benefits and fair working conditions and safe working conditions. It says that when that sale takes place, the collective agreement goes with it and therefore all those struggles that have gone on in that workplace to get a decent collective agreement go with it. Even Tories recognize the fairness of that because they brought in that legislation, and it applied to both public and private sector.

In taking away successorship rights from public sector workers, this government was teeing up, along with its omnibus Bill 26, its desire to privatize operations of this government. They stand behind the argument that this is going to create better government. The fact of the matter is that what it's going to do is help them pay for their tax cut because they need to reduce expenditures by $5 billion or $6 billion to pay for that tax cut, and part of that will come from privatizing. One of the side benefits to the Mike Harris Tories is that they get to pick and choose which parts of the public service they're going to sell. Of course, we know from the Brian Mulroney experience that when Tories privatize what they do is they pick out the most profitable part of the public service and they hive that off and they sell that piece and, lo and behold, they usually sell it to their rich friends, and they go on to benefit from the most highly efficient parts of public service and leave behind whatever parts they don't figure they can make enough money on. That's the name of the game.

So it should come as no surprise to anyone that public sector workers are on the street right now fighting for their very survival because one of the key issues is: "Put successorship rights back in the collective agreement. You took them away from us in legislation. You didn't talk about it in the campaign. You didn't give us any opportunity to talk about it when you did it. By God, you're at least going to put that back in the collective agreement because we're entitled to that kind of protection, just like people who work for the private sector are entitled to that, and they're allowed to continue having those rights." What we have are not what the government would like to describe as greedy, selfish workers who just want more at the expense of the taxpayer. What we have is a lot of frightened, scared workers who don't know what the future is and who have had their future made that much insecure as a result of legislation this government brought in that it has no mandate to do.

As part of that process, they have picket lines. I've been on picket lines. I've led strikes. I've supported picket lines in strikes. This is not an issue of who's right or wrong in a general sense of strikes. This is about what is happening to hardworking people who work for the citizens of Ontario -- and, in my opinion, do a damn fine job for the people of Ontario -- who find themselves at the dirty end of the stick with regard to this government's plans to pay for that tax cut.

That's why yesterday, when there was violence on that picket line, when the police were brought in -- and I've said this before and I'll continue to say it: I don't believe the police want to be there. I've talked to police officers and police leadership. They don't want to be brought in in labour disputes, because they don't see that as part of their main responsibility which is to make our streets safer. Certainly yesterday, making our streets safer had nothing to do with providing a clear access to let Tory MPPs rush through that picket line and ignore the requested 15-minute respect of the protocol. That's what this was all about, and people ought to realize that we're now hearing plans were made by this government to do everything that happened yesterday before it even took place. It was all planned out ahead of time.

All the strikers in the OPSEU dispute want is a decent, fair collective agreement, just like any other worker in the province of Ontario. I honestly believe that part of this government's agenda is to show their friends who want to take on the labour movement -- that's not all of them, but there are those who do -- this is to show those employers: "Look, we'll lead the way. We'll lead by example. We'll take on our union and we'll crush them and we'll bust them, and then you can feel safe and secure in knowing that the groundwork has been laid for you to go ahead and do the same thing to your workers and the unions that represent them."


That's what this agenda is all about. Regardless of what the government says, that tax cut will benefit the very wealthy much more than it's going to benefit the average working person. In fact, two thirds of that tax cut will go to the top 10% of high-income earners in the province. Privatizing public service is a key part of this government paying for that transfer of wealth, transferring revenue to the province from those who are vulnerable and need it and benefit from public services to the obscenity of those who already have the lion's share of the wealth of this great province.

That's why we get so riled and upset when things like yesterday happen and when things like Bill 26 and Bill 7 are brought in and rammed through. That's why we react the way we do, because we know what the real agenda is, and it has nothing to do with helping the average person in this province.

On health care, which is a critical issue in my riding right now, this government ran on a platform that said, "We will seal the envelope at $17.4 billion." "Not one cent from health care," they said. Mike Harris echoed that from every corner of this province: "Not one cent from health care. Seal the envelope at $17.4 billion." A lot of people believed the Tories at that time, because health care is a priority, arguably the top priority for the citizens of this province.

Once they got in power, what did they do? They cut $2 billion over two years from health care, and when pushed in the House to be held accountable, they say -- and listen to them carefully, Mr Speaker, and anybody who's watching now, listen to what the government's saying versus what you thought they were saying to you in the campaign. "Not one cent from health care, a sealed envelope at $17.4 billion". Most of us assumed that meant health care stays at a minimum of $17.4 billion during the course of the government. Oh, no. No. That's not what the government's doing.

Now what they're saying is: "Oh, we meant $17.4 billion when we came in and when we go back to the people at the next election, it'll be back at $17.4 billion. But in all those years in between, we're not breaking our promise if we slash and cut away at health care as long as it's back to $17.4 billion at the end of our term."

They misled the people of Ontario on health care. As a result, they shifted all the work that's going on in communities -- and mine has been hit extremely hard. We were in agreement, as we all are, that there needs to be restructuring, there needs to be the ability to make our health care system as efficient as possible. We need to shift from merely dealing with diseases to focusing on wellbeing and health promotion and many other principles of health care going into the next century.

But in order to meet their fiscal targets, they've gone to district health councils like mine in Hamilton-Wentworth and said -- I understand it's not a direct order, but from what I gather, the district health council dare not argue against the government's suggestion, recommendation and urging to go from two years to plan this massive change in health care delivery to one year. They cut the time in half.

The result in my community of Hamilton has been a report from the task force that many health care professionals and experts are saying is flawed in its analysis, it's flawed in its conclusions, and it's bloody well flawed in recommending the closure of St Joseph's Hospital in the heart of downtown Hamilton.

While we have some differences in Hamilton about the task force report -- and we'll deal with that locally -- this government should not be let off the hook for playing a major role in forcing a process too quickly. And where have we heard that before: "Too much, too quickly"? It's the theme of this government. They take draconian action, slash and burn and cut, and then figure out what the implications are going to be later and hope they can deal with the problems.

Layoff notices have gone out to the staff at St Peter's Hospital in my riding. I've met with the families of patients that are in there, with nurses, with support staff, and they're worried about the ability to provide the kind of health care that we need in St Peter's because it serves our seniors.

That's what's happening in Hamilton-Wentworth, and I'm sure there are other examples all across the province of this government's broken promise, hurting and damaging the health care system in each community, and yet this government said "not one cent."

I might add that my colleague, the Tory backbencher from Wentworth North, for those Tories across from me who are rolling their eyes and shaking their heads, happens to have already sent a letter to the district health council saying he disagrees also with the closure of St Joseph's Hospital. So if the Health minister thinks he's going to be off the hook in terms of making sure that all the dirty work is done locally in communities like Hamilton and others and he can keep his hands clean and say, "That was done somewhere else, that's a local decision," if he thinks that he's ever going to be able to stand behind that and not address the implications and impact of his health care cuts, then he's sorely wrong. I'm sure, and I would hope, that that's not the first Tory backbencher who stands up for our community and recognizes that a closure of St Joseph's Hospital -- or for that matter any other hospital in our community -- is not necessary and it's certainly detrimental to the health care of the people of Hamilton.

I read with interest that my colleague from Hamilton West, the MPP Lillian Ross, talked with great pride, it seems -- from when I read the Hansard -- that she was very proud of the fact that here government is now getting out of the non-profit housing business, that they've cancelled 400 non-profit projects. All that's talked about in the Hansard I can see is the dollars saved. Well, again, where are a lot of those dollars going? To that tax cut. To that tax cut that the wealthy are going to benefit from.

When are Tories going to start talking about the impact on the citizens of this province, the ones who aren't going to reap the huge windfall from that tax cut, the people who need a decent place to live and who have been helped by the kinds of housing policies ironically initiated in the early, early days by the Tories, maintained and improved by the Liberals, and again improved that much more by us?

No discussion of that. I guess it's supposed to be that either those people don't matter or they're going to have to tighten their belts and just understand we're in a difficult position. That's what is so upsetting, that the people who already have money are going to get more, and those who are already struggling to survive in our society are being cut further. It's not to deal with the debt and deficit in order to put our fiscal house in order, which is a worthy and honourable goal in my opinion, but rather it's to pay for that tax cut, $5 billion to $6 billion a year.

When is this government going to start talking about people and about children and about seniors? That's who's being hit and hurt by the kind of fiscal agenda that this government has, and we never hear them talk about that. Ministers just stand up on their hind legs and start spouting the mantra about $1 million an hour. While those are important figures that we need to address, in my opinion there's no need to do the kind of harm that is happening to the average citizen, particularly the vulnerable seniors, disabled, just to give a tax cut.


Now we're hearing from economists, other money experts, people out in the field who have no real particular ties to this government or anybody else in this place, and what are they saying? "Hey, doesn't make any sense to us. If you really wanted to reduce the debt and deficit as a priority, why wouldn't you put that money that you're giving away in the tax cut, why not put that towards the debt if it's such a crisis?"

And that is why we're hearing in the media there's a big fight between the Minister of Finance and the Premier, because the Minister of Finance has the dollars in front of him. I was the parliamentary assistant to the Minister of Finance for two years in this province. I know what those kinds of reality checks are like, and I can imagine what kind of briefings the Finance minister's getting as we're seeing the economy perform at a lower level than was expected, and start to factor in the cost of this tax cut. Yet Mike Harris is saying: "We made a promise to our wealthy supporters and we're not going to back away from that. The Bible is the Common Sense Revolution. If it's in the Common Sense Revolution, it'll be done, whether it makes sense or not, and if it ain't in the Common Sense Revolution, we don't want to talk about it."

Well, Mr Speaker, you can see by the kinds of demonstrations that have been outside this Legislature. It's now becoming a tradition. We know when the Parliament of Ontario is going to open because there are a few thousand people beginning to gather in the morning and building to tens of thousands of people out in front of the Legislature. That's why there were 10,000 people who marched through the streets of London in one of the most cold, frigid days of the year, and that's why just a few weeks ago over 100,000 people protested in my community of Hamilton and marched through the downtown of Hamilton, and the message was, "Mike Harris, we are not going to take this kind of attack from you, and we will come together and we will fight you on this."

There are coalitions building, many coalitions building, because one thing this government has done is make sure that it hasn't forgotten anyone it's gone after. "We're bringing everybody together."

Mr John R. Baird (Nepean): What?

Mr Christopherson: I see Mr Baird -- I forget what riding he's from; help me out.

Mr Baird: Nepean.

Mr Christopherson: -- holding up his hand to his ear. You see, that's the problem. You folks aren't listening.


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

Mr Christopherson: You only listen to each other. I don't know what kind of pep rally you're getting in the caucus meeting, but at some point you're going to realize that won't mean a damn when you go out and knock on doors and try and get re-elected, because the people of Ontario are not going to support or re-elect individuals who support an agenda that hurt seniors, hurt kids, hurt the disabled, so that you could give a tax cut to your wealthy friends, or that you sold off the liquor stores to your rich friends, or that you broke your promise on health care or your promise on education.

I ask those of you who are here for the first time, start thinking about what you would do if the election were held in two months. What would you be saying to the people on the doorstep? Let me assure you that the people of Ontario, while they gave you a mandate to govern, and I respect your democratic right to do that, also have the democratic right to say, "That's not what we thought we were getting." I believe that's true.

The Tory member for Hamilton West also seems to take great pride in saying that rent control is going to be eliminated, and I believe the quote in Hansard is, "Rent control is not working." Well, nothing is perfect, but I defy anybody to suggest that renters in this province believe that a Tory government, the Mike Harris government, changing rent control is in any way going to benefit renters in this province, because that's not their agenda, and that's certainly not the experience of the people of Ontario when they see what this government has done. Any change to rent control is meant to help the friends who own the buildings, with no regard for the people who live there. They don't give a damn, and they'll prove that with their legislation. I have no doubt.

I remember standing on Bill 7 saying that when you take away the rights from workers, as you've done, and when you take away the disallowing of scabs -- in other words, when you made it legal again for scabs -- there'd be violence on the picket line. You had it right in front of your nose, and there's more of that coming, and I equally stand here, with as much conviction, saying that when this government introduces rent control, that's the kiss of death for renters who believe that they're entitled to a fair and equitable rent control system. That's not what's going to happen.

It's going to be interesting, because given the proposed changes in the boundaries for the next election, there are going to be a whole lot of renters who are currently not in the member for Hamilton West's riding who may indeed be, and that will apply to a lot of other Tory backbenchers. Wait till you go talk to the renters, trying to defend the dismantling of a decent rent control system for renters in this province. Just wait till you have to go and do that.

I want to end by commenting on another critical issue in my community and every other. This government made a firm commitment on education. They said, and I'm paraphrasing, that they would do nothing that would affect classroom teaching, funding that affects the classroom itself. It'll all be just trimming around the edges. It'll be administrative savings. There'll be some amalgamations of certain things. That's how they're going to find all that money. Well, we know that they've announced $1 billion in cuts; $400 million of that alone is from the secondary school system. In Hamilton, we've had over 1,000 layoffs sent out.

There is no way that you can cut that kind of money. By the way, they're making the local school boards do the dirty work again. Remember the infamous toolbox that was supposed to provide school boards with all the tools they needed so that they could deal with these kinds of cuts in an effective way? What a lot of baloney. Virtually every school board in the province of Ontario is saying: "The toolbox is empty. You've left us to do the dirty work, and that dirty work means taking away and damaging our education system." So you've broken another key promise.

What have you also done? In wrapping up, what this government is doing is slowly but surely taking away any hope that the average working person has in this province of a future where things will be better. Oh, they may be better for a few, particularly if you're already making big bucks, because you're going to do quite well by the system that the Tories are putting in place and by the Mike Harris Ontario. But when people look at what this means for their jobs, when people look at what this means for the health care system as they become older and become seniors, when we think about our kids and we think about the education system and look at the damage you're doing there, people begin to realize that Mike Harris doesn't really care about the average person in this province. He cares about an ideology; he cares about his little book, the Common Sense Revolution; and he cares about making sure that he can stand up and say, "I did what I said I would do." They've done more than that, as I've shown on Bill 7.

I think that people in the province of Ontario would expect and respect a government that takes into account what's going on around it. If they need to make adjustments, let them do it, but this blind adherence to the Common Sense Revolution is like a steamroller coming through the living room of every person in this province, wreaking all kinds of havoc and damage to people's current standard of living and certainly the future standard of living they can expect. Most importantly, it really makes us worry about what kind of Ontario will be there for our children. That will be the key to their undoing, because Ontarians will not stand by and let Mike Harris dismantle everything that is of value to Ontarians.

Mr Toby Barrett (Norfolk): As a member of the legislative standing committee on estimates, I had an opportunity to discuss issues with the Minister of Education and Training, the Minister of Community and Social Services, the Minister of Municipal Affairs and Housing, the Minister of Transportation and the Minister of Health. I found the smaller confines of the committee room fostered a comfortable dialogue between members of the committee and the ministers who came to address the previous government's estimates. Questions, however, focused largely on the course the government is now taking within each ministry to improve the standard of living and the quality of life in Ontario.


With respect to education, $400 million is being taken out of elementary and secondary school budgets in the 1996-97 budget year. I will mention that we are also reducing the cost of our own public service and ministry staff. Hence, the OPSEU picket lines around this building, bolstered by NDP and Liberal members. My concern with respect to education is that administrators and superintendents may be prone to lay off classroom education assistants, classroom teachers, before themselves or before finding savings within the system. In fact, we have already seen this type of irresponsible behaviour. This was pointed out just recently, where some boards have issued teacher layoffs before even attempting to investigate the finding of administrative savings.

In December 1995 Minister Snobelen advised the estimates committee of his respect for school boards, commenting that we can take comfort in the professionalism of the boards. Given what has occurred with irrational teacher layoff notices, clearly some boards are demonstrating lack of any reason in assessing their priorities for educating our children.

As the minister stated during the estimates committee, school boards can find savings outside the classroom. Reductions in cost can be reached through better logistics in transportation, reductions in cost perhaps through making teachers more productive, reductions in cost by applying more rigid maintenance schedules within schools.

The minister recognized that it's important that we have very good services particularly for young children, with specialists that are required in grades 1, 2 and 3, and possibly grade 4. These kinds of extra services must be preserved.

Fairness in funding our education system is a large issue for my riding and for many rural areas in the province. It was incumbent upon me to ask the minister to address the issue of property taxes and education funding. To this end, the minister has established a working group of trustees, teachers' unions and board staff to review the funding of education through property taxes. But what of parents and property owners? The review process would be incomplete without input from property owners, especially farmers in rural Ontario, who are footing most of the education bill through their property taxes. Property taxation was on the minister's mind and I was pleased to hear that should it be deemed that representation from certain segments -- for example, farmers or rural property owners -- is lacking, the minister will be open to receiving more ideas. I might add that Minister Snobelen did take the opportunity to visit my riding and I had a chance to hear some of these concerns at first hand.

Further to the estimates committee, with the changes that have taken place in our welfare system, I welcomed the opportunity to pose questions to Minister Tsubouchi. We know that welfare rates previously were 30% higher than in the other provinces. Benefits have been lowered to a level that's still 10% above the average of the other provinces. Since rates were reduced, my riding has seen an 11% decline in the welfare caseload.

With all the good intentions of the Ontario government to finally break the cycle of welfare dependency, new programs being developed to get people off welfare are still being hampered. Why is this? Because no program can compete with the allure of free cheques in the mail sent to otherwise normal, healthy people. We must come up with more compassionate solutions, solutions that encourage work and foster self-esteem, family reliance, and marriage, for that matter. Probably the most discriminated against in our society are fatherless children, and a very large percentage of these people have ended up on our welfare caseload. The reason is simple: welfare dependency.

Growing up on welfare does not do much to boost one's self-esteem. Children in such situations truly start their lives at a great and unfortunate disadvantage for future personal growth and success. Ontario Works is the government's plan to help create opportunity for welfare recipients and their children. The minister outlined objectives for workfare which are intended to help people out of the cycle of dependency. Once again, $40 billion has been spent on earlier attempts by previous governments over the last 10 years without really having any results except passing out more cheques.

The minister recalled that Tony Silipo indicated that his solution for dealing with the welfare problem was to increase benefits by 18.5%. That was the NDP's solution to everything: Help the poor by giving them handouts. Such an ideology perpetuates poverty. Give a starving man a fish and he'll eat for a day; teach a man to fish and he'll eat for the rest of his life. The days of giving away fish are over. Government today is planning to help disadvantaged Ontarians keep their own cupboards stocked.

As the minister stated in committee, what we need to do right now is get into programs that will promote self-sufficiency, will promote people taking more responsibility for themselves and their families again. Clearly, this is going to be a direction we take with Ontario Works.

First of all, Ontario Works is going to be mandatory. Responsibility is being attached to collecting a cheque. What is so revolutionary about that? That means that all able-bodied recipients are required to participate in the mandatory workfare program and those who refuse will receive no benefits.

The private sector will play a key role in bringing back hope to people trapped on social assistance, hope that will last longer than government-planned make-work projects. Ontario Works and the public volunteer sector, municipalities, service groups, trade unions and other non-profit organizations will also identify potential placements, matching people with opportunities and skills. Ontario Works will be coordinated through a central registry of all recipients and a province-wide placement opportunity database. To break down barriers to work, a child care component will be essential to the success of welfare reform.

This is an investment in future dignity and independence. We are going to provide the opportunities to reduce the cost burden to taxpayers.

In my riding of Norfolk, there's a common body of opinion that nobody ever got rich on welfare. We cannot merely afford to toy with reform. Welfare is a hand up, not a handout. In the last 10 years, government has spent about $40 billion; that's equal to 40% of the current provincial debt.

Even during the economic boom of the mid- to late 1980s, government added more people to welfare every year. In 1985, about 476,000 people were on the caseload. By 1995, the number of recipients had risen to 1.3 million people. That's to say that more than one person in 10 was receiving free money from taxpayers. Spending on welfare during that 10-year period increased 500%, from $1.4 billion in 1985 to almost $7 billion in 1995. Our benefit rates had also become the richest in the country, as much as 42% in some categories and on average 30% higher than the other nine provinces.

On October 1, 1995, our government reduced social assistance rates to a level that still remains 10% above the provincial average in this country. At the same time, benefits for seniors and people with disabilities were not reduced, as promised.

This may sound old-fashioned, but we must replace our failed welfare system with more compassionate solutions that encourage work and family reliance. However, new programs being developed to get people off welfare can still be hampered. Nobody has ever become rich on welfare, as I indicated. Clearly, work, and not the failed welfare schemes that are destroying both the dependent and those who support them with their taxes, is the ultimate answer. We must replace welfare with work.

Should we force people to work? Of course not. But should we, the taxpayer, be expected to keep paying? No. If people choose not to work, the flow of welfare cheques should be discontinued.

My concern is that government in the past has been creating, partly through welfare, a single-parent culture in some segments of our society, a culture that is based on government dependency. We have a system that seems to reward a state of dependency by providing cash and other rewards for a non-traditional family. Welfare creates disincentives to work and marriage. Do either one and the benefits stop. It's time to change the disincentives created by the system.


On February 6, 1996, the Honourable Dave Tsubouchi, Minister of Community and Social Services, outlined his ministry's vision for welfare and other forms of social services. He started by identifying goals, envisioning a system of service which supports and invests in families and in communities, where adults are independent, a society where children are safe and where support is provided to people most in need.

This being said, he recognized that individuals, families and communities have the primary responsibility to provide for themselves. Social services should promote self-reliance. They should supplement, not replace, traditional supports in the family and community by setting clear expectations for results and by targeting resources to programs and services which have proven their effectiveness. In this way, the government can afford to provide for those most in need across Ontario with both fairness and sensitivity.

Although we have reduced the amount of welfare cheques, we gave people the opportunity to earn back the difference. Many clients can earn back that difference by working only six hours a week. After all, any job is a good job. A part-time job to earn back the difference may well help a welfare recipient eventually to achieve full-time work and free them from the cycle of dependency and, I might add, the need for government intrusion into their personal lives and into their finances.

Positive signs are already visible and the cycle is starting to slow. Last summer, my office received over 1,600 phone calls, the majority of which were welfare-related. Since that time, the number of welfare-related calls has declined somewhat, due at least in part to an 11% decline in the number of welfare cases in Haldimand-Norfolk. A similar decrease of 11% is being experienced all across Ontario, where we now have over 119,000 people who have left the system. This drop will translate into a savings to taxpayers of about $1.3 billion on an annual basis.

All across the province, and in my riding of Norfolk, people are finding work without the help of government money. People are taking pride once again in their self-reliance.

With respect to the Ministry of Housing, there is very little choice available for builders to reduce their costs, which is at the centre of why there has been an affordable housing shortage in Ontario. The restrictive Ontario Building Code has priced housing production beyond what low-income Ontarians can afford to purchase or rent. I had the opportunity to question the Minister of Municipal Affairs and Housing about this problem with the Ontario Building Code, which I understand is up for review in 1997.

It's my view as well that government rules, regulations, red tape, are inhibiting not only builders but also landlords from building the kind of housing we need. We've been operating under close to 20 years of rent control. Over the past 20 years, the Ontario Building Code has been broadened extensively, especially since 1986, into areas beyond just ensuring the health and safety of occupants of the buildings or beyond ensuring that the construction is up to specifications.

As a former landlord for 12 years, I got out of the business. I could not possibly compete with an overspending government determined to out-price the market for affordable housing. Some of these building code regulations have no local relevance in my riding of Norfolk. I felt I was subjected to regulations that maybe had relevance for high-rises in the city of Toronto as opposed to regulations that would have relevance for a rural riding such as Norfolk, made up primarily of small, privately owned, single-family dwellings.

For the minister's part, he confirmed, and I quote, "We plan to totally review the building code, and this will be welcome news for rural Ontario." The minister pointed out that the code has been expanded to a point where it's gone far beyond its original intent. What I'm finding in chatting with construction people and people in the building trades is that the draconian, ever-increasing rules and regulations are taking a lot of fun out of this business, takes the spirit out of it, and almost encourages a bit of cheating on the rules. Often builders are trying to get away with the barest minimum.

With respect to the Ministry of Transportation, trucking is very important in my riding, as in many rural ridings. In my riding, because of agricultural products, ice cream, steel that is hauled out of the riding, my office is in touch with most of the small trucking companies across the riding.

They, over the years, have set very high standards, although 10 years ago, I myself watched a wheel come off a truck. I tried to raise some key issues with Minister of Transportation Palladini. With respect to truck safety, I recognize that a recent announcement was made by the minister requiring training programs for operators to address their own brakes, and the committee also heard that 7% of fatal accidents are attributed to large, heavy trucks and tractor-trailers.

Notwithstanding the numerous safe operators of trucks, public concerns are very high about the potential dangers posed by unsafe trucks and irresponsible drivers. While we have safety records of Ontario trucks, I asked the minister for statistics on US trucks. Rudi Wycliffe, acting assistant deputy minister, safety and regulation division, responded to my question.

Once a year, the Ministry of Transportation conducts a major safety blitz, in conjunction with other jurisdictions across North America. All the provinces, all the states of the United States who have jurisdiction for on-highway truck safety enforcement are involved in what's referred to as Road Check, the safety blitz I referred to.

I was advised that Ontario trucks performed no better or no worse than trucks from other provinces and other states. In 1995, during a three-day Road Check period, the Ministry of Transportation inspected 2,366 trucks; 43.2% were taken out of service. Of those 2,366 trucks, 42% were deemed to be defective in having an out-of-service rate not applicable to standards. There were 348 trucks from the United States; the out-of-service rate there was 45.4%. Quebec was the next-largest jurisdiction: 188 trucks inspected; the out-of-service rate was 49.5%.

There's another bone of contention in my area. Many US trucks come through operating on US-purchased fuel, and many of these trucks don't even stop in Ontario. I mentioned my concern for provincial Highway 3 during estimates. It was the third provincial highway, hence the number, to be built in Ontario, and at the time it was built, in the 1920s, it was a link between New York and Michigan. I understand that many US rigs can be outfitted with extra tanks for diesel. They can carry, as I understand, up to 900 gallons of diesel. They can spend all week driving around Ontario and not be required to refuel.

It begs certain questions. To what extent are US carriers basically getting a free ride in Ontario and are getting off the hook as far as certain taxes or fees are concerned? They're obviously not paying turnpike fees when they're in Ontario, because we don't have any yet. To what extent are our roads being deteriorated by these tractor-trailers without compensation, and to what extent are we in an unenviable position of our truckers trying to compete with that industry?

I mentioned the main corridor through my riding, provincial Highway 3. I've received many, many access requests for Highway 3. The problem remains that over the last 21 years this highway, because of traffic, has been labelled "controlled access" to ensure the public is not put at risk. It has caused problems over the years for farmers and business people who understandably have very little interest in the Buffalo-Detroit requirements, other than, say, some of the tourist-based operations. They want to run agribusiness on this highway; for example, they want second laneways on farm properties, or fruit and vegetable stands. Many of these rules and regulations may not fit in some areas. They are inhibiting real estate transactions and inhibiting business and job creation.


Assistant Deputy Minister Vervoort advised that the purpose of corridor control activities is to protect the safety of the travelling public and, secondly, the integrity of the highway system in terms of the provincial role being through traffic and municipal roads being primarily for access to adjacent lands. Those two systems play different fundamental roles in our transportation system.

I trust the Ministry of Transportation will continue to keep an eye on provincial Highway 3. As the riding grows and business investments come in, the area may well seem more attractive for access to and from Michigan and New York state. That attraction may put pressure on changes for Highway 3 sooner or later. Rest assured, I will continue to advise on issues pertaining to this highway.

I also welcome the opportunity to introduce for discussion the concept of the Ontario turnpike. This is a proposal for a toll road. This is a proposal that I believe is badly needed to act as a trade corridor across southwestern Ontario. I would ask us all here to visualize. If you take a look at one of the North American maps that show all the turnpikes and toll roads and throughways, you'll see a couple of large gaps. There's a very large gap in Pennsylvania, for example, because of the mountains. If you're thinking of going from Michigan to New York on turnpikes, there's another large gap. That's Ontario.

The proposal that's been discussed, and it's been kicked around for many, many years, is the concept of what's been lately called the Ontario turnpike, essentially a US-style toll road. The most recent proposal I have seen would run this turnpike on the soon-to-be-abandoned CN railway line which runs north of Lake Erie. With an increasing move to just-in-time delivery, we are moving away from a system of rail transport to trucks.

I mentioned that the idea of toll roads is not new. This was first proposed in November 1938, in the era of Premier Mitch Hepburn.

It's projected that with this proposed turnpike as many as 20,000 jobs will be created during construction, and of course permanent jobs after that. Another perceived advantage is that it will take pressure off the existing 400 series, the QEW down through the Niagara fruit land.

According to Deputy Minister Davies, up until the early 1920s we did have toll roads in this province and much of the development on highways in this province in the latter part of the 19th century was financed by private capital. Highway 407 is our first modern-day experience with toll roads in this province.

Assistant Deputy Minister Guscott mentioned that the TransFocus 2021 study did look at the infrastructure needs for transportation in an area including Niagara, Brant, Hamilton-Wentworth and Haldimand-Norfolk. Extensive modelling around the QEW dilemma -- its limited scope on tender fruit land -- was done. The ministry does not feel that the opportunities for widening the highway beyond its current plans are there. Therefore, we need to look at alternatives; perhaps alternatives like the Ontario turnpike. The ministry had discussed the turnpike proposal up to 1994 with interested parties, and I'll be renewing this issue for serious discussion.

Finally, I want to briefly touch on health, in particular the issue of physician services, which is very important in my riding. Ontario has more physicians than it needs; however, there is a problem with the distribution of those physicians across the province. Even though the supply of physicians has increased by 40% during the last 10 years, there is a serious shortage of medical services in many rural communities.

I had the opportunity to question the Minister of Health, Jim Wilson, on this issue. His response confirmed for me that the minister, himself from a rural riding, is committed to ensuring that each of us has access to an appropriate level of health care. I questioned Health Minister Wilson in the estimates committee about physician services in rural Ontario and asked that he immediately, for example, investigate a situation in Port Rowan, a small village in my riding that could be used as a case study for the rest of the province of Ontario. Port Rowan's medical needs and its application for an underserviced designation is pending. The minister has personally vowed to follow up on this, "I will undertake to review your area as soon as possible."

The problem remains, however, to find a long-term solution. Financial incentives would only be a Band-Aid solution to a problem that is looming large across our province. For his part, the Minister of Health is committed to working with the medical community to finding lasting solutions to the distribution of physician services. Answers are long overdue.

I think many of us know the government is not considering telling your doctor where to practise. At this time, the Minister of Health has publicly stated that no area of the province will be designated overserviced. He will wait to see if new incentives discussed with the Ontario Medical Association help to improve physician distribution -- incentives such as special training for rural and northern medical practices. Should these initiatives fail, however, it will be possible to place a temporary moratorium on new family practices in overserviced areas. Taxpayers' dollars should not have to support doctors in areas where there is an oversupply. Family practitioners could choose to practise in any other area, serving patients where they are needed.

Statistics provided to me by the Ministry of Health underscore the need for more physicians in my riding of Norfolk. The Council of Ontario Faculties of Medicine proposed in the mid-1980s that an acceptable doctor-to-patient ratio be one doctor for every 1,380 people. While the ratio has yet to be updated, it does provide a benchmark from which we can evaluate our level of physician service. The region of Haldimand-Norfolk has a doctor-patient ratio of 1 to 1,508. My neighbouring Oxford county has a doctor-patient ratio of 1 to 1,523.

If time permitted, I would also wish to discuss the issue of hospital funding and restructuring and its impact on health care, and of course concerns for my riding. I have been meeting with many local health care providers and I can tell you there's no shortage of ideas on how to meet the health care needs in my riding. Again, on the estimates committee, and through the good graces of Minister Jim Wilson and his competent staff, there was also no shortage of ideas to deal with our significant health care issues in this province of Ontario.

I thank you for your time. If I had more time, I could carry on a bit longer.

Mrs Sandra Pupatello (Windsor-Sandwich): It's always a pleasure to speak so that the people at home might get at least some unfiltered view of some of the government actions of late, especially today that we're talking about estimates. We had the opportunity to have ministers on occasion step in and speak to the committee about estimates of the previous government and, at that time, give their commentary on what they would be prepared to be doing during their next year as they were leading their ministries, and how does it affect us and, in particular, me and my riding in Windsor and La Salle.

I'm always pleased to follow on the heels of any Conservative member so that, like Paul Harvey on that radio station, we can tell the rest of the story. We always tend to get only the half, and you never want to give the other half that actually gives the public the full information in order to make a decision on whether you indeed are a competent government or not.


I'd like to start by talking about education, because what interested me most about the member for Norfolk was that he prefaced his remarks about how the Conservative members are the most interested in children, children in Ontario, and yet the very things that every ministry has done so far has been to neglect the children of Ontario. In fact, we started early on in September to say that Mike Harris has declared war on the children of Ontario, and we believe that's true.

If we look at the Ministry of Education and the kinds of changes that they are bringing to bear on parents and children in Ontario, what will the ultimate impact be? I think we'll see a worsening of the youth employment rate. Currently, the unemployment rate stands at between 25% and 30%. We are seeing very little activity in that way. Today, in March, we're looking forward to what kind of announcements might be coming, for example, in student employment, because those very students who are looking for jobs this summer are going to be paying even higher tuitions in their future and they're not going to have the jobs that they've had in the past. What kind of leadership role is this government playing to ensure that students are going to find employment?

Then the member for Norfolk went on to say that children's services were critical. Well, let's talk about what this government is going to offer for the children of Ontario. Is it those children who had already been enrolled in JK, who found out at the very last minute that they may or may not have that program? Or that we had all waited with baited breath for this introduction of the tool kit that was going to come from Minister Snobelen that would be the answer to the prayers for school boards to learn to deal with a $400-million cut, that only being the first, finding yet another $600 million the following year, and making the announcement midway into their year so that they can only make those cuts this year based on a September-to-December calendar, not even allowing school boards to make the kind of planning decisions they have to make, not even recognizing how many teachers they can have available?

What we've seen across Ontario is huge numbers of teachers, in particular young teachers, those often the most energetic and full of vitality and ready to serve, received their pink slips, thousands of them across Ontario and likely more to come. The very thing this government was elected to do was not to cut classroom spending, and yet the kind of activity we see now is to lob a huge spending cut but say, "Oh, but it's not going to affect the classroom." Instead, apparently they're going -- perhaps; we're not sure yet -- by the definition by John Sweeney of what administration is. So let's talk about children's services as it relates to school boards.

That 47% that John Sweeney identified as spending cuts that are part of administration includes the student aides for children with disabilities to go forward in school and have the assistance if they need to do so. That administration also includes a psychometrist for children at risk and children who need intervention and special services in school. That also includes counselling programs so that the youth can make accurate decisions on what kind of future they may have in Ontario.

Those are the areas of children's service that are now on the block, and the tool kit, which every school board in Ontario has recognized is virtually empty, the school boards now are left to determine what those cuts are, and depending on where you live in Ontario will depend how the school board will implement the cut. Ontario's role as a government is to determine the level of education as a standard across Ontario, and this government is changing that. Depending on where you live, depending on how tax-rich that community may be, that will depend on what the school board will be able to afford.

Some may increase the mill rate so that parents and others with no children in the school system will pay a higher tax in order to offer the moneys available. They'll be paying higher tax, because they cannot choose which programs not to include, and yet the member who just spoke before me says that this government is determined to provide good services for children. In the words of a great fellow from La Salle, that's a bunch of crap.

I've got to tell you that we'll go further on the debate on education. I'm looking forward on Thursday to have a debate with the Minister of Labour in her home town of Waterloo. I look forward to having her stand and debate how the cuts in education are not going to affect the classroom, because indeed they will affect the classroom, and parents at home should recognize that is not what you were elected to do.

But there are a number of things that you were elected not to do, so let's talk about another one that influences my town particularly. The Minister of Health came down to Windsor last week and announced a capital expenditure for the hospital reconfiguration, and what did that mean? He announced $48 million in capital required to close two hospitals, leave a remaining two, and what did he forget to tell us? That the whole concept of the restructuring proposal to begin with, just like the other 60 across Ontario, is that moneys must be moved from hospitals to community-based services. But when the minister came to Windsor he forgot the other half of the equation. So what he announced was the capital expense, but he forgot to announce that we're supposed to have moves of health services to communities. Instead, when he was asked the question, are the savings from local hospitals going to be reinvested in their communities, there was a resounding no.

When the good people of Windsor got together to prepare that Win-Win report, it was on the basis of a restructuring concept that governments, regardless of party -- previous Liberal, previous NDP, previous Conservative -- all acknowledged, that restructuring was required on the basis that we must move services from hospitals to community-based. But again he stopped shy. Instead, when he was in Windsor he said too: "I don't know why everyone's giving us such a hard time. We haven't cut a cent from health."

Let me tell you that the moment you were elected you announced a $132 million cut right off the top. You announced another $1.3 billion in cuts to hospitals in November for the economic statement. And yet this minster is on record as saying that "With every cut, we're going to reannounce other programs where we're going to move the services." I will tell you that every one of us here knows you have not announced that level of spending in health. You indeed have cut the health care budget.

Only in the interests of time and because I'm so looking forward to going on tomorrow with further debate on this, Mr Speaker, I'll finish for tonight and continue on, as we're getting close to 6 o'clock.

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

The House adjourned at 1758.