36th Parliament, 1st Session

L044 - Wed 20 Mar 1996 / Mer 20 Mar 1996





















































The House met at 1333.




Mr Pat Hoy (Essex-Kent): This is a toonie I have in my hand. It represents the two sides of Mike Harris's Ontario.

On one side, we have the "Open for business" sign, which allows the government to continue collecting revenues during the strike.

Last Friday, my constituency office received a call from an employer in my riding who needed to make her employer health tax remittance that day but was not able to get through the picket lines. The Ministry of Finance advised that there is a list of many government offices open and available to take payments. The Finance ministry said the government was open for business. They said she must meet the Friday payment deadline, even if she had to push through a picket line to do so. Obviously, the government has made sure that workers are available to keep the money coming in.

On the other side of the coin, however, is a sign reading "Closed up tighter than a drum."

Today, I had a call from a constituent whose driver's licence was wrongly revoked because of a computer glitch. My constituent needs his licence for his job, yet the Transportation ministry tells us they cannot provide a temporary licence or issue a letter which would allow my constituent to drive until a regular licence was issued.

The government is blaming the strike, saying they can do nothing to assist my constituent, yet they are open for business when it comes to collecting revenues. Obviously, Mike Harris underestimated the level of public urgency of some of the services provided by the government -- or maybe he just doesn't care.


Ms Frances Lankin (Beaches-Woodbine): I rise today to demand that this government immediately order a full public inquiry into the police violence against pickets last Monday. Only the members of this government think that nothing went wrong, but who are you listening to?

The president of the Metropolitan Toronto Police Association believed that the OPP acted improperly, and he said he was disgusted when he heard that the OPP were boasting that they'd "whack 'em and stack 'em" shortly before they clashed with demonstrators.

The public is shocked and outraged over photos and television coverage of police in riot gear beating up on school teachers and civil servants. But still this government refuses to take responsibility for what happened.

This government seems to think that taking away people's rights and stripping workers of fair compensation is good government and that it's good for business. But are images of riot squads and billy clubs at the Ontario Legislature good for business? Is unprecedented labour unrest good for business?

The government has a responsibility to the people of Ontario to assure them that their police force is acting in the interests of the public.

I remind the Premier and the Solicitor General that they are ultimately responsible for the safety of not only the members of this House but of the people who were legally demonstrating outside this building. The public has a right to feel safe. Intimidating people from exercising their right to demonstrate is just another example of this government's arrogance.

I demand that this government listen to what people are saying. They must listen to the police and the public and have the courage to order a public inquiry of the police violence this past Monday.


Mr Ted Chudleigh (Halton North): Halton North has long suffered from a lack of adequate chronic and long-term-care facilities. This being so, it is my pleasure on this day to rise and share good news on behalf of all residents of my riding and Halton region.

The Ministry of Health recently gave its approval for Georgetown and District Memorial Hospital to proceed with its chronic care relocation project. The $1.3-million funding announcement will provide state-of-the-art delivery of this service. This is a much-needed facility and a good first step in addressing the high needs of the region in the health care sector. Funding for the chronic care project will also allow the hospital to pursue the development of a 57-bed long-term-care facility.

Ontarians deserve a sound, secure health care system. Despite the need to reduce the overall spending, we are committed to protecting our health care budget. This announcement reflects the government's commitment to find savings and efficiencies in some areas in order to reinvest and to meet the needs in others to provide new technologies and meet the needs of an aging population.

I am pleased by the minister's reinvestment announcement and thank him on behalf of those people who will benefit directly in the region as a result of this initiative.

Mr Speaker, perhaps you would allow me to suggest that I have a particular interest in hospitals today, as my daughter is in the process of delivering my fourth grandchild.


Mrs Elinor Caplan (Oriole): Over the last nine months, we have seen Mike Harris break a lot of campaign promises.

There was Mike Harris's promise not to cut health care. "Not one cent" is what he said. But what did he do? He cut $1.5 billion, more than $1.3 billion from our hospitals alone.

Mike Harris promised not to bring in user fees, yet what did he do? He brought in more than $225 million in new user fees targeted to hurt Ontario's seniors and poor.

Mike Harris promised to protect law enforcement and classroom education. What did he do? He cut more than $1 billion from school boards and municipalities which provide these important services.

Mike Harris has broken a lot of promises, but on Monday we saw not just another broken promise; we saw how Mike Harris's revolution is changing our province.

Just days before the election, Mike Harris promised Ontarians that under his premiership Ontario would be a kinder, gentler and fairer province. Clearly, nothing could be further from the truth. Through his actions, his smugness and his baiting, Harris has divided this province and he has encouraged confrontation.

Billy clubs and riot police do not make our province a kinder or gentler place, Mr Harris. This is not the province I grew up in. I am not proud of what we have become and this is not the kind of province that I want for my children, my grandchildren and yours.



Mrs Marion Boyd (London Centre): Part of our job is to represent the views of our constituents in this place, and I have had many calls in my office and many approaches from people in London Centre to talk about their view of what happened on Monday around this place. One senior who called described herself as absolutely horrified that she would see such a thing in her Ontario. A young person called describing it as a war zone and sounding very frightened.

In the London Free Press yesterday there were three accounts that were presented from union people. They were from Dave Kerr, who's the president of OPSEU Local 115 in St Thomas; Rudy Parachoniak, a member of OPSEU Local 108 in London; and Jeff Hale, a member of OPSEU Local 108 in London. All of them describe a situation in which they believe the response of the police was absolutely uncalled for.

One of the quotes is: "They smashed people out of the way. They were hitting people with night clubs, knocking them down." Another was hit by pepper spray. He said he had just picked up his picket when he heard a whistle signalling something was going to start to happen, and he had no way of getting out of the way. Another said he was hit by a billy club during the 1:10 incident. He said, "I was trying to hold some of the people back because I knew it was going to get nasty by the way the police came out."

Mr Speaker, please give us a public inquiry so that more of these stories can be told so the people of Ontario will --

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


Mr Marcel Beaubien (Lambton): It is with great pleasure and certainly with a breath of fresh air that I rise today to relay a message from the farm families of Ontario. On their behalf, I'd like to extend an invitation to all the members of this House to attend the Ontario Federation of Agriculture and the Ontario Agricultural Commodity Council's Taste of Ontario reception. It will be held today from 4 pm to 7 pm in the legislative dining room.

I'd like to encourage all members to attend this unique opportunity to experience and taste the bounty of this great province and to meet many key leaders of Ontario's agricultural community. Let me end by reminding this House that in Ontario, there's no taste like home.


M. Jean-Marc Lalonde (Prescott et Russell) : Je profite de l'occasion pour saluer les francophones de l'Ontario en cette Journée internationale de la francophonie.

Yesterday I left this chamber and went outside to speak with the meat processing plant owners and employees who were protesting in front of Queen's Park. Like the meat processing plant owners and employees of Prescott and Russell, they are angry because until February 19 of this year they were told by the Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs that meat inspection would continue with part-time inspectors during the strike.

They are also angry because they were advised only days before the strike started about the Ontario Labour Relations Board decision on the essential services agreement, even though the board's decision was taken on May 10, 1995.

Je voudrais apporter à l'attention du gouvernement que plus de 100 employés d'une dizaine d'abattoirs de Prescott et Russell sont présentement en chômage et que plusieurs de ces abattoirs, dont la majorité sont des entreprises familiales, ne pourront rouvrir leurs portes après la grève à cause de difficultés financières causées par l'inaction du gouvernement. De plus, pas moins de 2,000 employés et 300 abattoirs sont inactifs en Ontario et un nombre incalculable de producteurs et d'agriculteurs subissent des pertes financières importantes, encore une fois à cause de l'inaction du gouvernement dans ce dossier.

The Speaker (Hon Allan K. McLean): Time has expired.


Mr Peter Kormos (Welland-Thorold): People in Welland-Thorold and across this province are sickened, disgusted, indeed frightened as a result of their having witnessed the excessive and brutal application of illegal force to members of Ontario's public who were peacefully and lawfully gathered around this Legislative Assembly and neighbouring buildings on Monday of this week past.

People in Ontario witnessed an unprovoked attack within the midst of little children. Among the victims were a school teacher and at least one Metro Toronto police officer. Indeed, as recently as today I've received telephone messages of Ontario Provincial Police officers from other parts of this province who condemn the conduct of Mike Harris's and Bob Runciman's goon squad outside this Legislative Assembly when they attacked law-abiding Ontarians, bloodied them, beat them, sent them to the hospital, knocked them to the ground, leaving them lying unconscious on the pavement.

I tell you, Speaker, as of Monday, this government has nothing to be proud of. This cries out for an independent public inquiry so that responsibility can rest at the feet of those who --

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


Mr Jim Flaherty (Durham Centre): I rise today to inform the members of this House about the tremendous work being done by a group of young people in Durham Centre riding.

They have founded and run a charitable, non-profit organization called Sunrise Youth Group. It's mission is to provide human support and friendship for people with special needs. I am proud to say that Sunrise Youth Group has to date reached out to over 900 physically challenged people through more than 1,000 voluntary participants in its many programs, such as residential camps, cabin retreat weekends, dances and athletic events.

Inspired by its philosophy of "Peer support, not paid support," Sunrise Youth Group strives to break down imaginary boundaries between differently abled individuals through real working models of inclusion within a shared experience of community and mutual responsibility for one another.

Generating a total of over 60,000 hours of unpaid volunteer work over the last three years, Sunrise Youth Group is supported by fund-raising, donations, program fees and funding from the Ministry of Community and Social Services. The group has decided that, beginning in April, it will become gradually independent of ministry funding through a mutually developed, innovative plan to obtain alternative funding to support its excellent services to people with special needs.

This keen initiative by Sunrise Youth Group is to be applauded by the Ministry of Community and Social Services as an exemplary model for other community service organizations to emulate.


The Speaker (Hon Allan K. McLean): The events of Monday, March 18, in and around the legislative precinct were extremely disturbing to me and should be to all members of this House. The actions on all sides that I viewed on the news and indeed outside my window have troubled me greatly.

If I might beg the indulgence of the House for a few moments, I would like to respond to security concerns raised yesterday, and I would ask that the members bear with me a few minutes since I find it necessary to first outline the sequence of events, make certain observations and conclude with my own recommendations. This makes for a rather lengthy statement.

On Monday, March 18, the member for Welland-Thorold (Mr Kormos) raised a point of privilege with respect to the actions of the police in and around the parliamentary precincts earlier in the day. Yesterday, the member for Windsor-Riverside (Mr Cooke) rose on a point of order on the same matter. The members for Durham West (Mrs Ecker); Sudbury (Mr Bartolucci); Algoma (Mr Wildman); Ottawa West (Mr Chiarelli); Etobicoke West (Mr Stockwell); Hamilton East (Mr Agostino); Welland-Thorold (Mr Kormos); Yorkview (Mr Sergio); Lake Nipigon (Mr Pouliot); and St Catharines (Mr Bradley) also spoke on the point raised.

Let me begin by clarifying the procedural issues. The issues raised with respect to the actions of the police on Monday cannot be considered to be points of order since those must deal with the procedure that is followed inside this chamber and in the legislative committees. Neither can I find that a prima facie case of privilege has been established. In his ruling of October 23, 1991, Speaker Warner summarized the intent of privilege as follows:

"Parliamentary privileges of members of the assembly...were intended to give members and others certain special rights and immunities considered essential for the operation of the assembly. These rights and immunities allow the assembly to meet and carry out its proper constitutional role. They also permit members to discharge their parliamentary responsibilities, and permit others properly involved in the parliamentary process to carry out their duties and responsibilities."

The actions of the police in and around the legislative precincts on Monday do not, by definition, constitute a breach of any collective or individual privilege. While it may be argued that the restriction or denial of access of the members of this House could be considered a contempt of Parliament, this is not precisely the issue we are dealing with today.

However, while a prima facie case of privilege has not been established, this does not end the matter.


Many members will know that I have had a longstanding preoccupation with the security of the legislative precincts. I have on previous occasions shared these concerns with members of this House, and in an effort to resolve them, I requested that the standing committee on the Legislative Assembly conduct a security review. I have met with that committee, and I anticipate a report from it soon. It is my hope that we can set in place a permanent consultative process whereby the Speaker can seek advice and share information on security issues.

The security review and report of the standing committee on the Legislative Assembly will be of a great deal of assistance to me and to future Speakers. However, the committee has not yet completed its deliberations, and security decisions had to be made in anticipation of the attendance of significant numbers of demonstrators at the legislative precincts on Monday. I believe that it would have been negligent not to have considered security arrangements in preparation for that. As a result, the usual steps were followed and precautions taken in accordance with the 1993 memorandum of understanding between the Ministry of the Solicitor General and the Legislative Assembly.

As the member for Ottawa West correctly indicated yesterday, under the terms of that memorandum of understanding, the Ministry of the Solicitor General may recommend that a special event or situation requires a greater than normal level of security and that a security plan is prepared by the legislative security service, that is to say, the Ontario Provincial Police. The plan is then reviewed by the Sergeant at Arms, after which it is presented to the Speaker. From the time the memorandum of understanding came into being, this has constituted "notice to the assembly." Assuming the Speaker is in agreement, the plan is signed by the Sergeant at Arms and released to the OPP and the Ontario Government Protective Service for implementation.

Since 1993, there have been approximately 15 such plans. In the case at hand, the plan was one prepared for the event of the strike as a whole by OPSEU and made reference to varying degrees of threat. In general, it can be said that the Sergeant at Arms and the Speaker are guided by the advice they receive from the OPP.

Before the signing of the 1993 memorandum of understanding, such plans were prepared. However, they were never discussed with either the Speaker or the Sergeant at Arms.

This procedure was followed in advance of Monday's demonstration. I am sure that the members will understand that this is not a document that should be distributed widely before an event takes place. However, it seems to me that if the standing committee on the Legislative Assembly were to create a security subcommittee or some other consultative body, the plan could be shared with them in advance of its being signed.

I have received a report from the legislative security service in response to concerns raised by the member for Welland-Thorold, the contents of which I will make available to the Legislative Assembly committee.

I would now like to briefly discuss the matter of the court order. Prior to the commencement of the strike action taken by the Ontario Public Service Employees Union, my primary concern was and continues to be that the members of this House and those staff necessary to its operation are assured access to these precincts. For that reason, acting on behalf of the members of this assembly, I sought legal advice and took steps to prepare an application for a court injunction. Let me be clear that it was never my intent to prevent lawful pickets from occurring on the grounds of the precincts. It was my intent, however, to ensure that the House would not be prevented from meeting.

In my opinion, on Monday, March 18, there were attempts to restrict, delay and in some cases obstruct access to this place. I found this sufficient cause to proceed with the application for an injunction. As has been reported in the press, the injunction was granted by the Honourable Mr Justice Winkler. I intend to table a copy of that court order. The order reads as follows:

"This court orders that defendants, and any one having notice of this order, shall not impede, obstruct, restrict or delay free access or egress into or from the east door of the main Legislative Building and the north door of the Whitney building, of members of the provincial Parliament and essential staff of the Legislative Assembly."

I might add here that the decision of the court on this matter has made the issue of access to the legislative precincts a matter not just of privilege but of common law.

There was a suggestion made yesterday that I should have somehow delayed the commencement of the meeting of the House on Monday, pending the court decision. In response, I say firstly that the Speaker does not have the power to alter the commencement time of the House, even if the House leaders had first been consulted and had agreed. In addition, by delaying or preventing the House from meeting even for only a day would have been to do the very thing that I was trying to prevent. The members were here, necessary staff was here, there was no reason for the House not to proceed and to continue to meet regardless of the outcome of the court decision.

Several members indicated to me yesterday that they believe that a public inquiry should be ordered to investigate the police actions of Monday, March 18. I am certain that members know that the Speaker has no authority to order a public inquiry. A public inquiry under the Public Inquiries Act can only be ordered by the Lieutenant Governor in Council.

I find that the events of Monday were of such a grave nature that I as Speaker must take whatever action is in my authority. In this regard, in the strongest terms possible, I urge that the matters raised yesterday be fully investigated by this Legislature. I have heard arguments that suggest there are members who do not believe that a legislative committee is the appropriate legislative body for this matter. To them I would say that legislative committees are the means that we as legislators have at hand and the only means that I as Speaker have authority to consider.

I therefore urgently recommend that the House leaders meet and come to an agreement for an order of reference to be formally referred by motion of the House to a standing committee of this Legislature. I further recommend that such an order of reference allow for a full investigation, including public hearings --


The Speaker: Could I have some order in the House, please?

Mr Gilles Pouliot (Lake Nipigon): Well, just shut her down, Mr Speaker.

The Speaker: I'll do it.

I further recommend that such an order of reference allow for a full investigation, including public hearings and I am confident that the committee in question will ensure that they hear representation from all parties involved. In addition, since it is my belief that consideration of this issue cannot be delayed and will require some time to complete, I recommend that the House leaders allow the committee additional time to meet over and above its regularly scheduled meeting times.

Finally, while it is absolutely within the authority of the House leaders to determine which committee should consider this matter, I would recommend that it be referred to the standing committee on the Legislative Assembly. My reasons for this are threefold: First, it has traditionally been the responsibility of this committee to consider matters of this nature and should continue to be. Second, the standing committee on the Legislative Assembly is less likely than some others to be interrupted by a referral of legislation. Third, and to my mind most importantly, this committee has already embarked on a general security review and this background would be helpful in its deliberations.

I want to reiterate that I find this issue to be of the utmost importance and urgency and I cannot convey strongly enough to the three House leaders my fervent wish that they meet immediately to draft an order of reference. That is my conclusion.

Mrs Lyn McLeod (Leader of the Opposition): Point of order, Mr Speaker.

The Speaker: The issue has been dealt with.

Mrs McLeod: Mr Speaker, it has not been dealt with. On a point of order, Mr Speaker: I find it difficult to believe that before I even get to state my point of order, you've decided that the issue I'm going to raise has been dealt with. You don't know the issue I'm about to raise. I'm not surprised that you suspect the issue I'm about to raise, because I do rise on a point of order related to the responsibilities of the Speaker and in fact, to the conduct of the assembly and to the appropriateness of a legislative committee investigating what can only be described as police action taken against citizens of this province.


There are issues of security related to the members of the assembly and to the security of the assembly building itself, Mr Speaker, and I recognize your responsibility in addressing those issues. I also respect the fact that there has been a committee of this assembly that has been looking at security issues and will be continuing to look at security issues. But I submit to you that it is not only beyond your responsibility to order a separate and independent inquiry, but it is beyond your responsibility to suggest that that legislative assembly committee can deal with the issue, quite separate from the issue of access to this building of members, of police action against Ontario citizens. That can only be dealt with by an entirely independent, non-political, full public inquiry.

I am somewhat surprised that the Premier takes that particular moment at which we assign responsibility for the next actions to his government to leave the assembly.

I do accept the fact, and you will appreciate that I'm accepting the fact, of your statement that you as Speaker do not have responsibility to deal with the issue of a public inquiry. We will indeed be using our appropriate question period opportunity to challenge the government to order exactly that kind of public inquiry.

Mr Speaker, there is only one other issue of order that I would like to raise with you today, and that's the whole issue of dealing with the security plan. I don't wish to challenge you on it, because I simply don't know what goes behind the development of a security plan, who is ultimately responsible for it, who is supposed to read it. I've heard you say that you did not read the plan. I'm not sure how that fits with your responsibility to provide for the security of the assembly building. I'm not sure how you can be accountable for that if you haven't read the plan to maintain security. I think that stands as an unanswered question.

I would like you to rule on whether or not that security plan can be tabled with this assembly so that we may have a fuller understanding of what the plans were and who in fact was responsible for putting the plans in place. At the very least, we'd like to know who drafted it and who did read it and who knew what security provisions were being made in the event of what was clearly an anticipated problem on Monday.

Mr Speaker, if it's not possible for the security plan to be tabled with the assembly, and I'll await your ruling on that, I would ask that at the very least that security plan be tabled with an independent public inquiry, which we trust the government will order following question period today.

The Speaker: I want to respond to the leader of the official opposition. If she had listened to my statement, my statement read, "Before the signing of the 1993 memorandum of understanding" -- this is before 1993 -- "such plans were prepared, however, they were never discussed with either the Speaker or the Sergeant at Arms." That was before 1993; that's not the case now.

Mrs McLeod: Mr Speaker, I do stand to be corrected. Am I to understand then --


Mrs McLeod: I'm sorry; I realize that the government members are feeling very sensitive and very testy at any challenge on this issue, but, Mr Speaker, I simply want to ask of you, are you saying then to me that I misunderstood and that since this was post-1993 you did in fact read the security plan and know what was in it? Will you then further rule on my request to have that plan tabled?

The Speaker: On a further point of privilege, the member for Windsor-Riverside.

Mr David S. Cooke (Windsor-Riverside): Mr Speaker, first of all, I do appreciate the difficult circumstance that you are in as Speaker. There are a couple of issues, though, that I am not clear on from your ruling.

First of all, you made no reference to the member for Sudbury's point of privilege. I find difficult that it is not a point of privilege. But I think that we are owed some kind of an explanation. When the Ontario Provincial Police riot unit, tactical unit -- there was some other phrase used this morning on radio -- is running up and down the hall banging their shields and enters an MPP's office, and a member comes to the House and says to you as Speaker that he and his staff were intimidated, did feel intimidated, I can't believe that it's possible to say there is no point of privilege. Those are the parliamentary precincts. This is our place, and that is the fundamental question of principle. So there's that that I would like to have an understanding on.

Mr Speaker, you've made reference to the security plan. I would like to ask you, I would like to have that plan tabled, not just to the Legislative Assembly committee. I would like to have the security plan not tabled just to the Legislative Assembly committee but tabled here today. I think part of the public scrutiny of this whole incident is making those documents available, as the report that you indicated would be tabled to the Legislative Assembly committee. I for one am not prepared to have this matter dealt with in a confidential way. It's going to be and has got to be dealt with in a public way, which means that report should be tabled in the assembly.

Mr Speaker, finally, I understand clearly that you do not -- and I think in correspondence I sent to you today I understand that you do not -- have the authority to call a public inquiry, and I think we recognized that yesterday. We ask that you voice, as the leader, as the Speaker of this place and a person who has clearly said that you have grave concerns about what happened on Monday, you could state clearly your view as Speaker about a public inquiry.

You will remember very clearly that there was an agreement back in September that there would be full hearings of the Legislative Assembly and that the government House leader at the time said, "Yeah, yeah, yeah, we can agree to a referral." We never got a referral by the three House leaders to the Legislative Assembly committee. There were never parameters for public hearings. There was never a public airing of what happened.

Our caucus is not prepared to accept or put faith in that process because it did not work in the throne speech riots. It did not respond to those very serious concerns.

And I am very concerned that because of the domination of government members on that committee, and the fact that there will be three political parties, of course, that the process will turn into a partisan bickering instead of the public airing of that incident on Monday. We want an arm's-length review that will look at not just the provincial police but everybody who was involved, and it's got to be done by somebody who has nothing to do with the assembly, somebody who can do an arm's-length, legal review of what happened.

Mr Speaker, while you have said today that you have grave concerns about what happened on Monday and that there has to be a public review, I think you would be most helpful if you would indicate whether you believe that a public inquiry would also be of assistance to resolving this, on your behalf, on behalf of all of us in this place, but more importantly, on behalf of the public that wants to know what went wrong on Monday.

Mr James J. Bradley (St Catharines): Mr Speaker, I'll try to do it as briefly as possible this afternoon to find a resolution to this. I find it unfortunate that we are in this particular circumstance, but clearly you can see, and all of us can see, from the debate that's taken place in the last few days in this House, what would happen if this matter were to be dealt with by a legislative committee, that is, the matter of the police action against the citizens who were assembled near this building.

I have had experience with legislative committees. I know members mean well when they are there. All want to be as independent-minded as possible, but there's no question that partisan considerations, and I say that on all sides, come into the deliberations and the ultimate report which is written.

The other problem we have with legislative committees, and it is as a result of each election, is that legislative committees are structured so that the party with the most seats -- in this case the governing party, and the majority party -- has a majority on the committee, so the report that comes forward from the committee is going to be only a report with which government members can agree. Otherwise, we simply have a minority report.


There are cases where legislative committees are appropriate for dealing with certain matters raised in this House, but it seems to me that this is one case where, for the sake of everyone concerned, the Solicitor General or the Attorney General or whoever would have responsibility in this case should call for an independent public inquiry aside from partisan considerations, a person of impeccable background who can hear all the representations which are made to that committee, all the evidence which is produced, and can come to certain conclusions and make certain recommendations.

I think those kinds of recommendations would be more easily accepted by all members of the House. They certainly, I believe, would be helpful to you, because the matter discussed, the focus of the matter on the police action against the citizens, is I believe unfairly placed on your back and should be placed within the purview of an independent person. I hope the Solicitor General or the Attorney General, whichever person may be responsible in this case, would give that consideration, would appoint that inquiry as soon as possible and we can resolve this matter I think to the satisfaction of all members of this House.

Mr Bud Wildman (Algoma): With the greatest of respect, Mr Speaker, I listened to your ruling very carefully, and I understand the difficulty that has been alluded to by two of the previous speakers with regard to your position in this matter. However, as someone who has dedicated over two decades of my life to this place, I have, as you do, the greatest of respect for the legislative process, but I just do not believe, and our members do not believe, that in this particular situation the specific question that was raised, the main question that was raised yesterday -- more than the police action itself, but the plans for security, specifically, who has authority, who made the decision, when the decision was made and why -- the whole question of accountability cannot properly be dealt with in the context of the legislative committee.

The legislative committee should be tasked with the responsibility to deal with the implementation of security plans in this place and to advise you in that regard, but to inquire into the issue of the decision-making process that led to the melee outside this place the day before yesterday cannot be done unless it is done in such a way that it is seen to be independent and public in a way that the legislative committee and the legislative process would not make possible.

That is why we specifically requested your advice with regard to the possibility of the setting up of a public inquiry under the Public Inquiries Act. Hopefully, if such an inquiry were to take place and come forward with a report on what happened and recommendations on how to avoid that in the future, that then could be referred to a legislative committee, which would then deal with how those recommendations, whatever they might be, could be implemented by all the members in this House to ensure the safety of the members of this House and, more particularly, the safety of the members of the public who should have access to this place.

I appreciate the seriousness with which you have looked at this matter, but I would reiterate that the proposal of a legislative committee hearing process, to be agreed to by the three parties in this place, does not deal with the accountability issue and the decision-making process with which we are most concerned beyond the whole question of security for this assembly.

I would hope you would consider whether you could make it clear whether those matters should be dealt within a public way under the Public Inquiries Act.

The Speaker: I want to make it very clear that the issue was raised the other day by one of the members -- I'm not so sure, maybe it was the member for Windsor-Riverside -- indicating that I had asked for an investigation, and he said it would be the police investigating the police. That's why today I wanted to make my statement, because I got the feeling it would have taken a period of time before I had received something from the police.

That's why today I've taken the initiative, I felt, to try to get some public hearings with regard to what happened. Anybody can come before that committee. It will be up to the legislative committee what they do.

I thank the members for their input.

Mr Gerry Phillips (Scarborough-Agincourt): I too appreciate the challenge you face, but with all due respect I think your statement today is not as helpful as it could have been. I'll try and outline why I believe that.

You indicated in your remarks very clearly that you regard Monday's events as extremely grave. I'm paraphrasing, but I take from your remarks and the tone they were delivered in that it was a day of shame for all of us in Ontario. You then went on to say that you could not consider ordering a public inquiry because that was beyond your authority. That is up to the government to make that decision, so you're limited in your recommendations.

You cannot consider what we in our caucus, the Liberal caucus and the NDP caucus believe to be the appropriate route. That was outside of your jurisdiction. In my opinion, you recommended another route that you could recommend, perhaps the best route that you could recommend, but I think from the public's perception not the correct route.

The reason I say that your decision is not helpful is not because you didn't consider it well, but because you have recommended a course of action that is inappropriate in our opinion and one that I don't think will lead to a satisfactory decision for the public.

We saw yesterday in the Legislature at least two government members express their views about what happened, indicating that in their view the actions were appropriate and then sitting down to standing ovations by the government members, including the cabinet. Clearly, on our side we have a very strong, different view of many of the events of Monday.

The only course of action you're recommending leads to a legislative committee, where I think the public will simply find that the government has made up its mind. We in the opposition have an opinion, and rather than seeking the truth and finding the truth, we simply will find that the public is frustrated by the lack of that. Clearly, I understand why you've reached your decision, but in our opinion it is the wrong route.

The public, I think, has a right to a full public hearing on this matter. I call Monday a day of shame, and I think all of us would recognize that. The scenes that the public saw around this Legislature on Monday are totally unacceptable. They are scenes from other countries that we never dreamed we'd ever see here. Someone said if you turned the sound off on the television on Monday night, you would have believed you were seeing scenes from some other country with a situation that all of us would have deplored. But here it was, within yards of this Legislature.

For us, it is a matter of extreme importance. We can understand why you reached your decision, but you said in your closing remarks the matter is finished. With all due respect, I'm afraid it's not finished. In our opinion that is not the right route and in our opinion it is now up to the government to say the matter is so serious -- and certainly if you're getting the same calls we're getting, the public is extremely worried. They are seeing a province divided like it's never been divided before, with the police organizations, for whatever reason, appearing to attack citizens who had no reason to be attacked.

It warrants a public hearing. The legislative committee is not the right route. We find it unfortunate that you've had to make that decision, but it's not one that we would find acceptable here in our caucus.

Mr David Christopherson (Hamilton Centre): On a point of order, Mr Speaker: On the response that you've given today, I wish to join with those in questioning the correctness of detailing that it ought to be a legislative committee.

I share the concern of others in terms of the difficult position that you're in, and also the fact that you've said you cannot yourself direct that there be a public inquiry, but you did feel very comfortable going into a great deal of detail about a legislative committee and the hours it ought to keep and the kind of work that it can do. So, clearly I would say to you with great respect, sir, that you then would also have the room to say that you think a public inquiry would be the appropriate vehicle in this case, if you did believe that. I'm assuming that for some reason you didn't reach that conclusion, although if I took all your arguments from the time you stood up, they would suggest to me that a public inquiry, particularly given the concern here in the opposition benches among both parties as well as the concerns in the public, would be a natural conclusion for you to reach.


I think, Speaker, you need to hear from us, certainly in our party and from what I'm hearing in the Liberals' also, that the idea of sending this to a legislative committee is not a sufficient response by yourself or by the government or by this Parliament. The fact of the matter is that there are a number of officers of this place, including yourself and the Sergeant at Arms, who are a part of that review. Certainly, the Solicitor General, the OPP and perhaps other ministers and members of the Premier's staff may indeed also be part of that.

Given the fact that every legislative committee has a majority of government members, I don't think it's reasonable for the public to believe that there will be a fair and balanced process. It will become a political circus. That's exactly what happens to things that get sent to legislative committees. By their very nature, that is what happens.

That is not to be criticized, but certainly I think that would lead us to believe that a legislative committee will not do what needs to be done, that is, to stand back and take a look at everything that happened before the event, during the event, all the participants, those I've mentioned as well as the strikers, any other public that was nearby as witnesses.

There are a number of players who need to be a part of that process, and the only way the public can be assured that it will be looked at fully without any political consideration is that this entire matter be handed to someone with a mandate to look at this thoroughly, at arm's length from the political process, someone who's respected and is highly regarded across the province. We've seen with a recent legal case that it can be achieved. Therefore, Speaker, you're going to, I believe, find a lot of resistance from us, a great deal of resistance to this just being sent off to a legislative committee and it starts churning through the political process.

I would also reiterate the request that the security plan be tabled today. It's there; there's no reason why it can't be, particularly given that we are still in the process of deciding whether it will be a legislative committee or a public inquiry. It sounds like something's going to happen; it's a question of what. That being the case -- and we're still debating that now -- let's put on the table what's already available, besides the news clippings and witness accounts that we've already heard. That means the plan.

I understand from the media that you may already have received some kind of report. It would be nice to have that shared. I'm a member of the security committee that you've spoken of and I travelled along with you across the province. If that's the place you want to start with it, fine, but that report ought to be here now for part of our deliberations, and again, a part of this is the privileges of the member for Sudbury and what happened outside his office and what happened in his office. All of these things point to the need for an independent public inquiry.

If it's done quickly, I think we can give the confidence to the public that this is being dealt with adequately. Without that, I suggest with great respect that you and the government run the risk of escalating this to a higher level. You're going to hear words of whitewash, cover-up; that's going to start to come out. We don't want that. That's not part of what we want.


Mr Christopherson: The government members are getting -- see? That's what's happening, Speaker. That's what happens when this goes into a political arena. I urge you to reconsider your suggestion to this place, recommend that it be a public inquiry done at arm's length, and then we don't need to go through the kind of political circus that will continue if you don't, Speaker.

Hon Ernie L. Eves (Deputy Premier, Minister of Finance and Government House Leader): Mr Speaker, on a point of order: I appreciate the comments that you've made here today and reported back to the members of the Legislative Assembly.

Mr Pouliot: I'm sure you do.

Hon Mr Eves: I think the member for Lake Nipigon should just listen to what I'm going to say before he starts criticizing it. That's always a wise policy.

Mr Pouliot: I know you too well.

Hon Mr Eves: Apparently not well enough.

Mr Speaker, I would say to you and to all members of the Legislative Assembly, as I said yesterday, I don't think that any member or any member of society can be particularly proud of the events that happened here on Monday, March 18. I certainly see no reason why all the events of that day should not come to light publicly. I think that the accountability and behaviour of all individuals concerned should be dealt with in as fair and open a process as possible.

I understand your suggestion and your recommendation with respect to the committee of the Legislative Assembly and I also understand, of course, that that committee, as indeed all committees do, has the power to summon people before it, subpoena persons and documentation and evidence. However, it sounds to me like the members of the opposition parties certainly would not be happy or pleased with such a look or an investigation, if you will, or a purview of the situation. If a public inquiry will make them happier, I think it should be pointed out that a public inquiry will cost significantly more money and probably will drag on for a significantly longer period of time.

Mr Christopherson: That's the solution.

Mr Len Wood (Cochrane North): What about people dying on the picket line?

The Speaker: Order.

Hon Mr Eves: Excuse me. Why do you have a tough time taking yes for an answer, I say to the member for Cochrane North? I don't understand that.

Mr Cooke: Ernie, you're being sarcastic.

Hon Mr Eves: Talking about being sarcastic, I say to the member for Windsor-Riverside, it doesn't do the entire situation any good to have him refer to the "throne speech riots." He knows full well there were no throne speech riots. I do recall some riots in Toronto. They were on Yonge Street. I'm trying to recall who was in government then. There were some demonstrations here on throne speech day, and it is everybody's political and democratic right to protest.

I guess I would understand, if they want to be political about it, the two opposition parties' concerns about majority committees, because I can recall a few majority committees that I've sat on, when their two parties were in government, investigating individual members of the Legislature. I can understand their concern, that they don't think this would be too appropriately and objectively dealt with.

So I say through you, Mr Speaker, to the members of the opposition and to the people of Ontario, the government has no problem with a public inquiry into this matter and I would be happy to discuss the matter with the other two House leaders tomorrow morning.



Hon Al Palladini (Minister of Transportation): As I'm sure all members are aware, today is the first day since our return to the House that we have experienced severe weather conditions in Ontario. I am sure all members would like to know for the benefit of their constituents and for themselves how the Ministry of Transportation has dealt with the situation.

As in all cases since the strike began, the ministry has focused its efforts and resources on public safety with the goal of maintaining a safe highway system for the travelling public. Prior to the strike, the government and OPSEU negotiated an essential services agreement for highway patrolling, snowplowing, sanding and salting to protect public safety.

Our position going into this negotiation was that 100% of our winter maintenance service should be deemed essential. The union had a different view and we negotiated a compromise. This means that plows and spreaders are called out when the conditions specified in the agreement are present. As members may be aware, we did go back to the table to ensure spreaders can get out where conditions can be expected to lead to ice.


At one point, there were delays of as much as seven hours. We obtained an injunction to prevent OPSEU from delaying our equipment and workers. That means it is now against the law for picketers to delay our people and equipment.

Last night it began snowing across Ontario. The storm is expected to bring as much as 30 centimetres of snow. The ministry was prepared to react as quickly as needed to sand, salt and clear roads as conditions dictated. Unfortunately, the union was ready too -- ready with picketers to delay necessary emergency equipment from leaving patrol yards.

I regret to have to report to the House that our managers have been faced with more delays at our patrol yards, preventing them from getting equipment out in a timely way and making it difficult for people to get to work. For example, at the Brock patrol yard in the GTA this morning, pickets prevented spreaders from leaving for one hour and 40 minutes. Spreading equipment and plows were delayed for more than 40 minutes at Elfrida, one hour at Beaver Dams, one hour at Strathroy and three hours at Burlington. At a patrol yard in the Chatham district today, nine OPSEU plow operators were called in to work. Not one responded. If it were not for the one contract plow that we had available, we would have had no plows on the road in that area.

I am aware that the union is at the Ontario Labour Relations Board today alleging the ministry has violated the essential services agreement for winter highway maintenance. But I am happy to report that our managers have succeeded in getting most of our resources out on the road. I would like to commend our managers, the workers who are coming in and our contractors for their efforts in very difficult circumstances.

Safety of the travelling public is a priority for the government. An essential services agreement for winter highway maintenance was negotiated with the union prior to the strike, with the intent of protecting public safety. I want to remind Ontario's seven million drivers that throughout the strike they must remain vigilant in monitoring weather and driving conditions since highway maintenance is not at the full service levels the travelling public has come to expect. Avoid using the provincial highway system when the weather makes driving conditions poor. When trips cannot be cancelled, motorists should reduce speed, increase following distance and allow more time to arrive at their destination.

Mr Mike Colle (Oakwood): I don't think the baiting and the continual whining by the minister and the finger-pointing are really going to make our roads safer in Ontario through this very difficult strike. I wonder whether the minister asked the whiz-kid advisers, who told him probably that this strike was going to be good for their popularity, whether this strike would have an impact on Ontarians and their safety. I'm sure the minister said, "This is probably going to be a great strike for Tory popularity," but he should have stopped to ask, "How is this strike going to affect real people?" We've seen that, and it is endangering the lives of people when the roads aren't plowed.

It's also somewhat hypocritical. This is the same minister who in October arbitrarily, behind closed doors, made massive cuts to winter road maintenance. He cut back on snowplowing, on sanding, on salting, behind closed doors, didn't tell anybody and hoped that nobody would notice. I guess he thought the same thing would happen with this strike. He thought somehow his political popularity, the party's political popularity could be advanced by basically holding the drivers of Ontario hostage to their political agenda. That's what is really at stake here.

If the minister and the government side were really interested in doing something about public safety on our roads, they would sit down and stop the finger-pointing, the baiting, the intimidation, and bargain, in good faith, a collective agreement that would end this political strike. This is a strike that hurts the people of Ontario, and the blame lies squarely at your feet, Minister. You're laughing about it and you think it's a big joke, and I think you should start to take it seriously. The people of Ontario don't want finger-pointing; they want you to be responsible for what you get paid for.

You've got the limo, Mr Minister. You have to make the decisions and you have to do your job. Blaming other people and passing the buck doesn't keep the roads safe. So stop baiting and urge your colleagues to end this strike. That's what you should be doing.

Mr James J. Bradley (St Catharines): The advice that has been given by the member for Oakwood is very good advice to the minister. I was very surprised to see, in the midst of very delicate negotiations -- I understand there's a blackout now on what's happening behind the closed doors -- very surprised to hear that the minister would get up in this House, when the negotiations are going on, to make a statement of that kind.

Whether the minister is factually correct or whether he holds these views, that's one thing, but using judgement in very difficult times -- many of us spoke yesterday and the day before about the fact that the situation in Ontario is difficult because we have continued rubbing in the face of people who disagree with this government by members of this government.

The OPSEU people out on the picket lines obviously feel very strongly about their particular case. The government negotiators should be trying to come to an agreement, a good collective agreement, and this is not helped -- considerably -- by either the statements of the Premier that I've heard from time to time or the kind of statement the minister has made in the House today.

It will certainly make the job of the Chair of Management Board much more difficult when he has to have his people go back to the negotiating table knowing that once again you've got the kerosene can out, you've been spreading the gasoline, and you're about to strike the match and throw it.

That is not helpful to the negotiating process. We all hope a collective agreement can be reached as soon as possible. We hope that members of the government, in a moderate, conciliatory and consensus-building fashion, will try to reach that agreement, and the statement the minister has made today certainly does not contribute to a good atmosphere in those negotiations.

Mr Gilles Pouliot (Lake Nipigon): An amazing example of competitive sameness with not much substance, Mr Minister. In fact, the minister is not announcing anything. He merely uses the rules, the provisions, under ministerial statements, to join a long list of apologists for the government.

Well, hear this, Mr Speaker. This is the same minister, the same person who, prior to the work stoppage, prior to the strike, deliberately, systematically cut $6.9 million out of the winter standard program, the result of which was fewer patrol staff. People were pink-slipped, were told, "We don't need you any more to patrol our roads and highways." This is the same minister who deliberately made the use of salt rock and sanders less visible, because simply they weren't there. This is the same minister who said, "If you get caught during a snowstorm, use your cellular phone and call the OPP." The same minister wakes up one morning and says, "This is Canada" -- and it's winter, Mr Speaker -- sees himself under a state of siege, declares war. In war you attack. You attack the people at MTO. Oh, very good for morale. You grab a club. He's a fast learner.


Before the work stoppage, during the work stoppage and, with this minister and this government, likely after the work stoppage, one would be hard-pressed to see the differences, for the budget at MTO when it comes to winter maintenance has been reduced significantly. So no wonder people are put at risk.

Let's talk about truck safety. Let's talk about the safety of motorists. I must say that the minister, when it comes to the safety of motorists, has an immaculate record. He's done nothing for the lives and safety and peace of mind of seven million of us, women and men who possess the privilege of a licence in good --

Mr Chris Stockwell (Etobicoke West): Standing.

Mr Pouliot: -- in good standing. Thank you.

In northwestern, northeastern, southeastern and southwestern Ontario -- and not only by virtue of an agreement on essential services -- many, many people went beyond the call of duty, almost took it upon themselves without being told, and said: "Look, safety is in jeopardy. I will declare myself an essential worker." They're not noticed. Instead, he looks in the mirror, turns around and blames men and women. As an employer, you're blaming your employees. The general is blaming the front-liners. How can you?

You met with your political staff, you dimmed the lights, you scared one another and you came out of the meeting with three heads so you could scare people. Look at yourself. Look at what you're doing to the morale of people instead of becoming an agent provocateur. There's still time to do it.

Mr Gilles Bisson (Cochrane South): I just wanted to say to the minister simply this on the statement: He stands in this House and he says to us that the highways are in terrible shape, all because of the OPSEU strike. Minister, what happened prior to the OPSEU strike? The reality is, Highway 11 and Highway 101, driving up to Timmins, Kirkland Lake and Kapuskasing, have never been in the shape that we have seen them over the period of this winter. I, on one trip alone prior to the strike, counted 12 cars in the ditch, from North Bay up to Kirkland Lake. Highway 11 from Kirkland Lake all the way up to Timmins is nothing but a sheet of ice and has been for a two-month period. It's a sorry state of affairs when the minister tries to blame everything on OPSEU.



Mrs Lyn McLeod (Leader of the Opposition): I think all of us on the opposition benches welcome what we think is a commitment on the part of the government, through the statement of the Minister of Finance, the Deputy Premier, that there will be a public inquiry.

I have to tell you, Mr Speaker, that I am extremely concerned, however, that in making that seeming commitment, the minister has also indicated he's doing that because the opposition parties have demanded it, because it's all that will satisfy the opposition parties. The minister shakes his head. Those are the minister's words.

I am concerned that the minister refers to the time lines, Mr Speaker, which you also referred to, and that that can become a reason for dragging this issue out until hopefully the immediacy of the issue is lost.

I'm concerned that the minister would see fit, as always, to express concern about the cost of what the opposition parties are demanding, as opposed to simply saying, "This is something which we in government believe is necessary regardless of cost, and that is, to investigate police actions against citizens."

I think it is absolutely essential that we determine the government's understanding of what happened on Monday and why indeed a full public inquiry is needed and why the issue is not all of the issues on the table, as the minister has suggested, but it is the issue of -- not security of members; the assembly can deal with that --

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

Mrs McLeod: -- it is an issue of police action against citizens.

My question indeed, Mr Speaker, will be to the Premier, because I want the Premier's understanding and his comments on what has happened over the last two days. Premier, you may be well aware that there are CBC reports that one of your senior advisers has in fact blamed officers of the Metropolitan Toronto Police for the violence that happened out here Monday. I need to know, Premier, whether or not you agree with your senior adviser and whether it is the position of the government of Ontario today that the Metro police, who were actually involved in stepping in and protecting picketers from the actions of the OPP riot squad, were the cause of Monday's violence.

Hon Michael D. Harris (Premier): I think questions dealing with full public inquiry ought to be handled by the Deputy Premier and the House leader, who's handling this.

Hon Ernie L. Eves (Deputy Premier, Minister of Finance and Government House Leader): I believe I also indicated when I was addressing the assembly a little earlier this afternoon that everybody, including we on this side of the House, wants a full public airing of the issues and the events of Monday. We also want to be able to look at the actions of everybody concerned on those days. We have no preconceived ideas of restrictions of any kind. As I indicated yesterday, we were waiting for the Speaker's report; we got that today. We don't have a problem with a full public inquiry and I indicated that I'm quite prepared to discuss it with the two House leaders tomorrow morning at our House leaders' meeting.

Mrs McLeod: My question was placed to the Premier because it was reportedly a senior member of his staff who made the statement that the Metro police were to blame for the violence. There are statements that have been made by senior members of this government, directly reported in the media, that do lay blame. Those statements need to be clarified or retracted in order to set the record straight before there can be a full public inquiry. That's an issue we need to pursue today, I say to the Deputy Premier, who has now been given the responsibility by his Premier to answer that. I take you back to the issue of a senior staff member in the Premier's office blaming the Metro police. I think that's a serious charge. You haven't denied it happened; I was expecting some retraction, some statement that you as a government do not believe that it was the Metro police who were to blame.

We'd like to also understand why for some reason the Metro police public order unit, which was standing by, was never called even though Wellesley Street was in its jurisdiction. But beyond that, I say to the Deputy Premier that this situation was so clearly mishandled that we've even had shocking descriptions coming from Paul Walter, a spokesman for the Metro police, that they were disgusted by the actions of the riot squad. "Whack 'em and stack 'em" was the order that the riot squad was given. Yesterday the Solicitor General, your colleague responsible for the OPP, called their reactions a model of restraint. So I ask whether or not your government still describes an order to whack 'em and stack 'em as a model of restraint.

Hon Mr Eves: I'm certainly not going to comment on statements attributed to or alleged to have been made by members of anybody's staff; I'm sure everybody has an opinion. Surely exactly this type of information will come out during the course of the public inquiry that we've agreed to.

Mrs McLeod: Well then, Deputy Premier, let me attempt to clarify what your intention is with the public inquiry, because from everything that we have heard in the last two days, everything we've had reported in the media and everything we've heard from members of our caucus and members of their staff, what we saw in the behaviour of the OPP riot squad was not just a spontaneous overreaction. We know that members of the squad went charging into that crowd whipped up, that they had been doing drills. They not only had burst into the office of the member for Sudbury but they were in the hallways banging on their shields, banging on the walls and chanting in order to be whipped up before they charged into the crowd.

I ask the Deputy Premier whether he will agree that these are the issues that need to be dealt with in a public inquiry, that the issue for a public inquiry is not the question of security of members, which can be dealt with through a Legislative Assembly committee; the issue is the police behaviour in response to citizens on a legal picket line and the issue is who is responsible for that. Who ordered the OPP riot squads in? Who ordered them out into that crowd? Who gave them their instructions? Will that be the clear focus of an independent public inquiry?


Hon Mr Eves: I believe I've indicated previously today, and I will do so again, that I believe that the actions and behaviour of all concerned on Monday will be the subject of the public inquiry, and whomever is charged with the responsibility of conducting that inquiry I'm sure will look into all of these matters.

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

Mrs McLeod: I find that a wholly unsatisfactory answer. I need some commitment from this government.


The Speaker: Order.

Mrs McLeod: We are not looking for a public inquiry in order to have the government be able to sweep all of the questions under the rug until hopefully the issue is forgotten or at least less in people's memories, and clearly that's the direction of the government in answering the questions today.

The Speaker: Who's your question to?

Mrs McLeod: My second question is to the Solicitor General, who has a direct responsibility for the Ontario Provincial Police, because the issue that a public inquiry must address -- and again I say, and you've said it yourself, Mr Speaker, a Legislative Assembly committee can review the issues of security of this precinct and of its members. The issue that we called for a public inquiry on was the behaviour of the riot squad of the Ontario Provincial Police.

Minister, I'll say to you directly, you are quoted as saying that the actions of the OPP, in your view as the individual minister responsible for the OPP, were a model of restraint. I assume that since you've made that statement you've seen the slow-motion version of the CBC tape that showed an OPP riot officer, unprovoked, charging up to Mr Giles, blindsiding Mr Giles with the back of his shield --


The Speaker: Order. I'm having a hard time to hear the member's question.

Mrs McLeod: Clearly the members of the Conservative caucus did not listen to the press conference given by Mr Giles, who made it as clear as he possibly could that he abhors violence, that he was not provocative in any way, and that he does not understand why OPP riot police pushed him into a group of officers and then proceeded to hit him in the head.

I'm asking the Solicitor General whether he has seen the CFTO tape that depicts exactly the same scene, whether he has seen the tape of the riot squad practising charge drills in the halls of the Whitney Block, whether he's asked the Metro police for copies of their tape, and whether, if he has seen all of that, he would now retract that statement he made that the OPP behaviour was a model of restraint --

The Speaker: The question has been asked. Minister,

Hon Bob Runciman (Solicitor General and Minister of Correctional Services): I will give the Leader of the Opposition the benefit of the doubt and lay the responsibility for the question at the doorstep of a poor research staff, because I did not say that at all. This has been taken totally out of context. I commented on my own personal experience and said at the time that I have made no judgement whatsoever in terms of what happened in a broader context.

You've heard today that that whole question is being referred to a public inquiry, and apparently you're having difficulty in coming up with additional questions to deal with this issue today because we've answered your concerns. As the House leader said earlier, you can't take yes for an answer.

Mrs McLeod: No, I don't fault this on faulty research. I in fact was in this House yesterday when I heard the Solicitor General respond to my questions with an assurance that he felt that the OPP officers were doing just exactly what it was that they were expected to do in the defence of citizens of this province. So I feel entirely justified in asking the Solicitor General whether he has now had time to see the evidence that the public of Ontario has now seen and is prepared to retract those statements.

I'm also aware, Solicitor General, that in this morning's discussions, and this was a direct report, you indicated that you had seen the OPP tape and that you would be prepared to release that. I think it's important, Minister, that before there is any public inquiry, you make it absolutely clear that you see your position as Solicitor General as being one of carrying out a full, independent inquiry and not seeing your role as the defender of the Ontario Provincial Police. It would certainly not be sufficient to release the OPP tapes, because there's considerable other evidence.

Will you ensure that this inquiry will have your commitment in looking fully into the behaviour and actions and excessive use of force of the OPP riot squad and that it will have access to all the available evidence?

The Speaker: The question has been asked. Minister.

Hon Mr Runciman: This is puzzling, to say the least, because the House leader for the government has indicated he's going to meet with the House leaders of the two opposition parties tomorrow. They will discuss the terms of reference. This is going to be an independent public inquiry, and I'm sure it will deal with all of the questions raised.

As the House leader has indicated, we do not want any issue related to this incident -- which no one is happy about -- OPSEU is not happy about what happened on Monday, the police are certainly not happy about it, and we want to look at all elements surrounding what happened in the Queen's Park precinct on Monday. That's the answer to your question.

Mrs McLeod: If the Solicitor General is puzzled, I can tell him that I'm somewhat puzzled too. We've tried to establish the fact -- quite frankly, I think the attempts of the government to put this issue under the table are very deliberate and only too clear to everybody in this House.

Mr Chris Stockwell (Etobicoke West): Come on. You ask for an inquiry, we give it to you and you say it's under the table.

The Speaker: Order.

Mrs McLeod: I will try once more in my second supplementary to the minister to establish the fact that there are two separate issues, and I defer to your judgement in recognizing that there are two separate issues. There is an issue of security and access to the building, which legislators addressed, which can be addressed by the Legislative Assembly committee, which is an all-party committee.

There is a second issue, the issue which for us is the predominant issue, and that is the excessive use of force of the OPP riot squad against Ontario citizens. There is agreement on the part of the Speaker and the members of the opposition caucuses that that issue cannot be addressed by a legislative committee, that it can only be addressed by a public inquiry under the Public Inquiries Act, which you, Minister, or your colleagues are responsible for calling. This is not something which requires all-party agreement, although we're happy to give you our input.

So I'm asking, will you agree, commit to a public inquiry that addresses all of these questions with all of the evidence, the public inquiry that the government only can order by order in council: who designed the security plan and approved the plan; what part the use of the OPP riot squad was in that plan; who decided to use the OPP squad instead of the Metro police unit; and whether this public inquiry will answer the most important question, and that is, how could trained officers --

The Speaker: The question has been asked. Minister.

Hon Mr Runciman: It's clear that our decision to support the request for a public inquiry has thrown a curve at the Liberal question period strategy which they can't come to grips with. We have agreed to everything, all the questions the leader is posing. I'm sure that the House leader on the government side of the House would have no difficulty with you attending the meeting tomorrow with the House leaders to discuss your concerns and have input into the final decision with respect to that matter.

Mrs McLeod: We are giving you our input. We are just asking for a commitment.

Hon Mr Runciman: We did. We've agreed. We agreed some time ago.


The Speaker: New question, the member for Algoma.

Mr Bud Wildman (Algoma): On behalf of our caucus, I would say that we're very pleased that the government House leader has agreed to the request of our caucus and the Liberal caucus for a full public inquiry, and we look forward to discussions around the terms of reference and the parameters of that inquiry under the Public Inquiries Act. We would hope that this will not be a long-drawn-out process but it will be full and public, and I will not go further than that. I think it's time for us to get back to the issue at hand, the substantive issue, and that is settling the strike and ensuring that we get the services that the people of the province require back in place.

The Speaker: Who is your question to?


Mr Bud Wildman (Algoma): I will pose a question to the Premier. This is following up on the exchange the Premier and I had in this place on Monday when I asked him a question regarding successor rights. At that time, you will recall, I asked the Premier why he chose to provoke a confrontation by stripping successor rights from Ontario government workers when those rights were enjoyed by everyone else in the private and public sectors in Ontario.

In response, the Premier gave a rather silly reaction that he thought I was proposing that we should deny those rights to the private sector workers who now continue to enjoy them in Ontario. The Premier also said that the government was not necessarily committed to privatization.

With that in mind, I would ask the Premier why it is that the government has taken the position that led it to legislate away those successor rights, which helped to precipitate this labour dispute, and if the government is not committed necessarily to privatization, then is he prepared in these negotiations to have the government restore those rights to the public sector workers and have them treated fairly and the same as all other workers in this province?

Hon Michael D. Harris (Premier): I think the issue of negotiations would be best handled by the Chair of Management Board.

Hon David Johnson (Chair of the Management Board of Cabinet): We've made it clear through these negotiations that we intend to be fair to our employees. However, we must also be fair to the taxpayers of the province of Ontario and we must be fair to those who need services not only today but five years from now, 10 years from now. So this government does need to restructure. This government does need to look at all methods of alternative delivery. Consequently, that's the reason we took the action on successor rights.

I will remind the leader of the third party that successor rights does not apply in the province of Newfoundland, the province of Prince Edward Island, the province of Nova Scotia, the province of New Brunswick, the province of Alberta, the federal government. Those governments understand that they have to restructure as well and deal with their individual situations.

Our individual situation is a $100-billion debt, deficits of $10 billion a year, and a need to deliver better services for less. As a result, we have taken this action to be able to restructure the province of Ontario, and that's the course that we've clearly set out.

Having said that, we have indicated that we would pursue reasonable efforts to assist the employees to go with the job if the job is privatized or divested or outsourced.

Mr Wildman: We are not here talking about Newfoundland or the Maritime provinces. We are talking about Ontario, the largest and most important economy in Canada. Why is it that this government has to equate itself and harmonize itself down to the lowest common denominator? Why is this government not prepared to lead in labour negotiations in this province? Why is this government not prepared to do as previous Conservative governments have done, and that is, in the area of labour relations in Canada, be seen as a progressive, leading province?

Is it not the case that this government is determined to sell off public sector services to their friends, and in doing so to sell off the jobs of the workers who are out on the picket lines today?

Hon David Johnson: I didn't quite catch the reference to Newfoundland. I hope the member didn't say that Newfoundland was the lowest. I'm sure we wouldn't --


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

Hon David Johnson: I'm sure the member would withdraw that remark.

I'll tell you the reason. The reason is because between 1985 and 1990 spending got out of control in the provincial government. Between 1990 and 1995, we incurred $10-billion deficits each and every year for five successive years. The total debt of the province of Ontario is now $100 billion. That's the problem we face. That's the problem many of these other governments do not face. Many of the governments indeed have balanced the books. That's what we're trying to achieve. We're trying to achieve that by restructuring the government, by delivering better services to the people of the province of Ontario, doing it by exploring many different alternatives, including privatization, including outsourcing, including contracting out.

We are going to make our best efforts. We have committed to making best efforts to move the employees with the jobs, but we have to have the freedom, the flexibility to deliver the best possible services to the people of Ontario at the lowest cost, because of the spending and the deficits of the two previous governments.

Mr Wildman: The Chair of Management Board knows full well that what I was suggesting is that this government should be leading in labour relations in this country; it should not be following other provinces that may not enjoy the same rights we've come to enjoy in this province. The minister has to make clear, in responding to my question, why he continues the mantra of the cost that government is experiencing, the cost of the contract, when he knows full well that successor rights do not cost the taxpayers of this province one red cent. If the government wants a settlement and the government doesn't want to spend more money, why aren't you putting issues on the table that can in fact lead to a settlement that won't cost a great deal of money?

Hon David Johnson: I wish to assure the leader of the third party that in fact we are bargaining for a settlement. I think we have demonstrated that in terms of striking a tentative agreement with AMAPCEO, which I hope very much will be ratified today. I will say that the issues we've dealt with on AMAPCEO, the second-largest union of the province of Ontario, were those very issues, the job security issues, that are of concern to the leader of the third party.

We are a leader in labour relations. We have offered, through this contract, pension improvements. We have offered severance improvements. We have a pension plan for the members of the Ontario public service, a very generous defined, indexed pension plan for the members of the public service here in the province of Ontario that hardly any workers, probably less than 10% of the workers in Ontario, would have access to.

Now it's time for this province, in addition to our excellent labour relations history, to take leadership in terms of job creation, in terms of delivering job creation in the private sector, setting the table, balancing the books, doing better with less money through this government. Other governments are doing that. Even the federal government is attempting to do that. It's time that the province of Ontario took those actions.


Mr Bud Wildman (Algoma): I have a question to the Minister of Education and Training. The minister will know that in the last number of days hundreds of teachers have been on the picket lines in solidarity with OPSEU members, the reason being that they know that after this government gets through cutting about 20,000 to 27,000 jobs, whatever the exact number is, the teachers are next. They also know that the government has made its promise, the Conservative Party's promise in the election campaign of last year not to cut classroom expenditures, a real sham by its actions, and they know that there are thousands of layoff notices that have already been given out and that are pending.

For example, the Peel Board of Education has issued 519 layoff notices; Halton Board of Education, layoffs of over 1,500; 950 layoffs in Simcoe county; over 1,000 layoffs in Hamilton-Wentworth; over 500 in Kitchener-Waterloo. That's over 4,500 in just five school boards in the province.


You can't fool the public that you can make these kinds of layoffs and cuts and still not affect classroom education. Nobody in this province voted on June 8 for these kinds of layoffs of teachers and cuts in education. Can the minister explain to the House how these layoffs can be achieved by boards across the province and at the same time you can maintain the commitment not to adversely affect classroom education in Ontario?

Hon John Snobelen (Minister of Education and Training): I want to thank the leader of the third party for the question today. I believe that the people of Ontario voted on June 8 for less government spending, for smaller government, and for a return of the province to opportunity, possibility and vitality that will happen because this government takes on the very real challenges and problems that this province faces.

With regard to education, I think it's very clear, if you talk to your colleague from Windsor-Riverside, the Sweeney commission that he appointed reported, a matter of a few weeks ago, that some 47% of the almost $14 billion that's spent in the province of Ontario on education is spent outside of the classroom. Mr Sweeney's commission suggested that that should be lowered to 40%, and that in fact would reflect a saving of $1 billion.

That's the report that was commissioned by your government from a former member of the Liberal Party that sat in this House. I think that there's every indication that we can have a more affordable system, a more accountable system, and a higher-quality education system in this province.

Mr Wildman: The minister did not respond to the question. The question was on layoffs of teachers in this province and how you could continue with these kinds of layoffs and not adversely affect classroom education. This government is taking $1 billion out of education in one year, and that is producing the situation where boards are laying off staff. How can you have 4,500 people laid off in just five school boards in this province, with more to come across the province, and not affect classroom education? We're not talking in this question about outside classroom education; teachers are in the classroom. How can you lay off those teachers and not affect classroom education?

Hon Mr Snobelen: Well, I think the honourable member knows that teachers are not the direct employees of the province, they are the employees of the boards of education, and I think that the leader of the third party has been --


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

Hon Mr Snobelen: Perhaps the members opposite would like to hear this response. It might be edifying for them. Perhaps the leader of the third party --


The Speaker: Order.

Hon Mr Snobelen: -- should talk to the school boards. Perhaps he should find out if having the teachers in the classroom is exactly what educators in this province want. They want teachers in the classroom making a difference with students. That's the direction that education is going in this province.

Mr Wildman: This is not acceptable and it's not just happening at the primary and secondary levels. Because of this government's actions with regard to funding at the post-secondary level, as well as the elementary and secondary levels, our community colleges in this province are in chaos. There have been about 2,300 jobs eliminated from community colleges across the province so far, as many as 1,100 part-time jobs have been eliminated in the community colleges as well, and there's more to come: 80 jobs at Canadore College in North Bay; 63 jobs at Georgian College in Barrie and Parry Sound; 200 jobs at George Brown College here in Toronto; 150 jobs at Mohawk College in Hamilton; 120 jobs at Algonquin College in Ottawa; 90 jobs at Confederation College in Thunder Bay. The colleges are saying that these layoffs are directly associated with the cuts that you have made in funding for post-secondary education.

How can you guarantee community college classroom education will not suffer in this province with these kinds of layoffs and program cancellations that are directly related to the funding cuts that you have announced?

Hon Mr Snobelen: It's a pleasure to give answer to that question. Let me reiterate. The report that was just recently released by the Sweeney commission indicates that 47% of our spending in education happens outside of the classroom in this province, and so this government can live up to its commitment not to affect classroom education and have a more affordable system.

As far as colleges are concerned, I think the honourable member knows we are committed to a discussion paper with the colleges and universities in this province, to make sure we have a rationalization of programs that work for the future of this province and for the future of the people of this province.

I believe the honourable member will know that colleges have recently announced the cancellation of some programs offered in the GTA. We now have five nursing programs offered in the GTA and perhaps there might be some room for rationalization of these publicly funded programs. We're encouraging that discussion, we're encouraging that dialogue, and we intend to make the college system in the province better.


Mr Mike Colle (Oakwood): A question to the Minister of Transportation: As you know, you've been unequivocal in your support for the funding of the Sheppard subway, which is going to be a commitment of 75% of the $1-billion cost.

The problem, though, is that you've been very silent as a result of the inquest into the horrible accident that occurred last August, the subway crash. That inquest, as you know, directed you to make funding of good repair and safety on the TTC the number one priority. Your silence on responding to that is putting, I think, the good repair program into jeopardy and the Sheppard subway into jeopardy. Why are you not responding to that very specific directive from the jury, which said that the province must make safety and good repair a priority?

Hon Al Palladini (Minister of Transportation): We were concerned to hear about the safety issue, obviously, from the coroner's report. Metro and the TTC have an obligation to make sure their transit system is safe for Ontarians to use, for Torontonians to use.

We have a separate issue here from the Sheppard subway. It was a commitment that was made prior.

In terms of the additional funding the TTC is requesting, I want to say this: We are a funding partner; how they spend the money is basically up to them. We are in the position of coming up with our financial statement in the spring. The Minister of Finance is going to allot me the money that we're going to be using, and I will be able to give the TTC an answer on the funds they will be allocated.

Mr Colle: I don't know if the minister's read this specific recommendation of the jury. It says, "We recommend and emphasize the province of Ontario" -- that's the minister -- "and the municipality of Metropolitan Toronto recognize the first funding priority is the state of good repair." In other words, you have the responsibility. You do not, I hope, just sign the cheques. You are giving that money in partnership. You have control over where that money is spent and you are directed by the province to do something about the safety and the good repair. Why not say you're going to do what the jury is recommending and spend money on safety and good repair, so you don't jeopardize the Sheppard subway and the safety and good repair, as you're doing right now by not responding?

Hon Mr Palladini: We intend to review all the recommendations in detail and work with Metro to ensure the safety. Through its normal budget allocation process the ministry will consider the TTC's request. I don't have that number available to share with the member.

Mr Colle: It's not the TTC. It's the jury that's telling you to put money towards TTC safety.

Hon Mr Palladini: I think I have answered your question. We intend to review all the recommendations of the inquest, work with Metro, work with the TTC, that safety is going to be maintained as a priority. I've answered your question.



Mr Howard Hampton (Rainy River): My question is for the Premier. In a campaign document called Report of the Mike Harris Task Force on Rural Economic Development, you said, "Under a Mike Harris government agriculture will regain its fair share of government support." Then you say, "There are no cuts to agricultural programs in our policy plan the Common Sense Revolution."

In July, following the election, your Minister of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs announced a cut to his ministry's budget of $13 million, in November he announced a further cut of $13.1 million and now he is musing around the province about further reductions of 30% to 35% in the ministry budget. Premier, does this sound like a broken promise to you?

Hon Michael D. Harris (Premier): No.

Mr Hampton: The Premier says that it doesn't sound like a broken promise to him. Premier, I want to read to you a letter. It's a letter from your own rural caucus advisory committee and rural MPPs. This is signed by, I believe, 13 of your rural caucus colleagues who are here. It says: "The OMAFRA budget was cut from $590 million to $450 million.... It is now proposed that we approve a further cut of $156 million in 1996-97." Your colleagues, your members say, "Agriculture has had its fair share of cuts in the past." Then they refer to your promises and they say to you -- you got a copy of it -- "The rural caucus advisory committee agreed unanimously on February 14, 1996 that the government should honour the Premier's commitment in the Common Sense Revolution and its Rural Economic Development policy booklet that there be `no cuts to the OMAFRA budget.'" They respectfully requested a discussion with you. Do you still insist that there is not a promise broken to the farmers of this province?

Hon Mr Harris: Yes.


Mr Dan Newman (Scarborough Centre): My question today is for the Minister of Health. I understand that the minister recently gave his final approval to the establishment of an MRI unit is Sudbury. However, Ontario continues to lag behind other jurisdictions in the use of this vital technology. MRIs can detect brain and spinal diseases, several forms of cancer, musculoskeletal disorders and several cardiovascular conditions that may not be diagnosed by other means of testing. It makes good common sense to ensure that Ontarians have access to the most advanced health care technologies. I wonder if the minister might reassure the House that he remains committed to reinvesting health care savings into additional MRI units and that, knowing the importance of these units, he'll make further announcements as soon as possible.

Hon Jim Wilson (Minister of Health): I want to thank the member for Scarborough Centre for his question because I think it's important that the people of Ontario receive the best diagnostic services available in the world today. MRI units, or magnetic-resonance-imaging units, are state-of-the-art technology. The goal of this government in reinvesting savings that we found through many of the line items in the current Ministry of Health budget is to increase the current number of MRI units from 12 that we have across the province to 23 over the next few months.

I say to the member for Scarborough Centre that we've already begun that process, as he mentioned in his question, in making the announcement recently in Sudbury for a new MRI unit in Sudbury along with my colleague the Minister of Natural Resources and Northern Development and Mines. We also made an announcement in Timmins recently. I would think the opposition would be delighted that the first MRI machines to come on line in many years in this province are in their ridings and are good news for the people of northern Ontario. I say to the member from Scarborough that there are another 21 machines and that we'll be addressing central Ontario and his area of the province in the very near future.

Mr Newman: Yesterday, I had the honour of bringing to the attention of this House the 40th anniversary of Scarborough General Hospital. The Scarborough hospitals group has provided the minister with a proposal that would locate the first MRI unit in Scarborough at Scarborough General Hospital. Scarborough, a city of more than half a million residents, does not currently have an MRI unit. As a supplementary, I would ask the minister if he is committed to ensuring that MRI technology is available to my constituents in Scarborough Centre and other residents of Scarborough.

Hon Mr Wilson: I'm pleased to assure the honourable member for Scarborough Centre that certainly Scarborough is one of the many areas in the province that we're looking at in making a reinvestment in an MRI unit. The goal of the government is to bring the ratio of units to population from one to 350,000 people in the population -- one unit for every 350,000 people, which would finally bring Ontario up to world standards, in fact European standards. So we're really catching up to the rest of the world.

I would comment, because this is important, when we make an announcement, whether it be in health care or other announcements in this government, because of the new accounting system, we pay for these announcements when they're announced, unlike the previous government that talked about bringing MRI units on line in this province. You didn't budget for them. We found the money through savings in the health care, sealed the health care envelope. We're reinvesting that money. It's been good news for Timmins, good news for Sudbury, good news for the north, and we'll have some more good news for central Ontario and the rest of the people of the province.


Mr Dominic Agostino (Hamilton East): My question is to the Minister of Transportation. I would like to read a letter sent by Mike Harris to regional chairman Terry Cooke: "A Mike Harris government will support and fund a full-fledged expressway up to and including the six-lane model which was originally approved."

The letter to the chairman would have been a provincial commitment of $182 million for a six-lane expressway. The region scaled the project back to five lanes for a provincial cost of $150 million. This government has betrayed that commitment by a funding shortfall of $50 million. They have only funded $100 million of the $150 million which the Premier's commitment was for. The government and this minister obviously do not understand the need for the Red Hill Creek Expressway in Hamilton-Wentworth.

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

Mr Agostino: You don't understand the betrayal. Mike Harris gave his word to the people of Hamilton-Wentworth.

Minister, will you commit today to restore full funding to the Red Hill Creek Expressway, or do you realize that by refusing to do so, you are ending the political career of your four Tory members in Hamilton-Wentworth?

Hon Al Palladini (Minister of Transportation): I am really at a loss for words. Here's the same member who didn't want the expressway built. Not too long ago he didn't want it built. The Red Hill Creek Expressway is a firm commitment that the Premier made and it's a commitment that we will fulfil and maintain.

Mr Agostino: I think that this minister obviously doesn't understand Hamilton, doesn't know what the expressway is all about, and it is absolutely ridiculous and asinine for this minister to suggest somewhere along the line that I haven't supported the expressway.

Mr Speaker, let me tell you who doesn't support the expressway. Let me tell you --

The Speaker: I have a feeling that one word was a little unparliamentary and I would ask if the member would withdraw it.


The Speaker: Order. I don't know whether the members think it's fun or not, but it's a serious question and I want to hear it.


Mr Agostino: The commitment made by this government was for a full-fledged six-lane expressway. The regional chairman has made it very clear that the provincial funding falls over $50 million short of the six-lane expressway, or the five-lane. It cannot be done with the money that you have given to the region. It's very clear.

The regional chairman, who has been supportive of the efforts in the negotiations -- your local members are running and hiding. They're afraid to deal with the media. They don't want to talk about the expressway.

The Premier committed to this. I can tell you, based on the discrepancy, either the regional chairman is lying or this government is lying.

The Speaker: Put your question, please.

Mr Agostino: I can tell you that I know the regional chairman, I know the issue, and he is not lying, and I can finish that sentence outside the House.

Minister, in view of the discrepancy, in view of the funding difference between what you have committed and what the region says they need, will you agree to an independent third-party review of the cost of finishing the expressway and abide by those results of the independent review?

The Speaker: The question has been asked.

Hon Mr Palladini: The question that the member has asked, I have already agreed to.

Interjections: What?

Hon Mr Palladini: An independent proposal.


Mr Howard Hampton (Rainy River): My question now is for the Minister of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs. I want to ask the Minister of Agriculture this: It's clear when I read this letter from Barb Fisher, the MPP for Bruce; Mr Vankoughnet, the MPP for Frontenac-Addington; Helen Johns, the MPP for Huron; Bert Johnson, the MPP for Perth; Gary Stewart, the MPP for Peterborough -- it's clear to me when I read this letter to the Premier and to the Deputy Premier about cuts to agriculture that your own backbenchers believe that you have broken a promise not to cut the budget of the Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs.

I wonder, can you explain how all these backbenchers feel that you have broken a promise, and yet the Premier says it's okay?

Hon Noble Villeneuve (Minister of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs, minister responsible for francophone affairs): It's interesting, the question coming from my honourable critic. You know, before the Christmas break they were very concerned about funding for an ethanol project. We found $8 million to fund ethanol. On the GRIP program, we went from 80% to 85%, another promise that was kept. On the farm tax rebate, something that the opposition figured was gone, we paid the full 75% back as we promised. I could use up the rest of question period, but I won't. I'll allow the honourable member a supplementary.

Mr Hampton: It's apparent that the Minister of Agriculture thinks this is a laughing matter. I want to tell the Minister of Agriculture this is not a laughing matter. You have cut, your government has cut, $26.1 million from the agricultural budget already. You are proposing to cut, and your own colleagues say this, a further $156 million in this coming fiscal year, and yet your own colleagues in the rural caucus advisory committee agreed unanimously on February 14, 1996, that the government should honour the Premier's commitment in the Common Sense Revolution and its Rural Economic Development policy booklet that there be no cuts to the OMAFRA budget. The motion was moved by Bert Johnson, MPP for Perth, seconded by Toby Barrett, MPP for Norfolk, and passed unanimously by your full rural advisory caucus.

They believe you're breaking a promise. What are you going to do about it?

Hon Mr Villeneuve: It's important for everyone to understand that the people who created the financial problem are attempting to prevent us from solving it. Farmers have told us they want to be part of the solution and not part of the problem. The budget my colleague will bring in in May will be the real answer.


Mr Harry Danford (Hastings-Peterborough): My question today is for the Minister of Natural Resources. Many hunters and outdoor enthusiasts in my riding of Hastings-Peterborough enjoy the sport of deer hunting and in fact deer watching. In light of the particularly harsh winter, with record cold temperatures and snowfalls, many of my constituents are concerned about the declining white-tailed deer herds. Could the minister please report to the House the status of Ontario's deer population at present?

Hon Chris Hodgson (Minister of Natural Resources, Northern Development and Mines): I'd like to thank the member for Hastings-Peterborough. This is a very important issue and of concern to residents right across Ontario. As he's mentioned, we have had a particularly severe winter. Similar winters in 1958-59 and 1971-72 resulted in significant herd die-offs. This year, I'm pleased to announce in the House and to the member that the white-tailed deer herd in Ontario is in good shape. The reason for that, even though we've had a severe winter, is the excellent cooperation we've had with global conservation clubs and provincial organizations which have cut trails in deer yards and raised funds for the controlled winter deer feed program. I want to thank them on behalf of the MNR.

Mr Danford: I would deal more specifically with the Peterson Road deer yard in my riding. The minister mentioned the number of white-tailed deer. Often we find they do tend to yard, if you want to call it that, in large herds during a particularly severe winter, and we have had that sort of winter in our area. I have received numerous calls from my constituents who are concerned about the conservation implications of hunting deer when they are concentrated in such a confined area. Minister, will these concerns be raised when the Ontario government begins negotiations with the 1996 Algonquin hunting agreement? Can you address those concerns?

Hon Mr Hodgson: This is a serious conservation issue, the harvesting of deer when they're yarded. I've spoken to a number of individuals about this matter, and I know it's of concern to everyone in Ontario. I've asked that this issue and this concern be dealt with in the context of the 1996 Algonquin hunting agreement, which is under negotiation between the Ontario government and the first nation at this time.


Mrs Sandra Pupatello (Windsor-Sandwich): My question is for the Minister of Economic Development, Trade and Tourism. You will know that in the pre-budget report of the committee on finance, they have acknowledged that Ontario is in a significant jobs crisis. In fact, we're well behind numbers laid out in your plan for the campaign on jobs. Specifically, Ontario youth has a major problem, facing a 30% unemployment rate. I'd like to know what your government is planning to do to address the youth employment issue.

Hon William Saunderson (Minister of Economic Development, Trade and Tourism): I'm very happy to answer the question. You are aware, as are the rest of the people in the House, that we made a projection -- and the Premier referred to it yesterday -- of creating 725,000 new jobs over five years. I'm happy to report to the member that in the month of February there were 31,000 new jobs created in Ontario. I'm happy to say that that is the best February improvement we've had since 1981. I think if the member reflects on those statistics, she will realize that that is just a sample of what's to come and it's going to help our young people.


Mrs Pupatello: I need to make it very clear that regardless that the minister doesn't answer the question, he predicted 145,000 a year, not 30,000, so you're still well behind. We asked specifically about youth employment and what you're planning to do for youth and what are the programs that you'll be dealing with.

Mr Mike Colle (Oakwood): Youth.

Mrs Pupatello: Youth. Youth unemployment standing at 30%.

Now, specifically there are rumours that you are cutting the youth venture program so that young entrepreneurs can start small business and therefore get into jobs in that way. There are also rumours that the Ministry of Education and Training will be cutting all of the student grant programs for the summer. This is a significant issue for youth in Ontario and I'd like a straight answer.

Hon Mr Saunderson: I would like to tell the House about a meeting of the Northern Ontario Tourist Outfitters Association that I attended last fall. At that meeting, there were many of the tourist outfitters, obviously, present, and they were very pleased to know what we were doing to help small businesses --

Mr Colle: Youth. Youth.

Hon Mr Saunderson: -- because one of the things that affects the tourist outfitters is that during the summertime --


The Speaker (Hon Allan K. McLean): Order. Order, the member for Brampton South.

Hon Mr Saunderson: -- they hire many students, and I'm very happy to report that they were very pleased to know we have frozen the minimum wage. That is a very big impetus for them to hire more students in the summertime.

Ms Frances Lankin (Beaches-Woodbine): Happy to know that? I'm delighted to know that, of course.

Hon Mr Saunderson: The opposition benches should know. They should know this, that our minimum wage is the highest of any province in Canada. We are going to freeze the minimum wage until we are the lowest. That is going to create jobs --

Mr Colle: What about youth jobs?

Ms Shelley Martel (Sudbury East): Let's get it down to --

Hon Mr Saunderson: -- and that member over there should realize this, that your party and the other government party over the past 10 years raised that wage so high that it hurt the students trying to get jobs in the summer. You will be very pleased to know that this summer there will be many more students hired by the northern Ontario tourist outfitters, and I'm sure that when you look back next fall and see that the jobs have improved for the young people during the summer, you will reflect back to this question today and be somewhat embarrassed by the success --

The Speaker: The question has been answered.

Hon Mr Saunderson: I also say that when I was speaking to these tourist outfitters --


The Speaker: The question has been answered. Order, order.


Mr Gilles Bisson (Cochrane South): I would say the answer to that last question was the largest abuse on the part of a minister trying to kill time, not to answer a question.

None the less, my question's to the Minister of Municipal Affairs and Housing. Minister, I have your document from the --


Mr Bisson: I'll try it again. The opposition members --

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

Mr Bisson: My question is to the Minister of Municipal Affairs and Housing. Minister, I have your document with me from the Ontario Housing Corp that points out that you, as minister, have directed that over the next two years you're going to be cutting from the capital budget of improvements for Ontario Housing by 40%. That means to say simply that the 80,000 units that are presently within Ontario Housing are not going to have the money they need in order to keep them in good repair and it will put those particular units in jeopardy.

What I want to ask you is simply this: Are you intending on transporting your managerial style from the TTC, where you allowed that particular commission to fall into disrepair and get into the situation it is now; that you're going to bring forward that particular management style --

The Speaker: Would the member put his question, please.

Mr Bisson: I want to quote specifically from a quote here from the Toronto Sun. "When asked about a scathingly critical report authored by the Washington, DC, expert...that pointed out a lack of preventive maintenance programs and poor communication between TTC departments, Leach said that in his opinion, he disagrees." You disagree that cutting those budgets by 40% won't put Ontario Housing out of repair --


The Speaker: The question has been asked. Minister?

Hon Al Leach (Minister of Municipal Affairs and Housing): I'm sorry, I couldn't hear the question. Could you repeat the question?

The Speaker: The time for oral question period has expired.

Ms Frances Lankin (Beaches-Woodbine): On a point of order, Mr Speaker: I am very concerned about what just transpired. I think that you yourself have attempted to be fair. We saw very clearly that the Minister of Economic Development and Trade attempted to run out the clock to give an answer that had no content.


Ms Lankin: Mr Speaker, I'll wait until there is some order.

The Speaker: Order.

Ms Lankin: He attempted to run out the clock, and it was done as a joke. We could see him looking at the clock, and his caucus was cheering him on. All of that is fine, because there was no damage done because the Speaker sought a remedy for that by providing the opportunity for the member from our caucus to ask a question. But with the hooting and the hollering that was taking place in this place, the minister the question was directed to says he's unable to hear it and then you end oral question period.

Mr Speaker, I think there is a requirement for the minister, who's walking out at this point in time, who just didn't want to answer the question -- he had his earpiece out; he could hear the question --


The Speaker: Order. It's not my responsibility whether somebody listens to a question or whether they don't. It's not my responsibility whether they answer the question or they don't.

Ms Shelley Martel (Sudbury East): Mr Speaker, on a point of order: Whether or not the minister chose to answer the question is not the issue. He said he could not hear it. The member for Cochrane South should be allowed to ask the question again so the minister can hear it and thus he can respond. It is not acceptable that he be called to sit down and that we go on to routine proceedings. He should be allowed to put the question again.

Hon Ernie L. Eves (Deputy Premier, Minister of Finance and Government House Leader): If it pleases the House, I would seek unanimous consent to have the member briefly put his question so the minister can respond.

The Speaker: Briefly.

Mr Bisson: You're cutting by 40% the moneys needed to keep the Ontario Housing stock in order. The question is simply this: Do you plan on bringing those management styles you had at the TTC back to the Ministry of Housing under the OHC, where they won't have the money to keep their stock in good repair?

Hon Mr Leach: I can commit to this House that I will bring my excellent management style to this House.


Mr Gerry Phillips (Scarborough-Agincourt): Point of order: I think it has been customary in this House that --

The Speaker (Hon Allan K. McLean): Do you have a point of order here?

Mr Phillips: Yes -- that when a policy on minimum wage is announced, it's announced as a ministerial statement. Today we heard that the government plans to freeze the minimum wage until it is the lowest in Canada. I believe that should have been a ministerial statement, not a response to a question, and I wonder if you might rule on that, Mr Speaker.

Hon William Saunderson (Minister of Economic Development, Trade and Tourism): On a point of order, Mr Speaker: I would just like to correct myself. What I had meant to say, and I stand corrected, was that we were wanting to have the minimum wage on a par with the adjoining jurisdictions.



Hon Ernie L. Eves (Deputy Premier, Minister of Finance and Government House Leader): I move that Mr Bartolucci and Mr Sergio exchange places in order of precedence for private members' public business.

The Speaker (Hon Allan K. McLean): You've all heard the motion. Do you agree? Agreed.




Mr Alvin Curling (Scarborough North): I have a petition to the Legislative Assembly of Ontario that says:

"Whereas the Harris government plans to sell public housing;

"We, the undersigned, petition the Legislative Assembly of Ontario not to privatize public housing and allow for public hearings."

I affix my signature to hundreds of people who share those same sentiments.


Mr Bud Wildman (Algoma): I have a petition signed by approximately 25 residents of my constituency. It's addressed to the Legislative Assembly of Ontario and it reads:

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

"Whereas Mike Harris promised on May 3, 1995, `No cuts to health care spending'" -- and it goes on further that he promised to create 725,000 new jobs -- "and

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

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

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

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

I affix my name to it.


Mr Richard Patten (Ottawa Centre): I have a petition to the Legislature of Ontario.

"The government of Ontario is planning to implement tax cuts that will benefit well-off people while at the same time they have cut income to the poor, and 46% of Ontario families make less than $35,000 a year but will get only 7.3% of the benefits of the proposed tax cuts (or about $462 per year). Families with total incomes of over $95,000 a year make up only 9.2% of all Ontario families, but they will get 32.7% of the benefits. In these tough times it is unconscionable that the poor will go hungry while the wealthy are given more.

"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 affix my signature to this as well.


Mrs Marion Boyd (London Centre): A petition to the Legislative Assembly of Ontario:

"Whereas the Legislative Assembly of Ontario belongs to the people of this province; and

"Whereas the people of this province are extremely concerned about the excessive force used by police to injure more than five people at this Legislature on Monday, March 18, 1996; and

"Whereas any internal investigation by the Speaker of this Legislature would require a report by the OPP and the Sergeant at Arms, which is inappropriate, because the OPP are the subject of concern and the Sergeant at Arms has publicly commented on the issue; and

"Whereas any referral of this issue to the Legislative Assembly committee would be inappropriate as it would become a partisan review in a political arena; and

"Whereas the Solicitor General and several other cabinet ministers have already passed judgement on this issue by making comments to the media and in the House defending the actions of the OPP's use of an excessive display of force;

"We, the undersigned, demand that the government launch immediately an independent public inquiry under the Public Inquiries Act to investigate the use of force used by the Ontario Provincial Police on behalf of the Legislative Assembly on Monday, March 18, 1996."

This is signed by a number of Ontario citizens. They will be very pleased that the government has acceded to the request that they've made in this petition, and I'm proud to sign my name.


Mr Gary L. Leadston (Kitchener-Wilmot): I'd like to present a petition.

"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."


Mr Michael A. Brown (Algoma-Manitoulin): I have a petition to the Ontario Legislature.

"Whereas the public secondary teachers of Ontario have taken a workplace democracy vote in accordance with Bill 7 and have rejected the proposed Ontario College of Teachers by a 94.8% vote;

"We, the undersigned, urge the provincial assembly to instruct the government to withdraw Bill 31, the Ontario College of Teachers Act, 1995."

This petition is signed by virtually all the teachers at Manitoulin Secondary School, including Mr Rob Cassibo.


Mr David Christopherson (Hamilton Centre): I have a petition addressed to the Minister of Health and the Hamilton-Wentworth district health council.

"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 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 St Joseph's Hospital at its present site."

I add my name to the petitioners.


Mr E.J. Douglas Rollins (Quinte): I have a petition to the Legislature of Ontario.

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


Mr Michael Gravelle (Port Arthur): I have a petition signed by over 350 people from my riding and from Fort William riding as well and I am pleased to read it. They are very concerned about maintaining affordable housing in Thunder Bay and across the province. The petition reads:

"To the Legislative Assembly of Ontario:

"Whereas the Ministry of Housing has indicated an intent to privatize public housing units and intensify the housing crisis in Ontario; and

"Whereas all Ontarians have a basic right to fair and affordable shelter; and

"Whereas such privatization will cause financial hardship and insecurity;

"We, the undersigned, petition the Legislative Assembly of Ontario to disallow the privatization of public housing units and to ensure that existing structures are adequately maintained."

I am proud to sign my signature to it.


Mr Gilles Bisson (Cochrane South): I have a petition from the people of Monteith, who are walking the picket line, and other people out there who are also out there in support, that reads:

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

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

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

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

"Whereas the 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 their total tax bill; and

"Whereas Bill 7 was introduced in the interest 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 selloff of Ontario public services and reinstate successor rights for those public service employees."

I affix my name to that petition.


Mr Pat Hoy (Essex-Kent): I have a petition from a number of residents in Kent county. I'm not going to read it all. It has a rather long preamble. It is 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 the government of Ontario has cut its direct funding to Transition House by almost $48,000 annually and placed 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-Kent."

I affix my signature to this.



Mr Tony Martin (Sault Ste Marie): "Whereas Bill 26 exempts the government as an employer from key legislation governing pensions in Ontario; and

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

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

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

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

I assign my signature to this petition.


Mr Pat Hoy (Essex-Kent): "Whereas the Conservative government's stated plan in the Common Sense Revolution is to improve the long-term economic prospects of Ontario; and

"Whereas research from all over the world shows early childhood education leads to lower dropout rates, improved reading, math and language skills, less chance of future unemployment, teen pregnancy or delinquency and higher enrolment in post-secondary education, thus resulting in a better-educated, highly skilled workforce; and

"Whereas this Conservative government states it is committed to ensuring a larger share of the education dollar goes to the classroom; and

"Whereas this Conservative government fully expects boards to meet transfer reductions by cutting costs outside the classroom; and

"Whereas this Conservative government has made junior kindergarten a matter of choice for local school boards and has reduced the funding for junior kindergarten;

"Therefore, to ensure this Conservative government meets its stated commitments in regard to education and to Ontario, we, the undersigned, call on the Minister of Finance and the Minister of Education and Training to restore the funding for junior kindergarten to its previous level and require all school boards to offer junior kindergarten classes."

I affix my signature.


Mrs Marion Boyd (London Centre): "To the Legislative Assembly of Ontario:

"Whereas the Harris government plans to sell public housing;

"We, the undersigned, petition the Legislative Assembly of Ontario not to privatize public housing and to allow for public hearings."

This is signed by a number of my constituents from London Centre and also from such places as Thamesford, New Hamburg, St Thomas and Union. I am proud to affix my signature.


Mr James J. Bradley (St Catharines): I have a petition brought to my attention by a number of residents of Ontario.

"Whereas the Conservative government's stated plan in the Common Sense Revolution is to improve the long-term economic prospects of Ontario; and

"Whereas research from all over the world shows early childhood education leads to lower dropout rates, improved reading, math and language skills, less chance of future unemployment, teen pregnancy or delinquency and higher enrolment in post-secondary education, thus resulting in a better-educated, highly skilled workforce; and

"Whereas this Conservative government states it is committed to ensuring a larger share of the education dollar goes to the classroom; and

"Whereas this Conservative government fully expects boards to meet transfer reductions by cutting costs outside the classroom; and

"Whereas this Conservative government has made junior kindergarten a matter of choice for local school boards and has reduced the funding for junior kindergarten;

"Therefore, to ensure this Conservative government meets its stated commitments in regard to education and to Ontario, we, the undersigned, call on the Minister of Finance and the Minister of Education and Training to restore the funding for junior kindergarten to its previous level and require all school boards to offer junior kindergarten classes."

I affix my signature to this petition.


Mr Gilles Bisson (Cochrane South): I have a petition here signed by a number of people from Iroquois Falls and Nellie Lake and Porquis Junction. It is addressed 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; and

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

I support and will sign that petition.



Mr Martin from the standing committee on government agencies presented the fifth report of the committee.

The Acting Speaker (Ms Marilyn Churley): Pursuant to standing order 106(g)(11), the report is deemed to be adopted by the House.



Mr Guzzo moved first reading of the following bill:

Bill Pr42, An Act respecting the city of Ottawa.

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, supplementary

Ministry of Community and Social Services

Ministry of Housing

Ministry of Transportation, supplementary

Ministry of Health, supplementary

Ministry of Economic Development and Trade

Mrs Sandra Pupatello (Windsor-Sandwich): It's my pleasure to continue my discussion begun yesterday on the estimates. We had the opportunity over the last couple of months to sit in during estimates and hear ministers make comment on the last term of government, but also making comment on what they anticipate doing through the next year. That, of course, led us to discussions yesterday, particularly in the area of education and children's services.

After a brief 10 minutes yesterday, I got back to my office only to find that a number of people had called from across Ontario who had heard the Liberal position on what this government is intending and is doing to education. People were calling me from areas like Belleville. The member for Quinte may want to take notice that there are a number of people where you come from, in your community, who are having a terrible time dealing with the cuts to education. In fact, many others from across Ontario are calling, saying, "We are having a terrible time dealing with cuts in education." It means they're laying off teachers, and there are teachers, especially young teachers across Ontario, who've already received their pink slip.

They were shocked by it, because they knew what the position of Conservative candidates was during the election. Why did those candidates have that position? Because they all carried around their little document for the campaign. I think they pointed out elements of the document that said something like, "Any reductions in the number of teachers required could be managed through attrition." This is the kind of stuff you went door to door with during the campaign, but they've already received their pink slips. I don't think they're receiving pink slips because of attrition.

We're finding time and time again, regardless of the discussion, regardless of the ministry, that they're going back to what you told them during the campaign, but what you're doing is something completely different. But where it concerns education, all of us in Ontario, every one of us, have a problem with that because that is going to impact on who will be driving Ontario 20 years from now. Where are the children going to be who are now at risk, who are not finding the kind of support they need through the agencies you have continued to cut? Even though you talked about having a great concern for children, your actions simply don't bear out that that is indeed what you're thinking.

I challenge every single member in this House on that side of the government to come to me and discuss this issue of education, that your Minister of Education and Training has let you all down. Please listen to the constituents in the riding that you come from, and listen to them tell you that they're having a major problem in how the cuts in education are not going to affect the classroom because they already are.


Firstly, you've got a morale problem with members in the staff, an employee of the ministry. The minister today on his feet said: "They're not really our employees. They're employed by the board of education, and the board is funded by the ministry." That's what you call a member of the broader public sector. Whether we like that or not, those are people that we are responsible to. Those are the people who are going to mete out what your policy-setting is.

Those teachers on the front line are being affected. You started in the month of January to say that you were going to find all your cuts by cutting the amount of prep time. It's such an easy place to target, because once again in this discussion you've decided to be divisive and blame the teachers for the problems that exist. It's all of our problem, and all of you know that it takes "an entire village to raise a child." It's your responsibility, like it is mine, to see that the children in Ontario are going to have that opportunity.

Instead, the children in Ontario are busy calling us saying, "Can we even come to Queen's Park to visit the Legislature?" Because of the kind of policy-setting and arrogance in letting that policy out and how it affects real people in Ontario, we have the kind of strike situation that we see surrounding the building today where people cannot feel comfortable even coming to Queen's Park and watching parliamentary procedure in Ontario.

Today's news reports -- and I wonder how many government members recognize that the editorials of all the major papers, including, say, this one today in the Toronto Star, are on the worldwide Internet.


The Acting Speaker (Ms Marilyn Churley): Order, please.

Mr Garry J. Guzzo (Ottawa-Rideau): Read from the Windsor paper.

Mrs Pupatello: Even the one from the Windsor Star. All of the major Canadian newspapers are talking about all the shenanigans that you've decided to stir up over the OPSEU strike.

But all in good context, and over the long term I suppose you'll say this too will pass, but at the same time and out of the other side of your mouth you're talking about wanting Ontario to be open for business.

Our Premier was opening a plant yesterday and doing the sod turning, but all of the reporters wanted to question him on: "How is this going to affect business? What about the visuals that are coming out of Queen's Park these days? What kind of long-term impact is that going to have?" Your Premier said: "I hope that they'll turn a blind eye. Those visuals aren't very good. No, that doesn't make us look very good at all."

In fact, the more they write about, I think we want to say, "It's time for the Premier to show some leadership, and govern in the interest of all Ontarians."

That's fine. This is within the confines of Ontario, but this is also on the worldwide Internet. So everyone in Tokyo and London, England, they're all reading too the problem in leadership that Ontario is facing, that what the Premier is doing is not helping the situation.

We wanted to talk today about a major crisis that Ontario faces, and again we're talking about youth in Ontario. Your Minister of Economic Development, Trade and Tourism did not want to acknowledge youth today. How many of you sitting in this House could stand to listen to the answer from that minister, who didn't want to acknowledge the issue of youth employment?

Currently, the unemployment rate stands at 30%. Now, this member may want to comment on the youth, and you can make a joke about it if you like. The reality is there's 30% of them who don't have employment, and at the same time the Minister of Education is increasing tuition, radically increasing tuition year after year. So what are we going to do about it, because it is all of our problem? It's a jobs crisis.

Now, I know that many of you followed the pre-budget hearings that went on and the report that was made on the whole issue of jobs. So let's go a little beyond just youth and just jobs in general. I know there are Conservative members who are concerned about where the jobs are going. It's a serious issue, because while you're cutting the social spending, we're also laying the ground to require more social spending. If we can equate that then, we're not going to get anywhere. So we've got to let you understand.

Mrs Marion Boyd (London Centre): On a point of order, Madam Speaker: Given the importance of the speech that the member for Windsor-Sandwich is giving, I think we should have quorum in the House.

The Acting Speaker: Is there a quorum present?

Clerk Assistant and Clerk of Committees (Ms Deborah Deller): A quorum is not present, Speaker.

The Acting Speaker ordered the bells rung.

Clerk Assistant and Clerk of Committees: A quorum is now present.

The Acting Speaker: We'll resume debate.

Mrs Pupatello: I'm glad to see that some members may indeed be interested in a discussion about youth employment. Today, we had an issue come up during question period --


The Acting Speaker: Will the member for Windsor-Sandwich take her seat, please. Could I have order in the House, please. Order. Thank you very much.

Mrs Pupatello: I'm hoping that there are Conservative members in the House today, indeed around the building, who may be interested in the crisis that Ontario is facing in youth employment. Our unemployment rate for youth stands at 30%. That affects me, that affects you, every one of us in our ridings, and if we are active in our roles as parliamentarians, we are talking to youth in our communities. We go to our high schools, we go to our grade schools, we go to colleges and universities, and we ask the young people of Ontario where do they think they're going to be in five years, where are they going to be in 10 years.

I want to tell you that so far, my experience is one of significant hopelessness for the young people today. They're concerned about how they're going to pay for an education, because they can't afford it. They want to go, they have the grades to go on, they have various hopes and dreams to fulfil in their futures. They're not finding the path open to them. So today, during question period, we had to ask the Minister of Economic Development.

There are rumours abounding everywhere about the cuts the government is making, but specifically in the area of youth, the threat to cancel the venture programs for young entrepreneurs. This is significant, because it is usually a Conservative member who's going to tell you that the move to new jobs is through small business growth, yet we're talking about cancelling young venture programs so that young people will have a way to get into the business world. Then we have rumours about the cuts to student employment programs for the summer.

Here are the very sincere students who are intent on making sure they have a job, because they've got to pay their tuition, or at least help with it. They don't have the jobs available. For myriad reasons, those jobs aren't there anymore. We do have parents coming back into the workforce because they too have a need to work. They're taking the part-time jobs that used to be open to students. Those jobs aren't there. People are staying in the workforce for a very long time, because they don't feel the security of retiring when they would have liked to.

There are major social reasons young people are having difficulty in finding that employment, but there's a much larger issue facing young people when they're done their education and they're trying to get their first job in the workplace. They're finding that the doors are closed. You have companies making record profits in a number of different industries, but they're doing it through significant job loss. We may have some kind of recovery in various parts of North America, but it's what they're calling a jobless recovery.

When I go to the high schools and I go to Holy Names in Windsor and ask any of the students, all the students, what kind of hope they have for the future, they tell me they're scared. I know that if you've gone to your high schools and you ask those who are in grade 12 or OAC now, "Where are you going to go next?" they say, "I hope I have the money to pay for the tuition."

This is not a problem that was created overnight. This problem didn't all of a sudden jump out because we have a Conservative government, although it'd be great to be able to say that. Frankly, it's a problem that's been with us for some time. You do have a responsibility, because you're a member of government, to do something about it, and my job is to point it out to you. When we tried to do that today with your minister, he's got the audacity to ignore the question and to ignore the significant crisis that youth face in Ontario. All of you might want to laugh about that, but I've got to tell you that at least half of you were as surprised as I was that your minister wouldn't recognize that he did have programs for youth and he didn't want to acknowledge that in his answer.

If we'd had the Minister of Education and Training here to talk about what the student training programs are going to be -- we know Jobs Ontario is gone. We might have questioned too how relevant it was to students long-term or to youth. But regardless, governments of the past have always made an attempt. Governments in the past have been on record to say, "We are going to try to address the issue." But so far the Conservative government has been silent on this issue and at 30% just for youth unemployment, we have to realize that we are in crisis where the youth of Ontario is concerned and we -- all of us, every member in the House -- cannot afford to be silent on it.


Politicians country-wide are dealing and grappling with the issue. Politicians in all of G-7 are grappling with this issue, just job creation overall. It's very easy for the youth to get lost in the shuffle while 50-year-olds being laid off from plants after having been in one occupation can barely find a job, whether it's a language barrier or whatever. It's an enormous issue, and so the youth do tend to get lost.


Mrs Pupatello: If you want to sit there and heckle me today, I'm asking you, as a member of the government side, what are you doing about it? If the door is open a little closer for you than it is for me to get a message to the ministers who are responsible to show leadership on it, what are you doing to bring the issue to bear to your ministers? Are all of you talking about it? I'll talk about what you did talk about. In here you talked about a youth corps program. Are you aware that it's in your document too? Except your youth corps program was talking about welfare recipients. Yes, they need jobs too.

How many of you have studied the graphs and the ups and downs and the statistics of welfare in your own community? If you had looked at the cases of welfare in your own community, then you would know --


Mrs Pupatello: I'm having a hard time realizing the humour of this discussion. If you really study the statistics of jobs in your own community, you'll see that every time the unemployment rate drops, so does the welfare case in your community. So if you had to draw a graph, every time you have job growth in your own community your welfare rolls go down. This should tell every one of you that if we can move on job creation, you're going to drop your welfare rolls. There's an enormous correlation and you don't need to be a scientist to figure it out. Jobs have got to start to become your priority here. You can cut as much as you like, but if we don't see any job growth, we're going to have a major problem.

I admit that you see me as just a Liberal MPP. What could I possibly know about the jobs issue? Let's talk about people you might listen to. Would you be interested in hearing their point of view? Let's talk about a report that was written on your pre-budget hearing on finance. Let's talk about what they had to say about job creation.

"No witness who addressed the issue had particularly high expectations that the province's economy would be generating a large number of jobs in 1996 or 1997. General comments by witnesses on the stimulative effects of tax cuts, the economic drag of expenditure cuts, or an improved business climate address job creation along with economic growth."

More importantly, "Specific comments on job creation came from the expert witness from Informetrica, who predicted continuing sluggish job growth (as did all the other expert witnesses)" -- again this is your committee, so I'm trusting that you'd listen to this kind of a report and be concerned; you might be the government side, but this is all of our problem, not just yours, so we all have to address it -- "possibly only enough to keep the unemployment rate from rising." That is, it doesn't get any worse, but of course that means it's not going to get any better either.

"The expert witness who had been with the Fair Tax Commission made detailed projections, summarized above, on job losses resulting from expenditure cuts. Finally, the expert witness from the Bank of Nova Scotia pointed out that the service industry is currently restructuring with effects that can be expected to be similar to restructuring in the manufacturing industry -- a process which resulted in major job losses...."

It's a sobering document, and we all have to recognize its importance. Again, I only have to stress that we're talking about overall job creation, job loss and government policy role in all of that, but specifically, do not let the youth of Ontario get lost in the shuffle.

Unemployment rates for youth have never been this high and they've been getting worse, year after year. You can politicize as much as you want, but the real check for you will be to go home and go in your ridings and talk to your young people, just ask them. It's not the same as when you were there, trust me. The aims are different. The aims are lower. The aims and the expectations are not as high as they were any more, not even when John Baird was there, which was a lot less time ago than most of you. But the reality is, you've got to get back there and ask them where they think they're going to be in 10 years, because the opportunities aren't there.

What is government's role for that? If governments could figure out what our role is in job creation, we would still be in power, quite frankly, and this government cannot profess to have all the answers. So please don't put all of your eggs in one basket because you think that a stimulative tax cut is the answer to your prayers. It's not going to be. Other jurisdictions have already proven that to us.

The long-term effect, what you do to young persons when they don't get that first job after four years of university and they find themselves being underemployed, I suppose it's our attitude too on what we consider good employment for young people, but the point is that this has a long-term implication for the people who are going to be the leaders in our communities and the leaders in our society. They just don't have it as easy as we did when we were younger. So every one of us has a responsibility.

I'd like to finish by just commenting on other children's programs, and these are mostly children at risk who have to be given the assistance to get to what the average mean is of expectation for young people.

Your Mike Harris promised -- one of them -- in the documents to initiate a province-wide breakfast program, and if he talked about any social programs at all -- I admit he did not talk about many and I know you were pleased to hear that, but the rest of us weren't as thrilled -- he talked about at least a breakfast program --

The Acting Speaker: Could the member for Nepean please take his seat.

Mr John R. Baird (Nepean): I believe my friend from Windsor is in violation of standing order 22(a).

The Acting Speaker: Which is?

Mr Baird: Which is, "Every member desiring to speak must rise in his or her place and address" their comments to "the Speaker."

The Acting Speaker: The member does have a point. Could you please try to direct your comments directly to the Speaker.

Mrs Pupatello: Madam Speaker, the one important project province-wide to introduce today, of all days, is the breakfast program, and I can understand how busy the Premier must have been all of this time.

The reality is that he issued a challenge to me and threw down the gauntlet and said, "Go tell Pupatello to start one herself," so we did do that. We didn't just do that; we did all the research for them.

Here he is with a staff of ministries that are legion, but we took it on anyway. We did all of the research. We looked at every program that exists, all the good ones, all the bad ones, and we put together all the important information that he needs to introduce a province-wide breakfast program with no additional cost to the taxpayer. But that needs leadership from the Premier's office, which is exactly what Mike Harris said in his years of opposition, and he drummed that point home.

Not only did we put it together, we put it on a silver platter and we handed it to the Premier. Because it impacts on other ministries, we gave copies of the breakfast program to the other ministries as well, and it's not going to cost them additional pennies, not even additional pennies.

We're waiting for that introduction of the breakfast program, because now you don't have any of your staff time involved; just do it. But the long-term effects of taking care of our children is far more important.

The Acting Speaker: Thank you very much.

Order, please. Before we move on to the next speaker, in fact the member for Nepean made a good point. Could I ask members to direct their comments to the Speaker.

Mr Gilles Bisson (Cochrane South): I have had the opportunity for some years here to sit on the estimates committee. I first went to the estimates committee back in 1990, where as a government member I worked quite long and quite well with the opposition members in order to make sure that the estimates that were brought forward in that committee have a good airing, there's some good debate about what goes on within each of the ministries when it comes to expenditures and, more importantly, to try to get the government to respond to some of those key concerns that members bring to the estimates committee over a period of time as the estimates are before the Legislative Assembly.


The only thing I would say on that point before going on to some of my comments in regard to what I heard and saw through the estimates process of this fall and of this winter is that in the past under Tory governments, under Liberal governments and under an NDP government, there was an attempt at least I think on the part of the government to take that process somewhat seriously, so that members are able to bring their concerns to the estimates committee. Really that's the only forum that we have as members where we can go there and seriously discuss the issues at hand that are affecting the ministries that represent our constituents, the people in our ridings.

I would only urge the members of the government to push their government, to make sure they carry that process through. I recognize that the last estimates were the estimates of our government and maybe the government did not want to move on some of those initiatives, but I only wish that the governments take heed of that and recognize that your job on estimates committee as government members is not just to sit there and to support by and large what your ministers are telling you, but by and large to listen to what opposition members say, to listen to what each other says in regard to government members as well, so that we're able to take a look at how the ministries spend their money and how maybe they can better do that. I would just urge the government members to keep going in that direction, I think a process established under our government under the leadership of Bob Rae, and I would like to see that go on.

I want to go on to three or four different ministries that we heard before estimates, and I just want to make some quick comments. I would like first of all to start with health care, because I think that's the issue of all issues when it comes to most Ontarians, when it comes to the services that they get from their governments. People recognize now, not like they did 30 years ago -- I would say 30 years ago it was quite opposite -- that public health care is not only a necessity; it is a right. It is something that we have grown to accept in this Legislature and across this land, that the government of Ontario and the governments of other provinces be responsible and be the sole deliverer of that system of health care so that we can make sure that we have good public policy followed by public funding in order to make sure that if you're sick in your community you have an integrated system of health care that tends to respond -- that doesn't only tend to respond but actually responds to the needs of the community.

I don't do this in order to be combative, but I want to remind government members, especially those in the back bench, that when the government ran in the last election -- being the NDP government, one of the issues that we pointed out, we said, "Listen, health care is a major issue." We had grave concerns back in the election of June 1995 that if the Conservative government was elected there would be an erosion of our public system of health care towards a more private system of health care.

Unfortunately, I think we're starting to see that develop. We've seen under Bill 26, where the government has given the Minister of Health far-sweeping powers to be able to erode our system of public health care, to put many of the services that we have now presently within public institutions. I mean hospitals, I mean public labs, I'm talking about the services that we utilize in regard to diagnosis equipment such as CAT scans and MRIs, where there was, up until this January, a law that said that those services had to be provided in the public sector and had to be provided by institutions that were controlled within the boundaries of Ontario. Bill 26 has changed that and I caution the Minister of Health that we're going to get into a situation, as we allow the private sector to come in and to compete with the public sector in the question of health care -- I first of all don't believe they can do it any cheaper. The reality is that the United States, if you look at their system of health care, is far more expensive than our public system of health care. We have no lessons to learn from the private sector when it comes to how we run our health care system, because Ontario and Canada have the best and most affordable system of health care than we have in all of the free world.

But I just want to point out to the Legislature and those people watching that what I said to the Minister of Health at the time is very simply this: If you allow the private sector to come in, to go into competition with those public institutions out there, it will over a period of time give the ability of the government of the day to be able to move from a public system of health care over your private system one, citing the following example: You underfund your public system of health care, people lose the confidence in that system, they look for an alternative and, pop, up comes a private system where you're able to go out and buy extra insurance in order to be able to access those services. I very much fear that the government is sending us down a path that is going to be a very destructive one, I think, when we come to our system of health care.

I also want to remind the government that the government today, when it ran as an opposition party wanting to be government back in the election of June 1995, ran on the Common Sense Revolution. It was very clear. They had a program and that program said: "We will not cut health care spending. It's far too important. Frankly, as we all get older, we're going to need it more and more. Under this plan, health care spending will be guaranteed."

Well, I can tell you, in the riding of Cochrane South, you haven't done that. You have, first of all, already cut the spending at the Timmins and District Hospital, an institution that serves not only my community but communities across northeastern Ontario, and you have now announced that upcoming this year and the following year, you will be reducing in each of those years by at least $1.4 million the budget of that hospital.

I say to you directly, as I said to the Minister of Health at the time when he appeared before the estimates committee: First of all, it is against the Common Sense Revolution. I thought if you held anything dear to your hearts, you would hold that together.

But more importantly, what really irks me and really, really angers me is that you are penalizing those institutions out there that have already gone through the process of restructuring. You are not recognizing that they have already done what the government is asking other hospitals in this province to do. You are looking at northern Ontario, and specifically the Timmins and District Hospital, with the attitude, "We want hospitals across this province to merge, number one; and number two, to undergo restructuring in order to make them more affordable."

We've already done that. We merged our hospital boards some seven or eight years ago. We went through an entire process by which, in that merger, we moved into a new facility. The Timmins and District Hospital board, along with the community and the workers who work at that hospital, underwent a humongous effort in order to be able to restructure the Timmins and District Hospital, and over a period of six years has not seen its budget increased once, other than the money we advanced them as the NDP government in order to make sure their funding shortfalls for those years -- where they had a deficit, where they were not able to control, because it was outside their control -- we made sure that they didn't fall back into removing services that were much needed in the community.

You are not only going back on the promise of the Common Sense Revolution but, quite frankly, you're penalizing people who have gone out and done what you've said you want others to do. It is one thing to go to a hospital system in Toronto, a system of 44 hospitals, and tell them to go through a restructuring and a merging of the system, which is not without difficulty -- our community did it; Sault Ste Marie did it; Sudbury's in the process of doing it -- it is one thing to go through that, but to turn around and to tell a community that's already done it, "Well, never mind, we're going to cut you again," it means -- and I'm telling you now, services will be cut at the Timmins and District Hospital as sure as I'm standing here. When we go to that hospital two to three years from now, there will still be services offered at Timmins and District Hospital, the doors will still be open, but many of the services that we presently take for granted, that we worked hard for as a government under the leadership of Shelley Martel, as the Minister of Northern Development and Mines; the Minister of Health, Ruth Grier; the Premier, Bob Rae, and myself as the local member -- and I would say a former member, Alan Pope, a Tory member, who was part of this process before me; we worked hard in order to attract services and specialists into our community -- a lot of that is going to be put at jeopardy because this government does not want to recognize there are people out there who have already been doing what you guys have been asking others to do, and they've done it long before you came along.

I really object when I hear members of the government stand, as they did when the member from Windsor was up in her place speaking in regard to her debate, in regard to this particular issue, saying: "It is the spending of 10 years past. It is a Liberal and an NDP government that put us into this mess." You do not recognize the reality of what's happened over the last 10 years in this province. Number one, there has been, and there always has been, an extreme amount of work done both on the part of government at the provincial level and on the part of agencies within communities and municipalities in order to be able to find better ways of running those institutions so that they're more affordable. For you to stand here and try to say: "It's all the other governments' fault. It was the Liberals and New Democrats who put us in this mess," I think is so simplistic, it is such an idiotic comment to make, it really, I think, shows a lack of understanding that you have, as supposed members of this assembly, for what has happened in this province over the last 10 years.

The other thing that really bothers me is that you don't recognize that there has been a recession in this province, starting in the 1980s and going into the 1990s -- and I would argue we're still in it. You stand there and you say: "Oh, there's this humongous deficit of $10 billion, and because of that, we've got to do all kinds of wild and woolly things. We've got to fire 27,000 public sector employees, we've got to slash and burn services in the province of Ontario, all in the name of the deficit." Get off the pot. The reality is you want to give a tax break. That's what this is all about. To come into this Legislature and to be seen around the province as being the party that cares about the deficit, and oh, my God, you're so concerned about the economy of the province of Ontario and the spending of the government, is really a lot of hooey.


The reality is, you know it as well as I do, you are compounding the problem of the deficit of this province by going ahead with your irresponsible tax break, period. If you were really serious about trying to deal with the question of debt and the question of deficit, you would be trying to attack the problem, which is simply we have a loss of revenue because of what has happened in the recession. There are far fewer people working in 1995, even though we have a stronger economy because the economy has changed.

I met this morning with the people at Aquarius Mine, who are opening up a brand-new mine in my riding. It's going to be probably about 8,000 tonnes a day when it comes into operation, if everything goes well. Do you know how many jobs that creates? About 150. If you had created that mine 10 or 15 years ago, you probably would have had 400 to 500 people working there. The reality is that the economy has changed. Businesses, for all kinds of reasons that are out of our control and out of your control as a government, have had to learn how to run their mines and run their plants with a lot fewer people, and that means to say we've got less money as a government to pay for services.

So, one, you don't recognize that one of the problems of the government is a problem of revenue, and it has been one. The other question is a question of spending. I agree with the government when they say that they have to find more efficient ways to be able to run the programs that the government of Ontario puts in place. But the reality is that's not what you guys are all about here, because if you were truly interested in being able to attack the spending side of the problem, what you would do is you would first of all say, "Before we go out and we slash and burn in programs, we will come up with alternatives of how (a) we deliver those services in a different way or (b) if we need to deliver them at all." You're not doing that. You're not reforming the way that government programs are done.

I take a look at the cut that you did at the Ministry of Northern Development and Mines. You cut programs like OMIP, the Ontario mineral incentive program; you cut programs like OPAP, the Ontario prospectors assistance program; you cut the people in the field in order to be able to work with the geologists out there, in order to be able to go out and assist them with the business of being able to find new mines. You didn't take a look at how you can offer those services better to the people of the province of Ontario.

Mr Speaker, nice to see you in the chair.

What you really did is you turned around and you just said basically, "The Minister of Northern Development and Mines, Mr Hodgson, has to bring before the cabinet table, as a good cabinet crony of the Mike Harris government, his share in the tax cut that he's going to pass on to people." That is transcended into a number and you just cut programs. So what are we left with? We're left without the programs that we need in order to help our economy go, in order to create the jobs.

There were programs -- and I talk about the north because that's where I come from; of course I'll talk about northern Ontario -- but you've cut the very programs in the north that are necessary for economic development. Gone is the money that we had in the heritage fund in regard to being able to assist businesses in being able to get the key financing that they need to go to banks in order to start up businesses. The Northern Ontario Development Corp is another one that has been cancelled.

I can point to my riding and I can show you specifically buildings that have been constructed where there are businesses in them that are operating world-class operations because the government understood, under Bob Rae, under Shelley Martel, under Ed Philip and others, that the government has not only a role but a responsibility when it comes to economic development.

For the government to come into the House and say to the people of Ontario, "We don't have to do any of this stuff, because if we cut the government expenditures and we cut the red tape and we get rid of those nasty laws that protect the environment and workers, all this investment will come forward." Come on, give me a break. That doesn't work in the Third World and it's not going to work in Ontario, for God's sake. Where do you guys come from?

The reality is that when you look at investments such as Malette granite in the community of Iroquois Falls, we built a world-class operation there where they're developing and producing granite products that are being sold across all of North America. In fact the community of Iroquois Falls, under Malette granite, is selling the very granite and finishing the very granite that is being put on the Parliament Building in the restoration of that building.

That's happening in Iroquois Falls. Why? Because the Northern Ontario Development Corp, along with the heritage fund and Jobs Ontario Training and under the leadership of Bob Rae and of the ministers responsible and of myself as a local member, worked with the community, worked with the proponents of that particular project, worked with the employees in some cases in order to make that project possible.

Did it happen just because of us? Of course not. The people who own that plant, who worked towards putting that plant in place obviously were the ones who wanted to make it happen. But government played a responsibility and played a role in being able to bring that plan forward.

All kinds of examples: the expansion at Iroquois Falls in regard to Northland Power and the cogeneration plant that was built there; the expansion of the OSB out in Timmins in regard to Malette waferboard. There were more new investments in the forestry sector in northern Ontario in the time of our government than there was in the previous 15 years put together when it came to the construction of new production facilities for wood fibre. And why? Because our government recognized that what we need to do is that we need to recognize that the government has to play a role and play the leading responsibility in making that happen.

I wanted to put that on the record, because I think it's important that members understand that government does have a responsibility when it comes to the whole question of economic development. And let's not kid ourselves. What you're really doing here is you're trying to figure out a way to raise money in order to make a tax cut. This is what really this is all about.

I want to point out a couple of things in the 10 minutes or so I've got left. I guess the first thing I would want to say is I want to go through a couple of key areas in regard to what this government has moved on. I would also like to point out what the position of the Liberal Party has been on these issues since the last election and where they're at. In fact, I don't see any of the Liberal Party here, so I would hope they're in watching this within their offices.

But I would say the following: There is, for an example, a move on the part of this government to go from publicly funded non-profit day care to move towards a private system of day care where there are going to be vouchers given. In other words, if I'm a young mother or a young couple and I want to put my child in day care, the system, as you know, is going to change. It will be, first of all, a lot harder to access. The minister is saying in fact that the money that you get for the subsidy for the day care spot is actually going to be a loan. It's going to mean a lot of people are not going to be able to access day care services.

I want to point out that when we moved from a system of private day care in Ontario to a publicly funded non-profit system that we did under the NDP government, the Liberal Party was totally in agreement with the Conservatives' present position. I think people need to understand that and need to know what happened there. I remember very well the debates we had in the standing committee and we had here on that particular issue. The Liberals argued with us that we shouldn't move to non-profit and private, that in fact we should leave it in the private sector, and I see very little difference in position between the present Conservative government and the Liberal Party at the time and today.

The other was the whole question of welfare. The government is saying that it wants to break the cycle of dependency on welfare in order to be able to get people off the welfare system and going out to get a job.

First of all, the myth that the government tries to build, and I think a lot of other radical right people try to build in this province, is that people on welfare are all there because they want to be there. That's hogwash. The reality is the vast majority of people, over 90% of people on welfare, are there because of circumstance. They're there because there isn't work in their communities. There is a difficulty in them being able to find work for all kinds of reasons, sometimes having to do with what's happening at home, what's happening to them physically or what's happening generally within the economy.

If you want to get people off welfare, the best way to do that is to try to find programs, such as Jobs Ontario Training that we had put in place, that help the employer to be able to offset their training costs so they can hire somebody on the welfare system and get them back into the workplace. It's a good way to make it work. Jobs Ontario Training at the time was listed as the most successful jobs creation program to get people off welfare in all of North America. There was an 85% retention rate. That means to say, of all the jobs that were created under Jobs Ontario Training, when the subsidies came off, 85% of those people who got jobs in those programs stayed with the employer with no subsidy. That is pretty darned good.

And you know what? It was a positive measure, the way that I see it, because what it did was it didn't penalize the person on welfare, didn't say to the person on welfare, "You're a lazy bum and you should go out there and work." What it said was: "We recognize there are difficulties. We recognize if we, as a government, take our responsibility and do an investment here in regard to helping you get the training that you need to get a job, you will do so."

And people responded. I can tell you, in my community, as I know across a lot of communities in Ontario generally, people on welfare wanted very much to participate in Jobs Ontario. The only disappointment was that they wished there would have been a lot more jobs being created under Jobs Ontario. As it turns out, I think the number was somewhere around 65,000 or 75,000 people got jobs through Jobs Ontario Training. They would have liked to have seen that number bigger. Well, I agree. I think with time that program was getting to be a lot better and a lot stronger. I think we could have done quite a bit with that.

If the government, in its zeal to balance the budget, would have said, "We want to change welfare in order to be able to get people back to work," the very least it could have done is left Jobs Ontario Training in place until such time that it had a program to replace it and tried to build on what our government had done.


No. What does this government do? It does what it always does: It manages by crisis, for God's sake. The first thing they did when they came to government was they cancelled Jobs Ontario Training. Why? Because Mike Harris, in opposition with the Conservative Party, like Lyn McLeod in the opposition of the Liberal Party, said they wanted to cancel it. Both the Liberals and Tories didn't like it because it was successful. The Liberals campaigned on cancelling it. They would have cancelled it if they were elected. You guys cancelled it just out of saying that was the right thing to do.

I say that if you didn't like Jobs Ontario Training, the very least you could have done is to say: "We don't like it. We think it's not a good program. We're going to make some changes to make it better. We're going to leave it in place until we come up with a better program, and once we do, we're going to phase out Jobs Ontario Training." No. You cancelled it altogether. On top of that, you cut welfare payments by 22%. So not only did you cut the Jobs Ontario Training program, you penalized people by not even giving them the opportunity to have the amount of money that they need to be able to make ends meet.

As the Housing critic for the NDP caucus, I have met with many people in the housing field. One of the things that really scares me is that I was at a meeting of hospices at Metro Hall about two or three weeks ago here in Toronto, and one of the figures that they told me was that 10 years ago there were maybe 1,500 people who utilized hospices on any one night in the city of Toronto.

A hospice, for people to understand, is a place that you go when you're on the street and you don't have a place to sleep; you go to a hospice, where they'll give you a bed so that you can stay for the night or for a couple of days until you can get yourself organized.

So 10 years ago there were maybe 1,500 people in the system. It took 10 years to get it up to 2,500 people in the system; far too many people, far more than we really need. Do you know how long it took to increase it by another 1,000? Two months.

When you talk to the sheriff's department of the city of Toronto, they're saying economic evictions of people out of their homes who are living in substandard apartments across the city of Toronto has gone up by 65% over the last two or three months, since the time of the welfare cuts.

That's the effect of what you guys are doing. That's what we object to. That's why we, in opposition, are so opposed to what you're doing as a government. That's why you're seeing record numbers of people out in the halls, out in front of the building and protesting this government: because they're saying you have no alternative. This is not about a government wanting to put forward alternatives; this is about a government that is intent on destroying the system and has declared war on those people who don't agree with it.

All of the stuff that you have done up to now is what? It's going after those people who are least able to defend themselves. You've gone after women. You've cut the funding for women's shelters across this province. In fact, you've got the member for London North, who's the minister responsible for women's issues, who says to people in her community, "If you raise an oppositional voice to the Tory Mike Harris government, I will cut your funding." My God. The worst part about that is that she's still in cabinet for having said that. Imagine that, the minister responsible for women's issues.

That is the attitude of this government, and that's really what we're saying. We're saying that you have the right to govern, but you also have a responsibility to make sure that you do it in a responsible way. Is it responsible to tell somebody, because you disagree with them, that you're going to cut their funding? We see that time and time again in a number of situations this government has been involved in. You wonder why people are out on the front lawns of Queen's Park and calling you at your constituency offices and sending you the amount of mail and the petitions that they're sending you. People are saying, "Listen, you've got a right as a government to govern, but for God's sake, you also have a responsibility to the people within the province to make sure that you do so wisely."

This government is not trying to figure out a way to run government better; it doesn't believe in government. That's the point. You don't believe in a publicly funded system of health care. You don't believe in a publicly funded system of day care. You don't believe in government, period. So you are going about a radical right agenda of being able to get rid of most of the system of government as we know it in favour of no government whatsoever in many areas that we have it now or transferring those programs over to the private sector so a couple of brokers can line their pockets with public-sector dollars, hard-paid tax dollars, so that you can say thanks to your Conservative friends.

Am I cynical? Darned right I'm cynical for what you guys are doing, because you are causing more damage to this province, and it's going to take our government when we're re-elected in the year 2000 or 1999 a lot of work to be able to bring back to Ontario the sanity and the compassion that this province has. I think the thing that you guys are missing is that Ontario has always been a province that has shown compassion and has shown a level-headedness about what it does. We've had governments, yes, in the past that were Conservative, but I would say they were red Tories. They were people who actually had a conscience about what their responsibility was to the people that they represent. This government doesn't have that, and if people are opposing you, it is basically because of that.

We see the police, as we did yesterday or the day before, going out in order to make a line by pushing people back with billy clubs and hitting them over the head and bloodying them to allow a line of MPPs to get in here.

You sit there and say, "Well Jeez, it was the strikers who started it." Why are the strikers out there in the first place? They're out there because you have taken away their basic rights. People of this province, if you're in the private sector, you have the right to successor rights. If I'm working for Dome mines or I'm working for, let's say, Pamour mines, and that mine is sold to another employer, the collective agreement goes with it. If I'm a public sector employee for the government of Ontario, Mike Harris says, "You don't have successor rights." Two different classes of people are what you're creating. Is that fair? Is that right? No.

You say you want to run government the same as you do in the private sector. If you want to do it like the private sector, give the public sector employees what the private sector has got. They'll be happy. They'd be happy if you'd at least do that. It would be an improvement on what you do.

You're saying to public sector employees, "You won't have the right to bump." When you closed down the Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs in Matheson the way that you did, if that was to happen at this point after the strike, Pierrette Blok, who worked in that particular office, wouldn't have the right to be able to bump into another office somewhere else within the province and at least protect her ability to have an income to support her family.

No, under the Mike Harris government, employees will lose their right to be able to bump within the OPS. Is that fair? Is that what they do in the private sector?

I can tell you, I've been there. I've negotiated collective agreements on behalf of the United Steelworkers of America. I've worked with the Ontario Federation of Labour, servicing locals within northeastern Ontario, and every private sector employer that I dealt with, when they went through downsizing, sat down with their employees, sat down with the unions and said, "This is what we want to do," and it was a process by which people bumped once they did the layoffs. You gave the layoff notices. If, let's say, 500 people were gone out of 1,000, basically there was a bumping process they went through that the 500 people at the bottom who would go would be those people with the least amount of seniority. Those people who were close to pensions, you tried to bridge, and you tried to make the layoff a lot easier for people to deal with. No, that's not what this government's doing.

Another thing you're doing is taking away pension rights. You're putting a big, long scoop into the pension funds of the OPS through Bill 26 because, as you wind down the pension with 27,000 people being put out the door, you're making it possible for you, an employer, not to adhere to the laws the private sector has to adhere to when it comes to winding down pensions. What's supposed to happen, because there's a wind-down, is that you take the surplus of that pension and you apply it to bridging so that employees are offered early retirement so that they're able to leave and lessen the impact on the workforce that remains. So instead of 27,000 people being fired, there may be 4,000 or 5,000 people who could retire if you allowed them to have the same pension rights as in the private sector. You wonder why the people of this province are upset with you.

I would just say to the government that yes, you got elected with a majority government. Yes, as a government you have the right to manage and to make decisions. But you must remember that you have a responsibility, with that power, to ensure that what you do is done in a thoughtful way so that you've thought out what your plan is and you figure out where you're going to go.

The problem with what you are doing now is that it's an approach of just basically cutting and allowing the cuts to make things work for you. I say there is no common sense in what you're doing. If anything, it's nonsense. We will be proven right. I will say to you four years down the road that the voters of this province will run you the heck out of this Legislature so fast that your head will spin.

Let me tell you that you will be gone, and this caucus, the Tory caucus of Ontario, will have to share the back seat with the Tory caucus in Ottawa when they hold their caucus convention of the two members in Ottawa and then maybe the one or two who'll be left inside the province of Ontario Legislature. No matter where I go, the people of Ontario are telling me the same thing. It's not a question of the government going too far or too fast; it's a question of the government going in the wrong direction. People will remember that and people will have you out of here so fast you won't know what hit you.


Mr Steve Gilchrist (Scarborough East): Before I actually get on the topic of estimates, which is what I thought we were here to debate, I think some of the comments made by the member who just spoke from the third party need some rebuttal.

As the member well knows, a lot of the rhetoric from the other side just doesn't jibe with the reality of what our government is doing and to make disparaging comments about health in a community that just got joint Timmins -- Queen's University psychiatric services that dramatically expand psychiatric services to the point they've never had them before --


Mr Gilchrist: He may benefit, I don't know. Timmins has just received a new MRI. Sudbury has just received a new MRI. Chapleau just got a new hospital.


The Deputy Speaker (Mr Bert Johnson): Order.

Mr Bisson: On a point of order, Mr Speaker: The member well knows that those announcements were announced by our government, not by yours. It's just a repeated announcement.

Mr Gilchrist: That is not true. They were announced about three weeks ago by Minister Wilson and perhaps you'll take credit --


The Deputy Speaker: Order.

Mr Gilchrist: It's one thing to make the announcement, it's another thing to actually come up with the money and do the deed. Of course, the $70-an-hour emergency on-call fee to attract new doctors to the north -- perhaps you're going to take credit for that one as well.

It's been very interesting these last couple of days to sit in this House and, as a new member, continue to see how this body functions and to see the difference between those who espouse integrity and those who practise duplicity; those who have honesty as an abiding belief and those who believe that hypocrisy is the way to govern their affairs; those who have principles and that dedication to a cause and those who govern by headline or in reaction to today's polls.

Personally, I side with Chris Stockwell and his comments made two days ago, that this is the seat of government in the province of Ontario and I'm very proud to stand here today and be able to represent the people from Scarborough East and to be able to participate in a democratic debate.

I take great exception to the hypocrisy we've heard in the last couple of days, but the member for Windsor-Riverside in particular, the House leader of the third party who on the day of opening of Parliament back in September went on ad nauseam for at least half an hour about how terrible it was that any member be abridged or impeded in their ability to come into this House -- and yet this week he finds it completely appropriate that the members of one particular party are held up for as long as three hours. That sort of hypocrisy has no place in this chamber, Mr Speaker.

On the subject of, shall we say, contradictions, I note the return of the member for Hamilton East and I have here an article from the Hamilton Spectator on February 22 where the member is quoted as saying that he's going to side with the workers, "`I will not cross a picket line,' he said. `In effect, we are the only voice they have within the system, but I will not do it against the will of the union.'" The punch-line, "`I think anyone from a labour town who crosses a picket line has rocks in their head.'"

The thing I found interesting is the same day this article came out --


Mr Gilchrist: The day after the article appeared, the member himself was sitting in on the public accounts committee. I leave it to others to decide the integrity that is embodied in those words.

It's indeed a privilege to be offered the opportunity to say a few words about the estimates process. In my short time as a member, I've discovered that perhaps no other aspect of parliamentary procedure is quite as anomalous as the estimates process. Here we are less than two weeks from the end of the fiscal year of the government and yet we're debating the allocation of the funds to be spent in the last year.

Add to that the fact that our discussion revolves around the spending decisions that were announced by the previous government, decisions which were soundly repudiated last June 8 and it would certainly lead one to believe that there's a need for significant reform in our approach to the spending of the taxpayers' money.

I was privileged to sit on the committee hearings for three days. At the outset, I'd like to compliment the ministers who appeared before the committee for their candour, their forthrightness, their honesty, their accessibility and their obvious grasp of the issues facing their respective ministries. When you consider that our government has individual ministries with budgets greater than the total provincial budgets of seven of the provinces of this country, it's nothing short of remarkable the extent to which the ministers of the crown have become expert in their respective fields.

In the few minutes available to me today I want to address the area of the estimates process which was of greatest interest to me and which will arguably have the greatest impact on whether the decisions our government makes in the next few months and years will translate into long-term job creation and retention.

The ministry I'd like to deal with is Economic Development, Trade and Tourism. This ministry deals with a vast range of issues, including science and technology, small business development, international relations, trade policy and of course tourism. In addition, the ministry oversees more than 20 agencies, commissions and crown corporations covering topics as diverse as casinos and historic sites.

Far too often in the past the efforts in this ministry have gone into initiatives that compromised rather than promoted private sector investment and acted contrary to the free market. It's incredibly ironic that the estimates process provides for the "defence" in this case of the budget proposed by the NDP. The premise behind their budget figures for this ministry were not in any way motivated by an abiding belief in entrepreneurism or the free market. This is best illustrated by the NDP move to prop up Ontario Bus Industries. Over a period of two years, the NDP spent or underwrote liabilities to the tune of $117.6 million.

While all of us in this House agree that job creation is of critical importance, if the free market cannot support the manufacture of buses or more particularly, the buses made by Ontario Bus Industries, there is absolutely no moral or economic justification that can be made for the intrusive and ill-considered squandering of the taxpayers' hard-earned dollars in this way.

Another example of the use of taxpayer funds under the guise of economic development was the Jobs Ontario Community Action program. Despite lofty objectives, the results fell dramatically short of the projections made by the previous government -- only short-term jobs on fixed projects, with an administration that was so sloppy we will likely never have a full accounting of how public funds were spent and the benefits that were derived, if any. It would appear, though, that we would have been better off to have written $30,000 cheques to those few recipients of Jobs Ontario employment and it would have been much cheaper.

Clearly, it is initiatives -- and I use that term loosely -- such as these two which contributed to the crushing $11.2-billion deficit, which was the legacy we inherited from last year's administration, and average $10-billion deficits for the previous five years. When added to the $40 billion in debt that the NDP inherited from the Liberals in 1990, this complete ignorance of economic realities of debt have left our once-vibrant province dramatically impaired in its ability to respond to the issues and the challenges of today. The debt has now reached $100 billion, and as the Minister of Finance has told us on more than one occasion, the province is spending $1 million more per hour than it's taking in in revenue.

Perhaps there's a silver lining, though, to the profligacy and the wastefulness of the past decade, namely, the raising of public awareness of the need for governments at all levels to regard the spending of tax dollars as a sacred trust, and that at all times governments must operate to the same standards and with the same perspective as the commercial sector or private citizens.

Government spending does not create jobs. It merely redistributes wealth and does nothing to create new wealth. The role of government should be to create a climate for investment and to assist business in the challenge of anticipating new opportunities that will then arise.

As Minister Saunderson noted during his presentation to the estimates committee, the focus of his ministry has changed and will now concentrate on two specific areas of the economy: on sectors and groups of companies which together represent economic engines in Ontario's regions and in the province as a whole; and second, on small to mid-size innovative growth firms, many in the high-tech field, which are leading the transition from an industrial to an information society.

The minister went on to detail the steps he's taken to identify barriers to job creation and the gaps which impede business growth in this province. He noted that his research has extended from the leaders of Ontario's key production sectors to executives of business organizations and tourist authorities, CEOs and staff of financial institutions, and dozens of international investors or would-be investors.

I was particularly pleased that the minister used as an example of successful Ontario companies he has visited Printed Circuits Inc, situated in my home town of Scarborough. Starting with a tiny staff and sales of less than $0.5 million in 1990, this company has succeeded in becoming Canada's leading manufacturer of printed waferboards, including those found in Motorola cellular phones. This extraordinary company now has a staff of 200 and sales approaching $25 million.


Minister Saunderson also noted the incredible growth of Makeup Art Cosmetics Limited, better known as MAC Cosmetics, here in Toronto. Since 1993, the staff complement has quadrupled to 800 and sales now exceed $100 million. Better yet, MAC's chief executive, Frank Toskan, forecasts that his company's sales will hit $1 billion within the next few years without government handouts. This sort of success story demonstrates the latent potential of Ontario entrepreneurs.

Ours is not a province that was built on political patronage and government waste. Rather, it was built by the inspiration, the dedication and the perspiration of millions of people who realized that their labour, their capital and their intelligence were the only tools they needed for personal success.

The minister outlined the steps we will take to break the cycle of corporate welfare dependency that so often guided the spending decisions of his ministry in the past. We're equipping entrepreneurs, companies, industrial sectors and communities with the capabilities for self-reliance and success.

We're encouraging entrepreneurship in many ways. In partnership with the municipalities, the ministry operates 31 self-help offices which, up to December of this fiscal year, had handled approximately 180,000 client inquiries and about 8,000 detailed consultations.

The ministry helps build small business through publications and undertakings such as the joint federal-provincial Canada-Ontario business service centre. We also conducted a series of 390 seminars to more than 8,000 participants as of year-end, and we continue to support student ventures as a means of building entrepreneurial spirit in Ontario.

The bottom line is that the ministry is committed to the principle that any real and lasting economic renewal must come from the private sector. Any attempt by government to do what the private sector does best, which is to create jobs and generate wealth, will be a poor imitation at best.

The good news, as the minister recounted to the committee, is that this positive message is already getting out across the province and around the world.

During the Premier's recent Team Canada visit to India, Pakistan, Indonesia and Malaysia, plus his and the minister's visits to the United States, Europe and Asia, we've seen considerable support for our new mandate and our new vision of the role of government here in Ontario. The international community applauds those moves and we've already seen significant investment announcements which undoubtedly were impacted by the new attitude of this government. In fact, just yesterday the Premier participated in the ground-breaking at Honda, an expanded plant up in Alliston, which will see the creation of 1,200 new, very well-paying jobs in that town.

Even better news is that we're going to be discharging our mandate with a smaller ministry, one that's more efficient and effective and of lower cost to the public that we serve. We're already in the process of reducing the number of divisions in that ministry from seven to four.

The minister recounted in detail the four different divisions: marketing and trade, business development and tourism, strategic analysis sectors and technology division, and corporate services and agency relations. I won't bother to go into detail here, but clearly this is a move in the right direction to streamline the ministry.

The minister stated that we see our primary responsibility as getting the business climate right. Only if we get business going can we create wealth. This means removing impediments to business growth and cutting the red tape that all too often shackles free enterprise.

When our family started a retail business in 1971, we needed approval from three different levels of government to get things up and running. Now a company has to go through about nine levels of bureaucracy before it can get started. We're going to fix that. We've taken many steps; we'll be taking many more. In the meantime, though, there are already signs that this "open for business" attitude has been paying off.

A December report by Dunn and Bradstreet Canada shows businesses in Ontario are optimistic about the future. The optimism index has risen from 53 to 59, an 11.3% gain.

A couple of weeks ago the one millionth personal computer rolled off the Kanata assembly line of Digital Canada, destined in markets for Canada, the United States, Latin America and the Caribbean.

Walt Disney announced plans in December to open animation studios here and in Vancouver.

Toyota in Cambridge will begin producing a new two-door coupe in 1998, a move that will add 1,200 jobs at their plant.

Ford of Canada will be making the 1997 F-series pickup, the redesigned version of North America's best-selling vehicle, at its Oakville plant.

Viceroy Homes has started shipping to Japan by the end of this month and is projecting sales of 1,000 new homes -- to Japan, of all places.

I've already mentioned Honda's expansion. That's going to mean a $300-million investment in the Ontario economy.

Siemens has announced expansion plans for Windsor; Hoechst, Bayer and Cosella-Dorken are committed to further investments here. We already have had many major investments by the pharmaceutical industry in this province in the last few months.

All these growth indicators have occurred not as a result of corporate handouts, but because of Ontario's improved business climate. In fact, Richard Li, chairman and executive officer of the Pacific Century Group, announced a $100-million condominium development along Toronto's harbour last month. He acknowledged that his talks with Premier Harris had confirmed "that Ontario is once again a good place to invest." The project will provide 300 construction jobs over the next two years. To quote Mr Li again, "We are certainly encouraged and we hope we can do more in Ontario in the future."

But there are other signs that the business climate is on the mend after the lost decade. As you know, Ontario exports more per capita than any of the G-7 nations. We're the leading exporting province of a leading exporting nation. Exports are our lifeblood. As 1995 drew to a close, merchandise exports had risen by more than 15.5%, with growth concentrated in areas of industrial goods, machinery, equipment and automobiles.

The contracts arising from the Team Canada mission to Asia included hydro-electric facilities and the joint manufacture and marketing of pharmaceuticals. Many of these opportunities were identified and assisted by one of the crown corporations the ministry oversees, the Ontario International Trade Corp. Incidentally, the OITC, chaired by former Premier William Davis, continues to play a pivotal role in export development by working with small and mid-sized firms to overcome obstacles and expand markets. OITC's private sector board ensures the priorities are right and the standard of service is high.

For the year 1995 as a whole, employment rose by 71,000 jobs. Primary growth, I'm pleased to say, occurred in the private sector -- where it should be growing -- where employment rose by 116,000 jobs. As might be expected, considering the downsizing commitments by the provincial and federal governments, employment fell in the public sector by 45,000 jobs. This graphically demonstrates, I suspect, that we are going through a period of transition, one in which long-term sustainable jobs will be increasingly found in the private sector, not in the public. It's not an easy transition by any means. We only need reflect on the current public sector labour difficulties in Ontario to appreciate the personal and professional impact of this change.

In the Ministry of Economic Development, Trade and Tourism they're adopting a whole new approach to economic development. They're undoing the damage done over the last decade. They're committed to further significant improvement of the business climate. The growth will not occur overnight, but we're encouraged by the signs of growing confidence in Ontario by domestic and international investors.

We've listened to the business community at home and abroad and we're doing what we said we would do. We are vigorously attacking the deficit. We are reducing the size and intrusive nature of government. We are tearing down barriers to business, cutting red tape, stimulating consumer confidence and, in seven weeks, announcing the tax cut that will put a lot more money back in the pockets of consumers. The creation of jobs that will result from that will make even this 71,000 figure pale by comparison.

We're developing ways for individuals, communities and companies to achieve self-reliance. Within a day's drive of 120 million consumers, Ontario is the third-largest trading partner of the United States. Only Canada as a whole and Japan rank higher, with trade in 1993 totalling $116 billion. Ontario's GDP was about $303 billion last year, or 40% of Canada's total.

So we have to keep the big picture in mind. To local, national and international investors, we offer a stable political climate -- the events of Monday notwithstanding -- one of the best medical systems in the world and a province that is diverse, clean, safe and sophisticated. We have the brainpower and the resources to compete with the best in the world.

As Ontario's lead trade promotion agency, this ministry offers a range of programs and services, from basic export education and consulting, all the way to the development of consortia for international projects. It's involved in the marketing of SkyDome technology in Europe, airport construction in Indonesia, transportation and environmental projects in Latin America and even energy projects in China. In February, only eight months into our mandate, Ontario recorded a staggering increase of 31,000 jobs, the greatest February increase in 15 years. Since October 1995 we've gained 76,000 jobs, bringing the number of employed people in this province to its highest level since early 1990. In effect, we've undone the last five years; now we're just working on the previous five. Overall employment is projected to rise by 1.5% this year and 1.9% in 1997.


Much to the chagrin of those who would spout rhetoric instead of facing the facts, our strategy is clearly working. Our plan is to get Ontario working again by committing to real jobs in the private sector. This commitment is bearing fruit, and for those who doubt it, I challenge them to speak to the workers, the new employees of Digital, Honda, Viceroy, Toyota or Ford. They can attest to the benefits of a government that does more than hand out patronage grants and instead has a concrete, businesslike plan to get value added jobs to the province of Ontario.

In short, the overriding conclusion that I reached after participating in the estimates process is that the spending habits of our predecessors were in no way in tune with the wishes of the electorate. The voters had tired of the talk, they had grown weary of governments that acted like they were immune to the economic realities that govern the real world, and they had become sophisticated about the significance of the crushing debt load left by the last two governments.

The estimates process forces the review of last year's profligate budget announcements by the NDP, and while the passing of the estimates is a necessary part of the budget process, no one -- and I mean no one -- in this province should be deluded into thinking that I or any other member of this government approves in any way the principles and the philosophy which were the inspiration for that NDP budget.

On that note, Mr Speaker, I'd like to end. Thank you for the opportunity to make these brief comments and to encourage the members opposite that perhaps there is a greater need than political opportunism that faces them. Perhaps there's a need to participate with us, to read Hansard before you make your inappropriate comments about the behaviour this week. I'd suggest that by working together we can make sure that the business plan we've brought forward, the business plan that the voters of this province endorsed last June 8, will be successful and that we will see the creation of those 725,000 jobs, we'll see a tax cut that stimulates growth, and we'll see this province become the engine that once again pulls Canada out of the morass we find it in today.

Mr Dominic Agostino (Hamilton East): First of all, let me address the comments by the member for Scarborough East. I appreciate keeping in touch with the fine Hamilton Spectator, the comments I've made. Let me remind the member that I made it very clear, as I have from day one of the strike, that I will stand with the strikers and I will stand with the OPSEU workers, and that I would not cross a picket line unless it was with the concurrence of the OPSEU workers.

I'd like to remind the member that I did not need a police escort to get into the House. I didn't need the riot squad to break heads and bash knees to get me into the House. I didn't hide in my office the night before in order to get into the House. I walked on the picket line with the members, the members you have abused, the members you sent the riot squad after, the men and women who work for you. They're not some evil empire from another world. They are your workers.

The Deputy Speaker: I'd remind the member to address this to me.

Mr Agostino: Mr Speaker, they are the workers of this government. They are not the enemy, as this government likes to treat them. They're men and women, many who have never been on a picket line before, many who have never been through a strike before. They're not radical militants. They're men and women who are trying to make a living, pay their bills, and hang on to their jobs. If it is wrong to stand by men and women who are trying to pay their bills and hang on to their jobs, I can tell you, I'm proud to stand shoulder to shoulder with the OPSEU workers, and I'll continue to stand with them until they get the fairness and the justice that this government is denying them.

In regard to what we are talking about here today in the estimates, the concern I have is, first of all, the depth and the speed with which the cuts this government is making are taking place. They keep talking of the 10 lost years. Let me remind my friends across the floor that, not according to our documents but according to Ernie Eves's economic statement in November, the last balanced budget in the last 30 years in this province came in 1989 under a Liberal government. That was part of those 10 lost years. Ernie Eves has acknowledged that in his November statement. I would ask some of the Tory backbenchers who haven't seen that statement yet to read the statement from November and they will understand this.

What this government is doing is proceeding in a manner that will hurt Ontario. No one doubts the need for cuts. I think we all understand, whether we were going to be the government of the day or the NDP, that there would have been some difficult decisions and the cuts would have had to be made. But it is the question of the depth and the speed of the cuts and the people that these cuts are hurting that is concerning to many of us across Ontario.

The cuts that this government is making are driven by the fact that you have committed to an unrealistic, wacky tax cut that you cannot deliver and at the same time try to maintain essential services across Ontario. You're adding $5 billion to $6 billion a year to the depth of the cuts by giving a tax cut to people who are well off across this province. The biggest beneficiary of your tax cut will be the wealthy across Ontario.

You are hurting kids in order to give a tax cut to the wealthy. You've decided to cut welfare benefits. You have decided that you're going to cut welfare benefits by over 21%. Do you realize that when you cut those welfare benefits, you have also cut the benefits of 400,000 children who through no fault of their own are relying on welfare in this province? Can one of the members on the Tory side of the House explain to me what fault those kids have for the situation they're in? Explain to me why those children need and deserve to suffer as a result of a government cut of 21% in welfare benefits. Can someone explain that?

Can someone explain to the disabled in Ontario that you promised you were not going to affect? Can you explain to those disabled people that you said you were going to protect their income and that you were not going to cut their benefits? The thousands of disabled who are still on welfare that you have not moved to family benefits and who have suffered a 21% cut in their benefits: Can you explain to those people why the tax cut is a good idea? Can you explain to the senior citizens, who you have put user fees on their medication, why the tax cut is a good idea?

Tax cuts should only be considered once we've achieved a balanced budget, once we have come to grips with the deficit, but to try to do it at the same time --


Mr Agostino: I know for my friends back there the highlight of their day is to heckle because they have nothing else to do in their Tory caucus, but if they would just listen for a second and understand the fact that the tax cut will benefit only the wealthiest and that this tax cut would only make sense once you have balanced the budget. You don't seem to understand that the people you're hurting in Ontario are the most vulnerable, that the people you're hurting in Ontario are the most defenceless, that the people you're hurting in Ontario are ones who can least afford the cut that you're making to their benefits.

This government ran on something called the Common Sense Revolution. This revolution stated, "We will not cut health care spending." Do you want to tell that to the people of St Joseph's Hospital in Hamilton? Do you want to tell that to the people of St Peter's Hospital in Hamilton, that you're not going to cut their spending? Do you want to tell them that? Maybe it's just their imagination that their hospital is going to close; the 200 layoffs at the Civic, that they're imagining that. Tell them that health care spending will not be cut.

Tell the teachers and the students -- and I quote your Common Sense Revolution -- "Classroom funding for education will be guaranteed." Tell the hundreds of teachers who are going to lose their jobs across Ontario that you've kept your promise and that you've guaranteed their funding.


Let's talk about policing. "Funding for law enforcement and justice will be guaranteed." Tell that to the municipalities, when you've cut their funding by 40%. They will be forced to cut police budgets and downsize police forces. Tell that to the police officer who came forward to the Bill 26 hearings, that you've guaranteed funding for policing. Somehow, they don't believe you.

"Aid for seniors and the disabled will not be cut." Tell that to the 14,000 disabled and seniors who are still receiving welfare benefits eight months after you came to power on a promise that you would move those individuals on to the family benefits package, where they would receive an additional $400 more than they receive right now. Tell them that they're imagining this cut, that the $400 less they're getting in their cheque is not real, that it's just something they're imagining because this government said they were not going to cut those benefits.

What we have seen is a litany of broken promises. In my own community of Hamilton, which elected four government members, let me just give you an indication of the casualty list as a result of government cuts.

In the city of Hamilton, at least 58 city of Hamilton employees will be set to lose their jobs as a result of funding cuts; $1 million in new user fees as a result of government cuts; $2.89 million in transfer cuts in 1996-97. McMaster University: 750 positions to be eliminated, $18 million in cuts in 1996-97 as a result of this government. The civic hospitals: 400 Hamilton General and Henderson hospital employees have received layoff notices; $14.6 million in funding cut to the Hamilton civic hospitals.

The Hamilton board of education: $25.4 million cut. Some 228 elementary teachers and 209 secondary teachers have been given layoff notices as a result of your cut. But this, according to this government, is not going to impact classroom education. For the Hamilton separate school board, 200 layoff notices for board employees; $7.5 million in cuts. Wentworth county school board, 100 school board layoff notices; $3.8 million in cuts. In the region of Hamilton-Wentworth, 400 employees have been given layoff notices; $16 million in cuts. St Joseph's Hospital, a hospital with over 100 years of history, run by the Sisters of St Joseph in the city of Hamilton, slated for closure; $7 million in cuts. St Peter's Hospital: job loss of 200; $540,000 in cuts. Chedoke-McMaster Hospitals, $4.5 million; 400 early retirement packages. Joe Brant in Burlington, 300 job losses; $2.7 million.

This government ran on full funding for the expressway. Full funding means one thing before an election and something different after an election. The four Tory members -- I know they're embarrassed at what this government has done. I know they have a tough time going back to their constituents and saying -- because they mean well; I believe the four Tory members in the Hamilton area are men and women of integrity and will do their best for their constituents. However, the difficulty they have is they now have to go back to their electorate and say to them: "Remember we made the promise to you on the expressway? Remember when the Premier said we're going to fund the full six-lane expressway and that was going to be up to $182 million? Well, we really didn't mean it and the Premier didn't mean it, because we're only going to give you $100 million." So at least by regional estimates we're talking about a $50-million shortfall.

I am pleased today that the Minister of Transportation -- and I don't think he realized what he did -- agreed to a third-party independent review of the funding, and if the funding verifies the regional figures to be correct of $150 million, I fully expect this government to meet that commitment and I certainly expect the local government members to push this government to meet the full commitment of $150 million, because the expressway is essential to Hamilton, it's essential to the economy, and I can tell you that there will be a political price to be paid by this government if it does not come through with the full funding for the expressway.

The Premier talked about health care on May 3, 1994: "It's all in the book. It's in the plan. We say very clearly that health care spending is a priority. Not one cent will be cut from health care." Let me tell you, the commitments made during the election were bought by the people of Ontario. They believed this government was going to honour its promise not to cut health care.

The Harris government's cuts to Hamilton hospitals will devastate the delivery of health care systems and kill jobs in the region. It is a brutal betrayal of the people of Hamilton-Wentworth. It is government by meat cleaver. It is an agenda for pain without gain. There's pain for sick people, who will have to wait longer -- waiting lists for treatments. There's pain for hospital workers who are going to lose their jobs. There will be pain for ordinary Ontarians and ordinary Hamiltonians who'll have to live with a fractured health care system thrown into financial crisis due to cuts imposed by a government that is obsessed with giving a 30% tax cut to the wealthiest across this province.

Hamilton-Wentworth suffered $27 million in health care cuts as a result of the last round announced by the Health minister. This is one hell of a price to pay for tax cuts that will benefit individuals making $150,000 by $5,000 per year. It is one hell of a price to pay for people in my region and people across Ontario.

Recently, the Hamilton health task force announced its recommendations, and I want to go back to St Joseph's Hospital, because it is indicative of a government that has forced local communities to look at options that are unthinkable as a result of the depth of the cuts. St Joseph's is a vital component of a health care system that services thousands of sick and frail every day in Hamilton-Wentworth. Unfortunately, in 1996 the frail and the sick are perfect targets for the Mike Harris cuts, health care cuts you've imposed as a result of a tax cut that is going to be paid by the sick across Ontario.

If the whiz-kids and the advisers in the Premier's office would get out of their Queen's Park tower and visit real people in hospital beds across Hamilton, St Joseph's would not be recommended for closure. If we could get these individuals to read the hundreds of letters or take one of the hundreds of calls I've received in my office regarding the fear people have as a result of the recommendation to close St Joseph's, it wouldn't be slated. If you attended a function like the town hall meeting organized by the MPP for St Joseph's Hospital, Hamilton Centre, Dave Christopherson, and spoke to one of the more than 600 people who went to the meeting and spoke about the impact it would have on their lives if you closed the hospital, it wouldn't be on the chopping block. If Mike Harris truly meant what he said when he said that not one cent would be cut from health care, then St Joseph's would not be slated for closure.

It is a brutal, blatant betrayal by this government.

Hon Jim Wilson (Minister of Health): Nonsense.

Mr Agostino: The Minister of Health likes to say, "Nonsense." The minister likes to say it is nonsense. I ask the minister again to talk to the hundreds of hospital workers who are going to lose their jobs and tell them how you have not cut health care spending across Ontario.

Tell the individuals at St Joseph's Hospital that you're not going to cut their funding. Tell the hundreds of people at St Joseph's who are going to lose their jobs as a result of your decisions that you have not cut health care funding. Tell St Peter's Hospital that you're not going to cut their funding. Tell them that the $27 million that has been cut out of Hamilton has not been cut.

It is a brutal, unequivocal betrayal. This government does not understand that promises made should be promises kept. It is the most blatant betrayal, and you will learn very quickly that people in Ontario will not forgive you or forget that you have cut and devastated their health care system. Today you can sit there and laugh and say, "It's only a hospital in Hamilton," but tomorrow it may be a hospital in your riding and right across this province, anywhere across this province.


Realize that when you touch health care you're affecting the elderly, the frail people in this province who have always believed they should have full access and there should always be full access to health care across Ontario and that your ability to receive good health care should not be based on your ability to pay, and this government is moving away from that commitment.

This government is also obsessed with destroying the civil service across Ontario. This government believes that the private sector should basically run everything and the government should just get out of the way. This government believes that you help the economy by forcing tens of thousands of layoffs.

Maybe you can explain to me how we're going to benefit across Ontario when my community will lose thousands of jobs as a result of your cuts. Maybe you can tell me how this province is going to benefit when up to 27,000 civil servants will lose their jobs. You tell me how that's going to help the economic spinoff. You tell me how that is going to help people across Ontario, when 27,000 individuals will not get a paycheque at the end of the week and will not be able to pay their mortgage, pay their bills. How is that going to benefit Ontario? How is that going to benefit this province?

There's a rational way of downsizing the workforce in Ontario if that's necessary. There's a slow gradual way of doing it, but this government again doesn't understand that, because this government feels that it has to immediately implement this absurd, wacky tax cut that you made during the election. You realized the tax cut was not doable. You knew that going into the campaign, but you were going to promise that. You were going to promise because you thought it would help you get elected and that it was going to be a tax cut without pain and that no one was going to suffer. Well, I can tell you, many people across Ontario are suffering every single day as a result of your obsession with this 30% tax cut.

What I would say to this government is to abandon your tax cut proposal. What I would say to this government is to hold back and consult with people, talk to people across Ontario whom you're affecting. Yes, there are programs that maybe don't work. Yes, there are programs that maybe need to be reviewed, but you must look at programs individually and you must make individual assessments of the value of those programs and the impact of getting rid of those programs. But when you blindly cut and slash everything that moves, that process doesn't take place, that process cannot take place when you blindly cut across the board.

You're hurting people across Ontario. You're hurting average working men and women across Ontario. You're not hurting the wealthy, because if you look at the cuts -- sit back and assess the cuts that you've made and look at who is going to pay the greatest price.

Let's look at the average steelworker in my community. Let's look at the average steelworker who may get $500, $600 as a result of Mike Harris's tax cut. That average steelworker, he or she has a son or daughter at McMaster University in Hamilton next year. They will pay at least $600 more in tuition fees. If you have a son or daughter at McMaster, you will pay at least $600 more.

In Hamilton, you will pay more for recreation centres. You will pay more money to go to the skating arena. You will pay more money to get rid of your garbage at the waste disposal plant. You will pay more money for water and sewer rates. You will pay more educational dollars. You will have less health care. That is the reality and the tradeoff. I can tell you that the people I represent do not want this tax cut and have to on the other hand pay the additional costs that you're imposing upon them.

That 30% tax cut, that $500 or $600 that the average steelworker in my community will benefit as a result of your full tax cut is not worth the tens of thousands of jobs that you're going to give up. Their friends and neighbours are going to be out of work as a result of your policies.

It is not worth the closure of a Hamilton hospital. It is not worth the millions of dollars you've cut in education. It is not worth the price that many working men and women have to pay. It is not worth the price that seniors and disabled across Ontario have to pay. It is not worth the price that the senior citizen in my riding who's barely getting by now has to face, whether it's in health care cuts or the longer lineups they have to wait or whether it's the user fees that you have now put on their medication.

How's that senior citizen going to benefit from your tax cut? How's the laid-off civil servant going to benefit from your tax cut? How's the laid-off hospital worker going to benefit from your tax cut? How's the laid-off worker at Mohawk College or McMaster University in Hamilton going to benefit from the Mike Harris agenda and the Mike Harris revolution?

I can tell you that the price this province will pay as a result of the drive and the obsession this government has to give this tax cut at all cost is a price that we're going to live to regret. It's a price that is going to take us years to recover from. We have seen the experience of American states, we have seen the experience of Ronald Reagan, we have seen the impact of the trickle-down economy and how that's supposed to work, that somehow all this money is going to get reinvested and is going to create all these hundreds of thousands of jobs. We've seen those experiences become a miserable failure. We have seen the experience in New Jersey, a campaign that you copied and followed and are continuing to follow to a T, because you like Republicans, you like the way Newt Gingrich and Jesse Helms operate in the United States.

We have seen that agenda at work, but what I can ask you to do or hope that you do is bring Ontario back to the moderate province that it used to be. It is a caring and compassionate province of people who realize we have to look after each other, people who realize that government has a responsibility to take care of the neediest and the weakest and the most vulnerable. That is the province I grew up in, that is the province I learned to love and believe in, and that is the province I'm afraid we're losing.

When I see scenes such as I saw Monday where government employees are being attacked by their own government, there is something wrong with this province. When people who are outside and have a legal right to strike and are employees of this government get bashed and whacked and pushed, there is something wrong with the way we're operating this province.

This is not a Conservative government that Bill Davis would have been proud of. This is not a Conservative government that past premiers who ran under the Conservative banner would have been proud of. This is a radical government. Do you know what the sad part is? That I know that most of these backbenchers don't believe what is happening, because the agenda is not being driven by the backbenchers. The agenda is being driven by the Premier's office and a couple of his key whiz kids who are paid to advise him.

I ask the backbenchers to talk to your constituents. Talk to the senior citizens, talk to disabled individuals, talk to the people who are going to lose their jobs in your own constituencies. Don't believe what I have to say, or the other opposition members. Talk to the laid-off workers in your own riding, talk to the school boards in your riding, talk to the municipal employees in your riding and see what they have to tell you.

I urge this government to reconsider what it's doing and realize that Ontario is not willing to pay the price and the pain of a 30% tax cut.

The Deputy Speaker: Is it agreed on concurrence in supply for the Ministry of Education and Training, including supplementaries? Agreed.

Is it agreed for concurrences in supply for the Ministry of Community and Social Services?

All those in favour, say "aye."

All those opposed, say "nay."

In my opinion, the ayes have it.

These estimates are concurred in.

Is it agreed for concurrences in supply for the Ministry of Housing?

All those in favour, say "aye."

All those opposed, say "nay."

In my opinion, the ayes have it.

These estimates are concurred in.

Is it agreed for concurrences in supply for the Ministry of Transportation, including supplementaries?

All those in favour, say "aye."

All those opposed, say "nay."

In my opinion, the ayes have it.

These estimates are concurred in.

Is it agreed for concurrence in supply for the Ministry of Health, including supplementaries?

All those in favour, say "aye."

All those opposed, say "nay."

In my opinion, the ayes have it.

These estimates are concurred in.

Is it agreed for concurrence in supply for the Ministry of Economic Development and Trade? Agreed.



Mr Tilson moved, on behalf of Mr Harnick, third reading of the following bill:

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

Mr David Tilson (Dufferin-Peel): It gives me great pleasure, on behalf of the Attorney General, to begin the debate on third reading of Bill 19, the Advocacy, Consent and Substitute Decisions Statute Law Amendment Act. This bill has just gone through considerable hearings with respect to the standing committee on administration of justice, basically the last four weeks, of which three were with respect to hearing delegations from around this province and here in Toronto, and one week on clause-by-clause.

This topic of substitute decision and advocacy legislation and consent to treatment, in my view, has been dealt with by this House, through two sets of government, more than any other piece of legislation that I've seen, certainly. The Advocacy Act, the Consent to Treatment Act and the Substitute Decisions Act went through months and months of public hearings in 1992. In fact, we went through two sets of hearings. Hundreds of people and groups made submissions and hundreds more wrote the government of the day.

The development of Bill 19, the bill that's before the House on third reading, followed almost three years of the public and service providers telling us what they thought of these pieces of legislation. Proclamation of these laws by the former NDP government uncovered more practical difficulties for the public.

Every member of this Legislature, certainly those here through re-election, has had letters and telephone calls from citizens who felt that the requirements and legal complexities of the current law are unwarranted. Many of us held hearings in our own ridings and listened to the people on what they felt about these specific pieces of legislation. During the development of Bill 19, we also knew very clearly what the positions of the various interest groups were, and they were consulted regularly and extensively while plans for implementing the original acts were being developed.

It does give me great pleasure to start off the debate with respect to this piece of legislation. This law, we believe, will reduce government intervention in the private affairs of Ontarians and restore decision-making to the hands of individuals and their families. We believe that in the former legislation there was too much government interference and that what was needed from the consultations we had was more decision-making to be made by the members of the families of the people of this province.

This new bill will repeal the Advocacy Act, will eliminate the Advocacy Commission, reduce government intrusion in private lives and save $18 million per year. This repeal will further alleviate much confusion in the health care profession. It will replace the Consent to Treatment Act with the Health Care Consent Act, eliminating bureaucratic red tape and complicated rules that can delay treatment for mentally incapable people.

I will restrict my comments to the substitute decisions part of the bill, the power of attorney, as it were. Other members of the government side will speak on the repeal of the advocacy legislation and the introduction of the Health Care Consent Act.

The bill amends the Substitute Decisions Act to simplify the rules for substitute decision-making for mentally incapable people. Other members of our caucus will be speaking to the other parts of the bill.

Perhaps I might start off by indicating why we are amending the Substitute Decisions Act. We believe that the law prior to the Substitute Decisions Act was filled with gaps and inconsistencies. For example, there was no way for families to get legal authority to make financial decisions for their mentally incapable loved ones who had not made powers of attorney. In those situations, families would always have to go to court.

Currently, there are procedures that exist in the Substitute Decisions Act that allow people who are affected to challenge or appeal the appointment of a guardian. At present, before this act takes place, the legislation requires that information about legal rights be given in a personal visit from an independent advocate acting on behalf of the Advocacy Commission. It was this one act, I can say from my personal experience, that received more criticism; that when individuals took the time to appoint an attorney, an advocate could come and overrule the wishes and interfere in the wishes of an attorney who had been appointed by an incapable person at a time they were capable. That intrusion, we found, from talking to group after group and individual after individual around this province, was simply unacceptable.

We believe the current act goes too far and creates overly complicated rules and procedures that confused many people. In some cases, government could interfere in people's private affairs even when they had made powers of attorney. In the past two years, thousands of Ontarians have expressed concern about the complexity of the rules and the potential for government interference into people's private lives. Our government has listened to these concerns and we have made changes to simplify the rules.

With respect to the Substitute Decisions Act amendments, we believe that the changes to the Substitute Decisions Act will reduce barriers to family members and friends who look after incapable loved ones. We believe those are the people who should be taking care of our loved ones who are incapable, not the province of Ontario or not some government agency. We believe we should look after our own.

The amendments, we believe, will simplify and streamline procedures. The amendments reflect this government's belief that most caregivers, service providers and family members have the best interests of the mentally incapable people they care for at heart. These changes are about providing rules that will work for everyone, whose situations are all unique. That's another issue we look at. Everyone is different, everyone has different problems and everyone's different problems can be solved by each individual's families. The rules under the amendments will be less rigid and will allow greater flexibility for dealing with situations in humane ways.

Turning to the powers of attorney, I know that after the former government introduced this piece of legislation, hundreds and hundreds of people around this province signed powers of attorney and many have expressed a concern to all of us on all sides of the House whether these powers of attorney will still be valid. The answer is yes, that existing powers of attorney will not be invalidated by these amendments. No one who has already made a valid power of attorney will need to make a new one as a result of the amendments.

Statutory guardianship: Relatives of mentally incapable people will be able to become statutory guardians more easily. Previously, only immediate family, such as a spouse, sibling or child, could apply to be a statutory guardian. Under the new law, any relative will be able to apply. For example, many elderly people do not have any immediate family, but may, however, have an extension to the family, whether it be a daughter-in-law or a son-in-law or a nephew, who will be able to become involved in making decisions for them.

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

The House adjourned at 1800.