36th Parliament, 1st Session

L046 - Mon 25 Mar 1996 / Lun 25 Mar 1996



















































The House met at 1330.




Mr Dwight Duncan (Windsor-Walkerville): This past weekend a very talented young woman from Windsor, Ontario, represented Canada at the international skating competition in Edmonton. Her name is Jennifer Robinson.

Jennifer made an outstanding contribution on behalf of her city and her province and her country, and all of us who share Windsor as a home town were especially proud. Young people like Jennifer are an excellent example to all young Canadians, and indeed all Canadians, that with willpower, perseverance and courage we too can become the very best at what we set our minds to do.

Jennifer Robinson inspired each and every one of us and continues to inspire each and every one of us, and I'm sure all members of the House join me today in congratulating Jennifer and thanking her for representing not only her city, but her province and her country on the international stage. She is a talented young woman with a bright future in her sport and is a great example of young people in this province and in this country and what they can achieve.

All of us in this House, and especially those of us from Windsor who have watched her career with great pride, salute her today: Jennifer Robinson, the Canadian champion in women's figure skating.


Mr Peter Kormos (Welland-Thorold): The Minister of Correctional Services knows, or he darned well ought to know by now, that over the course of this past weekend, especially on Friday night down at the Niagara Detention Centre, approximately a dozen of the correctional officers who had been working as essential workers felt compelled not to work their shift because of serious and legitimate health and safety concerns.

The Minister of Correctional Services knows as well that there has, over the past, been an increasingly hostile and poisoned environment being generated at the Niagara Detention Centre because of the abusive nature of management towards correctional officers. Indeed, this came to a peak in the first part of this month when a correctional officer was assaulted by a manager. Things are in a crisis situation there. The management is generating hostility among the inmates against the correctional officers, further jeopardizing those officers who, as essential workers, are attempting to maintain some peace and order in the detention centre environment.

It is imperative that the Minister of Correctional Services investigate this matter immediately. Management at the Niagara Detention Centre has clearly gotten out of hand. Management at the Niagara Detention Centre is clearly abusing its position. There are issues that have to be resolved, and I tell you, all hell is going to break loose if the Minister of Correctional Services doesn't attend to this promptly.


Mr Toni Skarica (Wentworth North): I rise today to inform my colleagues and the people of Ontario that we are in the midst of the silver anniversary of Learning Disabilities Month. Since 1971, learning disabilities have been recognized in the month of March.

A learning disability is a dysfunction of the central nervous system in an individual of potentially average to above average intelligence. A learning disability is a problem in processing information and is not related to an individual's intelligence. Learning disabilities are manifested in delays in the development of or difficulties in attention, memory, spelling, coordination, social competence or communication.

This invisible handicap affects almost 800,000 Ontarians. One of them is my own son, David, who was diagnosed with a learning disability many years ago but recently graduated from high school with excellent marks.

I would like to take this opportunity to commend the efforts of the Learning Disabilities Association, which for the past quarter century has been raising awareness of this disability. I am sure that through their hard work, and with the cooperation of government, people affected by this disability will live easier and happier lives.


Mr Bruce Crozier (Essex South): Referring to the rising temperatures around and on the OPSEU picket lines, Mike Harris has requested that people begin to act like adults in order that cooler heads may prevail. Harris should take his own advice or, at the very least, pass it on to some of the members of his caucus.

For his part, Harris has shown time and again that he will not pass up an opportunity to use abusive, belligerent and inflammatory language during the strike in order to score cheap political points. He has used hyperbole to suggest that the unions must not be allowed to hold the government hostage. He has referred to the actions of OPSEU during this strike as "bullying" and "dictating" and has said that he is prepared to choose picket line violence over having union leaders run the province. He's even described the right of OPSEU workers to strike as "forbidden candy."

The cavalier attitude that Harris has taken with respect to the strike and the OPSEU workers out on the picket line has shown that he is the one who needs to start acting like an adult and realize the seriousness of the situation. Instead, he's encouraging his caucus members to incite the line.

Just last week, Transportation minister Al Palladini showed that he is taking cues from the Premier when he used an opportunity in the House to criticize the action of OPSEU workers and attempt to blame them entirely for the poor winter road conditions during the strike.

It's time that Harris and his caucus started leading by example and began to cool down their own inflammatory rhetoric so that we can begin restoring some semblance of peace --

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


Mr David Christopherson (Hamilton Centre): I'm pleased to rise today to speak to the issue of the St Joseph's Hospital proposed closure in my riding and to point out the fact that one of the reasons the report is coming under fire in Hamilton is because of the shortened time frame that this government imposed on the task force. While they may not have made it an absolute rule that they had to, they made it very clear that they wanted the work that should have taken two years to be done in one year.

We believe that rush is in large part why we have a report that in many ways is not as accurate and as in-depth and does not take into account the sort of factors that it should, in addition to the fact that it's this government that has broken its promise on health care. This is the government that said, "Not one cent from health care," and has announced cuts from the $17.4 billion, breaking their election promise.


The Friends of St Joseph's continue to mount as much pressure as we can. This article was in the Hamilton Spectator on the weekend. We had a meeting at Hamilton city hall with over 600 people recently. My colleague the member for Hamilton East, Dominic Agostino, was on his feet the other day raising this issue. The Tory backbencher the member for Wentworth North, Mr Toni Skarica, has sent a public letter indicating his support to keep St Joseph's open. I urge my other Tory colleagues to join with us in saving St Joseph's. Don't hide in the bushes. Come forward. Now is the time we all need to be there for our city.

The Speaker (Hon Allan K. McLean): The member's time has expired. Further statements? The member for Wentworth East.

Mr Ed Doyle (Wentworth East): Yes, sir, I've already come forward on that issue.


Mr Ed Doyle (Wentworth East): Lately there's been a tremendous amount of publicity surrounding the Red Hill Creek Expressway. Some parties have suggested that we have wavered in our commitment to this project. I welcome this opportunity to state unequivocally that our government has stood by this promise and shall continue to do so.

In a time when dollars are tight and where we are looking to spend the taxpayers' money in a smarter fashion, a firm $100-million commitment has been made. This pledge exists because the Premier, the Minister of Transportation and the rest of our caucus understand the economic importance of this issue to the people of Hamilton-Wentworth. This expressway will mean opportunity and growth to the region.

While there may be variations in the cost of different components of the road, one thing remains: The era of writing blank cheques has gone. Innovative ways of building must be sought out and indeed they are being examined.

I am confident that we are in a position to learn from other highway experiences, including Highway 407, and in the end find that we are in the good ground-breaking territory of creative and resourceful construction. Yet let me leave no doubts: The taxpayer will not pay twice. This means no tolls.

While going door to door during the campaign, I talked of our commitment towards the Red Hill Creek Expressway. In keeping with our promises, we will live up to this pledge and anyone with a message otherwise is forgetting that we have not wavered from our stand on this issue.


Mr John Gerretsen (Kingston and The Islands): As tonight is Oscar night, it's once again time for us to recognize the best and the worst Queen's Park has to offer.

The Oscar for best performance by a golfer goes to Mike Harris for his continued portrayal of Ronald Reagan in The American President.

Former actor Dave Tsubouchi has finally earned an Oscar for his unforgettable performance in Mighty Tuna-Bity.

The Oscar for this year's most draconian piece of legislation goes to Mr Harris's Omnibus.

Despite a strong performance by Chris Stockwell, this year's Oscar for best performance in a non-supporting role goes to Morley Kells. Don't worry, Chris. I know you'll be winning it hands down next year.

Mr Speaker, your behind-the-scenes direction of The Casinos of Simcoe County has earned you not just an Oscar but a casino to boot.

Conservative stuntman Bill King, who gives new meaning to the words "beating the bushes," has also earned an Oscar. Nobody dives into character like Bill does.

Jim Wilson, who is never out of character, has the Oscar for his impersonation of Nixon.

Last but not least, the Newt Gingrich-Jesse Helms lifetime memorial achievement award goes to the entire Conservative caucus for their performance in Nonsense and Insensitivity.


Mr Gilles Bisson (Cochrane South): This morning I had an opportunity to meet with students and staff of the Toronto School of Business in Timmins, and in that particular discussion we had with the students and staff there all of them agreed, as I think we all do in the assembly here, that the government has to work towards trying to find a way to balance a budget over a period of time. But at the same time they all agreed on one thing: They either said this government is moving far too fast and far too rigorously in trying to achieve that goal, or in some cases that they're moving in the wrong direction.

They see the government's direction as being overbearing as they see it as really being a confrontational agenda, one by which nobody really wins in the end, and they worry as students of business what it means to say to the business sector and what it means to say to the recovery of our economy when you have a government that's intent on hitting people over the head and trying to find confrontational ways to be able to achieve their aims.

They suggest there's a different approach. They can learn by the examples of what has happened in the private sector already. They can look at Kimberly-Clark, Algoma Steel and de Havilland Aircraft as good examples about how you can restructure so that there is a win-win in the end.

I spoke to a student this morning in fact who was at the Toronto School of Business. He was there because his employer, in doing the restructuring of the layoff, offered him an enhanced incentive to be able to leave the workplace, to return to school and to have enhanced severance. It was, I think, a positive means.

There are win-win examples out there we can learn from if the government decides to sit down and to follow the examples of others. They're not the first employer in Ontario to restructure. They should learn by what other people have done and try to come into the 21st century and be a bit more progressive in how they deal with their employees.


Mr Ron Johnson (Brantford): This past Friday, March 22, was a banner day for health care in Brantford, for a number of reasons. One of those reasons was the opening of Brantford's very first community cancer clinic. I'm very proud to stand here today and congratulate the Brantford General Hospital, its foundation, and of course the Brantford district health council for that achievement.

Although there was an approval process to go through with our government, this was an initiative that was identified as a priority by the hospital's board of governors and administration. It took nearly a decade to achieve, but they raised their own money, and did it in the face of some very difficult economic times in the province of Ontario.

This is exactly what our government means by "doing more with less," and it's exactly the type of initiative and determination that we encourage and applaud. They set an example for the rest of the province to follow.

Another of the reasons that it was a great day for Brantford's health care was that the hospital also launched the world's first multipurpose MAX, a state-of-the-art, high-tech X-ray machine developed in partnership with Toshiba's laboratories in Japan. The Brantford General Hospital is to be congratulated for both achievements.

I would also like to thank Health minister Jim Wilson for making the time to come down to Brantford to officially preside over both those events, as well as some of my other colleagues, David Tilson, the member for Dufferin-Peel, Ed Doyle, the member for Wentworth East, and Toni Skarica, the member for Wentworth North.


The Speaker (Hon Allan K. McLean): I would like to take the opportunity to introduce the pages joining us:

Sandy Adam, Cochrane South; Karl Baldauf, Lincoln; Katrina Bond, Niagara South; Tamara Chalmers, Prescott and Russell; Lindsay Chancey, Etobicoke West; Melissa Dobson, Brantford; Peter Doelman, Elgin; Jan-François Grabowiecki, Ottawa South; J. David Hagedorn, Bruce; David Hamilton, Sudbury; Stephenie Harrison, Scarborough-Ellesmere; Sarah Hofstetter, Oxford; Kate Hutchison, London Centre; Adam Jakop, York South; Michael Kirton, Eglinton; Sheena Kivisto, Port Arthur; Craig Lariviere, Cambridge; Kelly McIntosh, Essex South; Nathaniel Miles, Wentworth East; Sarah Minchom, Simcoe West; Kristin O'Rourke, York Mills; Nathan Sutanto, Scarborough North; Ian Verheyden, Nepean; Justin Yan, Durham Centre. Welcome to our pages.


Mrs Elinor Caplan (Oriole): On a point of order, Mr Speaker: I'm asking you to address this point of order, as you were not in the chair last Thursday when the event occurred. During the very day when we were celebrating the elimination of racism, an event occurred in this House which I think should be addressed by the Speaker, and it should be addressed quickly, to send out a message about appropriate conduct in this House.

We know there is a list of parliamentary language and we also know it is the responsibility of the Speaker to address issues that members feel very strongly about. During the debate, the member for Durham East and the member for Brant-Haldimand did something that I believe is not only conduct unbecoming a member of this House, but particularly on that day, when we were dealing with the elimination of racism and the creation of a more tolerant society and all of our speeches were responding to that. When I reviewed the Hansard, I have to tell you, and I share this on behalf of those who saw on parliamentary television what occurred, the totally unacceptable behaviour of two members as they did two things: one was to deliberately mispronounce a member's name; and second, to make the unacceptable suggestion that a member change his name.


I come from a community, and I have personal family experience, where an aunt of mine was forced to change her name in order to be able to get a job in this province. Many members of my community were forced to change their names to more anglicized versions in order to be able to be accepted in our society.

In 1996, to have a suggestion from a member of the Conservative caucus that members in this House whose names we should know and if we don't know we should make a point of learning how to pronounce, to suggest that that member change his name, I believe, diminishes us all. That suggestion was brought about because one of the members of this House made fun of and deliberately distorted the name in a very, I think, nasty kind of way.

I would ask you, Mr Speaker, to check the Hansard, page 1,817, to call the members to order and to deal with this serious issue of parliamentary protocol. I feel very, very strongly that if we are to promote a tolerant society it must begin here in this House and that as members of the Legislature we must stand firm and strong and clear that name-calling and suggestions that someone change their name in order to be accepted are unacceptable. I ask you to rule on that and to set a standard in this House so that all members of this House will know what is acceptable conduct and what is unacceptable parliamentary conduct.

Mr David S. Cooke (Windsor-Riverside): Mr Speaker, if I might speak to the point of privilege or order --

The Speaker (Hon Allan K. McLean): Order. On a point of order or personal privilege, the member for Brant-Haldimand.

Mr Peter L. Preston (Brant-Haldimand): I've written this out so that it comes out exactly as what happened. I would like to clear up the events of last Thursday afternoon in this Legislature, events completely blown out of proportion and importance by the media. My statement to the member for Fort York was made in jest, prompted by my recollections of a standing joke I have with my constituency assistant, whose name is Sevenhuysen. When questioned by callers on how to spell or pronounce her name, she says, "Call me Smith."

My friend opposite had just ended a heated exchange and obviously was in no mood to be joked with. He retorted by calling me a subhuman racist. When we left the House that day, I spoke with the member opposite and commented that he may have been a little thin-skinned, to which he agreed and said, "I apologize for what I said."

I apologized on Thursday. However, because of the brouhaha surrounding this matter, I'd like to explain myself. As far as the subhuman element of criticism, I'll let people make up their own minds, but racist? In the past 15 years I've had upwards of 10 first nation teenaged boys as foster children. My eldest adopted son is French Canadian and Pennsylvania Dutch. My second adopted son is Hungarian. My third adopted son is black. My wife is black. As far as an ethnicist, I am not; as far as a racist, I'm a minority in my own home.

I think this has all been blown out of proportion. The two of us have apologized to each other, me to him in the House and he to I going out the door as friends.

The Speaker: I must say that last week I had heard some of it when I wasn't in the chair. I would advise members that if they would refer to one another by their ridings or their constituencies and not by their names, it would solve a lot of the problems we've had.

Mr John O'Toole (Durham East): I rise on a note of personal observation here, personal privilege. The member for Oriole suggested in her remarks that I deliberately mispronounced the member's name, which is totally false. If she had been here, she would have understood. I want to correct the record that I did not deliberately mispronounce the member's name, and I am sure if I was to make a full comment, in fact there were no Liberals in the House at the time.

Mr Cooke: Mr Speaker, if I might, I would like to join with the member for Oriole to make a few comments about the incidents last week. I thought that perhaps it wouldn't be necessary after listening to the two members, but I think the two members have reinforced that this needs to be addressed by the Speaker very clearly.

Whatever the motivation was of the two members -- and I'm not going to try to guess what they were thinking at the time; I don't know that anybody in this province could guess what the two members were thinking at the time -- I do think that we have had over the time that I've been a member incidents like this in the past. They've been very unhelpful and they've demonstrated clearly the lack of sensitivity of some members.

Whether the Conservative members who are involved in this like it or not, Ontario has changed in the last half-century, and this place has changed. The only way that the Legislature will operate in a mature way is if members show some sensitivity and some respect for other members in the Legislature. At the very least, the comments that were made by the two members in the House last week demonstrated gross insensitivity and a lack of respect for a member of the assembly.

Mr Speaker, I think that in addition to the comments that have been made on the record today, it would be appropriate for the members, instead of questioning everybody else's motivations --


Mr Cooke: Mr Speaker, you can see by the interjections that there is a serious problem in this place.

I hope that the government House leader and the minister responsible, the Minister of Citizenship, who was quoted in the papers on the weekend as saying, "Maybe we should just, if this isn't raised in the House, let sleeping dogs lie" -- that's not how these matters are resolved. The only way these matters are resolved is through the leadership, of course, of the Speaker, rules that we have in this place and leadership from the government. The Premier and the minister must have discussions with their caucus members so this doesn't happen again. I hope that the minister or the government House leader will go on the record now in condemning the comments that were made in this assembly last Thursday.

Hon Ernie L. Eves (Deputy Premier, Minister of Finance and Government House Leader): Mr Speaker, on the same point: Through you, to the members of the Legislative Assembly, I think the member for Brant-Haldimand issued an apology on Thursday and he's again reiterated that apology today. That would demonstrate to me that indeed he is sincere and sensitive about this issue. I understand the concerns that have been expressed by other members previous to me speaking on this particular point of order. I think that the member for Brant-Haldimand's life experiences speak for themselves. I think that he does understand, if he didn't before, that these issues are extremely sensitive to the individuals concerned and I think that we should go on with the business of the House keeping that in mind.

The Speaker: Ministers' statements?

Mr Gilles Bisson (Cochrane South): Same point of order?

The Speaker: On a new point of order? If it's on the same point, I'm not going to accept it. We have heard enough with regard to the points that have been raised by each party. We have heard the points from the House leader. We have heard the apologies. As far as I'm concerned, no more points on that issue.


M. Bisson : Point de privilège.

The Speaker: New point of order?

M. Bisson : J'aimerais seulement, pour le record, démontrer que moi aussi, comme M. Marchese, j'ai été insulté par des membres du gouvernement en changeant mon nom, pas seulement au comité mais aussi à l'Assemblée juste la semaine passée.


The Speaker: Order. Would the member take his seat, please. I have ruled on the point of order that has been raised by different members.


The Speaker: Yes, I understood what he said, and there are no more points of order on that subject. The member for Parkdale.

Mr Tony Ruprecht (Parkdale): I would just ask if you would kindly reconsider because of the importance of this issue. Is that possible?

M. Bisson: Monsieur le Président, j'ai fait un point d'ordre puis j'ai demandé que l'Assemblée m'écoute. Vous avez donné une décision de ne pas écouter ce que j'ai dit comme membre comme si vous n'avez même pas compris ce que j'essayais de dire.

J'ai dit avec toute sincérité qu'ici à l'Assemblée la semaine passée, et aussi dans les comités dans les dernières semaines, moi comme député francophone, franco-ontarien, je me suis fait appeler des noms par des membres conservateurs, pas mon nom donné, Bisson, mais un nom donné comme «Buffalo».

Comme membre, je veux dire ici aujourd'hui à l'Assemblée que vous avez, en tant que Président, la responsabilité d'assurer que les membres de cette Assemblée comprennent qu'il y a un respect qu'on doit se démontrer, mais aussi que les membres ont besoin de reconnaître qu'ici, on est supposé de montrer par exemple. On est des chefs de nos communautés et se démontrer comme ayant un manque de respect comme l'on a vu dans cette Assemblée jeudi de la semaine passée, avec mon collègue, et le manque de respect que j'ai eu moi-même comme député, n'est pas acceptable.

Je vous demande de donner de la manière la plus claire possible des directives aux membres de l'Assemblée de reconnaître que l'on n'est pas tous anglophones ici ; on est des Italiens, on est des francophones, on est des Polonais, du monde de différentes ethnies. On veut avoir le respect auquel on a droit comme législateurs ici à l'Assemblée.



Hon Jim Wilson (Minister of Health): I'm pleased to rise today to make the fourth in a series of important announcements about this government's reinvestment in kidney dialysis services. An additional four communities in the central-west region of the province -- Brantford, Stoney Creek, Oakville and Orangeville -- will be receiving an expansion of kidney dialysis services. This announcement translates into an additional 96 patients being able to access treatment closer to home.

This government is again demonstrating, with concrete action, our intention to find savings in the sealed health care envelope and to reinvest those savings into front-line services for patients.

Dialysis is a mechanical cleansing of the blood required by people with kidney failure who have not had a kidney transplant. Access to this life-giving treatment is being significantly improved in these communities for people who need it. We are committed to meeting the growing demand for dialysis and to making sure patients receive treatment as close to home as possible.

Almost 4,000 patients receive dialysis in Ontario. The number has been increasing by between 8% and 10% each year. Most recent information indicates this increase could jump to 15% in 1996. This government has acted to meet this growth by reinvesting $25 million into dialysis services.

Dialysis is but one of the announcements our government has made about reinvestments into front-line health care services. Other investments include cardiac surgery; measles immunizations for school-aged children; services for Ontario residents with acquired brain injuries; expanded emergency health services such as paramedic services, defibrillation and symptom relief medications; enhanced paramedic training; new MRI machines for the province; and emergency room coverage for underserviced areas through our $70-an-hour on-call emergency sessional fee for physicians in this province.

These are but a few of the meaningful improvements this government has already made to the health care system. Many more are to come. This government will continue to identify the savings in the health care envelope first, and then move quickly to reinvest these dollars back into the system.

This is the ironclad promise we made in the Common Sense Revolution: to maintain the $17.4-billion health care budget while meeting the priority needs of the people of this province.

Mrs Elinor Caplan (Oriole): We greet the minister's statement today, which, as he says, is the fourth in a series of dialysis announcements, as something the people of the province had expected to have before the end of 1995.

The reason they had that expectation was because that's what the minister promised he would do. The proposal call went out in August. The end of the process was the end of September, and the minister promised communities across this province that the funds would flow, the decisions would be made and people would have greater access to dialysis services before the end of 1995.

We know there are communities that still haven't heard. My colleague Mr Cleary, the member for Cornwall, just last week sent a message to the minister that the people of Cornwall and the people in the Ottawa area have been waiting to hear what the minister is going to do to expand dialysis services in their community. A letter Mr Cleary received from dialysis patients and their families says, "My mother and others from Cornwall travel the rough roads three times a week in snowstorms, rain or shine," and these people have no choice, because they do not have dialysis services in their community.

I say to the minister, where are these dialysis services that he promised across this province? I believe it is cruel that people across the province have to wait while he doles out these announcements. He says he is reinvesting. Well, I'll tell you something: He has cut $1.3 billion from hospital services across this province. In Windsor alone, we know that full-time dialysis nurses are being laid off, and people are very concerned about what's going to be happening to those services. We've heard that there are some part-time casual people being hired to fill in, but what people are telling us is that the state of dialysis services is very serious. I have a communication from the chief of dialysis services, the director of haemodialysis, at the Ottawa Civic Hospital, and he said: "An answer to whether they would allow us to go ahead with the new units was to come from the ministry at the end of December. We were then told mid-February, then mid-March. We still have not heard anything." This is from Dr Posen.

I say to the minster that political announcements are inappropriate when it comes to health services. Stand and make your announcement so that people across this province will know what they are going to receive and when they are going to receive it. Stop the cuts. Stop the cuts in services and look very, very carefully at making sure that everyone in this province has access to the services they need.

This is no laughing matter, Minister. There are communities across this province that believed you when you said they would have those announcements. Make those announcements today.

Mr Dominic Agostino (Hamilton East): To add to what my colleague has said, I find it amazing that this government chose to make all the cuts, $1.3 billion in one shot, back at the end of last year but, however, is now going to politically and conveniently hold out on making announcements to try to minimize the negative impact of hospital closures, of cutbacks.

In my own community, $24 million has been announced in cuts from this government to local hospitals. I can tell you that this government has not made $24 million in announcements in reinvesting that money in the community of Hamilton-Wentworth. The St Joseph's Hospital situation that we're facing today, which my colleague from Hamilton Centre spoke of earlier, is a classic example of the impact of health care cuts in Ontario: the hundreds of jobs that are going to be lost, the delay for surgery, the lineups that will occur as a result of these cuts.

What I ask this minister to do is come forward and make all your announcements at one shot. If you're going to stand by your philosophy that not one cent will be cut and that the same amount that has been taken out will be returned, then let us go community by community and make your $24-million announcement and reassure the people of Hamilton-Wentworth that the $24 million you've taken out of health care you're going to put back in.

But as long as this government continues to play with people's lives and continues to put the lives of people in jeopardy and continues to tell hospital workers, "We're not sure where your job stands" and will conveniently make announcements from time to time -- I think you're putting health care in Ontario in jeopardy; you're putting the health care system in jeopardy. Come clean. Tell the people of Ontario what you plan to do for the next 12 months and tell us where this is going from here. Stop playing politics with this very important issue.


Mr Floyd Laughren (Nickel Belt): I'm pleased, for the fourth time, to congratulate the Minister of Health on the expansion of kidney dialysis services in the province -- the fourth time for the same envelope of money, I must say. But we do welcome the expansion of this important service that was begun, I believe, by the Liberals when they were in office. That's why I found it a little breathtaking that the member for Oriole would say that there's no room for political statements on the expansion of health care services. But I seem to recall her having made a few in her day as well.

However, I must say that we do welcome this expansion of dialysis services. We certainly, as a government, expanded the dialysis services as well, and of course there's more to do. We all understand that.

I believe that while people will applaud this particular announcement, what is still causing a great deal of nervousness across the province, certainly in our caucus and in our party, is the fact that the cuts to health care that have been announced are so substantial -- $2 billion over three years and about $1.3 billion in the hospital sector alone of the health care system. So there's still a great deal to be done.

I must say that when the minister announced that the $17.4 billion is a sealed envelope -- which means, of course, that it will not dip below $17.4 billion this year, next year, the year after; the Premier has even indicated that it may rise above that -- a lot of us were somewhat cynical about the fact that it was sealed at $17.4 billion, but we were nervous that it might drop in the intervening years. But the minister is making it increasingly clear that he intends to keep that $17.4 billion at least every year during their first mandate -- you notice I didn't say first and last -- as a government. So we assume that will be the case.

I must say we will be watching very carefully to make sure that the Health budget is not bumped up by moving certain sections of the Ministry of Community and Social Services or Education or any other ministry over to the Ministry of Health. We shall be watching very carefully that the minister does not attempt to do that in order to pretend that health care services are indeed a sealed envelope of $17.4 billion.

Having said that, we welcome this expansion of the dialysis treatment across the province and we look forward to his next announcement. I hope that I'll be able to rise in my place and congratulate the minister once again on that same package.

Mr David Christopherson (Hamilton Centre): I want to join with my colleague and acknowledge how much we appreciate the new investment in this area, but we need to point out the fact that the health policy of this government, in terms of its spending allocations, has sent quite a shock wave through a lot of communities like my own. We talk about St Joseph's Hospital closing; in large part, we think that's as a result of the $1.3 billion you've announced in hospital cuts.

A lot of people voted for this government believing them when they said, "Not one cent from health care," yet they announced $2 billion in cuts over three years, and they're trying to put forward the argument, "As long as we're back at $17.4 billion at the end of our term, we met our commitment." That is not the case. It's not accurate, and while you may think it's political fancy footwork, it's doing an awful lot of damage in communities like mine, where people are really concerned about St Joseph's Hospital, about the planning around how we deal with the new rationalized system, because you forced the local task force to shrink its time frame from two years to one year.

That's left us with a plan, quite frankly, that doesn't meet our community needs, yet this minister stands up, knowing that he has a good-news announcement -- and as a standalone item it is, but if he believes for one minute that's going to fool the people of Ontario into believing that you've kept your promise on health care, he's going to be sadly mistaken.

My colleague from Nickel Belt has talked about the fact that any shifting from other ministries of money into the Health budget is not going to work either. The fact of the matter is, Minister, you ran on a platform that said no cuts to health care, not one cent. You're breaking that promise every day and this little charade is not going to cover that off. People won't be fooled.



Mr Monte Kwinter (Wilson Heights): I have a question for the Premier. Mr Premier, just before the minister's statement, there was an exchange that took place in this House on points of order and points of personal privilege and it all had to do with events that took place in the House on Thursday between the member for Durham East, the member for Brant-Haldimand and the member for Fort York.

Mr Premier, the issues have been discussed, the apologies have been made, but I think there's a basic principle that has not been addressed, one that I think falls squarely on your shoulders. One of them is the comment that was made by the member for Brant-Haldimand that what he said was meant in fun, as if to ridicule someone because of their ethnicity, their religion, their culture is funny. The second statement was made by yourself, and I want to quote: "I think it was bad timing on everybody's part."

Mr Premier, could you tell me when it is going to be good timing for members to say the things that they did?

Hon Michael D. Harris (Premier): Never.

Mr Kwinter: Mr Premier, that was a very succinct answer that it is never appropriate, and I think that it's got to be conveyed to your members that they have to have this sensitivity. If this were something that happened in the heat of exchange, in the heat of debate, it would be regrettable and the apologies would be made. There may be some hard feelings, but hopefully people would see the error of their ways and correct it. But I should tell you that this isn't the first time it's happened and it isn't the first time that it's happened with the member for Durham East.

At a meeting on February 5, 1996, of the standing committee on the Legislative Assembly, members of our caucus were there and they heard the member for Durham East mock the accent of the member for Lake Nipigon by responding in an affected French accent. In another committee meeting he said that if the native peoples who were camped out in front of Queen's Park were in Ottawa, they would be made to pack up their teepees and go home.

Again, this shows a lack of sensitivity, a lack of compassion for people who have problems, who are finding it difficult to adjust and who want to express their concerns.

Mr Premier, again I ask you, as the leader of your party and as the political head of this province, do you not think that you have to make a special effort to make sure that the members of your caucus are cognizant of these differences and must in fact not only be tolerant but make sure that everybody in this province feels that they are part of it?

Hon Mr Harris: Yes. We accept our responsibility to not respond in kind, to set a higher standard, even than members of the opposition, and we will attempt to do that.

Mr Kwinter: I know that this is a difficult situation and I know that the Premier isn't very comfortable dealing with it, but we are dealing with the facts of life, we are dealing with a province whose composition has changed dramatically over the years and there is a great feeling of alienation by people who feel that somehow or other they are on the outside looking in and those who are on the inside are doing everything they can to keep them there.

I think it's imperative and I would again plead with you to let your ministers and your caucus know that they have to make sure in all of their dealings with the people that they convey to them that this is a province for all of the people, that opportunities are there for everyone, and regardless of your colour, your creed, your religion, you are going to have opportunities and not risk the mocking of those people who've been sent to legislate and to govern this province.

Hon Mr Harris: I accept the challenges, I accept the premises and I accept the responsibility. Yes, we have to be accountable. I'm sorry; I agree with everything you said. I said yes. You don't seem to want to accept yes. All of our members and all of our ministers are going to have to accept that in government we are looked at and under scrutiny more. We are going to have to accept that responsibility. It is a responsibility, it is an important one and I have asked our members, my staff, our ministers to accept that. We must set a higher standard. That is our goal and we'll do our very best.



Mr Gerry Phillips (Scarborough-Agincourt): My question is also to the Premier. It has to do with some comments you made on the weekend on television, on Focus Ontario, specifically on the tax cut. I think I'm quoting you here properly. When you were asked about your plans for proceeding with the tax cut, I think you said, "The people will say we kept our promise." The promise, as you know, was very specific. It couldn't have been clearer. This is the tax cut: If you're making $100,000, your tax cut is $3,740 a year and then you take part of the fair share health levy off. You indicated during the campaign that your tax cut cost was $5 billion. I want to have you confirm what you said on the weekend, and that is that it is your government's intention to proceed with the tax cut as you promised in the Common Sense Revolution.

Hon Michael D. Harris (Premier): I think you're getting very close as we start into budget preparation. I said on the weekend that when the Minister of Finance delivers his budget, you, your leader, the members of the public and the media will say, "They kept their promise."

Mr Phillips: I appreciate that. Part of your answer on the weekend also was that whereas you had said that you were going to cut $6 billion from expenditures, you actually ended up cutting $8 billion, roughly 33% more. You promised during the campaign that you would not touch a penny of health care, classroom education or law enforcement. All three of those promises have now been broken, because you are cutting $2 billion more out of the budget than you said during the campaign. It's increasingly clear that your Common Sense Revolution is not what you promised. The jobs are not there, and you promised you would not cut health care, classroom education or law enforcement.

The reason for all of that is because you are dedicated to a $5-billion tax cut. Even members of your own caucus, Premier, are beginning to raise legitimate concerns about it. Four thoughtful members of your caucus, individuals who I think have a lot of common sense, have indicated concerns about your proceeding with this tax cut. The question is very simple, and this is what the people of Ontario want to know: If the deficit is such a huge problem, and you're asking OPSEU members out there to be faced with layoffs far greater than you said in the campaign, you're cutting health, you're cutting classroom education and law enforcement to fight the deficit, if the deficit fight is so crucial, how can we afford a $5-billion tax cut at the same time?

Hon Mr Harris: As the member I think indicated in his question, I had said on Focus Ontario that the Common Sense Revolution document and the financing documents that went with it, which you're privy to -- lots challenged them and lots disagreed with them; and lots in fact agreed with them -- laid out a number of premises. Based upon the spending that we were told of, that we were campaigning on, based upon the spending of the previous year and the estimates of the New Democratic Party going into the election, we indicated that in order to balance the budget we would have to reduce $6 billion of that spending.

After having taken office, as you'll recall, the Minister of Finance said there was a $4-billion discrepancy in the numbers that the NDP had out. We knew of the $2-billion discrepancy as far as the revenue goes and we had taken that into account. But the spending being $2 billion in excess was something we really had no way of getting a handle on until we took office. The minister realized that as soon as he took office in July. The $2-billion NDP cuts to get the spending back to where they said they were were implemented. They were difficult, as I said on Saturday, they were not without pain, but they were part of the NDP budget and reflected the numbers they gave us.

Once we got that back to where it should be and in balance, the Minister of Finance in November announced an additional, over the next two or three years, $6 billion of reductions on top of that. That's consistent with the Common Sense Revolution, and as I indicated Saturday, we're pretty much on track with that.

Mr Phillips: I think the people of Ontario are beginning to see how crazy your fiscal plan is, and here's the craziness of it: You are going to have to borrow $20 billion to pay for this tax cut. Nobody out there thinks it makes sense to borrow $20 billion. You are not going to balance the budget until March 31, 2001. Over that period of time you are going to give a tax cut of $20 billion, every penny of it borrowed. Can you explain the logic, the common sense in that point of having to borrow $20 billion to fund your annual $5-billion tax cut?

Hon Mr Harris: The only borrowing we're doing is to finance $10-billion deficits, $100 billion worth of debt run up by you and your party for the first five years, and then the New Democratic Party in the next five years. That is why we are borrowing money. Secondly, we have to cut some $6 billion in spending, $2 billion already reduced, so we can stop that $10-billion deficit, that $1 million an hour more than we take in. Why are we cutting taxes? We are cutting taxes so that we can be competitive --


The Speaker (Hon Allan K. McLean): Order. Would you come to order, please. Premier.

Hon Mr Harris: We are cutting taxes so that we can create jobs so that we can restore prosperity to the economy so that we can be competitive with other jurisdictions. I understand some other jurisdictions aren't happy with that because they don't want to see jobs leaving their provinces and coming to Ontario, or jobs staying here that were leaving, but I have to tell you that the fact of the matter is that tax cuts will create jobs, will help us meet our goal and will balance our budget in five years. I know you were going to --


The Speaker: The member for St Catharines is out of order.

Hon Mr Harris: But at what price? The price is high unemployment. The price is people --


The Speaker: Order. The member for St Catharines has been continuously out of order and I will not warn him again.

Hon Mr Harris: I might bring this answer to a conclusion by saying that --

The Speaker: Order. The question has been answered.


Mrs Marion Boyd (London Centre): My question is for the Premier as well. Mr Premier, last Tuesday afternoon in this House your Solicitor General clearly indicated that he knew complaints had been filed with the police services and the police complaints commission around the events of Monday, March 18. Hansard tells us that he said, "At the police complaints commission, there are already, I understand, two complaints that are possibly filed; at least they've been filed with the police service and may be formally filed with the police complaints commission, and perhaps others will follow." In fact those two complaints were laid on the Monday afternoon and I understand that subsequent complaints have been laid.

Despite that, having apparently viewed the police videotapes because he is Solicitor General and responsible for the police, and with the knowledge the complaints had been filed in front of the police complaints commission, he said on his way into your cabinet meeting, and I quote from a tape that was done of that conversation:

"I think they" -- meaning the picketers -- "were given fair warning. I think the tape indicates they were given fair warning and that the picket lines broke down. I think there was a breakdown in control by the picket captains and in fact I understand there were even physical altercations between picket captains along the line. I think it indicates that certainly the warnings were delivered in a variety of fashions, through megaphones, through the tapping on shields; those kinds of things occurred."

He went on to give a number of other comments about being sure, having watched the tapes, that in fact the police behaved appropriately. Now, the Solicitor General was clearly aware of this and clearly he had access to confidential information as Solicitor General, which neither the members of the Legislature nor the public has had access to, and he used that information, I suggest, in a very inappropriate manner.


The Solicitor General must remain impartial regarding police actions, especially since he knew complaints had been laid. He has clearly prejudged and predetermined the outcome of the complaints before the Police Complaints Board, and any further complaints that may be laid.

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

Mrs Boyd: Mr Premier, why is the Solicitor General continuing to speak out and defend the OPP's action when there is an investigation under way by the police complaints commission?

Hon Michael D. Harris (Premier): The minister may at some point wish to respond, and if he does, he can by way of supplementary. The police are holding I guess what you would call an arm's length or public inquiry into their actions by calling the police complaints commission. We have agreed to a full public inquiry into all of the events of the day and, as the minister and the House leader have said, somehow or other people don't want to accept yes for an answer. We'll have a full look at all the actions and responsibility that were there, and I don't know what more the member wants.

Mrs Boyd: This issue has nothing to do with the public inquiry, which we support. It has to do with the inappropriate action of a minister of this government, a minister whose responsibility clearly is the protection of all Ontarians, not just the OPP but also all those people on the pickets and anyone else who requires service and protection from police services.

On Wednesday, after those complaints had been laid with the police complaints commission, the Solicitor General went on to say, "As we know, the problems that occurred on Monday were not with OPSEU but with a variety of folks who were involved: the coalition against poverty, the Steelworkers, a whole range of organizations who were out there who had nothing whatsoever to do with OPSEU."

Now, we have the Solicitor General of this province acting as the judge and the jury of the events that took place here at Queen's Park, events that your government has called a public inquiry into and for which there were already complaints in front of the police complaints commission. We've heard him make excuses, we've hear him try to justify the actions of the OPP, and now he even goes so far as to blame others for what happened on Monday.

The Solicitor General clearly knew he shouldn't be commenting on an issue before the police complaints commissioner that morning. He said and I quote again: "Well, I don't want to say anything publicly. I'm going to let everyone reach their own conclusions." But, Mr Premier, he didn't. He defended the OPP's actions and he blamed others.

As the Solicitor General, he has an obligation to remain impartial, and he's clearly crossed the line. He's clearly forgone his impartiality as Solicitor General. Mr Premier, since the Solicitor General has clearly jeopardized the investigation before the police complaints commission by his comments, you have a responsibility to the people of this province to ask for his resignation as Solicitor General. Will you do so?

Hon Mr Harris: The member is probably more learned in the law than I am, but I have not heard one single person involved with the independent inquiry suggest that anything has been compromised. I'm not familiar with what the Solicitor General has said or not said. If you wish to ask him directly, I'm sure he'd be happy to respond. We're going to have a full, independent, public inquiry into the actions, so I've seen nothing that causes me -- if you have information otherwise, you could ask the Solicitor General directly -- to question the competence of the Solicitor General.

Mrs Boyd: I'm surprised that the Premier didn't hear all the calls for the resignation of the Solicitor General. There was certainly enough noise around here this morning and in front of the Solicitor General's office around requiring him to resign over his behaviour. The Solicitor General's comments have destroyed his credibility, his integrity and his impartiality. The Solicitor General is not supposed to be the chief cheerleader for the Ontario Provincial Police. He's supposed to ensure that the OPP protect the safety of all Ontarians, and that includes people who are exercising their democratic rights on a picket line.

The Solicitor General must remain impartial at all times. The Solicitor General knew complaints had been laid, yet he continued to prejudge and predetermine the ruling of the police complaints commissioner. Your Solicitor General has clearly crossed the line. He must resign. You have no choice, Mr Premier, but to ask for his resignation, and I ask you to do so now.

Hon Mr Harris: I have not seen or heard anything. I understand that Gord Wilson has asked me to do some things. He's asked me to do lots of things that I've politely declined to do in the past. I understand that there are some others, and now you're asking me to do something which I respectfully and politely decline to do.


Mr Howard Hampton (Rainy River): My question is for the Premier as well. The Premier said this past weekend that all of his critics are wrong. He said there is no need to make any more cuts. He said the expenditure cuts that have been made so far are all that is necessary to finance his tax cut.

The Minister of Finance, in the November 29 economic statement, says something quite different. He outlines cuts that annualize to $8 billion. They include three years of cuts to hospitals, two years to municipalities, but only one year for education. The November 29 economic statement is clear that more will be cut from education and that transfer reductions will be announced next year. The Minister of Education, in his press release of March 6, advised boards to expect further savings targets to transfer payments next year. In other words, both the Minister of Finance and the Minister of Education are saying there are more cuts coming in education.

I'd like to ask the Premier who is right. Are you right that there are no more cuts coming in education, or are the Minister of Finance and the Minister of Education right? Which is it?

Hon Michael D. Harris (Premier): The member premises the question by saying that I said there are no further cuts required to finance the tax cut. There are no cuts at all required to finance the tax cut -- none whatsoever. There are none whatsoever.

The tax cut, over the five-year term -- and it is a five-year program that we laid out and a five-year program we plan to implement -- the tax cut over five years will finance itself. We stand by that: We campaigned on that and we are repeating that today.


The Speaker (Hon Allan K. McLean): Order. The member for Welland-Thorold is out of order.

Hon Mr Harris: That means that all of the expenditure reductions, whether you have a tax cut or not, are required to stop this $1 million an hour more that we're spending, in order to stop the $10-billion and $12-billion deficits that have been ignored --


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

Hon Mr Harris: Quite frankly, as I indicated as well --

Mrs Margaret Marland (Mississauga South): On a point of order, Mr Speaker: I am sitting six desks from the Premier. Every question that he's answered this afternoon I have not been able to hear. I ask you to start removing those members who do not wish to abide by the rules of this House, which do not permit interjections.

The Speaker: Premier, continue.

Hon Mr Harris: As I indicated, it's difficult to project a year out, two years out, three years out, four years out. As you know, your Treasurer, the Minister of Finance, and Premier tried to predict two months out before the election and you were out $4 billion. I don't think we'll be out anything like that. So far we're right on with 1994, but I have to tell you, two years from now, a year from now, three years from now, there could be other projections.


The Speaker: Order. The member for Lake Nipigon, I will not warn you again. You've consistently been interrupting and I won't warn you again.


Mr Hampton: I think it's pretty clear that the Premier may have been a teacher but he didn't teach math.

So let me try again. Another example: The Minister of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs said in a speech to the Ontario Cattlemen's Association on February 21 that he will be required to make additional 30% to 35% reductions in the Ministry of Agriculture spending, something like $156 million. There's no mistake about this. He recounted the $13.1 million that's already been taken out of the Ministry of Agriculture budget and then went on to say a cut of 30% or 35%, about $156 million further.

Is the Premier now saying that this $156-million cut from Agriculture is not required, that this cut is not going to happen?

Hon Mr Harris: I think the same member asked the same question last week, and perhaps his support in rural Ontario is lagging for the leadership. I don't know. But if he wants to get the answer again today, I'd be happy, because the Minister of Agriculture is off promoting our products where our farm community is doing very well.

To date I think you would have seen an enrichment of a number of programs we have committed to in agriculture. Yes, we're looking at streamlining some of the administrative costs, but so far on the program side --


The Speaker: The member for Windsor-Sandwich is out of order.

Hon Mr Harris: -- in 80%, 85% I think of some of the support programs, you've seen a strengthening of the recognition of agriculture.

As the Minister of Agriculture said when he answered the question last week, if you want information on the budget, wait until the budget comes out, and I think I said as well that those members of rural caucuses and farmers and rural Ontario will say, "By golly, this is a good budget for us."

Mr Hampton: This is not about what the Minister of Agriculture may be saying wherever he is today. This is about what the Premier said Friday and Saturday on an open-line radio show and on Focus Ontario. He said, "No more cuts are necessary."

It's pretty clear to everybody else. It may not be clear to the Premier's arithmetic. It's pretty clear that health care is being cut in this province, education is being cut in this province, law enforcement is being cut and agriculture is being cut. Meanwhile, the Premier proposes to offer up a large tax cut to his already wealthy friends.

Now, is he saying that these two things are totally unrelated? It's clear to everybody else that money is being taken from ordinary people and given to those who are already well off. Are there going to be more cuts or are there not going to be more cuts? Which is it, Premier?

Hon Mr Harris: I think, for those who watched the show, and clearly you've at least been briefed on it, that you would understand that I said the minister had cut $2 billion to correct your overspending -- that was the NDP cuts of $2 billion in July -- and he had announced that we were working on business plans to reduce another $6 billion in spending -- all of this required to get the $10-billion or $12-billion deficit under control and balance our books. So within, there are still announcements to be made, obviously, on the $6 billion of reductions. We're working through the business plans. If all of the parameters stay the same, we feel at this point in time that those would be the amount of reductions that will be required.

That is what I said on Saturday night and that is what I indicated, and that's what I'm happy to repeat today to the member. But let me reiterate that the tax cut has absolutely nothing to do with -- this is for jobs. This is how we --


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

Hon Mr Harris: -- to put confidence back in and ultimately, just as you hiked taxes, cost the treasury money, cost jobs and put more people on unemployment and put more people on welfare, our tax cut will stimulate the economy, create jobs, take more people off welfare, reduce the unemployment levels, and ultimately will increase the dollars back to the treasury. That's how it works and that's what we will do.


Mr Richard Patten (Ottawa Centre): My question is for the Minister of Education and Training. I'd like to ask the minister about what I consider to be a really very serious matter that has been going on inside his ministry for the past several months. I refer, of course, to the so-called push poll which his ministry has commissioned.

This poll is a different way of doing a focus group. It's a type of poll, though, that is designed to deliberately provoke a negative response towards Ontario teachers. I'd like to give you an example. One of the questions is: "High school students spend five hours per day in the class and teachers spend 3.5 hours. Is this fair?"

It's quite clear that this kind of poll is a way in which you can find a scapegoat, a way you can justify cuts from education, which we believe will amount to over $1 billion shortly. But what worries me is the method being used, and I believe there's a pattern here.

The member for Scarborough-Agincourt last Wednesday asked a question and it had to do with the intimidation of a secondary school --

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

Mr Patten: -- or a principal from his riding. Minister, when will you release the poll results, including all the questions? On March 6 when you were scrummed when you released your so-called toolkit -- it was really a money grab -- you said you would be releasing the results in the Legislature. Minister, when will you release those questions in that poll?

Hon John Snobelen (Minister of Education and Training): I am surprised that the member opposite assumes that the people of Ontario don't like teachers. I think quite the opposite. I think the people of Ontario support classroom teachers.

This government and this minister and I'm sure all the ministers in this government make every attempt to be in contact with the people of Ontario. From September through to this day, I've spent about 25% of my time in the classroom talking to students, talking to parents, talking to the teachers across this province, to stay in contact with people who are involved in the education system.

This government, like governments before, from time to time will go sample public opinion to find out how the public feels about their education system and other important issues of the day.

Mr Patten: The minister is afraid to answer the question. He made a commitment to share the information with this House. I'm asking a simple question: When will you release it? I will also ask you, did your office or any other political office have anything to do with the commissioning of this particular poll?

Hon Mr Snobelen: I'm sure the member opposite knows that polls conducted by a ministry -- and there was a poll recently conducted by my ministry to test public opinion about the education system in the province of Ontario. We think that's important. We think it's important to meet the needs of the people of Ontario. Those polls are traditionally tabled in this House --


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

Hon Mr Snobelen: As the member opposite knows, just before the House broke I tabled the results of a poll made by the former government. This is a normal part of the House.



Mr Bud Wildman (Algoma): My question is to the Premier. In regard to comments he made over the weekend, headlined in the Toronto Star as "Only Cut in May Budget Will Be to Income Tax," he's quoted as saying, "Quite frankly," they were very "spot on," is the term he used in terms of their spending cuts.

The Premier has said repeatedly that the tax cut is about stimulating the economy, growing the economy, that spending cuts are about deficit reduction and that they're not connected. Yet last week the Premier admitted in a response to one of my questions that the tax cut will delay balancing the budget.

We see other comments by other Conservatives over the weekend expressing some nervousness about this approach and the fact that these two things are not connected. People generally see that the tax cut is related to the spending reductions. Specifically, the member for Wellington described the $5-billion tax cut as "reckless" in a letter to the Premier. In response, the Premier has basically said the other people who disagree with his view are simply wrong.

Mr Premier, my question is: How are they wrong? Is the member for Wellington wrong? And when every economist we've asked agrees that a tax cut will cost at least $5 million on an annualized basis, how is it the people are wrong when they say that you have to cut spending in order to finance the tax cut?

Hon Michael D. Harris (Premier): I think on Saturday one of the people they quoted was Ralph Klein. Ralph Klein had wondered whether we should be cutting taxes. If I had the tax rates of Alberta, I wouldn't have to cut taxes. You see, they're the lowest in the land.

Quite frankly, I understand other provinces, which have been benefiting with jobs moving to New Brunswick and Saskatchewan and Manitoba and Alberta out of Ontario --

Mr Gilles Pouliot (Lake Nipigon): When are you going to find oil?

Hon Mr Harris: I understand them getting a little nervous with Ontario getting its act together and Ontario getting its taxation rates together, getting its finances together, becoming a more attractive place to invest and create jobs. I understand that. There is a competition, it is a global competition, but it is a competition within Canada as well.

Mr Pouliot: When are you going to find oil?

The Speaker (Hon Allan K. McLean): Order, the member for Lake Nipigon. I'll have to name the member. I would ask him to leave the chamber.


The Speaker: I warned him, the member for Lake Nipigon. I'm not putting up with it.

Mr Pouliot left the chamber.

Hon Mr Harris: We campaigned and continue to govern on a five-year plan to balance the budget, to restore hope and prosperity and jobs and growth to the province. Some want to look at a one-day snapshot. We reduced and rationalized some efficiencies in health care on one day so we could respend it the next day.

All we're saying is that our commitment was a five-year commitment. Over the five years we will honour our commitment to the taxpayers, we'll honour our commitment to balance the budget and we will honour our commitment to make Ontario a much more responsive, friendly place to invest and do business. That's the commitment that we made and that's the program that we are implementing.

I might add --

The Speaker: The question has been answered.

Hon Mr Harris: -- the NDP, who campaigned on the Agenda for People --

The Speaker: Order. Cut him off.

Mr Wildman: The question did not relate to the Premier of Alberta. It related to the comments made by members of the Conservative caucus in this place. The member for Wellington and also, I believe, the member for Grey-Owen Sound, who supported him, are the ones who are becoming nervous, along with many people in this province, not just the Premier of Alberta.

They're not talking about the situation in Alberta. They're talking about the situation here in Ontario. The Premier blithely goes on separating somehow the spending cuts from the tax cut, when everyone else understands, including members of his own caucus, that they're all part of the same budget and they're related to one another.

The government says it will have to cut more, at least $5 billion more, in order to balance the budget and to give the tax break at the same time. Basically, the Premier is asking the people of Ontario to take a great ideological leap of faith to believe that somehow consumer confidence will increase and that we'll have more jobs with that. Any conservative econometric analysis would indicate that in order to implement your tax cut at $5 billion more, it will result in a loss of about 145,000 to 175,000 jobs -- that's your spending cuts to finance that tax cut -- and at the very most, the tax cut in itself will create 50,000 new jobs. That's a difference of 95,000 to 125,000 jobs. Aren't those the real figures, and aren't we going to see a net loss of jobs as a result of your ideological commitment to the tax cut?

Hon Mr Harris: No. Any net loss of jobs is to correct the overspending of the last 10 years and the financing of jobs that we clearly can't afford. There may be some streamlining. If we can deliver services more effectively at less cost, I would assume that you would want us to do that. As I've indicated, the tax cut is designed to stimulate the economy, to create jobs and ultimately, as it works its way through the system, to create more consumer spending, more sales taxes, more income taxes. Quite frankly, it will benefit the federal government too, as they will get more money out of Ontario.

I am happy to address, if the member wishes, the comments that were made. I think the member for Grey-Owen Sound said all members have the right to represent their constituents and represent their views. I respect members who do so, as did the member for Wellington, and I respect the member for Grey-Owen Sound. Surely, for all members -- unlike former governments, that tried to stifle backbenchers and tried to stifle constituents -- it is appropriate that if some constituent in their riding comes in and expresses a concern brought out about the misrepresentation of the tax cut by those who are opposed to cutting taxes, the Liberals and the NDP, they ought to have the right to express that viewpoint, and I respect that.

The Speaker: The Chair of Management Board has an answer to a previously asked question.


Hon David Johnson (Chair of the Management Board of Cabinet): I'm rising in response to a question that was posed to me by the member for Hamilton Centre last Thursday about tabling material associated with the janitorial services, the bidding process at Queen's Park. I'm doing that today, and the material is coming in.

There were strong allegations of lack of propriety of the tender process. I will say that I've investigated and found the following: that there were in fact five independent Ontario Realty Corp staff who did evaluate the bids; there was a point system which was established based on price, work plan and quality assurance; the winning firm achieved 91 points, the second-place firm 78 points, and the other firms which bid, below that. There were no irregularities; it was a completely proper process that was followed, an arm's-length process that was followed. Thirteen firms prequalified successfully, including the final successful bidder, and five actually did bid on the job. As a result of the acceptance of this tender, there will be a saving, over two years, of $2.4 million to the taxpayers of the province of Ontario.


Hon David Johnson: Also, in wrapping up, if I'm allowed to wrap up, what I will say is that there was some question of a relationship between an individual named by the member for Hamilton Centre and myself. An individual did contact me under the letterhead of a Scarborough firm. I had no contemplation that this person lived within my riding.


The person himself is quoted in the Toronto Sun as saying we have never talked, and I firmly believe that to be the case. I will say it's one of the ironies of this situation that this individual, who I wouldn't know if he walked into the House at the present time, was a candidate for a federal nomination in the riding of Don Valley East in 1992 for the Liberal Party. Finally, the same individual was a former member of the Don Mills Liberal Association.

I would say an apology is owed to this individual, to the Ontario Realty Corp staff and to the winning company.

Mr David Christopherson (Hamilton Centre): It would seem to me that if there are any apologies due, it's from this government to those workers who have lost their jobs so that you can pay for your tax cut. The minister will know that I made no direct allegations; I was very careful not to. I was inquiring on information I had and I continue to inquire. But if the minister thinks for one minute that he should take great pride in the fact that he saved $2.4 million of taxpayers' money by laying off some other taxpayers, he's got a surprise coming. That's not what people are looking for when they look for fiscal responsibility. You ought to be ashamed for even thinking that laying off those hardworking men and women is a way to balance our budget.

I want to say to the minister that there still remains the question -- and I accept that he's tabled all the documents and I intend to look through them and review it, because there still remains the question of how it is that out of five bids the four that were not spoken to by the union were not part of the discussions we had here the other day. My question to you is this: Why is it that the four tenderers that did not agree to accept the collective agreement were the ones that were not chosen? The only one chosen was the one bid that did not offer directly to the union to respect its collective agreement and respect the union. That remains a question that I think in all fairness deserves to be answered.

Hon David Johnson: This firm in fact has talked to the union on three occasions, number one.

Interjection: How does he get away with it?

Hon David Johnson: I don't know how he gets away with it.

Number two, one of the reasons that this firm scored highly was because it had the best bid in terms of keeping the current staff and it awarded highest in that category of keeping the current staff.

Finally, the member has said he has not made any accusations. I quote Hansard. I quote the member for Hamilton Centre. He said, "...what your relationship was with Mr Iordanous, and by you, I also mean your staff, because basically what you're doing is calling someone a liar. Either Mr Ferens is lying or Mr Iordanous is lying or you are," meaning myself. Now, if that isn't an accusation of a lack of proper procedure, I don't know what is.

I think there should be an apology to the firm in question, to Mr Iordanous, who had mud slung at him, and to the ORC staff, who I might say are very concerned because basically what is being said is that they haven't followed proper procedure. Will we have an apology from this member?


Mr Frank Miclash (Kenora): My question is to the Minister of Health. Minister, as you're aware, Pinecrest Home in my riding is experiencing a funding dilemma brought about by the recent arbitration award to the home for the aged's employees. As a result of the December 1995 arbitration award, there exists a $1.8-million shortfall in funding for this home. I am told that any shortfall will have to be found at the municipal level which, you are aware, is not realistic, noting the transfer reductions to municipalities.

You will also know that the recent arbitration award makes this issue a most unique situation in the province and must be dealt with by you and your government. Clearly, the fate of this home's future is in your hands, and the people who rely on Pinecrest Home in my riding are looking for an answer. What action are you prepared to take to ensure the viability of Pinecrest Home?

Hon Jim Wilson (Minister of Health): This matter was brought to my attention some time ago, and I would just remind the honourable member that the Ministry of Health has no say in a decision between a home and its employees and an arbitrator's decision in that regard. We did, however, support the government's provision in Bill 26 to ensure that arbitrators in the future take into account the employer's ability to pay.

At this time, we are worried about maintaining quality and standards in that home. Ministry staff have had discussions with Pinecrest to make sure, with the funding shortfall or with the pressure from the arbitrator's award, that quality will not suffer and that the residents of that home receive the top quality they're entitled to in this province. However, at this time we don't have the dollars available to Pinecrest to help them with the arbitration award.

Mr Miclash: You talk about the future; I'm talking about a situation that is presently in my riding. I have families out there, I have residents out there looking for help from your government. What are you saying in terms of the board's request for a one-time grant to help them through this dilemma that they face?

Hon Mr Wilson: The home did recently submit a new operating plan to the ministry. It contains savings in administration and other operating measures which should help to alleviate the pressure created by the arbitrator's award. Staff is currently reviewing that operating plan, and we'll be getting back to his constituents and the operators of the home in the near future.


Mr David Christopherson (Hamilton Centre): My question is to the Premier. Premier, in the interview that you gave on the weekend on Robert Fisher's Focus Ontario, you were asked a question regarding successor rights and the role they're playing in the OPSEU strike. Your answer to Paula Todd of the Toronto Star was, "They were given by the NDP." We all know that any legislation or policy, whether it's good for Ontario or bad, if it had NDP fingerprints on it, that's as good as the kiss of death.

Given the fact that I'm sure your staff have since advised you that indeed successor rights were put in place in the Crown Employees Collective Bargaining Act, that part of which was enacted in the 1970s, I would ask you, is it that you don't understand the circumstances around one of the key issues in the OPSEU strike, or were you deliberately trying to mislead the people of Ontario?

Hon Michael D. Harris (Premier): Let me be careful on the one hand in trying to respond on the other. The blackout is still on. We're at the table. We're trying to resolve a very difficult situation that's there.

I had indicated -- there may have been some confusion and I talked to the media about this afterwards -- that there was a succession of governments in a number of areas, in Ottawa and in Ontario, that had never contemplated that the public sector would ever have to downsize, that we were immune to that -- that somehow you could go on running up deficits, spending money. Where the private sector had a number of negotiated agreements dealing with successor rights, also within their contracts was a vehicle where ultimately, at the end of the day, they could actually downsize without having to wait five or 10 or 15 years. This was not the case. So I indicated that the federal government had brought forward legislation to deal with that, and so had we.

I also indicated on Saturday night that it was our goal, and I don't know where the negotiations are at, but in general terms, it is our goal to be as fair and as reasonable as we possibly can with all of our OPSEU workers and non-OPSEU employees of the government of Ontario who may, if attrition is not satisfactory or if a number of other areas that we believe -- retraining and education and some of the other provisions are there, that if there actually have to be layoffs, that we treat those employees with dignity and with fairness. That's what I indicated on Saturday.


Mr Christopherson: I think that for the tens of thousands of OPSEU members who are on strike, they're going to find it very distressing to realize that the Premier who took away their successor rights in Bill 7 didn't even understand when those rights came into being and thought it was one of the NDP lightning rods that he had to go after.

The fact of the matter is that not only did the Premier not understand Saturday night the issue of successor rights and when they became law and who brought them in, he did not talk about taking away successor rights in the election campaign. The Premier and his party did not put in the Common Sense Revolution any comment about taking away the rights of public sector workers with regard to successor rights.

Further to that, Bill 7 -- which was not an amendment to the Ontario Labour Relations Act; it was a complete replacement -- when it was rammed through the House with absolutely no public hearings which you have to account for, you left tens of thousands of people without rights that they've had for decades and you had no mandate to do it.

We said at that time that functioning in that fashion, taking away those rights, not allowing fair, democratic procedures to take place, would lead to serious trouble, and look what's happening on our streets now. Premier, we say again, this is only the beginning and it's only people responding to you attacking them. When will you realize that Bill 7 and all that it does in taking away the rights of workers and the way you rammed it through in that undemocratic fashion is going to continue to make our streets what you've already made them? That can't be good for working people, it can't be good for the government and it's certainly not good for investment.

The Speaker (Hon Allan K. McLean): What is your question?

Mr Christopherson: My question is, Premier: When will you realize the damage and havoc that Bill 7 is wreaking and put amendments on the floor and put real dignity and fairness and democracy back into labour laws in this province?

Hon Mr Harris: I think dignity and fairness will come with adults negotiating at the negotiating table. That's what we are doing, that's what David Johnson is doing and I believe that you will see that by correcting problems of the past, balancing labour legislation, the $10 billion to $12 billion that you spent you didn't have, the people you hired you had no money to hire, bigger government, government taking on more than it was capable of doing -- correcting this is not easy, but that is in fact what we were elected to do, to correct an absolute abhorrent mess of regulation, of legislation, of massive buildup of debt.

Quite frankly, while it's taking time, we are on track, jobs are being created. Every job creator I've talked to -- that's somebody who actually plans to invest five cents of their own money to create a job -- has told us that there is a better climate for job creation today than there was when the NDP were there. Every private sector job creator -- these again are the ones who plan to risk their own house or their own money or make their own investments -- says, "If you will carry through on the agenda, it will be even better in the future." And we want those jobs, not in Alberta, not in the United States, not somewhere else, we want those jobs that we deserve and should be had right here in the province of Ontario, and we're going to get them.


Mr Ernie Hardeman (Oxford): My question is for the Minister of Northern Development and Mines. Since the announced closing of the money-losing government airline norOntair, there has been concern expressed by some that the private sector would not adequately serve northern Ontario.

Opposition parties have speculated, for example, that as many as nine of the 16 communities in northern Ontario that norOntair serves will be left without a carrier after March 29. Can you update the Legislature on this situation and tell me what you, as minister, are doing to help ensure that air service continues to northern communities?

Hon Chris Hodgson (Minister of Natural Resources, Northern Development and Mines): I appreciate the member's question. I'm proud to inform the House that we have been working closely with the communities in northern Ontario that have been served by norOntair. Almost right from the start, the private sector indicated its intention to enter and remain in 13 of the 16 communities inside Ontario or 14 of the 17 communities served all over Ontario. I'm pleased today to inform the House that the Ontario Northland Transportation Commission has announced that an interim contract has been finalized with Voyageur Airways to serve the remaining three communities. I think that's a very positive step.

I would like to talk about another situation in regard to this. That was Atikokan, which was formerly served by norOntair and which was cancelled by the NDP a few years ago. I know there's been a lot of discussion around the fact that a subsidy was offered to Atikokan last year by a former minister. I can inform the House that we have completed that deal. It was a good deal. It saves the taxpayers a tremendous amount of money. It's cheaper than subsidizing a whole airline and it allows the private sector to thrive in northern Ontario. The assets go back into ONTC to help the ONTC's other operations remain viable and enhance economic development in northern Ontario, and I think that's a very proper thing and a positive step for northern Ontario.

The Speaker (Hon Allan K. McLean): The time for oral question period has expired.


The Speaker: Order.


Mr Richard Patten (Ottawa Centre): Pursuant to standing order 34(a), I'd like to advise you of my dissatisfaction with the response of the Minister of Education and Training and therefore I will be filing the appropriate papers with the Clerk in order to have what's called a late show.



Mr Tony Ruprecht (Parkdale): This is to the Legislative Assembly of Ontario and it says:

"Whereas the government has decided to replace our current child care system with one that lacks compassion and common sense and is fraught with many dangerous consequences; and

"Whereas the concept of affordable, accessible and quality child care is a basic important fundamental right for many members of our community who are either unemployed and enrolled into a training program or are single, working parents or where both parents are working; and

"Whereas if our present provincial government is sincere in getting people back to work, they should recognize the value of the child care component of the Jobs Ontario program and acknowledge the validity of the wage subsidy to child care workers;

"We therefore, the undersigned residents, business owners and child care providers of Metro Toronto, urge the government of Ontario to immediately restore the funding to the child care system of this province to the previous levels."

I've affixed my signature to this document.


Mr Gilles Bisson (Cochrane South): I have a petition here signed by 200 or 300 citizens from the community of Timmins and it's addressed to the Legislative Assembly of Ontario. It reads:

"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 rights 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 upcoming 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 am signing that petition.


Mr Derwyn Shea (High Park-Swansea): I submit to the Parliament of Ontario a petition signed by hundreds of Parkdale residents on behalf of the Parkdale Public School Community Association, expressing concern to maintain the quality of education in the city of Toronto and calling upon the government to support classroom provision of special education, services to immigrants and inner-city allocations of staffing to establish equity in education for students that are not calculated as extra-to-classroom education.

The petition also calls upon the government to recognize inner-city standards as part of provincial guidelines for equity of outcomes for all Ontario students as well as the need to work towards a goal of fair tax reform that does not discriminate against higher-density communities and the need to emphasize in policy reform a commitment to public education as a basis of maintaining a healthy urban centre in Toronto.



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

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

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

"We petition the Legislative Assembly of Ontario to reject the recommendation contained within the final report of the Metropolitan Toronto District Health Council hospital restructuring committee as it pertains to North York Branson Hospital, so that it retains, at minimum, emergency and inpatient services."

I have affixed my signature.


Mr Bill Grimmett (Muskoka-Georgian Bay): I have a petition here regarding child care. It's signed by approximately 26 persons and I'm presenting it on behalf of the member for Simcoe East.


Mr David Christopherson (Hamilton Centre): I have petitions here from Pearl Mackay and Dan Gilbert on behalf of the United Food and Commercial Workers. They read as follows:

"Petition to the Honourable Elizabeth Witmer, Minister of Labour:

"Whereas we, the undersigned, are opposed to your government's proposed changes to Ontario's workers' compensation system including elimination of the bipartite board of directors; reduced temporary benefits; introduction of the three-day period from the time of injury with no pay; legislated time limits on entitlement, thereby excluding repetitive strain, chronic pain and stress claims from eligibility for compensation; reduced permanent pensions and pension supplements; and

"Whereas workers' compensation is not a handout; it is an insurance plan for which premiums are paid; it is a legal obligation that employers have to employees who 80 years ago traded their right to sue employers in return for this insurance plan;

"Therefore, we demand no reduction in existing benefits, improved re-employment and vocational rehabilitation, tightened enforcement of health and safety to prevent injuries, no reduction in current Workers' Compensation Board staff levels and the bipartite board structure to be left intact."

I proudly add my name to theirs.


Mr Bernard Grandmaître (Ottawa East): I have a petition addressed to the Legislature of Ontario which reads as follows:

"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 have signed this petition.


Mr Tom Froese (St Catharines-Brock): On Friday, March 22, 1996, I was presented with three petitions and an open letter from the striking Ontario Public Service Employees Union members who visited me at my constituency office.

The first is a petition to the Legislature to reinstate successor rights for public service employees, and it's signed by 141 people.

The second petition is with respect to the rights outlined in schedule L of Bill 26, and it's signed by 157 individuals.

The third and final petition is a request for the government to allow the size of the Ontario public service to be reduced through attrition rather than staff reductions, and it's signed by 140 people.

The open letter that accompanied these petitions was signed by 424 individuals and outlined how the union could implement its 30-point plan to reduce costs.

I promised I would present these petitions and open letter to this House, and I've done so.


Mr Peter North (Elgin): I have a petition here with a number of signatures, some of the 16,000 signatures that we've got on this particular petition. It says:

"To the Legislative Assembly of Ontario:

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

"That a recommendation by the Psychiatric Hospital Restructuring Committee to close the St Thomas Psychiatric Hospital be rejected.

"We believe the restructuring committee has not fully considered the case for retaining St Thomas Psychiatric Hospital.

"We believe the hospital and the community of St Thomas provide care and caring for psych patients which is equal to, and better than London.

"We believe closure of the St Thomas Psychiatric Hospital will have a devastating impact on the economy and the residents of St Thomas and Elgin county.

"We believe London can better absorb the impact of closure of the London Psychiatric Hospital.

"Finally, we believe it would be cheaper for government to retain the St Thomas Psychiatric Hospital in terms of capital improvements required to both facilities.

"Therefore, we request that the government refrain from endorsing and implementing the recommendation to close the St Thomas Psychiatric Hospital."

I thank you, Mr Speaker.


Mr John Gerretsen (Kingston and The Islands): I have a petition addressed to the Legislative Assembly of Ontario:

"Whereas acknowledging the serious situation in Ontario with regard to the size of the present deficit; and

"Whereas being conversant with the fact that transfer payments from the federal government are being drastically cut and resulting in an acute need for the overhaul and streamlining of the Ontario government's expenditures; and

"Whereas due to changing world trade patterns, the economy of Ontario is in a state of transition and not performing at top capacity, thus creating a situation where numbers of Ontarians are unemployed and many families, including their children, are suffering great hardship;

"We, the undersigned residents of Ontario, petition the Legislative Assembly to take into account the suffering of the underprivileged residents of Ontario, particularly the children, and to reconsider the recent 20% cut to their incomes. Further, to postpone indefinitely, in the name of compassion, the tax rebate of 30% promised in the recent election, thus enabling the largest possible number of residents of Ontario to be properly fed, clothed and sheltered."

I've signed my name to it as well.


Mrs Marion Boyd (London Centre): I have a petition here 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 hard-working people;

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

I agree with this petition and I have signed my name.


Mr Gary Fox (Prince Edward-Lennox-South Hastings): I have a petition today to reopen Glenora ferry.

"It is now past the 19th day of the OPSEU strike. As concerned citizens of Adolphustown township and surrounding area, we are asking you to intervene on our behalf to get the Glenora ferry back in service.

"The Glenora ferry is an essential service, an extension of Highway 33, which is absolutely necessary to get us back and forth to work, school, to visit doctors, dentists etc, and to conduct various aspects of our daily business.

"Ambulance service to and from Picton is now at a standstill. The absence of this service has created hardship for many of us, both financially and personally. As an example, one local merchant has reported a 40% to 50% drop in his business since the onset of this strike.

"As well, it is extremely difficult to add two or three hours of commuting time per day to already busy schedules. If the ferry cannot be reopened full-time during this ongoing strike, then we would suggest it be reopened for the core hours of 6 to 9 am and 5 to 8 pm."


Mr Mike Colle (Oakwood): I have a petition to the Ontario Legislature.

"Whereas the Harris government is planning to remove rent controls; and

"Whereas the removal of rent control legislation breaks the campaign promise made by the Conservatives during the election; and

"Whereas a great number of tenants are seniors and people on fixed incomes and many have had their income cut by 22% due to social assistance cuts and cannot afford increases in their rent; and

"Whereas growing unemployment and the scarcity of affordable housing in Metro makes the removal of rent control an even greater disaster for tenants and for people who cannot afford to buy homes;

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

"That the government of Ontario keep their pre-election promise and not remove rent controls and continue with the Landlord and Tenant Act and Rental Housing Protection Act."

I affix my name to this petition.



Mr David Christopherson (Hamilton Centre): I have a petition 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 signature to theirs.


Mr Dan Newman (Scarborough Centre): I rise today to present a petition on behalf of the Friends of Scarborough General Hospital. This morning at my constituency office, the Friends of Scarborough General Hospital, including Chair Gerry Quinn, several Scarborough firefighters and many residents, including the Armstrong family, presented me, as MPP for Scarborough Centre, a petition from over 9,000 Scarborough residents. The petition reads as follows:

"To the Legislature of Ontario:

"Whereas the recommendations of the Metropolitan Toronto District Health Council to close inpatient paediatric beds, the special care nursery, and the burn unit at Scarborough General Hospital resulting in significantly reduced access to paediatric, newborn, and burn care for a large geographic area of Scarborough; and

"Whereas the paediatric unit, special care nursery, and burn unit at Scarborough General Hospital provide very cost-efficient, quality care,

"We, the undersigned, petition the Legislature of Ontario to (1) continue paediatric services, including inpatient paediatric beds; (2) continue special care nursery services; (3) continue and combine Metropolitan Toronto's burn care at Scarborough General Hospital."

I am pleased to affix my name to this petition.


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

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

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

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

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

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

I have attached my name to that petition as well.


Mr Bruce Crozier (Essex South): On a point of order, Mr Speaker: Earlier today, the pages of the House were introduced, and only for the reason of correcting the record I am pleased to say that the name of the page who is here from Essex South is Kelly MacTavish. I am pleased to welcome her.

The Deputy Speaker (Mr Bert Johnson): The point is well taken.



Mr Eves moved first reading of the following bill:

Bill 32, An Act to fix the Indemnities and Allowances of Members of the Assembly at the Levels in effect on March 31, 1996 / Projet de loi 32, Loi fixant les indemnités et les allocations des députés à l'Assemblée aux niveaux en vigueur le 31 mars 1996.

The Deputy Speaker (Mr Bert Johnson): Is it the pleasure of the House that this bill carry? Carried.

Hon Ernie L. Eves (Deputy Premier, Minister of Finance and Government House Leader): Just very brief comments: This bill freezes the compensation of members of the provincial Legislature at current levels, which have been in effect since 1993, and prevents an increase of 5.5% scheduled for April 1, 1996. This increase would have returned the compensation to the levels in effect before the start of the three-year social contract put in place by the previous government. We do not support that increase, and it's my understanding, having discussed this matter with the other two House leaders, that they do not as well.

We are committed to reforming the compensation system for members of the assembly and abolishing the gold-plated pension plan that goes with it. We will be replacing the current system with one which is straightforward and fair as soon as possible.

In conclusion, I think you will find that there is unanimous consent to call this bill as the first order of business today and to proceed with passage of all three stages of the bill at this time.

The Acting Speaker (Mr Gilles E. Morin): Agreed? Agreed.


Mr Flaherty moved first reading of the following bill:

Bill 33, An Act to amend the Legislative Assembly Act / Projet de loi 33, Loi modifiant la Loi sur l'Assemblée législative.

The Acting Speaker (Mr Gilles E. Morin): Is it the pleasure of the House that the motion carry? Carried.

Do you wish to make any comments?

Mr Jim Flaherty (Durham Centre): This bill amends the Legislative Assembly Act to provide that a member of the assembly shall not receive any indemnity as a member for a period during which the member is suspended from the service of the assembly.



Mr Eves moved second reading of the following bill:

Bill 32, An Act to fix the Indemnities and Allowances of Members of the Assembly at the Levels in effect on March 31, 1996 / Projet de loi 32, Loi fixant les indemnités et les allocations des députés à l'Assemblée aux niveaux en vigueur le 31 mars 1996.

The Acting Speaker (Mr Gilles E. Morin): Any comments, Minister?

Hon Ernie L. Eves (Deputy Premier, Minister of Finance and Government House Leader): I've given my brief introductory remarks with respect to this bill on first reading. I understand that the other two House leaders have a few comments to make as well.

Mr James J. Bradley (St Catharines): There is, I think, unanimity in the Legislature on this. Members of the Legislature, I am certain, at no time had any thought that there would be an increase, even though under the social contract, coming out of it, there would normally be an increase or at least placing members back where they were when they were cut back by 5%.

We have agreed to this six-year pay freeze that we're now in the middle of, and it is agreed that although others may be in this position, we as members of the Legislative Assembly shall not revert back to our position at the time of the social contract's passing in this Legislature.

I, as one member, and I'm sure all members of my caucus, at no time anticipated that this would be the case. We were not aware until last week that a bill would be necessary for this purpose, but I think you'll find, at least in our caucus, unanimous consent for this legislation.


Mr David S. Cooke (Windsor-Riverside): We too will be supporting this legislation, but I do want to make one thing clear: We are not talking about a piece of legislation to eliminate a pay increase. The legislation that is being dealt with today maintains the pay reduction that was put in place through the social contract legislation. I believe we are the only workers at the provincial level that by legislation have taken now a permanent pay reduction, which is fine. We understand that. That's the leadership we all were called on to provide. But I think it is inappropriate for anything to be reported that this legislation prevents a pay increase, because it was not a pay increase.

We have taken, as the House leader for the official opposition has said, a six-year pay freeze, and in addition to that, in the six-year pay freeze there's been I think a 5.5% reduction. So for six years we've not just had a freeze; we've had a reduction. Fine. That's part of the economic circumstances the province was in during the recession. But I think it would be inappropriate if anybody in this Legislature tried to score political points by saying this bill was going to prevent some kind of a pay increase. That was not the case. This bill is necessary as we await the overall reforms on pension and pay that the government is having a tough time figuring out.

The Acting Speaker: Any further debate?

Is it the pleasure of the House that the motion carry? Carried.

Shall the bill be ordered for third reading? Agreed.

Mr Eves moved third reading of the following bill:

Bill 32, An Act to fix the Indemnities and Allowances of Members of the Assembly at the Levels in effect on March 31, 1996 / Projet de loi 32, Loi fixant les indemnités et les allocations des députés à l'Assemblée aux niveaux en vigueur le 31 mars 1996.

The Acting Speaker: Any comments? Any further debate? Shall the motion carry? Carried.

Resolved that the bill do now pass and be entitled as in the motion.


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

The Acting Speaker (Mr Gilles E. Morin): I believe the member for Fort York had the floor.

Mr Rosario Marchese (Fort York): I'm very happy to resume my remarks on Bill 19.

This Conservative government has said no to the Advocacy Act, a Conservative government that has said no to the Advocacy Commission, a Conservative government that has said no to rights advisers, and a Conservative government that has said no to advocates.

They haven't listened to the opposition members and they certainly weren't listening to the many deputations that came in front of our committee, from whom I learned a great deal.

I want to list again a few other organizations that came before our committee: Dixon Hall Neighbourhood Centre; the Ethno-Racial People with Disabilities Coalition of Ontario; Family Association for Mental Health Everywhere; Family Mental Health Alliance; Geriatric Psychiatric Services; Hospital for Sick Children; International Association for the Right to Effective Treatment; Intervention des sourds francophones ontariens; London Battered Women's Advocacy Centre; Medical Health Centre; National Action Committee on the Status of Women; Neighbourhood Legal Services; Niagara Mental Health Survivors Network; Ontario Advocacy Coalition; Ontario Association for Community Living; Ontario Advocacy Commission; Ontario AIDS Network, Ontario Association of Professional Social Workers and many, many more.

I just wanted to continue with the list so people get a sense of all the deputants that came in front of our committee, many of whom attempted to speak to the whole issue of advocacy and to remind the government that what it was doing by repealing the Advocacy Act was wrong.

It's important to remind the public about these deputations so they don't get the feeling that it's simply a member or some members of the opposition who are opposed to it just because they're in opposition. I am opposed to it, as indeed are our caucus and many other members, because we have listened to what the people said and to what they told us, not just in Toronto but in Thunder Bay, Windsor, Ottawa and Peterborough and so on, everywhere in fact, through all the letters we have received. So I wanted to continue by putting on the record a number of things that have been said by these grass-roots organizations that are very closely connected to the communities they serve.

This is a deputation by some concerned citizens associated with Centretown Community Health Centre who are users of mental health services, and they said:

"After many years of consultation, we finally got government" -- meaning the NDP government -- "support for advocacy, and now the new government is starting the process all over again. We are tired of having to start from point zero, tired of having to educate yet another bunch of politicians. The government should be continuing what the people asked for."

They're not continuing with what the people had asked for for 15 years. In fact, they're discontinuing it by repealing the Advocacy Act.

The Ontario Advocacy Coalition said the following:

"The announcement that the Advocacy Act is to be revoked has been met with dismay, consternation and anger by those of us who over the last 15 years have studied, discussed, written, presented, argued, demonstrated and compromised in the interests of obtaining legislation to protect vulnerable people....

"The underlying theme and purpose of the Advocacy Act was to empower vulnerable people by helping them to understand their rights and the choices available, assisting them in carrying out their wishes and providing mechanisms whereby they could participate in the process of developing advocacy services.

"That many of our most vulnerable adults suffer from maltreatment at the hands of their caregivers, either family or institution, is no secret, as witness the number of court cases and coroners' inquests which have come to the attention of the public through the press."

You have such a coalition, involved in the field for many years, working in the field for 15 years, telling us why the Advocacy Act was important, telling us about the court cases that have been around and have been part of what has informed them and us about why we needed the Advocacy Act. And what does this government do? It doesn't listen. It says no to advocacy and it says no to the Advocacy Act.

Another submission, by A-WAY, says:

"We cannot assume that all people have a voice; many do not and many never will. However, many could develop that voice with the proper tools and education and time. Many could learn to advocate on others' behalf with the proper tools."

They had the tools, they had the Advocacy Act, and this Conservative reform government has eliminated, repealed the Advocacy Act. They've taken away a tool that gave them a voice and substituted those tools for other tools that introduced user fees in Ontario. That's what they've done. They have taken away effective tools that gave people a voice and have created other tools that allow municipalities to introduce user fees. Those are the tools they have given to municipalities that allow municipalities to increase taxes indirectly, and they've taken away a tool that gives vulnerable people a voice. That's what this government is all about.

I continue with another submission made by ALPHA:

"The rush to pass this extensive bill is disconcerting.... Contrary to misinformed press reports, the Advocacy Act, 1992, provided assistance to vulnerable adults so that they understood their rights and could express their wishes if they had difficulty doing so on their own, for whatever reason. The act supported the development of strong family relationships, where possible. The act specifically required advocates to encourage the involvement of the family. However, if the family/caregiver was abusive, an advocate could have supplied support to assist the person to find other living arrangements in the community."


ALPHA, the Action League of Physically Handicapped Adults, says it provided assistance to vulnerable adults so that they understood their rights and could express their wishes. The act supported the development of strong family relationships and specifically required advocates to encourage the involvement of the family, and where there was abuse, they could be there to provide assistance to persons to find other living arrangements.

This Conservative government, this reform government, has said no to all of these things. They say: "No, we're not in this business. We shouldn't be providing it. Other people are." ALPHA says that is not the case. ALPHA came to tell us why we needed the Advocacy Act and this government will continue to permit abuses to happen because we now no longer have the tools, through the act, through the Advocacy Commission and advocates and rights advisers to get to that abuse.

So this government that cares, that said no to advocacy -- how this government could abandon these vulnerable people is beyond my comprehension, but their day of reckoning will come and they will have to explain to the public in due time why it is they believe that somehow advocacy should be done by somebody else, by volunteers who are already doing it, by family members who are already doing it and by agencies, some of whom are doing it where they have the money to do it.

With this government having cut 5% in community agency support, it means that those who were providing it will have yet less support to continue doing it and those who have never had the money will not be able to do it. That's what that means. That's what this government is doing. It's abandoning people with disabilities and vulnerable people, frail seniors on their own, bringing us back to the years before Father Sean O'Sullivan came with his report to tell us why the government needed to be involved, bringing us back 15 years to begin again, where those communities, having had their say and having had a government that listened to them, have to come back to plead with you not to do it.

You didn't listen. None of you listened. Not the committee members and not this government and not Mike Harris was listening, because if any one of you were listening, you would not have repealed the act; you would not have taken away the most useful tools that people had to have their voices heard.

But you don't have to explain it to me, those of you who are nodding your heads; you will have to explain it to the public when you get to them. If not now, you will have to get to them during an election and you will have to tell them why it is that you feel that somehow it is not the job of government to advocate, but the job of volunteers and family members, and some of those agencies that have the few dollars which you have not yet taken away to do that job.

PUSH, Persons United for Self-Help, in northeastern Ontario region, said the following:

"Advocacy is so much more than doing things for people. Advocacy is about teaching those who can become knowledgeable and learn to exercise the franchises given to them as residents of Ontario.

"The paradigm has shifted. Society is moving from doing for persons with disabilities to accepting the principles of self-determination, personal autonomy, empowerment, self-advocacy and integration. The resulting implication is a shift of power. The need for the power shift is clearly evident: People with disabilities suffer much abuse and exploitation at the hands of the powers that control their existence. A necessary step in the paradigm shift is the education and empowerment of people with disabilities.

"Advocacy is an important factor in the equation of helping affected people obtain equitable and fair treatment to assist them in living full and active lives. That's what the Advocacy Act was all about. It was about empowerment, it was about allowing people the right to be able to make decisions with assistance and it was about helping people obtain equitable and fair treatment to assist them in living a full and active life.

"You've taken that away. You've taken that away by saying no to the Advocacy Act. You've taken one of the few tools that allowed them that voice and permitted empowerment to take place. What you will do is to make them as dependent as they always have been, and they wanted to be independent. They wanted the tools for autonomy, and you have taken that away, rendering them again disabled. You have disabled them further by taking one of the only tools they had to be empowered.

"It is a shame on this Reform Party to have done that, and you will pay the political price. But more than the political price, you will pay the social price for all those vulnerable people who have lost their voice."

Reading on from another deputation, Jennifer Wilcox said: "Although advocacy may seem like common sense to a lot of us, good sense is not always common and ethical treatment of vulnerable persons is not always the rule.

"These questions that I'm about to pose are directed at elected government officials determined to repeal the Advocacy Act. These personal and rhetorical questions are meant simply to provoke thought, which may or may not lead to positive action in the best interests of vulnerable persons."

"Have you ever had an adverse day in your life? Have you ever felt vulnerable to the point where you perceived that you were at the mercy of others? Have you ever been a party to despair, anguish, desperation or been crippled with fear? Have you ever questioned the fibre of your very being? Have you ever known poverty?

"Have you ever known, loved, cared for or been involved with a vulnerable person?"

These are tough questions that they ask all of us, but in particular government members. They plead with you, they were pleading with you to give them a voice and you are taking away, have taken away that voice by repealing the Advocacy Act. There's as much need for advocacy today as there ever was. Unless and until attitudes change and rights awareness is increased, the rights of vulnerable persons will continue to be violated.

We all are at risk of becoming vulnerable persons. Advocacy is not just something that someone else needs. The day may come when you are vulnerable. Who will help you to know, to understand and fight for your rights? An advocate, no doubt.

But you, as a government, have decided that you are not an advocate, that you're not in the business of advocacy, that it costs too much: $18 million was too much; $7 million, the point to which you've reduced that commission, is too much. They asked for $3 million, which many of these deputations agreed with and supported, and you said, "No, that is too much." The commission came and pleaded with you to leave something in place so the work that has begun would not be completely eliminated -- $3 million to do community development, to do education, to do systemic work, systemic advocacy -- and you said, "No, we don't need that," that you're consulting with a few people out there, asking them what they think we need, and all you have come up with in committee is: "We need to help the volunteers do their job better. Agencies are doing it already, families are doing it. We've got to give this work back to the families." That was your answer.


For 15 years these groups have come to successive governments, your own included, the Liberal government and the NDP government, asking for something from government, which was an advocacy act, a commission, advocates and rights advisers. We gave it to them because we believed it was important to listen to people who were deeply and well connected, well rooted in their communities, who understood the vulnerabilities of people. We delivered and you have taken that away. You have taken that away with six simple words that say "An Act to repeal the Advocacy Act." That is all you said; six simple, little words to undo 15 years of work. It is a shame on this government, I can tell you that.

"Overall," Len Maki from Thunder Bay says, "we would encourage the committee to review the decision to totally repeal the Advocacy Act, believing that some form of rights advice is essential for people with disabilities in a democratic and just society. We understand the need to be cost-effective in this procedure but hope that this government does not simply throw away all the hard work, time and money already spent by dedicated bureaucrats, community representatives and volunteers, including people from consumer groups like PACE, in establishing the Advocacy Act."

You didn't listen at all during all of those hearings. You didn't listen to any one of them. You allowed yourself to be informed by the doctors and a few lawyers who told you, "We don't like advocacy." You listened to them, but you didn't listen to all of the groups that I read for the record, and others which I did not have time to read. You did not listen to the Windsor Essex Community Advocacy Network. You did not listen to a number of other organizations that are here; there are too many to mention -- Survivors of Medical Abuse. You didn't listen to the Queen Street Patients Council and countless others.

You didn't hear what they told you, that you are repealing, taking away a voice, that after 15 years a government listened to, that said to them finally, "You will have a voice through the Advocacy Commission, through the act, through the advocates," who had right of entry to be able to get into an institution where it was well-known there might have been abuses and deal with them. You have taken that away.

If a government is not for advocacy and if a government says, "We're not in the business of advocacy," then what is your role? You've abdicated an important responsibility and you might as well leave as politicians, because nobody needs you. If you are not there to advocate for them, then who are you there for? This is repellent, what you have done, and I hope the community will vote you out of office very shortly.

The Acting Speaker: Questions or comments?

Mr Tony Clement (Brampton South): I would like to thank the honourable member for his two-day remarks. The honourable member is quite adept at quoting Father Sean O'Sullivan and his report, which seems to be the touchstone of advocacy and the policy that related to the former NDP government. He did allude to the fact that the advocacy role, as suggested by Father Sean O'Sullivan, was for family and friends; the role of the government was for education and support.

The honourable member seems to liken himself, in terms of his morals and in terms of his intentions, to Father Sean O'Sullivan. I would say to him that I knew Father Sean O'Sullivan. Father Sean O'Sullivan was a friend of mine, and the honourable member for Fort York is no Father Sean O'Sullivan.

The honourable member felt that by our policies, vulnerable adults would be abandoned. But I would say to him that the very abandonment he fears is created, is enhanced, is brought forward when government, through its involvement, tries to do things better left to friends and family, to the people who love the vulnerable individual. It is when government gets involved that people say: "Well, somebody else is handling it. Government is handling it. I don't have to worry about it." Is that the moral context we want for our society? I would say to you that no, it is not.

I would say to the honourable member that an Advocacy Commission, even when simply doing one tenth of its role, was costing $10 million, until April 1 -- $750 per phone call; that's how much it was costing the taxpayers of Ontario. Surely it is better to rely on friends and family.

Mrs Margaret Marland (Mississauga South): When there is any debate in this House on the Advocacy Commission, I always have wished that those members who were debating the Advocacy Commission could have sat as members of the committee of government agencies, boards and commissions, which I chaired at the time the appointments were being made to the Advocacy Commission.

If there was ever a question about the purpose and the potential for success of that commission, all you had to do was attend and see who was being appointed as commissioners and how they dealt with the questions from all three parties on the ABC committee. They could not even define what the commission to which they had just been appointed was about, they could not define what advocacy in that role meant, they had no comprehension of what it was they were going to be doing in terms of their personal responsibilities, and each and every person who came who was appointed had their own particular version of what the Advocacy Commission for the province of Ontario was about. It wasn't about something overall that was to make life better for the vulnerable people in this province; it was to deal with their own personal problems. That was a very serious deficiency that broke down the whole concept of advocating on behalf of vulnerable people.

I have been the spokesperson for people with disabilities for a number of years in this House for our party, for at least five years, and I was gravely troubled by the Advocacy Commission and its role.

Mr David Christopherson (Hamilton Centre): I want to take a brief opportunity to congratulate and compliment my colleague the member for Fort York. I've known him now for about six years, and anyone who has known him for that length of time, or even much less, would know that the issues of human rights and dignity and fairness and democracy are cornerstones of why he is in public life.

Whether we were sitting in the caucus room in government or whether it was decisions at the cabinet table or here in opposition, the member for Fort York constantly puts forward, even when they're unpopular, as certainly some comments were last week to some of the backbenchers on the government side -- he constantly thinks of those who have the least amount of power, who may be wronged by our systems; a recognition that systems are imperfect and that governments have a role to advocate.

I had the opportunity to be here last Thursday both to hear his comments on the special day of recognition and also his entire speech and was here for the balance of it today. I want to clearly go on the record as saying that I know of no one who works harder, who cares more and who is more prepared to put himself on the line time and time again in the interests of those who do not have power. There is no benefit to this member in raising these issues other than that it's the right thing to do.

When I listened to him go through the litany of issues this government has taken on and the amount of damage this government has done in the area of human rights and dignity -- you know, they're very good at mouthing the words, but when you look at their actions, they tell a different story. I think that's what the honourable member for Fort York has done over these last couple of days: He's pointed out what this government has done wrong and pointed out why we have an obligation, as parliamentarians, to do better.


Mr David Tilson (Dufferin-Peel): I'd like to make a few comments to the member for Fort York's remarks. I must say I always respect the member for Fort York. I understand what he believes in. I don't agree with much of what he has said this afternoon, but I respect him for making those comments.

We had this debate during the committee session. He spent great time in referring to depositions, and he has the right to do that, but there were a number of problems that were listed at the hearings as well which he failed to mention in his comments. He may not have time to talk about that, but briefly, they are as follows:

Under the present law, advocates can delay the appointment of a guardian, thus potentially compromising the welfare of the incapable person. That is a fact.

We have found that the existence of the advocate under the existing law is costly. Each meeting with an advocate is estimated to cost about $300.

We have felt that often the advocate is ineffective, given the ability of the individual, the disabled person, the person who needs assistance to comprehend the information is frequently limited or nonexistent by virtue of the mental incapacity. My friend from Fort York failed to comment on that.

It is possible that the involvement of the third party, the advocate -- and this is one of the most serious complaints that we heard, at least while our government was in opposition -- may exacerbate emotional distress for the individual and his or her family, or encourage irrational objections. That was one of the major concerns of the Advocacy Act and the Advocacy Commission. Yet my friend from Fort York failed to spend any time that I could hear of in the hour and a half -- and I've listened very carefully to him for an hour and a half -- talking on that topic.

We felt that the necessity of giving an independent third party has been questioned. There is no question, I'm sure, that the member for Fort York received similar concerns from caregivers, family and the legal profession that maintain it suggests distrust and represents an unnecessary duplication of services.

The Acting Speaker: The member for Fort York, you have two minutes to reply.

Mr Marchese: I thank the members for their responses. I thank my colleague the member for Hamilton Centre for his kind remarks and return to the enemy for the rest of the time.

Could all of these close to, approximately 150 deputations, community-based organizations be so wrong? Could 150 organizations be so wrong? The communities that are so well connected to vulnerable people, could they have been so out of whack, so out of contact with their communities that we would have to listen to these kinds of questions raised by the member for Dufferin-Peel?

The member for Brampton South says I'm no Father Sean O'Sullivan. He's absolutely right. My name is Mr Marchese from Fort York. He's absolutely right. Secondly, he says it's best to leave this work to families and not to government. I just don't understand that. For 15 years people have been saying they wanted what the NDP has put into place. They said that abuse happens in families. We have the statistics to prove it. They said: "The volunteers who are in place are not enough. We want governments to do their job." Father Sean O'Sullivan said as much. You should not get yourselves out of the way as a government. You should be directly implicated and not leave the abuse to continue to happen and not leave it to volunteers who don't have the means to deal with it.

The member for Dufferin-Peel talks about cost, the cost of $300 to be with an advocate. Is that what it's all about? Did you not learn a thing from all of those deputations and all those community-based organizations? Is that your concern? You say they're ineffective. That's completely untrue.

The member for Mississauga South, you should know better. Nine of those 17 people came from the community, well connected to those communities. I'm surprised at you --

The Acting Speaker: Thank you. Your time has expired. Please take your chair. The member for Scarborough-Ellesmere.

Hon Marilyn Mushinski (Minister of Citizenship, Culture and Recreation): I want to add some words of support for the legislation that my colleague the Attorney General has tabled for third reading.

Let me start off by saying that I have no doubt the previous government did have the best intentions when it created the Advocacy Act, the Substitute Decisions Act and the Consent to Treatment Act. These three pieces of legislation, however, raised concerns that I think are both compelling and serious.

If one thing became clear during the committee hearings on Bill 19, it is that many people in this province care very deeply about vulnerable adults in Ontario and that they have some means of acting on their wishes and their rights. But the best intentions can lead to unworkable legislation. The people of Ontario, especially the most vulnerable people in Ontario, deserve better.

One thing that I believe every person in this House can agree on is the need to focus support where it is needed. Let me assure you that I have very strong personal feelings on this issue. Like many of you who served on the Bill 19 committee, I have become quite familiar with the sentiments expressed by Father Sean O'Sullivan in his 1987 report, You've got a Friend. Father O'Sullivan asked us all to get involved. He said: "Ontarians need to be advocates. Most of us already are. We can do more. If we are to improve our society, we must."

Governments must be accountable to the people they represent, including those who are most vulnerable. But as Father O'Sullivan recognized, "When a government takes action, it must be grounded in reality." That is the flaw in the previous government's legislation. If a government program is going to be effective, it must take into account the realistic needs and demands of the people who have to live with it. I believe this is particularly true in the area of support for vulnerable adults.

The previous government clearly took this issue seriously. What else could have driven them to implement an unwieldy piece of legislation like the Advocacy Act? But clearly, the act did not take into account the subtlety and diversity of the challenges facing vulnerable adults. It showed a certain disregard for large parts of the existing network, including many of the supports provided by families and volunteers. Instead of working with these groups of people and building on the services that they already provide, it attempted to duplicate them with an expensive and inefficient government-funded agency of professional advocates.

Father O'Sullivan wisely recognized the importance of families and volunteers. "Primary responsibility for advocacy," he said, "must remain with us as individual citizens, as families...as neighbours of Ontario's vulnerable population." From this perspective, I think it becomes clear that government should concern itself with the most effective ways it can to support that network of caring people, not replace it.

Ontarians have always shown enormous compassion for vulnerable adults. During the public hearings on Bill 19, that compassion, along with Ontarians' determination, energy and expertise, was clearly evident. The interests of vulnerable adults had gained a great deal of momentum, particularly over the last decade. There is now a large pool of accumulated experience and expertise. What government should be most concerned with now is how to effectively support that experience and allow it to be shared for every Ontarian.


During the election campaign and since becoming minister, I've had the opportunity to speak with many families and caregivers. I continue to be impressed and moved by the depth of commitment that all Ontarians across this province share in finding ways to support the interests of vulnerable adults and reduce the incidence of abuse and neglect. This government's approach, which I will be announcing in the next few weeks, will address these issues.

A number of points have been made time and time again throughout this process, not infrequently by the members opposite. To me, these points reflect the core concerns of this issue for all of us. We need community-based solutions that build on, not duplicate, the good work already being done. That means the system must add something rather than just duplicating things that are already being provided.

In the end, Father O'Sullivan concluded that an effective advocacy system would involve a sharing of responsibility between the people of the province and their government. This government listened carefully to the presenters who appeared before the standing committee on Bill 19 and the many individuals who have provided input on the role the province should have in supporting the dignity and autonomy of vulnerable adults. We have heard very clearly that there is a need for improvements in several areas, including finding ways to direct people to information or expertise they have not been able to locate in their communities; coordinating education and training; and developing better links between people and groups providing services to vulnerable adults.

Let me assure all members of this House that this government does recognize the role that government can play and, like Father O'Sullivan, we also recognize the limits to what government can do. Establishing a new and complex bureaucracy is not a good way to address the challenge. An $18-million Advocacy Commission did not resolve many of the concerns of vulnerable adults. Indeed, in its first few months of operation, the commission worked its way through $5 million worth of public money without making an appreciable difference in the lives of vulnerable adults in Ontario, which just goes to show that money alone does not solve problems. Caring and dedicated people do.

Perhaps this was the biggest weakness of the previous government's approach. It did not embrace two of the most vital components of any system designed to address the needs of vulnerable people. It did not promote cooperation and it did not enhance the role of the system's most valuable contributors -- families and volunteers. At some point, bureaucracy must give way to the heart and the soul of services for vulnerable adults, that is, caring volunteers. Our government and my ministry will call on the strength of our families, the knowhow of the people in the network of agencies and services in communities across Ontario, and the dedication of health care professionals.

Bill 19 is a necessary step. As Minister of Citizenship, Culture and Recreation, I look forward to its passage and to the day when the compassion and determination of Ontarians in communities all across this province more effectively and efficiently address the needs and concerns of our most vulnerable citizens.

The Acting Speaker: Questions or comments?

Mrs Elinor Caplan (Oriole): I will be participating in this debate later this afternoon, but I must say to the minister, the comment I would make and the question I would ask of her is, where is your legislation? I remember during the election campaign participating in a TV program with the now Attorney General, on this very issue and on others, where there was a recognition that legislation was necessary and required. To put action to the fine words that she says, I think the expectation is that there will be legislation, and yet we know from the direction that the minister has given to her advisory committee that it is not her intention to bring forward legislation.

I would say to her that she refers to the work of Father Sean O'Sullivan, she refers to the issue of advocacy in particular, and we know that over the course of time, for those who say that Father O'Sullivan said, "Leave it to friends and family," that is not what he said. The minister knows that; the member for Brampton South knows that.

Father Sean O'Sullivan called for a shared advocacy model. He said very clearly that there is a role for government, there is a role for friends and there is a role for family. There's a role for those organizations and community groups that traditionally, with very few resources, have been looking after those who are subject to abuse, whether they are in institutions or whether they are in their own homes or whether they are vulnerable in the community and homeless.

For anyone to suggest that the minister's fine words will be turned into any kind of action by this government, I would say that I am very sceptical. In fact they were fine words; I agreed with everything that she had to say. But the comment that I would make is that if she means it, let her bring forward legislation.

Mrs Marion Boyd (London Centre): Building on what my colleague the member for Oriole said, let's read what Father Sean O'Sullivan actually said on page 8 of his report.

"The implementation of shared advocacy will occur over a period of two to three years. The first step is the establishment of a provincial advocacy commission with a clear mandate to provide non-legal advocacy services to vulnerable people residing in all institutions and care facilities and in the community.

"Responsibility for the provincial program is vested in an independent advocacy commission which is to be appointed by the Lieutenant Governor in Council. The commission will report to the Legislature through the Attorney General or a redesignated standing committee on the Ombudsman and advocacy.

"Legislation should be developed which also contains clear statutory authority for trained and certified advocates to have access to institutions and care facilities where vulnerable adults reside, and, in the case of those living in the community, the right to meet in private.

"The legislation should also provide authority for certified advocates to have access, with the consent of the patient, to the patient's medical and treatment records.

"The commission would maintain a small central office with staff experienced in the following areas: training and education, the needs and concerns of frail elderly, developmentally disabled, psychiatrically disabled and physically handicapped persons, and relevant legal issues.

"Direct advocacy services would be provided through regional offices covering the province and through local advocacy programs."

Every time this government gets up and invokes the name of Father Sean O'Sullivan, they should be ashamed. He did not say what they say he said. He said very clearly that, yes, family and friends and volunteers are needed to be part of the picture, but we need legislation. We need an independent advocacy commission, and we need trained advocates who can have access to institutions, have access to patient records, and that is the only way we will be able to ensure that the vulnerable in our community are safe.

Mrs Marland: That's the whole point, I would say to the previous speaker from London: Volunteers have to be part of the picture. But what the opposition has never been able to understand is that as soon as you start paying people to advocate, then you discourage those people who previously advocated as volunteers.

It's very interesting, because the people who refer to Father Sean O'Sullivan are the people who, in my opinion, have manipulated the vulnerable people of this province. Those of us who have sat in this House and seen these people brought to the members' gallery, paraded in with different problems and different challenges and used publicly to make a point that they wanted to make in arguing for advocacy of individuals -- the access to records with the consent of a patient: What about a patient who isn't able to give consent? I'm sorry, do you really want to give that access to personal medical records of a patient when the patient isn't able to give the consent to someone who is a paid advocate who couldn't even describe what the job and the responsibility was about, for whom there was no specific training laid out, no job description laid out? Yet they're saying that access to records of a patient would have been okay. My goodness. If it wasn't so serious, it could almost have been many situations that would have been truly heartbreaking if it had gone ahead.


Mr Marchese: First of all, to the Minister: Father Sean O'Sullivan said the following, "Primary responsibility for advocacy education, and the development and support of advocacy services is the proper role of government." Why do you take whatever he's said in vain? Why do you distort things so badly? Why do you deliberately do that? It wouldn't be so bad if some of you were so innocent and didn't have a clue, but some of you have experience. It is embarrassing.

He said the following as well, "The evidence presented to the review identified a clear need for a coordinated and effective advocacy system in Ontario." He said there is no coordination out there. The government needs to coordinate it, not volunteers, not family and not friends. It's the government. So what you have done --

Mr Tilson: It didn't work.

Mr Marchese: "Didn't work"? Mr Tilson, please. You have been here so long, you and the member for Mississauga South, that your comments are almost offensive. The commission had barely began to do its work. They were only there for four or five months and you tell me it didn't work?

You reform people, reform-minded politicians were not listening. It's not so bad that you don't listen to me. You did not listen to the countless organizations that are well rooted in their communities. That's what's wrong. I don't mind if you don't listen to me, I understand that, but that you should smile when I say that, Madam Minister, and smile at the fact that you have said no to the countless deputations that said, "Don't to do it; it's wrong," is a shame.

To the member for Mississauga South, who has had so many years of experience in the field, her remarks offend me deeply. Volunteers cannot do the job; they cannot. It's governments that do the job of advocacy.

The Acting Speaker: Minister, you have two minutes to reply.

Hon Ms Mushinski: I find it curious how the honourable member for Fort York can comment so much on my speech, given that he missed three quarters of it.

Certainly, in response to the member for Oriole --

Mr Marchese: What did I miss?

Hon Ms Mushinski: I guess none of the members opposite took the time to read my July 26, 1995, news release, where I clearly announced that the new plan that we would be bringing forward after consultation with the community would be non-legislative. The public has known since July 26, 1995, that it would be non-legislative. Let me repeat again that we agree that it is the role of this government to be involved in protecting the rights and dignity of vulnerable adults. As I suggested in my speech, I will be announcing the plans for the framework within which to do that and to ensure that, rather than continuing to berate this government for all its efforts to involve all the volunteers and all the families I feel have been insulted personally by the member for Fort York today.

The Acting Speaker: Further debate?

Mr Michael A. Brown (Algoma-Manitoulin): As we come before the House today to talk about Bill 19, it's interesting, and I think maybe I'm in the twilight zone as I listen to what's being said by both the New Democrats and the government.

I sat through committee hearings on this bill for some number of weeks. I sat through with the member for Ottawa East, the member for Timiskaming and the member for Oriole, listening to people make presentations. One would believe, if you listened to the debate so far, that this was strictly about whether the Advocacy Commission will remain in place. The government's made that decision -- it will not remain in place -- but it has not made the important decision, what will replace it? We on this side find that to be incomprehensible.

There is a need. We listened to group after group come before us and talk about vulnerable people. We listened to them talk about how they had difficulty making their wishes known, how the system did not always support them, how the system did not always help them have control of their own lives. It was compelling testimony. You could not sit in those committee chairs and not be moved by the stories we heard from individuals and from groups about how there is a need to advocate on behalf of vulnerable individuals.

While the model the previous government put in place I don't think was the correct model, it is not good enough to say that nothing should replace it. It is just not good enough. We've heard a commitment from the government, and we will be watching very carefully over the next few weeks to months to see the announcements they intend to make on how that advocacy can continue.

But having said that about the Advocacy Commission, we should maybe tell people that this involved much more than that. This is a very complex bill, a very legalistic bill, that will affect Ontario and Ontario's families for many years. People should know that it also affects the Consent to Treatment Act, the Substitute Decisions Act and many other acts in this province.

I want to speak for a minute about the Substitute Decisions Act and the living will idea that this group of bills puts into place. As a constituency politician over the last eight or nine years, I don't think I have ever had more demand than for the kit for people to make their power of attorney. The demand was unbelievable. We were always requesting the government to have more kits distributed to our office, because it was absolutely incredible, the public interest and the public demand for these particular documents which permitted people to make their own wishes known in a format that was readily available.

I think one of the things we need to be telling people is that those forms they filled out and those wishes they addressed will remain in place, that it is not necessary for them to go out and do this all over again. It's very important that we get this message out. I know the people who were very interested across my constituency don't need one more thing to worry about. Often, people are concerned when a bill like this comes forward: "Oh, no. I thought I'd got it right two years ago, and I'm going to have to go do this whole thing again."

I sat through the committee hearings back in 1992 or 1993 when we went through this bill for the first time, and I remember the great interest of the now Minister of Consumer and Commercial Relations in the whole area of living wills. As a matter of fact, he put forward to this Legislature a private member's bill, I believe probably on a number of occasions, but the last time in about 1991, in which he advocated for this. The Conservative Party during those hearings in 1992 -- that was their interest. Their interest was to make sure that powers of attorney for care and for personal decisions could be put forward; in other words, living wills.


As Mr Sterling -- that's what he was interested in. He was not terribly interested in the other parts of the bill, and that's fair enough. That's why he was there; he was there to make sure that we got the powers of attorney for personal care and treatment taken care of.

I just wonder whether anybody over in the Conservative caucus really understood the rest of this bill. I don't recall whether they voted against it in 1992 or not. They may have; I just don't remember. But they were focused on a single issue in this, what we used to call the advocacy package. I would just call on the minister to come forward with their plan, with their legislation, because the vulnerable people, it's clear, need some government involvement and it's not enough just to criticize a former government; you must, in my view, put forward your own system, your own plan and your own legislation.

I think about the people at Club 90 in Elliot Lake, for example. I think about those folks in my own constituency who have told me there is a need for advocacy, there is a need for people to be looked after. Unless the government moves forward as it said it would -- and we will be watching -- quickly, this whole plan or this whole event of just repealing one part of it and fixing a number of other parts that I agree needed fixing is just not enough and it's not the Ontario that any of us want to live in.

With that, I will sit down and wish to hear comments from other members.

The Acting Speaker: Questions or comments?

Mrs Caplan: I'd like to start by complimenting my colleague, not only for his thoughtful comments today but for the excellent work that he did on committee. I think his understanding of the issues and his appropriate challenges of the government position resulted in the government bringing forward some amendments that, as was described to me, actually knocked some of the rough edges off this piece of legislation.

Mr Brown, the member for Algoma-Manitoulin, was an excellent contributor on the committee. I think his thoughtfulness, his understanding and his important advocacy on behalf of his constituents enhanced the experience that I had at the committee. I wanted to make those comments because we don't often have an opportunity to let people know the work that members do on committee and I think Mr Brown's constituents would be and should be very proud of the contribution that he made at committee dealing with advocacy, substitute decisions and consent to treatment. The issues are very complex and I know that he at all times had the best interests of his constituents when he was making his presentation before the committee.

I conclude the few minutes by saying congratulations to Mr Brown and thank you to him for the important work that he did on this piece of legislation.

Mrs Boyd: I too worked with the member for Algoma-Manitoulin on the committee and I want him to know that I really appreciated the care with which he listened to people who came in front of the committee. It reflects what he said about the worry he has about his own constituents. This is about people; this is about vulnerable people; this is about people who are in a position where they may never have been capable of making their own decisions, and where they have been capable but have gradually or suddenly lost that capacity. It is very important for us to be very clear that where people are in that kind of situation, their feelings of vulnerability, their very real vulnerability needs to be taken into account by all of us. We as members of the Legislature are here on behalf of all citizens, but no more so than on behalf of those who are most vulnerable and who cannot speak for themselves.

The issue around the Advocacy Act and the issue around rights advice, the issue around what is told to people and how they are informed about their rights throughout these three bills are extraordinarily important to their feelings of confidence, that we as a community respect them, that we will not allow medical treatments or acts of change to their property to go ahead without due process; without their, first of all, being informed that they are incapable and then knowing that they have rights of appeal. That is the crux of this matter.

Certainly my colleague Mr Brown was very active in trying to get across to the government the need to replace the Advocacy Act and mandatory rights advice with something in this act. Unfortunately, although they may have heeded him on some things, they did not heed him on that.

Mr Tilson: Just a few comments on the remarks made by the member for Algoma-Manitoulin: Many members, particularly in the opposition, have said, what is the Advocacy Commission going to be replaced with? I think that was one of the issues that was raised by the member for Algoma-Manitoulin, and I hope he's not suggesting another commission. I hope that's not what he's suggesting, because our belief was that the current philosophy, that was put forward by the NDP, was that they were going to interfere. The government was going to come in and do things, whether you wanted it or whether you didn't want it, and that's why all those kits were obtained. Every member of the previous government gave away thousands upon thousands of those kits for powers of attorney. And why? Because people were terrified. They were terrified that government was going to come in and interfere with their estate. That's why that happened.

I can tell you that our government believes --


Mr Tilson: Well, you're agreeing with me, but I'll tell you, that's why our government believes that the government should only intervene as a last resort. Members of the family, friends, people who are appointed under guardianship, those are the people who should be assisting people who need assistance. The government should only come in when there's no one else. I hope the member isn't suggesting that we should do what the former NDP government did and create a commission. They created a commission for everything.

I'm telling you that the intent of this legislation is to use the government to assist people only as a last resort and to act in situations where guardians or others who are acting inappropriately can come along and take action against those particular people, and that's the sole reason why we've brought forward this legislation.

Mr John Gerretsen (Kingston and The Islands): I would just like to talk about the last issue that the last speaker talked about, and Mr Brown as well, and that deals with respect to the whole notion of powers of attorney etc. Having worked in this area for some 25 years, I can attest to what both of these gentlemen are talking about to the extent that during about a six-month period of time -- and I don't know whether it was the result of misinformation or whether it was the result of erroneous information -- people somehow got the impression that if they did not have a power of attorney and if something were to happen to them, somehow the government would just walk right in and take over. That was the common perception out there.

I don't want to get into any finger-pointing as to whether or not it was the fault of the former government or whether or not it was an inadequate method in which they distributed the information to people etc; I really don't want to get involved in that. But it really addresses the one issue, and that is, no matter what government does, no matter what new activity it gets involved in or what new methods of doing things it's advocating etc, the information that is given to the general public must be accurate and correct.

Whatever happened the last time around, the general public, which isn't as knowledgeable about these matters as either the professionals or the people who deal with making laws, as we are in this body, was left with the impression that if they did not have a power of attorney and if something were to happen to them, the government would step in unilaterally and take over. I know that was not the case and so does just about everybody here. Information about new programs has to be sent out to people in a direct, unobtrusive fashion so they know where their rights stand and how they're going to be affected.


The Acting Speaker: The member for Algoma-Manitoulin, you have two minutes to reply.

Mr Michael Brown: I appreciate the comments from the members for Oriole, London Centre, Kingston and The Islands and Dufferin-Peel. I appreciate the comments about the powers of attorney. I think Mr Tilson, however, exaggerates. There was an element of fear, but there was also a sincere desire for people to have their own wishes carried out in the manner in which they wished them to be carried out. In my constituency office, I would think that was the primary motivation for people requesting the kits.

Fear, unfortunately, was there. I don't know where it started; it was exaggerated. But there were some problems. Hopefully, the new legislation addresses those, and I think those problems have been addressed. But I would tell people, I think it's a good idea to have a power of attorney. I don't think you should be afraid if you don't have it, it's not the end of the world, but it allows you to express your own wishes about how you wish to live your life. That makes perfect sense to me and should to most Ontarians.

I appreciate the other comments. This is a very complex bill, and you will not have gotten even the technical parts perfect. I think they're an improvement, but they aren't perfect. The member for Oriole presented tens, possibly as many as a hundred amendments to this bill in an attempt to fix the parts that would be difficult. Some of our amendments, very few, were accepted. It's important, however, to remember that governments will probably be revisiting this issue again.

The Acting Speaker (Ms Marilyn Churley): Further debate?

Mr Tony Martin (Sault Ste Marie): I really appreciate the opportunity today to put a few thoughts on the record re this really important piece of work happening within this Legislature, to raise some red flags and caution and to share with the people here some of what I'm hearing back home in my own community.

I hope to help some of the folks out there, by some of the things I will say, understand why this is a bad piece of legislation. If they don't understand the technical aspects of it or understand that for the last year and a half they've been coming into offices and getting packages of documents to fill out forms that fit into a piece of legislation we had passed, and now all of a sudden the whole thing is going to be changed, they should at least in the pit of their stomach recognize there's something definitely wrong going on here and should be raising some alarm and asking some questions. They should understand, if we're not able to stop this piece of legislation, that when it finally unfolds and comes into play they've lost some very valuable institutions and opportunities to challenge systems and to get what's rightfully coming to them or to protect rights they have, or even to protect their very person.

I don't want to get into a very technical discussion today, because others have done that and others will do that. Rosario Marchese, the member for Fort York, has very eloquently spoken in detail of some of the concerns re this piece of legislation and what it will undo and how it will take us back when we were beginning to move forward and make some progress.

I want today to first of all give some kudos to the United Steelworkers of America. I yesterday spent a good part of the day at a workshop they put on around the question of racism and anti-racism in the province and their concern, their very real concern, about these issues and about any attack on vulnerable people. By way of setting a context within which this piece of legislation is coming to the fore that will help us understand how it even is consistent with what this government has been doing and continues to do to the most vulnerable among us, I want to share with you some thoughts that were put on the record by the Steelworkers who came in front of this committee as it went around the province in the intersession to hear from people and to help them put their concern and understanding of what was happening on the record. It goes like this:

"We know what it's like," the Steelworkers say, "to have in place an effective and very powerful advocate on behalf of working people. We look to our union to defend us, to assist us, to speak for us, to educate us, to empower us, to ensure our dignity, our safety at work, our rights, and to better our daily working lives." That helps us to understand the need for advocacy and it sounds awfully familiar to me as I worked with my colleagues and others in trying to put in place the bill that we brought forward so proudly when we were in government.

"Finally, we also have an interest as ordinary human beings who live within families and communities.... Both of us...know people," as does everyone in this room, "who are developmentally disabled, who are psychiatrically disabled, who are physically disabled, who have terminal diseases, who are elderly and frail, who live in institutions, who are infirm or chronically ill.

"These are our friends, our family, our neighbours, our associates. Although we love and care for them, many of us live impossibly busy lives" and are often "unable to meet their special needs or be there when they need us. That helps us, I think, to understand the urgency of advocacy...."

I couldn't have said it better myself.

In Ontario today, there are more vulnerable people than ever before, and by the time this government is finished, that will even have doubled and quadrupled. Most estimates range as high as half a million. We think our society should be judged by how we treat these vulnerable members of our community. It's no secret that in our view, the record of the current Conservative government is nothing short of shocking. Let me list for you a few of the things you've done to attack very vulnerable people in this province, which speaks loudly and clearly to the need for some advocacy provision for those people supported by government and funded by government.

"Cutbacks to welfare payments have reduced the real income of thousands" of vulnerable people "who rely on general welfare or family benefits. User fees under the Ontario drug benefit plan have added a new cost for seniors and people with disabilities. The threat of a revised definition for disability leaves many anxious about their eligibility for pensions and access to dental, drug and extended health care plans.

"The repeal of the Employment Equity Act effectively puts an end to job opportunities and accessible workplaces for the disabled. Cutbacks to education have inevitably removed the money for assistants and assistive devices in the classroom. Cutbacks in legal aid threaten the rights and abuse protection relied upon by many disadvantaged people.

"Massive reductions in transfer payments have severely limited access to transportation for the disabled. The downloading of services and costs to municipalities has closed community programs designed to reach out to and integrate vulnerable people. Bed closures at psychiatric hospitals and institutions for the developmentally challenged have left many literally on the street in the absence of any community support.

"The cancellation of co-op and non-profit housing slammed the door on vulnerable people waiting for accessible and affordable accommodation. Cutbacks in emergency housing or shelters leave little room for seniors or people with disabilities who have been abused in an institution or in their own home.

"All of these government actions abandon, we feel, vulnerable people to marginal and unfulfilled lives, marked by poverty, isolation, unemployment, abuse and discrimination. Each government action, alone and collectively, is a mark of shame...."

Anybody out there who doesn't understand the real intent and purpose of this act needs only to put it in the context of the list that I've just read for you out of this submission by the United Steelworkers of America to understand that it is going to be hurtful, and it's going to be hurtful to those people in our communities out there who are least able to deal with it themselves.


And this is just the beginning. We've only been here about eight, nine months now, if that. This is just the beginning. These folks have another three and a half years left. If ever this province needed to have in place a strong advocacy voice for those who are most vulnerable among us, it is now and in the next two or three years. You're taking that way and you blame it on the cost in some ways. Well, the cost to people, the cost to human lives, when you stack it up against the minimal cost to have in place an Advocacy Commission, it just pales in comparison.

I end there. I wanted to put those thoughts on the record. They're really important and I think that people need to really understand that all of the things that this government is doing, including this piece of legislation, is targeted directly at those who are most vulnerable in the province of Ontario today.

The Acting Speaker: Questions or comments?

Mr Christopherson: I would just like to mention very briefly that my honourable colleague from Sault Ste Marie talked about a workshop that he attended with the United Steelworkers. I think it needs to be said very clearly that the labour movement in Ontario has a very proud history of being on the cutting edge of fighting for issues, not only at the bargaining table but also matters of human rights and other issues of importance to ordinary working people who, quite frankly, do not have the same means as others who are very wealthy and who have a lot of money who can hire all the kinds of care that they need.

We always need to recognize and remember that the labour movement has played a crucial role in fighting for the rights of people who are not necessarily their dues-paying members and that they're not this evil entity that the government likes to portray when it suits its cause, like now during the OPSEU strike.

I, for one, as a former union member and union leader, have been active in the labour movement, long before I got into public life, and know very much the proud history that the labour movement has in these areas. I think it's important that Tony Martin today took the opportunity to put the work of the Steelworkers on the record so the people of Ontario can recognize the benefit the labour movement has made to issues that are of importance to all Ontarians in terms of their rights. I want to thank him for doing that on behalf of the labour movement and those people who have contributed.

The Acting Speaker: Further questions or comments? Seeing none, would the member for Sault Ste Marie like to sum up?

Mr Martin: I just want to thank my colleague for his comments and support of what I said and certainly his support of the United Steelworkers of America. Certainly in Sault Ste Marie they have been a very progressive force and I'm always wanting to sit up and pay attention when they speak. The presentation that they made to this committee is consistent and in keeping with the very excellent work that they do as they speak out on behalf of people in our communities, working people, poor people, vulnerable people, and to give them voice, a voice that they often have a hard time finding.

Yesterday at the Steelworkers' hall in Sault Ste Marie it was the third anniversary of a day that they organized to focus on the question of racism and to have speeches given by various and sundry people from across our community, leaders and others from various organizations to speak on the question of how today even yet we still have to struggle with that question, which certainly contributes to the need for us in our community to have some method of advocating on behalf of those who become targets.

The Steelworkers have done some really excellent things in Sault Ste Marie. When we were in difficulty as a community in the early days of the city, they set up a credit union. When we had difficulty getting health care for ordinary folks and for workers in Sault Ste Marie for a myriad of reasons, they set up the Group Health Centre. For the last three years in the Sault they've organized these forums on anti-racism and have highlighted the need for all of us to be concerned and to pay attention. As well, they consistently presented a wonderful brief to this committee and I would hope that the folks out there would pay attention and listen and speak to their members about this piece of legislation.

The Acting Speaker: Further debate?

Mr John L. Parker (York East): I am pleased to join this debate today to register my strong support for Bill 19, which is now before this House for third reading. This legislation will streamline and simplify the current law and will eliminate unwarranted government intrusion in the lives of vulnerable and incapable people, and those who care for them and those who care about them. As you know, the Health Care Consent Act, an important part of Bill 19, replaces the Consent to Treatment Act which was enacted by the former government. It is to these provisions of the bill that I intend to confine my brief remarks this afternoon.

It is not my intention to rail on about the flaws and inadequacies of the existing act. On the whole, I think it does many good things and addresses some important concerns. But it was clear to us, and it was clear to the people who administer the act's provisions day by day, and it was clear to the thousands of people who are affected by these provisions and who wrote to the government and phoned our offices, that there are serious flaws in the Consent to Treatment Act. It is to address these concerns and to correct these flaws that this government, through Bill 19, is replacing the Consent to Treatment Act with the Health Care Consent Act.

No one can argue with the overall objective of the Consent to Treatment Act. It was to establish clearly the right of capable Ontarians to make their own informed decisions about health treatment and to provide an effective mechanism for treatment decisions for those who are not capable. But one certainly can argue that these good intentions got translated in many areas into a set of extremely bureaucratic and confusing laws. Since the Consent to Treatment Act was proclaimed last spring, many of us have heard the stories of health practitioners or other caregivers and family members who have been unable to understand and work their way through the legislative red tape in their efforts to provide care to incapable patients or loved ones.

The result was that, for many, a visit to the hospital became akin to a visit to a courthouse, and questions of medical judgement and clinical advisability became subordinated to questions of legal evidence, procedure and authority.

The Consent to Treatment Act creates adversarial barriers between health care providers and families. It insists on state intervention that can, and did, lead to unnecessary delays in treatment, and in the end it has left some of those it sought to protect worse off than before. In vast numbers, the people of this province have told us that they find this unacceptable. As a government, we find it unacceptable. As lawmakers, it is our responsibility to make the necessary changes to legislation to ensure that it is clear and understandable to those who must work with it and acceptable to those who are affected by it. This is why we moved to repeal the Consent to Treatment Act and replace it with the Health Care Consent Act.

At this point I'd like to thank the many individuals and groups who appeared before the standing committee on administration of justice during the public hearings on Bill 19 just this past February and who offered concrete suggestions on how to improve the draft Health Care Consent Act. I'd also like to express my thanks to the opposition committee members and to my committee colleagues on the government side for their thoughtful recommendations and debate during the committee hearings and clause-by-clause review.

We did not always come to agreement, but I believe that each person in the process, each deponent who appeared before the committee and each member of the committee distinguished themselves by their demonstrated commitment to arrive at legislation which is at the same time good law as well as comprehensible and practical. I say "comprehensible" because getting the wording right and making the definitions clear is, I believe, one of the significant aspects in which the new legislation offers improvements over the existing law. It is not useful to have good legislation if the people who are required to operate under its provisions are in a chronic state of confusion and fear as to its meaning.

I'm pleased to report that, in my view, the system worked. The government has produced legislation which is a clear improvement over the law it replaces. The committee process assisted us in crafting modifications to the detail of the bill which add clarity, precision and in some cases important, substantive additions to its content. The result, I submit, is a much more realistic and workable consent framework than is provided under the current law, one which provides a much better balance between the rights of individuals and the need to provide prompt and appropriate care and treatment.


Let me take a few minutes to describe just a few of the more important components of this new framework.

First, the new act has removed the unwarranted government intrusion that has too often delayed timely treatment, including the controversial and counterproductive requirement for formal rights advice. It has always been our view that the Consent to Treatment Act provisions for rights notification and advice were overly repetitive, bureaucratic and adversarial. Instead, we believe there should be latitude for rights information to be discussed with sensitivity among health care professionals and their patients or clients and in an informal, unbureaucratic manner that best fits each individual situation. For this reason, the Health Care Consent Act mandates the governing body of each regulated health profession covered by the act to develop guidelines for its members in providing the appropriate information to people determined to be mentally incapable.

Let's be clear about one thing in all of this: The Health Care Consent Act, which the committee has brought before this House for third reading, creates a clear obligation on health care practitioners to abide by the guidelines established by their governing bodies concerning the provision of rights information to their patients. This provision illustrates the government's commitment to the principle of informed consent and personal rights and recognizes also the need for clinical concerns to be borne in mind in the handling of each particular case.

I might say it was a subject on which the minister specifically invited the committee's recommendations when he addressed the committee on February 5 and which received a considerable degree of attention during the committee process. I am pleased to note also that the provision which ultimately emerged from the committee was passed with the concurrence of both the government members and, I believe, the Liberal Party members on the committee.

Rights advice, by the way, will continue to be provided to inpatients of psychiatric facilities governed by the Mental Health Act. To respond to concerns we heard during the public hearings regarding potential conflict of interest, Bill 19 makes the appropriate amendment to that act to ensure that the person who is relied on to provide rights advice to a patient under that act shall be a person other than one who is directly involved in the provision of clinical care to that patient.

I've commented on the subject of the handling of rights advice as the first of the important changes made as a result of the new legislation. Second, I'm pleased to report that the new act puts more trust and power in the hands of families and friends in making decisions on behalf of their incapable relatives and loved ones. It gives family members much clearer and simpler rules for establishing legal authority to make decisions for their incapable loved ones without the obstructive and time-consuming interference of the state. No longer will family members be expected to make formal statements or sign an official form or undergo any sort of bureaucratic formality confirming their authority to make decisions for their incapable loved ones. As so many people pleaded with us to do, we have made it clear that the state is the decision-maker of last resort only.

Third, we have provided further clarification of the definition of "treatment" in the act by excluding things like examinations and simple diagnostics. These changes will help to ensure that incapable people will get the prompt, effective care and attention they need without having to be subjected to the formal processes of the act for procedures carrying little or no risk.

Fourth, health care professionals will no longer be required to seek repeated consent from a substitute decision-maker in order to make minor adjustments to a treatment program for an incapable person. This is a significant improvement from the current situation, which proved to be confusing, intimidating and frustrating to health care professionals, front-line care providers and family members who wanted most of all to provide the required care to those who needed it.

Lastly, besides these improvements, we've also introduced two new additions to the consent framework: a more workable process for admitting an incapable person into a long-term-care facility, and a process for dealing with decisions about personal assistance services for incapable people that might arise in such facilities or in community care settings.

At the same time, we have preserved and in some cases strengthened that which was good in the legislation of the previous government. The new act will continue to require that a person's own wishes, such as those expressed in a living will or other advance directive, will be honoured. Unique provisions are preserved and improved to allow for special instructions to be given by those who experience cycles of competence and incompetence.

In preserving, expanding and improving the fundamental principles of the previous legislation in the form of the Health Care Consent Act, in this new bill, in the manner in which I have summarized this afternoon, some of our most vulnerable citizens and their families will now have the benefit of a recognized process for obtaining consent, which is when such consent is required. Family members will not need to go through the costly, bureaucratic, time-consuming and frankly pointless exercise of applying for formal guardianship.

We are proud of this new legislation. We believe it now enjoys wide support among health care professionals, health care providers, families and the general public. Certainly, that's my own view after three weeks of full and open public hearings on the matter, in which I participated as a member of the standing committee on administration of justice.

In short, the Health Care Consent Act recognizes the inherent trust that people of this province have for their health care providers; it strengthens the role of the family; it eliminates needless delays in the treatment and care of incapable people; and it provides further protection to vulnerable people by expanding the treatment consent framework to long-care admissions and to personal assistance services.

As I said earlier, the Health Care Consent Act simplifies and streamlines the existing consent laws. Overall, I suggest that it provides a better balance between individual rights and the need for timely and effective care and treatment.

The Acting Speaker: Questions or comments? Seeing none, further debate?

Mr David Ramsay (Timiskaming): Because of the lateness of the hour, I'd just like to make a couple of comments and allow the two critics in the opposition parties who have been carrying this bill, the member for Oriole and the member for London Centre, the remaining time.

As other colleagues from all parties, I think February was a very valuable month spent in travelling and in the public hearings and listening to the people of Ontario and what they had to say about this Bill 19. The amount of interest, the energy and the enthusiasm that people put in to give any input to us have surprised me, quite frankly. I must say in some of these matters the government listened. There were other opposition amendments, though, that did not get passed, and we would hope that at a later date they will do that.

The main thing I would want to say is that from our side we feel very sorry that the government has decided to repeal the Advocacy Act, which means to dismantle the Advocacy Commission, without putting in some sort of replacement.

It's very important that we do have advocacy in Ontario. It's very sort of Pollyannian for the government to believe that it's in a perfect world and that family and friends can take care of all the advocacy it needs of the people of Ontario. I wish that were the case, but I'm afraid we heard too many examples of where there needs to be some sort of structure to provide advocacy.

I think there are some criteria that the government needs to understand need to be there for that. It's very important that we have a coordinated effort, it's very important that there be training for the people who provide the advocacy, and also, in the end, that there's accountability. It's very important that Ontarians can be assured that where family and friends, for whatever reason, are unable to provide or incapable of providing the proper advocacy work for relatives and friends, there is some structure there. I would call upon the government to bring that in.

One area that also is missing, the last thing I'd like to say about this bill, is that I've very concerned that there isn't mandatory rights advice in the Consent to Treatment Act. I think it's very important that if somebody is declared incapable, they are informed in the appropriate time that they have the right to appeal that decision and that they can go before the Consent and Capacity Board with a request for an appeal. I think it's extremely important that people know that right, because it does say in the bill that if the health care practitioner is to proceed with a treatment but knows that the patient who's been deemed to be incapable may appeal to the board, then treatment cannot proceed. Therefore, I think it would be important that the person know they have that right to appeal.

I would ask the government to look at those and that when it does bring in, I hope, some sort of advocacy legislation in the coming years of its term, it also look at that.


Mrs Boyd: We've talked a great deal about the experience that we had for the four weeks where we were hearing presentations and going through clause-by-clause on this act. It sometimes feels to us on this side of the House that we must have been in a different room than our colleagues across the way, because indeed we heard again and again from people how important a safeguard the Advocacy Act was for all of the provisions in the Substitute Decisions Act and the Health Care Consent Act. We heard how important it was to people who are vulnerable -- not the people who have power over those who are vulnerable, not the health care professionals, not the hospital administrators, not the family and friends, those who are in a position of power when someone is vulnerable and has been deemed to be incapable -- from the vulnerable themselves.

We heard, for example, from the people who are doing advocacy on behalf of the Ministry of Community and Social Services for the developmentally delayed, the advocates in the ministry. I would like to read from their presentation:

"The Consent to Treatment Act and Substitute Decisions Act were passed unanimously in December of 1992" -- and let's remember that, unanimously in 1992 -- "with a safeguard in place for the vulnerable people whose lives would be affected. This safeguard was the Advocacy Act. It can be reasonably assumed that if the Advocacy Act had not been a part of the package with the Substitute Decisions Act and the Consent to Treatment Act, the government would have been under extreme pressure to not pass these two bills in isolation."

I want to say in this place and make sure it's on the record that our government at that time would not have considered putting the Substitute Decisions Act and the Consent to Treatment Act in place without the protections offered by the Advocacy Act.

One of the realities about the need for the Advocacy Act is represented by this document that was tabled with our committee. This is a compendium of inquest results, inquest recommendations. We heard about Father Sean O'Sullivan earlier. Father Sean O'Sullivan got the task of looking at this whole issue because of inquest reports that were saying people had died. People had died at the hands of their caregivers. People had died as a result of a lack of advocacy on their part. It was the real horrors of what happens to vulnerable people when they are not fortunate enough to have a loving family or supportive friends that are really the issue here in this whole matter.

Without the Advocacy Act there was one possibility, just one possibility, that in fact the rights of the vulnerable might be protected. That would have been if the government had heeded the pleas, repeated again and again, of those who came in front of us to at least require that rights advice be given to someone, to require that a person who is deemed to be incapable of making their own decisions would be told that they'd been deemed incapable of making those decisions, would be told what the avenue of appeal would be, would be made aware of the due process that could protect them from those who might wish to make decisions they would not have chosen.

Again and again we pleaded with government members to require health care professionals, to require substitute decision-makers to inform the incapable person that they had been found incapable. Again and again the government said no. They said no because of a very powerful lobby, and I would suggest that lobby came largely from physicians. We heard the OMA and the College of Physicians and Surgeons make impassioned appeals about how it would destroy their relationship with their patients if they had to give their patients the information about being incapable and the information about their right to appeal. We heard equally strong comments from those who work under the Mental Health Act who said that in fact the requirement under the Mental Health Act that they tell people they're incapable and that they tell them the means of appeal formed a stronger bond between them and their patients.

What we have is a situation where this government listened to those powerful physicians who did not believe that their patients ought to be told that they'd been found incapable, who did not want to do that task, had objected to having independent rights advisers do that task and who wanted basically to do whatever they wanted, without any checks or balances, and this government gave them their way.

This government put into the act an amendment, which carried -- and I may say my Liberal friends allowed it to carry as well -- saying: "The health practitioner shall, in the circumstances and manner specified in guidelines established by the governing body of the health practitioner's profession, provide to persons found by the health practitioner to be incapable with respect to treatment such information about the consequences of the findings as are specified in the guidelines." In other words, physicians, nurses, all of the registered health professions, were given the opportunity to simply make a decision among themselves what, if any, information is to be given to an incapable person and how that information would be conveyed.

There are many who have accused me of being anti-physician or anti-health-care-provider when I suggest to you that none of this legislation would have begun, none of the reports would have been necessary, had the health care professionals been appropriate in the first place. First of all, we're going to see them go away and come up with guidelines. There's nothing to say the government has to approve those guidelines; they simply will go away and do it themselves. Then we're to trust that the colleges will discipline those who do not follow the guidelines.

Who is going to object? How are they going to know about the right to object? They won't have rights advice. These are vulnerable people who are incapable. How are they going to complain about the process?

What's more, we know how slowly grinds the scale of justice at the College of Physicians and Surgeons. One of the most despicable cases for vulnerable people in this province was at the Christopher Robin care home. The Christopher Robin situation took place years ago. There was an inquest result and the College of Physicians and Surgeons was to take disciplinary action against those who were implicated in that matter. They still have not done so, and those children have been dead literally for years. So I think when this government self-satisfiedly says that they're protecting the vulnerable, they patently are not, and it's very clear.

Let me just go through a few of the other things that happened during the course of our deliberations and straighten out the record a little bit.

Bill 19 removes the safeguards in the Substitute Decisions Act that prevented abuse in conflict-of-interest situations. This government's amendments will allow service providers to become the guardians of an incapable person's property, and that is not appropriate. It removes the requirement that someone be screened prior to becoming a guardian and allows any person who has stated an intention to make an application for guardianship to have access to people's private records, including their medical records.

It removes the requirements that guardians of property make regular financial statements, which would have prevented the abuse of an incapable person's property.

Bill 19 no longer prohibits substitute decision-makers from consenting on an incapable person's behalf to the use of electric shock or cattle prods as aversive treatment -- a very backward step and one that both opposition parties tried to at least get them to limit to some extent because of the possibility of abuse. An overwhelming number of witnesses suggested that the practice be at least limited by the Consent and Capacity Board or by the court prior to being allowed in this province.

I must say that in the Health Care Consent Act there are some real concerns as well. One of the major issues that was raised with us was the section of the act, part I, section 2, under the plan of treatment -- and it's on page 66 of the original act -- which said it "provides for the administration to the person of various treatments or courses of treatment and may, in addition, provide for the withholding or withdrawal of treatment in light of the person's current health condition."


I'm reading to you again from the protective service workers' brief: "This new act does nothing to protect developmentally challenged individuals from `do not resuscitate' orders. In the new legislation, there is no definition of `current health condition.' Is cerebral palsy a health condition? Is Down syndrome a health condition? If an individual has more than one diagnosis, including the condition of severe developmental handicap, does this indicate that the current health condition would be seen as worse than a person who is not severely handicapped? Are we opening the door to allowing euthanasia of vulnerable citizens who may be defined as not having the same value as others?"

That went on and on. We heard testimony from someone in London representing PUSH of southwestern Ontario that in fact the experience has been that people are routinely asked for "do not resuscitate" orders when they have other physical disabilities. We urged the government to try to come to grips with some way to prevent this very prejudicial treatment of people who are most vulnerable, and they did not.

We are saying to the vulnerable in this province that although this government had the capacity and had the opportunity to provide that kind of support and care, it did not.

Bill 19 removes all references to rights advisers and eliminates the requirement that rights advice be provided to a person found to be incapable. Witness after witness came before the committee and explained to the committee why the provision of rights advice is so very essential to the vulnerable. We listened to many witnesses who called on the government to reconsider its position and we also urged the government, if they were not prepared to have independent rights advisers, to make sure that the health professionals who were making the determination were forced to do that.

The Tories also removed the principles that were set out in the original bill. Again, the Tories ignored the recommendations of an inquest, a very recent inquest, an inquest that concluded while we were sitting. The Lonnie Clemens inquest jury recommendations suggested that the principles contained in the original bill be retained in the new legislation. These principles were deleted and those principles were that the right of the individual to make decisions should be respected to the greatest extent possible and that supportive family and friends and advocates should be available to support individuals in making their own decisions. In spite of an impassioned plea from Lonnie Clemens's parents and having in front of them the very recent recommendations of that inquest jury, this government did not respond positively.

We also heard out of that inquest and out of many of the proposals the need for the training of evaluators, capacity assessors and health professionals in the whole issue of assessing whether or not someone is capable. The government voted down amendment after amendment that would have required the various colleges of health professionals to provide that kind of education and training, even though the inquest recommendations pointed very clearly to the fact that Lonnie Clemens is dead largely because those health professionals involved had not been aware of all the issues around capacity assessment and around the whole issue of health consent.

We heard from witnesses like Judith Wahl of the Advocacy Centre for the Elderly that the government consider amendments which would require consent to all variations and adjustments to treatment. We tabled an amendment that would be that presumption to those treatments that the health practitioner advised were probable at the time of the original consent. We did that because of the fear of those who were vulnerable that their medications, their treatments, even their very setting might be changed without their consent. The government voted down those amendments.

Many witnesses said there had to be an amendment to provide that every effort was made to find an interpreter where communications issues arose, where the people were not able to communicate because of language or because of disability. It would have included such things as sign language, such things as the Bliss board and other ways of communicating. We introduced an amendment to this effect, and the government voted that amendment down.

The government made significant changes to the makeup of the Consent and Capacity Board. They are now allowing a one-person board to make a decision that affects the rest of a person's life. I suggest to you that this is one of the most serious matters in terms of the representations that we heard in front of the committee. The government's excuse is that it's difficult to get a board together in remote areas. All we are saying is, if it's difficult, then it's all the more important that that board be seen to be as arm's length and as unprejudiced as possible, and that confidence is not there among the disabled in this province.

As we went through this week, I think those of us who have worked with the disabled, who are close to disabled people, were often almost reduced to tears by the dignity and the clarity with which vulnerable people appearing in front of us expressed their vulnerability and begged government members to reconsider some of the actions being taken by this government.

It will be our job as opposition, unfortunately, to ask the questions and point out the tragedies that occur as a result of the foolish repeal of the Advocacy Act and the changes that are going to happen as a result of no rights advice being given to patients. It is going to be our job, I think, to continue to work with all groups of vulnerable people to ensure that those who are capable of giving a power of attorney at least are able to do so. It became very clear that further education is required among the general population, because the general population sees everybody else as vulnerable and forgets that all of us, as we age, become vulnerable, in addition to being vulnerable always to unexpected incidents. That will need to happen.

That will do nothing for those who are incapable of making a power of attorney. It will do nothing for the most vulnerable, who are now to be subjected, without any kind of check or balance, to the decisions of those who can make those decisions under this act.

The government has made clear that substitute decision-makers and health care professionals who act according to this act will be safe from any liability. So if we see the tragedies of the past, tragedies that have happened very often in care facilities -- tragedies like the disastrous insulin therapy that destroyed the minds of many individuals in the past, tragedies like the excessive use of electroshock therapy, which destroyed the ability of people to be independent and thinking human beings in the past, the kinds of aversive behaviourial modification treatments that were routinely used in our developmental handicapped facilities that, as we heard and have always heard from people first, have destroyed people's lives and their ability to be independent -- those treatments were advocated on behalf of or by health care professionals. They were treatments that were considered by health care professionals to be helpful at the time, and they are treatments that have proven over time to be very harmful.

I suggest to you that we will find again that many treatments will be allowed without any kind of recourse, under this act, to people who have no voice of their own because they are incapable right now of making a power of attorney form. That's where the tragedy lies. They are the most vulnerable in our province.


We have argued long and hard and we have pointed out to the Conservatives that they were part of the decision to put the act in place in the first place. We think it is a tragedy that this government has decided to listen to the words of those who are powerful and strong over those who are weak and vulnerable yet again. It is typical of the way this government operates. It constantly listens only to those who speak in a language that they are used to hearing, the language of power and privilege, and that has happened again.

The vast majority of the presentations that were made to our committee urged this government to retain protections that they very, very clearly were not prepared to think were important. Again and again we heard members of the committee say $18 million is too much to protect the rights of the most vulnerable. I would suggest to you that no amount of money is enough to protect the rights of the vulnerable, that these inquest results that were presented to us as a committee tell us that there are problems in our system and that we, as people who are making the laws of this province, are responsible for ensuring the safety and the health of vulnerable people.

This government has failed to do that despite all the efforts of the opposition parties. I hope you are ashamed as you pass this act, because you will find that there are many, many people in this province who will suffer as a result.

Mrs Caplan: As I rise to participate in this debate, I'd like to thank and congratulate the members of our caucus who participated and did I think excellent committee work.

I think Bill 19, about which most people would wonder, "What is this all about?" even listening to this debate and hearing so many diverse issues, is really three bills. The former government brought in those three bills and they were separate bills. There was the bill that dealt with the establishment of advocacy in Ontario, there was a bill that developed substitute decision legislation, and a bill for consent to treatment in health care. Those were three distinct bills.

Our caucus and our party supported the substitute decision legislation. It contains very clearly two distinct concepts. One is the new ability to have a power of attorney for personal care. It adds to the existing power of attorney for financial care, for financial and property decisions. What that is effectively is that someone, while they are able and capable, decides who will decide when they are incapable and unable to make decisions for themselves. We supported that; we support that today.

There have been very significant amendments to the substitute decision legislation. Frankly, I said at committee, I said at the time when the act was originally passed in this House, that while it was supportable, it was not perfect, and I would suggest to you that the substitute decision legislation still likely is not perfect. I think many of the technical amendments and some of the amendments that have been brought forward build upon the legislation that was brought forward by the New Democrats, and I believe it is supportable today, while not perfect.

I think we will continue to see changes to the substitute decision legislation over time, because that act is extremely important. Not only does it set out the regime for powers of attorney for both personal care and financial and property, but it also sets out the regime for guardianship. I don't think people realize that what guardianship means is that your life is taken over. It is very important that we know and understand what those roles are, that we know what the role of the public guardian and trustee is, and I don't think there was sufficient opportunity for us to fully understand the implications of guardianship in the province of Ontario, because with the substitute decision legislation you are either capable or incapable, and when deemed incapable, you lose all of your rights.

I would urge everyone in this province to make out a power of attorney, to be very clear about deciding who they wish to make decisions for them when they are unable, and to give advance directive to those who will be making decisions on their behalf. These are difficult issues. We usually don't like to talk about them. But one reason I had always hoped, when the government moved to make changes to the substitute decisions legislation, that it would be separate legislation was so these issues could be fully canvassed.

I think we missed an opportunity when we dealt with Bill 19, because the government did not have the kind of consultation that I believe would have been appropriate. At committee, we asked the question over and over again, "Were you consulted?" I have to tell you that, with rare exception, we were told no, there had not been any consultation.

I believe if there had been consultation, many of the problems that exist in Bill 19 and many of the problems that were identified by those who came before the committee could have been resolved. Many of the amendments the government brought forward changed a word, and that was simply a result of the fact that the government had not consulted. This is very significant and important legislation, and I think the government missed an opportunity to have even better legislation, because it did not involve any one in the drafting of Bill 19, did not share the proposals it was bringing forward, because it determined it knew what it was going to do in advance. It's always a shame when you make that assumption, because part of the importance of the legislative process is the valuable input that can come.

The second piece of legislation is the consent to treatment legislation, a piece of legislation that I lived and breathed for a long time. I will say that I think the existing legislation today under Bill 19, the changes to the consent to treatment legislation, are a significant improvement over the consent to treatment legislation brought forward by the previous government.

The last piece of legislation is the advocacy piece. As members of this House will know, we voted against that legislation as we voted against the consent to treatment legislation when it was brought forward by the New Democrats.

If there was ever an example of the differences between the three parties, the approach to Bill 19 and the very important issues is a good example of how we differ. We said very clearly that we would scrap the Advocacy Commission as it had been constituted by the NDP, that we would make changes to the consent to treatment legislation, because the combination of those two pieces of legislation were unnecessarily bureaucratic, unnecessarily intrusive and created a climate that, frankly, was unnecessarily adversarial.

What we had in response to the NDP approach to consent to treatment and advocacy was an environment where people were not obeying the law. No enforcement model or mechanism was going to change that, because providers and those with an interest in this legislation, in consent legislation and advocacy legislation, had been so polarized -- and I think "polarized" is the right word -- by the process of the previous government's legislation that when Dr Peter Singer came before the committee, he said very clearly that it would take some time to heal. I have to tell you, I think that healing is important. I am concerned, because vulnerable people are left vulnerable in an environment where professionals, where advocates are at each other's throats.

If there was ever an example of the approach of three parties and how we differ, our approach to advocacy and consent to treatment is probably a very good example. The governing party, the Conservative Party of Mike Harris, believes there is no role for government, that advocacy and rights advice should be left entirely to friends, families and well-meaning providers. The NDP believes that friends, family and providers should not be trusted and that there is a requirement that government do it all for you. Within the NDP model that polarization, those tensions and anxieties were heightened, and ultimately, I believe, the most vulnerable suffered. The cost of the system that they put in place was going to be in the neighbourhood of $80 million to $120 million to provide the kind of mandatory rights advice that the Consent to Treatment Act contemplated. That was on top of the $18 million for advocacy.


Now, we've heard a lot of rhetoric in this House. The reality is that our party believes there is a role for government. We believe there is an opportunity for consensus. We recognize that this consensus does not mean unanimity. We recognize that people require support and that kind of support should be enshrined in legislation. While we said very clearly that we would scrap the Advocacy Commission as it had been constituted by the New Democrats, we made very clear our support for advocacy and for legislated advocacy. For anyone in this House to speak the words of Sean O'Sullivan, to read from his report, and to not support legislated advocacy is a misrepresentation of what that report said.

This legislation that is before us with three parts -- substitute decisions, which was supported by all three parties; consent to treatment; and advocacy, which our party had serious concerns about -- we believe today is an improvement. At the end of the day we have to say: Is what is proposed by this government significantly better than what is in place today? And the answer to that is yes, notwithstanding the fact that this legislation has flaws, very serious flaws. We believe people have a right to know when they have been declared incapable by a provider, whether that provider is in the position of an evaluator or an assessor. People have a right to know, and this legislation does not guarantee them that right.

We believe that there should be an obligation on the part of the provider to inform an individual and to inform them of their right to appeal, and while we believe that it should be up to the professional colleges to determine the guidelines, we believe the legislation should be explicit about how the colleges should proceed to establish those guidelines in some consistent manner.

We believe in self-governance. We believe that colleges have the obligation and the responsibility to do it, but we believe that the legislation should reflect that and that that's a glaring error in this legislation.

We believe that education is extremely important, and there is no education mandate given in this legislation.

We will be waiting to see what the government will do to replace advocacy as they repeal the advocacy legislation, and we will be watching very carefully to see what the implications are and what the results are. Unfortunately, it will likely be through coroners' inquests that we will see whether or not their approach is working. My colleague -- and I acknowledge the important work that she did on committee and I do not question the desire of the New Democrats when they brought forward their legislation to develop what they believed was an appropriate form of advocacy.

While I do not question their motives, as I said before, even when all three parties will agree, we will differ on our approach. I did not support their approach and I believe that because of the failure of their approach we have seen the pendulum swing to the point where the Conservatives will be successful and have public support for complete repeal. I do believe that they'd better come up with something that will respond to what is a serious issue, that is, the needs of vulnerable people. I see the minister saying, "We will," and we will hold you to that, Minister. We all know there is a problem and we know it cannot be left to the well-meaning, because we know of child abuse, we know of elder abuse, and case after case has been identified in coroners' inquests of people who have died simply because they did not have anyone to advocate on their behalf.

However, I would say to my colleague that the Clemens family, the parents of Lonnie Clemens, supported the changes to this legislation because they believe the poisoned environment of the previous legislation led to the confusion that meant their son did not receive the treatment he should have received. They and others want that poisoned environment ended; they want it to heal.

As we arrive at the end of this debate with a lot of soul-searching, with a lot of thought, we have determined in this caucus that Bill 19, while it is flawed, will put in place a regime that is a significant improvement and will allow for that healing, and if we did not support Bill 19, we would be saying that what exists is better than what is proposed.

We will be watching very carefully and we will be waiting for the minister to bring forward the government's approach to advocacy. We hope they will change their mind and that it will be legislated. We will be watching very carefully and proposing future changes because we think that will be appropriate and it will be forthcoming. But it is the intention of the Liberal caucus to support Bill 19 on third reading.

Mr David Turnbull (York Mills): Mr Speaker, I believe we have unanimous consent to defer a vote on this until just before routine proceedings tomorrow.

The Speaker (Hon Allan K. McLean): Is unanimous consent given: tomorrow afternoon before routine proceedings? Agreed.

It being almost 6 of the clock, this House stands adjourned until 1:30 of the clock tomorrow.

The House adjourned at 1758.