36th Parliament, 1st Session

L052 - Wed 3 Apr 1996 / Mer 3 Avr 1996





























































The House met at 1334.




Mr David Ramsay (Timiskaming): I'm very proud to stand in my place today to announce that the New Liskeard Cubs of the Great North Midget League have won the all-Ontario championship and are going to be on their way to the Canadian championships in a couple of weekends.

As the Northern Daily News in Kirkland Lake had reported:

"Cubs Are Tops -- New Liskeard Wins All-Ontario Crown.

"They were too good, and that's the truth.

"The New Liskeard Cubs are now central Canadian champions and will be playing in the Air Canada Cup in Burnaby, BC from April 16 to 21 after whipping the North York Canadiens 5-2 in Sunday's final in Waterloo.

"Cubs, champions of the Great North Midget League, dominated their foes during the week-long tournament in Waterloo winning seven games and tying one in eight matches." They scored 37 goals and only gave up 13 in that whole tournament.

"Cubs will now face even tougher competition as they will meet the best half-dozen midget AAA hockey teams in the country. But the team has shown no signs of faltering yet and has not lost a big game this season."

I'd like to congratulate all the members of the New Liskeard Cubs, Don Shepherdson, Claude Denommé and all the supporters in New Liskeard, and wish them well in the all-Canadians.


Mr Tony Martin (Sault Ste Marie): The atmosphere in this country and indeed this province has changed dramatically. Whereas we as a community of people acted in a caring and supportive way for much of our time as a nation, bringing in a national pension plan and unemployment insurance and a national health care program, things that have come to define us both at home and abroad, it is disheartening to hear the voices of fear and anger, indeed of resentment and in some instances hate, become so obvious and so loud. But even more disturbing is the playing on or taking advantage of these so obviously destructive and negative sentiments by political leaders for no other reason but to make political gain.

On Monday of this week we saw another crack in the up until now taken for granted protective shield we wove around ourselves as a people who saw themselves as family with common national ties. The Canada assistance plan is now gone. No more common standards, no more commitment to fairness and justice across this land.

We have all heard of the trickle-down theory of economics. Tommy Douglas called it trickle-on. Mr Chrétien has picked up from where Brian Mulroney left off. We are being trickled on royally by the federal government and Mike Harris is gleefully flushing us all, programs, jobs and services, down the toilet.


Mr John Hastings (Etobicoke-Rexdale): I rise in the House today to comment on the shameful waste of taxpayers' dollars and the fearmongering of Ontarians that a member of the previous NDP government has resorted to. The member for Nickel Belt has been mailing letters province-wide for the lone purpose of distorting the facts about what our government has done to improve health care in this province.

In his letter, the member for Nickel Belt asks if we really need a 30% tax cut. That's more like asking whether a person needs prescription drugs, transportation or food. Our government has improved health care in many ways: by spending $15.5 million to improve ambulance service across Ontario; by providing greater access through the Ontario drug benefit program to allow 144,000 more Ontarians to be covered than were protected before; by expanding funding to fight against anorexia and bulimia; by reducing the waiting time for cardiac care patients requiring lifesaving heart surgery; by expanding kidney dialysis; by immunizing all elementary and secondary school students for measles.

I would like to remind the member for Nickel Belt that it was his government that raised taxes 35 times for Ontario citizens. In answer to the question, "Do we need a tax cut in Ontario?" -- absolutely. My response is an unequivocal yes.


Mr Mike Colle (Oakwood): I rise in the House today to announce the first annual Pothole of the Year contest, due to the public outrage over the conditions of our roads in this province.

The Provincial Auditor has warned that 60% of Ontario roads are substandard, and the Ministry of Transportation has made massive cuts to road maintenance and repair on top of that. Nobody wins when driving on unsafe roads that are filled with potholes. Serious accidents and costly repair bills result from driving over potholes.

Motorists across Ontario are fed up and frustrated with a Minister of Transportation who just blames others and refuses to take responsibility for the crisis facing our motorists from Cornwall to Kenora. Safety and good, reliable roads are important.

The Pothole of the Year Contest is being held in an attempt to bring the severity of this matter to the attention of the Ontario people and the Minister of Transportation. What is needed is a comprehensive, province-wide road repair program and the stopping of the offloading of substandard roads on municipalities that cannot afford to fix them.

I urge all motorists in Ontario to expose their local potholes and help push the Minister of Transportation into doing more than just blaming others and whining that it's Ottawa's fault.



Ms Marilyn Churley (Riverdale): Those of us who live in the province of Ontario are blessed in that we have long been able to take clean drinking water for granted. It's practically a birthright. There are so many parts of this world in which that is sadly not the case.

I want to suggest it's time to put an end to that complacency here in Ontario. The recent problems with the contamination of the water supply in Collingwood have concerned us all, though none more so than the local residents. It appears that Collingwood has enough money to be able to solve the problem, but what assurance do the other 43 communities at risk have that they can deal with this problem if it hits them? I think if there is a lesson in Collingwood, it's to remind us what a precious and valuable resource clean, pure, healthy drinking water is.

This government likes to pretend that Ontarians aren't concerned about the environment these days, but it continues to cut and slash. This government has even eliminated funding for new water filtration systems and the CURB program, which was designed to prevent agricultural runoff, believed to be the cause of the problem in Collingwood. Absolutely incredible.

It's time that this environment minister, apparently so intent on destroying the environmental gains of the last 30 years, started to realize that when she allows the environment to be compromised, she allows our health to be compromised.


Mr Dan Newman (Scarborough Centre): I rise today as the member for Scarborough Centre in order to bring to the attention of this House the urgent campaign of a store owner in my riding.

Less than a year ago, Mr Tom Ambas's kid brother Louis was brutally murdered while working in Tom's store, Tom Houston Boots, on Kingston Road in Scarborough. Tom's kid brother was stabbed 54 times. Charged is a 17-year-old male who is protected under the Young Offenders Act. Tom's kid brother was savagely murdered for a few hundred dollars robbed from the store. This madness must end now.

Tom Ambas has undertaken a campaign across the country which he has termed the Kid Brother Campaign, calling for real and lasting changes to the Young Offenders Act. I am proud to be wearing the campaign pin today which Tom gave to me at my recent town hall meeting on youth crime at Midland Avenue Collegiate in Scarborough. At that meeting, 500 concerned residents came out to voice their concerns and offer solutions to the growing problem of youth crime.

I was proud that the Attorney General of Ontario, the Honourable Charles Harnick, attended the meeting as my special guest -- proud because it shows how much our government cares about this problem and how determined we are to push for changes.

Tom Ambas has a petition with more than 500,000 signatures from Canadians who demand real and lasting changes to the Young Offenders Act, but the federal government refuses to act. They have not made the changes that people are calling for. When will Mr Chrétien and Mr Rock start listening to the people? The 500 people from Scarborough Centre who attended my meeting can't be wrong. The 500,000 people who signed Mr Ambas's Kid Brother petition cannot be wrong. When will the Prime Minister start to listen?


Mr John Gerretsen (Kingston and The Islands): The council and residents of Amherst Island, a small municipality in my riding, are extremely concerned about their ferry subsidy, which as of January 1 this year has been temporarily cut back on a holdback basis by 15%, or about $160,000 on an annualized basis. This is the first time the monthly subsidy amounts have been reduced.

Council and the residents fear that the 15% cut will become permanent in the May budget. This could be devastating to this small community of 486 full-time residents that today is unsure of its future. The ferry service is the lifeline of the township and it's the only way to grocery stores, doctors, services, markets and jobs. It has a municipal tax base of only $170,000 that it raises for its own purposes.

To make up the reduction in the subsidy would require the township to double its property taxation this year unless drastic action is taken by the Minister of Transportation and the township. The township already has had to raise the fares on the ferry from $3.50 to $5 a trip, and eliminate runs, raising a projected further revenue of $67,000. Despite these measures, they will still be $100,000 short if the 15% cut is made permanent.

The council has continued to lobby the MTO to restore the full funding. The reeve fears the high fares will strangle the community. Council has requested a meeting with Minister Palladini. Minister, will you meet with them prior to the spring budget and also pay back the $62,000 that MTO still owes them for last year? The island community cannot afford --

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


Mr Len Wood (Cochrane North): My statement today is for the Minister of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs concerning the northern Ontario dairy industry. Proposed changes by the Ontario Farm Products Marketing Commission would bring an end to the dairy industry in my riding of Cochrane North. The commission plans to amend regulations covering the distribution of fluid milk products, allowing producers from southern Ontario to access customers throughout northern Ontario with a view to reducing the cost of milk locally. But this is not guaranteed, as transportation costs are considerably higher in the north. If the minister agrees to these changes, it would cause a loss of jobs in the Kapuskasing area and damage the local economy.

In anticipation of the negative impact of these changes, as of March 31 the Community Dairy of Kapuskasing laid off four of its 11 employees, and it is owned mostly by 41 local shareholders. One of two Hearst milking operations will be closing by the end of this year; another supplier is thinking about quitting the business after being in it for nine years. Now Beatrice Foods, concerned about the lack of consultation, is asking for public hearings to review the proposed changes.

It makes no sense to destroy these local businesses. The Kapuskasing Community Dairy has been contributing to the Kapuskasing economy since 1935. I might ask the question, how much has the Conservative government been contributing to the local community since 1935? Very little, as far as the people there are concerned; last year, for that matter, considerably less than what the Kapuskasing dairy has done since 1935.


Mr Wayne Wettlaufer (Kitchener): It is with a great deal of pleasure that I rise today to congratulate the Ontario Association of Chiefs of Police for its establishment of the Highway Help program. Highway Help is a roadside safety program being coordinated by the Ontario Association of Chiefs of Police. It is designed to aid motorists stranded on a highway to safely receive help by creating partnerships between motorists concerned with safety and the Ontario police.

The focus and goal of the Highway Help program is to educate Ontario residents about safety procedures when drivers are forced to pull their vehicles over to the side of a highway. As part of the program, this special, high-quality, reflective plastic "Call Police" sign is hooked on to the driver's window, allowing stranded motorists to communicate a clear need for help to passing motorists without ever leaving their vehicle.

It is a unique program because it has the support of police services across Ontario, which recognize the official OACP Highway Help sign. It is also unique because it provides motorists who wish to help others with a simple method to do so without endangering the safety of either party.

The OACP launched a pilot program in the Waterloo region this past December. The pilot was a resounding success and is scheduled for launch province-wide this May, made possible through the support of corporate sponsors. The OACP will be formally introducing the Highway Help program at a news conference at Metro Toronto Police headquarters on April 30.

I know I convey the sentiment of every member of this House when I say congratulations to the members of the Ontario Association of Chiefs of Police. Well done.


The Speaker (Hon Allan K. McLean): I'd like to inform the members of the Legislative Assembly that we have in the Speaker's gallery today Irina Khromenko, secretary for international relations with the Christian-Democratic Party of Ukraine, and Mr Derm Whelan, chief electoral officer, the province of Alberta. Join me in welcoming our guests.



Hon Norman W. Sterling (Minister of Consumer and Commercial Relations): Later today I will be introducing for first, hopefully second, and third reading, amendments to the Personal Property Security Act. This act, which is essential to credit-granting in Ontario, establishes an electronic registry which allows lenders to search and register security interests against personal property or collateral.

During the recent strike, the personal property security system was unable to operate because the mainframe computer on which it depends had to be shut down. The proposed amendments would extend a short grace period to creditors whereby they could register or renew certain security interests that could not be registered or renewed during the strike.


The amendments would offer a grace period of five or 10 days, beginning on the day the system becomes operational again, in which to take the necessary steps to preserve the priority of their security interests. Without these amendments creditors could lose the priority of their security interests and collateral vis-à-vis other creditors. This is extremely important to many private individuals and both large and small lenders and businesses.

While I'm sure most of the honourable members are familiar with the severity of the problems that the loss of priority of a security can cause, some may not be so, so I'd like to outline a simple, factual situation that provides a typical example of the kind of financial hardship that could result.

Let us say Jane Smith has loaned her savings to her brother to help him run his company. Her registration under the Personal Property Security Act expired on March 1. Ms Smith was unable to renew her registration because of the strike. On April 5 the brother's company goes bankrupt. Ms Smith has failed to register a renewal and will be treated as an unsecured creditor rather than as a secured creditor and will likely lose most if not all of her money.

These amendments will benefit all lenders, including small businesses and individuals. In fact, because large financial institutions generally process their security interest renewals in advance, they have already taken care of most of their expiry periods. But small businesses are not staffed to do this and clearly need these amendments to this act.

In summary, these amendments to the Personal Property Security Act will restore order to the registration system as a whole and may mean the difference between bankruptcy and prosperity for some of the people in Ontario.

Lastly, I'd like to thank my critics in the opposition parties for their cooperation in bringing these matters forward to their caucuses as I consulted with them on the bill prior to introducing it today.


Hon Chris Hodgson (Minister of Natural Resources, Northern Development and Mines): I'll be rising later today to introduce the Ministry of Natural Resources Statute Law Amendment Act, 1996, a housekeeping bill which will amend legislation under three existing acts.

The proposed amendments will help the Minister of Natural Resources deliver more cost-effective and efficient programs and services and better manage our natural resources.

First, amendments to the Game and Fish Act limit licences to hunt black bear to one licence per person per year. The amendments also allow the MNR to prohibit the sale of black bear parts, regardless of origin.

MNR has also been asked by the province's agricultural community to provide them with the means to control nuisance deer under carefully controlled conditions that are consistent with ethical harvest practices. MNR will streamline government operations and cut red tape by replacing the Game and Fish Hearing Board with a hearing officer, who will be accountable to the Minister of Natural Resources.

Amendments to the Crown Forest Sustainability Act allow the Minister of Natural Resources to enter into agreements to perform forest management responsibilities for some licensees on crown forest management units for a fee. Bill 171 looked after the large forest companies. We want to make sure that the small operators have increased options on crown management units. Changes also make it an offence to obstruct MNR employees who are monitoring compliance with the Crown Forest Sustainability Act.

Amendments to the Provincial Parks Act will enable the Minister of Natural Resources to set park fees and collect and retain revenues under the act in a special-purpose account, which will allow reinvestment in the improved services and facilities for all park users. The public interest in Ontario's provincial parks system will continue to be protected.

The amendments I have outlined will help ensure the MNR can continue to increase efficiency in its operations, promote our provincial parks and effectively manage and preserve Ontario's natural resources.


Hon John Snobelen (Minister of Education and Training): I have an announcement to make that is of importance to young people in Ontario. It's my pleasure today to present the result of the work of a number of people and the cooperation of a number of ministries. In particular, I'd like to acknowledge the leadership of the Premier and the cooperation of two of my colleagues, the Minister of Environment and Energy and the Minister of Economic Development, Trade and Tourism. Without that cooperation this announcement would not be possible.

I'm happy to announce today that this government is creating 29,000 summer jobs for the young people of this province. That is 5,000 more jobs than last year. I am also very pleased to note that the taxpayers will be paying $3 million less to support this year's program. In other words, we're going to be doing much more and much better with taxpayers' dollars.

These jobs for youth will be created through a new initiative that we're calling Ontario Summer Jobs. The Ontario summer jobs program will offer students a wide range of opportunities, including environmental projects, public and private sector positions, jobs in northern communities and entrepreneurial opportunities for students who want to start their own businesses.

As well as directly supporting thousands of jobs, the program will also offer information and referral services to equip our young people with appropriate employment and job search skills.

This government recognizes the importance of giving young people an opportunity to work. Even though the province is facing serious financial challenges, we remain committed to giving our young people a chance to gain valuable work experience.

We have already announced our intention of making the secondary school program more relevant to those students who choose to go to college or directly to work. Co-op and work experience programs are going to be expanded to give students more insight into possible career choices. We will introduce formal transition-to-work training programs in partnership with local employers. The Ontario summer jobs program is another key element as we help our young people take that first step on the road to self-reliance.

The reason we've been able to create 5,000 more jobs than last year, at less cost to the taxpayer, is partly because we have refocused funding for youth employment and partly because we have reached out to increase the involvement of the business community in our summer jobs program. Partnerships with the business community will continue to be very important to this government's broad strategy to get the Ontario economy moving. Jobs for young people is one area where involvement by the business community is vitally important.

Employing the youth of today is an investment in the workforce of tomorrow. It's an investment that will pay enormous returns to employers and young people alike. By giving young people a chance to gain experience and learn working skills, we are helping to ensure that they will have a fair chance to lead productive, independent lives. They will be ready to take their place in the revitalized, prosperous Ontario that this government is working to create.

Mrs Sandra Pupatello (Windsor-Sandwich): Today is a victory. Today is a victory for the young people of Ontario. Today we saw the government blink.

I must say this is an exciting day. It's not just exciting for the Liberal caucus -- because it was the Liberal caucus that made this an issue. Only last week, the Minister of Economic Development, Trade and Tourism stood up in the House and said: "The youth unemployment rate? Why, it's not that high." Not only that, they said: "Well, we're going to fix that. We're going to freeze the minimum wage. Oh, that tax cut, that's going to help the youth." They disregarded it as an issue.

The Liberal caucus stood by the young people of Ontario, and we heard from them. We heard from people from the north, the south, the east and the west. All of the students responded and said, "You must hear us, because we're important too." I've got to tell you that I'm very excited, because the Liberal caucus will continue to be the voice for the young people of Ontario, because we knew we could make a difference. The young people who will benefit are going to be there and they'll continue to hold your feet to the fire in terms of what future they have in this province.

I want to say that I have some questions, and I'm going to give them the benefit of the doubt for some time. We must question how we're going to get 5,000 more jobs when we have $3 million less in funding.

Mr Bill Murdoch (Grey-Owen Sound): Pupatello for leader. You finally found a leader over there.

The Speaker (Hon Allan K. McLean): The member for Grey-Owen Sound is out of order.

Mrs Pupatello: However, we're going to wait and see exactly what the play is. We don't want to find out at the end that the government will fudge numbers in order to show an increased number of jobs. We are going to hold their feet to the fire, we are going to continue to speak for the youth of Ontario and we are more than pleased that the Liberal Party was able to do this.

Mr Bruce Crozier (Essex South): I too want to congratulate my colleague for having brought this issue to the fore. We have absolutely no idea whether this government would have done anything had we not brought this forward and had the youth of this province not replied in the way they did. To the youth of Ontario: Good job for sticking up for yourselves.



Mr Bruce Crozier (Essex South): I want to reply to the Minister of Consumer and Commercial Relations. We're pleased to join you today in supporting the amendments you are proposing that will benefit all the lenders, small businesses and individuals of this province. I only hope, sir, that you will prevail upon the Minister of Finance to do the same thing with your proposed tax cut so that more than 50% of the lower wage earners in this province will get the bulk of the money and not just 10%. You're a very influential minister when you can get this kind of thing on the table. We only hope you can prevail upon the Minister of Finance to listen to you as well.


Mr Michael A. Brown (Algoma-Manitoulin): I stand to reply to the statement by the Minister of Natural Resources, which I think everyone would be excited to know is a housekeeping bill, which tells you something. We applaud the minister for some of the things he's done in this particular housekeeping bill -- not very exciting -- but I think we should bring people's attention to the more substantive parts of what the minister is saying here today.

What he is saying to the small operators in Ontario's forests is, "You now have the privilege of paying more fees to the government of Ontario." Sounds like a tax hike to me. That's what he saying. He's saying that the Crown Forest Sustainability Act, to which he was totally opposed -- I remember that -- now will allow crown officers to move in even more obtrusive ways that he objected to strenuously when he was on this side of the floor.

I also want to talk a little bit about his announcement about provincial parks. It's the same message. The message we're seeing about provincial parks is that the people of Ontario will now have the privilege of paying more taxes, of paying more fees, to visit their own parks, the parks they bought, paid for and have maintained for generations.

I say to the minister, the sleight of hand here is not all that good. This is more than a housekeeping bill; this is a tax grab of major proportions. It will hurt small businesses in northern Ontario and in your part of the world, and it will hurt the people who want to go to provincial parks.

The second thing I want to say about provincial parks is that I think this may be the first step towards privatization.

Ms Shelley Martel (Sudbury East): I want to respond to the statement made by the Minister of Natural Resources. His statement today reminds me of the situation we faced here on Monday when, in the face of huge layoffs of thousands and thousands of teachers, the debate that occurred was that the Minister of Education had as his priority bringing forward the College of Teachers bill.

The Minister of Natural Resources today is putting forward a bill which basically deals with some housekeeping items, and in the face of that we have a Conservative government which is involved in secret negotiations with the big pulp and paper and forestry companies to give away 8.2 million hectares of public resources to these companies with no public input, no public consultation -- all in secret, all to his friends.

In December, we revealed in this House that the MNR was involved in these negotiations behind closed doors to give away all of this public resource. We revealed at the time that the ministry was involved in negotiations with Stone Consolidated and Avenor for the crown management units at Red Lake; with Stone for the crown management unit in Fort Frances; and with E.B. Eddy, with Yaeger and with St Marys Paper for the crown management units in Sault Ste Marie and Wawa. We further revealed that at that point in time about 2,000 MNR staff were going to lose their jobs as a consequence.

We demanded in this House that the minister stop the negotiations, that he institute a completely full, open process so that independent loggers, so that native and non-native communities, so that other organizations that have an interest in how forests are used in the province could participate in these important discussions.

What has been the result? Nothing. The negotiations continue. There's no public process. There's no participation by all the people who have a right to be involved in determining the future of the crown management units. Shame on you. You should be in the House today opening up a complete process that allows people to participate in these very important decisions.


Mr Bud Wildman (Algoma): I want to respond to the Minister of Education and Training's statement today. We welcome it, although it's three months late, and I really wonder why it took this long for the minister to respond to the letter I sent to him in mid-March pointing out the need for announcements on summer job creation for youth.

It's important to recognize that this statement comes after the government cancelled the JumpStart program our government put in place, and simply, what the government is doing is changing the name of the Jobs Ontario program we had in place to another name.

The government doesn't seem to recognize that there is a crisis in youth employment in this province, that youth employment was over 16% last month, that February over February, unemployed youth in this province, there were 15,000 more people looking for work than last year.

The government makes a great to-do in this statement that it is creating 5,000 more jobs this year than were created last year. I guess the reason is that they are hoping the public will think this is simply greater involvement from the private sector, when I suspect what's happening is that there are going to be more jobs because they will be of shorter duration and will be paid less, in order to ensure there's a total number that is higher.

There's no question that there needs to be youth employment programs for young people because this government has increased tuition fees, and has increased tuition fees at a time when the income-contingent loan program is not in place and probably will not be in place for two years, so it's going to be more expensive for young people to be able to pay for their education than it has been over the last number of years, even with the increases over the last number of years, and the promise of the income-contingent program is just pie in the sky because there's nothing going on between this government and the federal government to bring it into place.

I wonder what this government is actually going to do about the overall youth employment crisis we face in this province. We appreciate there is an attempt here to deal with the need for jobs in the summertime, but what is this government going to do to try to move beyond the silly comments made by the Minister of Economic Development, Trade and Tourism, who seems to think that the only good job creation program in this province for young people is his tax cut?



Mr James J. Bradley (St Catharines): I have a question for the Premier. I would like to deal this afternoon with one of the most important emerging issues facing not only Ontario, but probably our society as a whole in the western world. We're seeing more and more examples of corporations laying off thousands of workers at the very time those corporations are enjoying unprecedented or at least substantial profits, sometimes the highest profits in their history. Premier, do you believe that corporations that are making higher and higher profits should at the same time be chopping the jobs of often long-term and loyal employees?

Hon Michael D. Harris (Premier): I'd be interested in knowing what the member believes corporations should do. My own belief is that good corporations ought to have in mind employee relationships, good social responsibility, community responsibility, provincial responsibility, national responsibility, indeed global responsibility.

I think the long-term, successful corporations which most shareholders are looking towards do in fact reflect that. There are, though, from time to time difficult corporate decisions that have to be made. I won't agree with all of them; sometimes I don't agree with any of them. But they are their dollars, it is their money, they are their shareholders and it is their decision to make.


What we can do as a government and plan to do -- every corporate survey we've done, including a recent one from the CFIB today, indicates that if we could have a competitive climate here, both taxwise and regulatorywise, this will provide the opportunity for businesses to grow and hire, as opposed to constantly looking at how they have to be more efficient to compete. We're certainly going to do everything we can to try and inculcate those attitudes in the corporate sector of Ontario and Canada. As you've said, competitiveness is a North American and perhaps a global problem today. But certainly those would be my views. If the member shares those views, if he believes there are some things we could be doing together in a good corporate sense, in a non-partisan way, we'd be glad to do that.

Mr Bradley: I am glad the Premier is seeking some guidance from others in this assembly but I want to go back to the Premier, because he was elected to lead this province. I'm interested because of his view, for instance, that the private sector is the place where jobs are to be created. In years gone by, people understood -- they didn't like it but they understood -- if a company was losing a lot of money and was laying people off. Today we're seeing companies making a lot of money and laying people off, some would say for the purpose of a temporary blip in the stock market, in other words, to please shareholders with that temporary blip in the stock market. The tendency has been for the initial hit to come down in the stock market.

If we don't have these people working, we're not going to have people to purchase the products and the services that will be needed to provide future jobs in our economy. Do you believe that you, as Premier, have a special responsibility in this province to address this problem with the senior leaders of the corporate sector -- the banks, General Motors, Bell Canada and others -- all of whom have made substantial profits while at the same time laying workers off?

Hon Mr Harris: Yes, we do. We are in consultation with all employers, large and small, and of course we're doing everything we can to encourage more job creation, particularly in the province of Ontario. I don't apologize for finally coming out and acknowledging that we're going to compete with other premiers and governors who come in here and think they can raid jobs in the province of Ontario.

In a very aggressive way, we're doing everything we can in there, including discussions with those employers. If the member would like to come with me to some of those discussions and has other suggestions -- I don't believe there is a legislative remedy that's being proposed -- if you have one that you and your party think is appropriate, we would certainly take a look at it. It's not our intention to legislate that a private sector employer has to hire somebody, but short of that, we're doing everything we can. If it is your contention that there is something legislatively, I'd be pleased to see you table that.

Mr Bradley: Premier, in late January this year you had the opportunity to attend a conference in Davos, Switzerland, which had a lot of people gathered together who are interested and expert in international finance. Klaus Schwab made a presentation to you and to others who were there. He said:

"Companies have an obligation to their employees. While they cannot guarantee lifetime employment, companies should help ensure future employability.

"Every day someone works for a company, that person should have the opportunity to acquire new skills and capabilities.

"The winners in globalization have an obligation to assist the losers. Those who benefit the most should support social programs and income support...for those who end up as losers."

Do you believe that you, as the Premier of this province, have an obligation to put in place policies which will encourage that so we don't have a continued situation where corporations are pulling profits out of their companies and leaving the bodies in the street?

Hon Mr Harris: I think the most important thing we can do that is within our jurisdiction, within our responsibility, is to make sure that Ontario is a very competitive place in which to create jobs and to employ people. We look at some of the barriers over the last 10 years that have been put in place, some of the regulation, some of the red tape, some of the payroll taxes, which the Liberal Party was the heaviest on -- income taxes, for example.

I'm very pleased, actually. I know today the CFIB released a survey of its employers and their membership, and of course these collectively are the largest employers and the creators of new jobs. They indicate, I think to the tune of -- either in a significant way, in a big help or some help -- about 80%, that income tax cuts will encourage them to hire more people, pay more money. Of course we're very interested in all employers having the climate to do that.

With regard to the larger companies, yes, I think we want to point out if there is ever any evidence of a company that is doing something on a very short-term, quick-fix basis, the odds are that's a company that's heading for bankruptcy and not going to do very well in the long term. Those are not the good kind of corporate companies. Those that are doing it to guarantee long-term security and market share for the employees are the ones that of course will be around for a much longer time.

But I repeat, if the Liberal caucus and party and leadership candidates have a piece of legislation where they think we should legislate that companies have to do some things, I invite you to table it and let us all look at it.


Mr Sean G. Conway (Renfrew North): My question is to the Minister of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs. For months prior to the June 1995 election, you solemnly, piously and repeatedly travelled the province and pledged that if favoured with the responsibility of office, you and your Tory colleagues would not cut the agriculture ministry budget any further because, as you said repeatedly and everywhere, agriculture had done more than its share.

Minister, when you took office your departmental spending budget was in the neighbourhood of $450 million. In the first nine months of your administration of that department you have, in absolute breach of your solemn promise, taken $25 million out of that budget. Given the solemnity of your promise to rural Ontario, Minister, how is that budget cut possible?

Hon Noble Villeneuve (Minister of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs, minister responsible for francophone affairs): To the honourable member for Renfrew North who in the last 10 years saw 65 tax increases come along, I will simply set the record straight: $13.1 million was removed from the agricultural budget simply to meet some of the requirements that had to be met in order to try and balance a budget -- very difficult.

We promised no cuts to agricultural programs. We have delivered these programs more efficiently and will continue to deliver them more efficiently.

Mr Conway: Let me be clear. This question and this issue is about the worth of the word of the member from Stormont, Dundas and Glengarry. You promised and you said in your electoral platform that you would not cut the budget of the Ministry of Agriculture. In the first nine months of your administration you have already cut the budget by $26 million.

We now have the spectacle of your colleague from Brant-Haldimand, to pick one, who is saying, "I'm worried that my government is going to make a liar out of me." And the members from Prince Edward, Hastings, St Catharines-Brock and Lambton, to name four others, are worried and they are saying publicly, "It appears that we have broken our promise."


My question is, what are you going to say to those people in the farm community, including the people of Renfrew, the farm community that I met with the other day, who said, "We've got $25 million in cuts already and now they are talking about cutting another $130 million to $150 million"? How is that not a complete breaking of faith with what you promised?

Hon Mr Villeneuve: We promised to cut no programs and to deliver them more efficiently, and that's exactly --


Hon Mr Villeneuve: There is no doubletalk here. It's simply to deliver the programs more efficiently. When my colleagues are able to discuss these things with me, contrary to what possibly was the situation when the Liberals were in power, we do listen to our backbench members, we respect our backbench members, and we work with them. I appreciate the fact that they are able to convey to me the thoughts of their constituents.

Mr Conway: Minister, I understand that you're soon going to Japan. Let me tell you, that manure spreader of yours won't get you across the Pacific, and it's not going to get you through this broken promise. Your colleagues, Mr Fox from Prince Edward-Lennox, Mr Beaubien, Mr Arnott, Mr Danford, they're out in the land. The farm press is replete with your broken promises.

Just to put this in very sharp focus, two years ago you wrote Elmer Buchanan, the then minister, saying, "Don't close the Ag office in Glengarry county and don't take away our Ag rep in Glengarry county." What is one of the first things you did? You closed the Ag office in your own county. You promise one thing before the election, beg the then government to spend money, and then in the first year of your administration, barefacedly, you did the very thing in your own home county that you begged Elmer Buchanan not to do.

Will you commit that the Ag offices in Avonmore and Renfrew and Picton and Napanee, to pick but four, will you promise that those agricultural offices serving good, hardworking farmers in eastern Ontario will not be closed during the course of your four-year administration?

Hon Mr Villeneuve: It's interesting that the honourable member would be so exercised as he is, because we promise one thing: to deliver efficient services to Ontario agriculture, to provide them with the good services that they have been accustomed to. You can wave all the paper you want, the honourable member for Renfrew North; we will not let the agricultural community down.

The reason I'm going to Japan is to accompany the federal minister on a trade mission where we will be selling Ontario products.

The Speaker (Hon Allan K. McLean): New question, the leader of the third party.


The Speaker: Order. The leader of the third party has the floor.

Mr Bud Wildman (Algoma): It's sad, Mr Speaker, to see him swinging in the wind like that.


Mr Bud Wildman (Algoma): I have a question for the Minister of Environment and Energy. There's been a lot of discussion over the last number of months about plans for Ontario Hydro. Does the minister support the privatization of Ontario Hydro?

Hon Brenda Elliott (Minister of Environment and Energy): What we have determined since we have formed the government, and certainly we were aware of that before we formed the government, was that in fact Ontario Hydro's rates have been rising into a dangerous level over the past few years. The first thing we did when we formed the government was to freeze the rates.

What we are working now to do is to look closely at Ontario Hydro to determine how we can make Ontario Hydro more competitive and thus reduce the rates to keep the business, to keep the companies that require competitive power prices in this province.

Mr Wildman: I asked a question about privatization and the minister answered a question about rates. The minister will know that the previous government froze Hydro rates and this government continued that freeze, but that's not what I was asking about.

Can the minister explain how decisions will be made with regard to the possible privatization of Ontario Hydro? Is the minister expecting to make public the report of Donald S. Macdonald later this month, and if the minister is prepared to make that public, is she confident that that report will provide the government with an unbiased view of what the future of Ontario Hydro should be to properly serve the consumers in Ontario?

Hon Mrs Elliott: Donald Macdonald has been asked to chair a committee to look at restructuring Ontario Hydro. He will be reporting to me at the end of this month with suggestions on how to change Ontario Hydro. To date, he has received over 200 submissions presenting various ideas on how to do that. The suggestions that he and his committee will bring forward will be presented to the public. At that point, we will be welcoming comments on those suggestions and then some time after that we will be coming forward with a government position.

Mr Wildman: Mr Speaker, I'll try again. I asked the minister two things. I asked her if she would make the report public -- she didn't quite answer that -- and I also asked her if she was confident that this would be an unbiased recommendation, considering the fact that Mr Macdonald is on the board of TransCanada PipeLines, a company that stands to gain from increased competition and privatization of Ontario Hydro, since they are in the manufacture of gas-fired plants that produce electricity and TransCanada PipeLines is a supplier to Hydro for non-utility generation.

I would quote from their annual report. It lists as one of the three main goals, "To increase substantially the scope and profitability of our energy management operations in North America." That is power generation.

Mr Macdonald is a walking energy conglomerate. Not only is he on the board of TransCanada PipeLines, he's a member of the board of Alberta Energy Co, a major oil and gas company, and he's the chairman of Siemens Electric Ltd in Mississauga, which is a subsidiary of a German multinational that is reported to have sold over 50 turbines to utilities around the world.

The point is, doesn't Mr Macdonald have a conflict of interest in this matter? How are you going to get an unbiased report from a gentleman who's on the board of companies that will probably benefit if Hydro or parts of it are privatized?

Hon Mrs Elliott: I believe I did make clear in my second answer that we will make this report public. It will be a report from this committee and it will be, I believe, representative of the suggestions that have been brought forward to them and formulated in a way that will come to us as advice on how to move forward.

We took great care in determining the membership of this committee. We had a number of criteria we looked for. We looked for a few representatives from the municipal electrical; we looked for people who had regulatory experience; we looked for people who had experience in the gas industry, the electricity industry; we looked for people who could give us public policy advice. Mr Macdonald is a former federal Minister of Energy for the Liberal Party. I believe he has the qualifications, as do all members on that committee, to give us very good advice.

We were aware of Mr Macdonald's affiliations, as we are aware of the affiliations of all the people on that board. Mr Macdonald signed a letter of confidentiality with us at the outset. I'm very confident, and this confidence has been bolstered by the comments from people who have gone before this committee that they have received an excellent reception, have had very wise questions asked of them, and I am looking forward to that report because I believe it will be one of good advice to our government, with suggestions for change.



Mr David S. Cooke (Windsor-Riverside): I have a question to the Minister of Community and Social Services. Minister, I'd like to tell you the story of two Ontario women. One is Elsie Lowndes from Hamilton. Ms Lowndes lives on a $10,000-a-year disability pension from her employer since she lost a lung to cancer. After rent, her annual income is about $6,000 a year. She pays $113 a month for painkillers and other drugs that help keep her able to eat food.

The other woman is from Pickering. Diane doesn't want her last name used because she already has had enough difficulty coping with her situation. She gets a disability pension from Canada pension. After paying her mortgage and utilities, Diane has about $90 a month for food, drugs and everything else. Her drugs for high blood pressure and chronic pain come to more than $100 a month.

These two women have one thing in common. As of April 1, they no longer have a drug card that was provided to them by the municipalities under the special assistance and supplementary aid programs because your ministry has stopped paying its 80% share coverage of those programs.

Minister, before you start touting your Trillium drug benefit program, these women, before your extension of the Trillium plan, got Ontario drug benefit programs. They've lost that. They didn't have a minimum payment that you've now imposed on them because of your cuts. How do you expect these two women to continue with their necessary drugs when they do not have the money to pay your deductible?

Hon David H. Tsubouchi (Minister of Community and Social Services): First of all, I'm not going to deny that things may be difficult for some people, but clearly the rationale for our embarking upon the new drug program is to ensure that the program is available to more people. Certainly our government is concerned not only with people who are on special assistance right now but also with the working poor of the province. The intention of the program clearly is to make sure that an additional 140,000 people have access to the drug program.

We've tried very hard to protect programs for the disabled. You can see that we had no reduction in their benefit rates under the FBA, and we have also indicated that there'll be no reduction in services for the disabled community coming up.

Mr Cooke: That's exactly the question. Both of these women -- I'll let you get your consultation from the Minister of Health.

The Speaker (Hon Allan K. McLean): Carry on. Question.

Mr Cooke: I'd like the minister to listen, Mr Speaker.

In answer to the question, the minister said there weren't any cuts to the disabled. Elsie has had a lung removed. She's 64 years old. One could say that she's disabled, and she's a senior. Diane is on a CPP disability pension. Both of these women were covered by the Ontario drug benefit program until you changed the rules on April 1. They're disabled. You've cut their benefits. You broke your promise. How can you justify that?

Hon Mr Tsubouchi: What I said was that the government protected the benefits of people under the FBA. Clearly what we have to do, and I don't think this is such a bad thing, is to try to make sure there's more access to the drug program. Yes, there is a $2 copayment, but I believe what we're trying to do right now is to provide more and more service to more and more people in Ontario. I also indicated before that we're going to protect the services for the disabled.

Mr Cooke: I'd like to ask the minister what part of this puzzle he's having difficulty comprehending today. These two women do not have any money left at the end of the month to pay for their drugs and they do not have the money to pay the deductible. Before you made the cut, they were covered by the Ontario drug benefit program. Why did you -- and I can't use the word in here, Mr Speaker, or I'd be thrown out, but why did you say that you would protect the disabled and in these two cases you've destroyed their lives.

Hon Mr Tsubouchi: I suppose that if we get past the rhetoric, we recognize the need to protect people from excessively high drug costs and we have a need to focus our limited resources in order to service as many people as possible. This is what the intention is. I can only remind the member across the way again that this new program will in fact enlarge the program to allow close to 140,000 more people access to the drug program.


Mr Gerry Phillips (Scarborough-Agincourt): My question is to the Minister of Education. The property tax owners and taxpayers in my area have been shocked to hear that you've introduced a bill that will mean that they have to pay $65 million of property tax directly to the province. The bill that you introduced here this week will force the Metropolitan Toronto School Board to give you a cheque for $65 million, all from the property taxpayers of Metropolitan Toronto. This is at the very same time that your government has promised reform of property taxes here in Metropolitan Toronto. That's what they were expecting to hear, but what they heard was that you were going to force the Metro school board to write you a cheque for $65 million, all from the property tax. How can you possibly justify putting a tax on the Metro property tax and taking $65 million out of property tax to help you with your tax cut?

Hon John Snobelen (Minister of Education and Training): I want to thank the honourable member opposite for the question, because it gives me an opportunity to straighten out what might be a misconception. The bill we tabled will not require a payment from the Metro school board to the provincial government. It will allow for the Metro board and this government to pursue an agreement whereby Metro will share in the reductions and finding the savings in our school system in Ontario. I'm sure the member opposite realizes that every student in Ontario deserves a chance for a high-quality education and every taxpayer in Ontario deserves a chance to get real value for their education dollar. That's what this government is up to, that's what this government wants to achieve, and I for one think it's high time.

Mr Phillips: You don't understand your own bill then, because as I read the bill, it does permit you to ask the Metro school board to write you a cheque for whatever you want it to be. They estimate it could be much more than $65 million, but at least $65 million. I don't think you have been forthcoming with the House in your answer, saying that the bill does not permit that. The bill specifically is designed so you can demand that cheque. I think that's the first thing you should clarify to the people of Ontario, that your answer was not particularly --

Interjection: Careful.

Mr Phillips: I'll be very careful, because I cannot say that you were deliberately misleading. But your answer was not completely forthcoming. This does permit you to write a cheque; it is your intention to demand that. I want to once again ask you very directly, recognizing that the property tax system is broken -- that's what you've said. You've said that you were going to fix it, but the only bill you've introduced is a bill that permits you to demand a cheque to take property taxes from the hardworking people of Metropolitan Toronto to fund your tax cut. I want to ask you very directly two things: Does this bill permit that and, secondly, how can you possibly justify taking $65 million from the property taxpayers of Metropolitan Toronto to partially fund your tax cut?

Hon Mr Snobelen: I know that the member opposite, like every honourable member, would not want to misinform the public at all and so I'll take the words out of his second question. Yes, there is permission. That's a long way from demanding. That's a long way from requiring, sir. There's a world of difference between those words and that's why that legislation says what it says. We will negotiate with boards and we will do it to find equity in funding in education in Ontario. That's what the people of Ontario expect, and that's what they'll get.



Ms Frances Lankin (Beaches-Woodbine): My question is to the Premier. I've been reviewing some of your recent appointments to agencies, boards and commissions, and it's sort of interesting. Over the last four months at least 18 of those appointments are ex-Tory candidates or ex-Tory campaign managers. There's a disturbing trend here. Mr Premier, let me give you just a couple of examples. I think one of the most shocking appointments that was made recently --


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

Ms Lankin: I think the members opposite should quieten down and listen to this one because I think you'll find this shocking, too. Let me tell you about Daniel Callaghan. He was appointed to the College of Midwives of Ontario. He appeared before the committee and when he was asked about his interest or his expertise in midwifery, Callaghan replied that he simply wanted an appointment, preferably in the health field, and because he was currently out of work he had some time on his hands. But the one credential he forgot to mention to the committee was the reason why he had time on his hands. He was the defeated Tory candidate in Renfrew North in the 1995 election.

Let me give you a second example: Blaine Tyndall. He was appointed to the City of Windsor Police Services Board. Mr Tyndall has no background in local policing issues and in fact, Mr Premier, he doesn't even live in the city of Windsor. His credentials: He was the Tory candidate in Windsor-Riverside in the June election and he too was defeated.

The Speaker: Would you put your question, please.

Ms Lankin: Mr Premier, how can you defend these blatant political appointments when you said before the election, and I quote to you, "To prevent the appointment of unqualified persons for their political reasons," you support the concept of minimum standards of experience of expertise for board members. Mr Premier, please explain this.

Hon Michael D. Harris (Premier): I would indicate that the political appointment process, or the appointment of people to agencies, boards and commissions, is always one of those areas that could be contentious and that a lot of people will look at. That's why we have the committee, of course, to review, something that I think was brought in perhaps by the NDP, and we supported the process that you brought in.

You mentioned one appointment on midwifery. I believe that appointment was to be a lay appointment. Some of the positions that were set up under your criteria were to be lay appointments, and I believe that appointment was to fill a lay appointment position that was there. That's my recollection, but the committee is reviewing that.

I would also say to the member that you will find there are, on any basis you want to do it -- party membership, votes -- far more Tories in the province today than there ever were and far more Tories than you will ever find any percentage of the appointments that would be made. I have to tell you that it would take this government 42 years to ever match the amount of political patronage appointments your party made in five.

Ms Lankin: Well, Mr Premier, perhaps the facts would belie that. You're the one who said you wanted a minimum standard of expertise and experience. An unemployed used car salesman from the past, an ex-Tory candidate, contacted by the political staff in the Minister of Health's office, what's his minimum expertise and experience for the College of Midwives?

Let me go through some of the other appointments. Maybe we can see what standards you are using. Evelyn Dodds, two-time Tory candidate, appointed to the Social Assistance Review Board; Dan MacDonald, to the Social Assistance Review Board, Mulroney organizer and past Tory candidate; Maeve Quaid to the Social Assistance Review Board, past Tory candidate; Pauline Browes, to the Environmental Assessment Board, former Tory cabinet minister; John Best, to the provincial parole board, Bob Runciman's campaign manager; David Nash, to the Ontario Casino Corp, Tory campaign manager; Peter Vice, who was appointed to the Regional Municipality of Ottawa-Carleton Police Services Board, past Tory campaign manager; John Rossetti, to the Gaming Control Commission, past member of executives of various Progressive Conservative riding associations; Douglas Maund, to the Orangeville Police Services Board, chief of staff to Perrin Beatty and political friend of your Minister of Health, who also worked for Perrin Beatty.

Mr Premier, before the election, you said that appointments to agencies, boards and commissions should be based on the principles of sound turnaround management and expertise and not a pork-barrelling carousel. Mr Premier, you have broken your pledge to the people of the province on this issue. Will you make a commitment to us today to stop these blatant political patronage appointments?

Hon Mr Harris: We, of course, have not broken our pledge to the people.

Ms Lankin: You said you were different. You set the standard. Live up to it.

Hon Mr Harris: Well, I asked them to bring me in the NDP appointments, and the wheelbarrows can't get here in time. If you would like, I can pass them on to you.

I think you will find, of the appointments we have made to date, there are probably far more NDP reappointments than there are new ones. You will find in the percentage of appointments that the Progressive Conservatives are in the vast, significant minority of all the appointments that are there. I don't think if somebody's qualified they should be ruled ineligible because at some point in time they may have supported any of the three political parties.

I can tell you that I think the member, looking over the five-year record, now campaigning for leadership, has a lot of nerve inviting public scrutiny of your record of the last five years. I'm surprised you would want to do that.


Mr Ed Doyle (Wentworth East): Today my question is to the Minister of Consumer and Commercial Relations, the Honourable Norm Sterling. I wonder, Mr Sterling, now that the OPSEU strike is over, if you'd like to inform the House how the province is serving the needs of the business community in light of the fact that many of them have suffered some business delays in starting their businesses, as well as difficulties they may have encountered in concluding important business deals.

Hon Norman W. Sterling (Minister of Consumer and Commercial Relations): As you know, during the strike, many of my branches were closed down. I'm pleased to tell the members of the House and the business community that my ministry's companies branch, which was fully operational on Monday -- we were back in business, the normal over-the-counter registration services were being accepted at a great rate. We set up extra stations, we set up different methods, different lines, drop boxes, for those people who had to have a date stamped on it. We worked extra hours to make certain that everybody was served on the first day who needed to be served. We're very proud of our management and the OPSEU workers who got back to work and did their job right away.

Mr Doyle: I understand as well from a member of my own constituency that some offices were extremely busy on Monday, as you have said, and that there were some delays, so I wonder if it's possible if you could give us a prediction on how long these delays may go on.

Hon Mr Sterling: We expect to be very busy for the next two or three weeks, catching up on some of the work that was let go during that period of time. The first day that we were open we had over 1,000 business names registered, as well as 450 incorporations take place, which is an abnormally large number of registrations to take place on a single day.

We're going to talk about the Personal Property Security Act this afternoon. When that's up and running, we'll be accepting tens of thousands of registrations, but we're getting the system back on track. We ask the public to be a little bit patient and perhaps they will have to wait a little bit longer, but we see that we'll be out of this in a very, very short period of time because of the extra effort that my employees are putting forward.



Mrs Sandra Pupatello (Windsor-Sandwich): I mentioned earlier how thrilled we were to have an announcement that meant a victory for the youth in Ontario. I do have a question to direct to the Minister of Education and Training today. Perhaps the minister missed our tour of Ontario, but as you know, the students across Ontario were in dire straits to hear the kinds of programs that would be introduced. We know that the programs had been cancelled. We knew you had a very busy couple of weeks to reintroduce programs and come back today to announce that in fact you're going to hire more youth throughout the summer months.

I'd like to get the assurance from the minister today that even though you're taking $3 million out of the program, you are going to allow the youth of Ontario to prepare themselves to pay the increased tuition that they'll be facing come September and that the youth programs you've introduced today are going to take care of that for the youth.

Hon John Snobelen (Minister of Education and Training): I want to thank the honourable member opposite for the question. Indeed, this is a good-news announcement. There are thousands more jobs for our young people in the province of Ontario, the young people who need those work opportunities, who need them not only to pay for their college and university tuitions and other living expenses, but also to get those work habits that they need to get on with their careers in the province. So I think this is excellent news: thousands more jobs for young people in Ontario at a cost that's a real value for the taxpayers.

Mrs Pupatello: Let's take an example of one of these programs then, since we've got an assurance that you really are going to do more for the youth. The Environmental Youth Corps, as an example, one of the programs you announced today, they had a budget last year of $10.1 million. You say that you're going to have their number of jobs for this part of the program, at 3,500, it's going to be increased to 6,200. But you've also told them about the length of weeks. Last year it was 14 to 16 weeks, but this year it's 10 to 12 weeks. Now, how are we going to have the moneys being spread around? It's clear you're going to have every student make less so that you can come back at the end of the program and say, "Look how many more students we've hired." I'd like some kind of an explanation, because we don't expect a minister to come to the House and fudge the numbers.

Hon Mr Snobelen: Thank you for the question. I think it's a good one. We want to make sure that our summer programs have some commonality, that they represent about the same time period, so temporally we've made some changes. But I want to tell you that the core change is this: We are looking to work with the private sector to provide these jobs and to help fund these jobs, because we think, as I said in my statement earlier, that these are not only work opportunities for young people, but they're of benefit to employers across the province too.

It's certainly to their benefit to have young people employed on a summer basis and to develop in the youth of Ontario the kind of skills that will be necessary for their ongoing careers. So I think this announcement's good news all the way across. It's good news for employers, it's good news for young people and it's another example of doing more with less, of levering those tax dollars and making a big difference for young people in Ontario. We're proud of it.


Mr Tony Silipo (Dovercourt): I have a question to the Premier. During the time that we were the government, we embraced an open and public process in terms of the budget process that allowed people across the province to come forward and give their views on what should be dealt with through the budget, not just through the finance committee hearings, but indeed through the finance minister's own pre-budget consultations.

Premier, your government turned its back on this process when you scrapped this very same process. We know that the finance minister is meeting with groups, but he's meeting in very private meetings. This morning, we in the NDP caucus began our own process of talking with people and hearing what people really are concerned about. I want to tell you that we intend to continue across the province the meetings that we started here this morning in Toronto, bringing people together to talk about the real options that are in front of this province.

We heard this morning, in just a short one-and-a-half-hour discussion, that people are really concerned, they're really worried, they're fearful. They're worried about the long-term deficit that you will be creating, the increasing poverty that will come about as a result of your actions, the abandonment of the environment, a loss of standards for social services and the loss of jobs which your fiscal plan will be responsible for. Given the good sense that exists out there among people from all walks of life, why have you allowed your finance minister to abandon this process of open consultation with people before making up your mind about what budget decisions you will reflect in the budget later this spring?

Hon Michael D. Harris (Premier): On February 5, the Minister of Finance appeared before the standing committee on finance and economic affairs to kick off the pre-budget consultation process. In addition, the Minister of Finance is meeting, as did the former Minister of Finance, with more than 40 groups and associations -- representatives from business, labour, the agriculture community, high-tech industry. The parliamentary assistant to the Minister of Finance, Isabel Bassett, is meeting with a variety of sectors. MPPs are consulting with members. We invite input, over and above the committee, from all members of the Legislature and from all of those concerned.

I think they have been probably more extensive than any that were held by the New Democratic Party. Consultations actually are still ongoing, continuing right through to April 23. I might add that there are caucus consultations and I would hope that you're having those too. The only thing that has surprised me is that in the process that you and the member for Beaches-Woodbine have kicked off I don't know where the other two leadership candidates are in your leadership tour to hear other submissions. But I want to say we would welcome your submissions, and from the other two leadership candidates if they want to embark on their own tour. We'd welcome that input.

Mr Silipo: You can continue to let your arrogance flow as much as you want. You can try to paint this as a leadership contest all you want. The reality is that we are providing the vehicle for public discussion which you and your Minister of Finance are not doing.

I have to say that I found it very interesting. If the Premier thinks that this is just another futile exercise, why was it that we had officials from the Ministry of Finance sitting in on the discussion? Maybe it was because it's the only way that the Ministry of Finance is going to hear what the public really thinks out there, because certainly they're not hearing through discussions that the Minister of Finance is holding, which are being held behind closed doors. When the Minister of Finance came to the budget committee, he didn't provide us any information about the options that they were looking at.


Is that all happening, Premier, because you really have just made up your mind about the tax cut, about all the job cuts, about everything else that you are doing and you have no room left to listen to whatever it is that people have to say out there?

This morning, when you were asked about the Embarrass Harris Campaign, your response was that you tend to respond more to logical, sensible arguments. Let me tell you, there were lots of logical, sensible arguments in the meeting that I was at this morning and there are lots of logical, sensible arguments out there, but you're not going to hear them unless you and your ministers are out there listening to those discussions. I want to ask you again, why will you not reinstate the open public discussions that the previous Minister of Finance had for four years in this province, which give people an opportunity to talk to you and hopefully talk good sense to you through that process?

Hon Mr Harris: I guess you're talking about the process that led to 32 tax hikes. Is that the process? Is this the process that you heard from that encouraged the Minister of Finance to run four $10-billion deficits in a row? Is this the process where the Minister of Finance heard that he should run up $100 billion in debt? Because if that's the process, we're not interested in that process. We're interested in hearing, quite frankly, I might say, from all of the people.

I might tell you that we did listen for four years. We put together a proposal. We campaigned on it in what might be called the ultimate consultation where the people said: "We'd like our taxes cut so we can be competitive. We'd like to spend more efficiently. We'd like a budget, the first one introduced by the new government, that brings us on a path to fully balance our budget." I might add that we are indeed committed by virtue of our campaign promises and commitments, as you all indicate, to do just what we asked the people to elect us to do. So we are delivering on that, and within that framework we welcome all opinion and all input. But if you're asking us to deliver the kind of budgets you delivered with tax hikes, job losses, bigger deficits, higher debt, more people on welfare, we're not interested in that.


Mr Garry J. Guzzo (Ottawa-Rideau): My question is for the Premier. Mr Premier, earlier today you were asked by the member for Beaches-Woodbine with regard to certain appointments made by this administration, and in particular Mr Callaghan's name was mentioned. Having had the opportunity to campaign with Mr Callaghan and meet him during the election campaign, I would wonder if the Premier might like to expand to some extent on this man's background and his qualifications.

Hon Michael D. Harris (Premier): I might add that it is, I think, rewarding and interesting that finally we get a question that comes from the ebb and flow of the debate in the House as opposed to the setup, scripted questions that normally come forward. Might I congratulate the member, because lots of times people at home say: "Don't they listen? Is this all a setup? Is it all for that?"

I am pleased because, as I indicated in response to the member for Beaches-Woodbine, this matter had gone before the committee, and it's important that you understand that the College of Midwives, that college set up by the NDP, is set up with seven to eight midwives and then five to seven public members. The criteria set out by the NDP were this: Public members cannot be members of a regulatory college; they cannot be midwives; they can't be any other health professional. They are to represent the public interest and should be open-minded in regard to the profession.

I am supposing that these were the criteria that just before the election prompted the NDP to appoint to the very same college Lucie Paquin, constituency assistant to Len Wood, NDP MPP for Cochrane. That was on May 15, just about when the polls said the government and that job may disappear for Lucy Pacquin; or Abby Pollonetsky, a director of the New Democratic Party of Canada, on May 4. So I am assuming that the NDP were looking for laypeople, non-professionals, non-medical background, to fill those criteria, and indeed we believe Mr Callaghan fills those criteria better than these appointments.

Mr Guzzo: My supplementary question would be to the Premier. I'd like to know, Mr Premier, if you have some more people of that quality and qualifications that I support and have recognized in Mr Callaghan from eastern Ontario, and any appointments in the offing, people of that nature.

Hon Mr Harris: I want to say that I agree with you on Mr Callaghan's qualifications, as did the committee. It's a matter of public record, his community services and experiences. He also put on the record his sensitivity to the subject of birthing, having two very personal experiences that are now a matter of record that I don't think anybody would particularly want to contradict.

I want to assure the member and again congratulate him on coming forth with these spontaneous questions, because it really helps the image of all members of all parties of the House to get away from this viewpoint that a lot of the public have that question period is a fix and they really know the answers or they don't really want to know. Let me assure the member there are many very talented, qualified people coming forward. I want to indicate that many of them are willing to serve for $1 a year and many of them are serving in that capacity, in unprecedented numbers. Some may have had previous political experience, but that of course is not the primary criterion.


Mr Dominic Agostino (Hamilton East): My question is to the Minister of Community and Social Services. Minister, you have now basically acknowledged that you are going to change the definition of "disability" and that this change is going to come in a short little while here in Ontario. We're talking about individuals who are permanently unemployable who are disabled. We're talking about cancer patients in remission, people with psychiatric conditions, people with heart conditions. This category is now being reviewed by your ministry with an intent to move these people out of this system into the welfare system, so someone would go from $900 a month to $560 a month once you've made your changes. It's going to save you millions of dollars on the backs of the disabled.

Minister, can you assure us today that once you have completed your redefinition of "disability" in Ontario, not one single person who is now receiving disability pension will be ineligible as a result of your changing and forcing them on to welfare for a lower rate? Can you simply give that assurance to the House today?

Hon David H. Tsubouchi (Minister of Community and Social Services): Sometimes it's nice if the honourable member across the way wouldn't engage in the practice of setting up straw men so he can knock them down. I have not acknowledged any change in any definition of "disabled." The honourable member is starting with an assumption and clearly his starting point is incorrect.

As I've said to this particular member before, and clearly in the House as well, this is one of the reasons why we have this advisory committee, so we can have consultation with the disabled community. These are the groups of the caregivers. We have an obligation right now, and we are working right now with the disabled community to find out what their needs are. This particular member keeps on coming up over and over again with these assumptions and he considers them to be true and self-evident, but they're not. He's got to start with a real and true premise.



Mr John Gerretsen (Kingston and The Islands): I have a petition here that's addressed to the Honourable Lieutenant Governor and the Legislative Assembly of Ontario.

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

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

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

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

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

I proudly affix my signature to it.



Ms Marilyn Churley (Riverdale): I have a petition with about 150 signatures from people in my riding and across Ontario.

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

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

"Whereas the minister's credibility in all future actions and statements will be clouded by these discrepancies,

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

I affix my signature to this petition.


Mr Toby Barrett (Norfolk): I have a petition to the Honourable Lieutenant Governor and the Legislative Assembly of Ontario.

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

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

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

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

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

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

I affix my name to this petition.


Mr Frank Miclash (Kenora): I have a petition to the Legislative Assembly of Ontario. It reads:

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

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

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

I have affixed my name to that petition as well.


Mr Gilles Bisson (Cochrane South): Here I have a petition from a number of people from around the city of Toronto, initiated by Paul Daniels. The petition reads:

"Whereas Mike Harris's Conservative government of Ontario is planning to destroy the present system of rent control;

"Whereas Mike Harris and the Conservative Party made no mention of scrapping rent control during the election campaign of 1995 or in the Common Sense Revolution document;

"Whereas a number of Conservative candidates in ridings with high tenant populations campaigned during the 1995 election on a platform of protecting the current rent control system;

"Whereas the government has consulted with special-interest groups representing landlords and developers while cutting funding to organizations representing the 3.5 million tenants in Ontario;

"Whereas although all renters will suffer, seniors and others on fixed incomes will suffer particular hardship if rent controls are abolished,

"We, the undersigned, call upon the Legislature of Ontario to stop the attack on the 3.5 million tenants of this province."

I sign the petition.


Mr Bernard Grandmaître (Ottawa East): I have a petition addressed to the Legislature of Ontario.

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

I have signed this petition.


Mr Peter Kormos (Welland-Thorold): I've got a petition addressed to Transportation Minister Al Palladini and to the Legislative Assembly of Ontario with respect to legislation proposed that will cost many towns their bus service.

"Bus companies are currently required to provide service for smaller towns as a condition of being given the rights to high-profit routes and charter markets. Minister Palladini's plan to deregulate will eliminate all conditions and requirements. As a result, hundreds of smaller communities like ours are going to lose bus service.

"Minister, people in smaller towns and villages need bus service just as much as people in big cities." -- like Toronto -- "We depend upon buses to visit friends and family, to get to appointments in nearby towns, to ship our Christmas presents and to receive our repair parts. The undersigned call upon the members of the Legislative Assembly to oppose bus deregulation and the elimination of our bus service."

That's signed by just numbers and numbers and numbers of people. I have affixed my signature.


Mr Dan Newman (Scarborough Centre): I have a petition today signed by a number of residents from the city of Scarborough. 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 pediatric services, including inpatient pediatric 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 signature to this petition.


Mr Peter North (Elgin): I have a petition to the Legislative Assembly of Ontario.

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

"That junior kindergarten as it stands in the current public school system remain as a level of education for our children, governed by the provincial government,

"Therefore, we, the people of Elgin county, request that the House refrain from cancelling junior kindergarten as proposed by the current Harris government. We request that junior kindergarten remain as part of the public school system."

It's signed by a number of people in my riding.


Mr David Ramsay (Timiskaming): "To the Legislative Assembly of Ontario:

"Whereas the Ministry of Transportation has had 12.8 kilometres of Highway 11 between Temagami and south of Highway 64 turnoff reconstructed during October to April 1995; and

"Whereas the contractor for this project is Allan Cook Construction of Barrie, Ontario; and

"Whereas the condition of this highway during construction was deplorable and caused considerable damage to vehicles driving north and south along this" portion of highway "and the lack of maintenance during the construction period caused an unsafe environment for vehicle traffic from the south and north who had to use Highway 11 as the only route for residents, businesses and tourists in the area; and

"Whereas the length of time for this construction to be completed was too long of a time frame and being the months of April, May, June, July, August and September (1995) afforded the most favourable weather for the necessary construction work to be completed,

"We, the undersigned, petition the Legislative Assembly of Ontario to disallow a similar situation of road construction to occur in the future and to guarantee a safe and good passable roadway during any further road construction for the residents of northern Ontario, transportation vehicles of goods and services, and tourists to and from northern Ontario."


Mr Howard Hampton (Rainy River): I have a petition.

"To the Legislative Assembly of Ontario:

"Transportation Minister Al Palladini is proposing legislation that will cost many towns their bus service.

"Bus companies are currently required to provide service for smaller towns as a condition of being given the rights to high-profit routes and charter markets. Minister Palladini's plan to deregulate will eliminate all conditions and requirements. As a result, hundreds of smaller communities like ours will lose bus service.

"Minister, people in smaller towns need bus service just as much as people in big cities. We depend upon buses to visit friends and family, to get to appointments in nearby towns, to ship our Christmas presents and to receive our repair parts. The undersigned call upon the members of the Legislative Assembly to oppose bus deregulation and the elimination of our bus service."

This petition is signed by 15 residents of the province. I affix my signature as well, as I agree with this petition.


Mr Dominic Agostino (Hamilton East): To the Legislative Assembly of Ontario:

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

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

"Therefore we, the undersigned, call on the Minister of Health to reject all recommendations put forward by the Hamilton task force related to any hospital closures in Hamilton-Wentworth, and in particular St Joseph's Hospital at 50 Charlton Street East in Hamilton."

I am pleased to affix my signature to the petition.


Ms Marilyn Churley (Riverdale): I have petitions here from well over, I think in this set, 200 people.

"We, the undersigned, petition the Legislative Assembly of Ontario to abandon, reduce or delay the provincial government's proposed 30% tax reduction in order to maintain needed funding and services for the two million people of Metro Toronto."

I affix my signature to this petition.



Mr Michael Gravelle (Port Arthur): The people of northwestern Ontario continue to express great support for the family support plan and the need for the regional offices to be maintained. It reads:

"We, being residents and taxpayers of Ontario, hereby wish to notify you that we oppose the centralization of the family support plan and in particular the closure of the Thunder Bay branch of the family support plan for the following reasons," which I read into Hansard yesterday.

It summarizes by saying, "We hereby respectfully request that you give consideration to our concerns and reject any proposal for the closure of the Thunder Bay branch."

I've got over 1,000 signatures here, and I'm proud to sign my own name as well.


Mr Peter Kormos (Welland-Thorold): I've got a petition to the Honourable Lieutenant Governor and the Legislative Assembly of Ontario.

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

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

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

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

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

That signed by Barbara LeBlanc of Welland, by Marielle Labrie of Welland, and hundreds and hundreds of others.


Mr Dominic Agostino (Hamilton East): "We, the undersigned, believe that rent control abolition would lead to a steep rise in rents due to the persistent shortage of affordable housing in Hamilton-Wentworth. Tenants, who are among the most affected by ongoing mass layoffs, wage cuts and hiring freezes, and senior citizens on fixed incomes will suffer greatly if rent controls are abolished. We are not in favour of the proposed abolition of rent controls by the provincial government."

I urge this House to reject any attempt to do so, and I'm pleased to sign my name to the petition.

Mr Gilles Bisson (Cochrane South): I have yet another petition, this time from people around the Hamilton area, who sent this petition to me as the housing critic for the NDP. It reads:

"Whereas security of tenure or the right to remain in our homes is a basic need of all humans, and whereas uncontrolled rent increases force many tenants from their homes for both economic and other reasons, and as the Minister of Municipal Affairs and Housing and the Premier of Ontario have both expressed publicly their desire to abolish rent control;

"We, the undersigned, petition the Legislative Assembly to protect the security of tenure of Ontario tenants by ensuring that rent controls remain in effect in this province."

I've signed the petition.


Mr Michael Gravelle (Port Arthur): The residents of public housing continue to be very concerned and apprehensive about the government's intention to privatize, and I have another petition saying:

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

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

"Whereas such privatization will cause financial hardship and insecurity;

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

I am pleased to add my signature to it.


Mr Gilles Bisson (Cochrane South): I have yet another petition, this time from the people of Windsor. It reads:

"Whereas security of tenure or the right to remain in our homes is a basic need of all humans, and whereas uncontrolled rent increases force many tenants from their homes for both economic and other reasons, and as the Minister of Municipal Affairs and Housing and the Premier of Ontario have both expressed publicly their desire to abolish rent control;

"We, the undersigned, petition the Legislative Assembly to protect the security of tenure of Ontario tenants by ensuring that rent controls remain in effect in this province."



Mr Barrett from the standing committee on regulations and private bills presented the following report and moved its adoption:

Your committee recommends that the following bill be not reported:

Bill Pr42, An Act respecting the City of Ottawa.

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



Mr Sterling moved first reading of the following bill:

Bill 35, An Act to amend the Personal Property Security Act / Projet de loi 35, Loi modifiant la Loi sur les sûretés mobilières.

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


Mr Hodgson moved first reading of the following bill:

Bill 36, An Act to amend certain acts administered by the Ministry of Natural Resources / Projet de loi 36, Loi modifiant certaines lois appliquées par le ministère des Richesses naturelles.

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


Mr Wildman moved first reading of the following bill:

Bill 37, An Act to amend the Education Act to require co-operation among boards / Projet de loi 37, Loi modifiant la Loi sur l'éducation pour exiger la collaboration entre les conseils.

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

Mr Bud Wildman (Algoma): The bill amends the Education Act to require coterminous school boards to cooperate in the provision and purchase and use of goods and services, goods such as supplies and equipment and facilities, services such as transportation services, educational, administrative and operational support services.

Nothing in this bill infringes upon rights under collective agreements.


Hon Norman W. Sterling (Minister of Consumer and Commercial Relations): Mr Speaker, I believe I have unanimous consent to call as the first order of the day the amendment to the Personal Property Security Act, which I just introduced, and that I have unanimous consent to call that for second and third reading today as well.

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


Mr Sterling moved second reading of the following bill:

Bill 35, An Act to amend the Personal Property Security Act / Projet de loi 35, Loi modifiant la Loi sur les sûretés mobilières.

Hon Norman W. Sterling (Minister of Consumer and Commercial Relations): At the outset, I'd like to thank the critic for the Liberal Party and the critic for the New Democratic Party for going to their caucuses and explaining this bill to their caucuses prior to the introduction of the bill. I was glad to share it with them prior to the introduction because of their understanding that it was necessary to have quick passage of this to protect some small businesses and some creditors in our province.

I'd like to outline the basis of the bill. Under the Personal Property Security Act, it's necessary to re-register an instrument on its termination date, and you have 30 days in which to do that. Because the computers were shut down during the recent strike, people who had instruments that came to an end during that period of time or just immediately prior to it did not have the opportunity to re-register their instrument. This meant that their lien against a particular chattel became unperfected, as they say in the legal business, meaning that it no longer was a charge against that particular chattel or piece of personal property.

The problem with that, of course, is that all of a sudden the system gets out of sync and that those who would have another lien against that property or against all of the assets of a business would get out of sync with what was actually intended by the people who are conducting the business around that particular piece of property.


In the case of liens which were supposed to be re-registered during that period of time, what we are proposing to do in this legislation is to give the people who should have re-registered during the shutdown five days to re-register those instruments. If they re-register those instruments within those five days, their effective date in terms of their protection will go back to the date when their lien terminated against that particular chattel.

The second area that is of importance as well is when a small business person has sold perhaps a computer and taken a lien on that computer to secure the amount of money left owing on the computer. Under the Personal Property Security Act, you have 10 days in order to register that lien to get the first charge against that particular computer. If you don't register it within 10 days but register it later, you become second to some of the other liens that would be against perhaps all of the assets of that particular business. It's common, for instance, for a bank to take a lien against all of the chattels or all of the property of a particular business. So by not being able to register the lien within 10 days, the small business man who has sold the computer to that business has lost his priority to the bank. That would happen, and that would show up particularly in the case of a bankruptcy.

In the third instance, there is a requirement to discharge a lien within 30 days of being paid off, and of course people have not had that opportunity to register that discharge when the computers have been shut down. This legislation will give people five days to register discharges of liens against chattels in the future. We don't know yet when the computers are going to be up. It takes a considerable amount of time to get the computers back on stream. The legislation indicates that I will put a notice in the Ontario Gazette when those computers are ready to start up again, and from the initial day there will be four days after that to make a total of five, or the additional day plus nine in order to register the first lien against the smaller chattel in the second case that I indicated.

That is the basic guts of the legislation. The need for us to pass this quickly is in case of a company going bankrupt. There is good law and there is also arguable law that when a person or a business goes bankrupt the law freezes as of that day. If there were a bankruptcy today or yesterday, for instance, we might be stuck with the old regime of priorities that had been skewed by the fact that the registry system wasn't working during the strike. Once this law is passed, then the new regime will be in place and people will have the opportunity to correct the priority dates or the priority of the various liens against the chattels.

I'd be pleased to answer any questions of the members here and again want to thank them for their cooperation in putting this situation back in place.

The Acting Speaker (Mr Gilles E. Morin): Questions or comments?

Mr Bruce Crozier (Essex South): It's my pleasure to reply to the minister and to reiterate that we are pleased to join you and the third party, I understand, in supporting the swift passage of this bill, the Personal Property Security Amendment Act, so that it might benefit all the lenders, the small businesses and individuals the minister has spoken to.

This is a small example of, when someone with your influence and experience and power within cabinet introduces a bill, how swiftly these things can be done, and perhaps could suggest that if the minister and I and the critic for the third party were to get together, we could probably run this whole province more efficiently. I wish you well with your bill.

Mr Gilles Bisson (Cochrane South): I have a couple of questions of the minister, but prior to that I would just say that this is an example where many people don't understand that at times in the Legislature we don't fight on issues just because we want to. We decide that many times in legislation there are things that we need to do, that we have to do, all of us, for the good of Ontario, and we do that. But at times we do disagree and we have very strong argument on that. I think people need to recognize this is not one of those times.

One of the two questions I have for you is simply this: In regard to the five days' notification, I take it that it will only be published in the Gazette and it will be up to individuals to find out what is required of them to reregister their liens. Is that the only mechanism by which you're going to do that?

The other question is that you're saying it is a problem to start up and to get back up on line the computer network system itself. I understand the same problem exists with the Ministry of Transportation presently, where it's having difficulty trying to get the computers back on line again. Understanding something about computers -- I wouldn't say I'm expert, but I understand a fair amount about networking -- what is the difficulty? Maybe you can shed a bit of light on that. I need to know, is it a question that there's a problem with the system or is it just that the equipment is so old they're having some problems trying to warm it up once again?

The Acting Speaker: Any further questions or comments? If not, Minister, you have two minutes.

Hon Mr Sterling: I thank you for your support of the bill. The official notification will be occurring in the Gazette. We will be making every attempt to publicize the dates in every other forum that we can, including that I will come into this Legislature and indicate the date here in this Legislature, as well as doing a number of other things in trying to get to those people who would be involved with the small business community. We're going to be in touch with the Canadian Federation of Independent Business people. We're going to be in touch with the bar.

Mr Bisson: The OFL?

Hon Mr Sterling: If the OFL wants to find out; I didn't realize that they were in the securing of business. But I ask the members, if they have suggestions as to how I can propagate this particular date, I would be pleased to receive their comments.

I can't really comment on the problem with the computers. This was a first instance. I guess it's reflected by the fact that the act never contemplated this kind of situation. However, I think it has pointed out a weakness in our computer systems in government and the fact that they can't be shut down easily and started easily. I'd have to refer you to Mr Johnson, who is the head of Management Board. They fall under him. Again, thank you very much for your support.


The Acting Speaker: Any further debate?

Mr Peter Kormos (Welland-Thorold): I want to thank the minister for introducing this bill. As the former leader of the party graced me with the position of critic for consumer and commercial relations -- and it was something like being the Maytag repairman -- I'm grateful for any legislation that comes from the Ministry of Consumer and Commercial Relations -- this is the second one -- because you see, it gives me an opportunity to respond as a critic.

I was assured, of course, at the time I was given this critic's position that it would be extremely high profile, that I'd have an opportunity to address a number of issues here in the Legislature, that I'd be engaging in debate frequently and I trusted the former leader when he advised me of that. I felt I was in good hands.

In any event, I also want to thank, from Welland-Thorold riding, the Niagara Credit Union, Atlas and Civic Employees Credit Union, Canal City Savings and Credit Union and Thorold Community Credit Union, along with some 15 to 20 lawyers whose expertise is in commercial practice who assisted me in responding to this bill, telling you that this caucus is going to support the bill, of course, but expressing a couple of concerns.

One, as my colleague Mr Bisson did, there has been concern expressed to me about the nature of publication. Of course, we know that the Gazette is the official forum, the official venue for the publication of the reinstatement date which will be determined by regulation. It's been suggested by members of the bar, of course, that the Ontario Reports be used as a vehicle for transmitting that information. Obviously, from the credit unions' perspective, there are communication processes that are available to credit unions that would make it suitable.

Some concern though about the retroactivity of it and recognizing that the courts have, by and large, upheld retroactivity. But certainly, in cases when courts have upheld retroactivity, it's been reinforced, or it's been easier for the courts to uphold retroactivity when there's been notice at least of intention. That clearly in this instance was lacking.

I mention that -- obviously, if people choose to litigate on that basis, God bless and let the courts deal with it. It remains, however, that the OPSEU strike, of course, lasted a considerable period of time. It lasted 30-plus days. It would have been, in our view, preferable for at least notice of this type of legislation to have been offered up when a strike first became the case. One is left with the impression that, yes, this government suspected OPSEU was going to fold its tents and quietly fold their picket lines in short order. Clearly, history has demonstrated otherwise. The women and men in the Ontario Public Service Employees Union fought with courage, with tenacity, indeed with solidarity. They won and they won notwithstanding the government's desire that they be crushed as an organized force of workers.

As well, this illustrates once again, as so many things did during the course of that work stoppage, how important the work of public sector workers is to our day-to-day lives. There was a tendency, certainly by the government, and unfortunately by a few other people, to disregard or discount the role of public sector workers. Well, here is but another example, another illustration of how important those public sector workers are to the economy of our communities, to the health of our communities, to the safety of our communities, to the welfare of our communities and to the prosperity of our communities. It underscores the fact that we should indeed value public sector work. We should recognize the great contribution it makes to the wealth of this province.

The act is one which demonstrates, yes, a level of cooperation on the part of the opposition parties. One would only wish that there was the same level-headedness that would prevail in the context of, oh, let's say, this absurd appointment of Daniel Callaghan to the council of the College of Midwives here in the province of Ontario, a person totally unqualified, a person whose nomination has outraged women and advocates for midwifery and the community of midwifery here in the province of Ontario.

The Acting Speaker: Speak to the bill, please.

Mr Kormos: The Personal Property Security Amendment Act that we're dealing with today in second reading pales in comparison to the outrageousness of that type of appointment. That, I regret to say, is going to be the legacy of this government far more than this appropriate but modest bit of cleanup after the government mismanagement of labour relations with the Ontario Public Service Employees Union.

As well I've got to tell you, noting here that as lead speaker I have an hour and a half to speak, that I'm not going to speak for an hour and a half by any stretch of the imagination. I'm not even contemplating it; I'm not even considering it in this case.

You should know that in the government agencies committee, the government members have moved a motion to impose closure on debate on concurrence to a mere 10 minutes for all three motions on concurrence. That means a maximum of three and one third minutes for each caucus to discuss some very important matters of appointment to some very important boards, agencies and commissions. I find it extremely disappointing, indeed beyond disappointing; it's outright disgusting.

First of all it's probably illegal, because if one reads Erskine May one discovers that the British Parliament of 1883 indicated quite clearly it is not the committee that can establish its own procedures other than, I presume, by unanimous consent; it is only the Legislature. I suspect very much that the government's motion in the government agencies committee is out of order, and if it's not out of order, it's certainly immoral and repugnant to any fairminded person and anybody who has any regard for the process of democracy, not only here in the House but in the committee.

The New Democrats will be supporting the Personal Property Security Amendment Act, will be consenting to its third reading. We will undoubtedly be assisting in communicating to those good lending institutions like credit unions -- I can't emphasize strongly enough that the banks I have little sympathy for. By God, I have little sympathy for them. If this legislation was designed only to protect banking interests, we'd be opposing it with all the passion we could muster. Don't forget that the banks in this country and province made in excess of $5 billion last year, made incredible profits, made profits off the deficit and haven't been called upon to help pay off that deficit. Rather, it's been the poorest who are being called upon to pay off the deficit.

Credit unions, however, community-based financial institutions owned by their membership -- what a novel proposition. That's why they're strong; that's why they're valuable assets to the community. They have indicated a desire to see this passed promptly and we will be supporting it. I thank Mr Sterling for presenting this legislation. I encourage him to present more legislation, as frequently as possible, in as many diverse areas as possible. It will no doubt frustrate the whip and the House leader that I have an opportunity to respond to these things, but what the heck, I need a break at this point, don't I?

The Acting Speaker: Any further debate? Mr Sterling has moved second reading of Bill 35. Is it the pleasure of the House that the motion carry? Carried.

Shall the bill be ordered for third reading? Agreed.


Mr Sterling moved third reading of the following bill:

Bill 35, An Act to amend the Personal Property Security Act / Projet de loi 35, Loi modifiant la Loi sur les sûretés mobilières.

Hon Mr Sterling: I would just again like to thank not only the members of the Legislature, but Teri Kirk, director of my legal services, and Allen Doppelt who is the senior counsel in charge of the Personal Property Security Act, for their timely and hard work in getting this together in a very short period of time. And I thank members for their support.

The Acting Speaker: Any further debate? Mr Sterling has moved third reading of Bill 35. Is it the pleasure of the House that 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 second reading of Bill 31, An Act to establish the Ontario College of Teachers and to make related amendments to certain statutes / Loi créant l'Ordre des enseignantes et des enseignants de l'Ontario et apportant des modifications connexes à certaines lois.

Mr John O'Toole (Durham East): Mr Speaker, it is indeed my pleasure today to have the opportunity to share a few thoughts with you, the members of the House and the people of Ontario, and to participate in the debate on second reading of Bill 31, the Ontario College of Teachers Act.

I believe that education is critically important to the future of Ontario and that excellence in teaching is critical to quality in education.

The concept of the College of Teachers has been suggested for many years. You may recall the Hall-Dennis report in 1967, and most recently the Royal Commission on Learning. Both reports supported the College of Teachers concept. There has been broad support to recognize teachers as a profession. By definition, a profession is a self-regulating body.

I have to tell you that over the past few months I have strengthened my personal respect for the hard work of classroom teachers and the work they undertake every day in the classroom on behalf of our children and the communities they serve today. I can tell you, as a parent with five children, I understand the difficult balance in the role of a teacher. You must remember, the parent is the primary educator, but our teachers are trained educators, and we are partners indeed in our children's future. That's why I am pleased that our government, through Bill 31, the Ontario College of Teachers Act, is working to improve the quality of education in our province and to strengthen the position of the teaching profession itself.

I would like to note for your information, and the honourable members', the similarity of Bill 31 to legislation passed by this assembly in previous administrations; for example, the similarities with the Regulated Health Professions Act, which provides a comprehensive framework for the regulation of 24 health profession deliverers in our province.

Our entire educational system is undergoing profound changes today. These changes are being driven by an increased public demand for excellence and accountability. At the same time, it is clear we must make our system more affordable, while ensuring that we deliver value and quality to the students and the taxpayers of Ontario. Our government knows how essential it is to assure public confidence in education and to do so in a way that is economically sustainable to everyone.

As the minister, John Snobelen, has noted, a self-regulating College of Teachers represents a significant step forward for the profession of teaching itself in Ontario, and indeed for the teaching and education system of Ontario. Once established, the College of Teachers will be responsible for:

The development of standards and practices that define what an individual should know and be able to do when he or she enters the teaching profession and through his or her professional teaching career;

The accreditation of pre-service and in-service teacher education programs offered by faculties of education, colleges, school boards, teachers' federations and other organizations;

A new emphasis on classroom experience through an enhanced, pre-service teacher education program;

An investigation into disciplinary processes to maintain standards of excellence and competence in the members of the profession of teachers;

A provincial framework for ongoing professional teacher development and development of all educators.

New skills and educational opportunities to enable teachers to deal with the dynamics of today's classrooms are an absolute necessity. Teachers today, in the course of their careers will be required to deal with a diversity of issues, including the use of new technologies and the preparation of students for further learning and learning in the workplace.

A continued focus on the traditional basic skills of literacy and numeracy is even more important today than ever. Lifelong learning is indeed a continuous process, as is curriculum development. As the classroom changes, initial pre-service training must be supplemented by professional growth during the career of a teacher. The college will ensure the necessary framework for career-long professional development and its availability to meet the requirements and expectations of the population.

Each of the initiatives I have just highlighted is designed to maintain high standards of practice and to give every teacher a new autonomy in dealing with the important issues facing their profession today. Ontario teachers deserve a well-articulated and coherent approach linking preparation, certification and ongoing professional support, a point that was not lost on the Royal Commission on Learning, I might add. The college will also have important implications for parents, students and taxpayers in Ontario.

As is the case with other self-regulating professional bodies, the Ontario College of Teachers will have significant public representation on its governing council and committees. In fact, 14 of the 31 members of the council will come from the broader public community. I strongly believe that to effectively regulate a profession such as teaching, the college must establish strong communication with all the partners: parents, students and the community. Public input is critical if we are to achieve our objective of increased public confidence in our school systems today.

I might add there will be a public process of hearing during the committee process on this bill, and there are other ways in which the college will address the issue of accountability in a more broad, consultative process.

Meetings of the governing council of the college and its disciplinary hearing process will be open to college members and to the public. Any employer or any member of the public will also have access to information on teacher qualifications in Ontario.

Finally, the council will report annually to the Minister of Education and Training, and a report of its activities will be tabled before this Legislature.

In conclusion, the creation of the Ontario College of Teachers will mark a historic moment for the teaching profession in Ontario and for our education system of the future. By establishing this body, we are acting on our commitment to maintain and improve the quality of education in Ontario today. We are working with our teachers to develop the classrooms of the future. Professional teachers working with excellence in education will help all our children and indeed all of our province. The new College of Teachers is the perfect professional forum for this to happen.

The Acting Speaker (Mr Gilles E. Morin): Questions or comments? Any further debate?

Mr Dominic Agostino (Hamilton East): I rise to speak on what I think is a very important bill, a bill that clearly will play a significant role in the development of classroom education and teachers in Ontario in years to come. It's one of those bills that I think all of us could probably find some parts of that we're comfortable with and agree with, and I think all of us, members on all sides of the House, have expressed some concerns about certain aspects of the bill.

Having spent seven years as a school trustee, I certainly saw first hand the competence, the dedication and the professionalism of teachers across this province. All of us have had experiences with teachers throughout our lives, throughout our educational process, that have left a lasting impact on us. I can certainly say that I have experienced such teachers, I have experienced such professionalism and I've experienced some very positive impacts from tremendous teachers whom I had the opportunity and the honour of dealing with.

I'm pleased that I could be part of that system of education in Ontario, a system that has served us well over the years and a system that I believe is one of the finest, if not the finest, educational systems in North America and throughout the world. I think that's something we all agree with and something that all of us are striving to improve, to make sure we can do things that will help the educational system in Ontario, will make our system as competent and as professional as we have the ability to make it, and I think we agree on those aspects.


When one looks at the bill in front of us, I have a little concern because I believe that a great deal of what is being proposed in this bill is already within the structure of the educational system within the school boards to do. I know from the time I spent on the board that the process for discipline, the process for regulations, the process for judging professionalism standards is already a fairly extensive one at that.

You already have a situation where with a complaint, a parent, a student, another teacher or another professional has to go through a chain that is already there and through an established process. You have your department heads, you have your principals, you have your area superintendents, you'll usually have your superintendent of human resources and personnel, you'll have the director of education and you'll ultimately have the board. So you already have a five- or six-step process often involved in the evaluation of teachers, often involved in dealing with teachers and concerns that occur and dealing with complaints made by students or parents.

That process is there, and I think for the most part that process works very well and has served us over the years to both protect teachers and ensure that they're treated fairly, to protect the students in the classroom and to ensure that the interests of the taxpayers are well served.

When we look at Bill 31, some of the concerns that have been talked about, of course, are the concept of a governing council or the concept of self-regulation, which means that the profession or the body that is being regulated should have the majority of the numbers. We see that within the medical profession; we see that within the legal profession. When you look at Bill 31, in theory 17 positions are to be elected members, including a supervisor officer, faculty of education rep and a private school representative. So, as has been mentioned before, that in a sense leaves 14 out of the group of 31 that would actually be classroom teachers.

That is not the same principle that is followed by the legal profession, where the vast majority are lawyers, and the medical profession, where the vast majority are doctors, as they should be. That is the concern that teachers who have spoken to me, representatives of the teachers' federations across the province, have brought forward: the fact that the control and the majority is not within the profession. Definitely that's a basic principle that I think we agree on, that if we're going to regulate this profession, the profession should also have the control within this governing body, which would not exist as Bill 31 now stands.

I have some concerns, I think some very serious concerns, in regard to the powers that are given under Bill 31 to access information, the powers that are given to the registrar, the search powers. An investigator can basically obtain a search warrant from a justice of the peace and can search a teacher's home for any evidence that they feel is necessary for incompetence. I think these are extraordinary powers, powers that should not be given, through this bill, to a registrar. If there's a question of criminal or legal responsibility, it should fall within the right jurisdiction, either of a children's aid society, the police department or other investigative bodies.

That is one aspect of the bill that I think has teachers scared; that is one aspect of the bill that I think has many of us scared, from the point of view that it smacks of control, it smacks of invasion of privacy, it smacks of intrusion into people's lives beyond what is necessary from the point of view of trying to get the job done and ensure that the competence is there. These concerns have been expressed by teachers and by organizations across Ontario.

I want to read a copy of a letter received from the Coalition for Lesbian and Gay Rights in Ontario. It says:

"We, the CLGRO sexual orientation education project working group, are writing to express our concern about the Ontario government's recent legislation to establish a College of Teachers and an office of education quality and accountability (Bills 31 and 30). This legislation is an invasion of the rights and privacy of the people of Ontario.

"Both pieces of legislation refer specifically to section 38 of the Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act. In this section, personal information is defined as on the attached page. The lesbian/gay/bisexual community sees many implications on all eight protected areas. Examples of invasions of privacy include: use of hearsay evidence, access of the public to health/ psychiatric/psychological history, use of information on sexual orientation, access to membership lists...use of political thoughts and opinions, and access to personal and confidential mail. All of this information can be gathered by the College of Teachers using a search warrant to enter your residence or workplace."

It's part of that letter that expressed the concerns, I think, that have been expressed by many teachers across Ontario. We have to be very careful, when we set up bodies and jurisdictions that have such massive powers, that there are the proper checks and balances in place to ensure that these powers are not abused to control very often a political agenda rather than a classroom agenda. There is a danger when you give a registrar under this situation so much power and when you have a bill, in a sense, that says it's self-governing but really is not, where the minister can require the college to pass regulations or bylaws that seem advisable or necessary. Even if they don't comply, this can be forced upon them.

You run into the danger of government ideology, of whatever government, dictating the standards, dictating the approach, dictating the level of competence that a government sees in a classroom, but more importantly, dictating in a political sense the political thought process or point of view that may or may not agree with the government of the day.

That is a danger when you have a body that is supposed to be somewhat independent but at the same time has to follow every direction given by the minister, as this bill would have. I think there's a danger in that. We have to be very careful to ensure that if this bill does go through, those provisions are addressed and that those aspects that certainly I've expressed concerns on, and many teachers, in regard to the invasion of privacy are fairly addressed because I don't think we should be exposing anyone in our society to those types of potential abuses by people who may have a witchhunt or an agenda to go after for the wrong reasons.

The other concern with this bill is that it takes away some of the control, some of the power, that boards rightly have now and that board administrations have at this point under our system. It's a question of accountability. The accountability now rests ultimately with school boards, with school trustees, with people who are elected to carry out a mandate in a community and to run a school system.

That accountability that is now there will be somewhat removed with the provisions that are in the bill here. In a situation where a school board can simply pass the buck on an issue it doesn't want to deal with or a school board feels that an issue dealing with a discipline matter or dealing with a problem with a teacher or a certain occurrence is too hot to handle, you pass the buck on to a body that really doesn't have that front-line direct accountability to the taxpayers that school trustees currently have. That is a concern with part of what this bill is expressing now.

I certainly hope that this government will take the time to seriously reconsider what is in front of us. I realize that the process with this bill didn't start with this government. It started with the previous government, and now part of that process is continuing. But this government has an opportunity to ensure that if it's going to be done, it's done right.

We don't want an expensive bureaucracy at a time when there are cutbacks in education, when there are cutbacks in classroom education, when teachers have been laid off, when school boards are struggling to maintain basic services and trying not to increase taxes. Such a time is not the time to set up a bureaucracy that is simply going to add to the cost of education in Ontario, costs that range anywhere from $10 million to $20 million. Those are some of the estimates, if not more, as to the cost of the ongoing implementation and the ongoing operation of this body here.

I think that's a concern. It's a concern the government has to address. If you're going to ensure that there is such a college and if you choose to do that and ultimately, at the end of the day, you do -- and I'm not going to sit here and just whale away at the concept because you certainly have the numbers, you have the majority in the House and you're ultimately going to pass whatever bill you want to pass, but I think it's important to listen to the concerns that have been expressed -- if, at the end of the day, you're going to put a system in place, ensure it's not a system that is expensive, ensure it's not a system that's going to add millions and millions of dollars to the cost of operating education.

Really, if we're concerned about front-line classroom education, if you're going to spend $10 million or $15 million or $20 million, I would ask you to spend it in the classroom. Spend it on the front line. Spend it where it's going to impact directly, not in a bureaucracy or in a system whose function in many ways is already being done through the school boards and through the educational system with the controls that are now in place.


There was a question in regard to the fees. Are teachers going to be charged an annual fee to be part of this? Are teachers going to fund this? If that's the case, is that fair? You're asking teachers now to fund something that really has no direct benefit to them except another level of control, another level of discipline, another body that will set standards that may already be in place in their own school boards. But you're asking those teachers to fund that. So there are your options: You either fund it through the tax base or you end up funding it through teachers. I don't think either option is fair, and that is one of the weaknesses within this proposal, which is that it's going to cost money. Certainly I don't think teachers should be expected to pay for this service that you're imposing upon them.

I believe that what is now there works, that the standards we have for classroom teachers in Ontario continue to be among the highest standards across North America. I think it's a system that works well because over the years we have worked collectively with school boards, teachers' organizations and parent groups to make the types of changes that have improved our educational system, and that is why we've made the type of progress we have.

I ask this government to please consider the concerns that have been expressed here today and that will continue to be expressed by teachers, but most of all to ensure that if we are going to move ahead within the system -- and I go back to Premier Davis, who in 1983 said, "No model of self-governance should go forward without the enthusiastic support and endorsement of the teaching profession." I ask you to remember that clearly, and I ask you to talk to teachers.

Many of them across this province are opposed to this bill. Listen to their concerns. Ultimately, if you are going to go ahead with it, make the changes that are necessary to ensure it is a bill that is going to benefit teachers, that is going to benefit students but doesn't set up a confrontation, doesn't set up an us-against-them approach, doesn't set up a College of Teachers that teachers see as the enemy and the bad guys and the people they have to fight all the time. I think if you ensure that the voting majority on that committee are classroom teachers, you'll go a long way towards that.

The other point I made earlier that I want to reiterate is, look very closely at the provisions in regard to the invasion of privacy within this bill and the massive search powers you're giving the registrar that often will be used for witchhunts. Teachers already have a difficult enough job. Teachers already are very vulnerable to accusations and allegations that are made about them every day, and some teachers' careers have been destroyed across this province as a result of that. I think we have to make sure the provisions in this act and in this bill do not allow open-ended witchhunts simply because someone doesn't like a particular individual or feels they have an axe to grind or don't agree with their point of view or other aspects of their life.

I ask this government to think very carefully and very hard on that. Work together with the teachers and the opposition parties, and let's ensure that if there's going to be a bill passed here, it will be one that is going to fit and is going to ensure that the concerns of all sides are addressed.

The Acting Speaker: Questions or comments?

Mr Richard Patten (Ottawa Centre): I'd like to acknowledge the views of my colleague from Hamilton East. He spent a great deal of time on the concept of self-regulation, which comes up from every speaker on all sides of the House, I might add. I look forward to the time when we get to committee to explore various options, various models that we have in Canada.

I would like to add one note to the comments made by the member for Hamilton East, and that is that the composition in terms of numbers in self-regulating bodies -- it seems to me that public participation is in the range of about 15%. It's not the overwhelming numbers that are presented to us today, and this concerns many of the teachers, for many of the classroom teachers feel that they do not really have a fair degree of control; that if, for some reason, a number of teachers are unable to attend a particular meeting, they could lose seriously, even be part of what some may say is a majority.

I would even acknowledge the concern of the members for Grey-Owen Sound and Wellington for representation. I think they have heard from teachers, as perhaps we all have, in terms of the importance of this. In the final analysis, we're asking that teachers assume the responsibility to make their profession the very best it can possibly be, accept some responsibility for it. That means the government and the people of Ontario need to trust them to do so, and they need to feel they have the numbers to make sure they indeed are responsible, accountable and that their profession is the very best it can be.

Mr Bill Murdoch (Grey-Owen Sound): It certainly is my pleasure to speak on this bill and to congratulate all parties for being able to get together and support a bill without too much arguing. Hopefully, in the end we can all agree on the final draft, after it goes to the public for their input. As the previous member said, we have all heard, my friend from Wellington and myself and I'm sure all of us in this caucus and over there also, from different teachers and educators and people in the public about their concerns or what they think is good about this bill.

The main thing is that I hope this bill goes to a committee and that members of the public, especially our teachers, have a chance for input. I also hope it goes on the road, because it's hard for people from northern Ontario to get here to speak to this bill, and also around southern Ontario I think they like to see our committees go out on the road. I really hope the minister looks at this and allows this to go out to committee and on the road.

The main thing we've got to think about is our education and our kids. That's what it's all about, educating our kids and that we have a good system. I know that in Ontario we have probably the best education system in the world, but we want to keep that system, and I think this is one of the ways we can do this.


Mr Murdoch: The member from Windsor says that's not what I said when we were over there. I think I did say that. If you look back at Hansard, I've always said Ontario has the best teachers and the best education system in the world and we don't want to lose that. I'm sure when he was Minister of Education he felt the same way and tried to do his best -- maybe not what everybody agreed to all the time, but I think he tried to work with us.

Again, I hope this will go to committee and out on the road.

Mr John O'Toole (Durham East): In response to the debate on Bill 31, I want to start by saying that the members of our caucus and indeed the Minister of Education want input from teachers and from the public at large. Just by way of qualifications for my comments, I was twice elected as a school trustee from the Durham East area, and my wife, Peggy, has been a teacher for many years. Indeed I have a high regard for teachers. With five children, two graduated from university, one in university, I'm well versed in the importance of education. I've talked with many teachers, many of whom are family friends and professional friends of my wife.

The issues taken up by the member for Hamilton East -- just to go over them and make sure I've got them down -- I don't have a lot of difficulty with addressing those concerns in the committee process. I'm sure it will be a very fruitful process.

I suspect the discipline language in the act covered in part V, I think -- I'm not looking at it -- is strong and in some areas needs to be addressed.

I think the most important one, with which I also am sympathetic, is the composition of the board itself. I believe there should, as in any profession, be a predominance of mix from the teaching profession, and I mean active, current teachers, not retired, resigned, what have you. I mean the teaching profession itself.


I guess the other part, the power to investigate -- I've heard concerns from people on that. I think that's up to the discretion of a public board to be sensitive to the individuals and the process by which an investigation would eventually occur. Again, we'll hear about that during the public process.

As for the fee, I think there is, of course -- the subtle debate here is the power of the boards, the power of the unions and the power of the new college. That will surely get full debate during the public process, so I am pleased to debate and listen today.

The Acting Speaker: The member for Hamilton East, you have two minutes.

Mr Agostino: I'm pleased at the tone of discussion from all sides of the House on this. I think it points out the importance of what we're dealing with and on whom the ultimate effect of these decisions will ultimately be, and that is the students. I think it's an issue that goes across political lines and it's an issue that I think we're all trying our best to make sure we present some fair alternatives on, some alternatives that can be supported on all sides. I think we've heard that in the last couple of days in the debate that has occurred, and the debate from the previous speaker and other members of the House on all sides who have spoken to this issue.

I would ask the government as well to look at the proposals and to look at what the Ontario Secondary School Teachers' Federation and the Ontario Teachers' Federation have looked at as alternative governance models as well. They should be part of the discussion and the mix that has occurred, because I think there are some good ideas there. There are some ideas that are going to work and there are some ideas that, combined with some of the things that have been spoken about by government members today, can really give us the best of both worlds and give us a system that is going to ultimately please all sides.

I go back to the point the previous speaker and others have made, and that is the point again of the powers. I'm concerned as to the search powers, the warrant powers that ultimately are given strictly, in most cases, to police officers in this province under a certain process that you must follow. I'd certainly have a difficult time with a civilian appointed registrar who would have those same search powers and the ability to simply walk into people's homes. I really stress again how important that is to fundamental privacy and fundamental protection of people across this province.

If those things can be addressed and settled with the OTF, I think we will come up with a system that will work. Again, I'd like to thank all members of the House for the tone. I think it has been one of the most positive debates and discussions we have had in this place in the last eight months.

The Acting Speaker: Further debate?

Mr David S. Cooke (Windsor-Riverside): I want to make a few comments about this piece of legislation. I want to begin by saying that I agree with members' comments the other day, on the first day of debate on this legislation, that there is a bit of an unreal atmosphere that we're dealing with in this piece of legislation and the testing bill after this, when right after that we're going to be dealing with the real philosophy and the real ideology of education by this government, and that's, I think, Bill 34. That bill is going to develop into a much more controversial piece of legislation because it basically implements hundreds and hundreds of millions of dollars of cuts. I think teachers in this province are rightly concerned about the damage that legislation and the cuts to the general legislative grants this government has introduced will do to classroom education.

There are a lot of teachers -- I think the Liberals might agree with me on this -- probably close to 50% of the teachers in the province who in the last election voted for the Conservative Party; a lot of teachers voted for the Conservative Party, and I think those teachers feel absolutely and totally betrayed. They voted for the Conservative Party because they thought the promise that there would be no cuts to classroom education, which a lot of people interpreted as meaning no cuts to education at all, meant something. In fact, what we've now seen is $1 billion of additional cuts, cuts to the general legislative grants last year, and very significant negative cuts to classroom education in this province.

I would still argue that while this government is taking that very negative action, putting a structure in place like a College of Teachers is a positive enough move and will stay in place for many years to come. That structure is necessary to improve teacher education, to actually improve the control the teachers have over the profession in this province, and it will in the end improve the education system for the students of this province.

I'm a little confused at the position some have taken in the Legislature because they start off by saying they support the principle of a College of Teachers and then they go into talking about all of the things they disapprove of in this particular piece of legislation. I'm not exactly sure where they're coming from when it comes to voting on this bill on second reading or on third reading. Either you're in favour of a college -- and it's actually the Liberal position that has confused me the most. I see the position that the member for Hamilton East has just taken and that the critic has taken, and I'm not exactly sure what they're ultimately going to do on this legislation.

Mr James J. Bradley (St Catharines): Stick around.

Mr Cooke: Oh, I will. After 19 years, I know that it's always quite unpredictable.

Mr Sean G. Conway (Renfrew North): I used to be able to say it was all pensionable service too.

Mr Cooke: Yes, and so did I used to be able to say that, but no longer.

Where was I? The Liberal position on this before the election was absolutely clear. I'm not going to read it in its entirety, but I've got the letter from Charles Beer, who was the critic before the election. He made it very clear that the Liberal Party was in favour of a College of Teachers. I'll read one sentence, "The Ontario Liberals support the creation of a College of Teachers, as we believe it will have a significant and positive impact on students, student outcomes and the teaching profession."

I think that's an important sentence, because when we're debating a bill like this, we've got to keep in mind that the College of Teachers is not being created for the teachers of the province; the College of Teachers is being created for the students of the province. This is consumer legislation. This is legislation being put in place to protect the students of this province, to increase and improve inservice and pre-service training for our teachers.

It is not a piece of legislation -- and I think we should all be honest about this. Why would the teachers' federations support a College of Teachers? Why would the Ontario Medical Association, if it had its way, support the College of Physicians and Surgeons? Why would any profession say that it wants government to have some control over that profession? Of course they're not going to embrace it enthusiastically. That's just the way that it exists. They prefer more freedom, the lack of regulation; it makes it easier.

In the end, governments have to decide on the importance of the public policy. In this case, this issue has been studied for 30 years. The Hall-Dennis report recommended it and it's been recommended by virtually every comprehensive report done on education since, completed with its final recommendation by the Bégin-Caplan report.

Mr Bradley: I think it's Caplan-Bégin.

Mr Cooke: I'm going by alphabetical order. That report recommended very clearly that there needed to be a College of Teachers. I must say that when I was Minister of Education, I found it rather bizarre --

Mr Bruce Crozier (Essex South): So did we.

Mr Cooke: Thanks, Bruce. That's what happens whenever you criticize the Liberals; they just get a little touchy.

When I was Minister of Education, I found it very strange that if there was a complaint against a teacher, the ministry investigated the complaint, the Ontario Teachers' Federation investigated the complaint and ultimately it came to the desk of the minister to decide whether the teacher would be decertified. I think it is so old-fashioned and so paternalistic that the Minister of Education will decide whether or not a teacher can practise. This piece of legislation says that we should empower the teachers of the province.

There's one part of this legislation that I think is particularly good and is in line with the royal commission and the direction we gave, and that is that the College of Teachers will have a say, will have control over the faculties of education. One of the major complaints in our province about the education system, about the faculties of education is that not everything that is taught in our faculties is relevant to the classrooms. I believe that if a College of Teachers has the right to certify faculties of education in the province, that will mean that the faculties and what they teach will be much more relevant to what is needed in the classrooms of this province. I think that is an important step. You won't see the benefits of that for a period of time, but over a period of time we will see those very significant benefits to students in this province.


I mentioned a couple of minutes ago about the 30 years that this recommendation has been around, and I say this because I think it's important to remember that there is a time to consult and there is a time to continue to consult, and then there's a time to act and decide that you're not going to have everybody on side, but the public interest demands that the Legislature move forward. I believe that when it comes to a College of Teachers, 30 years is probably long enough for consultation: two royal commissions; the teacher education committee that looked at this; a number of other groups that have said, "You should move forward to something much more formalized than what we've had for regulation of teachers in the province." I do not believe that we need now to have a committee that's going to travel all across the province and listen again to the same presentations. The time is now to decide, and the purpose of the committee --

Mr Bradley: You need to talk to the teachers.

Mr Cooke: The teachers, I agree, need to be heard and they will be heard. That's why all three House leaders have agreed that there will be public hearings in the social development committee of cabinet. But I believe if you take a look at the process of consultation that it's been pretty adequate and that the implementation team that Frank Clifford headed up has been very comprehensive and as many of the issues where there can be a total consensus as is possible have been achieved.

There's one thing that I want to finish on, and that's the makeup of the council of the college, because I think it's very appealing, and I've heard this from some Conservatives, I've heard it from -- and I say this as an individual member. I'm not voicing necessarily the opinion of my caucus on this. But I think if you take a look at what is being proposed for the makeup of the council, you will see that it's very much in line with the direction we gave the implementation team. I want to give you the rationale of why there was a decision that there should not be an absolute majority, whatever the size of the council was, necessarily of classroom teachers in the public education system.

It's very clear. I've said this to federation leaders. We cannot turn the College of Teachers into a college that is completely controlled, through the election process, by the federations, because if that's the case, we might as well accept the proposal that the Ontario secondary school teachers and others came up with to turn the Ontario Teachers' Federation into the college. If you're going to give it over to the federations, then let's not set up a new structure; let's just leave it the way it is.

But if you're going to set up a college where the public interest is predominant, then you've got to have a council that is going to have significant representation from outside the profession, and then you have to have the makeup where the teachers, yes, have a majority, but teachers -- one from the private schools I think is fair. I don't agree with the concept of private schools, but if you've got private schools, you can't say to those teachers, "We're going to regulate you but you're not represented on the council." You can't say to supervisory officers and principals, "We're going to regulate you but you're not on the council." And you can't say to the faculties of education, "We're going to regulate you but you're not involved in the council." So there are three, one from each of those, and then there are 14 who are classroom teachers from the public school systems.

What the teachers in the federations want is an absolute majority. I just say to you that if that were allowed to happen, in my personal view -- this is my personal opinion -- the college would be destroyed. The elections would be organized in a way that the college would be completely controlled by the federations, and that would mean you'd get away from a college that served the broad public interest and, number one, the students. So I think that is going to be a fundamental debate that takes place in this place and in the hearings, but I'm telling you, a lot of thought went into this and I believe, if you look at the royal commission report, to adopt any other numbers would be completely contrary to the recommendations from the royal commission report.

Those are my limited comments. I want to say that I'm very pleased that the legislation has made it this far. I think that in the shorter term the more important piece of legislation to debate, and I hope we'll get into it next week, will be Bill 34, the bill that implements all the cuts. In the meantime, there are some things we can all agree on. This is one of them and I think that after 30 years it's time to get on with it.

The Acting Speaker (Mrs Margaret Marland): Questions or comments?

Mr Patten: I'd like to respond to some of the comments made by my colleague the member for Windsor-Riverside. Everyone will know that when the member was minister, he was the person who launched this, albeit on the basis of many studies of the past and many recommendations, and that's why we're here at this point.

I marvel at the question he asks us in the Liberal caucus, how come we have raised some questions now when we had said we supported in principle this college, which we do. I would suspect that the member for Windsor-Riverside would fully appreciate that when someone says they support a concept, they want to see what the wheels are when it's suddenly presented. While we still hold our views, we have some major questions about it and that will be part of the discussion in committee. The nature of representation in professional bodies from my study has been that a clear majority of classroom teachers is there and it can be any mix; that is a sign of trust.

I don't agree with the member that the federations are necessarily just sitting there and that unless they somehow control the whole college, this will overcome the good representation of individual professional teachers who would be elected, that they would enter into such a responsibility with such a negative purview. I think more of the federations than that and I think more of individual teachers who I hope will make up the college if we can agree in terms of the legislation.

Mr O'Toole: In response to the member for Windsor-Riverside, the previous Minister of Education and Training, I am pleased that you were so forthright in defining the membership of 17. I've gone through it, but not reading into the subtlety of it all; perhaps your experience and time on the task would give you that insight. I believe the public process is the place where we're going to hear from the constituent groups and I'm very much looking forward to that process, so thank you very much.

The Acting Speaker (Ms Marilyn Churley): Further questions or comments? Seeing none, the member for Windsor-Riverside.

Mr Cooke: I want to express better, to the member for Ottawa Centre, in the final two minutes why I am confused. I remember a question in the House after the implementation team filed its report. You asked the Minister of Education and Training: "Where is the legislation? The report is tabled. Get that legislation into the House." The legislation is in the House. The legislation reflects entirely the implementation report, which you endorsed, and now you're picking up flack from some people who disagree, so you're trying to ride the fence.

I think that is unfair. No wonder people become cynical about politicians. Teachers in this province understand that whether you were in power, we were in power or they're in power, the legislation that's before the House would be the same piece of legislation. While you can play to the leadership and do what you want on occasion, I think the teachers in this province will understand that it's politics, and what we need on this piece of legislation to restore public confidence in the public education system is not politics; we need a commitment to the public education system. That's what I think we should all be trying to do with the two pieces of legislation that we can support.

I'd finish by saying that I remember what the Minister of Health did when the Liberals were in power. You brought in most of the Regulated Health Professions Act. The makeup of their councils is similar to the proposals of this legislation. You did it when you were in government. We did it when we were in government. Now they're doing it. Let's just get the legislation passed and quit playing politics.


The Acting Speaker: Before we move on, I'd like to apologize to the member for Wentworth North. I understand you're way down there and I missed you, but in the next go-around I'll certainly make sure that I acknowledge you, if you like. Further speakers?

Mr Bradley: I'm highly amused and I hope Hansard will report that almost the entire Progressive Conservative caucus, at least the members who are able to be present this afternoon with us, applauded wildly the NDP member for Windsor-Riverside on taking a Conservative position on this particular piece of legislation.

Mr Cooke: They're taking the NDP position.

The Acting Speaker: The member for St Catharines, try not to be too provocative, please.

Mr Bradley: The interjection is there that the government has taken the NDP position. They're all the same to me. NDP, Conservative, it's all the same to me in any event.

I want to say that better than dealing with this piece of legislation today, the Minister of Education was up scrambling to make an announcement on young people's employment today in the House, after much pressure from the member for Windsor-Sandwich, Sandra Pupatello. Finally, the government scrambled, put together a program and made some kind of announcement today. I'm pleased that Ms Pupatello was so successful in stampeding the government into action. But that does not have anything to do with this bill. Therefore, I want to deal with this bill and with the field of education, which relates to this bill.

I'm also surprised that we're dealing with the College of Teachers at a time when thousands of teachers across this province are now receiving pink slips. The college certainly is not going to be representing as many people as it would have anticipated. That's how it's connected to this particular bill. They have a situation now where more and more teachers are losing their jobs, and as a result the students in the classroom are going to feel the impact of this.

I have headline after headline in my local newspaper that deals with this. One says, "Hike Taxes or Cut Staff," for instance, and, "Cut Staff or Raise School Taxes 25% Over the Next School Years." Carol Alaimo says this in the St Catharines Standard:

"Those were the choices confronting Lincoln county Roman Catholic school trustees last night as they got a glimpse of what they're up against with recent provincial funding....

"If no cuts are made, school taxes would have to rise 25% by the end of 1997 to offset the lost provincial funding, said business superintendent Steve Hudson."

So the director of education said that they may have to lay off as many as 100 people from the Catholic school board in St Catharines.

Lorna Costantini, the chair of the board, said, "Trustees have been left to do the dirty work in all of this and it's a very difficult situation to be put into."

It was noted as well that the Lincoln county public school board and the Niagara South public school board both announced major layoffs. This article says that 559 teachers and staff get the pink slip and notes that it affects both of those boards; 277 employees in Lincoln, and in Niagara South 282 termination notices went out. It's most unfortunate when this is happening. "Niagara South Cuts Junior Kindergarten: Can't Afford It, Board Says." Subsequently, it says, "Hike Taxes or Cut Staff."

I know there are people who are going to be applauding this in the Conservative caucus, which is most unfortunate, because when I quoted to the Premier earlier this day, when I mentioned the issue, a very important emerging issue of employers who are cutting staff, turfing employees out into the streets while they're making unprecedented profits, when I mentioned that today, education was mentioned in Davos, Switzerland, by Mr Schwab, whom I quoted earlier. One of the things he mentioned was good education being needed. This is not any person from the teachers' federation; this is an individual who is in big business and making a report to business leaders of the world in Davos, Switzerland.

As has been mentioned, we're debating essentially an NDP bill. The NDP Minister of Education, Mr Cooke, who spoke previous to me, appointed his commission and enthusiastically embraced a College of Teachers.

With all the other issues confronting education today, it's beyond me why we're dealing with a bill that's related to the College of Teachers. I haven't had a large number of people come to me, either in person or sending letters or petitions or telephone calls, saying, "Would you please implement a College of Teachers?"

Mr Terence H. Young (Halton Centre): What about Parents for Education?

Mr Bradley: The member asked, "What about parents?" I have not had communications from parents wanting a College of Teachers as well, I simply have not, and I have a diverse constituency out there. They see other issues as being important. They see this government cutting junior kindergarten and therefore depriving those children of a good start in education, a start that is endorsed by thinking people almost universally now in education and non-education areas. People who previously were not even sold on the concept understand its importance today, particularly in the new kind of society in which we live, where we don't have what you call the nuclear families of the past being the norm necessarily.

So I wonder why this government is bringing forward this piece of legislation. I know people like Menno Vorster and Rod Albert and Larry French and Malcolm Buchanan and Jim Head and even Wendell Fulton, who now resides in New Brunswick, would all wonder why, first of all, this government is bringing this forward and why the NDP is endorsing it with such enthusiasm as they have demonstrated.

While the concept has always been one which is attractive to many people, the details of this legislation certainly leave a lot to be desired, and one must anticipate that the government of Ontario must be in full consultation with a number of people who have expressed their concerns about this bill.

First of all, teachers are busy enough in today's society doing the teaching. One of the things I always was annoyed with related to the number of additional activities in which teachers become involved that are of an administrative nature as opposed to the actual teaching. I know this government was very concerned about forms for businesses. Well, I can tell you, the number of forms that teachers have to fill out now, the number of duties which are far beyond those in the classroom, already occupy those teachers.

Now you're setting up a College of Teachers which will be there for people who are trying to exercise discipline within the school setting. I suspect the Conservative Party is in favour of discipline in our school system, yet what you're going to do with the College of Teachers, the danger is there that you're going to allow disgruntled students and disgruntled parents and disgruntled other people within the profession to bring forward charges against those teachers, bring those to the College of Teachers, and again distract that teacher. And it's my understanding that the cost of legal battles would have to be borne by the individual teacher herself or himself.

I can tell you already it's difficult for teachers to exercise discipline. Many boards of education haven't shown the kind of backing they should for those who care enough and will take the time to be involved in disciplinary activities. What you're doing now is giving yet another opportunity for the disgruntled out there who have an axe to grind against individual teachers to use the College of Teachers to get at those people.


The pressure will be there. I know teachers will endeavour to resist that pressure. The pressure will be there to please the butting-in people who want to interfere in the education system. The pressure will be there to appease those students who have an axe to grind against teachers and others in the profession. You will see now a tendency to try to appease those people instead of standing up to them. It's bad enough today to see some of the lack of backing that teachers have received in their endeavours to provide some kind of a disciplinary action within the school setting without giving another avenue of complaint for people who simply want to get at them.

I suspect many people in the government caucus are not aware of that aspect because I would suspect, again, that most of you in the government caucus would want to see a return to solid discipline within the school system, that that's the way learning can take place within that kind of setting. The establishment of this college affords the opportunity to the disgruntled to get at those people they want to get at. Be fairly warned that is what I see happening with the implementation of this bill. So I suspect that there are many people who keep that in mind now who may be questioning the Minister of Education's enthusiasm about proceeding with this piece of legislation.

The number of teachers on the College of Teachers is a matter of contention as well. Teachers themselves have a vested interest in ensuring that those who are either not capable or those who have been indiscreet are removed from the profession because it reflects badly upon the entire profession. So you will find that even if they have the majority on this particular college, they are going to not favour those who are deserving of appropriate discipline and who have reason to be chastised or disciplined. That is what you will find in those circumstances. They have that vested interest in doing so, and yet we see that you're going to bring in other people in greater numbers than I think is wise.

This is yet another bureaucracy that you're establishing. I thought the Conservatives stood for less bureaucracy, and yet here you are establishing yet another bureaucracy for people to deal with. It's inconsistent with the philosophy I've heard from many of the right-wingers who sit in the government benches, who are so critical of any other bureaucracy, except now they are acquiescing to the Minister of Education's desire to see this bureaucracy established and yet another fee established in addition to the federation fee that must be paid by members of the teaching profession. You're going to levy yet another $90 on top of that -- at least, $90 at this point in time.

There is then a worry about frivolous and vexatious items being brought before the college and people being publicly embarrassed and therefore being intimidated into taking actions within the school setting that are not good for the education system as a whole. The employers at the present time have the opportunity and the power to deal with this. You have vice-principals and principals within schools who have considerable authority to deal with members of the teaching profession. You have superintendents of education over specific areas of jurisdiction, both geographically and in terms of such things as instruction. In addition to that, you have a director of education, and you have trustees. So there is that opportunity today without establishing yet another bureaucracy for this purpose.

I noticed when people were asked about this, they took votes within the school setting, and these were secret ballots that took place, that unanimously in most of the school settings there was a vote against the establishment of a College of Teachers. This idea was first floated, in my recollection, by the Honourable Dr Bette Stephenson when she was Minister of Education, and I believe this would have been either in the late 1970s or the early 1980s, and the idea was abandoned by a very practical and pragmatic government of the day, which understood the danger of this particular piece of legislation.

Mr Cooke: It was going to get rid of the OTF, that was the difference.

Mr Bradley: The member for Windsor-Riverside interjects -- not from his seat, but nevertheless he interjects -- that it was going to get rid of the --

Mr Cooke: It was no longer mandatory to belong to a union, that was their legislation -- big difference.

Mr Bradley: No longer mandatory to belong to a union. Well, if you don't see an agenda here, member for Windsor-Riverside, which could contemplate down the line that happening again, then you aren't as perceptive as I've known you to be over the years in terms of your political perceptions, at least in this province.

Mr Cooke: I guess I'll take that as a compliment.

Mr Bradley: It is a compliment.

The Acting Speaker: Member for St Catharines, please address the Chair.

Mr Bradley: I will address the Chair, of course, because that is the way things are done in this chamber and I would not want to deviate from the way things are done in this chamber, except I see on the clock that I have a tremendous amount of time left. It's rather interesting -- I see, they've now flashed up the real amount, which is 14 minutes.

I don't want to dwell on the fact that this is NDP legislation or that the subsequent legislation, Bill 30, that we will be dealing with again is NDP legislation, where we're dealing with mandatory testing, which it is believed is required out there. I don't want to dwell on that fact, but I did have to note that is the case. I know people are being somewhat ecumenical in here today --

Mr Cooke: Lyn supports that.

Mr Bradley: Whenever the member for Windsor-Riverside says somebody from the Liberal Party or the Conservative Party supports it, he's usually nervous about his own position. He's usually nervous that Malcolm Buchanan is watching television and that Malcolm will be expressing his very strong views to the NDP caucus, because Malcolm will be at the leadership convention. I'm sure there will be questions addressed to the candidates about the College of Teachers; if there aren't, I will plant some with my NDP friends at these various forums we have.

I just think this is an unnecessary piece of legislation. It's not that it's overly offensive, because I think there are going to be some discussions taking place that may modify the bill. If there isn't, I'd be very surprised and I think the government would be unwise.

I look and see in the agenda that you had out there, this, to me, would not rank as an item of great importance and one that should be considered much more carefully by members of the caucus. I never know what goes on in the various caucuses -- I don't think that's the plural, but I'll use the English language plural "caucuses" -- in terms of what is told to the members, but I really wish the members of the caucus would have been aware of the potential for the vexatious and frivolous complaints that will come forward and their impact on discipline in our school system.

I look out there and see that there are a lot of dedicated people who worry considerably about how much backing they're going to get if they're prepared to stand up to people who are disruptive or people who are unfairly affecting others within a classroom setting or a school setting. Every time you do something like this, you take away an incentive for those people to act in an appropriate manner in dealing with discipline. There was a time, I suspect, when most of us went through the school system that the discipline system was somewhat different. I'm not saying it was right all of the time, but there is a different atmosphere out there now.

The challenge for teachers today is considerably different from that which faced people in the classroom a generation ago who often had very strong support from the parental community, strong support from boards of education, and a general atmosphere in our society which said: "We want to see some order. We want to see some discipline within the school system."

In recent years, I don't think you can say that as much. That is not the fault of those in the classroom; part of it is the society. A former director of education once said that it's difficult to run a hard school system in a soft society. That was his answer when people said discipline was being loosened too much. But if you look at the level of tolerance that is required by teachers today as compared to a generation ago, it's considerably more, and much of that is because a school system and society will not back up those who are prepared to exercise appropriate discipline. It's a very important issue out there. I think people know about that, yet this bill -- they didn't explain in caucus what the impact could be.


There may be some benefits you see in this bill, and I understand that there may be, but I think there's a major detriment, and that's the one I have decided to dwell upon today because I think it's key to this particular legislation.

There's also a concern that there's a search-and-seize potential in this legislation, that items can be searched out in the classroom by force, that someone could come into the classroom from the college and seize whatever items are there for the purpose of its investigations. There's a concern that this might be happening within the person's home as well. Perhaps that can be alleviated by the Minister of Education and Training, but that concern certainly has been expressed.

Some will say, "Aren't the teachers' federations divided on this, or aren't they softening their stand?" I cannot speak for them, I'm not a mindreader, but I suspect part of it is that they're being assaulted -- I don't mean that in a physical sense, but in a political sense -- in so many different ways that one of the things you tend to do when that happens is that you give in on certain items that may not be of as great consequence as other items. I suspect that's part of it.

The other part is the inevitability, that spokespersons from all political parties have indicated some degree of support for a College of Teachers. Often, when a group out there sees the inevitability, they simply try to modify the legislation or not annoy the government to as great an extent as they might otherwise, because there's other legislation to be dealt with. I find that most unfortunate, because each bill should be dealt with on its merits.

What I find most unfortunate in a lot of legislation is that it isn't explained to caucus as it should be. The minister comes in, makes a pitch, and that's what the minister wants, it's the minister's point of view. What you have to have within caucus are people prepared to challenge the minister. Never mind if the Premier doesn't like it -- the Premier usually does like it, by the way -- and never mind if the minister doesn't like it and that you think that's somehow not going to allow you to be upwardly mobile. People make their mark by asking the important questions.

Think of yourself: Do you really respect people who tell you what you want to hear, or do you respect people who will ask the right questions and disagree with you on matters of principle and matters of detail? I think the latter. Most of us respect those who will challenge the authorities. That's why when legislation such as this comes before the caucus, it's important to ask those important questions.

I know caucus is never long enough to do it, and I know there's always a minister there who assures you that all your concerns will be looked after, but in our Legislature and in all parliamentary bodies there's a need for individual members to question more what those in authority put forward, because those in authority usually get their ideas from the unelected people -- the people who get paid more than you do, by the way, as you will see from time to time -- members of the bureaucracy. There are many good people within that bureaucracy, most certainly, the advisers to the ministers, the advisers to the Premier, all of whom have some very good ideas -- these are bright people -- but most of them have never had to meet the electorate at the doorstep, and they don't have to go back to explain to people in their communities what the legislation is all about the way you do, with certain consequences as members of the governing party.

I think this bill fits that category. If there had been a thorough debate within the Progressive Conservative caucus, I really wonder if you would be proceeding with this legislation in its present form or even at all. While you may have lost this one, I hope you will look at some of the other bills in that light. Exercise your authority. Just because a person has "Honourable" in front of her name or his name doesn't mean that person has an IQ of 260, by any means. Qualification to be in the cabinet varies from person to person, and there are many considerations. I don't want to be unkind at all so I'll just put it in those ways, because, heaven forbid, why would Peterson have put me in cabinet? One would ask that on the other side.

But the reason I say that is that there are people outside of the cabinet who are every bit as bright, every bit as politically attuned, every bit as wise as those who sit at the cabinet table, except they don't have the people following around carrying their briefcases and they can't get into the car and look important and go into the cabinet meeting and be asked questions in the scrum going in. But that doesn't mean the viewpoints of the rest of us -- particularly I'm thinking now of the government caucus -- aren't important. They are important.

Don't be intimidated by the "Honourable" in front of somebody's name. Once you leave, by the way, in this Legislature -- the Speaker will be interested in this -- you do not retain the word "Honourable," after you're no longer in the cabinet here. Federally you do; provincially you do not. You don't even have to worry about them in their afterlife. So don't worry about that.

There's another issue --

Hon Norman W. Sterling (Minister of Consumer and Commercial Relations): Does that make you dishonourable?

Mr Bradley: Not at all. The member for Carleton --

The Acting Speaker: Whom I note is out of his seat.

Mr Bradley: He's out of his seat, but let me tell you, he's a strong supporter of the Niagara Escarpment Commission. I know he will not allow the Minister of Environment and Energy to abolish the Niagara Escarpment Commission and radically change that plan. That's why I don't mind when he intervenes in this House, because I know of his considerable clout within the cabinet. He is an individual I can say is as qualified as anybody else in the Tory caucus to be in that cabinet. I will give him that.

But back to the bill, because the Speaker wants me to speak to the legislation. I see many problems with this. I could go into great detail. I think members know the detail, however, of this bill.

In British Columbia, probably under the former Social Credit government, they established a British Columbia College of Teachers. They had a different formula for the number of people from the profession and not from the profession who were on it. In British Columbia, 15 of the 20 members of the governing council are elected, each representing a geographic zone, each zone representative selected by members of the college working or living in the zone. Apparently, it works very well there in British Columbia, and I suspect that if you had to proceed, if you really thought this was absolutely necessary, that formula might be useful for Ontario.

It's another issue that I thought the government would have been dealing with today as opposed to this piece of legislation. I see the member for St Andrew-St Patrick here, and I know she must be beside herself -- she's not in her seat but she must be beside herself today -- at the fact that Gerry Phillips, the member for Scarborough-Agincourt, and Mike Colle, the member for Oakwood, in the last couple of days have asked questions about the Ontario government, the Minister of Education reaching his paws into the pot which is the property tax in Toronto and Ottawa and sending the money elsewhere. We accept that with the provincial income tax. We accept that with the sales tax. That's a province-wide tax and so on. Very dangerous to allow the government to get in on the property taxes.

Mr Patten: Unconstitutional.

Mr Bradley: The member for Ottawa Centre says unconstitutional; perhaps. Very dangerous. That must be just racking the government caucus with dissension, because if I were sitting there from Metro Toronto -- or indeed never mind Metro Toronto; from anywhere -- saying the provincial government's going to have the right to come in and take away property tax revenues and give them to some other community, I'll tell you, I would be very concerned about that. I would be asking a lot of questions about that, not just as a representative of Ottawa-Carleton, not just as a representative of Metropolitan Toronto, but as a fairminded person and a person who knows you can't let the provincial government get their paws on the property taxes, which are local in nature.

As I say, there are a myriad of issues. I'm very concerned about the number of classroom teachers who are losing their jobs, because I know how that's going to reflect upon the children within the system, even adults who are retraining. Everybody knows there's a lot of dislocation of people, that the downsizing I talked about with the Premier this afternoon in my question is taking place. Yet what your government is doing will end up discouraging some people from being involved in adult education, and you're going to pay for that down the line. I know it looks like a lot of money when you see it up front, but down the line those people will not be equipped to have the jobs within our society.

The College of Teachers isn't going to help those people. It's not going to help the laid-off teachers, the young people trying to get into the profession, the students, those with special needs within the education system. That's why I think the government is unwise to move forward with this NDP legislation this afternoon in this House.


The Acting Speaker: Comments or questions?

Mr Cooke: I'm not sure I'll take the entire two minutes. I just thought I would get up and make the point to everyone here, now you understand why I'm confused. The critic says yes, the Liberal leader says yes, the member for Hamilton East says, "I don't know," and now the House leader for the Liberal Party says -- I think he said -- no. I know they're the enemy and not you, but on this particular piece of legislation I'm just watching as an independent observer, and I think to myself, if ever there were a piece of legislation that could be used as a teaching tool in the political science departments in the universities across this province of why people are often confused about where the Liberals stand, the film from this would be really good teaching material in the faculties and then people would understand why the Liberals get the reputation of being all over the map, flip-flop on everything. I'll just sit down with that.

Mr Toni Skarica (Wentworth North): Madam Speaker, I figured you didn't wish to call on me because I wanted to say something nice. I just want to compliment the member for Windsor-Riverside for the position he took, not because of the position itself but because he had the courage to take it. It's not going to give him any political favours. He obviously spoke from the heart and showed a great amount of integrity, and I wish to applaud him for it.

In contrast, the member for St Catharines took a somewhat different position and referred to the cuts and the layoff notices to the school board. What's really dismayed me is the fact that the ultimate cut to the school boards will be in the area of less than 2%, yet some of the school boards saw fit to send out notices to 25% of their teachers, causing untold suffering and trauma to those teachers. I had one of them come into my office a few weeks ago from Halton. She had been there for eight years and you could tell she was a very kind and compassionate and dedicated teacher. I told her: "You are a victim of politics. You are not going to be laid off." I'm not a clairvoyant, but sure enough, a week later she phoned my office and said she was not going to be laid off.

I've looked now at the Public Sector Salary Disclosure Act and I see pages and pages of superintendents and directors making over $100,000 a year. How many of these people got layoff notices in the last few weeks? I would be surprised if even one did. That's the kind of politics that's being played here.

To close, I would just like to compliment the member for Windsor-Riverside for taking the courage to take the correct position -- rather, not the correct position but a position he believes in.

Mr Patten: I would like to build on some of the areas identified by my colleague from St Catharines, who of course has the flair, which other people don't, to relate many things germane to an issue. He has that skill, which he's developed over the years.

He's accused by the member for Windsor-Riverside of flip-flop. It seems to me that what the member from Windsor is suggesting is that somehow you shouldn't have a mind of your own. You can see, I say to the member for Windsor-Riverside, that we all have our individuality. We have ways in which we come at things --

Mr Cooke: Let the record show the member has a grin on his face.

The Acting Speaker: Order, please. Order.

Mr Patten: We come to this House with our own thoughts. We don't have the mindless control of everyone must say the same thing, think the same way etc.

I would reinforce that, yes, we have said we support something in principle, but it doesn't mean that when the legislation first surfaces there are not issues that are to be addressed. There are issues that are to be addressed. I would like to see them addressed. And if they are addressed I will be supporting this. If they are addressed, and I hope all sides are hearing that particular message, and it is not solely from a position of our own views, it is listening very carefully; listening very carefully to teachers, listening very carefully to different people in the educational area.

In the final analysis, when we talk about the area of self-regulation and numbers, it will boil down to, I contend, trust; whether we truly trust classroom teachers to be in a majority, to support and develop their own professional body in order to serve the students of this particular jurisdiction.

Mrs Marion Boyd (London Centre): It's always interesting when Liberals accuse New Democrats of speaking with one voice, because that's not something we're noted for.

This particular issue, the whole issue around self-regulation within the teaching profession, is one that is a very difficult one. There is no question that I think there is an expectation that professionals who are seeking to raise the status of their profession would welcome the possibility of being self-regulated. I think the public are often very puzzled about what is going on in this situation. What many people don't understand, I think, and what needs to be taken into account, is the process that has been there to discipline teachers in the past.

As a past Minister of Education, I believe very strongly that it is inappropriate for a minister of education, a political person, to be the last arbiter on a teaching certificate. I don't believe that's appropriate. I think one of the reasons my colleague from Windsor-Riverside, also a former Minister of Education, and myself feel as strongly about this is that we were put in that position again and again, and we do not think that is an appropriate position for a politically elected person to be in and yet under the act, as it now stands, that was the process.

Teachers may argue that there is another way to do this, that you can use the current procedures and then end up in a different place than the minister. I think our position has been that if you have a solution that enables a profession to become self-regulating, to join the ranks of the registered health professions and some of the other professions, then the time to do that, if we're going to change it, is to do it all at once. That's why we are supportive of the creation of the college.

Mr Bradley: The first response I will have is to the member for Windsor-Riverside when I think of people taking different positions. I always wonder how the New Democratic Party and my good friend the member for Windsor-Riverside could ever have taken a position to abrogate contracts, to break contracts in the public service. That was always something I believed -- you could understand if another party did it, but the NDP would never break a collective agreement. But they had to break a collective agreement, they felt, in the public interest, and did so. That was inconsistent with NDP policy. Yet had a Liberal government done that, we would have been accused of flip-flopping. But I understood how difficult it was in those days. It was just as difficult as it was raising tuition by 42% when you're opposed to tuition altogether. But I don't want to dwell on those items.

The member for Wentworth North -- it's rather interesting to watch. Just because somebody agrees with him, with your party, somehow, "Oh, we respect you because you agree with this and it's a matter of principle." It's a matter of politics in this place with the NDP and some other parties as well --

Mrs Boyd: Not the Liberals, I suppose.

Mr Bradley: And the Liberals from time to time. Do you not understand that this is his bill? What else is he going to do? He's the person who proposed the College of Teachers. That's why he's in favour of it.

As for your attack on the education system, do you not understand as well that the board is legally obligated to give layoff notices or it's in trouble under labour law? That's why they have to give those notices. They don't like doing it. It causes a lot of disruption. For you to blame the board instead of pinning the tail on the donkey -- the government -- is deceptive.


The Acting Speaker: Are there any other members who wish to participate in the debate?

Mr Rick Bartolucci (Sudbury): Thank you very much, Speaker, for giving me the opportunity to share a few personal views with regard to the College of Teachers, its composition and its mandate.

Let me approach this from a very personal point of view, with a bit of background. I've been a teacher for 30 years, fresh out of the classroom as of June 8, 1995. I spent seven of those years directly in the classroom, several as a vice-principal and, finally, many as a principal.

When I left Our Lady of Fatima in Sudbury, the Sudbury District Roman Catholic Separate School Board, I left a group of very happy teachers; a group of very competent, hardworking students; a group of parents who thought it was extremely important that they intermingle with the school as primary educators in this whole process; a member of a federation who believes that the individual needs of all students are of paramount importance when it comes to deciding how we are going to govern the education of children; a board that believed in offering programs to the fullest and providing resources to ensure that those programs are carried out to the best of the abilities of those people connected with the program.

When I return to the classroom, when I return to the board, I'm going to find a completely different place. I'm not going to find junior kindergarten any longer. I don't know if senior kindergarten will be an option. I certainly won't find resources for special-needs children, and I won't find guidance and counselling services the way they were when I left. I will find increased class sizes, I will find double- and triple-grading to be more commonplace than anybody on the other side will want to believe, and I will find an environment that has a pupil-teacher ratio so high that it will be impossible to give children the individual needs, the individual time, the individual efforts necessary to ensure we bring out the best in children. But that's for another debate next week, with Bill 34, and certainly we'll be expanding on those points.

As a teacher and now an elected representative, let me tell you I'm very happy that this is going to committee. I'm also very happy that the majority of the committee will want the committee to travel to different jurisdictions. I'm very happy to hear from several members of the committee that they're willing to have committee meetings at a time when teachers will be able to take part in these hearings. I'm happy for all of that, because it's critical that you listen carefully to what classroom teachers are saying about the College of Teachers.

Let me tell you, if you do more than listen, if you adopt some of the recommendations teachers are going to be making to this committee, if you carefully weigh the reasons for their recommendations as opposed to what you have now, you just may get all-party support, in the final analysis, for the Ontario College of Teachers.

Let me go on record right now as being abundantly clear. The model that's presented to me today for the Ontario College of Teachers cannot be supported by me as a representative and it certainly couldn't be supported by me as a teacher, because it does not allow what I think is basic to the Ontario College of Teachers: that teachers are the majority in representation. No matter how you define it, that's not the case now.

I've heard over the course of the last couple of days that teachers are afraid of the Ontario College of Teachers. Absolutely not. Ontario teachers are constantly under scrutiny. They are not afraid of accountability. They are accountable to their students every day; they are accountable to their fellow professionals; they are accountable to parents; they are accountable to a principal; they are accountable to an area superintendent; they are accountable to the director of education; they are accountable to trustees, and it goes on and on up the ladder until you get to the Minister of Education. So rule out the idea that teachers are afraid of the College of Teachers. They're not.

Teachers are used to constant accountability, constant scrutiny, and by and large teachers are happy with that because it helps to bring out the best in them. As I look across the way and I see the members for Durham or Kitchener-Wilmot, who are teachers, I understand and know that these people are dedicated, just as the rest of the teachers in Ontario are dedicated. We can, we are and we will be able to ensure that the College of Teachers is what everyone wants in Ontario, supposedly, but must involve us to a greater degree, must involve teachers to a greater degree, must ensure as other colleges do that they, the teachers, form the majority on this college. Clearly, that's not the case now.

Rule out the accountability factor; rule out the fact that teachers are afraid of scrutiny. Nonsense. They do it on a daily basis, every single, solitary moment of the day from the time get up until the time they get home until the time they retire and in between, while they do all the extra-curricular stuff such as preparation, such as extra-curricular activities, such as meetings involving students and parents.

We are not and they are not afraid of accountability or scrutiny at all. What they are afraid of is that they're going to be given a College of Teachers that is so political in nature, that is so skewed one way that they will lose control of the important things they feel the College of Teachers should be dedicated to, and that's professional development. By and large over 90% of teachers in Ontario work at improving themselves on their own time, at their own expense nights, weekends and during the summer months when everybody feels that they're on holidays. Let me tell you there isn't a teacher who sits in this House who will dispute that.

Another serious concern with the proposed format as it's presented to us now is with regard to the discipline section and hearings. Let me outline very briefly to you what happens at the local level when a principal gets a complaint. I'm in the school and I receive either a phone call or a visit from a parent. Let's use the complaint of a verbal assault. In other words, the teacher either yelled at my child or was verbally abusive in some way to my child.

What happens? The first thing that happens is that the parent is called into the office and we discuss what that parent's interpretation of the incident is. Then we call in the child. The principal, the parent and the child sit down and we look at the situation so that there can be clear interpretation as to what direction we're going. Then at some point in time the principal interviews the teacher so that he or she can get both sides of the story. Once that's taken place, the principal will inform the parent. At that point in time, the parent has the option to not be satisfied with the findings and at that point in time can go on to the area superintendent, and the process starts all over again.


Let me tell you, that happens on a regular basis nowadays. In many instances it's a frivolous complaint, and sometimes there's validity attached to it. But the underlying factor that is so vitally important for all of us to understand is that every situation has to be treated with the same respect, with the same compassion and with the same sensitivity, regardless of whether it's valid or frivolous. That clearly is a weakness with regard to the Ontario College of Teachers.

I want to compare it to the police services complaint commission and relate how, as a police services board member a few years back, I was in charge of the complaints committee. What would happen is similar to a school. We would have a complaint about a police officer. We would call in the officer and the member of the public who was making the complaint, and there would be exchanges of information and some resolution. So it happened rather quickly. It happened over the course of a week or 10 days, similar to what happens in the school right now. Resolution takes place usually after three or four days if it's very complex, after a day or so if it's not such a complex case.

What happened was that the government introduced the police services complaint commission, so that now complaints didn't go to the local board, they went to the police services complaint division. What you had was members of the public waiting months to hear their complaints and police officers having to wait months to get some type of resolution to it.

That's exactly what's going to happen with the Ontario College of Teachers. We are going to be so backlogged with complaints, there is going to be such a backlog of cases to be heard, that without a doubt what you're going to have are teachers not feeling very secure even though they know by and large and in most instances they have nothing to fear, and a public that's dissatisfied with the process because they get no resolution quickly to the problem. Indeed, you're going to have a breakdown of what I consider to be a strong bond being built up between the primary educators, the parents, and the secondary educators, the teachers. That's a major concern of mine as well.

I'm not going to highlight the other shortcomings of this particular piece of legislation; they've been highlighted already. But I clearly want to go on the record as saying that in its present form I won't be supporting this on second reading. I want you to understand that during the election I did support a concept of the College of Teachers that was acceptable information to teachers because they had the underlying fact made clear to them that our model would indeed respect their abilities to govern themselves. Clearly, this legislation does not do that.

I thank you for giving me the opportunity to present what I consider to be two of the five faults of this legislation. I would like to also say that I think it is clear that teachers will support the Ontario College of Teachers if in fact they believe the ownership of that college is truly theirs. This is not the case with this particular piece of legislation.

The Acting Speaker: Questions or comments?

Mr Patten: I think it's evident the member for Sudbury has a wealth of experience in the educational field as a teacher, as a principal, as a person who was on the police commission, and it has provided him with some practical insights in terms of how something can be most expeditious or how something perhaps can be a bureaucratic nightmare.

I would like to underline one of his comments, and that's one of the fears that many people have in the disciplinary procedures that are offered to this particular college that seems to be really top-heavy and centralized. That is the worry of the backlog of complaints and taking out an element of complaint that goes almost immediately to the college, that removes the community in a sense from the understanding of people and their neighbours, who they know in the neighbourhood, who they know tends to be responsible and who may not be, and who may be the sorts of individuals who might raise on numerous occasions frivolous complaints.

I think it would be incumbent upon all of us to heed very carefully the comments of the member for Sudbury, who feels very deeply, and I believe he is reflective of what many teachers feel. He has thrown out a challenge to us to see if we can provide some of the amendments that will enable all of us to truly provide for a college that teachers throughout Ontario will feel proud about and will feel they have the control over in order to promote their professionalism.

Mr O'Toole: In response to the member for Sudbury, in all respect, I respect your professional point of view as a teacher. I guess my point is that the long history of this issue, 30 years, I think speaks to the divisive concerns that you've expressed. But I'd like to point out to you that the royal commission -- and also that Margaret Wilson, who is proposed to be the person involved with the College of Teachers, also served on the Ontario Teachers' Federation and was president of the Ontario Secondary School Teachers' Federation for many years. I think she has been through a process more closely than any of us. She's been championing the Ontario College of Teachers and I'm certain has had to try and deal with many of the teacher union organizations throughout the province.

There are issues that I think the public debates will address, and I am satisfied, whether it's the composition of the board itself or indeed the disciplinary process, those issues will be adequately addressed. But I think you have to look to the long term, to the profession itself, to the changing nature of education in Ontario, indeed in Canada and in the world. The profession needs this recognition, and that does not undermine for one moment the integrity of individual teachers like yourself and other teachers who are sitting in this Legislature who have concerns. As participants in that discussion, after second reading at committee we will certainly come to a better consensus and an improved vision and autonomy for teachers and the profession itself.

This debate today has been very informative for me, but I also think in the long run we need broader consultation with parents, who pay for it all, for the teachers, and indeed students. Thank you very much for allowing me to speak.


Mr Michael A. Brown (Algoma-Manitoulin): I appreciate the comments of my friend from Sudbury. He brings to the debate something that is really necessary: the view from someone who has been in classrooms for many years, an administrator for many years. He's someone who knows of what he speaks. He's experienced it, lived through it.

My main contact with the education system over the last 20 years has been through my children, who have been so well served by the teachers in our elementary and secondary panels. It is really important. I think of the impact teachers have made on the lives of my children and on the lives of their friends and acquaintances, people like Rick Bartolucci who have been in those classrooms and have been making a difference.

When the member for Sudbury speaks, I know the real world is encroaching on the grand designs of government and the grand designs of governance. We sometimes in this place see things in the big picture, but in seeing the big picture, we sometimes forget what it's really like on the ground.

When the member for Sudbury brings these views about the feelings of teachers to this House, we really have to listen. These are real issues. They are not the stuff of high philosophy, but the stuff of the real world. I hope all members will take the comments of the member for Sudbury into consideration as we proceed through this important debate.

The Acting Speaker: Further questions or comments? Seeing none, the member for Sudbury.

Mr Bartolucci: I will not take the whole two minutes, but I'd like to refer a few comments to the member for Durham East. I appreciate his comments. I'd just like to tell him that it would be wonderful if the Ontario College of Teachers would have teachers supporting the college, and you know what we have to do to ensure that happens. It means everyone has to give a little, understand the positions of all the people involved, and you know what? There can be some type of positive determination arrived at.

Clearly, the way it's devised now will not be acceptable to teachers. Clearly, as a member representing the riding of Sudbury, it is not acceptable to me. I look forward to the committee meetings. I look forward to the submissions. I look forward to the openness and frankness that will take place between all members of the committee and the different people who will be making presentations.

I'd like to refer back to what Bill Davis said as the Premier in 1983: "No model of self-governance should go forward without the enthusiastic endorsement of the teaching profession." That is the challenge of the committee.


The Acting Speaker (Ms Marilyn Churley): I beg to inform the House that in the name of Her Majesty the Queen, His Honour the Lieutenant Governor has been pleased to assent to certain bills in his chambers.

Clerk Assistant and Clerk of Committees (Ms Deborah Deller): The following are the titles of the bills to which His Honour has assented:

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

Bill 35, An Act to amend the Personal Property Security Act / Projet de loi 35, Loi modifiant la Loi sur les sûretés mobilières.


Mr Frank Miclash (Kenora): It gives me great pleasure to participate in this debate. I was also, as was the previous speaker, a former teacher from the system before I came in to represent the riding of Kenora. I must say, as I listened to the debate and to the concerns of teachers throughout the north, throughout my riding, the major concern that comes through, one that's been referred to a good number of times, is the regulation of the College of Teachers.

When we take a look at other bodies, other colleges, whether it be the College of Nurses, the College of Physicians and Surgeons, as has been referred to earlier, the BC College of Teachers, we find that these are all self-regulating bodies. I don't think there's a teacher out there I have spoken to in discussing the College of Teachers who hasn't said that they wished for what the other groups have. They wished no less than to be self-regulating. There have been many points around that and many points that will come back up.

The member for Durham East refers to the committee to which this bill will be referred. I think they will find that as they listen to the many concerns from those in the profession, those like myself and the member for Sudbury who are still part of the profession -- myself on leave, and I may go back -- we expect no less of the government than to have a self-regulating body.

As I go through the legislation, I take a look at the portion which talks about freedom of information and the protection of privacy. I was here during the Bill 26 deliberations and what the privacy commissioner came forth with in terms of allowing access to personal information and access to personal information by other folks rather than law enforcement, allowing them to collect, to disclose, to use that personal information. It may go beyond what is really reasonable and necessary to achieve what this bill has set out to do, the goals of this bill. I cannot express enough my concerns over that portion of the bill.

As we go into committee, I'm looking for the committee to listen to those folks who will be regulated by the college and find out some of their concerns, as I have in the past. I know this will be of major concern to the teachers who will be presenting when it comes to the erosion of their privacy protection, and Bill 31 certainly leans in that direction.

As we listen to many groups, we must also listen to the people we try to protect when we protect education in this province, those being the students. When you hear about students who are walking out of classes -- in my own riding, for the past two days, we've had students walk out of Dryden High School -- you understand that there are major problems in education. Bill 31 is just starting to approach that. As people in the House will know, we're going on to Bill 30 and then Bill 34, where we'll find out that not only do the teachers have problems with the system, but that the students do. From what I was hearing earlier today, there are students across the province who are considering the same steps as those taken by students in my riding over the past two days. As we head into this discussion and into the committee hearings on Bill 31, we're going to hear a lot about what other groups and other people involved in the system are concerned about.

We take a look at discipline. Under Bill 31, we know there will be a discipline committee. That committee will be authorized to conduct public hearings, something that is of great concern to a teacher who is brought forth into a public hearing to determine whether they have acted properly, in a professional manner, whether there has been professional misconduct or incompetence. They are truly worried about that, where these public hearings will be disclosing information about their personal matters, financial matters, information they don't necessarily want out in public. I think when the committee takes a look at this area of the bill, they're going to have to take a very close look as to when the findings of the college become public and become knowledge for the public to get their hands on.

I don't think any type of public hearings in the manner that I speak of will further the goal of enforcing professional and ethical standards through the college on its membership. I really feel strongly that this has no place in terms of the college actions and what it will be set up to do.


The powers of investigation and search and seizure have been raised by a good number of people as they speak about the powers we're giving the council and the registrar of the college. As far as I'm concerned, these are extraordinary powers equal only to those given to law enforcement agents. These powers should not be given to anyone other than professional law enforcement officers to conduct these activities if necessary. That is where the power should lie. We should respect the fact that this has no place for elected or appointed members of a council. I think that will become very clear as we go into the committee hearings and is a change I will be looking forward to.

Let me go back to my experience as a teacher, similar to the member for Sudbury, and explain that there is a compliance the teacher must face. Any time there is a complaint against a teacher, there are a number of routes that complaint will follow. There are many channels, which we've heard about, of course the main channel being to the teacher themselves, if not happy, to the principal, and then there's the superintendent, the director, and of course the trustees. A channel has been set up for any complaints to be taken forth, and these are the people closest to that particular teacher on a daily basis. The college, once it is reviewed, must become the body of final recourse only.

A number of members have talked about the many complaints a principal will receive during a particular week that may get into the superintendent's office, the director's office, the trustees' office. This cannot become a body where complaints are coming forth on a basis where they cannot be handled, where they are overwhelmed by what may be frivolous complaints. That is one aspect of the college that will have to be reviewed very carefully.

I go back to my initial point on the self-regulation. I suggest that the committee must focus on the membership of the college and on ensuring that teachers are properly represented in the college, on the board, so it is a self-regulating body. I can't stress enough the importance of that.

I look forward to the committee hearings on Bill 31. I've had a good number of teachers indicate to me that they will be putting forth their views to the committee, whether it be through their associations or federations or presenting as individuals themselves. I hope the five areas I have addressed here today will be listened to very carefully by all members on the committee. I hope, for the sake of the people who are the most important in any educational debate, whether it be students refusing to attend their classes for various reasons, whether it be cutbacks as they translate to boards, that we all keep that student in mind in our final deliberations.

I look forward to the committee hearings, to that debate, which I know will be a lively one and very informative as we go into the committee hearings. I too, as former speakers have said, feel that if changes are brought forth by the various federations, by the people on the front line, the people in the classrooms, if these changes can be agreed to and we can have amendments to Bill 31, I could find myself supporting that, should these amendments go forth.

I bring forth a view of a former teacher and one who is representing many teachers throughout my riding in northwestern Ontario.

The Speaker (Hon Allan K. McLean): Statements and questions, anybody? Further debate?

Mr Sean G. Conway (Renfrew North): Thank you very much, Mr Speaker, and I want to thank my friend the member for Mississauga South, who has blossomed today like a special Easter flower. It is so good to see her, on a snowy afternoon, looking like an ambassador for the spring we all await.

I want to speak briefly to Bill 31, an act to establish the fact that Bette Stephenson has friends. As a former Minister of Education, I think it would be prudent if I didn't say too much on this subject, and I won't.

Mrs Margaret Marland (Mississauga South): One of the best.

Mr Conway: Margaret, ne'er of the living shall the living judge, to blind the affection, to fresh the grudge.

I do have some constituent concern about certain provisions and I want to take a moment this afternoon to speak to the concern. One of my constituents, Mr Douglas DeLaMatter, a science teacher at my old high school, Madawaska Valley in Barry's Bay, wrote me the other day to express his concern about some of the discipline provisions. I think Mr DeLaMatter, among others, has a good point in this respect.

A number of members have spoken in the debate about other professional associations that are self-governing that have disciplinary mechanisms. Mr DeLaMatter's concern, and I'm sure the minister and the Legislature, in their wisdom, will take these concerns into account, the particular concern of this constituent is, will there be a mechanism that is fair to teachers who may be faced with vexatious accusations -- not vexatious, that's the wrong --

Mr Patten: Frivolous.

Mr Conway: The concern here is frivolous. Thank you very much, I say to my friend the member for Ottawa Centre. The concern of teachers I've spoken to is simply that it opens the door to an endless array of frivolous charges. There are 120,000 teachers encountering two million students on a daily basis in this province. There is a concern, and I think it's a legitimate concern, that we not provide a situation whereby frivolous charges are launched, taken up by the discipline committee, extensive hearings incurring substantial costs, that are then assessed against the teacher. That's Mr DeLaMatter's concern and

I think it is the concern of other teachers of my acquaintance around the constituency and across the province.

There is much in this bill that I'm sure other members would want to talk about. I have some other observations but I thought, on behalf of my constituents who have raised this concern, that I would take the opportunity this afternoon to simply make the House, the minister and the committee aware of this concern about a very expensive disciplinary provision, and particularly expensive to teachers who, as I understand the regulations, can be expected to shoulder a substantial cost.

I'm sure it's not the intention of the government or the department to be unfair and/or unreasonable in this respect, but the concern about these frivolous charges that give rise to extensive, lengthy and expensive hearings, the costs of which are going to be borne by the individual teacher or teachers, is a very real concern on behalf of my constituents. I certainly hope and expect that members who deal with this when the matter is referred out to committee will be able to hear the evidence and advise the House generally, when the matter comes back for third reading, that Mr DeLaMatter's concern has been addressed.

The Speaker: It being almost 6 of the clock, this House stands adjourned until 10 o'clock tomorrow morning.

The House adjourned at 1759.