36th Parliament, 1st Session

L054 - Tue 9 Apr 1996 / Mar 9 Avr 1996











































The House met at 1332.




Mr Dominic Agostino (Hamilton East): We saw last week the initial information that was released on the program this government is going to introduce called workfare. From what we have seen, it appears to be a program that is simply going to provide free labour to the private sector. It is now going to mean that a private sector employee is going to have a choice: He or she can hire someone and pay them a decent wage, or he or she can find someone from the welfare rolls for 17 hours a week for free. Tsubouchi's slaves will be hard at work throughout the province of Ontario.

The problem in Ontario with welfare is simply the lack of jobs. The reality is that as job availability increases, as jobs increase out there, welfare numbers shrink. There's a clear correlation.

Historically, it has been proven that workfare has failed, and failed miserably, across Canada and across North America. The minister maybe can explain to me how helping build baseball diamonds is going to help the unemployed steelworker in my riding get a job. The problem with Ontario is not a shortage of baseball diamonds; the problem with Ontario is a shortage of real work that people can do and of work that welfare recipients can do.

I challenge this government to put its efforts into and concentrate on creating jobs, because I can tell you that if this government tomorrow can give me 10,000 jobs and make them available, I will find this government 10,000 welfare recipients who are willing to take those jobs and work hard at those jobs. Stop patronizing people on welfare, start creating some real programs and stop your continuous assault on the poor in Ontario.


Mr Len Wood (Cochrane North): I'd like to direct my statement today to the Minister of Community and Social Services. On December 2, 1995, I attended the official opening of Cochrane's first food bank. In its first week, it assisted 22 families. As of early March, they had responded to well over 300 requests for food.

Over 200 adults and almost as many children have benefited from this service that was initiated by a group of citizens concerned about the plight of the needy in Cochrane. As programs are eliminated by this government and social assistance rates are reduced, more and more people are unable to provide the most basic of needs for themselves and their families.

The food bank recipients are from a number of circumstances: welfare and family benefits, 66%; old age security and Canada pension, 16%; no income, 6%; part-time workers, 5%; unemployment insurance, 4%; other sources, 3%.

I'd like to take the opportunity to thank the citizens of Cochrane for rallying together to assist those in need in their community. Their fine work is commendable. This is Cochrane's first food bank and hopefully it will be the last. The defeat of the Tory government in the next provincial election will serve to bring about a more giving and secure climate in which people in this province can live.


Mr Frank Klees (York-Mackenzie): Today marks the start of environmental advocacy weeks and events for 1996. Environmental advocacy weeks, a tradition in Ontario for almost two decades, promote public awareness of important environmental issues. The Ministry of Natural Resources and its partners will work together to organize advocacy weeks events and distribute educational materials to support that goal.

The Ministry of Natural Resources is working in partnership with many local, provincial and federal agencies to advance public knowledge of such important environmental issues as rehabilitation of wildlife habitat, rabies prevention and tree planting.

Today, April 9, marks the start of National Wildlife Week. Since 1947, National Wildlife Week has been an important means of raising awareness about wildlife and of promoting public participation in wildlife conservation and habitat protection. This year's theme is "We're Part of the World Wide Web of Life -- Get Online with Nature's Network." Our partners in National Wildlife Week include the Canadian Wildlife Federation as well as many federal, provincial and territorial wildlife agencies.

I invite all members to support National Wildlife Week as well as all other environmental advocacy weeks activities planned in their communities this year.


Mr Mario Sergio (Yorkview): On April 2, in his answer to a question on the elimination of rent controls, the Premier said, "Before rent control is removed, we will have something in place that is going to be better than what we have now."

Mr Premier, I would like to believe you, tenants would like to believe you, but unfortunately rumours persist and the anxiety grows. It is the seniors who are on fixed incomes or pensions who will bear the brunt of rent increases and government cuts, seniors who will have nowhere to turn. We want to hear a message of reassurance and no more rhetoric. Tenants want peace of mind in knowing that they will have a place to call home.

Mr Premier, you have pushed legislation without consultation, you have abandoned those you said you would protect, and so I ask you this. Before you introduce your plan to scrap rent controls, at the very least table a plan that will protect tenants from the drastic rent increases which many tenants, including seniors, will face.


Mr Howard Hampton (Rainy River): Over the last few months we've seen the Premier and the Minister of Education continue to insist that the $1-billion cut to elementary and secondary education in the province won't affect students and the classroom. The problem for the Premier and the Minister of Education is that it is evident, as you look across Ontario, that none of the students themselves believe what the Premier and the Minister of Education are saying.

For example, over the last 10 days the Dryden Board of Education has had students not attending high schools because they are protesting the cuts to the education system and the cuts to their board. For example, in communities like Belleville and Bancroft and other communities near Peterborough, students were out of school, in some cases for three days, protesting the cuts to their schools and to programs that matter to them as students.

It is time for the Minister of Education and the Premier to come clean about education. The fact of the matter is that the cuts being imposed by the government on the school boards are having the impact of making our schools far less attractive to the students who attend them and far less likely to be able to turn out the kind of education those students need. The fact of the matter is that this government is cutting the secondary and the elementary school system in this province into pieces; hence students will suffer.



Mr Derwyn Shea (High Park-Swansea): It's a pleasure to rise to ask my colleagues on both sides of the House to join me in acknowledging World Health Day that was formally observed on Sunday, April 7.

The theme this year, "Healthy Cities for Better Life," is particularly appropriate for Ontario, because Ontario started the Healthy Communities movement that has spread around the world. Ontario is recognized worldwide for this innovative work.

The health promotion branch supports the efforts of the Healthy Communities Coalition, which has developed a strong Ontario network, cities and communities across the province promoting good health. Several projects have started in cities large and small as a result of their work. The healthy city office in the city of Toronto is a prime example. These projects look at the economic and environmental aspects of health and encourage people to get involved to find ways to help their own community.

As citizens of a developed nation, Ontarians have already learned about the effects of traffic, noise, pollution. The coalition has helped develop the network to support the work to improve the lives of Ontarians, not only in cities but in the rural areas as well.

This government obviously is very proud of the $6-million reinvestment it has made in terms of children's health, and especially in the fight against German measles, Ontario's children are among the lucky ones. More than one million children still die every year around the world from measles. These children live among the urban poor, and unlike our own youngsters, may not have the benefit of a farsighted program such as our measles immunization campaign.

We are proud of what the Ministry of Health is doing in Ontario, and we commit --

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


Mrs Sandra Pupatello (Windsor-Sandwich): Parents across Ontario have been put on hold by Minister Tsubouchi while the minister conducts a review of the child care system. We don't know much about these consultations, but leaked sources tell us the government is serious about making changes to the Day Nurseries Act.

Here is what we know: Changes to the Day Nurseries Act ultimately mean less care for children; a voucher system means fewer available dollars to secure quality day care spaces for children.

Even yesterday's Globe and Mail quotes an American major study that shows that the fewer supervisors for children, the higher the incidence of inadequate care. "For instance, the percentage of preschoolers considered to be `not receiving appropriate care' jumped to 52% from 9% once the ratio inched up from one adult for every eight children to one for every nine."

People across Ontario responded to Harris's attack on children. I'm sending over just some of these responses.

The reality is that the government concept of consultation on child care is a joke. It is consultation by invitation only, and we have been completely excluded along with many other child care providers across Ontario -- just one more example of a government that refuses to listen.

I encourage the minister to have a look at the hand-painted symbol sent over by the children in Ontario, whom the minister owes a response to.


Mr David Christopherson (Hamilton Centre): Workers of Ontario continue to believe that the minister responsible for gutting the WCB is holding his meetings in private because he's afraid to come forward with the kinds of options they're looking at.

We know this government ran on a platform of denying and cutting back benefits in order to give a rebate to corporations that already think they're paying too much. The reality is that had the corporations been paying their fair share of the payments all along, workers would not be facing the kind of attack that they are by this government's using the unfunded liability as a cover to go after workers' benefits. We know that the Jackson plan will involve cutting back benefits that workers have earned. It's their right. It's an insurance program. This is not some giveaway that the government of the day has the right to pull back on a whim.

The government is fooling no one by suggesting, when its own members stand up and ask questions about meetings that are taking place, that the minister is honestly trying to connect with injured workers and deal with their issues. We still demand that there be public hearings across the province. We will not let up on that. Workers, and injured workers in particular, have a right to know what this government is going to do to them, and its continuing to hide behind a public process, a sham process that doesn't work, will fool no one.

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


Mr Gary L. Leadston (Kitchener-Wilmot): April 3 to April 14 is the spring food drive for the food bank of Waterloo region. I encourage the members of this House to call their local food bank and arrange for their constituency office to be a dropoff centre for non-perishable food donations.

I am also wearing a rather colourful tie that our food bank is selling to raise money for its food drive. Over 700 grade 7 and 8 students from Waterloo county have donated their artistic talents and have designed these neckties for their own "Tie Up Hunger" campaign. Students were asked to create designs based on one of the three themes, such as food, nutrition or people helping people. The winning tie designs have been manufactured with the student's name on the label. On October 16, 1995, three finalists were selected as follows: Brian Wall, who is the creator of this tie that I'm wearing, from Margaret Avenue Senior School; Elsie Bauman from Linwood District School; and Nicole Stafford from St Anne School.

The ties are $50 each, with all the proceeds from the sale going to the food bank of Waterloo region. If you're interested in purchasing a tie, please contact my office.



Mrs Lyn McLeod (Leader of the Opposition): My first question is to the Minister of Finance, who I believe is about to resume his seat. Minister, you will be aware that last week, to much fanfare, the Minister of Education and Training announced your government's summer program for youth. The minister was happy to brag that the program is going to create some 5,000 new jobs for young people, who face such high unemployment levels, even though -- and there was a certain hypocrisy in this announcement -- you are actually cutting $3 million out of that program.

Today we read in the paper that the government was or, for all we know, may still be considering cutting the youth employment funding by up to 50%. We understand that the Premier said this morning in a scrum that this document was not government policy. I want to give you an opportunity, Minister, to tell us categorically today that your government does not intend to make any more cuts to funding to help young people in this province get jobs, which they so desperately need to pay for their tuition expenses this fall.

Hon Ernie L. Eves (Deputy Premier, Minister of Finance and Government House Leader): I can unequivocally state to the Leader of the Opposition today that I certainly know of no document, suggestion or otherwise, that would reduce funding for youth programs in the province of Ontario by 50%. I might say to her and to all Ontarians that they should take into account that I don't know what document the media is talking about.

Interjection: Oh, yes you do.

Hon Mr Eves: No, I don't. I do know that every single ministry in this government, as a result of the November 29 statement, and as a matter of fact as a result of a recommendation made by the Ontario Financial Review Commission, is undergoing a process of developing a business plan for the first time in the province's history. I know that every single program in every single ministry is being looked at. We are going to look at what is the vital business that the government of Ontario should be providing to Ontarians, and we are rethinking and restructuring how government does business. I don't think anybody should quibble with that intention, and I think I've answered the honourable member's question.


Mrs McLeod: I understood the minister to say somewhere in that ramble that they would not be cutting youth employment by as much as 50%. Presumably then the $3-million cut already made in youth employment will stand.

I would like to ask the minister a second question about the document that was described in today's papers. You of course are aware, because we've raised the issue in the House and it's been raised in the media, that in the last two weeks the residents of Collingwood have had to boil their water because of concerns about the safety of the local water supply. You will also be aware that cuts to the Ministry of Environment and Energy budget already total some 30% and have had a particular effect on the ability of communities to proceed with sewer and water renewal projects. Yet we read in that purported document today that you might be considering reducing even further the funding for sewer and water treatment projects for Ontario's cities and towns.

Minister, I'm sure you will agree that the importance of these sewer and water projects for our health and safety has been highlighted by the urgency of the situation in Collingwood. It seems unbelievable to think that you would be considering any further cuts. The Premier does say that those reports are out of date. Again, I give you an opportunity: Will you rule out categorically any further cuts to funding for sewer and water treatment?

Hon Mr Eves: I can't comment on specific ministries' business plan for the very good reason that I haven't seen every ministry's specific business plan, and it hasn't been --

Mr Gilles Bisson (Cochrane South): You didn't see the plan, you didn't read the plan.

Hon Mr Eves: I say to the honourable members opposite, it's too bad that they wouldn't have treated government more like a business and less as a laughing matter in the five years they were there. We wouldn't have a debt of $100 billion today.

Every single program in every single ministry in the government is up for review. I would obviously presume that the Minister of Environment and the Minister of Health would certainly have some concern for the issues that the leader of the official opposition raises, and when their specific business plans are approved through the cabinet process, then the honourable member will be entitled, as indeed every Ontarian will be entitled, to see the business plan for every single ministry in the government.

Mrs McLeod: This minister supposedly has a budget coming in less than a month; he has supposedly had a budget coming for almost a year now. I think it's high time that the public had some understanding of exactly where this minister plans to find the dollars that he is taking out of that budget.

The minister keeps referring to the fact, the broad statement that all they're doing is looking at how they can get more efficient service in government, that that's what all of this is all about. That's not what this is all about. This is about an arbitrary set of cuts being made to pay for a tax cut. This is about a government having cut summer employment, having considered cutting it even more than that, summer employment for youth, whose unemployment is running at more than 20%. It's about a government that won't today even rule out further cuts to sewer and water treatment, which have been shown to be so essential for the health and safety of our residents. It's a government that last week refused to rule out cutting support for the disabled by 10%.

The Premier has said publicly that there will be no further spending cuts in the budget that this minister will present next month, and every day we hear about more cuts. You will not even acknowledge how much you have to cut to pay for your tax cut. What is it? Are you going to have more cuts? Will we see more and more cuts to finance that tax cut for the wealthy? When will we know the full price that the people of this province have to pay for your tax cuts?

Hon Mr Eves: First of all, the honourable member knows very well that in the last year, within a year, I will have made three statements with respect to Ontario's economy. She knows full well that on July 21 there was a fiscal statement made that talked about dealing with the immediate problem of government expenditures and that there was an expenditure reduction of $1.9 billion. She knows full well that on November 29 there was another economic statement made in the House and she knows that there were targets set for various ministries, which are going about reaching those targets as we speak, of anywhere from $4.5 billion to $5.5 billion on an annualized basis. She will see the result of that exercise in the budget early in May. She will see exactly the things she is asking for today in the budget when the document comes out.

I must say to the honourable member, as I've said before, that the expenditure reduction exercise this government has undertaken is because of the fiscal problem and the financial state of the Ontario economy that we inherited on June 26. It has nothing to do with a tax cut. If there's anything to do with a tax cut, you will see it in the budgetary document itself.

We inherited a government that was spending $1 million an hour more than it took in in revenue; we inherited a government that ran up a debt of $100 billion; we inherited a government that thought it was more important to spend $9 billion a year on interest on its unlimited credit card than it was on all education in the province combined, than it was on all hospitals in the province combined. Those were the priorities of your government and their government but they're not the priorities of our government.

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

Mrs McLeod: This government's priority is to give back $14 million a day to the wealthiest people in this province, and that too is a reality that everybody in this province is going to start to pay for. Some of the cuts we have only begun to see.

The Speaker: Whom is your question to?

Mrs McLeod: Some of the cuts are hitting too hard already.


Mrs Lyn McLeod (Leader of the Opposition): My second question is to the Minister of Community and Social Services. Minister, the children's aid society in Simcoe county today reports that two families have put up their children for adoption as a direct result of your 21.5% cut in welfare rates. We're talking about two children, one from each family. Both children are under the age of 10. One child has already been placed with a family; the second child is awaiting placement.

You and the Premier are fond of saying that the cuts you're making today are for the benefit of our children. I ask you, Minister, what do you say to these children? How do you explain to these two children that they are no longer with their parents because you slashed their families' welfare payments?

Hon David H. Tsubouchi (Minister of Community and Social Services): It's not just simply about making cuts; it's also about making the system better. That's what this whole exercise is about.

It's very unfortunate that the Leader of the Opposition always commences her statements with various premises, most of which don't really have any grounding. However, that's the way she normally starts so she can get to asking some sort of question.

There are two parts to this. Certainly caring for children is a priority for us and we'll continue to help the children's aid societies deliver their mandated services. We still provide over $360 million a year to support children's aid societies and we provide services to children who are in need. The connection here is with the children's aid.

The other part of this is that when the particular cut was made in terms of welfare benefit rates, we provided people the opportunity to earn back the difference between the old and new rates. We believe this will assist people in terms of getting part-time work, leading to full-time work. Clearly the old system did not work, and that's why we've had to embark upon fundamental reform.

Mrs McLeod: Let me try to be clear. We're talking about families with children whose support you cut by 23.5%. Not one thing you have proposed will put one cent back to help those families feed or clothe their children.

Minister, deal with what happened today in Simcoe, where the children's aid society says there is only one reason why these two families have had to take the drastic action of putting their children up for adoption. It is because of your cutbacks that two families have already given up their children for adoption, and the Simcoe Children's Aid Society says there are eight other families who have approached them with exactly the same problem. Minister, I really wonder what you expect these parents to do. You have cut their support. They can no longer feed or clothe their children.


I think all of us remember the now Premier of this province saying during or prior to an election campaign that if parents on welfare can't look after their children, the children's aid society should just step in. Well, today we're seeing that become the reality, and I wonder, Minister, if this is all part of your plan. The Premier said it should happen. Is this okay with you now?

Hon Mr Tsubouchi: I suppose with the opposition, the more you repeat something -- hopefully, if you repeat it often enough, it becomes a true statement. The statements she's attributing to the Premier obviously are incorrect.

No one's disputing the fact that when we cut the benefits by 21.6% they were still 10% above the average of the rest of the provinces in Canada, but we've also provided people with the ability to earn this back.

If this is a specific occasion which the Leader of the Opposition has a great concern about, I would suggest that she send over the particulars to me. I will certainly look into it if that's the case. I can only talk right now in terms of the generalities of the programs, that certainly we gave people the opportunity to earn back the difference.

Mrs McLeod: I find it hard to believe that when two families in this province are forced to give up their children for adoption -- this isn't a secret message; we got it from the front page of the Barrie newspapers -- this minister's staff, the people around him, wouldn't consider it important enough to tell the minister what's happening as a result of his cutbacks.

Minister, it's so clear to everyone but you. You said you were going to cut welfare payments. You did. You cut welfare payments for families with children. The Premier has said, "Well, if families can't look after their children, they should let the children's aid society step in." Today they have. The children's aid society has been forced to step in, and your welfare cutbacks are now forcing parents to give up their children. They are cutbacks that are designed for one thing only, I say to you and the Minister of Finance and the Premier, and that is to pay for that tax cut that mostly benefits the rich. So here are the fruits of your action: people putting up their children for adoption so that 10% of the richest people in this province will receive more than half the tax cut promised by Mike Harris.

Minister, will you just admit that? Will you admit that it is the children of this province paying the price for the Mike Harris tax cut that benefits the most wealthy?

Hon Mr Tsubouchi: Clearly we try to give people the opportunity by the earn-back provision to get a job, get the opportunity to do that. We're not disputing that things may be difficult, but we're trying to provide that opportunity, and given the workfare program, we certainly will.

The Leader of the Opposition is first of all, I guess, debating the merits of the cut of 21.6%, which left our rates 10% above the average of the other provinces. I might remind the Leader of the Opposition that clearly in her document, the red book -- I might just quote out of here -- it says, "However, when people who are able to work refuse to participate in any of these programs, they will receive only a basic allowance that reflects the national average and is less than the current allowance." The Leader of the Opposition would have reduced rates 31.6%, so that's my answer.

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

Mr Bud Wildman (Algoma): The minister doesn't seem to understand that we're talking about people rather than rates.


Mr Bud Wildman (Algoma): I have a question for the Minister of Consumer and Commercial Relations regarding the technical standards branch of his ministry and the upcoming business plan for the ministry.

We understand that the inspection of elevators and escalators, amusement devices, fuels such as gasoline, propane and natural gas, and pressure vessels -- fuel safety -- apparently are being proposed for privatization, turning over to the private sector. Would you clarify whether or not this is indeed your ministry's position, your government position, that the work that has been carried on by the technical standards division will be privatized?

Hon Norman W. Sterling (Minister of Consumer and Commercial Relations): No, that is not the position of our government.

Mr Wildman: Can the minister assure us, can he guarantee that the work of the division, the inspection of things like elevators, pressure vessels and fuel safety will in fact continue to be carried on by his ministry staff, that the ministry will be responsible for public safety and consumer education and protection, and that these services will not be privatized or turned over to the private sector by contract or for self-regulation by the industry?

Hon Mr Sterling: Our government, as you know, is looking at every program within our government to find out better ways of delivering the services to the people of Ontario. Our primary concern is with the safety of our elevators, of our amusement devices and the other things that the technical standards branch does under my ministry.

We are looking at every option, including privatization, which you have mentioned, but we've made no decisions on them. We want to do better for less, and privatization is but one option in looking at all of those kinds of things.

Mr Wildman: I notice that the minister has now indicated that they're looking at all the options and privatization may be one of them. The final decision hasn't been made. Can the minister confirm that the industry itself has not asked for this change and that if the government proceeds with it, potentially there will not only be horrendous possibilities for safety problems, but also a loss of revenue to the provincial government?

Hon Mr Sterling: No, basically all of the premises that you have said are incorrect. Some members of the industry have asked for it. There is a possibility, in fact, when we look at this in depth, that we can enhance the safety of the people of Ontario. There will be no loss of revenue to the government as a consequence of doing these, if done properly. We may give a non-profit corporation, if that's the choice of the government, the opportunity for more flexibility to react to emerging new technology in this very, very technical area.


Mr Howard Hampton (Rainy River): In the absence of the Minister of Environment and Energy, my question is for the Minister of Municipal Affairs and Housing. Your government's business plan for the Ministry of Environment and Energy says you have major plans to gut the protection now provided to the Niagara Escarpment. Your government has already slashed the escarpment commission's staffing by almost half, making it harder to protect this ecologically sensitive area. As well, there's a long lineup of special interests who want to have the commission abolished, the plan gutted and the development-hungry municipalities given control of the escarpment. Can you confirm that your government will not be returning planning authority over the Niagara Escarpment lands to the municipalities?

Hon Al Leach (Minister of Municipal Affairs and Housing): I am not aware of any plans by the Ministry of Environment and Energy to turn the Niagara Escarpment back to the local municipalities.

Mr Hampton: I'm pleased to hear that the minister is not aware of any plans, so let me just probe a bit further. The minister and this government have been listening a lot to the aggregate producers who want to get their hands on the escarpment's gravel, to the garbage industry which is interested in placing some dumps and to the developers who want to build more golf courses and condos in this highly scenic area.

Will the minister confirm that planning authority will be kept in the hands of the commission? Will you confirm that you will retain the escarpment plan and its legislation, with boundaries that protect at least as much land as they do now?

Hon Mr Leach: I can only tell the member that there are no plans at this point in time to change the operation of the Niagara Escarpment.


Mr Hampton: Let me go back again, because what I heard the minister say is that there are no plans to change the operation of the escarpment.

Mr Bud Wildman (Algoma): At this time.

Mr Hampton: At this time. I want to go back to the issue of the commission. As you know, the commission was established because this area of the escarpment is recognized as a unique world biosphere reserve; it's recognized as being ecologically unique and ecologically worth protection. The escarpment commission was created to ensure that the proper level of protection was afforded the escarpment. Are you saying that there are no plans to either remove the escarpment commission or water down the escarpment commission's authority with respect to planning on the Niagara Escarpment?

Hon Mr Leach: As I've said in the previous two answers, we have no plans at this time to do anything with the Niagara Escarpment, but if the member thinks it's a good idea, I'd be pleased to look into it.


Mr James J. Bradley (St Catharines): I have a question for the Minister of Transportation. You have extolled the virtues of deregulation of the bus industry in Ontario, much to the chagrin of millions of people who live in the small-town and rural areas of this province. The experience in the United States when they deregulated in 1982 was that there were 11,820 communities that had bus service; nine years later, after deregulation, less than half, 5,690 communities, now have bus service.

Minister, how could you stand in the House in days gone by and contend that communities across Ontario like Leamington and Blenheim and Essex and Cottam and Long Sault and Wheatley, hundreds of communities across Ontario, are going to have adequate bus service when you see the experience south of the border and when common sense would tell you that those communities will lose their service once you take away regulation?

Hon Al Palladini (Minister of Transportation): I would like to once again say to the honourable member that bus deregulation is a sign of the times. We must be able to open up this province and offer opportunities to people who want to get into business. Clearly, by deregulating the busing industry, we'll give people the opportunity of actually enhancing services in small communities. Under regulation, over 400 communities lost bus service. Could we do worse?

Mr Bradley: The answer to the minister's question is yes, you could do worse if you proceed with deregulation of the bus industry. It was contended in the past, and I think with a good deal of justification, that a licence to operate on the major lucrative routes of the province was contingent upon a company's requirement to serve rural and often less profitable routes. Also, by agreeing to scheduled services for these communities, the companies could then gain access to what would be considered to be a money-making charter service or charter market in the province.

Do you not see that if you implement deregulation what you're going to have in Ontario is the major busing companies cherry-picking, taking only the most lucrative routes and abandoning thousands upon thousands of people who live in small towns, villages and rural areas of this province?

Hon Mr Palladini: I see the opposite happening. I actually see the competitiveness of it and the possibility of cheaper fares. As far as the big busing companies that the member is referring to are concerned, with that competitive spirit within that industry, it is not going to be that easy to cherry-pick; I believe it's the contrary.

This is where I believe the opportunity is for a small operator, an entrepreneur who wants to get into the busing business, who doesn't have a quarter of a million dollars but is able to go to the bank and borrow $25,000 or $30,000 and get a minivan that will be able to feed the major bus companies. I see this clearly as an opportunity that Ontario is looking forward to. Small-town Ontario will benefit from deregulation.


Mrs Marion Boyd (London Centre): My question is for the Attorney General and minister responsible for native affairs. Last Thursday our leader, Bud Wildman, asked you whether or not you had let the Chiefs of Ontario know what is in your ministry's business plan. You answered only that an aboriginal policy framework was presented to the chiefs and that every program was being reviewed and evaluated. Clearly you did not answer the leader of the third party's question.

In that policy framework you state, under the title "Openness," "The government is committed to public scrutiny of its undertakings and the fair and inclusive involvement of aboriginal and non-aboriginal people in matters affecting them both."

I ask you again: Did you make it clear to the chiefs at that meeting that you are, according to the business plan of the Ontario Native Affairs Secretariat, terminating funding for the implementation of the statement of political relationship?

Hon Charles Harnick (Attorney General, minister responsible for native affairs): As I've indicated, I spoke very clearly with native leadership and made it very clear that we will continue to speak with one another as equals. I think that goes to the very heart of the question that I've been asked.

Mrs Boyd: In your response last Thursday you also ignored the very pointed comments made by Chief Peters in his letter of March 27. He told you that there are very serious concerns about the policy framework and the comments made by you as the minister to the aboriginal community. In fact he says, at the end of his second paragraph: "The entire process was very disrespectful and quickly dissipated. It is a classic example of who believes they have the power and who is powerless."

Minister, did you tell the chief that the government intends to reduce capital spending on infrastructure in aboriginal communities from $20 million to $12 million over the next two years? Did you advise Chief Peters that the government intends, as outlined in the business plan, to cut funding to the Indian Commission of Ontario and that you intend to implement a 28% reduction over two years to operating grants to first nations? Did you tell Chief Peters about your government's plan to significantly reduce first nations programs that were designed to identify and develop economic opportunities for first nations people? Where is this promise of openness? Did you tell the chiefs that?

Hon Mr Harnick: I spoke very candidly with chiefs of a number of the first nations and aboriginal leaders. We spoke about the aboriginal policy framework; we spoke primarily about the focus of that framework, the focus being to develop economic opportunities for first nations and aboriginal peoples. We talked about finding sources of capital and expertise to deal with economic development, and the first nations and aboriginal leaders that I spoke with received the message positively. I received invitations from almost everyone there to visit their communities to continue these discussions. I intend to do that, and I'm disappointed that Chief Peters wasn't in agreement with the majority of the people who were there.


Mr Toni Skarica (Wentworth North): My question is for the Solicitor General. There have been a number of recent media reports saying that the private sector is going to fund the RIDE program. How can it be that this is going to happen, when the RIDE program is so important to protecting public safety?

Hon Bob Runciman (Solicitor General and Minister of Correctional Services): The private sector is not going to be funding the RIDE program, but in the Metro Toronto area, as a first step -- and I give full credit to the Metro Toronto Police for this initiative. They have encouraged the private sector to get involved to augment the funds that will be flowing from the provincial government.

An announcement was made last week that some very responsible corporate citizens, along with community groups, have donated $30,000 to the RIDE fund in the Metro area. This is going to enable the Metro police service to carry out RIDE checks throughout the year.


Mr Skarica: Given that drunk driving remains the leading cause of criminal death and injury in the province, why are we hearing that the government is considering cancelling funding of the RIDE program?

Hon Mr Runciman: That's another rumour not based on fact. This week I'm sending out 119 letters to communities across this province indicating the levels of funding for this next fiscal year. This year we are doubling the RIDE funding to $1.2 million right across the province. We strongly believe in this program. We are committed to public safety, and this government has committed to continuing to fund the RIDE program.


Mr Mike Colle (Oakwood): My question is to the Minister of Transportation. Minister, since your government came to power, there have been dramatic cutbacks in road repair and reconstruction. Tender totals for road repair to date have shown a 50% reduction in the amount of money being put aside for road maintenance and repair in this province.

Given that the Provincial Auditor warned you that 60% of the roads in this province are substandard, how can you justify your continual cuts when these ill-repaired roads are causing severe damage to automobiles, causing certainly havoc to public safety and doing severe damage to commerce in this province? How can you continue to cut back, considering the fact that the longer you delay and cut necessary repairs -- in the future you're going to triple, quadruple the cost of road repairs? Why keep cutting?

Hon Al Palladini (Minister of Transportation): I would like to thank the member for Oakwood. Let me begin by saying I am aware that this winter has been very hard on roads, just like everybody in this House is aware. With the OPSEU strike, certain things that would have been able to get done weren't, so we're playing catch-up right now.

Let me assure this House and the people of Ontario that the potholes are being fixed and will continue to be fixed. The Provincial Auditor reported back in 1994 that, you're right, 60% of our highways are not the way they're supposed to be. I am concerned, this government is concerned about the last 10 years of neglect, that the provincial highways have deteriorated to this point. It was your two governments that didn't put the money back in the roads.

Mr Colle: As you know, this minister has a propensity for the perpetual whine: It's Ottawa's fault, it's the weather's fault, it's OPSEU's fault. I think it's your fault, Minister, because when you came to power in June you and your ministry cut the maintenance budget; in other words, the number of dollars that were tendered out for repairing roads, you cut them in half. In June they went from $239 million to $137 million and they continued to be cut, so you've cut the amount of money going into road repair, which the private sector would do, almost in half. It wasn't the weather or OPSEU or the NDP or the Liberals; your ministry cut the maintenance and repair budget and is still cutting.

Why do you do that when you know it's going to cost you a lot more down the road and it's going to cost Ontario motorists big time? You know what a front-end alignment costs these days. It can cost a person $2,000. Stop blaming people and fix those potholes.

Hon Mr Palladini: Once again I would like to thank the member for Oakwood, and I want to say that I do care, this government does care, about our highway infrastructure. The good repair of our highways is a very critical thing. For our economic growth, we must pay attention, and that is one of the reasons why we are going to be putting more money back into infrastructure.

I would like to correct the member. He's saying that we are cutting highway infrastructure repairs. That is not true. We did not cut highway infrastructure repair back in our July statement or our November statement. We are going to be putting more money into our highway infrastructure this year than we have in the last six years. That's a commitment from the Mike Harris government.


Mr Rosario Marchese (Fort York): My question is to the Minister of Citizenship. I was looking at the government of Ontario telephone directory to find out what it says under citizenship, culture and recreation, and I'll read only one line because I don't have the time to read more, but it says:

"The ministry, through its policies and programs, fosters access and equity for communities that experience barriers to full participation in society, including aboriginal people, cultural and racial minorities, immigrants and refugees, persons with disabilities and senior citizens."

These words used to mean something, but they don't mean the same thing any more. The anti-racism secretariat is gone, the Employment Equity Act is gone, the Advocacy Act is gone, the advisory council on seniors issues is gone. This government is closing the book on equity, and there's a final chapter that's coming. The final chapter is, as I understand, that in your business plan you plan to make some changes that would in effect shut down your ministry, and I would be concerned, because this minister is about to become redundant.

Some of the changes include cultural changes, which I will get to another day, but today I have learned that you intend to transfer the lead for seniors issues to the Ministry of Health, so I asked Bea Levis, who is the co-chair of the Ontario Coalition of Senior Citizens' Organizations, what she said, and she said:

"We fear that putting seniors under the health umbrella will focus seniors issues on a narrow health or physical agenda. The contribution of seniors to the total community, including social and economic issues, would be downplayed."

I agree with Bea. What does the minister think?

Hon Marilyn Mushinski (Minister of Citizenship, Culture and Recreation): I think somewhere in that speech was a question, although I'm not quite sure what the question was, so I would ask the speaker of the question to be patient. This may be difficult for him to be, but I would suggest that he be patient and see what the announcement says.

Ms Frances Lankin (Beaches-Woodbine): You don't have a clue what is going on.

Mr Gilles Bisson (Cochrane South): "Be patient."

Mr Marchese: I think somewhere in her answer there was an answer, but I must have missed it for sure, and I had these hearing aids to hear it. The minister, as usual, never answers my questions, but I will say this. Mr Cam Jackson, when he was around on that side of the House, used to say around these issues: "I call on the Premier to recognize the fundamental dignity and rights of Ontario's seniors and to move quickly to address their needs. If he does not, he will learn the political lesson that when it comes to the issues of justice for seniors, silence can indeed be fatal." Remember those words, Mr Jackson? I'm sure you do.

I have a supplementary on the issue of the business plan, Mr Speaker. Because this business plan speaks to the issues of the Human Rights Commission and the fact that it will be reviewed -- I hope the minister is listening, because she is being distracted.

I remind the minister that they said this before the election around the Human Rights Commission: "A portion of the money saved by winding down the Employment Equity Commission set up to enforce quotas, $9.3 million, will be redirected to the Human Rights Commission." That was a promise that they made. I want to ask the minister, is she going to keep that promise?


Hon Ms Mushinski: I thought actually the supplementary speech was going to be directed to Minister Jackson. Unfortunately, through all the rhetoric of the member's speech, I had some difficulty fully understanding the very last part of his question because there was a little bit of a blip in my earpiece. I'll do my best through the rhetoric of his question to answer what I think was his question, and I believe that has to do with the Ontario Human Rights Commission.

As the speaker of the question well knows, we have clearly indicated that we are in the process of a complete review of the Ontario Human Rights Commission and the Ontario Human Rights Code. We are undergoing that review as we speak, and I'm quite sure --


The Speaker (Hon Allan K. McLean): The member for Cochrane South.

Hon Ms Mushinski: -- this fully with a view to reform and to streamlining the caseloads that clearly have been built up over many years, especially with the previous government. In fact we already have been able to reduce the caseloads.

Ms Lankin: Marilyn, that was embarrassing.

The Speaker: Order. I believe the question has been answered.

Ms Lankin: That was so embarrassing, Marilyn. Hang your head.

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


Mrs Margaret Marland (Mississauga South): My question is to the Minister of Education and Training. Minister, over the last several weeks I have spoken to a number of students, parents and educators in Peel region about the education system. While they may disagree on the type and degree of cost savings that can be made in our schools, they all express their concern over the future of young teachers in the education system. It seems every time there are cutbacks or population trends shift, it is the new teachers with the fresh ideas that are laid off. Minister, what steps are you prepared to take so that young teachers do not continue to bear the brunt of the job losses when budgets must be trimmed?

Hon John Snobelen (Minister of Education and Training): I want to thank the member for Mississauga South for the question because I too am concerned about the young teachers in our school system. Over the course of the last few months, I've had a chance to tour a number of schools in this province. As a matter of fact, I spent about 25% of my time in schools, and I've met a number of young teachers who are supplying the vitality and the energy that's so essential for our education system.

Many of those young teachers are the teachers who are running the innovative programs that really are the future of our education system, and I've seen in the press quotes from students. I have a quote here from a student that says, "It's always sad when you lose teachers, but it's especially sad when you lose young teachers." And a quote from a president of a local OSSTF in part of the province who says, "There's a difference in the vitality and energy that young teachers bring to the job." A local president of the OSSTF said that.

That's why I am pleased -- I've been following the layoff notices that boards have given teachers across the province, and I think it's been interesting over the course of the last few weeks that I read reports in the press that those layoff notices may have been greatly exaggerated and in fact the threat to young teachers may be much less than it was before.

I want to point out to the member too that this is not the first time this province has faced a reduction in our system. It was faced in the 1970s, when the baby-boomers came to an end and young teachers lost their jobs because that was part of the agreement between the boards and the local unions. I hope, based on the quote I've just read, perhaps something has been learned, perhaps those boards and the unions who make these seniority decisions will have a thought for those young teachers who are so important for our system.

Mrs Marland: I would say to the minister that there is a correlation between teachers entering the system and those retiring. Minister, given the fact that collective agreements require that younger teachers be the first laid off and also that the number of teachers expected to annually retire under the 90 factor retirement scheme will double in the next 10 years, are you prepared to look at efforts that will ensure that there is an adequate number of young teachers in class gaining experience to meet the education system's needs for the next century?

Hon Mr Snobelen: As I said a moment ago, and as the member has pointed out, these retirement situations are a product of the negotiations between the boards and the unions, and I understand that they will, I would hope, keep in mind that the vitality of our system is in question when we let all of the young teachers go.

I also want to point out that under the retirement factor 90 that's in place, 25% more teachers will be eligible for retirement over the course of the next two years. In fact, that involves 3,500 teachers over the next two years who will become eligible under factor 90 in their pension program.

Unfortunately, in the education system, about half of the people who are eligible to retire choose not to, and of course that causes a real problem for those young people who are entering our system. So I think we'll be looking at ways to help boards when they make the negotiations with unions, to look at the seniority issue, to have that be part of the negotiating process, and also to encourage people to take retirement when it's available to them to protect those younger members of the profession.


Mr Frank Miclash (Kenora): In the absence of the Minister of Agriculture, I'll redirect my question to the Minister of Northern Development.

The minister will be aware -- at least I hope he will be aware -- that the Ontario Farm Products Marketing Commission has announced some proposed changes to the distribution of milk products throughout northern Ontario. As he may know, these changes will remove all consideration to the producing and processing of milk products in northern Ontario by allowing southern producers to compete in northern communities.

Minister, producers tell me that these changes are being made or have been proposed with little or no public consultation. If they do proceed, we're looking at plant closures and job losses in northern Ontario. I'm looking for assurances from you that these changes will not result in increases to milk and milk products and the closure of the many dairy plants that we have in northern Ontario, which again will lead to job losses.

Hon Chris Hodgson (Minister of Natural Resources, Northern Development and Mines): As the member opposite alleges that there's been no public consultation, I'll check out that allegation and get back to him.

Mr Miclash: Minister, as the northern representative at the cabinet table, I would hope you would check that out. Residents of northern Ontario, and I'm starting to agree with them, feel that you're not interested in their problems, that your government is not listening and doesn't understand the problems.

We all recognize that change must be made, but what northerners are looking for is involvement in that change, changes that are going to be made that will create job loss in northern Ontario, plant closures in northern Ontario, the increase of prices of milk and milk products.

Minister, will you assure me today that you will perform full public hearings in northern Ontario in regard to this most important matter?

Hon Mr Hodgson: As I told the member, I'll check and see if there's been any public consultation, but I want to correct his premise. This government is putting northern development and northern interests at the forefront. Northern Development and Mines, we promised in A Voice for the North, would become a lead ministry, and I think you'll seen announcements this spring that will show that is happening.



Mr Bud Wildman (Algoma): I have a question to the Minister of Community and Social Services. We have good reason to believe and understand that this government intends to change the definition of "disability" for people who qualify for disability assistance in the province. I understand that according to your ministry's business plan, that definition change was targeted for March 1996. It still hasn't come and people who are disabled are becoming more and more anxious. They're having to survive on the welfare assistance that has been cut by your ministry. They don't know what their future holds. When will the minister make clear what the government's intention is with regard to changes to the definition of "disability," and how many people will be adversely affected by it?

Hon David H. Tsubouchi (Minister of Community and Social Services): Firstly, there's been no change to the definition of "disability," so if the leader of the third party is saying that somehow these people who are defined as disabled right now are currently on the GWA system, he knows we expedited through anybody, because of the rate change, and I certainly would like to hear of any circumstance if someone is disabled and still on GWA because they surely should not be there right now. As I said before, we're consulting with the disabled community. This is probably about the tenth time I've --

Mr Peter Kormos (Welland-Thorold): Oh, name names.

Hon Mr Tsubouchi: Name names? This is probably about the tenth time I've stood up and talked about this. Clearly, the reason we are consulting with people is it's necessary for us to work with them to define what they need. Clearly, the old system had too much confusion -- the access point to the system. In fact, the prior minister obviously said somewhat the same thing. I agree we have to make the system better, less confusing and provide more services, better services to the disabled community. The direct services are very important.

Mr Wildman: If the minister is indeed consulting, his consultations are wanting and they're leading to more and more anxiety in the disabled community. We understand that according to the business plan of your ministry, you intend to bring in a guaranteed income support plan for the elderly and the disabled. That was also targeted for March 1996, I understand, and it's not here yet.

Can you tell us how the definition of "disabled" will relate to this new program, will there be fewer people eligible for it than are now getting the assistance he just spoke of, and if so, how many fewer? When will we know and when will the disabled community know what kinds of programs are being provided, what the definition will be and how the change in definition will change the numbers who are eligible?

Hon Mr Tsubouchi: It's no surprise to anybody that we are moving the seniors and the disabled off the welfare system. We've clearly made that promise. We'll be doing this shortly. I say to the leader of the third party that he's just going to have to wait and see.

One of the members of the third party was questioning the advisory committee. They wanted me to name some names and I will accommodate them. These are the members of the advisory committee we have been consulting with: Christian Horizons; Federation of Ontario Facility Liaison Groups; Great Lakes Society for Development Services of Ontario; l'Arche Ontario; Metro Agencies Representatives Council, MARC; Ontario Association for Community Living; People First of Ontario; Provincial Coalition on Special Services at Home; and Special Services At Home Family Alliance.


Hon Mr Tsubouchi: Someone over there in the third party doesn't like the fact we're consulting people. They don't like the obvious list of people I'm advising them are on this advisory committee, and in fact someone made the disparaging remark, "What about Zellers?" Clearly, we take this seriously. I don't know if they do or not by that comment, but we clearly do. We have a commitment to the disabled community, and that's why we're working with it.


Mr Chris Stockwell (Etobicoke West): My question is to the Minister of Education and Training. We ran out of questions today, so I was lucky enough to get fortunately on the list. Mr Minister, there are some concerns with respect to the trustees in the good city of Etobicoke and others in Metropolitan Toronto, and I've heard rumours in Ottawa that there's some concern up there as well with respect to this negative grant stuff.

The question the trustees and homeowners and ratepayers around the city of Etobicoke are putting to me is, there's a question about the permissiveness of this. In effect, if the trustees choose not to adopt your recommendations and not forward you the money, they say they don't have to, or you say they don't have to. Could you point out to me in the legislation exactly how it's worded so that if they refuse that opportunity of funding the money, they don't have to?

Hon John Snobelen (Minister of Education and Training): I want to thank the member for Etobicoke West for the question. As the member has pointed out, there is certainly a difference in the way school boards across the province are funded. As a matter of fact, there is considerable difference in the cost or the amount of money boards spend per student on education in this province, from a low of under $5,000 per student to over $7,000 per student in some of our more high-spending boards.

Our commitment, which was mentioned in the finance minister's statement on November 29 and which was reified in this chamber only a few weeks ago, is to make sure that our system becomes more equitable in how we fund education in this province. We are in negotiation now and having conversations with our so-called negative grant boards, boards that receive more industrial and commercial tax revenue than other boards do across this province. What we want to do is to allow the province to enter into conversations with all of those boards with the purpose -- and I assume this would be the purpose of the members opposite too -- of having a fair and equitable education system in the province of Ontario, one that's fair for every student in this province.

Mr Stockwell: I think all members in this House would look for a fair and equitable education system. It's just the definition of "permissive" that's got some people concerned in my riding. Let me give you an analogy that some of the trustees are giving me: Someone goes into a corner store, holds a gun against the clerk's head and says, "Could you please put all the money in this bag?" That's permission to put the money in the bag. The second part is that it goes unsaid that, "If you don't put the money in the bag, I'll blow your head off."

The question the trustees have put to me and I've had this great opportunity today to put to you is: What is the permission? What is permissive? If the trustees and the boards say to them very specifically --

Mr John R. Baird (Nepean): Four, three, two, one.

Mr Stockwell: I guess I've got a countdown from some of the brighter rearguard members.

If there is going to be permissive legislation, if they decide not to give you the money, are they going to then be forced to ante up $62 million? My constituents don't really feel interested in having their local tax dollar -- property taxes -- spent funding education systems across the province of Ontario.

Hon Mr Snobelen: I want to thank the member for a supplemental question. If I have some sense of this, you're wondering about permissiveness. I think the member is probably relating it to sort of like having an invitation from your mother to come by for dinner; you're not sure you can decline it. This is in fact not in that way. There has been some advice to our ministry that legally there needs to be a change in the Education Act so that boards can share with the province, and that's what our intention is.

I want, though, to remind all members of this chamber that there is one taxpayer in this province, that all levels of government are collecting from that same hard-working person who's paying their taxes, whose intention it is to have the children of this province, all of the children of this province, receive a good, high-quality education.



Mr Monte Kwinter (Wilson Heights): I have a petition.

"To the Legislative Assembly of Ontario:

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

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

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

I've affixed my signature.



Mr Gilles Bisson (Cochrane South): I have a petition, this time from the people of Toronto, who write this petition in regard to rent control, and it 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 rent control system;

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

"Therefore we, the undersigned, call upon the Legislative Assembly of Ontario to stop the attack on the 3.5 million tenants of this province and preserve rent control."

I signed the petition.


Mr Pat Hoy (Essex-Kent): To the Legislative Assembly of Ontario:

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

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

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

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

I affix my name to this petition.


Mr Gilles Pouliot (Lake Nipigon): I have a petition signed by concerned citizens in the town of Geraldton, the town of Longlac as far as Thunder Bay. Both Geraldton and Longlac are in the great riding of Lake Nipigon. The petition is addressed to the Ontario Legislature, and reads as follows:

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

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

I have of course affixed my name to this petition.


Mrs Elinor Caplan (Oriole): I have a petition to the Legislative Assembly of Ontario and also written to the Honourable Mike Harris, Premier and President of the Executive Council.

"Whereas, as members of this community, we are greatly concerned with the decreasing number of resources and supports available to women. In our society, women occupy a multitude of different roles. They are our mothers, wives, sisters, daughters, friends, colleagues and leaders. They are essential members of our community;

"Whereas some issues that limit a woman's ability to fulfil her role in society are physical abuse, homelessness, substance abuse and mental illness. At present, all these issues are on the rise. In addition, cuts to social assistance, affordable housing, legal aid, child care subsidy and job training have been made. As a result, more women are in need of help and support;

"Whereas women's shelters have the ability to provide services to address these health issues. Many shelters not only provide food, clothing and a place to stay but also provide life skills training, counselling, educational and recreational programs, support groups and outreach. Housing/medical/psychiatric referrals, family/social support networking, aftercare and vocational counselling are provided as well;

"Whereas a shelter's ability to provide these services depends upon the resources available to them. It is economically more beneficial to maintain these services by providing them with adequate funding for resources. The services shelters provide empower women to gain control, autonomy and self-reliance. Only then can all women learn to help themselves and become self-sufficient. In turn, self-sufficiency helps women to permanently exit the social assistance program through employment;

"Whereas women who are economically stable can raise themselves and their children above the poverty line; poverty has been known to create multiple health problems. Therefore, a decrease in poverty will result in a decrease in the total cost of the health care system;

"Whereas women have the right to be safe and free, therefore we advocate for full funding of women's emergency and second-level shelters with services offering education, counselling and outreach. Full funding is not only beneficial, it is essential."

The petition has been signed by several hundred people and I add my name to this petition.


Mr Tony Silipo (Dovercourt): I have a petition signed by about 156 people in the riding of Dovercourt and throughout Metropolitan Toronto which reads as follows:

"Whereas the government's 21.6% cut in welfare payments and cuts to programs such as day care, women's shelters and non-profit housing are causing serious economic hardship to the most vulnerable in our society;

"Whereas the government's proposed reductions in income tax rates will be most beneficial to the most economically advantaged society;

"Whereas there is no evidence that such tax cuts would significantly increase private spending, therefore stimulating job creation;

"Whereas the deficit problem that the government claims to be addressing with social program cuts will only be worsened by such tax cuts;

"Whereas tax reductions in the face of severe social program cuts amount to taking from the poor and unemployed and giving to the rich;

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

"No tax cuts should be approved until measures have been taken to address the economic insecurity of the poor and unemployed and until the Ontario budget has been balanced."

I have attached my name to this petition.


Mrs Sandra Pupatello (Windsor-Sandwich): To the Legislative Assembly of Ontario:

"Whereas high-quality child care contributes significantly to the healthy development of all children;

"Whereas research has proven that good wages and working conditions for early childhood educators are a key factor in high-quality care;

"Whereas the best child care system is one that is accessible, affordable and regulated for quality;

"Whereas recent cuts to child care are destabilizing the entire child care system in Ontario;

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

"That all public funding be restored for child care, including subsidies, capital funds, operating grants and all-day junior kindergarten, pilot projects and programs;

"That all existing commitments regarding wage subsidies, pay equity programs and other funding programs and/or policies that help to stabilize high-quality child care for children and families in the province of Ontario be retained, and

"That public hearings be held as part of the child care service review process."

I add my name to this petition.


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 is signed by 15 residents of Barry's Bay. I have affixed my signature as well.


Mr John O'Toole (Durham East): It's my pleasure today to rise and present a petition from a Mrs Dingman in my riding of Durham East.

"Whereas the Minister of Municipal Affairs and Housing has recently received the Golden report on the GTA reform; and

"Whereas the impact on our tax dollars means we will bail out Toronto;

"Therefore, the people of Durham East have taken up the following petition:

"If you are concerned about the GTA and the Toronto tax grab, please sign below and we will take this petition to our MPP, John O'Toole, to present to our government at Queen's Park."

I present and sign my name to this petition.



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

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

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

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

"Whereas privatization is being sold as a way to save tax dollars, even though large companies pay little or no taxes while individual Canadians pay most of the 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's public services and reinstate successor rights for public service employees."


Mr Mario Sergio (Yorkview): I have a petition which is addressed to the Legislative Assembly of Ontario. It is lengthy, so I'll only read a couple of the paragraphs.

"Whereas the government is intent on cutting educational funding so that children are denied their basic right to quality education, and whereas the government cuts to day care facilities restrict parents' access to affordable and decent child care programs within the province;

"Whereas the government has seen fit to abandon job training programs and failed to create a formal jobs strategy for the province, despite continually high unemployment,

"We, the undersigned, petition the Legislative Assembly and the Mike Harris government to live up to their promises of protecting rent controls, not introducing user fees, and creating over 725,000 jobs in the province."

I will assign my signature.


Mr David Christopherson (Hamilton Centre): I present a petition signed by over 600 citizens.

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

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


Mr Steve Gilchrist (Scarborough East): To the Parliament of Ontario:

"Whereas the Liberal government led by David Peterson raised taxes 33 times between 1985 and 1990;

"Whereas the NDP government led by Bob Rae raised taxes 32 times;

"Whereas the last income tax increase introduced under the previous NDP government actually brought in significantly less money to the province of Ontario;

"Whereas high taxes kill jobs;

"Whereas cutting taxes creates jobs;

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

"We urge the provincial government to keep their election commitment to cut provincial income taxes by 30% to create jobs in the private sector for the people of Ontario."

I affix my signature.

Mr Richard Patten (Ottawa Centre): I have a petition which reads:

"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, and 46% of Ontario families make less than $35,000 per year but will get only 7.3% of the benefits of the proposed tax cuts, which would amount to about $462 a year. Families with total incomes of over $95,000 a year make up only 9.2% of all Ontario families, but they will get 32.7% of the benefits. In these tough times it is unconscionable that the poor will go hungry while the wealthy are given more.

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

Mr Peter Kormos (Welland-Thorold): I've got a petition that's been given to me by Conscientious Objectors to the War Against the Poor, an organization which is being coordinated by Citizens for Public Justice and the Interfaith Social Assistance Review Committee. It's addressed to the Legislative Assembly of Ontario and it says:

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

That's signed by Marilyn Leslie of Woodcroft Crescent in Welland, Betty Rose of Fitch Street, Eva Smith of Church Street, Eric Roberts of Fitch Street and a whole lot of other folks in Welland-Thorold. I put my name on it and I present it to you now, Speaker.



Mrs Caplan moved first reading of the following bill:

Bill 41, An Act to protect the Rights of Persons receiving Health Services in Ontario / Projet de loi 41, Loi visant à protéger les droits des personnes qui reçoivent des services de santé en Ontario.

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

Would you like to say a few remarks?

Mrs Elinor Caplan (Oriole): Yes. I'll be very brief. I know this is not my opportunity to speak to the bill. This is an act which brings together all of the different rights which presently exist in other legislation in the province. As well, it attempts to educate the public as well as providers, professionals, to know what their rights are both as they deliver service and as they receive services. It will be debated shortly during private members' hour, and I do hope members will decide to support this very important piece of legislation.



Mr Wildman moved, pursuant to standing order 43(a), want of confidence motion number 2:

Whereas the government has reaffirmed its commitment to both balance the budget and implement a 30% reduction in personal income taxes; and

Whereas economic growth in Ontario is predicted to continue to be weak at 2.3%, much lower than the government's assumptions in the Common Sense Revolution; and

Whereas the current unemployment rate for the province stands at 8.9% and the employment outlook given the low growth rate is expected to continue to weaken over the next year; and

Whereas the cuts to government spending were cited by the witnesses at the pre-budget hearings of the standing committee on finance and economic affairs as the major contributor to the poor economic performance and loss of jobs; and

Whereas by cutting personal income taxes to capture the tax savings published in the Common Sense Revolution, the government will lose $27.8 billion in revenue by the year 2000; and

Whereas in order to balance the budget as promised in the Common Sense Revolution the government will have to implement further spending cuts, which will affect children, senior citizens, and other vulnerable Ontarians; and

Whereas the cost of such a tax cut, which is to reduce the percentage of basic federal tax by 20 points, will add an extra $16.5 billion to the accumulated debt of the province; and

Whereas fully two thirds of the value of the tax cut will go to the top 10% of income earners and will do nothing to increase consumer spending; and

Whereas witnesses at the pre-budget committee hearings agreed that the Common Sense Revolution's promise of 725,000 new jobs is unrealistic and unattainable; and

Whereas the government has refused to listen to expert witnesses, the people of the province and has refused to pay attention to the reality of Ontario's economic situation;

Therefore, pursuant to the provisions of standing order 43(a), the House no longer has confidence in the government.

Mr David Turnbull (York Mills): I believe we have all-party support for dividing the time equally.

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

Mr Bud Wildman (Algoma): I'm pleased to be able to put forward for debate today this motion which demonstrates our complete lack of confidence in this government and its economic approach. The Conservative government is involved in mathematical hocus-pocus. It has on the one hand confirmed a commitment to balance the budget, but on the other hand to implement a 30% reduction in personal income taxes and to create, over five years, 725,000 new jobs.

However, as we point out, economic growth in Ontario is predicted to continue to be weak at 2.3%, much lower than the government's assumptions in its campaign document, the so-called Common Sense Revolution. The current unemployment rate for the province stands at 8.9%, and the unemployment outlook, related to the low growth in the economy, is expected to continue to weaken over the next year.


A key indication of the economic health of a community is the number of people who have full-time, permanent jobs. The more people who are employed, the more money is circulating in the economy, creating more demand and more jobs. Ontario's economic picture is bleak. The unemployment rate is very high and it continues to remain so. Unfortunately, unemployment among our youth is particularly high and more young people are unemployed today than they were a year ago in Ontario.

The government has recently made much of the fact, and the Minister of Economic Development, Trade and Tourism has made much of the fact that the latest job creation numbers show a net increase of 31,000 new jobs. The problem is that the minister, whenever he touts this in this House, leaves out the fact that the labour force participation rate has grown by 38,000 in the same period. The February figures really reveal a net increase in unemployment in Ontario of 7,000 people and the government's own numbers indicate that the number of people unemployed in 1996 will actually increase, not decrease.

So far, the average growth in jobs for the first two months of 1996 is 42,000, but at the same time the number of people unemployed in this province has grown by 20,000. Yet this government claims they will be successful in creating 725,000 new jobs over the period of their government mandate.

In the recent debate in this House, the member for Brampton North, I believe, made much of the fact that this government is promising a tax break which will stimulate employment, that the tax cuts that are promised will be the economic engine that will produce jobs in the province. But even he, in his speech, admitted that if he's correct, if the government is right, the actual number of jobs that will be created will not take effect for two to three years after the tax cut. It's not just me saying this, it was a member of the government party.

He argued, interestingly enough, at that time that the reason the government is looking at a tax cut for the personal income tax rate rather than something like other types of taxes, like the sales tax, for instance, was that a cut in the provincial sales tax would create a bulge in consumer spending, that there would be a rush of consumers to spend because of a cut in the sales tax, but that would simply mean consumer spending would be bunched together and that later on it would fall off. That's why he felt an income tax cut was the best way to go; the problem being, of course, that while there might be a bulge in retail sales if we have a retail sales tax cut immediately, it would not be long term, but the cuts that are being proposed by this government in income tax rates would not take effect for two or three years.

I think we should keep that in mind as we look at whether or not this motion should be passed by the House. I hope all members of the House will look at this very carefully. The latest growth projections of this government are that the best that can be achieved in terms of jobs over the next two years is 81,000 for 1996 and 100,000 for 1997. That would require an average GNP growth of over 6% a year. No one in the province, none of the people who appeared before the pre-budget hearings of the standing committee on finance and economic affairs, predicted a 6% growth rate, none of the economists or anyone else who appeared, and frankly, neither is this government projecting that kind of growth over the long term.

The current economic growth is much slower than expected. One year ago, forecasters were predicting that the Ontario economy would grow by 4.5% for 1995. However, performance was much less than what was expected. When the final figures come in -- they aren't in yet -- 1995 is expected to have experienced an increase in economic growth of only 2.5%.

Each of the experts who appeared before the legislative committee, including the government's own witness from Canada Trust, said the Mike Harris spending cuts are having a negative impact on retail sales and on jobs, that they are dragging down the whole economy of the province. It's significant that the witness who was proposed by government members in that committee agreed with that position. I'll give you a quote from Patti Croft of Canada Trust:

"Ontario is attempting to downsize government's share of the GDP in the province at a time of relatively weak economic activity. I think that this does run the risk of tipping the province into a period of sustained sluggish growth." This is a witness who appeared before the committee at the request of the government members of the committee predicting sluggish growth for the economy of the province, and yet the government seems hell-bent on continuing the approach it's taken with regard to the tax cut.

The irony of this position is that the spending cuts are causing the downturn in the economy, the drag on the economy, and the uncertainty of consumers is hurting consumer spending. Any tax cut is going to require further cuts in spending unless the deficit has declined substantially, or we're going to just borrow all the money for the tax cut. The cuts in themselves and the unemployment they're causing are producing the vulnerability and the feeling of concern and uncertainty that are leading to slow consumer spending.

You can't just say there'll be growth, when in fact consumers are not spending at the rates this government had predicted. The tax cut is supposed to be an economic stimulus, but the spending cuts that are required to allow the government to proceed with it are having the opposite impact on the economy and on consumer spending.

The government's rhetoric includes a statement that growth is fuelled by the tax cut and that there will be increases in revenues to pay for the tax cut and create the 725,000 jobs. In fact, the only fiscal stimulus this government is proposing is the tax cut, but this approach is based simply on the belief in the tax cut. The government has taken a leap of faith and is asking everybody in Ontario to follow that approach, to take that same leap of faith. This is an ideological rather than an economic approach to dealing with the economy of the province.

Mr Floyd Laughren (Nickel Belt): Like Ronald Reagan.

Mr Wildman: My colleague says it's like Ronald Reagan. When people point to Reagan's approach, members of this government will say: "Wait a minute. Ronald Reagan didn't cut spending. The Congress didn't go along with his proposals to cut, and besides that, Ronald Reagan, the President himself, significantly increased defence spending."

I was on a panel recently with the member for Halton Centre, who said we should be looking at the Kennedy cut in the 1960s rather than at the Reagan cuts in the 1980s. There is a significant difference. At the time of the Kennedy cuts for taxes in the 1960s there was tremendous optimism. There was tremendous growth taking place in the economy generally. There was tremendous economic expansion related partly to the expansion of the war effort. There was also a significant amount of consumer spending. There wasn't the uncertainty at the time that Kennedy brought in his tax cuts. There wasn't the concern by consumers. Consumers were spending. Consumers are not spending now, and I think it is more appropriate for us to look at the Reagan situation rather than the proposed Kennedy cuts.


Mr Steve Gilchrist (Scarborough East): If a tax cut is bad, are tax increases good?

Mr Wildman: We aren't advocating that.

Mr Laughren: You support an increase in softwood lumber taxes.

Mr Wildman: And you're taking the revenue.

It's not just me who's saying this. Obviously, the committee invited all sorts of experts to appear before the committee and the committee prepared a report. What did the report state? It says, "If the overall effect is negative, the government may see the same kind of revenue losses (through unemployment and lower consumption) it was seeing earlier in this decade, and ultimately, a deterioration in the deficit situation." That's a quote from the report.

Obviously, that report was prepared by research for the committee, but the committee members could have changed it, and if they didn't change it, they must be in agreement with it. Otherwise, I suppose they could have brought in a minority report, if there had been a minority of members who didn't support the report. But I don't remember hearing or seeing the government members bring in any kind of disagreement with that statement that the amount of unemployment that is being produced by these cuts and the lack of consumption may be exacerbated by this government's approach and we may see a deterioration of the deficit situation in Ontario.

The proposal of the Harris government basically is that while it provides some economic stimulus through a tax cut, the tax cut does not make up for the downturn caused by the spending cuts and, furthermore, the spending cuts are required to implement the tax cuts. It's a circular argument. What we are concerned about on this side of the House is not only what the overall effect would be of the spending cuts that are forced because of the commitment to a tax cut, but who will benefit.

It's obviously the case that the wealthiest in this province will be the only ones who will really benefit from a tax cut, that the lower- and middle-income earners will not benefit very much, if at all. The problem with that is that we are hurting the most vulnerable in making the cuts in order to produce a tax cut that will benefit only a very small group at the very top of the income scale.

The committee showed that more than half of the total cut will go to families with annual incomes of over $90,000; the cost of the tax cut, $5 billion in lost revenue to the provincial government, to benefit the top 10% of income earners. At the same time this government, to help pay for that tax cut, has cut welfare rates by 22%, which has had a devastating effect on the families dependent on those welfare payments, but the whole approach also has a devastating effect on the economy.

If you give a tax cut to a very small group of people, their spending will not significantly affect the overall consumption rates in the province, while at the same time the government has cut significantly to the poorest in our economy, the people who spend the vast majority of their income, if not all of it. They are spending less while the wealthy, who are going to benefit from a tax cut, are not going to be spending significantly more. Our position and the reason we have no confidence in this government's approach is that we believe the tax cut will not make up for the spending cuts in our economy.

While the tax cut might produce as many as 50,000 jobs, the cuts in government programs and the public service will cost 145,000 to 175,000 jobs. There will be a combined net loss in jobs in this province of between 95,000 and 125,000 jobs. This doesn't mean 725,000 new jobs being produced in this province; it means fewer jobs, it means more unemployment, it means less consumer spending, it means more misery and more poverty in the province, and at the same time we're making major cuts in programs that are designed to help people who are experiencing poverty in order to finance a program that is going to put more people in poverty.

Now what about the deficit reduction? The government has a mantra where the ministers day after day will get up in this House and say, "We've got to make these cuts to services and to programs, to government expenditures, because there is a significant deficit and we've got to bring the deficit down."

The Minister of Finance repeatedly states, and he said again today, that the cuts that have been made so far and that are currently being contemplated by government ministries have nothing to do with the tax cut, that they're completely separate from the tax cut, that they only have to do with the deficit.

Let's look at this seriously. If you're dealing with the cuts in programs just to cut the deficit, even if we accept that, surely if you also bring in a tax cut, that's also going to affect the deficit. You can't say it has nothing to do with it. Of course it's related. It's all part of the same package -- revenue and expenditures.

By cutting personal income taxes to make up for the commitment made in the Common Sense Revolution, the government will lose $27.8 billion in revenue by the year 2000. The cost of the tax cut, which is to reduce the percentage of basic federal tax by 20 points, will add an extra $16.5 billion to the accumulated debt of the province. Whether the Minister of Finance likes to agree or not, the fact is, by taking away revenue over a period of time, we are going to significantly increase the accumulated debt in Ontario.

It's not just us that's saying that. The Dominion Bond Rating Service has said, "The promised 30% reduction in personal income taxes is the single biggest hurdle to balancing the budget." It's not just us saying that you shouldn't be bringing in the tax cut. These are people who look at budgets, who look at deficits, who look at government expenditures and make recommendations with regard to bond rates and to interest rates on government borrowing that determine whether it's going to be easier or more difficult for the government to borrow. They're saying this doesn't make sense. They're saying if you reduce your income taxes by that rate, inevitably the budget is not going to be balanced.

Mr Chris Stockwell (Etobicoke West): Why didn't you listen to them when you were in for five years? They told you not to spend like you did.

The Acting Speaker: The member for Etobicoke West, please.

Mr Wildman: As a matter of fact the member, who is not in his seat, knows full well that over the last two years of our mandate we spent less year over year for the first time of any government of any political stripe since 1945.

This is a government, this Conservative government, which says it is committed to doing three different things that do not go together at all. They're saying they're going to reduce the deficit by spending cuts; they're going to reduce significantly the revenue the provincial government receives from tax revenue; the deficit isn't going to climb and they're going to create new jobs by laying people off. This is what they're saying they're going to do.

In fact what they're doing is they're decimating the revenue base of the government, and the economy is going to stagger from one cut to another. Poverty is increasing, the government is creating poverty in the province, and revenue will decline further. That's why we don't have confidence in the government's approach.

Usually Tories would argue that the only way to cut the deficit is to cut government expenditures. I could understand a Conservative government making the argument that we have to cut expenditures, and the Treasurer has made that argument. But inevitably, by cutting expenditures, cutting programs, downsizing government, that means laying people off, and I understand tomorrow there's going to be the announcements of the layoffs in the public sector, in the public service. When those people are laid off and they go on unemployment insurance, they're not going to be paying taxes. The revenue base is going to go down. They won't be spending money the way they would be or perhaps would be if they were in employment, so jobs will be lost in the private sector.


This government has refused to listen. It's not just that they haven't listened to the opposition. I don't expect they're going to take this motion seriously and pass it today, but I hope they will. But it's not just us they haven't listened to. They haven't listened to the people who appeared before the committee, even their own witness.

Mr Stockwell: Who?

Mr Wildman: The witness from Canada Trust, who the people who are members of the government on the committee requested come before the committee. The representative from Canada Trust said, "I think that this" -- meaning the government's approach -- "does run the risk of tipping the province into a period of sustained sluggish growth." Sluggish.

In my view, there were also many, many other witnesses before the committee who recommended against the tax cut -- many, many -- and this government refused to listen to any of them. They were not all proposed by our party or the Liberal Party; in fact a lot of them came forward because they are known to have significant expertise in economic development and consumer spending, government spending issues, so they came and made their presentations.

The government didn't listen to any of them. It's typical. The government hasn't listened to the people out there on the street who are out of work, the people who have been wiped off the welfare rolls and disappeared. We don't know where they went. The government isn't trying to figure out what happened to them.

Mr Ted Arnott (Wellington): They got jobs.

Mr Wildman: Well, we hope they got jobs. All of us hope they got jobs. Some of them may have got jobs, but how many of us have walked down the street in Toronto --

Mr Stockwell: Just to spite us they turned the cheque down.

The Acting Speaker: Order. The member for Etobicoke West, I would ask you to refrain from heckling, please.

Mr Wildman: I don't find him provoking at all, particularly when he's not in his seat. When he's in his seat, he bothers me.

Seriously, how many of us over the years have either lived in Toronto or have visited Toronto on a regular basis and we see the numbers of people who are sitting there on the street on cold nights in sleeping bags. I can remember when I first used to come down here, back in 1975, when that was really an unusual thing. You saw it once in a while, but it was really unusual. Now it's not only not unusual; if you were to walk down Yonge Street on any evening during the week, it would be surprising if you didn't see somebody in that state.

All I'm saying is that poverty is increasing in this province, and cutting programs and cutting people off welfare doesn't necessarily mean, as one of your members said, they got jobs. Some of those people, perhaps a large percentage of those people, are ending up out there on the street with no means of support, and that's not the kind of Ontario that we want or I think that anybody wants. Frankly, it's not the kind of Ontario I would hope that most members of the government would want.

I would predict that a very large number of those people will not have jobs at the end of this government's mandate, because this government's program inevitably means fewer jobs, not more jobs. In three years as many as 125,000 jobs will be lost from the government's actions. That's how many jobs will be lost, much less dealing with the fact that they are not doing anything really to create new jobs despite their promise of 725,000 new jobs.

In the meantime, the government is decimating the social safety net in this province. We are facing a situation where we have a government that is motivated by ideology, that does not want to be confused with facts, that is serving the self-interest of a very small, wealthy minority in the province, that is more concerned about whether or not they are properly communicating their program than about doing things in a way that will benefit the economy of the province, will provide stimulus at a time of very slow growth and will provide the jobs that we all need and we all desire.

We run the risk in this province of having a generation of young people the vast majority of whom will never have found a permanent job. They will have done all of the things they're supposed to have done: They'll have completed school, they'll have gotten the job training they have been told they require, they'll have gone to college or university, they'll graduate, and the best they can hope for, it appears, is short-term contracts with no commitment to be able to develop a long-term career plan.

We have many people who are sitting here saying, "That's not the case." Well, if you go back to your communities, how many young people between the ages of 18 and 30 will you find who do not have permanent jobs, who are actively looking for work and have been looking for work for years, who may have gotten short-term contracts but have not gotten any long-term employment? That doesn't just have ramifications for them -- it does, obviously -- it has ramifications, we believe, for our whole society. It is not healthy for society.

This government continues with its mantra about raising taxes, raising debt. The irony of this is that nobody is suggesting they should raise taxes. Everyone agrees we should be working on the deficit. But it is the government that is determined to decrease taxes at a time when they will need that revenue if they are really committed to lowering the deficit. They're going to end up having to increase the debt of the province to provide a tax break to the 10% wealthiest people in the province.

Mr Terence H. Young (Halton Centre): It goes to everybody.

Mr Wildman: The break goes to everyone, but 66% of the tax reduction goes to the top 10% of income earners in the province, and they're not going to benefit.

Mr John R. Baird (Nepean): They'll all get it.

Mr Wildman: Yes, a few hundred dollars.

Mr Young: That's a lot to them.

Mr Wildman: A lot to them? Well, it may be. They may in fact go on a holiday for a long weekend somewhere or they may pay down some of their debt with this few hundred dollars, but it's not going to do anything to stimulate the economy and put those people who are out on the street back to work. It isn't going to do a thing.

I hope this government will rethink its position, at least rethink the commitment to this 30% tax break for the wealthy, since it is not going to benefit the economy in general, it isn't going to stimulate the jobs, it isn't going to produce the jobs the government has promised, and it's going to make it far more difficult for the government to deal with the deficit.

I urge the people in this House to support our motion. We have no confidence in this government's approach. We don't have confidence that this government is prepared to listen to what people are saying in Ontario, we don't have any confidence that they will act responsibly, and we are very concerned that the economy will be hurt by the approach of the government and that the social fabric will be destroyed by the government's actions. For those reasons, I urge all members of the House to support this motion of want of confidence in this government's economic approach.


Ms Isabel Bassett (St Andrew-St Patrick): I am speaking today against the resolution by the member for Algoma. This NDP resolution attempts a vote of non-confidence in a government that won the confidence of the people in Ontario just nine months ago. This NDP resolution opposes a tax cut that the voters of Ontario voted for overwhelmingly just last June. In fact, this resolution put forward by the member for Algoma is the antithesis of the will and the testament of the people of Ontario.

While it is the legislative job of the opposition to oppose, it is the job of a democratically elected government to govern within the framework of its mandate. Where it is the legislative duty of the opposition to examine and improve legislation, it should carry out that honourable task without undermining the legitimacy of the last election and without resorting to total distortions of fact, as this resolution does.

First, the economic outlook and the employment picture for Ontario is not gloomy, as the NDP resolution suggests. After five years of NDP misrule, during which Ontario's economy went into a tailspin, the overall economic prospects today are good. Ontario gained 123,000 new manufacturing jobs in 1995, 65,000 jobs in the last six months alone. This tells me that we are on the right track.

The economic prospect for the year ahead is optimistic for Ontario, mostly because of our government's economic plans. In this regard, this NDP resolution distorts what economic experts and business leaders told the standing committee on finance and economic affairs, and what they are telling the Minister of Finance and myself in ongoing pre-budget consultations.

As Catherine Swift, the president of the Canadian Federation of Independent Business says, "We believe that cutting taxes and balancing the budget will improve Ontario's competitive position, which will enhance our attractiveness as a place to invest and do business and provide a direct boost to job creation." The Royal Bank, Canada Trust and many others concurred with that statement.

Some groups, such as Canada Trust, already see positive signs and results of this government's actions because "international markets" -- and I'm quoting Patti Croft -- "are already treating Ontario's debt as if it had been upgraded."

Since we are on the subject of public hearings, the NDP resolution also completely distorts reality in its assumption that this government is not consulting with the public about the budget. As parliamentary assistant to the Minister of Finance, I have heard 78 submissions to the standing committee on finance and economic affairs, from a broad range of individuals and organizations and unions.

Besides this, as I already mentioned, the minister has heard, and continues to hear, pre-budget submissions from additional groups every week. Because of his desire to hear from as many people as possible who have suggestions about cost-saving measures and innovative moves, I am working with other members of our caucus to coordinate pre-budget consultations in ridings right across the province. Each of my colleagues is conducting extensive consultations on the budget in his or her own ridings. The recommendations they collect will be presented to the minister at a meeting later this month.

In my own riding of St Andrew-St Patrick, for example, I have been holding round table pre-budget discussions with local groups on education, culture, small business, health, seniors, child care and people in the hospitality industry. I have already met with representatives from more than 100 groups and organizations to date. Gary Stewart, the member for Peterborough, has been holding similar meetings; so have many other of my colleagues. I say to my colleague across the floor, I have no idea who fed you that information that we weren't consulting with the people of Ontario, because we are.

This NDP resolution is equally wrong in presuming that the promised cuts in personal income taxes may cost the provincial treasury $27.8 billion by the end of the year 2000. Experience in other jurisdictions proves that when taxes are cut, government revenues increase. It's worth noting that the share of taxes paid by higher-income earners also increases because of the added incentive of lower taxes, which encourages these people to produce more income for us to tax. This has been well documented in several studies.

The NDP resolution is, again, wrong to presume that a tax cut would need more expenditure cuts, and it is resorting to fearmongering in suggesting that it might "affect children, senior citizens, and other vulnerable Ontarians." Honesty demands that we all realize that what has hurt vulnerable Ontarians the most are the high deficit and high debt, which have hobbled government right across Canada, and in Ontario are costing us 19 cents out of every dollar in interest payments alone. If we don't act now to curb our spending and to cut back, we will continue to see more money go that could be going to the needy. This government's plan of reducing government spending and government deficit on the one hand and of giving a tax break to citizens on the other holds the best promise of economic recovery and job creation for Ontario.

The Canadian Federation of Independent Business just finished a province-wide survey of small businesses, asking them about the government's proposed cut in provincial income taxes. It received 2,800 responses and 80% of them said that they see nothing but positive effects from this policy -- 80% of small businesses. How can a measure that is liked by 80% of people be so opposed by a party that purports to speak for working men and women? More than 27% of businesses said that they would likely hire more people once they get the proposed tax cut.

Applying these survey results to the business sector as a whole would suggest that, conservatively, 80,000 businesses would likely increase employment. That's 80,000 companies creating more jobs. The federation said: "Business in the retail and hospitality sectors, which would experience the most direct benefits from increased consumer spending, would be among the most likely to increase their employment levels. In addition, relatively strong employment impacts would flow through to the manufacturing, construction and wholesale sectors." Such is the air of expectancy right across the land about this government's proposed tax cut, a measure that the NDP is opposing.

Whereas the people of Ontario have hit a tax wall and are waiting for some relief and businesses are waiting for a return of consumer confidence, the NDP is saying through this resolution that the current rate of high taxation is fine. This is surprising. Considering governments everywhere in the United States and all across Canada, including the federal Liberal government and two NDP governments, in Saskatchewan and British Columbia, now readily acknowledge the need to control the deficit, the need to cut back government and to provide some tax relief, the NDP in Ontario seems stuck in the past. The NDP in Ontario likes big government and it likes high taxes. When the next election comes around, the voters of Ontario will no doubt remember that the NDP fought for keeping the taxes and fought against lowering the provincial income taxes for people across this province.

I find this highly ironic, because almost every day in the Legislature the NDP is stretching its credibility, trying to make the point that this government is breaking this or that promise. Yet here we are with the NDP urging the government to break its most popular pledge: to give Ontarians a tax break that they need and want and that Ontario needs to get the economy going again.

To summarize: Small business wants tax cuts; the NDP does not want tax cuts. The people of Ontario voted for tax cuts; the NDP does not want what the people of Ontario want. Worse, the NDP wants this government to break its promise to the people. But this government has a duty to fulfil its mandate and it has every intention of doing so. So I do not support this motion.


Mr James J. Bradley (St Catharines): I'm rising to speak in support of this motion because I think it embodies a lot of what many people in Ontario, upon reflection, are thinking about this government at this point in time. The very fact that this government would be embarking upon what I can only refer to as a reckless tax cut -- and I get that terminology from one of the respected members of the Legislature. The member for Wellington, Ted Arnott, as he would be known to his friends in Wellington, wrote a letter to the Premier and indicated that this was a reckless tax cut. Here's a person who has been in this Legislature. His predecessor was a very commonsense individual by the name of Jack Johnson.

Mr Wildman: A good guy.

Mr Bradley: A very good individual. These are people who have been attuned to what's going on out there. When he refers to it as reckless, I can only agree with him. I know other members of the caucus -- the member for Etobicoke West, Chris Stockwell; the member for Etobicoke-Lakeshore, Morley Kells, a former cabinet minister; and the member for Grey-Owen Sound, who in his own riding is known as Bill Murdoch -- were also opposed to it. These are people who are attuned to what people are saying in their constituencies.

While they are small-c conservatives, each one of them, they recognize that this is not even good conservative economics. They've obviously talked to the same kinds of economists I have, who are small-c conservative. I'm not talking about Neil Brooks, who's a left-winger from York University. I'm not talking about any of that crowd. I'm talking about conservative economists who will tell you this just doesn't make sense.

What we are doing is having drastic cuts -- deep, drastic, rapid cuts -- in so many areas of endeavour on the part of the government that the government has not examined the ramifications of these cuts. If you asked virtually anybody in the province, "Do you think that governments have to become more efficient? Do you think that governments have to trim their expenditures?" the NDP would agree with that, the Liberals would agree, I'm sure all Conservatives would and most people would. The real question is how quickly you're going, how drastically you're going and what you have selected for your cuts, and also the fact that the cuts are going to cost the people of this province, in terms of additional borrowing, over $20 billion.

When you say to some people who like government cuts and don't care how fast they're coming or how drastic those cuts are, when you say to those people the government's going to do that, it's going to do this cutting and it's going to give a tax cut, they're accepting of that. When you explain to them that the government's going to have to borrow more than an additional $20 billion when it's said the problem is the deficit -- and it is found right in the Common Sense Revolution. People say, "Where do you get this?" Right in the Common Sense Revolution. This is the document put out by the Conservatives. It says that the government will have to, as a result, borrow more than an additional $20 billion when I was told and I believe that the deficit is a challenge for us to meet.

Why then would the government want to get into unnecessarily borrowing more money? Some on the opposite side would say it will stimulate the economy. Again, talk to the economists, talk to the people who are quite small-c conservative on these matters. They will tell you that if you apply the balanced budget multiplier or if you apply thoughts and policies related to that, you will see it doesn't work.

Let me say as plainly as I can that the combination of deep cuts in government expenditures and a deep tax cut at the same time produces very little, if any, stimulus to the economy and will cost you over $20 billion in additional borrowing. Even Lorrie Goldstein -- I don't think Lorrie Goldstein of the Toronto Sun could be described as a raving liberal or a wild socialist; he is a small-c conservative thinker -- has produced a column in which he questions the wisdom of the tax cut at this time when we're having such drastic cuts in so many areas of endeavour in the province, and I happen to agree with him on that particular issue.

We also do this in the context of a situation in Ontario where we have some corporations that are making unprecedented profits while at the same time they're turfing people out on to the streets, into the unemployment lines.

Now with the government, the government says it's not making money so it has to reduce its expenditures. These corporations that are making this kind of money, particularly the banks, are at the same time significantly reducing their staff and putting people out of jobs. At Davos in Switzerland where the great minds of economics and finance gathered together, including our Premier of this province, they talked about this very problem, and people from all over the industrialized and modern world, in terms of economics, recognize this is a problem that must be addressed, and I hope the government will be doing that, as all of us will.

We've already had the cuts. Some people say, "Well, there haven't been cuts." The NDP in power, outside of their first year, spent the rest of the time cutting the expenditures of this province. Do you know, for instance, that the complement of civil servants, the number of civil servants of this province, at this time, is almost precisely the same as it was in the last year of the Davis Progressive Conservative government? It did rise; it did go down. The NDP went through a process of some very painful cuts, I'm sure painful to my friends in the NDP who did not want to raise tuition by 42% when they were in fact opposed to tuition at all. But those were the realities of the time when we saw the various ministries having to reduce the services they provided.

What we're seeing now are unprecedented kinds of cuts, cuts for instance that are now resulting in many front-line educators losing their jobs, particularly as was noted today, the younger teachers in the profession, who do not have a chance to be part of the system because of the drastic cuts that are taking place, despite the fact the government promised there would be no cuts to classroom education.

Developmentally disabled individuals in this province are going to receive less in the way of resources from the government. I know for instance that the sheltered workshop in St Catharines on Bunting Road is being phased out and that those people are being sent elsewhere, an opportunity for people to play a meaningful role in our society.

We're seeing this time after time where these cuts are hurting vulnerable people in our province. We're seeing public transportation services being lost for those who can't afford vehicles, who rely on public transportation. We're seeing junior kindergarten being eliminated in place after place in Ontario, when we recognize that the benefits of junior kindergarten are just beginning to be known by experts in the field, and we recognize how important junior kindergarten is to those young people and their families.

The special education services: The people who work with those who used to be kept outside the regular classroom, in separate classrooms, who are now allowed into the regular classroom, but need those to be with them to assist them, that service is being cut.

We hear of a speculated 20% increase in tuition for students in post-secondary education at the very time when it is very difficult for those people to obtain jobs. We see staff and resources being reduced at the Ministry of Environment and Energy, when we see the vulnerability of our water supplies in various parts of the province and many of the other programs being cut back because of reduced staff, reduced enforcement and reduced resources available.

We see on a very visual basis and can feel the deterioration of our infrastructure, particularly the roads in this province which are now a disgrace. As people enter the province of Ontario from New York state or from the province of Quebec, from Manitoba and from other places, the first greeting they get now is a pothole inside a pothole, and this has become extremely serious.

We see now that the province is cutting the progressive tax, that is the income tax, by 30%, benefiting the most wealthy in our society, in order to transfer that obligation to the local tax which is the most regressive tax, the property tax, or individual user fees which do not take into account a person's ability to pay.

We see deep cuts in hospital services, fewer nurses on the floors, fewer kinds of services available within the hospitals in these circumstances. We see crown attorneys now going to be cut back so there will be a backlog in the courts. We may find a situation where people are going to have their cases dismissed simply because they've not come to trial quickly enough.


We have seen the potential firing of up to 27,000 provincial civil servants, and thousands more at the local agencies, boards, commissions and municipalities.

We see deregulation coming forward. You saw what happened with deregulation in the meat industry in Great Britain. That's just one example, when you start deregulating, of what happens. It isn't that these regulations are there particularly to be onerous; they're there because there was a need for those that was recognized by people in this province.

In Toronto and Ottawa now, as the member for Etobicoke West said today, we see that the property taxes are being robbed from people in Metropolitan Toronto and metropolitan Ottawa in order to take those property taxes and move those around the province, which of course is unfair to those municipalities.

And so we see the kinds of cuts that are hurtful to this province. We see that what doesn't make sense is a tax cut, and that's why I believe this particular motion should be supported. What we need now is common sense in this province. That means a postponement of a tax cut until such time as we can actually afford it in this province, because it isn't going to be as stimulative as the government hopes. We need to restore some of the funding -- not all of it, but some of the funding -- which is essential for the life of people in our province.

I do not look forward to this being New Jersey North. I admire some things about the United States, but there are many things I do not admire, and I do not want to see our province transformed into Tennessee, Mississippi or Arkansas North. I hope the government will reconsider its position as a result of the requests that are made and the excellent arguments that are made by those who are in opposition to government policy.

Ms Frances Lankin (Beaches-Woodbine): Mr Speaker, it will come as no surprise to you that I will be supporting this non-confidence motion. I want to say to the members opposite that this is one of the most troubling aspects of the government's agenda, the almost sort of blind faith that the members opposite put in their cabinet's assertions that this tax cut will somehow stimulate the economy, that it won't cause any further economic harm to our economy, that jobs will be created, that it won't cause any further cuts. The back and forth that we hear and that we see and the extraordinary statements that the Premier has made recently with respect to this are without any credence, and yet the members opposite blindly accept these comments and smile and nod and say, "You know, yes, all's well in great old Ontario."

Well, all is not well, and I must say to you that it disturbs me greatly to see the man who heads the government of our province stand in his place and make statements like: "There will be no cost as a result of the 30% tax cut. It will not cost us any revenue because it's going to create so many jobs, and people will be back to work and paying taxes, and we'll have more revenue come in. In fact, we'll get more revenue than we lost." The Premier of the province made that statement, that there was no cost to this in tax revenue. Do you support that? Do you agree with that statement?

I suggest to you that when you went out and campaigned in 1995 and all carried around your Common Sense Revolution, you didn't agree with that statement, because the Common Sense Revolution very clearly shows revenue loss due to the tax cut and very clearly shows additional expenditure cuts that your government would have to make and now are in the process of announcing on a daily basis that are affecting people in communities right across this province. The Common Sense Revolution set it out.

If you give a 30% tax break, that means you lose revenue coming in to the government, over the course of the term of office of your government, to the tune of about $27 billion.

"At the same time, in the Common Sense Revolution, you said: Well, we're going to have to cut more than we would cut just to balance the budget, just to deal with the deficit, in order to pay for that tax cut. Because it will take a couple of years for those cuts to come into effect and for us to get the result of that, that money in hand, we're going to have to borrow in the meantime. So it's going to take us longer to deal with the deficit. We're going to add to the cumulative debt. We're going to cut deeper and harder and harsher in communities, in people's lives, than we would need to otherwise because we're committed to proceeding with the 30% tax cut."

I have to wonder why. When you ask the government, when you try to penetrate the veil over there to get a clear answer, the only thing we get back is, "Well, this is how we're going to create 725,000 jobs." Please explain to me how. There isn't an economist, an expert, an individual with common sense in this province who believes that your tax cut is going to be a job creation program, and particularly not one of that magnitude.

What I wish the members would sit down and think about and discuss in their caucus and come to understand is that the nature of the cuts that you are currently making to public expenditures in this province to the tune of $8 billion, the nature of those cuts, that amount of money, $8 billion, that you are taking out of the economy, is putting us on the verge of sliding back into a recession.

For 10 years we've heard the wise wisdom of the neo-conservative economists and others who have said to us: "Look, it's an easy prescription. Just deal with your deficit. Keep your monetary policy the way it is. Interest rates will come down, and investment will flow in." I remember Mike Harris before the election, "Elect the Tories, and investment will flood in." Well, where is it? "Elect the Tories, and all will be well. Consumer confidence will return." Well, it hasn't. But do you ask yourselves why? Sometimes I think you just don't get it.

People who are sitting at home at this time worried about whether or not they're going to have a job tomorrow are not going to go out and purchase a new washing machine or a new car or even more minor expenditures. They're not going to spend money. People who have already lost their jobs can't afford to spend money.

I don't know how you expect that consumer confidence is going to come back when all of the steps that you are taking are taking confidence out of our economy. The men and women who walked the OPSEU picket line for five weeks trying to fight for their jobs to keep a secure future for the delivery of services in this province, they're not out spending money, rebounding consumer confidence. The young teachers who are just coming into the system who have just got their first job and who know that thousands more layoff notices are going to come over the next few months, they're not out spending money.

The money that you're taking out of the economy -- and don't forget that the public sector and public spending is part of the economy; it doesn't just affect those individuals you will be laying off or those individuals who are not receiving the same level of income support, like social assistance recipients; it affects the whole economy that they live and breathe and spend in. It affects the people who run the corner stores, the retail outlets, the car sales, housing sales, all of those areas. There is an effect. This is part of the economy.

The tax break that you propose which is going to not just offset that but is going to create the stimulus in this economy that will create your 725,000 jobs, over two thirds of the value of the lost revenue of that is going to families with the top 10% of incomes in this province. How do you expect that this money is going to come back in and recirculate in the economy? Where do you think the stimulus is going to come from? These people are not going to immediately go out and buy cars and washing machines. These are people who already have disposable income. These are people who will put it in investments, who will reduce indebtedness, who will take holidays. It's not going to stimulate the economy.

So you leave us in a very precarious situation. You cut, you affect the very lives of families, the fabric of neighbourhoods and communities. At the same time, you endanger our economy as a result of those cuts and all that it means in the spinoff in the economy, pushing us over the precipice back into a recession, all to pay for a tax break that will affect the wealthiest, that will not stimulate the economy, and at the same time you do nothing to deal with the deficit. I don't see how this is common sense. I don't see how you can continue to argue that this is the economic prescription for an ailing economy.

I urge you to think this through. While I don't expect that you will vote with us today on this non-confidence motion, I urge you to think this through. I urge you to talk some sense into your cabinet, to raise this issue at caucus, because we will all have to live with the end outcome, yourselves included. What you do to this province, you do to the kids of this province. Those are the people you say you want to make the changes for. The changes you're making are bad, the changes you're making are negative and they will hurt. I ask you to please reconsider, think this through. The tax break is not a commonsense solution at this point in time.


Mr Wayne Wettlaufer (Kitchener): The motion put forward by the member for Algoma in a very real way, I believe, points out both the philosophical and the practical economic differences between the government and the third party.

In fact, at the root of this motion you will find that the economic direction the member for Algoma wants this government to take is the same route that the previous government did. He wants us to follow the NDP's policies of failure. The member for Algoma is opposed to this government balancing the budget and implementing a 30% reduction in income taxes for the hard-working men and women taxpayers of the province.

If my memory serves me correctly, and I believe it does, a non-confidence vote on the NDP economic policies was held only 10 months ago. Yes, it's becoming clearer to me now. There was a non-confidence motion held by the people of the province. It was a non-confidence vote on the NDP economic policies. As painful as it may be for the member for Algoma to remember, let me remind him that the vote was held in the form of a provincial general election on June 8, 1995.

It was on June 8, 1995, that the vast majority of the people of this province emphatically stated that they did not have confidence in the economic policies of the NDP government. The people of this province threw the NDP out of power and relegated it to the status of a small-numbered third party. That is the most emphatic vote of non-confidence that the NDP could possibly experience.

On that same June 8, 1995, the people of Ontario in the majority of the ridings throughout the province gave a mandate to the members of the Progressive Conservative Party of Ontario. The members of this caucus were given the mandate to form the government, to balance the budget and to reduce personal income taxes by 30%. The fact that it is the member for Algoma who is putting this motion forward is, in my mind, symbolic in that, as a cabinet minister of the former NDP government, the economic policies of which pushed this province to near financial disaster, he provides an excellent gauge to determine the degree of accurateness and effectiveness of our government's economic policies. Given the former minister's track record of supporting multibillion-dollar economic failures, I can state with conviction that the more the member for Algoma disagrees with our policies, the more correct we know they will prove to be.

In his motion, the member for Algoma would have this House believe that this government has refused to listen to expert economic witnesses who appeared before the standing committee on finance and economic affairs. Yet the member for Algoma, as a cabinet minister in the former NDP government, had a track record of totally disregarding the expert views of virtually tens of thousands of employers throughout the province. When organizations such as the Canadian Federation of Independent Business, the Ontario Chamber of Commerce, the Canadian Manufacturers' Association and various boards of trade, organizations which represent over 100,000 businesses in the province, the major employers of the province, expressed their views on the impact on their businesses of various NDP government economic policies, these organizations were totally ignored.

The economically incompetent former government believed that it knew more about how to stimulate the business environment and create jobs than did the very people who actually were creating the jobs in the province. It astounds me that the member for Algoma and the NDP had the audacity to believe that they knew more about how to stimulate the economy of this province than the very people who actually run the businesses which drive the economy of Ontario. How ironic.

In the member's motion he states that he believes the fiscal plan of the government will not work to create jobs. As a barometer of economic disaster, his strong disapproval of our policies must be viewed as an emphatic endorsement that our policies not only will work but are working.

In February, Ontario led all provinces in job creation. The creation of 31,000 new jobs in February, the single largest job gain in any February in over a decade and the single largest gain in job creation in 16 months is an excellent vote of confidence in this government's plan to get Ontario back to work. In February we also saw an amazing 71% year-over-year jump in Toronto home sales. As well, the real GDP in Ontario rose 4.7% in the third calendar quarter with increased consumer spending. These factors indicate that this province is finally heading in the right direction.

I would like to point out that I was a member of the finance committee which had the opportunity to hear from many delegations, and contrary to what the member for Algoma would have this House believe, many delegations did in fact support the overall economic strategies of this government, including the 30% tax reduction.

John McCallum, chief economist of the Royal Bank, stated in a direct question about the tax cut from the member for Beaches-Woodbine: "We have to meet the deficit target -- you and I agree on that -- but I think if we have spending cuts that allow a tax cut while at the same time meeting the deficit targets, from an economic activity point of view let's have the tax cuts. We sure need extra economic activity, and those tax cuts would put more money into people's hands and that would help the economy."

Judith Andrew of the Canadian Federation of Independent Business, which represents over 60,000 small businesses in the province, stated in her presentation, "It stands to reason that leaving more of Ontarians' hard-earned pay in their own hands will permit increased spending on goods and services and all sorts of positive multiplier effects, one of which is jobs."

In a response to a question about our government's approach to tax reduction, Bob Malcolmson from the Brampton Board of Trade, which also agrees with our government's overall economic policies, stated, "As long as people, at the end of the day, have more money in their pocket to spend, it will work fine."

But perhaps the clearest articulated support for the necessity for the tax reductions was from Patti Croft, the managing director and chief economist for Canada Trust. Ms Croft stated, "Some have argued Ontario should reduce the depth of the spending cuts and forget about the tax cut in order to facilitate this deficit reduction process, but I must say, to me, that's like treating a terminal tumour with a Band-Aid instead of the fact that a scalpel is really required."

In addition to these delegations, many other delegations strongly support the economic direction of this government. The Ontario Home Builders' Association, representing 3,500 companies in 35 localities across the province, stated that it was concerned about the deficit and strongly supported this government's fiscal management strategy and urged the government to fully implement that strategy as quickly as it can.

The Canadian Manufacturers' Association, representing over 75% of the total manufacturing output of the province, which translates into $140 billion, supports the strategy of this government.

The Retail Council of Canada, which has close to 3,000 members, stated, "We would like to say that our members are delighted at the government's steps to correct the province's fiscal situation."

The Ontario Trucking Association, whose members employ approximately 200,000 people, 5% of the province's labour force, stated its members' support for the economic direction of this government, as did the Ontario Hotel and Motel Association, as did the Ontario Taxpayers Federation, as did many others.

There were many delegations who spoke in favour of this government's economic direction and the need for the 30% tax cuts to stimulate the economy and to move forward to creating the 725,000 jobs which is this government's job creation target.

In closing, I just want to state that the member for Algoma and the entire third party are incorrect in their economic analysis, again. The member for Algoma states that this government has refused to pay attention to the reality of Ontario's economic situation. How pathetic that sounds to me coming from a former cabinet minister who left this province a legacy of $10-billion-a-year deficits. How pathetic it sounds to constantly have to listen to this member talk about how concerned the NDP is about the safety of the various social programs when it is members of the former government which ran up the provincial debt by over $50 billion in five years, a debt which if left unchecked would have killed the very social programs about which the NDP expresses concerns. How pathetic it sounds to hear the members of the former NDP cabinet talk about their concern for health care and education when the interest on the debt is more than this government can spend on its hospitals, when the interest is more than this government can budget for primary and secondary education and is more than this government can spend on many other programs.


The harsh economic realities this government faces are the direct result of incompetent handling of the provincial finances by the incompetence of the former NDP government. How pitiful to listen to the member for Algoma on the subject of Ontario's economic situation when it is his government which singlehandedly did more to destroy the economic foundation of this province than any government in its history.

I have a great deal of respect for people who are strong enough to admit their mistakes and take the necessary steps to do whatever is necessary to correct the impact of their errors. However, this is certainly not the case with the NDP, which has elevated emphatic posturing to a new art form.

I agree with the many delegations that came before the standing committee on finance and economic affairs in our pre-budget consultations who stated their confidence in our economic strategy, and I strongly support our 30% tax reduction program. I also agree with the vast majority of voters who showed their non-confidence in the inept economic policies of the NDP and I will therefore be voting against the member's motion.

Mr David Ramsay (Timiskaming): I'd like to return the debate to what I would call maybe a commonsense sort of argument, if I could use that phrase, and get away from the political rhetoric and the ranting and the raving and the imputing of motives we've just heard. I ran a farm business before I was elected, I ran a municipality as its chief administrator and I also was the treasurer and the chair of a hospital board in New Liskeard, so I understand about money and I understand about finances. If you really think about what this government's doing and if you're thinking about running a government as a business, this tax cut just doesn't make good business sense.

My understanding of how business works is that as a shareholder I should look forward to receiving a dividend once our company makes a profit. But in the case of government, we all know we're not anywhere near that point. We're nowhere near balancing our books. I think that all of us here would like to see government start to balance the books and that we will all support that sort of activity, but while we're doing that, to start to borrow money, and of course to borrow money from Canadian pension funds and offshore funds and banks to fund this tax cut, just doesn't make sense. It really doesn't make common sense, and I just don't know why this government is hell-bent on this, quite frankly.

If you look at it as a political experiment, let's look at recent history and see where this has been attempted and how successful it was. The most common example we would use is what we used to call Reaganomics when Ronald Reagan was President of the United States for two terms in the 1980s. He was convinced by right-wing economists at the time that this brand-new trickle-down theory, in trying to stimulate the economy through a tax cut, would be the way to bring your debt under control and also to start to pay down your debt. We all know that through the two terms of the eight years he served as President of the United States, Mr Reagan ended up doubling its debt.

This whole notion theoretically, and realistically as we've seen when Reagan tried it, of trying to stimulate the economy by giving a tax cut in any progressive tax regime that benefits the well-off rather than the poor, but somehow it trickles down to the low wage earners, just doesn't work. I don't know why now, in the middle and beyond the middle of this decade, we are embarking upon a course of action that Ronald Reagan took in the early 1980s, in the last decade. It just doesn't make any sense, and I have to wonder why the government is embarking on this.

It's rare that politicians want to talk about not cutting taxes. But I think if you're responsible nowadays you have to realize that with a $100-billion accumulated debt in this province, with deficits in foreseeable budgets in the next few years, and I'm sure in the budget that's going to be announced in the next three weeks we're going to see a multibillion-dollar deficit that's going to add more to our accumulated debt, it would be irresponsible for anybody to proselytize that we should be having a tax cut. So while it may be unpopular, I think it is realistic to say, let's at least minimally freeze taxes. We have hit the tax wall, there's no doubt about it, but I think we have a responsibility.

There's no point in pointing blame. I know the governing party likes to point to the previous government and to our government, when we were there between 1985 and 1990, as part of the problem. We were all part of the problem. In fact the Bill Davis and John Robarts governments accumulated great deficits in this province also. So it's all our problem and we all are accountable for it and responsible for it. So Mea Culpa, we'll say yes, we were part of it too, but why don't we work together and find the best way to solve this problem?

I don't think the way to solve this problem is to make the severe cuts that we're hearing announced on a daily basis, starting in November when our hospitals got severely trashed, the Ontario drug benefit got severely cut, elementary and secondary schools got severely cut -- and we're seeing the ramifications of that today -- colleges and universities severely cut, municipalities, government administration. Everything the government's been doing has been slashed.

We've had a severe impact on our government services in Ontario this last little while. In fact, if somebody was away for the last 10 years and moved back to Ontario today, I think it would be very hard to recognize that this is the same Ontario we used to live in. We're no longer the compassionate Ontario of a Bill Davis government or a John Robarts government, which while it was Conservative was still very middle of the road. They understood that while business had to flourish -- that was the prime job creator for our province and our economy -- we still had to have a compassionate heart and make sure that we took care of those people less fortunate than ourselves. We've lost this compassionate heart in Ontario. That seems to be banished in Ontario government right now.

I'm glad to see that the Minister of Community and Social Services is here. I hope he's listening to some of the concerns that our members are bringing up in question period and some of the things I'm bringing up here today. While we all understand that the private sector is the engine of the economy here and that's where the job creation has to be and we no longer can look, especially in some of the regions where I come from, at government as the prime job creator -- it's got to come from the private sector -- we still have to do things with some reason, with some rationale. I'm afraid that many of the cuts that are occurring here today in Ontario and are about to occur in the next few weeks in the 1996 Ontario budget are being done without any thinking and they're not being well-thought-out.

The potential ramifications are absolutely horrendous. Today we had an incident in question period where our leader, Lyn McLeod, brought up to the minister, who is here today, the incident that happened in Simcoe where two families have put up their children for adoption because they are receiving welfare and they cannot sustain those children on the 22% cut that hit them in the fall.

Mr Bruce Crozier (Essex South): That's not my Ontario.

Mr Ramsay: One of my colleagues behind me said that's not his Ontario. It's certainly not my Ontario. Growing up in Ontario as I did, under mostly Conservative governments, as a child, it's not the Ontario that was the Conservative Ontario of my childhood, of the 1950s, the 1960s and the 1970s. This is what I don't really understand. What's happened to this Conservative Party? It's not the same party that once ruled this province I would say almost as a small-l liberal regime. They understood the balance. At the same time as they maybe brought in price controls and wage controls, they brought in rent controls at the same time, to try to bring in some balance.

What's missing from this government is balance, a sense of balance. Not too many people in this House, I think, would dispute the goals of what this government is trying to attain. We do want to get government finances under control; there's no doubt about that. We do want to make sure we have a prosperous economy; we all want to accomplish that. But we've got to take our time and we've got to do this reasonably and we've got to do this compassionately.

I ask this government to reconsider that tax cut, and therefore, I'm supporting this resolution today.

Mr Tony Silipo (Dovercourt): I'm pleased to have a few minutes to add my views on this important resolution. Certainly, I will be voting in favour of it.

Not surprisingly, we've heard from the government side why they will not be supporting it. I have to say, as I said, not surprisingly, because while there is indeed a lot that can be said about what this government is doing, one thing that I think can be said very clearly is that there is very little common sense in what they're doing. What I see more and more is really just a reform-minded ideological agenda that's driving their actions, because if they had any inkling of common sense they would see that on the tax front alone they were the ones -- remember Mike Harris talking a lot about there's only one taxpayer in the province.

If there's only one taxpayer in the province, one could ask why it is that this government finds it acceptable to increase taxes for the softwood lumber industry and slap on an export tax that's going to kill jobs in northern Ontario, in the sawmills throughout northern Ontario, and going to make that product more expensive as we ship it to the United States. One would ask, if they believe so much in the concept of one taxpayer and indeed in lowering taxes, why it is that they would then cut funding to school boards and municipalities, resulting in increases in property taxes, in user fees being increased, and tuition fees as a result of cuts to colleges and universities, and in user fees that seniors and others will have to pay for their medicines?


They can argue all they want about the fact that they are reducing through the 30% tax cut, taxes across the board. Indeed they will be, if they go forward with that proposal. But the reality is that for the average taxpayer out there, the people whom I represent in the riding of Dovercourt and people throughout this province, the average taxpayer in this province will see overall an increase in their taxes when you balance it all out. So you have to ask: What's the point of it? The point of it has got nothing to do with common sense, it's got nothing to do with lowering the deficit. It has everything to do with shifting the power and the wealth into the hands of the richest citizens in this province.

It is a very clear ideological bent. One would wish that at least they would have the decency to admit that and say: "We believe in this ideologically so fervently we don't care about what the impact is. This is what we're going to do because we think that this will get money into the hands of our friends." That's what's going to happen. That's the sheer reality of it.

We've heard a lot, perhaps not enough, about jobs today in the discussions leading to not just this resolution but many other issues in this House. Even on that front we can parade all of the quotes we want, but the sheer reality is that there has not been one economist to date who has said, "Do the 30% tax cut and that will create the 725,000 jobs." The other part of the reality is that what this government is counting on is that 30% tax cut as being the primary, if not the only, avenue to creating those 725,000 jobs. The truth is, it won't happen.

It won't happen, not because I'm standing here saying it won't happen, but it won't happen because economist after economist have said that it's not going to happen. Indeed, the Minister of Finance himself when he came before the finance committee admitted that any positive impact that will come out of the 30% tax cut -- he doesn't expect it to be seen certainly for the first year after the tax cut and to a large extent not even in the second year after the tax cut.

One could ask, are all these jobs going to be created in the last year of the mandate of this government? I don't think so.

Again we have a ridiculous situation in which simply for an ideological reform-minded bent this government is going to proceed with this tax cut, but not because it makes any sense, common or otherwise, but simply because it's going to put more and more money and more and more power into the hands of the richest citizens in this province. It's as simple as that. Now, we can scream all we want or we can be as quiet as possible, but that's the sheer reality, because what the people of the province elected on June 8 and what we are seeing now are not exactly the same thing, because this is the same government that said they would protect spending for health care, they would protect spending for classroom education, they would protect spending for the justice system, and we have seen in each of those three areas those promises broken.

Isn't it interesting that the only promise Mike Harris seems bent on keeping is this 30% tax cut? Again, why? Well, look at who benefits from it. It's not the average person in my riding. It's not the average citizen across this province. It's the 10% of the richest citizens in this province.

That's why Mike Harris is doing this. That's the reality, and this will come back to roost on Mike Harris and the Conservative caucus.

Mr Ron Johnson (Brantford): I want to say it gives me a great deal of pleasure today to speak to the motion from the member for Algoma, the honourable leader of the third party. I have to say it really amazes me how the leader of the third party can sit over there, criticize this government for trying to remedy a problem that his party and the Liberal Party before him really created.

If increasing taxes were the secret to strengthening the economy, boosting consumer confidence and creating jobs, then we wouldn't be sitting here now in the kind of financial mess that we're in. The leader of the third party has absolutely no right to say that the House has lost confidence in this government. I would suggest to him that on June 8 the voters of this province made it very clear that they had actually lost confidence in the NDP. It was the NDP and the Liberals before them who raised taxes 65 times in the last 10 years, of which 11 of those were related to family income, to the point where in Ontario we now have one of the highest tax margins in all of North America.

I would like to point out to the new leader of the third party that Ontarians now, thanks to him and his cohorts, face a marginal tax rate of 53% on incomes over $63,000. In real, inflation-adjusted terms, the take-home pay for the average Ontario worker today is less than it was 10 years ago. People today are working more hours, they're seeing their families less and, at the end of the day, they have less to take home for it.

I want to say that the past two governments have spent and spent and have had to borrow to do it. I look at my own riding, for example, Brantford, and I see a Mohawk Lake redevelopment project of $6 million, a waterfront development project of $2 million, an economic development fund of $7 million, a brand-new shiny labour centre of $3 million, all of which borrowed money in the last year to fund. I think that's a shame and I think the people of Brantford got tired of that old style of politics. That's why they chose a new government on June 8 of last year.

It's no wonder that the people of Ontario have lost confidence in the economy or in their ability to get another job should they lose the one they currently have, when 20 cents of every dollar is going to service the debt load of the past two irresponsible governments. We're obviously dealing with a $10-billion deficit and a $100-billion debt.

Taxes have been taking away an increasing share of our incomes, leaving people with less to spend and invest in their futures and families. I believe, and the people on this side of the House believe, that people deserve better than that. They have asked for better, they have voted for a better deal and that's exactly what we intend to give them.

Government spending is the least beneficial and cost-effective way to stimulate the economy, and I don't think there's any argument over that. I think that even the people across the floor realize the best way to stimulate the economy is to create consumer confidence and to increase the disposable income of the average hardworking Ontarian.

I want to quote from the motion that's on the floor, which clearly says that "economic growth in Ontario is predicted to continue to be weak at 2.3%" and "the current unemployment rate for the province stands at 8.9% and the employment outlook given the low growth rate is expected to continue to weaken...." I ask the leader of the third party, does he not see the irony in these statements? You put more money back into the pockets of hardworking people of Ontario and they will spend it, pure and simple. That will create jobs and that will restore the consumer confidence and stimulate the economy of this province.

We have reached a point where it is no longer acceptable to the voters of Ontario to simply breathe a sigh of relief when their taxes don't go up. In fact, I believe, and our government believes, that it's time to give some of that back. Taxes distort economic behaviour by discouraging people from working harder, saving and investing.

I want to give you a few examples as well. In Britain, as an example, the highest marginal tax rate was reduced from 83% to 60% and then to 40%, with greater revenue afterwards. In New Zealand, in 1986, the marginal tax rate went from a high of 66% down to 48%, followed by a further decrease to 40.5% in 1988 and down to 33% in 1990. In Sweden, significant changes to the whole tax system saw reductions in income tax rates from 42% in 1989 to 35% in 1990.


There's no question that other jurisdictions around the globe and in this country, and in the US as well, are recognizing very clearly that high taxes kill jobs, that high taxes really put a damper on economic growth and that the way to really create jobs again, to get the economy back on track, is to create more disposable income for hardworking people and to give them as well the kind of consumer confidence they need to stimulate the economy.

I want to allude very briefly to a comment that was made by the leader of the third party. He indicated, and correctly so, that the reductions in expenditures we're implementing now are certainly having a negative impact on the economy, but I want to point him to page 21 of the Common Sense Revolution, which clearly states that there will be an economic drag as a result of the policies we implement. Of course, we've calculated that into our economic model. I read the Liberal red book. I read it from cover to cover. I never saw anything in there.


Mr Ron Johnson: They're clapping across the way and I certainly don't understand it because it made no sense. I never saw anything in there at all about economic drag. There was nothing in there. They were going to cut government spending, they were going to reduce thousands of public service employees, and yet not one mention in their model of the effects of that on the economy. We took that into consideration and it's a very real part of our growth figures. I want to suggest that the third party never even had a plan. I'm glad they didn't, because we saw what their first plan did to the province.

To look at a few of the economists -- I know that Mr Silipo just talked about a couple who said there was no real benefit to tax cuts -- I want to quote CMA chief economist Jayson Myers, who in the Toronto Star, on October 12 of last year, said: "This is where the real weakness in the economy is. Incomes are falling, the tax bite is increasing, consumer and household debt is now more than 100% of personal incomes." In addition to lower interest rates, the cut in personal income taxes promised by the Mike Harris government should also help. That's not us; we're not saying that; that's CMA chief economist Jayson Myers.

U of T economics professor Jack Carr said: "Businesses are going to go where taxes are lower over the long term. That is what the Harris government is trying to do. It will help." Again, that's not us saying that; that's Professor Jack Carr at the U of T.

Oddly enough, I have one here whom I know the member for Algoma will be interested in. This is Kevin Hayes, senior economist for the Canadian Labour Congress. I'm not sure whether or not the member across knows Mr Kevin Hayes, but in the Globe and Mail, October 18, he said declining purchasing power is undermining the ability of consumers to help spend the economy out of its lethargy. "There's this theory floating around that you can somehow have an economic recovery without improving the incomes of workers. But it's impossible." That's Kevin Hayes, senior economist for the Canadian Labour Congress.

The time has clearly come to say that enough is enough and start rewarding people for their hard work. Let me ask the leader of the third party what the point is in somebody working very hard, working 40, 50, 60 hours a week, only to have a government take away a larger portion of those earnings than it did 10 years ago. Where is the justice in that? Where is the incentive to work hard and invest in Ontario's economy when the harder a person works, the more the government takes away?

I want to allude just briefly to an article that appeared in the Brantford Expositor, which is our local daily newspaper in Brantford. The headline says, "Business Has High Expectations for 30% Tax Cut." One of the many quoted in the article is Ted Mallett from the CFIB. He talks briefly about how "a March survey conducted by the federation and released last week showed more than 80% of its members thought the tax cut would help business prospects." I'm not sure if the member across is aware, but if you're helping business prospects, what you're doing is creating jobs and small business in this province, and that's what this government is committed to doing.

He went on to say: "They believe it would be quite positive in their businesses and hence for the economy, and they certainly expect the government to move forward. The effect of that extra money in the economy snowballs into job creation some time in the future." That really speaks volumes on the legitimacy of our tax cut and it talks very clearly on how important it is for us to make sure that we fulfil that promise to the voters of this province.

We believe that a balanced approach -- cutting taxes, balancing the budget -- will improve Ontario's competitive position, which will enhance our attractiveness as a place to invest and do business, and provide a direct boost to job creation.

The leader of the third party has absolutely no right at all to suggest that this government has not got the confidence of the people of Ontario. In fact, I look at the problems we're trying to solve and I look at what his party did in the last five years -- a government which condemned more families and more women and more children to welfare than any government in the history of this province, and he's sitting over there lecturing us on how to be fiscally responsible. I think what we have is a plan that will provide hope and opportunity to the hardworking people of Ontario.

Mr Dominic Agostino (Hamilton East): I rise in support of the resolution in front of us today from the third party. I'm listening with a great deal of interest to the self-righteous taxfighters that we now have found across the floor. I want to remind my friends across the floor that they keep talking about the 10 years and so on. They conveniently forget there was another government in power before that.

Let me just remind you again, in case you haven't seen those stats yet, that before your Premier became Taxfighter Mike, when he was a member of the government between 1981 and 1984, a recessionary period, Mike Harris supported 16 tax increases, for a total of $1.8 billion across Ontario. We conveniently forget that in those three years when your Premier was a member of that government, he supported tax increases in personal income tax, OHIP premiums, fuel tax, tobacco tax, beverage tax and on and on.

Very clearly, this government today chooses to forget a time period when it governed this province and chooses to forget a time period when it imposed tax increases. I guess that was then and this is now, and it's convenient to talk as the great taxfighters once you've been out of office for 10 years.

If we look at where this is leading, very clearly this government is taking a tremendous risk with the lives and the future of this province. What you are trying to do is something that has never been done. I challenge members across the floor to find a government anywhere in North America, or really in the western world, that has managed to succeed in eliminating a deficit, eliminating a debt and at the same time offer a 30% tax cut and still maintain the basic, essential services. Certainly I have not found such a success story anywhere in Canada, the United States or anywhere else in the last 10 to 20 years in a democratic system that we're aware of.

When you look at the impacts of these cuts -- and the impacts are felt -- the reason the cuts are driven to the level they are at is not only to balance the budget; it's not only to start working towards the deficit.

It is to feed this 30% tax cut. One could understand the need to work towards balancing the budget in this province. That is a goal I think we all share. That is a goal we would have attempted had we been in government; that's something the NDP talk about, had they come back to government. No one is questioning that. No one is questioning the need to attack the cumulative debt in this province. But one must question the sanity of trying, at the same time, to offer a tax cut that clearly is going to benefit the rich.

Let me give you an example. In my own community of Hamilton, the average $30,000 earner will receive $702 as a result of your tax cut. The average bank chairperson will receive $110,000. There appears to be a bit of a disparity there; there appears to be a bit of an imbalance. No one can argue with the fact that this tax cut you're offering is simply a payoff to your wealthy friends. It is nothing more than that.

Let's continue to look at my own community; let's look at the other side of it. Now we're going to benefit by $700. You earn $30,000 in Hamilton, you're going to benefit by $700. Let's look at the layoffs. In the 12 transfer partners, there are anticipated layoffs of 4,000 to 5,000 people in Hamilton-Wentworth as a direct result of your cut in transfer payments. Some 4,000 to 5,000 Hamiltonians who are working today will not be working six months or a year from now in the transfer agencies as a result of your cuts. Maybe you can point out to those individuals how they're going to benefit from this 30% tax cut. You have cut $106 million in transfer payments to those 12 partners in Hamilton-Wentworth.


There's still another price. There's the other side of it. How are these bodies, these agencies going to cope? They're going to introduce user fees. This is a great shell game this government plays. They somehow pretend that they're going to give you this money back. As Mike Harris says, the taxpayer is a taxpayer is a taxpayer. They fail to realize it's the same people who may get the $700 tax cut, if they work and if they can hang on to their job after you have gutted every system and every transfer agency and partner that we have, and if they get this tax cut they now have to pay user fees on the other side.

In my own community, the city of Hamilton increased its user fee revenue by $1 million this year; the region of Hamilton-Wentworth, $1 million; $5.1 million in water and sewer fee increases; a $6-million increase in user fees to McMaster University; $2.9 million to Mohawk College; Hamilton Street Railway disabled transit system -- all increases. That is a direct result of your transfer cuts.

Who do you think you're fooling with this tax cut that you think you're going to give to people? The reality is that the guy making $30,000 a year is going to pay more than that on the other side. If he has a son or daughter going to McMaster University, that $700 is just about gone simply in the tuition fee increase; forget every other user fee you've imposed upon and where you have forced municipalities to impose upon those individuals.

Very clearly, the person making $100,000, $200,000, $300,000 a year is going to benefit tremendously because there is no way he's going to be impacted to the same degree by the increase in user fees, by an increase in tuition fees, by water fees. They probably don't need to use the bus system, so that's not really going to matter to them.

It's the guy who's working, the guy trying to make a living who is going to pay much more than the $700 you're going to give him back as a result of the other side of the coin that you're doing here.

When you look at the cuts that have been made, literally every promise this government has made had to be broken. You promised no cuts in health care -- thousands of layoffs, hospital closures right across this province as a result of your tax cuts, as a result of your willingness to give your rich friends this tax cut. We have had massive cuts in education. We're going to see cuts in policing which you promised weren't going to happen, but municipalities have no choice because you have cut their funding.

We have seen the greatest assault on the poor, the needy, the disabled and children in the history of this province. I'm pleased the Minister of Community and Social Services is here to see this and hear this. What this government has done is unprecedented in this province. There has not been a government in the history of this province, including all previous Conservative governments, that has gone out of its way to attack the needy as you have, and you have spared no one.

There's been no sparing of the attack. You have attacked disabled individuals. You've promised they were not going to be cut; you have cut their benefits. There are thousands of disabled individuals today who are still on welfare and haven't been moved with a cut.

You have attacked children. You have attacked 400,000 children who depend on welfare across this province. Somehow you like to sit there and pretend that the 21.6% cut is not going to affect children. What you have done is doomed 400,000 kids to deeper misery and deeper poverty across Ontario.

You then cut the children's aid societies that are supposed to help families in need. You then cut women's shelters and services that are supposed to help abused women. On the one hand you've made all these changes that put more pressure on the family, more pressure on children, more pressure on women, and then you've taken away from them any sort of support mechanism that was there.

This is a cruel, mean-spirited government that likes to attack the easiest and most vulnerable targets in this province, and you know what? Kids are an easy target because they can't fight back yet. Disabled people are an easy target because they can't fight back sometimes. Single moms are an easy target because you have stereotyped and labelled them all as lazy bums who don't want to do anything. You continue to abuse and pick on these people.

That is the mentality that is driving this government and that is the legacy you're leaving for Ontario. You have polarized this province in a manner that it's never been polarized. You have set people against the neediest and you have set a mean-spirited climate that has never occurred in the history of Ontario. That is because you're obsessed with delivering this tax cut to your wealthy friends, and your attitude is, "If you can't make it on your own, then the hell with you; we're not going to help you."

That is not what has made Ontario what it is today. That is not what has made us one of the greatest provinces in the world, and Canada is certainly one of the best places in the world to live. It has not been the mean-spirited, cut-throat, slash-and-burn approach that this government feels they need to impose on the most needy and the most vulnerable people in our society.

I hope you sleep well at night. I really hope the champions of the Common Sense Revolution sleep well at night knowing what you've done to 400,000 kids. We raised it in the House today, and we predicted it was going to happen, that families were going to give up kids because they couldn't take care of them as a result of your cuts, and we saw that happen today. We said that was going to happen six or seven months ago. You were laughing at us at that point. We now have that reality.

Can anybody sit across the floor and defend a 30% tax cut to the wealthy at a time when families are going to children's aid societies saying: "I'm sorry. I cannot afford it. I don't have the money, the ability to properly care for my child any more"? At the same time, this government thinks that in that climate we can give a 30% tax cut.

I ask the members on the government side of the House, and I know that a lot of backbenchers, a lot of non-ministers -- because the ministers have all been brainwashed and they know if they don't toe the line they're going to be kicked out of cabinet and that's the end of their limo and their big salaries and all that stuff. But I ask the backbenchers, the government members, to try to represent their constituents. I ask you to show that intestinal fortitude, to show what is required of the leadership of members who are elected, and speak out on behalf of your constituents, speak out on behalf of the disabled in your community, the hungry children, the single moms, the people you're beating up.

Have the guts to stand up to your cabinet ministers with their limos and their chauffeurs and their 22 staff people each. Have the guts to represent the people who sent you there and ensure that we abandon this crazy, outrageous idea of the 30% tax cut, because there's a price to be paid, and I don't think it's a price that Ontario is willing to pay. We're not New Jersey yet; we're not Mississippi yet.

You keep this up and you keep doing what you're doing to the needy in this province, you're going to polarize and you're going to have a revolution, and it's not going to be the revolution you're looking for. It's going to be a revolution that's going to blindside you, and you're going to wonder what the hell hit you when people start fighting back.

Mr Tony Martin (Sault Ste Marie): I just want to take a couple of minutes this afternoon to, first of all, compliment my colleagues on this side of the floor for some of the comments they've made and some of the ways they've explained the intricacies of the program that this government is imposing on this jurisdiction and the effect it's going to have overall as it unfolds and the economy begins to experience full blast the impact of the tax cut, the cuts to services delivered by government, and the jobs that represents by way of loss.

I just want to for a couple of minutes, if I can, put some wheels on the discussion that we're having here, maybe make it a little bit more real for people and talk about the impact it will have on my community, and just for a second show you some contrast so that people out there and across the floor hopefully will understand that the motion that's on the floor this afternoon is a motion that should be supported if anybody has any concern at all or care for the wellbeing of this province and the people who choose to live and work and bring up children in Ontario today.

In Sault Ste Marie in 1990, when we got elected as a government, there was a community on the ropes. Algoma Steel was struggling through some very difficult times. They were into some labour relations difficulties. There was a strike, a lockout on.

I remember sitting down with the president of St Marys Paper, a fellow by the name of Dan Alexander, a very hardworking, sincere, dedicated individual who knew a lot about making paper and selling paper. He was bleeding to death because of the policies of the then Mulroney government -- the high interest rate, the rate of the dollar -- and he just couldn't seem to get ahead of the game. He was in difficulty and was sharing that with me six months to nine months into my first term in office.

The ACR, the Algoma Central Railway: The previous Liberal government had done a deal to put some money into that operation to keep it going. We, for the first couple of years of our time in office, were pumping in to the tune of about $10 million a year just to keep it going, to keep it operating. It was struggling, and when it's struggling, the people it supplies and works for struggle. The community that it serves struggles as well.

I remember sitting down with the folks who owned Lajambe lumber and talking about some of the difficulties they were facing at the time. In other words, we had a community that was on the ropes, that was having a difficult time. What did we do? Did we turn our backs on it? Did we say: "You're on your own. Make it or break it. It's a cruel world out there. The marketplace decides"? No. We brought all of those people who had some concern and interest and some fear about the future together around the table, the people who owned the company, the people who managed the company, the people who worked at the company, the communities themselves, the banks and the government, and we worked out solutions such that today, and actually when your government took over, we had a community that was in major recovery.


I remember Christmas of 1994 in Sault Ste Marie because of the good times that Algoma Steel was beginning to experience, the work that was there, the people that were working and collecting a paycheque. St Marys Paper was back on track again; the ACR, if you'll excuse the pun, was also back on track. People were confident they had a job that was going to last. The government of the day had resolved some of its difficulties by way of the social contract and the expenditure control plan. We weren't laying people off. We were telling them they had a job. They would have to work a little differently and perhaps for a little less money, but everybody was feeling confident.

There was a sense of stability in Sault Ste Marie in 1994, and people spent money. I remember walking around the malls in January 1995 and talking to small retail shop owners and talking to people, and everybody was happy. There was a mood in the air that was very positive and exciting, and people were actually looking forward to the future.

That's what this government inherited, and in the short six to nine months you've been in power, you have completely dampened that spirit.

You've taken away, by way of the things that you're doing, first of all, to the people on social assistance in our community, the poor who were doing okay under our government, who were taking the money they were getting because they couldn't find work -- we even still couldn't develop an economy that was going to provide everybody with work, but we were working on it. We weren't taking jobs away from people. Soon after you reduced the amount of money that the poor were getting and spending in our community, you began to take away jobs and services.

Where you inherited a community that was in recovery, you have now taken that community and put it into a very serious recession. We're not sure what we're going to do. We're gathering together, we're looking at the numbers and we're trying to come up with some plan that in the long term and the short term will serve us and serve the people who live in our community, but we're not sure if we're going to be able to do that.

We know what you've done. We're living in tremendously difficult expectation of what you're going to come down with in May by way of the budget you're going to present, and we're not sure what's going to happen after that.

All we know is that it doesn't look good, it doesn't feel good, and this community, my community, the community I live in and work in and feel very, very strongly about and was excited about in January 1995, I'm now very concerned about. So I'm going to be supporting this resolution this afternoon and encouraging others in this House to do so as well.

Mr Jim Flaherty (Durham Centre): I am pleased to be able to speak here today in opposition to the motion on behalf of my constituents in Durham Centre, that is, the people of Whitby and north Oshawa. It is sometimes forgotten that Whitby lies at the centre of Ontario's main street, that is, Highway 401, which, as you know, stretches from the Michigan border to the Quebec border. The important point to remember is that the midpoint of Highway 401 is exit 410. That is at the main exit to the historic and vibrant town of Whitby. That is at the centre of Main Street, Ontario.

May I speak of the concerns of my constituents about high taxes. I've heard from many of them in response to the survey I had in my householder about taxes. They want tax cuts. My constituents have expressed their concerns to me about the role of government in their lives. They agree, as I do and as most reasonable people do in Ontario, that government has a vital role to play with respect to certain core services such as health and education.

But my constituents know, and they know because they have lived through it, that government at all levels has expanded its scope and volume dramatically over the past 25 years or so. They know that they are not getting good value for their tax dollars. Most Canadians and people in Ontario, I think we could all agree, do not object to paying taxes if they feel they are getting value for their tax dollars. My constituents do not feel that they are getting or have been getting value for their tax dollars, particularly in the last 10 years.

They know, because they have had to live through it, that this unrestrained and unfocused appetite for growth by government has a substantial price and they know who has to pay the price. It's the people of Main Street, Ontario, who have to pay the price for these decisions by politicians to continuously increase income taxes and other types of taxes. That price is ever-increasing taxation, including taxation on all the people of Durham Centre, which, as I may have mentioned, is at the centre of Main Street, Ontario.

May I speak also of the unacceptable level of taxation of Ontario families. Not only has government increased tax rates over time but government has not increased the categories of marginal taxation, so that more people are paying higher taxes at higher marginal rates than at any time in the history of our country, and that's because of the failure of governments to move those rates up as they move marginal rates up.

If we look at the facts rather than speculation or conjecture, we see that in Ontario the average two-income Ontario family has an income of perhaps $57,000 or so. That family with that income is paying, it is estimated, about 47% of their income in taxes. My friend from Hamilton East talks about mean-spirited and then says, ignoring the fact that with the tax cuts, 60% of the people who will benefit from the tax cuts have an income of less than $50,000. That's Main Street, Ontario. The income tax rate on taxable income above $51,000 presently is about 45%.

People know, when they do their bank balancing and they look at their paycheques at the kitchen table, that in the past 10 years, in inflation-adjusted terms, their real incomes have declined despite pay increases, and one of the major culprits of that is government's insatiable appetite for income tax increases. Here in Ontario, we had 11 increases under the governments of the opposition parties opposite here over the last 10 years.

People know this. They know this when they sit in their homes and look at their paycheques and they see that they get a raise, so that theoretically they're supposed to make more money, and in fact they only make a couple more dollars because those governments kept increasing income taxes.

These levels of taxation imposed by government on the hardworking middle-class families of Ontario are unacceptable. They're also unacceptable to the small businesses of Ontario. Witness the Canadian Federation of Independent Business survey of its members, which all members have seen, indicating overwhelming support for the tax cuts proposed by our government. These levels of taxation are unacceptable to my constituents and they've made that clear to me in the survey results that I have, and these are the constituents, I remind you, of Main Street, Ontario. The families of Ontario want a tax break, and quite frankly, they've earned it.

What are the gains to be made from reducing income tax rates? Cutting taxes and balancing the budget over five years will improve Ontario's competitive position. High taxes mean less growth. The high level of taxation we all face in Ontario discourages job creation and economic growth. My riding includes part of Oshawa. A high tax on cars means fewer car sales. That's why this government is committed to cutting taxes, including personal income taxes.

By income tax reductions, Ontario will become a more attractive place to invest and expand, which means the creation of real jobs, of lasting jobs. Government taking less money from Ontario families will stimulate family spending and investment, which will be a direct boost again to permanent, lasting job creation.


Taxes also distort economic behaviour by discouraging people from working harder, from working overtime, from saving, from investing, all values that we used to care about and many Main Street people in Ontario still care about. High tax rates encourage people also to participate in the underground economy. That's why over 50 countries over the past decade have begun to cut their marginal tax rates; for example, Britain, New Zealand, Sweden. My friends opposite in the NDP would be familiar with their favourite foreign country of Sweden; significant changes to the whole tax system there, including reductions to income taxes from 42% in 1989 to 35% in 1990.

We have to leave more money in the hands of the people of Ontario so they can spend and invest in their communities. Getting consumers back into the marketplace and letting entrepreneurs reinvest profits back in their businesses are essential to increase growth and prosperity in Ontario.

There is no guarantee that governments do a better job of stimulating the economy than what consumers can do themselves. Benefits of tax cuts go to those who need them most. The real winners are the hard-pressed middle class who have borne the brunt of the tax increases of the last decade imposed by those parties opposite.

We believe that a balanced approach, cutting taxes and balancing the budget, will improve Ontario's competitive position which will enhance our attractiveness as a place to invest and do business and provide a direct boost to job creation.

Cutting taxes and balancing the budget will improve Ontario's competitive position and benefit all Ontario families. Cutting taxes and balancing the budget will provide some relief to the hard-working and heavily taxed parents of the many families in my riding of Durham Centre, which I remind the parties opposite lies at the centre of Main Street, Ontario.

Mr Crozier: It's my pleasure to rise today to speak to this motion of want of confidence, and I'm speaking in favour of it. I think it should be one that we do want confidence in the government, but I think it's more one of credibility. It's been referred to today about the number of tax increases that the Premier himself supported while he was a member of cabinet during the 1980s, so I can't understand how he puts himself forward as the great tax fighter.

But I do want to point out a couple of things: Rather than the rhetoric, I'm going to use statistics and if you want the source of the statistics, I'll tell you. Let me warn you that many of them are your own. But according to StatsCan, the CAW, the Conference Board of Canada and the Canadian Mortgage and Housing Corp, the Canadian average weekly earnings are $571 a week. That amounts to about $29,000, almost $30,000 a year. But let me tell you how this tax break that they're going to give the rich breaks down. If the average earnings are under $30,000, that means then that anyone earning up to $35,000, which is 42% of the Ontario population, will only get 7% of the tax cut. Those earning between $35,000 and $75,000 will just about break even; 42% will get the tax cut, it will represent around 40% of the population.

But here's the one that hurts and here's the one where the government says, "We have to share." Eighteen per cent of the population will get 51% of the tax break. Now, I don't really think that's fair. I don't think it's fair, I don't think it's equitable. You might be better served to reduce the provincial sales tax rate by half. That will give you the same reduction in total, but it will spread it over a larger number of people.

The average tax cut for the Ontario family will be about $1,100. More than half, as I said, of the tax cut will go to those who have incomes over $90,000. The average cut for those who are over $90,000 -- and I'm sure the member who spoke previously is among this group because he said he was taxed at a higher rate -- they'll get about $4,400. That's $4,400 for those who are over $90,000. How many average Ontarians make $90,000?

I also want to remind you and those who may be viewing today -- I'm sure the members opposite know this; they just won't admit it -- the speaker previously said they were going to balance the budget while reducing taxes. Well, by their own figures, the November 29, 1995, fiscal statement and the Common Sense Revolution figures for the out years, in the year 1998-99, when we could start to look towards an election, amazingly enough, the deficit will be $4.7 billion. During this government's term in office, according to your own figures, you're going to have deficits totalling $28.8 billion. You're going to pay $5 billion of interest on that debt, and you're going to do that because of what coincidentally seems to work out to be an annualized tax cut of $5 billion.

My friend from Essex-Kent has reminded me that the Tories, from the years 1969 to 1984, had 15 straight deficits. That's more deficits than the Montreal Canadiens had wins in a string of Stanley Cups, so you're ahead of the Montreal Canadiens in that respect.

In 1969, the year of their first deficit, and through the string of 15 deficits that the Tory predecessors had, they ran up a total debt in the neighbourhood of $30 billion to $35 billion. During the term of office of the Liberals, admittedly we added $5 billion to that. Now, of course, our debt stands at around $100 billion, and these guys, the cost controllers, are going to raise the current debt to $116.8 billion, and you know what? They're going to borrow every nickel of it.

It was said earlier that if you have a share in a company, you rarely give a dividend until you have your spending in order, but let me conclude by giving you some more statistics. These are from the PC party from 1981 to 1985, they are the Liberal Party's figures from 1985 to 1990, and the NDP indicators from 1991 to 1995.

The unemployment rate by the PC government during their period was 8.7%; the Liberals, during their term in office, had an unemployment rate of 5.9%; and the NDP's, through an economic downturn, was 10.3%.

During those same blocks of time, the number of jobs created: by the Tories, 64,800 on average; the Liberals, 112,000 a year on average, and the NDP, again because of an economic downturn, had a net reduction.

Tax increases per budget -- we talk about the great tax fighters. The average tax increase per budget for the Tories was 6; the average for the Liberals, 5.3; and the average for the NDP, 7.3.

Tax decreases per budget -- because we want to look at a net figure -- was 2 for the Tories, 4.3 for the Liberals, and 3 for the NDP.

Hon Al Palladini (Minister of Transportation): Give us the dollars.

Mr Crozier: Well, if you took that deficit of $35 billion in 1984 in today's dollars and compared to today's expenses, I suggest to you that it would be just as bad as anybody else's, so don't colour yourself any different.


Mr David Christopherson (Hamilton Centre): I appreciate the opportunity to wrap up the comments on behalf of our caucus. What this debate boils down to, in my opinion, in the long run is how one views government and the role that government plays in the lives of citizens and in society as a whole. We have now in Ontario a government that believes that anything to do with government and anything to do with the public sector is evil and therefore it needs to be gone after, and that if you shrink government and you remove government more and more, then regardless of the circumstances, this is a good thing.

The fact of the matter is that we in the NDP do not believe that is the reality of government's role, certainly not for the average citizen, certainly not for the average working person and their family when they take a look at what you're doing to the education system, to the health care system, the social services system, our transportation networks -- every facet of Ontario society this government is going after.

Quite frankly, if you're very well-off, if you're quite comfortable in our society, if you're one of those fortunate enough to already have the lion's share, you don't need to worry about the things I've just mentioned, because you've got the ability to buy those things for you and your family and your loved ones and the people you care about. But for the average working person, good government public services -- and that means police, fire, ambulance, snowplows, recreation centres, libraries -- these are all the things that add to the quality of life. If they weren't there, provided by the collective of society through the instrument of government, then in the vast majority of cases, for most working people, they wouldn't exist.

That's the fundamental difference between this Mike Harris reform party and the way we governed, because we believed that you had to invest in our society in order to reap the benefits for the majority. This government wants to invest in a tax cut because that's how their small minority of friends can reap their greatest benefit, and that simply is to get back and keep as much money as they can. We've heard that time and time again.

This tax cut does not serve the average working person and their families at all; it serves the wealthy, who are already doing quite well, thank you very much. At the end of the day, the people of Ontario will turn their backs on that kind of agenda and what it does to Ontario.

Mr Joseph Spina (Brampton North): I stand here today for obvious reasons, and that is, to speak against this motion. The opposition accuses us of speaking in ideology, but I suggest that this government has been run by nothing but ideology for the past five years.

With respect to the honourable member for Sault Ste Marie, I'm happy to hear his sincerity, because he is a person who speaks from the heart, but I had difficulty making a slight bridge when he said that in January 1995 there was a happy feeling of confidence in jobs, and after this government was elected, the poor were afflicted and suddenly that changed the situation with jobs. I apologize to the member, because I had difficulty understanding what his point was.

To get to the point at hand, the past decade has seen incomes decline consistently by the past two governments. And yes, there was some decline, I think, even beyond that, as one of the other members indicated earlier, but the reality is that they increased spending on a constant basis and they needed to fuel that spending with increased taxes.

That was a mindset. You increase spending and: "Oh, where are we going to get the money? Well, we'll just increase taxes one more time." And they did -- 65 times, 11 of them personal income tax hikes. That's more than one a year for a 10-year period.

On June 8 last year, the people wanted a tax cut because today, more than ever, it's important. The people of Ontario wanted a tax cut. They voted for a tax cut. We will deliver a tax cut. The people of Ontario put their trust in our party to do an important job: to restore the confidence in this province as a place to live, a place to work, a place to grow and a place to do business. In order to restore prosperity and confidence, we must get Ontario back on track, and it's already begun, because we know that this economy has created 31,000 net jobs -- that's the biggest gain in 16 months -- in the month of February; 76,000 since we took office six months ago.

They focus on the jobs that have been lost. You're never going to have a period where jobs aren't lost, but the point is that these are net gains -- net gains. That is the important factor you have to look at. This is a society in transition. This is an industrial economy that is in transition.

Personal income taxes, as I said earlier, were raised 11 times over the past 10 years. The resolution implies that our government should forgo the tax cut and concentrate on the creation of jobs so the economy can grow and the deficit and the debt will be eliminated. Growing the economy does not mean government spending is the means by which to achieve job creation, because if government spending created jobs, we'd all have three jobs and there wouldn't be a 9% unemployment rate in this province. No government has spent its way out of a recession and paid its way back.

We talk about Keynesian theory. Keynesian theory said that you spend money to pull your economy out of a recession, but all of the governments neglected the second part of Keynesian theory. The second part of Keynesian theory said that once you're out of the recession, you pay back the deficit, and that's never happened in recent years in our government. Now we are beginning to ensure that it does happen.

The member for Timiskaming said that we heard about comparisons between our government and those from the United States and, more specifically, supply-side economics. For years, liberal and socialist parties alike have misrepresented this era as an example of the failure of conservatism. Many times we heard the left wing and liberal mantra -- what is it, sir, the member from Hamilton? It is, "The rich are getting richer; the poor are getting poorer."

Here are some of the facts that the opposition conveniently forgets. According to statistics obtained from the US government budget offices, from 1982 to 1989 the following occurred: There were 19 million net new jobs created, two thirds of which were middle- to higher-paying, resulting in the lowest unemployment rate in 16 years. The economic growth from the tax cuts increased federal revenue by $1.1 trillion. That's right, the reductions in the marginal tax rates actually caused an increase in total revenue.

I draw your attention to this statistic: The tax cuts produced a 76% jump in new business investment and tripled the rate of productivity growth in the United States. Furthermore, real family income increased every year from 1983 to 1990 in every income group, from the poorest fifth of households to the richest fifth, and the poorest fifth increased by 12%.

The reason the debt was not addressed was because the Reagan government introduced spending cuts which were defeated and vetoed by the Democratically controlled Congress, and when that happened, the resulting revenue was negated. The fundamental difference between that government and this one -- pay attention, sir -- is that first we institute the spending cuts; then we introduce the tax reduction. That's what works.


With respect to the honourable member who claimed that only the wealthy at $90,000 to $100,000 would be the biggest beneficiaries in this province, the reality is this: that only 1.4% of the population of Ontario earns over $100,000, and that money is being clawed back by a health care levy. Read the entire policy in the Common Sense Revolution.

Mr Gilles Pouliot (Lake Nipigon): Another tax. Tax, tax, tax.

Mr Spina: It is not a tax. The health care levy is an existing tax that is already being paid that is being diverted and earmarked towards health care to replace the loss of revenue from the employer health tax that has been changed, that has been gotten rid of. You have to look at the three elements. It's a three-part triangle, my friends.

I just wanted to indicate one final element here, that whenever taxes of any nature increase, so does tax avoidance. People spend their money in the black market or the underground economy; hence, lost revenue to the province and the business community, and that situation is what economists refer to as diminishing returns. That statement, gentlemen and ladies, comes from the C.D. Howe Institute at the presentation made at the finance committee, to which the opposition had representative members.

What our government is trying to do is capture lost revenues by lowering taxes and giving people an incentive to work. We want to reward hardworking people by putting the money they earn into their pockets to spend as they see fit, not as the government sees fit.

The irony of this entire exercise is that the BC Premier feels that promising tax cuts is not a cynical attempt to grab votes in the upcoming election, but rather a genuine effort to react to the taxpayers' fears of a sliding standard of living, a sliding standard of living that we have experienced for the past few years in Ontario. I'm glad that BC's NDP Premier is using some common sense.

I vote against this motion because it's important that this government is here to serve the people of the province of Ontario.

Mr Rick Bartolucci (Sudbury): I'm very proud to be able to stand and speak in support of the motion today, and in fact if we've listened to what the government members have said and compare it to what the official opposition and the third party have said, the member for Nickel Belt will know the gentleman I refer to as regional councillor Frank Mazzuca. He would say that there's been a whole lot of gobbledegook here this afternoon. What I'd like to do is try to bring it back to reality, and you know that when I speak I always like to make reference to the people that I represent, the Sudburians.

If I have any advice to offer the other members on the government side, it's that they should be listening and they should be speaking for the people that they represent -- not for the party in power and not for the cause, but for the people they represent. So let me just try to make my arguments be reflective of what Sudbury's all about with regard to this 30% tax cut.

Indeed, it makes no sense to the people of Sudbury, because the rationale for this tax cut is flawed. If we can quote the finance minister in response to a question with regard to the rationale for the tax cut, he said, "We are not taking away jobs from Ontarians to finance a tax cut." Let's relate this to Sudbury for a second, because if we look at the article that appeared in Northern Life, we see:

"Hundreds of Hospital Sector Jobs Trimmed....

"Hundreds of jobs in the hospital sector are on the chopping block....

"Memorial Hospital's assistant executive director of personnel, Lloyd Harris, says his hospital could lose as many as 70 jobs....

"Still, Memorial, which employs 700 full- and part-time workers, will have to take other measures to control costs, such as permanently closing the hospital's second floor....

"The second-floor closure will affect 20 full-time equivalent staff, including nurses and registered practical nurses.

"Sudbury General Hospital will lose 4% of its funding or about $1.8 million.

"Hospital spokesperson Deborah Dunn....estimates as many as 70 jobs at her hospital could be affected....

"Janice Skot, chief executive officer for Laurentian Hospital, said...layoffs cannot be ruled out in the future."

That's hospitals. Let's go to education in Sudbury. In a Friday, April 6, article which appeared in the Sudbury Star:

"The first 1996 budget draft calls for the reduction of 31 teachers from the payroll and 20 non-teaching employees. The board reports that those numbers will have to increase."

Catholic high schools in Sudbury: Initial projection will be for 43 less teachers next year.

Again, what we see in Sudbury is mirrored across Ontario. If we look at the Health Sector Training and Adjustment Panel, its statistics indicate that 5,735 jobs will be lost in the health care sector in Ontario over the course of the next three years. If we look at education across Ontario and just take four examples of boards, within a period of 10 days nearly 4,000 staff at four school boards throughout the province received layoff notices. Those facing unemployment include 1,573 employees at the Halton Board of Education, 950 employees at the Simcoe board of education, 918 from Hamilton, 519 from the Peel Board of Education. Further cuts are promised.

If you look at the fact that Mr Eves, the finance minister, says, "We're not taking away jobs from Ontarians to finance a tax cut," pure statistics say he's wrong. As a further part of a response to the rationale for the 30% tax cut, Mr Eves stated, "We are trying to put money back into the hands of hardworking taxpaying Ontarians."

Interjections: Hear, hear.

Mr Bartolucci: Certainly, many of the members on the government side have said that today, and I hear from some of the members, "Hear, hear." He said it, but is he right? Let me try to use Sudbury as an example to prove that what you see is not what you're going to get. I would ask Mr Brown, the member for Algoma-Manitoulin, to do a quick bit of arithmetic with me.

Mr Michael A. Brown (Algoma-Manitoulin): This is frightening.

Mr Bartolucci: I say that because he's a very honest man and he will give us the straight facts. We know that the average Sudburian will be receiving $706 as a tax return after the 30% is fully implemented. If we look at the first year, the promised 15% tax cut, we divide $706 in half and, Mr Brown, what do we get?

Mr Michael Brown: We get $358.

Mr Bartolucci: You got it, $358.

Mr Michael Brown: No, that's wrong. Say $350.

Mr Bartolucci: All right. Let's go on. It's $350 and $350. He said it.

You have to start listening. Let's understand what happens here. The Sudbury Board of Education in a Friday, April 5, article in the Sudbury Star states: "Without any more budget cuts, the board would have an increase in property taxes in the region by an average of $240 per taxpayer." That's $240. You subtract it. That's the problem, Mr Preston. You guys are adding on; you're supposed to be subtracting.


Let's go the regional municipality of Sudbury, which for years and years has had no property tax increases. This year, because of the transfer payments that have been slashed by the province to its partners, they've had to increase taxes by 3.5%. On a home with $40,000 worth of assessment, that's $51.32.

Let's go from the region to the city, because the city also has had to increase not taxes, but user fees by 11.9%. If we look at marriage licences, we see that they're going up to $75.

Mr Michael Brown: It's gone.

Mr Bartolucci: It's gone. The tax break for hardworking Sudburians is gone, but we haven't talked about the increased user fees for pools; the increased user fees for ice rentals; the non-residents' increased library fees; the increased user fees for the bylaw department; the increased user fees for legal agreements; the increased user fees for major athletic complexes. We haven't even dealt with increased user fees for the region.

In summation, because my time is almost up, I have to tell you that the rationale for the 30% tax cut is flawed. It doesn't put money in the pockets; it takes money out and it gives it away. The hardworking, taxpaying Sudburians are going to be paying more for what they used to receive for either nothing or minimal because this 30% tax cut must go to the wealthiest in Ontario and the wealthiest in Sudbury, and I think that's wrong.

I think it would be wise if we listened, if the government would listen to its friend Ralph Klein when he says the Tory plan to cut provincial income tax by 30% is bewildering and, I quote, "To do that, one has to be more than just a politician; one has to be a magician." I would add that for most Ontarians, you also have to be unbalanced.

Mr John Gerretsen (Kingston and The Islands): First of all, I'd like to congratulate the member for Sudbury for actually putting some dollars and cents to this tax cut and to the various increased costs that people are going to be involved in so that people out there will know they won't be getting any money at all in the long run.

There's no issue I've talked about more often over the last year or so, ever since I got involved in the campaign, than that the 30% tax cut is crazier, is weirder, just doesn't make any sense at all. Even the member for Wellington said it was a reckless thing to do in his letter to the Premier, as did four other senior Tory members who unfortunately are not in the cabinet right now, because they could have some influence in that respect.

Everyone I've spoken to without exception in the past year, I cannot honestly remember one person who spoke in favour of a tax cut until we have the deficit in this province down to absolutely zero. That's the only thing that makes sense. Out of the premise that there should be a tax cut while we're also reducing the deficit come all the other matters that this government has dealt with in the past six to eight months, all the cuts it has announced, and I could go through an entire list here of lack of hospital funding in the amount of $1.3 billion, of elementary and school lack of funding of $400 million, cuts to colleges and universities of $400 million, cuts to municipalities of $658 billion. I could go on and on, all stemming from this crazy notion that in addition to reducing the deficit on an annual basis, there should also be a tax cut.

It just doesn't make any sense whatsoever, because what it has done is it has caused harm to those individuals that rely on the system in one way or another, that rely on the social services of this province, that rely on the universities and schools of this province, that rely on the hospitals of this province or that rely on any kind of care at all that one needs from the province. The question quite simply is if wasn't for the tax cut, the cuts that have been done to a lot of the other areas could be done by about half, and that is the bottom line.

What we really have in this province, the way I see it, is a great distribution of wealth. We have a situation where the people that are better off are saying: "Give us a tax cut. We'll get most of the money." As my friend from Essex South has already stated, more than 51% of the tax cut will go to people making $75,000 or more, and people making $35,000 or less will only be getting 7% of the total money that's available for them.

The well-to-do in this province have said, "Give us the tax cut," and the people that are the most vulnerable in this province will no longer have those kind of services available to them which they require to rely on. I think that tells us a lot about our society. It tells us we are simply not as caring a society as we at one time were and we simply do not care about our neighbour as much as we did in the past.

I think everyone would agree that over a reasonable period of time the budget should be balanced and there should be no deficit in this province. But to accentuate that problem by also cutting the revenue side of things, by giving people the tax cut that this government is proposing, is simply doing too much harm to too many people in this province. It's very interesting that even people like Ralph Klein, who is regarded as the Conservative guru out west, is saying that this doesn't make any sense at all.

Mr Crozier: Now he's the Reform guru.

Mr Gerretsen: He may be the Reform guru as well.

Everyone loves a tax cut. We would all like a tax cut. The point simply is that we cannot afford it right now. We cannot afford it until the deficit is down to zero, because during the next four to five years, as has already been indicated by a number of other speakers, the public debt of this province, as a result of the tax cut, is going from $96 billion to over $120 billion.

I will be supporting this motion and I would urge some of the fairminded individuals on the government side to support this motion as well.

The Deputy Speaker (Mr Bert Johnson): Mr Wildman has moved want of confidence motion number 2. Is it the pleasure of the House that the motion carry?

All those in favour say "aye."

All those opposed say "nay."

In my opinion, the nays have it.

Call in the members. There will be a five-minute bell.

The division bells rang from 1749 to 1754.

The Speaker (Hon Allan K. McLean): All those in favour of Mr Wildman's non-confidence motion will please rise one at a time.


Bartolucci, Rick

Hampton, Howard

McLeod, Lyn

Boyd, Marion

Kormos, Peter

Miclash, Frank

Bradley, James J.

Lankin, Frances

Pouliot, Gilles

Brown, Michael A.

Laughren, Floyd

Pupatello, Sandra

Christopherson, David

Marchese, Rosario

Silipo, Tony

Crozier, Bruce

Martel, Shelley

Wildman, Bud

Gerretsen, John

Martin, Tony

Wood, Len

The Speaker: All those opposed will please rise one at a time.


Arnott, Ted

Hardeman, Ernie

Preston, Peter

Baird, John R.

Harnick, Charles

Rollins, E.J. Douglas

Barrett, Toby

Harris, Michael D.

Ross, Lillian

Bassett, Isabel

Hastings, John

Runciman, Bob

Boushy, Dave

Johns, Helen

Saunderson, William

Brown, Jim

Johnson, Bert

Shea, Derwyn Carroll, Jack

Johnson, David

Smith, Bruce


Chudleigh, Ted

Kells, Morley

Spina, Joseph

Clement, Tony

Klees, Frank

Sterling, Norman W.

Danford, Harry

Leach, Al

Stewart, R. Gary

DeFaria, Carl

Leadston, Gary L.

Stockwell, Chris

Doyle, Ed

Marland, Margaret

Tascona, Joseph N.

Eves, Ernie L.

Martiniuk, Gerry

Tilson, David

Fisher, Barbara

Maves, Bart

Tsubouchi, David H.

Flaherty, Jim

Munro, Julia

Turnbull, David

Ford, Douglas B.

Newman, Dan

Vankoughnet, Bill

Fox, Gary

O'Toole, John

Wettlaufer, Wayne

Froese, Tom

Ouellette, Jerry J.

Witmer, Elizabeth

Galt, Doug

Palladini, Al

Wood, Bob

Gilchrist, Steve

Parker, John L.

Young, Terence H.

Grimmett, Bill

Pettit, Trevor


Clerk of the House (Mr Claude L. DesRosiers): The ayes are 21, the nays 62.

The Speaker: I declare the motion lost.

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

The House adjourned at 1758.