36th Parliament, 1st Session

L056 - Thu 11 Apr 1996 / Jeu 11 Avr 1996








































The House met at 1004.




Mr Flaherty moved second reading of the following bill:

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

The Acting Speaker (Mr Gilles E. Morin): Pursuant to standing order 96(c)(i), the honourable member has 10 minutes for his presentation.

Mr Jim Flaherty (Durham Centre): I'm pleased to have this opportunity to speak in support of Bill 33, An Act to amend the Legislative Assembly Act, which is the private member's bill which I brought forward. The bill proposes to amend the act to provide that a member of the assembly shall not receive any indemnity as a member for any period during which the member is suspended from the service of the assembly.

The current situation is that a member of this House who by his or her own misconduct is suspended for a day or longer suffers no financial penalty, that is, the member is paid while suspended. This came as a surprise to me as a newly elected member in June 1995 and also to some of my colleagues who were elected then, and indeed to some of the veteran members, all of whom thought that no work, no pay was the rule, which it is not. The bill proposes that would be the rule and that no work would equal no pay in this place.

The purpose of the bill is also to promote a reasonable standard of behaviour in this place. Presently, there are no consequences for misbehaviour by a member. Indeed, some members may gain publicity for themselves or for a specific concern through their own misconduct without penalty.

I suggest that it is important for members of the provincial Parliament to lead by example. We should not be paid when, through our own misconduct, we are named by the Speaker. We would not expect people who work in the private sector and who are suspended for cause to be paid while they were suspended for cause. Why should politicians have this special privilege?

What we are talking about here is situations in which a member is suspended for cause, that is, due to the member's own conduct or, more accurately, misconduct. The point is that the member brings the suspension on to herself or himself.

It is vital that this chamber be a place for rational debate of the important issues that face the people of Ontario today and affect the future of our children. We have serious business to attend to here and we are being paid to do it. It is also important that all of us as members individually and collectively seek to improve the image and the reputation of the Legislature and us as legislators, that we emphasize the concept of rational debate, as opposed to puffery and playing to the cameras. All of us need to remember that the purpose of Parliament is to permit free men and women to air honest differences of opinion in open debate. How can we have informed, rational debate in this place when we are howling and interrupting each other? We should be mindful of our negative image to visiting school children and to their teachers, who are here virtually daily, our negative image to visiting dignitaries, to our own constituents who visit here. What negative impressions they must have when they leave this place after visiting.


We should also be mindful of the importance of protecting and enhancing the role and the authority of the Speaker. The chamber protocol memo circulated by the Speaker recently contains examples of two areas in which misconduct by members is common. First of all, the protocol memo noted: "Members may not interrupt another member speaking unless it is for a point of order or a point of privilege. All interjections are out of order." Secondly, "During the day's proceedings, the members should show respect for other members and refrain from interjecting or using disrespectful or offensive language." I say that these two rules are breached regularly in this place.

Philip Laundy, in his book The Office of the Speaker, writes: "A Speaker is, or should be, one of the trustees of a nation's liberties. On his fair interpretation of the rules of procedure depends the protection of the rights of members. In protecting these rights he is protecting the political freedom of the people as a whole."

Mr Laundy notes that "the maintenance of order is a fundamental duty of the Speaker," but we must remember that the ultimate authority in matters of order is not the Speaker; it is the House itself. It is us, as members of this place, who are accountable individually and collectively for the standard of conduct, the standard of behaviour here. While it is the Speaker's fundamental duty to maintain order, the ultimate authority is that of us as members of this assembly.

If I may refer to the historical context, in the British House of Commons there was a recognized procedure for dealing with disorderly conduct prior to the reform of the standing orders there in the 1880s, and the Journal of the House of Commons reflects the infliction of various punishments on offending members ranging from censure to imprisonment. This bill does not propose censure to imprisonment; it proposes that a member who is suspended would lose pay for the period of the suspension.

Today, the procedure which is followed in the British House of Commons upon the naming of a member is provided for in specific terms by the standing orders, although the right of the House to proceed against a member according to ancient usages, should it so desire, is preserved. Again, I refer to Mr Laundy's text on the office of the Speaker.

In the more recent history in this place, since the introduction of the relevant standing order 15 in 1970, the Speaker has named a member and ordered him or her to withdraw from the House for the remainder of the sessional day 68 times, that is to the end of 1995: the total Liberals, 26; the total NDP, 27; the total Progressive Conservative members, 15. The pattern is as follows: the number of total suspensions in the 1970s, in those 10 years, only 10; in the 1980s, 33, an increase of more than 300%; in the first half of the 1990s, to the end of December 1995, already 25 members suspended. It is apparent that suspensions were rare in the 1970s, only 10 in 10 years, but more than tripled in the 1980s. We are well on our way to a record in the 1990s, given 25 suspensions to the end of 1995. This is not a partisan issue. All parties have had members who have been suspended, so one's political party affiliation is not the issue.

With respect to the quantum of the suspension cost, before yesterday's announcement, the indemnity annually, pre-social contract, was $44,675 per annum, which would be a per diem rate of $122.39. After the announcement and the pending legislation mentioned by the Minister of Finance yesterday, the indemnity would be $78,007, which would be a per diem rate, on my arithmetic, of $213.72.

It may be said by some members here that this bill is an attempt to stifle the opposition. Let it be noted that members of all three parties have been ejected from this chamber throughout its history, both in government and in opposition. This legislation is to the benefit of all members and to the benefit of this institution, and therefore to the benefit of all of the people of Ontario who elected us.

The issue of the conduct of members is broader than members being named, because that is the ultimate sanction, being asked to leave for the day. The level of conduct is a broader issue, with the level of suspensions really just representing the tip of the iceberg.

Members of both the government and the opposition have been ejected over the years. The serious issues, it should be remembered, with which we are faced at this important time for Ontario emphasize the need for rational debate, informed debate, debate in which members listen to each other about the differing points of view. It is important that we as members of the Legislature convey to our constituents and to all of the people of Ontario that we are here to work for them, that we are their employees as taxpayers, that we are serious about the work that we have sought to do and which they have elected us to do.

I ask for the help of all members in seeking to accomplish this goal of promoting a reasonable standard of behaviour in this place. I urge all members to support Bill 33 by voting for the bill today at second reading.

Mr Michael A. Brown (Algoma-Manitoulin): I appreciate the member bringing this bill before the House because I think it speaks to some of the great paradoxes of this place. We have seen, and the member has presented to us, a lot of information about how often people happen to be ejected from this House and that sort of thing.

I would suggest to the member that there is a direct correlation between the amount of disruption and the changes in the standing orders over the years. You will find that as the standing orders tightened down, often made it very difficult for members to make legitimate points during debate as time was restricted, as members did not have an outlet to tell this House what it was they were concerned about, the issues their constituents were concerned about, there has been increasing disruption in this place.

I think that's unfortunate. I don't think we would want to be seen by the public to be doing these things. But it seems to me that the problem is with the standing orders in general. As you restrict the standing orders, as you make it more difficult for private members, whether they be in the opposition parties or in the government party, to speak, what is going to happen? You're going to have people who do things to make their point. You're going to have people become very angry and very frustrated in this place, as you do anywhere. And guess what? They're going to do things we would appreciate them not doing.

Now, I understand the intent of this. I think we should be better behaved. I think our constituents would be far happier if we presented ourselves in a more professional way. But I would suggest to the member, if he has ever watched the Mother of Parliaments in action, we are very well behaved people.

This is not a place where decorum means everything. This is a place to debate. Debate sometimes becomes emotional, and under those circumstances, people from 130 constituencies and three political parties and one independent are going to have strong views, and if there isn't an outlet, guess what? We're going to have disruption.

The member should understand that by saying to the member for Algoma-Manitoulin, "You're going to get thrown out and it's going to cost you $122," you know what? I'm still going to get thrown out. What you need to do is to change the rules. Don't act in an arrogant way, because that's what's happening. Over the last 15 years, governments of all stripes have restricted us as private members, and to get government's attention, we had to do things like we did with Bill 26, which all of us over here are very proud of because they accomplished what needed to happen. The rules did not permit us to do anything but acquiesce to the government's point of view. We would not have had any public hearings; there would not have been discussion. It needed to happen. As governments turn the screws, we have this great paradox that exactly the opposite thing happens.

I would suggest to the member that while I appreciate why he's placing it forward, I believe it's the wrong direction. What we need to do is open up debate, permit more opportunities for members to legitimately place their points of view in here, and our behaviour will improve. That's the way I see it and I appreciate the opportunity for being able to speak this morning.


Mr Gilles Bisson (Cochrane South): I will start by saying I will not support this resolution, and I'll try to tell you why clearly. I try to do this in a fairminded way. I understand where the member is coming from. He is a new member to this assembly. He has not been around here long enough to understand the history of this place and what transpires within the House, what the practices have been over the years. I think you have to take into account the history of this House to a certain extent.

The Conservative member stands in this House today and says, "I have a resolution that's going to fix decorum in the House" -- and he was trying to be fairminded -- "because the opposition parties at times get somewhat out of hand and get kicked out of the House, and we've got to give the Speaker more power so that when the Speaker kicks a member out, that member loses his or her wages," and that somehow is a deterrent to stop me, an opposition member, from doing that. I just want to put on the record, and I'm sure the Conservative members know this, that, my, oh my, you should have been here from 1990 to 1995.

The Conservative caucus was very effective as an opposition party, yelling, screaming, doing everything it could in the House. They brought signs into the House. They brought pink placards into the House. They had all kinds of props in the House. They named every lake. My, oh my. Don't come in here and start preaching to me about how holier than thou you are about the rules, because it was very much the antics of the third party from 1990 to 1995 that led our government to change the rules in this House to limit those kinds of actions. In a way, I regret that we did that.

There were some good things we did in the rules, in limiting the amount of time a member can speak in any one speech. I think the rule to allow the member to have the floor ad infinitum was a dumb rule. Moving to 30 minutes was smart. It allows you, as a member, to clearly articulate what you want to say, to give your speech and get done and give the floor to somebody else.

But remember why those rule changes were made. They were made because Mike Harris and the Conservative Party were an effective opposition that was using every rule of the House to obstruct the government's agenda, and we as a government, the New Democratic government, made rule changes in the House that limited the ability for the third party to do what it did in obstructing our agenda. Let's be clear here.

The real problem, and the member from Manitoulin touched on it, is that this is not how you reform Parliament, by bringing forward a bill such as you have now. We need to get past into the next debate, which is, how do you give the members of this assembly an actual role to play when it comes to the decision of policy in the province? I say that not just as an opposition member; I'm speaking for you in the back bench of the Conservative Party. I've been there, and I understand where you are. It is extremely frustrating to be a member of this assembly, to be a representative of your riding, to come here and to be told by the inner cabinet -- not all the cabinet, but the inner cabinet, the chosen few around your Premier who make decisions that you then have to go out and defend, defend what your government is doing as part of government policy.

Admittedly, some of that you agree with as backbenchers. I agreed with much of what our government did. But the real issue is that constituents across this province and across this land are saying, "We want our elected representatives to have a real voice in the House and we want to be able to make sure that those members are accountable, not to the Parliament necessarily, but to the people."

What we should be talking about is parliamentary reform. There are many jurisdictions across the parliamentary system as we know it, the British parliamentary system, which have reformed their system of government to take a look at whether we should have strictly a vote system such as we have in Ontario where a member is elected by first past the post, because the reality is that we elect members to this assembly with less than 50% of the votes cast, we elect governments at majority with less than 50%. We were elected as an NDP government with less than 40%. You were elected as a majority government with around 44% or 45%. Is that true democracy?

I think we need to take a look at proportional representation as one of the things that possibly we should be doing. Maybe we have to have a system where we elect, on a proportional basis, the members of this House, a certain amount of them directly from the riding so that they represent the constituencies and the others from a list, such as they do in Germany and Israel. New Zealand has a new system coming in 1997 that says you have in the House a proportional representation of parties and of members that actually reflects the desire of the people when they cast their ballot in a general election. That's the first issue.

The biggest issue after that becomes, in my view, how do you give those members a role so that it's not just a chosen few in cabinet who say, "We are going to give a 30% tax break," or, "We will do or not do auto insurance," or whatever it might be? You have to have a role where members of the House actually have a say so that their vote is necessary for the government to survive, so there needs to be cooperation between all of the members, not just the members in the government party, to be able to put legislation through. If we were to do that, it would increase the role of us as members. It would make us, by force, much more responsible as members, going back to our constituencies and making sure that we understand truly what our constituents want so that we can come here and represent those views and move forward legislation according to the needs of the constituents and not just of the parties.

I will not be voting for this bill simply because I think it's one of those nice, politically glitzy things you can do that has absolutely nothing to do with parliamentary reform.

Mr Doug Galt (Northumberland): I'd first like to compliment our member Jim Flaherty for bringing forward this bill. It's certainly, in my opinion, a bill that's long overdue. I'm a little disappointed in the feelings and the comments that I'm hearing from the opposition.

This bill is all about not getting paid when you're not here, when you've been suspended for a misdemeanour or misbehaviour of some sort. This could only be in Ontario; I don't know where else in the world this would be interpreted in this manner. To me, it should be automatic that you would not be paid when suspended. I find it almost embarrassing to be debating an issue such as this when to me it should be very, very obvious. It's totally incomprehensible in my opinion. We're talking about a measure of accountability of personal behaviour of members here in this House. In businesses and unions and many other walks of life, malfeasants and scofflaws are penalized financially when under suspension for breaking the rules. Why should it be any different here in this House?

Certainly during the campaign the decorum of this House came up on many occasions when knocking on doors and when at public meetings. The public are extremely irritated over the performance they observe on the legislative channel when they watch how people behave here in this House, and that's all parties. It's certainly not a partisan issue. They're extremely disappointed in how they perform.

Mr John Gerretsen (Kingston and The Islands): Especially the government backbenchers.

Mr Galt: Particularly the member for Kingston and The Islands, how he speaks out.

They've lost respect for the politicians in general, and I suggest to you that the way we act in this House is part of the reason politicians have lost respect in the province of Ontario. I can just imagine what the headlines will be after this debate when the public and the press start to realize we do get paid after being suspended from this House.

MPPs have been setting a rather bad example. I look up at the gallery often and I see children -- actually, they're very mature young people -- leaning forward on occasion, looking at rather childish actions -- maybe I shouldn't use childish; that's kind of insulting to children -- members acting in a very irresponsible manner, and what happens? The security officer comes down and reprimands the child for leaning forward to see what's going on, and down on the floor they can carry on and the Speaker may or may not call them to order. On occasion, they'll be named and suspended. The end result is that they continue getting paid and the poor child up there, because they lean forward, is reprimanded for a misdemeanour. To me, this is a rather reverse reward situation when we're paying somebody for doing something we are telling them they really shouldn't be doing.

Recently we had members, when they were suspended, applauded with a standing ovation by members of their caucus. This is totally unacceptable and just should not be happening in this House.


Paying an MPP while he is suspended is something like expelling a child from school who really didn't want to be in school in the first place, or charging with vagrancy and putting in jail, where it's warm, people who really didn't want to be on the street in the first place. It is rewarding someone for misbehaviour.

I know that emotions run high in debates and I probably have made the odd call myself, but it's certainly out of order, and we should be paying attention to those rules. It's like trying to drive without rules and without enforcing those rules. We make it illegal to make left-hand turns during some of the busy periods, rush-hour traffic. If we didn't have those rules and didn't enforce them, traffic would become total pandemonium. Most drivers follow those rules very willingly because they know it's helpful to everyone else; others only follow those rules because they know there are penalties and they may end up with a summons or charge. The OPP and the police do, in general, try to apply the laws in an equal manner. When the rules are ignored in this House, it's like trying to run a red light in traffic.

When we suspend members and hit them in the pocketbook, there will be a motivation to improve the decorum in this House. I respect what the opposition members have commented on already, that there are other ways, and yes, there are limitations to the debate, but we can't go on forever. There do have to be various rules at various times, and I respect that, but once they're hit in the pocketbook, I'm sure they will look at decorum in a very different way.

I wholeheartedly endorse Bill 33, brought forward by Mr Flaherty, which will ensure that MPPs, when suspended, will not be receiving compensation, remuneration, payment, money of any kind during their period of suspension.

Mr Dominic Agostino (Hamilton East): I certainly appreciate the well-intentioned effort of the member in bringing this forward. However, I have to speak in opposition to it.

I find it a little ironic that it would be government members who have forgotten the track record of Premier Harris when Mr Harris was on this side of the House, and many opposition members at that time. Remember the rule that cell phones are not allowed in the House? I recall Mike Harris bringing a cell phone into the House and making a mocking call to Premier Rae. I cannot believe that someone as dignified as the Premier of Ontario would have done that on this side of the House -- Mike Harris holding up signs, all the backbenchers waving Blue Jay banners, all those parliamentary things that do not embarrass us and are not childish.

I find it hypocritical and I find it interesting, now that you're on that side of the House, that you feel the opposition should be very much limited in its attempts to get our message across on what this government is doing. This is an ongoing pattern of bullying, of intimidating, of the type of goon mentality that exists often in what this government does. This bill is aimed at the opposition; this bill is aimed clearly at trying to limit our opportunity to debate, our opportunity to speak out, our opportunity to fight against this government.

It's also based on the misconception that MPPs' work is only in this place. I think any of us who have been here for a short time understand that the vast majority of our work as MPPs, if you want to relate it to remuneration, happens outside of question period, that one hour when we sit in here and yell and scream at each other. Most of our work happens in our constituencies, it happens in committees, it happens at our Queen's Park office; it doesn't happen here.

Somehow you're trying to make that correlation. You're saying if you get kicked out because the Speaker feels you have acted in an unparliamentary way, even if a cabinet minister or the Premier, as an example -- and I'm not suggesting they would -- has lied openly and blatantly about an issue, you're not allowed to say that in this House. If you want to say it in this House and you say it, then you get thrown out, although the record may be very clear, because parliamentary procedure says you can't use those words, so you get turfed out, and government members clap and think it's wonderful. Now they're suggesting that you get fined for that.

Let me tell you that my accountability is not to the government members; my accountability is to my constituents, the people who have elected me and have put me here. If my constituents are unhappy with my behaviour in the House, if my constituents are unhappy with the positions I take in this House and if my constituents are unhappy with the fact that I may have been thrown out of the House on a number of occasions, then they will tell me that four years from now, when we go back to the polls. They're the judge and jury here, not government rules to stifle opposition.

That's all this is: simply another attempt by this government to try to intimidate, bully and stifle the opposition in this House. It's a pattern we've seen with Bill 26; it's a pattern we've seen with the principal in Scarborough who got a call from the minister's office because she dared to criticize this government; it's a pattern we've seen with the children's aid society in Simcoe county, which got a call from the minister's office and they're scared out of their boots because, "How dare you criticize what we're doing, so fall into line." This is what we're seeing here and these are typical, ongoing efforts of this government.

If you want to talk about performance and work in the House, then let's apply the rule to the cabinet ministers who don't show up. I'm sure there's a good reason why they're not here, but they're not doing their work in the House when they're not here. Based on their salary, it's probably about $1,000 they would be docked while they're not here. If you're a parliamentary assistant, we'll probably bump that up a little more. There are lots of those on that side of the House who get those nice perks. If you're a whip or deputy whip on that side of the House, we'll bump it up even further. But those rules don't apply that way. They only apply if you get thrown out of the House. If you're a cabinet minister and you're on holidays or at a conference somewhere or out of the House, you're not doing your job in the House, so the same principle would apply. But you're not getting your pay docked; it's only if you're in opposition and you're unparliamentary and you get turfed out.

You can look at a sort of penalty setup where at the end of the year, like you do in hockey, you would put up the number of penalty minutes you would get: two minutes for yelling at Palladini, maybe five minutes for yelling at Eves, and if you're really bad and yell at the Premier, you get a 10-minute penalty. We could really get creative with the kinds of censures and punishments we want to put on members of the opposition.

The reality is, and my friend from the NDP talked about it earlier, parliamentary reform is what is needed. If government members are serious about how this place operates, allow some parliamentary reform; allow some proper debates on issues. Change some of the rules you fought so hard against when you were in opposition that limited debate. Allow some free votes. Give your backbenchers some flexibility to represent their constituents. Do the type of parliamentary reform that is necessary.

This is simply, in my view, a bullying, intimidating act by a bullying, intimidating government. I'm not going to support it, you're not going to be able to impose it and this is absolutely ridiculous. Get down to some real reform and stop playing these games.

Mr Howard Hampton (Rainy River): I want to indicate my fundamental opposition to this bill on a number of fronts. First of all, I think by this bill this member tells us all of his inexperience in this House, because those of us who have been here for a while understand that work in this House is only a small part of the work that an MPP does. This member will discover, as a government backbencher, that what will get him re-elected or not re-elected is not what the government does or doesn't do or necessarily what happens in this House. It will be the constituency work that is done; it will be the work with the civil service that is done; it will be the work with municipal councils and community organizations that is done; it will be all the other work that takes up about 90% of an MPP's time if he or she is a good MPP.

To suggest that what happens in this House during the few months of the year when it meets should somehow determine all these issues indicates to me how little this government member knows about the work of an MPP. Let me say that I fundamentally oppose it for that reason.

There is an even stronger reason I oppose this bill. Parliamentary democracy depends upon an opposition. Majority governments don't need a parliamentary opposition; the public needs a parliamentary opposition for democracy to function well. The public needs a parliamentary opposition that is free to oppose, that is free to delay, that is free to criticize, and, on the occasions when something is really wrong in this place, the public needs an opposition which is free to show fundamental opposition to what the government is doing.


This bill is really about a government that thinks it is next to God and that it should somehow be able to define and restrict the functioning of parliamentary democracy.

Let me point out the give and take of this House for the benefit of the member. We saw in this House last fall something that I think is unprecedented in a parliamentary democracy. We saw a government come in here on the day when almost all opposition members were in a budget lockup, or something very akin to a budget lockup, and we saw the government try to introduce a bill which fundamentally changes democratic institutions in this government without giving the opposition any notice. When the opposition reacted angrily and when the opposition expressed fundamental opposition to this breach of democracy, the answer of this government is: "Then we need to shut down the opposition. We need to restrict the opposition."

This is government legislation posing as a private member's bill. This is a government attempt to interfere with the fundamental working of parliamentary democracy and the fundamental working of parliamentary opposition. I'm ashamed this is even debated here in the House, this bill itself is such a fundamental breach of democracy.

The fact is that in a majority parliamentary system, at the end of the day a majority government gets its way and there is nothing the opposition can do about that. It can delay, it can even obstruct, but at the end of the day the government will get its legislation. So why the opposition on the part of the government bench to individual members of the opposition showing their fundamental opposition to government motives and to government action?

I can't disagree more with this bill and I can't say more strongly that as far as I'm concerned, this is a government attempt to muzzle the opposition masquerading as a private member's bill and shouldn't even be here in the House for debate.

Mr David Tilson (Dufferin-Peel): I'd like to make a few comments with respect to the bill that's been introduced by my friend from Durham Centre. I will be supporting the bill.


Mr Tilson: The member for Kingston and The Islands says, "Show some originality." The problem we've found in the House, certainly since I've been elected, is the whole issue of decorum. Yes, the members can say, "They're worse than we are," and "They're worse than they are," and that sort of thing, and there's no question that examples can be shown from all sides as to how terrible the other is. We all can list examples. There's a member sitting in the Legislature now who lately has taken to going up and sitting in the gallery and trying to incite the public to make remarks.

Mr Floyd Laughren (Nickel Belt): Name names.

Mr Tilson: We all know who it is. And there have been very serious criticisms made with respect to the Speaker, the Speaker who's sitting, whether it be the Deputy Speaker or others. The question is, do we respect the office of the Speaker? Obviously, in my observation lately, we do not, whoever that person is. Do we respect the institution of this place?

There are all kinds of examples with respect to decorum. We have a rule in this House, for example, standing order 20(b), that says, "When a member is speaking, no other member shall interrupt such member, except on a question of order." What does that mean? Why should we even have that standing order? It doesn't mean a thing, not one absolute purpose. Out of frustration, the member for Durham Centre is making an attempt to resolve the problem of decorum in the House.

We start talking about the issue of respect. We have children in school hopefully trying to respect their teachers; we try to teach that. We have the public hopefully trying to respect the police, respecting the uniform. We have the issue of respect for women and children, particularly the whole issue of abuse of women and children. There are problems in that area.

There's the issue of respect for each other. Either we respect each other or we don't. This is not a question of doing away with opposition. Yes, the former NDP government essentially did away with the filibuster. I understand the frustration. I've sat over there, and you're right, there are more votes over on this side. One of the powers you have is to try to convince the government to change, so you can talk, you can do whatever you can to stop the government from doing something. The NDP government, of course, changed some of those rules. It may be argued that the filibuster should be brought back in; maybe it shouldn't.

In terms of this issue of the Speaker naming an individual, when an individual is named, what does it mean? "Go stand in the corner? Go leave the room?" No, it means they can no longer participate in this House and can no longer participate in a committee. And what does that mean? Well, it doesn't really mean much else. The only way it's going to affect the decorum in this House is through the pocketbook. I have received letters from the Speaker, as have all of you, from this Speaker, and former Speaker Warner tried to do the same thing, making an effort to control decorum in this House. None of that has worked. Nothing else has worked. The Speaker has made attempts to control the raucous behaviour that's gone on in this place. I don't think you're ever going to stop the remarks that go back and forth.

I can still remember one member over here last week saying, "Mr Speaker, you're a joke." How dare he say that? How dare he?

Mr Gerretsen: It's awful.

Mr Tilson: It is awful, as the member says. It is awful. We either have respect for each other or we don't, and quite obviously we don't.

This bill encourages respect for democracy. As members, we should all have respect for the democratic process. If we have no respect for the rules of this House and, by extension, the House itself, what are we doing here? Is it just going to turn into a shouting match? Do we not have any form of debate? You may say out of frustration: "I don't have an opportunity to speak. My caucus won't let me speak."

Mr Laughren: Oh, David.

Mr Tilson: The former Treasurer says that doesn't happen. We all know there are rules even among our own party, so out of frustration the only opportunity you have is to shout.

Mr Laughren: I can't believe that.

Mr Tilson: I know it's hard to believe, but it does indeed happen.

I submit that each member of this place is an elected official with the responsibility of representing his or her constituents in the assembly and it's his or her right to bring forward the concerns of their constituents. Is the alternative anarchy? Is that the alternative? Different members of the Liberal and NDP caucuses have stood in their place and said, "We're going to oppose this." Is the alternative to allow the conduct that goes on in this place to continue? Is that what they're suggesting? Is that what their idea of democracy is, to continue to shout at each other? The name of the game, it seems, is to shout down whoever the speaker is. I'm not saying we're innocent; it happens on this side too. But is that what we're trying to do, to outshout the other person? If you don't like what he or she is saying, outshout them, call them names, and certainly don't have respect for the Speaker, because that's what you're saying with respect to the conduct going on in this place.

I have heard that we should be continuing to pay people. But if you've been kicked out of this place and you can't sit here and you can't sit in the committee, why are we paying members not to work? You're either working or you're not working. One of the members said, "I'll go back to my office and work." The problem is that it's called decorum, and the Speaker has made a decision to name someone. What does that mean? It doesn't mean anything. That's what it's become in this place. It doesn't mean anything to be named.


I've seen people sit here and they'll look at the clock and they'll say: "It's 4 o'clock. Maybe I'll get named and create some grandstanding." I've actually seen a member on this side do that, look at the clock and then start to create and show disrespect for the Speaker, and the Speaker has no choice but to kick that person out.

It's unfortunate with the influence of the media, and the media must take some blame for this today, that members feel it necessary to grandstand to gain attention, and that happens. Instead of winning attention for their logical arguments, well-thought-out ideas -- and I believe some of you have some well-thought-out ideas -- they are often given attention for their tirades, their shouting, not their arguments, their debate, but their expertise in shouting.

Politicians today --

Mr Bisson: See the gallery. There's a member up there.

Mr Tilson: There's a member up there now, I suppose.

Politicians today are not held in the highest regard by the public, and it's unfortunate. One of the reasons is how they see we're conducting ourselves in this place. Unruly behaviour does absolutely nothing to elevate the status of politicians in the public's esteem. We are constantly in the public's eye what with the advent of television, how these proceedings are televised, so we must be on our best behaviour at all times if we're to show any credibility with respect to the different positions, the different philosophies we have in this place. But the answer seems to be to shout. That seems to be the main argument today, that if you're not supporting this bill, you're advocating a form of anarchy, you're advocating shouting. Drown out the speaker. That's what you want to advocate.

I commend the member for Durham Centre for putting some real meaning into being named, the issue of the Speaker naming someone for unruly conduct and not respecting each other or not respecting the Speaker. I encourage members to support this legislation. We cannot continue to act like unruly children. We must act as we should, that is the exercise of proper debate, and I encourage all of us in this place to support this legislation.

Mr James J. Bradley (St Catharines): This legislation will contribute nothing to the decorum of this House and will contribute nothing to the cooperation between the various parties in this Legislature. You know, these new members come in, right-wing members come into this Legislature and say, "We're going to run this place like I'm running my business," in terms of the Legislative Assembly, and democracy be damned with you people.

It showed through very carefully when you had Bill 26 in the way you handled Bill 26; first of all, a huge bill which affected some 48 pieces of legislation. The member sits there with a smirk on his face. He should worry about the hospitals in his areas and not be worrying about pushing the opposition around, because that's what this bill is really about: a government with a huge majority wanting to push the opposition around and suggesting, for instance, if a member is not in this House, that the member isn't somehow carrying out a responsibility to the people that member represents. The member should know better than that.

I notice this did not come forward from the government House leader, because he knows only too well what this kind of legislation would do to the atmosphere at House leaders' meetings. The reason the House can work is because the House leaders of the three parties are able to sit down and agree upon a schedule of committees, for instance, agree upon a schedule of legislation before the House. There is disagreement from time to time, but that's why this place has worked over the years with Conservative House leaders, Liberal House leaders and NDP House leaders.

Then some member shows up in this House and says, "We'll start bullying the opposition around." Now your real members who appreciate this House and appreciate the role of the opposition will stand and oppose this. I don't know how many people you've been able to get on your side to agree with this legislation, but I'm sure the people who know the importance of the role of the opposition in this House -- and you'll be in opposition some day, your party. It happens. I don't know when it will happen, but it does happen.

I can remember when my friends in the New Democratic Party changed the rules of the House. The member for Nickel Belt will recall, because he told me on that occasion he had not seen me so exercised in this House as when the government brought in that legislation. I opposed that legislation vehemently. I thought that severely restricted the opposition and what it could do. I think, upon reflection, many in the party, and perhaps even at the time, disagreed with that legislation, because in opposition they now see how you people on the other side will apply those rules.

If you care about democracy, you won't pass this. That's strictly a majority government trying to shove it at the opposition and the people of this province. That's exactly what this bill does, and if you think that's going to enhance the atmosphere at the meetings of the House leaders, sir, you are wrong. I'll make sure that's wrong when you start pushing the opposition around again, just like Bill 26. You tried it, you have the people on the sidelines, the smart people of course, who advise, the unelected people, who say: "Oh, yes, we've got to have this. We've got to control the House. We know how to do it." That's exactly what this is about, a majority government trying to control the opposition. If you put this bill through, I tell you that you will not get any cooperation from other members of this House.

The Acting Speaker: The member for Welland-Thorold.

Mr Peter Kormos (Welland-Thorold): Thank you, Speaker. Did you think for a minute that I wouldn't want to talk to this bill? Boy, you could have bet your boots on it. Let me tell you, this is a pathetic and insincere and naïve bit of fluff. The reality is -- look, at the end of the day, you know what? If a speaker is an ass, one has to say the speaker is an ass. One understands that you'll get passed out for the day, but somebody has got to stand up and say it. If the Minister of Education is lying when he talks about improving the quality of education at the same time as he slashes transfer payments so that teachers are put out on the street instead of into the classroom, somebody's got to stand up and say, "You're lying." It's imperative that that be done.

If the Premier stands up and says that the slashing and cutting of assistance to the poorest, to our children doesn't impact on families and force children into the custody of children's aid and generate child abuse and hunger and fill our hostels in an unprecedented way with children, somebody's got to stand up and say, "You're lying." It's imperative that that be done, and if it means you forfeit your right to participate in the Legislature for the balance of the day, God bless.

I'll go one further. If this bill passes, what it means is you'll forfeit one day's pay. Listen. Principles can't be bought and sold on this side of the House. This government proves that Ontario once again has the best politicians that money can buy. They're prepared to sit there like sheep, silent, warming their seats. You want to talk about decorum? Talk about what their role is in this Legislature as mere backbenchers. Pierre Trudeau, some time ago, said that once a backbencher is but 15 minutes away from Parliament Hill, he or she is a nobody. The fact is with this government, when they're sitting in their seats in the Legislature they're nobodies, because we know they don't make the policy. Tom Long and the Bay Street gang make the policy. The bond dealers make the policy.

We know these guys are here nodding their heads, following their marching orders, like little seals with the balls balanced on their noses, being whipped into shape in the most disgraceful way -- not an ounce of guts or courage among the whole gang of them to stand up and speak out when they're the ones who should be standing up and saying to the Minister of Education that he's lying when he talks about quality in education but at the same time withdraws funding so that teachers are out at the soup lines instead of in the classrooms teaching. It should be the Tory backbenchers standing up and telling the Premier he's lying when he says his savage cuts -- all in the name of a tax break for the very wealthiest, for the rich of this province -- his tax cuts aren't going to impact on our kids and on our poorest and on our sick and our parents and our grandparents.

What these folks don't understand, you see, they've never looked up and seen that there's an owl up there to remind the government to exercise wisdom. Unfortunately, the myopia present in the government benches has precluded them from ever seeing that owl. We look to the eagle, which encourages us to show courage and tenacity. This opposition has never been confronted with a more formidable challenge than the right-wing hacking, slashing, axing of this government and, by God, no bill is going to undermine the courage of this opposition.


Mr Gerretsen: I concur with many of the comments that have been made earlier but I'd like to take a slightly different approach. There are 75 new members here and we all are concerned with what happens to school children and what have you when they come to this place, or when people watch this. The real problem with this bill is that it doesn't address the real issue here. The real issue here is how do we make the 110 people who are not in cabinet more part of the system, and I'm going to suggest something to you.

I'm going to suggest that you make a suggestion within your own caucuses, because you control the situation, whereby if a ministry wants to come up with a particular bill in a particular area, let it come up with some notions, some ideas, some legislative concepts, some general principles that it wants to employ; send it to a committee and have a committee of the Legislature, made up of a membership of all the parties here, come up with some drafts and actually go out and have meaningful public hearings, not on pieces of legislation that are already cast in stone, and then come up with something whereby we can all feel more part of the system. That's where the real problem lies. It's only if something like that happens, when we bring this institution into the 21st century, that you will see some real, meaningful changes here. What you've got here is plain motherhood.

The Acting Speaker: The member for Durham Centre, you have two minutes to reply.

Mr Flaherty: The member for Algoma-Manitoulin began by saying he would not support the bill. He said we should be concerned that the standing orders, since they were changed, made misbehaviour more common in the House. The main standing order amendment was made in 1970. The list of reasons for suspension since then of the 68 members is: flouting the authority of the Speaker; refusing to stop speaking when asked; unparliamentary language; refusing to resume seat when asked to do so; and refusing to vote. With respect, sir, I don't think the people of Ontario consider that to be acceptable behaviour by those 68 members who have been suspended over that period of time.

The member for Cochrane South says that from 1990 to 1995 the Conservatives, in opposition, misbehaved a great deal. The actual numbers for 1990 are 10 Liberals suspended, eight NDP members, who were the government at the time, and only seven Progressive Conservatives during this time when the member for Cochrane South says they were acting in such a disorderly manner in the House. His facts are wrong.


Mr Hampton: You had a Speaker who recognized that the opposition needs to be allowed to oppose, bozo.

Mr Flaherty: The member for Hamilton East says this bill sets a limit on an opportunity to debate. What does debate have to do with gross misconduct in the House?


The Acting Speaker: Order. If we were to abide to the topic being debated, perhaps members would be quiet.

Mr John O'Toole (Durham East): On a point of order, Mr Speaker: During the speech of the member for Durham Centre, the uproar in the House from the NDP member referring to the member as a bozo is a typical example of unparliamentary behaviour, and someone who from Rainy River is seeking the leadership is exemplary of misbehaviour that the member for Durham Centre is trying to address.

The Acting Speaker: Here's a typical example where when there's so much noise the Speaker can't hear. I didn't hear what he said. However, if the member has said a word which is insulting to the member for Durham Centre, I would ask him to apologize.

Mr Hampton: If I insulted the member for Durham Centre, I apologize, Speaker, but I find this bill quite offensive.

The Acting Speaker: Unfortunately, there's no time left. The time allotted for the first ballot item has expired.


Mr Sergio moved second reading of the following bill:

Bill 29, An Act to provide for Fair Automobile Insurance Practices / Projet de loi 29, Loi visant à prévoir de justes pratiques en matière d'assurance-automobile.

The Acting Speaker (Mr Gilles E. Morin): Pursuant to standing order 96(c)(i) the member has 10 minutes for his presentation.

Mr Mario Sergio (Yorkview): I'd like to speak on this particular bill and the heading of the bill practically says the whole thing. It is to bring fairness and equity to certain sections of the insurance system as we know it today, a system that penalizes good drivers, drivers that have had a gap in insurance, gaps for a period of time, or drivers who have had coverage under someone else's insurance policy.

Under our present insurance system, every driver is required to have insurance. There is a particular form of coverage where the uninsurable, if you will, drivers with a terrible record, cannot seek insurance under the normal system, normal ways, under normal rates, they have to seek coverage or insurance under the Facility term or Facility Association type of insurance as we call it. That is the form of insurance where people who cannot obtain insurance through any other form or under reduced rates have to seek insurance.

My two main points of the bill address inequities with respect to the Facility sections of our insurance system. The Facility insurance system was created with a mandate to insure solely the riskiest types of drivers, those for example who have had some serious major accidents, at-fault accidents, major traffic violations, or through Criminal Code offences.

In 1993, the insurance industry, in order to reduce the enormous amount of insureds through the Facility, created a risk point system, a risk point system which, by the way, did not necessitate the approval of the Legislature, the approval of this House. It was a system which was devised by the insurance industry, was sought through the Ontario Insurance Commission and approval was obtained by the Ontario Insurance Commission.

In the spring of 1995, last year, the insurance industry said, "Well, we feel according to our own statistics that the majority of accidents are caused by new drivers, and therefore we have to amend the point risk system as they were introduced in 1993." Changes, amendments, again were sought without the approval of this House, and approval was given by the Ontario Insurance Commission last year in May.


My bill addresses two particular concerns emanating from the risk point system. That has to do, as I said before, with drivers who have had a gap in coverage or drivers who have had coverage under someone else's insurance. This has nothing to do with insurance rates themselves; it's how drivers are rated. That's where my bill tries to address the inequity within the system as we know it today.

For example, if someone has been out of work for a period of time -- a year, eight months, a year and a half or so -- or has been out of the country for whatever reason, or does not have a car for a period of time, they should not be penalized. The way the system is at the moment, they are assessed if they cannot provide proof of coverage for 12 months during the last 24. They are automatically penalized, thrown into the risk point system, allotted four points and assessed through the Facility Association at a much higher premium.

The same goes for someone -- it can be a member of your family, a daughter, a son, still going to school, going to college -- perfectly okay to drive. It is not abnormal to have an 18-year-old, a 20-year old kid today -- they're a kid no more at 18 or 20, but we call it such -- driving to the family cottage or going on a vacation or going to work or picking up another member of the family to and from work, and having done so for a number of years. So what happens now that they may be joining the workforce? They're out of school. They may be buying their own car and they may be seeking to purchase their own insurance for the first time.

This is the other inequity the bill tries to address: If a driver has been driving with a good, clean record for a number of years under someone else's policy, he or she should not be assessed as a new driver. My bill is trying to address that particular point, that if someone has been covered, insured under someone else's policy with a good, clean record for a number of years, that record should be taken into account and he should not be assessed the four-point system and be thrown into the Facility Association at a very high risk and a very high premium.

Lately, we have seen plenty of articles like this with horror stories about what's happening in the insurance industry.

The system provides for some flexibility, and the Ontario Insurance Commission recognizes that and agrees with that, but unfortunately that flexibility is not being used. So what happens? Too many people, being good drivers, too often are being penalized. These are some things I'm trying to address in this particular bill.

The third thing the bill is trying to do is to have, through the Ontario Insurance Commission, a review when some particular driver is being thrown into the Facility Association, to take another look, to correct the above inequities, perhaps through a hearing where the decision of the Ontario Insurance Commission would be final.

Also, it's a case where we are saying there is no particular system of education, neither for the drivers nor for the insurers out there. We have said we have to make the system more open and more easily understandable by those people seeking coverage.

I don't think it is fair that we can assess a particular driver who has had a speeding ticket through a school driving area or for failing to yield the same as someone who has received an offence under the Criminal Code. They would be treated similarly, the same, being thrown into the Facility Association, paying an enormous amount of money. I think this is quite unfair. As I said before, it does not deal with respect to lowering or raising rates; it deals solely with how we rate drivers, especially good drivers with good records.

I would hope, just ending my 10 minutes here, that especially the members of the government side can see the importance of this matter and hopefully go along with it, as this affects every ordinary resident or constituent of ours. I hope I have support on this particular bill, as it alleviates many problems for drivers throughout Ontario.

Mr Peter Kormos (Welland-Thorold): I'm going to be speaking to this matter, of course, and other members of this caucus are going to be speaking to this matter as well. I'm quite pleased that Mario Sergio of Yorkview has had the insight that has permitted him to bring this bill forward. I wish he had been here, though, as a member of the Peterson government when it rammed Bill 68 through the Legislature.

I used to, and quite accurately, indicate that the Peterson government was in bed with the auto insurance industry. Those guys, with Bill 68, were so deep in the back pockets of the insurance industry, they were spitting out lint. But then I realized, if they were in bed with the industry, it surely wasn't just a queen-sized bed, it was a king-sized bed. I voted against Bill 164, and I realized it wasn't just Peterson in bed, but it was in effect a ménage à trois. Now, after listening to the Tories' purported reform -- reform, my foot -- I realize, is there such a thing as a ménage à quatre? I suspect in some jurisdictions it's illegal. I'm not about to pass judgement on the morality of it, but I know that there are people here who could indicate whether the morality sections of our Criminal Code permit or prohibit that type of enjoinder.

The insurance industry has been and remains the poor country cousin of the legitimate corporate world. The insurance industry has short arms and deep pockets. The insurance industry continues to abuse consumers, premium payers and indeed victims. Now that they've got a government that is so slavishly committed to doing their bidding, we are going to see an increase yet in the enormous profits enjoyed by the industry historically pursuant to Bill 68, which was like a dream come true. Bill 164, to be fair, in some respects tuned up the industry a little bit but certainly didn't propose the real response to this.

I know that the member for Yorkview, Mr Sergio, will be assisting the next government in implementing a public automobile insurance system here in the province of Ontario, recognizing that that's the real answer, that the private sector is as selfish and as greedy and as nasty and as underhanded and as abusive as any industry could ever be. They cry crocodile tears about the prospect of being put out of business by virtue of a public auto insurance system, the kind of system that Tommy Douglas introduced in Saskatchewan, that was emulated by New Democrats in Manitoba and then, of course, by Dave Barrett's government after his election in 1972 in British Columbia -- the ICBC, surely the most successful of public auto insurance systems in Canada.

The real response is to take these guys, these Tories, out of the back pockets of that industry, haul them out of bed, at least pull the sheets back so that we know who's huddled there in that lumpy form on top of the king-sized mattress.

The government proposes, as I say, reforms. They indicated consultation. Well, with whom? With the insurance industry. Some consultation. Can you believe it? You see, what the insurance industry does historically is that they high-grade, they cherry-pick. Now, the real victims here are not just the consumers. Brokers, which this government has been totally oblivious to -- there are insurance brokers in this province left with but one insurance company to sell product to their consumers. They're scared to death. They phone me and tell me, "Please don't identify me," because they know their business is all but gone, it's destroyed, should the public in their community, usually a small community, become aware that the broker handles only one insurance company. Because the insurance companies, the insurance industry, in their greed, in their outright selfishness, in their every intent to abuse the take-all-comers rule, have been using the brokers to do this cherry-picking, this high-grading.


This government isn't responding to that. This government talks about supporting small business. When they talk about small business, that's what they mean: small business. They're not talking about brokers, one- and two-person brokerages; they're talking about big insurance companies. Now, what's going to be remarkable -- because very soon we're going to have access to see who supported whom by way of the cash, the payola, the grease, during the period preceding the last election. Boy, did I have -- I couldn't say it was fun, but I took some great pleasure in seeing the huge sums of money that were pumped into Liberal coffers during the election of 1987.

You can bet your boots, you can bet your bottom dollar -- Speaker, you can count on it, and I can see you're acknowledging that this is the case -- that these guys, the Tories, have been paid off by this industry like no caucus ever has. I've never seen so many insurance brokers, ex-insurance people, in a given caucus. They knew something was coming down the line. They knew that payoff was there. The insurance industry uses Facility to high-grade. The fact is that Facility is poorly administered. The fact is that Facility --

Interjection: He just took a shot at you.

Mr Kormos: Did I take a shot at some Tories? You bet your boots I did. Lord love a duck. I wouldn't have not if my life had depended upon it. I would have done it even if I had to be thrown out for the balance of the day and forfeit my day's pay. It would have been worth it, let me tell you. It would have been money well spent. Because if anybody has to have a shot taken at them, it's these guys. You know it.

What an incredible abuse they've demonstrated, and a disdain for consumers in this province, a disdain for drivers, a disdain for innocent victims, a complete failure to meaningfully effect reform in the insurance industry.

What they propose to do is create yet the fourth regime for victims: pre-68, 68, 164, and now the no-name, generic bill, as of yet unnumbered. The real challenge, you see -- because I had the pleasure of participating in the pre-bill hearings that Mr Sampson, as a banker type, led off as we purported to travel around the province. And I was pleased to have had the opportunity to pose questions. The problem is, the insurance industry, it isn't ad idem. They haven't got their act together themselves. You've got Royal Insurance saying one thing; you've got George Cooke -- boy, George Cooke, Dominion of Canada. Has he been around the lot a few times. He started with the Liberals back when they were ramming the first piece of insurance garbage down the throats of consumers here in the province of Ontario and now ends up to be a well-paid -- well, Dominion of Canada do not belong to the disclosure requirements of schedule A, but George Cooke is doing just fine. But these guys can't get their own act together.

It's about time we had some real, meaningful reform. This is a beginning. Drivers who are being punished, beat up on, skewered by the insurance industry need a chance to effect an appeal. I'm going to be supporting this bill; you can count on that.

Mr Rob Sampson (Mississauga West): It's always a pleasure, and one that I've had numerous times since looking into auto insurance, to have an opportunity to speak to this particular topic, and more importantly to speak to this topic after the member for Welland-Thorold has spoken to the topic, because he continues to enlighten me on his views on auto insurance, frankly how they have changed over a period of time, as they have in the previous government, and I'll speak to that in a few minutes.

But I want to congratulate the member for Yorkview for bringing this very important topic to light, because it's something that I must say in the eight or so months of taking a look at auto insurance in Ontario I've seen come to light a number of times, and that is how one deals -- how the industry, frankly, deals -- under the structure that the government provides for auto insurance, with properly pricing the risks associated with drivers who have driving habits or previous driving habits that would demonstrate a higher propensity to get involved in an accident, because that's what they're doing when they assess the risk.

It's to a large degree -- and the industry shudders a bit when I say this -- a gambling process. They're on one side of the table saying, "I'm betting that you won't get involved in an accident," and you're on the other side saying, "Yes, but if I do, you had better be there to pay for the expenses." So the industry is given the tremendous challenge of trying to understand exactly what the propensity for one to get involved in an accident would be, and that's difficult to do.

I want to talk briefly to the risk point system, because despite of the meanderings of the member for Welland-Thorold on this subject, that's really what the purpose of this particular bill is: How does one deal with the risk point system? Really, if I can, the member's bill focuses on those particular drivers who have had lapses of coverage, so it's a very, very small component of the general higher risk category.

I want to make sure it's clear to the members in this House that the scheme put in place to deal with high-risk drivers was not one, as the member for Yorkview said, that was crafted by the industry. It was a response by the industry to government's pressure to deal with the fact that there was about 5% of the driving population of this province in the high-risk driving category, in the category that had generally very high premiums.

By the way, 5% in North America is way below average. If you were asked the question, "How many of the driving population do you think are truly high-risk drivers?" I would say that generally people would come back and say 5% is a fairly low number. But the previous government, under the pressures to deal with rate increases, went to the industry and said: "Five per cent is too high. Get that number down." They were told to depopulate the high-risk pool, as it's called.

How did they do that? Well, they created another system called the risk sharing pool, which I suspect some of the viewers today may be in but don't know it. And why don't they know it? Because they've been assessed as having high-risk driving behaviour but they're paying regular rates. You and I and most of the people watching on TV today are subsidizing people who have truly bad driving habits. That's wrong. That's what the previous government said was the solution to the high-risk driving problem, and that's not the way to proceed.

As I listened to Ontarians when we took our draft legislation across Ontario, many Ontarians came to me and said, "If somebody is truly a high-risk driver, they should pay the higher premium, no question." There was absolutely no question about that in many of the views of Ontarians I spoke to.

So while I would agree with the member's intention on this bill, that it's important to be able to get the high-risk drivers into that category and not people who really don't have high-risk driving experience, I must disagree with the methodology under which he's trying to achieve that objective.

I want to speak to the general problem as to why the methodology is wrong. I think, with due respect to the member, that what he's trying to do is treat the symptom and not the fundamental disease.


The fundamental disease in auto insurance in Ontario is that we have a bill called Bill 164, commonly called a no-fault plan, and the name "no-fault" is the biggest misnomer I have ever seen in any bill. This bill should have been called "everybody's at fault" because everybody pays for the high-risk driving characteristics and the accidents of those at fault. Everybody in the risk pool pays. You, I, the people on TV watching today pay for people who get involved in accidents -- some of them on purpose, by the way. That's wrong and that's what we've tried to fix with our draft legislation, and we're hoping to be able to make modifications on that draft legislation and bring them to the House to deal with the fundamental problem in auto insurance: the product design. We can deal with the symptoms but that's not the solution; it won't solve the problem.

What we have today is an auto insurance plan that the industry does not want to aggressively write in Ontario. The member for Welland-Thorold spoke very eloquently about some brokers who have only what's called one market left. Now a market is basically an insurance company to send clients to, the insurance company to write the business. And you're right. He's right. Some brokers do only have one market. That market is the Facility market. Why? Because companies don't want to write in Ontario. They don't want to write auto insurance, they don't want to underwrite auto insurance in this province, because it's too expensive to guess wrong.

Lotto 164 is not an auto product; it's an entitlement product. If we want an entitlement product in this province, it's going to cost a lot of money, rates are going to go up year over year, and that in fact is what we have seen under the regime of 164 in Ontario. It's the wrong principle for insurance. It's not working, it won't work and needs to be fixed, and we will fix it.

Before I close, I want to say that the other reason I must vote against this particular legislation is that it encourages the Ontario Insurance Commission to get into the business of auto insurance. It's one small step towards the end objective that my friend from Welland-Thorold would love to see, which is public auto. I'll tell you, if the previous government's capabilities in dealing with public disability insurance, as demonstrated by the Workers' Compensation Board experience, is an example of how they think public auto would work, I don't want it and neither does the rest of Ontario, because we're not going to pay through the nose for a system that is an entitlement system, not a true auto insurance product.

Ontarians need a solution to the problems of auto insurance. We will deliver that. That solution is not further red tape, that solution is not one more step towards public auto, and that solution is not dealing with the symptom; that solution is dealing with the fundamental problem of auto insurance. There needs to be a fundamental redesign. We need to return auto insurance to a program of, "What was your loss? Here is your recovery," not, "What have I been entitled to as a result of the accident?"

Mr Bruce Crozier (Essex South): Mr Speaker, the previous speaker almost lulled me to sleep, but I have a great deal more respect for him than that.

When I first came to this Legislature a couple of years ago, a number of people asked me why I would ever consider going into politics full time. Notwithstanding what's gone on this morning, I told them because I was in the brokerage business, that it's better than being an insurance broker, because these are difficult times when it comes to auto insurance. Governments have tried to solve these problems and are continuing to do so.

This morning I want to take my few minutes not necessarily to talk about the insurance companies' problems, and I don't want to talk about those who have bad driving records and who deserve to be in the Facility Association. Many of them have suspended licences. They don't deserve to drive at all. I want to talk about those people who are caught between a rock and a hard place. They have outstanding driving records. Many of them have come to me both since I've been a member and previously, when I was in the insurance business, to say, "I've been a good driver for 30 years and now they're treating me not only like a new driver, but they're treating me like a driver who has a bad record."

That's what this bill addresses. The government will tell us it doesn't solve the problem. Rarely do we ever have legislation that solves all the problem, but while we're taking time to do that, there are a number of people in this province with good driving records but it so happens that for various reasons -- some being out of the country serving our country, who come back -- they're treated like a new driver or a bad driver.

Certainly in this pamphlet that's given out, You're in the Driver's Seat -- I think it's misnamed. I don't know who's in the driver's seat, but certainly the insured of the province of Ontario are not in the driver's seat these days. It says at the outset on this, "In Ontario, the Compulsory Automobile Insurance Act guarantees that all owners and drivers of automobiles can obtain the insurance they're required to carry by law." What it doesn't say is that you're able to get insurance at fair and reasonable cost. I think it should.

In this case, this private member's bill I want to support maybe is an interim solution, but let's address these one at a time, and what's the harm if we pass it and we help some of these people?

A driving record can be checked through the MTO and if a person has driving offences during that lapsed period of time, then that should be taken into consideration and perhaps they should be in the Facility Association, but if there's no evidence they have a poor driving record, I think it's incumbent upon the insurance companies to take some of that risk they're being paid for and give the intended insured the benefit of the doubt.

The other problem that's created is that there are a number of brokers in this province who don't have standard insurers in their portfolios. It may be only the Facility Association they can go to. Frankly, they neglect to tell these intended insureds that there are other options and that they can go to other insurers or other brokers. I think that's a problem we have to address.

But here we're talking about a group of people who, as I said at the outset, are between a rock and a hard place. Let's give them the benefit of the doubt while we're taking time to try and solve the whole question. I certainly think this bill is good in its intention. It goes one step towards solving the problem we have and I would ask that the government consider supporting it.

Mr Gilles Bisson (Cochrane South): I will say up front that I will support this bill because I too believe it is a step in the right direction. I agree with many of the speakers prior that there are a number of difficulties in the automobile insurance sector. I certainly would like to see a lot of them fixed, but I support any step we can take forward in the right direction to assist some of those people out there who, quite frankly, are really put behind the eight ball because of the present rules on the Facility Association.

I just want to say a couple of things in passing really quickly about that. The reality is that the insurance companies in this province have a monopoly. They have a private sector monopoly by which they control how much we're going to pay for our insurance in this province.

Yes, there's competition and members will say that if I don't like the rate I can go from one company to the other broker to get a bid on another one, but the reality is it doesn't work that way. They're in collusion. They get together. They stick together to decide how much it is that a driver's going to pay for automobile insurance, and if you find yourself unfortunate enough to be in a situation where you might have a couple of demerit points on your licence because of a traffic violation, or you allowed your automobile insurance to lapse, when you go shopping from one company to another the insurance company says, "This is what you pay," and that's what everybody else has been asked to get.


I don't know how many people I've had in the riding of Cochrane South, from Matheson to Iroquois Falls to Timmins, who come to me and say: "Gilles, I was paying $550 a year for my automobile insurance last year. I ended up with a traffic violation where I got three demerit points and my automobile insurance has gone up to $1,900." That's a real, real shame.

It's not only because of the question of the Facility Association. There's the other issue that I think we need to deal with at one point, which is the question of surcharge. I was speaking to Lorraine in my riding just the other week on this very issue. She was driving down Algonquin Boulevard, turned left and happened to get into a fender-bender. There were no claims to the automobile insurance companies because it was a minor accident, but she was charged. She decided not to fight the ticket at the time because she felt: "What the heck? There's been no cost. It was not a big thing. I'm just going to pay the ticket and I'm not going to worry about it any more."

Her automobile insurance came due, I think it was on February 1. Because she was trying to pull the money together -- like lots of working people, she didn't have the bucks to pay, or for whatever reason -- she allowed it to lapse for three weeks. She went from $550 a year to $1,900. I think that is thievery, quite frankly. That is a darned shame. Then the government stands here and says, "We're going to fix automobile insurance." I really wonder if people like Lorraine are going to be properly served. I will support what the member is doing because I believe that in Lorraine's case she should have the ability to appeal. Right now, she doesn't.

I can appeal a decision when it comes to benefits, but I cannot appeal a decision when it comes to me, as a driver, being put into the Facility Association, or I cannot appeal if an insurance company wants to put a surcharge on my automobile insurance. I wish that would have been added into the resolution, but I support it anyway because you're going in the right direction.

This is a most unfair system of automobile insurance that we have. One regret I have, and I say it freely, is that I wish, as a government, when we were in power, we would have had the $2.5 billion that was necessary to set up driver-owned automobile insurance. I disagree with the government member who says, "We should not pool the rates so that we have a rate where everybody sort of subsidizes each other, so on average we have a lesser cost of automobile insurance to the driver." He argues the old adage of the Tory party: "I'm all right, Jack. Everything's fine for me and if I have a good driving record, I don't want to carry anybody else on my back."

The reality is, where you've got driver-owned automobile insurance, in provinces like Manitoba and Saskatchewan and British Columbia, they pay far less for automobile insurance than we do in the province of Ontario. I was talking to one of the members just a little while ago who says his daughter lives in Manitoba and is paying a little bit less than half of what she was paying when she was living in Ontario for the same coverage on automobile insurance. The reason is that system pools the risk among everybody, but also it takes out the competition you have between the entire private sector, where they're all competing against each other for the same customers. Time for another debate. We will come to that at one point. I wish we would have had the $2.5 billion that was necessary to set up driver automobile insurance. If there's anything I regret in our term in government, it's probably that one.

But I say allow people the opportunity to appeal the decision when an insurance company says, "I'm going to stick it to you," and you don't have a say about trying to do anything. What ends up happening is that, like Lorraine, you go cap in hand like a beggar from insurance company to insurance company and you say, "Please, Mr Broker," or "Please, Mrs Insurance Company, can you give me a better rate than the $1,900 you want to give me?" There's absolutely nothing Lorraine can do.

The cost of that is, I don't think Lorraine's going to be able to buy automobile insurance for the next year. Where does that leave her? She needs her car to get to work and to do the kinds of things we all do when it comes to transportation, especially in northern Ontario where you have to travel vast distances. She is, quite frankly, held for hostage. Either she's going to have to go to the bank and work out a payment arrangement with the insurance company or she'll be stuck. At least if she had the ability to say, "I want to appeal the decision of the automobile insurance company to the Insurance Commission on both the Facility Association issue" -- and I wish you would have added the whole question of the surcharges -- maybe Lorraine would get some justice. I support this bill on that premise.

Mr John O'Toole (Durham East): I rise today to recognize the member for Yorkview and Bill 29. On reading it, without having a great deal of insurance background, it appealed to me. I must admit that right from the beginning. It addressed the problem of a person's ability to question, through his broker, why his insurance has doubled.

In my constituency a couple of students who were studying overseas or were away, people who were in the armed services, and indeed single parents who because of changes in their lifestyle had come back into the insurance business found that their insurance was unaffordable, which meant the ability to get to school or to a job was impaired. So I had a great deal early on in my duty representing those people, finding out that it was because of this Facility Association clause that they had been dropped into this group and their premiums were subsequently changed to a higher level.

The member for Mississauga West addressed what I believe to be really most important as the root cause. The real high-risk drivers, those charged with impaired or other types of traffic offences, should pay the real cost of insurance. One of the problems with Bill 164 -- it was broken. Our government recognized that. We put Mr Sampson on the job. I have a great deal of faith that in his interim report we will address the problem. With all sympathy, I support the sentiments of the member for Yorkview, but I'm still listening to the full debate.

Mrs Sandra Pupatello (Windsor-Sandwich): I'm pleased to stand today in support of the bill that my colleague is forwarding regarding auto insurance. I think if any of us in the House has a look at our files back in our constituency office, when we look at the one issue we might get calls about that relates to auto insurance, this is indeed the issue. If some of the members who will hopefully assist in passing this bill today were to document the calls you get in your offices back home, you would see that this issue is probably the most prevalent. It's time that we address and say to our own people back home that the people in the House here at Queen's Park are listening. I'm very pleased that my colleague has come forward with this kind of resolution today to address that.

I want to tell you about an individual from my riding. His name is George Drew. It's the perfect case example, where in 1991 he was paying an insurance rate of $800, and almost overnight, after a lapse that didn't have anything to do with a driving record, his insurance suddenly went to $2,000. There are numerous cases like this that exist.

Now, in speaking to people who are in the insurance industry, what they do tell me, and I'm sure they've told the government members in charge of the report they've been drafting, is that the number of people who are in FARM, the Facility Association Residual Market, or in that facility bracket, has decreased dramatically. Nevertheless there is still an inherent unfairness in the system where individuals, for a variety of reasons, choose not to drive and therefore choose not to pay their insurance, and when they come back into the system, they find that all of a sudden they've been elevated and are paying huge amounts regardless of age, regardless of any change in the status of the driver. That is what is being addressed by this bill. Because of that, I think it's incumbent on all of us to support something that really will right the fairness of this issue.

When I talk to people at home, I've got about 1,200 people currently who are still interested in the issue of auto insurance. I remember clearly campaigning across my riding. When I'd ask them what really bothers them about government, it was that we have failed to address issues that mean ordinary people paying huge levels of fees for auto insurance.

When you get cases that are not fair, I think it's incumbent on us to change that. When the government member introduced the report, we were hoping this would have been addressed, but the reality is that it has not been addressed in the draft forms that we saw, and it should have been. Regardless of what the government members are going to do today with this bill, at least we think that by our pointing it out through this private member's bill you're going to have a revision and you will include it.

Indeed, even the insurance industry recognizes that they come upon cases that really are not fair for the drivers, whether it's people who go on sabbatical out of town for years at a time or a year at a time, or people who move to Toronto who decide a car isn't practical and then move back and need a car. Nothing in their driver status has changed and yet they're thrown into such enormous rate levels that it becomes unaffordable. I think we owe it to people.

Even the previous government sought to bring in a kind of system that would improve auto insurance, but they saw that their system simply wasn't practical day to day. Finally we have a member who is choosing to address this. Finally we have a member who even will allow an appeal process for people. There's a frustration for me and my staff, in working on these cases for the people in my riding -- we can call the Ontario Insurance Commission, we can call the companies, and at the end of the day they have their policies. At the end of it all they say that all companies have lapse-of-insurance clauses. I think that's where we have to step in and say, "Let's make it fair for people and let people have a place to go to correct it."

I applaud my member, and we want this bill to pass.


The Acting Speaker: Further debate? You have 17 seconds.

Mr Gilles Pouliot (Lake Nipigon): I thank you very kindly. So much to say about what's in front of us, yet so little time to do so. Members of our caucus, independent as always, will vote with their conscience. Having examined the written word, I for one will vote to support the bill.

Mr Wayne Wettlaufer (Kitchener): I would like to commend the member for Yorkview because I know that he has very commendable intentions with this bill. I will not defend the insurance companies' actions over the last number of years because I know there have been many actions which haven't been commendable on their part. However, I think what we have to look at here is why the factor exists that the member is trying to address: the interruption factor.

Why is someone forced to pay more because they don't have insurance for the previous year? It's not a penalty for lack of coverage. It is a lack of verifiable proof of coverage. That means there is no claims record, and that is the reason for that interruption factor in the insurance.

Also, it is not normal practice for insurance companies to treat an applicant as a new driver if that driver was listed as an occasional operator on another person's policy.

Mr Pouliot: Are you a broker? You're in conflict.

Mr Wettlaufer: Yes, to the honourable member, I was an insurance broker.


The Acting Speaker: Order, the member for Nipigon and the member for Welland-Thorold. I want to remind the members that when the Speaker rises, you take your seat.

Mr Wettlaufer: Thank you, Mr Speaker.

The problem with the insurance product today is what is causing the insurance companies' actions. We want to introduce an insurance product so that insurance companies want to write automobile insurance. We want to introduce an insurance product that insurance companies will compete for, something they are not doing now. We want to introduce an insurance product that the market will assess.

We don't want a product like OMPP that the Liberals had, whereby so many people were suffering. Independent, self-employed business people were not receiving proper coverage. Students were not receiving, were not eligible for proper coverage. Bill 164 was treated as cash for life by the average claimant. We cannot have a product like that any more.

We must introduce a product. That was the purpose of the public hearings we held for the last two weeks of February: to find out what problems the public was experiencing with the existing product.

I can assure you we heard all kinds of horror stories from claimants, from people who had been injured while the other two plans were in existence, Bill 164 and OMPP, and the stories we heard were only the tip of the iceberg. I can assure you, from my history in the insurance industry, all kinds of people out there have not been treated properly.

What we have to do is reach a compromise. We have to introduce a compromise product that the public will want to pay for what they also have to have. The insurance companies will provide a product which will be reasonably affordable.

Mr Kormos: You took a drop in pay when you came here, huh?

Mr Wettlaufer: Yes I did, as a matter of fact.

The member for Welland-Thorold talks about government plans. What about that $185-million fiasco ICBC had?

The Acting Speaker: Order. The member's time has expired.

Mr Rick Bartolucci (Sudbury): I stand in support of this bill. We've heard from the member for Kitchener what the insurance industry wants, but let's address for a second what the member, Mr Sergio, wants. All Mr Sergio wants is fairness for the public. He's only picking two aspects which aren't covered in the draft legislation and he wants fairness attached to them. As the member for Windsor-Sandwich stated earlier, your offices, as mine, have received numerous phone calls and letters with regard to fairness in auto insurance reform.

Let me just read part of a letter that was sent to Mr Sampson by Mr Arthur Slade, a constituent of mine. Although it doesn't deal with this, it deals with fairness, and that's what's important here. We must deal with fairness.

"Dear Sir,

"According to my insurance agent, I must have accident benefits coverage, at a cost of about $250/year, on each of my vehicles, even though I only drive one at a time. My wife does not drive, so 99.9% of the time, one of the vehicles is parked. I drive a combined distance of 25,000 kilometres/year, but it would be the same if I only had one vehicle. My second vehicle (the half-ton truck) may be used three or four times per year...but for those hours I should not be charged the cost of annual coverage."

He goes on to state the unfairness of this and asks Mr Sampson to be fair in his perusal of this letter and in his response. The key word is "fairness." We must be fair. What the mover of this bill is simply asking is that if someone has to lapse coverage for whatever reason, and that's going to increase more and more -- as the government puts more Ontarians out of work starting today, these gaps are going to occur more frequently. All that the mover of this bill is asking is that when the person can afford it or when he can find a job or when he's able to be insured again, he is treated fairly.

The second part of his bill is very straightforward and simple. He wants fairness for good drivers; he wants fairness for good young drivers. He feels, and I support this, that people who are considered occasional drivers should not be punished because they are being covered by someone else. Their good, their excellent, their above-average driving record must be considered when they have to pay the premium. That's all Mr Sergio is asking. Indeed, it's simple.

This bill deals with items that are not dealt with in the draft legislation. It's important for every member of this House to understand that this is not covered in the draft legislation, therefore it is important that in this draft legislation it be treated fairly. If we support this bill we are supporting fairness. In these two instances it is not out of line, it is not wacko; it makes great common sense because it's fair.


Mr John Gerretsen (Kingston and The Islands): I too join in the debate on this and would like to congratulate the member for Yorkview for bringing this matter forward. What is very interesting about this whole situation is that here we are at private members' time, when presumably partisanship is out the door, looking at real problems that people are facing on a day-to-day basis. The problems we've heard about from the member for Windsor and the member for Sudbury and Mr Sergio himself earlier are real problems that people are facing on a day-to-day basis.

I realize that this whole car insurance situation and problem have been with us for many years. I realize that the committee is working hard on it and the parliamentary assistant is working hard on it. This certainly doesn't answer all the problems he's dealing with. This is only part of the total situation as it relates to car insurance. But the point is, this is a start. This is a start to bring fairness to the situation and this is a start whereby at least the people of Ontario who are mainly affected -- and I hear it's only about 5% of the people -- will actually get some justice done.

I hope the backbenchers here on the government side, and particularly the member for Durham East, who spoke quite eloquently, can convince some of the other members to vote for this on a purely non-partisan basis, so at least there can be some justice done for the people who aren't properly protected at the present time.

I urge each and every member in this House, even the member for Wellington, who told his own Premier that he was reckless in trying to implement a tax cut -- this is once again an opportunity for him to show some independence and some real courage. Vote for this bill. I know the taxpayers of the province of Ontario who will be affected by this legislation will thank you for it.

The Acting Speaker: You have two minutes to reply, Mr Sergio.

Mr Sergio: I'm quite pleased to take the two minutes and respond to some of the previous speakers. I'm quite pleased, as a matter of fact, to hear that the members for Mississauga West and Kitchener are pleased with the intent of this proposed bill. What surprises me and makes me unhappy is to hear the version that, on a matter of principle, because it does not solve all the problems, they cannot support it.

Let me tell the members of this House, and especially the members of the government, that if there is one particular person in your constituency, in your riding, a member of a family in your own constituency who would benefit from the approval of this bill, then you have done your job and this bill has done its job.

I'm very disappointed to hear, especially from the member who has been conducting a study on improving the insurance system, that he agrees with the intent of this bill and he doesn't even give a chance to bring it forward, to discuss it further, to make better even what he is proposing, which by the way does not bring any solution.

The insurance companies themselves said that insurance premiums will skyrocket by as much as 40%. My bill has tried to bring equity and fairness to the system. It does not deal with insurance premiums. I'm not speaking on behalf of the insurance companies; I'm speaking on behalf of every constituent in your ridings. I appeal to your good common sense to bring some solutions to a specific problem. I do not intend to address all the problems. I'm trying to address a specific problem that affects a large number of our constituents. I hope they will see the common sense that is applied to this bill and I can have their support.


The Acting Speaker (Mr Gilles E. Morin): We will deal first with the ballot item standing in the name of Mr Flaherty. If any members are opposed to a vote on this ballot item, will they please rise.

Pursuant to standing order 96(e), the following members signified their objection to the putting of the question on the motion and accordingly the motion was not put:

Bartolucci, Rick

Crozier, Bruce

Laughren, Floyd

Bisson, Gilles

Gerretsen, John

Martin, Tony

Boyd, Marion

Grandmaître, Bernard

Miclash, Frank

Bradley, James J.

Hampton, Howard

Pouliot, Gilles

Brown, Michael A.

Hoy, Pat

Pupatello, Sandra

Caplan, Elinor

Kormos, Peter

Sergio, Mario

Churley, Marilyn

Lalonde, Jean-Marc

Wood, Len

Cooke, David S.

Lankin, Frances



The Acting Speaker (Mr Gilles E. Morin): We will now deal with ballot item number 20, standing in the name of Mr Sergio.

If any members are opposed to vote on this ballot, will they please rise.

Mr Sergio has moved second reading of Bill 29, An Act to provide for Fair Automobile Insurance Practices. Is it the pleasure of the House that the motion carry?

All those in favour will please say "aye."

All those opposed will please say "nay."

In my opinion, the nays have it.

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

The division bells rang from 1206 to 1211.

The Acting Speaker: All those in favour of the motion will please rise and remain standing.


Agostino, Dominic

Conway, Sean G.

Lankin, Frances

Bartolucci, Rick

Cooke, David S.

Laughren, Floyd

Bisson, Gilles

Cordiano, Joseph

Martin, Tony

Boyd, Marion

Crozier, Bruce

Miclash, Frank

Bradley, James J.

Duncan, Dwight

Munro, Julia

Brown, Michael A.

Gerretsen, John

O'Toole, John

Caplan, Elinor

Grandmaître, Bernard

Pouliot, Gilles

Castrilli, Annamarie

Hampton, Howard

Pupatello, Sandra

Christopherson, David

Hoy, Pat

Sergio, Mario

Churley, Marilyn

Kormos, Peter

Wood, Len

Colle, Mike

Lalonde, Jean-Marc


The Acting Speaker: All those opposed to the motion will please rise and remain standing.


Arnott, Ted

Gilchrist, Steve

Ross, Lillian

Baird, John R.

Guzzo, Garry J.

Sampson, Rob

Barrett, Toby

Hastings, John

Shea, Derwyn

Boushy, Dave

Johns, Helen

Sheehan, Frank

Carroll, Jack

Johnson, Bert

Smith, Bruce

Chudleigh, Ted

Klees, Frank

Snobelen, John

Danford, Harry

Martiniuk, Gerry

Tilson, David

Flaherty, Jim

Newman, Dan

Turnbull, David

Ford, Douglas B.

Ouellette, Jerry J.

Wettlaufer, Wayne

Fox, Gary

Parker, John L.

Wood, Bob

Froese, Tom

Pettit, Trevor


Galt, Doug

Preston, Peter


Clerk of the House (Mr Claude L. DesRosiers): The ayes are 32, the nays 34.

The Acting Speaker: I declare the motion lost.

All matters relating to private members' business have been completed. I will now leave the chair and the House will resume at 1:30 this afternoon.

The House recessed from 1214 to 1330.



Mr Alvin Curling (Scarborough North): When the Minister of Citizenship, Culture and Recreation tabled Bill 8, the act to repeal employment equity legislation, she said, "We will reform the Ontario Human Rights Commission to ensure that it fulfils its mandate to help victims of discrimination more effectively and more efficiently."

What has the minister done to reform the OHRC since passing Bill 8 into law last September? Nothing. There is widespread speculation that major cuts will take place at the Ontario Human Rights Commission. I understand that several hundred thousand dollars will be slashed from the budget of the commission.

I was surprised to hear this because I have a Progressive Conservative Party media release dated May 5, 1995, that states, "A Mike Harris government will reinforce the Human Rights Commission by using money redirected from the $9.3 million that will not be spent due to the cancellation of the Employment Equity Commission." The minister clearly has not kept her promise and she has not acted on this commitment. I urge the minister to act.

I have not seen any indication that she represents those people who are most discriminated against and have been subjected to many, many alienations in our society. When is this minister going to become the minister for human rights and stand up for the principles of those people who need protection most in our society?


Mrs Marion Boyd (London Centre): I'm happy today to be able to tell the Legislature and the people of Ontario about a conference that's going to be held this weekend in London at the London Convention Centre. It's an important conference. It's only the second year that it has been held. It's called I Have Something to Say. It is a symposium around the technology that is available to disabled people and their families to enable them to communicate and to be part of life.

This is an important occasion for people to look at the way in which technology can help people to become part of their community, access education and be more productive and more effective in their feelings about themselves.

Just two of the people who participated last year told their story in the London Free Press this morning, one an eight-year-old girl whose parents were told she could never go to school, who now with the aid of technology, a laptop computer and its software, has been integrated successfully into Ekcoe Central Public School in Glencoe. Another woman, Janice Janes of London, who has for 25 years experienced gradual deterioration in her ability to function physically because of multiple sclerosis, talks about the change in her life by being able to use the software and programs that she learned about at the conference last year.

I hope that people will attend this conference. It gives hope to those who are disabled and to their family and friends.


Mr Ted Arnott (Wellington): We in Ontario must continue to do all that we can to discourage smoking, especially among our young people.

In recent years, all levels of government have taken steps to discourage tobacco use, but if the past is a guide, this year in Ontario alone, 13,500 people will die as a direct result of smoking.

Clearly, more needs to be done. Today and in the future we must continue to be vigilant on this issue. Here are some ideas we should consider:

We could take further action to ensure that Ontario workplaces are smoke-free. If possible, the use of smoking areas which are separately ventilated might be a solution for some workplaces.

The federal government could show leadership by gradually reintroducing tobacco taxes. Low tobacco prices have been linked to increases in smoking rates. Among young people aged 15 to 19, smoking rates have increased an average of 9% from 1994 to 1995.

We could put a 1-800 number on all cigarette packages, which would direct smokers who want to quit towards the help they need.

We could enhance enforcement of the laws which prohibit the sale of tobacco to minors.

We could strengthen public education programs in our schools.

I strongly urge the government to review these suggestions so that we can take every step possible to discourage young people from starting to smoke.


Mr Pat Hoy (Essex-Kent): I want to read a couple of quotes: "Not one nickel will be cut from agriculture," and "No cuts to agriculture." These statements were made by Mike Harris and were repeated often by Tory candidates throughout the election.

Well, there is obviously no election on now. Twenty-six million dollars have already been cut and the minister has told groups to expect a further 35% cut to the ministry.

Agriculture and the food and beverage industry are second only to the auto industry in importance for the economy of Ontario. Although agriculture has a farm-gate value of $6.2 billion, it receives only one half of one per cent of provincial spending, and now this government wishes to further this unwarranted assault on the agricultural industry.

I say to this government, shame on you for breaking your promise, and shame on you for attacking such a vital part of our economic future. I urge the government to honour its commitment and ensure that agriculture will regain its fair share of provincial spending.


Mr Gilles Pouliot (Lake Nipigon): For the second time in this government's mandate -- the Tories sitting across -- there's been a direct attack on people with disabilities. Now the Minister of Municipal Affairs is proposing the elimination of building code requirements for barrier-free access, his philosophy being that barrier-free access is a regulatory burden on builders. Imagine.

This type of thinking is regressive and will trap individuals in their own homes, literally cutting them off from mainstream society. Any move this government makes to allow builders or developers to opt out makes the builders' and developers' role in society less reflective of the need of the marginalized and the most disabled, the people who need access the most.

In my great riding of Lake Nipigon, incidentally the largest riding geographically in the province, it is paramount that people who are physically challenged have access and can be able to take for granted what people in other parts of Ontario indeed do on a daily basis.

I urge the government to reconsider and not take us back to the Dark Ages, to involve what is at stake here, the essence of life and the human dimension.


Mr Derwyn Shea (High Park-Swansea): I rise to call to the attention of all members of the House that while many Canadians celebrated Easter last weekend, others who are members of the Eastern churches will observe this holiday this coming weekend.

Canadians of Ukrainian, Greek, Russian, Arabic, Ethiopian and other backgrounds bring their own colourful traditions to bear on a truly enriching, multicultural celebration of Easter.

Such fidelity to enduring and meaningful Easter traditions especially characterizes the Ukrainian community in my riding of High Park-Swansea. The Ukrainian experience of Easter is one which stands in awe of nature's cycles. It is also one which deeply appreciates, in political and national terms, the spiritual meaning of the resurrection theme. Following years of harsh oppression under the Soviet Russian regime, Ukraine underwent the suffering of its national crucifixion with patience and trust in divine providence.

The trust was finally rewarded on August 24, 1991, with the proclamation of a free and independent state, the joyous culmination of the testament of Ukraine's greatest poet, Taras Shevchenko, "Fear not, for the grave shall collapse and from underneath shall rise Ukraine -- and the children of slaves shall pray in freedom!"

On the great day of Christ's resurrection, I wish all Eastern Christians and my entire Ukrainian community in particular a happy and joyous Easter. I join with them in celebrating this great feast according to their beautiful rites and customs which are today the proud multicultural heritage of all Canadians. Krestos voskres.


Mr Dwight Duncan (Windsor-Walkerville): Later today thousands of our fellow citizens will find out that they no longer have a job. While most employers describe this experience, the experience of letting someone go, as the hardest thing they've ever had to do, this employer, the employer that will let these people go today, has had the unmitigated gall to celebrate.

The Premier himself today called this a happy day. How callous and insensitive can the Premier be towards the government's employees? The utter disdain for the lives of these people is amazing. The cold-hearted indifference to their families is astounding. On behalf of those families, thousands of families and thousands of individuals whose financial situation is about to be turned upside down, I say that gloating in the face of their personal tragedy is in bad taste.

Many people are describing this government as cold-hearted and cruel. What they've done to welfare recipients, what they've said, bears this out. Today, the Premier's lack of decency, his inability to be sensitive to those individuals and families, proves that the charges of callousness are right. Shame on all of you.



Mr Peter Kormos (Welland-Thorold): I want to talk about some very serious things that have been going on down in Niagara south. You know that 218 teachers from the Niagara south public board got their pink slips. They're not going to be teaching come September. They're not going to be in the classrooms there for the young people of Niagara south who are eager to get the sort of education their folks and grandfolks figured they'd be able to provide to those same young people.

I met with four of these young people because they're concerned, their families are concerned and worried. I met with Jennifer Barren and Jamie Treschak and Wesley Abell and Jami Langille, four of the leaders of a growing student movement that is going to fight and protest these unconscionable cuts by a government that simply doesn't give a tinker's dam about education. They picketed outside the Niagara South Board of Education office on Wednesday and they're going to be there, as am I with them, on April 16, when they address the Niagara South Board of Education at the public meeting.

I've also told those young people to bring their classmates, hundreds of them, bring them right into Queen's Park, because we'll fill these galleries and Minister Snobelen can, if he dares, look them in the eye and tell them why he's destroying their public education system and their future and the future of this province.


Mr Steve Gilchrist (Scarborough East): On March 29, the Ontario Science Olympiad was held at Centennial College in Scarborough. Schools from across the province were grouped according to their type of school. Joseph Howe Senior Public School, which I am proud to say is in our riding of Scarborough East, won for the intermediate level.

Daryl McCrossan, the grade 7 science teacher, had initially involved the students in Sir John A. Macdonald Collegiate's olympiad, held earlier that year. Teams of 10 students from Howe won this event, which entitled them to participate at the provincial level.

The Ontario Science Olympiad was divided into 15 events requiring a variety of skills. Students from Howe took five first-place and five second-place medals out of the 15 events. Members of the team and Mr McCrossan indicated that they have an abundance of the most important skill, the ability to work cooperatively.

The next step for this team is Atlanta, Georgia. On May 17 and 18, they'll be representing Ontario and possibly Canada in the National Science Olympiad. They'll compete against state teams from across the United States. The immediate hurdle for the team is to raise funds to cover the cost of transportation and accommodation, but I'm sure that Scarborough East residents will help them in that goal.

I'm very pleased to stand before the Legislature today and congratulate the students and staff at Joseph Howe Senior Public School for achieving this great milestone. Understanding science at a young age is crucial to the nurturing of tomorrow's scientists, who will lead Ontario and Canada into a new age of research and technology.


The Speaker (Hon Allan K. McLean): I beg to inform the House I have today laid upon the table the Nineteenth Indemnity and Allowances Report of the Commission on Election Finances.


The Speaker (Hon Allan K. McLean): I would like to inform the members of the Legislative Assembly that we have in the Speaker's gallery today Shile Develara, county Clare, member of Parliament from Ireland. Welcome to the Parliament.



Hon David Johnson (Chair of the Management Board of Cabinet): Today I wish to inform the members of this House of the government's progress towards changing the way the government of Ontario works by doing better for less.

Restructuring government is good for taxpayers and good for the people of Ontario. Doing better for less in government is a key part of our five-point plan to reduce costs, balance our budget, create jobs and restore hope and opportunities for current and future generations.

Last July we put the brakes on runaway spending. In November we outlined cost savings targets for ministries to achieve. We are meeting these targets and changing the way government operates by developing and implementing ministry business plans that are thorough and fair. Our business plans establish the core services that ministries should and can deliver over the next two years. They will incorporate results-based performance measurements to allow taxpayers to determine the effectiveness of these core programs and services.

As a general direction, we've confirmed our commitment to continuing the provincial government's role of setting standards and policy and ensuring these are enforced. However, we are moving out of direct delivery of services that can be done better by others. We are matching fees for services to their real costs and fostering self-reliance and more efficient use of taxpayers' dollars.

There has not been a restructuring of the provincial government on this scale for more than two decades and it's long overdue, as the deficit numbers bear out. Doing better for less is a work in progress and we want Ontarians to participate. Ministers and ministry staff will be sharing these new business directions with Ontarians who want to take part in reshaping their government. We are building a better government, one that provides the service taxpayers need at a price the taxpayers can afford by getting rid of waste and duplication.

Today I am providing the members of this House and the people of Ontario with a detailed progress report on what we have accomplished. This report shows that we are determined to spend taxpayers' dollars wisely and outlines many examples of how we are doing this.

For instance, we are streamlining provincial involvement in land use planning approvals. There are currently half a dozen ministries which comment on official plan amendments and other planning proposals. This is a matter of routine more than necessity. Each ministry has staff devoted to land use planning issues. We're putting that responsibility for this activity where the planning experts are: in the Ministry of Municipal Affairs and Housing, which will play the lead role in coordinating the provincial response.

The Ontario Provincial Police is another good example of what we're working towards. The OPP is cutting management layers from seven to four, reducing administrative centres by half and streamlining their dispatch system, closing three of 16 communications centres and reconfiguring the rest. The OPP is providing better service at less cost while protecting front-line policing.

Another example of streamlining is the Ministry of Consumer and Commercial Relations. The ministry is simplifying its fee structure in the area of technical standards, taking the 270 separate fees it currently charges and cutting those down to about 60.

Doing better for less means looking at what we do, what it costs the taxpayers for us to do it, and where the lasting benefits are. The business planning process has permitted the involvement of government caucus members in these decisions to an unprecedented degree. Committees of government MPPs reviewed ministries' draft business plans to add the local view to proposed changes.

Business planning is a different way to organize decisions about on what, where, and how government spends money. As part of this we identified areas where we could achieve cost savings. The report I am tabling today shows how this will be done over the next two years. I want to stress that the cost savings outlined are not additional reductions, but rather a progress report on what we have accomplished. There will be more decisions in the coming months. Today's report outlines areas where we are downsizing operations, saving money in administration, reducing waste and duplication, streamlining and transferring services, and taking a more businesslike approach to government.

Working towards the commitments made in the fall, the cost-saving measures being implemented will reduce the province's operating spending in this fiscal year by $1.2 billion. This grows to a total of $1.6 billion in 1997-98.


We've also reviewed our capital programs to focus on core activities and achieve efficiencies. This will mean cost savings in the order of $700 million in each of the next two years.

These changes will mean reducing the Ontario public service over the next two years by approximately 10,600 positions, of which 1,400 are currently vacant. I want to emphasize to the members that these are not all job losses. Some people will choose to retire, some will find other jobs and leave the Ontario public service and some will go with their functions when these are transferred to new employers. As I mentioned earlier, the government is committed to achieving additional savings and these will involve further downsizing of the Ontario public service.

Today's announcement reflects the directions taken in the ministries' business plans. Complete business plans will be published after the tabling of the provincial budget. In this way, we'll keep our commitment to make government more accountable to the people who pay the bills -- the taxpayers of Ontario. Our business plans are thorough and they are fair and they show we can do better for less.

The result will be more accountable, innovative and efficient government that is determined to spend taxpayers' dollars wisely, a key part of our plan to create jobs, hope and opportunity.

Mrs Lyn McLeod (Leader of the Opposition): If the minister and the government really felt that this was such a good-news announcement for the people of Ontario, they might have wanted opposition parties and media to have more than five minutes to look at it before we responded to his statement. I can tell you that in those five minutes we have already begun to see the impact of the kinds of cuts this government is making, the impact on services people need and the impact of these cuts on promises this government has made.

Just as one example, we noticed that there are some 682 positions being taken out of the Attorney General's department and there are some 568 positions being taken out of the Solicitor General's department. I wonder what happened to the Conservative promise that there would be no cuts to justice -- gone the way of no cuts to health care and no cuts to education.

Then we see that there are some 954 positions being cut from the Ministry of Agriculture. I seem to remember a promise that was made that there would be no cuts to agriculture in this province in a Mike Harris government.

We are just beginning to see the nature of these cuts and what they are going to mean. One of the other things we've seen in these few minutes we've had to look at the details of these cuts is that -- and I can't quite believe this -- there are, believe it or not, caucus, a whole host of new user fees. This is from the Taxfighter government. This is Bill 26, part II. Welcome to Mike Harris's Ontario, the home of the user fee. Once again, we have a government that pays for its tax cut by making people pay as they go, whether they can afford it or not.

I'm still not sure that I believe what I just read. I hope the minister will tell me this is wrong, but I think we have just seen an announcement that sole-support parents who are on welfare who would like to be able to go back to school to get the training they need to become independent, to have that independent life that the Minister of Community and Social Services and the Premier keep talking about, those sole-support parents on welfare, if they want to go back to school, will be cut off welfare and they'll have to get their support through the student assistance plan, which is already inadequate to provide support for students who are reasonably able to pay some part of their costs. What you are saying, if we read this correctly, is that sole-support parents on welfare have no hope of going back to school and achieving lives of independence, which your government talks about so frequently.

I think that's just another example we see in this statement of Mike Harris's Ontario, where the most vulnerable get trampled in order to find the dollars fast to pay for a tax cut. Even the 10,000 jobs, which could have been achieved easily through attrition, are not going to be done that way, because this government is in such a hurry to find its tax cut in the next two years that it is going to put people on the streets without work. They are not choosing to retire. This is the cold-hearted face of Mike Harris's Ontario.

Mr Joseph Cordiano (Lawrence): I'd like to quote the last part of the statement, which says, "a key part of our plan" is "to create jobs, hope and opportunity." Nowhere in this document are those words going to be the truth. In fact, there is no hope, there is no plan to create jobs; there is no plan to create any opportunity for anybody. It's a litany of user fees; this document is replete with whole new user fees.

In addition to that, they have broken a litany of promises made during the last election campaign again and again. The key areas they said they would not touch -- agriculture, education, health care, law enforcement -- they said they would not touch those areas, and what do we see today? Nothing but cuts all over the place in those key areas; jobs lost in those key areas. In community after community there is going to be suffering. In community after community children will continue to face the wrath of this government. It's not good enough for the minister to stand up and say that there will be a better tomorrow for all of those children. There isn't going to be that. User fees are the order of the day. If you want it, you're going to have to pay for it in Ontario, and this government is going to make you pay for it in a way unseen in the past.

Mr Tony Martin (Sault Ste Marie): This is not a recipe to create jobs and restore hope. What we have here is a job-killing disaster, and we still don't have all the details. No one is thanking this government for anything it's doing, nor will they. They're taking us down the road of some of the American states where poverty and crime are now the order of the day.

The Chair of Management Board today has effectively delivered his first budget. What we saw today would normally be a substantial part of the government's budget speech, but of course the government is saving this year's budget for a special event: the tax cut for its wealthy friends. It doesn't suit this government's purpose to let the people see the connection between the reckless tax cut and all the damage that will be caused to communities and government services right across Ontario.

For example, the Ontario Training and Adjustment Board is being abolished. What message does that send to Ontarians who are being laid off in the public and private sectors -- 10,000 in the OPS, 10,000 in the schools and thousands elsewhere? Nothing in today's announcement will create one job or hope for the people of this province.

For farmers, this is just the latest insult. In the Common Sense Revolution the Tories promised no further cuts to agriculture. Today's announcement brings total cuts to farmers in this province to over 30%. Farmers say the government is sacrificing their ability to compete.

Also sacrificed to the tax cuts are Ontario's first nations. The government is wiping out funding for the Statement of Political Relationship and slashing capital spending and operating grants for aboriginal communities.

I doubt the Chair of Management Board has any idea what the ultimate effects of today's cuts will be, not just for farmers and aboriginal peoples, but on large and small communities everywhere in Ontario. His government has refused to look at the obvious, refused to do any impact studies that would show what a disastrous path we're heading down. The government is even refusing today to release the business plans we all need. It only made public today sanitized summaries. What are you hiding?

The government tries to picture its slash-and-burn agenda as a valiant deficit-cutting attempt, but Ontarians will not be fooled. When the time comes to announce the multibillion-dollar tax giveaway, they will see what is really behind today's cuts in jobs and services.


Will the government's wealthy friends be content with the tax cut? We doubt it. The wave of privatization this government is planning will be producing healthy profits for somebody, and people will be watching carefully to see who those people are. We don't think most Ontarians are going to benefit from the privatization of Ontario Hydro or TVO or hospital laboratories or many other services for which they'll be paying new or higher fees to cover these profits. After all, there's only one taxpayer. That same taxpayer also pays the fees that will be charged by the profit-making companies that will be moving in to snap up Ontario government services being privatized by this government.

It's amazing that the government thinks today's trick is going to work. The government figures that by next month, when the budget is finally tabled, Ontarians will have forgotten all about the slashing and job losses that are paying for this damaging tax cut. But people will not be fooled. They will see these cuts for what they are: the reckless fulfilment of a campaign tax promise that should never have been made in the first place.

Mr Bud Wildman (Algoma): Last week, when we raised questions in this House about the business plans being prepared by each of the ministries in the government, we were told the business plans had not been approved and no decisions had been made. Now we're told that in fact the business plans are in place, they have been approved, but they remain secret. All we get are synopses, cleaned-up summaries of what the business plans are.

When is this government actually going to come clean and make it clear to the people of Ontario what exactly the ramifications of the downsizing and offloading that you're proposing are going to be for the communities across Ontario? When are we going to know how much people are going to have to pay for services that have been provided for years free of charge and paid for through the tax system in this province? Why are you trying to make so much profit for your wealthy friends in addition to the tax cut that you're going to be promising them and giving them in the next budget?



Mrs Lyn McLeod (Leader of the Opposition): My first question is to the Chairman of Management Board. I want to preface my question by indicating that I think there is a fairly general agreement that we can have a more efficient and therefore a smaller public service. During the recent strike by OPSEU, I think we know that the OPSEU members understood and accepted that fact. Certainly, we in the Liberal Party agreed with that, which is why we had proposed an overall reduction of some 12,000 people in the public service over the course of four years. But I think there is a way of doing this humanely and there is a way of doing it with a bludgeon. This government, once again, has chosen a bludgeon. What they have announced is an attack on jobs and on services, and it is indeed the cold-hearted, mean face of the Common Sense Revolution.

In our discussions with Management Board staff, they have told us that some 3,000 people a year leave the public service through attrition. That means, with a very simple calculation, that this government could achieve not only the targeted cut of 10,000 positions, but even its larger target of 13,000 positions, through attrition over the term of its government. Instead, they are rushing through with slashing jobs and literally putting people out into the streets. That is for one reason and one reason only: It is to pay for a tax cut that benefits the wealthiest people in this province.

Minister, will you acknowledge that every one of those 10,000 jobs could have been reduced from the public service through the process of attrition, and the reason you are doing it in two years and laying people off to do it is because you need money fast to deliver a tax cut in the next two years?

Hon David Johnson (Chair of the Management Board of Cabinet): As the member opposite has indicated, there will be a reduction in the civil service over the next couple of years. I outlined today some 10,600 positions. The business plans are not completely finalized. There'll be more decisions to be made and there'll be more positions which will be announced. Some of those positions are vacant, as I indicated earlier today -- some 1,400. Some of the people will be leaving as a result of an unreduced early pension, for example, perhaps 10% of the staff in that regard. Some of the staff will be redeployed to other positions. And indeed, some of the staff will go as a job is privatized or outsourced; some of the staff will stay with the job and go to a new employer. So it's not as simple a matter as 10,600 people being laid off.

But I will say that this government has been put in a position because of the last 10 years of spending by the party associated with the member opposite, by the deficits associated with the previous government, some $100 billion worth of debt.

This government, on behalf of the people of Ontario, to deliver the services the people of Ontario need, has to move and move quickly, to make the government more efficient, to deliver the services more effectively, to deliver the services at a lower cost, to do better with less. Private businesses are doing this. The federal government is doing this. About five provinces in Canada have balanced their budgets. It's time for this government to do better with less and make government more efficient in the province of Ontario.

Mrs McLeod: I'm using Management Board officials' statements and their figures, and they tell us that the attrition rate is about 3,000 per year. That's really a simple calculation. That means that over two years, the two years you need dollars to pay for your tax cut, you would be able to reduce the size of the public service by some 6,000 people. I think you would have to agree that's a simple calculation. You're going well beyond that today. You're going beyond it by at least 4,600 positions. Those are 4,600 people who will not be, if I can borrow your rather cute-sounding language, choosing to retire. They are not people who are going to be voluntarily going to other jobs.

We have no indication that these people are going to go to other jobs created through your privatization plans, because we have no plans for your privatization. You haven't taken time to do any analysis of whether or not privatization is a good or a bad thing. In fact, you haven't even taken time to do an analysis of whether or not your downsizing will actually achieve a more effective and efficient civil service or just in fact be a loss of service.

I wonder if you have even taken the time, as a government, to look at the impact of these kinds of job losses on the economy of communities across this province. You're taking paycheques from about 10,000 families out of the economy in one fell swoop. I wonder if you can tell us whether you have indeed conducted any studies to measure the impact of these layoffs on the economy and what effect the elimination of these jobs will have on the economy of our communities.

Hon David Johnson: The member opposite has asked again about attrition. I would first of all point out that attrition across the whole civil service includes positions which are necessary for this government, protected areas such as health, law enforcement etc, that would have to be replaced. I think the member opposite would recognize that there are many positions which could be opened up as a result of attrition which would have to be completed.

Secondly, I would say that this exercise is not about the numbers in terms of job creation; this is about making government more effective, more efficient. Contrary to the member's opinion, the various ministries, the ministers themselves, the deputy ministers and the staff in each one of the ministries have sat down, studied, analysed thoroughly the impact of these changes on their ministries and they're convinced we can do better for less.

Ford, IBM, General Motors, the federal government, Alberta and various other governments have gone through the same exercise and have determined that they can deliver better services to their constituents, to their clients by going through this kind of exercise. This is what we've done. It's been a very thorough exercise. It's been a very fair exercise. I will assure the member opposite that it is this government's firm belief that at the end of the day, when this restructuring is in place, the people of Ontario will have better services and at a reduced cost.

Mrs McLeod: It is difficult to give credibility to any of the statements the minister makes when he tells us that there are protected areas, protected areas like justice. Minister, you've cut 1,250 positions from the Attorney General's and Solicitor General's departments. If that is a protected area, we can only begin to imagine what is happening in unprotected areas, in your government's view.

Our critic for agriculture, who will undoubtedly have significant concerns with this statement and this announcement today, described some of the minister's responses as bullfeathers; I think that is considered parliamentary language, and I think that's what we're hearing today, which is why I have to wonder about whether this is the end of the job losses or the beginning.


Minister, I take you back to the Minister of Finance's statement of November, in which the two-year cost reduction goals for internal government administration and government operations were 33%. Again in discussions with Management Board personnel, we determined that with 81,000 staff members in the public service, a 33% cut in payroll, which is where the primary bulk of the costs are, would mean a job loss of some 27,000 people. Are you telling us in your statement today that you now will not have to cut another 17,000 jobs? Will you assure us that there are no further job losses to be incurred as a result of further cuts and of your tax cut?

Hon David Johnson: I've clearly outlined that we are still in the process of creating the business plans to make sure we do deliver services most effectively and efficiently. I can assure the member that there will be further expenditure reductions and further reductions in positions within the civil service over and above what I have announced today.

I don't expect the member opposite to understand that, though, because the member was a part of a government which increased spending in the late 1980s by $10 billion over a three-year period. To a large degree this is the source of the problem we face today in terms of trying to make government efficient and effective.

The member opposite asks about the economy and the impact on the economy. What is most effective in improving the economy, whether it's in the large centres or small centres, is to have a restoration of confidence in the province of Ontario that this government can come to grips with its financial problems, that this government is looking at ways to eliminate the red tape and allow businesses to expand and to invest in Ontario.

That's what we're doing through these business plans. We're going to do better for less, we're going to encourage business, we're going to get out of the way of business and we're going to develop more opportunities for business in Ontario. There'll be more jobs and hope and opportunity for the people of Ontario.


Mrs Lyn McLeod (Leader of the Opposition): We will return in other questions to the specifics of the statements, but one of our concerns is that the job losses that have been announced today, and the minister has just indicated it's only the beginning of the job losses which he himself will announce, are part of a larger job loss in the broader public sector, which is why I'll direct my second question to the Minister of Education and Training.

I have some concerns about the way in which cuts are being made in accordance with the November financial statement and a particular concern as I look at the fiscal statement and the savings summary as they apply to schools. The targets in 1996-97, again in 1997-98 and in 1998-99 for cuts to education are an unchanging target of $400 million over those three years.

The actual full-year effect of the cuts which you have announced in education for public school boards alone is now $696 million. That does not include the cuts you've made to separate schools or to French-language schools. Your financial target, as clearly stated by the Minister of Finance, was a $400-million cut to education, to schools. Why have you cut education by at least twice that amount?

Hon John Snobelen (Minister of Education and Training): Our position on funding for schools in the province of Ontario is very clear. It has been very clear from the beginning of the formation of this government. We say that we want a higher-quality, higher accountability in our school system and a more affordable school system for the province. I think that's what the parents and the taxpayers in Ontario want and need.

We made an announcement on November 29 that we would reduce from next year $400 million from our GLGs. We've mitigated the effect on our operating side by having a one-year moratorium on construction and we're making announcements about our next year's GLG well in advance of the normal announcements so that school boards have a chance to adjust and find the savings in their systems that will reflect those changes and grants.

Mrs McLeod: Minister, what you say when you respond to our questions about how you are making these kinds of cuts without hurting classroom education is that you think the cuts can be made from administration, and you cite the Ontario School Board Reduction Task Force, which I'm sure you're about to do in the supplementary, so let me save you the trouble. Because one of the facts of the School Board Reduction Task Force is that when they look at the cost of education, they leave out things like school busing and school maintenance and adult education and teacher preparation time. I think surely something like busing students in rural areas to schools is something you would consider to be a legitimate cost.

That report also says that to get down to a cost of 40% of education dollars being spent on administration, you would have to take action by amalgamating school boards, reforming educational finance, bringing in provincial bargaining and paying 100% of all of the costs of provincial regulatory and statutory requirements, none of which you have done. What you have done is reduce the per-pupil grant, and this is for public boards alone, by some $32 million; junior kindergarten grants by some $145 million; adult education by some $150 million; transportation by $39 million; and the per-pupil grant by $163 million, as well as the moratorium on capital of $167 million. Minister, that is $696 million in cuts to public boards alone.

If you haven't made those cuts, tell us which cuts you haven't made, and tell us, when boards add to that the cost of the social contract and have to find $1 billion in cost reductions, where you think they'll find it without hurting classroom education.

Hon Mr Snobelen: The Leader of the Opposition has pointed out, and somewhat articulately, the fact that the Sweeney commission report indicated that there were valuable services that happen outside of the classroom. I think it's fairly obvious that transportation happens outside of the classroom. If it happened inside the classroom, it would make quite a mess.

To the Leader of the Opposition, there's no denying that some of these services are valuable. That's why the Sweeney commission report suggested that 40% of the $14 billion or so that's spent on schools in the province would happen outside of the classroom. The commission actually reported that it wanted to shrink from 47% to 40% and that that's the place those reductions should be made.

It's interesting, too, to point out that there are several other studies, all of which point to the fact that the taxpayers of Ontario are not getting the kind of value for their education dollar that they should get, that people in other provinces get. It's our intention to make sure they get that level of value along with the kind of quality our students expect and deserve.

Mrs McLeod: There's absolutely nothing real about that. That is sheer nonsense. You've just told us that because you technically don't consider transportation to be a classroom education cost, you technically haven't cut classroom education. You're just not going to make sure the kids get to school at all.

That is sheer nonsense, Minister, and that's the problem with every answer we get, because you cannot make these kinds of cuts without hurting classroom education. You cannot get from that 47% to 40%, which is based on 1994 data, without doing all of those things that this task force said you had to do, including paying 100% of statutory requirement costs. So let me tell you what is happening in fact because of your cuts.

Boards in Brant county, for example, are looking at layoffs of some 280 noonhour supervisors, but as well some 69 elementary teachers and 31 secondary school teachers. In the Carleton board they're facing layoffs of 450 employees. In Dufferin county they're expecting to lay off 30 elementary teachers and 20 secondary teachers; in Durham, 79 elementary teachers and they don't know how many secondary teachers; Essex county, 59 teachers expected to be laid off; Frontenac county, a potential of 300 layoffs; Lincoln county, 210 teachers, 20 plant staff, 30 support staff; Niagara, 280 employee layoffs expected; Sault Ste Marie, 65; my board in the Lakehead, in Thunder Bay, 200 teachers and maintenance staff to go.


That is just a partial list, a partial list that shows that we expect to see about 2,400 positions, including primarily teaching positions, lost in just 14 of 168 boards. Do you still stand up and say that your cuts are not hurting classroom education in this province?

Hon Mr Snobelen: Let me assure the leader of the opposition party in answer to her question -- and I'd like to repeat the answer I gave a member of the government the other day. I hope the Leader of the Opposition will take note of this response, because it'll be the same response the next time she asks this question.

This government understands the importance of the vitality and the energy young teachers bring to the classroom, and we know those teachers are vulnerable by some of the actions of the boards. The protection of those jobs, it seems to me and to this government, is a function of the negotiations between the unions representing teachers and the boards. That is their responsibility, the way we are currently structured, so we have encouraged them to enter into negotiations that will protect those jobs, and I expect that's what will happen in boards across the province.

Let me add this: I agree with the Leader of the Opposition. This government agrees that fundamental changes need to happen in the funding mechanisms and the governing mechanisms for education in the province, and we are committed to making those changes. That's one of the reasons we did not, for next year, announce on November 29 a billion-dollar cut in education but announced a $400-million reduction, because we know there are some changes that have to happen. In response to the requests from boards, we have mitigated the operating-side effect of those reductions, allowing school boards to find the savings by putting a one-year moratorium on capital.

Once again, I believe the people of Ontario not only understand that there are savings available in our education system but expect us to find and make those savings.

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

Mr Bud Wildman (Algoma): The minister can't get away with trying to blame the boards for his cuts.


Mr Bud Wildman (Algoma): I want to return to the announcement made by the Chair of the Management Board with regard to the business plans.

We know that the announcements made today are really made because of the commitment of the government to try and separate this announcement from the commitment that will be announced in the budget for a tax cut. You don't want people to make the connection between the effects on their communities, the loss of public services, the extra costs involved and the tax cut. You don't want to show damage to the economy.

Can the minister, since he's made this statement now, table in this House the impact studies the government has done on communities in the province of the new approaches announced in these business plans?

Hon David Johnson (Chair of the Management Board of Cabinet): Through the budget process and after the budget process, the member and all the members of this House will receive, as I indicated in my speech, the business plans. The reason for tabling this information at this time is that we are now embarking on the new fiscal year.

All the ministries have targets to achieve. The ministries need to get on with their business plans, with implementing their various projects.

In addition, the government of course gives grants and transfer payments to various partners, and the government wants to be open and honest in communicating with its various partners in terms of what their fiscal situation is. April 1, as the member opposite will know, is the start of the fiscal year. We have endeavoured, as early in this fiscal year as possible, to make as much of this information open and visible not only to the members of this Legislature and the people of Ontario but the various partners.

The member opposite will receive a copy of the business plans after the budget has been tabled.

Mr Wildman: The minister says he wants to be open and honest with the public. My question was exactly that. Is he prepared to table the impact studies that will show the impacts on the communities of the changes announced today?

For instance, if we look at the list, some of the worst areas for targeting by this government are the Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs, the Ministry of Natural Resources, and the Ministry of Environment and Energy, so much so that it appears it's going to be very difficult for this government to continue to protect the environment in this province.

Can the minister make it very clear to everyone in the province what the impacts are going to be for this area of government activity by tabling the business plans now so that we know the impacts and it's clear to everyone, rather than having to wait until after you've made your tax cut announcement in the budget?

Hon David Johnson: I wish to assure the member opposite again that the business plans will be tabled as outlined, in conjunction with and after the budget is announced. I also wish to assure the member opposite that the objective of this exercise is to deliver better services to the people of Ontario. I will say that in the ministries he has mentioned -- agriculture and environment, for example -- those ministers have looked at their core duties, their core responsibilities, their core objectives and have determined that they can meet those objectives, meet those needs of their constituents and will be delivering better services to the people of the province of Ontario.

Mr Wildman: This is very strange for a minister who says he wants to be open and honest. He's essentially announcing business plans today. He isn't prepared to give us the impact studies, if they've done any. He won't even give us the business plans he's announced for another month.

When you make the announcements in the budget for the tax cut, the wealthy people in this province who are going to benefit from that tax cut will also have the opportunity, I guess, because of these business plans, to make even greater profits at the expense of the people of this province because of your privatization plans.

Have you done any impact studies on what the privatization plans for the liquor stores or TVO or Ontario Hydro might mean in terms of increased rates and user fees for the people of this province? Are you prepared to come clean and give us that information now, rather than having to wait until after the budget a month from now?

Hon David Johnson: The summary of the business plans that is being tabled here today does not reflect any decisions with regard to TVOntario, with regard to the liquor board or with regard to Ontario Hydro. If that's the member's question, I can assure him that those three agencies, boards, are not involved in the summary of the business plans that is here today.

The business plans are an ongoing proposition and they're being developed. We are following the plan and the schedule we outlined to this House in terms of a reduction in expenditures. Those reductions in expenditures were announced last fall in the statement of the Minister of Finance. We said we'd report back to the House. That's precisely what we're doing today; we're reporting back to the Legislature in terms of the expenditure reductions we outlined last fall.

We've also said that we would bring to this House the business plans after the Minister of Finance has tabled his budget, and that's precisely what we're going to do. The process is open, the process is one we've outlined and we are following the process.


Ms Frances Lankin (Beaches-Woodbine): My question is to the Minister of Health. I find this quite interesting. Here we have the Chair of Management Board standing talking to us about the summary of the business plans and yet we're not going to get copies of those business plans. In fact, the summary of your ministry's business plan is quite interesting, not in what it says, but in what it doesn't say. Sources have told us that your ministry's real business plan includes details about plans you have to further privatize medical laboratory services in this province. Can you confirm that Dynacare Laboratories could stand to benefit from your plans to further privatize medical laboratory services?

Hon Jim Wilson (Minister of Health): I think if the honourable member looks at the summary that's provided today -- and the honourable member my colleague the Chairman of Management Board is correct, the business plans are not completed in all ministries -- the summary that's provided is the same overview I've been giving in speeches for the past nine months. There is nothing new contained there today.

We have talked about highest quality, best price in all the services we've delivered. We've shown how that works with respect to dialysis services, acquired brain injury services and other reinvestment strategies we've made, which, by the way, are working very, very well since we announced and implemented many of those new services and expanded services over the past few months. No stone will be left unturned with respect to highest quality, best price.

Yes, we're looking at laboratories, we're looking at ambulances, we're looking at other services the ministry provides, but no decisions have been taken. We've been absolutely forthright and honest about this approach since day one in becoming Minister of Health in this province.


Ms Lankin: Interesting. My question was, can you confirm that Dynacare Laboratories could stand to benefit from your plans to privatize medical laboratory testing? You completely ignored that. Let me go on and ask you a little bit more about Dynacare, because I've spent some time reading a discussion paper which they sent personally to you, Mr Minister. It's very interesting reading: a lot of very strong arguments in which they advocate for much greater privatization of health care services, and a lot of interesting stuff. One of the interesting things they said is that they look forward to having a voice at Queen's Park.

They've backed that up with $4,000 in donations to the Progressive Conservative central campaign and a total of $3,000 to senior Tory cabinet ministers' campaigns, including yours, Minister, during the last provincial election. Do you consider it appropriate that Dynacare should stand to benefit from your move to privatization of health care services?

Hon Mr Wilson: Dynacare, MDS and many other private labs of which there are several dozen in the province are already, with or without this government, making arrangements to provide management services in Toronto Hospital and many other hospitals throughout the province. Sunnybrook hospital recently signed a deal with respect to that.

Again, highest quality, best price, full union cooperation with all of those deals, and they should be something that's celebrated by the honourable member and not condemned as we move towards greater efficiencies and our partners in the hospital sector realize the challenge they are facing and try to deliver services, maintaining quality and maintaining access to those services, but doing it at highest quality, best price.

With respect to submissions -- Dynacare's notes to me, MDS's notes to me, notes that the honourable member has sent to me, that the former Treasurer, Mr Laughren, has sent to me -- on behalf of public sector labs, I intend as part of the review we're undertaking of this sector to look at all of the representations we've received, both from the public sector and the private sector. Again, our policy of highest quality, best price will prevail in that review.

Ms Lankin: Minister, you said you think people should be celebrating; in fact I think Dynacare is celebrating right now. These are interesting words they use, that they look forward to having a voice at Queen's Park. It actually looks like they might have achieved that. It's our understanding that Sheila Corriveau, who is a public relations manager for Dynacare, started work in your office yesterday as your special assistant, communication.

This is all about who benefits and who hurts. Your government's plans for massive privatization of public services have nothing to do with what's in the best interests of the public you're elected to serve. This is all about who's going to benefit, your plans and your ministry, to sell off our public health care system to the private for-profit corporations, many of them coming up from the US, rubbing their hands with greed. This is all about lining the pockets of your obviously very close friends. How can you defend this?

Hon Mr Wilson: The accusation the honourable member is trying to make is simply ridiculous. The truth of the matter is that Mrs Corriveau knew my ministry for nine months has been looking for a communication assistant. It's one position we had not filled. She approached me and said she was available. I looked over her quality of work, I interviewed a number of people, and I think if you made the phone call to Dynacare right now, they're not very happy about Mrs Corriveau leaving their employ. She was a very valuable employee to them, and I'm very happy that she's joined our staff to fill a vacancy.

Secondly, it's extremely unfair of this member to say that because, for example, some of the government employees who will be laid off over the next few months as a result of today's development worked for the Ontario government, they can't somehow now go work in the private sector for firms that may deal with this government -- it's the same principle you're trying to apply in this case, and it doesn't wash. We hire people based on their quality and ability to do the job, and that is how Mrs Corriveau was hired in my office.


Mr Dominic Agostino (Hamilton East): My question is to the Minister of Community and Social Services. On page 10 of your Common Sense Revolution it says, "Aid for seniors and the disabled will not be cut." In the announcement made today, you have announced a cut of $11.1 million over the next two years in programs for people with developmental disabilities.

These are children who need stimulation because they're born with disabilities. These are children with multiple disabilities and handicaps. These are services to kids in their homes.

We're talking about adults with developmental disabilities. Life skills programs come under this area. Workshops for adults come under this area. Adult protective services come under this area. Respite services in the home so the families can get a break come under this area.

Can you tell the House today how you can justify these cuts to the most vulnerable people in our society when you committed that you were not going to cut one cent from the disabled? What do you tell those kids and those adults? If the minister knows the information, he doesn't need the Chair of Management Board to explain it to him.

Hon David H. Tsubouchi (Minister of Community and Social Services): First of all, I want to ask, in response to the member's first question, what in the heck he's talking about. We're not cutting services to the disabled. We have a clear strategy for reinvestment into the area for the disabled.

Mr Agostino: It is obvious you don't know, you don't understand your ministry and you don't have a clue how these cuts are going to impact your ministry. It is in your document: "Redesigning Services for People with Developmental Disabilities." Over two years, $11.1 million will be cut. You call it a saving. In reality it is a cut; $11.1 million in services for the most vulnerable children and disabled people in our society.

Do you understand this? Do you know what you have done? It is hard to believe that you're sitting there totally baffled by what is happening here. Trying to get an explanation from the minister that you don't know -- can you tell us again what the cut of $11.1 million means for people with developmental disabilities? How are they going to be impacted by this cut of $11.1 million?

Hon Mr Tsubouchi: Here we go again. The same member is continually trying to distort the reality, distort the truth of what's happening. I finally figured out what he's talking about, because the way he was talking about it, he was talking like we're cutting programs for the disabled. This is the only thing I can discern that he's talking about, that we are continuing and we're redesigning the services for people with developmental disabilities. This is a continuing commitment that was started not only under the -- actually, it didn't start under the NDP. It's been going on for a number of years, and this is the moving from institutionalization into the community-based services. Your government was a part of this and it continued on under the NDP.


Hon Mr Tsubouchi: In answer to the interjection by the Leader of the Opposition, this is clearly the same program that was contained under your government.

Mr Agostino: Read what's in front of you.

The Speaker (Hon Allan K. McLean): Order. The member for Hamilton East, listen to the answer.

Hon Mr Tsubouchi: The process is not a new process. It was started three years ago. Clearly what we're trying to do right now is reinvest into community-based services. I'm sure Mr Silipo would certainly indicate that's what he was doing as well. We're also going to be reinvesting all this money. What we're looking at as well is making sure we have a seamless delivery.



Ms Marilyn Churley (Riverdale): My question is to the Minister of Environment and Energy. Today's announcement lays the foundation for the government's privatization plan. During the last few months, we've seen almost nightly commercials on television against the government's plans to sell off some of Ontario's greatest assets, including Niagara Falls and Ontario Hydro, the LCBO and others, to the highest bidder. In view of your government's commitment to sell off Ontario's assets to your powerful corporate friends, can you assure the House today that the Ontario Clean Water Agency, which provides clean, safe, reliable water to thousands of Ontarians, will not be part of the great Ontario sell-off? Will you guarantee that OCWA will remain in public hands?

Hon Brenda Elliott (Minister of Environment and Energy): I thank the member opposite for the question. She's referring to the Ontario Clean Water Agency. This is an agency that was founded under the previous government to provide infrastructure funding and infrastructure itself to municipalities across this province. Since taking government, we have heard continuous complaints that this agency has not been able to fulfil the mandate it was originally intended to do. One of its key mandates was to encourage private sector funding in municipal sewage and water treatment. It has not occurred, and we will be looking at that mandate to see if we can improve upon that key mandate request.

Ms Churley: I believe the answer is that they are going to be privatizing it. That was an incredible answer. Do you remember the recent health problems in Collingwood? Somebody died. We're talking about safe, reliable water here, which is fundamental and basic to human health.

I have a press release here from the Ontario Sewer and Watermain Construction Association. In part, it says, "Any reduction in provincial funding for local water and sewer projects will seriously strain Ontario's already deteriorating infrastructure, threaten our supply of clean drinking water, increase emergency repair costs and drain jobs."

There are many communities across the province which require funds for new water treatment facilities. They don't have the money. Yet today you are announcing further cuts to the funds which municipalities rely on to ensure their safe drinking water. In view of your funding cuts, what assurances can you give us today that the necessary infrastructure improvements will take place to provide safe, clean water? Or, let me ask you again, are you simply going to turn it over to the private sector, throw up your hands and hope for the best?

Hon Mrs Elliott: I would like to assure all members of this House and all citizens of the province that clean, safe drinking water is a priority of this government. It is absolutely fundamental to this province and to this government's commitment to its citizens.

Firstly, I would like to say that there was an incident in Collingwood. The Minister of Health and myself are both on record as saying this was a fluke. There have been problems. To date, we have not yet been able to ascertain that problem through testing. The medical doctors in the town of Collingwood today are drinking the water in that system. The water is safe.

Having said that, in the past few years successive governments have invested $4 billion and more in sewage and water infrastructure. We are committed to spending over $335 million on water and sewer infrastructure over the next two years. I quite agree with the member that we do need to find new ways to get new investment in water and sewers. Governments across this country have realized that they cannot, as governments, invest solely government money in infrastructure any longer. We need partners. We are looking for those partners and finding new ways to work together for the betterment of all our municipalities and communities.


Mr Bert Johnson (Perth): My question is for the Minister of Health. Minister, in December, as well as in an earlier question asked by the member for Beaches-Woodbine, you announced the reinvestment in services for those with acquired brain injury, ABI. At the time you said that this reinvestment in Ontario-based services would allow the province to repatriate 76 ABI patients who are currently receiving treatment in the United States. This news is a tremendous relief to those patients living far from home and their families. I know that many of the other members have families in their own ridings that have been anxiously awaiting the return of a family member from the US. In my own riding I am aware of a family that has been greatly concerned about a family member with ABI. They had expressed concern that facilities in Ontario were underfunded and the present conditions for treatment of brain-injured individuals needed to be changed.

Mr John Gerretsen (Kingston and The Islands): Are you our guest speaker today, Bert?

Mr Bert Johnson: Minister, can you provide the House and the member for Kingston and The Islands with an update on your ministry's repatriation efforts and improvements to services available directly out of the reinvestment?

Hon Jim Wilson (Minister of Health): I thank my colleague from the riding of Perth for the question. It's a very important question because, as you know, in mid-December this government announced that we'd be repatriating some 76 patients with acquired brain injuries who are currently receiving their treatment in the United States, that we'd be bringing home those services and also bringing home the dollars spent on those services, and of course bringing home the people receiving those services and providing those services in the province of Ontario.

I'm pleased to provide the House, through the member for Perth, with an update which indicates that since December a total of about nine communities, including Ottawa, York, Essex, Kent, Peel, Halton, Niagara and Hamilton, have received additional funds to either put in new and expanded services or to upgrade existing services. So far, I'm pleased to announce, some nine patients have come home from the United States, back to their lived ones here in Ontario to receive the care that the health providers of Ontario are more than capable of providing in this province.

Mr Bert Johnson: Minister, that's fantastic news for those patients and their families who have been reunited. As well, it's good news for those individuals in Ontario who are presently receiving treatment for ABI. When can the rest of those being treated in the States expect similar news?

Hon Mr Wilson: It's again a very good question, because it's a question that's asked by the loved ones of the patients who are currently receiving treatment in the United States. Some 67 patients remain in the United States. We are dealing with the families and their loved ones on a case-by-case basis. The worst thing that could happen is some interruption in the treatment, so the reinvestment that we announced in December is rapidly building up the resources we need in Ontario to bring those patients back to Ontario to receive their treatment. I expect over the next six, eight and 12 months we should see most of the 67 patients back in Ontario and reunited with their families.



Mr Sean G. Conway (Renfrew North): My question is for the Deputy Premier, the member for Parry Sound, who I know is in the precinct. This question concerns rural Ontario, and Parry Sound fits that bill. The minister will know that between the summer of 1994 and June 8, 1995, he and his colleague Mr Harris and his colleague Mr Villeneuve and others in the Progressive Conservative caucus travelled around rural Ontario promising solemnly, promising repeatedly, that the Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs, under previous administrations, had borne, thank you very much, altogether too much of government reductions, and that if Mike Harris formed a government on June 8, agriculture would not be expected to take any further cuts. It couldn't be clearer. I have the document, the Conservative election platform, in my hand.

In today's announcement, Deputy Premier, you have taken an additional $60 million out of the Ministry of Agriculture and Food budget in this fiscal year. You are clearly eviscerating field services. You are going to gut the agricultural college programs at Ridgetown and Kemptville.

I say to the Deputy Premier, given your solemn promise of a year ago that you would not cut the Ministry of Agriculture budget beyond the $450 million that you had inherited when you took office, how can you say to the farmers of Ontario today that, having already cut over $60 million further out of that budget, you have not broken faith with rural Ontario?

Hon Ernie L. Eves (Deputy Premier, Minister of Finance and Government House Leader): The honourable member for Renfrew North will know that my colleague the Minister of Agriculture has travelled across the province consulting with various groups in the agricultural and rural community. As a matter of fact, I too have been part of a consultation process. Members of the agricultural community in rural Ontario have been in with the Minister of Agriculture talking to me about what they'd like to see in the budgetary process. I can say very directly to the honourable member that the members of those various agricultural organizations understand the problem that the province of Ontario has with respect to its fiscal and economic difficulty and they also, quite frankly, offered to be part of the solution to the economic problems in Ontario as opposed to part of the problem.

Mr Conway: Let me say to the Deputy Premier, the member for Parry Sound, I'm not interested in what you're doing after June 8 as much as I am interested in what you promised to rural Ontario before the election of June 8, 1995. This is all about the worth of the word of Mike Harris and Ernie Eves and Noble Villeneuve. It is hard not to agree with the Tory member for Brant-Haldimand, who was quoted in the Cornwall Standard-Freeholder of March 23, 1996. Let me quote the member, Mr Preston, directly: "I don't want anyone to make a liar out of me. It would be embarrassing personally to me and to every other person that ran for the government. We said it would not be a cut."

Today you have cut, in this fiscal year, over $60 million out of the agriculture budget. How have you not made a liar out of the member for Brant-Haldimand, out of the member for Hastings-Peterborough and out of the Minister of Agriculture himself?

Hon Mr Eves: I would refer the honourable member to page 3 of the document of which he speaks, the recommendations in the rural task force report. I'd like him to go through them item by item and go over what we've lived up to and what we haven't to date, bearing in mind that we've been in power for less than 10 months.

Income tax cut: That is going to be delivered. Cut non-priority government spending: being done. Support the establishment of a whole farm support program: You

know very well we're working with the federal government to accomplish just that. Increase market revenue insurance coverage to 85%: done. Retain the farm property rebate program until after reform of the provincial property tax system: still in place, and it's being done. Introduce workfare: being done by my colleague the Minister of Community and Social Services. Repeal Bill 91: done. Review the wetlands policy and reform: done. Abolish mandatory junior kindergarten: done. The last one, I say to the honourable member, firearms acquisition certificates: done as well.


Ms Shelley Martel (Sudbury East): My question is to the Minister of Natural Resources. Minister, in the summary of the business plan which was released today, you say the Ministry of Natural Resources "remains committed to its vision of the sustainable development of Ontario's natural resources." We see today in that statement that some 2,100 MNR staff are going to be laid off over the next two years. That represents almost half of the full-time staff who work for your ministry. The majority of those people are involved in the protection and the management of Ontario's natural resources like timber, fish and wildlife. I want to ask you, Minister, given that your ministry is effectively being gutted today, who is going to protect the natural resources on behalf of the people of Ontario?

Hon Chris Hodgson (Minister of Natural Resources, Northern Development and Mines): The short answer is that I think the member is misinterpreting the data to start with. Some 2,100 are mentioned, but they're not all full-time. There are vacant positions in that; there are part-time positions; there are retirements. It is a significant downsizing, though, and it's in line with what we promised the people of Ontario -- that we would deliver more with less.

We will be able to deliver on our core responsibilities. This plan was developed not from some past budget, going line by line; it was based on the function that we have to do, and built up from that. I think when you read the whole thing and look at it in the fullness of time, you'll appreciate the work that's gone into this by the staff and the number of people who have been consulted.

Ms Martel: The question I asked was, who is going to protect the natural resources for the people of the province of Ontario?

Let me give you an example around timber management in particular. It's clear from the business document that you intend to hand over the management and the protection of timber resources to the large forestry companies, and I want to remind you of what can happen when you do that.

In a report which was done for your own ministry on the management of the Lac Seul Forest by McKenzie Forest Products, the committee concluded, and I quote: "The large discrepancy between harvest and regeneration activities reflects poor planning and poor implementation of regeneration strategies. The committee interprets this as a pursuit of short-term profits at the expense of long-term sustainability."

Minister, you're putting Ontario's timber resources at risk. Those are resources which belong to all of the people of the province of Ontario. How can you possibly defend your actions?

Hon Mr Hodgson: I think the member opposite has shown why we need change in the way forests are managed in Ontario. The criticism that's been given clearly illustrates that we need to have better standards, better auditing, more professional checks that are done.

I think they realize there's been a change that's been evolving since 1980 in the forest industry, with the FMAs, and most recently with the past administration's decision to bring in Bob Carman and start a process of allowing for private sector companies to assume more of the responsibilities of tree planting and silviculture. One of the changes we're allowing is so that small operators will have the opportunity to participate in our economy as well, and that bill is before the House, as you're quite aware.

I think you will agree, and this whole House will agree, that our forests are important to all Ontarians and that we are delivering a plan which is in line with taking us to the next century, to have trees available for future generations.


Mr Toni Skarica (Wentworth North): My question as well is for the Minister of Natural Resources, Northern Development and Mines. Last week, the Minister of Education and Training announced in the House a new initiative that would help young people in Ontario get jobs. That program is called Ontario summer jobs. In his statement to the House, he indicated that this program would help young people in the north. Could you explain how this program will help young people in the north, Mr Minister?

Hon Chris Hodgson (Minister of Natural Resources, Northern Development and Mines): I appreciate the question. I think everyone in this House would strongly agree that we all believe we need to invest in the future. Young people must have opportunities to discover and develop future careers. This is why I'm pleased to announce --

Mr David Christopherson (Hamilton Centre): Oh, don't read it, at least fake it.


Hon Mr Hodgson: I had the pleasure of being here last year and watching other ministers read continuously.

This is why I'm pleased to be able to continue to fund the northern Ontario training opportunities program. Through Nortop, young people in northern Ontario have been able to gain invaluable on-the-job training which has eased their transition into the workforce. This year, Nortop will serve as a key element of our government's summer jobs program. In fact, not only are we keeping the program, we're funding it an additional $1 million, to bring it to $6.3 million for this year. With Nortop in place, more than 3,000 jobs for young people will be created in the north.


Mr Skarica: It's hard to hear the answer, Mr Speaker, due to all the yelling.

Mr Tony Silipo (Dovercourt): Don't you have it in front of you?

Mr Skarica: No, I don't, as a matter of fact.

When will this program be up and running?

Hon Mr Hodgson: It's clear that the opposition isn't interested in good news for the north, especially when it involves jobs for young people in the north.

In answer to your question, the guide books and application forms will be available in the next week, and to get this program up and running in a cost-effective way, we'll be using our northern development offices or NDOs to contact past and potential employers and distribute application forms.

Providing on-the-job training to our young people is an investment in our future and it's another example of our government's commitment to creating jobs across the north for our young people.



Mr James J. Bradley (St Catharines): My question is to the Minister of Environment and Energy, if there is a ministry left. The government has cut, as I calculate, $200 million more from the Ministry of Environment. The only people in the province I can think will be cheering that are the polluters who for so many years fought tooth and nail against every regulation, every piece of legislation and every expenditure by this ministry designed to protect the people of this province from pollution and from polluters.

With a cut of $200 million, the virtual gutting of your ministry, how can you ever hope, as Minister of Environment, to be able to deal with the complex and important environmental problems that confront this province? Why don't you say to the Minister of Finance and to the Premier that you are prepared to resign to protest the gutting of your ministry?

Hon Brenda Elliott (Minister of Environment and Energy): I would like to assure every member of this House and every citizen of this province that this government feels the quality of our environment, the protection of our environment is fundamental to the success and health of this province.

Taking care of the environment in this province is serious business. When I was elected to this government, I was elected to do my part to restore this province to fiscal soundness. I believe and I know the Ministry of Environment can do its job to protect this environment in a fiscally sound manner as a part of our government's agenda.

We are going to return to our core business in protecting the environment. We are going to be customer driven. We are going to do a good job. We are going to implement better management. We are going to achieve cost recovery, and we are going to enlist partners in developing environmental stewardship throughout this province.

Mr Bud Wildman (Algoma): On a point of order, Mr Speaker: We've just had an answer from the Minister of Natural Resources in response to a question in this House regarding the summaries of business plans that were announced by the Chair of the Management Board earlier this session in which the Minister of Natural Resources stated that the 2,100 staff being cut from his ministry were not all full-time people. That raises a question of the integrity and the competence of the whole announcement today. Are these 10,600 full-time equivalent positions or are they not? Are they part-time or not?

The Speaker (Hon Allan K. McLean): The member does not have a point of order.

Mr Rick Bartolucci (Sudbury): On a point of privilege, Mr Speaker: In an answer to the member for Wentworth North, the Minister of Northern Development and Mines alluded to the northern ministry being used for something other than the intent or rationale behind the ministry. On a point of privilege, I would like an explanation from the minister. The people of northern Ontario would like an explanation.

The Speaker: Order. I've heard your point of privilege. You don't have a point of privilege.

Mr David S. Cooke (Windsor-Riverside): On a point of order, Mr Speaker: I would have thought that there would at least be some explanation from the government. How can we be expected to proceed in this place this afternoon when a major statement is promoted by the government for the last couple of weeks saying we're going to get the business plans, the whole world is going to be told about the business plans, and then in one of the last questions in the House the Minister of Natural Resources basically says everything we've been told today is not true? We need the information here. We're elected to represent our constituents. We want to know where these business plans are and we're not prepared to proceed in this place until the information is available.

The Speaker: Order. I have no jurisdiction over whether they supply you the information or not. That's not up to me.

Mr Floyd Laughren (Nickel Belt): On a point of order, Mr Speaker: What is bothering us so much is that when the Chair of Management Board stood in his place and presented his statement today, he made it very clear that the 10,600 positions to be lost in the Ontario public service are full-time equivalent. Then, when the Minister of Natural Resources was asked a question about the 2,100 lost positions in his ministry, he said: "Don't make the mistake of thinking that they're all full-time jobs. Lots of them are part-time jobs."

We have to get to the bottom of this or this place can't function. We cannot have one minister standing in his place and saying one thing, another minister saying another thing just a few minutes later and expect the opposition to cooperate with the orderly business in this place. It cannot happen.

There's a long tradition of members being allowed to stand in their place and correct their own record in this place. I cannot correct their record; only they can correct their record, I'm sure you agree with that, and the opposition is giving them a chance to make that clear. I can tell you right now that either the Minister of Natural Resources or the Chair of Management Board is completely incompetent. Maybe they both are, but for sure one of them is and we need a clarification.

Ms Frances Lankin (Beaches-Woodbine): Mr Speaker, continuing on this point of order -- and this is a demand to have the record clarified at this point in time by one of the two ministers -- it is not just the members of this House who need and deserve this information. There are workers out there, there are families of workers, there are 10,600 people and their families who are going to be affected and there are thousands more wondering: "Is it me? Is it my family? Is it my co-worker?"

We've got conflicting information; we've got different stories being told. For the last two weeks in this House, if we've asked questions of any of these ministers, we have been told, "Just wait." The Minister of Finance told me personally on a number of occasions: "The member's just going to have to wait and we'll give her that information. The business plans are coming forward. We'll be giving you the information about how many people are affected. We'll be telling you exactly where the cuts are. We'll be telling you what we're going to privatize, what our plans are."

We got nothing today from this government but a communications exercise. You have had leaked documents, leaked information. This was a damage control exercise. This is your spin doctors sitting behind the bench, trying to put a blanket over everything. You know it doesn't work. We're not stupid here; the people of Ontario are not stupid. The workers in the public service deserve to have some clear information from you. Tell us what it is.

Hon Chris Hodgson (Minister of Natural Resources, Northern Development and Mines): I want to apologize if there's a misunderstanding here. They are full-time equivalents but it's not half our work force, and there are vacant positions involved in that, if that clarifies the record and satisfies the opposition.

The Speaker: Obviously, there is a great difference of opinion here.

Mr Cooke: The Minister of Natural Resources gets up now and tells us it's 2,100 full-time equivalents. There are just over 4,000 people who work for your ministry. That's almost half. Don't you know how your own ministry runs? I've never seen such incompetence: 4,500 and 2,100.

The Speaker: Order. The member for Algoma-Manitoulin has a point of order.

Mr Michael A. Brown (Algoma-Manitoulin): Mr Speaker, on the same point of order: We're having great difficulty understanding what the Minister of Natural Resources is telling us today and we would appreciate it if he could just stand up and clarify why his ministry is taking at least 20% of all the job losses in the entire public sector that Mr Johnson announced today. If he would stand up and confirm how many job losses there are: Is it true that one in five civil servants is being laid off from his ministry? What that's doing to northern Ontario is quite incredible and --

The Speaker: Order.

Hon Ernie L. Eves (Deputy Premier, Minister of Finance and Government House Leader): Mr Speaker, responding to the same point of order, I may be mistaken, but I thought question period ended about 10 minutes ago.

The members opposite know full well that the Minister of Natural Resources and Northern Development and Mines has just clarified the record. If you're not happy with an answer, there is a standing order. You've used it yourselves on many occasions. If you're not satisfied with an answer, there's a procedure to debate that further after the House adjourns at 6 o'clock.

With respect to the comment of the member for Windsor-Riverside and others, let me be perfectly clear. Today was a summary of the decisions that have been made to date by the government. Today we announced what decisions we've made to date. The business plans are not finalized. That's why you don't have them, because we don't have them.

I know the previous government finds it difficult to believe that there would be a government that would deal honestly, openly and directly with people. That's what we did yesterday about MPP compensation and pensions, and that's what we're doing today about trying to manage the --

The Speaker: Order.

There have been many points of order raised on the very issue with regard to the questions in the House today. There is a procedure to go through if you're not satisfied with their answers. Points of order or points of privilege are not, I don't believe, one of them. If you want to --

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

The Speaker: On a new issue? The leader of the official opposition.

Mrs McLeod: If I may have the attention of the government House leader, I've just been informed by the House leader of our party that on Bill 34, which we consider to be an omnibus education bill, not unlike Bill 26 that this government tried to bully through this House before Christmas, a bill which brings about fundamental changes in education which are going to lay off hundreds and hundreds of teachers and take junior kindergarten away, the House leader of the government has refused to allow the committee hearings to go beyond Toronto.

Mr Speaker, I believe that is a violation of any order or privilege of the members of this House and of every person in this province who wants an opportunity to respond and I'm asking for --

The Speaker: Order.

Ms Shelley Martel (Sudbury East): Point of order, Mr Speaker.

The Speaker: On the same issue? If it's the same one, I won't accept it.

Ms Martel: Mr Speaker, when I raised the question today, I can assure you that I had called the Ministry of Natural Resources and I had confirmed my numbers. The ministry staff clearly told me that there are some 4,600 full-time who work for the minister. We have an announcement today of 2,100 full-time staff being laid off. That does represent almost half of the full-time staff who work at the Ministry of Natural Resources.

That is exactly the question I raised. I will quote to the members what I said: "Today we see that some 2,100 MNR staff will be laid off over the next two years. That represents almost half of the full-time staff working for the ministry."

That is the case, Mr Speaker. That is the information I confirmed before I came in here to raise the question. I resent that the minister is not here today to clarify the record yet again, because the facts I have outlined are correct and what he said in trying to correct his record is still wrong. That is why we do need the business plans, Mr Speaker, because it is obvious that that minister has no idea what's going on in his own ministry.


The Speaker: This House is recessed for 10 minutes.

The House recessed from 1515 to 1525.

Mr Laughren: On a point of privilege, Mr Speaker: In view of what happened earlier this afternoon when the Chair of Management Board rose to discuss the reductions in the Ontario public service and, as I recall it -- I don't have the instant Hansard yet in front of me -- he referred to what they were doing as a summary of the business plans of the various ministries. That's what I recall his saying.

It seems to me that if you have a summary of something, you must have the thing itself. What are you summarizing if you have a summary of a business plan? It seems to me there must be a business plan if you have a summary of it.

I believe our privileges have been abused in view of the fact that we're being told two things, and I don't think that's appropriate. It is surely an abuse to be told, "We don't have the business plan, but we have the summary of it." It seems to me that's stretching credulity a long, long way and I resent very much this exercise in public relations that --

The Speaker: Order. We have had a great discussion with regard to points of order and points of privilege. There is a difference of opinion between the opposition and the government and there is a process laid out whereby you deal with that. We have dealt with the back and forth, the issues of the questions and the answers, and I will not entertain any more points of order or points of privilege on that very issue.

Mr Michael A. Brown (Algoma-Manitoulin): Mr Speaker, under section 34, I give notice of dissatisfaction with the Minister of Natural Resources' response to the member for Sudbury East and we will file the necessary documents with the table.

The Speaker (Hon Allan K. McLean): It has to come from the member who asked the question.

Mr Michael Brown: Where does it say that in the rules, Mr Speaker?

The Speaker: There has been a precedent to that effect and it has been ruled on before.

Mr David S. Cooke (Windsor-Riverside): On a point of order, Mr Speaker: I understand the position you have taken, but you have left us all somewhat confused in that, how can we, when a government -- when members of the Legislature, who are assumed to be honourable people, come into the House and tell us, when we've been asking questions over the last couple of weeks, that they're going to provide us with all of the information, they're going to do that through business plans, they announce this to all of the people of the province very clearly all this week and all last week, that major announcements are coming, that complete business plans for the government are going to be revealed on Thursday, today, and then we -- we have a responsibility, you have a responsibility. You're Speaker second; you're first a member of the assembly. You have a responsibility to represent your constituents as well.

Then we come here today and we're given bits and pieces of information that conflict with one another and we're told: "I'm sorry, we've got partial business plans that we're giving to you or summaries of business plans that we're releasing to the members of the assembly. We don't give a damn that you've been elected to represent your constituents, that you're part of the assembly. We're going to hold off releasing the entire business plans for another month." Because this is all part of a public relations exercise in order to release part of it now, give out the bad news now and then try to cover it up so they can do the tax decrease in a few weeks in the budget.

Mr Speaker, I know you're saying there are opportunities and other avenues to solve this, but I'm at a loss. I'm going through the rule book and I'm at a loss as to how we can resolve that, because the government has clearly decided to try to manipulate the Legislature and manipulate public opinion. It's difficult to continue to use the word "honourable" in this place.

The Speaker: It's not for the Speaker to ascertain the correctness or not of the contents of a statement and of answers or questions. It's not up to me to ascertain that. There's a process here whereby question and answer period is there for you to ask the questions, and it's up to them if they want to answer them. There is a disagreement here between the opposition and the government, and there's nothing I can do about a disagreement. That will be between the House leaders, if they want to meet and solve it, but it's not up to me to solve a disagreement in the House. We have rules and we have a process here laid out with regard to the orders of the day, and that's what I'm following, the orders of the day.

Mr Cooke: Mr Speaker, may I make a suggestion, though, because we've been through this movie before and we don't want to get into a situation as we did before Christmas. Perhaps the reasonable recommendation that was made by members before Christmas could be followed now. That would be that the House adjourn, the House leaders meet and let's find a proper way of dealing with one of the most significant -- in fact, the government made it clear earlier this week. The Premier was quoted as saying this is the most important project and set of decisions that this government will make in this term. Therefore we have a right to this information, and I suggest that rather than getting into a huge hassle here in the House, you suggest the House recess, the House leaders meet and let's deal with this in a responsible way.

The Speaker: I would suggest that if the House leaders want to go themselves and meet to try and resolve it, fine, but I see no need to change the process today.

We're now coming on to motions.

Ms Frances Lankin (Beaches-Woodbine): You're not helping this.

The Speaker: I'm following the rules.

Mr Tony Silipo (Dovercourt): On a point of order, Mr Speaker: I would certainly agree very much with you when you say that it's not your role, sir, to sort out disagreements between the opposition and the government. I think all of us would quite readily agree that isn't your role. But the concern I and many members of my caucus have is that we have a real problem in knowing how we can do our job in opposition effectively when we see contradictory information being given to us by two different ministers of the same government. That is a fundamental point that needs to be addressed.

We had today, in the Chair of Management Board's statement, a very significant statement, a statement of the nature certainly of a budget in terms of the importance it has, and yet we have very little background information to support that. That's one issue. But within that statement the Chair of Management Board stated that there are over 10,000 public servants who are being laid off. Then one of his colleagues, in answer to a question, said no, that's not quite the case as it relates to his ministry, those people aren't full-time, they're part-time. Then he contradicted himself again.

I think you see how difficult it is for us to then know what it is the ministers are saying and therefore whether we agree, disagree or what position we can take on those. I think in that, Mr Speaker, you do have a role to play, not in determining what the truth is, but in suggesting that surely there is a process through which at least the members of the government, the ministers of the government who are bringing statements to this House can agree as to what that information is, as it pertains to the same ministry, so that we don't have one minister saying one thing and another minister saying another thing which contradicts that.

The Speaker: I'll say, once again, it's not my place to determine what the answers are, whether they're right or whether they're wrong. I'm here to chair the House. We have rules of order to follow. We have a process here to follow. We have a place for points of order and a place for points of privilege, of which many have been raised on one issue today. I have heard many of those points of order and I have to find that there is no point of order as far as I'm concerned in my role as Speaker. We move on to motions.

Mr Peter Kormos (Welland-Thorold): On a point of order, Mr Speaker.

The Speaker: If it's the same point of order, I'm ruling you out of order. If it's on the same point of order -- no, no.

Mr Kormos: Mr Speaker, I stand on a point of order --

The Speaker: On the same point of order?

Mr Kormos: Mr Speaker, I stand on a point of order pursuant to standing order 23(m). I ask you to refer yourself to standing order 23(m), because standing order 23(m) deals directly with introduction of any matter in debate. I submit, with respect, Speaker, that "debate" here has to be interpreted broadly. That means any proceedings that occur during the course of this House, including the process of question period. We're talking here about an offence to "the practices and precedents of the House." The precedents and the practices of the House go beyond the mere procedure in terms of orders of the day. I respectfully submit to you, Speaker, that it is not only a practice but a long-standing precedent -- and again I could spend a great deal of time referring to precedents spoken of in Erskine May, among other authorities, but I'm not going to use your time doing that.

Speaker, please. What we have here -- because this is the vehicle, this is the voice of the people of Ontario, and indeed when we see its automation and the technology applied by virtue of television, it goes beyond the mere fourth and fifth estates, utilizing their presence here to convey what's happening.

It's a public place. People are entitled to come here to this chamber to discover what the business is of the government. I appreciate it and I'm conceding that the government can hold its cards close to its chest if it so chooses. At the same time, the opposition can from time to time throw its money into the pot to call the hand just to keep the government honest.

But in this instance the government has chosen to lay its cards on the table, so to speak, and when there is an inherent contradiction in such an important process as that very restricted but time-honoured process of question period -- and I'm not asking you to rule on the propriety or sufficiency or adequacy of a minister's response to a question from a member of the opposition. I'm asking you to consider this, because here we have this vehicle, this forum as being the voice not just of government, but in view of the fact that there's opposition here, the voice of some 11 million Ontarians. Ontarians are entitled to come here to understand what is being unfolded before them.

When we saw and heard, as did 11 million Ontarians -- we have to presume that indeed that is the case -- an inherent contradiction in what was said very specifically by not one, of course, but by two members of the crown, I submit to you, Speaker, that that goes far beyond, with respect, the mere inadequacy of a question. I agree, a person -- and you've ruled with respect to a member of the official opposition -- who asks a question, at the very least, is entitled to call for a proverbial late show. But in this instance, you have an obligation, I respectfully submit to you, Speaker, to require that there be a clarification.

Your job is, among other things, to preserve order. Disorder doesn't mean just bawdiness and physical disorder; preserving order implies very much as well that one of your jobs is to ensure that when there are specific messages being given, that they be clear, that they be succinct -- and I'm trying to be succinct, Speaker -- but when ministers of the crown contradict each other -- Speaker, please, I am not entitled to stand up and speak of one or the other ministers as prevaricating. I understand that and I wouldn't think of doing that, but that's where your role is significant, because it is a matter of practice and precedent that members of this assembly -- all the more so, I submit, members who are ministers of the crown -- put forth their information in a truthful and unambiguous way.

This isn't a matter of the opposition disagreeing with what one or another minister said; this is a matter of the people of Ontario witnessing an inherent contradiction --

The Speaker: Order. The member has made his point of order. That will be the end of that.

The member for Algoma on a point of privilege.

Mr Bud Wildman (Algoma): I stand to raise a point of privilege in strict sincerity. I honestly believe that my privileges as a member of this House and the privileges of all members of the House have been abridged.

It's surely the responsibility of each member of the assembly to serve her or his constituents in this place by attempting to put forward positions as clearly and honestly as possible and getting information for constituents about the ongoing operations of government and the ramifications for their communities. I honestly believe that in this case, where we have an obvious contradiction between two ministers, it is impossible for me to be able to tell what the announcement today means -- whether 10,600 positions means 10,600 or something less or something more -- and what that means not only for the Ministry of Natural Resources, Northern Development and Mines but for all of the ministries for which business plans are either being developed or have been developed. That is not clear either.

This must be clarified. The government must make it clear to the public of Ontario and to the members of this House what exactly has been announced today, otherwise we will not be able to deal with the issue properly in this House or in the public.

The Speaker: Order. It will be up to the government to do that. It's not for me to see that it's done. Let's move on to motions.


Mr Tony Martin (Sault Ste Marie): On a point of privilege, Mr Speaker: I find myself as well very concerned by what has unfolded here today. I represent a very important constituency in northern Ontario, not the only important constituency in that great part of the province; I'm only one of about 13 members down here. The decisions that are made today on these 2,100 jobs, perhaps plus -- we're not sure at this time -- put the economy of northern Ontario in jeopardy. We who have responsibility to give leadership in that neck of the woods need to know the numbers -- we need to know the numbers yesterday -- so we can start putting in place plans that will mitigate, that will answer some of the questions that some of our constituents have so they can get on with their lives so our communities can survive.

Twenty-one hundred workers may not seem like a whole lot in an area like Metro Toronto, although I suggest to you it is, but 2,100 jobs in northern Ontario represent the sum total of the workforce of, say, Blind River, Chapleau and Wawa all put together. It's significant; it's really important. In light of the decision that was made yesterday re the downsizing of this place and the number of reps who will be elected by the people of particularly northern Ontario --

The Speaker: Order. I've heard the member's point of privilege. The member for Lake Nipigon.

M. Gilles Pouliot (Lac-Nipigon) : J'aimerais attirer votre attention, ainsi que l'attention de mes distingués collègues, sur quelque chose qui est tout à fait regrettable. Aujourd'hui plus tôt, il y a à peine une heure, un ministre annonçait qu'on anticipait non moins de 10 600 emplois perdus, répartis sur une période de deux ans.

Juste après un collègue, un autre ministre, annonçait qu'à travers son ministère, celui des Ressources, qui est si cher chez nous, sur une force de travail de quelque 4600 employés à peu près on allait limoger, on allait licencier 45 % ; c'est donc dire environ 2100 employés.

Je représente, comme vous le savez si bien, une circonscription qui couvre 26 % du territoire. Quand on fait une telle annonce à travers la contradiction chez nous, on commence à mourir un peu. Chez nous, c'est le pain quotidien. Nous dépendons tous de nos ressources et de la représentation du ministère.

The Speaker: Order. I've heard your point of privilege. It's not a point of privilege, it's a dispute you're having between the government and the opposition parties, and there's nothing I can do to stop a dispute.



Hon Ernie L. Eves (Deputy Premier, Minister of Finance and Government House Leader): I move that the standing committee on social development be authorized to meet on the mornings of Wednesday, April 17, and Wednesday, April 24, for the purpose of conducting public hearings on Bill 30, the Education Quality and Accountability Office Act, and Bill 31, the Ontario College of Teachers Act.

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


Hon Ernie L. Eves (Deputy Premier, Minister of Finance and Government House Leader): Pursuant to standing order 55, I wish to indicate the business of the House for the week of April 15, 1996.

On Monday, April 15, we will debate a motion for interim supply and then go on to the 1995-96 Supply Act.

On Tuesday, April 16, we will continue those debates, the motion for interim supply and the Supply Act, after which we will debate Bill 42, An Act to reform MPPs' pensions, to eliminate tax-free allowances and to adjust MPPs' compensation levels.

On Wednesday, April 17, we will continue with second reading of Bill 34, An Act to amend the Education Act.

For Thursday morning's private members' business, we will consider ballot item number 21, standing in the name of the member for Riverdale, and ballot item number 22, standing in the name of the member for Dufferin-Peel. In the afternoon of Thursday, April 18, we will continue with debate on Bill 34.



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."

Mr Speaker, I've affixed my signature.


Ms Frances Lankin (Beaches-Woodbine): Mr Speaker, in view of the fact that the government refuses to provide this House with the business plans behind their announcement today and you can't do anything about it, I move adjournment of this House.

The Speaker (Hon Allan K. McLean): The motion is in order. Mrs Lankin moves adjournment of the House. 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; it will be a 30-minute bell. I believe.

The division bells rang from 1548 to 1618.

The Speaker: All those in favour of Ms Lankin's motion will please rise and remain standing.

All those opposed will please rise and remain standing.

Clerk of the House (Mr Claude L. DesRosiers): The ayes are 22, the nays 38.

The Speaker: I declare the motion lost.


Mr John O'Toole (Durham East): I move that we proceed to orders of the day.

The Speaker (Hon Allan K. McLean): All those in favour, please say "aye."

All those opposed will please say "nay."

In my opinion, the ayes have it.

Call in the members; it will be a 30-minute bell.

The division bells rang from 1621 to 1651.

The Speaker: The member for Durham East has moved that we proceed to orders of the day.

All those in favour of that motion will please rise.

All those opposed will please rise.

Clerk of the House (Mr Claude L. DesRosiers): The ayes are 47, the nays 21.

The Speaker: I declare the motion carried.


Mr David S. Cooke (Windsor-Riverside): On a point of order, Mr Speaker: I'd like to raise a point of order under "Written Questions," standing order 97(a), (b), (c), (d) and (e). Mr Speaker, as you would know, we are permitted as members to table written questions. Standing order 97 says:

"(a) Questions seeking information from the ministry relating to the public affairs of the province may be placed by notice on the Orders and Notices paper.

"(b) Such notices shall be dated and where a member repeats an unanswered question in the ensuing session, the date of the original notice shall be shown.

"(c) In putting any written question, no argument or opinion shall be offered nor any facts stated, except so far as may be necessary to explain the question.

"(d) The minister shall answer such written questions within 14 calendar days unless he or she indicates that more time is required because the answer will be costly or time-consuming or that he or she declines to answer, in which case a notation shall be made on the Orders and Notices paper following the question indicating that the minister has made an interim answer, the approximate date that the information will be available, or that the minister has declined to answer, as the case may be.

"(e) The answers to such written questions shall be given to the Clerk of the House who shall cause them to be printed in the official reports of the debates, or if any such answers are of a lengthy and voluminous nature, the Clerk shall make them returns."

Mr Speaker, as you have said many times in the Legislature, it is your job and it is your responsibility, it is entirely your responsibility, to make sure the standing orders of the Legislature are followed. You know they have not been followed in this case.

I would draw you to order paper question 99, tabled November 15, 1995, standing in my name. "Inquiry of the Ministry: Would the Minister of Community and Social Services advise how many GWA recipients who have part-time earnings under the supports to employment program (STEP) have been disentitled to GWA since October 1, 1995, because their earnings are too high." That's a pretty straightforward question, tabled now five months ago. No reply.

Mr Speaker, I'm asking you, as the only individual who can enforce the standing orders and have told us this many times, what you're prepared to do to enforce the rule when it comes to question number 99.

The Speaker (Hon Allan K. McLean): I thank the honourable member for his point of order. Yes, he has a very important point of order, and I would hope the appropriate ministry he referred to would take it as notice and reply immediately.

Ms Frances Lankin (Beaches-Woodbine): On a point of order, Mr Speaker: With respect to the same standing order, I would like to raise a separate point of order, and that's with respect to order paper question number 100, standing in the name of Mr Cooke. It was an inquiry of the ministry, and I'll read it:

"Would the Ministry of Community and Social Services advise how many FBA recipients who have part-time earnings under STEP have been disentitled to FBA since October 1, 1995, because their earnings are too high."

That was tabled on November 15, 1995.

Mr Speaker, day after day in this House we ask questions of the Minister of Community and Social Services. I know you can't police the answers of the minister here in this House, and when there's not satisfaction with those answers we're always told we have the opportunity, we have the process available to us to follow up, requesting information of the ministry, of the minister, in other ways.

We have followed those rules of this House. We have tabled order paper questions in accordance with the standing orders, with the rules of this House, and we find that we still get no satisfactory response from this minister. I will tell you that there are other ministers who are in the same situation, other questions that remain unanswered, and it's I think appropriate that they should be raised with you as well.

Specific to this one, as we hear the Minister of Community and Social Services tell us he's moving forward with changes to the Ontario Works, the welfare system, introducing his workfare plan, and telling us it is specifically designed to keep the commitment they made, when they made their cuts to the welfare rates, that people will be able to earn back that amount of money, we have asked questions specific to that. In this order paper question, we put that question very clearly to them in November of last year. We remain without that information although it's committed to us that people can in fact earn that money back. That information is important for us as opposition members to be able to represent our constituents, to be able to provide them with information --

The Speaker: Order. I thank you for bringing it to my attention. It is a point of order and I would ask the appropriate minister --

Mr Peter Kormos (Welland-Thorold): On a point of order, Mr Speaker: Pursuant to standing order 97, which states:

"(a) Questions seeking information from the ministry relating to the public affairs of the province may be placed by notice on the Orders and Notices paper.

"(b) Such notices shall be dated and where a member repeats" a numbered "question in the ensuing session, the date of the original notice shall be shown."

I know, of course, Mr Speaker, that the appropriate form in putting a point of order to this assembly is to lay the standing order groundwork to accompany raising the point of order; one shouldn't merely raise points of order without referring to the sections which give rise to the point of order.

"(d) The minister shall answer such written questions within 14 calendar days unless he or she indicates that more time is required because the answer will be costly or time-consuming or that he or she declines to answer, in which case a notation shall be made on the Orders and Notices paper following the question indicating that the minister has made an interim answer, the approximate date that the information will be available, or that the minister has declined to answer, as the case may be.

"(e) The answers to the written questions shall be given to the Clerk of the House who shall cause them to be printed in the official reports of the debates, or if any such answers are of a lengthy and voluminous nature, the Clerk shall make them returns."

I'll decline to read paragraph (f) because paragraph (f) of this standing order isn't particularly germane to the point of order I'm raising now. But paragraph (f) does state, "If a minister is of the opinion that any written question under this standing order requires by way of reply any statement of facts,or records, or statistics of a lengthy or a voluminous nature, the minister may require it to be made a motion for a return."


The Speaker: Thank you. I've heard your point of order and you do have a point of order.

Mr Kormos: Please, I haven't referred to the question yet.

The Speaker: Just a minute. I've heard your point of order and you do have a point of order. I agree with it. The appropriate ministry will look after it.

Mr Kormos: On a point of privilege, Speaker, please.

The Speaker: Order. When I call order, I expect the member to take his seat.

Mr Kormos: Mr Speaker, on a point of privilege: The precedents and the procedures require me, as I understand it, to lay out that portion of the standing orders or parliamentary precedent which sustain or give rise to the point of order. I laid out, as I believe I'm required to do with respect to the rules of this House, the groundwork, the foundation, that basis for the point of order.

I have a point of order. Of course, I have only made reference to the standing orders. I very specifically want to direct the Speaker's attention to the query that was posed, to which I say there is a matter of a breach of order. I believe I'm entitled to do that, sir. Were I not entitled to do that, the point of order would be null. There wouldn't be any substance to it. There'd be a foundation but no walls and no roof.

Please, Speaker, may I refer to the question, because there is a very specific question. Otherwise, we're talking in a vacuum, we're dancing in the fog, and Lord knows, we wouldn't want to do that. May I please direct the Speaker's attention --

The Speaker: Take your seat, please. You have spent two or three minutes and I have not heard the point of order that you're wanting to make. If you'd like to make your point of order, I'd like to hear it.

Mr Kormos: I appreciate the courtesy of the Chair, of the Speaker of the House, in permitting me to do that.

The point of order is pursuant to standing order 97 and the paragraphs I read, which I will not read again because I've read them once already. On November 15, 1995, my colleague from Windsor-Riverside, in his own right and on behalf of this caucus of which I am still a member, made an inquiry of the ministry. I should read the inquiry: "Would the Minister of Community and Social Services advise what is the threshold at which a single person with part-time earnings under STEP no longer qualifies for social assistance benefits." That was dated November 15, 1995. It's number 101 in the list of questions as printed in the Orders and Notices for the Legislative Assembly of Ontario, first session, 36th Parliament, most recently as Tuesday, April 9, 1996.

There has been no response to that. That is not an inquiry requiring any great deal of research. I submit, Speaker, in response to this point of order, it is your responsibility to censure, to possibly even suspend the minister from service in this House until that's responded to.

The Speaker: Thank you. I've heard your point of order.

A further point of order?

Mr Floyd Laughren (Nickel Belt): Mr Speaker, I won't refer again to the appropriate standing order, because you've heard it, but there is a question on the order paper in the name of Mr Cooke, one of our more industrious members of this Assembly, I'm sure you would all agree, and it's dated November 15, 1995. So that we're all perfectly clear what it is we're debating, it reads as follows: "Would the Minister of Community and Social Services advise what is the threshold at which a sole-support parent with one child, who has part-time earnings under STEP, no longer qualifies for social assistance benefits."

That is an important question, and the thought of that being on the order paper from November 15 until today is outrageous. I'm sure you would agree that is an infringement on the privileges of the members of this House. It's not as though it's a frivolous question. It's an important question and one to which all of us have a right to an answer.

I can certainly recall that when the previous government was in office, we were taken to task if we missed the deadline on questions. As a matter of fact, the Speaker might have called us to task from time to time on that very matter, because he too was an industrious member of this Legislature.

Mr Speaker, I hope you'll regard these points of order not as anything to do with what's gone on in the House earlier today but simply as an issue of the privileges of this House. We've kept waiting and waiting and waiting, anticipating every day that these questions would be answered in written form, and that still has not occurred. What's really disappointing is that we have this question unanswered, compounded by the failure of the government to table its business plans for the announcements that were made today.

The Speaker: The member does have a point of order and it should be referred to the appropriate ministry.

Mr Steve Gilchrist (Scarborough East): On a point of order, Mr Speaker: I draw your attention to standing order 23, which says, "In debate, a member shall be called to order by the Speaker if he or she:... (c) Persists in needless repetition or raises matters that have been decided during the current session."

I wonder if you could give me some direction in your first ruling to the question raised by Mr Cooke. I took it to be an omnibus, overriding dictum that in terms of any question on the order paper more than two weeks, you were giving notice to the relevant ministry --

The Speaker: Order. I know the section you're referring to and it has no basis in what we're dealing with. The points of order are in order.

Ms Shelley Martel (Sudbury East): Mr Speaker, I would like to rise on the same point of order. Following up from my colleague from Nickel Belt, it is true that not only was the former government called to task on numerous occasions with respect to this same issue, but our government was also called to task by the same group that now sits in government. This group that sits in government was vociferous in going after us with respect to unanswered questions on the order paper. I would encourage my colleague from Scarborough East to take a good look at some of the Hansard under our previous government and he will see how much time and how much of the taxpayers' money was wasted by his colleagues who are now in government on this same issue.

I would have thought that his colleagues would have learned from our mistake, obviously, in government and would have tried to fix it, but here we are, Mr Speaker, raising with you a very important point, which is that ministers of this government have refused to provide information to very important and very serious issues our party has raised, particularly with respect to the minister of social services and particularly with respect to the very serious and deep cuts he has imposed upon families and children in this province.

The order paper question I would like to bring to your attention is order paper question 103. It is an inquiry of the Ministry of Community and Social Services and it reads as follows: "Would the Minister of Community and Social Services advise what is the threshold at which a sole-support parent with two children, who has part-time earnings under STEP, no longer qualifies for social assistance benefits."

I would point out to you that this question was provided to the minister by my colleague from Windsor-Riverside on November 15, 1995. Here we are, several months later, having to stand in this House and raise this point with you, because this minister is being --

The Speaker: Order. You do have a point of order. When the point of order is raised, I would expect that you would read me the result of what you're asking for them to reply to.


Mr Gilles Pouliot (Lake Nipigon): Mr Cooke, on November 15 last, was in a prolific mood, for there was so much to be said. Used the standing order; meticulously addressed the concern; did so under number 104. To what ministry? The Ministry of Community and Social Services, to "advise what is the threshold...." Mr Cooke here is seeking an answer for the marginalized, the disabled, and he goes on as follows: "...advise what is the threshold at which a disabled person" -- we're all on the waiting list -- "who has part-time earnings under STEP" -- recall the program that gave hope to people, gave them a chance to be like the others, to defend themselves, to integrate -- "no longer qualifies for social assistance benefits."

Je connais ces gens. C'est lui, notre leader parlementaire, qui se chargeait de le faire. Il le fait sous la gestion suivante. «Questions : Les questions seront publiées le jour suivant leur réception et tous les jours de la semaine. Elles seront ensuite publiées tous les lundis jusqu'à ce qu'une réponse autre qu'une réponse provisoire soit reçue. Une question publiée le jeudi pour la première fois sera publiée tous les jours de la semaine suivante.»

Eh bien, le 15 novembre 1995. Décembre, janvier, deux mois ; février, mars, avril, cinq mois que les gens les plus démunis, les plus vulnérables et marginalisés attendent une réponse du ministère. Monsieur le Président, quand même.

The Speaker: Thank you. Second order.

Mr Tony Silipo (Dovercourt): On a point of order, Mr Speaker: I rise to bring to your attention what I believe is a breach of standing order 97, and I won't repeat the provisions of that; I think you know them quite well. But there is a question that was tabled back on November 15 by my colleague Mr Dave Cooke. It's item number 105 under the written questions: "Inquiry of the ministry: Would the Minister of Community and Social Services advise how many calls have been received by the province's welfare fraud hotline since October 2, 1995."

That was tabled back on November 15, 1995, almost five months ago. To date, there has been no response. It's a question which, as a former minister in that portfolio, I have some particular interest in, and I believe that five months' time would have been more than sufficient for the minister to give us some response. We have yet not seen any response, although the minister has on various occasions stood in his place and made a series of announcements about various ways in which he is tightening eligibility for social assistance. And yet on this important question -- I think in fact this was the first announcement the minister made in this House in his current role -- we asked, or the honourable Dave Cooke asked --

The Speaker: Order. I've heard you read it and it's in order.

The member on a point of what?

M. Gilles Bisson (Cochrane-Sud) : On a point of order. Monsieur le Président, je veux amener votre attention, puis je ne vais pas lire toute la section selon le Règlement, mais cela dit, «Les députés peuvent faire inscrire au Feuilleton et Avis des questions adressées à des ministres en vue d'obtenir des renseignements sur quelque affaire publique.»

Je ne vais pas lire toute la section, mais la question que je voudrais soulever ici sous le rappel au Règlement, c'est que si «le ministre répond dans les 14 jours civils qui suivent aux questions écrites ainsi posées, sauf s'il indique qu'un délai prolongé est nécessaire parce que la réponse sera coûteuse ou longue à formuler, ou encore s'il refuse de donner une réponse, et une inscription est faite au Feuilleton et Avis à l'endroit de la question indiquant, selon le cas, que le ministre a donné une réponse provisoire, ainsi que la date approximative» -- on voit que le 2 octobre 1995, et on ne parle pas d'hier, M. Cooke a fait une enquête auprès du ministre des Services sociaux et communautaires qui demande combien d'appels en moyenne ont été reçus au ministère selon la «welfare fraud hotline» depuis le 2 octobre 1995. On se trouve aujourd'hui au milieu du mois d'avril et on a fait cette demande-là en octobre 1995.

On vous demande, Monsieur le Président, de voir à ce que le gouvernement fasse ce qui est indiqué dans le Règlement des affaires parlementaires et qu'il réponde à la question.

Mr David Christopherson (Hamilton Centre): On a point or order, Mr Speaker: I raise the issue of section 97(a) with regard to question 107, wherein the Minister of Community and Social Services is asked, "Would the Minister of Community and Social Services advise how many calls made to the province's welfare fraud hotline since October 2, 1995, have been investigated; ie, followed up." That was filed November 15, 1995.

I think it's extremely relevant and important for you to pay attention to the fact that the government when it announced this hotline did it with great fanfare and suggested that this was going to be one of the key solutions that it saw to dealing with the concerns that it has about costs in this ministry. Yet we have seen to date no response whatsoever to this question. As we've heard from other members of my caucus, they have not responded to other questions on this matter and others.

Given the fact that the government itself made this such a priority at the time it announced it, it would seem, one would think, that responding to a question like this would be equally important as the government attempts to defend itself with regard to questions we have raised about this. Mr Speaker, as you know, we all have an interest in making sure that the taxpayers' money is well spent, that it's properly spent, that it's focused in the areas that it needs to, which of course was the reason the government said it was introducing this hotline.

However, our concerns have been around whether this was a serious attempt to keep legitimate costs in line or whether indeed this was just another part of the government's attack on the poor in this province, which of course we have, I believe, shown very clearly is indeed the agenda of this government right from its first announcement that it was cutting welfare rates by 22%, and yet in response to this question we hear a deafening silence. I think it's fair, Mr Speaker, that we would ask the government, and through you, to respond to these questions that are being asked.

Ms Marilyn Churley (Riverdale): I have a point of order from section 97(a). The member for Windsor-Riverside made an inquiry of the ministry which reads: "Would the Minister of Community and Social Services advise how many calls made to the province's welfare fraud hotline since October 2, 1995, concern actual welfare (both GWA and FBA) recipients. November 15, 1995."

I raise this because there have been many, many inquiries to this particular ministry for several months, since 1995, and I raise it because these questions are of great concern to those of us who are feeling more and more that welfare recipients are under attack in this province.


This hotline was set up and there have been statements made from time to time that seem to imply that all welfare recipients are either cheats or lazy bums who have to be forced to get back in the workforce. This is of great concern --

The Speaker: Order. Have you read the motion? Thank you.

Mr Rosario Marchese (Fort York): On the same point of order, Mr Speaker: Under subsection 97(a), order question 110, my friend and colleague from Windsor-Riverside has put the question to the Minister of Community and Social Services, in fact a number of questions. As you can see, all of my colleagues have raised these questions because they're concerned about the questions we have asked the minister. They arise out of what the public raises as fears and concerns they have, and it's a whole catalogue of requests. This question here from Mr Cooke, an inquiry to the ministry, where it asks, "Would the Minister of Community and Social Services advise how many police investigations have been initiated as a result of calls made to the province's welfare fraud hotline since October 1995," was submitted November 15, 1995.

Mr Speaker, the minister has a duty to answer these questions because the public is very concerned about these kinds of questions that we have raised. If we don't get the answers from the minister, the public continues to be worried about these questions and you have a duty too, Mr Speaker, to urge them to respond as quickly as they can on these matters.

The Speaker: The member for London Centre on the same point of order?

Mrs Marion Boyd (London Centre): Yes, on standing order 97(a), I would like to give you notice that a question that was raised by Mr Cooke on November 15, 1995, number 109, has also not been answered. Mr Speaker, this is a very important one because we hear the Minister of Community and Social Services talking and today got more information about the expectation that we would see a lowering of the amount of provincial support to social assistance as a result of cracking down on these rules.

The question that Mr Cooke asked was, "Would the Minister of Community and Social Services advise how many social assistance recipients have been disentitled as a result of calls made to the province's welfare fraud hotline since October 2, 1995."

That's a very important question. It certainly has relevance and bearing on the kind of savings that the government, in its report today, is claiming to be making. I believe the minister should be answering this question for all of our information because if all this rhetoric about people defrauding the system is not so, then those savings are not going to result. We really are entitled to know how many people have been disentitled as a result of this move that was introduced with great fanfare.

I would ask, Mr Speaker, that you again ask the minister to respond to this question.

The Speaker: Thank you. The member for Sudbury East on a new point of order?

Ms Martel: On the same point of order, Mr Speaker.

The Speaker: You have made a point of order with regard to section 97.

Ms Martel: On the same issue, a new point of order: I would like to raise with you the problem of yet another order paper question that has not been responded to, either by this government or by the Minister of Community and Social Services.

It follows up from the concern that was raised by my colleague from London, and she specifically was concerned about how many people to date have been disentitled from benefits as a result of calls made to the ministry around the issue of fraud.

I want to follow up on this idea of fraud and specifically refer to the question that my --

The Speaker: Order. Would the member have a specific question on the order paper she would like to refer to?

Ms Martel: Yes, I do, Mr Speaker. It was an order paper question that was submitted by my colleague from Windsor-Riverside, Mr Cooke, on November 15, 1995.

The Speaker: Order. The member has already raised that point of order. Is there another one? Would you identify the number on the order paper?

Ms Martel: I'm just getting to that. It's order paper question number 111 and it refers to fraud charges. Specifically, my colleague the member for Windsor-Riverside directed this inquiry to the Minister of Community and Social Services. It reads as follows:

"111. Would the Minister of Community and Social Services advise how many fraud charges have been laid as a result of calls made to the province's welfare fraud hotline since October 2, 1995."

This is an important question, Mr Speaker, because you will recall that very early in October the Minister of Community and Social Services, with much fanfare, announced in this House and announced publicly a fraud hotline that they were establishing in an effort to crack down on unworthy welfare recipients. Not only was that number announced here in the House, but it was sent out to a number of social services offices around the province, to constituency offices, and was posted in other public places so that members of the public could --

The Speaker: I will accept you and your number that you have. If you're dissatisfied with question number 111 of Mr Cooke, the inquiry to the ministry, I would appreciate it if you would read me what that question is, and that will be it.

Ms Martel: Mr Speaker, I will read it to you again. It is a request by Mr Cooke, my colleague from Windsor-Riverside, an inquiry of the ministry which reads as follows:

"111. Would the Minister of Community and Social Services advise how many fraud charges have been laid as a result of calls made to the province's welfare fraud hotline since October 2, 1995."

That question was submitted to the minister on November 15, 1995. We have yet to receive a response to a question that I think was very important, considering how much fanfare was around the announcement regarding the welfare fraud hotline. I suspect that the reason we haven't gotten a response is because there probably haven't been any fraud charges, or a very small number.

The Speaker: Thank you. I have had the opportunity to review some of the questions on the order paper and I find that there are many questions on the order paper that have not been answered, nor has there been any indication that they're going to be answered. I would take it under advisement that all of these questions are on the order paper and I would urge the ministers to take what's happening here in this House this afternoon and I would ask all ministers to look into it. I would think that the issue could be closed, now that I've ruled that all the questions on the order paper should be answered.

Mr Pouliot: On a point of order, Mr Speaker: With respect, I am seeking to be recognized. I thank you very kindly. You're right. With the highest of respect, you've heard my eloquent colleague the member for Sudbury East focus on how many fraud charges; I wish to go to 112 and focus on how many people. Let me read it into the record because it's very important. I know that you share in the sorrow, that you share in my concern. We're talking about errors of omission; we're talking about repetitive neglect. It becomes a political lifestyle with them.

Mr Cooke will not be denied. The resolve is there. We know his track record, speaking on behalf of people, in inquiries of the ministry: "Would the Minister of Community and Social Services" -- time and time again under 112 he knocks at his door and says: "Minister, give me an answer. This is the question: `How many people have been charged as a result of calls made to the province's welfare fraud hotline since October 2, 1995?'" Again November 15, la date fatidique, 1995. To date, Mr Speaker, no response.


Mr Silipo: On a point of order, Mr Speaker: We have been raising a number of points relating to the Minister of Community and Social Services and his failure to answer questions, although those questions were tabled almost five months ago.

I want to raise a different point on a similar issue with respect to another minister of this government, and that is the Minister of Education and Training. I want to refer you, Mr Speaker, to order paper question 115, and I think it's a very timely one, given the events that have taken place this afternoon, because that question standing in the name of my interim leader, Mr Wildman --

Mr Pouliot: Fine gentleman.

Mr Silipo: -- a fine gentleman and a fine representative for Algoma, says:

"Inquiry of the ministry -- Would the Minister of Education and Training provide" -- I think this is important, Mr Speaker -- "the percentage of persons who hold valid teaching certificates and are employed by public and separate school boards in Ontario who teach students. What percentage of all personnel who are employed by school boards across the province actually teach students in primary and secondary schools."

That is a question that was tabled on November 22, 1995. As you know, Mr Speaker, I spent some time in that ministry. I would think that information -- I know in fact that information is readily available in the Ministry of Education, and I find it passing strange that we have yet to hear from the Minister of Education and Training on this question that was asked four and a half months ago.

The Speaker: I've heard the member's point of order and I would urge the minister to respond.

Mr Bisson: On a point of order, Mr Speaker, in regard to section 97(a): Standing in the name of Mr Cooke, in question number 142, an inquiry was made to the Minister of Community and Social Services. I see the date on that was November 22, 1995, and as you know, Mr Speaker, this should have been responded to some months ago. I just want to bring to your attention that it seems this particular question in the name of Mr Cooke directed the inquiry to the Minister of Community and Social Services in regard to the question of workfare, and it reads as follows:

"Mr Cooke -- Inquiry of the ministry -- Would the Minister of Community and Social Services advise what service agencies or community organizations have contacted the ministry to express an interest in participating in workfare programs."

As you know, this issue is now before the House, and to have the answers to these questions I think is paramount for the people of Ontario to be able to understand what government plans are coming forward, and as I say, this dates back to November 22, 1995, and what the --

The Speaker: Yes, the member has a point of order, and I would urge the minister to look into it.

Mr Kormos: I'm rising on a point of order, Speaker, and it's with respect to standing order 97, paragraphs (a), (b), (c), (d), (e) and (f). Of course, in view of the standing order under which I rise, I want to draw your attention to an inquiry made of the ministry and an inquiry that has been appropriately noted as a question on the Orders and Notices for the Legislative Assembly of Ontario for the first session of the 36th Parliament. It's an inquiry that Mr Cooke, who's the member for Windsor-Riverside, presented.

The Speaker: Which number are you referring to?

Mr Kormos: Mr Speaker, I can't hear a darn thing.

The Speaker: Would the member refer to which --

Mr Kormos: I'm trying to, but people are talking to my left in the rump.

As I say, Mr Cooke, the member for Windsor-Riverside, as an inquiry of the ministry, put this question on November 22, 1995, which is, as has been noted, not just a while ago, but a long time ago. Of course, in your determination of my point of order, the Speaker is entitled, in my respectful submission, to consider the complexity of the question and the speed with which a reasonable person could expect it to be responded to, and the question Mr Cooke, member for Windsor-Riverside, put to Minister David Tsubouchi was:

"Would the Minister of Community and Social Services inform the House what the terms of reference are for the review -- "

Mr Silipo: The member opposite would like you to slow down a little bit.

Mr Kormos: I'm sorry. Speaker, this is being translated by the French-language translation staff, who work very hard, and of course I'm speaking --


Mr Kormos: Speaker, may I please speak without interruption.

The Speaker: Number 143 is a rather short one. I wonder if the member would please read it and then we will carry on with another one.

Mr Kormos: I don't want the French-language translation people to be inconvenienced. The question that was put was, "Would the Minister of Community and Social Services inform the House what the terms of reference are for the review announced on November 2, 1995, that the `ministry is in the early stages right now of doing an overall review of the child care area...to be done under the able leadership'" -- I'm sorry, that's what it says, Speaker --

The Speaker: The member does have a point of order, and I would ask the minister to look into the point of order the member has raised. Would the member take his seat, please.

Ms Churley: On a point of order, Mr Speaker, under section 97(a) of the standing rules of order: Inquiry 144 by Mr Cooke, the member for Windsor-Riverside, was to the Ministry of Community and Social Services. Again, this particular inquiry was on the so-called child review the minister announced some very long time ago. Of course, we don't have the results of that so-called review yet.

Number 144 reads, "Would the Minister of Community and Social Services inform the House what the budget is for the review of child care announced on November 2, 1995, that the `ministry is in the early stages right now of doing an overall review of the child care area...to be done'" -- get this -- "`under the able leadership of my parliamentary assistant, Janet Ecker.'" Dated November 22, 1995.

The Speaker: The member for Fort York, do you have a point of order?

Mr Marchese: Yes, Mr Speaker, I do, under section 97(a).

The Speaker: Yes, referring to which order paper?


Mr Marchese: Mr Speaker, I realize that you seem to be impatient, and I know some of the members appear to be impatient with some of these order questions. I appreciate that, but as you can see, we have a catalogue of questions and a catalogue of inquiries that have been made that have not been responded to. It's a problem for us, and it's a problem for the public, obviously, from which these questions and inquiries come, because they want to know and the ministers are not responding. That's a problem to me and to those who are asking the same types of questions.

The question --


Mr Marchese: It's coming. The question that has been asked by the member for Windsor-Riverside reads, "Would the Minister of Community and Social Services inform the House if there are any other members of the review team announced on November 2, 1995, that the `ministry is in the early stages right now of doing an overall review of the child care area...to be done under the able leadership of my parliamentary assistant, Janet Ecker.'"


This is another inquiry. There have been many inquiries. We want to know the answers. It's an easy inquiry. It's not complicated, yet it's taking the minister a great deal of time to --

The Speaker: Order. The member does have a point of order and I would refer that the ministry would certainly look into these.

Mr Gilchrist: On a point of order, Mr Speaker: I too am concerned that due to the workload that's been on all the ministers during the recent troubles here, the labour discussions and all the other work being done for the business plan, some questions have not been answered according to the two-week timetable. I would direct to your attention that questions 146, 167, 168, 169, 170, 171, 172, 173, 174, 175, 176, 177, 178, 179, 180, 181, 182, 183, 184 and 185 are the outstanding questions on the order paper beyond two weeks. I would encourage you to request the ministers, at their earliest opportunity, to provide an answer or to decline one.

The Speaker: The member does have a point of order. I will request the ministers and encourage them and urge them to answer those questions.

Mr Pouliot: On a point of order, Mr Speaker: With respect, sometimes when you are in a hurry, you don't give the diligence and the attention that those very serious concerns deserve. You miss things. You reach into the hat and there are no more rabbits, so you miss. For instance, I draw your attention to a matter of importance, very serious: "Inquiry of the ministry -- Would each minister provide details of all communications consulting contracts awarded by the ministry since July 1, 1995." Of course, I'm referring to 202, April 9, 1996. It's not due yet, but we want to make sure there will be a change of form and that 202 will be addressed before the deadline.

The Speaker: Order. Question 202 is not out of order. You're out of order. The inquiry is not out of order.

Mr Bisson: On a point of order, Mr Speaker: In due diligence, I don't think the member opposite had sufficient time to be able to properly list before the House all the various questions that haven't been answered that were put before the government much time ago. I would just say, if the members opposite are losing patience, imagine how we feel. We've been waiting five months for these and I think we've been very patient up to this point. If the government ministers would have responded in time, as per the standing orders, we wouldn't be in this situation.

I want to bring to your attention, Mr Speaker, that on November 22, 1995, in the name of Mr Cooke, there was an inquiry that was made to the ministry --

The Speaker: Order. The member for Scarborough East has raised a point of order and has indicated -- when the Speaker is standing, I would appreciate it if the member would take his seat.

The member for Scarborough East has read the inquiry numbers up to the ones that are out of order. He has read each one of them and they are out of order. I would urge the ministries responsible for answering those questions to do it immediately.

Mr Kormos: Point of privilege, Mr Speaker.

The Speaker: Orders of the day.

Mr Kormos: Point of privilege, Mr Speaker.

The Speaker: There is nothing out of order.

Clerk Assistant and Clerk of Committees (Ms Deborah Deller): Resuming the adjourned debate on the motion for second reading of Bill 34, An Act to amend the Education Act.

Mr Kormos: Point of privilege.

The Speaker: The member on a point of privilege.

Mr Kormos: Thank you, Mr Speaker. I rose and politely asked to be able to rise on a point of privilege. I make reference of course to the standing rules of order, and that is: "The Speaker shall" -- and I tell you, sir, with respect, that "shall" is an imperative -- "preserve order and decorum, and shall" -- once again, sir, with due respect, that is an imperative -- "decide questions of privilege and points of order." I'm referring to standing order 13(a), sir. "In making a decision on a question of privilege or point of order or explaining a practice, the Speaker may state the applicable standing order or authority."

I rise on privilege, because I tell you, sir, it is not merely -- and if I may juxtapose standing order 13, to which I just made reference, with standing order 97(a) --

The Speaker: Order. I would like to read to the member the standing order he referred to, standing order 13(a). It says:

"The Speaker shall preserve order and decorum, and shall decide questions of privilege and points of order. In making a decision on a question of privilege or point of order or explaining a practice, the Speaker may state the applicable standing order or authority."

There's nothing out of order. The orders of the day have been called.

Mr Kormos: Speaker, I stood on a point of privilege.

The Speaker: You have a point of privilege?

Mr Kormos: Privilege, as you know, sir --


Mr Kormos: I'm sorry, sir, once again I can't hear a word you're saying. I stand on a point of privilege, because I'm not going to suggest for the briefest of moments that this is a simple issue. I'm speaking --


Mr Kormos: It's awfully difficult to speak to this point of privilege when I'm constantly being interrupted by other members of the assembly. Please, Speaker.


Mr Kormos: I stand on a point of privilege, and this is the kind of respect this House has for a breach of privilege?

In any event, I made reference to standing order 13 because of course standing order 13 conjoins your status with respect to determining order as well as privilege, and of course privilege takes precedence. Now, here I was. With respect, I submit that there's been some confusion. The mere fact that these questions are listed in the Orders and Notices paper has deluded -- not diluted, but deluded -- some members into believing that it is a point of order.

Speaker, if I may, the questions are put forward, and they're put forward publicly. The reason for the time frame in terms of a response is so that one can, regardless of where one sits in this assembly, take note of the questions. The reason they're published is so that one can take note and expect there to be an answer tabled within a reasonable period of time.

My point of privilege, sir --

The Speaker: I don't find the member has a point of privilege when he's referring to the inquiries made of the ministries when we have dealt with those inquiries and I have ruled on them. I don't find the member has a point of privilege, because they have been dealt with, the orders of the day have been called, and Mr Wildman --


The Speaker: Order. I had indicated that the orders of the day had been called. Mr Wildman has the floor when debate comes. You have a point of privilege, and I would like to hear your point of privilege.

Mr Kormos: Please, Speaker, these are not unimportant things. In any event, I was trying to direct the Speaker's attention to standing order 13 in relationship to standing order 97, paragraphs (a) through (f). I was asking the Speaker, and I ask the Speaker again, to please consider that there may well have been some confusion about the point to be raised in response to a failure to respond to the questions in an appropriate time.

The Speaker: Order. We have dealt with those questions at the appropriate time, and I don't find that you have a point of privilege with regard to referring to the questions of the inquiry.


Mr Kormos: I'm telling you, Speaker, I'm trying to lay out the groundwork to ask the Speaker to consider a case where I believe my privileges as a member of this Legislative Assembly have been contravened, and I think it behooves --

The Speaker: Order. We have a member who is speaking to the debate. I don't see anything out of order. We're into debate.


The Speaker: If the member has a point of privilege he wants to raise, we're into the debate. If you want to raise your point of privilege quickly, you can do it, but we're into the debate.

Mrs Boyd: We're not in the debate. He was not recognized.

The Speaker: Order. The orders of the day have been called. We are into the debate. I recognized Mr Wildman, who is not here, and the member from St Catharines was next on the debate line.

Mr Silipo: Mr Speaker, on a point of order.

The Speaker: The member for Dovercourt on a point of order.

Mr Kormos: I'd like to resume my point of privilege.

Mr Silipo: Mr Speaker, I did not hear you recognize any member in the debate. If a member has not been recognized, the member for Welland-Thorold was on his feet on a point of privilege.

The Speaker: Order. The order had been called --


The Speaker: If you would listen just for a minute, the order has been called. I asked then for debate. Mr Wildman had the floor and he was not here, so the next member to speak was a member from the government.

Mr Silipo: Mr Speaker, on that point: I do not quibble with you on the sequence of speakers; it would go from this party to the government side. My point is, you had not recognized anyone; you had not recognized the member standing. At that point the member for Welland-Thorold was on his feet speaking to you, sir, on a point of privilege.

How could you be recognizing anyone when the member for Welland-Thorold was standing, speaking to you on a point of privilege, sir? Mr Speaker, I ask for your reply, please, on that. The member for Welland-Thorold was on his feet. He was speaking to you, and you can't all of a sudden say that you had recognized someone whom you did not recognize.

The Speaker: I had asked the member for Welland-Thorold to take his seat previously when we had called the order. I asked him to take his seat and I said that when the debate last adjourned, Mr Wildman had the floor.


The Speaker: Order. You can check Hansard. I anticipate that you will find that I said Mr Wildman had the floor in the last of the debate. When he is not here, it goes in rotation and the next government member.

Mr Marchese: On that point, Mr Speaker.

The Speaker: No. I've ruled. It's over. The member from Brock has the floor.

Mr Tom Froese (St Catharines-Brock): When we talk about the Ontario education system, every single member in this House has one goal and one goal alone. Whether you're a member of the government or the opposition, you have one goal and one goal alone, and that is to provide the best possible programs and services to all the children in the province. The members of this House, and indeed all the parents and taxpayers in Ontario, expect nothing less.


The Speaker: Order. Would the members take their seats, please. The orders of the day were called and I indicated that Mr Wildman had the floor when the last of the debate was on. Mr Kormos, the member for Welland-Thorold, was on a point of personal privilege and I acknowledged his point of privilege, and the member from St Catharines got up and started to speak --


The Speaker: Order.

Mr Marchese: I have a point of order, Mr Speaker, when you're ready.

The Speaker: Okay. The debate is on, but the member has a point of order.

The member for Oriole.

Mrs Elinor Caplan (Oriole): I rise on a legitimate point of order. I just heard you say that you recognized the member from St Catharines. The member for St Catharines is my colleague Mr Bradley. Mr Bradley was not recognized in this debate, and I just wanted to bring that to your attention to make sure that you hadn't inadvertently called --

The Speaker: I would hope that would correct the record. If it won't, I will. It was St Catharines-Brock I was referring to.

Mr Marchese: On a point of order, Mr Speaker: I was listening very attentively, for a very good reason. I was prepared today to speak on Bill 34. You never went, in fact, to the member from St Catharines, because had you done so, I was ready to, on my feet, request, as I'm going to now, that we have unanimous consent to split the time, because Mr Wildman from Algoma --


The Speaker: Order.

Mr Marchese: Mr Speaker, hear me out. Mr Kormos, my colleague, was on the floor when you said to him that he could speak. You never went to the member from St Catharines because -- because you didn't. And why didn't you? Because you were dealing with that member over there. I was prepared, had that discussion finished, to do what I'm about to do now, and that is to ask for unanimous consent for this House to allow me to split the time with the member for Algoma because he could not be here to speak on Bill 34.

The Speaker: Do we have unanimous consent to split the time? We don't have unanimous consent.

Mr Bisson: On a point of order, Mr Speaker: The standing orders are quite clear, if the members would listen. If a member stands in the House and says, "I, as a member of this House, stand on a point of privilege," the standing orders are quite clear, and I read, "(a) Privileges are the rights enjoyed by the House collectively and by the members of the House individually conferred by the Legislative Assembly Act and other statutes, or by practice, precedent, usage and custom." And (b) says -- pay attention, Mr Speaker -- "Whenever a matter of privilege arises, it shall be taken into consideration immediately."

He was up on a point of privilege. You had to recognize him. The member from the government side tried to get up in order to move orders of the day. He cannot get the floor in orders of the day because this very member was up on a point of personal privilege. The standing orders are clear, Mr Speaker. We have not entered into the debate on this bill because this member was trying to get to a point of privilege and you tried -

The Speaker: Order. I'd like to inform the member that we did enter into the debate and --

Mr Marchese: We did not, Mr Speaker.

The Speaker: Yes, we did.

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

The House adjourned at 1759.