36th Parliament, 1st Session

L058 - Tue 16 Apr 1996 / Mar 16 Avr 1996















































The House met at 1333.




Mr Monte Kwinter (Wilson Heights): Today is Yom Hashoah, Holocaust Remembrance Day. Each year we remember the events that took place under the Nazi regime in Europe over 50 years ago, events that saw the attempted systematic extermination of a total race with the extermination of six million Jews.

Each year, as we commemorate the Holocaust, there are those who ask, why must we continue to dwell on the past; why not look to the future and direct our energies to forward-looking pursuits? The answer is as profound as it is simple. Without remembering and learning from the past, the possibility of having to relive that dark period in our history is ever-present.

Today there is evidence of cemetery desecrations, synagogue defacings, growing anti-Semitism, revisionist proponents proclaiming that the Holocaust never happened, all of it happening in an environment of supposed enlightenment, human rights and man's humanity to man. We owe it to the six million victims and to the ever-dwindling survivors of the Holocaust, those survivors who witnessed unbelievable atrocities at first hand and who, because of their age, will soon be gone, we owe it to them to alert all of those people and to warn them of the threats not only to those of the Jewish faith but to all of the members of our society.

We must always remember so that the world will never forget.


Mrs Marion Boyd (London Centre): I'd like to bring to the attention of the assembly, and particularly my colleagues the Minister of Health and the Minister of Community and Social Services, the plight of one of my constituents, named Lisa Langford, who has Prader-Willi syndrome, a non-inherited genetic disorder that affects small numbers of people but is very serious.

This is a disorder which has multiple symptoms, including developmental handicap, behavioural dysfunction and an eating disorder which results in a constant sense of hunger and anxiety around food. The eating disorder, when combined with the low muscle tone, short stature and low metabolic rate of the person with Prader-Willi syndrome, can result in explosive weight gain over a very short period of time. People with this syndrome need constant support and supervision. They must have a stable, structured and supervised environment 24 hours a day. Without supervision, the situation can become critical, and tragically 11 young people with this syndrome have died over the past four years because this kind of support was not available.

Lisa currently has no permanent residential space and she is wanting to work with her supporters at the Ontario Prader-Willi Syndrome Association and Family Service London to find that. I will be handing a note to the Minister of Community and Social Services and enlisting him in helping Lisa to find a permanent home.


Mr R. Gary Stewart (Peterborough): I rise in the House today to announce to all members of this assembly that Peterborough has once again dealt with hospital rationalization and restructuring with a great deal of success.

Yesterday Ontario Health Minister Jim Wilson joined me and the residents of my riding for the opening of Peterborough Civic Hospital's new intensive care unit and St Joseph's General Hospital's outpatient clinic. The opening of both units is the product of many years of rationalization and consolidation. All critical care beds will now be located on one site, while most of the outpatient clinics will be situated at the other hospital. These openings are proof that when faced with the challenges of providing quality health care in a more efficient manner, communities such as Peterborough can rise to the occasion.

I wish to thank the many volunteers, hospital staff and members of the community who have worked tirelessly to make such an event a reality. Many long hours were spent in raising private sector donations. Donations for Civic's intensive care unit today have totalled $1 million, and organizers anticipate an additional $400,000 in the near future. My personal thanks to all those members of the community who donated.

Our government is committed to providing the people of this province with quality health care, and so are the people from my riding. Yesterday's opening is an excellent example of how successful our health care system can truly be when everyone works together.


Mr Mario Sergio (Yorkview): The Premier would have us believe that tax cuts alone will stimulate job creation. If this logic is true, why are the banks continually laying off thousands of their employees? A lot of banks have successfully appealed their property tax rates. In some instances these reductions have amounted to over $1 million per bank firm.

If what the Premier said is true, that tax reductions will create jobs, why is it then that banks that received millions in tax reductions while making millions in corporate profits are still laying off staff?

The broken promises on job creation are starting to sound like a broken record. This government should be taking the lead in job creation, working with industry and business to create jobs and prosperity rather than solely relying on a tax cut.

As it stands today, the government is placing its faith in business, believing that corporations will take it upon themselves to create the 725,000 jobs that Mike Harris promised. If the banks' track record is any indication, the promised job creation plan is then in serious jeopardy.



Ms Marilyn Churley (Riverdale): In March 1995, the Ontario Task Force on the Primary Prevention of Cancer tabled its recommendations to the government of Ontario. This report lays out a broad range of measures that must be followed if we are indeed serious about stemming the rising incidence of so many forms of cancer. In Ontario, we lose over 20,000 lives every year to cancer, many more suffer pain and anguish in the battle to recover, and treating cancer patients costs us in excess of $1 billion annually.

We all know that we have to make informed lifestyle choices if we wish to avoid the tragedy that often follows a diagnosis of cancer. However, none of us gets to choose whether we breathe air or drink water, and these activities are unfortunately a growing mode of transmission for environmentally borne toxins that can cause cancer and other health problems.

Despite our tremendous progress in cancer research, too often there is no cure available when the diagnosis is cancer.

I've tabled a resolution asking the government to act quickly to plan the sunsetting of the release of persistent, bioaccumulative carcinogens. I'm sure every member in this House has been touched by the tragedy of cancer. I hope I can count on all the members' support when my resolution is discussed this Thursday at 10 am.


Mr Tom Froese (St Catharines-Brock): It is my privilege to acknowledge the important work that the Community Care agency does in the Niagara area. Starting out in 1919 by Leone Taylor, the agency was originally called Associated Charities, later becoming Associated Services in 1971. It received its current name in 1993.

Community Care receives donations from the United Way of St Catharines, church groups, service clubs and many, many individuals. Clearly they depend on the help of others, and others depend on their help in their time of need.

This government is taking a proactive and progressive approach in acknowledging the important role that volunteer groups and individuals offer to all Ontarians. We want to encourage those groups who are ever-present in providing a helping hand. Community Care is such a group. For years they have had a food cupboard, a clothing and household goods program and a very special Christmas bureau.

On behalf of my government and everyone they serve, I would like to recognize and thank the St Catharines-Thorold Community Care agency.


Mr Pat Hoy (Essex-Kent): This Wednesday, the Chatham-Kent YMCA will honour five women from Kent county as Women of Excellence. These awards are to recognize women who have made contributions above and beyond the call of duty to their community and to provide positive role models.

The five women being recognized are:

Shae-Lynn Bourne, who recently won the bronze medal at the 1996 World Figure Skating Championships and who, along with many other activities, is the spokeswoman for the Chatham-Kent child abuse prevention program;

Anne Coulter, who is the executive director of family services, Kent. She has volunteered for and served on many groups and boards which make Kent county better for everyone;

Ida Goodreau, who was the first female operations manager and first female vice-president of Union Gas. She implemented various policy developments that affected women at Union Gas and was very active in many community activities.

Dolores Shadd, who has been very active in many activities which benefit farm women and the community in general. In addition to her many awards, she was chosen by the National Film Board to represent farm women in the black history film Older Stronger Wiser.

Michelle Wright, a Merlin native, has twice been selected the Canadian Country Entertainer of the Year. Despite her busy schedule, she remains active in Kent county and acted as honorary chairwoman of the St Joseph's Hospital campaign to raise funds for a CT scanner.

I would like to congratulate all of these women and thank them as Women of Excellence.


Mr Tony Martin (Sault Ste Marie): This weekend, the Sault Star in my community ran a headline that read, "Health Cuts Can Kill, Forum Hears." "Residents accuse Premier of having blood on his hands at local meeting." The reporter who wrote the story that went under this headline, Linda Richardson, sat for a full afternoon with myself and my colleague the member for Algoma, Bud Wildman, as we listened to members of our communities tell stories of anger and frustration and real sadness as they recounted attempts by themselves or loved ones to access the health care system in our community.

You've heard me, Mr Speaker, on numerous occasions in this House ask the Ministry of Health to reconsider the cuts to our hospitals, which have already done the very difficult and important work of restructuring and rationalizing and cost-cutting. I have asked them to put their tax break on hold until they can guarantee that people will not get hurt. This government has not responded to me in any way, either positive or negative, regarding these very important issues to the people of my community.

People are being hurt now. People are going to continue to be hurt. Some of the people who came in front of me told some very compelling stories, stories that brought tears to the eyes of many of the participants in the room. There were about 50 people there. I ask you to intervene and ask this government to stop the tax breaks, stop hurting people.


Ms Isabel Bassett (St Andrew-St Patrick): On March 30, the Premier, Mike Harris, and several MPPs and I attended the Ismaili business and professional association's award ceremony in honour of outstanding individuals in their community who have demonstrated leadership, innovation, ingenuity and community involvement.

The award for overall outstanding achievement was given to Aneela Lada and Shameera Jaffer, president and vice-president respectively of BMS Softkey. Several other individuals were acknowledged in the areas of professional, business and junior achievers.

It gives me great pleasure to announce the winners in the area of outstanding achievement: Noorjehan Mawanee, chair of the refugee board of Canada; Dr Salim Deeya, professor at McMaster University; and Karim and Altaf Halanee, president and vice-president at Ultinet Computer Corp.

The awards for professional excellence were given to Amir Ajanee, senior vice-president of Cara Operations, and Meenhas N. Mohamed, executive vice-president of Quoram Funding Corp. For excellence in business, Fareed Veeya, president of Raleigh Industries, and Azad Datoo, president of Progress Sports Inc, were selected.

Lastly, for excellence in the junior achievement category, Sabrina Kassam and Arif Datoo, both students, were selected.

Mr Bud Wildman (Algoma): On a point of order, Mr Speaker: I would ask the members of the House for unanimous consent to allow a member of the government to announce the terms of reference for the public inquiry which was promised by the government House leader on March 20.

The Speaker: The member has asked for unanimous consent. Agreed? We don't have unanimous consent.

Oral question period.

Mrs Lyn McLeod (Leader of the Opposition): My first question is for the Deputy Premier, Minister of Finance, who we do expect is in the House and --

Mr Wildman: He's out doing the terms of reference.

Mrs McLeod: If he does not return to the House, I'm quite frankly not sure who is there for me to ask my question to. So I'll stand down the first lead question and defer to my colleague for the second lead question until the minister arrives.




Mr Sean G. Conway (Renfrew North): My question is to the Minister of Environment and Energy. Minister, I want to pursue the discussion of yesterday, because I listened carefully and I read closely your response to my question, and I'm not yet sure that I understand the government policy in this respect. So let me try again.

Minister, as the senior policymaker on energy and hydro matters for the Ontario government, are you and your government prepared to sell Niagara Falls?

Hon Brenda Elliott (Minister of Environment and Energy): I thank the honourable member opposite for the question. Niagara Falls is not ours to sell; it's an international waterway and it is not up for sale.

Mr Conway: The Ontario government and the Ontario people have, over nearly a century, developed very considerable public assets in terms of hydro-electric resources on the Canadian portion of Niagara Falls. Minister, are you and your government prepared to sell the Ontario government's hydro-electric resources and assets at Niagara Falls?

Hon Mrs Elliott: I quite agree with the honourable member opposite that the citizens of the province have developed a considerable asset in Ontario Hydro. It's an asset all citizens are proud of, it's an asset I think we all appreciate, and it's an asset we want to protect.

Ontario Hydro has found itself in a situation with a heavy debt load and with uncompetitive rates. It is my job, as Minister of Energy, to determine how to protect those assets and to make sure those rates remain low and that the power provided to the citizens is done in an affordable and a reliable way.

Mr Conway: The minister is very careful to say that she and her government are anxious to protect the Ontario public assets at Niagara Falls, so I ask again: In her interest of protecting the public assets at Niagara Falls, are she and her government prepared to sell Ontario's hydro-electric assets at Niagara Falls?

Hon Mrs Elliott: The reason we are looking at Ontario Hydro is to determine how best to maintain and secure low rates for electricity in this province. In so doing, we have been seeking advice from people all across this province and looking at examples of what is happening in other jurisdictions which are facing similar difficulties as this province is facing.

We have not yet determined how we should do that. We have not yet determined if private capital should be injected into the system to help it. None of those questions are determined. We are seeking advice and we will listen to the advice that is being brought to us in an attempt to make sure we find the appropriate way to ascertain and maintain those low rates.

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

Mrs Lyn McLeod (Leader of the Opposition): It's incredible that this minister will not rule out at least that very basic selloff of one of Ontario's most important and valued assets.


Mrs Lyn McLeod (Leader of the Opposition): I will direct my question to the Deputy Premier, the Minister of Finance. Last Tuesday, the Minister of Transportation made the following claim, and I quote him directly from Hansard: "We are going to be putting more money into our highway infrastructure this year than we have in the last six years."

On Thursday, as you know well, the so-called interim business plans were released. Strangely, the business plan for the Ministry of Transportation showed a $70-million cut to road repair and maintenance funding, and at the same time, $11.5 million was cut from the funding for northern highways. That comes on top of $110 million in road cuts last summer and at least $250 million from municipal road funding in last November's economic statement. We are now over $400 million in cuts to road funding.

Minister, I wonder if you can provide us with any insight as to why your colleague the Minister of Transportation is under the impression that road funding is somehow on the increase.

Hon Ernie L. Eves (Deputy Premier, Minister of Finance and Government House Leader): No, I cannot.

Mrs McLeod: Given the fact that yesterday the Solicitor General also seemed to be at some odds with the Minister of Transportation on the issue of raising the speed limit on certain Ontario highways, I guess I find myself wondering whether the Minister of Transportation is in communication with anybody in cabinet or whether he simply says what comes into his mind at a given moment, because, Minister, last Tuesday your colleague the Minister of Transportation also said: "The good repair of our highways is a very critical thing. For our economic growth, we must pay attention...."

I don't think there are very many people in this House or in this province who would disagree with that statement. Our highway system is critical. And yet, while the minister was saying this just last Tuesday, he must surely have been aware that he was about to cut $70 million more from a budget that he had already savaged. So I have to be curious as to what happened. Did the Minister of Transportation somehow convince the cabinet that cutting road maintenance in his budget would somehow enhance Ontario's highways and improve our economic growth?

Hon Mr Eves: It is my understanding that the reduction in the MTO budget is a reduction in capital construction allocation and the construction administration portion totalling, as the Leader of the Opposition correctly points out, $70.5 million over two years, but it is also my understanding that it does not affect the maintenance budget with respect to the provincial highway system, which will be maintained.

Mrs McLeod: It seems to me that this falls into the category of a wishful hope that the government is going to be able to do more for less, as they're fond of saying, and I think the Minister of Finance should be aware that they have a great deal more to do with a great deal less money.

The member for Hamilton East gave us one of the most recent anecdotes this morning, and I think people across the province are running into this kind of situation. The member for Hamilton West was caught in a traffic jam at the corner of Bronte and the QEW. It was a traffic jam that was caused by the fact that three separate drivers had to pull over because they got flat tires driving over some of the bigger potholes on the QEW. There is a great deal of road maintenance that needs to be done in this province, Minister, and there is no one who doesn't notice the deterioration in our highways.

I think it's possible that your colleague the Minister of Transportation got caught in his own spin documents, because I certainly got confused by them. The interim business plan that his ministry released last week contains the following passage: "The ministry is shifting its focus from expansion projects to preserving Ontario's infrastructure." That's how they explained how they were going to cope with this cut. Then it goes on to detail the millions of dollars in cuts on top of the cuts of last summer and on top of the cuts of last fall.

The Minister of Transportation, despite those cuts, insists -- this was his statement last week -- that he will spend more on highway maintenance this year than has been spent in the last six years. I ask you, as the Minister of Finance, do you stand by the commitment made by the Minister of Transportation, and will you confirm that in your budget next month you will show an increase in spending on highway funding? If that is not the case, why are you confusing the Minister of Transportation so much?

Hon Mr Eves: I hope I'm not confusing anybody, let alone the Minister of Transportation. I say to the Leader of the Opposition that she will have to wait until, of course, the budget is tabled next month before she sees what the exact figures are. But I have every confidence that the Minister of Transportation is indeed going to maintain, if not increase, moneys for maintenance and preservation of our highway system. I might point out to the leader of the official opposition that there are still considerable moneys being spent on capital projects in the province of Ontario.

Mrs McLeod: I'd just make a note. Apparently I said both "the member for Hamilton East" and "the member for Hamilton West." I assure the House it's the member for Hamilton East. The member for Hamilton West I'm sure is herself telling the minister about the potholes.



Mr Howard Hampton (Rainy River): My question is for the Minister of Environment and Energy. There has been a lot of concern recently about the quality of water in Ontario, and in particular the quality of water in the Collingwood area. You know that a parasite, cryptosporidium, has been found in the local water supply. Last week, Minister, you assured all the residents of Collingwood that the water was perfectly safe. You said in this House that the water is safe.

This is a bottle of Collingwood water. It looks safe to drink, but many residents believe it contains the parasite cryptosporidium. The 152 people in Collingwood who reported cases of cryptosporidiosis, and there are now 30 confirmed cases, don't believe you. They don't believe their water is safe.

Minister, many people blame this problem on agricultural runoff. In view of this fact, do you think it was prudent for you to cancel the Clean Up Rural Beaches, or CURB, program, that provided assistance to farmers to separate agricultural runoff?

Hon Brenda Elliott (Minister of Environment and Energy): First, I would like to point out that the tests to date -- and they've been very, very extensive tests -- have not found the cryptosporidium to which my honourable colleague opposite refers. It is only prudent and it is only fair to the people of Collingwood that we do not find ourselves involved in needless fearmongering.

Mr Hampton: Oh, come on.

Hon Mrs Elliott: No, I must say that. This is a very important issue for a community that's facing a summer tourist trade. The water in that town is safe, and we must be very clear about that.

I would agree with the honourable member that there has been a problem. It is a most unfortunate problem. The town of Collingwood has taken a number of measures to deal with it immediately, along with my ministry, to help solve that problem, but it is not an ongoing problem and should not be discussed as such.

Mr Hampton: This is indeed the new Ontario when the Minister of Environment and Energy stands up and says, day after day, that there's no problem when it's very clear to everybody who lives in Collingwood, including the local MPP for Collingwood, the Minister of Health, that there is a problem.

We examined the dismantling of the Ministry of Environment's funding in the so-called business reports and found a lot of doublespeak. It states on page 4, "Over the last three years the municipal assistance program has provided $300 million to municipalities for water and sewage infrastructure programs," and then it says, "The program will continue." The fact is that our government, the government I was a part of, contributed over $578 million for water and sewer infrastructure, not $300 million.

What you don't make clear is that most of the so-called $187 million that's set aside for 1996-97 is already committed to projects. That means there's only $42 million available for new projects like Collingwood. Minister, $42 million doesn't go very far when it comes to water treatment. Collingwood's treatment plant will cost $20 million to take care of this problem. In conversation with officials from OCWA, the Ontario Clean Water Agency, we were told that no new applications are being accepted for the municipal assistance program.

Can you guarantee that your cuts to the clean water budget and to the municipal assistance program will not jeopardize municipalities' water and their capacity to provide safe, clean water to the people of Ontario?

Hon Mrs Elliott: I thank the honourable member for the question. We have committed to making sure that $300 million is spent on water and sewer infrastructure in this province. The integrity of the water of this province is important to this government.

The Ontario Clean Water Agency, to which the honourable member refers, was an agency set up to encourage and find new ways to establish funding for water and sewer infrastructure. We are working with that to find ways to increase the funding for sewage and water treatment. Sewage and water treatment are the responsibility of the municipality, and as a province we are attempting to find ways to help those municipalities deliver the services to their citizens.

Mr Hampton: We don't need a lecture on the Ontario Clean Water Agency. Our government established it, and our government put some money in that this government is now cutting. This minister should know her own budget. There's only $42 million remaining in the ministry budget for these kinds of projects, and Collingwood alone would take $20 million. The minister misses the point. There is no money in her budget for communities that have to deal with water problems, and no way to assure clean and safe water.

I want to quote from Sam Morra, the executive director of the Ontario Sewer and Watermain Construction Association. He says the reduced provincial funding for the municipal assistance program will threaten Ontario's supply of clean drinking water at the same time that opinion polling shows people are becoming very concerned over clean drinking water.

Communities across Ontario will be facing problems like those in Collingwood, yet we know the money isn't there to do anything about it. Your colleague the Minister of Health went back to his riding in Collingwood and said the problem will be taken care of.

Let me ask you this: If $20 million of the $42 million is going to be spent in Collingwood, what happens to the rest of the communities in Ontario that face problems with clean drinking water?

Hon Mrs Elliott: I reiterate that we are very concerned about the quality of the water in this province. The Ontario Clean Water Agency, formed by the former government, was set up to care for the sewage and water treatment in this province and to provide the funding. I suggest that in putting together an agency that was not only the funder but the operator and builder, they discouraged investment in water and sewage treatment in this province. It's our job to find ways to redirect that funding and get investment back in this province to help those municipalities that need to provide water and sewage for their citizens.


Mr Bud Wildman (Algoma): I have a question for the minister who earlier today went over Niagara Falls in a barrel. In six days we are going to be celebrating Earth Day, and instead of encouraging environmental protection in the province and developing new safeguards, we've seen that the government is systematically eliminating environmental safeguards in Ontario.

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

Mr Wildman: The Minister of Environment and Energy, who is dismantling her own ministry. The minister has virtually eliminated the operation of her ministry with the cuts that were announced to finance the irresponsible tax cut promised by this government. The Ministry of Environment and Energy is losing 800 positions over the next two years. That's one third of the ministry's workforce. That shows what a low priority this government puts on environmental protection in this province. Over the next two years you're reducing the enforcement and compliance activities of your ministry by 25%. In the face of these kinds of cuts, how can you maintain, as you just did to my colleague's question, that you are maintaining environmental protection and safeguards in this province?

Hon Brenda Elliott (Minister of Environment and Energy): Like all ministries in this government, I am going to do my part in the Ministry of Environment and Energy to help get this province back on a sound fiscal footing. A number of areas within this ministry require change and will be changed. Environmental assessment is a perfect example. We have spent millions and millions of dollars on talk, without results. There are many ways, focusing on our core businesses, in which we can cut costs and provide environmental protection to this province.

Mr Wildman: It's obvious from the minister's response that she's committed to cuts. Our question is whether she's committed to environmental protection.

I'm sure the minister is aware of a report prepared by her ministry and published in October 1994 in which the ministry concluded that there were over 1,730 active PCB storage sites across the province with approximately 106,000 tonnes of PCB wastes, with 13,000 tonnes of that high-level PCBs, and 65,000 tonnes of those are owned by this government. According to your ministry's report, 5.8 tonnes of PCBs are stored across the street at 99 Wellesley Street West, the Whitney Block.

There are many sites across the province that need to be monitored and inspected on a regular basis. The minister, I'm sure, will recall the fire at St-Basile-le-Grand in Quebec, a PCB storage site, a few years ago. These sites need to be secure and safe and they have to be inspected and monitored.


In view of the cuts to your enforcement and compliance branch in your ministry, will you tell us how often these sites will be inspected to ensure that we do not run into serious problems of PCB spills or contaminations involving all of the sites that you identified in this report?

Hon Mrs Elliott: I would agree with the honourable member across the way that the storage of PCBs is a serious problem. In fact, there are 116,000 tonnes of PCB stored in the province of Ontario and they didn't all get here since June 1995. This is a serious problem and we are dealing with this as best we can.

It is the responsibility of the generator of this waste to deal with it. We are encouraging many of the industries that are new fledgling green industries in this province which have a number of new and innovative technologies to deal with PCBs to come forward to companies and help them destroy their PCBs in the most environmentally benign way possible.

It is also possible to shift those wastes to Swan Hills in Alberta for destruction, and it would have been easier for many of those companies to deal with their PCB waste if the borders had not been closed by the federal government.


Mr Wildman: The members opposite are applauding an answer that is dealing with destruction of PCBs when the question was about monitoring and inspection of ongoing PCB sites. The minister didn't answer the question.

It's interesting. If the minister is so concerned about the sites that were identified in this report in October, why is it that the ministry has seen fit to eliminate the money from the ministry budget that Ontario would have required if it was to begin to meet the responsibility for its own PCBs as stipulated in the Canada-Ontario agreement? Why is it you're eliminating the money that this government would require to deal with the ministry's own PCB wastes, if you're so concerned about them?

Hon Mrs Elliott: There are a number of ways of dealing with PCB waste, no matter who the generator of the product is. We are required right now in this ministry, as in all other ministries, to live within limited means.

Mr Wildman: So in other words, you're not going to deal with them.

Hon Mrs Elliott: We will deal with those as best we can and encourage those new companies that have inventive ways to come forward and destroy those PCBs as soon and in as an environmentally benign manner as possible.


The Speaker (Hon Allan K. McLean): If I can have the attention of the House, we have a visitor in the west lobby, the former member for Ottawa Centre, Mr Michael Cassidy.


Mr Bruce Crozier (Essex South): My question is for the Minister of Consumer and Commercial Relations. Minister, there's a growing concern in the province that you're about to disband the Liquor Control Board of Ontario and turn liquor sales over to private concerns, private operators, with all the potential problems that surround that.

The LCBO report that was recently published tells us that over half a billion dollars a year in profit comes to the treasury of Ontario. It provides a safe, efficient, controlled way to retail liquor and wine. It gives consumers a wide selection of products, and importantly, it restricts the sale of alcohol to minors. In other words, it's an outstanding success.

Why, Minister, would you abandon a component of government that's clearly working for the benefit of Ontarians and why then would you abandon the LCBO?

Hon Norman W. Sterling (Minister of Consumer and Commercial Relations): I want to thank the member for the question. First of all, the government has not made a decision to abandon the LCBO in its present form. The government is, however, looking to do things in a better way.

While some of those ads which have been played by the workers within the union allege that the restriction of the sale of alcohol to youth is beyond reproach in the province of Ontario, I want to relate to the member that the experience in some other jurisdictions, for instance in West Virginia, which has gone to a privatization scheme, is that the degree of social responsibility has improved under the private system. I was very much concerned with this and actually I'm going to have to deal with the chairman of the LCBO to put some sanctions against employees who do sell to underage people. As a result of these ads I inquired to the chairman of the LCBO, and at the present time an LCBO employee is given a two-hour lecture if he sells to an underage person. Quite frankly, I don't believe that sanction is severe enough and I believe the system is not being tested enough at this point in time.

The bottom line of this is that the present system is not doing the job as far as I am concerned. I believe a private system probably could do a better job of checking on the sale of alcohol to younger people than the public system is now.

Mr Crozier: Minister, you'd be interested to know that in debates in 1986 in this Legislature, the now Solicitor General accused the government of the day, saying, "It wants to Americanize this province." With this legislation it sounds like you want to Americanize it as well.

A recent CBC poll shows 60% of the people in Ontario are opposed to privatization. The LCBO has made many moves recently to modernize itself: it has better hours, cleaner stores, better-stocked outlets and more convenient access within the store. It provides an excellent opportunity to market Ontario wines, and they have offered, both management and union, to make further improvements. Minister, I ask again, why wouldn't you just try and fix and make better what we have, and why would you give up? Why wouldn't you continue to support our wine industry in the province of Ontario?

Hon Mr Sterling: I have no intention of abandoning our wonderful wine industry in Ontario. The real question is, can we do better than the present system? I believe we can either through improving the existing system or changing the present system in total or in part. I can guarantee you one thing: The transfer payment or the profit which this government is now receiving from the LCBO under a new proposal will only increase and never decrease. There is no --


Hon Mr Sterling: No, prices do not have to go up as a result of a change in the system, but if the system is changed so that the alcohol can be sold more efficiently, then we the taxpayers will benefit and the consumers will benefit from even lower prices.


Mrs Marion Boyd (London Centre): My question is for the Solicitor General and Minister of Correctional Services. Minister, I wanted to tell you how pleased I was yesterday to hear you disagreeing with the reckless proposal of your colleague the Minister of Transportation around raising the speed limits to 120 kilometres per hour. I'm delighted that you understand that speed kills and that it is really important for us to do that.

You indicated in the Legislature yesterday that you were worried, if the speed limit were raised, for the ability of the police to actually implement a zero-tolerance policy and you talked about the resources that would cost.


My question today is about your comments to the Toronto Sun regarding police officers in respect to speed control, and I quote you as saying, "They're having trouble now with respect to controlling speed on the highways and this could just exacerbate the problem." Minister, you're admitting that police officers now, at the current rates, are having problems controlling speed on our highways. That's not a surprise to any of us who use those highways. We know that speeding is not controlled and that 120 kilometres is a very common speed that we see. You say there are resource problems in even controlling speed at 100 kilometres an hour, yet your government cancelled photo-radar, a relatively inexpensive and effective way to reduce speeding, a way that protected the occupational health and safety of police officers.

Mr Minister, before photo-radar came in, in the year 1993, the OPP issued 154,151 speeding tickets, but in the six months that photo-radar was on, there were a total of 141,511 speeding tickets -- in other words, almost as many in six months. So in light of your comments that you're concerned about speeding, that you want to exercise zero tolerance and that you can't do it, even with your additional 85 cars and your wonder crew of 27 new police officers, what are you going to do to control speeding on the 400 series of highways with the current speed limits?

Hon Bob Runciman (Solicitor General and Minister of Correctional Services): I believe that in the GTA region, where we have installed the special units, they are doing an extremely effective job. They're not just dealing with speeding, because as the member will recall, when we cancelled the photo-radar project, our concerns were the fact that we were not dealing with dangerous drivers and people who had inappropriate driving habits.

We have a list of examples as long as my arm with respect to the kinds of violations we've been able to deal with with these specialized units. People have been driving, as an example, with their feet rather than using their arms. We've had them on their cell phones. They've had the wheel taped so that they didn't have to deal with it while they were doing a variety of very dangerous things behind the wheel.

We've been able to stop these kinds of activities and have been able to effectively deal with dangerous drivers and inappropriate driving behaviour. There's no question that police across this province have many, many challenges, but I think by and large they're dealing very effectively with the challenges they have to face.

Mrs Boyd: Mr Minister, no one disagrees that those forms of dangerous driving are serious. No one has any problem with that, but the real problem is that the issue of speed has been shown by many studies to be an extraordinarily important factor in terms of increased numbers of crashes, the increased level of injuries and fatalities in those crashes. Mr John Bates of Mothers Against Drunk Driving stated there's simply no question that an increase in speed inevitably leads to increased fatalities and crashes. Yet, when we talk about a formal increase in speed, you say no, that wouldn't be proper because the police in fact could not control that, and you were very clear that you didn't have the resources to control speed if it were formally increased.

In reality out there the speeds have increased since photo-radar was destroyed by your government. They did go down substantially during the time photo-radar was on, and in fact what you have created for yourself is a public safety problem by doing away with the technology that would have freed up police officers to look for those dangerous drivers you're concerned about. What are you going to do about the current public safety problem, which you identified yesterday to the Toronto Sun, where you said that police officers were having a hard time controlling current speed limits?

Hon Mr Runciman: I think in one year or two years in office we're going to do a much better job of dealing with public safety problems than that party did in five years in office. We are moving in many of these areas. I mentioned yesterday in response to a question that we put 85 additional marked cars on the road in the last couple of months.

We're in the process of restructuring the OPP, which will free up over 300 officers to be back out on the highways, on the streets of this province -- over 300 officers. We're reviewing the paperwork burden, much of it placed on the police by the party opposite, to see if we can't free up officers to spend more time out doing real police work rather than behind a desk. We're taking a look --

Mrs Boyd: And cutting the budget.

Mr Gilles Pouliot (Lake Nipigon): Hey, Bob, where's the money? You're cutting the budget at the same time.

Hon Mr Runciman: Yes, that's right. We are indeed.

We're taking a look at new technologies, again to free up officers, to put more officers on the front lines where they ought to be.


Mr R. Gary Stewart (Peterborough): My question is for the Minister of Consumer and Commercial Relations. Mr Minister, following a report released by Industry Canada, a constituent called my office making inquiries regarding interest rates. What does our government intend to do with respect to the extremely high interest rates being charged by chartered banks on Visa and MasterCard accounts?

Hon Norman W. Sterling (Minister of Consumer and Commercial Relations): Thank you to the member so that we can clarify our position on it. I too am very much concerned with the high interest rates that both Visa and MasterCard accounts are charging, as well as other credit cards. Currently, these interest charges are some 12% above the prime lending rate. However, the member should know perhaps that rates are controlled by the banks, which are in turn controlled by our federal government. I believe it would be in everyone's interest if these interest rates were lowered.

Mr Stewart: Thank you, Minister. Indeed, I believe as well that it's a process of gouging and is not acceptable these days. As the Minister of Consumer and Commercial Relations, you have the responsibility to represent the consumers of Ontario. Are you going to do anything on behalf of the people of Ontario regarding this very serious issue?

Hon Mr Sterling: Yes. On behalf of the consumers of Ontario, I have taken the liberty of writing the minister responsible for Industry Canada requesting that he undertake a review of this matter on behalf of our consumers in Ontario. In addition, I have written to the Consumers' Association of Canada to pass along my support for their position on this matter.


Mr David Ramsay (Timiskaming): I'd like to ask a question to the Solicitor General, and this follows up from my colleague from Essex South, who posed a question earlier this afternoon to the minister in charge of the Liquor Control Board.

The minister on October 28, 1986, made a very impassioned speech in this House about the safety concerns, the security concerns of privatizing the sale of liquor in Ontario. We know it is this government's mandate, and the minister has just said in this House this afternoon that he is bent on continuing with the possible dismantling of the LCBO. We are very concerned about the lack of control, especially with the sale of alcohol to minors. I would like to ask the minister this afternoon, does he believe that privatizing the sale of liquor in Ontario is going to contribute to greater security concerns in this province?

Hon Bob Runciman (Solicitor General and Minister of Correctional Services): That's a very speculative question with respect to what may or may not happen. I think the Minister of Consumer and Commercial Relations indicated to you earlier today that no decisions have been taken with respect to this issue. I'm sure that if indeed the minister and the government reach a decision to move in this direction in any way, shape or form, there will be very thorough discussions and consultations with my ministry, other elements of the government and the public at large.

Mr Ramsay: You say it's a speculative question, but just last week when your Minister of Transportation said he was prepared to raise the speed limits on the 400 series of highways up to 120 kilometres an hour in this province, you bailed out and said you didn't think that was a big safety concern in this province, and you nixed the idea that came from your other minister. Now you have a minister of the crown saying, "We are going to deregulate the sale and control of alcohol in this province and put it in the hands of the private sector." We've already seen in the Premier's riding some convictions on the sale of tobacco under the new act, and we would expect that same thing is going to happen if you do that to alcohol.


As somebody who is the chief cop in this province you should be concerned, and I'd ask you again, don't you share the concern we have that if you start to privatize the sale of alcohol, then minors are going to start to have greater access and we're going to have some grave social problems here in the province of Ontario?

Hon Mr Runciman: I disagree with the premise of the question. The minister has not made any statement with respect to any firm direction in which this government is going to proceed relative to the LCBO. Those of us who have been around this place -- and the member likes to quote old Hansards from 1986 -- I recall the debate at the time and what it was around, and it certainly was not around the privatization of the LCBO; it was around the Liberal Party's desire to put beer and wine in corner stores. Now they're suggesting there's some real hazard to public safety if we even consider privatization of the LCBO. Get your act together.


Ms Marilyn Churley (Riverdale): My question is for the Minister of Community and Social Services. I found your answer to my question yesterday rather patronizing and insubstantial. No matter what you say, we're hearing from more and more women who are feeling that the rug is being pulled out from under them as they try to get ahead. What do you have to say, for example, to Patricia Gravelle, an Orillia mother of two, who has already taken more than $11,000 in student loans to attend nursing school? Last fall she wrote to the Premier and said:

"How does it benefit Ontario if those of us who have struggled so very hard to climb back into the workforce now have the ladder kicked out from beneath us, sending us tumbling back into a vicious cycle of dependence on family benefits and social services?"

Minister, are you listening to women like Patricia Gravelle? What do you have to say to her?


Hon David H. Tsubouchi (Minister of Community and Social Services): It's a little difficult to hear in the House these days, but I think I caught the gist of what the honourable member was saying.

First of all, I think part of what we're looking at is that the assistance for post-secondary school education is clearly the mandate of the Ministry of Education and Training and not the Ministry of Community and Social Services. That should be the responsibility of OSAP and the Ministry of Education and Training. This change will also necessitate the elimination of unnecessary and costly duplication between the two ministries. Clearly in most cases --


Hon Mr Tsubouchi: I hear some interjections from across the floor, but in most cases people under the new system, under OSAP, will be in a position to receive more money and more benefits and more assistance to complete their education than before.

Ms Churley: The minister knows full well, but he's not admitting it today -- I myself heard the Minister of Education say that these rules may change as of next year. Right now he is saying they will only have to pay back $6,000, but we're fully expecting that they may well have to pay it all back.

I'd like to quote to the minister something that Sally Barnes, a well-known Conservative, said 17 years ago: "We believe there is growing recognition that a society which handicaps women, 52% of its population, handicaps itself and its very future." Minister, your government is handicapping a lot of women in this society, whether you admit it or not.

Let me tell you about Patricia Condie of Toronto. The father of her child left less than two weeks before their wedding date, taking the family business and leaving her the bills. She wrote to the Premier: "Have you ever had your dreams right before your face and then had someone rip them away?.... I have a chance to get off the system but, Mr Harris, you are doing your best to keep me on."

Mr Minister, I ask you again, what has your government got against the women in the province of Ontario, and more pointedly, single mothers?

Hon Mr Tsubouchi: I would clearly refer the member to Hansard, since she's got them in front of her. She asked the same question yesterday; I assume the answer will be the same. But I might take the opportunity to point out to the honourable member the real fundamental problem here. This is a document from 1993 called Turning Point, and it was produced by my ministry, at that time under the leadership of Tony Silipo, whose picture appears very prominently in it as well.

However, clearly the problem here is this, and it's acknowledged here: "This extensive review and consultation process has made clear the fact that the current welfare system, a product of the 1950s and 1960s, is out of step with the economic and social realities of the 1990s."

So what have they done? From page 9: "The social assistance system cannot be fixed. The time has come to abolish the welfare system as we know it in Ontario. The government is planning a fundamental transformation of social assistance to a new set of programs whose goals are employment and independence."


Hon Mr Tsubouchi: As I hear the interjection from the Leader of the Opposition here, they clearly identified the problem as well. In fact -- this is the red book now -- they said as well that "It has now been two years since the NDP government promised to `scrap the welfare system as we know it' and replace it with programs that both encourage people to leave social assistance and give them the opportunity" --

The Speaker (Hon Allan K. McLean): The question has been answered.


Mr Tom Froese (St Catharines-Brock): My question is to the Minister of Economic Development, Trade and Tourism.

Mr Bud Wildman (Algoma): Just lean over and ask him.

Mr Froese: He needs to tell the rest of you.

I understand, Mr Minister, that you were in Niagara Falls yesterday making an announcement regarding the Niagara Falls casino. Can you advise the House if an interim facility site has been chosen?

Hon William Saunderson (Minister of Economic Development, Trade and Tourism): I'd like to thank the member for St Catharines-Brock for his question. We're polite over here. I'd just like to say that I was in Niagara Falls yesterday and I was there to announce the new casino site, which is going to be at the Maple Leaf Village site in downtown Niagara Falls.

Mr Wildman: Point of order: This should have been a ministerial statement.

The Speaker (Hon Allan K. McLean): There's nothing out of order.

Hon Mr Saunderson: I can see that the members on the opposite side don't like to hear good news, because this is a very good-news piece of information. This is going to have a major economic benefit in the Niagara Falls region and for Ontario as a whole. I'm very happy about the site. The board of directors of the Ontario Casino Corp are convinced that it is a very good site, an economic site, and extremely well located.

I'm also happy to report that a temporary operator for the site will be selected in the near future and that the process for choosing a long-term operator for the site will be commenced in the next six months.

Mr Froese: The minister mentioned the economic benefit to the city of Niagara Falls. I would like to ask the minister if he could estimate what that benefit would be to the city of Niagara Falls, and indeed the city of St Catharines and Niagara-on-the-Lake, the region as a whole, and the province. How many jobs would you expect could be created by this project?

Hon Mr Saunderson: I'm very happy to report that the number of jobs which will benefit directly the city of Niagara Falls is 3,000, for the region is 6,000 -- that's 10 times what you said -- and 9,000 for the province of Ontario in total. Also, there will be about 500 to 600 construction jobs, which I think is very commendable, and this will be a very huge project in terms of economic development.

The interim casino will generate approximately $650 million in revenues, of which $375 million will pertain to our share in this province. I think this is very good news for the city, it's very good news for your region and it's very good news for the province.



Mr Dominic Agostino (Hamilton East): My question is to the Minister of Environment and Energy. Minister, I'm concerned as to the impact that the gutting and destroying of your ministry is going to have on industrialized communities such as Hamilton-Wentworth and others across Ontario that rely heavily on heavy industry. You've reduced your staff by 750 positions, according to your own documents. You're reducing analytical testing for environmental compliance and enforcement as well, virtually eliminating responses to complaints of occurrences regarding noise, dust and odour. They are regarded as nuisance complaints. You're also shifting responsibility for monitoring environmental emissions and controls to the industries themselves, which in effect is like giving a drug addict the key to the medicine cabinet at the local pharmacy.

When I look at my own constituency of Hamilton and the beach strip and the industrial core, they've suffered enough without your ministry now reducing responses to complaints. Why are you reducing these responses to complaints of noise, dust and odour, and how will people living in industrial cores across this province and in my riding benefit from your move to also have industries self-regulate the emissions?

Hon Brenda Elliott (Minister of Environment and Energy): I thank the member opposite for the question. We in the Ministry of Environment and Energy are focusing our attention and our resources on supporting the core businesses in the protection of the air, water and soil in this province.

It is true that we are going to ask our partners in the municipalities to help us with the ongoing problems of noise, odour and dust. Very often these are problems that arise from planning issues within local municipalities, and we are going to ask for their help to monitor those and deal with the situations as they arise.

Mr Agostino: In 1995, your ministry received 7,133 complaints of noise, odour and dust across this province, and of those, over 10% -- 805 complaints -- came from Hamilton-Wentworth. Minister, you've put these down in your documents as nuisance. I would hardly dismiss someone waking up with two inches of black dust on the front of their home, on their doors or on their cars as a nuisance. I would hardly dismiss people having to keep their doors and windows locked day and night because of odour -- and your ministry will not be there to respond to the complaints -- as nuisance complaints, as you do. Maybe you should spend a night at a home on the beach strip in my community to see if this is a nuisance.

How can you suggest that municipalities which you have now cut by over 40% are going to be able to do the job and have the staffing and the resources to respond to over 7,000 complaints last year, which you're not going to respond to this year? How do you justify that, and what do you tell municipalities that can't afford and don't have the staff to carry this out?

Hon Mrs Elliott: The ministry will be tough on polluters. It is our job to set standards, to set rules for the province of Ontario. We still have a significant and very worthwhile and strong compliance office and enforcement office.

I think it is important that we distinguish between what is a nuisance and what is a real environmental issue. If citizens in my honourable colleague's constituency wake up with two inches of something on their cars, that is an environmental issue and it is one to which my staff will pay attention and will deal with.

Businesses in the province of Ontario operate within the certificates of approval and must operate within the rules, within the standards that are set. It is our job to set them and make sure they are met.


Mr Rosario Marchese (Fort York): My question is to the Minister of Citizenship, Culture and Recreation. Madam Minister, you and your cabinet colleagues have moved swiftly to eliminate the access to trades and professions demonstration fund and have moved swiftly to eliminate the Anti-Racism Secretariat and the anti-racism grants. Before the election, your Premier and yourselves said that a Harris government is committed to combating systemic racism through education and vigorous efforts to change attitudes. In light of your cuts, can you explain what your promise means?

Hon Marilyn Mushinski (Minister of Citizenship, Culture and Recreation): In response to the member for Fort York's question, as he knows, in December we announced a plan to deal effectively with equality of opportunity for all Ontarians; that was called the equal opportunity plan.

Clearly there are some initiatives within the equal opportunity plan that will identify the barriers that do exist for some Ontarians. We intend to tear down those barriers. We did not feel that the employment equity law, the quota law, was the law to tear down those barriers; indeed we felt that the quota law put up barriers. By eliminating the quota law, that was the biggest barrier to Ontarians for equal opportunity that there was. Implementation of the equal opportunity plan will indeed create much more opportunity than the previous government created.

Mr Marchese: We've talked to a number of agencies serving immigrants, and they communicate to us a very great sense of powerlessness and hopelessness as you bring about your cuts. You've cut Ontario's settlement and integration programs by 20%. The agencies are telling us that this cut will mean the end to many programs serving immigrants and front-line services. In fact, in your Premier's own riding, the North Bay Immigrant Support Service had to close its doors last week.

Your government, through Mr Harris, said that a Harris government will develop a comprehensive immigration strategy to address the fact that Ontario's settlement and integration facilities are overburdened, especially in the greater Toronto area. In light of your cuts, what does that promise mean?

Hon Ms Mushinski: First of all, I think I should correct the record in that the allocation to the Ontario settlement and integration program was not 20%, as has been suggested by the member for Fort York, but will be reduced by a total of 13.2% over the next two years.

Support for community-based delivery of immigrant settlement services is a core business of this ministry. We have maintained a significant allocation of $5.1 million for these services, recognizing the economic, social and cultural contribution of newcomers to the province.



Mr Rick Bartolucci (Sudbury): My petition is to the Legislative Assembly of Ontario.

"Whereas we believe that the family support plan is a viable and necessary service provided by the government of Ontario,

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

"That the proposed centralization of the family support plan will have a negative impact on the children who are supported under this plan and should be cancelled."

Because I agree with this, I sign my name to it.


Mr Howard Hampton (Rainy River): I have a petition to the Legislative Assembly of Ontario. It says:

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

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

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

This is signed by 15 residents of eastern Ontario, and I have affixed my signature as well.



Mr Douglas B. Ford (Etobicoke-Humber): It's my pleasure today to present to the Parliament of Ontario a petition with approximately 1,000 names.

"Whereas the present Condominium Act of Ontario does not give the condominium corporations the legal right to limit the number of people who occupy each unit in the complex, thus causing overcrowding situations in many buildings; and

"Whereas the overcrowding creates excessive demand on services and facilities of the condominiums, leading to tensions, violence, fire and health problems, increased maintenance expenses and depreciation of values;

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

"We strongly recommend that the Condominium Act of Ontario be amended to give condominium corporations, through their own rules and regulations, the legal right to limit the number of persons per unit and right of entry to ensure adherence to the rules.

"The rights of condominium owners and taxpayers must be considered and supported in order to alleviate the inequitable situation."

I am pleased to affix my signature to this petition.


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 North York Branson Hospital merge with York-Finch hospital; and

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

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

I have affixed my signature.


Ms Shelley Martel (Sudbury East): I have a petition signed by the tenants at 1140 Ramsey View Court in Sudbury, Ontario, and I'd like to thank Evelyn LaBelle for sending it to me. It reads as follows:

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

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

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

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

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

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

I have affixed my signature to it, and I agree with the petitioners entirely.


Mrs Barbara Fisher (Bruce): I have a petition signed by a number of constituents in my riding of Bruce. It appears to be in standard form, and I present it on behalf of those who have signed. The petition to the Ontario Legislature reads:

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

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

I affix my name to it.


Mr James J. Bradley (St Catharines): I have a petition signed by a number of residents of Ontario, as follows:

"To the government of Ontario:

"Whereas the government of Ontario appears to be moving toward the privatization of retail liquor and spirit sales in the province; and

"Whereas the LCBO provides a safe, secure and controlled way of retailing alcoholic beverages; and

"Whereas the LCBO provides the best method of restricting the sale of liquor to minors in Ontario; and

"Whereas the LCBO has an excellent program of quality control of the products sold in its stores; and

"Whereas the LCBO provides a wide selection of product to its customers in modern, convenient stores; and

"Whereas the LCBO has moved forward with the times, sensitive to the needs of its customers and its clients;

"Therefore, be it resolved that the government of Ontario abandon its plan to turn the sale of liquor and spirits to private liquor stores and retain the LCBO for this purpose."

I affix my signature to this petition, as I am in agreement with its contents.


Mr David Christopherson (Hamilton Centre): I have further petitions from the United Food and Commercial Workers in addition to the few thousand that I've already presented. They come over the signature of Dan Gilbert, who's the president, and the petition reads as follows:

"To the Legislative Assembly of Ontario and Premier Harris:

"We, the undersigned, oppose your government's plan to dismantle the workers' compensation system, including reducing benefits, excluding claims for repetitive strain injuries, multiple injuries, strains, sprains, stress, harassment and most occupational disease; eliminating pension supplements; handing over control of our claims to our employers for the first four to six weeks after injury; privatizing WCB to large insurance companies; integrating sick benefits into WCB; eliminating or restricting the Workers' Compensation Appeals Tribunal, WCAT, including eliminating worker representation on the board; and eliminating the bipartite WCB board of directors.

"We therefore demand a safe workplace, compensation if we are injured, no reduction in benefits, improved re-employment and vocational rehabilitation, an independent appeals structure with worker representation, that the WCAT be left intact and that the WCB bipartite board of directors be reinstated."

I proudly add my name to theirs.


Mr Bill Grimmett (Muskoka-Georgian Bay): I have a series of petitions provided to me by constituents of the riding of Parry Sound. These petitions relate to the spring bear hunt, and there are approximately 491 signatures. They appear to be in the proper form.


Mr Dominic Agostino (Hamilton East): I have a petition that was organized by Kathy Leger, a registered nurse at St Joseph's Hospital in Hamilton, with the help of many of the women who work in the labour and delivery department at St Joseph's, in regard to the closure recommendation. It reads as follows:

"To the Legislative Assembly of Ontario:

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

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

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

I add my name to this, along with 3,000 other individuals who have signed these petitions.


Mr Rob Sampson (Mississauga West): I have a petition that's been delivered to me through the Honourable Henry N.R. Jackman's office in regard to some documents signed by some constituents of mine. I'm not an expert on parliamentary procedure, Mr Speaker, but I suspect that this petition is not in order and I'll have it tabled for that consideration.


Mr Jean-Marc Lalonde (Prescott and Russell): I have a petition signed by a number of concerned citizens in my riding.

"To the Legislature of Ontario:

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

It is signed by a number of residents, and I also add my signature to this petition.


Mr David Christopherson (Hamilton Centre): I have a petition to the Ontario Legislature.

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

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

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

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

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

"Whereas eliminating rent control will result in skyrocketing rents in Ontario,

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

I add my signature, Mr Speaker.



Mr Bill Murdoch (Grey-Owen Sound): I have a petition to the Legislature of Ontario.

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


Mr Pat Hoy (Essex-Kent): I have a petition from residents of Kent county, 330 names in total.

"To the Legislative Assembly of Ontario:

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

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

"Whereas the principles of discipline, self-help and regimented environment at Transition House have combined with counselling and support to provide youth with the motivation and self-respect to return to school or find jobs; and

"Whereas it has been shown that massive cuts to health services, school systems and social services have a definite impact on the statistics of children and youth in crisis; and

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

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

I affix my name to this petition.


Mr David Christopherson (Hamilton Centre): I have a petition to the Ontario Legislature, the Minister of Health and the Hamilton-Wentworth District Health Council.

"Whereas the Hamilton-Wentworth Health Action Task Force, as part of their report, has recommended the closure of St Joseph's Hospital in Hamilton; and

"Whereas it is recognized the health care system should be made as efficient as possible; and

"Whereas the quality of health care service in our community should not be sacrificed in the name of this efficiency; and

"Whereas the Mike Harris government promised to protect the quality of health care in Ontario; and

"Whereas we, the undersigned, believe that maintaining the presence of St Joseph's Hospital in downtown Hamilton is a vital component of our health care system;

"Therefore be it resolved that the Minister of Health and the Hamilton-Wentworth District Health Council ensure the continuance of the St Joseph's Hospital at its present site."

I add my signature.


Mr Dalton McGuinty (Ottawa South): I have today a very important petition signed by some 3,400 people.

"Whereas there is less than 1% of old-growth red and white pine remaining in Ontario; and

"Whereas the policy for the protection of Ontario old-growth forests, as recommended by the Old Growth Policy Advisory Committee, has not been adopted; and

"Whereas the logging of the Algoma highlands is destroying Ontario's largest stands of unlogged old-growth white pine forests; and

"Whereas the Temagami Comprehensive Planning Council has proposed that 77% of Temagami's old-growth red and white pine forests be allocated for logging and mining and only 7.5% have been identified as potential protected areas; and

"Whereas the Progressive Conservative government has promised to complete, within its first six months, an action plan for the designation of a province-wide network of ecologically representative protected areas;

"Therefore we, the undersigned, petition the Legislative Assembly to protect Ontario's remaining old-growth forests by implementing their campaign promise to establish a province-wide network of protected areas, including the Algoma highlands and Temagami."



Mr Eves moved first reading of the following bill:

Bill 43, An Act to authorize the payment of certain amounts for the public service for the fiscal year ending March 31, 1996 / Loi autorisant le paiement de certaines sommes destinées à la fonction publique pour l'exercice se terminant le 31 mars 1996.

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

Orders of the day.

Hon Ernie L. Eves (Deputy Premier, Minister of Finance and Government House Leader): The Supply Act, 1996, Mr Speaker. It is my understanding that we have unanimous consent to deal with all stages of the bill at this time.

The Speaker: Do we have unanimous consent? Agreed.

Mr Eves moved second reading of the following bill:

Bill 43, An Act to authorize the payment of certain amounts for the public service for the fiscal year ending March 31, 1996 / Loi autorisant le paiement de certaines sommes destinées à la fonction publique pour l'exercice se terminant le 31 mars 1996.

The Speaker: Does the motion carry? Carried.

Mr Eves moved third reading of the following bill:

Bill 43, An Act to authorize the payment of certain amounts for the public service for the fiscal year ending March 31, 1996 / Loi autorisant le paiement de certaines sommes destinées à la fonction publique pour l'exercice se terminant le 31 mars 1996.

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

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



Resuming the adjourned debate on the motion for Interim Supply for the period commencing May 1, 1996, and ending October 31, 1996.

Hon Ernie L. Eves (Deputy Premier, Minister of Finance and Government House Leader): I understand that there's agreement that a vote shall take place at 6 o'clock today.

The Speaker (Hon Allan K. McLean): The member for Hamilton Centre had the floor when we last adjourned.

Mr David Christopherson (Hamilton Centre): I appreciate the opportunity to finish the few remaining minutes that I have in my time to debate this particular motion.

I had left off yesterday just beginning to talk about a couple of matters that concerned me that I found in the section regarding the responsibilities of the Solicitor General and the Minister of Correctional Services. I've already spoken to the issue of the Coroners Act being opened to deny workers a guaranteed inquest whenever there is a death at a construction site or at a mining location, and I had just begun to talk about the fact that in this plan we see the Coroners' Council will be eliminated. Again as I mentioned yesterday, in and of itself this is not an earth-shattering event, but it is indicative of the approach that this government has to the needs of the public. The Coroners' Council is not a well-known body, but they have performed and up until the time it's eliminated will perform an important service to the people of Ontario.

I reviewed the legislation yesterday when I returned to my office after our discussion here in the House just to refresh my memory and indeed the Coroners' Council is there if there's a question of the competency or ability of coroners. It's there not to review specific cases but the actual competency, not unlike that with regard to judges where they have a great deal of responsibility, a great deal of important public matters are in their domain and there needs to be some check if we have problems. We're all human and things happen in this world and we always need to have in a democracy a check and balance on those institutions and individuals that we as citizens give voluntarily, through an election, the power to take care of for us. In this case, it's coroners who are appointed by the Solicitor General or on the advice of the Solicitor General to the cabinet of the day, and this government's eliminating it. They're doing that again just to save money, money that they're planning to give to their wealthy friends through the 30% tax cut; as we have said time and time again, over 60% of that tax cut will go to the top 10% income earners in Ontario.


In doing so, we pull out yet one more piece of the things that make our province and our system and our society work. This government doesn't think things like this -- worker health and safety, WCB, social assistance, a decent health care system, a decent education system -- are important enough to find a way that allows us to gradually deal with the debt and deficit and yet preserve those institutions and those benefits and those hallmarks of what makes this a great province to live in. This government doesn't think that's as important as being able to give its wealthy friends this tax cut that's going to cost us $5 billion.

More and more people in this province are beginning to accept and understand that the cuts being made are not the only alternative. As much as this government likes to leave the impression that the only way to deal with our fiscal problems is to slash and burn and hack at every value we ever had in this province, the reality is there's no need to take care of this tomorrow. This is still the strongest economy in this entire nation. This is still one of the strongest economies in the G-7. It's still the greatest place in the world to live.

It's obscene in my opinion that this government feels that in order to out-right-wing Ralph Klein and in order to find $5 billion for its tax cut, it is prepared to systematically dismantle all the things that do indeed make this a great place to live. What's unfortunate is not that this will go on forever, because it won't -- this is going to be a one-term wonder -- what's unfortunate is the amount of damage that will be done by then and the number of people who will be needlessly hurt.

We will continue, as we have from the beginning of this government's mandate, to point out the damage and the harm and the pain this government is needlessly inflicting on the people of Ontario, and as we get closer to an election, of course we will begin to offer up an alternative plan or approach to governing in this province. I assure you that it will be one that tries to preserve and enhance our health care system, our infrastructure, our education system, all the things that can make us competitive in a global economy, but in a way that preserves and strengthens this province.

Mr Speaker, I thank you very much for the opportunity to add my few words to this debate.

Mr Ted Arnott (Wellington): I'm pleased to rise today on behalf of the people of Wellington to speak to the government's interim supply motion. In the time allotted to me, I'd like to review some of the accomplishments the government has achieved in recent months and also touch on a few issues which are of concern to my constituents in Wellington county.

In the past 10 months, the government has moved swiftly and decisively in many key areas: to restore competent administration to the province's finances; to address our financial problems, our debt and deficit crisis; to act on promises made to the people during last year's election campaign, in which the people of Ontario gave the Progressive Conservative Party a strong mandate to implement our proposed program.

More specifically, in the past 10 months, the government has:

Reduced runaway provincial spending dramatically, working to get our finances on a more sustainable footing.

Repealed Bill 40, the former government's changes to Ontario's labour law which discouraged job-creating investment and upset the delicate balance in labour relations in favour of the union leaders.

Initiated major reforms to the Workers' Compensation Board to stabilize premiums, improve its management, strengthen its books, while providing better service to injured workers in need.

Folded the Workplace Health and Safety Agency into the Workers' Compensation Board to return the responsibility of improving workplace safety to where it can yield the best results.

Established a red tape review committee with a mandate to eliminate all unnecessary government regulations which tie up business and diminish their job-creating potential.

Frozen the minimum wage to encourage the creation of entry-level jobs for our young people who haven't yet acquired many marketable job skills so that they can get that first job opportunity that they need and move on from there.

Acted to curb the abuse of our welfare system, to try to end the cycle of dependency and despair which traps so many people and help them to find the dignity and self-worth that meaningful employment implies.

Largely ended the corporate welfare program whereby private businesses were directly subsidized with taxpayers' money, distorting the free market and creating unfairness between Ontario companies which received assistance and, in too many cases, their Ontario competitors which did not.

Repealed the $50 annual corporate filing fee and the filing fee for non-profit corporations, which became a lightning rod for small business people's and charities' complaints about the provincial government.

Restored long-term stability and predictability to Ontario Hydro rates.

Ended the possibility of reverse discrimination which existed in the former government's so-called "employment equity" law, ensuring that hiring and promotions will be based on qualifications and merit.

All these policy changes have been made with one overriding objective: The creation of new jobs in Ontario, the central theme of our government.

On behalf of the people of Wellington, I want to thank the members of the executive council for their hard work in recent months and the dedication they've shown to implement these steps, our caucus, our political staff and the Ontario public service, all of us working together to improve the economic climate in Ontario.

I should also like to thank the people of Wellington, because all of the policy changes that I've outlined this afternoon had their origins in this document, the report of the Mike Harris Task Force on Creating Jobs Through Small Business, which we released in opposition in January 1995. Almost half of the consultation meetings which led to this report took place in Wellington county.

I mentioned earlier the Ontario public service and I'd like to now return to that area. I want to commend the chairman of the Management Board of Cabinet. He's doing an excellent job in challenging times.

While I recognize that the steps the government announced last Thursday to reduce the civil service are necessary because of our financial problem, I take no pleasure from these decisions. In fact, I wish they hadn't been necessary. I wish that past governments of all three parties hadn't spent so recklessly, hadn't spent beyond the needs of the people to pay, hadn't spent in areas which were unnecessary and unsustainable. They spent more than they took in, they borrowed the difference and we're paying today for that profligacy.

I realize that Thursday's announcement is intended to be a positive step in the long-term recovery for Ontario, but it's hardly good news to anyone employed in the civil service. Look at this from their perspective on a human level. You apply for a job with the Ontario government. You're hired. You're assigned certain tasks. You do them. You serve the people of Ontario and every two weeks you get a paycheque. You feed and clothe and shelter your family. You're a public servant. It's not your fault that the government faces a crisis and must take difficult decisions to resolve it, yet you are now facing the uncertainty of looming layoff notices which will come in the next two years.

Again, I support the cutbacks announced last Thursday but I'm sorry they must happen. It's incumbent upon the government to ensure that everyone who leaves the employ of the province be treated fairly and with compassion -- a quality every government should exhibit and a quality the opposition says the present government lacks. We are uncaring, we are mean-spirited, we are cold-hearted, they say. I do not accept this criticism. It is inaccurate and it is unjust. Any government which is lacking compassion, is uncaring, is motivated by spite, by settling old scores, any government which acts in that way doesn't deserve the public's trust and clearly does not deserve a second mandate.

As the member for Wellington and as a resident of Ontario, I do not hate government. I recognize it as being necessary to provide essential services in a fair manner, available to everybody, regardless of their wealth or social standing, services which would not be provided generally and fairly to everybody if we left things entirely to the private sector. We need government; that is a given.


It is one of the ironies of life, I suppose, that it has fallen to the Conservative Party of Ontario, the party which, of the three represented in this House, believes that less government is best, to be compelled, because of the financial crisis and the debt crisis, to take the steps necessary to save government in Ontario.

And save government we must. We must save the provincial government for Lauren and Shannon Kollee. Lauren and Shannon are eight-year-old identical twin girls who live with their family in Elora in Wellington county. I've met them. They're delightful, beautiful children, and they're special in that they have a medical condition called congenital central hypoventilation syndrome, which means they lack the impulse to breathe normally while they're sleeping, so they need to wear breathing masks hooked up to respirators during the night. Lauren and Shannon need the assistive devices program to help with the cost of their respirators so that they can breathe while they sleep. We must save the provincial government for Lauren and Shannon.

We must save the provincial government to help small rural municipalities which may lack the tax base to finance basic infrastructure needs. For Pilkington township in Wellington county, it's the replacement of their bridges 14 and 15, the township's only structures spanning the Grand River. For Maryborough township in the hamlet of Moorefield, it's a communal water and sewage system that's needed to protect their local environment. I could go on and on, if time permitted.

We must save the provincial government for families, for seniors, for farmers, for students, for the sick and the infirm, for the needy -- for everyone in Ontario.

In recent weeks the members opposite have brought up my name in relation to the tax cut and I want to respond to that. We'll hear more about the tax cut in the coming budget. I'd like to comment on this for the public record because, as many members of this House may be aware, I've been less enthusiastic perhaps than some members of this House about the need for a major tax cut at this time.

Let me say this: I'd like to see a tax cut as much as anybody. I know that more money in people's pockets means more hope, more confidence and a greater likelihood that people will spend. I know all that. I also understand the politics of a tax cut, which is appealing on the surface, especially if one overlooks the detailed facts of the provincial debt, which presently stands at about $100 billion, I need not remind members, growing at $1 million an hour, rising to at least $120 billion when our mandate is complete when this Parliament is dissolved.

The people of Wellington expect the tax cut to take place only if it is affordable, possible and responsible, and they also expect the government to keep its word.

I accept the fact that a majority in this House support a tax cut, that they believe its obvious benefits will eventually outweigh its equally obvious disadvantages, and I accept that the will of the majority will prevail. I hope the benefits of a tax cut will be realized and the economic forecast that the tax cut idea is based upon will prove over time to be in the best interests of all the people of the province we are so privileged to serve.

Mr Alvin Curling (Scarborough North): It's a great opportunity to speak on interim supply, these funds or moneys the government needs to carry on its business. It's rather surprising that after 10 months in government -- a responsible government, as it has tried to project itself -- it has not brought forward a budget. I would have thought this fiscally responsible government would have had as its first thing to put forward a budget to tell us in what direction it would like to go.

As I know the Conservative members are anxious to come and support the kinds of things I am saying and doing, I invite them all to come and sit behind me, because that would indicate their support of the things they should be doing. I'd be glad to offer my recommendation that they listen, considering that they are not a government that has any consultation with the people.

How I see that a government should behave is that the role of a government in Parliament is to be representative. This is a large province, a very diverse province of rural, urban, different ethnic groups, different religious groups, and it must be representative within the House, that when we have policies and any kind of spending it reflect the wishes and the aspirations of the people.

It must also be responsible to all those people, even those who were not supportive of the Conservative Party, and it must be accountable. In 10 months, the indication is that this party, this government, has failed on all three levels. They have not been representative to all the people of Ontario, they've not been responsible in the way they have conducted themselves, and they've not been accountable.

They were elected in June 1995, as you know, Mr Speaker. I'd like to review some of the things that have happened over the past.

Overall, they have been very effective in destroying confidence in the people. The people have lost their confidence in this government, a government that "cares." No, they don't feel they care. Their first decision when they came into power was to take away from the weakest of our society, the most vulnerable, that basic support they had and told them they should go out and fend for themselves. They cut the welfare recipients' income in such a drastic form that today the repercussion is that those who are unable to pay for their rent and buy food have been scrambling around.

The ministers here don't seem to represent their constituencies, which they should be doing. Take, for instance, the Minister of Community and Social Services. One of his first remarks in the House was to tell someone that if they have no money for food, go to the stores and try to barter and find out if they can reduce the cost of food, that that's the way people should be doing it. That's the kind of government we have, a government with no compassion whatsoever.

We've seen the disabled confused about whether they are being supported, and some of their supports have been taken away from them. This government continues to feel it is here for those kinds of people.

The people in my constituency of Scarborough North feel so intimidated by what's happening. They're intimidated because they feel the government will take away rent control, has reduced the welfare supplement they had, has taken away jobs. They're very frightened about the direction in which this government is going, all for the sake, they say, to reduce the deficit.

In the short time I have, I'd like to focus on three areas. I want to talk a bit about housing and the policy of this government, and within that, rent control; I want to talk about education, especially where it has impact on our young people, on our youth, and about youth employment; and I want to talk about the human rights cuts that have been happening.

Let me first talk about the Human Rights Commission and the human rights cuts there. The minister comes into this House, has made no statement in regard to how those people who have been subjected to all types of human rights abuses and the backlog that exists there -- how it's going to be addressed. This is the government who, first, when they came in decided to cancel the employment equity legislation, which was brought in by the New Democratic Party at the time. Like all governments when they come in, they put their own brand on in protecting all. When they did that, they first took away over $700,000 from the budget, having recognized the fact that there will be needs for which to have more support for the Human Rights Commission because of the huge backlog we have there.


In the meantime, they had stated that in the cancellation of the employment equity department, that money would be transferred to Human Rights. That has not been done. Today, people are still waiting three and four years for abuses done to them to be addressed, while this government said it would address that concern. This has not been done.

I am extremely concerned by the way the minister approached that issue, as if these people are at fault because they were sexually abused or abused in racial slurs or hate crimes, and how that's been addressed. That has not been done, and they have no hope. They have given up any hope whatsoever for this government to address those concerns.

As a matter of fact, the Premier and his colleagues, most of the ministers, I would say, would call these people special-interest groups and therefore dismiss them. I don't see anything wrong with someone having a special interest in a government or in their concerns. But they have given up hope; they've given up hope that justice and any human rights cause could be addressed under this government.

I don't feel that within the coming years this government will be in power anything sensible will be done in that regard, because they see that as part of balancing their budget, to save money on the backs of the poor, on the backs of the most vulnerable, all for the sake of saying, "The deficit will be reduced and see if we can save in that respect." I think that's awful.

When I look at education and the Minister of Education, who I've known for a long time and respected, I know from his heart that what he is doing has been directed by the spin doctors in his ministry and in the Premier's office. He knows how important education and training are to young people. He also knows that without a good education, without good training, one cannot afford oneself a proper job. But that doesn't worry this minister. It doesn't worry the minister at all that the high unemployment rate of young people is there and is not being addressed. So they've brought in a program that they say is for young people, a summer program that I don't think will ever touch the seriousness of this problem.

They have started to erode the possibility of people getting a good education by increasing tuition fees -- it started off, as a matter of fact, with the NDP government when it cancelled out the OSAP grant portion of people having access to higher education -- and also moving the people on welfare who are at school, transferring that into an OSAP loan.

I know young people who have just finished university or college, 22 or 23 years old, and they have a debt of $20,000 or $25,000. They haven't worked yet, but they've got a $25,000 debt on their head and haven't been able to get a job. They're willing to work. In the meantime, of course, the banks start to calculate the interest rates immediately. So by the time they get around to even getting a job, maybe in a year or two, that may have gone to $22,000 if it's $20,000; if it's $24,000, it may have gone to $26,000 within that time, having a debt on their head without a job.

This government comes around and would like to make some makeshift work in the summer to believe that it's doing something for the young people, for the people who are unemployed. These are not jobs that are meaningful. These jobs are makeshift jobs that give people no will and purpose in what they are doing. They don't feel a part of it.

Let me explain to you and share with you some of the things I've been doing in my constituency of Scarborough North and beyond. I have visited many, many schools, quite often on Fridays, to speak to the students and to the teachers, and I've never seen in my time here, in visiting these schools over the last 11 years, such fear, such desperation in the young people, who see themselves not able to participate in society later on for jobs. Their education is being destroyed; that's how they feel. They don't feel a part of this at all.

They ask me the question: "Why is the government not listening? Why don't we see them speaking on our behalf, saying our education concerns them?" All they hear is about the deficit they have to reduce, the cost of their education, the cost of their parents who will not be working because there are no jobs. They're concerned.

I would challenge all the members in this Parliament to visit the schools and talk to those kids, talk to those young people and ask them if they feel, in the next 10 years' time, they will be working, will have a job that is worthwhile and be able to contribute to our society. They don't feel that way.

The teachers feel rather desperate. All they can hear at times is that we're going to privatize education. Sometimes we have those kinds of spins going on. "We're going to privatize education," and you know when the private sector takes over education what will happen: They will immediately choose what is education. They may take away some of the soft subjects. They will say: "What's the use of having geography, psychology? We don't need them. What's the use of telling you how to think? We don't want you to think."

Government plays an extremely important role in education, and it seems to me this government is more interested in having the private sector run it. I don't blame the private sector. If they're going to pay for it, they're going to want to get the biggest buck for their money in the sense that they want the person to do the things they want to do, just to train them in that narrow gap.

I would encourage you all that what is happening now is not happening to somebody else's child, it's happening to your child, it's happening to your pension, it's happening to your future, to all parliamentarians in this House and all parents and all senior citizens.

It's the young people who will carry on this economy long after you have destroyed it and ignored our young people. I urge you, in our education programs, to make sure what you're doing is in the interests of our young people and of our province.

I'd like to speak a little bit about housing. Housing is pretty close to my heart and the way we've been handling this over a couple of years and in the 11 years I've been here.

I know the only way we will have affordable housing for those at an income level in the region of $30,000, $35,000 or so, which is a very low income level, is if the government builds it on a non-profit basis. That's the only way. If you don't believe me -- which I know you do, Mr Speaker, but your other colleagues may be shaking their heads about this -- the private sector will be happy to build any kind of housing possible if they can make a profit.

If I was the private sector and I was using my money to build housing and I couldn't make a profit, I would not be building it. I don't have that kind of money. I don't see any private sector having that kind of money to just build affordable housing without any profit. So the government has to play a very important role in making sure that we have affordable housing.


I still can't understand why the government came in and cancelled about 385 projects across this province for people to have access to affordable housing, hoping that the private sector would build it at no profit. You can ask many of my colleagues who have been involved in housing. If you take some time off and understand it a bit more, you'll realize that this will not happen under the private sector.

The private sector is quite concerned about rent control. My party and my leader are committed to rent control, and we feel it should be there. It's important, for a product which people buy, that we have enough supplies of housing in the reach of people, but recognizing the fact that if the private sector is building it, there is a profit for the private sector too.

There's nothing wrong with profit, but this exorbitant profit that may come about at the expense of those who can't have access to affordable housing is disastrous for young people, disastrous for families that have to be living in a decent and affordable environment. This will not happen under the private sector.

I know right now that many of the private sector landlords are meeting with the minister to develop the strategy to get rid of rent control.

Mrs Margaret Marland (Mississauga South): The way they met with you when you were minister.

Mr Curling: The member for Mississauga South asked where I was.

Mrs Marland: No, I said, "The way they met with you when you were minister."

Mr Curling: The thing is that we, together with the NDP at the time, put together a rent control policy. It was on its way to bringing about a fair return and access to affordable housing through our rent control or our rent review policy. It was working. It needed, of course, improvement, and that in itself would continue to improve in the rent review process.

This government came in and cancelled that immediately, intent to cancel the rent control, and said there should not be any rent control, and not only that; making room for the private sector to say, "We will cancel out all the non-profit social housing." Beyond that, they want to sell off all the units they have to the private sector. I hope when they do that, which they intend to do, that consultation will take place with the tenants there to give them the first shot at buying their home. I hope too that when they hand these units over to be bought by the private sector, which may be the tenants, they can fix them to a standard in which it is decent and affordable to live and to buy.

We know that the government has been a very poor landlord, poor in the sense of maintenance because it did not maintain its property as well. Don't blame the tenants in there, don't blame the tenants at all, because the fact is that the landlord, which is the government, which alone has about 84,000 units, has not kept its buildings in such a standard that one would be very happy and proud to live in.

I encourage that we do not destroy the non-profit and co-op housing, which has served very well in this province; they have not done so. I would appeal to the tenants out there, don't allow this government to bully you in the way they have done, because when they were campaigning in the election, many who are here today were saying they would not cancel rent control. They said when they were attacked many times -- the minister himself, Al Leach, during the election talked about protecting rent control, and as soon as he got in he changed his mind.

I saw many of the colleagues here who are from especially the urban areas, just because they wanted to be elected and realized that the tenants themselves were concerned about the destruction and the destroying of the rent control policies and legislation they had, promise that they would not destroy rent control, and today they are backsliding over this promise. That was then, but now things have all changed.

I'm telling you, and I'm appealing to the tenants out there, do not fear these kinds of bully tactics from them. I would say to them to be organized. Request these same members who came knocking at your door in May and June 1995 to 'fess up and say the same things they were saying then. I'm telling you, they will not sit back and take the way you have pushed some of these bills through this House. They will not do that. Gone are the days that Ontario is very passive about things that the government of the day will do. They will make sure that you don't destroy their homes, because that's what you're doing, and I will be out there telling those tenants to make these people accountable.

I'd like to speak just a little bit about an attitude and the mean-spirited way this government has conducted itself in 10 months. I have a feeling that they are trying to drive fear into the people of Ontario. The people will stand up, although they'll have to wait very long, to throw you out of government if you continue to abuse that privilege which you got to govern in a very sensible and very compassionate way, but we don't see that. We see the smiles and the mean-spirited way in which you have cut people from jobs, the thousands of civil servants you have laid off with a smile -- with a smile. How can you be so mean-spirited in the sense of folks who have to work and support their mortgages and pay rents and buy food and send their children to school, that you laugh as you fire them on the line?

As a matter of fact, during the strike, it was like they forced these workers to be on strike -- forced them -- and then settled in a way that could have been done without people going out on strike.

Today, if you're not aware of this, there are still people not getting paid who have been back on the job almost two weeks, and some people have been told they won't get paid for another three weeks. How do you expect the people to live? You are the government. Don't look at me. You are the government that has the bureaucrats there who can generate a cheque for people who have worked. Some people who were on contract haven't gotten paid for four or five months, and then you blame it on the strike. This government, which should represent all the people --

Mr John R. Baird (Nepean): Since November?

Mr Curling: Since November. I can give you cases. The member asks if it's since November. Yes, since November, since December, there are some folks who have not gotten paid. They are saying, "Because of the strike, we're not able to generate cheques."

I think your government is trying to punish the people for that or trying to save money on the backs or those folks. I would say to you, my friend, that you are elected to represent all the people of this province and not to be so mean-spirited about your approach. The people have a right to proper representation regardless of whether they voted for you. The people in housing, who felt they would be able to pay affordable rent for their accommodation and not the legislation being taken away, leaving them with no protection. People who have been your tenants for years -- you decide to sell their home from under them. That's bad, very bad. People who want to send their kids to school can't afford it. Welfare recipients in school today are being asked that the welfare cheques they are getting will be a loan now, so when you leave you'd have this massive loan on your head to pay. The same government is saying, "We are trying to get people off that cycle of welfare into the workforce," and when people try to do that they are punished.


What type of government are you? I appeal to you to listen to the people, to understand their cry. It's not partisan stuff. It's not, "I am poor, so therefore I am the enemy." It's not that I wouldn't like the tax cut too, but I don't want the lower end of the economic strata to be paying for your upper echelons in the economic strata. That's what's happening. You're trying to find all that money because you made a political promise to have a tax cut for those in the upper-income bracket.

You're asking for money now to spend again because you didn't have a budget -- a very irresponsible way of conducting business. Of course, we are appalled that you have the gall to do that. We await your budget -- as you say, late May -- to see where you're going to take this province, because so far you've taken it in a way that people are extremely concerned. They see you not as a compassionate government, not as a government which represents all the people. I hope you can see your way as you try to govern -- and it's new to you -- to be more compassionate and more understanding about the issues that concern especially the most vulnerable in our society.

I appreciate the opportunity to make some of those comments, and I hope the members see fit to follow suit.

Mrs Marland: It's delightful to have the opportunity to respond to comments made by a former Minister of Housing, particularly in the area that the comments were made. I guess it's particularly interesting because, with respect, you were the former Minister of Housing; I was at one time your critic in opposition. I also was critic in housing for a number of other ministers. I also shared public platforms with the member for Lawrence who was the critic for housing when the New Democratic Party was the government.

Around all this issue of whether government should build housing, or private sector should build housing, swirls a whole lot of misinformation. I think it's very unfortunate when this happens because when people really look at the raw figures and the cost of what we're doing, what we are saying is that with all the previous two governments' policies we still had over a quarter of a million people on waiting lists in this province for affordable housing. So what you were doing and all your policies of rent review and rent protection -- all of those different pieces of legislation that came in under various numbers and various bills never solved the problem. We still had huge retroactive rent increases for tenants in this province that they simply couldn't afford. We still had people who didn't have places to live.

What we are saying, and I say this respectfully to the former Minister of Housing, is what you did didn't work. What we are going to do will work and will solve those problems for tenants in this province.

The Acting Speaker (Ms Marilyn Churley): Further questions or comments? The member for Scarborough North to sum up.

Mr Curling: The minister from Mississauga South --

Mr James J. Bradley (St Catharines): Minister? She should be a minister.

Mr Curling: Yes, she should be a minister. I know she tried very hard. Consumer and commercial relations would be a role for you. Then you would have to deal with the rent control issue.

Your party seems to be a party of convenience. As a matter of fact, they are the ones who introduced rent control at one time. In her message it's like she didn't introduce rent control whatsoever --

Mr Chris Stockwell (Etobicoke West): Listen to you, Alvin. You're out of control.

The Acting Speaker: Order, please.

Mr Curling: I know I rattled the cage of the right-wing member from Etobicoke there.

They introduced rent control in such a very haphazard way that it had to be improved. You must recall that it was you who introduced rent control, and we had to actually improve it. If you can tell me the private sector will build affordable housing by taking away rent control, if you can promise me that right now, that if we take away rent control, affordable housing will be built, I'll be delighted.

Mr Stockwell: Alvin, thank God there's no wind in here, or you'd be swinging.

The Acting Speaker: The member for Etobicoke West, come to order.

Mr Curling: The member for Etobicoke West I know sometimes has his foot under his armpit and is not quite sure where it is.

The fact is that if they can be more sensible about it and promise me that by eliminating rent control the private sector will build affordable housing, then I will say, of course we will step back from all that. But I'm telling you we are committed and we will continue to struggle to organize those tenants who are most vulnerable under rent control --

The Acting Speaker: Thank you. The member's time is up. Further debate?

Mr Rosario Marchese (Fort York): I too am pleased to speak to the interim supply motion today. I am happy because I want an opportunity to be able to raise a number of points that I hope will resonate with the public as we raise these issues.

The Conservative members are drooling over the cost-saving measures they have introduced, the Interim Report on Business Planning and Cost Savings Measures. The government gloats, the private sector gloats over these cuts and Conservative economists gloat over these cuts.

Everyone is cutting. The federal Liberal government is cutting 40,000 workers. The provincial government is obviously cutting 11,000 workers. The private sector is cutting workers by the thousands as they make record profits. Municipal governments are forced to cut people because they're getting less from provincial governments. All the agencies connected to provincial governments, federal governments and municipal governments are also cutting, and these cuts, believe it or not, are hurting people. The image it gives to me in terms of what we're doing as a government is that we're throwing all of these people into a Roman forum as the lions circle around.

The government is saying, "We're doing more with less," and I don't know how they can do that. I don't know how you can do more with less, but we do hear them constantly talking about doing more with less. Most people, whether they're professionals or non-professionals, understand that you don't do more with less. In fact when you get less money, you do less. What these cuts mean is that you're getting less service from government. That's what the cuts mean: less service with less money; not more with less, but quite the contrary.


They talk about becoming more efficient and effective. I don't know how you do that by cutting the billions of dollars they're cutting. Some $10 billion worth of cuts do not make for an efficient government. If you believe as the public that they're becoming more efficient by cutting $10 billion, then God bless. But we don't believe you can become more efficient by doing that. If anything, you become more inefficient, more unable to do the work you've done before. If some of you listening today thought the government and its civil service may not have been serving you well, you can bet your life that with $10 billion less you're going to get worse service than ever before.

They talk about streamlining. Streamlining means cuts and more cuts, and less service. They talk about giving you hope for the future and hope for the children. That's all you're getting. Hope doesn't seem to be feeding the poor; hope doesn't help women who are abused; hope doesn't deal with the violence in our society; hope doesn't deal with prevention. Hope gives us very little, and people are not going to be satisfied with the empty words of hope and that somehow that will take you a long way into the future, because it won't.

When you take $10 billion out of provincial government and out of provincial circulation, you are causing a great deal of destruction. The effects of $10 billion out of the market and out of circulation will have a profound effect on our social, psychological and human way of life that we've had for a long time. People tend not to relate cuts to the effects they have on people, so when the government drools and gloats about the cuts, it never seems to focus on what it means to the individual person who is all of a sudden gone from the workplace where they have been for 10, 15 or 20 years.

They underestimate the human effect it has on people, on families and their children, and on the economy. They underestimate completely how $10 billion affects the economy in Ontario. You cannot take that much and not hurt the economy. The mood it creates is one of extreme fear, extreme angst, extreme insecurity and extreme powerlessness and hopelessness, and that's what I believe most people feel.

When we talk about the income tax cut this government wants to introduce, they again gloat over this as, "What a wonderful measure we are introducing and what a wonderful benefit it is to people." This government needs at all costs to keep its promise; it cannot break that. We know and the majority of people know they need to keep that promise. They will keep that promise at all costs, in spite of the hurt it's going to do. We have a difference of opinion. They say it's not going to hurt people and the economy and we say it's going to hurt people and the economy profoundly, because when you break it down, when you unpackage what that income tax cut means, it means the following: 60% per cent of all of the income tax cut goes to 10% of the people.

What that means is that we're not distributing that income tax cut evenly or equally to the bottom sector of our economy. The people at the bottom get the very least, even though we know the people at the bottom spend the very most because they need to; they have less. What you are in effect doing is giving the wealthiest citizens more money they don't need. Of course they gloat over that, of course they want the income tax cut, because they're going to get more back.

I don't know why you shake your head. If 60% of that money goes to the top 10 percentile of the population, it means the high-income earners are receiving it. That's what it means. I don't know why you might want to contradict that, but that's the effect of your income tax cut. It means we are not distributing the wealth to those who really need it, to those who really spend and would help the economy. You're doing the wrong thing.

Of course people yearn for a tax cut. I understand that. I understand that they want a tax cut, because for a long, long time, at least for the last 30 years, the middle-class income earners are shouldering more and more of the costs of our social spending on health, education and social services. And when they see them shouldering the problem, they say, "If this Conservative government is going to give us a break, we want it."

They don't know yet that the majority of people will receive very little at the end of the day. They don't know that yet. They will once you announce your budget in May and people have a good sense of who's going to get that income tax cut. They will know then that they will get very little and, disproportionately, the wealthy will get more. They will learn that, but it takes time for them to see it in their paycheque.

So they're yearning for a tax cut. The problem with that is that they're focusing on the wrong issue. They are not focusing on the fact that corporations are paying less than their share. In fact, in 1965 the corporations were paying 65% of the taxes and individuals were paying 35% of the taxes. We have completely reversed that situation, where individuals are now paying 65% of the taxes and the corporate sector is paying 23% of the taxes. That's why working people and middle-class people are shouldering the tax burden and want a tax break.

We should be focusing our attention on that sector of society that's not paying its fair share. That's why our corporate minimum tax was important. It was a beginning. By introducing that in Ontario for the very first time, we were able to raise $125 million. It was an important beginning, but it was a recognition that we had to begin to distribute the tax burden more to the sector that's been paying less. If we don't do that, the tax burden will fall continually, eternally, on the poor, the working poor and the middle class that's fast diminishing, that's rapidly going down.

The middle class is going down, and it will continue to do so because of the firings. Your firings, municipal firings, agency firings, the private sector firings are going to create a permanent pool of unemployed that includes the middle class. Middle-class people will be perennially unemployed by your moves, by the federal moves, and by the cuts that the municipal sector needs to do because of your provincial cuts. We are creating a society where we have the rich, the wealthier sector of the population, and a high proportion of poorly paid and of poor sector workers out there. That's what's happening. That's what you are creating.

It's important to speak to the public about this, not to speak to the government members, because we know they're resolute in their ideologically driven philosophy and policy. There's no point speaking to them. That is why we speak directly to the public.

Nothing in this government is sacred, nothing. We've seen that with their announcements of $10 billion in cuts they have made in the laothing is sacred. We see that in spite of the promises this government has made, they have broken those promises. They said there will not be any cuts in educational funding. We know that was a lie, because they have cut in education, and the effect of the cuts by next year will be the equivalent of $1 billion. They said they were not going to cut one penny out of the health budget, and we know that's not true.

The public needs to be discerning in the deception of the government, because when they promised no cuts and they cut, that is a deception. The public cannot be deceived by the promises the Conservative government has made.


The reason I feel strongly about this is because this Conservative government, this Reform government, was going to be different. Remember, they were in power for 43 years. They know what governing means. When they made their promises over the last election that there would be no cuts to education, that there would be no cuts to health, you'd think they would be bound by those promises, but they're not. Those promises were hollow. They were going to be different; the Tories were going to be different; my friend Mr Stockwell was going to be different. They constantly railed against us for not keeping a promise. I understand from time to time governments will not keep their promises, but they were going to be different and we believed them. A large proportion of the public believed that you would keep all your promises, but we have to become masters of Tory deception.

Not one penny from the health care budget; $1.3 billion has been cut. Not one penny from education; by next year $1 billion out of education. It has dramatic effects on children in the educational system, on teachers, to take away $1 billion. You can't take away $1 billion without creating severe dislocation and derangement in the school system. The government says, "But 47% of that is non-educational." That is complete deception. Every dollar, every penny that is spent relates to the classroom, connects to the classroom teacher. Social workers connect to the classroom; educational assistants connect to the classroom; secretaries do the work of the school, of the principal, of the vice-principal and the teachers and they're connected to parents, they're connected to the teaching of the classroom, to the teacher, to the students, to the parents, to your taxpayers. It's all connected. You can't take so much out of those budgets and not affect the people they serve.

Social services are the ones that are not spared at all by this government. Social services are gutted completely, and you know whom that affects. It affects the poorest members of our society. It doesn't affect the wealthy. Your wealthy friends don't mind the cuts; your wealthy friends don't mind the user fees because they can afford them. It matters not to Tories, it matters not to Reformers because your friends, by and large, are not the working poor, are not the most marginalized members of society; they're corporate friends. They're your wealthy friends. Of course it doesn't matter to you, but you are affecting social society by distributing and redistributing the wealth that's out there to the wealthy from the poor.

When you send 11,000 workers away, when you take away their earning power, when your spending power is gone consumer confidence dwindles, and it's dwindling with fear. Confidence dwindles with fear when people know they're about to lose their jobs. They stop spending. Income tax that normally comes in because people are working is gone. The retail sales tax people that governments get because of their spending are gone when they cannot afford to spend. When you fire 11,000 workers, you are affecting the economy profoundly in the short term and the long term. You are dealing with a high number of part-time workers -- not full-time workers -- who cannot any longer afford to buy the things they could before. You're affecting consumer confidence and consumer spending.

You have poorly paid workers who are not receiving the wages they used to; you have a manufacturing sector that's dwindling, affecting the wages they used to get, so what you're affecting is government and you are hurting the people at the bottom when you do that. That's okay; it's okay for Reform governments, I understand that. The public, therefore, has to be the one that has to be discerning and has to understand our differences, yours and ours, and if at the end of the day they believe you and agree with you, then you've done a good job. Our job is to be able to say to the public: "This government is devastating our social life and is devastating our economy in Ontario. This is an Ontario-made recession by a Reform Party."

You are hurting small business as well; you, the party of business. You're hurting small business with these cuts and you will feel the effect of their anger as we go along. But that's okay; I'm sure you're confident about your cuts.

High interest rates are also hurting our economy. They're taking away billions of dollars from governments and ourselves. As banks lend our money that you invest in banks to governments, we're being gouged in a very complicated and profound way. Ninety per cent of our investments go to banks. They use our money to make money for those who invest privately in banks. They use our money to lend to provincial governments and federal governments at high interest rates, and then they gloat with the Conservative government when they cut. They're happy we're cutting. Using our money for high interest rates that we give to them to punish us, and they gloat with the cuts, they're happy with the cuts in social spending, as you are.

Those are your friends. That's where the hurt is. You are cutting where it hurts most. You're not going after the sector that has the money. Oh no, you can't do that, that would be hurtful to you and your connections. So who do we go after? We go after the victims. People are yearning for victims and this government is willing to oblige them. As you look for victims, we need to find issues for those victims. Who are they? We say: "Welfare, there's the culprit. That's why our economy is being drained, because of the welfare cheats. Not because the corporate sector isn't paying its fair share any more. Not because interest rates are very high. Not because those who are very wealthy are not paying. No. We need a victim and the victim is the welfare recipient. So we Reform Party-minded people will oblige the public. We're going to cut their rates, we're going to make them work."

So we cut their rates by 22%. Conveniently, we find a good victim, someone that everybody can relate to and against.

We find another issue, employment equity. "The reason you don't have a job is because black men and women are taking away your jobs. So we're going to get rid of employment equity because that's what's taking away your job. Women are taking away your job, aboriginal people are taking away your job, and people with disabilities are taking away your job. We, the Reform-minded government, are going to take that employment equity away so jobs will be created."

We have found another scapegoat in society, another victim to go after, all to service your ends, your political end.

Your income tax cut does the very same thing. It gives wealth back to wealthy individuals, but at what cost? At a very high cost, because it will hurt those who are at the bottom.

If the public out there is listening to what we are saying, and if they relate to what we're saying, they need to call Mike Harris, they need to call every one of those individual members of the Reform Party over there on the other side and let them know what they're feeling. They need to understand, they need to know what you're feeling and how you are being hurt, because if you don't do that, there is damage that is being done now and the damage is going to increase as we go along.


Mr Ted Chudleigh (Halton North): Thank you for the opportunity to add some thoughts on this important debate on interim supply which affects all Ontarians.

First, let me take this opportunity to welcome all members of the opposition to the new reality in Ontario, the new reality where government keeps its promises, strives to deliver more for less, and gets government off the backs of hardworking, ordinary citizens by giving them the freedom and opportunity to chart their own destinies, their own economic destinies.

If I sound buoyant today, I am. I'm energized by the prospects of building a modern government capable of meeting the needs of the 21st century by becoming more of a solution to its population and to its citizens than a problem.

But this is not change for change's sake. These measures, however drastic, as termed by those in the opposition benches, save us from the devastating debate between the levels of service we want to offer the people of this province and eliminating those services altogether because we can no longer afford them.

If the members opposite haven't received the message loud and clear, let me deliver it once again: The interest we pay on servicing the debt is debilitating today and totally unsustainable tomorrow. The only way to ensure the programs we all value so highly are there for future generations is to make sure they are affordable and delivered as efficiently and cost-effectively as possible.

In the debate over this bill, it is appropriate to return to the government's five-point job creation plan. Modernizing government will result in a more accountable and creative government that spends taxpayers' dollars wisely. Lowering taxes, getting government spending under control, removing barriers to economic growth, reducing bureaucracy and balancing the budget are our five important job creation pillars, all of which affect the government's ability to spend.

Let me use some of my time in this debate to remind the House about some of the progress we have made and will make in these areas.

We were serious about balancing the budget from the day we got elected. It started with the finance minister's announcement in July, and was followed by the November economic statement where the government made difficult decisions to cut up to $6 billion in spending to prepare for the 1996-97 fiscal year and move towards a balanced budget by the year 2000-01.

Removing barriers to growth, jobs and investment have begun to be realized through the following measures taken to date which were previously mentioned by my friend from Wellington. All are measures which point towards a positive climate for economic growth.

With respect to reducing government bureaucracy, we have committed to cutting administration by 33% over the next two years. Getting our spending under control must be achieved through good planning and good management, the vehicles we have chosen to get us there in this new process which examines ministry-by-ministry business plans. This process allows us to identify core businesses and focus our efforts where they are needed most. This will downsize administration, reduce waste and duplication and streamline and transfer services. This effort will provide all citizens with better-quality, lower-cost core services and activities.

Leadership and political courage are other factors that are necessary in getting this spending under control. I applaud all members of this House, especially the House leaders, for last week reaching the agreement necessary to reduce and freeze MPPs' salaries and benefit programs and eliminate the lavish pension scheme which was in place. This personal leadership on behalf of all government members will not alone solve our fiscal problems, but it is symbolic of the need for all to share in the responsibility of solving these problems.

The final pillar of our job creation plan is lowering the overall tax burden for the people of this province. We will eliminate the employer health tax from the first $400,000 of payroll and deliver our plan to cut personal provincial income tax rates as promised in the Common Sense Revolution. It is the personal income tax cuts and tax burdens generally on which I will focus the remainder of my remarks.

More than one study from around the world indicates with overwhelming evidence that the way in which government structures tax systems matters tremendously. In fact, the majority of economic scholarship in the area of government taxation supports the theory that a political jurisdiction can dramatically improve its economic benefit performance by lowering its overall tax burdens.

Further, statistical evidence as stated in a November 1995 article in the Wall Street Journal suggests that the type of taxation a government pursues is significant, and I quote, "There is a striking negative relationship between income tax burdens and income growth." Yet the provincial wizards of the past 10 years chose to raise taxes 65 separate times, including no less than 11 personal income tax increases.

The tax policies of the last 10 years saw the increased intrusion of government spending push up the level of public debt and make the economy extremely vulnerable to high interest rates. Further, this increased government intrusion, and rising taxes left the private sector ill equipped to deal with strong international competition. The facts are that between 1989 and 1994, Ontario's economy performed worse than that of the rest of Canada and the US in both gross domestic product and employment.

Over the 40-year period up until 1995, Ontario's real GDP grew at an average rate of 4.5%. That's the good news. The bad news is that during the 1990s Ontario's real growth rate was 0.7%. Total employment fell 1.5% in Ontario, while at the same time it rose 3.7% in the rest of Canada and 5.7% in the United States. That's when Bob Rae became Buffalo's man of the year.

What caused these negative impacts on the economy? The linkages between taxation and growth are hard to ignore. Notes from a US joint economic committee report dated October 1993 identified state tax policies as a critical factor missing from conventional analysis of why some states have been growing in the 1990s and others have not. Examining the evidence for the period of 1989 to 1993, the report compared job creation, growth and per capita growth incomes in the 10 states that raised taxes the most over the period 1990 to 1993 with the 10 states that cut or avoided raising taxes.

The results are hardly surprising. The tax-avoiding states created 653,000 new jobs over the period, versus just 3,000 new jobs for the tax-increasing states. Yet the tax-increasing states had much larger populations. Income for an average family of four dropped by an average of almost $500 in the states increasing taxes but rose by $300 per family of four over that same time frame in the tax-avoiding states. The 10 income-tax-increasing states lost nearly 200,000 jobs from 1989 to 1993; however, the 10 income-tax-cutting states created nearly one million new jobs over that same time frame.

In the early 1990s, states have used two contrasting strategies to deal with their fiscal crises. California, Connecticut, New Jersey and several others chose the option of attempting to close budget shortfalls through substantial tax hikes. The study confirms that not only have these states harmed their economies as a consequence, but even with record new taxes they have failed to solve their budget deficit problems. Sounds familiar. Meanwhile, states such as Michigan, Wisconsin and Indiana opted for budget restraints or no new taxes. These states tend to be in solid financial and fiscal shape today.

The main conclusion of this study was that virtually every state that is experiencing economic difficulty today enacted a major tax increase in 1990, 1991 or 1992. There's a principality familiar to all of us that increased taxes in all three of those years.

I am fully aware that one such study does not hold true for every case, but many studies in jurisdictions around the world, including ours, give us the one cold economic reality which rings true for all, this being that high overall tax burdens and marginal tax rates destroy jobs, destroy income, destroy wealth and destroy growth.

Why then would previous administrations follow failed tax and spending policies? One answer is that governments receive powerful motivation via very vocal interest groups to increase taxes. Previous administrations responded to these pressures by increasing taxes 65 times. They did not need to worry about these increases due to the lagging negative effects of tax increases on the economic viability of this region.

Dr Richard K. Vedder, professor and author of many government taxation policy studies, states: "If the negative effects of economic performance of tax increases were felt immediately, it would raise the political costs to politicians enacting those increases. In fact, it takes time for much of the adverse economic effects to be felt."


It is easier now for me to understand why the administrations of the last 10 years pursued jellyfish policies like tax increases to get away with the lavish spending on programs and services. But maybe I give them too much credit. It is my deep-felt belief that if the two previous governments understood the horrendous human impact of their policies, they would not with good conscience have been able to auction off to the highest foreign creditor the future economic health of this great province. Whether they knew what they were doing or not is another debate for another time. What is evident is that their reckless mismanagement and misunderstanding of the basic economic principles have finally caught up with the people of the province. We have chosen a different path and a more courageous path.

I quote from one of Dr Vedder's conclusions:

"It often takes political courage to do what is right. The political benefits of spending are often obvious, whereas the potential economic costs are hidden, and thus an ineffective deterrent to good public policy. Educating the public as to the long-term consequences of high taxes is thus an important role for political leaders and responsible academics."

We have done our homework. Ontario must once again become the province of opportunity, the economic engine of Canada. Delivering an income tax cut to all of the hardworking people of this province is the right thing to do.

The Leader of the Opposition is very wrong in her assertion that this is a tax cut for the rich and the well-to-do. This is a measure that will have a tremendously positive impact on all citizens in Ontario. The member from Thunder Bay has also consistently and conveniently forgotten to include this government's fair share health tax levy for those who earn significant incomes as part of the parcel of this government's effort to introduce fair and equitable taxation policies.

We will move forward with our economic agenda. Our five-point job creation plan will foster long-term economic growth and create jobs. All five points will build a strong Ontario where we can all once again look forward to our future with anticipation instead of anxiety.

We will do better for less.

Mr David Ramsay (Timiskaming): It's a pleasure for me to rise today on interim supply. Interim supply gives a member an opportunity to basically talk about just about anything he or she wishes, and today I want to focus the majority of my remarks on how the recent budget cuts, based on the Conservative government's business plans, have affected my riding of Timiskaming.

The riding of Timiskaming, which I represent, is a riding that has a southern border about 20 miles north of the Premier's, the town of North Bay. It goes for about 180 miles -- and excuse me that I'm not speaking in metric in that -- north up the Highway 11 corridor, through the towns of Martin River and Temagami, the Tri-town area of Cobalt and Haileybury and New Liskeard, through Englehart, a town I wish to speak about specifically later on in regard to the railway cuts there from the ONTC, and to the very famous gold-mining town of Kirkland Lake, which has seen some very hard times in the last few years but is actually on the verge of a new surge in gold-mining activity there.

Today I have brought a series of news clippings from some of the local papers that I subscribe to in the Timiskaming area that really highlight in the last couple of weeks some of the devastating blows that have occurred in the riding of Timiskaming as a result of these cuts.

The first I wish to speak to involves an agency of the Ontario government administered through the Ministry of Northern Development and Mines, and that is the Ontario Northland Transportation Commission that is centred in North Bay. It manages, owns and runs the ex-norOntair that was axed, unfortunately, last month by this government, which was a regional airline in northern Ontario that acted as a feeder airline into Air Ontario that fed into the Air Canada system in Toronto. But it also operates a ferry system, a bus system and a train system, and our train system is very important both for passenger and for freight traffic in our area.

Up until about a month ago, the town of Englehart was a centre for that operation north of North Bay. It was what they call a "maintenance-of-way" point along the railway, where trains were constructed and broken down into different component parts, depending on where the rail-haul operation was headed. The management of the ONTC, in their wisdom, decided to take 20 jobs out of the town of Englehart and move those to North Bay.

For people who may be living in towns and municipalities of a large size, especially in southern Ontario or one of the large urban centres of northern Ontario, 20 jobs may seem trivial, but for the town of Englehart, in the centre of my riding, that is going to be a big blow, because those 20 families contribute a lot to the economy of Englehart and to north Timiskaming, but the different services which that maintenance-of-way point of the Northland Railway consumes in the Englehart area are also going to be lost. There are a lot of spinoff jobs also that will be lost for our area.

Bettyanne Thib, the mayor of Englehart, has started a mayor's task force in trying to preserve these jobs. Not only that, but what she wants to do with her task force is to work with the management of the ONTC on any future decisions that are being made for the future of our area, and especially in her case for the town of Englehart. We have been hit by this, and we hear that this may not be the end of those job cuts for the town of Englehart. We want to ensure that these job cuts are stopped, and even though the jobs themselves are not lost but transferred, ironically enough, to the Premier's riding, we feel we need them up our way, that North Bay is a large urban centre of northern Ontario and it doesn't need those 20 jobs from the town of Englehart.

So today I certainly want to say to Mayor Bettyanne Thib and the councillors and other citizens who are helping the mayor and her task force that I support their endeavour to fend off this job loss that the ONTC is bringing to the town of Englehart. The loss is expected to have a major spinoff, as I said, to the town; it looks like, in the form of lost income, about $1 million to the town with only these 20 jobs, as it has a lot of spinoffs with the buildings that are there and the procurement that happens in the town of Englehart and surroundings because of those jobs and the work that is created there. So I'd just like to say to the people of the town of Englehart that I support you in that, and hopefully we can convince the Conservative government to stop pulling out those jobs from Englehart.

You have to sort of get down to those local clippings to start to see what all those impacts are. One of the concerns of municipalities, especially a municipality like Kirkland Lake that is over 60 years old and has old infrastructure, old sewage lines and water lines, is that municipalities of that age are constantly looking for government funds to help them renew that infrastructure because, especially in the harsh northern climate, water lines and sewage lines crack and are a victim of frost heave at this time of year. So the climate and the environment in northern Ontario are very harsh on our infrastructure, and it breaks down.

We were very concerned the other day when the government announced that basically the water fund tap was turned off by the government of Ontario. This is the first time in 40 years that the provincial funding tap is about to run dry, according to officials up there.

The Ontario municipal assistance program, commonly referred to as MAP, which provided funding to municipalities for local sewer and water projects, ended March 31, last month. The multimillion-dollar program had ensured adequate supplies of safe drinking water and effective waste-water management across Ontario since 1956. This program has been cut off, and it's going to have a horrific effect on small municipalities in Ontario which struggle with a very poor tax base, which don't have the very high commercial and industrial local assessments that many larger municipalities do both in the north and in southern Ontario.

We in the north, more so than many large municipalities, depend on these provincial grants. We are very afraid as to what the outcome is going to be with programs such as MAP being cancelled. How are we going to renew our infrastructure in our northern communities? It is a big concern with our officials. I'll be working with Mayor Joe Mavrinac on that in the future.

Another area that's a big concern to us in northern municipalities is the cut in health care. The Tory government, as the Tory party in the election, had promised that health care would not be cut. But now that the government is in place we are seeing cuts in health care. Our hospitals have suffered a horrendous cut in their budgets. We have nurses in all three hospitals in Timiskaming being laid off; other workers at the hospitals being laid off. I spoke to one of the business managers the other day of the Temiskaming Hospital in New Liskeard and he said more layoffs were due in the fall in New Liskeard.


In fact, the other day I was speaking to my daughter who attends Queen's University. She has many friends in the nursing program there and she was saying that many of her friends who are graduating from nursing in Queen's University -- and I'm sure this is consistent also with many of the universities in Ontario right now -- are contemplating, and many have made concrete plans, to relocate to the United States. The nursing jobs, just as teaching jobs, are not there right now and we're losing our young people. It's reminiscent of the old days when we used to have a real brain drain problem to the United States. This seems to be exacerbated right now through the cuts of this government. It's a shame to see our young people being forced to move to other jurisdictions such as the United States to find a livelihood.

Our whole health care system in Ontario is under crisis. I ask the government, and especially the Minister of Health, to start to reconsider and make some rational plans as to how we are to build and design an efficient health care system for Ontario.

I refer to the lack of teaching positions in Ontario and all the teachers who have been laid off over the last month, as they, in their collective agreements, have to have good advance notice if they are to be rehired next year by the boards of education.

Here's a clipping from the Northern Daily News headlined, "Cobalt Campus of the Timiskaming District Secondary School System has been Mothballed." So we've lost a high school campus. What's of specific concern to me about the Cobalt campus of TDSS is that it was totally dedicated to adult education.

When, eight years ago now, we lost our two open-pit iron ore pellet mines in Temagami and Kirkland Lake, we did an examination and a survey of the education levels of the people of the riding I represent. We found we had an inordinate number of undereducated workers in our riding. Possibly that was because of the tremendous job opportunities in the past. You could leave grade 8 or grade 9 or grade 10 in those days and get a very good, secure, high-paying job at one of our mines and mills, much like you could if you lived in Oshawa or Oakville or Windsor, going to one of the auto plants, as I did when I grew up in Oakville, to start.

Once those mines went down and we lost those 700 jobs throughout the whole Timiskaming area, those people found themselves without the skills and without some of the basic education they needed to pick up some of the new skills of the modern workforce of the 1990s. So the Timiskaming Board of Education converted the Cobalt high school that had been mothballed and reopened it as an adult education centre. But alas, it finds itself having to close that campus and cut 18 positions right out of that campus that was providing education to adults in the south area of my riding centred around Cobalt.

Again, it just frustrates me that the planning really hasn't gone into these cuts. When I see the damage that has been caused by these cuts to the individuals who no longer will have those services there, no longer will have that opportunity, and, may I say, maybe the hope of regaining some of those skills they need to pick themselves back up and get some of those jobs that are starting to come available in the 1990s, it's making it very difficult for them to cope. It's making it very difficult also for our communities to cope with these cuts.

It boils down to everything when Mr Palladini, the transportation minister, cuts down some of the subsidies to municipal bus services. Again, this is hurting not only municipal bus services, but also he's talked about the deregulation of busing in Ontario.

On the one hand, I believe in a free enterprise system and believe that whatever the private sector can do, it should be allowed to do and encouraged to do, and if they can do that, the government should stay out of it. On the other hand, we have regulation to bring some balance where the private sector, for whatever reason, can't or won't provide a service. Intercity busing is a good example where, if you have unprofitable routes, as many of us do in the north or in rural Ontario, it is very difficult to make sure those towns and cities are served. By deregulating bus services, many of the towns in my riding are not going to see a bus pull in there and stop. Many of the constituents I represent really depend upon bus travel, not only to see family or maybe to find new job opportunities, but in my area, with the lack of health care facilities, many people are forced to go to Sudbury, as a regional health care centre, or even to Toronto, and many use the bus to get to those services.

We are very concerned that deregulation may mean we will not get the bus service we have enjoyed in the past to stop in places like Cobalt and Haileybury and New Liskeard and up through Englehart into some of the smaller communities along the way, and up into Kirkland Lake that is 15 miles off Highway 11. These are big concerns for us also.

All our school boards are facing job cuts, all our boards are suffering the same. The separate board in Timiskaming, which is a combined board from the old New Liskeard separate school board and the Kirkland Lake school board, is suffering those cuts. They came together a few years ago and amalgamated to find efficiencies. It's a very good example of where two boards have come together on their own to find some efficiencies. They're working very well together now as one board. They have found many efficiencies. But yet more cuts are coming and they're going to be forced to keep cutting. That means less jobs. It also means less choice and opportunities for our children in the classroom.

One of the biggest pieces of news that came out of the cuts of last week that affected, not only Ontario right across the board but particularly my riding, was the devastating cuts to the Ministry of Natural Resources. Of the 4,600 people who are currently, as of this week, employed with the Ministry of Natural Resources, over 2,100 people in two years will find themselves out in the street. This is going to have a devastating effect on the stewardship of our resources in southern Ontario and northern Ontario.

In my riding of Timiskaming, three satellite offices are being closed in the Kirkland Lake district. People who find themselves in a surplus position but maybe will have bumping rights -- they're still going to have to find this out in the next two weeks so there's lots of uncertainty there as the government grapples with the new wording in the new collective agreement -- some of them are going to have to move or are going to have to commute from the communities they were at to the Swastika office outside of Kirkland Lake. So there's a lot of uncertainty there.

Of course one of the major closures that's happened right across northern Ontario is the devastating closure of the forest fire bases in northern Ontario. Quite frankly, for the life of me, I cannot understand why all these fire bases are being closed. One of the greatest threats to our forest, the great boreal forest of northern Ontario, is man-made and naturally created fires. We know, and you all know, from the stories that happen by late summer, in July and August, in northern Ontario that we have incredible devastation from year to year in our northern forests. It's very important that the Ministry of Natural Resources have a very strong firefighting presence in northern Ontario, have the ability to react quickly to lightning strikes and the ability to spot fires that are getting away from camp fires and other bush operations.

Many times it is necessary to have fires in the bush area when there are different bush operations going on, or fires sometimes happen from sparks from bush machinery that is operating in northern Ontario. So that industry can flourish and do its job, especially during very dry times when the Ministry of Natural Resources will cease forest operations -- men and women have to be laid off temporarily because of that -- it's very important that we have a strong firefighting presence in northern Ontario.

I don't have the list with me right now, but there is a significant number of fire bases that are going to be closed right across northern Ontario, some also into southern Ontario. We very much worry about the firefighting capability of this reduced fire base operation now in northern Ontario. We just have to hope and pray for a wet season, a season that is not too dry and not too windy in northern Ontario so we do not suffer the losses we could really suffer.

The town of Temagami has been very strongly hit by the MNR closing, as it lost its office entirely. The whole Temagami district office has been shut down. That's a loss of 50 jobs to that community. Most of the people working in the Temagami office lived in Temagami. Those jobs, ironically enough, are going to be moved to the Premier's riding. North Bay seems to be benefiting from the job cuts happening in my riding. It is sad to see that, especially when Temagami has been such a strong focal point of forest management, of forest management conflicts between the different groups that use the forests in northern Ontario.


It's very important that the government maintain a natural resources ministry presence in the township of Temagami. Reeve Wayne Adair is very concerned about this, and I support him in his shock and concern that this office is being pulled out of the town of Temagami. At one time we probably had 200 people in the Ministry of Natural Resources working in Temagami to try to deal with the forestry issue conflicts that have happened there.

I understand the Minister of Natural Resources will be releasing tomorrow a community-driven paper of the comprehensive planning committee outlining what the community has decided as to the future use of the forests in Temagami. We certainly await the outcome of that and will await after that the minister's response to that paper. I certainly would ask the minister today to give that paper a good reading over and to also make sure that he consults again with the people of Timiskaming before he makes decisions as to the future of the Temagami forest.

The 2,000 people who have been cut from the ministry right across the province -- it's going to have a devastating impact, and while we don't have the exact numbers of the MNR job losses in the riding of Timiskaming, we just know from three offices being closed that it's going to be massive. We support the local officials who are going to be working with the government to try to hold that off.

When you look at the total job figure of 10,600 jobs that were cut last Thursday by the Conservative government, many of my friends and colleagues from the government side will say, "Well, you had campaigned on a very similar type of platform; you also agreed that government had to be smaller, that government had to be more efficient," and yes, you're right. I agree with the general direction that, like the private sector has over the last 10 years, we have to work to make sure that our operation here that we're responsible for in allocating the tax dollars that we collect from the people of Ontario is the most efficient and most cost-effective that money can buy.

What we had planned, though, was that we could downsize just about to the very same scale that you wanted to do, but we wanted to do it though natural attrition. We felt we could do that in five years, with the number just about 1,000 less than you had campaigned on in the Common Sense Revolution. We said that instead of 13,000 people, we could downsize the Ontario public service by 12,000 people in a four-year term of government through attrition.

I want to tell you the difference about this and why it's important, because it's in ridings such as mine where it's really going to be felt. When you immediately, in the next two years, take 10,600 family salaries off the market of Ontario, you can have a profound impact upon small communities right across the province. But not only do you have a profound impact on certain communities, some of the ones that I represent, you have an accumulative impact on the total province of Ontario.

If you had worked through attrition, you would have people who would then naturally be moving on to other jobs or who would be retiring. Instead of depriving them of the paycheque, they would be picking up a pension cheque. They would still be viable financially; they would still have an income; they would be naturally taking their pension, and we all know that the Ontario public service has a pretty good pension. Those people who obviously would be ready for retirement, past their middle years, would not have the tremendous consumer demands that young growing families have and would be able to survive on a pension cheque. The loss of that paycheque wouldn't have such a direct impact to the economy because there would be basically another cheque just about totally replacing that. They could subsist on that, and the economy of Ontario would move along.

But when you so quickly take out those 10,600 paycheques from the Ontario economy, I really worry about the car dealerships in my town, the fast-food restaurants, the hardware stores, all the small businesses in Kirkland Lake and the Tri-town area, and all through the towns of my riding. That will have a tremendous impact on the riding of Timiskaming, on northern Ontario and right across this province.

While we may have many arguments about some of the things that you're doing and some of the direction, on downsizing the government I would say to you, let's take our time; let's be a little more rational about how we do it; let's slow down. That means maybe you won't be meeting your financial targets as quickly as you want to, but you could balance that budget in four years if you really wanted to. You know the way to do that is to forgo that tax cut.

Today it takes a brave politician to stand in his or her place and say, "Maybe we shouldn't be cutting taxes for people," but I would say to you that with the present financial situation we find ourselves in, I don't think we're in a viable position to hand money out to people, especially when we're handing out money that we are going to be forced to borrow. As you know, that's the fact.

When the Treasurer stands in his place in a couple of weeks and announces what the projected deficit is going to be, I dare to guess it's going to be somewhere between $7 billion and $8 billion. A Tory government is going to have a $7-billion to $8-billion deficit, you're going to continue to have that, it's going to be downsized over the next few years but you're going to accumulate another $20 billion of debt in the life of your government. You're going to have to compound the interest, the carrying charges you pay on the additional money that you're going to be borrowing, besides the money you've inherited as debt from the former governments of the past, all of them. Why would you be borrowing, accumulating more debt and paying more interest, as we're now up to about 20 cents on the dollar in interest charges in Ontario and going to borrow another $20 billion of those dollars to pay 20 cents on the dollar again on 20 new billion dollars? I don't know why you'd be doing that. I don't know why you're putting us into more debt.

I'll tell you what I'd do if you said, "What would you do if you were in the same situation?" I'd take the downsizing of the Ontario government a little more slowly. I would say, "We will balance the budget before the end of our current term, and to do that we're going to forgo that tax cut because we think it's irresponsible to borrow money to hand it out." Believe me, if you start to do it in the same reverse ratio of our progressive tax system, as you all know, the top 10% of the income earners are going to receive 50% of that tax cut.

You and I might disagree -- I see one of the members laughing -- but that's the fact. I would hope you don't do it that way and that if you are to bring in some sort of tax cut measure, if you want some stimulus effect of a tax cut, at least look at the low-income earners and say maybe, as we had proposed during the election, you would bring in a very modest tax cut but target with a stimulating effect. The way to do that is to look at the low-income earners and give them a break. Take some of the low-income earners off the tax rolls, because the money you have saved them won't stay in their pockets. They're going to go out and spend on some of the basics that we do produce here in Ontario: basic automobiles, basic appliances, basic home repairs that would have a stimulating effect on the Ontario economy.

If you give the tax cut in the proportion that our Ontario progressive tax system is based on and, as you know, the top 10% of earners are going to get 50% of it and a lot of those people up there don't need that extra money, we're very concerned where that money is going to go. A lot of it, most of it will be discretionary income. While some of it could be invested in the Ontario economy and that would be a good thing, a lot of it may even go to other amenities that are offshore, and we won't see the benefits of that money.

We're going to go offshore, to begin with, to borrow money from the main European banks, some of the Asian banks and some of the American banks to finance this tax cut, and ironically enough, in the end some of that money that comes to some very well-off Ontarians may end up back in Asian mutual funds, maybe in some offshore banking in the Caribbean and maybe in some luxury car purchases. In the end, it may just be a wonderful cyclical effect that the money is going to be borrowed overseas and end up right back overseas, so these other nations might be the real winners in this.

I would say to you, forgo it. Take your time --

Mr Steve Gilchrist (Scarborough East): You'd be returning yours?

Mr Ramsay: Yes, I would forgo the tax cut, and I'm saying let's do it for everybody. We should forgo it because we should be paying our fair share of taxes. If you're earning $78,000, you should be paying taxes on every dollar. I thank you for that, because that's what we should be doing.


I'd say to the people of Ontario: Let's continue to pay our taxes. Let's don't raise them, but let's freeze them in place. Let's try to get the finances of the Ontario government into a healthy position so that we can attract business, so that we can look an exciting economic jurisdiction, because I think we can be one of the leading economic engines of this world if we put our minds to it.

The way to do that is to send a very strong signal that we're responsible for our finances here in this province, that we've had a debt and all three parties have been responsible for that over the years. We've all contributed to it. You're in charge of it now, and I'm saying to you: Let's don't build up further on it. Let's grab a hold of it and say: "No tax cut. We won't borrow for taxes." If you have to borrow to finance some essential services, we would have to be open to that, and if that's what we have to do, we'd even support you on that. But let's don't borrow for a tax cut, especially when the majority of that money, over 50% of it, is going to go to bank presidents and other top income earners in the province.

I don't know how I'll go home and explain after this budget that some of this tax cut's coming. Maybe only 8 or 8.5 points of this tax cut's going to come in this budget -- I'm not sure yet -- but some of it's going to come, and maybe it's only going to kick in in July of this year -- we'll see what the Treasurer has in mind -- but the greatest return of that is going to go to those high-income earners. It's going to be very difficult for me to explain that. Thank goodness I don't have to defend it, but I will have to explain it, and the people whom I represent in the riding of Timiskaming are going to be asking me why the government of Ontario is borrowing money, primarily from overseas accounts, to finance a tax cut for people who really don't need it when we are in bad financial shape.

My business sense always tells me that you can pay out a dividend to shareholders once you make a profit. In government terms, we're not making a profit now. We're in a terrible debt situation. We cannot afford a tax cut at this time. What we can afford, though, is to send a very strong signal to the people of Ontario and to businesses around the world that we won't change the tax structure here. We're not going to raise it; we're going to freeze it. We're going to work at responsible reduction of our financial situation in Ontario so that we will be a low-cost jurisdiction. Our welcome sign to business is, "Open," and up here in Ontario we want job creation. I'd ask the government to heed these words.

The Acting Speaker: Questions or comments?

Mr Jack Carroll (Chatham-Kent): I feel obligated to make a short comment --

Mrs Marion Boyd (London Centre): To break the agreement.

The Acting Speaker: Order, please. Go ahead.

Mr Carroll: Did we have an agreement? Anyway, I will just make a short comment on the point made by the member for Timiskaming about why didn't we do it the way they had suggested, where we allow the cuts to the civil service to happen through attrition and where we delay the tax cut or make it a smaller tax cut and do it the way they had proposed during the election. I say to the member for Timiskaming that you suggested that to the people of Ontario during the election and we suggested our plan to the people of Ontario during the election, and interestingly enough, the people of Ontario chose our plan. I think we now have an obligation to give to the people of Ontario what they chose during the election, and that is the Conservative plan rather than the plan put forward by your party. I think at this point in time we really are obligated to deliver what we promised and what the people of Ontario chose.

The Acting Speaker: Further questions or comments? Would the member for Timiskaming like to sum up?

Mr Ramsay: Just quickly. I thank the member for his interjection there. You bring a very good point: You won and we lost. That's the point of your argument and you're correct. Because of the present situation of the economy of Ontario, that it's not as buoyant as we would all hope, and the severe economic impact I think we're finding with these job losses in the public sector and the tremendous drag that's going to have on the economy, I would ask you today to reconsider that position.

Mr Len Wood (Cochrane North): I want to take 10 or 15 minutes today to make some comments on how the Tory government is devastating some of the communities and towns in my riding with the announcements that came out last week. I met with David Hughes, the mayor of Cochrane. It's completely devastating to see what the Minister of Northern Development and Mines and the Minister of Natural Resources has done to that community -- done it all with a fax letter sent to them at the same time as the Deputy Premier and the Minister of Finance was making the announcement here last Thursday. He sent a fax saying it's unfortunate that 30 to 40 jobs are going to be moved out of that community. The end result is that you're going to end up with all kinds of empty houses. It's going to affect the stores, the education system, the health care system. For a small town of 4,500 people to get this kind of news with a fax letter, where the minister doesn't even have the courtesy to answer the phone -- since Thursday at 2 o'clock, he's refused to answer the phone to that particular community.

I might point out that Cochrane is not the only community having a rough time. Every community I represent -- and it's a huge area. The member for Timiskaming is saying that he has an area of 180 miles. I wish I only had 180 miles to travel on Highway 11 representing my area, because it takes in from Iroquois Falls to about 30 miles west of Hearst, which is about 250 miles, and it also goes up the coast from Moosonee, Moose Factory, up the Hudson Bay coast to Peawanuck. It's a huge riding to represent, and with the announcements being made last week and the week before during question period, I was saying why would the Ontario government agree to a tax increase, a 15% export tax increase, on softwood lumber exports going to the States?

All the campaigning I heard during the election campaign was, "We're going to reduce taxes and we're going to give a 30% tax cut," which I don't agree with, but on top of that we're finding out now that they're going to increase taxes on softwood lumber exported to the States. They're going to hurt the lumber industry. They're going throw thousands of people out of jobs.

They've also gone into increasing user fees. Instead of calling Mike the Taxfighter, now we can call him the Taxhiker, because we've seen user fees being increased in almost everything that is being done: about $13 million, I understand, on just one announcement.

With the extra revenue coming into the province of Ontario from the softwood lumber, and you relate that right across northern Canada, you're talking about $175 million, and Ontario's going to get their share. This is all going to be gathered into a pot and used to give a tax break to the wealthy people in Ontario, mostly in southern Ontario. The wealthy people on Bay Street, the lawyers, the doctors that are making the big incomes are going to benefit from the tax cut. Northern Ontario is not going to.

All of the announcements as far as restructuring and cutting, whether it's the Minister of Natural Resources cutting I believe it's $45.9 million in forestry, giving it back to the large companies that are supposed to manage the forest from now on -- we know that they didn't do it in the past and they won't do it in the future. The government has to be involved.

You talk about taking 20 MNR offices and fire stations and closing them down. It's just devastating for these towns and communities when there is no line of communication opening up. The decisions are all being made by a few people in the Premier's office. I believe they're even ignoring the Minister of Northern Development and Mines and not consulting him. I believe he's just getting a paper and: "Here, sign it on the bottom. We'll fax this out to all the northern communities and it'll be done."

The people in northern Ontario are not accepting that. They've been lobbying me. I've met with some of the people last Thursday and again on Friday. The media stories that are coming out are saying that it's a disgrace, it's shameful to do all of this cutting, slashing and burning with no respect for the resources that have built Ontario to what we have today.

I just want to go through some of the fire stations that the Tories have announced they're going to cut: Armstrong, Blind River, Elk Lake, Elk Lake fire base, Englehart, Gogama, Hornepayne work centre, Hornepayne fire station, Ignace, Kapuskasing fire base, Kirkland Lake, Manitouwadge, Matheson, Nipigon, Pickle Lake, Sundridge, Temagami district office, Temagami fire base, White River work station. All of these announcements that were made, these are all small towns, and most of these are single-industry towns. To lose one or two jobs is devastating for a lot of these communities. For a sawmill that shuts down, the spinoff effect is the equivalent of four-and-a-half jobs that are lost throughout the community. So when we add that up in the community of Cochrane, with a base of 4,500 people, imagine what the mayor and town council are going to have to do now to be able to gain back that $2 million that they're losing in resources that are coming in through taxes and through people spending money in the community, and the kids that they're going to have to pull out of the schools and take to other communities or take them out on the streets, as some of the families have had to do in Toronto, put them in sleeping bags out on the streets.


It's devastating what is happening up there, and nobody seems to be concerned a single bit. They just get their marching orders from the Premier's office or from the Deputy Premier -- they're the only two people who were elected from northern Ontario, and we're quite fortunate that that's all there was. They just have no respect whatsoever, and the Minister of Northern Development and Mines -- it's an arrogant position that he has taken and it's a disgrace to all the people of northern Ontario to find out that they elected a Conservative government and all the decisions are being centred around one or two people dictating what's going to happen.

It's going to get worse. Northern development and mines -- we don't have very many staff in northern Ontario, but when you realize that they're going to get rid of, I believe it's 126 people from northern development and mines in northern Ontario, it means that northern development and mines offices are going to close. They're going to completely devastate the office in Sudbury. Over the next year and a half they'll get rid of 90 staff out of that office. There's no end; people can't see an end to what is going to happen.

I can go in to the education system. I've talked to teachers; as a matter of fact, I have some family members who are teaching, and they're saying, with just the announcements that were made between four and five or six school boards in southern Ontario, and northern boards are making the announcements now, you're not going to have an education system. You're going to lay off all the junior teachers, 10,000, 15,000, 20,000 -- whichever side Mike Harris gets out of bed on in the morning, that's the numbers they're going to throw out. You're going to end up with the complete destruction of the education system. You're going to have what they call, teachers are telling me, crowd control. That's all you're going to have. You're not going to have an education system left. That's a spinoff effect right through the whole province. As I said, once again it's more devastating in northern Ontario. Just in one school board in Kapuskasing, there are 22 teachers who will lose their jobs. In the other one, I believe there are five or six who will lose their jobs.

In communities that are less than 10,000 people, if you take the spinoff effect, 10 means 50 jobs. Corner stores will have to close and other stores will have to downsize and lay off the people, and a lot of them will have to close because they are small, family-run businesses where you have a man and a woman and sometimes one of the children helps them out in the business. They're not big stores.

It's not a good day. I would rather be up here giving praise to some of the things the government is doing, but over the last 10 months there is no praise we can give to what is going on. They're completely devastating, with no respect for anything.

Transportation: Last year in September, we said we were getting close to wintertime and it wasn't a good time to make an announcement that you were going to lay off 125 seasonal and part-time workers for the winter maintenance program, that as a result you were going to have people lose their lives on the highways. It happened over the wintertime. We were begging and pleading with them not to do it at that time. Now we find out they're going even one step further. They're going to eliminate almost all the construction in northern Ontario over the next two years in terms of highways.

I put all the blame right on the doorstep of the Minister of Northern Development and Mines because he is not standing up and fighting. I don't even believe he has a say in cabinet, if he attends cabinet meetings. The results we're getting in northern Ontario are that he is not speaking up for the north.

The Acting Speaker: There's a little bit too much noise coming from the government benches. Could you please keep your conversations down a little? Thank you.

Mr Len Wood: Thank you very much, Madam Speaker. I appreciate you intervening, because I don't like to see the laughing and joking that's going on about the devastation of northern Ontario as we're speaking and trying to represent the areas.

I'll go back to MNR. The fire station in Kapuskasing is going to be closed. Last year we saw communities that had to be evacuated because fires got out of control. This government is saying now: "We don't care. We're not going to fight the fires and we're not going to be able to evacuate the communities." They are putting lives at risk. There are people at risk in northern Ontario.

In some communities the fire season might not start for another two months, but in other areas in northwestern Ontario, the end of April, the beginning of May is the fire season and it could go on for a couple of months. The danger is that people could lose their lives, maybe not from the fire but from the smoke if they can't get away from it. These communities don't have roads and have to be evacuated by airplane, and both the ministries involved in doing this, the northern development and mines and natural resources, are cutting and slashing and laying off all the staff, with no respect for the people who live in northern Ontario.

To some people, Kapuskasing might seem like a remote northern Ontario community, but if you look at a map, it is right in the geographic centre of Ontario, with miles and miles and miles that have to be travelled before you end up at the Manitoba border. It's not remote to me. I enjoy living up there, but we need a government that will take the responsibility and say: "We're going to protect the families that are living up there by choice. We're going to make sure they have good health care. We're going make sure they have a good education system and a transportation system and a good road system." But this government, in the announcements it has made over the last number of weeks and in the 10 months it's been in government, has devastated every piece of assurance people had.

We had an excellent airline that was in business for over 25 years: norOntair. It did a good job of transporting people in and out of these communities and people were happy with it; you had a comfortable Dash-8 service. Now we have communities with smaller planes and other communities where the government has said, "We thought the private sector was going to go in and look after this, but seeing as the private sector won't do it, we're going to try to work out a contract with somebody else to do it." In the event, they'll end up using Ministry of Natural Resources airplanes to fly into Chapleau, Gore Bay and Hornepayne, because the private sector is not going to go into the areas where there's not a dollar to be made.


The Minister of Transportation says: "We have to do something for our friends that paid so much money to help us get elected, all our Tory members that got elected, so we're going to deregulate the bus industry. We'll let them cherry-pick the spots where they can make money, and for the other smaller communities, well, the buses will just drive by and that's it. But we know we're going to get rewarded, or already have got rewarded, in their financial support to get elected."

There have got to be reasons for this, because no human being, whether a Liberal or a Conservative, would want to put that much pain and suffering on people in northern Ontario. So there have got to be reasons for it. Some of the reasons, I guess, are when you get into the 30% tax cut that is coming. If somebody is making $10,000 a year compared to somebody that's making $200,000 a year, the tax cut to them is a lot greater and they're going to benefit from it.

People have been telling me over the last couple of weeks, "It doesn't make any sense for me or my neighbour to be sitting there and looking forward and excited over a tax cut that's coming if half of the other neighbours on the same street lose their job from MNR, they lose their job from teaching, they lose their job from the hospital, they lose their job from any of the other ministries that are being cut."

Actually, they're being fired, because there is not going to be a fair system of redistribution of the employees. They're going to go to the bottom line and fire the bottom 20,000 or 15,000 or whatever it is. That's only within the government sector. Then all of the other broader public sector jobs, they're going to lose people as well. With the billions of dollars they're taking out of the health care system, the estimations are that the layoffs could end up being as much as 125,000 people over 18 months or 24 months.

There are not going to be any jobs that are going to be created as a result of promising, "Well, the 100,000 or 200,000 people that are depending on government jobs, we'll throw them out of work, and the 30% tax break will create the jobs." It will not. Most of the people say, "I'm going to invest" or "I'm going to buy a house in Florida" or "I'm going to take an extra trip that I couldn't take before." But as a jewellery store owner with one or two employees, do you think I'm going to reinvest that money back into my business? I'm going to enjoy life and I'm going to build for my retirement.

So where the jobs are going to be created, I'm not sure. A lot of other people that are writing stories for the newspapers are convinced that to go out and borrow $20 billion or $25 billion to give a 30% tax break to the wealthy people in Ontario and say that it's going to create jobs, it's not going to do it; it's going to add to the debt in the province of Ontario. Then when the NDP government gets re-elected again in 1999, we're going to have to deal with a bigger debt than what we ever had before. In the 42 years of Conservatives before, each and every year they ran a deficit and they ran a debt. They left the Liberal government with a fair-sized debt when they were thrown out of government in 1985. It sounds like in 1999, when they're thrown out of government again, they're going to have left another huge debt that the NDP government is going to have to work at to try to bring down at the same time that we'll try to create jobs within this province.

I'm pleased that I had this opportunity to speak briefly on the motion for interim supply.

Mr Frank Sheehan (Lincoln): It gives me a great deal of pleasure to rise and talk about a subject of great interest to me and utmost importance to the people of Ontario. The Red-Tape Review Commission forms an integral part of the government's agenda. You might say it's the third leg of the government's economic plan to cut taxes, cut spending and cut the size of government and the impact it has on the people of Ontario.

I was very fortunate to be named chairman of that commission in the financial statement in November. Other members of the commission are Marcel Beaubien from Lambton, John O'Toole from Durham East, James Brown from Scarborough West, John Hastings from Etobicoke-Rexdale, Barb Fisher from Bruce, Joe Spina from Brampton and Tim Hudak from Niagara South. We're supported by a dedicated but small and able secretariat and an advisory committee of experts from business and the professional community.

Interjection: Working free of charge.

Mr Sheehan: Oh, yes. I've just been reminded that we work free of charge. There's no extra emolument for being on this commission.

Mr Christopherson: You get $78,000 a year --

Mr Sheehan: If you're on a committee, you get more for attending a committee or --


The Acting Chair: Order, please. Direct your comments to the Chair.

Mr Sheehan: Not any more? Okay. Our intentions were pure.

Since November, we've been working on researching other areas that have attacked this plan and we've been designing a plan to attack this monolith which is our regulatory environment. We've met with over 100 associations, business people and institutions, and we're determining what their problems and solutions and priorities are. We'll continue to meet with any interested group.

Our short-term goal is to eliminate the regulations that are on the books now. The long-term is to achieve a cultural change among politicians and bureaucrats and the citizens of Ontario that more government is always best. We want to develop a process by which the benefits of regulations will be measured against the social and economic costs.

It may be of interest to know that no one has ever counted or enumerated the number of regulations that we contend with. No one knows how many licences, procedures, operation manuals, certificates etc we must live with. We are compiling that inventory now. It might be of interest that in 1992 they determined that there were 43,000 different forms, which cost us over $21 million to print and over $1.5 million just to circulate.

California had a study done, and it was determined that excessive regulations are the single largest inhibitor of investment. Red tape increases the size and cost of government. It wastes taxpayers' time and money, and it drives up the price and drives out jobs.

Analysts for the Canadian Manufacturers' Association have pointed out a Stats Canada study which points out that it costs Canadian manufacturers almost $48 billion to comply with regulations. It's estimated that $20 billion is Ontario's portion of that. If you divide that, 10% of that would be $2 billion, and if you divided that by the average industrial wage of $35,000, you're talking about almost 55,000 jobs represented in that number.

There are some other bizarre examples of regulations. We just recently cancelled a regulation that required 400 hours to learn how to be a projectionist in a movie theatre, but the armed forces only take 400 hours to teach you how to fly a jet. In the nursing home business there is a prescription that says twice a day you shall give to the residents so many cc's of a certain mouthwash containing no less than so many parts per million of a certain chemical. I think we're getting a little bit overprescriptive.

It would be interesting to tackle one problem and just kill it, but if we did one a day, it would be 365. Most years we pass between 800 and 1,000 new or replacement regulations. Funnily enough, the overall number doesn't seem to exceed 4,500. It's like fighting the Greek mythical Hydra. Every time you chop off a head, you end up with two, and you just keep going.


Most of the ministries have significant and important undertakings in this area and are trying to reduce the red tape in their respective ministries. Our job, in addition to spearheading the cancellation of these regulations, is to help them eliminate, consolidate and move to self-regulation wherever possible. The most significant aspect of the job will be to design what I call a knot-hole through which government people must pass their regulation if it's to get on to the books.

The Acting Speaker: Order, please. There's too much noise in the Legislature.

Mr Sheehan: We'll want to know, is the regulation really necessary, what is the cost of implementing the regulation, what is the cost of the institutions' or the businesses' compliance, and what is the benefit to be derived by the community. If they can't pass that, I don't think the taxpayers and the job creators should have to pay that bill.

Regulation is how legislation hits the road. That's where it gets applied. This government doesn't have any problem preserving high standards in the environment, in health and in safety, and we have an unequivocal commitment to preserve these standards. However, we don't want to be in the business of regulating and monitoring every aspect of life. We believe you must set high standards, make those standards be well known, and set penalties high enough so that they serve as a deterrent. We think self-regulation is a very acceptable process. People don't object to good rules.

We have to restate, I think, the importance of personal responsibility. Governments just have to stop trying to be all things to all people at all times. Red tape, we think, kills jobs, stifles creativity, discourages investment and reduces innovation. One example from the home builders' association identified that $1,000 of additional regulatory cost effectively moves 16,700 households below the threshold for affording houses. That translates to about 3,000 additional families that won't buy a house in a year.

Removing barriers to job creation is a top priority of the Premier, the cabinet and this government. Our commission is honoured to be part of this. We have a one-year mandate. The job is expected to be done, and we're told that it can be done.

To conclude, by removing barriers to job creation, we are helping to build a positive business climate, one that encourages new investment and business expansion, and a welcome opportunity for economic growth and job creation. By using common sense, we continue to protect public safety and the quality of life. Cutting red tape is a big part of our government's plan to bring hope, opportunity and jobs back to Ontario. This is a good news story and it's worthy of all-party support. I thank you for the time.

Mr Joseph Cordiano (Lawrence): I'm delighted to join this debate on interim supply. In the absence of my colleagues, though I'm sure they're tuned into their television sets, I want to relate to the members opposite and anyone who is listening -- and I want to go back to a time in Ontario, my grandfather's day. My grandfather came to this province, came to this country --

Mr Wayne Wettlaufer (Kitchener): When the PCs were in power.

Mr Cordiano: You're right -- following the Second World War, like so many other people who came from around the world. He saw in Ontario a land of opportunity, a land filled with tremendous hope for the future and tremendous promise of a future. Like so many other people, he worked very hard to build a business and he taught the rest of us that only through hard work could you succeed. Of course, my grandfather was important and special to me. I relate this because my dad passed away when I was a young boy, but my grandfather passed on his wisdom to me about what was important. My grandfather was a small-l liberal and a big-L Liberal, but the one fault he had was that he was very loyal to his friends even if they were in the wrong party. I'm going to make an admission, speaking to the member who commented earlier: My grandfather helped one of his friends who happened to be a good Progressive Conservative back in his day, the Honourable John Yaremko, and yes, he was a good Progressive Conservative, and I stress the word "Progressive." In those days the Conservative Party was still progressive. No longer. But I relate that to you because the other important thing that my grandfather taught me was that in every aspect of our lives, whether it was in communities, whether it was in business, or in politics, people made all the difference. It was people, good people, who made things happen. And when we forget about people in politics, then I believe we risk becoming irrelevant. That's what I think is happening to this government. They are forgetting about people.

No one will argue with the need to balance our budget. No one will argue that we have to make government more accountable and more efficient. These are all good things. We all aspire to that. Everyone in this House would not argue with the need to balance our budget, but I do not believe that we can cut our way back to prosperity, just as I did not believe we could spend our way back.

At a time when corporations announce record profits and then turn around and continue to downsize, far too many hardworking people in this province are beginning to lose what little confidence they had left. For far too many people, Ontario has become virtually futureless. All across this province I've talked to students who've said to me: "Why should I bother continuing with my education? When I graduate there isn't going to be a job." I've talked to 50-year-olds who've lost their jobs and are being told, "Don't bother re-entering the workforce; you're too old; you won't find a job," and hardworking people who have jobs and fear they may be the next to lose their jobs, their benefits and their families' security. We have to meet these challenges head-on, and I say that because I do not believe this government clearly understands that in any way.

I want to deal with the agenda that this government has put forward and the myths surrounding that agenda. I want to talk about the myths that have been perpetrated by this government, about their agenda, and how they claim this will restore prosperity to Ontario, how this will once again make us a prosperous province. They're going to cut their way back to prosperity.

Let's deal with that for a moment. Let's just deal with the first myth, which says, "We must eliminate the deficit as quickly as possible because that will create a climate for investment and growth and job creation." I've heard many a backbencher on the government side say, "Well, it's costing us $1 million an hour to keep paying for that deficit, so it's urgent that we cut the deficit, balance the books, immediately." Well then, I ask the government, why is it that you're going to accumulate an additional $20 billion of debt over the next four years? Why is that? If it was so important to balance the budget in a quick period of time, as quickly as possible, then why not do that? Why not balance the books, if that's what you were after and if that would lead to prosperity? That's a myth. That's a myth that's being perpetrated.

Myth number 2: "There's only one taxpayer, and that taxpayer pays out of the same pocket." Again I say to the government, yes, we know there's one taxpayer, but at the same time that you claim you're going to cut taxes, and I believe you will bring about that income tax cut and will keep your commitment, you're increasing user fees of all kinds. You're increasing user fees for even accessing libraries; you're increasing user fees in the health care field, for drug benefits; you're increasing user fees at the municipal level indirectly, where municipalities will be forced to implement those user fees.


That taxpayer, that mythical one taxpayer, will be faced with an additional burden which does not relieve the taxpayer of that burden of user fees. Call it what you will -- user fees -- don't call it a tax, but it is money coming out of that one taxpayer's pocket, which means there's less money for purchasing other things, less money to spend on consumer goods, which according to your agenda would drive forward the economy and permit job creation.

Myth number 3: We will set priorities. You said in the last election campaign that you would not touch health care, that you would not touch education, that you would not touch law enforcement, that you would not cut agriculture spending. Those were solemn commitments you made in the last election campaign, that you would not cut the funding in those areas. What did we see over the last number of days and in the economic statement of November 1995? We saw cuts to all those areas.

We saw cuts in transfer payments to municipalities, which thus created a situation where municipalities were forced to cut their law enforcement budgets, were perhaps forced to lay off police officers, were forced to make all kinds of cuts in that area. Solemn commitments were made by this government during the last election campaign not to do that. They've gone back on their commitments.

Mr Len Wood: Some people seem to be lying.

Mr Cordiano: I won't use such strong language, but they certainly did not keep to their word; they did not do that. They have made cuts in the hundreds of millions of dollars, in the billions of dollars, and in those areas -- let's deal with education for a moment: $800 million has been taken out of the budget for education. That will seriously impact the classroom. That will seriously impact the dropout rate.

I asked the Minister of Education in the estimates committee: "Will you be held accountable, will you be held responsible for those cuts? Will you be held accountable if in fact classroom sizes increase?" They certainly will under the recipe that's been prescribed by this government. Those education cuts will have an impact in every community across this province. All the parents of this province are concerned about their children's education and they have a right to be, because classroom sizes will go up. The dropout rate will be affected, in the wrong direction.

I defy the minister to make the case that this will not be the consequence of his actions. It is certainly going to be. It is certainly to lead to higher numbers of dropouts, to a greater increase in class sizes. There is no question of that. You cannot take $800 million out of the budget in education and tell us in this House that this will not affect education, that this will not affect classroom sizes, that this will not impact on students right across the province.

What else do we have in terms of education costs that are hidden, costs that are direct? Tuition fees at our colleges and our universities will be increasing to the tune of some 20% each and every year for the next number of years. That's what this government has done. What will that do? What impact will that have on people of modest incomes across this province? They will no longer be able to send their children off to university or college because they may not be able to afford it, and thousands upon thousands of students will be faced with the prospect of even greater loans they have to take out to pay for those tuition fees.

The government says, "If you want it, you're going to have to pay for it." That's the world we live in. That's the new Ontario. That is the hard, cold face of this government. This Conservative government is saying: "If you want it, you have to pay for it. If you can't afford it, we'll let somebody else worry about that, because we can't afford it any more."

There's no option. There's no discussing that with this government. There's no provision for hardworking people to ensure their kids will have a better tomorrow, to ensure they can improve themselves through education. We've always believed that. We've always made progress in this country and in this province because we believed in a public education system. We believed that was the way to success, that was the way to improving your chances to succeed in our society.

When you take that away, you're taking away something so fundamental and so critical to people right across this province. You're not giving them any hope for the future: countless students; parents, who worry about their children's future. Those who have graduated and cannot find that first work experience can't even graduate now. Never mind graduating; they're certainly not going to find an Ontario that is growing in terms of opportunities for them.

The final myth that's being perpetrated by this government is that the tax cut they will bring about next month in the budget will lead to an enormous number of jobs being created. By its own accounting, 750,000 new jobs were promised by this government in the last election campaign -- 750,000 new jobs. That's what Mike Harris said in the last election campaign: "My tax cut will ensure that 750,000 new jobs will be created." I say to the government backbenchers: We'll see about that. The proof will be in the pudding. In the end, I guarantee you, trickle-down economics has failed elsewhere and it will fail in Ontario, because it's a tired, worn-out American notion about what works in the economy that's been proven to be wrong -- the importation of American Reaganomics, American economic initiatives that you're undertaking now.

What did I read the other day? In New Jersey, the same state from whence you took your Common Sense Revolution and imported it to Ontario, the very state, they have a terrible job creation record, one of the worst of all the 50 states across the United States. If that's a harbinger of things to come in Ontario, then I say to the backbenchers: Watch out because you're going to be scrambling in a few years to explain why it is that your great economic revolution that you've brought about in this province is failing to create those jobs for middle Ontario, for those young people who are looking at a bleak future and who see no future because there isn't the prospect of getting a job in their own field, their chosen field. When that fails, you're going to be scrambling in your ridings to try and explain that.

This government promised 750,000 new jobs over the course of its first administration. Let's not forget that, because that's the stimulus you're providing. I think it's important for all the people of this province to know that's the job creation program of this government, the tax cut which will result in a 30% reduction in the income tax rate in Ontario. That's what the sum total of your job creation initiatives amounts to.

I would just summarize and say -- just let me comment in final form -- that we will see, when this government brings forward its budget, that these myths that have been perpetrated on the people of this province, all these myths, will not come to pass. In fact, this government's economic agenda will not restore prosperity to Ontario in the way they have indicated.


Oh, for some people this will work very fine. For some people it will mean a tremendous gain. For some people in Ontario, they're going to be very satisfied. With the tax cut, they're going to be very satisfied. The friends of this government will benefit from the privatization that will be undertaken -- massive privatization. The friends of this government will benefit, yes, indeed. There will be those who will like the initiatives undertaken by this government.

Yes, you are very popular right now. There is no doubt of that. People say, "Yes, give this government a chance to make more efficient, to make more accountable, to make more effective, government and its institutions." Yes, we agree with that, but do not mistake that for what people will hold you up to in terms of their expectations. The measurement they will use is: "Do I have the prospect of a better future economically? Do my children have a chance at succeeding at something? Will they in fact be employed? Will they in fact have the opportunity to go to school in this new Ontario?" That's how people will measure the success or failure of this government.

In my opinion, I think you will be a miserable failure for too many people in this province who will be left behind as casualties. The casualty list is beginning to grow. This experiment that you call a revolution will fail, because it's based on false premises and a bunch of myths that will be proven to be wrong, will be proven to be incorrect.

Mrs Boyd: I have only a few moments to wrap up this debate, because we have agreed this motion will pass by the end of today's session.

Let me just say that what my colleague from Lawrence has said is very important. It is very important that the government recognize that people are seeing through the crisis it has manufactured. It must have been quite disturbing for many of the members when the Minister of Education and Training let the cat out of the bag around the creation of crises so that you could get your own way. But that in fact is what the policies of this government have been: create a crisis, frighten people, and then they will lie down and let a bully government do whatever it chooses to do. That's exactly what we have seen.

There is no doubt, as we all have agreed in this Legislature before, that there needs to be a real effort on the part of whoever is in government to get our spending under control, to be accountable to the taxpayers. No one disagrees with that. But we are not going bankrupt, as the Premier tried to claim. We are bankrupting ourselves by destroying our services with the kinds of budgetary actions this government is taking.

It is important for us to recognize that the gross domestic product depends very heavily upon many of the very services that this government's financial cuts are going to destroy. Education is a good example. The factor of education in the calculation of gross domestic product is extremely important. It is very necessary for us to stop and take a look at what the cuts to education at all levels are going to mean in terms of our measurement of gross domestic product.

It is also important for the people of Ontario to understand that this government, which talks about being accountable to people, is playing a shell game around budgetary matters. I had a constituent say to me the other day: "I don't understand what it is you were talking about on Thursday. It sounded like a budget to me. But then, the thing that happened in November sounded like a budget to me and what happened in July sounded like a budget to me. So what's different?" I said that what's different is that you've got a government that isn't bothering to put forward a budget. What it's doing is making little economic announcements here and there, repeating them, and trying to hide from people the cumulative effect, and it has not been accountable enough to bring forward a budget which could be debated thoroughly. What they do is give us bits and pieces. What they do is try and say to the people of Ontario, "We know what we're doing, but we haven't enough confidence in ourselves to do that in a straightforward and open way."

It's important for us to be calling the government on that kind of behaviour. It is similar to the kind of behaviour it has undertaken with its omnibus bill, Bill 26. It is similar to the kinds of actions they have taken in trying to hide and dissemble about what it is they are actually doing. It is important in a debate like this, where we are talking about the interim supply motion, to call the government to account for its methods, not just for what it is doing but for its methods of governing, because indeed the way in which this government is governing is very destructive of the democratic principles and procedures that have been revered in this place for a long time. It is an effort to govern by subterfuge.

I would say to my colleagues here in the opposition benches that it is increasingly going to be our job to say to the people of Ontario, who want to understand what is going on, who want to understand why there is such distress and dismay in the land, want to understand why they feel as though somehow there's some con game being played, that indeed there is, that the kinds of methods this government is using to forward its policies are very designed to cloud the issues, to try and keep people from understanding the long-term effects of the decisions being made.

In this debate, the government perhaps understands that through this process we are going through in this Legislature, through the process that will happen when it brings forward its budget, the opposition parties are very clear that part of our job will be to help educate the people of Ontario about exactly what kind of methods this government is prepared to employ to get its own way. Believe me, that's exactly what we see here. We see a group of people with powerful friends who are governing to favour those friends, and every single policy they bring forward is designed to further those interests. We will be asking at every turn, "Who benefits by the policies of this government?" I can assure you, it is not the vast majority of the population of this province, and it certainly isn't those who are most vulnerable.

The Speaker: Mr Eves moved the motion for interim supply for the period commencing May 1, 1996, and ending October 31, 1996. Shall the motion carry?

All those in favour, please say "aye."

All those opposed, please say "nay."

In my opinion, the ayes have it. I declare the motion carried.

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

The House adjourned at 1759.