36th Parliament, 1st Session

L059 - Wed 17 Apr 1996 / Mer 17 Avr 1996


























































The House met at 1332.




M. Jean-Marc Lalonde (Prescott et Russell) : Je voudrais apporter à l'attention de l'Assemblée sur une action remarquable que je considère comme étant le plus grand exploit au sein du sport amateur au cours de la dernière décennie.

En fin de semaine dernière, l'équipe Embrun Plumbing d'Embrun a remporté pour la neuvième fois au cours des 10 dernières années le championnat canadien de ballon-balai dans la catégorie élite-hommes, grâce à une victoire de 4 à 2 en grande finale contre la formation du Québec.

Après une carrière amateur comblée de succès, la majorité des joueurs de l'équipe Embrun Plumbing participaient pour la dernière fois aux championnats canadiens. Je profite de l'occasion pour les féliciter.

Au cours de la dernière décennie, ils ont été de grands ambassadeurs pour ma circonscription de Prescott et Russell, pour la province de l'Ontario, qu'ils ont représentée à chaque année aux championnats canadiens, et pour le Canada, qu'ils ont représenté avec succès au Championnat mondial de 1991.

Je veux souligner la performance de Yvan Skip Breton qui, au cours des 10 dernières années, a été le meilleur joueur de ballon-balai au monde. Il a reçu le titre de Mr Broomball à huit reprises, honneur remis au meilleur joueur du championnat canadien.

Pour terminer, je désire rendre hommage à tous les joueurs, à l'entraîneur Wilson Montgomery et ses adjoints, ainsi qu'aux dirigeants qui ont participé au succès de l'équipe au cours des 10 dernières années, et tout spécialement au propriétaire d'Embrun Plumbing et grand amateur de ballon-balai, Maurice Lemieux.


Mr Rosario Marchese (Fort York): When the residents of the Niagara neighbourhood and Parkdale realized what a disastrous effect the cuts in social assistance were having on their communities, they got together to organize the Queen Street Out of the Cold. Out of the Cold is a volunteer organization which provides emergency food and shelter in the winter months. The Queen Street program opened in mid-January with the support of the Queen Street Mental Health Centre, the patients' council, as well as several west-end church congregations.

In less than a month, a volunteer base of 200 was mobilized and enough materials were scavenged to start up. Local Queen Street businesses contributed goods or labour. Hank Young, a cook, stayed up one night a week along with his friend Patrick to make sure we offered a good breakfast. Portuguese Canadians, senior citizens, organized and prepared two evening meals.

From time to time at this Out of the Cold you would witness the poor helping the poorer. Each Sunday night since it started, the program has served a hot supper and a hot breakfast and provided a takeaway lunch. Each time, the program served approximately 120 suppers and provided a mat to sleep on for 50 or so people.

The volunteers are exhausted by the experience. How long does this government think volunteers will be able to fill in for a government that has abdicated its responsibility to those who most need its protection? How long do you think people will be willing to cook meals, scrounge food and stay up all night watching over guests? When people run out of energy to clean up after this government, we will see the true extent of the damage being done to our most vulnerable citizens.


Mr Doug Galt (Northumberland): I rise in the House today to bring attention to a success story in the local management of provincial parks. Two years ago the government of Ontario closed Ferris Provincial Park near Campbellford. The town of Campbellford and the township of Seymour rallied behind the park and were able to take over the management of the park on a year-to-year basis. Since then, the $30,000 annual deficit has been eliminated and indeed a profit has been realized.

The turnaround of the park is the result of several factors. First, the public awareness of the park has increased due to the promotion of the park by Friends of Ferris Park and by local service clubs. Second, co-op students from the local high schools have volunteered their time working at the park and enhancing its services. Third, the park is now open year-round. And fourth, the community is holding several events to help raise money for the park. The latest event was a maple syrup festival which was very well attended.

The community is currently negotiating with the Ministry of Natural Resources for a five-year contract to manage this park. If this is successful, the community will be able to reinvest the profits into the park, allowing for educational and capital projects to be enhanced.

The success of Ferris Park is an example of how partnerships can be developed within communities. It should serve as a model for other parks that are experiencing similar difficulties. All that is needed is a willing municipality and strong volunteer organizations.


Ms Annamarie Castrilli (Downsview): This House shortly will be presented with a petition signed by 15,000 citizens of Ontario opposed to this government's educational policies.

The government's Blueprint for Learning states, "The need for increased funding for Ontario's post-secondary institutions is obvious." It also says, "Ontario's current student assistance program is seriously flawed.... The result is a tragic loss of opportunity for young Ontarians, particularly those from lower-income families. As they lose their chance for higher education, they lose many of their choices for career, lifestyle and personal goals."

The real tragedy here is that this government doesn't practise what it preaches. What this government is good at is contradicting itself. It promotes the need to invest in education, yet it slashes funding. It acknowledges that students can't be further burdened by tuition, yet it implements massive tuition increases. It acknowledges that we need to focus on training our young people and retraining our workers, yet it eliminates programs.

The draft white paper clearly suggests this government is determined to create a two-tiered post-secondary education system. This government's agenda in post-secondary education is only reduced funding. It is not concerned with accessibility; it is not concerned with learning; it is not concerned with teaching; it is not concerned with jobs.

The process is backwards and it is wrong. The government is making cuts before the white paper --

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



Ms Shelley Martel (Sudbury East): Last Thursday, Science North in Sudbury was hit by yet another cut to its provincial operating grant. This marks the fourth cut in the last eight months to this northern cultural attraction. Worse still is the arbitrary and unfair way in which the Minister of Citizenship, Culture and Recreation has applied these cuts. Of the five provincial cultural attractions funded by MCCR, only Science North has been targeted in every single round of funding cuts.

This discrimination against our northern agency is not acceptable. Before the cuts even began, Science North was the lowest-funded agency on a per-visitor basis. It also is the most financially self-sufficient of the five cultural attractions; 40% of its budget comes from the province, while the other agencies require well over 50% of all of their revenue to come from the government. Yet the minister has seen fit to single out Science North for cuts which are well in excess of those applied to the other southern Ontario attractions, and she's done so each time rounds of cuts have been announced.

The obvious impact is reduced service to northern Ontario. Given Science North's focus on science education, this will have a long-term negative impact on students and science teachers. This kind of discrimination really hurts northern Ontario, but unfortunately, given the magnitude of the job loss at the Ministry of Natural Resources and the Ministry of Northern Development and Mines announced last week, discrimination against the north seems to be the new trademark of this government.


Mrs Barbara Fisher (Bruce): On Sunday, April 14, I was pleased to have the opportunity to attend the Market Grey-Bruce spring food fair and trade show. I was very impressed with what I saw, the excellent work being done by volunteers in Bruce and Grey counties.

The Market Grey-Bruce committee is a non-profit group of volunteers from the farm, rural, tourism and small business sectors. These volunteers have organized to facilitate closer contact among various agricultural, processing, manufacturing, craft, foodservice and hospitality industries within Bruce and Grey counties.

The objective of the Market Grey-Bruce is to improve the local economy by promoting local products and services, finding new markets at home and beyond, and creating an image of Grey-Bruce as a source of high quality and great hospitality.

Market Grey-Bruce has created a unique database with information on hundreds of Bruce and Grey producers. As well, a new logo has been released which includes the words "Pride of Grey-Bruce" and will now be displayed in local food stores and restaurants, indicating that Grey and Bruce food and food products are available in those establishments.

I would like to commend all of the individuals who devote their time and energy to making Market Grey-Bruce a success. It is initiative and dedication such as theirs that promotes pride in our communities and prosperity in our local economies.


Mr Michael Gravelle (Port Arthur): The people of northern Ontario are getting angry at a government that continues to talk about its commitment to the north while it simultaneously cuts back in a frighteningly drastic manner the services we need to sustain development and maintain public safety in our part of the province.

Yesterday, the Minister of Northern Development visited Thunder Bay in an attempt to convince our people that a reduced commitment to firefighting is nothing to be concerned about. Minister, we just aren't buying it.

Like winter road maintenance and snowstorms, you cannot legislate the number of fires in this province. If you say you will spend what is needed to deal with the situation, then why needlessly alarm the residents of the north and the entire province by cutting back on your base commitment?

Unfortunately, like so many other decisions made by this minister, the bottom line is one of cost-cutting at the risk of public safety. By closing 17 out of 45 fire stations in the province, you're simply putting all of us in further danger if the number of forest fires rivals that of last year.

As is now becoming the pattern, all of this is being done without any consultation with the people in the north, the people who are most affected by these decisions. By reducing your base budget and eliminating over one third of the fire stations, you're proving once again your priorities are cost-cutting, regardless of the consequences.

Surely you should have learned a lesson from your colleague the Minister of Transportation, who discovered after the fact that his attempts to reduce costs not only downgraded service to a dangerous degree on winter roads, but ultimately cost the province more money.

Rethink your decision so we can avoid an unnecessary crisis later.


Mr David Christopherson (Hamilton Centre): I rise today to pay tribute to a group of community leaders in Hamilton who have put together an alternative plan to the Health Action Task Force report that would have shut down St Joseph's Hospital, in the heart of my riding. These health care leaders have come together in a way that, has never been seen before, and I do want to mention their names: Allan Greve, from St Joseph's Hospital; Dr David McCutcheon, from the Hamilton Civic Hospitals; Dr Jennifer Jackman, Chedoke-McMaster Hospitals; Peter Carruthers, St Peter's Hospital; Mary Sutherland, Hamilton Psychiatric Hospital; Dr John Bienenstock, faculty of health sciences, McMaster University; Dr Mark Levine, Hamilton Regional Cancer Centre; Dr John Hewson, health services advisory committee; Betty Muggah, Victorian Order of Nurses, Hamilton-Wentworth; and May Cohen, faculty of health sciences, McMaster University.

These community health care leaders have come together and put together a report that not only allows us to keep St Joseph's Hospital but indeed allows us to keep all the acute care hospitals. They've done this out of a need to step in as the result of the government's shortening the time the Health Action Task Force had from two years to one year, which left a report that wasn't as thorough as it should have been. But I want to pay compliments to this group, as well as regional chairman Terry Cooke, who did an excellent job, and urge everyone to support this on the district health council.


Mr David Tilson (Dufferin-Peel): I rise today to inform the House of my private member's resolution calling on the federal government to repeal section 745 of the Criminal Code of Canada.

This morning, I held a news conference with the Canadian Police Association, the Canadian Association of Chiefs of Police, the Police Association of Ontario, CAVEAT and Victims of Violence, all in support of my resolution.

Our police work long, hard hours to get evidence against the accused, the prosecution works long and hard to convict these criminals, judges and juries spend a great deal of time deliberating their verdict and sentence, only to be undermined by section 745 of the Criminal Code. This section gives convicted killers the ability to apply for a parole hearing after serving only 15 years.

With me today at the press conference were Gary and Sharon Rosenfeldt, whose son Daryn was killed by Clifford Olson. Under section 745, Olson can apply for a parole eligibility date in August of this year. At this time, this family and the other victims' families will go through a renewed form of torture, having to relive the horrible experience they've already gone through. This goes beyond comprehension. Why would the federal Liberal government allow someone such as Clifford Olson the possibility of parole and cause these victims to relive their nightmare? Tomorrow, when my resolution is debated, I hope the House will stand as one in unanimous support.


The Speaker (Hon Allan K. McLean): I'd like to inform the members of the assembly that we have in the Speaker's gallery today a delegation from Jersey, Channel Islands, headed by Mr Brian Grady, director of education, and Mr Andrew Mallet, assistant director of education. They're accompanied by Mr Earl Campbell, director of the Scarborough Board of Education. Welcome to the assembly.

We also have some former members here with us as visitors today. Mr Michael Dietsch is sitting in the east lobby, the former member for St Catharines-Brock. I see Mr Ron Lipsett up in the visitors' gallery, the former member for Grey. I also recognize Mr Howard Sheppard, the former member for Northumberland. Welcome.




Hon Norman W. Sterling (Minister of Consumer and Commercial Relations): I'm pleased to announce today some changes to the liquor regulations in Ontario. Most of these changes under the Liquor Licence Act and the Liquor Control Act will take effect on May 1, 1996, and, I believe, will benefit consumers, businesses and communities in this province.

Some changes are a first step towards updating Ontario's liquor regulations to reflect today's attitudes. I'd like to use extending the hours of sale and service of alcohol in bars and restaurants until 2 am as an example of this. Until now, Ontario had the earliest end service times in Canada and bordering states. Extending hours to 2 am will be good for tourism and convention industries and it will allow Ontario's hospitality industry to better compete for business with neighbouring jurisdictions.

Another change allows golfers to buy and drink liquor on playing areas of golf courses where they already have a liquor sales licence and if they choose to apply for a golf course endorsement. This should curtail illegal drinking practices that take place on golf links. Golfers will be able to have a drink while playing. However, they will not be able to hold or drink liquor while operating golf carts. Golf club licences are responsible for ensuring this is strictly adhered to. The Criminal Code applies to impaired driving on a golf course just as it does on a public road. Four provinces already allow this particular practice: Alberta, Saskatchewan, Manitoba and New Brunswick.

Other changes include prohibiting the possession of alcohol in two more provincial parks, Dryden's Blue Lake and Kenora's Rush River, prior to and including the Victoria Day weekend, effective April 19, 1996; and clarifying the activities of manufacturers' representatives and manufacturers' responsibilities as they relate to their representatives. Also, beer price changes will be more responsive to market forces, with the Liquor Control Board of Ontario continuing to ensure minimum and uniform pricing across the province.

I'd also like to take this opportunity to make it clear that these changes are not part of a comprehensive review of the liquor retail and distribution system. As I mentioned, many of these changes will help to stimulate the tourism and hospitality industries, which are now gearing up for their busiest part of the year. Benefits will include increased employment, particularly seasonal, which should be good news for some college and university students.

I think most of us here today would agree that these changes are timely. We believe the vast majority of Ontarians are responsible in their consumption of alcohol. Also, there's no denying that these changes will benefit the province and those who visit it.


Hon Charles Harnick (Attorney General, minister responsible for native affairs): On March 20, my colleague the Minister of Finance and government House leader, Ernie Eves, announced in this House that the government would hold a public inquiry into the events that had occurred outside the Legislature a few days earlier, on March 18. I am pleased to inform the House today of the establishment of a commission of inquiry and of the inquiry's terms of reference.

This inquiry will conduct a full public review of the issues and events of March 18 and the circumstances leading up to those events. The accountability and behaviour of all individuals and organizations concerned will be dealt with in a fair and open process.

The government has appointed as commissioner of this inquiry the Honourable Willard Z. Estey QC, former Justice of the Supreme Court of Canada and former Chief Justice of Ontario. Mr Estey has had a long and distinguished career as a jurist, a lawyer and an academic. He is a Companion of the Order of Canada and is past chancellor of Wilfrid Laurier University. Mr Estey has acted as a commissioner on a variety of royal commissions, including the Air Canada inquiry and the inquiry into certain banking operations. Mr Estey is chairman of the Ontario Press Council, a lifetime member of the board of governors of the York-Finch Hospital and has sat on the extraordinary challenge committee for the hearing of appeals under the Canada-US free trade agreement.

The government has asked Mr Estey to inquire into the events of March 18, 1996, and the circumstances leading up to them, including the actions, rights and responsibilities of all participants, the effect of those events on the operation and security of the Legislative Assembly and on access to public buildings, the policies and responses of the police forces and the security agency involved and such other matters relating to these events as the commission considers appropriate.

Mr Estey has been asked to report his findings and make any recommendations he considers advisable to me so that events of public concern can be avoided in the future. His report and any additional interim reports he may issue will be made public. All ministries, boards and agencies and commissions of the government are to assist the commissioner to the fullest extent so that the commissioner may carry out his duties.

These terms of reference provide Mr Estey with the foundation upon which a public inquiry can be conducted in order to answer the public's questions surrounding the events of that day. This inquiry will ensure a full, comprehensive and public accounting of the events of March 18.


Hon Marilyn Mushinski (Minister of Citizenship, Culture and Recreation): Our government cares very deeply that the interests of vulnerable adults in this province are protected and that vulnerable adults are able to act on their wishes and rights. I am proud today to announce our initiative for vulnerable adults in Ontario. On March 29, our government kept its promise to repeal the Advocacy Act and eliminate the Advocacy Commission. We did it because Ontarians deserved better.

There are approximately 300,000 vulnerable adults living in Ontario. By vulnerable adult, I mean a person who, because of a disability, medical condition, communication problem or age, has difficulty expressing or acting upon his or her wishes. Many receive attention from families, neighbours, volunteers, community organizations and care providers who can help them express and act upon their wishes. However, some are without this kind of support and some are physically, sexually and emotionally abused.

As members of a civilized society, Ontarians have a responsibility to address these issues. As a government we have a responsibility to address these issues in a realistic, compassionate and practical way, a way that recognizes and supports the role of families and also addresses the needs of vulnerable adults without family and friends to help.

The measures I am announcing today are backed by a funding commitment of $3 million. Ontarians will get the most out of these dollars because they are going directly to community-based services; no duplication, no new bureaucracy, no new legislation.

Today, I am pleased to tell you about the two parts of our initiative for vulnerable adults: (1) supports for advocacy services and (2) strategies to deal with abuse and neglect.

First, I will focus on support for community-based advocacy. At both the hearings of the standing committee on administration of justice and at discussion groups a word came up often. That word was "coordination." Our government will take a coordinated, community-based approach to advocacy services. Services are already being delivered in Ontario, but these services are not equally developed in all regions of the province and are not linked as well as they could be. In addition, vulnerable adults, their families and others need better ways to find out about them.


The initiative I'm announcing today will make major improvements in all these areas.

My ministry will support the development of community-based services through funding and community development. We will provide funds to one or more community organizations to develop and maintain a province-wide information and referral system, including a toll-free telephone line and an interactive Internet site. In the meantime, the current advocacy information referral toll-free line will stay open.

We will also provide funding for a clearinghouse service based in the community for education, training and other resource material to assist vulnerable adults, families, volunteers and service providers.

We will refocus and nearly double the funding of the community action fund, which will support community organizations to assist vulnerable adults to express and act on their wishes. Funding criteria will emphasize building links and partnerships among community organizations.

Those who provide care and other services to vulnerable adults have special responsibilities in protecting the interests of vulnerable adults. Our government will require, through service contracts and performance agreements, all institutions it operates or funds to provide accessible ways for dealing with concerns of vulnerable adults and their families.

When there is a problem, the first point of contact is often with health care professionals, social workers and lawyers. These professionals are best able to help when they understand the needs of vulnerable people and can identify the situations that make them vulnerable. In consultation with community organizations, our government will work with and encourage professional bodies to include in their training the role of professionals in addressing the needs of vulnerable adults.

We must, however, go further than that, and that is the focus of the second part of our initiative dealing with abuse and neglect. Our government will work with service providers, professionals and community partners to develop a series of measures. We will work with several ministries to develop minimum safeguards to protect against abuse in institutions funded or operated by the province. We will work with professional associations, community groups and institutions to develop and implement protocols to address abuse and neglect of vulnerable adults.

The Ministry of the Solicitor General and Correctional Services, in consultation with my ministry, will develop guidance for enhancing police response to elder abuse. Also in consultation with my ministry, the Ministry of the Attorney General will review the existing guidelines for crown attorneys on victims/witnesses with special needs and explore the current practice with respect to prosecutions of abuse against vulnerable adults to determine if further guidelines should be developed.

Our government will explore a number of options, including legislative amendments, to deal with abuse and neglect of vulnerable adults. Our approach is non-intrusive. It supports community-based services without creating legislation or duplicating existing services. It reflects government's proper role: providing support to communities in a way that acknowledges and builds on the fact that families, volunteers, community workers and health professionals are already delivering excellent services. And our initiatives send this message loud and clear: Abuse and neglect of vulnerable adults will not be tolerated in Ontario.

It is never enough for a government merely to have good intentions or to want to just do the right thing. We must make sure that the steps we take are not only guided by compassion but also grounded in reality. That is the approach that will work best. Vulnerable adults in Ontario deserve no less.


Mr Bruce Crozier (Essex South): To the minister: I note in your comments that it's clear that these changes are not part of the comprehensive review of liquor retail sales and distribution. Does that mean that the three points you have issued today are not a part of any comprehensive review or that you haven't reviewed them at all, or does it just mean that in light of what you said both in this House yesterday and outside, you thought you'd better add that at the end here?

I just want to point out that notwithstanding the benefits that you see in this, Minister, the government is sending out a very mixed message. Just recently, you've added $1.2 million to spending for the RIDE program, which I assume is to catch drunk drivers, notwithstanding you're giving them an hour longer to drink, and at that same time you've taken away the advertising against driving while drunk. So Minister, whatever it is you want to do, whatever it is you want to benefit the province of Ontario, I just wish that you'd get the message clear, because you're sending a very mixed message.


Ms Annamarie Castrilli (Downsview): The government has finally capitulated to the opinion of the public and announced a public inquiry on the events leading up to March 18. I wonder why it took so long to develop the terms of reference and I wonder too why, having promised that they would consult with the opposition, they just barely informed us a few minutes ago of the terms of reference of the inquiry, expecting us to have some input. Again, the bullies across the way are not interested in consultation. I wonder too why the inquiry is going to take so long. Security in this place surely is a vital matter which should be dealt with quickly.

I applaud the appointment of Mr Justice Estey. He is certainly a distinguished jurist. However, I hope we do not have a repeat of the Homolka inquiry, where we fetter the hands of a very competent jurist to do his job. In particular, I would suggest that the terms of reference ought to be broad enough to look into the actions of the Office of the Premier in the events leading up to March 18 and beyond.

The people of Ontario deserve to have confidence in their public institutions and I hope that we will be able to get some real answers after this inquiry.


Mrs Elinor Caplan (Oriole): In response to the Minister of Citizenship's statement on advocacy, I would say to her that there are approximately 300,000 vulnerable adults living in Ontario, some of whom are physically, sexually, emotionally abused, that everyone has recognized that there is a tremendous need for coordination.

I've read her statement several times and I say to her, where is the coordination? Your words do not meet your actions, and while we wait to see whether or not the actions that you have taken are effective in any way, I would say to her that coordination is a key. You've heard that from everyone. We do not see, in your throwing some money into community-based services, where you have responded to the need for coordination.

I would say to her as well that the abuse and neglect of vulnerable adults will not be tolerated in Ontario. We agree with that. We think she has finally realized that legislation is necessary. She has referred to that briefly in her report. But I would say to the minister, I have read this and I'm not sure what this means. I'm not sure it gives any comfort whatever to vulnerable adults; I'm not sure it gives any comfort to the hundreds of volunteer and family members who advocate daily on behalf of those vulnerable people; I'm not sure it gives any comfort to anyone that you are moving in a coordinated fashion, as was anticipated by the former Conservative member from Hamilton, the late Father Sean O'Sullivan. In fact, I would say to the minister that I do not think that Father Sean O'Sullivan would be proud of your announcement today.

I will say again to the minister that the people of this province expect you to live up to your commitment that you would protect vulnerable adults and vulnerable people in this province. I don't believe you have done this. We'll be watching very carefully to see what the impact is of the statement you have made today, but certainly it contains nothing that would suggest a coordinated approach to advocacy in Ontario.



Mr Peter Kormos (Welland-Thorold): The Minister of Consumer and Commercial Relations in his announcement today talks about stimulating tourism and the hospitality industry. It's a given that the greater the access and availability of alcohol, the greater the consumption of alcohol. What an ill-reasoned proposition we have here. Stimulate tourism and the hospitality industry? It's going to stimulate drunk driving. It's going to stimulate spousal abuse. It's going to stimulate violence against children and against people on our streets. It's going to stimulate violent crime. It's going to stimulate increased drinking and literal alcoholism among increasing numbers of people and the incredible social costs associated with that.

It is the height of hypocrisy to talk about this as stimulating any sort of any economy when this government has gutted any number of preventive programs against drunk driving, against spousal abuse, against abuse of children. This indeed is criminal.


Mr Rosario Marchese (Fort York): Decades of hopes and dreams preceded the passing of the Advocacy Act, and you dashed those dreams with the mere saying of five words: "The Advocacy Act is repealed." You tear everything asunder and then you pick up a few scraps from the rubble and offer them as solutions. What have you done? You take away millions and millions of dollars from agencies that serve vulnerable people and then you offer a few pennies back, saying: "Look at this. We've offered $3 million."

In the community action fund there was $1.25 million already. You said you've doubled that. That brings us to $2.5 million, or $2.3 million and you've got a few extra thousand dollars for some other things. It isn't new money. What you're offering here is not three million new dollars but approximately $1.5 million to $1.7 million worth of new money. That's what you're offering.

You talk about what you're doing by way of supports to the vulnerable communities and you talk about a hotline. How do people know about the hotline? How do vulnerable seniors and people with disabilities get to know about your hotline?

And then you do something worse. You say: "Those who provide care and other services to vulnerable adults have special responsibilities in protecting the interests of vulnerable adults. Our government will require, through service contracts and performance agreements, all institutions it operates or funds to provide accessible ways for dealing with concerns...."

That's not the problem. Agencies have been dealing with these concerns for a long, long time, but you're making it appear as if the problem is with the agencies. The problem is not with the agencies, but that's what you're saying through a paragraph of that kind. Shame on that kind of statement.

You talk about agencies having to do this work, but we know, and they've told us in committee, that they have no legislative power to deal with abuse. They have no legislative power to have right of entry to deal with abuse where there is suspicion of abuse. What are you giving agencies the power to do?

The other part of your statement is "Dealing with Abuse and Neglect." I have no problems with creating protocols. That's all right. I have no problems with developing guidelines for enhancing police response. That's all right. But it doesn't deal with prevention, and that's what we were talking about. It does not deal with rights advice. It does not deal with right of entry to enter a place where there is suspicion of abuse.

Madam Minister, two things. Seniors and people with disabilities are too smart not to discern the deception. Seniors and people with disabilities deserve justice, and you're not giving them that today.


Mr David S. Cooke (Windsor-Riverside): I'd like to respond briefly to the terms of reference for the commission of inquiry. First of all, I want to say how disappointed I am with the process the government has used. The credibility of the government House leader is at stake today when he promised, both publicly and in House leaders' meetings, that draft terms of reference would be circulated to the opposition parties, that a roster of possible appointments would be shared with the opposition House leaders and that there would be a meaningful effort to have a consensus developed on the terms of reference.

We were told last week at the House leaders' meeting that the draft terms of reference would be shared with us at 12 noon on the Thursday, and then, when that wasn't possible, it was going to be 1 o'clock. Then it was going to be Friday morning. Today we got them at about 11:30 and were told: "That's it. Those are the final terms of reference."

My view is that where these terms of reference get specific, they're aimed at the demonstrators; where they're general, they're aimed to favour the position of the security force. They don't have credibility. The process doesn't have credibility and the government --

The Speaker (Hon Allan K. McLean): The member's time has expired. The member for Dovercourt on a point of order.


Mr Tony Silipo (Dovercourt): Mr Speaker, I want to rise today on an important point of order which I would like to ask you to listen to and look into and come back at your convenience with a ruling on. It's regarding the issue of the use of question period by ministers to make statements under the guise of answers to questions from government backbenchers. It's an issue that's been --


Mr Silipo: The members might be interested in listening to this because it's an issue that's been raised before, indeed by members of all parties. It's an issue that comes specifically, in the immediate situation, out of a question asked yesterday by the member for St Catharines-Brock to the Minister of Economic Development, Trade and Tourism. This is the point I want to make: The basic rule that I think has been accepted in this Legislature, not just by way of precedence but also supported by the rules of this House, is that question period should not be used as the place in which ministers make statements about government policy. That's a position that's been, as I said, taken by previous Speakers.

Mr Speaker, certainly there were a couple of rulings on this very point going back in the last Parliament, and I want to draw your attention specifically to at least one of those back in 1990 when then-Speaker Warner said very clearly: "Answers to questions should not be used to present to the House changes in government policy. Members will know that our standing orders provide a specific time period each day during routine proceedings for that type of announcement. The procedure for statements by the ministry also provides for replies on the part of members of the opposition parties. I therefore agree with the honourable members who made these points yesterday that question period should definitely not be used for presenting changes in government policy."

I want to suggest to you, Mr Speaker, that yesterday, when the member for St Catharines-Brock asked the Minister of Economic Development, Trade and Tourism a question around the announcement the minister had made around the Niagara casino the day before, what he was doing was in effect announcing government policy by way of answer to that question, something he should have done, and we would have welcomed, as an announcement made during ministers' statements, as we've just seen today.

I would ask you to look at that and I want to particularly draw to your attention the fact -- I personally have to say I had some sensitivity to this because the ruling I just referred to came out of a complaint that was lodged by the Liberal members of the day and indeed the member for Parry Sound, as he then was, the government House leader of the third party, on this very same point that I am making today. Interestingly enough and ironically enough, it came out of a question I asked at the time as government backbencher to one of my ministers at the time. I would ask you to look into this, Mr Speaker. I appreciate --

The Speaker (Hon Allan K. McLean): The member has made his point very well, and I will look into it.

Mr Rosario Marchese (Fort York): On another point of order, Mr Speaker: Yesterday I asked the Minister of Citizenship, Culture and Recreation a question with respect to the Ontario settlement and integration program and pointed out that the cut to that program was 20%, and she stood up to say the cut was 13.2%. Her ministry document says --

The Speaker: Order. Would the member take his seat, please. He does not have a point of order.




Mrs Lyn McLeod (Leader of the Opposition): My first question is for the Premier. We were all rather stunned to read in the paper this morning that, for example, in the year 1994 you claimed $18,000 in personal expenses from your constituency association, clearly an association that provides political support for you as a member but not as leader of your party.

What was particularly surprising to us was to see how you had spent that money. You spent $1,047 on dues to the North Bay Golf and Country Club. You spent $7,620 to upgrade your housing, and that's in addition to the $15,000 accommodation allowance you got from the government. Another year, you spent nearly $200 for a liquor permit for something referred to as a stag.

Premier, can you please explain to us today how you would justify using riding association funds to pay for a stag, a golf and country club membership and an accommodation top-up, none of which have anything whatsoever to do with your role as the member for Nipissing?

Hon Michael D. Harris (Premier): The stag, I think, was before I was a member for Nipissing, back in 1981, although I am not sure of that. The riding association would have to look into that. I don't believe at the time I was even a member of the riding association, having stepped down to seek the nomination at the time, but I don't have information on that.

I can tell you that what I have always advocated is that legitimate expenses for government should be charged to government, and be up front and be public, not tax-free allowances, not money that is put there whether you incur the expenses or not. Legitimate expenses for associations or for parties should be put there and be up front and be accounted for, and I have always done this.

I have asked my association, for example, and my employees and my staff, when I was first elected and again when I took over leadership of the party and again on becoming Premier, "If you're in doubt about whether this travel expense or this expense, whatever it is, promotion in my role as a member or as Premier or as leader of the party, is a legitimate expense, then make sure, if it's a legitimate expense, you charge it to the party." If it's an expense that's used for fund-raising, for example, which was considerable in my role as leader of the party -- as you know, I inherited quite a significant deficit as leader of our party -- then in fact those expenses should be there. But be up front about it, be public about it, put the expenses there and be prepared to answer for them.

I've answered for them and I would suggest all members do the same.

Mrs McLeod: Premier, a few years ago, in one of your party's news releases, you said, and I quote: "When people think of politicians these days, their thoughts are usually not very complimentary. People tend to think of politicians as opportunists and hypocrites." When we compare the pronouncements we've had from your government since you were elected with what we see today, the charge of hypocrisy seems to stick.

You were the one who recently said that some people choose to be homeless by choice. I guess what you meant was that they made the choice not to run for office and bill the riding association for their accommodation costs.

You were the one who told seniors that they had to pay a user fee for needed medication, while you were charging your riding association thousands of dollars for golf and country club fees.

You were the one who told students, students like the ones who are demonstrating outside the Legislative Assembly today, that they had to tighten their belts to pay for higher tuition, while you were enjoying the good life at the Albany Club.

I wonder, Premier, how you can preach such restraint, telling everyone from seniors to students to the sick that they have to tighten their belts and do their part, while you were acting in a completely opposite way. How can you explain away such complete and total hypocrisy?

Hon Mr Harris: I want to point out -- and I will answer the question -- that this has nothing to do with taxpayers' money, nothing to do with administration of government. Technically, it is out of order.

Let me say very clearly that I have asked my association, I have asked the party -- as you know, political parties have reimbursed expenses of leaders of parties since day one -- including the member opposite, I might add.

I have said that if you're in doubt about whether this should be taxpayers' money, reimbursing expenses to make sure that I or any members of our cabinet or our caucus are not out of pocket in carrying out legitimate party expenses, we will answer to the party for our expenses. I answer to the party and I answer to my association and I have said if we are going to err, and I want to tell you that we quite frankly make sure that our expenses are lower than any other Premier, than any other government, than any other administration, and I stand by that today.

Mrs Margaret Marland (Mississauga South): On a point of order, Mr Speaker: My point of order is to ask you to ask the leader of the official opposition to withdraw her unparliamentary language. I think "hypocrisy" is a word that previous Speakers have found unparliamentary.

The Speaker (Hon Allan K. McLean): I'm not aware of its being out of order. If it's out of order, I'm sure the honourable member would withdraw it.

Mrs McLeod: Mr Speaker, I read into the record a quotation from the Premier referring to politicians as hypocrites. That is a matter of record and I can't withdraw it. If there's anything unparliamentary in the question I posed in terms of the language used in this House I would certainly withdraw the language so that the concern I am raising can be still placed before this House and the people of this province.

The Speaker: Is this your supplementary?

Mrs McLeod: Premier, I would not quarrel with you for a moment that we in fact enjoy support in our responsibilities as a leader from the Legislative Assembly, and that's well recognized. We enjoy support from our parties as party leaders for extraordinary expenses and that's recognized. But we're talking about billings that you have made as a member and as a party leader and perhaps even as a Premier to your riding association. We're talking about expenses which don't seem to be able to be explained as related in any way to your role as a member or as a leader. We seem to be seeing a part of a systematic, 15-year pattern of what seems to me to be an abuse of the public trust.

I'll defer to your statement of record in terms of the 1981 billing, but we know that in 1994 you were billing the constituency association to pay Albany Club bills. Premier, I have to ask you what you think the public will conclude from this. I wonder how they conclude anything other than that when you were first elected as a politician, you realized from year one that you could bill personal expenses to a constituency association and that you continued that pattern as leader of the party, and may be doing the same today. How can you justify that 15-year pattern of using these monies to pay personal expenses unrelated to your work?

Hon Mr Harris: The Leader of the Opposition seems to imply that it's okay to bill the central party but not the riding association. They're both political parties, they both have objectives in mind. Quite frankly, your political party centrally had a surplus and mine actually had a big deficit. My local riding association had a surplus and there was money available there to assist the leader.

The goals of the political donations given to the party are this: Elect the member, elect your member leader, elect a Premier, elect the government. That's what political donations are for, and I have no difficulty in answering to my riding association and to my political party for expenses that have been incurred along the way for me to be elected five times in Nipissing, as leader of the party, and as Premier. Quite frankly, my association has been pleased and proud to support any expenses they -- not me -- have determined are important for me to carry on as leader of the party, to go out and raise funds, any entertainment expenses necessary for me in meeting new people in Toronto, so I could get travelling around the province, so I could be Premier of all the people, not just of Nipissing.

I freely acknowledge that. I have reported that. It is there as a matter of public record. If somehow or other the member is suggesting that back when the legislator used I think 100% taxpayer dollars to bail her caucus out of a $300,000 overpayment in caucus funds, because the leader's office couldn't stay within the funding allocation it was given-quite frankly, if we have ever felt more money was necessary to promote our leader, whoever that leader was, we've found it should come from party funds, not from taxpayer funds, as was the practice of the Liberal Party.


The Speaker: New question, the Leader of the Opposition.

Mrs McLeod: This is also to the Premier. I think there are some serious allegations here and I would ask you to bring some integrity to your response. You know full well that all the expenses of our caucus were within Legislative Assembly guidelines and approved by the assembly, and that is a matter of fact.


The Speaker: Order. New question to the Premier.

Mrs McLeod: Let me return to the specifics of your billings to your constituency association. It is clear you used riding association funds to pay for your golf club membership. You were a golfer and a golf pro before you were elected as a member of the Legislative Assembly. I suspect you will continue to golf long after you are a member. So how can you claim that paying more than $1,000 for a golf club membership in the North Bay Golf and Country Club is an expense related to your work as a member?

Hon Mr Harris: I think the member will be interested to know that I have been offered free golf memberships all around the province. I have turned them all down because I believed that was a conflict of interest. Also, I want to tell the member that as a former professional golfer and now an honorary director of the CPGA, I have a card that entitles me to free access and free greens fees to play any golf course in the province, which I also refuse to use in my role in politics.

I can tell you that my riding association has determined that membership, even though I'm not in North Bay very often, and paying up front rather than ever being in a position of accepting free golf or free memberships -- you might want to check the record of all your members to see who else does it this way -- that they would pay the North Bay golf club membership dues to belong to a club. They would pay as well to the Albany Club, they would pay to the Davedi Club in North Bay, feeling that even though I'm not there very often, this was important in my role as member, as leader, and as the 22nd Premier of the province of Ontario. I want to tell you, I'm proud of my riding association.

Mrs McLeod: Premier, your golf club membership was more than $1,000. The students who are outside this Legislative Assembly building have been asked by your government this year alone to pay $1,000 more in tuition. I wonder what you would say directly to those students outside today to tell them why they should have to dig deeper into their pockets to pay for their education while you dig deeper into your riding association to pay for your green fees.

Hon Mr Harris: I think if you will check the record of expenses, you will find that this administration is less than any administration in the last 10 years, which gives us more taxpayer dollars for education, for health care, for welfare, for those very services. One of the ways we do that is that if there is an expense, we make sure it's paid for out of party funds, not government funds. Would that the other two administrations had done the same.

Mrs McLeod: Premier, you campaigned on political integrity. You have said publicly that a lot of your time has been spent convincing the public you're different, and in fact we will soon be voting on a bill that you've presented on MPPs' pay and pensions that we all support in this Legislature because it makes MPP compensation open and transparent to the public.

Now that it is clear your compensation includes golf club memberships, payments to the Albany Club, extra housing allowances, what does this say about the integrity you were going to bring to government?

Hon Mr Harris: Let me be very clear. My compensation includes not one cent -- not one cent of money in my pocket for golf club memberships, for Albany Club, for other memberships through there. Not one cent.

The Speaker: New question, third party.

Mr David S. Cooke (Windsor-Riverside): My question is to the Premier. The $1,047 to the golf and country club in your home town represents about two months' payment to a single person on social assistance in this province. How can you, Mr Premier, justify that kind of an expenditure from not party funds but party funds that are raised at a 75% tax subsidy through the tax credit system? How can you justify spending taxpayers' money for a golf and country club membership when you've cut back welfare recipients by 22% because you say the taxpayers need relief?

Hon Mr Harris: You may disagree, but none of these questions -- and I'll answer them -- have anything to do with my role as Premier, as a minister in government, and quite frankly, they are technically out of order. But if the member wants to get into how political parties spend their dollars, then I tell you you're getting on a very slippery slope of how your party has spent dollars. The Liberals are getting on a very slippery slope of how they have spent dollars. Quite frankly, these are not taxpayer dollars.

Mr Mike Colle (Oakwood): They are tax dollars.

The Speaker: Order. The member for Oakwood.

Hon Mr Harris: Taxpayers make a voluntary contribution to the political party of their choice. They ask the political party to use those funds for their leader, for their members, to elect members, to raise more money, to carry out party business. Quite frankly, I am happy to answer to my party and to my riding association as to how those funds --

The Speaker: The question has been answered.

Mr Cooke: The Premier can try to say this is not taxpayers' money. The reality is, it is taxpayers' money, because there is a tax expenditure, forgone revenue, a rebate, a tax credit of 75% which you and I and every taxpayer in this province pay for.

I come back to the same question. When the Premier goes out and lectures people on social assistance that they're getting too much in this province and when he cut them back 22.6%, how can he justify having his golf and country club membership, his money at the Albany Club and other benefits that no other person in this province would have? How can he justify that expenditure in Ontario today?

Hon Mr Harris: I've never lectured anybody, particularly those who are unfortunate enough to be on welfare.

I want to be very clear here today. In the suggestions coming forward from the members of the Liberal Party and the New Democratic Party, I'm getting the sense that you are suggesting we scrap the tax-free portion of political donations to parties. I want to say to you, if that is the suggestion, we are planning reforms to that as well. If that is a suggestion, we will put that into the mix with all three parties to do that. If that is not the suggestion, then what I suggest to you is that dollars spent from riding associations you justify to the riding association; dollars spent in the provincial association you justify to the provincial association.

Mine are made public. I am happy to justify those. I hope you are happy to do the same. But I would tell you this: The justification for taxpayer dollars is the reason you are over there and we are here.


Mr Cooke: I assure the Premier that with this continued arrogance and abuse of taxpayers' money, he'll be back here very quickly. The purpose of the tax credit legislation is to strengthen democracy, not to enrich the Premier, and that's exactly what he's doing by abusing the legislation that was put in place.

I have a final supplementary. It's very simple, very clear. I hope the Premier will give a straightforward answer. We have consulted with accountants today and have been told that many of these expenditures by the Premier should be claimed on his personal income tax filing. I want to know, did you claim these expenses, a total over the last three years of $37,166? Did you or did you not claim these on your income tax returns?

Hon Mr Harris: While you would know and the public would know that my personal income tax is none of your business, I'm happy to tell you that I have claimed every penny that my accountant has told me was of personal benefit. Every penny that was in support of the association or the party is out there and there for the party, and every penny of taxpayer dollars that we are accountable for is there as well.


Mr Peter Kormos (Welland-Thorold): I've got a question to the Minister of Consumer and Commercial Relations. Yesterday he made some outrageously erroneous comments here in the Legislature. He said he was going to have to deal with the chair of the Liquor Control Board of Ontario to put sanctions against employees who sell to underage people. He tried to create the impression that the sale within the LCBO of liquor to underage people was somehow rampant and that an LCBO employee who does that is subject to a two-hour lecture. Then he proceeded to say he doesn't believe that that sanction is sufficient.

That's totally inaccurate. The minister may well have been referring to a two-hour video which is part of the intensive training program LCBO employees undergo. In fact, an LCBO employee who sells to an underage consumer can be fired, certainly will be reprimanded, indeed could be prosecuted. There's no motive for employees to do that, no incentive for them to sell to underage drinkers, in contrast to private liquor store owners, who are motivated by profit and want to sell as much as they can.

The Speaker (Hon Allan K. McLean): Put your question, please.

Mr Kormos: I say the minister made this up to try to create a false impression that the phenomenon of sales to underage consumers was rampant. He's the one creating the crisis.

Please, Minister, tell us upon what data, what information you relied to propose to state in this House that there was the sale of liquor by LCBO employees to underage consumers?

Hon Norman W. Sterling (Minister of Consumer and Commercial Relations): I appreciate the opportunity to clarify the situation. As the member may know, in the past week I have had the flu, and as a result, yesterday morning I was informed by an assistant that we had received a report from the Coalition of Ontario Private Enterprise, which had done a study of our LCBO stores. I did not have an opportunity to read that report but was advised there was a significant problem with regard to the sale of alcohol to underage people.

I have forwarded that report to the chair of the Liquor Control Board for his review, as the results are alarming in that the report showed that when an 18-year-old, through a private firm, went into some 45 different LCBO stores across this province, the age of that individual was only checked about a quarter of the time.

Mr Kormos: I spoke to the chair of the Liquor Control Board of Ontario around two and a half hours ago, and the chair of the Liquor Control Board of Ontario told me it would be the rarest of occasions when an underage consumer was sold liquor, and that would be in the case where in good faith an employee of the LCBO relied upon the appearance of somebody as clearly being far more mature than that person was.

The minister went one further, because the minister said, "In West Virginia, which has gone to a privatization scheme" -- the minister was down there a little while ago, travelling about -- "the degree of social responsibility has improved under the private system," as demonstrated in West Virginia. This is all part of his zeal, you see, to sell off a very profitable and a very socially responsible liquor distribution system.

Once again I ask the minister, upon what data, what research, what analysis does he base his comment that in the privatized West Virginia scheme, the degree of social responsibility has improved?

Hon Mr Sterling: I base that on a personal conversation with the chair of the liquor board of West Virginia.

Mr Kormos: The fact is, there is no study; there has been no collection of data in West Virginia to demonstrate any increase in social responsibility. But there are data that demonstrate that West Virginia, adjacent to the state of Pennsylvania, which has a controlled liquor sale and distribution system, after privatization has a driving-under-the-influence rate by minors, by people under age, four times that of Pennsylvania. There are data that indicate that, federally collected data. There are data to indicate that Pennsylvania's percentage of persons who are 21 years of age arrested for driving under the influence is in itself significantly lower than in the neighbouring uncontrolled jurisdiction of West Virginia.

In view of that, in view of the clear illustration that the privatized system in West Virginia is indeed promoting the sale of alcohol to minors, to underage persons, will this minister now please acknowledge that he made up what he said yesterday, that it's all hooey, it's all designed to generate a passion for selling off one of the most profitable resources that this province has? Indeed, as a result of his visit to West Virginia, the minister seems to be merely whistling Dixie.

Hon Mr Sterling: We have, as I said, not made any decisions with regard to privatization. However, I was very, very much concerned with the research report, which I was informed about yesterday, which indicated that when our LCBO stores were tested across this province, they failed the test. Only 25% of them asked an 18-year-old for their age of majority card; 75% failed. Therefore, I was very concerned about that yesterday, and I continue to be concerned about it, whether or not we privatize the LCBO. Therefore, I have asked Mr Brandt to come back to me with an answer as to how he's going to address this particular problem.

Mr Bruce Crozier (Essex South): My question is to the Minister of Consumer and Commercial Relations. Minister, yesterday in this House you said, "The real question is, can we do better than the present system?" Then you further commented, "I believe we can, either through improving the existing system or changing the present system."

Well, today the Ontario liquor board employees' union, as I suggested yesterday they could, have told you that they can see many stores which could improve services in smaller communities and city neighbourhoods, LCBO kiosks and other host businesses, Sunday openings, which have municipal approval.

Minister, you're the boss, you're the chief honcho, and I've said you're the most powerful minister in cabinet. Why aren't you moving to improve the present system? Why are you even considering abandoning the LCBO before you move to improve the present system and you can do all these improvements you want tomorrow? Why not? Why not just say the word, Minister?


Hon Mr Sterling: The issues you mentioned are complex and require discussion, and there is of course a difference of opinion as to whether they would increase the efficiency of the system and maintain the same amount of revenue to our treasury. That is a very important consideration for this government. We will be considering all these issues when we are looking at whether we are going to privatize this particular function of government. That has not been done, and hopefully we're going to do that in the very near future.

Mr Crozier: Might I remind the minister that in the 1995 Financial Post's 500 standings, the LCBO is first in return on invested capital; second in return on shareholders' equity, only after the SAQ in Quebec; second in net income for crown agencies, only after Hydro-Québec; fourth in profit margin; fifth most profitable net income; and is the 68th largest business organization in the country.

Minister, they already bring, this year, $680 million to the provincial treasury. Those are non-tax dollars. You don't have to go out and raise taxes if the revenue doesn't come in for that kind of thing. It's been suggested, Minister, why take risk capital that's available for other things out of the system just so they can buy an organization that's already bringing you all kinds of revenue.

The Solicitor General, I think, was rather cool to your suggestion yesterday. He's likely aware that in the United States -- and the figures were given here just a minute ago -- in Pennsylvania, which is controlled, a neighbouring state to your favourite state of West Virginia, the per 100,000 arrests were 1,000 per 100,000. In West Virginia, your favourite state, it was 5,000 arrests for underage driving.

The Speaker: Put your question.

Mr Crozier: The LCBO last year questioned 285,000 customers and turned away 58. Minister, don't you think it really is time to move on to something more important, more constructive in this province, and --

The Speaker: The question has been asked.

Hon Mr Sterling: I don't know where to start in terms of answering about a thousand different questions that were put forward. The LCBO is a significant contributor, and I think the present chairman is doing a very good job in trying to bring the LCBO into line. But I want to indicate to the member opposite that the LCBO happens to be the biggest liquor monopoly in the world. With the biggest liquor monopoly in the world, they should be producing more than $700 million for the Treasurer and the taxpayers, the people of Ontario; they should be producing maybe $800 million. That's what we're going to try to do in looking at the operation of this very valuable resource.


Mr Bud Wildman (Algoma): It would be interesting to find what, if anything, that minister bases his responses on. In the absence of the Minister of Education and Training, I'd like to direct a question about the massive cuts in post-secondary education to the Premier.

The Premier will know that his government has slashed $400 million from post-secondary education budgets across the province. It's caused enormous losses in faculty jobs across the province. You've approved tuition fees in colleges to increase by 15%; many university tuition fees will hike as high as 20%.

Today hundreds of students came to the Legislature, taking time away from their examinations, to voice their concerns about these irresponsible cuts to finance your tax cut. I'll be presenting the petition they brought to the Legislature to your office later today; because of the rules, we can't present it in here. But it reads in part, "That no college or university tuition fee increases or funding reduction be permitted until a study is completed and its recommendations are considered by Parliament."

Are you prepared to commit that there will not be tuition increases in the province or funding reductions until there is a thorough study of the impacts on the post-secondary education system in this province?

Hon Michael D. Harris (Premier): Yes, we will.

Mr Wildman: If you are prepared to have the study, can you indicate when this study will be completed? How can you explain your answer when already your government has given the green light to two universities to double tuition fees for dentistry students? How can you explain that answer when the tuition increases have already gone forward? How is it that we're going to have these kinds of tuition increases so that many, many students will not be able to afford to go to post-secondary education? Are you prepared to rescind that doubling of tuition fees for dentistry and to ensure that the entire cost of post-secondary education is funded from the public treasury in this province?

Hon Mr Harris: I find the member's question a tad strange. Here is a member of the New Democratic Party, one of the fastest tuition fee hikers in the history of governments here in the province of Ontario, now asking me to reverse all that, reverse tuition fees and put 100% of the cost of university and college tuition on to the taxpayer.

I know we were elected to undo a lot of damage you have done. There are a number of your policies we are changing so we can have more jobs and more growth and more prosperity here in the province of Ontario, but we did not campaign on cancelling tuition fees, having free tuition and having 100% of the cost paid for by the taxpayers. We indicated and we supported your tuition fee increases provided that those dollars were going into education.

Ms Frances Lankin (Beaches-Woodbine): You just said no increases until the study. Are you going to stop them until the study is completed?


Ms Lankin: He just said it, Chris. It was his answer, not mine.

The Speaker (Hon Allan K. McLean): The member for Etobicoke West and the member for Beaches-Woodbine.

Hon Mr Harris: We made announcements, as you had indicated earlier, of some reductions for next year and announced some tuition fee increases. At the same time, we have said there will be no more tuition fee hikes, there will be no more reductions until such time as a full study of post-secondary education is completed. The minister will be making announcements on that shortly. Unfortunately, he's not in the House today. We do want to examine this.

We want to see the full income-contingent loan program, on which we now have agreement from the federal government, under way at the same time as there are any further increases. We believe the practice the former government had of hiking tuition fees without looking at the income-contingent loan plan was wrong. We'd like to look at this, we'd like to review it, but I want to be up front, as I was in the campaign: I believe students should pay their fair share through tuition fees, and we will continue to ask them to do that.



Mr John L. Parker (York East): My question is for my friend the Minister of Citizenship, Culture and Recreation.

Mr Floyd Laughren (Nickel Belt): Spare us; we give up.

Mr Parker: I know this will be of interest to my honourable friends opposite. With the Advocacy Commission gone, where do vulnerable adults turn for help in trying to make themselves heard?

Hon Marilyn Mushinski (Minister of Citizenship, Culture and Recreation): I thank the member for York East for that question. The majority of advocacy services are already being provided by community-based organizations, families, friends and service providers. These groups will continue to provide their services to vulnerable persons.

The $3 million I announced today for our initiative will support and enhance the efforts of community-based organizations in a strategic and cost-effective manner. Almost all of these funds will be spent in the community. The commission's 1-800 line, 1-800-665-9092, is being maintained as a bridge until a community-based information and referral system is in place.

Mr Parker: Madam Minister, I'm sure that my honourable friends will also want to know, how will the government ensure that vulnerable adults are protected against abuse and neglect?

Hon Ms Mushinski: I appreciate that very good question from my colleague the member for York East. The ministries of Community and Social Services, Health and the Solicitor General will require accessible processes to address the concerns of vulnerable adults and their families within provincially funded or operated institutions through service contracts and performance agreements. We will work with professional organizations, community groups and institutions to develop protocols for use by professionals. The ministries of Community and Social Services, Health and Solicitor General will develop safeguards in provincially funded or operated institutions.

All ministries will provide information pertaining to the provincial legislation regarding abuse and neglect of vulnerable adults, for example, the Nursing Homes Act, Long-Term Care Act, Regulated Health Professions Act and Substitute Decisions Act. Just to repeat the commission's 1-800 line, it is 1-800-665-9092.


Mr Sean G. Conway (Renfrew North): My question is to the Minister of Energy. Six months ago, on 3 October 1995, you very proudly pronounced in this place that your government was freezing Hydro rates in this province for a five-year period. Against that backdrop, hundreds of thousands of Ontario electrical consumers are wanting to know why it is that they are now getting electricity bills that are showing real increases.

Minister, how is it on the one hand you promised the people of Ontario there would be a freeze of Ontario Hydro rates -- that statement you made on 3 October 1995 -- and now hundreds of thousands of Ontario electricity consumers are getting noticeable increases in their electricity bills for the same amount or less use?

Hon Brenda Elliott (Minister of Environment and Energy): I thank my colleague across the way for the question. What we did ask Ontario Hydro to do was to honour our request for a five-year freeze in rates. What we are able to ask as a government is Ontario Hydro to freeze their rates related to their wholesale rates. I believe 85% of the electricity is sold to municipal electrical utilities. They must, on top of that wholesale rate, charge their operating and distribution fees.

Mr Conway: I hope everyone listened, because let me repeat what the minister has said and what the government has done. Last October, the Harris government promised a rate freeze for five years, leaving the impression that rates would be frozen for everyone across the province. As the government caucus knows better than most people, what Ontario Hydro has now done is to offer a very substantial renovation of its rate structure.

What that is going to mean and what it is now meaning for hundreds of thousands of Ontario electricity consumers, hundreds of thousands of rural consumers and, yes, hundreds of thousands -- probably millions -- of Ontario's urban consumers is that their bills are going up. Hydro is restructuring its rates and the effect of that, as we speak, is that hundreds of thousands of people in both rural and urban Ontario are experiencing a noticeable increase in their electricity costs.

Will you table at your earliest convenience, this week or next, the changes Ontario Hydro is making to its rate structure and the impacts those changes in the rate structure will have on urban consumers in cities like Hamilton and on all those farmers and seasonable users who are phoning members of the Legislature and their local Hydro offices mad as hell because they believe you have either misled them or broken a promise?

Hon Mrs Elliott: The member opposite has questioned me frequently on Ontario Hydro. In each of his questions he frequently refers to how proud we are of Ontario Hydro and what an important investment we have to protect. Ontario Hydro is continuing to honour our request for a zero average rate freeze. As the largest public utility in the province of Ontario, they must have the flexibility to adjust their rates to be able to operate in an efficient manner and to begin to pay down a $33-billion debt. The corporation is acting in a businesslike manner and is indeed honouring our request for a zero average rate freeze.


Ms Marilyn Churley (Riverdale): My question as well is for the Minister of Environment and Energy. I have a very serious question for you today. As you know, on Monday night there was a leak of 1,000 litres of heavy water containing tritium at the Pickering nuclear power station. Hydro officials have admitted that the full effect will not be known for several days. I have here a briefing note from the Ministry of the Solicitor General and Correctional Services that says the spill occurred between 9 pm on Monday and 3 am on Tuesday but that officials at the Ajax-Pickering water supply plant were only notified at 1 pm yesterday. At what point did you know about the spill and what actions did you take?

Hon Brenda Elliott (Minister of Environment and Energy): The first thing I would like to say in response to the question is to assure the people who live in the area that as a result of that unfortunate spill of tritiated water at Pickering, testing has indicated that the water at the local treatment plants meets all acceptable Ontario water standards. Having said that, any incident of any nature is serious to us and we are concerned not only with reporting methods but how it is handled at the time.

The first organization to be notified of this was the Emergency Measures Organization. Notified as well were the medical officers of health, our action centre, the Atomic Energy Control Board and the Emergency Measures Organization. Our office was not notified for some time. We had a protocol put together in November 1995, and I would agree with the member opposite that our office should have been notified sooner. It was not, and we have asked Ontario Hydro to remedy that in the future.

Ms Churley: There was a 10-hour delay between the spill and the water authorities being notified. As far as I know, anyway, as of 1:20 today the water intake pipes were still shut down. Obviously the medical officer of health has been concerned and is still concerned that there's a problem. Our staff have been told that Hydro's initial modelling showed a leak of 30,000 becquerels, a level that would have been very, very high. Fortunately, luckily, this was a worst-case scenario, but at that time that's what the modelling showed.

But nobody called the Ajax-Pickering water supply plant until 10 hours later. That is the issue here. When water officials were finally told, they shut the plant's intake valves. This was at 1:15. What if those levels had been as high as the modelling suggested? What would you have told the member for Durham West about why you let potentially radioactive water slip into her constituents' drinking water? We know she's been getting calls because our office has been getting calls.

Minister, this could have been a very serious situation. I ask you again, what went wrong in the process? Did you know, when did you know, and what did you do about it?

Hon Mrs Elliott: According to the information we have received, the appropriate people were notified at the appropriate times. The tritium, however small -- sampling indicated it was at 18 to 20 becquerels. The Ontario interim guideline for safe drinking water is 7,000 becquerels per litre.



Mrs Lillian Ross (Hamilton West): Recently I tabled a petition in the House concerning the intersection at Highway 6 and Twenty Road. The residents are very concerned about that intersection. It's very busy, it's on the way to Hamilton Airport, and they'd like some improvements made there. Can you please tell me the status of those improvements?

Hon Al Palladini (Minister of Transportation): I'd like to thank the honourable member for Hamilton West for her question and also for her interest in safety in the Hamilton-Wentworth area.

I am pleased to report that the ministry has been coordinating and discussing the required improvements with the town of Glenbrook and local communities. The proposed improvements are going to be a realignment and widening of Twenty Road to provide for a three-lane cross-section at the intersection, pavement resurfacing and upgrading of the guard-rails. Provisions to accommodate the future installation of signals is obviously the end result. The ministry has incorporated the intersection improvements into a larger project which we will get.

Mrs Ross: Mr Minister, can you please tell me when those improvements will take place?

Hon Mr Palladini: I would like to mention again to the honourable member that a public consultation session is planned later this year to present the ministry's design and receive public comments. We are preparing for construction at the very earliest opportunity. Once we have received environmental clearance and the property is made available, we will begin the project.


Mr Mike Colle (Oakwood): I have a question of the Minister of Economic Development, Trade and Tourism. Mr Minister, I don't know if you're aware, but all over this province the price of gasoline is going through the roof: in Elliot Lake, for instance, it is 68.9 cents; in Red Lake it's gone up to 71.4 cents; in the GTA it's gone up to 59.9 cents.

This skyrocketing of gas prices is making it very difficult for ordinary Ontarians to meet all the added costs which they face as ordinary taxpayers. On top of that, small business across Ontario finds this skyrocketing of gas prices almost the straw that's going to break the camel's back. In other words, we're going to lose all kinds of jobs in this province if this gouging with gasoline prices continues by the big oil companies.

As the minister in charge of jobs and economic development, at what point are you going to step in and protect the interests of jobs and ordinary Ontarians who are being gouged by the big oil companies?

Hon William Saunderson (Minister of Economic Development, Trade and Tourism): Of course my ministry is concerned about anything that might cause any difficulty as far as tourism is concerned, but I have to say to you that having -- and I'm sure you have done this too -- been to other provinces and other countries, that actually Ontario motorists enjoy the most competitive gasoline prices, I think, in the world.

The gasoline prices are a bit higher in northern Ontario because there are a number of factors in northern Ontario that create the higher cost and a little lower level of competition. As you know, the government does compensate northern motorists for the highest costs by forgoing registration fees for vehicles. I think, when you consider, that we in this province have much to be thankful for as far as -- if you're in the tourist business, you will find that the price of gasoline is not a deterrent to our tourist industry.

Mr Colle: My concern is not just about tourism and it's not just about northern Ontario. I don't know if the minister realizes, but over the last month the price of gas has gone up 10% per litre and it's not just affecting tourists. There are all kinds of businesses that rely on affordable fuel to run their business and keep people working. How many more months of increases will it take before you will say something or do something to protect all businesses in Ontario who are basically being jeopardized by these increases?

I'm not talking about the differential between the north and the south because all over Ontario there's been, as I said, a dramatic 10% increase over the last month. What happens if there's another 10%? Never mind tourism, we're going to lose all kinds of companies who are right now on the edge. What are you going to do to ensure that these companies, the oil companies and their gouging, don't put people out of work?

Hon Mr Saunderson: To the member for Oakwood, I'm glad he mentioned the words "small business" because I want to tell him a little bit about what we are doing to help small business. You know that very shortly we are going to reduce the personal income tax rate and that is going to be a big help to small business.

We don't want to keep up with the tax increases we put up with from your party and that party there over the last 10 years. I don't know how many times we have to come back and tell you the real story about what creates jobs: that's creating the right business climate and that's what creates jobs, and it always will. That's what we're doing.


Ms Shelley Martel (Sudbury East): I have a question to the Minister of Natural Resources. In February 1995 your leader, now the Premier, told the Kenora District Municipal Association that the Conservative Party would restore the reputation of the Ministry of Natural Resources, and he said in particular, and I quote: "In the past 10 years it" -- the MNR -- "has been reduced to a shambles of what it used to be." Last Thursday, Minister, your Conservative government gutted the Ministry of Natural Resources. The budget is being chopped by $137 million and you are laying off 2,100 staff. That represents 20% of all the layoffs across the public service.

Minister, you are closing down 20 MNR facilities in northern Ontario in small communities where there will be a very serious impact. I want to ask you today, how many of those 2,100 positions to be lost will be eliminated in northern Ontario and what will the impact be in our small communities?

Hon Chris Hodgson (Minister of Natural Resources, Northern Development and Mines): I'd like to thank the member of the third party for the question. I think when the Premier spoke back in February 1995, and our party committed to regain the status of the MNR, we were talking more in terms of pride in bringing it back to its position of prominence as one of the best ministries in the Ontario government. I think, if you take a look at our reorganization and the announcements last week, you will see that this ministry once again retained its role of leadership.

I do want, though, to clear up some things in answer specifically to your question. Of the reductions, of the 2,175, that's from a base of over 7,000 in 1991. It will be reduced to a ministry base of 4,691. This reduction is based on the function of the ministry. We've built business cases, including the parks, forest management, fish and wildlife. The parks will have revenue retention. This is very positive news for the north.

Of the total staffing in the MNR, as the NDP would know, 50% is in northern Ontario, 50% in southern Ontario. If you take a look at the reductions of the 2,175, 55% of those reductions occurred in southern Ontario, 45% in northern Ontario. So if you say I'm favouring northern Ontario, I'm guilty, but it's based on function.

If you take a look at the reductions on the front-line services, it's based on solid business planning. I'd be pleased to go into more detail on this at a future date.


Mr David S. Cooke (Windsor-Riverside): Mr Speaker, I rise today on a point of order relating to a series of incidents which occurred in the Legislature last Thursday afternoon. I will be as brief as possible.

Last Thursday, this Legislature proceeded to an order of the day which had not been called by the government House leader or any minister of the crown standing in his or her place. If you will review Hansard -- and I can say that I reviewed Hansard, both the written Hansard and the video Hansard, in reviewing whether or not proper procedures had been followed -- you will have to reach the same conclusion.

Standing order 54 is very clear: "Except as otherwise provided in these standing orders, government business will be taken up in the discretion of the government House leader or a minister acting in his or her place."

You insisted last Thursday in the House that debate on the second order, resumed debate on Bill 34, was under way, yet if you review Hansard, you will discover that the second order was called by you, not a minister of the government, not a minister of the crown. Obviously, this is of grave concern to all opposition members of the Legislature.

In the sixth edition of Beauchesne, this point is made very clear: "It is one of the fundamental principles of parliamentary procedure that when nothing is done respecting an order of business, it is struck out and cannot make further progress until the procedure regulating its passage has been regulated by the House. Neither the Speaker nor any officer of the House have the power to move it forward."

We would certainly concur with Beauchesne. Having the Speaker determine which order is government business in the Legislature is not just out of order; it is very unsettling.

I respectfully suggest that you have no choice but to rule that the debate which occurred last Thursday on Bill 34 was out of order. Once that ruling is made, I believe you will agree that upon resumption of the debate, my colleague the member for Algoma has the floor.

The Speaker (Hon Allan K. McLean): The House will recess for five minutes and I will come back with a decision.

The House recessed from 1524 to 1531.

The Speaker: I wish to inform the members that whether Hansard has recorded the calling of the government order by a minister or whether the calling is recorded or not on electronic Hansard is not the issue here. I can assure the honourable member that I remember very clearly the order being called by the House leader of the government, Mr Eves, before the commencement of the points of order. Further, immediately before the table officers read the order, the honourable minister without portfolio, the member for Burlington South, again called the order. Therefore, this debate had commenced and the member for St Catharines-Brock had the floor. That's the end of the ruling.

Mr James J. Bradley (St Catharines): On a point of order, Mr Speaker: If it is not recorded in Hansard and it is not recorded on the electronic Hansard -- and this is often, as I say, last week -- then outside of our memories, how are we to know that is the case? My own recollection is that I don't recall a minister being recognized. You mentioned the member for Burlington South. I don't recall his being recognized. I think he may have interjected from the sideline, but I can't recall that he was actually recognized to call the order. That was my recollection. I wonder, when it's not recorded -- I heard the government House leader say it's never recorded -- in Hansard or in the electronic Hansard, how do we determine whether it happened or not, especially when it was like last week?

The Speaker: My information is that Votes and Proceedings is the official Hansard and apparently I distinctly remember the House leader calling the order.

Ms Frances Lankin (Beaches-Woodbine): On a point of order, Mr Speaker: It's very difficult because I know I'm not in a position to appeal your ruling. I guess what I want to appeal to you here is for you to think again about your recollection, because I sat here through that entire period as well and was one of the people who rose on a point of order which interrupted the House leader from proceeding with calling orders of the day. He was never recognized and never called orders of the day, although he valiantly tried. I must indicate that the continuing number of points of order that were arising on this side of the House pre-empted the government from calling the orders of the day at that point in time.

I'm finding it very difficult to accept a ruling based on your recollection when there is absolutely no record in Hansard and where the clear recollection of the members in the House and the whole point, if I may say, at the point in time of the issues being raised under points of order was to prevent the government to get to calling orders of the day and proceeding with the debate on that bill for a number of reasons, in terms of what was going on in the House. Quite frankly, it amazes me that today you have a recollection that something absolutely different happened.

May I also say that you proceeded to go on when you indicated that you were going to accept that an order had been called, in absent -- we would put -- of it having been called, to recognize a member of the government back bench to proceed with the debate, when at that time, if you were proceeding with that order and you were proceeding with debate, it should have properly come back to our party and our leader who had the floor at that time. You never looked to our party, you never looked for that member, you never looked to proceed with that individual.

But I want to come back to the original point, which is that we were all very clearly at that point in time listening and watching and attempting to stop the government from actually being able to call the point of order, which we did successfully, until now. Your recollection somehow is reinterpreting what happened that day, and quite frankly, I think this is a very serious issue and I think that if you cannot rely on the Hansards here, you should at least go back and review the electronic Hansard and the tapes and the video, because you will find at no point in time was a government minister recognized and able to place a call for the orders of the day.

Mr Cooke: Mr Speaker, on that exact last point, I reviewed the video. In order for a cabinet minister or an acting House leader to call the order, you would have to have recognized that person. You can't just have an acting House leader yelling out what the order is to be called and then say you recognize that. But I watched the video; I watched it twice. You never once recognized the individual who was the acting House leader.

Mr Speaker, I understand the desire to be able to proceed, but on occasion you would really reinforce the confidence that all of us would want to have in a Speaker by recognizing that a mistake was made last Thursday and that as a result of that mistake, Bill 34 was not called that day.

I watched the video. You are wrong. You are dead wrong. It is black and white. I don't think it is fair that you are ruling the way you are ruling this afternoon when the evidence is absolutely clear.

The Speaker: I must repeat again that I did hear the honourable member and I called orders of the day.

Mr Cooke: Did you recognize him? That's the question.

The Speaker: I called for orders of the day.


The Speaker: The end of the debate.

Petitions. The member for Downsview.

Mr Cooke: That does it, Al. No credibility at all. He wasn't recognized at all and you know it. Why don't you just wear your PC cap on your head?

The Speaker: Order.

Mr Cooke: Absolutely ridiculous. There was nobody recognized at all. Talk about bias, absolute bias.

Mr Floyd Laughren (Nickel Belt): You want this place to function, do you? You want better decorum in this place, don't you? You have a funny way of getting it, I'll tell you that.

The Speaker: The member for Downsview has the floor.



Ms Annamarie Castrilli (Downsview): I rise today to read a petition to the Parliament of Ontario which is signed by a number of Ontario residents, duplicating the language of an earlier petition signed by 15,000 people which was refused entry, and it reads:

"Whereas the government of Ontario has announced its intention to reduce provincial grants to primary and secondary education by 10%, colleges by 13% and universities by more than 15% in fiscal 1996-97; and

"This reduction in provincial funding will cause increased class sizes at all levels of education, massive increases in college and university tuition fees and decreased quality of education because of fewer program and course offerings at all levels of education and reduction of teachers, staff, library resources and services; and

"This funding reduction will decrease accessibility to our colleges and universities for the children of working-class and middle-class Ontarians; and

"Education is essential to a civilized society and a productive economy;

"We, the undersigned, petition this Parliament to reverse the decisions made by the present government as to the funding reductions in primary, secondary and post-secondary education announced in the statement by Finance Minister Mr Ernie Eves, QC, MPP, on November 29, 1995; and

"That this Parliament examine through public hearings all aspects of the post-secondary education system in the province of Ontario; and

"That no college or university tuition fee increases or funding reductions be permitted until this study is completed and its recommendations are considered by this Parliament; and

"Finally, that this Parliament declare by means of resolution that education is common sense."

I'm pleased to sign this petition.

The Speaker (Hon Allan K. McLean): Further petitions?


Mr David S. Cooke (Windsor-Riverside): Mr Speaker, I think you need 30 minutes to go look at the tape. I move adjournment of the House.

The Speaker (Hon Allan K. McLean): Mr Cooke has moved the adjournment of the House. Is it the pleasure of the House that the motion carry?

All those in favour, say "aye."

All those opposed, say "nay."

In my opinion, the nays have it.

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

The division bells rang from 1540 to 1610.

The Speaker: Will the members take their seats, please.

All those in favour of Mr Cooke's motion will please rise and remain standing. Be seated.

All those opposed will please rise and remain standing.

Clerk of the House (Mr Claude L. DesRosiers): The ayes are 18; the nays are 61.

The Speaker: I declare the motion lost.



Mr Len Wood (Cochrane North): "Whereas on April 11, 1996, we were advised by the Ministry of Natural Resources of the government's announcement of a major restructuring which is based on bringing a more businesslike approach to government and includes a number of cost-saving measures to bring greater efficiency" to the program; and

"Whereas, as part of this major restructuring, it is the intention of the government to relocate the regional offices of the Ministry of Natural Resources from Cochrane to the city of Timmins; and

"Whereas this initiative will result in loss of approximately 42 positions, and more than $2 million worth of annual income from our community of 4,500 people, before taking into consideration the impacts on the service sector and other ministries that are being restructured; and

"Whereas the closure of the Ministry of Natural Resources regional offices in Cochrane will not only have a devastating impact on the local economy but will also affect the continuing viability of the town of Cochrane;

"Now therefore be it resolved that the municipal council of the corporation of the town of Cochrane expresses its profound objection to the government's proposal to relocate the Ministry of Natural Resources regional offices" out of Cochrane "and requests that an impact analysis study be conducted prior to the relocation of the ministry positions from the town of Cochrane; and

"Be it further resolved that this resolution be forwarded to the Honourable Mike Harris, Premier of Ontario, and the Honourable Chris Hodgson, Minister of Natural Resources and of Northern Development and Mines...and to all the municipalities within the district of Cochrane."

I affix my name to the petition.


Mr Gary Fox (Prince Edward-Lennox-South Hastings): I have a petition signed here by the secondary school teachers of Lennox and Addington.

"Whereas the public secondary teachers of Ontario have taken a workplace democracy vote in accordance with Bill 7, and have rejected the proposed College of Teachers by a 94.8% vote, we, the undersigned, urge the provincial assembly to instruct the government to withdraw Bill 31, the Ontario College of Teachers Act, 1995."


Mr 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've affixed my signature.


Ms Frances Lankin (Beaches-Woodbine): "To the Legislative Assembly of Ontario:

"Whereas the Harris government pushed through Bill 26, which invades the privacy rights of all Ontarians;

"We, the undersigned, petition the Legislative Assembly of Ontario for more extensive public hearings to defeat this bill and restore the privacy of all Ontarians."

That's signed by 535 constituents.


Mrs Janet Ecker (Durham West): I rise today to present a petition that was given to me on behalf of several of my constituents. It outlines their concerns about Bill 31, the Ontario College of Teachers.

Interjection: Read it.

Mrs Ecker: I don't need to read it, because it has just been read by my colleague to my immediate right.

I respect the opinion of my constituents and I will table this and affix my signature.


Mr Dominic Agostino (Hamilton East): This is a petition to the Legislative Assembly of Ontario.

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

"Whereas in 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'" --

Interjection: Not one cent.

Mr Agostino: That's right, not one cent -- "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 health task force as related to any hospital closures in Hamilton-Wentworth, in particular St Joseph's Hospital, 50 Charlton Avenue East."

I affix my signature to the petition.


Mr David Christopherson (Hamilton Centre): I have further petitions from UFCW Local 1000A over the signature of Dan Gilbert.

"To the Legislative Assembly of Ontario:

"We, the undersigned, oppose your government's plan to dismantle the workers' compensation system, including reducing benefits; excluding claims for repetitive strain injuries, muscle 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 and that the WCAT be left intact and that the WCB bipartite board of directors be reinstated."

I show my support by adding my name to theirs.


Mrs Sandra Pupatello (Windsor-Sandwich): My petition regards the maintenance of funding to St Mary's Family Learning Centre.

"To the Legislative Assembly of Ontario:

"We, the undersigned residents of Windsor and Essex county, Ontario, draw the attention of the Legislative Assembly to the following:

"Whereas St Mary's Family Learning Centre of Windsor Inc, being funded by the Ministry of Community and Social Services (child care dollars) provides support and educational opportunities for parents, home child care providers and resources for licensed child care centres to approximately 500 adults and 2,000 children;

"Whereas St Mary's Family Learning Centre of Windsor Inc relies on donations, user fees and volunteerism as well as Ministry of Community and Social Services funding to provide current services;

"Whereas only 3% of the total Ministry of Community and Social Services child care budget is spent on family resource programs such as St Mary's Family Learning Centre to support families who choose home child care as an option;

"Whereas all families pay taxes that support child care but a vast majority of the current child care budget is spent on licensed child care spaces that are used by only 8.5% of the children;

"Whereas the other 91.5% of families have few publicly funded services available to them;

"Therefore your petitioners call upon the Legislative Assembly to maintain funding to St Mary's Family Learning Centre."

I give it my support with my signature.


Ms Frances Lankin (Beaches-Woodbine): "To the Legislative Assembly of Ontario:

"Whereas the Harris government plans to sell public housing,

"We, the undersigned, petition the Legislative Assembly of Ontario not to privatize public housing and allow for public hearings."

This has been signed by 287 constituents, and I affix my signature to the same.



Mr Dwight Duncan (Windsor-Walkerville): "We, the undersigned residents of Windsor and Essex county, Ontario, draw the attention of the Legislative Assembly to the following:

"Whereas St Mary's Family Learning Centre of Windsor Inc, being funded by the Ministry of Community and Social Services (child care dollars) provides support and educational opportunities for parents, home child care providers and resources for licensed child care centres to approximately 500 adults and 2,000 children; and

"Whereas St Mary's Family Learning Centre of Windsor Inc relies on donations, user fees and volunteerism as well as Ministry of Community and Social Services funding to provide current services; and

"Whereas only 3% of the total Ministry of Community and Social Services child care budget is spent on family resource programs such as St Mary's Family Learning Centre to support families who choose home child care as an option; and

"Whereas all families pay taxes that support child care but a vast majority of the current child care budget is spent on licensed child care spaces that are used by only 8.5% of children; and

"Whereas the other 91.5% of families have few publicly funded services available to them;

"Therefore, your petitioners call upon the Legislative Assembly to maintain funding to St Mary's Family Learning Centre."

I, along with hundreds of my fellow citizens, affix my signature to this petition.


Mr David Christopherson (Hamilton Centre): I have a petition to the assembly and 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 show my support by adding my name.


Mr Dan Newman (Scarborough Centre): I have a petition signed by a number of Ontario residents. The petition reads as follows:

"We, the undersigned, petition the Legislative Assembly of Ontario to proceed as quickly as possible with legislation to reduce our provincial tax rates as promised during the last provincial election, and we call on all members of the Parliament of Ontario to support the government in its promise to reduce provincial income tax rates in Ontario."

I have affixed my name to that petition.


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."

I affix my name to it, as I believe in it.


Ms Frances Lankin (Beaches-Woodbine): "To the Legislative Assembly:

"We, the undersigned, petition the Legislative Assembly to withdraw Bill 26, the Savings and Restructuring Act, 1995.

"We object to the bill because it terminates the partnership between the government and the physicians to manage health care on a joint basis; gives unilateral power to the Minister of Health to make cuts and dictate medical practice. This is not good medicine for our health care."

There are 249 signatures here, and I have affixed my signature to the same.


Mr James J. Bradley (St Catharines): I have a petition signed by several residents of the Niagara Peninsula that reads as follows:

"To the government of Ontario:

"Whereas the government of Ontario appears to be moving towards 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 products 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 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'm in agreement with its contents.



Mr Smith from the standing committee on regulations and private bills presented the committee's report which was read as follows and adopted:

Your committee begs to report the following bills without amendment:

Bill Pr50, An Act respecting the Town of Milton

Bill Pr53, An Act respecting the Association of Ontario Road Superintendents

Bill Pr56, An Act respecting the Association of Registered Graphic Designers of Ontario.



Mr Eves moved first reading of the following bill:

Bill 44, An Act to amend the Election Act / Projet de loi 44, Loi modifiant la Loi électorale.

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

Hon Ernie L. Eves (Deputy Premier, Minister of Finance and Government House Leader): Just very briefly, this bill will allow the use of last June's voters' list for the York South by-election. This avoids the expense of enumerating voters for the second time in less than a year. The chief election officer has estimated the cost of a new enumeration for that one riding would be in the neighbourhood of $55,000.

I might add that this bill parallels what is in use in the federal House of Parliament. It also gives residents of the riding a new right to get themselves on the voters' list on the day of the election at the polling station. Under the current act, people have to go to the returning office before election day to do this. This new flexibility would minimize any possible inconvenience in using an 11-month-old voters' list. I am pleased to say that members of the other parties have indicated they support this piece of legislation, and we look forward to its speedy passage.



Resuming the adjourned debate on the motion for second reading of Bill 34, An Act to amend the Education Act / Projet de loi 34, Loi modifiant la Loi sur l'éducation.

The Deputy Speaker (Mr Bert Johnson): The member for St Catharines-Brock has the floor. In his absence, the Chair recognizes the member for Sudbury.

Mr Rick Bartolucci (Sudbury): I look forward to spending the next little while outlining some of my views on Bill 34. It's a bill entitled An Act to amend the Education Act, in order to implement their $400-million reduction in transfer payments to school boards. In fact, what it does is not only trim administrative fat, it alters education in Ontario drastically and forever. It will take years for the people of Ontario, the children of Ontario, and the students of Ontario to recover from the damage that's going to be done by Bill 34.

Let me outline for a little while why we shouldn't be doing this, even though the government is bent on ensuring that their 30% tax cut is on the backs of Ontario students. Let me outline a few reasons why we shouldn't be doing this.

We have much to be proud of in our system of education. The last comprehensive survey done for parents with regard to education in Ontario was done by the previous government, by the then Minister of Education, whose results were indicative of indeed how the people of Ontario are thinking, were thinking and continue to think education is in Ontario.


We found out early in the studies that there was an 84% secondary school graduation rate in the province of Ontario. That was higher than the Canadian average of 82%. We found out that post-secondary education participation rate was 50% in Ontario, 10% higher than the Canadian average of 40%.

Contrary to what the now Minister of Education would have you believe, that Ontario spends the greatest amount of dollars per pupil to educate students, in reality, Ontario's per-pupil expenditure is sixth in Canada after the Northwest Territories, the Yukon, Quebec, British Columbia and Manitoba. Despite claims that our educational costs are the highest in the world, in actuality, 28 neighbouring US states spend more than Ontario does on a per-pupil basis and we are in the mid-range of educational expenditure on a per-pupil basis.

Most importantly, the survey found that the partners in education, the primary educators, the parents, are very satisfied with the quality of education in Ontario. In this survey commissioned by the Minister of Education, there was a 70% compliance rate on the part of parents that Ontario's schools are excellent or good, a 90% rate of parents surveyed said they had regular contact with their child's elementary teacher, and there was a 77% rate stating there was good communication between the secondary school panel of teachers and secondary school teachers and parents. When surveyed about the quality of their child's education, 70% rated the quality as being either excellent or good.

This was the last valid, comprehensive survey of parents conducted by the Ministry of Education, but what does it mean? What do all these numbers mean? Quite simply, it means our educational system is far better than the Minister of Education would have the public believe. He has created, or has tried to create a crisis of community and parental dissatisfaction towards teachers and the educational system, but he hasn't been successful. It's been to no avail. Parents, the public, by and large value the educational system we have presently, and are fearful.

There were three instances in the survey that parents were concerned about, the first being the quality of education based on expenditures in education. In other words, the people of Ontario, the parents of Ontario's students, do not want $400 million withdrawn out of this bill, Bill 34; they do not want an addition $337 million withdrawn from the business plan which was filed by the minister last week.

The same survey indicated there was a 77% approval rating for the way teachers are assessing students' performance, a 75% approval rating for teachers' professional abilities to listen to parental concerns and respond to them, and a 73% approval rating for the way teachers are meeting the needs of learners. The minister's attempt to create a crisis of confidence in the system will not be successful. These numbers indicate he is not being successful.

Well, then, what does Bill 34 do for education? First of all, it makes junior kindergarten, as we know it, a program of the past. It may not happen this year, but it's going to happen. Junior kindergarten programs, when they are category 3 in importance, as a local board option, will not be able to be afforded by local boards. So if it doesn't happen this year, it will happen next year. The junior kindergarten program, as we see it, as we've known it, will not exist in the future. This year of valuable learning, of social interaction and of indeed readiness for future years of learning will be gone. All studies indicate that children who start in early education programs are better able to meet the demands placed on them as they progress in any educational system.

Senior kindergarten is, at best, on hold. It's in a holding pattern and those boards that were progressive enough to institute full-day kindergarten will certainly have to re-evaluate their priority of early childhood education. That's sad, because senior kindergarten, that most important year of reading and mathematical readiness for the primary and junior years, is so valuable to the student that increasing it on a full-day basis provided classroom teachers with the opportunity to develop a theme and carry it through to its entirety. Full-day kindergarten will be but a dream in the years to come. Senior kindergarten, half-time basis, certainly is in a holding pattern.

Let's talk for a second about specialty programs at the elementary level. Family studies, technical studies, guidance counselling, to mention but a few, are all gone. Family studies, gone; tech studies, gone; elementary guidance programs, gone. The weakest and the most vulnerable of our students will be the ones most tragically affected. If we look at the high school level, you can see now the direction for some boards. Because of the limitations being placed on those boards by this government with Bill 34, you will see basic level allocation, gone; resource allocation, gone; self-contained allocation, gone; special education allocation, gone; identified student allocation, gone; guidance allocation, gone; co-op education, gone.


Mr Bartolucci: A few members across the way think that might not be important, but when you're talking about those students who require extra assistance, you're talking about a basic level allocation that is extremely important for those students to get off the cycle of dependency. If you're looking at students who have reading difficulty, who suffer from a particular physical or mental handicap, your resource allocation is extremely important and you cannot treat it lightly and you cannot make it a part of the sacrifice you have to pay for a 30% tax cut.

There will be, no doubt, less time for special education and for classroom teachers to coordinate and to deliver the programs those individual students need, and for those specialized programs that are essential for those students who do not have average or above-average capabilities. They need specialized allocation. They need specialized programming. Do you know what? School boards will have to sacrifice that because there just won't be the money for it.

Let me tell you that gone will be the student assistants who are so vitally needed for the developmentally delayed children, the EMR students, for students experiencing severe academic and behaviour limitations. These students require specialties. They require not only the help of qualified, dedicated, well-trained staff, but also the help of trained assistants. School boards will just not be able to afford it. They will be gone as well, and gone will be the sensitivity which helped make Ontario's school system the envy of most jurisdictions. That sensitivity is shown in so many different ways. It is shown mostly by the compassionate, caring approaches of those individuals who are involved with those children. They just won't be there for those children. Those children will be left alone and they will not survive the system. What this government promotes trying to do will in fact happen in the reverse and we will be increasing that level of dependency.


For any of us who have had students go through a school system, we can forget the co-curricular activities. They won't survive the boards' axing that will have to be done, not because they want to do it but because they're forced by this government to do it. Gone will be extracurricular programs. Forget your athletic program after school; it's not going to exist. Forget the drama clubs. Forget the science club. Forget the United Nations clubs that exist in many of the high schools. They just won't be there because there won't be the resources for them to be there.

Forget the enriched programs as well; they're gone.

Mr Chris Stockwell (Etobicoke West): What does that mean?

Mr Bartolucci: Forget those students who are at the other end of the spectrum -- the Chris Stockwells of the world, the gifted students, forget them. They're just not going to be able to get the assistance and the nurturing they require to develop to their full potential. Forget the outdoor education program; it's gone. Forget all those extracurricular activities that you feel your students benefited from, your children benefited from in elementary and secondary school, because they're gone, there's no question.

The sad reality of Bill 34 is that the so-called stated toolkit objectives will not be achieved. Ultimately, the exact opposite will occur.

Cuts as outlined in Bill 34 will produce a system akin to the United States system, enunciated so well in their document entitled A Nation At Risk. Why would we want to have what is considered to be a world-leading educational system go the way of the United States and become not a nation but a province at risk?

The long-term effects of Bill 34 will be a more expensive system. There will be more vandalism. There will be more dropouts. There will be increased violence and there will be deteriorating facilities. In fact, what you will have is a breakdown of the total system from the buildings, from the bricks and mortar to the minds of the children, a system that cannot be supported, nurtured or fostered by a provincial government without the sacrifices you're asking those students, those boards and the system in general to make for a 30% tax cut. There's absolutely no rationale behind it.

There are so many ways they're impacted upon through Bill 34. You will know that part of the savings was a freeze on capital projects. There's a letter here from the Sudbury District Roman Catholic Separate School Board that outlines how poorly thought out this reduction in educational expenditures is, and it says:

"Dear Minister:

"The recent announcement on the funding cuts in the order of $400 million for elementary and secondary education in Ontario includes a $167-million freeze on capital projects. It is our understanding that a number of capital construction projects will be delayed. Our board of trustees strongly objects to the freeze placed on the construction of the final phase of l'école secondaire l'Horizon."

You have to understand, two thirds of the school is done, but the third phase will not be completed. Is it going to affect bricks and mortar of existing buildings? Absolutely. Phase 3 of this high school will not be completed. Obviously they want a meeting with the minister, and I would encourage him to meet with them as quickly as possible to try to have some resolution to this particular problem.

But let's decide and let's come to grips with what we will have left once Bill 34 is enacted. As proven by this letter that I just finished reading, you're going to have fewer classrooms. No question about that. You're going to have, obviously then, fewer schools. No question about that.

We see school boards all over Ontario closing down schools, schools that normally would not be closed, but they're forced to close schools to try to come to some type of resolution with the problem the minister has put in the hands of school boards. You're going to have obviously fewer teachers. You're going to have fewer young, creative, dynamic teachers. They're just not going to be in the system.

What are you going to have more of? You're going to have more double grades, you're going to have more triple grading. That's a reality in some parts of Ontario already and that's going to increase. You're going to have classrooms with grade 1, 2 and 3 students in them; grade 4, 5 and 6 students; grade 5, 6 and 7 students. It is ridiculous; it's the wrong approach to use.

Finally, you're going to have a system that we can say is now not the world leader, is not the system you would want your children to go through in the future, and the reason for it is the 30% tax cut.

Mr James J. Bradley (St Catharines): I would like to commend the member on an outstanding contribution to the debate on Bill 34. He outlined many of the ramifications of the provisions of this bill, ramifications which will be felt right in the front line of education, that is, in the classroom.

I know there's a theory out there that somehow all we're dealing with is administrative matters, the so-called fat in education. Over the past few years there has been a concerted effort; as our colleagues from the New Democratic Party in their latter years were compelled to restrict funding to boards of education because of the economic circumstances, we found that much of the so-called fat that was in there was removed.

There's a theory out there that somehow there are layers and layers and layers of administration. If that were the case at one time, as I think the member has appropriately pointed out, that is not the issue at this time. We're now down to direct services to students.

I recognize there are always people who will make the case that if you make an investment now, the expenditure now, it will save you money later. That's often valid -- it's not always valid, but it's often valid -- and I think it is in the case of education. He mentioned junior kindergarten, for instance, and I've said in this House on a number of occasions that if you'd asked me a dozen years ago whether junior kindergarten was a priority in terms of funding and education, I probably would have said it was not. I would change considerably that viewpoint today, because there have been so many independent objective and thoughtful studies which have been produced to show the real and genuine benefit to education and to our society that I think the member is appropriate in raising this issue in his speech.

The Acting Speaker (Ms Marilyn Churley): Further questions and comments? If not the member foe Sudbury has two minutes.

Mr Bartolucci: Just let me tell you in my closing remarks, it's the hope of every teacher, it's the hope of every parent, and it should be the hope of every politician in Ontario that when a child comes to school, or when a student enters the school system at whatever level, the total child is educated. Teachers know the importance of not only educating the academic component of the child, but parents and teachers and politicians, at least at the local level, have known all along that the social aspect of child development is extremely important, the physical aspect is so important, the mental aspects and the academic. The total child must be considered when talking about education.

You can't do that if you have to sacrifice programs at the local level to comply with a ministry directive. It clearly makes no sense at all to send children to school, to a publicly funded system, when you know the product you're going to have to deliver to that student is inferior. That's never, ever been the intent of any provincial government in Ontario in the past. The intent was always to provide the best program, the most complete program and the most dedicated program for students in our system. Clearly, if Bill 34 is enacted, that will not be the case and the education of the students of Ontario will be damaged forever.


The Acting Speaker: Further debate?

Mr Rosario Marchese (Fort York): I'm quite happy to be here today to talk to the whole issue of Bill 34, An Act to amend the Education Act. I want to begin by repeating some of the words the Minister of Education and Training said just the other day, because I agree with those remarks.

"Ontarians place a high value on education because they know it's an essential part of plans to restore jobs and prosperity to our province. Since 1990, nearly all new jobs in Ontario have gone to workers with post-secondary education and training. The emerging information-based economy will put an even greater premium on learning. In increasingly competitive world markets, high-paying, productive jobs for Ontario will be available only if people are equipped with the necessary knowledge and skills."

Then he goes on to say, "The need to maintain and improve quality education programming while bringing our spending to a more suitable level is clear."

I agreed with literally everything he said except the last comment. We do put a high premium on education, all of us do, but some of us say we do, and that's not good enough.

I want to expose some of the problems this government has introduced by way of this bill and give some background, generally speaking, around issues of education, so that once I get to Bill 34 and its constituent parts, people will have a better sense of what I'm getting at.

The minister brings together a toolkit, and the toolkit really is nothing more than cutting in education. That's really what this bill is all about. It's a toolkit that continually cuts into education funding. Does this bill, as a tool, offer any help to teachers? It doesn't. Does this bill, as a tool, help the teachers in the classrooms? It doesn't. Does it improve the teaching methodology that teachers use in the classrooms so that they're able to reach students more effectively? It doesn't do that. Does it address the issue of hunger and how it affects learning in the classroom? It doesn't do that. Does it address the issue of poverty in the classroom and how that affects learning and how that affects equality of opportunity, as many people like to speak about? It doesn't do that at all.

In fact, this bill merely cuts away at educational funding and therefore contradicts the stated purpose the Minister of Education spoke about when he said the need to maintain and improve quality education programming is important.

How does he do that when he's cutting $400 million now and $400 million from before, which, when annualized, as our leader has said, amounts to $1 billion? How does it help education, teachers, students and parents? And how does it bring about educational equality, equality of access and equality of opportunity? It doesn't do that. It does not do that in any way whatsoever.

This government uses the figure Mr Sweeney has offered, and they like to say there's plenty of room to cut because 47% of what is spent in education, he says and the Conservatives agree fully, it seems, is for non-classroom purposes.

Mr Garry J. Guzzo (Ottawa-Rideau): You hired him.

Mr Marchese: That's fine. We hire people to do studies. Of course we don't always agree with everything written by people we hire to do things. I'm sure you'll agree with that.

But when he says the 47% is money that can be cut because it doesn't affect the classroom, he is wrong and all of you are wrong in supporting it and promoting that view. I'll explain why.

How do department heads of history, of English, of geography, become people you could easily cut, when they're classroom teachers? How do vice-principals, who have a great deal of administrative work in the classroom dealing with students and teachers and parents, become either redundant or something you can cut? How do principals, who are included in this 47%, become redundant or people you can cut when they have a whole school to administer? How do superintendents, who are counted in that figure, become redundant or people you can cut?

I would remind some of you that most boards of education have already done the cutting, reducing the number of superintendents they have in their boards as a way of saving some money -- at some cost, I would say, in some areas, because I think they play an important role. But they've cut superintendents already.

But you will continue to argue that maybe we should cut some more. All right; that's an argument. Whether you're going to arrive at a 47% figure is, I argue, wrong-headed. You can't get to 47% by cutting a few more superintendents. But let's say you can cut a few more in some boards where they have already done so. Let's say you could do that.

But you also have visiting artists in many school boards who are invited in and, yes, are paid a nominal fee to come and work with students in the classroom where the arts are taught. Would you argue that is a redundant kind of activity going on in the classroom? I don't think you would do that. But they're part of the 47% figure. They enrich the classroom as artists. Surely you wouldn't be saying it's something that students don't need when the direct experience of an artist contributes very much to the classroom.

Would you argue that social workers -- and different boards have a number of different social workers, of course. Would you say they're not directly linked to the classroom? If you do, I'm not sure how you would justify that social workers are not contributing to the education of the student and to the helping out of teachers where they are facing problems in the classroom. I suppose some of you might argue that. But social workers, psychiatrists where they're used or where their services are bought, are people who make a direct contribution to the education of the student and help the teacher out as they teach students.

There are many other facets perhaps one could speak to and/or of as areas where people might say you can cut, but I suggest to you that all the activities I mentioned, which many of you perhaps didn't even know existed, are directly connected to the classroom. If you cut in those areas of secretaries, of principals, of visiting artists, of social workers, of educational assistants, of whom many boards have many who directly help the classroom teacher in special education in particular; if you cut such workers, you are hurting the education of the student and you are making the job of the teacher much more impossible to do. But that's what some of you are suggesting, and I've heard a number of you say this. I've heard a number of my friends across the way say this in the debate last week.


Mr Stockwell said last week that we have 47% of educational funding that's non-classroom-related, and I was telling you and others who were listening that's not in fact the case.

Mr Stockwell: I didn't say that.

Mr Marchese: Yes, you did.

Mr Stockwell: Sweeney said that.

Mr Marchese: No, I know Sweeney said that, but some of my friends across the way -- and I don't have too many -- said the same thing as well. I'm suggesting to you that all of that support connects to education, to the classroom, to the teacher, to the students and to the parents.

But let me get on to the issue of junior kindergarten, because it's in the act. The previous speaker made some important points about junior kindergarten, and I want to be able to talk a little more about the need for junior kindergarten.

Junior kindergarten is important for a variety of reasons. As some of you know, students come into the classroom unequal. Many of you argue that's not true, that they all come in equally. But I argue that students come with varying degrees of professional experience that make some students better prepared to do better in the junior kindergarten year, senior kindergarten, grade 1 and so on. The argument is that students do not have the same educational conditions that provide for equal educational opportunities, so some people are going to have a better start than others.

Just as an example so that people might understand a little more clearly, if you come from a home where dad is a professor or mom is a professor, mom or dad is a doctor, or someone in the family, a parent or both parents, has a BA, an honours BA, an MA and so on, you are more likely to have a head start as a child in that family than a student who doesn't have that professional background. What that means is that student has a head start. When he gets to senior kindergarten or grade 1, he has a head start. That child who comes from that professional background -- Madam Speaker, if I could just discourage some crossway dialogue, it would be easier for me to hear myself.

The Acting Speaker: Perhaps I would encourage you to direct your comments to the Chair as well. That might help.

Mr Marchese: I understand that, Madam Chair, but if you could just address my need, I would find that helpful.

The Acting Speaker: I'll endeavour to do that, member for Fort York.

Mr Marchese: Thank you. And I'm always addressing my comments through the Speaker, of course.

Mr Stockwell: Me, me, me. That's all you think about.

The Acting Speaker: The member for Etobicoke West, you're completely out of order. You're out of your seat.

Mr Marchese: In fact, I was referring to my good friend from Etobicoke West who loves to intervene in the discussion, not just with me but with others. I need his full attention.

Mr Stockwell: That's impossible.

Mr Marchese: Thank you.

The point is that if you come from a professional background you have a head start, and if you don't have that background you don't have the head start, you're behind, so the conditions are not equal for students. So why do we argue we need JK? We argue that it's needed in order to equalize the experiences for that student in JK so they have an equal basis to proceed, as with the other students who have a head start.

Those who are well-to-do don't really care about a JK program because they first of all will do well, but they can afford a private school, a private child care service for their children. They can afford that.


Mr Marchese: But, Chris, it's true. If you're wealthy you can afford a program for your child. If you're not wealthy you don't have one. It's true. Right? That's a fact. If you don't have the economic means, that means your child won't have the same benefits, won't have the same opportunities and you're not equalizing the conditions.

For the wealthy it's not a problem. In fact, the wealthy will argue, "This is a child care program; it's not an educational program," and that's where we disagree. We say it is an educational program to bring about greater equality for all people and for all students of all classes and all ethnic backgrounds.

So what you are doing here --

Mr Stockwell: Who's got the money?

Mr Marchese: Who's got the money? We argue if you don't spend now, you will spend later. It's proven by all of the educational learning I have had as a teacher and as a trustee and all the years that I've read into the field --

Mr Peter Kormos (Welland-Thorold): As a parent.

Mr Marchese: As a parent as well -- that when you spend money in the early years, you are creating --

The Acting Speaker: Do you want to take a seat just for a minute. The member for Etobicoke West, you are out of your seat.

Mr Stockwell: I was helping him.

The Acting Speaker: As you know, interjections are not allowed anyway, but if you continue to interject I'm going to request that you please take your seat. You have that choice. I'm giving you that choice.

Go ahead, member for Fort York.

Mr Marchese: What we are doing by doing this is continuing the inequality among people. You are continuing to make sure that some of the students will never have the same head start. That's what you're saying and that's what you're doing through this bill.

It is an important socialization period for students because when they get into that classroom in JK, or earlier on as we should be doing, those students are much better prepared socially and academically, intellectually to deal with the work of the classroom. That's an undisputed fact in all the research that has been done. You might not know if you haven't done the reading or the research, but the research proves differently.

The point of making the program optional, as all of you know, is that when you make it optional some boards will do it and most boards will not. Some examples of the boards that are not doing it are Brant, Dufferin, Durham, Grey, Haldimand, Haliburton, Halton, Hastings, Lincoln, Niagara South, Norfolk, Peel, Perth, Peterborough, Prince Edward, Simcoe, Waterloo, Wellington, Wentworth and York region. These boards are not implementing that program.

What you will have is an uneven implementation of JK, where some boards will have it and some will not. What it means as well is that some boards which are Catholic might have it and the public board will not. What that encourages is a very unhealthy kind of competition between the boards where --

Mr Kormos: On a point of order, Madam Speaker: Quorum, please. What Mr Marchese is saying is far too important not to be heard.

The Acting Speaker: Is there a quorum?

Senior Clerk Assistant and Clerk of Journals (Mr Alex D. McFedries): A quorum is present, Speaker.

The Acting Speaker: Member for Fort York, proceed.

Mr Marchese: What you are encouraging by allowing some boards to do it and some boards not to is that you will contribute to an unhealthy competition between boards. In fact, what's happening in some of the boards is that they will switch their property tax assessment from Catholic to public or public to Catholic in order to get into the junior kindergarten program. Some of you look startled, as if you don't understand that. That's what it means. It's happening. Some boards are switching their assessment in order to get into a different board. That's a problem.

Mr Frank Klees (York-Mackenzie): Irresponsible.

Mr Marchese: It might be irresponsible, you add, but that's what happening. When you allow this to be optional, that's what happens, because you can't control it. What you have done is to eliminate universality, where these programs as JK are offered across the board, across Ontario, equally and to all.

By ending universality and making it optional, you're saying, "Some of you can do it, some of you cannot. Whatever competition there is between public and separate boards is too bad," and if some kids have a better head start than others in some boards and others do not, that's too bad as well; that's a choice boards make.


I tell you, you're doing something quite unfair to most students, to most boards, where it should be offered universally to all so that all can have the benefit of that particular program, where it has been proven through the studies that JK, senior kindergarten and even earlier education, as they do in France, contribute to equality of condition and to equality of outcome. You're eliminating that. I'm saddened by that, but it's for the people of Ontario to judge your actions and all we can do is make the arguments.

In the bill, you also raise another matter which says school boards will be able to direct certain adult persons to enrol in continuing education programs rather than in the day school program. I want to speak to that by making four or five points and I want to say this: You have already cut the rates for adult students of anyone who is over the age of 21 by half. Where you say that education is important, that there should be a continuum of education from the early years to the later years, you contradict that by cutting what normally would go to the school board to teach a student who's over 21 years old. You have given them a continuing education rate which is half of the rate they otherwise would have gotten. What it's saying is that the adult student doesn't have the same value as a student who's seven or eight and that we don't value continuing education by the mere fact that we cut their school board funding to half, by simply considering them as continuing education students.

Further, if some students can be in a high school at age 19, what happens if the program is five or seven years long in order to get their secondary school degree? What will you do at age 21? What happens to that student? This particular bill doesn't speak to that, and therefore questions like this become very complicated for adult students and for school boards and teachers who teach them. What happens to teachers if they are now teaching in a regular day school as regular teachers if all of a sudden school boards decided that we're going to move away from regular school day teaching to continuing education? What would happen is that you would see an incredible loss of teachers. In Metro alone, there would be a loss of approximately 1,500 teachers if the Metro school board decided today or tomorrow or next year that we're no longer going to have day schools, we're going to have continuing education classroom study. You would lose a whole number of teachers.

Are there any guarantees -- and you have not done this study at all -- that if you move from day school into continuing education study that is done mostly at night, the students would actually end up going? We don't know that. We don't know whether you're discouraging adult students by doing such a thing. You haven't done that study and you should. If you care, as Minister Snobelen does, the Minister of Education, that we value educational opportunities, that we value education because it's an important element of whether you will have a job later on, if you do value that, then you're not giving these people an opportunity. You may in fact be losing.

Those students may be losing opportunities, but you haven't done that study because I don't think you've thought about that. Certainly, I don't think the government members have thought about that. I'm assuming some of the staff who have prepared this report have, but I'm not quite sure the government understands that.

What happens as well, as part of the implications of this particular component of the bill, in schools where we have a lot of adult students -- in some of our Toronto schools, to speak of some of the ones I know best, in Parkdale we probably have 40% of students as adult students in their day school program. What would happen to their overall programming for all students if all of a sudden a whole bunch of those people were gone? You're affecting the regular school day program. Have you thought about that? Has the minister thought about that? Are the members asking themselves these questions? Do they care? Has the staff informed you of that? Do they care? I'm willing to admit that perhaps they do, but perhaps they haven't been told or asked about that. But you have to ask those questions. If you care about education, then you need to ask the effects that would have on the regular school, as a school in Parkdale, as Central Tech, as so many other schools in Toronto, as an example that we know best, where we have a lot of adult students.

In the York board in the Metropolitan school board area, York has a high percentage of adult students in its board. Have you thought about the effects, what that would do to that school board? I suggest you haven't thought about it. I suggest the consequences are rather severe, but you need to think about those things when you introduce bills. You cannot simply on faith assume that the minister knows what he's talking about, because in this particular instance, he does not.

I want to move further, because I've got five more minutes to make the comments as they relate to the issue of "School boards will be authorized to make equalization payments to the Minister of Finance." I love this one. It makes it appear as if school boards are given the right to give money back. It makes it appear as if we're authorizing the board to give the rest of the province money back. It's not saying you are compelled. It's saying, "You, board, are authorized to give it back," but it makes it appear like we're doing them a favour.

We're not doing the boards a favour. We are hurting them and we are hurting them in a very serious way. You are hurting Metro in particular, you are hurting Ottawa, you will probably hurt Muskoka because, and I'm sure that most of you don't know this, Muskoka will be in the same boat as the Metropolitan board and the Ottawa board and many other boards, including possibly Hamilton and many other cities as well. Some of you have not thought about this, but the impact will be enormous on some of your constituents and some of your areas that you thought were not touched. Some of you, I suspect, think this only affects Metro and we can hurt Metro because everybody likes to hurt Toronto and Metro, but you're wrong. You will not just be hurting Metro, you'll be hurting some of the other areas in the west and in central Ontario as well.

This particular measure, number 4, will take a lot of money from Metro and Ottawa and other places, and we say it's wrong. It says that this money, after it's collected, will go to the Minister of Finance. Are there any guarantees and do you feel good about the guarantee that somehow once you've stolen, taken money from another board, to give it somewhere else, it will go to education? You have no guarantees about that. You should be asking those questions. You want to know whether those dollars will go to the educational system in other areas. But the fundamental point is that it's wrong to take money raised in one constituency, in one area, for the purpose of education, to take it away from those boards to give it somewhere else. It's wrong to do that.

I would suggest that some people are going to make the argument that it's illegal to do that and some boards will in fact advance that argument and will sue the province based on this. They argue, and I think correctly, that you cannot take money from a board that legitimately raises property taxes for the purposes of education for those constituents. I would be outraged.

Parents, taxpayers, in these jurisdictions should be angry that money is being taken away from me to give it to somewhere else. If you're genuinely concerned about equality, then simply do it through an income tax system, fund education through an income tax system. That's the correct thing to do.

I support this. I supported this while we were in government and I will always continue to support it. If you really, genuinely want to have equality, if you take money from income tax everybody is affected equally and that money is distributed equally across the board, across every part of the province.


That's what you should do. But to take money from Metro and Ottawa, and the Muskokas very soon, and Hamilton, is wrong, because they raised those dollars for the purpose of education in those constituencies.

With this bill you are hurting children, teachers, classroom learning and all that is connected to education. When you take $1 billion from the educational system, contrary to what you promised -- that there would be not one penny taken away from education -- you are doing a disservice to yourselves, but you are hurting the classroom teacher, the students and those parents. You are contributing to the inequality that exists in society where children of poor families will continue to be poorer and poorer. That's what you're doing. This bill magnifies and enhances the inequality in education.

What the Minister of Education and Training says about education being important, vital and valuable for future jobs is contradicted, I argue, by everything you are proposing in this bill and by the $1 billion you're taking out of the educational system. I hope the people of Ontario who are listening will call the minister and will call our offices to agree or disagree with me or the minister or this government.

The Acting Speaker: Questions or comments?

Mr Bradley: I have a two-minute opportunity to comment on the speech. The part I want to make reference to, because I think it is important to this debate, is the part that mentioned this is a chance for us to provide some kind of equal opportunity in the province through the education system.

We cannot ensure the outcomes are going to be equal. That is something that will be decided by a number of factors. I think everyone, though, regardless of political philosophy, would agree that providing an equal opportunity is a goal we should set for ourselves so that people who may find themselves at the bottom rung of the economic ladder or people who have been disadvantaged for various reasons will have an opportunity, through our education system, to be able to compete, if I can use that word, with others within the society to play a meaningful role, to play a substantial role within our society. This can best be done with an appropriate investment in education at an early age.

If you think of it, throughout one's lifetime, since today it is said we will have four or five different jobs in our lifetime, it is an opportunity for people who have lost their job -- many are dislocated in our society today -- to be able to get back into the workforce. Many people are seeking that opportunity. This bill, unfortunately, while it may seek to solve certain problems, presents other problems. If we look at adult education in the secondary school system, we're seeing some substantial cutbacks there, and that is largely related to people who are trying to get back in the workforce, to upgrade their skills to be prepared to play a meaningful role in society and not be a financial burden to society. I think the member has appropriately identified that chance for us to provide equal opportunity within our system.

Mr Bruce Crozier (Essex South): I too would like to reply to the comments of the member for Fort York. In the short time I've been here I always know I can count on him to give reasoned debate, and I think he's raised a number of questions here today that we should take very seriously.

In my estimation, if we are fortunate enough in life to have good health, then the second most, or it then becomes the first most, important thing is education. I think education, a broad, good education, makes better citizens of us and consequently it affects every part of our community life. It affects us socially. I think better education in all aspects brings less crime and violence in our society. I don't think we can even risk taking a chance with education. Therefore, I think the member for Fort York's comments, and others', about junior kindergarten are valid.

I, as a parent, can speak with experience. This is one of the things that I can speak with some experience on. I know our two children -- my wife Joan's and my two children -- benefited greatly from the opportunity of early education.

Then we go to the other end of the spectrum and we speak of adult education. What we're saying to some of those who are presently enrolled in adult education is, we're not going to help you get yourself up, but what we are going to do perhaps is force you on to social assistance and put you out perhaps in some meaningless job. So we have to think seriously about the effects of any reduction in adult education as well.

Mr Kormos: I'm pleased to respond to the insights provided by Mr Marchese. I appreciate his observations, but I also want -- and I know that several people today have asked why I'm wearing this pink ribbon.

Mr Bradley: Why are you wearing that?

Mr Kormos: It was given to me last night when I was at the Niagara South Board of Education in the company of a large number of students from Niagara South, from Welland High and Vocational School, from Welland Eastdale Secondary School, from Port Colborne High School. These young women and men have organized themselves in protest to the massive layoffs of teachers in their jurisdiction, Niagara South, and across the province. The pink ribbon? Well, because of the pink slips. Do you get it, Speaker? The pink slips, ergo a pink ribbon.

These young people know that what this government is doing is not building but destroying. These young people know that what this government is doing is not investing in them and their futures, but rather investing in an economy where wages are going to be lower and lower, where there's going to become greater disparity between the wealthiest and the rest, who are going to be the poor.

These young people know that they're being confronted by a government that is as insensitive and uncaring as any government could be. They're being confronted by a government that has no interest in their future, certainly no interest in the maintenance of a middle class, the type of people who, like so many people, through hard work and the opportunity to work, enabled themselves to own their own homes and send their kids on to colleges and universities. That's being taken away from them.

I'm proud of the students of Welland Eastdale Secondary School, of Welland High and Vocational School, of Centennial Secondary School, for their participation in this movement, for their pink ribbon campaign in protest of the pink slips that the boards have been forced to impose upon good teachers across the province, literally thousands of them. I think the best thing we can do for those young people is ensure that this bill is defeated.

The Acting Speaker: Further questions or comments? If not, the member for Fort York.

Mr Marchese: I thank the members for St Catharines, Essex South and Welland-Thorold for their comments and would add several things.

First, as it relates to JK, this is what you're doing: You're not dealing with disadvantage, you're not dealing with poverty, you're not dealing with inequality, you're not contributing to equality of opportunity and you're not contributing towards the reduction of the conditions the students come into the classroom with. You are in fact enhancing the differences. You are creating a bigger gap between the rich and the poor by such measures. When you offer those programs to students who come from a background which is not as rich as some others, you are making it impossible for them to have the same educational opportunities, and I think what you have done through this action is wrong.

Secondly, adult education. Adult education has become an important component of learning in most school boards -- not just in Metro, but most other boards. Your cuts in the funding, by half, that adult education students get is wrong. It's not helping those adults to get back into the classroom and it doesn't help those boards to be able to teach those adults in the way they wanted to.

Third, on the issue of metropolitan government being whacked by $400 million, by many millions of dollars, however that might be, it is wrong. You're taking taxpayers' money used for education from Metropolitan Toronto, Ottawa, Muskoka and Hamilton and other areas for the purposes of someone else's education, and I think that's a mistake. It's a legal mistake as well.

Metro has a high proportion of ESL students. In fact, in Toronto, 40% of our students are ESL. Do you recognize that? That's where some of our money and most of our money is going into, but you're taking that away.


The Acting Speaker: Further debate?

Mr Gary L. Leadston (Kitchener-Wilmot): I'm very pleased to have this opportunity to share my thoughts with you upon the second reading of Bill 34, the Education Amendment Act, and this government's savings strategy in education, from which this bill ensues. This savings strategy, announced in March of this year, will achieve savings of $400 million in the 1996-97 fiscal year. The $400 million represents approximately 3% of the $14 billion spent on education in Ontario.

The school boards that make up Ontario's elementary and secondary education system provide education to approximately two million pupils. School boards employ approximately 116,000 teachers, 7,000 principals and vice-principals, and 55,000 other staff. Operating expenditures per pupil in Ontario are higher than any other province in Canada. We spend close to $1 billion more than the average of the other provinces, which comes to approximately $500 more per child in Ontario. Yet judging by Ontario's results in national tests, student achievement in Ontario is not much better than in the other provinces. Clearly it is spending beyond our means, not underfunding, that, my colleagues, threatens the future of Ontario's students. While we must maintain and improve quality programming, we must also find out-of-classroom savings in order to make our educational system of real value to the people of Ontario.

Bill 34 will enable school boards to implement new measures to find savings. In particular, it will provide school boards the express power to enter into cooperative agreements with other school boards and with other groups such as universities, community colleges, hospitals and municipalities. This will generate an increase in cooperative ventures across this beautiful province of Ontario, through which boards will find savings in areas such as transportation and administration. Boards have been asked to find savings in transportation of at least $16 million in 1996 and to reduce expenditures on central administration, instructional supervision and custodial and maintenance services by $65 million. Currently, school boards spend about $890 million on board administration and about $1.2 billion on custodial and maintenance services.

Under Bill 34, school boards will also be more accountable to the minister and to the public. School boards will be required to report annually on the cooperative measures they have implemented and the savings they have achieved as well as the measures they are examining. They will also have to provide a rationale for those measures they have not implemented.

The people of this province have told us there's an urgent need to find significant savings within the educational system. At the same time, they have made it clear that we must follow and allow time for solutions to be developed. This government's savings strategy will facilitate restructuring while giving school boards the flexibility to find local solutions.

In addition to measures outlined in legislation, we have announced a one-year moratorium on capital projects for 1996-97, which will save about $167 million. Only projects that have received final approval under the Minister of Education and Training's capital grant plan and for which construction has already begun will be funded in the 1996-97 fiscal year. Projects funded through the Canada-Ontario infrastructure works program will also continue. In the interim, the Minister of Education and Training will launch a review to develop recommendations on alternative financing options for new school construction.

This government is committed to developing an educational system that is based on excellence in student achievement, as well as accountability to and affordability for all Ontario taxpayers. It is clear that through the savings strategy and the flexibility we are giving school boards through Bill 34, we are honouring this commitment.

The Acting Speaker: Questions or comments?

Mr Crozier: I'm pleased to respond to a couple of remarks the member gave. One of the administrative savings that he suggested be made is in transportation. I can tell the member that in Essex county, between the Roman Catholic separate school board and the public school board, we have a model in savings in that the transportation system is run by one board and obviously both contribute towards the efficiency of that board.

My concern is that in those areas where genuine savings have been made, and have been made for a number of years, those efficient boards very well might be penalized because the Minister of Education may look for further savings. I wanted to point out that certainly in Essex county, for a number of years now, significant sums of money have been saved because of cooperation between the two boards.

The point was raised about capital spending, that you have a moratorium. If that just means you're going to come back in and spend the same money the next year, I guess what you've saved is only the interest on that money. There were approvals given in Essex county where cooperation between the two boards had agreed how they would share one existing school to be upgraded and another school would be built. That's now delayed and that's going to have an effect on the students and the education of those students in Essex county.

I hope I can point out that what may be the case in some parts of the province may already have been started on the road to efficiency and may be a model for other parts of the province. I think the activities in Essex county between the two boards have shown that.

Mr Marchese: I know the member for Kitchener-Wilmot, so I don't want to be overly unkind to him; I will do my best not to be too unkind. First of all, he says, "This government is committed to excellence." That's what they wrote for him. He knows it isn't true. How could they be committed to excellence? But I'm not talking about my friend from Kitchener-Wilmot; I'm talking about your government. How could you be committed to excellence when all you're doing is cutting and gutting? It doesn't do it.


The fact of the matter is, with all your cuts, it means thousands and thousands of teachers are gone. They're fired. What you have is an increased number of students in the classroom whom the teacher has to teach. Where there might have been 33, you've got 35. So I'm not addressing myself to him, I'm addressing my comments to your government, to your Minister of Education. He doesn't know what he's doing.

If you say that some boards don't have enough money to provide the same educational opportunities, then they should provide the money, but don't steal money from Metro to give to somebody else, because the taxpayer is paying for the education of those students in Metro. Don't take it away from us to give it to somebody else. Tell that to your minister. That's what you've got to tell him.

When you say there is $890 million in administration, you tell me, who would you cut? Principals? Secretaries? Visiting artists? Social workers? Educational assistants? Where would you cut? Explain that to me. Have your minister explain that to you. Where would you cut?

Mr Bert Johnson (Perth): I wanted to rise and compliment the member for Kitchener-Wilmot on his speech. I wanted to compliment the people in his riding for making the choice they did to have him represent them here. On the matter of education, he's well qualified to stand here in this House --

Mr Kormos: That's not going to make them feel any better.

Mr Bert Johnson: -- and speak and tell the people of Ontario, in spite of what the member from Welland would have us believe. He can speak very well, on behalf of his constituents, on education.

Some of the comments I hear from across remind me of the bandit who goes into a coffee shop. He's holding the place up and he says, "Oh, you rascal, somebody else took all the money on me." To have them stand up, after putting this province in the hole they have done, $10 billion a year, and then stand up and say, "Oh, well, education should be the same as it was before" -- I wanted to tell the people of this House and the people of Ontario how lucky they are we have people who show the good judgement, like the member for Kitchener-Wilmot, to stand up and speak for them in this House.

Mr Kormos: I'm not sure whether Mr Johnson is helping out his colleague from Kitchener-Wilmot or not by that endorsement. I suppose down the road one will soon find out.

Look what's happening. Down in Welland-Thorold, where we've got committed professionals working in our educational system, we've got a real crisis there, and the crisis is very much a made-by-Snobelen crisis. We've seen the elimination of junior kindergarten. You've got to be from Mars if you don't understand the value of junior kindergarten to the academic future of any young person.

We've seen the building and the investment in a strong educational system -- a Catholic system, a public system and a French-language system as well. Down in Welland, one's child can be in day care, through JK, in the French language -- la Boîte à soleil being one of the largest -- all the way through elementary school and then high school in the French language. We are seeing young people becoming fluently bilingual in our school system down in Welland-Thorold, a quality that's not only to be admired, but one that's going to make them far more competitive in an increasingly strange and more peculiar and difficult workplace, and one which, I tell you, at the end of the day, helps to make this a much stronger country.

Those hardworking teachers and staff in those schools are very much under pressure. They're under the gun. They feel very much that they're being beat up on.

The young people who are in those schools know they're being beat up on. The young people in those schools didn't really know who Mike Harris was before they started seeing the type of economic violence that was being imposed upon them in their very lives. They didn't know who Mike Harris was; they know full well now as they see their futures being dashed, destroyed, by education policies that are downright barbaric.

The Acting Speaker: The member for Kitchener-Wilmot, for two minutes.

Mr Leadston: We've heard from the members opposite, and I understand their role is to criticize the government, but in the same sense they offered some very eloquent suggestions. In fact, one had offered the ideas that within Essex county for many years they are doing the very essence of things that we were proposing they should do, to restructure, to reorganize, to save dollars. You say your board -- and I'm familiar with some of the staff from Essex county because I was employed for 27 years with the Waterloo county public school board, of which I'm very proud, and we have excellence in education within that board and you have within your board excellence in education, and that's what we want for all of Ontario.

But you say that for a number of years Essex county was undertaking some of the very measures we are proposing. If I was the member from Essex county and this had been going on for several years, I would have been championing that cause several years ago. Why are we hearing about it now if they have been a model and they've been a model in other areas, similar to other boards within this House? That's the time to work together.

If you want excellence in education, then work with us. You have good ideas. You have good suggestions and you have good critique, but work with us and work with your school boards. If your board, or your board in Welland-Thorold, has new innovations, we'd all love to hear about it. This is the place.

The Acting Speaker: Further debate?

Mrs Lyn McLeod (Leader of the Opposition): I rise to participate in this debate not so much as leader of our party and Leader of the Opposition, but as somebody who has been involved directly or indirectly in public education for about 28 years.

Needless to say, I cannot condense the concerns I have about the future of education in this province into the next 15 minutes, but I can assure you that the reason I wanted to take part in this debate is because I am deeply concerned about the future of public education in Ontario. I have a commitment, that has been a large part of my political life for 28 years, to a belief that the goal of publicly funded education is to ensure we can offer a quality of education to every person in this province regardless of their ability to pay.

When I see the devastating impact of the cuts this government is introducing to public education, when I see the inevitable deterioration of the quality of public education in this province that is coming and will come from those cuts, when I know that one of the results of that deterioration of quality is that there will be pressure in turn on this government to say, "Well, let the private sector step in; let those who can afford to pay, pay," and that this government is entirely sympathetic to saying, "Well, yes, let's have some private sector involvement in education," then I know we are on the verge of what could ultimately be the destruction of public education in this province as we know it.

I feel so strongly and so passionately that we have to fight to preserve the goals of publicly funded education and make sure that in this province we never reach the point where only those who can afford to pay are able to access the best in education, that I believe we must fight every negative, destructive measure introduced by this government.

It's with that preface that I want to spend some moments this afternoon on the preamble that the Minister of Education for this government used in introducing Bill 34. The minister began by saying this is a strategy that will achieve savings of $400 million in the 1996-97 fiscal year. That, first of all, is not a factual statement of the cuts this government has introduced to education, and I refer back to statistics I read into the record earlier in a question to the Minister of Education which clearly show that for public boards alone the total impact of the cuts to education is $696 million, and that does not include separate school funding.

The additional cost that boards have to face this year which has not been funded is another $425 million which boards must pay as a result of the ending of the social contract and the assumption of those deferred costs. Because there is no offsetting support from the government to handle the costs which are mandated for those boards to pay, that is an additional cost impact for school boards in this province. For public boards alone, that means they have to find an additional $1 billion in this fiscal year if they are to maintain the level of services that are required.


The Minister of Education has an easy answer for that, because that's the second thing he says in his preface to this bill. He says that they're just going to encourage school boards to reduce expenditures in the area of transportation and school board administration. He wants to give the sense that all boards have to do is to restructure and make some administrative saving costs and maybe there will be no problem at all, that they'll be able to protect classroom education. I'll tell you that is simply not the case. It is first of all a complete and total copout of the responsibility of the Minister of Education, because there is absolutely no assurance of any kind that these cuts could be managed through changes in transportation, through administrative savings.

The minister has no real idea at all of what savings are actually possible. There are three areas in which the minister is inaccurate in even making that suggestion.

First of all, the minister has based his assumption on the 1994 data that are in the Ontario School Board Reduction Task Force report, which had to be submitted rather hurriedly because this government cut off the time for completion of the report as well as any opportunity for public consultation. The minister seems unable to realize that since the 1994 data were presented, there have been cuts to school boards and cuts to the administration. The minister might want to look a little bit more closely at the school board reduction task force report, because in that report there are some very specific recommendations for appropriate formulas for administrative funding. If the minister looks closely at those and if he is in some degree of agreement with that formula, he may also want to look at the fact that many school boards would actually have to put more dollars into administration if they were to meet the targets that were set out as appropriate administrative funding by that very school board reduction task force that the minister likes to quote.

The second error this Minister of Education makes is that he selectively ignores -- maybe it isn't an error; maybe it is a deliberate overlooking on the part of the minister of what the school board reduction task force has to say to this minister and this government about what they would have to do, the responsibilities they would have to accept if they want to reach a goal, as the minister holds out, of going from what is seen to be 47% of our education dollars being spent on non-classroom education to 40%.

Mr Crozier: That figure is wrong too.

Mrs McLeod: It is indeed wrong, and I will get to that.

The task force report says that if the ministry wants to significantly reduce administrative spending in accordance with the recommendations of the report, the government has some additional responsibilities for curriculum development and assessment, by all means. They have a responsibility to bring in educational finance reform; they have a responsibility to look at the whole bargaining structure, and I'm not quite sure that's a good idea, to be honest, but nevertheless it's something that report recommends. The report recommends as well that the ministry and the government must pick up 100% provincially of the funding of all statutory and provincial requirements. Until the minister takes the responsibility for that kind of funding, he cannot blithely turn around and tell school boards that they should easily be able to find the cuts that he's proposed without having to hurt classroom education.

Then the minister does one other thing which I find completely indefensible. The minister, who realizes that his government was elected on a commitment not to cut classroom education, tries to say that they are keeping their commitment by redefining what he considers to be classroom education. The ministry is much more forthcoming when it presents its information, because the minister sets out a very clear definition of "instruction" and "instructional support." They take out of that business administration and general administration and computer services and plant operation and maintenance. They don't say that should be included in the cost of instruction. They take out transportation and they take out capital expenditures and debt charges. All of that they see as being cost of operation.

What is left is the cost of instruction and instructional support, and the Ministry of Education says instruction takes 85%, on average across this province, of the school board expenditures -- not 53% but 85% when you define instruction and instructional support the way the Ministry of Education itself defines them. There is no question, no question at all, that this $400-million-plus cut this government has given to education in this province is a broken promise, because those cuts are directly affecting classroom education.

I am clearly going to run out of time this afternoon to even begin to touch on the inaccuracies, the ironies in the preface the minister makes to presenting Bill 34. He does touch on the fact that they are going to have a one-year moratorium on capital projects. I suppose we should feel some relief that if he's going to make these cuts in education, at least he's not going to take that amount out of classrooms and lay off more teachers.

But it does remind me of 10 other lost years under Conservative governments when we had 10 years of capital funding freezes and a deterioration in our physical facilities that we still haven't caught up with. The minister says the future of Ontario students is at risk if we continue to spend beyond our means. The future of Ontario students is at risk. It's at risk because of the cuts the government is making, and the cuts this government is making are three times as great as they would need to be to balance the budget because this government wants to bring in an income tax cut that will cost over $5 billion. That, to me, is absolutely unconscionable, that the students of this province now and in the future should be paying the price for this government's irresponsible campaign promise of bringing in that income tax cut.

The minister goes on to say that Ontario spends about $1 billion more on education than it would if its spending were in line with the averages of other provinces. As my colleague has already noted, that is an inaccuracy because it is based on 1994 figures, but more than that, because somehow in calculating that they included in the Ontario costs the costs of federal and private schools. They also included the costs of kindergarten in Ontario but forgot to include the kindergarten students. Needless to say, Ontario's cost per pupil looked a little higher than it actually is. It is simply not true that our costs in Ontario are $1 billion more than the averages of other provinces.

Because the time is running out today, I'll conclude my comments for today on this note. I am not just offended, I am dismayed that any Minister of Education would want to hold up the average of other provinces as being the target that his government endorses and wants to hit for public education in Ontario. I believe the goal of public education in this province has been to ensure, not just something mediocre for every student in public education, but to attempt to ensure that the best would be available to every student regardless of ability to pay. That is an incredibly ambitious goal, that we should think with public funding we would be able to offer to every student in Ontario the access to an education which is not just what we can seem to afford, not just mediocre, but what is truly of high quality. We've come a long way in this province to meeting that goal, probably further than anybody would have believed possible. We've been able to provide not only a quality education to each student without special needs, but we've been able to provide a quality education to students with special needs. We've been able to provide support for the learner in the classroom. We've been able to provide support for a broad range of curriculum issues -- not just the basics, which we continue to teach, but a broad range of curriculum issues necessary for a well-rounded education.

When this minister holds up the average as something which is his personal target, I am dismayed that we in Ontario for one moment should be satisfied with offering an average, mediocre education when that means access to the best we can possibly provide is going to be lost. We had gone a long way towards reaching the very ambitious goal for public education before this minister and this government came along.

I believe, Mr Speaker, it is 6 of the clock and I will adjourn debate.

The Speaker (Hon Allan K. McLean): It being almost 6 of the clock, this House stands adjourned until 10 o'clock tomorrow morning.

The House adjourned at 1800.