36th Parliament, 1st Session

L063 - Wed 24 Apr 1996 / Mer 24 Avr 1996











































The House met at 1333.




Mr Rick Bartolucci (Sudbury): Workplace safety and workers are important. On Sunday, April 28, the labour movement in Sudbury will honour those who were killed, injured or disabled in the workplace. Union workers all over will be remembering the terrible sacrifices made by thousands of fellow workers. In doing so, it is hoped that everyone will reaffirm their commitment to taking the necessary steps to end carnage in the workplace.

The Sudbury District Labour Council celebration will take place in the lobby of Civic Square starting at 10 am.

The United Steelworkers of America, Local 6500, will conduct its ceremony in the Steelworkers Hall at 12 noon. Guest speakers will be Gerry Lougheed Jr, Leo Gerard and Julien Dionne. Sudbury was one of the first regions, if not the first region, to declare April 28 as an official day of mourning in Canada.

Latest statistics indicate the number of time-loss injuries in the mining sector was 5,582 in Canada, 673 occurring in Ontario. There were 145 fatalities in the mining section, 35 occurring in Ontario, for the 1994 work year.

Out of respect for the dignity of those who have been killed, injured and disabled and the surviving members of their families who have lost loved ones, we ask this government to reconsider its decision to remove the mandatory requirement for inquests into deaths which occur in mines and on construction sites. Show you care for workers and workplace safety.


Mr Tony Martin (Sault Ste Marie): I rise today to give recognition and compliment to all those who work in the public service of this province, and I mean every level of government and every transfer agency or organization in Ontario, those who work in the very honourable and noble field of public service.

You in many significant ways make our communities what they are. You are the health care workers, social workers, educators, snowplow operators, jail guards, police officers, researchers, secretaries etc. Yes, those of you so often abusively referred to as bureaucrats are indeed the backbone, that very essential soft underbelly, the very stability of our communities, and I and my colleagues in the New Democratic Party caucus want to say thank you.

We also want you to know we understand and empathize with the great anxiety and sorrow you are now feeling as you personally or your fellow workers or some family member are told that under the leadership of the present government you are redundant; you are not needed; we can do better with less. That is not my sentiment. We need what you do more than ever before and recognize the very valuable contribution, often at great sacrifice to personal life and family, you make to the life of our communities.

You are our friends and family. You are our neighbours and colleagues. Government and those who work in it are a fundamental determinant of health, both economic and social. We salute you.


Mr John Hastings (Etobicoke-Rexdale): Today marks the 81st anniversary of the Armenian genocide. On Sunday I had the honour of representing the Premier in participating in the commemoration of the massacre with the Armenian National Committee of Toronto.

Eighty-one years ago today, the deportation and mass killing of Armenian citizens began, and when the bloodshed was over, 1.5 million people had died in the genocide. It was on this day that Armenian leaders were arrested and killed at the order of the Turkish government. This massacre marked the beginning of an attempt to eliminate the Armenian population from the territory ruled by the Turkish government. Few people today remember this holocaust, although it rivals Hitler's worst abuses in its scale and scope.

The Armenians are an ancient national group whose ancestral home was located roughly between the present-day Iran and the former Soviet Union on the east and on the north. In the past 2,500 years, five different Armenian kingdoms existed and the land has been ruled by different oppressors throughout history.

On the anniversary of this tragedy, I rise in this House to remember the people who have lost their lives and grieve with their families who are dedicated to keeping their memories alive.

Mr Gerry Phillips (Scarborough-Agincourt): I too want to join with my colleague from Etobicoke-Rexdale and others in marking the 81st anniversary of the Armenian genocide.

As you pointed out, on April 24, 1915, Armenians were deported and mass killings began. I don't think the Armenian genocide has left a single Armenian family untouched, as over 1.5 million Armenians died. In 1980, as I think many members will know, the province of Ontario passed a resolution asking the government of Canada to mark April 24 as a day of remembrance for the Armenian community and to officially recognize the Armenian genocide as a historic event. It is only through official recognition that events like this are fully understood. It's only through official recognition that events like the Armenian genocide and indeed the Nazi Holocaust are recognized and that we ensure they never happen again.

I know many members are familiar with the words of Reverend Martin Niemoeller, who said:

"In Germany they came first for the Communists, and I didn't speak up because I wasn't a Communist. Then they came for the Jews, and I didn't speak because I wasn't a Jew. Then they came for the trade unionists, and I didn't speak up because I wasn't a trade unionist. Then they came for the Catholics, and I didn't speak up because I was a Protestant. Then they came for me, and by that time no one was left to speak up."

On this anniversary, I think it's important that all of us speak up to ensure this never happens again.



Mr Len Wood (Cochrane North): I'd like to direct my statement today to the Minister of Natural Resources and Northern Development and Mines, Chris Hodgson.

Yesterday in the House I turned over to you hundreds of letters from the people of Cochrane concerning the relocation of the Ministry of Natural Resources regional office from Cochrane to the city of Timmins, creating a loss of 42 jobs.

The decision to do this was dropped on the town of Cochrane in a fax, with no forewarning, no consultation, no concern for the people involved. Fifty-five per cent of your ministry's staff reductions will occur in southern Ontario; 45% will occur in northern Ontario. Asking 10% of the population to absorb 45% of your cuts is grossly unfair.

The town of Kapuskasing, at a meeting last week, passed a resolution indicating its concern for this situation and deploring the fact that smaller municipalities are being subjected to such measures. Your Premier will be receiving a copy of this resolution.

I would like to ask that you reconsider your decision, Minister, and meet with the people of Cochrane so that you're fully aware of the impact of your cuts on this community. Removing 42 jobs from Cochrane when this community is also expected to absorb cuts from other ministries in your government is more than a community of 4,600 can bear.


Mr Jim Flaherty (Durham Centre): I rise today to inform the House that on Sunday, April 28, 1996, the Canadian Cancer Society will be holding its annual Great Ride to Beat Cancer in our area of Durham region. I am proud to be the spokesperson for this bike-a-thon to raise money to help beat cancer.

The event will commence at Durham College in north Oshawa and will feature three different bicycle tracks: 27 kilometres, 15 kilometres, and this year at my request, a kids' track in the parking lot. There are great prizes to be won for those who collect the most pledges, including adult bicycles, children's bicycles, T-shirts and other prizes. Travelodge's famous Sleepy Bear will be on hand to entertain the little ones. This will provide a wonderful family opportunity to participate as a family in an important cause.

All those interested in participating are encouraged to obtain pledge sheets from my office or the Canadian Cancer Society. You don't have to be a great cyclist to participate.

The date is Sunday, April 28, 1996. Rides begin between 9 am and 1 pm. The location is the north parking lot, Durham College, Conlin Road and Simcoe Street North, in Oshawa.

Helmets are required for participants 18 and under and strongly recommended for all riders.

It's a day of family fun to help a great cause in Durham region.


Mr James J. Bradley (St Catharines): I am rising in the Legislative Assembly today to pay tribute to the hundreds of individuals who participated in the Super Cities Walk for Multiple Sclerosis in St Catharines on Sunday, April 21, and the thousands of people who sponsored walkers in this fund-raising effort.

I was privileged to be asked to be the honorary chairperson of the 1996 walk and to work with so many dedicated individuals who were responsible for the organization and operation of this most worthwhile endeavour.

Multiple sclerosis is the most common disease of the central nervous system of young adults, striking people most often between the ages of 20 and 40. It can cause loss of balance and coordination, impaired speech, extreme fatigue, double vision and even paralysis, and it affects 50,000 Canadians.

It was extremely encouraging to see people of all ages contributing through their walking and sponsorships to the raising of funds for research to find the cause, cure and prevention of multiple sclerosis.

Over 800 walkers raised at least $92,000, and for this our community, and in particular victims of multiple sclerosis, are grateful to them, to the organizers and to the sponsors of this outstanding event.

Across Ontario, people who care about people gave their time and effort to the battle against a disease which has struck far too many, and these participants have demonstrated the care and concern that is so prevalent in the people of our province and our community.


Ms Marilyn Churley (Riverdale): I join today with my colleagues the member for Etobicoke-Rexdale and Scarborough-Agincourt to remember all the men and women and children who lost their lives during the Armenian genocide on April 24, 1915. Many Armenians were deported and there were widespread mass killings.

Over 1.5 million Armenians died at that time, and as my colleagues pointed out, in 1980 the province of Ontario passed a resolution asking the government of Canada to mark April 24 as the day of remembrance for the Armenian community and asking as well that that day be officially recognized as the Armenian genocide, as a historical event.

This is a very, very important day to Armenians and I would say to all of us here in this room and to all the people of Ontario to never forget these kinds of atrocities. It's an anniversary that we need to be reminded of year after year, because sometimes in our daily dealings with the events that are happening closer to home, we forget that such things have happened in our past and indeed in some countries continue to happen. I join with my colleagues today to extend my sympathies to all of the families who have been involved in this terrible atrocity.


Mr Ernie Hardeman (Oxford): I rise in the House today to bid farewell to the end of a sports era in the city of Woodstock. This past weekend, hundreds of people from across Oxford county and this province congregated in Woodstock to attend the reunion and the closing of the Perry Street Arena.

Originally opened on January 6, 1914, this arena is a large first-rate facility, one of the best in the province at the time. It opened to much fanfare and the headlines in Woodstock's daily newspaper, the Sentinel Review, on January 7, read, "St Michael's Opens Up the Grand New Arena."

Although Woodstock senior OHA team lost the opener 16-4 to the St Michael's team from Toronto, that game marked a new beginning for a long and proud tradition of first-rate sports teams in the city. The opening ushered in an era in which thousands of people filed into downtown core to participate, to view or orchestrate many exciting hockey games, ice skating carnivals and various other special events.

In 1914, the Perry Street Arena also was the only one of two arenas in Canada to boast an automatic stop-time clock. This feature added to the excitement of the game as seconds ticked away until the closing buzzer rang and many exciting finishes. The cost of watching one of these games ranged from 25 cents to 35 cents in 1914, and was said to be one of the best deals around. This building is a piece of history of Woodstock and holds a special place in many of my constituents' hearts. It was a place where many first learned to skate, played their first game of hockey or had the opportunity to watch one of Woodstock's many fine teams take to the ice --

The Speaker (Hon Allan K. McLean): The member's time has expired. Would the member take his seat, please.


The Speaker (Hon Allan K. McLean): I would like to inform the members of the Legislative Assembly that we have in the Speaker's gallery today the winners of the YTV achievement awards. Please join me in welcoming our guests.



Mrs Lyn McLeod (Leader of the Opposition): My question is for the Minister of Education. The Conservative policy document New Directions: A Blueprint for Learning in Ontario, was very clear. It said: "Without basic language and mathematics skills, these young people have no chance of acquiring the more advanced skills and knowledge they will need to compete for jobs, advance academically, or fulfil their personal goals and dreams."

Minister, given these words, how can you possibly justify even considering eliminating 190 hours of instruction in English, 210 hours of instruction in mathematics and at least 190 hours more in science?

Hon John Snobelen (Minister of Education and Training): I want to thank the Leader of the Opposition for the question. I don't think it will surprise the Leader of the Opposition that our party, which released the blueprint on education in 1992, has not changed either the importance that we place on education or the importance we place on the math skills and language skills she refers to. We continue to encourage a curriculum in Ontario that emphasizes those core subjects that prepare young people for the future, and we will continue to do that in the future.

We are now looking at making changes to the secondary school system that have been recommended by not one but two royal commissions, to go to a four-year program of secondary school. The most recent royal commission suggested that the fifth year of high school currently in Ontario does not serve our students, is of no use, so we are going to a four-year program. We're joining the rest of the jurisdictions in Canada, in fact the rest of the jurisdictions in North America. Our commitment is to have a more relevant secondary school program that keeps high exit standards for those who are going to university that also focuses attention on that 60% of our high school students who leave high school and go into the world of work. We think they're important too.


Mrs McLeod: There is not a single recommendation in the Royal Commission on Learning report that would support cutting 190 hours out of English teaching, 220 hours out of math teaching and another 190 hours out of science. There is not a word in the Royal Commission on Learning report that will support one part of what you are recommending, because you have taken and distorted what the royal commission was wanting to do.

Minister, I take you back to the fact that you are cutting classroom time in basic skills of English, math and science. I remind you of your own words on November 2, when results of reading tests on grade 9 students in Ontario were released. You said then, "I'm concerned by the fact that one third of English students are in the lowest acceptable category and about one half of French-language students are there."

You are planning to lower standards, you are planning to gut classroom instruction in English, math and science, and based on what you said you were concerned about, you surely don't believe that the problem is that students are spending too many hours studying English, math and science. This is all about saving money for your tax cut. You are saving money by taking it directly out of the classroom, which you said you would not do. You are paying for your tax cut by lowering standards in basic skills, the very skills your leader said were essential for future jobs. I ask you again, how can you justify that?

Hon Mr Snobelen: I'd like to compliment the Leader of the Opposition once again, as I have most recently, on her imagination, because she's done a good job of imagining what we might be intending to do. Perhaps I can clear it up for her.

We are reforming the secondary school program in Ontario. We are going to a four-year program, as we told the people of Ontario we would and as we promised we would in the Common Sense Revolution. When we do that, we will have a more relevant program, a more challenging program for our students. We will expand -- I think the Leader of the Opposition needs to note this -- the core curriculum, the amount of time students spend on core subjects; we will have a more demanding curriculum, because we think that's what parents in Ontario want, we're sure that's what taxpayers in Ontario want, that is what will serve the students in Ontario best and that is what we are doing.

Mrs McLeod: There's been a lot said about you in your role as Minister of Education this week, but the worst thing I can say to you today is that you are a Minister of Education who does not know what he is doing to our education system and our students, and furthermore, I'm not sure you care. I know what you're doing and I'm calling you on it, because not only are you cutting instruction in math and English and science, you are denying students who want to go to college and university a classroom education.

You have said that you are planning to give students an academic credit for finding a summer job. Let me be clear. We support co-op education, we support apprenticeship programs, but a student-arranged program, be it a summer job or any other, is a far cry from co-op education or apprenticeship training. There is no standard, no evaluation, no supervision and no guarantee that it relates to any training for any job at all. You are not allowing students to have this as an option. You are denying them classroom education. You are forcing them out of the classroom and into this work experience for 20% to 40% of their time.

You will save money doing that, Minister, because there will be fewer credits in the classroom, fewer teachers and a lot fewer dollars, and that's what this is all about, but your policy will lock thousands of students into low-skilled jobs from which they have no escape. How do you justify setting this kind of trap for young people just to find money to pay for your tax cut?

Hon Mr Snobelen: It's very difficult to explain what we might or might not do in the imagination of the Leader of the Opposition, and so I suppose in the imagination of the Leader of the Opposition we might or might not do anything. I can tell you what we are doing, Mr Speaker. What we are doing is working with an advisory council made up of the education community. We are going to prepare a draft document of what we might possibly do in a four-year program. It will be based on best experiences of other jurisdictions and the best advice we have from educators. When we have that draft document, we will work with educators, with parents and with students across the province to design the best curriculum for our students, the best curriculum in Canada. That's our intention.


Mrs Lyn McLeod (Leader of the Opposition): My second question is to the Minister of Education and Training. Given his draft document and what it will do to destroy public education in this province, I sincerely hope that before the official draft document comes out they've gone back to the drawing-board, as they had to do on the toolkit that became more of a demolition kit with explosives going off everywhere you look, and it's one of those explosives I want to ask the minister about.

Minister, in answer to a question on Monday you said you'd not made any special deals with school boards to implement your spending cuts. I want to turn to a different kind of special deal today, because we have some information that indicates that you forced the Metropolitan Toronto School Board into a backroom deal, one that allows you to pick the pocket of Metro taxpayers for some $65 million, money that is supposed to be used for local education. According to our information, here's how you're going to take the $65 million from Metro ratepayers: You're going to reduce the funding for special-needs students; you're going to stop paying for special access students, the students from separate school boards who use public school facilities; and you're going to basically do a paper shuffle, which means you get more money by stretching the time you take the money over a longer period of time.

Minister, will you confirm the existence of this agreement with the Metro Toronto board? Will you confirm that you forced this deal on Metro school board trustees so that you could take $65 million from the pockets of local taxpayers in Metro Toronto?

Hon John Snobelen (Minister of Education and Training): What I believe the Leader of the Opposition is referring to are the arrangements made by the Ministry of Education and Training with the Metro board as a result of the social contract, and the permanent savings that were entrenched in the social contract, in that fairly articulate description of the mechanisms that were used by the Metro board and the Ministry of Education to have those savings happen relevant to the social contract. As I'm sure the honourable member is aware, the social contract has expired. We are seeking permission in Bill 34 to enter into an agreement with the negative grant boards in Ottawa and Metro Toronto, and when we have passage of Bill 34 we'll discuss this with representatives of those two boards.

I can assure the Speaker and the member opposite that the Metro board and the Ottawa board are sophisticated people who represent the interests of the people who elect them, and I expect that they will do that in their discussions with us.

Mrs McLeod: I take that as confirmation of the backroom agreement that was reached with the Metro Toronto board of education and it does take me back, Minister, to hearing you repeatedly say in this House that you are confident that the Metro Toronto school board would voluntarily give you $65 million of local taxpayers' money. Let me say this to you directly: The Metro Toronto school board is not giving you this money voluntarily. They are giving it to you, Minister, because you're forcing them to. They are giving it to you because you put a gun to their head and you threatened them with even a worse deal if they didn't give this to you.

Minister, I understand that one of the options you considered is that if the board didn't go along with this deal, you would have forced the board to cover the cost of teacher pension contributions, which is currently borne by the province. That was just one option, a big gun to the Metro Toronto board's head. Isn't it true that you used this political blackmail to arrive at this secret deal with the Metro Toronto public school board, and isn't it true that if Metro didn't agree to this deal you were prepared to take other steps to grab $65 million you are not entitled to in order to pay for Mike Harris's income tax cut?

Hon Mr Snobelen: Again let me compliment the Leader of the Opposition on her use of imagination. I have never seen such a stunning demonstration of a use of imagination in one single afternoon. The Leader of the Opposition purports to know what I think. I don't know whether she knows perhaps how I feel. I'm not sure, but her imagination is very fruitful.


I don't know where this conjecture comes from, but I have no difficulty in understanding that the Leader of the Opposition probably has some difficulty herself in understanding the concept that there is in Ontario but one taxpayer, the taxpayer who pays residential taxes, the taxpayer who pays income taxes and what we are up to as a government, in concert with school boards, is to create a school system that has higher value for those taxpayers, that has higher student achievement for a lower cost.

That was the objective of this government and I expect that to be the objective of every board of education in the province.

Mrs McLeod: Minister, I have no difficulty at all understanding ministerial blackmail, extortion, bullying, intimidation, call it what you will, even though I have never seen it before, and there is no doubt that's what we are seeing here.

This minister is also seeking to grab $10 million --

Mrs Margaret Marland (Mississauga South): On a point of order, Mr Speaker.

The Speaker (Hon Allan K. McLean): I'll take your point of order up after question period is over.

Mr Chris Stockwell (Etobicoke West): You can't pick and choose when you take a point of order.

The Speaker: If it has to do with what's transpiring now, the member for Mississauga South.

Mrs Marland: I'd like to ask you if "extortion" and "blackmail" are parliamentary words in this chamber under your Speaker.

The Speaker: I listened very carefully to the member that was asking the question, and I had some doubts myself of whether it was parliamentary or not. However, if the member asking the question feels that it was unparliamentary, I would ask her to withdraw.

Mrs McLeod: No, Mr Speaker, I do not, and I would happily seek your guidance in choosing any of those words at all to describe what is blackmail, extortion, bullying or intimidation.

I say to this minister, on the same issue, that you are also seeking to grab $10 million in property taxes from local taxpayers in Ottawa, and in the same way, I believe, you are prepared to place a gun to the head of the Ottawa Board of Education to make sure you get the money.

You will know there was an article about this issue in last Thursday's Ottawa Citizen. It questioned -- a question we all have -- why the Ottawa board would voluntarily write you a cheque for $10 million of their taxpayers' money, and a source within the Ministry of Education is quoted as saying, "We think they'll cooperate in the end." Now we know why.

Minister, are you preparing to blackmail the Ottawa board in exactly the same way that you have blackmailed the Toronto board and will you stop blackmailing these boards?

Hon Mr Snobelen: The flights of fantasy, the imagination, the conjecture continues in question period today. This must be the Walt Disney version of question period.

I can only assume that this kind of conjecture and these flights of fantasy, these questions of blackmail must be predicated on the member's past experience. I don't know what else they would be predicated on.

I can assure the member opposite of this, that I believe -- I'm not sure that she believes this, but I believe -- that the boards of education across the province are committed to the same thing as this government is committed to, and that is delivering a higher value to the taxpayers of Ontario. That's better student achievement for fewer dollars, and that's what we all intend to deliver.

The Speaker: New question, leader of the third party.

Mr Bud Wildman (Algoma): I have a question to the Minister of Education and Training. I want to say that we all know that a deal was worked out with Ms Vanstone, that it's already in place and you're just waiting to announce it.


Mr Bud Wildman (Algoma): My question, though, is related to the quality of education in this province, and I think back to when the now Premier was the leader of the third party and stood in this place and emphasized at every turn the need for core programs in education and criticized any perceived move away from the protection of core programs.

Yesterday we heard from the principals of high schools across the province who came here to Queen's Park to express their concern about what they consider to be the dismantling of education system and the threats to quality education in Ontario because of the commitments made by this government, apparently, in the paper to cut by about 190 to 200 hours core programs in English, in math and in science courses, not because of the commitment to lower the number of years in high school but because of a commitment to require students to have a mandatory work experience of up to 40% of their course load.

Will the minister now commit that he will not replace quality education programs, core programs in English and math, with the flipping of burgers at Harvey's or McDonald's?

Hon John Snobelen (Minister of Education and Training): I hope the member opposite's comments on flipping burgers, the somewhat flippant comments, if you will, don't want to treat with any disrespect the people who do that for a living and people who have actually started their careers in the service industry. I hope that's not intended.

I can't inform the honourable member of decisions that this government has not made. I obviously can't inform him of commitments we don't have. I can tell him the commitments that we do have: We have a commitment to expanding the core curriculum in our secondary school program; we have a commitment to having a more demanding curriculum in our secondary school program; we have a commitment to maintaining high standards of student achievement for those students who are university-bound, and we have a commitment to the 60% of students who leave high school and go to work. We think those young people are important to the future of this province.

Mr Wildman: I don't need any lectures from this minister about being flippant in this House. This guy is more flippant than any other member on the government side.

Bill White, principal of Stephen Leacock Collegiate in Scarborough, stated yesterday that the document that was published was "conceived in obsessive secrecy." The minister has said that he intends to get input from educators and boards and parents over the summer. We know that is an inadequate approach to getting public input and input from those with expertise in the field.

Will the minister at least agree to slow down this process and give teachers and parents and students the opportunity, a real opportunity, to have input into these changes, keeping in mind the commitment his leader made to increasing core programs and protecting core programs rather than replacing them with whatever is being proposed in this paper?

Hon Mr Snobelen: I thank the honourable member for the subsequent question, because it gives me a chance, for the third time today, to say publicly and say on the record that our party is committed to expanding the core subjects that are taught in our secondary schools. We think that's an important part of the quality of our education program.

The discussion paper that's being speculated on by members opposite this afternoon has not been released. It is not finished. We have got an advisory committee together of people from the education community, a fairly broad group, to produce a draft document. We intend to take that draft document and work with parents, with teachers, with educators, people in the education community, to produce -- and I'll say this again, because I'm proud to say it -- the best secondary school program in Canada, bar none.

Mr Wildman: First this minister created a financial crisis in education and now he's trying to create a curriculum crisis.

I have with me over 2,000 postcards from people in Simcoe county addressed to the Minister of Education and to the Premier. I would send these over. These cards say: "Don't cut back on student opportunities. Cuts to public education hurt students, and parents have a right to protect their future." Is the minister prepared to commit the resources, financial and expert, to ensure that we have the proper mandatory evaluation and monitoring of these work-related programs to ensure that they are part of an excellent education system and that they will meet the needs of students today and in their future? Are there going to be the resources required to ensure the monitoring of the programs chosen and how they operate?

Hon Mr Snobelen: The taxpayers of Ontario currently contribute about $14 billion to our school system, and that's a lot of resources that we get from them. We intend to create a school system that represents a better value for those taxpayers, for parents and for students. We will do that.

In terms of co-op we have not, as I've said, announced our intentions for a four-year program. When we do, we'll do it in draft form. We'll talk to people who have experienced co-op education. We'll make sure it's a quality program. I have been to a variety of schools over the course of the last six months, I've witnessed young people in co-op education programs and I can tell you what they've told me. They've told me that those are very valuable experiences for them.

Again, 60% of our students in high school do not go to university; they go to the world of work. They want to make a contribution to our province, and I think that co-op is making a significant contribution to those young people. We intend to expand and improve that program.



Ms Marilyn Churley (Riverdale): My question is for the Minister of Environment and Energy. Last week the House passed my resolution calling on the government to establish timetables for sunsetting persistent toxic chemicals that affect our health. In doing so, they recognize the serious health effects of air and water pollution. It's time for you to take action to protect human health.

Would you agree that when it comes to human health, precautionary principles should prevail, meaning that if there is any doubt about the health effects of a pollutant, we should effect and exercise extreme caution in allowing that pollutant to continue to be emitted?

Hon Brenda Elliott (Minister of Environment and Energy): I agree with my colleague across the way and I think every citizen in the province would agree that with any toxic substance there should always be caution taken.

Ms Churley: Metro council is considering proposals for garbage incinerators. One site that is being considered by a private proponent in my riding is the old Commissioners site in south Riverdale. Minister, your own ministry has linked dioxin to municipal solid waste incinerators. Many recent studies have shown that there is zero, no safe level for dioxin. It is a known to be a very dangerous carcinogenic. Your government is now allowing incinerators after our government said no.

Your talk of reform to the Environmental Assessment Act has many people concerned, and now more concerned than ever. A full EA would require Metro to demonstrate the need and alternatives to the incinerator. I'm sure you would agree that Metro should look at all the alternatives before proceeding with something that would seriously endanger human health.

I'm asking you, Minister, will you commit today to a full environmental assessment where Metro will have to demonstrate the need for the incinerator and provide alternatives?

Hon Mrs Elliott: The environmental protection of air, water and soil for the people in this province is our ministry's foremost consideration. My colleague across the way talks about incineration. Yes, it's true that we have lifted the ban on incineration. We are very proud of the fact that when we did lift that ban to once again allow incineration as an option for dealing with waste problems in Ontario, we put incineration among the strictest controls in the province, unlike the opposition across the way who, while they put that ban on incineration during their term of government, allowed incinerators that were still operating to continue in the province of Ontario and kind of forget that while they talk about how terrible incineration really is.

We have said from the beginning that dealing with waste problems is the responsibility of each individual municipality, and they must determine what is the best option for their individual needs and the citizens of their area.

Ms Churley: Minister, talk about doublespeak. It's time for you to start saying what you really mean here. We are talking about putting a huge garbage incinerator in the heart of downtown Toronto in a residential area and in the heart of the film industry in the city of Toronto. You didn't answer my question.

On October 23, the member for Ottawa South asked the Premier, "Do you still...believe that Ontario's dumps" -- and he was speaking to dumps -- "ought to be the subject of full and public hearings under the Environmental Assessment Act?" Your Premier answered, "Yes, I do."

You have on several occasions contradicted the Premier and said that indeed you are reviewing the EA process -- and don't laugh; I have many clips of it here. Here today you, as the Minister of Environment and Energy, still have not given me an answer. Are you ruling out a full EA or aren't you? I am asking you once again to commit today to my constituents in Riverdale and to the people of Ontario, because dioxins spread far and wide, that you will commit to a full environmental assessment before any incinerator is built anywhere in Ontario.

Hon Mrs Elliott: As I said earlier, we have lifted the ban on incinerations, and in so doing we have put incinerators back in Ontario with among the strictest standards in the entire world.

When I campaigned to run for this office, I can tell you that I heard from people all across this province who said that the environmental assessment process as it relates to waste is broken. In my own municipality and the municipalities all across this province we've spent millions of dollars and we've spent years of frustrated efforts trying to find landfill sites or solutions to deal with our waste, and they have failed miserably. That tells me the environmental assessment as it deals with waste does not work and is in need of dramatic reform. We are doing that. We have not yet finalized how we're going to do that, but I can tell you that we have enormous support in making those changes that are desperately needed.


Mr Michael A. Brown (Algoma-Manitoulin): I have a question for the Minister of Environment and Energy also. We know the Ministry of Environment has had a 30% staffing cut, we know the Ministry of Environment has lost $200 million worth of funding, we know the Ministry of Environment has not presented to this Legislature a core business plan, and yet we are presented with a wholesale weakening of environmental regulations across this province.

I want to ask the minister: Given the fact that the member for Lincoln, that known advocate of weak environmental regulation, is in charge of this process, could she tell me and commit to me that she will not be weakening the various regulations, all 80 of which are under her control, with regard to the environment?

Hon Brenda Elliott (Minister of Environment and Energy): Like all ministries, my ministry is taking its share and doing its part to help restore this province to fiscal soundness. I think we only have to look at countries such as those in the eastern bloc to determine what happens when an economy falls apart, what terrible things happen to the environment. I am firmly convinced, as is this government, that a healthy balance between a healthy environment and a healthy economy is absolutely essential.

There are 80 regulations in my ministry, some of them much older than I am, that need to be carefully reviewed to avoid duplication with other ministries, to avoid overlap with other regulations, and I am very comfortable in undertaking that review. I think it will be good for the province of Ontario and for the citizens who rely on those regulations in their daily activities.


Mr Michael Brown: She gave us no commitment at all regarding whether these regulations will be maintained. For example, I want to tell the House that she's talking about effluent monitoring and effluent limits; she's talking about gasoline volatility; she's talking about air contaminants; she's talking about deep-well disposal and she's talking about hauled-in liquid industrial waste disposal sites, on all of which her government in previous incarnations did not have a strong record.

What we want to know from the minister is what kind of public consultation process will take place? The one that is being advertised over the EBR registry these days is totally unacceptable. You have talked to your friends so far, but you have not talked to the broader Ontario public. We want to know what kind of public consultation process will be involved so that we and the public of Ontario can be assured that we have strong environmental regulations in this province.

Hon Mrs Elliott: With regard to regulatory review, all I can say is that it's about time we did some housekeeping in many of these ministries to clean up and make our regulations more effective and useful.

We are receiving submissions from people all across this province today, and I would say that if there is any citizen or any member of this House who has ideas or requests, we are most welcome to receive them at any time.

We believe that probably around the end of May we will have the first stage of our regulatory review finished, and there will be an opportunity for public consultation and comment on that review over the summer.


Mrs Marion Boyd (London Centre): My question was for the Solicitor General, who does not appear to be here again this afternoon, so I will direct my question to the Attorney General, who is the chief law officer of the province.

You and your party, and certainly your leader Mike Harris, used to say that there was only one taxpayer, and we agree. That's still true, but huge cuts to municipalities are hurting the people of Ontario. One of the ways that they're hurting us is in terms of public safety issues, which we heard yesterday are very important to your government.

I wonder if you know that there's a huge battle that's brewing in Wallaceburg, Ontario, between the police services board, the council of the town and the police association about how that particular municipality is going to offset your government's cuts in money transferred to the municipality.

The chair of the police services board and town councillor, Ron Tack, has said, and I'll quote him from a letter that he wrote to the Solicitor General: "Mike Harris has told us to be lean and mean. He has challenged us to make creative cuts, but he hasn't given us the tools to do our job. Now we face roadblocks. Taxpayers are the ones who are suffering."

The other side of this comes from Sheri Oliphant, who's the head of the police association, who says: "This government made a promise that policing would not be cut, but municipalities need to come up with the money." She goes on to state: "There is a high crime rate in Wallaceburg and we can't afford to lose officers."

Because of these cuts the town of Wallaceburg and the police services board together have laid off two probationary cadets and a probationary dispatcher. As a result, they have been taken to the Ontario Civilian Commission on Police Services, which is responsible for maintaining public safety in terms of police services boards' decisions.

My question is that since the Common Sense Revolution states funding for law enforcement and justice will be guaranteed, how is the town of Wallaceburg to implement these cuts in its policing budget and why did you lead people to believe that you could implement your irresponsible tax cut without --

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

Hon Charles Harnick (Attorney General, minister responsible for native affairs): It's my understanding that the reductions to municipalities are about 2% of their total spending. It's also my understanding that in reading the article that the member has obviously read that was in the Globe and Mail yesterday, the town of Wallaceburg asked the police force to look for imaginative ways that cuts could be made and that they, in essence, refused to do so. This, I believe, is something that they found necessary to do. In fact, I think that the police wanted no part in dealing with looking for any means to reduce expenditures.

I certainly don't want to comment on what is now taking place before a board and deal with any of that, but I do think that the town asked the police service to look and see if they could make cuts and they refused to do so.

Mrs Boyd: This is not a question of what's happening in front of that board. It is just an example of what's happening all over the province with respect to public safety because of your massive cuts to municipalities.

Let's talk about what your promises were with respect to law enforcement. Under the Common Sense Revolution, page 28, "The province should be working directly with police forces in the province to determine their staffing needs, and with municipal governments to establish mutual funding arrangements to meet those needs."

Again in the Common Sense Revolution: "The people of Ontario are rightly concerned about community safety in our province, particularly the increasing incidence of violent crime. That is why funding for law enforcement and justice will be guaranteed."

The government is telling the municipalities that they must cut millions of dollars out of their budgets without raising taxes, and we've heard again and again your Treasurer say things like: "There should not be hundreds of millions of dollars in increases in user fees by municipalities. If there are, then those municipal leaders are quite frankly not doing their jobs and they are not thinking through restructuring."

You promised policing would not be cut. You promised it again and again. You admit in the Common Sense Revolution that funding restrictions have direct effects on the ability of the police to meet the needs of their communities. This isn't about the OCCPS; it's about funding cuts to municipalities that are putting in danger the people of Ontario because public safety is being endangered. I ask you again, what do you have to say to municipalities who are trying to preserve public safety?

Hon Mr Harnick: What I have to say is that the municipal reductions are 2% of total spending and 2% is easily achievable if people work together to look for the best ways to do it. Quite simply, when we have $100 billion in debt, 2% of reduction in spending is not a lot to ask for.

Mr Mike Colle (Oakwood): Forty-eight per cent.

Hon Mr Harnick: I remind the member who made the allegations a moment ago that those allegations are just incorrect. The Metropolitan Toronto Police Force is about to add 300 officers to their force, the most hired in decades. The Ontario Provincial Police has added front-line police officers to its force and they in fact have a greater complement of officers now than they had before. So I say to the member that the premise of her question and the facts she leads with are wrong.


Mr Tom Froese (St Catharines-Brock): My question is to the Minister of Education and Training.


Mr Froese: I'm sure the member for Sudbury wants to hear this question, as indeed do all the members of this House.

Recently I read a story about how the Sudbury boards, both the separate school board and the public school board, have been required to pay some $2.6 million to retiring teachers in one year for unused sick leave. I'm concerned about this payment and such payments that might affect other school boards across the province and indeed the school boards in the Niagara region.

Minister, is this an extreme example of millions of dollars flowing out of local school boards to fund retirement gratuities for teachers or is this payment common?

Hon John Snobelen (Minister of Education and Training): I want to thank the member for St Catharines-Brock for the question. I think everyone in this chamber should be aware of the fact that taxpayers are very concerned about this subject. I've had a lot of calls from taxpayers throughout the province over the past few days about the stories that have emerged about the $8.2-billion deficit that taxpayers are responsible for in the teachers' pension fund. A lot of taxpayers were disturbed and very concerned to find out that next year the provincial government will contribute almost $1 billion to that pension fund.

In addition to that, on the subject the member has brought up, which is sick leave gratuities, the school boards and teachers' unions have negotiated packages throughout the province that have teachers get sick leave gratuities when they retire. In fact, by some estimates --


Hon Mr Snobelen: I know the people across the way here may not be interested in this, but I assure you their constituents are.

This has amounted to a $1-billion unfunded liability on behalf of the boards. The taxpayers will have to pay for these sick leave gratuities and they are very concerned about it. Over the next five years, almost 20,000 teachers will be retiring and this will mean the taxpayer will be responsible for $600 million of these sick leave gratuities.


Mr Froese: The figure of $1 billion owed by local school boards in unused sick days seems almost too much to comprehend. Minister, are the school boards prepared to meet the burden of this debt?

Hon Mr Snobelen: I thank the honourable member. That's what's disturbing for the taxpayers. In fact, the billion dollars or so is an unfunded liability. As many as half of the school boards in Ontario have made no provision at all for sick leave gratuities, and again, it will represent $600 million over the next five years.

To help school boards and the teachers' unions arrive at some arrangements that may be more palatable to the taxpayers of the province, we have put a provision in Bill 34 that will end the provincial requirement, the requirement in the Education Act, for 20 days of sick time per year for teachers and will allow school boards to negotiate a package with the teachers' unions that is more representative of the normal packages for sick leave across the province and in the private sector.


Mr Dominic Agostino (Hamilton East): My question is to the Minister of Environment and Energy. Numerous houses in the Hamilton beach strip in my riding were covered by coal dust in an incident where it blew across the harbour in January 1994, coming from local industry. Almost two years of investigations by your ministry, and there were charges being laid against Stelco and Dofasco as a result of the incident. The process was lengthy, it was complex and to quote your district supervisor, Mr Slater, "It's a long, drawn-out process when going through formal charges."

On Friday these charges were dropped when the crown attorney representing the Ministry of Environment said, "These trials would be lengthy and expensive when considered in relation to the gravity of the alleged offence." Maybe, Minister, it's a coincidence that your reduction package of two weeks ago labelled these complaints as a nuisance and low priority and these charges were dropped. Can you tell the House today why the charges were dropped and what you are going to do to protect the residents of the beach strip in Hamilton and across Ontario from these types of incidents?

Hon Brenda Elliott (Minister of Environment and Energy): The first thing is that we want to assure the people that if environmental laws are being broken we take this seriously and that polluters will be prosecuted by this government. Prosecutions or charges of such sort are handled by members of the Attorney General's office.

The information given to me indicates that the charges in this case were laid. They relate to coal dust believed to have been blowing in January 1994, causing discolouration of harbour ice and snow, and that there were 11 complaints of dirty cars, windows and porches.

I'm advised that the reasons the Attorney General's prosecutor withdrew the charges were the following: More than two years had passed and the problem seemed largely resolved; both companies had taken a number of positive steps since these charges were laid and there had been no recurrence of these events in almost two years; the scheduled trials of the charges would have been lengthy and expensive without assurance of conviction.

Mr Agostino: Minister, you've told us absolutely nothing new in your response. Basically, talk is cheap and the platitudes you're giving today on the environment are cheap. Ministry of Environment officials tell us these charges were dropped due to a new political direction. It's clear, Minister, that you have set this political direction. You have set this political direction by a 30% cut; you eliminated 750 positions. The direction has been set by the fact that you have labelled these type of complaints as nuisance and low priority within your own ministry.

The message you're sending out is that environmental protection in residential neighbourhoods is not important, that enforcement is not important. You're going to stand on the sidelines and watch 20 years of progress go down the drain as a result of your gutting of your ministry. Your decision to drop these charges were a result of the message you have sent out and your ministry has sent out that this is not a priority.

Minister, will you stand up today and take full political responsibility for these charges being dropped and give us the specific details of how you are going to continue to enforce environmental standards in Ontario with this 30% reduction in staffing?

Hon Mrs Elliott: I indicate once again that we believe environmental laws must be strongly enforced in this province, but there are many ways of achieving the same environmental standards, and not necessarily through prosecution. These decisions of whether or not to prosecute are made not by my ministry but by lawyers from the Attorney General's office who rely on their best advice and their best knowledge on whether or not to proceed.


Mr Gilles Bisson (Cochrane South): My question is to the Minister of Northern Development and Mines. You know that a few weeks ago in this House, your government made announcements in regard to the business plans of all the various ministries within the government of Ontario. Specifically within your own ministry, you announced that through these business plans, "The ministry will continue to phase out economic and social funding (capital and operational) over the next two years," for all economic and social funding programs.

Does this mean the elimination of programs such as the unincorporated community capital assistance program, that it will be gone, a program that pays for infrastructure in small northern communities? Does this mean that the small communities improvement program, the supplementary northern assistance program and the medical and dental assistance program that goes to fund both capital and operational requirements of medical and dental clinics in remote northern communities will be gone? Minister, can you verify that these are the effects of your decisions as they relate to your business plans?

Hon Chris Hodgson (Minister of Natural Resources, Northern Development and Mines): As the member opposite knows full well, we're trying to re-establish the northern development ministry on priorities instead of being a cheque-writing service or a top-up ministry.

We've consolidated the infrastructure to say that roads are important. The reduction in the road budget will be $5 million this year and in the following year another $5 million, and that bodes well when you look at our priority of infrastructure. We also recognize other remote communities' access. If you look at that, we've maintained the funding for that. The heritage fund is said to be a priority and we've maintained the funding for that on the capital.

On the operating side, we've left intact the front-line services, and I think the member would realize that's after talking to northerners when they said that they wanted to have front-line services intact. The member knows full well that last week's announcement meant that all the northern development offices are left in these small communities, as well as the mining and recorder offices.

Mr Bisson: I find it somewhat interesting, because in speaking to your own staff within your ministry in northern Ontario, they confirmed that in fact this is what's going to happen, that you're pulling the funding away from all those programs that are necessary and crucial for your ministry to support northern communities and northern residents.

I want to draw your attention, Minister, to a document that was put out by the then leader of the third party, Mike Harris, back in January 1995, A Voice for the North. It's interesting, because when you read in regard to northern Ontario, it says that in the Tory document A Voice for the North, released in 1995, it says you will re-establish the Ministry of Northern Development and Mines as the senior ministry for northern Ontario. Minister, it already was before you got here. You're the guy who's dismantling it. You're taking away all the programs for northerners and for northern communities.

How does cutting funding for these key programs make your ministry the lead ministry when you won't have any programs to deliver to northerners in northern communities?

Hon Mr Hodgson: What we found when we did the consultation prior to the last election on the tour around northern Ontario was that they wanted a change in the direction. They didn't want the northern development ministry just to be a cheque-writing service or a top-up from other line ministries; they wanted real input.

Delivering programs is based on northern priorities, and that is consolidating the capital. Instead of just saying, "Because of this line budget, we can get this leftover program and this one," we wanted to go to the priorities that exist in each community. When we talked to people they said they wanted the front-line services and access to the government, and that's what we prioritized on, the northern development offices. All of them are intact. A couple of weeks ago the rumours were that we were closing all the front-line offices. That's what you were on to a couple of weeks ago.

I think you'll find that this business plan refocuses our ministry so we have input on policies before they become in effect, and that's what a lead ministry is, to take the concerns of northerners so that they have the front-end impact on policies that are made in Toronto.



Mr Dan Newman (Scarborough Centre): My question today is for the Minister of Citizenship, Culture and Recreation. Last week, the honourable minister announced our government's new initiative for vulnerable adults. This new initiative was designed to replace the former government's Advocacy Commission.

A number of my constituents in Scarborough Centre have contacted me with questions as to how effective this new initiative will be. I would ask the minister to explain to this House how our $3-million initiative will result in more services that are as effective or more effective than the $18-million system provided by the Advocacy Commission.

Hon Marilyn Mushinski (Minister of Citizenship, Culture and Recreation): I thank the honourable member for Scarborough Centre. First of all, I believe that all three political parties in this House agree we have a duty to respect the autonomy and dignity of our society's most vulnerable members. This was totally apparent during the committee hearing deliberations on Bill 19. But if we differ, it is in our approach to how we provide assistance to the most vulnerable.

The Advocacy Commission, which was created by the previous government, was a very bureaucratic, intrusive and costly response to addressing the needs of vulnerable adults. The key to our initiative is really how we're going to spend the money. Most of this $3 million will go directly to community-based services, which means no new bureaucracy and no new legislation. It is a matter of doing better with less.

Mr Newman: I would ask the minister if she would please explain to this House how the $3 million will be allocated.

Hon Ms Mushinski: Almost all of the $3 million will be spent in the community. There is no new bureaucracy to support this $3 million. About $2.25 million, which is almost double that of the 1995-96 community action fund allocation, will be used to support community organizations for projects that support the coordination of community-based advocacy services, the development of training modules for professional bodies, the training of volunteers and promotion of the use of volunteers and the development of information and other resources helpful to vulnerable adults and their families.

The remaining funds will be used to support an information and referral service and a clearinghouse for information and training resources and to support the strategies to deal with abuse and neglect.


Mr Gerry Phillips (Scarborough-Agincourt): My question is to the Minister of Finance. It has to do with the impact of the tax cut on the revenues of the province. We know you'll be proceeding with the tax cut in a couple of weeks; we know that the Premier said the costs will be roughly $4.5 billion. The thing we find surprising is that the government has said that the tax cut will fund itself. In other words, you'll cut the taxes, but that will generate so much extra economic activity that you will actually get back the same amount of revenue in taxes as you would have got without the tax cut. For many people in the province, that came as a bit of a surprise.

Because this is absolutely fundamental to the government's economic plan, will the Minister of Finance table in the House the study that led the government to conclude that the tax cut will fund itself?

Mr James J. Bradley (St Catharines): Is there a back of an envelope there, Ernie?

Hon Ernie L. Eves (Deputy Premier, Minister of Finance and Government House Leader): Sorry, I couldn't help but find some bemusement about the member for St Catharines's interjection. However, as I'm sure the honourable member opposite will be aware and already anticipates, there is no study reflecting the statement that he's just made. However, obviously the approach taken by the two previous governments of increasing rates of taxation -- they increased, for example, combined over the last 10 years, personal income tax in the province 11 times. Despite the fact that the last government increased the rate of taxation, it received less revenue, so we know that approach certainly doesn't work.

Mr Phillips: Let me be very blunt. The Premier has said publicly many times that the tax cut will fund itself. I think the Premier just simply made that up. This is snake oil economics. You have no evidence to support that, but he is saying that publicly. This is absolutely fundamental to your plan: It will fund itself. The Premier has said it. The money markets believe you have some evidence of that.

Mr Chris Stockwell (Etobicoke West): We do.

Mr Phillips: The member says, "We do." All I am saying, Minister, is this: Because so much of the future of this province depends on the credibility of the Premier on financial matters, and because he has said publicly that the tax cut will fund itself, this is extremely important. I say once again to the minister, you owe it to the House, you owe it to the people of Ontario, to table the evidence that led the Premier to conclude that the tax cut will fund itself. Will you table whatever information you've got that led the Premier to reach that important public conclusion?

Hon Mr Eves: I believe that over time indeed the tax cut will fund itself, and then some. Talking about a snake oil statement, I presume the member opposite has some respect for the following people who appeared before the finance committee and testified that in fact the tax cut will create jobs and more revenue for the province of Ontario: the Canadian Federation of Independent Business; Patti Croft, chief economist, Canada Trust; Bill Robson, senior policy analysis, C.D. Howe Institute; the Ontario Natural Gas Association; Wallace Kenny, the Ontario Chamber of Commerce; Don McIver, chief economist, Sun Life Assurance Co; Peter Woolford, senior vice-president, Retail Council of Canada; the Canadian Chemical Producers' Association; Judith Andrew, director of provincial policy, Canadian Federation of Independent Business --

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


Ms Shelley Martel (Sudbury East): I have a question for the Minister of Natural Resources, Northern Development and Mines regarding bus deregulation. As minister, you are responsible for the Ontario Northland Transportation Commission, and as such you will know that the ONTC's bus service in the north represents the only line-haul carrier north of Bracebridge on the Highway 11 corridor and the only line-haul carrier operating north of Sudbury on the Highway 69-144 corridor.

In its 1996 business plan, the ONTC said this about bus deregulation, and I quote: "The anticipated deregulation of the bus industry in 1998 is a serious threat to bus operations, which has been a marginal commercial business for the ONTC."

Minister, your legislation will directly impact northern communities like Kapuskasing, Timmins, Hearst and Cochrane. I want to know what you are going to do to protect northern transportation for people who are living in our communities.

Hon Chris Hodgson (Minister of Natural Resources, Northern Development and Mines): The Northland corporation, through the ONTC, has a board of directors, and their staff are looking into this and drawing up an analysis on the impact.

Mr Gilles Bisson (Cochrane South): You are the minister.

Hon Mr Hodgson: That's why we have a board, I say to the member from Cochrane. When their information is available, I'll make it available to you as well.

The Speaker (Hon Allan K. McLean): The time for oral question period has expired.


Mr Dwight Duncan (Windsor-Walkerville): On a point of order, Mr Speaker: I refer to standing order 32(a), which reads, "A minister of the crown may make a short factual statement relating to government policy, ministry action or other similar matter of which the House should be informed."

Earlier today --

The Speaker: Order. There's nothing out of order.

Mr Gerry Phillips (Scarborough-Agincourt): On another point of order, Mr Speaker: I asked the Minister of Finance if he could name one economist or one person who says the tax cut will fund itself, and you cut him off before --

The Speaker: Order.



Mr Tony Ruprecht (Parkdale): I have a petition to the Legislative Assembly of Ontario.

"Whereas the Ministry of Health will begin to charge seniors and social assistance recipients a $2 user fee for each prescription filled on June 1, 1996; and

"Whereas health care experts have asserted that user fees for drugs could jeopardize the health of individuals who cannot afford to pay for their medication; and

"Whereas Ontario's ex-psychiatric populace rely heavily on prescription drugs to remain stable, and mental health care providers and the general public are scared of the outcome if these patients cannot afford to buy their medication because of the $2 dispensing fee when it is normal policy to only prescribe them a two- to three-day supply of medication to prevent potential misuse or an overdose; and

"Whereas the perceived savings to health care from the $2 copayment fee will not compensate for the suffering and misery caused by this user fee and will not even cover the costs of extra emergency services nor repeated hospital services. The $2 copayment will consequently not lead to cost savings but rather increases in the case of expensive health care services; and

"Whereas the current Ontario Minister of Health, Jim Wilson, promised as an opposition MPP in a July 5, 1993, letter to Ontario pharmacists that his party would not endorse legislation that will punish patients to the detriment of health care in Ontario;

"We, the undersigned Ontario residents, strongly urge the government to repeal this user fee plan before it takes effect on June 1, 1996, because of the potential dramatic increase in emergency and police services, and the suffering and misery of human lives -- especially psychiatric outpatients and those who depend on medication for their daily survival."

I've affixed my signature to this petition.


Mr Gilles Bisson (Cochrane South): I have here yet another petition from people opposed to rent control. It reads as follows:

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

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

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

Mr Derwyn Shea (High Park-Swansea): Name names.

Mr Bisson: Derwyn Shea.

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

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

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

I've signed that petition.


Mr Bill Grimmett (Muskoka-Georgian Bay): I have a petition forwarded to the member for Eglinton, which I'm presenting today. It is in regard to tax cuts, and it's signed by approximately 40 citizens of the riding of Eglinton.


Mr Dominic Agostino (Hamilton East): "Whereas the Common Sense Revolution states that a Conservative government `will not cut health care'; and

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

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

I affix my signature to the petition.


Mr Gilles Bisson (Cochrane South): I have yet another group of petitions, this time from the people of Toronto, from Moss Park, which read:

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

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


Mr Bill Grimmett (Muskoka-Georgian Bay): I have a petition signed by some 98 people from my riding with regard to fathers who do not pay support for their children. It appears to be in the proper form.


Mr Sean G. Conway (Renfrew North): I am pleased to present a petition which reads in part:

"Whereas the public secondary school 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 Bill Murdoch (Grey-Owen Sound): I have a petition to the Legislature of Ontario.

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


Mr Monte Kwinter (Wilson Heights): I have a petition to the Legislative Assembly of Ontario.

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

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

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

I have affixed my signature.


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

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

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

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

This is signed by a number of individuals who live in Eganville and Pembroke, Ontario, and I have affixed my signature as well, as I agree with this petition.


Mr Dwight Duncan (Windsor-Walkerville): "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 children are our most important resource and are Ontario's future; and

"Whereas the Ontario Child Health Study, 1988, indicated that at any given time, 18% of children and adolescents require mental health services; and

"Whereas recent research studies have proven the positive results and cost-effectiveness of mental health treatment for children and adolescents; and

"Whereas the 95 children's mental health centres in Ontario serve over 85,000 children and their families each year by providing quality programs to address urgent and serious problems; and

"Whereas the cost of providing treatment to children in 95 mental health centres across the province is less than the cost of running one large urban teaching hospital or school board; and


"Whereas mental health service for children and adolescents is not a guaranteed service, unlike that provided for adults; and

"Whereas there are significantly fewer options for treatment and support to families available in communities as a result of past and pending budget reductions;

"Therefore, your petitioners call upon the Legislative Assembly to continue to invest significant resources in children's mental health programs. Our future depends on it. Give children's mental health centres a mandate to continue their work with children and families through appropriate legislation."

I join with the thousands of other fellow citizens in my home town in signing this petition.


Mr James J. Bradley (St Catharines): I have a petition from residents of Ontario to the government of Ontario.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


Mr Rick Bartolucci (Sudbury): I have a very short but important petition 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 signature to the petition as I believe in it.


Mr James J. Bradley (St Catharines): I have a petition addressed to the Honourable Lieutenant Governor and the Legislative Assembly of Ontario.

"Whereas the Niagara region has one of the highest per capita populations of seniors in Ontario; and

"Whereas the Niagara region ranks 32nd out of 38 health regions in long-term-care funding and that more individuals wait for support services from the March of Dimes than those who actually are served by it; and

"Whereas Alzheimer patients who critically depend on support services in order to cope in a more humane way with this devastating illness continue to suffer from unacceptable delays in receiving respite care; and

"Whereas more than half of all Ontario families waiting for Alzheimer-related respite care reside in the Niagara area;

"We, the following undersigned citizens of Ontario, beg leave to petition the Parliament of Ontario to adopt the plan by the Niagara Regional District Health Council which would help improve the way vulnerable people are treated in the Niagara area."

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



Mr Martin, on behalf of Mr Laughren, from the standing committee on government agencies presented the committee's seventh report.

The Speaker (Hon Allan K. McLean): Pursuant to standing order 106(g)11, the report is deemed to be adopted by the House.



Mr Palladini moved second reading of the following bill:

Bill 39, An Act to amend the Ontario Highway Transport Board Act and the Public Vehicles Act and to make consequential changes to certain other Acts / Projet de loi 39, Loi modifiant la Loi sur la Commission des transports routiers de l'Ontario et la Loi sur les véhicules de transport en commun et apportant des modifications corrélatives à certaines autres lois.

Hon Al Palladini (Minister of Transportation): The purpose of this bill is to prepare Ontario for a more competitive intercity bus industry. This government is committed to breaking down barriers to economic growth and investment, and we are committed to tackling the red tape that restricts private sector ingenuity. That's why we are introducing Bill 39 to allow an orderly transition to economic deregulation and to remove barriers that restrict the intercity bus industry. Ontario can look forward to this transition in January 1998.

Ontario's scheduled, charter and school buses, as well as parcel express services, have been regulated for more than 70 years. The intercity bus industry is the last transportation mode in Canada where market entry is restricted. Canada and Ontario have grown and flourished in those years. The intercity bus industry has to be able to compete, to make taking the bus an attractive travel option. At one time it made sense to regulate the intercity bus industry, but the time has come to let the industry decide how best to meet the diverse needs of the communities it serves. In fact, the 1992 Royal Commission on National Passenger Transportation recommended relaxing the regulations on the bus industry.

Deregulation will create healthy competition. I'll give you an example. Today, a bus company with exclusive charter rights in a particular community can charge its customers higher prices because there is no competition. After deregulation, several companies can compete for customers by offering lower prices and more services to meet the demand.

Another benefit of deregulation is improved industry flexibility. If a travel company needs to charter buses for tours, it will be able to hire one bus company for all of its tour routes. Right now, such a company operating in four or five communities might have to deal with as many bus companies.

Deregulation will also improve customer service and promote more and better service options. For instance, one entrepreneur has indicated she would like to offer an exclusive, high-quality service for business travellers. She wants to create a service where customers can relax in a comfortable and spacious van, watch videos, read the newspaper and enjoy a coffee and a snack. I think this is a great idea, and I bet travellers will think so too.

These are just a few examples, but there are many more benefits of removing economic regulations on intercity buses. It will open up opportunities for entrepreneurs to seek out markets and offer convenient new services to Ontarians.

Of course, we don't expect the industry to wake up tomorrow and be fully prepared to compete. Some 70 years of restrictions have influenced the market. With that in mind, we consulted with the industry and came up with a solution that reflects their recommendations. We are setting up an interim regulatory system during the 21 months leading up to full deregulation. The intercity bus industry has agreed to pay the costs of the interim system. It includes a new Ontario Highway Transport Board with a more streamlined procedure, cheaper operating costs and a full cost-recovery strategy.

This interim system will give the industry stability and bus operators time to prepare for a more competitive environment, plus it will give us a chance to work with the federal government and other jurisdictions to encourage deregulation of the bus industry in other provinces. In this way we can ensure Ontario bus companies have fair access to other markets within Canada.

Finally, I'd like to point out that during this interim period we will also set out a process to promote the creation of viable services that respond to the needs of small towns and remote areas. Our goal here is to encourage local entrepreneurs or smaller operators to take over services from existing bus operators who are thinking of downsizing.

I'd like to take this opportunity to reassure the public, and especially people living in small communities across Ontario, that this government is looking out for you. We are committed to working with the bus industry and local community groups to help you keep your local bus service and potentially see that service improve.


A regulated system cannot guarantee service to small-town Ontario and we know that the current system is not. In fact, in the past 15 years, more than 400 communities across Ontario lost their bus service. By removing restrictions on the industry, we can only improve the chances for these communities to get the services they need. When the demand is there, market forces will encourage the private sector to create more local bus services.

In fact, I think people who live in small towns across Ontario will find that their local bus service is an important link in the chain of intercity travel. After all, passengers from smaller towns often transfer to larger buses to get to a central location. Without these so-called feeder services, the larger bus companies would probably not have enough passengers.

However, if some bus companies choose to withdraw their services from communities during the next two years, this government will require they give us and the community fair warning. Bus companies planning to abandon a scheduled service will have to give 90 days' notice, instead of the current 10 days, and those planning to cut bus service by more than one quarter must give 30 days' notice. That's three times as long as required now. Plus, we will require bus companies to continue to provide service until a replacement is found or until the notice period expires, whichever comes first. During that time and in cases of serious hardship, the company must work with the local community and other interested groups in a reasonable effort to find a replacement.

In fact, some local entrepreneurs have already expressed interest in replacing abandoned services or implementing new services to compete with existing bus companies across the province, including northern and southwestern Ontario. These people came forward in response to the negative -- in my view, unfounded -- criticism expressed by those who oppose deregulation.

I'd now like to talk on the other important issue, that is, the issue of public safety. At the Ministry of Transportation, the safety of the travelling public is our top priority. I assure the people of Ontario and members of this House that we will take all necessary measures to ensure the safety of the intercity bus industry.

The increased competition that comes with freer access to the marketplace will not compromise public safety. Deregulation of the bus industry will only affect the economic aspects, such as market entry. This government's existing and planned safety measures, including those announced in my ministry's road safety plan, will uphold the intercity bus industry's excellent safety record.

First of all, the road safety plan includes a safety rating system that will help us measure the safety performances of both truck and bus operators. A truck or bus company safety rating will be available to the public or anyone interested in doing business with them. This puts pressure on the industry to make safety a priority.

Secondly, the road safety plan also calls for increased fines for truck and bus operators who don't meet the standards for safety. Plus, imposing a system like demerit points on truck and bus drivers for industry-related safety offences may also be an option.

Before being allowed on the highway, new bus operators will need to demonstrate that they understand all the safety requirements by completing a written exam. Plus, new bus companies can expect our enforcement officers to audit their place of business within six months of starting up their service. Of course, we will also conduct regular on-road safety blitzes on intercity buses just as with trucks, to sniff out the bad operators and to get them off the road.

We are taking steps to ensure that when deregulation does take effect, we don't have new bus companies arriving on the scene with a view to make some quick cash without the appropriate attention to public safety. That's why we are increasing the insurance requirements for bus operators. This way, we deter fly-by-nighters and encourage only those bus operators that are serious about providing a safe service for the public.

Finally, this government is advocating a national review of bus safety to consider whether special bus safety measures should be in place right across Canada.

Bill 39 responds to the red-tape review that this government promised in the November 1995 economic statement. The Ministry of Transportation has been working with the Red-Tape Review Commission to remove unnecessary or unfair barriers to business growth and job creation.

Deregulating Ontario's intercity bus industry will do just that, and more. I am confident that deregulating Ontario's intercity bus industry will ensure appropriate levels of service based on market demand and the needs of the travelling public. I am confident it will encourage innovation on the part of the existing industry and the many potential newcomers, and I am confident it will ensure a safe, efficient and healthy bus industry.

The Deputy Speaker (Mr Bert Johnson): Questions and comments? Further debate?

Mr Mike Colle (Oakwood): Mr Speaker, I wonder if I could have unanimous consent to divide the time, or the first 90 minutes.

The Deputy Speaker: With whom?

Mr Colle: Just to divide the time.

The Deputy Speaker: With whom?

Mr Colle: On our side, we want to divide the 90 minutes. Just two of us want to speak.

Interjection: Mr Conway and Mr Colle.

The Deputy Speaker: Is it agreed that the time be split between Mr Colle and Mr Conway? It is agreed.

Mr Colle: Thank you, Mr Speaker. I think the minister has found out, like certainly I've found out, that this is a very complex issue. It's not as easy as it looks at first blush. There are many different views on deregulation and the busing industry. If you talk to people who are in the industry, they have different views. I think there is no real true consensus of what the ultimate solution is, so it is not something that I think anybody can say they have the definitive answer on. In other words, how do we provide cost-effective, regular bus transportation across this province and at the same time allow the providers to work in a competitive environment and serve the consumers, the bus customers who are in every community across Ontario?

Again, it is a real challenge to do that, and I think the providers over the last 100 years have known how difficult it is to meet the challenge of Ontario's geography, the distances. Certainly distances sometimes between communities do not make for a profitable enterprise. It's certainly easy to provide bus service perhaps within the Golden Horseshoe, the GTA or near Windsor, but then when you have to service northern Ontario and parts of middle Ontario it becomes quite a challenge to offer regular service.

I think this bill is an attempt to deal with that. The bill is a bit schizophrenic, because originally the ministry and the government announced that they were going to deregulate the bus industry and they were going to do it almost overnight. But I think what happened was that as soon as they made that announcement, they realized it wasn't as easy as that, that instant deregulation caused a lot of problems.

The first one they didn't anticipate was that you couldn't do it unilaterally, because as soon as you deregulate the bus industry in Ontario, it then allows for the bus companies, especially from Quebec, to come into Ontario and operate within Ontario, thereby in essence poaching on businesses here in this province. If you were to deregulate instantly, you would have a problem competing with Quebeckers who could come in and set up shop anywhere in Ontario, whereas Ontario companies would have a difficult time doing that in Quebec. Therefore, the government had to take a step back and realize that you just couldn't carte blanche deregulate. In fact, if you notice when this was first announced by ministry officials, they have a very different interpretation of what was to come with deregulation from what we have before us in this bill.


I guess this was never announced in the House, but this is by Frank D'Onofrio, associate director, Ministry of Transportation. He spoke to the Ontario Motor Coach Association, September 21, and he said: "You're probably wondering what the future will hold. I would like to share with you some of the elements to be found in the future to deregulate the system." First of all, he said, "Safety and proof of insurance would be the only criteria you would need." Nothing else would be required but proof of insurance and safety; then you can get a licence.

He also said: "The provision of bus service will be driven by market forces. If there's no demand there is no service." It was from a purely, as I say, market-driven approach, that there be no interference from government, that you were going to go out there and the market would decide what bus service would be available.

He also said at the time of this announcement to the motor coach industry, "There would be no requirement to prove public necessity and convenience." In other words, the public didn't count. Just as long as you went out there and provided a service, you didn't have to prove it would certainly meet the needs of the public and be convenient to the public.

He also said. "There would be no provincial involvement in resolving unfair competition." This is one of the top bureaucrats in the Ministry of Transportation. He said that the province shouldn't be involved in disputes or in unfair competition. He said the federal Competition Act should get involved.

But as you can see, the government has changed its attitude, because what it's done basically is said, "We were going to deregulate back in September last year," but now they are going to regulate. They still have a regulatory board in place. They've kept the board; fewer members; they're still going to regulate. So these grandiose plans to let market forces decide the bus industry and bus service have basically been thrown out the window.

This statement also said: "Given the current fiscal situation in this province, there will be no provincial government subsidies to ensure the continuation of unprofitable scheduled services" in rural and remote areas. "Again," he said, "no demand, no service." Simple market forces.

The most interesting thing he said was that there was a question on what to do with this. Do you go cold turkey into deregulation or do you phase it in? Speaking to that point this upper-level bureaucrat said: "There are varying points of view as to whether deregulation should be phased in or whether a `cold turkey' approach should be taken, that is, the bus industry is regulated one day and deregulated the next -- the lessons we learned from truck deregulation do not support a transitional approach."

Back in September, the upper level of the bureaucracy was saying that they were going to go cold turkey, that there'd be an announcement and you go right into pure deregulation. It was very plain here. They said that when they went into a transitional phase with trucks, it didn't work. What they've done is they don't want to go cold turkey; they want to go half-baked. So this is one step towards deregulation, one small step, and three steps back. That's what this bill is all about.

To put this in context, what we're talking about in this bill -- Madam Speaker, you would know how important public transportation is to ordinary people -- is we're talking about providing simple bus service to small communities like Actinolite, Barry's Bay, Carleton Place, Cayuga, Eganville, up in the valley, Killaloe Station, Kaladar, up on the way to Ottawa, even the town of Oakwood on Highway 7 near Lindsay, Strathroy, Sutton, Wasaga Beach, Geraldton up north, Hanover, Havelock.

All these small communities are wondering what is the future of public transportation. Because a lot of people cannot afford automobiles. In some families you may be able to afford one automobile, but certainly not the second or third one, therefore, there is a reliance on public transportation. I know that's hard to imagine for people who live in an affluent community who have the good fortune to have three or four cars in their family, but in many small towns in Ontario there isn't the luxury of having three or four automobiles. In fact, in many communities I'm sure there are people who can't afford that first one, so the bus is their link to appointments with doctors, with other professionals, for family visits, for getting to work or whatever it may be. That bus is their link to employment and their link to good health, therefore whatever happens to buses and their service availability is critically important to these people who may not live in communities where regular bus service makes a profit.

These are the people we've got to think about who live in smaller towns and cities across this province. They're the ones who should be consulted along with the people in the industry. There should be a formal process of consultation not only to talk about deregulation; as the minister legitimately has said, he does want to try to provide better service, and there may be ways of doing that, but you have to have a meaningful role for representatives of people in small communities to see how they can provide this better service.

In terms of experience with deregulation, the minister often mentions the fact that 400 bus routes have been lost over the last number of years with regulation in place, as if that proves that regulation doesn't work. The American experience is quite interesting. When Ronald Reagan, the guru of common sense, of snake-oil economics, deregulated the busing industry in the United States in 1982, over 50% of the bus routes were lost.

In Canada you say we've lost bus routes because of regulation; in the United States they still lost bus routes with deregulation. Deregulation or regulation is not a panacea either way for producing more bus routes and good service. There's no direct correlation. In some cases there may be, but there are other factors which will dictate whether or not bus routes are profitable. There are demographic changes; there are changes in the economy of communities where factories close, factories open; there are also changes in terms of lifestyles. If you look at the North American experience over the last 10 years, there obviously has been a massive movement towards the private automobile. A lot of people have used more private automobiles, therefore there are fewer customers for the bus systems across Ontario. Just to perhaps emphasize that fact, the American experience has shown that deregulation has cut back on the bus systems across the United States.

In the UK Maggie Thatcher, another guru of trickle-down economics, deregulated what cows eat, so cows began to eat sheep leftovers, and we have the roots of mad cow disease. She also deregulated the bus industry and what happened there is very interesting. In essence, the bottom line in the UK was about a 25% reduction in the number of people using the bus systems. Sure, profitable routes remained intact, but overall the number of available buses and service diminished. You can't say that deregulation will increase passengers on your buses, nor will it necessarily increase the number of routes. There are other variables, as I said: the economy of areas, lifestyle changes. We also have a population that perhaps is reliant on other alternatives besides the buses that were there once before.


In terms of the legislation itself, it's very interesting that this legislation has quite an arbitrary tone. With the old Ontario Highway Transport Board, you could appeal a decision of the board; you could appeal that through Divisional Court and you could also appeal it to the cabinet. Bill 39 takes the right of appeal away, so if you don't agree -- by the way, I think it ends up being a one-person board you'd go to. Therefore, the decisions of the board are final; appeals to Divisional Court and even petitions to the cabinet are no longer available.

I don't know why they wouldn't allow people -- and I'm not just talking about small bus carriers or a person who owns a limited line; it could be one of the major carriers -- to appeal a decision of this board. This new board, as I said, may end up being the decision of one person. I don't think anybody should have the right to dictate to an industry without the right to appeal.

The taking out of the right of appeal is not a good provision in this bill. If it were left in, it would be a lot fairer in terms of the treatment of people who have to go before this hearing. Remember, this was the board that was supposed to have been abolished. The board still lives, but it has more arbitrary powers, which is certainly contrary to the original cold-turkey approach which was announced but pulled back from.

In terms of the bill itself, we have to look at a number of other factors. I've had a deputation from members -- I think you were at the same meeting when members of the disabled community were very concerned about accessible transportation and the fact that Wheel-Trans cuts had taken place in Metro and they weren't getting the service so they could go to their doctors and their jobs.

I don't see any provision in the bill that addresses the issue of accessibility on to buses for people who are not, as we call it, physically able, in other words, the physically challenged. If you live, let's say, in Actinolite and you don't own a car and you're physically disabled and you have to get to Ottawa or to Perth for an appointment, how does that person who is physically disabled, unable to board a conventional bus, get on a bus? It may seem a very minute issue, but for that person who lives in Actinolite and doesn't own a car and can't access a bus, is there any provision for that person to appeal to some board or government agency to allow them to get accessible transportation to a doctor or a meeting perhaps in Perth or a nearby community?

This bill does not include any reference to accessibility for disabled Ontarians, who have a right to accessible transit, whether it be on city transit or on intercity buses. That's another concern that is not addressed in Bill 39.

The bill before us has made an attempt to rectify an ideological, you might say, challenge for this government. Early on in the mandate of this government, I think all ministers were told, "Go out there and find any regulatory board and get rid of them." In so doing, the Ontario Highway Transport Board was sacrificed on the altar of the Common Sense Revolution.

As a result, it was interesting to note that a number of privately run, for-profit providers in the industry -- the industry is basically a private sector industry that gets regulated -- are upset, strangely enough, by total deregulation. Some of the major providers in the province said, "Total deregulation is nonsense." They do not agree that you should go cold turkey. Therefore we have this half-baked approach, because the private sector knows best. They've said total deregulation may not be the best way to go.

On the other hand, you've got some other suppliers in the private sector who have said, "This government has backtracked." On the promise made by upper-level bureaucrats and the promises made in the Common Sense Revolution about total deregulation, they went out and bought buses because they thought they were going to go into this deregulation cold turkey; they were ready to go. Then, come April, this government said: "By the way, we've changed our minds. We're not going to deregulate. We're going to almost deregulate." So there are also people in the private sector who say: "Hey, you told us one thing a few months ago. We went out there and spent money to buy buses to get into the business, and now you tell us, `Don't get into the business because we've changed our minds'."

This bill is causing a lot of consternation, not only in Actinolite and Barry's Bay, in the town of Oakwood, in Manilla and Madoc; it's causing all kinds of consternation right here in the big city and the GTA where a lot of the big bus providers are. They don't really understand or know what the government's intentions are. Is this half-baked bill just going to be in place for January 1? Then will there be maybe another interim phase? Or when will they go cold turkey, as they promised the industry?

We have to have some clear policies in terms of transportation. I think the only way you can do that is by having a formal, comprehensive, face-to-face meeting with the people across Ontario, whether they be in Bracebridge, in Fergus. The providers should also be there, the Ontario Motor Coach Association, the small companies, the tour providers and the big companies, along with the drivers, along with the interested advocates of public transportation.

Sit down and work out a comprehensive approach. This has been done piecemeal. All kinds of indications have been given and backtracking on indications, to the point that there's mass confusion in terms of the direction of this government. Those who thought they were going to deregulate are now upset; the ones who were against deregulation are upset; the people in small towns are wondering; the bus drivers are wondering in terms of their future.

This bill has done a great deal to cause consternation across the province. It has done very little to solve the basic issue of affordable transportation on a regular basis to small communities across this province. That's the ultimate litmus test for any legislation that deals with transportation. The bill cannot be used as an ideological tool, which it was initially.

The first objective should be to improve public transportation and to look comprehensively. I've asked the ministry, "Do you have an impact study that demonstrates what the effects will be of the deregulation, or the half-baked deregulation, in this bill?" They do not have one. Before you change an industry, you should at least have an independent analysis of the impact. That's good, sound business practice. The ministry has not done that. If I were in the private sector or if I were a person depending on that bus in Actinolite, I'd be asking why you wouldn't sit down, have a third party come in here and evaluate the best way we can provide bus service efficiently and economically, taking into account the economic realities of and the needs of the bus-travelling public.


There is no study, certainly none that's been released. Maybe there is one, but as I said, I've asked for one. There is no analysis of the impact, and we shouldn't underestimate what this means. There are thousands of people who work in this industry, who manufacture buses, who clean them, who drive them, and then certainly the taxpayers who use the buses to get to their doctors' appointments, to work and to see their Aunt Lily. They need the buses. This province needs a good bus industry.

This bill, as I've said, is going about it in a way that is not going to contribute to improving the industry, nor will it improve accessible public transportation for all of our good citizens who will rely on regular bus service, and in Essex too, down in the banana belt of Ontario. Every corner of Ontario wants accessible, affordable transportation.

I think you can do it, and that's why I say we should look at the American example and their failures. Look at what's happened in BC, and then bring it into the Ontario context to see what the real impact of it is, because there are many variables in terms of deregulation. What it means to people and whether it's good, bad or indifferent has to be looked at analytically and not just on a dogmatic basis. That is where the government got into trouble on this bill. It approached it not on the basis of good transportation; it approached it in terms of offering up some regulatory board it thought it could get away with without anybody noticing. But the people of Ontario noticed and, as I said, it's interesting enough, I think the ones that noticed most were the private sector corporations that provide busing across Ontario.

This is why, whenever this government talks about deregulation, I think all of us in this province have to look at these initiatives objectively, because there's nothing that says privatization and deregulation is always good, as this government thinks. There are pitfalls to unilateral deregulation or unilateral privatization. This is a perfect example of it. That's why you cannot accept it as being a panacea, as this government has. That's why they've had to retreat on this. They've had to retreat on this big time because they realized that the people in the business and the citizens pointed out the flaws in it. There are major flaws because of their approach.

I would say to you in closing that perhaps what we can learn from this ill-fated Bill 39 is that you just cannot approach the removal of a service, or the role the government plays in providing a service, without doing an impact analysis of it. You don't have to hire the big, fancy Bay Street consultants, you can do it by going out there and talking to people who are veterans in the industry and sit down and figure out the best way of handling a problem. If you think every regulatory board and every regulation can be tossed out without an impact, I think this government is going to cause itself a lot of grief, as it has in the attempted introduction of this half-baked Bill 39.

I'd say to the members opposite, take a good look at this bill, reminding you that this is a retreat of what the initial intention was. You wonder where they will retreat to next when they get more information about what are the implications of this bill, as I've said, which does very little in terms of solving the affordable transportation problem and helping this industry in this province.

The Acting Speaker (Ms Marilyn Churley): Further debate?

Mr Sean G. Conway (Renfrew North): As was indicated -- and I thank the House for unanimous consent to allow my colleague from Oakwood and I to share the official opposition's 90-minute opening time on this Bill 39 -- I want to join my colleague from Toronto Oakwood in making some remarks about this very important piece of legislation.

I don't see the minister here, though I did hear most of his remarks in opening the debate this afternoon, the second reading debate on Bill 39, which is essentially an act to deregulate the motor coach industry in Ontario. I want to say at the outset that I will be strongly opposing this bill and I will do so primarily as a member from rural Ontario which well understands that it is going to be hammered and hurt by the implementation of this policy.

I understand, as someone who has over the years watched the regulatory agency, the Ontario Highway Transport Board, manage the affairs of this industry -- in fact, I can think back to a period about 15 years ago, when Mr Shoniker and his colleagues were involved in a particularly interesting set of regulatory matters affecting some of this industry. It's not, quite frankly, something that we've debated a great deal in the Legislature certainly in the time that I have been here.

I understand there are pressures in the marketplace that are certainly causing the minister, the government and the industry some pains at the present time. But I want to say again, I am opposing this policy and I'm opposing this bill because without a doubt in my mind, it is going to hurt and hurt seriously the people I represent in rural Ontario.

I want to begin my remarks this afternoon by asking the House to reflect that we are dealing with a matter of transportation policy and that in this province and country, from the outset, because of our geography especially, issues of transportation and communication have been central to this assembly and to the national Parliament in Ottawa. Why is that? I think it's quite obvious that in a country of some 30 million people with a territory as large as the Dominion of Canada is and certainly as the province of Ontario is, it shouldn't surprise any member of the Legislature and any citizen or any observer of this kind of a debate why issues of transportation would be so very important.

I represent a very large district 400 kilometres to the northeast of this capital city, Toronto. When my American and some of my European friends come, one of the things that they are struck by is what one of them once called the tyranny of distance. I mentioned in a debate here I think just this week that in my county, if you leave the town of Arnprior, which is in the southeast corner of the county, and you go to the northeastern corner of the county, up near Mattawa, you will have driven over 200 kilometres, just within one county. I'm often embarrassed by the kind of mileage claims that I submit to the Legislature by virtue of my responsibilities as a local member. I'm going to go home this weekend and, over the course of three rather busy days, without any effort, I'm going to drive over 1,000 kilometres just going to events and meetings in my district, and the Minister of Agriculture, if he were here, would say, "I know what that's like."

Mr Howard Hampton (Rainy River): And you have a small riding.

Mr Conway: The member for Rainy River says I represent a small district, and relative to the imperial domain that is the district of Rainy River, he's absolutely right.

It is not lost on me that in Ontario today over 45% of the citizenry lives within 30 minutes or 30 kilometres of this very spot. So we have a situation today in a province with 11 million people where almost a majority of those people live, Madam Speaker, in areas like yours, urban or suburban Toronto. That's clearly affecting the policymaking both of the assembly and of the government.

But I say seriously to the House and to the minister -- I'm pleased to see he's rejoined us -- that from the very beginning of political debate in this country, issues of transportation have been central, and they've been central because, to put it bluntly, we are a relatively few people scattered over an enormous territory. This issue, bus deregulation, is an issue of fundamental transportation policy and justice at a time when there is much change in the land, I accept. But when I hear people, not just in this government but in other governments and at other times, say to me, "What we really need is a public transportation policy that reflects market pressures. We have to deregulate. We have to let the market decide," let me say that John A. Macdonald had it right 120 years ago when he struggled with his national transportation policy, and when he observed that if we let market policies decide transportation issues in this country, let me tell you, the rural hinterland, the west, the north, wouldn't have very much to say. There would certainly never have been a so-called national dream, a Canadian Pacific railroad, if we had let market forces decide.


My colleague from Oakwood was rightly pointing out some of what the industry is now saying, and these capitalists are not fools; they understand some of the unique characteristics of the Canadian marketplace. Just as the old CPR syndicate understood 120 years ago, without government involvement and regulation there would not have been a CPR, there would not have been a transcontinental link, because it made no sense economically.

How many times have we been told by everyone from Goldwin Smith to latter-day acolytes of the same policy that if you just look at Canada from the point of view of market forces, there wouldn't be a country? It has only been by dint of political will and regulation that there has been a transcontinental domain that we call Canada and a transportation network that helped give it birth, give it strength and give it meaning. I would be the first to say that politicians of another era got overzealous and did some rather foolish things. Where we needed really only one national transcontinental, we got three and we're still paying the price for a national rail policy that seemed at times to operate on the notion that you built sections of the railroad, not to carry passengers but to carry elections.

That notwithstanding, I simply want to say to the minister and to the government and to the House that a policy that calls for pure deregulation, that calls for "Let the market decide," is going to fly in the face of a fundamental Canadian reality that has been understood by the political, the business, the labour and the community leadership of this province and country for decades and centuries.

I have before me Bill 39, and I listened carefully to the minister's comments and I don't doubt that he believes what he said. In the first eight or nine months of watching the minister -- I haven't dealt with him too often, but I'm impressed by his interest and by his enthusiasm. He knows a lot more about some aspects of this business than I'll ever know. Since I buy a car every year, perhaps in another life we can do some business.

I want to say to him that, speaking now primarily to my principal concern, which is what this policy is going to do to the rural communities I represent, every day there is a bus that leaves the community where I now reside, Pembroke. That city, located on the Ontario-Quebec border about 90 miles north of Ottawa, is the point of departure for the daily bus to Toronto. The bus to Toronto trundles across the county to Eganville, up to Golden Lake and Killaloe, Wilno, Barry's Bay, Combermere, Paudash, across those Hastings communities of Maynooth, Bancroft, Apsley, on to Peterborough and, yes, its destination is that great metropolitan world in which we are now situate.

I want to tell the minister that in places like Eganville and Killaloe and Wilno and Combermere and Barry's Bay, there will be no bus to Toronto if this policy is implemented.

Mr Ted Chudleigh (Halton North): Do they still have an environmental station in Killaloe?

Mr Conway: No, they don't. The weather station is gone, I say to the member from Halton.

I'm deadly serious about this. I grew up in one of these little towns, and the bus to Toronto was a very important link. It was the only link many of these people had, and it would not have been there had there not been a regulatory requirement on Voyageur Colonial to cross-subsidize that route against their much more lucrative routes that serve in at least one other case another part of my constituency.

I want to be fair. Let me tell the minister and the House, I have little worry about the motor coach industry's interest in serving the Highway 17 corridor from Ottawa through Kanata to Arnprior, Renfrew, Cobden, Pembroke, Petawawa, Deep River, Stonecliffe and on to Mattawa and North Bay, because it is a trunk route from Ottawa. It's actually Montreal-Ottawa-Pembroke-North Bay-Sudbury. That is a very attractive route, relatively speaking, and I suspect that it will do a good business in either a regulated or an unregulated environment.

There will be no difficulty, I suspect, for my constituents who live along the Highway 17 corridor, because it's on a major line, but it is for all of those people in the rural reaches of particularly south-central and southwestern Renfrew county, in Hastings, in Haliburton, in Peterborough county, to name just four areas in my part of the province, that I say to you that without some kind of regulatory requirement, there will be no bus to Toronto. It is simply not going to make any sense.

I did some calling today; I phoned a couple of my bus terminals. It's something I've been planning to do, and I will do it one of these days, because I'm favoured. Her Majesty provides me with a car allowance to drive to Toronto, and I drive it every week. The Highway Traffic Act, the Queen's constabulary and God willing, I'm going to continue to do that for some time. I drive, as I will late tonight, to Pembroke, and it's no problem for me.

Mr Colle: You drive too slowly.

Mr Conway: The member for Oakwood says I drive too slowly. I don't know that that's fair.

I'm telling the minister and I'm telling the House, and I'm sure there are other members here -- I know the member from Hastings and the member from Stormont will understand what I'm talking about. You go to the bus terminal in Barry's Bay or Eganville or Killaloe or Wilno -- and I've done it; I used to be a paper-boy; we used to go to the bus terminal to get our Toronto papers to distribute to the community -- and who's there? By and large, and increasingly, it's senior citizens and it's students.

If you are a young person, a student in Killaloe, and you go to the University of Guelph or the University of Toronto or the University of Waterloo or Brock and you can't arrange transportation with a friend, the way you come back and forth is by bus.

If you're in Barry's Bay, trying to get to Guelph on a Sunday afternoon, if this policy takes effect there will be no bus going to Toronto on any kind of a regularly scheduled route. There may be some charters, there are now, but the Toronto bus going down the road on a daily, scheduled basis carrying sick people to the medical services in Peterborough and Toronto, students to university and college, people who by virtue of either choice or income don't have a car or a half-ton truck, is their only method and means of "public transit."

I asked my staff today to get me the spending estimates of the minister's department. I thought to myself -- and I don't mean this to provoke members from the urban communities, whether they're from Toronto or Ottawa. It's not lost on me where my friend the critic on transportation for my party resides and, quite frankly, what he did in a previous life. But it's interesting reading the minister's spending estimates, and I'm thinking now, if I were a senior citizen living in Eganville and I was threatened with the loss of the only public transit I've got -- there is none other. The federal government took our trains away a long time ago.


Mr Derwyn Shea (High Park-Swansea): Shame on them.

Mr Conway: The fact that we weren't using them to any great extent in the advent of cars and trucks gave the federal government some justification, but I agree --

Mr Shea: Very good recovery.

Mr Conway: Well, it's true. The fact of the matter is we weren't using the trains to an extent that they could be justified. But I'm thinking, if I were a rural citizen in those parts of eastern Ontario that I've described and I had these spending estimates and I read in the Eganville Leader or in Barry's Bay This Week or in the Pembroke Observer that the bus is going to close, that there's going to be no regularly scheduled bus particularly to Toronto, and then I picked up the Ontario Ministry of Transportation's spending estimates for 1995-96 and read that in just two or three categories the provincial government was going to be spending nearly $100 million of my tax money to support the excellent operations of GO Transit in the greater Toronto area, and I saw that another $257 million of my tax money was going to support municipal transit systems in communities like Ottawa, Kitchener, London, Windsor, Thunder Bay, Chatham, Cornwall and whatever, I don't know exactly -- I think I would be right in saying that the appropriation of $257 million is going to go towards, as it says, municipal transit systems -- as a rural constituent I would say: "I understand that. My kids, my neighbours, my siblings are in Metro, they're in Toronto, they're in Windsor. I understand how, in these urban areas, you want to have public transit, and it makes sense that we support it."

Then I would think: "Hundreds of millions of dollars are being spent by my government to support public transit. I don't expect a TTC in Denbigh or in Kaladar or in Wilno or in Combermere, but I have a bus. That's my one and only public transit, and now it's going to go? Now I'm being told that in the interests of marketplace deregulation, I'm going to lose the one and only public transit I've got and that I have to stand by and continue to support very worthy urban transit systems."

I suspect my constituents would say on the latter point, "We understand that, but where's the fairness?" If there's anybody on the government or treasury benches who imagines that out of this marketplace there is going to be born a phoenixlike entrepreneurship that's going to say, "I'm going to organize some kind of regularly scheduled bus service that's going to run between Eganville and Apsley," you are dreaming in Technicolor; you believe in the tooth fairy.

The one thing I know about the Minister of Transportation is that he is not a man given to fanciful, dreams and I suspect he doesn't believe in the tooth fairy, which is why I think I'm getting to like him. I'm trying to be polite because, I've got to tell you, this is serious. People I represent are really concerned.

I said earlier that one of the things I've intended to do and haven't done that would be a bloody good thing for me and for a lot of us in this place to do -- some of you probably have done it, and it's an admission that I shouldn't make -- one of these days I'm going to park my rear end on a bus in Pembroke and come to Toronto. I suspect that when I'm finished with that trip, and I have taken it as a student, I might add, but it was a long time ago, I'm going to have an even keener appreciation for older people and young people and poor people who can't own a car, who don't own a truck, who don't have relatives but who have to get to the Princess Margaret Hospital for that cancer treatment or to be there with a loved one who is getting that treatment.

It's not lost on me -- I'd better be careful because this will get me in some trouble -- that when I go to the terminals here in Toronto or to the airport in Ottawa, I look around and see some pretty deluxe, publicly subsidized places from which to travel. You ought to go to some of the bus stations around the province. Some of them are not bad, but I tell you that some of them are no hell; they say a lot about the face of support for and interest in a lot of people at the lower socioeconomic level.

I remember as a student taking the bus to some interesting places. Boy, I'll tell you. It's the stuff of great movies: Going Down the Road, The Last Picture Show.

Mr Colle: Bus Stop.

Mr Conway: Is there a movie called Bus Stop? Never heard of it.

Mr Colle: Marilyn Monroe.

Mr Conway: Oh, well, Marilyn Monroe. Any movie with Marilyn Monroe I will want to screen.

Mr Shea: It didn't have a lot to do with transportation, mind you.

Mr Conway: But I'm serious, and I say to my friends, just think about it. Go to the train station in Ottawa or Union Station in Toronto. Go to the terminals at Pearson or the one in Ottawa, which is the one I know best, and then go to your neighbourhood bus terminal and just ask yourself, what do these facilities say about the relative importance we attach as government to people who travel by plane, by train and by bus?

I repeat, there will be no dynamic in the marketplace that is going to put on the roads of Renfrew, Hastings, Victoria-Haliburton and a number of other rural communities the kinds of buses that have been put there by the regulatory environment. I'm not worried. I'm not in the slightest worried about what I will call the Highway 401-QEW-400 corridor. As I said earlier, even along the Highway 17 corridor between Ottawa and Sudbury the market will provide, I think, relative efficiency and justice, but I simply say to the minister that in communities I have enumerated a number.

I will read for the record an interesting article. I'm sure the minister saw it. My colleague from Essex South is here and I'm sure he's going to participate in this debate as well. There was an interesting article in the Toronto Star of April 7, 1996, written by Bruce Campion-Smith called "Deregulation Threatens Rural Bus Routes." Let me just read a bit of it. The dateline is Leamington.

"The Greyhound bus is called the Scenicruiser 2. And on the four-hour milk run to Windsor from London, it lives up to its name.

"The motor coach meanders through the towns of rural Ontario -- Wardsville, Bothwell, Thamesville" -- wonderful places, the stuff of Robertson Davies novels -- " -- and past the variety stores and hardware outlets that double as bus stops.

"This bus isn't in a hurry and neither are its passengers; for those travelling off the beaten path, they have no choice.

"Back in seat 16, 68-year-old Bill Kett passes the time talking about bus travel and the need for routes just like this one.

"`We have to keep our buses,' he says, pumping his fist defiantly in the air. `I don't pray much, but I'll pray these buses stay on.'

"Kett, who lives near the small town of Wheatley, boards the bus a couple of times a week for the 80-minute ride to Windsor to visit relatives and see his doctor."

And on the article goes. I think Mr Kett's story is the story of thousands of Ontarians who feel deeply about the injurious potential of this policy.

I say with all due respect, Minister, I know your intentions are good in terms of the mitigating measures, "We're going to increase the notice period from 30 to 90 days." Well, that's nice, it's polite, but it's meaningless, and I don't mean to be nasty in saying it. It will not amount to the square root of anything.


I was just looking at the list -- and I'm not going to pull a Mike Harris. I won't do it. And I love the new members here. They're understandably anxious that the rules be adhered to, with the possible exception of the member for Durham West, whom I've been watching lately. Boy, she's being very, very selective about her memory. You were at your precious best the other day, I say to my friend Janet, feigning upset and worry about certain disclosures. One of your charms has always been your hardheadedness, and when you, of all people, feign an innocence in political matters, I must tell you, I find it takes my breath away.

Mrs Janet Ecker (Durham West): Talk about the pot calling the kettle black.

Mr Conway: But you see, I'm not here feigning innocence.

Mrs Ecker: Did I ever feign innocence?

Mr Conway: You were feigning a lot of innocence the other day. I've got to tell you, one of Janet's great tours of duty is that she used to be aide-de-camp to the fearless Francis Drea and I want to say to the new members that no greater internship could a young politico serve, but that's not germane to this bill. But there is a list --


Mr Conway: Listen, Frank's like most Irishmen I know, a pretty formidable character.

There is a list of communities to be affected, and I'm just going to read part of this, because Mike Harris stood here one day or one week and he read off every lake, stream and creek from Slate Falls to Bainsville.

Here are some of the communities threatened by this policy: Actinolite, Atikokan, Alliston, Alton, Angus, Apsley, Arthur, Baldwin, Bancroft, Barry's Bay, Beeton, Burk's Falls, Combermere, Collingwood, Dunnville, Eganville, Elmvale, Fenelon Falls, Fort Frances, Fraserville, Grand Valley, Hanover, Haliburton, Greenbank, Havelock, Ignace, Huntsville, Kaladar, Killaloe, Kingsville, Lindsay --


Mr Conway: Members want to make light of this. I'm telling you --

Mr Marcel Beaubien (Lambton): How many people in Killaloe?

Mr Conway: Six hundred, and I say to the member for Lambton, they understand that they are not Kingston but they just want a measure of justice. I want you to reflect, if in this House we are going to appropriate $350 million of their dollars to support, as I believe we should, GO Transit and municipal transit systems, my constituents in places like Killaloe will understand why that makes sense, but what they will want in Killaloe, in Combermere and Wilno -- let me go on -- Listowel, Madoc, Meaford, Maynooth, Maple Leaf, Omemee, Palgrave, Port Dover, Sharbot Lake, Shelburne, South River, Tillsonburg, Tweed, Wardsville, Walkerton, Wilno, Woodview, and that's just a very short list --


Mr Conway: The point, I say to the member, there are --


Mr Conway: The Minister of Natural Resources is here and he's got many of these communities and he will know of what I speak. I suspect that in his area the 35 corridor will probably be all right; I don't what runs up there any more.

It is a serious issue for these communities. It's not just an issue for the community in terms of the passenger transport, but there is also a parcel service that has often been a part of these kinds of transportation networks as well. I simply say to the minister, if these people are to be left with the hope that the market is going to now fill the void, they know precisely what that means. That means their only system of public transit will wither and die very quickly.

It's too bad my friend the Minister of Rural Affairs is not here, because out in these places they're starting to get a sense that this government, despite its protestations to the contrary, is doing a lot of things by way of withdrawing service from rural communities. Many of these little places are losing their government office. Their MNR office is closing, their ag office is closing, their ag college is probably going or being so downsized that they'll be on their way to Guelph. Their highways are special in a way they have not been for some time, and I know it's not all the minister's fault, but you know, it's one of those visible signs.

I've got to say to my friend the minister, I was driving up Highway 41 the other day through the domain of the member from Frontenac, who sits sagelike between the ministers of natural resources and transportation, and from the head of Mazinaw Lake to Denbigh it is just one hell of a mess. I have never seen it as bad. I suppose if one had a car like that of the member for Frontenac-Addington, it would probably cushion the blow to some extent.

I must digress for a moment and say to my friend from Frontenac that one of his predecessors, the eclectic J. Earl McEwen, drove an even bigger car. I once said to J. Earl: "You know, I would never drive a car so large in the northern regions of Addington county. What do they say when you pull into a farm lane in Abinger township? What do they think when the local member comes to call in a block-long belchmobile?"

His answer was quite prudent and probably much wiser than I could ever imagine. He said, "They think what they should think: Somebody important has come to call." J. Earl, if you're listening, I'm sorry if I've embarrassed you.

I don't mean to go on, and I'm going to conclude these remarks by simply saying that it is a serious matter. It is a very serious matter for rural Ontario. We're not happy about what's happening to our roads. We are not happy about the withdrawal of many visible signs of the provincial government's presence. We are not happy at the prospect that our only public transportation system is going to be taken away.

I hope before the debate concludes this afternoon the minister is going to give an undertaking that he's going to offer more than his initial speech on the introduction of second reading debate proffered to my constituents, because these people are aware of what has happened in other jurisdictions. They know, for example, that in the United States, under deregulation, within a very, very short period of time the number of US communities that had been receiving bus service was reduced by 50%, and they expect that to be the experience of their Ontario. The Thatcher experience with deregulation had a similarly negative effect on rural and outlying areas.

These people, as I said earlier, expect to be treated fairly, and they are deeply concerned that this government's policy is going to leave them without fairness and, more importantly, without that regularly scheduled bus going down the road to places like Peterborough and Toronto to take people to the doctor, to the cancer clinic, or to take their kids to school or elderly people to visit friends and relatives.

That's the concern I have, it's a real concern shared widely by many of my constituents in rural communities, and that's the reason I'll be voting against Bill 39 unless and until the minister can provide me and my rural constituents with some greater indication of how he's going to provide for them the kind of public transit that this Legislature, I repeat, votes hundreds of millions of dollars to support in communities from Ottawa to Windsor, and most especially here in Her Majesty's great metropolitan community that we know as Toronto.

The Acting Speaker: Questions or comments?

Mr Bruce Crozier (Essex South): I want to compliment my colleagues from Oakville and Renfrew North. I'll be brief because to try and say what has been said any better would only end up being embarrassing to me. But I want to emphasize that I come from small, urban-rural Ontario, and in that list of names of towns are the communities of Tilbury, Wheatley, Leamington, Kingsville and Essex. Bus service means a great deal to them.

My father was a mechanic for Greyhound prior to his death in 1968, and I can recall at that time when my dad would go out to fix buses on the road that I'd sit behind the wheel and pretend I was driving one. I'd hate to think there would come a day when the Greyhound bus wouldn't come through town. I suspect, although I haven't seen the agreement, that the only reason the Greyhound bus comes through town is so that it can protect other routes.

I would hope the minister and his staff would take that into consideration and not do anything that would jeopardize what bus service we have left in rural Ontario.


Hon Mr Palladini: I certainly did enjoy listening to the members for Essex South, Renfrew North and Oakwood. I do share their concerns, but I am convinced that under regulation -- clearly municipalities that the member for Renfrew North was mentioning, we could probably add many more municipalities to that list that have lost services under regulation. I am convinced that we can do better with full deregulation. We could have gone immediately to full deregulation, but we chose to do things in an orderly fashion.

As far as the comments that the member for Oakwood said about one of our senior people back in a letter that he read, I met with the people with the busing industry back in August and I informed them then that I was not going to implement full deregulation.

We want to do deregulation in an orderly fashion. We want to make sure that whatever needs to gets done so towns, municipalities that have lost bus services, are actually going to have an opportunity, because we feel that with deregulation there are going to be entrepreneurs that will really seek an opportunity to develop feeder lines that will give the major bus companies an opportunity to make it a worthwhile, possibly profitable, route. This is key.

We must do some things to protect the providers. Right now I am concerned about the end users, because we do have to have transportation available for them, but we also have to have the providers in place to give that transportation, and I believe deregulation is going to bring new people into the busing business.

Mr Michael A. Brown (Algoma-Manitoulin): I appreciate the warm and schmoozy noises from the Minister of Transportation, but the end result of this, and I think we all understand it, as the member for Renfrew North has said and the member for Oakwood and the member for Essex South, is that there are going to be communities that presently do have bus services, people can presently use that bus service, and they're not going to be able to do that.

I see my friend the Minister of Northern Development sitting across the aisle from us, the fellow who made assurances about northern air travel. He's ended up providing subsidies. He said that wasn't the case. I don't know whether the Minister of Transportation is contemplating providing subsidies where the private sector does not take up his challenge. He's probably not.

I would suggest to you that the Minister of Northern Development knows full well that in many places across northern Ontario there are going to be places where there will be in the future no air service unless he gets into the subsidy business in a bigger way, and now there's going to be no bus service for even smaller communities.

I want to say that the direction of this government seems pretty clear. It is an abandonment of what people in rural parts of this province believe to be their right. It's fair. As the member for Renfrew North talked about the subsidies that we all agreed to for the large municipalities to provide transportation, so should we in the rural parts of our province have some belief that the province of Ontario will also look after rather basic needs in transportation.

I will not be supporting Bill 39 for the very reason that we cannot trust this government to provide those services to rural Ontario, to northern Ontario, that we pay taxes to get.

Mr James J. Bradley (St Catharines): I enjoyed the remarks of the member for Renfrew North very much because he pointed out what could happen if we proceed with this piece of legislation. I suspect as well that his contention that there have not been significant contributions being made by backbenchers within the government is an accurate one, because if the members on the government benches were aware of the consequences for some of their ridings I'm sure they would not be as eager to support this legislation.

When I think of places like Wardsville and Kaladar and Woodville, and virtually any small town across this province, I know there can be a problem. I know what happens when the minister comes in, or the government comes in, and makes a presentation to caucus. They assure everybody that everything is going to be fine; in fact you're probably going to get more service than you had before, you'll be told. It simply doesn't happen.

I recall a previous minister in a previous government who talked about the fact that there had to be something done with the trucking industry. That minister at the time said, "Oh, by the way, this is not deregulation, this is something else." I recall well informing that minister that in fact it was deregulation and there would be significant consequences for this province.

The same is going to be true of this situation. Yes, those of us who live on routes that are popular, that have large populations, are going to continue to have service. There will be a bus from Toronto to St Catharines, to Niagara Falls, that will continue. What I worry about is Owen Sound and other communities along the route, like Arthur, that are going to be a problem. I hope the members on the government back benches will tell the Premier and the minister and high government officials what they really think of deregulation of busing in this province.

Mr Colle: Just to wrap up, I do not underestimate how difficult the challenge is that the minister has before him. I think he's trying to balance a lot of critical interest. There's no underestimating the challenge he has before him. I just think that in terms of advice perhaps what I'm hearing is that you do need an impact study of what the consequences are going to be.

One of the consequences in the United States, too, was that when some of the bus routes were taken over by individual entrepreneurs, usually small entrepreneurs, as soon as they became successful a lot of them were squeezed out by bigger companies. Even though one person may find a little niche service, what's to protect that entrepreneur who basically put together a few dollars to put a small bus route together from being squeezed out? I think that is one of the patterns that developed in the United States.

As I say again, the other troubling thing is that deregulation in the United States caused over 5,000 communities to lose their bus services.

So there is more to it than deregulation. I think there's got to be a comprehensive transportation strategy and maybe there are alternatives in terms of using different types of vehicles etc, but there has to be comprehensive input that goes beyond just saying we have to scrap regulation. Because when you enter into it from that perspective, I think you get yourself into difficulties. The bottom line is that roads are subsidized by the taxpayers, big city transportation is subsidized by the taxpayers, so why shouldn't small communities also have a little bit of help from government in ensuring they've got good basic transportation. All they're asking for is a seat on that bus. That's not a luxury, it's a basic necessity.

The Acting Speaker: Further debate?

Mr Hampton: I'm very happy to be able to take part in this debate. Let me start off by noting that for many years now Liberal and Conservative governments have been following a policy of deregulation: deregulation of the airlines; deregulation of trains; deregulation of trucking, and now deregulation of busing. It hasn't worked in airlines; airline fares have shot up. It hasn't worked in trucking; truck safety is now an incredible problem in this jurisdiction and elsewhere. It hasn't worked in the rail industry either, as we see now rail line after rail line shutting down. This is just more government by lemmings. Liberal governments in the past have done it, Conservative governments in the past have done it, so now this Conservative government will do it.


This is also a bill that is about doublespeak. It is doublespeak. The government stands up and says: "Oh, deregulation will work fine. Communities in rural and northern Ontario have nothing to fear." But the fact is, they know that if they allowed deregulation to happen right now, the floodgates would open so fast that community after community after community would be abandoned in the next couple of weeks. So what do they do? They bring in this Bill 39 to hold back the floodgates for a while, hold back the floodgates so you don't have wholesale abandonment right away and you don't have wholesale cutthroat competition right away. They'll ease it in. That's what this bill is: It's doublespeak. It strengthens regulation of the intercity bus industry for a while, but then by 1998 you cut the floor out and you allow that cutthroat competition and that wholesale abandonment to happen.

It's quite bizarre. Why would you actually strengthen bus regulation, which this interim bill does, and then afterwards say, "Regulation doesn't work, so we're abandoning it"? It shows to me a clear lack of logic and just how far this government is prepared to go to engage in doublespeak.

I want to talk about who this bill will hurt. The only people who will benefit from this bill are foreign carriers and carriers from outside the province. They will no longer have to justify their presence based on public necessity; they just jump in. You may say, "The more the merrier." The problem is that when a system is deregulated, everyone and his sister jumps in and then the problems start. On the more profitable routes, fares may go down in the short term, but that won't last long as larger operators muscle out the smaller ones.

What about the smaller communities? Many people in small communities have cars, but many do not. Who are they? The poor, students, senior citizens, the disabled. We know this government doesn't care about those folks. After all, this government for the past eight months has been pointing the finger at those folks, saying they're to blame for some of Ontario's problems. It's people who are poor who are the heart of Ontario's economic problems, they say. It is the disabled who need to be forced back to work by a simple change in the definition of disability. So we already know this government doesn't care about those folks, but all those folks will be hurt by what is going to happen.

I want to reflect on what this government has done to prepare or to set the stage for deregulation. Has the government done any economic impact studies? Have they actually gone out there and looked at the potential impact on the economy? No, they haven't, no economic impact studies at all; none in the hundreds of towns and villages and cities in Ontario that will lose service. They have not studied the impact on the farm community, on the small business sector -- nowhere.

They have not asked the industry to give any compensation to the public for the privilege of running private buses over the public roads. They've done none of this. In fact, what's going on here is this: The public is being asked to pay the taxes that build the roads that are essential to the bus industry, but the bus industry is no longer going to be asked to give anything back to the public. It certainly is not going to be asked to give anything back to the public who reside in the small towns and villages in rural Ontario and northern Ontario.

The government says over and over again, "Oh, this will be wonderful; this will be fine." This has all been heard before, and I want to look at some of the examples from before.

First of all, there's the American experience. In 1982, that great guru of the right wing, Ronald Reagan, deregulated the bus industry in the United States. The resulting reductions in service were swift and irreversible in rural United States. Just like this government, just like this right-wing government, the Reagan administration attempted to soothe concerns from small towns and rural areas by arguing that small owner-operators would fill the gap left when the national bus companies left a town without service. And to their credit, many small owner-operators tried to operate vans, minivans, minibuses on routes abandoned by the national carriers. But often when a small operator appeared to be succeeding, guess what? The big national companies would re-enter the market and run the route at a loss, cutthroat competition, and put the small operator out of business. The national carrier would drain the market financially and then, after doing that, it would revoke service again, leaving the community no better off. They didn't want competition.

Small towns were abandoned in droves in the United States. At the time of the US deregulation, a Mr Frank Nageotte, who was a vice-chairman of Greyhound Corp in the United States, told the Wall Street Journal that with deregulation in the state of "Florida, we were able to cut out 90% to 95% of our small towns." He bragged about it. Obviously, the minister hasn't read about the Greyhound Corp experience in the United States. Frank Crabtree, the director of the motor carrier division of the West Virginia Public Services Commission at the time of US deregulation, reported that within days of deregulation, "Greyhound and Virginia Stage Lines, an operating subsidy of Trailways, Inc, filed petitions for massive route abandonment." In fact, within one year of deregulation, Greyhound had already abandoned over 1,300 stops. By January 1, 1986, 3,766 communities had been abandoned, according to the Interstate Commerce Commission.

Between deregulation and November 1991, the number of US cities with intercity bus service fell from 11,820 to 5,690, a decrease of 52%. As upsetting as these numbers are, they would have been worse if many of the state governments had not subsidized some bus lines in order to give service to some smaller communities. This Ontario government has already rejected that notion, and although Ontario is densely populated compared to other Canadian provinces, even in southern rural Ontario we are spread thin in comparison to American standards. If the US experience was bad, the Ontario situation will be much worse.

Then there's the British experience. Until this government, it was probably the worst right-wing government that we've seen. In Britain, Margaret Thatcher deregulated the bus industry in an attempt, she said, to provide increased efficiencies through competition. The Thatcher government's white paper on deregulation asserted that "without the dead hand of restrictive regulation, fares could be reduced now on many routes and the operator would still make a profit. New and better services would be provided. More people would travel." Does that sound familiar? That sounds like the current Minister of Transportation, or should I say the minister of potholes, as he's quickly becoming known as. In fact, the opposite happened in Great Britain, as the dead hand of market monopolies drove out competition, pushed up fares and caused ridership to plummet.

In Britain, the process occurred differently than in the United States. In the US, the big national carriers used cutthroat competition until smaller operators gave up. But according to an Oxford University study, the American fight to the death rarely occurred in Britain. Instead, in Britain there was a shift away from the on-the-road competition to boardroom competition, with an acceleration of takeovers, leading to consolidation, buying out competitors and an increase in the power of a few large bus companies.


Accountants at Price Waterhouse interviewed 150 transit managers about the impact of deregulation. According to this report, these managers believed that "direct entry...only resulted in loss of profits for both companies as fares were reduced and costs increased.... Acquisition was generally regarded as a sounder strategy for gaining market share."

According to the president of the Transport and General Workers' Union, "The top six or seven bus companies in Great Britain own over 50% of the total bus market." Thus, the premise of deregulation -- let the market reign and the consumer will benefit -- was proven wrong. The market was freed, concentration increased and the consumer lost.

Deregulation advocates in Britain continually point to the fact that private bus companies are travelling more kilometres as an indication that deregulation has succeeded at bringing better service to the consumer. A more detailed look indicates that the consumer has abandoned the new deregulated industry in droves. The increases in distance driven is due to the use of so-called minibuses and midibuses, which seat up to 16 and 35 passengers respectively. Since deregulation, the use of these buses has almost doubled, so although there are more buses travelling more kilometres, the system capacity has not increased and actually fewer people are using buses.

Market monopolies have led to dramatic fare increases. Across Britain, fares increased 47% between 1985 and 1993, far outstripping inflation, which was a cumulative 35% in the same period. In no year did the bus fare index fall, and once market monopolies began to set in, fare hikes became larger. Who suffers from that? People on fixed incomes, like senior citizens, people who have had their social assistance cheque cut by 22%, people who are unemployed, people who are on workers' compensation, people who are disabled. They all get thrown out of the system. They're exactly the people who need to use buses. I've heard nothing from the government on how these people are going to be served, because there is nothing. They haven't done any market studies, and they haven't done any market studies because they don't care about those people.

Looking just a little further at Britain, with deregulation there is no necessity to gain regulatory board approval for schedules or route changes. Frequent changes meant anarchy ruled the bus industry, leaving the passengers who could afford it confused and often without a bus. The result was system chaos. In the early 1980s, before deregulation, bus ridership was holding steady at 4.5 billion passengers per year. Since deregulation, bus ridership has fallen every year. Between deregulation and 1994, bus ridership has fallen by more than 25%. By 1989, only 4 billion rides were registered and in 1994 only 3.25 billion passenger journeys were taken each year.

Unlike the United States, the British government still gives subsidies to private bus operators to ensure that smaller centres are serviced. The Ontario government once again has ruled out that option. So how are smaller communities in northern Ontario and rural Ontario going to get any service?

Let me go to another example, the experience in the Canadian airline industry, which was deregulated by the Liberals and the Conservatives. The new transportation act came into place in 1988. At the same time, the main industry players were Air Canada, Canadian Airlines International and Wardair, and several smaller companies: National Pacific, Vacationair, Air Transat, Québecair, Nordair, Provincial Airways. They were all part of a competitive industry. By 1990, most of the smaller companies had been driven out or had been taken over by Air Canada or Canadian Airlines International. In the early 1990s, continuing troubles at Canadian Airlines forced the carrier into an ownership relationship with -- guess who? -- American Airlines. Deregulation resulted not in the creation of more companies and more competition in Canada; it resulted in a net benefit for a large American company.

The period since deregulation has been characterized by dramatic price wars pushing the companies into huge financial losses followed by more acquisitions and takeovers, moving the market closer and closer to monopoly conditions. That's what's happening.

Fare reductions between Canadian Airlines and Air Canada in the early 1990s resulted in the Mulroney government purchasing unneeded airplanes from Canadian Airlines to make the company more attractive to American Airlines and save the company from bankruptcy. Yet despite the price wars and competition, the average price of a domestic airplane ticket rose at an incredible pace. In terms of the price index, from 1987 until 1990 the price index went up by 131. In other words, despite all this competition that was supposed to happen, despite all the good things that were supposed to happen, there were fewer people providing service and the price index went up.

What do we think is going to happen here? A policy document from the Ontario Motor Coach Association, written before the group's apparent change on deregulation, suggests the same movement towards unregulated market monopoly that occurred in the airline industry will occur in the bus industry if bus deregulation goes forward.

The Ontario Motor Coach Association document states: "An open market would result in a significant shakeout, with scheduled and charter markets dominated by US-based carriers. Ontario operators would be limited to less attractive markets, or to subcontract or subordinate alliance relationships with outside carriers." From the same document: "The Ontario Motor Coach Association believes that with changes to regulation there are good reasons to fear adverse impact on...the viability of domestic motor coach operators."

That's the Ontario Motor Coach Association saying that. That's the same association of bus operators this government says favours this. Somebody is telling a tale here. Someone is engaging in doublespeak.

Let's take this a bit further. What will the outlook be for Ontario? With no subsidy to maintain service on unprofitable routes, on rural and small-town Ontario routes, the reality is that rural and small-town Ontario and northern Ontario will be badly hurt by the Harris government's decision to deregulate. It is easy to predict that deregulation will open up a period of true chaos in the bus industry. Literally hundreds of towns can expect to lose their service. Seniors and students will be hard hit, as will small business people and farmers who rely on the bus parcel service. For them the chaos will be personal. The chaos will affect their lives and their businesses and their communities.

The Ontario Motor Coach Association, again, in a study done in September 1995, supports the concerns I'm raising. According to the Ontario Motor Coach Association, "while deregulation might offer some potential benefits, it suffers from major drawbacks, including impacts on the viability of the domestic motor coach industry and on the integrity, quantity and quality of services provided to the public."


Further, the Ontario Motor Coach Association report acknowledges that continued regulation "will ensure continuing, reliable and affordable service to some 1,110 Ontario communities." But that won't happen with deregulation.

Again: "Areas outside these major centres will not receive the same attention as they are less profitable. Services that are discontinued will be replaced at best by a service of inferior quality. Some discontinued services will not be replaced" at all.

So what's going to happen? I want to read a list of communities. You see, the government hasn't done any studies; it hasn't done any economic impact studies. But some folks have been out there actually talking to communities, and these are the communities which believe they are going to face a loss of service, that their community is going to be affected:

Actinolite, Atikokan -- a community in my constituency, Alliston, Alton, Angus, Apsley, Armstrong, Arthur, Aylmer, Baldwin, Bailieboro, Ballantrae, Bancroft, Barry's Bay, Beaverton, Beeton, Berkeley, Bewdley, Bismarck, Blackstock, Blind River, Bothwell, Bracebridge, Brentwood, Brown Hill, Brooklin, Brunner, Burke's Falls, Burleigh Falls, Canadian Forces Base Borden, Carleton Place, Canborough, Cameron, Camilla, Cayuga, Chapleau -- another northern Ontario community, Chatsworth, Chelsey, Clifford, Coboconk, Cochrane -- another northern Ontario community, Collingwood, Columbus, Combermere, Craigleith, Creemore, Delhi, Dorking, Dornoch, Dundalk, Dunville, Durham;

Eganville, Elfrida, Elmwood, Elmvale, Elora, Espanola, Essex, Fenelon Falls, Fergus, Flesherton, Fort Frances, Fowler's Corners, Fraserville, Fulton, Gads Hill, Geraldton, Gorrie, Grand Valley, Gravenhurst, Greenock, Greenbank, Grimsby, Haliburton, Hanover, Harrison, Havelock, Hawkesbury, Hearst, Heidelberg, Holland Centre, Huntsville, Ignace, Ingoldsby, Iron Bridge, Iroquois Falls, Jarvis, Kaladar, Kapuskasing, Killaloe Station, Kincardine, Kingsville, Kirkland Lake, Lakefield, Leamington, Lindsay, Linwood, Listowel, Maberly, Madoc, Manilla, Manchester, Maple Leaf, Marmora, Markdale, Massey, Maynooth, Meaford, Melbourne, Mildmay, Millbank, Myrtle;

Nestleton, Neustadt, Newton, Norland, Norwood, Oakwood, Omemee, Owen Sound, Palgrave, Paudash, Pefferlaw, Perth, Port Colborne, Port Dover, Port Bolster, Port Perry, Powassan, Raglan, Red Lake, Rosedale, St Clements, St Thomas, Saintfield, Sarnia, Sharbot Lake, Shelburne, Simcoe, Smithville, Smooth Rock Falls, South River, Stayner, Strathroy, Sunderland, Sundridge, Sutton, Thamesville, Thornbury, Tilbury, Tillsonburg, Timmins, Tottenham, Trout Creek, Tweed, Upsala, Vermilion Bay, Virginia, Walkerton, Wallaceburg, Wardsville, Wasaga Beach, Wawa, Wheatley, Williamsford, Wilno, Wingham, Woodview and Wroxeter.


Mr Hampton: The government members don't want to hear which communities are going to be left out. The government members don't want the people of Ontario to know which communities are going to be thrown out, which communities don't count any more in Conservative right-wing Ontario.

The fact is that this ideological right-wing nonsense has been tried before. It failed in the United States, it failed in Britain, and it's going to fail here. And a lot of us are going to be here to remind communities across northern and rural Ontario that you people did it, that you were the people who wrote off rural Ontario; you were the people who wrote off northern Ontario. You are the people who are going to make it impossible for people to get to a doctor, to take a bus to see a doctor. You are the people who are going to make it difficult for senior citizens, for poor people, for students, for unemployed people, for people on social assistance, to get to the communities they need to, to get a job and to look after themselves.

Let me just give you some advice. You've got a few wisenheimer civil servants over there who've told you this is going to fly. Let me tell you from some government experience that when the political fallout starts to happen from this, you won't find those civil servants anywhere. They won't be anywhere. It's going to fall on your heads. You're going to be the people who are going to have to go out there and explain to your community why you don't get bus service any more, why your community has been written off.

I'll just tell you, we are going to continue to make a point across rural and northern Ontario of exactly what you're doing, of exactly the extent to which you have written people off, of exactly the extent to which you are saying to those people that they don't matter any more in your Ontario, that they don't count, that their community doesn't count, that their small business doesn't count, and that they don't count as people.

I could go on for some time, but I sense that some of the Conservative members would like me to stop.


Mr Hampton: Oh, you want me to go on? Oh, well, I aim to please, Speaker. They want me to go on. Let me just give them a lesson in geography and what's going to happen. As Mr Conway, the member from Renfrew, pointed out, I have one of the larger constituencies in the province. Right now bus service tends to run along the Trans-Canada Highway and it tends to run along Yonge Street, Highway 11, which extends into my constituency. All these small farm villages and small towns get bus service. They get bus service either from Greyhound or Grey Goose. But do you know what Greyhound and Grey Goose are already saying? They're already saying, "Well, we'll continue to stop in the major centres, but these little places, we don't want to stop in them any more."

Mr Beaubien: But they've got to drive by them anyway.

Mr Hampton: That's right. One of the Conservative members has figured it out. He said, "They're just going to drive by them." You got it. You just figured it out. You get a prize. That's what they want to do. They don't want to stop in those small communities. They don't want to let off three or four senior citizens. They don't want to let off the university student or college student who's coming home. They want to bus right through, because when they are forced to stop, as they are now by the regulatory system, it costs them money. They're not interested in that. They're not interested in providing service. They want to maximize profit, and if maximizing profit means you chop out those little communities, they don't care.

They've already served notice that some communities that have no other alternative for transportation, no train, no aircraft -- no aircraft because the Minister of Northern Development and Mines already took care of that; he made sure they're not going to have any air transportation any more. They're going to have no service, none.

We're not talking here about a 20-mile trip, a 30-mile trip, a 40-mile trip, as we might talk about in southern Ontario. We're talking about trips of 200 miles. We're talking about trips of two and a half hours. I'll tell you the communities that are going to be left out on Highway 17. Vermilion Bay is going to be left out, a nice little community. Lots of seniors live in Vermilion Bay. The little community of Wabigoon is going to be left out. A lot of native people live in Wabigoon, a lot of Metis people who scratch out a living by taking a job cutting pulpwood in the winter, scratch out a job picking wild rice in the fall, but otherwise don't get steady employment. They're going to be cut out. A little community called Dinorwic: lots of senior citizens in Dinorwic. They're not going to get bus service. A little community like Vermilion Bay isn't going to get bus service.

Interjection: You mentioned Vermilion Bay already.

Mr Hampton: I'll start at the other end. A little village called Rainy River, a thousand people: Most of the people living in Rainy River are either senior citizens or by the time this bus deregulation comes into effect they will be senior citizens. They're going to be left out. A little community called Pinewood, a little community called Stratton, a little community called Barwick, a little community called Emo, a little community called Devlin, a little community called La Vallee, a little community called Mine Centre, a little community called Atikokan, and two or three first nations, Nicickousemenecaning First Nation, Manitou Rapids First Nation, Seine River First Nation, they're all going to be left out. There's no alternative. There's no taxi service. There's no limousine service -- nothing. There's no aircraft service.


Mr Bill Murdoch (Grey-Owen Sound): You never think that might start up?

Mr Hampton: The member opposite repeats the argument that was repeated in the United States and in Britain. He says there will be lots of small operators. The experience in the United States was, yes, some small operators tried to open up and as soon as they started to make a profit, the big companies cut price, offered service again and drove them out of business because they don't want the competition.

It's the exact same thing that's happened in the airline business: two major companies now in Canada offering airline services. Prices have gone up. Right? They're both struggling financially; in fact, one of them has had to sell part of itself to an American airline company. That's what we're going to see here. In certain parts of the province you're going to see American bus lines come in and they cherry-pick the best routes. Companies from other provinces will come in and they will cherry-pick the best routes. But community after community that are not on the best route across Ontario are going to get cut and we're going to be here to remind you.

Now some of the Liberal members want to get in on the debate. I just want to say to the Liberal members: Remember, you were the people who got us into deregulated trucking. You were the people who said, "Don't worry, deregulated trucking will not result in any safety problems," even as we have truck after truck going down the highway throwing their wheels, even as we have the present Minister of Transportation trying to announce and reannounce and reannounce another truck safety undertaking, trying to make people believe he's somehow going to get this deregulated chaos under control.


Mr Hampton: I just tell you, it's been done before. Look, I'm trying to save you some heartache here. All right? I am. I'm trying to save you some heartache.

All of you Conservative members who represent rural Ontario -- this is going to come back to haunt you. This is going to come back to bite you in a big way and before you believe what the Minister of Transportation has obviously bought without looking at, you ought to look at the figures and facts and statistics from the United States, you ought to look at the figures and facts and statistics from Great Britain and you ought to look at the number of small communities that have absolutely no service now. You ought to look at the number of communities that were written off because many of those communities will be your communities, they'll be your constituents, they'll be your people and you're the ones who will have to answer for it and we'll make sure you have to answer for it.

As I said, I could go on longer, but I suspect some of the Conservative members are happy that I'm preparing to wind up. I would ask for unanimous consent so that my colleague here from Cochrane South could --


The Acting Speaker: Order, please.

Mr Hampton: If I remember correctly, unanimous agreement was given when we started that we split the time. I will turn it over to my colleague from Cochrane South and you can have some further examples. Speaker, I thank you for the time.


The Acting Speaker: The member for Cochrane South, take your seat a minute. Do we have unanimous consent to allow the member for Cochrane South to split the time? Yes? Thank you.

Mr Gilles Bisson (Cochrane South): I would like to thank the honourable colleagues in the Conservative Party who have allowed unanimous consent. Normally that is the practice on a leadoff speech when it comes to an issue at times, to be able to split the time on the lead of 90 minutes to 45 minutes for each member so that members who have responsibilities in regard to their portfolios that cross those boundaries are able to do that.

Interjection: We did it to be good to you.

Mr Bisson: Of course you wanted to be good to me. I understand that.

Let me start with a bit of background and I guess a bit of historical perspective of the whole question of regulation in the province of Ontario when it comes to our transportation industry.

Most people in this House, and I think most people watching, would know that in Canada, since its inception in 1867 and even before that, there was a very strong recognition that if you were going to develop a vibrant economy with links from east to west so Canadians would be able to develop a market and develop industry, you needed to find a different way to make the links from eastern Canada to western Canada than what had been done in unregulated situations. The reality in our country, as it was in 1867 and as it is today in 1996, is that there is not the population base in Canada and in many places across this province to sustain, according to traditional free enterprise principles, a good system of transportation that responds to the needs of everybody.

Our forefathers were probably visionaries, when you think about it, because if you go back and look at the history of the 1860s, the politics of the day were fairly right-wing compared to what they are today, even with this Conservative government. There was mainly the belief that government did not have a role to play when it came to regulation and that the free market system and entrepreneurs should be given the opportunity to do things on their own to develop an economy; even more so, probably, in the United States than in Canada.

But our forefathers in this country, first of all in our federal Parliament and in our provincial parliaments as well, recognized that if we allowed our system of transportation to be developed solely by the private sector, a whole bunch of markets would not be served by the private sector because there was not the market there for a business to make a profit and operate. The federal government of the day recognized that something needed to be done.

The federal government, followed by provincial governments, played a very strong role in developing a system of transportation infrastructure. They had in their minds basically this: Yes, allow the private sector to be full partners in the system of transportation, and where possible allow them to do that in as free a way as possible, but within that context set up regulations to ensure that the profitable routes of the Montreal-Toronto-Windsor corridor are not the only ones covered but that routes, for example, from Chapleau to Timmins or from Kapuskasing to Hearst, or wherever it might be in the province of Ontario or in this country, are covered and have a good system of transportation.

I would argue that if we had taken the view in 1867 of having a totally unregulated transportation system without any leadership by federal and provincial governments, our economy as we know it today in 1996 would not be the economy we have now. Sure, certain communities in Canada would have done well, because we would have established trading links north-south strictly. The east-west links that are so important to keeping this country together as one national force would have been virtually impossible to sustain over the longer run.

I dare say, and I think my good colleague Mr Shea, the member for High Park-Swansea, would agree with this, that our country as we know it today would not exist. If we had allowed transportation to go willy-nilly on its own, we would probably have had a good system of transportation on a north-south link, from places like Toronto, Hamilton and Windsor connecting to the United States, where there are larger markets. You would have been able to do fairly good trade on the western rim of our country, Vancouver into the Seattle area, and I would argue that the southern parts of Quebec probably would have done fairly well going into the American eastern seaboard.

But as for a lot of other places in this country, like northern Ontario, like Saskatchewan and Manitoba and a number of other areas, the Yukon and Northwest Territories, our system of transportation would have left those places desolate, isolated communities. Much of the development that happened economically and the success stories we've seen in our economy of Canada have been made possible because of our system of transportation.

Coming from northern Ontario -- and I'm sure my good friend the member for Sudbury East knows this -- the community of Sudbury was founded how? It was founded because there was a federal government that said, "We need to build a train system that goes from one part of the country to the other, from east to west," and in doing that they discovered a huge ore body in Sudbury. That has sustained the community of Sudbury, and I would say most of north-central Ontario, for many, many years. It must be close to at least 100 years, I would think, that Sudbury has been around.

The whole area that I know as home, northeastern Ontario, was developed, by and large, because the provincial government of the day recognized that we needed to have a rail system that spurred from North Bay onwards so we're able to access our forests and develop the mills to create the wealth we needed within our economy; we're able to go up and explore the areas that were considered very remote to the rest of Ontario at that time. Put in place was what we know today as the ONR, but at the time it was known as the Temiskaming railroad, or the Temiskaming central railroad, I believe it was called.


Many communities like Cobalt, New Liskeard, Kirkland Lake, Matheson and onwards all the way up to Moose Factory owe their existence to the system of transportation that was put in place by the federal government. The point that I'm making, that most members would recognize --

Mr Shea: You're arguing for economic imperialism.

Mr Bisson: I'm arguing that the government has a strong role and a responsibility when it comes to transportation. I agree with the members from the Conservative Party on one point: I don't believe that the system of transportation should strictly be controlled by a public sector monopoly across this country and across this province. I believe there is room within this market of Canada and the market of Ontario for the private sector to play a large role, and in some cases I would argue it plays a very positive role, because it creates competition and in itself offers cheaper transportation rates for the manufacturers of goods and products across this province.

My argument is simply this: One cannot be done at the exclusion of the other. Why I have a problem with this piece of legislation is that we're looking at bus deregulation from the perspective of saying the private sector can do it best, it knows how to run a bus company better than anybody else and we'll allow the private sector over the longer run to be the where-all and end-all when it comes to bus transportation in Ontario.

I think most members of this House will have to agree -- maybe not in their vote; in their own mind -- that if we go to that system, there are going to be communities in Ontario that will not have bus transportation as we know it today, at the very best. At the very worst, some communities will not have bus transportation at all, because the market in some communities in northern Ontario, and I would argue in southwestern Ontario and in eastern Ontario and in rural Ontario -- there are many communities that don't have a market that is large enough to be able to sustain bus operations at a profitable level. That's just economics. That's not some edict put forward by the NDP. It's not an edict by the bus companies or by the unions that represent the workers there or the communities they represent. That's just market conditions. That's what happens.

We should always learn by our history. One of the mistakes we can make as parliamentarians and as community leaders is sometimes not to take a look at our history and to recognize that Canada was built on a premise very different from what was built in the United States. The United States' view was -- and it's a view that worked for them because they have the population base, and climatic conditions and everything else being part of that -- that the market was large enough to allow the free market system to play a much larger role than it played in Canada. When it came to developing our transportation system, rail and road, and also air and marine, if it had not been for our federal government, and our provincial government in some cases, I think a lot of the system of transportation that we take for granted today would not have come to be created.

The second part is that there are a lot of communities that wouldn't exist in this country if it had not been for the role the federal and provincial governments played in putting in place directly a system of transportation to allow those communities to develop. Who would have been the winners at the end of that? That's a question you have to ask yourself. Who benefits by deregulation? Is it the people? In some cases, yes. I'll agree there are going to be some cases in deregulation where there are large markets, where there are many, many people using the bus system, that will benefit from increased competition. No question about that; I don't argue that for one second. But you also have to be fair on the other side of the argument, that there are going to be an equal amount of people -- maybe not an equal amount of people, but there are going to be a number of people in many communities who will be negatively affected because there is not the market in many of those areas to sustain the system of transportation.

In northeastern Ontario I look, for example, at communities like Chapleau in the riding of Nickel Belt. Chapleau, for people who don't know, is a community geographically situated about two hours down the highway from Timmins; two or two and a half hours, depending on how you drive. The nearest community to Chapleau that has medical facilities sufficient enough to deal with most emergency needs is Timmins. The system we have today at one point provided bus transportation on a weekly basis. I think that's the way it was set up; I might be incorrect here and somebody may correct me. At one time it was daily and I think it went to weekly, but the idea was that you were able to at least provide some basic form of service so that the people in that community, if they needed to go to a doctor's appointment in Timmins or they needed to conduct business in Timmins, they were able to get on the bus and go to Timmins and do what they needed to do.

If you deregulate entirely the bus system, I would argue many communities other than Chapleau, communities like Hearst, Matheson and a whole bunch of other communities in between, are going to be negatively affected. You're not going to see the same level of bus service that we have today.

Who gains with that? That's a question I want you to ask yourselves. Who gains? Is it the people living in those communities? I think the answer is no. Is it the taxpayers? No, because in reality the bus system in this province is not subsidized by the provincial government. I think that's something people need to recognize. Even the ONTC bus system that is run and known as the Ontario Northland Railway -- the ONR buses -- is not subsidized by the people of this province. It is run as a commercial operation. The way the ONR is able to put buses into communities that don't have a market to sustain bus services and a full service is by making money from those runs from Timmins to North Bay, Timmins to Sudbury, Sudbury to Toronto. That's how they pay for those other small communities.

The government way back when that decided the ONTC had to play a role in bus transportation did so because it recognized, quite frankly, that if you did not have that system of the government coming in and filling that void and having a system of regulation in order to allow the carrier, in this case ONR, to have basically a monopoly on the area, the market would be so fragmented that you would not be able to make a go of it at all. All you would end up with at the end is bus services from Timmins to Sudbury to North Bay. If you happened to live on those routes, you'd do fine, but if you lived off those routes, you'd be without bus service.

I come back to a very, very simple point, and the point is, who's going to benefit? I think you, as Conservative members, are decent people who come to this Legislature, who really want to do the right thing for your constituents. But I think on this one, and I don't mean to be argumentative -- oh, my God, we have Conservative members in the gallery. They're waving hi. You do have a seat in here, sir -- both of you.

The point I'm getting at here, what I want to say to the Conservative members, is that I respect that you were elected by the majority of constituents in your communities to come to this Legislature and to try to pass legislation or to deal with issues of provincial concern. That is well understood by all members of this House. But I think in your zeal to be able to follow the ideology of your Conservative Party, you find yourselves in a position where you're saying, "We believe the private sector will do it best," and you're forgetting that, quite frankly, the private sector will do nothing in some of those communities. I think, to be fair, you have to admit that. Yes, there will be some winners with deregulation of bus services, but there will be many, many, many losers in communities across rural Ontario.

I think what you should be trying to do, rather than moving forward with bus deregulation such as you're bringing forward now, is to take a look at the various markets across Ontario and make some determinations as to how we deal with particular markets. Is there a hybrid system of some type that could be looked at by the Ministry of Transportation to say, "It makes perfectly good sense to deregulate in an area of high population where there may be a market there to be able to sustain the competition"? I still think we would have a debate from the New Democrats on that particular issue, but I think we would be a little bit less cynical if you were to try to take a look at it that way.

But to take a policy in this province when it comes to transportation and to go to a system that basically says, "We're moving away from all regulation" -- because that's what you're doing here. Over the long run there will be no regulation of the bus system as you go through this process. At the very end, we'll have a totally open system with no regulation and no government presence.

I think what you should be asking the Minister of Transportation and what you should be asking Mike Harris from Nipissing -- he's a northerner as well; sometimes I wonder, but he's from northern Ontario and should understand this as the Premier -- is that it is not going to serve the best interests of many people in rural and northern Ontario to deregulate bus services. If you're really about a government of common sense that wants to take a commonsense approach to this, I say you have to take one step back on this one and say, listen, we need to take a look at how we can apply regulation in those markets that don't have the markets to be able to sustain full competition, and remove maybe some or all of the regulations in other areas where the markets are able to deal with it, and even if you wanted to, to have a piece of legislation that says every five years we're going to go back and we're going to examine what has happened in those jurisdictions where you have taken regulation off or you've left regulation in, and to have a flexible model so that in the end the province of Ontario and its Legislature is responding to the needs of all Ontarians, not just a few.


I'm trying to be as non-partisan as I can on this one because I want the members to hear me, and I well understand that if I just stood in the House and railed at you for the next 30 minutes you would not be listening, but I have your full attention and I appreciate that.

I'm just saying, I want you to seriously think about this because I can tell you, and I think a lot of members here from the Conservative Party who represent rural Ontarians probably agree with me deep down, that ideologically -- hey, listen, from a social democratic principle, I would much rather have a totally regulated system, but I'm a pragmatic socialist and I recognize that what you need to do is be able to find a balance. And I'm prepared to say that balance is part regulation where you need it, and maybe where you don't need it you do otherwise. But I think you also have a responsibility the other way. You can't carry ideology from the Conservative Party to the point where you're saying this is just a one-stamp approach to the whole issue.

We know, boy, there's going to be some success stories in Hamilton and in Windsor and in Sarnia and a few other communities that will probably do well with this, and forget that there are literally hundreds of communities in this province who are going to be hurt by this decision over the longer run. I'll tell you what's going to end up happening -- and you know it as well as I do -- you're going to end up with, in some communities, a very high level of service where you're going to have a good fleet of buses servicing those communities. You're going to have probably a well-maintained system of buses in some of those communities as well, because some of those companies are going to try to do a good job; not all. If you take regulation off, I would argue, safety will probably become an issue at one point.

On the other hand, in communities where there isn't the market you're going to have Billy Joe's Taxi Service running up and down the highways of northern and rural Ontario transporting people in a minivan or transporting people in a station wagon. It will be the best service that you can expect from your bus carrier.

That's what the Minister of Transportation said the day that he delivered his statement in this House in regard to this legislation. I remember full well what he said. Go back and look at Hansard. He said, "This will allow the private entrepreneur to come in and to put minivans where it's necessary to transport people along the highways." I yelled back across the House and I said, "What about station wagons?" The minister said, "Them too."

I don't know about you, but I expect that if I'm an Ontarian living in northern Ontario I get the same level of service to a certain extent that my counterparts do in southern Ontario.

You may wonder, as southern members here in this Legislature, why we from the north are always adamantly trying to defend the constituents of northern Ontario. It's because there is a mindset here in this House, there is a mindset within your government, that the approaches of southern Ontario, when it comes to dealing with economic issues, are well applied in places like northern and rural Ontario. I tell you, they're not.

Northern Ontario has done well economically where governments have taken a good lead role.

Dans des communautés comme Kapuskasing, Timmins et Hearst, toute la question d'économie, de développement économique était faite de manière très positive. Pourquoi ? Pour beaucoup de raisons. C'est parce que le gouvernement provincial de la journée, le gouvernement conservateur, le gouvernement libéral avec M. Peterson et grandement le gouvernement NPD avec M. Rae, dans le nord de l'Ontario a joué un rôle très important et a pris sa responsabilité en disant : «Il ne faut pas seulement laisser le secteur privé tout faire, sans aucun regard pour le restant de la province. Le gouvernement lui aussi a un rôle très important à jouer.

C'est ça, le problème ; c'est ça qui me trouble de manière très profonde. Le gouvernement dit avec ce projet de loi, comme avec les autres, «Nous, gouvernement conservateur, avons une approche qui va très bien marcher dans le sud de l'Ontario, qui va très bien marcher dans certaines places dans le sud» -- je dirais que dans beaucoup de cantons à travers l'Ontario hors Toronto ça ne va pas marcher -- «et on va appliquer cette loi partout en Ontario et tout va bien aller.»

Vous savez que ce n'est pas le cas. On a besoin de prendre notre responsabilité dans cette assemblée. Comme législateurs, on a besoin d'aller au ministre des Transports pour lui dire simplement : «Dans cette instance, vous avez tort. Vous n'avez pas pris une approche à trouver des solutions au transport d'autobus en Ontario, et on veut que vous regardiez votre législation pour voir où ça fait du bon sens, dans la Révolution du bon sens, de trouver des solutions pour le secteur privé de jouer un plus grand rôle dans les communautés comme Toronto et d'autres grosses communautés, puis ici dans l'est de l'Ontario ou dans le nord, qu'on peut jouer un rôle plus important comme gouvernement et que ça veut dire qu'on a besoin d'avoir des réglementations. Ça veut dire très simplement que le seul système de transport d'autobus dans le nord-est de l'Ontario, c'est l'ONR.

Si vous ne le faites pas, le marché n'est pas assez grand, comme vous le savez bien. Je suis sûr que vous lisez chaque journée le Timmins Daily Press et chaque semaine the Enterprise et la Boîte à Nouvelles d'Iroquois Falls. Je suis convaincu, parce que je vous ai vu lire ici à la chambre, que si on se trouve dans une situation où on alloue la compétition complète à ces marchés-là, il n'y aura pas assez de clients pour soutenir toutes les compagnies privées qu'il y a dans ce secteur-là. Ça ne va pas marcher. Quoi qu'il va arriver, c'est que dans toutes les communautés du nord de l'Ontario, ils vont se faire effacer d'une manière très négative.

The other concern I have is what this means to the ONTC. I had the opportunity to meet with the mayors of northeastern Ontario and an organization called the Northeastern Ontario Municipal Association at the Timmins underground gold mine tour about two weeks ago. NEOMA consists of all the mayors, from the Highway 11 corridor, from Matheson all the way up to Hearst and into Timmins. All the mayors were there, and one of the presentations we got was on the question of what was happening with the ONR and the ONTC, Air Ontario etc. One of the things that people had not stopped to think about until I mentioned it was that you as a government have said you've reduced the operating subsidy of ONTC by $10 million, I believe, this year. I'm pretty sure I've got the number right.

Ms Shelley Martel (Sudbury East): Two years.

Mr Bisson: Over two years; it's $5 million per year, $10 million over two years. Okay, I've got it.

That has resulted in the shutdown of norOntair. I'll come back to that later. I hope you haven't thought about this, because if you have, I'm a little bit concerned: If you allow deregulation, you've got the ONTC that is losing, over two years, $10 million of its subsidy, with more subsidies to go further down the road. That means the ONTC will have to rely even more on the commercial operations of the ONTC, which is the bus services, the communications system, the ferry system they have -- I think that's a subsidized one, actually. They have to be able to rely more and more on the system of the commercial arms of their organization.

If you allow deregulation to happen, I will predict in this House today that the ONTC will cease and desist within five to six years. It will no longer operate in northeastern Ontario. Why? Because you will take away one of the abilities the ONTC has to make a buck so that it can provide services to people in northeastern Ontario and other areas that are very important. If it weren't for the ONTC, many of the services that we presently have in northeastern Ontario would not exist at all.

I think the Conservative government of Bill Davis, back in the 1970s, put norOntair in place, if I'm correct. Why did they do that? Because Bill Davis that day, along with I think Leo Bernier, the minister, said, "Quite frankly, the private sector is not filling the void of transportation in northeastern Ontario." If you lived in communities like Hearst back then, Kapuskasing, Chapleau, Foleyet, Wawa, White River, Dubreuilville, Elliot Lake, Manitoulin, Gore Bay, you didn't get services at all or you got substandard services. The government of the day realized they had to play a lead role to be able to provide those services.

It meant that the government gave a direct operating grant to ONTC to run norOntair, and norOntair came and was put in place and ended up, over a period from mid-1970s until recently, providing air service especially for those people in northeastern Ontario and some routes up in the northwest to Thunder Bay and Winnipeg. What happened then was that the government, in moving forward with its ideology of privatization and lack of government control -- that the private sector can do it best -- basically said to norOntair, "That's it; we're cutting your subsidy," they said to the ONTC. This was very smart politically. I'll tell you, the government on this one -- I don't think they thought of this, but politically it was smart. You cut the subsidy to the ONTC and then you make the board of directors make the decision about what they're going to do, knowing fully well that the decision would be to close down norOntair, and the government would try to stand back and say: "We wash our hands. It wasn't our decision, it was the board."


Today I asked the question -- it wasn't myself, it was the member for Sudbury East who asked the question -- on the ONTC to the minister, and the minister yet again today stands in this House and says: "Oh, it's the ONTC. There's a board that does that. I don't know." I'm telling you, I've got a bit of a problem with a Minister of Northern Development and Mines who doesn't know what the ONTC is doing and doesn't understand what those agencies are all about, because I can tell you, in our government our ministers bloody well understood what those agencies were all about and we played a very strong role. The Minister of Northern Development and Mines, the member for Sudbury East, Shelley Martel, I can tell you, at any period of the day knew exactly what was going on at the ONTC; she knew what was happening at the heritage board; she knew what was happening within OPAP and various programs of the ministry.

That troubles me, because what this government did with norOntair, they just said: "Pull the funding. We'll let the board make a decision. Boom. norOntair is gone, and by the time people figure out what hit them, it'll be a dead issue." Well, it wasn't a dead issue. People in northeastern Ontario, I tell you, are not forgetting what you guys have done there. I was amazed; it was unbelievable. I sent a householder out, like all other members do in this assembly -- we're entitled to send a piece of mail to every person who lives in our riding as far as their household -- and on it was nothing about norOntair. On it was basically: "Do you agree with the tax cut scheme that this government has? Do you want a tax cut or do you want to protect services?" I am amazed, first of all, at the volume of mail that has come back on that response. On that one alone I got over 2,000 pieces back, and they're still coming in.

But you know what's more interesting? NorOntair wasn't even mentioned on that piece of literature that went out, and I would dare to guess that 10% to 15%, and maybe even as high as 20%, of respondents wrote on the leaflet themselves they were mad because the government had cancelled norOntair, because people in northeastern Ontario understood, in communities like Cochrane, they understood in Kapuskasing, as they did in Timmins, that norOntair was a vital link of transportation in northeastern Ontario. Now we see -- what are they doing? They're moving from air services and saying, "We don't need that any more; we'll let the private sector do that," all done, and they're moving over to bus deregulation.

What will happen to bus deregulation is the same thing as is happening with what you've done with the airlines. I can say this in the House because I have immunity in this House. I will guarantee --

Mr Michael Brown: Say it outside.

Mr Bisson: No, I'm not going to say it outside. I don't want to get sued. I will say unequivocally that within about a year to a year and a half, I will bring you all on a tour of northeastern Ontario to communities that had air services withdrawn from norOntair that are now being serviced by private sector air carriers, and a year and a half from now, they will have nothing, many communities.

Ms Martel: Not even that long.

Mr Bisson: One of the members here says not even that long, and she's right. I think it's probably going to happen by this summer or this fall, because it's been tried before. You know, how many times -- I say again, we need to learn by the history. There is not the market in some of those communities to be able to develop a system of private sector transportation that is totally run on its own. There are just not enough people. How do you tell the people of Gore Bay, how do you tell the people of Elliot Lake --

Mr Michael Brown: How would the TTC work without subsidies?

Mr Bisson: I'm coming to that. But how do you tell the people of Gore Bay, how do you tell the people of Elliot Lake, how do you tell the people of Wawa, how do you tell the people of Chapleau, how do you tell the people of Hearst that they don't deserve to have some form of air transportation? They've got it now, but I'm telling you, within a year and a half, I would predict that half of those communities that now have got private sector carriers will either be with an extremely reduced service with infrequent visits by airlines that fly, and when you radio and say, "I've got a passenger," maybe they'll drop by and pick you up, or you will have nobody at all.

What you will end up with in the bus transportation system is basically the same thing. At the beginning, the government will do what it can in order to attract private sector carriers. It is politically wise to do so, but six months, a year down the road, most of those communities will be without.

I'm going to say something to my southern Ontario friends who are here, the people living in the greater GTA and the Hamilton corridor: How would you feel as southern Ontario residents if the Mike Harris government came to you and said, "We are going to pull away from all our responsibilities of GO Transit and we as a province will no longer play a role in GO Transit and we will strictly throw that into the hands of the private sector"? In some communities, Go Transit would not operate whatsoever if you were to pull away the government role that it plays in being able to provide funding for the purchase of equipment and repair of equipment of Go Transit. There are many communities that wouldn't have it.

That's what we find offensive in northern Ontario, and that's why I come here from the community of Timmins and I say to you, what you're trying to do here with bus deregulation is a made-in-southern-Ontario proposition that is looked at from a southern Ontario filter, that is looked at from the perspective of what it will do for Metro Toronto and Hamilton. In some cases you will have winners, but by and large, in northern Ontario and rural Ontario we are going to get it in the ear. It is as simple as that. I say to the members opposite -- again, I'm trying to say it as politely as I can -- please don't do this. We are going to get hurt in northern Ontario. That's the effect of what you're doing.

I'm prepared, as the member for Cochrane South, to work with you wherever possible to be able to move forward and try to find solutions to very tough problems. I recognize the government has a debt and is trying to deal with both its debt and deficit. That's what we were doing in government as well, so I understand that, but you cannot take a holus-bolus approach to solving those problems purely from a perspective of saying the private sector does it best, because you know as well as I do, yes, the private sector does it better in some cases, but not in all cases.

Imagine how you would feel if I was the government today and I was to walk into this House and say, "I'm kicking out the entire private sector when it comes to private bus transportation, because I believe that only the public sector should be providing a bus transportation system in this province." You would rail -- pardon the pun -- against our government if we were to do that. First of all, we wouldn't, because we're not that ideologically driven in the New Democratic Party that we would try to take a holus-bolus approach. If people learned anything with five years of government under Bob Rae, it's that we were a pragmatic government that said: "Listen, you have to govern from your principles as a social democrat, but you cannot govern strictly as a social democrat only. There are other things you need to do sometimes that may or may not fall into what your party sometimes would like to do. Within time, maybe you can do some things."

I think that's what you guys haven't learned. You come to government, you feel you've got a majority and you've listened to people and consulted prior to the election in the Common Sense Revolution, and yes, you hit on some flash points. There's no question of that. There are people who are upset about some of the issues you campaigned on, the question of welfare, the question of debt and deficit; no question, there were some people who were upset about that. But you come into this House and into government and you say: "Now we've got all the answers. We are the messiahs. We know what needs to be done. We're just going to go and do it. We recognize they are tough decisions, but it's good for you. We're going to spoon-feed all these decisions to you so that in the end Ontario is going to be a lot better."

I say that's not the case, and that's what most people find so offensive with this government. Most people in this province are fairminded. Most people are prepared to give the government a chance. The history of governments in this country has always been the same. There's a fairly long honeymoon period with most new governments, because people try to be fairminded, but where I think the rubber hits the road with you guys is that people say, "Hey, you know, these guys don't seem to get it, they don't seem to get it that there is a democracy in this province."

People need to be listened to and you have to amend your ways according to not only the will of the people, because at times you do have to make decisions that are unpopular and the public will would want you to go differently, but you have to be able to govern from the perspective of being able to do things from a pragmatic position, and I would argue bus deregulation the way you do it is not pragmatic.

One of the other things that's interesting about this bill is that this whole bill makes the system self-financing. The whole idea is that the industry will pay for it, but why, once you've got a system, does the cost -- let me do that again. The bill makes the system self-financing. The industry pays for it. That's where you're going with this, on to the deregulation, we understand. But why, once you've got a system that doesn't cost the taxpayer a cent, would you turn around and throw it all away? Why would you do that?

You're going to a self-financing system, but with the ultimate goal at the end that you want to get away from all regulation, and that's the part I really find a bit bizarre. You guys come to this place and you say you're the government of common sense. You say you want to go to a system of deregulation. What you're doing, though, in this bill is you're saying that the entire system as we know it is a system that will be self-financed, a system that will not be paid for by the public purse, a system that will be strictly paid by the fees and licences you charge the people in the transportation industry when it comes to bus services. But at the same time, where you want to go in the end is that you want to deregulate the entire thing. In other words, you're going to go through this whole change, you're going to make the entire thing self-financing, and once you've finally got it self-financing, which may not be a bad idea, you say we're going to throw it all out.


Comment est-ce que ça a du bon sens ? Est-il vraiment quelque chose à faire avec la Révolution du bon sens ? Est-ce que ça fait du bon sens pour le gouvernement de l'Ontario de dire, «On va prendre la démarche, comme gouvernement, de dire qu'on a besoin de changer le système de réglementation dans le système d'autobus et le faire se financer lui-même à travers les licences et à travers les différentes méthodes de paiement qu'on a dans le système, dans le secteur privé, pour que ça ne coûte aucun cent au public, que les payeurs de taxes ne paient pas un cent. Ils vont à travers tout ce système-là pour le changer, et savez-vous ce qui va arriver enfin ? Ils vont s'en débarrasser complètement.

Je me demande pourquoi un gouvernement prend cette approche-là. Vous savez autant que moi que c'est supposément le gouvernement du bon sens. Ils ont eu une révolution, eux autres, au mois de juin l'année passée : «On va emmener un mandat. Nous autres, on connaît ça, le bon sens. On est bien smart.» Mais ils font un changement, et après ils vont tout jeter dehors. Je vous demande, ça fait-il du bon sens ? Pour moi ça ne fait pas trop de bon sens du tout.

I don't want to take the remainder of my time. I just want to in the end make the argument one last time to members and put it as clearly as I can: Yes, you have the right to govern. Yes, you have the right to make decisions for the people of this province, and yes, you have the majority in this House. In the majority of this House, you will decide in your own way what you think you need or need not do when it comes to bus transportation in this province.

But I ask you and I beg you, quite frankly, when it comes to the system of bus transportation in the province, there is not a one-stop approach to this whole issue. You cannot go into bus deregulation from a holus-bolus approach and say, "My God, we're going to find a system of deregulation and we're going to apply it entirely across the province of Ontario, and in the end we're all going to be better served by it."

You need to recognize as government members that, yes, you represent the Conservative Party of Ontario, or should I say the Reform Party in some cases? Yes, you have an ideology. Nothing wrong with an ideology. I have one as well, and that's not a bad word. But in our ideology, you from the right and me from the left, we have to somewhere within that recognize that, yes, there are many good things with both of those ideologies.

There are many things that will work well when it comes from strictly one perspective, but in this case this is not one of them, because the province is a vast area that is not the same from one part to the other. There are differences. There are market differences that need to be recognized. I ask you and I ask the members again, please don't impose this on northern Ontario because, quite frankly, the north and many rural communities across this province are going to be severely affected in the longer run by what happens as you deregulate it.

The other thing I would say to you is a question of the ONTC. I'm proud as a northerner to know that there is an organization called Ontario Northland. It is a crown-owned corporation that is owned by the taxpayers of this province, and the board of that organization and the staff of that organization have worked extremely well over the years as conscientious employees and as a responsible board to be able to provide a system of transportation in northern Ontario that has served us well.

Would we like to have more? Of course we would. But the reality is that it's done a fairly good job, given its mandate and given the resources it has. And have the taxpayers of Ontario subsidized it? You bet we have. I don't mind paying taxes as a northerner to an organization like that to be able to provide a system of transportation, because in the end it is not only good for people to be able to get on a bus; it's good for the private sector being able to move goods in and out of northern Ontario. The cornerstone of any good economy is a good system of transportation.

Do I have a problem with the ONR having a monopoly in northern Ontario? No, I don't, because I recognize that if you allow strict private sector competition to happen, there is not the market in many places in northern Ontario to allow bus services to happen on their own. If you move to a private sector system strictly, at the end we will have a two-tiered system of bus transportation in this province. If you live in an area where there's a large geographic concentration, a large concentration of people in the geography, they will be well serviced, and if not, you will be without.

I say again, I wonder what would happen if the Metro members of the Conservative caucus and the people living along the Hamilton corridor were to get the news from Mike Harris and his cabinet that the GO transportation system was being dismantled by this government. You would be saying what I am saying as a northerner, what Howard Hampton has said as a northern, and every other person in my caucus, the NDP, who gets up, that you will get nothing but a hue and cry from northern Ontario as you go through that, such as you would if you dismantled the GO transportation system, because on its own it can't do it.

With that, Mr Speaker, I would like to thank you for my participation.

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

Ms Martel: I would like to congratulate my two colleagues who spoke on this issue this afternoon. I want to point out that for most of the debate the Minister of Transportation was here, and we do appreciate that fact. Let me follow up on two of the very important points that were made by my colleagues this afternoon.

First, no matter how you want to frame it, not matter how you want to cut it, this Conservative government has got to realize that when you enter into bus deregulation, you do that at a cost to the service that we now have in many, many northern Ontario communities and communities in rural Ontario. You can't get away from that; that is what the consequence is going to be. That is exactly the experience that we saw in the US. Let me just follow up a little bit with respect to that experience.

There is a professor by the name of Paul Dempsey who is at the University of Denver law school and he himself is internationally recognized as an expert when it comes to transportation law. He wrote a very important article entitled Canadian Transportation Liberalization. In that article he drew on the experience in the US, and that experience was the following. Four years after bus deregulation in the United States, there were over 4,000 communities which lost bus service, and of those 4,000 communities, only 342 could be categorized as small, remote or rural. The fact of the matter is, small communities, remote, rural communities did lose, but a whole bunch of other communities lost their bus service as well.

Second, both Greyhound and Trailways, the two major US operators, went into receivership and/or collapsed. You had two major national transportation agencies or bus services that also collapsed as a result of all of that competition. Many, many communities lost their service. There was no positive impact on the two national carriers, and this government ought to recognize --

The Acting Speaker: Your time has expired. Any further questions or comments?

Mr Michael Brown: I appreciate the opportunity to comment on the speech of my friend the member for Cochrane South, and I just have a few questions. He's brought a very northern perspective to this situation. I know that in northeastern Ontario anyway the ONTC operates the bus service that is used by many communities and that its services will be impacted and the general operation of ONTC will be impacted by what this bill does. He made a very good point when he talked about the commercial revenues of ONTC subsidizing, if you will, some of the other operations that are very important, such as the Chi-Cheemaun service between Tobermory and my constituency.

I'm seeing a pattern here. I don't think I'm being unduly paranoid, but it seems to me the Minister of Northern Development and Mines is seeing the world in a way that says: "We, as the government, have no responsibility. It's all the ONTC's fault. If something happens, it's the ONTC."

Well, the poor ONTC has lost $10 million that used to be placed into that corporation to provide services for northerners, services like air service. The minister directed them, in a statement on November 29, to get rid of norOntair, and then has the gall to come along and say, "It was the ONTC that did that, not me," when of course in black and white it is clearly explained that the minister was the one who eliminated norOntair.

I'm seeing the same thing with bus service. It is the same thing; it's somebody else's fault. Blame it on them. You want to blame it on the municipalities, you want to blame it on the school boards, blame it on the ONTC.


Mr Beaubien: I would like to reply to some of the comments some of the opposition have made this afternoon.

I would like to also point out that we are, as a government, concerned about the economic viability of rural communities. I listened to the member for Rainy River and the member for Renfrew North list a long list of communities in northern Ontario. I wonder how many of these communities have bus service now and how many of those communities had bus services five years ago.

I look at my own community whereby we do not have a bus service. I also look at an alliance called Lambton Alliance whereby it is in an alliance of senior citizens who look after providing the services that the people need. We can play on emotions here, if we so wish. However, I ask the opposition, when the bus drives from Hearst to Cochrane, does the bus drop the patient, whether that patient has cancer or whether that patient's an elderly person, to the hospital or to the service that the person needs? The answer is no, it does not. Consequently, our own community has looked after its own needs and it services the area very well.

Furthermore, what is wrong with having a private individual provide a service with a 12-passenger van like is provided in many municipalities? I think this province was built on the will of the private sector. I think an awful lot of government agencies destroyed the fabric of this province.

I look at the inheritance we received from the previous government, $100 billion. If you feel that's the way we should conduct business in this province, I would strongly suggest that it does not make sense, and what future are you going to leave for your kids?

Mr Chris Stockwell (Etobicoke West): Mr Speaker, I thank you for the opportunity to speak briefly to the comments that were made. There is this perception offered up by the opposition parties that by regulatory intervention by governments, somehow this is a process that's free. There's no cost attached to it.

The difficulty is, there is a cost. Forcing operators to stop at unprofitable locations -- I'm not saying that that needs to be serviced -- drives up the cost of operating a facility or operating a bus line, operating an airline etc. There is an opportunity in that for some operators to lose money, go out of business. These are the kinds of things that happen in very regulated industries. Very regulated industries at the end of the day aren't really being serviced free or at no cost, or if they're trying to recover their cost, it's so excessive that they don't become accessible to quite a few people who want to use it.

Having said that, the arguments can be put forward -- and I heard the member for Rainy River speak about the airline industry and other industries that were involved in regulatory change. To be quite frank, if there weren't changes in the airline industry when they were making those changes, it was doomed. It was literally doomed for the costs and the amounts of money the airlines were losing. They were losing a ton of money and they couldn't go on year after year after year continuing to lose money. In effect, if they did, the only participant that would have been left would have been the government to subsidize heavily industry upon industry.

I agree there are some concerns across the floor. But to leave the impression that by regulating it's a panacea, by regulating you've come to this Shangri-La, you're kidding yourself, because the costs are excessive, some businesses end up not being able to operate and at the end of the day you need a heavy commitment from government funds to maintain levels of service that otherwise couldn't be maintained.

The Acting Speaker: The member for Cochrane South, you have two minutes.

Mr Bisson: I really tried through the last 20 or 30 minutes that I had to try to approach this in a non-partisan way. I really, really tried. I tried to say to the members, listen, there are some real concerns in northern Ontario, but I reject categorically what the member from Etobicoke has said and the member for Lambton has said because what they're saying is, the government doesn't have a role and responsibility, and I tell you they do. And does it cost money? You bet it does, but that's why we pay taxes. Yes, people want value for money. Yes, people want to make sure that it's accountable. Yes, people want to make sure there's a good bang for the buck. But for you to stand in this House and to say that if it doesn't make a buck, it shouldn't be there --

Mr Stockwell: I never said that.

Mr Bisson: Quite frankly, that's what you said, Mr Stockwell. What it means to say is, communities in Hearst, communities in Cochrane, communities in Matheson are going to be without services altogether, and I reject that.

Mr Stockwell: Point of order, Mr Speaker: I just want to say very clearly that that's not at all what I said. If the member wants to correct his own record, he can, but I would ask him not to interpret mine.

Mr Bisson: The point is that it's an ideological decision you're making. You're saying that subsidies are wrong. You're saying the government should not be in the business of offering subsidies or regulating because it costs the taxpayers a buck, that the private sector can do it better, so let them do it because they know how to do it best. That, my friend, is an ideological approach that is not going to work.

The reality is that this whole country, the entire country, has been developed over a period of years by the federal and provincial governments playing a very strong role when it comes to transportation. For this Conservative government to say here today that you're going to turn the clock of history back and undo what's happened in the transportation system in this country from 1867 to 1996, that everything done in the past was wrong and you're right, I say you're only kidding yourselves and the voters will realize that in three years' time.

The Acting Speaker: Further debate?

Mr Jerry J. Ouellette (Oshawa): As my colleague Transportation Minister Al Palladini mentioned earlier, this government is committed to breaking down the barriers to economic growth and investment. In the Ontario government's economic statement last November, we promised to begin the red-tape review to tackle the restrictions on private sector ingenuity. Government has no business telling business what to do, and government has no business telling bus companies how to operate. That's why this government is removing economic restrictions on Ontario's intercity bus industry.

The intercity bus industry has been regulated since the 1920s. At that time the regulation was necessary, particularly during the Depression years, to help stabilize the industry and ensure an adequate level of service. Bus companies had exclusive rights to operate scheduled and charter routes in a particular area on the understanding that they would subsidize the more costly rural routes with the profits from the larger routes. Seventy years ago, regulation may have made sense. At that time it made sense to limit the number of companies allowed to offer bus service and to protect them from larger monopolies and harmful competition. Back then, the point was to give the industry some stability during its infancy stage. Now, however, the rationale no longer applies, and I'd like to take a few minutes to explain why.

At one time, regulations helped prevent large bus companies from discriminating against rural customers. They also prevented larger companies from having a monopoly on the market, thereby driving smaller companies out of business. Today, however, those same regulations frustrate new companies trying to set up competing services and they limit competition among existing companies.

The practice of using high-volume routes to subsidize low-volume routes may have been useful in the past. However, today people in the industry admit this doesn't occur as much as it once did. Most of them realize that the bus business must be self-sufficient and this has led to a gradual decline in services across Ontario.

Another reason we must remove restrictions on the intercity bus industry is to put pressure on bus companies to cut their overhead costs and run more efficiently. Private sector companies must be lean and resourceful, and so should the intercity bus industry. With deregulation, we could see more companies forming alliances and setting up services like the airlines have; that is, a hub and spoke system where local bus companies feed passengers to a larger company in a central location that will take them on the next leg of the trip. Smart businesses will investigate these kinds of opportunities in the market and determine where gaps exist. That way, they can create a successful business and meet the public's service needs.

There are other problems associated with regulating the bus industry. Regulations prevent bus companies from responding to evolving markets. Bureaucratic red tape and administrative delays discourage new and existing companies from meeting new travel needs. An industry without these barriers will be more flexible and quick to respond to calls for services like more accessible buses and expanded services on high-volume routes.

The industry as it is today also lacks innovation. Government must step away and give entrepreneurs a chance to step in with creative ideas. Without restrictions, the private sector can easily set up new services: specialized services and services that cater to a particular market niche.

Of course, in these times of fiscal constraint we must also consider the cost of regulation to taxpayers. Government currently operates the Ontario Highway Transport Board, which is responsible for granting companies a licence to operate. Less regulation will reduce government costs and put more money in the taxpayers' pockets.

Finally, deregulation could also have some important benefits -- spinoffs on other parts of the economy. For instance, bus manufacturers may start getting more orders for new buses. Lower prices and better services undoubtedly will attract more customers. Plus, more bus routes that integrate with other transportation and business services could spring up. All of these could benefit the tourism sector.

I'd like to turn to another issue. Some people have expressed concerns about deregulation. Recently, a group called the Freedom to Move Coalition spoke out. I would like to take a moment to address some of these concerns.

First of all, I'd like to get back to something I mentioned briefly at the outset; that is, that this government is committed to eliminating red tape and reducing regulatory burden on private sector companies. If we continue to impose economic regulations on the intercity bus industry, we are creating barriers to job creation, economic growth and investment in this province.

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

The House adjourned at 1802.