36th Parliament, 1st Session

L070 - Tue 7 May 1996 / Mar 7 Mai 1996













































The House met at 1332.




Mr Richard Patten (Ottawa Centre): I rise in recognition of Education and Training Week in Ontario. This year's Education and Training Week theme, "A World of Opportunities," is fitting, because that is exactly what we in Ontario stand to lose -- a world of opportunities for our students.

Since June 1995 the actions of this government have cast a sombre shadow over the future of education in Ontario. The massive cuts unleashed on Ontario's education system have forced numerous school boards to cancel junior kindergarten and adult education programs.

These changes are being done not in the name of education; rather, they're being done in the name of fiscal restraint. These dollars will be extracted completely from the education system and used to pay for an irresponsible 30% tax rebate, a rebate which will disproportionately benefit those who need it the least.

During the election, the government promised that it would protect classroom education. The reality, however, is that classrooms are being impacted negatively. Ontario now falls below the Canadian average of provincial per-pupil spending.

These are indeed challenging times in Ontario for our students, teachers and education professionals. I sincerely hope all our young people, all our students, young and old, will have the world of opportunities in their education system that they deserve.

I commend all those who are involved in the education week activities, and hope that this government recognizes that, for the sake of Ontario's future, our students should not be the generation that bears the burden of these cuts to education.


Mr Len Wood (Cochrane North): My statement today is to Ernie Eves, Minister of Finance, concerning the poor economic health of the north. A key indication of good economic health is the number of people who have full-time jobs. The more people employed, the more money circulating in the economy, creating more demand and more jobs. One of the primary reasons for the current poor economic performance is your government's cuts to spending, laying off thousands of people in the public sector and providing little or no job creation in the private sector.

There is absolutely no evidence that the tax cut promised in your budget will increase economic activity and create more jobs. At a pricetag of close to $30 billion over five years, the only thing the tax break is certain to do is increase our deficit and debt by $30 billion.

Recently your government gutted the Ministry of Natural Resources by chopping its budget by $137 million. Twenty ministry facilities in northern Ontario will be closed. The transfer of management of Ontario's forests to the large pulp and paper companies means a 40% cut in jobs within the ministry. In northern Ontario this translates into 2,200 layoffs out of 4,600 jobs.

How is this creating a healthy economy? Your policies will not create a healthy economy in the north. The north is being ransacked by your government.


Mr Frank Klees (York-Mackenzie): I rise to stress the important contribution of National Forest Week, which runs until Saturday, May 11. National Forest Week is an annual celebration that has been observed for more than 60 years. Its primary purpose is to increase public awareness of the importance of Canada's forests for both people and wildlife. It also stresses the need for careful management of our forests for present and future generations.

This year's theme for National Forest Week is "Forest Regions: Varied Treasures." It is meant to reflect the increase in the number of urban forests and the increase in our understanding of economic, cultural and environmental values associated with forests.

Our partners in this year's celebration of National Forest Week are the Ontario Forestry Association and the Canadian Forestry Association.

I encourage members to support the many events and initiatives marking National Forest Week in communities across Ontario. Activities include tree planting events, forest tours and educational programs.

In closing, I invite all members to join the Honourable Chris Hodgson, the Minister of Natural Resources, and myself tomorrow morning at 9 am on the east lawn of the Legislature where, along with our partners from the Ontario Forestry Association, the minister will plant a tree to commemorate National Forest Week.


Mr Sean G. Conway (Renfrew North): Two months ago the Harris government, as is its right, chose not to reappoint Mr Pravin Shah of Deep River to a second term on the Deep River Police Services Board. Mr Shah was appointed by the previous government.

I can tell you, on behalf of the mayor and the civic administration in the town of Deep River and on the basis of all my information, Mr Shah did an extremely good job. He's an outstanding community leader and did a great job according to all reports. The police services board has invested a considerable amount of time and money in Mr Shah, who willingly took a number of courses and by all reports was very anxious to carry on the good work he had performed for two years.

The government, for whatever reason, chose not to reappoint Mr Shaw. I understand that is the right of the government. What I object to, in the strongest possible terms today, is the government, through the department of the Solicitor General, going through the charade of now holding new interviews, spending time and public money advertising for a position which it intends to fill on the basis of its own choice, which is its right. But on behalf of the people of Deep River and on my own behalf, let me say to the Solicitor General, who has joined the assembly at this time, will you stop wasting public money, stop wasting our time and insulting the intelligence of the community of Deep River --

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



Mr Gilles Bisson (Cochrane South): Later on today, at 4 o'clock, the government of Ontario is going to be bringing to this House and reading the first budget of this Conservative government. People in communities across Ontario know pretty well what's going to be within that budget, because we've seen the effects. We've seen, for example, that in the Timmins and District Hospital up to this point there's been a reduction of $1.2 million in the budget of that hospital. What does that mean? It means fewer services for the people of the community and it also means fewer jobs.

We also take a look at communities like the city of Timmins in regard to its administration. It has lost a total of $4 million. That means less money to plow roads, less money for garbage pickup, overall fewer services and more user fees.

We know the Golden Manor, one of our senior retirement homes, has lost $400,000 up to now. What does that mean? Again, fewer nurses and fewer services for the people in need of the services of Golden Manor.

People wouldn't mind going through this process if they knew there were two questions answered: (1) if it were about real restructuring; and (2) if the money were going to pay down the deficit. But the tax cut is what this is all about. All the cuts we have seen up to now and what we will see in the budget today are about the Mike Harris government saying, at a time when we're $10 billion in debt as of last year, they want to give a tax break to people at a time we can't afford it.

I say to the government, shame on you. You should be trying to deal with the real issues and quit playing politics with the people of Ontario.


Mr R. Gary Stewart (Peterborough): I rise in the House today to criticize opposition members for statements made in the House about the quality of dialysis services as provided by independent health care facilities.

Many independent health facilities are insulted by suggestions that private clinics do not provide quality, safe dialysis treatment to their patients. These clinics meet extremely high standards that are set out and monitored regularly by the College of Physicians and Surgeons.

Private facilities are inspected by nephrologists and managers of dialysis units using very strict criteria. Standards for independent health care facilities are higher than dialysis standards for hospitals; they are not lower, as opposition members want the people of Ontario to believe.

Comments that dialysers are reused is also an unfair statement to make. Most independent health facilities are able to run a cost-effective unit without cutting corners on equipment or levels of care.

I encourage opposition members to stop muddying the reputation of dialysis providers and stop fearmongering. Stop building barriers in front of dialysis units that until now have been nothing more than a dream.


Mr Rick Bartolucci (Sudbury): As we approach budget hour, we get closer to the realization that the New Jersey model, the model of Ontario's Common Sense Revolution, is wrong.

The Governor of New Jersey, who also promised a 30% tax cut, said, "There are many people who said it couldn't be done, but we promised and we delivered." Sound familiar?

But to get this fantastic windfall of a tax break, the Governor had to lay off thousands of workers, cut health and social service programs, privatize nursing homes, cut drug benefits for seniors and the disabled and introduce new user fees. Sound familiar?

Then the Governor slashed funding to municipalities and school boards, which caused property taxes to soar through the roof. The inner-city schools of New Jersey are laboratories of despair for the young, and if you get the impression that the architects of this New Jersey model don't send their children there, you're right.

The small percentage of people receiving more than half the benefits of the 30% tax cut are the wealthy. Sound familiar? Like everywhere else, the neo-conservative experiment spectacularly succeeds at widening the income gap between the rich and the poor. For most people, the 30% tax cut is weaseled back in the form of user fees and higher municipal and higher school taxes.

Welcome to the New Jersey failure. Ontario has arrived.

Mr David Christopherson (Hamilton Centre): Contrary to the hopes of this government, the people of Ontario are very much aware of the price of the tax cut that is likely to be announced this afternoon.

I have a sampling of responses I received from the mailout we did, asking people what they think about the 30% tax cut when indeed they look at what it's costing us as a society and as the people of this province. One of them reads:

"Dear David:

"I am a doctor and would stand to gain financially from a tax cut, but I don't really need it and I don't want it if that money could be used to pay down the deficit while social programs are better protected. This view is shared by many of my peers."

Another constituent writes: "The kind of attack on the poor that Mike Harris's policies constitute is immoral and unjust in any circumstance -- but when the rich are being given tax cuts at the same time, the injustice is unbearable."

Another reads: "I am a concerned disability pensioner. Mike Harris should be in our shoes for a year to see what it's like to live off our pension. Please help us."

Further: "You are not doing anything" -- it's addressed to the Premier -- "to relieve the burden of debt for our people, but you are enriching the few people and making the rest of us suffer, to put more money into the pockets of the rich. When will you admit honestly that you are relieving the wealthy by the 30% rebate?"

No one will be fooled today.


Mr Jerry J. Ouellette (Oshawa): I rise to support the Campbell Children's School Board of Education in my riding of Oshawa.

Specifically, the board provides educational assessment and special education programming as well as life skills training which enable special-needs children to reach a personal level of physical and social independence. The Campbell school services a population base of 409,000 across the region of Durham. The school's caseload has increased by 104% since 1990 with referrals comprising a 60% increase.

Currently, there are 1,502 children receiving service from the Grandview facility, of which 743 were referrals from last year alone. The Grandview facility is classified as a hospital and receives its funding from the Ministry of Health.

As well, there are 20 children currently enrolled in the Campbell Children's School and 171 in the preschool outreach program. The Campbell Children's School is funded by the Ministry of Education under section 68 of the Education Act. The preschool program is funded through the Ministry of Community and Social Services. The speech-language pathology service and the preschool outreach program have had to restrict admissions over the past three years in order to provide services to those in the greatest need.

It is clearly in the best interests of the children with severe physical disabilities and/or communication disorders and their families to provide the children's treatment centres with the option of maintaining on a continuing basis the section 68 schools onsite.

The Speaker (Hon Allan K. McLean): It's time for ministerial statements. No ministerial statements. It's time --

Mr James J. Bradley (St Catharines): On a point of order, Mr Speaker: I realize it's a different kind of day today with the lockup and so on. I'm wondering if you know -- okay, I see the minister coming in now. Thank you very much, Mr Speaker, for indulging me.



Mrs Sandra Pupatello (Windsor-Sandwich): My question is for the Minister of Health. I would like to ask the minister what he intends to do about the doctor shortage in the Windsor-Essex county area, and in particular what he intends to do now.

Hon Jim Wilson (Minister of Health): The government's taken a number of measures to improve the distribution of physicians across the province. Included in those measures is the fact that the underserviced area program is wholly intact and it's my understanding, although there's been a lot in the media and I've been following it every day in Essex-Windsor -- and you might correct me if I'm wrong, I say to the honourable member -- that nobody's applied for the underserviced area program assistance that is available.

Mr Dwight Duncan (Windsor-Walkerville): You're correct, locally we are now trying to begin the process to get the underserviced area designation. Minister, once that process is completed locally, will you use your offices and the ministry resources to help us speed up the process, given that the ministry has already acknowledged that in fact Windsor is an underserviced area?

Hon Mr Wilson: I'd be very pleased on behalf of the government to give that commitment to the honourable members.

Mrs Pupatello: I think it's imperative to know that your own officials, Minister, acknowledge that we have a shortage of some 96 family doctors in the Windsor-Essex county area. It begs the question: How accurate are the ministry records anywhere in Ontario? As you acknowledged the last time I asked the question, there are numerous communities around Ontario which are looking for answers. Discussion like you gave last time on primary care reform really is not adequate. It's a cookie-cutter approach to doctors' services and does not address the issues in areas like Windsor, in areas like Alliston.

I might say that while you have had various opportunities to seek guidance on primary care reform, I too tried to seek more guidance on primary care reform, and last night at a meeting I was tossed out of such a meeting by one of your goons in a silk suit. I can tell you that the reality is that for those of us who live in the Windsor-Essex county community, it's imperative that we don't just wait for primary care reform, because the rostering of doctors will not work on its own.


Hon Mr Wilson: I will be as polite as possible in my reply. There are two things I'd like to bring to the member's attention. One is that primary care reform and the presentation put forward by the Ontario Medical Association, we feel, as a government, are critical components in ensuring that we have better physician distribution and that we solve the problems that face your communities and, as you mentioned, my communities like Alliston and Collingwood.

With respect to the behaviour of the member last night, given that the OMA has also extended the invitation and has briefed the other caucuses -- that was a briefing for our caucus last night -- frankly, your behaviour was despicable, to say the least.


Mrs Elinor Caplan (Oriole): I also have a question for the Minister of Health. Recently, it was reported in the Toronto Sun that the Premier said that the doctors' complaints about quality health care in Ontario are just symptoms of ongoing salary negotiations with the OMA.

It was also reported that the Premier said that doctors should not be, and I'm now quoting directly from the Toronto Sun, "jockeying" around in the middle of negotiations. He's also quoted as saying that doctors want to "break" the salary agreement they signed with the previous NDP government.

Minister, was the Premier referring to the agreement that your Bill 26 scrapped? And if not, what agreement was the Premier referring to?

Hon Jim Wilson (Minister of Health): For the last 10 months we've been working very closely with the Ontario Medical Association in trying to obtain agreement on a number of issues, including enhancement of rural Ontario and northern Ontario physician services. We did get agreement, obviously, on the Scott report -- $70-an-hour sessional fee implementation -- on primary care reform, and a whole host of other issues in which we are in discussions with the Ontario Medical Association at this time.

Mrs Caplan: The Premier has insulted the Ontario Medical Association and doctors by suggesting that they want to scrap the agreement which was quite clearly scrapped by Bill 26, your bill. You scrapped it, not the doctors.

The doctors are rightly feeling angry and frustrated and betrayed by your government. The president of the Ontario Medical Association, Dr Ian Warrack, has stated:

"I'm very concerned about who is speaking for the government when it comes to health care. On the one hand you have the Premier repeatedly stating that there is an agreement in place and there are negotiations ongoing between government and doctors, when in fact neither is the case, and then on the other hand you have the health minister sending a letter to every Ontario doctor telling them a new scheme for funding medical services is about to be imposed."

Minister, who is correct? Are you negotiating a contract, as the Premier says, or is Dr Ian Warrack right when he says there are no negotiations going on? Who is telling the truth?

Hon Mr Wilson: Perhaps the honourable member would like to get up to date a little bit and refer to the press release of yesterday from the Ontario Medical Association where it praised this minister and this government for embracing primary care reform and for actually beginning to deal with, in a public way, some of the questions that have to be dealt with as we move to implement primary care reform.

While we've had our ups and downs in terms of discussions with the Ontario Medical Association, we did inherit a capped pool of $3.805 billion. I remind members that Ontario today spends 20% more than the national average on physician services, so we think we're spending enough money in physician services. Obviously the physicians of the province, through the Ontario Medical Association, would like more money, and that's the basis of the discussion we're having in trying to bring some solutions to the table. We think one of those solutions, in agreement with the OMA, is primary care reform in this province.

Mrs Caplan: The minister has not answered my question. I am fully aware that there are frequently tensions when there are negotiations taking place, but I think he knows full well that there are no negotiations, as the Premier has stated, taking place; discussions yes, but no formal negotiations. The government has clearly stated that it is not interested in an agreement with the Ontario Medical Association.

Minister, Bill 26 gives you all the power to impose a fee schedule. You do not need to consult, negotiate or even discuss your plans with the doctors of this province. The facts are that morale among the province's doctors is at an all-time low and communities all over Ontario, such as Windsor, are experiencing underservicing in areas such as primary care. This is unprecedented. They need doctors now, yet doctors are leaving Ontario in unprecedented numbers. They are fed up; they are feeling betrayed.

I understand that negotiations are difficult, but you have not even admitted to having negotiations. The Premier says you're negotiating; you say you are discussing. You have a responsibility to the people of the province to ensure that the communities of Ontario have the doctors they need and that the doctors are dealt with in good faith. Will you tell the House today, are you going to impose a settlement or are you going to enter into negotiations with the Ontario Medical Association as the bargaining agent for Ontario's doctors? Are you going to negotiate with the OMA?

Hon Mr Wilson: We're having ongoing discussions with the OMA. The proof is in the pudding, in that some three weeks ago ministry staff and my political staff sat down with the 35 heads of the sections of the OMA, the first time in history a government has actually gone in and talked to the 35 heads. They had an interesting day. They didn't agree on some things; they were able to agree on other things. Yes, we're trying to have agreement on a number of issues. What final framework that agreement might take is undecided between the two parties at this time.

With respect to Bill 26, the member is in error. The fact of the matter is that Bill 26 puts in practice and codifies something that's long overdue, and that is that the government can't unilaterally make decisions. We've committed to the OMA that we won't unilaterally change the fee schedule or introduce primary care reform and a number of other initiatives without fully consulting with them and receiving their input. So far that's what we've done, and we are committed to continuing to do that.

With respect to the final point raised by the member, that doctors are leaving Ontario in extraordinarily large numbers, I'd like to see her statistics on that. They do not match the statistics of the Ministry of Health at this time.


Mr Peter Kormos (Welland-Thorold): I've got a question to the Minister of Economic Development. Your leader, the Premier, has on numerous occasions said that Ontario doesn't have a revenue problem but a spending problem. He refuses to acknowledge that this tax cut is going to result in a drop, a decrease in revenues.

It's been reported that your government is going to be introducing video lottery terminals. Video lottery terminals are reported to be worth an extra $1 billion in revenues here in the province of Ontario. If not for the revenue, why would your government even be considering introducing VLTs to Ontario?

Hon William Saunderson (Minister of Economic Development, Trade and Tourism): I would like to decline to comment on the VLTs at this particular time and allow that to come out in the fullness of time.

Mr Kormos: Would I ever love to play poker with this guy.

The finance minister says VLTs can create a whole lot of social problems in society.


The Speaker (Hon Allan K. McLean): Order. I can't hear the member asking the question. There's too much noise. The member for Welland-Thorold.

Mr Kormos: Thank you, Speaker. It is difficult when people are talking in all different places at the same time.

The finance minister of this government says VLTs could create a whole lot of social problems in society.


Mr Kormos: It's what your finance minister said. Lots of other provinces have introduced VLTs and lots of other provinces have had social problems as a result of VLTs. What's different now? You wouldn't even have to consider this kind of socially destructive revenue grab if you weren't hell-bent on a mindless tax cut. Do you believe, Minister, that video lottery terminals lead to serious social problems, as does the Minister of Finance?

Hon Mr Saunderson: Again to the member, I'd like to say that I don't think we need to be lectured by that party over there, which made especially a flip-flopping over Sunday shopping.


Mr Kormos: This minister spent too much time watching the O.J. Simpson trial; he's invoking all sorts of amendment rights and declining to answer. The minister's own colleague -- here we are again -- the member for Middlesex, in a recent riding association newsletter, distributed the most false and erroneous information possible. In that newsletter by the member for Middlesex, he stated that the typical profile of a VLT user is: male, well-educated, employed full-time, with an income range of $25,000 to $30,000, playing once or twice a week for 30 minutes and spending about 10 bucks. Wrong.

In British Columbia, where they abandoned their own plan for introducing VLTs after broad consultation, their studies showed that VLT users are generally people who can ill afford to lose their money, and these are people who tend to be employed at low-paying jobs.

VLT games have been called a tax on the poor; they've been called the crack cocaine of gambling. One Edmonton journalist said that it makes other forms of gambling look like a cake raffle.

The Speaker: Put your question, please.

Mr Kormos: In Alberta, Manitoba and Saskatchewan, charities have reported bingo and break-open ticket losses of up to 80%.

Mike Harris stated, promised, that a Harris government will not move on VLTs until all sectors have been consulted, all impacts are assessed and an agreement is reached on the distribution of revenues. That was an election promise.

Minister, is your government keeping that promise? Tell us how it's keeping that promise. Who's been consulted? What's the distribution of revenues? Come clean.

Hon Mr Saunderson: To the member, I must say that there is an old saying that people in glass houses shouldn't throw stones. I'd like to find out what your policy is on VLTs. What is your policy on VLTs? Aren't there VLTs in the Windsor Casino? Didn't you approve VLTs at the Rama casino? I have to tell you, you, a candidate for leader of your party, better stop speaking out of both sides of your mouth.


Mr Floyd Laughren (Nickel Belt): After that response from Jan Dymond, I'll move to the Minister of Health for a question. To the Minister of Health, yesterday in this House the member for Durham West paid tribute to Nurses Week by saying, "I am certain that all MPPs would agree that Ontario's registered nurses are the bedrock upon which our health care system rests." Now, isn't that a nice bromide coming from a Tory backbencher? What she didn't say is how much harder the nurses have to work to provide the service.

Last week, the Ontario Nurses' Association released a special report on the state of health care in this province. They found that 81% of nurses in Ontario believe that understaffing has reached the point that unsafe conditions exist for patients. The survey cited longer waiting lists, lack of community-based health care services and the need for physicians to spend more time than ever before trying to get their patients access to the health care services they need.

What the nurses are telling you, and the doctors are telling you as well, is that with longer waiting lists, hospital layoffs growing and patient care suffering, it's time you admitted that the promise in the Common Sense Revolution was simply nothing more than that, and it's a promise that already has been broken and people are waiting for you to 'fess up.

Hon Jim Wilson (Minister of Health): Perhaps if the honourable member could be patient for a couple more hours, he will be in a position, I would suggest, to retract what he just said.

Mr Laughren: Well, the minister makes a lot of the announcements he's made on reinvesting into the health care system. He's announced over $2 billion in cuts. In the hospital system alone he's announced about $1.3 billion in cuts and his reinvestments to this point are less than $500 million. He can talk all he likes about continuing reinvestments; he's taking a lot more out of the system than he's put back into it.

I'd like to give the minister a very specific example. St Joe's hospital in the High Park-Swansea area has cut speech pathology therapy programs due to budget restrictions imposed by your government. The waiting list to get an assessment is now about a year, and the waiting list for treatment is another year on top of that. This is what, in a letter from the hospital, they are saying: "You should be aware that our current waiting list for assessment is 8-12 months, with a further 8-12 months for treatment, if indicated. We are currently encouraging all parents to investigate the possibility of extended health care insurance, paying for a private assessment" -- which would be about $200 -- "so that their children can proceed directly to our treatment wait list."

These kids, who are ages two, three and five in particular, need assessment now, not when they're seven years old. When are you going to understand that what you're doing to the health care system is not what the people in this province want from you? They want a health care system that we can all continue to be proud of, and you are taking that away from them.

Hon Mr Wilson: The honourable member couldn't be further away from the facts than he is and has been as health critic for some time. I've a lot of respect for him as a person, but he does have a real hard time with the fact that we've had good news for health care over the past 10 months in this province. That news will continue today. The honourable member is wrong. Our reinvestments have exceeded any cash in hand that we've seen with respect to transfer reductions.

Mr David S. Cooke (Windsor-Riverside): What cash in hand?

Hon Mr Wilson: Well, it's fine for you to keep throwing around the $1.3 billion figure, but you know that is over three years. You know that we're ahead of the game with respect to reinvestments, including the $170 million for nurses, for home care, homemaking services, which will create 4,400 new jobs in the community-based services. We've made that major upfront investment -- the figures today will show that it's an upfront investment -- before we've seen any major restructuring or one penny of restructuring dollars to the province of Ontario as a result of hospital restructuring. So we're making those upfront investments that will be reflected in today's numbers, for example, and we've fully lived up to, in fact exceeded, our commitment to health care in this province.

With respect to the particular service, it is a good question. We are doing the operational reviews, the operating plans right now. There's a number of protected services like psychiatric services, chiropody, for example, that was raised yesterday. In fact, Credit Valley Hospital has been given $2 million extra to provide that service, and we're now asking them why they're threatening to get rid of it.

Again, if the honourable member can be patient for a couple of more hours, I think he'll see some new benefits to the children of this province with respect to services that this government can provide within our health care envelope which, as I said, has not been cut.

Mr Laughren: There are many, many examples. I gave one, and I'll give you a couple of others, because just speaking in generalities isn't good enough and doesn't deliver the services that are being cut.

At Mississauga Hospital today, nurses, X-ray and lab technologists and other hospital workers are demonstrating against the planned cuts to staff as a result of your budget cuts. Mississauga Hospital will be cutting 10% of their registered practical nurses and 20% of their lab technologists. This is at a time when the population growth for the catchment area for that hospital is about 13.8%.

There are other examples as well. At Sunnybrook Health Science Centre, among the layoffs are two full-time psychologists who work with cancer patients, and three neuropsychologists who work with trauma patients.


The ONA reported last week that while once there was a nurse to care for every patient in intensive care units, now there's one nurse for every four patients in intensive care and in some cases it could be as high as 12.

The people in this province are not interested in your little shell games and your rhetoric around preserving health care. They want these critical health care services provided. What we want from you is a commitment that it indeed will be the case and you'll put an end to these cuts to our health care system.

Hon Mr Wilson: It's hard to put an end to something that isn't occurring, and there are no cuts occurring to health care.

The $1.3 billion is quite achievable if honourable members would stay consistent with what their parties and leaders, in your case former leader, have said; that is, that you're in favour of hospital restructuring. If you look at the $1.3 billion over the next three years, one report in Metro Toronto alone says $1 billion over a four-year restructuring period can come out of administration and getting rid of duplication and waste. I thought we all agreed on that. That's what we're doing.

We've set the financial targets, which are quite doable within the context of restructuring. We've gone through Bill 26 and set up an arm's-length Health Services Restructuring Commission with experts on that so the politicians don't mess up restructuring but experts do the restructuring. Everyone in the sector realizes it has to be done and is long overdue, and second, that it's quite doable within the fiscal parameters we've set.

With respect to human resource plans and ensuring that health workers are retrained, the health services training adjustment fund that you set up is still intact. It's serving people now. It will continue to serve people in the future.

Also, we've asked DHCs to redouble their efforts to ensure that human resource plans for nurses and doctors and so on are fully in place and fully explored and fully revealed and discussed with the public before those plans come to the Ministry of Health, because we are worried. However, we've been creating the jobs we can create in the shift that's required, and that's 4,400 new jobs in community-based services, many of those for nurses and homemakers. That's good news for workers who will undergo hospital restructuring in this province.

Mrs Elinor Caplan (Oriole): On a point of order: On page 2768 of yesterday's Hansard, the Minister of Health said, "Chiropody, for example, is not an insured service." He went on to say that doctors and medically necessary services are covered but that chiropody services are actually non-insured services in the province. I ask you to ensure that he correct the record and --

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


Mr Pat Hoy (Essex-Kent): My question is to the Minister of Agricultural, Food and Rural Affairs. Your leader, Mike Harris, has stated that user fees are a tax. Minister, before you introduced Bill 46, you stated to me and the critic for the third party that you had discussed the contents of the bill with the farm organizations in Ontario. Did you tell them there would be no new user fees or service fees as a result of Bill 46?

Hon Noble Villeneuve (Minister of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs, minister responsible for francophone affairs): We discussed what agriculture and the people who work in the agrifood business, who produce the food, see as their ideal for the Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs. I can tell my honourable colleague that user fees in the likes of AgriCorp -- the AgriCorp administration will be what is now known as the Crop Insurance Commission in the short term. If the honourable member is unhappy with farmers looking after their business, he should put that on record, because I believe farmers can best administer what touches them.

Mr Hoy: On May 3, the Ontario Federation of Agriculture had a news release after your announcement here in the House. They were concerned with funding, who would pay for services and what this will do to ensure Ontario farmers will be competitive 10 years from now. In light of the fact that the United States has a farm bill that is very lucrative to certain segments of their agricultural sector, regardless of the price they receive, how can Ontario remain competitive, with new user fees and service fees?

Hon Mr Villeneuve: I'm not sure where my colleague gets the idea of user fees. In AgriCorp, as an example, in the safety nets issue, contribution is by the two levels of government, federal and provincial, as well as from the producer. With crop insurance, likewise, and it will be --

Mr Hoy: On premiums.

Hon Mr Villeneuve: Those are premiums and they will be administered by farmers. Your party brought in an agricorp bill in 1990 and you didn't have the political will to put it through. We have brought it in and we'll make it happen.

The Speaker (Hon Allan K. McLean): New question.

Mr Gilles Bisson (Cochrane South): The minister wonders where user fees come from? He should look in the mirror.


Mr Gilles Bisson (Cochrane South): My question is to the Minister of Transportation. Last Friday, he was up in Thunder Bay, along with five of his cabinet colleagues, as an invited guest of the Northwestern Ontario Municipal Association. At that meeting were people from across northwestern Ontario, municipalities of the northwest. At that particular meeting, the minister listed all the communities he had been to and then said, "To those of you here from Timmins, I will be in your municipality soon."

Minister, there were no representatives from Timmins, because Timmins is in northeastern Ontario. If you wanted to speak to them, you'd have had to go to the northeastern Ontario municipal association. It's no wonder the roads of northern Ontario are in bad shape, with a minister who doesn't know his geography. If you don't know your northern geography, how are we as northerners to have any confidence in your ability to make decisions on behalf of the people of the north?

Hon Al Palladini (Minister of Transportation): It is with great pleasure that I certainly wouldn't need any lessons from you about the geography of Ontario. I was basically being polite, because one of his colleagues from Timmins was there and I was being polite to recognize the colleague.

Mr Bisson: I want to point something out. I am the member for Cochrane South and I reside in the community of Timmins. The member you're referring to is the member for Cochrane North, who resides in the community of Kapuskasing. Kapuskasing and Timmins are not the same community. Minister, you're digging yourself in deeper and deeper. You don't know that Timmins is in the northeast to start with, and then you think that somehow Kapuskasing is a suburb of Timmins. Kapuskasing is a wonderful place, but it's certainly not Timmins. I say to the minister, you need a lesson in geography.

My supplemental to the minister is this: One of your cabinet colleagues, the quite bright Minister of Economic Development and Trade, the so eloquent minister we have here, said to that gathering, and I quote, any time he goes north of Highway 7 he gets a nosebleed.

Do you think that is an acceptable comment to make by a minister of the crown when it comes to visiting people in northern Ontario and discharging your duty? Do you suffer from the same affliction, sir?

Hon William Saunderson (Minister of Economic Development, Trade and Tourism): On a point of order, Mr Speaker: I'd like to tell the member that I did not say that and he should retract it.

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

Hon Mr Palladini: It is no wonder that Ontario finds itself in this particular fiscal state. With members like that, with their attitude on such an important day, one of the most important days in Ontario's history -- the budget -- these members want to talk about geography. I am very disappointed that you don't have more questions with substance. Ask a question with substance so the people of Ontario know you're doing your job. Never mind the geography lessons.



Mr R. Gary Stewart (Peterborough): My question today is to the Minister of Education and Training. Minister, in the past week two school bus accidents have occurred in northern Ontario, although thankfully these incidents did not result in any serious injuries.

This raises a very serious question. Why does Ontario law demand that passengers in cars and trucks wear seatbelts, but school buses are not even equipped with them?

Hon John Snobelen (Minister of Education and Training): I want to thank the member for Peterborough, and I know my colleagues thank him for asking a question today in the House that's important to the people of Ontario, because bus safety is important to the people of Ontario, particularly those people who entrust their children to the care of bus drivers and bus operators every day. So I thank the member for the question.

Of course, we all know that accidents happen from time to time, and as the member has mentioned, there have been a couple of accidents recently. Fortunately, they have not resulted in serious injuries. They're particularly of concern, of course, when young children are involved. But the school bus industry in Ontario has a very proud record. I know that drivers are very proud of that safety record and so are the operators across the province. In fact, I'm told that a young person travelling in a bus is 16 times safer than they would be in a private automobile. So it's an outstanding safety record, which that industry is very, very proud of.

In answer to the member's question, Transport Canada and the Ministry of Transportation are involved ongoingly in studies and crash tests involving different configurations of school buses in order to make sure that the young people are protected. They have tested passive versus active restraint systems and they have found overwhelmingly that the passive systems are the ones that protect the children best. This means that the seats, particularly in the new buses, are designed to ensure that in an accident, in a crash, the children will be protected better than they would be in the old designs with seatbelts. I think that's an important concern and they continue to look at it.

Mr Stewart: Indeed the safety and health of our students is most important. Minister, I understand that provincial law differentiates, depending on the date of construction of the school bus. What is the reason for this difference?

The Speaker (Hon Allan K. McLean): The Minister of Transportation.

Hon Mr Snobelen: Mr Speaker, I think that was directed to the Minister of Education, although I'd be willing and happy to answer a transportation question if it would come here at some point.

Mr James J. Bradley (St Catharines): You can't answer the education ones.

Hon Mr Snobelen: This must be a very special day in the chamber, Mr Speaker.

The honourable member opposite has asked a very good question. In fact, the design of buses continues to be improved, so the standards that are required for school buses change as the designs are improved so that the most number of children can be protected. The bus industry is a partner in this.

Transport Canada and the Ministry of Transportation continue ongoingly to have tests and do surveys to make sure that our buses in Ontario are the safest in North America. The Ontario School Bus Association has recently started a subcommittee of its safety committee to look at the issue of seatbelt safety on school buses and other safety-related issues, and I know my colleague the Minister of Transportation is very pleased to be represented on that subcommittee.


Mr Frank Miclash (Kenora): My question is to the Minister of Health. Minister, I was shocked at your statement regarding dialysis last Friday at the Northwestern Ontario Municipal Association annual meeting in Thunder Bay. As you were announcing that you have provided funding for expanded dialysis services in Kenora, I was sitting in the audience reading the May 2 headline in the Kenora Daily Miner and News which stated, "Dialysis Expansion On Hold, Waiting for Ministry Approval." I'd like to quote from that:

"After a Tuesday night hospital board meeting, associate executive director Randy Belair said board members are concerned because they haven't heard anything since the February announcement."

Minister, how do you justify travelling to Thunder Bay and announcing to NOMA that dialysis services in Kenora have been expanded when local hospital board members are quoted as stating that they are concerned because they haven't heard anything from your ministry since last February? Your statements and the local board's statements are at odds. Would you clarify to the House and, more importantly, to the patients and their families the statement you made at NOMA last Friday?

Hon Jim Wilson (Minister of Health): I certainly didn't make the statement to add confusion or anxiety to the patients or the health care providers in the Kenora district. I made it in good faith, given that I thought we had communicated with them. I will certainly check that right now and get back to the honourable member before the end of question period.

Mr Miclash: We have four patients who are now on a waiting list for dialysis services in Kenora. In your haste to make announcements, you're not taking into account the effect that these announcements are having on patients and their families. In your statement of last Friday, you left the impression that expanded services in Kenora were in place.

Minister, will you give this House and the patients your commitment today that your incorrect statement regarding expanded dialysis services in Kenora will stop and that you will ensure that your staff contact the hospital this afternoon to clean up this mess you have created?

Hon Mr Wilson: It's hardly a mess when you're putting 25 million new dollars in dialysis services across this province.

If there's a communication breakdown here, then I apologize to the member. I'm fully aware that there are people waiting. We haven't been in haste. In fact, if there was a criticism, it's taken us longer to put in the quality standards in that than I would have liked. Indeed, clinics are opening across the province and we're making the announcements just as fast as we can. I will get back to him on the specifics of his area just as soon as I receive those specifics.


Ms Marilyn Churley (Riverdale): I have a question for the Minister of Environment and Energy. Minister, what role did you play in the setting of the terms of reference for the Red-Tape Review Commission?

Hon Brenda Elliott (Minister of Environment and Energy): I'm trying to recall -- that's some work that's been done a while back. I'm not sure that I was involved in setting the guidelines for the red tape committee. Certainly we have met with the Red-Tape Review Commission from time to time and outlined what we were doing within our own ministry in this regard.

Ms Churley: Well, it's clear that the minister was not involved at all in the setting of the terms of reference. Your terms of reference for the regulatory review process are inconsistent with those of other provinces, like Newfoundland's and Alberta's, which your government, by the way, likes to use as shining examples you're following. Both of those include in their regulatory review process mentions of the environment and sustainable development. There is absolutely nothing in your government's terms of reference on protection of the environment and sustainable development.

I have a letter from the Canadian Institute for Environmental Law and Policy, which was sent to Mr Harris and copied to you, asking you specifically therefore to amend the terms of reference of the Red-Tape Review Commission to make explicit reference to ensuring the protection of the environment and the environmentally sustainable management of Ontario's natural resources.

Minister, will you commit to doing that today?

Hon Mrs Elliott: Before the red tape committee actually began its work, we had already determined that it was important to undertake a regulatory review within our own ministry. We think it's very important that any regulation we have within our ministry is timely and is effective, and that is exactly what we're doing. We're examining within our own ministry every one of our 80 regulations. We believe it's the right thing to do to provide the proper, efficient service and, most of all, the best environmental protection for this province, and we will work with the red tape committee in that regard.


Mr Ernie Hardeman (Oxford): I have a question for the Minister of Economic Development, Trade and Tourism. Mr Minister, the deal supposedly resolving the softwood lumber dispute with the United States was made on April 2, 1996. In the deal, the federal government gave in to the American demands for export controls. Has this course of action been successful in buying trade peace with the US on the issue of soft lumber exports?

Hon William Saunderson (Minister of Economic Development, Trade and Tourism): The issue, quite frankly, has not been well handled by the federal government. As the House probably knows, the federal government action was designed to buy trade peace with both parties. It did not, however, and I'm sorry to report that the Americans are back at the table trying to open discussions.

The federal government has not invited the provinces to participate in the process, and the export controls will be on Canadian lumber sales to the United States. In addition, I'd just like to say that the decision on the establishment of the company-by-company quotas will be made by the federal government and not by the provinces.


Mr Hardeman: I'm aware that in the Timmins newspaper recently it said that the province of Ontario was going to be nowhere to be seen when negotiations continued, implying that the provincial government was abandoning the industry. What is the province doing to protect the interests of Ontario's softwood producers?

Hon Mr Saunderson: The federal government has not even invited the provinces to participate in this, so there's nothing for us to be absent from. However, we have opposed the imposition of export controls all along in these negotiations. We did enjoy the support of the majority of the industry of Ontario, supported by the Ontario Lumber Manufacturers' Association, and that represents about 70% of the province's softwood lumber producers.

I had the chance to meet with Buchanan Forest Products last Friday on that trip up north you have referred to, and I assure the members we have the support of that company and many more companies. We will continue to oppose market-distorting export controls in all forms.

We are disappointed with the federal government's handling of this matter and we are attempting to make Ontario softwood lumber companies' concerns known to the federal government. We are doing that right now.


Mr Alvin Curling (Scarborough North): My question is to the Minister of Housing, who feels the government should not be in housing. Your government has shown what it is about in the last year. They are cutting services and giving a tax cut to the wealthiest in this province. The Minister of Housing himself is creating homelessness in this province. There are seniors and people with disabilities with special housing needs who are now facing an uncertain future and possible eviction due to the Minister of Housing's comments that he's getting out of the housing business and wants to sell off Ontario Housing Corp units. Is it the intention to sell off the stock owned by Ontario Housing? Will the minister disclose his intention to the House today?

Hon Al Leach (Minister of Municipal Affairs and Housing): It is outlined in the Common Sense Revolution that we would prefer to get out of the housing business and provide subsidies to those who need them rather than subsidize bricks and mortar. The people who are causing the fear and concern among the seniors and elderly in our society, people who should have some reassurance, are the members across who continually go out and tell people we're selling it off tomorrow. We know we can't do that. You know we're involved with the federal government, with the municipal government, and anything we do with OHC has to be worked out with all of those. I might also add that the Liberal Party in Ottawa also wants to get out of the non-profit housing business.

Mr Curling: It is not this party that has cancelled rent control. It is not this party that has cancelled all the affordable non-profit housing to be constructed. You are the ones creating all the fear within the people -- not us, you.

On behalf of those who are living now in those homes that you are trying to sell off and get rid of to the private sector, will the units the Minister of Housing intends to sell off remain rent-subsidized or will those rents be part of the free market system you talk about? It is especially important to know this because we're talking quite freely about rent control being on the table to cut out. Tenants in Ontario Housing Corp units are justifiably worried about the future. Will the units you intend to sell remain rent-subsidized at the current level you speak about?

Hon Mr Leach: As I think every member of this House knows, the issue we're dealing with is extremely complex. We're working with people in the housing business -- landlords and tenants -- to ensure that whatever we do is in their best interests, but we don't intend to take any action until we're fully convinced that most vulnerable citizens will not be hurt.


Mr Rosario Marchese (Fort York): My question is to the Minister of Citizenship, Culture and Recreation. You funded a study, and it clearly was on the issue of discrimination as it relates to the Chinese community. The study has found that "Four out of 10 Chinese Canadians in Metro have encountered at least one incident of discrimination in the mainstream workforce." It found as well that "The poorer their English, the more likely they are to experience discrimination." Further, the study finds "unfair work assignments or assessments because of ethnocultural background; racist remarks; being treated differently by bosses; being bypassed for promotions." Further, the study finds "unfair performance appraisals...isolation from workers and bosses and lack of recognition and reward for a job well done."

For me, it's quite clear what the study has found, and it's clear that discrimination continues to happen in the workplace to people of colour. Can you tell us what you've learned from this study?

Hon Marilyn Mushinski (Minister of Citizenship, Culture and Recreation): Indeed, that particular study was funded by my ministry and initiated by the previous administration.

What I can say, first of all, is that discrimination is against the law in this province. We believe that with a new equal opportunity plan and with reform of the Ontario Human Rights Commission and the Human Rights Code, we will be able to deal much more effectively with discrimination in the workplace.

Mr Marchese: I'm afraid, and I'm sorry to tell you, that you have very little credibility on this issue -- you or your government.

Let me tell you the list of the things you've done, because you've taken away all of the tools that would have helped to deal with discrimination: You have taken away the Ontario Anti-Racism Secretariat; you have eliminated five welcome houses; you have eliminated employment equity; you took 750,000 complete dollars that dealt with English as a second language; you have also taken $600,000 from the Human Rights Commission.

I am not quite clear what in heaven's name you are doing. Frankly, I would like to ask you, because I think the Chinese community would like to know, what exactly does this reform of the Human Rights Commission entail, and secondly, could you explain to the public what this equal opportunity plan means?

Hon Ms Mushinski: First of all, let me set the record straight about the funding issue of the Ontario Human Rights Commission. In 1991-92, the province of Ontario, under the member's government, spent $14.1 million, and this budget included a special caseload reduction initiative. The caseload stood at 2,840. Today, in 1995-96, the budget is $11.3 million, and after that reduction, the budget will be $10.6 million. The caseload, as of February 1996, was 2,784. So clearly, to throw more money into the Ontario Human Rights Commission obviously isn't going to reduce the caseload.


Mr Gary Fox (Prince Edward-Lennox-South Hastings): My question is to the Honourable Noble Villeneuve. Despite his best efforts, the Minister of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs hasn't been able to resolve the problem of a late spring for farmers. However, we remain optimistic that farmers will soon be working on their fields.

Unfortunately, field work can be hazardous, particularly when farmers are off to a late start. Farmers are under great pressure to get on the land quickly. I wonder if the minister could tell me what is being done to improve the safety of Ontario farmers and their employees.

Hon Noble Villeneuve (Minister of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs, minister responsible for francophone affairs): I'm not sure I can take credit or blame for the weather. I did discuss it with the Minister of Environment and Energy. The fact that there are no interprovincial barriers, we leave it to a higher authority to decide.

On farm safety, a very important subject at this time of year when farmers are working very long hours in the fields -- Mr Speaker, I need not tell you; you've experienced that -- we have the Ontario Farm Safety Association, a recognized leader and a lead agency, which is being funded by the Workers' Compensation Board, along with funds from the Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs.


The Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs is indeed providing $100,000 to the Ontario Farm Safety Association, which has initiated a number of new initiatives, including a safety program aimed at new and inexperienced farm workers -- and we have some of those this year because of buoyant grain prices -- the child safety program, which has attracted several private investors; slow-moving vehicle awareness signs etc. The Ontario Farm Safety Association is indeed fulfilling a real need for safety on our farms in Ontario.

Mr Fox: Could the minister tell me how effective these safety programs are? Are we seeing any benefit for our dollars spent?

Hon Mr Villeneuve: The Ontario Farm Safety Association has just released the most recent statistics for 1995, and we've shown a 21% decrease in accidents across Ontario. The Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs has been a major sponsor of farm safety associations, child safety campaigns, and has built safety awareness in and within farm families. It has been a successful campaign and I'm happy to say that there has been a continual drop in farm fatalities and farm accidents. I can assure my colleagues in this Legislature that the Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs will maintain its strong support for farm safety across Ontario.


Mr Michael Gravelle (Port Arthur): My question is to the Attorney General. Mr Minister, in this House on January 29 you indicated that your government had not made any decision regarding the future of the family support plan, though reports at the time suggested you were contemplating closure of regional offices across the province including offices in Thunder Bay, Sudbury, Windsor, Ottawa, Whitby and Hamilton, and the centralization of services here in Toronto. Since then I, along with members of my caucus, have sent letters and petitions your way asking you to rethink plans to close those offices.

While this minister might believe that greater compliancy could be achieved through centralization, I would argue that in the case of northwestern Ontario, how does the minister reasonably think that greater compliance is possible from 1,500 miles away, especially when in the case of the Thunder Bay regional office high compliance rates already exist and the plan recovers hundreds of thousands of dollars in social services money? We've urged the minister to work with the front-line people at the family support plan to devise new mechanisms or tools that would help you do this.

Has the minister attended any formal process of consultation with family support plan workers and has the minister made any decision regarding the future of this plan?

Hon Charles Harnick (Attorney General, minister responsible for native affairs): We are reviewing the family support plan in an effort to develop a system that will provide better service to those who need to use the plan and, in addition, we are looking at ways to ensure better enforcement of court orders to ensure that primarily children are being properly dealt with by the family support plan and that the moneys that are owing are indeed collected. That is what we are dedicated to doing and we are looking at all of the options in order to make that successful.

Mr Gravelle: It's insulting to have the minister continue to waffle on this decision. This is a program that works. People's lives are hanging in the balance; not just the staff members who maybe will be losing their jobs but the custodial and non-custodial parents who support this plan.

Minister, we've been informed that despite no compelling proof that guarantees a centralized operation will produce higher rates of compliance, you've instructed your staff to scout out potential new office space for that centralized operation in Etobicoke and Mississauga. Will you confirm that you're looking for new office space in the Metro Toronto area, or will you do the right thing and abandon this centralization plan and work with those who can help you improve the existing system?

Hon Mr Harnick: I say to the member that I am not aware about whether the family support plan is looking for any office space. What I can tell the member is this, and I want to be very clear to the member: We now have in the province of Ontario $900 million outstanding in family support payments. I am saying to the member that if that is a measure of success of the family support plan, then we had better do better.

I am committed to finding better ways to collect that money so that it can be used for children primarily who are doing without, and the family support plan and the status quo that now supports it is not good enough. There is $900 million outstanding, primarily to go to children, and if we keep the plan the way it is now, that amount of money will continue to escalate. I am committed, as are those who work in the family support plan, to ensuring better enforceability of court orders and also to ensuring better customer service for those who use the plan.


Ms Shelley Martel (Sudbury East): I have a question to the Minister of Natural Resources. Minister, on April 12, the day after the draft business plans for ministries were released by the Chair of Management Board, your ministry sent to me a document entitled Questions and Answers Pertaining to the Restructuring Announcement. On page 6, under the question, "What responsibilities is MNR transferring to clients and partners?" it says: "The MNR plans to transfer a number of responsibilities, along with the cost, to clients and partners. These will be activities that are appropriate for the private sector or others to assume. They include forest management planning, forest operations, including harvesting, renewal, and also self-compliance."

Minister, can you tell me what that means?

Hon Chris Hodgson (Minister of Natural Resources, Northern Development and Mines): It is outlined in our forest management business plan. The transition's been taking place for a number of years, and this is the culmination of that. It's done under the auspices of Bill 171, the Crown Forest Sustainability Act, where it's recognized that the industry would pick up more of the cost of harvesting wood on crown lands. That's part of that plan.

Ms Martel: My understanding of self-compliance would be that you are now turning over to the private sector all of the responsibility for monitoring, all of the responsibility for compliance around regeneration, reforestation and also cutting.

We know, for example, in a report that was done by a consultant for your ministry, that this doesn't work. We've got a particular example of the Lac Seul forest, which is managed by McKenzie Forest Products. Your own consultant said: "The large discrepancy between harvest and regeneration activities reflects poor planning and poor implementation of regeneration strategies. The committee interprets this as a pursuit of short-term profits at the expense of long-term sustainability."

Minister, in the light of this evidence, which is very compelling, why would you ever hand over self-compliance issues to the private sector and put forest sustainability at risk in this province?

Hon Mr Hodgson: I think everyone would agree with what my colleague from the third party brings up, and the study that you refer to was done under the old system. We're going to bring in a system that has reverse onus, independent audits. There will be monitoring of compliance, and we want to make sure that doesn't happen again in the future, the Lac Seul type of reports that come out.

I might also state that under the bill, the state of the crown forests has to be reported to the Legislature each year, and I think you'd join me in trying to make this system a better one to work on to make sure our forests are there for future generations.

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

Ms Marilyn Churley (Riverdale): On a point of order, Mr Speaker: I would like to ask for unanimous consent for the member for Etobicoke West to ask his question. I think it's an important one.

The Speaker: Do we have unanimous consent?


Mr Gilles Bisson (Cochrane South): The Tories said no.

The Speaker: Order. Motions? Point of order?


Mr Gilles Bisson (Cochrane South): Mr Speaker, I'd like to file dissatisfaction to the response I had from the Minister of Transportation, and I will be asking for a late show.


The Speaker (Hon Allan K. McLean): Order. I didn't hear what the member had said. Would the member for Cochrane South repeat what he said, please.

Mr Bisson: I would like to file notice that I'm not satisfied with the answer from the Minister of Transportation and I'm filing a late show.

The Speaker: Member for Oriole.

Mrs Elinor Caplan (Oriole): Under section 34(a), Mr Speaker, which is a request for what has just been referred to as a late show -- it's when a member is not satisfied with the response to an oral question -- I seek some assistance from you, Mr Speaker, because I would like to register my displeasure and concern about a response from the Minister of Health. It was yesterday, and I refer to the Hansard on page 2768, where the minister said that chiropody was not an insured service.

The Speaker: That's fine.

Mrs Caplan: The problem, Mr Speaker, is that I asked that question yesterday, and the minister gave erroneous and different information today in response to a question. I asked a question of the minister today on a different subject and I'd like to know if I can file --

The Speaker: Order. Yes, the member can apply today for Thursday; the member cannot file a request for a question that was asked yesterday, but she could file a request under 34(a) for the answer that was given today, if that's what the member would wish to do.

Mrs Caplan: I would seek your guidance, Mr Speaker. If I file today, does it have to be on the substance of the question that I asked today? Is there any recourse under the standing orders for the minister to correct the record today based on statements he made yesterday, which were obviously incorrect, which I pointed out to him?

The Speaker: There's nothing under the standing orders that allows you to do that.

Mrs Caplan: How can you get a minister to correct the record?

The Speaker: The answer, I guess, is that you can't, but you could ask the same question tomorrow.




Mr Alvin Curling (Scarborough North): I have a petition to the Ontario Legislature.

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

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

I affix my signature to the rest who have signed this petition.


Mr Derwyn Shea (High Park-Swansea): I am very pleased once again to present a petition to the Legislative Assembly dealing with the tax cut.

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

I am very pleased to affix my name thereto.

Mr James J. Bradley (St Catharines): I have a petition to members of the Legislative Assembly of Ontario.

"Whereas the proposed income tax cut referred to in the Conservative campaign document known as the Common Sense Revolution will necessitate drastic and rapid cuts to important services to the people of Ontario; and

"Whereas the proposed tax cut will shift the tax obligation for the people of Ontario from the progressive income tax, which takes into account a person's ability to pay, to the regressive property taxes and user fees, which do not take into account an individual's ability to pay and are most onerous for people with modest incomes; and

"Whereas the proposed income tax will benefit the most wealthy and privileged in our society and deny the provincial government revenue to maintain a high-quality health care and education system and other essential services; and

"Whereas the government of Ontario will have to borrow over $20 billion to finance the proposed tax cut and will add over $20 billion to the provincial debt in doing so;

"We, the undersigned, petition the government of Ontario to postpone its 30% income tax cut until such time as the provincial budget is balanced and the deficit no longer exists."


Mr Gilles Bisson (Cochrane South): I have here a petition, this time from the good people of Moss Park, in regard 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;

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

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

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

"Therefore we, the undersigned, call upon the Legislative Assembly of Ontario to stop the attack on the 3.5 million tenants of this province and not to scrap rent control."


Mrs Margaret Marland (Mississauga South): I rise to table a petition which reads as follows:

"To the Legislative Assembly 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;

"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 Peter Kormos (Welland-Thorold): I have a petition to the Legislative Assembly of Ontario regarding the Cerminara Boys' Home.

"Whereas OPSEU Local 214, which is the OPSEU local of Cerminara Boys Home Inc, an open-custody facility for young offenders, has been on strike since March 28, 1996, and the employer was using untrained replacement workers, thereby jeopardizing the health and safety of the adolescents; and

"Whereas a ministry review found serious financial discrepancies with taxpayers' dollars for the year 1994 alone;

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

"That the Minister of Community and Social Services remove these young residents from the facility until the labour dispute is settled, the recommendations from the review are implemented and an extensive financial review is undertaken for years prior to 1994."

That's signed by Judie Davies of Niagara Falls, Wendy Holman of Niagara Falls and a whole lot of other people. I've signed it as well.


Mr James J. Bradley (St Catharines): I have a petition from a number of people in the province that reads as follows:

"Whereas the people of Ontario are being subjected to the most drastic reductions in services in the history of the province; and

"Whereas the Premier has required that the people of this province pay higher user fees and property taxes; and

"Whereas the Premier and his ministers have preached restraint to all who have requested funding from the provincial government;

"We, the undersigned, request that the government of Ontario not embark upon an advertising campaign using taxpayers' dollars and designed to sell the Ontario budget to the people of this province."

I affix my signature to this petition as I am in full agreement with it.


Mrs Elinor Caplan (Oriole): I have a petition that reads as follows:

"Whereas the Conservative government's stated plan in the Common Sense Revolution is to improve the long-term economic prospects for Ontario; and

"Whereas research from all over the world shows early childhood education leads to lower dropout rates; improved reading, math and language skills; less chance of future unemployment, teen pregnancy or delinquency; and higher enrolment in post-secondary education, thus resulting in a better, highly educated workforce; and

"Whereas this Conservative government states it is committed to ensuring a larger share of the education dollar goes to the classroom; and

"Whereas this Conservative government fully expects boards to meet transfer reductions by cutting costs outside the classroom; and

"Whereas this Conservative government has made junior kindergarten a matter of choice for local school boards and has reduced the funding for junior kindergarten;

"Therefore, to ensure this Conservative government meets its stated commitments in regard to education and to Ontario,

"We, the undersigned, call on the Minister of Finance and the Minister of Education and Training to restore the funding of junior kindergarten to its previous level and require all school boards to offer junior kindergarten classes."

I add my signature to this petition.



Mr James J. Bradley (St Catharines): "Whereas the government of Ontario appears to be moving towards the privatization of retail liquor and spirit sales in the province; and

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

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

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

"Whereas the LCBO provides a wide selection of 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; and

"Whereas the LCBO is an important instrument for the promotion and sale of Ontario wine and thereby contributes immensely to the grape-growing and wine production industry;

"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'm in agreement and I give it to Brad Hammond from St Catharines-Brock.


Mr Dominic Agostino (Hamilton East): "To the Legislative Assembly of Ontario:

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

"Whereas during the 1995 election campaign, the Conservatives clearly promised to defend the health care system by protecting ministry funding, stating in a campaign backgrounder, `There will be no cut 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 Health Task Force related to any hospital closures in Hamilton-Wentworth, and in particular St Joseph's Hospital, 50 Charlton Avenue East, Hamilton, Ontario."

I sign my name to this petition.


Mrs Elinor Caplan (Oriole): I have a petition that reads as follows:

"Whereas the people of Ontario are being subjected to the most drastic reductions in services in the history of the province; and

"Whereas the Premier has required that the people of the province pay higher user fees and property taxes; and

"Whereas the Premier and his ministers have preached restraint to all who have requested funding from the provincial government;

"We, the undersigned, request that the government of Ontario not embark upon an advertising campaign using taxpayers' dollars and designed to sell the Ontario budget to the people of the province."

I affix my signature to this important petition.


Mr James J. Bradley (St Catharines): I have a petition from a large number of people who are concerned about junior kindergarten. It reads as follows:

"Whereas this Conservative government's stated plan in the Common Sense Revolution is to improve the long-term economic prospects for Ontario; and

"Whereas research from all over the world shows early childhood education leads to lower dropout rates, improved reading, math and language skills, less chance of future unemployment, teen pregnancy or delinquency and higher enrolment in post-secondary education, thus resulting in a better educated, highly skilled workforce; and

"Whereas this Conservative government states it is committed to ensuring a larger share of the education dollar goes to the classroom; and

"Whereas this Conservative government fully expects boards to meet transfer reductions by cutting costs outside the classroom; and

"Whereas the Conservative government has made junior kindergarten a matter of choice for local school boards and has reduced the funding for junior kindergarten;

"Therefore, to ensure this Conservative government meets its stated economic commitments in regard to education and to Ontario,

"We, the undersigned, call on the Minister of Finance and the Minister of Education and Training to restore the funding of junior kindergarten to its previous level and require all school boards to offer junior kindergarten classes."


Mrs Elinor Caplan (Oriole): I have a petition to the members of the Legislative Assembly of Ontario:

"Whereas the proposed income tax cut referred to in the Conservative campaign document known as the Common Sense Revolution will necessitate drastic and rapid cuts to important services to the people of Ontario; and

"Whereas the proposed tax cut will shift the tax obligation for the people of Ontario from progressive income tax, which takes into account a person's ability to pay, to regressive property taxes and user fees, which do not take into account an individual's ability to pay, and are most onerous for people with modest incomes; and

"Whereas the proposed income tax cut will benefit the most wealthy and privileged in our society and deny the provincial government revenue to maintain high-quality health care and education systems and other essential services; and

"Whereas the government of Ontario will have to borrow over $20 billion to finance the proposed tax cut and will add over $20 billion to the provincial debt in doing so;

"We, the undersigned, petition the government of Ontario to postpone its 30% income tax cut until such time as the provincial budget is balanced and the deficit no longer exists."

I add my signature to this worthwhile petition.


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

"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.

The Speaker (Hon Allan K. McLean): The time for petitions has expired.

Hon David Johnson (Chair of the Management Board of Cabinet): I would ask for unanimous consent to suspend the proceedings until 4 pm today.

The Speaker: Do we have unanimous consent? Agreed.

I will cause the bells to ring at five minutes to 4 in order to call in the members.

The House recessed from 1508 to 1600.



Hon Ernie L. Eves (Deputy Premier, Minister of Finance and Government House Leader): Government notice of motion number 6.

Clerk Assistant and Clerk of Committees (Ms Deborah Deller): Government notice of motion number 6, Mr Eves.

Hon Mr Eves: Mr Speaker, I move, seconded by Mr Harris, that this House approves in general the budgetary policy of the government.

The Speaker (Hon Allan K. McLean): I'd like to ask the indulgence of the House as the pages deliver the budget. Is there any member that has not received a copy?

Hon Mr Eves: I am honoured to present our government's first budget.

It is a budget for the people of Ontario. It is a budget that reflects what we have heard from the people of Ontario.

It is about hope and opportunity.

The people of Ontario want to know that tomorrow will be better than today -- for themselves, and for their children. The people of Ontario want jobs. They want action to get more people working, stimulate investment, provide them with greater opportunity and reward them for their initiative.

This budget is yet another step in carrying out the commitments of the Common Sense Revolution. It is based on discussions with people from all parts of Ontario and all walks of life.

The budget I am presenting today:

-- Leaves more money in the hands of hardworking Ontarians who have endured 65 tax increases in the past decade;

-- Invests in programs that are a priority for Ontarians such as health care, classroom education and community safety;

-- Reduces the size and cost of government;

-- Spends taxpayers' dollars more wisely; and

-- Builds a better future for ourselves and future generations.

Cutting taxes is a key part of our plan to achieve these goals.

The tax cuts I am announcing today will prove a simple truth: The best job creation program is a tax cut for every single Ontario taxpayer.


The Speaker: If I could have the indulgence of the House, the people in the audience must refrain from applauding.

Hon Mr Eves: These tax cuts will create jobs in four ways.

First: They will put extra money in Ontarians' pockets. Men and women across the province will be able to make purchases they have been putting off for themselves and their families. That creates jobs.

Second: Families who have been struggling to get by and going into debt will be able to pay off their debts sooner. That increases their net worth, increases their future purchasing power and increases the pool of savings available for new investment. That creates jobs.

Third: Lower taxes will provide more incentive for entrepreneurs to form small businesses and for existing business owners to reinvest -- and that creates jobs.

Fourth: People with specialized skills will have an extra incentive to choose Ontario as a place to live and work, helping to build industries that can compete worldwide, and that too creates jobs.

Today's budget sets a direction for the government of Ontario. It carries out the changes the people of Ontario asked us to make to deal with the problems we all face.

We live in a province whose potential is unlimited. We have skilled and hardworking people, abundant resources, innovative entrepreneurs. We have every reason to expect a future that is better than today -- with better jobs, greater prosperity, a better life for ourselves and real hope and opportunity for our children.

But we can't get there with the size of government that's been built up over the years. Government is bigger and more costly than it needs to be.

The cost of big government burdens the people of this province with high taxes and high deficits that hold down their standard of living. These high taxes are stifling the new and growing businesses that will be the source of tomorrow's jobs.

As a province we face a choice. We can continue on the track that governments have pursued for over a decade -- with uncontrolled spending, spiralling taxes and ever-mounting deficits. Or we can take a new direction -- a direction that unleashes the job-creating potential of our economy by lifting the heavy yoke of inefficient government and high taxes.

Last June the people of Ontario, who did have other choices, indicated clearly that they want us to take this new direction. They want their government to do what is needed to ensure a better future for themselves and their children.

They want to see the burden of public debt on the economy reduced. That means eliminating the deficit and laying the groundwork to reduce the debt. It also means cutting taxes and taking actions that will strengthen economic growth.

They want their government to balance the budget and to spend their tax dollars wisely.

They want a more efficient government that focuses on services that matter to them most: a health care system whose quality is unsurpassed, classrooms where our children receive an excellent education, and law enforcement that keeps our communities safe.

They want an environment where businesses can create jobs and opportunities here at home while competing for markets around the world.

And they want their government to create jobs by cutting taxes -- leaving more dollars in taxpayers' pockets, encouraging investment and initiative, and creating opportunities for Ontarians.

This budget will help secure the kind of future Ontarians want. In preparing it, I have had the help and advice of hundreds of Ontarians who wrote me, who met me at pre-budget consultations, who appeared before the standing committee on finance and economic affairs or who provided their counsel through their local MPP. I have considered their advice carefully and I thank them for their contributions.

I also want to thank Ada Lee from Jesse Ketchum public school in Toronto, who provided the artwork for the back cover of the budget. I am pleased to welcome Ada in the Legislature today. Ada is seated in the Speaker's gallery. Thank you, Ada.


In addition, I want to express my appreciation to the outstanding staff of the Ministry of Finance, led by Deputy Minister Michael Gourley, to my personal staff, and to my wife Vicki and daughter Natalie for their support and understanding.

I would be remiss at this point if I didn't mention my mother. You know, we all have families that keep us somewhat humble and remind us every now and then that there are other people who do things in this world, which we kind of tend to forget from time to time in this chamber. A few months ago, I was going to meet my mother at 1:30 in the afternoon in Burlington to take her to her local bank to meet with a local senior loans adviser. I phoned her from my office at Queen's Park and said: "You know, I don't know if I can get out of here before 1 o'clock, Mom, so I don't think I'm going to be able to make the 1:30 meeting. Perhaps you could change the time." She said: "Ernie, I can't change the time. This woman we're meeting is important, you know." That's common sense.

Never in our province's history has the need for action been so clear and so urgent. That's why our government has moved so quickly to fulfil so many of our commitments.

My colleagues and I took office following governments that had been taxing and spending Ontario in the wrong direction. And the people of Ontario felt those costs all too dearly.

When a province of skilled and hardworking men and women goes for six years with no new net jobs, that's the wrong direction.

When people who pay their bills each month see their government spending a million dollars an hour more than it takes in, that's the wrong direction.

When people who work hard to save for the future see that future imperiled with their government's debt tripling in 10 years, that's the wrong direction.

And when people who have made sacrifices in their own lives to adapt to difficult times see their government reach deeper and deeper into their pockets, with 65 tax increases in the past 10 years, that too is the wrong direction.

After years of seeing their leaders go in the wrong direction, the people of Ontario asked us to chart a new course, and we are doing just that.

Our government is delivering on its commitments and it is building a better tomorrow for Ontarians.

Since taking office, our government has moved quickly to set a new direction with respect to the province's finances.

We have made a commitment to balance the budget in the fiscal year 2000-01. We are on track to do that.

In June, we faced a deficit of $11.2 billion for 1995-96. I said last summer that by acting quickly to start bringing our expenditures under control, we could reduce that figure. I am pleased to tell Ontarians today that we met our deficit target of $9.3 billion, and in fact improved upon it. Our deficit for the fiscal year just ended is $9.1 billion.

We set our targets and we met them. In my opinion, that's what Ontarians should be hearing on budget day. Meeting our targets should be the norm rather than the exception.

This year, we expect to meet our deficit target again. Our deficit will fall to $8.2 billion. That's a drop of $3 billion, or 27%, since we took office.

Our government's deficit figures are based on cautious and prudent economic projections. They include a contingency reserve in case the economy performs below those projections.

Restructuring government and changing the way services are delivered will require upfront investment. This budget provides a restructuring fund of $900 million. This fund will allow for investments that support restructuring efforts and will cover the one-time costs associated with them.

Our fiscal plan is based on realistic and credible financial reporting practices that were recommended to the government by the Ontario Financial Review Commission. We have put an end to the former government's practice of keeping "two sets of books." Their approach was to paper over the problem -- our approach is to fix it.

In keeping with our practice of open financial reporting, I am releasing with today's budget more than 150 pages of financial and economic information, so that all Ontarians can see the province's financial situation and outlook. This includes a report on Ontario's financing, the first time this report has been presented with the budget.

Recently I met with students from Mattawa public school in my riding. Two students from that school, Chelsea and Samantha Smith, who are six and five years old, gave me $21.97 from their savings. They asked me to use their money to pay the province's bills and help reduce the deficit.

I am creating a special fund to accommodate their wishes.

It's not fair to saddle our children with the high cost of paying interest on all the debt that has been built up in the past. They deserve a better future than that. Eliminating the deficit today means more opportunities for young people like Chelsea and Samantha tomorrow.

Chelsea and Samantha, along with their parents, Tim and Barbara Smith, are in the Speaker's gallery today. I would ask all members to join with me in both thanking and welcoming them here today.

Officially this fund will be known as the Ontario opportunities fund. But for me it will always be the Chelsea and Samantha fund. To their first contributions we will be adding more:

We will add donations from any Ontarian who wishes to contribute. I believe, from what people have told me, that Chelsea and Samantha are not alone in their desire to help pay down the province's deficit. To give them an easy way to do so, we are working with the federal government to make it possible for Ontarians who wish to do so to donate their income tax refund each year, simply by checking a box on their tax return. I am grateful to Mr Ted Arnott, the member for Wellington, for proposing this idea.

To this fund, we will also add the proceeds from any major asset or enterprise sale that the province enters into.

We will add each year any funds that remain once we have met our deficit target. We won't rush out, as other governments have done at year-end, and spend the money -- we will put it in this fund.

At the end of each year we will use the balance in the Ontario opportunities fund to reduce the deficit and the debt of the province.

The Ontario opportunities fund will allow us to cut the deficit, reduce our foreign borrowing, and reduce the growth in interest costs. Once the budget is balanced, it will allow us to begin paying off the debt. That day is less than five years away.

To give as many people as possible an additional opportunity to invest in their province and build a better Ontario, the government will be offering Ontario savings bonds from June 1 to June 17. This year, there will be two options to suit investors' needs: a step-up bond where the rates improve every year, and a variable rate bond where new, competitive rates are set every six months. Both bonds will be eligible for registered retirement savings plans and are fully backed by the province.


Buying Ontario savings bonds means that we can reduce our reliance on international lenders, at the same time ensuring that more of the government's interest payments will go to Ontarians.

The people of Ontario expect their government to live within its means. To eliminate the deficit, we are finding savings in every area of government activity. The government is making the same difficult decisions and adjustments that we have all had to make at home and at work in our everyday lives.

These actions make it possible to invest in the priorities that Ontarians expect their government to deliver: a universal and comprehensive health care system, an excellent education for our children, and law enforcement to keep our communities safe.

We have not yet finished the job. But look at what we have already accomplished:

We have passed legislation to reform MPPs' compensation, get rid of hidden tax-free allowances, abolish the gold-plated pension plan. The legislation cuts MPPs' pay by a further 5%. No consideration will be given to changing that level of compensation until the budget is balanced.

We are reforming our welfare system. The most recent data show that the number of people depending on social assistance has fallen for nine consecutive months and was 129,700 persons lower in March than last June, a drop of 9.6%. We have brought our welfare rates back into line with other provinces, and we have taken a hard line against fraud and abuse. Later this year, the Minister of Community and Social Services, the Honourable David Tsubouchi, will announce a work-for-welfare program designed to help people move off welfare and back into the workforce.

We have protected income support for seniors and persons with disabilities. Our government will announce plans to move seniors and people with disabilities off welfare and on to an Ontario guaranteed support plan that meets their needs, respects their dignity, and continues to protect their benefits.

Under the direction of the Chair of Management Board, the Honourable David Johnson, we have stopped spending taxpayers' dollars on programs that did not make sense. We cancelled spending for conversion of private sector child care spaces into non-profit spaces, a program that cost Ontario taxpayers $52 million without creating one solitary new space for Ontario's children. We cancelled the Jobs Ontario Community Action program, which had been criticized extensively by the Provincial Auditor. We terminated the Interim Waste Authority, which spent millions of dollars of our money -- taxpayers' money -- without establishing one single site for municipal waste disposal.

We are tackling the cost of government administration. We have already identified $200 million in savings. That puts us about two thirds of our way to our target of cutting administration costs by 33% by the end of 1997-98.

We have found savings of $500 million in the way government delivers and operates its programs. That puts us about halfway towards our target of reducing spending by 33% by the end of 1997-98.

We have found savings of over $80 million by requiring agencies, boards and commissions to operate more efficiently. These actions put us over a third of the way towards our target of reducing spending by 28% by the end of 1997-98. The government Task Force on Agencies, Boards and Commissions, chaired by Mr Bob Wood, the member for London South, is working hard to find additional savings in this area.

We have already identified $700 million in savings in government grants, putting us halfway towards our target of reducing spending by 28% by the end of the year 1997-98.

We are managing the government's financial assets better. Starting this year the province's borrowing authority, the Ontario Financing Authority, will take responsibility for borrowing, investing, cash management and other financial activities of a number of ministries and crown agencies that until now have carried out their own financial management. This will mean less duplication, greater efficiency, and lower overall borrowing costs that ultimately will save taxpayers money.

As Premier Harris has said, we are committed to finding the best way to deliver government services. Taxpayers' dollars now fund many different activities that could be better run by the private sector or by private-public partnerships. We will be seeking ways to refocus the role of government, ensure our resources are put to their best use, and let the private sector play a larger role in the economy.

Our own employees will have a major stake in these changes. This was recognized in the recently signed agreements with OPSEU and AMAPCEO. Employees will be given an equal opportunity to bid on operations being divested by the province.

Privatization is one option for improving the way services are delivered. A special cabinet committee on privatization, which the Premier has asked me to chair, will be established to oversee the privatization process. It will be supported by private and public sector advisers to ensure the best value for taxpayers is obtained. The committee will ensure the selection of privatization candidates is based on strict criteria that protect the public interest, and that the process is open, fair and free of conflict of interest. We will also establish procedures to require the registration of all persons and firms who lobby the government.

I will be inviting all Ontarians to provide the government with their suggestions as to those government services that should be considered for possible privatization. The means for providing these suggestions will be announced shortly.

At the same time as we are changing the way government works, we are investing in programs that Ontarians have told us they value most. This budget provides a total of $42.7 billion to pay for government programs and services this year.

We are making this investment in spite of the federal government's cuts in transfer payments to Ontario for health, education and social programs. The federal government will contribute $1.2 billion less this year than it did last for health, education and social programs in the province.

Let me put that figure into its proper perspective:

Over the period 1995-96 to 1998-99, the federal government will cut payments to the provinces for health, education and social programs by 42.2%.

During the same period of time, it will cut the rest of its own government spending by 1.3%.

Those are strange priorities indeed for a federal government that purports to be "fair and compassionate" and tells Canadians "the commitment of their national government in support of health care, post-secondary education and assistance to the poor will be intact, and strong."

In my opinion, those federal cuts do not reflect the priorities of the people of Ontario, or indeed the people of Canada.

Ontarians value our health care system. They want us to manage it in a way that protects it for the future.

In November I said that we would ask hospitals to find savings, and that we would reinvest these savings in other health care priorities. I said we would not let health care spending fall below the $17.4-billion benchmark we established. In spite of the federal government's cuts to health care, we are meeting this commitment. With the substantial reinvestments we have made, this year's operating budget for the Ministry of Health is $17.7 billion.

The best way to keep Ontarians healthy is to detect signs of illness early, to act quickly and to prevent problems before they start.


We are spending our health dollars wisely and differently. Change is essential so we can serve an increasing population of seniors and so we can make new technologies available to the people who need them.

Here is what the Ministry of Health is already doing under the direction of the Honourable Jim Wilson:

We are reinvesting $170 million this year to provide seniors and people with disabilities with care at home instead of in institutions. This means an additional 80,000 people will receive services such as in-home nursing care, housekeeping and meal programs, creating 4,400 new health care jobs in community settings.

We are expanding a program to aid in the early detection and treatment of breast cancer, which affects 6,000 women in Ontario each year. We are providing additional funding to treat women with breast cancer and ovarian cancer. The Minister of Health will be providing further details.

We are providing funds to immunize all school children against measles, to immunize young people against hepatitis B and to immunize seniors and those at high risk against serious pneumonia.

Too many patients and their families face the anxiety of long waits for diagnosis of internal illnesses. To meet this need, the Ministry of Health will provide operating funding for 23 magnetic resonance imaging machines in locations across the province, bringing the total to 35 province-wide.

We are reinvesting $25 million to help hospitals serve areas of high population growth. The Ministry of Health worked with hospitals and the Ontario Hospital Association to reinvest these funds where they are needed most.

We are expanding emergency paramedic services by providing training and by equipping over 400 paramedics across the province to perform lifesaving emergency care procedures.

We are reinvesting funds to allow patients with acquired brain injuries to be treated here at home in Ontario rather than in the United States.

We are protecting emergency services in northern and rural hospitals by paying doctors on a sessional basis rather than on a fee-for-service basis. This action has enabled over 60 small rural hospitals to keep their emergency rooms open 24 hours a day.

We have restored out-of-country OHIP coverage for Ontarians.

The changes we are making will protect Ontario's health care system while reinvesting dollars where they are needed the most.

Ontarians have told us to make sure our school system provides our children with an excellent education, but to rein in spending outside the classroom. We are doing what the people have asked.

We are working with school boards, teachers and parents to ensure that our school system promotes excellence in student achievement and is accountable to taxpayers. The Sweeney report found that as much as 47 cents of every education dollar is spent outside the classroom. We have given school boards tools to reduce spending outside the classroom and to bring Ontario's costs in line with those in other provinces.

More fundamental reforms are required. People have told us that the current system is not working. It doesn't work for parents, not for taxpayers, and most importantly, not for the young people who represent our future.

The way we now pay for education favours students in rich boards at the expense of those in poor ones. People have told us that the current system requires significant changes to make it better for students and fairer to taxpayers.

In the coming weeks the government will propose significant change in local government and education financing and will embark on comprehensive consultation with local representatives. The assessment system in Metropolitan Toronto and other communities is broken and unfair -- we want to fix it as well.

We want to see a division of responsibilities between the province and the local level that delivers services more efficiently and effectively, that makes elected officials more accountable to taxpayers for the services they deliver, that provides a better education for our students and that provides fair and adequate funding for priority services. The Minister of Municipal Affairs and Housing, the Honourable Al Leach, and the Minister of Education and Training, the Honourable John Snobelen, will provide further details in due course.

In partnership with school boards and the private sector, our government is announcing a series of collaborative projects that will expand the use of leading-edge computer technology projects in our schools.

We are doubling the funding available for the innovative uses of this technology in the classroom to $40 million. This amount will be matched by equal funding from the private sector and school boards.

This initiative will create innovative approaches to learning in our schools, such as distance education, Internet access and electronic learning databases, in addition to helping teachers and school boards share valuable resources. The Minister of Education and Training will announce details soon of the first projects under this program.

To ensure that people in Ontario are safe in their homes and communities, the government is working to make our justice system more effective. We are focusing on prosecuting serious crimes, making our courts system more timely and accessible and protecting funding for front-line policing.

To ensure funding is available for front-line services in the justice system, we are going to integrate administrative support services to achieve maximum efficiency.

We are launching a major capital investment program to modernize correctional facilities and courthouses.

The Ontario Provincial Police are taking action to streamline management and administration to ensure that resources available for front-line policing are maintained.

To meet the growing demand for DNA analysis in criminal cases, we are expanding the DNA testing capability of the Centre of Forensic Sciences. The Solicitor General, the Honourable Bob Runciman, will announce further details.

We are committing over $2 million a year to community crime prevention initiatives to assist the voluntary efforts of Neighbourhood Watch, Block Parents, Apartment Watch and other organizations that help keep our communities safe.

Promoting and encouraging both the spirit and commitment of volunteers is a high priority for our government. We all understand that Ontarians working together can do much more for their communities than government can do alone.

Volunteer organizations are a vital part of communities in Ontario. They understand the needs of their communities best, and they address these needs with a sense of caring that reflects their commitment to helping others. Julia Munro, the member for Durham-York and parliamentary assistant to the Premier, has been working with a number of volunteer organizations and a special advisory group in support of our shared commitment to volunteers across the province.

To support the volunteers who give so generously of their time, this budget provides up to $10 million to invest in new measures and new technologies to coordinate and link the voluntary service agencies that already exist in the province. Under the new linkages program, we will be better able to coordinate services and match people in need of services with volunteers willing to offer their time and skills.

Local charities often have limited financial resources that prevent them from doing all the things they would like to do to help their neighbours and others in need.

Many charities depend on charitable gaming as a source of vital funding for their efforts. But under current arrangements, too little of this revenue from these games actually flows to the charities themselves. In addition, many current charitable gaming activities are difficult to regulate and control, placing their integrity at risk.

To improve regulation and provide a higher yield to charities, our government will replace the current three-day roving charity events with the establishment of permanent charity event sites. This measure will enhance the control of these activities and substantially increase the funds available to local and community charities. It is expected to result in up to $80 million in extra revenue being made available to Ontario's local and community charities each year. Operators of the current mobile charitable gaming businesses will have an opportunity to bid on the establishment and operation of these new permanent sites through an open competitive process. The Minister of Consumer and Commercial Relations, the Honourable Norman Sterling, will provide further details.


Ms Isabel Bassett, my parliamentary assistant and member for St Andrew-St Patrick, has held extensive consultations on ways to make it easier for public institutions to solicit charitable donations. Based on her findings, the government will proceed with its plan to introduce legislation to permit the establishment of crown foundations by public hospitals, public libraries, the Ontario Cancer Treatment and Research Foundation, the Ontario Arts Council, the Royal Ontario Museum, the Art Gallery of Ontario, the Royal Botanical Gardens and certain other public institutions which may qualify, such as the National Ballet of Canada, the Canadian Opera Company, the Toronto Symphony Orchestra, the Shaw Festival and the Stratford Festival. These foundations provide a tax incentive for major donations to public institutions.

Through this legislation, donations to these foundations will now receive the same treatment as donations to universities, colleges, the Ontario Heritage Foundation, the Trillium Foundation, the Ontario Science Centre, Science North, the McMichael Canadian Art Collection and Ontario Parks.

Raising children is a demanding job, especially for families where both parents work outside the home. Every Ontarian has an interest in making sure that young children start life in a healthy and secure environment. We all have a stake in their wellbeing.

This budget introduces four specific actions to make a real and direct improvement in the lives of our children.

First, we are investing in nutrition for children.

Children who go to school hungry are not going to be good learners. To ensure that elementary school children are receiving the nutrition they need, the government is forming a partnership with the Canadian Living Foundation for Families to help parents and communities set up and expand local nutrition programs. The government will provide up to $5 million this year in startup funding for this initiative. By the way, this is an idea that formulated with the member for North Bay, now Premier, Mike Harris.

Mr Sean G. Conway (Renfrew North): Thank you, Sandra.

Hon Mr Eves: I don't recall Sandra being here then, I'm sorry. She wasn't here in 1981, was she?

By avoiding a large government bureaucracy, this partnership will ensure that the largest possible share of available funding, including donations from individuals and businesses in the community, goes directly towards meeting children's needs.

Second, we are helping children who have speech and language disorders.

This budget provides $10 million this year, going to $20 million in future years, to expand services for preschool children with speech and language disorders. About 10% of Ontario's children have a speech or language disorder. Early intervention means that more of these children will be able to function with little or no extra help as they grow older.

Third, we are investing in children's health.

Investing in children's health improves their wellbeing and their long-term prospects. For example, proper education and support can help young mothers avoid giving birth to babies with low birth weights, which is a major cause of infant death. This budget provides $10 million annually to support expectant mothers and families with children under six years old, especially those who would otherwise be at risk. These actions will help more children have a healthier start in life.

Fourth, we will increase the province's support for child care, bringing it to the highest level in the history of the province.

Today Ontario spends more per capita for child care than any other province, with the possible exception of British Columbia.

Janet Ecker, the member for Durham West, is reviewing child care programs to ensure that funding is provided to those most in need and that parents have affordable child care alternatives.

Ms Ecker has heard from many working parents about the substantial price they pay to ensure that their children are properly cared for.

The need to expand the child care choices available to parents is real and urgent. To address these concerns, I am announcing today an enhancement of our child care funding that will provide over the next five years an additional $200 million in support above the current levels. This year we will spend $600 million on child care -- the highest ever in the province of Ontario's history. The Minister of Community and Social Services, the Honourable David Tsubouchi, will provide details on new child care measures following completion of the child care review.

We are investing $57 million this summer to provide 29,000 summer jobs for young people. That's almost 5,000 more jobs than last year. In addition to helping young people meet their education expenses, these jobs provide a wide range of work experience. By giving young people a chance to gain experience and learn meaningful skills, we are helping to ensure that they will have an opportunity to lead productive and independent lives.

Ontario's college and university students are among the greatest strengths of our future economy.

To help ensure that students have enhanced employment opportunities, I am introducing a cooperative education tax credit of up to $1,000 per co-op placement effective September 1, 1996. This refundable tax credit will provide corporations with tax savings equal to 10% of the costs of hiring a student who is participating in a recognized co-op program at an Ontario college or university. We are pursuing with the federal government the possibility of extending this program to include unincorporated employers.

To help make our education system more responsive to students' needs while keeping it accessible, the province is working with the government of Canada to develop an income-contingent student loan program. The objective of this program will be to make loan repayments reflect a student's earnings after graduation.

To encourage companies and individuals to contribute to Ontario's students, every college and university will haves the opportunity to establish an Ontario student opportunity trust fund. The province will match any donation to these trust funds made after today and before March 31, 1997. The moneys from each fund will be used to assist academically qualified individuals who for financial reasons would not otherwise be able to attend college or university. It is estimated that the province of Ontario will contribute $100 million towards this initiative, creating a pool of $200 million in trust funds. The interest on these funds will help provide a solid base of financial support for Ontario's students.

The Minister of Education and Training will announce further details.

In recent weeks the government has been consulting with Ontarians on the future of the Canada pension plan. These consultations have been carried out by Mr Ed Doyle, the member for Wentworth East, and Mr Tim Hudak, the member for Niagara South, along with representatives of the federal government.

Ontarians told us they want the Canada pension plan fixed so that their pensions will be there when they retire. They also told us to keep a tight control on payroll taxes, because payroll taxes kill jobs.

In June, federal and provincial finance ministers will meet to discuss the future plan's design.

Ontario's goal is to ensure that the Canada pension plan is put on a sound financial footing once and for all. We want to ensure that the pensions people are counting on will be there when they retire, and that future generations will not be saddled with trying to fund a plan that is not financially solvent. We will work on eliminating waste, overlap and duplication, and to ensure fairness in benefit administration.

Thus budget provides $2.7 billion this year for capital spending.

That includes over $700 million for roads and highways. Our provincial highway system is a lifeline of Ontario's economy. The condition of our highways is essential in attracting new businesses, in moving goods to our major trading partners, and in enticing tourists to Ontario. Up-to-date infrastructure is essential to ensure Ontario's economic competitiveness.


Too many of our highways are in poor condition. To help restore this provincial asset, while creating jobs and improving highway safety, we are committing an additional $100 million this year to an accelerated program of repaving and repairing highways.

The construction of Highway 416 in eastern Ontario will also be accelerated with the tendering of a $20-million construction contract in the near future.

We will also provide $60 million to municipalities this year to accelerate repairs to highways that are being transferred to their jurisdiction, and to highway connecting links that require urgent repair.

In addition, this budget provides over $100 million in the next four years to address the safety deficiencies of municipal transit systems across the province. The Minister of Transportation, the Honourable Al Palladini, will provide further details.

To make the investments in the programs Ontarians want and value, it is essential that every taxpayer pay the amount of tax that he or she is legally required to pay. Law-abiding taxpayers have told me they want to crack down on tax evaders -- they are tired of paying additional taxes on behalf of those who refuse to pay.

The Provincial Auditor has recommended that the government do more to identify those who may be evading retail sales tax and to increase the number of audits that are being performed. I can confirm today that we are taking action on each of his recommendations.

In addition, effective August 1, successful bidders on Ontario government contracts will be required to provide confirmation that their provincial taxes are in good standing. This measure will apply to all tendered contracts.

I am adding 186 new audit and collections staff to the Ministry of Finance over the next three years, including 50 reassigned from other duties. This staff will collect additional revenues estimated at $80 million annually by 1998-99.

Once we have exhausted all government collection procedures, we will tender to the private sector the balance of uncollectible tax accounts.

The method of calculating interest on overdue taxes will be harmonized to bring interest charges in line with those of Revenue Canada. Other penalty and interest provisions will be harmonized with federal statutes where appropriate.

The Ministry of Finance will set up a new hotline for the reporting of suspected fraud or abuse, as I promised. Ontarians will be able to call the hotline, 1-888-TIP-INFO, starting June 15.

A number of amendments will be introduced to improve tax enforcement. Details of tax measures are provided in budget paper A.

At the same time, the government will pursue opportunities to lower the cost of complying with tax laws by harmonizing and reducing duplication.

To simplify the tax system and reduce administration, the Ministry of Finance will examine options to harmonize Ontario's capital tax on financial institutions with the federal capital tax. Consultations will be held with the financial services industry.

To reduce compliance costs for business, Ontario will harmonize with the changes to corporate income taxes introduced in the 1995 and 1996 federal budgets.

Ontario will continue to cooperate with the federal government to reduce tobacco smuggling. The federal and Ontario governments agreed to share equally any recovery in the 1994 tobacco tax reduction. In recognition of this agreement, and to reduce the incentive for unwarranted tobacco price increases that may rekindle smuggling, I am amending the Tobacco Tax Act. The tobacco tax will be linked to any future changes in the selling price of cigarettes. We will also fully harmonize with the federal tobacco levies by matching any future increases or decreases in those levies.

Tax harmonization must be a two-way street. Ontario is already harmonized with the federal personal income tax system.

But when we asked the federal government to administer the fair share health care levy as designed in the Common Sense Revolution -- as a tax on taxable income -- the answer was: not now.

When we asked them to use the income tax system to enforce child support agreements when parents did not pay, to pursue deadbeat dads, the answer was: not now.

When we asked them to use the income tax system to help recover money that is owed to the province by people who received more social assistance than they were entitled to or by students who have defaulted on their loans, the answer was: not now.

These federal delays do not make sense. They mean that less money is available to support children or to make new student loans. Ontario is prepared to act immediately on these initiatives, taking actions that people have told us they support and ensuring the continued viability of the harmonized income tax system.

Balancing the budget, eliminating the deficit and turning around the growth in debt are not ends in themselves -- they are a means to an end. The end is a more prosperous Ontario, where people can once again feel secure about their jobs, their families, their communities and their future, where they can feel better about themselves.

We are building a better future for Ontarians. It means that we must restore the environment that allows businesses to create jobs.

My colleagues and I promised Ontarians that we would take a new approach to get our economy going -- by making Ontario a great place in which to live, work and invest.

We have put an end to more than 30 direct business subsidy programs. In my opinion, most business subsidy programs don't create lasting jobs. Too often, the job ends as soon as the government grant ends. Cutting these programs will save taxpayers $230 million in grants and loans this fiscal year.

Our government is taking a different approach.

We are breaking down the barriers to job creation.

We are cutting payroll taxes that kill jobs.

We are changing the rules so that banks and private investment funds will invest more money in new and growing businesses that create jobs.

We are changing taxes that have blocked the growth of important sectors of our economy.

Our government is breaking down the barriers to job creation. We have passed legislation to restore the balance in relations between workers and employers. We have repealed job quotas. We have frozen Ontario Hydro average rates until the year 2000.

The Red tape Review Commission, headed by Frank Sheehan, the member for Lincoln, is finding ways to eliminate unnecessary regulations and make government work better for Ontarians.

This year, we will extend the sunset provision of the Loan and Trust Corporations Act and take action to eliminate overlap in regulation in the loan and trust industry. We will remove the outdated requirement that Ontario duplicate regulatory activities already undertaken by other jurisdictions in Canada. By harmonizing with federal regulations, we will get rid of an unnecessary layer of regulation in this important industry. We will set out our direction in a policy paper to be issued for public comment in the near future.

While the task of making Ontario a good place to create jobs is by no means completed, already Ontarians can see signs that we are going in the right direction.

Between June 1995 and March of this year, Ontario's private sector created 90,000 new jobs. That's over 300 new net private sector jobs every day.

I know that the public sector is cutting back -- at all levels. Many good and hardworking people are finding themselves on the job market for the first time in years.

But for every job lost in the broader public sector in the last nine months, almost four jobs were created in the private sector. We simply have to make this adjustment to get Ontario growing again.

To date this year, we have more jobs in manufacturing that we had a year ago, more jobs in construction, more jobs in services, more jobs in the wholesale and retail sector, more jobs in transportation and communications.


Investors are recognizing that Ontario is once again a good place to do business. Investment stands at record-high levels, and Ontario's investment growth is outpacing the rest of Canada.

Magna International has chosen St Thomas as the location for its new truck frame plant, creating over 700 new jobs.

Premier Harris recently participated in the ground-breaking for Honda Canada's expansion in Alliston, creating 1,200 new permanent jobs.

The forest industry has announced additional investments in communities such as Thunder Bay, Red Rock and Marathon.

Placer Dome recently committed $260 million to develop its Musselwhite gold property north of Pickle Lake.

Bayer Rubber Corp is investing $61 million to build two new chemical plants in Sarnia.

The Pacific Century Group is working in partnership with IBM Canada and Rogers Cablesystems on a $100-million project to build four condominium towers with fibre-optic wiring in downtown Toronto.

Investments such as these are bringing real benefits in the form of jobs for Ontario's people.

To help more companies grow and compete, I am announcing a new private sector driven approach to business development.

A new partnerships for jobs and growth initiative will complement our efforts to improve the business climate.

It will support innovation, encourage Ontario's entrepreneurs, strengthen Ontario's sectors, bridge the training gap, extend global reach and strengthen economic development at the local level.

Addressing these issues will make Ontario a more competitive, productive and successful trading economy.

In its initial year, 1996-97, $50 million of the savings from other programs will be reinvested to support this partnerships for jobs and growth. The Minister of Economic Development, Trade and Tourism, the Honourable Bill Saunderson, will announce further details.

The strongest area of our economy has been the export sector. Exports are at record levels and are expected to increase by a further 8.7% in 1996. The motor vehicle industry -- our largest manufacturing exporter -- achieved its highest level of production in history last year.

Overall, Ontario businesses plan to increase their investment spending for machinery and equipment, investing in new commercial and industrial buildings. According to the Conference Board of Canada's recent survey of business confidence, almost 54% of Canadian businesses consider Ontario the best province in which to invest.

Consumers are beginning to feel more confident too. Home resales have improved by 36% this year from last year's low levels -- backed by interest rates that are at their lowest since July 1994. The inflation rate is holding at less than 2%.

Ontario's economic expansion is taking hold and accelerating. Our forecast, which is deliberately cautious, is that the economy will expand by 1.9% this year and 2.8% in 1997. Most forecasters expect that we will do better.

A large share of Ontario's new jobs will come from new and growing businesses. These businesses need access to sources of capital that believe in their potential and are prepared to maintain their investment until that potential is fully realized. We are taking action today to help make that happen.

Labour-sponsored investment funds have become well established as a source of capital for entrepreneurs, especially for those requiring capital between $1 million and $10 million. At present, our labour-sponsored investment funds hold assets of $1.2 billion, including more than $600 million that is required to be invested in eligible businesses over the next three years.

I am introducing stricter investment rules today to ensure that capital raised by these funds is made available more quickly to Ontario's entrepreneurs -- and especially to businesses that are not yet big enough to raise capital on the stock market.

To reduce costs to the taxpayers, I am harmonizing with the federal government by limiting the Ontario tax credit for new investments to 15%, effective today. I am also harmonizing with the changes to this program that were announced in the federal budget.

Banks too must play a key role in the new economy by increasing their longer-term financing of Ontario's innovative growth firms -- especially smaller businesses.

Effective midnight tonight, we will harmonize with the federal measure by imposing a temporary surtax on capital tax paid by banks.

We will provide a small business investment credit against this tax to banks making capital investments in small businesses in Ontario. Banks that increase the availability of equity capital for small businesses will be able to earn back this surtax over a three-year period of time.

We will make certain that banks that do business with the provincial government are also doing business with Ontario's entrepreneurs. Starting this year, banks that wish to provide services to the province will be required as part of their tender bid to show a comprehensive record of small business lending.

In addition, the government will consider innovative ideas to foster the establishment of private sector financed equity funds that focus on new and emerging small businesses. I have asked Mr Rob Sampson, my parliamentary assistant for financial institutions, the member for Mississauga West, to lead this review and report back to me. He will be assisted by Mr Joe Spina, the parliamentary assistant for small business, the member for Brampton North.

The Ontario economy needs a strong, globally competitive capital market. Ontario companies need access to equity financing without the extra cost and delays caused by regulatory duplication. Strong and well-regulated stock exchanges are good for business and they are good for Toronto, the heart of Canada's financial sector.

To make it easier for companies to raise funds in Canadian equity markets, Ontario will pursue an agreement with the federal government and other interested provinces to delegate responsibility for securities regulation to a Canadian Securities Commission.

Ontario has become one of the major film production centres in North America. The strategic alliance in animation productions between Sheridan College and Disney Corp is but one example of the kind of new investment that the film industry can bring to the province, creating skilled jobs and talented people. But this industry faces stiff competition because of incentives offered by other jurisdictions.

To ensure that Ontario remains a major player in the North American industry, I am introducing a film and television tax credit that harmonizes with the federal tax credit introduced last year and targets benefits to Ontarians. This refundable tax credit will be 15% of the eligible labour costs in Ontario, effective July 1 of this year.

Ontario will double the value of credit for filmmakers making their first commercial production. These measures will be administered jointly with the Ontario Film Development Corp.

Bell Canada has been a pioneer in servicing over 1,500 major call centres in the province, creating competitive advantage by providing toll-free service to customers. Increasingly, these centres require employees with advanced skills, for example, service agents who explain complex financial services or technicians who can install and repair state-of-the-art telecommunications equipment.

In recent weeks, Unitel Communications has chosen to locate a new call centre in Toronto, creating 250 jobs. S&P Data Corp has announced plans for a new call centre in North Bay, creating 328 jobs.

These companies and others like them have discovered that Ontario offers a highly skilled workforce, bilingual and multilingual communities -- including those in northern and eastern Ontario -- advanced digital telecommunications technology and proximity to North America's major consumer markets.

Ontario is determined to keep the jobs that these companies create. To help do so, I am exempting from retail sales tax 1-800 and 1-888 telephone services purchased by business, effective July 1. This measure will bring Ontario into line with the tax incentives provided by seven other provinces.

Jobs and growth in the Ontario economy will depend on our ability to develop and use the information highway.

In partnership with Ontario's telecommunications and computing industries, we have already built sophisticated networks, some of which primarily serve the public sector, such as health, education and Ontario Hydro.


New telecommunications applications offer the potential for significant improvements in the accessibility, timeliness and cost-effectiveness of public sector services. We will explore how to best use existing public sector networks, especially in rural areas of Ontario. We will also look at the merits of an expanded role for the private sector.

In addition, we will reinvest $20 million found from other programs, for telecommunications access partnerships to work with entrepreneurs, sectors and communities.

The Minister of Economic Development, Trade and Tourism will announce details.

While many other sectors have returned to their pre-recession level of production, Ontario's housing industry has not. New housing starts this year are projected to be less than half their 1989 level.

To encourage people who have been waiting to buy their first home, first-time buyers who purchase a newly constructed home after today and before March 31 of next year will receive a refund of their land transfer tax, the maximum refund being $1,725, equivalent to the tax on a $200,000 home. Coupled with lower interest rates and more affordable pricing, this measure will help bring home ownership within the reach of many more families. In addition, it will create jobs in building, furnishing and equipping these new homes.

The tourism and hospitality industry attracts millions of dollars to Ontario and creates thousands of jobs.

For many years the competitiveness of the hotel industry in Metropolitan Toronto has been hindered by property taxes that are higher than those on other commercial property. Over the coming year, the government will take action to address this disadvantage as part of its review of property tax reform.

To assist Ontario's hospitality industry, the Ontario Lottery Corp will develop a plan to introduce a limited number of video lottery terminals at selected locations across the province.

In recent years, the gaming marketplace has expanded dramatically, with numerous new products and activities which have made it difficult to control and regulate. In addition, the Ontario Provincial Police have indicated that illegal gaming activity is increasing, with anywhere from 15,000 to 16,000 video lottery terminals operating illegally in the province of Ontario today. It is anticipated that the establishment of a tightly regulated, government-managed VLT network, along with other measures announced in this budget, will counter illegal gaming activity, and impose some much-needed discipline and control in Ontario's gaming marketplace.

The Ontario Lottery Corp will be responsible for the operation and management of the VLT network, and the Ontario Gaming Control Commission will oversee and control every aspect of VLT gaming activity. We believe that VLTs, if implemented within tight regulatory controls and in limited-access environments, can meet a legitimate entertainment demand and provide a significant stimulus to the hospitality industry.

In designing Ontario's VLT program --


The Speaker: Order. I'm having a problem hearing.

Hon Mr Eves: -- the Ontario Lottery Corp will take advantage of lessons learned in the eight other provinces in Canada where VLT networks already exist. The detailed implementation plan developed by the Ontario Lottery Corp, in consultation with the Ontario Gaming Control Commission, will be designed to ensure that the installation of terminals and the expansion of the VLT network proceeds in a measured way, and that appropriate controls and regulatory provisions exist at each stage of the process. In addition, to encourage responsibility among those participating in gaming activity, and to assist those affected by problem gambling behaviour, 2% of the total terminal revenues will be set aside to establish a comprehensive problem gambling strategy that will include public awareness, prevention, treatment and research components.

Initially, VLTs will be located only at racetracks and permanent charity event sites -- locations where the machines can be closely monitored and where they will complement other existing gaming activities. Once an acceptable implementation plan is developed, the network can then be expanded to the hospitality industry, having regard to the following guidelines:

-- Terminals will be located only in separate areas within liquor-licensed establishments where access can be limited to those 19 years of age or older.

-- Licensed premises that fail to enforce this age restriction will have their liquor licences suspended or revoked.

-- The total number of terminals in the province will be limited to fewer per capita than in any other province with a VLT network.

-- The host site will receive 10% of the total terminal revenues.

-- 10% of total terminal revenues will be provided to charitable organizations in the province.

As a result of initiatives in this budget, charitable organizations will now be provided with up to an additional $180 million annually to help them meet community needs.

The recession and the expansion of legalized gaming activities in recent years have adversely affected Ontario's horse racing industry, which is one of the largest in North America. The introduction of VLTs at racetracks will attract patrons and generate revenues for the industry.

To bring this industry's taxes in line with its competitors, and to protect the jobs of those it employs throughout rural Ontario, I will be reducing the racetracks' tax rate to half of 1% on all wagers. This rate reduction will take effect when the government is assured that the horse racing industry has in place an effective plan to share additional resources fairly and to secure the future of Ontario's horse racing industry. The Minister of Consumer and Commercial Relations will work with the industry to develop this plan.

The economy of the greater Toronto area provides up to half of the province's entire economic output and 43% of its employment. The GTA is considered Canada's major business and financial centre, and the hub of communications, transportation and wholesaling networks that serve the Great Lakes economy. Without strong growth in the GTA, Ontario's economy cannot perform well.

After a prolonged recession that lasted nearly two years longer than in the rest of Ontario, the GTA's economy is growing again. Employment surged ahead by 82,000 jobs in 1995, compared to a loss of 8,000 in 1994.

While the GTA's economy is growing again, the antiquated nature of the property tax system in many of its municipalities is cause for concern. The need for reform was highlighted in the report of the Golden task force. To ensure that the GTA economy continues to be a driving force within Ontario, we are carefully reviewing the Golden task force's recommendations to ensure that we have the best possible plan for the sustained health of the GTA and the province. Our review will also include consideration of the findings of the GTA panel chaired by Ms Libby Burnham.

The government is also determined to bring new jobs and growth to northern Ontario.

The Northern Ontario Heritage Fund Corp will be refocused away from direct financial assistance to businesses and towards the funding of infrastructure improvements and development opportunities in northern Ontario. Specifically, the corporation will direct its financial resources towards:

-- The development and marketing of regional tourism enhancement projects.

-- Telecommunications and transportation infrastructure improvement.

-- Other economic development initiatives to ensure that northern communities remain attractive places to live and work.

The former government took $60 million from the heritage fund on March 31, 1995. This money was specifically allocated to be used for the benefit of northerners and should never have been transferred into general provincial revenues. Based on recommendations from my colleague the Minister of Northern Development and Mines, the Honourable Chris Hodgson, I am returning these funds to the heritage fund today, along with $5 million in accumulated interest. As a result, this fund now contains over $120 million to be used exclusively for the benefit of the people of northern Ontario. The government will continue to provide $30 million annually to the heritage fund.


To eliminate duplication and achieve economies of scale and enhance returns to the fund, we will establish improved financing arrangements between the fund and the Ontario Financing Authority.

Our efforts to improve the north's business climate will help sustain strong resource exports and investments that have been creating jobs. Freezing all mining taxes and all Mining Act related fees and licences will encourage investment in northern resource sectors. A reduced regulatory burden on forestry and mining and streamlined approvals that maintain environmental standards will also lead to increased economic growth. A total of $138 million will be provided this year for repaving and repairing northern roads -- up $40 million from the fiscal year just past.

Mr Bud Wildman (Algoma): That's from the heritage fund.

Hon Mr Eves: No, it is not.

To foster development in the far north of the province, the Minister of Northern Development and Mines will investigate opportunities for partnerships between government and the private sector to build infrastructure and stimulate resource development in remote areas north of the 51st parallel.

Across rural Ontario, communities are taking action to develop their full economic potential. New technologies are changing, creating new opportunities for business.

Our government is taking steps to ensure the long-term growth and prosperity of rural Ontario.

We have repealed legislation that permitted trade unions to invade the family farm.

We are working on dismantling Bill 163 to expedite the planning process and empower municipalities.

We are retaining the farm property tax rebate program, pending reform of municipal property taxes.

We are increasing agriculture's share of the operating budget for this fiscal year.

Mr James J. Bradley (St Catharines): It's less money than last year.

Hon Mr Eves: No, it is not.

The needs of rural communities are unique and the challenges facing them are different from those of urban Ontario. The new Ontario municipal support program stands as evidence of our government's understanding of that fact.

We will bring economic stimulus to rural Ontario. Agriculture and food is the province's second-largest goods-producing sector, and there is great potential for expansion in many areas -- from aquaculture to ethanol production. Such expansion benefits from our commitment to eliminate red tape and needless regulations throughout government.

To promote growth in rural Ontario, this budget is providing $15 million to stimulate research, market development, investment and competitiveness in the agriculture and food sector. The new Grow Ontario program will strengthen the capacity of small and medium-sized farm and food sector groups and rural communities to compete in the international marketplace. The Minister of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs, the Honourable Noble Villeneuve, will provide details.

To assist Ontario farmers further and provide stimulus, I will provide a rebate of 8% retail sales tax paid on building materials purchased by commercial farmers to upgrade and modernize farm operations after today and before March 31 of next year.

While our economy is growing again, and however competitive we may be abroad, the benefits are not yet being felt by many here at home.

Too many people are out of work in Ontario, and even those who are working have seen their standard of living fall. Men and women who work hard to raise their families and keep their homes, who in many cases have not seen a pay raise in several years, have been hammered by years of tax increases. In the past 10 years provincial taxes have been raised 65 times, including 11 increases in Ontario's personal income tax. In good times and in bad, governments have put their hand deeper and deeper into the pockets of Ontario taxpayers.

As a result, in real inflation-adjusted terms, the take-home pay of the average worker is lower today than it was in 1985.

Ontario can and will do better -- much better.

Our economy has the capacity to produce billions of dollars a year more in additional economic output than it's producing today. The use of our existing plants and equipment could be much higher; if that were the case, production would rise. There is no need for us to accept a rate of growth that keeps good people out of work and good capacity out of use.

Unless we reduce our current levels of taxation, we will never return to prosperity in the province of Ontario. We will never create enough jobs to give Ontarians a secure future. We will never generate enough revenues to balance the budget.

To build a better future, we have to give Ontario's economy a break. We have to give the people of Ontario and future generations a break.

During the 1980s, small businesses were the province's largest source of new jobs; in the 1990s, they have suffered major losses. A big part of the problem is the heavy payroll tax burden borne by small business.

To help businesses create jobs, I am fulfilling today our commitment to exempt the first $400,000 in annual payroll from the employer health payroll tax. This tax cut will be introduced in three steps, starting January 1, 1997, and will be fully implemented by January 1, 1999.

Ontarians want to see small businesses expand and hire new workers. Yet the current payroll tax penalizes them for doing exactly that. It increases the ongoing cost of hiring a new worker by as much as 4% for a small and growing business. In addition, the payroll tax imposes a substantial and unnecessary paperwork burden on employers who may have only a single employee. Ontario and Quebec are the only provinces that impose a provincial payroll tax on small employers.

The former government changed this tax five times without fixing its underlying problems. Their one-year exemption for increased payrolls added to the paperwork burden on employers, and it did not provide permanent relief. I am replacing it with a permanent tax reduction.

By 1999, 88% of Ontario's employers will no longer have to pay this job-killing tax. That means 270,000 employers can spend less time filling out forms for the government and doing more productive work. This tax cut will remove a barrier that discourages small and growing businesses from creating jobs.

To reduce the payroll tax burden further, we will deliver on our commitment to reduce the average workers' compensation assessment rate by 5%.

We will also cut taxes for the people of Ontario, providing real and immediate benefits from our actions to make government smaller and helping create jobs that people want.

My colleagues and I said we would cut personal income taxes by an average of 30% over three years, with half of that to be provided in our first budget. We promised Ontarians with higher incomes they would have to pay a fair share for the health care system. Today we are delivering on those promises.

Ontario's income tax rate will be cut by 30.2% over three years.

The first step will take effect this July 1, less than 60 days from today. That is the earliest day allowed under the tax collection agreement.


The Speaker: Have them removed from the gallery.

Hon Mr Eves: The amount of income tax deducted from people's paycheques will be reduced starting July 1 to reflect a rate of 54% of the basic federal tax for the second half of 1996. That's down from 58% at present.

The second step will take effect on January 1, 1997. Then Ontario's income tax rate will be 49% of the basic federal tax. That will bring us slightly more than halfway to our 30.2% commitment in cut in the tax rate.

The rest of the cut will be phased in between 1997 and 1999. In 1999, Ontario's tax rate will be 40.5%. That's 30.2% less than it is today.


When the tax cut is fully implemented, 520,000 taxpayers with modest incomes will get a cut that's greater than 30%. Another 635,000 with lower incomes will continue to pay no tax at all.

Those with higher incomes will pay a Fair Share health care levy. In the Common Sense Revolution we proposed that this take the form of a tax on taxable incomes. The federal government has refused to allow us to implement that tax. Therefore, the Fair Share health care levy is incorporated into Ontario's existing surtax. For example, a single individual with no dependants will pay the Fair Share health care levy only if his or her salary exceeds $52,315 a year. This levy will be adjusted as the tax cut is phased in. The payroll tax on the self-employed will be eliminated.

It is a privilege, on behalf of the government and people of Ontario, to announce today legislation that will cut Ontario's taxes this July 1 and again on January 1, 1997.

The benefits of these measures are clear:

Ninety-one per cent of all taxpayers will see a tax cut of 30% or greater.

All taxpayers with incomes of $60,000 or less will see their taxes fall by 30% or more.

Sixty-four per cent of the benefits from this tax cut will be concentrated on middle-income Ontarians earning between $25,000 and $75,000 a year.

For those with higher incomes, the 30.2% rate reduction will be offset in part by the Fair Share health care levy. This system will be far more progressive when the tax cut is fully implemented than it is today, and that is fair for all Ontarians.

The marginal rate on those with higher incomes, which can be as much as 55%, will be reduced to 49.6%, the second-lowest in Canada.

Best of all, these cuts mean more jobs for Ontarians. People will have more dollars to spend, more dollars to pay down their debts, more dollars to invest in new businesses, and more incentive to create jobs in Ontario.

I can remember, only a few short years ago, when governments thought taxes could only go in one direction: up. This budget does exactly the opposite. It cuts taxes a total of 10 times.

This is a budget for the people of Ontario. It is a budget that:

-- Spends taxpayers' dollars more wisely.

-- Promotes job creation in the private sector.

-- Helps those in genuine need.

-- Reduces the tax burden on middle- and low-income taxpayers.

Reducing the deficit means lower borrowing costs. Lowering borrowing costs means we'll have more money to invest in programs that Ontarians value the most. Creating efficiencies in government reduces the burden on all of us.

The changes we are making today are based on our belief that Ontario can have a better future:

-- An Ontario that has freed its children and grandchildren from the burden of government deficits and growing debt.

-- An Ontario that provides programs that will take care of people in need of permanent help and gives an hand up to those requiring temporary assistance.

-- An Ontario that leads Canada in jobs, in investments, in health care, in education and in community safety.

-- An Ontario that creates a society that not only believes in compassion and justice but has the financial capacity to make it a reality.

To set Ontario in this new direction has taken vision and courage, which have been the hallmark of Premier Mike Harris's leadership. I salute him for his leadership, and I thank him for his support.

We have heard the people of Ontario. The people of Ontario told us they want a government that works for them, not the other way around.

They have told us they want an Ontario where hard work is rewarded, where initiative is encouraged.

They want an Ontario where their children can grow, where young people have hope and opportunity. An Ontario where social justice and fiscal responsibility are the rule rather than the exception.

These are the principles and beliefs that my son Justin shared. They can be tomorrow's reality.

With the initiatives announced today, the people of Ontario can meet the challenges of the 21st century confident that tomorrow will be better than today for themselves -- and for their children.

Mr Speaker, I believe we have unanimous consent to revert to introduction of bills.

The Speaker: Whoa, whoa.

Mrs Lyn McLeod (Leader of the Opposition): I am pleased to move adjournment of the debate.

The Speaker: Shall the motion carry? Carried.

Hon Mr Eves: My apologies to the leader of the official opposition.

I believe we have unanimous consent to revert to introduction of bills.

The Speaker: Do we have unanimous consent? Agreed.



Mr Eves moved first reading of the following bill:

Bill 47, An Act to cut taxes, to stimulate economic growth and to implement other measures contained in the 1996 Budget / Projet de loi 47, Loi visant à réduire les impôts, à stimuler la croissance économique et à mettre en oeuvre d'autres mesures mentionnées dans le budget de 1995.

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

Hon Ernie L. Eves (Deputy Premier, Minister of Finance and Government House Leader): Mr Speaker, I move that the House do now adjourn.

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

The House adjourned at 1738.