36th Parliament, 1st Session

L071 - Wed 8 May 1996 / Mer 8 Mai 1996












































The House met at 1333.




Mr John C. Cleary (Cornwall): The people of eastern Ontario have been waiting for the Mike Harris government to do something with the closed parks of the St Lawrence. The unemployed, students and small business owners thought the budget would have some kind of announcement to get Raisin River and Charlottenburgh parks open this summer.

Under the heading "Bringing tourism and hospitality jobs to Ontario," there is nothing that talks about the campgrounds of eastern Ontario. All I can find is references to video lottery terminals and northern Ontario.

Yesterday I read with deep disappointment the minister's reply to a meeting request from Charlottenburgh township to discuss potential lease agreements. Not only is the government not interested in meeting with the municipality, but Mr Saunderson writes, "I want you to know that this government has tried to open these parks." Perhaps the minister is confused.

The tender process he is referring to took place under the former administration, leading me to believe he wants me to tell the people what your government, not the commission, is doing to open these parks.

If the minister doesn't want to listen to me, maybe he'll want to review the comments of the member for S-D-G & East Grenville when he said: "We have to get these parks open next year, one way or another. Let's get the parks open come springtime." That was in 1994. Shame, shame, shame.


Mr Tony Silipo (Dovercourt): Yesterday the budget revealed what many people have been saying and knowing for some time, which is that we now have the full picture in front of us in terms of what this government is doing and how it's intending to pay for its 30% tax cut.

Of course the government tried yesterday to paint this as a good news budget, focusing only on the merits of the tax cut, but people out there know, and as they begin to make the equation they will more and more see that in fact any benefit they might get from a few hundred dollars' reduction in the provincial income tax will be more than offset by increases they are going to have to pay in property taxes, because of cuts to school boards and cuts to municipalities, and a whole array of other hidden taxes otherwise known as user fees which people are going to have to pay. For the average family, they're going to be worse off at the end of the day, not better off.

One of the things I think will happen over a period of time is that people will begin to see the full impact of what Mike Harris is doing.

The other thing they will also realize is that not only will this budget and the policy of this government devastate the social fabric of this society, it will also not generate economically anywhere near the kinds of jobs they are claiming. It was interesting that in the budget yesterday the minister gave us a lot of numbers, but he didn't tell us -- we had to ask the bureaucrats to get the real numbers on job creation, which are going to be far, far less than the 725,000 jobs they promised to create in the Common Sense Revolution.


Mr Tom Froese (St Catharines-Brock): Brock University recently announced the formation of a Cool Climate Viticulture Institute. This institute has been shaped over the last year after extensive collaboration with different sectors of the grape and wine industry.

Clearly, Brock wants to know and be able to respond to the needs of grape growers, wine makers and juice producers. In fact, they've joined forces with Dr A.G. Reynolds, the program leader at the Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada research centre in British Columbia.

Students will benefit by being able to complete a bachelor of science degree specializing in this important area. They will not only get access to up-to-date research, but also practical hands-on experience working in local vineyards and wineries.

Already the research they are conducting is showing tremendous possibilities. Through biotechnology they have harvested nematodes, which have a short 30-day life span, to destroy the harmful grape berry moth. They have done this in an experimental vineyard at Chateau des Charmes winery in Niagara-on-the-Lake, which resulted in top-quality wines without chemical treatment.

I would like to acknowledge and encourage Brock to continue this type of partnership and creative activities, activities that not only assist grape growers and wine producers but all of us through better treatment of our environment.


Mr Pat Hoy (Essex-Kent): Over the next four years, the Conservative budget will add $22 billion to Ontario's debt.

The tax cut will be equivalent to a 15% cut in provincial taxes by January 1, 1997, and will cost the province $13 billion in lost revenue over the next four years. But to pay for the tax cut, the Harris government will have to borrow $1.2 billion for the remainder of this year and a total of $5.4 billion when the tax is fully implemented. Money is being borrowed for a tax cut at a time when the deficit should be addressed.

The issue of fairness bothers me. Over 30% of families in my riding have a combined income of less than $30,000. For them, the tax break will mean approximately $155 this year and $295 next year. If a family has a combined income of $150,000, even with the health levy clawback, this family would net $3,123. This division is not fair to the people of Essex-Kent.

I fear that additional user fees, hikes in tuition fees and licence fees will cause the tax windfall to disappear. Government downloading will cause increases in school board and property taxes, garbage collection fees, water fees, recreation fees, library fees, provincial police service fees, road toll fees and countless others. Many families will end up with less money than they had before the tax cut. With daily announcements of user fees, this government is downloading.



Mr Peter Kormos (Welland-Thorold): Lie after lie after lie. In yesterday's budget, we saw the announcement of video lottery terminals -- slot machines -- in virtually every corner of every block of this province, small town and big city alike. Let me tell you --

The Speaker (Hon Allan K. McLean): I'd ask the honourable member to withdraw the word "lie." Would the honourable member withdraw?

Mr Kormos: Yes. May I start again, Speaker? I withdraw.

The Speaker: Would you withdraw the words you uttered?

Mr Kormos: The "lie" word?

The Speaker: Yes.

Mr Kormos: I know I can't use the word "lie"; ergo, I withdraw it.

Prevarication after prevarication. I tell you, video lottery terminals -- slot machines -- on every corner of every block in this community and in communities across this province. Slot machines are the crack cocaine of gambling. It's a tax on the poor. It makes other forms of gambling look like a cake raffle.

This government, through its leader, promised, "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." There was none of that consultation, there was none of the assessment of impacts, and there was no agreement reached on the distribution of revenues. By God, that's a prevarication if I ever saw one, and he's the prevaricator.


Mr Dan Newman (Scarborough Centre): I rise today as the member for Scarborough Centre to bring to the attention of this House the great news this government's budget has given to students in Ontario.

The government of Premier Harris is committed to preparing our young people for real and lasting jobs through partnerships with the private sector, schools and post-secondary institutions. By way of fulfilling that commitment, the 1996 Ontario budget offers the new cooperative education tax credit to help Ontario's young people. Mr Eves also announced that the province will match business and individual contributions to new scholarship trust funds established by universities and colleges.

The province will invest $57 million this summer to provide 29,000 summer jobs for young people. This is almost 5,000 more jobs than last year, jobs that will help young people meet their education expenses and provide them with a wide range of work experience.

The budget is also introducing a cooperative education tax credit of up to $1,000 per co-op work placement, effective September 1 of this year, to enhance student employment opportunities. This refundable tax credit will provide corporations with tax savings equal to 10% of the cost of hiring a student who is participating in a recognized co-op program at an Ontario college or university.

Also, to encourage companies and individuals to contribute funds for Ontario students, every college and university will have the opportunity to establish an Ontario student opportunity trust fund. The province will match donations to these trust funds, and provincial contributions are estimated at nearly $100 million.

By enhancing opportunities for young people to gain work experience in addition to good education, our government is investing in young people's futures. After all, that is the future of Ontario.


Mr Mike Colle (Oakwood): I'm certain that today, and for many more days, weeks and months to come, all the members of the Harris government will be suffering from CFS, crossed fingers syndrome. That's right. All the government members are keeping their fingers crossed, hoping that the tax cut announced in the budget will generate jobs and economic prosperity.

The government is basing its long-term fiscal plan on wishful thinking, and yesterday's budget reconfirmed they have no vision or plan except to offload the responsibilities while giving a hand up to the wealthy.

The government failed to provide any concrete evidence that this tax cut will create jobs. The reality is that based on the government's own projections, the unemployment rate will increase. With the introduction of new user fees and increases in existing fees due to government cuts, most taxpayers will not see one red cent of that money, for it will be eaten up by these user fees.

The government continues to cut every service, program and agency in this province and argues it must do so to fight the deficit. However, it then turns around and borrows more money for a tax cut, which adds $22 billion to the debt and costs $13 billion in the next four years. This does not make sense. The government is gambling with Ontario's future on borrowed money and paying off the wealthy with borrowed money. This does not make sense.


Mr Howard Hampton (Rainy River): The Premier, the Minister of Finance and the Minister of Health tell people over and over again that there is no connection between cuts to health care, education, policing and communities, that these things have nothing to do with the Conservative government's tax break for the wealthy. They should talk to the people of Atikokan and the staff at the Atikokan General Hospital.

Because of budget cuts by the Conservative government, the Atikokan hospital will lose its rehabilitation services, occupational therapy, physiotherapy and speech pathology by December this year. This will mean loss of inpatient and outpatient programs, loss of home care programs and loss of the speech pathology program partnership with the school board.

If the hospital budget cuts scheduled for 1997-98 are implemented, the chronic care beds will be lost. That will mean that chronic care patients will have to be moved to more expensive beds in another community 100 miles away or more. Hospital budget cuts in 1998-99 will mean the loss of acute care programs, obstetrical services, cardiac care, palliative care.

The reduction of acute care service programs will result in the loss of physicians, making it impossible to operate the 24-hour emergency department. The basic primary care services will be a traumatic loss to the community.

Mrs Margaret Marland (Mississauga South): Many constituents are calling me to say how happy they are about the increased funding for health care contained in the Ontario budget. They are particularly grateful for the fact that despite federal government transfer payment cuts in the amount of 42% between now and 1999, our government has increased this year's budget for the Ministry of Health from $17.4 billion to $17.7 billion.

We are also expanding the funding for the early detection and treatment of breast cancer, which affects 6,000 women in Ontario each year. Additional funding will be provided to treat women with breast cancer and ovarian cancer.

We are going to spend $170 million this year to provide seniors and people with disabilities with care at home instead of in institutions. As a result, 80,000 will receive services such as in-home nursing care, housekeeping and meal programs.

We will fund immunization programs for all school children against measles and hepatitis B, in addition to the immunization of seniors and those at high risk against pneumonia.

We are really proud to be adding 23 new magnetic resonance imaging machines which, province-wide, will bring the total to 35, thus helping to reduce the anxiety of long waits for accurate diagnoses of internal illnesses.

The budget's tax cut will give back $270 to a single senior with a total income of $20,000. Our government has promised --

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


The Speaker (Hon Allan K. McLean): I would like to inform the members of the Legislative Assembly that we have in the Speaker's gallery today Mr Juan Salazar, economic counsellor, and Mr Antonio Faer, of the Commercial Office of Peru.

We also have Mr Nikolai Prohoda and Mr Vladimir Andreev from the Russian Federation.

Welcome to our guests.




Mrs Lyn McLeod (Leader of the Opposition): My question is to the Premier. On Monday we asked you to consider a middle-income family of four with two parents, each earning $25,000, and one child attending university, and we suggested to you that when this family gets its tax cut and has to subtract higher property taxes, higher tuition and a whole slew of new user fees, they would have less money in their pockets than they did the day you took office. You said on Monday that was absolutely impossible: "Wait and see what the budget brings." Premier, we've seen what the budget brings. We have the numbers from the tax cut now, so let's see what they show.

They show that this particular family would get $512 from the income tax reduction, but they are likely to have to pay $490 in increased tuition for that child attending university, $30 in increased property taxes, $30 in school board taxes, $444 more for transit fees because of the fee hikes and close to an estimated $200 in new municipal user fees for everything from water charges to fees for garbage pickup.

By the time you add it all up they could face $1,174 in new costs directly resulting from the cuts that you have made. That would leave them with a loss of $662 -- $662 fewer dollars to spend this year. Premier, I wonder if you can tell me how many jobs a net loss of $662 will create.

Hon Michael D. Harris (Premier): I know the Minister of Finance can tell you that.

Hon Ernie L. Eves (Deputy Premier, Minister of Finance and Government House Leader): To the leader of the official opposition, it's interesting that she always tries to pick out the worst-case scenario. I sometimes wonder when she gets up in the morning and the sun is shining if she wonders why it's not pouring rain outside. There are two ways to look at life: a positive way and a negative way, I guess.

I would say to the leader of the official opposition -- I've said this before and I will say it again -- there is no reason for municipalities and local representatives to be dramatically raising property taxes or user fees to accommodate a 2% to 3% reduction in their total expenditures. Surely, they can find a way to restructure, rethink and rationalize the services they provide to their constituents, accommodating a 2% to 3% reduction in the amount of money that they are spending.

Mrs McLeod: There are two ways of looking at the world. One is based on reality and one isn't. Those aren't hypothetical fees that I was talking about, Minister; those are realities of what's happening in communities.

Let me just give you a couple of examples: Otonobee, where they're charging a 75-cent fee to pick up garbage bags; Stoney Creek, Brantford and St Catharines, where they're increasing fees to rent arenas; Peel, where the public school board has a 1.7% increase in its tax rate, and that is an average of $38 annually for ratepayers in that area. That's what's happening, and Minister, I tell you, it is just starting. There are lots more to come.

But you've said, let's talk about worst-case scenarios, so let's talk about a worst-case scenario. I'd suggest seniors in this province. So take a couple on a fixed income of $40,000 and that couple, that senior couple, is going to get back $360 from your tax cut.

Now if we just look at two things: They live in Toronto; they're going to have to pay $528 more for their transit pass. Because of the new user fees on drugs, they're going to pay out about $80 more for their prescriptions. So just to pay for those two things, even if they don't have a tax increase, even if the rent on their apartment doesn't come up, even if they don't have to pay new garbage collection fees, they're going to be out of pocket $248. These are people on fixed incomes, Minister, who watch every penny. Clearly, reducing the disposable incomes of seniors is not going to create jobs. Can you tell me whether you think it's fair to take $248 out of the pockets of a couple on a fixed income?

Hon Mr Eves: To the leader of the official opposition, I certainly hope her numbers today are a lot better than the ones she used in the scrum yesterday because I understand they weren't entirely too accurate.

On the basis of your $80 increase in prescription drug fees I presume you're assuming that the average senior couple has 40 prescriptions a year.

Mrs Elinor Caplan (Oriole): Yes, they do.

Hon Mr Eves: They do?

Mr James J. Bradley (St Catharines): Maybe more.

Hon Mr Eves: I can understand why the leader of the official opposition doesn't want to come to the House today and talk about budgets because it was a good news budget. What she wants to talk about are worst-case scenarios that she had dreamt up with respect to specific people.

Mr Bradley: They're real people.

Hon Mr Eves: I want to tell you something. Talking about real people, I say to the member for St Catharines, for taxpayers who earn between $25,000 and $75,000 a year, they are going to get, as a result of this tax reduction, 64% of the total income tax reductions announced yesterday. They pay 56-point-something per cent of the tax in the province but they are receiving 64% of the tax reductions.

I will also say that more than 91% of Ontario taxpayers are receiving a reduction in their taxes of 30% or more. I don't know what the problem is. For months I heard from the leader of the official opposition, "When you come in with your tax cuts, it's only going to benefit the rich." I'm standing here to tell you today that 91% of Ontario taxpayers are getting 30% or more.

Mrs McLeod: That answer is exactly why I wanted to be in the House today to talk about the budget, because this is a minister who wants to escape to percentages and not talk about real dollars in real families' pockets. That's what I want to talk about.

Let's talk about the best-case scenario in your budget, Minister. Let's talk about the real winners in real dollar terms. Let's talk about the family that has the income of $150,000, the ones who are going to get the really big tax break, the family that's going to get $4,300. They are going to pay the same increased tuition fees, they're going to pay the same increase in user fees for water or for garbage or for recreation -- you name it -- and they will face the Fair Share health tax levy. But even with all this, that family will still come out ahead. They still come out with about $1,281. That's how things work in your budget, Minister. Check the figures.

High-income earners win. Seniors on fixed incomes lose. Middle-income earners lose. That's the reality, because your tax plan is out of whack. I want you to tell me how it is fair that the privileged few in Mike Harris's Ontario --

The Speaker (Hon Allan K. McLean): Order.

Hon Mr Eves: The leader of the official opposition knows full well that there is no correlation whatsoever to the user fees she's talking about or tuition fees or any other fee and the tax cut that was announced in yesterday's budget.


Hon Mr Eves: That's the simple fact. I know you wish it wasn't true, but it is true. I understand their displeasure. Before the budget, the leader of the official opposition was describing the tax cut as "massive," "reckless," "a huge tax slash," "mammoth," "crazy" and "a huge giveaway." Now you're calling it, as of yesterday: "Peanuts. You'll be lucky if you even notice it's there." Which way do you want it? You can't have it both ways.


Mr Gerry Phillips (Scarborough-Agincourt): My question is on the budget as well. It has to do with jobs. I think the Minister of Finance will appreciate that we said this would be the most important element of this budget: the impact on jobs. Your government promised 725,000 jobs over your mandate.

We were very, very disappointed in the job forecast in the budget. It's on page 39. What it shows is that in 1998, three years into your mandate, there will be more people out of work in the province than when you came to office in 1995 -- a very dismal job forecast, by your own numbers. These are the numbers in your budget: more people out of work in Ontario in 1998, three years into your mandate, than when you took office. For us, this is the most disappointing part of your budget, and one that we think is inexplicable and indefensible.

How could you present a budget that means there will be more people out of work in 1998 in the province of Ontario than in 1995?

Hon Ernie L. Eves (Deputy Premier, Minister of Finance and Government House Leader): The honourable member, because he takes great interest in these matters and generally tries to do his homework in these matters, will certainly know that every year as we go on, there are more people coming on the rolls looking for employment in the province.



Hon Mr Eves: Yes, there are, I say to the honourable member. If he wants to look at that page in the document he's talking about, the supporting 150 pages, which, by the way, we're the first government ever to do on presentation of a budgetary document in the province of Ontario --

Mr Phillips: That's nonsense.

Hon Mr Eves: There is no way you ever did that, and you know that. We're the first government to ever introduce the report that we filed with the US securities commission. You know that too.

Anyway, getting back to the honourable member's question, he knows that in that very document he's talking about it shows the percentage, the number of people coming on stream looking for employment, getting greater every year from 1995 to 1998. He also knows that in the last seven months there have been 75,000 net new jobs created in the province of Ontario, and he knows that on that basis, over the term of our government, we will far exceed 725,000 jobs.

Mr Phillips: Frankly, it is a sham. The numbers that the government has in its budget will come nowhere close to hitting your promised 725,000 jobs. You are falling far, far behind. You are seeing, by your own numbers, fewer than 300,000 jobs created in this province in your first three years.

The Premier is shaking his head no. He's wrong. You are wrong. I challenge you to prove me wrong. You're wrong, Premier; fewer than 300,000 jobs in your first three years.

The question is this: Are you now abandoning your target of 725,000 jobs now that you have proven that in your first three years you will create fewer than 300,000 jobs, fewer than 100,000 jobs a year? You are way behind your target. You are now seeing more people out of work than when you came to office. Your promise is a sham. Will you now at least acknowledge that you have abandoned your 725,000 job creation and that this budget will not deliver the promised increased jobs that you promised a mere few months ago during the campaign?

Hon Mr Eves: The honourable member will know that those projections with respect to job figures are extremely prudent, extremely cautious, do not take into account a tax cut and are the identical numbers that were used in the November 29 statement. He will also know that the fact that I just mentioned to him in answer to his initial question, that we have created 75,000 net new jobs in the last seven months in this province, is also a fact, and on an annualized basis the economy of the province of Ontario will produce, the private sector will produce, more than sufficient jobs to achieve our target of 725,000 jobs.

But I say to the honourable member that surely the honourable member is not complaining that private industry is creating jobs in the Ontario economy and that more Ontarians are going to be given the opportunity and dignity of a job so they can contribute to Ontario society.

Mr Phillips: I'm complaining because your promise was a fraud and you're not delivering it. Today we finally heard the admission. What the Minister of Finance said was that unless things improve, unless things are better than the budget projects, you are not going to hit your 725,000 jobs. That's what you said. If the numbers in this document come true, you're not going to hit the numbers. That's what you confirmed today.

Will you now, Minister of Finance, confirm that unless the economy does significantly better than you have in here, you now are abandoning your job promise of 725,000 jobs, because that's what you said in your answer to my question?

Hon Mr Eves: I said no such thing. I said at the current rate the province's economy is creating over 10,000 new jobs a month. As a matter of fact, the honourable member probably also knows, but didn't refer to it in his question, for some reason, that the private sector alone in the last nine months has created 90,000 jobs in the Ontario economy; that's 300 jobs a day, every single day of the week, that the private sector is creating and has created in the last nine months, and that's before a tax reduction.

I'll be more than happy to stand in my place a year from now and discuss with him how many jobs have or haven't been created by private enterprise in the Ontario economy, and we'll see who's on target and who isn't on target to meet 725,000 jobs.

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

Ms Frances Lankin (Beaches-Woodbine): I want to follow on that line of questioning but I want to direct my question to the Premier. The Premier seems very anxious to answer the question from the member for Scarborough-Agincourt, so perhaps he'll take the opportunity and answer the question as I put it forward.

I want to talk about the 725,000 jobs, because it's the only number that doesn't appear anywhere in your budget. I thought for sure I would see it, so when I got the budget I looked through it and it was nowhere to be found. I thought perhaps you had a new job projection number, so I looked all through the budget and couldn't find anything. Finally I asked your officials what the job projection numbers were and whether they could be found anywhere. They said, "Oh yes, sure," took out a briefing book, opened it up and showed us that over the first four years of your government, by the end of that time you will produce 289,000 jobs. That number is not in the budget, it's not in the budget papers --

The Speaker: Order. Put the signs down, please. Put them down.

Ms Lankin: That number is not in the budget, it's not in the budget papers, it's not in the budget highlights, it's not in Ontario Finances; it's nowhere to be seen.

The Speaker: This is a place for debate, not to demonstrate. Please put the signs down. I would ask the honourable members to put their signs down.

Ms Lankin: The budget provides job growth percentages of 1.5% in 1996 and 2% in 1998. I say to the Premier, what you say to the people of Ontario essentially is, "You figure out what that means in terms of numbers," because the 289,000 doesn't show anywhere.

I know it must be really embarrassing for you to --

The Speaker: The question has been asked.

Ms Lankin: On a point of order, Mr Speaker: The question has not been asked. I am just about to put it.

The Speaker: Would you put your question.

Ms Lankin: I understand it must be embarrassing to abandon that promise, but the number is nowhere.

Premier, my question is, what is your motive for hiding the true impact of your budget on jobs and on the hundreds of thousands of Ontarians who are either looking for work or who are going to lose their jobs because of your cuts to the public sector to pay for the tax cut?

Hon Michael D. Harris (Premier): The Minister of Finance can answer that question.

Hon Mr Eves: The honourable member for Beaches-Woodbine will know that the basis upon which anything appears in a budgetary document or a financial projection document --

The Speaker: Order. The member for Welland-Thorold, I will not warn him again with regard to the signs in the Legislature.

Hon Mr Eves: Projections are based on cautious and prudent --

The Speaker: Order. I warned the member for Welland-Thorold. I feel bad, but I will have to name the member for Welland-Thorold.

Mr Kormos was escorted from the chamber.

The Speaker: The Minister of Finance.

Hon Mr Eves: The approach we have taken with respect to projections is based on prudent and cautious economic assumptions.

Mr Bud Wildman (Algoma): As opposed to your wild and crazy numbers.

Hon Mr Eves: Just a minute. We did the same thing in the July 21 statement and exceeded the target we had set for ourselves; we did the same thing in the November 29 statement and exceeded the target we had set for ourselves; we have set targets -- you're quite correct -- in the 1996-97 budgetary documents and we will be prepared to stand here and be judged on whether we achieve those targets or whether we don't on an annualized basis and again be judged on whether we achieve our targets or whether we don't at the end of our mandate.


Ms Lankin: I'm disappointed that the Premier, who seemed to want to interject and answer our questions, wouldn't stand up and answer the questions, because it's his promise of the 725,000 jobs.

But I say to the Minister of Finance, you've now given us new projections then; you've abandoned the 725,000 jobs. Well, you shake your head no, but either you're going for 725,000 jobs, which means then you have no faith in the projections that you put in the budget -- in fact, you're not even close: 289,000 jobs compared to 725,000 jobs. Those numbers aren't even remotely close. You want us to close our eyes and just believe in the Common Sense Revolution and hope that your budget numbers aren't right.

I guess my question to the finance minister is, is this an isolated case? Can you tell me, are there any other figures in the budget that you expect will be as far off the mark as you've just told us your job creation projections in the budget will be?

Hon Mr Eves: I just got through saying that any assumptions we make about the economy have been very prudent, very cautious, as we were advised to do by the Ontario Financial Review Commission. And I might say that we're setting aside for the first time a contingency reserve fund, for example, of $650 million a year in case certain things happen in the economy that the province of Ontario cannot control. This year we're setting aside $900 million in a restructuring fund to allow for restructuring at all levels of government and to account for one-time costs.

I think we've taken a very prudent and a very cautious approach. I've just told you, or your honourable colleague -- I presume you listened to the answer -- what the actual job creation numbers have been in the Ontario economy for the last seven months on a net basis and for the last nine months by the private sector. On any measure, according to that basis, and averaging it out over the next four or five years of our mandate, we indeed will exceed the target of 725,000 jobs.

Ms Lankin: In the Common Sense Revolution you promised 725,000 jobs. In the budget you say 289,000 jobs. You stand up here and say you're going to exceed 725,000 jobs and you're going to do it by putting some money in a reserve fund and a few -- how does that help the people of Ontario who are unemployed today, who are looking for a job? Your budget doesn't focus on jobs at all.

It's worth remembering that in the Common Sense Revolution, that number of 725,000 which you put forward, you stood up and said that was a certified guarantee. You presented the names of Conservative Bay Street economists who said that would be the inevitable result of your revolutionary program. I guess there should have been a footnote that said, "This promise will be cut in half once competent officials get to look at it."

Mr Finance Minister, we're not surprised that we won't be seeing 725,000 jobs, given how busy you are chopping services and chopping public service jobs out there. You don't have any time left in your government's agenda to actually focus on job creation.

You've announced $8 billion in cuts so far. We know there's much more pain to come as you face the task every year of having to pay for that tax cut. We know there's more pain, but we don't know how much because, once again, you haven't put the numbers in the budget, you haven't given us a hint of what your plans are after the current fiscal year.

My question is, do you have any idea how much more you're going to have to be cutting to balance the budget, and when are you going to let the people of Ontario in on this big secret?

Hon Mr Eves: There is no big secret. Expenditure reductions were outlined in the November 29 statement. My colleague the Chair of Management Board outlined for you a few weeks ago the progress that's been made to date.

Ms Lankin: You said yesterday there would be more.

Hon Mr Eves: Nobody said that. I said we would be carrying out the planned reductions announced in the November 29 statement, which you were brought up to date on about two or three weeks ago by the Chair of Management Board in this place.

The honourable member has a very short memory. The last six years that her government and the previous administration were in power, they created exactly no new net jobs in the last six years: five years of that administration, one year of that one, zero jobs -- zero. In the last seven months alone, the Ontario economy has created 75,000 net new jobs in seven months. Does that indicate a slight change in attitude in the business community and in the investment community?

I firmly believe that the best job creation program is allowing taxpayers to keep more of their hard-earned money. I firmly believe that five million Ontario taxpayers will make their own personal decisions how to spend that money and that they will spend it much more effectively and much more wisely than any make-work temporary job creation program any government might do anywhere at any time.


Mr Bud Wildman (Algoma): I have a question of the Minister of Finance. In referring to memory, we remember what he said yesterday, and what he said yesterday was that there could be more cuts. I'd like to draw the minister's attention to the document that was part of the material given out yesterday, the examples of different people at various income levels who would get tax cuts and what the tax cuts would be.

I'd like to look at the effects of the tax cut in July 1996. For your example number 2, the family of four, one earner with an income of $25,000 and two children -- let's say this individual lives in Sudbury -- you point out that the tax saving after three years would be $295. By our calculations the tax saving for this year, starting in July, is $22. That works out to $1.70 for every two weeks, per paycheque.

Because of property tax increases already announced in Sudbury, they are going to have to pay $75 more. Adult transit fees in Sudbury will mean they will pay $76 more a year. This means that because of your government and the changes that have been brought in and the effects of those changes in terms of user fees, which is what they're going to be paying, and property taxes, which is what they're going to be paying, this family will be out more than $200.

The day before yesterday the Premier said everybody would be better off on Tuesday as a result of the budget. Can you explain how this family, the very example you used, living in Sudbury, is better off as a result of the budget, starting this year?

Hon Ernie L. Eves (Deputy Premier, Minister of Finance and Government House Leader): That family he just speaks of is $295 better off at the end of implementation, at the end of implementation, than they were before.

The honourable member I know wants to confuse the provincial income tax reduction of yesterday by injecting other things that other people decide to invoke on their constituents. That is their decision. I'm telling you that as a result of the budget yesterday and as a result of the tax reduction, that family in example number 2, after the first two cuts in this fiscal year, will get a tax reduction -- that is July 1 and January 1; we do operate in fiscal years around here -- will be $285 better off, and at the end of full implementation will be $295 better off, and that will equate to a 57.4% savings in the amount of provincial income tax they pay.

Mr Wildman: I'm not trying to confuse anything. The fact is that when you take into account the user fee increases and the property tax increases that have come as a direct result of the cuts in transfer payments by this government, and as a matter of fact as a result of the very powers you gave the municipalities in Bill 26, they've made these increases.

Let's look at another example. Let's take the city of London as an example. We'll take a single man earning an income of $35,000. The actual tax cut for 1996 is $105 or about $8 a paycheque. His property taxes have increased by a little over $61. If he gets married, his licence fee will be $22. If he goes to college to improve his job skills, as you all want him to do, it's going to cost him an extra $84 because of increased tuition fees. This young man will have a net decrease of $63, with all the changes as of July.



The Speaker: The member for Dufferin-Peel, come to order.

Mr Wildman: How is this person better off because of the increase in tuition fees, user fees, licence fees and property taxes which are a result of the cuts already announced by your government?

Hon Mr Eves: Decisions which regional or local governments make on their own to account for a 2% to 3% reduction in their total expenditures is their responsibility. I happen to think that municipalities, school boards and other local representatives can deal with 2% to 3% reduction in their total expenditures without raising user fees, without raising local taxes. If they choose to do so, they will have to answer to their constituents when they come up for re-election, the same as we will answer to our constituents.

But I can tell you that as a result of the budget tax reduction measures announced yesterday, a single individual under 65 years of age with no dependants and employment income of $35,000 will have, when the tax reduction is fully implemented, $875 a year, or a 30.2% tax reduction.

Mr Howard Hampton (Rainy River): This is so phoney. You are completely phoney.

The Speaker: The member for Rainy River, come to order.

Mr Wildman: This is really something to hear from a finance minister who only yesterday in his own budget address complained about the cuts in transfer payments from the federal government and what effect it was having on you. You've done exactly the same thing to the municipalities. You can't say they're not related.

The Premier's very fond of saying there's only one taxpayer. Well, there is only one taxpayer, and they're getting shafted as a result of what you've done.


The Speaker: The member for London North, come to order.

Mr Wildman: Let's take another example: a single parent of two children who earns $30,000. The real tax cut in 1996 is $45 or about $3.50 a paycheque. Living in Metropolitan Toronto, she faces a property tax increase of 30 bucks. She faces transit increases of $344. That means she's going to have less than $328 less.

Hon Mr Eves: You don't have the federal income tax.

Mr Wildman: No, you cut back on transit, not the feds.

The Treasurer can't get away with this. He can't say these increases in property taxes and the user fees at the municipal level have nothing to do with him. They have everything to do with your cuts in transfer payments. You can't get away with this.

This person is going to be out at least $328 this year. We haven't counted in all the possible increases that might be there, and you said there may be further cuts. How can you continue to say, as the Premier did on Monday, that this person living in Metropolitan Toronto is better off as a result of your budget? They're paying more and they're getting less.

Hon Mr Eves: The group of people he is concerned about, and I share his concern, income earners between $25,000 and $75,000 a year, when this tax reduction is fully implemented will receive $3 billion a year less of a tax burden in provincial income tax than they did before we started.


The Speaker: The member for Rainy River.

Hon Mr Eves: The earner he's talking about, the example he's talking about, a sole-support parent with one child, with employment income of $30,000 and assuming $5,000 in child care expenses, at the end of the implementation will get a tax reduction of $400 on an annualized basis, or 35.1%.

I just have one more comment for the leader of the third party. Coming from a party, from a government, that left us and the people of Ontario with an $11.2-billion deficit, coming from a party sitting beside a party that over the last 10 years increased taxes 65 times in the province, 11 in provincial income taxes alone, how dare you have the gall to talk about tax increases and increased expenditures? You have a lot of nerve.


Mr Gerry Phillips (Scarborough-Agincourt): My question is to the Premier and has to do with the budget. Another interesting page in the budget for many people was the page that indicated that for the next four years you'll continue to run significant deficits. It's on page 43. You can see that over the next four years it is your government's plan to add about $22 billion to the debt of the province, a substantial increase in the debt of the province. Using your calculations, I think over that period of time, just to pay the interest on that increased debt, the province of Ontario taxpayers will have to spend about $5 billion.

If the deficit and debt are such a huge problem and if it is the number one fiscal issue, after jobs, for the province to tackle, can you explain to the people of Ontario why we should be borrowing billions and billions and billions of dollars to fund the tax cut when we have to pay interest on that tax cut borrowing?

Hon Michael D. Harris (Premier): I know the Minister of Finance would be pleased to answer that.


The Speaker (Hon Allan K. McLean): The member for Essex South is out of order.


The Speaker: It's your time.

Hon Ernie L. Eves (Deputy Premier, Minister of Finance and Government House Leader): The honourable member for Scarborough-Agincourt knows full well that because of the accumulated debt, which is now approaching $100 billion, those costs are going to go up every single year until the budget is balanced, until the deficit is eliminated on an annualized basis in the province of Ontario. And yes, he's quite correct. It is estimated that is going to require another anywhere from $19 billion to $22 billion to be added to the accumulated debt in the province of Ontario.

But I would say to him that if we had merely left in place the same philosophy, spending habits, programs and taxation precedents set by you and you, we would be adding at least $10 billion a year in deficits. Over five years, that's $50 billion. We would have added about another $10 billion in increased public debt interest costs. We would have spent another $60 billion doing it your way, which didn't work.

Mr Phillips: The Minister of Finance clearly doesn't want to answer the question. The question is very simple.


Mr Phillips: No, you didn't answer the question. The fact is that the province of Ontario, the taxpayers of Ontario, are going to have to borrow billions and billions and billions of dollars to pay for the tax cut, the interest on it.


Here's the issue: I had a couple come to my office the other day who have had their support cut from $1,000 a month to $800 a month and have to move out of their apartment into a basement apartment. Why? "To fight the deficit and the debt." That's the answer. "We have such a huge problem in this province. You leave your apartment." They're about 60 years old. They've lost their jobs, they've lost their business, they're moving into a basement apartment. Why? To fight the deficit and the debt. But at the same time yesterday, someone in this province making $150,000 a year gets a $5,000-a-year tax break.

Those are your numbers. We can find $5,000 a year, we can borrow $5,000 a year to give that person a tax break, but we can't afford to help people who are desperate and who have to move into a basement apartment.

My question is very simple: How can we afford to borrow those billions and billions of dollars to pay for the tax break if the deficit and debt is such a big problem?

Hon Mr Eves: Very simply, to the honourable member for Scarborough-Agincourt, the annualized interest cost on the accumulated debt, which tripled between 1985 and 1995, by the way, is approaching $9 billion a year, and that is why we are borrowing money. The previous tax-and-spend philosophies of the last 10 years have accumulated a debt of close to $100 billion and left your children and your grandchildren saddled with this legacy of debt. That is why we are borrowing money -- not for any tax cut -- to pay the interest on your unbalanced credit card of $100 billion.


Mr Bud Wildman (Algoma): I'd like to go to the Premier referring to the same document that I referred to a moment ago, a budget backgrounder that was given out yesterday with the examples, and I'd like to go to the first example. This is a senior citizen with a total income of $20,000 from old age security and a pension. The saving, according to the document after full implementation, is $270 after three years. But in 1996 this individual will get a whopping $35.

Now, let's say this person lives in Hamilton. I want to point out a couple of examples here that relate directly to the provincial government's funding. In Hamilton, this individual would use DARTS, the Disabled and Aged Regional Transit System, three times a week to go to the seniors' centre, doctor's appointment, shopping and other things. Due to your government's cutbacks to DARTS, the service has raised its rates by 40 cents a ride and added a new registration fee of $15. That's an extra $130 a year directly related to your funding.

Also this senior, if she uses prescription drugs under the Ontario drug benefit plan, using six different prescription drugs in a month, that would mean an extra charge of $144 per year. That adds up to $272 in extra fees per year. She gets $35 this year. That means she's losing, as a result of your government, $239 this year in less income. How can you still claim, Mr Premier, that this individual is better off now than she was on Monday?

Hon Michael D. Harris (Premier): The question deals with the budget, and the man who drafted it should answer.

Hon Ernie L. Eves (Deputy Premier, Minister of Finance and Government House Leader): The leader of the third party knows that if you're talking about the tax reduction measures announced in the budget yesterday, that individual he speaks of, at the end of full implementation, will save on their provincial income tax $270 on an annualized basis or 30.2%.

Mr Wildman: The fact is, she's still out $239 this year, and it's the government's own example. We didn't just make it up.


The Speaker (Hon Allan K. McLean): The member for Cochrane North. The member for Oriole.

Mr Wildman: Yesterday, as a result of the budget, the Ontario Coalition of Senior Citizens' Organizations said the following: "With the continuous cutting of services, new user fees and impending closures of health care facilities, Mike Harris has decided to implement a budget that rewards the rich and punishes the poor."

Seniors are going to have to pay higher user fees, a direct result of your government's cuts. Will you not admit that an individual like the example you pointed out in your budget backgrounder is worse off now as a result of everything that's happened since last July -- July, November, and yesterday's budget?

Hon Mr Eves: Talking about health care and seniors in Ontario, I know it must dismay the honourable member to have learned yesterday that the budget for the Ministry of Health this year is $17.7 billion, $300 million more than we promised to deliver in the election campaign.

Mr Dominic Agostino (Hamilton East): Tell that to the nurses you laid off, Ernie. Tell that to the nurses.

The Speaker: The member for Hamilton East.

Hon Mr Eves: We are doing exactly what we said we'd do. As we find savings in the health care field, the Minister of Health is reinvesting them in new technologies and new programs, including, I might add, $170 million in this fiscal year alone to help senior citizens and disabled people in the province of Ontario. Surely he is aware of that. Why didn't you take those amounts, that $300 million and that $170 million, into account in your calculations?


Mr John R. Baird (Nepean): My question is to the Minister of Municipal Affairs and Housing. The government introduced in its budget some good news for first-time home buyers across the province of Ontario. Could the minister outline the specifics about this important initiative, how it will work and who is eligible for this new program?

Hon Al Leach (Minister of Municipal Affairs and Housing): I thank the member for his question. It's nice to have a question from somebody who recognizes how good that budget really was yesterday.

I can tell the member that there was some fantastic news in yesterday's budget for first-time home buyers in Ontario. Effective May 7, 1996, to March 31, 1997, first-time home buyers of newly constructed homes will receive a refund of their land transfer tax up to a maximum of $1,750. The first-time home buyers must be over 18 years of age and cannot have previously owned an interest in a house. Coupled with lower interest rates and more affordable pricing, this rebate will help bring home ownership within the reach of thousands of Ontario families.

Mr Baird: I think that's good news for hardworking Ontarians struggling to realize their dream of owning their own home, a dream that's become harder and harder, out of reach. The land transfer rebate coupled with the tax cuts will help thousands of families realize their goal of home ownership.

Could the minister tell this House what effect this will have on the construction sector? In my region, the construction industry is experiencing some very difficult times. Could the minister tell this House the reaction he has received from the many stakeholders regarding this rebate?

Hon Mr Leach: I had an opportunity to speak to members of the Ontario Home Builders' Association yesterday, and I can tell you they're absolutely ecstatic with this news. The industry has stated that for every $1,000 reduction in the cost of new homes, some 1,500 new construction jobs are created, jobs that will also be created by furnishings, fridges, stoves, everything else that goes into the construction of a new home. We think this is absolutely great news for the construction industry, retailers and everybody in Ontario.



Mr James J. Bradley (St Catharines): My question is for the Minister of Finance. Years ago, the government of Ontario introduced gambling in the form of lotteries. I think the Wintario ticket in those days cost a dollar or something like that. Despite the opposition of the Premier and the Treasurer, and very honest opposition, I know, to casino gambling, we had casino gambling introduced by the next government, and that is a situation we must face today; those are situations we face today. That represented, however, an escalation in the gambling scene.

Now, and I find this difficult to believe, you are introducing the most insidious form of gambling, video gambling machines, in bars across this province, among other places. They're known as VLTs. They provide instant gratification to those who are addicted to gambling. Why, Minister, have you abandoned -- and I see the answer coming in. He's always got an answer from the whip. I really and honestly respected the position that you took. Why, Minister, have you abandoned your own personal views, views I have respected, to prey upon the most vulnerable and the most desperate people in our society?

Hon Ernie L. Eves (Deputy Premier, Minister of Finance and Government House Leader): The reference to video lottery terminals in the budget really was in response to having control over the 15,000 to 16,000 -- the OPP's estimate -- illegal video lottery terminals operating in the province today which are not subject to any sort of regulation or control whatsoever.

Also, with respect to charity --

Ms Frances Lankin (Beaches-Woodbine): Beef up your law enforcement.

Hon Mr Eves: You should talk. You were there when they were injected into Ontario society.

The reality is that there are 15,000 to 16,000 illegal VLTs operating in the province of Ontario right now. What we are proposing are VLTs in a very controlled and monitored atmosphere, controlled by the Ontario Lottery Corp. We will then be in a position to decide whether or not that VLT network should be expanded. But right now, quite frankly, illegal gaming activity is growing like Topsy in Ontario. There are no controls over it and this will tightly monitor and control VLT machines and having, I might add, the combined impact of providing charitable organizations in the province with upwards of an additional $180 million a year in revenues.

Mr Bradley: That is like saying that because people are robbing banks, we should make robbing banks legal. That wouldn't make sense.

I remember the many excellent speeches you and the Premier made on the evils of gambling and particularly government-sponsored gambling. I know the government will gain hundreds of millions of dollars from this, and I know Treasurers want to see that happen, and I know that the charities you say are going to gain will gain as well, and I know that those who own the buildings are going to gain.

But you know that the people who will play these machines will be the people who are most desperate: people who aren't well-connected in our society so they can get jobs, because they don't know the powerful and the privileged people; people who often didn't have the chance to get an education; people who are addicted to gambling. How can you justify embarking upon this ill-advised policy which will end up being a tax on the poor, the disadvantaged, the desperate in this province?

Hon Mr Eves: I would like to bring to the honourable member's attention comments by the executive director of the Canadian Foundation on Compulsive Gambling. Upon hearing that the provincial government is planning on setting aside 2% of video lottery terminal revenues to establish a comprehensive program on a problem and compulsive gambling strategy that will include public awareness, prevention, treatment and research components, he said, and I quote: "After 14 years of struggling alone to place the issue of problem and compulsive gambling in the consciousness of the gaming providers in Ontario, a light finally begins to shine at the end of the tunnel of the problem of compulsive gambling."


Ms Frances Lankin (Beaches-Woodbine): I want to return to the finance minister. In my previous question I talked about some of the numbers that weren't there, and specifically I referred to the fact that nowhere in your budget was there any projection on jobs. Something else that is missing from your budget is any detailed information on how on earth you plan to meet the fiscal targets you've set out.

With economic growth projected at a mere 1.9% and 2.8%, revenues are down from what you had projected earlier. The Common Sense Revolution fiscal plan is based on much higher economic growth. In spite of the change in economic outlook, you still plan to meet those fiscal targets, but you don't tell us how. When we take a look at this, we figure you either miss your fiscal targets or you're going to have to cut more than the $8 billion to meet those fiscal targets.

You indicated in media comments yesterday that you don't deny that there may be more cuts, and yet in response to my question earlier you seemed to be indicating that there will not be more cuts. Will you stand in your place today and tell us which way it is? Are you saying that there will not be any more cuts in addition to the $8 billion you have set out already?

Hon Ernie L. Eves (Deputy Premier, Minister of Finance and Government House Leader): We have been very prudent and cautious in our forecasting, and we've done that deliberately. The honourable member is quite correct in pointing out that we are projecting, on a very prudent and cautious basis, growth in the GDP in the province of Ontario of 1.9% for this coming fiscal year. She will also know that in our July 21 statement we made certain projections, and we exceeded those. She will know that in our November 29 statement we made some projections; we exceeded those. I have every reason to believe we will exceed the growth projections outlined in the 1996-97 budget.

She also knows it is very difficult to project figures much beyond a two-year period of time. That is what the federal government does on a regular basis when presenting its budget. That is what we are doing here. I have every reason to believe we will meet the targets set in our budgetary document of yesterday.

Ms Lankin: The only conclusion you can draw is that the targets you set out in the Common Sense Revolution weren't prudent or cautious. Of course, we already knew that.

My question to you was, any more cuts or no more cuts? Are you saying there may be more cuts or there definitely won't be more cuts? Yesterday you said to the media that you don't deny that there may be more cuts. That's not what your Premier said. Your Premier, when the announcements came out around the $8 billion, said directly in this House and directly to the media: "That's it. No more cuts. We've done all the cutting we need to do. The spending problem is fixed in this province."

Yesterday's budget really flies in the face of everything your government has been saying. What we did see in the budget is that the tax cut won't pay for itself, contrary to what your Premier said. It will cost about $22 billion over the course of the next number of years, by the time you implement it; it will cost about $5 billion a year annually. Revenue growth in your medium-term fiscal plan is based on economic forecasts that show no growth as a result of your tax cut, again contrary to what your Premier said.

There are more cuts coming. There have to be because your deficit targets bear no relation to the revenue projections minus the spending reductions you have so far announced. Will you reveal to the people of Ontario how you plan to meet your deficit reduction plan and when you will announce the next round of cuts that we all know will be coming?

Hon Mr Eves: I can't announce that because we don't all know -- at least I don't know -- that will be coming. We have made certain cautious and prudent projections in the budgetary document. We will meet those projections that are outlined in the budgetary document. It's that simple.

Talking about adding $22 billion to the deficit, which she alluded to in her question, boy, I'll tell you, from a government that left the people of Ontario for the past fiscal year with an $11.2-billion deficit for one year alone and $9 billion in interest costs for that one year alone, there's $20 billion right there in one year. What are you talking about?




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 those who have signed this petition.


Ms Marilyn Churley (Riverdale): I have a petition with hundreds and hundreds of signatures from people to the Legislature of Ontario.

"Whereas the matter of selling Ontario Hydro is likely to come before the Legislature in the near future; and

"Whereas we are residents of Ontario who have paid for Ontario Hydro; and

"Whereas we are concerned that privatization will lead to higher rates, lower reliability and will compromise nuclear safety;

"Therefore we, the undersigned, do petition the Legislature of Ontario to preserve public ownership of Ontario Hydro by refusing to sell it."

I affix my signature to this petition.


Mr Rob Sampson (Mississauga West): I have a petition to the Legislative Assembly of Ontario.

"Whereas the Ministry of Community and Social Services is undertaking a review of the child care system in Ontario;

"We, the undersigned, do petition the Legislative Assembly of Ontario to restore stability and balance to the child care system by:

"(1) Ensuring that all licensed child care providers are treated equally, with all sectors having the same benefits and responsibilities;

"(2) Ensuring that all licensed child care centre staff receive the same benefits from government, specifically the wage enhancement grants;

"(3) Ensuring that all funds go directly to the provision of care for children and families in need."

I affix my signature.


Mr Rick Bartolucci (Sudbury): "To the Legislative Assembly of Ontario:

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

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

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

I have signed my name to the petition as I believe in it.


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

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

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

"Minister, people in smaller towns need bus service just as much as people in big cities. We depend upon buses to visit friends and family, to get to appointments in nearby towns, to ship our Christmas presents and to receive our repair parts.

"The undersigned call upon the members of the Legislative Assembly to oppose bus deregulation and the elimination of our bus service."

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


Mr Leo Jordan (Lanark-Renfrew): I have a petition I'm presenting on behalf of the Honourable Robert Runciman, Solicitor General. It's from Leeds-Grenville to the Legislative Assembly of Ontario.

"We, the undersigned residents of Legion Village 96, a community of veterans, seniors and physically challenged, are concerned that our homes will be lost because of the government's cuts to non-profit housing projects and will undermine their financial liability. Low-income families and the most vulnerable in our communities will suffer devastating hardship because of cuts to the numbers of needy people receiving rent-geared-to-income assistance and increased rents for those currently receiving such assistance.

"We call upon you to stop these government actions that seriously jeopardize our futures and the ongoing viability of our non-profit housing committee."


Mr Dominic Agostino (Hamilton East): I have a petition signed by constituents of my riding of Hamilton East in regard to rent control. The petition reads:

"We, the undersigned, believe that rent control abolition would lead to a steep rise in rents due to a persistent shortage of affordable housing in Hamilton-Wentworth.

"Tenants, who were among the most affected by ongoing mass layoffs, wage cuts and hiring freezes, and senior citizens on fixed incomes, will suffer greatly if rent controls are abolished.

"We are not in favour of the abolition of rent controls by this government and would urge this government to reconsider this action."

I sign my name to the petition.


Mr Bernard Grandmaître (Ottawa East): I have a petition that reads:

"Whereas the people of Ontario are being subjected to the most drastic reduction 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 the province."

I have signed the petition.


Mr Rob Sampson (Mississauga West): I have another petition to present on behalf of the member for Mississauga North as a result of a petition created by the parents of Middlebury public school and other residents of Mississauga concerning the overcrowding issue in that particular school, and I put my signature to the petition.


Mrs Elinor Caplan (Oriole): I have a petition to the Honourable the Lieutenant Governor and the Legislative Assembly of Ontario.

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

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

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

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

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

I affix my signature to this important petition.


Mr Mike Colle (Oakwood): "To the Legislature of Ontario:

"Whereas the Harris government is planning to remove rent controls; and

"Whereas removal of rent control legislation breaks a campaign promise made by Conservatives during the election; and

"Whereas a great number of tenants are seniors and people on fixed incomes who may have had their income cut by 22% due to social assistance cuts and cannot afford an increase in their rent; and

"Whereas growing unemployment and the scarcity of affordable housing in Metro makes removal of rent controls an even greater disaster for tenants and for people who cannot afford to buy homes;

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

"That the government of Ontario keep its pre-election promise and not remove rent controls, and continue with the Landlord and Tenant Act and Rental Housing Protection Act."

I affix my name to this petition.


Mr Pat Hoy (Essex-Kent): "To the Legislative Assembly of Ontario:

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

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

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

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

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

This petition is signed by a number of residents of Kent and Chatham.



Mr Joseph Cordiano (Lawrence): To the government of Ontario:

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

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

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

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

"Whereas the LCBO provides a wide selection of 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 over the sale of liquor and spirits to private liquor stores and retain the LCBO for this purpose."


Mr John O'Toole (Durham East): I rise to present a petition to the Parliament of Ontario.

"We, the undersigned, petition the Parliament of Ontario to not proceed with the privatization of Ontario Hydro, especially the nuclear component which represents a potential safety threat to the people of Ontario, especially those in the Darlington area, in any unregulated environment."


Mr Pat Hoy (Essex-Kent): 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 have affixed my signature to it.


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

"Whereas the Harris government is planning to remove rent controls; and

"Whereas the removal of rent control legislation breaks a campaign promise made by the Conservatives during the election; and

"Whereas a great number of tenants are seniors and people on fixed incomes and many have had their incomes cut by 22% due to social assistance cuts and cannot afford increases in their rents; and

"Whereas growing unemployment and the scarcity of affordable housing in Metro makes the removal of rent control an even greater disaster for tenants and for people who cannot afford to buy homes;

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

"That the government of Ontario keep their pre-election promise and not remove rent controls and continue with the Landlord and Tenant Act and Rental Housing Protection Act."

I support this petition and I add my signature to it.


Mr Michael Gravelle (Port Arthur): "To the Legislature of Ontario:

"Whereas the matter of selling Ontario Hydro is likely to come before the Legislature in the near future; and

"Whereas we, the undersigned residents of Ontario, who have, through the payment of electricity rates, paid for Ontario Hydro, are concerned about privatization of Ontario Hydro, leading to higher rates, lower reliability and compromised nuclear safety,

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

"Please preserve the public ownership of Ontario Hydro and refuse to sell this important public asset."

I am proud to sign my name to it.



Mr Laughren from the standing committee on government agencies presented the committee's ninth report.

The Speaker (Hon Allan K. McLean): Does the Chair wish to make a brief statement? Pursuant to standing order 106(g)11, the report is deemed to be adopted by the House.



Mr David Johnson moved first reading of the following bill:

Bill 48, An Act to implement the International Fuel Tax Agreement / Projet de loi 48, Loi mettant en oeuvre l'accord appelé International Fuel Tax Agreement.


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

Hon David Johnson (Chair of the Management Board of Cabinet): I wish to say, since I'm asked from the opposite side, that this bill will enable Ontario to join all other Canadian provinces and most American states as a member of IFTA, the international fuel tax agreement. This will enable the interjurisdictional truck and bus companies to participate in a streamlined decal, registration and fuel tax system and greatly reduce their costs. The bill is consistent with cutting red tape and is supported by the trucking industry in the province of Ontario.



Resuming the adjourned debate on the motion that this House approves in general the budgetary policy of the government.

Mrs Lyn McLeod (Leader of the Opposition): We have finally, after almost a year of this new government, had the government present a budget. They have spent a great deal of time and have worked very hard to present something they might call their good-news budget.

They have spent almost a year slashing and burning, destroying programs and services that have taken years to build in this province. In the 10 months that this government has been in office, it has inflicted more pain on more people than any government in history. They have raised anxiety and frustration and sheer anger to new heights; now they have something to offer that the government believes people will think is good news at last.

I find myself wondering today, if this budget is such good news, why did the Premier have to spend so much time before he brought out the budget trying to sell it? Why did he have to work so hard trying to create a fertile climate his good news could fall on so that it would be well received?

You have to wonder why the headlines that were leading up to this supposed good-news budget were so sceptical. I brought just a sample of these headlines.

From the Toronto Star: "Harris' Faith in Tax Cuts More Mystical Than Factual."

"Damn the Torpedoes." "It's full speed ahead for the Tories' tax cuts despite critics' warnings."

From the Globe and Mail: "Tax Cut Not Hailed by Everyone." "On eve of budget, `conscientious objectors' work to forgo Ontario Tory pledge."

Perhaps surprisingly the headline from the Financial Post: "Ernest Cuts Taxes." "Ontario Finance Minister Ernie Eves is cutting taxes so that Ontario can enjoy the kind of growth Michigan achieved by doing the same thing. But there's one little problem. When Michigan cut state income taxes, it didn't slash public sector jobs and spending at the same time" -- just one little problem.

You wonder why there are so many doubters, why there are so many sceptics about a tax cut that is supposed to be such good news. The reason is very simple. The reason there is so much scepticism is because most people are wise enough to know that there's not much good in this budget for them.

We've used examples of people who were not going to get much from this budget, and seniors are among that group of people. If you are a senior on a fixed income, you're going to get a few dollars from the tax cut, and it is a very few dollars indeed, but you're going to have to pay a fee for your prescription drugs, a direct result of the policy this government brought in, a new user fee this government introduced on seniors and the disabled. That prescription drug fee is going to eat into those very few dollars that seniors were going to get back from the tax cut.

If you're a senior who lives in Toronto you'll pay more for transit, because the cut to Toronto transit by this government left Toronto transit facing no choice but to raise their fees, and they had to raise their fees even for seniors and for students.

And it's quite possible if you're a senior that you're going to end up paying more property taxes, if you've been able to hold on to your own home, and we all know how devastating that is for seniors on fixed incomes, but if you happen to be in an apartment as a senior, and it's a non-profit apartment, you're worried about whether or not your rent is going to go up. Seniors, people on fixed incomes, are going to be out of pocket, not have more dollars, because of this government's policies.


If you're a student, you're probably not going to have much income, so you're probably not going to get much of a tax cut at all, so let me acknowledge that. This was not a budget for students. But the students are going to pay a price for the tax cut. The students know they're going to have to pay $490 more on average to go to school, to college or university, this September. They're going to have to pay that $490 whether they got any tax cut or not, and they're also going to have to pay those increased transit costs of about $264 a year. So you're certainly not going to find that students are winners with this good-news budget.

If you're a middle-income family, that very group of people this government keeps saying they want to gear their tax cut to, they want to gear their benefits to, well, that middle-income family is just going to get hit coming and going, as they've been getting hit for the past 10 months.

We used an example in the House today, as we did Monday when the Premier told us this was all impossible, but as his tax cut yesterday proved, our figures were right, our numbers were right, when it comes to looking at middle-income families. We used the example of a family with two people working, earning $50,000, two incomes of $25,000, and we supposed that this family, being a perhaps typical family, would have one child in college or university. We looked at the kinds of fees they would have to pay: new municipal recreation fees, new garbage fees, new water fees, new property taxes and school board taxes, the cost of that student transit pass, the cost of transit pass increases for themselves and the increased tuition for that university student. We looked at the $512 that family would get back in a full year of this income tax cut and we looked at the costs they were going to have to pay, and the $512 had to be balanced against about $1,174 in new costs. That particular middle-income family would then be facing a net loss in their in-pocket income of about $662. That's what's happening to middle-income families with this supposedly good-news budget.

When we presented again to the Premier and the government our concerns that the user fees and the new taxes that are a direct result of this government's cuts and this government's policies, this government's Bill 26, giving the municipalities not only permission but encouragement to put in place new user fees, the same user fees the Premier used to call a tax, but now somehow they're not new taxes, they're just a user fee, that municipalities were encouraged to put in place in order to make up for the cuts that this government was giving to municipalities; when we suggested that those new user fees and those new taxes were going to eat up any dollars that a middle-income family or a lower-income family might get from a tax cut, the Premier and the finance minister said: "None of that is our responsibility. That's purely hypothetical. That's not really happening." Well, it is happening, and we're keeping track of just some of the user fees that are being put in place. Let me just give you a few examples.

In Brantford, sewer and water charges are up by 50 cents per cubic metre, and they're looking for $700,000 from that; parking fines have been quadrupled; there's been a $5 increase in arena rental fees; there are increased fees for community centres and parks facilities and cemeteries.

You go to Elliot Lake where there's a $2,000 increase in fees to take planning issues to the Ontario Municipal Board. You go to Kingston where there's a $400 fee for a review of a subdivision plan.

You go to St Catharines, where there's a $5 increase in fees at seniors centres -- there's those seniors getting hit again -- a $130 fee for scattering cremation remains, a $10 to $18 increase in arena rental fees. Get the middle-income family with the kids.

North York: a $300 fee for fire calls to out-of-town vehicles, a $1,200 fee for fire responses to false alarms, and they're looking at a $3-per-bag fee for garbage.

The Metropolitan Police Services Board: a $200 charge for job applications, a $35 charge for police reports on lost or stolen passports.

The Upper Thames Conservation Authority: an increase of $10.50 for a season's pass. In Stoney Creek, a 50% cost recovery on sports facilities, meaning a $5,000 increase for the Stoney Creek Minor Softball Association and a 75% increase in arena fees. In Sault Ste Marie, a new $20 user fee at the seniors centre.

Those are just some of the new user fees, which Mike Harris used to call increased taxes, that are already happening, and it is just beginning. It is a direct result of the kinds of cuts that are being driven by the tax cut this government introduced yesterday.

If the government says there shouldn't be any property tax increases that eat up more of those dollars people are getting from this government's income tax cut -- they're saying that shouldn't happen -- then they're going to have to tell municipalities and school boards what they can do to recover from the cuts that have been made. Property taxes are happening in York region, where there's a 1.4% increase in taxes; in Sault Ste Marie, where there's a 3.75% increase in property taxes; in Scarborough, a 1.5% increase; Metropolitan Toronto, a 1.5% increase; Waterloo region, a 1.5% increase; and Kitchener-Waterloo county school board, Durham region, Metro Catholic board, Peel region, Sudbury, Sudbury separate board, all with tax increases.

The Premier says, "We're watching this very closely," as if he's somehow threatening that he's going to step in. Well, what are they going to do? Shut down the municipal services? Shut down the school boards? How did they think municipalities and school boards were going to cope with these kinds of cuts? They're coping the only way they can: with the new user fees this government encouraged them to introduce and with increased taxes, which they simply can't avoid. That is eating up the few dollars this government provided yesterday.

This budget does what every action of the Mike Harris Conservative government has done from the time it took office. It divides the people of this province into winners and losers. If you're well-to-do in this province today, there's no question that there's good news for you in this budget, no question that you're a winner. The tax cut the big-income earners and families got yesterday was big enough that they could pay for their new user fees and could pay for the new health tax and could still be ahead.

That's the second example we use to just show what's happening: If you're a family that's earning $150,000 in family income, that family gets $4,300 in this first full year of a tax cut. Yes, they will still have to pay all those increased costs that the middle-income family is going to have to pay. They're going to have to pay the increased transit costs and the costs for garbage collection and they're going to have to pay the increased tuition for the student who's going to college or university. If they've got a youngster, they're going to have to pay increased child care costs because of the cuts to junior kindergarten. Those are all realities for that family earning $150,000 too. And yes, they will also pay that Fair Share tax for health that the government introduced.

But at the end of the day, that family that makes $150,000 isn't out of pocket by $600 the way the middle-income family is. That family, the big-income family, has a net savings of about $1,281. I suggest those are the real winners in Mike Harris's Ontario and the real people who benefit from the so-called good-news budget this government presented yesterday.

That's the reality. The reality is that in the next budget those big-income earners are going to be even bigger winners, because in the next budget, or maybe for the next two budgets as they phase in their tax cut, the big-income earners will still get their big tax cut but they won't be paying more in the health levy. They'll get their big tax cut and it will be free and clear. They will be big winners again, and that too is reality.

That's the reality when you deal with real dollars, real families that have to meet their new costs with the dollars they've got in their pockets. That's the realty when you don't talk about percentages, as the Minister of Finance keeps doing. A 30% cut for the big-income earner means a lot more dollars, real dollars, in the pocket than it does for the family at the middle-income levels or the low-income family.


This budget is not good news for the bottom 40% of income earners who are going to have to split less than about 4% of the dollars in this tax cut and who still have to pay all the new user fees. Those people see no good news in this budget. The top 10% of income-earning families, who get the 50% of the benefit of this tax cut, think it's good news, no question about that. They're the real winners. But for the others who are really struggling to cope, there is no good news in yesterday's budget.

I have to tell you that we did think that this tax cut was the one promise that Mike Harris and the Conservatives would actually deliver on. It turned out when we actually saw the budget that we weren't quite right about that, because the tax cut actually turned out to be less for everyone than they said it was going to be; and the health care tax, that was supposed to claw back the benefits that they were giving to the well-to-do, was not as big a clawback on the wealthy as we thought it was going to be.

You might remember that when they presented the Common Sense Revolution document they were going to get $400 million back from higher-income earners through the health tax clawback. In fact, they only took $260 million back in that health tax. So the big-income earners ended up with an even bigger net gain yesterday than the Tories had promised in the first place.

I'll take you back to that family that earns $150,000, and I'll tell you that they received yesterday $335 more from the government than they would have had if the government had just kept the promise the way it was set out in the revolution. So the big-income earner was even better off yesterday than we had thought they would be.

I'll tell you also that I actually thought -- and maybe this was sheer naïveté on my part, because I didn't find many people who thought it was likely to happen -- the government might hear some of the critics, including their own Deputy Minister of Finance, who said: "Well, if you really want to get an economic benefit from this tax cut, you might want to rejig it so that the greater benefits go to the middle-income earner who really doesn't have enough money to go out and buy that new car or to buy a new house. You might want to give them a little bit more of a benefit, a bigger percentage so it means bigger dollars in their pocket and they can actually do something with it, and don't give quite so much to the bigger-income earner." I seem to recall the Deputy Minister of Finance saying, "Well, there's no question that you're going to have more of an economic stimulus if you give more money to the people who need it than to the people who don't need it."

I actually thought that's what we'd see yesterday in the budget, but clearly that wasn't where the Tory thinking was. The big-income earners actually ended up better off yesterday than we expected them to be.

I want to be absolutely fair, so I'll acknowledge that they did change the health care tax a little bit so that not quite as many middle-income families were hit with it as might have been hit with it otherwise. They did -- so let me be again absolutely open in my acknowledgement of what you might find in the budget -- make a slight gesture towards low-income families with something that's called "a change to the tax reduction rate." Now, that's a little bit hard to pull out of the budget, but I acknowledge that they did it.

What's even harder to pull out of that budget, though, is something else they did, because it seems as though this government didn't want to go too far in giving a break to that low-income family. Even though they reduced the tax reduction rate to give them a bit of a break, they decided to claw the break back, and they did that by reducing the deduction that is given for infirm or disabled dependants. I really do find that just one of those small, cruel details.

It probably doesn't mean a lot in terms of dollars. We haven't been able to do the analysis of that -- we were still surprised to see it was even there -- but it just seemed to me that it was so unnecessary to claw back the one small gesture you were making to low-income families, and it just seemed to me that this government seems to enjoy taking its most direct hits at the most vulnerable people in our society.

So who is going to find good news in this budget besides the big-income earners?

I suppose that you might think this is good news -- and based on the reaction to the budget I think I'm probably right in supposing this -- but if you're in business and you somehow think that this tax cut is going to restore consumer confidence and it's going to lead to new spending and to new investment -- although it's hard to imagine anybody who has $662 less in their pockets investing in anything, let alone spending it on anything. It's hard for me to see where any of these tax cuts, except for the big-income earners, who could afford it anyway, are going to be large enough to actually encourage anybody to go out and buy a new car today who couldn't afford to buy a new car yesterday.

We look at what the tax cut means in terms of dollars per week on your paycheque, which is how they'll see it, and I think for a family making $25,000 they're going to see about $2.30 a week on their paycheque. I don't think that's going to help them buy anything very major. If you're in the $60,000 income category as a family, you're going to get about $8.50 a week. I don't think that's going to be a big stimulus to the spending economy, particularly not when it gets eaten up by all those new user fees and taxes.

It's important to deal with this expectation about the budget. I suppose you might think this budget could lead to some good news, if you're one of the half a million people unemployed in this province and you think that maybe if business improves one day you'll have a job. But I think we all know it's become a fact of the downsizing 1990s that businesses make bigger profits by hiring fewer people, not more. There would have to be a lot of new cars purchased to encourage auto manufacturers to create new jobs rather than downsize. There'd have to be a lot of new cars sold even to encourage a dealer to hire an extra staff person or two.

We know this tax cut is not going to mean new construction jobs in an economy where there are thousands of construction workers out of work, because the government is cutting back on those. We saw in yesterday's budget a $1.3-billion reduction in the capital spending of government, and that translates directly into not having new construction jobs. This tax cut simply isn't large enough, even with the land transfer tax rebate, which we all agree is desirable -- even with that, the tax cut is not large enough to help a young couple buy a new home, and that is particularly true if one or both of them are facing a layoff in the future.

Where are the jobs the government keeps promising going to come from? We all know the promise -- we heard it during an election campaign; we've heard it on an almost weekly basis since then; we heard it again today -- 725,000 jobs. Premier Harris said, "Our government will create 725,000 jobs in the first five years." It was very specific, it was very categorical and it was described as a key promise of the Common Sense Revolution. Where are we now in reaching the target of 725,000 jobs?

All kinds of words in the budget about jobs, all kinds of words about how the income tax cut is going to produce these new jobs that the government needs if it's going to hit its target and keep its basic commitment to the people of this province, but no numbers. If you wanted to find out how many jobs the government actually expects to create, you had to find some figures buried on page 39 of the budget background document. You had to know about how many jobs had already been created, how many people were unemployed. You had to ask the Ministry of Finance if our understanding of the job numbers was right, and the Ministry of Finance representative said, "Yes, you're absolutely right." I give credit to my finance critic, who is going to be joining us, who did the work on these job numbers, because he said all along that the government could not hit its 725,000 target.

What does the budget tell us about their commitment to jobs? The budget shows us that in the first three years of this government it will create only 287,000 jobs. That is far short of the 145,000 jobs a year that would be needed to hit the target of 725,000. Members opposite shake their heads. Get past the words. If you want to be able to go out to your constituencies and say, "We can keep our promise on jobs. We know that jobs matter to you more than any other single issue" -- and it does -- "and we know that in every riding of this province jobs is the number one issue and that's why it's such a key commitment," you'd better know the reality of the numbers. Even today, when the Minister of Finance said, "We are creating 10,000 jobs a month," well, they've got to do a lot better than that if they're going to get to 725,000 jobs in five years.


The reality is, using the government's own numbers as it presented them in the budget yesterday, there will be 6,000 more people out of work in year 3 of a Mike Harris government than there were when Mike Harris came into office, and that is, as our finance critic said today, inexplicable and indefensible. It is a key promise, and it's a key promise this government cannot deliver and will not deliver. He made that promise repeatedly; he made it categorically. This Premier keeps making it, and he is not delivering.

But what he is delivering -- and on this there is no quarrel and no debate. This is not a numbers game. These are real people being delivered pink slips, job layoff notices because of this government and its cuts and its policies and its determination to bring in this irresponsible income tax cut. We know about job losses to thousands of people in the public sector, thousands of the government's own employees. We know about the 10,600 people the Chairman of Management Board announced were going to be laid off within the next two years alone. We also know that the Chairman of Management Board said, "Yes, there will be more layoffs in the public sector to come." They won't tell us how many more.

But if we look at the government's budget documents again, they like us to forget the cuts that were announced in November and the cuts that were announced in April, so they didn't make a big deal about those yesterday. They wanted it to be a good-news budget. You go back to those November and April statements and you see what the government is planning to do to people as it makes its cuts. We know they're looking at cutting the government administration by about a third. That's not 10,600 people. That's not even the 13,000 people they said they were going to reduce government by. That's more like 20,000 to 27,000 people. I think we have a lot of painful layoffs yet to go.

There was a very substantial sum of the money in this budget yesterday for severance pay. The minister tried to suggest that it was a readjustment fund for investment. It is severance pay for the thousands and thousands of people who are going to be laid off by this government.

Education, the broader public sector: Because of this government's cuts people are being laid off, people are going to be out of work. Earlier this month, we looked at just 14 of 130 boards of education in the province. They had already given layoff notices to some 2,700 people, and that's in just 14 boards.

If the Minister of Education takes the next step, if he does what he originally said he was going to do, if he does what he brags that he can do to save $1.2 billion out of the education budget, then we will see thousands and thousands more teachers out of work and on the streets. What good do they do to classroom education and students if teachers are on the streets?

We all remember the thousands of pink slips that were being given out in March in anticipation that the Minister of Education was going to do what he said he would do. We saw 1,000 pink slips in Peel, 1,000 pink slips in Hamilton and 1,000 pink slips in Simcoe county.

Mr Peter L. Preston (Brant-Haldimand): They have all been rehired.

Mrs McLeod: The only reason any of those pink slips were withdrawn, I say to the member opposite, is because, thank God, the Minister of Education backed down from his bragging about cutting $1.2 billion out of education. Because the government got nervous when it saw the sheer volume of layoffs in education that were going to come, it backed off and said, "We'll do it differently for now." The Minister of Education still brags he can get the $1.2 billion out of education and damn the torpedoes, just like the headline said. It doesn't matter what it does to education.

Equally as important, it doesn't seem to matter what it does to people. It doesn't seem to matter that those are people out in communities, largely the buying generation, the people who take the money they have in their pockets when they have a job and they get a paycheque and go out and buy a new house and buy a new car. Those are the very people you want to have working in your communities, providing services in our classrooms or in our hospitals and contributing to the economy of their community, and they're the very people who are being laid off by this government's cutbacks and this government's policies.

Just look at health care, because we all remember health care, where that reassuring message was given that there wasn't going to be a penny cut. I think that people in the health care field, because of that, might actually have thought, "Well, that means if there's not going to be a penny cut from health care, then my job on the front line must be safe." Far from it. Six thousands layoffs are expected this year alone in the health care sector -- 6,000 layoffs. The nurses were here last week, and this is Nurses Week, believe it or not. They told us that 5,000 nurses have lost their jobs in this province since 1993 and that 15,000 more could lose their jobs in the next three years, and yet this government tells us that their cutbacks don't affect health care and they tell us that their cuts won't hurt the economies of our communities.

The fact, the plain and simple fact, is that there has only been one real effect of the tax cut on our communities up till now, and that is something which the government itself, in the Common Sense Revolution, referred to as "economic drag." Economic drag is what happens when you put thousands of public sector workers out on the streets. It's what happens when thousands of construction workers face unemployment because the government has cut the capital budget by $1.3 billion, because they've slashed the transportation budget. And make no mistake about it, the transportation capital budget is cut by another $400 million this year, as it was cut $400 million last year, and the operating budget of the Ministry of Transportation is cut by $158 million. There is no arguing that, no matter how they try to spin it in the budget as being enhanced funding for road maintenance.

They have cut that budget, and they have frozen school construction and there are no construction jobs there either. They may lift the freeze on schools; let's hope they do. But they are going to spend $222 million, not the $576 million that was in last year's budget, for school capital construction. That's all part of economic drag.

It also has an effect on service. An economic drag is what happens when all of those people who face unemployment as a direct result of government cuts don't buy a new car. They can't think of buying a new house or they lose the mortgage on the one they have, which is happening to far too many young couples in this province today. People who have no job didn't get a tax cut yesterday. They are not spending their money. And all the people who fear they will lose their jobs tomorrow because they fear the cuts to come aren't spending either.

Job loss is what's happening now in our communities: job loss in Hamilton, where the job loss in the public sector is up to about 4,600 jobs; job loss in Toronto. The neighbourhoods committee in Toronto made a report to their council. This was before the November cuts. This was before the Black Thursday cuts of 10,600 civil servants last month. This is before any of that happened. The neighbourhoods committee in Toronto just looked at the fact that 27 social housing projects had been cancelled in Toronto, and they said that would mean 3,000 person-years of work in the construction trades and the building sector trades lost.

Interestingly, they looked at the welfare cuts and they said: "Just look at it in terms of impact on our economy. That's $97 million out of the economy of Toronto." Don't you think that has an impact on the economy of a community? Do you really think you're just dealing with welfare abuse when you cut off the welfare payments of people who need that money to buy food and to pay for their housing? The neighbourhoods committee of Toronto said it had a very major impact.

In Sault Ste Marie, they've started a study to look at the impact of the cuts that are a direct result of this government's policies. They say that in 10 months of the Tory government they have lost 500 direct jobs, and that is because of $31 million in spending cuts that have hit Sault Ste Marie.

Thunder Bay is my home community, and the economic development council there has done its assessment. They say that the public sector job cuts will mean a loss of about 1,000 jobs in our community. That's direct job loss. It comes from the economic development corporation, very concerned about the impact of that job loss in our community. Then you take those 1,000 jobs and you multiply them by what economists say is a realistic spinoff factor. What happens to the retail industries and the other service industries? What happens to the home building industries when 1,000 people lose their jobs in a community? They say probably about three more jobs for every job that you've lost will be lost in the spinoff factor. So that means in my community about 4,000 jobs being lost.


Those jobs are not being lost because the market for paper or softwood lumber is down. The jobs aren't being lost because SNC-Lavalin in our community lost a contract bid. Those kinds of things we can understand. That's sometimes a reality in the market and you know there are job losses because of that. But that's not why we're losing 4,000 jobs in Thunder Bay. It isn't the market that's going to cost us 4,000 jobs; it is our own government, unbelievably, a government that got elected on an irresponsible promise and is now going to make that irresponsible promise the only one it doesn't break. I don't think Thunder Bay or Sault Ste Marie or Hamilton or Toronto needed an artificial, government-induced job --


The Deputy Speaker (Mr Bert Johnson): I'd like to hear the Leader of the Opposition's comments. You're making it very difficult for me. I would like to ask you to let her proceed with the debate.

Mrs McLeod: It's quite clear that the members of the Conservative caucus don't like the truth about job layoffs because they know it's hitting their own communities. I'll find the examples from your ridings next week. I don't think that your community, any more than my community, needed an artificially induced drag on its economy, because things were tough enough for us, thank you very much.

Yet this government wanted us to believe the tax cut was somehow going to give people confidence despite the reality that people are facing today, despite the reality of job loss and economic insecurity, of parents who are facing the need, the inevitability, of supporting adult children who simply can't find work -- we all hear that every day -- the reality that this tax cut doesn't give people who couldn't afford to buy the new car or the new house enough money to buy anything at all, the reality that new user fees and increased user fees and increased taxes will eat up what the tax cut does give to lower- and middle-income people.

The government thinks none of these realities matter, because their economic theory says that a tax cut will lead to confidence and that will lead to new spending and investment and that will lead to job growth and that will be enough to overcome the economic drag on our economy that our own government has brought down on us. But it is all theory. It has not worked anywhere; it will not work here. There is no evidence that this tax cut will lead to jobs. There is no evidence that trickle-down economics will benefit anyone except those who get the biggest tax break right off the bat. This government was told that over and over again.

Let me just refer to a couple of the expert witnesses who came to the finance committee to tell the government what the tax cut would do: Aron Gampel of the Bank of Nova Scotia, who said there's absolutely no guarantee that a $100 tax break to individuals will translate into $100 of spending into the economy; John McCallum, the chief economist of the Royal Bank, who expressed concern at the slow rate of deficit reduction and concern for the risk to the credit rating if the deficit investment targets couldn't be hit; Jayson Myers, an economist with the Canadian Manufacturers' Association, a group you would expect to be one of the winners in this, who said cutting personal income taxes won't do anything to stimulate job creation, that people will use any extra cash to pay down debts, not buy goods that will create jobs. Even the C.D. Howe Institute expressed dubiousness about the job creation potential of a tax cut.

The report of the finance committee itself, a committee dominated by members of the Tory caucus, expressed the concern of many expert witnesses that any stimulative effect of an income tax cut would be offset or even outweighed by the negative effects of expenditure cuts. That committee went on to say, and I'm quoting, "If the overall effect is negative, the government may see the same kind of revenue losses (through unemployment and lower consumption) it was seeing earlier in this decade, and ultimately, a deterioration in the deficit situation." That's from the finance committee; that's from the Conservative members of the government.

We know that the government -- no, let me be more direct: the Premier of the province. I think he's the only one who has actually said this. I don't think the Minister of Finance has actually said this so I don't want to hang this on him, but the Premier has certainly said: "This tax cut won't cost us a cent. It's going to produce so much extra growth that it will pay for itself."

That isn't what the Bank of Montreal says. The Bank of Montreal said, just the day before the budget came out, "The revenue target could well be missed by $2.7 billion in the year 2000-2001." They went to say that "revenues would have to grow at an average annual rate of 6.2% over the next five years to meet the revenue target, and that would be overly optimistic."

Michael McCracken from Informetrica was expressing his concern that if revenues don't grow, there could be more cuts, and he was concerned about more cuts. He said, "If in the next Ontario budget additional cuts are implemented, then the fiscal drag will further dampen economic activity in the province." He says, "It would seem to make more sense to proceed with some fiscal stimulus rather than further tightening the state of the Ontario economy."

The harder it has been to sell this tax cut as good news, the more extreme the Premier's rhetoric has been about the immeasurable benefits of a tax cut. In the background paper to their campaign document, they were much more modest. So let me quote from the Common Sense Revolution where they said, "We do not make any claims on how the Common Sense Revolution will affect growth other than by diminishing it in the short term because of deficit reduction-induced economic drag."

Now even the government itself has acknowledged that economic growth is going to be worse, and not better, because of the tax cut. Last November, they were predicting economic growth, a real increase in the GDP of 2.3%. That's without the impact of the tax cut. Yesterday they added in the impact of the tax cut, and now our economic growth is expected to be 1.9%; and that's what economic drag means in economic terms. That's the reality, both in the short term and the long term. The negative effect of the spending cuts will outweigh any potential stimulative effects of this tax cut, and the tax cut will not pay for itself.

Do you remember him saying "not one cent"? Well, it won't cost one cent; it will cost $5 billion, and over the course of four years the cost to the taxpayers of their tax cut will be $13 billion. We will have to borrow to pay that $13 billion, and the debt of the province of Ontario will go up by $22 billion, as a result of that, in five years.

Ironically, we found yesterday that the government itself seemed to have developed some doubts about whether or not the tax cut was such a good idea, because they thought, "Well, maybe" -- at least this seems to be thinking -- "it would have been better to have used the tax cut to reduce the deficit." That's certainly what the business people and the economists and the bond raters were telling them: "If you're going to make the spending cuts, don't take that money and give it in a tax cut. Put it against the deficit."

So the government seemed to have some second thoughts, and yesterday they decided to give people an option, so they created the Ontario opportunities fund. So if you're one of those people who think deficit reduction is more important than economic stimulation, you can check off a box on your income tax form and direct your tax cut to deficit reduction -- that is, if you're one of the people who happen to have any of it left after paying user fees.

So now, Mr Speaker, I have to pose this problem to you perhaps, because if the big-income earners with the big tax break actually put all of their dollars into deficit reduction instead of spending it -- I'm not sure they will. John Crispo might be a good example of somebody who thought deficit reduction was important, so he was given a chance to direct his income tax break to deficit reduction and he said, "Let the cabinet ministers go first." But if some of the big-income earners actually do decide to follow their belief and put their tax cut into deficit reduction, what happens to this government's one and only job creation program? It is gone, because you can't have it both ways. You can't use the tax cut to encourage people to spend and create jobs at the same time that you encourage them to use their tax cut to pay down the deficit.

Anyway, it doesn't matter. The member is right. It doesn't matter, because none of it would have worked anyway. None of it would have worked, and the only thing that we know for sure is that today, in our communities, the tax cut is indeed an economic drag.


I couldn't help but notice that the Minister of Finance is expecting a lot from his tax cut still. They seem to want it to be the creator of the 725,000 jobs that they're still looking for, so they want people to go out and spend it. They seem to think that they should be able to let some citizens direct their dollars towards the deficit reductions, since the deficit isn't going to be reduced very fast by the government. Then in the budget the minister also seemed to suggest that if people didn't like either of those two options, they could use their tax cuts to put them into new trust foundations -- trust foundations for hospitals and 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 perhaps the National Ballet of Canada, the Canadian Opera Company, the Toronto Symphony Orchestra, the Shaw Festival and the Stratford Festival.

I think that is a good idea, to create foundations for these agencies, but I say to the members opposite that with the one exception of the cancer foundation, these are all agencies that have had their funding slashed by this government and that's why you're setting up a trust foundation for them -- so that citizens can use their income tax cut, if they don't want to use it for the deficit or they don't want to go out and spend it for the economy, to try and sustain cultural organizations in their communities that this government is destroying.

If you don't like any of those options, you can contribute to a trust fund for student assistance while the government cuts back on student assistance even as it raises tuition fees.

I heard the Minister of Finance yesterday say citizens can spend their own money more efficiently than the government, and as a general statement that is probably true. But there are some things, I say in all seriousness to this minister, that no private citizen can do, that only the government can do, because the government is indeed the collective resource of the citizens. The community effort, the community volunteer work, the contributions to services, to arts organizations, to charities in our communities, are supposed to be complementary to the government. They're not supposed to be in place of the government, and yet that's what you're making them.

Surely, Minister, if government is not efficient you can make government more efficient and more effective doing what government can do. Surely you don't just dismantle the government and abandon any responsibility that a government has for its citizens, and yet that is exactly what this government is doing.

It's perhaps no wonder that the government was having trouble convincing people that the tax cut was a good idea, because it's apparent that the government had a lot of trouble convincing itself, which is why it has provided so many options for us to use our tax dollars with.

I remember that over the past months when the government has had trouble convincing people that tax cuts make sense, it has pointed to other jurisdictions that have followed similar plans. In Michigan, for example; Michigan, where they have cut taxes but where they have also cut public sector programs, where they have chopped health care to pay for tax cuts, where single people deemed employable are denied welfare even if there are no jobs and where, incidentally, sales taxes and other consumption taxes have jumped dramatically.

They refer to New Jersey, where they did bring in a 30% cut in income tax and where health and social service programs have been cut, nursing programs have been privatized, drug benefits for seniors and the disabled have been cut -- does that sound familiar? New Jersey, where welfare recipients are kicked off social assistance after five years, and where new user fees are growing by leaps and bounds.

What is happening in the United States of America, which the government uses as its wonderful examples?

I realize, in spite of the sheer length that is given to me in responding to this budget, that I'm going to run out of time, but let me take a minute to read some excerpts from a speech that was recently given by Senator Edward Kennedy, because I think it reflects on the American experience, which I'm all too afraid Ontario is following. Senator Kennedy says, "A rising tide lifts all boats...but today's rising tide is lifting only some of the boats -- primarily the yachts.

"The vast majority of economic gains are being channelled to the wealthy few, while the working men and women who are the strength and soul of this country and its economy are being shortchanged....

"As we approach the 21st century, we confront an economically unjustified, socially dangerous, historically unprecedented and morally unacceptable income gap between the wealthy and the rest of our people....

"Every loss of health insurance, every cut in support for child care, schools, colleges and job training makes it harder for families to earn a better future. We cannot solve great social problems by instructing people to be good while their financial situation is going from bad to worse....

"We can only lay off so many workers, cut wages and benefits by so much, and tear down government support programs for so long, before we downsize the consumer sector as well. In a winner-take-all economy, eventually there will be fewer buyers, and fewer winners, and ultimately even many corporate losers...."

Finally, and I'm just excerpting, he suggests that the era of big government may be over but that a return to the era of no government is no answer, and to that, in Ontario, I say amen.

Some would turn to Canada and say, "What's the closest example in Canada that we can find of what's happening here in the province of Ontario?" And they would of course suggest Alberta. You're right: Alberta. Well, let me just once and for all make it clear that there is absolutely no way that Ralph Klein could ever catch up to Mike Harris when it comes to spending cuts. The government may want to take pride in that. I wouldn't. This government may want to. But just for the record, let me point out that in 1993, Alberta was the first of all the provinces in spending per capita. Incidentally, Ontario was ninth. After three years of cuts, Alberta is spending still more than Ontario was spending before the Harris spending cuts even began, before we start to see the impact of the $8.8 billion in cuts. I think Mike Harris is going to make Alberta look like a very big spender.

Mr Klein has suggested that he believes Mr Harris is going to "have great difficulty." "Here, we never even contemplated a tax cut. Our focus was on eliminating the deficit." He says, "It's going to be very difficult for Ontario to deal with the deficit by cutting expenditures and at the same time deal with the dramatic decrease in government revenues that will be caused by a tax cut." He says further, "To do that, one has to be more than just a politician, one has to be a magician."

The budget isn't good news and it certainly isn't magic. This is what the Conservative government budget is really all about, it's all it offers: a tax cut that benefits mostly the well-to-do; no assurance of new jobs -- in fact, a recognition that we are going to have slower economic growth and higher unemployment; $22 billion more in debt; and a guarantee of a host of new user fees.

I ask you, where's the good news in all of this? Where's the hope in it? Where's the hope in it for anyone who desperately needs to feel a sense of hope? Where's the hope for anyone who finds the present insecure, insecure in a way that people in this province have never felt before, who feel that the future is uncertain to a degree never felt before? Where's the hope for those who have struggled to make a future that is better than the present and who now don't think there is a chance of fulfilling that dream?

There is no real good news in this budget, not for those who most needed good news. The price that we have paid because this government made an irresponsible promise in an election campaign is beyond measure. Not many reasons for hope in this budget, not unless people follow the Mike Harris/Mark Mullins economic theories as blindly as the members of the Conservative caucus used to. But without any question at all, hope has been destroyed for thousands and thousands of Ontarians who just happen to be in the way of the Tory juggernaut. I want to just note them, sort of like markers tracing a path of destruction, because even in this length of speech I can't deal with them all.

You'll remember when it started last July with cuts to social assistance, cuts of some 23% to social assistance. Then there were the sudden shocks of the fall. The one I remember most is the day -- and it was literally a day, overnight -- when 25 halfway houses in the province were suddenly shut down and all those years of work in communities to put those houses in place lost.


I remember that promise about health care spending and no new user fees for health care, in November, when the $1.3 billion was taken away from our hospitals and the user fee for drugs for seniors and the disabled was introduced.

I remember the promise about classroom funding for education, and then we saw education funding cut by $400 million in elementary and secondary schools and $400 million in colleges and universities.

I remember the commitment to municipalities, to ensure that any actions this government took would not result in increases to local property taxes. That was before they cut the municipal budgets by 42% over two years.

The promise that law enforcement and justice would be guaranteed: That was before they cut $139 million from the policing and justice system.

The commitment that there would be no cuts to agricultural programs in our policy plan: Then they cut $82 million from support for farmers.

The transportation commitment: "One of the things we must do is put money back in the infrastructure; we recognize the importance." That was as recent as March 27, from the Minister of Transportation, and that was before they cut $70 million from road repair and maintenance and took $20 million out of GO Transit.

The other cuts we keep hearing about day by day -- 25% to 30% cuts to special services at home program for the disabled; the 5% cut to community mental health programs; the withdrawal of all the funding for family counselling programs in our communities; the elimination of funding to provide counselling support to battered women in second-stage housing; the $180-million cut to non-profit housing -- those are just markers on the path of destruction, and there are more cuts to come.

I wish it weren't so, but we are just beginning to feel the pain of the cuts that provided the background to yesterday's budget. We know that of the cuts the government has already targeted, we still have $1.4 billion. We've seen announced $1.6 billion of the cuts to government services directly; we have $1.4 billion that are still going to be announced. We have $600 million more in capital cuts that have yet to be announced.

Beyond all of that, we have the Bank of Montreal saying that this government could be $2.7 billion off its targets in the year 2000-01, and that means either scaling back the tax cut or making deeper spending cuts. We have John McCallum of the Royal Bank saying that he thinks they will have to make additional cuts of $1.7 billion to implement the full tax cut.

I wonder where this government will go for those cuts. What more can they strip away from our communities? How much more pain can people in our society bear in economic terms, in social terms and, most of all, in human terms?

I look at some of the cuts and I realize that the cuts make absolutely no sense. They make absolutely no sense even from the perspective of the government's financial bottom line. Let me take a couple of examples.

Cutting the Ontario film investment program: That's a program that recently had an audited accounting done. It's a program where the government got back $3 for every $1 it invested. It made sense. It helped with deficit reduction. On top of that, it's a program that encouraged an industry which was the sole net producer of new jobs in the province during the recession. Why would you want to kill the film investment program? It brings in money, it creates jobs, it does all the things the government says it wants to do, and they cut it.

They put something in the budget that's basically a tax credit. If you can go to the bank, if you can persuade the bank that this creative new idea can work and you can get the money -- and there aren't many film producers starting out who can get moneys from the bank for their productions, but if you can, and if it's successful, then you'll get a tax credit back.

Mrs Elinor Caplan (Oriole): It's going to kill a whole industry.

Mrs McLeod: It will kill the industry. The film investment program was working -- it was working for government, it was working for the industry, it was working for jobs, it was working for this province. It will be killed and those jobs will go to BC or Quebec if they don't go back to California, and that is a great loss.

I quoted earlier the Toronto Neighbourhoods Committee and their concern, way back before the November cuts and the April cuts, about the loss of social housing and what effect that would have on construction jobs, and the effect of the welfare cuts. They also talked then about the concern that there would be a reduction in revenues to Toronto arts and cultural organizations. They had no idea that the hit to Toronto's cultural organizations would be as huge as it has been. But they said a reduction of even $15.9 million would produce a $140-million contraction in economic activity. They go on to say, "As a result, Toronto's newly won reputation as an international cultural centre will be put at risk. The ramifications on the $1 billion a year in economic activity currently generated by cultural tourism and Toronto's ability to attract a skilled labour force and business are potentially significant." Why would any government give that up and give up the revenue dollars it was getting at the same time? It truly does not make sense.

Another example of something that doesn't make sense: You may remember that when the government brought in what I call the Black Thursday cuts, when they announced the downsizing of the public sector and the laying off of 6,000 people as they get 10,600 fewer jobs in the public sector, they took out an ad to tell how wonderful this move was, and you'll remember there was a little error in the ad, because the only example they could find of how terrific this was going to be for taxpayers was to say they would no longer be doing maintenance work on OPP cars in Thunder Bay. There was a bit of a problem there because they were never doing maintenance work for OPP cars across the province in Thunder Bay. They were doing the work on OPP cars for Thunder Bay in northwestern Ontario. It makes a certain amount of sense.

So what are they doing now as a result of the cuts? They're going to outfit the cars for the OPP who work in northwestern Ontario in Orillia, and then they're going to put those cars on a flatbed truck, I guess, and they're going to truck them up across the North Shore to Thunder Bay and on to Kenora. At a minimum, that is going to cost at least $20,000 more a year, and this is the sense of the program the government spent hundreds of thousands of dollars advertising as its kind of good-news cut.

Just along the way, by the way, there is the little matter of servicing the OPP on northern reserves, and I don't think the people in Orillia have any idea of how they're going to get people or cars up there.

There are some cuts that take away essential services, and I don't think this government has any idea who's going to provide the service once they've cut it. The regional labs of the Ministry of Environment -- last week the notices went out that all the regional labs of the Ministry of Environment are going to be shut down. These are the labs that do the high-volume weekly water testing for municipalities, and you will remember the Collingwood situation where there was considerable concern about the safety of the water and that some 40 other communities in Ontario have reason to be concerned and to want their water checked on a weekly basis. The Ministry of Environment regional labs are being shut down, and the Toronto lab does not do and will not do that high-volume testing. The municipalities paid a fee for service to have their water tested on a weekly basis, so this wasn't a cost to government.

In my community, where one of those regional labs is going to be shut down, there is no private sector company that can step in and do the high-volume weekly water testing for the municipality, and even in communities where perhaps there is a private sector lab that can come in and do the work, nobody knows how much it's going to cost, and the municipalities have no idea whether this is one more offload.

I won't even get into the fact that the regional lab in northwestern Ontario also did all the testing of safe eating fish and the fact that that testing isn't going to be done now. They're no longer going to produce the guide that tells our tourists what the safe eating fish are. I won't go back and remember a situation in Wabigoon River some many years ago where there was a very big concern about unsafe eating fish, and I won't get into any details about how concerned tourist outfitters are in our part of the woods when they find out there's not going to be anybody to do that kind of testing.

It's just one of the little details that happens when you've got a government that is in such a hurry to make cuts in time for its budget that it can't take time to look at what it's doing. They needed the cuts fast to pay for the initial instalment of the tax cut, so they had no time to plan. They talk a lot about restructuring, but they had no time to do any real restructuring. All they had time to do was to cut.


There is no capacity left any longer, because of the way they've started, to do any real restructuring, any creative planning that actually brings about the government's goal of doing more for less. I can tell you that those who have survived this government's hacking, those who have survived the purging of the ministries, are demoralized and discouraged. They don't even know whether they're going to be around when the changes that are being implemented come into being, and I'll tell you, that does not make for more productivity in the ministries of the government.

Exactly the same thing, I suggest to you, is happening in health care, where planning was going on at a local level to streamline our hospital service. It was slow, it was difficult, as former ministers of health, one of whom is sitting beside me, know only too well. But it was happening. It was happening at a community level, and then along come Jim Wilson and Ernie Eves, and what do they do? They take $1.3 billion away from our hospitals, away from the front lines of our hospitals, and now there is no longer a climate for working together for long-term, effective, creative change.

People are desperate about their own futures. They're desperate to provide the services that are needed and they are competing for the resources that are left, a competition between institutions, a competition between communities. Our capacity for planning to deliver the most effective health care in our region and our community is almost shattered.

Now the government is going to say: "Look, we kept our promise not to cut health care. Look, the $17.4 billion is back, in fact it's $17.7 billion." I don't know exactly what they're doing with the $17.7 billion. I know they're doing addiction counselling in the Ministry of Health now, not in the Ministry of Community and Social Services. That's a $35-million shift. I don't know how much of a shell game is being played here and how many services are being moved in.

I don't know, when they talk about having a nutrition program for expectant mothers -- which I think is a good idea; in fact I proposed it -- whether or not that fits with the cuts that were announced last month to the public health units that are doing those nutritional visits. I don't know how that all fits together. I don't know whether or not the $17.7 billion is now being spent or if it's kind of there for the minister to make good announcements with for the next year. All I know for sure is, whatever games the government is playing with the numbers, it cut $1.3 billion from our hospitals, it cut $1.3 billion from the front lines of health care, nurses are being laid off, as many as 15,000 in the next three years alone, the waiting lines for surgery are longer, people are being discharged from hospital earlier, care is deteriorating and everyone in this province except the Minister of Health understands that.

You may well be able to save dollars by streamlining hospital services, and that's why people at a community level were working so hard to do that. But you've got to find the savings before you make the cuts and that's a basic reality this government has just never understood. The government cut health care first and the service is steadily getting worse as a result. We are not getting more for less, we are just getting less.

Everywhere I go -- and I know this is true for my colleagues; somehow I think it has to be true for the members of the Conservative caucus -- I find that people are getting more and more frustrated, I find that people are getting more and more angry, and I share their frustration. I get frustrated when the Minister of Health tries to say they have protected health care when he has slashed front-line budgets, when he is charging user fees for prescription drugs for seniors and the disabled, when his policies are driving doctors out of this province in record numbers and creating shortages that are at a crisis point in communities that have never experienced shortages before.

For the first time ever, we have an underserviced area declaration by the ministry for family practice in Sudbury. Never before have we had a shortage in a community the size of Sudbury. It may not seem like a large urban community to some members opposite, but in northern Ontario it's an urban community. It always had trouble with specialists; it never had trouble with family doctors. In Windsor, in Alliston, the Minister of Health's own home community, we're reaching crisis proportions in doctor shortages. This minister's policies drive doctors out of this province and he says he's protecting health care.

I get frustrated when the Minister of Health is so determined to get the cheapest service -- I say again the cheapest service -- that he is willing to jeopardize the health of patients in this province by bringing in cut-rate, for-profit, American kidney dialysis companies.

I get frustrated when the Minister of Education can't understand that he is cutting junior kindergarten when he cuts the funding for it. How many times will he stand up and say he's not responsible for cutting junior kindergarten any more than the Minister of Finance is responsible for municipal taxes going up just because they've cut the funding? When you cut the funding for junior kindergarten, you are responsible for cutting junior kindergarten.

I get frustrated when the Minister of Education simply washes his hands of any responsibility for the impact of the cuts he's making. I get frustrated when he so clearly wants to do his part of the budget slashing they had to do to bring in yesterday's tax cut that this minister can't bother to understand or doesn't even seem to care very much about what's happening to education.

I get frustrated when the Minister of Education makes back-room deals to deliver his part of the budget cuts, like the deal he made with the Haliburton board after some conversations, presumably, with the Minister of Natural Resources; it is even more frustrating when the Minister of Education gets caught and has to create absolute chaos in educational grants in order to cover up his own backside.

I get just as frustrated when the Minister of Education uses ministerial blackmail to force boards to sign deals with him, like the deal that was made with the Metropolitan Toronto School Board to give him some $65 million to help pay for the Minister of Finance's tax cut. The Minister of Education of course reneged on his part of the deal, so the deal becomes null and void, but the Minister of Education didn't even have --

Hon Ernie L. Eves (Deputy Premier, Minister of Finance and Government House Leader): Mr Speaker, on a point of order: I'm sorry to interrupt the leader of the official opposition, but is "blackmail" a parliamentary term?

The Deputy Speaker: I would ask the Leader of the Opposition maybe to rephrase that.

Mrs McLeod: Mr Speaker, I would be happy to have you rephrase it to any word which seems to be appropriate in its replacement. I will just move on with the speech.

My real frustration with the Minister of Education was that through all this he didn't even have the courage --

Hon Mr Eves: Mr Speaker, on a point of order: I don't understand. Is the leader of the official opposition withdrawing the comment "blackmail" or not? I understood her to ask you to withdraw it, but is she withdrawing it or not? Yes or no?

Mrs McLeod: Mr Speaker, you asked me to replace it. I'd be happy to replace it with any appropriate word. In the absence of a recommendation, I will withdraw the word. I want to move on with the speech, because my frustration with the Minister of Education, as I said, is that he didn't even have the courage to acknowledge that the deal existed.

I get most frustrated when the demand that was made on the Minister of Education by the Minister of Finance -- a willing accomplice, because this is the same Minister of Education who brags that he can find $1.2 billion, not just $400 million in education cuts -- when that demand for more cuts leads to the loss of special education support that many students need if they're going to learn, when so-called reforms to secondary school education that they're looking at so that the minister can make the other half of his deal in cutting education mean taking away the choice of a classroom education, when that's going to mean letting students get a credit for a summer job that has no relevant training in it and when that means dead-ending those students in unskilled jobs.

I get frustrated when funding of homes for the aged is cut by about one third. In my home community that means one in three homes for the aged is likely going to close. You should know that my community now has 400 people on the waiting list. I don't know where they're going to go if one of our homes for the aged is closed.

I get frustrated. I'll just change the focus of the thoughts. There are just so many things that are frustrating people in this province that I want to reflect on a few of them.


Another thing that frustrates me is to see our parks in this province being shut down, because our province then becomes the only one that is actually going backwards in resource protection. It seems to me that even if we do have a government that could care less about things like ecological balance or global warming, it might at least be concerned about tourism dollars and sustainable forestry. If the only thing they understand is an economic bottom line, let them at least look at the value of natural resources from an economic bottom line.

I get frustrated when the roads in Ontario are so bad that no tourist is going to venture back into this province, and certainly not into northern Ontario, even if the dollar is low enough to invite them in in the first place.

I get frustrated, even beyond that, when the funding for the major tourist attractions in our communities is cut to the point where they're no longer attractions. But I guess I won't need to be frustrated with that much longer, because that won't be the government's responsibility much longer. They're just going to privatize them all.

Like so many people I talk to, I get angry when I remember that all of this is to pay for a tax cut that benefits mostly the well-to-do. Don't try to tell me that this is a good-news budget.

More than frustration, more than anger, what I feel is a real concern for the future of this province, because we haven't felt the full effect of the cuts yet; there are more to come. The Minister of Municipal Affairs told us in Thunder Bay, told the municipalities, to get ready for there to be no support at all; the cuts have barely begun. The Minister of Education says he can save another half a billion dollars at least. Our communities simply cannot manage any more loss of service. We are already reeling from what we've been hit with.

I'm truly concerned that with just 10 months of a new government we are already losing, at a distressing pace, our capacity to be a caring society. I saw nothing in yesterday's budget, I see no place on this government's agenda, for such things as compassion. I don't see extra resources or support for the most vulnerable. I don't see any patience at all with an assurance of equal opportunity.

I am concerned for our children. I am concerned about the price that an entire generation will pay for this government's budget and its tax cut. I can tell you, I get angry when this government says this is all for the future of our children. Fully 40% of the people who are suffering because of those welfare cuts back last July are children. What chance are they going to have? What is going to happen to the most vulnerable of our children as mental health services and special education supports are cut back? What's going to become of children at risk when our children's aid societies can't even respond to abuse because the cuts don't give them a chance to even deal with their legal mandate?

I'm concerned about the 33% increase in evictions in Toronto this year and the fact that in that 33% increase in evictions there is a 53% increase in mother-led families that have had to turn to hostels for shelter. I was concerned when I heard the director of the Toronto mission tell us yesterday that 90% of the people who come in the doors of the Toronto mission are women and children and that 80% of them have suffered physical or sexual abuse. I wonder what their future is with this government.

I am concerned when desperate parents turn to children's aid societies for help because their children are hungry. In the last six months, the number of children taken into the care of the children's aid society in Metro Toronto alone has gone up by 100. If you want to know whether that concerns me, I'll tell you it does. If you want to ask me whether I think that has some bearing on the future of children in this province, I'll tell you that I think it does.

Mr Garry J. Guzzo (Ottawa-Rideau): Positive or negative, Lyn? Positive or negative?

Mrs McLeod: I can't believe that the member opposite asks whether that is a positive or a negative effect.

In all honesty, in all conscience, you can't look clearly at what you have done for the last 10 months to families and children and try to tell me that this is a good-news budget. You can't tell me this is about our children's future.

I'm concerned, truly concerned that this government's answer to any problem is to let the private sector step in. If the quality of public education is suffering, the members opposite don't need to care. They don't need to be as concerned as I might be, because they can say, "Those who can afford to pay can pay for something better." That's no problem for this government.

"If the cuts to hospitals jeopardize our health care, let's see what we can get cheap from the United States of America. We might even let people pay for their own health care if the waiting list for their local doctor gets a little too long."

This government has already opened the door to two-tiered health care and to two-tiered education, and that door inevitably is going to get wider and wider, but unfortunately you're only going to be able to get through the door if you're rich enough. Only the well-to-do are going to be able to afford the best in health care and education in the province of Ontario.

Just as in the United States, that same concern Senator Edward Kennedy was expressing is going to be all too real for the people of Ontario, because the gap between the haves and the have-nots is going to get greater and greater even when it comes to those most basic values of our access to health care and to education.

I can't accept the fact that that is where our province is heading and I can't help but tell you how much it concerns me, because I believe that in the end all of us -- every single one of us, even the most well-to-do, even the ones who actually are winners with the tax cut yesterday, the few who are going to have more dollars in their pockets -- all of us are going to pay a price for living in a meaner society because of what this government has done to pave the ground for the tax cut it brought in yesterday.

We're going to pay a price that cannot be estimated in anybody's budget. You won't find a page or a number anywhere in the budget that is going to give you an estimate of what price we will pay because we have failed to develop the potential of the people who make up this province. We will have wasted the most valuable resource of all. I wonder whether this is really the kind of Ontario any of us wants to live in. I wonder whether anyone really wanted a few dollars back in their pockets as badly as all that.

I think people will soon forget that they are seeing a few dollars more on their paycheque at the end of the week. They will soon see the full effect of the price they have to pay for this government to deliver that tax break. I know and I regret that we will all keep paying the price in countless ways further into the future than I can see. Don't try to tell me this is a good-news budget.

With that, I move that the motion moved by the Minister of Finance on May 7 "that this House approves in general the budgetary policy of the government" be amended by deleting the words following the words "that this House" and adding thereto the following:

"Recognizing that the budgetary policy put forward by the Minister of Finance comprises little more than a shell game, in which all but the wealthiest Ontarians will see their tax cut eaten up by new user fees and local taxes; and

"That while the Conservative government is giving taxpayers a 15% tax cut, it is taking the tax cut away from the lower- and middle-income earners piece by piece in new and higher user fees, higher tuition fees and licence fees; and

"That according to the government's own figures, the unemployment rate will actually increase over the next two years; and

"That despite the Conservatives' claim that the tax cut will create 725,000 jobs, the budget predicts that there will be 6,000 more people unemployed in 1998 than the day the Conservative government took office; and

"That the massive cuts to government services, including education, justice, health and transportation, required to pay for this tax cut are unacceptable and will transform Ontario into a province of winners and losers;

"Therefore this House has lost confidence in this government."

The Deputy Speaker: Mrs McLeod has moved that the motion moved by the Minister of Finance on May 7 "that this House approves in general the budgetary policy of the government" be amended by deleting the words following the words "that this House" and adding thereto the following:

"Recognizing that the budgetary policy put forth by the Minister of Finance comprises little more than a shell game, in which all but the wealthiest Ontarians will see their tax cut eaten up by new user fees and local taxes; and

"That while the Conservative government is giving taxpayers a 15% tax cut, it is taking the tax cut away from the lower- and middle-income earners piece by piece in new and higher user fees, higher tuition fees and licence fees; and

"That according to the government's own figures, the unemployment rate will actually increase over the next two years; and

"That despite the Conservatives' claim that the tax cut will create 725,000 jobs, the budget predicts that there will be 6,000 more people unemployed in 1998 than the day the Conservative government took office; and

"That the massive cuts to government services, including education, justice, health and transportation, required to pay for the tax cut are unacceptable and will transform Ontario into a province of winners and losers;

"Therefore this House has lost confidence in this government."

Further debate?

Mr Floyd Laughren (Nickel Belt): Mr Speaker, I move adjournment of the debate.

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

Hon Chris Hodgson (Minister of Natural Resources, Northern Development and Mines): Mr Speaker, I move adjournment of the House.

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

This House stands adjourned until 10 am tomorrow.

The House adjourned at 1633.