36th Parliament, 1st Session

L074 - Tue 14 May 1996 / Mar 14 Mai 1996
























































The House met at 1331.




Mr John Gerretsen (Kingston and The Islands): An act to incorporate the town of Kingston as a city was passed by the predecessor of this Legislature on May 18, 1846. Therefore, this Saturday, May 18, marks the sesquicentennial of the city of Kingston.

Kingston is one of the oldest European settlements in North America, the oldest in Ontario, dating back to 1673 when le comte de Frontenac landed on the shores of what is now Kingston and Fort Frontenac was built. A few remnants of the fort can still be seen and viewed today.

Kingston's position at the juncture of the St Lawrence River and Lake Ontario ensured its importance as a naval and military garrison and made it the prime commercial port in the 19th century. Kingston's central position, garrison and defences brought it to the political front. In 1841, it was selected as the first capital of the united provinces. Indeed, many of the stately limestone public buildings and private residences were built during its golden years of the 1840s and the city earned its nickname, "the limestone city."

Today, all Canadians enjoy the benefits of the two world-renowned educational facilities -- Queen's and the Royal Military College -- one of Ontario's finest medical health sciences complexes, and major tourist attractions such as Fort Henry, the Thousand Islands, the general ambience of historic Kingston, as well as the military communications and electronics museum which is to be officially opened this Friday at Canadian Forces Base Kingston.

Our community is proud of its cultural heritage and historic achievements. Our sesquicentennial slogan is "150 Years Stronger." I would like to commend the men and women who have worked so hard to organize our birthday party. Please join us in Kingston this weekend at our 150th celebration as a city.


Ms Marilyn Churley (Riverdale): I nearly dropped my morning coffee when I read in the Star over the weekend that the environment minister told a recent conference on smog reduction, "There is not a lot of room for any more government interference in people's lives."

When it comes to pollution prevention, I don't think the minister could be more wrong. I think Ontarians fully expect our government to get into the business of protecting their health. We expect government to protect the safety of our food and water; why should air be any different? I can't personally think of a more essential role of government than to protect our health and safety.

When that thick brown carpet of smog starts to roll in over the city as summer arrives, I hope Ontarians will call the minister and tell her how much they're dying for some government interference and how it's her responsibility to do something instead of hiding behind Tory ideology as some inane excuse for inaction.

The minister would be well advised to listen. A recent Angus Reid poll found that Canadians are increasingly aware of the links between environmental contamination and human health, and suggests strong support for enforcement of environmental protection policies, especially those relating to water and air pollution.

To quote an Angus Reid spokesperson regarding a recent poll, "Those who believe that Canadians are no longer concerned about environment issues are living in a dream world." I'm personally frightened to think that this dream world includes the Minister of Environment.


Mrs Janet Ecker (Durham West): I rise today to draw the attention of the House to International Family Day, which will be celebrated across the globe tomorrow, May 15. Proclaimed by the United Nations, this is a day to honour and celebrate the family.

I'm sure all members will agree that strong, healthy families are the building blocks for strong, healthy communities, which in turn are the foundation of a prosperous society. Families in the 1990s, however, face many difficult challenges. Raising children, for instance, is a particularly demanding task, especially for families where both parents work outside the home. I'm pleased that our government has been able to take steps to assist parents in this most important task.

We are investing more money in programs for children's nutrition and children's health and in services for children with speech or language disorders. I am particularly pleased that we have been able to provide the highest funding in Ontario's history for child care programs.

In addition, we have also fulfilled our pledge to put more money into the hands of hardworking families through cutting taxes. Families now have a chance to increase their total purchasing power as well as their capacity to save.

Last but not least, we are helping young families purchase a new home through a special refund of up to $1,700 on the land transfer tax.

Governments have a role to foster thriving families. This government is acting. Tomorrow, let us pay tribute to the importance of our families.


Mr Gerry Phillips (Scarborough-Agincourt): I think the most important commitment in the Common Sense Revolution was the one that said, "This plan will create more than 725,000 new jobs over the next five years." The government, as you recall, said this plan would create 145,000 jobs a year, each and every year of the new government.

We've now seen the results of the job creation program, and rather than it being the job-creating engine that was promised, we actually find that the government itself is saying there will be more people out of work three years into the Common Sense Revolution than when the government took office.

Mr John Gerretsen (Kingston and The Islands): Shame.

Mr Phillips: Those are your own numbers and I think they are, as my colleague said, a shame.

We saw the unemployment numbers come out on Friday. Sure enough, four months into this year we find 34,000 more people out of work in Ontario than at the end of December. These are the government's numbers from the Ministry of Finance; 34,000 more people out of work.


Mr Phillips: You may not hear the heckling at home. He said, "Eight thousand more jobs; 6,000 more people out of work." I think this will be the same of this government: promising 725,000 jobs; delivering more unemployment.


Mr David Christopherson (Hamilton Centre): I'm pleased to rise during Police Week in Ontario to pay tribute to the women and men, both uniformed and civilian, of the Hamilton-Wentworth police service.

Last evening there was an appreciation service where the police acknowledged the importance of partnership with the community as they provide their service to our community. Under the leadership of Chief Bob Middaugh and Deputy Chief Ken Robertson, I believe the Hamilton-Wentworth police service provides an exemplary model of working with communities.


As a former Solicitor General, of course, I take great pride in the outstanding service of all police officers in Ontario, but I think I share a feeling with other solicitors general that one always has a particular soft spot for one's home police service, and I'm no different.

I was there last evening, along with two other members from the government side as well as hundreds of citizens and their families, as awards were presented: partnership award, citation of merit, award of courage, police exemplary service awards, safety patroller of the year, James Elliott safe driving award and the Leonard G. Lawrence award.

We also had an excellent presentation by the Westdale Players. They did a play, The Safety Show, which helps kids understand the safety that they need to have when they're on our streets.

I'm very proud to be a part of a community that has a police service such as ours.


Mr Dan Newman (Scarborough Centre): I rise today as the member for Scarborough Centre in order to bring to the attention of this House news of commitment and determination, hard work and goal-setting and news of an effort that stands as an example to every person in Ontario.

Dianne Wiseman, I am pleased to announce, is a constituent of mine in Scarborough Centre and also one of the top female runners in our province and our country. For the past 18 months, Dianne has been training as a student at York University. She has committed herself to becoming the best. She has set high goals for herself, and I am so very pleased to inform this House that she has now achieved a great many of those goals.

Let me tell each of the members in this House that Dianne has recently won gold medals in both the 100-metre and 1500-metre track events at the 1996 University National Championships. She also holds the 1996 Ontario University Provincial Championship silver medal in the 1000-metre event, the silver medal in the 4-by-400-metre relay and the bronze in the 4-by-800-metre relay. It is a pleasure to announce to this House that Dianne has been named York University's female athlete of the year.

But Dianne isn't done just yet, because like all successful people, Dianne has set even higher goals for herself. Dianne is aiming at a spot on the Canadian Olympic Team and has set her sights on success in the international arena.

If the commitment to success that Dianne has shown thus far is any indicator, I am more than confident that she will accomplish these goals as well. Dianne's accomplishments are a testament to what commitment, determination and hard work can bring an individual and they stand as a model for every person in this province. Success comes to those who work towards it.

I'd like to ask every member of this House to join me today in offering congratulations and best wishes for future success to Dianne Wiseman.


Mr James J. Bradley (St Catharines): I find this difficult to believe, as will many members, but the government of Ontario is now introducing the most insidious form of gambling, video gambling machines, in bars across this province, among other places.

They are known as VLTs. They provide instant gratification to those who are addicted to gambling. I asked the minister in the House the other day how he could possibly, after all of his opposition and the opposition of the Premier, embark upon such a policy that would prey upon the most vulnerable and desperate people in our society.

The response of the Treasurer, which was to say that these activities were going on in the province now on an illegal basis and that is why the government would move forward to introduce them legally, made no sense at all. It made no sense because crack cocaine also is being purveyed across this province, but the government isn't getting into the crack cocaine business and dispensing it.

The people who will play these machines will be the people who are the most desperate, people who aren't well connected in our society so that they can get jobs, 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.

I ask the government again, how can they possibly justify embarking upon this ill-advised policy which will end up being a tax on the poor, the disadvantaged and the desperate in this province?


Mr Howard Hampton (Rainy River): Yesterday I disclosed to the House the existence of the Solicitor General's paper Review of Police Services in Ontario. It's very interesting to read some of the concepts.

First of all, "Selling department products, assets or services: Under this approach, police services could generate revenue through the manufacture and sale of actual products, such as law enforcement or crime prevention training videos."

One asks, what principle is this about? What is going to happen here? Crime prevention, we know, is important. What happens if you don't have the money to pay for the crime prevention service that's going to be operating? Do you do without the service? What happens to women, for example, who are the victims of violence and don't have the money? Do they do without the service? What happens to neighbourhoods where people don't have a lot of money? There are a lot of poorer communities in the province? Do they do without the service?

Another concept: selling advertising rights so the police would endorse so-and-so's product. I wonder what principle is at work here. I thought the primary role of police in our society was to prevent crime and then to do law enforcement, not to endorse someone's commercial product and make it seem as if it were somehow more desirable to society. I really wonder what principle is at work in this concept.


Mr John O'Toole (Durham East): I rise today in recognition of the new status given a historic building in Port Perry. This past Saturday an official ceremony and unveiling of a plaque commemorating Town Hall 1873 took place in Port Perry. The Historic Sites and Monuments Board of Canada gave special recognition and tribute to Town Hall 1873 as a historic building.

Twenty years ago, a tradition of featuring professional Canadian artists began in the restored town hall. Maureen Forrester, Canada's acclaimed contralto, highlighted the official opening with a gala concert on February 22, 1976. On May 11, 1996, Town Hall 1873 again presented Maureen Forrester to commemorate this very special event.

May 17 is International Museum Day, and museums from across the country and the province are displaying various collections of interest in the Legislative Building. I would encourage members to visit my riding of Durham East, specifically Scugog Shores Museum, Clarke Museum and Bowmanville Museum. I would ask the members of the Legislature to join with me today in recognizing the efforts of communities and museums put into historic buildings and collections to preserve Ontario's heritage.



Hon Chris Hodgson (Minister of Natural Resources, Northern Development and Mines): Later today, I will be introducing a bill that will improve the way government regulates the aggregate, petroleum and brine industries in the province of Ontario. The bill proposes amendments to the Petroleum Resources Act and the Aggregate Resources Act that will eliminate red tape and inefficiency, remove barriers to private sector job creation and streamline delivery.

When this new business approach is implemented, the aggregate and petroleum industries will become more responsible for direct program delivery and more accountable for meeting provincial environmental standards. The ministry will concentrate on its core business of policy development, setting and enforcement of standards, and approval of permits and licences. This restructuring is part of the government's plan to provide better services for less cost to the taxpayer.

Amendments to the Aggregate Resources Act will simplify legislation and regulations governing the aggregate sector. The ministry will work with the industry and with other key stakeholders to develop detailed guidelines to be included in new technical standards.

This is similar to the approach taken with the forest industry in the implementation of the Crown Forest Sustainability Act.

The ministry will develop compliance partnerships whereby the industry will be responsible for the day-to-day site inspections and monitoring, while the ministry will concentrate on auditing and enforcement.

Industry will also submit compliance reports and the ministry will verify those reports through targeted auditing. Companies, agencies and individuals will remain liable for their actions.

Revisions to the Petroleum Resources Act will allow the ministry to streamline and simplify the regulations governing the petroleum and brine industries. Operational standards will be developed to provide detailed technical guidelines for those industries. These standards will be similar to the current Canadian Standards Association standard for hydrocarbon storage.

To ensure that the industries comply with Ontario's environmental protection standards, MNR will continue to conduct field inspections. In addition, private inspectors, who will be certified by the ministry, will also play a role in ensuring compliance with standards. The revised Petroleum Resources Act will also enhance enforcement to include increased fines.

A new trust account funded by the industries will pay for the operation of the geological core and chip library managed by the MNR, ensuring the continuation of this information and research service of the industry and academic institutions.

Mr David S. Cooke (Windsor-Riverside): On a point of order, Mr Speaker: I'm looking for the statement the minister is reading. We have a statement from the minister, but it's a different statement. I think the rules say we have to have the statement. We don't have this statement, Mr Minister, and until we do, it shouldn't be continued with.


Hon Mr Hodgson: There is a shorter one here that they probably wanted. I can conclude by saying that the amendments to the current statutes --

The Speaker (Hon Allan K. McLean): Order. The members have a right to have a copy of the statement you're delivering; the rules indicate that. Does your staff have the statement? Are they delivering it? The Minister of Health has a statement. Perhaps we could proceed with the Minister of Health's statement and then come back to yours later once it's delivered.

Mrs Lyn McLeod (Leader of the Opposition): On a point of order, Mr Speaker: I am not sure it is acceptable for the minister to go on with a statement which is unseen. It's not just that the wrong statement was tabled, but we --

The Speaker: I have asked the minister to have the statement delivered while the other minister is making his statement.

Mrs McLeod: If I may, it seems to be most appropriate if the minister defers his statement until tomorrow, because we simply have not been given any due notice the statement is going to be made. The wrong statement is being been made in the House. We're ready to respond to the statement that was provided to us if that's the statement the minister wishes to make.

The Speaker: We will proceed with the statement from the Minister of Health and we will iron out that little problem in the meantime.


Hon Jim Wilson (Minister of Health): I'm pleased to rise in the House today to announce the commitment of $23.5 million to community-based mental health services. This represents an investment in front-line health services for some of the province's most vulnerable individuals.

Before commenting further about this investment, I'd like to take this opportunity to provide for the House the historical context for today's announcement. Certainly members of all parties will be aware that the road to reforming the mental health system has been a long one. Along the way, mistakes have been made. It is imperative we not repeat those mistakes.

The Heseltine report of 1983 was one of the first documents to take a broad, critical look at the mental health system. Critical to Dr Heseltine's recommendations was the belief that mental health supports and services need to be patient-focused.

In 1991, the Provincial Community Mental Health Committee, under the direction of Mr Robert Graham, developed a framework for the delivery of community mental health services in Ontario. The Graham report of 1988 made a series of recommendations to create a coordinated and integrated system for mental health. The Graham report emphasized the downsizing of institutional care in favour of increased community services.

In keeping with this belief, spending on community- based mental health services began to increase. From 1986-87 to 1989-90, expenditures on community supports increased incrementally from $55.6 million to $106.6 million. By 1995-96, expenditures on community programs had reached about $143 million.

However, these previous investments in supports and services have proven to be inadequate to meet the needs of consumers. Services for people with severe mental illnesses were particularly lacking. Most importantly, increased community funding was not directly linked to changes in institutional mental health programming.

Over the last decade, the downsizing of psychiatric beds has continued. In the 1960s, the provincial bed total was around 14,000. From 1990-91 to 1995-96, the number of beds decreased from 3,713 to 2,920. The shortage of community supports and services and the continued institutional downsizing without clear linkages to alternatives in the community have persisted in our system.

In June 1993, the previous government released its policy framework on mental health reform. In this 10-year plan, the government identified the goals of its reform strategy and recommended targets, including bed closures, to be achieved. At present, we are in year 3 of the reform process initiated by the previous administration.

This review of the province's history of mental health reform demonstrates that regardless of party affiliation, legislators have recognized the shortcomings of the mental health system and have focused our successive reform efforts on its strengths.

It is against this backdrop that I am today announcing the allocation of the community investment fund. The planning process for the community investment fund was initiated by the previous government in December 1994. The community investment fund is a catalyst for important change within the mental health system. It is an upfront investment at the community level in supports and services for people with severe mental illnesses.

The $23.5-million community investment fund is a critical component of the reform process because it will ensure that community services, such as case management, crisis response, consumer-survivor initiatives and family programs, are in place before any more changes are made to the number of psychiatric hospital beds in the province.

The community investment fund planning exercise has yielded many examples of innovative thinking and integrated program design that are worthy of special mention. About 30 projects located across the province are ready for approval now. More than 150 others will be announced in the coming months.

For example, in Hamilton a unique crisis intervention proposal has been developed. The program teams mental health providers with the police to provide an outreach service to those who have traditionally not accessed the health system, people such as the homeless and residents of lodging homes. The program's focus is to avoid hospitalization by dealing with problems before they become a crisis.

It is important to emphasize that psychiatric beds will always be a feature of the mental health system. It is for this reason that I have placed a moratorium on the downsizing of provincial psychiatric beds for this fiscal year. This direction represents a commonsense change to the plans set out by the previous government. My ministry will halt any further downsizing until we have allocated the entire $23.5 million and had the opportunity to see evidence of the success of the new community programs.

This is our government's commitment to ensuring that people with mental illness will be appropriately supported in their communities before any further changes are made to provincial psychiatric bed numbers.

Mental health programs are a priority for the government. Program funding for the community investment fund and all mental health services has been fully protected. Any administrative efficiencies located within the envelope will be reinvested into other mental health programs.

The allocation of the community investment fund will help to ensure that the shift towards community-based services and community-based care is achieved in a planned and sensitive manner for Ontarians with mental illness.


Hon Chris Hodgson (Minister of Natural Resources, Northern Development and Mines): I apologize to the House. I will read the statement that they were given.

It's my privilege later to introduce the Aggregate and Petroleum Resources Statute Law Amendment Act, 1996, for first reading. This new bill, once passed, will amend four existing statutes: the Aggregate Resources Act, the Petroleum Resources Act, the Mining Act and the Ontario Energy Board Act. These amendments will restructure the ministry's aggregate, petroleum and salt solution mining or brine programs to make industry more accountable for meeting provincial environmental standards.

As the honourable members are aware, our government has pledged to change the way government works by providing better services at a price the taxpayer can afford. We're determined to stimulate economic growth and job creation by eliminating red tape and by removing barriers to investment by the business sector. We will shift more responsibility for direct program delivery to industry, making it more accountable for meeting provincial environmental standards. The Ministry of Natural Resources will then be able to concentrate on its core business of policy development, the setting and enforcement of standards and approvals of permits and licences.

This new approach to the way we do business will remove the complex, detailed legislation and regulations that currently administer the aggregate, petroleum and brine industries. It will put in place new, streamlined legislation and regulations, backed by detailed technical standards that are understandable and enforceable. These new standards will be developed in consultation with key stakeholders and will be adopted by regulation.

Amendments to the current statutes contained in the Aggregate and Petroleum Resources Statute Law Amendment Act, 1996, which I will introduce later today, will make the aggregate, petroleum and brine industries more accountable for meeting Ontario's environmental standards. As well, these measures are consistent with our government's determination to create jobs, cut red tape and streamline delivery of government services.

I would like to point out to the House that we're honoured to have representatives from the Aggregate Producers' Association of Ontario and the Ontario Petroleum Institute in the gallery today. I want to thank them for coming down.



Mrs Elinor Caplan (Oriole): I rise to respond to the statement by the Minister of Health. I guess the concern I have as I look at this is that while his history is correct and there has been tremendous support for a gradual shift from inpatient institutional psychiatric and mental health care to community mental health care, I agree with him that mistakes have been made. The closing of Lakeshore Psychiatric Hospital by a previous Conservative government showed us what not to do, and over the years we have been playing catch-up as a result of that.

However, the concern I have is that this minister says very clearly that all mental health services have been protected. I'm pleased to hear that, because I was told that he was cutting community mental health services by 2% this year, 3% next year, for a total cut of 5%. I'm interpreting this as he is not doing that, and I know that all of the community mental health programs which have been told they are going to have to deal with a 5% cut will be pleased to know they are no longer going to have a 5% cut, that this minister has today announced that he is not cutting community mental health programs by the 2% and 3%.

I'm also concerned because as a result of that 2% and 3% cut, that 5% cut --


Mrs Caplan: I have the letter, Minister. I'm telling you that in our own community, because of a $25,000 shortfall, a community psychiatric group home is not going to be able to offer spaces for people who would either be otherwise homeless and on our streets or in institutions. While everyone, I think, would be supportive of knowing that you're not going to be forcing people out of institutions if there are no services for them in the community, that admission is an admission of failure.

We have seen a gradual shift. We know that psychiatric hospitals in this province are under review. Some of them are actually suggested for closing. We have been very concerned about that occurring unless the services are in place.

What you've said today is that you are not going to be pushing people out unless services are available to them in the community, but I say to you that the announcement that you have made today is not only an admission of failure, it is also a concern because what I see here is a bit of a shell game.

What we've heard from your own ministry is that you're cutting community mental health programs, and what I'm hearing today is that you are investing in front-line services. What I hope is that your announcement is going to see an expansion of community mental health services that are long overdue, that you are not in fact going to be cutting 2% and 3% from community mental health budgets. The fact that you've acknowledged today that you're not doing that will be good news.

I'm also concerned about the elimination of non-profit housing which is providing homes for people who do not have to be institutionalized. I say to the minister, reconsider some of those cuts.


Mr Michael A. Brown (Algoma-Manitoulin): I was most interested in the announcement, or one of the announcements, by the Minister of Natural Resources, which we take to be one and the same, or we could be wrong.

I think essentially what the minister intends to do here is the Crown Forest Sustainability Act, only for aggregate. Well, I think the minister would want to know that we are not in favour of deregulation but we will support a reregulation in this area. But when you were over on this side, I think -- and you must continue to share this view, and that is, what you've actually announced today, and when we see the act, it will be pretty much a shell defined mostly by the regulations and the manuals that accompany it.

We are not prepared as a political party, as Liberals, to proceed with this bill until we see the regulations and the manuals. You would not proceed on the Crown Forest Sustainability Act on the basis of the shell of legislation we were given for that. You will not proceed with this one without regulations and manuals, because we have a sneaking suspicion that this is not about reregulation; it is about total deregulation.

I just had a call in my office here at Queen's Park from a person in Ontario from the county of Perth who was most upset with aggregate extraction that was diminishing the value of his property. You know and I know that is not unusual all over Ontario. You know and I know some of these instances are unacceptable and need to be resolved. If your new regulations will do that, if your new manuals will do that, we would support it, but I think, because you've cut MNR staff, you intend to deregulate the industry.


Mr Floyd Laughren (Nickel Belt): I want to respond to the announcement by the Minister of Health and to indicate that we welcome this announcement today. Surely there are times when we all together recognize that the most vulnerable people in our society need protection, and I welcome both the announcement of the extra money going in and of the moratorium, because I think that does give a breathing space to make sure that we're moving not too hastily in this area and that there are going to be facilities in the community before the downsizing goes any further in the hospital system.

As well, I appreciated the acknowledgement of the minister that other governments had played a role in this process and that there are issues which should not be unduly partisan. If I could convince the minister to carry that same philosophy into the appointments to the health councils of the province, I would consider that I had achieved something major in the life of public policy in this province.

I also hope the minister is able to stand back and take a look as the hospital restructuring goes on -- and we support the whole principle of hospital restructuring -- but I hope he's able to stand back and make sure that as that restructuring and downsizing and deinstitutionalizing goes on in the hospital system the community-based services are there as well and to carry forth the principles that he has acknowledged are important in this regard for the psychiatric part of the health care system, that the same will apply for the hospital system.

Other than those short few comments, I want to indicate that we welcome this announcement today.


Ms Shelley Martel (Sudbury East): Let me begin by saying to the minister that the second statement was probably not much better than the first with respect to what the implications are in this province for environmental protection and for the government's role in ensuring that the practices we use to extract natural resources in the province, whether they be aggregate resources or forestry, are practices that are environmentally sound and can stand the test in the outside community in which we hope to sell the products of those very resources.

My concern with the announcement today is that it really demonstrates that this government, this minister and his colleague the Minister of Environment care less and less about sound environmental practices in this province and are more and more willing to offload those on to the big companies in the province without any assurance that at the end of the day this province will have any credibility when it comes to assuring everyone we want to sell to that the very practices we are using to extract resources and then to sell them abroad are sustainable ones.

The minister is correct when he says that this statement very closely parallels the one he made with respect to the Crown Forest Sustainability Act. He said at that time, talking about the responsibilities the MNR is transferring to clients and partners, that:

"The MNR plans to transfer a number of responsibilities, along with the cost, to clients and partners. These will be activities more appropriate for the private sector or others to assume. They include in that case forest operations, including harvesting, renewal, funding for renewal, collection, operational science, assessing reporting and self-compliance."

Minister, the problem we have is that we have a number of examples in the forestry industry where when you leave forestry companies to self-comply, it is very clear, and it has been demonstrated by consultants hired by your own ministry, that people are more interested in making a fast buck, a quick profit, than they are in ensuring that the practices they use are going to guarantee sustainability of those resources and use of them for future generations.

We saw that in the forestry industry, and my fear, Minister, is as you move to self-compliance and allow the industry to look after itself, you are then going to see those examples in the aggregate industry, because whether we like it or not, there are always bad players in every industry.

The second thing that's clear from the statement is that it's going to be absolutely impossible for this government to monitor anything that's happening now in the aggregate industry. The fact of the matter is you are laying off 2,100 people at your ministry; almost half of the full-time equivalents are being lost at your ministry. Those are people who are supposed to be involved in the protection and the monitoring of natural resources in this province, resources which belong to all of the people in the province. With the massive layoffs that are coming, none of those people are going to be able to do that on our behalf.




Mrs Lyn McLeod (Leader of the Opposition): My first question is for the Premier. Premier, during the election campaign you made a firm and absolute commitment that you would not cut the funding for law enforcement, but the April 1996 business plan for the Ministry of the Attorney General showed a $33-million cut. So you broke your commitment right then.

You told the people of Ontario, "That's it; there are not going to be any more cuts in our budget." Then we look at last week's budget and we see that the $33-million cut in the budget of the Ministry of the Attorney General has ballooned to $116 million.

You have broken your commitment not to cut spending on law enforcement, not only once but twice. After stating that your government was going to fight crime, that this was one of the areas where there would be no cuts, why are you requiring your Attorney General to cut an additional $116 million from his budget?

Hon Michael D. Harris (Premier): First of all, the Attorney General is not required to cut anything from his budget, but if, through streamlining, through better management practices, he's able to save some dollars -- and these plans have come forward from the ministries themselves -- then what would you suggest we do? Carry on wasting them, like you did with the Liberals? "No, no, no." Carry on wasting the money, like you did with the NDP? If you can efficiently deliver first-class, quality services from the Ministry of the Attorney General, and I might say the same with the Solicitor General, then we're very interested in looking at that.

In the campaign, we committed and we said: "Law and order is a priority with us. Policing issues are a priority. Prosecuting crimes is a priority with us." Surely you would not expect, if there are more efficient ways to get a bigger bang for the buck, to prosecute more criminals, to fight more crime, that we ought not to pursue those alternatives. That's what we campaigned on and that's what we're doing.

Mrs McLeod: Premier, I'm sorry, but I don't believe, and I don't think anybody in this province believes, that you can slash $116 million from the budget of the Attorney General and not have a significant and a detrimental effect in your ability as a government to fight crime. You have broken your commitment on law enforcement. You had said this was an area that was untouchable, and you haven't just touched it, you've taken an axe to it.

This was your promise, a promise that you would not touch law enforcement. Tell us exactly how you expect your Attorney General to slash $116 million from his budget and not gut law enforcement.

Hon Mr Harris: My commitment to the people of Ontario was that law enforcement would be a priority. We said we would seek efficient ways to accomplish this. In New Directions, Volume Three, which we put out, we pointed out all kinds -- you said we promised not to touch it. We promised to touch it; we promised to improve it; we promised to make it better; we promised to set new priorities.

Quite frankly, when you throw numbers around, you're not to be believed. Your numbers are all wrong. Your numbers have never proven to stand up. You've accused the Attorney General of so many things, all of which proved to be false. You campaign on false numbers. You bring forth false numbers. You're not to be trusted. You're not to be believed. I don't know why anybody would have any credibility in anything you say.

Mrs McLeod: Premier, I'd be very pleased if you would clarify the situation for me. Tell me which statement is wrong. It says here in your campaign document, "Our plan guarantees full funding for law enforcement," and it says here in your budget that law enforcement, the operating budget of the Attorney General, is to go from $753 million to $637 million. These are your figures. I'm not making this up; it's your budget. Is your budget not telling us the truth? Is your budget not credible?

Where do you expect the Attorney General to find $116 million, without gutting law enforcement? How is that providing full funding for law enforcement, according to your campaign document?

He's going to do it by letting car thieves and break-and-enters get under the bar so they're never charged. Tell him he can't do that. Tell him where you think he can find $116 million.

Hon Mr Harris: The Ministry of the Attorney General is making suggestions to the Attorney General on how they can do more with less, on how they can actually do a better job with less.

You're talking about my commitments in the campaign. In the campaign, during a campaign event, I went to a police station to show where there was duplication and where we could cut dollars. We promised to find savings; we promised to change the way the system was being delivered. I don't know what you were doing that campaign day, but obviously not much, and you weren't paying attention to what we were saying in our campaign.


Mr Mike Colle (Oakwood): The question is to the Solicitor General. Minister, the Metro Toronto Police Force is about to impose a $70 user fee on every burglar alarm call that is taken by the police. Is this $70 fee not part of a privatization program, an offloading of general police duties on to the private sector? Isn't this a new tax on policing services in Metro?

Hon Bob Runciman (Solicitor General and Minister of Correctional Services): I'm not aware that Metro has approved that. I understand -- I was listening to the news clips this morning -- that it's being recommended by a variety of officials.

Certainly we have a view with respect to the costs associated with false alarms. I think it's a problem right across this province, but it's perhaps a more significant one in terms of cost to Metro, being the largest jurisdiction.

The overwhelming number of alarms that police respond to are false alarms and I think there is a responsibility that should be placed upon the owner of the alarm system with respect to recurring false alarms which take police away from their real responsibilities. I think there is room here for some kind of provision to ensure that people maintain their alarm systems, make sure they have the best possible technology so that our police resources are not being wasted.

Mr Colle: This $70 fee which has been approved by the police services board is on all alarms. Do you agree that this is a good, new approach to take in policing, user fees on people who have break-ins?

I ask you to note that the president of Alarm Force, a private company appearing before the Metro human services board yesterday said, "It's almost a suicidal decision to impose this fee." Mr Joel Matlin says: "There will be a displacement of police enforcement to the private sector because people won't pay the 70 bucks. They'll take the cheap cut rate of 25 bucks and go to their local security office to do it."

Is this not privatization, offloading, forgetting about the importance of break-and-enter in homes and businesses across Metro? Are you looking away from the problems that people in Metro are having with crime?

Hon Mr Runciman: I haven't heard the arguments on the side of implementing a fee based on every alarm received. I've certainly heard concerns expressed across the province on repeat false alarms. I share your concern with respect to a fee for an initial alarm. That may not be appropriate, but it's not something that's been brought forward. We will take a look at it.

Mr Colle: The other question deals with your constant referral in your white paper on reviewing police services to volunteerism and amateur police, workfare people doing security. Are you really telling us that you, as Solicitor General, are encouraging, for instance, Guardian Angel types to take over policing in neighbourhoods and high crime areas across this province? Do you support that movement towards these Guardian Angel types across Ontario?

Hon Mr Runciman: I'm encouraging a review of policing which hasn't taken place in this province for 25 years. We know that policing faces very major, significant challenges as we enter the next century. We're trying to address that. We're facing up to the challenges, unlike the two previous governments.



Mr David Christopherson (Hamilton Centre): My question is to the Premier regarding his government's latest attack on the working women and men of this province. After ramming through your anti-worker Bill 7, which entirely replaced the existing Ontario Labour Relations Act, and then refusing any public consultation on reforms to the WCB, which are currently under way, you're now at it again.

Last week your Minister of Labour met with Ontario labour leaders and told them two things: first, that there would be full consultation on the broader changes to the Employment Standards Act; and second, that the amendments introduced yesterday would be strictly housekeeping and clarification.

Then came the surprise, where your amendments take away rights from both union and non-union workers. Premier, why would your government announce full consultation on an extensive review of the Employment Standards Act and then launch your surprise attack on the rights of workers as you did yesterday?

Hon Michael D. Harris (Premier): I'm pleased to respond to the question. The Minister of Labour is not here today but I am informed that she met recently with Gord Wilson, as she does meet regularly with labour leaders across the province, and she indicated two things: that there would be a bill introduced very shortly making some modifications, and that this bill would be available for review, input and discussion; as well, she indicated there would be broader discussion, as the member has indicated, and broader changes before any further changes are introduced this fall, and that there would be ongoing discussions on those broader measures.

I believe that some of the changes introduced are very consistent with what other NDP governments have been doing across the country; some housekeeping was indicated -- that they would be done. As well, there will be broader consultation, and we're very interested in working with union leaders across the province as we work on that.

Mr Christopherson: I spoke this morning to Gord Wilson, the president of the Ontario Federation of Labour, who was also on CBC Newsworld just within the last hour, where he said he has never sat down with an Ontario labour minister before and been intentionally misled. Those are his words. The CLC today, at their convention in British Columbia, will take on the issue of the integrity of this government in terms of the relationship you have with labour leaders.

Premier, you suggest that these are nothing other than housekeeping and clarification, but I see you shaking your head. Maybe I need to hear from you exactly what you think the changes were that your minister told Gord Wilson and others were merely housekeeping and clarification. Quite frankly, they're not. They take away rights that workers have in this province, and your minister did not tell them that was happening.

Premier, I ask you again, will you please tell us why you say there'll be broad consultations on a full review and then launch a surprise attack on the labour movement, on the rights they have in this province?

Hon Mr Harris: I didn't say they were all housekeeping. I said some are housekeeping and others are some changes that have been brought in in other jurisdictions. For example, in British Columbia the NDP government gave workplace parties with collective agreements more flexibility if they were to come to an agreement, provided whatever they agreed to did not violate employment standards.

Something similar is being proposed here in Ontario. It will give more flexibility to unions, employers and workers in the province. Other amendments permit electronic filing of complaints. It seems to be pretty well housekeeping, given the changes that are there. It's consumer-friendly; it expedites the process. Some are housekeeping and some are changes to try to give a little more flexibility in the process.

I think when labour leaders take a look at the changes -- certainly they're welcome to have input and suggest any amendments if they think there's a little fine-tuning required -- they'll find that, other than the normal rhetoric they tend to want to engage in, this is quite progressive and catching up perhaps with some other jurisdictions and some good interim steps while a broader review takes place.

Mr Christopherson: That doesn't square with the viewpoint from the Ontario Federation of Labour, given that, contrary to your suggestion that all they do is spew rhetoric, they were quite prepared to accept the fact that there would be amendments introduced yesterday that would be housekeeping and clarifications. That's not the case as they see it.

Premier, I ask you, unless you're deliberately trying to pick another fight with the labour movement, will you agree today to withdraw the bill and the amendments introduced yesterday and incorporate them into the broader review, or at the very least, will you commit to province-wide public hearings on these changes? If you disagree with those, the labour movement will have no choice but to believe you are deliberately trying to pick another war with them.

Hon Mr Harris: The labour movement should know that we're interested in working with them in a very cooperative way to achieve the goals we have to balance the budget -- the $11-billion mess that you left us -- to restore balance in the management-worker relationships, to restore jobs to this great province of Ontario and bring some hope and opportunity to people. We're very interested in doing this and pursuing these goals, both in consultation on this bill -- as the minister indicated, it's a two-step process -- and in broader consultation on more significant changes that we think are required before the end of the year.

Mr Len Wood (Cochrane North): You're going to pick a fight with the labour people in this province. Pick a fight, Mike; that's all you want.

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

Mr Len Wood: Pick a fight with the workers in this province.

The Speaker: Order. I won't warn the member again. Take your seat.

Hon Mr Harris: When you embarrass Peter Kormos, that's saying something, I want to say to the member.

The other comment is, do I look at public rhetoric and statements made and have confidence in those as expressed by Mr Wilson or confidence in the Minister of Labour? I can tell you with a 100% clear conscience, I go with the Minister of Labour.



Mr Floyd Laughren (Nickel Belt): I have a question for the Minister of Health, who knows, I believe, of an American marketing company called IMS that compiles profiles of doctors' prescriptions from pharmacies, and in turn they sell this information back to pharmaceutical companies which then use that information to market their particular drugs to individual doctors.

IMS, the company involved, claims to have for sale information on 80% of Canadian doctors. We've obtained some promotional material that reads, "Wouldn't you like to know who those doctors are?" as it shows the number of doctors and the drugs that are being prescribed. The material goes on to say things such as, "Find Rx" -- the formula they use -- "is quite simply everything you need to know about Canadian physicians in order to maximize your sales and market share, and Find Rx is profiling based on the ongoing tracking of actual prescriptions as generated by the acknowledged leader in pharmaceutical market information, IMS Canada." This information, Minister, is collected by IMS without the consent of doctors, and of course for a profit.

Can the minister tell us how is it that IMS does this, how patients' names are removed from the prescription sheet, and do you support this kind of activity by this American company?

Hon Jim Wilson (Minister of Health): I thank the honourable member for the question. I should say for the record I too have asked the college to respond to the Globe and Mail article of May 9. That's the first I heard of it in the Ministry of Health so we don't get off on a track here that the honourable member might be pursuing that has nothing to do with this at this time.

As you know, it was your government that brought in the Regulated Health Professions Act and the College of Pharmacists self-regulated profession. We've asked them to work this out with the OMA and the College of Physicians and Surgeons and hopefully, between physicians and pharmacists, respecting their self-regulation, they will be able to settle this issue. Right now the Ministry of Health is not involved in this issue at all.

Mr Laughren: You should be, Minister. This is a breach of doctor confidentiality. That has been proven. IMS states it themselves in their promotional material and they claim that it does affect prescription patterns. That's why they want to sell the information back to the drug companies. This is manipulation of doctors' prescriptions, plain and simple, and you promised during the debate on Bill 26 that you would work with the privacy commissioner to introduce legislation that would protect the privacy of health care information.

As far as your saying that you don't have a role in this and the Ministry of Health doesn't have a role in this, let me tell you what the Minister of Health in British Columbia had to say about this when they banned the sale of prescribing profiles in March. As soon as he learned about it he said:

"This is an outrageous breach of physician confidentiality that has the potential to greatly affect prescription patterns. It's an exploitive practice that has everything to do with fuelling profit margins for drug companies and nothing to do with public health and safety."

Minister, what are you waiting for? You have the authority under the Regulated Health Professions Act to intervene. Why don't you do it now?

Hon Mr Wilson: Again, I think the comparison to British Columbia is a little unfair. This province has a little more experience with respect to self-regulation and our Regulated Health Professions Act, which actually the member's party can take credit for, is one of the toughest and best in the world, and other provinces like British Columbia are following that.

You can't have it both ways. You can't say you're self-regulating with respect to these matters. Remember, all of the members of the college, whether they're appointed by your government or our government, have to take off their pharmacist hat, have to take off their physician hat, and they are there to serve the public good. That is the bottom line, and I am assured by the college that it is reviewing this matter and that it is going to try to work it out with the physicians.

I'm also assured that the patients' names are in no way contained in this exchange of information between some pharmacists and IMS. If the patients' names were involved, I would be very concerned. Right now they're not. It's commercial property and we're waiting for a recommendation from the College of Pharmacists to see how they want us to handle this matter respecting their role as self-regulators.

Mr Laughren: I can perhaps short-circuit the process a little bit. The College of Pharmacists will tell you they're quite happy with this. They make big bucks out of this; their members do. I can tell you that they're not opposed to it, but the Ontario Medical Association is. They had this to say about it: "Prescriptions are confidential and should be accessible to only those parties involved in their dispensing and payment."

If I could just enlarge on that for a moment, a prescription should be between the doctor, the patient and the dispenser -- nobody else -- and now it's being made available to drug companies, American drug companies, strictly for profit-making; no other reason whatsoever but to promote their own drugs. This is fundamentally wrong, and for you to stand in your place and say, "No, I have transferred and that responsibility lies with the College of Pharmacists," is wrong, dead wrong. I hope you will reconsider your response because you should not be abdicating your responsibility. You obviously have the authority to intervene. Why don't you simply stand in your place today and say, "That is fundamentally wrong and I will issue a directive accordingly"?

Hon Mr Wilson: At this point in time, I am confident the college is looking at this matter. The May 9 article in the Globe and Mail, for example, quoted the registrar of the college as first of all taking this matter seriously, contrary to what the honourable member has just suggested. Secondly, the college has asked for some time to perhaps improve the code of ethics it has which right now prohibits the release of confidential patient information. Thirdly, they've asked for some time to define what they call the public benefit. If there is no public benefit to this exchange of information, then the college will act, and I will certainly act upon recommendations from the college. This is a matter they can deal with, though, within the scope of the Regulated Health Professions Act and within their jurisdiction as a self-regulated college.


Mr Sean G. Conway (Renfrew North): My question is to the Minister of Environment and Energy. In recent weeks, gasoline prices in this province and country have shot up dramatically. In Ontario in the last number of weeks, gasoline prices have increased in the order of 15%, injecting a serious dose of inflation into the economy. As the Minister of Energy for Ontario, what are you prepared to do to protect the consuming public from this kind of gasoline price increase?

Hon Brenda Elliott (Minister of Environment and Energy): First of all, I would like to make clear what we believe the role of the Minister of Energy is in a situation like this. My job is to make sure there is a steady and reliable source of energy for the province of Ontario, whether it be gasoline, electricity, natural gas or whatever.

We make sure, as a matter of course, that we monitor the gasoline prices and provide a database of information should there be a concern. There has been a concern expressed right across this province -- indeed beyond this province; across Canada and into the United States -- about the price of gasoline. If it is brought to our attention that there is illegal activity with regard to the price-setting of gasoline, that then becomes a regulatory issue which is taken care of through the Ministry of Consumer and Commercial Relations and hence the federal government as well.

I'm sure that my honourable colleague across the way will know that today the federal minister has indicated that the federal government is going to undertake a review to make sure that nothing illegal is occurring and that price-setting is occurring correctly.


Mr Conway: You're just going to sit on your political posterior and do nothing. That's not good enough. There are 11 million people in this province who expect you and the provincial government to do something. Why don't you pretend the oil companies are welfare cases, pretend for a minute that the big oil companies doing business in Ontario are welfare cases and then unleash the hammers of hell on them? Because if it's poor people, young people, old people, disabled people, the Harris Tories are willing to go to battle. But if it's the sons and daughters of John D. Rockefeller, you're prepared to do not a damn thing.


The Speaker (Hon Allan K. McLean): Order. Would the member put his question.

Mr Conway: If you're not in the pockets of big oil, will --


The Speaker: Order. Member.

Mr Conway: If you and your colleagues in the Harris government are not in the pockets of big oil, will you, before this weekend, call the executives from big oil doing business in Ontario into your office and tell them that the kind of price-gouging and price-fixing that is picking the pockets of Ontario consumers and Ontario business must stop.

Hon Mrs Elliott: If the honourable member across the way has any evidence to indicate that is occurring, I do hope he will have the courtesy to share that with the government and hence pass that on to Minister Manley.


The Speaker: Order. I can't hear the member's answer. Could we have some order. Minister?

Hon Mrs Elliott: If the member across the way is indicating that perhaps the Ontario government should look into regulating the industry, I can only say to him that in most jurisdictions where regulation has occurred, prices in fact have risen. In Nova Scotia, where deregulation occurred, the prices in fact dropped. This is a worldwide commodity that has fluctuations. Our understanding is that it is coming as a result of a long and difficult winter with higher than expected energy consumption.


The Speaker: I can't hear the minister. Would you wrap up your answer, please.

Hon Mrs Elliott: Having said that, this is being looked into by the federal minister, as the appropriate body, and it will be looked at carefully.


Ms Shelley Martel (Sudbury East): I have a question for the Minister of Natural Resources. On April 12, we received a document from you entitled Facilities Operation Impact and it listed those MNR facilities to be kept open, to be closed or to be restructured as a result of the downsizing of the public service announced by the Chair of Management Board.

I noted with interest that 17 of the 19 fire bases in the province are to be closed and I also noted with interest that the two to be kept open are in the riding of the finance minister and in your own riding. I wonder, Minister, in light of the terrible fire season we experienced in northern Ontario last year, why you would close the bases in northern Ontario and keep two open, both south of the French River.

Hon Chris Hodgson (Minister of Natural Resources, Northern Development and Mines): I think, as the honourable member across the way knows, because her office phoned our office, the MNR sent over the corrected version. There are 45 offices, 17 of which will be closed. The ones that remain open remain open because of the function. If you look on a map, it's based on the service area. There's one in Pembroke as well that services the southern end.

Ms Martel: The 45 facilities are a mix of fire bases, labs, regional offices, as well as of work centres, fish culture stations, tree nurseries etc. The list we have that talks about fire bases as noted here shows 17 of those closing.

The second point I want to make is that the minister will know, if he talks to anyone who fights fires, that the best way to deal with a forest fire is to have a quick response. He will now put us in the situation in Atikokan, for example, because he is closing the base at Nym Lake, that forest firefighters from Fort Frances will have to wait for a helicopter to come to Fort Frances to fly them over an hour away to Atikokan to try to fight a forest fire.

Minister, the closure of these centres is putting both people and private and public property at risk, especially in northern Ontario. I ask you again, why are you keeping two fire bases open south of the French River and closing the ones in northern Ontario?

Hon Mr Hodgson: The honourable member knows full well that firefighting's done in two regions throughout the whole province. In southern Ontario, which she refers to, there are a number of fire stations. They're based on a function, the same as the ones that have remained open in northern Ontario, the function of servicing fires.

We no longer sit in towers to monitor when fires start. We have improvements in technology that detect lightning storms from the night before. There are aircraft that patrol the skies to identify -- early warning systems on potential fires. It's cheaper to service --

Mr Len Wood (Cochrane North): Tell him to tell the truth.

The Speaker (Hon Allan K. McLean): Order. I've warned the member for Cochrane North, and I can't warn him again. Minister.

Hon Mr Hodgson: I'm done.


Mr John Hastings (Etobicoke-Rexdale): I have a question for the Minister of Health. Many of my constituents in Etobicoke-Rexdale are extremely concerned about the continuation and future of tuberculosis testing in our schools.

I'm pleased to know that ministry officials met at my request with the Etobicoke board of health to discuss this situation. I would like to know from the minister what he could disclose to this House in terms of his ministry's suggestions for the continuation of tuberculosis testing for students in our schools.

Hon Jim Wilson (Minister of Health): I'd like to thank my colleague the member for Etobicoke-Rexdale for the question and for bringing this matter to my attention a few days ago. As he indicated in his question, ministry staff did meet with the Etobicoke board of health on May 8. The board is concerned about the efficiency of the program they're running. They're concerned about patients' compliance with respect to following up the recommendations after a positive test to make sure they're taking their drugs and prescriptions, and generally the efficiency of the program.

The ministry staff has made some suggestions, and we've had some wonderful local suggestions also that perhaps the Etobicoke board of health could get together to jointly deliver the program with the Etobicoke Board of Education and local physicians.

It's my understanding that the medical officer of health in Etobicoke will be holding a public meeting to discuss a wide range of possible solutions to this problem on May 16. I would remind all members that tuberculosis testing is a mandatory program of boards of health, so we have to find a solution to this serious problem.

Mr Hastings: I thank the Minister of Health for that response. I wonder if he could give us his specific thinking in terms of what some of the outcomes could be with respect to his ministry's suggestions for the continuation of tuberculosis testing for Etobicoke school students.

Hon Mr Wilson: I know a number of members of the community in the honourable member's riding are very concerned about this issue, particularly when you have a large influx of people coming from other countries or people who spend a great deal of time in other countries coming back to Canada. Again, it is a mandatory program of boards of health across Ontario. I know the Etobicoke board of health is working on solutions. I think it's appropriate for my colleague the member for Etobicoke-Rexdale and I to wait before making any final decisions or pronouncements until after the public meeting on May 16, because there may be some very good suggestions coming from the public and from local health officials. Perhaps we won't have to intervene at all and they'll sort this out.


Mrs Elinor Caplan (Oriole): My question is for the Premier. I'm going to ask you today, Premier, to admit that your words and the deeds of your Minister of Health are threatening to dismantle medicare.

This morning, the Ontario Medical Association held a press conference here at Queen's Park. Effectively, what they have said is that your government has been dealing in bad faith. They have admitted that there are no negotiations, contrary to your own words. You scrapped their agreement in Bill 26. You dismantled the joint management committee.

I'm asking you today if you will apologize for your words of a week ago and direct your Minister of Health to begin negotiations to establish a forum such as the joint management committee and to ensure that the doctors of this province feel that they are partners in health care. Will you stand today and direct your Minister of Health and apologize to the doctors of this province for your own words?

Hon Michael D. Harris (Premier): I appreciate the opportunity to respond to some of the statements that were made earlier today by the OMA, the union representing the doctors. First of all, in my discussions with the president of the OMA and with the doctors I have talked to all across the province, they tell me that in 10 short months the current Minister of Health has proven himself to be superior to any Minister of Health we've had in the history of the province of Ontario over the last 10 years. They appreciate a government that sticks to its word, that does what it says it's going to do.

As a matter of fact, I was in Sick Kids Hospital today just before question period, and ran into --


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


Hon Mr Harris: I was saying that I was at Sick Kids Hospital today visiting a patient from North Bay, but I ran into some staff and a couple of doctors. They shook my hand; they said, "Keep up the good work. We appreciate what you're doing," comments like, "We understand the disaster of the Liberals and the NDP and the disgrace that they left this health care system in, the lack of trust." Many of them tell me, "You know, I remember the day when 10,000 of us demonstrated on the lawns at Queen's Park against the Liberal government of the time." So I say to the member, congratulations to the Minister of Health --

The Speaker: The question has been answered.

Mrs Caplan: I listened very carefully to what the Premier had to say and what I heard is the rhetoric that is going to lead to the dismantling of health care in Ontario as we know it. The doctors in this province have always been important partners, and to talk about them with this kind of disrespect I think threatens our publicly funded universal health care in the province of Ontario.

I've asked you, Premier, if you will retract your words that the doctors are trying to break the agreement that you scrapped and if you will begin meaningful, good-faith negotiations. The only way you are going to protect health care in Ontario is if you sit down and discuss and negotiate.

Now, your minister has said, "We're discussing," but we know there are no negotiations moving ahead for an agreement. I can tell you, sir, that we are seeing thresholds arbitrarily imposed. Doctors' incomes are being severely threatened, they are leaving in unprecedented numbers, and there are demands for more user fees and private funding.

I want you to hear clearly that I support a universally acceptable, publicly funded health system. What you are doing, sir, is beginning to dismantle medicare through your user fees and your treatment of Ontario's doctors and health professionals by refusing to negotiate.

Will you direct your Minister of Health to establish a forum and begin negotiations to protect our universal, publicly funded health care in Ontario and stop the rhetoric?

Hon Mr Harris: I am astounded that a former Minister of Health, one of those who led to uncertainty when doctors did leave in unprecedented numbers, when 10,000 of them demonstrated right here when her party was in power -- this was a minister, I don't know if you recall, who promised new beds and shut more down, maybe not quite as many as the NDP did but she shut down beds. She promised a new hospital for North Bay, went back on her word and cancelled it.

This was a minister who betrayed the doctors, betrayed the people of Ontario, betrayed those in the health care field, betrayed the nurses, and she has the nerve to stand in her place and say that in 10 months, through negotiations, through the efforts of the Minister of Health, we haven't solved all the problems yet. You're right. The mess was bigger over the last 10 years, mostly, I might say, caused by the Liberals.

At least the New Democratic Party, in the last couple of years, started on the path to correct the abysmal record of the Liberal Party. I want to acknowledge that and I want to give them some credit for that, because when I tell you that doctors have told me -- and we are in negotiations with them at every step of the way -- "Your Minister of Health is far and away the best in the last 10 years" --

The Speaker: The question has been answered.


Mr Floyd Laughren (Nickel Belt): I have a question about our health care system too, but I'm not going to ask the Premier. He's done this party enough damage already today.

I have a question to the Minister of Health, following up on the question of the member for Oriole. The OMA did have a press conference today, attended by some other organizations as well, in which they expressed grave concerns about how you're managing our health care system. This comes on top of a release a couple of weeks ago by the Ontario Nurses' Association that indicated that more than 80% of its members feel that patients are in unsafe conditions the way you're managing the health care system, and also follows a report by the College of Family Physicians which indicated they were having trouble accessing health care services as well.

Last week Ian Warrack, the president of the OMA, said of the government's budget: "Contrary to its claim, government has not reinvested all of the money it is going to remove from the health care system over the next three years. They are taking more than $2 billion out of the health care system over the next three years, yet are still underfunding the new programs they have announced."

What they're worried about -- and they used the example of funding for an MRI and then the doctors not being able to access the imaging from that because it's not in their budgets.

I'd ask the Minister of Health, when are we going to find out from you -- and I thought that what he did today on the psychiatric services was a good model -- where it is that you're going to reinvest that $2 billion you've already announced you're taking out of the health care system -- $1.3 billion in the hospital system? When are you going to announce the details of how that's going to be reinvested in the health care system so that there can be some confidence restored to our health care system in this province?

Hon Jim Wilson (Minister of Health): The honourable member is not correct to say that we haven't reinvested the money back in the system. In fact, we have reinvested more money in the system than we've seen in savings in the system or restructuring the system. That is a fact confirmed by the finance minister just last week.

In respect to the example of MRIs, I find it very interesting that the doctors used this, because it simply misses a number of facts. Our MRIs are running overtime, with physician fees and other fees, in Toronto right now. What we've said in the MRIs is that we are spending a great deal of money -- and a member from the north will know this -- moving the patients down to the machines. What we've done is move the machines up to where the patients are, saving money in the process and cutting down the overtime hours in Toronto.

We've asked those MRIs to now go down to about 40 hours a week because those extra hours in physician fees and everything are moving up to your community, and Sudbury and Timmins and a whole pile of other places that we've already announced. We think actually there might be some savings in the system.

There are pressures on the physician budget; I admit that. But $3.805 billion is 18.5% per person per capita above the national average on physician fees that Ontario spends. We spend more than the national average by 18.5%. We also spend more on health care than anyone else in Canada. Frankly, you add the $17.7 billion now being spent by the Ministry of Health and the $9.2 billion being spent by the private sector on health care in this province and you're going to have a very difficult time finding any other jurisdiction in the world that spends more on health care per capita than this province. I think we all agree, and we've agreed the five years that I was critic, we spend enough money on health care; some would argue more than enough money.


What we're doing with the physicians right now is we are having discussions. We suggested that we set up a joint liaison committee. That's been on the table for 10 months. We didn't dissolve the JMC, the joint management committee, as one doctor suggested today. They walked out on you in February of last year; that's when the JMC dissolved. The government didn't do it; the OMA walked out. There are a number of inaccuracies that need to be corrected.

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

Mr Tony Martin (Sault Ste Marie): Minister, one of the people at the OMA press conference this morning was a doctor named Janice Willet from Sault Ste Marie. She's the president of the West Algoma Academy of Medicine. She's also an obstetrician who's been writing to you for the last few months. She says that you're creating a crisis in our community and that five out of six obstetricians are not taking any new patients. She also says there's a waiting list of over 2,000 people for a family doctor.

You are the government that was going to come in and clean all this up. When are you going to stop creating the crisis and start doing something constructive in my community and across this province to answer some of the problems we're facing?

Hon Mr Wilson: I reiterate that the $3.805 billion is the fully preserved physicians' budget. A number of physicians think that midwives and everything else are in that pool too. That's strictly the physician fees. We spend about $4.3 billion on OHIP services for chiropractors and other health professionals. The fact of the matter is, we're simply asking physicians, and we're doing that through discussions with them on a regular basis, to help us examine the cost-effectiveness of the $3.805 billion, and I think all parties agree with that. We're asking all our partners across government.

Mr McLean and Joe Tascona and I met with the Simcoe county physicians last Friday and they said, "We know we do a lot of things we shouldn't do." They said in this press conference this morning that the population has gone up by 700,000 people. The fact is, from 1984 to 1994 the population in the province grew about 10%; the number of doctors increased by 40%. There are more than enough doctors. We have distribution problems, I agree, we've put a number of suggestions on the table and I've mailed a letter to all 22,000 physicians with the physician action plan.

I say to the honourable member from Algoma that I want to hear from physicians, particularly obstetricians, paediatricians and general practitioners or family doctors who are delivering babies right now because I know there is a problem with respect to the malpractice insurance.

The fact of the matter is, Justice Charles Dubin has been asked by the federal government and me, as provincial chair of health ministers across Canada, to investigate the Canadian Medical Protective Association, the malpractice fund. He'll be reporting back in September, and we think our position will be upheld that there's more than enough money in that fund and that neither doctors nor the government should be paying excessive premiums this year. We're taking the lead for doctors to make sure they don't pay into a fund, for example, that has more than --

The Speaker: The question has been answered.


Mr Gary Fox (Prince Edward-Lennox-South Hastings): My question is to the Minister of Education and Training. This is the time of year that university students begin to fill out their OSAP forms for next year's studies. While the students I have spoken with have been pleased with government reforms to student loans, all of them were critical of the hours, days and even weeks they spend in trying to contact OSAP with questions on their individual cases. Minister, is there some way that services can be improved so that university students can received OSAP information more efficiently?

Hon John Snobelen (Minister of Education and Training): I thank the honourable member for an excellent question that's on the minds of many students across the province.

Like my colleague, I have heard from students that they are aware of some of the improvements that have been made in student aid for the next year. A lot of people in our post-secondary community were delighted with the announcement of the finance minister in the budget last week that they'd committed $100 million towards a trust fund for students most in need, and that will add up to $200 million.

Of course, our ministry is committed to an enhanced service, particularly for people who are applying for OSAP. We think that's important and we are not happy with the level of service students have enjoyed in the past. We are working now to improve our ability to respond to the common questions that are asked so many times by students, and they have a great difficulty in getting responses to those questions. In fact, some of the initiatives that we're taking on now, I'm delighted to say, will increase our abilities to respond by 300%. We'll be bringing those online later this year.

We're also looking for a program of handling our deposits, our payments to students by electronic deposit, which will also enhance service.

Mr Fox: Although I hear that the current generation of students is the first one that is completely computer-literate, with this in mind, are you taking any steps to make OSAP data available by computer link?

Hon Mr Snobelen: I'm pleased to be able to report to my colleague that every college and university financial aid office is now hooked up. They're on line with the student support computers in Thunder Bay. This will greatly reduce the time it takes to process applications. We're also establishing a World Wide Web site, a home page, so that OSAP students can check on the status and can perhaps in the future make an application through the net. That's certainly going to be an enhanced service for our students in the province of Ontario.


Mr Dominic Agostino (Hamilton East): My question is to the Minister of Health. As you are aware, yesterday the Hamilton-Wentworth Health Action Task Force in Hamilton submitted its final report to the Hamilton-Wentworth District Health Council. The task force recommended that one acute care hospital in Hamilton close but did not specify which one. In the initial report, it had specified St Joseph's Hospital. Now what the task force has done is left it completely wide open and it has put all the hospitals in Hamilton under a death watch.

Apparently, the task force did not listen to the tens of thousands of Hamiltonians who spoke out, who handed in petitions, who came here in regard to the opposition to closing St Joseph's or any of our hospitals. It appears that the consultation process was a complete waste of time for everyone involved. It was a sham. It was simply a farce. It did not work. The task force did not listen to the people of Hamilton.

You have a responsibility to intervene. The CEOs of the Hamilton hospitals put forward a strong and credible alternative that has wide acceptance in the community and has been well received, even by your own members on the government side of the House. Will you guarantee today that you will reject any recommendation by the district health council to close any of the Hamilton hospitals and will you accept the recommendations by the CEOs and the community that in essence will continue to operate a hospital but still work within the budget restrictions you have given them? Put the people of Hamilton at rest and assure them you will not close one of their hospitals today.

Hon Jim Wilson (Minister of Health): The honourable member's party, the Liberal Party, has once again flip-flopped and changed its position. I recall about a month of Bill 26 discussions where your health critic and your leader made it very clear that the Minister of Health should never intervene in the development of hospital restructuring studies at the DHC level.

I will not be intervening in the case of Hamilton, as I will --

Mrs Lyn McLeod (Leader of the Opposition): That is not the truth.

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

Hon Mr Wilson: -- any of the other locally developed studies because it's important that the community --

Mrs Elinor Caplan (Oriole): That is not true. That is not the truth.

The Speaker: Order. Would the members come to order, please. I cannot hear the minister.

Hon Mr Wilson: I could provide Hansard quotes with respect to the Bill 26 debate. The Liberal Party put forward an amendment, which we accepted, that said the Health Services Restructuring Commission shall or must take into account -- I forget the exact wording -- the locally prepared district health council reports. One reason we set up a Health Services Restructuring Commission was to take the politics out of restructuring hospitals, so no, I will not intervene in the development of your district health council report.

Mr Agostino: First of all, what the minister is saying about the Liberal position is a total misinterpretation. You are wrong and you know it. If you go back to Hansard, you'll see that.

You are not ruling out the closure of a Hamilton hospital today. This community's been put through hell as a result of the task force recommendation to close St Joseph's. What you're now saying to the people of Hamilton is, "You will continue to go through this and all of your hospitals are at stake."

Ultimately, you have the power, you have the responsibility to make that decision, and you have the power and the responsibility today to say to the people of Hamilton that the alternative put together by the CEOs, which works within your budget cuts, which allows all four hospitals to remain open, is a good alternative. Stop this farce. Stop this process that is an absolute sham. Stand up very clearly today. Tell the people of Hamilton that the community consultation and the consensus that is acceptable is the recommendation by the CEOs and tell the people of Hamilton you will not close one of our hospitals. Give us a simple --

The Speaker: The question's been asked.

Hon Mr Wilson: I've said 100 times that this government has no list of hospitals to close. All three parties agree that hospital restructuring must occur. We know that with the transfer reductions to hospitals -- and that money will be reinvested in the rest of the health care envelope -- that it's very doable and that we must restructure our hospital system. Today Ontarians pay more proportionately for bricks and mortar and administration in hospitals than we do, compared to other provinces, with respect to the services delivered by those hospitals.

For example, in Metro Toronto, when you have 44 hospitals and 44 administrations, incredible duplication of services, regardless of whether your party is in government or our party is in government or the NDP who, by the way, started this process, started the restructuring process, went out and asked 60 district health councils to do the studies, we came along and said we will not throw politics into the development of local studies, so I reject your challenge today and I suggest that you not inject politics into this process either, because that is wrong for health care and it's wrong for the hospital system in this province.




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

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

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

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

I've affixed my signature.


Mr Derwyn Shea (High Park-Swansea): I rise to present a petition signed by members of St Paul's Anglican Church Runnymede who support my effort to keep Runnymede hospital open and serving the chronic care needs of patients, their families and many community agencies such as Huntington's and multiple sclerosis. Their petition reflects opposition to Metropolitan Toronto District Health Council's recommendation to close Runnymede Chronic Care Hospital, and I'm very pleased to add my signature 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;

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

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

"Whereas the government of Ontario has cut its direct funding to Transition House by almost $48,000 annually and placed 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 to Transition House in Chatham."

I affix my signature to this.


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

I affix my signature also.


Mr Leo Jordan (Lanark-Renfrew): I have a petition to the Legislative Assembly of Ontario.

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

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


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

"Since video lottery terminals will contribute to gambling addiction in Ontario and the resulting breakup of families, spousal and child abuse and crime such as embezzlement and robbery;

"Since the introduction of video lottery terminals across Ontario will provide those addicted to gambling with widespread temptation and will attract young people to a vice which will adversely affect their lives for many years to come;

"Since the introduction of these gambling machines across our province is designed to gain revenue for the government at the expense of the poor, the vulnerable and the desperate in order that the government can cut income taxes to the greatest benefit of those with the highest income;

"Since the placement of video lottery terminals in bars in Ontario and in permanent casinos in various locations across the province represents an escalation of gambling opportunities; and

"Since Premier Harris and Finance Minister Eves were so critical of the provincial government becoming involved in further gambling ventures and making the government more dependent on gambling revenues to maintain government operations;

"We, the undersigned, call upon Premier Harris and the government of Ontario to reconsider its announced decision to introduce the most insidious form of gambling, video lottery terminals, to restaurants and bars in this province."

I present this petition to Brad Hammond, page from St Catharines' Ferndale school.


Mr Bill Grimmett (Muskoka-Georgian Bay): I have a petition here signed by approximately 194 of my constituents. It relates to the interim report of the Sweeney commission and appears to be in the proper form.


Mr Alvin Curling (Scarborough North): "Whereas the Ontario government has clearly indicated that it `wants to get out of the housing business'; and

"Whereas the Ontario government is reviewing the legal contracts and budgets of every co-op housing project in the province; and

"Whereas the Ontario government has announced plans to make huge cuts to co-op and non-profit housing funding; and

"Whereas the Ontario government wants to replace affordable housing with subsidies to private landlords; and

"Whereas co-op housing is a proven success in providing affordable homes owned and managed by the people who live in them; and

"Whereas the actions of the Ontario government threaten to destroy stable, well-maintained communities which have been built over the last quarter of a century and the investment all Ontarians have made in this type of affordable social housing;

"We, the undersigned, request that the Ontario government sit down with the co-op housing sector to negotiate a deal which will ensure the long-term financial viability of housing co-ops and the continuance of rent-geared-to-income assistance upon which thousands of co-op members depend and which will promote greater responsibility for administration by the co-op housing sector and less interference by the government in the day-to-day operations of housing co-ops."

I affix my signature, with the many, many people who have signed this.


Mr John R. Baird (Nepean): I'm pleased to present a petition addressed to the Legislative Assembly of Ontario.

"Whereas drinking and driving is the largest criminal cause of death and injury in Canada;

"Whereas every 45 minutes in Ontario a driver is involved in an alcohol-related crash;

"Whereas most alcohol-related accidents are caused by repeat offenders;

"Whereas lengthy licence suspensions for impaired driving have been shown to greatly reduce repeat offences;

"Whereas the victims of impaired drivers often pay with their lives while only 22% of convicted impaired drivers go to jail, and even then only for an average of 21 days;

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

"We urge the provincial government to pass legislation that will strengthen measures against impaired drivers in Ontario."

It's signed by residents from Nepean, Kars, Kanata and the city of Ottawa.



Mr Rick Bartolucci (Sudbury): To the Honourable Solicitor General and the Legislative Assembly of Ontario:

"Whereas the Progressive Conservative government of Ontario has decided to scrap mandatory inquests as a result of fatalities in the mining and construction industry; and

"Whereas this unprecedented and callous decision sets workplace safety back 20 years,

"We, the undersigned, request the Solicitor General and the Legislative Assembly of Ontario, on behalf of all workers in the mining and construction industry, reverse this decision to remove mandatory inquests from the Coroners Act of Ontario."

I affix my name to it.


Mr Tony Ruprecht (Parkdale): I keep receiving hundreds of petitions against the open custody residence for troubled children and youth.

"Whereas the Dellcrest Children's Centre is planning to open a 10-bed open custody residence at 182 Dowling Avenue; and

"Whereas the residence is an inappropriate site for the rehabilitation of troubled children and youth because it is within walking distance to illicit drug and prostitution activities; a large number of unsupervised and supervised rooming houses that are home to a number of ex-psychiatric patients; parolees and our society's most vulnerable and ostracized members; and a number of licensed establishments that have been charged with various liquor infractions; and

"Whereas the decision to relocate also expresses a total lack of regard towards our community's consistent and well-documented wishes for the Ontario government to stop the creation or relocation of additional social service programs or offices in an area that is already over-saturated with health and social services for disadvantaged, troubled or disenfranchised people,

"We, the undersigned local residents, urge the Ministry of the Solicitor General and Correctional Services to suspend plans to relocate the open custody residence for troubled youth until a full review of the Dellcrest Children's Centre's decision can be conducted, and explore with us alternative locations which are more appropriate."

I've affixed my signature to this document.


Mr John Gerretsen (Kingston and The Islands): I have a very important petition to the government of Ontario, and it states:

"Since video lottery terminals" --

Mr Bruce Crozier (Essex South): Slot machines.

Mr Michael A. Brown (Algoma-Manitoulin): Slot machines.

Mr Gerretsen: -- slot machines, right -- "will contribute to gambling addiction in Ontario and the resulting breakup of families, spousal and child abuse and crimes such as embezzlement and robbery; and

"Since the introduction of video lottery terminals" -- slot machines -- "across Ontario will provide those addicted to gambling with widespread temptation and will attract young people to a vice which will adversely affect their lives for many years to come; and

"Since the introduction of these gambling machines across our province is designed to gain revenue for the government at the expense of the poor, the vulnerable and the desperate in order that the government can cut income taxes to the greatest benefit of those with the highest income; and

"Since the placement of video lottery terminals" -- slot machines -- "in bars in Ontario and in permanent casinos and various locations across the province represents the escalation of gambling opportunities; and

"Since Premier Harris and Finance Minister Eves were so critical of the provincial government becoming involved in further gambling ventures, making the government more dependent on gambling revenues to maintain government operations;

"We, the undersigned, call upon the Premier and the government of Ontario to reconsider its announced decision to introduce the most insidious form of gambling, video lottery terminals, to restaurants and bars in the province."

I affix my signature to it.


Mr Michael A. Brown (Algoma-Manitoulin): To the Ontario Legislature:

"Given that the proposed cuts in income tax will mean even more devastating cuts to social programs, including education and health care, we ask the government of Ontario not to proceed with the cut in income tax promised during the election. The few dollars we get are not worth the extra user fees we will have to pay, the cuts to services we all use and the hardships it will cause."

This is signed by hundreds of my constituents and constituents in the riding of Algoma.


Mr Bruce Crozier (Essex South): I have a petition on gas prices.

"Whereas since March, 1996 gasoline prices have increased on average a dramatic 10 cents a litre, which is over 45 cents a gallon; and

"Whereas this increase in the price of gasoline has outpaced the rate of inflation by a rate that is totally unacceptable to all consumers in this province because it is unfair and directly affects their ability to purchase other consumer goods; and

"Whereas Premier Mike Harris and Consumer and Commercial Relations Minister Norm Sterling, while in opposition, expressed grave concern for gas price gouging and asked the government of the day to take action;

"We, the undersigned, petition Premier Harris and the government of Ontario to eliminate gas price-fixing and to prevent oil companies from gouging the public on an essential and vital product."

In support of this, I affix my signature.


Mr Tony Ruprecht (Parkdale): I have another petition of grave concern to the residents of Toronto. This is to the Legislative Assembly of Ontario.

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

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

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

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

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

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

I have affixed my name to this petition.



Mr Colle from the standing committee on public accounts presented the committee's report on the retail sales tax and moved the adoption of its recommendations.

The Acting Speaker (Ms Marilyn Churley): Does the member wish to make a brief statement?

Mr Mike Colle (Oakwood): This was a non-partisan approach to a very serious problem of tax avoidance and the whole issue of retail sales tax. I think we've come up with a very solid report, with a lot of good input from everybody. I move adjournment of the debate.

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




Mr Ruprecht moved first reading of the following bill:

Bill 51, An Act to amend the Municipal Act / Projet de loi 51, Loi modifiant la Loi sur les municipalités.

The Acting Speaker (Ms Marilyn Churley): Is it the pleasure of the House that the motion carry? Carried.

Does the member have any comments?

Mr Tony Ruprecht (Parkdale): This bill gives municipalities the power to make bylaws with respect to the hours during which liquor may be served. The residents, of course, in certain sections of Ontario, in certain municipalities, deserve the right to determine just how long some of these establishments can remain open.


Mr Hodgson moved first reading of the following bill:

Bill 52, An Act to promote Resource Development, Conservation and Environmental Protection Through the Streamlining of Regulatory Processes and the Enhancement of Compliance Measures in the Aggregate and Petroleum Industries / Projet de loi 52, Loi visant à promouvoir la mise en valeur des ressources, la conservation ainsi que la protection de l'environnement en simplifiant les processus de réglementation et en renforçant les mesures de conformité dans l'industrie pétrolière et l'industrie des agrégats.

The Acting Speaker (Ms Marilyn Churley): Is it the pleasure of the House that the motion carry? Carried.

Does the minister wish to make a brief statement?

Hon Chris Hodgson (Minister of Natural Resources, Northern Development and Mines): Thank you, Madam Speaker. I've already made a couple of brief statements today on it.

Mr John O'Toole (Durham East): Madam Speaker, I think you'll find there's unanimous consent to allow me to introduce a bill on behalf of the member for Scarborough East, Steve Gilchrist.

The Acting Speaker: Is there consent? Agreed.


Mr O'Toole, on behalf of Mr Gilchrist, moved first reading of the following bill:

Bill 53, An Act to Promote Full Financial Accountability of Labour Unions and Employees Associations to Their Members / Projet de loi 53, Loi visant à promouvoir la responsabilité financière complète des syndicats et des associations d'employés envers leurs membres.

The Acting Speaker (Ms Marilyn Churley): Is it the pleasure of the House that the motion carry? Carried.


Mr David S. Cooke (Windsor-Riverside): Madam Speaker, before we get to orders of the day, I have a point of order that I would have raised with the Speaker in the chair, but I didn't want to interrupt petitions and I thought he would still be in the chair at this point.

I would just ask that the Speaker's office take a look at comments that were made in the House this afternoon during question period by the Premier in answer to questions from the Leader of the Opposition. The Speaker has on several occasions in the House raised concerns about decorum and he has imposed some fairly stiff penalties on those members of the Legislature, primarily members who are in the third and fourth rows, if I might say that. I think if we're going to have decorum in the Legislature, the Speaker is going to have to enforce the rules and his views uniformly. The kinds of comments that were made by the Premier were as close as they could possibly come to accusing the Leader of the Opposition of lying and misleading, and the Premier was not called to order.

I would just ask that Hansard be reviewed and that the Speaker start enforcing the rules uniformly with the opposition parties but also with the front bench of the government.

The Acting Speaker (Ms Marilyn Churley): On the same point of order, the member for St Catharines.

Mr James J. Bradley (St Catharines): I will try to keep mine brief as well. I listened to the remarks. I know question period is a time where there's more boisterousness than other times, but I listened carefully to the comments of the Premier, and they were in the same category as those which had received the attention of the Speaker in days gone by when members of the opposition had used words in that general field. I think it would be interesting to review those for the Speaker to see whether they are in compliance with what he sees as the proper decorum in the House in terms of falsifying or lying or things of that nature, where members make that kind of accusation. I certainly would like to see that happen and endorse the intervention of the member for Windsor-Riverside.

The Acting Speaker: Thank you to the members for Windsor-Riverside and St Catharines for raising these points of order. I will see to it that the matter is looked into by the Speaker.




Mr Sampson, on behalf of Mr Eves, moved second reading of the following bill:

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

Mr David S. Cooke (Windsor-Riverside): On a point of order, Madam Speaker: I have a point of order with regard to Bill 47. It is my view that Bill 47 is out of order. I will not go through a lengthy point of order, but I have a few comments to make and I would ask that you bear with me.

The title of this bill, An Act to cut taxes, to stimulate economic growth and to implement other measures contained in the 1996 Budget, makes it clear that it's an omnibus bill. Madam Speaker, while we have had previous rulings in this Legislature, rulings in the past have made it clear that there is a line at which bills will cross, but that by and large the definition of an omnibus bill is that all sections of the bill must be tied to the title or tied together.

I'll run through very briefly all the sections of the bill: Part II is an amendment to the Employer Health Tax Act, obviously a tax bill; part III, amendments to the Land Transfer Tax Act; part IV, amendments to the Race Tracks Tax Act; part V, amendments to the Retail Sales Tax Act; part VI, amendments to the Tobacco Tax Act; part VII, amendments to the Corporations Tax Act; part VIII, amendment to the Financial Administration Act, and that is dealing with an item that was clearly outlined in the budget; part X is the Ontario Loan Act, again part of the budget. But part IX is the amendment to the Family Benefits Act, not an item that is dealt with in terms of taxes, not an item that is part of the budget; it is an item that flows out of something the federal government has done.

I can understand politically why the government does not want to bring in a separate piece of legislation: because clearly, in order to implement this change in the federal rules, there would be a debate in this place on social assistance; it would be a separate piece of legislation. Instead, they've decided to put it in with this piece of legislation, which is all about taxes and the budget, and then bring in, as part of this omnibus bill, the Family Benefits Act.

Madam Speaker, I would ask that you refer to all the items and precedents and matters that were raised when concerns were expressed in this assembly by members of both opposition parties with respect to Bill 26. All the precedents were clearly outlined, and I think they apply here, but I think this one is much clearer and much easier to deal with: that is, that part IX of the act should be pulled out of this omnibus bill and dealt with as a separate piece of legislation.

At some point, and I remember the ruling that was made by the Speaker with respect to Bill 26, the Speaker said he had difficulty deciding what the government can and cannot introduce. But I think it's also been recognized that at some point the Speaker, who rules this place, has to make a decision when the line is crossed and when the purpose of omnibus legislation has destroyed Parliament and taken away the opportunity for members of the assembly who agree with some parts of legislation and disagree with other parts, or when you try to simply put together a whole series of legislative measures under one piece of legislation.


In effect, what we have here is partly a budget bill and partly a bill dealing with social legislation that has nothing to do with either taxes or the budget. If this is allowed to stand, we will have taken another step towards ultimately just having one piece of legislation every year or two when a government decides to call Parliament together, and the whole process of debate, public consultation and consultation with the people who are elected to represent the 11 million people in this province in this Parliament will be completely destroyed.

I believe the Speaker has a responsibility to make sure that the rights of the opposition and the rights of the taxpayers and voters of this province are protected, and if this bill is allowed to proceed as is, then I think we will have gone further down the slippery slope of destroying the integrity of Parliament in the province of Ontario.

I ask you to take the appropriate time that is necessary to review this point of order, review part IX of the proposed act in particular, and I believe come to the conclusion that this should be pulled out of the legislation and dealt with as a separate piece of legislation in this place.

Mr Dominic Agostino (Hamilton East): On the same point of order, Madam Speaker: I agree with the member on the other side. If you look at the legislation -- and this is not to debate the merits of this bill or the eight or nine or 10 sections that are relevant to the tax and the one that is not -- I really felt that we had learned from Bill 26 and that the process had been cleared and there was an understanding that we were not going to try to use massive bills to sweep in 20 or 30 different changes, as was tried under the previous Bill 26.

Nine of these fit under taxation, as the member for Windsor-Riverside has mentioned, but the amendment to the Family Benefits Act absolutely has no relevance to a taxation bill. There's a change made to the Canada assistance plan. That can be debated and the Family Benefits Act itself can be debated, but to try to sneak in an amendment or a change to the Family Benefits Act under nine other tax changes makes absolutely no sense whatsoever.

I suggest to you, Madam Speaker, that this one particular item should be removed, that the bill itself should deal with taxation. If the government wants to bring back or has to bring back -- and I can understand why they'd want to bring it back -- a particular separate bill to deal with the amendments and changes to the Family Benefits Act, we can do that. We can then debate the changes to the Canada assistance plan and, at the same time, the changes this government has made to family benefits.

Under this bill it makes no sense, and I ask you again to have the Speaker rule on this and ask the government to withdraw this particular item.

Mr John R. Baird (Nepean): On the same point of order, Madam Speaker: I think it's important to put on the record on this point of order that there's a very long-standing principle in this place that all the matters arising from a budget, all the financial measures contained in the budget as well, be grouped into one bill. This was certainly the practice under the previous two ministers, Mr Laughren and Mr Nixon. I simply submit that Bill 47 is perfectly in order.

Mr Tony Silipo (Dovercourt): On the same point of order, Madam Speaker: Just to add a couple of other comments to this, it's certainly a long-held practice of not only this Legislature but indeed of the parliamentary system under which we function that omnibus bills and budget bills are acceptable as covering a broad range of measures -- I don't think that's what we are quibbling with -- but they have to be matters, I would argue, that are related, if not directly connected to the budget, and matters that arise from that.

The problem we have with part IX of Bill 47 is that it is not related to the budget. It wasn't referred to at all anywhere that we could find in the budget, but more importantly, it doesn't deal with the kinds of issues that are covered in the rest of the bill. It's again a long-held practice and tradition of the parliamentary system that we function under that matters covered in the same bill have to have at least some sense of connection in order to allow the opposition and the public the opportunity to understand fully the connections between one section and another and therefore to be able to fully debate those provisions.

We suggest that therefore the appropriate thing to be done under this bill is for part IX to be severed, and if the government wants to proceed with it as a separate piece of legislation, then that would be the way to do it. Certainly we would have an opportunity to debate it and, my sense is, support it. It's not a question of dealing with it on the merits, but it's saying that in terms of respecting the processes and the rules of this place, part IX is out of order as it relates to the rest of the bill. Therefore, it unfortunately places, we would argue, the whole bill out of order. We think some action needs to be taken to rectify this at this important point as we are entering into second reading debate.

Hon Noble Villeneuve (Minister of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs, minister responsible for francophone affairs): Madam Speaker, I had the opportunity of occupying the very august chair that you occupy this afternoon and I was placed in a position with the previous government to rule. My problem is that if the Speaker ever gets involved in the contents of a bill, then we have chaos in this place. The government is here to do what it sees best. This is simply to make sure that the Family Benefits Act continues, in spite of the fact that there will be no additional funding. That is my --

The Acting Speaker (Ms Marilyn Churley): Minister, would you take your seat. We're not here to debate the merits of this particular part of the bill now. I want to hear the points of order at this point but not the debate on the particular item.

Mr Chris Stockwell (Etobicoke West): Same point of order, Madam Speaker: If we're going to check for precedents of previous governments and their budget bills and legislation that flowed out of those budgets, you would do a service to check back on the previous administrations and the legislation that flowed out of budgets they offered up in this chamber.

Let me be very clear: If it was incumbent on the Chair to now measure each individual piece of legislation that flowed from a budget and tie it back exactly as the spoken word that was offered up in the budget statement, I think you would be endlessly chasing your tail with respect to what is appropriate legislation, what the opposition members deem as omnibus legislation and what we in this government consider to be acceptable legislation before this House flowing from the budget.

We seem to be citing precedent in this place in previous budgets and what the history dictates for this Legislature to properly approve and debate items before it. Let me be very clear: This is the same Legislature through history that used to have five days of debate on a budget. It was nothing for the previous government to have one day of debate on a budget. That was history.

Mr Cooke: We've got two.

Mr Stockwell: Or two days' debate.

It was the history of this House that we used to have a budget address by the minister -- Mr Laughren, for example -- and we'd actually vote on a budget. That was history, as I recall very clearly. That government introduced a budget that we never voted on, so it strikes me as passing strange that today they want to dissect small segments of this budget, suggesting it's an omnibus bill, which in my opinion is splitting hairs. When they were in government, we didn't even get to vote on their budgets.

The Acting Speaker: On the same point of order, the member for Scarborough-Agincourt. I would request, if it's on the same point of order, that you have a different perspective to give here. Please don't repeat what's already been said.

Mr Gerry Phillips (Scarborough-Agincourt): I'll try my best.

Mr Rob Sampson (Mississauga West): Full of challenges, Gerry.

Mr Phillips: That's right. It's a bit of a challenge.

The Acting Speaker: I know it's a challenge, but try.

Mr Phillips: I guess you'll have to judge that, Madam Speaker.

From the public's perception, what's the debate here? The debate is that we in the opposition feel it is inappropriate of the government to try, in a bill that everyone believes is dealing with the budget -- that's what the title is, that's the understanding. The public surely believe that we are debating a bill that will allow the government to implement its budget, but caught in the middle is a part of the bill that has nothing to do with the budget. It's never mentioned in the budget. There's no word in the budget about it; it doesn't come up; it doesn't flow from the budget. To the extent that we are presumably dealing with a bill that allows the government to implement its budget, this bill does something different. It allows them to change the Family Benefits Act. Nothing in the budget about that -- nowhere. Why is it important? Clearly, if they are allowed to do it here, for the future we should assume the government simply feels free any time it wants to put anything into a budget bill and then force the Legislature to deal with it. The government will force the Legislature to deal with it.

Interjection: Arrogance.

Mr Phillips: It is, as my colleague said, arrogance. Madam Speaker, you have a responsibility to, if you will, protect the opposition. That's language I hope the public understands, but it is your responsibility to make certain our rights are looked after. In our party's opinion, trying to slip something through dealing with the Family Benefits Act that has nothing to do with the budget is an abuse of the House. I would hope you would have an opportunity to review this as an abuse of the House and to instruct the government that it is out of order having this section included in the bill.

Hon Mr Villeneuve: I just can't let my honourable colleague the member for Scarborough-Agincourt here -- this is part of the bill and it's allowing us to pick up on the Canada assistance program. It is very much part of the budget, because that's where the funding comes from.

Mr Phillips: Now that you're an expert on it, would you point out in the budget where that is stated?

The Acting Speaker: Order, please. This is not question period. You are putting forward points of order. I'd like to thank everybody for the points of order that have been raised and thank members from both sides for their advice. I am now going to recess the House for 10 minutes. We'll all come back in 10 minutes. I'm going to recess the House so I can consider the matter placed before me.

The House recessed from 1553 to 1603.

The Acting Speaker: Would the members please take their seats. I would again like to thank the members for the point of order which was raised. I have my ruling, and I want the members to know that I took the point of order seriously and considered the points raised seriously. But I must tell you that the Speaker has no power to split the bill. If you will recall, that was the main conclusion of Speaker McLean in his ruling on Bill 26.

In my view, the bill is in order. To repeat what Speaker McLean said -- and what other speakers, I might add, have said in the past -- if members want to give Speakers the power to split bills, I suggest they consider giving them that explicit power by an amendment to the standing orders.

Members are, however, at liberty at the clause-by-clause debate to vote against section 25. That's the section that deals with the Family Benefits Act.

Mr Sampson has moved second reading of Bill 47.

Mr Sampson: I believe we still have, at least I hope we still have, unanimous consent to share my time --

Mr Stockwell: On a point of order, Madam Speaker: I'd just like to know your ruling. You're ruling that you can't split a bill, and the motion or the bill is in order.

The Acting Speaker: My ruling was very clear, member for Etobicoke West. I said that I ruled against the --

Mr Stockwell: I understand. I'm just asking about the ruling. It was clear, but it wasn't that clear.

The Acting Speaker: My ruling is that the Speaker does not have the power to split the bill, and the bill is in order.

Mr Sampson, let's try again.

Mr Sampson: I'll start off again. I gather we have unanimous consent to share my time with the member for Durham Centre.

The Acting Speaker: Agreed? Agreed.

Mr Sampson: It's my pleasure to start off the debate on second reading of Bill 47, which I'm pleased to hear is still a complete bill. When I start off, I think it's rather interesting that I would refer all of my colleagues in the House to a rather extensive document that was submitted with the budget speech by the Minister of Finance. It's called actually the budget papers.

Mr Cooke: It's not the budget.

Mr Sampson: My friend opposite says it's not the budget. It was actually --

Mr Cooke: I'm not actually your friend opposite either. We're on the same side.

Mr Sampson: I'm not surprised that my friend over here, as he would actually allow me to refer to him --

Mr Cooke: To your right.

Mr Sampson: He tells me that he's my friend to my right. I suspect that's not the case in a lot of degrees. I refer him to page 53 of the budget papers document. Again, I'm not surprised that he's not terribly familiar with this particular document since it's the first time such an extensive document has been prepared as an attachment to an Ontario budget.

I want to start off, if I can, with some statements as they relate to what we were trying to achieve in the budget that was delivered by the Minister of Finance last Tuesday. I think it would be beneficial for the House to understand that the budget statement, that budget speech and the attendant papers, were actually part and parcel of the balanced plan that we laid in front of the electorate of Ontario last year, part and parcel of the Common Sense Revolution.

I say it's a part because it's part of the balanced approach that we felt was necessary, and that numerous Ontarians felt was necessary, because of course the Common Sense Revolution was a document that was crafted as a result of consultation with average Ontarians. It was their response to us, to the question we put to them as a party through the leader, the now Premier, and many other members of caucus and party members. It was a question we put to Ontarians: "What would you like to see and how would you like to see the future government of Ontario shape Ontario going into the turn of the century?"

They replied to us. We took those replies, crafted them into an election platform, the Common Sense Revolution document --

Mr Baird: Three million copies.

Mr Sampson: That's right. Indeed my friend opposite refers to three million copies. Three million copies plus were distributed to the electorate of Ontario. Strangely enough, when it came time for them to cast their ballots, they said our plan was indeed what they wanted us to deliver.

We started off that program in July and again in November of last year when we chose to take a more focused approach on the expenditure side of government, briefly, getting the Ontario government to focus on what it should be doing well and not doing, frankly, things that governments historically and most specifically over the last 10 years have not done very well.


The other part of that balanced program was a mechanism to somehow generate some economic growth and stability in this province, to somehow create the job growth that Ontario rightly deserves and needs. So last Tuesday the Minister of Finance laid out to the people of Ontario our plan and our vision as to how we can achieve that particular objective through a series of tax cuts. The opposition parties, both sides, are having some difficulty with this. I must admit I find the Liberals' perspective on tax cuts somewhat strange. I do recall, actually, that when I was campaigning against the Liberal candidate in Mississauga West --

Mr Baird: That's the one who wanted to get rid of Bill 40.

Mr Sampson: Well, he had a lot of things he wanted to get rid of and change. But I do recall that prominently displayed on one of his election brochures was the statement, "Tax cuts equal jobs." So at one point in time in their history, within their party, they must have believed that tax cuts do generate jobs. I'm somewhat confused as I now hear comments coming from their leader and other members of their party that in fact tax cuts don't equal jobs. I suspect either they've changed their position or maybe they didn't really quite understand what it was they were saying at the time, or perhaps they didn't really mean what they were saying in the election, that tax cuts equal jobs. I'm not exactly sure what it is, but clearly we're getting completely different vibes, certainly from the people in the Liberal Party, with respect to our initiative to generate economic growth.

It's important, by the way, to put in perspective what exactly we were facing as a government when we were elected last June. There's a rather interesting document that came across my desk. It was prepared by the Fraser Institute. It's actually 1994, but the information is still quite relevant. I just want to read briefly, if I can, from the preface of this thing. This document, again, is not ours. It was prepared independently of us by a well-known institute, a well-known group of individuals who spend a lot of their time looking at these particular matters, and it says:

"Government debt has reached crisis proportions in Canada.... We have joined the Third World.

"The origin of Canada's all-government debt problem is spending beyond our means, year after year, and borrowing to make up the difference. The solution lies in spending control, not in higher taxes...."

They go on to make reference to the fact that, "The consequences of doing nothing about Canada's all-government debt problem are," in their words, "disastrous."

The other rather interesting thing about this particular document is that it actually rates provinces and countries around the world with respect to the level of, as they say, debt-to-GDP ratio. For those people watching and in the House who may not fully understand what GDP is, that's effectively a measurement of the province's or the state's or the country's ability to produce goods and services. It's the amount of economic activity, if you will.

The rather surprising fact about this particular document is that when they ranked Ontario with respect to the level of debt to the general economic activity in Ontario, Ontario came up 45th on the list, between Burundi and Morocco. I should say to you, Madam Speaker, I think it would be a bit of a shock -- not that Burundi and Morocco are not nice places to be -- for Ontarians to know that we ranked in that category as it relates to the level of debt we have versus the level of economic activity or the ability to earn our way out of that debt. I found that was quite a shocking statistic and something that we as a government are clearly trying to get a handle on as we move forward.

I also want to speak briefly to what has happened to this province over the last 10 years as it relates to economic activity, as it relates to government expenditure and as it relates to taxation. I know my colleague from Scarborough in the Liberal Party will be up on his feet shortly to speak to this particular bill, eloquently, as he usually does. He'll probably refer to, as he has in the past, and will speak quite proudly of the fact that during the late 1980s it was the Liberal government that came closer -- I don't want to put words in his mouth; I'm sure he'll do a better job -- than perhaps some previous governments have done in balancing the budget.

If you take a look at the statistics, that's actually true. But what he does not tell you is that during the time when economic activity in this province was booming, people had jobs, there was a tremendous amount of growth in income, this government -- the Liberal government, that is -- spent like crazy. Of course, in order to balance the budget when they were spending like crazy, they resorted to a tremendous number of tax increases: personal income tax increases, further charges on land transfer tax, and the inevitable charges through to things like retail sales tax. I believe their government was the one that boosted the retail sales tax by 1%.

Of course they balanced the budget. Who couldn't balance the budget when you basically took an unlimited view on the resources and the capability of the taxpayers of this province to suck back numerous tax increases? Anybody can balance their budget on that basis. It's not difficult to balance your budget when you believe you have the right, I suppose in their view, to continually go back to the taxpayers and say: "Pay up. Pay up." We're talking about revenue increases here between 1985 and 1989 that never got below 11%, year-over-year increases: 11% increases in revenue. Generated from further economic activity? A small portion, but generated primarily through increases in tax rates, more and more charges to the taxpayers of Ontario.

It was no surprise to me, frankly, that when I went door to door in the election campaign and I tried to sense the appetite of the taxpayers of Ontario for further tax increases, they weren't to the tax wall; they'd been pushed over the tax wall by the two previous administrations who believed, consistently believed, that there was an unlimited source of money in the form of additional tax rates that they could generate.

On June 8 the electorate said, "Enough's enough." On June 8 the electorate said: "Ontario government, get your expenditure house in order. And by the way, Ontario government, there isn't an unlimited source of tax revenue here. There's only a fixed amount of tax increases that we can handle, and we've gone past that number, so give it back to us. It's our money. We earned it."

I shall just briefly comment on I thought a rather shocking statement that I heard from a member of the Liberal Party yesterday in debate, again speaking to the tax issue, indicating -- and I believe it was in these words -- that the taxpayer of Ontario hadn't yet earned a tax break. Well, it's the taxpayer of Ontario who has earned the income. They've worked hard to earn that money. We don't have a right to think that that's all of ours to spend on their behalf. We believe, as a government, that we need to leave more tax revenue in the hands of honest, hardworking Ontarians so that jobs can be created in this province and economic activity returned.

There are numerous indications of how countries and provinces and states that overtax, ie, continue to increase tax rates, eventually generate less tax income. There are numerous studies that say the higher you increase the rate, the less amount of dollars you'll be getting into the revenue pool. In fact, the previous 10 years have demonstrated that. Taxes increased over the last 10 years, but the net revenue collection of the province in the form of personal income tax has actually gone down.

Our challenge is to try to reverse that trend. Our challenge is to work with the taxpayers of this province to try to get private enterprise to generate the economic growth and activity that Ontario is going to need in order to recover from this tremendous debt burden that previous governments have brought on to our children and our children's children.

I shall close by saying that I'm very happy to be part of a government that is delivering on our election promise, not because it was just an election promise, but because we firmly believe, and I firmly believe, that it's the recipe for the future prosperity of this province. Yes, it's nice to deliver on election promises -- although there are some members in the Liberal caucus on the federal side that would indicate that that's not terribly necessary any who -- but I think it's important to deliver a plan, an agenda for the province of Ontario that will generate the economic growth and activity our children and our children's children can benefit from. We must create hope and prosperity in this province, and that's what we're attempting to do with our budget that was introduced last Tuesday.


The Acting Speaker: Further speakers?

Mr Jim Flaherty (Durham Centre): It is an honour to have this opportunity today to speak in this debate about our much-needed and excellent budget. We have kept our commitments, the commitments upon which we were elected last June.

I've had the opportunity, since the budget was delivered by the Minister of Finance last Tuesday, to meet with the people in my riding, including the business people and other people. They agree with and support our economic plan for the renewal of Ontario. They agree we must get our province's financial house in order with a balanced budget over five years, including both spending reductions and tax reductions. I've heard general agreement with that concept of the balanced approach, not only in my riding of Durham Centre, which is of course the middle of the Main Street of Ontario. We all know that Highway 401 runs from Windsor to the Quebec border, and right in the middle of it, at the exit for Highway 12 and Whitby, is exit 410, the middle of Main Street, Ontario.

I've also heard that general agreement elsewhere. I've been privileged to be in northwestern Ontario as well since the budget was delivered and to attend meetings in Thunder Bay and also a town hall meeting in Marathon with the reeve of Schreiber and the mayor of Marathon and the reeve of Terrace Bay. In northwestern Ontario they also share the vision of our government of long-term economic growth that will provide secure, well-paying jobs, again going back to the balanced plan, the necessary balanced plan over five years of spending reductions and tax reductions.

There are concerns, of course, about the possible tax increases of school boards and some municipalities -- only some school boards; some school boards are not increasing taxes. I think there's a general acknowledgment of the need for each level of government and understanding that the time has passed when one level of government blames another level of government about funding. As the Minister of Finance pointed out in the budget, over the period 1995-96 to 1998-99 the federal government will have cut payments to the provinces for health, education and social programs by 42.2%. The federal government will contribute $1.2 billion less this year than last for health, education and social programs in this province. But our government is not taking issue with that reality, since obviously the federal government has a fiscal house to get in order. There is only one taxpayer.

What is important is that the other levels of government in Ontario -- the municipalities and the school boards -- also look at and get their own fiscal houses in order, again examining their core businesses, looking at their priorities, setting correct priorities and realizing that one can do more with less, as this government of Ontario is doing.

We promised in the Common Sense Revolution a balanced plan over five years to balance the budget with tax reductions. The Liberals offered a similar program to be done in four years. This budget means that the people of Ontario can begin to rebuild trust in their political leaders, in the sense, of course, that we are keeping our commitments as we made them to the people of Ontario who elected us last June.

The themes that are in the budget presented last week relate first of all to keeping of commitments concerning taxes and the deficit, but also, and very importantly, the maintenance of priority spending with respect to health, education and community safety.

Second is the importance of creating stimuli for jobs, and those stimuli are in tax cuts; for example, reduction of payroll taxes, which are proven job killers.

Thirdly, in the budget there are innovative programs for job creation, including the encouragement of cooperative education by students in the community college and university settings, and also a stimulus for home construction by, for example, the reduction in land transfer tax for the next year for first-time buyers of new homes.

This is a turnaround budget for Ontario. It is an important part of our plan to restore jobs, hope, opportunity and prosperity. We are doing what we said we would do. This is the first income tax cut in a generation in the province of Ontario. Some view the phrase "tax cut" as an oxymoron, which is not surprising since a whole generation of persons has been born and raised in the province of Ontario without knowing what it is for a provincial government, an Ontario government, to reduce taxes.

The context of the budget presented last week is an economy that is growing again but one in which too many people are out of work and one in which the real standard of living of the majority of persons in Ontario has dropped over the past 10 years from 1985 to 1995. The people of Ontario -- in Durham Centre, in northwestern Ontario, in Whitby and Oshawa -- know that, and they know that from sitting at their kitchen tables and looking at their bills and looking at their paycheques and looking at the deductions and seeing what they have left month after month for their own expenses.

People know that their standard of living has dropped, and one of the major reasons is the 10 years of government, from 1985 to 1995, that spent and taxed and borrowed, those borrowings having to be repaid by us and our children and our children's children. The result is that in real inflation-adjusted terms -- that's real money -- the take-home pay of the average Ontario worker is lower today than it was 10 years ago in 1985.

That's not acceptable to us on this side of the House. We think Ontario can do better. We think Ontario can do much better. The people of Ontario want to know that tomorrow will be better than today for themselves and for their children. They want jobs. They want a government that creates the climate for job creation, that creates opportunity and where initiative is rewarded, so that finally, several years from now, with the spending reductions, the top marginal rate, unless the federal government tries to grab some more income tax in the meantime, in Ontario will drop below 50%, which many have indicated is the point at which there's significant taxpayer avoidance.

The main features of this budget:

First of all, the budget leaves more dollars in the hands of hard-working Ontario people, and that's obvious by the tax cut.

Secondly, there's the investment in priority programs: health, education and community safety.

Thirdly, there is the cost reduction and the reduction of the size of government.

Fourthly, there is the commitment to spend money more wisely; that is, the taxpayers' money.

In terms of the budget leaving more money in the hands of the working people of Ontario, there is the commitment for the tax reductions. There'll be more money in the hands of taxpayers, which they can spend themselves or invest or reduce their debt, which helps control interest rates and increases their purchasing power over time. Lower taxes encourage more investment. Reducing tax rates and the marginal rates to which I've just made reference makes Ontario a more attractive place for persons with special skills to locate, and we do have an urgent and growing need for skilled workers in the province of Ontario.

Secondly, this budget invests in priority programs. The spending on programs is $42.7 billion. There is a movement towards balancing the budget by the fiscal year 2000-01, which was the commitment made. We are on track on our commitment to balance the budget over that period of time and to eliminate the deficit, which lays the groundwork for public debt reduction commencing after that fiscal year 2000-01.


The budget creates the Ontario opportunities fund, which is an important fund in my view because it is a dedicated fund. From the contributions that go into that fund each year, at the end of each year the balance will be used to reduce the deficit and debt of the province of Ontario so that people will know that the funds that are saved, that go into that Ontario opportunities fund, are not being used as disappearing funds in the consolidated general revenue fund but rather will go directly to the reduction of the provincial deficit, and ultimately the provincial debt.

Federal spending reduction is in effect in the province of Ontario, with respect to which I have already commented and which is to be noted. Nevertheless the province can proceed, as it is, to get its own fiscal house in order.

Health care spending: The commitment by our party was to maintain health care spending at $17.4 billion per annum. In fact, health care spending is $17.7 billion in the budget document. There are numerous investments and reinvestments being made, important for a number of our communities, including the city of Oshawa, part of which is in my riding of Durham Centre.

The province is reinvesting $170 million this year to provide seniors and people with disabilities with care at home instead of in institutions; expanding a program to aid in the early detection and treatment of breast cancer, which affects 6,000 women in Ontario each year; providing funds to immunize all school children against measles, to immunize young people against hepatitis B and to immunize seniors and those at high risk against senior pneumonia; reinvesting health funds for the provision of 23 new magnetic resonance imaging machines, MRIs, in locations across the province, which will bring to 35 the total of such diagnostic machines across the province. It is to be hoped that the largest community hospital in Ontario, in fact the largest community hospital in Canada, Oshawa General Hospital, will be the recipient of one of the MRIs.

There is a commitment for the expansion of emergency paramedic services, and that is a problem in the middle of Main Street, Ontario, in Whitby where we have one part of the community served by fully equipped paramedic services and we have a division on the other half at Thickson Road, down the middle of the community, where the service is not the same and without fully equipped paramedic vehicles and paramedics. It is hoped that inequity in the great riding of Durham Centre can be corrected as well.

In terms of classroom education, there's the obvious need for fundamental reforms and significant reform in education financing, which has been commented on, and the commitment is there in the budget document.

There is the commitment for spending on nutrition and on speech pathology. This again is an example of the importance of certain priorities. We're all aware of the importance of young children with learning disabilities, or with slow development of speech, learning to speak so that they can enter the school system on some sort of even footing with children who do not suffer from such challenges in their early years, and of the absolute, crucial importance of speech pathology intervention in speech and reading taking place in those formative years of three, four, five and six. I'm proud of my government for committing those funds for that specific purpose of speech pathology, which shows a sense of appropriate priorities, in my view.

With respect to community safety, we have the benefit of the major capital investment program to modernize correctional facilities and courthouses. We need a courthouse in Durham region. That's well known. Durham region has a number of rented facilities all over the place. One would hope that in the fullness of time and in accordance with capital spending requirements Durham region would benefit from a courthouse at some point.

Expanded DNA testing is another community safety step outlined in the budget with respect to priorities for community safety, as well as more money for community crime prevention.

With respect to priority programs and creating the environment for job creation, it is to be acknowledged and realized that governments don't create jobs, that governments create the climate for investment and job creation in the private sector. But there are some steps that government can take to encourage job creation and encourage the training of a workforce that is suitable for the jobs that are created; for example, the cooperative education tax credit which was introduced in the budget, which is designed to encourage businesses to employ co-op students from colleges and universities. There is also the income contingent student loan program, which is still being negotiated with the federal government, to assist students in attending school.

With respect to job creation in transportation, there is the $2.7 billion of capital spending, including $60 million to municipalities for repairs of highways being transferred to municipalities, such as Highway 12 in Whitby.

With respect to other specific areas, there are the telephone call centres, new home construction, the benefits for the racing industry and the film and TV industry incentives. Also with respect to the creation of jobs there is the employer health payroll tax rollback for the first $400,000 of payroll, which again is a job enhancement feature of the budget. There are also in the budget provisions respecting the cost and size of government and spending taxpayers' dollars more wisely.

In northwestern Ontario, where I had the privilege to be last week and will be later this week, I heard comments from persons about the Northern Ontario Heritage Fund Corp. Their concern related to the disappearance of funds into the consolidated general revenue fund. I'm glad the new opportunities fund will be a dedicated fund and that the northern Ontario fund is again going to be a dedicated fund.

As the minister noted in introducing the budget, the former government took $60 million from the heritage fund on March 31, 1995. This money was specifically allocated to be used for the benefit of northerners. That has been repaid, according to the budget; over $120 million, to be used exclusively for the benefit of the people of northern Ontario, the repayment including $5 million in accumulated interest and, further, the commitment by this government to continue to provide $30 million annually to the heritage fund.

Also, I heard favourable comments in northwestern Ontario about the commitment of a total of $138 million to be provided this year for repaving and repairing northern roads, which is up $40 million from 1995-96.

There is also the opportunity for public input with respect to certain specific matters raised in the budget presented by the Minister of Finance. The minister mentioned, and I think this is important, that all Ontarians are invited to provide the government with their suggestions as to those government services that should be considered for possible privatization and that there will be a means established to facilitate the provision of that input from citizens to the privatization committee.

Similarly, there is the Red-Tape Review Commission, which is chaired by the member for Lincoln. Again, that is mentioned as an opportunity for persons to have input about how they think the elimination of unnecessary regulations can make government work better for Ontarians.

Also, there is the invitation with respect to the private-sector-financed equity funds, which are referred to in the budget, and that is a matter being dealt with by the parliamentary assistant for financial institutions, Mr Sampson, with Mr Spina, the parliamentary assistant for small business. These are all opportunities for input with respect to these important aspects of government in the province of Ontario.


This is a government with a purpose and with a plan. This budget helps us achieve our purpose, our goal of an Ontario with more jobs, a healthy economy, lower taxes, a balanced budget, assistance for those in need and efficient government services. We believe in an Ontario society which, for the sake of our children and our children's children, not only believes in compassion and justice but also has the financial capacity to make it a reality. This budget puts Ontario back on track.

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

Mr James J. Bradley (St Catharines): I listened to the mythology that was forthcoming from the member, and it's perhaps because he's a new member, because I know he would not, as an honourable member of this House, wish to mislead the House. There's this mythology, and I must give the government political credit for doing it, that somehow there haven't been any tax cuts in the province in 25 years. I saw that even in a headline in the Toronto Star.

They have been quite successful in doing that, except that the Harris government is not, as some would like to suggest, delivering the first tax cut in 25 years. The New Democrats cut taxes by $325 million in their last, 1994 budget. The Liberals of David Peterson cut taxes by $12 million in 1990. In 1987, the Liberals delivered $246 million in net tax cuts, as well as a $6-million cut in 1986. The basic income tax has not been cut since 1972; however, income taxes for the working poor have been reduced numerous times, including 1989, 1990, 1991, 1992 and 1993. The Liberals cut corporate taxes in 1988 and 1990, cut individual health insurance premiums in 1986 and 1988 and eliminated them entirely in 1989.

The member may not have been aware of that, because if he had been aware of it, I know he wouldn't have said in his speech that this was the first time that a government had delivered a tax cut.

I think we have to watch for the mythology that's out there. It's pretty clever stuff by those who advise the Republican Party in the United States when they come forward with this, but it simply is not true. While they may talk about this tax cut, and they can do so, I just want them to be sure that my colleague for Scarborough-Agincourt will describe the history of tax cuts and tax increases over the last several years and will put it in accurate perspective, as I'm sure all impartial people in Ontario will agree.

Mr Silipo: I'm glad to just have a bit of time to reply to the member for Durham Centre, and I'm glad that the member for St Catharines pointed out one of the myths that this government has been perpetuating, that this is the first budget that cuts taxes. As he has correctly pointed out, both of the previous governments, in a variety of ways, cut taxes. I won't belabour that point. I'll have a chance to talk a little bit more about that at some other point in the debate.

There's another myth that this government has been perpetuating which the member for Durham Centre repeated, which is that they, the Conservatives, are doing what they said they would do. I hope the member for Durham Centre has talked recently to the trustees of the Durham board. One of them said to me the other day, picking up exactly on the notion of there being only one taxpayer, which the member himself just talked about, that in fact that school board had to increase property taxes by somewhere between 2% and 3% to protect the basic services they're providing in light of the cuts that the Harris government has imposed upon that school board and indeed all school boards across the province. So we have another one of these myths that has been perpetuated, which is that this government is doing what it promised to do.

Well, it also promised to protect classroom spending. It promised to protect classroom spending from the cuts, as well as do the tax cut, as well as protect health care, as well as protect the justice system from cuts, and we've seen those promises breached, all with a view to maintaining the one and only promise that this government seems intent on keeping, which is the promise of the 30% tax cut. We're not going to quibble about the fact that you're maintaining generally that promise, but you are not maintaining the other promises that went part and parcel with that promise. Certainly in Durham the voters are seeing that exactly through property tax increases.

Mr Baird: I listened with great interest to my colleague the member for Durham Centre's speech when he talked about tax cuts, about how important it was to cut taxes to create jobs. I listened with even more interest to my colleague opposite from St Catharines talk about how neither of the previous governments had cut taxes. He went on to explain specifically how the Liberals cut taxes. I recall very well, as my colleagues on this side of the House would, they planned to cut taxes during the 1990 election. We on this side of the House remember that. It was about, oh, 13 or 14 days before election day and the Liberals had fallen 20% in half as many days, in just 10 days, and they had been converted to cutting taxes. Actually, they were cutting the taxes that they had themselves, only two years previously, increased. To suggest that the Liberal Party cut taxes by $12 million is simply too much to take. They raised taxes 33 different times with one hand and then cut taxes by $12 million with the other.

My colleague from Durham Centre, in his speech -- his constituents and mine want net tax decreases. They want their taxes cut to create jobs and they don't want them raised 33 times with one hand and then cut simply once with the other.

My colleagues from the New Democratic Party -- the member opposite indicated that they cut taxes, and indeed they did cut taxes. They increased them 32 times with the other hand. So that's not what the people of Ontario want. They want a good tax decrease to create jobs.

Knowing the political history as I do, I would indicate to the member opposite that he'd be one to listen and to look at the record of Premier Mitch Hepburn, who was a Liberal Premier. Premier Hepburn cut taxes because he said it would create jobs. He wanted to cut regulation because he said it would create jobs. He wanted to help the Ontario economy doing that, and I know my friends opposite will want to look at who was perhaps the father of the Common Sense Revolution.

Mr Bruce Crozier (Essex South): To my friends opposite, while we're speaking of the record, I'd like to compare the economic years of 1981 to 1985, which was PC, and the years 1986 to 1990, which were Liberal.

The unemployment rate per year for the PCs was 8.7%; for the Liberals, 5.9%. The number of jobs created per year: 64,800 for the PCs; 112,000 for the Liberals. Real GDP growth per year: 3.6 for the PCs; 3.4 for the Liberals. Deficits per budget in billions: $2.7 billion for the PCs; $2 billion for the Liberals. Growth in spending per budget: $12 billion for the Conservatives; $9.6 billion for the Liberals. Growth in debt per budget: 11.4% for the tax-cutting Tories; 5.9% for the Liberals. Revenue increases per budget in millions of dollars: $576 million for the tax-cutting Tories; $510 million per budget for the Liberals. Tax increases per budget: six for the Tories; 5.3 for the Liberals. Tax decreases per budget: two for the Tories; 4.3 for the Liberals, which results in a net of four increases per budget for the Tories and one increase per budget for the Liberals, for the record.

The Acting Speaker: The member for Durham Centre, you have two minutes.

Mr Flaherty: My friend opposite from Essex South conveniently omits the reality of the tremendous growth in the Ontario economy and the tremendous amounts of money that were flowing into the coffers of the government of Ontario from 1985 to 1990, despite the fact that during those five years they continued to increase spending 10% per year, an average of over 10% per year, over those five years, having never, apparently, heard of the concept of saving money for a rainy day. Spend, spend, spend. So when the difficult times came, from 1990 to 1995, our friends opposite in the NDP admittedly had a much more difficult time because that Liberal government failed to save the money for the rainy day that came in 1990 to 1995, making things more difficult for the government of the day at that time.

Having said that, the NDP government of that time, when the federal government reduced the level of income taxation for all Canadians, grabbed the entire reduction back from the people of Ontario so that the people of Ontario had no benefit whatsoever from a federal income tax cut that other Canadians who lived outside Ontario benefited from.


My friend the member for Dovercourt talks about the Durham Board of Education and says they've increased their taxation rate by 2.75%. I can say that the Durham board went back and reconsidered that and thought about it again because of the importance of setting priorities, of examining their core services and of doing more with less. In the end the Durham board did decide to increase its mill rate by 2.75%, which I opposed. I made it clear to the trustees -- and I went to the meetings -- that you don't just cut spending across the board; you have to set priorities, you have to ask the important questions, you have to do more with less.

The Acting Speaker: Further debate? The member for Scarborough-Agincourt.

Mr Phillips: I appreciate the opportunity to actually comment on Bill 47. For those who may be watching, we're on the budget bill --

Mr Baird: The budget bill you've been waiting for. You wanted it, you got it.

Mr Phillips: -- the budget bill that the government's introduced at least, and I'd like to comment on the various aspects of the bill. Just to remember what's in it, this deals with the income tax, the employer health tax, the land transfer tax, the racetrack tax, the Retail Sales Tax Act, the Financial Administration Act.

Strangely enough, as you know, the Family Benefits Act, which has nothing to do --

Mr Baird: Page 53.

Mr Phillips: The member across says page 53. There are 33 pages in the budget.

Mr Bradley: He's interjecting as loudly as he laughs at the Premier's jokes.

The Acting Speaker: The member for St Catharines, the member for Scarborough-Agincourt has the floor.

Mr Phillips: The first comment I'd like to make on the bill, because it impacts on the whole issue of jobs, is that the government ran on a platform that its Common Sense Revolution, which is the bible, we know that, for the government members, would see 725,000 jobs created over the five years of their term.

We now find that the saddest part of the budget is on page 39 of the budget papers. We see, just to refresh our memories, that rather than the job creation the public thought was there with the Common Sense Revolution -- this is 1998, I realize people at home can't see this. We actually see in 1998, three full years into the revolution, when the full impact of the revolution should have caught hold, if you can believe this and if the public can believe this, more people out of work in Ontario, more people without jobs, more people on the unemployment ranks than in 1995.

I know the Premier is fond of saying "those dark years" about the last 10 years. Well, it seems really odd to me that we would have a budget presented to us that would actually show more people out of work in 1998 than the year this government came into office.

Just as a small side issue, I opened my newspaper on the weekend and I saw the --

Mr David Turnbull (York Mills): Which newspaper?

Mr Phillips: It was in all papers. Well, it was in the Sun.

Mr Baird: You read the Sun?

Mr Phillips: In the Sun. I opened the Star and the Globe, and the government spent money everywhere. It was in all three papers. It was the budget plan. For those of you who saw the ad, at the bottom it said, "Phone for our job creation plan."

I said: "This is great. They haven't revealed this yet. I'm going to phone for the job creation plan." So I got on my phone, phoned the number. I must say that a very pleasant person answered the phone, and I said, "I'd like you to send me the job creation plan." She said: "Well, actually there is no job creation plan. We'll send you the budget." I said, "But I thought there was going to be a job creation plan." "Well, it's the budget." I said, "I'm surprised you don't have a job creation plan." She said: "Frankly, those of us on the phones are a bit surprised too. We thought we would have a job creation plan we could mail out, but it wasn't there."

Then I asked the person, "Well, what is the job creation plan?"

Mr Wayne Wettlaufer (Kitchener): Your idea of a job creation plan was to spend --

The Acting Speaker: The member for Kitchener.

Mr Phillips: I appreciate that, Mr Speaker, because he's barking nonsense over here. I forget where he's from. I think it's Mr Wettlaufer from somewhere, who gets very angry when we point these things out to him. I know he doesn't like to hear it, but I have the microphone. Eventually, you may be allowed to speak, if the House leader will allow Mr Wettlaufer to speak. In the meantime, you can bark and I will ignore you.

Just to go on, as I say, I asked for the job creation plan. Then I said, "What are the elements in here on job creation?" The person, I must say, was very good, and said: "Here's another part. We are restructuring the public service." I said: "Doesn't that mean you're going to lay quite a few people off? Is that the job creation plan?" She said, "As a matter of fact, there have been a lot of people laid off in our department." I said, "That doesn't sound like a job creation plan."

My point is this: For a government that said, "We're going to be different" -- I remember the now Premier railing at the NDP for spending money on advertising, and then we find out the government spent at least $600,000 advertising this budget. I get on the phone to find out where the job creation plan is, and it's not there.

I would say the litmus test for the budget will be job creation. For whatever reason, the government's own numbers in here indicate, as I say, the job creation plan is failing. They said the plan would create 725,000 jobs. That's 145,000 jobs a year. Now we've got three years with fewer than 100,000 each year, for the first three years. That means, if you do the math, in the final two years the province has to see well over 220,000 jobs a year created. We're beginning to see the key promise unravelling before the government's eyes, without question.

For those of us who look at the numbers, and I think most members in the House are keenly aware and concerned about the numbers --

Mr John Hastings (Etobicoke-Rexdale): Digging a deep hole.

Mr Phillips: The government is digging. The member across the hall said, "Digging a deep hole." Already in 1996, the unemployment ranks have grown by 34,000. The problem is that the government plans, the amazing Common Sense Revolution, is not even seeing jobs created in Ontario at a fast enough rate to absorb those coming into the labour force, and I might add --

Mr Bradley: Unbelievable.

Mr Phillips: I don't know whether the member from -- Mr Hastings --

Mr Bradley: I'm sure they'll let him on the list to speak.

Mr Phillips: He may eventually get to speak --

Mr Hastings: Look at April.

Mr Phillips: Here is the problem in April. The member says, "Look at April." Indeed, I look at April. Do you know what happened to the unemployed? There were 6,000 more people in Ontario out of work in April. In January, because you've asked the question, here are the numbers: in January, 24,000 more people out of work than in December.


The Acting Speaker: The member for Etobicoke-Rexdale.

Mr Phillips: In February, 7,000 more people out of work than in December. March was a month when the number of unemployed actually dropped slightly, and then April went up 6,000. There are 35,000 more people out of work than there were at the end of December, and by their own admission, more people out of work in 1998.

One of the reasons -- my colleagues have mentioned this -- we are apprehensive of the economic and fiscal plans of the Premier, Mr Harris, and the finance minister, Mr Eves, is because they were in government for four years, albeit 10 years ago. But, believe me, when they were in government -- you don't want them to duplicate their fiscal and their economic performance then. That's why we're very suspicious of them. Unemployment rates running 9% and 10%, my colleague behind me pointed out.

I know the members in the caucus don't like to hear this, but it's important you realize that the past record of Mr Harris and Mr Eves in government is nothing you want to defend: the unemployment rate running at 8.7%; jobs created per year, 65,000; the real GDP, 3.6%; the deficit per budget, $2.7 billion -- almost 15% of the spending was in deficit; the growth in spending per budget, 12% -- every year going up 12%; the growth in debt per budget going up 11%.


Actually, for each of the budgets that they were previously involved in, the four budgets, the tax increases per budget were six. The biggest increase in personal income tax rate didn't occur under the Liberals and didn't occur under the NDP; it occurred when Mr Eves and Mr Harris were in government 10 years ago. I'm not sure the public are that interested in old squabbles of 10 years ago and what not, but it is important to remember performance.

I might add, interestingly enough, that there was a question the other day asked by one of the Conservative backbenchers on the teachers' pension. Let me just say that the reason for the incredible cost of the teachers' pension per year is because in 1975, to win an election, the then Conservative government introduced indexing for the pension and never funded it, never put the money in it from 1975 to 1985, and let the unfunded liability grow and grow. It was left to a Liberal government to put together a plan to pay off the unfunded liability.

Mr Bradley: Cleaning up the Tory mess.

Mr Phillips: Cleaning up the Tory mess, as my colleague says. In my opinion, it's one of the reasons why we lost the election in 1990, because we were forced to deal with an unfunded liability that the previous Conservative government never chose to deal with.

Mr Baird: Oh?

Mr Phillips: There's a member across the way, I'm not sure from what riding, who is feigning surprise at this. Take a look at it. Trust yourselves to look at it. I guarantee you left an $8-billion unfunded liability for indexing the teachers' pension that was 100% for the taxpayers to pay. You never touched it and required our government to deal with it.

I might add also that Darlington is another example. Darlington, for those not familiar with it, is a nuclear power plant, the biggest construction job in North America, going on for years and years, and not a penny of it was ever charged against the books. There was about an $18-billion cost run up and then finally, when the thing started up, that's when the expenses started.

Because I know many of my colleagues across are interested in the finances, be careful. Don't assume that Mr Harris and Mr Eves are the fine money managers they would like you to believe.

I want to talk a little bit about the bill. This is background to the bill.

The first thing is on the income tax cut. I was mildly surprised, perhaps slightly pleasantly surprised. I believe the 30% tax cut is high-risk. I think it's fiscally irresponsible. I know this is for the commonsense true believers, the Tom Longs. I know Tom Long a little bit; a fine individual, but he has a completely different philosophy than me. But for the Tom Longs and what not, the 30% tax cut is the religion.

I know you're going to deliver that, I know you're going to deliver the 30% tax cut, because at the core, it ensures that -- it has less to do with putting money in people's pockets and more to do with drying up the source of revenue for government so you can keep cutting back the level of support provided by government. It will be done. The 30% will be done. I have no doubt about that.

Mr Baird: You did during the campaign.

Mr Phillips: The member says I did.

About the 30% tax cut -- I've told this story before -- I remember when you brought the Common Sense Revolution out I was meeting with a group of 10 or 11, some Liberal but many non-Liberal, but just very good financial and economic people. I brought the Common Sense Revolution back in and I said: "What do you think about this 30% tax cut? What should our comment be?" They said: "It's fiscally irresponsible. It can't be done. It will collapse of its own weight. It is no plan to get the fiscal house in order. Leave it alone; it'll die." But it didn't. They got elected on that. But it is at the core of the Common Sense Revolution true believers, and I believe that, I completely believe that.

But we're beginning to see the real agenda, because I know you tried to sell it as a job-creating plan. This is the big job creation plan. I'll say two things about that. One is that I've noticed you've delayed the tax cut implementation.

Mr Crozier: Therefore the job plan is delayed.

Mr Phillips: Therefore the job plan's delayed. The member is shaking his head, but it was completely clear. I can remember a neat video of the Premier, then in opposition, sitting in a living room saying, "In year 1, you'll be getting these tax savings in our very first budget, these tax savings in your pocket, starting in our very first budget." It was completely costed as taking place essentially April 1, 1996. We now find, for whatever reason --

Mr Baird: The first year of our budget.

Mr Phillips: The member says the first year of their budget. That's not the platform you ran on. I can recall during the campaign that this 15% would start immediately, April 1, and then would be phased in. The second 25% would come April 1, 1997, then April 1, 1998.

Mr Baird: Where does it say that?

The Acting Speaker: If you have any questions, the member for Nepean, wait for questions and comments.

Mr Phillips: I appreciate that.

But now we find, for whatever reason -- I'm not sure what you were told at caucus. It must have been an interesting caucus meeting when the Minister of Finance said, "I'm sorry, we're going to have to delay the implementation of our tax cut." Many of you -- I've been to meetings with you, actually, in the community where it's, "Well, 15% is coming immediately; you're going to get this raise right away." Now it's delayed.

We of course have some significant reservations about the fiscal sense of the 15% going to 30% tax cut, and we're finding that the financial markets have some significant reservations, but I'm very surprised that the Minister of Finance could ever get the caucus to agree to delaying the 15% to January 1. Again, if indeed this is the engine, this is the thing that's going to create jobs, it's going to be the engine for creating jobs -- and not only that, it magically, absolutely magically, is going to fund itself.

Mr Wettlaufer: You can't have it both ways.

The Acting Speaker: The member for Kitchener.

Mr Phillips: Well, surprise, surprise. The financial people I assume have begun to bring some sense to the government and said: "Listen, this is fiscally irresponsible. You can't be cutting taxes by 15% and hope to keep your fiscal house in order. We're going to have to stretch this out for a while." As I say, I have no doubt that you'll implement the 30% close to the election so that the full impact of it fiscally won't be felt --

Hon Mr Villeneuve: You know we're going to do it. Of course you know.

Mr Phillips: The minister of rural affairs, rural destruction --

Mr Bradley: The minister of cutting agriculture.

Mr Phillips: -- the minister who's cutting agriculture. On rural affairs, in the budget we now see half of the OPP detachments closing, which amazed me: "We ran on law and order. Half of the OPP detachments are closing." I was astonished at that, and if people still feel as safe when half of them are closed as they did before, I will be very surprised.

That's my first point on the tax cut. My first point on the tax cut is that I found it interesting you've delayed it. It confirms our suspicions that it is fiscally irresponsible. It must be mildly embarrassing for you because you said this is the one that's going to create the jobs, but I suppose you can get away with it: "Well, you'll still get it. It's going to be nine months later than we thought." By the way, the second instalment, the next quarter of the tax cut, no mention of that. It looks to me like they may be delaying that.


I think people out there have --

Mr Bradley: Come to their senses?

Mr Phillips: My colleague says, "Come to their senses," coming to their senses in recognizing that this is no way to get their fiscal house in order or to create jobs. If the agenda is as I believe it is, they'll do the 30% ultimately to dry up the source of revenue for the government. But we see that the tax cut is not creating the jobs we have been promised. As a matter of fact, as I say, we actually see the number of people out of work, by the government's own numbers, increasing substantially in 1996, 1997 and 1998.

Mr Bradley: These are their own figures?

Mr Phillips: Their own figures. I was interested to see the cost of the tax cut, because we on this side have been saying the tax cut is going to cost $5 billion, fully implemented, and there's been some shaking of heads over there: "No, no, no." You now find, on page 22 in the budget, the confirmation that it will be well over $5 billion. The numbers in here are, for the rate reduction, $4.815 billion in 1996-97 terms, and as every financial person, economist and Ministry of Finance official will tell you, by the year 1998-99 that cost will be well over $5 billion.

I must also say we were mildly surprised on the Fair Share health care levy to find that the fully annualized costs were $260 million. The reason we were surprised was because in the Common Sense Revolution, which we do indeed read, it said, "Fair Share will generate $400 million in revenue for the health care system." So something happened between the Common Sense Revolution and the budget. It went from $400 million in the Fair Share health levy to $260 million, a pretty dramatic decrease, in spite of the fact that this was going to be the thing that clawed back from the upper-income earners their tax break.

We now find that the Fair Share health levy is going to generate far less revenue than they had said, and sure enough, according to the government's own numbers, suspicions confirmed: If you make $150,000 in this province, after the tax break, after the Fair Share health levy, you get a $5,000 tax break.

Mr Bill Murdoch (Grey-Owen Sound): And spend it.

Mr Phillips: "And spend it," my colleague said. I will go back to a fundamental concern we have with the tax cut, and that is, if the deficit is such a huge problem and if the debt is such a huge problem that everyone in Ontario has to sacrifice --

Mr Murdoch: It's a huge problem. You know that.

Mr Phillips: It is a huge problem. I know that, the public knows that, and the public are prepared to deal with it. If it's such a huge problem, tell me again, how can the province afford to give someone making $150,000 a year a $5,000 tax break? Tell me, how is that possible if it is such a huge problem?

I realize it may be that these people are suffering, the ones making $150,000. If someone on social assistance, a couple who are getting $1,000 a month, have got to live now on $800 a month, have to move out of their apartment into some other accommodation, move into a basement apartment or move in with family to fight the deficit, then maybe the government's saying, I gather, that many of those people have to go through that. Why? To fund a $5,000 tax break for people making $150,000. In fact, over half of the tax break will go to families making more than $90,000 a year.

My point is this: How could we possibly believe that the debt and deficit is such a huge problem that everyone must sacrifice, but at exactly the same time we can afford a tax cut of that magnitude? I don't think the public can understand the logic of that.

Mr Murdoch: I think they do.

The Acting Speaker: The member for Grey-Owen Sound.

Mr Phillips: The member from Grey-Owen Sound, who is barking there --

Mr Bradley: Not from his own seat.

Mr Phillips: It doesn't matter where he's sitting. If you can explain to your community why, when the OPP detachment closes and half the OPP detachments are being closed around the province -- to fund the tax cut. Over half the expenditure cuts go directly into the tax cut. Maybe you can explain why you ran on a platform of maintaining full funding for law enforcement and you're letting that happen. We see today the Attorney General's budget has been cut by $116 million.

Mr Bradley: Wow. They won't be able to prosecute any more.

Mr Phillips: My colleague says they won't be able to prosecute any more. The Attorney General without question is looking at ways to prosecute fewer people, to have fewer people go to courts, in my opinion to back down substantially on the platform you ran on. The member for Grey-Owen Sound I know will be happy to defend that, when the courts in Owen Sound are prosecuting far fewer cases and when OPP detachments are closing in his area. He'll be very happy, I'm sure, to defend the Minister of Education's slashing support for elementary and secondary schools. Again you ran on a platform of, "We're not going to touch the classroom."

Mr Bradley: He said he was out of whack.

The Acting Speaker: The member for St Catharines.

Mr Phillips: The member for St Catharines said that the member for Grey-Owen Sound indicated the minister in that case was out of whack, and he is; it's out of whack with the campaign promises that you made. I remember them very well: "This plan guarantees full funding for health care, law enforcement and education spending in the classroom."


Mr Phillips: Some members are applauding, but I think each of you now is beginning to see what the cost is of this tax cut for people who are making $150,000 and you're beginning to see that you are now being forced to break your promise on law enforcement and you're being forced to break your promise on classroom education, and increasingly on health care.

I see in the budget that the health care budget shows $17.7 billion. However, hospitals in our communities are facing cuts averaging almost 20% over the next three years. If you tell me that is not going to impact on health care in your community, then you haven't talked to your hospitals; you haven't gone over the impact of the budget cuts with your hospitals.

Mr Murdoch: I think Gerry Phillips should be the leader of the Liberal Party. "Higher taxes, increase the taxes," the Liberals say. No wonder nobody wants to be the leader of the Liberals. I understand why.

The Acting Speaker: Order. The procedures are very, very clear. There should be no interjections. I just want to advise you, the member for Grey-Owen Sound, to remain quiet.

Mr Murdoch: Jeez, I'm muzzled already.

Mr Phillips: I realize that the members may not like to hear all this because less than a year ago they ran on a platform of, "We're not going to touch classroom education." Virtually all of you now have begun to see that you clearly have cut right into the classroom. As a matter of fact, I was interested yesterday or the day before in the Minister of Transportation saying, "We are increasing funding for roads." Frankly, that is simply not the case.


The budget must be wrong. The budget has to be wrong, because you will see that capital expenditures for transportation, the roads budget, in 1994-95 were $1.757 billion, in 1995-96 were $1.420 billion, and the 1996-97 plan is $1.215 billion. They have cut $500 million out of the transportation budget. I'll guarantee you, no matter what sleight of hand you go through, no matter how many times you say, "Well, we've got this fund for that," the public are not stupid. They know when you cut $500 million from the capital budget for roads in this province that you are cutting the support for our infrastructure.

I think before the election Premier Harris, then Mike Harris, would sign anything to get elected. The Good Roads people have got a neat little document saying that he is going to increase support for infrastructure and roads. These documents don't disappear after the election; they're still lying around. People are beginning to say: "Whoa, I don't understand this. You said you were going to increase support for roads, and you've cut from $1.757 billion to $1.215 billion. That's $550 million." You can't get away with it. The public simply are going to find you out, that you say one thing before the election and, we're now finding, quite a different thing after the election.

Mr Murdoch: What would the Liberals do anyway, other than raise taxes?

Mr Phillips: The member for Grey-Owen Sound is barking again, because he probably doesn't like to hear that the job situation is not near what you promised, with more people out of work, by far, in 1996, 1997 and 1998 than when they came into office; that on the fundamental commitments that they made on classroom education, on law enforcement -- and no matter how you slice it on law enforcement, you're not going to tell people in this province when you close half the detachments, and actually the Solicitor General has cut his funding and the Attorney General has had his funding cut dramatically -- that you are maintaining support for law enforcement in the province.

Mr Bradley: Was there any mention of lottery terminals?

Mr Phillips: My colleague mentions lottery terminals. I would say that the government is becoming really addicted to gambling revenue. I would also say that I remember -- actually, the now Premier used to sit here and the now Minister of Finance sit there, railing against the NDP's casino plans. I think he even went down to Windsor, Mike Harris, and said, "I'm going to close Windsor and we're going to have a referendum." In fact, I would think much of the support for the Conservatives was because clearly if you were to say, "Which party is against this gambling?" it would be the Conservatives.

Mr Bradley: I'm telling the churches.

Mr Phillips: Many of the church leadership would have felt that way.

I don't think there's ever been a faster turnaround than the one we're seeing by the Conservative Party. I'll just go over it: the opening of two more casinos, and in rapid succession, and there was going to be the amazing province-wide referendum; 50, I believe it is, permanent casinos in the province, 50 brand-new mini-casinos.

Mr Bradley: Las Vegas North.

Mr Phillips: Las Vegas North.

Mr Baird: That's $1 billion in revenue coming in.

Mr Phillips: But, you see, you all ran on a platform of a referendum, but now I guess you're all saying, "Well, we're all right with 50 new mini-casinos," permanent mini-casinos.

Mr Murdoch: What do the Liberals think of that? Liberals don't know.

Mr Phillips: Well, are you happy with that? I gather you are. You're happy with the 50 permanent -- Mr Hastings is happy with it. It comes as quite a shock to many in the community, to many of the clergy, to many of the church community who felt you were people of your word. There would be a referendum, they would have a chance to campaign on it, they would have a chance to let their views be known. But no, we've now got three big casinos and 50 mini-casinos all opening up.

The legalization of video lottery terminals, slot machines -- you see, here's the argument. I don't know whether the public are aware of how dangerous, according to people who know gambling, VLTs, video lottery terminals are. They are electronic slot machines. They are slot machines that just gobble up money and they will be a cash bonanza for the government. I'm convinced of that.

You must have had the experts on the VLTs come to your caucus and they'd say: "Your money worries are over. These things will bring in more money than you can dream of. As a matter of fact, they'll bring in so much money, we can fix the racing industry, you'll get lots of money, the charities will get lots of money, the anti-gambling group will get lots of money, the operators will get lots of money." There's only one loser in all of this: It's the people who go bankrupt throwing all that money into them.

The Minister of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs said: "Well, there were a lot of illegal ones out there, so what are we to do? If there's this illegal work going on, we must legalize it." So the law and order, the tough guys have figured out a way to solve the illegal gambling out there: "We'll be the owners. We'll do it ourselves. We'll rake our own profit off it."

Interjection: Legalize crime.

Mr Phillips: That's right. "We'll muscle those crooks out and we'll take it over." And so you did. But I would say without question that on VLTs, anybody who's looked at them --


Mr Phillips: The member for Grey-Owen Sound wants to know, are we for or against them? We're agin 'em. You will find they will be a terrific cash bonanza for you. You're going to love them for a period of time.

I look at the budget and boy, I guess this solved Ernie Eves's problems. They allowed happy month. May is happy month around here. It is the good news month. It may be the only happy month in five years, but May is the good news month. I would be amazed if there are going to be any laid off. All the people who are going to be laid off, I would speculate, it'll come in June; all the cuts that came before will come after. May is happy month. There's another pothole filled this morning.

But what do we see now? The government is without question -- page 66 for those following, and there's only one following it -- but page 66 in the budget, and for those people who are worried about the government becoming addicted to gambling, you can see: Three years ago the revenue from gambling was $600 million; now it's over $1.3 billion, and that is only the start. I have no doubt. The experience in Alberta is this thing is a cash cow, without any question, and you will reap an awful lot of money from it.

But where is it coming from? Where does the money come from?

Mr Murdoch: The Solicitor General is here now. Maybe you'd like to tell him.

The Acting Speaker: The member for Grey-Owen Sound, I ask your cooperation and I hope you'll give it to me.

Mr Phillips: I know, as I say, the members don't like to be reminded of these things they said a year ago. The member for Etobicoke is sort of shaking his head, but a year ago: "Seven hundred and twenty-five thousand jobs. We're not going to touch classroom education. We're not going to touch law enforcement. We don't believe in casinos. We're going to have a province-wide referendum before we do them because they're evil." Now we have three big ones, 50 little ones, these video lottery terminals everywhere, and the government is now truly addicted to gambling revenues.

I would like to comment quickly on the Employer Health Tax Act. This is the removal of the employer health tax on payrolls.


Hon Bob Runciman (Solicitor General and Minister of Correctional Services): How may tax increases did you have, Gerry? Talk about revenue appetites; you had an enormous appetite, an insatiable appetite.

Mr Phillips: The Solicitor General has arrived, the one who's going to close half of the OPP detachments. I don't know whether he was around in 1981 or not. I carry this budget around with me, because there's the last time a Conservative government balanced the budget in Ontario; it says 1969. I carry that around because it is a myth, a complete myth -- and Brian Mulroney proved it conclusively -- that Conservatives are the great money managers. They're very good at rewarding their friends, and the tax cut will clearly reward your supporters, I have no doubt of that, but in terms of dealing sensitively with Ontario, I have some real reservations.

The employer health tax came as a mild surprise to us, because this was supposed to be one of the great job creators. This was going to be the thing that fixed jobs very quickly. Well, surprise, surprise. The previous government, in a tax cut, quite a significant tax cut actually for job creation, the NDP government in 1994 cut the employer health tax by $300 million, quite a large tax cut. What for? If you hired somebody in this province, you did not pay the employer health tax for the first year on that employee. It was not a bad idea.


Mr Phillips: The minister of rural destruction should point out that you've taken that out. Essentially that's a tax increase. They took it right out of the budget. Now if you hire people in this province -- well, they're shaking their heads. The NDP had that in. That was an incentive to hire people; you did not pay the employer health tax on a new hire. That's gone, completely gone. You no longer have that, which was an incentive, in the budget. I think the business community would say it was a great incentive, but it's gone. You don't mention it anywhere in the budget. You don't say, "We've cut that out." You never point out that that will mean you are going to get increased revenue of $300 million because of that. It's one of those dirty little secrets that was never pointed out in the budget. You're going to get brand-new revenue of $300 million from the hardworking, decent employers of this province. You don't mention that as a tax increase; you simply forget it. On the job creating side, that was one thing that I think all three parties probably, when it was introduced, said was a good idea. But it's gone, quietly gone. What's in its place? Strangely enough --

Hon Mr Runciman: Thirty-five thousand new jobs last month.

Mr Phillips: The Solicitor General says 5,000 jobs.

Hon Mr Runciman: It's 35,000.

Mr Phillips: No, you're wrong. You don't know what you're talking about. There we are; there's your own report. The Solicitor General says 35,000 jobs -- he's wrong; 8,000 more jobs, 6,000 more people out of work. There's the problem. The Solicitor General doesn't know what he's talking about. If the cabinet don't know what they're talking about, we've got a real problem. He says 30,000 jobs. The Minister of Finance, May 10, points out 8,000 more jobs, 6,000 more people out of work. That's the problem, and somebody's feeding the wrong information. I don't know who's telling him. If Paul Rhodes is feeding the wrong information, it's time somebody went to cabinet and told them the truth.

I go back to the employer health tax, because the first thing you did was you took off -- if you hired somebody new, which was an incentive to hire people, you didn't pay the employer health tax. That's gone. You pay it all. Furthermore, I think most of us felt you were going to take the employer health tax off the first $400,000 of payroll. Strangely enough that's not the case. For 1996 nothing is happening; I was surprised. In 1997 you'll begin to phase it in, and by the time 1999 rolls around it's fully implemented.

If you believe, as I do, that your fiscal plan is extremely risky, it strikes me as perhaps not a bad idea to delay it. But for those of you who ran on a campaign that this was going to be a job creator -- "We're going to cut that first $400,000 of payroll right away because it will create jobs" -- you can see, I gather, that the Ministry of Finance doesn't think it's going to create that many jobs, because he's chosen to delay implementing it until 1997. You're beginning to be caught with your own inconsistencies.

Hon Mr Runciman: On a point of order, Mr Speaker: I want to put on the record that the major Ontario full-time employment was --

The Acting Speaker: I'm sure the minister knows extremely well that this is not a point of order.

Mr Phillips: I go back to the labour force statistics: 35,000 more people out of work in Ontario in the first four months; jobs, 8,000 more in April; 6,000 more people out of work. The problem with this government is that they choose not to deal with reality. That is reality. By the way, that's from the same Solicitor General who ran on a big law-and-order platform, and now we find half the OPP detachments closing. I'm going to find it extremely interesting, in your communities, how you defend that, how you defend half the OPP detachments closing when you ran on a big platform of law and order. I think the public will begin to realize the reality of it is that the platform was designed to find a 30% tax cut.

The Ontario Loan Act -- by the way, I found the games that this government is beginning to play mildly amusing. I can remember that the then Conservatives in opposition used to accuse the NDP of playing games with the books and what not. What do we find now? We find a few things. One is that -- surprise -- the government went on a bit of a borrowing binge.

Mr Murdoch: How did we get into a borrowing binge?

Mr Phillips: You did. You went out and borrowed.

Mr Murdoch: Explain it then.

Mr Phillips: You came into the year with $11 billion in liquid reserves, essentially cash. You've created a phony debt number.


Mr Phillips: You're going to have to look at it yourselves. You can see here that the debt goes up by $4 billion and your deficit is $8 billion. That's kind of odd. The deficit is $8 billion and the debt is only going up $4 billion. How could that be? Isn't that amazing? It's magic. It's because you pre-borrowed $4 billion and you're simply using up the cash. It's actually a silly game you're playing to try and say the debt is not going up that much. I don't think they're getting away with it. I don't think the back bench is standing for it. I think the back bench will say, "Wait a minute, this is nonsense, trying to show the debt in this year going up $4 billion when it's clear it's going up $8 billion." The answer from the Minister of Finance is: "Well, we played some games and we pre-borrowed $4 billion. The real debt is going up $8 billion."

I'd also say that the government was fairly clever. It went back -- they call it "Restatement of Prior-Years Public Accounts" -- and essentially took $500 million of student loans, expenses that were going to come due in the future, and jammed them back into the books in the past. You can get away with that in the public sector, I guess; in the private sector you'd have some difficulty. They also did about $200 million of grants to school boards, and this was really neat: The Attorney General, scrambling to find some money for the legal aid plan, went back and put $100 million back into 1993-94.


The reason I raise this is that sort of under cover the government went back and, against the dastardly NDP, wrote off $500 million worth of student loans, $200 million to school boards and $100 million on legal aid, all designed to make the previous year's books look worse, to make this year's books look better. Without question. They've gotten away with it. I suppose it's good politics to do that when you can get away with it. But it understates the real increase in debt. The real increase in debt from this government that this tax bill deals with can be found on page 43. You can see the debt going $8 billion, $7 billion, $4.8 billion, $2.6 billion, a $22-billion increase in the debt.

It goes back to the point I made before. If in fact the debt and the deficit are such a huge problem that you have to close half of the OPP detachments in the province, if in fact you've got to cut $116 million from the Attorney General's budget, if you've got to cut classroom spending, if all of these things have to happen, how can the province afford a tax cut which, as it says here in the document, will cost $5 billion when it's fully implemented? The fact is that we can't afford it. The fact is that it's being done to try to force more and more and more expenditure cuts.

I was intrigued with the Ontario opportunities fund. It's cute, but essentially what it says -- it's no fund at all. It just says that if we better our deficit targets, we will use that money to reduce our debt. Well, that's obvious. What else could you use it for? That's self-evident. But I guess they think it's cute to set up something called the opportunities fund, and to whatever extent the deficit is beaten, is bettered, each year, that money will go to reduce the debt. It's obvious. That's obvious where it goes. It can't go anywhere else. It has to go to reduce the deficit; it has to go to reduce the debt.

Hon Mr Villeneuve: You found ways of spending it when you were in power.

Mr Phillips: I love the Minister of Agriculture. I don't know whether he was around in 1981-85 or not, but the budget's gone up 12% a year. You, at least Mr Eves and Mr Harris, took taxes up six times a budget, tax revenues up almost $600 million, never balanced the budget, had deficits averaging $2.7 billion. It is a joke to think they are the great money managers.

I actually have found one table in here fairly interesting: Ontario's deficit. You can see there that the only surplus in the last 25 years in the province of Ontario was the last year of the Liberal government. Furthermore, I'll go on to say --

Mr Murdoch: You never showed the capital deficit.


The Acting Speaker: Order.

Mr Phillips: I know the members don't like to hear this, but if you don't believe others, believe your own budget. Look at the 10-year plan here. There's only one surplus in that budget, only one surplus.

The problem is, the members don't know what they're talking about. They say, "You've got to include capital." I hate to break the news to you: Capital is included. It's there. The problem is -- I know you don't like to hear this -- the last Conservative balanced budget was 1969, and frankly, your own plans say you're not going to balance the budget until eight months after the next election. That's why I urge the public to be extremely suspicious of the government's fiscal plans, because they've got a track record of not delivering.

I go back to leaving an unfunded liability in the teachers' pension of $8 billion. I was amazed when one of your own members asked, "How did this mess get there?" It got there because you folks ran a campaign, you won an election on providing the teachers with fully indexed pensions, and you never funded them. It's all funny money to you.

You built the Darlington nuclear plant and never paid a penny on it until the thing was up and running. You left a $17-billion debt for Ontario Hydro that Ontario Hydro is still struggling with.

I say to the members opposite, particularly in the back bench, be very careful of the cabinet's plans when they bring them to you.

As I say, I was interested to see you delay the tax cut. I was surprised the caucus never raised any fuss about it. I thought you ran on that as your great job creator. I don't think it is a great job creator, by the way. When people came to our finance and economic affairs committee to talk about the tax cut, without exception they said, "The problem with the tax cut is that the first thing it will be used for is debt reduction."

Mr Murdoch: It was either us or you, and look what happened.

Mr Phillips: Mr Speaker, I see you're almost coming out of your chair. The member for Grey-Owen Sound perhaps can bellow tomorrow or at 6 o'clock, but there are actually some of your members here who might like to listen rather than just simply listen to you bellow. If you want to bellow, why don't we wait for 15 more minutes and then you can just bellow on for about five or 10 minutes. I don't mind interjections that make sense. The problem with the member for Grey-Owen Sound is that they don't make sense.

I go back again to what is driving these tax cuts. Without question, it is the true believers in the Common Sense Revolution. I know the 30% will be there. It is a core belief, and it fundamentally will dry up the revenue of government.

What's the price we're paying? The price we're paying is probably best found on page 55, which is what's called the medium-term fiscal outlook. By the way, it was the first time I've ever seen, in opposition, a government present a medium-term fiscal outlook that was not a medium-term fiscal outlook. It only has two years in here. Every budget that I've looked at in opposition has had at least three years. I know why it was only two years, because I think the government is fully aware that it is in trouble in the year 1998-99.

Here's the challenge. You've had the good news on the tax cut, and I suspect the majority of people in Ontario welcome the tax cut, but here's the price: First, by your own numbers, you've got to cut another $3.2 billion out of the 1996 expenditures, $3 billion the next year and $1 billion the next year, approximately $7 billion out of a budget of about $30 billion. It's about 25% of the budget, exclusive of health.

I would say to the people of Ontario that when they begin to see their education system being attacked -- and it is. The Minister of Education and Training barely got into the expenditure cuts, not even a quarter of the way along on his planned expenditure cuts, and there were howls across the province. There are at least two Conservative members in this Legislature who were howling the loudest. In fact, the member for Grey-Owen Sound was practising his howling on the Minister of Education. But you've only just begun the educational cuts. You are not even a quarter of the way along on your educational cuts.

On the OPP, I will be anxious to see the response when half the detachments in the province of Ontario close. I happen to live in Metro Toronto. I have had some experience with police stations closing, and I will just say that --

Hon Mr Villeneuve: You're fearmongering.

Mr Phillips: The Minister of Agriculture says I'm fearmongering. I don't think the people of Ontario regard the closing of an OPP detachment as good news. They will see those cruisers in that area far less, by definition.


Hon Mr Runciman: What are you talking about? We're not closing any detachments.

Mr Phillips: The Solicitor General says what are we talking about. It's half the detachments in your own business plan.

Mr Baird: Do some more research, Gerry.

Mr Phillips: It's not mine; it's the minister's own business plan. I carry this stuff around; I actually read it. Half of the offices --

The Acting Speaker: Please address the Chair.

Mr Phillips: I appreciate that, Mr Speaker. It's like the Premier the other day, who is -- he's rather unusual. That may be the safest language I can use. I really found it interesting. The other day he said, "The member," meaning me, "is all wet; his numbers are all wrong."

That was in anticipation of the budget. I then got the budget out and my numbers were all right. He seems to feel he can say whatever he wants and get away with it. The Solicitor General, in his business plan -- I hope I can find it here. Well, I can. I'll take my time.

"Reducing administrative centres by one half, to about 80 to 85 locations." There are roughly 160 OPP detachments. I gather, unless the information that has been given to us is not correct, that they are going to cut 80 to 85 locations. I will be anxiously awaiting what that means.

The Attorney General said, "We are maintaining funding in the Attorney General's office." That's simply not true, unless the budget's wrong, but the budget shows the Attorney General spending --

Mr Murdoch: Time for a new research assistant.

The Speaker (Hon Allan K. McLean): The member for Grey-Owen Sound, come to order.

Mr Phillips: -- $900 million, $799 million, $753 million, $637 million. In one year, the government has chosen to cut $116 million from his budget. So what we're dealing with here in this budget bill -- and I realize that many of the members don't like to hear this -- is, firstly, your job forecasts are gone. They're gone.

Secondly, the two things that you said were your job creating engines -- this is what we've heard from the government: "It is our tax cut that's a job creating engine. This is what's going to create jobs." Well, on the employer health tax, you have chosen to cut the one employer health tax element that was creating jobs in 1996. You cut the NDP's tax cut on brand-new employees. I'm surprised none of the caucus members stood up and said: "Gee, isn't that going to hurt small business, the people who are hiring these people? Isn't that going to hurt us?" Apparently not. You have nothing in the employer health tax for employers in 1996. I know you promised the small business community you were going to do it but, for whatever reason, you've delayed that. You can't afford it, I gather.

Secondly on the tax break, you have said this is your big job creator. If it is your big job creator, why the delay? Why have you delayed it until --

Hon Mr Villeneuve: It's in the Star.

Mr Phillips: The member is holding up the Ontario economy. I'm always amazed at the minister of rural destruction. The economy in Ontario last year grew by about 2.9%. I'm not sure --

Mr Baird: Rebounded in the second half.

Mr Phillips: Yes, it grew by 2.9%. Amazingly, the first full year of this government, when the Common Sense Revolution kicks in, the dreaded NDP is gone, you're showing growth dramatically less than that. I don't understand that. If things are supposed to work under you, tell me again how we could see growth under the dreaded NDP in 1994 --


Mr Phillips: No, no. I think you -- no, no. Growth in 1994 of 5.5% and in 1995 of 2.9%, and then the Conservatives get in, and suddenly what happens? Growth goes down. I don't understand this.


The Speaker: Order. Would the House come to order. I'm having a tough time to hear the member.

Mr Phillips: Thank you, Mr Speaker. Does the public not begin to shake their heads? Wait a minute. There was more growth in 1994 and 1995, when the NDP was around, than in the years with the new Conservative government? I thought good times were going to roll, but they're not. Here's the problem --


Mr Phillips: The people at home are watching the government proudly clapping with less growth in 1996 than last year, less growth by far than in 1994, and not only that, but proudly saying there are going to be 25,000 more people out of work in Ontario in 1996 than there were in 1995. So this is exactly --

Hon Mr Runciman: Who does your research?

Mr Phillips: The Solicitor General says where did I get the research? I'll tell you exactly where I got it -- from your budget. The Solicitor General wants to know where it comes from. Read your budget, and what that shows is growth going down. What is happening with you people? Why is growth going down? You had some nasty things to say about the NDP, but its growth was dramatically better than you're predicting. You are predicting more people out of work in 1996 than in 1995.

Hon Mr Villeneuve: The love-in is on.

Mr Phillips: That is my point. My point is that the Common Sense Revolution is beginning to be shown for what it is. It's a fraud.


The Speaker: This is awful, awful. Would the members please come to order. The member for Scarborough-Agincourt has the floor.

Mr Phillips: I appreciate that, Mr Speaker. This is not the news they like to hear, but it's the news. Tell me again why the public should like this revolution. Tell me again. The economy is going to expand less in 1996 and 1997 than it did in the previous two years. There are going to be more people out of work; by your own numbers, 25,000 more people out of work in 1996 than there were in 1995.

Mr Baird: Wrong, wrong.

Mr Phillips: Well, we're now seeing cuts in classroom education, we're seeing cuts in law and order, and I'm seeing cuts in health care, significant cuts in health care. These were things you said would never happen. The embarrassment of the revolution is beginning to be felt.

I understand that the Tom Longs of this world love the revolution because, once and for all, they're going to be able to impose their agenda on the people of Ontario: a dramatic cut in revenue. The 30% tax cut is first and foremost about drying up the source of revenue for the government, and if the back bench doesn't believe that -- maybe some believe it, but that's what it's all about. It's not about putting money into people's pockets to get the economy going. If it were, you wouldn't have backed off on your tax cut, if that's what it was all about. If it were, when you cancelled the NDP's employer health tax holiday, you would have substituted something else. No, no, this is all about, as I say, fundamentally changing the face of Ontario, fundamentally changing --


Mr Phillips: Yes, I know, and some of the members proudly want to do that. I am against you, just so you're clear. I think your plan is wrong. I think you're going to do incredible damage to the province of Ontario. I think the 30% tax cut is folly.

Mr Murdoch: You have no idea.

Mr Phillips: You can have your own beliefs.

I'm beginning to see the impact of it: much lower growth in 1996 than in 1995 and 1994, and this when, presumably, the full impact of the great Common Sense Revolution is taking hold; more people out of work, substantially more people out of work in 1996 than in the previous years; people beginning to feel the real cold, hard face of the Common Sense Revolution.

I'm mildly surprised that a few more of the back bench aren't saying: "Wait a minute. Are we sure that this thing is on the right track? Are we sure? If we believed in the tax cut, that it is going to create the jobs, tell me again why we're backing off on it."

I also say on the elements of the bill that deal with the Fair Share health levy --

The Speaker: Would the member find an appropriate time to wrap up.

Mr Phillips: I still have 20 minutes left and I'd be happy at this time to adjourn the debate.

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

The House adjourned at 1801.