36th Parliament, 1st Session

L075 - Wed 15 May 1996 / Mer 15 Mai 1996















































The House met at 1333.



Hon David Johnson (Chair of the Management Board of Cabinet): I have a message from the Administrator of the government signed by his own hand.

The Speaker (Hon Allan K. McLean): The Administrator of the government transmits estimates of certain sums required for the services of the province for the year ending March 31, 1997, and recommends them to the Legislative Assembly.



Ms Annamarie Castrilli (Downsview): I'm rising today to address a matter of grave concern to many people in this province: the issue of directed blood donations. The matter was first brought to my attention when one of my constituents came to see me about their son, Ryan, who is 17 months old and is facing serious heart surgery. Ryan's parents, Nat and Margaret Chiefari, would like to donate their blood for their son's operation, but have been told that it is not possible.

Ryan and his parents are here today in the gallery because they have a plea to make: that they be able to donate their safe blood for their son's operation.

Directed blood donations are not an unknown. They exist throughout the United States and closer to home. Only a few weeks ago, Justice Claude Benoit of the Quebec Superior Court ordered the Red Cross to accept the blood of the parents of Antoine Bruneau-Quinal for use in their son's operation.

I've spoken to hospital administrators, who are not opposed to directed donations but simply require Red Cross approval to proceed. Even the Red Cross is supportive, claiming that it would be willing to allow direct donations in certain situations "where the provinces support them as a matter of health policy."

The hospitals, the Red Cross and, most importantly, people like Ryan are waiting for action. The matter for Ryan is urgent, since he is scheduled for surgery on June 4. We hope the Minister of Health will act immediately to look at guidelines which will facilitate direct blood donations in Ontario.


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

The answer I got from her with respect to the study was, "First of all...discrimination is against the law in this province"; secondly, there's an equal opportunity plan that they have that presumably deals with this; thirdly, the Human Rights Commission and the Human Rights Code were to be reformed.

The Chinese Canadians who called me understand that discrimination is against the law. They know it is, but in spite of that, discrimination continues. They're worried that this equal opportunity plan means nothing more than the words "equal opportunity," that they're going to continue facing discrimination. They're afraid that because you've taken away all the tools to deal with that, they will continue to suffer the injustices in the workplace. Something needs to be done. They're keeping an eye on this minister and this government.


Mr Harry Danford (Hastings-Peterborough): I rise to inform all members of the House that we are in the middle of Royal Week, 1996. Organized by the Monarchist League of Canada, Royal Week precedes Victoria Day, on which we honour the birthday of the mother of Canadian Confederation, Queen Victoria. On that day, the Dominion of Canada celebrates the birthday of our reigning sovereign, Queen Elizabeth II, the Queen of Canada.

This year, we celebrate the 70th birthday of our Queen. We remember with heartfelt gratitude her more than 40 years of devoted service to Canada. For us, it is also important to reflect on the multicultural panorama that comprises the Queen's ancestors, including 40 different Asian, African and European backgrounds. Her Majesty also has Jewish, Muslim and Christian forebears. At the time of her 1986 visit to China, the media there asserted her descent from the T'ang dynasty of Chinese emperors. As the head of a multicultural nation like Canada, the Queen maintains us all in direct contact with the mainstream of our historic roots in a tangible way.

During Royal Week, when so much is being said about the issue of national unity, governments at all levels should reflect on the historic unifying role the crown has played in our history and can play again today if we but give our royal traditions a chance. God save the Queen.


Mr Jean-Marc Lalonde (Prescott and Russell): It is with great pleasure that I ask for your attention to the east gallery in order to present to you, Mr Speaker, and to the members two grade 5 students from my riding, Nick Trottier and Josée Goulet.

Nick et Josée fréquentent l'école St Jude de Hawkesbury. Ils ont été choisis pour venir passer deux jours à Queen's Park, non pas parce qu'ils sont les meilleurs étudiants de leur école, mais plutôt parce qu'ils sont les deux étudiants qui ont démontré le plus d'amélioration au niveau de leurs études au cours de l'année scolaire. Félicitations, Nick et Josée, pour vos efforts.

Also, I selected students from St Jude's school because it is an institution where I have witnessed some of the worst conditions. The school is in fact a renovated hockey arena with many portables. Classes are very crowded, and although enrolment is expected to increase next September, the government still refuses to give its blessing for this previously approved construction project.

Teachers and parents are shocked since the moratorium on all capital projects from the Ministry of Education and Training. We hope the ministry's position in this matter will be reviewed soon and that the construction of this much-needed school will be permitted to go ahead as planned.



Mr Howard Hampton (Rainy River): Yesterday was the start in Vancouver of the Women's March Against Poverty. "The march for bread and roses, jobs and justice" recognizes that more and more women are being driven into lives of poverty by right-wing governments which slash services women fought so long and hard to establish, services that make our communities better places to live.

Thousands of women are marching from Vancouver and, later this month, from the east coast to arrive in Ottawa on June 15. Women across this country want a chance to make their voices heard. But this march against poverty could just as appropriately have been kicked off on the steps of the Ontario Legislature. No government has attacked women with the zeal that this government has.

Just this week, we learned of cuts to policing in our communities. Cuts to police services and crime prevention at the same time this government is slashing funding for second-stage shelters and programs to prevent violence against women is more than just another broken promise; it's a direct attack on the most vulnerable in our society: women and children.

On Monday, the labour minister announced the gutting of the Employment Standards Act, which will hurt the most vulnerable and lowest-paid workers: women.

There's much more. When the Women's March Against Poverty arrives in Ontario on June 1, I look forward to welcoming the marchers to my constituency in northwestern Ontario. I encourage all women in Ontario to participate --

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


Mr Tim Hudak (Niagara South): In the past 10 years, Ontario's welfare system has changed from a safety net to a web that entraps far too many people and their families in a life of dependency and hopelessness.

In just over 200 days of this government, social assistance rolls have decreased by over 130,000 individuals.

I held a meeting last night, in fact, in Port Colborne to discuss local implementation of Ontario Works, our mandatory work-for-welfare program. It was a good session, and I plan to have another tomorrow night in Fort Erie.

Now that we are making progress finally in the fight against dependency, I would have expected that the opposition would agree that we are taking a commonsense approach to welfare reform. But judging by what I've heard from a by-election campaign in York South, this is, disappointingly, not the case. The Liberal candidate there, Gerard Kennedy, has indicated that he would actually favour raising taxes to keep welfare rates high.

The Liberals have not supported our efforts to make this essential reform to our welfare system in the past, and it's continuing in York South. Gerard Kennedy, their candidate in the York South by-election, has stated publicly that he does not support mandatory work for welfare.

This government is doing what it said it would do: We're cutting income taxes to create confidence, investment, growth and jobs for a change. We support mandatory work for welfare, and we support a tough stand on crime. Rob Davis is listening to the people of York South and has a proven record supporting these crucial issues. I look forward to welcoming him to our caucus soon.


Mr Joseph Cordiano (Lawrence): It is clear that this Conservative government has decided that fighting crime is no longer a priority of the highest order. The Tories obviously believe that maintaining law and order is no longer the exclusive purview of government. Ontarians are being told by the progeny of the Tory Family Compact sitting smugly across the aisle that fiscal probity outweighs safety and security. How else could the government explain its musing about the possibility of not prosecuting all economic crime such as break-and-enter?

Already there is clear evidence that the Harris government will break its election promise not to cut law and order. The budget offers proof that some $139 million are to be cut from policing and the justice system and $658 million in cuts to transfers to municipalities, which will force them to either increase property taxes or cut the number of police officers.

This is just the beginning, because I believe there is an even more sinister plot afoot here. I believe this government's real agenda on law and order, like in so many other areas of public administration, is to get out of providing the kind of public service we in Ontario have been developing over generations.

This Tory government will go as far as creating a two-tiered system of law enforcement and public security. If you can pay for it, you will get it. And we will begin to see the walled communities spring up everywhere in this province. It is the Americanization of Ontario. It is the end of our way of life.


Mr Peter Kormos (Welland-Thorold): Mr Speaker, you will recall me coming into this Legislature wearing a pink ribbon and explaining to you and everybody else here that this was part of the movement being led by young people, students, in the Niagara region and especially across Niagara south, the pink ribbons representing the pink slips that this government is handing out to hundreds of teachers in the Niagara region alone and to thousands of teachers across this province.

These young people, who are present in the members' gallery today, are representing students at Welland Centennial Secondary School, Port Colborne High School and Steele Street School in Port Colborne.

These young people are leaders in their school communities, leaders in their neighbourhoods, who have developed a strong consciousness of what these types of right-wing cuts mean in terms of their futures and the futures of their children. They understand that they're being confronted by a government that with an economic violence that's unprecedented is attacking quality education that has been built by their parents and grandparents over a succession of decades, with great commitment, great sacrifice and great struggle.

These young people aren't about to take it lying down. These young people have organized, they've led marches, they've attended at their boards of education. They've made it clear that they're committed to the kind of Ontario their parents and grandparents sacrificed so much to build for them. They've made it clear that they're not going to take this privatization orgy, this attack on quality education, indeed the attack on health care or the attack on security for Ontario citizens.

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


The Speaker: Order. There can be no demonstrations in the galleries, please.


Mr Bill Murdoch (Grey-Owen Sound): I rise today to talk about the clear direction this government has taken on taxes and deficits.

This government recognized the high taxes and deficits that the Liberals and NDP saddled our province with were unsustainable. The opposition record is clear: 65 tax increases, tripling the debt, deficits in the billions, and as a result less opportunity for jobs, growth and investment that Ontario deserves.

But from an all-candidates meeting on Monday night for a by-election in York South, it seems that the Liberals have not learned anything about their experience. Let me quote from the Liberal candidate, Gerard Kennedy. In his own words, when asked if he would support putting taxes back up in order to spend more money on welfare, Mr Kennedy replied, "Yes, I would." When asked if he would favour adding to the deficit, he said, "That's correct."

It is clear that Mr Kennedy's solution to the problems faced by York South is to return to high taxes and unmanageable deficits. But in the last 10 years, the city of York alone lost 29% of its manufacturing jobs and 15% of the total employment because of the tax-and-spend policies of the Liberal and NDP governments. He doesn't offer a clear vision for the future with a plan that people support; he offers a return to high tax, high spend, high deficit days which he himself has criticized.

After 10 years of mismanagement, you would think the Liberals would have learned that the reckless tax-and-spend approach simply doesn't work. It kills investment, it kills jobs, it kills growth.

There is one candidate in the election who believes that tax cuts for jobs, mandatory work for welfare --


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

Mr Bud Wildman (Algoma): On a point of order, Mr Speaker: Could you indicate to the members of the House what rule allows for instant replays of statements?




Hon William Saunderson (Minister of Economic Development, Trade and Tourism): I'm pleased to say that Ontario has entered cyberspace big time. Through the electronic information highway my ministry is telling millions of Internet users about Ontario's extraordinary investment opportunities, as well as the province's exclusive tourist attractions.

The Ministry of Economic Development, Trade and Tourism has taken the lead role in designing a one-of-a-kind Ontario-Canada Web site capable of riveting the attention of millions of Internet users.

At a special presentation of Ontario's Web site earlier today, I invited the private sector to join us in building on the Ontario-Canada site as a significant international marketing tool. I invite members of the House to help us re-establish Ontario's pre-eminent position as the greatest place to live, work, learn, visit and do business.

We have established a welcoming electronic gateway into our province for the growing millions of individuals, corporations, organizations and governments that share information daily on the Internet. Ontario's Web site is accessible, informative and interactive. That means the world will more easily learn about Ontario's advantages, its people, its economy, its dedicated, hardworking workforce, its breakthrough technological advances, its exciting achievements and its promising future.

A special interactive feature allows users to obtain direct answers to specific investment and tourism questions. A "Breaking News" page on the Web site home page carries news on cutting edge business developments in the province. With the addition of the extensive database of the Ontario investment service, Ontario's Web site becomes one of the most comprehensive sites available.

Through the "Links and Gateways" icon, the Web site user has direct access to municipalities, the federal government, tourist attractions, and public and private sector organizations. I believe that the Ontario-Canada Web site distinguishes this province as the economic powerhouse of Canada and a soon to be unsurpassed place to live, work, learn, visit, invest and do business. Indeed, Ontario is open again for business, at last.

Each member will receive materials from my ministry that outline more details about the new Ontario-Canada Web site. I invite members to pay an electronic visit to Ontario at www.Ontario-Canada.com.

Mr Dwight Duncan (Windsor-Walkerville): We welcome the government of Ontario entering cyberspace, but over the course of the last few months they seemed to be locked somewhere between virtual reality and the ozone.

I'd like to talk for a few minutes --


The Speaker (Hon Allan K. McLean): Order. I can't hear the member. Would the House please come to order.

Mr Duncan: I'd like to talk for a few moments about the things you won't see on the Web site, about the messages the government won't be giving to people, like people in York South who don't trust you with their children's education. They don't. They know you've cut $400 million from schools. Like these young people who visit us today, they know the capital requirements to make our schools competitive and the best in the world aren't there. At a time when governments around the world are investing in education, you're cutting in education. Shame on all of you.

That ought to be on the Web site. Young people need it. When the people of the United States are committing to bringing their schools on line, you've cut capital funding for two years, at least, for all our schools.

Let's talk about health care, because the people of York South don't trust you with our health care system. They are saying that at the doors. They know you've broken your commitments on health care. They don't buy the line that you're reinvesting because they know you're not. They know the $1.3 billion in cuts could force the closure of Northwestern hospital and that would be a shame in that riding, just as it will be a shame in other communities where your slash-and-burn policies won't bring about better finances, but will bring about instability in our economy, a loss of jobs and deterioration --

Mr Chris Stockwell (Etobicoke West): You know the best thing that could happen to you? Gerard Kennedy could win.

The Speaker: The member for Etobicoke West, come to order.

Mr Duncan: So the people of York South and across this province do not trust this government with their health care, and, we submit, for very good reason.

Let's talk about crime and about the ability to fight crime in this province, and let us talk for a moment about broken commitments. Let us talk and let us acknowledge that this government has cut $139 million from front-line policing. There will be fewer police officers, there will be more crime, and ultimately there will be more problems for the people of York South and virtually every other urban community in this province. You've broken your commitment, and they don't trust you on crime-fighting. They know that when push comes to shove, you can't be relied on to increase protection. They know that.

Let us talk about rent control for a minute. That is an issue of great importance in the riding of York South and indeed in most of the major urban centres in this province. One minister says one thing; yet another says another. The only thing that is clear is that you don't know what you stand for, and tenants don't trust you and they ought not to trust you.

Interjection: Put that on the Web site.

Mr Duncan: Rent control ought to be on the Web site and you ought to come clean on what your position is, because when we're in York South, the people there won't vote for your candidate, because people living in apartments know you can't be relied on to protect their interests.

What about jobs? Mr Speaker, they said 725,000 jobs in the Common Sense Revolution, and they've now acknowledged in their own document that even with relatively robust growth of the economy, they cannot possibly deliver on it. They're going to cut 10,000 at least in our own public service that will affect the people of York South. So this government isn't trusted by the people of the province of Ontario. You won't see that; you won't see that on the Web site. You won't see the fact that they cancelled the Eglinton subway to York South and to the west of Toronto and 3,000 jobs to that community. You won't see that on the Web site.

Finally, lots of people will log on to the Web site, and they're going to send back a message to this government. They're going to send back the message that you're hurting our children, you're hurting our health care system and our education, you're not creating jobs, you're putting this province at great risk. The people of York South will give you a very clear message next week that it isn't working, and we'll stand right behind them all the way.

Mr Tony Silipo (Dovercourt): When I was told that the Minister of Economic Development, Trade and Tourism was making an announcement today, I thought: "Well, that's good. We're going to hear finally how the government is going to achieve its objective of 725,000 jobs. Finally the minister is going to give us the game plan that will explain to us how they're going to do that." And I was told, "No, no, it's not about jobs."

Then I thought, "Well, let me look through the announcements that the Minister of Finance has made." And I thought, "He did say in the budget statement that the Minister of Economic Development, Trade and Tourism would be making two important announcements in the days to come, one dealing with partnerships for jobs and growth. Maybe that's what it is." I was interested to see how the minister was going to repackage some of the services and programs that he's cut into a new program. But it isn't that either.

When I was told it had something to do with telecommunications, I thought, "Well, finally he's going to tell us about the telecommunications access partnership strategy," again a repackaged and retitled initiative that we had started, but it isn't even that.

What we hear about, of course, is the establishment of the Web site. How can any of us be against the establishment of the Web site? Of course we think it's a good idea. We welcome this. We welcome this as a continuation of work that we had begun.


But I have to say to the minister that when he says that part of the information that's going to be available through this service is under the category of "invest in Ontario," it's going to show how Ontario offers the most generous research and development support in the world, I wonder, Minister, if it's also going to indicate the serious cuts that you've made to exactly those investments and those support opportunities for business.

I wonder, when you talk about the diversity of the economy and the strengths that we have within this society and within Ontario as being a good place to invest in, whether you're also going to have information on the Web site that will point out how piece after piece you are dismantling the very fabric of this society and you are tearing apart the many things and the exact things that you are claiming make this place a good place to invest in.

I'm particularly interested in one part of this, called "Breaking News," which says it's going to carry fresh new summaries from government, industry and -- get this -- opinion-makers. I have to ask myself, who are those opinion-makers going to be? Will this be used as simply another way for the Mike Harris view of the world to be expounded through the Web site, as if they don't do enough through other vehicles?

We'll be watching. Certainly we believe in the use of the Web site. We believe in the use of the technology as we've been not only suggesting but in fact implementing during our course of government. But we also say again to this government and to this minister that you cannot achieve the overall objective that you have set for yourself, which I remind the Premier and the minister they have said was the overall objective of the Common Sense Revolution, which was to create jobs, if you also continue to insist on taking an approach that says that government simply should get out of the way, that you have no role to play to work with business and to work with labour in creating those opportunities and creating that climate.

That is something that we will continue to remind this minister and this government about because this is going to be, at the end of their mandate, their one, overarching failing grade and I expect to see with all of the information that they want to put through this Web site, that at the end of the day, when Mike Harris will not have fulfilled that basic promise to Ontarians that the last piece of information we will see in this Web site is his letter of resignation.


The Speaker (Hon Allan K. McLean): I would like to deal briefly with a point of order raised by the opposition House leader as to whether a minister who makes reference to a document during a speech is required to table that document in the House.

It is my understanding that the question before us is not whether the minister has made reference to a document but whether the minister has cited or quoted from the document. I would submit to you that ministers may make reference to any document they please, as do other members in the House. However, if the minister has cited or quoted from a public document, then the minister should, as a courtesy, table that public document in the House so that all members may have access to it.

It should be mentioned here that since this House deals only with public documents in its proceedings, this ruling applies only to those documents and not to any private documents or correspondence. This does not preclude the minister from tabling such private documents, but does not obligate the minister to do so.

I would like to address another important point of order that was raised yesterday by the member for Windsor-Riverside and the member for St Catharines on the subject matter of decorum in general and, in particular, the remarks made by the Premier during question period and directed to the Leader of the Opposition.

Upon review, I would caution the Premier that the remarks made yesterday were not in keeping with the spirit of our standing orders and make it difficult to maintain order and decorum in this House.

Yesterday was not one of our better days, and while interjections are to be expected, they were particularly loud, which prevented me from hearing the answer given by the Premier. I would submit to you that had I heard the words spoken, I would have directed the Premier to reconsider his comments and I am certain that he would have complied.


The Speaker: Order. There's our problem.

I would ask for the cooperation of all members to tone down the intemperate remarks that have dominated question period over these last few weeks and to ask for their assistance in a particularly noisy House, that if they perceive any unparliamentary language to be spoken then they have a duty to bring it to the attention of the Chair so that the Chair may take the appropriate action to have the offending words withdrawn immediately. The Speaker cannot be expected to review Hansard and reflect upon the words spoken. The words have to be heard in the particular context in which they were spoken to determine if they were unparliamentary or not.

Members may wish to know that I have named more members in this House in my short term of office than any other Speaker, and this record, I must tell you, I am not proud of. However, if the members on all sides continue to abuse their privilege to speak using unparliamentary language, then I will continue to name them as a commitment on my part to bring order and decorum to this House and to restore the dignity which it deserves. Thank you.

Hon Michael D. Harris (Premier): On a point of order, Mr Speaker: I wasn't aware that -- if there was a point raised, perhaps it was when I wasn't in the Legislature yesterday, and it's just upon hearing your ruling that I realize somebody had raised the point -- I guess the member for St Catharines. So I might say that if anything that I have said out of order, or in order, or from my place, or not from my place, has contributed to any of the unruliness in the Legislature, I would respectfully apologize, and assure the Speaker that I and our caucus will do our best to meet the objectives of a kinder, gentler, quieter Legislature.



Mr Sean G. Conway (Renfrew North): My question is for the minister of justice. Last week your colleague the Minister of Finance tabled in this Legislature a budget with deep spending cuts for your department. Specifically, your government's budget calls for budget cuts to the department of the Attorney General representing $116 million worth of cuts in this fiscal year -- deep cuts of 15.4%.

How is it that you as minister of justice for Ontario intend to maintain a reasonable level of law and order in this province with these unprecedented 15.4% cuts to your budget year over year?

Hon Charles Harnick (Attorney General, minister responsible for native affairs): Once again, the opposition has read the numbers wrongly and I'd like an opportunity, which I'm now going to take, to set that straight. The number that's in the budget is $753 million as the total budget for the Ministry of the Attorney General. There has been a one-time advance to legal aid, to be paid back over three years, and because we now have accrual accounting in Ontario, that reduces the budget of the ministry to $718 million.

The rest of the money that has come out consists of legal aid payback of advance, $12 million; legal aid reduction as per MOU -- that's the agreement that the former government reached with the Law Society of Upper Canada, the administrator of the plan -- $20 million. The only other two amounts that represent the number to get down to $652 million consist of $32 million for the business plan reduction, and $2 million for other adjustments, and the net reduction to the ministry this year is $34 million. It is not $116 million. Again, the information that the opposition relies on is wrong.

Mr Conway: It is cruel accounting. During the election campaign, law and order was a sacred trust for this Harris Tory bunch. Now, we see at the end of year one that law and order and its commitment in this government is in the sale bin, at the deep discount end of this revolutionary offering.

Minister, in the city of Toronto there are 400 fewer cops on the beat today than when you took office a few short months ago. I was out yesterday in the city of York, and people there are absolutely incredulous to hear and to read that your government is planning to offer welfare recipients as police officers in certain parts of the city of Toronto. They're incredulous to hear that there's going to be policing for the rich, and everybody else is going to be abandoned to Guardian Angels.


That's what people are hearing on the streets of Toronto and across the province. Paul Walter was quoted recently as saying that his police officers here in the city of Toronto feel betrayed by what you have done as opposed to what you promised to do. Minister, how do you square your promise of last year with the reality of this year?

Hon Mr Harnick: Interesting as we go through Police Week that I was meeting with the police in my riding this morning, and the staff inspector at 32 Division indicated to me how excited he is and police officers are about the fact that the Metropolitan Toronto Police are about to hire and assign 350 new front-line officers for the Metropolitan Toronto Police Force.

To get back to the numbers that my friend is now conveniently avoiding in the second part of his question, where he changes from the administration of justice, for which I am responsible, to the issue of policing, on the $34 million or $35 million that is going to be cut this year, I want to tell you about a couple of those things.

We're going to combine the office of the accountant of the Ontario Court (General Division) with the office of the public guardian and trustee. That's a saving, right off the bat, in administrative terms, of $9 million. We're going to get rid of a whole middle layer of bureaucracy created when the Liberals were the government. They created a whole layer of regional bureaucracy. We're going to dismantle that and we're going to put services back on the front line. That's another saving, in administrative terms, of $6 million.

If this party is concerned about spending, they would be applauding these ventures, because we are going to do better with the amount of money we're spending, and we have an administrative saving that we are going to be able to make that is responsible to the taxpayers of this province.

Mr Conway: Out in the city of York yesterday, people were keenly aware that you, Minister, you and your pal Mel Lastman got the subway; they got screwed. They know you're going to get the cops and they're going to get the Guardian Angels.


The Speaker (Hon Allan K. McLean): Order. Will the member come to order. Would the member please withdraw the unparliamentary language.

Mr Conway: I'm sorry, Mr Speaker. If that offended, I withdraw. But on the streets of York yesterday, they know that you're going to get the cops and they're going to get Guardian Angels. They're going to get welfare recipients patrolling their neighbourhoods. People in York and elsewhere in Ontario are beginning to understand that the Harris revolution is really going to be radical, that if you're rich, you're going to get policing; everybody else is going to get a buy-a-cop or rent-a-cop. You're going to be faced with a privatization of much of law and order. Isn't that your real agenda, Minister? Isn't that how you're going to meet the deep spending cuts imposed in your colleague's budget tabled last week?

Hon Mr Harnick: The member for Renfrew North says it so well, but when we listen to the words, I have to tell you, and I listened to the premise of that whole question, it's utter hogwash nonsense. He just says it so well that it has this air of a great story. The reality is that from the point of view of the Ministry of the Attorney General there will be administrative cuts and we will make better use of the money that exists in the system, much better use of the money than has ever been made before.

This is the first time ever that the Ministry of the Attorney General, a ministry that spends $700 million, has ever had a plan defining what their core functions are, what it is we do and how we spend our money, and I commit to you that there will not be a reduction of services from the Ministry of the Attorney General to the people of Ontario.

Mr Conway: No wonder Roy McMurtry and Charlie Dubin are as concerned as they are. You can run, Minister, but you can't hide from the bloody cuts imposed by this Harris revolutionary budget.


Mr Sean G. Conway (Renfrew North): A second question to the Minister of Environment and Energy: In less than 48 hours the first long weekend of the summer season begins. Millions of Ontarians are going to be travelling across this province and millions of Ontarians are going to be pulling up to gasoline pumps that show 61.9 cents a litre for regular unleaded in most of southern Ontario. My colleague from Kenora tells me that yesterday some of the other gasoline brands were selling for nearly 80 cents a litre in Red Lake.

Minister, my question to you on behalf of the motoring public in Ontario is, what are you going to do, as Minister of Energy, to protect the travelling public in this province from these too-high gas prices?

Hon Brenda Elliott (Minister of Environment and Energy): Since this is a matter that concerns the consumers of the province, I defer the question to the Minister of Consumer and Commercial Relations.

Hon Norman W. Sterling (Minister of Consumer and Commercial Relations): As you know, I have been involved in this issue for some period of time. Consumers in this province are indeed upset with the gasoline prices, and they're upset with their federal government, which hasn't done anything about it.

Mr Conway: As the long weekend approaches and as millions of people across Ontario, including thousands of good people in Carleton county, take to the roads, those consumers want to know, Minister --

Hon Noble Villeneuve (Minister of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs, minister responsible for francophone affairs): Where is John Manley when we need him?


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

Mr Conway: The consumers of Ontario, in Carleton county and elsewhere, want to know, as they face these too-high gas prices, what little Normie Sterling is doing to earn his $100,000. They want to know that. They want to know what you're doing to earn your ministerial salary of $110,000 a year. They would want me to ask you, Minister, as the consumer protection minister in this province, what are you going to do to earn your $100,000 salary to protect the consuming public of Ontario from this kind of price fixing and this kind of price gouging?

Hon Mr Sterling: I may be small in size, but at any rate I think myself and the other members of this Legislature who are small in stature have taken their positions -- I'm looking at the former Treasurer -- and we have been as concerned about the problems as some of the larger members of this Legislature.

Notwithstanding those comments and the hyperbole this member seems to incite in every question that he asks, about four weeks ago, when I was very alarmed at the rising prices with regard to gas prices for consumers across this province, and seeing that the federal government was doing nothing, I took time to communicate with John Manley, the Minister of Industry, the minister of Canada who is responsible for ensuring that gasoline companies, oil companies, are operating within the terms of law and having a competitive atmosphere with regard to gasoline prices. I urged him to do something. I am thankful he took my advice and set up an inquiry to look into this matter.

Mr Conway: In last week's budget, the Minister of Finance went after the banks doing business in this province, to his credit. If you're not as useless and as redundant as that answer would suggest, and if you and your colleagues are serious about tackling the special interests, will you call the oil company presidents doing business in this province and tell them that the current gas prices in Ontario are too high, that they're injecting too much inflation into an economy that cannot stand it? Here are the phone numbers. Will you commit today, before the weekend arrives in 48 hours' time, to call these oil company executives and tell them, on behalf of Ontario consumers, these prices are too high and you want some action taken to bring these prices down?

Hon Mr Sterling: I would be more than glad to call these presidents, but I'm also going to fax this up to the minister who's responsible for this, John Manley, and ensure that he calls each of these particular presidents, because I know only one of them is located in the province of Ontario.



Mr David Christopherson (Hamilton Centre): My question is to the Minister of Labour. Last week you met with Ontario's top labour leaders and, as I understand, at that meeting you were discussing with them your intent for a full review of the Employment Standards Act, that this was going to take about a year and that you were planning to have full consultation during that review. You then also said that you would be tabling on Monday legislative changes to the Employment Standards Act that amounted to housekeeping and were minor in nature. We know, of course, that when that document was tabled here on Monday it contained changes that could have far-reaching implications for both union and non-union workers in this province. Your integrity is being brought into question here. Will you today at least admit that this piece of legislation is much more than just housekeeping?

Hon Elizabeth Witmer (Minister of Labour): I would like to remind you that I did indicate there would be a complete review of the Employment Standards Act. The changes we have introduced are changes which I would again indicate to you are minor in nature. The minimum standards as they presently exist today continue to exist with the changes we have made.

Mr Bud Wildman (Algoma): Except they don't necessarily apply.

Hon Mrs Witmer: They all apply. The same standards that applied before the introduction of the legislation apply today. It's only when your colleague starts to speak to the media that there is a distortion of some of the facts.

The Speaker (Hon Allan K. McLean): Order. I would appreciate if the ministers and the people asking the questions would direct your answers and questions through the Chair.

Mr Christopherson: Thank you, Mr Speaker. Obviously, I'm extremely disappointed, and I would think the government benches ought to be, that the best the minister can offer up is a character assassination when we're dealing with significant changes to the rights that workers have in this province and that you're planning to take away.

The changes are not minor, and it's not just the opposition and the labour movement that are saying so. In today's Globe and Mail, Professor Kumar from Queen's University in Kingston, Ontario, is quoted as saying the new law "will dilute working standards across the board in the province of Ontario."

How can you stand in your place and say that these are minor in nature when we know, both from experience and from professionals in the field, that these changes can have far-reaching implications? It's not just the changes that are in question here; it's your integrity. You are trying to ram another piece of legislation through by saying it's not a big deal. You did that with Bill 7. You did that with the omnibus Bill 26. I ask you again, will you admit that these are more than housekeeping? Come clean.

Hon Mrs Witmer: To the member opposite -- and I notice now he's taken a line from the Liberal opposition critic -- I would just like to remind you that we are very committed to the protection of the most vulnerable workers in this province and this piece of legislation makes absolutely no change to the standards, nor does it make any change as to who is or is not covered by the legislation.

I again indicate to you that what this does is remove some of the ambiguity. It is going to ensure there is greater self-reliance in the workplace. There will be more responsibility for the employees and the employers to settle some of their own problems and it will allow the ministry to do the job which it is to do, and that is to set, educate and enforce the act.

Mr Christopherson: Minister, you know that doesn't wash with the facts. The reality is that you have to find $2.5 million out of the employment standards area of your ministry to pay for your contribution to the tax cut. That's what this is all about and the workers in Ontario are being forced, through your legislation, to pay that price.

You have an opportunity today -- today you have a chance -- to keep as much integrity as you have intact by acknowledging that these are serious and far-reaching changes to the way labour is performed in this province. I ask you very directly, will you today commit to either withdraw this bill and make it part of your larger consultation -- which indeed begs the question why you are rushing into this. Why not let it be part of that broader consultation, that larger review? Will you withdraw that bill today, or at the very least, will you commit to province-wide public hearings and stop pretending that this is only a minor matter and admit and acknowledge you're taking away rights from union and non-union workers?

Hon Mrs Witmer: I just want to again indicate to the member opposite that the bill introduced on Monday does not -- does not -- take away any of the standards, the minimum standards, that presently apply, nor does it do anything different as far as who the act applies to is concerned.

However, I will tell you that I have been in consultation with the labour leaders. We have been discussing the issue of hearings. I indicated to them last night when we spoke that, as we had always said we would do, we are quite prepared to take a look at public hearings and we will then determine how those public hearings will be handled.

Mr Christopherson: And they said what you offered wasn't enough. Tell the whole story.

Hon Mrs Witmer: I will tell you they were very happy with my response.


Mr Peter Kormos (Welland-Thorold): I have a question to the Solicitor General. The Solicitor General knows that this government's tax break for the rich has led to --

The Speaker (Hon Allan K. McLean): Who's your question to? I can't hear you.

Mr Kormos: The Solicitor General. That's three times, Speaker.

The Solicitor General knows that this government's savage cuts as a result of its passion to give a tax break to the richest in this province has reduced the capacity of police services boards to maintain anything near appropriate levels of policing. In fact, the Kingston Police Services Board has had to reduce its budget to the tune of $1.2 million as a result of this government's cuts. Because of that cut the police in Kingston have been forced to implement their traffic offender program in a somewhat feckless effort to try to generate revenue.

What's going to happen is that speeders are going to be charged 55 bucks and offered a brief driving course in lieu of being appropriately charged and being required to pay the fines that would be due under the Provincial Offences Act and the Highway Traffic Act. This money goes directly to the police budget rather than to provincial coffers. The irony is such that the province is going to lose more than half a million dollars in revenue from that alone. As a result of these cuts, Kingston police are being forced to chase money rather than criminals. Quite frankly, the people in Kingston and across this province being faced with similar scenarios find that absurd. This government is cutting back on its transfer payments to police services boards because of a tax cut for the rich and now we've got police services boards --

The Speaker: Would the member put his question, please. You've been two minutes so far. Put your question.

Mr Kormos: It was only a minute and a half, when you consider the interruptions.


Now we've got a scenario wherein police are being forced to expend their energies raising revenues rather than engaging in the policing that they are committed to. How can the Solicitor General justify that, in view of this government's promise to maintain funding for policing?

Hon Bob Runciman (Solicitor General and Minister of Correctional Services): I think virtually every police officer across this province would agree that there are efficiencies to be achieved in the operations of police services in Ontario. Most of them are moving in these areas. I speak on a fairly regular basis with the chief in the Kingston area and he certainly is not expressing the same concerns. He realizes there are challenges out there but, as I said, most of the police services are meeting those challenges in a very effective way.

In Cornwall they're taking a look at the high cost of vehicle maintenance, officers attending minor complaints, the reduction of officers in court; in Guelph they're looking at alternative means for service delivery; Hamilton-Wentworth is developing a false alarms policy, a cost recovery initiative; in Metro they have a list as long as my arm -- provide prosecutors and scheduling clerks with officer availability dates for minor traffic and accident court dates; in Nepean they're looking at clothing allowances, excessive court time. There's a whole range of areas where police agree with this government that savings can be achieved without impacting in a negative way in any way, shape or form on front-line policing.

Our commitment as a party and as a government is to enhance front-line policing and we are moving in that direction. We cannot accomplish everything in 10 months, given the mess we were left with on our doorstep, but we are moving quickly and we will have, as I've said in this House on a number of occasions, a much more effective and efficient police service in this province as we enter into the next century.

Mr Kormos: The Solicitor General then should talk to Sault Police Chief Bob McEwen, who says: "There's a danger with police forces receiving a commission on the number of charges they lay. I never want to see policing in Ontario like towns in the US where there are revenue-driven speed traps." That's exactly, you see, what's going to be happening in Kingston.

The Solicitor General better pay heed to what the Metro Toronto Police Services Board says in its report dated May 6, 1996. The Metro Toronto Police Services Board is concerned that pressure may be placed on police personnel to spend more of their time on services that provide limited revenue than focusing on core police duties.

The Solicitor General talks a big game when it comes to supporting police, but the fact is that he and his government haven't delivered. They've betrayed the police and the citizenry of this province. How can the Solicitor General justify what at the end of the day are clear cuts in police budgeting, clear reductions in police person-power? How can he justify that in view of the promises he and his leader made during the course of their election campaign?

Hon Mr Runciman: I think the member is talking to a very small number of police officers. I'm certainly not getting that feedback and colleagues on the government side of the House are not getting that kind of feedback from senior officers in policing or from rank-and-file officers.

Certainly there are concerns with respect to how we deal with the challenges, and that is one of the reasons, perhaps the most significant reason, behind our efforts in terms of the summit that's coming up in two to three weeks' time. We have to look at the way police are structured in this province; we have to look at their roles and responsibilities.

We all realize that this sort of thing has not been done. The previous three governments declined to get involved in a significant review. This has not been undertaken in the past quarter of a century, a significant, in-depth, intensive review of policing structure, roles, responsibilities, financing, in the province of Ontario. We're going to address these and, as I said, I feel very confident about the future for police officers in this province in terms of keeping our commitment as a party and as a government towards enhancing public safety.

Mr Kormos: The problem is that police officers across this province, whether they're in Niagara region, whether they're in Sault Ste Marie, whether they're in Kingston, whether they're here in Metro Toronto, don't share this Solicitor General's confidence. Police officers across Ontario are frightened for their welfare and for the welfare of honest citizenry. This government's agenda is a blank cheque for scofflaws and criminals, and it victimizes law-abiding citizens and police officers.

This Solicitor General and his government's policies of defunding policing are going to put police officers and the public at risk. Will this Solicitor General accept responsibility for the police officers who are going to be injured and maimed as a result of underpolicing and for the citizens of this province who are going to be victimized because this government refuses to adequately fund front-line policing?

Hon Mr Runciman: I think it's not a surprise to anyone that this member has a lot of gall. He certainly has a lot of gall to suggest what's going to happen with respect to police officers and public commitments. We simply have to look at the relationship that existed between the NDP government and police officers in this province. There has never been such a dismal relationship.

Mr David S. Cooke (Windsor-Riverside): You made the promise.

The Speaker: Order.

Hon Mr Runciman: We are indeed keeping the promise we made during the election campaign and commitments we made as an opposition party. We have significantly revamped the parole board. We've closed loopholes in the way prisoners were treated in terms of early release.


The Speaker: Order. The members for Grey-Owen Sound, Etobicoke West and Welland-Thorold, come to order, please. It's awful. Solicitor General, wrap up your answer.

Hon Mr Runciman: We just announced a commitment of $2.1 million to expand the DNA lab to assist police across this province in solving crimes much more easily and quickly. We have moved on another promise, strict discipline, to deal with young offenders in a much more effective manner than has been the case in the past. We've just enhanced crime prevention initiatives in communities across this province by $2.24 million. Finally, we're taking a look at policing, its structure, the financing, the roles and responsibilities and governance -- the first significant, comprehensive review in a quarter of a century.

The Speaker: New question, the member for Timiskaming.

Mr David Ramsay (Timiskaming): I'd like to continue this line of questioning with the Solicitor General, because two days ago I asked the Solicitor General about his cash-and-carry cops. It really makes this question necessary. It's because of his cuts in police funding that the cops have to be into merchandising.

Your police review report that you quoted just now says, "Escalating costs of police services, compounded with the decreasing financial support by government, are forcing many police services to seek alternative sources to secure funding." I continue, "Without adequate financial support, many police services may be forced to cut key law enforcement and crime prevention programs." This is the minister's own report that admits that this government has cut police funding. His budget of last week also shows us that he has cut police funding.

In its campaign, this government said that it would guarantee the funding of policing and that it also would reinvest into policing any savings it found. Does this guarantee mean that if the police can't hustle enough merchandise, you will put the money back, or is this just another broken campaign promise?

Hon Mr Runciman: I indicated in an earlier answer that this paper was prepared with the involvement of various stakeholders in the police community right across this province. This is not a product solely of the Ministry of the Solicitor General and the policing services division; this has the input of a wide range of people across the province. They approached this on the basis that although some of these suggestions may not be appropriate in the long run, they certainly merited discussion. That's what this paper was intended to do: provoke discussion. It is a discussion paper. We did not want to have any sacred cows with respect to any particular issue being ruled out in terms of discussion. To suggest that anything that's mentioned in there is etched in stone is not the case.

I've suggested that some of the ideas this member and others have put forward in terms of the kinds of advertising that might be initiated are simply not in the cards, unlike the federal government, which allowed the RCMP to sign a deal with Disney.


Mr Ramsay: This report has your seal on it and has your ministry name on it, so it's a government of Ontario document. It admits that there's been a shortfall of government funding in policing.

Your paper also states that there's a greater role to be played by the private security industry in this province "in areas such as personal security, property protection and the investigation of specific types of crime." I know this government wants to return Ontario to the so-called good old days, but does this mean the return of maybe the Pinkerton police squad that used to beat up on workers in this province? Or is this also going to mean a continuation of what we're seeing now, that only the fat cats in this province are going to get the criminal investigations they want?

You've put policing in this province on the edge of a crisis. When are you going to live up to the promise you made in the campaign last year?

Hon Mr Runciman: I think this is more political rhetoric designed for a by-election campaign that's taking place in York South at the moment rather than valid concern with respect to policing in this province.

I recall when that member's party was in power and a couple of Metro police officers --


Hon Mr Runciman: Mr Speaker, I'm trying to address this through you -- a couple of members of the police service complained about what they construed to be a revolving door court system where they were spending thousands of dollars and hours on trying to get drug dealers into the court system and then they were out on the street the next day. Do you know what the response of the Liberal government of the day was? They threatened those police officers that, if they once again criticized what was happening out there on the streets, they would face action under the Police Services Act. That's the kind of support the police had under a Liberal government.

The member gets up and suggests that all of a sudden they're concerned. Well, I don't buy it and I don't think the people of York South are going to buy it, or the people of the province of Ontario.


Ms Marilyn Churley (Riverdale): My question is for the Minister of Environment and Energy. I would like to ask the minister if she could tell this House what the difference is between cars in British Columbia and cars in Ontario.

Hon Brenda Elliott (Minister of Environment and Energy): I'm sure there are a number of different answers to my colleague's question. A different place might be one of the responses.

Ms Churley: I'm referring to a quotation from the minister at a conference where she tried to explain that a mandatory vehicle emissions program is not necessary in Ontario because the longevity of a car's life is different in British Columbia than in Ontario.

As you know, the summer is coming and with summer comes a deadly brown haze of pollution, commonly known as smog, which literally kills people. It causes very serious health problems. The Lung Association, Pollution Probe and other health and environmental groups across Ontario have called on you and your government to take action.

You have recently hinted that mandatory vehicle testing is not needed in Ontario and is not consistent with the philosophy of the Conservative government. Why don't you stand up to your Premier and tell him that mandatory vehicle testing is absolutely necessary to protect human health in Ontario?

Hon Mrs Elliott: First, to correct misinformation, what I was saying was that the life of vehicles in British Columbia is different from that in Ontario, based on the climate, first of all.

Secondly, we're very aware that Ontario has a serious smog problem and we are concerned about it. I have mentioned in the House on numerous occasions that we are cooperating with our federal counterpart with regard to new fuel formulations and low-emission vehicles. We have extended the pilot program for the voluntary air program and we are continuing to work to determine the best way to deal with a very large issue in the province of Ontario, mandatory vehicle testing being one of those ideas that we are seriously exploring.


Mr Derwyn Shea (High Park-Swansea): My question is for the Minister of Finance. Minister, after 10 years of Liberal and NDP governments the economy was trashed, and we know that the people elected this government to cut taxes and to reduce spending --


The Speaker (Hon Allan K. McLean): Order. I can't hear the member.

Mr Shea: -- so that we can encourage jobs and growth and investment.

I was astonished this week to hear that the potential next leader of the Liberal Party, a potential candidate in York South, Gerard Kennedy, was in fact musing aloud and rewriting the red book and suggesting that he would support the raising of taxes and increasing the deficit so we could spend more on welfare.

You would think that if they were going to parachute a candidate into York South, they would at least make sure he understood the difficulties that York South has faced in the past. For example, it's lost in the last 10 years 29% of its manufacturing base and 15% of its employment base and so forth.

The Speaker: Order. Put your question, please.

Mr Shea: My question to the Minister of Finance is this: Minister, if the government has finally taken the steps to encourage jobs and growth and investment in Ontario, as we said we would do, what would be the impact if we took Gerard Kennedy's advice and raised taxes and the deficit?

Hon Ernie L. Eves (Deputy Premier, Minister of Finance and Government House Leader): We have seen what policies of previous administrations, raising taxation levels some 65 times in the past decade alone, 11 personal income tax increases as well, have done to the Ontario economy.

When we assumed office in June of last year, the deficit for that fiscal year just past would have been, on an accrual basis, $11.2 billion. We were spending almost $9 billion a year in interest payments alone. The province of Ontario was spending $1 million more an hour than it took in in revenue. Clearly that is unsustainable over any length of time.

If we had continued with the tax-and-spend policies of the previous two administrations, if we had continued with those policies, by the year 2000 we would have been spending about $20 billion a year in interest payments alone. It doesn't take any genius to figure out that spending $20 billion in interest payments out of total program spending of $42 billion would do exactly the opposite to what Mr Kennedy wants to do. It would create more people on social assistance, but we wouldn't have the money to pay them. We wouldn't have the money to pay for health care, classroom education, community safety and other things that the people of Ontario value the most.

Mr Shea: I take it from the answer of the finance minister that the old adage is indeed true. There are two certainties in life if you are to vote for the Liberal in York South: death and taxes. Those are two things that you can count on.

In spite of his public musings and the rewriting of the red book, I ask the finance minister one more time, if we were to do as that Liberal candidate in York South were to suggest, to raise taxes and to increase the deficit, would Ontario be able to --


The Speaker: Order. Minister.

Hon Mr Eves: The honourable member will know that in June of last year there were fewer people working in the province of Ontario than there were in 1989. There had not been one single new net job created in the province of Ontario in the preceding six years, and the working men and women of this province who pay taxes were taking home less money in real terms than they were in 1985.

We firmly believe that allowing and enabling five million hardworking, taxpaying Ontarians to spend more of their money as they see fit will spend it far more effectively and far more wisely, creating hundreds of thousands more jobs in the province of Ontario, than any government could ever dream of doing.



Mr James J. Bradley (St Catharines): I'm going to ask a question to the Treasurer that I would have thought the member for High Park-Swansea would have asked instead of one bashing the poor people of this province. My question is about video lottery terminals being introduced in this province, something I would have thought would have concerned the member for High Park-Swansea.

Those who are most familiar with the issue of gambling, and particularly video gambling, say the following: It is "one of the most addictive forms of gambling -- addictive because it is fast, addictive because it provides instant gratification, addictive because it is paced for the modern way of thinking of younger people, of computerized gambling instead of dealing cards or throwing dice."

In Nova Scotia, they have withdrawn 2,500 of these machines. In Alberta, they are pulling back. They are limiting them now to 6,000 machines, which is 6,000 too many, but at least they are pulling them back.

Minister, why would you embark upon such a slippery and unwise slope when so many are so uneasy about the introduction of video gambling machines and are beginning to pull back from this initiative? Is the damage done to the most vulnerable people in our society really worth the easy money to fill provincial coffers?

Hon Ernie L. Eves (Deputy Premier, Minister of Finance and Government House Leader): The honourable member will know that there are, by OPP estimates, anywhere between 15,000 and 20,000 illegal video lottery terminals operating in the province of Ontario today. I might add that they have been there for several years now without previous administrations taking any initiatives whatsoever to crack down on their operation.

We are introducing video lottery terminals in a very controlled and carefully monitored setting. They will be monitored by the Ontario Lottery Corp and by the Gaming Control Commission of the province of Ontario. They will be introduced, as the member well knows, only into racetracks and permanent charity event sites in the province of Ontario until such time as those two bodies are satisfied that the network can be expanded into the hospitality industry. The honourable member for St Catharines knows all of these facts.

We also made several commitments in the budgetary document that he's well aware of that when that network is expanded, there will be fewer terminals per capita than any one of the other eight jurisdictions in Canada that now have them, and he knows full well that the province of British Columbia is the only other province that does not have a video lottery terminal network in existence.

Mr Bradley: That is exactly why I would be hoping the province of Ontario would show leadership in this field and avoid this easy money for the government.

You'd be interested that Professor Garry Smith of the University of Alberta, who has done extensive studies of this kind of gambling, says he would not legalize video slots because they're the most dangerous form of gambling out there.

Wayne Yorke, a Nova Scotia psychologist who again studied this very extensively, has written that electronic gambling may be a calamity for the next generation. The video lottery terminals that are being played all over the country are, he says, "an entrapment in an illusionary world of almost virtual reality wherein everything is a game and every game may be won or lost. The game and the play have a price. Are we," as a society, "willing to pay the price?"

Minister, upon reflection, and knowing your strong views in the past on this issue, are you as a man of conscience and concern prepared to pay that very heavy price?

Hon Mr Eves: The honourable member will also know that in the budgetary document we contained a reference to dedicating 2% of the revenue, and that number --

Mr Bradley: Conscience money. That is just conscience money.

Hon Mr Eves: No, I say with all sincerity to the member for St Catharines. I know there are several members of his party sitting in the House today who attended the Bill 8 hearings across the province of Ontario. We had the gambling and addiction foundation come before the committee. They indicated that anywhere from 1.5% to 2.5% of the populace that is subjected or has the opportunity to embark upon gaming of any kind becomes addicted, and that is exactly why we chose the number 2%.

He will also know that other associations, such as the compulsive gambling association, understand that we are at least taking an initiative and providing funding in terms of millions of dollars to deal with this problem, which I might say again the two previous administrations did not do.

I might also indicate from talking to the member for Windsor-Riverside that I understand that two caucus colleagues of yours, your members from Windsor-Sandwich and Windsor-Walkerville, are both solidly on record as being in favour of video lottery terminals in the province of Ontario.


Mr Floyd Laughren (Nickel Belt): I have a question for the Minister of Health. Today the executive director and the chair of the Manitoulin-Sudbury District Health Council appeared before the government agencies committee to talk about the future of their district health council, and by implication other district health councils in the province as well.

The appointments process to health councils was discussed at length and the chair of the Manitoulin-Sudbury District Health Council expressed some very grave concerns about the way you are undermining the appointments process in this province. I have some quotes from Mr Ferguson.

One is: "There have been eight recent appointments to our council. None of these people were recruited or recommended by the council." Secondly, he says, and I hope you'll pay attention to this comment, "The neutral and objective planning and advisory role of the district health councils is at risk. The continuation of appointments in a political vein with little regard to the traditional recruitment process followed until recently by DHCs and ministers of health will mean an end to the traditional role of district health councils and convert them to nothing but political instruments of the government."

Minister, when are you going to stop subverting the appointment process that was followed by previous Tory governments, Liberal government and New Democratic government and bring some integrity back into this process?

Hon Jim Wilson (Minister of Health): The facts speak for themselves. Just slightly over 80% of the appointments recommended by district health councils themselves have been accepted by me as minister and those people have been appointed.

Mr Laughren: A completely ridiculous answer. Come to Sudbury where the last eight appointments didn't even go through the district health council, they came directly from you, directly from your office. That is inappropriate. They didn't even apply to the ads that were placed in the paper when vacancies arose. So don't tell me that you have a legitimate process with 80% of the appointments.

In Sudbury, your process is completely and absolutely illegitimate and you are undermining the health council that's worked extremely hard on the restructuring of hospitals in the community. You really have to wonder what's behind this.

The parliamentary assistant reviewing agencies, boards and commissions, Mr Wood, said in the committee today that if the minister rejects an adviser's recommendation, doesn't it make sense to change the people that give you those recommendations? What this is all about is your putting people on the district health council who reflect your views, your views only, and not the views of the community they're supposed to be representing. You cannot continue to do this, to volunteer people in communities. This isn't the only community.

The Association of District Health Councils said a couple of weeks ago and passed a resolution stating that at least eight district health councils were stacked with parachuted Tory appointments. So you're not just undermining the Sudbury district health council; you're undermining them all across this province. How do you expect the system to work when you put your handpicked political appointees on these health councils?

Mr Bill Murdoch (Grey-Owen Sound): And you didn't do that? Oh boy, give me a break.

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

Hon Mr Wilson: According to the law of this province, district health councils are advisory boards to the Minister of Health and the Minister of Health has full prerogative to appoint people directly to health councils.


Secondly, I will make public the process that the NDP had, where they had 15 categories, including the colour of your skin, your sexual orientation, your profession, and a full pile of other quotas. Your process was immoral, wrong, wrong, wrong, and we're not following that process.

Mr Laughren: On a point of privilege, Mr Speaker: Are you going to allow the Minister of Health to accuse us of having an immoral process of appointments? I would remind you, Mr Speaker, that is completely out of order and unparliamentary --


Mr Laughren: Mr Speaker, just if I could finish my point of privilege.


The Speaker: Order, order. I was going to get up, but I really wish the minister would reconsider and withdraw what he had said. Minister?

Hon Mr Wilson: No, Mr Speaker. The briefing notes, when I first came in, had the individual's name and below each of them you had to check off a number of -- with respect to the comment of immorality --


The Speaker: Order. I'm referring to the word "immoral." Would you withdraw the word "immoral"?

Hon Mr Wilson: I will withdraw it, Mr Speaker, but it is my opinion of your process.


Mr Bill Grimmett (Muskoka-Georgian Bay): My question is for the Attorney General --


The Speaker (Hon Allan K. McLean): Order. I just can't believe what I'm seeing today. It's unbelievable. All sides of the House have a responsibility to try and maintain order, and I'm asking that.


The Speaker: Order. Will the member take his seat. The member for Muskoka-Georgian Bay has the floor.

Mr Chris Stockwell (Etobicoke West): On a point of order, Mr Speaker: The member for Cochrane South made disparaging remarks about this caucus with respect to white sheets and hoods. I want it withdrawn.

The Speaker: The member for Cochrane South.

Mr Gilles Bisson (Cochrane South): I withdraw it.

The Speaker: Thank you. The member for Muskoka-Georgian Bay.

Mr Grimmett: My question is for the Attorney General. Spring has finally come to my riding of Muskoka-Georgian Bay. The grass is turning green and the ice is out of the lakes. This weekend thousands of recreational boaters will be returning to the lakes and rivers in my riding. The issue of recreational boating safety will be at the forefront in the minds of many people in my riding.

In recent years, all levels of government have worked with local groups and local individuals to try to improve boating safety. I'm encouraged to find that the federal government currently has legislation before it which is meant to improve the ticketing system for boating offences. I wonder, Minister, with the holiday weekend approaching, can you update the people of Muskoka-Georgian Bay on how this ticketing system is coming along and when it will be up and running?

Hon Charles Harnick (Attorney General, minister responsible for native affairs): Prosecutions under the Canada Shipping Act are handled by the federal government and they look after boat offences. The federal enabling legislation to permit this to be done by a ticketing scheme rather than by full-scale prosecutions is being worked on by the federal government and I'm told by the federal Attorney General, Mr Rock, that they hope to have in place by the end of June the proclamation of the bill and the regulations pertaining to it. Thereafter, the province of Ontario will be in a position to do its own companion regulations so that we can become involved as prosecutors for this system and we will then be able to bring our ticketing scheme into line with theirs.

I hope that if they have their work done by the end of June and the bill proclaimed and the regulations available, we will then be able to get our scheme up and running by August 1. It can't be done any faster. We are asking the federal government to move as quickly as they can and they've indicated they will be making those changes and putting us in a position to do the same.

Mr Grimmett: What will this new ticketing system do to improve the safety on our waterways?

Hon Mr Harnick: Right now, if there is an offence laid pursuant to the Canada Shipping Act, hours and hours of prosecution time are taken which take police officers out of front-line duties to be involved in preparations of these prosecutions. By going into this ticketing scheme that the federal government is setting up, it means that a ticket can be given, a fine can be paid and police officers don't have to be taken off the waterways. One of the reasons we want this scheme to go as quickly as we possibly can is to get police officers on our waterways to enforce the boating safety regulations to make the boating season the safest boating season we've ever had.

Fortunately, the federal government is cooperating. They're working very hard, and I hope they will have their work done. We are now doing the work that we have to do in advance. It's already under way, and I look forward to the ticketing scheme that the federal government is going to provide us with.


Mr Alvin Curling (Scarborough North): My question is to the Minister of Citizenship, Culture and Recreation. Madam Minister, you are aware of the Underground Railroad and the significant role it has played in the rich history of this great country. One such area is Holland township where many blacks had settled, raised families and contributed to the economic wellbeing of the region.

In 1851, it was recorded in historical documents that the name Negro Creek Road was established in that vicinity. It has recently come to my attention that this road has been renamed Moogie Road. Could you, Minister, please bring me up to date on why the name change came about?

There are concerns by the Ontario Historical Society, Oro-Medonte history committee, the Ontario Black History Society, just to name a few. Could you assure me that the black historical heritage of Negro Creek Road and other such landmarks is protected for future generations and that the changes are not done to further any private economic ventures or individuals with ulterior motives?

Hon Marilyn Mushinski (Minister of Citizenship, Culture and Recreation): I indeed concur with what the honourable member for Scarborough North has said with respect to the tremendous contribution to this province of the black community and most certainly I concur absolutely with what he has suggested about its contribution to our heritage.

My understanding of that particular change is that it was by the municipal council of the area. My further understanding is that that particular issue is a matter that is presently before the Ontario Human Rights Commission and, given that that is an arm's-length agency of my ministry, I'm not in a position to comment on it.



Mr Tony Ruprecht (Parkdale): I keep getting petitions about the Dellcrest Children's Centre in Parkdale and I have another one signed by a number of people and addressed to us as Legislative Assembly members. It reads:

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

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

"Whereas the Ministry of Correctional Services and the Dellcrest Children's Centre have decided not to hold open discussions with our community prior to the purchase of this house for the purpose of an open custody residence; 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 oversaturated with health and social services for disadvantaged, troubled and disenfranchised people;

"We, the undersigned local residents and business owners, urge the Ministry of the Solicitor General and Correctional Services to suspend plans to relocate the open custody residence for troubled children and 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."



Mr Peter Kormos (Welland-Thorold): I've got a petition addressed to the Legislative Assembly of Ontario.

"I, Jamie Treschak, of Centennial Secondary School, have written this petition so that all who share the same view as I do can express their support.

"I feel that the recent cuts to our teaching staff are too large. Nine teachers have lost their jobs because they have less than five years' seniority. That's not right. These teachers run clubs, stage plays, coach teams and are responsible for many other extracurricular activities. Eliminating these teachers means eliminating these important activities. These are not only teachers to us; they are also our friends. Teachers teach students, not just subjects.

"Many teachers have enlightened the lives of all of the students they have taught. They have been laid off, along with others. They weren't fired because of their inability to do the job, but because they had lowest seniority and because of the cuts.

"Many other students across this board and other boards have not only lost some of our best teachers, but also some of our best friends and some of our most important extracurricular activities. This is the heart of our school. These schools now have larger classes, more failures and less time left for students.

"In closing, please save these teachers. Teaching methods are like computers: Every so often, they should be upgraded, and teachers are important to our education."

That's signed by a whole number of people: Jamie Treschak, Nicky Powell, Jennifer Gaboury, Julia Timms, Jenn Potten and literally hundreds of others.


Mrs Barbara Fisher (Bruce): I have a petition here from the riding of Bruce. Although a little untimely, I received it in the mail today and have been asked to read it into Hansard.

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


Mr Michael Gravelle (Port Arthur): The people of the province are still rising up about the intention of the Attorney General to close the family support regional offices. I have a petition.

"We, being residents and taxpayers of Ontario, hereby wish to notify you that we oppose the centralization of the family support plan, and in particular the closure of the Thunder Bay branch of the family support plan, for the following reasons:

"Whereas the regional offices are necessary for the timely enforcement of support orders agreements;

"Whereas the Thunder Bay regional office currently has 3,639 active files and a compliance rate of 67%;

"Whereas the Thunder Bay branch region covers from White River to the Ontario-Manitoba border;

"Whereas seasonal employment and variable support provisions are common to the northwest;

"Whereas it is proposed that such cases will not be assigned to a particular case worker any more;

"We therefore hereby respectfully request that you give consideration to our concerns and reject any proposal for the closure of the Thunder Bay branch family support office."

I am proud to sign it. We have hundreds of signatures here.


Mr David Christopherson (Hamilton Centre): I have a further petition regarding the potential closure of St Joseph's Hospital in downtown Hamilton. It's a petition to the Minister of Health and the Hamilton-Wentworth District Health Council, which now, by the way, will have to make the final decision before it goes to the minister.

"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 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 continue to support these petitions.


Mr James J. Bradley (St Catharines): I have a petition 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 crimes 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 previously 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 the province."

I have affixed my signature.


Mr David Christopherson (Hamilton Centre): I have further petitions from the United Food and Commercial Workers International Union, Local 1000A, regarding workers' compensation.

"To the Honourable Elizabeth Witmer, Minister of Labour, and the Legislative Assembly of Ontario:

"We, the undersigned, are opposed to the proposed changes to workers' compensation in Ontario, including the elimination of the current bipartite board of directors; the reduction of temporary benefits from 90% to 85%; the introduction of an unpaid waiting period for compensation benefits; legislated limits on entitlement, including repetitive strain, chronic pain and stress claims; reduced permanent pensions and pension supplements.

"Workers' compensation is not a handout; it is a legal obligation that the employers of this province have to workers in Ontario.

"We therefore demand no reduction in existing benefits, improved vocational rehabilitation, tightened enforcement of health and safety to prevent accidents, no reduction in current staff levels at the WCB and continued support for the bipartite board structure."

I support this petition with my signature also.


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

"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 to this.


Mr David Christopherson (Hamilton Centre): I have a petition to the Legislative Assembly of Ontario.

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

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

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

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

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

"Whereas eliminating rent control will result in skyrocketing rents in Ontario;

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

I affix my signature also.



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

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

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

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

I have affixed my signature.


Mr 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 it has been shown that massive cuts to health services, school systems and social services has a definite impact on the statistics of children and youth in crisis; 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 of Transition House in Chatham" and in Kent.

This is signed by a number of people from Chatham, Dresden, Wallaceburg and Paincourt. I affix my signature to it.


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

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

"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;

"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 prevent the oil companies from gouging the public on an essential and vital product."

I affix my signature to this as I agree with its contents.


Mr Pat Hoy (Essex-Kent): "Petition to the Ontario Legislature:

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

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

I affix my signature.


Mr James J. Bradley (St Catharines): To the government of Ontario:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

I affix my signature to this petition.


Mr Pat Hoy (Essex-Kent): I have yet another petition that concerns the Transition House in Chatham and in Kent county. I believe that there have been approximately 700 signatures to date from people concerned about the cuts to Transition House, and I affix my signature to this petition.



Mr Laughren from the standing committee on government agencies presented the committee's 10th report.

Mr Floyd Laughren (Nickel Belt): I know you've been waiting anxiously for this.

The Acting Speaker (Ms Marilyn Churley): Pursuant to standing order 106(g)11, the report is deemed to be adopted by the House.


Mr Barrett from the standing committee on regulations and private bills presented the following report and moved its adoption:

Your committee begs to report the following bills without amendment:

Bill Pr54, An Act respecting the city of Toronto

Bill Pr55, An Act respecting the city of Toronto.

The Acting Speaker (Ms Marilyn Churley): Shall the report be received and adopted? Agreed.



Resuming the adjourned debate on the motion for second reading of 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 1996.

Mr Gerry Phillips (Scarborough-Agincourt): I'm pleased to continue the debate on Bill 47. I think all members of the House know what the bill is, but maybe some aren't familiar with it. It's the bill essentially to enact the budget measures that were laid out by the Minister of Finance a week ago.

It's no secret that our caucus has some fundamental problems with the direction of the government. This bill starts the government down a road that, in our opinion, leads into a really very significant economic swamp for Ontario.

I will say this: I have no doubt that this year's budget, the 1996-97 budget, and the deficit targets will be met. It is a budget in which the government has set its objectives in an area where it will, without question, hit the numbers. The problem for Ontario really begins in the second and third years, and this budget starts us down that road.

It's important that our caucus go on record as spelling out our major concerns with the direction. The way the place works, as you know, is that the government does what it wants to do. We raise the concerns; we attempt to change the government's direction. But they're on a mission. The Common Sense Revolution is under way, the government is going to do it, and we have no doubt about that. Here are the problems with it.

Firstly, the tax cut: I would say that we were somewhat surprised in the budget that the tax cut was actually not implemented as quickly as the government had planned to do it. From our perspective that makes more fiscal sense, but we were surprised. I think most people in Ontario will recall that during the election campaign -- probably about a week and a half before election day -- the now Chair of Management Board, Mr Johnson, and the famous Dr Mark Mullins, who is the government's House economist, had a meeting, a press conference, and spelled out the plans for the tax cut. What they said there was, "Note the revenue decline in the first year, 1996-97" -- this budget year -- "as the first half of our tax cuts take effect." Then later on in the documents they spelled out -- this is called the "Direct Fiscal Impact of the Common Sense Revolution" -- that the first half of the tax cut was going to kick in effective April 1. The revenue loss was going to be $2.2 billion.


Now we find in the bill that the tax cut is not going to come in quite that quickly, and the reason we were surprised is because I think most of the government members have said: "This tax cut is our big job-creating engine. This is going to be" -- I'm paraphrasing one of the members -- "the biggest job-creation engine in the history of the province." So we were mildly surprised that this great job-creating engine has been put on the side track for a while. Part of the cut will come in July 1, and then it will get up to 15% on January 1. Frankly, I think that makes some fiscal sense, but I was very surprised because, as I say, I think the government had said this was going to be the big engine to create jobs, and sure enough we find in the budget very, very disappointing job numbers.

As a matter of fact, we see that in 1996, the first full year of the Common Sense Revolution, we actually find about 25,000 more people out of work in Ontario than there were in 1995. As a matter of fact, by 1998 there will still be more people out of work than there were in 1995.

In talking to finance officials, they say, "The reason is that when you've got the economic growth that we're predicting, job growth can be no greater than we're predicting," and so we find, after three years, that the government's own projections show there'll be fewer than 300,000 jobs created in the province of Ontario when just less than a year ago this government got elected by saying, "Our plan will create 145,000 jobs a year, 725,000 jobs in our five years." Three of those five years are recorded here, the last two years aren't recorded here, but showing job creation well less than 100,000 a year.

That's the first disappointment in the budget, that what had been promised to people on social assistance -- they were told, "Listen, we're going to cut you back, but we're going to see all these jobs created." For people on social assistance, there are actually going to be more people out of work in 1996 than there were in 1995 and in fact more people out of work in 1998 than there were in 1995. That's the first disappointment in this budget bill.

The second thing I would say is that for us in the opposition, we are signalling that in the 1996-97 budget, the one that was just presented, the bar has been set so low on the deficit target that you will exceed that. I don't think there is any economist out there who doesn't believe that, but I also don't think there is any economist or any fiscal person who doesn't believe you are starting this province down the road to a significant fiscal problem, for these reasons.

Firstly, the tax cut, which has been delayed, as I say -- and you see in the detail of the budget that the tax cut for this fiscal year will cost about $1.1 billion, but when it's fully implemented, when the full 30% is there, it's over $5 billion. What does that mean? It means over 10% of the revenue of the province is gone. It means that the deficit that we see right now, we have to find another roughly $5 billion of cuts to deal with it. It means that whereas this government ran in opposition on a platform of saying, "We are going to have to cut expenditures by approximately $6 billion, but we're not going to touch classroom education, we're not going to touch law enforcement, we're not going to touch health care," we now find that the cuts are far deeper than this government ran on. As a matter of fact, by their own admission, the cuts are at least a third bigger than the campaign promise. Why? It is to fund the tax cut.

I think the people in Ontario are beginning to realize the fundamental unfairness in that, where you are asking people to make incredible sacrifices to fight the deficit -- as a matter of fact, I think most people in Ontario are prepared to make very significant sacrifices to fight the deficit. So you'll find that municipalities now have about half of the support from the province that they had before this government was elected. Municipalities are saying, "All right, we're prepared to do our share to fight the deficit." What's happening, I might add, is an incredible number of brand-new user fees. In fact, as you will recall, Madam Speaker, an awful lot of the debate around what was called Bill 26, the omnibus bill, was around municipalities saying, "We're going to need the right to impose a whole bunch of new user fees." Sure enough, the province cut support to municipalities in half and we find that, lo and behold, all of these new user fees are being imposed. But municipalities are prepared to do their bit to deal with the debt and deficit.

Support for people on social assistance has been cut by 20%, and I think every one of us has had individuals and families in to see us asking for help on, "How can we cope with that kind of cutback?" I say: "Well, the reason you're having to deal with that is the province says they have this huge deficit and debt problem that has to be fought, and it is a significant problem. So you used to get $1,000 a month for your family. You now are going to get $800 a month and you're going to have to deal with that." But then they find when the budget comes out that someone in this province making $150,000 is going to get a $5,000-a-year tax break.

I have real difficulty in explaining to people that the debt and deficit is such a big problem that we all have to fight it, but magically this province, this government, can afford an incredible tax break. As a matter of fact, if you look at provincial governments that have dealt with their fiscal problems, without exception they have first got their budget balanced before they started offering tax breaks. In fact, the Premier of Alberta's recommendation to this government is: "Don't do the tax cut. Get your fiscal house in order first, then look at the tax cut." This government is fond of using New Jersey or some of the US states -- I think it's a very different situation and a very different social climate, and I frankly don't want Ontario to be New Jersey. But the States have essentially balanced budgets by law, and do not have debt essentially by law. Very different circumstances.

So the first thing I would say about this budget bill is, it is starting us down the road to the 30% tax cut that I think is a fiscal nightmare. Now, I will say to the government members, I know you're going to do this. I know the 30% tax cut will be done. It is a core belief of the true believers of the Common Sense Revolution, not to put more money into people's pockets, but because the 30% tax cut will dry up the source of government revenue and force more and more cutbacks. So if there is one thing this government will do, it is the 30% tax cut. But I just assure you that we are starting ourselves down the road to a very significant fiscal problem and the cuts that we've seen so far are going to have to be much deeper and much broader and much more severe.

As a matter of fact, I think one way to illustrate that is to look at the government's own plans on deficit reduction. You can see that the deficit reduction this year, the fiscal year we're just starting into, is about $900 million. Then it has to go to $1.6 billion, then another $1.8 billion, then another $2.2 billion, and then another $2.6 billion. So the deficit reduction each year gets bigger and bigger. That's the first point.

The second point is, the tax cut gets bigger and bigger and bigger. The lost revenue gets larger and larger. Some may say: "Well, that's great. People are going to have this great tax break." But it is a tax break going to the best-off in our province, over half of it to families making more than $90,000 a year, and every penny of it borrowed money, because as the government points out in its own document here, this government is going to add $22 billion to the debt of this province, and I will say over that --

[Failure of sound system.]

There are some interesting things in the budget that are reflected in this bill. The government shows here that the debt of the province this fiscal year is going to go up $4 billion. How could that be if the deficit is going up $8 billion? It's a cute little trick that no company would ever get away with. You could never report your debt this way in any public company.


But the government conveniently went out and pre-borrowed about an extra $4.5 billion, ran the cash up, had cash on hand coming into the year, and is simply going to use that cash up and then show -- I frankly think it's an absolutely phoney -- deficit number and debt number. It's here on this page, where we are going to spend $8.2 billion more than we bring in in 1996-97 and the debt is going up $4 billion. How could that be? Because the government went out before the last year-end and borrowed a whole bunch of extra money.

I think you are assuming the public are fools. The public will see through this, will see that over the next four years you have chosen to take the debt of the province up $22 billion. You'll try and report some other strange number, because you came into this fiscal year with an extraordinary amount of cash on hand. One thing you were able to do was to blame the NDP for some of this, because you went out and borrowed it and said, "Well, that was the debt that the NDP left us." But, by your own admission here, the province came into this fiscal year with $11 billion in cash on hand, absolutely unheard of -- it's on page 58 -- and you're going to show a lower increase in the debt by using up those liquid reserves, that cash on hand.

Why do I say all this? Because I think those on the back bench probably need to say to the Minister of Finance, "Let's make sure that we do one thing, and that is, we don't try to fool ourselves or the public."

One of the reasons why, in my opinion, this year's budget will be a slam dunk to hit is that you were able to move a bunch of expenses out of the 1996-97 fiscal year back two years, back three years, and some of them back into last year. It's good politics. Any new president that takes over a company tries to do the same thing, and any new government tries to do the same thing, I guess.

But I'm just saying to the members, because you will be going to the people in an election in 1999, probably the year 2000, just when these things are all beginning to hit, the full impact of the tax cut you've delayed somewhat, so it's going to hit later. The 1996-97 budget is, in some respects, artificially put together, because you've moved quite a few expenses out of this fiscal year.

I would also say, actually, that the economy has performed much better in 1995 than most people thought. I think it came as a bit of a surprise to everyone when the final GDP numbers were out and we see that the economy in 1995 grew at about 3%. So you have had two good years of growth: 5.5% in 1994 and 3% in 1995.

For the province, we are beginning to sow the seeds of our own recurring fiscal problem with this tax bill that lays the groundwork for the 30% tax cut, that promises 725,000 jobs in five years, and we find now that job number is disappearing. That commitment is virtually gone. By your own numbers, we see fewer than 300,000 jobs created in the first three years, and I think it's fair to say we have yet to begin to feel the impact of the layoffs in the public sector.

I think we all know May is happy month when, for this government, there will be no bad news. There's a by-election coming up. The people in York South will hear no bad news out of the government. All layoffs for the public sector have been put on hold. The roughly 10,000 public sector jobs that are going to disappear are not going to be announced, I wouldn't think, until three or four days after the by-election is over. The education community has been begging the ministry to let them know what their finances are going to be for the future, but that's been delayed. May, as I say, has been designed to be happy month. Why? Primarily to try and bolster the government's chances in a by-election, and in my opinion to be less than forthcoming about the impact of the finances of the province.

What we see in this budget bill is the beginning of the 30% tax cut. I mention also that we were a bit surprised to see a delay in the employer health tax relief for business. I think the Common Sense Revolution said that in year one there would be the elimination of the employer health tax on payrolls of $400,000. That was delayed until January 1997 and then phased in over three years.

We have a debate that only time will tell. In our party we have major reservations about the direction you're heading. We think it's taking Ontario down a road that will prove to end up with incredible winners, incredible losers and a divided Ontario. I think it will not be that long before Ontario begins to recognize that the price that is being paid by the winners to punish the losers is not worth it.

Mr David Tilson (Dufferin-Peel): I've watched the member for Scarborough-Agincourt perform over the last number of years. He's always been a fine finance critic for the Liberal Party, and it's interesting to know that he's been put now in a very difficult position of fighting tax cuts. It's a rather remarkable position to be put in. In effect, the thesis of his presentation today and the presentation he's made in this House before is simply to say that tax cuts aren't appropriate.

The people of Ontario have come to the conclusion that we've had enough taxes. We've reminded the member for Scarborough-Agincourt constantly that over the last 10 years there have been 65 tax increases, some from his party and some from the New Democratic government. The people of Ontario don't want any more taxes. We can't be any more clear.

During the last election we promised we would cut taxes, and we've done that. We promised a 30% tax cut rate. That's what the people wanted and that's what we're going to give them; you know we're going to give them that. We promised restructuring. We submitted, and the people of Ontario believed us, that there was too much government existing in the province of Ontario, that there were too many government officials getting in our face, that there was too much red tape. It was too difficult to do business in Ontario.

Albeit some of that isn't in the government -- there's a Red-Tape Review Commission that's working to reduce red tape -- certainly the philosophy of tax cuts, restructuring, getting rid of red tape has been promised and we're gong to honour that commitment.

These are promises. Essentially the member for Scarborough-Agincourt is telling us: "Don't honour your promises. Don't honour your commitments." We're doing exactly what we said we were going to do; there's nothing new about this.

Normally, when you hear "budget" you wonder what's going to be in the budget. There were no surprises. Everything we said we were going to do is in there: getting rid of the employer health tax, the tax on jobs. I can only say that we're doing exactly what we promised with respect to this budget.


The Acting Speaker (Ms Marilyn Churley): Your time is up. Further questions or comments.

Mr Pat Hoy (Essex-Kent): I want to compliment our finance critic on his fine job of bringing out a capsule form of what this budget means and in an understandable way.

The 30% tax cut promoted by the government is its big job creation program. I think our member puts it quite matter of factly that if that is the case, why are they phasing the tax cut in so slowly and jeopardizing the ability of those who are looking for jobs that very opportunity?

Adults are looking for jobs in my riding and indeed probably in ridings all across Ontario. Those persons who will be laid off by this government are going to be seeking employment and hoping and indeed praying that this government will deliver on its job creation plan, the 30% tax cut.

The youth are looking for jobs this summer. I have many coming to my office or calling or making comments as I meet them personally, "I can't find a summer job." Of course they're looking for a job in order to pay for the tuition increases that are coming through, caused by cuts in this government's frenzy to bring about its planned tax cut. Tuition fees for people I meet who have two and three children in universities are going to be very, very burdensome. So we're hoping that the job creation plans of this government will succeed, although we find that its numbers simply are not going to create 725,000 jobs here in Ontario. I feel very badly for the people who are seeking employment and have all their hopes with this government.

Mr Rob Sampson (Mississauga West): I appreciate the opportunity to speak to --

Mr James J. Bradley (St Catharines): Has he got the insurance bill ready?

Mr Sampson: We're just about there with the insurance bill, as a matter of fact, but we'll speak to the budget since that's the topic to be discussed today.

I would like to speak to my friend from Scarborough in regard to the comments he makes with respect to job creation. I know he always wants to refer, certainly when it's to his advantage anyway, to the Ontario budget papers, although he tells me when we're talking about this being an attachment to the budget it is not a piece of the budget, but now he always wants to refer to this as actually a piece of the budget. He tells us that there is in fact effectively no change in the unemployment rate. I would say to my friend that he needs to move up his focus on this particular page a couple of lines to look at the category talking about labour force and employment.

What he fails to recognize is that the plan we've laid out in this particular budget will actually encourage more people to get back into the workforce. That's why the employment levels are going up. That's why the number of job opportunities are going up.

I say to my friend from Scarborough -- he tells us that is bad news. I don't think it's bad news that we're encouraging more people to get involved in the job market in the province of Ontario. It's a hope of prosperity they have not had over the last 10 years that was taken away by the two previous administrations, and that frankly this province deserves to finally get. I suggest to the member that when he takes a look at page 39 and other sections of this document, he might want to refer to the job creation category, and indeed our challenge to create 725,000 new jobs will be met.

Mr Bernard Grandmaître (Ottawa East): Strange, but our finance critic, some three weeks before the budget was announced, called us or invited us for a special meeting in what to expect in the budget. I can feel for my friend from Dufferin-Peel who's so upset with the comments of our critic for the simple reason that he's right on; he's telling the truth. What Bill 47 or the budget speech was going to do was to camouflage the 30% tax cut that people are expecting and, as he pointed out, will receive. People in Ontario will receive their 30%, but at what cost?

His speech was right on when he said that this government will have to borrow $22 billion in the next four or five years to pay off this tax cut. I realize that people don't need or don't want any more taxes, but the fact is it's camouflage; it's a cover-up on the part of the government for the simple reason that they will increase the Ontario debt and taxpayers will be paying for it. I think it's very unfair to criticize our finance critic, because he's telling the truth. This is what it's all about, the truth, and this government is not used to hearing people telling the truth.

As far as jobs are concerned, I don't think they will ever meet their job quota, for the simple reason that they will have to raise more revenues in order to create more jobs and the jobs are not there at the present time and will not be there four years from now.

Mr Phillips: I appreciate the chance to respond to a couple of comments. The member for Mississauga West talked about the number of people out of work. It actually was Mike Harris who said, when he was going around with the Common Sense Revolution: "There are more than half a million people unemployed in this province. The bottom line is that Ontario needs jobs." I can remember him railing about the half a million people out of work.

My only point on the job situation is this. These are your numbers: half a million people out of work in 1995. You are going to increase the number of people out of work in 1996 by 25,000 people. There are going to be 25,000 more people unemployed, looking for work, than there were in 1995. Then you say, "We're creating jobs." You said this plan, by the way -- and it was taking all the credit for it -- would see jobs created at the rate of 145,000 jobs a year. Your own numbers: 78,000, 101,000, 108,000. You are way behind your own targets. You set the objective; you ran on this platform; you promised all of the people of Ontario you would do this.

To my colleague from Dufferin-Peel on the 30% tax cut: Frankly, and I've said this many times, when you came out with the 30% tax cut, I happened to be meeting with a group of financial and economic people and I came back in and said: "What do you think about this? How should we respond?" They said: "It is ridiculous. It is nonsense. You can't cut personal income tax by 30%. You will get the province into a fiscal nightmare from which it won't recover."

Now you won the election on it. All right, I understand that. I thought it was a fraud then, I think it's a fraud now and I still don't like it.

The Acting Speaker: Before I call on the member for Dovercourt, if you could take your seat for a moment, I'd like to recognize the former member for Muskoka-Georgian Bay, Dan Waters, who is here with us today in the gallery. Welcome.

Mr Chris Stockwell (Etobicoke West): Point of order, Madam Speaker: I think that was unparliamentary calling us frauds. I would ask the member from Scarborough to withdraw.

The Acting Speaker: Did you have a point of order?

Mr Stockwell: Yes, I think it was unparliamentary of the member for Scarborough-Agincourt to suggest the government are frauds.


The Acting Speaker: Order, please.

Mr Bradley: On the point of order, Madam Speaker: It is quite obvious that the member for Etobicoke West simply wants to get the tie his daughter gave him on television this afternoon and that's why he rose on that particular point.

The Acting Speaker: I would ask all members to please stick to the debate. I believe we're talking today about the financial bill. Would all members please try to temper their language so as not to provoke each other in the debate. Thank you.

The member for Dovercourt, try again.

Mr Tony Silipo (Dovercourt): I want to say first of all, before I get into discussion of the budget, that I think the member for Etobicoke West's tie is very nice.

I'm pleased to have a chance to join in the debate and to lead off debate for our caucus on this. I would just like to ask, because I believe we have unanimous agreement, that we split our opening 90 minutes between myself and my colleague the member for Rainy River.


The Acting Speaker: Is there consent? Agreed.

Mr Stockwell: Pardon me, is there a question and answer after each one?

Mr Sampson: Not after each one.

The Acting Speaker: Come to order, please. The member for Dovercourt, proceed.

Mr Silipo: There probably will be enough time to do questions and answers if you wish as well.

Mr Stockwell: That's right, on each one.

Mr Silipo: Sure. Only if you sit there and listen to the whole thing.

On a more serious note, let me just say I am pleased to have the chance to speak to Bill 47, which is, as has been noted, the budget bill presented by the Harris government to implement the major measures that are within the budget. I think it's worth just reviewing some of those measures.

The primary one -- because there are about 10 different parts to this bill and one important schedule -- the first, and I know from the perspective of the government probably the most important part, is that which implements the 30% income tax cut. Then it goes on to deal in part II with the employer health tax reductions, in part III with the amendments to the Land Transfer Tax Act -- that's a reduction of about $1,725 of tax to first-time home buyers -- and so on and so forth with a number of other measures.

The reason I listed some of those is to say, first of all, that taken individually, there indeed are a number of measures which I, for one, would quite frankly find welcoming in the sense that who would not want to see a reduction not only in their basic income tax but indeed in such things as the employer health tax, which I think is a way to help create jobs, particularly in terms of supporting small business; certainly a small help and a reduction for people who are buying their first home in terms of the land transfer tax; and one could make similar arguments with respect to some of the other provisions.

I find, for example, particularly interesting under part VII of this bill the amendments to the Corporations Tax Act, which provides a surcharge on banks in respect of their taxable paid-up capital that exceeds $400 million, and then allows for a tax credit against that amount for those banks that provide loans to small businesses, something which I think is a useful initiative.

I will be interested in seeing how that flows out over the next year, but I have to say that the principle of it, the concept of saying that we should be encouraging and, through the tax system, providing avenues for banks to see that there is an advantage when they do that, as opposed to paying a surtax or a surcharge, when they in fact do what they should be doing, which is to provide help through loans to small businesses, that is something where the government, I think, is fulfilling a role it should be playing and it's something certainly I would support.

The point I want to make, first of all, is that if you were to take this bill in its parts, there are a number of things we could easily come to and say, "We agree with this part; we agree with that part; we agree with that other part." However, the overall scheme this bill presents cannot be taken in isolation, because we know that what this bill does is to implement in essence the thrust of the government's Common Sense Revolution.

What they're trying to do here of course is to put in place what they believe are the good news aspects of the Common Sense Revolution. Last week when the Minister of Finance read the budget, we heard that it was presented and it was spun out and it was played out as a good news budget, with tax cut after tax cut. I think one could forgive the average citizen of the province if they were taken in a little bit by that because they would see that here's a government that's cutting taxes. They sort of said that's what they would do and they're doing it, so they are living up to their promises, aren't they? One could forgive the average citizen if he or she were to come to that conclusion. But of course it's worth reminding ourselves that what this government is doing, through the budget and now through this piece of legislation, has got to be looked at not in isolation of this one bill, but indeed as part of its whole fiscal and economic strategy.

We need to remind ourselves that long before the budget was read last week, we saw in this House and, more importantly, out in the real world, where these things take effect, that the Common Sense Revolution, unlike what its writers profess it to be about, which is creating jobs and creating prosperity, has been -- and, I will argue, will continue to be -- about devastating the Ontario society that we have developed and built up over the last number of decades under Conservative governments, Liberal governments and New Democratic governments.

What we see in this bill is only one part of that. For the other parts we need to go back to only days after this government took office, back in July of last year, when it announced a series of cuts beginning, interestingly enough, with a cut that affected the poorest citizens in our province, people who have had, through no fault of their own, to rely on social assistance to survive. The most severe cuts, it's important to underline and to remind ourselves, have taken place -- announced in July, effective October of last year -- to those thousands of people who are the poorest among us, those who have had to rely on social assistance, to the tune of almost 22%.

I remember when I was sitting on the other side and we were having a discussion on this topic about a year and a half ago. I remember the uproar on the Conservative benches at the time when I pointed out to them that that kind of cut is roughly the equivalent of saying to people on social assistance, "You now find a way to survive on the basis of about 10 1/2 months' worth of benefits." There was a huge uproar saying, "No, no, that won't be the case. We will provide other incentives, other ways," which only has taken place after we managed to drag the Minister of Community and Social Services into recognizing what he was doing. Then they managed to change the rules and allow for people to be able to earn up to the original amount.

The point still remains that what we have left as a result of that first -- and I think most significant -- action of this government is that the poorest citizens were the ones not only to be hit the hardest but to be hit the first, to be cut the hardest and to be cut the first. Why do I continue to stress that? Because when you juxtapose that against the tax cut we see so prominently displayed in this legislation that's before us today, we see very clearly the two extremes.

We see that what this government is all about is not cutting taxes to create jobs, but cutting taxes so that it can benefit the wealthiest citizens in our province, because even after it's rolled in the various provisions of the employer health tax, the truth remains that those who benefit, far and large, from the tax cuts are those citizens who are among the most well-off.

We've seen lots of figures bandied about, but whatever numbers you want to settle on, the reality is that for the average family in this province the value of the tax cut -- and there will be a benefit; people will get a 30% tax cut. I am one of those who have said from the beginning that that was one of the promises -- probably the only promise -- that I actually believed Mike Harris would implement, because I have seen throughout this whole process, certainly since the government took office, how intent Mike Harris has been on instituting this 30% tax cut.

I think it has nothing to do with job creation, and I want to get to that point a little later. I think it has everything to do with ensuring that the wealth of this province and the power in this province are shifted in such a way as to benefit those who are already relatively well-off, because for the average family, the small benefits that will come to them by virtue of this 30% tax cut, which when you really break it down in terms of what it means, not just on a yearly basis but what it means in the way in which most working people actually deal with their money, which is on a biweekly and sometimes a weekly basis, we're talking here about a tax benefit that might come to a few dollars a week.


What's the other side of the ledger? That same family, that same taxpayer, can't simply say, "Wow, I've hit the jackpot. Now I've got $5 or $6 or $7 or $8 or maybe even $10 or $15 more a week in my family budget," because what's happened is that at the same time, and in fact in order for this government to be able to afford to provide this income tax cut, it has slashed funding to school boards, $400 million just in this one year alone, which the Minister of Education himself has acknowledged really means about $800 million to $1 billion in cuts. That is just in this fiscal year alone, because not even in the budget -- because of course it's supposed to be a good news budget -- did we hear about what cuts will come to the school system next year. We all know there will be more cuts to come to the school system next year and likely even the year after, again despite the promise that was made that there would be no cuts to classroom education.

So that same taxpayer and that same family, at the same time as they look at the benefits that come from this 30% tax cut, are going to also be looking at how to fork out that money, how to pay that out in increased property taxes that will come from school boards and that will come from municipalities as those two bodies, to mention just two, are looking for ways to make up for the cuts this government has put upon them.

I mentioned the cuts to education. Cuts to municipalities -- and I see the Minister of Municipal Affairs and Housing is here. I know they like to say it's only 3% to 4% of what --

Hon Al Leach (Minister of Municipal Affairs and Housing): It's 2%.

Mr Silipo: It's 2%, he says, of what a municipality has to deal with. Of course, he ignores the fact, shown by their own figures, that over the next two years they have cut by 44% the level of money that they transfer to municipalities.

You will recall, Madam Speaker, as a member of our last government, the howls that we heard not just across the province from municipalities but indeed from Conservative members here when we, in our efforts to deal with the need to bring government spending down, reduced by 1% -- and that's comparable to the 44%, not to the 2% that the Minister of Municipal Affairs wants, but the 44% -- funding to municipalities. Yet they want to tell people that a 44% cut in funding to municipalities is nothing to be worried about.

Well, municipalities are worried about that, just as school boards are worried about that, and we are seeing the results of their actions. We are seeing that they simply cannot absorb these kinds of cuts without either in turn slashing services or increasing taxes. Those taxes are being increased in some cases directly, up front, through property tax increases, or they're being done through a whole series of other taxes such as increases to TTC fares in Metropolitan Toronto, increases in other transportation, in other bus fares, increases in a whole variety of user fees right across the province in a whole array of services in order for municipalities and school boards to be able to make up the difference.

To go back to the one taxpayer that this government used to like to talk a lot about, but I certainly haven't heard from either the Minister of Finance or even the Premier, particularly the Premier, much talk these days about the one-taxpayer concept --

Mr Bud Wildman (Algoma): No, they're blaming the municipal leaders.

Mr Silipo: They're blaming the municipal leaders instead. Exactly. They're saying: "It's not our responsibility. It's not our fault if municipalities and school boards are increasing taxes and increasing fees. They can do what we're doing. They can just find ways to cut." To cut what, I would ask? To cut basic services like teachers in the classroom, like transportation services such as Wheel-Trans for people with disabilities. What can be cut in the eyes of this government that would not affect in a significant way the basic services we need to have if we want to continue to be the good, healthy, prosperous society that the Minister of Economic Development, Trade and Tourism likes to talk about when he says Ontario is a good place to invest. It's these things -- our school system, our structure of social services, our health care system -- that make Ontario a good place to live in.

When the United Nations has said for a couple of years now that Canada, and Ontario within that, is the best place in the world to live, it's because they look at all these things we have. They see that we have a good level of service.

I would be the first to say that changes can and indeed need to be made. We ourselves not only recognized but took steps to implement a number of changes to make sure we were using taxpayers' dollars wisely, but that's far different from the slash-and-burn approach we have seen from this government.

Mr Stockwell: Tax-and-spend approach.

Mr Silipo: The tax-and-spend approach, my friend the member for Etobicoke West says, but one of the things he might be interested in looking at, because I know he's a man of numbers, is program spending. This government prides itself in how they're bringing spending down. Again I say to you that some of that needs to be done, but when you look back as we did at the last economic statement we issued in 1995 and compare three five-year periods, 1980 to 1985, when program spending increased by 2.9%, interestingly enough those were during the Conservative years.

During the time of the Liberals, from 1985 to 1990, we saw program spending increase by 4.5%, during good times, and I'll have a little bit to say about the Liberals later on.

Then, during the time that we were the government, program spending increased by 0.3%.

Mr Stockwell: You're nuts.

Mr Silipo: Take a look at the figures.

Mr Stockwell: I've got them right here.

The Acting Speaker: The member for Etobicoke West, come to order.

Mr Silipo: The point is this. I think all of us, whether we're politicians in this House or the average citizen out there, understand that there has to be some attention paid to the deficit and there has to be some attention paid to the amount of the public's money we spend, but we also have to see that our responsibility is not simply to that bottom line; our responsibility as government and as legislators is to ensure the wellbeing of our citizens. We will argue, obviously, from time to time about the best way to do that, but the reality is, I hope, that this remains and will continue to remain our objective.

I have trouble most inherently with what this government is doing when it tries to portray the tax cut as being the end-all of its promises, as being the way in which it's going to heal the economy of the province, because it will not do that, first of all, and secondly, it is trying to change what the same government said in their Common Sense Revolution.


Mr Stockwell: On a point of order, Madam Speaker: I'm very sure the member for Dovercourt wouldn't want to leave the wrong impression with the public, but program spending went from $38.9 billion to $44.6 billion --

The Acting Speaker: The member for Etobicoke West, take your seat. That's not a point of order.

Mr Howard Hampton (Rainy River): You've been here six years now. Don't you know the rules yet?

The Acting Speaker: Order, the member for Rainy River. The member for Dovercourt, please continue.

Mr Silipo: I'll be happy to pass to the member for Etobicoke West the document I read from. I'm sure if he wants to read from some other documents, he'll be able to do that just as well.

Mr Stockwell: I've got the budget. You've got a pamphlet.

Mr Silipo: I read from the last budget statement that we issued in 1995.

The Acting Speaker: The member for Dovercourt, address the Chair.

Mr Stockwell: You didn't introduce a budget in 1995.

Mr Bill Murdoch (Grey-Owen Sound): We didn't even have a House in 1995.

The Acting Speaker: The member for Grey-Owen Sound, come to order.

Mr Silipo: I'm quite happy to read, if you want me to --


The Acting Speaker: Order, please. The member for Dovercourt, would you continue and address the Chair, please.

Mr Silipo: Madam Speaker, I find it interesting that when I refer to something, as I believe I did, which was the budget statement of 1995 -- it wasn't a budget. I never said it was a budget; I said it was a budget statement of 1995. Interestingly enough, that's the same title the Minister of Finance put to his November economic statement. He called it a budget statement.

Mr Stockwell: But it was not the budget; I'm talking about the budget.

Mr Silipo: Well, that's fine. The member for Etobicoke West likes to refer to the budget that was tabled by the Minister of Finance recently as if that's the gospel. Well, it's his choice to do that. We can argue about the numbers, but the numbers are there and we will see them.

The point I was making is that this is not the first government that's realized that program spending needed to be looked at. But unlike this government, what we did when we looked at the need to reduce spending was that we did it in a way that tried to protect the basic services we have in this province. We didn't simply go around slashing by 44%. We didn't go around slashing $1 billion a year from education. We did it in a humane way. We did it in a way that said: "Let's sit down with our transfer partners. Let's work out how we can get from where we are now to a point at which we can afford the level of spending in this province." We took some lumps for that, but that's the approach we took.

Let me come back to the basic point I see behind this bill and the budget it purports to implement. While this government wants to try to make the tax cut the centre of its actions, I want to remind this government that what it said was that its key commitment and promise in the election was not just the tax cut. The tax cut was seen as one point of a five-point plan to help create jobs in this province. The Common Sense Revolution says: "A Harris government will immediately implement a five-point job creation plan. This plan will generate economic growth and investment in Ontario and create more than 725,000 new jobs."

Why, you may ask, are we continuously bringing this point back to the government? Because I believe that is the commitment against which their actions need to be judged; because that is the overarching commitment that they made. Within that they made a number of other commitments. One of them certainly was the tax cut, and I've acknowledged that the tax cut is something that I believed they would do and that indeed they are doing. But they also said they would bring about that tax cut in a way that would reduce other government spending "without touching a penny of health care funding. Other priority areas of law enforcement and classroom funding for education will also be exempt." Well, we are seeing how those promises are not being kept.

We will look at the estimates that were tabled today and follow the actions of this government with great interest, but I have no hesitation in saying that we will see at the end of the day that those other key promises were not kept and will not have been kept, because we are seeing cuts to health care: $1.3 billion announced not in the budget but announced last November.

Mrs Helen Johns (Huron): Over three years.

The Acting Speaker: Order, please. The member for Huron, come to order.

Mr Silipo: "Over three years," says the parliamentary assistant to the Minister of Health, and she's quite right, but it will be cut, and we will see what's happened to that sealed envelope in health. We've already seen in education the $800 million which the minister himself has admitted is really what the $400 million in cuts mean, and how that is being done in a way that is in fact taking teachers out of classrooms, because there is no other way to take that amount of money out of the school system of this province without affecting classroom education.

Mrs Johns: Of course there is.

Mr Silipo: "Of course there is," says the parliamentary assistant to the Minister of Health, but then you tell me why it is that school board after school board is having to either increase property taxes or in fact lay off teachers? Those are the choices they've got.

You can say to them, "Well, if they raise property taxes, that's their choice," but again what you've done is forgotten about the one taxpayer. You've forgotten about the fact and you're sloughing off on to the school boards your responsibility to live up to that commitment you made.

That is something else we will continue to remind this government of and continue to make them uncomfortable because we know they are realizing that's a promise they are breaking.

Then there was the other commitment to law enforcement in this province. We have been seeing, day after day, as the Solicitor General and the Attorney General try to explain, the myriad of schemes they are cooking up to get away from that basic commitment. In fact, even today I listened with interest to the Attorney General when he was explaining the cuts that are happening and trying to explain many of them away on the basis of agreements and arrangements with respect to the legal aid plan, and his own numbers -- in fact he talked about a budget number for 1996-97 of some $655 million.

Unless I've been given the wrong book and the wrong page, this one, if the member for Etobicoke West is here I would tell him, is actually from his own minister's budget paper and says that in fact the Ministry of the Attorney General is supposed to have $637 million in its budget in 1996-97, which is less than what the Attorney General today said he would have. One could ask at the very least what happened to that other $20 million or so; or what's going to happen.

What we know is going to happen is it's not going to be available for law enforcement; it's going to be somewhere else. Again there's another promise that will be gone.

One of the other things we are seeing, therefore, on this question of jobs, is in fact -- and this is why we keep coming back to this point of what is the commitment that the government made. The government made a commitment to create 725,000 new jobs and to do that in a number of ways.

Ministers are still claiming that they will meet that commitment. We will see. But again if we go just by their own numbers -- not our own, their own numbers -- interestingly enough these numbers were not ones the Minister of Finance proudly read out in his budget address. They weren't even numbers that were in the background documents. They had percentages, they had everything else, but they didn't have the actual numbers. Interesting, you might say.

Why wouldn't they? If this was their first commitment, if this was their primary commitment, if reaching this objective of 725,000 jobs was seen to be the overarching objective and goal of this government, why wouldn't they simply have a little chart that would say to us, "This is how we're going to get there, year by year. Here are the numbers, here are the targets"?

We had to go hunting around. We had to go ask the bureaucrats in the Ministry of Finance what objectives would be met over the next couple of years. You know what they told us? They told us 289,000 jobs by 1998. Those haven't been disputed by the minister, so those are the numbers. That's a long way from 725,000. Now, I know that's 1998, it's not 2000, so there are two years after that, but what this government is having us believe is that they will create or help create in that two-year period alone over 400,000 jobs. We'll see.


The reality is that if you look at the job growth projection, if you look at the projections they have in terms of how much the economy is going to grow, it just isn't going to happen. You know why? I'll give you just one reason. If you look back at the basic gospel -- remember that? -- the Common Sense Revolution, the last chart -- unless again, maybe you've changed this one too; I don't know. The last chart I see there in the appendix says they're expecting growth -- I'll just go from 1998 right through to the year 2000 -- of over 4% a year. The numbers in the budget and in the attachments to the budget show that in fact growth is nowhere around that number. So again, they've projected the 725,000 jobs on the basis of a growth that isn't going to materialize and it's not going to be there.

The most troubling part of all this for me is what has happened in order for the government to achieve what it has now seen and is now trying to categorize as being its predominant job creation scheme, which is this famous 30% tax cut. In order to do that, it is actually borrowing money it doesn't have so that then it can redistribute it out, again in a way that benefits those who are the most well-off in our society, and it is doing that to the tune of almost $5 billion a year by the time the tax cut is fully implemented, borrowing that kind of money in order to put it back out in a way that benefits those who are the most well-off when we know again that those are also not the individuals who are likely to spend that money here in Ontario and hence create the jobs this government is telling us it wants to create.

Mr Stockwell: Where are they going to spend it?

Mr Silipo: The member for Etobicoke West says, "Where are they going to spend it?" Far be it from me to say, but the indications seem to be that where people are likely to spend it, those who are going to get enough to be able to spend after they pay for all of the other tax increases you've caused, is overseas, or they're likely to put it in the bank --

Mr Stockwell: And that's not good?

Mr Silipo: That's not going to create the jobs. That's not necessarily bad, but it's not going to create the jobs that you want. That's the point I'm making. It's not going to create the jobs you want.

Again, time will tell, obviously. I have to say that obviously a part of me would like nothing more than to be wrong about this, because we all want to see the jobs created; we all want to see the economy come back to the way it needs to be. But I have to say I just don't see it. What's worse is that in the meantime we have sacrificed service after service in order for the government to achieve this famous 30% tax cut.

We are seeing cut after cut that takes teachers out of classrooms, that means the quality of education is being seriously impaired. We are this week dealing in committee with Bill 34, which now adds insult to injury because it not only takes away funding for junior kindergarten and not only takes away the structure and funding for adult education, but it also starts for the first time to try to get property tax dollars from areas like Metropolitan Toronto and Ottawa and bring those back into the coffers of the provincial government. In other circles and at other times, that would have been called double taxation. Under this government it's called equitable financing.

I think people will see. Unfortunately for all of us as a society, it may still take a bit of time for people to fully realize what this government is all about. The sad reality is that with the large majority they have, whether they hear the public or whether or not the public understands, they will continue with this crazy approach to try to heal the economy of the province.

It will not work, because the Ontario that will be left after Mike Harris is finished is not the Ontario we all want; it's not the Ontario my parents came to; it's not the Ontario to which my parents and many like them helped to contribute to build; it's not the Ontario that those who have been here for generations, who have gone through the Depression and through the Second World War, have helped to build. It's a very different Ontario that Mike Harris is proposing to us, and that is what I find most troubling.

There is this approach by the Tories that says, "We don't want to mortgage" --

Mr Wildman: "Let's hurt the children of today to help them tomorrow." Let's throw them out on the street now. They'll feel better for it next week.


The Deputy Speaker (Mr Bert Johnson): I'd like to hear the speaker. I would like the rest to wait their turn and would ask for a little better deportment, please.

Mr Silipo: I know that my Tory friends like to talk about not wanting to mortgage our children's future, and you know there's an element to this that one cannot disagree with, but they have to ask themselves what every family has to ask itself: How do you build a healthy family, a healthy community and a healthy society? You don't do it by saying, "When there isn't enough to go around, we will just starve one of the members of the family or of the community." You do it by saying, "When there isn't enough to go around, we each get a little less in the meantime but then we try to work on how we can get enough to go around." That should be the goal of government. It shouldn't be to bring us all down to the lowest possible common denominator; it should be to build up. It should be to increase the wealth and potential that we have in this province.

That's what I see is the role of government, the very best in government, and that's what I see is frighteningly missing from the approach Mike Harris has. It is a view of the world that says: "The only way we are going to survive is by going to a survival-of-the-fittest mentality. We will simply forget about those who are not as able, those who are less fortunate, and we will simply support those who can."

That is not my view of the world. It's not the kind of world I want my son to grow up in and I know it's not the kind of world my constituents want to see for their children. I represent an area made up of people who have been in Ontario for generations and large numbers of people who are still relatively recent to this country and to this province. They are all people who share a very strong work ethic that says that by working together, we build a society, but they are also people who see that government has a role to build, not to destroy -- to work with the community, to work with business, to work with labour, to create the wealth we need in this province, and then to make sure that wealth is fairly distributed so that we don't have the rich getting richer and the rest of us simply getting poorer by the day. That, sadly enough, is what's happening as a result of the actions of this government.


We've heard a lot about the records of all the governments, of all the parties that are now represented in this House, and I just want to say that even in the depth of the recession -- and remember the recession; it's something that people seem to forget about when they try to categorize the actions of the former NDP government. It's as if we were continuing during the boom years when we had the Liberals in government. I find it difficult to resist some of the criticism that has been lodged at my Liberal colleagues in terms of some of the things they could have done and should have done to deal with the growing needs of the province during those years, but they chose not to.

The point is that when we governed, we governed during the worst recession since the 1930s, and that meant we had some difficult decisions to make, sometimes good decisions and sometimes perhaps not the best decisions. But they were decisions that were made with a view to maintaining services, they were decisions made with a view to maintaining the very best that we had built up in Ontario, and they were decisions that were made with a view that recognized that through no fault of their own, thousands and thousands of people had lost their jobs, had had to go on unemployment insurance, many on social assistance, and that it was our duty to see to it that, while we developed ways in which those individuals could be helped out of that dependency over a period of time, during that time they were in need they also continued to receive the support that was required.

So when you look at the increases in spending, you can see that happen as a result of those very real needs that were there during that time. I know the members opposite would prefer to forget about that, would prefer to suggest that we governed during healthy times, we governed during times when in fact we just simply spent because that's the way we are. Well, I think the people of the province know differently. I think the people of the province will realize, as they look at what this government is doing, that not only will it not create the kind of prosperity through its actions that it says it will, but it will also leave Ontario a much worse place to live in. There will be a lot of rebuilding that will have to be done; there will be a lot of making up that will have to happen.

Let me go from that to talk about a couple of other observations, and then I know that my colleague will want to pick up from there.

One of the things I found interesting, as I listened to the speech and looked through the other measures that were set out in this bill and all the verbiage that accompanies it, is that everything this government is doing in terms of the tax cut, in terms of the employer health tax cuts, they of course like to express in terms of what they will mean by the time they're fully implemented. Well, of course, the time that they're fully implemented isn't until 1999, which is also more or less around the time that the government will likely, unless they have some other ideas about extending the term of office -- about the same time as they are intending to and will have to go back to the electorate for another election. So we will of course not really have a situation in which people will ever have felt the full impact of those cuts, because even in 1999 -- some of the provisions which kick in at the beginning of 1999 perhaps we will see, because we don't know yet with respect to the 30% tax cut. We do know with the employer health levy, because the dates are in this bill on that part of it.

The other point I wanted to make is this. It's a little bit farfetched to take, in any calculations that we hear from the ministers or the members opposite, a benefit at full accrual of all of these things, whether it's on the tax cut or on the employer health tax, and then to claim that's what people are going to have. The reality is, they're not going to have all of that for another three years, and at the same time, the cuts that people are having to live under are being felt not three years from now but now, because the cuts in the classroom that I talked about, the increases in property taxes, are being paid today and they far, far outweigh the benefits for the next year and even the year after that for the average household. They far outweigh the benefits of any of those tax cuts.

Another point I want to make is this: I heard earlier on in one of the speeches the great pride with which members talked about their budget as being the first budget that cuts taxes. Well, that may be. In terms of their pride, I'm sure that's true and that's genuinely felt. I hate to bring them down to reality but the sad truth is, it isn't true. This is not the first budget in 25 years that cuts taxes.

The employer health tax: You want to take a look at that. We had in place back in 1993 in the budget a provision that said we would cut the employer health tax in a way in effect that created more jobs than what this measure is going to do, because it actually cut the employer health tax for new employees, which meant that there was a really built-in incentive for employers to hire, knowing they would not have to pay for the first year at least the employer health tax. We didn't say that's on the basis of $200,000 of payroll, as they are doing now through this bill, for the first year; we just simply said as a small business, which picked up all of the categories.

I'll be interested to see the job numbers that come out of the different categories that we have because, again, even though the big promise was "We will cut the employer health tax for businesses under $400,000," that won't happen until 1999. People out there might have the impression that it's going to happen just as soon as this bill is passed. It's not going to happen until 1999. Some of them will get the benefit starting next year in 1997 -- businesses with payrolls of under $200,000.

I was trying to get some numbers -- I couldn't get any numbers in time -- because I wanted to share them with people. But I don't think that's going to be a large number of the companies we are talking about. However, I don't say that because I'm opposed to that. I think it's a good measure. I said that at the beginning of my comments. I make the point again that what we have here is a little bit of a sleight of hand in terms of how these things are positioned, because you give people the impression that these big cuts are happening and yet they're not happening until 1999, and you want to claim the credit for them happening now. We will see what happens in 1999, but we will also see in the meantime people paying the price for those tax cuts. That is something we will all have to bear.

The other thing I just want to say -- and I want to finish after that because I want to leave some time for my colleague -- is we all are involved in this partisanship game, but I would have thought that in a number of the measures that we heard about in the budget there would have been at least a little bit of decency or a little bit of credit given where credit was due, because we saw when the Ontario savings bonds, which the Minister of Finance said proudly that he was going to redo this year -- and, again, I think it's a great idea; we saw that when we instituted the Ontario savings bonds -- and it would have been useful to at least have a word in there to refer back to the former Minister of Finance, the member for Nickel Belt, as having been the one who introduced that provision back a couple of years ago, and to point out that there were close to 150,000 people in that first year who invested some $1.6 billion in the first issue of the Ontario savings bonds. I'm happy to see that is something that's continuing.


I would have been happy to see, as I say, some credit given to the former government for that. I would have been equally happy to have seen in effect the labour-sponsored investment funds as something that there would have been some acknowledgement about in terms of where that has started, because one of the other things we are seeing through this budget is a repackaging of --

Mr Stockwell: It's a write-off for the rich.

Mr Silipo: Well, your minister says it's a good initiative.

Mr Sampson: Yes, but do you think it's a good initiative, a tax write-off for the rich?

Mr Silipo: It's not a tax write-off for the rich, it's an investment potential that brings funds. Your own Minister of Finance has recognized that's useful.

But the point I think is this: We are going to be seeing -- and we will see this more and more over the next little while as minister after minister will stand up and reannounce crunched-down versions of initiatives that were there before. In fact, I pointed out earlier today that I thought the Minister of Economic Development, Trade and Tourism was going to announce the new jobs initiative, which again they call Partnerships for Growth, for jobs and growth, which I will expect to see in the next few weeks. I expect, even though it's going to have $50 million attached to it, it will be nothing more than the previous initiatives that we had, obviously trimmed down because the dollars are much less than they were before, and with perhaps some slightly different wording, but essentially the point being that, again, what this government is doing is cutting first and then it's coming back and saying, "We're going to put a little bit more here, a little bit more there." They've done this in this area. We've seen it in the children's area in terms of the nutrition issues, in terms of a number of other provisions that are in there, and I could go on and on talking about that, but let me just conclude in this way.

This government will continue to do what it wants to do. There is no doubt about that in my mind. I have said from the very beginning that this government would implement the 30% tax cut. There were some who said, "No, no, it won't do it." I was one of those who said, "No, I believe they will, because I think Mike Harris's credibility rides so strongly on that."

What I think they are now trying to do, and this I do not believe they will get away with, is to say that in fact the tax cut was the key promise they made. It may have been the most prominent, but it was not the key promise they made. The key promise they made was that they would create jobs, 725,000 in particular, and that they would do that, first, by reducing income taxes, and secondly, by protecting spending in health care, in classroom education and in the justice area, to name just three. Those promises are not being kept, they will not be kept, and we will see over the due course of time those promises revealed as being broken, and then we will see whether this government and this Premier and this Minister of Finance are prepared to stand up and admit once and for all that they haven't kept their promise.

Mr Hampton: I feel very badly in that I know the member for Etobicoke West wanted to speak. I know he wanted to give us his version of the world. For want of a better expression, I call it The World According to Garp. He'll have to wait. I'm sure we'll hear about it none the less.

I want to generally cover three areas in my comments today. First of all, I want to talk about the impact of this government's budgetary and fiscal direction on northern Ontario, because I believe northern Ontario is where the pain of this government is being felt the most. I want to go through just some of the examples.

Take a city like Thunder Bay; I want to run through what's happening in Thunder Bay. The Ministry of Natural Resources is going to lose at least 50 staff in Thunder Bay; likely, when the cuts are fully implemented, it will be closer to 100 staff. The Ministry of Transportation is going to lose at least 50 jobs in Thunder Bay. In the Ministry of Environment and Energy, at least 50 people are going to lose their jobs in the Thunder Bay area. In the Ministry of Northern Development and Mines there are going to be significant job losses in Thunder Bay. In the rest of the provincial civil service in Thunder Bay, at least 50 people will lose their jobs.

At Lakehead University, at least 100 people are going to lose their jobs. At Confederation College, they're already up to about 80, and the expectation is that very soon at least 100 people will lose their jobs.

This is just with the cuts this year; this is not talking about the cuts that are going to happen next year and the year after.

The boards of education in the Thunder Bay area are looking at 200 people losing their jobs. In health care, we're looking at close to 200 people losing their jobs.

The government will tell you that out of this comes good news. When close to 1,000 people are losing full-time, permanent jobs, that is not good news. It's not good news in Thunder Bay; it's not good news anywhere else in the world. For a government to somehow try to butter it over and say, "This is good for society," is nothing less than nonsense. Then to package it up and say somehow that it is common sense is to do injustice to the English language. Someone called it "doublespeak."

But northern Ontario doesn't consist of Thunder Bay and Thunder Bay alone; let's go to small towns. Let's go to a small town like Atikokan. Tomorrow the MNR cutbacks will be announced. I'll make a prediction: At least 10, closer to 15, people at the Atikokan MNR will be out of a job. Do you know what that means? No income. No pay. No money to put clothes on children's backs. No money to pay for food. No money to pay the mortgage. This government says that's good news.

That's not the end of it. There's no more fire base in Atikokan, so you talk about the loss of a further 10 jobs. The board of education is going to cut teachers in the small town of Atikokan, and the hospital already knows that there are going to be health care cuts. The hospital is writing the Minister of Health and saying, "We are trying to understand why we should try to keep this hospital open, because when we see the cuts you're imposing this year, the cuts you're imposing next year and the cuts the year after that, we are cutting off our arms and our legs in this hospital, and we wonder what the sense is of trying to keep this institution open."

The government says this is good news, this is good for the economy. Atikokan is a small town with a little more than 4,000 people. We're talking about the loss, in the small town of Atikokan, of at least 30 full-time permanent jobs. The government says this is good news for people.

Let's go to Ignace. Ignace is a small community of 1,500 people. It's going to lose people from the Ministry of Natural Resources office, it's going to lose people from fire crews, it's going to lose about 10 teachers and it's going to lose some other people. A small community of 1,500 people is going to lose over 20 full-time permanent jobs. This government says it's going to be good news.

We could go, community after community, across northern Ontario. None of those communities has any good news, none of them. It is job loss after job loss in every one of those communities: Ministry of Transportation job losses, Ministry of Natural Resources job losses, Ministry of Northern Development and Mines job losses, teachers losing their jobs, nurses losing their jobs, other health care workers losing their jobs, people who do community and social service work losing their jobs -- again and again. Yet the government says this is good news. Over 2,100 staff in the Ministry of Natural Resources will lose their jobs, and 1,000 of those will be in northern Ontario. The government says it is good news.


We had barely enough equipment and crews this winter in northern Ontario to look after the roads and highways when the weather was good. Whenever we had a snowstorm, the Ontario Provincial Police had to close the highways. There was no other choice; there simply wasn't the equipment or the staff to maintain regular transportation services. The government says this has no impact on the economy. Well, if you can't get the wood to the mill, you can't produce. If you can't get the wood chips to the mill, you can't produce. If you can't haul the goods, whatever they are, across northern Ontario, it's a loss to the economy. The government says, in its budgetary and fiscal statement, that this is somehow good news.

I'll tell you how hard up this government is for good news in northern Ontario. If you read the budgetary document, they list a number of paper mill renovations, pulp mill renovations and some new mill projects, and they try to pretend that somehow these things have something to do with this government. All of these projects were announced at least two years ago. All of them have been under construction for at least a year. None of these projects has anything to do with this government -- not one whit. For this government to try to take credit for that is nothing less than fraud. These decisions were made over two and a half, three years ago; they were implemented two years ago; construction started over a year ago. All I've got to say is, thank God those decisions were made two and a half and three years ago; otherwise there'd be a lot of other people out of work in northern Ontario. But this government deserves no credit for that.

If anything, this government is putting the boots to the northern Ontario economy. It's putting the boots to northern Ontario transportation, it's putting the boots to northern Ontario highways, it's putting the boots to northern Ontario health and education infrastructure, it's putting the boots to northern Ontario's natural resources, it's putting the boots to northern Ontario's environment, and it's having an incredibly devastating effect.

That's going to be the impact of this government's budgetary and fiscal policy in northern Ontario. Those are the cuts. This government wants to pretend that its actions in terms of cuts bear no relation to its decisions as far as expenditure and taxation are concerned. Well, they're intimately connected, and that's where northern Ontario loses again.

It's very clear if you do some budget analysis that the people who get the biggest benefit out of this budget are people with incomes above $80,000 a year. They will get a substantial tax cut. I look around northern Ontario communities and I don't see many people who make $80,000 a year or more. I look around communities like Atikokan or Ignace and I see maybe one or two people in those communities -- maybe no one.

It's pretty clear if you look at this budget and you factor in all the hidden taxes that are happening that people who make under $50,000 a year are losing. When I look at northern Ontario communities, I see a lot of people who make under $50,000 a year. As a result of this government's cuts to education, as a result of its cuts to health care, as a result of its cuts to municipalities, as a result of its cuts to policing -- yes, even a service that is so basic as policing -- people in northern Ontario are going to pay higher and higher and more and more hidden taxes.

Property taxes are going to go up. Municipalities have no choice. If they're going to maintain sewer and water services, street and road services, if they're going to maintain police services, they have to push up property taxes. School taxes are going up, because boards of education have no choice. It comes down to, in some communities, either lay off all the teachers in the school or raise property taxes. So they have to raise property taxes.

People are seeing library user fees, people are seeing higher garbage tipping fees, people are seeing higher business licence fees and oh, yes, then there's the overall new tax across northern and rural Ontario. It's going to be called a head tax for policing, something that used to be available to us because we were citizens. Now, under this government, you'll have to pay a local head tax if you want to have police services. Then we go into tuition fees for colleges and universities. If you have a daughter or a son in college or university, those fees are going up as well. All of those are hidden taxes.

If you add it up, in my part of the province if you're someone earning under $50,000 a year, yes, you get a bit of a tax break. It's not worth a whole lot. But then on the other side of the ledger when you add up the property taxes, the school taxes, the library user fees, the recreation user fees, the garbage tipping fees, the business licence fees, the new head tax for police services, tuition fees and more, it's very clear that people in that under $50,000 tax bracket have lost and they have lost significantly from this government.

What about the people from, say, $50,000 to about $80,000? Most of them are basically treading water. Yes, they got a bit of a tax break, but once again, if you add up the property taxes, the school taxes, the library user fees, the recreation user fees, the garbage tipping fees, the business licence fees, the head tax for police services, the tuition fees for college or university, the new health care user fees, the drug benefit user fees, those people are doing nothing more than treading water.

That's what this government has done to northern Ontario. It has put literally thousands of people out of work, it is risking the natural resource infrastructure, the natural resource heritage of northern Ontario, because quite frankly there aren't going to be enough biologists, foresters, forest technicians, planners, fish and wildlife people out there to properly look after the resource any more.

We are running an incredible risk with the natural resource heritage of this province. We are putting the very future of northern Ontario at stake because of these incredibly stupid cuts and incredibly harmful cuts. To use an analogy, it is very much like taking a plot of good farm land and then taking away a good, experienced farmer and saying the land will somehow look after itself. We know the land won't look after itself and we know it's going to be abused and we know the economy of northern Ontario is going to suffer in the future from that abuse. That's how it works out for northern Ontario.

I want to talk just a bit about rural Ontario. This is a quote. It's from page 6 of the Report of the Mike Harris Task Force on Rural Economic Development, issued November 1994. It says: "Under a Mike Harris government, agriculture will regain its fair share of government support. That is why there are no cuts to agricultural programs in our policy plan, the Common Sense Revolution." A quote from someone called Mike Harris: "There are no cuts to agricultural programs in our policy plan, the Common Sense Revolution."

I look at the numbers in the 1994-95 budget. The budget for the Ontario Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs was $475 million. Now, in 1996-97, the budget of OMAFRA is $374 million, a cut of $83 million so far.

There must be something wrong here. The now Premier promised. He said, "...no cuts to agricultural programs in our policy plan the Common Sense Revolution." Then we have an $83-million cut: the promise and the reality.

That's not the end of it for people living in rural Ontario. That's not the end of it for farmers.



The Deputy Speaker: We had a visitor in the gallery a little while ago. He's the youngest visitor that we've seen here for a long time. He used good judgement and was quiet, and I would ask that we copy ourselves from him.

Mr Hampton: The loss in services and the loss in operations in the Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs is not the only pain that rural Ontario and farmers in Ontario are going to suffer, because the reality is, if people want services from the ministry in the future, they will pay for virtually every service they get, services that used to be provided by the Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs to farmers because they were farmers and because it was felt important to support farmers and to support rural development and agricultural development in the province.

Those services will no longer be available. If you want to have them now, you will pay fee after fee after fee after fee. These are otherwise called hidden taxes. If farmers in rural Ontario want, for example, to take advantage of agricultural research, they will have to pay a fee, a tax. If they want information on new technologies that are available, they will have to pay a fee, a tax. If they want expertise, if they want to talk to one of the experts, they will have to pay a fee, a tax.

What's happening here is that not only have the services been cut, but in the future, for those services that will be available, people will have to pay more and more and more taxes. The government hopes that by calling them something else, people won't recognize them for taxes. The fact of the matter is, they are taxes.

But that is not the end of it for rural Ontario, because the fact of the matter is, those parts of the province that are least able to cover the cuts -- the cuts in transfers to education, health care and policing -- from this Conservative government are people in rural Ontario. It will be rural schools and rural school boards who hurt the most, and we've already seen evidence of that. We saw the member for Victoria-Haliburton sidle up to the Minister of Education and, wink, wink, nudge, nudge, "Can you do a special deal so that my board of education doesn't hurt so much from the cuts?" They hoped they'd be able to swing a quiet deal behind closed doors, but lo and behold, some of the government's own backbenchers found out about it and they started sounding the alarm, and then the rest of us found out about it. It seems to me that it's obvious from the conduct of cabinet ministers in the government and backbenchers in the government that they know that rural Ontario school boards and rural Ontario municipal taxpayers will be the least able to cover the cuts in transfer payments from this government.

What will happen? Yes, rural Ontario school boards, rural Ontario schools, rural Ontario classrooms, rural Ontario children are going to suffer the most from these education cuts.

It will be the same in health care, because quite frankly, as this government's cuts to hospitals filter down through the system, it will be the smaller rural hospitals that will have the most difficult time justifying their financial existence. They will lose more and more of their services, and some of them will close.

Then there's roads. The fact of the matter is, this government has cut huge chunks out of the road budgets of rural municipalities, huge chunks. They don't call the Minister of Transportation the Minister of Potholes for nothing. Drive over any rural highway now, over any rural road, and you will see why people call him the Minister of Potholes, because that's what this government is creating in terms of its cuts there in rural Ontario.

Then there's the question of police services. I referred to this just briefly a while ago. It used to be the case in this province that by virtue of being a citizen of the province, people received police services. It was considered a basic essential service in the community. This government now intends to rewrite that. This government intends to in effect force a municipal head tax on people in rural and northern Ontario to pay for policing. This government intends to impose a head tax on residents in rural and northern Ontario, a head tax to pay for police.

This is what the map looks like for people in rural Ontario. Huge cuts to the Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs. If people want to receive some of the services that have been available in the past from the Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs, they pay more taxes. And then we have the reality that it will be rural schools, rural hospitals, rural roads and, yes, rural police services that are going to suffer the most from this government's cutbacks in those areas. That's what's happening in rural Ontario.

I want to talk now just about the overall direction of this government's budget and finance policies. The government says they are trying to stimulate consumer confidence. That's the line they put out there. They say: "We're trying to stimulate consumer confidence. We're trying to stimulate the retail sector." Well, let's just look at some of the underlying realities.

How does the government expect that it is going to stimulate the retail sector, going to stimulate consumer confidence, when every day people pick up the paper and read about more job losses? They read about job losses at the hospital. They read about job losses at the university, the college, the boards of education. They read about job losses in ministries of the government. They read about further corporate downsizing. They read about even very profitable corporations like the Bank of Commerce, for example, that runs a $1.5-billion profit and then two weeks later announces that it's their intention to lay off another 2,000 people. In that context, how anyone thinks that consumer confidence can be created is beyond me, and I suspect it's beyond the majority of people in this province.

But it goes even deeper than that. The government says -- and I want to focus on the word "says" -- that they are trying to stimulate consumer confidence. The reality is that the government isn't trying to stimulate consumer confidence. If they wanted to do that, there's a much more direct way of doing that. If you really want to put your focus on the retail sector and you're a government that believes that tax cuts are the way to go -- and this government believes that -- then reduce the sales tax. That bears directly on the retail sector, the sales tax.

But I say again, this government is not interested in stimulating the retail sector. That's what they say; that's the line they're putting out there. What this government is really interested in doing is transferring economic resources -- money -- from lower-income families and middle-income families to the wealthiest people in the province. When you look at the whole map, that's what they're doing.


Lower- and middle-income families lose when health care is cut. They lose when education is cut. They lose when police services are cut. They lose when their municipalities are cut. They lose from all those things and they lose when user fees -- hidden taxes -- are added, when property taxes go up, when education taxes go up, when health care user fees are imposed, when library user fees are imposed, when garbage tipping fees are imposed, when a head tax is imposed to cover the cost of rural and municipal policing. They lose when tuition fees go up.

If you look across the whole map of what this government is doing in terms of its fiscal and budget policy, money is being taken away from lower- and middle-income families and transferred to the wealthiest people in this province. It is the wealthiest people in this province, people who have incomes of over $80,000 a year, $150,000 a year, $200,000 a year, who are getting the big tax break. Their tax break far overwhelms the new hidden taxes and user fees that are being imposed, but working families, lower- and middle-income families, are losing from this government.

The government says that what it's trying to do is stimulate consumer confidence, stimulate the retail sector. That's the spin line they've put out there, but when you look at the numbers, the reality is that they are transferring money -- resources -- from lower- and middle-income families to the wealthiest people in this province, and that is shameful.

But more than that, this is not going to do anything for the economy, because I invite people to look at what's happened in other jurisdictions where a tax break has been focused on higher-income individuals. This is not new stuff; this is old stuff. This is not some revolution. This is a copycat of what's been tried in the state of New Jersey and it's a copycat of what Ronald Reagan tried in the United States in 1982-84.

The fact of the matter is, Reagan said, "I will lower taxes for higher-income earners," and then he had the gall to say -- although you have to remember Ronald Reagan was not the smartest person; he admitted that himself -- "Those people who get the high income tax break will then go out and invest in the economy." That's what he said. The reality of what Reagan said and did is that the tax break higher-income people got went in several directions. A lot of it wasn't invested. A lot of it was socked away in retirement pension plans; that didn't result in new jobs. A lot of it was used to buy a new condominium outside the country; that didn't result in new investment or new jobs. A lot of it was used to buy a new Mercedes or a new Jaguar; that didn't result in new jobs.

Some of it did get invested, but it got invested in Singapore, it got invested in Taiwan, it got invested in Mexico. That didn't result in new jobs in the United States. For the little bit that did get invested in the United States, what it produced in terms of new jobs was not much at all. Historically, now looking back at it, over 60% of the new jobs were jobs that paid a pittance. They weren't jobs people could raise a family on. They weren't jobs people could contribute to a community on. They were jobs that have earned the description "McJobs" because they were jobs at the Pizza Hut or the McDonald's. They might help if you could string three of these jobs together, but they certainly weren't the kind of jobs you could build an economy around.

That's exactly what's going to happen here. The tax cut here has overwhelmingly gone to the wealthiest people in the province. The wealthiest people in the province will engage in some conspicuous spending, some conspicuous consumption. They may buy their new Mercedes or their new Jaguar, which will do virtually nothing for the Ontario economy. They may invest offshore, which will do nothing for the Ontario economy. They'll salt their money away in a retirement savings plan, which will do nothing for the Ontario economy. The government puts out the spin that somehow this is going to create a lot of jobs. The historical facts from elsewhere show it's not true. They show it's not true at all.

Where is this going to leave us? Where is this budget going to leave us? It's interesting, if you read some of the comments of some people from outside; the May 7 edition of the Globe and Mail, an article by Martin Mittelstaedt: "Ontario Sees Debt as High as $130 Billion by 2001." Mr Mittelstaedt is quoting from the Bank of Montreal and a couple of other financial institutions that have looked at the budgetary and fiscal direction of this government. In other words, the debt will rise from $97 billion to $130 billion. Mr Mittelstaedt points out that a big chunk of this debt will be incurred because the government wants to give this tax break to the wealthiest people in the province.

The government, by its own figures, indicates that the deficit is not going to drop. If you consider the cuts that have been imposed over the last year -- and the government says they're worth about $8 billion -- how is it that the deficit is only going to drop by less than $1 billion? The reason the deficit is going to drop by less than $1 billion is because it takes a huge whack of money to give to those wealthiest people in the province the tax break this government promised was coming their way. That takes us back to the argument I started initially, and that is what is happening here is that working families, lower-income families, middle-income families are seeing losses in health care; they're seeing losses in education; they're seeing losses in municipal services; they're seeing their property taxes go up; they're seeing their school taxes go up; they're seeing all kinds of new hidden taxes. In other words, they are losing and the only people in this province who are going to gain from this government are the wealthiest people in this province.

That's what this government is all about, that's what its budgetary and fiscal direction is all about, and that is what people are going to see as the job losses continue to appear, as the cuts in health services continue to appear, as the cuts in education continue to appear, as the cuts in our communities continue to appear.

I'll make a prediction that if this government continues in the direction it has set, we will not see more jobs in this province; we will see a province that will have to struggle to keep its head above water in terms of job creation. We will not see the deficit go down. If anything, the deficit will either stay the same or go up. We will not see reduction in the debt. As the Bank of Montreal has forecasted, the debt will increase. We will not see the services in health care or education or protection of the environment or the protection and good and wise use of our natural resources. We will not see any of those things. Either we will see those things continue to deplete or we will see the standards continue to drop.

The government, in my view, has chosen a dead end in terms of its budgetary and fiscal direction. Unfortunately, it will be the people of Ontario who have to pay the price for this government's right-wing ideology.


The Deputy Speaker: Questions and comments?

Mr John Gerretsen (Kingston and The Islands): I'd certainly like to compliment both of the colleagues from the New Democratic Party for kind of putting it the way I see it as well, and that is basically --

Hon Mr Leach: You all look alike.

Mr Gerretsen: No, we're not all alike. No, no, no. You might think we're all alike, but we're not all alike.

The one thing I just cannot understand about a party that claims it's spending $1 million an hour on the public debt is how it can allow the public debt to increase by another $20 billion over the next four to five years. That's really what this budget and Bill 47 are all about. If they had simply put all their cutbacks on the yearly deficit and the public debt, then I think there could be some sympathy for them out there, even though their cuts are much more severe than I certainly would like to have seen.

The problem is that over the next four to five years they are going to give back, by way of this tax cut, about $15 billion to the taxpayers of Ontario. Do the taxpayers like it? Some of them do; no doubt some of them do. Would we all like a tax cut? Obviously we would, but it just doesn't make any sense to allow the public debt of this province to rise by a further $20 billion as the result of a $15-billion tax cut. That's really what all the cuts that we've talked about over the last eight months and all the cutback in services are all about.

They'll pay the price for it. We know they'll pay the price for it. Somewhere down the line they'll pay the price for it, because it just isn't the right thing to do.

Mr Wildman: I'd like to congratulate my colleagues from Dovercourt and Rainy River for their presentations on this legislation, and particularly their analysis in pointing out the connection between the cuts that we've experienced over the last number of months since the election and the promised tax cuts in this legislation.

I was struck, when I was listening, by the comments that were made across the way about the effects of the tax cut and reminded of a letter that appeared in the Sault Star this week, which was from a small business person who lives in my riding who indicated that she was not impressed with the tax cut in having worked out what it will mean for her in her return next spring, particularly since she has been hit with an increase in a user fee. She has advertisements along Highway 17 apparently -- billboards -- and she pays the Ministry of Transportation for the right to put these up, and she has just been informed by MTO that the cost of these two billboards has gone up by 133%.

Mr Stockwell: What are the whole numbers?

Mr Wildman: The whole numbers may not be that great. I'm not sure what they are, actually, to be honest, but 133% is an enormous increase in user fee and it is exactly what my colleague was talking about in terms of the tax cut being eaten up.

The other thing I'm concerned about is the effect on natural resources in northern Ontario and the fact that we are now speaking on the eve of the job cuts in the Ministry of Natural Resources, Northern Development and Mines. In one community in my riding, Blind River, 3,500 people are going to see a cut in the staff of the Ministry of Natural Resources tomorrow from a total of 38 now to 11 -- 38 down to 11. They won't be able to do their job and the economy of that community is going to be devastated.

Mr Stockwell: I want to comment briefly on a couple of comments that were made, most notably by the member for Dovercourt. He has some interesting thoughts and statistics with respect to his government's record on spending and taxes and so on.

Let me be clear. The member said that in their reign of error during the 1990 to 1995 period, government spending increased on the program basis by 0.3%. He was reading a bit of propaganda put out by the then Treasurer of Ontario in his department, Mr Laughren from Nickel Belt. The reality is, according to the budget figures in the budget books, spending under that administration rose during their time by some $10 billion, in the range of 12% or 13%.

The member opposite offered me a little pamphlet they had produced, which again you could not make head nor tail of. They suggested the 1994-95 deficit in the province would be $8.1 billion in this little pamphlet when in reality it came in at $10.2 billion. I then said, let's go check with the bond rating agencies to determine what they forecast. So I went to DBRS and checked out to see what they had for their increase in government spending under the NDP. When you check the numbers there, they increased spending in that administration, in five years -- four and some bit -- 12%: a 12% increase in spending. The deficit figures went from $3 billion to $10.9 billion, $12.4 billion, $11.3 billion and $10.2 billion.

I don't know if we should be taking too many lectures from the socialists in the province of Ontario about fiscal responsibility, financial accountability and budget forecasting. If you want to start talking about that, you better go back to school and revise some of the numbers you came up with.

Mr Mario Sergio (Yorkview): I am also delighted to add my voice to the concerns the two members have expressed with respect to the budget. It was nice to see that the members on the government side were actually consenting to what the two members were saying. It shows that the contents of the budget, as it was presented, are really hurting the people, and I see that the members from the government side were acknowledging that particular fact.

I'm delighted to see the Minister of Municipal Affairs here today, because I want to bring to his attention and to the attention of the members a couple of very recent increases in user fees which we have to attribute to the cuts the municipalities are receiving.

Let me say that every cut the government is proposing is a tax increase. The now Premier said during the election and after the election that there is only one taxpayer and we shouldn't be passing the buck to another level of government, and here we are. As late as the last couple of weeks, the city of North York has increased the fees for using indoor bocce courts from $3 an hour to $5 an hour. Can you imagine a senior who wants to spare one hour in recreation? They have to pay $2 more an hour. What about the letter I received this morning in my own office saying I will have to pay $75 for a response to a fire alarm or an alarm where assistance is required? Isn't this another tax cut?

The Deputy Speaker: The member for Rainy River has two minutes.

Mr Hampton: I want to first of all thank the members from all parties in the House for their interest in what my colleague from Dovercourt and I had to say.

Let me say first to the member for Etobicoke --

Mr Stockwell: West.

Mr Hampton: West. It's hard to know what position he's in one day. He sits in about five different seats in the House, so it's hard to know really where he's trying to represent himself as being from.

In the six years now that I've had to listen to the member for Etobicoke West, he seems to want to spin a different version of history. He's one of the members who wants to pretend that the free trade agreement was never signed, that there weren't job losses from the free trade agreement. He wants to pretend that a global recession didn't happen in the period from 1990 to about 1993. He wants to pretend -- although it's interesting, in this government's budget papers they seem to be changing their minds now -- that the federal government under someone named Brian Mulroney, between 1990 and 1993, didn't punish Ontario as much as they could in terms of cuts to health care, cuts to education, cuts to Canada assistance and cuts to legal aid. He wants to pretend that none of those things happened. I would say to him, read the history books. They all clearly happened.


I should say to him finally that if he hopes that somehow by pretending these things he can pretend his way into cabinet, it's not going to work. Keep on pretending. It will be fun. It won't get you into cabinet.

The Deputy Speaker: Further debate?

Mr Ted Chudleigh (Halton North): I'm pleased to have this opportunity to comment today on such an important and historic piece of legislation. The 1996 Ontario budget will long be remembered as the document that began a brighter and more prosperous future in Ontario's history.

Many on the opposite benches may scoff at my comments. I will begin with a very definitive statement that this budget does exactly the opposite of what its detractors suggest. It does deliver. What it delivers to the people of this province is something that has been missing for quite a while, and that is hope. Hope is something that is difficult to quantify. Hope is that sense of optimism which changes things the most, that feeling we all look forward to with great expectation.

In the House today, we have a psychological war --


The Deputy Speaker: Excuse me. I think that we'll have to stop the interjections. The shouting out, the yelling out, I can't tolerate. I don't think that is the intent of it here.

Mr Gerretsen: But he has to speak the truth.

The Deputy Speaker: When I'm standing, I would appreciate the attention of those --


The Deputy Speaker: I'll not warn the member for Kingston and The Islands again.

Mr Chudleigh: In the House today, we have a psychological war that is occurring, wherein it is in the best interests of the opposition to criticize and strike fear into the hearts and minds of the population. To succeed in their cause, they must take the negative view of the future prospects of this province in the hope, ironically, that the government will fail.

The Leader of the Opposition painted a bleak picture of desolation and despair in her response to the budget, announcements reminiscent of disasters bearing biblical proportions. The question I have of the Leader of the Opposition and her colleagues is: Where, between 1985 and 1990, was the political courage needed to do the right thing? Why spend and tax wildly in good times, knowing full well that the effects that these policies would have on the unsuspecting citizens would not be felt during their term of office? The legacy of high debt and deficits, increased taxation and the threat of losing total program spending would rob us of our future unless something was done.

In 1996, the Ontario budget stands as a beacon of hope for the people of Ontario; hope that the bills will soon begin to be paid; hope that tax relief is being delivered; hope that an elected government will keep the promises it made in a general election; hope that a new vision and direction will bring prosperity to this great province of ours.

But don't take my word for it. The people of Halton North have conveyed their feelings to me loud and clear. I surveyed opinions in my constituency from approximately 1,600 people and asked three questions about things such as tax cuts, balancing budgets by controlling the cost and size of government, and global competitiveness. Thus far, the response is overwhelming, with over 10% response in the first week. Some 94% of those surveyed agreed strongly with the direction our government has taken, people like Irene Saunders of Hornby, who gives her strong support for measures taken.

Irene writes: "I sincerely hope that the Conservative government puts its money where its mouth is and comes through with their promises. I think I feel as most Ontarians...do that the people of this province...are fed up with unkept election promises...."

So preach your desolation and despair and disaster to my constituents. I say to the Leader of the Opposition and the interim leader of the third party, tell it to my constituents. The people I will enter into the record are all hardworking Ontarians who understand the need for economic overhaul. In their minds, Band-Aid solutions will not fix what we currently face. Rather, a significant overhaul of the way we do business has to occur for real and lasting change in this province.

These constituents understand, unlike the interim leader of the third party through his recent comments, the differences between income tax and user fees. They understand that the critical difference between an income tax and a user fee is that one is mandatory and the other involves individual choice and the ability to exercise some control over it. They also understand that this government did not introduce the concept of user fees and in fact are well aware of their use over the past decade. They understand that government can no longer be all things to all people. Individuals therefore will decide what is and what is not important to them and their communities. By the way, not all municipalities and regions will resort to increased taxes, levies and user fees. I quote from another recent response:

"Dear Mr Chudleigh, thank you for your letter regarding your government's economic initiatives. In Halton region we remain committed to initiatives that deliver cost-efficient services in the most efficient manner possible. As you are aware, Moody's and CBRS recently recognized Halton's prudent fiscal management and planning by reinstating our AAA rating. We were successful in Halton region in 1996 to pass a budget that allows for a 0.6% decrease in property taxes in the face of declining revenues.

"We will continue to do our part in meeting the current demands, while efficiently serving our constituents."

It's signed by Joyce Savoline, regional chair, Halton region. I must admit how envious I am of Halton region's AAA credit rating, something this province hasn't had for quite some time.

Halton is proof that prudent fiscal management and restraint need not lead to the temptations and quick fixes like property tax increases. Obviously, the words "can't be done" are not evident in the Halton experience. It proves one thing and one thing only: A simple word in the face of great challenge can make a great difference. That word represents hope and spirit of human will. That word is "can." It can be done. We will be positive about the future because we can provide a plan which leads to hope, opportunity, growth and jobs.

So to the parties opposite who decry, denounce and despair at the announcements and delivery of our promised tax cut, I say once again, tell it to my constituents. Tell it to Fred Barnes in Georgetown. Tell it to Brenda Sisuett in Limehouse, or tell it to Arthur and Harriet Cole in Milton. Tell it to Darren Jones, Josephine Clark or seniors Marion and Bruce McNab in Milton. Tell it to Tim McIntyre out on RR 3, Acton, who asked for even more breaks for small business and tells us to keep paying down the debt and deficit. Tell it to Darryl and Trudy Demille and their sons, Richard and Robert, out in Campbellville who strongly agree with the need for a tax cut and feel the hope and opportunity we are delivering to them and who are all planning their future with optimism in this great province of ours.

Your denouncements cannot take away the dreams of those I have mentioned and among the countless numbers of others who have expressed the same to me personally. While we're at it, try to sell your message of despair and desolation to those who have borne the load of taxation over the past decade. Tell it to the entrepreneurs and the business community in my riding. Try to tell them, "You don't deserve a tax break," after years of your governments putting their hands deeper and deeper into their pockets. Try to tell them they don't need a break from the new exemptions introduced in the employment health tax. Tell them they don't need relief from overregulation, duplication of services and government encroachment. Tell them they don't need a greater access to investment and equity capital to grow and expand their businesses with our initiatives to bring banks and small businesses together. Tell them they don't need a retail sales tax exemption on their 1-800 and 1-888 numbers or a $20-million reinvestment for entrepreneurs to advance telecommunication application and infrastructure.

Tell it to Allan Cook at Springloam Farm or John Austen of Austen and Noble Insurance, tell it to the people at Realistic Material Handling Inc, all located in Milton. Tell it to Hawes, Smith and Associates in Halton Hills. Tell it to the Campbells at United Fire Safety Co, Doug Smith at Office Magic Stationery or Walt Dixon at Park Lincoln Mercury, all located in Georgetown. Tell it to Brian Johncox at Country Manor, or Mike Schram at Shoot Photography, and Mr Davis at Pro-Eng Buildings Ltd, all located in Campbellville.


I challenge those on the opposite benches to dampen the spirit of those of us who respond positively to these initiatives and tell them why they don't need what they have been asking for all these years. But beware of certain reproach and the sardonic laughter that follows your comments.

I challenge those on the opposite benches to tell the people of Halton North why we don't need to create a positive business environment to help the economy grow. It is my submission to the House today that this is the very root of the problem that has plagued this province for so long: government telling people what they want and why they want it instead of the other way around. If the opposition understood this, they might not be where they are today.

We have looked, we have learned, we have listened, and now we are delivering. We are doing exactly what we said we would do. We are cutting taxes to generate economic activity, restore fairness to the tax system and create jobs. This budget cuts taxes 10 times, including the first permanent income tax relief for Ontarians since the early 1950s, and lifts payroll taxes from small businesses that create most of our jobs. We are investing in the priority services that we all value: health care and seniors and disabled, child care, summer employment opportunities for students, law enforcement and justice.


The Deputy Speaker: The member for Etobicoke West is continuously out of order, and I don't feel that this chamber warrants that kind of outburst. I won't warn you again.

Mr Chudleigh: Our plan is all about spending tax dollars wisely to ensure the future prosperity of this still great and soon to be unstoppable province.

We are doing these things because the electorate told us what they wanted and because they are the right things to do for Ontario's recovery. I am doing these things not only for the people of Halton North, but for my children and my grandchildren, Lynsey, Chelsea, Tyler and Jennifer. This budget creates opportunity, growth and jobs: jobs for now, jobs for the future and jobs for a return to hope for this great province.

The Deputy Speaker: Comments and questions?

Mr Michael A. Brown (Algoma-Manitoulin): That was a flight of fantasy, and I'm very interested to be up here.

I'm really happy to see that the Minister of Labour is here today, because I've just had a constituent fax to me a statement of account from the Workers' Compensation Board, and I think members, particularly those small business people, would be very interested in this.

Starting July 1, 1996, the WCB will charge $100 minimum assessment on all reconciliation statements for 1996 and subsequent years. The minimum charge will now also apply to accounts reporting zero earnings up to reconciliation.

The small business community is going to be very excited to find out that when the WCB makes a mistake and they ask the WCB to reconcile that mistake, you're only going to have to pay $100 in order for the WCB to correct their own mistake. I tell you, that is totally outrageous. I cannot believe a government agency would do that kind of thing to the people of Ontario. When the WCB makes a mistake, small business in Ontario will have to pay $100 to get the WCB to fix the mistake. Unbelievable.

He talks about job creation. He talks about small business. Did he tell the small business people that this government is going to borrow $22 billion over the next four years? That's $22 billion, all of which will have to be paid back by somebody, and I bet it will be their children and their grandchildren, as this government makes a pathetic effort to buy folks with their own money -- actually, their children's money.

Mrs Margaret Marland (Mississauga South): It's always really exciting to listen to the rhetoric of the official opposition and the third party in response to the excellent speech made by the member for Halton North. I say that because technically we're supposed to be commenting on the member for Halton North's part in this debate, as the former Treasurer sitting now at the Hansard table is confirming for me.

Are you double-dipping, Mr Former Treasurer? I'm sorry. It could be a very humorous debate, except for the seriousness of the subject.

Those of us who have sat on that side of the House and listened to both parties when they've been the government, the Liberals for five years and then the New Democratic Party for five years, listened to what they did for job creation in this province. For example, the employer health tax, the commercial concentration tax and the other 61 taxes of the former Liberal government did zero for job creation. It did so much damage to the economy in this province because it hit the small businessman.

When you look at what the immediately former government did, other than that they had a good Treasurer who struggled to try to balance the books -- do you know how hard they struggled to balance the books? They had two sets of books, that's how well they did it, but we will no longer have two sets of books, on the recommendation of the Provincial Auditor.

Mr Bruce Crozier (Essex South): I listened very closely to the comments of the honourable member for Halton North because, having worked with him for two weeks earlier this year, I know him to be a man of honour. As a matter of fact, we worked on the auto insurance hearings, and I'm surprised that he, along with the parliamentary assistant to the Minister of Finance, is not after the government for dragging its feet and not introducing automobile insurance legislation in this House, because in the meantime rates are escalating, people are getting thrown into the Facility Association and yet we see nothing from this government. I'm sure it's not because the honourable member for Halton North isn't trying to do something about it.

I knew him at that time too, and I still do, as an honourable person, but it's a little suspect, when a survey goes out and some 1,600 people reply, that we didn't hear one that was negative. I'd be very surprised if the member for Halton North, out of those 1,600, didn't hear at least one that had a little negative concern about what's going on.

He did mention that there hadn't been a personal income tax cut since the 1970s. I would like to correct the record on that. There were a number of tax cuts throughout the years. While the basic income tax rate for all Ontarians has not been cut since 1972, income taxes for the working poor have been reduced numerous times, including 1989, 1990, 1991, 1992 and 1993, just to correct the record.

Mrs Marion Boyd (London Centre): I too would like to comment on the member for Halton North's speech. I was quite amused to listen to his list of people, and he may have heard, although he may have been concentrating too much, that we were all speculating as to whether that was his donor list or whether that was his executive list or what it was. We're teasing you. That is part of the give and take of this place.

What really did strike me in the member's talk was his concentration on those who already have in this society. I'm sure there are many hardworking constituents in the constituency of Halton North who are not well-to-do and who do not own their own businesses and who do not stand to gain from the overall fiscal and economic policies of this government.

I was quite taken that the member made this comment about his constituents being hardworking. I think there were a number of us in this House who wondered whether the member was suggesting that our constituents are not hardworking when our constituents are clearly taking a different view on this whole budget.

We had a large number of returns that we brought into this House -- over 100,000 returns; they're still coming in -- overwhelmingly from people who did not enjoy the tax cut idea and who felt that the cuts had been too deep to other people and who wanted that changed. Yet we had a few returns, definitely, that said the opposite, but a very small proportion, and we have admitted that as we've went along.

It's really important for us, as we listen to the member, to recognize that he is speaking about a very small proportion of the population of this province, and I would dare say even of his own constituency, well-to-do though it is, and that this approbation for the budget is not shared by those who will not gain.

The Deputy Speaker: The member for Halton North has two minutes.

Mr Chudleigh: I thank the members for their comments. The comments from the member for Algoma-Manitoulin on the WCB rates: I don't believe I mentioned WCB rates in my comments, but we have frozen those rates for a period of time while we restructure that mess that has been going on in this province over the past decade. No other government has had the courage to attack that problem, and this government is taking a firm hold of it.

I would thank the member for Mississauga South, who sits in a riding previously held by my uncle, for her kind comments regarding my speech.

The member for Essex South is, of course, a gentleman of the soil perhaps like myself and worked for the great H.J. Heinz Co in the past. We share those relationships, having had a respect for the hard work and contributions that agriculture and the food industry make to this province.

You're quite right; in my survey of all those responses, I, like the NDP, did get a few responses that were negative. There were two actually, and the two that were very negative were unsigned so I was unable to respond to them.

Auto insurance was another issue the member mentioned. Again, I don't remember speaking about auto insurance, but I can assure you it's a mess that's been with us for some time in this province. This is another issue our government is taking firm hold of to correct, and we will do that in the very near future.

The Deputy Speaker: It now being 6 o'clock, this House stands adjourned until 10 o'clock tomorrow morning.

The House adjourned at 1804.