36th Parliament, 1st Session

L076 - Thu 16 May 1996 / Jeu 16 Mai 1996
















































The House met at 1002.




Mr Curling moved private member's notice of motion number 19:

That in the opinion of this House, since the Minister of Municipal Affairs and Housing has caused considerable confusion by publicly telling landlords and builders that he will introduce legislation that will end rent control, but on the other hand, tells tenants they will be protected without any explanation; and

Since this government has cancelled over 390 non-profit housing projects that would have provided needed and decent shelter to lower-income Ontarians, but has made known no plan to make up for this shortfall in affordable accommodation; and

Since the minister intends to drastically change six pieces of housing legislation, including rent control, that will wipe out tenant protection in Ontario; and

Since rent control legislation was first introduced in 1975 and improved on by subsequent governments over the past 20 years; and

Since this government continues to attack the most vulnerable in our society;

Therefore, the government of Ontario should stop its plans to gut rent control, and work with tenants to ensure that tenant protection and rent control be maintained in the province of Ontario.

The Deputy Speaker (Mr Bert Johnson): Does the member have a statement?

Mr Alvin Curling (Scarborough North): I do, Mr Speaker. Thank you very much. As I said, this resolution is an attempt to ease the widespread fear and confusion that has been created by the Minister of Housing's doubletalk on rent control, doubletalk, quite frankly, that we have grown accustomed to hearing from the other side of the house.

Renters are concerned about whether they are going to be able to afford decent housing under this Tory government. On one hand the Tories condemn rent controls. They say they will tamper with rent control legislation, wiping out tenant protections that have taken 20 years to build up. Recently we hear Al Leach soften his tone. Now when he talks to tenants, he tries to dodge the issue by talking about maintaining some sort of rent cap, and I don't know what that is.

It's not difficult to figure out what this Tory government is up to. The truth of the matter is that the Tories have a plan. They are going to gut rent control as we know it. It is no coincidence that their tone has changed slightly and that they have gone a bit silent on this issue, but alas, come May 23, they will unleash their vicious attack and destroy the tenant legislation in place. Yes, Mr Speaker. They don't want to hurt their chance in the York South election, so they're very careful at this time. It is just that they won't tell us how they are going to do this until after May 23, lest, of course, those chances in the by-election are destroyed.

The Tories call their plan marketplace rent control; I call it a real contradiction in terms. The marketplace will control rents, all right, as we know it. There is such high demand and low supply for affordable housing in this province that the marketplace will control rents so that they will go, as you know, right through the roof.

Tories say there will be a lot of construction, a boom that will be going on, once they get rid of rent controls. Few believe these claims. Experience has told us that developers will not rush out to build apartments, and if they do build, they are more likely to build for the high end of the market.

Now that the Tories have cancelled over 390 non-profit housing projects, renters have even fewer options available to them today. Adding insult to injury, the Tories tell tenants not to worry, because they're going to bring in a tenant protection package. This puts the onus on the tenant to fight unfair rent increases. Renters are in an extremely vulnerable position in today's housing market. Getting rid of rent controls cuts down what few protections they have so far left.

Let me tell you about some of the things that tenants fear.

They're afraid the government will take rent controls off an apartment once the unit becomes vacant. That makes tenants virtual prisoners of their apartments. They can't move, because any new rent put in place would be much higher than their previous ones.

They're afraid the government will make it easier for landlords to turn apartment buildings into condos, and we have seen this before.

They're afraid when they hear the minister say that the Tories are going to make it easier to evict tenants.

We've heard that the Tory plans include allowing landlords to profit from repairs.

The Minister of Housing may say that these are just rumours. You and I know, Mr Speaker, from our short experience of the Mike Harris government, that rumours turn into policy in a very short space of time.

Tenants are speaking out. They're telling the Tory government that controls keep rents fair and ensure tenant rights. We are joined by tenants in the public gallery this morning and by members of the Coalition to Save Tenants' Rights. I see Kay Gardner, who is an advocate, and Mike Walker is there too, who have done a tremendous job in fighting for tenants' rights, and members of Toronto council as well are there. They represent tenants from across Metro and across the province. Also with us, as I said, are these councillors who have done an exceptional job in promoting the campaign to save rent controls.


This week the Coalition to Save Tenants' Rights kicked off its campaign to raise awareness of the government's plan and they are mobilizing tenants across the province. All they ask is that tenants receive fair, equitable treatment and that the current laws that protect tenants be supported.

I support their position wholeheartedly. They stand for some very basic principles, and some of those principles include things like this:

Rent increases must be set by a government guideline and above-guideline rent increases must have a cap. Quite reasonable. Rent must be linked to maintenance. Tenants must have the right to stay in their own home without fear of being evicted unfairly or just because their lease has run out. Tenants must have the right to privacy. There must be controls to prevent converting rental housing to condominiums and other uses. All tenants must be covered under tenants' rights legislation -- all, not just some or partial. There must be an impartial and fair process for deciding rent increases, eviction and other landlord-tenant issues.

These principles are fundamental. While the Tory cabinet tries to figure out the right spin on the total demolition of rent controls, I suggest their time would be better spent listening to tenants and their concerns.

We have heard from thousands and thousands of Ontarians who support rent controls. I have had response cards in my office, thousands from direct-mail brochures, from renters who are worried about whether they'll be able to afford their rents once controls are eliminated.

I personally have spoken to a number of concerned citizens, many of them seniors, students and those on fixed incomes. Rent controls keep a roof over their heads. Mike Harris is already hurting them through drug plan user fees, tuition hikes and other user fees. Add to that soaring rent hikes, and frankly these people won't know where to turn. Evictions are way up already, and you have seen that in the papers. Does Mike Harris really want to add to their misery?

We support rent control. We don't support handing over all the power to a few individuals. I support rent control, and I support it wholeheartedly. Rent control is the only fair way of ensuring that the rights of the tenants of this province are protected. That is why my resolution calls on the government to end its plans to gut rent control. I urge all members in this House to vote to put partisan views behind them and think about those tenants. When you speak about tenants, it's their home in which they live with their children and try to make life better for themselves, not to feel vulnerable to legislation that will take away those kinds of protections.

We know that builders and developers are business people who want to make a profit. I lift my hat to them and I encourage them to do that. But when I speak to them, they say to me they will not build those units on which they can't make a profit. That is why government must play a role.

I was completely destroyed when I heard that government had no business in housing. We must, as a government, play a role in housing, especially for the most vulnerable. That's why I take my hat off to the mayor of Toronto in dealing with those people who are homeless. She knows it's a deeper problem than just those people lying out in front of city hall. We know that is a problem we must deal with and government must face wholeheartedly in encouraging them.

We must have legislation to protect these people so that they're not evicted from their homes. We want to make sure this happens. We want to make sure we're not partisan in our view but regard the people who are living in these units to be protected and to pay a reasonable rate for their accommodation. Government has got to play that kind of role.

Mr Gilles Bisson (Cochrane South): It is with pleasure today that I stand in the House and support, as the housing critic for the NDP caucus, the resolution brought forward by Mr Curling.

I would also like to point out to members of this House and other people who may be watching this debate that this is one of the few times I have seen a debate during private members' hour where a number of people from other city councils are here to give support to what's happening today. We have five different councillors from the city of Toronto who are here for this debate, and I would like to thank them and other people who are here to support this motion.

I think it speaks volumes to where people are at when it comes to this issue. People see what the government is doing and they're really, really afraid of what's going to happen. They're seeing that the government is intent on dismantling rent control in this province. Why? Because quite frankly this government doesn't believe in the role of government as it affects people's lives. People are worried and people are starting to mobilize and people are doing what they can to try to tell this government: "Stop this attack on tenants. Back off this change of rent control that you want to make." If you do, what it means is literally tens of thousands of tenants in this province will be negatively affected by this move.

I want to come back to the point of why this government is doing this. The government is doing this for a very simple reason: It doesn't believe in government. This government says it wants to remove itself from absolutely everything that has to do with regulation in Ontario in how business is regulated. If that business happens to be an apartment building owned by a landlord or it happens to be a mine in Timmins operated by a mining operator or it happens to be whatever --

Mr Mike Colle (Oakwood): Or a bus.

Mr Bisson: -- or a bus, this government says it wants to remove itself from all kinds of regulation and it wants to make the marketplace dictate what the rules shall be and what the price shall be for the commodity or the service that is being sold or is being bought on the part of somebody.

I say to the government, you're dead wrong. You forget there is not only a history in this country but a history worldwide across all democracies of the world that says you have to have a certain amount of regulation and government has a positive role to play when it comes to regulating certain aspects of our lives. Which aspect of our lives is not as important as the question of housing?

It is a basic, fundamental need of all people who live in this province and in this country that they have to have a roof over their heads, and if the dismantling of rent control means that those people will be made vulnerable, you really have to ask yourself the question why this government is doing this. I say again, they do it because they don't believe in government. They don't believe the government has a positive role to play when it comes to the question of regulating rents in the province of Ontario.

We have a history from 1975 up to now where tenants, people at the city of Toronto council, people at various councils across the province of Ontario, and my own political party, the NDP, have fought a long battle with successive governments to build up a system of rent control as we know it. We finally have in this province the most progressive piece of legislation when it comes to protecting tenants and landlords. That legislation was passed by none other than my own government, the NDP government, between the years 1990 to 1995.

This government is saying it doesn't only want to undo what we have done as an NDP government, it wants to undo rent control legislation even back to what was initially introduced under the Bill Davis government and go to a system of tenant protection.

Mr Len Wood (Cochrane North): Punish the poor.

Mr Bisson: Punish the poor is the exactly the point. Who's going to get hurt? It's going to be those people most vulnerable in our society who will get hurt.

I just want to speak to a couple more points because I've only got about three or four minutes in this debate. The government is saying one of the reasons it is doing this is because it's going to create the situation where the market will be better able to invest in the construction of new apartment buildings. They argue that the reason apartments aren't being built in Ontario is the high level of regulation when it comes to rent control. I say to Conservative members, hogwash. If you look at the stats and you look at the reality and you compare apples to apples and oranges to oranges across this country, where you look at jurisdictions that have no rent control or very weak rent control and compare them to Ontario, the level of construction is the same.

Why are there not a lot of apartments being built? It's very simply this: It's unaffordable. The cost of land, the cost of material, the cost of labour, the cost of taxes at the municipal level, the user fees that are introduced on the part of municipalities because of this government's actions under Bill 26 and the last budget make it difficult for people to invest in rent. So what do they do? They invest in condominiums. It's not the question of rent control that is preventing the construction of new apartment buildings, it is the cost of building.

I say, as the housing critic for the NDP, if the government is serious about trying to deal with the question of how you encourage the construction of new apartment buildings, I want to play a positive role in that, and so does the rest of my caucus. We're prepared as the NDP to sit down with this government or whoever it takes to say, "Let's look at the question of cost of construction of new apartment buildings; let's look at the taxation level and how it applies to apartments across this province; let's take a look at the questions of licensing and user fees in regard to the cost of construction; let's look at land costs; let's look at what can be done." But don't come into this House and introduce legislation, as you will eventually, that says the panacea of stopping construction is rent control, because in that you're false.


The other thing I want to say is that the government is quite clever. One thing you've got to give this government is that it's politically very clever. They're going to come into this House and they're going to introduce a piece of legislation. They will say, "We are putting in place tenant protection legislation as it exists in British Columbia and as devised by the NDP government in British Columbia." They're going to try to compare that to our present system of rent control.

I want to put this on the record very clearly: In British Columbia, where the NDP put in place the system of tenant protection they have there, it went from no regulation to the first step. In Ontario we are not there. We have evolved a system of rent control over a period of 20 years, and trying to go back to do what they've got in BC would be taking Ontario's standards and pushing them back quite a ways. In BC it was a step forward. Why? Because they didn't have anything. The BC government over there introduced tenant protection as the first step to try to deal with rent control, on a road to try to copy what has happened here in Ontario over 20 years. But this government and this minister of the Conservative government will try to make people believe that somehow that system will work in Ontario. You are kidding if you think that'll work in Ontario.

What will end up happening under tenant protection if you are a tenant and I am the landlord? The tenant comes to me and says: "It's the end of my lease and I need to renew. What is it, Mr and Mrs Landlord?" The landlord says: "You know, there are lots of people looking for this apartment. I think I can get another 10% on my rent." The tenant says: "Oh, I can't afford that, Mr Landlord. Let's see if we can work something out together." At the end of the process the tenant can't pay any extra, for whatever reason; the landlord says, "Too bad, so sad," the rent goes up 10%, and there's absolutely nothing you can do about it.

Yes, you can go through tenant protection legislation to some sort of arbitration board or hearings officer to plead your case, but the point will be that the landlord will have the hammer. The landlord will say: "Here is the cost of my apartment building. Look at the vacancy rate in my community. I can really rent this out to a whole bunch of people and I don't think it's unreasonable to push rents up by 10%." There will be absolutely nothing tenants will be able to do when it comes to that.

You're wrong in your direction. You're wrong for what you're doing. You should keep in place the present rent control system we have. It works. It has been in place for a number of years. It has served both tenants and landlords well in the province of Ontario. Your dismantling it only means to say we clearly know what side you're on. You're on the side of big business, you're on the side of those people who stand to make money by gouging tenants -- and I say it again -- gouging tenants for every penny they can.

On the last point, just before I wind down, I want to thank again my colleague the housing critic for the Liberal Party for having brought this resolution forward. I agree with him that we shouldn't allow partisan politics to get involved in this, but I wish you would have supported our legislation on rent control while we were in government and I wish you would have supported my resolution last fall that asked to do the same thing. But let bygones be bygones, Alvin. I am on side with you. We will vote with you because we believe that in the end what we need to do is come together and fight this government on the front of rent control.


The Deputy Speaker: I'd like to remind those guests in the gallery that clapping is a form of demonstration and we will not tolerate it.

I would like to bring to the attention of the members Ian Scott, a former member for St George-St David, in the west gallery.

Further debate?

Mr Derwyn Shea (High Park-Swansea): I rise now to respond to the comments made by the Liberals and the New Democratic Party. I am a little bemused. They have raised the word "may" to a whole new art level in politics. The government "may" do this; the government "may" do that. The fact is that no one has seen any legislation that would change the existing legislation right now. No one has seen it and yet there has been a policy of terrorizing tenants that this "may" happen, that "may" happen, a whole spectrum of opportunities that has not been brought forward, has not been put out for any discussion, indeed is not before this House for consideration right now. It's most unfortunate that tenants have been exercised the way they have so unfairly.

I want to remind the members, when they begin their lecture to the government, that it was a Progressive Conservative government that put rent controls in place in the first place. It was a Progressive Conservative government that recognized the needs of tenants in this municipality and in this province. I would like to see some understanding that this government truly understands the needs of its tenant population in this province.

I'm particularly shocked that my good friend the member for Scarborough North would bring forward this kind of motion, because it essentially says: "Let's do nothing. Everything that's in place right now is just fine. Let's do nothing with it." Let me suggest that's not quite what's happening in the real world. Take a look at rents, how they've been going up over the last 10 years. Let me, for example, ask you to consider what was happening to the tenants of Auburndale Court in Rexdale. In November 1990 they had to endure rent increases of 34%, at a time when inflation was in single digits. I believe the Liberal government was in power at that time. The residents of 221 Balliol in Toronto had to endure increases totalling over 52% between 1987 and 1990. Is that working? I don't think so.

Rents that keep escalating quickly -- that's not working. The fact is that at the same time the rents have been going up, the housing stock has been deteriorating, maintenance has not been properly attended to. Every tenant in this province knows how serious the building conditions are across the province. The fact is that we are now almost causing tenants to be held hostage in their own buildings. There is no choice. Housing stock is not being created. There is no place for tenants to go that they can move to as an alternative to where they're living now. That has got to be addressed. The current system doesn't address it.

Legislation is so confusing now, no one knows what it all means and how it applies to tenants, particularly for their protection; six pieces of legislation, I remind this House, that are so confused, that are so convoluted, it takes a host of lawyers to weave their way through it to try to find any resolution to landlord-tenant conflict. The fact is that has got to change. It costs us $28 million a year just to administer, $28 million that could better be applied to shelter allowances to help people genuinely in need in terms of seniors, in terms of the handicapped, who have difficulty meeting their payments right now in the housing units. That's the sort of thing we should be addressing.

I want to suggest that if that's what the member for Scarborough North thinks is working, that is not what the government thinks is working. It certainly is not working right now. That entire system is out of control and is not working to the advantage of the tenants. Let me suggest that there are a number of things we have to begin to address.

We have to be very certain that we address the entire issue of tenure for tenants. They have to be absolutely certain they have tenure in their buildings; that has got to be addressed. There must be no dramatic rent increases. No one can live with the threat that today their rent may be at one level and tomorrow it may be at a level that is perhaps 30% higher. You simply cannot live in that kind of circumstance.

There must be a quick, meaningful and effective appeal process. Right now, the legislation is so convoluted that no one knows how to weave their way through the appeal process to deal with landlords, or for landlords to deal with tenants. It has become too expensive, too ununderstandable. In many cases, people throw up their hands and they walk away, landlords and tenants alike, and that has to be addressed.

The building standards have got to be enforced far more effectively across our municipalities, and the building maintenance and safety have got to be improved across this province. The fact is that right now we have to address the issue of maintenance. It will not be long before we begin to see some horror stories of properties that are deteriorating physically, and that has got to be addressed. Tenants have a right to be protected from deteriorating circumstances.

The improvement of choice as well for the housing stock has got to be addressed. Tenants can't be held to ransom in their apartments now. They have to have an ability to be mobile across the province or across this municipality. They have to have an ability to choose from various rental stocks. Right now, that choice is simply not there for them.

The fact is that the legislation itself has got to be changed and the six pieces of legislation probably have to be reduced, have to be consolidated, put into very simple, clean language so everybody understands what it means and we can save those costs. I can tell you that while consideration is being given by the government how to improve the legislation, the first cardinal rule of this government is tenant protection. That is the first cardinal rule of this government.


The fact is that there also have to be greater housing choices through increased supply so renters don't have to feel as though they're being held ransom and hostage, strong protection from unfair rent increases with a streamlined administrative procedure that doesn't cost the tenant a fortune to access, an understandable and an effective process, improved apartment maintenance, safety and security has got to be addressed and, finally, government support through shelter allowances to those truly in need.

Those are the cardinal rules that are of concern to this government and in fact this government, as the previous Progressive Conservative governments did, will recognize the importance and the urgencies and the sensitivities that affect tenants in this province, and you can be certain that this government will respond effectively for tenant protection.

Mrs Lyn McLeod (Leader of the Opposition): I rise in full support of the resolution put forward by my colleague Mr Curling. I'm glad the member for High Park-Swansea recalled that it was in fact a Conservative government that first introduced rent controls, I believe back in 1973. He fails to mention, however, the reasons why a Conservative government believed that rent controls were necessary, because there was a low vacancy rate, because the rental stock was being depleted and was deteriorating at a rapid rate, and their only answer was to bring in rent controls. They thought it might be temporary, I acknowledge that. It wasn't temporary because the rent controls were needed then and are still needed now.

The Conservatives now want to say rent control isn't working. The fact is the marketplace wasn't working and that's why rent controls were introduced and that's why rent controls are still needed.

Yet it was just two weeks ago in Stoney Creek that the Premier, Mike Harris, still said, "The market works better than any government plan." That might be the Premier's theory and it might be the wishful thinking of those who want to let the market simply rein free, but it is not reality. The marketplace was not working to provide affordable housing for tenants and it was particularly not working in the Metro Toronto area. It still will not work.

So where would the affordable rental stock come from when in Metro Toronto there is so little land to build on? Where would the incentive be for the private sector in this large urban area to provide affordable rental housing when there is still clearly a market demand for high-priced, high-end housing and where clearly the profits to be made by developers are in the building of high-end, high-priced housing?

The idea that removing rent controls will lead to new building and higher vacancy rates and lower rents is not only untested, it is very, very long term. And what happens to rents in existing buildings in the meantime while this theory is put to the test? Without any question at all, rents will skyrocket to levels that people simply cannot afford and that is what is unacceptable.

There is absolutely no question in my mind about what this Conservative government plans to do. They are planning to abandon rent control, and don't let there be any doubt about that. If there's any doubt about that, I just refer you to quotations from the Minister of Housing who has said, "Marketplace rent control will take the sledgehammer out of the hands of tenants." That does not sound like a tenant protection policy to me.

In answer to the questions that I was asking in the Legislature earlier this week, the Minister of Housing got quite exercised and said, "I think the Liberal Party and the NDP are the only people in the world who are in favour of rent control." Yes, we are in favour of rent control, and it is clear that this Conservative government is not.

But they're not ready to acknowledge publicly that they're going to abandon rent control so they're talking about alternatives, like simply taking the back-door approach where tenants will lose their rent protection if they move, and will therefore be forced to stay as prisoners in their rental accommodations in their apartments while landlords look for every possible means to evict them, including letting the quality of that housing deteriorate.

The member for High Park-Swansea says: "This is all just rumour. It's just a `may.'" With this government it is clear that today's rumour is tomorrow's reality and that nothing has been decided until the decisions have been made and it's too late for the people who are affected to have any say about it at all.

Now the member for High Park-Swansea says, "Well, we do have another alternative, and the alternative is shelter allowances." Let's put this one to rest once and for all. If this government thinks shelter allowances are a way of providing affordable housing, they've got to know that providing shelter allowances at a level that would be required to ensure that people could afford decent housing would bankrupt the government. There is no way they're looking at shelter allowances as anything but a copout as they abandon a rent control program.

That is why we are solidly in support of the resolution put forward by Mr Curling. We stated clearly and in writing during the election campaign that we supported rent controls, that we would not abandon rent controls, that we believe they are an important part of an affordable housing policy. I only wish this government had any affordable housing policy. In its absence, we can only plead with them to retain rent controls as they look towards some means of ensuring that housing is affordable to people in this province.

Ms Marilyn Churley (Riverdale): I would like to start by acknowledging the presence of some of my previous colleagues and some newer colleagues at city hall. We have with us today Kyle Rae, Kay Gardner, Michael Walker, Howard Joy and Pam McConnell; not in any particular order of favouritism here -- that's the way they're seated. I'm very happy to see all those members from city council here today because they have shown leadership in our community on rent control and tenant issues for many years. I know that Kay Gardner and Michael Walker, when I sat with them on city council, were leaders in the tenant movement and I, as a new city councillor, learned a lot from them.

When I was elected in 1988 to the Toronto city council for ward 8, I had some tenants -- not as many as some of my colleagues had -- but I know at that time the tenants in the riding of Riverdale, ward 8, were getting double-digit increases, some up to 30%, up to 50%, and if something was not done, they were going to have to leave the premises.

I learned how to organize from some of the members here today. Now I'm working with Peter Tabuns and Jack Layton, who are city and Metro councillors in my area, organizing again with tenants who, after the new legislation that our government brought in, I think got a little relaxed. I know some of the members here today were hoping that our new legislation under the NDP government would go even further. I know there was some disappointment at the time, because of the recession, that there would be less than the 3% rent increases allowed at that time. I still think we had some work to do, but the legislation our government brought in was the toughest ever, and it was part of an evolution in Ontario over the years that was brought about by people like the councillors who are here today and tenant activists. They have worked long and hard for 20 years or more to get proper protection for tenants in the province of Ontario.

What we see today when we hear somebody like the member for High Park-Swansea talking about, "Oh, yes, we believe in rent control; we will keep rent control; we'll make sure tenants are supported," I say to him, I don't know how many tenants he has in his riding, but I can say to the members here, if they care about some of their Metro-area MPPs getting re-elected, they might look at what they're going to do with rent control very carefully.

In particular, I would say that to the member for Eglinton, who defeated Dianne Poole, a Liberal member here who was a very strong tenant activist. I heard Mr Saunderson on TV talking about, "Oh, we're going to make it better for tenants." That's what he said during debates. He won that election, and the people in his riding -- there's a very high tenant population -- are expecting better protection for them, because that is what he said. What we think this government is going to be doing is the exact opposite.

When I hear the Tory members say that one of the biggest problems we have with rent control is that it's a disincentive for people to build new buildings, I am shocked. That is ideology; that's not based on fact. I suggest to this government that it look at the evidence and the statistics that already exist. In other jurisdictions where there is no rent control or very little rent control, they have the very same problems with building new housing stock in those jurisdictions. That is not the answer.


Certainly pulling out of providing and being in partnership with community groups and others to provide other kinds of affordable social housing is a disgrace. When you have this silly, unproven theory that getting out of rent control is actually going to increase the housing stock, it is not only shocking, it is downright frightening.

Tenants are afraid in this province for a very good reason. They are afraid because we've been going through a recession for a number of years. There are many people living in apartment buildings in my area who can only afford a zero per cent increase. They are terrified about what this Tory government is going to do. They really are.

I would ask the members of this government to sit down and look at the statistics, look at the existing evidence and change the direction of their thinking, because if they don't, we are going to have a housing crisis in this province, and I'm particularly concerned about the Metro Toronto area where there aren't a lot of choices. We're going to have a housing crisis that this province has never seen before and it is going to be on their heads.

I urge the government today to support this resolution. I'm supporting it a bit reluctantly because I'd like it to be stronger than it is. I know that the wording of the housing critic from my caucus, his private member's bill very clearly supported the House endorsing the present rent control system which our government brought in.

I realize that the Liberals wanted to and said in the election that they'd like to take a look at that and I believe that's the thrust of the resolution, that you're strongly in support of rent control but would like to see other ways of going about it. But I'm glad that the resolution is here and that it's a very clear statement that the Liberal Party also supports rent control.

I urge all members to support this resolution.

Mr Ron Johnson (Brantford): I rise to offer a few of my comments with respect to the motion from the member for Scarborough North, which surprisingly enough calls on this government to rescind its promise to restore fairness and balance to Ontario's rental housing market. The member from Scarborough should know by now of course that when this government makes a promise, it certainly intends to keep it.

First of all, the member's resolution is based on inaccurate assumptions and statements, namely, that we plan to gut rent control and, second, that we are not working with tenants to ensure their rights will be protected.

We recognize that tenants need protection from unfair rent increases. We recognize the difficulties many would face if they were not protected in some form, especially at a time when many people are facing incomes which have been frozen or sometimes reduced. For every landlord group that the minister has met with so far, he has had similar meetings with representatives of tenants' groups, so I would suggest that when Mr Curling implies that we are not consulting with tenants, he is simply wrong.

At the root of the problem is a very simple economic equation of supply and demand. Rent control, which costs Ontario taxpayers today approximately $18 million a year just to administer, simply doesn't work well. It was introduced in 1975 with good intentions and, contrary to what the member for Scarborough North says, it has not been improved. In fact lately, through actions of previous governments, it has only been made worse and simply doesn't adequately serve the needs of either tenants or landlords.

Combined with the problems of how rental units are assessed and taxed by municipalities, rent control has led to a drying up of the rental housing market. Nobody simply wants to build any rental housing units any more because there are better areas to invest in.

At present, the vacancy rate in Toronto is 0.8% and falling. I think even the Toronto Star, that great bastion of Tory support and the great defender of conservatism, predicted back in February that the apartment vacancy rate in the GTA was forecast to drop to 0.5% this year.

So what does all this mean? It means that without substantial and swift changes we are facing a rental housing crisis in which the landlords hold all the cards and the tenants have few options. It comes back to that simple supply and demand equation: As supply goes down, demand and price go up. Last year only 25 private sector rental units were built in Toronto. Forecasts for the future of the rental market in the current situation are just as bleak.

For tenants, no change means no choice. Their buildings get more and more run down while at the same time, with no new apartment buildings being built, they have fewer choices about where they live and are forced to pay what landlords demand.

The challenge we face as a government is how to fix the broken rent control system. I should point out that even Mr Curling does not dispute that there are problems with rent control. In an appearance before the estimates committee on February 8, in criticizing our policy -- which I don't understand, because he hasn't seen it yet; no details have been released -- Mr Curling admitted his own failure as Minister of Housing during the Peterson government to correct a system in bad need of repair.

He referred to the Minister of Municipal Affairs and Housing as "the second-largest landlord in North America," and said at that meeting: "As a landlord, you have failed. As a landlord, when I was there, I failed. As a landlord, as the Minister of Housing, as we go through, we fail. We have not brought decent and affordable housing to the people of this province and we must fix that. So I commend you to looking with respect to fixing the rental housing aspect in our province." It's amazing how times change.

The challenge that we face is to fix the current broken system by replacing it with a new system that protects the rights of tenants while at the same time encouraging developers to start building again in the rental housing market.

The solution lies in striking a balance between the interests of tenants, landlords and developers, and that is exactly what we are doing. We are looking at a number of options for new legislation that will protect tenants specifically from unfair rent increases and arbitrary evictions. We're looking as well at improving building maintenance and getting tough on landlords who don't take care of their buildings; producing a climate where people will invest in rental real estate again; and options which will streamline administration and cut red tape, be cheaper, faster and more fair.

If the member for Scarborough North is confused by those objectives, then I apologize. We simply can't be any clearer. How those objectives are going to be met will be announced by the minister at a later date. To suggest at this time that we are failing in our objective to fix rent control is premature and speculative at best, since the honourable member obviously has not had the opportunity to review any legislation, much less comment on it.

The best protection for tenants is to ensure a healthy supply of rental housing. When tenants have more of a choice of where to live, that forces landlords to be competitive with their rents.

I would like to quote an editorial from the Globe and Mail of February 6, 1996: "Rent control has been a dismal failure. It should be ended."

On the question of unfair taxation, in the same editorial they ask: "How will potential investors react when they realize that the GST on home builders is 4%, on non-profit builders is 3.5%, but on apartment builders the full 7%? Metro Toronto's tax assessments even more markedly, and illogically, favour single-family housing over apartment buildings. Apartment buildings are assessed as businesses, and pay property tax at a ratio four to five times that of homeowners. These extra tax burdens must of course be passed on to tenants -- and must be considered by anyone planning to build rental housing."

In his motion Mr Curling also referred to the cancellation of some 385 non-profit housing projects last July. But what he didn't mention is that his own Liberal red book promised as well to place a moratorium on non-profit allocations and review the effectiveness and management of the program. Again, how things can change in a few short months.

As we promised, we are looking into the possibility of introducing a shelter allowance subsidy program for those most in need rather than continue to spend $1 billion a year in the bricks-and-mortar industry.

As far as landlord-tenant disputes go, we are looking at putting in place an administrative tribunal that would adjudicate landlord-and-tenant issues outside of the courts.

The measures I have talked about represent the first meaningful attempts -- despite what Mr Curling claims today and in his own past has admitted his own failure to take on these issues -- in many years to build up the rental housing industry into something once again which will benefit both tenants and of course those who provide rental housing units. It's time that the government got out of the bricks-and-mortar industry and let the market take care of itself.


Mr Colle: I think this government has been very categorical about one thing: They don't believe in regulation -- they say that over and over again -- they don't believe in controls; they don't believe that government has a place in the housing business. They've said that. Therefore you're really saying that you're going to get out of protecting tenants and you're going to dismantle a system that isn't perfect but helps to protect tenants.

This government has a habit, any time tenants' organizations meet and deal with this concern over rental protection or when the city of Toronto called the meeting about protecting tenants -- they call that fearmongering. That's what they always say. You wonder why tenants across this province are afraid when in their own Common Sense Bible they say, "We will also direct the Ontario Realty Corp to develop a plan to sell the more than 84,000 units owned by the Ontario Housing Corp." This is why people are afraid; this government is basically dedicated to dismantling tenant protection and getting out of the business of providing public housing.

The city of Toronto has shown leadership on it. They have spent $250,000 on protecting tenants because they know what this government is planning. That's why that night, when the city of Toronto held its meeting, over 1,500 concerned taxpayers from all parties were saying they are afraid of what this government is going to do to them. Oddly enough, that day there wasn't one Tory MPP at that meeting to speak on behalf of tenants.

It's interesting to note that when they first got elected, the Minister of Housing and the Premier boasted that they were going to gut rent control. Every time they spoke to landlords and builders they said: "Watch us. We are going to get rid of rent control. It doesn't work." Now that they are approaching the by-election in York South, they're backpedalling and softpedalling that issue.

It's interesting to note also that when the city of Toronto resolution went to the city of York supporting rent control, the candidate in York South, Rob Davis, voted against the resolution. That is a very interesting bit of news for the people of York South.

All over Metro, people should be saying to this government, "Mike Harris, keep your hands off our homes." The people in York South next Thursday will be saying the same thing: "Mike Harris, keep your hands off our homes, especially when we're unemployed or our incomes have been cut with your cuts. Don't just feed big business and landlords. Protect seniors and those on fixed incomes who live in apartment homes."

Mr Bernard Grandmaître (Ottawa East): I will be supporting Mr Curling's resolution for a number of reasons. I want to tell you what's happening in my own riding of Ottawa East. With not only your permission, Mr Speaker, I will address it in French because only last week I had a meeting with a number of groups of people, who are very concerned about rent controls and the abolishment of rent controls in my riding.

Le gouvernement conservateur de l'Ontario met une peur dans la Révolution du bon sens en annonçant qu'on allait raser 86 000 unités de logements présentement subventionnés et abolir le contrôle des loyers. Dans mon comté, 65 % de mes commettants sont des locataires. Alors, imaginez la peur qu'ont ces gens -- des personnes âgées, des personnes qui vivent avec une petite pension -- de se faire mettre sur le trottoir, de se faire déplacer du jour au lendemain. J'ai rencontré ces gens pour tenter d'assurer que le gouvernement de l'Ontario ait un plan pour remplacer le contrôle des loyers. Par contre, on attend avec impatience le plan du ministre des Affaires municipales et responsable du logement en Ontario.

Ce matin, lorsque j'entends mon collègue de High Park-Swansea et le député de Brantford, là on commence à voir une lueur. On commence a connaître les intentions du gouvernement. On veut simplement abolir, mettre de côté ce plan qui n'est pas parfait. Le contrôle des loyers n'est pas parfait. Je crois que M. Curling l'a admis. Tout le monde l'admet, mais il faut trouver une autre façon d'améliorer le système. Mettre de côté complètement le contrôle des loyers n'est pas la solution.

Je connais les intentions de mon collègue de Scarborough-Nord, qui a travaillé d'arrache-pied, surtout lorsqu'il était le ministre, pour améliorer la situation. Aujourd'hui le gouvernement tente de dire à M. Curling, «Vous avez raté votre chance lorsque vous étiez ministre responsable du logement et maintenant c'est à notre tour de changer, d'améliorer le système.»

J'encourage le gouvernement de nous présenter ce plan le plus tôt possible et d'éliminer les rumeurs, parce que ce qu'ils sèment présentement fait peur, avec raison, à tout le monde en Ontario, surtout aux personnes âgées, surtout aux familles qui ont un revenu faible.

J'encourage le gouvernement à cesser les rumeurs et à présenter un plan qui sera acceptable pour ceux qui veulent que la régie des loyers continue, pour ceux qui veulent contrôler les loyers en Ontario.

Mr John Gerretsen (Kingston and The Islands): I would like first of all to deal with something the member across the way said when he talked about the fact that there's no rental stock being built right now in the province of Ontario. He suggests that somehow, if the rents remained the same, they wouldn't go up as a result of there not being any housing built in the province of Ontario. Of course, he's dead wrong. The reason that developers want rent controls off is so they can build more units and charge whatever they want for those units.

I would like to appeal to members of this House to look at it each within their own riding. We all represent either a large number of tenants or a small number of tenants. Anywhere from I suppose 10% in the more rural ridings to over 60% or 70% of the people who live in our ridings are tenants.

Those people right now live with a tremendous amount of uncertainty. We've already heard about the uncertainty of people living in public housing. As a result of comments the minister has made over and over again that the government should get out of the housing business, we have received petition after petition and urgent call after urgent call from seniors and from families across this province saying: "What's going to happen? Am I going to lose my unit?" Exactly the same thing is happening across the province with tenants who live in private accommodation.

I would like each one of us to examine our own situation and clearly understand that we represent these people as well. We don't just represent the developers, we don't just represent the private homeowners; we represent tenants in our own ridings. I would urge the Conservative members to remember that.

If there is a way you can improve the system, then do something about the fact that it takes many rent control officers in this province up to a year to make decisions on some matters that are put before them, and that is totally unacceptable both from a tenant and from a landlord viewpoint. To that extent, I totally agree that we have to do something about the system.

We cannot simply take the kind of situation the Minister of Housing suggests when he states, as my leader stated earlier, that market-controlled rent will take the sledgehammer out of the hands of tenants. That kind of statement can only have one interpretation, and that interpretation is that, as far as this government is concerned, tenants seem to have all the power and landlords have none at all, and we all know that's absolute nonsense.

We also know that when British Columbia abolished rent controls, the availability of housing remained static. A recent study at McMaster University has also concluded that rent controls have little effect on the supply or the sale price of private sector rental housing.

Support this resolution. Let the tenants of Ontario know exactly where you stand on it so that they can have some certainty in their lives as well.


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

Mr Curling: In my two minutes I'd just like to make some quick comments, especially to the member for High Park-Swansea and the member for Brantford. I want them to stare right in the face of their tenants when they go back to their constituencies and tell them that it is their government that has declared war on the people of Ontario. It is their government that has declared war on the most vulnerable people in our society, especially those who can't afford the kind of rates that are being paid in rental units today. It is their government that cancelled the non-profit projects that were targeted to the most vulnerable people in our society. It is their government that wants to sell off the 86,000 units that are owned by Ontario Housing.

Let me correct the record now --


Mr Curling: Let me correct the record while you rant in your little place there, and I hope you learn something from this. We as landlords, the government that was managing 86,000 non-profit housing units, were terrible landlords. The conditions weren't good. Those are the ones we're talking about and that's why we said that, as a landlord, we as a government have failed.

We also have moved, very much so, from 1975, when the Tory government introduced rent control, and have improved upon it. What we have in place today is good. Of course anything can be improved. But the fact is, to destroy it now and talk about putting in shelter allowances and getting rid of rent control is the wrong way to go. Don't play political football with the tenants. It's their home.

Don't play with the shelter allowance. We know your plan. You want to reduce the shelter allowance level at the lower rate, more or less, fighting tenants to negotiate with landlords, whom you have already negotiated with in order to make their deal. The fact is, they are the ones who immediately cut off money for social welfare.

I ask them to support this resolution. Come to your senses somehow and support this resolution. It's the resolution that will put you in good stead with the people of Ontario.

The Deputy Speaker: The member's time has expired.

Mr Curling: Mr Speaker, I'm sure you agree with that too.

The Deputy Speaker: I'd like to bring to the members' attention Gary Malkowski, former member for York East.


Mrs Boyd moved private member's notice of motion number 18:

That in the opinion of this House, since persons with disabilities in Ontario face systemic barriers in access to employment, services, goods, facilities and accommodation; and

Since all Ontarians will benefit by the removal of these barriers, thereby enabling these persons to enjoy equal opportunity and full participation in the life of the province;

Therefore, the government of Ontario should keep its promise as set out in the letter from Michael D. Harris to the Ontarians with Disabilities Act Committee, dated May 24, 1995, to:

(a) enact an Ontarians with Disabilities Act within its current term of office; and

(b) work together with members of the Ontarians with Disabilities Act Committee, among others, in the development of such legislation.


The Deputy Speaker (Mr Bert Johnson): I'd like to remind once again that the guests in the gallery are not allowed to demonstrate, and that includes clapping. We'll not tolerate it.


The Deputy Speaker: I remind the members that I would appreciate your attention.

Mrs Boyd has moved ballot item number 30, private member's notice of motion number 18. Mrs Boyd?

Mrs Marion Boyd (London Centre): I want to begin the debate by reading into Hansard the letter that was mentioned in the resolution. It says:

"Dear Mr Baker" -- who is a member of the Ontarians with Disabilities Act Committee --

"Thank you for your most recent correspondence dated May 3, 1995, concerning the proposed Ontarians with Disabilities Act.

"As I indicated to you in my response of May 11, 1995, to the Advocacy Resource Centre for the Handicapped questionnaire, a Harris government would be willing to enact an Ontario with Disabilities Act in the first term of office within the economic goalposts of the Common Sense Revolution.

"The accommodation issue is often the stumbling block when it comes to financing access to post-secondary institutions, transportation, government publications, training programs and communications. We hope, through cost efficiencies achieved in other areas of government, to direct much-needed funding to accommodation.

"I would be pleased to work together with your committee in the development of such legislation."

Today all members in this House have an opportunity to ensure that the government's promise becomes reality.

Why is an Ontarians with Disabilities Act essential? Persons with disabilities are a large yet severely disadvantaged group in our society, comprising at least 15% of the population. Disabled people experience massive unemployment rates far in excess of national and provincial levels. Because so many doors are closed to them, disabled people are grossly overrepresented among those receiving social assistance.

Those of us fortunate enough to be without disabilities take many things for granted: the right to go to our local school; to attend post-secondary institutions; the right to use public transportation, to travel in buses, trains and airplanes; the right to communicate with and to attend at the place of national, provincial, regional and local government; the right to seek and be considered fairly for a job; the right to access and use services, facilities and goods which are offered to the public, just to name a few. Persons with disabilities all too frequently are prevented from enjoying these rights.

The problems confronting persons with disabilities are not just the product of old barriers resulting from the uninformed decisions made years, decades ago by those who designed our institutions, facilities and services. Many of the worst barriers are very recent and they could have been avoided with foresight and commitment to accessibility.

The most obvious example is the proliferation of computer products which could easily be adapted to serve users who are blind, mobility-impaired, dyslexic and otherwise disabled. The technology gap the Minister of Education and Training has identified between users and non-users of computers is equally being created by the mainstream computer industry even as we speak by their failure to adapt hardware and software appropriately.

During these days when governments seem obsessed by budget cuts and government downsizing, persons with disabilities have been among the first and most seriously affected victims. This government has taken many steps which further disadvantage the disabled: They repealed the Employment Equity Act; they repealed the Advocacy Act; they charge user fees for drug benefit prescriptions; they cut funding to municipal parallel transit for persons with disabilities and then tried to blame the municipalities for their cut; they threatened to weaken the building code obligations to make new and renovated buildings accessible; and they cut funding to education, which puts those in special need in special disadvantaged positions.

But what, we must ask, is the cost to our society when we exclude disabled people from full participation in our community? The price is high, it is avoidable and it is one that we will all pay sooner or later. The major costs are human costs. All around us today are many talented people who happen to have disabilities. Some have been able to overcome the numerous barriers they face through their own effort, resourcefulness, family and community support. We all honour their accomplishment, but we must not laud them as superstars or be misled into believing that by their success our society is barrier-free, because also in our midst are many others who also have enormous talent to offer but who, because of the barriers they encounter, have never had the chance to shine.

These citizens slam up against public transit systems they cannot use, buildings they cannot enter, schools whose teachers don't know how to teach them, documents they cannot read and, worst of all, the stereotypical and exclusionary attitudes of many employers, service providers and government officials which continue to prevent people with disabilities from full access to jobs and other mainstream opportunities that the majority take for granted.

Even those who are more concerned about dollars than human costs have to admit that the cost of excluding the disabled from mainstream Ontario is enormous and is growing fast. We pay that cost every time a person with a disability is denied an education or a job and is driven to rely on social assistance. We pay the cost every time we buy an inaccessible bus which drives up the demand for the more expensive and less effective parallel transit systems. We pay every time an aging person ceases to be active and self-sufficient in our community, and aging is the most common cause of disability. There will be a greater proportion of persons with disabilities in the year 2000 than ever in recent history.


We must act now to dismantle existing barriers and prevent others from being raised. Existing laws to protect the rights of the disabled have not succeeded in breaking down barriers. Equality rights in the Ontario Human Rights Code since 1982 and the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms since 1985 are important legal rights, but we know from long and bitter experience that they have not proved to be a total solution.

The time for action is now. Ontario must set an important and valuable lead in achieving a barrier-free society for persons with disabilities by the year 2000. The government must keep Mike Harris's promise to bring forward an Ontarians with Disabilities Act and to do so in close consultation with the coalition of people and organizations dedicated to this task. This House should know that despite his promise, as yet Mr Harris has refused to meet with the committee, and so has his Minister of Citizenship. I notice that the minister and her parliamentary assistant are not with us today, and I think that's shameful, because this is their responsibility.

We have lots of people with us today who are intimately concerned about this issue, and we must remember that those people do not have access to --

Mr John R. Baird (Nepean): On a point of order, Mr Speaker: The honourable member opposite is in her second term. She knows it is against the rules of this place to refer to the absence of an honourable member, and she's done it on two --

The Acting Speaker (Mr Gilles E. Morin): I must admit that I didn't pay attention, but if this is the case, you're not supposed to do that.

Mrs Boyd: My apologies, Mr Speaker.

These people who came to be with us today, many of whom could not get into the chamber, are currently watching this debate on television in rooms elsewhere in this building. There are more than 50 people who could not get access to this building. You will see that there is space for only four wheelchairs. This is not appropriate. This is the kind of thing we need to stop.

The development and passage of an Ontarians with Disabilities Act is not a right- or left-wing issue; it is an issue which should be above partisan politics. One need not be a champion of civil rights to pass such a bill. After all, George Bush, the Republican President of the United States, passed exactly such a bill there in 1990.

Even those whose ideology opposes government regulation of the economy in most areas agree that government must intervene when the marketplace fails or has itself created a serious problem, and as people with disabilities will attest, the marketplace for jobs, goods, services and facilities has not served this substantial portion of our society.

Each of us here either has a disability ourselves or has the opportunity to look forward to when we may have a disability in the future, each of us has someone near to us who has a disability and each of us has constituents who look to us to serve their needs and their best interests. Therefore, it should be easy for us as a Legislature to pass this resolution in favour of going forward with an Ontarians with Disabilities Act. This is not the act itself; this is a plea to the government to keep its promise, to work with the committee that has been organized from a coalition of individuals and groups to form the kind of legislation that will be acceptable.

The Leader of the Opposition, the Premier himself and certainly our party believe that the time is now for all of us to join together and show those with disabilities in our community that we truly honour them, we respect them, we welcome them to be part of a full life in this province. We have a rare opportunity today to make that promise come true.


The Acting Speaker: I would like to remind the people in the gallery that you're not supposed to clap.

Mrs Helen Johns (Huron): It is a pleasure for me to address this House today on the issue raised by my honourable colleague the member for London Centre. I would like to comment on this resolution presented by the honourable member. I have no problem with the intent of this member's resolution; I have a difficulty, however, with the content and the wording chosen by her and what she implies in her speech that she has just given us. She implies that this government has done nothing to reduce the systematic barriers in access for disabled people.

Mr Dominic Agostino (Hamilton East): Destroy the system.

The Acting Speaker: Order. Interjections are not allowed. She has the floor.

Mr Floyd Laughren (Nickel Belt): Tell her to stop being provocative.

Mr Tony Martin (Sault Ste Marie): Tell her to be honest.

The Acting Speaker: Order. You're wasting your time. The member for Huron.

Mr Len Wood (Cochrane North): Get her to tell the truth.

The Acting Speaker: Order. The member for Cochrane North, I want you to withdraw that remark.

Mr Len Wood: I withdraw.

The Acting Speaker: The member for Huron.

Mrs Johns: Let me just remind you what was said during the campaign. I am quoting from the ARCH TYPE May-June survey of three political parties. This is what our party said:

"A Harris government would be willing to enact an Ontarians with Disabilities Act within the first term of office within the economic goalposts of the Common Sense Revolution. The accommodation issue is often the stumbling block when it comes to access to post-secondary institutions, transportation, government publications, training programs and communications. We hope, through cost efficiencies achieved in other areas of government, to direct much-needed funding to accommodation."

The Harris government is committed to the interests and dignity of persons with disabilities and is sensitive to the challenges they face both in the workplace and in society as a whole. The challenges faced by the disabled community are being addressed by this government, and they are being addressed through a number of initiatives and will continue to be addressed through our term. These aims can and will be achieved within the economic goalposts of the Common Sense Revolution.

I would like to share with the House information on the recent initiatives taken by this government, and my colleague the member for Nepean will share with you information pertaining to initiatives coming from the Ministry of Citizenship, Culture and Recreation. As work in these areas progresses, we will continue to encourage input from all interested parties on how to effectively address the concerns of persons with disabilities.

If I may have the indulgence of my honourable colleagues, I would like to list some of the recent actions taken by the ministry I'm associated with, the Ministry of Health. These initiatives, combined with the actions taken by the Ministry of Citizenship, Culture and Recreation, contribute to and encourage the dignity and autonomy of disabled people.

In the budget we announced $170 million this year to provide in-home care, longer-term care that we are reinvesting in to provide seniors and disabled people with care in their homes instead of in institutions. This means an additional 80,000 people in communities across the province will receive services such as in-home nursing care, housekeeping and meal programs.

I have a specific example to share with you. In Sault Ste Marie, an additional $200,000 will be pumped into the system. With this, the community decided that they would like to have 12 more people with disabilities able to find housing. They will live independently within the community with these dollars. Dollars are being allocated from the community to disabled people.

Reforms to Ontario's long-term-care system will simplify access, preserve existing community-based organizations and reduce administration through the establishment of the community care access centres.


At the present time, 70 people with disabilities are currently participating in a pilot project to test the option of receiving direct cash payments to recruit, manage and pay for their attendant care services. I have met with some of the people who are in this pilot project during the focus groups that I set up for long-term care.

We have invested $25 million in dialysis machines. We announced $23.5 million to enhance community-based mental health services. We've reinvested to get our people with acquired brain injury home. And we will provide $10 million this year, and it will grow to $20 million, to expand services for preschool children with speech and language disorders.

The government's commitment to the interests and dignity of persons with disabilities is not restricted just to the Ministry of Health. There are a number of other actions being taken across other ministries.

The Ministry of Housing remains committed to an Ontario building code that provides for full accessibility.

At the Ministry of Transportation, funding to municipalities for specialized transit services for people with disabilities will remain at the current levels for the next two years. Fully accessible conventional transit services is part of the ministry's "family of services" concept of services for people with special transportation needs. This includes specialized transit, community buses and accessible taxis, and it will be achieved in an efficient and fiscally responsible manner.

In reforming the welfare system, we have protected income support for seniors and people with disabilities. The government in its budget has announced plans to move seniors and people with disabilities off welfare and on to an Ontario guaranteed support plan that meets their needs, respects their dignity and continues to protect their benefits.

Mr Agostino: When? When are you going to do it?

The Acting Speaker: The member for Hamilton East, order, please.

Mrs Johns: At the Ministry of Education, incentive funding to colleges and universities is provided to assist them in meeting their legal obligations to accommodate the needs of students with disabilities, and this funding will be maintained at its current level.

It is mandatory for school boards to provide or purchase from other boards special education programs and services for students with exceptional needs.

Lastly, as part of the ministry's contribution to the equal opportunity plan, which the member for Nepean will discuss in further detail, MET will soon be releasing policy statements on workplace equal opportunity and anti-discrimination education to school boards, colleges and universities.

So indeed, this government is showing its commitment to people with disabilities. As we move forward with work in these areas, we will continue to encourage input from all interested parties on how to effectively address the concerns of people with disabilities.

Mr Agostino: I rise in support of the resolution of the member for London Centre. I'm somewhat surprised that the member on the government side of the House would actually talk of the accomplishments this government has made in relation to the disabled community. Maybe I can outline some of those accomplishments.

The first thing this government did was cut 5% of all agencies across this province that deal with the disabled community: the Canadian Paraplegic Association, the Canadian Deaf-Blind Association, the Ontario March of Dimes, the Canadian Hearing Society, the CNIB, and the list goes on and on.

Then they cut funding to municipalities, which impacted transit: Wheel-Trans in Toronto, DARTS in Hamilton.

Then they decided they were going to cut welfare benefits, and they promised they were going to protect seniors and disabled. My colleague across the floor just spoke of that commitment. Let me remind my colleague that as of the end of March there were still 12,438 seniors and disabled receiving a reduced welfare rate when you promised in the Common Sense Revolution you were going to move them to a protected category. You have failed to do so. It's almost been a year and you still have over 12,000 seniors and disabled who have had their benefits cut when you promised you weren't going to do that. That's the commitment this government's talking about.

We're now talking about redefining "disability." That's a great buzzword for saying, "We're going to find a way of ensuring that less people are eligible for disability benefits across Ontario, and we'll move those individuals to the welfare system as well," so they can get less benefits and the government can save more money. I can tell you that's what it will mean. When the redefinition of "disability" comes down, you will see a definition that will limit in scope, in magnitude, the number of people who receive disability benefits in Ontario, and that will be a smaller number than it is today.

In regard to this resolution, what we're talking about here today is simply an opportunity for the government to act, to do what it said during the election it was going to do. It's not a question of special rights, it's not a question of special privileges, there's a question of equal access and equal opportunity. The Ontarians with Disabilities Act would ensure that by the year 2000 we will have a truly barrier-free province in every aspect.

In my own community of Hamilton-Wentworth, a great deal of work has been done. We've had the advisory committee on the physically disabled, headed by Councillor Geraldine Copps, who is here with us today -- and many of the members of the committee are here in the gallery -- which over the years, for a very small amount of dollars but a great deal of work and dedication and commitment, has made tremendous strides and tremendous progress in Hamilton-Wentworth in removing many of the barriers that exist in our community. Much has been done; a great deal more has to occur.

My father spent 23 years in a wheelchair as a result of an industrial accident, so I know at first hand the barriers, I know at first hand the difficulties, I know at first hand the struggles that many individuals have to go through. What this act is simply asking is for the government to move to ensure that the barriers that are there in education, in job training, in access to government information, in communications, in transportation, in goods and services and facilities, are removed. It is a simple question of equality. It is a simple question of acting on a commitment that was made.

The disabled community doesn't need to be patronized, doesn't need to be patted on the head and made to feel good, doesn't need wonderful words to tell them how wonderful they are. What the community needs is action. You are the government. You have the power to act, and within the mandate. My fear is that if you wait and you wait and you wait and you introduce some wonderful action in 1999, or some response to this three or four years from now, the time will run short. The goal of a truly barrier-free province by the year 2000 will not be met, because you can't do that kind of change in a year. You can't make those types of changes in six months.

I urge the government to act today on its commitment. The commitment is clear, it's unequivocal, and the one way we can get that ball rolling today -- I know the two opposition parties are going to support this resolution -- is to have the government members support the resolution. This is a free vote. This is an opportunity for you to move away from the clutches and the restraints of government and cabinet and speak out on behalf of your constituents and send a clear message to the Premier and to the cabinet that we want to ensure that the Ontarians with Disabilities Act is proclaimed and moved upon very quickly.

I urge government members to support this. You will be sending the best signal that any of us in the House can send today by supporting this resolution and not doing what is necessarily feel good, not doing what is necessarily special or different, but doing what is right and what is equal and what is necessary in this province.

Mr David Christopherson (Hamilton Centre): I want to take just a moment before our critic, the member for Fort York, expands on our position on this issue. Like my colleague for Hamilton East, I wish to recognize the work that's been done in our community of Hamilton-Wentworth and particularly to note that my former seatmate, Alderman Geraldine Copps, is here today, who, for all the time that I have known her, has devoted the majority of her effort in the interests of helping the disabled in our community. I'm pleased to see that she's here today to represent Hamilton-Wentworth and to be a part of this important issue.

I want to say very directly to the government that the most vulnerable people in this province are, first of all, the ones you've gone after first, the ones you've gone after the hardest, and they're the most frightened in this province. The government ought to believe it; people are frightened. Your agenda hurts people. Your agenda denies people hope. It denies people an opportunity to have a decent standard of living and a decent quality of life. Here's an issue that you ran on. One of your promises was that you would do something about this issue. If this government is going to hide behind weasel words like economic goalposts, then this is nothing more than a blatant broken promise.

The very least this government can do for the disabled, if they won't advance their cause, at the very least, keep your one promise to the most vulnerable you made in this society and do something in this area. Show you have at least a drop of human compassion because, quite frankly, there are millions of Ontarians who are convinced you don't care about them at all, and there's growing evidence that is the case.

I look to my colleague from Fort York and I thank my colleague from London Centre for raising this issue, but it's the government that has the responsibility, morally, legally and ethically, and we call on them to keep that commitment.



The Acting Speaker: Order. I would like to remind the people in the gallery that you're not allowed to applaud; only the members on the floor, not the members in the gallery. Further debate?

Mr Baird: In the time left available to me, I would like to examine a number of initiatives coming out of the Ministry of Citizenship, Culture and Recreation in this government.

For instance, the ministry has within its purview the Ontario Human Rights Commission. The Ontario Human Rights Code provides for protection against discrimination on the grounds of disability. The goal of the code is to ensure that all Ontarians have equal rights and opportunities in employment, accommodation, goods and services, and facilities.

This government recognizes that persons with disabilities face physical and attitudinal barriers which often prevent them from being judged on their merit and from achieving their full potential. To help persons with disabilities participate in the paid workforce and in the volunteer sector, the equal opportunity plan launched following the repeal of the former government's quota legislation will include a fund to support access and accommodation.

Officials within the ministry are refining program design, assessing alternative service delivery options and actively implementing initial deliverables. Employer associations, employers and other parties have been contacted and are playing a leading role in equal opportunity partnerships. Management Board, the Ministry of the Solicitor General and the Ministry of Education and Training are implementing specific equal opportunity initiatives for their sectors.

Through our government's equal opportunity plan, we are establishing a fund to support access and accommodation for persons with disabilities, to participate in both the paid workforce and in the volunteer sector. The Ministry of Citizenship, Culture and Recreation, the Ministry of Community and Social Services and the Ministry of Health will develop proposals for a pilot project to test cost-effective accommodation components of employment-related programs for persons with disabilities.

We're making plans for a one-window information referral service, a clearinghouse of equal opportunity business resources, demonstration projects to encourage best practices and partnership building, and training in education through workshops, conferences and alternative formats.

We are committed to equal opportunity for all Ontarians through the development of an equal opportunity strategy. We are promoting fairness, removing workplace barriers and helping build an Ontario where hiring and promotion decisions are based on merit.

Last month, the Minister of Citizenship announced the initiative for vulnerable adults. This was the government's response to the legislated end of the Advocacy Commission as part of Bill 19. This government's approach to advocacy is non-intrusive. It supports community-based services without creating new legislation or duplicating services. Our approach provides support to families, volunteers, community workers and health professionals who are already delivering excellent services.

I know the honourable member opposite sat on the committee which examined Bill 19, and she and her colleague the member for Fort York delighted in repeating during the hearings and afterwards that this government would not provide any financial assistance to those most vulnerable in our society. In the debate on third reading, they asked for $3 million. They said that's what deputations had asked for. Well, our initiative for vulnerable adults has committed $3 million -- let me repeat that -- $3 million to a community-based approach to supporting the dignity and interests of vulnerable adults.

The support for advocacy services will include the coordination of community-based advocacy through community development and other assistance, including a refocusing and near doubling of the community action fund to $2.25 million; funding for an information and referral service including a toll-free line; funding for a clearinghouse for resource materials, and materials to support training and education efforts; a requirement that provincially funded and operated institutions provide accessible ways for dealing with the concerns of vulnerable adults.

Mr Christopherson: You cut $25 million.

The Acting Speaker: The member for Hamilton Centre, you had your turn.

Mr Baird: As well, the ministry is looking at strategies to deal with abuse and neglect when it occurs. These strategies, among many others, include developing minimum safeguards to protect against abuse in institutions; working with stakeholders to develop and implement protocols to address abuse and neglect; developing guidance for enhancing police response to elder abuse; reviewing current practice with respect to prosecutions of abuse against vulnerable adults -- regrettably, I don't have time to list them all.

To conclude, I would be remiss if I did not bring to the attention of this House a rather curious inconsistency in the sponsorship of this resolution by the member opposite. This inconsistency should be addressed by the honourable member before we vote on this resolution. Why is it that today the honourable member for London Centre calls on the government to implement an ODA when her government failed to act on an ODA when it had the chance?

In a survey presented by the member's interest group, the party position was, "This is an issue that will be considered by the government in its second term." However, this is the same government which let the former member for York East's bill die on the order paper. Why didn't they call it for debate? Was it a busy legislative agenda? Did the House not have time to consider the legislation? The House only sat for some 20 days in the year leading up to the election campaign. It's curious why in five years, with so much free, available legislative time, not one single vote on final reading was ever called on this legislation. I think it's very important to point that out.

Mr Tony Ruprecht (Parkdale): I'm delighted today to support this resolution by the member for London Centre, because it is essential that we discuss this matter today.

I am reminded that in the past each of our parties made promises to the disabled community, and when we're being examined today, each of our parties could have done better.

Are we asking something extraordinary today from the government? No, we're not. We're simply asking that a promise to establish the Ontarians with Disabilities Act be kept. Obviously it is essential to ensure justice and fairness in Ontario. Justice and fairness mean access to jobs, justice and fairness mean access to our transportation systems, justice and fairness mean access to education and a host of other things.

If you will permit me to give you just a bit of history, in 1983, the United Nations proclaimed the Decade of Disabled Persons for the whole world.

The Acting Speaker: Order, please. You're not allowed to use any props in the House, please.

Mr Rosario Marchese (Fort York): It's not a prop; it's a scroll.

The Acting Speaker: Just place it back on the desk. You can refer to it, but I would ask you to refrain from using a prop in the House.

Mr Ruprecht: I want to read from it.

The Acting Speaker: Put it on your desk and you can read from it.

Mr Ruprecht: I will read it, Mr Speaker.

In 1983 the United Nations proclaimed the Decade of Disabled Persons. What did the party in power do? Did they immediately act on the resolution of the United Nations? No. It was pushed aside. In fact it was pushed aside until 1985, and at that time, of course, I had the honour to become Ontario's first minister for disabled persons. But at least the government, within 30 days, acted on the Decade of Disabled Persons and immediately established a secretariat with a special minister to ensure that the promises that had been made previously were kept and some guidelines were to be established.

What are those guidelines that all of us agreed on, that each party signed, that in fact the whole community signed in Ontario? The principles are:

"(1) That the dignity, independence and potential of persons with disabilities will be respected in all aspects of life.

"(2) That persons with disabilities have equal rights and equal obligations in common with all citizens to participate in and contribute to community life.

"(3) That efforts will be made to increase public knowledge and awareness of the abilities and needs of persons with disabilities in order to break down the barriers which exist due to a lack of understanding and outmoded attitudes.

"(4) Public cooperation will be sought to promote positive action in broadening access of persons with disabilities into the life of the community.

"(5) Services and programs will be aimed at integrating persons with disabilities into existing social and economic structures" -- the word you like so much.

"(6) Consultation will take place among governments in all sectors of society to ensure a coordinated effort will be established."

We all signed this and we tried to ensure that these will be guidelines not only for all Ontarians to understand but guidelines and principles for all of us to follow. Have we kept that promise? No. I'm reminded two years ago I was asking at that time the present government of the NDP, "Where is the minister of disability?" Two years ago, I couldn't find him because he was axed or she was axed, gone.


I asked the second question: "Where is the secretariat of disabled persons? Where did they disappear to?" The same question can be replied with the same answer: axed and gone. The reason I'm bringing this to your attention today is because all of us agree essentially on the principles and today we can do something about it. I support the resolution by the honourable member for London North; her colleagues support the resolution; all of us will support the resolution. I hope that the government, you too, who are speaking right now, will also support this resolution.

Why am I asking that question? Because I'm simply saying all of us could have done better and we have a chance right now to support this resolution simply because we're not asking anything out of the ordinary, we're asking for simple justice and fairness for Ontario's disabled persons, and today is the day that we can at least maintain part of our promise.

Mr Marchese: I'm very happy to stand today to support the resolution from the member for London Centre, because I think it is an important resolution and she has been a very strong advocate in this field for a very long time. I want to speak to some of the comments that have been made by the members from Huron and Nepean. I think the pernicious actions of this government vis-à-vis the issues of equity are very, very transparent.

The previous government introduced employment equity legislation that was designed to deal with issues of inequality as it relates to women, people of colour, people with disabilities and aboriginal people. We did that with the knowledge that historically these groups have not had the same access to employment equity, to employment fairness in the workplace. We introduced another piece of legislation, the Advocacy Act. Through the Advocacy Commission we thought and felt that people, frail seniors and people with disabilities, would once and for all have a voice they have not had for a long, long time. We did it with the knowledge that people in the field for 20 years were screaming for an Advocacy Act. We had introduced it.


Mr Marchese: One of the members says it didn't work. They had barely five months to begin to introduce a system to bring about greater fairness for these people and these members say it didn't work. Your pernicious actions are very transparent. In a matter of weeks, with a few simple words, you repealed the Employment Equity Act and you repealed the Advocacy Act. You have absolutely no shame when it comes to destroying everything we tried to do that restores, gives people with disabilities, people who have been traditionally shut out, an opportunity for greater fairness. You have broken all that down, tearing it down, and you're not building anything with your actions.

So what does this government say? "Don't worry. Employment equity is gone, but you are all equal. Discrimination is against the law so you should all feel good about the fact that because discrimination is against the law, you are all equal. Therefore, there is no discrimination against women, no discrimination against people of colour, no discrimination against people with disabilities because it's against the law." If it were against the law, why does discrimination continue to exist?

I alluded to a study that the Ministry of Citizenship did the other day where four in 10 Chinese Canadians said, "There's discrimination against us." The response from the Minister of Citizenship was, "Discrimination is against the law." I guess Chinese Canadians should go home and feel good because this government says we are all equal and there is therefore no discrimination. But the people who are hurt by discriminatory attitudes know that discrimination continues and that what you have done by repealing the Employment Equity Act and the Advocacy Act is a despicable, inexcusable act, and those people affected by it will not forget it.

The member for Huron continues and says, "We have an equity plan." Nobody knows what the equity plan is. No one in government knows what the equity plan is because there is no plan. There is no plan that gives equity to people who traditionally have been discriminated against. She talks about the resolution here that speaks to the fact that this government in 1995, May 24, promised to deliver an Ontario Disability Act. She says, "Ah, but there are a few words following that, and those few words are `within the economic goalposts.'" What does that mean? They're taking down the net. They're taking the posts and the net is gone. That's really what it means. There was no promise if you accompany the whole promise by having economic goalposts. If you take the posts away, there is no promise any more, which means you didn't mean to promise it, except to deceive these people that somehow when you went into government you would do something about it -- complete flim-flam deception from this government on this very issue.

The Tories talk about the few millions of dollars that they're putting in to support seniors, that they're putting in to support women on issues of breast cancer, the $5 million they're putting to feed the kids in the schools, but they fail to remind you they have taken $8.3 billion out of the budget by next year, $8.3 billion gone. Then they say, "Oh, but we're putting in a few million dollars to protect women, to protect people with disabilities, to protect seniors and to give food to the children in the schools." But they've taken the base and the foundation away. They've torn down the building. They take a few bricks, give them back and say, "But look what we're doing for women, for seniors, for people with disabilities." Does that make sense to those of you listening here, to those of you who have been able to be here today to witness this? Does that make sense? I say it doesn't make sense.

They refer to the Human Rights Code as the mechanism for dealing with discrimination, and they say: "But we've got that in place, so don't worry. If you've got a problem with discrimination on the basis of a disability, on the basis of race, you can go to the Human Rights Commission. And don't worry, we promised that once we would get rid of the Employment Equity Commission, we would put some of that money back." Lo and behold, they did not. I knew they would not. These are promises that are very empty when it comes to issues of this sort.

The couple of million dollars they said they would put back to the Ontario Human Rights Commission is not there; in fact, they took $700,000 away from the Human Rights Commission. But they say, "That's okay, because by taking money out of the system, we're going to make it more efficient." That's what they say. They say, "We are going to do more with less." We know the story of Jesus around this, but I'm not sure the Tories can do it.


The Acting Speaker: Order. No interjections, please.

Mr Marchese: We've heard about Jesus being able to do some miracles of this kind, but surely the Tories, as all of you here have witnessed, not just today but over a period of time, can't do it. They cannot do more with less. It's quite obvious. It's contradictory. You cannot do more by taking out a lot. It seems in the Tory world, the Disneyland of the Tories, they can do it, but those who are watching and listening know that you cannot.

The Human Rights Commission is a good thing. The Human Rights Code is an important thing, because it says, "You shall not discriminate," and it's a good mechanism and tool for people to have. The problem is, it's complaint-driven. It says that where you have been aggrieved, where there is a problem and you feel there has been discrimination, you've got to take it there to the Human Rights Commission, and then the loops in the Human Rights Commission -- so many of you here today know the loops you've got to get through to get your case heard.

But don't worry, those of you present today. The Tories are going to make it better, because they're taking money away and they're going to do more with less. So your case, if you get there, will be dealt with. It will not be dealt with very easily, because the backlog is long, because it takes a great deal of time, because it takes a huge effort from an individual who seeks redress to get there and then to suffer the length of time that it takes to get your story dealt with. It takes a long, long time.


So the Human Rights Code and the Human Rights Commission are important to have, but it's not enough. We need something more. We need to be able to deal with physical barriers that are in society at every imaginable level; arbitrary measures that prevent full participation in employment, in job training, in housing, in public and private transportation, in goods, facilities and services. We need to remove those barriers, those physical barriers, and we need to deal with attitudinal barriers that are within the system, that are systemic, and they're not going to go away.

Voluntary educational opportunities, voluntary educational programs, will not work; they do not work. We need a law. You, Conservative government, have made a promise. Your leader, and perhaps some of you don't know this, made a promise, May 24, 1995, that he would deliver through an Ontarians with Disabilities Act.

Mr Peter L. Preston (Brant-Haldimand): Where's yours?

Mr Marchese: No, not where's mine; where is yours? You made that promise, and you like to keep your promises. Except when you go after the vulnerable, you don't keep them. But when you have to go to get money from the very wealthy, who are avoiding paying their taxes, you take your sweet time to do it.

We need an Ontarians with Disabilities Act to supplement the Human Rights Code, an act that would promote the removal of serious existing barriers and prevent the erection of new barriers; an act that would provide specific direction to employers, landlords, service providers, manufacturers in housing and transportation. We need an effective process for enforcement, and we hope, through this resolution and through the act that your Premier has promised to introduce, that finally we will get justice for people who have been excluded for a very long time. Hopefully, you will remedy your mistakes of having repealed the Employment Equity Act and the Advocacy Act and eliminated the Anti-Racism Secretariat through this promise of introducing an Ontarians with Disabilities Act.

Mr Frank Klees (York-Mackenzie): Periodically, matters come before this House that would allow us to set aside partisan rhetoric, and I believe that this resolution would have been one of those and should have been one of those resolutions that would have allowed us to do that. Unfortunately, that didn't happen.

But what I would like to do is take this opportunity to commend the member for London Centre for bringing this resolution forward. I also believe very strongly that it's very important that we, as a government, do as we said we would do and protect those who are the most vulnerable in our province. I agree with the member when in her resolution she states that all persons should be able "to enjoy equal opportunity and full participation in the life of the province." I will be supporting this resolution.

Mr Mike Colle (Oakwood): I'm very happy to hear that the honourable member across the way is going to support it, because this is a free vote, and I think this gives every member on the other side an opportunity to support something they believe in. It encourages your government to proceed down the road to establishing the Ontarians with Disabilities Act. I know that you also always emulate initiatives south of the border. As you know, the American government has the Americans with Disabilities Act, so I think it's part of what you believe in, to follow good things they're doing south of the border.

I would just like to say that one specific example that concerns me about the government's track record on this is that there are sometimes things that happen below the surface. I know, rather than getting into statistics and budget numbers, the way your government has impacted on real people. I have a single mother in my riding who has a disabled child. One of the first things your government did was to cut her social assistance. I appealed to the minister and said: "This mother is the friend and caregiver of her disabled child. She dresses him, she clothes him, she walks him, she plays with him and takes him to school. When you cut $300 from that mother who stays at home taking care of her child and friend, you're cutting that disabled youngster." Despite that appeal, this mother right now cannot pay her property taxes and cannot put enough food on the table. That $300 a month not only affects the mother, who supposedly is able-bodied, but has been an impact on that disabled child who is part of her family.

That's where you've hurt people. It's not just a matter of numbers, it's not just a matter of economic goalposts; we're talking about human beings. We're not talking about sports or playing fields, we're not talking about economics; we're talking about human dignity.

Mr James J. Bradley (St Catharines): In our society, people who do not require the intervention of government are the wealthy, the powerful and the privileged. Those who do need the intervention of government are the disabled, the disadvantaged and those unable to speak for themselves. We, as legislators, have that opportunity to speak for those who often are not in the major halls of power and do not have the advantages that others have.

Not that many years ago people with disabilities were relegated to the sidelines, left to fend for themselves and dependent upon the charity of others. Progress has been made in recent years, but it has often been with resistance from those who believe they have been inconvenienced.

Significant cuts have taken place by this government, these cuts have impacted adversely on the disabled and the families of the disabled and they have been unable to meet the needs they have as a result.

When people representing individuals who are developmentally challenged, people from the associations for community living, gathered on the front lawn of the Ontario Legislature a few years ago when the NDP government was in power -- they were there to protest the level of funding at that time -- members of the Conservative Party were very quick on that occasion to condemn and eager to support those who were on the front lawn.

Conservative members now have the chance to translate that express concern into action. They can do so by supporting this resolution, whose time has come, not only by supporting the words in the assembly this morning, not only by rising in their seats to vote in favour of it, but also by acting upon the provisions of this resolution. The action will be the measure by which you are judged as opposed to simply the symbolic standing in the Legislature.

I encourage all members of the Legislature to rise and support this motion and to ensure that the government moves forward to implement its provisions.

Mrs Boyd: I'm pleased to stand and summarize the debate for this resolution. I have listened with great care to the members of the opposition, as have, I am sure, all the people here to hear this: my daughter, who is a 25-year-old with multiple sclerosis; two of our former colleagues, one born with a disability and one having acquired a disability; and all the others here and in the rooms in this place who are going to be watching to see whether this government is going to keep its promise.

The weasel words in the promise are enough to protect you, because if you make it possible for disabled people to be self-sufficient, to be taxpayers, it will be well within the goalposts of the Common Sense Revolution.

That is what these people are asking for. All they want out of life is to have the barriers that have been erected in the past destroyed, the barriers that we erect every day in the way we do things not to be erected in the future, and for us to actually give them equity, not equality. When you have a disability, equality is not the same thing as equity. Equity means that you actually have the chance to access that opportunity, and it cannot be on the basis of simple equality. They will always remain disadvantaged under those circumstances.

I urge the members of this House: This is our opportunity to keep a promise and it is an opportunity for us to dedicate ourselves to rectifying some of the wrongs of the past, to really show people that we do not just have fine words, that the dollars we have are not the most important thing. The most important thing is working with them to help them be productive and contributing members of society. That is all they want.

If in fact we destroy that opportunity by making it impossible for school boards to continue the supportive work towards equity for students -- and many, many school boards are telling us, and I know they're telling you, that the job of providing that opportunity, certainly within the local community, is disappearing, given the cuts that have happened to education.

We know, yes, there's some money going in to help disabled students in universities, but I can tell you, those who try to get around most universities know that it is a drop in the bucket to what needs to be done. And let's look around us here today. Those of us who cope every day with this wonderful historic building know what barriers are and we know how hard and how difficult it is to try and remove those barriers. But the last three governments of Ontario have been committed to doing that in this place, and we know we have not yet succeeded; we know we must keep on trying. We can do that in other places.

The member for Brantford says he can't vote for the first resolution because of a promise made by the government. Let me tell you, you must vote for this resolution because you also made a promise to the disabled of this province.


The Acting Speaker (Mr Gilles E. Morin): We will deal first with ballot item number 29, standing in the name of Mr Curling. If any members are opposed to a vote on this ballot item, will they please rise.

Mr Curling has moved private member's notice of motion number 19. Is it the pleasure of the House that the motion carry?

All those in favour will please say "aye."

All those opposed will please say "nay."

In my opinion, the nays have it.


The Acting Speaker (Mr Gilles E. Morin): We will now deal with ballot item number 30, standing in the name of Mrs Boyd. If any members are opposed to a vote on this ballot item, will they please rise.

Mrs Boyd has moved private member's notice of motion number 18. Is it the pleasure of the House that the motion carry?

All those in favour will please say "aye."

All those opposed will please say "nay."

In my opinion, the ayes have it.

Call in the members. There will be a five-minute bell.

The division bells rang from 1204 to 1209.


The Acting Speaker (Mr Gilles E. Morin): Mr Curling has moved private member's notice of motion 19. All those in favour of the motion will please rise and remain standing until your names are called.


Agostino, Dominic

Curling, Alvin

Martel, Shelley

Bisson, Gilles

Duncan, Dwight

Martin, Tony

Boyd, Marion

Gerretsen, John

McGuinty, Dalton

Bradley, James J.

Grandmaître, Bernard

McLeod, Lyn

Brown, Michael A.

Gravelle, Michael

Phillips, Gerry

Christopherson, David

Kormos, Peter

Ramsay, David

Churley, Marilyn

Kwinter, Monte

Ruprecht, Tony

Colle, Mike

Lalonde, Jean-Marc

Silipo, Tony

Cordiano, Joseph

Laughren, Floyd

Wildman, Bud

Crozier, Bruce

Marchese, Rosario

Wood, Len

The Acting Speaker: All those opposed will please rise and remain standing until your names are called.


Baird, John R.

Johns, Helen

Preston, Peter

Barrett, Toby

Johnson, Bert

Rollins, E.J. Douglas

Boushy, Dave

Johnson, Ron

Sampson, Rob

Chudleigh, Ted

Jordan, Leo

Shea, Derwyn

Doyle, Ed

Klees, Frank

Sheehan, Frank

Fisher, Barbara

Martiniuk, Gerry

Stockwell, Chris

Froese, Tom

Munro, Julia

Turnbull, David

Galt, Doug

Ouellette, Jerry J.

Wood, Bob

Hastings, John

Parker, John L.


Clerk of the House (Mr Claude L. DesRosiers): The ayes are 30; the nays are 26.


The Acting Speaker: The members in the gallery -- order, please. Order. The members in the gallery are not allowed to applaud.

I declare the motion carried.

I'd just like to remind the members that the doors will be open for 30 seconds to permit those who are outside to come in or for those who want to leave to leave now.


The Acting Speaker (Mr Gilles E. Morin): We will now vote on the private member's notice of motion number 19, introduced by Mrs Boyd.

All those in favour of the motion will please rise and remain standing until your names are called.


Agostino, Dominic

Galt, Doug

McLeod, Lyn

Baird, John R.

Gerretsen, John

Munro, Julia

Barrett, Toby

Grandmaître, Bernard

Ouellette, Jerry J.

Bisson, Gilles

Gravelle, Michael

Parker, John L.

Boushy, Dave

Hastings, John

Phillips, Gerry

Boyd, Marion

Johns, Helen

Preston, Peter

Bradley, James J.

Johnson, Bert

Ramsay, David

Brown, Michael A.

Johnson, Ron

Rollins, E.J. Douglas

Christopherson, David

Jordan, Leo

Ruprecht, Tony

Chudleigh, Ted

Klees, Frank

Sampson, Rob

Churley, Marilyn

Kormos, Peter

Shea, Derwyn

Colle, Mike

Kwinter, Monte

Sheehan, Frank

Cordiano, Joseph

Lalonde, Jean-Marc

Silipo, Tony

Crozier, Bruce

Laughren, Floyd

Stockwell, Chris

Curling, Alvin

Marchese, Rosario

Turnbull, David

Doyle, Ed

Martel, Shelley

Wildman, Bud

Duncan, Dwight

Martin, Tony

Wood, Bob

Fisher, Barbara

Martiniuk, Gerry

Wood, Len

Froese, Tom

McGuinty, Dalton


Clerk of the House (Mr Claude L. DesRosiers): The ayes are 56; the nays are 0.

The Acting Speaker: I declare the motion carried.

All matters related to private members' business having been debated, I will now leave the chair. The House will resume at 1:30 of the clock this afternoon.

The House recessed from 1215 to 1331.



Mr Mike Colle (Oakwood): In the city of York we have witnessed at first hand the impact of the Harris slash-and-burn agenda. The first thing the Conservative government did without warning was cancel the Eglinton subway project. This resulted in 10,000 lost jobs, jobs that the people of York were basing their hopes on -- hope for a York city centre, hope for urban renewal and hope for better transportation. Cancelling the Eglinton subway means not only more unemployment but also continual bumper-to-bumper traffic, more traffic jams, more air pollution and unbearable congestion 24 hours a day.

Next on the chopping block seems to be our Northwestern General Hospital. Where will our seniors go for emergency care? Where will the 800 people who work in Northwestern hospital find new jobs? Mr Harris said he wouldn't cut health care, yet he's cut $1.3 billion.

Where are the jobs for all the young people who could have worked on building the Eglinton subway? Where are all the jobs for the young people who could have worked at Northwestern hospital or teaching in our schools? What good is the Harris tax cut when you've lost your job? What good is it?


Mr Rosario Marchese (Fort York): This morning we passed unanimously a resolution that was introduced by my colleague the member for London Centre. It reads as follows:

"That in the opinion of this House, since persons with disabilities in Ontario face systemic barriers in access to employment, services, goods, facilities and accommodation; and

"Since all Ontarians will benefit by the removal of these barriers, thereby enabling these persons to enjoy equal opportunity and full participation in the life of the province;

"Therefore, the government of Ontario should keep its promise as set out in the letter from Michael D. Harris to the Ontarians with Disabilities Act Committee, dated May 24, 1995...."

People with disabilities, who came here in great numbers from London, Hamilton, Toronto and many other areas, demand full participation in society as people who deserve and want to work and want to contribute in society. They want physical barriers removed. They want attitudinal barriers to be dealt with by government in a proactive way.

They say that the Human Rights Code is not enough, that they need something much more proactive to be able to deal with discrimination as it relates to people with disabilities. They want Mike Harris, the Premier of this province, to keep his promise and deliver on the Ontarians with Disabilities Act. We urge him and the minister to meet with them as soon as possible to do that.


Mrs Helen Johns (Huron): I have a challenge for the members in the House today: Can they identify this disease?

This is a disease that affects approximately 500,000 women in Canada. It is a condition where tissue normally found in the uterus is also found in other areas such as the ovaries, the bowel and the bladder, causing internal bleeding.

The cause is unknown and the symptoms include, but are not limited to, chronic pelvic pain, ongoing fatigue, low resistance to infection, extensive allergies and difficulty becoming pregnant.

It is commonly found in 10% to 15% of women between the ages of 25 and 44, but can also be found in teenage women. Between 25% and 50% of infertile women have this sometimes very painful disease.

Treatment is individualized, based on patient's age, severity of symptoms and reproductive wishes. Only by totally stopping ovarian function can doctors prevent the recurrence of this disease.

For those in the Legislature who are still unsure, I'll help them. The disease is endometriosis and May 19 to 25 is their awareness week. I trust that all members who were unsure of the answer of this challenge at the beginning will learn more about this disease.


Mr Dominic Agostino (Hamilton East): We're now seeing the full effects of the 5% cut that the Ministry of Community and Social Services has made to agencies across the board in this province, the $86 million that was taken out of these agencies in July.

We need not look any further than a riding like York South to see the impact of the Harris revolution, dozens and dozens of casualties in this war to deliver a tax cut to the wealthy in this province.

One must wonder why service provided by the community information centre for the city of York on Eglinton Avenue would have funding cut by this government. One would have to go down to 2468 Eglinton Avenue West and visit the York Child and Family Centre to see the impact of the funding cut on children and families in York and in the riding. I wonder why Mike Harris cut the York Child and Family Centre.

I wonder why Tory candidates like Rob Davis support the cuts to the centre, cuts to the Jane Woolner Neighbourhood Association on Jane Street, cuts to the York Community Services, cuts to the children's aid societies, cuts to women's shelters, cuts to seniors' and disabled services, benefit cuts to seniors and disabled.

The list goes on and on. It is too long. It would take hours to read the list of casualties in York South as a result of this government and one must ask the Tory candidate in York South if he supports these cuts, if he supports every single one of the agencies that the Mike Harris government cut by 5% last July.


Ms Shelley Martel (Sudbury East): Last Thursday evening, the Sudbury and District Labour Council and a number of teacher affiliates organized a forum on cuts to education in our community. The event was very well attended by teachers, parents and students and it demonstrated the strong concern that people have with the cuts to education being made in our community. These run counter to the promise made by the Conservatives in the Common Sense Revolution, specifically, and I quote: "Classroom funding for education will be guaranteed."

The fact is that education cuts in our community have led to the following: The St Albert Learning Centre is now at risk of closing; the separate school board has sent layoff notices to 100 staff and its tax increase is just over 6%; the public school board has issued layoff notices to 135 staff, and these include education assistants, guidance counsellors, two special education teachers and a psychologist, and their tax increase is 5.9%; junior kindergarten was protected this year, but trustees made it clear that the future of the program was dependent upon the level of cuts expected by the Conservatives to education next year.

People at the forum had a message for Mike Harris, and it reads as follows:

"Stop the cuts to education!


"Ensure full funding for quality education programs

"Invest in future success by fully supporting early childhood programs

"Maintain a broad range of courses and programs for all students through to high school graduation

"Maintain full services for students at risk

"Invest in Ontario's economy by maintaining day school programs for adult students."

I agree with all of those people.


Mr R. Gary Stewart (Peterborough): I rise in the House to inform all members about the Memorial Cup hockey championship currently being played in Peterborough. The Memorial Cup is Canada's junior A hockey's prestige trophy. I believe that the level of organization and keen interest that our community demonstrated towards the sport of hockey played a key role in bringing the Memorial Cup to our city. Peterborough truly is a great city to host a major hockey championship.

Since the tournament began last weekend, the city of Peterborough has benefited economically and has provided an excellent venue for spectators to witness the skills and talents of future hockey greats.

Such an event brings a great deal of activity and excitement to any community. Many community events have been planned around these hockey championships and all have been most successful.

Community spirit is alive and well in the city of Peterborough. I would like to wish the Peterborough Petes, Guelph Storm, Granby Predateurs and Brandon Wheat Kings all of the best as they enter the final week of tournament play, and congratulate the entire community for a job well done.



Mr David Ramsay (Timiskaming): You know, there was a time in Ontario when the role of the Minister of Consumer and Commercial Relations was to protect the interests of consumers. All that has changed. Now that the Ewing family is governing Ontario, the moneyed interests of big oil companies appear to have taken priority.

Since January of this year, gas prices in Ontario have gone up 17%. That translates into 61.9 cents a litre in southern Ontario and up to as much as 80 cents in the north. But rather than defend Ontario motorists from unreasonable gas prices, Consumer and Commercial Relations Minister Norm Sterling, the JR Ewing of the Tory caucus, is opting to defend the companies that are responsible for driving up gas prices sky-high.

However, the minister is not quite as slick in his defence of the oil companies as an oilman should be. Yesterday, Norm Sterling blamed the rise in gas prices on tax increases that happened more than a decade ago. Minister, tax increases that happened a decade ago cannot explain a 17% rise in gas prices over the last four months and certainly cannot explain why the price of crude has dropped by 10% in early April without a corresponding drop at the gas pumps.

In making such a crude statement, the minister has shown he has no time for the concern of Ontario consumers when it comes to protecting them from rising gas prices. That is because he's too busy trying to defend the oil companies that do business in Ontario.

It is clear that there is no one in the Tory caucus who is going to defend Ontario motorists from the profit-hungry oil companies, and the only question remaining is who is going to protect Ontario consumers from a minister who tries to sell them snake oil when all they want is affordable gas prices.


Mr Tony Silipo (Dovercourt): I want to try to remind this government today about the absurdity of their proceeding to take property taxes out of the Metropolitan Toronto area, as they are doing now through Bill 34 and as they are proposing to do in an even broader way given the statement in the budget around pooling.

I want to point out first of all the injustice of this in terms of what it will do, that we will see property taxes, something which have been used historically in this province to be expended by school boards and municipalities, for the first time being taken on by the government that said that there was only one taxpayer and by the government that said that they wanted to actually reduce taxes, not increase them.

Secondly, I want to point out the inconsistency, an inconsistency that doesn't seem to bother either the Minister of Finance or the Premier, when they on the one hand can rail against the federal Liberal government when it uses Ontario tax dollars to subsidize GST harmonization in the Maritimes, but at the same time can turn around and take property tax dollars out of local municipalities and transfer them into the coffers of the provincial government.

That is wrong, but what is even more absurd is the illusion that this is something that's going to affect only Metropolitan Toronto. It will start there, but the Muskokas, the Hamiltons, the rest of the province is going to be next in line. So I say to those communities, beware.


Mrs Julia Munro (Durham-York): It is a pleasure to rise on behalf of my colleagues here in the Legislature to announce a special time in the province of Ontario, Intergenerational Week, from May 15 to 21.

United Generations Ontario, sponsor of Intergenerational Week, is a coalition of human service organizations and individuals dedicated to promoting programs that bring the young and the elderly together in a spirit of cooperation, mutual support and shared affection and regard.

More than 100,000 seniors, youths and children in Ontario are now involved in intergenerational programs that empower people to take a constructive part in the life of their own communities and to create a vital volunteer exchange in caring and sharing. Such programs exist in most communities throughout Ontario, including Durham region, Grey-Bruce-Muskoka, Ottawa, Gananoque and Windsor.

We can all learn from the intergenerational pledge: "To respect the ways of other ages; to win the hearts, not belittle the thinking, of other generations; to extend intergenerational cordiality beyond acquaintances and family; and to advocate intergenerational harmony in the community."

Today, more than ever, we need to recognize the importance of groups like this.


The Speaker (Hon Allan K. McLean): I would like to inform the members of the Legislative Assembly that we have in the Speaker's gallery today a delegation from the province of Manitoba, headed by the Honourable Albert Driedger, Minister of Natural Resources. Please join me in welcoming our guests.

I would also like to inform the members that we have in the Speaker's gallery today Mr Alexey Talonov and Mr Zufar Kamalov from the Yeltsin Democracy Fellowship Program in Russia. Welcome.


The Speaker (Hon Allan K. McLean): I would like to bring to the members' attention that this is the last day in the House for our current group of pages. I know all members join me in saying thank you to these pages for their hard work in the chamber.


Ms Shelley Martel (Sudbury East): On a point of order, Mr Speaker: I would refer you to section 97 of our standing orders, specifically 97(a) and 97(d), which read as follows:

"(a) Questions seeking information from the ministry relating to the public affairs of the province may be placed by notice on the Orders and Notices paper....

"(d) The minister shall answer such written questions within 14 calendar days unless he or she indicates that more time is required because the answer will be costly or time-consuming or that he or she declines to answer, in which case a notation shall be made on the Orders and Notices paper following the question indicating that the minister has made an interim answer, the approximate date that the information will be available, or that the minister has declined to answer, as the case may be."

The point of order that I'd like to raise is as follows: I tabled a number of order paper questions on April 24 to the Minister of Transportation, the Solicitor General and Minister of Correctional Services, and the Minister of Natural Resources and Northern Development and Mines. The questions asked for specifics on job losses in northern Ontario directly as a result of the downsizing of the public service that had been announced by the Chair of Management Board on April 11.

The deadline for responses has come and gone, and still I have received no interim answer, or any answer, from the Minister of Natural Resources. I raise that because today I know that hundreds and hundreds of layoff notices have been provided to MNR staff right across this province, affecting any number of communities but particularly communities in northern Ontario. It's clear that the minister had the information I requested, because it involves the layoff notices that have gone out today. It's also clear that he has refused to provide this to me even though I have used the legitimate means of this House to try to get that --

The Speaker (Hon Allan K. McLean): Will the member let me know which question it is.

Ms Martel: What recourse do I have?

The Speaker: Order. Which number is it that you were referring to on the order paper? I am sure that the minister is aware of the request. She has a point of order. I would urge the honourable minister to --

Ms Martel: The order paper numbers run from 400 to past 418.

The Speaker: Thank you.

Time for ministerial statements.



Hon Norman W. Sterling (Minister of Consumer and Commercial Relations): Later today I will be introducing legislation in this House to support our government's mandate of redefining the role of government in the delivery of programs and services to the public while reducing red tape that hinders economic growth.

The Safety and Consumer Statutes Administration Act will also meet my ministry's dual obligation to the people of Ontario to ensure consumer protection and to promote public safety. The bill will enable industries and professions to have greater involvement in the delivery of public safety programs and will increase professionalism in the marketplace.

We are proposing to remove unnecessary government intervention in the marketplace and to delegate to mature industries the authority and responsibility for self-management to improve professional regulation and consumer protection.


We are also proposing to establish a self-funded, not-for-profit organization to permit industries to have a greater involvement in the delivery of public safety programs and services.

These initiatives will not only maintain the high public safety and marketplace standards Ontarians have rightly come to expect, but will also provide us with a significant opportunity to enhance these standards and to benefit from a wide range of efficiencies and improvements expected as a result of these measures.

The government will maintain its critical responsibilities for public safety and consumer protection. We are also maintaining our critical responsibility for setting public safety and marketplace standards through legislation, regulations, policy approval and monitoring industry performance.

We have built into the Safety and Consumer Statutes Administration Act strong accountability mechanisms to ensure the public interest is preserved throughout the transition process.

Under the self-management section of the bill, when it is passed, four industries -- motor vehicle dealers, real estate brokers and agents, travel agents and cemeteries -- will be given responsibility for the administration and delivery of certain functions that are currently being delivered by the Ministry of Consumer and Commercial Relations.

The bill provides a framework to pursue industry self-management when the government is assured that the industries are able and willing to self-manage, but it is a staged approach which depends on further negotiations with each industry, a progressive transition period and signed agreements by all parties to be in place before full self-management is realized. It is legislation that recognizes those industries which have demonstrated in the past their readiness to play a greater role in the running of their own affairs.

The second aspect of this legislation, under the safety administration section, proposes the creation of a self-funded, not-for-profit organization that would be delegated the administrative and service delivery functions currently being performed by my ministry's technical standards division.

The safety organization will continue to deliver all current safety programs in four areas: boiler and pressure vessels, elevating and amusement devices, hydrocarbon fuels and equipment, and upholstered and stuffed articles. It will be responsible for such activities as the licensing, registration and certification of tradespeople, contractors and facilities, and increased education and training programs for inspectors. Direct access to technical expertise will mean that the organization's complex operations can be managed with a higher degree of professionalism while better meeting marketplace requirements.

The safety organization will continue and, we believe, accelerate the important work of harmonizing national and international technical codes and standards and the delivery of public safety programs and services which help industries develop export markets and streamline their operations.

I will be meeting with my federal and provincial counterparts on consumer-related issues in September. I've written to Industry Canada to ensure that these issues are on the agenda for discussion at the national level.

Overall, our approach, as outlined in the legislation, will enable us to maintain more focus on real results, rather than the technical procedures and delivery mechanisms. It fits right into our mandate of doing better for less. It also retains our commitment to improve public safety and marketplace standards.

Mr Bruce Crozier (Essex South): It's my privilege to rise in response to the minister's statement today. I want to tell the folks in the galleries here and those who are at home that it's a good thing it's Thursday and the constituency break is coming up, because we just listened to about five minutes of nothing but hot air that may have come out of one of these boilers the minister was talking about.

I see this basically as a Bill 26 in reverse. Rather than the minister taking on all kinds of unilateral powers, this minister is simply giving them away. He's abdicating the province's responsibility.

He talks with great aplomb about public safety programs and services. Let me remind the minister that all over this province in the past, notwithstanding the current regulation and inspections that are in place, we have had people injured and killed in accidents at amusement parks, yet the minister tells us that elevating and amusement devices will be privatized and self-regulated.

I don't know whether these amusement devices include video lottery terminal slot machines, because they can be damaging too, but I don't think we want to ride on those kinds of devices if there isn't an arm's-length accountable person who has inspected those devices. I suggest that it's going to take a lot of effort on the government's part to see that this self-regulation is carried out.

I'm sure that in some areas under this omnibus legislation motor vehicle dealers, real estate dealers, travel agents and cemeteries for the most part are very responsible, have been in the past and I think can be in the future, and we will want to review that portion of the bill carefully, but we can see there would be some advantage in it.

Certainly, when you get into the areas of public safety, when the public is at risk, we have a minister who says: "I'm not concerned about you consumers. In fact, as Minister of Consumer and Commercial Relations -- I'm only interested in the commercial side; I don't care about consumers any more -- I'm going to wash my hands of that."

When it comes to this legislation, we're going to have an awful lot to say about it. I hope it isn't a hollow piece of legislation made up of regulations outside of it that we can't speak to or that we don't have any control over.

Another area where this minister is abdicating his authority when it comes to the consumer is that of gas prices. He tells us he doesn't have a role to play in that. Quite frankly, Minister, you're the spokesperson on behalf of consumers in this province. As my colleague said earlier, the increase in prices we've seen for this weekend, that are going to be higher this weekend and then lower after the weekend, aren't the responsibility of anybody or anything that happened in the past; it's what's happening right now.

I've said before that I think this minister, the gaming guru of Ontario, the saviour of this government when it comes to revenues the Premier doesn't want, is the second or third most powerful person in cabinet. I'm surprised that in the areas of public safety, in the areas of gas prices, even in the area of auto insurance he won't speak out on behalf of the consumer. He just leaves it to somebody else. I think it's time that this minister took his responsibilities seriously and that he spoke on behalf of consumers of this province as well as of commercial interests.

Last but not least, I do have to mention once again slot machines. Please take a second look at slot machines because they can be just as harmful as anything else you might be involved with in your ministry.

Mr Peter Kormos (Welland-Thorold): This doesn't come as any great surprise to us. You will recall, Speaker, that the minister was questioned some brief time ago about this very proposal to gut the Ministry of Consumer and Commercial Relations, to abdicate its responsibility for protecting consumers here in the province of Ontario.

The minister at the time, and I suspect it was only a lapse, because he was unable to confirm what he knew; not that he lied to the House -- he would not have done that, would be? I certainly couldn't say he did that, whether he did or not, but far be it for me to suggest that this minister in fact did prevaricate in response to questions put to him by, as it was, the leader of this caucus.


But it comes as no surprise because here's a government that's walked away from education. It doesn't feel any responsibility any more to educate our youngsters. Here's a government that walks away from health care. It doesn't feel any responsibility any more to ensure adequate and universal and decent health care for Ontarians. Here's a government that has walked away from the security of our families and our homes when it abandons policing and its responsibility to provide adequate levels of funding for policing, and now it throws consumers to be victims to the predators that exist out there in the commercial market.

Look, is that to suggest that all of the operators are unscrupulous or unethical or dishonest? Of course not. But you see, locks are for honest people only. The fact is that we understand that not all of the operators in these various fields are going to fail to comply, but we also understand that the reason this regime was established in the first place was to protect consumers.

This minister is undoubtedly the most ill-briefed minister in this government, and that's going a long way, the most ill-briefed minister in this government. There are others who come close, and I don't want to name names, but the most ill-briefed minister in this government.

Look what's he had to say on the issues of his largesse with regard to serving alcohol to the point of 2 am and on golf courses, people in golf carts to boot, and he suggests somehow that the Addiction Research Foundation and other expertise would support him. He didn't know what he was talking about and he acknowledged it.

He's talking here about giving carte blanche to car dealers, to real estate agents and brokers, to travel agents and to cemeteries. Surely he's been around long enough to see the thousands of tourists that are stranded every year as a result of travel agents that don't adequately treat those moneys that are given to them in trust. Surely he's familiar with the inadequacy of OMVAP, which is exactly the sort of what he's talking about now, self-regulated plans to try to protect purchasers of motor vehicles.

The home ownership warranty program: again, self-controlled but totally ineffective and he knows it. He ought to know better than to impose this. This is an abdication of the responsibility of that ministry. There's more coming down. I tell you, we will soon hear an announcement about the merger of the Ontario gaming commission and the Liquor Licence Board of Ontario as this government and this ministry abandons its responsibility for regulating the sale and distribution and serving of liquor and other spirits here in the province of Ontario. We will soon, I tell you as well, see an announcement regarding the Ontario Racing Commission. It will be an announcement to the effect that it too will become a self-regulated industry. These are the sort of plans that are in preparation right now in this minister's office.

He may well not be aware of them and I suspect that he isn't, but when he's handed the script, when he's handed the Coles' notes, he'll make those announcements none the less.

This government simply doesn't understand that purchasing a motor vehicle, purchasing real estate, for most working people in this province, the few that are left, is the largest investment -- it is a life-time investment for them. They deserve and need the protection that a Ministry of Consumer and Commercial Relations would provide.

They surely can't be left to the largesse of the private sector and the industry. This government's geesing off, paying off, greasing its friends in the private sector, who paid for them to get elected here in the province of Ontario, as they abandon and abdicate every public institution that our parents and theirs before them worked so hard and struggled so hard to build.

The minister may treat somewhat facetiously the regulation of stuffed objects. He should be more concerned than he appears because the stuffed shirts over here on the government benches have abandoned their responsibility --

The Speaker (Hon Allan K. McLean): Time for responses has expired.


Mr Dominic Agostino (Hamilton East): On a point of order, Mr Speaker: A question to you, you being in charge of the man responsible for the building. This morning there were a number of people who tried to have access to the gallery who were in wheelchairs. As a result of limited space and limited access, many dozens of individuals in wheelchairs could not be in the gallery to see the proceedings on a bill or on a resolution by the member for London Centre on the Ontarians with Disabilities Act. Also, a number of people needed sign-language interpreting, and as a result of services not being provided, had those individuals not brought their own interpreters, they would not have been able to have access to the proceedings in the House.

I would like to ask you, as Speaker responsible for this building and for accessibility to this building, if you can investigate what can be done to improve the situation in here, to ensure that we have adequate spaces for people in wheelchairs and that we have adequate services available for sign language and others that disabled individuals would require to access this building.

The Speaker: The member has made his point.

Mrs Marion Boyd (London Centre): Mr Speaker, on the same point of order: I've had occasion to write to you in the past around the issues of accessibility in this building and some of the concerns around safety in this building when the building has been evacuated and so on. It became very clear to us, with very few visitors actually; only about 200 of the visitors who wanted to be here could actually come to the building and our inability to deal with that number of citizens who have special problems became very clear. I would join the member for Hamilton East in asking that you involve the members of this assembly in trying to come up with the kinds of solutions we need to come up with to be sure we are accessible to our constituents.

The Speaker: I appreciate very much the members bringing that to my attention. We understand the problem we're having at the north end of the building, but my aim is to have a new ramp put in the main entrance of the building and that is what I would like to see happen.



Mrs Lyn McLeod (Leader of the Opposition): My first question is for the Minister of Education. Minister, during the election, you and the Premier made a very firm commitment that there would be no cuts to classroom education. Yesterday, the Board of Education for the City of York announced that 99 classroom teachers have received their layoff notices. These teachers are being laid off as a direct result of your cutbacks. I ask you why you are breaking your commitment to the people in the city of York and elsewhere in Ontario. Why are you breaking your promise to protect classroom education?

Hon John Snobelen (Minister of Education and Training): I believe if the Leader of the Opposition examines that particular board and its funding for this year, she'll find there have been a considerable number of changes to the funding, most of them predicated on the social contract and predicated on enrolment numbers, so I think it would be erroneous to attribute that to the measures of this government. We are diligent in making sure our cuts do not have to affect the classroom, and we expect cooperation with our partners in delivering education across the province in reaching that goal.

Mrs McLeod: The minister is missing the most obvious, and that is the fact that many of the layoffs of classroom teachers in the city of York can be attributed directly to your cuts to adult education, one of the so-called tools you have given boards of education across this province to use to find the means of making up your $1 billion in cuts.

I think even you would have to agree, if you look at adult education in Ontario, that it's been a success story. Some 83% of adult students in our high schools go on to either get further education or they go and get a job, and it is a fact that in the city of York there is the highest percentage of adults enrolled in daytime classes in Metropolitan Toronto. That's why they're laying off 99 teachers, because you have gutted adult education, the very kind of education that is needed by people who need more training if they want to get a good job. I ask you why you are slashing funding for adult education in the city of York and in every community across this province.

Hon Mr Snobelen: First of all, I suspect that if the Leader of the Opposition were to check with people across this province -- I have done that over the last 10 months -- and ask them if they think the province's responsibility to adults is identical to its responsibility to adolescents, the Leader of the Opposition might find that people can discern a difference between those two groups. Perhaps she has some difficulty with that, but I can assure you most people in the province don't. They understand the fact that we can deliver education and schooling to adults in a much different format than we do for adolescents and that the responsibility of the province is much different with adults than it is with adolescents.


But I do note that accreditation and educational experiences for adults are important. It's important to the province and important to those people realizing their life ambitions, and that's why -- and I'm glad that the Leader of the Opposition would raise this question today -- I was so proud this morning to make an announcement about the GED, the general education development, because we are expanding that program so that adults can access a methodology of having a high school equivalency accreditation for their prior learning. I think that's important and I'm glad that Ontario has finally joined the other nine provinces and the 50 states and are providing this for adults across the province of Ontario. I'm proud of that.

Mrs McLeod: Minister, some 80,000 adults were already receiving education in high schools across this province and 83% of the people who were back at school getting the education they needed were going on to further education and getting jobs. They didn't need your alternative program. They needed the adult education that our boards are currently able to provide and won't be able to provide because you have gutted the funding for adult education programs in every community.

Minister, you presented Bill 34 where you give boards this tool to make the cuts that you need for your tax cut. When you presented Bill 34, and I quote you exactly, you said that you were going to "give boards permission," you were going to make changes that would permit boards to redirect adult students out of the daytime classrooms that they were in. Minister, there was no permission involved in this at all. You cut the boards' funding for adult students by more than two thirds. That's like saying that you gave Metropolitan Toronto and Ottawa permission to write you a cheque. The boards have no choice. Your funding cuts have meant they have to gut adult education.

Minister, you are redefining classroom education and making it narrower and narrower to try and pretend that you're keeping your promise to protect classroom education. Do you not think when you cut junior kindergarten funding and when you cut adult education funding that you have in fact cut classroom education? Or when you talk about a difference with adult students, do you not think adult students even belong in classroom education?

Hon Mr Snobelen: I am quite delighted with the opportunity to engage in this question today, because I believe that adult education is important. I think that this morning's announcement on the GED program emphasizes the fact that we believe it's important.

However, there are two fundamental issues here and one of those is that the Leader of the Opposition seems not to be able to discern the difference between adolescent students and adult students. I believe that most people across this province can see that the province has a different responsibility to adolescents, and should have a different responsibility in terms of making sure they're safe during the school day, and that's a different cost factor and a different delivery system; also that class sizes might be different. This is remarkable, that class sizes might be different for adults than they are for adolescents and we might offer those programs at a different time of the day. That will not be astounding news to most of the people of Ontario, but it astounds the Leader of the Opposition.


Mrs Lyn McLeod (Leader of the Opposition): My second question is to the Minister of Health. Minister, your restructuring commission, the commission that you've set up to make decisions about closing hospitals in our communities, is now under way and, as I'm sure you're aware, it's starting in Thunder Bay. The fact is that nobody knows who's going to be next. I know that all of Metropolitan Toronto, where the health council has recommended closing 12 hospitals and shutting down over 1,500 beds, is wondering when Toronto's turn is going to be. And we know that the adviser to your restructuring commission has said that Toronto is certainly near the top of the list.

You are aware, Minister, that in the meantime while people wait to know whether you're sending your commission in, people are working to come up with what they believe are better solutions, ways of protecting the health care they believe they need in their own community.

You have tried to wash your hands of all responsibility for closing hospitals. You want the commission to do the dirty work for you. But I want you to know that nobody believes that anyone but the minister is responsible ultimately for decisions about shutting down community hospitals. You do hold the responsibility.

I want to ask you, Minister, whether you will at least guarantee that time is going to be taken to fully study the proposals that community groups and hospitals are putting forward. Will you make that a clear and absolute guideline for your commission?

Hon Jim Wilson (Minister of Health): The commission does operate at arm's length, with respect to its day-to-day decisions, from the Minister of Health, although in Bill 26 it's clear that the commission is responsible to all members of Parliament through the Minister of Health. That's its accountability.

The commission informed me at the same time it informed the public that it was looking at the Thunder Bay study and going to work with the people of Thunder Bay to implement their study. A lot of time has lapsed. A major study was completed some two years ago, and yet restructuring has not occurred. The commission expressed publicly its opinion that enough time had passed and it was time to get on with restructuring in Thunder Bay in a serious way.

Mrs McLeod: I draw to the minister's attention that I was not raising with him the issue of the commission coming into Thunder Bay. I'm raising with him the issue of the guidelines under which his commission will operate not only in Thunder Bay but in other communities, including Toronto, where there is some concern about the closure of multiple numbers of hospitals, and in Sudbury and in Ottawa and in Hamilton -- you name it. People are concerned about the way in which this commission is going to operate.

Minister, I say again that you, as minister, hold the responsibility ultimately for decisions that are being made about closing a community hospital. You have attempted in Bill 26 to give this commission total independence. You like to say that it's going to operate at arm's length. In fact, you've tried to give them the independence to make those decisions for you and you seem to have given them the freedom to make those decisions behind closed doors.

The commission has laid out very clearly what it will and will not do. They have indicated very clearly that they will not hold open hearings or otherwise promote opportunities for theatrics and delay. They are going to make decisions about community hospital closings behind closed doors. Because of Bill 26, communities and hospitals will be given only 30 days' notice of any decisions that have been made to shut them down.

Minister, these are the kinds of decisions that are going to affect health care in our communities for generations to come. Decisions, once made, are undoable. I ask you how you can permit this behind-closed-doors, hurry-up-and-get-it-done kind of approach, how you can justify sacrificing at least taking the time to hear from people concerned about health care in their community because you're in such a hurry to make the savings to go with your cuts to hospital budgets.

Hon Mr Wilson: I was just trying to find here, while the honourable member was asking her supplementary question, the terms of reference for the commission. I don't have it available today. I'd be happy to provide another copy to the Leader of the Opposition, given that it's been a public process to date. The Health Services Restructuring Commission is a public commission with public members. I do not believe there will be any significant surprises, given that they are acting on studies that are developed by local district health councils, so I reject the assertion here that the commission will be making its decisions behind closed doors.

Mrs McLeod: It's a difficult assertion to deny when the commission itself has made it clear both in its written statements and in its entry into the Thunder Bay community that it is not going to hold any public meetings, that any submissions to be made will have to be made privately and that it believes in fact that consultations have been done. It is a closed-door process, Minister. The only thing the public is aware of is that the process is going on and that they can make a written submission.

The other guideline that the commission has set out, as I'm sure you're aware, is that it will not redo, and I'm quoting, "credible work done by district health councils and the Ministry of Health." Minister, let me make it clear I agree that the commission should not redo credible work. But, Minister, I know you would agree that not all the district health council work has been well received and there are a great many people who don't believe the work of the district health council is the result of full and fair consultation.

I think, Minister, you would also have to agree that the commission's approach, which is to go in and do things behind closed doors and do it quickly, is an approach that ignores the fact that many boards and staff of hospitals and people in communities are working hard to come up with alternate solutions to what the health council has presented.

I'll give you quickly an example: Women's College Hospital is looking at measures and alternatives to preserve the unique role of their hospital; Wellesley Hospital and Toronto General Hospital are embarking on a merger to save costs but retain services, and yet they're slated for closure under the district health council report; Northwestern General Hospital and Humber Memorial Hospital have begun negotiations to merge --

The Speaker (Hon Allan K. McLean): Put your question, please.

Mrs McLeod: -- and yet one of those hospitals is slated to close. I'm asking you, Minister, whether your commission will be willing to look at these specific alternatives being put forward now, alternatives to district health council reports. Will they be willing to look at credible work that tells a different tale than the work that's been done by the district health council?

Hon Mr Wilson: The commission, as part of its mandate, is to provide and to search for the best available and up-to-date data. That's something the commission itself asked for in its terms of reference. With respect to public consultation, I recall an ad in your local papers and media a week or so ago, the day they announced they were asking for submissions, the day the commission announced it was looking at Thunder Bay, and so they are trying to receive input. That's a process the commission set up at arm's length to me.


I will say one thing about all this, and that is that I recently, at the federal-provincial-territorial ministers of health meeting, had the opportunity to speak with the Minister of Health from the province of Quebec, for example. They did not take the time there to set up a commission, to have experts deal with other experts and try and come up with community solutions and the restructuring. They simply announced, after the last election, the closure of 10 hospitals in the city of Montreal alone. We have a much better system set up that will take the politics out of restructuring and allow the experts to make the decisions which will be good for health care and help us sustain and make the health care system affordable for many more years in the future.


Mr Bud Wildman (Algoma): I have a question of significant importance to the natural resources management in the province, and it goes to the Minister of Natural Resources regarding the notices that have been given out today. I have a list of the notices. Over 900 OPSEU members have received pink slips today -- that's keeping in mind that there are also members of AMAPCEO and management staff who will be affected by these announcements -- 900 across the province receiving pink slips. This is having a devastating effect on the protection of Ontario's natural resources and a devastating impact on communities across Ontario, particularly in northern Ontario.

Perhaps the minister could let us know, after he finishes laying off conservation officers -- even though he promised that wouldn't happen -- after he finishes laying off foresters, biologists, fisheries technicians -- the guardians of our natural resources -- who will manage and protect the natural resources on behalf of the people of Ontario.

Hon Chris Hodgson (Minister of Natural Resources, Northern Development and Mines): I'd like to thank the leader of the third party for the question. Today's a particularly dramatic day for the Ministry of Natural Resources. A number of layoff notices have been issued to staff, over 900, and our staff is dealing with this in as professional a way as possible. There's been training available. It will be hard on the people who are notified today.

We announced that government would become smaller and more efficient. On November 29, we announced the total reductions that the government as a whole would try to find. On April 11, the Chair of Management Board outlined the reductions. We outlined the aggregate number with respect to the Ministry of Natural Resources.

The leader of the third party's question is well taken. How will the natural resources in Ontario be protected? I can assure you that there are business plans in place to make sure the Ministry of Natural Resources focuses on its core responsibilities: protecting the sustainability of our ecosystems and our crown land management. We have business plans as well for fire protection, parks and geographic information systems.

I can assure you that this has been carefully thought out. There are new ways of delivering and meeting the standards. Others may have to do more, and that's clearly been the trend in the Ministry of Natural Resources for a couple of decades now.

Mr Wildman: This is a senseless gutting of the Ministry of Natural Resources. It's going to have a devastating impact on our natural resources and on the environment of this province. It's going to have devastating impacts on lives and communities and families across Ontario. That's going to be the legacy of your being the Minister of Natural Resources.

We have a list here of over 90 communities across Ontario that are being affected by these announcements: 27 OPSEU members in Temagami, out of a total population of less than 1,000; 22 in Cochrane, out of a population of a little more than 4,000; in Toronto there are 35, out of a population of more than two million. In Sault Ste Marie, 67 people will be out of work thanks to this minister. In Thunder Bay, 42 people will no longer have jobs thanks to this minister. These are some examples of what's happening in 90 communities across Ontario.

The Speaker (Hon Allan K. McLean): Put your question, please.

Mr Wildman: These job cuts are going to cripple the local economies of over 90 communities across the province, particularly in northern Ontario. They're going to affect local businesses; they're going to affect the economy of the whole community.

What is this government going to do to assist the communities that are being devastated by your announcements and layoffs today so that these communities will continue to be able to survive and we won't see an enormous spinoff effect of these layoffs in the private sector that will hurt the communities completely?

Hon Mr Hodgson: These are challenging times. We are going to have a smaller government service. But I want to point out to the leader of the third party that the Ministry of Natural Resources has never staffed on proportional population; we staff on the function.

As I explained in my previous answer, the function of the Ministry of Natural Resources is going to be limited to providing core services, and some of those other services that have been traditionally supplied by the ministry will be provided by the private sector. He fully knows, as the former Minister of Natural Resources, under the Bob Carman exercise, there was a transition from the crown providing all the services to the industry, which makes a profit off the forest, to putting more money back into it and providing some of those services. So when he says these communities will be devastated, I don't think so.

On the economic development side -- that's my other ministry -- we'll be monitoring this, but there will be job creation in the private sector to provide a lot of these services that previously were provided solely by the government.

Mr Wildman: Maybe he can tell the people of Blind River, with a population of a little over 3,000, where 15 OPSEU members are losing their jobs, plus management people, maybe he can tell that community that he doesn't think it's going to be devastating.

In response to the minister's reaction that he's allowing companies to self-regulate in forest management, reforestation, wildlife and environmental protection, let's be frank: The reason these layoffs are occurring today is so that this government can finance a tax cut that is going to benefit the rich, and in order to finance this tax cut, you're having devastating effects on our resources.

The question is, is the tax cut that's going to benefit a few very well-to-do people in this province more important than the proper management of our resources? Is it more important than our environment? Is it more important than fish and wildlife? Is it more important than the economic futures of many small communities across this province, particularly in northern Ontario?

Hon Mr Hodgson: It's never easy when you have to downsize. The leader of the third party recognizes this full well. He was a previous minister who went through cost reductions, yet they still ran up a deficit of $9 billion a year and a total debt of $100 billion.

We've tried to deal with this in a rational way. There's been a lot of work. It's not easy, but we think that by focusing on what we should be doing as a ministry we can preserve and conserve and enhance our natural resources.


Mr Tony Silipo (Dovercourt): In the absence of the Minister of Municipal Affairs and Housing, my question is to the Deputy Premier. Minister, you will recall that when we in the NDP were the government, we passed the Rent Control Act, an act that gave tenants some economic security by preventing rents from going through the roof.

We've seen recently the Liberal Party, which voted, as you recall, against the Rent Control Act, now coming on board, finally seeing the wisdom of supporting rent controls. It may have something to do with the fact that there's a by-election going on in York South, but for whatever reason, they seem to have come on board and understood the importance of protecting tenants.


What I want to ask you, Minister, is, will you join them and listen to what some three-and-a-half-million tenants across the province have been saying to your government, which is that we need to continue to keep the rent control system that's there now, that's working, and not water it down, but protect it so that it can protect the rights that tenants have as a result of the legislation that we passed as a government?

Hon Ernie L. Eves (Deputy Premier, Minister of Finance and Government House Leader): I understand that the Minister of Municipal Affairs has been consulting extensively with both tenants and landlords with respect to introducing a new tenant protection package, and we expect that will be forthcoming in the fall session of the Legislature.

But I would say to the honourable member, the current system is not working. It is not working for tenants --

Mr Mike Colle (Oakwood): That is not what the tenants say.

Hon Mr Eves: That is what the tenants say. It is not working for the tenants and it is not working for the landlords in the province of Ontario.

Mr Silipo: The minister may be consulting with tenants, but he's not listening to them, because tenants have been saying to him as recently as in a letter from the East York Tenants' Alliance of May 13, 1996, which reiterates that this same point has been made by many other organizations throughout the province, which is that the position of this organization and many others is, keep your hands off tenants' rights and rent control, and saying that the present system, while there may be some minor flaws, is working to protect tenants. That's what they're saying and that's what they have been saying all along.

Let me remind you again, Minister, what it was like before the Rent Control Act was passed. We saw at the time increases in rents of 20%, 30%, 40%, sometimes 100%. That was before we introduced the Rent Control Act and that was under the legislation that had been previously passed by the Liberal government. As I said earlier, it seems that now the Liberals have come on board, have realized that in fact the provisions of the Rent Control Act are sound and need to be maintained because they provide good, strong protection for tenants.

What we want to ask you again, Minister, is, will you ensure that your colleague the Minister of Municipal Affairs commits to keep the tight cap on rents in the Rent Control Act so that there will be no double-digit rent increases, whether it's in York South, in Dovercourt or anywhere else in the province of Ontario?

Hon Mr Eves: The very same East York alliance that the member is talking about, I am told by the member for Don Mills, has also written letters, as I'm sure he will know, and complained about the lack of maintenance under the current system with respect to buildings. Tenants are complaining about poorly maintained buildings, unsafe buildings. You will also know tenants don't have much of a choice as to where to locate, particularly in the Metropolitan Toronto area. The vacancy rate is 0.8%. It is falling. Nobody's investing in building new apartment buildings in the province of Ontario, particularly in the city of Metropolitan Toronto.

We are consulting with both groups, I can assure the member, tenants and landlords, and we will come up with a system that is fair and equitable to both parties.

Mr Silipo: Let me tell the minister what in fact the East York Tenants' Alliance has said specifically on the issue of maintenance. They say: "The only time we mentioned maintenance was when we demonstrated by factual data that our landlord had made $1 million in profit but still had to be forced via legal interventions to do the necessary repairs on the building. The abolition of rent control would only make this type of situation worse." That's what they have been saying to the Minister of Municipal Affairs, and he just hasn't been listening.

Let me point out to the Deputy Premier another aspect of what his colleague is contemplating as they're looking at gutting rent controls.

Your officials have told tenant groups that rent control won't apply to a unit once a tenant moves out. They call it vacancy decontrol. What it means is that landlords can jack up the rent as much as they want once a tenant moves out.

Minister, since you won't commit to maintaining the structure as it is, will you at least on that point commit that you will not gut the Rent Control Act to the point that it will allow landlords, without controls and without limits, to increase rents once tenants move out of the buildings? Will you do at least that much?

Hon Mr Eves: Through you to the honourable member, he will have to wait and see what the Minister of Municipal Affairs comes up with. But I can assure you that having consulted with both groups, it will be fair and equitable.

I would like to say to the honourable member, during the period of time that his government was in power, there were several buildings in Metro Toronto that had rent increases of 33.7%, 34.31%. Is that the kind of protection you want for tenants in Ontario?

At the end of the day we will come forward with a far more fair and equitable system than we have today. It will protect tenants from unfair rent increases and arbitrary evictions -- I will make that commitment to the member right now -- and it will improve maintenance on those buildings. There will be tough standards set so that when landlords don't take care of their buildings, that will be enforced. It will produce a climate where people will invest in the real estate market, it will create more rental accommodation, particularly in the city of Toronto, it will streamline administration and cut red tape.


Mr James J. Bradley (St Catharines): I have a question for the Minister of Consumer and Commercial Relations, if there is a ministry left.

On several occasions in this House my colleagues and I in the Liberal caucus have directed questions to various ministers in the government about the issue of rising gas prices and the gouging of consumers, and all we have received are dodges and projections of somebody else and the defence of oil companies in this province. In fact, I think the Minister of Economic Development, Trade and Tourism said that Ontario motorists enjoy the most competitive gasoline prices in the world and that overall Ontario is well served. Yet, since the early part of this year, gasoline prices in this province have risen by some 17%.

As an individual who was vociferous in opposition about this and demanding of provincial ministers that they take appropriate action to ensure we have fair gas prices in this province, did you follow the suggestion of my colleague the member for Renfrew North and call the major oil executives who control gas prices in this province and express to them your stern opposition to the price-fixing and gouging they're engaging in now?

Hon Norman W. Sterling (Minister of Consumer and Commercial Relations): Yes.

Mr Bradley: He did call, and we expect that he will tell us what they said, but the fact that he didn't tell us is a clear indication that the news was not good.

South of the border, the Newt Gingrich Republicans, whom your government looked to for ideas and leadership, have decided to blame gas taxes --


Mr Bradley: I hear an interjection, another cheap shot from the cheap shot artist from Burlington South. Why don't you go and buy a television set for your kids now?

South of the border, the Republicans have decided they're going to blame gas taxes and defend the oil companies in the United States.

The only increases we have seen in this province, 17%, have been a result of the determination of the big oil companies to gouge the motoring public and send profits skyrocketing.

Minister, are you prepared now to stand up for consumers of this province and stand up to the major oil companies? Are you prepared to tell oil company executives, and did you tell them, to stop gouging consumers in this province and restore fairness to their pricing policy in Ontario?

Hon Mr Sterling: Yesterday, when questioned on this matter, I mentioned that the taxation issue is a significant part of our gasoline price. As a matter of fact, it's 50% of the total price.

I think it's interesting also to note that the provincial tax is 14.7 cents per litre, whereas the federal tax depends on the price paid by the consumer. As the price goes up, our federal Liberal government profits and gets more money into its tax revenue. Maybe that's why our federal government isn't so concerned about this, because they're getting more money into their treasury.


In 1988, the former government increased taxes on gasoline by one cent a litre on all grades. In 1989, they introduced a gas guzzler tax which ranged from $600 to $3,500 on the sale of cars. In 1989, the Liberal government raised the gas tax by two cents a litre over what they had already done. In 1990, our friend Mr Colle proposed a $53-a-month green fee on every car in Metro Toronto. In 1991, the NDP government increased the gas guzzler tax by $45 million. In 1991, the NDP government increased the gas tax by 3.4 cents a litre.

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


Mrs Marion Boyd (London Centre): My question is for the Minister of Citizenship, Culture and Recreation. Madam Minister, in the Common Sense Revolution, your election document, your government promised that aid for seniors and the disabled would not be cut, and yet despite that promise, over the last few months we've watched your government strip away many of the gains the disabled community and previous governments had worked hard to achieve.

On May 24, 1995, your Premier promised, first, that he would see that an Ontarians with Disabilities Act was enacted within the first term of your office; second, that he would work with the Ontarians with Disabilities Act Committee to achieve that. Since the election, the Premier has refused to meet with the Ontarians with Disabilities Act Committee and has referred them to you. To this point, you have not had the decency to meet with them or to discuss this matter or to make a commitment.

This morning, the few members of your caucus who were present passed a resolution endorsing that the government follow the promise of the Premier. My question for you, Madam Minister, is, first, will you also stand up today and endorse the resolution that your government keep its promise to bring forward an Ontarians with Disabilities Act within this term, and second, will you commit to meet with the committee that has been formed from a coalition of many, many different groups, and has been working on this issue for some time, within the next month?

Hon Marilyn Mushinski (Minister of Citizenship, Culture and Recreation): I have said before and I'm going to say it again and I'm going to repeat it today that this government is absolutely committed to the interests and dignity of persons with disabilities, and we are particularly sensitive to the challenges they face both in the workplace and wider society. Let me tell you some of the things we have done.

We introduced an equal opportunity plan that spoke specifically to including a component on disability and the workplace. Included in that disability component is assistance for employers and employees with respect to barrier removal for persons with disabilities.

We are going to enhance the access fund to provide access and job accommodation opportunities for persons with disabilities.

We have established a pilot project that will test consumer-focused approaches to job accommodation programs.

We are developing a new community-based approach to support the dignity and interests of vulnerable persons and have dedicated $3 million to that program.

We are also reforming the Ontario Human Rights Commission and Ontario Human Rights Code to enable full opportunity for access to that code for people with disabilities.

Mrs Boyd: The member for Nepean already read that list into the record this morning, but thank you for repeating it. I guess you didn't feel you had time to commit yourself to endorsing the resolution this morning and working with the committee to accomplish it. The people who have disabilities in this province are finding it hard to buy your commitment to barrier removal.

We had another example yesterday in this building, when this government refused to ensure barrier reduction services. Prior to the election, the Premier said, "A Harris government would work to ensure that all new intercity buses purchased in Ontario are fully accessible." That was his promise, and remember, this is a Premier who says if he breaks his promise, he'll resign. Yet yesterday, at the standing committee on resources development, your government colleagues voted down a proposed amendment presented by the Transportation Action Now group that would eliminate obstacles to ensure the accessibility of intercity buses. The actions of your caucus last night broke your government's promise to the disabled community. We want your assurance today that you will commit to include those amendments in Bill 39 to keep the government's promise to ensure accessibility to intercity buses.

Hon Ms Mushinski: I find this interesting coming from the member who for a year sat on an Ontario disabilities act, did nothing about it and allowed it to die on the order paper. But having said that, let me tell you that fully accessible transit services continue to remain --


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

Hon Ms Mushinski: Let me tell you that fully accessible transit services remain a long-term goal of this government. We are committed to working cooperatively with the transit industry --


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

Hon Ms Mushinski: -- in providing effective and efficient transportation services that will meet the needs of all citizens in Ontario.

Let me also say that Bill 39 is interim legislation which all parties agreed to pass quickly to maintain a regulated environment in the intercity busing industry until full deregulation occurs, scheduled for 1998. This government will be willing to enact such legislation at the appropriate time after full consultation with other disabled groups and the industry has taken place, just as we did with repealing the Advocacy Act.


Mr Rob Sampson (Mississauga West): My question is to the Minister of Community and Social Services. The people in my riding, and all Mississaugans in the area and people across the province, are interested in the introduction of workfare. As you may recall, the region of Peel recently passed a motion with respect to a workfare initiative that it's quite anxious to get going. Can you tell the House when you'll be introducing work for welfare?

Hon David H. Tsubouchi (Minister of Community and Social Services): First of all, we will be introducing workfare in mid-June. Secondly, I think it's terrific that so many communities and municipalities across the province are indicating a lot of enthusiasm for the program. Certainly Peel has shown a lot of leadership in indicating its enthusiasm to participate in a program that's going to get people back to work, get people off welfare and help them break the cycle of dependency into self-sufficiency.

Perhaps I could just indicate as well a quote from the Belleville social services director. Mr Eric Frye, from Hastings county, says: "Hastings county is eager and people want to be part of the program. I don't think we'll need to twist anybody's arm. People will line up."

This will be phased in. We'll start with able-bodied people -- 15 communities across the province. It will be mandatory, and the exceptions to this of course, as you know, will be people with disabilities, seniors and single parents with young children.


Mr Sampson: Workfare has received a lot of attention recently in the press. I was wondering -- because sometimes what I read in the press I find is not exactly the truth -- whether you could tell me about the government initiatives in workfare. I understand there are some myths about this program. For example, some critics claim this will actually displace people who have fully paying jobs now. Can you address that in your reply to me as well.

Hon Mr Tsubouchi: First of all, I just want to indicate the motivation. The reason we're embarking upon fundamental reform of the system is that the status quo didn't work. The past experiences of prior governments of throwing money at the problem certainly didn't work, and that was an indication of $40 billion over the last 10 years. Certainly that's not the solution.

I want to advise the honourable member specifically that there are a couple of things that workfare will be and will not be. It will not be make-work projects. The intention is to have programs and projects that will improve the community. Secondly, it will not displace people with paid jobs. That's a very important principle.

If I could characterize this better, not in my own words, but I'll use the words of my friend from Hamilton East, on April 18, 1994 --


Hon Mr Tsubouchi: I understand the opposition has an opportunity to heckle, but don't they have to be in their own seats to do this?

Anyway, to quote, "One of the things I like about it often is you hear people saying, the people who receive welfare should be made to work for their assistance."


Hon Mr Tsubouchi: I can't even hear myself speak, Mr Speaker.

"Here we have a program that does just that. The recipient picks up the job experience and knowledge, and the senior or disabled receive a benefit as well." That's speaking about a program similar to workfare.

He indicated on May 20, 1994 -- this is even better -- in the Hamilton Spectator, that welfare recipients work for the city or region for 16 weeks, where, Mr Agostino said, they pick up the job skills and much-needed work experience that they can use on a résumé.

The Speaker (Hon Allan K. McLean): New question, the member for Hamilton East.

Mr Dominic Agostino (Hamilton East): I can discuss that with the Minister of Community and Social Services at a later time. It was Helping Hands, a program in Hamilton that was voluntary, not mandatory.


Mr Dominic Agostino (Hamilton East): My question is to the Minister of Citizenship, Culture and Recreation. To go back to the point made by the member for London Centre earlier, this morning hundreds of disabled individuals from across Ontario came to the Legislature looking for some hope, for some leadership and some direction from your government. They came here looking for a commitment that your Premier made when he went out during the election campaign and promised to the community that he would enact legislation, that he would enact the Ontarians with Disabilities Act.

I'm astonished at your response to the member for London Centre. You did not answer the question. You have refused to meet with the organization; your Premier has refused to meet with the organization; you refuse to outline a timetable.

A very simple question, Minister -- and I don't want to hear what you've done in the past; I want to know what you're going to do in the future: Will you meet with this organization? When will you bring in the legislation your Premier promised during the election campaign?

Hon Marilyn Mushinski (Minister of Citizenship, Culture and Recreation): I think I need to remind the member what was said during the election campaign that he referred to. I'm quoting from the ARCH, or Advocacy Resource Centre for the Handicapped, May-June survey of the three political parties during last year's election. This is what our party said. It said that "a Harris government would be willing to enact an Ontario with Disabilities Act within the first term of office, within the economic goalposts of the Common Sense Revolution."

Quite clearly, some of the initiatives we have taken that I alluded to in my response to the honourable member for London Centre are addressing those particular issues with respect to disability.

Mr Agostino: It's a disgraceful answer from a disgraceful minister. I cannot understand --


The Speaker (Hon Allan K. McLean): Order. I ask the member if he would reconsider the word "disgraceful."

Mr Agostino: The minister sits there, was asked specifically why she refuses to meet with the disabled community, doesn't answer; was asked specifically when she's going to enact the legislation, doesn't answer; and then gives us the garbage that says, "We're going to enact this within the economic goalposts."

What you're saying to the people of Ontario is that these goalposts, as you set them in some part of the field you may have burned down and destroyed already -- what you're saying is that the issue of equality, that the issue of equal access, that the issue of education and jobs for the disabled community depends on your economic goalposts. What you're saying is that your priority to give a 30% cut to the rich is more important than ensuring equal access for the disabled in this province. Minister, that is a disgrace.

The Speaker: What's your question?

Mr Agostino: Minister, without telling me what you've done in the past, can you tell us today why you're refusing to meet with the committee, and can you tell us again a time line when you're going to bring in this legislation and stop playing games with the disabled community across Ontario?

The Speaker: The question has been asked.

Hon Ms Mushinski: I can assure the honourable member that indeed I have not refused to meet and, at their request, they delayed such a meeting. I will be meeting with them in June and it has already been scheduled.


Mr Rosario Marchese (Fort York): My question is to the Minister of Community and Social Services. Your ministry's estimates tabled yesterday contained a line called "Specialized Employment Services and Supports." This program includes employment services for social assistance recipients who have barriers to employment, it includes shelter workshops, vocational rehabilitation, services training, allowances and benefits, and other rehabilitation services for people with disabilities.

Given your stated concern for equality for all people, this particular move surprised us, because it means that you've cut $12 million away from that particular budget. Minister, are you planning to make vocational rehabilitation services a program of last resort available only to those people with disabilities who receive social assistance?

Hon David H. Tsubouchi (Minister of Community and Social Services): In response to the honourable member's question, there have been no recent program changes to the VRS program. The objective of the program of course is to enable a disabled person to become capable of pursuing employment.

An additional fact that perhaps I can pass on to the member as well is that we are looking at a number of program and programming policy changes and we're discussing these with our advisory committee on the disabled. They are participating very closely with us in formulating our policy in this area. We're trying to direct our resources to their needs specifically.

Mr Marchese: This is a $12-million cut to this particular program that services people with disabilities. It's a huge cut. We had a number of people come here today from Hamilton, from London, from Toronto and all over, and they've told us they suffer substantial disadvantages and exclusion from the mainstream of Ontario society. They now face numerous barriers in fully participating in important activities such as jobs, education at all levels, public transit and the use of goods, services and facilities, and you're telling us that you're helping them out. This is a $12-million cut. It's a big, big cut to this budget.

Minister, what these people told us today that they want from you is a guarantee that you will not take any steps to restrict eligibility for vocational rehabilitation services in Ontario. Will you give that guarantee to the people who are watching here today?

Hon Mr Tsubouchi: There are I guess two issues here. The first one is that I met within the last couple of weeks with my advisory committee on the disabled. I think the honourable member realizes that. We've had some really good discussions in terms of trying to confirm to them specifically for this year that our transfer partners in the development services area will not have any cuts to their budgets at all.

Secondly, we had a further discussion with them to indicate the type of direction we need to take to assist people with disabilities get back to work. Our ministry will be working with them to develop the programs they really do need, and to address their specific needs and requests.



Mr Ted Arnott (Wellington): My question is for the Minister of Health. Last Friday I met with a group of doctors who practise in Wellington. They're very concerned about quite a number of issues, most of all issues which directly affect their patients' care. I raised with them the problem we have in many communities in Wellington and across rural Ontario, that is, a shortage of doctors.

For example, in the village of Drayton, where only a few months ago three doctors served a catchment-area population of about 7,000 people, after next month there will only be one doctor serving some 7,000 people. To put this in some sort of perspective, members should know that in Metro, on average, there is one family doctor for every 836 people. There's also a doctor shortage in Clifford and Mount Forest and many other communities in rural Ontario.

Clearly we need to have a policy which encourages a better distribution of doctors so that people in rural Ontario can access primary health care and rural doctors aren't forced to work 24 hours a day. Can the minister inform the House what he's doing to help ensure a better distribution of doctors in all areas of the province?

Hon Jim Wilson (Minister of Health): I appreciate the question from my colleague the member for Wellington. I know that areas in his riding like Mount Forest and Clifford are already designated under the underserviced area program. We'll be receiving, I understand, a submission from Drayton in the near future, and I will expedite the ministry's decision, my decision, with respect to access to that program.

In the province over the last number of years, there has been the underserviced area program, the specialist retention initiative, locum support, visiting clinic support, the rural Ontario medicine program, a whole host of programs that have provided incentives to physicians, particularly graduating physicians, to go to areas where they're needed.

Unfortunately -- and I'm a little thrown off -- May 15, yesterday's edition of the Windsor Star, for example, in the editorial, of which the subtitle is "Medical Diagnosis," it says, "Shortage equals opportunity equals job." It's a misunderstanding of how doctors are able to set up practices in this province. The editorial, for example, assumes that doctors will go where the opportunities are. That is not the case. We have a number of overserviced areas.

Within four days of graduation, the Minister of Health in this province, by law, hands a billing number to a physician, and they can go and practise wherever they want, regardless of whether the market needs their services or not. As you know, the government has taken and is taking a number of initiatives, including some suggestions that have come forward recently from the Professional Association of Internes and Residents of Ontario. I hope, on behalf of all members in the House, to be making an announcement in the near future with respect to responding to PAIRO's particular recommendations to us.

Mr Arnott: I realize this is an extremely complex problem and I wish the minister well in finding a solution. It has not been made any easier by the federal government, which has reduced transfers to Ontario for health care by about $1 billion while they have denied the provinces the flexibility they need through strict enforcement of the Canada Health Act.

It has been suggested to me that a positive incentive to encourage more doctors to move and practise in rural areas would be to create a more flexible pay structure for doctors while maintaining the overall cap on doctors' compensation for the whole province at $8.3 billion. As an interim measure, we could institute a reasonable fee threshold for overserviced areas while allowing doctors in underserviced areas to practise and bill OHIP free from a cap. This might encourage more doctors who are presently in overserviced areas to move and practise in the underserviced areas in the province. I'd encourage the minister to look at this idea.

Another option the minister has is to introduce temporary moratoriums on issuing billing numbers to doctors in overserviced areas in order to encourage doctors to practise where they're needed. Is the minister planning to take this approach?

Hon Mr Wilson: Ontario today pays its doctors the best in the country. We spend, on a per capita basis, 18.5% more than the national average in this province. So we're spending enough on medical services in this province, and we now have a health care budget that would be hard to match anywhere in the world with respect to per capita funding.

I think the answer to this lies in many of the suggestions the honourable member for Wellington has put forward. I would tell you, for example, that four other provinces have thresholds. We have thresholds now; they're just so high that it's almost impossible to achieve them, so they are meaningless. The fact of the matter is that the physician action plan I mailed out to all physicians last month talks about thresholds, and even in the worst-case scenario for physicians, only 13% of the physicians in this province would be affected.

We have some extremely high billers in the province, and they're taking away money from communities like yours, Mr Arnott, communities like mine, Alliston and Collingwood, where doctors are needed, where they're making good use of their money, where they are using every penny for patients. Therefore, thresholds would be a way of equalizing some of the payments across the province and wouldn't affect a large number of doctors.

We also have Bill 26, which this government had the courage to bring forward -- and I didn't hear a lot of applause from papers like the Windsor Star -- where we are prepared, if the voluntary measures don't work and our new incentive packages don't work, to move billing numbers where the customers are so that graduating physicians -- and we graduate 700 a year. Very quickly, Mr Speaker, if half of the graduating class this year would go where they're needed, half of 700 would go where they're needed, it would be problem solved. We hope the voluntary measures will solve --

The Speaker (Hon Allan K. McLean): The question has been answered. It was one minute and 30 seconds.


Mr Bruce Crozier (Essex South): My question is for the Minister of Finance. I believe he's in the area of the House.

Mr Chris Stockwell (Etobicoke West): There he is right there. No, but the House leader's there.

Mr Crozier: Well, I'll proceed with the question. In answer to a question of mine on May 13, the Premier said, "The member wants to know when the good news can be received by all the people of Ontario, and I will respond that as we are speaking now, the legislation is being drafted." That was with reference to auto insurance. You went out and spread the good news prior to the budget. I wonder if you could surely give this House and the drivers of Ontario some assurance that the legislation that's now being drafted will reduce auto insurance premiums.

Hon Ernie L. Eves (Deputy Premier, Minister of Finance and Government House Leader): The honourable member will have to wait until the proposed legislation comes forward. I can assure him, though, that's going to happen. Within a matter of weeks he will see the legislation presented in the House. My colleague Mr Sampson, my parliamentary assistant, has worked very diligently with respect to the issue of auto insurance and changing the system in the province of Ontario. I can assure the honourable member that any legislation that will come forward as a result of our efforts and consultation with the industry will be a lot better than Bill 164 or any one of the other predecessors on auto insurance in the province of Ontario.



Mr Tony Ruprecht (Parkdale): This petition is addressed to the assembly of Ontario.

"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 and youth because it is within walking distance to illicit drug and prostitution activities; a large number of unsupervised and supervised homes that are home to ex-psychiatric patients, parolees, and our society's most vulnerable and ostracized members; and a number of licensed establishments that have been charged with various liquor infractions; and

"Whereas the 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 or disenfranchised people;

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

I have affixed my signature to this document.



Mr John R. Baird (Nepean): It's my pleasure to present a petition signed by constituents in Nepean, Ottawa and Kanata.

"To the Legislative Assembly of Ontario:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

I have affixed my signature thereto because I'm in agreement.


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

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

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

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

I've affixed my signature.


Mr Ron Johnson (Brantford): It gives me great pleasure to rise to present a petition on behalf of hundreds of constituents in my riding, and the petition reads:

"The government has stated they plan on selling off 84,000 units which are owned by the Ontario Housing Corp. We are in favour of keeping Ontario Housing Corp, which assists people on limited incomes to have decent affordable housing."

It's a pleasure to affix my signature as well.



Mr Gilchrist from the standing committee on resources development presented the following report and moved its adoption:

Your committee begs to report the following bill without amendment:

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

The Acting Speaker (Mr Ted Arnott): Shall Bill 39 be ordered for third reading? Agreed.



Mr Sterling moved first reading of the following bill:

Bill 54, An Act to provide for the delegation of the administration of certain designated statutes to designated administrative authorities and to provide for certain limitation periods in those statutes / Projet de loi 54, Loi prévoyant la délégation de l'application de certaines lois désignées à des organismes d'application désignés et prévoyant certains délais de prescription dans ces lois.

The Acting Speaker (Mr Ted Arnott): Shall the motion carry? Carried.

Minister, do you have any comments?

Hon Norman W. Sterling (Minister of Consumer and Commercial Relations): I am pleased to introduce for first reading the Safety and Consumer Statutes Adminstration Act. This legislation will cut red tape and provide more effective services to the public. The act would allow the government to delegate to the private sector certain functions currently carried out by the Ministry of Consumer and Commercial Relations. The legislation would make it possible for the ministry to focus more attention on results rather that the delivery mechanisms on technical procedures. I urge all members to support this bill in the interests of safety standards and consumer protection.


Hon Ernie L. Eves (Deputy Premier, Minister of Finance and Government House Leader): Before proceeding with orders of the day, I'd like to indicate the order of business, not for next week, because we won't be here next week, but for the week after. Pursuant to standing order 55, I wish to indicate the business of the House for the week of May 27, 1996. As members are aware, the Legislature does not sit the week of May 20.

On Monday, May 27, we will begin second reading of Bill 49, An Act to improve the Employment Standards Act. We are going to be having discussions among the House leaders on that particular piece of legislation and others prior to that on the Monday, so that may in part determine how those discussions proceed. However, it is our intention to begin second reading debate on Monday.

Tuesday, May 28, will be an opposition day standing in the name of the leader of the official opposition.

The balance of the week will be forthcoming depending on what we decide at the House leaders' meeting. Sorry.

On Thursday morning, private members' public business, we will consider ballot item number 31, standing in the name of the member for Scarborough East, and ballot item number 32, standing in the name of the member for Parkdale. That will be Thursday, May 30.

Mr David Christopherson (Hamilton Centre): On a point of order, Mr Speaker: I want to be sure that Hansard reflects the fact that there was no House leaders' meeting today. In the absence of that, we attempted to have a quick meeting behind your chair regarding --

The Acting Speaker (Mr Ted Arnott): That is not a point of order. I would ask you to take your seat. You do not have a point of order.



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 Mario Sergio (Yorkview): I am quite pleased to speak on Bill 47. Although we may call it by any other name, it's the budget itself. Before I give my account or speak on some of the most important points of the budget, let me say that the other day the member for Etobicoke West said that he had no problem, that indeed it was very easy --

Mr Chris Stockwell (Etobicoke West): I've got lots of problems.

Mr Sergio: I'm pleased to see that the member for Etobicoke West is on the right side of the House, which means he agrees more often with what we have to say on this side than the other side. I'm quite pleased to welcome him.

If it is indeed very easy to sell the budget in Etobicoke West, a riding that has elected a Conservative member, it is because they have to try to sell the imbalance that exists within the document itself. It is a budget that has a fancy cover, a very nice painted house on one side, but really it has no shelving and no goods on the inside.

Before I get to the content of my presentation, let me say what some of the journalists within Metropolitan Toronto have to say with respect to the content of the budget. These are not quotes coming from this side of the House -- the Liberal side or the NDP side -- they are from people who, I am sure, have no interest other than telling it the way it is.


Let me just quote from the Globe and Mail of May 8, 1996. I won't be quoting everything, because it would take perhaps most of the half-hour which I'm allotted to address this today. Just to mention some of the quotes, it says:

"The specifics are missing and the generalities are numbing....

"What's missing here, and in much of the Ontario Tory agenda, is a clear sense of conviction and determination. The paper" -- meaning the budget -- "often seems more like an attempt by the government to convince itself that the policies it intends to follow are the right ones. Despite the highly motivated push to cut taxes and balance the budget, the Tories are creating their economic policy as they go along. The principles are there, somewhere, but there is no plan for execution."

With respect to tax hikes and the plebiscite which seems to be on again, off again, but more on than not: "Premier Mike Harris" -- the other day -- "says he wants legislation to force government to hold referendums on tax hikes in place by fall 1997." The Premier finds this most convenient since he has already done his dirty work in imposing all kinds of tax hikes, if you will, through user fees. Now he's coming back and saying he will want to see a referendum before any tax hike will take place. He does say he's intent on providing that by the fall of 1997. "`I don't plan to ask for any tax increases in '97 but we'd like to have a mechanism in place [by then],' he said yesterday," which meant on May 9. "`I think you'll see this in the next period of time.'" I have to remind the Premier that "During the election, Harris promised to immediately pass a taxpayers' protection act that would compel government to get taxpayer approval for new tax hikes." He promised also that if he couldn't do that, he would resign.

I would like to remind the Premier to stop making comments like this, because he has broken practically every promise he has made during the campaign and in his Common Sense Revolution. Therefore, one of these days, if it's not on this side of the House, the people of Ontario will be calling for his neck if he continues to say, "If I don't deliver, I will be resigning." Politicians are famous for making promises they can't keep. God, please save us from the promises of the Conservative government. So far they have indeed broken every promise practically that they have made.

But there is a beauty here, and this is as recent as May 14, 1996. It says, "There's No Free Lunch In Tax Cut." What does it say?

"Much of the public discussion regarding the effectiveness of the Ontario government's personal income tax reduction centres on the issue of whether or not it will increase consumer confidence. This is not, however, the most central issue."

I have to say, and I think I have to repeat, that this has been said already by previous speakers -- the latest one last night by the member for Dovercourt -- that the main, the principal issue of the budget, of Bill 47, is the creation of jobs. Without the creation of jobs, without putting people back to work, we cannot see the economy prospering and the government getting money from that economy.

It continues on to say, "The people of Ontario will over the next few years bear the effects of this black magic as the social fabric of this province is severely threatened." Who could disagree with this?

We have seen in the last couple of years four major documents produced by this government, and very soon, on June 8 -- I don't know if we should say we're celebrating the first anniversary of this government, but let me tell you that the people of Ontario have nothing to celebrate for the first year of this government. We had, in 1994, the Common Sense Revolution. Then, in September 1995, we had the speech from the throne. In November, we had the now infamous Bill 26 or, as we call it, the fiscal and economic statement. Now, of course, we have the budget.

None of these documents spells out, concentrates on how to get the economy going and create jobs for the people of Ontario. As I will be saying later on, we will see that there are fewer working people or 10,000 more unemployed people from January of this year to now. There are 10,000 more unemployed people since January 1996.

I wonder if the Premier and the members of the government side, through the Common Sense Revolution and the budget and all other documents they have provided and faced the people of Ontario with so far creating 725,000 jobs, can, on a daily basis almost, defend their documents that they will indeed create the 725,000 jobs.

The quotes continue. There is one that says, "The historical commitment to pick up the 75% for transportation repairs and maintenance is gone." Minister Ernie Eves says, "We will give municipalities across Ontario $60 million to fix Ontario roads." Metro alone needs that amount of money to barely maintain the Metro roads in a healthy condition.

The Globe and Mail of May 8 says that it's no more than "a collection of woolly slogans and mushy generalities." Right on the nose, right on the dot. The Globe and Mail of May 8, 1996, says on the economic policies for jobs and growth, it is "a jigsaw puzzle assemblage of the latest neo-con economic studies" that happened to roll across some minister's desk. You know what? They all tend to agree that as content the budget of May 7 or Bill 47 does exactly that.

This budget, as I said, is nothing more than a paper-doll house all dressed up with nice colours, nice fanciful words, good artwork, but on the inside there is no substance. There is no guarantee that it will stand up to even the most feeble breeze. Like a doll house, this budget is adorned with fancy words, fluffy terms, but the inside is totally empty. It is a budget based on promise and a premise that God must intervene with his unwavering intervention and see that nothing, absolutely nothing, wrong is going to happen for the next four years, even any unforeseen or unexpected, adversely affecting act of God. Otherwise, we are doomed with disaster.

The finance minister, Mr Eves, is right. The success of the budget is based on certain factors and only on those factors; otherwise, it is going to fail. What are exactly those factors? That people will spend more, that the economy will stay healthy and continue to grow and that indeed jobs, a lot of jobs, will be created.


I am very much afraid, and the finance minister and the Premier know that, that they have built their dollhouse, they've planted their budget on quicksand in the eye of a fast-approaching windstorm.

First, Mr Speaker -- I'm sorry, Madam Speaker, we are used to calling Mr Speaker, and I hope that you get used to my saying that from time to time.

Madam Speaker, first let me say that --

Mr John R. Baird (Nepean): She should not have to get used to that.

The Acting Speaker (Ms Marilyn Churley): Order, please.

Mr Sergio: She's doing a heck of a job; therefore, I wouldn't mind getting used to Madam Speaker.

On the first notion that people will spend more, let me say, where are they going to get the extra money? Of course, I forgot: the 30% rebate, yes. Let's see that.

Page 32 of the budget says that 91% of all taxpayers will receive a tax cut of 30% or more. Out of this 91%, 64% are the so-called middle-income Ontarians earning between $25,000 and $75,000 a year. Let me tell the minister and the Premier how much more money this large group of 64% will really have to spend.

A single person earning $25,000 a year will receive a tax cut of approximately, believe it or not, $2.30 per week in 1996; $4 a week in 1997; and about $4.90 a week in 1999. This you can hardly call more money to spend.

But even so, let's look at the upper-middle-income group making $50,000, $60,000. They would receive a big bargain of about $8.50 a week or about $221 yearly. This group now is hit with a health surtax of an extra $100 a year. So as you can see, the large group of 64% will not have that extra amount of money to spend and get the economy moving. Therefore, the first notion that people will spend more is really not realistic.

With respect to the second notion that the economy will stay strong and it will continue to grow, this comes in the face of some 12,000 job cuts, cuts in health care, cuts in education and cuts to municipalities. If -- and I'll call the Minister of Finance Mr If from now on, because I think that is the appropriate term -- the economy falters, it will be the scapegoat. The alibi of the finance minister, Mr If, will be off the hook. If the economy falters, he will blame the Liberals in Ottawa or the Democrats in Washington or the European common market or maybe an act of God.

Madam Speaker, as you can see, the Premier and his finance minister have a lot to worry about, especially when they say that their figures are based on conscious and prudent economic projections. But hold on; don't panic; on page 5 it says that these projections include a contingency reserve.

They have a contingency reserve in case of economic difficulties; not to worry. We have indeed a contingency which I have not been able to find anywhere in the budget as presented by the minister.

The only thing that I can say, since they only have about half a line on this supposed contingency fund, I can assume, and I would say it's the most realistic assumption, that they will have to do one or two things or both: (1) They will have to cut more; (2) they will have to borrow more money. As I said, I think the two combined make more sense because, the way the budget is presented, there is absolutely nothing, in case the economy falters, with respect to a contingency fund.

Mr Baird: Six hundred fifty million dollars, Mario.

Mr Sergio: Thank you very much for saying that. I'm pleased the member agrees with what I said, because $600 million in a faltering economy is absolutely a drop in the bucket. When we talk about creating 725,000 jobs and the member on the government side agrees they have stashed away somewhere $600 million, we will need God's intervention that nothing will happen, hopefully, that we don't have to dig into a contingency amount of $600 million to protect the faltering economy and the unemployed people in our province.

If this is the safety net, if this is how the government would react to a faltering economy -- cut and borrow -- the paper house will crumble and the economy will go. The economy will sink because it lacks substance; it doesn't have any solid base. That's why this notion will fail, because it is based on too many ifs.

The third notion is that jobs will be created. Perhaps as if by magic it is going to create jobs, 725,000 of them. It's what the Common Sense Revolution said on page 19, and I want to read this quote to you because I think it's fundamental, "Our commitment is carved in stone." The creation of the Common Sense Revolution, the creation of 725,000 jobs is carved in stone. If this is not a promise, can the government please tell us what it is?

The fact is that in the budget of May 7 we see that this is not the case. We see that the budget that was delivered on May 7 barely, even though they say this is a Conservative prognostic, proposed to create about half of those 725,000 jobs.

What we have seen in the Common Sense Revolution and what we are getting now are a total abortion. It's a total aberration of the truth. This document presented to the people of Ontario on May 7, 1996, with an abominable amount of pomposity admits to deliver solely 287,000 jobs.

Mr Baird: Ah.

Mr Sergio: I would say to the member on the other side agreeing with what I'm saying that they had better start to put more money in the contingency fund because $600 million will not create another 400,000 jobs.

That is their projection within this fancy document. If, by the words and deeds of the Premier and the Minister of Finance, they will create 287,000 jobs in the next three years, are they telling us, the people of Ontario, that in the last year of their mandate they will create some 350,000 to 400,000 jobs? Isn't this what the Premier is saying within their own document? I'm sure the Premier must have agreed with the Minister of Finance and his caucus to present the people of Ontario with a document that totally fails the unemployed people of Ontario, the people who will be coming to colleges and universities in the next three years.

Where are they going to find the jobs when the government is telling them today that, "We will not be creating the 725,000 jobs that we said a year ago" -- it's almost two years now -- when they are saying that, "Conservatively, yes, we will provide 287,000 jobs for the next three years"? If they are upset out there, I think they are upset with good reason. So the third notion of job creation is totally out the window.


Page 2 of the Common Sense Revolution, in unequivocal terms, says the people need jobs, the people need jobs now, the people need jobs today, not three years, not four years from now. What is the Premier going to tell the unemployed people of this province? What are you, Premier, telling the people of Ontario? That you have failed to deliver on the 725,000 jobs? What are you going to tell the college and university graduates? That there won't be jobs for them? Are you going to inspire confidence in our youth, or are you planning perhaps permanent boot camps?

Premier, this budget is a huge disappointment. It's a huge disappointment for every member of our society who was looking at a government for a hand up and not a slap in the face.

Let me bring to the House a little bit of good news, because I think we get bad news on a daily basis. I would hope that perhaps we get more good news from the people of Ontario on both sides of the House. Let me read this letter, because this is very, very fresh, and I want to make sure I read it as it is. It's addressed to me and it says:

"Dear Mario:

"The following is information that I would like to take this opportunity to bring to your attention. On April 23, 1996, I was admitted to Etobicoke General Hospital for the removal of a malignant tumour on the small intestine. The result of this operation was successful; however, I am compelled to wear an ostomy," whatever that is.

"Mario, my point is that the home health care follow-up service has been absolutely fantastic. It is difficult to find words to express the service supplied. The home care provided for me is by the St Elizabeth health care service, located in Don Mills.

"It would be a complete and total disaster if that Harris bunch ever decided to reduce the cost of funding of this and similar organizations. However, with their lack of knowledge and intelligent experience to carry out required research and to analyse the problems that would obviously be created, along with the present ill-qualified Minister of Health, they are quite capable of doing just that."

It's signed and it says, "Mario, I trust in your wisdom."

What does this say to the members of this House here, on both sides of this House, but specifically the people on the government side? It says that the people out there appreciate the service that is being provided today by those service agencies. What they are telling the Premier, the finance minister and the members of this House is that if the service provided by these agencies is cut by the Premier, by the government, if funding is cut, this particular service will no longer be provided. Those agencies will not be able to afford to provide this wonderful service for the people of Ontario.

I'm looking at the watch and I only have a couple of minutes to go, and I have so much to say. I think we should encourage -- and I would bring this to the attention of the government side -- keeping, maintaining, increasing the funding to those agencies that provide this important and necessary service specialty in the health care field.

Since I am on the health care area, let me say one thing again that is contained within the Common Sense Revolution. This is important because I am sure the members of the government side have read every page, every line, every word of the budget as it is presented. But I would encourage every one of them to read it a second time and to take their time and read it slowly, because with respect to the contents of the budget, which is part of the incorporation of the Common Sense Revolution, let me read what it says: "A `Fair Share' health care levy will be collected through the provincial income tax, with the rich paying more than the middle class, and people making less than $50,000 a year paying nothing."

I think this is important, because I think the members of the government side have forgotten what their own Common Sense Revolution says: the people making less than $50,000 paying nothing. "The average middle-class family will still save more than $4,000 over three years." We have seen the 30% rebate to the people making less than $50,000. I don't know if the minister or the Premier continues to have trouble with figures, but there is nothing in the budget as it is presented which tells me or the members of the House or the people of Ontario that those people making less than $50,000 will be getting a rebate of $4,000 over the next three years. It isn't there, and it just is not so.

I have to conclude my remarks, unfortunately, and I want to thank you for your time.

The Acting Speaker: Questions or comments?

Mr Toni Skarica (Wentworth North): I found the member's comments curious about not being able to find the reserve of $650 million in the budget. I took two minutes and found it on page 54 of the budget. There it is in plain English, "a reserve of $650 million."

I also found curious his comment that it's only $650 million, it's a drop in the bucket. I gather the Liberals say that because if you move one page forward to page 55 of the budget, you see Ontario's debt projections, and it has a review of what happened to the debt while the Liberals were in power during probably one of the greatest economic booms of this province. What they did is they increased taxes 33 times, and even that wasn't enough to fund all their spending, because they took our debt from $30 billion to $42 billion, an increase of 33%. The point is that it's an increase of $12 billion. When you're spending like that, it's no wonder you say $650 million of public money is a drop in the bucket.

Another thing that nobody has mentioned is that there are certain benefits to meeting deficit targets and reducing government debt, and they're included in the budget. Everybody seems to be overlooking it. On page 49 of the budget there's an interesting note, and none of the members have mentioned it, the opposition members, of course. We've saved approximately $645 million in lower interest costs as a result of lowering our deficit; you don't have to pay a premium for your debts.

As well, just recently there was a scare again from Quebec that they may have a snap election and a referendum. A year ago that would have been devastating to Ontario because 35% of our debt was payable in foreign currencies, but because we are reducing our debt and deficit, we've been able to reschedule all that debt so only about 1% is payable in foreign currency, and so we're not hostage to events that occur --


The Acting Speaker: The member's time is up. Further questions or comments?

Mr James J. Bradley (St Catharines): It's my pleasure to commend the member for an outstanding speech on the bill which is before us.

The member for Wentworth North who commented of course would be one of those individuals who would be very concerned, having been a crown attorney. The former Liberal government hired a number of crown attorneys so we could prosecute cases in this province, so he'd be very pleased that there were those expenditures and that some of his colleagues now are going to be turfed out the door as a result of the cuts that are taking place with this government that has decided it's not going to be prosecuting certain cases, such as break-and-enters, as much as it used to in the past. I know he will be very pleased with that kind of spending, when he had a job with the government, and that will now be lost and that kind of prosecution won't take place.

Second, I know he would be concerned, as well as my colleague was, that this government is going to have to spend a minimum, over this term of office, of $13 billion that it's going to have to borrow in order to give an income tax break which will benefit the most wealthy people in our society the most. That's additional borrowing to do it.

If in fact the budget were balanced one could say that would make a lot of sense, and if the government were saying, "Well, we're going to move in that direction because that's an indicator we want to give," that would make some sense, but they're going to have to borrow probably over $20 billion before the budget is actually balanced: $13 billion during the term of office, but remember that you're not going to balance the budget during your term of office; it is projected that you would want to do that in an additional year.

The disabled people who were here this morning of course have also been affected by the fact that this government has been cutting services which would be of benefit to disabled people in this province, and for that the government deserves condemnation.

Mr Jean-Marc Lalonde (Prescott and Russell): First, I'd like to congratulate my colleague from Yorkview. He definitely mentioned what is going to happen after the PC regime. We know this government is going to be in debt by another $22 billion. We know when the government took over --


The Acting Speaker: Order.

Mr Lalonde: I'm saying $22 billion because the interest is there, you will pay additional interest. We know when your government took over that the accumulated debt was $89 billion. But this government should know too that in the last number of years, only the Liberal government has ended with a surplus, which was in 1990. The only government that finished with a surplus was the Liberals under the Peterson government.

There's one thing that really hits me in this latest budget announced last week, the video lottery slot machines. I'm just reading in today's Toronto Star what is happening in the province of Nova Scotia. I think all the members should read this press clipping that we read this morning.

I just can't believe that the government, after the Premier had said there was no way we will allow the video poker in the province of Ontario -- and today, to reach our goal of a 30% tax deduction, we will introduce those poker games of which only the poor people are trying to make more money. It's a shame, really, to believe that this government is going that route.

Once again, I'd like to congratulate the member for Yorkview.

Mr Bud Wildman (Algoma): I want to congratulate the member for Yorkview for his incisive analysis. I would like to mention a couple of things, though, in relation to the budget and the cuts that have been made to pay for this tax cut.

It's interesting that it's not just direct effect, but indirect. We've seen with the enormous cuts in education, for instance, that students with special needs in my area, in the Central Algoma Board of Education jurisdiction, are going to face serious problems. Many who have had teachers' aides with special expertise in assisting them, whether it be sign language abilities in working with the mentally challenged, now are going to find that those assistants are no longer there because a significant number will be laid off by the board. There will be bumping, but that means that even if the person herself is not laid off, she may be or probably will be bumped into another position.

Parents now face a situation where they have seen their children make considerable progress over the last few years and are concerned that they will regress, and unfortunately now are contemplating removing them from the education system next year and working with them themselves at home. Some might say, "Well, it's a good thing to have parents work with these kids" -- I suppose, but unfortunately it means that a lot of the children who have been integrated into the school system now will find themselves again isolated, will not be part of the regular school system and may not make the kind of progress they could make with people of more expertise working with them on a daily basis. It's a direct result of this government's cuts.

Mr Sergio: I wish to thank my colleague the member for Prescott-Russell, the member for St Catharines and the member who just addressed us. It's appropriate that we have quite a few young people in the gallery today. The members of the government perhaps would like to pay attention to that because their figures really do absolutely nothing to inspire any confidence in the young people who are here in the chamber today.

Mr Ron Johnson (Brantford): We're doing more for their future than you did.

Mr Sergio: Absolutely. You're right, and I'm pleased they agree with me because youths are our future, but we continue to see the cuts they are making to education. They continue to see newspapers like this one, I say to the members of the House on the other side. There is absolutely nothing to be proud of when in two separate incidents they cut $550 million --


Mr Sergio: I'm quite pleased to hear the member on the side agreeing with me, because these are not our figures; they are their figures. This is what they are doing to the education system in Ontario, this is what they are doing to the young people in our schools today and this unfortunately is what comes out on our streets, in our neighbourhoods. This is what they are preaching but not doing. The cuts to schools and cuts to education do not help to maintain the programs that would assist young people to get a good education, get a good job and become good providers and good citizens in our society.

Unfortunately, this becomes very appropriate with the statement we received today by the Minister of Consumer and Commercial Relations. Statements like that are totally out of whack.

The Acting Speaker: Further debate?

Mr Peter Kormos (Welland-Thorold): I'm pleased to be able to speak to Bill 47. Speaker, please, I'm going to be very careful with the language I use. I trust that you will use good sense in assessing what I'm about to say.

I want to speak to the Liberal analysis of this budget because I find that interesting, but I'll do that in short order.

I also want to make note of the fact that as your cohort, as in fellow Speaker, already indicated, today is the last day for these pages. These young women and men who have served their communities well as pages here at Queen's Park during the last several weeks are going to return to their homes, having witnessed an historic event: the first budget of this government. It was a long time coming, wasn't it? We waited a long time.


You also will note that these young people have witnessed what could well be some fatal blows being delivered to the sorts of things their parents worked for, struggled for, sacrificed for and indeed paid for. They've witnessed the orgy of privatization, the mindless privatization Harris and the Tories are committed to by virtue of dissolving, disassembling, taking apart and handing away to their rich friends -- more of the blue suits -- so that big profits can be made from the sorts of things we as Ontarians very much believe belong to us. That's why our parents and grandparents worked for them and struggled for them and sacrificed for them, so they could leave us a legacy.

We have a challenge now. I submit that all progressive people in this province, certainly working women and men in this province, have a challenge now, and that is to commit ourselves that the next progressive government in this province, the next New Democratic Party government in this province, is going to restore to public ownership all those things that have been confiscated by Harris and the Tories and put into the private sector, be it Ontario Hydro, be it the Liquor Control Board of Ontario, which as you know last year earned for the people of Ontario, the working people of Ontario, the taxpayers, profits of $630 million. This year it will earn for them profits of some $50 million more -- some $680 million. At the same time, it employed some 5,000-plus hardworking, responsible women and men at decent wages all across Ontario and delivered alcohol to consumers in a socially responsible manner.

We know that's not going to happen in a privatized regime, least of all when the minister of zip -- he used to be the Minister of Consumer and Commercial Relations; he's now the minister of zip, because there is no ministry left. He's divested the ministry of responsibility for commercial regulation. We know from the internal documents that have been coming out of that ministry in brown envelopes like a heavy rain that the move is on to privatize commercial registration and commercial regulation. We heard today that he's all but abandoned -- undoubtedly under the direction of the cabinet and this government, and their real masters, the Bay Street people and the Wall Street people -- consumer protection. We witnessed it today; we saw the bill being introduced for first reading. That too is why these young people have witnessed a historic event here in the province of Ontario.

Let me talk to you about the folks down in Welland-Thorold. You know that those two communities are strong Ontario communities with hardworking people living in them. They're industrial towns. The city of Welland is a long-time base in steel; Thorold, of course, with the pulp and paper industry that workers have been supporting their families with. But they are communities that are living under a state of real fear, just like communities across Ontario, in every part of this province.

I want to convey to this assembly some of the positive response to the budget and Bill 47. I've got to tell you, from down in Welland there was some positive response to the tax exemption for the 1-800/1-888 telephone lines, because Welland is one of the large call centre bases here in the province of Ontario. Because of the efforts of people down in Welland, we've witnessed some growth in that area, some increase in jobs. It's quickly becoming the city's largest employer.

But think about this: Here's a city that at one time provided employment by virtue of specialty steels, stainless steel. Thank goodness the last government had the wisdom and insight to participate with Atlas steel so it could assist them in a $20-million-plus investment in their melt floor, to constitute a complete refurbishing, to guarantee jobs -- good jobs, high-quality jobs, well-paying jobs -- in Welland, in Ontario, in Canada, where they belong. It was the last government that had the insight and the wisdom to work with Atlas Specialty Steels to ensure that type of investment was made.

At the same time, we know that a whole number of factors, including technology, robotics -- I was down at the Ford plant in Oakville for almost a full shift, for some seven hours, and that was around a month ago. I was out on the floor. Again, some of these suits over here, the blue suit gang, would be well advised to maybe make that kind of visit, to see how hard working people work and under what kind of conditions.

A remarkable thing about the Ford plant in Oakville: They produce some 84 units an hour. That means every line worker performs 84 tasks an hour. They produce 84 vehicles an hour with a workforce of approximately 3,500 workers. A mere two decades ago I'm told they were producing but 43 units an hour with some 5,000 workers. What that means is that we've seen -- and this is common across the rest of the auto assembly industry here in the province -- increased production and, I have no hesitation in saying, increased quality, with a significant reduction in labour force. The fact is that it simply doesn't take as many workers, because of the robotics and technology and because of the increased pressure on the workers to produce more and more, regardless of the workplace stress, strain and injury that's imposed by that increased pressure. There's little consideration given to that.

As a matter of fact, I spent some time with one of the union stewards, who showed me the grievance book, and the biggest single area of grievances, complaints made, was in the area of ergonomics -- direct health and safety in the workplace. I was amazed to take a walk through that plant and see the shipping containers, see outsourcing of parts from -- granted, other parts of Ontario -- the United States, Brazil, Mexico, yet other countries, none of which constitutes any contribution to our economy, inevitably incredibly low-wage countries with low standards for workers, no regard for health and safety, no regard for environment.

As you know, auto workers are going to be involved in the struggle of their lifetime in short order as they address the issue of outsourcing and contracting out in the auto industry. As you also know -- and reflect on this for a minute -- I'm told that the Chevy Cavalier, which is the best-selling vehicle in Canada, is made entirely in Mexico. I read just recently that the new Chrysler Sebring convertible -- and that's an upscale car; it's no economy car; it's a little bit of a flagship vehicle for Chrysler-Dodge-Plymouth -- once again, is made entirely in Mexico. This is what I read just recently in an automotive column.

Those are pretty frightening propositions. We're looking at a major gutting, the prospect of a thorough gutting of the auto industry from the province of Ontario, from Canada. This government has absolutely no cognizance of the seriousness of that type of attack on value added production here in the province of Ontario. Their response is a slot machine on every corner, as if somehow that's going to make an economy. Reality is that slots don't make an economy. These guys simply don't get it.

They talk about enhancing the tourist and hospitality industry. Fair enough, but once again, without there being a strong manufacturing sector here in the province of Ontario, we are going to witness some dramatic changes to the nature of this economy, to the lives of working people and to the welfare of communities and to the lives of those working people's children.

There simply aren't going to be a whole lot of working people. These people, the Tories, seem to have acknowledged that and embraced it. They don't want to talk about full employment; they want to talk about sustaining high levels of unemployment. They don't want to talk about enhancing and allowing the middle class to grow stronger; they want to talk about direct attacks on the middle class, to the point of its eradication so that, oh yes, there will be the rich, because these Tories will nurture the generation of some great private wealth, but in the midst of devastating public squalor.

That's the price Ontarians are going to have to pay for there to be a handful of extremely wealthy people in this province and for there to be a real division -- the rich and the poor, the elimination of the middle class. Take a look through some what used to be middle-class communities. Take a look at where working people used to be living, until they suffered the prospect of job loss, no pensions; until their children are being told, "Never mind to work at a career for a working lifetime, but you can't even expect to have a job of any significance or any permanence."


The other area of this budget proposal that received positive comment down where I come from, in Welland-Thorold, in addition to the tax exemption for the call centres -- the elimination of the provincial sales tax on the 1-800 and 1-888 telephone lines as of July 1 -- was the land transfer tax relief. There were people who responded to that with some sort of mystified joy, because it was only when they looked at the fine print -- and I understand it's there for everybody to read; there's nothing secretive about it. There's land transfer tax relief to a maximum of $1,725. It's for first-time home buyers of newly constructed homes.

The problem is that down in Welland-Thorold and across Niagara, with the uncertainty about their futures, with the realization that this government is not going to create jobs but rather is going to destroy yet more jobs, no families, least of all young families who are the first-time home buyers, are in a position to even consider buying a home, regardless of any modest relief that might be provided by a rebate of land transfer tax. It's a seller's market.

It's a maximum of $1,700 based on a $200,000 home. It shows you how out of touch these people are. These people are Smurfs or they're from Mars, but they're certainly not from the kind of Ontario that Welland and Thorold constitute, and that's the biggest part of Ontario. They're from somewhere else, because the fact is that homes don't cost $200,000 in Welland-Thorold. The fact is that it's a buyer's market. The fact is that young families have such uncertainty about their futures that they wouldn't think at this point in their lives of assuming the responsibility of paying for a home. The fact is that this government talks about creating 725,000 jobs; this government can at the very best promise -- a mere promise -- 289,000, and it isn't delivering that.

This budget is one of the most dishonest documents that's ever been perpetrated. Would I dare say that the budget speech given by Mr Eves constituted prevarication or a lie? I wouldn't say it was a lie, but people down in Welland-Thorold are saying that the Minister of Finance lied. They most certainly are.

Mr Stockwell: On a point of order, Madam Speaker: You are supposed to be maintaining control and ensuring that no one breaks the rules in this Legislature. The member for Welland-Thorold, to whom I will send over a copy of the budget since he hasn't read it -- maybe he can read this copy -- can't say that the people of Welland-Thorold are telling him that the finance minister has lied. That's completely out of order.

The Acting Speaker: The member for Welland-Thorold is not out of order. The member was quoting somebody else. He personally did not say that a minister of this House was lying. It's not out of order.

Mr Tony Ruprecht (Parkdale): On a point of order, Madam Speaker: I'm very happy to listen to this discussion and I know that there are a number of people in the audience who are also happy to be here. Among them is Mr Thomas Chang, who is the representative/director general of the Taipei Economic and Cultural Office. He's leaving us today for Boston. I just wanted to wish him farewell on your behalf. He has done such a great job, and will for us again in Boston, so there will be a lot of goodies coming to us.

The Acting Speaker: Thank you, member for Parkdale. That is, as we all know, not a point of order, but nevertheless, I am very happy to have Mr Thomas Chang with us today. Welcome, and certainly we all wish you the best of luck.

Mr Kormos: I'm glad you did that as quickly as at all possible, Speaker.

I should retract. I can't say with certainty that everybody in Welland-Thorold said that the Minister of Finance lied, but the people who have contacted my office and spoken to me have certainly said that the Minister of Finance lied, which hasn't been all of the people of Welland yet.

The people in Welland-Thorold are extremely concerned about the future of this economy and the future of this province. They're incredibly concerned about the lack of stewardship on the part of this government when it comes to our young people, the lack of interest when it comes to creating real jobs as compared to those minimum wage jobs, the hamburger-flipping jobs these people are enamoured with, the subminimum wage jobs they want to impose on those of the children in our communities who are indeed fortunate enough, if their families are wealthy enough, to have them graduate from college or university.

The government's reliance on video lottery terminals, slot machines: Let me tell you, the fact that this government would put the control of a slot machine on every corner into the hands of the Ontario Lottery Corp indicates a complete failure to understand the level of corruption and the heights of corruption that have been reached in the Ontario Lottery Corp, which I'll tell you have not been addressed by now the third successive government in a row. The fact is the Ontario Lottery Corp has entirely mismanaged, with no concern whatsoever to small business, the distribution of lottery tickets and lottery ticket terminals here in the province of Ontario.

Mr Baird: On a point of order, Madam Speaker: I am very concerned. The honourable member opposite has indicated a criminal violation of the Criminal Code of Canada by a crown agency, and perhaps he could table with the Clerk immediately the evidence he has defaming the good people and the good civil servants who work at that corporation.

The Acting Speaker: The member for Nepean, I did not hear the member.


The Acting Speaker: That's correct, I did not hear him. I would therefore caution the member to be careful in his remarks.

Mr Kormos: I've done better than that. I've sent it to the minister responsible who has dismissed it and has refused to investigate it, as did his predecessor in the last government, as did her predecessor in the Liberal government before that.

Mr Stockwell: That's you, Marilyn.

Mr Kormos: The Ontario Lottery Corp has built a fiefdom, a power unto itself that has a history of abuse of small business people, that has a history of abuse of making decisions by fiat --

Mr Stockwell: Marilyn's corrupt. That's terrible.

The Acting Speaker: Order, please. Etobicoke-West, come to order.

Mr Kormos: -- without recourse or without any possible prospect of defence by small business people who are victimized by it.

Very specifically, if these people paid attention to what happens in the House, I spoke of the case of Chris Bahnuk over the course of the last two weeks, a young employee of AT&T who was fired from his job at the insistence of the Ontario Lottery Corp because he had the gall to point out to the Ontario Lottery Corp a breakdown in the integrity of its ticket distribution machinery.

As a technician, he identified that to the Ontario Lottery Corp. He was fired at the insistence of the Ontario Lottery Corp. They obviously didn't want to accept the reality that a bright, young technician had the temerity to point out that their system was failing, and the Ontario Lottery Corp has, through the course of my correspondence with the current minister, Mr Saunderson -- and Mr Saunderson has similarly declined to treat the matter other than something that is to be stonewalled, so that young Chris Bahnuk, a young person who ought to be instituting a lawsuit for unjust dismissal and ought to be suing the Ontario Lottery Corp in addition to AT&T -- in fact Chris Bahnuk is being stonewalled and the matter's being whitewashed.

I have also brought to the attention of this minister the case of Brant Warner at Thorold News in Thorold; Brant Warner, a small business person, the sort of person who these people, these Tories, would purport to be concerned about when they don't give a tinker's dam about real small business people. Their idea of small business people is a guy like Frank Stronach who employs hundreds of people at a time at non-union wages and who fights tooth and nail efforts of his workers to unionize, and who made a personal paycheque last year in excess of $40 million and who indeed wasn't being called upon by any of these people to reduce the deficit, even though they called upon working people and the sick and youth and the poor to reduce a deficit that was neither of their making nor something from which they profited. These people have the temerity to let the wealthy get away with even more while making the poor, the unemployed, single parents, workers, pay for a deficit that was none of their making and, as I say, from which they did not profit.

It's incredible that the Ontario Lottery Corp would be relied upon to supervise or engage in the supervision of VLTs. VLTs in themselves are a sufficiently corrupting business both for the communities they're placed in as well as for the operators who operate them. To have a corporation like OLC that has gone completely out of control, that is unresponsive to the ministry that's supposed to be supervising it, is unconscionable and indeed is in itself negligent.


One of the other areas that this government neglects to note in the issue of jobs is the reality that we have in our communities across this province literally thousands of new Canadians eminently qualified in any number of trades and professions. This government, when it talks -- well, that's the problem. It doesn't talk about jobs. It talks a big game, but it doesn't deliver. It asks people to make a leap of faith. I'm sorry. I'm not prepared to make that leap of faith and neither are the people in Welland-Thorold. They simply don't believe them.

The government, in its budget speech, would have us believe that there's been a plethora of new jobs created here in the province of Ontario. Well, where are they? Because they're not down in Welland-Thorold, I'll tell you that. They're not in Niagara Falls. They're not in St Catharines. They're not in Niagara-on-the-Lake. They're not in Port Colborne. They're not in Beamsville. They're not in any of the Lincoln communities. And I haven't noticed them in any of the other working communities that I've been present in over the course of the last seven, eight, or nine months as well.

It's incredible that these guys -- and they are, by and large, guys -- would call upon people to engage with them in this fantasy about job creation that they claim will flow from a tax break for the very richest here in the province of Ontario. Their tax break, which is being paid for by working people -- those are the people who are paying for it. It's being paid for by homeowners by virtue of increased property taxes, by virtue of new user fees to what's going to be to the tune of, I'm confident, thousands of dollars a year as these homeowners struggle to hold on to their homes, as these homeowners struggle to resist the unconscionable attacks on each and every one of them by a gang who are so out of touch with reality, whose pomposity and arrogance permeate every bit of their conduct.

Now let's talk about their so-called tax break, one half to two thirds of which is going to go to the top per cent of income earners, their good friends, those six-digit-income people.

They try to impress us with the fact that somehow this is going to trickle down. Well, that kind of trickling down on, the people in Welland-Thorold neither need nor want.

Mr Stockwell: Don't let the facts bother you.

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

Mr Kormos: I'm confident that there will be some well-paid folks here in the province of Ontario with big kickbacks when it comes time for their tax break. The fact is, and the problem is, that Mercedes-Benzes and BMWs aren't built in the province of Ontario. The fact is that European vacations don't occur in the province of Ontario. The fact is that Gucci shoes aren't manufactured in the province of Ontario.

The people of Welland-Thorold have no use for these Tories and their right-wing agenda. The people of Welland-Thorold rejected them soundly in 1995 and will reject them in the next provincial election, when they will be defeated and when this province will have an opportunity once again to restore some sanity to this economy and to our communities.

I want to speak about the issue raised in the budget speech of safe communities. This government again talked a big game, and the fact is that somebody lied during the course of the last election campaign. Somebody lied about not defunding policing in the province of Ontario. Somebody lied about not reducing the funds available for front-line policing.

The fact is that across communities in every part of this province, cops are under seige by a government that they thought was their friend. We are going to see police officers maimed and wounded as a result of this government's failure to abide by its commitment to fully fund policing. We are going to see families victimized. We are going to see seniors burgled and broken and entered. We are going to see youngsters out there with their paper routes and with their ice cream trucks robbed because this government refuses to properly fund policing. Police know it, and police have been condemning this government. The Sault chief condemns this government. Kingston has had to have cops chasing cash instead of crime. The Metropolitan Toronto Police Services Board indicates that it has great concern about police officers whose energies are diverted to raising cash. This government would want to have them doing lotteries and bake sales to finance policing rather than apprehending crime and criminals.

This government has subverted the criminal justice system in this province. This government has laid off crown attorneys and has now made a commitment to not prosecute what it considers non-consequential crimes. Tell that to the victim of the theft, that it wasn't a consequential crime. Tell that to the small business people who are being shoplifted day after day, when the police don't prosecute, that it's a non-consequential crime. Tell that to the victims of break-and-enters, that it's a non-consequential crime. Tell that to the children who are victims of crime.

You see, they're laughing about victims of crime, Speaker. They find it humorous, and I find it sad and tragic. They find it humorous that this government is going to generate enhanced levels of crime while at the same time telling people that they're going to have to wait for some sort of nirvana, some sort of dreamlike state, before they'll encounter some 725,000 jobs that are merely promised but for which there's no commitment.

This government is trying to gut the sorts of services that are available in and through courts. This government wants to lay off court reporters and generate yet more unemployment. This government wants to see the women and men who have transcribed cases on a daily basis for the purpose of appeals and for the purpose of furthering the cause of justice sent off into the land of unemployment, and we've already heard what serious and major judges have had to say about the foolhardiness of that.

This government is encouraging crime. This government is creating unemployment. This government is putting police officers, policewomen and policemen, at risk. This government has already put firefighters under attack. This government has gutted labour legislation in this province that provided some fairness and justice for working people.

This government has condemned the sick to lives of despair. This government has condemned youth to a life with no future. This government has condemned our senior citizens to living in hovels rather than living in housing and accommodation for seniors that seniors deserve. This government has generated homelessness by virtue of its abandonment of co-op housing and alternative forms of housing.

This government is creating in our society a very broad distinction between the very rich, who will undoubtedly continue to support them, and what will be the very poor, and increasingly poorer, as this government attacks the economy, the industrial base of this society and this province.

Indeed, this sort of right-wingism is being rejected now in the United States as we see the Newt Gingriches and the Doles of America slithering away into a forgotten space in American history. This government too -- they don't have to worry about tenure here, because most of these people are one-shot wonders -- this government too will disappear from the Ontario landscape but will be remembered and it will be remembered with a vengeance and a hatred such that nobody with the label Conservative will dare present their face in any community here in the province of Ontario. Mark my words on that.

The Acting Speaker: Questions or comments?

Mr Stockwell: It's always with great interest that I enjoy listening to my colleague and friend Mr Kormos from Welland-Thorold. He is both entertaining and completely marginalized by anybody with any realistic understanding of the finances of this province. With all due respect to my good friend Mr Kormos, even in his socialist enclave when they were in power, Mr Kormos felt that even though the socialists had run up the debt by some $50 billion --

Mr Kormos: On a point of order, Madam Speaker: That was not a socialist government, and this member should retract.

The Acting Speaker: That is not a point of order. Take your seat.

Mr Stockwell: You know what, Madam Speaker? They were as close to socialists as I ever want to get, let me tell you that, and I want to tell you something else. After they ran up the debt by $50 billion -- the deficit was at $10 billion or $11 billion or $12 billion, program spending had increased by 12% to 14% on average -- the one guy who stood alone in that party was Mr Kormos, because he was convinced that wasn't enough.


He was the only guy in the province who said we should be spending more, running up more debt, running up more deficit and actually bankrupting us to no end, and he stands in his place today and suggests that we're being unreasonable in this approach to fiscal responsibility. I say to my good friend the member for Welland-Thorold, talk about marginalized. Other than those few in Welland-Thorold who find your particular brand of politics acceptable, the broad cross-section of society in this good province finds it absolutely criminal that you would stand in your place and suggest we continue on with the socialist débâcle of five years and tell us the debt you ran up wasn't enough, the deficit wasn't high enough -- you would take us to the brink of bankruptcy. That kind of brinkmanship, I'm proud to say, I don't want to associate with and your own party didn't want to associate with.

Mr Sergio: I have to compliment the member for Welland-Thorold. I say in response to the member for Etobicoke West that evidently the member for Welland-Thorold is not sitting in this House just because of a very few in his riding. It shows that he must have had quite a lot more for him to get elected, but let me address my points.

In all honesty, the government side must stop saying one thing and delivering another. This is hypocrisy of the highest order; this is not democracy. You're doing something and you're delivering something else. Please tell the people in your riding what you're saying and what you're delivering in this House. How can we accept something from the Minister of Consumer and Commercial Relations when he said, "I am going to make sure that I will create programs to deliver peace, tranquility and safety in residential neighbourhoods"? How do they have the guts to come into this House and do that when in the last couple of months they have cut over $160 million and we're seeing today an increase in crime?

Please don't come into this House and say one thing and then deliver another. Let me just read, "These initiatives will not only maintain the high public safety in the marketplace standards that Ontarians have rightly come to expect" -- and they are cutting every possible budget. Tell the people in your riding that you're saying one thing and delivering another.

Mr Rosario Marchese (Fort York): I congratulate my friend and colleague the member for Welland-Thorold. The people from Welland-Thorold will see and cut through the puffery we have heard from the member for Etobicoke West, all in due course.

The member for Welland-Thorold touched on it and I want to expound on that a bit: It's been a great year for the chairmen of major banks of this country and it's about to get better. Thanks to the 30% provincial income tax cut promised by Mike Harris, these five men are about to get richer by almost half a million dollars. Let me explain how. That's where the tax dollars are going:

Matthew Barrett of the Bank of Montreal, with a salary and bonus last of year of $1.9 million, will save roughly $100,000 in his income tax under the Harris tax cut plan.

Peter Godsoe, chairman of the Bank of Nova Scotia, with salary and bonus of $1.6 million, will save about $84,000 in taxes, as will CIBC chairman Al Flood, with a salary and bonus of $1.63 million.

TD Bank chairman Dick Thomson, with a $1.8-million salary and bonus package, will save about $94,000.

Former Royal Bank chairman Allan Taylor, who retired at the end of last year, would have saved about $100,000. Presumably successor John Cleghorn will enjoy similar savings.

Altogether we're talking about over half a million dollars. That's where the money's going. Can you imagine how many dented cans of tuna we could buy? Think of that. More to the point, $462,000 gifts to these five men will be paid by the Harris government's spending cuts. All those single mothers who are being forced into smaller basement apartments as their welfare cheques are cut by 20% are helping to pay for the tax breaks you're giving to the wealthy. That's where it's going.

Mr Baird: The member for Welland-Thorold has come into this House and he's complained time and time again that they don't want the tax cut. I wonder if he's going to give his tax cut to charity. I wonder if he's going to give his tax cut back to support the deficit. I have a challenge for my friend opposite. I challenge him to stand in his place and promise, on behalf of his party, with the full support of his party, to raise personal income taxes in Ontario by 30% in the next election campaign.

The new standard that's been set in this province by one Sheila Copps, from a part of the province near his, is that they will promise to resign if they don't do it. Why don't the member and his colleagues opposite all promise to raise taxes by 30% and if they don't they'll all resign, and make that official party policy? If they're so convinced it's wrong, if they're so convinced it's bad, they'll get up and they'll do it without any hesitation.

As well, the honourable member talked about criminal activity. Again, I have another challenge to the honourable member. Why doesn't he go outside and name names if he believes there's criminal activity going on in the province of Ontario, bypass the legislative immunity here, step outside and repeat the same thing he said in here to the news media, and let them see him do it?

The honourable member also mentioned the land transfer tax rebate, saying no one in his community would be able to use it. It will be interesting to see in a year's time, by March 30, 1997, how many people in his community do use it. In my community, new home construction has been very hard hit by the recession, and they're welcoming that.

I also noted with great interest that the honourable member spoke for 30 minutes and he didn't mention the 35,000 jobs that were created in Ontario last month. The headlines said that after two quarters of economic recession in 1995 the Ontario economy sharply rebounded. Is there any doubt why it rebounded? It rebounded because on June 26 Ontario got a new government, more jobs, more hope and more opportunity.

The Deputy Speaker (Mr Bert Johnson): The member for Welland-Thorold has two minutes to respond.

Mr Kormos: I don't need lectures from porcine Tories about any of these matters.


Mr Kormos: Go ahead, son, tell them what "porcine" means.

These people have been at the trough here since --

Mr Doug Galt (Northumberland): A point of order, Mr Speaker.

Mr Kormos: Save my time. This better be a good one.

Mr Galt: On a point of order, Mr Speaker: I think the honourable member across the floor should retract the comment about an honourable member in front of me being porcine.

Mr Kormos: Why?

Mr Galt: It's very much out of order.

The Deputy Speaker: That's not a point of order.

Mr Kormos: I was referring to all of them and to no one in specific. These are the people who have been troughing since they've been elected in June calling upon poor people, calling upon working people to tighten their belts; these are the people who just took on a pay increase to the tune of some $10,000 to $15,000 a year and mislead the public into thinking that it's a pay decrease. We're going to take lessons from them in integrity of any way, shape or form? They've had their way with their spin doctors and their $1,000-a-day consultants.

Mr Galt: This kind of language is not in order.

The Deputy Speaker: I did not hear anything that infers anything that would be out of order in the comments from the member.

Mr Kormos: These people have been perpetrating a fraud upon the public of Ontario in such a way that the pain and suffering is only going to be mitigated by the fact that working people in this province, led by trade unionists, along with retirees, are going to be on the streets of Peterborough, as they were on the streets of London and then Hamilton and then Kitchener. They'll be in Ottawa. They'll be in North Bay. Their goal is to bring this government down long before its mandate. If they're unable to achieve that goal, they'll bring this government down at the next election.

The Deputy Speaker: The member's time has expired. I'd like the attention of the House, please.


The Deputy Speaker: Order. The member for Etobicoke West will come to order. I'll not warn you again.


There is too much banter and back and forth. There's a using of terms and words that I have never heard of before and I don't want to hear them again. I want it to stop. I think this House would like to indulge in proper debate, going by the rules that you've laid down for yourselves.

Mr Ed Doyle (Wentworth East): It's indeed a pleasure to follow the finest bovine in the House.

It's a delight for me to get up in this House today and speak on a topic that will bring profound, positive change, not only to constituents of my area but also to the citizens of the province of Ontario.

Two weeks ago, on Tuesday, May 7, to be exact, the government delivered its first budget. Moreover, both our Premier, Mike Harris, and our caucus promised that it would be a good budget. Well, the constituents I have in my riding are telling me that we were right; it is indeed a good budget. It contains no surprises. It says what we said we would do. We simply delivered on what we had promised.

Over the last 10 months in office, our government has done more than just get finances under control. We've cut taxes, re-examined our priorities in spending and we have restored some integrity to the concept of politics and politicians.

In the past many years, campaigns were waged, promises were made, people and parties were elected to power, and once they got there, they reneged on these promises. This led of course to a great deal of cynicism held by the public towards the office of government and the office of politicians. However, this time around, there is a change in the air and a change in the feelings of people. The people I've spoken with are no longer surprised that we are fulfilling our pledges. They've become used to and are now expecting us to continue to keep our word.

Just after the budget was released, I was invited to speak at a breakfast meeting. Those in attendance at that breakfast reflected all sectors of society. Some were previous supporters and some were new supporters of this government, but they all had one thing in common: They understood what we are doing and why, and they like what we're doing and they like what they're hearing from this government.

There are so many good things in this budget that it is difficult to pick just one or two areas to talk about. In fact, in my riding of Wentworth East, there is something basically for everyone in this particular budget.

For real estate agents, for example -- I've spoken to a few of them since the election -- they've seen an increase of first-time home buyers who are inquiring about new homes. Of course much of this is due to the new land transfer tax refund. First-time home buyers who buy between May 7, 1996, and March 31, 1997, will receive a refund of this tax up to a maximum of $1,725. Agents have been saying this will give new buyers an extra break when they want to buy a new home.

Recently, I also attended the opening of a new housing development in Treetops Village of upper Stoney Creek, and I can tell you the developers in my area are just as excited about the changes the government has introduced, again because of this land transfer tax refund. The transfer tax refund, along with the tax cut that people will be getting generally, will make it much easier for people to purchase their first home.

In Glanbrook, also in my riding, under the budget, farmers now will be able to receive a rebate of the 8% tax on building materials bought to upgrade or modernize farm operations between now and March 31, 1997. The Minister of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs is currently working with the Minister of Finance in setting up this particular rebate system. In fact, this week one farmer called my office and said that the rebate is a great thing. Now is the time when farmers plan for the next year concerning what work needs to be done. He said that every farm can be renovated and can be upgraded.

The big item in the budget of course is the tax cut. In my lifetime, I can remember tax hike after tax hike over tax hike after tax hike. I have four sons. They're all married. They and their wives have never seen a tax cut in their working lives. They've never experienced one. It's the same with my young staff. They have been working and they have never seen a tax cut, not in their entire lives.

It was just a few weeks ago that a comet flew by. That comet was last in orbit around the earth in this vicinity of the earth 10,000 years ago. I saw the comet; many people in this House saw the comet; my sons saw the comet. They saw a comet that hadn't been here for 10,000 years, but they have never seen a tax decrease. It's unusual. Let's hope if another government is ever elected, we won't be going through the same thing, because it may be another comet's appearance before they see another tax break.

We'll see three personal income tax cuts in this particular mandate. As a matter of fact, in this particular budget there are nine other tax decreases as well, some of which I've spoken of. We believe the key to getting the province back on track is a combination of smart spending as well as lower taxes. We've gone a long way to spending your tax dollar in a smarter fashion, and we shall continue to do that.

Under this budget, all Ontarians will see their taxes cut, yet the percentage benefits will be greater for those with moderate and modest incomes: 64% of the benefits from this tax cut will be concentrated on middle-income Ontarians earning between $25,000 and $75,000 a year.

For those who would rather not use their tax savings on themselves, we have created the Ontario opportunities fund. This fund will allow individuals to voluntarily contribute to pay down the deficit. Added to these funds will be the proceeds from any major asset sales that are made by the province and the money that remains after meeting our annual deficit targets.

I must also echo what our Premier has said, and other members: There are many worthwhile charities and organizations in our communities that we can donate to if we do not want to keep the tax cut to ourselves. I challenge people to donate this to charity if they don't want to spend it or otherwise save it.

An area that is very close to all our hearts, of course, every member of this House, is our reinvestment in quality health care and social services. In learning to spend the taxpayer's dollar in a smarter fashion, it was required that we examine the current systems to see how we could improve upon them.

The results of this investigation have led to increasing the health care budget to $17.7 billion, when in fact in the Common Sense Revolution we had said it would be $17.4 billion; reinvesting $170 million for in-home service for senior citizens and persons with disabilities, thereby expanding services to an additional 80,000 people in the province; moving seniors and persons with disabilities off welfare and on to a guaranteed support program, a program of their own, and allowing for 23 additional MRIs in Ontario.

That is not all. In my riding, Wentworth East, we are also going to be doing some reinvestment, and some announcements have also been made. The city of Stoney Creek is going to be receiving a new kidney dialysis unit that will surely alleviate much of the long lines and travel time that patients have faced up until now.

This budget has been more than just good news. It is great news for the residents of my area and for indeed all of Ontario. We know what the priorities are. The citizens of our communities know what they are too: spending wisely, demanding excellence from the services provided, lessening the tax burden and restoring hope and prosperity to our economy. These are principles I am proud of. We as a government have fulfilled our promises and, working together with our communities, Ontario will be a place that our children and our grandchildren can be proud to call home.

The Deputy Speaker: Comments and questions?

Mr Bradley: It's always pleasant to hear from the member for Wentworth East and his contribution. I used to enjoy him on channel 11 when he was with CHCH-TV.

One of the things he forgot to mention, and I know he wanted to, and if they had allocated more time he would have, was the video lottery terminals. I suspect the reason they weren't mentioned is -- and I can't speak for the member, but I would say probably a lot of people in the government benches are very uneasy about video lottery terminals being introduced in the province.


I can remember when their Premier and their Treasurer were strongly advocating against casino gambling, for instance, in the province. Now we have a casino approved since then in Niagara Falls and one in Orillia, so I guess the issue of casino gambling is a bit behind us, but the VLTs are something new and different, more insidious, more alluring, more inclined to addict people to them. I was wondering whether the member, if he'd had more time, would have discussed the difficulties that will be imposed upon the very vulnerable and desperate people in the province by the widespread introduction of video lottery terminals.

I know that it's alluring to a Minister of Finance because it's easy money, but at the same time that there's a tax cut which will for the most part benefit the richest people in the province, we will find, I think, that the people with the least in the province will be those paying the so-called voluntary tax of the video lottery terminals.

This is something I happen to think probably transcends partisan considerations. It's been rather a personal issue with me, watching how successive governments have tried to lure people into this kind of gambling and become addicted to it. I'd certainly be interested if the member would care to give his views on that issue.

Mr Wildman: I listened, when I was in the lobby, to the member's remarks, and frankly I always enjoy listening to the member. He seems to be quite fairminded, and I noticed that in the member for Wentworth East, who I think originally came from the Cochrane area or the north.

Mr Doyle: From the north.

Mr Wildman: Yes, from the north. In his remarks he mentioned that he thought the government had dealt with spending and had cut taxes, and that was the central message in the budget. I'm curious, as was my friend from St Catharines, about why he didn't deal with the fact that the Premier, his leader, was quite clear, both before the election, during the election campaign and subsequently, that it was not a revenue problem. He said the problem was spending, expenditures, and expenditures had to be cut.

He then went, as I recall, to Windsor on one occasion and said: "Look, we don't need casino revenues. We don't want casino revenues. We're not interested." He then changed his mind somewhat later and now he's made an announcement that there's going to be another casino in Niagara Falls.

On top of that, the government has broken a commitment made by the previous government to the aboriginal people and demanded 20% of the revenues that were supposed to be allocated to economic development for aboriginal people across the province from the Orillia-Rama casino. I'd like to know what it is that has changed the government's mind, that has made them realize it is indeed a revenue problem and they have to get this kind of revenue.

Mr Skarica: I want to applaud my fellow member from Hamilton for an excellent speech, and there's really nothing that needs to be said to respond to it. So I'd like to refer to a poorer quality speech, and that was the one that we got from Welland-Thorold. One area that speech didn't touch on was crime, and perhaps I could refer to that.

One of the reasons that I came here -- and quite frankly I took a substantial pay cut thanks to the largesse of the Liberals during the 1980s where they gave me a lot of the pay increases, and I thank them for that.

I'd like to touch upon what happened to crime during the 1990s under the previous government. One day I noticed that there weren't any break-and-enter charges in court. For about a week I noticed that there weren't any break-and-enter charges in our court, and there used to be a lot. So I decided to look up the statistics on break-and-enters, and basically what happened was that you could virtually break into any home in Ontario at the time risk-free. The statistics showed that for every 100 break-and-enters, we were charging less than 10%. So there was a growth industry in Ontario during the 1990s, and it was crime and break-and-enters, and car thefts were going up substantially every year.

What happened with the previous government is that while that crime disappeared, it was being replaced by other important programs like employment equity. There was a great growth in the employment equity industry. They were taking crowns out of our court and sending them somewhere in Toronto to work on employment equity.

I don't have time to say further, but there was undue damage done to the criminal justice system, and that's why I'm here today.

Mr Mike Colle (Oakwood): I certainly agree that the member for Wentworth East had some very valuable things to say, and I think he has been shown to be a very rational and fairminded person. He made some points about the budget and things that he likes in the budget, and we certainly appreciate his approach. It's always straightforward, and I certainly commend him on that.

One concern that I will raise with him is that I wonder if in his riding of Wentworth East he's getting the same type of response I'm getting, that they might like certain aspects of the budget, but one of the missing ingredients they continue to point to is that jobs and the job strategy don't seem to be there. What it all seems to hinge on is that you wish and hope that somehow this magic of the trickle-down tax break is going to create a job. I guess people say, "Where else has this happened? Where have the jobs been created with this strategy?" and really they don't see the prospects of employment.

I'm not talking about people who are working as stockbrokers on Bay Street. I'm talking about people who want just a decent salary for an honest week's work. They don't see any more hope. They don't see any real prospects of that improving in the near term. They're still very pessimistic and they're still very concerned about where their job is going to be and where the 20- to 30-year-old jobs are going to be for their children, and they're still very, very anxious about that part of it.

I just wonder whether he's getting the same type of concern about future jobs, especially in terms of people entering the workforce for the first time. I think that's one of the main gaps in the budget document.

The Deputy Speaker: The member for Hamilton East has two minutes.

Mr Doyle: I have two minutes, I guess, to respond, and I will address all the comments they've mentioned.

First of all, to the member for Algoma and the leader of the third party, I am from the north country, but a little farther to the east in the Quebec area, and I did spend some time in the north working as well. I like the north country. I think you know that.

As far as the member for St Catharines is concerned, I will comment on the VLTs. I personally have never used VLTs. I'm not that crazy about them myself personally -- I don't mind saying that -- but I think the reason we're handling it in this way is so that we can ensure that we get control of the illegal VLTs in the province today. I can accept them for that reason. The government, I think, is looking at it from that point of view as well. We've got thousand of people going to other provinces, spending their money on VLTs there and then coming back, and then we have to deal with the problem. The money we get out of the VLTs will be redirected to help people like this out.

As far as the other honourable member on the opposition side, as far as the jobs are concerned, yes, indeed, they have talked to me about the jobs, and I believe they are confident that it will be more than a trickle-down. I think, as a matter of fact, they truly believe it will be a flood rather than a trickle-down and that it will restore confidence and help us to create jobs.

The Deputy Speaker: Further debate?

Mr Colle: I think the job jury, or the ultimate judgement on this budget and this government, will be on the number of permanent and real jobs that will be created by this budget and other budgets this government will bring down. That's the ultimate test. Right now the government is in uncharted waters. I don't really think they know themselves how many jobs are going to be created that are going to be meaningful to people across Ontario.


One of the philosophical approaches of this government was best described by a great Canadian who came from the Guelph area: John Kenneth Galbraith. Someone asked him to describe, in plain terms, the trickle-down, supply-side theory of economics and how could an ordinary person understand that. John Kenneth Galbraith said that the best way to describe trickle-down economics is that if you have a horse and you feed a horse enough oats and keep feeding that horse oats, then eventually there'll be enough leftovers for the squirrels, and you hope you can afford to keep feeding that horse oats. That's John Kenneth Galbraith's summation. Mr Speaker, coming from a semi-rural area, you'd understand that analogy about feeding a horse oats. That's trickle-down economics, that you hope and pray that if you feed the big guys, you're eventually going to have enough for the little people.

The other point about this budget: Certainly I think it's a candy-coated budget. That's why I think there was a separation. As you know, they made their economic business plan statement a couple of weeks earlier, because in that you had the bad news and the reality of what the agenda of this government is all about -- all the layoffs, all the contractions, all the downsizing. They didn't want to give people a real picture of what the impact was.

What we had here last week was an extravaganza for public relations consultants. They were trying to tell everybody that everything is rosy, there are going to be jobs everywhere, everybody's going to have a tax cut, there's going to be a video lottery terminal on every corner and Ontario will prosper. That's what the budget exercise was all about last week. It was trying to extract as much possible so-called good news out of a lot of damage that's been done to this province as a result of a commitment -- and the budget really relates to this -- they made before the election to find some way of coming across with this 30% tax cut.

The government has gone out on a limb. They've even contradicted their own basic Conservative ideology, because this is the same government that continually repeated that mantra that "We're spending $1 million more an hour than we're taking in." They kept on saying that. They kept on saying, "The deficit is really horrendous and we have to deal with that."

Certainly a lot of us agree it is a horrendous deficit. But the major contradiction, the major opposite of this budget, you might say, is that for a government that keeps on repeating the fact that the deficit and being in debt is so bad that it has be a number one priority, what does it go and do? They say, "We are going to now go and borrow $5 billion to give you this tax cut and add $22 billion to the debt."

It's pretty fundamental that first of all, and I've repeated it before, the Premier of Alberta very specifically told you it would be a lot saner and a lot more rational to pay down your debt first, put any money you have towards reducing the debt, and then maybe at the end of three or four years you might be able to produce a dividend or a tax cut.

Remember, Premier Harris said when he came to office, "We're bankrupt." If a company's on the verge of bankruptcy or is bankrupt, you don't give away dividends to your shareholders. First of all, you put your house in order and you deal with the debt and the deficit.

The tax cut is the major contradiction here, because what it does is add to this horrendous problem. You're spending $1 million more an hour than you're taking in. Therefore, deal with that and don't borrow more money, don't go into greater debt. That's the fundamental flaw the budget rests upon.

Certainly a lot of us could disagree with the approaches, and the philosophy maybe, of the government, but even a lot of conservative economists and a lot of middle-of-the-road economists have said the more reasoned thing to have done would have been to essentially pay down the deficit with every cent you have and not forgo $5 billion worth of revenue. You don't forgo revenue streams when you need revenue. An admission of the fact that we've got a revenue problem here was in this reliance, all of a sudden, on a new-found revenue stream, and that's the VLT stream, the video lottery terminal revenue stream.

They know they've got a revenue problem, so even though historically the Minister of Finance and the Premier have railed against gambling and government reliance on gambling -- just like back in the 1920s they had the temperance movement -- they said gambling is bad, is bad, is bad, all of a sudden gambling isn't bad because they've been caught. Because they've turned off this revenue stream, they have to find another revenue stream. The new revenue stream is going to be partially through the video lottery terminals. The Ontario Restaurant Association thinks the government may be able to recoup $1 billion through the video lottery terminal approach.

One of the consequences of that approach too is that there's a cost to it, that these video lottery terminals -- I don't know, Mr Speaker, whether in your area of Stratford you have a lot of these video lottery terminals, slot machines, whatever they are, but they are a plague and people who are gamblers or relatives of gamblers would tell you they are the worst form of gambling because they are highly addictive. As they've been aptly called, they're the crack cocaine of gambling. In other words, you get addicted to it and you can't stop.

Usually the people who use these machines are the most vulnerable, the people who are already on the margin on an income basis. A lot of young people use these machines, and people who can't afford to gamble. Yet what will happen is that a lot of people will be stuck on these machines and you'll see what has happened in Nova Scotia and other places, where people were blowing their whole paycheque on these machines.

Sure, the government is putting aside some money for addiction, but there's no money put aside for what happens to the families of these video lottery terminal addicts. In other words, some father or mother is going to blow their paycheque and come home without that paycheque. They won't pay the rent; there won't be any money for food. Is this government really committed to helping those people who are going to be victimized by the proliferation of these VLT machines? That has not been factored into this budget and it should be. If you're going to proliferate these machines, you'd better be willing certainly to pay the consequences and help people who are going to be victimized by them.

The other thing about these machines and the reliance on them is going to be the cost of policing. Right now the police in Ontario cannot handle the illegal machines, because they're everywhere. The police have almost thrown in the towel. If you bring in these machines -- and they're bringing in 20,000 or whatever -- how many police officers will you need to supervise these machines across Ontario? How many hundreds and thousands of inspection officers, police officers, bylaw control officers will you need to ensure these machines are legal? That's another cost that is not factored into this new-found revenue stream.

Although it's very alluring to the government to rely on this new-found revenue stream, it could be very problematic for ordinary Ontarians who may become victimized by these machines. It's not only the addicts who will be using these machines; it will also be the children of the addicts, the relatives of the addicts who will be forced to use these VLTs, and not because they like the machines. These machines are as potent as any drug you'll see in the market. They are addictive, they are captivating, and people lose all sense of rationality as a result of them. That's how harmful they are.


The other aspect about this budget which is quite interesting: In the area of transportation -- talk about the candy coating. There's been all kinds of jumping up and down by the Minister of Transportation that there's all extra money now being spent on roads. He has finally admitted that we have a road pothole problem. It did take him three months to realize it, as the snow-clearing problem; it took him the winter to realize the roads weren't being cleared. Anyway, finally the minister has realized our road infrastructure in this province is in dismal shape.

They made this announcement about new-found moneys to take care of the road problem, but this is a sham, because if you look at the budget, how can you say they're spending more money on fixing and repairing roads when the capital budget in transportation has been gutted by about $540 million? On the operating side, there's even 150-odd-million dollars less than they spent last year for operating in transportation. So how could you be spending more on road infrastructure when essentially you've cut $700 million? Our roads in this province are not going to be fixed by this candy-coated announcement because the budget has been gutted.

On top of that, 1,200 people in the Ministry of Transportation are getting their pink slips. So there are going to be 1,200 fewer people available to work and repair the roads and ensure the standards for road maintenance are kept up.

Mr Wildman: Yes, but they can do it on workfare.

Mr Colle: Yes. Perhaps, as the member for Algoma said, the workfare people are going to repair the roads now.

The budget is also interesting in terms of jobs. The hope is that somehow the tax cut will create jobs. It's interesting in terms of their approach to this. They're saying, "If you get this tax cut, go and spend it." They're encouraging people all across Ontario to spend money because they've got the tax cut. This is the same government that keeps on telling everybody: "Hey listen, the deficit's a problem, debts are a problem. We've got to be careful with our money." One day you're saying, "Debt and deficits are a problem, we can't spend," but now, "Here's the tax and go spend, spend, spend." It's a bit of a contradiction.

The other thing is, if you're taking money -- I know in the north there are 900 Ministry of Natural Resources, Northern Development and Mines people who got their pink slips today who are getting a paycheque from the government. They were spending their paycheques probably in their communities and that was creating jobs, but this government says: "No, no, no. Your kind of spending doesn't work. What we have to do is take your paycheque out of your pocket, then we'll give it back to someone else, and their spending will create jobs." Somehow again this doesn't make sense, because isn't spending spending?

In my own community, for instance, when the social assistance cuts came down in October, I know all the small stores on St Clair and Eglinton, on Oakwood and Keele, noticed a dramatic dropoff in spending. Keele and Rogers has one of the largest social assistance offices in this province and the people who live in the area, some of them who rely on social assistance, were spending their money. In other words, they were buying food, they were buying shoes; some were even putting a little of a down payment on furniture. But they were spending in the local stores.

Since the social assistance cuts came in at 22%, the local merchants have noticed they're not selling as many shoes, they're not selling as many dry goods, they're not selling as much food. I know Gus's grocery store up on Eglinton said that people used to come in and spend about $120 a week on groceries. When their social assistance got cut by 22%, they're now spending about $80, $60 on food.

Even though I know you begrudge the fact that those people on social assistance were getting this money, they were spending it in the local economy, and that was creating a bit of help for small merchants and small businesses, and I think that's gone. I just don't quite understand which kind of spending is good, which kind of spending is bad, because now the government is encouraging everybody to spend again. But as you know, a lot of people cannot spend because their credit cards are maxed out, their personal household debt is maxed out, so they're going to probably have to pay down their personal debts first before they can go out and spend all this money. So it's a bit of a long shot to think that all this money is going to create this big job bonanza in this province.

Another area I'm very concerned about is the impact of this budget on things like hospitals. I'm really concerned about the impact on hospitals. As you know, this government has claimed that they haven't cut medical aspects or health care, but I know our hospitals across Metro are really feeling the pinch of government cutbacks. There are people being laid off in hospitals all across Metro, and these were people who were stable members of the community, were parts of the Lions Club, members of the Knights of Columbus. These people who worked in local hospitals are now getting their layoff notices because of the budget cuts.

There's also a great threat in terms of which hospitals will close. In Metro we have 11 hospitals that face the axe and it's not only the services we all treasure -- emergency services, orthopaedic services -- but we treasure the jobs those hospitals provide in Metro.

I know there are 800 people employed in Northwestern hospital. I'm glad the Minister of Health is here, and I know he's trying to do a good job in a very tough ministry. I know those 800 people who work in Northwestern are wondering where their future will be if the hospital closes. They want to let this government know that their jobs are important and that there aren't other jobs available in the economy in Toronto right now, in Metro; therefore, if you close a hospital, you're not only going to deprive a community of service, but you're going to deprive very dedicated people of an opportunity to work and get a paycheque.

That's the other aspect of this budget that concerns me, the commitment to ensuring that there's enough there to keep our medical system at the high level it should be and has been in the past. There's a great deal of apprehension about that.

Education is another area that is of great concern to people. The educational community is really in a state of panic. If there's one thing the Minister of Education has done, and I think all the members across will agree, he has created a crisis. Every educator in every school agrees with that. There's certainly a sense of crisis and anxiety in every high school, elementary school across this province. No matter which side of the political spectrum you're on, you do agree that John Snobelen, the Minister of Education, has created this crisis and no one seems to know what the fallout is going to be.

They had anticipated the toolbox as being part of the solution; as you know, it became the wimp box. There was nothing in it, so people were left hanging as a result of a change in direction. Everybody's waiting anxiously for what's going to happen to their schools, what's going to happen to their teachers and what's going to happen essentially to the children of this province. This budget has not done anything to lessen the anxiety in our schools.

I would think this government better address that issue, because at this point in time there's nothing constructive being done and when you're in a state of crisis, a state of anxiety, it's very difficult to come across with meaningful change. We all agree there should be change, but you can't bring about change when you're threatening people, when there is this sense of high anxiety that the minister has created. That's another aspect of this budget which has really caused a lot of consternation in every community.

Mrs Marion Boyd (London Centre): On a point of order, Mr Speaker: This is an important topic and again on a Thursday afternoon the government is not keeping a quorum.

The Deputy Speaker: Would the clerk please check for a quorum.

Senior Clerk Assistant and Clerk of Journals (Mr Alex D. McFedries): A quorum is present, Speaker.

The Deputy Speaker: The Chair recognizes the member for Oakwood.


Mr Colle: In terms of where we're going in this province as a result of this budget, I think we have to look at the impact of it on ordinary people, and ordinary people are not asking for that much. All they're asking for primarily is some kind of assurance that the government will not cut just based on ideology. What they're saying is: "We are all willing to cooperate if things perhaps have to be changed, but please don't cut too hard, too fast, too deep. We're worried. We're asking you to slow down a bit; we're asking you to look at what your programs are doing to us ordinary people."

In my riding of Oakwood the majority of people are middle-income, working-class people who say to me to please let you know that they want to be taken into consideration.

What was very upsetting to the people of Oakwood, one of the first things that was announced by this government, was that a project they were banking on to rejuvenate the city of York, the Eglinton subway, was unceremoniously taken from them without any kind of consultation. They cut the subway out from underneath the people of York without any regard to what that meant to the future of my community -- an arbitrary cut. There was no report, no analysis. I said to the Minister of Transportation, "On what basis did you cut the Eglinton subway?" His response to me in estimates was, "One of the Metro councillors told me to do it." You cut a $750-million project and the answer is that one of the Metro councillors said you should cut it. How can you make --

Mr Stockwell: We missed that.

Mr Colle: Yes. It was Howard Moscoe.

How could you make a decision of this magnitude on the basis of hearsay? If the minister and the government had said, "Listen, we've done this analysis, here's the business case for and against and this is why we're going to do it" -- instead, it was done.

Mr Stockwell: It was never an analysis. We didn't have any money.

Mr Colle: The problem is that the impact of this type of thing is devastating the community. It's not only about transportation. An investment infrastructure of this nature means that other people will invest in the community. We had people ready to invest in fixing up their small stores; people were going to build small office buildings; people were going to fix up their homes. They had hope for that Eglinton corridor, and the subway was an affirmation that the government wasn't going to ignore them, that the government was going to try to encourage them and rebuild.

A plan that was approved by all governments was the civic centre in the city of York. We were going to build a node at Black Creek and Eglinton, but as the subway was taken away, we can't build anything there now. Black Creek and Eglinton is basically going to remain a wasteland. The subway would have made that viable. They bought the argument from the mayor of North York, who has a very persuasive argument. He said, "Listen, if you build the subway, people will invest and then you get money from the increased assessment, which goes back to government." That was a good enough argument on Sheppard.

We had all the zoning in place along Eglinton, we had the density in place, yet that same argument didn't work on Eglinton. One thing we forget is that when people are working, no matter what level, especially on a salaried income, they pay taxes. That tax goes back to the government and does not just get lost in outer space. People working on these projects, just like the civil servants being cut, at least would have been putting money back into the economy by spending it. They also would be putting money back into the government in taxes, so it doesn't really hurt to do that.

I know this government is interested in encouraging economic development and confidence, but I'll tell you there is not a lot of confidence. If you talk to people in the retail sector, ordinary people, my friend who owns a haberdashery, he's got clothing, he said, "People are really uncertain." I'm sure in the gas stations across -- never mind talking about high gas prices, they're talking about uncertainty.

I think the critical thing we've got to restore in this province is a sense of confidence in people that there won't be just a continuation of cuts, downsizing, streamlining, because certainly the big corporate sector has been doing it, and now we have a government that seems to be following the same agenda of downsizing for the sake of downsizing.

I would say it's critical to look at the end product, because if you keep on downsizing, you keep on downsizing, you keep on cutting back, what's the ultimate goal? What do you get at the end of this? What's the vision? What is the ultimate goal?

I would say to you and the members opposite that I think one of the essential goals of this government is to look after people who are falling between the cracks. The government has a role to look after those people. And those are people who for lack of luck, for the lack of -- for sickness, need help, and those are the legitimate people who are suffering as a result of the continual cuts. Those are people, through no fault of their own -- and a lot of them are seniors who are worried about the user fees this government is riding on, and that's the other aspect of this budget which is very, very worrisome to them.

In Toronto, we've seen TTC fares go up for seniors 43%. We've seen student fares go up 43%. On June 1, I think, there's going to be user fees on drugs for the first time. In Toronto now, they're talking about this new fee on all burglar alarms, that if your burglar alarm goes off, they're going to charge you 70 bucks a pop.

We're seeing what's happening to the police on this budget. The fact is that this government passed down a 43% cut to municipalities. That means municipalities are going to be scrambling for money. One of the areas they're scrambling for money in is certainly going to be policing.

I know in Toronto, the Metropolitan Toronto Police, now the major crime unit is down to one third of its size from a couple of years ago. The youth bureau has been cut back to one third of its former size. The major fraud squad is down to one third of its former size. So in Metro we're seeing the impact of constraints and cutbacks and it's going to have an impact on policing.

That's why I guess the Solicitor General's got his white paper where he's encouraging police to hawk T-shirts, sell cups, mugs to make money for the police. We saw what happened in the city of Ottawa where the police could not finish an investigation in a car theft ring. They had to go hat in hand to the car dealers. The car dealers had to pitch in $15,000 to finish off the investigation.

Ultimately, this is what this agenda results in if you don't look at the human impact of your decision, and that is why I think what you've got to do is to say, is it worth going into this tax cut at this point in time, considering the debt, the deficit and the impact it's going to have on consumers, their jobs and their sense of security?

I think this is one reason why you candy-coated this announcement last week, because you knew that people were beginning to be very uneasy about your agenda. They were starting to tell you that they were looking for something positive, because all they've heard is threats of more cuts and continual cuts.

I think this budget is going to be your easiest budget. This is basically the first small step. It's a good news -- as we say, it's a lob ball. The next one and the one afterward we'll see what you can really do when the next two budget come down.

The Deputy Speaker: Comments and questions?

Mrs Boyd: I want to say to the member how much I appreciate his talk this afternoon and really outlining what this budget means for the people of his riding. That of course is what all of us are trying to tell the government members and to warn the government members: that the kinds of concerns we're bringing forward from our constituents, you must be hearing from yours, and if you're not bringing them forward to the government, that is a very serious matter.


The issue of the lost investment in the city of York is one that is particularly poignant at this time when all of us are aware of a by-election going on and all of us are aware of the effects of the decisions of this government, particularly with respect to the subway, on the job prospects of people in that city, not just the immediate jobs, and of course those are important, but the jobs that will be created because of the economic boost the subway would have given to the city of York.

The member for Oakwood is quite right to identify that cut, which of course was not made in this particular budget explicitly, as were none of the cuts, but was made as one of the financial statements earlier in the year. That is the other point that I would agree with him on: that the government has taken a position where it is trying to trick the people of Ontario into seeing this as a good news budget. They have tried to hide the effect of the cuts and the reality of the cuts in the budget that they've presented by glossing over them with cost reductions that have been done and savings that have been done before. "Savings" are coming to mean very real job loss, home loss and family loss to people in this province. You can only fool all of the people some of the time.

The Deputy Speaker: Comments and questions? The Chair recognizes the member for Durham East.

Mr John O'Toole (Durham East): I appreciate that recognition on this last day of this little session.

In response to the member for Oakwood, the Liberal Party, I just want to draw to his attention that the Liberal red book did promise to balance the budget, which means they were going to have to eliminate program spending. You would have been very criticized had you had the opportunity to form the government. The people rejected that. They rejected it fundamentally because they didn't believe you would deliver. What's new about this plan is that we are actually doing what we said.

I also want to draw to your attention that in your red book you promised to reduce taxes, to cut taxes. Fundamentally, you partially felt that you could deliver on a plan very much similar to the plan that we've delivered on. The only difference is, I don't think you ever would have delivered it.

I want to draw to your attention the importance of the economy. Supply-side economics is a fundamental change. You made a reference to John Kenneth Galbraith, who kind of represents your idealistic what I would call old-style economics, that governments supply growth. That kind of reform of economics has gone by way of the board.

There are 21 economies in the world and North America that are responding to what they call the Laffer curve. The Laffer curve realizes that there's an optimization of taxation to optimize revenue. It's important to understand that what worked 30 or 40 years ago is not working today. The economy and globalization require that you have a high consumer participation in any recovery.

If you look at the Canadian Federation of Independent Business and other small business spokespersons, they clearly recognize that this is indeed one of the stimuli, along with a lot of other regulation reviews that are contingent within our budget recommendations as well. So there's a lot to be said, a lot to be looked at.

Mr Sergio: I'm pleased to respond during the two minutes and to compliment the member for Oakwood on his very in-depth presentation. I think he has touched on most of the important issues with respect to transportation work and cuts and so forth.

He has also mentioned the latest announcement by the government that now they are willing, in order to raise more money because they need so much money to cover up for the 30%, to introduce the so-called slot machines. They have given them a very technical term, such as video lottery terminals, which the people of course are not familiar with, but they are slot machines.

The fact is that, as with all the other things they have introduced, they have not conducted in-depth studies of the implications that the installation of 15,000, 20,000 lottery machines will have on the social fabric, the social life of the people of Ontario.

It's sad to see that the Premier, during the campaign, said he was very much troubled to see that the government would be taking money from the proposed Windsor casino. And here we go, we see a government that is addicted to trying to get money from anywhere, any source, in any manner it can, because if there is one thing they want to do, it is to keep their promise of refunding 30% to the people of Ontario. This will not create jobs. It's sad to see that the government, without consultation, without communication, without any hearing whatsoever, is willing to go ahead and install mini-casinos practically at every corner store. I think the social consequences will be enormous for the people of Ontario.

Mr Stockwell: I want to talk briefly about the member for Oakwood. I know he was a member of the Metropolitan Toronto council and he spent some time at the TTC, where he learned, I think, quite a bit about rapid transportation issues within Metropolitan Toronto, and probably issues that affect all major urban centres around the world.

The fundamental problem we were faced with in this government was an expansion of that TTC, and I'd really be interested in hearing your response to this. I know the issues we're faced with to some degree, I believe. You were having a very difficult time maintaining your present level of service. Your level of service was decreasing, your ridership was going down, the cost of riding the TTC was going up. It's in a very, very strange state today, the TTC, as opposed to what it was for a couple of decades. It's in bad straits.

The concern this government had and I personally spoke about in opposition -- I was never in favour of the four-subway plan; I was never in favour of the two-subway plan; quite frankly, I was never in favour of the one-subway plan. I think before the TTC can begin to expand, to talk about expansion, they're going to have to consolidate. They're going to have to start providing a good service like they used to in the 1970s and 1980s which attracted ridership at a reasonable cost. It's gone away from that. It's talked about expansion and building subways here, there and everywhere. Even the manager of the TTC, Mr Gunn, has suggested that any expansion of the TTC today is a mistake. We can't afford to maintain what we've already built in this city.

I say to the member for Oakwood, I know you're from the city of York and I know the people in the city of York wanted the Eglinton line. I'm from Etobicoke, right next door. We wanted it too. But it's fiscal folly to stand in your place and tell transportation associations to continue to build capital projects they can't operate. I'm very surprised, with your history and your experience, that that's what you're suggesting.

The Deputy Speaker: The member for Oakwood has two minutes to respond.

Mr Colle: I want to thank the member for Durham East for some very thoughtful comments, and very legitimate input from the member for Etobicoke West and the member for London Centre, and also my colleague from Yorkview.

We've got such limited time, but just briefly to the member for Durham East, you say the old style economics aren't working, going back to John Maynard Keynes, going back to the past. The trouble is that this government is going back to the time of Adam Smith. You're going back to the 1760s with the invisible hand. In terms of economics and who's in vogue now, I think there's almost a circular thing: what goes around, comes around. Eventually, we'll be back to Keynes again or to John Galbraith.

Mr Rob Sampson (Mississauga West): That was the problem.

Mr Colle: The same thing almost, though.

There were so many columns about the budget. One of them in fact said that actually this budget is a Keynesian budget because what you're doing is using government money to stimulate jobs. So it's the same thing the NDP used to do and the Liberals used to do. You're doing it but you're calling it a tax cut. That's the funny thing.

The other thing is -- to my colleague for Etobicoke West -- about the subways. We continually asked all the top civil servants up here at Queen's Park -- the Peterson government civil servants or the NDP -- we said: "Listen, have you got the money to do this? Can we fund the basic bread-and-butter streetcar lines and the subways? Is the money there? Is it going to be there?" I don't know how many times we asked them that, put it on paper, and they came and repeatedly said, "The money's there, you've got to do it; 100% guaranteed." In fact, I remember them coming down to Metro and almost twisting our arms when we wanted to go from four to two and said we were crazy that we only wanted to go with two: "You guys are nuts." In fact, your colleague called the members of Metro clowns because they didn't want to go with four.

I'm just wondering, as an elected official, who you believe then, because we asked the same legitimate questions. There's always an attempt to listen to so-called experts and where the money is, and they guaranteed it.

The Deputy Speaker: The member's time has expired. Further debate?

Mr David Christopherson (Hamilton Centre): It's my pleasure to join in the debate on the government's budget. I want to begin by focusing of course on the much-ballyhooed 30% tax cut and I want to talk about it in relation to job creation, more specifically actually the lack of job creation and the missing of this government's target and the breaking of one of its fundamental promises regarding the number of jobs it would create.


First of all, the 30% tax cut makes for a much better news release and content for a speech than it does any real benefit to the average working person in this province.

It was actually quite amusing to watch some of the comments from people the day after the budget when they do the person on the street interviews. One of them I recall was asked, "Well, what are you going to do with your tax cut?" and the first thing that came to their mind was that they were going to pay off their mortgage and then decide what they would do with the rest of it. It struck me just how well the government has been able to sell this as a populist matter, and indeed it has gone over relatively well in that regard, and why not. If you said to anybody, "Do you want your taxes cut?" very few people are going to say no at first blush.

But the fact of the matter is that for the vast majority of working people in this province, they're going to be lucky to see $5 or $10 a week. We also know that the $5 or $10 a week is not only the largest part, it's the only part of this government's job creation strategy. They have nothing else, nothing. The only thing they can point to when we ask them, "What are you doing to create jobs?" is to say the 30% tax cut will take care of everything.

The fact of the matter is that over half of the $5 billion -- $5 billion, by the way, the government's going to have to borrow, because they don't have it -- is going to go to the top 10% income earners. That's the reality, and I don't think it takes an economist to figure out that giving the top 10% income earners in this province over $2.5 billion of that $5 billion is going to be any kind of a job creation strategy. What it will do is allow some people perhaps to buy a larger speedboat or a larger cottage, or spend more time down in Florida, or put more money in their RRSP, but that in and of itself is not going to create jobs. The idea that somehow the $5 or $10 that the average working person's going to have will create jobs is equally mystical. That money will dissolve; $5 or $10 a week is not going to represent investment anywhere.

We know again most middle-class people, the vast majority of them, are going to be net losers because their property tax is going to have to go up. Why, you say, would that have to go up? We know the government has cut transfer payments to municipalities by 43% over two years, and anybody who follows their local politics will know that aldermen and councillors are scrambling, desperately trying to find a way of managing these cuts without slashing the services that quite frankly make our communities what they are. School boards are faced with deciding whether they're going to lay off teachers, jettison junior kindergarten or raise property taxes.

We know the government's game plan is, "Let those local councils and those local school boards make the decisions, and hopefully they'll take all the political heat." We certainly watch the ministers, one by one, pop up in their place when they're asked about this and say, "Oh, those cuts have got nothing to do with me." The minister says of the $35-a-year average increase in education tax in my home town of Hamilton, "It has nothing to do with me; that was a local decision."

The truth of the matter is that the local school board was left with very few options, and while the government pretends that it's possible not to affect classrooms to handle their cuts, $400 million from education -- which any school board trustee, by the way, will tell you is the equivalent to $1 billion a year, given the school year and the fiscal year they work under -- you cannot cut that kind of money without affecting classroom education, which is a violation of a promise this government made.

I recently visited Westdale high school in the west end of Hamilton and met with students who had put on their own forum to talk about the politics of the day to talk about cuts and particularly how they affected education. This government ought to be worried. I was impressed. Those young people had their facts. They had their figures. They knew the realities. They were even telling me and those of us who were at this forum that they're using textbooks that still show Trudeau as the current Prime Minister. They're having to take their textbooks and hand them off to the next classroom that's starting to deal with their subject matter before they're done, recognizing it's this old textbook to start with, but hand it off before they're finished. Otherwise, the next classroom has nothing. That's the reality.


Mr Christopherson: I see backbenchers rolling their heads and saying, "Oh no, that can't be true," or, "That needn't be." It is true. Go out into your high schools. Go on out there and talk to those kids and ask them how they feel about what you're doing with the education system, and then ask them if they feel that the $5 or $10 a week their parents are getting in this tax cut is a fair tradeoff. The fact of the matter is that by any measure people will realize this makes no sense. It may make good politics, but it doesn't make any sense. It certainly doesn't make any sense for the future of our education system.

This government talks about creating all these jobs; of course, they promised to deliver 725,000 jobs during their term in government. Their own budget documents, their own figures show they're going to create 287,000 jobs in three years. You're not going to make it. You're not going to make your target. Your own budget document shows clearly you're not going to reach your target.


Mr Christopherson: I hear the heckling and howls from the back benches. That's normally what happens when you touch an open wound. The fact of the matter is, you're not going to be able to reach your target. You're going to break another promise you made to the people of Ontario with regard to the number of jobs you said you were going to create. It's not going to happen.

Mr Ron Johnson: It is going to happen.

The Speaker (Hon Allan K. McLean): The member for Brantford.

Mr Christopherson: It's not going to happen, because this is all based on false economics. It does not make sense to say that dealing with the deficit and the debt is your top priority and then give a 30% reduction in income tax. For most working families, that's the same as being behind in a couple of mortgage payments or in your rent and having your credit cards maxed out, and then the first thing you do after you make the decision to deal with those debts is to decide you're going to work one day a week less. It's no different. It makes no sense.

Government members know that economists as well as bond-rating agencies have publicly, on the record, said this makes no sense in terms of dealing with the deficit. Their kindred soul, as was mentioned by a previous speaker, in Alberta, Ralph Klein, said it makes no sense. It doesn't make any sense. All you're doing is taking care of your very rich pals, and at the end of the day this will be very, very clear to the people of Ontario.


In dealing with jobs, further, we know that another one of the solutions this government has to problems they see is workfare. I can't think of anything that's more insidious than the idea that the state would be forcing people to perform labour so they can eke out an existence in this province. That's what you're doing. You can carve it up any way you want; you can slice it up any way you want. The fact of the matter is you're talking about forced labour.

On the same day a government member asks a question of the social services minister about workfare and what kind of jobs he would be looking at these people doing, we have the Minister of Northern Development having to answer for almost 1,000 jobs he has eliminated across the province.

How is that supposed to be good for the province? It escapes me and escapes most of us on this side of the House. The fact of the matter is that was a mean-spirited, devious, dangerous issue to run on. Ten years ago, you could not have run on that. You'd have gotten forced and laughed off the stage. But the times being such as they are, with the pendulum swinging to the right, you were able to pull it off, and at a time when people are looking for someone to blame, that made an easy crowd.

We all remember with vivid colour memories the pride this government took in standing up right after they were elected and announcing they were cutting from the poorest people in this province 22% of their income. You didn't do that to anyone else.

Mr O'Toole: Now they have jobs.

Mr Christopherson: I hear one of the members in the back, I think from Durham East, saying, "Now they have jobs." What kind of jobs do they have? See, that's going to be your answer when you deal with workfare. You're going to say, "We've put people to work." You've put them to work forcing them just to survive in this province, a concept that we haven't seen -- when did we last hear about this? During the Depression. Similar circumstances, and it was viewed in the same light.

I have no doubt in my mind that down the road, and it might take a generation or two, this government will be held up as an example of what you have to be fearful of when a right-wing agenda takes hold in a province during a time of economic recession.

The only other comparison is Mitch Hepburn, and Bennett federally, and what they did. That's exactly what's happening now. It took other governments to come in after that and begin to rebuild and move forward, rather than moving backwards, which is exactly what this government is doing.

In fact, when we're talking about workfare, I think it says a lot when we have the Minister of Community and Social Services saying publicly that he will fiscally punish any community that does not accept workfare.

Mr Ron Johnson: Hear, hear.

Mr Christopherson: I hear members in the back, the member for Brantford, saying, "Hear, hear." What that tells me is that there's an awful lot of communities that are very uncomfortable with this. Many of them are adamantly opposed. I see what the labour councils are doing and I think that's an excellent idea, but the fact of the matter is, those councils don't want workfare in their communities because they know what it means. But they're being forced under threat of fiscal annihilation, because they could not survive the suffering of the kind of cutbacks the minister is threatening them with.

While I'm on that point, I don't think -- in fact, I know we have never seen a government democratically elected that has put the fear of God into people and organizations the way you have. There are organizations out there that are too terrified to speak out because they're worried about recrimination. They're thinking, "Whatever little bit of money we've got left after you've done your massive cutting we can't afford to lose, so we'd better stay quiet."

That's what's going on out there. There are individuals out there, there are seniors that are terrified. They're worried about how they're going to survive in the future. Anybody who's living in any kind of social housing is worried about what the future means for them. This government has shown no compassion for anything other than the bottom line.

Today in this House we debated a resolution introduced by my colleague from London Centre, the Ontarians with Disabilities Act. What we know is that they're great on the words, because the minister stands up and mouths a lot of platitudes about caring for the disabled.

Mrs Janet Ecker (Durham West): Two hundred million bucks on child care is just words?

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

Mr Christopherson: But the fact is when we separate the words from the deeds, what do we have? We have a government that came into power and they eliminated the Anti-Racism Secretariat because that wasn't a priority. That's not important; that's not the people this government represents.

They eliminated the employment equity law, a major step forward in recognizing that there are systemic barriers for people in our communities, and in such a diversified community it's not the radical thought that this government likes to think it was; it was a decent, progressive thing to do, to recognize there are things that need to be fixed. That's what you did.

The Advocacy Act, in many cases dealing with elderly disabled, you eliminated that one too, and then with great fanfare in this budget said, "Well, we put $3 million towards some phone line" or something. That's after you cut $25 million out of money that was supporting the Advocacy Act. That's your track record. That's your track record on the disabled.

What about disabled workers? Disabled workers are a particular target for this government. We know that the reform of WCB is meant to cut back on workers' ability to qualify for WCB when they're injured on the job through no fault of their own. You've already said you're going to cut their benefits by 5%, but oh, you're going to reduce the assessment rate by 5% also.


The Speaker: The member for Etobicoke-Rexdale.

Mr Christopherson: That's the message that your actions tell the people of Ontario around the issue of the disabled. That's what you've done, not what you've said, and the more that people see --

Mr John Hastings (Etobicoke-Rexdale): One of the worst bureaucracies around.

The Speaker: Order. The member for Etobicoke-Rexdale is continuously out of order and I won't warn him again.

Mr Christopherson: It wasn't really bothering me. I just take it from where it was coming and move forward. I don't mind thoughtful interruptions and witticisms and quips; in fact I quite enjoy them. I don't ever hear those coming from the member you've just had to rein in.

I left off saying that this government's record in terms of what they talk about and what they do tells the real story. That does take a while to get out, and certainly it takes a while to get past the headlines that say "30% Tax Cut," "Get Government Off Your Back," "Smaller Government Is Always Better." Those are the simplistic themes that this government puts forward, but as our communities, street by street and project by project, are dismantled and slashed and set aside and pushed to the history books, people will begin to see the price of that 30% tax cut.

I want to end for today, and I'll pick up again the week after next, by saying that people will eventually feel the $8 billion that you cut from public spending, $8 billion that you announced from the time you took power until you brought in your budget, and you brought in just what you consider to be the good news, the 30% tax cut, plus a few little dollars here and there that represent a mere fraction of what you've already taken away.

Once those $8 billion start to take hold, I believe very, very clearly that the majority of Ontarians will see that this is strictly a smoke-and-mirrors game, that this government is not here to represent the majority of people. They're here to represent their very wealthy, privileged friends. When that happens, that's the day we'll have ourselves a new government.

The Speaker: It being almost 6 of the clock, this House stands adjourned until Monday, May 27 at 1:30 of the clock.

The House adjourned at 1800.