36th Parliament, 1st Session

L080 - Thu 30 May 1996 / Jeu 30 Mai 1996



















































The House met at 1003.




Mr Gilchrist moved second reading of the following bill:

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

The Deputy Speaker (Mr Bert Johnson): The member has 10 minutes.

Mr Steve Gilchrist (Scarborough East): Thank you, Mr Speaker. Over the last nine months, all of us, including all of the new members elected just last June, have had an opportunity to address this Legislature during members' statements, petitions, during debate on bills and resolutions. In addition, most members have had a chance to participate in the important committee hearings which shaped the final design for the bills which are ultimately passed in this chamber. None the less, I must say that nothing to date has driven home to me more the significance of my election last June than the prospect of debating my own private member's bill here today.

The extraordinary opportunity that is afforded to all non-cabinet ministers to stand in this chamber and petition colleagues from all three parties to support an individual initiative is humbling and an exciting opportunity, to say the least. If nothing else, private members' hour reinforces the belief that I suspect is shared by members from all three parties that our electoral system and our democratic institutions do indeed work and that in some small way it allows every MPP the ability to represent the interests of his or her constituents by shaping provincial legislation to reflect the changing needs of our society.

That being said, it is a distinct privilege for me to say a few words about Bill 53, An Act to Promote Full Financial Accountability of Labour Unions and Employees Associations to their Members, 1996.

Let me begin by saying what this bill is not, and then I'll get on to the sum and substance of the bill.

This bill was not motivated by any anti-union sentiment. It does not single out unions for different treatment. It does not infringe on the rights of any union member. Nor does it -- in fact, it most particularly does not -- add in any appreciable way to the bureaucracy or red tape in this province.

While I would be the first to recognize there have been a number of initiatives undertaken by our government which have caused varying degrees of concern to certain unions or certain union members, I for one am not a union basher and I believe completely that when considered altogether, the bold changes in direction which we have taken over the past year will have a positive impact on the lives and the income of union members all across this great province.

I had the pleasure of working in Oshawa for the three years prior to the election. To say the least, that is a city which is very much imbued with a strong belief in union values. In fact, I would be very surprised if any of my 160 employees did not have a relative working at GM or PPG, Sklar-Peppler or any number of other union workplaces. In addition, I worked directly with a number of union members on a wide variety of community projects and I can say without the slightest fear of contradiction that in all those efforts the union members and I participated not just as equals but, I should add, as friends.

I won't belabour the point about the support for this bill that I believe exists across the entire spectrum of trade unions, for I know that my colleague from the riding of Oshawa wishes to speak directly to that issue a little later on.

Perhaps it sells newspapers to perpetuate the myth that somehow there's a class distinction between the supporters of the three political parties in this province, but the truth is, and it would be borne out by anyone who has ever canvassed door to door during an election campaign, party support cuts across all income levels and all vocations. I for one am proud of the strong moral and, it should be noted, financial support which our election campaign in Scarborough East received from union members and from unions themselves. While I don't believe it would be appropriate to name all the unionists who supported our campaign and who continue to support the work of our government, I can say that there was particularly strong support among the construction trades, police, firefighters, as well as from other blue- and white-collar union members.

The riding of Scarborough East has a very high percentage of union membership and I take my responsibility to those constituents just as seriously as I do to any others. Accordingly, what I've proposed in this bill is quite simple. It will afford trade unions the opportunity to demonstrate the same accountability which the NDP required of publicly traded companies in 1993 and which our government required of public sector workers earlier this year. In fact, while there are a number of relatively minor differences, this bill is very much modelled on the Public Sector Salary Disclosure Act, which required that all public sector institutions, such as school boards, universities and hospitals and crown corporations, file a summary of employees earning over $100,000 every year.


As every member in this chamber can attest, the reaction of almost all Ontarians to the publication of those lists was overwhelmingly positive. Our office received a number of complimentary letters and phone calls, and in every case, there were sentiments that access to this information was long overdue. Taxpayers believe it is their right to know how their transfer partners spent the tax dollars with which they had been entrusted. Clearly, the Public Sector Salary Disclosure Act created an entirely new standard of accountability to the people of this province.

Bill 53 was inspired by this standard of accountability, and subsequent to the release of the salary information in the public sector, I had no fewer than three close union friends separately question why neither our government nor the NDP had applied the same standard to trade unions and employee associations. I had to admit to them that there was no good reason I could think of why these organizations had been left out and I committed to attempt to redress that oversight via a private member's bill.

I say again, with the greatest of respect to any of my colleagues opposite, that this bill is not motivated by vindictiveness or by some philosophical predisposition against unions. Rather, it is the product of a genuine belief that we should be treating all organizations on an equal basis when it comes to a standard of accountability.

In the case of unions, that accountability is to the rank-and-file members. I am certain that no one in this Legislature would deny that the first responsibility of every union executive is to the union members who have elected them. No less than the responsibility which we as MPPs have to the taxpayers of Ontario, the members of the union executive have a clear and abiding obligation to provide sound fiscal management of the union dues with which they are entrusted.

This bill affords all unions the ironclad method to convince all their members that they are living up to this important obligation. This bill would require all trade unions and employee associations to file an annual return which would list the assets and liabilities of the union and, most important, would detail any salaries in excess of $100,000 per year. This filing would be sent to the Minister of Finance by March 31 of each year and would be available to all union members at any time during the balance of that year.

It should be noted that in the case of the Public Sector Salary Disclosure Act the government outlined a variety of penalties for any violation of the act and the government itself was also the enforcer of the act. Bill 53 leaves only one function in the hands of the finance minister, namely, the assurance that an annual filing is received, and there are only two penalties which could ever be assessed by the government as a result of this failure to file. Aside from non-filings, the most significant difference between this bill and the public sector bill is that in all other respects, it will only be members of the relevant trade union who will be able to initiate any review or critique of the filing which the government receives. This is, without a doubt, the most important aspect of this bill and one which I believe deserves extra emphasis.

In introducing the regulations that brought about the disclosure of salaries within the private sector, the member for Nickel Belt, the then Minister of Finance, Mr Floyd Laughren, praised those disclosure rules and detailed at some length the rationale behind the institution of those new standards of accountability.

I'd just quote briefly from the statement made by the honourable member on October 4, 1993, because I genuinely believe the sentiments expressed by the longest-serving member in this Legislature are as valid in the context we are debating today as they were in the private sector context at that time. He said: "The new regulations will require that companies tell their shareholders the compensation paid. As well, we will require companies to show investors how their shares have performed against the market average over the last five years." He went on to say: "These changes benefit a very large group, namely, individual and institutional investors who have put their money into companies whose shares are publicly trade in Ontario. They have taken on ownership with all the risks and rewards that attach to ownership."

If you take the word "companies" in those comments and replace it with "unions," and if you replace the idea of share purchase with the remittance of union dues, clearly there is exactly the same need for and the same benefits from the disclosure of any large salaries within unions. At the same time, the provision to disclose other elements of the balance sheet afforded investors the opportunity to judge the relative efficiency and accountability of different companies. So too would this bill accord the same benefits to members of unions and employee associations who wish to compare salaries paid by different unions.

Let's be perfectly clear about the impact of such disclosure. I fully recognize that if the membership of a union believes the efforts being spent by one or more of their executive members are not being rewarded at a level commensurate with that paid to comparable positions in other unions, there might well be wage increases. On the other hand, it will ensure that all union members have the opportunity to review the broader spectrum of wages within the trade union movement. In any event, the access to information, this new right, would further cement the reputations of trade unions as accountable, responsible organizations.

I look forward to the comments of my colleagues and having the opportunity to address any concerns they might raise about this bill during debate this morning.

Mr Dwight Duncan (Windsor-Walkerville): I'm glad to have the opportunity to debate Mr Gilchrist's bill today, because it raises some worthy points of discussion and issues that need to be addressed; that is, the openness and accountability of trade unions here in Ontario and indeed, because of the nature of Ontario, in the country. It raises a number of concerns around disclosure not only for unions but the public sector, which the government has already acted on for the public sector and elsewhere.

I wanted to begin my talk by saying it is my experience -- and this experience we tested over the last few days in finding out just what union leaders do make. It's not difficult to find out, because within those organizations, certainly with the unions we spoke to, they were quite prepared to provide that information. One of the myths that's been perpetrated about unions is that they are somehow not open, that they do not disclose, that their membership does not have access to the kind of information that Mr Gilchrist has suggested in his bill ought to be made available. They do that already.

We have to examine the bill and the concept, not strictly in terms of what we agree -- when I say "we," I think most of the leadership of the union movement agrees -- is the need for public accountability by elected officials within those unions. We also have to examine it in the context of what we require for private sector companies, not-for-profit organizations where there are elected boards of directors and others.

The government acted very quickly on its commitment with respect to salary disclosures in the public and broader public sectors, and I think most would agree that that exercise was welcome and a healthy exercise in terms of our democracy. When we begin to expand the scope of that concept, we have to recognize the different players not only within the workplace but within our broader society.

Part of the fear I have in starting to intrude into these areas is that a government today that may want to make this kind of disclosure mandatory for a trade union may be replaced by a government that wants to make, for instance, every private company disclose salaries over $100,000. I recognize that securities exchanges have rules and regulations for disclosure for senior executives, but I believe there is some downside risk to that. I think too the other issue may be other organizations where there are elected boards that choose staff and make decisions around hiring. What immediately comes to mind are non-profit organizations within the economy.

We have to be careful when we look at these kinds of issues, and we have to be cognizant of the reality that exists today. The reality today is that unions do disclose to their membership and to those in the public who request it information about salary levels for their senior executives. I've heard many of the union leaders in this province openly acknowledge what they make and defend it to their membership. My understanding of the union movement in this province is that the salary levels are not simply arrived at; they are discussed openly at executive levels and agreed upon by senior elected officials within those unions.

What gives me greatest concern about the bill is that it seems to be more union baiting. I think the government has consciously pursued a policy aimed at undermining or trying to undermine the credibility and importance of unions not only in this province but in this country. We have seen a repeated attack on the rights of organized workers and the rights of their unions. We were made aware of a meeting between the Premier and the Minister of Labour just this past week with respect to trying to at least open a dialogue with the senior union leaders in this province. That meeting, we are given to understand, didn't go well, and it should be no surprise that it didn't go well. When a government, a political party, pursues an agenda that is unquestionably an attack on unions and working people, it shouldn't surprise any of us that the gaps that have been created will be very hard to overcome.


We believe that full disclosure is a worthy public goal. We believe the types of accountability that the member who has presented this bill contemplates are worthy, but we fear that the real meaning of this bill has more to do with union baiting and more to do with undermining the rights and the abilities of working people to organize and bargain collectively.

We think and believe that any standard that you apply to unions -- if you're prepared to do that for unions, our fear is that you may be forced or a future government may be pushed to apply it, for instance, as I indicated earlier, to anyone in the private sector making more than $100,000.

So we have some difficulty with this. I'm grateful we've had the opportunity to discuss it. I think the public policy issue that's raised is worthy and I look forward to hearing the comments of my colleagues in the House around this bill.

Mr Tony Martin (Sault Ste Marie): I just want to very briefly say in this House that today we have another example of this government's unrelenting attack on unions in this province.

It is just unbelievable that anybody with the stature of a member of provincial Parliament, given all that the union movement has contributed to the very fabric of this province that we call Ontario by way of a standard of living and quality of life and safety in the workplace and pension plans and all of the things that we all take for granted today that were fought for, literally, blood spilled over by working men and women in this province over a number of years so that some of us who are the product of working class families could have the education that was required so that we might end up in a place like this -- it's unbelievable you would bring forward yet another piece of so-called legislation that is so weakly veiled that anybody with half a brain could see that it is simply another attack on the union movement for political purposes, for political purposes of the worst kind.

An attack on the union movement of any sort, no matter what you call it or how you veil it, is an attack on working people. It's an attack on the people who get out there every day and through the sweat of their brow and by bringing their brain to work contribute to the products that we put together and manufacture and sell both in the domestic market and internationally so that we might have a standard of living that all of us can participate in and we might feel good about the jurisdiction called Ontario that is the envy of the world.

For anybody for a second to suggest that the labour of working people is not of utmost value to the economic health of this province, and through a piece of legislation like this to contribute to the ongoing attack on that by way of an attempt to tear apart the organization that labour has become, is just scandalous. It's outrageous. It's an attack on working people. It's an attack on families.

We hear so often from the folks across the way how they believe in family values, they believe in supporting the family. Well, the best way to support families is to make sure they have enough money to put food on the table for their kids and to pay their rent or to buy a new home and to contribute in those ways to the economy of this province, and not to be attacking them, consistently and unrelentingly, in the way that you are in this place. It's not only an attack on families, but it's an attack on children as well, and that's consistent too with what this government is doing.

When you consider -- and I'll never forget it -- the day in July when all of us woke up in this province to the reality that the poorest among us were going to lose 22% of the money they use to put food on the table for their children, what we have today is consistent and in line with that kind of thinking, with that kind of narrow, greedy, selfish thinking that's going to destroy this province.

Mr Bill Murdoch (Grey-Owen Sound): You said you were going to be short. Leave time for somebody else.

Mr Martin: Hear me out and bear me well on this one. In two or three years we will pay the price for all of this.

I would suggest that anybody in this House who has any interest in the quality of life of people, of families, of children, who has any interest in the future of this province and the overall health and wellbeing of families and working people, will not contribute in any way to the acceptance or approval or passing of this bill. I will be voting against it.

Mr Doug Galt (Northumberland): I'd like to start out by complimenting my friend the member for Scarborough East for a very thoughtful and responsible presentation and for bringing this bill forward.

I'm certainly very disappointed in what I've just been hearing from across the floor from the member for Sault Ste Marie. It sounded a lot like a leadership campaign speech looking forward to the next election, rather than being on topic about this particular bill. It's most unfortunate that he was talking about feeding children and not talking about accountability of the unions.

The current government moved to ensure that taxpayers were aware of salaries in the public sector that would be exceeding $100,000. There's a similar need to ensure that unions and employee associations are equally responsive to their members when it comes to the subject of executive salaries.

This bill is modelled after the Public Sector Salary Disclosure Act and is identical to it in most of its clauses. The exception is that the oversight for compliance with disclosure would be done by the Ontario Labour Relations Board. There is no room for the government to get involved unless a union does not file its annual filing, in which case the government would report this to the Ontario Labour Relations Board.

Only a member of a union can initiate a complaint. It would be dealt with in the same way that the Ontario Labour Relations Board deals with unfair labour practices. We're not saying the government should run it; we're saying that the rank and file of the union would be looking after this.

I can assure you that there are no special powers in this bill or any draconian fines such as are being intimated from across the House. Essentially, this bill is ensuring accountability by empowering the union members. I can tell you that there's no greater frustration for the taxpayers of this province than lack of empowerment. This is the current "in" thing that people are looking for, a little bit of strength and a little bit of rights, and this is what the union members are indeed asking for. It also allows the union the opportunity to address any criticism that their executives are not using union dues appropriately.

The most important part of this bill and what I'd like to focus on today is accountability. We're living in an era where the public and union membership have never been better informed, have never been better educated. They want answers and they want accountability of their elected officials as well as their union leaders. They want promises kept, and if people don't keep their promises, they expect a resignation. We've recently seen that in Hamilton, where a member of the federal House did resign only because of pressure from the media and the public that a commitment had been made that they weren't prepared to stand up to.

This bill goes hand in hand with the workplace democracy provisions in Bill 7. This bill will enhance the democratic process.

This government is held accountable to its citizens. The salaries of all individuals who make over $100,000 are open to the public. The public has a right to know how much they are paying the people who run their public services.

In the private sector, corporations are held accountable to the shareholders. The salaries of CEOs of all public corporations are open to the public.

Unions should have the same kind of accountability to their members and to the broader public. Union members can often pay union dues approaching $1,000 a year. Moreover, members do not have a choice; they have to pay these dues even if they do not particularly support the union. Union membership is not by choice. I suppose we could debate that for some time, how democratic that really is. But whether they want to belong or not, they must pay the union dues or they have to quit and lose their job.


I regularly hear protests from the rank and file of unions saying: "I just want a job. I don't necessarily want to have to belong. Isn't there something you can do for me?" This is something we can do for them to ensure accountability of their senior executive.

Union dues are also tax-deductible, which essentially means that the public subsidizes unions. Who else, what organizations in this province, other than charitable organizations, have this opportunity? The public has a right to know about the internal accountability mechanisms within the unions.

Furthermore, unions negotiate collective agreements on behalf of 33% of the workers in Ontario. This has a direct effect on the Ontario economy and it is therefore within the public interest to have full disclosure.

In closing, I would encourage the members from both sides of the House to remember that this is a private member's bill. It is not a party debate, as was being suggested from across the floor. This bill is all about improving accountability of the unions in Ontario, it is all about empowering the rank-and-file worker in this province and it's about ensuring the democratic rights to the union workers who pay the dues to their union.

I certainly look forward to the unanimous support for private member's Bill 53 brought forward by my good friend the member for Scarborough East.

Mr Gerry Phillips (Scarborough-Agincourt): I'm pleased to join the debate on the bill. It is an interesting bill designed to disclose primarily salaries but also the assets and liabilities. If we proceed with this bill, the challenge for us is simply that we logically then have to look at where it leads and what's the principle here of disclosure and why disclosure?

Mr Gilchrist: Why not?

Mr Phillips: Well, why not, as the member says. The members need to, I suspect, appreciate where it all leads. For example, I have many accounting friends in partnership firms who are very curious about what the senior partners make in the firm, and they've come to me and said, "I understand there's a bill to make sure that union members know what the senior people in the unions make." By the way, if you check, most unions already disclose it; I think the salaries of the senior people are in the constitution of most unions. If we want to proceed with this, I think that, by extension, if the government member who is proposing this thinks members are owed this information, perhaps we should look at accounting firms and law firms. For example, I have friends who are in franchises and they're always very curious about what people are making in franchises, and what the president of a Canadian Tire store's making. They're often interested in that. They would say: "Why not? Because I'm one of the members of a franchise, I would like to know what the president of a Canadian Tire store is making." Certainly I think we're going to have to, if we proceed with this bill, say, "What is the principle behind it and, by extension, where does it lead?"

Many public companies -- perhaps it would be very interesting to see the salaries of everybody making more than $100,000. Right now I think the law is the top five officers, but perhaps we should be looking at all public companies divulging everybody making more than $100,000. If the logic of this bill is that anybody in this province making $100,000 should be required to disclose their salary -- I think that's the principle of the bill -- I don't think we can stop simply with this. We've got to go back to the public companies and disclose everybody making -- because, I gather from Mr Gilchrist, the interest here is: "Who's making $100,000 in this province? Let's get it out in the open so we all know, so we can all understand."

The problem with the bill is, as the member himself probably will recognize, that it's too limited. If that's what he wants to do, if disclosing $100,000 is what he wants to do, the bill is too limited, just divulging union members making more than $100,000. We have to look beyond that, go back to the public companies and say, "Everybody in a public company making more than $100,000 should be required to have their salaries revealed." We're going to have to go to private companies too, because the unions of this province deal with public companies, public sector organizations and private companies. We'd have to look at expanding the legislation to include private companies.

Certainly we're going to have to look at other organizations where the members are paying dues, where they want it. The Albany Club surely is going to have to reveal the amount of money they're paying their general manager, if we're going to follow this to its logical conclusion. What we've done so far is to say to public companies, "Your top five" --

Mr Terence H. Young (Halton Centre): What about the National Club?

Mr Phillips: That's one of the Conservative members saying, "The National Club." What is the principle we're following here? Is it that if you belong to any organization the salaries of the senior people have to be disclosed?

Mr Murdoch: What's wrong with that?

Mr Phillips: The member says, "What's wrong with that?" If that's the principle we're following here, and that is that the salary of anybody making $100,000 has to be disclosed, we can't limit it to just the union organizations. You're going to have to expand the bill to include public companies. You've got to reveal all the $100,000. You're going to have to expand the bill to include private companies. You're going to have to expand the bill to include not just union organizations but all organizations --

Mr Murdoch: Do you have an amendment to this? Will you bring the amendment?

Mr Phillips: The member is yelling across. I am not sure that there is an obligation in this province that for anybody making $100,000 it be publicly revealed. If the Conservative members feel that's the kind of interference and that's the kind of hand you want on the public -- and that is, let's get out in the open everybody making more than $100,000 -- let's make it a very simple bill. If that's what you want, then put forward the bill.

Mr Murdoch: What do you want?

Mr Leo Jordan (Lanark-Renfrew): Tell us what you want.

Mr Phillips: What do I want? I think it's a bit strange that because you make $100,000, you've got to reveal your salary for everybody in the province. I think it is very inconsistent to say: "This is just for the union members. This is just for the union. That's what we're going to limit this to." It is -- Mr Speaker, listen carefully to this -- in my opinion, hypocritical, and I don't mean to say a word that I can't use, but it is hypocritical in a bill to limit it to just one group if you believe as a principle that everybody making more than $100,000 should be revealed. My friends find it strange the Conservative Party believe that.

Mr Murdoch: That is why we have a debate. We want to hear your ideas. Work with us.

Mr Phillips: I don't agree with it. I don't agree that just because you make $100,000 you need to be publicly revealed. I have real problems with the bill because I don't think it's designed to be helpful to the public. If it were, I think the member would have said, "Everybody making more than $100,000 should be revealed." That's not the case, and I think we may see the bill for really what it is, and that is that it is not something that's being helpful to the public, not something that is revealing salaries, but something that is designed to try to get at the unions. But probably if there's any organization in this province that reveals the salaries of its senior people, there's no one who does a better job than the unions. The unions are, by and large, democratic organizations where the bulk of the salaries are already revealed.

I have problems with the bill. I can't understand a Conservative member wanting to bring forward a bill like this. We'll see how the vote goes.


Mr David Christopherson (Hamilton Centre): I say to the member for Scarborough East that his suggestion and premise that anybody would possibly believe, given the track record of him and his government with regard to unions, workers and the rights they're entitled to, that this is anything other than an attack on the labour movement is kidding himself. There is no way that anyone who has watched your agenda could possibly believe you have any intent other than to continue to harass, attack and annoy in any way you can the labour movement in this province, because you need a weak labour movement, you need lower minimum standards, you need an elimination, an eradication of health and safety laws in order to implement the rest of your agenda.

This is the government that brought in Bill 7, which completely replaced the Ontario Labour Relations Act. You legalized once again the use of scabs. There's a terrible strike going on right now at the Ontario Jockey Club. It's a lockout because there are scabs being used. That couldn't have happened under previous legislation. You made that lawful. You're the government that shut down the Workplace Health and Safety Agency. You're the government --


The Deputy Speaker: Order. I would like to remind the member for Grey-Owen Sound that we will have to have a little better decorum. I would appreciate your cooperation in looking to that for me.

Mr Young: Mr Speaker, on a point of order: I thought we were debating Bill 53.

The Deputy Speaker: This is not a point of order.

Mr Christopherson: Mr Speaker, please, the heckling doesn't bother me in the least. I'd rather have the time than your attempting to bring them into any kind of order, because they don't like it when they're being shown for what they are.

The fact of the matter is that the track record, as I was saying before I was interrupted, shows very clearly where this government is at. We only need to look at what they're planning to do to innocent injured workers in this province to know how they really feel about workers. Take a look at the Employment Standards Act bill that's in front of this House, taking away rights, minimum basic standards of rights that workers have in this province. That's the history and that's the context of this government, wherein one of their backbenchers stands up and offers up this bill, saying that it's meant to help the labour movement, help workers and help unions. Nobody believes that and I'm surprised, knowing the member as I do, that he would believe that anyone would buy into such nonsense.

I say to the member very directly that this is all about going after the unions. When we had the infamous Bill 26, there was an amendment from my colleague the member for Dovercourt to make sure that when there's disclosure for non-profit entities receiving public funding, if a profit entity is receiving exactly the same funding, they would be responsible for having to make that same disclosure, such as in nursing homes. Some of them are non-profit; some are private. The law now says if it's a non-profit nursing home that receives a certain level of government funding, they've crossed a threshold and the disclosure must take place. We moved an amendment that said if it's a private corporation receiving the same amount of money, they should have the same obligation to make the same disclosure. This government voted against that amendment and now they have the audacity to stand in their place today and suggest this isn't about going after unions. You're not talking about empowering shareholders; you're not talking about empowering anyone, other than making sure you can continue to attack the labour movement. That's what this is all about.

I want to offer the honourable member a deal, if I could get his attention. If you're so sincere about being fair and if you really mean what you're saying, that this is not meant to be an attack, it's meant to provide more information to the public domain, I offer to you, on behalf of my colleagues who are here this morning, that if you go back and amend Bill 26 to make sure there's equal fairness with regard to disclosure between non-profit and profit, we'll support your bill. If you want support for this bill, stand in your place today and make a commitment that you will ensure that your government amends Bill 26 so that it's really fair vis-à-vis disclosure between private and non-profit. Then we will support this bill. We will support this bill, because we're not opposed to disclosure. After all, we did initiate the process.

We honestly believe, and I sincerely believe, that this is just part of your continuing agenda to attack the labour movement. I think you hope that you might embarrass the opposition, us in particular, by tying it to a motherhood issue. I believe that's the case. If I'm wrong on all these points, then I am prepared, as I said, to urge my colleagues to enact this bill if you will go back and amend Bill 26 and bring fairness in there, real fairness.

In terms of democracy and disclosure, I defy the member to show me where the labour movement in Ontario is any less open than the corporations in the private sector of this province vis-à-vis the kinds of disclosures they have to make. In fact, I offer to the Speaker, I bring a message to the member from Gord Wilson, the president of the Ontario Federation of Labour. He offers directly to you a chance that if you want to know what he makes and what all his officers make, drop him a line. He would be pleased to hear from you; he would be pleased to tell you how much their officers make; he would be pleased to show you what is already out there in the public domain.

This government wants people to believe in the old thinking of union bosses and the forced activities of unions out front, forcing people out on strike when they don't want to, ruling like big bosses. That's not the way the labour movement works in this province. If he doesn't know that, he bloody well ought to. One of the problems with this government is that you don't have any workers; you don't have anybody who's really from that world. That's why you can stand up and make the audacious claims that you do about what the labour movement is and isn't.

The fact of the matter is that historically the labour movement has shown how democracy can work in a free society -- the exact opposite of what you and many of your colleagues believe. I think you show that every time your Minister of Labour stands up and talks about changing the laws in this province. You have done nothing for workers since you've been in power. All you've done is gone after them, gone after the labour movement, gone after workers, gone after injured workers.

Mr Jordan: What will they do without jobs? You've got to give them jobs. They want jobs.

Mr Christopherson: Listen, you can howl all you want from the back benches. The fact of the matter is that your track record is there to be seen, and all the heckling in the world isn't going to change what you did to the labour movement, what you did to workers in this province and what you're still planning to do.

We had to shame you and force you into public hearings on your Employment Standards Act changes because you wanted people to believe that was just housekeeping: "Oh, don't worry about it. It's just minor little changes, clarifications." We said to you at the time, "It's not; there are significant, major changes." In fact, the labour movement in Ontario was betrayed after the meeting they had with the Minister of Labour, when they had those assurances.

Now you've been forced into having public hearings and you've been forced to admit that it's not housekeeping. There are going to be four weeks of hearings: two weeks across the province, one week here in Toronto and a week of clause-by-clause. That's not because you believe in democracy; that's because we forced you into admitting that you were taking away the rights of workers, and people have a right to be heard before you do that. You didn't offer that right under Bill 7, did you? No, you took away all those workers' rights and you didn't have one minute of public hearings.

In closing, I have not seen, nor am I aware of, a government elected in the province of Ontario that has attacked the labour movement and workers in the way this government has consistently, viciously and with purpose, because your whole intent is that you had to have a revolution, but it's got nothing to do with helping working people. The revolution is to take care of you and your wealthy and privileged friends, and for that you all ought to be ashamed.

The last thing I want to say is the labour movement in this province that I'm so very proud to have come from will never, ever have to take a lesson in democracy from the Mike Harris government.


Mr David Tilson (Dufferin-Peel): I'd like to say a few words. It's amazing how people change in a short period of time. I'd like to make a few comments with respect to Bill 53 as presented by the member for Scarborough East. We are in difficult times.

Interjection: It started with Mike Harris.

Mr Tilson: My friend in the Liberal Party is making some comments. I believe part of the problem started back in his government in the late 1980s. In the 1980s the privacy legislation came in and no one could know anything about anybody or anything. It was completely secret. We wrote cheques; we wrote blank cheques. We had no idea what we were paying for anything. I tell you that gradually society became a little bit concerned with this. Taxes were going up. We were concerned about waste. We were concerned about bureaucracy. We were concerned about corruption. We were concerned about all kinds of things and people became a little bit more demanding.

In fact, it started with the NDP government. Mr Laughren started this process and he introduced regulations, I believe it was to the security act, but it had to do with regulations. He introduced those regulations on October 14, 1993. At that time he introduced regulations which disclosed the compensation paid to executives of companies which are publicly traded in Ontario, and part of the Hansard was read by my friend from Scarborough East. I won't repeat that, other than to say that the concerns of people that changes -- to repeat Mr Laughren as finance minister:

"These changes benefit a very large group; namely, individual and institutional investors that have put their money into companies whose shares trade publicly in Ontario. They have taken on ownership, with all the risks and rewards that attach to ownership. We believe they, in return, have a right to full information on the companies they own. In particular, they have a right to know how much the people who run those companies are paid and how that decision was reached. These new regulations will ensure that they are told, and told in a way that is complete and easy to understand."

That's when the philosophy started. It started with the philosophy of Mr Laughren. He felt there should be more openness, people should know what's going on with their investments.

Then we came to the conclusion -- there was a debate. Some of us were on a committee that reviewed, I believe it was -- there was a municipal privacy act or a provincial -- there are two acts. I forget which one it was that we reviewed, but we spent some considerable time reviewing the issue of privacy. In fact, all three parties agreed that there had to be more information revealed about the public information, the public salaries. In turn, I don't think there was too much opposition when the finance minister stood in his place recently and introduced legislation that would reveal the salaries of people who work in the public, over $100,000, and that applied to anyone in the education field, the hospital field, anyone working in the public sector. There was some opposition to it, as there is to everything, but it was generally well received.

I must say this is a philosophy that I support, and I support the member for Scarborough East's philosophy, so much in fact that I introduced a similar bill back on November 3, 1993. We didn't have an opportunity to debate that bill, but I introduced it. It said essentially the same principles that the member for Scarborough East is putting forward. So I support him completely with that.

This private member's bill will certainly require the details of salaries paid to the union leaders, which would in turn be tabled. The NDP brought forward regulations that will ensure that the corporate executives' salaries are released. The Conservatives brought forward legislation that revealed and indicated that those leaders in the public sector's salaries were revealed, and I support this philosophy.

The union leaders have obtained a tremendous amount of power. I think we all respect the unions and there's a need for the union movement in our society. There's no question that workers of our province, of our country, need unions to exist, to support what they are doing. The difficulty, of course, is that the union leaders have acquired an amazing amount of power. They're closing down cities. They're doing a whole slew of things that I don't know whether the union movement necessarily supports, but they're doing these things.

People have no idea. They have to go and work for a company, and if they want to work for the company they're going to have to join that union and they're going to have to pay those union dues, and yet they don't have a clue as to what the union leaders are making or the benefits that they're making.

I hear stories, for example, that OSSTF has a private plane.

Interjection: Oh, no.

Mr Tilson: Well, I don't know whether that's true or not. I hear these things -- and the benefits that they receive.

The public does have a right to know. The taxpayer pays teachers, it pays nurses, it pays police officers, it pays firefighters, it pays a whole slew of people, and out of those are paid union dues. So the public is involved, our society is involved. Our society is being affected from what is being done by unions.

I listened to the Liberal finance critic and he did have some points; I will acknowledge that. On the other hand, why can't we scrutinize the unions just like we scrutinize other aspects of our society? These people are having a major effect on our society, not just the workers, not just the union members, but all members of our society.

I submit to you that shareholders, if they don't like what their corporate executives are doing, if they don't know what their corporate executives are receiving for salary, they can sell their shares. The workers don't have any choice. They have no choice. If they want to work, if they want to get a job, they have to stay with that company and they have to take it and they haven't a clue what's going on. They haven't a clue what's going on with respect to the union executives.

I will conclude. There's another member from our caucus who would like to say a few words. Union leaders have an obligation to account for what they're doing in our society, and that's why I support this bill.

Mr Young: I will support Bill 53. Before I talk about it, I would like to comment on some comments the member for Hamilton Centre made that there are no workers in the PC party, which is really absurd, and that there are no union members. There are a number of union members, former union members in our party. A number of our caucus members are married to union members. I have been a member of different unions for 18 years of my life, and I've also been a union representative or the equivalent of a shop steward. As usual, the member for Hamilton Centre doesn't know what he's talking about.

With Bill 26 we attempted to shine a light on salaries of people who receive government money and we succeeded with that, and this bill is perfectly consistent with that.

I agree with the member for Dufferin-Peel, we have unions attempting to shut down cities, we have unions that with just-in-time delivery in our factories can shut down an entire industry temporarily. Every citizen in Ontario is affected by that and I believe every citizen should have a right to know how those people are remunerated. I also believe that the union membership has a right to know how much money their union leaders are making while they're out on the picket line.

For any of my colleagues who don't support this bill, I'd be really interested to know what's the secret and why the secret. The bill is clearly in the public interest and I will be supporting it.

Mr Tony Silipo (Dovercourt): In the few seconds that are left, I just want to say that in fact, as members know, I come to this particular time in private members' hour very much in a non-partisan way, but when I see a piece of legislation like the one presented to us today from the member for Scarborough East I have to respond in a clearly partisan way because the bill before us is intended, as I read it, in a very partisan way. It is part of the Tory agenda to pick on unions, to pick on working people, because if the concern here really had to do with disclosure, there were opportunities through Bill 26 to amend the legislation when we put forward a proposal to do that.

There are other aspects that could be covered under this kind of bill, but of course we're not talking here about corporations, we're not talking about disclosure. What we're talking about is continuing the attack on public sector unions, on private sector unions, on working people. For that reason, I cannot support this legislation.


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

Mr Gilchrist: While I appreciate the comments made by members all three parties, I particularly appreciate those that dealt with the bill. With all due respect to the members opposite, a number of our members, the member for Hamilton Mountain and the member for Oshawa in particular, canvassed dozens of union members in their ridings and, quite frankly, the sentiment was that this bill didn't go far enough.

In summary, this bill is pro-union in the sense that it promotes accountability and will put to rest once and for all any perception that those organizations are not responsible. It is pro-union-member. It improves the access of the rank-and-file members to the financial information within the union and particularly for any salaries over $100,000 a year. Let's look at it in the context.

I personally don't believe there will be hundreds of names on that list over $100,000; I wouldn't be surprised if it's 10 or fewer. I would honestly ask the members opposite to whom they believe their chief responsibility lies, to those 10 people or to the hundreds of thousands of members of the trade unions and, I should point out, to the other hundreds of union executive members who won't be on that list?

I would also direct their thoughts -- and the member for Hamilton Centre raised some legitimate concerns. Obviously, I can't commit to opening up Bill 26, but I could commit to this: If this bill goes to committee, of course I would be prepared to debate and entertain any reasonable amendment to this bill if you believe we can do more to open up accountability across other sectors of our economy.

This bill is a positive and constructive addition to the existing sunshine laws which have been implemented by both the NDP and the current government. It provides full access to information without onerous or excessive bureaucracy. It supports the principles of democracy and full participation of the membership on which the union movement was founded. If you believe in honesty and integrity within the union, if you believe the rights of union members are paramount, then this bill addresses the concerns and those principles and gives an important new right to the hundreds of thousands of working Ontarians who participate in and contribute to the union movement in this province.


Mr Ruprecht moved second reading of the following bill:

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

The Deputy Speaker (Mr Bert Johnson): The member for Parkdale has 10 minutes.

Mr Tony Ruprecht (Parkdale): This bill will to some degree close a loophole that was recently opened in the Liquor Licence Act. As all of us know, the Minister of Consumer and Commercial Relations has decided to extend alcohol serving hours in Ontario from 1 am to 2 am, which does not necessarily mean patrons will be leaving at 2 am but they may choose to leave at any time.

What reasons has the minister given to change the alcohol serving hours in Ontario? He has given a number of reasons. One is that he wants to discourage cross-border drinking, where bar patrons in border towns finish at 1 am, then drive across the border to the United States and finish at other times. Another reason, he says, is that he wants to keep money in Ontario, which means he wants to have more money coming to the provincial treasury. Another reason, he says, is to bring Ontario in line with neighbouring jurisdictions and to bring Ontario into the 20th century.

Has the minister considered the downsides? Has he considered the consequences of this act? Those who live, in cities across Ontario, next to open patio bars will testify to the disruption of their lives. Let me quote some of the letters I've received.

This one is from Ila Bossuns from Toronto: "Liquor serving hours until 2 am may be all right in suburban areas where homes are a safe distance from commercial strips. They are not suitable in many parts of Toronto where, typically, residents bought houses before restaurants and bars arrived on the scene. Many bar patrons exit at closing time drunk, urinate on neighbours' front lawns, smash their last beer bottle on the sidewalk or against someone else's front steps, scream aloud, and race cars through sleepy streets. With your new legislation, they can now do this as late as 3 am. We downtown residents are doing the right thing -- living close to our jobs and using our cars less -- but we sure don't want to be penalized for this."

Further on she says: "Municipal noise bylaws are not worth the paper they're written on, as I know from years of experience. Noise violations are extremely difficult to prosecute. The combination of extended hours and weak, unenforceable noise bylaws leaves many of my constituents vulnerable to noise and to the loss of sleep. I hope you will help undo this problem."

And here from the mayor of Scarborough: "Your legislation addresses an apparent loophole in the act which would allow open-air patios serving alcoholic beverages to remain open for the same hours as indoor facilities" -- in short, a real problem. "Many of these outdoor establishments are in close proximity to residential communities and it is appropriate that they be governed by different hours of operation. The noise level of some outdoor establishments is such that it may impinge on the right of local residents to enjoy a reasonable level of peace and quiet in the neighbourhood, particularly in the early hours of the morning.

"Further to this, it is clear that by extending the hours for serving liquor from 1 to 2, the legislation is in conflict" -- and mark the work "conflict" -- "with our local noise bylaws. Infractions under the noise bylaws, which may require constant monitoring, in addition to the associated costs and disruptions of municipalities in prosecuting offenders, can be avoided by giving municipalities the power to control in which areas the extension of hours for serving liquor will be allowed."

And I have letters from local residents all over Ontario. This one is from the Roncesvalles-MacDonnel Residents' Association: "We agree that municipalities should be given the power to determine whether shorter drinking hours are more appropriate in certain residential areas. We are in a crisis situation with regard to activities that do not contribute positively to our locality, and we continue to struggle with issues of prostitution, drug dealing, drunkenness, rowdiness and other anti-social behaviour, which is exacerbated by a perceived oversaturation of liquor-licensed establishments in the area. With the extension of liquor-serving hours from 1 am to 2 am as of May 1, 1996, we see these problems being exacerbated further. As residents, we object."

Dovercourt Park Area Residents' Association: "An extension of operating hours in many cases means another hour for prostitutes, drug dealers and alcohol abusers to carry on their late-night, anti-social activity connected with the numerous licensed premises in the west end of the city."

And here from the chair of the Ontario Neighbourhoods for Responsible Alcohol Sales and Service, Simone Cosenza:

"Extended hours for licensed establishments is a great disappointment. None of the many recommendations made by resident and neighbourhood groups over the years have been adopted" -- none of them. "Extended hours cater to the demands of the restaurant and alcohol industries, not the communities left to deal with the devastation resulting from the irresponsible service of alcohol. Neighbourhood groups were not even consulted regarding these hours."


Here is one from the city of Toronto's chief public health officer, and listen to this one very carefully, because this is one of the most important items that has direct impact on this bill. He says: "The expansion of hours of service in Ontario raises important public health concerns. Research studies conducted in Europe and the United States link longer hours of service at both licensed premises and retail outlets to increases in alcohol consumption, public disturbances and drunkenness, violent crimes and alcohol-related traffic injuries and deaths. Clearly the recent increase of alcoholic beverage services to 2 am is detrimental to the public's health."

Has the minister considered the consequences? The argument here today before this Legislature is not to reduce drinking hours from 2 o'clock to 10 or to 9 or to 8, but simply to give the municipalities the right to discuss and empower them to reduce it by one hour.

What's the big picture? This government will pass a law that automatically suspends a driver's licence if a driver is impaired. Here on the other hand we're tempting them by saying: "Please, stay for one more hour. Have another drink before you go on the road." Does that make sense, I ask you today. Temptation: that's what this is about. Can we extend the hours? How many deaths are related to alcohol sales in Ontario? We have the figures: 19,000 alcohol-related deaths. That should wake up anybody who's sleeping today.

What's the small picture? The small picture is this: Let's not go very far away from here. If a person serves some of the patrons until 2 o'clock and he or she wants to go home at 2 o'clock, what vehicle are they going to use? Did you know the subway shuts down at 1:30? And here we're staying till 2 or maybe 2:30. How will they get home? The services then must necessarily be compensative, meaning that there should be a corresponding service to the extended hours.

What do the police chiefs say about this across Ontario? Do they have extra manpower in terms of enforcement? The answer is no. Do they have extra staff? Do they have extra money? No. Absolutely an abject no is the answer to this question. Therefore, has the minister thought about this really in close context with the other problems?

The focus today, I submit to you, is on this Minister of Consumer and Commercial Relations. That's the focus. He should be here today, because he has promised the people of Ontario that indeed there will be a balance and this loophole will be shut. Has he done that?

Let me give you an example: On February 1 he's quoted in the Toronto Star. "Sterling said he will give municipalities the power to determine whether shorter drinking hours are more appropriate in residential areas with outdoor patio bars" and he's quoted as saying -- this is Mr Sterling, who's the minister -- "`We have to respect the people who live in the area to ensure they have some quiet enjoyment of their own residence, and that after certain hours people are expected to sleep.'"

Has this minister kept his promise? Today I ask you. He should stand up and address this loophole. He should stand up and say to the people of Ontario either he didn't know what he was doing or he will reject and he will change the law.

Ms Marilyn Churley (Riverdale): I'm happy to stand in support of the member for Parkdale's bill today. As the ex-Minister of Consumer and Commercial Relations, I of course had to deal with this issue at that time. There were certainly compelling arguments made by the hotel-motel association; owners of bars and restaurants of course were at that time in favour of extending the hours. My ministry and myself did take it very seriously and did look at it. We were all trying to do our best to deal with the issue, especially at a time of recession, when people are not spending as much money as certainly the bars and restaurants would have liked to see.

We did look at it very carefully and at that time, in the research we did and the consultations we conducted, AMO, the Association of Municipalities of Ontario, expressed concern. I recall it very well, because we thought that probably the first body that we should talk to about the possible implications of extending the hours should be the people who are closest to their communities and therefore know the kinds of problems which exist in communities with drinking and driving and other problems and policing. At that time -- and I don't know what AMO has said to this government; I think that overall AMO has a somewhat different relationship, to put it mildly, with this government than ours -- but I certainly can say that they were very concerned and I believe they wrote me a letter to that end.

We also consulted with the chiefs of police and they too expressed concerns, for the reasons that my colleague from Parkdale mentioned today. There were concerns about drunk driving; there were concerns about not being given extra money for extra policing after hours.

There are certainly more concerns in the major urban areas like Metro Toronto and other areas that the public transportation system closes down before 2 o'clock and furthermore, with cutbacks -- and now I would say particularly under this government there have been more cutbacks, and there are certainly not going to be -- I know that some bus routes in fact are being taken away. There hasn't been any discussion that I have heard in this House of trying to find ways to extend the public transportation times to correspond with the closing of the bars.

That is a major concern because, as my colleague from Parkdale just mentioned, drunk driving is a problem. You could say, "Okay, everybody should take a cab home," but let's face it, the evidence shows that people don't always do that. They will get in their cars, if there's no option of public transportation, and they will drive. Those were the issues that were before me at the time, and I'm sure they were before Mr Sterling when he was considering this.

Another issue was brought to my attention. Recently I've received letters from women and others who are involved in the area of violence against women. They have expressed concerns again with cutbacks and evidence they have that there is a direct link between the consumption of alcohol and spousal abuse, that this in fact could increase spousal abuse. That's a concern that I took very seriously as critic for women's issues, and I think we all should.

I'm not sure, I haven't heard any guarantees from the minister that these very serious areas of concern have been looked into, and I certainly have heard no discussion around innovative ways of dealing with these very obvious problems and implications of extending bar hours.

I also had the opportunity to deal with this issue when I was a city councillor for ward 8, which is in the riding of Riverdale. When I ran for city council in ward 8, one of the hottest issues was boulevard cafés. I remember being very surprised at how hot this issue was, but it's because -- and Parkdale and other ridings I know have the same problem -- often main streets abut the residential streets.

The Danforth is an example of that. The Danforth is a very vibrant area, Greektown, wonderful restaurants, wonderful bars and great food, and I encourage all people in this House to come to the Danforth and try the many, many varieties of foods and shops on that street. But I do recall that at the time there were people running around, and I helped, gathering petitions against boulevard cafés. After I got elected, I chose to work with both the businesses and the residents to find compromises, because I believed it was important for businesses, the restaurants on the Danforth, in the summer hours to be able to have boulevard cafés. They're very popular. We all like on a summer's evening to go and sit outside at a café and watch the action around us.


I also had a lot of sympathy for the residents who had to deal with the noise, with patrons leaving the bar late at night, often drunk and unruly, certainly not in all the restaurants and bars, but there were a few that were problems. But even for the ones that did not have problem patrons, if you had a house literally right behind the bar on an abutting street, that could create really serious problems.

One of the compromises we came up with, for instance, was for the actual café itself to shut down a little earlier, before the 1 o'clock closing time. Those kinds of compromises were very important.

That is why I'm supporting this resolution. I don't know if my friends at city council will thank me for this if we support this bill today, because of course it places the problem squarely in their hands and they will have to deal with these same issues that I had to deal with around boulevard cafés and trying to mediate between and work with the residents and the businesses to reach reasonable solutions. But I do believe it is absolutely vital that the municipalities have this power.

I know that when I was the minister, I say to the member for Parkdale, on a couple of occasions I met with -- I don't know if you joined them at any time -- the local city councillor and people from that area who were very concerned. I don't know how big the problem continues to be in the west end, but in certain areas there were serious problems with bars, with drug dealing happening, and the residents were fed up. They were able to work with their city councillor, who came to petition me about this. They made it very clear at that time that they were not in favour of extending bar hours in their area. So their city councillor is very well aware of the problems that exist in that area.

It seems to make eminent sense to me that in areas where there have been problems and continue to be problems, the area councillor has the opportunity to work with the residents and the businesses and to work it out with city council on a very local level to determine what is best for their locality.

I understand that for the government it was a difficult problem. I had very mixed feelings about trying to determine the best thing to do with this issue. I know that had AMO and the police been satisfied that they could really control the situation, perhaps I might have moved in that direction, but certainly had I done so, I would have made it a municipal option for the reasons that I've stated.

I want to congratulate the member for Parkdale for bringing this before us today. I think it's eminently reasonable, and I expect over time, after bars have been open for a while until 2, the government will be hearing from people who would like to have the opportunity to deal with it on a municipal level, would like to have the opportunity to go down to their city council, to talk it over, to have deputations, to have hearings, and have the community itself decide whether it makes sense for them to go ahead with that option or not.

I believe we were the only province that still closed bars at 1 o'clock. I understand the pressures there and I understand the reasoning behind the Ontario Hotel and Motel Association wanting the extension. I believe they could live with the municipal option, because I'm sure in some cases the municipality would certainly go ahead and allow the extension.

So I do urge all members to support this bill today. I believe it is in the interests and the safety of our constituents to give the opportunity to municipalities to determine whether bars should be open until 2 in the morning.

Mr Jim Flaherty (Durham Centre): I rise today to speak to the honourable member for Parkdale's private member's Bill 51, An Act to amend the Municipal Act, which would allow municipalities to pass bylaws that would restrict the sale and service of beverage alcohol in licensed establishments to 1 am daily and 2 am on New Year's Eve. The member's bill raises important issues which I would like to address. We have a number of concerns with the bill that has been introduced.

As all members of the House are aware, on April 17 my colleague the Honourable Norm Sterling, the Minister of Consumer and Commercial Relations, announced a number of changes under the Liquor Licence Act and the Liquor Control Act, including a later end-service time or closing time. Ontario's bars and restaurants now have the option, since May 1, of selling and serving beverage alcohol until 2 am daily and 3 am on New Year's Eve. As I say, that is only since the first day of this month of May 1996. Previously, Ontario had the earliest closing times and the earliest end-service times in Canada and among the earliest in the bordering American states.

The decision to extend the hours of bars and restaurants was influenced in part by the results of consultations with key stakeholders. The ministry also took into consideration the experience of other jurisdictions with later hours, as well as special events in our province which allowed later end-service. We had experience with that from later closing times at these special events; for example, the World Series, the du Maurier Jazz Festival and the Toronto International Film Festival.

This review did not suggest that Ontario would experience any significant problems arising from a one-hour extension of end-service times. Extending the hours of sale and service of alcohol in licensed establishments represents a first step towards updating Ontario's liquor regulations to reflect today's attitudes and the fact that most Ontarians are responsible users of beverage alcohol. A later end-service time will be good for the tourism and convention industries and will allow our hospitality sector to better compete for business with neighbouring jurisdictions which, as I say, have closing times that are now similar to our own.

The honourable member for Parkdale's private member's bill would give the municipalities the power to limit end-service times. During the consultation process with key stakeholders, options were considered which would have allowed municipalities some flexibility in determining end-service times. These options were rejected because of the potential problems that could arise.

Private member's Bill 51 is inconsistent with current, recently amended, regulations under the Liquor Licence Act which allow for a later end-service time in licensed establishments across the entire province of Ontario. It is also inconsistent with the traditional role of the province in the regulation and control of the sale and service of alcohol. This is an important responsibility for the province. The sale and service of liquor is the subject matter of provincial legislation under the Liquor Licence Act and the Liquor Control Act. The province has traditionally occupied this field with respect to regulating the sale and service of liquor. The province should not, in my view, give up its jurisdiction over the regulation of the sale and service of alcohol in Ontario.

Since the regulations were amended May 1 of this year, one may ask what we have seen from practical experience, the pragmatic consequences of the regulation. What we have seen in the bordering areas, in the Ottawa area for example, is that more Ontario consumers of beverages are remaining on the Ontario side, spending their money on the Ontario side, rather than travelling across in that area to the Hull side.


More importantly, as we move into the summer season and into the cottage season in areas like the Ottawa Valley, where it has been common in the past for young people in particular, when the bars closed early in Ontario, to travel across distances of 10, 15 and 20 miles each way after having consumed beverages and returning to Ontario later, these excursions, because of the earlier drinking hours in Ontario, have resulted from time to time in carnage on the highways of Ontario in that area. These problems can and have been alleviated to some extent by the extension of the closing times in Ontario.

There are concerns with respect to municipal regulation relating to migration of drinkers across municipal boundaries, particularly in areas like the GTA where we have numerous municipalities and many city and town councils, each of which, if the honourable member's bill were to be passed, could be setting its own closing times, which would inevitably result in persons travelling on the highways from municipality to municipality, depending on whose drinking hours were later, from one closing time to the other.

In addition to the reality that this is an area of provincial jurisdiction, there is the local option that the Liquor Licence Board of Ontario takes into consideration when the concerns of residents are heard on licence applications and on licence renewals. We have a system in place now where local residents concerned about a particular establishment or a patio at a particular establishment have an option through the licensing process to make their views known and have a proper hearing on those views through that existing licensing process. In addition, the regulation is not mandatory; that is, if a restaurant or bar owner wishes to close early, that restaurant or bar owner certainly has the option to close early.

The member for Parkdale raised the issue of the disruption of lives of persons living near open patio bars. Again I say in response that the LLBO takes into account the concerns of local residents, including residents who live near outdoor patios, when it considers liquor licence applications and applications for renewal of liquor licences.

For all of these reasons, I cannot support this private member's bill.

Mr Mario Sergio (Yorkview): I'm very happy to speak on this private member's bill our colleague the member for Parkdale has introduced. I wish to correct at the outset that, contrary to what perhaps erroneously the member for Durham Centre has said, this bill has nothing to do with the hours pertaining to serving liquor, wine or whatever in the various places. It is strictly giving the local municipalities the possibility to decide for themselves which locations are best suited for those particular hours. It has got nothing to do with serving until what time and so forth. It is strictly giving the local municipality the possibility to decide what is best, which location is better suited, where this would not cause any problem for the abutting residential community.

Nothing angers residents more than the loss of privacy and enjoyment of their property. Contrary to some of the comments that this is restricted to bars along commercial strips and stuff like that, let me tell you that restaurants have a right to establish themselves in an industrial-commercial area. I'll give you an example in my own community. I have a huge industrial area which is next to residential communities. Those areas were established many years ago without any consideration for abatement of noise -- barriers, if you will, even a solid fence where at least the visual pollutants or complaints would be abated. There's nothing at all.

The presentation of Bill 51 comes from someone who has had municipal experience, the member for Parkdale. What he's saying, and it's very true, is that it is very difficult, unless the local municipality has the power to control situations like this, to eliminate the problem. I will give you an example. There have been restaurants next door, practically back to back with residential communities, and it's almost impossible to control what comes out at times from those establishments. If you complain, often enough the local municipality does not even have enough inspectors to go quickly and inspect those particular locations. Once they do, they may lay charges. Once they go back time and time again to establish if indeed there are problems associated with that particular establishment causing trouble for that particular neighbourhood, once charges are laid, it will take forever to take them to court. Once they go to court, you only need an appeal to the Ontario Municipal Board just in case the decision should not be favourable to the establishment, and then again the residents are at the mercy of the law. So I think it is quite appropriate to let the local municipality decide what area would be better suited for this kind of establishment.

The consequences are enormous. As I said before, nothing angers the local residents, who pay high taxes, more than when in summertime they cannot enjoy the outdoors, the backyard of their own homes. Wintertime is wintertime; in summertime people should be entitled to peace and quiet enjoyment of their property.

As I said, especially in my area we have a huge problem where years ago industrial areas were allowed to be built next to residential communities. Let alone that now residential areas are being annoyed to no end with respect to all kinds of noises, pollutants from industrial users, industrial factories which produce noises galore, which produce pollution to no end, either air or other chemical substances. In many cases, even garages are allowed to be located next to a residential community, and in the summer they work with the doors open facing the residential community. Know what? They even do spray painting outside. It's quite terrible.

Contrary to what the member for Riverdale was saying, that yes, indeed, the strip on Danforth is wonderful and we are dealing with bars in the open, we are dealing with bars located in an industrial area abutting a residential area.

This bill, which is well thought out, goes a long way to eliminating some of the most annoying problems that affect a residential community. I want to leave some time for other members of my caucus. I would also like to urge the members of the House, especially on the government side, to support the private member's bill introduced by the member for Parkdale.


Mr Tony Martin (Sault Ste Marie): I'm happy to rise and offer a few thoughts on this subject as well, but I have to say at the outset that I'm not sure where I stand on it. I'm not sure whether I support this bill or not, because I haven't had a chance to really get my fingers into it, get my head around it. I do suggest, though, in the interests of democracy, that it is really important that issues of this sort be raised and that they be debated in a public forum.

I don't know where this issue was addressed or talked about anywhere across this province. I heard the member for Durham Centre say there was public consultation with the major stakeholders. Who are those stakeholders? Who did they talk to? I don't know. I certainly wasn't invited into any meetings, and I know there was no discussion in my community about this.

The members for Parkdale and Riverdale raised some excellent questions out of their own experience and coming from their own constituencies. People are saying to them: "How does this affect me? How does this impact on our community? What's it going to do the moral fabric, the transportation issues, those kinds of things?" I really don't know.

I have to say, though, that this approach to doing government by this government doesn't at all surprise me, because it's typical of the way it operates. We wake up in the morning and listen to the radio and, bang, something new, something important that affects the constituents we all represent. Here it is, a new regulation, a new piece of legislation, and nobody's had a chance to talk to it, a chance to ask the very valuable questions that need to be asked, and it affects all of us. I don't think you guys understand that, that governing is a very sophisticated, complicated process and it takes a long time. You do yourselves and the people you serve a real injustice when you don't take the time to think these things out and to answer, as much as you can, the questions posed by very sincere and interested and concerned citizens about some of these things.

It's like when I woke up that day in July 1995 to hear that a lot of my friends and neighbours were going to be denied almost a quarter of the money they need to put food on the table for their children, to pay the rent, to participate in the life of the community -- no consultation with anybody I know of around how much, how high, and how this is going to impact. Did you know that taking 22% out of the pockets of the poorest in my community takes $2 million a month out of the economy of Sault Ste Marie, $2 million that is not being spent in the grocery stores and the malls of my community, with the impact that has on small business? That's an example of how something that seems to be in a silo over here all by itself, as a very direct issue you're trying to address, has far-reaching ramifications.

I suggest to you that this piece of work delivered by the Minister of Consumer and Commercial Relations which we're speaking to today because the member for Parkdale brought it forward is just such an example.

I remember when we were dealing with the issue of Sunday shopping and the consultation that happened around that. My God, we were all over the province, we were battered hither and thither, and eventually we came to a conclusion. I remember walking up and down the main street in my own community listening to business people who were split on the issue. But eventually, after some time doing that, we did find a solution.

I say to the member for Parkdale, congratulations. It's great that we're talking about this this morning. I don't know how I'm going to vote yet, though. I'm still listening.

Mr Derwyn Shea (High Park-Swansea): If there's any member of this House who can speak to wet/dry issues, I probably have the distinction of being able to speak out of both sides of my mouth. The fact is that High Park-Swansea still embraces one of the largest dry areas in Canada and it has been going through its own agony of decision-making about how it will engage in this issue of alcohol and licensed premises and so forth, and it's not an easy one to deal with.

As much as I share a concern reflected in the member for Parkdale's motion, I am puzzled by the motive. If the member chooses to help municipalities by way of this bill, of course his bill won't do it. And if he wants to help neighbourhoods, which I believe he does, his bill won't do it. If he really wanted to provide some assistance, he might be suggesting a way to bring about a wet/dry plebiscite once again. Perhaps Parkdale and other areas of this municipality -- certainly having listened to his comments from Ila Bossons, the medical officer of health in the city of Toronto and so forth would lead me to believe that perhaps they'd like to move towards shortening of hours. They might even like to engage in a public debate on the ability of going dry, except for certain areas.

If that's the case, I suspect the minister would welcome that information, would welcome that kind of advice from municipalities. Indeed I would encourage the member to perhaps pursue that direction. But I'm curious. When the member for Parkdale was in cabinet, no motion of this sort came forward in terms of dealing with 10 o'clock or 11 o'clock. Only when we suddenly went to 2 o'clock -- that is a one-hour extension -- did the alarm bells ring.

I may suggest that everyone who has responded to the question of the extension of one hour has generally been very much in favour of that extension. I want to make it clear: There was consultation. The minister, when he made his statement to the House -- and I would suggest we go back and read that and ask him for further elaboration -- made it very clear there had been consultations. We're aware, for example, of the response from the Addiction Research Foundation, which had made some comments about the extension. We're aware of the concerns expressed by the various stakeholders when we said, "Maybe we should leave it to local option" and what that would mean in terms of checkerboarding municipalities across this province, what it would mean to my colleague the member for Sault Ste Marie's municipality, which faces significant competition across the border, and that holds true for my colleagues from Ottawa and St Catharines and Niagara Falls and Windsor and elsewhere. They understand the importance, particularly when they speak passionately on behalf of their small businesses, what it means in terms of competition.

You find a way of trying to balance the importance of the hospitality industry, the importance of trying to provide some additional incentive for the tourism industry and all the jobs that creates, with the concern of balancing the rights of neighbourhoods. That's where I have some concerns in favour of the motion brought forward by the member for Parkdale, because he quite rightly points out that there are some specific bars and restaurants that are not well controlled by the owners, where there is bad behaviour after hours, indeed even during hours, when patrons will go out -- we've had all kinds of examples of them going out and urinating on lawns and a range of other kinds of wrong behaviour around those establishments that are not well run.

In that regard, I think we have a reason, as a House, to say to the minister that we need to bring forward new legislation that will give control to the Liquor Licence Board of Ontario, the ability to go back and revisit those licences and perhaps withdraw those licences from circulation.

It is important for us to note that right now, for the member to effect the kind of protection he'd like to effect for his neighbourhoods, it would require a complete change for the entire municipality. You couldn't come along and simply say to this one restaurant, "You will have to close at 1 o'clock" -- although I point out that there is that kind of control right now for patios. I'm surprised the members are not aware of that. In fact, municipalities can put on different hours of operation for the outdoor patio. Although that does not apply to the indoor operations, it does apply to the exterior, because there's real concern about how the outdoor patio, in terms of noise violation and so forth, may impact upon neighbourhood residential communities, and rightfully so.

It strikes me that we need to be moving in a direction of holding more and more accountable the men and women who hold licences for individual establishments and the way they conduct their business, to ensure that they are sensitive to the local neighbourhoods, to ensure that the local neighbourhoods have an opportunity to come back and hold accountable the operations of those establishments.

If this government, as former governments did, concurs that the holding of a liquor licence is a right, then I think we have also an equal right to hold them accountable on behalf of neighbourhoods for how they behave themselves, how they conduct their establishments and so forth.

For that reason, I find that this resolution put forward by the honourable member for Parkdale doesn't go nearly far enough in the area of individual controls on establishments by neighbourhoods that I would want to see put into place and that I would strongly support. I would welcome this member going back to city council perhaps and asking them if they'd care to make a resolution to bring forward to the government to allow the city of Toronto to close up operations at 1 o'clock, but I don't think it should come forward from a member of this House. I think that recommendation should come forward from the local councils if that is indeed their need.

More important, neighbourhoods have got to find legislation enabling them to have tighter control on local establishments that are not comporting themselves in the fashion they should, particularly those purely residential neighbourhoods that are being impacted negatively by operators of licensed establishments who are not giving due care and concern to the way they're operating. For that reason, I would welcome this member rethinking his bill and bringing forward one that has far more teeth in it to give greater effect to protection of neighbourhoods.


Mr John Gerretsen (Kingston and The Islands): I'm very pleased to join this debate on an issue and general topic I feel very strongly about. There's something that has to be said first of all; that is, what the private member's bill is really asking for is municipal autonomy with respect to one hour -- one hour only. We're talking about whether a municipality should have the right to extend it from 1 am to 2 am. That's all we're talking about here. The minister, by regulation, has already extended it to 2 am, and we're just talking about rolling it back one hour; that's all the municipal power or autonomy we're talking about.

First of all, I think we should differentiate between two kinds of establishments in terms of drinking areas, bars and restaurants etc. You have the establishments located in many of our downtowns, the tourist areas in many of our communities, which are usually not in residential areas. I think those kinds of establishments have to be totally differentiated from the kind of drinking establishments located in residential areas.

I think it's fair to say that the establishments located in the downtowns, in the tourist areas, in the non-residential areas of our communities, are basically no problem as it relates to people being able to sleep at night, because they're not in residential areas. The problem from a municipal viewpoint has always come about in those areas where these establishments are located in residential areas, where the residential community is upset by some of the behaviour that some of the patrons may be involved in, either during the hours of operation or immediately after the hours of operation. It's fair to say that the local municipality in those situations is probably the best to determine what is good for that community, after it's had complete consultation with the residents in that area. Certainly from my experience, and I'm sure the same thing applies to most of the other municipalities in this province, a municipality will not make a change in these areas without having full and open public consultation.

Which leads me to another issue, that I'm not sure what kind of consultation took place with the industry in this regard. I find it very interesting that some of the golf courses, according to the latest media reports, are now saying, "We really didn't want to have this extension of people being able to drink on the courses while they're playing a game." It's also interesting to note from the letters I've received from my own community, from people who operate some of these establishments, that these people did not want to have it extended from 1 am to 2 am at all; they were all located, in this particular case, in the tourist parts of the city of Kingston. I don't know who they consulted, but they certainly didn't consult the industry as a whole. It may have been just some representatives of that industry.

Dealing with a point the member from Swansea raised, the issuing and the holding of a liquor licence by an establishment is a privilege; it isn't a right. It's a privilege that once an establishment adheres to certain rules and regulations it's entitled to have the licence, but it's certainly not one that goes to them as of right.

It's very difficult to say, as the member for Oshawa said, "If an establishment wants to close, it can just close unilaterally." From a practical viewpoint, that happens in a situation where you may have one particular establishment with no others closely around. We all know, just from the pure notion of how competition works in any industry situation, that if you've got three or four bars closely located to one another and one of the owners unilaterally decided to close an hour early, in the long run that particular owner's business would be hurt quite substantially. From a practical viewpoint, when you talk to the operators of these bars, it simply wouldn't work. The only way they can be competitive is to be open for as long a period of time as their competitors immediately next door.

What this basically boils down to is the whole issue of local autonomy. We have heard from this government, and certainly from the Minister of Municipal Affairs and Housing, on numerous occasions since last September that he is a strong believer in local autonomy.


The Acting Speaker (Mr Gilles E. Morin): Please keep your tone down. Thank you.

Mr Gerretsen: Thank you very much, Mr Speaker. I appreciate your intervention in this regard because I'm sure the members opposite have an open mind on this issue and they have not decided which way to go on this particular motion until they've listened to all of the arguments, because that's what the people of Ontario expect. They expect, particularly during private members' hour, people to come here with an open mind to listen to the views on particular issues, issues that are of concern to us rather than of the government, so we can individually decide as to how we vote on one of these matters. I'm sure that you have an open mind about it and that you will listen carefully not only to myself but to other people as well who will be speaking on this.

This is an issue of local autonomy. It's an issue that goes right to the heart of local government. Who is in the best position to determine what is good for a particular neighbourhood? Who is in the best position to determine whether or not, in this particular case, a bar should or should not be open past 1 o'clock in the morning and how that will affect the residential neighbourhoods or the people who live in the area?

It's very interesting. In the letters I received from the industry, there was a widely held view that those people who frequent these premises -- and in my particular case there are a lot of university students and college students involved. They were of the opinion that instead of the students coming in at 10 o'clock and spending three hours there until 1 o'clock in the morning, what will probably happen is that they'll come in at 11 o'clock from now on and stay there until 2 in the morning, and that in the long run it really wasn't going to affect their business during most of the year all that much because the students would still drink the same amount of beer or fruit juice or whatever was their fancy at that time. And so a lot of the owners in my community felt they weren't going to be any better off than they are right now.

It's a question of local autonomy. Let's respect the wishes of the local councils. They are in the best position to hold meaningful public hearings.

Interjection: The local neighbourhoods, too.

Mr Gerretsen: Within the local neighbourhoods; that's correct. They are in the best position to hold meaningful public meetings so that they can get the input --


The Acting Speaker: There's too much noise. Please.

Mr Gerretsen: It's hard to believe, Mr Speaker, that on an issue like this which affects each and every one of your residential neighbourhoods, the members wouldn't listen more to what's being debated in this House. I certainly appreciate your intervention in that regard.

Mr Garry J. Guzzo (Ottawa-Rideau): We listened to everybody else.

Mr Gerretsen: We sure listened to everybody else.

Let me just sum up by simply saying, give the local municipalities that have been longing for local autonomy in so many different areas over the last 20 or 30 years the right and the power to determine whether or not, in local residential neighbourhoods, bars should be open beyond 1 o'clock in the morning. That's the issue and that's what I urge the support on with this particular private member's bill.

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

Mr Ruprecht: I want to address myself quickly to the member for Durham Centre, who said there was indeed some consultation. If that's true, then how does he respond to the letter from the chair of the Ontario Neighbourhoods for Responsible Alcohol Sales and Service committee? She writes to us that she was never consulted. Where was this consultation? I'm really somewhat surprised.

The next item, the real puzzle, is the member for High Park-Swansea, who either hasn't been listening or doesn't understand the issue. He said, "When Mr Ruprecht was in cabinet, why didn't he introduce legislation on this point?" We didn't extend the hours then. If we had, we would have done something to address this imbalance. Then he said, "This doesn't go far enough." He wants to go further. He wants to have more teeth, he says. Give him the teeth, for God's sake.

What was promised here on February 1 by the Minister of Consumer and Commercial Relations? He said he would redress this imbalance; he said he would do something about it. He was quoted in the newspaper as saying, "The residents deserve some sleep, and we should give municipalities the right to redress this issue of one hour." That's all we're asking: Give the local option the one hour.

Finally, have a look at this: In January 1996, the municipal option was included in the Liquor Licence Board of Ontario's hours of service survey. It was there, and the minister said, "Okay, you will have this option." Where is he today? I don't see him here. I don't see him answering that point. He made us a promise. In fact, he made all of us a promise, and not just the people who are represented today; he made all Ontarians a promise that he would redress this issue and he would do some common sense. Where, I ask you today, is the common sense? Where is it? Where is the balance of the books? There is no balance.

Today I ask of you: Do it right.


The Acting Speaker (Mr Gilles E. Morin): We will deal first with ballot item number 31, standing in the name of Mr Gilchrist. If any members are opposed to a vote on this ballot item, will they please rise.

Mr Gilchrist has moved second reading of Bill 53. 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.

Thank you. Take your seats.


The Acting Speaker (Mr Gilles E. Morin): We will now deal with ballot item number 32, standing in the name of Mr Ruprecht. If any members are opposed to a vote on this ballot item, will they please rise.

Mr Ruprecht has moved second reading of Bill 51. 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.

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

The division bells rang from 1203 to 1208.


The Acting Speaker (Mr Gilles E. Morin): Mr Gilchrist has moved second reading of Bill 53. All those in favour of the motion will please rise and remain standing until their names are called.


Arnott, Ted

Guzzo, Garry J.

Preston, Peter

Baird, John R.

Johnson, Bert

Rollins, E.J. Douglas

Barrett, Toby

Jordan, Leo

Ross, Lillian

Beaubien, Marcel

Kells, Morley

Shea, Derwyn

Brown, Jim

Klees, Frank

Sheehan, Frank

Carroll, Jack

Leadston, Gary L.

Skarica, Toni

Chudleigh, Ted

Marland, Margaret

Smith, Bruce

Clement, Tony

Martiniuk, Gerry

Stewart, R. Gary

Doyle, Ed

Maves, Bart

Tascona, Joseph N.

Flaherty, Jim

Murdoch, Bill

Tilson, David

Ford, Douglas B.

Newman, Dan

Wettlaufer, Wayne

Fox, Gary

O'Toole, John

Wood, Bob

Galt, Doug

Ouellette, Jerry J.

Young, Terence H.

Gilchrist, Steve

Parker, John L.


Grimmett, Bill

Pettit, Trevor


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


Bradley, James J.

Gerretsen, John

McGuinty, Dalton

Brown, Michael A.

Gravelle, Michael

Miclash, Frank

Castrilli, Annamarie

Johnson, Ron

Phillips, Gerry

Christopherson, David

Kormos, Peter

Ruprecht, Tony

Churley, Marilyn

Lankin, Frances

Sergio, Mario

Colle, Mike

Marchese, Rosario

Silipo, Tony

Duncan, Dwight

Martin, Tony


Senior Clerk Assistant and Clerk of Journals (Mr Alex D. McFedries): The ayes are 43, the nays are 20.

The Acting Speaker: I declare the motion carried.

Pursuant to standing order 96(k), the bill is referred to committee of the whole House.


The Acting Speaker (Mr Gilles E. Morin): Mr Ruprecht has moved second reading of Bill 51. All those in favour of the motion will please rise and remain standing until their names are called.


Bradley, James J.

Gerretsen, John

Martiniuk, Gerry

Brown, Jim

Gravelle, Michael

McGuinty, Dalton

Brown, Michael A.

Grimmett, Bill

Miclash, Frank

Castrilli, Annamarie

Klees, Frank

Murdoch, Bill

Christopherson, David

Kormos, Peter

Phillips, Gerry

Churley, Marilyn

Lankin, Frances

Ruprecht, Tony

Colle, Mike

Leadston, Gary L.

Sergio, Mario

Doyle, Ed

Marchese, Rosario

Silipo, Tony

Duncan, Dwight

Martin, Tony


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


Arnott, Ted

Johnson, Bert

Rollins, E.J. Douglas

Baird, John R.

Johnson, Ron

Ross, Lillian

Barrett, Toby

Jordan, Leo

Shea, Derwyn

Beaubien, Marcel

Kells, Morley

Sheehan, Frank

Carroll, Jack

Marland, Margaret

Skarica, Toni

Chudleigh, Ted

Maves, Bart

Smith, Bruce

Clement, Tony

Munro, Julia

Stewart, R. Gary

Flaherty, Jim

Newman, Dan

Tascona, Joseph N.

Ford, Douglas B.

O'Toole, John

Tilson, David

Fox, Gary

Ouellette, Jerry J.

Wettlaufer, Wayne

Galt, Doug

Parker, John L.

Wood, Bob

Gilchrist, Steve

Pettit, Trevor

Young, Terence H.

Guzzo, Garry J.

Preston, Peter


Senior Clerk Assistant and Clerk of Journals (Mr Alex D. McFedries): The ayes are 26, the nays are 38.

The Acting Speaker: I declare the motion lost.

Mr Steve Gilchrist (Scarborough East): Mr Speaker, on a point of order: I wonder if I might ask the unanimous consent of the House to refer Bill 53 to the standing committee on general government.

The Acting Speaker: Agreed? Agreed.

All matters relating to private members' business having been completed, I will now leave the chair and the House will resume at 1:30 of the clock.

The House recessed from 1217 to 1330.



Mr Michael Gravelle (Port Arthur): That roar you're hearing from Kakabeka Falls, known everywhere as the Niagara of the North, is the rally cry of consumers angry at this government's new user fee policies. Under a proposal put forward by the newly created Ontario Parks, a parking fee will now be applied to Kakabeka Falls in my riding starting this Saturday, June 1.

This is another attack on the north by the same government that earlier this year tried to slap a boaters' fee on American tourists on Lake Superior, a fee that would not have been applied anywhere else in the province. This new user fee on the falls will do nothing but discourage people from visiting this natural wonder, in many cases because they now simply won't be able to afford it.

All members of this House should know that 90,000 vehicles, carrying hundreds of thousands of tourists, visited the falls last year. Now, instead of encouraging the positive aspects of this remarkable northwestern Ontario tourist attraction, this government plans to nickel and dime tourists away.

As per this government's usual company policy, nobody bothered to ask the people of Kakabeka Falls what they thought of this plan. They didn't ask restaurateurs, retailers or gas station operators what effect this user fee will have on the 200 employees of this community who rely on that traffic every year. They didn't ask the people of Thunder Bay, who frequently enjoy the splendour of the falls on a weekend outing.

This is a bad decision that will hurt the economy and cause job losses. It is a decision that should be reversed.


Mr Tony Silipo (Dovercourt): It is with pride that I stand today to mark the anniversary on June 2, this coming Sunday, of the 50th anniversary of the Italian republic. In the 50 years since Italy has moved from a constitutional monarchy to a republic following the Second World War, the country has also grown into one of the most advanced in the world in a number of ways.

Particularly what I want to pay tribute to today is the spirit of the people of Italian background who have overcome first of all in the fight against fascism and then in the fight against poverty which saw the exodus, from southern Italy particularly, of thousands and thousands of people of Italian background to many parts of the world and certainly to Canada and Ontario.

We know the great contribution Italian Canadians have made to life in this province and in this country. Certainly they have helped to build and are now participating fully in the political, social and economic life of this country.

On Sunday, it will be with great pride that I will be celebrating that spirit of pride in our roots and fierceness in our Canadian belonging in events organized in my own riding of Dovercourt by the Corso Italia Business Association on St Clair Avenue and in Earlscourt Park. It is very much that spirit of overcoming all odds, that spirit of family and commitment to family and community that very much marks Canadians of Italian origin throughout Canada, that we will also be celebrating together.


Mr Bill Murdoch (Grey-Owen Sound): I rise today to offer congratulations to the OSCVI, which is celebrating 140 years of educating the young people of Grey county. In 1856, the Owen Sound high school opened its doors and has been busy ever since preparing teenagers for the challenges of the outside world.

To mark the occasion, OSCVI held a special reunion weekend which drew past graduates from as far away as New Zealand, California, Arizona, Vancouver and Taiwan. Close to 10,000 people were in Owen Sound to show their school spirit, meet with old friends and find out which path their lives took after graduation. Festivities included an open house, a picnic, decade parties, an assembly and a parade downtown. To show that some things never change, a dance was held for young and old graduates.

Part of the high school reunion was another reunion. The Tombstones, which I had the pleasure of managing, got together to pump out a set of classic blues. The seven-man band first banged out rock and roll on the OSCVI stage during a school assembly in 1965 and quickly gained a local following playing many high school dances. The band's last performance was OSCVI's 125th anniversary 15 years ago, but they were ready to go again when asked to perform. The band used to drive an old hearse to each performance. The band found it in the town of Ingersoll, which was courteous enough to lend it to us for the weekend. Seeing eight aging rockers with a hearse on a flatbed truck was a big hit at the parade.

OSCVI could not have asked for a better 140th birthday weekend. As a former --

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


Mr Mario Sergio (Yorkview): I recently met with a group of students from Emery Collegiate in my district of Yorkview and discussed several cuts to adult education programs in the province.

Students all across the province are deeply concerned with the government's plan to dismantle existing adult education programs in Ontario. The students' main concern centres on the fact that these supposed cost-saving measures will end up costing taxpayers more money in the long run. By cutting the existing programs, adult students will remain in the system that much longer, and the longer the students remain in the system, the more costly it will be to educate them, especially single mothers on social assistance.

The students are not asking for much. The program offers them the chance to complete their high school education and in many instances upgrade essential skills such as literacy and computer skills, real skills which could lead to a real job.

The Premier once stated that he wanted to give social assistance recipients a hand up, not a handout. I can't think of a better example of a hand up than adult education programs, nor can I think of a better example of a broken promise than the plans to eliminate adult education programs in the province of Ontario.


Mr Tony Martin (Sault Ste Marie): Sault Ste Marie is doing it again. This week we are playing host to another national-calibre competition. We are rolling out the red carpet for the national gymnastics championships in our community. Literally hundreds of volunteers have spent hours and hours over the last weeks and months preparing for this wonderful event.

I had the pleasure of participating in the official opening ceremonies with our new mayor, Steve Butland, this past Monday at city hall as we welcomed these people who will be giving their best throughout this week at the Memorial Gardens in my community, in our city.

But you know, this is old hat for us now in the Sault. We've done it before. Our reputation precedes us. We are talked of by those who put these events on as knowing what we're doing, as being one of the best. This is the third competition of a national calibre that we've hosted over the last 10 years. We hosted the Briar, which is the national curling championships, and we hosted the Memorial Cup, the national championship for junior hockey.

In Sault Ste Marie we pride ourselves in being naturally gifted. It was only natural, then, that we would have presiding over these games one of our own who has made a name for herself: Roberta Bondar. She was there on Monday. We were all there Monday welcoming these folks, and we're going to show them a good time.


Mr Ed Doyle (Wentworth East): It is with great pleasure that I rise to speak about the commemoration of an historic event that took place in my riding of Wentworth East some 183 years ago.

This weekend, the residents of Stoney Creek will be hosting the 28th year of their annual Canada Flag Day Festival. This festival, which was the first ever to be held by a municipality in Canada, celebrates our flag and our country.

Every year since its creation, the flag day festival has taken place on the weekend close to June 6. The people of my community selected this date in order to remember the June 6, 1813, battle of Stoney Creek in which our soldiers, both British and native, fell protecting our territory from invasion by the American forces during the War of 1812. It was this pivotal battle that led to the victory in the War of 1812 and in turn was a contributing factor in the eventual establishment of this great country, Canada.

The days will be filled with parades, re-enactments of the historic battle and good food and fellowship as well. This weekend I invite you all to Stoney Creek to participate in this slice of our history.



Mr Frank Miclash (Kenora): Central Public School in the town of Sioux Lookout will be watching this year's Atlanta Olympics with great interest. Through the adopt-an-athlete challenge sponsored by the Canadian Olympic Association and funded by Stentor Alliance, Central Public School has adopted its own Canadian Olympic athlete. The challenge was designed by the Canadian Olympic committee to encourage Canadian students to follow, support and learn about a Canadian Olympic athlete.

I am told that Central Public School's athlete is Erin Woodley, a synchronized swimmer from Calgary. Ms Woodley is already a Commonwealth Games gold medalist in the duet category. Sioux Lookout students are very excited about the program and were delighted to welcome Ms Woodley to their school last Monday. Ms Woodley spoke to two morning assemblies at the school and spent the afternoon with the grades 4 and 6 classes.

Only 160 schools from across the country were accepted into the adopt-an-athlete program, and I am delighted that Sioux Lookout's Central Public School was one of those accepted. I know students in Sioux Lookout will be watching the progress of their adopted Olympic athlete in Atlanta with great excitement, and we wish her all the very best wishes as she competes on behalf of Canada.


Mr Peter Kormos (Welland-Thorold): All of Ontario was or certainly ought to have been shocked by the brutal assassination last week of three young people on the streets of Toronto. Any untimely death, and especially those that are caused by the viciousness and malevolence of the perpetrator of these murders, has to be condemned in the strongest terms.

One is drawn, though, to a closer and more intense observation of the growing numbers of young people who are becoming marginalized. We witness the phenomenon of young people as squatters, the phenomenon of young people as so-called street people. One hopes the tragedy of the murder of these three youngsters last week isn't diminished by the fact that they were drawn into or compelled for whatever reason to participate in prostitution, or the sex trade, as it's called, or that they had sexualities or gender biases that were different from some people.

It does require us, however, to focus on a phenomenon that's occurring in increasing numbers, and I believe this Legislature is obligated to address the issue of the marginalization of young people, to address the issue of the dangers that young people are facing on our streets, whether they're engaging in the so-called sex trade or not, and to respond appropriately to ensure that this society indeed meets their needs as well.


Mr David Tilson (Dufferin-Peel): I rise today to speak about amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, also known as ALS or Lou Gehrig's disease. Imagine not being able to walk, write, smile, talk, eat and sometimes even breathe on your own, and yet your mind and senses remain unaffected. This is what having ALS is like for over 3,000 Canadians who suffer from this disease.

It can strike anyone and results in complete paralysis and death, generally within two to three years of diagnosis. Two to three Canadians die every day from ALS. Several years ago my father succumbed to this disease. I therefore personally know the pain victims and their families go through as they deal with ALS.

Although promising research studies are being conducted, there is still no known cure.

Across Ontario, and in fact Canada, June is ALS Awareness Month. Throughout the month, volunteers will be canvassing in malls and public areas to raise funds to fight this devastating disease. All funds raised will be spent on ALS scientific research.

In my community, the Optimist Club of Orangeville and the Knights of Columbus, along with other community volunteers, will be selling cornflowers and hosting a barbecue at the Orangeville Mall. One person in my community, Lynn Frenette, has been working for many years locally to raise awareness of ALS. I would like to congratulate her on her efforts. I encourage all Ontarians to make generous donations to the ALS Society.


The Speaker (Hon Allan K. McLean): I'd like to inform the Legislative Assembly that we have in the Speaker's gallery today Ms Pam Jefcoat, Ms Tanya Garcia, Mr Greg Gowe, Mr Kevin Moorhead and Mr Tom Syer, legislative interns from the province of British Columbia. Welcome to our guests.


The Speaker (Hon Allan K. McLean): Members will be aware that there appear on today's Orders and Notices paper two notices of an opposition day to be debated next week.

Under standing order 42(d), the Speaker is required to select one of these notices for consideration, taking into account the order in which they were received.

I would like to advise the members that the motion by Mrs McLeod will be the one that will be selected for debate next week.



Hon Al Leach (Minister of Municipal Affairs and Housing): Over the past 12 months we have worked hard to lower the cost of government in Ontario. We have done this to open Ontario for opportunity and to lower the cost of government for the taxpayer. We've put a lot of energy into looking at what governments do and how they do it. Now it's time to look at who does what.

The fact is that there are too many areas of government policy where the responsibility for quality and cost consciousness is divided between officials at two or more levels of government.

Take, for example, Ontario's road system. Three levels have responsibility for roads. In the winter it's not unusual to see three plows going down the same road -- a provincial plow, a county plow and a local plow -- and only one is actually plowing. The other two have their blades up as they travel to the roads they are responsible for. The result is waste.

The time has come to sort out our respective roles and that's why I am formally announcing the Who Does What initiative. I have appointed a panel to advise us on the best way to do it and then help us do it.

The chair of this panel will be Mr David Crombie, former mayor of Toronto, federal cabinet minister and current chair of the waterfront regeneration trust. The other members will be William Bell, Gordon Chong, Morley Daiter, Grant Hopcroft, Gisèle Lalonde, Steve Lowden, Hazel McCallion, Tom McCormack, Peter Meyboom, Marian Millman and Enid Slack.

The goal will be nothing less than a fundamental change in the way the province and local government work together. The goal is smaller, more efficient, more effective and more affordable governments at all levels. The panel's job will be to eliminate duplication and over-regulation and to divide responsibilities in a way that makes sense.

This will be an action-oriented panel, and as it makes recommendations we'll look at them right away, make decisions promptly and implement as we go. With the next municipal elections only a year and a half away, we'll try to get as much as possible done before January 1, 1998, as the new councils begin their mandate.

We also plan to act quickly on Ontario's assessment system. We've been told over and over again that the current system isn't working properly. The panel's first priority will be to look at the GTA task force recommendations on tax assessment and recommend the best way to establish a common, province-wide system. This is important because Ontario has a confusing and inadequate patchwork system.

Taxpayers cannot understand why they pay property taxes the way they do. Assessments in many places are far out of date. The result is appeals that erode the tax base. This undermines the ability of school boards and municipalities to deliver much-needed services. Fixing it will be a step forward towards better, more efficient local government and better, more efficient local administration.

What I'm talking about today is a historic change. Everything is on the table. We're going to look at how welfare should be delivered and paid for, whether the property tax is the right way to fund education. We'll look at every area in which we share the responsibility with local governments. The stakes are extremely high.


Together, the municipalities and the province spend about $7.5 billion on general welfare assistance, family benefits assistance, children's aid societies and child care. Together, we spend about $2.5 billion on policing, on fire services and more than $2 billion on local roads and transit.

In the Common Sense Revolution we promised taxpayers that we would restructure the cumbersome bureaucracies that deliver these services. Resolving the issue of efficient local government will take a great deal of hard work, but it must happen. It's time to stop government growth once and for all.


Hon Ernie L. Eves (Deputy Premier, Minister of Finance and Government House Leader): I am pleased to announce that Ontario savings bonds will be available again this year in banks, Province of Ontario Savings Offices and other financial institutions across the province from June 1 to June 17.

Ontario savings bonds are an excellent investment. They provide a secure, flexible and competitive savings vehicle for every Ontario resident. Their rates are competitive with other term investments and are fully backed by the province.

We have introduced new features to this year's bonds that will make them more appealing to Ontario investors.

We are now offering a step-up bond where the rate climbs every year, giving your money a chance to grow with a higher interest rate through to the end of the fifth year when the bond matures. The step-up bond rate for year 1 is 4 1/2%; for year 2, 5 3/4%; year 3, 6 1/4%; year 4, 7 1/4%; and finally, for year 5, the rate will be 9%. It is easy to see that the step-up bond is a great investment.

Ontarians can also purchase a variable-rate bond. This option offers a more competitive rate which is reset every six months. This is a perfect investment for someone who wishes to take advantage of fluctuations in interest rates. For the first six-month period, the rate will be 4 3/4%.

Both bonds are easily redeemable every six months, giving Ontarians an attractive choice for investment.

In keeping with this government's approach to streamlining, while continuing to provide the services that Ontarians have come to depend on, I am pleased to announce that we have streamlined the administrative process for issuing the bonds. This initiative lets us place greater emphasis on delivering a bond issue that is an incentive for people to make an investment while, at the same time, is very cost-effective from an administrative point of view. The administrative cost of the bond program will reduce by over 40% this year, showing a saving of $1.35 million over administrative costs last year.

In the budget earlier this month, I told Ontarians that this government would invest in the programs that are a priority for everyone. We would reduce costs and spend taxpayers' money more wisely. By doing this, we would help build a better future for ourselves and our children. Ontario savings bonds are one way to help Ontarians build their future. Buying Ontario savings bonds will help the province reduce its dependence on foreign lenders while at the same time ensuring that more of the government's interest payments go to Ontarians.

In our budget we also announced tax cuts that will allow people to spend and save more in their province. The bonds are another option for people to invest in the future of Ontario.

I am confident that Ontarians will take an active interest in Ontario savings bonds this year. Bonds are a sound investment for Ontarians in their province's future. If we all invest in the place we call home, we'll all prosper in the long run.

Mr Gerry Phillips (Scarborough-Agincourt): I'm pleased to briefly respond to the savings bonds. I think the people of Ontario can see what this is all about. The government is going to run deficits over the next four years totalling about $22 billion. They have to borrow that money.

A substantial part of that deficit is the result of the tax cut. Here's how it works. We increase the debt by $22 billion; $13 billion of that is for the tax cut. We give people a tax cut. They invest in the bonds. The government pays 9% interest: 9% interest to fund the tax cuts. What we find is, it's a game. Rather than dealing with the real financial issue, the government has chosen to go and borrow, at 9%, money to pay for the tax cut. The people of Ontario can see where their tax dollars are going. It's to pay the interest on these bonds to fund the tax cut rather than deal with the real financial issues of this province.


Mr Mike Colle (Oakwood): Under the Ministry of Municipal Affairs, obviously the minister is creating a new growth industry. The new growth industry is commissions. We had the Trimmer commission, we had Golden, we had Burnham; now we've got Crombie. The minister is paid to make decisions. Obviously, he wants to defer and dither. He wants to take the heat off himself and he's set up another commission to basically do what he's paid for.

Obviously, what he's saying too is that Golden is dead, that her recommendations about governance and change are dead, her recommendations about GTA pooling are dead. All the good things in Golden are now going to go on that shelf along with the Fair Tax Commission report, along with the Robarts commission report -- more money wasted instead of the minister making some decisions.

I know there's been quite an internal struggle within the caucus on what to do. You've obviously decided to defer making the decision and are setting up another expensive commission to do your work. The problem is that these commissions cannot do what has to be done, because you have to make the decision, Mr Minister, and all you're doing is deferring and dithering, and meanwhile we're getting a bigger and bigger hole here in Metro as assessment gets eroded because all you do is talk and set up commissions.

Mr John Gerretsen (Kingston and The Islands): As the minister quite well knows, his ministry is involved right now in 35 restructuring proposals affecting almost 200 municipalities clear across the province. I would like the minister to tell us how he expects those municipalities to deal with these matters when as a result of this new task force that you've set up, which is about the 10th one in the last 20 years, they will not know whether or not they're going to be involved in education tax collection, whether or not they are going to be involved in social services or any of the other services, many of which are shared with the province right now.

How can you put it to the municipalities, as you're doing for example in the Kingston-Napanee area, "You've got to come up with a proposal by June 15 of this year" -- you gave them about six weeks to do it -- when in effect you're not telling them what kind of services they're going to have to deliver in the future?

I think, Mr Minister, you are creating a crisis as far as municipalities are concerned. You're creating the same kind of crisis that you've caused among the public housing tenants of this province, who do not know whether they're going to have the same landlord next year, who do not know whether or not they're going to be subject to major rent increases. You're doing exactly the same thing with the municipalities.

As you stated in Napanee a couple of weeks ago, we all noted in these restructuring proposals there are winners and losers, and there isn't a municipal councillor anywhere in this province who wants to be involved with what you termed a loser municipality, where in effect those municipal taxpayers are going to be paying more after the restructuring proposal than they are right now.

Minister, you are creating a crisis. You are setting up another commission that basically will come to the same conclusion as all the other commissions before, going right back to the days of Darcy McKeough, who I believe resigned over this matter because he couldn't get agreement within the Tory caucus then as to how these matters should be dealt with.

Mr Minister, why don't you do the thing that you said you were going to do? You were going to restructure all these matters prior to the next municipal election. All you've done by this is delay the matter by another three years. You are creating a crisis. Stop doing that to the municipalities and to the tenants of this province.

Mr Gilles Bisson (Cochrane South): I wish the minister well in his attempts to deal with what generally is known as disentanglement. As the minister well understands, this is a very complex process they're entering into. You're talking about how to pay for services such as transit services, social services, children's aid services and day care, which are jointly funded programs between the province and the municipalities. As a member under the New Democratic government of Bob Rae, having gone through that process, I can tell you it is laid with a lot of problems, but we wish you well and we wish to work with you to make sure that this process indeed is a consultative process, which means to say that there's real dialogue at the municipal level and at the AMO level.


I wonder why you would set up a process that seems to be provincially driven. I don't see anywhere in your statement your involvement of municipalities through the Association of Municipalities of Ontario. I would think that as the major stakeholders, the people who are going to have to deal with it, AMO and the municipalities would be involved through their association to make sure these are true negotiations and, at the same time, that you put some guarantees going into this that it doesn't mean a total reduction or elimination of services and, more importantly, that it doesn't mean that people will end up paying more user fees and people will end up paying higher taxes as a result of your initiative.

I'm prepared to work with you as New Democratic critic, along with the rest of my party, to make sure that we go through this process and we do it well. But I wonder when a government does it in the way that you have done, by appointing what I would consider a blue-ribbon panel which is not ideologically very much away from where you people are coming from, how you would be able to deal with all of that stuff.

I say, why are you doing this? You're doing it because you have to find a way to pay for your tax cut, and I just say to you, Minister, be very careful as you go through this. We need some guarantees that it doesn't result in more user fees or higher taxes and that services are preserved in the end.

Mr Bud Wildman (Algoma): As the minister who made the announcement will know, this could have significant ramifications for the education sector in this province as well. I would hope that in setting this commission up there is proper representation for those in the education field to ensure that whatever decisions or recommendations are made, we will not see a situation where we see a downloading from the province to the school boards in Ontario and that we, at the same time, don't see an attempt to shift property tax revenues to the provincial government rather than ensuring they only are used for services at the local level. Also, I commend the minister if what he's looking at is ensuring that property taxes are eventually only used to fund things like hard services that benefit ratepayers, rather than soft services such as education and social services.

This is a very complex matter. I know that other governments have attempted this. The minister feels confident that he's going to be able to have this in place by the next municipal election time. If he's able to do that, we wish him well. But it is going to be very difficult if we're genuine in ensuring that this is at least cost-neutral to the local ratepayers.


Ms Frances Lankin (Beaches-Woodbine): I wanted to respond to the Minister of Finance's statement with respect to the announcement today on the Ontario savings bonds. I listened very carefully. I was waiting with bated breath almost for that moment of magnanimous gesture on the part of the government where they gave credit to the previous government. I didn't hear it. Surprise, surprise.

Day after day we hear the government stand up and point fingers across the floor and blame the ills of the world, in every part of the free world -- anything bad that's going was as a result of this government. Yet when they continue with well-founded, rational, sane, important programs that were initiated by the previous government, we hear no mention or credit given.

Let me just say I will be equally magnanimous to the minister opposite. Let me say congratulations to you on an incredible announcement today, on a wonderful announcement today. It is very good idea. I'm just glad we thought of it.



Mrs Lyn McLeod (Leader of the Opposition): My question is for the Solicitor General, and it concerns the issues surrounding the meeting of September 5 of senior government officials to discuss the situation at Ipperwash.

Yesterday the Premier told this House that the government was not informed of the OPP buildup at Ipperwash. In fact, I quote directly from Hansard the Premier saying, "We knew nothing of any buildup."

I ask you today: Why did the OPP choose not to inform the government at that meeting of the police buildup at Ipperwash?

Hon Bob Runciman (Solicitor General and Minister of Correctional Services): I've indicated, and the Premier's indicated, that in past instances, in dealing with different issues, this government, this ministry, the Premier's office and, I assume, former governments did in no way, shape or form involve themselves in day-to-day police operations in this province. That has continued to be the case throughout the tenure of our government and I trust it will continue to be the case as the years roll on with governments of a variety of political stripes.

I was told on a daily basis that the OPP continued to monitor the Ipperwash situation, but I did not involve myself in asking about manpower levels or tactics or those kinds of issues because they fall strictly within the purview of the police themselves.

Mrs McLeod: Let me understand this. According to an OPP regional superintendent, there was a decision made to confront and that was made shortly after the occupation of the park. We know the OPP was then bringing in sharpshooters and other tactical forces to Ipperwash on September 5. That is exactly the same day as a meeting of government officials, representatives of the various ministries that would be concerned about the situation at Ipperwash, to provide a briefing to government on the Ipperwash situation, and yet it appears that the OPP chose not to mention the buildup of force at that meeting; a meeting held to brief the government, and following that meeting apparently, according to the Premier, the government knew nothing of the buildup. Again, why did the OPP choose not to inform the government of the buildup at Ipperwash?

Hon Mr Runciman: If I as the Solicitor General -- or any Solicitor General or the Premier of the province -- at any time involved myself in the details of operational matters of the police or investigations being conducted by the police, the honourable member would be the first on her feet to object, and rightly so. There is that clear separation between the police and government officials. That's an appropriate distance and it should be maintained.

The Premier has simply indicated that at no time did we in any way, shape or form -- certainly that's my understanding and any report that's been made to me with respect to meetings that were conducted when I was not present -- never at any time were details with respect to manpower or tactics of the police ever discussed, and in my view that is quite appropriate.

Mrs McLeod: I really find the minister's answer defies all credibility. We have the Premier saying that they were concerned about the situation at Ipperwash and turned it over to the OPP to handle. That doesn't absolve the government of any responsibility for being aware of how the OPP are going to deal with a very tense situation. We have a situation which is building. We have a decision to confront. We have a climate of confrontation building. This is not, as the minister seems to suggest, an incident in the day-to-day activity of the Ontario Provincial Police. This is surely not an incident the government wants to be unaware of.

It's difficult for me to believe that when there is a meeting of senior government officials held the very day that buildup is taking place, a meeting held to brief government officials as to what was happening in Ipperwash, the OPP would choose not to inform the government of the nature of the buildup of OPP force at Ipperwash. That really does defy credibility. Again, how could it possibly happen that in the course of the briefing that was being given to government officials about the situation at Ipperwash, the OPP chose not to inform the government that there was a buildup of arms and personnel at Ipperwash?

Hon Mr Runciman: The honourable leader talks about, as a clear fact, there being a decision taken to confront. To my understanding, that has never been indicated. Superintendent Coles, to whom that quote was attributed in one of the media outlets, denied the following day that he had said that. To assume that is indeed the case I think is improper and inaccurate.

When we talk about the incidents surrounding the regrettable shooting that occurred, those matters will come out in the fullness of time with respect to the SIU investigation and any charges that may or may not result as that investigation concludes.

All I can indicate to the honourable member, whether she wants to accept it or not, is that the government felt throughout this exercise -- and certainly my ministry and the representative who advises on native affairs, at the time Inspector Fox, now Superintendent Fox, always reinforced the message throughout this difficult time that the OPP were, in terms of operational matters, operating outside of any political direction or influence. I have always reinforced that message in my role as Solicitor General, and I do not believe that in any way, shape or form was that advice ignored or breached.


The Speaker (Hon Allan K. McLean): New question, the member for Scarborough-Agincourt.

Mr Gerry Phillips (Scarborough-Agincourt): I want to continue with the same minister. The Premier yesterday, talking about the meeting on September 5, which was the key meeting, said, "The purpose of the meeting...was to give a briefing to those ministers who would have been involved, including the Premier's office, of the situation as we understood that it existed at Ipperwash Provincial Park." In other words, the ministers' staff were being briefed on behalf of the ministers about the situation at Ipperwash park.

At the very time the meeting was taking place, the OPP were gathering from around southwestern Ontario significant numbers of officers and armaments to staff and to arm themselves at the camp. Is the Solicitor General saying that at that meeting, designed to bring the government up to date on the status of Ipperwash park, the OPP at no time during that meeting informed the ministers' representatives that there was this buildup taking place at Ipperwash park?

Hon Mr Runciman: That is correct; that did not occur.

Mr Phillips: To confirm then, you are saying the OPP, for whatever reason, decided to not inform the ministers' representatives -- in other words, the ministers -- of the status of what was taking place. At that moment at Ipperwash park the OPP -- and this was the purpose of the meeting -- were assembling significant increases in staffing and armaments. Is the minister saying that the OPP, for whatever reason, deliberately chose to not inform the ministers of what was taking place at that time at Ipperwash?

Hon Mr Runciman: The objective of the meeting, as the Premier explained yesterday, was to inform all of the various players who were impacted by this occupation as to what was occurring, what had transpired up to that point in time and what options might be available with respect to encouraging discussions to take place that could resolve the situation in a peaceful manner. I was reassured yesterday by a staff member from my office that it was clearly stated at the outset of the meeting that the tradition and the practice with respect to policing matters is that the political arm simply does not get involved with the details or providing direction with respect to how these kinds of operations should transpire. We are not the experts in this area; we leave that to the experts.

Mr Phillips: I don't think there can be anything quite as important as this particular issue. It is clear the meeting was held to bring the government up to date on what was happening at Ipperwash. Absolutely nothing could be more important than for the OPP -- and it was the OPP in charge -- to bring the government up to date, I gather, on what was happening at Ipperwash. At that very moment, there was a substantial buildup occurring around southwestern Ontario in staffing, in armaments, in deployment at Ipperwash.

The question then, Minister, is this. You now have told us that the OPP did not inform the government at that meeting of what was transpiring. You surely by this time have asked the OPP for an explanation on why you were not informed of what was taking place at that time. What has been OPP's response when you asked them why they did not inform the government of what was happening at Ipperwash?

Hon Mr Runciman: The intent of the meeting was -- this was the day following the occupation, and the Minister of Natural Resources and others involved were informing the various ministries and officials from those ministries what had transpired and what the days ahead might hold and what options might be available to achieve a peaceful resolution to this matter.

Certainly the OPP throughout this matter did apprise us of concerns with respect to incidents that may have been occurring or were rumoured to have been occurring in the area within the park environs. I recall on one occasion being advised of the fact that there had been reports of heavy weapon fire within the Ipperwash area one evening. Those kinds of reports certainly were provided to the government on a regular basis. But in terms of getting into the details of how the OPP, the police, were responding to this situation, we did not do that because we felt it was certainly inappropriate, and I'm sure the OPP would have very quickly advised us that it was inappropriate to do so.

In respect to the aftermath of the shooting, again, there is, as you know, an investigation under way; there's a civil suit under way; there are criminal charges now before the courts. So, once again, it is clearly inappropriate for me or any member of this government to be pursuing this matter with the police.

The Speaker: New question, leader of the third party.

Mr Bud Wildman (Algoma): My question is to the Solicitor General. The minister is telling us that at the meeting the OPP did not discuss or did not report or inform the other people in the meeting about the buildup or their plans. Considering that this was such a significant change from the approach the OPP had taken in similar situations previously, is the minister implying that the decision for the buildup and, as a matter of fact, the decision to contact the military, who, according to Lieutenant Colonel Michael Sweeney of Canadian Forces headquarters, were contacted by the OPP on September 5 to ask for military assistance -- are you saying that occurred after the meeting? Is the minister implying that the decision for the buildup by the OPP at Ipperwash and the contact to the military to request assistance occurred after the meeting?

Hon Mr Runciman: The member is trying to tie in the request for two armoured personnel carriers with what he is classifying as a different approach to these kinds of situations by the OPP. As I recall from reviewing the letter that I sent to the federal Solicitor General yesterday, that was sent the day following the shooting incident at Ipperwash and it was in response to concerns that, as a result of the shooting incident, obviously there was a concern that tensions would be rising and the OPP felt it was appropriate to be prepared for a possible increase in the difficulty at Ipperwash. These were, I should point out, unarmed personnel carriers, and I felt and continue to feel that that was an appropriate request, that if indeed the situation did escalate, they were prepared to deal with it in an effective manner.


Mr Wildman: Can the Solicitor General make clear to us when these decisions were made and when he was informed? The Lieutenant Colonel from the Canadian armed forces has said that "Headquarters, Canadian armed forces, was contacted by the OPP on September 5." It is true the minister signed the letter on September 7, but as a matter of fact Captain Doug Smith was dispatched by the military to Ipperwash to assist the police as a result of the contact on September 5.

I want to know from the Solicitor General, keeping in mind what the Premier said yesterday, that "This was a political situation. It was important that our office know what was happening," was the decision by the OPP to bring in 250 officers to have that kind of buildup and even to contemplate military involvement or advice taken after the meeting? If it was taken prior to the meeting, why wasn't the minister informed? If it was taken after the meeting, what prompted the decision?

Hon Mr Runciman: I can't confirm or deny the earlier dates that the member is talking about with respect to contact with the military. I only know that this request was brought to my attention on the day I signed the letter and the day the letter was dated, and this was following the shooting incident at Ipperwash and it was because of grave concern on the part of OPP in the field who felt, given the gravity of the occurrence, that conditions could worsen and that the situation could escalate.

I think it was also part of concern about what was happening on the national front as well, in British Columbia, and some of the rhetoric that was being heard at that time, which was considered to possibly inflame the situation. There were very legitimate concerns on the part of the OPP that they be prepared for any eventuality. When that request came before me, I felt it was an appropriate one and I signed it.

Mr Wildman: The minister appears to want this assembly to believe that he did not become aware of the OPP buildup and the request for personnel carriers, assistance from the military until September 7, the day after the incident, and yet the military officer has indicated that they were contacted on September 5, the day before the incident. The Solicitor General wants us to believe that if the decisions were being taken on September 5, the OPP did not inform him or his deputy minister.

When did the OPP inform the Deputy Solicitor General of this buildup and the contact with the military? Was it before the meeting, and if it was, why weren't you aware of it, and if it was after the meeting, what prompted the decision?

Hon Mr Runciman: I'm not aware of any prior notification of the deputy minister, but I will pursue that and provide the honourable member with an answer. With respect to the numbers of officers on the ground, clearly there was a concern on the part of the OPP, as I've indicated to you, based on what was happening on a national level, and the intelligence being carried out by the OPP and the RCMP and other services, and the fact that there were concerns about individuals coming from the United States into the Ipperwash area. Clearly there were valid concerns that this situation could grow and could indeed be extremely serious. The OPP advised us of that fact and indicated to us that they were dealing with this in an appropriate way.

Again, I do not get into defining what is an appropriate way in terms of manpower or in terms of the kinds of equipment and those kinds of details. I am not qualified to make those kinds of decisions, and again, it is not an appropriate kind of involvement for a Solicitor General, for a Premier, for any member of a government.

We have to rely on the advice the police are providing us in terms of the adequacy of their approach, and given the advice I received, I was quite satisfied with the efforts and the job undertaken by the police on the ground.

The Speaker: New question, the member for Beaches-Woodbine.

Ms Frances Lankin (Beaches-Woodbine): I'd like to direct my question on this same subject matter to the minister responsible for native affairs. Minister, you can understand that we are trying to understand the sequence of events here, an extraordinary decision taken to confront the people who are occupying the park, an extraordinary decision to direct a buildup of over 250 members of the OPP tactical squad in that area, an extraordinary decision taken to contact the Canadian military and request their involvement.

These decisions appear to have been taken -- the events, at least, that flowed from those decisions occurred on September 5. Let me just go through the chronology. On September 4, at 6 pm Ipperwash park closes for the season; at 7:30 pm a group of 35 to 40 members of the Stony Point group took over the park. On September 5, the blockade committee meets to discuss Ipperwash, 250 OPP tactical squad unit members are detached, the Canadian military is contacted. You can see we want to know the sequence of those events and the relationship of those events. And of course, on September 6 at 11 pm, approximately 30 to 40 OPP officers approached the barricaded gate.

We have heard from the Premier, we've heard from you yesterday, we've heard from your Solicitor General today, that the blockade committee, the purpose of that meeting, the purpose of that committee was only to receive information about what had happened in the past, only to be updated about what had happened in the past.

My question is with respect to a briefing note from the Ministry of Natural Resources referring to a meeting held on Wednesday, August 2, of that interministerial committee where they discussed a number of things, including the role of the committee. The minutes of the meeting refer to, point 5, the agreement. I'll read this and put my question to you.

"The committee felt that the field staff of both the OPP and the MNR were in the best position to deal with the minor issues as they arose. In the event that a major incident -- example, illegal occupation by large numbers -- occurred, the committee should be advised to provide further direction." Direction, Minister, direction from that committee that you and others have said was only to receive information. How do you explain this inconsistency with your statements, your Premier's statements and your Solicitor General's statements?

Hon Charles Harnick (Attorney General, minister responsible for native affairs): There is no inconsistency. The meeting that took place was a meeting to inform the participants in the meeting that the occupation had occurred; the number of people that they believed were occupiers; that there was a trespass of property; that there was a discussion about the nature of the ownership of that property; what the relationship was between the various ministries; that the Ministry of Natural Resources indeed owned the park. That was what the nature of the meeting was, and the nature of the meeting was to begin a discussion of where alternatives may exist to begin trying to peacefully end this occupation.

There is one thing in the question, and it was explicit in the question, that there was a decision to confront. I think we tread on some thin ice when we make that allegation not backed up by any single fact, and quite simply that is an investigation that is now taking place by the SIU to see what happened there. To make an allegation when you don't have a single fact that there was a decision to confront I think is irresponsible, and I say to the member that she ought to wait until the SIU completes its investigation.


Ms Lankin: You suggest that the OPP officer who was quoted as saying there was a decision to confront is irresponsible in having made that statement, but that attempts to deflect from my question.

The blockade committee met on September 5. They had previously met on Wednesday, August 2. They reviewed the current situation at Ipperwash and they discussed a number of things, including a review of the committee's role. They reached the following agreements: "(5) The committee felt that the field staff of both the OPP and MNR were in the best position to deal with the minor issues as they arose. In the event that a major incident -- example, illegal occupation by large numbers -- occurred, the committee should be advised to provide further direction."

I put it to you that at the meeting on September 5 one of two things happened. They were either informed of the OPP decision to build up and call in 250 members of the tactical unit and contact the Canadian military and approved it, or they gave directions for that to happen. One of the two -- which is it, Minister?

Hon Mr Harnick: Nothing could be more ludicrous than the unfounded factual allegations. You can say anything you want but you have to have facts to back them up, and there are no such facts. There are no facts that any of that occurred at this meeting. This meeting dealt with the background and related issues to this matter: It dealt with who owned the property; it reviewed that an occupation had occurred; it talked about who the Stony Pointers were; it talked about whether we were dealing here with any occupation that could be dealt with based on trespass act considerations; it talked about the idea of trying to obtain a civil injunction. Those were the things that were talked about, and as a result of this meeting and that idea being discussed, the preparations began to obtain a civil injunction, and that's what happened.

There was no discussion of police matters. That wasn't the purpose of the meeting. The purpose of the meeting was not to direct the police force in what to do. That's positively ludicrous, and the member knows that.

Ms Lankin: I put to the minister again that the minutes of that very committee say that if an illegal occupation occurred, the committee would be advised for them to provide further direction. It is ludicrous, to use your words, that you would ask this House and the public of Ontario to believe that in the course of a major and tense standoff with an illegal occupation of a provincial park a group of bureaucrats and political staffers would come together -- because I remind you this committee included your executive assistant, David Moran, Deb Hutton from the Premier's office and Philip Gordon from Chris Hodgson's office -- and have a history lesson as to who owned the park and what the rules are around these things and not ask the question about what was going to solve the standoff. You've talked about options. Surely one of the options was what steps the police were going to take.

Chief Bressette received a phone call after that meeting. Confidentially he was informed that in the course of discussions with government officials, either at that meeting or at a subsequent meeting involving ministers, someone gave the direction to, "Get those" expletive "Indians out of the park." Yesterday, my leader asked your Premier to investigate that.

I want to know what steps you've taken. I want to know who you've spoken to. I want to know if you've asked every member of this committee. I want to know if you've ascertained whether any other meetings subsequent to the blockade committee happened on the 5th or the 6th, prior to the shooting, and whether anyone reports that those words were spoken and who spoke those words.

Hon Mr Harnick: The member knows that this meeting took place and that the meeting took place the day after the occupation occurred. She also knows that after this meeting a civil injunction was applied for. To make the leap that, because a group of bureaucrats and some political staff were being informed about what had happened, all of a sudden this group of people was making decisions to instruct the Ontario Provincial Police in any way, shape or form is ludicrous. It's ludicrous to think that happened at this particular information meeting, because it did not happen.

As a result of this meeting, people went away and began the preparations to obtain a civil injunction, and that application for a civil injunction was made shortly thereafter. There was no discussion about OPP tactics, there was no discussion about OPP instructions, because that was not in any way the purpose of this meeting. To make the leap they are trying to make is absolutely ludicrous.

The Speaker: New question.

Mrs McLeod: With the answer of the Attorney General in mind, I will return to the Solicitor General, who is the elected member of the government responsible to the public for the operations of the Ontario Provincial Police. You have indicated today that you were getting regular reports. You've said you were not getting, as I understand it, details about the operations of the OPP. Very specifically, were you aware, informed by the OPP, as Solicitor General, of the buildup of forces at Ipperwash park? If you were made aware of that on September 5 or before, did you inform the Premier of that fact? Was the meeting on September 5 of senior government representatives informed of the buildup of forces, and if not, why not? Have the OPP told you why they withheld that information, a critical piece of information, from that meeting?

Hon Mr Runciman: At no time do I recall ever being advised of specific numbers of officers in the field. I was advised that Superintendent Coles was in charge and we were certainly apprised of what was going on in the environs with respect to incidents that were occurring. We were advised of concerns of residents in the Ipperwash area outside of the camp and the Canadian Forces site, cottagers and so on.

With respect to the September 5 meeting, I was not present but I have been advised that numbers were not discussed, only that throughout this difficult time we were always advised by OPP officials that they were dealing with the situation in an appropriate manner, that they had the necessary resources to deal with the situation as it evolved and that they were continuing to carefully monitor it on a 24-hour basis. We did not think it was appropriate to pursue operational decisions beyond that point.


Mrs McLeod: Again, I find this almost unbelievable. I keep listening to see if I'm misunderstanding what the minister is saying. The Premier of the province has said that in their concern for the occupation at Ipperwash they turned it over to the OPP to resolve the issue. He is quoted as saying that they expected the OPP would resolve the issue peaceably; that would be the expectation. You again have said today, as I understand it, that it would have been your expectation that this would have been resolved peaceably and that nothing has altered or violated that expectation -- if you don't wish to call it a direction -- in your view.

Yet at that very time the OPP were assembling significant numbers of armed police force members. That clearly creates a climate for confrontation in an already tense situation. It is not a detail of a police operation. It is not a normal day-to-day event when the OPP is bringing in forces from across the southwest part of the province. If you were not informed, if the meeting of government representatives was not informed when they were called together to be briefed on this situation at Ipperwash that this buildup of force was occurring, that a climate for confrontation was being created, are you not surprised that this wasn't part of your briefing, that it wasn't part of the briefing at that September 5 meeting? Do you not believe that the OPP should have provided you with that very critical piece of information which did mean that it could not be and was not resolved peaceably? Should that not have been part of both your briefing and a briefing to government representatives and then to the Premier?

Hon Mr Runciman: I'm not going to get into specifics with respect to what may or may not have occurred on the day of the shooting. That would be quite inappropriate. I had confidence then, and I have confidence now, in the OPP's approach to that situation with respect to the general question of maintaining the perimeter and ensuring as best they could that the situation did not get out of hand.

The member talks about the OPP being called in to resolve. I don't think that was indeed the case. The OPP were called in because there was an illegal occupation of a park owned and operated by the Ministry of Natural Resources. The concerns on the part of the OPP with respect to the potential for escalation I think were based on what was happening on the national scene and some of the inflammatory rhetoric that was being heard at the time and their own intelligence reports that the potential was there for significant escalation. I think they were acting in a very responsible manner to ensure that they had the necessary resources, whether it be manpower or equipment, to be able to deal in an effective manner with any eventuality.

The Speaker: New question.

Mr Wildman: A question to the Solicitor General on the same matter: Yesterday the Premier said, "I think it was important that our office know what was happening." He further said, "We have said no, we knew nothing of any buildup." Does the minister see the contradiction in those two statements?

The minister wants us to believe that the committee was not informed on September 5 of the OPP buildup, and yet this briefing note we have from the Ontario Native Affairs Secretariat states a suggested response for the minister: "The occupation of Ipperwash park is primarily a police matter. Therefore, I shall refer your question to the Solicitor General."

How would you have been able to respond to questions in the House if you weren't briefed? How would you be able to answer questions about a police buildup if you knew nothing about it? How is it that you can expect us to believe that a buildup of 5% of all the OPP staff in the province at Ipperwash would go on without you knowing about it?

Hon Mr Runciman: Again I find this passing strange in some respects. The opposition parties, if in any way, shape or form I stuck my political nose into the operations of police in this province, would be on their feet screaming bloody murder. They're attempting to take political advantage of this situation now by saying that the fact I didn't get involved in a political sense --

Ms Lankin: Well, we think you did.

Hon Mr Runciman: You're dead wrong. I did not. I did not and I should not and I will not.

With respect to an issue raised earlier, the leader of the third party --


The Speaker: The member for Cochrane South, come to order.

Hon Mr Runciman: I just received a note that the deputy minister was aware of the OPP request for the armoured personnel carriers the same day I was, September 7, the day I signed the letter.

Mr Wildman: On this briefing note it says, "The committee will be meeting again on September 6." We know that committee was going to meet. You've been telling us that there was a history lesson at the meeting on September 5, and they were going to seek direction, according to this briefing note.

What was your staff told at the meeting on September 6 and what response was there to the police report of what happened at the incident? Were you at that time, or were your staff, aware of who authorized the police buildup and the request to the military? Who made the decisions? When were you notified of that? When did your deputy know that this buildup was taking place that led eventually to the unfortunate incident and the death of Dudley George?

Hon Mr Runciman: That's a pretty convoluted question. I think we've gone over this ground on many occasions before.

Ms Lankin: You haven't answered one question yet.

Hon Mr Runciman: I think I have answered all the questions, and I have indicated to you quite clearly that we were advised on an ongoing basis of the situation at Ipperwash with respect to incidents that might be occurring on the line, concerns of residents, those kinds of matters, which I think were appropriate for us to know about.

In terms of how many OPP officers were on the south flank, how many were on the north flank, how many were in the village, how many were out there, I was told on a regular basis, as were other members of the government, that the OPP was handling this in an appropriate fashion, that they felt confident they had the resources and the manpower on the ground to do the job in an effective manner. I accepted that advice. I feel confident about it now. I felt confident about it then.


Mr John R. Baird (Nepean): My question is for the Minister of Transportation. For too long, the people of Ontario have been terrorized by drunk drivers on roadways in the province of Ontario. I've been working with my colleague Margaret Marland, the member for Mississauga South, on strengthening measures against drunk drivers and fully support her efforts on this issue.

This is an extremely important issue to thousands of people in my constituency after a number of very tragic accidents over the last number of months, and the public in my riding is demanding tougher action.

My constituents are extremely supportive of the minister's announcement of the administrative licence suspension, which is a significant step forward on this very important issue. However, given that ALS suspends licences before cases go to trial, could the minister assure the House that the system balances the rights of the individual with the paramount concern overall for public safety in the province?

Hon Al Palladini (Minister of Transportation): I'd like to thank the member for Nepean for his question and commend him and the member for Mississauga South for their hard work in combatting drinking and driving. The main purpose of this initiative is to immediately increase safety by removing drunken drivers from Ontario roads. Simply put, no one has the right to drink and drive. Driving is a privilege, and drivers are expected to meet certain standards, including sobriety, or lose their licence.

Administrative licence suspensions will be issued based on the decision of the registrar of motor vehicles acting on the information provided by police. ALS is a measure to improve road safety and does not affect the person's rights in criminal law procedures because it has no connection to those criminal law procedures.


Mr Tony Ruprecht (Parkdale): On a point of order, Mr Speaker: You will realize that this morning we had before us Bill 51, and the member for Nepean didn't even vote for the bill.

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

Mr Baird: In response to the member for Parkdale, I voted against that bill because I thought it would contribute to drunk driving; I had a very good reason for voting against it. If he hadn't approached it from a partisan sense and had genuinely listened to the debate, he would have understood that.

My supplementary to the minister: Given the growing concern about this very important issue, this criminal problem in Ontario society, and given the outstanding success of the administrative licence suspension in other jurisdictions in the province, is the minister not concerned with the possibility of a constitutional challenge to the administrative licence suspension?

Hon Mr Palladini: ALS plans are currently in effect in two other Canadian provinces and more than 40 states in the United States. Should there be a constitutional challenge in Ontario, these questions will be determined when the courts hear the issues argued fully before them.

We are confident that after a full hearing of various points of view, this important road safety measure will be upheld and ALS will do what it is intended to do, and that is to reduce impaired driving on Ontario roads.


Mrs Elinor Caplan (Oriole): My question is for the Minister of Health. Nothing is more important to the women of this province than the safe delivery of their babies. Yesterday, I tried to convey to you the urgency of the pending obstetrical crisis in Ontario, but unfortunately you reverted to rhetoric. You went on to tell the women of Ontario that it is against the law for obstetricians to withdraw their services from current patients.

But obstetricians and other doctors who deliver babies will not stop seeing their patients. The problem is that they're not going to take on any new patients. Right across the province, pregnant women will be told by their obstetricians and their family doctors that they will not be able to deliver their babies.

Yesterday I asked what you plan to do to ensure that women across this province would receive the maternity care they need when they are pregnant. You didn't give me an answer, and the women of Ontario need an answer today. This is a very serious issue. We see headlines, the Windsor Star saying, "MDs to Withdraw Obstetrical Service," the Packet and Times about Orillia's doctors, and the Sault Star saying they are losing obstetrical services.

Enough rhetoric, Minister. What are you going to do to ensure that pregnant women will have maternity care and will have safe deliveries for their babies in Ontario? What are you going to do?

Hon Jim Wilson (Minister of Health): With respect to obstetricians in the province, let me just point out a few facts. The average gross income of an obstetrician is $325,000. The bickering that's going on now between the government and the obstetricians is over a mere $5,000, or 1.5% of their gross income. For that, they are threatening across the province to abandon the women and the children of this province: for 1.5% of their gross income.

However, with that fact in mind, I told the honourable member that we were meeting yesterday and we had met two days ago with the Obstetrical Association of Ontario. I offered them, through my staff, some $6,400 more, which on net, after the 10% clawback, would give them a $600 raise, including their full CMPA pay. Late last night, they indicated that wasn't enough. I'm doing everything I can. I don't know anybody else in this province who can't handle a 1.5% deduction from a $325,000 income.

Mrs Caplan: Minister, it is you who have abandoned the women and their babies in this province. You are to blame for this crisis. It is your action that caused this crisis. Last year you cancelled birthing centres. You have told pregnant women that they are not a priority for you. You have scrapped your agreement with the doctors.


The Speaker (Hon Allan K. McLean): Order. I'm having a problem hearing the question. Order, please.

Mrs Caplan: The worst thing you did, Minister, aside from Bill 26, which is directly responsible for the crisis that pregnant women are facing, is you arbitrarily removed the malpractice insurance payment, called CMPA, for Ontario's doctors. You did that against the advice of the College of Physicians and Surgeons.

Will you stand in your place today and tell the women of this province that you care about the safe delivery of their babies? Will you admit that you made a mistake when you arbitrarily removed CMPA malpractice insurance payments for doctors? And will you at least reinstate those CMPA insurance payments until after Mr Justice Dubin has concluded his report and stop this confrontational environment which is hurting pregnant women? It's frightening them. The most important thing to them is the safe delivery of their babies, and you can solve that problem --

The Speaker: The question has been asked. Minister.

Hon Mr Wilson: I've already told the honourable member that we have agreed to more than pay back or provide the insurance premium coverage. In fact the net average increase would be $600 as a result of the offers. That, apparently, is not enough.

I would say to the honourable member that if her government in 1986, when it decided to pay the majority cost of premiums with the CMPA on behalf of doctors in the province, which was a tradeoff to get them off the front lawn when the Liberals put them on strike, if she had brought some accountability into CMPA, into a $1-billion fund right now -- that's not an insurance company; it's regulated under no law -- the $5,000 that the obstetricians are having to pay today -- and that's without the offer, because we gave them a 30% increase on April 1 -- the $5,000 we're quibbling about today is exactly the 20% increase that CMPA is demanding for 1996 premiums, with no accountability.

This government will not pay $48 million to a $1-billion fund in Ottawa on behalf of physicians, with no accountability to the taxpayers, so I, by asking the treasurer to withdraw our contributions this year, because we believe that doctors are being hosed by the CMPA, finally got agreement, finally got doctors to take this government seriously and finally got CMPA to take us seriously. By withdrawing the money, we at least have a victory in terms of Charles Dubin now looking into it. He will hire two independent actuaries and will find out who is right in this dispute.

But there is no excuse for obstetricians or any other physicians in this province for holding men and women and babies at ransom. That will not be tolerated by this government. I put our money on the table to more than pay them back, and it still isn't good enough.


The Speaker: New question. Order.

Ms Frances Lankin (Beaches-Woodbine): I appreciate the fact that the members opposite liked the answer of the minister, but I want to pursue this question with the minister, because I heard in your first answer your statement of fact with respect to how much obstetricians make and how much more you've offered them and what a lucrative deal you put on the table yesterday that they turned down. I heard your statement with respect to the CMPA and the mismanagement of that fund and the lack of accountability and the fact that you've now secured a process to look into that.

All of that is nice. The answer to that may come this fall. I don't know where you're going to get an answer from the physicians on the dispute as a result of yesterday's lack of reaching an agreement. But let me tell you, in Windsor and Essex there are no obstetricians taking on new cases of women having babies. In Sault Ste Marie, five out of six obstetricians have stopped taking on new cases, and the sixth obstetrician is close to retirement. In Sudbury they're doing the same thing; in Orillia; in Thunder Bay; in St Catharines. So while I understand your explanation about the fault, you say, of the doctors, or the fault, you say, of the CMPA, women aren't getting services. What are you going to do to ensure women are going to get doctors' services to have babies in this province?


Hon Mr Wilson: These are notes taken the other night and the other day at the meeting -- two meetings now -- with the obstetrical association. The first thing they want me to do is to restore CMPA. I more than did that. I put all the money back plus a raise. They want more of an increase for vaginal births; an increase for fees for unsociable hours; they want a new fee code put in for on-call services, an exemption from the thresholds.

At a time when everyone in this province is being asked to do something, I don't think we can give the highest-paid professionals in the province of Ontario and in Canada a raise. I just don't think that's in the cards. They are very much aware of that. We're living within the $3.8-billion cap that your government put in place.

Again I say to both the NDP and the Liberals, you knew this CMPA problem was boiling. There was no accountability in the fund. The increase this year in CMPA premiums to the government and to doctors is 20%. Our position is that a $1-billion fund sitting in Ottawa is more than enough to cover over the next few years any lawsuits that might come forward, because we haven't seen the dramatic increase in lawsuits which was the excuse for building up the fund during your term in office. The fund is built up and we don't need to pay more money, including a 20% increase, at this time. That is our firm position.

Having said that, though, we've more than restored it for obstetricians. We gave them a 30% raise in April. I don't know what else we can do.

Ms Lankin: The minister's got to figure out something else to do.

Mr Chris Stockwell (Etobicoke West): Give the rich more money.

Ms Lankin: The member for Windsor-Riverside has sent you a letter today pleading for you to intervene in Windsor and Essex-Kent right now, today. The member for Windsor-Riverside is down there and the phone in his constituency office has been ringing --

Mr Stockwell: What is their tax cut? That is so hypocritical.

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

Ms Lankin: They cannot get an obstetrician now. There isn't any obstetrician left in that area who will take on a new case. So you can shoot it out at the OK Corral with the obstetricians; you can shoot it out with the managers of the CMPA. Go for it. But what I want to know is, what are you going to do for the women of this province, the women who are going to have babies? Where are they going to get the services this September, this October, this November, this December? That is also your responsibility, Minister. What are you going to do?

The Speaker: The question has been asked.

Hon Mr Wilson: It's interesting that we've had two former health ministers ask me questions, neither of them offering any solutions except rhetoric. I can tell you that your rhetoric is not going to help the women and children of this province. We are going to help the women and children. We've put our money on the table in difficult times and we are very hopeful that the obstetricians will come around to realize that we're doing everything we possibly can, but we will not allow them to hold women and children to ransom in this province.


Mr David Tilson (Dufferin-Peel): A number of my constituents in Dufferin-Peel have asked me about the status of our government's position on Allan Rock's costly and ineffective plan to compel law-abiding Canadians to register long guns through the phoney façade of gun control. Could you update the House, Solicitor General?

Hon Bob Runciman (Solicitor General and Minister of Correctional Services): I appreciate the question because I know there are concerns among law-abiding gun owners in this province related to this issue.

Two weeks ago, the justice ministers from Alberta, Manitoba, Saskatchewan, the Northwest Territories and the Yukon met to discuss the gun registration provisions of C-68. We were advised at the time that the government of Alberta has retained outside counsel to provide advice with respect to the possibility of a constitutional challenge of the registration provisions of the act. We also discussed at length the possibility of all governments jointly opting out of administration of that particular section of the federal act.

Alberta indicated that an appeal, a reference, would be brought through the Alberta Court of Appeal. It's the intention of the Ontario government, if indeed that occurs, that we will apply for intervenor status in the Alberta court.

Also, we are continuing with our colleagues in other jurisdictions a significant review of the implications of opting out of administration.

Within the next few weeks I will be appointing a users' committee, chaired by the member for Oshawa, Mr Ouellette, to review the regulations that come through this piece of legislation and advise the government on how to react.



Hon David Johnson (Chair of the Management Board of Cabinet): I move that notwithstanding standing order 96(h), the requirement for notice be waived with respect to ballot item number 36.

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



Mrs Elinor Caplan (Oriole): I have a very special petition which was sent to me by Richard Southern, who is here today with his father in the gallery. This is a petition to the Parliament of Ontario.

"This petition is concerning Mike Harris's $14-million cut to education. This means: less schools, less classroom supplies, less `one on one' (teacher-student), and most importantly, less teachers. This results in overcrowded classrooms. We disagree with the cuts to education, as signed below."

Richard has circulated this petition. Many of his friends and fellow students and neighbours in Tuscarora and other parts of Oriole riding have signed this petition, and I add my name to Richard's petition and hope the government will listen to him.


Mrs Lyn McLeod (Leader of the Opposition): I have the following petition:

"Whereas the minister has gone on record stating that the government is deeply committed to an educational system that delivers excellence, and the government has acknowledged that the public wants a highly educated, highly motivated and highly trained workforce that is the result of providing an absolutely first-class education to our young people and that the government is going to deliver on these needs expressed by the public; and

"Whereas the Ontario government has maintained that it must continue to cut to provide for the 30% rebate of provincial tax to Ontarians; and

"Whereas cutting funding for education contradicts the government's stated commitment to providing a quality educational program accessible to all students of this province;

"Therefore we, the undersigned, urge the Minister of Education and Training to instruct the Minister of Finance to withdraw the policy of providing the 30% Ontario tax cut."

This has been signed by more than 200 constituents in my riding. I attach my own signature as I am in full agreement with the sentiment.


Mr Peter Kormos (Welland-Thorold): I've got a petition that reads:

"We, the residents of Ontario, demand that Thorold Magazine be allowed to sell lottery tickets in accordance with the rules and regulations of the Ontario Lottery Corp, and not to be discriminated against because of large corporations having a monopoly and control of the lottery operations.

"We, the residents of Ontario, understand that this petition is to be presented to the Ministry of Citizenship, Culture and Recreation, Ontario Lottery Corp and the House of Commons Legislative Assembly of Ontario by the MPP for Welland-Thorold, who has been given no response to his request in the denial of lottery tickets to Thorold Magazine."


Mrs Julia Munro (Durham-York): I have a petition pertaining to York County Hospital's outpatient diabetic clinic signed by approximately 20 of my constituents from Queensville, Keswick, Holland Landing and Sutton. It appears in the standard form and I'm submitting it on their behalf today.


Mr Mario Sergio (Yorkview): I have a petition addressed to the Legislative Assembly of Ontario for which I do approve of the contents and to which I will affix my signature.

"Whereas the Rent Control Act protects Ontario's 3.3 million tenants and allows for security and stability in their homes and communities; and

"Whereas lifting rent control in Ontario would leave tenants with uncontrollable rent increases and financial instability; and

"Whereas the Progressive Conservative government is considering changes to the Landlord and Tenant Act favouring easier and faster evictions by landlords;

"We, the undersigned tenants of 35 Shoreham Drive, North York, petition the Legislative Assembly of Ontario to save rent control."

I do agree and I will affix my signature.



Mr Gary L. Leadston (Kitchener-Wilmot): I have a petition signed by a number of students in Waterloo region concerning health care, poverty and unemployment.


Mr Tony Ruprecht (Parkdale): Mr Speaker, I appreciate your recognizing this petition because it did take a long time. This is addressed to the assembly of Ontario.

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

"Whereas the residence is an inappropriate site for the rehabilitation of troubled kids because it is within walking distance to illicit drug and prostitution activities, a large number of unsupervised and supervised rooming houses that are home to 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 discussion with our community prior to the purchase of this house for the purpose of an open custody residence; and

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

"Therefore, we, the undersigned local residents and business owners, urge the Ministry of the Solicitor General and Correctional Services to suspend all plans to relocate this open- custody residence for troubled children and youth until a full review of the Dellcrest Children's Centre's decision can be conducted and explored so that alternative locations which are more appropriate can be sought."

This is one petition. I am signing my name to it, and I do have another petition right on my desk.


Mr John R. Baird (Nepean): I have a petition addressed to the Legislative Assembly of Ontario from constituents in Nepean. It reads:

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

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

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

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

"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 affix my signature.


Mr Tony Ruprecht (Parkdale): I am happy to hear the petition from the member for Nepean, who didn't vote for Bill 51 today.

The Speaker (Hon Allan K. McLean): Will the member please put his petition?

Mr Ruprecht: I withdraw, of course, Mr Speaker. I am sorry. I got carried away because I was so interested in Bill 51 today.

This petition goes to the assembly of Ontario.

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

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

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

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

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

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

I've affixed my signature to this document because I agree with the petition.


Mr John Gerretsen (Kingston and The Islands): I have a petition that's addressed to the Honourable Lieutenant Governor and the Legislative Assembly of Ontario.

"Whereas the Ontario government plans to sell off public services to corporations who will run them for a profit; and

"Whereas after the corporate takeover it will be strictly user-pay for the services we now depend on; and

"Whereas our clean air and water standards and worker safety rules are being relaxed because corporations don't like rules that interfere with profits; and

"Whereas privatization is being sold as a way to save tax dollars, even though large companies pay little or no taxes, while individual Canadians pay most of the total tax bill; and

"Whereas Bill 7 was introduced in the interests of facilitating its privatization agenda by stripping public sector workers of their rights to retain fair working conditions when services are transferred or privatized;

"We, the following citizens of Ontario, beg leave to petition the Parliament of Ontario to abandon the selloff of Ontario public services and reinstate successor rights for public service employees."

I have affixed my signature to that.


Mr Dalton McGuinty (Ottawa South): I have a petition which reads as follows:

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

The Speaker (Hon Allan K. McLean): I'd just like to draw to the attention of the members who are presenting petitions that it's their duty to make sure that those petitions are in order. I have noticed where some of the petitions have not been in order where they've spent two minutes reading them in the record.


Mr Bud Wildman (Algoma): On a point of order, Mr Speaker: I understand that we have unanimous consent of all three parties for me to withdraw Bill 37, which is in the order paper.

The Speaker (Hon Allan K. McLean): Is that agreed? Agreed.


Deferred vote on the motion for third reading of 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 apportant des modifications corrélatives à certaines autres lois.

The Speaker (Hon Allan K. McLean): It's my understanding there's been agreement for a vote. It will be a five-minute bell. Call in the members.

The division bells rang from 1519 to 1524.

The Speaker: Would all members take their seats, please.

We're dealing with third reading of Bill 39, standing in the name of Mr Palladini. All those in favour please rise one at a time.


Arnott, Ted

Hodgson, Chris

Preston, Peter

Baird, John R.

Jackson, Cameron

Rollins, E.J. Douglas

Barrett, Toby

Johnson, Bert

Ross, Lillian

Bassett, Isabel

Johnson, David

Runciman, Bob

Beaubien, Marcel

Johnson, Ron

Sampson, Rob

Brown, Jim

Jordan, Leo

Saunderson, William

Carroll, Jack

Kells, Morley

Shea, Derwyn

Chudleigh, Ted

Klees, Frank

Skarica, Toni

Clement, Tony

Leach, Al

Smith, Bruce

Danford, Harry

Leadston, Gary L.

Snobelen, John

DeFaria, Carl

Marland, Margaret

Stewart, R. Gary

Doyle, Ed

Maves, Bart

Stockwell, Chris

Flaherty, Jim

Munro, Julia

Tilson, David

Ford, Douglas B.

Murdoch, Bill

Turnbull, David

Fox, Gary

Mushinski, Marilyn

Villeneuve, Noble

Galt, Doug

Newman, Dan

Wilson, Jim

Gilchrist, Steve

O'Toole, John

Witmer, Elizabeth

Grimmett, Bill

Ouellette, Jerry J.

Wood, Bob

Guzzo, Garry J.

Palladini, Al

Young, Terence H.

Hardeman, Ernie

Parker, John L.


Harnick, Charles

Pettit, Trevor


The Speaker: All those opposed will please rise one at a time.


Bisson, Gilles

Gerretsen, John

Phillips, Gerry

Bradley, James J.

Gravelle, Michael

Pouliot, Gilles

Castrilli, Annamarie

Kormos, Peter

Ruprecht, Tony

Christopherson, David

Lalonde, Jean-Marc

Sergio, Mario

Churley, Marilyn

Lankin, Frances

Silipo, Tony

Cordiano, Joseph

Martin, Tony

Wood, Len

Curling, Alvin

McGuinty, Dalton


Duncan, Dwight

Morin, Gilles E.


Clerk of the House (Mr Claude L. DesRosiers): The ayes are 61; the nays are 22.

The Speaker: I declare the motion carried. Be it resolved that the bill do now pass and be entitled as in the motion.


Hon David Johnson (Chair of the Management Board of Cabinet): I have the weekly business statement. Pursuant to standing order 55, I wish to indicate the business of the House for the week of June 3, 1996.

On Monday, June 3, we will continue with second reading of Bill 49, An Act to improve the Employment Standards Act.

On Tuesday, June 4, we will be in opposition day standing in the name of the leader of the official opposition.

On Wednesday, June 5, notwithstanding standing order 42(d), I believe we have unanimous consent to consider the opposition day motion standing in the name of the interim leader of the third party on the understanding that there will be no opposition days the week of June 10.

On Thursday, June 6, we hope to complete second reading of Bill 49, An Act to improve the Employment Standards Act. For Thursday morning's private members' business, we will consider ballot item number 33 standing in the name of the member for Windsor-Riverside, and ballot item 34 standing in the name of the member for Etobicoke-Rexdale.

The Speaker (Hon Allan K. McLean): The minister has indicated that we had consent with regard to the second opposition day next. I want to know if the House has agreed to that consent. Agreed. There will not be an opposition day the following week.




Mrs Witmer moved second reading of the following bill:

Bill 49, An Act to improve the Employment Standards Act / Projet de loi 49, Loi visant à améliorer la Loi sur les normes d'emploi.

Hon Elizabeth Witmer (Minister of Labour): Today I am extremely pleased to have the opportunity to bring Bill 49 forward for second reading. The amendments being proposed in Bill 49 will certainly assist in streamlining the Employment Standards Act. They will also encourage compliance with the act and self-reliance by the workplace parties, and improve the enforcement of standards for vulnerable employees, who are truly dependent on the government for protection.

The amendments will enable us to focus our resources to help those who most need our help. However, most important -- may I please have some water? Can somebody else go?

The Acting Speaker (Ms Marilyn Churley): We'll wait for a couple of minutes.

Hon David Johnson (Chair of the Management Board of Cabinet): How can we deal with this, Madam Speaker?

Clerk of the House (Mr Claude L. DesRosiers): Mr Baird can continue.

The Acting Speaker: The member for Nepean.

Mr John R. Baird (Nepean): I'm very pleased to have the opportunity today to rise and speak in favour of Bill 49 changes to the Employment Standards Act. Since the passage of the Employment Standards Act, the ESA, in 1974, Ontario's economy has changed significantly. However, only piecemeal changes have been made to the act on more than a dozen occasions. As a result, Ontario's Employment Standards Act is overly complex, difficult to manage and unnecessarily expensive to enforce.

It's time to streamline the Employment Standards Act to serve its original purpose: providing clear, effective and efficient standards for Ontario's workers and employers. Doing so will benefit all Ontarians by cutting red tape, improving government services and promoting job creation in the province of Ontario.

The changes which the government has introduced in Bill 49 form the first part of a very comprehensive review of the Employment Standards Act. The first phase will begin to cut through years of accumulated inefficiencies within the act. It will encourage workplace parties to become more self-reliant in resolving disputes and make the Employment Standards Act more relevant to the needs of the modern workforce and workplace in the 1990s and into the next millennium.

Most important, however, these actions will help the Ministry of Labour concentrate its resources on protecting the most vulnerable of workers in the province. Different challenges have arisen in the 1990s and the act needs to respond to those challenges.

Bill 49 allows unions and employers to negotiate mutually beneficial arrangements as part of their overall collective agreement. I know some have accused our government of trying to eliminate basic employment standards protection for workers in Ontario. That characterization, simply put, is wrong. Let me state clearly that these changes will not reduce the minimum standards of employment for Ontario workers.

On the contrary, Bill 49 provides a simple and effective way to introduce much-needed flexibility which will improve working conditions for workers across Ontario. We're giving the workplace parties themselves, in unionized workplaces, the opportunity to negotiate standards which best suit the needs of their particular situation.

Our government is working to improve worker protections in Ontario while creating a favourable climate for business. If we are able to strike this delicate balance and bring much-needed jobs back to the province, we must rethink the rigid bureaucracy and red tape of the past. In this day and age, Ontario's workplaces need flexibility from the government to be more competitive in the global marketplace. Furthermore, new technologies, being introduced at a rapid pace, are radically changing working conditions and indeed work itself.

We couldn't really expect that legislation designed to serve the working environment of 1974 is able to conform to the working conditions and opportunities Ontarians expect in 1996.

Mr Ron Johnson (Brantford): No way.

Mr Baird: Certainly not, I would agree with my colleague.

Can it be that members of the opposition have become so dependent on inflated government bureaucracy and red tape that they actually fear the thought of greater flexibility and self-reliance in the province of Ontario?

We all know what happens to creatures which fail to adapt to changes which affect them. I, for one, am not prepared to allow Ontario's labour market to number in this list of extinction.

Able-bodied and skilful and ambitious Ontarians have called upon this government to prepare Ontario and Ontario's economy for the next century and indeed the next millennium. Ontarians want a better standard of living for themselves and for their children.

That expectation cannot be fulfilled without a streamlined, efficient, responsive and flexible Employment Standards Act. Ontarians deserve nothing less.

Some specific points to discuss with respect to the legislation:

Under the terms of Bill 49, employers and unions will only be allowed to negotiate variations on five clearly defined standards, and it's important to note that. Among those standards: hours of work, overtime pay, paid vacation, public holidays and severance pay. These are the only standards which can be altered through the collective bargaining process. Furthermore, changes to these standards will only be valid if the final package as a whole is better, increases the minimum under prescription in legislation, the current amended Employment Standards Act, and that's very important to note. It can only be better as a package, not less, so it's not about seeing a decline in standards as a whole. Put more clearly, negotiated changes can be made to these five standards if, and only if, the final package in its entirety provides workers with better protection.

We believe that freely negotiated terms and conditions of employment can not only fit the circumstances of their parties better but that they can encourage more compliance, which I think is our ultimate goal.

It's very important to note, however, that the legislation also provides for an independent assessment by an arbitrator if there's any question as to whether a negotiated agreement is superior to the standards set out in the Employment Standards Act. This will ensure that the rights of workers are protected and the requirements of the Employment Standards Act are upheld.

This issue has received much discussion in the province of Ontario. On the very first day this government introduced this legislation, we addressed the concern coming from a number of members opposite that if they were concerned that this would see a reduction in the overall minimum standards, this government was open to receiving any amendments to help clarify and help ensure that any concerns they might have would be addressed. That's very important to note.

In this province, we've all heard of examples of workplaces where the inflexibility and rigidness of the Employment Standards Act prevents positive and beneficial workplace changes from taking place. On many occasions, both employers and employees have successfully agreed on special terms of employment, but because their agreement violated the text of the ESA, they have been unable to convince the Ministry of Labour and the employment standards officers to allow for an exception. As a result, the inflexibility of the Employment Standards Act ensures that both employees and employers lose in the process. I think these examples provide the best reasoning why this government's proposed changes are so desperately needed.

I want to deal with another important issue contained in this bill, that is, the use of collection agencies. Another component of Bill 49 which will clearly help keep the needs of workers paramount is the planned use of collection agencies to retrieve fines levied under the Employment Standards Act from employers. The measures contained in this bill will ensure that workers get financial settlements faster, ensure that companies which violate employment standards pay for it and ensure that law-abiding employers operate on a level playing field.


The Ministry of Labour is determined to refocus its attention on the core responsibilities of setting, communicating and enforcing employment and workplace standards. In order to move this agenda forward, the ministry plans to contract out the collection of unpaid wages, unpaid vacation pay and other money owed to employees under the employee wage protection plan. By using private sector collection agencies, the Ministry of Labour will be relieved from the expensive and difficult job of fine collection, and this will lead to more efficient and effective use of the ministry's resources in areas where they are most needed. More effective collection of these fines will improve enforcement and act as a strong deterrent for those who would choose to violate the Employment Standards Act.

Above all, however, the efficient collection of fines will benefit workers who are owed wages or vacation pay, many of whom at present must wait for unacceptably lengthy periods to receive the pay to which they're entitled, regrettably too often the most vulnerable workers. Employment standards officers will issue an order to the employer and they simply never receive the money.

This measure is good for workers. It will ensure that after an employment standards officer has conducted a very thorough investigation and makes an order, those employers pay up. Something else it will do is to ensure that law-abiding companies that fully accept the responsibilities under the Employment Standards Act aren't required to pay for deadbeats who break the act and who don't accept their employment responsibilities in Ontario. This will help the most vulnerable workers.

I believe that the privatization of collection agencies in terms of the collection of moneys owed to workers is very important. I think it will ensure that more workers get more of their money and that they get it faster. That's the job of this provincial government, which feels very strongly that when orders are made, employers who are negligent and don't accept their responsibilities under the Employment Standards Act have to pay up. It will create a level playing field because the rest of the by and large honest and law-abiding employer community won't have to pick up the tab. That's a welcome change for those of us who want fairness.

The bill also deals with the modification of appeal periods and better focuses the ministry's investigations. In keeping within our goal of making workers and employers more self-reliant in dispute settlement, the Ministry of Labour will promote more cost-efficient enforcement of employment standards. We will do this by modifying the limitation period for claims, proceedings, prosecutions and appeals. Employees will have up to six months to file a claim with the ministry, and after six months employees may still pursue claims through other avenues such as the courts. In cases of recurring violations, the Ministry of Labour will seek to obtain up to one year in back pay for claimants.

Our legislation will now give the courts the clear authority in a prosecution to order an employer found in violation of the Employment Standards Act to pay money owed to an employee. The limitation period for appeals will be increased to 45 days from its present 15. We feel this is an important change since the shorter period did not allow the parties enough time to consider whether they should or should not exercise their right to an appeal under the current act. This is important because we found in too many cases there were precautionary appeals launched. Simply put, individuals wouldn't know whether they should appeal, so they appealed on a precautionary basis and then withdrew the appeal subsequent to further examination. We believe this will make the system far more efficient.

These changes will also make claims of Employment Standards Act violations easier to investigate and easier to settle. Streamlining this process will also enable employment standards officers to focus on the resolution of claims. This is truly good news for workers in the province of Ontario.

We are also working to eliminate duplication and make better use of our resources at the Ministry of Labour by no longer investigating and enforcing employment standards claims that are being pursued through other means. Under the proposed changes included in Bill 49, claims will have to be pursued using the procedures outlined in their respective collective bargaining agreements. An arbitrator will have the power to order the payment of money owed to employees by their employers.

In cases where the employer is unable to pay, an arbitrator's order could lead to the employee being reimbursed from the Ministry of Labour's employee wage protection program, an important part of the Ministry of Labour's overall mandate. This change will seek to cut red tape, ensure that the Ministry of Labour is able to deal effectively and efficiently with the most vulnerable workers in our community and bring in a number of administrative efficiencies, some good common sense, something that's very important in the 1990s.

The Employment Standards Act was written in 1974 and has been amended some 12 times. We have a patchwork that's often ineffective and inefficient, and these changes will bring much-needed reform to the act.

The Deputy Speaker (Mr Bert Johnson): The Chair recognizes the Minister of Labour.

Hon Mrs Witmer: I'm pleased to ask for unanimous consent to make a presentation.

The Deputy Speaker: Is there unanimous consent? Agreed.

Hon Mrs Witmer: I'm pleased to have the opportunity to once again bring Bill 49 forward. The amendments that are being introduced today are intended to streamline the Employment Standards Act. They will certainly encourage compliance with the act as well as self-reliance by the workplace parties, and ultimately they will improve the enforcement of standards for vulnerable employees who are truly dependent on the government for protection.

The amendments we are introducing will enable us to focus our resources to help those employees most in need of the help of the government. However, Bill 49 moves us towards an effective employment standards program to meet the workplace needs of the 1990s. The legislation as presently written is out of date, and oftentimes we're not capable of enforcing the act. For years there has been difficulty in properly enforcing the act, and obviously we want to change that.

The workforce and the work have changed dramatically while the Employment Standards Act has stood still. The act at the present time is not providing adequate protection to some of the jobs that are emerging, such as telemarketing and the changing structure of work in the garment industry. As we embark on a review of the Employment Standards Act, we are going to deal with the changing needs of the workplace.

This act was first passed in 1974. Not only have there been changes in the workplace, there have been changes in technology. We are also competing globally, and as a result we're seeing tremendous changes in the relationship between the employer and the employee. Both employees and employers today are recognizing that there is a need for greater adaptability and greater flexibility. Even though there have been minor amendments to the act 18 times, unfortunately there has been no major review or overhaul. As I stated before, the act simply does not reflect the new economy and does not reflect the new workplace.

In summary, the act has become increasingly more complex, it has become contradictory, it is rigid, and unfortunately many employees and employers and even enforcement officers find it somewhat confusing. It is time to start a reform of the Employment Standards Act.

Bill 49 is the first part of a two-phase review of the act. As we undertake our comprehensive review of the Employment Standards Act, we will be consulting extensively with employers, employees and trade unions to ensure that the revised act will meet the needs of today's workplace. The protection of vulnerable workers will be fundamental as we look at reviewing the act, and certainly the minimum standards that are providing the necessary protection to the vulnerable employees will continue to be guaranteed as we make our reforms.


The amendments in the act before us will certainly help with the efficient and effective administration of the act, and I want to stress that we are not altering in any way the standards. Unfortunately, there have been those in opposition who have made some statements indicating that, and we are simply not doing that.

Consistent with our intention to encourage the workplace parties to become more self-reliant in dealing with their own disputes, we are actually introducing some changes that are going to improve and speed up the complaint and dispute resolution process, and where appropriate, our employment standards officers are actually going to be able to help the parties resolve their disputes before we do any time-consuming, full-scale investigation. Obviously, the resulting settlement in that case will be binding on both parties. So the parties can fashion a remedy that is acceptable to them before any investigation takes place. By doing so, obviously the dispute is dealt with in a more timely manner. It also allows for our employment standards officers to be freed up to focus on the much more complicated cases.

In addition, the act is going to be changed so that the parties to a collective agreement will be expected to manage the resolution of all of their disputes in the same manner; that is, they will be able to manage all of their disputes through the grievance procedure set out in their collective agreement. In other words, the bargaining members can rely upon the support and resources of the union, and they can look to the grievance procedure as the mechanism for resolving employment standards complaints rather than coming to the ministry. In fact, most employment standards complaints in unionized workplaces today already use that method. This grievance arbitration process is one that is familiar for the employees and for the employers, and certainly they will be able to continue to use that and they will be able to use the resources and the support of their own union in pursuing their claims.

Complaints are going to be heard then by an arbitrator who will be chosen by the mutual agreement of the union and the employer. Again, this is a change that is going to allow the ministry staff to devote more time to dealing with claims that are made by non-union employees who do not have the access to formal grievance procedures. Again, that will help us to provide better service, faster service, for unorganized employees.

The amendment is going to encourage the workplace parties to assume greater responsibility for their own affairs and make them more self-reliant.

The act is also going to be amended to increase the flexibility of unions and management to negotiate certain employment standards as part of their collective agreements. We believe that freely negotiated terms and conditions of employment will be more responsive to the needs of the individual workplace, and we believe that in this way we can encourage compliance with the act. This is necessary at a time when technology is rapidly changing in the workplace and at a time when work itself is changing. We just have to take a look at the prevalence of just-in-time delivery systems in today's economy to understand how work and the workplace are changing. As we continue to compete globally and as we continue to take a look at the different needs of the individual workplace, obviously we need to look at greater flexibility.

So the workplace parties, together, will have the opportunity to determine a package of standards for hours of work, for overtime pay, vacation pay, public holidays and severance pay as long as the overall package that is negotiated exceeds -- and I stress the word "exceeds" -- the standards set by the act. I want to also stress that they will not, as the opposition seems to like to say they will, reduce minimum employment standards. I want to stress they will not reduce minimum employment standards.

Currently what is happening in the workplace when you have a collective agreement is that the parties can bargain for alternative provisions to some standards. That's happening already today. They can negotiate arrangements for severance pay where there is a mass termination. They can also agree to extend daily and weekly hours beyond the statutory maximum. They can substitute a different day for a public holiday. However, these standards can only be dealt with at the present time individually, not as a package of standards as we are proposing. The proposal in our bill is building on that particular part and will give more flexibility than what is already contained in the act.

Some people have asked why this is necessary. I just want to highlight one example. We had a request from a unionized company where all of the employees in a bargaining unit came to an agreement with the employer for special working hours. Then they of course approached the Ministry of Labour with the request to allow the employer to operate under the agreed-upon working hours. However, they were told by the ministry that according to the current laws they were not allowed to agree to and introduce specific working hours different from the requirements of the act. So even though the workers and the employer agreed to the special working hours, it could not be implemented according to the Employment Standards Act as it exists today. In this case, both the employer and the employees were not able to get what they determined to be in their best interests.

This is the type of situation we want to avoid in the future. We want to give the workplace parties the opportunity to negotiate a package of standards which are higher overall than the standards presently provided by the ESA. However, we want to make sure that it's done in such a way that it will suit the needs of the particular workplace.

This is a proposal that has received a great deal of attention. As we go out into the area of public hearings this summer, we are certainly looking forward to hearing the views on this particular provision.

I would like to make it clear too that this provision does not allow the workplace parties to negotiate contracts outside of the act. The underlying standards set out in the act will still be in place. Rather, we are providing greater flexibility in allowing the parties to negotiate a more varied package of provisions for a limited number of standards which respond to their unique needs and which will be more favourable to the employees.

Since the new law will only allow negotiated standards which result in a package which is more favourable to employees, what option is there for employees who feel that is not happening?

Any employee who believes the union has agreed to an overall package which is not better than the act's minimum standards will be able to raise his or her concerns through the established grievance procedure, and an arbitrator might therefore be asked to determine if the package met the test of the Employment Standards Act. An employee who believed that the package, taken as a whole, was not superior to the Employment Standards Act standards could appeal to the OLRB, the Ontario Labour Relations Board, as well.


Finally, if there is still dissatisfaction, there is a provision of the amendment that would permit the director of employment standards to entertain a complaint if the director considers it appropriate.

Certainly there are many avenues for employees to appeal if they do not believe the package as a whole is superior to the Employment Standards Act standards.

We also propose to streamline the administration of the act so that the employment standards officers are able to work as efficiently as possible to ensure compliance with the act and to find the most cost-effective means of enforcing standards by more fully employing modern technology.

Accordingly, one of the initiatives we are proposing is to utilize private collection agents to recover moneys owed to employees by employers. Today this is a very time-consuming and expensive service which we believe can be better provided through the specialized services available in the private sector. In cases where the employer refuses to obey the order to pay, private collection agencies will ensure that the moneys owed are collected and remitted to employees. It is the debtor employer who will be responsible for the cost of collection, including a reasonable fee for the agency's collection work.

We fully expect that this will result in a speedier remission of moneys owed to the employees, and of course it is important that the employee receive the money as quickly as possible. This will also allow our employment standards officers to carry out the work of enforcement. We hope that when the legislation is passed employees will see their money more quickly than they have in the past.

The ability to use more modern technology will also enhance the efficiency and effectiveness of our officers by ensuring that they have access to all the information needed to enforce the rights of the workers they represent. We're making a number of changes to take advantage of the speed and the economy of electronic communications and other new information delivery services. Employees will now be able to file their complaints with us by fax; investigating officers will be assured access to electronic records; and the ministry will be able to serve notices on the parties by any form of verified delivery, including facsimile.

These changes, of course, are entirely consistent with current business practices. They do not in any way, shape or form affect the kind of information to which employment standards officers currently have access. It will be the same information base they've always had access to.

We have reviewed as well the various limitation periods under the act and we've compared our practices with those of the other provinces. As a result, we are going to make some other changes.

We have decided to lengthen the period in which claimants can appeal decisions on employment standards claims from 15 days to 45 days. We believe this will provide the time needed for the parties involved to consult with legal counsel and fully consider all of their options before proceeding.

In addition, we are clarifying certain limitation periods to ensure greater certainty for employers and employees, again to enhance compliance. To eliminate the confusion associated with launching a proceeding or a prosecution under the Employment Standards Act, the act will be changed to specify clearly that an employment standards officer must issue, or refuse to issue, an order to an employer to pay within two years of a complaint. Where an investigation of a claim brings to light the violations affecting employees other than the complainant, an officer will be able to issue an order up to two years after these other violations are discovered.

We're also clarifying the time period for launching a prosecution or appointing a referee.

Finally, we are ensuring that as a result of a successful prosecution a court can order the payment of money owed to an employee even if the time limitation has expired by the time the decision is made.

Since investigations by employment standards officers of excessively old claims are often hampered by a lack of evidence and the poor recollection of witnesses, as well as the fact that we spend a disproportionate amount of administrative resources on these old claims -- and unfortunately it does not always result in comparable benefits to the claimants -- we are proposing to replace the current two-year limitation period for filing an employment standards claim with six months.

Ontario presently has a much longer claim period than the other Canadian provinces. In the case of the other provinces, they range from six months to a year. We are introducing the six-month period, and of course this new limitation period, as some of the others that we are introducing, is very consistent with changes that have been made in other Canadian jurisdictions. Again, it will allow our ministry resources to help those individuals who are the most vulnerable and in need of our support.

We're also placing a $10,000 ceiling on the value of orders that are issued by an employment standards officer on behalf of an individual claimant. However, an exception is going to be made for large claims that arise out of violations of the pregnancy and parental leave and the Sunday and holiday retail work standards. This provision recognizes that reinstatement in those cases, where it is possible, often represents the best way to resolve these conflicts for all the parties involved. Since the courts are reluctant to grant reinstatement, I believe it is important that the Ministry of Labour maintain control of those cases where the employers and employees still have a full range of remedies available to them.

For those people who have indicated this cap on claims is new, until 1991 there was a $4,000 cap on claims. This excluded termination and severance pay. What happened is that when that cap was removed, unfortunately, those with large claims decided that not only could they now use the ministry but they could also pursue civil action. We have people using our scarce resources in two different ways.

I also want to mention that the percentage of claims that exceeds $10,000 is quite small. They are about 4% and they often involve individuals who are in middle management positions. However, these claimants have taken up a disproportionate amount of the ministry's scarce resources because they are often also very complex. We believe these scarce resources should be devoted to helping those with smaller claims, those people who have no recourse to the courts; that's simply not an option for them. The employees who wish to make a claim larger than $10,000 will be able to do so through the courts. However, this provision does not prevent them from pursuing claims worth more than $10,000 through the employment standards branch. However, the order that is issued will only be for up to $10,000.


All employees are going to have to decide at the outset now which avenue they use to pursue an employment standards complaint: Do they want to use the ministry or do they want to use the courts? This is going to avoid the duplication of procedures and it will certainly enable us to better utilize our scarce resources.

In a time of fiscal restraint, it is important that the government focus its energy and resources in these areas where they are most needed. This $10,000 maximum will certainly allow the ministry to do so and it will also ensure that all workers maintain viable options to exercise their rights.

Claimants who apply to the employment standards program are going to be given a two-week grace period. That grace period is there to allow them to decide before they select the process. Once they select the process, of course, that's final. So the two weeks are going to allow claimants the time to obtain legal advice and to consider whether or not they want to launch a civil action in the courts.

Again, for the reasons I mentioned earlier, we are exempting from this election the requirement claims for which a remedy of reinstatement could be granted.

In our legislation, we have also given the authority to set by regulation a minimum claim amount, although I want to assure you we have no plans to do so at the present time. We believe and we anticipate that by amending the Employment Standards Act to give employment standards officers the right to attempt to mediate claims between employers and employees even before starting investigation, this is going to result in the very quick settlement of many small claims, and that will reduce the need to establish a minimum claim limit.

The act is also going to be used to clarify employee rights regarding seniority and entitlement to vacation time and vacation pay under the pregnancy and parental leave provisions. This clarification will certainly reduce the claims and the litigation in these areas.

In accomplishing these changes, we have been able to simplify some of the sections of the act, making it more user-friendly and accessible.

We're also going to take the opportunity in the bill to correct some of the drafting errors that are there. Those drafting errors are in both the English and French versions, and we want to make sure they are now corrected.

Finally, we are going to be enacting a series of transitional provisions to ensure that parties have adequate notice of these impending changes. Obviously, these changes will not come into effect until such time as the act is passed. Someone asked me the other day, "Are these retroactive?" I would indicate to you that, no, they are not. There will be no changes made until the legislation is passed.

As I've indicated, the act is out of date. The act is in need of revision. Certainly it has not kept up with the changes in the workplace or the changing employer-employee relationship. We believe it's very important that we start with the changes. We're looking forward to the first part, the changes we're proposing in Bill 49, and then we are looking forward to working with the stakeholders and making sure we take a look at the complete act. We will be releasing a white paper and we hope to have that out for consultation next fall, and hopefully some time in 1997 we will be able to deal with legislation that would complete the review and the reform of the Employment Standards Act.

This initiative is certainly consistent with our commitment to encouraging greater self-reliance among the workplace parties. It will enable us to cut red tape. It will make this piece of legislation more relevant to the needs of the workplace today. At the same time, it will continue to protect employees by ensuring a fair balance of the rights and responsibilities of the workplace parties. It's also going to create the needed flexibility for the workplaces that will demonstrate that high standards and sound workplace practices are necessary. At the same time, it is going to ensure that there is greater compliance with the act and more efficient and effective enforcement.

I certainly look forward to hearing the input of the stakeholders this summer and I look forward to the comments that will be made by the opposition critics. We certainly anticipate there will be good discussion and debate.

I want to conclude my remarks by saying that this is a task that is long overdue. In my five years in opposition I had employees and employers approach me regularly asking us to make sure there was a review of the Employment Standards Act because it was in many instances so ambiguous, so confused, so difficult to understand. I'm pleased that our government has finally decided to respond and make the changes that are long overdue.

The Deputy Speaker: Comments and questions?

Mr Dwight Duncan (Windsor-Walkerville): I want to thank the minister for her statement. I'll have an opportunity to respond in greater detail, but we do take exception to a number of the comments and have very strong disagreements which I will be pleased to outline in greater detail.

I do want to express to the minister how we look forward to her joining us in committee this summer as we travel across the province. I know that just this week she had the opportunity to break bread with her friends in the labour movement. I know she would certainly be welcome in places like Windsor and Hamilton and Thunder Bay and North Bay and Ottawa and many other great parts of this province, and I know that she will want to undertake to join us.

Mr Baird: I'll come back to Windsor, Dwight.

Mr Duncan: Yes, Mr Baird's been to Windsor. I know the minister wasn't able to attend at that particular event, but we look forward to her joining us in that committee hearing because we think it is important to consult and we would think it important that the minister would avail of herself when this House isn't sitting and when all of us are doing this important committee work that she sees as being important. We know and we trust that she will indeed join us for those three weeks of hearings as we travel Ontario to listen to people and their views on the Employment Standards Act.

Though I wasn't here while she was the opposition critic, I know that in the past she has expressed and indeed wrapped up her speech by saying how important this process is. So I indeed will be writing people all over Ontario urging them to urge the minister to join the hearings and come throughout Ontario and listen to what people have to say about this bill and other labour initiatives that she has undertaken.

The Deputy Speaker: Comments and questions? Would the minister like two minutes?

Hon Mrs Witmer: I'll just make a quick response and indicate to the member from Windsor-Walkerville that although I might be there, perhaps you might not be. I just want to wish him well in whatever future he chooses for himself.

But certainly I know Mr Baird is looking forward to touring the towns and cities of Ontario, and if I have the opportunity, I certainly will take advantage to hear first hand some of the representation that will be made. As I indicated, I think it is a very significant piece of legislation. It's a piece of legislation that does protect the most vulnerable employees in this province, and as I indicated, the reform is long overdue. So I certainly do look forward to the input and advice we get.



The Deputy Speaker (Mr Bert Johnson): I beg to inform the House that in the name of Her Majesty the Queen, His Honour the Lieutenant Governor has been pleased to assent to certain bills in his office.

Clerk Assistant and Clerk of Committees (Ms Deborah Deller): The following are the titles of the bills to which His Honour doth assent:

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 apportant des modifications corrélatives à certaines autres lois

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


The Deputy Speaker: On second reading of Bill 49, further debate?

Mr Duncan: I'm pleased to have an opportunity to rise and discuss with this House and those watching our views on the amendments contained in Bill 49, and to have a discussion about the need the minister's referred to for change in this particular statute and where we stand on some of the issues. We need to focus that in the context of the government's entire record to date on labour relations, because regardless of what one thinks of that record, it has no doubt been a busy agenda since last June and it has been an agenda that has been very focused and the subject of some controversy.

We find interesting, to begin with, that these particular amendments were not discussed at any length in the Common Sense Revolution. In that sense, it represents the first attempt at some substantive labour law reform that wasn't contemplated in the election and therefore does need to be thoroughly vetted. I'll have some comments about how that ought to be vetted and over what period of time, and what issues should be on the table.

The minister has expressed her surprise that critics in the opposition and observers of the labour markets in this province and practitioners in the field of labour law have suggested that these are not simply housekeeping amendments. She has expressed concern that in her view some of the government's positions have been misrepresented. But the minister ought to be cognizant that many people who deal with labour law and deal in labour markets in this province have grave concerns about the government's record and how it has conducted public policy in the area of labour law.

We remember very clearly and vividly Bill 7, which was hastily introduced. It gutted the Labour Relations Act. There was no opportunity for public hearings. I remember that big document of amendments. It was 600 pages, 400 pages long? We had all of about 10 minutes to look at. I'm pleased to note that after Bill 26 the government recognized that you can only get away with those kinds of games for so long and now is more committed to the process of public consultation.

There was no opportunity for public hearings on Bill 7, and the Labour Relations Act arguably is one of the most important statutes in this province. We voted against that particular bill for a whole variety of reasons which we won't be debating here today. That bill and the way the minister and the government conducted themselves have led to anxiety, not only among union leaders and working people, but among practitioners of labour law in this province. The amendments in that bill made it more difficult for workers to organize and bargain collectively. It made it easier for employers to break the collective will of working people. It restored the right to use replacement workers.

When the minister expressed her surprise today that these types of concerns have been raised, she shouldn't have been surprised because it was her and it was this government, by the way they conducted their public policy earlier in the mandate, that have in effect set the tenor, set the tone. We've seen angry backlash across the province.

Earlier this week the minister and the Premier met for the first time with senior labour officials. The press accounts varied about that meeting. Some said it was cordial, others that it was a difficult meeting. I don't know; we weren't privy to it.

I do know that the labour relations climate in this province has declined dramatically since this government came to office. I have over the course of the last year met with numerous labour leaders, working people, business people and economists, all of whom have spoken of the importance of harmonious labour relations, not only for the workplace, but for the economy in general.

One of Ontario's great strengths over the years has been a relatively stable labour climate, a climate that didn't just happen but evolved. It evolved with improving laws. It evolved with more sophisticated bargaining. We said last year and we say again today that when a government pursues the course of action this government is pursuing you take a risk that you will undermine what is essentially a very important component of this province's economic stability and economic health.

To some extent we have yet to see the full consequence of that. We've seen rotating general strikes. We will see yet another one, I'm given to understand, later this fall here in Toronto. We have seen smaller protests. We are seeing a slow deterioration of the climate in workplaces. We see elements of distrust between employers and organized labour, employees.

We are very concerned about that and we think everybody in the province ought to be concerned about it. If you go to Windsor and you go into the Chrysler plant or the Ford plants, or if you go to Hamilton and you go to one of the great steel mills, or if you go to Thunder Bay into one of the great pulp and paper factories, you think about what labour relations mean and you think about what the engine of this economy really is. In our community the leaders of the union movement historically, and today, have always been at the forefront of working with management and working cooperatively to ensure not only that workers get a fair deal, get adequate benefits and good wages, but also that our plant and our economy can be competitive in the larger environment.

Just today I had to miss an event in Windsor, the opening of the new Chrysler research and development facility, the first research and development facility of its type in Canada. I applaud my colleagues in the third party who, when they were in government, actively assisted in forming the partnership between the University of Windsor and Chrysler Corp to help establish the first automotive research and development facility in this country. When that was first proposed and adopted I had the honour to be serving on our local municipal council at the time, and our council also provided funds and helped make that deal happen.

But I need to say that this wouldn't have happened without the cooperation of the men and women who work at Chrysler and the men and women who are part of the Canadian Auto Workers, a great union with a noble tradition, working together to make the dream of automotive research happen in this country for the first time.


It is a great achievement for this province, it is a great achievement for this country and it is a great achievement for my city, Windsor. It is an example of the kind of progress we can make as a society and as a people if we work together, respect one another and recognize that harmonious labour relations are important to our individual communities and to our greater provincial and national economies.

We remain concerned today, as we were a year ago, as we were seven months ago, that this government's agenda of destabilizing labour relations ultimately will have severe consequences for our economy. The record of days lost to strikes in this province has been going down. The number of collective agreements that are signed without work actions, work stoppages, have been going up. It's only been since this government took office that the number of days lost to strikes has begun to creep up again. I know they don't take that seriously. They believe that what they're doing is in everyone's interests, and while we respectfully disagree, we want to remind them of a time not long ago when this province did not have the harmonious labour relations all of us would have liked.

Since coming to office, the minister has already dealt with the Occupational Health and Safety Act and the Ontario Workplace Health and Safety Agency. The government has appointed a task force that has brought forward recommendations that in our view undermine the government's ability not only to be part of the provision of adequate health and safety but to enforce its own statutes. The minister spoke today about her desire to improve enforcement of the Employment Standards Act, has spoken in the past of her desire to see better enforcement of health and safety and has said that health and safety is a top priority for her. Unfortunately, the actions of the government do not match the minister's rhetoric. We truly regret that, because we think there is an opportunity to make improvements, and we agree that we have to make the best use of limited resources today. Where we differ, where we part company with the government isn't in the direction we go but in how we do that.

The government has also begun to signal its intention with respect to workers' compensation reform which we believe will ultimately reduce compensation for the most poor and vulnerable injured workers in this province while delivering significant assessment savings to employers. While reducing the cost of the WCB is not in and of itself undesirable, it ought not to be done on the backs of those who are least able to afford it. Is it any wonder that so many people are nervous about any changes to labour legislation that this government and this minister propose?

What really is striking about the government's position is that they try to act like none of this is really happening, "Everybody agrees with this and what we're doing is easy to understand and makes infinite sense," but to see the whole picture you have to look not just at the amendments contained in Bill 49 to the Employment Standards Act; you have to look at the government's Interim Report on Business Planning and Cost Savings Measures, and we even find some small, albeit obtuse, information in the government's business plan document. Let's review those documents for a few moments, along with the government's expenditure estimates for the coming year in the Ministry of Labour, particularly in the employment standards division.

The government in its estimates is proposing to reduce overall operating expenditures significantly in a number of branches of the ministry. They're proposing to reduce approximately $37 million out of the previous estimates of $154 million. The ministry is talking about a large cut specifically in the area of labour practices, which is the branch of the ministry that has control over the Employment Standards Act.

When we saw the bill at first we said, "Okay, even if you can accept the minister's argument" -- which we don't -- "that this bill does not significantly impact on working people and on minimum standards in this province, what in heaven's name is the big rush on these other things?" The minister has failed to point out that the government's real agenda is to save millions upon millions of dollars from the employment practices branch, the employment practices operations of the ministry. I refer you specifically to page 160 of the estimates, where the government is proposing to cut out $14.2 million from a budget of $53 million. That's a large percentage reduction, I think 22% or 23% in one year.

While we acknowledge that in this day and age we have to make better use of our resources, again we see the government pursuing a policy that cuts money from those who protect the most vulnerable in our economy. This government, I would submit, has a shameful record in the area of labour relations, and the estimates are beginning to bear out what we said, health and safety operations being reduced $7.3 million. The minister says, "Well, you know, internal responsibility will take up the slack, and we're going to move some health and safety issues into the Workers' Compensation Board." Historically we've seen the need for an aggressive enforcement of the health and safety act, and the fact remains that the government continues to gut health and safety protection in this province.

The minister has talked about her desire and her commitment to maintain the number of health and safety inspectors we have. Again, the information we glean from other documents tells us, and causes us to be suspicious, that despite her intention, her noble goal, she simply will not be able to do it. I don't think anybody in this House, including my friends opposite, wants to see people exposed to greater risk in the workplace. I think all of us want to ensure that we take a proactive approach to reducing the incidence of accidents and injuries in the workplace, but again, as we explore the government's record to date, the facts don't meet the rhetoric.

The cuts that are contemplated for the ministry overall, the health and safety division, the operations of the health and safety division, in our view do undermine the government's ability to enforce its own legislation. That's why we get concerned when the minister said today that what she is attempting to do is to provide better enforcement with less resources -- again, in and of itself not a bad objective, but the record just indicates to us that she cannot live up to that kind of commitment.


I wanted to review for a moment the government's Interim Report on Business Planning and Cost Savings Measures and look at the government's own numbers in the health and safety area.

Savings in one year: $7.7 million. That's this year. Next year it's estimated to be $8.2 million. Dealing with the kind of fiscal situation the government is dealing with, we recognize and acknowledge that tough decisions have to be made. We do not dispute that. But again the rhetoric does not live up to the reality.

Employment Standards Act, here are the numbers: savings, 1996-97, $1.9 million; 1997-98, $2.4 million. The government has signalled its intention that it will amend the Employment Standards Act in the short term "to encourage compliance and simplify administration" -- the government words, not the opposition's -- and "reduce the number of staff required for enforcement."

The minister has put forward a number of so-called operational amendments to the act designed to simplify it. When looked at in a cursory fashion, one could say that. But when you look at it in light of what is said by the government in other documents, in fact what they are doing is reducing the number of people who will be available to enforce the act and undermining the ministry and the government's ability to enforce its statutes.

That's where we part company with the minister. We don't disagree with the notion of looking at options for improving enforcement of the act. The words and the actions simply do not correspond.

As I begin my discussion about the amendments to the act itself, we look at the broader context that these amendments have been brought forward in. Indeed, the government is roughly a quarter of the way through its first mandate. It has been active and has pursued a vigorous agenda in the field of labour relations, an agenda that we simply do not agree with. So when the minister expresses her surprise at the concerns that have been expressed by the opposition -- and the opposition, by the way, has been reflecting concerns that are being expressed across the province. Indeed, there's anxiety, I would submit to you, in the business community around the Employment Standards Act. Whenever you start to tamper with the Employment Standards Act, the business community naturally gets nervous.

That's the broader context: a government whose record betrays the minister's rhetoric; a government whose record to date in labour relations has been to undermine the ability of working people to organize and bargain collectively; a government that has systematically reduced its own ability to enforce its own statutes in a meaningful and substantive way; a government whose rhetoric in the area of improved enforcement simply, in our opinion, will not live up to the talk of the minister.

I'd like to turn my attention to and review for a few moments the specific amendments to the legislation itself. The government has proposed a number of amendments to the act which vary in terms of their individual significance but which, taken together and taken in the context of the government's broader labour agenda, represent in our view a significant reduction in workplace protection, most importantly for unorganized, vulnerable workers.

I think it would be fair to submit that the government's views about vulnerable workers are that they can be well protected in a system that sees employers and employees working together, and were that the case, we might even be able to support parts of this bill. But we saw just last week in the United States, and we've heard examples here just recently, that indeed sweatshops still exist, particularly in large urban areas. We know unequivocally that many workers in this province are vulnerable. That is not to suggest that it is the vast majority or that most employers in this province are not good employers, because it's our experience and our view that by far and away the employer community in this province particularly is a good community.

The Employment Standards Act and its regulations have been designed to protect those workers who do not enjoy the kind of protection that many of us do in our lives and in our jobs. Just the volume of cases alone that the branch is dealing with suggests to me and suggests to others that a problem still exists here, and any attempt, like Bill 49, to reduce those protections ultimately will lead to more vulnerable workers and to worsening workplace situations for those people.

We do recognize, as I said a moment ago, that the vast majority of employers in this great province act in good faith and provide their employees with compensation packages that often exceed the minimums contemplated in the act. In regulating workplaces, we are also cognizant that Ontario must not pose undue costs or burdens on employers, particularly in light of globalization and the much freer movement of capital.

The minister spent some time speaking about Ontario's place in the larger global economy, and she was right to do that, because that is what is motivating governments at all levels in terms of their labour practices and policies, in terms of their economic policies. But the real paradox that confronts employment standards policy at this juncture in our history is the paradox that increasing global competition necessitates more competitive labour markets, yet it is this very reality itself that forces us to think long and hard about what our employment standards ought to be. We recognize that these global forces are there, but we also recognize that because of that, we need tough, enforceable employment standards legislation.

It is our view that western developed economies must not play lowest-common-denominator politics in terms of our employment standards. Rather we must rely on productivity growth -- growth which, by the way, need not be hampered by government regulation of labour markets -- and a greater global desire to improve working conditions in poorer and less developed world markets and economies.

The minister calls most of these changes, indeed all of them, administrative and procedural in nature. The government has said and argued as best it can that the changes will bring greater simplicity, promptness and effectiveness in the enforcement of the act, more flexibility in the resolution of complaints and greater self-reliance of workplace parties. As I said earlier, taken together, the proposed amendments in fact reduce the province's ability to establish minimum labour standards.


The minister has acknowledged that these amendments are the first round of amendments to the act and that a complete overhaul of the act is expected to be completed in 1997. Indeed we've been told that the government intends a white paper this fall, which will be studied and reviewed. Members of the government will know that over time there have been other studies around aspects of the Employment Standards Act. Indeed we agree with what the minister said, that the Employment Standards Act is in need of a review, the Employment Standards Act is in need of an overhaul. In fact, the minister refers to what we currently call the Employment Standards Act, but members opposite will know that employment standards minimums were originally set in the mid-1930s and were designed to prevent unions from coming into Ontario. So there is a long history, and the minister is right: The act has never had a complete overhaul and does not, in our view, reflect the reality of the modern workplace.

The amendments, as I indicated earlier, have been brought forward to enable the government in the short term to meet its 26.6% reduction in this year of the employment practices operations of the ministry. If what you want to do is close down your ministry, then say so. If you want to lessen your ability to protect vulnerable workers, then say so. Don't try to suggest somehow that, doing this all in one fell swoop in one year, you're going to be able to replace the protections enjoyed by workers now with some loosely defined "most cost-effective" manner.

The government's amendments address the following:

The government suggests they will permit employment standards officers to focus on the resolution of claims, in part by permitting the use of private collection agencies. Again we're not surprised by that. The government has an agenda for privatization; they've been absolutely clear about it. We get nervous about who they privatize to, when they privatize, what the process for privatization will be, and what will be the ability of the private sector to deliver the service in a more cost-effective way than the government. The government's reasoning for doing this is that employment standards officers today do some debt collection, and it's the view of the government, a view we are not unsympathetic to, that employment standards officers ought not to be bill collectors but ought to be employment standards officers.

We will be watching closely not just this but the Minister of Finance, who's also been given responsibility for the privatization initiative. We will be watching very carefully to see how the government conducts itself in these affairs, because privatization is part of a much larger picture, and it makes those employment standards officers over at 400 University -- I remember that the former member for Sudbury East, Elie Martel, used to refer to it as the swamp. Those employment standards officers, and we've talked to them, are nervous. They're nervous because of what's said in the business plan, they're nervous because of what's contained in the business planning and cost-saving measures, and they're nervous because of what they know is in the estimates -- just as we are nervous. They're nervous because they recognize, as we do, that Bill 49 represents a reduction of protection for the most vulnerable workers in this great province.

The government is proposing to alter limitation periods and notice provisions for claims by reducing the period for making a claim and for which recovery can be sought; by clarifying limitation periods during which a referee must be appointed, an order must be written or a refusal to issue an order must be made. They're also proposing to alter those periods by extending the period to appeal an order to pay.

The government intends to establish maximum amounts for which an order to pay can be written, with the exception of claims for violations for which reinstatement might be ordered.

The government proposes to permit prescription by regulation of minimum amounts for which an order to pay can be written.

The government proposes to require claimants to elect either a ministry remedy or civil remedy through the courts, with the exception of claims for violations for which reinstatement might be ordered.

The government proposes, where collective agreements are in place -- and this is part of the most difficult amendment -- to require the use of grievance procedures to arbitrate employment standards claims rather than seek ministry remedies and to allow -- and this is where we need to spend a few minutes -- parties to negotiate certain standards which exceed the act as a package; that is, we will allow unions and companies, where there's a union shop, to negotiate exceptions to the minimum standards currently established in law and in regulation.

Knowing how my colleagues opposite think, they think: "Well, the union is there to protect them. These unions are strong and they're big, and they will do the work much better than employment standards officers ever could or ever have." But there's a fundamental flaw in that kind of logic. What the government fails to recognize is that those unionized businesses do not operate in a vacuum. In this province in our largest sectors we have pattern bargaining, we establish patterns. If somewhere we establish a pattern that a standard can be exempted, for instance, hours of work, what makes the government think the unorganized shops aren't going to be looking for the same kind of exemption, based on competitive conditions?

The government is cognizant of competitive conditions. The government has spoken well and eloquently on many occasions about the need for us to be competitive. I suggest to the government that you apply that very same logic to labour markets and recognize that if you grant an exception, be it a negotiated exception, you're setting a new lower standard which competitors or people in other industries that may not be organized will want.

You fail to address the issue of duress. You fail to recognize that government has a legitimate role in establishing law where duress could be used even against a union. As much as I know that many in the government think unions are something bad and they have too much strength, the fact is, no matter how good a union negotiator is or how much success they've had, there are limitations and constraints placed on their ability and duress is used. Duress is used by employers, particularly large multinational employers.

We see in Windsor today great anxiety around the General Motors trim plant. We see the same anxiety in St Catharines, a large multinational. These are organized plants with an effective and strong union with deep roots in our community, and they're nervous. They're fighting and they're going to win this at the bargaining table. But just because there's a union it doesn't mean companies can't impose duress. We collectively ought to recognize that government has and should play a role in preventing the use of duress not only against unorganized and vulnerable workers but against unions.


The government proposes to clarify Employment Standards Act standards, remove what they call superfluous provisions, and correct drafting errors in both English and French.

They propose to ensure access of employment standards officers to electronic records.

I suppose if they had stopped there, we might be able to accept it. We might be able to say: "Yes, Bill 49, go ahead. We recognize and we believe too that we ought to balance our budget." Had you stopped there, had you stopped at saying, "We'll permit the electronic filing of complaints and permit notice to be served by verified delivery, including facsimile," we could have supported that, no problem. This would have been dealt with the first day and you'd be well on your way to saving at least part of the money you're proposing to save in your estimates, in your business plan and in the interim report on business planning and cost-saving measures.

But you know and we know and my colleagues and friends in the third party know that this is more than that, a lot more than that. It's a lot more than that when measured in dollars and cents. It's a lot more when measured in terms of the number of employment standards officers who will be present in this province to help ensure greater protection for vulnerable workers. You know that and we know that, so your actions don't match your rhetoric yet again.

We've had quite a bit of response to Bill 49 to date. I'd like to review what some of those have said and some of the points that have been raised that I think are particularly compelling.

The Employment Standards Work Group released a document May 22. They said this isn't simple housecleaning, that there are very substantial changes. This is a group of experienced practitioners in the field, labour leaders, and they say this bill "will force workers to choose between their jobs or their rights." I agree with them; they're absolutely right. They say this bill is "a gift" -- these are their words -- "to employers who violate the Employment Standards Act," and again, based on what they've done on minimum provisions and so forth, we agree with them. They say this bill sets the stage for laying off 45 employment practices branch staff, and we think they're right. The government has said how much they want to save in their document, and they've said how much they want to save in their other documents. I have outlined those numbers; there's no need to go through it again.

They've said it "wipes out the floor of basic workers' rights for both non-union and union workers," and we agree with them. I just suggested to you the logic which the government fails to see and the real inconsistency the government experiences in its own thinking patterns in the whole issue of competition, in the whole issue of competitive markets, because competition is prevalent not only in broader economic markets but in labour markets.

The bill caps the amount a worker can claim against an employer to $10,000, and then it suggests, "Well, you can seek a civil remedy." But the reality is that those vulnerable workers will not have access to a civil remedy. Because of the cuts you have made to legal aid, they will not necessarily have access to a lawyer.

"The amendments propose to shorten the period a worker can complain and leaves the Ministry of Labour's slow investigation time limits untouched." This group is arguing that there should be improvements to the act, and we agree. Those are the types of improvements that ought to be debated and ought to be discussed right across this province before we make arbitrary changes without consultation and without thought.

"These amendments tell poor and low-income workers to go to court," as I said, when they will not necessarily even have access to money to pay for a lawyer.

I want to review in more detail their concerns. I want to review for a few moments some of their concerns --

Mr David Christopherson (Hamilton Centre): On a point of order, Madam Speaker: I don't believe that there's a quorum present and I do know that everyone should want to pay attention to the honourable member's remarks.

The Acting Speaker (Ms Marilyn Churley): Clerk, is there a quorum present?

Clerk Assistant and Clerk of Committees (Ms Deborah Deller): Speaker, there is a quorum present.

The Acting Speaker: The member for Windsor-Walkerville, please proceed.


The Acting Speaker: Order, please.

Mr Duncan: That's what I love, to be in front of 20 or 30 Conservatives trying to be rational in debate. It's difficult.

One of the facts this group talked about is the limitation period. The fact is that there will be a shorter complaint period for workers, who will still have to wait up to four years for the ministry to collect money owing. That's a real scandal in this province in this time period. It is, in our view, not the right direction to go in.

The act reduces amounts for a worker to claim; it sets minimums and maximums. We think that's the wrong direction to go in. It leaves fewer options for workers. Workers don't need fewer options; they should have more options.

When we talk about changes to the Employment Standards Act and I know when my colleagues in the third party talk about changes to the Employment Standards Act, we recognize there are things that ought to be improved for workers and we ought not to simply be reducing the options and rights that unorganized workers and organized workers have available to them under the act.

Private collection agencies will now have the right to intervene in employment standards settlements. I come from Windsor, which is across the river from a great American city where we see the consequences of the American, the neo-conservative, agenda. We see it every day. The collection agencies are infamous in Michigan and Texas and elsewhere. They're called bounty hunters in some places. They're infamous for their disregard for the law. That's why I said earlier that we'll be watching carefully how you privatize and who you deal with.

There are many things in this bill that we find offensive, as do other groups. I've just reviewed some of them with you. It is our contention and our view that we ought to be seeing a white paper on the Employment Standards Act. The government is absolutely correct when it argues that the act has not had a systematic and complete overhaul in many years. We support the opportunity for public hearings on those changes that are, in our view, long overdue. Indeed we looked at things like hours of work and mandatory retirement when we were in office. We explored hours-of-work issues, Sunday shopping has been a controversial issue over the years -- this act affects all of them.


We say to the government, take out the offensive parts of the bill. There are not a lot of them. Take out that offensive part and we'll give the other things to you just like that. You've said you're going to undertake these consultations in the fall and that you'll bring forward a full piece of legislation by early next year. Put those issues that are controversial into that review and we'll let this one go right away. The reason you're not doing that is contained in your estimates and in your business plans, because you are reducing your ability to enforce the statute substantially: measured in dollars, at least $16 million; measured in officers, 45, and who knows what the human cost is to those workers who will be less protected? That is what's motivating you.

When the minister says these are housekeeping measures, a lot of them are, and we urge the government to take out the very small part of the bill that is so offensive. We'll be prepared to travel across the province to have hearings on your white paper and ultimately on the changes that you bring forward to the Employment Standards Act. We suggest that you take out the sections that are offensive and we'll let the bill go through. We could probably support what's left. We will be ready for what's coming because we know what's coming. It's going to be the same kind of assault that we saw in the Labour Relations Act; it will be the same kind of assault that we have seen in occupational health and safety; it will be the same kind of assault that we are going to see in workers' compensation next week.

At the end of the day there will be winners and there will be losers, just as there are winners and losers in the revolution, and inevitably the losers will be the poor, the unorganized, those who are least able to protect themselves. The government will couch their changes in the rhetoric of the right: better efficiency; better use of public dollars. We understand the need for that, but we part company and we will fight you here, we'll fight you in Windsor, we'll fight you in the north when you reduce the protections available for vulnerable, unorganized workers and working people in general.

Take out the offensive part of the act. It's easy. We'll offer amendments to do just that so that we can get the bill through, so that you can begin to make those administrative changes that we agree will help to make the act more efficient. Take your proposals, take them out as part of your white paper and discuss them with employers, with working people and with people across this province. Make them part of the more substantive changes of the act. But we would suggest that you not undermine the protections we have come to know and try to suggest that you're not. It's not correct; it doesn't jibe with the rhetoric and the tone of your own documents.

I conclude in saying that we will support efforts that genuinely improve the enforcement of the act and give workers greater protection. If we can save money in doing so, all the better, but we will not and cannot support changes that undermine the protection we afford our most vulnerable working people in this province, and accordingly our party and caucus must vote against this bill.

The Acting Speaker: Are there questions or comments? I believe the Beaches -- I mean, the member for Beaches-Woodbine would like to comment.

Ms Frances Lankin (Beaches-Woodbine): Thank you very much. Yes, I'm from the Beaches and from the riding of Beaches-Woodbine.

I appreciate the opportunity to comment on the remarks of my colleague the member for Windsor-Walkerville. There are a number of issues he raised during his speech on this bill which I wish I had the time to refer to, but in particular his comments about the introduction of the competitive forces as a result of this bill and his suggestion that the government perhaps didn't recognize the nature of the element of duress that will be brought to bear in collective bargaining situations where you no longer have the employment standards provisions as a floor, as an absolute minimum set of standards, where you've introduced this flexibility. I appreciate him raising the point, but I beg to differ. I think the government recognizes full well the element of duress, which is the very reason why this is being introduced.

We see a government that has continued to put pressure on working people, to drive down wages through measures such as the cuts in social assistance rates, the freeze of minimum wage, doing away with pay equity, certainly introducing less sense of job security in the province, and now these changes to the very basic employment standards. To allow for provisions that could go below that drives us in a certain direction.

I will predict -- and I hope I'm wrong on this -- that when we see the full discussion paper come forward on the changes to the Employment Standards Act this summer, combined with the changes that are in this bill, you will see this province being driven in the direction of right-to-work provisions like the southern US states. We can see the effect that has had on those economies, the effect on working families -- the inability to have a sense of economic security for your future, for your kids -- and of course the erosion of the tax base that pays for services like health and education. That's the Common Sense Revolution that's been imported from the States; that's what we see in this legislation as well.

Mr John O'Toole (Durham East): It's a pleasure to respond to the member's statements with regard to Bill 49, the employment standards changes. First of all, they're long overdue. Having worked in a highly organized workplace, a union-organized workplace, it's my understanding that in the workplace there is an existing contract that prevails. The only thing is that there are other regulations, called employment standards, that also prevail. Some of those are in conflict with each other. The suggestion made here is that we can harmonize so that no less than the minimum of the employment standards is achieved by the local contract that prevails in the workplace, avoiding any duplication or misconception and allowing the workforce itself to determine those things that are optimum for their working situation and for the employer, to work out an optimum balance in the workplace and still achieve no less than the minimum of the employment standards.

Certainly in the auto sector, when they're dealing with fluctuation of demand, really what you're trying to do in the 40-hour workweek is achieve some balance so that you aren't overstaffed or understaffed.

I believe it really will create more jobs. It will make this a proper, attractive place to invest and a place that wants to do business in the economy of North America.

Things aren't the same as they were many years ago. You have to recognize that 90% of what we build and make in the manufacturing sector is exported. We're naturally competitive with a global economy, if not just the North American economy. Our main trading partner is the United States. To think we can put our heads in the sand and have standards that don't respect the total economy, the economy you're dealing in, is unrealistic, unachievable and unsustainable. I think there are some real gains for both sides of the equation in these changes.


Mr Baird: I enjoyed the honourable member's speech, as I always do.

Mr Ron Johnson: I enjoyed it.

Mr Baird: Some of my colleagues particularly enjoyed it. The member for Brantford was watching intently and I think learned a great deal, as he always does from the member's speeches.

The member didn't spend a terrific amount of time discussing the cap on what employment standards officers in the act would allow to be captured. It's going to be $10,000 under these amendments. There's no cap currently. That was changed in 1991 by my colleagues in the third party. It's amazing that when my colleague the member opposite was a senior political official with the Ministry of Labour the cap was $4,000, with a few alterations. It's very important to note that this government is increasing it by about 250% of what it was just a few short years ago when my colleague was a senior political official. We know from question period today that assistants to ministers are very senior officials with the members opposite.

Ms Lankin: Correct your statement; you're not increasing it.

Mr Baird: Increasing it from what it was in 1991. I'm the first to acknowledge that you changed it in 1991 in the New Democratic Party government.

I would indicate to the honourable member that we look forward to learning more about his views. We feel very strongly that this bill should go to public hearings in committee. We want committee hearings across the province and we really look forward to working very closely with the honourable member opposite over the next number of months. We look forward to travelling the province and getting broad consultation, which this government is always noted for; look forward to working with my colleagues opposite and members of our party in a harmonious relationship with workers across the province to build a better economy that will create jobs and encourage economic growth and investment.

The Acting Speaker: Further questions or comments? Seeing none, the member for Windsor-Walkerville.

Mr Duncan: I always enjoy my colleagues' responses, especially Mr Baird's. We do look forward to travelling. As much as we enjoy your company, I hope the minister will live up to her commitment and travel as well to places like Windsor and Ottawa and Thunder Bay and London and other great centres of this province to hear what people have to say, because you haven't done that very much. You certainly didn't do it on Bill 7. We forced you into it on Bill 26 and then you didn't even listen to a lot of what the people had to say. We urge you and we gratefully acknowledge your willingness to travel and hear the people on this very important piece of legislation.

We'll look forward to talking about workers' compensation reform all over the province as well, because we'll be there and we'll be talking about it. We'll be talking about it in a different way. We'll be talking about it in a way that will get the system working and protect injured workers and protect the most vulnerable people in this society. We're looking forward to it and we're looking forward to the minister joining us for those hearings because she hasn't spent a lot of time listening to people out there, outside of this place, very much.

The Acting Speaker: Further debate?

Mr Christopherson: I appreciate the opportunity to join in second reading debate on Bill 49. Like everyone, I initially was somewhat concerned when the minister ran into some difficulties in her opening remarks. That can happen to any of us, but I was pleased that it was only a minor throat irritation and nothing more serious.

Recognizing that, I am quite free in saying that I don't blame the minister for choking on this piece of legislation, because she should, not only in terms of its substance, but in terms of the process around it. There are some things that body language will say much better than words, and I think the minister choking on her comments about this bill is quite appropriate and needs to be characterized as such.

I also want to begin my remarks by pointing out that once again we see a government that has no one who can compare in terms of its ability to find creative Orwellian doublespeak. We've pointed this out time after time. The media point it out in terms of the names they attach to pieces of legislation and initiatives they take, wherein the title of the bill is virtually the opposite of what is contained. This is yet another example of that because Bill 49 is headed up as An Act to improve the Employment Standards Act. Other than a few housekeeping and clarifications that indeed are such, there are tremendous rights and privileges that workers in this province are entitled to that are being taken away.

I want to also point out that it's not just we in the opposition who are making this claim. One should remember that the minister stood in her place and talked about this bill being very innocuous, that it was merely housekeeping, minor in nature. I intend to prove during my time speaking before the Legislature that indeed the opposite is true, that there are significant and major changes to what many people consider to be the only real workers' bill of rights in this province.

The day that the legislation was introduced, Professor Pradeep Kumar of Queen's University in Kingston, Ontario, said, "The new law will dilute working standards across the board in the province of Ontario." He went on further to say, "I think the government is trying to weaken the labour movement in any way it can in the name of getting a level playing field with the United States."

Any suggestion that this is just the opposition's point of view in terms of what this bill is about I don't think stands up to the scrutiny. Look at what the experts are saying in the field, acknowledging indeed that this is an important piece of legislation, one that forced us in the New Democratic caucus to demand that the government either withdraw the bill or provide province-wide public hearings. The Premier and the minister continued in the early days after this bill was introduced to suggest that this was merely housekeeping and clarification and was a minor bill. By the end of the month, we had this government admitting that it was much more than that by virtue of acknowledging that there now will indeed be province-wide public hearings. That, in my opinion, is the government admitting they attempted to mislead the people of Ontario and that this is indeed a bill that has broad, far-reaching changes in this act as it applies to working people in this province.

I want to spend a moment talking about the process, because it's significant, I believe, when we watch how this government operates, particularly when they talk about democracy. They always talk up a great argument in democracy, but in all of their actions to date, from Bill 7 to the omnibus Bill 26 through every other piece of legislation, and now with Bill 49, we see a government firmly entrenched in anti-democratic ways.

What are the facts around the introduction of this bill? The week before it was introduced, the Minister of Labour met with Ontario labour leaders, one of them being Gord Wilson, the president of the Ontario Federation of Labour. The minister said to those labour leaders: "Look, here's what's going to happen. I have two things to tell you. One is that we're going to make major changes to the Employment Standards Act, but we won't be making those changes right away. We're going to begin a year-long review." There was discussion about the consultation process and there was an understanding and an agreement on that process -- not the substance of what will happen, but the process.

The second message from the minister to those elected labour leaders that day was: "I will be introducing next week," at a time, by the way, when most of the --

The Acting Speaker: The member from Hamilton Centre, take your seat a moment. The member for Durham East.

Mr O'Toole: On a point of order, Madam Speaker: I'm enjoying the member's debate, but my point of order is this. Is it appropriate that the official opposition does not have one member in the House?

The Acting Speaker: That is not a point of order. We just require a quorum. Thank you. The member for Hamilton Centre, continue.

Mr Christopherson: Thank you, Madam Speaker. Most of the labour leaders in Ontario indeed were in Vancouver at the week-long convention of the Canadian Labour Congress. They took the minister at her word when she said that this piece of legislation was merely housekeeping, minor in nature, nothing that anybody needs to be concerned about, and that quite frankly it should pass through the House quite quickly, possibly with the support of all the parties but certainly without any major uproar, and that the more significant changes wouldn't take place until the consultation process was completed.

The labour leaders, being the honourable people they are, took the minister, who's presumed to be an honourable member, at her word and thought nothing more of it. Then the bill was dropped on the floor. Did it have housekeeping measures and clarifications? Yes. Did it contain major, sweeping changes to fundamental rights that workers have in this province? Yes. Yes, it did, and I believe the proof of that is that this government now is forced into four weeks of committee work: two weeks of province-wide public hearings, one week here in Toronto and another week for clause-by-clause. If it weren't true that these were substantive changes, there's no way this government would have caved in the way it did. They did because they knew that the word and the integrity of the minister and indeed the entire government as it relates to their relationship with the labour movement in Ontario was on the line and they had no alternative but to acknowledge that: "Yes, you've caught us. There is much more there and we will go through the proper kind of process that one should have."


Further to that, the minister said a couple of days after the bill was introduced, and I'm quoting from Hansard, May 15 -- this is the minister speaking -- "I indicated to them," meaning the labour leaders, "last night when we spoke that, as we had always said we would do, we are quite prepared to take a look at public hearings and we will then determine how those public hearings will be handled." I interjected and said: "And they said what you offered wasn't enough. Tell the whole story." The Minister of Labour responded and said, "I will tell you they were very happy with my response."

I spoke with Gord Wilson, who had that discussion with the minister, and I can tell you he was anything but happy with the response. He made it very clear that a few days here in Toronto during the month of June was in no way adequate to meet the needs of proper public consultation in a democratic process with regard to the major changes that are contained here in Bill 49, yet the minister had the audacity to stand in her place and say that those labour leaders were happy with her response.

In fact, I'd like to quote from the news release that the OFL put out: "`The minister assured us in a meeting last week that her changes would affect only two areas, would be minor and of a housekeeping nature,' said OFL President Gord Wilson. `She said that all other matters would go to consultation beginning in June. She clearly has not kept her word. She has deliberately misled us.'"

That's the process that got us to the point we're at today. It's important for the people of Ontario to understand that just as this government ramrodded legislation through with Bill 7, which didn't just amend the Ontario Labour Relations Act but replaced the entire document, replaced the entire law -- and they did not have one day of public hearings. We watched what they attempted to do with the omnibus Bill 26 when, quite frankly, the opposition had no alternative but to hijack the House in order to force this government to recognize that there are democratic traditions and rights in this province that an elected government, regardless of how big their majority, has no right to run roughshod over.

That's what we saw as the history of this government in the few short months they've been in power, and they tried to pull it again. They tried to steamroller this piece of legislation through. They misrepresented or misled, certainly misinformed, the labour leaders when they met with the Minister of Labour, and they tried to tell the people of Ontario when they first dropped it: "Don't worry. It's all just the opposition rhetoric. Really, this is nothing. They're all upset about nothing again."

Where are we today? We've got four weeks of committee hearings. Two of those weeks are province-wide, across the province, and I assure the government members, every one of you, that you will be hearing loud and clear from the labour movement and from people who represent vulnerable workers and others who understand the kinds of rights that are being taken away in every single community we go into.

Obviously, that's why you didn't want to go across the province: You didn't want to face that. But that's exactly what's going to happen, and I assure you, the labour movement will make it very clear that this continuing assault on unions, on the labour movement, on the most vulnerable in our society and on workers' rights will not go unchallenged. This will be the first opening public volley, because the government did not provide the people of Ontario an opportunity to have their say on Bill 7 and attempted to do the same thing with Bill 26. They've finally been called on it, and now we're going to get a chance to talk about what this government tried to call housekeeping matters and minor changes.

I also want to point out that there's another ongoing process very much related to this bill and other rights workers have where you're denying public input: the changes you're looking at to WCB. You killed the royal commission that was holding province-wide public hearings, handed it off to a junior minister, and he disappeared with it.

Well, you're going to hear from injured workers on that score too, because this Saturday is Injured Workers Day in the province of Ontario. On Saturday morning at 11 am out in front of this Legislature, injured workers will be coming in front of their home of democracy and they will be showing this government how they feel about the attack on them, the attack on injured, disabled workers where you have not provided them with any opportunity for public input. They'll be here Saturday morning at 11 o'clock out in front of the Legislature, and anybody who's watching now who's an injured worker or knows of injured workers or cares about this issue, I implore you to be here. Join with those other injured workers and send a message to this government. What we've also learned with Bill 49 is that this government can be beaten. They can be shamed and forced and coerced into doing what's the decent, right democratic thing to do. If there are enough injured workers there on Saturday and if there are enough people coming out to these hearings across the province over the summer on Bill 49, I believe we can force you to at least mitigate -- I doubt we can derail your overall approach -- some of the damage and rights you have been taking away from the people of this province.

When we talk about what's going on in the Ministry of Labour and we look at Bill 49, we ask ourselves, why is this being done and why is it being done now? Why not just wait for all the things contained in here to be a part of the overall year-long consultation? I think that's a fair question. Why bother to do that right away if you're trying to find a process that the labour movement can live with, even though there is no expectation that they're going to agree with the continued slashing and burning and taking away of rights you'll do, but at least the process will be one that people can live with.

Ms Lankin: Why are they doing it?

Mr Christopherson: My colleague the member for Beaches-Woodbine asks that very fair question. The only thing I can see in here is that these changes are what the Minister of Labour needs to take tens of millions of dollars out of the Ministry of Labour. Why are they doing that? Because the Minister of Labour -- just like the Minister of Health, the Minister of Community and Social Services, and the Ministry of Environment, whatever is left of that ministry and the protection that used to be there -- has a quota to fill in terms of her contribution to pay for the infamous tax cut, that 30% tax cut that's going to see over half of the $5 billion it costs go to the top 10% of income-earners in the province.

That's what this is all about. And how are you going to do that? Well, the Ministry of Labour is a very labour-intensive ministry. They don't do a lot of transfer payments. A lot of it's made up of ensuring that the rights of workers, the bare minimum standards that exist, are enforced, that workers know what their rights are, know how to follow the procedures that will let their rights be protected, and in many cases assist them with that, particularly those who don't have benefit of a union contract and a grievance procedure and the protection that a union-organized workplace can provide to workers.


If you gut the rights and protections in there, it follows that you won't need as many people to explain those rights because there won't be as many left. You certainly won't need as many people enforcing them, because there's nothing there to enforce. That's where you're going to find the more than $40 million that you're taking out of the Ministry of Labour. That's what this is all about. There are going to be over 40 people, by our initial calculations, who are directly related to the employment standards practices branch of the ministry that deals with these very issues.

That's what you're going to get called on, as we go across the province and make the case, community by community, that that's what's going on, that's why you're doing this.

And this isn't the end of it. God, we keep waiting for the end of all this devastation. It never seems to come to an end. We have yet to see the Occupational Health and Safety Act amendments. I suppose you'll call that some kind of bloody improvement too. But where do we find you talking about opening up the Occupational Health and Safety Act? Right inside that business plan that shows where you're going to save more money, and you're going to save more money by taking away more workers' rights because then you don't need as many people to enforce rights that don't exist. That day is coming.

We see here today, with employment standards, that occupational health and safety is coming up next. That's why it's so important for people to support the injured workers this Saturday and it's important for all workers and vulnerable people to recognize that the agenda of this government is as anti-worker as we've ever seen in the history of this province -- ever, bar none. And you haven't even been there a year yet.

You know what really is devastating? That they'll walk out and be so proud of that fact, so proud of: "Look what we were able to do. He's right. We did all that in less than a year." That's the real rub, because we know what will happen to the most vulnerable in our society as a result of what you're doing.

One of the most important measures contained in Bill 49 is something I've talked about before. I've said: "Watch for this buzzword. It'll appear all over the place." Sure enough, there it is again: "flexible standards." They love "flexible," "streamlined." These are great buzzwords for: "Take away rights and guarantees and protection that workers have. Use these kinds of words." You did the same thing with Bill 20 when you took away the environmental protections that existed in this province.

Now we see flexible standards for what? Key areas. Bear in mind that the Employment Standards Act is most important for workers who don't have unions, because if you don't have a collective agreement, the only thing you've got is the law. There is nothing else. When you take away those rights protected in law, you're taking away the only protection that non-union workers have.

Who are the non-union workers in many cases? Those who are paid the least, those who have the worst working conditions, those who are exploited -- not by all employers. We've never suggested that. That's not the real world. In fact, I don't believe that of the majority of employers. But there are unscrupulous employers who will take advantage and exploit anybody they can in the name of the almighty buck. That's why laws like this were brought in in the first place: a recognition that unfortunately in this imperfect world those kinds of workplaces exist.

Within this charter of rights, this bare minimum standard, the absolute bottom rights that workers have, you're now starting to take them away and water them down. On this issue you are saying -- and in this case it's for unionized workplaces. But I want to, and I will in a moment, introduce the fact that I think this could ultimately affect non-union shops, from the minister's own words.

You're now saying that it's okay for unions to negotiate collective agreements that have standards below the bare minimum today entrenched in law that won't be there when you pass Bill 49. We're talking hours of work, public holidays, overtime, vacation pay, severance pay.

For a lot of the larger unions, they can blow off any attempt by employers to try to negotiate rights that are lower than the Employment Standards Act because they've got the strength to do it, they've got the expertise, they've got the money to hire the experts they need to take on the company in an equal fight at the bargaining table. This part of it really won't affect them much. I've heard some say that in some workplaces it might be a benefit. Don't know. But I do know that if one of the major unions in this province says, "Under no condition are we negotiating anything that's below the minimum standards," it's not going to happen, period, full stop. That's it.

What about the unions that are not as strong, smaller unions, isolated unions where maybe their strength is in other provinces in terms of their national membership? As a result of what you've done with Bill 7, you've weakened the ability of those unions to properly withstand the attack that will come at them as it does at the bargaining table all the time. That's what happens there. I've been there many times. That's the nature of the beast. That's what happens. The unions go in there and fight for as much as they can get, but it's meant to be a balanced, fair fight. Hopefully, it's all a verbal fight and takes place over the bargaining table. You get a collective agreement, as you do in over 90% of all negotiations. That's the end of it and you go on with providing jobs and making profits for companies so those jobs are secure.

But under Bill 7 you've made it much more difficult for a lot of unions to get organized and to survive after they've been organized. We saw what happened with the OPSEU strike. That was because you took away successor rights. That was the main issue in that strike. You didn't run on that platform in the election. There's nothing on it in the Common Sense Revolution. It was in Bill 7 where you had no public hearings and you took away those rights that those workers had, that they were entitled to. As a result, we had one of the ugliest, meanest strikes this province has ever seen -- blood right out in front of this building.

Interjections: Oh, come on.

Mr Christopherson: You might not like to hear that, but that's what happened. There's now a public inquiry into what happened there. If you hadn't introduced Bill 7, that wouldn't have happened.

Look at what's going on in the lockout at the Jockey Club. There's a lockout that gets uglier every day, and the main reason that's allowed to happen is because you legalized scabs. That's why.

A lot of smaller unions that maybe aren't as strong as the Canadian Auto Workers or the Steelworkers or OPSEU are going to be facing pressures like they've never seen before. If you've got workers out on a picket line for three, four, five months, they're scared, they don't know how they're going to provide for their families, they're fighting for minimum rights, and all they ask is that it be a fair and equal fight. Because of your changes in labour laws, that's not possible.

Before where we may have seen a demand for concessions, a demand for a cutback in pay or a change here and a change there that under any other condition they would never do, because they're in a tough spot they have to give in to get an agreement which you've made much easier for employers with your Bill 7. It's much easier for that to happen now as the result of the ability to negotiate standards that are below the law in those kinds of circumstances.

I predict we're going to see unions signing collective agreements after terrible, horrible things happening on a picket line, with a prolonged period of acrimony and division and -- I hope not -- possibly violence as these innocent strikers are watching people go in every day and take away their jobs. I don't imagine they're too proud of it either, but they're probably in a predicament as a result of some of the other cuts you've made and they've had to make a personal decision that I may not agree with, but I refuse to believe they're just anti-union workers eager to see a union and other workers decimated. I refuse to believe that.

Now at the end of the day that collective agreement could contain not just concessions, not just a lack of any improvement or increases, but standards that are below Ontario's bill of rights for workers. That's where we are. That's how we see the possibilities under Bill 49. Backbenchers -- been there -- it sometimes takes them a while to understand everything that's going down, but certainly the minister and the cabinet know the implications, and if they don't, they shouldn't be there; they understand what's going on. That's what's possible with Bill 49.


As we start down that slippery slope of standards below the minimum that has been guaranteed, that is guaranteed today but won't be if you pass this law, then it becomes more and more frequent that we see workplaces that have standards below the minimum. In this government's drive to have a level playing field with the American right-to-work states and Third World nations in terms of wages and health and safety protection, environmental protection, as you see that as the way we're going to compete, we're going to see more and more non-union employers saying: "I may not have a union but I've got a workplace down the road that does similar work to me and they're not paying any attention to this any more. They managed to beat the union down and get standards below this. Hey, I want a level playing field."

We know what happens when this government hears "level playing field." They prick up their ears, particularly if they're hearing it from the employer's side. They don't listen quite as well when they hear it from any other side; that's the side they like to listen to. That level playing field suddenly becomes the issue that non-union workplaces look to.

Some say, "How can that be?" I'd be the first one to say: "How could that be? How could you possibly have any kind of negotiation if there's no union? What's the method? What's the vehicle? How does it work?" Interestingly enough, on the occasion of introducing Bill 49 the minister was in a scrum just outside the House and Thomas Walkom of the Toronto Star asked: "Is it possible in a non-union shop to bargain away Christmas or overtime or whatever? Is it possible to change the minimum standards?" The Minister of Labour responded, "I guess there would be that opportunity to make those changes." Mr Walkom said: "In a non-union shop? How would you go about doing that?" The minister responded: "Obviously that's something we would need to take a look at. Obviously there is the opportunity to make some changes."

When I was given the transcript of that scrum, two thoughts occurred to me. One was that the minister doesn't know what she's talking about, is just completely off base on this, the pressure of the scrum or lack of full information or lack of understanding, or is totally incompetent. That's one answer. The other answer is that there are those kinds of discussions, that maybe this government likes the idea that there would be an alternative way for the voice of workers as a collective to be recognized that doesn't include that awful thing this government dislikes so much: unions.

I can't imagine that this is the reality but I can't think of any possibilities, when I look at these quotes, other than those two. If we give the Minister of Labour the respect her office entitles her to, if we don't believe that she's incompetent and doesn't understand the basic fundamentals of how the labour movement negotiates collective agreements in the province, we're left wondering: "Is that what's on, is that what's going on in the background? Is that going to be another Bill 49 down the road, with some other kind of Orwellian doublespeak title, but the reality is that it's one more attempt to water down and weaken and dilute, quite frankly destroy, a strong, vibrant, important democratic labour movement in this province?" The questions are asked and there are no satisfactory answers.

The government is also, in this document, talking about a shorter complaint period. The minister gave some smarmy comment today about streamlining things again and probably said something about flexibility. I'm sure that was in there somewhere; it usually is.

But the fact of the matter is that this government is now saying the right that workers have to go back two years from the time they become aware of their rights being violated in the workplace is going to be cut to six months. That means that if you've been shortchanged on your vacation pay or you've been shortchanged on overtime pay or you're being forced to work longer hours than you should, if there are other rights, particularly in the area of money that you're owed, that you've worked for, if it's more than six months, tough. Not "Go somewhere else" or "Here's a different process" or "We've changed this." Your right, the absolute right that you have -- anybody watching right now, you have the right today, under the existing law, to go back two years, because often it takes you a while to become aware of it. Particularly if it's a non-union shop and you don't have union stewards and others enforcing your rights in a collective agreement, it might take you that long.

But one of the things that happens quite frequently is that many of these are the most vulnerable people who are borderline being exploited in the workplace, and quite frankly they're afraid to say anything. In the majority of cases they don't file complaints with the Ministry of Labour until after they've been fired, because at that point they've got nothing to lose. That's the reality, and you have said to those workers: "If it goes beyond six months, tough. You're just out of luck. You don't have those rights."

And yet there's the bill. It says, "An Act to improve the Employment Standards Act." Go tell that to somebody who could lose a year and a half of wages because of a change you made in Bill 49. I defy any government member to go and explain to that worker how their rights in this province have been improved, because my colleagues and I would be quite prepared to show them how that loss of rights was all part of a cost-cutting measure that was made to pay for a tax cut that should never be happening at this time at all. We're prepared to make that case and will make that case in every community that we visit, now that you've been forced into holding democratic, province-wide public hearings.

That's the kind of thing we're going to talk about when we get out across the province on Bill 49, and you can bet that when you finally table your reform of the WCB, that's the kind of thing that injured workers are going to be talking to you about in terms of taking on your argument that you're improving things for the benefit of injured workers, or in this case the bill of rights for workers. The only thing that stands between them and absolute exploitation is being improved.

We're going to take you on, but more importantly, the workers of this province and people who care about workers of this province are going to take you on, and they're going to do it in every community we go to. And at the end of the day, especially those of you in the back benches, you're going to feel a whole lot different about standing behind this bill and the opening of the Occupational Health and Safety Act and the reform of the WCB. You just watch what happens to your attitude as you begin to see truth hit you in the face, because you can't hide from it like you can in here.

I would note the time of the day, Mr Speaker, and suggest an adjournment of the debate.

The Speaker (Hon Allan K. McLean): Thank you. It being almost 6 of the clock, this House stands adjourned until 1:30 of the clock next Monday.

The House adjourned at 1800.