36th Parliament, 1st Session

L086 - Tue 11 Jun 1996 / Mar 11 Jun 1996

















































The House met at 1332.




Ms Annamarie Castrilli (Downsview): I'd like to congratulate the Attorney General on yesterday's victims' rights announcement. An automated notification system is a significant step towards ensuring that people who have suffered at the hands of criminals are able to enjoy life without constant fear of reprisal. The onus of such a system, however, should be on the justice system and not the victim.

Yet it is unfortunate that it has taken more than two years to identify meaningful initiatives for the funds accumulated through the victim fine surcharge. Each day in this province the number of victims increases. Each day the need grows for additional assistance, support and understanding.

Today we designate June 11 as the Annual Day of Commemoration for Victims of Crime. In doing so, we recognize the adversities, the challenges, the constant emotional struggles that victims in this province must endure.

We as a society must work together to battle crime: to protect our neighbourhoods and individual freedoms. This is a day we honour the courage and perseverance of all victims in Ontario and indeed throughout the world.

However, a day of commemoration is not enough to make up for the trauma the victims have tolerated. We must seek out innovative, meaningful and substantive ways of dealing with victims' rights. We must do all we can to lessen the hardships of victims. Let this day not be merely lip-service and let us never forget our obligation to victims of crime.


Mr Len Wood (Cochrane North): Today I want to congratulate the Attawapiskat First Nation on the grand opening of the water and sewer sanitation system, as well as the Vezina Secondary School technology wing, in Attawapiskat on June 3.

The new water and sewer sanitation system will provide the long-awaited provision for running water in this community, greatly improving the quality of life. This sewage system will serve the community of 1,500 residents and 232 households with a dependable source of potable water and reliable disposal of sewage. The opening of the Vezina Secondary School technology wing will bring vital technology programs to students in this area.

Financed through federal, provincial and first nation resources, the two projects represent $18.4 million worth of improvements to infrastructure and education. These projects were, in part, funded by the NDP government. The water and sewage system received funds from the Ontario home retrofit program which provided indoor hookups to the water and sewer lines.

When I first ran for office back in 1987 for Cochrane North, there was no water or sewage system in Attawapiskat. Now almost every house is serviced.

Clean water is a basic right and my government can be proud of this accomplishment, as can the community of Attawapiskat. I want to also congratulate Chief Ignace Gull and the band council over the last couple of years for pushing very hard to have these projects completed.


Mrs Margaret Marland (Mississauga South): This weekend, from June 14 to 16, the village of Port Credit will celebrate our ninth annual Riverfest, Port Credit's festival by the Credit River.

This event was begun by the Port Credit Business Association as a family-oriented community festival to bring together local residents and make them aware of the wonderful variety of stores, services and restaurants Port Credit has to offer.

The festival has grown into a major carnival, which includes a midway, children's village, petting zoo, clowns, wagon rides, live entertainment, giant sidewalk sale, pancake breakfasts, beer garden, bake sale, baseball tournament, bed races and a tug of war. Best of all, Riverfest is free.

The Port Credit Business Association, which continues to organize the event, works closely with Happyland shows and a variety of community groups. Congratulations to Syd Silver, the Riverfest chair, and the members of the organizing committee who represent the Credit Valley Lions, Ontario Friends of Schizophrenics, Credit Valley Civitans, Mississauga Centennial Civitans, St John Ambulance, St Andrew's Presbyterian Church, the Boys and Girls Club of Peel, Peel Regional Police and the Family Awareness Centre, as well as the Port Credit Business Association.

We invite people from around the Golden Horseshoe to join us for a fun-filled weekend at Riverfest. Discover Port Credit, Mississauga's dynamic village on the lake.


Mr Mario Sergio (Yorkview): One thing that is becoming painfully clear to many graduating students and unemployed people in this province is that despite the tax cut the government's plan to create over 725,000 jobs simply won't happen. They won't even come close.

The latest unemployment numbers reveal that unemployment is increasing. The latest social assistance numbers are also increasing, and many students entering the workforce, looking to find either full-time or summer employment, are finding that hope and opportunities are fading.

This is the real deficit -- the jobs deficit.

The Harris government's credibility rests upon its commitment to create 725,000 jobs by the end of its mandate. Yet with every projection, even when you factor in the tax cut, the numbers show this government will fall some 300,000 jobs short of reaching its jobs target.

This government should be taking the lead in job creation, putting forth a strategy which is designed to put young people back to work, while helping those on social assistance find the right skills necessary to find a permanent job. Until they do so, the real deficit -- the jobs deficit -- will continue to grow and any economic recovery will be hampered.



Mr Peter Kormos (Welland-Thorold): This Conservative government launches yet another attack on families and communities by its abandonment -- no, its sabotage -- of cooperative housing here in the province of Ontario.

Across this province communities have worked together in the spirit of cooperativism and built homes for themselves and their neighbours and redesigned neighbourhoods and communities to provide safe and affordable places in which their children can grow up.

In Welland alone we have as many as 300 families living in cooperative housing. We have cooperative housing developments that now have been investing in their homes for 17 and 18 years. Yet this government, these Tories who have no interest whatsoever in the welfare of those same children and families and the sustenance of that same level of affordable housing have now abandoned -- no, I say sabotaged, because we know what their goal is. Their goal is to see the privatization of cooperative housing, just as their goal is to see the privatization of Ontario Hydro, the Liquor Control Board of Ontario, education and health care.

Indeed we are witnessing an attack on the efforts of young women and men and their children as they worked and invested in their homes, as they built their communities. They, I tell you, are not going to tolerate this sort of attack. They are going to fight back and ensure, along with hundreds of thousands of other Ontarians, that this government never sees the light of day of a second mandate and doesn't persist long enough to continue its destruction of the assets of --

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


Mr Leo Jordan (Lanark-Renfrew): The sixth annual Hershey Canada youth track and field meet took place in Smiths Falls on Saturday, June 8. Over 630 participants aged nine to 14 took part in the meet aimed at promoting a winning attitude and healthy lifestyle.

This year marks the first time that Ontario participants will be eligible to move on to Hershey's track and field youth program's first-ever North American final. Between five and 25 participants from Ontario will be flown to Hershey, Pennsylvania, for the national final weekend, as thousands of American participants have done since the meet began in 1975.

Ontario participants will be selected from four meets being held this year in Carleton Place, Nepean, Kingston and of course the one in Smiths Falls, the home of Hershey Canada. These participants will help make up the 60-member team to represent region 6, which includes several New England states, one of eight regions participating in the national finals.

I would like to thank Wilf Stephan and Pat Kilgore from the Smiths Falls plant, and the entire Hershey corporation for their dedicated support to youth programs both in Smiths Falls and across North America. I would also like to personally thank all participants, volunteers and sponsors for making Saturday's meet another huge success, especially Jamie Schoular.

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


Mr Dwight Duncan (Windsor-Walkerville): Given all their failures, we think some ministers ought to be put in summer schools.

What better example to teach our children than the image of education minister John Snobelen having to repeat his freshman year because he failed to meet the demands of the curriculum? Snobelen receives an F because he slashed school board budgets by $400 million, without giving them the necessary tools to protect the classroom.

Snobelen could be joined by Dave Tsubouchi, who deserves an F for telling welfare recipients to barter for tuna and for approving a welfare regulation that threw thousands of disabled people off welfare.

An F for Jim Wilson for cutting health care by $1.3 billion and for instituting user fees on the poor and seniors in this province to help recoup some of their own mismanagement.

Al Palladini has failed to maintain our highway infrastructure, cutting transportation funding at a time when our roads are in rapid deterioration.

Al Leach has failed to inform tenants of his true intentions with respect to rent control, so now they live in constant fear of losing their very basic rights.

Charles Harnick and Bob Runciman have failed to protect our justice system and our streets, cutting crown prosecutors and the size of local police forces, and proposing to stop prosecuting certain crimes like break-and-entry.

The entire Tory --

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


Mr Gilles Bisson (Cochrane South): To the Minister of Transportation and the rest of this assembly I would like to report that, as the minister knows, a decision has been made by his government, namely, by the Minister of Transportation, to close down the travel point offices of the Ministry of Transportation throughout all of Ontario and those small communities who frankly have just those offices in many cases to be able to get services from the Ministry of Transportation and others. For communities like Iroquois Falls, Smooth Rock Falls, Matheson and Englehart, it means those people, in order to get drivers' tests, will not be able to get them in their communities any more and will have to go outwards to places like Timmins and Cochrane to get them.

I want to remind the Minister of Transportation, it was a Tory government in the 1970s that in its wisdom said that you had to open these offices so that people didn't have to travel to communities like Timmins and Cochrane to get those services and that it made perfectly good sense back in the 1970s to do that.

Minister, you know and I know and the community knows there's not a lot of money to be saved by doing this. I ask the minister very simply to make sure that in making this decision they take into account what happens with those communities, because frankly, they'll be left high and dry and I don't think anybody's best served.

I also want to tell you, Minister, that the community of Iroquois Falls, through Mayor Graham and his council, is prepared to work with you to find solutions that will keep those services in the community of Iroquois Falls and even looking at the possibility of sharing some of the rent or giving up the rent in its entirety in order to offset your costs. Minister, give a care about Iroquois Falls, give a care about Matheson and let's keep those offices open.


Mr John O'Toole (Durham East): It's a privilege to rise today to recognize an important historic event in my riding of Durham East. On June 2, I had the honour of attending the official opening of the Rotary park and dedication of the Colville Memorial Clock Tower in Bowmanville.

The Colville Memorial Clock Tower was erected in remembrance of three brothers: William, age 25, Alexander, age 28, and John Colville, age 24, from Bowmanville. The Colville brothers were killed in action while serving as pilots overseas in the Royal Canadian Air Force during the Second World War. The memorial clock tower is dedicated to their memory.

This monument is a lasting tribute to the Colville brothers. It is also a reminder that many members of our community unselfishly went off to the war to give all Canadians a future in our country.

Members of the Legion, cadets and former RCAF members from across Ontario attended the ceremony. During the dedication, a fly-past by three historic Harvard aircraft took place.

The Rotary park site was first developed in 1931 as a park and was used for carnivals and special events until 1948, when an arena was built on the site, until 1988. The park was the heart of Bowmanville and its sporting community. In 1991, I was a local councillor for this area and worked with members of the community to develop this area into a park to meet new community needs. On June 2, 1996, the Rotary park was officially opened. It's wonderful to witness the dream come true -- like the Rotary motto, "Service above self."



Hon Ernie L. Eves (Deputy Premier, Minister of Finance and Government House Leader): Later today, I'll be introducing legislation to encourage the financial support of public institutions by individuals and the private sector through the establishment of crown foundations.

The Crown Foundations Act, 1996, will allow hospitals, libraries, cultural organizations and certain other public institutions which may qualify to establish crown foundations. It delivers on our budget commitment to encourage charitable donations to public institutions and to make it easier for these organizations to solicit donations. This bill allows the establishment of crown foundations by public hospitals, public libraries, the Ontario Cancer Treatment and Research Foundation, the Ontario Arts Council, the Royal Ontario Museum, the Art Gallery of Ontario and the Royal Botanical Gardens. Certain other public institutions may also qualify, such as the National Ballet of Canada, the Canadian Opera Company, the Toronto Symphony Orchestra, the Shaw Festival and the Stratford Festival.

I would like to acknowledge the presence in the gallery of many of the hospital and cultural institution representatives with us today, and I would like to thank them for their support.

Through this legislation, donations to these foundations will now receive the same treatment as donations to universities, which already have crown foundation status. Currently, when a taxpayer donates to these organizations, they can claim a credit of up to 50% of their income for each year. People who donate more than 50% of their income are not able to claim the full amount of the donation as a tax credit. However, when a taxpayer donates to the crown, the entire amount is eligible for a tax credit.


Our budget announcement on crown foundations was enthusiastically received. The response we heard was that this was the right direction to spur new ways of obtaining public support and to give donors a sense of ownership.

I would like to thank my parliamentary assistant, the member for St Andrew-St Patrick, Isabel Bassett, who held extensive consultations on ways to make it easier for public institutions to solicit charitable donations. This bill is based on Ms Bassett's findings, and I want to thank her for her good work and efforts.

As the government restructures, we are giving public institutions another tool to attract gifts and donations from individuals and the private sector. The Crown Foundations Act, 1996, encourages increased private sector support of these public institutions and the worthwhile services they provide to Ontarians.

Mr Gerry Phillips (Scarborough-Agincourt): I appreciate the announcement today, and I too welcome the volunteers in the gallery. I think they represent some of the very finest that Ontario has to offer and the organizations they represent do a terrific job for Ontario. I appreciate that they will need help in the years ahead.

I look at the government's plans on capital spending in the area of culture and citizenship, and I see that the government plans to cut its spending from $42 million to $6 million, so those organizations will need all the assistance that's possible.

The Ministry of Health is cutting its capital spending from $249 million two years ago to $167 million. The Ministry of Education and Training cut its capital spending from $420 million to $222 million. So the capital spending has been cut dramatically. The government already has announced that it plans to cut an additional $500 million a year from now.

As I say, these organizations, the hospitals, the arts community, the Royal Ontario Museum, the Art Gallery of Ontario, all of them doing fine work, do indeed require all the assistance that we can provide. This will be helpful, I don't doubt it. But Ontario is changing very dramatically, where our organizations are going to be, and going to have to be, extremely aggressive about seeking charitable donations.

Mr Gilles Pouliot (Lake Nipigon): Competing.

Mr Phillips: "Competing," my colleague said. They are competing, because you now have given these organizations the same opportunity as universities and colleges, and universities and colleges are going to be very much competing for these dollars.

I was once chairman of a foundation, the Scarborough General Hospital Foundation. I have some appreciation of the challenges of raising money. But I guarantee you that these organizations are all going to be competing for a very limited charitable dollar out there. This will help them; they'll be able to compete better. But the pot is not going to suddenly get dramatically larger.

The government has cut, as you can see, the Ministry of Citizenship, Culture and Recreation from $42 million to $6 million; an incredible cut. The Ministry of Health is cut from $249 million to $167 million, with similar cuts planned next year, already announced, of $500 million. So we are looking at an Ontario where it's been decided that some of these organizations that historically have been regarded as fundamental will need their funding from charitable donations.

The other thing the government has decided is that an increasing amount of its revenue will come from gambling. We see in the budget -- and I mention this just because we are heading down a different track in Ontario -- two years ago, the province raised about $600 million from gambling; now it's $1.3 billion, more than doubled, a dramatic increase, with 50 new mini-casinos opening up in the province. We are funding our services that historically we have said we will provide much of the funding for from all of us -- now it will come from gambling and from charity.

Perhaps that's the route we want to go, but it is happening because the government has decided to implement a 30% cut in taxes. We're seeing the implications of that for these organizations that are here today to support this move, and I understand why: because it will be helpful to them in raising money. But we are now saying to some of the organizations, "You head out and raise your money by going after charity," and that's a limited number.

Thank goodness we've got in Ontario organizations and companies and individuals who are prepared to donate significantly to charitable organizations, but increasingly we're looking to them and we're looking to people who gamble. I absolutely guarantee you that three and four years from now we will have a significant problem with gamblers in the province. You cannot raise now $1.3 billion, up from $600 million, and not expect to create some problems.

On today's announcement, certainly we will support this proposal, certainly we'll help our hospitals and many of our cultural organizations, but it is in my opinion a metaphor for the direction this province is heading in. I think we're going to find in two or three years from now people not all that pleased with the direction.

Mr Floyd Laughren (Nickel Belt): I agree with most of what my friend the member for Scarborough-Agincourt said, which I used to do occasionally even when he was on the opposite side. I actually welcome this announcement with some cautions to put forth to members of the assembly.

When we were in government we established foundations in the Ministry of Colleges and Universities in an attempt to get some money into that sector, so it would be passing strange for us to be opposed to the expansion of this to these other sectors -- not that contradictions are unknown in this place. I simply say to the Minister of Finance that he's not going to fool anybody if he thinks he can stand in his place and pretend that by moving towards foundations and allowing people to write off 100% of their income for the equivalent donation to these foundations, he has somehow made a commitment to the funding of these institutions. Nothing could be further from the truth.

When I was looking through the list at some of the cuts that have been announced over the next little while, the first one I came to of course was hospitals, where they've announced a $1.3-billion cut in the next three years. That's a lot of foundation money to take the place of that $1.3 billion. We know it won't happen. Libraries, $10.6 million -- proportionally, that's a huge cut. It's about 20% of funding to libraries, and I'm not sure what a foundation does for a library that doesn't exist any more because of the cuts.

When this government was picking on the ministries where they would make the biggest cuts, they knew what they were doing. They knew which ministers would roll over and do as they wished, including the Minister of Citizenship, Culture and Recreation at the cabinet table and the Minister of Natural Resources at the cabinet table. They knew who would roll over and not object to the very severe budget cuts in some particular ministries. The Ontario Arts Council, a $12.1-million cut; the Royal Ontario Museum, $2.1 million; the Art Gallery of Ontario, $1.2 million; the Ontario Science Centre, $700,000; the Royal Botanical Gardens, $175,000. That's of course not an all-inclusive list.

While the minister wants to put a good spin on this, as I said, I don't object to the establishment of these foundations as long as he's not pretending that it's more than that, as long as he's not trying to pretend that this will replace the very severe funding cuts that have occurred to many of those same institutions. That simply won't work.

While I too appreciate the presence in the gallery of some very important people to the life of this province, I suspect that as time goes by, while they will appreciate this, and I do too, they won't be fooled by the very substantial cuts that are taking place by this government. You cannot talk about building a better Ontario while you go about dismantling it at the same time. People are not going to be fooled by that.

The health of a province is not simply in the amount of revenues or the amount of debt it has, it's also in the quality of life in the province. That's where many of us part company with this government. You feel you can cut whatever you like simply to feed that insatiable appetite for the tax cut that you and your good friends have. That's what at the bottom of every single cut that's taken place in public services: the tax cut. It's got nothing to do with the deficit, absolutely nothing to do with the deficit. If you were preoccupied with the deficit --

Hon Mr Eves: You increased the debt from $32 million to $100 million.

Mr Laughren: Don't give me that hooey. If the Minister of Finance cared a jot about the deficit he would not be doing the tax cut. If you were serious about the deficit, you wouldn't be doing the tax cut, and you know that. That's what the rating agencies are telling you. That's what thoughtful people in this province are saying. This government cannot possibly be serious about the deficit when they take that amount out of revenues in the form of tax cuts. You're not fooling anybody as to who's getting the benefit of that tax cut either.

As I said at the beginning, I don't disagree with the extension of foundation status for these institutions. Simply stop trying to kid the troops.




Mrs Lyn McLeod (Leader of the Opposition): My first question is for the minister responsible for the greater Toronto area and the Minister of Municipal Affairs. As you know, transit integration was one of the recommendations contained in the Golden task force, and quite clearly the effective operation of the TTC is one of the keys to any integration plan.

Yesterday your colleague the Minister of Transportation said the Toronto Transit Commission was "the worst transit system in the country." I ask you, is that the case? Does the Minister of Transportation know what he's talking about? Is the TTC the worst transit system in the country?

Hon Al Leach (Minister of Municipal Affairs and Housing): My understanding is that this morning my colleague and good friend retracted or corrected his statements of yesterday, and I think the statistics on the TTC speak for themselves.

Mrs McLeod: I'm not surprised that the Minister of Transportation tried to soften his statement a little bit, take his foot somewhat out of his mouth, because I don't think the minister had any evidence at all that there was rampant waste in the TTC. I think he was saying whatever came into his mind at the moment to defend a bad decision to gut the funding of the TTC.

It was equally clear that your colleague the Minister of Transportation, making bad decisions, gutting TTC funding, had absolutely no idea about the economic impact of the decision he was making. You may be aware that I asked the Minister of Transportation yesterday how many jobs would be created by the completion of the Sheppard subway project. He had no idea and made a guess of some 2,000 jobs.

As a Toronto member in the cabinet, as the minister responsible for the greater Toronto area and hopefully concerned about its economic growth in future, why didn't you tell the Minister of Transportation that this project would create some 43,700 direct and indirect jobs? Why didn't you let him know how important this project was to the future of Metro Toronto and the greater Toronto area?

Hon Mr Leach: My colleague knows how important this project is and that's why we're funding it to the tune of $511 million. But I think my colleague is also correct that in any organization with close to 10,000 employees and a budget of close to $1 billion, there are efficiencies that can be made at any time. I know that the staff of the TTC are working on those efficiencies. Every organization should continue to strive to improve itself, as the TTC does on a continuing basis.

Mrs McLeod: I'm sure you're aware that as we speak in the House today, Metro is deciding the fate of the Sheppard subway. They are not going to be facing decisions related to finding some efficiencies in what your colleague has described as the worst transit system in the country. They are facing a decision forced on them by the fact that your government has cut $117 million from the Sheppard subway project and has cut another $100 million from their repair budget.

You are in a position to know the kind of decision facing Metro this afternoon. You know your government has forced them into an impossible kind of decision where they have to choose between expansion that they believe is needed and the necessity of having a well-maintained system for the safety of the public who ride that system.

You know there are some 43,000-plus jobs at stake here. I'm sure you are aware that the unemployment level in Metro has already increased from 8.9% to 9.5% in the last year alone. I'm sure you must be aware that this cut is incredibly shortsighted, that Metro Toronto needs the subway expansion because it needs the economic development and the jobs that would come with that, and it most definitely needs those 43,000 jobs that would come with that Sheppard subway construction and follow from that.

Minister, will you jump on that subway right now? Will you go down to Metro Hall? Will you tell them that your colleague the Minister of Transportation has made a mistake, that he was wrong to gut the funding for the TTC capital and repair budget? Will you do what you can at this last minute to save the Sheppard subway and all the jobs that project means?

Hon Mr Leach: There's absolutely no need for me to make that trip, because this government is committed to the building of the Sheppard subway. We are providing $511 million in capital funds, which we think is sufficient to cover our share. We are also committed to provide 75% funding for the state of good repair. I've talked to the TTC staff personally about it. I know it can be done. I know, with the expertise they have in that organization, they will strive to meet the challenges that face them with the funding constraints we have. But we are committed to the Sheppard subway, and the jobs the member across refers to will be there and will be carried out, and the development that's going to take place in North York will be there and will be carried out.


Mr David Ramsay (Timiskaming): I have a question to the Solicitor General. There is a new pattern of law enforcement in Ontario since Robert Runciman took over as the top cop and the chief jailer. Within the first 10 months of his administration, there has been a more violent and aggressive tone to how our law enforcement officials have acted in this province. From Ipperwash to the riot squad activities at Queen's Park to the recent Elgin-Middlesex beatings of our young offenders, you have established a new standard of law enforcement behaviour.

There are yet many unanswered questions as to what went on at the Elgin-Middlesex Detention Centre, and the reason for this is that you have not been totally forthcoming with all the information you have in your possession.

I have a copy of the medical records of one of the young offenders who was transferred to that institution on March 1, and not until March 6 was that young offender seen by a nurse. It would appear that the officials there at that centre had denied those young people medical attention.

It is very important that the minister release the second part of the Ontario child advocate report so the people of Ontario have the complete picture as to what went on at that detention centre on March 1. Minister, would you release that report?

Hon Bob Runciman (Solicitor General and Minister of Correctional Services): With respect to the way the member led into that question, I think most Ontarians would find it offensive in terms of reaching conclusions related to both the Ipperwash situation and the Elgin-Middlesex questions. There certainly are very serious allegations surrounding both those incidents, but to suggest they are a fait accompli, he's already found these people guilty, and I think most well-meaning Ontarians would find that kind of conclusion offensive.

With respect to the question surrounding the medical treatment or lack thereof, I indicated on a number of occasions that there is indeed going to be a thorough investigation of the treatment of young offenders to determine if those allegations are true. If that is the case, I think we will see, at the end of the day, charges laid. There is a criminal investigation under way, there is an internal investigation under way in terms of how the ministry responded throughout all of this process, and I think the actions taken are appropriate.


Mr Ramsay: That really has nothing to do with releasing the report, and we in the Legislature and the people of Ontario ask for that immediately.

Yesterday, one of the mothers of one of the young offenders involved in that incident said in a radio interview that she had phoned your office, and I quote, "many, many times, begging for help because I knew of all the abuse that my son and others were taking."

Minister, I know, because I've been in your situation as the Minister of Correctional Services, that when a personal staffer receives such a call, the first thing that happens is that the staffer basically warns the minister that something serious is afoot in his ministry. Do you still stand in your place today and deny that you knew of that incident; when young offenders were beaten at the Elgin-Middlesex Detention Centre on March 1, that you didn't know until the end of May of this year?

Hon Mr Runciman: I guess this is a back-door suggestion that I lied, and I think, hopefully anyway, the member knows me better than that. He may not always agree with me, but I think he knows that I am an honest person. Certainly when I have indicated that I was not aware of these matters until last week with respect to the allegations related to maltreatment of young offenders, that's the truth and nothing but the truth.

With respect to the suggestion by a mother that she made numerous calls related to treatment of her child, I want to say that we have searched our logs with respect to calls and there were significant numbers of calls. The member will remember this was during a labour dispute and we were dealing with enormous numbers of calls. We had one recorded call logged with respect to concern about treatment of young offenders following the Bluewater incident and the response from the parent in that particular situation was satisfaction with the response from the ministry team.

Mr Ramsay: Today I'll have to accept the minister's word on that. It only begs the question then that there is gross incompetence in your running of that ministry if you did not know for that length of time about an incident that serious.

I want to return to the events of last weekend at the Elgin-Middlesex Detention Centre. The minister said that his officials were there gathering information as part of his own investigation. This, I'd like to add, is while the police investigation is ongoing.

Minister, I have a copy of a letter that you sent to Chief O'Grady back in April 1993 in regard to the famous John Piper affair. At that time, you were very concerned that John Piper entered his office over the weekend to remove some files while there was a police investigation ongoing and you stated in your letter that you were very concerned about the potential for obstruction of justice.

Do you not think that authorizing some of the very same people who were involved in this incident to be going through the records over the weekend constitutes a conflict? If this is not total, gross incompetence, wouldn't this type of action during a police investigation constitute an obstruction of justice?

Hon Mr Runciman: I haven't changed my views with respect to the position I took related to the Piper investigation: I felt that was inappropriate. I indicated yesterday that I share the concerns of the member from London who raised these allegations in the House yesterday. Today I've asked the Attorney General to assign a senior legal counsel to assist in the internal investigation to ensure that all of these matters are looked at and thoroughly investigated.

There's some irony in the member for Timiskaming raising this issue, and I think he may have something of a short memory. I want to read from a 1988 column by Lorrie Goldstein in the Toronto Sun:

"Corrections Minister David Ramsay said yesterday he's dissatisfied with the way his ministry originally handled serious allegations of sexual harassment against senior ministry bureaucrats." I'm condensing this. "Ramsay said he plans to issue another directive stipulating his office should be notified in writing whenever such allegations are received through the deputy minister's office or the ministry's human resources branch."

I think it's quite ironic that this member is rising in the House today to question my competence, when he had more serious allegations with respect to advice given to the deputy's office which he was not made aware of.

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


The Speaker: Order.

Mrs Marion Boyd (London Centre): My question too is to the Solicitor General. I think, given what's just gone on, it's important for us to review the facts surrounding this whole issue at Bluewater and at Elgin-Middlesex.

On February 29, 52 youths were transferred out of Bluewater following the riot; 40 of those were transferred to Elgin-Middlesex Detention Centre, where they allege they were subjected to threats and physical assaults. On March 4, the child and family advocate who was investigating the incident at Bluewater informed your acting deputy minister about those allegations and about her concerns. According to her report, the young people had been prodded, struck, kicked, and there had been resulting injuries. On April 11, 1996, a correctional officer sent a letter to the superintendent at Elgin-Middlesex alleging that assaults had occurred and referring to staff fears about retaliation if those allegations were made public. Other staff reinforced both those allegations and the concerns which made staff hesitant to report at the press conference that OPSEU held last Friday.

Your ministry's protocol requires that management call in police to investigate whenever there is an allegation of criminal wrongdoing, and they specify particularly in the case of physical assaults. Calling in the child and family advocate does not relieve the ministry staff of that obligation. It is not an alternative or a substitution for calling in the police.

Minister, I ask you very directly: First, why didn't the superintendent at EMDC contact the London police on April 11, as he was required by policy to do? Second, why didn't your acting deputy minister contact the London police on March 4, as he also is required by policy to do? Third, why did your ministry wait until May 31 to ask the police to investigate?

Hon Mr Runciman: I've been over this ground but I will reiterate what occurred. The child advocate did discuss her concerns with the acting deputy minister. Also, we have to put this in the context that there was an investigation under way by the OPP. In fact, the advocate had discussed her concerns with the OPP and subsequent to that discussed them with the ADM, who encouraged her to pursue a very thorough, in-depth investigation of her concerns, which she did.

I think the member is forgetting there was an OPP investigation. There are certainly questions that can arise now about that particular investigation, but to suggest that the procedure wasn't followed with respect to an investigation denies the fact that there was an investigation under way at the point that she initiated her own investigation.

Mrs Boyd: The minister is quite aware that the events we're talking about occurred within the jurisdiction of the London police, not the OPP. That is not a sufficient answer to why the police in whose jurisdiction these allegations took place were not called. We need a further explanation, particularly about the acting deputy minister's role in this whole incident.

Deputy ministers, and by extension acting deputy ministers, are jointly responsible to the secretary of cabinet and to the Premier. They report directly to those two individuals. I ask you, Minister, did the acting deputy minister communicate with the secretary of cabinet or anyone in her office to report this incident at any time prior to May 31, and did he communicate with anyone in the Premier's office?

Hon Mr Runciman: I'm not aware that any communication of that nature occurred.


Mrs Boyd: That definitely speaks to what is going on in terms of the chain of command, in terms of people following what the procedures are. These are very serious allegations of the beating of young people within the care of the ministry. We've had too many examples in the past of people within the institutional care of this government being treated in a way that is not appropriate. It's extremely difficult for all of us to accept that you are content, first of all, that your acting deputy minister did not communicate with you; that you seem content that your acting deputy minister did not report, as is required by protocol, to his direct superiors, the cabinet secretary and the Premier; and that you seem quite content that all of this was allowed to slide for three months while these young people continued in the care of your ministry and continued to be in the same facility where these allegations occurred.

Minister, I ask you again -- you're the one who's responsible -- can you explain to us how this could have happened?

Hon Mr Runciman: There's three points the member raises. She suggests I'm content with the failure of the reporting protocol, and I've indicated pretty clearly, I think, that I am not happy with it at all, and certainly this is part of the internal investigation, to determine what happened with respect to a breakdown in the requirements of that protocol.

She also indicates that we allowed this to slide for three months, which again is totally inaccurate. The child advocate was on the scene on a regular basis and has indicated to me personally that she was quite satisfied with the level of safety for the young offenders in the facility during that period of time. The member's own office contacted the advocate yesterday with respect to those kinds of questions, and she didn't want to accept the answer from the child advocate.

There's no question that there are serious concerns, serious allegations around this. We have the London police in looking at the criminal allegations. We have an internal investigation headed by Inspector Ken Christopherson, who is now going to be assisted by senior legal counsel from the Ministry of the Attorney General to look at all these areas, including the issues raised in this House yesterday.

The Speaker: New question. To what minister, the member for London Centre?

Mrs Boyd: To the same minister, Mr Speaker.

You are quite correct that you encouraged me to talk to the child and family advocate, and I did so. I certainly got a very different message than you're suggesting. However, let that be as it may.

When you first spoke to the House, you talked about having every confidence that the ministry had acted appropriately and had handled the allegations in a professional manner. Yesterday, when you were talking to the press after the House, you said, "I think the original concerns were addressed appropriately, but the actions that have been raised with respect to other officials within the ministry after the fact are serious indeed."

You went on to say, "I'm not justifying what went on there, because I have some very serious questions about happened, why it happened and exactly, you know, who was involved. But certainly there was information-gathering within the ministry on the weekend to deal with this issue. Now, if that was part and parcel of that, I think it went well above and beyond what I would call appropriate."

Then you went on to suggest to the press that you were continuing to look at this matter, that you expected to make a statement in the House today. It was a surprise to us, frankly, that you did not make a statement to this House. You had said yesterday that you would release to us the names of the investigating team and that you would reassure us that none of the people on the investigating team were in any way connected to the EMDC when these allegations occur.

You are responsible for the actions within your ministry, and this is the essence of ministerial responsibility. I suggest to you that you're not carrying out those ministerial responsibilities as you ought to, and I ask you how we can have confidence in you and your ministry that you will get to the bottom of what exactly has happened at Elgin-Middlesex and what involvement the staff of ministry may have had in this coverup.

Hon Mr Runciman: I'm sure it'll be a rainy day on the Sahara before I have the confidence of that group over there. In any event, I want to say that Inspector Ken Christopherson, who's the manager of the internal investigations unit, is setting up the investigation, and he's available. If the member has any other allegations or concerns, she can certainly contact Inspector Christopherson directly and share those concerns with him.

Also, I've asked the Attorney General today to appoint a senior legal counsel to assist Inspector Christopherson with this investigation and to ensure that all the areas of concern that have been raised in the public press and in this Legislature will be thoroughly and adequately addressed.

Mrs Boyd: The minister continues to puzzle me in that he wants to make this a partisan situation, and we're doing everything we can not to make it a partisan situation but to try and get to the bottom of what the situation really is.

The minister says he continues to have confidence. He did tell us yesterday that he would name all the people on the investigating committee and he would assure us that none of those people had been seconded to EMDC at the time of the incident. I do not believe that the minister has in fact released those. We called the office this morning and asked for those names. They said they would call us back before noon. They have not done that. I wonder why, and I wonder if what we are seeing is what we suspect is happening, that this investigation is partially being done by people who are implicated in the issue.

If that's not so, all we're saying to the minister is that it's important, if you are to maintain the confidence of the people of Ontario, particularly young offenders and their families, in your ability to care for them when they're in your custody, for you to answer this kind of question and to be very clear that we have a right to ask that. It is absolutely strange to me that you appear to be hesitating to assure us that there is no conflict of interest within the investigating team and that you can give us reason to have confidence in those people; that you're prepared to name them and that you're prepared to talk about what their terms of reference are and how they have been instructed to carry out their investigation.

Hon Mr Runciman: I'm pleased to give the member assurance with respect to conflict of interest, and I'll make sure that she's provided with name, telephone number and all the details she requires before the end of question period.

Mrs Boyd: I should tell the minister that I believe it should be made public to everyone, and certainly if he makes it available to me it will be public to everyone.

The situation just continues to spread. This is not an isolated kind of thing. The London Free Press headline today: "More Allegations Surface of Paper-Shredding at Jails." It's quite clear from what we read in the Free Press that another allegation of shredding has taken place at the Bluewater correctional facility over the weekend, last weekend, the past weekend since you became aware of this.

It was reported that Bill Bell, the president of the union representing about 160 staff at Bluewater, said, and this is a quote from the newspaper article confirmed, I should tell you, by Mr Bell:

"The shredder was definitely going. You never see these managers come in on Saturdays, but they were there and they were definitely shredding documents."

He added further: "During an investigation like this, it's hardly the time to be shredding documents. Are they trying to cover something up or what?"

Minister, the concerns are growing. There's an appearance of a coverup. You have not been in control of this matter from the beginning. You do not appear concerned that people in your ministry prevented you from knowing what was going on so that you could take control of this matter. Why are you permitting this situation to continue?

Hon Mr Runciman: To suggest that I'm not concerned is ludicrous. I have indicated in very strong terms my concern over the allegations with respect to this matter.

In terms of urgency, I think my request to the Attorney General today indicates the sense of urgency that I feel and the government feels with respect to moving this investigation along quickly and with great attention to all the concerns that have been laid before us and certainly before this Legislature. I think the matters are being handled in an expeditious way. I indicated earlier, with respect to the allegations surrounding the treatment of young offenders, that yesterday I received the very clear assurances of the child advocate that ministry officials, in her view -- an independent, third-party view -- handled that matter in an effective and efficient way.



Mr Sean G. Conway (Renfrew North): My question is for the Chairman of the Management Board. I want to come back to a discussion the chairman and I had in this assembly about five weeks ago. It concerns one particular overtime payment the Ontario government has made to a senior manager at the Penetanguishene Mental Health Centre during the five-week public service strike earlier this year.

Minister, let me just review for your benefit and the benefit of the assembly what are now the agreed-to facts: that one senior manager at the Penetanguishene Mental Health Centre, whose regular salary is approximately $150,000 annually was allowed to claim $50,500 worth of overtime in a five-week period. Minister, $50,000 of overtime in a five-week strike means that this individual, whose annual salary is $150,000 at least, was billing and was paid $10,000 a week in overtime, or he was billing and was being paid $1,400 a day in overtime. How is such a scheme possible in Ontario in 1996?

Hon David Johnson (Chair of the Management Board of Cabinet): I wouldn't call it a scheme, but what happened was that there was a strike and as a result of the strike there was a very low level of staff available at this institution and all other institutions. There are people who are living at this psychiatric hospital who need support and the support that was available was very minimal. The person in question and many of the other staff, I might say, were needed around the clock for the psychiatric patients of this hospital -- they have needs. Indeed, there were many concerns coming in from the general public, from various organizations with regard to the health and safety of the people at these psychiatric institutions.

The payment to this individual that the member is referring to, and another individual, was based on straight time; it was based on the number of hours they put in in excess of 44 hours per week. That included Saturdays, it included Sundays, it included evenings, it included midnight work, right around the clock, seven days a week, through the full five-week period. If you work that out, as strange as it may seem, as much as it may seem, the amount in this particular case amounted to about $50,000.

Mr Conway: I think all reasonable people would accept and understand how in this circumstance some level of overtime would be both required and justifiable, and I'm certainly in that category. I understand how a senior manager would be in receipt of some reasonable overtime, but we're talking about a manager whose annual salary is at least $150,000 a year; we're talking about a health facility that was not abandoned by all its staff -- the essential services agreement provided a quite good level of staffing, which we would understand -- and we understand there was not a particular problem on that picket line.

I want to come back, though, to the essence of this case. We have a guy who's been paid $1,400 a day in overtime. It is unbelievable. It is outrageous. It is indefensible. Any manager who's ever run any public or private sector operation would know that if you were faced with special circumstances, you would craft a special overtime arrangement that would not allow, as you have allowed in this situation, for this manager to claim overtime for every waking and sleeping moment that individual lived during the course of a 35-day strike.

The taxpayers of Ontario have a right to know what you are going to do about this violation of common sense. Some overtime, yes, but this level of overtime, $50,000 worth for 35 days, is absolutely unbelievable and unacceptable.

I say in my final question, on behalf of the taxpayers and probably on behalf of the member for Simcoe East, what are you going to do to claw back some of this $50,500 that is absolutely necessary if you're going to have any credibility as a manager in this province today?

Hon David Johnson: First of all I assure the taxpayers of Ontario that the expenditures at this institution and right across the civil service were considerably lower during this period, particularly the payroll at this institution, the psychiatric hospital. Each payroll was half a million dollars lower than it would have been during a normal period of time, so there was a considerable amount of money saved or expenditures that were reduced. Through the whole strike some $150 million in taxpayers' money was saved.

People worked overtime, people worked 24 hours a day, people worked on Saturdays, people worked on Sundays -- and the individual who is being referred to was not a manager; the individual was a chief psychiatrist, a specialist who was required. The staffing level, contrary to what the member is saying, was not considered acceptable by this government. We advocated for a higher level of staffing. The staffing level was not considered adequate by anyone who had anything to do with these institutions. These people worked around the clock, beyond 44 hours. They were paid straight time, and the taxpayers saved a great deal of money as a result of the whole exercise.


Mrs Marion Boyd (London Centre): My question is to the Solicitor General. Yesterday in response to my question you advised me to contact the office of the child advocate, and I understand your ministry officials had encouraged her to contact me. She is in London today, and we spoke this morning. She confirmed, as you thought she would, that she was very pleased with the conversation she had with you yesterday, that she thought the assignment of an experienced person from the institutional abuse section of the Ministry of the Attorney General was a positive step and that she thought you understood her concern about the fears of young people around talking to the police, given what had happened to them, so I confirm that's quite correct.

I asked her a specific question, whether it would be any breach of confidentiality, as guaranteed under the Young Offenders Act or any other act, if both her reports, the one on Bluewater and the one on Elgin-Middlesex, were released. She agreed there would be no breach of confidentiality, that those reports had been written for public consumption.

Will you commit today to releasing both those reports this afternoon?

Hon Bob Runciman (Solicitor General and Minister of Correctional Services): That is a change of opinion on the part of the advocate. Last week when I indicated in the House, to an interjection about releasing the report, that I didn't see a problem with that, the advocate immediately contacted my office and indicated that she had concerns. During our discussion yesterday she indicated those concerns as well and said that she felt perhaps a summary of the first report would be appropriate.

Subsequent to that, officials in the legal branch of my ministry have spoken to officials within the Ministry of the Attorney General, who have serious concerns with respect to a release of that report.

Mr Floyd Laughren (Nickel Belt): When are you going to take charge?

Hon Mr Runciman: Well, we have to ask for that kind of advice -- I'm sure the members appreciate that -- with the possibility of criminal proceedings. I have to accept the advice, as I'm sure that member, a former Attorney General, would appreciate.

Mrs Boyd: Minister, that was the same kind of advice that was given in the 1970s around the investigations that went on in St John's, St Joseph's and Grandview.

I think you need to understand that we're in a different era; we're in an era where these things are considered to be very important. Quite frankly, you're contributing to a coverup in this situation.

The advocate is saying that the names of young offenders are not mentioned in those books. If what the Attorney General's ministry is worried about is liability, I can assure you that our experience with St John's, St Joseph's and Grandview and many other situations is that liability simply grows as time goes on. Put some fresh air into this situation and allow people to know what went on. Make sure there are no more coverups, such as there were under a Conservative government in the 1970s with which we are still trying to cope 20 years later, and make this matter public. Release those two reports, Minister. Promise us in this House that you will.

Hon Mr Runciman: I'm not going to get into responding to the political rhetoric. I will commit to revisiting this issue based on the new view of the child advocate.



Mr Dan Newman (Scarborough Centre): My question today is for the Minister of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs. As the member for Scarborough Centre, an urban riding in the greater Toronto area, I thought it important for me to familiarize myself with the needs and concerns of all of Ontario. That is why I have chosen to become involved in the Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs's advanced agricultural leadership program, an MPP exchange program which teams urban MPPs with a farmer for a day at Queen's Park and then a day on a farm.

More than a dozen members of the government side of the House are taking part in this exchange, and I commend each of them for taking part in this initiative. I am pleased to bring to the attention of this House the fact that my exchange partner, Mr Kevin Kale, a cash cropper from Seaforth, Ontario, whose 300-acre farm grows soybeans, corn and wheat, is joining us in the members' gallery here today.

By coincidence, just yesterday the agrifood and rural business bill was being debated in this House, and the members opposite brought up different concerns about this bill. One of the concerns brought up in this issue is that of AgriCorp's broad mandate.

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

Mr Newman: The members opposite objected to that mandate being too broad and wanted to restrict the ability of this new farmer-run agency to help farmers of Ontario.

I wonder if the minister could tell me why he wants to put --

The Speaker: Question, please. Put your question.

Mr Newman: -- farmers themselves in charge of delivering farm programs.

Hon Noble Villeneuve (Minister of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs, minister responsible for francophone affairs): I want to thank my colleague from Scarborough Centre for the question regarding Bill 46, and I want to welcome his farmer to our Legislature. I'm sure my colleague will find it most interesting when he leaves Scarborough Centre and goes out to the farm. I'm sure it will be a learning experience for him.

Part of Bill 46 of course creates the AgriCorp corporation, and we want to give AgriCorp the tools and the ability to run the different programs the government will mandate for it. It will also give it the flexibility to run the programs on behalf of the farmers regarding the safety net and the crop insurance issues. As we've told our agrifood sector, we will consult through every step of the process, but one thing we will not move from is that AgriCorp will be run by farmers.

Mr Newman: Yesterday, the member for Essex-Kent raised some concerns with regard to a clause in schedule A of Bill 46, a clause which he says deals with user fees. The member even went so far as to suggest the bill should perhaps be amended to remove this clause. Could the minister tell this House how he responds to this concern?

Hon Mr Villeneuve: As I've mentioned on other occasions in the Legislature, an AgriCorp was brought forth by a Liberal government; an AgriCorp was brought forth by an NDP government. An AgriCorp is brought forward by an Progressive Conservative government and it will become a fact of life, better than the other two parties.


Hon Mr Villeneuve: They do not want farmers to run their business, and I'm very concerned about that. We will see, as we further debate Bill 46, that AgriCorp and Bill 46 are a very positive step to help agriculture and our food producers.


Mr Rick Bartolucci (Sudbury): My question is to the environment minister. Minister, yesterday in response to my colleague the Liberal environment critic, you stated that you are downsizing your ministry in order to focus your resources by sticking to core business.

In November, the Premier of this province presented biologist Bill Keller from Sudbury with the prestigious Amethyst Award for outstanding work in the core business of lake and water restoration caused by acid rain. In this one individual you have the knowledge, the expertise and the efficiency for future water restoration that is unprecedented, as attested to by numerous world-renowned scientists.

In May, not only did you close regional offices, you sank Bill Keller with a pink slip, outraging the world environmental community and sending out the message that water and lake restoration and enhancement are not core business for this government.

If you won't rescind the pink slip to Bill Keller, as we have asked, will you tell the House and the international environmental community today how many water quality scientists of Bill Keller's calibre will be located in Sudbury monitoring and restoring the lakes in and around northern Ontario?

Hon Brenda Elliott (Minister of Environment and Energy): There are a number of files ongoing in our ministry from time to time, and I believe I said yesterday that one of the things I have come to know as a minister is that there are many highly qualified individuals working in our ministry, scientists recognized worldwide for their contributions to many different fields.

The member opposite is asking me a question about the employment status of an individual within the ministry, and I said yesterday that when tough decisions are made -- in fact, there were two offices in Sudbury. We have determined to close one of those offices, and in the downsizing that is occurring this gentleman being referred to has received a layoff notice.

There is a collective agreement in place. I would like to know if the member opposite is indicating that I as a minister should interfere in that collective agreement and the employment procedure that is in place by law. I suspect that if I as a minister or any other individual did interfere in the collective agreement process, in the bumping procedures that occur, the hue and cry from across the way would just be howling.

Mr Bartolucci: No, I don't think she should get involved and interfere in collective agreements, but yes, I think as the Minister of Environment and Energy she should interfere and make sure the environment is protected.

That comment and the minister's comment yesterday in the scrum, that acid rain is not a top priority but water and air quality are, remind me a whole lot of the comment made by former US Vice-President Dan Quayle. He said, "It's not pollution that's harming the environment, it's the impurities in our air and water that are doing it." Minister, you sound a whole lot like Dan Quayle.

I doubt your fellow caucus members such as the member for Parry Sound or the member for Victoria-Haliburton or the member for Muskoka-Georgian Bay would be telling their constituents and agreeing with you that acid rain isn't a top priority. Clearly the tourist industry is affected. Active and passive water recreational activities are affected by acid rain. Indeed the economies of several regions in both northern Ontario and southern Ontario are affected by it.

As the environment minister, and without sounding any more like Dan Quayle, would you please tell the House what your definition of acid rain is and how it differs from air and water pollution?

Hon Mrs Elliott: I'd like to remind my colleague across the way that it was in fact a Progressive Conservative government that signed the first acid rain agreement with the United States. I would like to remind the member across the way that we just recently released a document about acid rain, the 1994 progress report submitted by the four major sources of sulphur dioxide in Ontario. These emissions were 46% below their targets, an excellent reduction. In addition to that, 10 million tonnes of sulphur dioxide emissions have been reduced as a result of the US Clean Air Act of 1990.

Action is being taken on this file. Action on acid rain is happening in this province. It is not dependent on one person. It is the result of hard work by many people in my ministry and throughout this province.



Mr Gilles Bisson (Cochrane South): My question is to the Minister of Municipal Affairs and Housing. Minister, I want to ask you a fairly simple question. Do you think it is appropriate for a senior manager of your ministry to encourage clients of --


Mr Bisson: The question is to the Minister of Municipal Affairs. There we go. We got him.

Do you think it's appropriate for a senior manager of your ministry to encourage clients of the Ministry of Housing to deal with a specific private sector consulting firm in the social housing development field?

Hon Al Leach (Minister of Municipal Affairs and Housing): No, I don't.

Mr Bisson: That is certainly somewhat of an assurance, but I have here a letter dated June 5 on ministry letterhead that is from the regional manager of the eastern regional office of your ministry, who specifically -- and I won't go through all of the letter because it's fairly long, but just to pull out a certain excerpt, what it says here is: "The purpose of my writing is to encourage your corporation to consider the services available from Pro-Shelter Inc. Many of you will have worked with these individuals and would know why I am recommending them to you."

Minister, is it appropriate for a regional senior manager of your ministry to encourage the clients of your ministry to deal with a particular private sector firm? Is this the kind of business relationship with the private sector that your ministry and your government are trying to encourage?

Hon Mr Leach: To the member opposite, I'm not aware of the details of this situation. I've just been given a copy of the memo. I would like to have an opportunity to look into it and I'll respond directly to the member in the House.


Mr Jim Brown (Scarborough West): My question is to the Chair of Management Board. The previous government rented tens of thousands of square feet of office space that it didn't need. Much of this space was empty when we took office and still is. Have you considered any economic method of utilizing this space?

Hon David Johnson (Chair of the Management Board of Cabinet): I would like to thank the member for Scarborough West. He is correct that indeed the government, when we took office, did rent some 11 million square feet of office space. We own another 13 million square feet of office space. The cost to the taxpayers of the province of Ontario of the leased space is about $200 million a year.


Hon David Johnson: Yes, a good amount, or some of the space, is empty. This government is set on a course of doing better for less, so we are looking for opportunities to use this space more efficiently, opportunities to restructure, to downsize and to free up space and reduce costs. Our plan is to consolidate staff, to use the space more efficiently, to vacate some six and a half million square feet of office space and to save the taxpayers $60 million a year as a result.

Mr Jim Brown: There are empty buildings in my riding that are owned by the Ontario government, and residents are concerned. How can we help in doing something with these properties?

Hon David Johnson: Again, there are empty buildings. Some of the buildings will be sold. We have recently sold 801 Bay Street, as one example. Our preferred course in dealing with vacant space or empty buildings is to work with the local municipalities, the local merchants, the local MPPs. The building in Niagara Falls is a case in point, where there are ongoing discussions and I hope that as a result we will find a good use for that community and put that building to good use.

In the case of Scarborough and Scarborough West, my understanding is that indeed there is some vacant space. The Ontario Realty Corp has been working with the city of Scarborough and we're in the early stages of working on some of these properties with the possibility of rezoning the properties, with the possibility of selling some of the space. I'm very pleased the member for Scarborough West has taken an interest in this. His input will be invaluable. I think we can work together with Scarborough and with the member to put this space to best use for the taxpayer.


Mr Pat Hoy (Essex-Kent): I want to put this question to the Minister of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs and help the member for Scarborough Centre, who was quoting the remarks I made yesterday on Bill 46. Minister, the member from your side was asking whether you would withdraw a certain part of the act. That part I was questioning yesterday, that your own member wants to know about is, "Providing for the collection of the levies or charges by AgriCorp, the corporation to which they are payable or any class of persons." I know your member is interested in this and you didn't answer the question, so I'm giving you a second opportunity. Are you removing this from the bill?

Hon Noble Villeneuve (Minister of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs, minister responsible for francophone affairs): I thank my colleague from the Chatham-Kent area. AgriCorp will be set up, and the tripartite will continue whereby the provincial government, the federal government and indeed the farmers will be providing the funds, as they have in the past. The government will be supporting them. We fully expect that some time in the future they will be autonomous and financially able to sustain.

Mr Hoy: I'm quite aware of the costing of the premiums through the crop insurance. Today it is a three-way street, with the farmer, the federal government and the provincial government. But we're talking about user fees in the administration of AgriCorp. The possibility exists here in this clause that persons not even availing themselves of services from AgriCorp could be charged a fee. Your own member is asking if you are withdrawing this clause. On two occasions you have not answered the question. I'll give you another opportunity today. In front of your farmer friends here, are you going to withdraw this clause from the bill?

Hon Mr Villeneuve: The honourable member is seeing some skeletons in closets when he says "the possibility" and "may." AgriCorp will be set up, will be funded, indeed whatever funding is needed. They will be looked after, as they have been in the past, but it will be run by the people who indeed will do the best job: the farmers themselves.


Ms Marilyn Churley (Riverdale): My question is for the Minister of Environment and Energy. Last Friday you released Donald Macdonald's report on Hydro. As you know, Macdonald has recommended privatization of about a third of Hydro.

The issue for many Ontarians is hydro rates. Hydro's own discussion paper, issued last September, says that privatization would increase rates by 26% to 30%. Amazingly, Mr Macdonald says rates would come down because of the wonders of competition. He came to that conclusion because of an anonymous study done by an anonymous financial institution, one, I may add, which could possibly financially gain from privatization.

Minister, I'm asking you today, will you release all studies that were done for the Macdonald advisory committee so that the public can weigh all the information for themselves?

Hon Brenda Elliott (Minister of Environment and Energy): The model that was indicated as part of the report was done by the Macdonald commission. It is just a model; it's indicated just as that. They did not indicate this would be a prediction of rates; they indicated this was how a model worked out. It's the property of that commission. My understanding is there was a letter of confidentiality signed when that was undertaken.

Ms Churley: May I remind this minister that she is accountable to the people of Ontario, not to Mr Macdonald and his advisory committee. Page 112 of this report indicates that Macdonald's study was a very detailed one. Two different scenarios had rates falling by 11% and another by 27%. Yet this contradicts not only Hydro's own study but the common sense, if you will, that says rates must rise because private investors will want to make a profit in exchange for the risk, and they're going to have to pay taxes. Did Macdonald's study not take this into account? Let's get all of the information on the table. I'm asking you again, will you tell us who the studies were done by and will you release all of the work that was done for the commission now?

Hon Brenda Elliott (Minister of Environment and Energy): Again, the model that was in the Macdonald commission is very clear. It was done by the people on the commission, and they can speak to the details of that particular thing.

The real issue that my colleague across the way is talking about is the issue of rates, and certainly that's why this whole conversation is occurring about Ontario Hydro. Are our rates going to go up? Certainly we've seen a history of rates going up. Between 1990 and 1994, the rates for Ontario Hydro went up by almost 40%. It's an indication that we were on a steady incline of rates that could destroy the competitiveness that is absolutely necessary for our industries and our businesses to flourish in this province.

That's why this conversation is being undertaken. Keeping Ontario Hydro, our electricity industry, competitive and vital is what the Macdonald commission is all about. For every citizen in this province, when the changes are undertaken by this government, whatever they may be, our criteria will be affordable rates, reliable service and safe electricity production.



Mr Jack Carroll (Chatham-Kent): My question is also for the Minister of Environment and Energy. The chief building officials in two townships in my riding have written to me concerning a situation somewhat unique to our region, the ongoing problem of residents attempting to obtain an installation permit for a partially raised septic system. On land with a heavy clay base, residents are required to install a fully raised septic system, costing between $20,000 and $30,000, a price so prohibitive that many residents find it too costly to build.

As you know, we have discussed this issue on a number of occasions. Would you now be able to inform the people affected in my area what action the government is taking to address this concern?

Hon Brenda Elliott (Minister of Environment and Energy): I'm very glad to answer the question that's been posed to me by my colleague the member for Chatham-Kent. There are many residents in his riding who are concerned about the issue of septic beds and whether a raised septic bed will do the job or whether we need to go to a different type of septic bed, one of course being much more expensive, as my colleague has indicated.

What I can say to you is that the ministry is aware of this, that we have talked in the past and that there is a study under way right this minute. We hope to have a definitive answer within a couple of months, and what we are looking to determine is the most cost-effective method of septic beds that will work. Certainly cost is a factor, but I can assure my colleague that the other consideration that is foremost in our minds is making sure the environment and the groundwater in that area are protected in whatever system is chosen. It's under way, and we hope to have an answer in a couple of months.



Mr Richard Patten (Ottawa Centre): I had the pleasure of receiving some petitions from the constituents of Mississauga North last week. The constituents of Mississauga North, the home riding of the Minister of Education and Training, as well as other residents of the province of Ontario, are concerned about the educational implications of the moratorium on new school production.

"We, the undersigned, believe that the moratorium discriminates against children in high-growth areas. Moreover, the lack of suitable school accommodation violates basic rights, including the right to a quality education and the right to be treated in a fair and equitable manner.

"We, the undersigned, also believe that the freeze on new school construction is unfair to the building and construction industry. The moratorium translates into thousands of lost jobs and substantially higher levels of unemployment throughout the province of Ontario.

"Accordingly, we demand:

"(1) That the moratorium on school construction be lifted immediately.

"(2) The full amount of $167 million be restored immediately to the capital expenditures fund administered by the Ministry of Education and Training."

I have over 300 signatures here and I affix my name as well.


Mr Rosario Marchese (Fort York): I have a petition from the Muriel Collins Housing Cooperative, and the petition reads:

"To the Legislative Assembly of Ontario:

"Whereas the Ontario government has clearly indicated that it wants out of the housing business; and

"Whereas the Ontario government is reviewing the legal contracts and budgets of every cooperative housing project in this province; and

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

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

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

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

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

I agree with this petition wholeheartedly and I affix my signature to it.


Mr John R. Baird (Nepean): I submit a petition today from residents in Nepean, Richmond Hill, Gloucester, Orleans and Ottawa, which reads as follows:

"To the Legislative Assembly of Ontario:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

I've affixed my own signature because I'm in agreement.


Mr Michael Gravelle (Port Arthur): Many of my constituents in Thunder Bay are very concerned with this government's attitude towards child care and are certainly eagerly awaiting the report by the parliamentary assistant to the Minister of Community and Social Services, Janet Ecker, in terms of what she has to say. This petition says:

"To the Legislative Assembly of Ontario:

"Whereas the Ministry of Community and Social Services has threatened to replace child care subsidies with a voucher system; and

"Whereas this voucher system will discriminate against families presently utilizing subsidies;

"We, the undersigned, petition the Legislative Assembly of Ontario to disallow these cuts to this critical economic investment for communities of Ontario and to guarantee that the current child care subsidy system remains funded and supported."

I'm proud to sign this petition.


Mr David Christopherson (Hamilton Centre): I have a petition and letter signed by hundreds of members of Aluminum, Brick and Glass Workers Local 203G, sent to my office over the signature of president Marco Monaco. The petition reads as follows:

"To the Parliament of Ontario:

"Whereas Cam Jackson's discussion paper is not about ensuring that the workers' compensation system can meet its future obligations to injured workers; it is about handing over power and profit to employers and private insurance companies; and

"Whereas rather than addressing the issue of reducing workplace injuries the Harris government is cutting benefits to injured workers, forcing workers on to welfare and shifting the costs of compensation from employers to our health care system and taxpayers; and

"Whereas the discussion paper outlines various approaches to cutting benefits, looking at recent changes in New Brunswick, Newfoundland and Nova Scotia where injured workers are paid as little as 75% of net average earnings; the current level in Ontario is 90%, reflecting the long-standing WCB commitment to full compensation for lost wages; and

"Whereas the discussion paper uses a flawed analysis of the unfunded liability to create a phoney fiscal crisis at the WCB to support slashing workers' benefits; and

"Whereas the Harris government has ignored the fact that the unfunded liability of the WCB has decreased two years in a row by over half a billion dollars alone last year and that assets are now up over $7 billion; and

"Whereas the Harris government has also ignored the report by KPMG Peat Marwick commissioned by the federal government which shows that not only are Ontario rates competitive with the US, but in fact they are lower;

"Therefore we, the undersigned, petition the Parliament of Ontario as follows:

"That the Harris government undertake real public consultation, listen to injured workers and hold full province-wide public hearings before introducing any legislation."

As I support this also, I affix my signature.



Mrs Julia Munro (Durham-York): I have a petition pertaining to the exorbitant price of gasoline in Ontario. This petition is signed by Mr George Withy of Brechin and approximately 940 concerned citizens from Beaverton, Cannington, Pefferlaw, Sunderland, Keswick and Sutton, to name but a few communities. The petition reads as follows:

"To the Legislative Assembly of Ontario:

"We, the undersigned, do hereby petition the provincial government to take action to prevent gasoline prices from rising higher without a bona fide reason.

"This petition is to protest the extremely high price for gasoline at the pumps and what looks like petroleum fixing."

I agree with this petition and I have affixed my name to it.


Ms Annamarie Castrilli (Downsview): Earlier today the Canadian Federation of Students and the Ontario Coalition for Better Child Care held a press conference at which they delivered a petition signed by 1,187 people, and it reads as follows:

"We, the undersigned, are extremely concerned about the future of the Ontario student assistance program child care bursaries, non-repayable. Many sole-support parents who attend post-secondary institutions rely on these bursaries to further their education. With the recent changes to the provincial-municipal cost-sharing arrangement for child care subsidies, affordable child care spaces are being reduced.

"It is therefore imperative that OSAP child care bursaries be preserved in order to maintain accessibility to education. Accessible education means providing choices for everyone in our society. We therefore call on the provincial government to preserve the levels of funding to OSAP child care bursaries."

I am happy to sign my name to this petition.


Mr Peter Kormos (Welland-Thorold): I've got a petition that was sent to me by Santiago Hernandez and it's signed by every single member of the St Charles Co-Op on Prince Charles Drive in Welland. It reads:

"Whereas the Ontario government has clearly indicated that it wants to get out of the housing business; and

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

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

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

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

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

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

I concur with that and I've affixed my signature.


Mrs Elinor Caplan (Oriole): "Whereas the public secondary teachers of Ontario have taken a workplace democracy vote in accordance with Bill 7 and have rejected the proposed College of Teachers by a 94.8% vote;

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

I submit this to the Legislature.


Ms Marilyn Churley (Riverdale): I have a petition from tenants of Pape Apartments YWCA. It reads:

"We, the undersigned tenants of Pape Apartments YWCA, 15 Pape Avenue, a community of women and children, are concerned that:

"(1) Our homes will be lost because of the government's cuts to non-profit housing projects which will undermine their financial viability; and

"(2) Low-income families and the most vulnerable in our communities will suffer devastating hardship because of cuts to the numbers of needy people receiving rent-geared-to-income, RGI, assistance and the increased rents for those currently receiving such assistance.

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

I agree with this petition and affix my signature to it.


Mr Frank Miclash (Kenora): I have a petition that reads:

"We, the undersigned, the United Senior Citizens of Ontario Inc, draw the attention of the House to the following:

"That the safety of consumers, and senior citizens in particular, is at risk because brand-name drug manufacturers are attempting to force generic drug manufacturers to market their equivalent products in a different size, shape and colour than the brand-name medication.

"Any action that affects the look of generic drugs could endanger patient safety through improper use of medicines;

"Therefore your petitioners request that Parliament regulate the long-standing Canadian practice of marketing generic drugs in a size, shape and colour which is similar to that of its brand-name equivalent."

I have attached my name to that petition as well.


Mr David Christopherson (Hamilton Centre): I'm proud to present petitions on behalf of my home-town Hamilton and District Labour Council, representing workers in the Hamilton area.

"To the Legislative Assembly of Ontario:

"Whereas it is vital that occupational health and safety services provided to workers be conducted by organizations in which workers have faith;

"Whereas the Workers' Health and Safety Centre and the occupational health clinics for Ontario workers have provided such services on behalf of workers for many years;

"Whereas the centre and clinics have made a significant contribution to improvements in workplace health and safety and the reduction of injuries, illnesses and death caused by work;

"We, the undersigned, petition the Legislative Assembly of Ontario to oppose any attempt to erode the structure, services or funding of the Workers' Health and Safety Centre and the occupational health clinics for Ontario workers;

"Further, we, the undersigned, demand that education and training of Ontario workers continue in its present form through the Workers' Health and Safety Centre and that professional and technical expertise and advice continue to be provided through the occupational health clinics for Ontario workers."

I support this petition and affix my signature.


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

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

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

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

I have affixed my signature.


Mr Peter Kormos (Welland-Thorold): I've got a petition signed by 210 people from here in the Toronto area. It's called the education cuts petition and it reads:

"We, as students/parents in a concerned society, oppose all education cuts that the current government has suggested in the province of Ontario."

I wholeheartedly endorse that, and I affix my signature to it.


M. Jean-Marc Lalonde (Prescott et Russell) : J'ai ici une pétition qui m'a été envoyée par Claude Levesc, directeur de l'école publique Nouvel Horizon de Hawkesbury.

«À l'honorable John Snobelen, ministre de l'Éducation et de la Formation :

«Attendu que les 207 élèves de l'école publique Nouvel Horizon vivent dans une école qui n'est pas convenable, qui est située sur un terrain d'un acre et qui n'appartient pas au conseil scolaire ;

«Attendu que l'école publique Nouvel Horizon a une très petite bibliothèque, pas de gymnase et des classes mobiles qui ne sont pas reliées à l'école ;

«Attendu que l'école publique Nouvel Horizon est la seule école publique de langue française du comté de Prescott et que nous croyons qu'il est essentiel d'obtenir au moins une école de langue française pour les contribuables du secteur public français ;

«Nous, soussignés, faisons parvenir une pétition afin que le financement pour l'achat d'un terrain et pour la construction d'une nouvelle école soit accordé tel que promis en 1994.»



The Speaker (Hon Allan K. McLean): Pursuant to standing order 34(a), the member for Hamilton East has given notice of his dissatisfaction with the answer to his question given by the Minister of Community and Social Service concerning workfare. This matter will be debated today at 6 pm.



Mr Eves moved first reading of the following bill:

Bill 71, An Act to encourage the financial support of Public Institutions by Individuals and the Private Sector through the establishment of Crown Foundations / Projet de loi 71, Loi visant à encourager le soutien financier des établissements publics par les particuliers et le secteur privé grâce à la création de fondations de la Couronne.

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

Hon Ernie L. Eves (Deputy Premier, Minister of Finance and Government House Leader): Very briefly, the Crown Foundations Act, 1996, will allow hospitals, libraries, cultural organizations and certain other public institutions which may qualify to establish crown foundations. Through this legislation, donations to these foundations will receive the same treatment as donations to universities which already have crown foundations. This bill will encourage increased individual and private sector support of these public institutions and the worthwhile services they provide to Ontarians.


Mr Kormos moved first reading of the following bill:

Bill 72, An Act to amend the Highway Traffic Act / Projet de loi 72, Loi modifiant le Code de la route.

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

Mr Peter Kormos (Welland-Thorold): The Highway Traffic Act, as most people know, provides for the suspension of a person's driver's licence for a specific period of time if the person is convicted of an offence under the Criminal Code for driving while impaired by alcohol or a drug. The amendments in this bill would require that a person successfully complete a course respecting drug or alcohol abuse before the suspension is lifted, a course that's approved by the registrar and conducted by an agency or person similarly approved by the registrar. That, I submit, and some experience in the province already indicates, will go a long way towards reducing recidivism and making our streets and highways far safer, especially with respect clearly to impaired, drunken and drugged drivers.


Mr Shea moved first reading of the following bill:

Bill 73, An Act to amend the Municipal Act / Projet de loi 73, Loi modifiant la Loi sur les municipalités.

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

Mr Derwyn Shea (High Park-Swansea): This House made a decision several months ago to amend the honorariums that are paid to members of the House, and it is probably appropriate for us to do exactly the same thing for all those who are in the receipt of pay from municipalities and their various local boards and so forth. The bill amends the Municipal Act to provide that beginning in 1997 no part of an amount of salary or other remuneration that a member of a council of a municipality or a local board receives shall be deemed to be an expense allowance.



Mr Palladini moved second reading of the following bill:

Bill 55, An Act to promote road safety by implementing commercial trucking reforms, drinking and driving countermeasures and other aspects of Ontario's comprehensive road safety plan / Projet de loi 55, Loi visant à promouvoir la sécurité routière pour la mise en oeuvre de mesures de réforme du camionnage, de contremesures visant l'alcool au volant et d'autres aspects du programme général de sécurité routière de l'Ontario.

Hon Al Palladini (Minister of Transportation): I stand today to move second reading of the Road Safety Act, an act targeted at unsafe truckers and drinking drivers. This government is committed to improving the safety of Ontario's roads, and the Road Safety Act introduces new measures aimed at doing just that.

These measures are directed at people who put others at risk, truck drivers and operators who drive unsafely and operate poorly maintained vehicles. It zeroes in on people who drink and drive. It states that seatbelt use is for all people. It is time for everyone to take responsibility for their actions. The onus is on the driver and operator. This legislation is vital if we are to improve safety on our roads.

Last week, Ontario participated in Road Check '96. This is an annual, round-the-clock, three-day inspection blitz that takes unsafe trucks off the road immediately. This event provides a snapshot of how well the trucking industry is meeting our safety standards. At the end of the 72 hours, 2,912 trucks were inspected. Of these, 1,139 trucks, about 39%, were removed from the road because they failed to meet our standards. In all, inspectors found 3,397 defects and 885 charges were laid.

The most common defects were brakes that were out of adjustment and problems with suspension and tires. Ontario has inspection stations open at random and mobile enforcement teams looking for unsafe trucks. We are concentrating our efforts on the need for action against mechanical defects and the unsafe operation of commercial vehicles on our roads.

An inquest into the two fatalities caused by wheels falling off large trucks recommended tougher sanctions against safety infractions. We have listened and heard. We are prepared to take action. Fines for safety violations will increase dramatically: Minimum fines will more than triple; maximums are increased by 10 times, to $20,000.

Two levels of fines have been identified. Minimum fines for such offences as defective lighting and overweight and overlength vehicles have increased to $200 from $60. Minimum fines for serious violations such as faulty brakes have increased more than five times, to $400. This new legislation opens the way for MTO to develop a conduct review system for commercial drivers akin to the demerit point system. This would effectively flag such non-moving violations as hours-of-work infractions and load security offences.

Before I leave the subject of unsafe trucks, let me say that unsafe operators must change their ways. If they don't, they won't be driving on our roads for much longer. These measures come from our road safety plan, which initially focuses on three areas: enhancing enforcement, preventing drinking and driving, and improving safety in the trucking industry.

Other drivers who need to change their ways are those who continue to drink and drive. In Ontario, drinking and driving continues to be a problem. In 1993 alcohol was involved in 42% of Ontario's motor vehicle fatalities. That year 565 people were killed in alcohol-related crashes and more than 26,000 drivers were convicted of impaired driving. Alarmingly, 63% of all impaired driving convictions were for a second, third or greater offence. These figures are too high. Not only are these drivers a danger to themselves; they put everyone else at risk. It is clear that drinking and driving continues to be a major road safety issue. It's clear that we have to take drinking drivers off the road and hold them accountable for their actions.

This legislation will help to resolve the problem by removing drinking drivers from the road with an immediate 90-day licence suspension. The administrative licence suspension has proven extremely effective in other jurisdictions in targeting drinking and driving offenders. The administrative licence suspension is an automatic suspension handed out by the registrar of motor vehicles. It will apply to those drivers who register a blood alcohol level of more than 0.08% or to a driver who refuses to take a breathalyser test.

Our research shows that licence sanctions that are swift and sure are effective deterrents. With the introduction of the administrative licence suspension, Ontario joins Manitoba, Nova Scotia and 40 American states that have already implemented this program. British Columbia has introduced legislation and Quebec is considering that proposal.


With this legislation, Ontario joins the other provinces in charging a reinstatement fee. We propose a $100 fee to drivers whose licences were suspended for a variety of reasons. These include an accumulation of demerit points, convictions under the Criminal Code, serious Highway Traffic Act offences such as excessive speeding, careless driving and racing, and failure to pay court-ordered fines and judgements from convictions of motor vehicle related offences.

Suspended drivers cost the province in many ways: for appearances in court by enforcement officers, processing court documents and sending suspension notices by registered mail. Currently, there is no charge for returning a licence to a suspended driver. This $100 fee will make suspended drivers more accountable for those costs, not the taxpaying public.

We all know that seat belts save lives. Researchers and medical experts agree there are few, if any, medical or physical conditions that warrant a seat belt exemption. This bill introduces a new process to allow for limited exemptions for specified periods of time. We want all drivers and their passengers to buckle up. A similar approach was undertaken in Quebec, where the number of exemptions is down to about 100. This move comes with the support of both the Ontario and Canadian medical associations.

This legislation is a start towards cracking down on those drivers who put others at risk. We expect more changes to come into effect later on this fall.

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

Mr David Tilson (Dufferin-Peel): I'd like to make a few comments to the Minister of Transportation and congratulate him for bringing forth this legislation. This is legislation which was actually introduced as a road safety plan by three ministers -- the Solicitor General, the Attorney General and the Minister of Transportation -- and the Minister of Transportation of course has carriage of it.

The three issues which the minister has covered today are transit safety, administrative licence suspension and the issue which the Solicitor General has been working on involving road safety. All of these issues are of specific concern in most of our ridings; in fact, I suspect in all of our ridings. I particularly congratulate him on the issue of the administrative licence suspension, although certainly the issue involving wheels coming off and those sorts of unfortunate incidents concern us greatly.

The facts he has referred to as to why the administrative licence suspension is of great importance I think are worth mentioning again, because certainly this process isn't new across North America. It has been popular and it's proved a deterrent to drinking and driving across North America. The minister has talked about how there have been reductions of up to 50% in alcohol-related crashes, injuries and deaths in jurisdictions with this type of program where there is administrative licence suspension. Specifically, it's been adopted in 40 states. He indicated that it's been adopted in Manitoba and Nova Scotia, it has been introduced in British Columbia and I believe Quebec is considering it, so this is something that's proven.

I think all of us in the House support the minister, and I look forward to an early and fast passage of this bill.

Mr Michael A. Brown (Algoma-Manitoulin): I was interested in the minister's observations, particularly the ones revolving around automatic licence suspension. One of the difficulties I'm having is not that I disagree with that particular measure, but I think many members of this House will recognize the problem of repeat offenders that the minister also alluded to.

One of the difficulties I'm having as I comprehend the government's approach is that I know throughout rural areas of the province OPP law enforcement is falling by the wayside. There are not as many police out there. One of the great difficulties is you can suspend anybody's licence, but that does not keep them from driving -- they do drive with suspended licences. Unless the government is willing to take the responsibility seriously and protect our citizens by putting the police out there who will actually enforce these laws and these rules, we will continue to see people who have suspended licences, either for this reason or for other reasons, on our roads, driving without insurance, causing great difficulty.

The fact that we say you can't drive does not mean you won't, unless we're willing to take the proper resources and put them out there so we can be assured that those people who are in fact censored, either administratively or by a court, are not going to be able to drive and endanger those other citizens of Ontario, and indeed from other provinces and states who are out on our highway. So I cannot understand why the Solicitor General is --

The Acting Speaker: The time has expired. Further questions or comments?

Mr Len Wood (Cochrane North): Just commenting on the Minister of Transportation's introduction of the bill, I listened to some of the comments he made and I find it interesting that he didn't talk about the cancellation of photo-radar, when clearly 50% or more of the population of Ontario is saying that if photo-radar had been there, it would have been safer for people from northern Ontario and other parts of the province coming in and we wouldn't have the accidents we have right now.

I also didn't hear very much comment on his suggestion that the speed limit should go up to 110 or 120 kilometres an hour on these roads and why the Solicitor General pulled the plug on him on some of those comments.

As far as the other areas he's talking about are concerned, wheels falling off transports, I agree we have to get tougher on these types of unsafe things that are happening out on the highways, and as well, transport drivers who are operating their vehicles with no brakes. There's no doubt about it that people are going to get injured and killed, and disabled for the rest of their lives, as a result of large companies throughout this province, whether their headquarters are in this province or in another province or in the United States, letting the transports come in and drive with loose tires on their transports or buses -- unsafe vehicles; no brakes on them.

I have no problem supporting that part of the legislation, but I don't know how they're going to do it with the large cuts they're doing in the Ministry of Transportation.

Mr John R. Baird (Nepean): There was a tremendous tragedy involving drinking and driving in my riding some five or six months ago and the public in my constituency is calling for a variety of tougher measures with respect to dealing with this program. The minister will know that after this tragedy, I and my colleague the member for Mississauga South talked with him on numerous occasions about beefing up these laws. She's introducing a private member's bill in the coming weeks to deal with this issue.

One of the reasons she's having to redo it is that she's taking the ALS out of her bill, because the minister has agreed to follow through on it now, which is good news for public policy in the province of Ontario. Where the administrative licence suspension has been introduced, it's been exceptionally effective as one tool in the arsenal to fight drinking and driving. We look forward to its introduction this fall to see what sort of positive effect it will have in Ontario, because we believe it will have a very good impact.

The other issue with respect to enforcement is funding for the RIDE program. I was encouraged during the run-up to the budget and financial statements that the provincial government has doubled the budget of grants to over 100 communities across the province under the RIDE program as a way of ensuring enforcement of this very important initiative.

I notice as well that the auto insurance reforms introduced by my colleague the member for Mississauga West had a component which dramatically increased the fines for driving without auto insurance, which we think will be another positive mechanism in terms of fighting drunk driving, and we look forward to the debate on my colleague from Mississauga South's private member's bill in this regard.


The Acting Speaker: Further debate?

Mr Bruce Crozier (Essex South): It's a pleasure for me to rise today to add to the comments, I hope in a substantive way, regarding the introduction of the Road Safety Act, 1996, Bill 55. I would say at the outset and to the minister that we in the official opposition support the intent of the bill.

There's absolutely no question in my mind or in those of all Ontarians that when it comes to drinking and driving, if there were any way we could reasonably reduce the effects of that to zero so that there were no accidents, no deaths, we would all be much happier for it. In fact, if we could see our way clear to have a zero tolerance when it comes to drinking and driving, that certainly would be the most effective and the most wanted. But with the introduction of this bill, with its content, certainly steps are being taken in the right direction.

I want to say to the minister that I appreciate that yesterday we were given a briefing on the contents of the bill and were able to ask questions. That's very helpful, because it gives us an opportunity to respond to the bill in a constructive way. As I said, we intend to support this bill as a first step towards road safety in Ontario.

As the minister has pointed out, there are two primary initiatives in the bill. One is the administrative licence suspension for drunk drivers, and the other is to increase fines for truck safety violations. These are two good initial steps. However, we need to look at this as being a part of a long-term plan for making the roads in Ontario safer. More important, we must ensure, any time legislation is introduced which affects our civil rights and liberties, that the legislation is reasonable, is acceptable in a democratic society, and that the implementation, the administration and the enforcement of the legislation be such that no person's rights are violated.

There's a very fine line here in this bill, in that a licence will be suspended further than it is now. The present legislation has in it the ability for enforcement officers to suspend a licence for 12 hours in those cases where a driver who has been drinking or suspected of drinking has exceeded a limit or has refused to take a breath test.

I don't want this legislation to be seen as being inconsistent, but to me there is a bit of inconsistency in the government's approach to drinking and driving in that just recently the hours of operation of licensed establishments were extended from 1 am to 2 am. I wonder, certainly in many areas where public transportation isn't available, where even cabs may not be available, how this extension of the ability to drink later into the night coincides with the effort to make our roads safer. Also, the availability of being able to drink on golf courses seems to me to be a little inconsistent with the government's intention to make our roads safer.

On the one hand we're encouraging drinking, which I suspect in many cases leads to driving after, yet on the other hand we're suggesting that we want to make our roads safer.

Something that should be emphasized in connection with this bill, which I don't think addresses it to the point we feel it should, is enforcement. It was mentioned earlier in a couple of the comments on the minister's remarks that what is needed in conjunction with this is increased enforcement. We need more resources out on the highway. I haven't any idea what the percentage of drinking drivers who are stopped and subsequently charged and/or convicted might be to the total number who may be on the road. In fact, we were told yesterday that even when a driver who has been drinking is apprehended, there's a good chance, ministry officials have said, that this driver has driven on 200 different occasions under the same influence. That would indicate to me that the minister should seriously approach the Solicitor General and that enforcement should be of equal concern with this legislation.

What we've seen over the past few months is that police resources have been diminished. It was suggested by my colleague the member for Algoma-Manitoulin that particularly in rural areas this becomes even more difficult because of the area that has to be covered and the limited resources we have.

The minister gave us some information on the result of a recent high-profile, I believe 72-hour blitz on safety and truck driving -- I mention this on the enforcement side -- 39% of the trucks were found to be defective. Again I think enforcement needs to be of prime concern.

But the main points of this legislation that I'd like to cover today are those in the area of licence suspension. The administrative licence suspension consists of an immediate 90-day suspension when the blood alcohol limit exceeds 0.08 or where the person stopped refuses to take a breath test. This administrative suspension is of course independent of the Criminal Code charges and at no time do the two merge. That's the extent to which I'm going to try and give a legal opinion on this -- I know there'll be some relief on the other side -- because I'm certainly not a lawyer, but that doesn't mean we can't approach this from a layman's point of view and one of concern.

Two key elements should be addressed in the proper execution of this measure so that individual rights are not violated. I tread carefully here, because although we have a history that Canada is known for upholding individual rights, there are times when we obviously have to consider the rights of the general public.

The blood alcohol test equipment that's going to be used must certainly meet proper standards to ensure that the readings are not erroneous and that this objective evidence will not be found to be incorrect during criminal proceedings. Where there might be some injustice is that where someone's licence is suspended for 90 days and then they proceed to criminal court and it's found either that the evidence was not objective or for some other reason the individual is found to be innocent, there's no recourse for that individual, having gone through up to a 90-day suspension.

Should the person choose to appeal the licence suspension, we feel the appeal process must be efficient and it must be clear and everyone must know what their rights are. In other words, the process must be timely. People should be able to appeal, we believe, the decision within 48 hours. In addition, the grounds and procedure for appeal must be clear and simple so as not to result in the creation of complex legislation.


Therefore, it's evident that the intention of the licence suspension measure is to send a message to motorists that drinking and driving are not an option and that serious consequences will result. We certainly agree with that. But I can't express or stress too strongly the importance of ensuring that the substance of the legislation not be jeopardized by a process which violates individual rights.

A second important part of this legislation is the increased fines for safety violations. Before I get into a couple of points on this, I again come back to the question of enforcement. The 72-hour blitz that was held, as I mentioned earlier, resulted in some 39% of trucks on the road, and buses may have been included in that, being found to be defective. We also heard anecdotal stories where some trucks didn't even go on the road during the time of this blitz, that some trucks were able to avoid the area in which the inspections were taking place, because truckers communicate very effectively on the highways and are able to keep track of these kinds of things, not only the police but where these high-profile inspections are taking place.

In this part of the legislation as well it's incumbent upon the government to increase inspection, to increase the resources for inspection, to increase the areas in which inspections are made so that unscrupulous companies can't simply avoid the inspection areas.

Of course, we've had examples. There was one given in the Legislature only weeks ago where a company that was previously owned by the Minister of Education and Training, Jarsno Equipment, had 11 pages, some 161 charges between May 1991 and December 1995. I'm sure that's not the only company; in fact, it might not be the worst company. What we have to do is be assured that this legislation is in accompaniment with increased, strict inspection.

I think some of the trucking companies have a valid argument. I've been told on several occasions in representations made to me that there are areas, for example, of Highway 401 -- my colleague from Cornwall has brought to the minister's attention the deplorable condition of some of the highways in Ontario. What the truckers and the trucking operators are telling us is that they can send equipment out on the road and depending on the highway it travels on and the condition or the poor condition it might be in, they could end up with broken equipment on a trip that started out with equipment that was in good condition.

I travel, as many of the other members do, Highway 401. I spend about seven or eight hours a week on the highway going from my riding in Essex South, coming to Queen's Park and home again. There are sections of Highway 401 between, let's say, the Guelph and Woodstock area that are certainly in considerable disrepair, and I have concern for my little Eagle, that it might not come out of it in all that great a condition sometimes.

Down in my own riding, for example, Highway 3 between Leamington and Ruthven is in deplorable condition. I've written to the ministry. I've gone to the local district engineer. He just throws his hands up and says, "I don't know what we can do about it." These are the kinds of things we're going to have to improve in connection with the increased enforcement and the increase in fines.

Highway 18: I'm waiting for a parcel from a constituent who was out mowing his lawn on Highway 18. The highway has a stretch that's in poor condition. He called it a meteorite, but apparently a piece of the highway came on to his property somewhat like a missile and just missed him. We have to improve our highways so that our trucks can continue to be safe to operate on them as well.

It's clear, given the colossal number of truck safety violations the minister himself has pointed out, that the current fines are not a deterrent. We agree with the minister. Increasing the minimum fines from $60 to $200 and $400, based on the offence, is certainly a move in the right direction. For serious violations the maximum fine, as we are told in the legislation, is being increased from $500 to $20,000, but this still remains at the discretion of the roadside officers and the judiciary. Accordingly, we think it's critical, it's crucial to this legislation that roadside officers be properly briefed so they know what constitutes a serious offence such as this and that there should be punitive charges.

Truck operators must stop running their businesses believing that if they're found to be in violation of a truck safety standard three or four or a dozen times, they need not be concerned that they will be hit with fines that really will deter them. We certainly support this part of the legislation. The ministry is sending and must continue to send out a loud and clear message that a serious violation won't be tolerated and that the penalty will be substantial.

As indicated earlier, this is a first step, one which should have come perhaps months ago, maybe even years ago. It must be revisited regularly to ensure that it's working and that it's being properly implemented. Like the 90-day licence suspension, the intent is only part of the legislation. It must be implemented and enforced vehemently so that each and every truck on our highways is safe and every motorist in Ontario can drive alongside a transport truck without fear.

In conclusion, the principle of Bill 55 is certainly the right road, but it's only the beginning of that road. The ministry and this government cannot assume that they've now concluded their work on road safety and that they've resolved the problem of road safety in Ontario. There's a great deal of room for improvement. This is a challenge, and I hope that the Minister of Transportation doesn't abandon that challenge and that Bill 55 is merely an introduction to a comprehensive road safety plan.


The Acting Speaker: Questions or comments?

Mr E.J. Douglas Rollins (Quinte): I'd like to rise today to make a few comments about Bill 55. I certainly feel that it's a big step in the right direction to make sure we --

The Acting Speaker: Your questions and comments have to be on the bill that's just been debated.

Mr Rollins: On the speech that he just finished, right? Was it the wrong bill I called it?

Mr Baird: You've got to respond to him.

Mr Rollins: I've got to respond to him, yes. I thought I was doing that right. Excuse me.

I certainly agree with my colleague across the road that making sure we remove these people who are driving with licences at 90 days is one of the good parts of it. I firmly believe that when making these improvements to the driver safety aspect of our tractor-trailers on the road, we certainly want to be on the road when there are safe vehicles on the road with us.

One of the big parts that maybe you're missing a little bit of is that we're trying to put more information and more direct cause on to that driver to make sure that he or she, whoever the driver is, does that proper safety inspection before the trip starts, and if you're on a long trip, those drivers have to remove themselves from the vehicle periodically, and on every time entering that vehicle it's got to be impressed on them to make sure they do those safety circles. Bolts do come loose, lights do burn out and those should be checked out on a continual basis.

When inspectors on our roads find out that those people are not doing that, then they certainly should be fined. If a company continues to lose those kinds of demerit marks as far as proper inspection of vehicles are concerned, then we should attack them very, very strongly, even maybe harder than what you agree with, to make sure people are safe.

I hope I meet all safe trucks on the road, the same as you do.

The Acting Speaker: Further questions or comments? Would you wish to reply? Two minutes.

Mr Crozier: I agree, there is more to the legislation than was simply covered today. I tried to imply by my brevity and my comments about support that we certainly agree with you, that anything we can do to make our roads safer is important, provided we do it in all areas, as I said, from the legislation to the enforcement and to the continued enforcement of that legislation. I'm sure that we all want our roads safer, and I look forward to that.

The Acting Speaker: Further debate?

Mr Gilles Pouliot (Lake Nipigon): I take a great deal of pride and some satisfaction in responding and participating on behalf of the third party regarding Bill 55. It is not catalytic, it's not going to turn the world upside down, but it shall, in progressive order, make the roads of Ontario a little safer.

This highway safety measure is welcome; welcomed by our party, by the New Democrats, welcomed by the motorists and welcomed by the truckers themselves. It consists of a series of small but significant measures and the progressive endeavour to arrive at a significantly better record.

It imposes hefty fines. You get hit in the pocketbook rather big time, and if money is a motivator, or the fear of getting caught, you are more likely to pay attention and to rectify what is an adverse and potentially hazardous situation. If you happen to have one too many, if you choose to consume alcohol and get behind a rig and drive at the same time -- well, it's already beyond the statutes, but this time they're saying if you're above 0.08, then under their jurisdiction the ministry will just lift your licence and say: "No, you cannot earn a living for the next 90 days because we don't tolerate him or her behind a wheel. We don't want your truck to become a killer truck and we will help you comply by taking away your privilege, your permit to operate.

"We will also," says the government of the day, "tighten up the rules on wearing your seatbelt when you're operating a vehicle." You won't have as many exemptions. So the focus on, after you're fined, automatic suspension for 90 days, should you help the breathalyser in scoring above 0.08%, and you can't get away with gimmicks, whether you will wear your seatbelt or not.

I wish to commend the minister. The minister made a commitment on several occasions that he would continue. Mr Speaker, you've been here for 12 years and you saw the evolution. In fact, you will recall, since it is so recent as if it were yesterday, the measures of the New Democratic Party regarding road safety, regarding the partnership with public transportation.

The graduated driver's licence -- remember that? -- so the young people would be better armed to defend themselves and to integrate, and they would have to earn their stripes. We did it, and it made our roads safer.

Photo-radar, that great safety initiative, because we know that speed kills. It's not a secret that one out of every six fatalities in Ontario on our roads and on our highways is the direct result of someone driving too fast.

Seatbelts: If you got caught not wearing your seatbelt in the past, you were hit in the pocketbook. We said: "Well, that's not enough. You will accumulate two points on your licence," or as they say back home, you will lose two points on your licence. "It will not be determined on your ability to pay but also on your privilege to drive."

We did this, and the minister does a little more, so he picks up the issue of safety. He doesn't want to go too quickly, and you know, right -- I see you shaking your head, Mr Speaker -- that it pales in comparison to what has been done before. But his is not a record of comparison. The minister has an immaculate record so far, because when it comes to safety, in the 13th month he's done absolutely nothing. So his record is immaculate. But this is not again a record, a blot on an otherwise immaculate record which will take on extraordinary proportions. This is a step-by-step approach. When I say step by step, it is a style that has been consistent with the present administration. Step by step. There is an element of contradiction, unfortunately.

If only I could candidly -- just the minister, just you and me, Al -- get to know him better and call him on a first-name basis and just candidly talk about road safety, just exchange notes like concerned citizens and parliamentarians do, if I could only look at him straight in the eyes and say, "Minister, while we agree with this, we also agree that you've been consistent, that we can follow the beginning of your intentions, the development of that theme and the conclusion, its transition to the marketplace, and we can almost predict what you're about to do in phase 2, because you're organized."

"Oh, Minister, you're a planner," we would tell him. But let me sadly remind the House of the Jekyll, and some who adhere to the philosophy of a safer transportation system would even utter expressions such as the Judas, the pariah of this argument.


Photo-radar electronically tells you, "If you go too fast, we'll catch you, and by mail you shall be notified that you have exceeded the speed limit and please pay." Because of political expediency, this government takes off photo-radar, "Because we said we would." It doesn't matter what the polls say the next day. The irony is that the municipalities wish to buy back photo-radar.

Then they complain that they don't have enough money for women and men in blue to police our highways. Photo-radar could do that for them and they could deploy them someplace else. Not good enough. "We're going forward, we said we would get rid of photo-radar, so we get rid of it." So much for speeding, so much for safety. You have one less police, one less monitor and far less compliance.

You saw them, Mr Speaker, right after, almost to the minute when photo-radar was taken out of action: at 120 in the left lane, you were pushed off the road. Get out of here. If you're outward-bound in Ontario on a Friday night, on a Saturday night, you better come equipped and be vigilant, for some cowboys have taken over. Nobody's manning the asylum. This is party time. This is new time. Welcome to Mike Harris's Ontario. Oh, you get maimed, some lose their lives. Young people are deprived of the potential of many decades. From the highway to the bag, no problem; there's no monitoring here. You hit that 125 -- I mean, my name is Gilles Pouliot; it's not Gilles Villeneuve. I know my capacity.

Mr Baird: Thank goodness.

Mr Pouliot: Yes, I'm still here. I know my capacity to monitor, and at 135 I would not feel secure.

Mr Baird: You are a fast talker, not a fast driver.

Mr Pouliot: No, I don't exceed speed limits. I always wore my safety belt before I became the Minister of Transportation, and after I became Minister of Transportation I wore my safety belt even more often. It became a mindset.

We had an annual safety blitz -- we started it -- where you're on the main arteries on the 400, Highway 401; it could be any major highway. Every year we stopped the rigs, we stopped the trucks of all sizes coming through and we sent people from the Ministry of Transportation to conduct an inspection. The minister is there and I see him and I thank him for choosing to be in the House today because he will acquiesce, he will agree, that 40% of the trucks inspected -- that's four out of 10 -- were found to be so defective that they should be taken off the road. If that doesn't scare the living daylights out of you when you drive your car, I don't know what does.

Picture this: You have 10 trucks as you are driving the highway, some coming this way, some coming in the same direction, of course. Four out of every 10 shouldn't even be on the highway. When you begin to pass one when it's raining on a two-lane highway, or when there is a snowstorm and you begin to pass in your much smaller vehicle, in your car, and those longer configurations are your competition, you must keep in mind that four out of 10 should not be on the road. We're not talking about a burned ball-bearing; we're talking about hydraulic brakes.

You're one third up in passing. You have your family with you, your spouse and the children in the back seat. As you get to about halfway through, on this snowy evening in February in the riding of Lake Nipigon on Highway 17, silence takes over the car, anxiety, fear. You're three quarters to passing and in the distance you see some lights of another transport. They begin to approach quickly, and you press the accelerator while trying to maintain stability. Is it you? Is it him? Remember, it's 40%. Will one wheel fall off? Will the brakes respond? If you're not sure, you begin to die; you die a little, and oops, you made it this time.

You shouldn't have to; people should not have to be scared to live under those circumstances, and we as a community should seek assurance that if it's not safe, "I'm sorry, no safety, or the lack of it, no driving." The minister is responding in small part to that. I can't forget the contradictions of photo-radar.

I got up this morning, looked at the order paper, tried to prepare myself physically and mentally for the task ahead, for the duty of representing our fine people. You have to keep au courant. I was shocked, appalled. The television answered: The honourable Al Palladini, Minister of Transportation, in a moment of weakness -- maybe he was trying to be cute, I don't know, but humour does not become him -- said right on television that the Toronto transportation system is the worst transportation system in Canada.

Al should have talked to Al, maybe among pals. If Al Palladini, Minister of Transportation, says what I've just mentioned, that the TTC is the worst transportation system in Canada, does that make Al Leach, the Minister of Municipal Affairs, who was the manager, the main man, the worst manager in Canada?

Mr Bill Murdoch (Grey-Owen Sound): I think he was talking about the former Minister of Transportation.

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

Mr Pouliot: What is the connection? When you talk about road safety, you have to encourage people to take public transit. They go hand in hand. You must get people off Highway 401 and get them in the democratic class aboard GO Transit, so you encourage. If you work at the TTC, how did you feel this morning? The minister, who I'm sure didn't have the opportunity or didn't choose to subsidize GO Transit -- you see all those plaques on the wall: international recognition of the TTC, North American recognition of the TTC, the way to do business. Delegations from all over the world come to Toronto and say: "We must learn from Toronto because this part they do very well. Overall, they do well."

To have my spokesperson --

Mr Murdoch: Yours?

Mr Pouliot: I work at the shop there or I'm a clerical worker; I need your help. I know the support system is there, starting at the top. If the general of transportation in the province turns his back on me and says, "You are running the worst transportation system in all of the country," I would be a little vexed, disappointed, saddened. My ability to perform would be, because I believe in the system -- heaven knows, maybe I have a relative who voted for those people.


The Acting Speaker: The member for Grey-Owen Sound, stop interjecting, please.


Mr Pouliot: None of us is perfect, but I wish we would have a little more encouragement.


Mr Pouliot: You support safety? If you support safety, why is it that up to yesterday, up to very recently, if a municipality was to buy rolling stock, a bus, if Toronto was to buy a subway, the provincial government would give you 75 cents on the dollar? They want to get you off the road; they want to promote public transportation.

They've taken the money away. Now you only get 50 cents, so you're supposed to find, as a municipal entity, the other 25 cents. Leach and Palladini have come through with a concoction where the degree of toxicity takes on unprecedented levels. They say, "Don't raise taxes; keep the same lifeline on your vehicles, but now you pay 50%." The municipalities have no alternative but to take another look. Public transportation cannot be enhanced when the senior partner reduces in one shot, overnight, a subsidy from 75% to 50%.

When we talked about safety, not only on our highways but in the 136,000 kilometres of municipal, county and city streets that we have -- and I've just said the highways add to it another 23,000 kilometres -- the transfer payments, money that flows from the province to 800 municipalities, have been reduced too, which means that the potholes will be more prominent. It has to be. The timetable will take longer to address. When it comes to the highways, the Common Sense Revolution, the mantra, the manifesto indicates, and it's very clear, that $300 million less will be spent on Ontario highways.

You can't have it 18 different ways. Infrastructure costs money. It's capital money. The multiplier is very good. For every dollar which is being spent, you get $2 to $3 back. That's the reality of the day. It puts people to work. People will spend their money.

They've taken, and that's the truth, $300 million out of the pool. They have taken out $200 million in transfer payments for public transit. They have taken out 25% of the subsidy, of the partnership. They have taken out photo-radar. They have taken out 1,200 employees. They have taken out 7% of winter maintenance. Who am I to believe? The facts speak for themselves. You cannot weasel, trick your way out of this legacy.

I remind people who are not yet in cabinet -- I imagine that many people aspire one day, if the opportunity presents itself, to serve the province in another capacity -- that they're elected by the people in their ridings, that they carry the freight, that they pay their wages and all politics are local. They must support, because we have the system we have, whatever people in the Premier's office and cabinet office, what some ministers say, and bring back the message to their ridings. You know that when it comes to roads, people will thank you or people will judge very harshly.

It's a sad state of soliciting when you sit in this House during rotation in question period and see for yourself what's going on, and the rotation arrives to a backbencher on the government side -- hey, your turn doesn't come too often, there are so many -- and the member gets up, a little nervous because the welfare of the people back home is at stake, and asks the minister a question about a little stretch of highway: "Mr Minister, please pick me; please deliver me from political defeat that's about to happen. I want blacktop from point A to point B." The minister responds with a great deal of wisdom. He's been tipped off big time; it's been drilled into him in his office each and every day: "I wish to thank the member from so-and-so for the most intelligent question I've had." The member gets up, buys a ticket and hopes the minister picks it, because there's $300 million missing in the pot so somebody's going to suffer, and when you suffer on road rehabilitation it's politically costly, I can assure you.

However, I started by saying that Bill 55 itself -- that's what it's all about -- is a good piece of legislation. Some of us say: "It's a nice day for the minister. I wonder who's going to louse it up?" I'm not going to do this. I just remind the minister of the need to be consistent. People are watching. You can't get away with transportation; it's nuts and bolts. You can't do wrongs. It's not Greek mythology, it's not redefining the atom; it's straightforward, puts people to work. People pay. Have you been to the pump lately, sir?

There was a question today about how you give at the pump big time, but that's another story -- that too; we're being gouged. Last week I had the opportunity to talk about an act of thievery, about those oil companies turning the patient, the client upside down and shaking him until there's nothing left in his pocket. That's for another time, but we're not forgetting about the kind of voracity, the kind of picking on the consumer that goes on.

We support Bill 55, a small step in the right direction. We commend the minister, people from the ministry, people from the political staff. They've been most courteous in sharing information and in seeking our opinion, and to a degree our input, so we thank people and the minister for choosing to be here today.

The Acting Speaker: Questions or comments?

Mr John O'Toole (Durham East): It's a pleasure to rise today to respond to Mr Pouliot, the member for Lake Nipigon and the former Minister of Transportation. From all I have heard and all of the theatrics, he really is the member from the Stratford area, the Stratford Shakespearean Festival. I mean that in all complimentary ways to the member. I take him with a sense of humour and I think we've got to enjoy his comments from time to time.

However, on a more serious note, a couple of items he mentioned: I believe the first point that must be established in this bill we're debating today is the importance of a balanced transportation system in Ontario, and in that balance road safety is central and most important. This government has listened to the inquiries that have been made and the untimely deaths in Ontario and taken steps to improve road safety. If you look at the very definition of the bill, you'll see An Act to promote road safety by implementing commercial trucking reforms, drinking and driving countermeasures and other aspects of Ontario's comprehensive road safety plan.


When you look at the photo-radar, instead of having the photographer on the highways, we have put real police back on our highways in Ontario. That looks at more than just speed; it looks at violations of the Highway Traffic Act itself.

Also, taking a look at road safety, you have to look at the infrastructure for roads in Ontario. There may be an argument that they've been neglected over the last number of years. I don't hold you totally responsible, but certainly what this government is trying to do in a fiscally responsible way is look after the servicing of our transportation system. We're spending $350 million, committed this year, for the infrastructure of our transportation system. I might add we're spending $1.3 billion on public transportation in Ontario. I think the evidence is clear that Minister Palladini is delivering on our promise and the Premier is committed to balance and safety in transportation in Ontario.

Mr Jean-Marc Lalonde (Prescott and Russell): I am pleased to respond to the member for Lake Nipigon. I am also pleased to say I am in favour of this bill. Road safety has to be taken seriously. For many years, we've seen many accidents happening on the highway because of drinking drivers. One of my nephews was killed on the highway because of people taking too much alcohol.

Road safety is very important for the tourism aspect also. In Ontario alone, we get over 272,000 jobs created by the tourism industry. This is the fourth-largest industry in Ontario.

Having those trucks verified on occasion has really brought down the number of trucks that do not meet the requirements of the safety aspect. It was really time that the government came down with this bill.

The only part I'm really worried about is the deregulation of the bus services. I don't think we have the people in place to verify, to make sure the buses coming from other provinces or other countries meet the requirements of the Road Safety Act.

But I am pleased to say that I will be supporting this bill, and the 500 and more people who get killed on the roads every year -- I hope this bill, with the fine that will be implemented, will reduce the number of people killed on these roads.

Mr David Christopherson (Hamilton Centre): It's my pleasure to rise and comment on the speech of my colleague the member for Lake Nipigon. As always, he provided a riveting, eloquent presentation. In addition, this afternoon we also have the benefit of the fact that as a former Minister of Transportation himself he has a great deal of insight. I was pleased that although we had the usual give and take of bantering on the floor, there was an element of respect for the experience that one has, having been a minister, and in particular in this portfolio, as we debate this particular initiative. I remember trying, when I was on the other side of the House, to set aside some of the partisanship and learn from and listen to, particularly, former cabinet ministers who indeed had walked that tough walk.

We of course will be supporting this bill, as my colleague the member for Lake Nipigon has pointed out. But I think it's also right that he should point out that it's difficult for us to accept when the current Minister of Transportation stands in his place and talks about all of the wonderful, wondrous things this government is doing and takes credit for anything it can think of in terms of road safety when we know the kinds of cuts that are taking place directly to the Ministry of Transportation and, just as importantly, to our transfer partners in the municipalities, who indeed are the ones primarily providing the kinds of maintenance and feedback that this ministry needs for us to have an effective network. At times, we do find that a little bit galling.

Also, the issue of photo-radar is one on which even your own Solicitor General, in a moment probably of weakness but certainly honesty, admitted that maybe they moved too quickly. I think it won't be too long down the road when we will see photo-radar brought back, as indeed it should be.

Mr John L. Parker (York East): I'm pleased to rise and add my voice to the remarks of those who have commented on the recent remarks of the member for Lake Nipigon. I'm very pleased that the member has seen fit to lend his support to Bill 55. It took him a while to get around to the point of saying that.

I also have to register some disappointment that, despite the fact that the member registered his support for the bill, I detected very few remarks in the course of his discussion that were actually on the subject of Bill 55. The member took us on a somewhat entertaining, rambling, circuitous dissertation through his personal relations with the existing transport minister and his aspirations for perhaps calling him up and looking him in the eye and having a discussion with him. Whether he's tried that, we don't know. I've had no trouble carrying on a conversation with the current transport minister, and I suspect that the former transport minister, the member for Lake Nipigon, would have no difficulty if he tried that himself.

He mentioned his experiences travelling 120 kilometres per hour on the highways of his riding of Lake Nipigon, presumably in his Cadillac. He mentioned his practice of wearing a seatbelt most of the time, and when he was transport minister he wore it even more of the time than he had customarily done prior to that.

Oh, and a few gratuitous remarks about the TTC and what have you.

But I'm sorry that one point he failed to focus on, which I think is central to the bill itself, is drinking and driving and the dreadful carnage on our highways that's caused by drinking and driving and the measures Bill 55, brought forward by this government, will take to eliminate and control drinking and driving, which is the keystone of this bill. I think it's the hallmark of --

The Acting Speaker (Ms Marilyn Churley): The member's time is up. The member for Lake Nipigon.

Mr Pouliot: The members for York East, Durham East, Prescott and Russell, and Hamilton Centre chose to respond, and all of their points are well taken. It was not through provocation we did -- and unanimity is not commonplace in this or any other assembly. The opposition, under a constitutional monarchy, is there to oppose. The role of a critic is that of a critique: You see the play, you comment on it, and yes, it is a partisan approach.

I know that my counterpart, the minister, is an honourable person. I know him to be sincere and to try to ameliorate. I also know of the difficulties; those I know well. The Premier and the Minister of Finance -- buddy, Deputy Premier -- are very close together. The Minister of Transportation, along with others, sometimes is disturbing that closeness, that peace, by pulling on the blanket. If you're a member of the cabinet, don't you wish you were a member of P and P? Sean Conway knows that very well; he wrote the book on it. If you're a member of P and P, maybe you should be a member of the Premier's office. He does the best he can but he doesn't have the clout to disturb the serenity, the bond between the Premier and the Deputy Premier.

The Acting Speaker: The member's time is up. Further debate?


Mr Jerry J. Ouellette (Oshawa): It's a pleasure to rise after hearing the opposition and the third party both throw their support behind this. We've had numerous meetings and we believe we've brought forward some fair and reasonable legislation here.

My colleague the Honourable Al Palladini spoke about our government's commitment to road safety. I am here to lend my support to this bill, which carries out part of the blueprint the government established with Ontario's plans for road safety. The government has 92 initiatives to make Ontario's roads safer. Today our focus is on five of these items.

Unsafe trucks are a major concern for the public. By increasing fines, some by 10 times what they are now, we are addressing the problem of truckers who treat our current fines system as just another cost of doing business. In so doing, we are adding a strong financial disincentive to the range of penalties truckers now face for ignoring Ontario's safety laws. We are also opening the door to a conduct review system for the trucking industry similar to the demerit point system in place for all drivers. It bears repeating: Bad truckers have no place on Ontario roads and we are going to see that they are removed.

Drinking and driving is also an issue that worries the Ontario public. We are tackling that problem with the introduction of the administrative licence suspension. This means that drivers who blow more than 0.08 into a breathalyser will have their licences suspended by the registrar of motor vehicles for 90 days. Appeals of the administrative licence suspension will be allowed on only two grounds: mistaken identity or where there is a medical reason why a driver cannot blow into a breathalyser. We want drunk drivers off the road immediately; we don't want to wait, possibly giving them the opportunity to injure or kill another motorist in the meantime.

A suspended licence is a sign of a dangerous driver. We believe that suspended drivers must be responsible for their actions, and that includes covering the costs of administering their suspensions. Until now the taxpayer has been paying to complete the paperwork required to reinstate the licences of drivers who have completed their suspensions. No longer; suspended drivers will now have to pay a $100 fee to have their licence returned. We think that's only fair.

Finally, we all know seatbelts save lives. That has been proven time and time again since they were introduced more than two decades ago. We want to make sure all Ontarians buckle up. That is why we are making it much more difficult to obtain exemption for medical reasons. The Ontario Medical Association has clearly stated that there are no valid medical reasons for not wearing a seatbelt. This legislation reflects that by tightly controlling any such exemptions.

We want Ontario's roads to be as safe as possible. This bill takes us one step closer to that goal.

The Acting Speaker: Any questions or comments?

Mr Parker: I'm happy to add this comment to the remarks just made by my friend the member for Oshawa. I was taken with how succinct and direct his remarks were and how clearly they outlined the essential points of this legislation and made it clear for anyone listening just what this legislation is about and the important reforms it will be bring to the traffic laws in this province.

I repeat that, to my mind, one of the single most important and significant elements of this legislation is in the area of drinking and driving. We are all aware of the serious hazards of drinking and driving in this province and throughout North America and perhaps throughout the world. Certainly in this province it is at an absolutely unacceptable level, the degree to which there is damage on the highways, injury on the highways and deaths on the highways as a result of drinking and driving.

Bill 55 helps to address that by introducing an automatic licence suspension when someone is caught drinking and driving. It's immediate, it's swift, it's definite and it takes the guesswork out of the whole process. Someone who drinks and gets behind the wheel of a car in this province knows, as a result of this legislation, that at the very least they're going to lose their licence for the period specified in the act -- no ifs, ands or buts. If anything is going to help address the problem of drinking and driving in this province, it's going to be that kind of swift, sure result from a finding that someone has been drinking while they're in control of a vehicle.

I'm very pleased that we have the support of the two opposition parties on this point, and I look forward to their support when the bill comes to a final vote at the end of the debate. This, to my mind, is the essential, the most critical element of this bill and I'm very pleased with the emphasis that my friend just gave to it in his remarks in support of this legislation.

The Acting Speaker: Further questions or comments? If not, the member for Oshawa.

Mr Ouellette: I just feel that it's good that we can bring all the parties together to put forward some legislation that's going to be beneficial to the drivers of Ontario and to make this a safer place that we can actually be on the roads.

There were some comments earlier on about possible problems on the golf courses or extended hours, but I feel it's necessary to mention that what we're doing there is giving individuals the opportunity, because we believe that people are responsible and that they will act responsibly.

We believe that those people will follow through with their actions. Again, we thank them for their support and look for the support on the final reading of the bill.

The Acting Speaker: Further debate?

Mr Sean G. Conway (Renfrew North): I want to rise to make some comments with respect to the matter before the House this afternoon, which is the second reading of Bill 55, the Road Safety Act, 1996. Like previous speakers, I want to indicate at the outset that I intend to support this bill, and in offering my support I want to offer some observations, some general and some particular.

I should begin by observing that, and I hope I don't sound immodest in saying this, that I have a vested interest in this bill. I, perhaps more than most people, live on the roads of Ontario and have for the last 21 years. I drive about 90,000 kilometres a year through urban and rural Ontario, through winter and summer conditions, and when I think of what I see and what I encounter and what I observe, some of the changing habits of the highways of Ontario, it is with a very real personal interest that I will endorse anything that improves the safety of Ontario highways.

I must say -- and I'm pleased to see the Minister of Transportation with us this afternoon -- my sense is that behaviour on the highways of Ontario has deteriorated for a whole host of reasons, and I certainly don't blame the current government any more than I would blame predecessor governments. There is something happening. It may be the pace of life, it may be technology, but when I think about the kind of etiquette that I used to encounter on the 401 between Toronto and the Quebec border on a weekly basis 20 or 25 years ago as compared to what I experience today, it has not gotten better.


This bill is also a matter that would tempt many of us, myself perhaps most especially, to wax moralistic, and I think we should all be rather careful to avoid that tendency, because if we are honest with ourselves we all know that few of us don't appreciate how it is that some of the motoring public mix drinking and driving. I'm not here to applaud that, but I'll tell you, I have worked in this place for 21 years, and when I just think about this workplace and the conviviality that has sometimes overtaken the place late in the evening or early in the morning, and I observe the behaviour of all honourable members, I recognize the pressures in a regular human life that sometimes draw one to the borders of sin and illegality. So while I think we can agree --


Mr Conway: I don't want to get too personal here, but my constituency touches a place called Frontenac-Addington. Boy, I remember some speeches not too long ago about the first-order importance of virtue. I think that we have an obligation, all of us, to set a good tone. This is about, in principle, public safety, and I hope there isn't a member in the chamber who does not want to support reasonable measures that will advance public safety.

I also live on the Quebec border. I am sick and tired of picking up the Sunday and Monday papers and reading, as I do all too often, of the carnage of the Friday and Saturday night interprovincial traffic that kills altogether too many people, generally young people, and almost always with liquor involved. So am I opposed to drinking and driving? Absolutely. But I don't offer myself as any kind of saint. My colleagues, certainly in my own caucus and those who've been around a while, know that a saint I am not, but we have to be, I think, realistic.

One of my observations over the years is that the best law that we legislate, we write in this place, is the law that is understood and that has some hope of being accepted. Again, I'm from rural Ontario and I get a little annoyed sometimes when I hear people from Ottawa-Carleton or Hamilton-Wentworth or Metropolitan Toronto, where there are fairly substantial, and understandably so, urban transit systems. But you know, if you come from rural Grey or rural Renfrew, your licence is your ticket to work.

So as long as people understand that to take a licence away -- and I believe that there are circumstances when licences should be withdrawn. I can't think of a better one than those circumstances where people clearly have shown a willingness to drink beyond legal limits and drive or attempt to drive. But I just want to say to the assembly this afternoon, that if you take away a licence from somebody in rural Renfrew you are probably putting that person out of work for a period of weeks and months.

You can say, and I would say, that there are responsibilities that attach to citizenship and if you are prepared to break the law, you have to be prepared to accept the consequences. But this is a policy that will impact differentially on urban and rural citizens. It is just a useful thing I think for people to remember that, that my chance of getting to work if I live in Metropolitan Toronto without my driver's licence is probably a greater chance than if I live in rural Renfrew or rural Kent or in rural Grey, to name but three examples, where if I lose my licence and can't make an arrangement with a friend or a colleague, I probably have lost my job for the period of the suspension.

But I want to say to the minister that I support the basic policy because I do think that there is a real, ongoing problem with drinking and driving.

I remember a conversation with now Chief Justice Roy McMurtry, then the Attorney General of Ontario, some years ago. McMurtry made a very telling observation at that point, now back in the mid-1980s I think it was, when we were trying to ascertain what was it about government action that appeared to be having some marked improvement on changing attitudes of drivers or would-be drivers about drinking and driving. I remember the answer to the question and I thought it was a very understandable answer, that we appeared to start to make a very real impact on drinking and driving in Ontario a decade or so ago when people began to realize and believe that their chance of getting caught went up appreciably.

If you think about it, it makes sense. I remember one night about that time, it was a Friday night in December, and on my drive from Toronto to Pembroke I was stopped by not fewer than three RIDE checks. I'm going to tell you, that kind of an experience really sobers one up to the thought that --


Mr Conway: But my point is, and I think the then Attorney General's point was, that we really began to improve the situation when we began to really make people understand that their chances of getting caught were much greater than they had been previously.

I raise that point, Minister, because I know you know that this kind of legislation, without ongoing and significant RIDE programs, is not going to produce the benefits that we all want. There has been a sense -- it has certainly been my sense -- in the last few years, for whatever good or bad reason, that the vigilance around and the frequency of the RIDE program have been slipping. You probably have some numbers to indicate that's not the case; it's certainly been my impression. I say that Bill 55, which I support, is only part of a piece. If we do not have rigorous and vigorous RIDE enforcement, and a rigorous enforcement that is seen to be and known to be rigorous and ever-present, then I don't think we are going to have the kind of results that we all want.

I want to say something else about companion initiatives. Our good friend Mr Sterling, the minister responsible for liquor policy and Minister of Consumer and Commercial Relations, is not here, but I want to make this observation from my own experience, again both in Ontario and in Quebec. It's hard -- and I want to commend the member for Nepean and Mrs Marland. They've been very active, as have a number of members on all sides, in trying to initiate and support good programs with respect to drinking and driving in their areas. In fact I heard a program on CBC Ottawa a couple of weeks ago on which the member for Nepean was the guest and I thought it was quite a good program.

There's no question, I think we've all had -- I know I have had friends and relatives killed, maimed. A cousin of mine is head-injured for the rest of her life; just a nightmare when I think of what my aunt is going to live with for the rest of her life and how my cousin's life was ruined in Haliburton as a university student a couple of years ago when some drunk ran into them and killed two of them and seriously maimed my 20-year-old cousin. We've all had those experiences. If we haven't had them in our own family, we know of cases that are of that kind.

I want to come back to the point I was making in involving Mr Sterling. I think, and I make this as an ecumenical observation, that we have been altogether too soft in this province when it comes to really taking a tough position with those drinking establishments that we all know are really bad cats. I'm not talking about the good people, obviously, or even the people in between. Let me be very specific. In my part of eastern Ontario, I can almost predict. Between the establishments in western Quebec and eastern Ontario, it's tragically predictable where the bulk of the problem arises. How some of these people keep provincially issued licences is beyond me.

The worst offender that I have in mind happens -- and I hope I'm not being unfair when I say this -- to be an establishment just across the interprovincial bridge at Pembroke in the province of Quebec. I've played a lot of sports in my day and some days I'd like to be Speaker because my experience is that there comes a time when non-verbal communication is what is required.

With these egregious misconduct artists, I think the debate's got to end. For those liquor establishments, those drinking establishments, which by any objective measure are bad, never get any worse, just thumb their nose at the OPP and the QPF and the Ontario liquor licence commission and the Quebec licence commission, I say there comes a point in time where the debate ends and you, Harry or Mary of Charlie or Frances, lose your licence, end of debate.

Unless and until that kind of enforcement takes place at that level, why would anybody change their behaviour? It's like going into a corner with Gordie Howe and your chin up and your elbows down. I'm sorry; if you break your jaw, don't come to me crying.

There is a point where I think we have to say the minister of highways is not a sole actor in this. We're now going to be easing liquor regulations, and some of that I understand, but surely the collateral piece of that is that for those drinking establishments which by any objective standard have a well-known, well-demonstrated pattern of misconduct and misbehaviour, there has to be more than a slap on the wrist. I think that's a piece of this policy that has to be there as well.


My impression over the years has been -- in fact I know the liquor licence board revokes licences. But I tell you, I look at some of these bad operators and ask myself, how do they keep their licence? How do they manage to do it through Tory, Liberal and NDP administrations? What is it? Is it just a collective incapacity? Does the OPP not talk to the LLBO? There used to be a time when for politicians, that was the best patronage we had to offer, the old liquor licence business, so we were in a complete conflict of interest. You couldn't crack the whip on the tavern keepers, because where would your campaign fund come from next time?

I'm certain we've advanced beyond that point, but I say to the Minister of Transportation that Bill 55, without a more vigorous RIDE program, without tougher enforcement by the Liquor Licence Board of Ontario aimed at bad actors, and I mean the really bad actors, if those kinds of initiatives are not pursued, I think Bill 55 stands rather naked and rather likely to produce much less than the minister and his colleagues on the treasury bench would hope for.

I presume, Minister, that this bill has been carefully vetted with the cognoscenti in the department of justice, because there are significant issues involving civil liberties that attach to this policy. I'm not a lawyer -- some of my illustrious colleagues from the law society will probably speak to this at a later point -- but we do have something called due process, and we are not allowed as politicians -- and certainly the charter makes plain that just because we believe in our political hearts and souls that the end is a desirable one, we are not allowed to simply throw due process to the wind. I am assuming that the department of justice has given its support to the loss of that civil right, which is the right to drive, for a period of three months, which is a significant penalty.

I make the point again that there is no doubt that if we are going to change bad behaviour, we are going to have to and we are going to have to be seen to be tougher than we have been in certain cases over the years. Growing up in the Ottawa Valley in the 1960s, I tell you, the attitude around drinking and driving was very casual. It has changed, and I think it is to the credit of parents and the school community, business, labour, the police forces and a variety of others who are community leadership that attitudes have changed. There is no doubt that people today, young people growing up, have a better attitude around drinking and driving than was the case when I was a teenager in the 1960s. But we are far from where we need to be to ensure the kind of public safety that the motoring public expects.

I want to say a word finally about the truck business, truck safety. It used to be when I travelled around particularly on the 400 series highways that the best drivers, both in terms of skill and courtesy, were the truck drivers. I guess the car drivers have so abused the truck drivers that the truck drivers have decided to be as bad as many of the car drivers. In the last few years the etiquette of a growing number of truck drivers has become quite worrisome. When you marry that kind of aggressive driving with what we know to be a deteriorating condition of the rigs on the road, yes, I certainly agree with the minister that tougher penalties, tougher sanctions are the order of the day.

I have talked to a number of truck drivers and transportation company executives, business people in my part of eastern Ontario and I think good people will endorse this legislation, although they will expect from the minister of highways some reasonable administration of the policy. People I represent in rural eastern Ontario often say: "Yes, we want to oblige, we want to do as the ministry would have us do, but we've got rules that fail to take into account that this is a large province. Northern and rural Ontario have some different imperatives in terms of just meeting the standard that this government and previous governments would want."

The whip has arrived and she's giving me the high sign, and when the whip does that I oblige forthwith.

I support Bill 55. There is no question that we have to send a strong signal to those who would drink and drive that there are going to be tough sanctions. As well as enact tougher sanctions, we have to support this kind of policy with, as I said earlier, a more rigorous RIDE program than I've seen in recent months and years and tougher enforcement by the liquor board with respect to those bad apples in the barrel where licensed establishments are concerned. I simply say to the minister that a good policy is a policy that can be fairly and sensibly administered, not just in urban but in rural Ontario as well.

The Acting Speaker: Comments or questions?

Mr O'Toole: It's a pleasure to respond to the member for Renfrew North with regard to Bill 55. I take it from my reading that he pretty much agrees with the bill.

He made a couple of points. With respect to transportation safety, I think it's an important thing, but in fairness to those responsible operators and business owners in Ontario, in the recent road blitz on truck safety there were 500 more trucks pulled over, and of that total, in a zero tolerance environment, I might add -- this wasn't just a token audit; this was a very important audit -- there were more trucks pulled over, and in the last audit in 1995, 43% of the trucks were found to have failed the test; this year it was down to 39%. In all, I think most of the companies are responding. They're responding to reports. For example, in the Oshawa area one of the constituents of Jerry Ouellette's was involved in a fatality, and the coroner's report -- this has alerted the commercial businesses to become more responsible, and this bill gives them some motivation to be more responsible.

There's one other aspect the member mentioned: the automatic or administrative licence suspension. I really believe that this is an important one to address the civil liberties issue, but I think people can avoid being arrested by simply recognizing that it's no longer socially acceptable to drink and drive, period. That's the answer, the solution.

If you want to look at the prescriptive nature, it's in section 48.3, which deals with licence suspension at the roadside. In fact, it's the registrar of motor vehicles who is duly empowered to suspend the licence, not the police officer at the side of the road, after there has been a proper breathalyser test done and the 0.08 has been blown. This is to come into effect, it's my understanding, in October 1996. People should recognize that this bill is focused on cutting out the carnage on our roads in Ontario.


Mrs Elinor Caplan (Oriole): I think my colleague the member for Renfrew North raises some very good points about this bill. We all know that drinking and driving is something that we would like to see eliminated. We also know that there are those who have their licences rescinded and they continue to drive, and there are those who drive without insurance, and therefore enforcement is a very serious problem in this province.

Existing legislation has the principle of an automatic revoking of licensing. Right now it is 12 hours. That has proven inadequate, given the inadequacies of the court system. Whether 90 days or 30 days would be a better solution, only time will tell. This legislation provides for a 90-day suspension. My own view, and I think it is in full agreement with my colleague from Renfrew North, is that while this legislation is supportable, there is much that needs to be done in the area of enforcement, because we all want to see drinking and driving eliminated in the province. It is a significant safety issue. My constituents in the riding of Oriole, I think, agree wholeheartedly that those people who drink and drive should have their licences suspended.

There are some concerns about those people who might be found not guilty after they have had the opportunity of going to a trial, and so we would like to see these things dealt with as expeditiously as possible. But certainly if there's any issue that captures the hearts and the minds of the people of the province, it is that those people who drive when they are drunk deserve little mercy.

I want to add my support for the legislation, but also my pleas to the government that it steps up enforcement on those who are driving with licences that are under suspension and those who are driving without insurance and those who are generally making our roads unsafe. We hope the government will take action.

Mr Tilson: Just a few comments: The member for Renfrew North, I believe, has indicated his support for the bill but has given some suggestion that perhaps people in the rural areas of our province will be treated less equally than people in the city, who have access to transportation. I certainly can understand that because I represent a semirural area in my community.

I think the problem is that we all know that whatever we have isn't working, with the terrible accidents that all of us can relate personally. The member gave some personal examples. I live in Caledon, and the accidents we have in Caledon are just horrendous, young people involved in drinking and driving, and it's just tragic.

A few years ago it used to be that you could have your licence suspended but you could drive during the week. There were strange little rules about whether it's incarceration or driving for economic reasons.

These accidents are so serious and so horrendous that my only response to the member who is trying to distinguish, or appears to be trying to distinguish, to be fair to him, between rural driving and city driving is that these accidents are so horrendous, that's how serious it's going to be. Whether you live in the country or the city, if you drink, you've got problems, and if you don't drink, you shouldn't have any problems whatsoever.

A few years ago, who would have thought that today we'd have designated drivers. It's almost a common language, that type of attitude. I think that's the important thing, that the laws we're passing are developing, I believe, an attitude with respect to drinking and driving.

I am going to support this legislation, as the member for Renfrew North does, and I hope the rest of the House does as well.

Mr John C. Cleary (Cornwall): I just want to thank the member for Renfrew North for his fine speech, and I just want to put a few things on the record.

The OPP should be on the highways protecting safety, to do what they do best, and I'd just like to read a letter:

"Dear Mr Cleary,

"I would like to bring to your attention an incident that occurred a few weeks ago. I am presently employed by a Cornwall tractor-trailer driver.

"After delivering a load in Montreal on May 2, I returned to home base in Cornwall with 4,000 pounds on the trailer. At approximately 11 am, I stopped at the automatic weigh scales in Lancaster, Ontario. After entering the scales I was asked to go forward, back up and go forward again" so that all the axles could be weighed. "Eventually, I was given the green light and was able to leave after 10 minutes in the lane. I was under the impression that this scale house was fully automatic and I feel I should have driven over the scale instead of being stopped with only 4,000 pounds....

"At that time, I realized that the individuals who were working in the booth (one inside and one outside) on that day were OPP officers. Since when do the provincial police operate the scale houses? What has happened to the MTO officials? Could you please find out for me how long the OPP have been running the weigh scales and what happened to the MTO officials?

"Thanks for your help.

"A concerned citizen."

I know that incident has happened a few times in our part of Ontario and, as I said in my opening remarks, I think the OPP officers should be on the highway, doing what they're trained to do -- stopping traffic accidents and not running weigh scales.

Mr Conway: I want to thank my colleagues for their observations and responses. Let me be clear: There has to be one law and it has to be applied uniformly across the province. I'm not here arguing, I say to the member from Caledon, for two sets of rules, but I am asking the assembly to understand that there are different realities in this province. Personally, throw the book at drinking and driving. You're not going to offend me if you do that; you're going to protect me.

But I'm sure there are others in this assembly on all sides who would probably have had my experience of going out and talking and listening to the OPP detachment people in places like Apsley and Killaloe and Whitney and hearing what they say about what is actually going on. When the law becomes an ass because it's not abided by, what benefit have we got? Let me be clear: I support Bill 55, I want the book thrown at people who drink and drive, but I want a law that can be and will be seen as enforceable. It does me no good at all to come in here and have these tub-thumping speeches about virtue and public safety and then find out we've got good, hardworking men and women in the employment of Her Majesty's provincial government out in the regions saying, "I know what you intended, but let me tell you what's really going on."

I want the behaviour changed. I want the incidence of drinking and driving reduced, hopefully to nothing, though in humankind that might be a lot to expect. I will support Bill 55, and I'll feel just a little more comfortable if at the end of the process we've got something that the enforcers can actually --

The Acting Speaker: Thank you. The member's time has expired. Further debate?

Mr Len Wood: There are a lot of good things in Bill 55 that I will be supporting, when we're talking about truck safety, about tightening up seatbelt exemptions, about driver suspension for impaired drivers, people who drink. There's no doubt that the blitz that was started by the NDP government in terms of truck safety is still being supported. I congratulate the Ontario trucking industry for continuing the support to tighten up and crack down on truck safety that, as I said before, was started by the NDP government and is continuing.

I want to cover some of the other areas. When we're talking about highway safety, as far as I'm concerned, anybody in this Legislature would be supporting whatever is needed to make the roads a lot safer. But the Conservative government campaigned on the abolition of photo-radar, which means it legalized the speeders on the highways. They're encouraging people to drive faster by abolishing photo-radar. I'm sure this makes the Minister of Transportation happy, because he was part of the cabinet decision that abolished it. That, to me, doesn't make the roads safer.

I've talked to a lot of OPP officers out there. They're very unhappy as well that their lives are being put at risk now, because they're expected to go out there in the six-, eight- or 12-lane highways and pull over speeding drivers. Their lives are being put at risk as a result of abolishing photo-radar. They're not going to do it. We don't want to see our law officers being put at risk as the result of a decision that was made in the heat of an election campaign, "We don't think photo-radar is good, and some people in southern Ontario would like to get rid of it, so we'll abolish it." As a result of that, they've put people at risk.


When we look at Bill 55, and we're talking about road safety, there are other areas in it that probably could have been covered better, but I will support Bill 55.

The cutbacks have taken place not only in northern Ontario but right across the province. When you talk about reducing the money that's going for municipal roads by 50%, as a result of money not going in the municipalities either have to raise their property taxes or they allow the potholes to increase on all the roads, not only on highways but on municipal roads.

I believe that potholes cause accidents. I listened to the member for Nickel Belt explaining that one person never saw an accident in his life; since the Conservative government got elected a year ago, he blew two tires making a trip of about 500 kilometres because of the potholes he had hit. This is a direct result of the cutbacks that are taking place. Some of the cutbacks are, like I said before, as much as 50%.

Mr Steve Gilchrist (Scarborough East): It didn't happen overnight.

Mr Len Wood: We hear some people on the other side saying the cutbacks don't make the roads more unsafe, but we know for a fact that they do. It costs money to maintain roads, and you see that just in the northern highway budget over the next two years they've cut $11.5 million in funding.

We went through major cutbacks last year. During the wintertime the roads were not safe. The only solution they had was: "We don't have the snowplow operators or the sander operators or the people out putting down salt. We can't afford to keep them on the payroll." They laid off 125 of them. Then they take the OPP away from enforcing the laws of this province and they say: "You go out and put up roadblocks and block off the roads. This is going to be your job, to make sure that no traffic goes through for the next two or three days or whatever until we can find people to go out and plow the roads."

From what I understand, they've even gone one step further now. Instead of just contracting out all winter maintenance, they're going to close down most of the MTO yards along Highway 11 and probably along Highway 17 and contract out all the work and get rid of most of the permanent employees who were there. They're there for a reason. When you have potholes that show up in the road, they go out and fill them so that they're safe roads to travel on, and also in the wintertime they can have the roads plowed and sanded and salted so that people can travel safely.

Everybody in this province believes in safety. Nobody wants to see innocent people die on our highways, especially if it's the result of a tire falling off a transport or off a bus and going through somebody's windshield. Anybody in this Legislature will support that. I support the legislation in Bill 55 that talks about getting drunk drivers off the road and about immediate driver suspension. It will go a long way to clean up the roads and make them a lot safer.

When we're looking at the proper design and maintenance and the infrastructure for the roads, it's okay to say we're going to clamp down on the transports that are unsafe, which I support. They don't have proper brakes or the wheels are falling off. I support people wearing the proper seatbelts, I support people not being allowed to drink and drive, but I also support the fact that we should not be cutting back on the money that is needed to repair this infrastructure, because if it is not repaired now -- and it's quite obvious that this Conservative government has no intention of repairing the roads or maintaining them in a proper condition; they are going to let them deteriorate -- this is going to be a debt that is going to be carried over for the next government or the government after that.

We saw in previous governments, not in the last 10 years, but prior to that they borrowed every year, never had balanced budgets, and yet let the roads deteriorate to a point where it took 10 years of spending to get them back into half-decent shape. Now, the last 12 months, we can see that the roads are deteriorating drastically again and we're back to the same government that was in here for 42 years prior to that.

The Minister of Northern Development and Mines was always responsible for helping to maintain the roads and repair them throughout northern Ontario, and now we see that is not going to happen. What they've done is abandon all the transfers, or cut them by 50% to all of the municipalities. They've even cut the money off that is going to airports, and as a result, municipalities are either going to have to close down their airports or they're going to have to increase the property taxes in places like Hearst and Cochrane. I don't know yet what is going to happen with the airport in Kapuskasing, because it's a federal airport and they're negotiating the takeover of that.

The list could go on and on with the amount of cut, slash and burn and disrespect for the people in the province. We don't have public transportation in northern Ontario in most of the communities. There's no public transportation in any of the communities that I represent, and as the member for Renfrew pointed out, if a person loses their driver's licence, in a lot of cases they also lose their job, because we don't have the GO train or the streetcars or the bus system that is subsidized by in some cases 50% and in some cases 75%.

We had a little portion of our air transportation through norOntair that was being subsidized by the government and they said, "Even though we subsidize transportation in Toronto, in Windsor, public transportation in these big communities, we are not going to allow any money to be used to subsidize air travel in northern Ontario." As a result, in three particular communities we have three different air carriers that have been in there, and now it looks like at least six of the communities are going to lose proper air travel to get to the larger centres for medical reasons or for doing business or whatever.

It's a direct result of Mike Harris and his cabinet deciding: "We're going to write northern Ontario off. We didn't elect anybody from northern Ontario in the last election and we're going to completely write off northern Ontario. All the money that comes out of there for the natural resources, the lumber, the pulp and the paper we're going to gobble up. It's okay to subsidize public transportation in other cities, but we're not going to allow it to happen in northern Ontario." People are angry.

As I said earlier, I'm supporting most of the aspects of Bill 55 because we're talking about road safety, but I'm concerned and fearful that the road system is going to deteriorate and we're not going to have any law officers to enforce the rules. You can make all the laws in Ontario that you want. If you're going to lay off all of the people who should enforce them, the inspectors, reduce the OPP officers who are out there, reduce the municipal police by cutting back on their transfers and cutting back on everything, all the laws the Ontario government brings in, if they cannot be enforced because of the cutbacks in manpower, are of no value.

I'll wrap up at this point. In terms of truck safety, tires falling off trucks, buses, drinking and driving, seatbelts, safety on the highways, I don't want to see any of my friends, neighbours or children crippled for life or killed because of not having strict enough rules and legislation in this province, so I'll be supporting Bill 55.


The Acting Speaker: Questions or comments?

Mrs Margaret Marland (Mississauga South): It is a particular pleasure and a personal interest for me to support Bill 55, not the least of which reason was a very tragic death in my riding in the summer of 1994 when a young man by the surname of Lavery was killed by a drunk driver. The significant thing about that death was that this was the second person this woman driver had killed. She had killed somebody in I think 1988, and then in about 1992 she put someone in a wheelchair for life, and she now had killed a second person. My concern about drunk driving, which had always been a tremendous concern on my part, became accelerated by that particular tragedy and the grief of the Lavery family and the tremendous loss of a very wonderful young man who was doing extremely well at university and was being scouted for the major leagues in ball.

That fall, I introduced a private member's bill which included automatic licence suspension. During my research for that bill, I discovered that in the most recent year we had figures for, we had 30,000 convictions for drunk driving in this province in 1992, 59% of whom were repeat offenders. The subject of trying to curb drunk driving is one that I know all of us in this House share.

My private member's bill actually died on the order paper because the New Democratic Party government did not call the House back. I'm looking forward to reintroducing that bill. In the meantime, I appreciate very much that our government has introduced part of it in Bill 55.

Mr Christopherson: It's my pleasure to rise and compliment my colleague from Cochrane North on his very effective speech. Many of us in southern Ontario don't fully appreciate the differences in lifestyle and in priorities, many times, between those of us in the south and those of us in the north. The member for Cochrane North has consistently, from the time he was elected to this place on September 6, 1990, provided an effective voice for the north in making sure that northern Ontarians are not forgotten, so it doesn't surprise me that much of his speech centred on the fact that this government indeed seems to have abandoned the north entirely.

Historically, we know northern Ontario has had to fight to get the kind of attention it needs. They have specific concerns around health issues in particular, but in any kind of service provided by the provincial government, they've had to fight that much harder. This government, and it seems for no other reason we can ascertain other than that you didn't elect any members in northern Ontario, has decided they can go ahead and abandon the needs of northerners.

When you're talking about the vast distances one does in the north, the road system is as crucial to you as the health system and as the education system, perhaps more so than to the rest of us here in the south where we've maybe got alternatives. When we see over $11 million cut and over 125 staff from the Ministry of Transportation laid off in the north, I think it makes the case that indeed you have abandoned northerners.

The other point I'd like to make is that while this government talks about anti-drinking-and-driving measures, it's the same government that cut funding for public education programs around that very issue, and we ought not to forget that.

The Acting Speaker: Further questions or comments? If not, the member for Cochrane North.

Mr Len Wood: In the minute I have to wrap up, I just want to thank my good colleagues the member from Hamilton and the member from Mississauga for their comments.

Our invitation from the northern caucus is still there. We've asked the Minister of Transportation to come and take a tour. Don't just fly over northern Ontario and stop in one place and have lunch with a few people from the chamber of commerce. Take the road and travel through northern Ontario and see what it's all about. In the amount of time he spent filling up potholes on Highway 400, he could have flown to Timmins and Cochrane and Hearst instead of doing the work the contractors should be out there doing. The invitation is still there that he could put his suit back on, instead of coveralls, and get out there and do the job he's supposed to be doing in administering the highways in the province.

I would hope he would lean over and remind the Minister of Northern Development and Mines that you've neglected northern Ontario enough when it comes to highways. He's supposed to take some responsibility for it. He hasn't been doing it. With the three ministers who are responsible for all the province in reality, at least 80% of it -- the Minister of Municipal Affairs and Housing, Mr Leach, Mr Palladini and Mr Hodgson -- take some responsibility and go out and do the job that is supposed to be done. We all know they want to save dollars and they want to have good safety on the roads. I want that as well, but I don't believe we have to cut, slash and burn all the subsidies in all of Ontario to achieve that.

The Acting Speaker: Further debate?

Mrs Lyn McLeod (Leader of the Opposition): I rise to speak really just to one part of this bill, and that's the proposal for automatic suspension of a driver's licence for 90 days when a blood alcohol test is over the legal limit.

I know there have been concerns expressed both within the Legislature during this debate and outside the Legislature about such issues as guilt being determined before there is actually a trial and conviction. There are concerns about the length of the suspension and whether 90 days is appropriate. There have been concerns about the impact of this particular measure on those who drive for a living. I would suspect there might be some modifications that could be considered as a result of debate. But I rise in support of this part of the bill because I think the purpose of the bill is one that we have to support, and that is quite simply to get drivers who drink off our roads.

I, like other members who have spoken, am not objective about this and I'm not even particularly political about this. All of us have personal anecdotes. It was 12 years ago that my eldest daughter, along with three of her friends, was involved in a car accident where they were hit by a drunk driver driving with one arm and no licence. It was only 7 o'clock in the evening. It was before the time when parents even start to worry. There was another car involved, and that car had a mother with two young children in it. Thank goodness, none of the people involved in that accident was killed. But I will never forget, as a parent, the sheer anguish of the time between being called and told that my daughter was in an ambulance on her way to the hospital and my knowledge that my daughter would be okay. I therefore can somehow share the anguish of those that is so much greater when the result is not as fortunate as it was in my daughter's case.

I believe we must do whatever we can do, take whatever additional measures can be helpful, to stop the carnage on our highways. Our primary concern surely has to be for the future of victims and for future victims.

I also have to recognize that I would be very concerned, and I want this to be on the record, if this government was in any way setting a rule here which it does not intend to enforce because cuts get in the way.

I was very deeply disturbed some time ago when there was a leaked ministry document from the Solicitor General's ministry that proposed that one of the cuts that would achieve the target for cuts for that ministry could be a $4-million reduction in the OPP RIDE program. I was extremely relieved, and let me acknowledge that as well, that in the last budget there was in fact an increase in funding for the RIDE program of some $1.2 million. It would, in my view, have been absolutely unthinkable -- absolutely unthinkable -- to have considered cutting the RIDE program, and I'm surprised it was even on a list of items to be considered. It's my understanding that the RIDE program has been the single most effective way of ensuring that we do not have accidents as a result of drunk driving on our roads.

I know from personal experience, anecdotal as it may be, that the RIDE program, together with some more stringent measures for punishing those who are involved in drinking and driving, was the underpinning for the success of the designated driver concept.


I know again from the anecdotal experience of being a parent of four daughters that the understanding of the designated driver concept -- young people knew, and adults for that matter knew, that if they were to be caught drinking and driving, the penalties would be extreme and therefore they had better make sure that one of the people they were with in the evening was not going to be drinking. That brought about an unbelievably dramatic, almost a generation gap in the incidence of drinking and driving in a very short period of time. I certainly saw it in the difference in the experiences of my four daughters in high school.

With my two oldest daughters, there was a constant concern about whether there would be drinking and driving among their group. It was a standing rule in our household that you had to call home for a ride rather than take any chance of getting into a car with somebody who wasn't sober. Four years later, when my two younger daughters were in high school, it was much less of a concern, because that idea of a designated driver had become part of the social norms for their gangs.

I was talking to the executive director of MADD last week and he told me that kind of anecdotal experience has been verified by the statistics they now have that show that the difference that was created by that combination of programs has followed through with those particular age groups. They're seeing less incidence of drinking and driving in that young adult group which is just now in their early 30s and late 20s. That group over 30 still is having greater incidence of drinking and driving than the young adult group which is just behind them and who had that sense of the designated driver built into the social norms.

I don't think the success is universal, and that's why we need stronger measures. I know for sure that no program of penalties, no RIDE program or no designated driver program would work or will work in the future unless it is backed by tough enforcement on the roads. That's what this really has to come down to, because those who are prepared to violate the rules of drinking and driving are only going to be penalized if they are caught. If they think they can get away with drinking and driving, even the stiffest penalties, such as those proposed in this legislation, will not be a deterrent.

I want to take just a moment as well to express some concern. Although I have acknowledged with appreciation the fact that there has been an increase in the budget for the RIDE program, which I think is so important, I want to express some concern about the $500,000 cut in the anti-drinking-and-driving ad campaign.

It seems to me that even as we talk about legislation that introduces stricter penalties for drinking and driving, we have to recognize that the goal is not just to punish the bad guys; the goal is to prevent drunk driving and prevent the accidents that drunk drivers cause. Strict penalties will be a deterrent if there is enforcement on the highways so those who drink and drive know they're going to be caught and will pay a price. But awareness is also important, so that the driver isn't getting in a car drunk to start with. I believe the anti-drinking-and-driving ad campaign was an important part of education and it should go hand in hand with this new tougher penalty legislation.

I also believe this government must carry its stated concerns in presenting this legislation, stated concerns for drinking and driving, into other areas its legislation affects. I do think the government is prone to sending conflicting messages, and I know my colleague from Essex South has spoken to this. They cut anti-drinking-and-driving ad campaigns, but they bring in legislation that changes the drinking hours and that introduces drinking on golf courses. Clearly, these regulation changes carry the potential to, almost certainly are going to, increase the number of people who get in cars having had too much to drink.

We are more than prepared to support tough new penalties in the name of doing anything we can do to ensure that we reduce the incidence of drinking and driving and therefore the incidence of devastating accidents caused by drunk drivers. But we are going to hold this government to account. We're going to hold them to account for effective enforcement and for a more consistent effort across all the ministries to ensure that we can discourage drunk drivers from getting into their cars in the first place. It's with that that we will provide our support for this next step in ensuring that we can reduce the carnage of drunk driving on our highways.

The Acting Speaker: Questions or comments?

Mrs Caplan: I will not continue for long except to say that I think the point our leader made, that the drinking and driving ad campaign has been cancelled, is important, especially when we see the government advertising its recent budget. We've seen advertising which is not as important as the drunk driving campaign. I hope perhaps they'll reconsider the allocation of their ad dollars.

The Acting Speaker: Further questions or comments? Would the leader of the official opposition like to sum up?

Mrs McLeod: I'll waive my response time to allow other members to debate.

Mr David Ramsay (Timiskaming): It's a pleasure to rise this afternoon on this very important bill and initiative that the government is carrying forward. It wasn't too many years ago that drinking and driving was considered behaviour that maybe people shouldn't indulge in but behaviour that a lot of people did, unfortunately. We had a lot of carnage on our roads, and it reached a point of epidemic proportions years ago.

Over the years, subsequent governments have really started to clamp down on this. While it was just behaviour that some people indulged in and people at the time really didn't think it was all that bad, we now realize from the government initiatives over the last 15 years that this is murder and that drinking and driving are a deadly mix and that people who do this should incur absolutely stiff penalties.

This culture is something that developed over the years and happened maybe in some regions more than other regions. It was unfortunate that over those years in some cases it became accepted behaviour that people left parties or taverns or bars in an inebriated condition and went behind the wheel and unfortunately in many cases carnage ensued.

From time to time, we still hear of major automobile accidents where this type of condition existed. It's very sad that over the years, especially at this time of year around graduation time, in one or another part of the province we read about a tragic accident with a carload of some of our brightest young people who, with the exuberance of springtime and finishing off of the school year, get into a situation where they're partying, and we can understand young people doing that, but make the fatal mistake after that of getting behind the wheel of an automobile.

If there's anything to be learned from these tragedies of the past and the government initiatives that have come over the years, including this initiative here today, it is that young people watching today, the young people who are in this assembly as legislative pages, really understand the importance of not mixing alcohol and driving.

We applaud what the government is doing in regard to this bill. We certainly have some cautions in regard to legal matters -- suspending licences for 90 days with the results of the initial breathalyser test -- and the police and the courts are going to have to work through that. But the principle is sound that this type of behaviour is not to be condoned in this province, that this type of behaviour has to stop with people of all ages, because it is causing death on our highways, we're losing a lot of human life on our highways and we cannot have this continue. I am sure all members of this Legislature support this principle and I hope members of this House will support this initiative.


The Acting Speaker: Questions or comments?

Mr Bernard Grandmaître (Ottawa East): I'd like to add my voice in support of Bill 55 for a number of reasons. As pointed out by the previous speaker, around this time of the year young people from colleges and universities do have a tendency to celebrate their year in school and forget about the consequences of drinking and driving. I hope that Bill 55 will ring a bell for people who take advantage of drinking and driving.

At the same time, if I may speak to the bill directly, I agree with the 90-day suspension but I would like the minister to realize that some people might be suspended for a full 90 days before they appear in court. Our court system has to realize that some of these people may not be guilty. I think it has to be proven by our court system. I hope that our court system will improve and bring these people to justice, bring these people to court as soon as possible.

Also, a number of us have pointed out that yes, we realize that the RIDE program has more dollars, the government is investing more dollars this year. I think more dollars are needed to improve the RIDE program and also to have more police officers on the road protecting innocent victims. In my own riding I can relate to a number of --

The Acting Speaker: Thank you. The member's time has expired.

Mrs Caplan: In the few minutes remaining in this debate, I guess the comment I want to make is that drinking and driving is something which has not only become socially unacceptable but I think the statement we're making in this Legislature is that we want to make the strongest possible statement: We want to stop it. The concern I have is that it's fine to write legislation, but if nobody pays attention to it the legislation is only as good as the enforcement that goes along with it.

While I am pleased that we're going to see greater RIDE program enforcement, we also need to know that there will be the policies in place and a government whose will is dedicated to seeing that this legislation is, in fact, enforced. Given some of the tremendous cuts that we're hearing to law enforcement across the province, many of us have concerns that this legislation will simply be another piece of paper that no one pays attention to.

It's not only this legislation; it's the fact that people are driving their cars who are under suspension and that there are people who are driving their cars who have no insurance. This is an all-too-common occurrence in the province of Ontario. People feel very strongly and very passionately that we want safe roads. We don't want people who are drunk driving on our roads. We also don't want people who have had their licences suspended or who are driving without insurance to be on our roads. Unless the province dedicates itself to that kind of enforcement, people will continue along their merry way, doing as they please, and we will see that the roads in Ontario will not be as safe as they could be if the government dedicated itself to enforcement.

Advertising campaigns such as the anti-drunk driving campaign raise the consciousness of the public, and I am concerned because the government has cut those ads as well.

The Acting Speaker: Further questions or commets? If not, the member for Timiskaming.

Mr Ramsay: One cautionary note I'd like to bring to the government members is that when the government first took over last year, in the initial expenditure control program there was a cutback last year on the RIDE program. You fixed that subsequently in this year's budget, and I applaud you on that. It is going to be very, very important that you keep the funding in place for the RIDE program not only provincially through the OPP, but most especially in all those small municipal police forces and those small towns and villages across this province where there can be a prevalence, if there's not the enforcement, that this type of activity can certainly happen. It's going to be very important with law like this that the enforcement be there to back up this law, because if we don't have the enforcement then the behaviour will start to grow again.

It was only through the initial efforts back in the late 1980s when Ian Scott brought through this first piece of legislation to really start to tell the people of Ontario that this type of activity would not be condoned any longer, actions of the previous government and now what you're doing here -- it's this combined effort of all of us to send that very strong and powerful signal out to the people of Ontario that this is not an activity we find acceptable. But to back that up with the enforcement is very important, and that costs money.

I know you're in a cost-cutting exercise and that you want to find every place you can to cut, but in areas of public security and public safety such as this it is paramount that you keep funding there and ensure there is sufficient funding, even if you have to find a little bit more, to make sure the job is done, that we've got adequate police presence on the roads and streets of Ontario, especially on weekends and in the evenings when this activity can be more prevalent, to make sure this activity is stopped and that we save the lives of Ontarians.

The Acting Speaker: Mr Palladini has moved second reading of Bill 55. Is it the pleasure of the House that the motion carry? Carried.

Shall the bill be ordered for third reading? Agreed.

Pursuant to standing order 34, the question that this House be adjourned is deemed to have been made.


The Acting Speaker (Ms Marilyn Churley): The member for Hamilton East has given notice of his dissatisfaction with the answer to his question given by the Minister of Community and Social Services concerning workfare. The member has up to five minutes to debate the matter and the parliamentary assistant may reply for up to five minutes.

Mr Dominic Agostino (Hamilton East): I'm pleased, on the eve of the expected workfare announcement tomorrow by the minister, that we're trying to get some further clarification from this government as to how it plans to treat agencies and organizations that may, on principle or for their own good reasons, refuse to participate in the workfare program.

The plan that's going to be released tomorrow is regressive, punitive and intent on punishing people for being unemployed, for being poor. That is the intent of this government with the plan it is going to release tomorrow.

Workfare programs, particularly mandatory workfare programs that this government is going to outline tomorrow, have a history of failure across this country and across North America. There is not one single jurisdiction one can point to that will show that mandatory workfare programs have worked.

In states like Michigan that my friends like to talk about all the time, and Governor Engler and his great success rate, even their own director of communications admits that a major factor in their welfare numbers dropping was a result of their unemployment dropping, a result of the fact that there were more jobs available and people moving into those jobs.

That is exactly the direction we need to move into, but in Ontario unemployment went up last month. More people are unemployed than there were a year ago. The direction they're moving into is one that is creating more unemployment, and as you create more unemployment you make it more difficult for people to break the welfare barrier and get out of the cycle of dependency on welfare.

Workfare, as is going to be outlined by this government, is based on the assumption and the presumption that people on welfare are lazy, don't want to work and need a kick in the butt from this government in order to do that. I tell you that is false; that is untrue. People on welfare need real programs, real training and real opportunities for work and at the end of that they need real jobs, not feel-good volunteer programs. Feel-good volunteer programs don't work and don't help to get people off welfare. Feel-good volunteer programs do not create one single new job that welfare recipients can go to once they have finished their program.


The minister likes to make reference in the House to comments I have made in the past. Let me make one thing very clear, and there is a fundamental difference between what I believe in and what this government believes in: The programs that have worked, the programs I've made reference to that have worked across Ontario, are not mandatory workfare programs. They are programs run by municipalities. They are programs like Helping Hands in Hamilton, a program that gives clients an option, a choice, the dignity to choose what they want to get into. They're not shoved or forced into that program, they're not shoved or forced into cleaning snow or cleaning windows, but they're given some real opportunities, and some real success rates have occurred. Those are the type of programs we need to develop.

But this government is going to take 20 sites tomorrow. They're going to announce to 20 municipalities that they're going to be the bearers of good news. They're going to say: "You get to run workfare programs. You get to do what Michigan has done, what New York state has done. You get to participate in exploiting the needy and the poor across Ontario, but you don't get the opportunity to help people move from welfare to work."

Programs that have worked: This government budgeted $500 million in its workfare program, according to the Common Sense Revolution. There are about 400,000 people in Ontario who ultimately will be eligible for this program; $1,250 on average cost per individual. Real programs that have worked are expensive; in New Brunswick, an average of $59,000 per client. In Wisconsin, which is one of the programs that people talk about, Governor Thompson made it very clear that if you want to put in programs that are going to work and help to transmit the change from welfare to work, they're very expensive and government has to realize there's going to be an upfront cost that will take a while to recover and the benefits are not going to be seen in a month or six months or a year or two years; they'll be seen years later when these people are into full-time employment.

But that will not happen by simply throwing people into programs, forcing them against their will, forcing involuntary volunteers to be in programs simply for this government to pound its chest and tell us how wonderful it is: "Look what we have done. We have taken all these people on welfare and we've put them into programs." At the end of the day they're still going to be on welfare, because you have not created one single new job. If this government's serious, take those 400,000 individuals on welfare, create 400,000 jobs and you'll solve the welfare problem across Ontario.

The Acting Speaker: The member's time is up. The parliamentary assistant to the Minister of Community and Social Services.

Mrs Janet Ecker (Durham West): It is with great pleasure that I come to discuss this issue with my colleague the member for Hamilton East, who I understand has rearranged his personal schedule this evening to be here to discuss this very important issue of what is going to be happening with workfare as we unveil it and announce it tomorrow.

We miss him on the social development committee. I understand his new colleague the member for York South appears to be there these days, but we miss the member for Hamilton East's cheerful face and comments at the committee.

What I'm having some difficulty understanding here is that the honourable member made a campaign commitment to his voters when he ran in the election, and to make sure I am accurate I would like to quote directly from his campaign literature. He said, "As a member of a Liberal government, I am committed to the following: welfare reform, ensuring" -- ensuring -- "that people who are able to work do work." I would take that as a fairly strong campaign commitment to the voters of his riding. I understand that his mentor, Ms Copps, has been setting an interesting example as someone who has not followed through on a campaign commitment she gave to the people. If he wishes to withdraw this or disagree with the campaign commitment, he has a model he might wish to follow.

He seems to be concerned about the mandatory nature of workfare. I would interpret the word "ensuring" as somehow being compulsory, but I have some difficulty understanding his concern given that it was his party during the last election that coined the phrase "mandatory opportunity" for those on welfare.

His research, as has frequently been the case, unfortunately -- and it does pain me to have to say this -- has many times had a passing acquaintance with the facts of the situation. I can't understand why he would object to a government that was trying to help people get off the system. The truth is that the opponents of workfare are failing to provide any constructive alternative. They're failing to realize that simply throwing money at the welfare system, which has happened in the past 10 years, has not appeared to help people get off the system. I must remind the member of his own party's and the previous government's failed policies. The NDP and the Liberals spent $40 billion on social assistance over 10 years, and yet when we arrived in office over 1.3 million people were trapped in that cycle of dependency on welfare.

I suppose we could assume, and maybe this would be the truth, that had the member for Hamilton East been a member of the Liberal government, perhaps this might not have happened, given his commitment to helping people off welfare. But it did happen; it's a situation we inherited. We have a problem with the welfare system -- not with the people who are caught in the system but with the system itself -- that is keeping people there. That's why we are unveiling workfare tomorrow.

I have yet to see the evidence that he brings forward to justify the comments he made previously that we were going to be going around threatening communities or agencies to get involved. I don't think there is evidence, because we have a lineup of communities and organizations that want to participate. The minister was talking about 15 communities; now he's having difficulty keeping it down to 20 communities, which is what he's going to announce tomorrow. This is only the first phase of a wonderful workfare program which is going to be helping people get off the system, because that's what we are dedicated to doing. That's what this government wants to do.

We want to help people. We want to give them job skills; we want to give them networking skills; we want to give them experience that will be helpful. That is something which I would hope this member, in his wisdom, would like to support. It is certainly something that we found, and I personally found when I knocked on doors, most people out there agree on, that people who are on welfare need that hand up to get off the system. They're prepared to pay for it and they're prepared to support it. Workfare may cost money, but I think investing that money in the people on welfare is worth it.

The Acting Speaker: There being no further matter to debate, I deem the motion to adjourn to be carried. This House stands adjourned until 1:30 pm tomorrow.

The House adjourned at 1807.