36th Parliament, 1st Session

L091 - Wed 19 Jun 1996 / Mer 19 Jun 1996

MEMBERS' STATEMENTS

SCHOOL BUS SAFETY

YOUTH SERVICES

ETOBICOKE AWARDS OF EXCELLENCE

STUDENT ASSISTANCE

SENIOR CITIZENS' MONTH

OSTEOPOROSIS

KENORA FIRE

TOURIST ESTABLISHMENT LICENCES

LABOUR PROTEST

ANNUAL REPORT, ENVIRONMENTAL COMMISSIONER OF ONTARIO
ANNUAL REPORT, OFFICE OF THE INTEGRITY COMMISSIONER

STATEMENTS BY THE MINISTRY AND RESPONSES

SCHOOL NUTRITION PROGRAMS

FOREST FIREFIGHTING

SCHOOL NUTRITION PROGRAMS

FOREST FIREFIGHTING

SCHOOL NUTRITION PROGRAMS

FOREST FIREFIGHTING

ORAL QUESTIONS

YOUNG OFFENDERS

NATIONAL UNITY

YOUNG OFFENDERS

ONTARIO WORKS

FOREST FIREFIGHTING

YOUNG OFFENDERS

WASTE DISPOSAL

MINISTRY OF AGRICULTURE, FOOD AND RURAL AFFAIRS STATUTE LAW AMENDMENT ACT, 1996 / LOI DE 1996 MODIFIANT DES LOIS EN CE QUI CONCERNE LE MINISTÈRE DE L'AGRICULTURE, DE L'ALIMENTATION ET DES AFFAIRES RURALES

MINISTRY OF NATURAL RESOURCES STATUTE LAW AMENDMENT ACT, 1996 / LOI DE 1996 MODIFIANT DES LOIS EN CE QUI CONCERNE LE MINISTÈRE DES RICHESSES NATURELLES

EDUCATION AMENDMENT ACT, 1996 / LOI DE 1996 MODIFIANT LA LOI SUR L'ÉDUCATION

PETITIONS

ADULT EDUCATION

RENT REGULATION

COMMERCE INTERPROVINCIAL

TAX REDUCTION

COURTCLIFFE PARK

SKILLS TRAINING

OCCUPATIONAL HEALTH AND SAFETY

NURSING STAFF

COMMON SENSE REVOLUTION

TRANSITION HOUSE

OCCUPATIONAL HEALTH AND SAFETY

COLLEGE OF TEACHERS

NON-PROFIT HOUSING

REPORTS BY COMMITTEES

STANDING COMMITTEE ON GOVERNMENT AGENCIES

STANDING COMMITTEE ON REGULATIONS AND PRIVATE BILLS

INTRODUCTION OF BILLS

HIGHWAY TRAFFIC AMENDMENT ACT, 1996 / LOI DE 1996 MODIFIANT LE CODE DE LA ROUTE

ORDERS OF THE DAY

AGGREGATE AND PETROLEUM RESOURCES STATUTE LAW AMENDMENT ACT, 1996 / LOI DE 1996 MODIFIANT DES LOIS EN CE QUI CONCERNE LES RESSOURCES EN AGRÉGATS ET LES RICHESSES PÉTROLIÈRES

CROWN FOUNDATIONS ACT, 1996 / LOI DE 1996 SUR LES FONDATIONS DE LA COURONNE

TAX CUT AND ECONOMIC GROWTH ACT, 1996 / LOI DE 1996 SUR LA RÉDUCTION D'IMPÔTS ET LA CROISSANCE ÉCONOMIQUE


The House met at 1333.

Prayers.

MEMBERS' STATEMENTS

SCHOOL BUS SAFETY

Mr Pat Hoy (Essex-Kent): In my riding there have been several tragedies in past years which resulted in the needless deaths of young Ontario students. These are devastating cases where children, either boarding or leaving a school bus, become the victims of careless drivers who ignore flashing school bus lights. This is not a new problem, nor is it unique to my riding. Every year, young people die because drivers do not take the flashing school bus light seriously enough.

Later today I will be introducing a private member's bill to address this problem. First, my bill will double the range of fines for drivers who are identified breaking the school bus law. Historically, the problem has been identifying drivers. Often there is time to ID a vehicle, a plate number, but not to see the driver. For the first time in the history of the province, my bill will target the owners of vehicles who break school bus laws. They will be subject to fines double the range of those for identified drivers. This would provide incentive to the vehicle owner to identify the actual driver of the car. This way, demerit points are assigned to the driver who is breaking the law.

I believe my bill can protect young people across the province by providing an effective deterrent to drivers who ignore existing school bus laws. It has the support of community safety groups, police, and a local school board in my riding, and I hope all members of this House will give their support to it.

YOUTH SERVICES

Mr Tony Silipo (Dovercourt): Recently I had the opportunity to attend an event called You(th) Need to Know, organized by St Christopher's House, a youth agency in the area that I represent, together with other agencies. We heard at that event from a number of young people who had written about their experiences over the last year or so following the beginning of the Mike Harris government.

I want to just read into the record part of the comments of one young person, Claudia Calderon, age 18, who wrote as follows:

"This generation is the seeds.

"The children are the seeds that flourish into the youth that are affected by society in the future. During the past five months or so that the newly elected Progressive Conservative Party got elected and announced the `Common Sense Revolution' of Ontario, the key target of those cuts have been youth. Others affected include immigrants, single mothers and their children, and the unemployed.

"These cuts affect my friends, family and myself in countless forms. Through education cuts, my school will have less money to buy new facilities and equipment for students which would help to provide an effective environment to learn in....

"My future is also at stake since tuition fees and the grade averages for acceptance to university are increasing so dramatically. This will make it harder for me to focus on my work, family and extracurricular activities....

"The poor and working class of this province must fight for a fair province for all of Ontario, especially since we as youth are being affected by this leadership when we didn't have a say in voting them to power."

This is very typical of the comments that these young people and many young people have, which is to say that what Mike Harris is doing is very clearly hurting young people.

ETOBICOKE AWARDS OF EXCELLENCE

Mr Douglas B. Ford (Etobicoke-Humber): I had the pleasure recently of attending an event to celebrate the Etobicoke Awards of Excellence, where a significant number of individuals and organizations in Etobicoke were recognized for their contribution to the community.

The businesses that were recognized include Ital Florist Ltd, Confectionately Yours, Delsan Environmental Group, Campbell's Soup Co, Canada Trust, the Rocket Fuel Coffee Shop, Versa Services, Lennox Industries, and Allied Signal Aerospace.

As well, the individuals who received awards were Irene Cameron, Anita Lal, Tom MacFarlane, Wilma Verch, Art Rutledge, Miriam Christie, Doreen Hachey, Arden Lambe, Tanya Monestier, Stephanie Stasyna, Constable Ernie Jost, who is an outstanding young constable with many awards, Stewart Davidson Sr, and the staff and students of Etienne Brûlé junior school.

As my colleagues on both side of this chamber can appreciate, the greatest assets of any community are not the bricks and mortar, but the people who give the community its heart and soul. The people who were individually recognized and those who make up the organizations which were acknowledged are people for whom I have great regard. They have made a significant contribution towards making the city of Etobicoke even a better place to live, and for that --

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

STUDENT ASSISTANCE

Ms Annamarie Castrilli (Downsview): The Minister of Education, since taking office, has slashed funding to colleges and universities by $400 million, resulting in program closures, course cancellations, and faculty and staff layoffs. He has increased tuition by as much as 20% and kicked 17,000 students off social assistance, making our system much less accessible.

Now it appears that single and married parents are being informed by financial aid offices that their child care bursaries will not be renewed and that by 1997-98 all bursaries will be eliminated.

Most recently, I have been informed that this government is cancelling its 1-800 Ontario student assistance program information line and replacing it with a 1-900 line that charges students to access information on their OSAP applications. These are people who are seeking loans because they do not have enough money to pay the increased tuition for college and university, yet this government now wants them to use money they don't have simply to find out whether they will be able to borrow enough to attend classes.

Given the seriousness of this situation, I call upon the Minister of Education to assure students that new loan funding for child care will be in addition to OSAP's current maximum of $17,000, that they can access OSAP loans for child care in between semesters so they can find summer work, that the $6,000 loan forgiveness level will be guaranteed for the next four years, that income-contingent loan repayments will be implemented within the next 12 months and that the government's OSAP funding level will be adequate to handle all of these new responsibilities.

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SENIOR CITIZENS' MONTH

Mr Rosario Marchese (Fort York): June is Senior Citizens' Month in Ontario and my colleagues and I in the New Democratic Party join in saluting all seniors across the province.

Many seniors make invaluable contributions to the wellbeing of this province by giving generously of their time as volunteer workers in their community. We are indeed very grateful for their help, given the deep cuts that many agencies have had to endure over the last year under the present government.

I must say that many are beginning to feel abandoned by this government. The seniors at the First Portuguese Community Centre are very distressed. They, along with all other seniors, are being targeted and sacrificed because they are now forced to pay a $2 prescription fee every single time they visit the pharmacist. For many seniors this can easily mean that five different prescriptions in one month can cost as much as $10. This might seem like a small amount of money to some, but this fee affects those earning less than $16,000 a year. For those earning $16,100 or more, a higher fee is charged.

This is but one example of how government cuts are affecting seniors and causing disruption and anxiety among our older population living on a rapidly diminishing fixed income.

Seniors deserve dignity and security and nothing less.

OSTEOPOROSIS

Mrs Margaret Marland (Mississauga South): I'm very pleased to announce that yesterday Allelix Biopharmaceuticals Inc of Mississauga, Ontario, and Astra AB of Sweden reached a long-term agreement for the worldwide development and commercialization of PTH. This is Allelix's lead experimental product for the treatment of osteoporosis.

Approximately 1.4 million Canadians suffer from osteoporosis. It is a crippling disease that causes bones to become brittle and porous and to break very easily. Allelix's PTH is an important advance against osteoporosis as it potentially brings a person out of the dangerous and painful fracture zone.

Astra Canada, which is a subsidiary of Astra AB, is Canada's fastest-growing research-based pharmaceutical manufacturer. Employing approximately 700 people across Canada, Astra Canada is headquartered in my riding of Mississauga South.

Allelix is a Canadian biotechnology company that uses advanced research to discover and develop innovative pharmaceutical products. The company employs over 150 Canadians and also has an office in Mississauga.

This agreement, which is one of the largest ever made in the Canadian biotechnological industry, is exactly the kind of investment that Canada needs in order to compete in the global market. I would like to congratulate both Astra Canada and Allelix for their major contribution to Ontario's economy and for the tremendous accomplishment of developing a treatment for all Canadians who suffer from osteoporosis.

KENORA FIRE

Mr Frank Miclash (Kenora): On Friday, June 7, the town of Kenora and area residents woke up to what was called one of the worst fires in the history of the communities.

At approximately 5 am the call went out to the fire department of Kenora. Keewatin and Jaffray-Melick volunteer firefighters were called in minutes after the first truck arrived at the scene when those directing the effort realized the fire was too much for one department to handle. Forty dedicated professional and volunteer firefighters responded to what was a blazing inferno. Three neighbouring structures in Kenora were completely destroyed by the fire, which caused millions of dollars of damage to a number of local businesses. It was because of the quick response of the three fire teams that the fire was not allowed to spread to the residential areas to its south or to the fuel storage tanks to the north.

I cannot say enough about those firefighters we have throughout northwestern Ontario who serve in our communities, at times risking their own lives to ensure our safety. Be it the full-time firefighters or the volunteer firefighters in communities throughout our region, I wish to recognize their efforts.

May I close in having the House join me in congratulating not only those who controlled the Kenora blaze, but those who are a part of our fire team throughout Ontario.

TOURIST ESTABLISHMENT LICENCES

Mr Howard Hampton (Rainy River): In northwestern Ontario tourism is a huge business. People come from European countries, from Japan and the United States and from elsewhere in Canada to enjoy the natural environment, the wilderness and the wildlife. So if you're a tourist operator, it is especially important that you have a tourism establishment licence, one that you can show to your guests and one which lends legitimacy to your business.

That used to be the case; with this government that is no longer the case. Tourist establishment after tourist establishment has sent in its money for its tourism licence for 1996, but has not received a licence. Instead, they get letters like this from the new government:

"According to our records you have not obtained your...tourist establishment licence. Your notification for renewal was mailed to you....

"We strongly encourage you to maintain a current licence for several reasons. First, under the Tourism Act, it is an offence" if you don't have one. "Second, there are a number of privileges which accompany the tourist establishment licence.... Should your licence lapse" you will lose a number of privileges.

Imagine when tourist operators all across northwestern Ontario have paid for their tourism licence, have not received their tourism licence and yet this government sends them these kinds of letters, threatening letters; imagine when they do not have the tourism licence to put up on their business and tourists ask if they are a registered tourism business.

Shame on this government.

LABOUR PROTEST

Mr R. Gary Stewart (Peterborough): I rise in the House to comment on labour's day of protest occurring in Peterborough on June 24.

This is not a day of protest; this is a labour disruption.

There is no doubt that people have the right to demonstrate and protest, but not at the expense of others.

OFL leader Gord Wilson made a statement to the local media saying, "We will shut down the city." His statement is intimidation, it is harassment and it is unacceptable to most of the taxpayers in Peterborough.

As employers are shut down, the only people who lose are the local workers who are forced to forgo a day's pay. It is estimated that the day of protest will cost the city of Peterborough $100,000. Imagine what $100,000 could do to assist the poor and the most vulnerable of that city.

Labour believes these rallies will help the underprivileged. They will not. They are wrong. The people of Peterborough want to work. When the buses carry the union bosses into Peterborough to intimidate our community, I hope they don't forget to bring a cheque for $100,000 made payable to the people of Peterborough.

If we believe in democracy -- and we do -- I can assure you they will not shut down the city of Peterborough.

ANNUAL REPORT, ENVIRONMENTAL COMMISSIONER OF ONTARIO
ANNUAL REPORT, OFFICE OF THE INTEGRITY COMMISSIONER

The Speaker (Hon Allan K. McLean): I beg to inform the House, I have today laid upon the table the 1994-95 annual report of the Environmental Commissioner of Ontario and the 1995-96 annual report of the Office of the Integrity Commissioner.

STATEMENTS BY THE MINISTRY AND RESPONSES

SCHOOL NUTRITION PROGRAMS

Hon Michael D. Harris (Premier): We know that when children go to school hungry, they cannot concentrate; when they cannot concentrate, they cannot learn; and when they cannot learn, they cannot cope with the challenges of life ahead of them.

This morning, at a meeting of more than 200 CEOs of Ontario-based food and food distribution companies, it was my pleasure to announce the formation of a partnership between our government, the Canadian Living Foundation and the Grocery Industry Foundation Together in the area of child nutrition.

In our government's first budget, we announced our intention to establish a partnership with the Canadian Living Foundation to set up and expand local nutrition programs and to provide up to $5 million this year in startup funding. The Grocery Industry Foundation Together, known as GIFT, has now joined this partnership and will contribute the retail equivalent of $3 million over three years in the form of food and food distribution costs to nutrition programs in Ontario.

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These funds will be used to provide seed money to support Ontario-based nutrition programs; to establish an Ontario-wide community partners program to work with school boards, corporations, parents' groups, health departments, service clubs and community-based organizations to initiate local partnerships to establish child nutrition programs; to prepare an information kit on how to set up and sustain nutrition programs in Ontario; and to establish a 1-800 number to respond to community inquiries over the next year.

This program will be in place in time for the school year in September. We will ensure that all members of the Legislature have information as it becomes available in order that they have an opportunity to take a leadership role in encouraging local businesses, volunteers, parents and community-based organizations within their own constituencies to play a role in this initiative.

Members of the House may recall that in November 1991 I introduced a private member's resolution calling for the government to act as a coordinating body in creating school nutrition programs. In a non-partisan way, we have 130 ambassadors of this program across the province.

Thanks in large part to Julia Munro, my parliamentary assistant, the member for Durham-York, I believe the spirit of that resolution has now become a reality. Over the past year, she has held consultations with many organizations and individuals across the province on ways to make it easier for communities to establish nutrition programs.

The common message she heard was that school-aged children need to have easier, greater and less bureaucratic access to proper nutrition programs. This partnership allows the government to expand and build upon, rather than compete with, the efforts of the volunteer and private sectors.

I've often said that Ontarians working together can do much more than government can do alone. By working with the volunteer and corporate sectors, the government will ensure that the largest possible share of available funding goes directly to meeting children's needs. I encourage all members of this House to take part in this worthwhile initiative.

FOREST FIREFIGHTING

Hon Chris Hodgson (Minister of Natural Resources, Northern Development and Mines): I wish to update the House on the forest fire situation in northern Ontario. As members know, towards the end of last week a serious situation developed across the north. Right now, there are more than 200 fires burning in the province, covering an area of about 230,000 hectares; 61 of these fires are considered problem fires.

Yesterday I travelled to the Thunder Bay fire centre, Graham, English River, the Black Sturgeon Lake area and the Rinker Lake fire base camp. I'm glad to report at first hand that our provincial fire program is responding efficiently and quickly to ensure that human safety and protection of valuable resources is being maintained. Our highly mobile attack crews are continuing to be positioned so that they are best able to react to the new fires as they start.

I have the highest praise for the aggressive work being done by MNR fire crews, the first nations fire crews, crews from the forest industry and out-of-province professionals under extremely trying conditions. The morale in the lines is high.

This is a serious fire situation and we are using all our resources to control it. At present, my ministry has more than 1,400 firefighters employed in initial and sustained attack across the province. In the long tradition of mutual support of other jurisdictions, MNR regular and auxiliary crews have been joined by crews from the United States, British Columbia and Alberta. As well, we have more than 600 additional personnel from Ontario employed in a variety of supply and service functions in support of fire suppression efforts. We also have on loan two water bombers from Alberta and two from the Northwest Territories.

We are thankful for this input from other jurisdictions because right now fire activity is extreme in various parts of North America from Alaska to New Brunswick. Resources are stretched in terms of both teams and equipment.

It is normal practice to bring in outside crews when the province's fire situation becomes intense. Ontario, through the Canadian Interagency Forest Fire Centre in Winnipeg, is part of an international group of provinces and states that shares resources through a mutual aid agreement. Ontario recently provided 10 crews to Quebec to assist in that province's firefighting efforts.

MNR is also utilizing people in Ontario who are trained and can assist in fighting these fires. We are setting up a training network for the west fire region to recertify firefighters with previous training and experience.

Due to the continuing hot weather conditions and an increase in human-caused fires, the situation remains serious. I am today expanding the restricted fire zone that is currently in effect. The zone will include Sault Ste Marie, Sudbury, North Bay and all of Manitoulin Island. This expansion will come into effect at tonight. Included in this restricted fire zone is all of northwestern Ontario, and the parts of northeastern Ontario located north of the line running from the Quebec border at Mattawa and along Highway 17 and the French River.

Once again, I want to thank the firefighters and the communities for the way they have come together to fight this problem. I will keep members of this House informed of further developments on the fire situations as they occur.

SCHOOL NUTRITION PROGRAMS

Mrs Sandra Pupatello (Windsor-Sandwich): On behalf of the Liberal caucus, I want to especially congratulate the Grocery Industry Foundation for their acknowledgement of the significance of breakfast programs in schools. To the Premier I want to say that what I would like him to do is dust off his copy of a package that we submitted to him on February 2 where we outlined the kinds of minimal changes he needs to make to ensure that breakfast programs begin in places where they're truly needed.

While the cereal is very important for programs, what is very important is the fridge that you have to put the milk in for the cereal, and what's very critical to this is startup costs. The largest hurdle that schools face is the initial launching funds required to initiate programs. Unfortunately, the Premier is spending a lot of time on areas that are not really the crux of the matter where school programs are concerned.

We all know there is a need. We really need to keep him focused. I fear that our Premier is more like a bull in a china shop, and these kinds of announcements are more for publicity because they are not going to the heart of the issue, the real need to get breakfast programs started in Ontario.

I would submit that we did consult with the communities, we do have some answers, and I am asking that the Premier seriously consider those implementations.

Mr Rick Bartolucci (Sudbury): I commend GIFT as well for their corporate responsibility, but Premier, when you were in opposition you said you could implement a breakfast program "tomorrow."

Well, it's been a long 24 hours -- roughly 377 days, and much has happened in those last long 24 hours: 14,000 child care subsidy spaces have been eliminated; junior kindergarten has been made a local option; reduction of funding to children's aid societies has taken place; a 21.6% reduction to welfare benefits; reductions in funding for children with disabilities; over 100 agencies have downsized or terminated special programs for children, with another 430 under review in 1996; food bank usage went up 54% in one year.

Mrs Ecker, in her statement during debate on the children's bill of rights, said, "This $5-million commitment is a modest investment." I couldn't agree with Mrs Ecker more. It's not only a modest investment, it's a minuscule investment in the needs of children.

This government should be committed to the development of the total child. If they were, they wouldn't be:

Cutting $800 million from the Ministry of Education and Training;

Killing early childhood programs which will cost not only children in social development, but in the long term will cost Ontario taxpayers as they pay for the mistakes of this present government;

Killing special education subsidies so that those vulnerable children and their families cannot be provided with the resources needed is a mistake;

You have no meaningful job strategy for parents so that children won't feel inferior to those around them in the playground because daddy doesn't have a job;

You have no long-term strategy to provide children with the availability for total growth: social, emotional, physical and mental.

This announcement, although commendable on the part of the industry, signals that this government's direction, at best, is piecemeal when it comes to children. Children are our future. We must develop them to their potential. Government dollars and long-term strategies are necessary. Children get hungry not only in the morning, but at noon and at dinnertime, and children crave more than food. This government must learn and listen to the people of Ontario.

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FOREST FIREFIGHTING

Mr Michael A. Brown (Algoma-Manitoulin): I wish to reply to the statement by the Minister of Natural Resources. First, I would like to add to the minister's comments by congratulating and thanking the hardworking men and women of Ontario who are fighting these forest fires. They are dedicated, they are well-trained and they do a tremendous job. The seriousness of this situation, I believe, is expressed in the 230,000 hectares on fire, 61 fires; a serious problem.

I would say to the minister, after cutting 17 fire bases, after reducing the budget by $4 million, having a long-term plan to totally close all fire bases, to have the ministry not retraining and recertifying people for fire service not now but a month before -- I mean, we know when fire season happens. You're not prepared. You've bungled it. We are upset with this minister.

SCHOOL NUTRITION PROGRAMS

Mr Bud Wildman (Algoma): I'd like to respond briefly to the Premier's statement. While we appreciate the involvement of the Grocery Industry Foundation Together, GIFT, and their contribution of $3 million to this program, I think it's important that we recognize the context in which this announcement is being made. This is the government that decreased the income of welfare-dependent families by 21.6%. What is the reason kids are hungry? Why are more kids hungry now than when this government came to power?

The reason is because of the cuts that have been made to assistance that kids are dependent upon. The reason is that we have seen significant downsizing and increases in unemployment. The reason is that we've seen in the corporate sector similar downsizing and unemployment. People cannot afford to provide the daily needs of their kids, and that's why kids are going to school hungry. We recognize the fact that a child who goes to school hungry cannot concentrate, does not do well, does not learn, and that hurts that child and society generally.

This government has eliminated day care spaces. This government has made junior kindergarten optional; 26 boards in the province have cancelled junior kindergarten. This is a government that is cutting back on children, that is hurting children, and it's a government now that comes forward with a breakfast program that is supposed to make things right. A breakfast program will help some children, but what about the kids who will not be reached? What about the kids who not only need breakfast assistance but whose families need jobs in order to provide them with the everyday needs that every child has a right to in our society?

This government will not get away with saying, "We have turned our backs on children, and yes, when there are some that are hungry, we'll give them some breakfast, hopefully to assuage the anger that those children and their families feel about what's happening to them in this province."

FOREST FIREFIGHTING

Ms Shelley Martel (Sudbury East): I want to respond to the statement made by the Minister of Natural Resources. I want to say to him that by the time this fire season ends in this province he will be in the same embarrassing position that his colleague the Minister of Transportation was in after the terrible winter that we had. In that case, the minister was trying to cut $6 million from road maintenance, and I'll bet you he ended up spending two or three times more, given the winter we had. You will end up doing the same thing after the fire season in this province.

What's the reality? In your effort to try to cut $4 million from the fire budget, you've laid off 20 crews, almost 60 people, who used to fight fires in the province of Ontario. You've closed 17 of the 19 fire bases in the province, 11 of them in northern Ontario, and the two that you kept open were in the riding of the finance minister and your own. I bet you those people now are not fighting fires in Haliburton; they're up fighting fires in northwestern and northeastern Ontario. Those bases should have been kept open, and you know it.

The situation also is that you are now bringing in people from other provinces to help fight fires, which is a tradition in this province. At the same time, you have not recalled over 60 people in Ontario. Those 60 seasonal MNR staff are sitting at home right now without work because you laid them off because you were trying to save $4 million. Shame on you for importing other people into this province to fight fires when we have people here who could be doing that job on behalf of the people of Ontario.

The closure of the bases is ridiculous. We had the case raised in Gogama by my colleague the member for Nickel Belt, who showed that those people were in the bush for over 24 hours without food and without radio contact because they couldn't raise the station in Timmins. They're in there fighting a fire without any backup, no one knows where they are, not fed, no one has an idea of what's going on. I'll bet you that's exactly the same thing that's happening right now with the 200 fires that are being fought right across this province. Maybe the minister should tell us how much timber is being lost, how many people are not going to work this summer because the timber we're trying to protect has been burned by these fires.

We have the highest praise for the people who work in firefighting in Ontario too. Maybe you should rehire them and let them do the job they're supposed to be doing.

Mr Howard Hampton (Rainy River): What we heard today from the Minister of Natural Resources is nothing more than hogwash. The fact of the matter is this government played Russian roulette with Ontario's forests and Ontario's natural resources, and now as they burn down you're caught. The fact of the matter is close to a year's supply of timber is burning down right now. That's going to cost thousands of jobs. The fact of the matter is tourist resorts are having to close. The fact of the matter is all kinds of communities are on evacuation watch. All this happened so you could give a tax cut to your wealthy friends.

ORAL QUESTIONS

YOUNG OFFENDERS

Mr David Ramsay (Timiskaming): I have a question for the Solicitor General today. I'd like to go back to the Elgin-Middlesex alleged young offender incident that happened on March 1.

In the life of a government, an accusation that 40 young people, shackled and being led off a bus, are allegedly beaten upon their arrival at another institution, is a very serious matter. It's an important and serious matter for a government to handle once such an unfortunate incident happens.

We know this happened on March 1. We know that on March 4 your deputy and the deputy of the Ministry of Community and Social Services were informed of this incident. Repeatedly, you have told us that while many of the people in your ministry, all the senior managers, knew of this incident, for three months you were kept in the dark.

Minister, I want to ask you: Once you were finally informed, and you say this wasn't until about June 4 or 5, a good three months afterwards, what instructions did you give your senior managers from then on, on how to handle this incident?

Hon Bob Runciman (Solicitor General and Minister of Correctional Services): I want to go back. It seems to be the official opposition's tack with respect to this issue, and I'm quoting the member, just asking this question, with respect to the allegations surrounding the treatment of young offenders as they arrived at Elgin-Middlesex and the questions of the maltreatment: He says, "We know that it happened." I want to emphasize that on this side we very much believe in the presumption of innocence, that these are indeed allegations and we believe in due process.

With respect to tabling receipt of the child advocate's report, we responded very quickly in terms of bringing in the police and certainly asking ministry personnel to give us an update on what happened in terms of the communications process. Those were essentially the activities in terms of how we responded initially.

Mr Ramsay: Minister, it's obvious you didn't take charge of this case once you were finally informed three months later. Even at that late date, you still were not taking charge because in fact, from the series of questions I and others have asked in this House in the subsequent weeks, you keep standing up and sort of shrugging and saying, "Gee, I'm very unhappy with the performance of my officials."

I understand your colleague the Attorney General knew also back in early March, and in fact that the assistant deputy minister of the Ministry of Community and Social Services, Sue Herbert, who happens to be Judy Finlay's boss, called the AG's office to inform him of this incident. This is how serious this incident was in the government and I would imagine all senior officials in government would have been informed, except for you, I guess.

I'd like to know what happened to you. You were the bulldog here. You were the tough guy who was chomping at the bit for the last 10 years to take control of corrections and the police. I'm sure when you took control you said, "Hey, I'm the boss here and I want to run this department like no other person has ever done it." What happened to you when you got over there? Either your orders were countermanded by your officials or you've got a ministry out of control. How can you stand in your place and say you are the top cop and the chief jailer? Are you really in control over there, Minister?

Hon Mr Runciman: Again, I find it rather ironic that this particular member is continuing to raise this. He simply should revisit his own experiences in the ministry of corrections and certainly some of the problems he encountered with respect to the system itself. I think to try and paint this in some other manner defies the facts.

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The reality is that this was responded to in a positive sense in terms of how the young offenders were dealt with in terms of the child advocate expressing her concerns related to their arrival at Elgin-Middlesex. She was encouraged to pursue those concerns to see if there was any substance to the concerns, and she did that. She completed her investigation and gave the results of her investigation to the acting deputy at the time during a strike situation.

She has said time and time again that she is very pleased with the support and the response of the ministry during that interim period. During her investigation she received every possible support from the ministry officials, and she has no criticism with respect to how the ministry responded during that interim period. It's difficult for me to understand what the opposition thinks we're hiding here.

Mr Ramsay: Minister, from your refusing to answer these questions it's obvious you didn't give any orders, that basically you just washed your hands of this whole incident and sort of hoped your staff would take care of it. You have allowed all the evidence involved in this to be unprotected. All the senior staff involved -- your personal staff, senior staff of the ministry, senior managers of the ministry -- continue to have access to that evidence and continue to talk among themselves about the case. Because of your failure to properly handle the situation, you yourself have put yourself under suspicion.

You're the top cop. How can the OPP start to investigate their boss? I think you have two choices. You have an alternative before you: Either you step aside now so this investigation can be cleanly done, or you've got to call in the RCMP, with coresponsibility with the OPP, so that you yourself can be investigated with all the senior officials in that ministry. Minister, will you do the right thing and either step aside or call in the RCMP so we can have a full, independent investigation of your ministry?

Hon Mr Runciman: I feel strongly we've handled this in a most responsible way.

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

Mr Sean G. Conway (Renfrew North): I too have a question for the Solicitor General and minister of corrections. Over the past number of years, it has been the shame of previous governments and legislatures in this province and across much of the rest of this country to find out what happened to young people in the custodial care of provincial government agencies. We are all, I think, shocked now to look back at the boys of St Vincent, the girls at Grandview, the victims at St John's at Alfred. It is a shocking indictment of what was allowed to happen by previous governments and previous legislatures as recently as the 1970s and 1980s.

With that as a backdrop, I come now to the minister, whom I've known for a long time, with whom I've served for 15 years in this Legislature. I've been listening carefully to the questions of my colleagues and the members of the New Democratic Party, and I've been particularly struck by what I'm being asked to believe by the Solicitor General, so let me just ask this question.

There was a serious incident allegedly involving the physical abuse of young people in a provincial facility in Ontario on or about March 1 of this year. Four days later, two senior government officials, the acting Deputy Minister of Correctional Services and the Deputy Minister of Community and Social Services, are told about serious allegations involving or suggesting the alleged physical abuse of young people, 40 in number.

My question is, are you really asking me to believe that you, as the responsible minister, heard nothing between March 4 and June 5, notwithstanding the fact that two of the most senior bureaucrats in your government were informed of these allegations on March 4?

Hon Mr Runciman: That's correct.

Mr Conway: I then have to, as an honourable member in this parliamentary place, accept what the minister is telling me, but unlike some members here, I too have been a minister. One thing that most impressed me about the mechanisms that were in place when I was in office was how instant was the capacity across the Ontario government to report significant incidents.

There is absolutely no doubt about, on the basis of my experience in government, what would have been the reaction once senior officials, most especially the senior official at the department of social services -- I want to digress for a moment and tell the House that the Child and Family Services Act imposes a positive duty on any service provider or caregiver, the duty being that if you know or suspect that any young person in your care has been abused or has been threatened with abuse, you have a responsibility to report that immediately to the authorities. I just can't believe that the Deputy Minister of Community and Social Services, who administers the Child and Family Services Act, who would know that and would have heard these serious allegations about the abuse of young people in the custodial care of the government of Ontario, in the era after Grandview and after St Vincent, would not immediately have called the Premier's office and the minister's office to report these allegations.

Are you still telling me that you and your political staff heard nothing from those senior government officials for three months and that the mother of one of these alleged victims had repeatedly pleaded with your offices in Toronto and North Bay to investigate, that none of that had gotten through either?

Hon Mr Runciman: The reflections are upon the member's own experiences in government. To be fair, he has to put this in context as well. I'm not making apologies for the breakdown in the communications protocol, but there was a strike situation. This was a very unusual circumstance, the first ever experienced by an Ontario government. This was also done in the aftermath of a riot by young offenders at Bluewater, causing an estimated $250,000 in damages. Because of the strike situation, because of the riot, a number of these young offenders had to be put into an adult institution. There was just no option at that point in time.

Looking at all that and putting it in the appropriate context, I hope the member can appreciate that it's not really comparable to his past experiences in government, going back a number of years, or mine. In terms of an objective, third-party, independent observer with respect to the ministry's response, I would suggest that he talk to the child advocate, as she has indicated from the outset that the opposition parties, for reasons best known to them, do not want to reflect on that, do not want to engage in a conversation or do not want to quote the child advocate's comments on the conduct of ministry officials during that period of time.

She indicated she had concerns. There had been a police investigation. We can't lose contact or lose sight of the fact that the OPP had been involved. The advocate is quite prepared to talk to you about that as well. She discussed her concerns with the OPP; she discussed them with senior officials in government, the acting deputy and the deputy at Comsoc, and she was encouraged to pursue her concerns. At no point did she feel, along that process, that it was necessary for her to call in the police at that point in time. She concluded her investigation, turned over her findings to the deputy, who had returned from a leave of absence due to illness, and immediately the police were called in. From that perspective, I think the ministry has acted appropriately throughout this process.

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Mr Conway: I repeat, let's none of us lose sight of these very serious allegations: 40 young people in the custodial care of the Ontario government are allegedly abused by their caretakers, by their service providers, call them what you will. I say very seriously to all members, recall the shame, the rage and the tears about St Vincent's and St Joseph's and St John's and Grandview. But that was on somebody else's watch.

We have before us today serious allegations and a stunning ministerial explanation of your ignorance about what was going on for days and weeks and months. I just can't believe that the Deputy Minister of Community and Social Services would know of these allegations on March 4 and no responsible minister would hear about that in the days after St Vincent until June 5.

The only way I can believe that, Minister, is that you have a rogue department out of your control and you're out of their loop. That is the only credible explanation I have for your story and that's not good enough in our system, where you and your colleagues on the treasury bench are responsible and accountable for the actions most especially of those in the care of young people in provincial institutions.

Are you telling us that at corrections you have a rogue department out of your control and that you are manifestly out of the loop of their ongoing decision-making, some of which may now involve the obstruction of justice?

Hon Mr Runciman: I've indicated my unhappiness with respect to how certain people within the system have responded and I've broadened the internal investigation to take a look at some of those concerns.

In terms of the issue of treatment of young offenders, I'm not going to rely on the opinion of any member across the floor. I will rely on the opinion of the individual who's appointed to monitor child welfare in the system, and that's the child advocate. She has indicated very clearly time and time again, if anyone is prepared to listen, that she had no concerns with respect to the treatment of young offenders during that interim period.

Certainly there are serious allegations surrounding their treatment upon arrival at an adult institution. There is now a police investigation looking into that situation, and I'll await the results of that investigation.

The Speaker: New question.

Mrs Marion Boyd (London Centre): My question is to the same minister about events that occurred after you knew; if we're to accept that you only knew on June 5, after you knew.

I've raised in this House on numerous occasions the issue of managers who may be the subject of an ongoing criminal investigation into alleged beatings of young offenders in the care of your ministry at Elgin-Middlesex who were in that facility for many hours on the weekend of June 8. There have been allegations that shredding took place on that same weekend.

You admitted that those managers were gathering information and may have been photocopying information that you had requested, but you admitted yesterday that you were unaware that the managers were going into the institution on the weekend until after we mentioned the event here in the House.

You have also told us that the London police were called in on May 31 -- three months later, as my colleague pointed out, but still called in. You may recall that on June 10, the day the London police actually began that investigation, I asked you about the existence of medical records which might be pertinent evidence necessary to substantiate allegations of abuse.

Today it has come to our attention that confidential medical records of young offenders at EMDC were photocopied by the very managers under concern who work at EMDC, on Friday, June 7, two days after you admit that you knew. These managers, who may be the subject of a criminal investigation, were in a position to interfere with those records, and those records are necessary to the investigation.

Minister, can you explain to us why, after you knew about this situation, a manager or managers would be duplicating confidential medical records of young offenders during an ongoing police investigation? Can you assure us that the confidentiality provisions of the Young Offenders Act and the Regulated Health Professions Act, laws that we all have to refer to, were followed and were not violated?

Hon Mr Runciman: We can have an allegation a day or two or three or four. In terms of the broader context, I've indicated on a number of occasions now that I have asked, through the deputy with respect to the internal investigation, that they look at the activities, the responses of managerial staff following receipt of the child advocate's report. That will encompass all of the activities surrounding allegations brought forward last week, brought forward today and perhaps brought forward every day from now to who knows when.

Mrs Boyd: It's quite evident that this minister knows nothing except what's brought up in this House. It's becoming more and more clear that he has absolutely no idea what's going on and cannot guarantee us that in fact the laws of this country and this province are being followed by the people in his ministry.

Minister, it has also been brought to our attention that on June 8 the staff at Elgin-Middlesex Detention Centre were asked to fax confidential health care information on young offenders at EMDC to the Bluewater centre. Were you aware that this request was made by staff of your ministry after you knew about the allegations of this case, and considering all the allegations of wrongdoing and shredding of documents at Elgin-Middlesex Detention Centre and at Bluewater Youth Centre, wouldn't you agree that this would be at the very least inappropriate and at the very worst interfering with the continuity of possible evidence in a very serious criminal case?

Hon Mr Runciman: My earlier response stands.

Mrs Boyd: You're quite wrong, Minister. In fact, none of your responses have been satisfactory to anyone. It is my understanding that when the OPP arrived at Elgin-Middlesex Detention Centre on June 10, I understand you said this to the press yesterday, that you'd asked them to secure the records of young offenders that might be evidence, that in fact records were not located in the filing cabinet in the health care unit where they would normally be stored. It is very important for us to recognize that when the OPP finally, after more than three months, went to secure evidence, the files they expected to find were not where they are normally kept. Minister, are you aware that these records were removed from where they would normally be stored, and how can you assure this House and the public that evidence has not been tampered with and that there has not been an obstruction of justice in this case?

Hon Mr Runciman: The head of the internal investigation, Inspector Christopherson, is looking at all of these concerns and it will all be determined in the finalization of his investigation, which hopefully will be at the end of this month.

NATIONAL UNITY

Mr Bud Wildman (Algoma): I have a question to the Premier. As the Premier knows, his colleague the Minister of Intergovernmental Affairs made a speech on June 14 on Canadian unity as part of the government's preparation for the upcoming first ministers' conference in Ottawa. The minister stated that, "Our government believes that we must once and for all bring clarity and precision to intergovernmental relations." This was subsequent of course to the Premier's own statement in New York in answer to questions, where he stated, "There is zilch, absolutely zero, chance of Quebec separating from Canada."

The Minister of Intergovernmental Affairs in her remarks stated, "The existence of a strong separatist sentiment in Quebec -- I don't need to remind anyone here that Quebeckers recently voted by the narrowest of margins to stay in Canada," and subsequently in answer to questions she said that intergovernmental affairs in Canada have "never been so fragile." She went on to say it would be "foolish to say otherwise." This is an example, it seems to us, of two ministers, the Premier, the head of the government, and the minister responsible for intergovernmental affairs, having basic disagreement, making contradictory remarks about the state of Canada and Quebec and Ontario's role within Canada.

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My question is simply this, to the Premier: Will he give clarity to the situation? Who speaks for Ontario with regard to these important matters? What is the Premier and the government's position vis-à-vis the role of Quebec and the unity of Canada?

Hon Michael D. Harris (Premier): I thought the minister's speech and ensuing comments were very appropriate, 100% with my line of thinking. It is fragile. The unity of Canada is fragile. I think we're all aware of that and concerned about this, that it is a serious matter, that it affects us, that it affects our image abroad, it affects interest rates, it affects the stability of the country, and that there is a substantial separatist sentiment within the province of Quebec for separation. There is also a sentiment in Quebec for reconfederation as well.

So we share those views and those concerns. It's why I actually appointed a very senior member of our cabinet to be intergovernmental affairs, to have two people working on the file instead of one. It's why we've spent a considerable amount of time on the file in meeting with the Prime Minister, with the Premier of Quebec, with others in Quebec who are there.

If you're asking me to rationalize that with my statement in New York that in my opinion at the end of the day will I and the other premiers and 30 million Canadians be successful in keeping the country together, I believe we will. So does the Minister of Intergovernmental Affairs. So two different questions got two different answers which were all on the same wavelength. We're going to work hard. We appreciate the significance of the challenge ahead of us, and at the end of the day I'm 100% confident we're going to be successful.

Mr Wildman: All of us share the Premier's hope and desire that we be successful in ensuring the unity of our country. Having said that, however, I think it's a little facile for the Premier to be able to simply say that he was just talking about the end of the day and not take into account the effects of comments that he makes and that other leaders in this country make within Quebec as well as within our trading partners and in other parts of Canada.

The Premier's comments have been reported widely in the province of Quebec, much to the consternation of many federalists in that province. Can the Premier respond to his colleague's remark? Her explanation was that the Premier is "the kind of person who would just speak out openly and passionately from the heart." Surely, all of us may be passionate about this country, Mr Premier, but all of us also must recognize that we must weigh our statements very carefully before making them in terms of the effects that they may have within Quebec and across Canada on the very important debate about national unity, particularly as we just head into the first ministers' conference.

Hon Mr Harris: Let me say that I appreciate the member's personal commitment to this file and to this issue and concern for the country and his party's, and acknowledge that his party in opposition and in government has shared, I believe, that passion that I have for this country and that his leaders, both as Premier and in roles of opposition, have spoken out very passionately here in Ontario, across Canada and in the province of Quebec. Let me assure the member that I intend to do the very same.

We have a very thoughtful plan in place over what role Ontario should play in keeping this country together: getting our own economic affairs in order, assisting the federal government to do the same, work with other governments on those issues that are top of the mind to Canadians in Quebec and outside, of jobs, the economy, deficit, in those areas; as well, looking at reconfederating the country along the lines that many of us have been talking about -- Quebec for 25 years; Quebec might say we're johnny-come-latelys -- to looking at some of the devolution of powers to the provincial governments where we believe government closer to the people can be more efficient and more effective.

My own view on this is that we can be successful by taking small steps, by achieving successes, by demonstrating to all Canadians, particularly to Quebeckers, that we can actually agree among ourselves to reconfederate this country along the lines similar to what many in Quebec have been asking for, both federalists and nationalists alike, to meet the aspirations of Quebec.

I tell you this: At the end of the day in many areas I think Mr Bouchard is going to find out, coming to the first ministers' conference -- he tells me he is also going to come to Jasper to the premiers' conference; he's interested in Team Canada trade missions -- when he gets to know the other provinces and the other premiers that in many ways other premiers go just as far, and maybe even will pass him, in some of the areas of responsibility they are seeking for provincial jurisdiction.

I believe very confidently as well that the aspirations of Quebeckers will be able to be seen within the type of changes I think we could make.

Mr Wildman: In attempting to bring some clarity to the provincial government's position going into the first ministers' conference, I'd like to remind the Premier of comments he made in Hansard in May 1994, in the debate in this House about calling for the federal government to treat Ontario fairly with regard to transfer payments. The then leader of the third party said, "The government of Ontario is reduced to whining and squabbling with other levels of government," when he was referring to the position of the then government that Ontario should be treated fairly.

I'd like to keep that in mind when we look at the statement made by the Minister of Intergovernmental Affairs on June 14 at the Park Plaza. The minister said in her speech that while Ontario has always supported the equalization program, as we all do, "what Ontario cannot support is the continued discrimination against our province in other program areas, the continued expectation that Ontarians should contribute a disproportionate share to programs that were intended to be equally beneficial to all Canadians."

That statement by your Minister of Intergovernmental Affairs is exactly the same position that was taken by our leader when he was Premier of this province with regard to equal treatment on federal-provincial programs and cost-sharing programs. Why was it whining when our government took that position and now it's the position of your government, apparently?

Hon Mr Harris: Let me say that there were a couple of occasions when, you will recall, I stood up in the Legislature and went and shook your Premier's hand. We stood up on trade sanctions against Quebec, where it was very unfair. I spoke out in support that we were entitled to our fair share of dollars for training and settlement costs for new immigrants coming into this country, that we were not getting our fair share back, that a new immigrant to Ontario was as entirely deserving of services as a new immigrant to Quebec or Atlantic Canada. I supported that. I encouraged you in that. I said, "Good for you." We are saying that now on training programs and unemployment.

However, when it came to the type of whining and finger-pointing and bellyaching that you did at everything the federal government did, then we took exception. That's not cooperative federalism. We support the federal government balancing its books, getting its affairs in order. We even support them reducing the transfers to the provinces, provided it's done fairly. When you were fair, we supported you and we said that. When you were just silly, nitpicking and bellyaching, we pointed that out too.

YOUNG OFFENDERS

Mr Sean G. Conway (Renfrew North): My question is for the minister of justice. When precisely did you learn about the allegations at the Elgin-Middlesex correctional centre and by what means did you learn of those allegations?

Hon Charles Harnick (Attorney General, minister responsible for native affairs): I heard of those allegations in this place.

Mr Conway: Now the story widens. Notwithstanding the fact that on March 4 the deputy minister of social services and the acting deputy minister of correctional services are made aware of serious allegations about the alleged abuse of young people in the care of the Ontario government at the Elgin-Middlesex centre, we're asked to believe that neither of those senior government officials, who know about the requirements of the Child and Family Services Act, contacted any of the responsible ministers, including the minister of justice -- incredible, absolutely incredible.

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My supplementary question to the minister of justice is this: Given that over three months elapsed between March 4 and early June, when the Solicitor General tells us he initiated some ministerial action in this respect, given the fact that a number of people who are clearly going to be the subject of the investigation had all kinds of time and opportunity to tamper with evidence, to cover their tracks, do you as the justice minister have any concern about the potential conflict of interest in which many in the department of correctional services now find themselves? Do you contemplate any action as the chief law officer for Ontario, given the gravity of these allegations, to address that serious potential conflict of interest?

Hon Mr Harnick: It's important for the member to understand and know that the Ministry of the Attorney General is not an investigatory body of criminal issues. That's quite clear. The Ministry of the Attorney General is a prosecutorial body; we're not a criminal investigatory body.

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

Mrs Marion Boyd (London Centre): Let's just go through what we've got here. First of all, there's the riot at Bluewater on February 29 --

Hon Mr Harnick: To whom are you asking the question?

Mrs Boyd: Oh, to the Solicitor General, of course.

First we have the riot at Bluewater. Then we have the alleged beating of young offenders by managers at EMDC on the evening of February 29 or the day of March 1. Then we have the alleged allegations of shredding of documents at EMDC long after you knew this had occurred. Then we have the superintendent's remarks, supposedly, around the shredding, which allegedly led to his dismissal as the superintendent and his reassignment into another part of the ministry. Then we hear that the report of the child advocate was too sensitive to release to the public because it might influence possible witnesses or might interfere with the police investigation. Now we have today's allegations around the duplication of medical records and the faxing of medical records which are confidential from one institution to another in the midst of these very serious investigations.

And you ask us, Minister, to believe there's no coverup?

Hon Bob Runciman (Solicitor General and Minister of Correctional Services): I've indicated on a number of occasions that I share the concerns with respect to some of the issues the member for London Centre has raised, related to the activities of managers and management personnel following receipt of the child advocate's report. I've indicated in an unequivocal way that I want to see this followed through. We've broadened the investigation: We've brought in an official from the Ministry of the Attorney General, a senior counsel, to assist in the investigation, to ensure that everything possible is looked at and reviewed in terms of the activities of managers.

I'm not sure I can expand upon that any further. I think we're acting in a most appropriate and responsible way.

Mrs Boyd: Minister, the issue here is that you are relying on the very people who kept this matter from you -- if we are to believe you -- to deal with it. We learned today that it was your assistant deputy minister for correctional services, third in command in your ministry after you and the deputy, who gave the child advocate report, the confidential child advocate report that couldn't be released, to George Simpson, the superintendent at Elgin-Middlesex Detention Centre, who in turn gave it to his staff, at the very institution where these allegations occurred, to read. This is the same report you keep refusing to release. You know and you have said in this place that releasing it might jeopardize the ongoing police investigation if details were known to potential witnesses or to those under investigation. The managers and Mr Simpson himself may be the subject of ongoing investigations and it is alleged that your most senior official in the corrections side of your ministry has made this confidential report available to them.

We know the child advocate didn't give them this report. That's very clear. She has said so directly, and I share your confidence in her ability to tell us the truth. I ask you very directly, is your assistant deputy minister of correctional services responsible for allowing the superintendent and the managers at Elgin-Middlesex Detention Centre to read the child advocate's report on the allegations that have been made against them?

Hon Mr Runciman: The key component of the question and the suggestion the member was making was that with respect to investigation of these allegations, I'm relying on personnel within the ministry who may indeed be part and parcel of the investigation. That is not the case.

There is an internal investigative unit, as I've indicated in the House on a number of occasions, headed by Inspector Christopherson -- I'm not sure if the member wants to question the inspector's credentials or credibility or objectivity in approaching this -- who is being assisted by a very capable team of investigators and also assisted by senior counsel from the Ministry of the Attorney General. Again, all these questions and concerns will be addressed by very competent, well-trained, objective investigators.

ONTARIO WORKS

Mr Ted Chudleigh (Halton North): My question is to the Minister of Community and Social Services. I stand in this House today as a member proud to represent the riding of Halton North and to express our region's anticipation at being included in the government's first phase of workfare.

When we took office, there were three times as many people on welfare as 10 years before, and many more second- and third-generation welfare families. The people of Ontario told us it was time to break the cycle of dependency and to provide temporary emergency help when you need it, not to create a way of life. As promised, we are introducing a mandatory work-for-welfare program that requires all able-bodied welfare recipients to work or train for a job in exchange for benefits.

The opposition claims the new Ontario Works program is similar to the failed Jobs Ontario program. Minister, can you explain the differences between the employment supports that you announced this week and Jobs Ontario?

Hon David H. Tsubouchi (Minister of Community and Social Services): First of all, our government cancelled the Jobs Ontario program because it did not produce results. That's not my opinion or the government's opinion; that was the opinion of the Provincial Auditor, who found it to be a very poorly run program.

Hon Bob Runciman (Solicitor General and Minister of Correctional Services): A boondoggle.

Hon Mr Tsubouchi: My colleague just mentioned it was a boondoggle, and that's probably an appropriate comment.

I think it's clear the old system was not helping people break the cycle of dependency, and that's where the difference is between our program and the Jobs Ontario program. The NDP Jobs Ontario program subsidized companies and businesses to hire people on welfare, and the incentive was free money. This particular type of program had been tried in other jurisdictions. I might point to the experience in Quebec, for example -- I think it was called the Paillé program -- wherein when the subsidy ran out, so did the jobs. In fact, the other experience in that particular program was that at the end of it a number of the companies who had participated in the program indicated that even though they kept on the people, they would have hired them anyway, but they thanked the government very much for the subsidy.

The real difference here is that the agencies that are now going to be in charge of getting people back into employment will have that degree of accountability, that element of results orientation we're looking for, that this fee for performance will only pay these agencies once they're in a job. That's a better way for this government to go, as it has the accountability; it's accountable to the taxpayers as well, along with the recipients. The recipients expect, when they go through a program, that at the end of it they're going to have a job. The old system was very costly, and it had the result that you'd go through the program and at the end you'd have a better-trained unemployed person.

That in effect is the difference, and we certainly are looking for a made-in-Ontario solution for this province.

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Mr Chudleigh: Thank you for clarifying the differences for us. I'd also like to ask the minister how these job agencies are going to place welfare recipients into jobs.

Hon Mr Tsubouchi: Once again, I appreciate the opportunity to answer the question from the member for Halton, but I might add as well that it was certainly refreshing and good to see that the citizens and the council in Halton supported the workfare program and wanted to be part of the first phase.

Once again, if I could reiterate the fact that the real difference with this program is that the agencies will be paid once somebody is into a paid job. Part of this will be that there will be a $200 retainer fee paid at the intake part of this program, and this of course is refundable, so if the agency does not place somebody into a job, that $200 gets repaid back to the province.

There will be two other levels as well as the program progresses. After three months and after six months there will be further payments. In terms of the payments, once again it's results-oriented, so if we don't have results, the agencies do not get paid.

Clearly this type of program has worked before in other jurisdictions. I might point as well to the experience in Alberta. Certainly in Alberta, in similar types of employment programs, they've had a success rate of between 75% and 80%.

Clearly I think this will be a system and a program that will attain results for the people of Ontario.

FOREST FIREFIGHTING

Mr Michael Gravelle (Port Arthur): My question is to the Minister of Natural Resources. Before I get into the question, let me preface my remarks by paying tribute to the extraordinary job being done in northwestern Ontario by all those who are battling the fires that are raging across the province.

Interjections.

The Speaker (Hon Allan K. McLean): I didn't hear the question properly. Would you repeat it?

Mr Gravelle: I certainly want to pay tribute to the extraordinary job being done in northwestern Ontario by all those who are battling the fires that are raging across the region. This is an emergency situation and I recognize that everything possible should be done to win this battle.

However, I am concerned with the fact that you have called in firefighters in large numbers from out of the province -- from BC, Alberta, Minnesota and Wisconsin -- when there is no question that qualified and experienced firefighters from within the region and across the province are being told there is no work for them. We know you laid off 60 firefighters, 20 three-man crews, earlier this year, yet your officials, as well as you personally, have publicly stated that all available trained personnel in the province were working and that is why fire crews from across the US had to be called in.

Certainly I have constituents who have gone into the fire centre, trained, experienced workers who have gone in and were told there was no work available because they had made cuts. Because MNR had made cuts, there were no more jobs available.

My first question to the minister is this: Why have you and your officials consistently made the claim that all available trained personnel were working, those who were there, when you know that is not the case?

Hon Chris Hodgson (Minister of Natural Resources, Northern Development and Mines): I appreciate the question from my colleague. As I mentioned before, I think everyone agrees that firefighting is an extremely arduous and risky business and can be dangerous at times. The number one concern is safety to the crews and public safety. Therefore we ensure that all crews, before they become involved in the firefighting program, are properly trained.

As far as the international agreements, this is a traditional agreement that we've had with the United States and with other provinces. When they have a particularly severe situation, we send our crews over to their jurisdiction, and when we have an emergency, they will send crews and equipment to our jurisdiction.

As far as the training is concerned, we'll be offering updating and training courses for people in the next few weeks because, as you know, the first round are only allowed to stay in the working conditions for so many days and then we have to have a turnover. If he wants to get me the names of those people who are properly qualified who worked before, we'll take those.

Mr Gravelle: We understand how that compact works, and certainly it's only when all people have been called in and that is not the case, and we do have the names. They've gone into the fire centre consistently.

In 1995-96, we had one of the worst fire seasons in memory. Over 200,000 hectares burned. This year, we already have over 230,000 hectares burning. Yet, Minister, you decided to downsize your operation this year. You downsized, closing 17 of 45 fire bases, laying off 60 firefighters, cutting the budget by $5 million. This is some voice for the north.

Now, today in your statement, you talk about recertifying firefighters with previous training now that the fires are raging. The barn door is closed or closing. There is an emergency. I think, quite frankly, it's shameful you would only now recognize that this work can be done by residents of this province, residents who really are qualified to do it right now.

Will you guarantee that if anyone with appropriate certification walks into the fire centre today, or a CEC office, they will be hired? These people are out there and they've been banging on the doors. Will you also take action to see that we are prepared next year and in the years to come with enough certified Ontario residents, who can certainly use the jobs, to fight the fires so we do not have to call in thousands of out-of-province residents to do the work next year?

Hon Mr Hodgson: As every member of this House knows, we're in a serious situation in northwestern Ontario. If they want to try to play politics just to say that somehow these fires were caused because of this, it's absolute nonsense. The reductions he talks about and the bases the third party refers to were 17. There are 28 bases still in effect in Ontario. There are mobile attack units. There are nine bases that are in gravel pits close to the fires.

Our firefighters are doing an admirable job. We have first nation firefighters who are working hard day and night, and we have companies that are working day and night. The northwest, where 181 of those fires are located, had three crew reductions on their total force from last year. We were prepared. The operation is working well. The results speak for themselves.

We've had an unusually dry spring, with the humidity factor, and we've had a lot of lightning strikes, and that's what's caused the fire. We're getting in place, if this continues for a long period of time, by offering retraining for people who have had the experience before in Ontario. But we are part of international agreements for emergencies such as this so that we will have the resources there to meet the emergency when it's required.

YOUNG OFFENDERS

Mrs Marion Boyd (London Centre): My question is to the Solicitor General. Every day for the last two weeks we've been hearing more and more disturbing information about what went on at Elgin-Middlesex. The real issue here is accountability: Who is accountable for what happens to young people who are in the charge of your ministry, who is responsible when there are allegations of wrongdoing within that ministry, and how is that handled?

First of all, you tell us you didn't find out for three months, during which senior members of management within your ministry could have done anything to try to cover up what, if anything, did happen on the night of February 29 or the morning of March 1. Everything I've talked about generally here has been since you found out, your responsibility since you found out: your responsibility first to ensure those young people were in places of safety, your responsibility to secure records and to make sure possible evidence wasn't tampered with, your responsibility to make sure those in the chain of command were not those who were under any cloud by the investigations that were going on. You have done none of those things.

1500

Minister, how are we going to have any faith in the results of investigations when they come in, given the long, sad litany of events that have happened? There have been so many allegations of tampering with evidence, at least tampering with the continuity of that evidence, so many allegations that this evidence could have been changed, that stories could have been concocted because people were given information they ought not to have been given which you claim the public cannot have because it might prejudice the investigations. Minister, when these investigation reports finally come in, what do you plan to do with them and how do you plan to rebuild the public confidence in the corrections system?

Hon Bob Runciman (Solicitor General and Minister of Correctional Services): I've indicated that we'll take whatever action is appropriate and necessary, but I want to put on the record with respect to this interim period which members of the opposition want to talk about and point out again that there was an OPP investigation as well, and the advocate has indicated to me, and publicly as well, that she raised her concerns with respect to the treatment of young offenders on their arrival at Elgin-Middlesex with the OPP. So to suggest that there was no effort made in terms of her concerns, she certainly raised them with the OPP officers and then she raised them with the officials within both my ministry and the Ministry of Community and Social Services. She was encouraged to pursue those. The police had already been part of that process. To suggest that something inappropriate was done in that interim period is totally inaccurate.

Mrs Boyd: Minister, the child advocate has certainly said that the policy unit on young offenders within your ministry was of great assistance to her in trying to protect those young people. That is true.

You're quite right to say the OPP were investigating, and we know that the OPP are responsible to you. You are the Solicitor General as well as the minister of corrections, and that is why there is so much concern about what went on here. This has been going on for a long time. Evidence was not secured until June 10. There are allegations about tampering with that evidence over the weekend before, after it was mentioned in this House, after you knew about it.

I know what you're trying to do, Minister. You're telling us that these reports are going to come in at the end of the month, and we all know what happens at the end of the month. This place isn't here any more and you can't be questioned any more. You expect that everything can be swept under the carpet, as it has been many, many times in that ministry. All we're trying to do is to say to you is, you are accountable; it's your responsibility. These things have come out in a public forum, the way they didn't with Grandview, the way they didn't with St Joseph's and St John's. We are looking to you to show us how you are going to be sure that next year, years from now, we are not going to have the same kind of situation that we have had in the past in this province where young people were mistreated while they were in the care of the government, in the care of the correctional system.

Minister, what are you going to do to reassure the public? Will you at the very least agree that these investigative reports -- all these reports -- will be tabled and will be available for scrutiny? Will you at least guarantee us that?

Hon Mr Runciman: I don't see where the opposition can perceive that I have any vested interest in not pursuing this matter very vigorously. I certainly don't want, and I'm sure no member of this government wants, to see a repeat of what occurred in terms of the communication breakdown, the concerns surrounding the responses of management following the receipt of the child advocate's report. We intend to pursue this vigorously and we'll certainly make all of our activities as much as possible public knowledge.

In terms of the receipt of police reports and internal investigations, unless there are some questions surrounding privacy and any other of those kinds of questions which may arise, I'll be quite prepared to make them public, but I want to qualify that in terms of the privacy act and all of those other concerns that we have to address as members of government.

WASTE DISPOSAL

Mr Dan Newman (Scarborough Centre): My question is to the Minister of Environment and Energy. I understand that the federal government has banned the export of PCB waste in favour of Canadian disposal options which may be more expensive. The safe disposal of PCBs has been, and continues to be, an important issue for the people of Ontario, including the good people of Scarborough Centre. Can the minister tell the House what the Ontario government's position is on the export of PCBs?

Hon Brenda Elliott (Minister of Environment and Energy): I'm pleased to answer the question from my colleague. The responsibility for the transportation of hazardous waste such as PCB is a federal matter because it involves international movement.

In November the US EPA allowed the movement of PCBs to the United States for disposal. However, shortly after that the federal government instituted a ban to prevent it. This is a difficulty for us here in Ontario. We have about 116,000 tonnes of PCBs that need to be disposed of safely. They're at about 1,700 registered sites and the generator of that waste is responsible for making sure that material is safely disposed of. Generally, right now our options are either shipping that waste to Alberta to be disposed of there or landfilling it in Quebec.

Recently I had the opportunity to tour a site where we are experimenting with a new closed-loop system here in Ontario that may have tremendous possibilities for us with regard to disposing of this. The difficulty for us is that all options should be available for disposing of this. We believe it is far better to have this material dealt with in an environmentally sound manner and an economically responsible manner than it is to be sitting awaiting some sort of disposal.

Mr Gerry Phillips (Scarborough-Agincourt): On a point of privilege, Mr Speaker: Yesterday I rose in the House to make some comments that do not appear in Hansard for some reason. I would just give you a little bit of background and ask you to investigate.

We heard the heart-wrenching story yesterday of the Minister of Health where he said, "The honourable member knows full well that I spend all of my time -- I don't have a family; I don't have time to see anyone else...." He spends all his time talking to doctors. We indicated that our caucus was prepared to chip in and buy the minister a puppy to perhaps relieve some of the pain. I indicated that publicly yesterday and it does not appear in Hansard. I wonder if you might find out the reasons for that, because we were attempting in opposition to be helpful to the minister.

The Speaker: We have two deferred votes agreed to. There will be a five-minute bell. Call in the members.

The division bells rang from 1508 to 1513.

MINISTRY OF AGRICULTURE, FOOD AND RURAL AFFAIRS STATUTE LAW AMENDMENT ACT, 1996 / LOI DE 1996 MODIFIANT DES LOIS EN CE QUI CONCERNE LE MINISTÈRE DE L'AGRICULTURE, DE L'ALIMENTATION ET DES AFFAIRES RURALES

Deferred vote on the motion for second reading of Bill 46, An Act to amend or revoke various statutes administered by or affecting the Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs and to enact other statutes administered by the Ministry / Projet de loi 46, Loi modifiant ou abrogeant diverses lois appliquées par le ministère de l'Agriculture, de l'Alimentation et des Affaires rurales, ou qui touchent ce ministère, et visant à édicter d'autres lois appliquées par le ministère.

The Speaker (Hon Allan K. McLean): Will the members take their seats, please. We are dealing with second reading of Bill 46 standing in the name of Mr Villeneuve. Those in favour will please rise one at a time.

Ayes

Baird, John R.

Harnick, Charles

Ross, Lillian

Barrett, Toby

Harris, Michael D.

Runciman, Bob

 

Bassett, Isabel

Hodgson, Chris

Sampson, Rob

 

Beaubien, Marcel

Hudak, Tim

Saunderson, William

 

Brown, Jim

Jackson, Cameron

Shea, Derwyn

 

Carr, Gary

Johns, Helen

Sheehan, Frank

Carroll, Jack

Johnson, Bert

Skarica, Toni

Chudleigh, Ted

Johnson, David

Smith, Bruce

Clement, Tony

Kells, Morley

Spina, Joseph

Danford, Harry

Klees, Frank

Sterling, Norman W.

DeFaria, Carl

Leach, Al

Stewart, R. Gary

Doyle, Ed

Leadston, Gary L.

Tascona, Joseph N.

Ecker, Janet

Marland, Margaret

Tsubouchi, David H.

Elliott, Brenda

Martiniuk, Gerry

Turnbull, David

Fisher, Barbara

Maves, Bart

Vankoughnet, Bill

Ford, Douglas B.

Munro, Julia

Villeneuve, Noble

Fox, Gary

Mushinski, Marilyn

Wettlaufer, Wayne

Froese, Tom

Newman, Dan

Witmer, Elizabeth

Galt, Doug

O'Toole, John

Wood, Bob

Grimmett, Bill

Palladini, Al

Young, Terence H.

Guzzo, Garry J.

Preston, Peter

 

Hardeman, Ernie

Rollins, E.J. Douglas

 

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

Nays

Bartolucci, Rick

Cooke, David S.

Martel, Shelley

 

Bisson, Gilles

Crozier, Bruce

Martin, Tony

 

Boyd, Marion

Curling, Alvin

Miclash, Frank

 

Bradley, James J.

Grandmaître, Bernard

Morin, Gilles E.

 

Brown, Michael A.

Gravelle, Michael

Phillips, Gerry

 

Caplan, Elinor

Hoy, Pat

Pouliot, Gilles

 

Christopherson, David

Kormos, Peter

Pupatello, Sandra

Churley, Marilyn

Lalonde, Jean-Marc

Ramsay, David

Cleary, John C.

Lankin, Frances

Silipo, Tony

Colle, Mike

Laughren, Floyd

Wildman, Bud

Conway, Sean G.

Marchese, Rosario

Wood, Len

Clerk of the House (Mr Claude L. DesRosiers): The ayes are 64; the nays are 33.

The Speaker: I declare the motion carried.

Shall the bill be ordered for third reading? Agreed. So ordered.

Mr James J. Bradley (St Catharines): On a point of order, Mr Speaker: The official opposition wanted that bill to go to committee of the whole in order to present a couple of amendments. Is there consent to go to committee of the whole on that?

The Speaker: I ask the House if there's consent for it to go to committee of the whole? Agreed.

MINISTRY OF NATURAL RESOURCES STATUTE LAW AMENDMENT ACT, 1996 / LOI DE 1996 MODIFIANT DES LOIS EN CE QUI CONCERNE LE MINISTÈRE DES RICHESSES NATURELLES

Deferred vote on the motion for second reading of Bill 36, An Act to amend certain acts administered by the Ministry of Natural Resources / Projet de loi 36, Loi modifiant certaines lois appliquées par le ministère des Richesses naturelles.

The Speaker (Hon Allan K. McLean): The next item of business is second reading of Bill 36, standing in the name of Mr Hodgson. Call in the members.

The division bells rang from 1517 to 1522.

The Speaker: All those in favour of second reading will please rise one at a time.

Ayes

Baird, John R.

Hardeman, Ernie

Rollins, E.J. Douglas

 

Barrett, Toby

Harnick, Charles

Ross, Lillian

 

Bassett, Isabel

Harris, Michael D.

Runciman, Bob

 

Beaubien, Marcel

Hodgson, Chris

Sampson, Rob

Boushy, Dave

Hudak, Tim

Shea, Derwyn

Brown, Jim

Jackson, Cameron

Sheehan, Frank

Carr, Gary

Johns, Helen

Skarica, Toni

Carroll, Jack

Johnson, Bert

Smith, Bruce

Chudleigh, Ted

Johnson, David

Spina, Joseph

Clement, Tony

Kells, Morley

Sterling, Norman W.

Danford, Harry

Klees, Frank

Stewart, R. Gary

DeFaria, Carl

Leach, Al

Tascona, Joseph N.

Doyle, Ed

Leadston, Gary L.

Tsubouchi, David H.

Ecker, Janet

Marland, Margaret

Turnbull, David

Elliott, Brenda

Martiniuk, Gerry

Vankoughnet, Bill

Fisher, Barbara

Maves, Bart

Villeneuve, Noble

Ford, Douglas B.

Munro, Julia

Wettlaufer, Wayne

Fox, Gary

Mushinski, Marilyn

Wilson, Jim

Froese, Tom

Newman, Dan

Witmer, Elizabeth

Galt, Doug

O'Toole, John

Wood, Bob

Grimmett, Bill

Palladini, Al

Young, Terence H.

Guzzo, Garry J.

Preston, Peter

 

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

Nays

Bartolucci, Rick

Cooke, David S.

Martel, Shelley

 

Bisson, Gilles

Crozier, Bruce

Martin, Tony

 

Boyd, Marion

Curling, Alvin

Miclash, Frank

 

Bradley, James J.

Grandmaître, Bernard

Morin, Gilles E.

 

Brown, Michael A.

Gravelle, Michael

Phillips, Gerry

 

Caplan, Elinor

Hoy, Pat

Pouliot, Gilles

 

Christopherson, David

Kormos, Peter

Pupatello, Sandra

Churley, Marilyn

Lalonde, Jean-Marc

Ramsay, David

Cleary, John C.

Lankin, Frances

Silipo, Tony

Colle, Mike

Laughren, Floyd

Wildman, Bud

Conway, Sean G.

Marchese, Rosario

Wood, Len

Clerk of the House (Mr Claude L. DesRosiers): The ayes are 65; the nays are 33.

The Speaker: I declare the motion carried.

Shall the bill be ordered for third reading?

Interjections: No, committee of the whole House.

The Speaker: Agreed? Agreed.

EDUCATION AMENDMENT ACT, 1996 / LOI DE 1996 MODIFIANT LA LOI SUR L'ÉDUCATION

Bill 34, An Act to amend the Education Act / Projet de loi 34, Loi modifiant la Loi sur l'éducation.

Mr David Turnbull (York Mills): Mr Speaker, I believe we have unanimous consent that the debate was deemed to have been concluded and the request for the recorded vote deemed to have been made on Bill 34, An Act to amend the Education Act, and that the vote will follow immediately.

The Speaker (Hon Allan K. McLean): Do we have agreement on that? Agreed.

Call in the members. Same vote?

Mr Floyd Laughren (Nickel Belt): No.

The Speaker: I hear a no. A five-minute bell.

The division bells rang from 1527 to 1532.

The Speaker: We're dealing with Bill 34, third reading, standing in the name of Mr Snobelen. Those in favour will rise one at a time.

Ayes

Baird, John R.

Harnick, Charles

Ross, Lillian

 

Barrett, Toby

Harris, Michael D.

Runciman, Bob

 

Bassett, Isabel

Hodgson, Chris

Sampson, Rob

 

Beaubien, Marcel

Hudak, Tim

Saunderson, William

 

Boushy, Dave

Jackson, Cameron

Shea, Derwyn

 

Brown, Jim

Johns, Helen

Sheehan, Frank

Carr, Gary

Johnson, Bert

Skarica, Toni

Carroll, Jack

Johnson, David

Smith, Bruce

Chudleigh, Ted

Kells, Morley

Spina, Joseph

Clement, Tony

Klees, Frank

Sterling, Norman W.

Danford, Harry

Leach, Al

Stewart, R. Gary

DeFaria, Carl

Leadston, Gary L.

Stockwell, Chris

Doyle, Ed

Marland, Margaret

Tascona, Joseph N.

Ecker, Janet

Martiniuk, Gerry

Tsubouchi, David H.

Elliott, Brenda

Maves, Bart

Turnbull, David

Fisher, Barbara

Munro, Julia

Vankoughnet, Bill

Ford, Douglas B.

Mushinski, Marilyn

Villeneuve, Noble

Fox, Gary

Newman, Dan

Wettlaufer, Wayne

Froese, Tom

O'Toole, John

Wilson, Jim

Galt, Doug

Ouellette, Jerry J.

Witmer, Elizabeth

Grimmett, Bill

Palladini, Al

Wood, Bob

Guzzo, Garry J.

Preston, Peter

Young, Terence H.

Hardeman, Ernie

Rollins, E.J. Douglas

 

The Speaker: All those opposed will rise one at a time until their name is called.

Nays

Bartolucci, Rick

Cooke, David S.

Martin, Tony

 

Bisson, Gilles

Crozier, Bruce

Miclash, Frank

 

Boyd, Marion

Curling, Alvin

Morin, Gilles E.

 

Bradley, James J.

Grandmaître, Bernard

Phillips, Gerry

 

Brown, Michael A.

Gravelle, Michael

Pouliot, Gilles

 

Caplan, Elinor

Hoy, Pat

Pupatello, Sandra

 

Christopherson, David

Lalonde, Jean-Marc

Ramsay, David

Churley, Marilyn

Lankin, Frances

Silipo, Tony

Cleary, John C.

Laughren, Floyd

Wildman, Bud

Colle, Mike

Marchese, Rosario

Wood, Len

Conway, Sean G.

Martel, Shelley

 

Clerk of the House (Mr Claude L. DesRosiers): The ayes are 68; the nays are 32.

The Speaker: I declare the motion carried.

Be it resolved that the bill do now pass and be entitled as in the motion.

PETITIONS

ADULT EDUCATION

Mr Alvin Curling (Scarborough North): To the Legislative Assembly of Ontario:

"Whereas the Education Act of Ontario and the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms guarantee equal access to secondary school education for all students regardless of age; and

"Whereas Bill 34 clearly discriminates against students over the age of 20; and

"Whereas factors in Metropolitan Toronto such as years of major economic dislocation, escalating social problems and consistently high levels of immigration have created a tremendous need and demand for quality effective adult education programs; and

"Whereas public adult education programs in Metro Toronto are a proven success, with 83% of students moving directly into employment or further education after completing short-term programs of five months to one year; and

"Whereas Bill 34 clearly threatens these programs;

"We, the undersigned, urge the provincial assembly to instruct the government to withdraw Bill 34, the Education Amendment Act, because it discriminates against adult students on the basis of age."

I put my signature to this. There are many people in my constituency who have also done so.

RENT REGULATION

Mr Gilles Bisson (Cochrane South): I have a number of petitions with signatures of over 2,000 to 3,000 individuals from around the city of Toronto addressed to Premier Mike Harris and the Minister of Municipal Affairs and Housing, Al Leach, and the members of the provincial Legislature and it reads as follows:

"Whereas to abolish rent controls in favour of a market system would be disastrous for tenants and give further power and allow unnecessary profits for landlords;

"We, the undersigned, petition the Legislature of Ontario to support universal and mandatory rent controls which reflect a fair balance between the ability of tenants to pay and the necessity and cost of supplying well-maintained and secure housing."

I sign that petition with pleasure.

COMMERCE INTERPROVINCIAL

M. Jean-Marc Lalonde (Prescott et Russell) : J'ai une pétition signée par une centaine de travailleurs de la construction en Ontario et à Prescott et Russell.

«Attendu que le taux de sans-emploi au sein de l'industrie de la construction est très élevé dans toute la vallée de l'Outaouais, notamment dans la région d'Ottawa-Carleton où, selon l'IBEW, Local 586, 43 % des travailleurs syndiqués de différents métiers reliés à la construction sont au chômage ;

«Attendu que plusieurs emplois sur les chantiers de construction de l'Ontario sont comblés par des travailleurs du Québec ;

«Attendu que les travailleurs et les entrepreneurs en construction de l'Ontario font face à de nombreuses règles lorsqu'ils veulent travailler au Québec ou encore obtenir des contrats au Québec ;

«Attendu que les négociations entre l'Ontario et le Québec au cours des 20 dernières année afin d'abolir les barrières interprovinciales n'ont pas permis d'établir une parité au sein des deux provinces ;

«Nous, soussignés, adressons à l'Assemblée législative de l'Ontario la pétition suivante :

«Que le projet de loi sur la main-d'oeuvre de la construction du Québec déposé à l'Assemblée législative le 4 juin 1996 par le député de Prescott et Russell, Jean-Marc Lalonde, qui contribuera à créer de l'emploi et à protéger l'industrie de la construction en Ontario soit adopté par l'Assemblée.»

Je signe cette pétition.

1540

TAX REDUCTION

Mrs Marion Boyd (London Centre): I have here a petition that was forwarded to me from the Roman Catholic diocese of London, the first signatory being Bishop Sherlock. It is a petition to the Legislature of Ontario.

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

I am proud to add my signature to this petition.

COURTCLIFFE PARK

Mr Toni Skarica (Wentworth North): I have a petition; it's actually the second one. It reads as follows, in part:

"We, the residents of Courtcliffe Park in the town of Flamborough, demand a public inquiry into the financial management of Courtcliffe Park by the provincial court-appointed receiver Deloitte and Touche from May 1992 to November 1995, in particular the collection of property taxes from the residents of Courtcliffe Park that were not paid to the town of Flamborough, which has led to the possible eviction of more than 200 residents."

This is the second petition, one with 200 signatures which was filed last week.

SKILLS TRAINING

Mrs Sandra Pupatello (Windsor-Sandwich): I'm happy to support the petition going forward with hundreds of names on it from my riding.

"To the Legislative Assembly of Ontario:

"Whereas chronic underfunding of skill training has resulted in program cuts at St Clair College;

"Whereas apprentices and non-regulated trades of CNC machinists, draftspersons, industrial pipefitters, industrial machine control and electricians may be in jeopardy of losing their training;

"Whereas the Premier of Ontario has stated that teachers and classes will not be cancelled under restructuring;

"Therefore be it resolved that we, the apprentices and concerned individuals, request that the Premier and the Minister of Labour (a) restore funding to the non-regulated trades, (b) guarantee that no apprentice will lose their apprenticeship and (c) guarantee continuity of skill training for the province of Ontario."

I'm happy to add my signature to this petition.

OCCUPATIONAL HEALTH AND SAFETY

Mr David Christopherson (Hamilton Centre): I continue to receive petitions from workers concerned about this government's continuing attack on workplace health and safety. These petitions come from the Service Employees International Union Local 532 in my home town of Hamilton.

"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; and

"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; and

"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."

As I support this petition, I affix my signature also.

NURSING STAFF

Mrs Elinor Caplan (Oriole): I have a petition from the staff on 5A of the Fell building, the neurosurgery nurses, Western Division, the Toronto Hospital, and the petition says:

"Whereas the mission statement of the Toronto Hospital says `The Toronto Hospital will provide exemplary patient care and foster excellence in health care delivery, research and teaching';

"Therefore, we, the undersigned, are strongly opposed to the removal of registered nurses from the hospital wards and replacing them with registered practical nurses and unregulated health workers."

This is signed by the registered nurses who are members of the neurosurgery team at the Western Division of the Toronto Hospital. I submit this to the Legislature and I share their concerns.

COMMON SENSE REVOLUTION

Ms Shelley Martel (Sudbury East): I have a petition that's signed by 27 constituents in the riding of Sudbury East. It reads as follows:

"Whereas Mike Harris said on May 30, 1995, `If I don't live up to anything that I have promised to do and committed to do, I will resign;' and

"Whereas Mike Harris promised on May 3, 1995, `No cuts to health care spending,' but in his November 29 economic statement we see $1.3 billion, or 18%, in cuts to hospital spending over the next three years and a further $225 million in cuts from the health care budget; and

"Whereas Mike Harris has clearly broken his promise to defend health care cuts in funding; and

"Whereas Mike Harris promised in the Common Sense Revolution that, `This plan will create more than 725,000 new jobs,' but in his November 29 economic statement we see a prediction of only 253,000 jobs created over the next three years and an unemployment rate of 8.6% in two years, which is the same as it is today; and

"Whereas Mike Harris has clearly broken his promise to create significant jobs in this province; and

"Whereas Mike Harris promised in the Common Sense Revolution that, `Aid for seniors and the disabled will not be cut,' but in his November 29 economic statement Mike Harris is cutting the Ontario drug benefit plan and making seniors and the vulnerable pay for their drugs; and

"Whereas Mike Harris has clearly broken his promise to seniors and the disabled,

"We, the undersigned, demand that Mike Harris keep his word and resign immediately."

I have affixed my signature to the petition and I agree entirely with my constituents.

TRANSITION HOUSE

Mr Pat Hoy (Essex-Kent): "To the Legislative Assembly of Ontario:

"Whereas Transition House in Chatham has provided emergency shelter to troubled or abused youth as well as support, counselling and life skills training since 1990, and operating on a five-year budget of $865,000 they have counselled over 400 youth and served over 20,000 meals;

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

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

"Whereas it has been shown that massive cuts to health services, school systems and social services have a definite impact on statistics of children and youth in crisis; and

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

"Be it therefore resolved that we, the undersigned, urge the government of Ontario to reverse its decision to cut the funding of Transition House in Chatham and in Kent."

I affix my signature to this petition.

OCCUPATIONAL HEALTH AND SAFETY

Mr Tony Martin (Sault Ste Marie): I bring to this assembly a petition of hundreds of names, literally, to add to the hundreds of names already presented on this issue from the United Steelworkers of America in Sault Ste Marie, Local 2251. It goes like this:

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

"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; and

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

"We, the undersigned, from United Steelworkers 2251, 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, from Local 2251, United Steelworkers, demand that the 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 sign my name to this petition.

1550

COLLEGE OF TEACHERS

Mr James J. Bradley (St Catharines): I have a petition that reads as follows, regarding Bill 31, an act to establish the Ontario College of Teachers, a bill which has not yet been proclaimed:

"Whereas the Ontario Legislature is currently debating Bill 31, An Act to establish the Ontario College of Teachers and to make related amendments to certain statutes; and

"Whereas section 4 of this legislation sets up the college's governing council in a manner designed to prevent ordinary teachers from forming a majority; and

"Whereas section 12 gives the Minister of Education draconian powers to override the will of the elected governing council; and

"Whereas sections 33 and 34 give college investigators the right to enter teachers' workplaces and homes, by force if necessary, to search for `something relevant' to charges against teachers; and

"Whereas section 28 gives the college's discipline committee power to revoke teacher certification and assess fines of up to $5,000 plus legal costs; and

"Whereas under section 52 a teacher unjustly accused of professional incompetence would have no right to undertake legal action against the college even if it was shown to have neglected or defaulted in the performance of its duties; and

"Whereas section 53 makes Ontario teachers retroactively responsible for all expenses incurred in establishing the college since April 1, 1994, plus interest; and

"Whereas this bill contains many other provisions too numerous to mention which are an insult to the professionalism of the Ontario teacher, who will be forced without consent to pay for the College of Teachers;

"We, the undersigned, call upon the government of Ontario to withdraw Bill 31 and to undertake a sincere process of consultation with Ontario teachers prior to reintroduction of another such bill."

I affix my name to this petition as I'm in agreement with its contents.

NON-PROFIT HOUSING

Mr David Christopherson (Hamilton Centre): I have a petition from the Guise Street Housing Co-op in my riding of Hamilton Centre, which is located at 2 Guise Street. It reads as follows:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

As I support this petition, I affix my signature also.

REPORTS BY COMMITTEES

STANDING COMMITTEE ON GOVERNMENT AGENCIES

Mr Martin from the standing committee on government agencies presented the committee's 13th report.

The Deputy Speaker (Mr Bert Johnson): Does the member wish to make a statement?

Mr Tony Martin (Sault Ste Marie): No, I don't wish to make a speech of any sort.

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

STANDING COMMITTEE ON REGULATIONS AND PRIVATE BILLS

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

Your committee begs to report the following bill without amendment:

Bill Pr58, An Act respecting the Lions Foundation of Canada.

Your committee begs to report the following bill with amendment:

Bill Pr61, An Act respecting the Town of Richmond Hill.

The Deputy Speaker (Mr Bert Johnson): Shall the report be received and adopted? Agreed.

INTRODUCTION OF BILLS

HIGHWAY TRAFFIC AMENDMENT ACT, 1996 / LOI DE 1996 MODIFIANT LE CODE DE LA ROUTE

Mr Hoy moved first reading of the following bill:

Bill 78, An Act to amend the Highway Traffic Act / Projet de loi 78, Loi modifiant le Code de la route.

The Deputy Speaker (Mr Bert Johnson): Is it the pleasure of the House that the motion carry? Carried.

Mr Pat Hoy (Essex-Kent): This bill attempts to correct a long-standing problem in Ontario of identifying the drivers of vehicles that endanger children boarding or leaving school buses. The bill imposes liability on the owner of a vehicle that fails to stop for a school bus with its lights flashing.

ORDERS OF THE DAY

AGGREGATE AND PETROLEUM RESOURCES STATUTE LAW AMENDMENT ACT, 1996 / LOI DE 1996 MODIFIANT DES LOIS EN CE QUI CONCERNE LES RESSOURCES EN AGRÉGATS ET LES RICHESSES PÉTROLIÈRES

Mr Hodgson moved second reading of the following bill:

Bill 52, An Act to promote resource development, conservation and environmental protection through the streamlining of regulatory processes and the enhancement of compliance measures in the Aggregate and Petroleum Industries / Projet de loi 52, Loi visant à promouvoir la mise en valeur des ressources, la conservation ainsi que la protection de l'environnement en simplifiant les processus de réglementation et en renforçant les mesures de conformité dans l'industrie pétrolière et l'industrie des agrégats.

Hon Chris Hodgson (Minister of Natural Resources, Northern Development and Mines): It's my privilege to rise today to introduce Bill 52 for second reading. When passed, Bill 52, the Aggregate and Petroleum Resources Statute Law Amendment Act, will amend four existing statutes, the Aggregate Resources Act, the Petroleum Resources Act, the Mining Act and the Ontario Energy Board Act.

These amendments will restructure the aggregate, petroleum and salt-solution mining and brine programs of the Ministry of Natural Resources to make industry more accountable for meeting provincial environmental standards. In addition, these amendments will result in permanent savings of $3.5 million annually for the taxpayers of Ontario.

As members are aware, our government has pledged to change the way government works by providing better services at a price the taxpayers can afford. We're determined to stimulate economic growth and job creation by eliminating red tape and by removing barriers to business sector investment.

The Ministry of Natural Resources has been actively supporting the government's ongoing efforts to achieve these commitments. We have been working with the Red Tape Review Commission to remove bureaucratic inefficiencies from our regulations and practices that have an impact on economic growth.

Through the revised acts resulting from today's bill, we will be implementing our non-renewable resources business plan to change the way we regulate the aggregate, petroleum and brine industries in Ontario. We will shift more responsibility for direct program delivery to the industry, making it more accountable for meeting provincial environmental standards. The Ministry of Natural Resources will then be able to concentrate on our core business of policy development, the setting and enforcement of standards, and approvals of permits and licences.

This new approach to the way we do business will remove the complex, detailed legislation and regulations that currently administer the aggregate, petroleum and brine industries. It will put into place new, streamlined legislation and regulations, backed by detailed technical standards that are understandable and enforceable.

These standards will be developed in consultation with key stakeholders and will be adopted by regulation. They will be tailored to the industries and the people working directly in the field, who will be accountable for compliance. As well, the standards will be more adaptable to the changing improvements in technology.

The changes proposed in this bill will in no way lessen the environmental safety programs present in the current legislation, nor will they open the door for industry to do what it wants. Indeed, with the new, clearly defined, detailed and enforceable technical standards, these industries will be better able to understand and accept their responsibilities, making them more accountable for their actions.

Compliance with new standards will be less complicated than is currently the case. The ministry will be responsible for auditing operations for compliance with legislation and standards, and for enforcement in the event of non-compliance.

The revised acts will provide stronger enforcement tools, including increased fines, longer licence suspensions and a longer time period to initiate prosecutions. Companies, agencies and individuals will be fully liable for their actions.

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I would now like to outline the specific changes for each of the affected industries.

The aggregate industry is one of the most important industries in Ontario. It provides an indispensable commodity that is the foundation for a $30-billion construction industry. The aggregate industry employs some 7,000 people directly and some 34,000 people indirectly in services such as transportation and equipment.

By cutting the red tape that currently regulates the aggregate industry in Ontario, we'll be creating a business climate that will stimulate investment and create jobs. We'll be working with the industry and the key stakeholders to develop new technical standards governing the industry's activities, maintaining Ontario's international leadership role in aggregate resources management.

With these new standards, we'll be developing a compliance partnership with the industry. Operators will be responsible for day-to-day site inspections and for monitoring to ensure there is compliance with the legislation, regulations and standards. Full, detailed compliance reports will be submitted annually to the ministry, and operators will be held legally accountable for the accuracy of these reports. To ensure that the reports are properly submitted, ministry inspectors will conduct random audits.

We will also be making changes in the collection of fees and security deposits required from aggregate operators. Under the current legislation, the Ministry of Natural Resources is responsible for the collection and disbursement of moneys collected from these operators. We are essentially acting as bankers for the industry. The existing system is inefficient, ineffective and difficult to understand.

Under the amendments to the existing legislation, we'll be setting up a trust fund administered by a private corporation similar to the one set up under the Crown Forest Sustainability Act.

The Minister of Natural Resources will appoint trustees who will be responsible for collecting and disbursing annual licence and wayside fees; administering the abandoned pits and quarries rehabilitation fund; administering a new pooled trust for the rehabilitation of lands where operators have had their licences revoked or have gone bankrupt; and funding research into aggregate resources management, including rehabilitation research.

The Aggregate Producers' Association of Ontario has agreed to take on the responsibility for the administration and delivery of the rehabilitation programs stemming from the abandoned pits and quarries rehabilitation fund.

I'd now like to turn to the changes we will be making to the regulation of the petroleum and brine industries. These are four industries dealing with hydrocarbon and brine products: the crude oil and natural gas exploration and production industry; the natural gas storage industry; the brine or salt-solution mining industry; and the hydrocarbon storage industry.

Although not nearly as large as the industry in Alberta, Ontario's oil and gas production still employs 1,100 workers directly and another 3,500 indirectly. The salt-solution mining industry employs 1,200 directly and, along with the natural gas storage industry and hydrocarbon storage industry, provides for value added jobs for more than 30,000 people.

Similar to the changes proposed for the aggregate industry, legislation governing the petroleum and brine industries will be streamlined and simplified. As well, operational standards will be developed with the industry and other key stakeholders to provide detailed technical guidelines. These will be similar to the current CSA standard for the storage of hydrocarbon in underground foundations.

To guarantee that operations comply with Ontario's environmental and safety regulations, the Ministry of Natural Resources will continue to do field site inspections. In addition, private inspectors, certified by the ministry, will also perform field site examinations.

Inspectors will have strengthened powers, including the authority to order the plugging of a well. This enhanced enforcement will be complemented by increased fines reaching a maximum of $500,000, up from the current $10,000. As well, any profits accrued as a result of the violations will be added to the fines. To ensure that all operators comply with the regulations, we will also extend the time period for initiating prosecution.

A new licensing system will replace the current well permit system, which only addresses the drilling portion of operations. Under the provisions in this bill, a new life-cycle well licence will be established. It will require adherence to the operational standards for the life of a well, from the initial drilling to the final plugging and abandonment.

This new licence will cover all activities, including drilling, production, maintenance and changes in the status or purpose of the well. It will eliminate the need for annual production and rig licences and special brine well permits currently required under the Mining Act.

As a result of the restructuring of the Ministry of Natural Resources resulting from the implementation of the non-renewable resources business plan, it will no longer be providing technical and research services to the petroleum industry, as these services do not fall under our core business.

Provisions in this bill will also set up a new trust account funded by the industry to operate the core and chip library currently run by the ministry. In addition, this trust account will finance research and information services for the industry and academic institutions.

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

The Acting Speaker (Ms Marilyn Churley): Questions or comments? Further debate?

Mr Michael A. Brown (Algoma-Manitoulin): I'm pleased to have the opportunity to make some comments, however brief, about the Aggregate and Petroleum Resources Statute Law Amendment Act.

The first thing is that I appreciate the ministry providing us with a briefing on this bill. We appreciated that very much. Having said that, I might say we have some concerns.

We have to understand, I think, that the aggregate business in Ontario is an important component of our economy. Some members of this Legislature may not know, but it is a fact that governments of one shape or another purchase 60% of the product that is provided by the aggregate industry. So the public has a huge stake in this industry and the cost of this industry and in the availability of the material from this industry.

We also know that aggregate pits or quarries are not what you would call universally acceptable in all neighbourhoods and they cause some concern among the citizens of this province that they are operated in a safe, environmentally friendly manner. I think that goes almost without saying.

As I come to this act, I know that my friends in the New Democratic Party will be very supportive of it, because of course it mirrors very closely the Crown Forest Sustainability Act that was presented by the New Democrats when they were the government, and therefore, probably the Liberal Party will be the only ones presenting much opposition to the idea of this self-regulation of an industry in the resource sector. That's maybe not totally correct, I see by the --

Interjections.

The Acting Speaker: Order, please.

Mr Michael Brown: Thank you for those comments, but I think what concerns us more than anything is the monitoring of this act. I think the idea of a trust is going to be applauded. I think the idea of a trust will work well for the industry and well for the people of Ontario. Members should also recognize that this is not a terribly old act. This act was amended last in 1989 or 1990 and therefore is not what you would call an outdated piece of legislation, so the idea in the introduction of a section that provides for a trust -- it's a more sensible way, in our view, of dealing with the moneys that need to flow in the industry to make sure that the rehabilitation and the permitting are done in a reasonable fashion.

We also believe that the self-monitoring by the particular businesses could work very well. We are aware that three pilot projects have been successfully completed and have worked in the interests of Ontario. I don't think anybody would disagree with that, but we have some concerns when it comes to the monitoring of the self-monitoring. Certainly, the public has a strong interest in this bill for a variety of reasons -- environmental, economic, governmental -- and we have a strong interest in making sure the government continues to be a player in the regulation of this business. The only way to do that is to see that the Ministry of Natural Resources has the ability -- which means people, it means offices, it means cars and trucks -- to monitor this particular industry in a meaningful way.

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Frankly, we are very suspicious that the ministry will not have the resources to do that. Why would I say that? I would say that because we have to put this bill in the context of what's going on in the Ministry of Natural Resources today. The Ministry of Natural Resources has lost and will lose 45% of its employees -- 45%. They will lose, by next year, half -- 50% -- of their funding. So I think members have every reason to be concerned that the resources for enforcing this act or any other act will not be available.

I want to say that today we're talking about catastrophic forest fires in the province of Ontario. The ministry decided to dumbsize. They decided to eliminate 17 forest fire attack bases. Their long-term eventual target -- and I don't think it's all that long-term -- is to close all fire attack bases.

We have 230,000 hectares of northwestern Ontario on fire. It seems to me that the dumbsizing, the downsizing of this part of the ministry, has a direct effect on the resource. I'm not blaming the minister for the weather, but it seems to me that if we'd had the resources, we would have been able to contain this problem in a far better way than we have been able to do so far.

So that members on the other side understand, on a 10-year average, 50,000 hectares are burned in forest fires in this province. That's 50,000 too many, but it's 50,000. We have 230,000 on fire right this minute, almost five times the average amount of hectares burned. That is a huge increase.

The minister may say that the downsizing of his operation is incidental to this, but frankly, who would believe that? No one would believe that. I'm saying to you that what the ministry does has a direct effect on the operations in this province. Whether it be in forest firefighting, whether it be in management of crown timber, whether it be in our provincial parks or whether it be in enforcing the aggregates act, it has a direct effect on our natural resources, has a direct effect on our economy, has a direct effect on our future and our children's future. This ministry is totally abdicating its responsibility to the people of Ontario to protect our interests, both short-term and long-term, and the evidence is before us in the smoke and the fire coming out of the northwest today.

We're told that the ministry is further going to decrease its expenditures until they are but half the expenditures that the ministry made just one year ago. You might be surprised at some of the things MNR is intending to do or, more correctly, not do.

We have a permitting system in this province that provides permits for various things that happen on lands. We have a permitting system that permits certain things to happen in the water. We have a permitting system that gives people permission to start fires for various reasons. Last year, there were 14,400 permits issued for land-based activities, 1,300 in lakes and rivers, and 46,000 for people setting fires.

The ministry is eliminating 80% of these permits. Most notable and most surprising to me is the elimination of most of the requirements for fire permits in this province. The ministry says, "That takes a lot of time to administer." I would ask the ministry, how many hectares of timber have to be burned, how much environmental degradation has to occur to make up for the lack and abdication of responsibility by the ministry to do something as basic as enforce reasonable fire regulations in this province?

It is extraordinary to me and it should be extraordinary to all members that the ministry, at a time it is eliminating 17 fire attack bases, is moving out of the forest fire prevention business. I think you should ponder that one and whether that makes sense, either in the sustainability of the resource or in the economics of the revolution. I suggest to you it has no possible relationship to any kind of fiscal sanity or environmental protection.

As we come to the Aggregate Resources Act, will those inspectors have the resources to monitor the situation in the aggregate industry? I'm quite sceptical; I don't think they will. The second part of the aggregates act, and the Minister of Natural Resources will totally agree with me on this, is but a shell; it mirrors the Crown Forest Sustainability Act in that it provides permission but does not outline exactly what the standards are.

When we were dealing with the Crown Forest Sustainability Act, as members around here would know, the opposition parties, those at the time being the Liberal Party and the Conservative Party, demanded and asked of the minister that before we entered public hearings on this bill we understand what those technical standards were, what the regulations would say, what Parliament was about to give sanction to.

The government of the day agreed. They said: "That makes sense. Those technical standards, those regulations, those manuals will be presented to the committee that will study this bill so that you as legislators can understand what you are approving." We got those. There were over 1,000 pages in the manuals; they stood this high on desks. We even got from the ministry the opportunity to review those manuals for a week or two before the committee started so that we actually knew that the standards the ministry was proposing were acceptable to Parliament, were acceptable to the people of Ontario. In this act, we are not going to know that unless the minister agrees to put forward those technical standards. Then perhaps the critics from the opposition will be able to say, "Yes, those particular standards make sense," or, "No, some of those standards are too low," or perhaps even, "No, that standard is unattainable and won't work."

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We are not going to have that opportunity. There will be no opportunity unless the minister agrees -- I see his parliamentary assistant nodding his head; he no doubt agrees that those technical standards will be available before we take this bill out to committee. To ask us to make any kind of judgement on a bill that is a bill of permission to a minister to make whatever regulation he may wish is asking a Parliament far too much. I know that the parliamentary assistant, who is a strong believer in democracy, would not want us to be out at committee talking about issues we're incapable of discussing intelligently because we don't have the factual information.

I suspect that in response to my little endeavour today the parliamentary assistant will leap to his feet and promise us in the opposition that those standards will be available to us, that we will have time to review them so that we can go out to committee -- I hope we do; I can think of areas that would really like to talk about this, particularly in the Caledon area, particularly in the Niagara Peninsula --

Mr Bruce Crozier (Essex South): Essex South.

Mr Michael Brown: -- Essex South and those areas around the greater Toronto area, particularly where there happens to be a great deal of activity in this industry, so that we can hear not only from the industry representatives, but from representatives in the community who may have other ideas about what the appropriate regulations might be.

We might also want to know from people at the public hearings, from environmental groups that may perhaps have different ideas about what the standards should be than the industry. That will be very hard to debate at committee. It will be very hard to make any kind of intelligent decision on behalf of the people of Ontario without having that information forward.

As a matter of fact, I suggest to the parliamentary assistant that one of the things he might want to do is to take some of the permissive parts of this bill away, once he has the regulations drawn for us to see, so that we might substitute the actual regulation in the legislation so that it cannot be changed by this government or another government or another government after that without the ability of the public to scrutinize it.

I think about this in a rather non-partisan way, because being a Liberal, I'm over here thinking about the Crown Forest Sustainability Act. I'm sure, as the Minister of Natural Resources at the time, Mr Hampton, took that bill through the Legislature and provided it with a huge amount of discretion, a huge amount of ministerial ability to redefine the bill almost at whim, he didn't suspect that the next Minister of Natural Resources would see that bill quite the way this one does.

Mr Frank Klees (York-Mackenzie): Think about it,

Mr Michael Brown: I don't think so. Probably, if Mr Hampton had to do it again -- I'm just speculating, and he's probably going to run in here and speak for himself -- maybe he would have reconsidered and put some of those regulations actually into the legislation. He may have wanted to do that, and I'm suggesting that is a wise idea. It is far better to have those standards in the legislation, because if they are in the legislation a change to those standards is not done in a cabinet room where no one else in the province knows about it generally until about six months after it's happened.

I'm surprised all the time by that, and I'm sure other members are. Somebody will be in the constituency at an event and somebody will say, "Did you know?" and I'll say, "No, gee, I didn't know." So we check sometimes with the critic from our party about that particular issue and they'll say, "Gee, I didn't know that." But boy, after making some inquiries and talking to the minister you'll find that a regulation got changed. Frankly, in this business, you'll find that regulations very often affect the public more than the actual legislation.

I'm saying to the parliamentary assistant, who I know is a strong believer in democracy, that for us to have the proper public view of this bill so that we can make intelligent decisions over here in opposition and the public can have its say, he will commit to putting these manuals and regulations out with the bill so that when we go to committee we'll know that and then he will make the commitment, because I'm sure I will want to take some of those regulations and move them into the actual legislation. I'm sure that no one over there can disagree with that.

The industry wants that to happen. The industry wants the rules to be up front. Environmental groups want the rules to be up front. They want to know what the rules are. They don't want somebody sitting in that cabinet room down there saying, "Gee, I don't like the way that worked," and with a flick of the pen it's gone and changed and nobody had any idea that it was happening or any idea that it was being changed. You usually find out that nobody in that cabinet room had any idea what the implication on the ground might be to this.

I'm just urging, pleading that the parliamentary assistant or the minister will leap up when I'm finished and say: "Yes, you're right. We should enshrine those regulations actually in the bill" --

Mrs Helen Johns (Huron): Just like the Liberals did when they were in power.

Mr Michael Brown: "Just like the Liberals did when they were in power," she says; thank you -- "and have them available for public scrutiny, not just for now, but for when we intend to change them, if in fact we do."

The second problem is we come to this whole notion of aggregates, an issue that can often be contentious in communities, often be contentious with municipalities, and we come to it in the context of Bill 20, the changes to the Planning Act.

Nobody really knows how that's going to work. Nobody really knows how that's going to play out. So we're going to have changes to the aggregates act and changes to land planning, and to top that off, we have a downsizing of the Ontario Municipal Board. Anybody I know who's been around the aggregates business knows you very often end up in front of the Ontario Municipal Board. That's unfortunate, but that's a fact of life. It seems to me, when you take this new approach to the aggregates act, combined with the new Planning Act, combined with the downsizing of the Ontario Municipal Board, the government could be in for some very nasty surprises, as we go across this province in the next few years, in having disputes between the aggregates industry and the local community. None of us wants to have that happen because, as I said before, governments are the largest purchasers of the product.

As a boy from Sarnia, I am interested also in the changes to the Petroleum Resources Act. Anybody who spent his younger days tramping around Lambton, Kent and those counties that produce a fair bit of petroleum knows that this is an important industry to our province and that it is an important component of the local economies. As we go through this part of the bill, I am very much looking forward to the industry coming forward and providing us with their views and the local communities giving us their views because frankly, while superficially it looks to the uninformed as if this may not be a bad idea, I would be looking for the industry and the local communities to come before us and say to us, "My goodness, this is" either "good," "bad" or, "This should be changed," or "That should be changed."

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I hope that when the parliamentary assistant gets up to respond to this he also indicates to us how the aggregates act is going to work in the Crown Forest Sustainability Act, because there's a great problem and has been a great problem over time with permitting of aggregates. We build hundreds of kilometres of roads a year in the logging and timbering business, and that requires a great deal of aggregate from mostly local pits. It has been a frustration to people in the industry that those permits were sometimes a little bit difficult to obtain, that the ministry personnel weren't available when they should be available, that there was some difficulty just from a logistical standpoint with dealing with the roadbuilding.

I understand that through the forest sustainability act there will be more of an outcome-based approach to this and that many of these permits may not be needed, but I wonder, as I look around at MNR area and district offices that are being totally gutted throughout northern Ontario -- some of them are even disappearing, let alone gutted -- how it is that the people in the industry will get either advice on how to do things correctly, which they generally look for -- and they've had long relationships with many of the offices in providing advice on how to do that, because they're primarily loggers; they're not primarily aggregate producers, and they want to do things the proper way and they really do need the ministry to be there so that they can get some advice.

They are not the huge aggregate producers of southern Ontario; these are fellows and women who are out in the forest trying to harvest Ontario's natural resources and do it in a responsible, sustainable way, but they're not experts at the aggregate business. Often, I know through my own experience, they have needed the assistance of MNR personnel to make sure that they did it the proper way. It was a cooperative effort; it was not a confrontational one; it was one where good advice could be given by local offices to local people on how to achieve the best result for both the economy and the environment.

I look at Espanola. They went from 38 employees to 17. Someone might believe that office will be able to provide adequate service, but I haven't found one. I have not found one. I have attended that office and talked to the people who work there; I've talked to people in the industry who rely on them; I've talked to people in the angling and hunting fraternity; I've talked to all -- I guess I probably haven't talked to them all, but I've talked to quite a number of people who rely on the services of the Ministry of Natural Resources, and they're dumfounded by a decision like that. They see government just totally evaporating, as if government does not need to be there.

The impact on towns like Espanola, or Blind River, which was even more devastated --

Ms Shelley Martel (Sudbury East): Temagami.

Mr Michael Brown: Temagami is gone. It is going to be very difficult for those people to deal with resource management in an effective way because they relied on the advice and direction and assistance of those people in the Ministry of Natural Resources to help them, and they did. They are well-respected; the ministry people are well-respected in those communities. Those services will no longer be available. I'm even told, and you might find this hard to believe, that at the area offices, if you try to come in off the street, perhaps to fill in an application for a moose tag or to ask about some forestry project you're interested in, you won't get through the door because they're going to lock it. There will be people working in there, but they will not deal with the public because with this government you've got to have an 800 number or you just can't operate. They will call somebody somewhere about something and talk to the voice mail -- I hope we get appropriate music for this, it's going to have to be quite long. But the 800-line solution to places like Espanola and Blind River, Temagami, Chapleau, any of those communities, is not going to be a solution that works. I want the parliamentary assistant to tell me, when you're dealing with people in the forest industry who will be dealing with aggregates, because that's the nature of their business, but they're not experts, how they are going to do this.

I think the big companies will probably be able to handle it just fine because they have the staff, they have the expertise, but when we are talking to the small, independent logger along the North Shore of Lake Huron, for example, he'd like some advice. Frankly, I'm not sure he's going to get it. And who will be in trouble? It'll be him but it'll also be the environment, it'll also be the economy. That's who's going to be in trouble.

The parliamentary assistant, along that line -- I digress slightly, but I want to talk about the independent loggers along the North Shore of Lake Huron. You know, there's quite a number. They're in the lower Spanish and the Mississagi crown land units. Those fellows and women are really concerned with how the Crown Forest Sustainability Act is going to impact them. I phoned and talked to the ministry about it, because they come to see me. They said: "I don't know how this is going to work. How are we going to manage this when there's six or seven of us out in the same specific area? How are we going to do that?" I said: "Well, gee, I don't know. Let's get the ministry to help us."

Over in the Mississagi unit I think there are 19 or 20 contractors within a relatively small area. I wanted to know how this would be dealt with. How are you going to form this co-op company? How are you going to do that? I called the office, talked to the Espanola area people and they said, "Well, gee, Mr Brown, I'd like to go out and talk to them too, but I don't know what to tell them because nobody has decided yet."

So I went to the minister and I said: "You know what you got to do here, Chris, you've got to have somebody come up and let's have a meeting, let's get everybody in the area right from Sault Ste Marie through to Sudbury. Let's get them all in the same room at the same time so they can be told the same story, so there'll be no problem with communication, and let's talk about this." That will allay your fears, hopefully; we'll find a solution, hopefully; we'll be able to deal with this act, hopefully. But you know, I've got a bunch of commitments, but I haven't seen anybody yet.

I haven't been able to say to those loggers we're going to have a meeting on Saturday or we're going to have a meeting three weeks from Saturday. I haven't been able to arrange the meeting. My goodness, if you can't do that, how are you going to deal with the aggregates that are in the forest units? How are you going to give them advice? Because they should know.

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The parliamentary assistant would know that the planning will likely cost for a crown unit about $300,000. That's the estimate that I'm getting, $300,000 that these independent loggers aren't paying right at the moment. They might now because we passed Bill 36 just a bit ago, but at the moment, they're not doing that. So we're going to add this user fee of about $300,000 split among them in some fashion for this service that they did not have to pay for before. Welcome to user-fee Ontario. They're going to have to do that and they're not going to get assistance with how to deal with aggregates.

I look over at some of the northern members and I know -- they're nodding -- they know the real world out there is the world I'm talking about and that you can't do it with half the staff you used to have. It can't be done. Sure, there can be efficiencies. Nobody's saying there can't be efficiencies. Nobody's even saying, at least I'm not saying, that this aggregates act is the wrong direction, but what I am saying is, we don't know whether it's the wrong direction or not because you haven't supplied us with the information. I'm looking forward to the parliamentary assistant committing to having the regulations and the manuals here or, even better, providing us with a list of amendments to the act itself that spells out those technical standards so that we, as parliamentarians, can make a reasonable judgement.

I look over on the Tory benches and I know there are lot of people here from rural Ontario. There aren't a heck of a lot of gravel pits in downtown Toronto.

Mr Klees: There were.

Mr Michael Brown: Yes there were, but there aren't now. The problem with the aggregates industry, is generally speaking, a rural phenomenon. I remember Ian Scott. He could never understand the dump questions around here. Ian would say: "Boy, why do I care? My constituents don't care whether you put it in Caledon or you put it out in Durham, or where you put it. We don't have any dumps in Toronto, so it's not a problem." We're finding out there are a few around here now that nobody seemed to know about, but it's the same thing. City folk, because they don't deal with this issue, don't understand it perhaps as intimately as those people out in the aggregate-producing areas of the province will.

As we speak, as we go along and review this bill more carefully, I would suggest that the problem the opposition is having basically is this information gap, the gap between what this bill really means and what it says. And that's fair enough. I understand that it takes time to work out the regulations, but we're going to have them before the committee hearings. When we get that we can make a reasonable judgement and maybe we'll be supportive. But the bigger problem is we don't believe the ministry is going to be able to enforce their own regulations in their own act. Even if we get a set of regulations that look reasonable to us, protect the environment, are workable by the industry, we have no assurance whatever that this ministry has any chance of actually administering this piece of legislation.

Mr Klees: Oh, come on.

Mr Michael Brown: The parliamentary assistant says, "Oh, come on."

Half the budget, only 55% of the employees, and you think you can do everything you used to do as well as you used to do it. Well, good luck. The forest fire story tells it all. It doesn't work and in the dumbsizing you are going through, you're going to cost the people of Ontario a lot of dollars.

With that, I think I'll conclude these brief remarks. I'll continue to be involved in the discussion. I look forward to the committee hearings and I look forward to a commitment from the government that we will not proceed through the committee stage until the technical data, the regulations, are supplied to the opposition. That is the precedent we have set here dealing with self-regulation bills in terms of the Crown Forest Sustainability Act and I think those great democrats across the floor would believe it is only reasonable to supply those.

Thank you very much for this opportunity, Madam Speaker. I had neglected to ask for unanimous consent for my colleague to take the rest of my time as critic. Would that be acceptable to the House?

The Acting Speaker: Is that agreed, that the Liberals split the lead-off time? Agreed.

Mr James J. Bradley (St Catharines): Thank you very much for that consent. I won't be overly long, because I know there are members of the New Democratic Party who wish to address this bill as well, and I know I'll have briefing notes by the time I get started on this bill.

It is a very significant bill, quite obviously. It is one which deals with aggregates. I know that. The reason I have an interest in aggregates is because I have a great interest in the Niagara Escarpment Commission. There are a lot of aggregates in the Niagara Escarpment. We have, as environmentalists, been endeavouring to protect the Niagara Escarpment, those of us who are concerned about the environment.

Mr Chris Stockwell (Etobicoke West): What do you mean "we as environmentalists"?

Mr Bradley: I'm sure that includes the member for Etobicoke West. I'm sure he's a strong environmentalist. His environmental credentials have not been questioned by his fellow member from Rexdale, so I know he must be a strong environmentalist.

I worry when I see Bill 52, the MNR aggregate and petroleum resources act, introduced in the Legislature.

I see the member for Wentworth East is here today. There's a matter of great controversy in his riding. I think it's his riding. It's the Stoney Creek area along the escarpment.

There's always a problem with aggregates. We have one problem or one challenge, and that is to get the material we need to build roads. So we do need aggregate material. But second, we want to preserve certain areas of the province and not see the aggregate used from that specific area.

I recall a number of years ago being at an environment ministers' conference where we were going from Calgary, I guess it was, to Banff. I'd never been in that part of the country before. It was a very attractive part of the country, and I found many of the areas to be attractive to tourists and simply to the human eye. However, I noticed they were allowing the mining of aggregate along some of the most beautiful areas in the province of Alberta, and I couldn't believe it. I asked the environment minister from Alberta at the time, who later became Deputy Premier and then was, I think, dropped from the cabinet or something of that nature -- that doesn't matter -- why they would allow this in this area, particularly with tourists being attracted to that area. He said, "We need aggregate for roadbuilding purposes and other such purposes." I thought that was a mistake in terms of using that particular area to obtain that material.

Bill 52 is obviously part of this government's wider effort to shift responsibility for direct program delivery to industry. This is similar to the Crown Forest Sustainability Act and to the Ministry of Consumer and Commercial Relations' recently introduced Safety and Consumer Statutes Administration Act. The bill proposes that the province's aggregate and petroleum industries now be responsible for day-to-day site inspections and monitoring, with the government's role restricted to establishing minimum standards, issuing permits and enforcement. The bill will also allow the government to use private inspectors who are certified by the ministry.

I'm one who doesn't agree with that approach, not simply because this government is adopting it. I supported the other approach because I think it is a superior approach. I don't think you can put Colonel Sanders in charge of the chicken coop. You can't do that, because Colonel Sanders, the late Colonel Sanders now -- the successor to Colonel Sanders was a person who wanted to obtain chickens for the purpose of cooking them for human consumption. That's what I'm informed anyway.

In this case, we have the industry being put in charge of itself. In other words, both the aggregate and petroleum industries will now be responsible for day-to-day site inspections and monitoring. I think an independent source, an independent organization, in this case the government, would do a better job than leaving that to those in the business. I say that for two reasons --

Mr Stockwell: Sounds to me like you're speaking and learning about this at the same time.

Mr Bradley: The member for Etobicoke West is quite right in assuming he has a lot to learn about this. I thought that's what he said. He said it was a learning process, and I assume, since he wasn't in his own seat, that he was trying to become educated on this by the member for Muskoka-Georgian Bay.

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We have the Niagara Escarpment along our area, and I'm very proud of the Niagara Escarpment. I think it's been very helpful to tourism, I think it's aesthetically beautiful, and I resent the assaults on the Niagara Escarpment that have taken place over the years. I've said on many occasions in this House that the member for Carleton, the Minister of Consumer and Commercial Relations, was responsible for establishing, or at least the minister responsible at the time the Progressive Conservative government of William Davis established, the Niagara Escarpment Commission.

One of the concerns was that there would be quarrying taking place, aggregate being removed in places where most people thought that should not happen. Again I go back to the fact that some of the operators have done a good job over the years. They are providing a service. But I think we have to be very cautious when we allow that kind of development -- and I call that "development" because it's a mining development -- in areas that should be protected along the escarpment.

I know that industry associations have been consulted on the bill, but other groups have not been included, and this seems to be a pattern that we're seeing with the government. With all these deregulation bills, with all of the bills that seem to be slanting the government towards industry as opposed to the consumer, we see some consultation with the industries affected but not consultations with the public at large or with consumers or those who might be adversely impacted.

Some of my friends who are on the other side of the House who represent the Halton area know there has been some controversy with potential aggregate activity along the Niagara Escarpment there, and of course potentially the use of a landfill site along that area once it is completed in terms of its use as a quarry.

In general, the industry associations, such as the Aggregate Producers' Association of Ontario and the Canadian Association of Petroleum Producers, support the legislation, and that is certainly no surprise to me. Environmental groups, however, are concerned that the proposed minimum standards, which by the way are not included in the act and will instead be set out in regulations, will be too weak. In addition, they are concerned that the recent Ministry of Natural Resources layoffs will leave too few ministry staff to enforce the new standards. OPSEU is opposed to the hiring of private inspectors to replace ministry staff, and I certainly understand their concerns in trying to represent their employees.

But I want to look at the previous concerns that were expressed; first of all, that the minimum standards are not included in the act. One of the problems we have with legislation in this House is that the dynamite is actually in the regulations and not in the act. It's one thing to pass legislation to have some half-baked promise from the government that the regulations will be satisfactory to perhaps the environmental community, but to the community at large, and that the consumer or the environment will be protected, but it would be superior and easier to support legislation if one could see those regulations before dealing with the legislation.

We had the same problem, of course, with the Planning Act changes. People said: "You have to have faith. You have to know that the policy statements that we're going to have that go along with the changes to the Planning Act will be strong enough; they will satisfy you. You will see that they will serve the purpose of protecting the environment and environmentally sensitive areas and good planning processes." Unfortunately, we did not see those regulations or those policy statements before the legislation was passed. As a result -- well, we voted against the legislation.

You might find sometimes -- I'm not saying with that bill -- that if the government were to show us the specific regulations up front, you may find in that case that the opposition and the public would feel more at ease with the legislation. But we are suspicious that those regulations will be weakened, because the entire thrust of the government is to please the business community. While all of us want to see a strong and thriving business community, we also want to see development in the province being of the sustainable brand and not of the unsustainable type.

Second, there is a concern, and this is happening throughout the government -- everybody thinks this can be done and there are no consequences, but when you lose staff, you lose the people who carry out the responsibilities that were there previously. With the Ministry of Natural Resources layoffs, I believe, as others have expressed the concern, that there will be too few ministry employees to enforce the new standards. The ministry employees are there to protect the public at large, the people of the province, and I think people had faith in that. They didn't always please the people who were being inspected, but I think the public felt somewhat at ease with those people on the scene.

New technical standards will be created to regulate the province's aggregates industry. That's interesting to see. We don't know what the consequences of that will be at this time. Similar to the Crown Forest Sustainability Act, an aggregates trust fund will be established to pool annual licence fees and provide for rehabilitation where permits have been revoked as a result of bankruptcy or default. The fund will be administered by the industry.

Again, I would prefer to see that fund administered by the Ministry of Natural Resources, but I think the existence of the fund is positive, because we must have that money available should there be the consequences or the circumstances I previously described.

In regard to the petroleum and brine industries regulation, the new standards will be developed to regulate the industry. Again, we'd like to see what those standards are. We are told they will be based on the Canadian Standards Association standard for hydrocarbon storage. We hope they will be of the strongest type, because Ontario, in years gone by, has been a leader across this country in this regard.

It mentions as well that a new trust fund funded by industry will pay for the continued operation of the geological core and chip library, which provides information and research services to the industry and academic institutions. That's a positive part of the legislation, in my belief.

Maximum fines for offences under the Petroleum Resources Act are increased from $10,000 to $500,000 and the time period for initiating prosecution is extended. I think that's a step forward. However, I found when I was Minister of the Environment that the most compelling argument that could be made to have companies live up to their obligations was to make directors of the companies responsible for the activities of the company. When it says in the legislation that the director may go to jail -- not that you want to line up directors and put them in jail; that's the last thing you want -- when it said the most serious consequence would be a jail term for a director and an obligation on that director, one found that the industry moved quickly and comprehensively to deal with environmental problems. I think it would be superior if that were contained in this legislation.

But $500,000 -- half a million dollars, to put it in higher-sounding terms -- is better than $10,000. I still think the fines could be higher, but that's perhaps a matter that would be best argued by the lawyers.

The annual production and rig licences will be replaced by a life-cycle well licence, covering the entire lifespan of a well. I would hope that wouldn't mean there wouldn't be inspection and observation of the company, which one might have anticipated would have happened with the yearly licence renewal.

I look at this and I understand it's the government's philosophy, so I'm not saying you're being inconsistent with your philosophy. You believe business should be able to regulate itself, that government should get out of the way of business. I think there are some places where that's true. There are some aspects of the legislation that are supportable and we will look forward to seeing them implemented, but I see the general thrust as being not particularly helpful in terms of turning over the responsibility to the industry itself. I don't think it's fair to expect industry to be tough on itself, and I don't think you're going to see that happen as much as it would if the government, or the Ministry of Natural Resources in this case, were in charge.

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In terms of the Niagara Escarpment, I had a newspaper article earlier, which I won't be able to find -- oh, I have -- that talks about the Niagara Escarpment and some of the problems existing there. It's not only aggregates that are a threat to the escarpment; it is also other forms of development.

I notice in the St Catharines area, actually the town of Lincoln, "The Niagara Escarpment Commission is urging a provincial cabinet minister" -- that would be Ms Elliott, the Minister of Environment and Energy -- "to reject a proposed subdivision on escarpment lands in Lincoln." Just as sometimes aggregates activities are not desirable in certain areas of the escarpment, so are subdivisions sometimes not reasonable.

"The commission has sent a three-page brief to Environment and Energy Minister Brenda Elliott this week throwing its support behind a provincial hearing officer's decision to reject the proposed Twenty Valley Estates. The hearing officer, John McClelland, released his decision late last month after reviewing three days of testimony for and against the planned 22-home subdivision near Jordan last February. The commission told Ms Elliott this week that it supports Mr McClelland's conclusions that the 27-hectare" -- or as I still say, 67-acre development -- "would have a negative impact on the escarpment environment and surrounding agricultural activities."

Ms Elliott and her cabinet colleagues have not established a deadline for dealing with this, but I hope they would. Naturally the town of Lincoln and the regional municipality of Niagara support it. Surprise, surprise: a municipality supporting development.

As I say, there are places that have to be used for aggregates. I can't deny that. It's needed. You can't say, on one hand, "We don't want any aggregates activities taking place, any mining of aggregates taking place anywhere in Ontario," and then expect, for instance, that you're going to build roads. That's not realistic. But I think choosing the right place and operating the quarrying activities under appropriate regulations and provincial inspection would be superior.

Similarly with the petroleum association: I must give credit to the Canadian Petroleum Association in one regard, and that was with the municipal industrial strategy for abatement program, under the auspices of the Ministry of the Environment. The first to come on line and one of the most cooperative sectors was the petroleum sector, which had already done extensive monitoring on its own.

The member for Sudbury East awaits an opportunity to speak on this matter. I used to live in Sudbury at one time, so I know there are far more rocks in Sudbury than there are in southern Ontario. In fact, many of the streets there used to end in what we would call -- we wouldn't call them mountains -- hills. So they may be dealing with a different circumstance there.

In southern Ontario, though, I suspect most people would like to see the escarpment retained for present purposes. They worry about the effect on groundwater of quarrying activities. I mention this with the petroleum industry, for instance, in terms of how important it is. I was flabbergasted the other day to learn what the effect would be of one or two drops of petroleum in a waterway and how that spreads throughout a waterway. It takes very little to contaminate a specific waterway, particularly if it's one that isn't flowing but, rather, one that is still. Whatever we can do to ensure the safe handling of petroleum products, the safe storage of petroleum products, is going to be beneficial to those of us in this province.

I lament again the loss of so many in the Ministry of Natural Resources and the Ministry of Environment and Energy who used to undertake supervisory activities, inspection activities and monitoring activities. I think this bill really is necessitated by the fact that the government is annihilating those ministries by removing so many of the staff and taking away so many of the resources.

I look with suspicion upon this. I worry when you turn over the forests of this province to what somebody referred to the other day as the lumber barons -- I don't know if that's a word you use. But the lumbering companies, particularly the larger lumbering companies in the province, may do a good job but I think we're in much safer hands when the Ministry of Natural Resources is in charge of regeneration or at least the supervision of regeneration. Similarly with the restoration that must take place when the coring activities are finished, I think it would be advantageous to have a very strong role played by the Ministry of Natural Resources.

In a general sense I plead with government at all levels, not simply this government, to expose to the public, to members of the opposition and to their own members the regulations that accompany all legislation rather than simply wait for them to be developed later. Members will find, and I have found in my experience, that often the spirit of legislation is almost defeated by the specifics: the regulations that are passed through cabinet and enacted by cabinet to accompany the legislation.

I recall the famous spills bill which was passed in 1979 by the Legislature and never proclaimed into law by the Conservative government because they never agreed with it. It was an environmental protection bill. Finally in 1985, when the Liberal government took over, in a very short time the spills bill was proclaimed and put into effect, but part of that involved hearings around the province on the regulations. One concern I heard expressed to me was, "If you proclaim the spills bill, wouldn't it be nice if everybody in the province knew what the regulations were." I thought that was a fair comment on the part of industry and consumers and environmentalists, and as a result I had hearings conducted around the province where people could have input on the regulations; not on the legislation -- it had already passed -- but on the regulations.

I think it would be superior for all members of the Legislature if that happened. It would give the government backbenchers more to do than clap when ministers get up and laugh at the Premier's jokes and vote the right way in committee. I really think that government backbenchers are people who are underutilized. That doesn't mean everybody who sits on the back bench, but I think they're underutilized talent in the Legislature. If you were allowed to deal with regulations in committee and were not given orders by the boss on how to vote but really allowed to use your own background expertise, I think we could have superior regulations developed.

I simply wish that everybody would be free in committee -- almost freed, at least -- of political considerations, opposition and government, so you could come up with reasonable regulations and even some good changes to legislation. Unfortunately, the way the system works is that the government, whoever it is, puts pressure on its own members to vote a certain way in committee and the opposition feels that if the government has voted that way, it must be wrong, so they vote against it. I think it would superior if both were to place in the background their political considerations so we could gain the expertise.

I noticed the other day that a number of members of the government are insurance men, and women maybe, and a lot of lawyers and small business people who I think have some talents that could be used in legislation. I remember the member for Middlesex, who was a London planner, sat on the committee dealing with the Planning Act and he had to sit there silently the whole time because obviously somebody had told him he couldn't speak out. I was trying to get from him, with his expertise as a planner, whether the changes to the act were reasonable in certain areas, and either he felt they weren't and didn't want to say anything or he just didn't want to say anything; I can't make that judgement. I just thought we could have used that talent.

I'm not a planner. I've been on a city council and I've listened to planners, I've been a minister and I've listened to planners, but here was a person who is a professional planner, who dealt on a day-to-day basis with planning activities -- he's in the House today -- and I was not getting the benefit of his expertise. I thought with the individual clause-by-clause provisions of the bill -- not the principle; the government has the right to put forward whatever principle it wants -- but with clause-by-clause consideration, here was a gentleman who was obviously expert in the field and we couldn't hear what he thought were the practical considerations. I think we lose when we can't have people doing that.

I wouldn't hold the government to it -- it's his opinion -- but that's how we can use the talent of members of this Legislature. Instead, we draw the partisan lines, and I think we lose an awful lot by that.

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That's why, instead of going to a regulations committee of cabinet with perhaps a couple of non-cabinet people on it, I think regulations going to a full committee all the time, with authority to make some changes, perhaps conduct some hearings, would be very useful, because what you're going to find with this legislation is that yes, certain things are contained within the provisions of the bill, but the real dynamite will be contained within the regulations themselves.

The critic in the area, the member for Algoma-Manitoulin, who is far more expert than I, has outlined his concerns and his affirmations about certain parts of the bill, and I certainly concur with that. I look forward to the hearings which I presume will be held, some of them perhaps in the Niagara Peninsula so that people along the Niagara Escarpment can have their input. I hope some of them might be held in Halton, for instance, and perhaps other areas where this is a controversial matter, so that the public can have input, and even more important than that, not only that the public can have input but that the government will listen to that input and make any changes that can accommodate the concerns expressed by those individuals.

I promised I would not take the full time allocated to the official opposition in this case, and I look forward with anticipation to listening to the member for Sudbury East, who I think is going to be next in this debate, as she has some considerable expertise in this field and I'm sure will be every bit as objective as I in her evaluation of this legislation.

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

Mr Len Wood (Cochrane North): This piece of legislation has been covered by both Liberal members who spoke on it. It is a piece of legislation that was brought forward as a result of the decision made by Mike Harris and Chris Hodgson to gut the Ministry of Natural Resources and lay off 30% or 40% of the employees --

Interjection: It's 45%.

Mr Len Wood: -- 45% of the employees and shut down government offices all over the place. Just in the town of Cochrane, they've shut down the regional office, and anything that was happening out of there, they've moved it to Timmins. They've laid off people in Hearst, Cochrane, Kapuskasing, the whole area right along Highway 11.

As a result, they do not have the people they need to monitor what the forest companies are doing or what the aggregate companies are doing. All of this is part of the game that is being played to make sure that you, Mr Speaker, and I and other people get a 30% tax cut. Part of it is going to start on July 1, but as a result, they've turned over the control and the regulation of the aggregate industry and the forest industry to the private companies. Nobody in Ontario is going to know what is happening out there, where the holes are being dug, where the gravel is coming from. We're going to have a complete mess right throughout northern Ontario, and even in southern Ontario, I understand, the Niagara Escarpment. Nobody's going to be monitoring these areas, so we're going to have a complete destruction of the resources.

The aggregate is non-renewable, so once they've used them and dug holes all over the place, then the damage is done. As far as forestry is concerned, there's nobody out there to monitor it, so we don't know what's going to happen until eight, 10, 15 years down the road when we find out that the damage has been done and it's all been done as a result of Mike Harris and Chris Hodgson deciding that they're going to gut the Ministry of Natural Resources, turn everything over to the private sector and give a tax break to the people of Ontario which people don't want when this is happening.

Mr Klees: It's always a pleasure to follow up on the member for Cochrane North, who has the uncanny ability of compressing a minimum of thought into a maximum of time. But I'm pleased to respond to the member for Algoma-Manitoulin as well as the member for St Catharines for their contribution to this debate.

The member for Algoma-Manitoulin is right, and that is that I do care very much for the democratic process. What I find interesting, though, is that on the one hand he argues that we should be concerned about the democratic process, and on the other hand, he argues that the regulations should be preset before we go to the stakeholders, before we go to the public. I want to assure the honourable member that this government, this ministry, particularly with regard to this piece of legislation, will not do that. What we will do is be responsive to the democratic process. We have committed to the stakeholders who would be affected by this legislation that we would consult with them, that we would meet with them, that we would talk with them about what the regulations should be containing and to ensure that there are high standards, to ensure this is an effective piece of legislation.

In the final analysis, the members from Algoma-Manitoulin and St Catharines would agree that this will be in the best interests of all concerned and that together we want to work to ensure that this province has legislation that is workable, that works from the standpoint of the industry, that works from the standpoint of government. We truly are going to work together to ensure that we have an effective piece of legislation here.

Mr Crozier: I too want to add my comments to those of my colleagues from Algoma-Manitoulin and St Catharines. In the great southwest, in the Sun Parlour of Canada, Essex county, we have several areas of aggregate producers. The industry flourishes there. In the Amherstsburg-Anderdon-Malden area, in the Leamington-Mersea area and on Pelee Island, we have responsible business people who produce aggregate for use down our way.

I can think of no better way to use the aggregate they produce in a responsible way than to have the Minister of Transportation approve the completion of the Highway 3 bypass so we can then get all that great produce we have, the vegetables and tomatoes and the processed vegetables, out to the market. I would encourage always the use of our natural resources in a responsible way and I can think of no more responsible way than the completion of the Highway 3 bypass.

Ms Martel: In response to the comments made by the member for Algoma-Manitoulin, let me tell him that he shouldn't be surprised that the parliamentary assistant has just in this House said that the government will not put before this House and put before members who will be on the committee the technical standards which are at the heart of this bill.

As we operate now, we operate in a vacuum, because all the technical standards that the aggregate industry is to operate by have not yet been developed and therefore the public, during public hearings, cannot come and make a comment on that. The member for Algoma-Manitoulin shouldn't be surprised, because the government House leader made it very clear to our House leader that the government wanted this bill passed before this session ended, public hearings and all. So there is no room here for public hearing, for input from the public about some very legitimate concerns.

I would also say to the member, and I'm sure he'll agree with me, that the stakeholders in this case are not only the representatives from the aggregate industry. People in the environmental community have some serious concerns about the changes being proposed here. Those folks have to be involved in the process of developing the technical standards the aggregate industry will have to live by. Those folks should have a chance before the public hearings even start to be involved in the development of the same, so that they're involved at the front end of the process instead of being told, when the bill is passed and the regulations are passed: "Here it is. Now you live with it."

One final thing, and this is a point from the member for Algoma-Manitoulin that I agree with entirely. The crux of the matter here for us as opposition members is that the Ministry of Natural Resources will not be able to monitor compliance. That is the beginning and the end of the discussion. When you lay off half the staff, as the Minister of Natural Resources has done in this province, it will be impossible to monitor compliance in this industry. We have no better proof of what happens in a negative way than what we are seeing now in the forestry industry and the forest fires which are plaguing this province because of the closures of all those MNR --

The Acting Speaker: Thank you. Your time has expired. The member for Algoma-Manitoulin, you have two minutes to reply.

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Mr Michael Brown: I appreciate the comments from the members for Essex South, Cochrane North, Sudbury East and York-Mackenzie. I thought the member for York-Mackenzie, when he stood up, would talk about slot machines or extended drinking hours. I was shocked when he didn't speak to those. I think he misunderstands the democratic process in a way that would indicate he doesn't have a heck of a lot of respect for this place.

The idea that a government could not put regulations out for public discussion is just absurd. It is absolutely the most absurd thing I think I have heard here. It is the opportunity for people to come and speak to a specific. This is just a big ball of air without those technical standards that we demand to see. I know the industry wants to see them so that when they come to committee, they can discuss them intelligently, can say, "This makes sense," or "No, it doesn't make sense," and they will have a public venue to do that. Other groups in the community would want to see them.

There is no reason; there is precedent. The only other bill I remember that attacks an issue in this way was the Crown Forest Sustainability Act. They were produced, and when they were produced, it caused those regulations, at least some of them, to be modified to fit what the industry, what the environmental groups had to say at committee.

Let's see them. Why not see them? The only reason you don't want to show them to us is because you don't know what they are. Let's see them. What have you got to hide?

The Acting Speaker: Further debate?

Ms Martel: As I begin my remarks today, let me say at the outset that neither myself nor the members of my caucus will be supporting Bill 52. I don't think that comes as any surprise to any member in this House, given the criticisms I raised with the minister himself when he announced this bill in this House on May 14. At that time, I made it very clear that this followed a pattern by this government -- it certainly follows a pattern by this minister -- of abdicating all responsibility for the protection and the maintenance of natural resources in this province and that we would not support it because of that.

Second, far be it from the minister to try to assure the House that the remaining staff at the ministry will be in a position to monitor compliance, when he knows and all of us in the opposition know that as a consequence of the cuts to his ministry to finance the big tax break, almost one-half of the full-time equivalents in his ministry are going out the door and more than 900 of those staff, OPSEU members alone, received their pink slips about three weeks ago.

We find ourselves in a position that my party and myself have a fundamental difference of opinion with this Conservative government when it comes to the issue in terms of philosophy and direction that the government is taking as it respects natural resources in the province. Simply put, it is my view that this government sees itself as having absolutely no responsibility when it comes to the protection and the maintenance of natural resources in the province of Ontario.

The government does not believe that the crown has any role at all in ensuring that natural resources, which belong to all the people of the province, are going to be used not only for the people who work in the various industries that use the resources now, but will be in place for their children and their children's children. Whether we are talking about timber resources, whether we are talking about fish and wildlife resources, whether we are talking about provincial parks as a resource -- and they are, in Ontario -- or whether now in the context of this bill we are talking about the aggregate resources of the province and the petroleum resources of the province, the fact of the matter is that the government truly believes, for a reason that I just cannot fathom, that the industry itself, and by itself, will effectively utilize those resources and the government at no point in time will ever have to intervene to ensure that the practices being used by the industry are sustainable and environmentally sound and will guarantee jobs not only for people working in those industries now, but for those people's children and their children's children.

It is that philosophy, which I fundamentally disagree with, that leads the government to choose a direction which in essence offloads all of the government's and the crown's responsibility when it comes to protecting and maintaining natural resources. It offloads those responsibilities on to the very group that is going to exploit those resources: the industry itself.

Having been a Minister of Northern Development and Mines, I can say that for the most part the people whom I dealt with as minister of mines did care about the environment and were prepared to work with the rules and regulations in the province of Ontario the way they were supposed to. But, you know, there were those people who couldn't have cared less about the rules and the regulations that had been put in place or a reason in this province: to ensure that the exploitation of the resource was done in an environmentally sound way and in a safe way for workers. It was those people who were far more interested in how much money they could make in the province exploiting the resource than they were about ensuring that the resource could be used for a long time in the future so that many people would experience those benefits, both monetary and otherwise.

My concern with this bill is the same concern that I have with the business plan that has been given to this House, presented by the Minister of Natural Resources. It is that the government, with its philosophy of having no responsibility whatsoever in protecting the resource, now presents a direction which essentially says the industry will regulate itself, and the only role of the crown and of the government and of the Minister of Natural Resources is somehow to determine and set what those standards will be which people have to operate by. That seems to be the only role that government now has.

While the minister tried to say in his announcement in this House that one of the core businesses of the ministry will in fact be to develop those standards, and by the way one of the other core businesses will be to monitor compliance of those standards, the minister can't fool anyone with that kind of rhetoric. You cannot lay off almost half of the full-time staff in your ministry and expect to do the same as you did before. We're going to do less for less in the province of Ontario, and when we do less for less when it comes to natural resources, it means that we put resources that belong to everyone at risk, and we put the jobs associated with those resources at risk, and we put the economies of a number of communities, especially in northern Ontario, at risk as well.

1730

But that is what appears to be the new direction of this Conservative government. The minister is quite upfront about that new direction. If I take a look at the business plan itself from the Ministry of Natural Resources, it says the following with respect to the forestry industry: "What responsibilities is MNR transferring to clients and partners?" And the answer is that "MNR plans to transfer a number of responsibilities, along with the cost, to clients and partners. These will be activities that are appropriate for the private sector or others to assume." The transfers include the following: firstly, forest management planning; secondly, forest operations, including harvest, renewal, funding for renewal, collecting forest information, some aspects of operational science, assessing and reporting and self-compliance as part of a new MNR compliance strategy, a greater role for municipalities in determining natural resource values as part of municipal planning.

It's very clear what's going to happen in the forest industry as a result of the business plan. As I raised in this House when I spoke on Bill 36, my concern is that as you do that and as some of the bad actors start to disregard all the rules because their first interest is in making a profit and not operating in an environmentally sound and ecologically sound way, the people who suffer in the end are the people who work in those industries, the men and women who rely on the sale of forest products to bring home their own livelihoods. Because what will happen -- I am convinced of it -- is that the environmental groups who watch the practices in this province disappear or be degraded will be the first out there trying to convince people who purchase our forestry products not to buy from Ontario, just as they tried to do with MacMillan Bloedel in BC.

That continues to be my concern with the bill that is before us, because the bill that is before us contains the same kind of rhetoric and the same kind of stated policies, which is the new direction which I outlined. Very specifically, in the statement the minister made in this House on May 14, he said the following: "[O]ur government has pledged to change the way government works by providing better services at a price the taxpayer can afford.... We will shift more responsibility for direct program delivery to industry, making it more accountable for meeting provincial environmental standards."

Again, if you look at the compendium that came with the bill, the ministry makes it very clear that the only role they will have in this process after they shift the compliance responsibility over to the industry is to somehow try and do some audits of some companies -- I presume they are going to be the poor players in the industry -- and in some way, shape or form still try to monitor all of the reports that are supposed to come in from all of the industry representatives who have licences and permits to operate: to try and monitor those to ensure that whatever is filed in the report is factually correct, that whatever remedial measures are supposed to be taken out by the company will in fact be done, and that everything is on the up and up. Again, in an environment where some 2,000 staff at the Ministry of Natural Resources are going out the door, the ministry will be completely incapable of assuming those responsibilities.

The situation with respect to the inspectors who carry out some of the work under the aggregates act now is even more compelling to demonstrate how this group of folks will be unable to monitor compliance under this act. I was told by representatives of the industry -- one of whom is here in the gallery today -- who met with me to express their feelings about this bill that some 40 inspectors in the province monitor the government's responsibility under the current act, and they have been advised that this number will be reduced to 14 by the time all of the layoffs take effect at the ministry. There will be 14 inspectors left out of a current pool of 40 to try and monitor compliance. It's no wonder the government is offloading all of its responsibility, because with those kinds of layoffs the government can't continue to assume its responsibilities under the act. That's what's really at the heart of this bill.

The philosophy and the direction is one that I am fundamentally opposed to because, as I said earlier, I firmly believe that government should, and does, have a strong role to play in the protection and the maintenance of our resources, be they again timber resources in this province, fish and wildlife resources, the provincial parks system, which is a resource that we all benefit from, and here, aggregate resources.

I believe as well that not only does the government have a responsibility and must be ensuring the protection and maintenance of those resources, but the government also has a role to play in ensuring that the public's voice is heard with respect to how those resources are used in the province of Ontario.

My colleague from St Catharines talked at some length about his concern for the escarpment and his concern about how we protect some of the values in the escarpment that are recognized not only provincially but internationally. Clearly, it's a very difficult balance that must be struck between those people who want to use the resource and those people in the province who feel there are values that have to be protected and therefore in some cases the resource should not be exploited.

I firmly believe that it's the role of the government to ensure that the public's voice is heard on that important issue, to be the mediator between all those conflicting resource users and to find the solutions which will on the one hand ensure that we don't destroy an important industry in the province, which is the aggregate industry, but that we do at the same time protect those values which are recognized internationally as ecological values that should be protected. The government, not the industry, should be the group that makes those fundamental decisions.

What I see in this bill -- and I'll get to some of my concerns about particular sections -- is the role of the public being shut out in this bill. In at least two sections in the bill there are sections repealed which currently, under this act, allow for public input, either at the behest of municipalities that have an operator operating in their municipalities or at the behest of people who live in the unorganized areas who can have input when an operator goes to the MNR and asks for a permit to open up a quarry or to expand a quarry in an unorganized township. Under this bill those two sections are repealed and the input that the public used to have under this bill, albeit sometimes it was minimal in some cases because perhaps there were no concerns, and the mechanism to have input that the public used to have is taken out. I don't understand why the government would want to do that, because surely the government's role is to ensure that the public's voice is heard when it comes to determining the balance between the use of our resources among the many people who want to use them or among the many people who in fact want to protect them.

That's why I say that, at heart, our opposition comes from our fundamental disagreement with the government about its philosophy and the direction it takes with respect to natural resources, a philosophy which says the government somehow has no role any more in the province of Ontario in maintaining and protecting resources and a direction which says we will allow all of the things that we used to do to protect the public interest to now be offloaded on to the industry.

I think what the government forgets at the end of the day -- and this is a most important point -- is that the resources in the province, be they timber or wildlife or fish or parks or aggregates, don't just belong to this government. They don't just belong to the Minister of Natural Resources. They are not his to give away. The crown acts as the steward and provides the standards and provides the compliance and monitors that compliance and provides fines as necessary to ensure that the resources which belong to all the people are used in an environmentally sound way to benefit the greatest number of people in the province.

This government somehow forgets that. This minister somehow thinks that he and he alone has the right to say which of the big timber companies are going to get timber and how we will cut out the native groups, the independent loggers and the people in the environmental community who want to protect other values, and instead give the crown management units over to the industry. He forgets it's not his resource to give.

That again is what really bothers me about not only the business plan with respect to forestry coming under the jurisdiction of the Minister of Natural Resources but this bill as well, because these resources are not the government's to give away. They belong to all of the people of the province. The government has a role to be the steward of those resources for all of the people of the province, not only now as we use those resources or make decisions not to use them but to protect them, but also for future generations.

1740

I want to deal with some of the very specific concerns I have with the bill, and my concerns relate to really two issues. It is that effort that I see in this bill to somehow cut out the public from participation, which is an effort on the part of the government which I do not understand and, frankly, which I find unacceptable in Ontario in 1996. It also has to do very much with the inability of the ministry to monitor, whatsoever, whatever compliance is left under the ministry's jurisdiction once this bill is passed.

Let me begin by saying that the stated rationale, as put by the minister in this House when he introduced this bill, was that the government had made it clear that they were going to do business differently in the province, that the government was somehow going to do more for less -- although I fundamentally believe the government will do less for less, not only under this bill, but in terms of many of the other changes they are making to ministries that carry out regulatory functions in the province -- and that finally, the industry itself will somehow become more accountable for meeting the provincial environmental standards as a consequence of this transfer of compliance from the ministry to the industry.

That's all rhetoric, because the fact of the matter is, the government right now, in the face of the huge layoffs that it has already announced, and particularly in this ministry, this ministry cannot enforce the legislated requirements that it now faces under the current act. It cannot do that as it currently stands with the changes that are going to take place and the restructuring and the downsizing that are going to take place in this ministry. I should point out again, the loss here represents 20% of all of the public servants who are going to be lost from the public service over the next two years.

So we have to bear in mind that very much the thrust of this bill is, frankly, to admit that the ministry can no longer carry out its compliance activities and they will have to be offloaded somewhere else. You see a number of sections of the act repealed to recognize that very fact. If you look at section 17 of the act, it is repealed in its entirety.

Section 17 said that once a year an MNR inspector would inspect each site, would review the site plan and the terms and conditions of the licence, and that same inspector would consider comments provided by the municipality in which the site was located to determine whether the licensee was complying with the terms and conditions of the licence, not only with respect to the terms and conditions of the licence but the site plan as well, and the regulations which would have been attached.

In discussions I had with representatives from the industry, they made it clear to me that in some cases this was not happening even under the current act, that as a matter of fact there were some sites in the province where people had not seen inspectors for three or four years already. There's no doubt in my mind that, given the huge layoffs that are going to happen at the Ministry of Natural Resources, you will never see any of those inspectors on any of these sites, because there are just not going to be enough staff to go out and provide the kind of inspection and the comments and the liaison they had with municipalities under the restructuring that's going to take place.

I think that we lose on a couple of counts. We lose because at least under the provision that is currently now in the act, an MNR inspector does have to consult with municipal representatives about the operation of the licensee. That inspector does have to talk to municipal officials about whether or not they have concerns or have received concerns about the operation of the licensee. Now the act is silent on the requirement of municipalities to have some kind of input regarding the practice of the licensee who is operating in their area. With the repeal of that section 17, the act is silent.

I say to the parliamentary assistant, what is then the mechanism for municipalities to continue to have a role in this process with respect to having some say about the operation of the licensee in this municipality? How will their input be gathered? How will we have some guarantee that if there are concerns, those concerns will be responded to? How does the public, through their municipal representatives, raise the concerns, which they have a legitimate right to raise, about the operation of a licensee in a municipality?

This is one of the sections where the government has moved to take out the voice not only of municipal representatives but of people in municipalities who use municipal representatives to raise concerns on their behalf with the ministry about operations that they may have concerns with.

I say to the parliamentary assistant, who is here, I do not understand why it is the government does not wish the municipalities to have a voice any longer. Why is it that you don't wish people in a municipality to have some kind of vehicle to raise with the government of Ontario their concerns about an operation of a licensee in this province? What is there to be afraid of? What are we worried about? Surely the responsibility of the government given that they are stewards for resources, is to ensure that the public will have the appropriate mechanisms to raise concerns about that very stewardship. This is one section of the act where that is completely removed and where the changes are now silent. I ask the parliamentary assistant how we are going to be assured that municipalities and folks in municipalities continue to have a voice and a mechanism to raise legitimate concerns they should be able to raise about an operation they have a concern with.

Secondly, in repealing all of section 17, what also happens is that the inspector who would have gone out to provide that site visit would have then been required under the act to write a report of the inspection that would include a description of any practice or procedure in contravention of the act, the regulations, the site plan or the conditions of the licence. Those reports were also required to be made available to the public.

I have a couple of concerns about this section. I want to know from the parliamentary assistant, what will be the mechanism then for reports to be made available to the public so that anyone having concerns about an operation or remedial work that should be undertaken will know exactly what it is to be undertaken?

I understand quite clearly that under the changes under that move for self-regulation to the industry what will now happen is that the industry itself or the licensee himself or herself will now have the responsibility of filing that report, and that particular licensee will have to, under law, not only file the report, but ensure that all of the information that's provided is true and accurate and, finally, that if remedial action is to be undertaken on site, that the licensee lists when that remedial action is to be undertaken and how it will be undertaken.

I wonder how it is that the public will be able to get access to those reports. The members from the industry who came to see me had been told that the ministry inspectors would keep those on file in the MNR offices -- those that will be left open after all of the changes take place at the ministry -- but I want to know specifically whether those, for example, might appear as they should be, under the bill of rights, in a number of libraries across the province as they are supposed to now so that the public will be able to access those records, will be able to see clearly what action, if any, is to be taken, what date that action is supposed to be completed by and what, if any, action the ministry is going to take if the information provided is not correct or the remedial action is not undertaken at the that it's supposed to be.

I'm also very concerned about the repeal of another section; in this case, it's subsection 37(5). This section required that "An aggregate permit issued in respect of a pit or quarry located entirely or partly on land covered by water that is not the result of excavation below the water table shall contain such conditions as are considered necessary to minimize adverse impacts on or to restore aquatic biological habitat on the site."

1750

The concern I have around the repeal of this section is as follows: A number of operations, I suspect, would be pulling gravel from the bottom of a river or from the bottom of a lake, and they may well be doing that below the water table. As I understand the act at present, those licensees would receive from the Ministry of Natural Resources some terms and some conditions about how that was occurring, to ensure two things: to ensure there wouldn't be damage to the water table, which could then cause a whole series of problems to people's drinking water or to surrounding wells; and secondly, some very serious concerns to mitigate any adverse consequences with respect to fish habitat, which is also a responsibility of this ministry to assume; that is, to protect fish and wildlife in the province.

As I read this section, clearly the ministry, up until this point, saw it as their responsibility to ensure that there were terms and conditions on a licensee who wanted to operate below the water table, who wanted to operate by pulling gravel from the bottom of a lake or river. There were terms and conditions to protect the quality of drinking water and to protect fish habitat. With the entire repeal of that section, the only conclusion I can draw is that the ministry will not any longer be providing any terms and conditions and that a licensee is free to do whatever he or she wants when they're pulling gravel out of these areas.

I would think that what the government is doing by allowing that free rein is very much to put at risk both the quality of water in the water table and fish habitat, which would directly contradict one of the other responsibilities this ministry is supposed to have around protection of those same values.

I wonder if the parliamentary assistant can advise me whether that is indeed the case, or perhaps the minister can. As I read it, the repeal of the section no longer provides any obligation on the part of the licensee to protect those values. I wonder if it appears anywhere else in the act, although I did not see it. I wonder how the government is going to convince the public that a licensee operating under those very conditions will continue to be responsible for protecting those values. How is the government going to monitor compliance of those values when the terms and conditions no longer even exist, and frankly, when they no longer have the staff to go out and monitor compliance?

Part VIII of the act is also repealed. This goes back to the concern I have about this government's move to shut out the public from the process of determining balances around use of resources or the non-use of resources, or for allowing the public to have some input with respect to the concerns they may have around an operation.

Specifically, that part of the act required that an applicant for a licence for a pit or a quarry in an unorganized area must notify the public through local newspapers. It also allowed any person to serve notice of an objection to the issue of a licence. As I read the changes, that whole section has been repealed, a section which this time allowed people in unorganized areas to have some say with respect to their concerns or their agreement with an operation of a pit or a quarry in their unorganized area. The House should know that this is a serious issue.

There was a case that was most recently brought to my attention where a company did go to the MNR to try to get a permit to open up a new quarry off a road maintained by the local roads board in that unorganized area. As a result of the requirements of the act currently in place, that operator did have to issue notice and did have to hold a public meeting, which was very well attended by many of the residents who lived in that unorganized area.

It turned out that this was the same operator who some years ago had attempted to get a licence to open a quarry in exactly the same area, off that local roads board road, and he had been turned down at that time because of the severe criticism of the Ministry of Transportation, not just of the local folks who were concerned about the operation of big trucks along that road. The Ministry of Transportation itself had several years ago said very clearly to the Ministry of Natural Resources: "This is not on. The road in question cannot maintain that level of truck volume, cannot maintain that level of aggregate being moved out. There are school buses on that road, and we have concerns about safety for them and for other people who have vehicles who use the road. This is just not an acceptable area to develop a quarry."

Here we were, three years later, going through the same rigmarole, dealing with the same operator, having to have MTO intervene in the same manner to convince MNR not to provide the permit. At least in this case, under the requirements of the current act, the folks were notified by public notice, the folks had a chance to come and have their say, had a chance to raise their concerns with the Ministry of Transportation, and on their behalf the ministry officials then lobbied their colleagues at MNR and suggested that the permit be turned down.

With that section being repealed, I see no vehicle, no avenue, for those same folks to even know that someone has gone to apply for a permit at the MNR in the future. Not only will they not know, but because there is no need now to have public advertisement or to allow a mechanism for people to object, what kind of mechanism do they have to ensure that a project like the one I just referred to doesn't go through, a project that clearly, by anyone's account who is reasonable with respect to the matter, shouldn't go through? Why are we taking away a mechanism for the public to have their say, be it the public in municipalities or the public in unorganized areas? Why is it that the government doesn't seem to think that people in those areas who have concerns should have a way to raise them legitimately, should be able to stop a project when indeed a project should be stopped?

I ask the minister or the PA, who are both here, if they can tell me why it is that they see a need to take out the only role the public has in trying to deal with some of these projects, particularly when the projects very clearly should not go forward and when other ministry officials are making it clear that those projects shouldn't go forward.

I'm not sure what it is that people have to hide, but the public perception will be that operators have something to hide when they no longer have to notify the public that they want to either extend an operation or introduce a new one and when the public itself has no way to object to that.

Under the changes to the Petroleum Resources Act, there are two sections in particular that I have a very specific concern with. Under this bill, both sections 8 and 9 of the act are repealed. Section 8 stated:

"(1) No person shall,

"(a) conduct geophysical or geochemical exploration for oil or gas; or

"(b) lease oil or gas rights except from the crown; or

"(c) produce oil or gas for sale,

"unless the person is the holder of a licence for such purpose."

Section 9 stated that "No person shall operate a machine for boring, drilling, deepening or plugging wells unless the machine is licensed."

I get back to the scenario that for the public, perception is reality. The public should ask themselves why it is that the government would make a move which says it will repeal a section which now says that the person who is going to be doing any kind of geochemical or geophysical exploration at least has to be the holder of a licence for such a purpose. Secondly, what will the public perception be when people realize that the person operating without such a licence no longer has to ensure that the machine is licensed either?

What you're going to get among the public, my friends, is a perception that people have something to hide, that people are doing something wrong, that people want to make a quick buck and therefore aren't prepared to be licensed or aren't prepared to have their machines licensed and just want to get in there and do whatever it takes to make a quick buck off the resources that belong to all of us. The government has to come to grips with that, because that is an important perception, and I firmly believe that people will view it in that way.

1800

Why is it that people don't have to have a licence any more? Why is it that their machinery doesn't have to be licensed? What kind of environmental standard are we supporting by the repeal of that section?

I say to the government, you're not going to be able to convince anyone, in your move to try and offload responsibility on to the industry, that somehow that move will ensure that environmental standards are still protected when you have sections in the bill like this one, which do away with licences or licences of machinery that now are in place to protect those, I suspect, who use the machinery but also to protect those who want to ensure that the resources of the province are used in an efficient and an environmentally sound way. The government should explain to this House why it is that those sections have been repealed and why it is we want to leave the public with a perception that all we want to do in Ontario is operate at the minimum level, let everyone do whatever they want, and that the government of the day really doesn't have any respect or regard for environmental standards.

Those are some of the very specific concerns I have with respect to particular sections in the bill and it goes back to my concern about public input and the lack thereof now because of the repeal of some of these sections; and secondly, to my mind, the complete inability of the MNR staff to monitor any form of compliance under this bill. It's very clear that the bill proposes that the industry itself deal with all of the licensees, that each licensee himself or herself will do up an annual work report, will make it clear to the ministry what kind of remedial action, if necessary, they will have to undertake at their pit or quarry, will have to say when that will be done and will have to submit that. We're still not sure how that's going to be available to the public but I await some response from the minister and the PA.

It's very clear that the ministry will offload all those responsibilities on to the licensees and it's also very clear that the reason for that direction is because, as a consequence of the cuts to staff, we will no longer have 40 inspectors in the province who monitor these sites but we will have 14. That is the magnitude of the cut and that is really what is driving the change and the move to self-regulation by the industry

I doubt that even those 14 are going to be able to monitor compliance in the province. The bill proposes -- I suspect, if my reading of it is correct -- that those 14 people will do audits. They will pick and choose from all the reports that come in those they might have the time to go out and inspect. I also suspect they are probably aware of who the bad apples might be in the industry and those inspectors will be looking specifically for those bad apples and those reports and will probably be out on their sites to try and monitor compliance.

But what about the rest of the industry? What happens when you have so few inspectors trying to ensure that people have respect for the law and that the law is maintained and you have those people who become even more prevalent in the industry? How does the industry respond to that? I have no doubt that most of the folks in the aggregate industry act in a responsible manner. Their livelihood depends on it. But when the ministry can't monitor and the industry itself can't ensure that some of their friends who want to act in an irresponsible manner are going to be accountable, what kind of name does that give the whole industry? What position does that put the whole industry in if they themselves are not in a position to bring the bad apples in line?

I suspect we run a risk of that. We run a risk of that in every industry and there's no one here, nor would I expect anyone here, to be able to give me an ironclad guarantee that that's not going to happen. Because you can't give that guarantee and because it's very clear that it will be almost impossible for those 14 people to do any kind of adequate job around audits, reports, assessing, ensuring that remedial action is undertaken when it is proposed to be undertaken, I think what you will have at the end of the day are some people who will flout the law, flout the rules, flout their colleagues in the same industry because it's easier to do that and it's more profitable to do that at the end of the day.

I remain very concerned that what the government will see over the course of the mandate are those same people doing that not only in this industry, but in the forestry industry as well, and we will have on our hands before we are finished in this province example after example of where people who wanted to make a fast buck went in and destroyed their resource, to the detriment of the people who used to work at that particular site or on that particular project and certainly to the detriment of the rest of the people of Ontario, whom the resources belong to in the first place and who should be able to benefit from the proper extraction and use of those resources.

At the end of the day, that's the question this government has to answer. That's what the government has to bear in mind as it moves in this new direction of offloading all its current responsibilities has as steward and guardian for our natural resources and sets those responsibilities on to the industry so that industry representatives self-comply. At the end of the day, when those kinds of environmental problems blow up in the face of this government, this government will have to answer for that change in direction and for why it did it and for why the public has been cut out, particularly in this bill, from being allowed to have any input with respect to serious concerns that they should be able to raise with respect to an operator and how it is that the government did not assume its responsibilities to protect and maintain the natural resources for all of the people.

The member for Algoma-Manitoulin urged the government to provide to the members of the committee the technical standards that the ministry was looking at with respect to the changes in this act, and he was very correct in using the example that occurred under our government, which was, in the face of the demand from the opposition parties, to provide the technical requirements in documents with respect to the Crown Forest Sustainability Act. We did that before the hearings started so that MPPs on that committee, opposition and government, and the public who were going to come to those hearings, had a right to investigate those technical documents, had a right to ask questions. As a consequence of us doing that, those regulations and some of those technical standards were changed.

I think it is a real shame that the parliamentary assistant had to stand in his place today, because I know he wasn't part of this decision, and say that those technical standards will not be provided to MPPs as the hearings go on. In fact, it will be after the hearings and after the bill is passed that people will have the opportunity to sit down and develop those regulations, and they would be developed with the industry. What a waste of an opportunity.

If you're going to move in this direction, and you are -- and I recognize that the bill will pass: I understand the numbers. If you're really going to try to assure the public that at least they have a say in this issue and that people outside the aggregate industry who have a concern about how the aggregate resource is used have had some input and some ability to make some change and have been involved in the consultation around this, you should be doing that before the bill is passed, because after it's passed and the shell of it is in place, no one will have adequate input. The bill will be long gone; the consultation will be long over; the hearings will be long done and no one who has serious concerns to be raised, which I believe should be raised, will believe they had any meaningful, adequate input with respect to this government, and they will clearly see that the whole purpose of this bill is to respond to one set of folks and one set of folks only, and that is the people who are involved in the aggregate industry.

I don't think the government, at the end of the day, wants to find itself in that position with respect to this bill or with respect to the changes they are making because of the new business relationship with the forestry industry. I urge the minister, who is here, to reconsider that situation, even though I know his House leader very clearly told our House leader that they wanted the bill passed before the House recessed this summer. I urge the minister to take a step back and develop a process which would have those regulations, technical documents and working papers in place before the committee starts to meet, so that people are not commenting on a shell, which is all they're going to be able to comment on with the bill before us, but will actually be in a position to comment upon those environmental standards that will at the end of the day be those the industry is responsible for assuming and that the government should be responsible for enforcing but I suspect won't be because of the layoffs.

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I encourage the minister to take a step back and do the right thing, just as he encouraged our Minister of Natural Resources to do when he was critic for MNR and when he was dealing with the Crown Forest Sustainability Act on behalf of the Tory party. I know the minister today would not want to stand in his place and not provide that information to the House when he clearly, on this side of the House, did the same when was critic for MNR. Surely he remembers all the arguments he made when he was on this side about why opposition members and members of the public should have access to those technical documents under the Crown Forest Sustainability Act. If he is going to at all follow along the line of what he did when he was over here, he is going to today tell us that indeed he will provide those technical papers before the hearings start. I hope he will get up and say that.

Finally, in conclusion, let me just remind the government that the real problem we have with this bill is a problem that we also had with respect to the new relationship that will occur on the forestry side, and that is that somehow the government has decided that it's all right to abdicate its responsibility as the steward of natural resources of this province and that somehow it's okay to offload all of the responsibility about protection and maintenance of our resources, be they timber, fish, wildlife, parks or aggregates, on to the industry.

The government forgets that at the end of the day those resources don't belong to the Conservative Party of Ontario, don't belong to the government of Ontario; they belong to all of the people of Ontario to be used for the benefit of all of the people of Ontario. As responsible stewards in this province, the crown should continue to maintain that responsibility and maintain that protection and ensure that the rules and regulations will be met, that there will be compliance and that in fact there will be enough staff in this ministry to do that.

The problem we face is that only as a consequence of trying to fund a big tax break we've got a ministry that is being completely gutted, almost half the staff going out the door, a huge chunk of the budget that will be lost and a ministry that's going to be completely incapable of assuming any responsibility to protect the natural resources of the province. This government will have to live with that and, frankly, when those environmental problems start to spring up, as I know they will, just like the forest fire situation is raging out of control right now, it will be this government and this minister that will have to respond to that.

The Acting Speaker: Questions or comments?

Mr Len Wood: The member for Sudbury East did an excellent job of explaining what is going to happen with Bill 52. It's a matter of firing or laying off 2,200 employees, cutting back over $137 million in money that was used for natural resources to monitor the forestry and the aggregates industry, and now, as a result of the gutting within MNR, they find they don't have the employees and the money to do it, and they're turning over complete control to the aggregate industry and to the forest industry.

It's a sad day. I can recall very clearly reading the press clippings when Mike Harris said back in February 1995 that he was going to restore the reputation of the Ministry of Natural Resources if he ever came to government. Now 18 months later, both the Premier and the Minister of Natural Resources have completely destroyed and gutted the Ministry of Natural Resources by cutting the money and firing thousands of employees, all for the simple reason that they want to give a tax break to the wealthiest people in this province. They're not concerned at all, as the member for Sudbury East said, about protecting the resources for our children, our grandchildren and our great-grandchildren. It's just a matter of making sure the wealthiest people in this province get the tax break they want.

We can see an example in how they're letting northwestern Ontario forests burn; in northeastern Ontario, the fires are starting now. They shut down the fire stations. They don't have the personnel to fight them and they're destroying northern Ontario as a result of the action they've taken over the last 12 months.

Hon Mr Hodgson: I too enjoyed the member of the third party's speech. There are a few things that need to be clarified or corrected, not the least of which was the talk around the fire program. There is an emergency fire fund that kicks in over $14 million instead of $18 million, like previous years, so there will be dollars there to fight the fires to protect the values in the north. I think that's been evident to everyone in the province. Our firefighters are doing a great job.

I would like to comment, particularly for some clarification, about the changes we're discussing in this bill before us. The regulations we're talking about will be based on the standards. We're compiling the standards that are presently under the act and putting them in a more user-friendly form, so they're clear to the public and to the industry so they can comply. The notification and consultation part that's being put in the regulations -- currently in the act it's very restrictive. By bringing in consultation, if we need to have more consultation or notification in the regulations, we'll do that.

Mr Len Wood: You will destroy the reputation of MNR.

The Acting Speaker: The member for Cochrane North, you'll have your turn.

Hon Mr Hodgson: The part about the unorganized townships: The reason that's excluded is that currently it's done solely by the MNR. In the future it'll be the onus of both the proponent and the MNR to make sure that unorganized areas are notified and the proper procedures are followed.

It's true that we find we can deliver a better product with 30% less staff. There are some things we won't be doing at all: planting of tree nurseries. We feel the government doesn't need to do that; the private sector can do it. But there are five areas we've identified that are core to the ministry and to the province of Ontario in protecting our natural resources. To do a better job, not less with less, but better with less, we've done some things that I know, when the NDP was in power, they would have loved to have done but they didn't have the influence: revenue retention around parks, revenue retention around fish and wildlife --

The Acting Speaker: Thank you. Your time has expired.

Mr Michael Brown: I enjoyed the speech from the member for Sudbury East. I have a quiz for her, however.

Who said, "I'd also like to state that, as I mentioned before, really Bill 171 is enabling legislation. The details are provided for in the manuals, and I've been assured that they're going to be released later on this summer, hopefully with lots of advance notice before the hearings that have been announced. As I mentioned before, the manuals will contain the nuts and bolts of how the regulations will be implemented in different forest management areas. I look forward to going over those in detail and talking to people and going to the communities that are gong to be affected. We'll hold our endorsement for this legislation until we've had a chance to review the manuals in detail and go through the public hearings"?

Well, I know who said that.

Hon Mr Hodgson: Howard Hampton.

Mr Michael Brown: Not Howard Hampton. He actually provided the manuals, he actually provided the regulations. It was said by our friend the Minister of Natural Resources. That was then, this is now. This is totally unacceptable. Put out the regulations. Put out the manuals. What are you afraid of? Let's have the public talk about this. I cannot believe my friend from Victoria-Haliburton could change his mind so radically in the space of a little more than a year. This is absolutely incredible. He's got his parliamentary assistant back there who's more worried about slot machines and extended licensed hours. Maybe you could convince your parliamentary assistant that he should have the ministry draw those regulations and bring them out here so the public can understand them. We will talk about them in committee. It will work, Minister.

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

Ms Martel: Let me very much thank my colleague from Cochrane North for his support with respect to this bill. Certainly he can talk to the minister at great length about the fire situation in northeastern Ontario these days, a fire situation which is raging out of control.

The minister can try to tell the people of the province that all is well. Yes, we support the people who are providing fire protection in the province, too. That's why we'd like the minister to rehire them, because 20 teams involving about 60 people in this province have not been recalled by this minister to fight fires as part of the $4 million cut to firefighting his ministry is bringing in.

We would like to see the 17 of the 19 fire attack bases that have been closed by this minister to try to save $4 million from fire protection reopened, so we don't find ourselves in the same position as the firefighters did in Gogama a couple of weeks ago, sitting in the bush for 24 hours with no food, no backup and no phone communications to either Sudbury or Timmins. I suspect that is a situation that's going to repeat itself again and again this very hot summer in northern Ontario.

I want to say to my friend from Algoma-Manitoulin, thank you very much for finding that quote for me. I appreciate it because it makes it very clear that whatever the minister said when he was on this side doesn't matter any more. That was then and this is now. This is the same individual who made it very clear that the government, our government at the time, should produce the manual so that the public and the opposition MPPs could review those and respond intelligently at the public hearings. Now he's sitting over there and he doesn't want to provide the public or the MPPs with the same kind of thing that he was demanding when he was sitting on this side.

The Acting Speaker: Thank you. Your time has expired.

The Acting Speaker (Mr Gilles E. Morin): Further debate? The member for York-Mackenzie.

Mr Frank Klees (York-Mackenzie): I think with the passion that I heard from the member for Sudbury East, we can put her down as undecided on this issue at this point. I'll be pleased to speak to that subject any time.

If I might, I'd like to add my comments to this debate and to say that the amendments to the current statutes contained in the Aggregate and Petroleum Resources Statute Law Amendment Act, 1996, will make the aggregate, petroleum and brine industries more accountable for meeting Ontario's environmental standards, contrary to what we've heard today from members opposite.

These measures are consistent with our government's determination to create jobs, to cut red tape and to streamline delivery of government services. Throughout this legislation, we will shift more responsibility for direct program delivery to the industry, making companies more accountable and more aware of their need to meet provincial environmental standards.

Throughout this debate, one of the things that has been missed is that although there will be fewer employees within the Ministry of Natural Resources, there will be a much greater involvement on the part of the industry in ensuring that there is compliance and ensuring that these standards are met. That's something that we can understand, that the previous government wouldn't understand because they didn't have that kind of trust within the industry or in the private sector.

Clearly, we take a different view of how government should be done in this province and we believe that in the final analysis, it will be in the best interests not only of the province, not only of the people of the province, but as well, on those who are in the industry and who want to do the job right.

The Ministry of Natural Resources will then be able to concentrate on its core business of policy development, the setting and enforcement of standards and the approvals of permits and licences. This new approach, we believe, is a new way of doing business in this province, but will in fact be a much more effective way of doing business. We will simplify the current legislation and regulations that administer the aggregate, petroleum and brine industries while still enforcing the province's objectives.

The member for Sudbury East has made the statement that this province is withdrawing from enforcement in this province, and that is categorically untrue. The fact of the matter is that we believe we will be much more effective. As she admitted in her own comments, over the last five years the current section 17 has not worked. Why would we want to continue, I ask the honourable member, with a system that simply hasn't worked?

We propose through this legislation to streamline the process, to invite industry to participate with us in compliance and ensuring that there is effective compliance, and we believe we'll move from a piece of legislation that hasn't worked for anyone to one that will work for everyone.

The current legislation is too complex and it's overly detailed. The amendments we're proposing will put into place new streamlined legislation and regulations which will be backed by technical standards that are both understandable and enforceable. These new standards will be developed in consultation, as I said previously, with stakeholders and, as the member for Sudbury East indicated, all stakeholders who are affected by this legislation. We want to assure you of that. Following the development of those standards, they will be adopted by regulation.

The revised legislation will provide stronger enforcement tools than exist today. It will include increased fines and longer licence suspensions. There will be legislation, for a change, that will work, that will be effective and that will help us to enforce the standards the honourable members opposite have been calling on this government to implement. Companies, agencies and individuals under this legislation will be fully liable for their actions and will be held accountable by this ministry for their actions.

After Bill 52 becomes law, the ministry will work with industry and key stakeholders to develop the new regulations and technical standards, as I indicated, and the end result will be user-friendly standards that will be understood by the industry, that all parties to this legislation will understand and will be able to work with.

This legislation also removes the requirement for an annual inspection of each aggregate licence site. In response to the member's question I want to confirm at this point that the compliance reports that will be produced will be available at the MNR district offices, as is now the case with the annual inspection reports.

Interjection.

Mr Klees: That's right, there will be. We're committed to that; the industry will be committed to that and they will be available to the public. I didn't want the honourable member to leave here tonight without having an answer to that.

In some parts of the province this requirement has made it difficult for the ministry to achieve compliance and enforce the current regulations. It means having to send inspectors every year to conduct a full inspection of sites which the ministry knows full well are in compliance and being operated properly. As was indicated before, unfortunately the ministry has not been able to devote the necessary resources to ensure compliance under the previous regulations. We believe that in cooperation with the industry, in cooperation under the terms of the new legislation which will be much clearer, much easier to understand and easier to work with, much more user-friendly, we'll be able to get on with the job the people of the province want us to do.

The new legislation will require operators to inspect their own sites according to provincial standards that we have been involved in setting along with the industry and other stakeholders. They will be required to file their own compliance report to the ministry. These reports will be reviewed and checked by the ministry in much less time that it takes to do a full inspection.

They will also be verified through regular audits. I think when you take a look at the logic of what we're proposing, it makes a great deal more sense to do this kind of inspection in cooperation with the industry and then move ahead and do the regular audits in place to ensure that the work is being done.

In addition, the new legislation will remove the many administrative and financial functions that ministry inspectors now perform. This will enable them to focus their efforts on sites where there are serious non-compliance issues.

In closing, this is a more efficient use of taxpayers' dollars. We're absolutely convinced of that. It will enable the ministry to better use its inspectors for more focused enforcement of standards and guidelines. It will help inspectors to deal with and bring closure to serious issues of non-compliance.

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The Acting Speaker (Ms Marilyn Churley): Questions or comments?

Mr Gilles Bisson (Cochrane South): Again an example of this government choosing sides. I've listened to the comments of the member of the government who talked about the cosy relationship they have with big business in this province and I think yet again we have another piece of legislation, Bill 52, before the House that sets in place rules that are very much going to free up big business to do what it wants in this province. That's what this legislation is all about.

In the end, who gains? You always have to ask yourself the question, when you bring legislation into this House, of who gains? We know who the winners are under this bill. They are the same as the winners in virtually all the legislation this government has done: It's big business; the people on Bay Street; the people with money; the people with power.

Interjection.

Mr Bisson: Not the people of Ontario; it is the people with power at the expense of the people of this province. I think the role of a government is to advocate and pass laws on behalf of all the people of the province, not just for a select few, but again this government has chosen to fall squarely on the side of big business, squarely in the pockets of big money, and they're going to do what they need to do to repay their friends for those huge campaign contributions they got in the 1995 election and that they will get again in the election of 1999. They understand that if they want to have their bidding done, they have to have their government. They bought the government, they paid for it, they've got it, and the government is doing what it wants and is playing to a very special interest of only one sector of the economy at the expense of the environment and everything else and the people of this province, and I find that totally reprehensible.

The Acting Speaker: The member for St Catharines.

Mr James J. Bradley (St Catharines): Thank you very much.

Mr Chris Stockwell (Etobicoke West): What kind of rotation is this?

Mr Bradley: They missed the rotation, so it's okay.

When the member for York-Mackenzie rose, even though it's a bill dealing with aggregates, I wanted to hear his stand on video lottery terminals, the electronic slot machines that his party is bringing in across the province of Ontario, in all the bars that are now open till 2 am, thanks to the government, and also on golf courses; they may even have them on golf courses, because now they have beer on golf courses, but it wasn't that.

Mr Stockwell: What bill are we talking about?

Mr Bradley: The member for Etobicoke West, who is hollering from out of his seat, reminds me that we're talking about a bill dealing with aggregates.

I go back to the point. The member said, "Everything's going to be fine now; environmental protection will be even greater; the universe is unfolding as it should," yet we will not see the regulations and standards until after this bill is passed, I suspect. How can we make a judgement on the validity of this bill? I suspect it's not a bill worthy of support, but I would be much more comforted if I could see the regulations that will go with this bill ahead of time.

The best thing to do would be to put out the regulations in draft form, then make any changes after the environmentalists and others have been able to comment on them, come back with final regulations and pass the bill after that. I don't know what the hurry is other than trying to invite more people to the Tory fund-raisers, because now you'll have the aggregate industry there in great numbers, I'm sure.

Hon Chris Hodgson (Minister of Natural Resources, Northern Development and Mines): I just want to express our thanks and appreciation for the insightful comments from my parliamentary assistant from York-Mackenzie. You've shed some light on some very important aspects to this bill that will improve the way we manage natural resources in the province of Ontario.

The bill that we're talking about today -- I'd like to address one other point that the third party, the NDP, keeps referring to. There was a study done, initiated by the previous government.

Interjections.

Hon Mr Hodgson: I just want to catch their attention for a second, Madam Speaker.

The Acting Speaker: Order, please.

Hon Mr Hodgson: It was when the NDP was in power that this process was initiated, a study entitled Aggregates in Southern Ontario: State of the Resource. This was released in 1994, and the minister of the day, who is now running for the leadership, was the one who endorsed this procedure and thought it merited study and implementation. I just want to say that the comments I heard all afternoon from the member for Sudbury East -- I'm sure that she was well familiar with this because this was initiated by her government.

I also want to thank the member for York-Mackenzie for his help in the consultation around this bill and all the work he's done as my parliamentary assistant and how it will make the province of Ontario better.

The Acting Speaker: Further questions or comments?

Mr Michael A. Brown (Algoma-Manitoulin): I was interested in the comments from the member for York-Mackenzie.

Interjection: Were you wondering about VLTs?

Mr Michael Brown: I wasn't really wondering about VLTs or slot machines or extending bar hours. But I was concerned that the member seems to believe that his colleague the member for Victoria-Haliburton, the minister, was wrong when he asked, on a similar bill, for the regulations and the manuals to be put out before the committee hearings so we could understand the actual substance of the legislation.

This legislation is in large part a shell. You know that, everybody knows it. It's permissive; you can change the technical standards. What we're interested in and what I think the public's interested in is what those standards are. That would be relatively simple to do. All you need to do is to put them out before the public, and if there need to be changes, the industry and members of the public can speak to that. We can get a bill that the opposition can be confident reflects the views of the people of Ontario in terms of those more technical items. That is precisely the view that was held by the present Minister of Natural Resources when he was the critic for natural resources for the Progressive Conservative Party.

Mr Hodgson and I travelled across much of Ontario hearing from people, and surprisingly, much of what we heard at the hearings related not to the legislation but to the regulations and to the manuals, because that was the only way to make intelligent, substantive comments when you dealt with the legislation. I don't understand what the problem is over there. Put the regulations out, we'll have a little bit of hearings, and we can improve this legislation.

The Acting Speaker: The member for York-Mackenzie, you may sum up.

Mr Klees: I'm speechless, absolutely speechless. I want to thank all the members who took the opportunity to comment, particularly the member for Algoma-Manitoulin and the member for Sudbury East. I want to thank the Minister of Natural Resources, with whom it's an absolute pleasure to work. I know there are representatives from the industry with us here today as well. I want to thank them for spending so much time with us in consultation around this bill, and we look forward to working with them as well as other stakeholders.

I want to assure the members opposite that the sky is not falling in Ontario. We've been hearing now since June 8 that as a result of the election of this government the sky was going to fall. The fact is, it hasn't fallen yet. I want to assure you that it's not going to fall. I want to assure you that as a result of the kind of government and the kind of legislation we're bringing into the government of Ontario, your lives and the lives of your children and your grandchildren, as you mentioned, and your great-grandchildren will be much more secure. I want to assure you that the natural resources in this province are going to be much more secure and sustainable as a result of the kind of government that we are bringing to this province.

Again, I want to thank members opposite for their contribution to this debate. We look forward to working with them in a cooperative way. I'm sure at some point they will realize that as we work together to make these things happen, it will be a much better province as a result of that.

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The Acting Speaker: Further debate?

Mr Gilles Pouliot (Lake Nipigon): Madame la Présidente, I thank you. Incidentally, I had the opportunity for a brief moment about an hour back to officiate, to occupy the Speaker's seat, and it's the first time in 12 years. I can assure you that when I handed the mantle over to my successor, Monsieur Morin, everything was indeed in good order. So little time to say, "Been there, done that," but it was a privilege indeed.

You've heard the member for Sudbury East responding on behalf of our party, first informing the House that the New Democrats will not, shall not, support this legislation, for reasons that were made very clear. As always, the member for Sudbury East, in a rather unique analytical way -- because she is known to always do her homework -- meticulously spelled out the reasons, the shortcomings, and warned about potential pitfalls associated with this ill-fated Bill 52, this legislation presently at second reading.

It is somewhat appalling and shocking when you see the diligence -- and I know some of the people; they're sitting at the back now. I wish the camera could scan and look at them. They don't, at present, look their best, but they've worked very, very hard. They responded to the command orders, to the directive, to the rule-by-cleaver of this government and went back to their cubicles and started hacking. They started to dismantle what has been the system that over decades -- with some evolution, some changes that were reflected in the statute -- has generally served Ontarians very, very well.

The infrastructures that you see today were not built overnight. They were not commissioned, sanctioned by any individual political scribe. The need was responded to by good engineering, good money, the will of the collective to grow. We always did this in Ontario. To protect the investment made possible by the taxpayers, by all of us, we had an obligation, that of monitoring compliance, that of having checks and balances to make sure that value for money would continue to exist; in terms of the extraction of aggregate, that it would done in an orderly fashion.

We have some difficulties when we talk about deposits of gravel. They abound around the province; they're to be found almost everywhere. It is problematic that we're asking the extractor, the very people who are operating, to monitor the system.

If you were to go to Loblaws, you wouldn't have the management inspect the meat department and ask them to report to you -- not that they're dishonest, not that they would not comply; you wouldn't wish to impute motive. But simply put, it's much better to have inspections conducted by independent bodies, by people who can operate at arm's length. We've always heard about, by way of imaging, some analogy, perhaps with some validity, of Colonel Sanders being in charge of the coop. It doesn't call for a long-lasting or a very good relationship. Colonel Sanders is likely to turn to the coop and say what Henry VIII said, "I won't keep you too long."

You see, this government -- truths begin to emerge -- is taking us back 20, 30, 40 years, to the days of homesteading. These cowboys know no bounds. For them, a government inspector is someone who gets in the way. For them, a uniform slows things down, so they're asking the aggregate extractors and operators to monitor themselves. Don't bother.

Why are they doing it? They have a revenue problem. Their expectations, their projections, are just plainly and clearly out of whack. They have a Ministry of Natural Resources, approximately 4,300 employees, and the ministry is being gutted. Men and women are left whistling in the wind. They're being canned or given a pink slip, 2,100 of them, so fewer people to conduct your inspections, fewer guardians and sentries of the public purse.

Do they care? In front of your very eyes, when you live in that special and at this time of year vulnerable part of Ontario, the heart of resource-based northwestern Ontario, where as I speak, many dozens of forest fires are burning out of control, and as I speak, we have the irony, the cynicism, the sinister and cynical parallel of closing fire offices. Can you imagine for one moment when you would close a fire station in downtown Toronto and the city block that you were facing would be up in flames?

Mr Len Wood (Cochrane North): That's exactly what they're doing.

Mr Pouliot: That's what they're doing. If they're systematically, being aware, deliberately willing to do this, are they going to care about the quality of water? I guess not. You can always buy it on the shelf. Look for Perrier. Will they be concerned about fish? I guess you can pick up fish at Loblaws.

This government is doing that. They're on the hook. They've promised and they have to deliver. The masters on Bay have come calling. "Well done," said the pollster. "Well done, Mike. Good luck to you." Now the pension, checkmark, done; labour laws, delivered, done; balance the budget -- oops, they're watching -- to be continued to be done.

They do have a revenue problem. The money is not rolling in the way they expected it, the way they said it would. So if the money isn't rolling in, you fire people. You get seduced. You say yes because it seems to be in vogue, à la mode. That's what they're showing this spring -- getting rid of 13,000, 15,000, 20,000 men and women who have been at their posts over the decades. They're not waiting for them to retire. These people are in a hurry. They're in a rush. They're gutting the system, so expect fewer services. It's as simple as that. You can't ask 20% to 25% of a workforce not to be at their posts and expect the same productivity. It cannot be done.

1850

To satisfy people who have been allowed by way of some effort, I agree, in circumstances, to distance themselves, to run away from the field, the most fortunate in our society; they get richer, I guess. We don't seem to have the political will to defend, to protect ourselves. The gap between the most fortunate and the middle class is widening. The middle class is shrinking.

They could have avoided it simply by being fair, simply by not responding to the temptation, to the voices of people who are closest to them, the most influential, the wealthiest in this province. Colleague after colleague in our party has reminded the government of the sad legacy they're about to leave as they leave office, none too soon.

Our critic went clause by clause, a great deal of effort, and I thank you, member for Sudbury East.

Mr Len Wood: Did a good job.

Mr Pouliot: Did an excellent job. Technically, said why the bill would not fly, why once it leaves the paper and goes to the marketplace, in the real world, it would be a burden. But this is a government which doesn't take time to assimilate, to digest, to deal with rules. These are a style and a people who rule by regulation: Do this or else. No more government to burden your daily lives. "Government" has become a word to be avoided.

Civil servants, with the help of this government, have become numbers, faces in a crowd someplace. If you write down on an application form that you are a civil servant, the government would like the employer to believe that you supply a vaccination certificate which writes "cholera, pest, typhus, civil servant," and if you write the 50 years of age -- garbage, the file eternal, you'll never get drawn. You can't apply for another job or it's the proverbial buy a ticket and hope the minister picks it. It's not there.

So you play, you toy. In the meantime, the services we are paying for, like big time, are being gutted one by one. At first, some of the response was: "Well, I'm not impacted. Let's cut the fat. I'm all right, Jack," then, "I'm lucky, Jack." Now Jack gets it. Fewer services, more pay for service, user fees, and still behind the eight-ball, still $5.4 billion, $5.5 billion short because lunacy entered the party. It makes little sense if you owe $11 billion -- try it yourself. You're in debt to the tune of $50,000, plastic, you use it too often, so you've got to pay $50,000 and they charge you 15% interest. "We'll do this together." It costs quite a bit, but you made a commitment so you're going to buy a fur coat and/or a car and you go further into debt. It doesn't make too much sense to me. You pay your debt first, you tighten up your belt, you make collective sacrifices, and when the debt comes down, is eliminated, then you reap the rewards. You don't go further into debt. It doesn't make mathematical or economic sense to me.

If you choose to do this and you have ulterior motives, you must cut more, and this is what happens: If you have fewer people, you cannot deliver or provide the service, so you say to people, "You provide it yourself." You meet I don't know where, at the office, at the Toronto Club, at the Albany Club. Most of us are oblivious to these places. We certainly don't tread there. I wish everybody well; it doesn't mean they're bad people, no, no, it's just that we don't get to those places, but we're told that they meet and that deals are consummated. They make deals; they make arrangements.

I can monitor our industry. There are only a few bad players. "We'll lean on the peers, no problem." You're talking about the aggregate group. This is very competitive. We're not turning gravel into gold here. You need the strong arm of the environment so that there is no seepage. You don't just bring a drill and start drilling and then start operating in conjunction with dump truck operators, "Hi, Harry, how are you?" More importantly: "I'm fine. Another load." You have to protect the environment to make it a better place to compete, a better place to invest.

I go back, by way of conclusion, and ask the members to listen to what my good, diligent, learned colleague said. The member for Sudbury East is a person who has monitored every step of the previous regulation. She has tried, till now without success, to provide guidance and leadership to the government in saying: "Whoops, don't do it. It's not good for the collective. It's not good for us." There's still time. It is the 11th hour; shortly third reading will descend upon us and they have the numbers. Then it will become law, something we will have to live with.

I want to thank the member for Sudbury East for her outstanding contribution -- homework done, homework delivered, nothing short, nothing less.

The Acting Speaker: Questions or comments? Further debate? The member for Cochrane South.

Mr Bisson: I'm not going to take the full 30 minutes on this bill. There are parts of it that I agree with. What the government is trying to do under this bill is to take some principles we had put forward through the Crown Forest Sustainability Act and put it towards the aggregate industry, which is not necessarily a bad thing. I think the question of the trust funds, as was set up under sustainable forestry development, for remedial work in the event that companies shut down and are not around to fix the problems they might have caused is a good approach, and it was an approach that was set up originally by the New Democratic government of Ontario under the leadership of Howard Hampton as minister.

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I have a couple of points I'd like to make by way of question to the minister, because he is here and maybe he can respond to some of that at the end in the two minutes, or at least would be able to deal with that at the point this goes to committee, if it ever does.

First of all, under subsection 6.1(1) of the act we have, "The minister may establish in writing a trust to be known in English as the aggregate resources trust." Good idea; not a bad thing to do on the surface; support the idea, as I said earlier. In itself, what it does, in short, for people who are wondering is it allows us to make sure we set up a trust fund that's outside of what they call the consolidated revenue fund, so that a certain portion of money that is made from the aggregate resources business is put into that trust fund, so in the event there are damages done to the environment after the working of that particular quarry or pit is done, we have the dollars to go and do the remedial work that's necessary. Not a bad thing.

That the money received or held by the trust fund does not form part of the consolidated revenue fund makes a lot of sense. I think that's the way you've got to do it. You've got to take it out of the consolidated revenue fund and you've got to put it under a trust. Not a bad idea.

I get to a couple of questions here in regard to subsection 11(1):

"If an application for a licence complies with this act and the regulations, the minister shall require the applicant to comply with the prescribed notification and consultation procedures."

This is a good idea, but I have a bit of a problem here, because I wonder where the regulations are to this, quite frankly. The minister of the crown today, responsible for the Ministry of Natural Resources, I remember real well when we were on committee together, travelling all of Ontario. I don't mean this to be political. I am a political animal, that's what I do for a living, as we all are within this Legislature, but I have to say to the minister in all sincerity, I look at that clause and I look for the regulations and I'm a little bit nervous about what the consultation procedures will be, because one of the things we did under sustainable forest redevelopment was we followed the suggestions of the EA on timber, which was that you had to set up citizens' committees, as we would term them, to work with industry, have people from the community involved, both from the environmental movement and from industry, come together, work with the company, work with the proposal, so we're able to identify problems before the actual project starts, so that we're able to properly address those so that we don't end up in a whole bunch of problems down the road.

I think we've learned one thing. We've learned one thing in the politics and the environment of the 1970s and 1980s. There was a time in this province, and they're probably going back to that unfortunately, where business sort of ruled the day. If they wanted to start up a project, they just went out and did it, and it was sort of a fait accompli. Everybody agrees that business has to have the atmosphere to be able to develop projects, to be able to expand, to be able to do the kinds of things that build an economy, but you have to have some checks and balances to that.

I would just say that one thing we learned is by business going ahead and doing things without really worrying about public input, public involvement, getting the communities involved, they often backed themselves into a corner. They would end up at times starting up projects that were quite good, but didn't foresee certain problems they may have with the community, everything from the amount of sound coming from the particular plant in regard to noise that would bother residents to pollution that might be caused by their process, the aesthetics of how the plant should look. All of those issues were looked at from a dollars-and-cents issue and were never looked at from the community perspective, and business learned.

I can tell you one thing I've found out fairly quickly working in government. We had an opportunity to work with business in a way you probably can never really get unless you're the person with the bucks, the $50-billion budget of the province of Ontario. You build a very different relationship with business when you have those kinds of dollars.

You learned that business had started to learn through the 1980s that it was really of value to involve the public early on in the construction of a project, so that they were able to identify problems way before they started, because business learned it can save money that way. It was not only good for business in the bottom line, but it was good for their corporate image, and when you're in the mining business or the aggregate business or the oil and petroleum business or whatever business it might be, your public image is probably as important as your bottom line, because you have to live with the communities your plants reside in.

When I look at section 11, it's loose. That's the point I'm getting at here. Really, it says that all of this is going to be done, but there shall be a prescribed notification and consultation procedure. I would really like to know the substance of that consultation procedure. Are we saying to the companies in this bill that you can sort of go out and do a bit of a charade and pretend you've consulted, but in the end you really get to do what you want? I think that's what most people would expect this Conservative government to do for business when it comes to the question of consultation, because they don't want to be in the face of business, but I say that sometimes you've got to drag business screaming and scratching into the 21st century.

I just give, by way of example, the mining communities. I come from a community in Timmins where basically mining is the primary industry. For years, our community has relied on mining and jobs at places like Hollinger, McIntyre, Dome, Kidd Creek and all those mines that were out there.

Growing up in a mining community in the late 1950s, early 1960s, as a youngster, we were told in school, "If you don't do well, you're going to end up working in a mine." What's wrong with that? Mining is a great business to work in. Mining is a great industry.

Mrs Janet Ecker (Durham West): Why are you here?

Mr Bisson: I come from the mining industry; that's where I come from. But the point I'm getting at -- just hear what I'm trying to say here -- is that the mining industry was not trying to show itself as a progressive industry and an industry that was really something special and something that was technologically fairly advanced. They were more concerned about finding the ore and developing it, getting the dollars to do the development and then extracting the ore.

They weren't worried about public image, but that public image they didn't worry about came back and crept up and got on them, because at one point people started saying, "Hold it a second, things aren't being done the way they should," and people, rightfully so, demanded concessions from the companies through government to make sure they did their job well.

Mining learned through the late 1980s and certainly into our term, 1990-95, that it had to reposition itself with the public and the mining companies and the exploration companies had to go out there and sell themselves to the public as being the important industry that it is for the economy of Ontario, because it certainly is that, but more importantly, that it is a high-tech industry, that it is an industry that has everything from technicians to engineers to workers to you-name-it. It is a very highly technical industry that takes a lot of skill to work in, and they started to sell themselves.

I remember when Save Our North was started in Timmins with people like Steve Perry and others, people like Dave Meunier and Bruce Geoffreys and a whole bunch of people up in the Timmins area. They really at that point started to do the sort of evolving that they had to do as an industry to show themselves for what they were, because if you don't position your industry well with the public and you don't show yourself to be progressive and you don't show yourself to be something that is really unique and something special, you have a much more difficult time trying to do other things, like recruiting people into your communities to work in that industry. The whole issue of even raising dollars on the market is a lot more difficult in certain circles if you don't do that.

Section 11: You really should put some meat on the bone. Minister, when you were in opposition -- and now I will put my political hat on -- you were pretty dogged on committee, travelling one end of the province to the other, making the point, rightfully so, that you needed to see the regs and you needed to see the manuals and eventually that's what the government did. I would certainly hope you meant what you said back then and I would certainly have thought if you had become Minister of Natural Resources you would come forward and follow on the principles you enunciated when you were in opposition. I'm a little bit disappointed that you haven't done that, but for another day.

Moving on to subsection 11(3), it says, "Any person may, during the prescribed consultation procedures, notify the applicant and the minister in writing of an objection to the application." All right? You say that's all right, but then you read on to subsection (5) and it says, "The minister may refer the application and any objections to the board for a hearing, and may direct that the board shall determine only the issues specified in the referral."

I understand why the government is doing this. They're saying, "Listen, we don't want the board to be all-consumed with all kinds of issues that don't have anything to do with the application or don't have anything to do with the project." But I think those are pretty strong powers in the sense that a board that is handpicked by the minister, who is pro-business -- this is what is going to happen in the end: This board is going to be appointed by this government and this government is a pro-business government. Who do you think is going to sit on that board? It's certainly not going to be people from the environmental movement. It will not be people who are seen as the warm and woollies of society. It is going to be hard-nosed business people who look at the bottom line.

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The problem we're going to get into is that the minister can limit what goes before the board in regard to objections to a project. I'm not very trustful of the government, because I feel it is speaking for its big business friends. They have not demonstrated to me in the first 12 months of their government that they really care about the people of this province in the sense of recognizing that legislation --

Hon Mr Hodgson: Hope not.

Mr Bisson: I'm just saying, recognizing that legislation is all about making sure that you strike a balance of protecting the public interest at the same time as allowing economic development to happen. This government is looking at it from the other particular perspective.

Interjection.

Mr Bisson: OPAP was good, but what you did was reannounce a program that we, the NDP, had made sure stayed in place and funded, but OPAP had been cancelled originally until you realized that it was mistake. But anyway, for another day.

To get into this, the government will make a very logical argument: You need to be able to narrow down what you bring before the board and you've got to be businesslike when you go before the board and deal with the objections. The problem is that you have to recognize that the minister appoints the board and the board is going to be hard-nosed business people who look at this from the bottom-line perspective. People who have sometimes not the sophistication of people who work before boards all the time are going to be coming forward, and number two, they won't have the bucks of big business, are going to be at a disadvantage in trying to put their cases before the board.

I worry about that, because I know, as you in government know, that the people who normally come before governments, ministers and MPPs and eventually go before these boards are not sophisticated, with a whole bunch of bucks. It's somebody in a community who has a concern. It's the mother down the street who is worried about where an aggregate pit quarry is going to be and the safety of her children. She doesn't have the wherewithal to be able to understand all the technicalities and legalities of dealing with the question of an appeal, so you have to be somewhat permissive before these boards. I make that comment --

Interjection.

Mr Bisson: I hope you are listening to this. I hope that in the end the minister looks at this and tries to make sure he's able to restore the confidence of the people by allowing a little bit more latitude about how we come before the boards. It saves money; there's no question about that. This will save money for the people who are going before the boards and it will take less time; there's no question about that. There will be an efficiency; I admit to that. But the tradeoff is that we are limiting certainly -- I wouldn't say rights of people, but the ability to argue those arguments that need to be made to make that project better.

The other part is subsection 8. This is a recurring theme in the government, and I will explain. It says: "The board may hold a hearing and direct the minister to issue the licence subject to the prescribed conditions" -- I'll come to that in a second -- and it talks about what you can and can't bring before the board again. It says, "If the board is of the opinion that an objection referred to it is not made in good faith, is frivolous or vexatious, or is made only for the purpose of delay, the board may, without holding a hearing, on its own initiative or on a party's motion, refuse to consider...."

This is what we saw in Bill 26. The government, in its glee to be able to say, "We're a big business government, we're a business type of government, we will deal with this from the bottom line and bring sound business practices to government," is forgetting that part of what you need to do is, yes, be efficient but also that government is of the people and that the people have to have the ability to come before the government and petition it, be it at the level of the members in regard to the politicians or at the level of the board.

To say you're not going to allow it on the grounds of its being vexatious or frivolous, who determines that? You know as well as I do, the 130 members of this assembly, that you at times have people come into your constituency office and your staff will say to you, "Oh, this guy wants to come in and see you," or "This woman wants to come and see you. Jeez, I'm not sure you should meet with this person. They're a little bit kind of weird, you know." They sometimes will tell you that. I've always learned as a member that you meet with people and you sit down and hear what they have to say, no matter what, because sometimes people, in the way they present issues, may come off as being a little bit odd but there is substance to their complaint and you need to be able to deal with it.

Sometimes I've been quite tried in trying to deal with some constituents when they bring an issue forward because they don't know how to present their case. They don't know how to explain what it is they need to do and go on at length, sometimes for hours, trying to tell you what really could have taken a couple of minutes. But you need to sit down and hear them none the less. That's always been what I have done, and I have learned there's value in that. If you allow the board to say, "It's vexatious, it's frivolous," you're really giving into the hands of people on a board who will be appointed by a pro-business government, and it will be business types of people who look at this from a bottom-line perspective, who will be turning around and will be looking at this from a bottom-line perspective and may not look favourably upon the application of people --

Mr Bill Murdoch (Grey-Owen Sound): Gilles, slow down.

Mr Bisson: Madam Speaker, he shows up in the House about once a week. Do you think maybe he can listen to the debate? Thank you.

That's part of the problem. You saw the question of vexatious --

Mr Murdoch: That was a nice one. You were here Monday; no, you weren't. You weren't here the other day.

The Acting Speaker: Would the House come to order, please. The member for Cochrane South.

Mr Bisson: Thank you very much, Madam Speaker. The question of "vexatious and frivolous" as options to be able to limit the ability of people to come before tribunals is something we have seen this government do time and time again. We've seen it in Bill 26, we're seeing it today under Bill 52, we saw it in other pieces of legislation, because this government believes that you have to have a businesslike attitude when dealing with government.

Yes, you've got to be more efficient; there's no question about that. But you cannot limit democracy in what you do here. You have to look at that and remember that your job is to speak on behalf of the people of this province and to allow them due process under the law -- and this is what this is -- to deal with their complaints. To say that you're going to dismiss something on the basis of its being vexatious or frivolous, who is the judge, jury and executioner?

Mr Bradley: Mike Harris.

Mr Bisson: It's going to be Mike Harris, exactly. It'll be Mike Harris, it'll be the cabinet of this government and their friends from big business they appoint to this board, who look at things from the same perspective. That is a problem, that is a limitation of democracy and I have a real problem with a government that takes that particular approach.

Mr Bradley: I'll feel more secure if Stockwell's in cabinet.

Mr Stockwell: Don't hold your breath.

Mr Bisson: Yes, if my friend Chris Stockwell goes into the cabinet, I will be somewhat surprised, to tell you the truth.

Getting back to the other part of the bill, I was noticing in the explanatory notes of the act, under paragraph 6 at the bottom in the first part, it says: "Inspectors are authorized to make a variety of compliance orders. The minister is authorized to certify other persons to examine works and wells."

I am wondering, is the minister saying here that this means that the inspectors of that industry who are normally paid -- and I look at the people from the ministry who are in the wings over here -- does that mean that in the end you're able to contract out the inspectors of the ministry who are now doing the job over to the private sector? I'm looking for a nod; no or yes? No? Okay. I thought that's what you were getting at. You're not political staff, are you? You wouldn't be doing that just to try to -- okay, all right.

I understood. I would ask if the minister can just, for one second -- I'm about to wrap up and I want to ask you a question, so I would appreciate, since you are here, to be able to get that. Under the Petroleum Resources Act it says, under paragraph 6 in the explanatory notes: "Inspectors are authorized to make a variety of compliance orders. The minister is authorized to certify other persons to examine works and wells." Does that mean to say that you're allowed to privatize the services presently being done by ministry inspectors, that work?

Hon Mr Hodgson: Yes.

Mr Bisson: Hang on. The political staff over here said no. You'd better talk to the political staff over there.

I'm going to go on for another couple of minutes then. I was about to end at that point. I respect the minister. The minister must be truthful in the House and he answered the question squarely. The answer is yes. I understand it is a question of political ideology.

Interjection.

Mr Bisson: No, you did the right thing. You were truthful. I respect that and I thank you for giving me a straight answer. I just say that government has an ideology; there is no question. They believe that the private sector can do it better, and if they can move over many of the services that are presently delivered by the government into the hands of the private sector, they have a fundamental belief that things will be better in Ontario, they have a fundamental belief that things will be done in a more efficient way.

I say to the minister and the members of the assembly that there is a problem with this concept. Well, it's not a concept; it's now a fact in Ontario, because that's what you're doing. You're privatizing not only this, but a whole bunch of other things in Ontario. We as a government, we as a people in this province have the ability --

Interjection.

The Acting Speaker: Order, please.

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Mr Bisson: We in this Legislature have a responsibility to the people of this province, and one of the responsibilities is the question of accountability, that people in the end, if they have a complaint to their government, if they are unhappy about how policy has been carried out in the province of Ontario, are able to complain directly to the government of Ontario through the political process or they're able to get to the bureaucrats through other processes. That is part of how the system works.

We're fairly quick to blame the civil servants for all our ills and wills, but in the end, the civil servants, the people that are the inspectors, are there to do a job and that job is to look at the bill that has been drafted by the members of this Legislature, the bill that is the responsibility of the minister, and to make sure that the public policy set out in the bill is carried out. If the bill calls for fines, if the bill calls for any kind of punitive measure, that is the responsibility of the government employee, as the inspector. We shouldn't get mad at them. We should get mad maybe at the legislation or how it was drafted, and if we want to deal with that, deal with it in the legislation.

But by simply transferring the responsibility over to somebody in the private sector, there are two great problems, in my view. The first one is that public policy is not as easily dealt with because the private sector individual is not so much concerned about public policy. They are concerned about the bottom line, as they should be.

I ran a business for years in my community and what did I worry about? I didn't worry about what happened in my neighbourhood, I worried about making sure I had enough money to pay the bills at the end of the week. That's what business is all about. You're worried about making a profit so you can build that money back into your business to make a better and more successful business. That's what you're concerned with. You're not worried about public policy.

By transferring the responsibilities of inspectors and putting it squarely in the hands of the private sector, there's a problem with that. Public good is not being followed. Public will, in my view, is not being done. What you end up with on the other side, it becomes more difficult for the public to be able to get at them in the sense of being able to bring forward complaints and being able to get action on complaints because they are a private sector entity that is responsible unto no one but the business owner. Yes, there are regulations and law that will deal with what they can and can't do, but in the end, they're not as accountable as people in the public sector and that's why we decided years ago in a thing called a democracy, something that this government forgets we have, that we put those responsibilities squarely in the hands of the public sector so there is public accountability.

The other issue, by transferring the service from the ministries on to the private sector, who benefits? I have to come back to that all the time. Because where a ministry inspector -- and I use the Ministry of Mines as something people back home will understand. The mining inspector who goes out and does the inspection in the mines in regard to what is happening as far as safety is probably being paid somewhere in the neighbourhood of $16 to $21 an hour, depending on what his or her job is. Then that person, in doing that job, takes the income and reinvests it in the community by buying goods and services in that community.

What's going to happen in the private sector? That inspector who used to make between $16 and $21 an hour will now make probably on average about 10 bucks an hour. And who benefits? Certainly not the worker. The worker who made money is going to lose his or her job or, if they're lucky enough to hang on to it, will be paid considerably less. So who benefits? The business owner. Are there more business owners than there are workers? That's the question. There are more workers than there are business owners and it seems to me, from an economic perspective, we're better to pay workers a fair wage for the work they do so that they have disposable income to make our economy go.

Part of the problem is that the government doesn't believe in that concept. They're transferring that all over to the private sector, which means to say that workers will be paid less money. I then come back to the point, who benefits?

On the surface, under Bill 52 there are parts of this bill I can support. There are parts of this bill in regard to what we're doing with the aggregate resources trust that are a good idea. It is something we set up in government under Howard Hampton. It is something I think is workable, something that we've demonstrated has validity in regard to process and how it is able to relate to everything else. But there are a number of things that are shy and lacking, I would say to the minister, as to how that is going to operate in regard to public accountability, both in the ability to appeal and, on the other side, in the ability to be able to be involved at the head end of the process.

I would just say in closing, there was a comment that was made this afternoon as I listened to the answers from the Minister of Natural Resources to the questions that were posed in regard to forest fires in northern Ontario. Somebody called him the Nero of Ontario, and he's right. What we have in this province is a very critical situation of forest fires in northern Ontario at this point, and the ministry has always had the ability to respond, sometimes not as well as it would like to, depending on the severity of the fires and how many are going on, but we've always had the ability to keep it in check, and this minister has presided over the dismantling of our capability to be able to fight fires in northern Ontario. I say, as Nero watches northern Ontario burn, we are going to see jobs go up in smoke, because as you burn them trees it means to say you can't get them back as a resource. It means to say we're going to put the existing firefighters at risk.

I know of constituents of mine, and I'm very angry, who are firefighters, who were stuck in the bush for 24 hours without communication, without food, without contact to the other firefighters, and if something had happened, quite frankly, the blood would have been on the hands of the Minister of Natural Resources.

Interjections.

Mr Bisson: You don't like it, but listen. You better wear what you put on in the morning, because what you people have put on is a cloak of cuts that has nothing to do with the ability of this province to be somewhat compassionate and respond to issues.

I warn you now, Minister, if any of the people who are working out there fighting fires this summer get in additional danger in regard to their safety and, God be it, if one of them happens to die because of it, I will be coming to this Legislature along with everybody else in northern Ontario and not only demanding your resignation, but we'll be demanding a lot more from you, because that is unconscionable what has happened.

We're flying people in from the United States to fight fires when we've got people who are unemployed in northern Ontario who did it as a living, who understand how to do it and have been trained by this province. I say to the minister, that is not acceptable. There is a question of priorities and there are choices that this government has to make, and I understand that and I accept it. I was part of a government that cut budgets in certain areas in regard to being able to find efficiencies.

But at one point you've got to look at common sense and say you can't shut down the fire station in downtown Toronto and expect the community to survive. That's what those fire stations were for us in northern Ontario. It is our resources and it is our backyard. It is where we live, and it's a question of safety. I say to the minister, shame on you for what you have done. I will be back here along with a whole bunch more people if anything else happens on that matter.

The Acting Speaker: Questions or comments? The member for Victoria-Haliburton.

Hon Mr Hodgson: In the interests of time, I'll be quick on this. I appreciate the member's comments about the positive things in the bill. The private inspectors that he brings up will augment the inspectors who are employed directly by the MNR.

His remarks on the fire situation are purely unconscionable. I think he should talk to the former Treasurer, somebody who understands financing in the government. You have an emergency fire fund. There are dollars, there are resources there. When the former finance minister asked his question in the House a week ago, he preambled that the people who were training last year and we thought we'd let go were hired back. Their party is aware of that. He is fearmongering with the people of northern Ontario.

Our firefighters are doing an excellent job up there. They're doing the best they can. It's a severe situation. There are dollars being spent. Last year we spent $110 million on a base budget of $18 million. This year we're saying if we had had a traditional year, we could have provided the service for $14 million. We are on emergency fire. We spend about $1.25 million per day of the Ontario government's money and that is to meet the challenge that exists there.

As far as safety, that is the number one concern, and if the member tries to make politics around safety, I think that's truly unconscionable and despicable, to be honest with you.

The closing of the attack bases that their party likes to rage on about is because we've had changes in the way we deliver fire protection. We no longer sit in towers. The attack bases now are highly mobile. If you want to go for a tour in the northwest where there's a huge fire activity right now, there are nine bases that are located closer to the fire. It's more effective for fire suppression and initial attack. It's a mobile force now. We're approaching the 21st century and we have communications, we have better lightning monitoring. Our firefighters are the best in the world and they're proving it every minute as we sit around here and idly chat.

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Mr Michael Brown: I was interested in the comments from the member for Cochrane South, as always, and particularly interested in the minister's comments. I thought he would be standing up to announce that the regulations would be in place for public comment before we dealt with this bill.

The minister mentioned the fire situation and I just want to quote from his estimates of this year. In his estimates he says: "... Ontario government restructuring initiatives by consolidating the forest fire regions; consolidating forest fire attack bases; reducing staff including fire crews;" this I really like, "reducing the fire detection effort; reducing helitak contracts and developing partners for the delivery of forest fire prevention messages.

"Development and design an alternative funding mechanism for forest fire management.

"Refine the level of forest fire protection to allow for the continued delivery of key program objectives:

"prevent the injury or the loss of life and property;

"protect natural resource values; and" -- this one I really like and you're going to enjoy this. It says, "promote the use and understanding of the beneficial role of fire in ecosystem management."

In other words, this is kind of like the NDP answer to forest regeneration. When they found they didn't have the dollars to do it, they decided that natural regeneration was the way to go. Now we have a minister who can't fight fires and has decided that fire is a good part of the ecosystem and so we'll just let it burn.

Ms Shelley Martel (Sudbury East): I want to commend my colleague from Cochrane South for the comments that he made on Bill 52 this evening, particularly spending the time to go through item by item and section by section on some of the changes the government is making. He made it very clear during the process that there were a number of sections in which now the public no longer has the input or the ability to make comments, as they used to, when they wanted to be critical of licensees' operations. For example, in some of the sections that I referred to earlier, the municipality no longer has that opportunity through section 17, and in unorganized areas, despite what the minister tried to say in response to me, the act is very clear. The section where it says there will be public notification by an operator to people in unorganized areas with respect to the operation of a new quarry or expansion has been repealed and there is nothing to replace it.

Regardless of the fact that the minister stood in his place today and said somehow the ministry is going to work with the operators to ensure the public is notified, nowhere in the bill does that provision for public input and a way to reflect public concern and a vehicle to have the same ever appear. Maybe he would like to get one of his other colleagues to comment on that if they get up to speak on this bill.

But I want to just follow on the fire situation because I heard the minister try and justify $4 million worth of cuts to fire protection by trying to say there have been changes in the way we deliver fire protection. I want to remind the minister that he has closed the fire base at Nym Lake in Atikokan and he now expects fire crews from Fort Frances, which is an hour away, to respond to fire protection concerns in Atikokan and to the two mills that are located in Atikokan. There is no fire equipment located in Fort Frances. If you have to bring a helicopter in to transport people, you have to first get the helicopter to Fort Frances, then load the crews, then bring them to Nym Lake. By the time you finish doing that, the two mills in Atikokan will have burned down. If that's his idea of adequate fire protection changes, then he's out to lunch.

Mr Stockwell: Having spent some time in this place during the socialist regime of 1990-95, I recall vividly the original minister who in fact introduced this whole streamlining and economizing and it was one Howie Hampton, as I recall. Howie Hampton was the gentleman who in fact decided we had to do a study to streamline, to determine how to deliver these services less expensively. He did the study and then he said, "Gee, you know, we should do more than just a study. We should institute some pilot projects," in I think it was three pits about the province of Ontario. So what happened? The good minister of the day, Mr Howie Hampton, said, "Let's institute the pilot projects," and we went ahead and instituted the pilot projects to see about streamlining the cost of delivery of this service, which we thought was a grand idea. Many people in this Legislature in fact complimented the member and the deep thinkers on the other side that this might be a good idea: "We've got to streamline. We've got to look for economizing. We've got to look to efficiencies." When the socialists were in power, this is how they talked, and what happened? We had the three pilot projects. They realized, "Hey, we can find some savings." Ergo, the legislation, the legislation that we're debating today to implement the legislation that Howie Hampton himself said we needed to do.

I know very well that the member for Sudbury is briefing the member for Cochrane South right at this very moment, defending the good Howard Hampton, but let's be clear. What came out of this was a direct result of the socialists in power who said the costs were excessive, we need to economize. They did the study, they did the pilot projects, and this came forward, yet we're standing in this place and they're arguing against the wisdom and common sense of one Howard Hampton. Unbelievable.

Mr Bisson: To the member from Etobicoke, I would only say that Howard is so wise and so knowledgeable and so practical that I'm supporting him as leader, so that's my response to you.

Interjection.

Mr Bisson: I just say to my friend Mr Stockwell, if you had listened to what I said in the speech, I said I support the principle of the bill. It builds on, I said, the work that Howard Hampton had done. I had no problem with the direction the government was taking. I raised issues in regard to the issues of how people get involved in the process up front, in regard to identifying problems such as we did --

Interjection.

Mr Bisson: Sure, we did. That's what we did in our bill, and then in regard to the question of appeals are some of the process issues that I talked about.

To the minister I say this -- the minister turned around and he said, and this is a recurring theme every time the opposition raises something, it's a question -- that's cute. I like that. It's a Lankin delegate button he just gave me.

Anyway, the point is that every time the government ministers get up and when the opposition raises some issue that is contentious for the government, they say "fearmongering."

Minister, you are the one, by the very fact of your policy, who is dealing with fearmongering in this province. There are people in northern Ontario who are quite concerned and are quite fearful of what you're doing as a government when it comes to the question of firefighting in northern Ontario. We have diminished our capacity to do that because of your actions as a government and your actions as a minister, and you can't get away from it. You've shut down 17 of the centres, we have less capacity to fight fires, and people are being put in danger. You are causing the fear by your policy, not this opposition.

The Acting Speaker: Further debate? Seeing none, would the minister like to sum up?

Mr Stockwell: Wrap up.

The Acting Speaker: Wrap up, if you prefer, member for Etobicoke West. Would you like to wrap up?

Hon Mr Hodgson: Very much, Madam Speaker. In the interests of time -- we have a long evening ahead of us -- I think we've had a full debate on this.

The Acting Speaker: Mr Hodgson has moved second reading of Bill 52. Is it the pleasure of the House that the motion carry?

All those in favour of the motion will please say "aye."

Those opposed will please say "nay."

In my opinion, the ayes have it.

Mr Ed Doyle (Wentworth East): It's my understanding that we have unanimous consent to delay this until after question period on Monday, June 24.

The Acting Speaker: Agreed? Agreed.

1940

CROWN FOUNDATIONS ACT, 1996 / LOI DE 1996 SUR LES FONDATIONS DE LA COURONNE

Ms Bassett, on behalf of Mr Eves, moved second 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.

Ms Isabel Bassett (St Andrew-St Patrick): Bill 71, the Crown Foundations Act, 1996, allows for 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 for crown foundation status, such as the National Ballet of Canada, the Canadian Opera Company, the Toronto Symphony Orchestra, the Shaw Festival and the Stratford Festival.

As the government continues to restructure, every organization in this province must look to new ways of raising funds. We are very much aware of the financial needs of public institutions, of hospitals and cultural institutions, just as they are aware of the government's limited resources at this time.

Although we don't have the economic flexibility to continue to increase public funding to these institutions, we can give them the legislative tools they need to raise additional funds by encouraging public donations. Bill 71 is one of those tools. The Crown Foundations Act will give public institutions an essential tool to attract major gifts and donations from individuals and the private sector.

Crown foundations provide incentives to donors to make large donations relative to their annual income. Although tax incentives do not influence whether or not a person gives, they do influence how much a person gives. By giving to a crown foundation, donors will be able to claim a tax credit of up to 100% of the value of their gift up to the level of their annual net income. For donations to a charitable foundation, donors can only claim tax credits for gifts of up to 50% of their annual net income.

In short, by donating to a crown foundation rather than to a charitable foundation, donors will be able to claim a much larger tax credit for large gifts relative to their net income. This encourages people to make larger donations.

The bottom line is that crown foundations work. You only have to look to Ontario universities to see evidence of that. Since crown foundations were established for universities in 1992 by the NDP government, 17 Ontario universities have set up their own crown foundations. Many have already raised million of dollars from individuals and the private sector, money that in some cases would probably not have been given were it not for the crown foundation.

For example, in my own riding of St Andrew-St Patrick, the University of Toronto has raised more than $40 million through its crown foundation. Almost $24 million of this is in cash donations, including an individual donation of $10 million. Much of this money will be used for research and education in the university's five teaching hospitals.

The crown foundation also received a gift of 860 acres of land in the Oak Ridges moraine, known as Joker's Hill. This ecologically sensitive area will be used by students of earth sciences and those in the botany department as well.

The University of Western Ontario has also benefited from its crown foundation by raising more than $6 million this year alone, including its new business school, the Richard Ivy school of business.

These are only two examples, but there are many more. But one thing is for certain. Both the University of Toronto and the University of Western Ontario feel strongly that these donations would not have been received if it had not been for crown foundations.

One of the main reasons for expanding crown foundations to include hospitals and cultural institutions is to level the playing field with universities. Since they are all competing for scarce charitable dollars, allowing only universities to have crown foundations puts hospitals at a major disadvantage. Just ask any hospital administrator.

Expanding crown foundations to include other publicly funded institutions will also help make them more competitive with provinces across Canada which have already given crown foundations to hospitals, which are attracting donations from here in Ontario.

Currently, there is a greater tax incentive for Ontarians to make large donations to hospitals in British Columbia and Manitoba because Ontario's hospitals do not yet have crown foundations. When an Ontario donor gives money to a hospital outside Ontario, we all lose. Ontario taxpayers lose tax revenue from a gift that is not even benefiting an Ontario institution and hospitals lose out on money that they so desperately need. Bill 71 will not only put hospitals and cultural institutions on a level playing field with universities, but it will work to keep Ontario's charitable dollars right here in Ontario to help support public institutions for the benefit of all Ontarians.

While this government initiative is a positive step, we fully realize that this legislation is not a panacea and certainly is not a substitute for provincial support of our own hospitals and cultural institutions. But it does help. I can tell you that those public institutions which will qualify for a crown foundation are looking forward to the expeditious passage of this legislation. In fact, I've been absolutely overwhelmed by the amount of public support for this legislation from hospitals, cultural organizations and libraries right across the province.

I have met and spoken with representatives from over 50 public institutions in Ontario, from small, regional organizations like the Buckhorn library and the Fort Frances library to large provincial institutions such as the Art Gallery of Ontario, the Hospital for Sick Children and the Ontario Cancer Treatment and Research Foundation, which all support crown foundations. Their support in fact is unanimous. I have yet to receive even one phone call or letter against in any way the concept of crown foundations.

The Ontario Hospital Association and the Association for Healthcare Philanthropy have been strongly advocating this legislation since the university crown foundations was established in 1992, and they are not alone. The list of supporters goes on and on. In fact, just last week, the new president of the Ontario Hospital Association, David MacKinnon, said that he is pleased with the legislation because it "will put hospitals on a level playing field with universities and cultural organizations in terms of being able to access significant donations for much-needed infrastructure and research initiatives in the Ontario hospital system."

During our consultations, both hospitals and cultural institutions told us that they wanted flexibility to establish their own individual crown foundations. Because identity with a particular institution is integral to an organization's ability to raise charitable donations, most institutions prefer individual foundations to the central crown foundation used elsewhere. Bill 71 will allow hospitals and certain cultural institutions to establish their own crown foundation.

In most cases, setting up and administering a crown foundation will cost public institutions very little or no money at all. This is because crown foundations are not intended to replace an institution's charitable foundation. A crown foundation is nothing more than a legal mechanism for processing large donations relative to a person's income.

A donation to an institution that is less than 50% of the donor's annual net income will continue to be processed as a charitable gift rather than as a gift to the crown, because the federal government, in its last budget, now allows donors to claim tax credits for charitable donations of up to 50% of their annual net income. While the number of taxpayers who are able to make generous donations is not large, experience with Ontario universities which already have crown foundations shows that the value of their gifts can be very significant in individual cases.

1950

Those who don't support crown foundations may argue that expanding crown foundations to include other public organizations will cost too much money. But when other provinces around us are introducing crown foundations for their own public institutions, can we afford to lag behind? Clearly, the answer is no.

Besides, we are not losing money because most large donors would not be making these gifts without this more favourable tax treatment. Depending on the size of a donation to a crown foundation, the cost to the province in lost personal income taxes will range from 10 to 22 cents for every dollar donated. On a donation of $1 million, the province would lose $100,000 to $220,000 in lost tax revenues from a $1-million gift that it will be receiving.

The bottom line is that everyone benefits from crown foundations -- donors, the public institutions receiving the donations, but most of all the taxpayers who rely on the services and programs offered by these institutions.

I fully support crown foundations and I thank you.

The Acting Speaker (Ms Marilyn Churley): Questions or comments?

Mr James J. Bradley (St Catharines): It was interesting to hear the member make that speech this evening. I know she is very much committed to this bill and has looked forward to its presentation.

I will have an opportunity a little later on to spend a little extra time discussing the bill and the ramifications of it. I want to indicate that you may not be surprised to know that the opposition will be supporting this bill. We are not always those who oppose everything. We like to look at each piece of legislation as it comes forward, judge it on its merits and then make a decision.

Unlike the previous bill, where we will not have the regulations and the standards for the aggregates and petroleum acts that we talked about, this does not have too many regulations to go with it. They're not the kind of regulations, in any event, if they need regulations, that require a good deal of public scrutiny and hearings.

On that basis, we feel it is a supportable bill. I will get into the details as to why we're having this bill presented in the Legislature a little later on in the evening. But I wanted to get it on the record initially that there will be support for this legislation.

Certainly, for those who wish to make donations, this will make it easier for certain institutions to be able to receive more money. Heaven knows they'll need that more money because of the considerable cutbacks that are taking place as a result of the policies of this government. It will nevertheless allow that opportunity.

We in the opposition would certainly not want to debate this bill at great length because when it is supportable, there's no need to go into detailed scrutiny of the bill, but we feel it would be necessary to point out why it is being brought forward and its real ramifications for the province. I'll be happy to do that, as may some of my colleagues, as we get on into the evening.

Mr Gilles Bisson (Cochrane South): I'm going to take a grand total of two minutes on this bill by way of this response. I support what the government is doing in regard to the bill. What it's going to do for those agencies is offset to a certain extent the damage the government is doing by the cuts to these agencies. I would only say that all of this would not be necessary if the government were not attacking these agencies by removing, in some cases, almost all of their funding through the cuts it's effecting in its guise to pay for the tax cut.

I will support this bill -- I can't speak for other members of my caucus -- on the basis that we've got to do something to help these agencies deal with the fiscal conditions the government is setting on them. This is certainly a better alternative to nothing, but the government is really shirking its responsibility when it comes to those agencies by pulling the funding.

The Acting Speaker: Further questions or comments? Seeing none, the member for St Andrew-St Patrick, you can sum up.

Ms Bassett: I have no further comment. I would like to thank the honourable members on the opposite side for their support. I think all of Ontario will benefit.

The Acting Speaker: Further debate?

Mr Bradley: I see the clock is not to 90 minutes yet. There it is; one hour and 30 minutes. I do not intend to speak for an hour and 30 minutes.

The Crown Foundations Act, as it is referred to, is welcome in that the circumstances facing various institutions in this province are desperate at this time. I would refer to this bill as a conscience bill; that is, we would not be seeing this bill coming forward, I suspect, if the government had not cut so deeply the budgets of public institutions across this province.

The bill allows the establishment of crown foundations by public hospitals. If we all think of the hospitals in our part of the province -- I think particularly of St Catharines as a good example -- we find out that our hospitals are being cut back considerably. Even the MRI, which I used to raise in the House almost weekly, that will be approved or has been approved for a couple of years down the line for the St Catharines General Hospital will cost the provincial government very little. The local community will have to have $5 million in terms of making the adjustments at the hospital and purchasing the equipment, and then will receive only $150,000 per year for the operation of this machine. Of course, it will cost considerably more money to operate it. St Catharines General Hospital will have to find that money out of a budget that is being cut by some $9 million.

When we see these cuts to public hospitals across the province, we understand why the province is going to bring forward a bill which it hopes will somewhat alleviate some of the concerns of the hospitals. A little later on, I'll get into why this bill will make only a marginal difference.

This of course will be supported by public hospitals, the libraries, the Ontario Cancer Treatment and Research Foundation, the Ontario Arts Council, the Royal Ontario Museum, the Art Gallery of Ontario, the Royal Botanical Gardens and so on, and other public institutions which may qualify, such as the National Ballet, the Canadian Opera Company, the Toronto Symphony Orchestra, the Shaw Festival and the Stratford Festival. They all may qualify to a certain extent, but I'll explain why this legislation makes so little difference. It doesn't mean it isn't supportable. If it makes any difference at all, then we believe it's worthy of support. But the cut has been so great in all of these public institutions, the moneys that were flowing to them to carry out the responsibilities have been almost totally removed.

I happen to have the budget. This is Gerry Phillips's copy of the budget. It's got some notes in it; it's dog-eared; it's been well read. Mr Phillips, who is the member for Scarborough-Agincourt, the Liberal finance critic, indicated to me that I should look on page 68 of the budget so that I could see that there were a considerable number of cuts. I look at culture alone, because some of the institutions that are described in here can be looked at in terms of culture.

In 1992-93, the expenditure in citizenship, culture and recreation was $94 million. Do you know what it's going to be next year? It's going to be $6 million. These institutions have $88 million less money to deal with.

2000

Mr Rob Sampson (Mississauga West): Wait a minute; you skipped a year.

Mr Bradley: I'll go down further years. The member for Mississauga West is right. The member for Mississauga West wishes me to go down the list. In the interim year, 1995-96 -- well, the actual 1994-95 was $42 million and the plan this year calls for $6 million. So you can see from its expenditures this government obviously does not have a commitment to culture. Its conscience is bothering it, so it figured out: "What can we do to give some indication we're supportive? Why don't we pass the Crown Foundations Act?"

Then I look at education and the capital for education, because educational institutions are mentioned in here. Libraries, for instance, can be helpful to education. I see the capital budget in 1995-96 was to be $576 million. That's down to $222 million, a huge drop in the commitment to education.

Then health, where of course there are health bodies here which require capital funding, and that is being dropped down to $167 million this year. Right in the budget you bring forward is the evidence that you are not funding these institutions appropriately, so you're going to bring in the Crown Foundations Act in the hope that that those in the private sector who wish to make donations will be doing so.

I can understand some of those cuts. I should tell the member for Mississauga, I can understand some of those cuts because of the tax cut, the 30% tax cut which will benefit Trevor Eyton far more than it will the average person in the city of St Catharines, or Conrad Black or any of the other rich people, Chris Stockwell and others who are people of means. As a result of this 30% tax cut, you are going to have to borrow some $13 billion to make up for the loss of revenue and you have to pay interest on that. So over the period of time of your term of office, you will add to the provincial debt some $22 billion.

Mr Chris Stockwell (Etobicoke West): On a point of order, Mr Speaker: I notice that you're reviewing the orders of the day because you're probably as perplexed as I about what bill he is talking to. I think we should review that.

The Acting Speaker (Mr Gilles E. Morin): I thank you very much for your help. The member for St Catharines.

Mr Bradley: It is a budget bill. This Speaker is quite stringent in his application of the rules, so he knows, he is very familiar with a budget bill and the Crown Foundations Act is a budget bill.

As I was saying, why do we have this bill? Because the government has to get some money somewhere. One place it's going to get it is video lottery terminals, despite the fact that the member for York-Mackenzie, I know, will be opposing the bill, video lottery terminals, and the reason then we will have to have this bill is because the government is losing all the revenue with the tax cut which benefits the wealthiest and most powerful people in our society the most. So we bring forward this piece of legislation.

Interjection.

Mr Bradley: I'm trying to hear the member who is out of his seat who is trying to get a point across to me. It was?

Mr Peter L. Preston (Brant-Haldimand): You got all those bad things in one sentence.

The Acting Speaker: There is a question-and-answer period afterwards. Take advantage of that. The member for St Catharines, I would remind you to debate Bill 71.

Mr Bradley: Thank you. I shouldn't have been distracted by others in the House. But I do want to say that as you look across this province at the cutbacks that are taking place, you can understand why the government is bringing forward this conscience legislation. Their consciences must be indeed bothering them.

Mr Stockwell: We have no conscience.

Mr Bradley: The member for Etobicoke West interjects. I won't say what he said because he's a good friend of mine and he was only fooling when he said it.

I want to say that you have cut in every community. Let me tell you who's complaining about that. Not only the people who are directly affected like the patients in hospitals and the people who work in hospitals, but talk to your architect friends, talk to the engineers, talk to various people who have done public sector work over the years and you will find out that these people are now recognizing the cost of the tax cut in terms of the cuts you're making to public expenditures in this province. I have two members going by who are I know very interested in this and are not going for a cigarette, because it's illegal to smoke in this building.

I've mentioned hospitals because we all know the difficulty with hospitals, far fewer beds, far fewer services are available, but what you've done very successfully, and I must give you political credit, though I don't say it with any degree of praise, is you've intimidated those that you've cut.

The member for Windsor-Riverside the other day was describing a situation this week in his own riding where the government of Ontario had cut the expenditure for a courthouse considerably, totally downsized it, there was virtually no provincial money in it, and he had the mayor and council almost standing on their heads praising it. If a previous government had not given them exactly what they wanted, we would have heard from them for weeks and months and there would have been headlines in the local newspapers. Here we find a situation where you've intimidated them enough that they will be quiet.

The same with the hospitals. I was amused the other day because I picked up my own local newspaper, and they're cutting 220 jobs in a hospital -- and the hospitals are going to be funded by this foundation -- and the director of the hospital, the president of the hospital says, "We're going to be able to give you better service." I don't think too many people will buy that. I suspect the board of governors and the people who work in the hospital know full well that the service provided cannot be the same with 220 fewer employees, but they're totally intimidated. They're afraid you'll close the whole hospital down or cut even further if they complain about what this government does. So you're engaged in intimidation.

The district health councils are now engaged in an activity that they would never have been engaged in before. They would never have accepted the kinds of cuts which are contemplated by your policies, but you've intimidated them. The suggestion is, "If you don't be quiet about this, then you'll get even less money." Of course that is not good public policy and it's not fair and that's why we have this act.

Mrs Helen Johns (Huron): They have a budget for three years. How can they have less money?

Mr Bradley: The member interjects. The Speaker doesn't want me to respond, because he says there will be some time later on, but I will be happy to answer any question she might have on that occasion.

Mrs Johns: I can give you the information about it.

The Acting Speaker: The member for Huron, order, please.

Mr Bradley: No doubt the government of course provides for its members the propaganda. We in the opposition have to do our own research. The one good thing about being on the government benches is this: All you have to do on the government side is move your lips, because all the material will be provided for you. In the opposition you actually have to go digging, and I know the member for Etobicoke-Lakeshore is aware of this. He has sat on both sides of the House.

In fact, Mr Speaker -- I know you would agree with me on this -- I used to rely on his publication from the Urban Development Institute to bring me up to date on what the developers were thinking in the province about various policies. I read it. I didn't always agree with it, but I read that publication. So government members do get that information, but we have to rely on people such as the member for Etobicoke-Lakeshore in his previous incarnation for our information.

Let me tell you of how little consequence this bill is. This is not anything from the Liberal research. This is the compendium of the Crown Foundations Act. This information is provided by the government to us. What we're finding out is that the federal budget changes are the real changes that have taken place. It says right in your own document:

"The 1996 federal budget proposed a number of changes to the tax treatment of charitable giving, starting in 1996, to improve the incentive for making `major gifts.' The general limit for claiming donations increases under the federal budget from 20% to 50% of the net income for the year. This limit is increased to 100% for gifts of capital property that has appreciated in value and for gifts by deceased taxpayers."

What they are pointing out is that there are very few people who are going to be any better off; for 99/100ths of the people of this province it will make no change, but that one small segment it will, and that's why we're prepared to help out by supporting this. But I don't think this government should be bragging about this legislation, because it makes so little difference and because you've already made so many cuts.

2010

Again, in your own document kindly provided in the compendium to the Crown Foundations Act by the government, it says the following: "Impact on donors to crown foundations" -- this is the nub of it here. This really tells of how much consequence this bill is. It says:

"These federal budget changes are expected to close the gap between the after-tax cost of gifts to charities and the crown or crown foundations for over 99.9% of donors. There will be no difference in tax savings between gifts to charities and gifts to crown foundations for taxpayers whose cash contributions do not exceed 50% of their net income and bequests to charities will produce the same tax savings as bequests to crown foundations."

But I go back to the most telling line in here that probably those who haven't read the bill would not be aware of, and I'll repeat it to you: "These federal budget changes are expected to close the gap between the after-tax cost of gifts to charities and the crown or crown foundations for over 99.9% of donors."

So this bill in effect affects 0.1%, not even 1%, 0.1%. It's nice, I guess. It's better than a kick in the shins, but it really is nothing mammoth. We won't see a long debate tonight. We won't be going to midnight. We won't be filibustering. We won't be condemning this in the press tomorrow. We won't be asking a question in the House on it. We won't be making any statements, because it's of such little consequence. Nice to have. We will support it. We will applaud at the end as it goes through. We'll urge that the government proclaim it quickly and we'll rejoice with those institutions that believe they are going to benefit from it.

I just want to point out that in the total outlook of the entire budgetary picture in Ontario and the private sector, this is of so little consequence that one wonders why the government would even have the audacity to come forward with it and be subjected to the ridicule that is found within the notes provided by the government. They're not being malicious. This isn't a brown envelope. This is stating facts. That's what we expect the public service to do and they've done that. It's a straight fact contained in this bill. It's not to embarrass anybody, and I thank the members of the public service who have provided the compendium to this act.

Interjection.

Mr Bradley: The member for Grey-Owen Sound I know is interested in this bill, and I'm looking forward tomorrow -- Mr Speaker, you will be as well -- to the Owen Sound Sun Times, because the member had a press conference in his riding today where he was commenting on the work of the Minister of Natural Resources. I will look forward with interest to that tomorrow. It's too bad the House will not be sitting for a question period. It may have been helpful. But I know he's interested in this bill and he would recognize of how little consequence it is in the total picture of things.

This was trumpeted with a lot of fanfare by the government when it was introduced in the Legislature and, as I say, some institutions are going to do well by it.

Bill 71 will not result in any new funding for new facilities or services. It would only partially offset the Tory funding cuts, the cuts of the Reform-Conservative Party that we have in this province. The cuts being implemented by the Reform-Conservative Party are forcing hospitals, libraries and cultural agencies to be more reliant on public donations. Bill 71 will be welcomed by these institutions, but it is the Reform-Tory spending cuts that are driving the need to increase this fund-raising.

If you wonder why I say "Reform-Tory" or "Reform-Conservative," it was because I read somewhere the other day in the newspaper that the Premier said they were to campaign for either neither of the parties, or they could choose whomever they wanted to campaign for in the federal election. It wasn't necessarily the Conservatives.

I suspect the member for Grey-Owen Sound has a membership in the Reform Party and squired around his riding Preston Manning at one time last year. But that doesn't have anything to do with the bill and I know the Speaker will want me to speak directly to the legislation.

The Reform-Tory government has decided that core government services, such as hospitals, colleges and universities and libraries must now be funded by donations rather than by taxpayers, and so they are reliant on the goodwill of people to make donations for public institutions which we in Canada, at least -- I know in the United States it's different and I know in New Jersey, which you like very much, or Mississippi or wherever it is -- Tennessee, whatever you happen to admire in the US -- I know that Newt Gingrich and Bob Dole and Senator Heflin -- no, perhaps not Senator Heflin; he's in the other party, although he is a southern Democrat so he may be a little more conservative, but I know Strom Thurmond, for instance, and our famous Strom Thurmond, by the way, will be 100 when he finishes his term, if he is re-elected this time, so there is hope for some who wish to hang on.

For example, hospitals will need to raise more funding in charitable donations to cover the $1.3 billion in operating cuts and $82 million in capital cuts being implemented by this Reform-Conservative government. The Reform-Tories' decision to increase tax credits for donations --

Mr Garry J. Guzzo (Ottawa-Rideau): Southerners tell the truth. Tell us about Sheila Copps.

The Acting Speaker: The member for Ottawa-Rideau. Order, please.

Mr Sean G. Conway (Renfrew North): The judge.

Mr Bradley: -- through crown foundations only increases competition between these agencies for limited contribution sources. This is what is happening out there.

Why do you refer to him as "the judge"? I heard the member referred to as "the judge." I should ignore that, should I, Mr Speaker? Thank you.

Now, what's happening out there in the fund-raising sector is this: Now that the Tory government has cut so much out there, everybody is competing for the limited amount of corporate money that may be available and private sector money available. I noticed in St Catharines, I was just reading this today, "Dwindling donations greet Salvation Army." Let me tell you where it is happening. It says here: "In a day and age when a lot of people are out of work, and with government cutbacks, they turn to charities such as the Salvation Army. We have to be there to help them."

However, what they're finding out is that there is a lot of competition for this money. They had set a goal of $257,500 for the May Red Shield campaign. I'm very supportive of that and I certainly encourage people to be involved in that. But they're finding out that it's much harder to raise money. One of the reasons is that there's so much competition.

It says, "The disappointing drive can be blamed, at least partially, on poor local economic conditions." And I recognize that with all the layoffs and closings we've had in our area, despite the fact that I heard from the Premier that if the Conservatives got elected, all kinds of new jobs would be created in the Niagara region and others who had their jobs here already would surely want to stay. We found exactly the opposite and I could list -- I will later on in another speech --

Mr Guzzo: We will give you a tax cut.

Mr Bradley: I can say to the member for -- where? Ottawa-Rideau, the businessman from Ottawa-Rideau --

Mr Conway: The judge.

Mr Bradley: The judge, as it is said, that there are people who will be getting the tax break, of course, but you know that the richest people in society will get the biggest tax break. So if I were the president of one of the major banks in Canada I would be applauding much more, for I've often said in the Albany Club the champagne glasses will be tinkling as that tax cut comes out.

But I don't know whether that would be so in the Optimist Club, where people there make far less money and are people of modest means, for the most part. But I'm sure in the York Club and the Albany Club and the St Catharines Club and the golf and country club, the Nipissing Golf Club, all of them will be quite happy with this particular tax break.

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Here's the interesting part of it when you talk about this fund-raising. It says here: "Business contributions have been disappointingly low. Bulmer" -- that is, Major Bulmer of the Salvation Army -- "noted, `Direct mail contributions from the business community have been one of the steepest areas of decline this year.'" Is that because people don't like the Salvation Army or they don't support it? No, it's not. It's because everybody is now seeking that funding, because you have dried the well for everybody.

We have Bethlehem Place in St Catharines, which is a second-stage housing project, highly successful, great support from people of all political affiliations who were there when the ground was broken, when a building was opened and subsequent to that. All the funding was taken away for the counselling services. A little bit has been restored by the minister responsible for women's issues, but they have had to go out to the community to get even more money.

People want to be generous -- businesses want to be generous, individuals want to be generous -- except that everybody is asking for that money, all the organizations. The St Catharines Association for Community Living has to go out for more money now to meet its obligations and responsibilities. Go down the line -- all of them have to. That's why it's harder to raise funds.

If the government thinks it's going to get a large influx of funding as a result of this particular bill, it will find out that's not the case. If it's because of the federal budget, which looked after 99.9% of these donations, then there may be some money coming in, but I emphasize to you how difficult it's going to be to raise those funds because of the competition for the limited dollars that are available. Unless a business is booming and the people responsible for the business are particularly benevolent, you're not necessarily going to get as much money as you think.

We are here to support the bill. We will be here to support it. I'm delighted for the member for St Andrew-St Patrick, who championed this bill with her own colleagues and is very committed. I want to personally be generous in my congratulations to her. However, I do not think it will have the impact you people believe and I think the reason for the bill is because of the drastic cutbacks which you have initiated across this province.

The Acting Speaker: Questions or comments? Further debate? The member for Renfrew North.

Mr Conway: I want to join my colleague the member for St Catharines in saying a few words about Bill 71, the genesis of which I have some understanding of. Like my colleague from St Catharines, I want to congratulate the member for St Andrew-St Patrick for bringing forward the bill. As my colleague has said, we in the Liberal Party will be supporting the bill for the reasons that have been articulated.

It is a good opportunity for us to reflect upon some of the collateral questions. I am not going to get into the issue of tax policy to the extent my colleague did except to say that it is a fair observation to make that when one contemplates a substantially reduced role for government and when one looks at the electoral manifesto of the current party in government when it talked about core funding and core programs, it's quite obvious that there is intended to be a retreat from a number of the commitments that have been entered into by provincial governments here in Ontario in much of the modern period. That's been before the electorate, it's been adjudicated and I'm not here to complain about that. But there is no doubt, as my colleague from St Catharines has indicated, that the expectation is that we will have a smaller government doing fewer things and that there will be an increased expectation that individuals and private organizations will pick up some of the support that had been previously provided by government.

Over the course of my time in the Legislature, I've had some experience with this particular issue. I remember in my time at the Ministry of Education, and in government generally, a growing pressure back in the 1980s for this very kind of legislation. There were some modest steps contemplated to address the concern we heard at that time.

One of the most interesting experiences I've had here in 21 years was an experience 15 years ago on the legislative committee rewriting the legislation governing the McMichael collection, about which I knew not very much prior to that experience, although like almost all members, I'm sure, and countless hundreds of thousands of Ontarians and Canadians, I've had the pleasure on several occasions of visiting that very beautiful collection at Kleinburg. I was struck then, as I have been since, by the differences of opinion, the bitterness, the recrimination that developed around that relationship.

I'm not here to lay blame. There was clearly some misunderstanding between those people who arranged that act of very considerable philanthropy and the Ontario government headed by John Robarts. The donation was made, the foundation, as it were, was established in about 1965, and so by the time the committee of which I was a member came to deal with this matter, I think 1981 or 1982, Reuben Baetz, known to my friend Judge Guzzo, was the minister. It was an unbelievably unhappy situation. I read now in the press, in the last couple of weeks, that a legal action is being contemplated or has been initiated. It's very unfortunate and it struck me that it is not a given that just because government receives a substantial bequest, its efficient and effective and non-controversial management is a sure thing.

A former member of this Legislature, George P. Fulford, maker of pink pills for pale people, upon his family's -- the Fulford estate at Brockville has, as I recall, come into the control and ownership of the Ontario government through the Ontario Heritage Foundation. The stories I've heard in and around Brockville about our receipt of that spectacular architectural monument, residence, are something I'm sure my colleague from Brockville and Leeds-Grenville could better explain to some of his colleagues in government than I.

The Firestone collection in Ottawa, as my friend the honourable judge will know, has been the subject as well of some very interesting discussion over the years involving the city and certainly the province.

I raise these cases simply to indicate that we have, certainly in my time, been in receipt of some very considerable bequests in the public interest from some very philanthropic Canadians living in Ontario. Their management has presented something of a mixed blessing to Her Majesty's Ontario government. I would expect that as we go forward now with a more systematic approach to these matters, through the enactment of the crown foundations legislation, we will have learned by some of those experiences.

I should also comment -- and I don't know the particulars of this. I have been following in recent times the very acrimonious -- maybe that's not the right word, but I have been following some of the public discussion and complaint of the family of the late Floyd Chalmers. It's hard to imagine a more philanthropic family in the Toronto area, contributed millions upon millions of private dollars to the arts, and now, somewhat reminiscent for me -- and I'm no expert and I certainly don't travel in the circles of people like my friend the judge from Ottawa-Rideau and his colleague the member for St Andrew-St Patrick -- but, boy, there seems to be very deep-seated dissatisfaction on behalf of some of the children and some of the family of the late Floyd Chalmers with the management of those dollars. I don't know the story, but it's unusual to see -- at least it is for me in the Ontario I've known -- the kind of public acrimony around fairly long-standing or reasonably well-established charitable foundations after a fashion.

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I don't know, as I say, what's going on. I worry that the Chalmers case particularly may be sending a signal to those who intended to be giving, by virtue of the enactment of Bill 71, that there's just something in the air at Queen's Park that perhaps should make you give pause. That may be an unfair assessment but, I'll tell you, if I were in the ministry of culture, or whatever we call it now, I would be concerned about the publicity, particularly that the Chalmers case has generated in recent weeks.

I'm sure I only know part of the story. One of the fascinating things about that legislative inquiry into what was going on at Kleinburg was that, of course, we really only got part of the story, and the more of the story you learned -- Morley, were you around for that? -- some day it deserves a chapter in a book.

The memory -- if I can digress for just a moment -- that I have of that was the cognoscenti in the arts community -- I remember the Davis government. I think there was a request of the then government, headed by Mr Davis, for something like $10 million or $12 million to upgrade Kleinburg in some good way. The cabinet, in its judgement, decided that the request was a good one but, in fact, they were only going to offer about 50% of what was requested. The thing that I found absolutely stunning was that the cognoscenti who ran the place -- and I don't here mean Bob and Signe McMichael -- the arts crowd decided: "What would those country bumpkins down at Queen's Park know? We will spend the $10 million and to hell with them." It was the most cavalier, "What would they know?"

Anyway, it was a fascinating little experience where I'm sure I was not --

Mr Terence H. Young (Halton Centre): On a point of order, Mr Speaker: I believe we were debating Bill 71. The speaker's on a tangent. I don't even know what he's talking about and I'm listening.

The Acting Speaker: I believe that perhaps he makes the same mistakes that all of you have done so far, and I keep an eye and an ear open to listen attentively to make sure the debate is on Bill 71. I'm sure the member for Renfrew North will abide by that rule.

Mr Conway: I appreciate that, and I certainly would not expect the member for Halton wherever to understand what it is I'm talking about by reference to precedent. He would be the last person, perhaps second only to the member for Scarborough East, to understand the point I'm trying to make.

Mr Young: On a point of personal privilege, Mr Speaker: The comments are not necessary. Personal insults are not necessary.

The Acting Speaker: This is not a point of personal privilege. Take your seat.

Mr Conway: I simply make reference to a number of, I think, related cases where the philanthropic instincts of the people of Ontario have been well demonstrated and where we've had some difficulty. I raise these examples because certainly ministers in governments have had to wrestle with them. I felt a lot of sympathy for Reuben Baetz in 1981-82, caught, as he was, trying to administer a very substantial gift to the province. But, quite frankly, the arrangement that appeared to have been entered into by Mr Robarts and Mr McMichael in the mid-1960s failed to contemplate the kind of growth and complexity that was bound to happen because the gallery, as we know, became exceptionally popular and successful.

Like my colleagues --

Mr Morley Kells (Etobicoke-Lakeshore): It was Bruce McCaffrey.

Mr Conway: Was it Bruce? All right. Sorry. Thanks, Morley. I think there was a change of ministers in midstream.

The Acting Speaker: Please address the Chair.

Mr Conway: I think it comes as a surprise to a lot of members of the Legislature and to a lot of Ontarians to appreciate the extent to which there has been giving to art galleries and to universities and colleges and libraries etc.

So we do hope that there is going to be an increase in the giving. My friend from St Catharines indicated that the Niagara press suggests that in some cases the evidence today suggests that it may not be so. I'm confident, quite frankly, that there will be --

Mr Bert Johnson (Perth): A little passion, Sean.

Mr Conway: Listen, this is one of those subjects, I say to the member for Perth -- and he will represent Stratford. I don't know the history of the theatre --

Interjection.

The Acting Speaker: Order.

Mr Conway: There are a lot of very good things, particularly in the cultural community, that would not have happened had there not been very considerable generosity on the part of individuals and corporations to make it possible. Again, I don't want to be pedantic, but there's a very interesting piece that I wanted to read into the record, just in part, that I think raises another rather interesting question from another time about this very subject.

A very famous American commentator, Walter Lippmann, whom some of you will remember, wrote a fascinating piece upon the death of John D. Rockefeller. Rockefeller died -- and I can't remember the year. The article that I will refer to in passing is from Lippmann's very famous column, which in this case is a 1937 column. Rockefeller had died and he had left a fabulous fortune and in the course of amassing that fortune became not only the wealthiest person in America but certainly one of the most controversial people that America has ever produced. Fifty years after his death, I'm prepared perhaps even to cite his memory in giving my friend the Minister of Energy a hard time, as I did the other day, in some passing reference to "big oil."

I want to read a couple of passages from this article, which I think makes a very interesting point. This comes from one of the most prominent American liberals of this century. Reading from Mr Lippmann's column "Today and Tomorrow," May 25, 1937, entitled "Concerning Mr Rockefeller." Let me just read some of this:

"Though Mr John D. Rockefeller was...the most conspicuous of a group of fabulously rich men, his wealth was an historical accident. Only in America, and only in the period from the Civil War to the Great War, could such a fortune have been founded. Before he started his enterprises it was not possible to make so much money; before he died, it became the settled policy of this country that no man would be permitted to make so much money. He lived long enough to see the methods by which such a fortune can be accumulated outlawed by public opinion, forbidden by statute, and prevented by the tax laws."

Now it gets rather interesting: "The Rockefeller family have understood this very clearly. They have not pretended that their fortune represented the normal rewards of successful enterprise, and long ago they had ceased to regard it as their personal property. They have known that this fortune did not really belong to them, and that, accidentally, they were its temporary custodians.

"It has not been an easy task to make tolerable in a democracy the private administration of such a monstrous aggregation of wealth and power. Somehow the Rockefellers have succeeded, and in an age when sentiment has turned wholly against the private acquisition of so much wealth, they have no bitter enemies and very generally they are deeply respected.

"Perhaps one of the secrets of the Rockefellers' family reputation today is that in their philanthropy there has been none of the odour of conscience money. They have not sought to buy the goodwill of the mass of the American people by subsidizing obviously and easily popular schemes. On the contrary, they have devoted their endowments to supporting precisely those civilized needs which popular governments are most inclined to neglect."

He goes on in this vein, and it's a fascinating observation. Here is a very prominent liberal arguing a case for private philanthropy for those causes that popular government cannot be relied upon to support.

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Mr Stockwell: It's a good idea.

Mr Conway: My friend from Etobicoke says, "A good idea." It's certainly an interesting idea. When I see one of the largest churches in America threatening the Disney Corp because it doesn't like certain of its corporate policies, I realize that popular governments in the age in which we now find ourselves may find it extremely difficult to support the art gallery which might choose to sponsor an avant-garde display. I'm even old enough to remember the archer controversy.

If you look at what the Smithsonian Institute faced in the United States recently around its effort to present, 50 years after the fact, a more balanced view of Hiroshima, one of the most prestigious research and museum organizations in the world faced the wrath of Congress, the American Legion and much of the American population.

I think Mr Lippmann raises an interesting point and I rise tonight to support this bill not just because of the financial pressures that are out there, and I'm not here to sing the praises of the Rockefeller family, although it is interesting how many of us -- I live in a community where we have one of the old Carnegie libraries. How many people in Ontario know that Andrew Carnegie endowed the library in their town?

Mr Marcel Beaubien (Lambton): We've got one.

Mr Conway: There are many. As my friend Mr Bradley was observing, it may be quickly the case that if you live in Gloucester or Haliburton or perhaps even Rosedale you will have a better chance of securing money from Bill Gates or Conrad Black for your community library than from some cash-strapped government that does not wish to stare down the wrath of some group, some organization, local or national, that might just not like the kind of cultural agenda you wish to endorse or be seen to be endorsing. If you've ever lived through one of the book-burning phases -- I see the member for Huron is here. It reminds me of some controversies of perhaps before her time in that wonderful county, but I don't know how many of you have been through those: "My goodness, the library has what in it? Margaret Atwood? Margaret Laurence? Well, now, we'd better" --

Mr Stockwell: Margaret Birch.

Mr Conway: Listen, there was no controversy around Margaret Birch, surely.

There is a requirement that these educational and health and cultural organizations attract not just public money but private money. We are aware, I think, as the member for St Andrew-St Patrick indicated in her opening remarks, that there is a considerable opportunity there. I look at the bill and I see a number of provisions that I think to some reasonable degree protect the public interest.

I've got to tell you, I say to the parliamentary assistant, the member with the carriage of this bill, one concern I have -- and the older I get and the more I see of public institutions, and I'll be very specific; I look at hospitals -- I'm really struck by the ability of some very well intentioned subsets of individual communities to effectively take over a public institution and for all intents and purposes render it private, notwithstanding the Public Hospitals Act. This is not to say that these people do not do good work, but I've really been impressed by the number of our public institutions that have to a real extent become the private preserve of certain people in the community. I sometimes think, Harry, that when I leave this place I'm going to have to sit on a big block of ice for a number of years and bite my tongue so as not to show up again in a few places. They're all run by good people, but these are public facilities and the taxpayers of Rawdon and elsewhere have a right to some answers to some significant questions.

I go back to the experience I had with the people running the McMichael gallery 15 years ago, when Mr Davis and his cabinet granted only 50% or 60% of their request for upgrading money. They just took his passing advice: "We know better. We are the cultural glitterati, and what would Conway and his -- the poor people in Pembroke. I mean, we are their betters. We will do what needs to be done and we'll send the bill down there and they'll find a way."

Mr Stockwell: Yes. Right on.

Mr Conway: That was just my experience. Good people, well intentioned, but they were going to run the McMichael gallery and Bill Davis and Bruce McCaffrey could take the noon balloon to Rangoon.

I make the point that I hope that in establishing crown foundations, we don't create an environment where some very good, well-intentioned people say, "Well now, you know, I'm going to give a library 50,000 bucks or five million bucks."

Mr Bradley: However.

Mr Conway: "However, this is just private, you understand. We're not going to make any of this public, but that Stockwell, I don't want him on the board, and that Judge Guzzo, no, no, just too much of an inquisitive mind. I want Bradley and I want Hodgson and I want Kells and I want some acquiescence to a variety of things."

If you've ever had an experience, as I've had, executing a family estate, you've got some idea of the pleasures of managing or dealing with these impulses. I think the bill contains adequate provisions to protect against that, but in my experience we've got some public institutions that have been taken over by some very well intentioned individuals who really don't see that they have a mandate to explain what they're about and take into their confidence the broader community in any ongoing way. I hope that doesn't sound too uncharitable, because I have a couple of friends who fit into this category and I hope they don't necessarily read this Hansard.

Interjection.

Mr Conway: Well, you might be surprised.

The reason I cite the Lippmann reference is that I think there is the notion, and from his point of view the Rockefeller Foundation was the stellar example, of the disinterested, philanthropic commitment with a particular view to supporting those cultural and educational activities that no state Legislature or American Congress was likely to support.

A good bill, a good idea, I wish it well, because the public interest of Ontario requires it and will certainly benefit from its success.

The Acting Speaker: Question or comments? Further debate?

Mr Stockwell: Thank you for the opportunity to enter into this discussion. It's my maiden speech in this place on a --

Mr Sampson: Time's up.

Mr Stockwell: All right. Does someone have a Kleenex? Thanks.

First off I think what we should do -- the member for St Catharines and his crackerjack research division in the Liberal caucus both went down and reviewed some numbers that were needed for this debate. I'm not going to suggest the member for St Catharines was less than forthright in his dissertation, but I think we need some correction on the numbers he offered up as concrete factual data with respect to citizen, culture and recreation expenditures.

I have in my hand from the home office in Parry Sound the latest issue --

Mr Conway: The Toronto Islands bill, the latest edition.

Mr Stockwell: No, actually, Parry Sound, the finance minister's copy of the budget. The member for St Catharines went all the way back to 1992-93 to get the original number for the expenditures of citizenship and culture, and it was $94 million. He made quite a pitch to the people across this good province that we, the province of Ontario -- the royal "we" -- spent $94 million on citizenship and culture and --

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Mr Conway: That Nick Leluk left a real legacy, culture czar that he was.

Mr Stockwell: He was in corrections; that's right.

Mr Bradley: He was in culture for a few weeks.

The Acting Speaker: Order.

Mr Stockwell: Well, you're close; it started with a C.

Mr Conway: He was in culture for a few weeks.

Mr Stockwell: For a couple of weeks, was he? That's what I say about my friend from St Catharines with respect to culture and Fruit Bottom Yogurt.

But I digress. The amount spent in 1992-93 during the socialist regime was $94 million. He went all the way to 1996-97 and said, "Now they're only spending $6 million." I'm not going to deny to the people of this good province that there has been a reduction in spending in arts and culture; there has been. The member for St Andrew-St Patrick is probably the best person in this Legislature to give you the background and details on the expenditure programs, where they went down and how come etc, but I have in my collection of memories of this place a few explanatory notes to the member for St Catharines.

First and foremost, in 1992-93, again during the socialist regime, there was money in that budget for --

Mr Gilles Pouliot (Lake Nipigon): The socialist regime.

Mr Stockwell: The member's back; the member for Lake Nipigon is back.

Mr Sampson: Curvature of the earth.

Mr Stockwell: The curvature of the earth, yes.

Anyway, vis-à-vis 1992-93 to 1996-97 we had the failed ballet opera house included in that $94 million, and that was a whack of dough. That was a huge amount of money they were going to contribute, but they didn't build, they didn't contribute. The following year under the socialists they went from $94 million to $28 million.

Mr Bradley: No.

Mr Stockwell: Oh, yes. That was a big chunk of cash that was taken out of the cultural community, and the dilettantes from across the province of Ontario had to do without. It was the NDP who took a good chunk of that dough. I don't want to take any credit away from this crowd. When they did remove that money, there were some oohs and ahs about the province, mostly from the Liberal benches, as I recall, very few oohs, and there were no ahs from the Conservative benches. I know, because I sat in my place. In 1993-94, $28 million was expended; it's gone down to $6 million.

That seems to me to be a far cry from the member for St Catharines' original position that we've taken expenditures in culture from $94 million to $6 million, when in fact it went from $94 million under the NDP to $28 million and we've taken it down to $6 million.

Mr Pouliot: What have you got against philanthropy?

Mr Stockwell: Nothing.

I want to make a couple of comments on that. I don't want to go too far back and I know the member for Renfrew did speak or read at length about 1937, I believe, when the book was written about the Rockefellers.

What I want to talk about is from 1937 to today. There was in 1937 probably a different attitude to government and to expenditures of government dollars. There was a very different attitude in the society at large. I know just from my short term, when I was elected for some 15 years locally and then here at Queen's Park, there's been a change in what people expect from government.

Let's be very clear about what people expect from government. During those years in the 1980s, and I'm certain before that, people came to government for answers they never had come to government for before. As government became all things to all people, it had to expend money to provide for programs and services and expenditures it had never had in the past.

Many people saw this as a good thing, and I don't think that too many argue today about a lot of the programs and projects that were very worthy over those periods of time that government got into, but the one difficulty government faced, and society did also, is that the line became blurred between what government should be doing and what the private sector should be doing. Culture is a good example.

As a member of Metropolitan Toronto council, it was not too many years ago when there wasn't a nickel spent on culture in Metropolitan Toronto -- not a nickel.

Mr Guzzo: It shows.

Mr Stockwell: The member from Ottawa says it shows. Obviously they took money from culture in Ottawa.

In a very short period of time the cultural community started going to government for assistance. They sold the assistance on the premise of providing dollars invested in the community from tourism, program initiatives, ticket sales and restaurant spinoffs, which are probably noble and reasonable things, but what became very important was the cost to government. The cost to government grew exponentially year over year, to the point that in my last years at Metropolitan Toronto council millions and millions of dollars were contributed to cultural activity. They were contributed to small theatres, the philharmonic, the ballet and opera. These kinds of dollars were spent in the 1980s and further but were never ever contributed in the past by governments.

The member for St Andrew-St Patrick does this province a service because we're beginning to realize as a society that government simply can't continue to fund programs that they are insisting be funded in each specific community.

Mr Pouliot: Blame the opposition for not being in cabinet.

Mr Stockwell: I blame not the opposition. I would not blame the member for Lake Nipigon for anything his government did, because I know your involvement.

The problem in the 1990s is that people in my community are coming to me and talking about education and health care and social services. The concerns they're bringing to the table don't seem to surround those other services that government has invested huge numbers of dollars in in the past years. Culture comes to mind. Health care is the most important to them, education's important, but culture isn't one of the issues. They don't come into my office and say, "You know what we need? We need a couple of more playhouses in Etobicoke," or, "We need to fund this program in Etobicoke that allows the philharmonic to succeed."

As times get more difficult, government has more difficulty raising revenue to spend on programs such as this in the culture vein. What happens over time is that the people who used to sponsor these very important programs, and I don't say they're not --

Mr Bradley: Libraries.

Mr Stockwell: True enough, libraries. I'm not suggesting those would be the ones they've taken, but these people who used to support these programs are simply squeezed out because government then becomes the person, the being that supplies all programs to all people. It's not that they're not philanthropic. It's not that they're not looking to provide a service for their community or to provide money or to volunteer. What happens is that when government starts funding these programs, they're not necessary any more and you stifle people's initiative to become involved in community works, in good projects, in cultural diversity.

Mr Pouliot: You're talking thousands and we're talking millions.

Mr Stockwell: You know what? I say to the member for Lake Nipigon, who says we're talking millions --

Mr Pouliot: You go and raise a million bucks. Ask Isabel to raise a million bucks.

The Acting Speaker: The member for Lake Nipigon, order, please.

Mr Stockwell: -- I know at first hand the power of communities to raise money for worthy projects. They can do it and they have done it in the past. They were willing to do it in the future, but each time the government crowds out the private sector or the opportunity for people to contribute, they no longer feel the need to contribute. They blunt that spirit.

Mr Bradley: The Tories are taking up all the time.

Mr Stockwell: I accept a lot of criticism from the member for St Catharines about taking up time, but I hardly suggest you're the one who should be loud in that heckle at somebody.

I wanted to get on the record. You know what? I've thought about this for a number of years. I've thought that government -- municipally, provincially and federally -- has infiltrated the programs and initiatives to such an extent that it has squeezed out the people who want to contribute to their communities via investment of time or money. It's squeezed out people who want to contribute maybe through ego -- I'm not sure -- to get their name on the program. Who cares? They invested the money to these community groups.

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Over time we've done a disservice because we've tried to be all things to all people. I recall vividly: You just came into Metro council and if you said we looked nice, you got a million bucks, and I think that's a disservice. So I'm willing to support this. I'm glad the Liberals are supporting it. I know the NDP will support anything as noble as a piece of legislation such as this. I think maybe this is the one time we can all agree, through cutbacks, the best thing that we can provide the citizens of this province is through an ability of the citizens of this province to give back what we have given them, which is a good place to live, communities to live in, safe seats -- sorry -- safe neighbourhoods and communities that have cultural diversity, all kinds of opportunities for people to achieve.

So I say this is a good motion and I'm going to be prepared to support it and I think all people should be supporting it. When you go back to your communities, rather than saying, "The government has cut money and culture," which I know you're going to say first and foremost, but rather than dwelling on the fact that the government has cut money, maybe if we dwelled on how we go about raising the money within the community, not only would you never notice, but I bet you in no time flat, people wouldn't be spending as much time going to government looking for handouts; they'd be spending more time providing the services they want because they'd see in their own community they're prepared to support these endeavours.

The Acting Speaker: Questions or comments? The member for St Catharines.

Mr Bradley: I was delighted that the member rose to speak in the House. Even though on some occasions he did not always stay on the contents of the bill, I did not get up to challenge that because I appreciate his suggestions to us this evening.

I notice that he didn't mention that for 99.9% of the donors this bill will make absolutely no difference. The changes in the federal budget have already made the difference and this is minuscule, but still supportable. As I said when he was in another room, it is better than a kick in the kneecap.

Second, I was pleased to hear him speak because it certainly sounded as though this was a cabinet-level-entry speech. I have noted his behaviour in the last while. He's always an outspoken individual, quick with a quip and bright with the news media. I watch him on television on various programs where he is asked to be on, or whether he's calling the station to ask whether he can be on, I'm not certain of that, but he uses the same entertaining style on that occasion. I think he's working his way back into the cabinet, however, because as I watched originally when he started out in this House he was often critical of the government of which he was a member, and justifiably so. He got up with a question one day in the House where he --

Mr Stockwell: What has this got to do with my speech?

Mr Bradley: It's your speech I'm thinking of. He got up in the House one day and asked an excellent question of the Minister of Education as to why they were taking money out of Etobicoke for property taxes and sending it to other places in the province, and I admired him for having the intestinal fortitude to do so.

I listened to tonight's speech. I think he genuinely believes what he said tonight. Don't get me wrong. I think he genuinely believes what he said, but I'm sure that the people in the Premier's office who advise the first minister of this province will be pleased to hear him toeing the line, adhering to the policy and the pronouncements of the ideological right who control the Premier's office. I admire him for that. I wish him well in getting into the cabinet.

Mr Pouliot: I too of course in the spirit of goodwill echo the sentiment from my distinguished and long-time-serving colleague in wishing all our sincere best wishes. May you enter that inner sanctum which is cabinet. The member for Etobicoke West is very captivating, has a style all his own. He never left the opposition, and when you fail to make the transition just in time, you're left as not being part of the transition.

He tells us that people had an opportunity to pick up the slack. The federal government has fewer dollars to give to all the good deeds out there. The provincial government follows suit, naturally so. During good times, the fine hearts, the beauty of the soul. Food for the soul is the last endeavour to benefit during good times. We don't seem to recognize it as quickly as other endeavours. During bad times they're the first ones to suffer, so they become of no consequence.

We feel that philanthropy will pick up the slack through the opportunity of a tax incentive, and, yes, you have mentioned recognition. And people do a lot. But when all is said and done, there is not enough money to replace what has been taken off the arts marketplace, and you consequently at times have a tug of war between -- I shouldn't say a culture of or a culture for the rich; I will say a recognized culture and that of the street. With that polarization, all people suffer, all people compete for a few dollars. You have the opportunity; people will not and shall not be lured or seduced by the fact that you will make up the slack with philanthropy.

Mr Toni Skarica (Wentworth North): I'm a little reluctant to stand up and speak, because I'm not in any way as eloquent as the last four speakers. But I think one important point has to be addressed. The member for St Catharines indicated this bill is minuscule, it only applies to 0.1%; 99.9% it doesn't apply to.

Just using those numbers, if there are 11 million people in Ontario and 0.1% of them are induced to make a donation, that's 11,000 donations that might not have otherwise been made. I suggest that's not minuscule.

Another thing that I'd like to point out that nobody has is that the member for St Andrew-St Patrick put her heart and soul into this bill so that good could be done. There's nothing bad that could be said about this bill, yet we are hearing criticism from the Liberal benches. I want to applaud and compliment the member for St Andrew-St Patrick.

I'd also like to point out that in politics a lot of vicious things go on, even within your own party. But the member for St Andrew-St Patrick, no one has ever said anything negative about her, and she is probably the most popular person in the House. It's very typical of her to be behind this type of legislation. It does not harm anyone. It does not tax anyone. It doesn't force anyone to do anything. It allows people, if they wish, to make voluntary donations. As I've indicated, it allows for 11,000 donations per year to be made that might not otherwise have been made, and I suggest that's not minuscule in any way at all.

Mr Conway: I want to thank the member from Etobicoke; as always, a lively and spirited speech. I don't disagree with him that there are excesses about which complaint is properly registered. Where I do take some issue is his notion of what governments did or didn't do in the pre-intrusive age. My grandfather was here back in the 1920s and 1930s, and I remember not too long ago looking at some public accounts from the 1930s. God, if you wanted a good right-winger on a Monday, Tuesday and a Thursday, Mitch Hepburn was about as good as you could get.

I just look at where we spent some of the money in the 1930s. That beautiful Niagara parks complex around the great cataract at Niagara was built by a Depression-racked government. The park that we enjoy today in which this Parliament Building is situated is in significant measure the contribution of Oliver Mowat to future generations of Ontarians living in and around Toronto.

We have a popular notion today -- and I don't disagree with my colleague my friend from Etobicoke, who says that our constituents want money spent on health care; he's right. It is lost on a lot of people that provincial governments didn't really start to spend money, in terms of supporting hospitals and the like, until the late 1950s. We are very recent in that business.

In supporting his colleague the member for St Andrew-St Patrick, I want to say that in a free and democratic society where there are all kinds of pressures on popularly elected assemblies, on myself just as much as on my friend from Etobicoke -- and I understand that there are some appropriations that the people of Renfrew would rather not have me support -- I hope that none of us, in our discharge of our responsibilities, fail to understand that libraries and cultural institutions deserve some real measure of public support as well as philanthropic support.

The Acting Speaker: The member for Etobicoke West, two minutes.

Mr Stockwell: To work backwards first, the member for Renfrew North, the budget isn't being reduced to nothing. There is still money there. I don't think anyone would take up debate with that; it's a philosophical approach that all people on all sides of this Legislature would agree with. There needs to be some money. The question is, where and how much? That debate needs to happen because it's been more recent when we've seen the government take larger and broader steps into the particular operation of these kinds of needs. That debate is given, and I don't think it needs to become political. It's an accepted pragmatism today that we have to provide for some moneys. The question is, where is the level? I'm saying that's the kind of debate that needs to take place and that's why I think the member for St Andrew-St Patrick's bill is so important.

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Wentworth North -- I need to say no more. His comments are well taken and particularly appropriate.

Lake Nipigon -- much the same as the member from Renfrew, both my friends, and I would say you're both singing the same song. I don't disagree. I think what you say makes sense, but I think what we're trying to say over here as well as out there is the kinds of levels of expenditure, the kinds of levels we've committed to in the past, in my humble opinion, we can't maintain. I don't care which party is elected, which party would have been elected; I don't think you would have maintained the spending levels that were set by the previous administrations.

Of course, lastly, the member for St Catharines, just to end up on a high note, suggested I spoke out sometimes early against this government. Well yes, I did. I don't deny that sometimes I have an opinion and I need to share it. But I will say about the member for St Catharines, I would not accuse him of that. He speaks the party line. He toes the party line. He constantly gives it his all. In the school yard vernacular, we have a name for that.

The Acting Speaker: Any further debate? If not, the parliamentary assistant.

Ms Bassett: Am I to sum up?

The Acting Speaker: You can close the debate.

Ms Bassett: I just wanted to thank everybody for their comments. I think they're very thoughtful comments. The member for Renfrew North, I know you pointed out with your corporate memory, as they say -- we are, I hope, going to avoid some of the pitfalls other administrations have got into. If you look at subsection 10(2) of the bill when you get home, you will see that the bill protects the public interest because they have to fulfil the objects of the institution. U of T, as a matter of fact, has turned down many gifts because it did not fit into the mandate. From that point of view you could rest assured we hope we're on the right track. As you did point out, the legislation is very well developed based on the past, and I hope we're getting more sophisticated all the time.

If I could say to my colleague from St Catharines and my colleague across in the same party about this bill, really the money comes from very few people, that's true, but when you look at the donations that came in that you seem to cross off as nothing, look at U of T -- $20 million, $27 million; $6 million to the University of Western Ontario. These might come from very few people -- they're not in your 90%, or whatever you say -- but they're very large donations and they aren't going to be the answer to cutbacks if that's what you're talking about. We never expect that. We're giving these institutions a tool to help raise some money for themselves to see themselves through a hard time.

The Acting Speaker: The member for St-Andrew-St Patrick has moved second reading of Bill 71.

Is it the pleasure of the House that the motion carry? Carried.

Shall the bill be ordered for third reading? Agreed.

TAX CUT AND ECONOMIC GROWTH ACT, 1996 / LOI DE 1996 SUR LA RÉDUCTION D'IMPÔTS ET LA CROISSANCE ÉCONOMIQUE

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

The Acting Speaker (Mr Gilles E. Morin): I believe the member for Hamilton Centre had the floor last time.

Mr David Christopherson (Hamilton Centre): I have I believe a few minutes left in my speech responding to the --

Interjections.

Mr Christopherson: Oh, there we go. Look at the clock. Generous, generous. I'll need a couple of sandwiches and a little bit of water, and away we go.

When I think about the bills and the resolutions that we've been debating the last few days here in the House as we enter the final few days of this session, I think they reinforce over and over again our key message coming out of this government's first budget, that the cuts that are contained in this budget not only spell disaster for a lot of the core values that this government supposedly believes in and were part of the foundation of their electoral platform, but we also believe they support our argument that in large part all of this is just meant to fund your tax cut. That's what this is all about. As much as I see the backbenchers again recoiling and rolling their eyes, the fact of the matter is, that is the truth of what's going on. The cuts are here to the degree that they are because you have to find that $5 billion in order to pay for this tax cut.

I'm finding constituents in Hamilton Centre are more and more beginning to realize that there isn't a big windfall for them. In fact, if anything, there are a few bucks. Anybody will take a few bucks if they can get them, but when they start to look at the education increases -- and in my riding of Hamilton Centre we have an average of a $35-a-year property tax increase as it relates to the education portion of the budget. Now, this government, I know what you're going to say: "That's not our decision. We didn't do that. That's the local school board doing that." But the fact of the matter is, this school board only took that measure because this government left them no choice. They said, "You either raise taxes to cover off the money that we have withheld to pay for our tax cut or you cut and slash the education system in Hamilton to the point where you are doing serious damage to the classroom teaching that's going on."

That, by the way, was another cornerstone promise of this government, that they would do nothing that affected classroom teaching, and yet I defy this government to find a trustee in Hamilton who believes that if they had cut dollar for dollar what this government dictated they had to it wouldn't have a serious negative impact on classroom teaching. Our board, like any other, represents the full philosophical spectrum and all the parties are there and there are the non-aligned people. The fact of the matter is that you can't take the kind of money that you have out of education -- $400 million equates to $1 billion, as you well know, to school boards, given their fiscal year as it relates to the amount of time the schools are operating. That's $1 billion a year out of the school system in this province. You don't want to talk about that.

The social service cuts that you've implemented have done so much damage to the agencies and organizations in all our communities. I can't believe Hamilton's that unique. It's those agencies that give life and give meaning to the idea of neighbourhoods, of community, and of compassion and caring. All those things get swept aside in your mad dash to keep the promise of a 30% tax cut which the very wealthy will be the only ones to truly benefit from.

Take the bill that we just passed, Bill 71, the Crown Foundations Act. I agree with my colleagues in the Liberal Party and my colleagues in my party who've made the point that you're only having to do this sort of thing to try and offset and mitigate the damage you've done to those cultural institutions in all our communities.

As much as you might believe or want it to be true, we are not yet fully embracing the American idea of what society is and what community is. They're entitled to make that decision, that's part of the freedom of democracy. But historically we in Canada, and particularly here in Ontario, have rejected that. Certainly previous Progressive Conservative governments rejected that, as have Liberal and NDP governments. We have not embraced the idea that the dollar and the bottom line is the only thing that matters. Your budget reflects that ideology, that hard-line, Newt Gingrich kind of ideal, an agenda that says the more we get government out of people's lives, the better society will be. Most of you seem to believe that, full stop, that the more of it that goes the better off we'll all be.

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Yet we know that the United Nations, for instance, has twice voted Canada as the greatest country in the world to live. That didn't happen because we were absolutely the most competitive in the entire world, or because our profit margins were the highest in the world, or because our tax rates were the absolutely lowest in the world, or because we had the lowest and least amount of environmental protections and the lowest labour laws. That's not why we were selected. We were selected because we were a society in Ontario -- and in large part what happens in Ontario does set the agenda for the national spectrum that is all of politics.

Here in Ontario we have said that building communities, caring for those who are in the most unfortunate of circumstances, most times through circumstances beyond their control -- that we want to share what we can generate, the beauty we've been given, the natural resources, the accessibility to the waterways and other transportation networks, being right next door to the largest economy in the world. We are truly blessed.

People who came to this very place and stood and sat in the place where we are right now, who came before us, said there needs to be a sharing that makes sure that people don't fall through the cracks, that there's no excuse for people to be in that kind of destitution in a province like this.

And you know what? The reality is that all through those decades of building a caring society we still had lots of rich people, we still had lots of people who did quite well, thank you very much. That seems to be the nature of a market-driven economy, and that clearly and definitely is where the globe is going, if not already there. So some argument that somehow we have to return to an old value system but forget about the caring part puts the lie, in my opinion, to this government's assertion that going back 20, 30, 40, 50 years is the way to go.

You leave out that whole component of our history, that part of our history that built the health care system, that built the social service system, that built our transportation networks, our municipal infrastructures, our excellent police services, our excellent ambulance services. All those things, whether you admit it or not, are a part of what you want to throw out the window so you can give a 30% tax cut to your rich friends. That's the bottom line, as we see it, in terms of what your budget is all about.

I accept that you're floating along with a fair degree of popularity. That's there and it's difficult to refute. But I suggest to you, those of you who might want to gloat a little too soon, that you wait. First of all, not all your cuts have taken hold; in fact you haven't even announced them all. As we begin to see ministers like the Minister of Health flip-flop on issues where they said, "We're not going to fund this," you've now got a fiscal problem. You've got to go somewhere else to find that money, an area you'd already said no to. As we begin to see announcements that fill in the programs that are gone right now because all they have is a placeholder in the budget -- X number of tens and hundreds of millions yet to be found -- when all those things have their full impact and the average working person and the average middle-class person in this province starts to say, "There's what I got from the Common Sense Revolution and there's what it cost me" --

Mr Terence H. Young (Halton Centre): Jobs.

Mr Christopherson: One of the backbenchers hollered out "Jobs." You're part of the same government that thinks workfare is some idea of a job, because that's all you're offering. That's what so frustrating for those of us who believe that what made this province the great place it is are now being dismantled. That's what's happening. I honestly believe that in a few years that reality will take hold among the majority, and when it does, you will be singing a very, very different tune.

Unfortunately, by then so much damage will be done that it will take us years and decades to build back to the kind of place we can be proud of rather than the least environmental protection and labour laws that belong in the Third World, not in one of the most advanced societies in the entire history of this earth. That's what you're doing. That's what you're going to be called on. We look forward to the day when the majority of people appreciate and understand that, because that is the reality.

The Acting Speaker: Questions or comments?

Mr Doug Galt (Northumberland): Thank you very much, Mr Speaker, for the opportunity to respond to my opponent across the floor. I will have more to say in a few minutes about the budget bill, but it's interesting that he's talking about the damage that's been done. I tell you, the damage that's been done is over the last five years while they were in government.

It's great to hear him stand up and say he stands for high taxes. I couldn't believe he'd actually stand there and say he does not want to see a reduction in taxes. There are 75,000 people in Northumberland county who would like to see some taxes cut. They're fed up with the taxation you've been providing them for the last five years. They've had it to the ears. They don't want any more.

During your term in government, as you increased the taxes, what happened to the total revenue coming in? It fell. It didn't increase, as you thought it would; it actually decreased. If you look at things like the economists do, with the Laffer curve, that's exactly where we are with taxation today.

You went into government thinking you could spend your way out of the debt in recessionary times. Imagine spending your way out of a debt in recessionary times. The only time some common sense occurred in your government was back in April 1993 when you rolled out the social contract and did make some cuts. Thank heavens your Premier went to some conferences in Europe in early 1993 and found out that the biggest threat to social programs were the deficit and the debt. It was cabinet members like you who wouldn't give him the opportunity to go ahead and do something about it. You strangled that poor man and really strangled the province and put us in debt. We're now at $100 billion in debt, over half of that while you were in government -- over half of it -- more than has been created in this province since the beginning of time. Thanks to your government that you brought that through. Thanks a million.

Mr Alvin Curling (Scarborough North): I want to take the opportunity to congratulate my colleague from Hamilton Centre for the excellent speech he gave. For one moment, I had hoped the government would listen, but they're reading from the same old text, the same old rhetoric they have been given, which they call the Common Sense Revolution.

I had hoped they'd have more creative thinking and listen to the member for Hamilton Centre when he stated emphatically some of the things you are doing, the destruction and the abuse you're levelling on the people of Ontario, especially the poor. I heard him say that over and over. I hoped for one moment that you would listen a bit. The popularity you have, as he stated, may last a bit longer, but because you've closed your ears and opened your mouth much wider and feel you're celebrating constantly, you have not heard the honourable member.

While you are attacking the fact that he mentioned workfare, look very closely at what he said. You really believe that workfare is the solution to jobs in Ontario, and you feel that if someone is cleaning swings or what have you, that's a job, a meaningful job in this province, and that later on these people will somehow be productive in our society after you have cut their feet from under them.

As a matter of fact, your Premier announced today about the breakfast club. My golly, you took away 22% from the poorest and announce breakfast now, when you took away dinner and lunch and everything from those folks.

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Mr Gilles Bisson (Cochrane South): The former minister, the member for Hamilton Centre, has I think really hit the nail on the head here in regard to what the government's agenda is all about in this whole budget.

The government finds itself in a position where it campaigned on a promise to balance the budget over a four- or five-year period, depending on whom you listened to during the campaign, and in order to do so it had to cut, as of the beginning of the government, approximately $11 billion to offset the expenditure problem within the budget. They have to reduce by $4 billion to $5 billion in addition to that for the federal transfer cuts, so we know they've got to reduce at least $15 billion.

Now this is the logic of this government: They're going to reduce $15 billion and at the same time they're going to cut the revenue. What they're having to do is to cut the programs and cut the spending of government far more than they would ever have to, because on top of that they have to deal with the question of trying to fund the tax cut. It's really ludicrous. The member for Hamilton Centre makes the argument quite well.

He also raised in his debate a point that I thought was interesting, that in the golden years we like to hear about, the years of the 1950s, 1960s and 1970s when the Tories were in power, we had social programs that were in some ways better than what we've got now. But there were still plenty of rich people out there. There were plenty of people out there with disposable income. Our economy worked well. Why did it work well? Because you had an approach in government that looked at the question of how to make sure that you develop what's called a "consumer society" so that you have consumers out there who are going out and buying the goods from the merchants, which then translates into the jobs and the production of those goods.

The problem in what the government is doing is that they're going to make sure they drive everything to the lowest common denominator so that people either work on workfare or they work for minimum wage, which will be the same thing, and you'll have no consumers, no taxation, no programs and the death of the economy.

Mr Gilles Pouliot (Lake Nipigon): I listened intently to my eloquent and distinguished colleague from Hamilton Centre tell pretty well, paint in a broadly summarized way briefly what's already happening at the marketplace. But wait, people haven't been hit big time. When you look at the marketplace and its evolution in the months ahead, the CPI will reach above 2%, for it is written, within a period of six months. All you have to do is scan the futures market and you can see as it moves down the line that it will impact. Traditionally after the presidential election with our neighbours, you have a capping. If not a recession, you certainly have a downturn in the economy. The fuel isn't there as much.

They've promise to eliminate the deficit -- $11 billion in one term of office. They've promised to cut taxes by 30% at the provincial level, the PIT. If I were to gamble a few dollars -- I too look for opportunities and I'm reduced to scanning the NASDAQ index and find bargains when the price-earning ratio is a mere 40 times. Things are --

Mr Toni Skarica (Wentworth North): Like copper.

Mr Pouliot: My friend from Chase Manhattan talks about copper. He will educate the House later on until midnight about Mr Five Per Cent or the cornering of the copper market. We're all paying for this. I want to wish them well, no enemies in this House, but my chances of becoming the emperor of China before I die are an awful lot better than their chances to reconcile the deficit. More importantly, in the meantime the marginalized, those who cannot defend themselves, the most vulnerable, will be attacked by the unspeakable.

Mr Christopherson: I appreciate the opportunity to respond to the members who rose in response to my remarks: the members for Scarborough North, Cochrane South and Lake Nipigon. I thank you for your support of the position I put forward this evening.

I want to focus a bit on my government backbench colleague from Northumberland, who talks as if he wants to rewrite the economic history of Ontario. I suggest that before he stands up and pontificates about the economy as he sees it and remembers it, he might want to go back and look a little more closely at what was really happening in 1990, 1991, 1992. I was in the ministry of the treasury at that time as the parliamentary assistant, and I can recall having economists come in, not just the government economists but economists from the private sector, particularly from the banking community, who all predicted that it was going to be a severe but a short recession and that we would begin to climb out as we got to the latter part of 1991, 1992, 1993. That didn't happen. In fact, there were fortunes lost because many people misread that. So I suggest that before he wants to rewrite history, he take a look.

I also say to him that he ought not believe that the people of Ontario are nearly as naïve as he wants them to be. Everybody would like a tax cut, of course. That's not the issue. The issue is, what's the cost of that tax cut and who benefits? Over 50% of that tax cut goes to the top 10% income earners in the province. That's the reality of where the money goes. Who's paying for it? The poor, people on WCB, children, our environment, labour standards. That's the price and that's where people will draw the line.

The Acting Speaker (Ms Marilyn Churley): Further debate? The member for Northumberland.

Mr Galt: I appreciate the opportunity to address the House on the debate about Bill 47, the budget that our government brought down on May 7, 1996.

You can really stay. You don't have to leave, member for Hamilton Centre. Stay and enjoy the debate. It's not necessary to leave at this point in time.

I want to point out that during the five years of the socialist regime, one of the ways of creating jobs was to bring in Jobs Ontario. Jobs Ontario and the positions that came about from those grants lasted exactly as long as the grants lasted. When it came to the end of the grant, the job disappeared, and I can assure you that's certainly not the way to create jobs in a country such as this.

He also made a lot of reference to the number of poor in this country and how many wealthy there were back a couple of decades ago. I can tell you what happened to those people who had some money: They've been taxed to death and they've now become the poor people of Ontario. It directly relates to the level of taxation. Just ask any economist and they can add it up for you.

I'm rather excited about the budget that the Honourable Ernie Eves brought forward, so excited that I actually wrote a little limerick to mark the occasion, and it goes something like this:

A government once was elected

To cut taxes and do as expected.

The voters believed we would do it

And when we got to it,

Only the critics got sore and objected.

I can't for the life of me understand the position that both opposition parties are taking in this budget debate. I can only surmise that they are angry and that they are disappointed; first, angry because we have done something they wish they had done when they were in government, and secondly, disappointed because we are actually honouring our election promises.

It saddens me that the opposition is so frustrated, so bereft of constructive criticism of the policies of this government, but it is an indication of the desperate need that the opposition has to find fault with this government and the policies that we are putting into place, which brings me to the budget for the fiscal year 1996-97.

I have to wonder if in their heart of hearts members of the opposition don't find it just a trifle odd to find themselves opposing a tax cut for the hardworking people of Ontario, when really they would like to be doing that themselves. This is especially so since one party promised to cut taxes in its own election document, the Liberals' little red book. Although I'm generally not into fiction, I find it interesting to wade through this document from time to time, particularly when I'm having some difficulties getting to sleep in the evening.

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What's even more interesting is to look back at the reaction of the Leader of the Opposition to numerous tax increases imposed on the people of Ontario by the former government, and I'm referring to the NDP government.

Back on May 20, 1993, the leader, Lyn McLeod, said that the tax increases totalling some $2 billion announced in the government's budget for fiscal 1993-94 were, and I quote -- this is from Lyn McLeod about the NDP budget in 1993 -- "a disaster for working people." She said, "For people without jobs, the budget offers no hope and no prospects for the future." I believe we now have a budget that meets her criteria. We have a budget that does offer hope and new prospects for the people of Ontario.

Mrs McLeod also complained on that day some three years ago, and I quote again: "We were looking for a budget that would stimulate the economy. This one strangles it." Again I would suggest that the Leader of the Opposition and the economy can breathe a little easier today. It's really interesting to note that her remarks during this past year totally have turned around some of the comments she made in 1993 and some of the things she stood for in her little red book.

Personally, I haven't felt this good about the future of Ontario for a very long time. It's not just the tax cuts I'm referring to or the other measures announced by Ernie Eves's budget back in May. It is a general feeling of optimism and enthusiasm that I'm picking up from people of all walks of life. There's evidence mounting that after six long years of economic underperformance, we're finally coming out of the woods. I could really feel that feeling back in early April right after we settled the OPSEU strike. I had a lot of people come to me and say, "Yes, that's a government that's ready to stand up, do what's right and do what's right for the people of the province of Ontario."

I've noticed lately that the resale housing market has literally taken off. Particularly through May and June in my riding, I've seen all kinds of Sold signs on signs that used to say For Sale and have been standing in various front yards of home for years, maybe five years during the previous government's term, and now they're actually being sold and I believe it was triggered because of the budget that came forth on May 7.

Interest rates continue at a historical low. New jobs are being created at the rate of some 10,000 a month and in April some 35,000 new jobs were created. I've noticed in some of the local papers at home that a year or two ago you'd see maybe one or two jobs being advertised; now it's a dozen jobs or more. There is certainly a turnaround. and the welfare rates are on a steady decline.

At the end of April in the Globe and Mail they published a survey by Dun and Bradstreet. It found that Canadian companies are also becoming more optimistic. They're optimistic about hiring prospects, about sales expectations and about job growth. In the survey, expectations of price increases also declined, which means inflation will continue to remain low. Statistics Canada also reports that employment has risen sharply since December. The survey by Dun and Bradstreet suggests the trend will continue.

All this is very good news for Canada's $800-billion economy and here in Ontario we have our own reasons to celebrate. Measures announced in the budget will stimulate and accelerate new economic growth by signalling that our province is once again ready to compete. Just think how politics have changed in Ontario in just under one year. The first instalment of the tax cut announced in the budget is a tax cut promised by Premier Mike Harris more than a year before the last election. That was back when we were a distant third in a three-way race. It is a tax cut over which the Premier had vowed to resign if he did not fulfil his campaign promise.

Mr Peter L. Preston (Brant-Haldimand): That's not a Sheila jobbie.

Mr Galt: That's right. We know what happens when people break their promises and have to go back and cost the taxpayers $500,000 just because they wouldn't keep their promise. As we all know, politicians resigning over broken promises, especially federal politicians, is certainly not a pretty sight.

There's something else to be optimistic about, and that is that voters holding politicians to their promises is a new kind of politics in Ontario and in Canada. It's the politics of accountability and respect for the people who elect you. To be sure, the opposition has been upset by our penchant for keeping promises. They say that we're stubborn, that we're being driven by an ideology. If doing what you say you'll do is stubborn and ideological, then I guess maybe we're guilty as charged.

The fact is that Ontarians need -- no, the fact is that Ontarians deserve -- a tax cut. Over the last 10 years, the tax burden on the average middle-class family has become an extremely crushing load. It's been tax grab after tax grab, and any working man or woman on the street can tell you that some 65 tax increases in under a decade have robbed the people of this province of their initiative and have forced otherwise law-abiding citizens into the underground economy.

A few minutes ago we were talking about how many poor there are in the province of Ontario and how many there were rich only a few decades ago.

Mr Christopherson: More now.

Mr Galt: That's right on, for the member for Hamilton Centre. I think he can understand why this transition has occurred. His government created more poor people than any other government in this country has ever created. Clearly something had to change.

Edmund Burke once said, "The state without the means for change is a state without the means for self-preservation." That is what tax cuts in the budget and, yes, spending cuts previously announced are all about. If we are to preserve and enhance the government services that Ontarians value most, services such as universal health care, quality education and needed social services, then we have no choice but to cut spending and to stimulate economic growth, and we have to do both at the same time. The opposition says, "You can't cut spending and cut taxes too." I say to you, particularly the member for Hamilton Centre, that the two go hand in hand and are absolutely necessary.

Mr Christopherson: That's not what the economists from the Royal Bank say, doc.

The Acting Speaker: Member for Hamilton Centre, come to order.

Interjection.

The Acting Speaker: Member for Etobicoke West, you too. Come to order.

Mr Galt: The fact is that in a sluggish economy simply cutting spending to bring the deficit under control would be an extremely slow and very painful process, but maybe you would enjoy that very much, seeing people suffer in that style. But by cutting taxes as well, the economy will be stimulated, people will spend more, save more and invest more of their earnings. The only thing we don't want them to do is go putting their tax savings in a mattress. As long as they use it in some fashion, it will help the economy.

We collect tax revenue from many of these transactions. This renewed economic activity will create new jobs, certainly faster than any government program ever could. And guess what? With more people working, we collect more income tax and pay less tax dollars in social assistance. I think most people in Ontario have understood this simple equation all along. It's unfortunate that the government of the previous five years didn't understand that equation. Certainly we will collect less tax revenue at first, but as employment rises, we'll be collecting more.

That is why the tax cut will not affect our debt and deficit reduction strategy. We are still on target for a balanced budget in the fiscal year 2000-01. Most important of all, this budget addresses a critical factor in our province's ability to recover. That factor is consumer confidence. Consumer confidence is an elusive thing and it is the one missing ingredient in Ontario's economic recovery right now. In many other areas, we are doing exceptionally well. Exports are up considerably and they are driving significant growth in the Ontario job market.

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Good evening, the member for Hamilton Centre; have a nice night.

To make the recovery completely and to help us meet our deficit reduction target sooner, we need average taxpayers in Ontario to start feeling good about their financial future. That is why tax cuts are such a crucial component of this budget.

In my home riding of Northumberland, the four key areas of tax cuts will have a profound effect on the local economy. First, the income tax cut will stimulate retail spending. Second, a building materials tax rebate will encourage farmers to improve their properties, and already I've had several farmers approach me about how they get the provincial rebate back once they build their buildings. Third, the land transfer tax holiday for homes under $200,000 will give a much-needed boost to the home builders in our area. Obviously, from all of the Sold signs that we're seeing, it's having an effect already. Last, the elimination of the employer health tax will help small businesses compete. It's amazing how many people in my area with a small business are asking, "When will this employer health tax be reduced and eliminated?" They're saying it isn't the volume of money that really hurts them so much; it's all of the red tape and cumbersome forms that they have to send in.

A move to lower taxes also signals to outside investors that Ontario is competitive and is a good place to set up shop. Tax increase after tax increase under the former two governments sent businesses scurrying to less punitive jurisdictions. All the charms of Ontario's workforce -- raw materials, infrastructure and social programs -- could not hold them here in the face of the heavy and unwarranted taxes that we've experienced during the last 10 years. Many companies have rejected Ontario as a plant location simply due to high taxes, high provincial debt load and the horrendous red tape and overabundance of regulations that they're exposed to when they try to move into our province. We've set out to reverse that trend.

Let's talk for a moment about why we're so concerned about the provincial debt. At some $8 billion, interest on our provincial debt is equal to the entire budget of a number of Canadian provinces. That $8 billion is money we don't have to spend on health care or education or social services. What's more alarming still is that if we had done nothing, if we had continued to rack up the $10-billion and $12-billion annual deficits of the previous government, that interest payment would have reached $20 billion by the turn of the century. Some $20 billion from $56 billion in a provincial budget leaves precious little for social services that we've come to expect. What kind of cutbacks and service reductions would then have to occur to accommodate such a massive deficit? The tax cuts and other measures announced last week are more than just a skirmish in the war against debt. They are indeed a victory for the average Ontarian.

I believe the vast majority of people want the tax cut and will do their part to spend it on the goods and services that other Ontarians provide. We understand the opposition has to object. They have to say that people don't want the cut and that they won't spend it, that we're cutting social programs to achieve it, but that is the old politics, the politics of broken promises and of treating the public's money as if it were our own. We must never forget that this is the taxpayers' money that we are talking about and that taxpayers deserve to keep more of their money that they have worked so hard to earn.

Just imagine for a moment what the opposition would be saying if we hadn't come through on our election promise. They would be the first to complain that we broke the faith, that we had lied to the public who had elected us. You can't have your cake and eat it too. The tax cut is just one part of a five-part strategy that we committed to just two years ago. In the Common Sense Revolution we promised to cut taxes, reduce non-priority government spending, eliminate barriers to job growth, provide a government that costs less and does a better job and eliminate the deficit in our first term.

In the first year, we've repealed the job-killing legislation, Bill 40, we've scrapped the NDP's unfair job quotas, we've frozen the average Ontario Hydro rates for five years and we've abolished the gold-plated MPP pensions and tax-free allowances that other governments were afraid to take on; more promises kept. The bottom line is, we have a plan and we're sticking to it. It's called doing what we said we would do.

I'd like to leave you with one final thought this evening. For all of the members in opposition who say you don't want a tax cut, I have a suggestion for you. How about putting your tax cut into the opportunities fund announced in the budget to help pay off some of the debts that you helped to create? At the same time, I'd like to remind the opposition that no one party in this province has the market on compassion cornered, because above all, I believe this is a compassionate government and a compassionate budget. This budget is a key step in restoring some hope to the working and non-working people of this province and the investors who create new jobs. That's because the best way to help our young people and the disadvantaged in our society is to create the economic climate where more people have the dignity of work.

This budget also shows compassion for the hard-pressed middle class, the people who have shouldered more than their fair share of the tax burden for so many years. Most of all, this budget will help us preserve and enhance our health care, our services for children, for seniors, for disabled people and for those who truly are in need of help. Whatever your political stripe, these are goals that certainly are well worth achieving, and they are a major part of this government's commitment to the people of Ontario.

Madam Speaker, I believe that our children and our grandchildren will thank us for the changes that we are making through this budget, and I thank you for the opportunity to speak on the budget this evening.

The Acting Speaker: Questions or comments?

Mr Rick Bartolucci (Sudbury): The member for Northumberland says that he and his government want people to keep money in their pockets; he wants the workers to save money and be able to put money in their pockets. However, if he moves to Sudbury he won't be keeping the money in his pocket for very long because, because of this government's cuts, this is what the average Sudburian is going to have to pay: in regional taxes, there's an increase of 3.5%; public school board taxes, there's an increase of 5.9%; separate school board taxes, there's an increase of 5.9%; there's an increase in 103 municipal user fees at the city level. The city of Sudbury had to implement 53 new user fees in order to cope with the cuts that this government inflicted on the north and on Sudbury in particular.

There are all kinds of new provincial user fees. There's a new fair share health care tax for those people who are making big bucks that they'd like to keep in their pockets. There are new provincial user fees which are way beyond the increase that would be normal at any other time. There are increases of up to 20% at Laurentian University and of up to 15% at Cambrian College.

So let me tell you, by the time he's taken the money out of this pocket and given it back to the government, he's had to dip into his other side pocket, he's had to dip into his back pocket, he's had to take out his wallet, he's had to give the money to the government and give some more money to the government, give some more money to the government. He doesn't have any more money. So what does he have to do? He has to borrow. He has to borrow more money. So his debt is increasing. That's amazing, because you know what? Now he's just like the province. His debt continues to grow, just like the province's.

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Mr James J. Bradley (St Catharines): I always enjoy listening to what the people in the Premier's office are telling the members to say, and this was certainly in line with what the government wants to hear. The member brought some of his own thoughts into it, and I appreciate that very much, as it related to his riding.

If he were concerned about the provincial debt, and I think he is, he'd be worried about the revenue loss that will result from the tax cut. You're going to have to borrow an additional $13 billion for nothing else than the Revolution. My friend calls it the Comic Book Revolution, but it says Common Sense Revolution. The figures are right in here. It's clearly lost revenue; the projections are in here. I'll say one thing: You did put them in here and you're going to lose $13 billion in revenue that you'll have to borrow. In addition, you're going to have to pay interest on that.

It's interesting. I watch the Reform Party because I watch all the conventions. The Reform Party was, I hate ever to be quoted to have said wise enough, so let me put it this way: The Reform Party chose to have their tax cut, they said, when the budget is balanced, and most small-c conservative economists will tell you it's wise to delay it, if you're intent on proceeding with it, until such time as you have your budget balanced and perhaps move more slowly.

I noticed it's pretty minuscule this year, and I give you credit for that, because I think it's wise to do it that way, so I would not criticize you. You said the opposition would criticize you. I certainly would not if you said you were going to postpone it or that it's not going to be as much as it is. But you're still going to do it. I understand you have to live up to that commitment.

What you're doing with this tax cut is simply transferring from a progressive tax, which takes into account a person's ability to pay, to the most regressive taxes: user fees and property taxes that do not take into account a person's ability to pay.

Mr Bernard Grandmaître (Ottawa East): The member for Northumberland said that people enjoy this government for the simple reason that they're doing what they were supposed to do or what the Common Sense Revolution said they would do. At the same time, when you look at the budget cuts in the health care system, you said not one red cent would be removed from the budget, yet you cut it back by $1.3 billion. In education you said the same thing, that you would not cut back, and you're cutting back $400 million. You're doing the same thing for colleges and universities. You're not doing what the Common Sense Revolution said it would do.

You simply delivered a message promising jobs to people on welfare, but you cut back welfare by 22%, and now you say that welfare numbers are down, but you don't know if these people are working. I remind you that you're not doing what you were supposed to do in the first place.

You also mentioned in your speech that real estate is up, that homes that were up for sale for three or four years are now being sold. I'll tell you why: Municipal taxes have gone up, education taxes have gone up and people simply can't afford their own homes. That's the reason real estate is up. You tell me where new homes are being built in this province and I'll tell you that's the real economy. Right now it's secondhand homes, if I can refer to them as secondhand homes. You're not doing what you said you would do in your Common Sense Revolution.

Mrs Sandra Pupatello (Windsor-Sandwich): It's always a pleasure to listen at this late hour, as I'm sure the constituents of Windsor-Sandwich would be pleased to hear the comments -- I hope they're watching -- so that we can then stand up and refute them. The reality is that you have to present the whole picture when you're talking about the budget that was presented, what was in it, and mention things that were not in the budget.

What was not in the budget was how we were going to fix the school system, as this government campaigned. We've got a number of issues in education that the government simply is not addressing.

I've mentioned, if it's been 100 times it's certainly been a couple of times, the portables at Sacred Heart school in LaSalle. We want all government members to be aware that this is just one example of how the Conservative government is failing children in Ontario. You choose to implement a tax cut and you cut from schools. If there's one thing the people of Ontario would make clear, it's that it is a provincial role, that it's their duty to provide good, quality education for children in Ontario.

Sacred Heart school in LaSalle is now forced, through its school board, to spend $200,000 to replace portables, $200,000 which they would have used had there not been a moratorium on capital spending in that county, nay, across the province. The issue becomes that you are forcing us as taxpayers to pay the money twice: once because they have to replace the portables, because they can't wait, and we've got kids in terrible conditions -- if I get an opportunity later, I'm going to pass around all the pictures I took of these portables because you'd be very interested in the condition of them. I spent a lot of time out at Sacred Heart. I think it's important that you should all see this, that we are double-spending the precious tax money that we have to spend on education. Not only that, you're making them spend it twice. I don't want you to feel proud about that. Thanks so much for allowing me those comments.

Mr Galt: I'd like to respond to the other responses; I just don't have nearly enough time to get through them all. To the member for Windsor-Sandwich, we could build an awful lot of schools for the $8 billion we're paying in interest. There are a lot of portables in my riding too, and it's just because of the interest payments on the debt; that is why we're in trouble.

To the member for Ottawa East talking about no cuts to health care, the envelope of $17.4 billion was a commitment we made and we've increased that, by $300 million, to $17.7 billion. Let me assure you there has been no promise broken whatsoever. Our commitment was for $17.4 billion and we're well over that now.

I'd like to point out, about user fees, that when you charge a user fee for a bag of garbage, that seems reasonably fair. If you have a family that's putting out a half-dozen bags of garbage, they pay a little more than the widow who puts out a bag every two or three weeks. Do you want the widow to be paying every bit as much as a family for the garbage they're putting out? A user fee happens to have just a little bit of fairness, and you also have a choice as to whether you use it.

Let me use an example. If you have a couple or a partnership and they happen to spend $55,000 a year and they're taking in $45,000 -- you say we shouldn't be cutting so fast -- how fast should a couple like that be cutting back from the $55,000 they're spending to the $45,000 they're earning? You would do it very quickly in your own home, and that's exactly the way we should be running this province. We should be getting back to spending the amount we happen to be taking in.

The Acting Speaker: Further debate? The member for St Catharines.

Mr Bradley: I would like to expand on the debate that has been here tonight because the member brings up some interesting items and I'd like to address those items. I appreciate that there are people who have other opinions and that's what's good about our democracy, that we can share those opinions with one another and perhaps come to a conclusion.

The tax cut is an interesting situation. I want to go back to the fact that a lot of economists now say that if you're intent on a tax cut, make sure you balance your budget first and then have your tax cut.

I'm not overly critical of the government. I realize the tax cut is very popular. If you walk down my street and ask people, "Do you want a tax cut?" they'll say yes. If you explain what the consequences of that tax cut at this time are, you might well get a different reaction, and I've found -- the member for Etobicoke West is surrendering.

What happens is, if you explain that you're going to lose a lot of services that Canadians believe are essential for our quality of life, they'll say: "We'd rather keep the services. We don't want you to raise taxes and if you can find some way of reducing certain taxes for us, we might be in favour of that. But we would caution you," they would say, "not to bring about a contractionary effect on the economy."

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Dr Joseph Kushner of Brock University -- whom I quote on many occasions in this Legislature, largely because he's a small-c conservative; in his 20 years on St Catharines city council, he has been known for his small-c conservatism -- moved a motion in St Catharines city council asking the province not to proceed with the tax cut at this time. He explained that if you cut income taxes by 30% and drastically cut government expenditures at the same time, the effect on the economy, rather than being expansionary, is contractionary. A lot of people out there probably thought it stimulates the economy. In fact, he informed city council that a cross-section of economists would tell you that this simply is not the case; it's a contractionary effect.

That's why I caution you to move more slowly and try to get that budget balanced before you proceed with the budgeted tax cut. That's why a few moments ago I commended the government for proceeding slowly in the first year on the tax cut. The Treasurer understood that. He's understood what we in the opposition are saying and he's bowed to that pressure and, frankly, he's bowed to the pressure of the need for revenue. That's something I encourage him to do. He's done so and therefore I cannot be overly critical of that.

The member from Etobicoke joins me now and will no doubt assist me in the arguments I will muster.

What this tax cut does, and I've said this on a couple of occasions perhaps, is help the richest people in our society the most. But what you do politically, which is rather interesting, is tell the person at the lower end of the income scale that somehow he or she is getting a tax cut as well. But what they forget is that the richest person -- well, I use Trevor Eyton; I'm not trying to be unkind to Mr Eyton, but let's say the crowd at the Albany Club in Toronto. The crowd at the Albany Club is going to benefit far more than the average person.

If you charge the people of the province something for garbage, for instance, the people in Rosedale or Forest Hill in Toronto or in other wealthy parts of the province can afford that quite nicely. However, that cannot necessarily be afforded by people at the lower income scale.

That's why I say what you're doing with this tax cut, which is a 30% cut in income taxes -- that's the most progressive tax. Why? Because it takes into account a person's ability to pay. However, you're transferring that to a regressive tax, that is, the property tax, which does not take into account a person's ability to pay, or user fees, which do not take into account a person's ability to pay.

The rich person who has three kids who want to play hockey does not have a problem with user fees. Those children will be able to play hockey, but a person of very modest income, on the other hand, may have to withdraw the children from the hockey school or from skating or some other activity. That is most unfortunate.

Mr Chris Stockwell (Etobicoke West): What about the $13 billion we had to borrow?

Mr Bradley: The member for Etobicoke West reminds me that the government will have to borrow $13 billion, but I already indicated that. Do you know where I find that? I'm going to tell the members again. They say, "You must be making this up or you've got it from some propaganda sheet." Where I got it was from the Common Sense Revolution, the campaign booklet of the Conservative Party. You nicely outline it in here, and I commended you a few moments ago for doing so. It says right in here how much revenue you will lose, therefore how much money you will have to borrow.

When I talk to people, even people who don't care about cuts at all and say, "Cut everything as far as I'm concerned," and explain that you're going to borrow the money, they say: "I thought the deficit was the problem. If the deficit is the problem, why are we borrowing money to give people a tax break?" other than because it's politically popular and it is ideologically what you want to insist that you're doing.

What in effect is happening is that you are transferring that tax. I think those who have cautioned that you should do this when you are in the economic position to do so are being wise. What you're essentially doing is following the pattern of the Republican guard south of the border. Many of the people -- I'm not saying the people in here, although there may be some -- who advise the Premier worship the idol of the Republican army in the United States. They think that what happens in New Jersey or in Tennessee or in Michigan is what's for Ontario.

Let me tell you something interesting that's happening. In the United States, you now have walled subdivisions. You have areas where you drive into the subdivision and you meet a very strong-looking person at the gate with a gun who says you can or cannot come into the subdivision. We're not saying into the homes; you can't even come into the subdivision itself. One of those is being constructed in Toronto at this time. The member may know where that is.

Mr Dan Newman (Scarborough Centre): In BC.

Mr Bradley: And in BC, he mentions as well. I think that's an unfortunate trend, when we see people being walled out of subdivisions in this country, but that is quite commonplace in the United States and we're going to see that happen on a continuing basis.

What we're seeing with the diminishing of funds you're providing to municipalities, for instance -- my friends in Ottawa would know this -- is that you're seeing policing based on how much money you have. The automobile dealers in Ottawa, my friend from Ottawa East has informed me, were unable to get the service they wanted from the police because the police had other priorities. I believe this was in the theft of vehicles from their properties. So they made a donation of $15,000 to continue the investigation. When they did so, what it showed was that if you have money, you can have the investigation continued, but if you don't have money, too bad.

In Metropolitan Toronto, despite the pronouncements of the Attorney General and of the Solicitor General, we have 1,000 fewer police than we had five years ago for policing purposes in this city -- over 1,000. I saw an article in the newspaper the other day comparing five years ago to today and the number of police officers then and now. We have a challenge to meet in the field of crime -- I think most people would agree with that -- yet this government's policies have caused a huge drop in the number of police officers available in Metropolitan Toronto.

We have the Attorney General now saying that because of money, because of the tax break and the fact that they don't have the money to do it, they're now not going to prosecute what he considers to be, or somebody considers to be, less important crimes, unless they're absolutely certain that they're going to win the case in court. What kind of message does that send to senior citizens and other vulnerable people in our society when you say it's not important and you're not going to prosecute when a person breaks into a home? Many people are concerned about these minor thefts.

In New York City -- I don't know whether this is working or not, but I've read several articles on New York City -- Mayor Giuliani and his police have adopted a policy where they're going after the minor crimes, apparently with some effect. We'll see in another year or two. They have followed a policy of going after even the smallest of crimes for those purposes.

Mr Stockwell: He's a Republican.

Mr Bradley: Well, he may be a Republican but he didn't support Alfonse D'Amato. I think he supported the Democrats, even. He supported Governor Cuomo in the race for Governor. We understand he's a progressive individual and knows the problems.

I think the wiser members in the government understand this very well financially; that is, the government can't possibly, under the figures they put forward, balance the budget. They can't do it. So what's going to happen? I suspect they should listen to some of their people who are not in the cabinet on this, who I think could give some good advice, and recognize that you can't balance the budget. What's going to happen is you're going to have to cut even further, and of course that will have a dampening effect on the economy in the province.

Conrad Black -- how does he get into this? It reminds me of a situation we have in this province that I don't think this tax bill is going to solve, and listen, it's not only in this province.

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I asked the Premier one day in this House whether he was prepared to sit down with his friends in big business. I give him credit; he has the contacts with the biggest and most powerful business people in this province and in the country. I thought with the weight he carries, the prominence he has in our community, that he would be able to sit down with these individuals and say, "It is no longer acceptable" -- because he went to Davos, Switzerland -- someone made reference to Bob Rae going to Davos and coming back converted -- where one of the main topics was, what are we going to do with the situation where companies are making more and more profit and casting the people out into the streets in the form of the unemployed?

In years gone by everybody understood -- didn't like it, but they understood -- if a company wasn't making money, if it was losing money, if it's in difficult financial circumstances, there were going to be layoffs. If they weren't selling goods, for instance, there would be layoffs. That was understood. As I say, it was hurtful of a community but one couldn't blame the company for doing so. What we're seeing today, however, is companies making unprecedented profits and still cutting the workforce, still throwing people out into the streets. The executives who get more and more money, the top people getting huge increases and bonuses get them by -- and it's understandable in business -- increasing profit, but they're getting it apparently by the layoffs. The more they downsize, the more they reorganize -- use whatever term you want -- the more money they make.

I ask the question, where are people in our society going to work? Where are the sons and daughters of the people in our society today who are coming through the education system going to work? Where are those who are turfed out into the streets going to work?

Certainly in St Catharines we have people from a variety of places who have already been laid off. I think Foster Wheeler has drastically reduced its production and there are a lot of people who predict it will be out of business in a few years. I don't know; I hope not -- but tremendous layoffs at Foster Wheeler. Thona Corp which closed in St Catharines; Mott beverages, 175 people out of a job; Kelsey-Hayes in St Catharines, closed down; Court Industries in St Catharines moved part of its division to the United States; ITT Aimco -- they make brake drums -- 100 people laid off; General Motors in St Catharines which once employed about 8,800 people not that long ago now employs about 5,300 people, and the axle plant is in jeopardy and 800 jobs there; all the public sector jobs that have been lost in the Niagara Peninsula, in education, in municipalities, in various agencies, boards and commissions.

That has not produced a bright outlook for the people I represent and the part of the province I represent, but I don't see anybody -- and these happened, with the exception of General Motors -- under a Conservative government. Is it entirely the fault of Mike Harris or the Conservative government? I'm not silly enough to say that, but I had heard that when the government came into power, everybody would be enthusiastic, they would want to keep their jobs here. In fact, you changed the labour laws. You sloped them from what many in business thought were very pro-labour to a very pro-business category. Many people in business are quire happy with that. You cut some taxes. You so-called cut red tape. You gave all these indications and yet these people are still leaving the province.

I lament the fact that so many people are losing their jobs. The reason I mentioned Conrad Black and Hollinger is that the pattern is, when they go into a company, when they buy a newspaper, the first thing they do is turf people out the door. With the Saskatoon Star Phoenix and the Regina Leader Post, they went in and made deeps cuts in there -- both successful papers, they were both making money. But Hollinger decided they weren't making enough money to suit them, so the employees were cut.

In St Catharines, the St Catharines Standard has been taken over by the Southam chain and the Southam chain will now be controlled, it appears, by Conrad Black and Hollinger, at least by Conrad Black. What are we seeing in St Catharines? We're seeing significant layoffs at the St Catharines Standard; people in the production end, many who aren't going to have an easy time finding another job; "Out the door, take a hike." Even in the composing room, in the distribution of the newspaper, in the clerical end of things, in all aspects we're seeing a major downsizing and Conrad Black hasn't even taken full control yet. You can imagine what will happen when Hollinger gets full control.

As I say, I understand. If you're losing a lot of money you can't carry that on for years, but surely -- what is enough profit, I ask? What is enough profit? What happens is, you get popular on the stock market for about a year. You get a blip for about a year on the stock market by laying all these people off and by temporarily increasing the profits; they would say making yourself more efficient. But what happens is, about a year later you're back down in the regular place in the stock market and you've got far fewer employees. They're people who are not spending money in your community.

You can't tell me that the quality of a newspaper is going to increase when you decrease the number of people working in that newspaper, and the local content can't be nearly so great if you're going to have simply the chain funnelling news down. We have Canadian Press in jeopardy now, an institution in Canada that kind of keeps us all together, that informs the people of Iroquois Falls, St Catharines, Smooth Rock Falls, Blenheim, Cobden and many places in Ontario. It takes stories from all over Ontario and Canada and tells us about one another, and that's in jeopardy now, certainly of downsizing and eventually perhaps being removed. That's most unfortunate for informing Canadians about one another. That's not something we can applaud.

I believe there's a danger to editorial content and freedom of expression because the publisher of the newspaper is going to have some influence on that which is published. When one man controls over half of the newspapers in Canada, I don't think that's healthy for the newspaper business. As wise as the person might be -- I happened to hear him speak at Brock University, an extremely articulate individual, Conrad Black, a very capable individual, very successful in many ways. However, I don't think it's healthy that he own all of the newspapers that he does own now and that he's after even more of those newspapers in this country.

Video lottery terminals are going to be necessary, you say now, because of the tax cut that's contained in this bill. You're going to lose money, you're going to lose revenue. So a government that wasn't really contemplating them -- I happen to know the Minister of Finance very well and in years gone by he was totally opposed to video lottery terminals. I suspect behind cabinet doors he still is. What do we see happening? I read the campaign literature, I saw the people who ran on family values and community values and I wonder where those people were in the caucus speaking out against the widespread introduction of video lottery terminals in our society, putting them in the bars and the restaurants in your neighbourhood so that the most desperate people, the most vulnerable people, those addicted to gambling can get at them easily and particularly introducing young people to them. They are in effect electronic slot machines. They will do our society no good. They will get the treasury of this province over $1 billion, but you will pay a tremendous social price for introducing video lottery terminals.

I don't even like casinos, but I accept others do. Even people within my caucus, the Conservative caucus, the NDP who brought in casinos, think they're helpful for us, and I accept that. I accept that we have them now and we're going to have one in Niagara Falls. I would just as soon not have one, but we're going to have one in Niagara Falls. I don't want to fight old battles, but this is a very significant escalation in gambling opportunities. The most seductive, the most insidious form of gambling, referred to as the crack cocaine of gambling because it's an instant hit. A person gets an instant result from putting money in.

What's going to happen as a result of this? You're bound to see more crime. You're going to have people who know that there's more money within the establishment where it's contained, who want to go in and rob them. You're going to have people who are desperate to get more money who are going to be engaged in robbery. You're going to have family squabbles at home as the breadwinners in the family don't bring home what they're supposed to, but blow it all in these machines.

I think what's going to happen -- and I've read petitions into the record on this issue many times -- you people are going to be and everybody's going to be paying for many years to come a terrible social price. I ask the members who are the good church people of the Conservative caucus and those who have so strongly over the years supported the Conservative Party to look at these policies. This policy -- and of course I think of beer on the golf course and the places open to 2 am now, and again, that's a policy the government has announced. But all of these things, and I hear silence on the government benches from the family values crowd, from those who have a lot to say about other issues, particularly in the federal field. Let's hear you in that caucus challenging the people who want this tainted money for the government of Ontario.

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One of the reasons you're doing it is because you're losing the revenue with this tax cut and you're desperate for funds so you can try to balance the budget. The tax cut means a cut in health care services. I heard it said that you're going to spend $17 billion. I would like you to explain to the people going into the general hospital today how they're going to get better service with 230 fewer employees at that hospital. It can't happen; it's silly. But the hospital administration have to put a good face on this, because they are afraid, as I mentioned earlier, that you're going to cut them further.

I think of home care, I think of user fees for seniors for their essential drugs.

I see the opportunity of perhaps passing -- I hope not, because I'm going to suggest an area where you could invest some funds if you were to keep those funds, and that is in the environmental restoration of Martindale Pond in St Catharines. That is the location of the Henley rowing course where we had world championship rowing in years gone by, and national rowing championships. I think that you can assist in that environmental restoration by matching the funds provided by the federal government and the local municipality --

Mr Stockwell: Spend, spend, spend.

Mr Bradley: -- and assist in meeting the obligations of hosting the 1999 world rowing championships.

My friend from Etobicoke West who interjects from the table says to me, "Spend, spend, spend." This is an investment, because it will pay dividends. People will be attracted from all over the world to St Catharines, to our province of Ontario. They will be spending their money in this province. I know my friend the member for Etobicoke-Lakeshore, who understands these matters so well, would be extremely supportive of that, an athlete in his day of some repute, of some renown in his day. I know he would agree with that.

I hope you have some money for road signs. The road sign policy of this province over a series of years has been nuts. They allow certain things on the highways and allow something else not to happen. I remember I tried to persuade people to put a sign for Brock University. Now we have a hat on the road with an arrow. For some people, I guess that tells them Brock University is in that direction. Why don't we just have a sign that says, "Brock University, next turn"?

Mr Stockwell: I've got a better one; the old one with the question mark.

Mr Bradley: Yes, the one with the question mark; that's right. I think there should be a review of this signage.

I remember when the Liberal Party was in power I had to take a photograph of a sign on the highway to prove to the Minister of Highways that there was such a sign. It was in Jim Snow's riding, so it was perhaps a bit unique. The sign said, "To get to Martindale Road, take Seventh Street south." I wanted it to say, "Take Seventh Street." "Oh, we don't allow those signs." So you know how slowly the traffic moves coming into Toronto; we're going past Oakville, which used to be represented by Jim Snow, and I found a sign that says, I think, "For Dorval Drive, take Kerr Street," or, "For Kerr Street, take Dorval Drive." I got out and took a photograph of it, because traffic had stopped, and proved to the then Minister of Transportation that indeed that was allowed.

I'd like to see them, for instance, have a sign that says, "The Henley rowing course." I'm not looking for those ugly signs that all of us see now in our municipalities that are the blight of municipalities, those gaudy signs with bright lime and bright pink and so on that are all over the municipality. They're not effective at all because there are so many and they're a blight on the community. It looks like some commercial community in downtown Tennessee or something of that nature. I've not been to Tennessee, but I've heard of that.

You're going to raise tuition as a result. Because of the tax cut, you're going to raise tuition. Again, we're going to go back to the 1950s when mostly the sons and daughters of the rich and privileged could go to university and community college and the rest, it was just too bad, unless they were outstanding scholars and could obtain scholarships. I don't think that's right. I don't think we can ensure equality of outcomes. That's not possible. But what we can have is equality of opportunity. Give people an equal opportunity to succeed; if they don't, that's a problem for them, but give them that equal opportunity.

When you increase by 20% -- after a 42% increase by the NDP, which was going to abolish tuition -- if you add on top of that a 20% increase now, at a time when students are having a hard time getting jobs, then I think you're going to deny some people the opportunity to have post-secondary education.

I told the member for Grey-Owen Sound I would mention POWA, the program that assists older workers who have been laid off. That member has raised the issue, and I promised him tonight -- because I know he has raised it, as others have -- that I would raise that issue. I hope you find some funds for that program. It's really a good program of adjustment for older workers who don't have a chance. People in their mid-50s who've been laid off and don't have a lot of job prospects, they need assistance as well to try to get back in the workforce, perhaps getting retrained and helped out. The member for Grey-Owen Sound and I would like to see that happen.

I hope that your ministers will attack gas prices, the oil companies who are responsible for it. Instead of attacking taxes, as the Republicans do in the US, attack those who are increasing, and that is the gas companies who are making huge profits and raising the cost to all of us.

The Minister of Environment and Energy is here. I wish her well in trying to obtain more resources to carry out her responsibility. I think what this government has done to the Ministry of Environment and Energy and to this minister is not acceptable, because they have simply taken away the tools for a minister to be able to do the job as no doubt she would like to. In her previous incarnation, she had an environmental store in Guelph and certainly was very concerned about the environment and probably remains concerned about it. I am concerned when I see huge cuts in the budget, when I see staff being stolen from every direction from that ministry. I hope that others in the government will speak on behalf of the Minister of Environment and Energy to get those necessary resources.

The support and custody office: I think you're making a mistake when you close down the regional offices. I hope you make it so it's accessible for both sides in the fight. We're not going to take sides, but for anybody who wants to have access to it so that they have easy and instant access, so the office isn't several weeks behind and causing a dispute between two people who are having to resolve some problem over support and custody payments.

I'm supposed to mention Sacred Heart school in LaSalle and the portables and I hope that you look after those portables, because it's a genuine problem.

Last, I hope you understand that we must have a good quality of life in this country if we are to satisfy our citizens and if we are to be truly Canadian. I see a movement towards the Americanization of Canada. There are a lot of things I admire about the United States, but not the polarization between the very wealthy and the poorest people in their society. I hope that you will stand up as members for a truly Canadian society.

The Acting Speaker (Mr Dan Newman): Questions or comments?

Mrs Pupatello: I am glad to have this opportunity to speak with you this evening, and especially following on the heels of the member for St Catharines. As many of you may know, in a previous life he was involved in the education system and so who better might know --

Mr Dwight Duncan (Windsor-Walkerville): A great member.

Mrs Pupatello: A great member from St Catharines, yes -- who might better know the kind of effects that this government, and indeed the last budget, will have in terms of wreaking havoc on the education system? In fact, we had an opportunity not long ago to look at some very special schools that exist in Ontario and that are funded by the Ontario government. Those are schools for children with significant physical disabilities. There are six of them and there is one in Jim Bradley's riding in the Niagara Peninsula.

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We had an opportunity to speak with them and look at what was happening as a result of what the government must implement because of the budget it's introduced. They're talking about changing these schools and the school boards they're affiliated with, but even though they're just talking about maybe changing the name of a school board they might be matched with, what it really means is the funding levels affiliated with these special schools.

These are children who are our most-at-risk children in Ontario. We've got to be worried about those children and we've got to be worried that we do secure the funding, that we may want to change the kind of funding affiliated with it but never reduce the levels of it. I applaud the member for St Catharines and also applaud the fact that those parents continue to call and talk to us about the real issues at the school level.

Mr Skarica: I want to comment on the member for St Catharines giving the government investment advice. I find it intriguing for a Liberal to give anyone investment advice. It seems to me that when a Liberal government invests money, it invests the taxpayers' money and continues to do so until it's all gone.

A perfect example is the Canada pension plan, which will be bankrupt in 10 years, we're hearing. That was a Liberal government scheme. They were going to invest your money for the future, and now the future is here and the money is all gone. Now we get the Liberal version of more for less under the Canada pension plan; it's more taxes for less benefits. That's the Liberal version of more for less.

The member for St Catharines as well, throughout all his speeches, has indicated he's prepared to answer questions, so I have a question for him. He always asks people to listen to him, and I notice he's not listening to me. In any event, we have been criticized by him and his party for each and every cut we've made, for each and every downsize, which is now in the area of 11,000 employees. The Liberal campaign document indicated they were going to downsize 12,000 people. How were you going to do it? Who were you going to downsize if each and every cut, each and every downsize, we've engaged in you've opposed?

Mr Stockwell: I'd like to comment briefly on the member for St Catharines and his brief intervention into this particular debate. I'd like to remind him, when he speaks about the worthy programs that environmentalists would probably like to see funded, that this gentleman from St Catharines was the environment minister. He held that lofty position.

He's the guy who introduced the tire tax. Remember the tire tax? That was a tax designed specifically to be applied to tires, and that money would be taken in and applied to environmental projects to help relieve the province of these massive tire dumps. The member for Windsor-Walkerville is leaving in a pique of rage. The tire tax was probably a very opportune time to clean up that particular pond problem you had in St Catharines. It probably would have been a good time to fund those environmental programs.

Furthermore, you had that commercial concentration tax. Remember that one? You probably could have used the funds then to do a lot of those worthy projects you spoke about.

I don't want to say that the member for St Catharines is not a progressive member. He is progressive, but he's more progressive on the tax side than he is on the savings side. He's also very progressive on the spending side. Let it be said on the record that he ran a government in a different period of time, the 1980s, when people were calling for more, more, more. Let it also be said when the people were calling for more, more, more, the Liberals were very willing to oblige. They kept going -- more, more and more.

Before you go ahead condemning this government for trying to balance the books, there were a few little hitches in your plan back in the 1980s. They should cause some sleepless nights for a few of the Grits across the floor.

Mr Pat Hoy (Essex-Kent): The member for St Catharines was talking about jobs during his few moments in this debate. I too have looked at the tax cut. The government has said, "This is going to create many of these 725,000 jobs we promised during our campaign." If that was true, one would wonder why they are implementing the tax cut so slowly, because in my riding many people are looking for jobs. Here we have a government that says a 30% tax cut is going to generate many of the jobs it predicted, 725,000, and now it's bringing it in so slowly and making the people of Ontario wait for the opportunity to get those jobs.

As well, the young people in my community are greatly concerned about tuition increases. Tuition is going up at a rate as high as 20%. They're coming to me and saying, "We can't find a summer job" -- a traditional thing for many of them -- "that can offset part or perhaps all of the 20% increase." They are seeking help from this government in that regard. Of course, a tax cut is not going to give them the jobs; they're not in the economy yet. They want to be good citizens and produce in this economy, provide for a family in the future, and they're being stifled by tuition increases and the lack of summer jobs.

Admittedly, there may be jobs in some areas, but in my riding the students are finding it very difficult to find any kind of summer employment, and these young men and women will take jobs of any type.

Mr Bradley: First of all, for the member for Wentworth North, who always likes to take a shot at me, the first thing I can say to him is that he should go to his Attorney General and ask him why he's firing so many prosecutors in this province. You were a prosecutor in your previous incarnation, and he's turning around and firing all of your colleagues. I would have thought you had a full-time job just trying to look after your prosecutor friends in this province.

Second, I always enjoy the member for Etobicoke West; he's a person with a great sense of humour. He will recall, because he sat in this House for part of that time, but even before then, from 1985 to 1990, I must give the Conservative caucus credit. More members stood and demanded that the government spend more money on more projects than I'd ever seen before. Many of his colleagues who sit in the House today used to rise daily, and I would have to fend them off. I'd say: "Look, we can't move that quickly. We're trying to balance the budget." In 1989 we did balance the budget. The continuous assault by Conservative members, including Mike Harris, on the Liberal government benches demanding more money was something to behold.

Mr Sean Conway (Renfrew North): Harris's line was, "I want my share of the waste."

Mr Bradley: That's what he used to say himself; the member is right.

As well, I appreciate the work by Sandra Pupatello, the member for Windsor-Sandwich, who raised the issue of obstetricians. The government retreated; I saw the white flag go up with the Minister of Health. She mentioned the jobs for the young people; they capitulated and brought in a jobs program. Now I hope they do the same and capitulate to her legitimate request for the school in LaSalle, Sacred Heart.

The Acting Speaker: The member's time has expired. The Chair recognizes the member for Cochrane South.

Mr Bisson: Thank you very much, Mr Speaker. Nice to see you in the chair this evening.

This is one of the few times in the Legislature where members have an opportunity, because it is a budget bill, to speak on the entire agenda of the government. For people watching at home, normally when a specific bill comes up, a particular piece of legislation, you have to confine your comments to that. But as this is a budget bill, we have an opportunity to speak overall on the government's agenda. That's one of the reasons you're seeing such an interest in this debate tonight in regard to the number of members who are speaking.

Listen, this is what it's all about, this is where the rubber meets the road, this is what the government is trying to do. This particular bill, Bill 47, which is a budget bill, is all about the tax cut. It's all about fulfilling a promise on the part of the Conservative government -- at the time the third party -- which promised that if they got elected they would give people a 30% tax cut.

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Let me say something to my Conservative friends. There is nobody in Ontario, I would think, who would say no to a tax cut; hardly anyone who would say no to a tax cut on the face question.

Mr Rob Sampson (Mississauga West): Peter Kormos.

Mr Bisson: I won't repeat what I just heard there.

If you were to ask the average person on the street, "Do you want to get a tax cut?" I think 99.9% of the people in Ontario would say yes; no question about that. Where the problem lies is that if you're willing to take that tax cut at the cost of what this government's agenda is all about, it becomes a lot more dicey for the government.

That's basically the argument that the opposition New Democrats and the opposition Liberals are making: The government, in its zeal to balance its budget, to keep its pledge to do that, is having to cut even deeper and harder to be able to deal with giving people a tax cut.

People are really wondering out there. It's not everybody who's in agreement with what the government is doing on the tax cut. There are a lot of people who stand back there. There are practical people who say, "In a time when the government has a deficit, does it make sense to give a tax cut?" Most people I talk to, and I think most people out there, would say no. You give a tax cut at a time a government has a balanced budget. You give a tax cut at a time the government has maybe more money in the budget than just being balanced, actually has a surplus. Then it makes some sense. You can manage the cut against the expenditures in such a way that people don't get hurt.

What we're starting to find is that the government, in its zeal to be able to pass this tax cut of 30%, which will probably represent $4 billion to $6 billion depending on which numbers you utilize -- that's the cost of that.

Let's put into perspective what $4 billion to $6 billion means. The government, to pay its tax cut annualized over a period of two or three years, is going to have to find anywhere from $4 billion to $6 billion -- so for the purpose of this debate, let's say $5 billion -- to pay for that tax cut. That is more money than we pay for all the colleges and universities in Ontario. That is more money than we spend for a whole bunch of programs in the Ministry of Northern Development and Mines, the Ministry of Economic Development, Trade and Tourism, the Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs. When you add up all of those budgets, it doesn't come up to the $5 billion you're going to have to cut to be able to deal with the tax cut, and it is almost equal to the amount of money we pay for long-term care in this province.

People are really, truly concerned and they're saying, "Yes, we agree with a tax cut, but not at a time a government's got an $8-billion deficit." To give a tax cut at a time when you have a deficit is irresponsible. The opposition New Democrats and the opposition Liberals are saying: "No, this is not the time to do a tax cut. If you want to do a tax cut, we do that when we have a balanced budget. You don't do it when you have a deficit."

Do people in Ontario agree with the Conservative government that we need to find a way to make government more efficient, that we need to find a way to make government, over a period of time, balance its budget? We, the opposition New Democrats, say yes. We agree with that principle. That's not the issue.

We, as a government, from 1990 to 1995, had to come to terms with that. We went through a process in 1992 of a $2-billion reduction in expenditure through the expenditure control plan, $2 billion through the measures of the social contract and $2 billion in the form of a tax increase to try to balance off the expenditure-revenue issue so that over a period of time we could develop a plan to balance the tax cut.

One of the problems we get into in this Legislature and in the province of Ontario and probably in most other jurisdictions is that politics is what it is: the art of being able to convince a group of voters that your view of the world is right and that your interpretation of the facts as you see them is right. The Conservative opposition, and to a certain degree the Liberal opposition, at the time of the Rae government, convinced the people of Ontario that the entire deficit was the result of irresponsible spending on the part of the New Democratic government.

On that point, I say no. The reality is that what happened at the time of the Rae government was there was a recession. We came to power in 1990. I remember the day well, September 6, 1990. Barely a month and a half later we went to our first caucus meeting with our Treasurer of the day, Floyd Laughren, who came before the caucus of the New Democratic Party and said: "Guys and gals, we have ourselves a problem. The Liberals have reported a surplus in their budget," but they had at that point, in October 1990, a $2.7-billion deficit and if we did absolutely nothing as a government we would be at about a $9-billion deficit by the end of the fiscal year.

The one mistake we did as a New Democratic government was that we decided we would not be political and would try to be reasonable as a government and try not to blame all of the problem on the Liberals, because really it wasn't. It was the economy. It wasn't that the Liberals had done everything wrong. The reality, free trade and the rest of it came to roost. The government of the day, the Peterson government, found itself in a position where it lost revenue at a time when the province could least afford it. People were falling into social assistance and the cost went up.

I believe -- I don't want to be confrontational with my opposition colleagues in the Liberal Party -- that's the reason Peterson called the election of 1990 as early as he did. He looked at the revenue and he said, "My Lord, look at that revenue drop, and if I don't call an election and I have to call two years from now, I will be facing $9 billion to 10 billion in deficit and I can't win under those terms." So he called an early election.

The big mistake we did as New Democrats was not that we spent the province dry, as the Tories would try to make you believe; the reality is there was $9 billion of deficit that was structural in regard to what had happened to how government was set up in 1990 to provide for people through health care, education and others, and if we had done absolutely nothing as a government, we would have ended up at $9 billion no matter what we did.

What we didn't do was to try to expose that point on a political partisanship to blame the Peterson government for what it had left us. We thought -- I think to a certain extent we were right in doing this in regard to being true to our principles -- and we said: "We will not blame the Liberals because they're not entirely to blame. Yes, they're hiding some of the facts from the public, but it is not their fault that the deficit has gone up."

We got caught, when we presented our first budget in the spring of 1991, with a $9.7-billion deficit because we did increase spending by almost $1 billion -- just under, $900 million -- in providing the anti-recession program that was heavy in the investment of capital infrastructure and the wage protection plan that kicked in in the second year of our government. That was the new expenditure of the Bob Rae government.

When we presented our budget in the spring of 1991, the reality is there was a structural deficit that was in place that got blamed on the NDP government and we never really were able to rebound from that because of the way we positioned it. I guess, to a certain extent, we were somewhat naïve as a government. We tried to be fair, we tried to be compromising, and in the end we paid the political price. I think if we're re-elected, we'll never do that one again.

It brings me to the point of where we are. You didn't hear the New Democratic government in 1991 talking about tax cuts, because if you look at the expenditures and you look at the revenue, there was almost a $10-billion difference. We said, "Listen, we believe" -- as my colleague from Hamilton Centre said in the debate earlier -- "that according to all the projections of the finance people, not only within the Ministry of Finance but within all of the financial institutions across Ontario that give advice to the government of Ontario" -- not public service people but people from the private sector -- "we are going to be into a recession for 1990, 1991, 1992, and then we would come out."

We said, "We'll hold the course, we will not do massive cutting and we will try to protect people." That's what Floyd Laughren, the Treasurer, in 1991 announced in his budget, that he would not fight the recession on the backs of working people. That was seen to be as a negative by the media, and I'll get to that later.

The point is that we decided as a government in 1991 that we would stay the course, that we would increase expenditures by $1 billion to bring us up to $10 billion -- $10.1 billion in the end, or whatever the actual number was -- and then we would end up able to benefit from a rebound in the economy, according to the predictions we had within the Ministry of Finance and also the predictions of the private sector, and be able to deal with it.

Then 1992 came and it didn't happen. Why? There was a major restructuring going on in the economy of Ontario. Ontario, the heartland, the engine of the economy, was undergoing tremendous changes that had never been seen since the 1930s. We were seeing massive job losses in the industrial sector across this province. We were seeing layoffs in mining, in steel, in automotive, in all kinds of industries that resulted in less people working, less people paying taxes, and people needing government services even more.

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It wasn't until 1992-93 that we, as a government, said: "Hey, listen, we don't believe the predictions any more. This is not going to get any better and we need to start dealing with it." I believe as a government from 1992 on, we dealt progressively with trying to deal with the issue. If we had done nothing in 1992, the deficit, when this government came to power, would have been somewhere around $17 billion to $18 billion. That's where it would have been. Our measures in the end were able to save, over a period of two or three years, somewhere in the neighbourhood of $8 billion.

We did that with great political capital being lost. There were all kinds of groups that protested the Rae government's actions. They protested on the restructuring of the expenditure control plan and they protested on the question of the social contract. I remember in the city of Timmins on Algonquin Street having over a thousand workers protesting in front of my office over the social contract. I'm saying this for a reason. The media, with great venom, was out there portraying the social democratic party of Ontario, the NDP, as the great villain of capitalism and the spendthrifts of the province of Ontario.

I've been wanting to give this speech for about a year and this is the time I'm going to give it. In fairness, that is not what happened. What really offends me by this government is it has a revisionist history of what happened in the province of Ontario. They believe, as Mike Harris would say, there were 10 lost years. The Liberals blew the bank and the NDP did the same and it was all terrible and it's because of them that everything's so awful today.

Wake up. Come into 1996 and realize that what happened over the last 10, 15 years is a total restructuring of our economy. Look in your communities. How many people have lost their jobs over the last 10 or 15 years because of restructuring in the private sector, because of global competition, because of free trade, because of NAFTA, because of the GATT, because of all kinds of measures on the part of right-wing governments, quite frankly, that have precipitated this, in order to favour whom? Big companies and multinationals. In the end, we in this province have paid the price because we are the engine that drives the economy of Canada. All of the industries, from mining to automotive, have had to pay the price.

I come from the industry of mining, where I first was hired in the local mines in Timmins for the Pamour Group, McIntyre division. We operated a 3,000-ton-a-day mill in Schumacher, and to operate that mill and to operate that mine, we probably had a workforce of about 800 people working at today's wages of about $18 to $21 an hour. Back then it was less, but that's what it would have been today.

What does it do now? Now it's closed, which is a whole other story. There's still ore under there. It became a question of, was it enough profit for the company? The point is that we've gone from needing 800 people to do that work of 3,000 tons a day of extraction, down to about 200, so all those people are without work. And you guys have the gall as Conservatives to stand here and to say the problem is that governments have spent you dry? Wake up. Come on. You know in your communities there are all kinds of people who are unemployed and they became unemployed because of globalization, because of all of the things the corporate sector has done in order to favour the rules to their point so they can maximize profits.

Companies now don't measure, "Can I break even in order to stay in business?" They say: "What's my profit margin? If my profit margin isn't high enough, I'm closing up shop, or I'm laying off." The Canadian Imperial Bank of Commerce -- which made how much last year; almost $1 billion -- is still laying people off. Why? Because their profit margin isn't high enough. There are all kinds of examples in the private sector where they're not satisfied with what they've got, they want more. And who pays? It's us, the middle class, the people of this province and of this country who have built this country and made it what it is.

So I get pretty upset when I listen to Mike Harris and the rest of the cabinet go through the mantra of the 10 lost years. It's revisionist history at its worst and the government should at least have the fortitude and the political courage and the decency to acknowledge what has happened in this country and what has happened in this province over the last 10 or 15 years, which is, we have undergone a massive restructuring.

The government says today it is going to deal with trying to balance the budget and restore confidence in the economy so the economy can be built up again. It got elected as a majority government with a platform, and a key part of that platform was the tax cut. I say to you today, it is irresponsible on the part of a government to give people a tax cut at the point that you're having to reduce expenditure, because it only makes it worse. The benefit is the government is saying: "Oh, if we give a 30% tax cut, it's trickle-down economics. The province of Ontario will prosper." You nod your head, but that's the basis. You give a 30% tax cut and people will take that money they get back from their tax cut and they will go and spend it in the economy to revive the economy. That's the principle. That's what you guys are saying.

There's a certain amount of that that's going to happen, certainly. There are a few people who will go out and spend that money, but almost 50% of the people who are going to get the largest chunk of money from this tax cut are people who are going to take that money, sock it into RRSPs or some kind of an investment vehicle, or are going to take the money and spend it abroad overseas or in the United States on holidays. How do we in Ontario benefit from that if half of the tax cut ends up out of here?

The rest of us are so worried about trying to make ends meet on $10-an-hour jobs and $8-an-hour jobs, because that's all this new economy is creating, that the tax cut we get because of our income is so low that it's not going to make a difference.

I say to the government, shame. You'd be better off taking that tax cut and not passing it on to people and trying to figure out ways to be able to build on some of the things that Ontario has shown itself to be great for in regard to economic development. There are all kinds of examples of what governments can do that is positive and not intrusive in the economy to assist the economy to develop the jobs that we need, to deal with trying to get people to work to rebuild the economy, but no, the government chooses differently.

I say to the government, shame on you. You'd be better off trying to build on the success of programs that were initially designed by the Conservative government: the northern Ontario heritage fund that helps businesses in northern Ontario get off the ground, get that seed capital that's necessary to be able to lever the dollar from the banks so that they can start up. You'd be better off to continue with initiatives that we started as a government or the Liberals started as a government that do similar things. Those would be positive measures, and I as a member would not be standing in this House criticizing you if you did that. I'd give you full marks. But no, you have taken the other way.

What also alienates me as a New Democrat is that this government has found a target. They have found a way to lay blame for all the ills of our economy. It is not only the NDP and the Liberal 10 lost years, because we're part of this target; it is the working poor and it is the welfare poor of this province who are to blame. The premise of what you are saying as a government is, "If you're on welfare, it's because you don't want to work." You will create workfare to get people to work because the premise is, if you force people to go and get a job on welfare, they'll go out and get a magical job somewhere that doesn't exist and get off. That's what you guys are saying.

You're saying that a person who is on welfare in the city of Timmins or in the town of Matheson or Iroquois Falls is there because they want to be, and if you force them to work 17 hours a week in a workfare job, they will choose not to do that and get a real job. I will tell you as the government, Timmins is doing well and Iroquois Falls and Matheson are doing relatively well, but not well enough to get full employment. There is unemployment in this province.

Those are some of the issues that we want to deal with as a party and that's part of the platform of Howard Hampton in his leadership campaign. That speech will be at convention. The point I am making is that the punitive measures that you have in the end only serve to target those people, number one, who are least able to defend themselves and, number two, who are at this point, being on welfare, really feeling fairly vulnerable, and you as MPPs know as well as I do, because they come into your office.

I'll always remember October 1990 when I was walking down Algonquin Street and a friend of mine whom I had worked with at the McIntyre Porcupine Mines, who had been laid off because of the recession, stopped me and he said: "Gilles, I've got a problem. I've been trying to apply for welfare because I've run out of unemployment insurance. Can you give me a hand?" As an eager new member -- you new Tory members over here all know that: as new members, you want to help. That's what you're here for, and I believe that.

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I walked into the welfare department of the city of Timmins, and when I walked into the reception area of the welfare department, half of them were people I had worked with at the McIntyre Porcupine mine, at the Pamour mine, at the Aunor mine and at the Hollinger property or from the Dome mine. Half of them were hardworking people, like people in this Legislature. The only difference is, their luck didn't hold out. They got laid off because of the economy. They got laid off because of globalization. They got laid off because of a whole bunch of reasons.

There they were sitting waiting for their welfare cheques or sitting waiting for their application forms, and I'll tell you, every one of them, every man Jack was ready to melt into the walls when they saw me walk in there, and I was trying to find a way out pretty quick. That's when it came home to roost for me. These people are not trying to milk the system. They are victims of the economy, and a government that tries to blame them for the problem is a government unworthy to govern. You're picking on the people who are least able to defend themselves and the biggest victims of our economy.

So I helped the individual. In the end, he did get social assistance benefits from the city of Timmins. You know when he got a job? Two years later, when we did Jobs Ontario Training. That's when he got a job. And you know what? He's still working.

I listen to the member from Cobourg -- I don't remember the riding.

Mr Newman: Northumberland.

Mr Bisson: Northumberland -- talk about Jobs Ontario being a total disaster, that everybody who was in there, when the subsidy from the government ended, didn't have a job. No way: 85% were still working a year after Jobs Ontario Training had ended. They were still working. That was a positive measure. It wasn't perfect, but it was a lot better than what you guys are doing.

To continue the story along the welfare line, the other part of this -- you have all learned this as members; you've had to deal with this as Tories. I went to Joe Torlone, the administrator of the city of Timmins welfare department, and Darcy Gallipeau, his assistant. I said: "I want to have a meeting with you guys. I want you to sit down and go through the cases of this office and I want you to flag the percentage of cases you have here that you believe are fraud, that you believe could be fraud or you remotely suspect may be fraud." Do you know what the percentage was? Less than 7%.

The rest of them, when I looked at the names -- which I shouldn't have done, but I happened to do that without their knowledge; I wouldn't admit that, but in this Legislature I can do that -- those were people I knew. They were neighbours, they were friends, they were family. They were people who had been affected by the recession. It wasn't a very good feeling. Then I went off to the Ministry of Community and Social Services and met with Denis Lozier, the head of the Comsoc in Timmins, and it was a similar story in regard to what happened to people on disability and FBA.

Sure there are abusers, no question, but you know what's going to happen? Your welfare-workfare program -- the abusers will still abuse. I hate to put it this way, but when the ship is sinking, the rats always find a way to save themselves. You will always have in a system -- I hate to use that term because it's too strong. But the point is that you will always have people in the system who abuse. With your workfare program, in the end you will still have 7% to 8% abuse. You know what's going to happen? The individual is going to walk into the workfare area, do the job, and because they're covered by workers' compensation, "Ooh, my back." That's what's going to happen. They'll find ways to abuse, so what are you solving? You're solving nothing.

I say you're better to take a positive measure. Don't pick on them. They're the victims. Why don't we look at the other welfare bums of this province? How many people don't pay taxes? How many corporations like the Canadian Imperial Bank of Commerce -- which made almost $1 billion last year and said, "We're not happy, so we're laying off a bunch of workers so we can make more profits and pay less tax" -- are out there?

That's not going to get you all your money. I recognize that. I was in government. You don't have enough money with the rich to eliminate the deficit of Ontario. You might be able to raise, if you're lucky, half a million dollars, but at least you're sending the right message. You're not saying that the poor are to blame.

I'm getting calls in my constituency offices in Timmins and Iroquois Falls and in Matheson, and I'm sure as government members you're getting them, from people being laid off from the Ontario civil service, the school boards and the cities, and they're wondering where they're going to go. There's not a lot of hope out there. And here you've got somebody who might be working at anywhere from $14 to $21 an hour, depending on the job he or she did, who's looking at a pink slip and saying: "Where do I go? I live in Iroquois Falls. I don't have a lot of places to go."

Interjection: You don't live in Iroquois Falls.

Mr Bisson: I'm talking about the constituent. "Do I move away as an individual," says the constituent, "to Hamilton or Toronto, when I've lived all my life in this community?" In Matheson or Timmins, it's the same. No. Those people don't have a lot of places to go, and do you know where they're going to end up? They're going to end up on UIC, and when that's over, guess where? They're going to be in a welfare job, they're going to be in your workfare.

I don't say that as a government you don't have to deal with the question of expenditure. Sure you do. That's what we were doing, and it's not easy. We paid the price. We as a government said, "Rather than laying civil servants off by the thousands and the tens of thousands, we will try to find another way."

That other way was a fairly difficult one for us as a government and a difficult one for the labour movement and for the civil service. It was called the social contract. We tried as a government to say, "Maybe if people were to share the work at one day per month, in the end we can keep more people." The civil service and a bunch of people in the union said: "No, no, no way, Bob Rae. We want out of this one." And we paid the price. I don't believe the social contract killed us as a government -- there were other issues -- but we certainly lost seats over it. We paid the price. But do you know what? I say this in the House: If I had to vote for it again, I would, because it is a heck of a better alternative voting for a social contract than voting for what you guys are doing, which is a dismantling of what we understand to be the civil service of Ontario and the programs it delivers.

I believe we should have been learning from the social contract and saying as a government, either as New Democrats or Tories, "Maybe we learn from that." It was certainly difficult, and it wasn't perfect; I don't stand here and say the social contract was perfect. Certainly there were difficulties, but maybe we learn from that and maybe we find ways to share work better. Maybe we try to eliminate overtime. Maybe we ask whether it's fair that in Oakville where Ford has a plant, 36% of the cars built are built on overtime hours, while some kid down the street can't get a job. Is that fair? Sure, the overtime worker gets more money, but maybe the kid down the street needs a job more than that person needs the overtime money.

Why don't we deal with those issues? Why don't we penalize companies that pay overtime as a benefit because they don't want to hire new employees, and encourage employers to hire new employees by keeping the payroll taxes down? I admit the government has done some of that in regard to the payroll taxes, something that we did and that you're continuing. I haven't got a problem with that.

But I say to the government, you cannot give people a tax cut at the time you have a deficit. The other thing you cannot keep doing is blaming those people in our society who are the victims of the economy and use them as the scapegoats for your Common Sense Revolution. Rather, we should be trying to build positive measures. We should be trying to challenge each other on the left, on the right, and somewhere in the middle, for my Liberal friends, a way to find some solutions that benefit all of us, but don't benefit only one. Labour shouldn't be the only winner, but neither should the corporate sector. That's where I'm at. I stand for trying to find that way, and that's what I'll be working on over the next number of years.

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The Speaker (Hon Allan K. McLean): Questions or comments?

Mr Bill Murdoch (Grey-Owen Sound): It gives me pleasure to speak on the long-winded speech we just had from the member for Cochrane South. These socialists go on and on about what we can do and what they'd do, but all they want to do is spend more money. That's all they could seem to do. They say: "Let's tax the corporations. Let's chase them out of Ontario." They've never figured out that if there isn't anybody here to hire people to work, there aren't going to be any jobs.

Maybe they should come in here sometimes and talk about specific problems. In these long hours of the night sometimes we get a chance to talk to people, and tonight I've talked to the member for Windsor-Sandwich about a problem she has in her riding. Sacred Heart school in LaSalle has portables with holes, and we need to work on that. These are the kinds of things we should be doing in here, rather than rambling on with rhetoric, that if they were in government, they would have done something like this. They should have been looking after some of these problems before and they might still be around.

We have these portables in Windsor-Sandwich that should be looked at. Right now, at this very minute, our member for Wentworth North, who is part of the Ministry of Education, is talking about this problem. So sometimes in this House we can get some things done and it does help to be here, but it's unfortunate we have to wait right to midnight and listen to the kind of speech we just heard, all rhetoric and not meaning much.

Mr Conway: I want to make a comment about the speech. I thought the member, with whom I don't always agree, made a very strong case for those mine towns and mill towns and rail towns that are the reality of northern Ontario where on altogether too many occasions the bottom falls out, and when the bottom falls out of those single-industry resource towns, irrespective of whether it's Bob Rae, David Peterson, John Robarts, Les Frost, I'll tell you, there is a real problem. I thought the member made a good comment about the reality of people who never expected that they would need the social safety net because they never expected to be dispossessed and unemployed in their lifetime. I know something of what he speaks.

Whether or not the New Democratic Party prescriptions are the be-all and the end-all for those people -- probably not. I remember Leo Bernier had the idea that if we built Minaki Lodge, that would be the beginning of a new day in northwestern Ontario. Well, it didn't quite work out that way.

But I think the member makes a very powerful point in reminding us, particularly in these resource towns like Timmins or Iroquois Falls, that if the single employer in the resource sector, sometimes the government of Ontario, sometimes a crown corporation like CN, decides to close the door and walk away, there is a history of 100 years of settlement that has to be dealt with, and I don't think there are very many members, of any political stripe, who would walk away from that. That's the point he made that registered with me.

Mr R. Gary Stewart (Peterborough): I want to make a comment. I took a bit of exception to it when the member suggested terminology like "welfare bums" and "welfare people" leaving the area like rats. I have difficulty with that.

As I listened to that particular speech, all I heard was what we in the rural area call passing the buck. It's about time that the past governments realized and accepted the financial situation we're in now. When the Harris government got in, we found a debt, a very major debt. We reacted to it and we acted on it. That's the difference between what we have done and how we're dealing with it and what has been done in the past.

I can assure you that we can downsize, rationalize and restructure all you want, but in business, if you don't do something over here to generate some dollars, get the economy moving, get business thinking more positive, nothing will ever happen. There will be a ripple effect from the tax cut that will turn this province around. There is absolutely no doubt about it.

My concern is that past members of this House have stood and talked about recession and how tough times were, but forgot to take responsibility for the situation we're in now, that this government, the Harris government, is going to turn around and is reacting to.

Mr Michael A. Brown (Algoma-Manitoulin): I enjoyed the speech from the member for Cochrane South. We disagree on many things, but we agree on many things, and one of those things is that our constituents really do need to be treated in a fair and equitable way regardless of where they live, and that the vagaries of the economy are often beyond their control.

I want to talk for one second about a situation in my constituency that I find really quite unbelievable, and that is, we've had ferry services -- the Speaker would know -- between Tobermory and South Baymouth on Manitoulin Island for many years. Around about 1972, if my memory is correct, the Conservative government of Ontario chose to replace two very old package freighters that were conveying people to Manitoulin Island from Tobermory in a three-and-a-half hour trip with a new ship that was built at Collingwood, which the member from Owen Sound would appreciate. That ship, the Chi-Cheemaun, as it was named, built a remarkable business in transporting people to Manitoulin Island.

In 1988, some 16 years later, another government chose to put a new ship into service to supplement the Chi-Cheemaun's efforts, and in so doing increased the ridership by 10,000 or 20,000 people. According to ONTC, it would have probably more than doubled the ridership if it had been allowed to stay in service for eight years. I am totally disgusted; my constituents are totally annoyed; we are upset that the government of Ontario has chosen to sell the Nindawayma for short-term political gain. That is unacceptable.

The Speaker: The member for Cochrane South has up to two minutes to respond.

Mr Murdoch: It had been sitting there for five years.

Mr Michael Brown: Well, put it in service, you donkey.

Mr Bisson: In response to the member for Grey-Owen Sound and the member from Brampton -- they talked about the NDP government not taking responsibility while in government -- give me a break. That is the utmost amount of arrogance I've ever heard. We paid the price as a government for taking that responsibility and doing things to deal with the expenditures of this province.

To the member for Algoma-Manitoulin: He's right. At times government, like business, can make an investment that is all about trying to create more wealth. That's what that particular investment was all about -- to increase the ridership so that we're able to benefit as a local economy on the island of Manitoulin, and the province overall benefits from that.

I want to come back to what I'm trying to tell this government: that people are the victims of the economy. The economy has changed because of all kinds of reasons, and what happens is that people are the victims.

I will tell you what happened to some of those people. I didn't finish what I was saying earlier. One of the people who was in that welfare office when I walked in in the fall of 1990 was desperate. I remember him coming in to see me some time in 1991, maybe early 1992, crying in my office, a grown man whom I worked with, because of the situation he found himself in, being unemployed and on welfare. Eventually, you know what happened, the rest of the story? That person killed himself.

Mr Murdoch: Who was in government?

Mr Bisson: The member says, "Who was the government?" You, sir, are unbelievable.

Mr Murdoch: Who was in government in 1990? If you are going to crap on somebody, you better crap on yourself.

Mr Bisson: The member for Grey-Owen Sound is unbelievable and insensitive. The point is that people are the victims, people are the ones who pay the price of what happens in the economy. We need to find positive measures to give people hope, not negative ones. I don't want to go anywhere this government is leading.

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The Speaker: Further debate? The member for Ottawa East.

Mr Grandmaître: I want to be on record too on this famous budget. This last budget was the most awaited budget since my coming to Queen's Park, for a number of reasons. The results of the budget were mainly good news, for the simple reason that back in November the Minister of Finance, Mr Eves, had introduced an economic statement announcing all the bad news and in this last budget he was trying to put icing on a very stale cake.

I want to go back to what this government did to get elected and introduce such a budget. I want to go back to my friend the member for Northumberland, who a little while ago said, "We're doing what we said we would do." I don't think the government was -- I was going to say "dishonest"; I know this is not parliamentary. The government didn't come a full turn with the people of Ontario when it said, "Not one cent will be cut from health care spending." That was Mike Harris back in May 1994. "Under this plan, there will be no...user fees." That's the Common Sense Revolution.

What happened with our health care system? Very simple: Our hospitals were cut back by $1.3 billion; health care spending was cut by $70 million; the Ontario drug benefit program -- user fees, $225 million. Talking about user fees in health care, our seniors are being affected by this $2 user fee and also having to pay an extra fee for drugs that are needed. I'm sure that most of our seniors who do need drugs today will suffer and simply can't afford to pay that $2 user fee.

On education: "Classroom funding for education will be guaranteed." That's part of the Common Sense Revolution. I was told by the member for Northumberland that no, these dollars are being reinvested. I want to remind you that the member for Windsor-Sandwich who keeps reminding us that at l'école Sacré-Coeur in her own riding the school yard is full of portables. They dearly need a new school. I don't see any new dollars in the budget, capital dollars, to build this new school in the Windsor-Sandwich riding.

On classroom education: "Classroom funding will be guaranteed." That's part of the Common Sense Revolution. Elementary and secondary schools were cut back by $400 million; colleges and universities, $400 million; schools' capital budgets, $270 million. That's why you didn't get your school at Sacré-Coeur, for the simple reason that they've cut back in capital budgets.

I know the government meant well when it introduced its Common Sense Revolution, but at the same time it didn't tell us exactly how people would suffer and how it would deliver this message. That's the problem, and people don't accept it.

Our municipalities are suffering as well. "We will work closely with municipalities to ensure that any action we take will not result in increases to local property taxes." Every day in this House people complain about municipal taxes and school taxes. Why? Because of those cutbacks. School boards simply cannot afford these cutbacks, so they go to the local taxpayers and increase their taxes. With municipalities, a 47% cutback in their transfer payments; very few municipalities can afford that. Out of our 834 municipalities in Ontario, 650 are considered to be small municipalities with very little assessment and simply can't afford these kinds of cutbacks. Our municipalities were cut back by $658 million; special assistance, $10 million. Our municipalities simply can't afford this.

On social services: "We will allow anyone on welfare to earn back the difference between the current rate and the new lower rate without penalty, without losing their eligibility." That's part of the Common Sense Revolution. What did the government do? Back in July 1995 they cut back welfare by $938 million and social services agencies by $43 million. They even closed down the JobLink training program. Recently introduced by the Minister of Community and Social Services, 48 hours ago, was another program similar to JobLink.

Law enforcement: "Funding for law enforcement and justice will be guaranteed" -- again, part of the Common Sense Revolution. Our municipalities cannot afford to keep their police forces intact and most of them are cutting back on services. As pointed out by the member for St Catharines, in my own riding of Ottawa-Carleton, the new car dealerships had to fork over $15,000 to complete an investigation which was started, and for the lack of money these car dealers were told, "We're sorry, we cannot complete the investigation for the lack of dollars." I don't think our streets are any safer and I haven't heard of any program that will make our streets any safer.

Transportation is another one. Transportation, road repair, maintenance cuts and GO Transit cuts -- $20 million. In my own riding of Ottawa-Carleton or Ottawa East, we were cut back, so much so that OC Transpo is letting go 140 mechanics and bus drivers. I think this is very unfair and now you're going to tell me, "Look, we formed a majority government." They formed a majority government for one reason: People were interested in the 30% decrease in their income tax and they thought the government was serious enough that they would take the next five years, the full term, to introduce these cuts.

Personally, I don't think they should have introduced this 30% tax cut, for the simple reason that this government cannot afford it. They will have to borrow $22 billion. If the deficit was the real problem, why borrow an additional $22 billion in debts again? A little while ago, a member mentioned that it was costing nine cents of every dollar for interest. Now it's going to cost us 11 cents of every dollar to pay for these.

I say that the Common Sense Revolution was well-packaged; it was a slick job and I'm sorry to say that people bought it. But I'm sure that six or eight months down the road, people will be suffering in this province, and I'm telling you, I'm warning Mr Harris and his government, "Be prepared."

J'aimerais prendre quelques minutes pour vous parler des services en français en Ontario. Comme vous le savez, je suis le critique des services en français.

Les services dans les domaines de la santé, de l'éducation et des services sociaux nous touchent de très près. Les compressions budgétaires que je viens d'énoncer affectent la communauté francophone en Ontario. La chose qui m'effraie, c'est que la Loi 8, qui garantissait les services dans les domaines de la santé, de l'éducation et des services sociaux, je crois que la vision du présent gouvernement est d'éliminer ces services. Nous étions fiers de la Loi 8, qui garantissait les services en français, mais avec les compressions budgétaires, on pense plutôt que ces services vont disparaître.

La Loi 8 était une assurance pour la communauté francophone. J'ai même écrit au premier ministre il y a six mois lui demandant de garantir les services en français. Il m'a répondu par écrit que les services en français ne seront pas touchés. Alors, je lui repose la question : comment peut-on offrir les compressions budgétaires telles qu'énoncées tantôt sans affecter les services en français ?

On parle de privatiser un nombre assez considérable de nos services. Dans la région d'Ottawa-Carleton, nous avons 300 organismes francophones qui donnent librement leurs services qui, par contre, reçoivent de l'argent du gouvernement pour la prestation des services en français. Ces organismes, ces agences apprécient le geste du gouvernement, mais la rumeur est que le gouvernement va privatiser la plupart de ces agences. Selon la Loi 8, lorsqu'un service est privatisé, les services offerts par une municipalité sont exempts de la Loi 8. Une municipalité est exempte d'offrir des services en français ; les organismes dont j'ai parlé tantôt sont exempts d'offrir des services en français.

Peut-être que les gens en Ontario présentement sont fiers, qu'ils se sentent au pouvoir et qu'ils ont reçu de M. Harris une certaine confiance qu'on va avoir un regain de vie, que l'économie de l'Ontario va être renversée d'ici sept ou huit mois et que tout le monde va avoir de l'argent dans sa poche. J'espère bien que tout le monde va pouvoir profiter de cette nouvelle économie, mais si on regarde l'économie globale, je doute que les Ontariens et Ontariennes vont avoir de l'argent à dépenser comme promis dans la Révolution du bon sens.

J'ai pris plus de temps que je voulais. Je veux simplement terminer en disant que le budget, qui avait l'air d'un beau gâteau tout bien glacé, m'effraie. Je doute que les réalités, que les objectifs du budget de M. Eves seront rencontrés. Qu'est l'avenir de ce manque de promesses ou d'objectifs ? Cela veut dire qu'il va falloir que le gouvernement emprunte encore plus d'argent.

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I will end on a good note. I realize that the Tories are in power. They have a majority government. I also understand that they want to change the confidence, or the lack of confidence, in the province of Ontario and people believed them at the last election and now they're in power. But I simply don't agree with the budget cuts and especially the 30% income tax cut which is supposed to create jobs. Because after all, you promised 725,000 jobs and you didn't meet your first-year commitment, so it will mean that this government will have to create 450,000 jobs in the next three and a half years. I think it's impossible. I don't care how good the economy is; I think their plan will simply fail.

The Speaker: Questions and comments?

Mr Michael Brown: I appreciate the comments of my colleague. I think he brings to the Legislature always an insightful view brought from the eastern part of this province, from the Ottawa area.

I think one of the things that surprises many of us is this Conservative government, a government that was elected, as I understand it, with a mandate to have economic growth, with a mandate to look after the finances of Ontario. One of the things I really find passing strange is that this government that is supposedly about fiscal responsibility and solid economic management has missed its targets on job creation. It's been abominable on youth employment and youth opportunities.

Frankly, if I'm a Conservative voter, I think I might be a little bit surprised to know that this Progressive Conservative revolutionary government has already borrowed more money than the last Liberal government did in five years. That's quite an extraordinary record, Mr Speaker. I know those good folks up in Simcoe would really be quite surprised to learn you've already borrowed more money than the last Liberal administration which ran this province for five years. You've managed to do it in one year. Isn't that wonderful? You're out there attempting to borrow, so that you can pay for your tax cut, another $15 billion. I think that's really quite exciting. I think the people of Ontario will find this one of the strangest economic ideologies --

Interjection.

Mr Michael Brown: "Voodoo," my friend says. Shades of Ronald Reagan.

The Speaker: The member's time has expired. Any further statements or comments?

Mr Conway: I want to just make a comment about my colleague from Vanier. I noticed in the Ottawa press, I say to my friend from Eastview, that Madame Gisèle Lalonde, your successor as the chief magistrate at Vanier city hall, has been summoned by Her Majesty's provincial government to do good work in Her Majesty's service, along with Mr Crombie. I see that Madame Lalonde is now bringing her years of public service and partisan --

Mr Grandmaître: A faithful Tory.

Mr Conway: A faithful Tory. The hour is late, but I thought perhaps you might have something to say, I say to my friend from Vanier, not just about Madame Lalonde's participation in the Crombie commission, because those of us who defer to your experience in municipal affairs would be interested to know what you make of the Crombie commission's mandate.

I thought perhaps Darcy McKeough might be invited to join that panel, because it's over 25 years ago that Mr McKeough set out to solve a problem that Mr Snobelen and Mr Leach seem to think is solvable in a fortnight. Mr McKeough and certainly Mr Crombie have had experience in previous circumstances. I wondered if my friend from Vanier wanted to comment on the Crombie panel and what he expects about the assessment review that is under way not just for the greater Toronto area but we understand for his community of Ottawa-Carleton and the province as a whole.

The Speaker: Further comments or statements? The member for Ottawa East has up to two minutes to respond.

Mr Grandmaître: I would be delighted to give my colleague from Renfrew North the latest news on the Crombie commission or Crombie committee, call it whatever you will. I was looking at their mandate and I was very surprised at the mandate of the Crombie group.

Mrs Lalonde, yes, has been a faithful Tory. I hope she'll do a good job even if she is a Tory and lives in my riding.

Mr Bradley: That didn't affect your choice, I'm sure.

Mr Grandmaître: Oh, I'm sure it didn't affect my choice.

Mr Murdoch: Is there a Tory in your riding?

Mr Grandmaître: Yes, there are two of them. Your brother-in-law moved.

I'd like to say that I'm anxious to read the Crombie report, for the simple reason that I think their mandate is unrealistic. I don't think you can reassess every property in the province of Ontario in four months. Also, they'll be looking at decreasing the number of school boards, especially in Ottawa-Carleton, and I don't think it's going to work. I'm very, very anxious to see the first phase of the Crombie report.

The Speaker: Is there further debate?

Mr Conway: I'm happy to join this debate. I must say I waited for my friend from Grey county to get up and do in this assembly what he did this afternoon up in the great western peninsula. To launch an attack on his colleague the minister of lands and forests, as he apparently did this afternoon up in Owen Sound, is almost incredible. I know my friend Mr Murdoch, and he and Hodgson apparently share Reform Party cards. I would have thought that if there was one member of the Harris revolutionary troupe who would not be attacking the minister of lands and forests, it would be honest Bill Murdoch from Cape Croker and parts nearby.

2350

You know, Bill, in the Ottawa Valley, if you're going to attack somebody, you do it frontally; you don't do it when they're not around to defend themselves. I will be reading the Sun Times tomorrow with great interest, because the Bill Murdoch I know is a pretty straight-shooting guy, and if he's going to nail somebody, including a colleague, he tends to do it with some notice, with some regard to the Marquess of Queensberry rules.

I heard the member from Grey going on complaining about spending money. I read the Grey county press quite regularly, and boy, that Te Deum of praise that he offered to spending on the educational account. "My mother," he said, "was a teacher, and my several relatives and friends and neighbours are teachers, and that Snobelen clearly doesn't know what he's doing." This let's-not-be-spending-money speech that he gives at Queen's Park is not the speech that he's making in the western peninsula.

I just want to say to my grey-bearded friend from Grey county, he is in a great tradition of Grey county politicians. I came here with one of his predecessors, and I must say that he hasn't reached Eddie Sargent's colour just yet. I guess that's one of the things that I like about my Tory friends. Have there been sins of commission over the past number of years? Absolutely. I've made my share. I'm quite prepared to admit that.

I must say I am struck particularly by some of the new members, not all of them, and I understand it's a revolutionary cohort, and revolutions are by their very nature extraordinary. But I've got to tell you, the absolute certainty of the course and the purpose, the intolerance almost, the fervour -- there are other words that come to mind, but they're almost unparliamentary, and I won't use them -- but seriously, I just think, "Wow."It will be interesting, and I'm young enough that I will be able to come back here in 25 years and look down and say, "How well did they do?"

I've mentioned this article before. It's one that I recommend to some of you. There's an article in the Atlantic Monthly, December 1981. It's a year in the life of Ronald Reagan's director of the office of management and budget. David Stockman was his name. He gave an extraordinary interview. It's an interesting article. Stockman was asked by Reagan to take over one of the finance offices, essentially. Stockman was a very bright, able, right-wing Republican from Michigan, who was a bit concerned, quite frankly, about the Reagan plan. The Reagan plan had three elements: sharp cuts in taxes; major increases in defence spending, which is a quarter -- was then, at least -- of all US federal spending; and balancing the budget. It was an Independent candidate in that presidential election, Anderson from Illinois, who said to Ronald Reagan, "How does this add up?" One of my colleagues tonight talked about voodoo economics. That phrase comes from George Bush's assessment of the Reagan economic plan. It was quite a tall order.

What's interesting about the article in the Atlantic Monthly of December 1981 is that it's one of the finance ministers who is in charge of trying to make this miracle work. Why Reagan didn't fire him for these public admissions is beyond me, because in my view it was almost a Bernie Ostry-like insubordination; not quite that bad, but almost that bad.

Stockman confessed a year into the mandate that tax cuts of this order of magnitude, with these kinds of spending pressures in defence, would almost certainly drive up the deficit, and 15 years later David Stockman has been -- that's not say that the Democrats don't have their share of responsibility, but the Reagan fiscal plan was exactly as John Anderson and George Bush said it was: It was voodoo economics. The legacy of that transparently voodoo plan is a mountain of US federal debt, interestingly, racked up by some of the most rigorous right-wingers that Washington has seen in this century.

The other aspect about the article that I suggest is interesting for people on the government benches is to read about Stockman trying to come to terms with the spending cuts that are necessary to make it work. I tell you, some of the most illustrious senators and congressmen of his own party, and he names them, said, "Oh no, you're not doing that to that dam in Oregon or to that appropriation in Tennessee."

Interjection.

Mr Conway: All I know is that poor old Stockman was complaining rather bitterly about trying to make the plan work.

North Bay, Ontario, is a place I know well. I can't think of a place that's done better by the spending of post-war governments, really since about the post-First World War governments of Ontario, than North Bay. I remember Mike Harris, of all people -- I don't want to be too critical, but when we took office in June 1985 we inherited a spending plan that called for a deficit in the order of $3 billion on an expenditure plan of approximately $30 billion. When I first came here 21 years ago, one of ablest chancellors of the Exchequer I've ever known, Darcy McKeough, if you can believe it, presented to this assembly a budget calling for a $1.8-billion deficit on about a $12.5-billion to $13-billion expenditure plan.

Mr Preston: And you expanded on that.

Mr Conway: The member for Brant-Haldimand is right; we did. I'm not here to say it was all perfect.

Let me be very personal. My enduring memory of the Peterson government was inheriting that Bill Davis commitment of June 12, 1984, calling for the extension of funding to separate schools. People like to talk about --

Interjection.

Mr Conway: I certainly fought a lot with Bill Davis, but I don't think anybody could question his commitment to the public good and progress and economic development. When Bill Davis and his then deputy minister at the Premier's office, Ed Stewart, a long-time deputy at education -- I don't think there were two people here who knew education better than Davis and Stewart -- made that remarkable commitment on June 12, 1984, I'll never forget the day, I say to my friend Doug Rollins, and everybody -- "Ready, aye, ready"; I mean, wow. You talk about an about-face; you talk about a dramatic turn. Anyway, I'm not here to cast recriminations about that.

One thing I want to tell you that I will never forget: When asked, "What's this going to cost?" Mr Davis said, "It's going to cost about $50 million" -- I think it was actually $40 million. I spent most of my time at the department of education trying to make it plain that we'd better not talk about that figure.

Mr Murdoch: Don't forget my two minutes to wrap up.

Mr Conway: I've apparently got 30, and if you come back, if you survive your next trip to the upper floors of the Whitney Block, Bill, I'll be here to listen to your intervention.

My point is, that was just one example of a spending plan that we inherited. It's fair to say that maybe we didn't manage it all that well, but I just want to say to honourable members that if it's blame we're looking for to spread around -- this business about 10 lost years, I understand it's good politics. It was very effective politics. It met the requirements of the electoral campaign last year.

I'm certainly not here to insult the intelligence of so many bright men and women by saying that it is credible beyond front-page politics. Mike Harris? God, give me a break. I know he's votre chef and behind his leadership you must fall in line, but the famous line from Mike Harris that I think I will end with tonight is: "I'm from North Bay and I demand my share, our part, of the waste." I tell you nobody was more demanding in terms of spending money in his constituency -- go into North Bay and look at that courthouse.

That's just one small example of Mike Harris bringing home the bacon, and now he's got the effrontery to go about saying, "That was then and this is now." I think that politicians of all stripes who engage in that business are not really doing very much to enhance the already tarnished currency of our trade.

Mr Preston: What happened to attacking a person to his face?

Mr Conway: I was just responding to an encouragement. My friend from Brant-Haldimand may not know that earlier today in the great county of Grey Mr Murdoch, in his inimitable and idiosyncratic way, let loose upon the minister of lands and forests.

Mr Preston: I understand that 100%.

Mr Conway: I won't recall the press reports of the member for Brant-Haldimand saying some rather direct things, which I appreciated, about Noble Villeneuve, the Minister of Agriculture, who has become quite voluble in recent days.

The Speaker: I would draw the member's attention to the clock, please.

Mr Conway: On that note, Mr Speaker, I'm happy to adjourn the debate until next time.

The Speaker: Questions or comments? Further debate?

There being none, Bill 47, standing in the name of Mr Eves, second reading: Is it the pleasure of the House that the motion carry?

All those in favour, say "aye."

All those opposed, say, "nay."

In my opinion, the ayes have it.

Mr Ed Doyle (Wentworth East): I was premature, Mr Speaker, but it's my understanding that we have unanimous consent to delay this vote until after question period on Monday, June 24.

The Speaker: Do you agree? Agreed. The vote is deferred until Monday.

It being past 12 of the clock, this House stands adjourned until 10 of the clock tomorrow morning.

The House adjourned at 2403.