36th Parliament, 1st Session

L102 - Wed 2 Oct 1996 / Mer 2 Oct 1996




















































The House met at 1332.




Mr Frank Miclash (Kenora): Northern Ontario faces unique challenges in providing social, educational and health initiatives to the people living within this region.

On page 3 of the famous Tory election document entitled A Voice for the North, Mike Harris stated: "The people of northern Ontario have given us a clear message: Their needs and concerns are not being met by the provincial government...that northerners feel left out of the decision-making process." Then we found out yesterday that the Premier's answer to fixing this problem is to cut even further the north's voice at Queen's Park.

I have here a resolution from the Northwestern Ontario Associated Chambers of Commerce calling upon the Premier to appoint an assistant deputy minister who will work with and reside in northwestern Ontario.

Northwestern Ontario business community and municipal leaders, after 16 months of Tory government, continue to feel left out of the decision-making process. I call upon the government to commit to residents of northwestern Ontario that the recommendation by the chambers of commerce will be given every consideration.

Mr Premier, over the summer I travelled throughout my riding and met with business people, education, health care and municipal leaders. The reaction I received was that northerners are feeling isolated from your government's policy to centralize decision-making for the north in your office here in Toronto. Your decision yesterday to reduce northern representation in the Legislature is just the latest insult to an already frustrated northern Ontario.


Mr David Christopherson (Hamilton Centre): I want to say to the people of Hamilton and other communities that what is happening in Thunder Bay and Sudbury with regard to their hospital closures needs to be a wake-up call for all. In our own community of Hamilton we had a near crisis as a result of this government's forcing the task force to cut their time in half, from two years to one year, and they came up with a plan that included the closure of St Joseph's Hospital in the heart of downtown Hamilton.

There was such an outcry that a new group had to form, the Academic-Health Care Network, and they, working together and cooperatively, came up with a plan that allowed us to save St Joseph's Hospital and keep all the other hospitals that we have in Hamilton. But that plan was predicated on our community of Hamilton being able to keep all the money saved on the institutional side in our community invested in community services.

I call on the four Tory MPPs from my area to make sure that when your Minister of Health's hatchet commission comes to Hamilton, you stand up and fight for Hamilton and not just stand up and toe the party line. We need to and we can save all the hospitals in Hamilton. We have a plan that will work, but you have to convince your minister that we keep that money and reinvest it. And maybe you ought to be doing the same thing for the people in Sudbury, because they need some help too.


Mr David Tilson (Dufferin-Peel): I rise in the House today to highlight the success story of the fund-raising efforts of the Dufferin-Caledon Health Care Corp in my riding of Dufferin-Peel.

The Dufferin-Caledon Health Care Corp is building a new facility to serve the residents of Dufferin county and the town of Caledon. The amount of $5.2 million must be raised by the community to prepare the health care centre for its new home at the corner of Highways 9 and 10. This capital campaign is being led by honorary chair George Eaton and a group of very talented and committed individuals from within Dufferin and Caledon.

As well as traditional fund-raising events, this committee has tapped into an expanding market of funds through private sector partnerships. In recent weeks Husky Injection Mouldings of Bolton donated $1 million to the health care centre. This donation will allow our new health care facility to be the first in the world to have digitized diagnostic imaging, or filmless X-rays. The addition of digitized diagnostic imaging means that Headwaters will have leading-edge technology that will save space on storage, reduce radiation to the patients by at least 30%, lessen chemical disposal costs and, finally, decrease operating costs.

Husky Injection Mouldings chose this donation because it ties in with their commitment to the environment. Husky's head office and the Headwaters Health Care Centre both have tried to design their facilities to work with the environment. For example, landscaping around both facilities used native plants that will thrive with very little maintenance or water. Both facilities were designed to take advantage of natural light, and both sort their garbage for reuse and recycling prior to disposal. This partnership proves that the public and private sectors can work together for the benefit of their communities.


Mr Rick Bartolucci (Sudbury): I rise today on behalf of my colleagues in the Liberal caucus to acknowledge and show our support and appreciation for teachers as we recognize World Teachers' Day on October 5.

Unlike the Tory government and its Minister of Education and Training, teachers throughout Ontario and indeed the world understand the significance of the following quote: "Education is not a product, mark, diploma, job, money -- in that order. It is a process, a never-ending one."


Teachers everywhere work hard to ensure that students under their supervision are prepared and grow as this process continues. Teachers realize that students do not come to school all equal, so through their dedication, determination and diligence, they provide a meaningful, individualized day for each of their students. They face the real crisis of reduced funding to their classrooms every single solitary day, and they handle it in a very mature, responsible, caring and loving way. Their impact is most positive on the life of each of their charges.

On a very personal basis, I would like to recognize each and every teacher I have had the honour of working with over the last 30 years. Let me mention John, Gary and Linda Kingerski, grandfather, father and mother of Stephen Kingerski, our page from Sudbury. They and all other teachers are worthy of our recognition, our support and our thanks. Teachers are the keys to unlocking the future of not only Ontario and Canada but in fact the entire world.


Mrs Marion Boyd (London Centre): I'm happy today to share with members of the Legislature a very special celebration that we had in my riding last Sunday, and that was the reopening of St Julian Park.

The story of St Julian Park is the story of a community that came together to clean up a former dump site, a community that came together because of the efforts of a group of people who had played in St Julian Park as youngsters and found that, among their numbers, an inordinate number were contracting and dying of brain cancer. The one who led this is a woman named Dianne Whiteside because of her dedication to her brother who died of brain cancer, his cancer clearly connected to the environmental issues around St Julian Park. She made a pledge that she would see that park cleaned up and reopened within 10 years. Last Sunday she saw that dream come true.

Because of the efforts of dedicated environmentalists in my community, a very dangerous situation was cleared. It took a lot of effort, a lot of commitment, and as a result of those environmentalist issues being raised in council, winning support on council, we now have a beautiful park where the children of St Julian can play in safety forevermore.


Mr Bert Johnson (Perth): It's my pleasure to rise in the House today and announce that a very prestigious honour has just been awarded to one of the finest daily newspapers in Canada. I've just established this distinction and felt that it was important to bring this to the attention of the Ontario Legislature.

The city of Stratford, indeed the whole of Perth, is famous throughout Ontario and around the world for the many attractions that it has to offer. Its theatres, its scenery, its manufacturing, its agriculture and its community organizations are second to none.

There are more than 46 daily newspapers delivered to the Legislative Assembly each morning, and of these, only one originates in the riding of Perth. The Stratford Beacon Herald is an independent daily and is renowned for its accurate reporting and in-depth editorials.

It's this paper, the Stratford Beacon Herald, which I am proud to announce has received my red ribbon award for the best picture and headline, front page category, Canadian daily newspaper. Their award-winning edition was printed, of course, on Wednesday, September 25, 1996.


Mr Monte Kwinter (Wilson Heights): I rise today to congratulate Toronto's Margaret Atwood and Brampton's Rohinton Mistry on being nominated for the prestigious Booker prize. The Booker is awarded annually to the best full-length novel written in English by a citizen of the Commonwealth, and Ontario should be proud to have two authors of the six short-listed for this prize.

Toronto's Margaret Atwood is nominated for her book Alias Grace, and Brampton's Rohinton Mistry is nominated for A Fine Balance. Both books are published by Toronto's McClelland and Stewart, who should also be congratulated.

My fear is that given this government's complete abandonment of the arts community, where will our Booker prizewinners of tomorrow come from? Margaret Atwood got her start at Coach House Press. Mike Harris called that company a bunch of welfare bums, cancelled their loan guarantee program and put them out of business.

The minister of culture has axed the publishers assistance program, wiped out the Ontario Publishing Centre, and has cut funds to the Ontario Arts Council by one third.

These cuts are coming at a time when book publishing in Canada is an unparalleled success as a cultural industry. Canadian-authored books have a 30% market share, exports of Canadian books tripled in the last five years, and as yesterday's Booker announcement indicates, Canadian writers are being acclaimed worldwide.

By making so many cuts to our arts industry so quickly, this government is seriously threatening the publishing industry's ability to produce the next Margaret Atwood or Rohinton Mistry.

I'm sure all Ontarians will join me in wishing both authors good luck when the Booker is awarded on October 29.


Ms Marilyn Churley (Riverdale): I'm giving the Premier and the Minister of Environment yet another opportunity to keep the Premier's election promise that any new landfills would be subject to, in his words, "a full environmental assessment." I'll remind the Premier that this isn't just something said off the cuff on the campaign trail; he committed himself to environmental assessment on dumps both before and since the election. He has also said it here quite adamantly in the House.

We're currently, in committee, examining Bill 76 which deals with changes -- I would say the gutting of the Environmental Assessment Act. In August I spoke to Mr Sterling, the new environmental minister, and I agreed to postpone our clause-by-clause examination so that he could look at and fix this glaring omission, among others. Well, the bill is back in committee and where is the fix? Where are the amendments? Where is the outspoken commitment on the part of the Premier that he would solve the garbage crisis in a way that didn't compromise Ontario's environment?

As the proposed bill stands, companies and municipalities will no longer necessarily have to look at alternatives such as reducing, reusing and recycling, nor will they have to look at alternative sites or designs which may be more suitable, nor will they have to examine economic and social impacts. The bill also substantially reduces public participation despite the bill's ridiculous title: the Environmental Assessment and Consultation Improvement Act.

Mr Minister, come clean and fix this bill.


Mr Terence H. Young (Halton Centre): As parliamentary assistant for colleges and universities, I rise today to congratulate the Ontario College of Art and Design on its first 120 years.

For over a century, the college has acted as an incubator for some of our most talented artists and designers. The roster of their graduates reads like a who's who of the international art and design community, including A.J. Casson, a member of the Group of Seven; Mimi Vandermolen, chief designer for the Ford Motor Co; and, of particular interest to those of us in this House, one of our most famous political cartoonists, the late Duncan Macpherson.

The impact of the college and its students can be seen in every community in Ontario. Graduates have designed the logos of prominent organizations such as TSN, the Toronto Blue Jays, CIBC and Rogers Cablesystems, and faculty member Claude Gidman designed the latest streetcars and Wheel-Trans buses for the TTC.

Not content to rest on its laurels, the college recently changed its name from the Ontario College of Art to the Ontario College of Art and Design, thus incorporating a major component of its program and recognizing the importance of design to its future.

With a proud history and a bright future, I ask all members to join with me in congratulating the Ontario College of Art and Design for the great work it has done in promoting and enhancing Canadian talent and culture, and offer our best wishes for the college's next 120 years.



Hon Charles Harnick (Attorney General, minister responsible for native affairs): In the Common Sense Revolution, we promised that we would crack down on defaulting parents who are not fulfilling their family support obligations. Later today, I will have the honour of tabling the legislation that will fulfil our government's commitment.

The Family Responsibility and Support Arrears Enforcement Act, 1996, will replace the Family Support Plan Act, 1992. Our legislation will create the Family Responsibility Office and will give Ontario some of the toughest support payment enforcement legislation in North America.


Mr Speaker, 77% of the family support plan's cases are not in full compliance. Close to $1 billion is outstanding in child support payments. This is money owed to the children of this province. When child support is not paid, women and children are denied the support they need. They suffer and are forced to go without. Often they are forced into poverty and on to social assistance. This is unacceptable. As Attorney General, I am committed to ensuring that the needs of Ontario's children and women are met.

The legislation I will be introducing will give the Family Responsibility Office tough new enforcement measures to ensure payors meet their support obligations. Under our new legislation, we will suspend the drivers' licences of those who refuse to meet their family support responsibilities. We will report to credit bureaus the names of people who do not pay their child support. We will obtain financial statements and make orders against third parties who help support payors avoid enforcement by sheltering their assets. We will seize 50% of any funds in a joint bank account of a payor and his or her new partner. We will enter into partnerships with the private sector to collect outstanding support payments. We will also expand the definition of income source to include commissions, salary draws, advances and lump sum payments.

In addition, we will permit recipients and payors, where both agree, to opt out of the government-mandated system. Responsible parents who continue to pay their child support do not need to be supervised by bureaucrats. Measures have been put in place to ensure that vulnerable individuals will be protected from coercion.

We will also implement a number of changes to improve service provided under the new system. Each member here knows that the service their constituents have received to date has been unacceptable. This has been the case for many, many years.

With a caseload of approximately 148,000 cases and an average of 1,400 new cases every month, the family support plan is ill equipped to handle its caseload. The plan receives up to 50,000 calls a day to its offices. Of these calls, only 6% of the callers actually get through. Almost 8,000 letters arrive daily, most of which are complaints from clients about the lack of telephone service.

The eight regional offices provided limited access to counter service. In fact fewer than 60 people a day visited each regional office, and they did so only because they were unable to reach the plan by phone.

These are the facts. The problems with the family support plan have been ongoing since 1987. The plan has never been able to serve its clients well. Our changes are a solution to these long-standing problems.

In July we began to address the problems that have plagued the plan since its inception.

To provide better and more specialized services to the public, we will consolidate all of the operations into one location. The Family Responsibility Office will begin operating in November.

Our goal is to ensure that people get their phone calls answered and callers are immediately provided with the information and service they require. Under the new system, we will more than double the number of front-line workers tackling people's concerns.

Even during the transition phase, we are now processing 25% more cheques per day than last year. As problems have occurred during the transition, we have moved quickly and decisively to correct them. Initially, some cheques were delayed. We have now fixed that problem and there is no backlog in cheques.

Both in terms of enforcement and in service, our government is committed to enhancing justice for children and women in Ontario. The Family Responsibility and Support Arrears Enforcement Act, 1996, will achieve that goal. I am proud to say that when this bill becomes law, Ontario will have some of the most stringent family support enforcement legislation on the continent, legislation that the opposition parties didn't have the guts to bring to this Legislature.

I hope that I will have the support of the opposition parties so that the Family Responsibility Office will be able to begin collecting more money for women and children than ever before.

In the gallery today is Regina May of Mothers Against Fathers in Arrears and Heinz Paul of Families Against Deadbeats. They are keenly interested that this bill become law as soon as possible.


Hon John Snobelen (Minister of Education and Training): For the past two days I've been meeting with my fellow ministers of education from the other provinces and territories. The message I bring to members here today is very clear: Ontario is not alone in considering and implementing major restructuring to its education system. Reform is proceeding rapidly in every jurisdiction in Canada no matter what the political stripe or region of the country.

Across Canada governments are streamlining their education systems, reducing administration, increasing standards, improving curriculum quality and placing greater emphasis on parental involvement and control.

I've told my colleagues that Ontario is strongly committed to education accountability. We need better information on how well our students are learning and, by virtue of that, how well our system is doing. I support further pan-Canadian testing and greater cooperation on key curriculum areas.

Ministers also discussed the continuing importance of technology and building technology skills. All of us see greater technology use by teachers and students as a priority. These are highlights of our discussion. I will continue to work with my colleagues elsewhere in Canada to bring real change and real improvement to learning for all people.

It's important for all members and Ontario citizens to know that we're not alone in our efforts to reform education and to significantly improve the affordability, accountability and quality of our education system for students, parents and all taxpayers.


Mr Gerry Phillips (Scarborough-Agincourt): I'd like to respond to the Attorney General. You've said you're committed to ensuring the needs of Ontario's children and women are met. Frankly, your credibility in this area has been severely undermined by the experience all of us have had over the last three months with the family support plan. If you really believed that, you would not have let those changes go through without ensuring that the program would work. For the people watching out there, thousands and thousands of women were denied their support payments because of your blundering.

The first question anybody responsible for a ministry should have asked is, "Will the women and children of this province be sure to get their rightful payments?" You didn't ask that question. You've lost your credibility in this matter. You dramatically cut 290 people out of the family support staffing, and I resent the way you presented your statement. You changed the wording to make it extremely partisan. Your credibility in this area is severely undermined.

I will guarantee you that our party will give whatever support it possibly can to make certain that women and children of this province benefit from support payments, but we will not support a government that penalizes people by mismanagement and incompetence.

There are several areas in this statement where we'll want to see more detail, particularly about the area where the recipients and payors agree. You go on to say they will be protected from coercion. We want to monitor that very carefully because there are some significant concerns about that area. Over the last few months people literally have lost their homes, have not been able to feed their children, have had difficulty in getting money for their --


Mr Phillips: -- and he shakes his head. I also say that the statement of the minister says the problem is solved. That is not true. Members in this Legislature know there are people entitled to cheques who still don't get them. If the minister and the government had been sincere in ensuring that the needs of Ontario's children and women were met, we would not have seen the mess we've seen over the last three months. Every member in this Legislature has gone through the turmoil of hundreds of calls to our offices from people who are suffering because of this government. You can count on our support for meaningful, legitimate legislative change, but you can't count on our support if you don't follow through with that.



Mr Richard Patten (Ottawa Centre): We have one heavy announcement and we have one light one today. It's ironic that with all the students we have in the gallery this afternoon the minister talks about a consultation he had with other ministers of education across the country, which from time to time is good. I would have thought this would have been the kind of thing for a bulletin within your ministry to help some of the demoralized staff, it seems to me, with all of the things that people are waiting for -- the consultation on Bill 100, who does what by whom and where and on what basis, the subpanel on education that you have asked for reaction. People are waiting to hear about that.

You're consulting with others outside of the jurisdiction when I'm sure you know there are many teachers leaving our jurisdiction because they haven't got jobs. By the way, it's teachers who have jobs but are so despairing of what they see going down in education by the influence of this particular government who are leaving and looking for opportunities in Germany, looking for opportunities in Australia, looking for opportunities in the United States of America, because they can't stand the pressure and the continual attempt to degrade and undercut the professionalism of the teachers we have.

When we look at all of the areas that need attention, I would suggest to you that this kind of thing is perhaps better in a memo internally. We'd love to hear you talk about protecting the classroom, as you talk about, but of course it's not happening.


Mrs Marion Boyd (London Centre): I'm very happy to have an opportunity to respond to the damage control statement that the Attorney General is making today and to say to him that it is absolutely disgraceful for him to make the kind of partisan statements he's made. Let's make it very clear why there have been problems in this plan since 1987 -- because there wasn't a plan before that. For 42 years of Conservative rule you did nothing to make sure that women and children got the payments to which they were entitled, and you dare to criticize the previous two governments for their incremental efforts to try and ensure that support payment entitlements are collected.

The minister is well aware because his own document says that the plan in Ontario is the best and most effective plan. We welcome the changes he's suggesting today, which, I might add, the minister knows very well are only possible because of the extensive policy work that was done by our government looking into exactly these enforcement measures. It will be very interesting to see whether the minister has solved the legal problems that do exist around these kinds of enforcement measures, because that is what delayed the implementation of these. We will see what solutions you've come up with.

In addition, what has made this the most effective plan is that it was a deduction at source from everyone. There was no pejorative issue around having a support deduction made from your paycheque. It was to be done for everyone; it was like taxes. Yet this minister is saying that we're going to permit recipients and payors, where both agree, to opt out of the plan. Then what happens? The minister says he's going to protect people from coercion on this. The whole issue of non-payment of support he knows very well is a power and control issue that is there and is very real in these cases. It will be interesting for us to see how this minister thinks he can protect women and children from coercion in these cases.

Finally, as my colleague from Agincourt said, for this minister, who has completely bungled the whole situation around collection, has made sure that the 23% of people who were receiving their payments no longer do and have real difficulties -- and case after case shows you that they have -- to make the kind of partisan comments he made in this House today is absolutely disgraceful.

He will have our support around the enforcement measures, but he will not have our support, given the incompetence he has shown, in terms of the management of this plan.


Mr Bud Wildman (Algoma): I'd like to respond to the non-statement of the Minister of Education and Training. Essentially what the minister informed the House today was that he attended a meeting. He went on to say that all the other provinces or a lot of other provinces are cutting just like him. It's unfortunate that he didn't take the opportunity today, two days before International Teachers' Day, to talk about the efforts made by teachers to ensure that we have excellence in education in this province, to pay tribute to the people who every day work with students across Ontario to ensure that they can reach their potential, that they can gain the skills and abilities they need to do well in life.

This minister has gone around the province for the last year badmouthing teachers, badmouthing school boards and saying the system is broken and failing to recognize that he is the one who is causing the crisis. He took $400 million out of the system last year and he now wants to take another $600 million.

This shows what teachers think of this minister. This is what education was and this is what it's becoming, thanks to the Tory government in this province. They're eating away at the quality of education. You're destroying education in this system. Why on earth don't you recognize the role of teachers and pay for the program you need?


The Speaker (Hon Ed Doyle): Ladies and gentlemen, I would like to inform the members of the Legislative Assembly that we have in the Speaker's gallery a South African delegation. Also, please welcome Dr Van Der Ross, a member of the provincial Legislature for Western Cape, Capetown, South Africa. Please join in welcoming our guests today.


Hon Ernie L. Eves (Deputy Premier, Minister of Finance): Mr Speaker, I believe we have unanimous consent to pay tribute on the passing of former Quebec Premier Robert Bourassa.

The Speaker (Hon Ed Doyle): Do we have unanimous consent? Yes.

Hon Mr Eves: Today Premier Harris expressed condolences to the family of Robert Bourassa and the people of Quebec on behalf of all Ontarians. It is with sadness that I rise today to pay a further tribute to M. Bourassa in this House.

For more than a quarter of a century, Robert Bourassa was at the heart of politics and events in Quebec and was a dominant figure in Canadian political life. He was a staunch and thoughtful Quebecker. He was an able and insightful Premier.

Robert Bourassa first became Premier of Quebec in 1970 at the age of 36. Then and throughout his time in politics he put a priority on ensuring a sound economy, growth and prosperity for his province. He will be remembered within Quebec as the Premier who ushered in a period of unprecedented expansion for the Quebec economy.

M. Bourassa was always a moderate who sought to avoid division and to bring people together. He gave leadership to a society that was deeply divided about questions of identity and citizenship. Whether we agree with all of his choices or not, we can never doubt that he based his decisions on what he believed was in the best interests of the people of Quebec. He found the middle path on most issues and in so doing was able to both advance Quebec's interests and preserve Confederation.


Quebec and indeed Canada has lost an important leader. M. Bourassa was always a friend to the province of Ontario. I know Premier Harris had hoped he would be with us to provide counsel and advice on the difficult choices that lay ahead of us as a country.

Over the past number of years he has worked with and was deeply respected by a series of Ontario premiers representing all three political parties in this House: Premier Davis, Premier Peterson and Premier Rae. Last fall, during the time of the Quebec referendum, he offered his thoughts to Premier Harris as he had done while we were in opposition.

Our sympathies go to the Bourassa family and to the people of Quebec. Robert Bourassa will be sadly missed.

Mrs Lyn McLeod (Leader of the Opposition): It is with sadness and a sense of shock and a profound sense of loss that I rise to join in the tribute to Robert Bourassa today.

I did not have the privilege of knowing M. Bourassa personally so, like many others in this House, I have come to know and admire him through the continuous evidence of his personal commitment to his province and most certainly to his country.

Robert Bourassa's political career was not without its challenges. He served as Premier of his province through some of his province's and this country's most tense times. I think he was forced by those challenges to learn some obviously difficult lessons in both politics and statesmanship. But ultimately, in my view, it was his statesmanship which was the hallmark of his leadership.

I admire his efforts to reconcile the fervencies of Quebec nationalism with his own commitment to Canada and to federalism. He was I suppose a pragmatist, as many have described him; I like to think of him rather as a realist. It seemed to me that he believed in shaping realistic and workable solutions to seemingly intractable problems and that he knew it could be done only one step at a time. The Meech Lake accord is history now, but I continue to hold to a belief that he was successful in this in helping to shape those kind of pragmatic resolutions, although we all shared the lack of success in seeing them carried forward.

I know that his role in that respect has always been the subject of controversy, and his actions within Quebec probably even more so, and I think that's to be expected. The issues related to Quebec's role in Canada and the future of Confederation, after all, have been controversial for over 200 years. No one could expect to provide leadership on these issues and achieve universal agreement.

But there is no question that Robert Bourassa provided leadership. There is no question that his commitment to his province and his country were the basis of his actions and his political life. He carried forward those commitments at the expense of his own health, and we see too clearly today the price that he has paid.

M. Bourassa, on announcing his retirement from politics in September 1993, said how difficult it was to leave, and I would like to refer back to the quote of the day. "It's not an easy day." he acknowledged. "When you give the best of yourself and fight every day, and even take personal risks to achieve the protection of Quebec, you do not leave, you do not leave that function very easily." He went on to speak of his continued commitment to Canada. He said:

"The Quebec Liberal Party is opposed to the breakup of the Canadian federation because Canada, with all its problems, with all its tensions, with all its difficulties, remains by far one of the most enviable countries in the world. I cannot see how we can tell Quebeckers that we can attract the investments that we need, that we can convince investors to come to Quebec, by initiating the process of dismantling the Canadian federation."

M. Bourassa's commitment continued to underlie his actions after his retirement; they continued to underlie his actions even as he battled his own illness, even when public responsibilities no longer demanded his presence or his voice. During the last referendum debate, he worked quietly in less noticeable public places and in relatively unpublicized forums to carry forward the message of his belief that there is a place for Quebec in Canada.

All of us who share that belief in this province and indeed across the nation are deeply appreciative of his leadership and of his commitment. We will miss his presence and his quiet determined passion.

Mr Bud Wildman (Algoma): On behalf of my colleagues, I want to join with the Deputy Premier and the leader of the official opposition in expressing our condolences to the Bourassa family and to the people of Quebec on the passing of the former Premier.

Robert Bourassa has served his province, his people and his country throughout his lifetime. When he was first elected in 1970 he was the youngest Premier elected, and he faced enormous challenges at a time of serious, serious division within our Confederation. His commitment to the francophone community and to protecting that community in the anglophone sea of North America was well known and respected.

He served as Premier at a time, as I said, when there was serious division within the province of Quebec and the whole nation of Canada, a division that eventually led to a catastrophe from which I think Mr Bourassa never really recovered, and that was the murder of one of his cabinet colleagues. Some analysts have said that made him a cautious leader subsequently in his career.

His flexibility was well known. His ability to understand the main issue and to determine how he might be able to respond in such a way to try to bring balance to those who, on the one side, wished more extreme measures to be taken to protect French and the Québécois community and, on the other side, those who wished to protect Quebec's role in Confederation is well known.

Many people, his political opponents as well as the press and the general public, sometimes found it frustrating listening to Robert Bourassa give an answer to a question because it was sometimes difficult to know exactly what the Premier meant in terms of his position. But for those of us who knew him slightly -- and I only knew him slightly -- I understood why he took the position he did. It was a very difficult balancing act he played throughout his career, a balancing act that all of us in Canada should respect and understand that we owe a great debt to him for.

I suspect that the greatest disappointment in his career was the failure of the Meech Lake accord to be ratified in Canada. Mr Bourassa invested a tremendous amount in that agreement, as he saw it as the basis for a way that Quebec could remain and grow within the Canadian Confederation.

When I got to know him slightly it was during the negotiations that led to the Charlottetown accord. At that time Mr Bourassa was suffering from his illness; it was in remission, but many of us around the table felt he was suffering a great deal more than he was prepared to admit to us or publicly. It took a tremendous effort on his part to be able to make clear his commitment to Canada as well as his commitment to Quebec during those negotiations.

I think it's fair to say that he didn't share the same enthusiasm for the Charlottetown accord that he did for the Meech Lake accord, but he took a risk, a significant risk, in committing to that agreement. So the failure to reach a ratification across Canada must have been another disappointment for him, but it wasn't one that would lead him to quit or to back out of his commitment to finding a way to ensure that Quebec could remain within Canada and that francophones within Quebec, Quebeckers, would be able to find their rightful place within Confederation.

When he left politics, active politics, it was because of his illness and was a choice that he did not take easily. As an observer around the table watching him deal with very difficult issues, I came to respect his ability not only to understand what everyone else was saying but to try to bring people together, in a way that I think I came to understand a bit of what he had to do every day as Premier of Quebec.

I suspect one of the greatest tributes made to him on hearing of his death was said by one of his political opponents in Quebec, where he said Robert Bourassa did not have any political enemies, he only had political adversaries. I think that's quite true. Not only did he not have any political enemies, he had many, many political friends, even though there were differences.

All of us in Canada, as well as the people of Quebec, have suffered a great loss with his passing and I join with all members of the House in expressing again our sincere sympathies for the family and to Québécois.




Mrs Lyn McLeod (Leader of the Opposition): My question is for the Minister of Community and Social Services. I'll begin, Minister, by having to tell you that I was rather shocked yesterday by your callous attitude during the debate that we had initiated on the cuts to the disabled and particularly on the cuts to funding for the special services at home program. I can also tell you, Minister, that your comments that the debate wasn't necessary were an insult to Linda Till and others who depend on the special services at home program and who were watching in the gallery.

But having said that, Minister, I can tell you that I was even more shocked this morning when I received a brown envelope detailing your government's secret plans to cut services for the disabled even further, to change the definition of "disabled" and to gut vocational rehabilitation services. Minister, I want to read to you from an interoffice memorandum where it states, "Ellen Waxman will now work with John Rebow on the new definition of `disability,' the definition that will be operative across all Ministry of Community and Social Services programs."

Minister, will you now admit that you are indeed breaking your promise not to cut funding to the disabled? Will you admit that you are planning to cut the number of people who qualify for government support by changing the definition of "disabled"? Is this the next step in your attack on the disabled of this province?

Hon Janet Ecker (Minister of Community and Social Services): First of all, I did not say that yesterday's debate was unnecessary because I think the issue that we were discussing was extremely important and that issue was the support for those families that choose and can and are able to care for disabled children at home. Secondly, I will not admit that we are doing any of those things because it is not true.

Mrs McLeod: I have in my hand the copy of an interoffice memorandum dated June 25, 1996, in which it states very clearly that Ellen Waxman will now work with John Rebow on the new definition of "disability," and I suggest to you that not only are you attacking the disabled, but you're not being particularly honest about it today. You are secretly working and have been secretly working on a process to change the definition of "disabled" so that you could save money. The fact that you are not prepared to acknowledge that you are going on with this is not very honest. The fact that you're looking at it all, in my view, Minister, is absolutely unconscionable.

The document contains other revelations of what you are considering that I find absolutely shocking. I want to quote again from the minutes of that meeting in which you are debating the changes proposed to vocational services for the disabled and one that struck me was where it says, "Some may pay on a sliding scale for vocational services." Minister, if you're keeping your promise not to cut the disabled, can you tell me how you would even think about bringing in new user fees for the disabled of this province?

Hon Mrs Ecker: The honourable member across the way can choose to turn this into a personal slanging match about whose credibility is what if she wishes. This government has been very clear that the current programs for those who are disabled -- to stick them on welfare is not the place they should be. We are working to bring a new program in that will serve them better. We consulted with the community before we've done anything. We are continuing to consult with the community before we do anything, because we want to hear their input, because this program they're currently stuck on is not serving their needs, and I resent very much the implication across the way that my credibility is in question or that my compassion and caring are in question.

Mrs McLeod: Minister, you may resent very much your credibility being called into question; I resent very much the fact that a year ago we were raising the concerns about your ministry's intention to change the definition of "disabled." I grant you were not minister at that point in time. I resent very much the fact that almost a year later we get hold of an interoffice memorandum that says indeed you are not only considering it, you have staff working with other staff on a new definition of "disability." I believe that we and the disabled of this province have a right to openness in terms of what you are considering and what it will mean for the disabled of this province.

I am shocked, Minister, I am absolutely shocked that a government that has already brought in new user fees for drugs for seniors and the disabled in order to help pay for its tax cut is now even considering bringing in user fees for rehabilitation services. This comes from a government whose Premier keeps talking about giving people a hand up and not a handout. I can't think of a single program that does a better job of giving people a hand up than vocational rehabilitation services.

Minister, how can you justify the plans you are putting in place to gut this program, to attack the very people who are looking to get rehabilitation so they can re-enter the workforce? How can you consider charging them user fees?

Hon Mrs Ecker: The only gutting of vocational rehabilitation programs in this province will happen if your friends in Ottawa back out of their agreement on vocational rehabilitation.

We've been very clear that the disabled in this province deserve a better deal than they got. We've consulted with them to design proposals for a new program. We are continuing to consult with them to design a new program because no decisions have been made. We are working on proposals that will serve them better because they need better service than they got previously.

Mrs McLeod: My second question is also to the Minister of Community and Social Services. The litany of denials following the reality of cut after cut is getting a little hard to deal with. We talked to you on Monday about special services at home cuts, cuts to families from 30% to 70%, in some cases to 100%, as you try and stretch dollars thinner and thinner so they don't meet the needs at all, and you just say, "We haven't really cut programs that affect the disabled."

Yesterday we went over program after program where the disabled have been hit directly or indirectly by your government's cuts and you deny that any of that is really happening: "We haven't made any cuts to the disabled." So today, when we bring forward evidence that you are gutting these programs and that you are considering further gutting of the programs of vocational rehabilitation services that help the disabled, I'm not surprised you deny them.

Minister, the memorandum is absolutely clear. Will you simply tell us today what new definition of "disabled" you are working on? Can you tell us how much your sliding fee is going to be and can you tell us when all of this is going to be effective?

Hon Mrs Ecker: The special services at home program has not been cut. We have not cut the handicapped benefit program. We have reinvested from the Ministry of Health $170 million into more community services for the disabled. We're going to be reinvesting another $60 million from the downsizing of facilities. So I resent that we are somehow not paying attention to those issues and to those very important matters.

We've been very clear: We are looking at the program for disabled because we want to remove them from the welfare system. We want to make a new program that will work for them. There are many proposals that have been talked about with the disabled community. There will continue to be proposals talked about with the disabled community because I would much rather ensure that we are getting their advice before we do anything than the advice that I am currently being offered.

Mrs McLeod: I can tell the minister that people in the disabled community have been terrified for the past year that this ministry is indeed looking at a new definition of "disabled." They want to know now what that new definition is so they know what they're going to have to deal with, what they're going to have to fight, as this ministry continues to attack the disabled of this province, but the disabled of this province will be as shocked as we are that the idea of making people pay a fee for their rehabilitation services is something else that may appear in the legislation.


They will also be rather shocked, when you keep saying you have not cut services to the disabled, when they keep remembering the promise that was made not to cut the services to the disabled, to see very clearly in this memorandum the statement that, "We are having a discussion of the reduction of services, both through disentanglement and possibly a ceiling on the time that is eligible for service."

Again, Minister, it is clear -- we are looking for direct answers -- that this says "reduction of services." How can that mean anything other than a cut for the disabled of this province? How can that be anything other than a broken promise to the disabled of Ontario?

Hon Mrs Ecker: We are continuing to consult with the disabled community because we want to design a better program. We want to design a program that not only will suit their needs; we want to design a program that is sustainable and that this province can continue to support and give it the priority that we think it deserves, and I stand by that commitment.

Mrs McLeod: I have one last opportunity to get the minister to address what is clearly the discussion going on in her ministry, and I believe the disabled of this province have a right to know what they are considering. They are considering new user fees. They are clearly considering a redefinition of "disabled." They are considering ceilings on the length of time that the disabled can receive services.

The memo goes on, Minister, the other kinds of things that are being considered, and I'm just going to list some of them: reducing the funding for local transportation, eliminating 100% funding of educational assessments, eliminating funding of support services for post-secondary services, and no funding for part-time and certificate post-secondary programs.

Minister, where is this going to stop? I don't know when your consultation with the disabled is going to begin, but I certainly want to know when you are going to stop gutting the programs for the disabled of this province.

Hon Mrs Ecker: I'm sure the honourable member would like to claim that this government has made decisions based on whatever brown envelopes or leaked documents she thinks she has or she may have or she may not have, or came from this civil servant or that civil servant.

We have consulted with the disability community. We will continue to do so, before we make final decisions, before we go out the door with any program, because we want to make sure that it's going to work for the disabled community.


Mr Howard Hampton (Rainy River): I wanted to ask this question of the Minister of Health, since it concerns health care. Since he's not here today, I will ask it of the Minister of Labour.

Ontario is fortunate to have a province-wide network of occupational health clinics that do outstanding work in preventing workplace disease, illness and accidents. Unfortunately, your government is considering a proposal that would close the occupational health clinics for Ontario workers. The proposal says that the province's health system should simply pick up the burden, should pick up the millions of dollars in costs.

My question to the Minister of Labour: Have you done any impact studies to show the costs on our health care system that would result from moving away from accident and disease prevention in the workplace and shutting down the occupational health clinics for Ontario workers?

Hon Elizabeth Witmer (Minister of Labour): To the member and leader of the third party, I think your comments are very premature. I am still looking at the report, and there has been absolutely no indication from me or anyone within my ministry that we have any indication of closing the clinics. We have been consulting. In fact, as recently as last week we met again with those who operate the clinics, we have met with the labour leaders, and I can tell you they are getting a very fair hearing.

Our concern is that we focus on the prevention of illness and injury in this province in a very coordinated fashion, and if those clinics indeed can support that strategy and they can support that vision, then certainly we are prepared to continue with the clinics.

Mr Hampton: Once again, it was a simple question. I asked the minister if the government has done any studies which will show how much in terms of cost will be pushed on to the health care system. The minister knows those studies have been done out there. They've been done elsewhere, in other jurisdictions. The minister knows there's a lot of information around that shows that you can save a lot of money if you focus on preventing injury and death in the workplace and if you focus on preventing illness and disease in the workplace. So I would hope you would answer that question. There are a bunch of people who want that question answered.

I was in Sudbury on the weekend and I went to the Weston Bakeries plant in Sudbury, where they won an award for the good work that the workers and the employer have done in that plant with the occupational health clinic in terms of making it a safer place to work and in terms of eliminating some conditions which could contribute to disease. Everyone there agreed that the clinic does absolutely valuable work that the regular health care system is not equipped to do; they simply don't have the expertise, don't have the databases and frankly don't have the focus.

So I want to ask you again, have you looked at the impact studies and are you prepared to guarantee the funding of these clinics rather than passing off more health care costs on to the Ministry of Health?

Hon Mrs Witmer: Again to the leader of the third party, I know that what you're saying is indeed true. The people who work at the clinics are very, very proud of all they have accomplished, and they deserve to be. They have certainly made a difference.

I would again emphasize to you that our primary concern is to focus on the prevention of illness and injury in this province. We want to have the the safest, among the safest, workplaces in all the world. We are carefully evaluating the work done by the clinics. That's why it is taking so long. We have asked the clinics to give us the numbers, which they have just very recently agreed to give us, in order that we can determine how cost-efficient it is, and we are carefully studying all that data.

Again, I emphasize to you that we want to make sure we have a coordinated strategy, a coordinated vision, and that we all work together to prevent injury and illness.

Mr Hampton: In fact, that's what the clinics are. The clinics involve a cooperative enterprise between employers and workers and the workers' compensation system, and they do that kind of focused, thoughtful work in the workplace. They do the kind of work, they provide the kind of information, that for example allows mining industry companies to change some of their practices so as to avoid a high ratio of cancers in the workplace. They provide information, for example, to the steel industry and the pulp and paper industry in terms of the kinds of chemical processes to be used or to be amended. They provide the kind of information that helped Weston Bakeries change some of its air exchange systems in Sudbury to avoid high levels of dust in the workplace. That work is already being done by these occupational health clinics.

Why can't you commit to continuing the funding for something that clearly works and clearly has the support of workers and a number of employers across the province?

Hon Mrs Witmer: Again to the leader of the third party, I would simply repeat what I've said before. We are attempting to put in place a preventive strategy for health and safety in this province. If indeed at the end of our complete review of the work of the clinics it's demonstrated that they do support that vision and that indeed they are willing to work with us and work with the Ministry of Labour and with the Workers' Compensation Board, then obviously they will continue to exist.



Mr Howard Hampton (Rainy River): My next question is to the Minister of Citizenship, Culture and Recreation and it's about the government's continuing agenda of cuts that will affect working people and children. Your ministry's business plan talks about a sports strategy, and we understand there's to be an announcement on Friday. We have already heard from your parliamentary assistant, who made the careless comment that amateur sports groups in Ontario are welfare recipients who have to be taken off the dole. We've heard from him and we suspect that means your strategy will simply be more Conservative cuts -- more cuts that will affect children, more cuts that will affect working families all across this province.

Let me put it to you bluntly: Can you assure us today that you will not be making more cuts to amateur sports and recreation and all of those volunteers across the province who run the minor hockey programs, the figure skating programs, the swimming programs, the soccer programs, and who do so much good work with the children and youth across this province? Can you assure us that you won't be cutting those children and youth?

Hon Marilyn Mushinski (Minister of Citizenship, Culture and Recreation): What I can assure the honourable member of is the fact that we have not had an appropriate sports strategy for the young people of this province for the last 20 years. What I have been doing over the last nine months is undertaking a new strategy so that the funds that are allocated for sports in this province clearly go to the development of the athletes and the young people in this province, something that has not happened in the last 20 years and certainly not in the last five under his jurisdiction.

Mr Hampton: The minister says there is no strategy. I don't think the minister has been out there and talked to the 700,000 Ontario volunteers who work in amateur sport and recreation across the province, because those 700,000 volunteers would say that there has indeed been a strategy: The government puts in some seed money and that money is used to organize, coordinate and develop the programs for those 700,000 volunteers who provide the program for 4.5 million children, youth and adults across the province.

The minister can have it her way; she can say there's no strategy. I'm saying to the minister there are 700,000 volunteers out there who absolutely disagree with you. What they want to know is, are you going to commit to continue to fund those amateur sports and recreations so they can carry on with delivering those important programs for children and youth across the province? Are you going to make that commitment?

Hon Ms Mushinski: In answer to the honourable member's question, he'll have to wait until Friday when I make my announcement.

Mr Hampton: The habit of this government -- and anybody who's been involved with it knows -- is to make its announcements Friday afternoon and then hope that, as the weekend passes, nobody will notice and no one will pay any attention. There are a whole bunch of people who are noticing. Donovan Bailey, Silken Laumann, Curt Harnett, people who went to the Olympics and who won medals for Canada, all of whom are from Ontario, have been blunt -- very, very blunt -- on this issue. If you cut the funding which supports the 700,000 volunteers who go out there and do the work and deliver the services for children and youth all across this province in terms of sports and recreation, you are cutting children and you are cutting youth. You can try to identify it as the sport organizations; the people you are going to cut are going to be the children and the youth.

Let me put it to you this way. Why don't you do the courageous thing for children and youth in this province, why don't you do the right thing for children and youth in this province, and why don't you guarantee the funding which will allow those 700,000 volunteers to get on with their important work? Why don't you do that, Minister?

Hon Ms Mushinski: Perhaps I should correct the record for the leader of the third party, who represented a government that hardly met in its last year. We're meeting on a Friday morning rather than Friday afternoon to make our announcement.

Let me just tell you for the record what my ministry is doing with respect to the funding of sports and recreation in this province. To support provincial sport organizations we have a total budget of $11.8 million, and the sports strategy, which will clearly show that we're going to be flowing our dollars more effectively for sport and youth in this province, will be announced on October 4, in the morning.

For the community development strategic fund, the budget is $1.3 million; for the recreation program for small communities, which is regulation 797, the budget is $2.4 million; and for the games support program, which funds all of the games both for our youth and for our seniors in this province, the budget is $700,000. So to suggest that we are not funding sport in this province is inaccurate.

The Speaker (Hon Ed Doyle): The Chair recognizes the member for St Catharines.

Mr James J. Bradley (St Catharines): Thank you, Mr Speaker. I'd be prepared to yield my time to Mr Kells, the member for Etobicoke-Lakeshore, on this subject, but I don't think he wants to come forward.


Mr James J. Bradley (St Catharines): My question is for the Minister of Consumer and Commercial Relations, he is now, the member for Markham. Minister, your government has decided to prey upon the most vulnerable and the most desperate people in our society, those who are addicted to gambling and those who have little chance, because they're not well connected in the Mike Harris society, of achieving a good deal of wealth. You're doing this by introducing video lottery terminals, or electronic slot machines, in bars and restaurants across Ontario to make up for the revenue you're losing as a result of your tax cut that benefits the rich and the privileged the most.

My colleagues Mr Crozier and Mr Kennedy in the justice committee have requested that in dealing with the legislation they be permitted to know everything there is to know about the circumstances surrounding video lottery terminals in Ontario. So I'm asking you, are you prepared to release to the justice committee, to members of this Legislature, to the news media and to the people of Ontario a secret report entitled Gambling in Ontario: Current Enforcement Concerns, 1995? Are you prepared to share that information or are you going to keep it secret?

Hon David H. Tsubouchi (Minister of Consumer and Commercial Relations): I don't believe I have that currently. Perhaps the member can pass over what he does have so I can see what he is speaking of.

If you're talking about the greater issue, one of the reasons why we're looking at a number of entertainment types of initiatives -- certainly that's something that was carried forward by the previous government. But one of the problems we've had currently in this province is that we don't have a certain amount of accountability to the charities which do participate right now in terms of the roving casinos. I think anyone who's ever participated in municipal government knows of what I speak. Certainly I've seen instances myself where certain charities that have dedicated three or four days of their time to the roving casinos are, at the end of this, really stuck with nothing or even are in the hole. That's a result of not having proper regulations, really tightly monitored systems.


If we look in terms of where we may go, it's very important for us to have very tight regulatory control, and certainly it's very important to have charities benefit. Currently, charities benefit, out of the gambling initiatives in this province, probably about $10 million to $15 million, in that range. The province right now is seeking to improve that, to make sure that charities do get the benefit of these gambling initiatives, that in fact they are the ones that will benefit from this.

Mr Bradley: That had nothing to do with the question I asked, but I will try again. The Premier and the Minister of Finance, when they were members of the opposition just to the left of me, made some excellent speeches condemning gambling on the part of government. Indeed, the Premier, during the election campaign, indicated that he wanted nothing to do with these gambling revenues. Yet we have a circumstance where you're introducing electronic slot machines to virtually every bar and restaurant in the province of Ontario and you're doing it without the kind of information that we need.

The excuse the Treasurer used when he introduced it was that somehow this was out of control in Ontario, and because so many people were breaking the law, the government had to take it over and had to, itself, introduce video lottery terminals to all of these various sites. That's like saying that since crack cocaine is illegal, the government supposedly should take that over and sell it.

I ask the member, if that is indeed the case, why will you not now release -- and I find it hard to comprehend that your staff wouldn't have this available to you -- the report called Gambling in Ontario: Current Enforcement Concerns, 1995? Is it because this document will not confirm what your government has stated but in fact will justify what the opposition has been saying about the introduction of VLTs across this province?

Hon Mr Tsubouchi: I would like to repeat a request to the honourable member if he would kindly send over what he does have so I can see of what he is speaking. He's flashing over a photocopied page to me. Certainly it will be more appropriate if I get that.

Secondly, what we do feel is important is that there are proper regulatory controls -- Criminal Intelligence Service Ontario? I don't believe this is even a report provided to our ministry.

Mr Gerry Phillips (Scarborough-Agincourt): How do you know that?

Hon Mr Tsubouchi: Even by the title, it would certainly imply that it's not one of our ministry's documents.

Returning to what I was saying, what's important to this government is to make sure that what we do is look at things in a very tightly controlled regulatory manner, so we can make sure that whatever happens we do benefit the charities of this province, that we do make sure that the people of this province are protected, and at the same time we do look in terms of how we can support the various sectors of this province that have been asking us, and previous governments, for assistance in making sure that they still remain financially viable. That's clearly the message we got over the hearings.


Ms Frances Lankin (Beaches-Woodbine): My question is to the Minister of Community and Social Services and it's with respect, Minister, to the report on child care in Ontario that you wrote which proposes some very radical and may I say massive changes to the child care system in our province.

I think the minister knows from previous conversations we've had a bit about my background in the child care field and that I have a great interest in this, and I think she would predict that I'll find some of her suggestions quite problematic.

I would also suggest to her that members of the Ontario Coalition for Better Child Care have some serious concerns, but I suspect you might dismiss those concerns, myself, because I'm a partisan politician, because your government tends to treat groups like this as special interests and dismiss them.

But I wanted to raise with you some concerns of another person, a Dr Donna Lero, who is with the College of Family and Consumer Studies at the University of Guelph and was a member of your advisory committee, and who wrote to you recently. I just want to read a couple of quotes from her letter to you.

"I have now had some time to read the discussion paper and the accompanying materials more thoroughly. In thinking about the proposed directions, I have asked myself the following questions: If greater accessibility is provided, but to poorer quality care, is that progress? If more child care centres open, but the work of being a child care provider is further devalued, and is even more poorly paid -- resulting in poorer quality caregiving, and even higher rates of turnover and instability -- will you not do more harm than good?...

"Indeed, with time to read the paper through, I am convinced that some of the more significant recommendations would greatly weaken the quality of care built up so carefully in this province over a long period of time -- and destabilize the system in the process.... There is no way I can support proposals that would have such a terrible effect on Ontario's children and families."

Those are pretty powerful words from a woman who is an expert in this field, who was on your advisory panel and who has now written to you and said, "Please take my name off that list; I do not want to be associated with your proposals."

Minister, has this led you to rethink the proposals in that report? Can you tell us why such a renowned expert would think so poorly of the recommendations that you have put forward?

Hon Janet Ecker (Minister of Community and Social Services): I think as my honourable colleague probably knows, and if she doesn't know, I'll repeat it again here, I have great respect for her background in child care, which I understand spanned many years.

Also, I've met many times with the Ontario Coalition for Better Child Care, because again it's another of the many groups involved in child care that have serious concerns about the system as it exists today and have made many recommendations to me in the many meetings I've had, both formally with that association and with the many individuals as I consulted across the province. That is also another one of the groups that I will continue to meet with over the fall as we do consultation on this report, because I would like to stress that these are proposals. These are proposals that try to reflect the balance of the input we received from across the province when we talked to all the different groups and the parents that were involved in child care.

I'd like to also note that Donna Lero, whose input and advice I was very pleased to receive as a member of my advisory committee -- that letter, as you will also note, says that she is still interested in participating and working and giving advice to this government, and I think her expertise has certainly been very, very valuable.

The purpose of those proposals, the purpose of what we're trying to do when we make final decisions as to what we will do with child care, is to take that $600 million that we have and spend it in a way that will provide more quality child care for more families but in a way that is fair and equitable. I think that's --

The Speaker (Hon Ed Doyle): The question is answered.

Hon Mrs Ecker: -- the appropriate thing for us to do.

Ms Lankin: Minister, you mentioned that Dr Lero is interested in continuing to advise the government. I guess I want to know, are you taking the advice that she's put forward in this letter?

Many of us would like to advise the government and advise you with respect to your report. I called your ministry to find out how the consultations were going to take place. I was told, "Well, you can send in a letter over the next month." I said, "Surely the minister's going to go out and meet with people?" "Well, the minister will be meeting with a few stakeholders." "Could I see the list of who those are?" "No, that's not public."

Last Friday members of the Ontario Coalition for Better Child Care went to your office. They were met with locked doors and a security guard. Someone said they would set up a meeting with them. As of today, they've not heard back from your office. There are members of the coalition in the gallery today.

Minister, I'd like to get two commitments from you today. There's a whole lot of commitments I'd like from you over a long period of time, but today, two.


One, will you agree over the next week to meet with the Ontario Coalition for Better Child Care? And when you meet with them, will you agree to discuss what is an appropriate process of public consultation so that we can ensure that not just a handpicked group of people that you're going to meet with privately get to have input into these proposals that are going to have a massive effect on the child care system, but that parents and child care workers and others who are concerned for the wellbeing of our children across this province get a chance to meet publicly with you to talk about your proposals for child care reform?

Hon Mrs Ecker: If the Ontario Coalition for Better Child Care had made an appointment, I might have been there Friday when they chose to show up unannounced and demand to see me. As I repeat, I've met with them before, I've met with many individuals within their association in the past several months as I've gone through the consultation. The list of groups that I've met with before in the back of the report, those are the same groups --

Ms Lankin: Answer the question.

Hon Mrs Ecker: If you'd let me finish, Ms Lankin, I might answer the question -- the same group of individuals that we will be meeting with again in the future. I would like to repeat, if the honourable members would like to listen, I am very prepared to meet with all the groups that represent the wide range of child care in this province. There are groups who believe that what this government should be doing is not spending money on child care centres but giving that money to parents so they can choose to stay home and look after their children. There are also groups like the coalition who believe that there must be appropriate child care centres and that those must be funded by the government. So there is a whole range of views out there from many groups. The Ontario Coalition is one of those groups. I remain willing to meet with them as I've met with them before and I will continue to meet with these groups as we develop our final proposals.


Mr Bill Grimmett (Muskoka-Georgian Bay): My question is for the Minister of Transportation. Minister, as you may be aware, the new Casino Rama has opened this summer, by all accounts to great success. However, I understand that with the increased traffic in the area there has been a great concentration of traffic problems in the Rama area. What is your ministry doing to try and resolve the traffic problems in the vicinity of the Rama casino?

Hon Al Palladini (Minister of Transportation): I would like to thank the member for Muskoka-Georgian Bay for the question. I think it is a good question and certainly the Ministry of Transportation is aware of the traffic problems that are being created because of the casino opening at Highway 12 at the Atherley Narrows. The ministry has been working very closely with Ontario Provincial Police, Casino Rama and the Ontario Casino Corp to find ways to minimize the congestion while working on a permanent solution to the traffic problems. We are carrying out improvements to major intersections and we also have changeable message signs which have been installed. We also have, through the casino association, an offsite parking lot so at least some of the congestion is going to be alleviated.

One other thing I'd like to share with you: GO Transit, along with CN Rail and Casino Rama, have started a new train service to the casino which has been well received, I might add, and certainly provides a convenient alternative for the people who do not want to drive. By leasing the trains to CN at times when they would be ordinarily just sitting there doing nothing, GO Transit is maximizing its resources. I certainly would like to commend CN and GO Transit and the casino association for creating the Rama express.


Hon Mr Palladini: The honourable members across the room here are not too enthusiastic about these concerns, but I want to just say that we will continue to work together to ensure that the reconstruction of Highway 12 will begin in the spring of 1997 and the improvements will include a twinning of the Atherley Narrows bridge --

The Speaker (Hon Ed Doyle): The question has been answered.

Hon Mr Palladini: -- and also highway widening. We hope to have this in place by early 1999.

Mr Grimmett: A supplementary question: The cost of these repairs --


The Speaker: Order.

Mr Grimmett: -- are they being shared by the casino?

Hon Mr Palladini: Mr Speaker, I apologize. Would you ask the member to repeat the question? I was not able to hear the question.

Mr Grimmett: Will the cost of these road improvements be shared by the casino?

Hon Mr Palladini: I believe the casino operators would be willing to contribute to these improvements and I assure the member that this is being discussed as we go along.


Mr Bruce Crozier (Essex South): My question is to the Minister of Transportation and it will only take a simple yes. Your stated plans are to eliminate the service of driver examination centres in Hamilton Mountain, Welland, Niagara Falls, Cayuga, Midland, Strathroy, St Thomas, Cambridge, Trenton, Port Hope, Winchester and, in my riding, Leamington. I've written to you and I've spoken with you about these closures. Will you review the information I've sent to you and consider that this valuable service be continued for the residents of Essex South?

Hon Al Palladini (Minister of Transportation): I want to thank the member for the question. Yes, he has written to me for further consideration of the request his constituents have made to him. I've even talked to the honourable member about the situation, about what we are faced with. I concur that we must be able to deliver services to the people of Ontario, but at the same time we must also be able to utilize the facilities we have in place to deliver those services. There are facilities throughout the province of Ontario that are not being maximized. Unfortunately, this is the situation we find ourselves in, and until we can see that we can maximize these service deliveries, we are going to have to make decisions that are not very favourable and not very easy to be done. I will make sure I get back to the honourable member with my final decision.

Mr Crozier: That surprises me, because the office has been advised that it's closing at the end of October. I appreciate the fact that you will get back to me. Let me advise you of this: The criterion that you've used, and yet haven't defended, is that the centres have to be within 50 kilometres. This centre is in excess of 50 kilometres away from Windsor and/or Chatham.

I've asked how, with one office in Windsor, you can serve more than 300,000 constituents. You gave me an answer at one point that Leamington has only 14,700 people and you quoted the source of your information. This centre serves an immediate area of more than 40,000 and we have many people coming out of Windsor to use it. There are five driving schools in the area which will be affected by your decision.

I will ask you to do this when you get back to me with your final answer: Please look beyond the percentages and look at the people, and look beyond the statistics and look at the service. Will you do that? Because the people in Essex South think you are a person who will listen, and I hope you will take these arguments into consideration.

Hon Mr Palladini: Again, I want to thank the member for his question. We have given the member certain information on how we might have arrived at some of these closures. Population is one part of the entity; travel is another part of the entity. At the same time, we also have to take a look at the facility and how it is being utilized. Certain facilities are not being maximized to their full utilization -- in other words, running at 50%, 60%, 70% of the capacity they're able to do -- versus other issuers within the same range. Therefore, we have to make a decision on closing certain centres; also because of the fact that we are able to get out of a lease, which is possibly expiring at a more reasonable date. These are decisions.

One of the things I want to say to the honourable member is that we are committed to making sure that we are going to do better for less, but I'm also saying to the honourable member that just because we are closing certain centres doesn't mean the services available are going to be fewer. On the contrary, I anticipate better service.



Ms Frances Lankin (Beaches-Woodbine): My question is to the Minister of Correctional Services. It is common knowledge that James Lonnee was placed in a segregation cell with another youth, a youth who has now been charged with his murder. After this tragic incident, you agreed that youth should not be doubled up in segregation cells. Did you take action on this? Did you send out a directive prohibiting the double bunking of youth in one segregation cell?

Hon Robert W. Runciman (Solicitor General and Minister of Correctional Services): I indicated earlier, when this tragic incident occurred, that I'm not going to get into details related to the incident, how it occurred and what actions the government may be contemplating, given the fact that there is an ongoing police investigation and that there will be an internal ministry investigation following completion of the police investigation.

Ms Lankin: Maybe you misunderstood my question. It was not with respect to James Lonnee; it was with respect to youth who are still alive in the custody of your provincial institutions and what steps you're taking to assure them. The Premier, in answer to a question in this House around youth in young offenders institutions, said "Let me assure you that I have taken what steps I believe are appropriate to ensure that the safety of the children is utmost in our minds. I think the parents can have utmost confidence in that." So it's bizarre to hear you say you're not going to tell us what actions you've taken to protect youth at this point in time.

Let me tell you something about what's going on in your ministry right now. Last night at Metro West Detention Centre there were eight youths being housed in five segregation cells. That obviously means that three of these cells were doubled up -- double bunking.

From reviewing your ministry's own annual report on the isolation of youth, the most common reasons for youth to be put in segregation are for assaults on peers, suicide prevention and crisis management. Your own policy on segregation sets out that the purpose for this is to separate them from others.

The system failed James Lonnee. You said several days after his death that youth should not be doubled up in segregation cells. We know it's too late for us to do anything to help James Lonnee, but it's not too late for us collectively to take steps to protect other youth in the system. In view of the murder of James Lonnee and your commitments and the Premier's commitments, will you commit today that no youth will be double bunked while in a segregation cell from this day forward?

Hon Mr Runciman: That policy is being reviewed. There are situations where it may be appropriate for double bunking, if it's a suicide question, even in segregation. Indeed, we are reviewing that, but we have some real limitations with respect to segregation of young offenders. I've talked about those in the House before. These are not new. They've been around the system for some time, and we're attempting to address them.

Some of these problems are not going to be solved overnight, but at least we are taking the tough decisions. We've made a decision with respect to training. The former government was advised to deal with that. They declined to deal with that. We are restructuring the jail system so that we can move young offenders out of adult facilities. We're doing that; the former government declined to take that tough decision.

I thank the member for raising an issue last week with respect to Vanier. We investigated that situation and found out that young offenders in that area -- and we believe it's in violation of the Young Offenders Act -- were coming into contact with adults, being fed by adults. We have stopped that policy. That policy was instituted two years ago by the NDP government. I ask this member, where was she around the cabinet table when that decision was taken?

We are doing what's right, we are doing what's responsible and, finally, but most important, we are doing what's long overdue.


Mr Jack Carroll (Chatham-Kent): My question is for the Minister of Environment and Energy. Air quality is an issue which is of great concern to all the residents of Ontario and certainly to us in southwestern Ontario. I was interested to read this morning that the pilot study that's been going on here in the GTA on vehicle tailpipe emissions will be drawing to a close at the end of October. All of us know that vehicle emissions are major contributors to the quality of our air. Could you please inform the House, as the minister responsible for the environment, what options you are looking at for reducing vehicle emissions in Ontario?

Hon Norman W. Sterling (Minister of Environment and Energy): I'm glad that members of the government back bench are interested in the environment. I wondered when I was going to get a question in this House.

I was down in Windsor last Thursday and met with the Windsor advisory committee on air emissions. They were very concerned as well in their community about this very significant problem we have in Ontario. Health Canada estimates that we have some 1,800 Ontarians who died prematurely due to the bad air we have in this province. That's why I'm looking at a vehicle emission testing program which, quite frankly, was first thought of by my predecessor, the Honourable Brenda Elliott. I'm going to follow on her initiation and put this program into place.

The goal of this program is to provide vehicle owners with a convenient, economical and practical testing for their vehicles. I believe that if we take some positive steps, we then can request some of our border states to take some remedial steps as well. I'm happy to address this problem head on. It hasn't been addressed by any previous governments in the past and I will look forward to doing these kinds of things to improve the air quality of Ontario.

Mr Carroll: Obviously all our emission problems are not generated in our province; a lot of them are a result of what happens in the northern American states. What plans have you to deal with that particular problem that originates outside of our jurisdiction?

Hon Mr Sterling: As I mentioned in my answer to the previous question, I believe that if we lead by example in this regard, then we can go to the border states, where over 50% of the problem is created for Ontario, and say to them: "We're doing our part. How about you doing something on your part?" I've already met with the Secretary of the Environment for the state of Pennsylvania and discussed with him the needs that we have in this province to reach some understanding of how we benefit, unfortunately, from their air pollution. I have asked our federal minister, Mr Marchi, to act aggressively on this issue. It appeared earlier this month that he was not doing that. I will continually be on his back to make certain that he is pressing this issue with his people in the United States. Further, I intend to meet with other people in the border states to impress upon them our concern over this issue. This is a big issue for the people of Ontario and particularly for the people of Chatham-Kent and the Windsor area.


Mr Dominic Agostino (Hamilton East): I have a real question for the Minister of Environment this time. A study was conducted in Hamilton-Wentworth by the Ministry of Energy and Environment. In this study, an alarming conclusion was drawn regarding the levels of small particle pollution known as PM10s in Hamilton's air. This study revealed that 20 to 25 deaths a year are directly attributed to this pollutant. This study was confirmed by your chief air quality assessment officer, Dr Dennis Corr, who said: "People are dying from air pollution. There is no doubt the level of particulate pollution we're experiencing in Hamilton is causing health effects." Mr Slater, your district director, also said: "This particle is not under any ministry regulations. It is causing serious effects in Hamilton-Wentworth."

I wrote to the Premier August 15. We have not had a response from you to this issue. It is very serious. It is important, particularly to the people of the east end, which I represent. Will you commit today to, first of all, immediately bring in regulations to control this particle and put standards for industry? Second, will you commit today for your ministry to carry out a health study in the east end of Hamilton to see the impact and the fallout from this pollution particle?

Hon Norman W. Sterling (Minister of Environment and Energy): I'm very concerned about this particular issue and I've had some initial briefings on it. We have in the past done extensive testing in the Hamilton area with regard to this problem and I'm aware of it. We're working on a solution to it and I undertake to the member that we'll do everything in our power to arrest this particular air pollutant.


Mr Agostino: Simply, that is not good enough. This is the ministry that has gutted regulations. Your ministry shut down the environmental testing unit in the east end of Hamilton. The monitoring station in the east end that monitors environmental particulates in the air was shut down by your ministry a month and a half ago in the area most affected. For you, Minister, to simply say, "We're doing the best we can," is not good enough. This is not a lobby group. This is not some sort of outside group that carries out the study. This was your own ministry that said 20 to 25 people a year are dying in my community as a result of this particular pollutant that is in the air which your ministry has the responsibility to control.

Minister, I'm not looking for some sort of feel-good answer today. I'm looking for a specific answer to a specific question. Once again, I urge you and ask you, will you commit to immediately bring in regulations to control PM10, the particulate in question, and will you commit to carrying out a health study for the east end of Hamilton so my residents can be assured the proper precautions will be taken care of and that your ministry's doing everything it can? Please give me a direct answer. This is not a political question; this is serious. It is dangerous to the people of Hamilton. What will you do and when will you do this?

Hon Mr Sterling: We are working with the federal government to develop standards for this particular item. I do treat it as a serious item, as I do treat all environmental problems, particularly when we have alarming reports as the member has said. That is why I'm cautious in terms of answering these questions as to what I can truly achieve over a short period of time.

Therefore, I would only say to the member that we are developing standards with regard to this particular kind of air pollutant with the federal government so that we will have a good standard, a standard we can stand behind and a standard which can be achievable and we can find out those who are causing it and stop them from causing it.


The Speaker (Hon Ed Doyle): The time for question period has expired. Before we get on to motions, I wonder if members of the House would kindly bear with me for just a moment. There are a few things that I would like to say.

When I first accepted this position that was so kindly offered to me a week ago, there had been a rumour that there was an agreement between the party leaders that I would be resigning at the end of a week and today I would like to set the record straight. The rumour is true and I'll be stepping down at 12:01 on October 3, so I've stretched it a minute into the next day. That's to ensure that should things go beyond 6 o'clock tonight, there'll be somebody to cover.

I want to say a few other things before I go too, if you will indulge me for just a moment. I would like to thank the House leaders who were so kind to me. To David Johnson, to Jim Bradley, the member for St Catharines, the member for Algoma, Bud Wildman, these two gentlemen I see in the hallways and we stop and we joke with each other and I have a great deal of respect for them and I thank them for their nomination and I truly appreciate it.

I may be called out of order for what I'm about to say next --

Interjection: By whom?

The Speaker: Well, I'll rule in my own favour -- but I would also like to thank the Clerk, Mr DesRosiers, Alex, Debbie and now Donna, who's been here; they've all been a great help to me in this week that has gone by. I thank you very much for all your assistance and your confidence. Thank you very much.

Hon David Johnson (Chair of the Management Board of Cabinet and Government House Leader): Mr Speaker, might I just say, on behalf, I believe, of everybody in this House, our sincere appreciation to you for your excellent service over this past week, certainly in somewhat difficult circumstances on very short notice. To accept this challenging position is certainly a reflection on yourself and I know that every member would wish to express appreciation for your leadership, your dignity, your grace, your good humour, your natural approach, being attentive. I've noticed how attentive you've been to all the members on both sides of the House as they've spoken and I'm sure that the members appreciate that.

You haven't been too tough on the members, I might say. However, I think the proceedings have improved somewhat under your direction and you did attempt to make some difficult rulings on points of order, as I can recall, and on points of personal privilege.

There's probably great relief here today among many of the candidates for this position that indeed you are stepping down. I've heard a draft Ed movement rumbling through the chamber here, but too late.

Hon Ernie L. Eves (Deputy Premier, Minister of Finance): Never too late, Ed.

Hon David Johnson: Never too late.

I would only say that I'm sure those running for the position, and particularly the successful candidate tomorrow, would be well served having watched you in action over this past week. Thank you very much for your service.

Mr James J. Bradley (St Catharines): On behalf of the official opposition, the Liberal Party, I would like to echo the comments of the government House leader. You were very kind to take this position for that short period of time. I can tell you that there was no question among the three House leaders when your name came forward as a possibility. I know it was a surprise to you. You were approached by the government House leader, but it was with the full concurrence and enthusiasm of the two opposition House leaders.

We appreciate what you have done. It's extremely difficult when all of us sit in the House and think we know the rules, but none of us has to apply them until we're in the chair. I know you were ably assisted by those at the table and others.

We appreciate your wonderful sense of humour in the chair, your humility which you have demonstrated on so many occasions, and we are proud to have had you as our Speaker, even if it was only for a period of a week. We hope that if not a portrait, at least a Polaroid photograph will be placed in the hallways of this Legislature. I certainly would not object to your keeping the robes, if indeed you saw fit to do so.

Mr Bud Wildman (Algoma): On behalf of our caucus, I want to express our thanks as well for your taking the chair in this period over the last week and for the grace with which you've exercised your duties.

As I listened to and participated in the standing ovation, I was trying to analyse what exactly prompted many members of the House to stand and applaud. I'm sure most of us, if not all, were applauding the way you've held yourself, handled your position over the last week. I suspect there were a few who may be candidates for this position who were applauding because you said you weren't going to run again, and I suspect many of them were doing that with some relief, because you have done very, very well.

I was thinking also that if you can get a standing ovation after sitting in this chair for three days, imagine what you might have achieved if you'd be here for three years. The problem is it might have had the exact opposite effect. I know you feel the concern that many who aspire to your office should be thinking about seriously over this evening and tomorrow morning.

I want to again thank you for taking this position. I have some sympathy with those who take interim positions. I have some experience in that regard. I want to compliment you particularly on your genuine interest in the proceedings of the House before you while you were responsible for applying the rules and for your self-deprecating humour, which I think has stood you in good stead as you've dealt with issues you didn't expect to deal with only a few days before. So again thank you on behalf of all members of the House for doing this for the assembly.


The Speaker: I wonder if I can indulge you for one more moment, please, before I recognize my colleague from Hamilton Centre. I would like to correct a mistake I made to ensure that people don't think I'm pulling a doublecross here. I gave the wrong time for my resignation, so I'll correct that as being 12:01 am, October 3. We want to make sure we don't hang on a little longer.

To the new Speaker, I wish Godspeed. Thank you.

The Chair recognizes the member for Hamilton Centre.

Mr David Christopherson (Hamilton Centre): Thank you, Speaker Doyle. I speak on behalf of the citizens of the same community, yours and mine: Hamilton-Wentworth. Much has been said on behalf of all the members here, but I want to tell you on behalf of the close to half a million people who live in the region of Hamilton-Wentworth the great pride you have brought all of us in the short but important time you've sat in that chair. There is great pride.

Whether one is a New Democrat, Tory or Liberal, we have benefited by virtue of your ascension to that position, the job you've done and the grace and humour you've brought to this position. I want it in Hansard and on the record forever that the people of Hamilton-Wentworth, sir, are very proud of the job you have done and look forward to a much longer, distinguished career as you spend your time in politics.

The Speaker: I take it there are no motions, so are there -- oh, there are more people. The Chair recognizes -- I'm sorry, but I believe Mr Bartolucci was first. The Chair recognizes the member for Sudbury.

Mr Rick Bartolucci (Sudbury): That's why I really like him as the Speaker. You have a vision of the back row, and I really appreciate it.

The Speaker: I can hear from back there quite well too.

Mr Bartolucci: Are we in petitions now?

The Speaker: I believe that to be correct.



Mr Rick Bartolucci (Sudbury): This petition is to the Legislative Assembly of Ontario. It is the first of many, I'm sure.

"Whereas the Health Services Restructuring Commission has recommended the closure of two hospitals in Sudbury; and

"Whereas the overall number of available beds will be reduced by approximately 35%; and

"Whereas the reduction in beds will affect Sudbury's ability to remain the referral centre for health care in northeastern Ontario; and

"Whereas there will be a large number of layoffs in the health profession, impacting the quality of local health care and our Sudbury economy; and

"Whereas the global annual budget for Sudbury health care will be reduced by 25%;

"We, the undersigned, petition the Legislative Assembly of Ontario to rescind the Health Services Restructuring Commission's recommendation to close two of Sudbury's hospitals."

I proudly affix my name to this petition. I'm sure it will be one of many about the same item.


Mr David Christopherson (Hamilton Centre): "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 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 continue to support these petitioners by adding my name to theirs.


Mr John R. Baird (Nepean): I'm pleased to have the opportunity to present two petitions from my constituency presented to me by Christopher Snider and Donna Dubreil, which read as follows:

"Whereas bears are hunted in the spring after they have come out of hibernation; and

"Whereas about 30% of the bears killed in the spring are female, some with cubs; and

"Whereas over 70% of the orphaned cubs do not survive the first year; and

"Whereas 95.3% of the bears killed by non-resident hunters and 54% killed by resident hunters are killed over bait; and

"Whereas Ontario still allows the limited use of dogs in bear hunting; and

"Whereas bears are the only large mammals hunted in the spring; and

"Whereas bears are the only mammals that are hunted over bait; and

"Whereas there are only six states in the United States which still allow a spring hunt;

"We, the undersigned, petition the Parliament of Ontario to amend the Game and Fish Act to prohibit the hunting of bears in the spring and to prohibit the use of baiting and dogs in all bear hunting activities."


M. Jean-Marc Lalonde (Prescott et Russell) : J'ai ici une pétition adressée à l'Assemblée législative de l'Ontario :

"Attendu que des soins de garderies de haute qualité contribuent d'une manière significative au développement sain de tous les enfants ;

"Attendu que des recherches ont prouvé que les éducateurs d'enfants qui sont bien rémunérés et qui ont de bonnes conditions de travail fournissent des soins pour enfants de très haute qualité ;

"Attendu que le meilleur système de garderies pour les enfants en est un qui est accessible, abordable et réglementé à l'égard de la qualité ;

"Attendu que les récents compressions de garderies déstabilisent entièrement le système de garderies en Ontario,

"Nous, les soussignés, pétitionnons l'Assemblée législative de l'Ontario comme suit :

"Que tous les financements publics pour les soins de garderies soient remis en place, incluant les contributions, les fonds capitaux et la subvention opérationnelle ;

"Que tous les présents engagements en ce qui a trait à la subvention de salaires, contributions pour l'égalité salariale et toute autre programme de financement et/ou politique qui maintient la stabilisation des soins de haute qualité pour les enfants et les familles de la province de l'Ontario soient maintenus ;

"Que des audiences publiques soient tenues dans le cadre de la revue des services de garderies."

J'y ajoute ma signature.


Ms Shelley Martel (Sudbury East): I have a petition that is addressed to the Legislative Assembly. It reads as follows:

"Whereas the Progressive Conservative government of Ontario has decided to scrap mandatory inquests as a result of fatalities in the mining and construction industry; and

"Whereas this unprecedented and callous decision sets workplace safety back 20 years,

"We, the undersigned, request that the Solicitor General, Bob Runciman, on behalf of all workers in the mining and construction industry, reverse his decision to remove mandatory inquests from the Coroners Act of Ontario."

This petition has been signed by 3,500 workers who live in northeastern Ontario. It was organized by Mr Wayne Fraser, who is the area coordinator for a number of local steel unions right across northeastern Ontario, and I want to thank him for his initiative. I have signed my name to this and I agree with the petitioners entirely.


Mr Toby Barrett (Norfolk): These petitions concerning ammunition regulations, which are supported and are being distributed by the Ontario Federation of Anglers and Hunters, read as follows:

"Whereas the NDP government under former Premier Bob Rae passed legislation, Bill 181, the ammunition control act, placing restrictions on the sale of ammunition in Ontario; and

"Whereas the provisions contained in Bill 181 are time-consuming, onerous and create unnecessary red tape; and

"Whereas the records produced as a result of the provisions of Bill 181 cannot reasonably be used to track criminals and are in many locations across Ontario where such records are kept insecurely stored and thus available for criminal use as a shopping list of homes with firearms; and

"Whereas Bill 181 was passed without any discussion with law-abiding gun owners such as farmers, collectors, hunters and recreational shooters, those who are most affected by the legislation; and

"Whereas Bill 181 will do nothing to combat the illegal use of ammunition,

"We, the undersigned, petition the Legislative Assembly of Ontario to repeal the ammunition control act, protect the rights of responsible firearms owners and work for tougher penalties against those who criminally misuse firearms and ammunition."

I support this petition and therefore affix my signature to it.


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

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

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

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

I have affixed my signature.



Mr Floyd Laughren (Nickel Belt): I have a petition from some of my constituents to the Legislative Assembly.

"We, the undersigned, are residents of Rayside-Balfour. We are concerned with the erosion of health care services in our community. A recent cap on physician billing to OHIP has resulted in the loss of the registered nurse at the Chelmsford Medical Centre. This fact, coupled with the recent loss of a family physician in the town of Chelmsford, will mean that many residents will not be able to see a physician when needed, if at all.

"We understand the difficulties in recruiting new physicians to the town, especially in light of the cutbacks, and therefore suggest that measures be taken by the town or by the province to maintain the services we presently have.

"We hope that arrangements may be made to either except the billing cap in this instance or make provisions to pay for the services of the registered nurse outside of the billing cap.

"Many of the residents of Rayside-Balfour are without medical service and we encourage you not to let the situation get worse."

I have affixed my signature to it.


Mr Michael A. Brown (Algoma-Manitoulin): I have a petition to the Parliament of Ontario.

"Whereas the employers involved in sending out family support plan payments of the garnisheed wages of the payers have 30 days to send those payments to the family support plan offices; and

"Whereas the recipients of those family support plan payments (single mothers and children) face severe financial hardships such as eviction, food bank visitation, medical costs etc during the 30 days waiting for the arrival of those payments;

"I, Jody Wilson, and the undersigned, petition the Parliament of Ontario as follows:

"To reduce the 30-day response time of the employers tending the family support plan payments to three to seven working days from the time the paycheque shows the garnishee of the wages, so that the recipients (women and children) can plan their living expenses on a more appropriate and regular basis and lessen the fear of financial hardship and possibly eliminate crises."

This is signed by a large number of my constituents, mostly from the Elliot Lake area.


Mr Michael Gravelle (Port Arthur): Mr Speaker, as you know, this coming Friday, October 4, the Health Services Restructuring Commission will be coming back to Thunder Bay to render what they're calling their final verdict in terms of the restructuring and the hospital closures in Thunder Bay. All through this summer we've been collecting petitions and letters, and I've got a pile several feet high here, many thousands of petitions. I will just read one of them, if I may.

"To the Legislative Assembly:

"We do not believe you have made the best choice for the health care system in northwestern Ontario. We are deeply concerned with the speed and the amount of bed reductions you have dictated.

"We are also concerned with your intention to close three hospitals out of the five currently operating in Thunder Bay. These hospitals, although seeming to be concentrated, are in fact providing essential regional service. By reducing the total number of beds from 954 to 526, and in the process eliminating psychiatric and chronic care hospitals, the 428-bed reduction will leave the lives of our families, friends and ourselves at risk.

"If it was your intention to act on behalf of the interests of the public, we, as members of that public, ask you to reflect upon your conscience, for you will be ultimately responsible for the error in this decision."

I am proud to sign this petition.


Mr Bruce Crozier (Essex South): I have a petition signed by 573 constituents of Essex South and it's with regard to rent controls in general and those controls that are being lifted with regard to mobile parks specifically. It's addressed to the Legislative Assembly of Ontario.

"Whereas the Mike Harris government has decided to replace the current rent control program, and with their proposed tenant package they are cancelling the Rental Housing Protection Act and are allowing a landlord, once a unit becomes vacant, to negotiate an incoming tenant's rent without regulatory restriction;

"Therefore, be it resolved that we, the undersigned, demand that the Mike Harris government re-examine its proposed abolishment of the rent control program as we do not agree with the changes that the government wishes to make, and that the mobile home owners should have separate consideration."

I support this petition, and in support, I affix my signature to it.


Mr Michael Gravelle (Port Arthur): I'd like to use this opportunity to read another one of the petitions that's come forward throughout the summer regarding the Health Services Restructuring Commission and the decision to close hospitals in Thunder Bay.

"Members of the Legislative Assembly:

"We are writing to voice our strong objections to what you plan to do to health care in Thunder Bay. It is unacceptable to take $40 million a year away from our hospitals and leave us without the services we need. Reinvesting the dollars you save in Thunder Bay somewhere else won't give us access to hospital care at home. Health care is critical to our community. I ask that you reconsider your decision. You must not leave us with so little."



Mr Martiniuk from the standing committee on administration of justice presented the following report and moved its adoption:

Your committee begs to report the following bill as amended:

Bill 75, An Act to regulate alcohol and gaming in the public interest, to fund charities through the responsible management of video lotteries and to amend certain statutes related to liquor and gaming / Projet de loi 75, Loi réglementant les alcools et les jeux dans l'intérêt public, prévoyant le financement des organismes de bienfaisance grâce à la gestion responsable des loteries vidéo et modifiant des lois en ce qui a trait aux alcools et aux jeux.

The Acting Speaker (Mr Gilles E. Morin): Shall the report be received and adopted?

All those in favour will please say "aye."

All those opposed will please say "nay."

In my opinion, the ayes have it.

Shall the motion carry? Carried.

Shall the bill be ordered for third reading? Agreed.

I believe we have also a motion on the part of Mr Laughren from Nickel Belt.


Mr Laughren from the standing committee on government agencies presented the committee's 19th report.

The Acting Speaker (Mr Gilles E. Morin): Do you wish to make a brief statement?

Mr Floyd Laughren (Nickel Belt): This is simply the report of the committee that met this morning dealing with government appointments.

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



Mr Harnick moved first reading of the following bill:

Bill 82, An Act to establish the Family Responsibility Office, protect the interests of children and spouses through the strict enforcement of support orders while offering flexibility to responsible payors and make consequential amendments to certain statutes / Projet de loi 82, Loi créant le Bureau des obligations familiales, visant à protéger les intérêts des enfants et des conjoints grâce à l'exécution rigoureuse des ordonnances alimentaires tout en offrant une certaine souplesse aux payeurs responsables, et apportant des modifications corrélatives à des lois.

The Acting Speaker (Mr Gilles E. Morin): Is it the pleasure of the House that the motion carry? Carried.



Ms Bassett, on behalf of Mr Eves, moved third reading of the following bill:

Bill 70, An Act to provide Co-operative Education and Film Industry Tax Credits, to create Economic Growth, to implement other measures contained in the 1996 Budget and to amend certain Acts administered by the Minister of Finance / Projet de loi 70, Loi créant des crédits d'impôt pour l'éducation coopérative et l'industrie cinématographique, favorisant la croissance économique, mettant en oeuvre d'autres mesures mentionnées dans le budget de 1996 et modifiant des lois dont l'application relève du ministre des Finances.

Ms Isabel Bassett (St Andrew-St Patrick): I am pleased to speak to the third reading of Bill 70. I move it and it's the Tax Credits and Economic Stimulation Act, 1996.

This bill implements key measures of our 1996 budget to restore confidence, create jobs and spur economic growth. Bill 70 has three important goals: It aims to assist employers hiring post-secondary students in co-op education programs, to help out the television and film industry, and to encourage small and medium-sized businesses that need new sources of capital to expand and create jobs.


Our college and university students are the future of this province. We must ensure they have enhanced employment opportunities that allow them to lead productive and independent lives. By combining academic studies and work experience, Ontario's cooperative education programs benefit both students and employers. It gives students real world experience and market-relevant skills. It makes it easier, I feel, for students to make the transition from school to the workplace and it helps students earn money to pay for their own education. It also provides real economic benefits to employers and improved partnerships between businesses and educational institutions.

At present, more than 20,000 students are enrolled in co-op programs in Ontario's colleges and universities. However, there is a shortage of co-op placements and this is why we are creating a cooperative education tax credit. This refundable tax credit will provide employers with a tax credit of up to 10% of the cost of hiring a student in a recognized co-op program.

The credit is capped at a maximum of $1,000 per co-op placement. It will encourage employers to provide more co-op opportunities to meet existing demand. Students will benefit from more placement opportunities. Because of the current difficulty in placing students, universities and colleges have been reluctant to expand their co-op programs. This tax credit will also encourage those universities and colleges to expand such programs.

The tax credit will also encourage private sector employers to play a more active role in Ontario's education system. The skilled graduates of co-op programs make Ontario a more competitive environment and they certainly attract investment to the province.

Bill 70 also assists Ontario's film and television industry. Ontario has become one of North America's major film production centres. Our highly developed film and television industry has an infrastructure that attracts major film and television productions to the province. It provides skilled jobs for many Ontarians and generates in excess of $500 million annually in production activity in this province alone.

However, the industry faces aggressive competition from other jurisdictions. The bill implements our budget commitment to provide a film and tax credit to maintain Ontario's competitive advantage. It will also create more jobs in this highly skilled, knowledge-based sector of Ontario's economy. This refundable film tax credit will equal 15% of eligible labour costs. The tax credit rate will be doubled for first-time filmmakers on the first $240,000 of eligible labour costs. We are giving first-time filmmakers a bigger tax credit because we recognize that the industry's high-risk nature makes this very advantageous. New filmmakers without a track record often face difficulties securing financing.

The tax credit will provide stable and predictable support to the film and television industry. This in turn will assist the industry in planning and developing long-term strategic alliances and securing financing. We are taking this action to ensure that Ontario remains competitive and a major player in the North American film and television production industry.

A large share of Ontario's new jobs come from new and growing businesses. Ontario's private sector created 89,000 new net jobs in the first eight months of 1996. These businesses need sources of capital from investors who believe in their potential and are prepared to maintain their investments until that potential is realized.

Labour-sponsored investment funds were launched to provide capital to small and medium-sized businesses that couldn't raise financing in more traditional ways. The response by individual investors to the labour-sponsored investment funds has been greater than expected. Investors have placed more than $1 billion into these funds and they have kickstarted this important sector of the economy.

This bill will ensure that capital raised by labour-sponsored funds goes to Ontario entrepreneurs that need it. We are targeting small businesses that are not yet big enough to raise capital on the stock market. Bill 70 will also require that 10% of a fund's capital must be invested into small companies with no more than $5 million in assets and no more than 50 employees. Of the capital required to be invested, only 15% will be allowed for investments in public companies. These measures will ensure that more of the money is used for the original purpose of the labour-sponsored funds, which is investing in small business.

There are also concerns about the time it takes for the capital to be invested in business. At present, the rules require that capital be invested within 24 months of a fund's year-end. This lag from the time the labour-sponsored fund receives the money to the time it is invested is too long. The money is not helping Ontario business as quickly as it should. This bill would require that 50% of the money collected by the end of the RRSP season must be invested by December 31 of the same year and 70% must be invested by December 31 of the following year. If these rules are not met, the bill allows for suspending the fund's ability to issue certificates for tax credit. These measures will ensure that labour-sponsored funds make investments in small and medium-sized businesses and that they do it more quickly.

Bill 70 will help create an environment where business can create jobs and opportunities here in Ontario.

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

Mr Bud Wildman (Algoma): I'm confused. The member's colleague the member for Brampton South is quoted in the press as saying that sports organizations, which depend on volunteerism, something I thought this government supported -- at least it says it does -- were welfare bums and needed to be taken off the dole. He hasn't gotten up and said he was misquoted; I hope he was. On the one hand we have the member for Brampton South saying that these volunteer organizations that are so important for providing opportunities and coaching for youth and children in the province are welfare buns and need to be taken off the dole, and now the government is moving forward with a program to provide for tax credits for business. I'm just waiting for the member for Brampton South to get up and say that he's opposed to this because he doesn't think business should be on the dole.

Perhaps the parliamentary assistant who is carrying this bill could explain this apparent contradiction between what she has just said and what her colleague from Brampton South is quoted as saying about another very important activity in this province, particularly as it relates to the youth of Ontario. I'm very cognizant of what a very important role model for youth in the province, Donovan Bailey, has had to say about anticipated cuts to recreation in this province and how he says that if he had faced this when he was just starting out, he might not have achieved what he has for Canada and for himself.

Surely we should be supporting co-op education, we should be supporting our cultural industries, we should be encouraging them, but we also should be encouraging recreation for young people in this province.


Mr James J. Bradley (St Catharines): This is a bill of great importance to members of this House. The problem is that it has aspects of it, as the Speaker should know, that are very detrimental to people. One of the successes we have in this province is the film industry, and one reason it has been successful -- there are a couple of reasons -- is that the dollar has been very favourable. That has encouraged people from the United States, for instance, to come here and be involved in the making of films. You notice that all the time. But for Canadian filmmakers, for our own people, it has been the incentive that has been provided in a financial way by the government of Ontario.

This is a winner. I suspect that some of the members, particularly from Metropolitan Toronto, know this has been a winner and must be very concerned when the government begins to scale back a program of this kind to make it less generous, because the multiplier effect of the expenditures in filmmaking is exceedingly important to everyone in this province.

But, of course, as my colleague the member for Scarborough-Agincourt, the Liberal critic for finance, has said on many occasions, this is all to address the tax cut of 30%, which largely benefits the richest people in this province, the most privileged people in this province. Because of that tax cut, we have had to cut back in other areas that are very productive, that are going to generate funds for this province. I know my colleague will be speaking a little later on and will be discussing this matter at some length, but I think the government is making a major mistake when it becomes less generous in its investment in a field which is a known success internationally. It has helped our artists, it has helped our cultural people and it has been very productive in terms of the funds it generates for the coffers of the province of Ontario.

Mr Gilles Bisson (Cochrane South): I wonder if the member opposite from the government can explain in the time she's going to have afterwards a bit of an explanation as to part of this bill in regard to allowing public money to be deposited in foreign institutions. I note that in the bill under part VI, I believe it is, there is a provision that's going to allow the province of Ontario to take public dollars and deposit those dollars into other foreign banking institutions. I would take it that's for the purposes of borrowing and making payment back. If not, I would like to have some clarification on that, as well as the whole question -- I will try to get into it if I have an opportunity to debate later -- of the privatization of the collections of unpaid debt. I take it the government is, through this bill, moving forward with allowing private collection agencies to try to collect unpaid money to the province of Ontario, and maybe the member opposite could elaborate a bit as to what her thoughts are on that.

The Acting Speaker: The parliamentary assistant, you have two minutes to reply.

Ms Bassett: First of all, I want to thank the honourable members from Algoma and St Catharines for their support of the initiatives we are taking in order to create more jobs in the film industry and to stimulate an industry that has become famous in Ontario and around North America in terms of the expertise of its workforce and the number of jobs it professes to create. I thank them for that.

In terms of the mechanics of this bill, they are in the process of being worked out. I will get back to the honourable member and fill in the details as this moves its way through. This is setting the parameters of what we're going to be doing with the bill. The aim is to create jobs and stimulate business.

The Acting Speaker: Further debate?

Mr Gerry Phillips (Scarborough-Agincourt): I'm pleased to join the debate on Bill 70, which is a government tax bill. Firstly, to put it in some perspective for the public and ourselves, let's recognize the policy of the government: It is to cut the revenue by $5 billion. They've told the province of Ontario that we have an enormous problem with the deficit and I think the people of Ontario accept that. In fact, I think the people of Ontario are prepared to deal with it. We have this huge problem with the deficit, but at the same time the government says we can afford to cut taxes by $5 billion -- by the way, that's almost 10% of our revenue -- and who gets that tax cut but the wealthiest people in this province.

The government is asking people to close hospitals and have larger classes. They're telling the seniors in this province that they must pay a user fee on drugs, something the government said before the election it would not do. Why is that? Why are all these huge cuts taking place? Without question it is to fund the tax cut. If the deficit is such a big problem, and I think most people accept it is a huge problem, how can it be that we can afford a $5-billion tax cut that will give $5,000 more to someone making $150,000 in this province?

If you are a senior with very low income, you're going to have to go out and pay a user fee on your drugs, something the government said it would never do. We are seeing across this province hospital after hospital being closed, driven by a cut of almost 20% by this government in funding for hospitals. We are seeing, without a question of a doubt, in every school board in this province larger classes this September than we saw last year. We saw the family support plan in absolute chaos.


Mr Phillips: I don't know what the member's saying across the way, but he's barracking because they may not like the fact that they campaigned on a platform of saying to the seniors of this province that there would be no user fee on drugs. No user fee, no copayment: That was a solemn promise and you broke that promise. You said to the parents of this province, "We are going to protect classrooms," and across this province, in fact tonight, there will be thousands of parents going to schools, finding out that their children are in substantially larger classrooms than they were in a year ago. Why? Because this government has chosen to cut support for public education, for our elementary and secondary schools. You said you were going to cut your support by a 25% cut in our education support. We found that the family support program was in chaos.

The reason I raise all this is that this is a bill that is part of this government's fiscal plan. I will say to the public that for the first year and a half of the Mike Harris government Ontario was prepared to give them the benefit of the doubt. They won the election; they had a majority. Ontario wanted change. Now we are seeing the cold, hard face of that change. I would say to the people of Ontario it's time now to let Mike Harris know what you think of that change. Believe me, Mike Harris is not listening to the opposition. He says he won the election, he will do what he wants. I would just say to the people of Ontario that it's time to let your voices be heard.

We're dealing with this particular bill and I would say it highlights three or four significant concerns about this government. I will take the ones the previous member mentioned. One is on the film industry. Here is an industry that has truly grown dramatically in Ontario. Yes, it causes the odd problem with traffic in Toronto, but I am glad to see that traffic problem because I see a terrific industry that is here because we've got a lot of talented people, we have a lot of support here in Ontario for it but we also have a program designed to attract and encourage that. This program, let's acknowledge it, puts at risk that entire program. It cuts it by a third; it cuts support for the film industry by a third and, I say to the government, that's a risk. You are putting at risk a terrific growth industry, one of our best growth industries.


I also highlight that this is a government that has said it is going to cut its support for business. I would say that's risky. The government said in its budget document, "In my opinion, most business subsidies don't create lasting jobs." That's a high-risk strategy.

I went to listen the other day to the governor of Pennsylvania, who was in town, a very persuasive individual. We should be aware that we are without doubt competing with all those jurisdictions. Pennsylvania is ready to compete. Pennsylvania has an opportunity fund, a job-creating tax credit. These neighbouring jurisdictions are competing aggressively for jobs. If you talk to the auto sector you will find that one of the reasons we have a strong, growing auto sector in Ontario is because successive Ontario governments have worked cooperatively with them to get them to locate and expand their plants here; not throwing money away, but government programs designed to ensure that our Ontario industry was able to compete with other jurisdictions and where we invested money wisely. You can bet that our neighbouring jurisdictions are going to compete very aggressively for jobs in Ontario, and the government is putting, I say, at risk much of our future economic wellbeing by blindly saying, "We're going to cut this off."

I've now seen enough examples of mismanagement by this government that I think it's fair to raise a real flag. If I were in the back bench of this government I would be saying: "Look, wait a minute. These are Republican governments -- Pennsylvania is Republican, Michigan is Republican -- that offer good investment programs to get business to expand or locate in their jurisdictions."

My first concern with Bill 70 is that in the film area we are tinkering with one of the real success stories in Ontario, the film industry. We're cutting by a third; we've cut it by a third of its previous level, and that's a risk. I say to the government that if we find two and three years down the road that this industry has dried up, and believe me, it's an extremely competitive one, you'll be responsible.

I comment in the same section on the cooperative education program. Probably all of us in the House are enthusiastic about cooperative education; there's no question of that. All of us have seen in varying degrees the success of the co-op program. The University of Waterloo has probably been a leader in North America in the program.

I'm not sure this program is well designed or well thought out. It was perhaps slapped into the budget at the last minute because the government realized it had virtually nothing to say about youth and youth employment. The problem with this program is that by the government's own admission it plans for about 15,000 cooperative students to participate in the plan. There are right now 20,000 young people participating in the co-op plan. My feeling is that we will see, by and large, no increase in the number of cooperative students and we will find that 15,000 of the current placements will take advantage of the tax credit program. There is nothing in the way this program is designed to substantially increase the numbers. It essentially runs the risk of providing a $1,000 tax credit for people who already have the program. There's nothing in this program that ensures that we will see incremental cooperative placements.

A $15-million subsidy to those who are already in the program is a reward for those who have participated, but in terms of young people looking for cooperative placements, it's not in this program. By the way, because the member who introduced the bill talked about employment and the need for jobs, I say to all of us that if we think the employment problem in Ontario is being solved and we simply say, "We need to think no more about it; it's going to solve itself," we are wrong. We have a job crisis. We have a structural number of unemployed in Ontario and we have a serious, long-term problem, and I know the government of the day will say, because it's in their interests: "Don't worry about it. It's all going to go away. We're going to solve it." But it won't and it isn't.

August was a good job creation month. I accept that. I said that publicly. But it does not begin to solve the significant structural problem. I'll just go over it, because I can guarantee that a year from now we will be having a major debate around jobs in Ontario. In the 1960s the unemployment rate in Ontario was 3.5%, in the 1970s it was 5.5%, in the 1980s it was 7.5% and in the 1990s -- these are the government's own numbers -- it's going to be 9%. The government itself says that in 1999 -- actually in 1998, because that's as far as you go -- there will be 16,000 more people out of work in Ontario than there were in 1995. That's straight out of the budget. Those aren't opposition figures; those are figures you published in the budget.

Mr Garry J. Guzzo (Ottawa-Rideau): What's Paul Martin saying?

Mr Phillips: Mr Guzzo is barking over there, "What's this, what's that?" You came here; you decided to run for the Ontario Legislature. Get over here and do some work, Mr Guzzo. If you want to bark at the federal government, go on and bark at them, but why don't you run federally? We are elected here to deal with Ontario problems and that's why I'm here. Perhaps you could devote a little bit of your time and attention to that rather than barking at the federal government.

I say to you that your own budget says, Mr Guzzo, more people out of work in 1998. What do you say about that? Do you say that's acceptable? Do you like that? Do you find that's good enough?

The Deputy Speaker (Mr Bert Johnson): Order. I would ask that you refrain from making comments directly to the speaker. I would ask the speaker to direct his comments through the Chair, if you would.

Mr Phillips: Thank you, Mr Speaker. Do you find it acceptable that one of your members finds it acceptable that in 1998 there will be 16,000 more people out of work in Ontario than in 1995? I don't, and I would say to all of us that if we simply say, "The problem is going to go away," we are making a huge mistake. We have a structural problem that I went over. Every decade unemployment rates have gone up. It used to be 3.5% in the 1960s, 5.5% in the 1970s, 7.5%, and now the government is predicting 9% unemployment. I add, you will see all the major economists of the bank saying that yes, the unemployment rate among our young people is reported somewhere around 15% but the real unemployment rate -- this is not me speaking; this is Warren Jestin, the chief economist at the Bank of Nova Scotia -- among young people is closer to 30%. The reason I raise that is because in this document this was one of the big programs for young people -- cooperative education. It is a program that will reward businesses with $1,000 a year, but the government itself says 15,000 of these will be placed. There are 20,000 people in co-op right now. My fear is that we will see no more young people in cooperative education but will simply see $15 million used to support 15,000 young people already in the co-op program.


I wanted to go over those numbers because there can be a tendency to think that our unemployment problem is simply going to go away, and it won't. The sooner we as a Legislature turn our attention to looking at some creative solutions for this, the better.

I also wanted to talk a little about another aspect of the bill -- the amendment to the Employer Health Tax Act. I did find this mildly curious, because the very first thing this bill does is to increase taxes on business. That's the very first thing this bill does. It eliminates the one-year tax holiday on increases in payroll. In other words, the previous government, the NDP government, introduced a proposal that if you hired someone you did not pay the payroll tax, the employer health tax, on their first year of employment. That was a program that was widely applauded. It was one that encouraged businesses -- not in a huge way, but it encouraged businesses -- to hire people, and it was a program that the government of the day felt would provide about a $295-million benefit to small business; $295 million was the benefit to business of this tax holiday.

Now, the very first thing this bill does is increase taxes on business by $295 million. It seems odd that the first thing this bill does is to increase taxes by $295 million. It's the most direct tax on new hires. That's the first thing it does. I thought the government would fully introduce the elimination of the employer health tax on the first $400,000 of payroll, because you'll remember, Mr Speaker -- I know you have your non-partisan hat on right now -- when you were running in the campaign with your partisan hat on this was the document. You promised that you would eliminate the payroll tax on the first $400,000 of payroll. As a matter of fact, it was going to be instant -- get rid of the employer health tax on the first $400,000 of payroll. But I was very surprised when the budget came out that the government had decided that it was going to do it a little differently. It wasn't going to do it immediately. It was going to do 50% of it in 1997 and then the next 25% in 1998 and the final 25% in 1999.

The reason I go through all this is that the government that got elected on the basis of cutting taxes for business is increasing taxes for business. You're going to find in 1997 that you have increased taxes on business, because you've completely cut out the holiday for new hires -- and that's a $295-million increase in taxes -- and you have provided a partial offset on the elimination of the employer health tax on the first $200,000 of payroll.

When you go back to your chamber of commerce, you are going to have to answer the question: "Wait a minute. I thought you people were going to cut taxes on business and I see you've actually increased the tax on business." I found that somewhat inconsistent.

Another part of the bill I want to comment on: The labour-sponsored venture capital corporations have proven to be a useful tool and have provided a pool of capital for small business. However, the tax credits have been seen to be large. The federal government has reduced its tax credit and the provincial government is providing a corresponding decrease in the tax credits. That's probably a reasonable idea.

The changes that are being made in the Financial Administration Act: It is interesting to me to look at some of the fairly broad powers we're now giving to the minister. For example, "Where the provincial minister suspects that a taxpayer has left or is about to leave Ontario or Canada, the provincial minister may...by notice served personally or by registered letter..." etc. It does give some very broad, sweeping powers to a minister. It will be interesting over time to monitor the powers that are being given to the minister under this act.

The major part of this bill that I think the public should be focused on is, first, that the government recognizes that it sounds good out there to say, "We are going to cut support for business." The fact is that because the film industry is a classic case of a large, growing industry where we are competitive within at least North America, where we have been able to attract a huge industry here and a lot of talent, the government finally recognizes, "Maybe some of these supports for our growing industries are not such a bad idea after all." That's a tough thing for you to admit, and I think the way you're doing it actually puts at risk our film industry. You are cutting the support from roughly $15 million previously to $5 million. I will just say that if in the end we find we lose a huge industry because of that, the government will have made a very bad investment.

But the bigger point is that we are putting at risk some of our future industries by cutting some of the legitimate supports for our business community. I was in a major industry in Scarborough the other day, a plant that manufactures packaging. It has grown dramatically over the last few years, if I remember the numbers properly, from 100 employees to 400 employees; 80% or 85% of their shipments go outside of Ontario. They are now doing business not just in the US but in the Pacific Rim. They have a program there of training that is allowing them to become truly competitive globally, and for a modest amount of money by the federal government and the provincial government and obviously the company chipping in. That is one of the cornerstones. The organization is Shorewood Packaging, a really fine operation.

But the government has said, "We're going to cut our support for those programs." We are putting it at risk, because this plant competes with all sorts of other plants around North America from the same company. It competes for business. They've got several plants. One of the reasons it's been successful is because it has a very well-trained, qualified workforce, but this blind commitment to cut regardless of the consequences is putting at risk that very program.


I think that in a year or a year and a half from now we are going to find some of our neighbouring communities, our neighbouring provinces and states doing a much better job of attracting and building industry than we are, because we have chosen to ignore some of the opportunity for some sensible investments.

It was an eye-opener for me to listen to the Governor of Pennsylvania. I thought he might very well say, "We certainly don't provide any government support," but they do for training, they do for a job creation tax credit, and these are things I'm afraid may encourage businesses to either locate there or expand there and not come to Ontario.

I'm very concerned about the cooperative education tax credit because I don't see anything in here that will encourage additional placements. I'm afraid that as the program is structured, it essentially will provide a tax benefit for those who perhaps have already been offering programs, but I see little that's designed to get lots of new co-op students in placement.

As I said earlier, I am interested to see in explanatory note (a) to part I, the very first thing, "to terminate the one-year tax holiday on increases in payroll effective at the end of 1996." What that means is that the one-year holiday from paying the employer health tax when you hire someone is gone. The government will save $295 million. They will take taxes by that amount and they will offset it only partially with the rest of the employer health tax proposals.

All of this is being driven by a fiscal plan that I think is wrong. People say, "What should they do?" The deficit is a problem and it must be solved, but if it is such a problem, the people of Ontario have a legitimate right to say, "How can we at the same time afford a huge tax cut?" a tax cut where the more you make, the bigger the tax cut.

As I travel across Ontario, people are beginning, as I said earlier, to find that their hospitals are closing, that the seniors are now paying substantial user fees on drugs, that without exception classrooms are larger in September 1996 than they were in September 1995. Why is all this happening? It is because the government has to find $5 billion to fund the tax cut.

Yes, people say, "I kind of like a tax cut," but what's the cost of it? The cost is that every penny of that tax is borrowed money. If you look at the budget, as I know you have, Mr Speaker, the budget shows that over the next four years in Ontario the debt will go up by $22 billion; $22 billion in the next four years is the increase in the debt. What it means is every penny of that tax cut is borrowed money. By the way, the interest just on that increased debt over the next four years is $5 billion.

I raise that because this is a tax bill that is part of the government's fiscal plan.

The other thing I'd like to emphasize and then close on is the issue of employment, because in my opinion it is a problem that is not going away. We will get some temporary blips up, but we have a significant long-term structural problem that even the government acknowledges. In 1998 we will have 517,000 people out of work in Ontario and in 1995 we had 501,000 out of work in Ontario. The unemployment rate will continue to be at 9% and we will have continued that very tragic trend of each decade the Ontario unemployment rate rising higher.

What we've got here are several modest proposals in this tax bill, two or three of which we have significant concerns about. The film tax credit, we are concerned that it is replacing a proven program and putting at risk an industry that has been a proven job creator in the province.

We are missing an opportunity with the cooperative education program to find ways that we can get substantial numbers of new young people on the program.

If I were in the government I would be asking the question of the government, why is it that we're taking the tax up on business in 1997 when we said we would be taking the tax down on business? Why is that?

So I would conclude by once again saying that we have major reservations about the government's fiscal plan. We think it's a mistake. This particular bill provides little in the way of hope and optimism for the people of Ontario who are really worried about jobs and job opportunities, particularly for young people.

The Deputy Speaker: Questions and comments? Further debate?

Mr Gilles Pouliot (Lake Nipigon): I welcome the opportunity to speak on the budget bill. It's the first time in my newly assigned role. The party has decreed that I shall be finance critic, so I did listen intently to someone who over the years has achieved credibility and the admiration and respect from all sides of the House, so little wonder, at the offset, that I share in his sentiment and I too question the substance, the results of what is being presented to us, which is the third reading of Bill 70, An Act to provide Co-operative Education and Film Industry Tax Credits, to create Economic Growth, to implement other measures contained in the 1996 Budget and to amend certain Acts administered by the Minister of Finance. So it's one hand that gives to people who make films, to the film industry. The same hand gives an incentive to people to create jobs, cooperative education.

The fact is that during the last campaign, those 40, 41 days immediately preceding June 8, 1995, when 130 members of the government, with a great deal of zeal, were going door to door and peddling the manifesto, the document referred to as the Common Sense Revolution -- I have with me a copy and it's the seventh printing, over two million copies distributed. On page 13 of this manifesto, this political Koran, this political bible of the government, it says, "Cut Government Grants and Subsidies. We" -- meaning the Conservatives -- "will cut business subsidies and reduce government grants for total savings of $200 million."

We're not talking about a grant -- they're right -- because with the help of the electorate when we changed the government, Dr Grant passed away; Dr Grant died. Dr Loan had his licence revoked. So now we have a substitute. You don't get a grant, you don't get a loan, but you get a tax break. You're not fooling anyone here; the bottom line is the same. This, from a government that tells us that it will cut government grants and subsidies. Plus ça change, plus c'est la même chose. It never stops to amaze one.


When you read the Common Sense Revolution, you shouldn't be shocked, appalled or surprised that the printed word 15 months after the election was held is somewhat different than the reality of the day. Share with me page 18 of the same document, "A Balanced Budget Plan," and I quote the Common Sense Revolution, "This plan will balance the Ontario budget within our first mandate," within five years. Keep in mind they were elected in 1995, on June 8. In the last budget, the Minister of Finance adds another year as a matter of convenience. In other words, he's saying to the people of Ontario: "I can't balance the books. What I've said in the Common Sense Revolution, well, you give me one more year."

Generally, they would like us to believe that if you're a Conservative you can manage because you understand how business works, that you know of intrinsic value, that you go to bed at night and you have The Warren Buffett Way, that those people know all the jargon. But they don't. This is a government that does not have a plan of attack past two years, by their own admission. This is a government that will have the province of Ontario in the poorhouse in a very short time if we don't collectively beyond the capacity of political parties, if Ontarians don't force them to put the brakes on.

This is Ontario's projected debt -- the big provincial credit card; charge it -- $102 billion; by fiscal year 2000-01, and that's treasury's figure, not mine, they're the one saying this, $117.5 billion. Spend, spend and spend again, which contradicts the Common Sense Revolution, which is pretty bad business.

The parliamentary assistant, the most distinguished member for St Patrick-St Andrew, tells us about venture capital. Madam, would you invest your hard-earned money in some of those venture capital? Would you have your seatmate, the member for Lambton, M. Beaubien -- would you counsel? Is there enough time for due diligence when you say that you can contribute until the end of the RRSP season, which my notes indicate ends in February of each year? Where's the consistency when you must be fully invested by the end of the calendar year, which is by December 31?

You will recall perhaps vividly a federal scheme that provided an incentive seldom achieved before, that of flow-through shares. Flow-through shares were to permit the mining industry to find mines and of course put them into production. The reason why flow-through shares were very popular was because of the tax incentive. The feds are tightening up. The province has indicated that it will follow suit. This isn't General Motors, this isn't the cash flow, this isn't your ability to have capital allocation, this is not positive intrinsic value; this is very market-driven.

You will pay for the promotion. You'll have to go and knock on promoters and brokers and the law. They won't come knocking on your door. You will pay the premium dollar because you're floating venture capital. You'll go the route of the junk bonds -- the title says it all -- unless you can provide good incentives, because you don't have time for due diligence. You have little cash flow, if any. The track record is almost non-existent. You need not factor in those fundamentals. So you balance it by incentives. As those incentives are being removed, you will have fewer people come to the marketplace to play. It's a feeble attempt to create jobs.

These people are on the hook. No rhyme or reason, no database, 725,000 jobs. What is your rationale? They could have said 800,000 or 400,000. Now, by all accounts, we know that the creation of 725,000 jobs will be one of their Achilles heels, the glass jaw in their economic argument. It's not going to happen. But we shouldn't be too harsh, we shouldn't point fingers at the government, because why should government take credit when you have a recovery? For to do so would entail, consistency would demand, that you also take the blame, take the hit when you have a correction or when you have a recession. You wouldn't wish to do that, but suffice it that 725,000 jobs has no chance of being achieved within your term of office -- a contradiction to your Common Sense Revolution.

Add to it the convenience of adding a year to balance the books, which you're not about to do. You won't balance the books. By the end of the term, the minimum debt will, all Ontarians, total $117.5 billion, spread all over the globe. There was a time when one talked about borrowing in the future, where Ontarians were more than able to shoulder the debt. They would buy those debentures. They would buy those obligations, those bonds. No longer.

The 1995-96 financing program, from the United States, 27.6%. Can't borrow at home, we have to see our neighbours to the south to give us a hand, "Will you please?" and you pay a premium. You're also vulnerable to the fluctuation in currency. Then you go to the Eurobonds, you go and tap the European market, 5.7%; private placement -- "Harry, help me" -- 9.7%; Japanese retail, 10.6%. I wonder how many times a day should we spend because, if we're interested, by the time we go to bed those markets have opened. I mean, you need some sleep, putting in long hours as an MPP. But it never ends. So tomorrow morning in my new capacity I'll have to open the television and say, preferably on my knees, praying that the Nikkei market, the Hong Kong market and then the London market will have opened -- amen -- and on and on, because we are vulnerable. We no longer can suffice our debt. We need more credit cards.


This is a government that will do better? Do you really believe this? This is what some of the critics are saying -- not New Democrats, no, no, no. Those women, those men working very hard for a living don't tread the same circles as the Fraser Institute. The Fraser Institute was not behind the October 17 revolution, not at all. This is what they say: "Survey Finds Pessimism Over Deficit: Ontario Unlikely to Reach Target by 2000." Seventy-two percent of the fund managers, the financiers, are saying, almost three quarters of them, "You're not going to do it."

The government of Ontario has promised to balance its budget by the year 1999-2000. Oh, its actual target is 2000-2001. I see. His Progressive Conservative Party -- they're talking about yourself, about you -- had promised during the 1995 election campaign to wipe out the deficit by 1999-2000. But in his economic statement 10 months ago, Mr Eves extended the target date by one year. I guess he's not going to make it. I wouldn't put my money. He's managing my tax dollars. That scares me a little bit. This government has acquiesced, says that upon leaving office -- it's not too soon -- it will leave with it a debt of nearly $120 billion. That's the minimum. It cannot balance the books.

Where does the government take its money? Personal income tax: $15.4 billion. The total revenue is $47 billion; $15 billion comes from the personal income tax. Retail sales tax: $9 billion. But what this government is saying -- it's very simple; we'll do it together. Fifteen billion dollars is what they take from the PIT, the provincial income tax, but they're going to cut that by 30%. So it's $5 billion approximately, grosso modo, a year. It has a deficit of $8 billion. So it goes up to $13 billion -- eight plus five, no problem. We have a Treasurer who understands these things. A psychotic is someone who assumes that two and two make five. But the Treasurer knows that two and two make four. But he's a neurotic; he doesn't like it at all, because now he has to add another $5 billion. So that's $13 billion. They've already cut $8 billion. That's what they claim. They won't say "$8 billion." They're lucky if they get $6 billion. But assuming that they would be fortunate, that they would be right in this instance and they could generate in savings $8 billion, experts are saying you'll have to find another $2 billion.

My question is this: Where else are you going to cut? This will impact your revenue, of course. Are you going to ask teachers to take on more students so there will end up 45 or 50 to a classroom? You've said you wouldn't impact on the classroom. Nobody believes you. People are getting your kind of payola, gratuity. It's the pink slip out the door. More students coming in -- look at the demographics -- and fewer teachers, so larger classrooms, of course.

Hospitals are being closed. The government says, "We're not going to cut health care." You're cutting two out of three hospitals in Sudbury. Thunder Bay, the announcement will be made tomorrow: care workers, providers, people who do it full-time for a wage, are being reduced by the thousands, and more and more people need the service. So that's the rationale -- fear, anxiety. When we're talking about health, it leads to fear. There's where the money is. You're spending $18 billion; $14 billion on education. So if you want to enact savings and you're caught, no escape: You have to go right to the heart of those ministries. This will spell the downfall of the government, health more so than education. You scare people. "We're all on a waiting list." "My children were born here." "You're shutting the hospital." "My husband passed away here." "There is a tradition." "My aunt is in the corridor because she can't get into the ward." And on and on. Those people will attack the sacred trust in our society, that of our cherished health care system, and they will be found fighting on so many fronts because they're taking $5 billion and giving it -- they call it a tax break. They say, "You'll have a few dollars more in your pocket," and yet they turn around and cut transfer payments to municipalities, so your municipal taxes are going to go up. They have the power to levy.

When the sons and daughters take part in recreational activities, they're going to pay more. When they go to post-secondary school and enter university, they're going to pay more. So levy and taxes, there'll be more money coming out of their pockets.

They'll say to the township of Manitouwadge: "You're a small village, a small community. You now enjoy the protection and the service of the Ontario Provincial Police. Now you're going to pay." So you'll have $200 to $400 more. No wonder people can't sleep at night because they're anxious. They don't know, but they know that it does not add up. They want to believe we have a government that will do what it said. I'm afraid of people who don't change their minds to suit some circumstances.

While the population appreciates a political entity, a government, a regime, that delivers or comes close, the same people will not appreciate extreme zeal to the detriment of their welfare. It will be more difficult in the second year, because it's coming home now, the sort of black magic of compounding transfers to municipalities, schools, hospitals. All the subject matters, our daily lives, are being impacted because of the commitment they made to give more money to Conrad Black, God bless him, to Frank Stronach -- him too -- and the people who need it the least, to the detriment of the middle class, which pays for all this and now sees itself under a state of siege. The numbers are getting smaller. The winner-take-all group and friends of friends are allowed to leave the field behind.


We have a great deal of difficulty. This government has had no program the past two years. It governs by the seat of its pants. They are putting the province further and further in the hole -- $117 billion at the end of their term, which will not come soon enough.

Vous m'avez donné l'opportunité ; je vous en remercie aussi. Vous savez, c'est la première fois que j'ai l'opportunité de m'adresser en tant que critique des finances pour le Nouveau Parti démocratique.

Vous savez que quelqu'un pourrait continuer ad vitam aeternam, tard dans la soirée, tôt dans la nuit. J'ai choisi en ce moment d'émettre quelques mises en garde, de dire au gouvernement, «Monsieur le Gouvernement, attention. Arrêtez de faire mal aux gens, aux esseulés, aux pauvres, aux moins bien nantis, à ceux qui en ont moins, aux vulnérables, aux viellards, aux enfants, qu'il faut gouverner à coup de dimension humaine. N'oubliez pas Ontario, les Ontariens qui continuent à oeuvrer pour le bénéfice de la province entière.» Ce sont ces gens que le gouvernement a choisi de cibler, autant à l'échelle de la santé qu'à l'échelle de l'éducation. On est allé chercher les deniers publics à travers les programmes sociaux.

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

Mr Bisson: I just want to take this opportunity to comment on our finance critic's comments today on the budget. The point he makes is a good one, the question about who benefits in the equation of this government and who does not benefit according to what this government is doing. If you take a look at the various initiatives this government has gone forward with, by and large, without trying to be too partisan, they're fairly pro-business, fairly pro-big-business. Those people who find themselves on the other side of that equation find themselves on the losing side.

As we go through the debates of this House and look at this legislation which the government brings forward and various pieces of legislation here on in, I think we will recognize that is a recurring theme through all of this. This government has clearly chosen sides. The government has said the be-all and end-all of everything that happens in the Legislature of Ontario should be based on what is good for the corporate citizens of this province and not necessarily what's good for the people.

I would just remind the government members through this debate that government is not about serving the interests of one's only masters, the corporate citizens. Yes, they have rights, and yes, they have the right to be able to make a profit in this great province, and yes, they have a say in what happens in policy, but not at the expense of other people in our economy, not at the expense of the hardworking men and women of this province who work hard every day, who try to make an honest day's living, who look at what this government is doing and, in the end, who wonder where they figure in it.

The government member said, "We're sitting at 48% or 52% in the polls." Listen, I was a member of a government that after a year was at over 60% in the polls. We shouldn't sit back and look at polls and say, "I should feel real comfortable about that," because I can tell you, there is a groundswell of feeling out there, not only in northern Ontario but other parts of this province, where people who may even be supporters of this Conservative government truly are concerned about some of the directions this government is taking and are wondering where they will fit in all of this at the end. They hope that in the end it will benefit them, but in the long run I think not. This government should get back to the agenda it was elected to do, and that is government for the people.

The Acting Speaker: Further questions or comments? Mr Pouliot, you have two minutes to wind up.


The Acting Speaker: All right, further debate.

Mr Tony Clement (Brampton South): As parliamentary assistant to the Minister of Citizenship, Culture and Recreation, the Honourable Marilyn Mushinski, it is my privilege to stand in the House today and speak on the economic and cultural benefits the Ontario film and television tax credit will bring to our province.

Over a year ago, like many Ontarians, I went to the Toronto International Film Festival to experience the finest films from around the world. I went for the first time as parliamentary assistant, and as I made the rounds I gained a new appreciation for the excellence and vitality of our own homegrown film and television industry.

Talking with producers, actors and other industry representatives, I also learned something of the challenges of production, the high risks involved, the difficulty in establishing and securing stable financing, the intense competition from other provinces and countries. It is no longer a case of your simply --

Mr Chris Stockwell (Etobicoke West): On a point of order, Madam Speaker: Taking some time to review the standing orders earlier today in preparation for another job I was looking for --

Interjection: Could you describe that? A job description, please?

The Acting Speaker: Please continue with your point of order.

Mr Stockwell: I'm doing my best. I've been so rudely interrupted by my own caucus.

It says in standing order 86(a), "Every estate bill or part of a bill that contains an estate bill provision stands referred to the Commissioners of Estate Bills after first reading." I think we should be cognizant of that.

The Acting Speaker: Thank you for your point of order. It is not a point of order, nothing to do with this debate whatsoever, but thank you for raising it. The member can continue.

Mr Clement: I would like to thank the honourable member for Etobicoke West for his very timely and cogent point of order on that.

The point I was trying to make was that not only are we competing with what would be considered the centres of film in North America, such as Los Angeles and New York, but we're also competing with places like Vancouver, British Columbia, where in fact they share the same time zone as Los Angeles. They have a diversity of not only climate but also topography, with mountains and oceans as well as an urban landscape. So we are competing with our brethren in other provinces as well.

Here is an industry that has the potential to prosper and grow within the new Ontario. It is an entrepreneurial industry, an innovative industry, and it's cutting edge. It's internationally recognized for its high professional standards and it wasn't looking for government handouts. No, it was looking for incentives to encourage private sector financing.

I resolved that I would do my part to help to promote the creation of the fiscal environment and I'm pleased to support this bill because it not only does that; it rewards success, it rewards the companies that will add the jobs that will pay the taxes, that will hire the high-end people who will do the jobs in Ontario. That is why I support this bill at this time.

The Acting Speaker: Questions or comments? Further debate?

Mr Bradley: I'd like the opportunity to discuss some aspects of this bill on third reading and matters that are related to the bill. First of all, as I mentioned in a short intervention previously, we're in a circumstance where we have an extremely successful film industry, and I want to give credit to the people who've been involved in it in Ontario over the years. But one of the reasons it's been able to be successful is because of the generous support which has been forthcoming from government.


I heard somebody say earlier today that Premier Harris in one incarnation or another had referred to these people as welfare recipients or something to that effect. I hope that wasn't the case -- I heard another speaker talk about that -- because this is a good investment. This government would have among its members many who would consider themselves to be good investors and this indeed is a good opportunity for the government to invest and to improve upon the tax credit. I understand the tax credit circumstance is not enhanced by this bill. It may be a bit more detrimental as a result of this bill. Again, a good program, in my view, appropriately used.

The reason we're seeing some of this activity is because the government is trying to find any way it can to either save money or generate new funds as a result of the tax cut. That is the cut that was announced, which is 30%, the most generous portion going to the richest people in our society, and as a result the government is making far deeper cuts than I think anybody had anticipated to try to meet its deficit targets.

We're pleased that the economy in Canada and in the United States has combined to ensure that we have somewhere close to our deficit target met this year. Those of us in the opposition you may think hope that this is not the case. In fact, we hope it is. We hope we exceed some of those expectations which have been expressed because it's good for the people of the province as a whole.

I saw another matter that I raised in the House today that is a direct result, as I see some of this legislation, of the tax cut, and that is the government moving in a massive way to put video lottery terminals, or as I would call them, electronic slot machines, in every bar and restaurant in Ontario. Some of the old Conservatives from years gone by, if they are deceased, would be rolling over in their graves, and if they're still alive, would be expressing great concerns about this major departure in policy for a Progressive Conservative government, and I think with a good deal of justification.

I suspect, however, that the government didn't want to do this, but found out when it did its calculations that the lost revenue from the tax cut was so great that the government was going to have to embark upon yet another gambling venture, this being video lottery terminals, the most insidious, the most alluring, the most seductive form of gambling we have, and it'll prey upon the most vulnerable in our society, the most desperate, those who don't have the in with others to get the better jobs or may not have had the opportunity to gain the education and training that more privileged people in our society have. They often will be the people playing the video lottery terminals, as well as those who are addicted to gambling.

We have a circumstance in all of our communities -- I can see in this bill that they're trying to trim again -- where there's a threat of hospitals being closed. Certainly we in the Niagara region, and I can speak for the provincial constituency of St Catharines and the city of St Catharines, are trembling at the thought that the Shaver Hospital, the general hospital or the Hotel Dieu Hospital could be closed.

I'm sure the member for Niagara South is worried about the Fort Erie and Port Colborne hospitals which have provided good service to the citizens of that area over the years, that someone may be swinging an axe at one of those. The member for St Catharines-Brock and Niagara-on-the-Lake will be worried, and the member for Lincoln if the West Lincoln Memorial Hospital -- all of these are under the potential axe of the provincial government, and the reason they're under the axe is because this government is bound and determined it must proceed with its 30% tax cut which is going to cost it so much in revenue that it's going to have to find that revenue in the form of cuts; in other words, to balance that budget or to come closer to balancing the budget.

That's most unfortunate because many people have contributed so much over the years to the hospitals in their community through donations of funds or donations of time, effort and energy and they will feel betrayed, as I know the people of Thunder Bay and the people of Sudbury have felt betrayed, and the people of Wiarton at the thought and the people now of Kitchener at the thought of various hospitals being closed.

In education, despite the assurances from the Premier, from the Minister of Education and from Conservative candidates across the province that the classroom would not be affected, the classroom is in fact being affected. We have more students in the classroom now. We have fewer services being available to students who require special services from the board of education. They are students often who were institutionalized previously or at least kept home and not allowed into the so-called normal classroom stream.

These students have been encouraged now to be part of that mainstream and that is in so many cases a very positive aspect of our society, but those services are being removed and as a result it causes increased tension and difficulty within the classroom as the needs of that individual child must be met as well as the needs of many others in the classroom.

As teachers are being fired across the province, I heard some say, "Well, you know, we thought" -- I was talking to a teacher at a baseball game in St Catharines who said, "You know, I voted for Mike Harris because I was in favour of cuts," and I said: "Well, you got cuts. There's not much I can do about that." He did cut, but this person didn't know that he was going to be cut. But you see, when you start cutting administration, you bump down the line and those who were the consultants that people railed on against for years are back in the classroom. So who got bumped? The other people got bumped. Who ultimately suffers from this? The students in the classrooms of our province. We're seeing this happening in place after place.

My good friend, Roger Ellen, who was I think the campaign manager for the member for Lincoln, must be recoiling at some of the cuts and some of the moves being undertaken by the Minister of Education as they affect the classroom because I always admired him and his commitment -- that is, Mr Ellen's commitment -- to education in our province.

We have sports organizations. The Ministry of Culture is involved in this bill. I have raised in this House the issue of sports organizations and how they have been tarnished by some of the comments by the parliamentary assistant to the Minister of Citizenship, Culture and Recreation. He referred to them as welfare cases that had to be taken off the dole. Of course, the member for Etobicoke-Lakeshore, who knows sports, who has been involved in sports, had some interesting quotes about that, saying that the minister was simply there to preside over the destruction of these organizations or the disassembling of them, and he had less complimentary remarks to make about the parliamentary assistant.

But again, we're seeing these cuts. Why are we seeing them? Because this government's worshipping at the idol of a tax cut. It's very popular. I know when you ask anybody, would you like a tax cut, they say yes. If you say would you like your sports organizations to be disassembled, would you like your hospitals to close, would you like more students in the classroom, they say none to any of those.

In this specific bill, I must say, I'm glad that the government is retaining at least part of its support for the film industry. The reason I say that is the more the film industry is successful, the more taxes they're going to pay, the more economic activity they're going to generate. The government wins, the people of this province win, the industry wins, our people in the cultural community are enhanced in their reputations, and I'm extremely pleased about that.

But I know the sports organizations are waiting in trepidation for the announcement on Friday, and I want to tell the members of this House that those volunteers who have worked so hard for our sports organizations which provide constructive, positive, healthy activities for young people and those not so young in our province are deserving of full credit and this will represent a slap in the face to their volunteer efforts over the years, because they recognize the need for the sports organizations to coordinate at the provincial level, to assist at the provincial level. Yes, there are some positions which are paid positions, but they are necessary and they are helpful to the sporting community.

I look at local offices being closed. Members in the House here will have now the drivers' testing offices being closed in their areas, in Welland and in other parts of the Niagara Peninsula. People who are going to take the driver's test will have to come into St Catharines, unfamiliar territory, particularly for senior citizens and others who might be a bit nervous about this particular aspect of their lives.

I note that nothing in this bill seems to do very much for the people who are losing their jobs at various industries in St Catharines -- the people at Mott's, that is, Cadbury Schweppes in St Catharines. That place is closing down even though they got a letter from the company saying they were doing a great job after the announcement was made that they were closing down. Those people are concerned. Where are they going to get jobs? I hope the Minister of Agriculture and others are able to assist in getting some kind of cooperative company back on its feet to service the growers in our area and to provide those needed jobs for the people who have lost their jobs, or are about to, at Cadbury Schweppes, just as many at General Motors have lost their jobs as a result of the closing of the foundry and other engine line portions of the operation.


If you ask anybody who hasn't been to St Catharines for 10 years and who used to live there, "How many people do you think work at General Motors?" they'd probably say 8,000 or 9,000 people. Well, I've got news for them: It's 5,300. And General Motors, if it has its way with this contract, will have it below 5,000 as a result of outsourcing. So I wonder what in legislation that we see coming before us is going to help those people. Or those at Phona Corp who lost their jobs; or a portion of Court Industries which moved to the United States; or Kelsey-Hayes, which was an important industry in the downtown portion of the city of St Catharines; or Foster Wheeler, major in the work that it's done for Ontario Hydro and others over the years.

All of these people who are losing their jobs are looking for something in the legislation that will help them, and the incentive in terms of support for people who are going to hire new people, that kind of incentive, is a good thing. It gives people some experience and it allows the company to have some people in its employ that it might not otherwise have.

All of us have received as well calls about the family support situation. As the province abruptly changes from regional offices to one central office, we have many unfortunate people who have been unable to get their funds through this office. You may think this is only women who are registering complaints, who are saying, "I cannot get my support payments," but in many of these cases the men and the women, the former spouses, are combining to say that the operation is so haphazard that they have been unable to transfer the funds from one person to another through the family support office. We have both the men and the women, both spouses, who are calling the office to discuss this matter.

My colleague the member for Scarborough-Agincourt talked about a number of items of great interest to those of us on the opposition side, but I wanted to share some of the time with others. The leader of the Liberal Party, Lyn McLeod from Fort William, has a particular interest in this bill, particularly the portion which deals with the film industry, because she has been so supportive over the years and has seen the benefits of this film industry. It's one of the real successes. Ask people in the States. They know. If you go to people in the United States, they are frankly complaining that so much business is coming to Canada, that our people have been so successful.

Why has that been? Because David Peterson had great faith in that industry, and the subsequent government of Bob Rae had interest in that industry as well. Now this government appears to be cutting back considerably on the kind of investment that would help us in Ontario generate economic activity, funds for government so it could meet the obligations it has, new job opportunities for Canadians and something of which we can be justifiably proud.

This legislation, while it's not among the most draconian that we see before us, it's not conceived with machiavellian minds on the other side -- it has aspects that deserve support, but a number of aspects which are of great concern to those of us in the opposition. I hope the government will take that into account. It's third reading, so I don't expect the minister who is responsible or the government House leader to get up and announce that they're withdrawing the bill as a result of the arguments put forward by the opposition, but I hope they will at least look to monitoring its effect and to modifying it in the next budget if indeed they see fit to do so.

I terminate my remarks with that and with the hope that the government will reconsider its policies, particularly that the people who are not in the cabinet will put pressure on those who are in the cabinet to make those kinds of changes. I know you must feel lonely and isolated from time to time. I've listened to many people. I've read accounts in the newspaper of how frustrating it is for some of the backbenchers who would like to be able to persuade the government to change its mind but are simply given the script to read. That must be galling to the intelligent and forthright and concerned individuals in the government caucus, who are forced, by virtue of the fact that they want to move up in the echelon of the Harris regime, from making their comments or are intimidated by the fact that perhaps the government will not allow its limited largess to be extended to any particular riding.

Hon Cameron Jackson (Minister without Portfolio [Seniors Issues]): David loved your speech.

Mr Bradley: The member for Burlington South I know is looking forward to this. He says he has been relegated a little bit outside of the main realm of the cabinet here, the main bloc. I just hope they don't close any of his hospitals in the Burlington South area.

Hon Mr Jackson: If you ever get sick we'll take good care of you.

Mr Bradley: I know that if I'm ever passing there on the way back to St Catharines, the Brant hospital, I will hope I get taken good care of and that it hasn't been closed.

The Acting Speaker: Questions or comments?

Mr Bisson: As always, I enjoy the comments from the member for St Catharines, who has been in this Legislature for a long enough period of time --

Mr Bradley: Too long.

Mr Bisson: I'm trying to be polite, Jim. I've heard him speak on a number of issues. On this one, I think he's right. It really does come down to the question of who benefits. The member for St Catharines was using as an example what happened in the family support program. The government, in its zeal to save dollars to be able to give a tax break to the most wealthy in this province, is scurrying around ministries trying to find savings in any way they can, without any real thought about what it means to the people it affects.

In the family support plan program, we have seen across the province of Ontario literally 10 and 20 and 30 people coming into our constituency offices by the week complaining that they're trying to pay support payments to their ex-wives and the money is not making it through the system. Why? It's because the government has fouled up the transition. They have said that they want to change the system of payment support from being one administered by government workers to a system administered by the private sector, probably through the banks in the end, and in that transition haven't given any thought about what happens to the people who get caught in the system.

I have had, at my constituency offices in Timmins, Iroquois Falls and Matheson, literally tens of people come in per week, which is a fairly significant number in a constituency office on one issue. The issue is not always what the government purports it to be, about previous claims; it's the issue of what happens with claims where people are trying to pay support to their ex-wives but the money is not making it through the system.

I say to the government, again it's an example of who benefits from what you're doing. As a government it's incumbent upon you to govern on behalf of the people of the province, not just a few within the corporate sector. That's all it is going to achieve in the end: giving opportunity to the corporate sector to make more dollars, in this case off the FSP program, at the expense of the working men and women of this province.

The Acting Speaker: Further questions or comments? The member for St Catharines, you can sum up. No? Further debate.

Mr Tony Martin (Sault Ste Marie): It is a privilege, as I always say, to stand in this House and represent my constituents and the people of Ontario in the important debate that happens here about issues that affect all of us and about which all of should have some tremendous concern, particularly when you put any particular piece of the agenda of this government into the context of the full agenda of the government, which everybody knows is very clearly to downsize government, diminish the impact of government on the everyday lives of people in this province so that, in their way of putting it, business can get on with the business of generating more wealth and making life better for all of us.

It's in the light of that that we look at this particular bill, which is presented as something that will be good for all the people of Ontario. We know, those of us who have taken the time to look at it in any detail, that in fact it is again a bill that's going to move more of the resources and the wealth of this province into the hands of those very few who already have more than enough to take care of their own needs and take away from those who have the least, and create an ever-burgeoning chasm between the rich and the poor in this province and in this country.


I think we have to look at these bills in the context of what government is about or supposed to be about. It's my understanding that government is supposed to be about creating an environment in a jurisdiction -- and in this instance we're talking about Ontario -- that creates a level playing field for all who call themselves citizens of that particular jurisdiction, so that they can maximize the potential they have, to use the resource that they are. I don't think there's anybody in this place who will disagree that the greatest resource this province has, first and foremost, is its people.

A government, in my mind, is charged with the responsibility of making sure that all those people are able to participate to the fullest degree possible, using the skills they've either been born with or have developed through the education system or the other institutions we have available to us in this province to develop their talents in the best interests of themselves and their families, of the community in which they live and of the whole of the province of Ontario. If a government is not doing that, if what a government is in fact doing is somehow taking away from that, I think we need to be pointing that out, particularly those of us in opposition in this place, who have been elected in a position of opposition to challenge the agenda of the day.

Certainly there are lots of indicators in this province today to say that things aren't going as the government projected they would, if given the opportunity to govern, in their Common Sense Revolution and in their financial and budget statements to date, and as those who voted for them expected they might go. More and more people are becoming concerned and alarmed. Indeed, certainly some of the folks I've talked to in Sault Ste Marie tell me they are quite disappointed in what they're seeing.

Mostly they're saying to me that they hope this government -- because they know they're going to be government for another three or four years -- is doing the right thing and that at the end of the day we will be all better. But the immediate result of the decisions being made are not saying that. People are being hurt, and hurt in ways that they will find very difficult to overcome some of the damage that is done, because life is short for all of us. That time in our life when we can participate fully in the affairs of state is even shorter, when you consider the time we get in versus the time we get out, when we retire and live in that state. So it's really important that whatever government is in place, whether it's here in Toronto at Queen's Park or in Ottawa, be working in the best interests of all the people of Canada and of Ontario.

Certainly that doesn't seem to be what is going on. I think we have to look at the indicators and be concerned about what those indicators are telling us. If you listen to the Premier, Mike Harris, in the statement he made in this House last week at the opening of this session, you'd be led to believe that everything is hunky-dory, that there are no problems, that life is unfolding as it should and that at the end of the day we will all be better. You have to consider for a minute who it is that Mr Harris is talking to and who it is he's taking advice from and that he's listening to.

He came back from a visit to Europe, and who was he associating with there? Is it the ordinary worker at a steel plant? Is it a mother who is working during the daytime at a job to give her money to pay the rent and then coming home at night and taking care of the family? Is it a teacher or a doctor or a nurse? Is that who he's talking to? No. He's talking to the movers and shakers on the global scene, the financiers, those people who manage economies from on high in New York and Tokyo and London. He's talking to those people, and they're giving him a view of the world that, in their opinion, is one that speaks of a certain trend, of the need for less government, of the need for a freer marketplace, for more ability of the private sector to come in and exploit the resources of a particular area, with no concern whatsoever for the impact of that on communities, on families and on ordinary citizens.

That should concern us, because those are the people that Mike Harris has most recently come back from talking to. They're the people who are telling him what is best for us in Ontario. The other people that he must be talking to are his friends and cronies that he meets on the golf course, who are telling him that what he's doing is right on.

I remember one interview this past summer of a person on a golf course somewhere in southern Ontario, who said that he thought what Mike Harris and his government were doing was perfectly all right because it hadn't affected him personally yet. I think that's a telling statement. More and more people in this province are becoming affected directly now and are becoming concerned and beginning to realize that we have some difficulties.

If you look at the groups in this province who from time to time come out and make statements, give us statistics or give us a read on statistics, their particular take on a set of statistics, about whether we are doing well or are not doing well, they're all over the map. One day we get an economic think tank that comes out and tells us that everything is going just fantastic and that at the end of the day the economy will be better and there will be more jobs and all of us will be better off. Then the next day, we get another think tank or economic advisory committee, such as the Conference Board of Canada, coming out and telling us that we should be concerned, running up a red flag, that things aren't as good as we're made to believe and that we should be concerned and asking questions and that perhaps we should be doing something different.

That confuses people. That leaves people in a position of great worry, and when people are worried, I don't think they participate as fully as we would like them to in their workplaces and at home. That doesn't contribute to an overall healthy economy and society, so that's reason for concern.

Of course the governments of the day jump on the bandwagon of the organizations or boards or think tanks that come out and say good things and agree with them, because it's in their best interest. The federal government particularly these days is grabbing at any straw that speaks of good economic times, of jobs being created and the economy getting better, because they're not far from having to go before the people and present to them the record of their time in office so the people can pass judgement. Of course they're going to be jumping on all those statements or reports or studies that say things are going well or evolving as they should, and trying to diminish or downplay those different groups that say they're not. Certainly the folks across the floor from us here in this Legislature are wont to grab on to those particular announcements as well.

I use an example from yesterday's paper. In the last couple of days we were hearing different organizations and agencies saying to us that everything was fine, that we didn't have to worry, that jobs were being created. We had Statistics Canada come out and say that more jobs were created in the last month than there were the month before and that the ball was beginning to roll. Yet we have yesterday -- I'm reading now from the Hamilton Spectator, because I was in Hamilton earlier today -- a report in the Spectator. The headline says, "Canadian Economy on a Slide, Group Says," and guess what group this is? This is the Conference Board of Canada. The Conference Board of Canada says that "Canada's relative pace among such countries as the United States, Germany, Japan and China has slipped over the past 10 years," and this was the president of the board, Jim Nininger, who said this.

I'd recommend a reading of this article to any of you in the House or any of you out there who have access to this. It probably went by CP out to various other newspapers. It's worth reading because it paints a very different picture than the picture the Premier painted in this House last week when he got up and gave that very glowing statement of how things are getting better. Well, we know, because we who have been elected to this place, who are not in government any more, probably have more time on our hands to sit down at home and talk to our constituents. We probably do. As government, we're very busy, we're very busy with the business of government; it meant that I spent more time in Toronto. But when you're not in government you spend more time in the coffee shops. What's the name of that coffee shop in Manitouwadge?


Mr Pouliot: The Casa d'Or.

Mr Martin: The Casa d'Or, the Copper Cave Café. You talk to the people there and they tell you what's going on. They have contact with their neighbours and their friends and their family members, and they know if they're getting jobs or if they're not getting jobs. They know if the economy is going well. They know that if the boss comes in one day and he's feeling good and happy, things are probably working out well, the financial reports he read the night before, before he went to bed, were good news; they know if they were bad news. They sense that. They feel that.

If you're a good member, as some of the members here are, even some of the members across the way, you spend a lot of time, particularly if you're a backbencher, at home listening to your constituents. They're telling them the same story I'm hearing in my particular neck of the woods, that in the lives of their friends and neighbours, that in the lives of people they call family things aren't quite as rosy as the Premier would make out in his statement of last Tuesday. As a matter of fact, they're very concerned. Some of them have family heads who are no longer working. Their UI is running out, because the federal government has made that more difficult to access, and less generous, and they're looking at the possibility of having to go on to welfare. You know what happens in Ontario now if you get on to welfare: It's not long before you're on workfare and all that means in the life of a person who has worked very hard all their life, who's very proud to be a tradesperson of some sort, bringing money home, paying the rent, putting lots of food on the table so that at Christmastime there's turkey and there are gifts and all the rest of it. Now they're beginning to ask themselves if they're going to be able to do that any more because the circumstances in Ontario have changed.

Even though perhaps Statistics Canada is right when it says that the number of jobs being created is better than it was last month, I had a group in my office on Friday when I was at home, I say to the member for Lake Nipigon, and they were a group of custodians at a number of schools in my city who said to me that no, the school board in Sault Ste Marie is not laying off a whole lot of custodians. What they're doing is cutting back on the number of hours they're able to work so that they have the same number of people working but they're working fewer hours. I'd suggest to you that this is an indication of what's happening in other jurisdictions.

Perhaps there were some more jobs created in July and August of this year, but I suggest to you that on closer scrutiny you'll find that those jobs were probably part-time and perhaps the same person was working at two or three of them to make the same amount of money they were making before working at one, and those part-time jobs did not have the same level of benefit attached to them. Who knows if they had a pension package? Who knows what kind of benefits, by way of health care or looking after your teeth or whatever, which so many of us take for granted these days because we have a good, secure job?

I say to the members across the way, your job is secure for now, but you may find yourself, in the not-too-distant future, back in a position where you are beginning to face some of the realities some of your constituents are facing out there, and it's not very pretty.

Mr Pouliot: If they don't chop their ridings first.

Mr Martin: That's right. They're going to chop the ridings up and some of them won't have a job for sure. Without even going to the hustings they won't have a job, and we know what all that means.

What are we looking at as indicators of whether the economy is good or bad? This piece of legislation we're looking at today is part of the budget package we were presented with last year. It's a tax bill, and we know where they're going with taxes: They're going to cut taxes and they're telling us that this is going to be good for all of us, that somehow they're going to be able to cut taxes, preserve the services we've all come to appreciate and enjoy and expect and that will support us in developing a good economy in this province, and balance the budget all at the same time. We know that's a conjurer's dream, and only a conjurer would even imagine taking such a challenge on and actually think he could pull it off. That's what we're presented with in Ontario today.

As I said, one has to ask oneself the question: What is government about? What is government supposed to be doing? What is the job of government? Particularly in difficult times when we're all facing some of the same challenges re the economy and our ability to pay the bills -- the government's facing that, families are facing that, communities are facing that, we're all facing that -- it seems to me it's the role of government to be there, to be involved, to be a partner, to be a facilitator of discussion and restructuring and reorganizing in a way that sees everybody win in the end.

We all agree there are some things that need to be done differently. We, as a government, were moving in that direction, but we weren't laying people off in the very unthoughtful and massive way that this government is, and doing it so that the rest of their plan can make some sense and fit in place and they can move ahead with this tax cut that they're suggesting and that we'll be voting on very soon in this House.

The question is: What indicators are you going to look at? Who are you going to listen to? Are you going to listen to Mike Harris when he comes before the House and reads this very glowing and hopeful statement after coming from spending a week or so in France, I believe it was, with all the wheelers and dealers, the financiers of the world who are the engineers of the new global economy that we're getting ourselves into that's saying very clearly that government has to get out of the way, that government has to back off, that government has to be downsized, that government has no place any longer in the lives of people, that government should not be involved in the way that traditionally in this province and in this country government has become involved in being a major factor in the economy of this province? Who do you listen to? Do you listen to them or do you listen to the people of this province who are being hit every day directly by some of the decisions that are being made by this government?

In wrapping up, I think it's only appropriate that I should share with you just a few thoughts, just a couple of thoughts from some of my constituents who have written to me to tell me that Mike Harris should forget his tax break and stay the course that other governments have indicated they were going to do in preserving services and keeping in place all those institutions that we feel are so important to the economy of this province.

Just one letter. It says:

"Mike Harris, our country did not get like this overnight so you won't be able to fix it overnight. Quit making the people suffer. I know you're not suffering. These cuts don't affect you. You, Mike Harris, try to live on $900 a month with three kids and see if you could do it. If there was a way to get you out of government I'd vote today to get you out, because I didn't vote you in and I don't agree with what you're doing, and what you're doing is hurting me big time."

Just one other letter in wrapping up, and it goes like this -- I wish I had more time because I have another letter here that actually talks a bit about --

Mr Bisson: You're running out of time.

Mr Martin: Yes, I'm running out of time -- the model that Mike Harris is following, which is the one that's happening in New Jersey, and we all know about that. It says here, "Not a day goes by but it seems that we are not able to hear from one source of the media or the other about the enormous discoveries of wealth from the natural resource sector of our nation."

This person goes on to say in this letter, "The wealth that is generated from that natural resource that we have in Ontario should be in ever more progressive ways used to help the people who live in those particular areas." It's signed by a Mr Gord Shaughnessy, who is very upset with the agenda of this government.

Anyway, I thank you for the opportunity and I look forward to listening to others talk on this subject.

Mrs Lyn McLeod (Leader of the Opposition): I do appreciate my colleague from Sault Ste Marie, who had some important messages to bring on this matter from his constituents, leaving me a few moments because I felt compelled to come into the House today to speak on one portion of this bill, and that's the replacement of the film investment program by this new tax credit program.


I recognize, as my colleague the member for St Catharines has said, that this is now a done deal, that this bill is about to pass in the next 10 minutes, and I suppose I should be grateful that a tax credit program to support the film industry is better than having no program at all, but I can't miss this opportunity to state my continued dismay and my frustration that the Ontario film investment program is being abandoned and replaced with a tax credit program which will not, in my view, do nearly as much to stimulate the film and television industry in the province of Ontario.

I am absolutely amazed that this happened on the part of a government that seems to be concerned about revenue and seems to be concerned about business and industry, and obviously failed to do any kind of economic impact analysis when it decided to cut the Ontario film investment program. I suppose it probably fell victim along the way to the kind of blind cost cutting that goes on as they just try and find enough dollars to pay for the $5-billion tax cut which is the altar, as my colleague has said, this government worships at.

But you'd think they'd have taken just enough time to realize that this was not a program that was costing government money. You couldn't really save the $1.7 million they originally cut from this program. It wasn't a saving for government because every one of those dollars invested in this program gave the government back $1.23 in revenue.

I see the member for Perth is holding up a red book, a commitment we made in the election campaign to this very program, to the Ontario film investment program which we recognized as being important to supporting the film and television industry in Ontario.

We believed this program was important because we knew that it was the source of support for an industry that was generating $500 million in annual economic activity in this province, but more than that, we knew that every single dollar invested in this program was stimulating $8.30 in economic activity, and more than that, we knew there were some 2,000 jobs that were being created on an annual basis by the development of the film and television industry in this province. We knew this was the sole area in which there was job growth during a recessionary period, so we wanted to be sure that film and television production was encouraged as the thriving industry it had become in Ontario.

I heard the parliamentary assistant say in presenting this bill that Toronto has become the home of one of North America's major TV and film production industries, and that is true. We believe that should be protected and encouraged and developed. We see the strength of Toronto's television and film production industry when we see, as we travel the streets, as we come to work in the Legislature, the television crews and the cameras out. What we don't see is all the backup industry and business that's supported. We don't see the technical equipment people, the technical equipment providers, the suppliers. We don't see the hotel and restaurant business that gets a boom because of the sheer number of people who are coming in in relationship to TV and film productions.

We thought it was important and we were extremely concerned when this government began cutting the program, cutting the film development corporation budget by some 33%, cutting the film investment program initially by $1.7 million. We were concerned because we realized this government had not understood the value of this industry to this province and why it was necessary for government to continue to provide support.

I think what happened to this program is that it didn't just go the way of blind cost cutting. We've seen that happen to other programs. We've seen that happen to programs where they'll shut down a Ministry of Environment lab and then end up having to spend more dollars for the tests in the private sector. We've seen this government shut down OPP garages and end up having to spend $20,000 more a year for the same service it was providing before. We know that they're not doing a lot of economic analysis, that they're just cutting costs blindly.

But I think what happened to this particular program is that it was victim to blind ideology, that this is a government that says: "We're not going to have any kind of subsidies to business no matter what the business is, no matter how good the business is for the province of Ontario and its economy, no matter that this is a business which is actually paying back every dollar invested with $1.23. None of that's going to matter. We don't subsidize business in any way, shape or form, so we're getting out of the Ontario film investment program."

My concern is what's going to happen now. I'm personally convinced that the loss of that program is going to cost us productions, it's going to cost us jobs that come with film and television production and it is going to cost us economic development -- and economic revenue for this government, and that indeed is ironic.

I don't think the tax credit is an adequate substitute; I don't think the tax credit is going to stack up to make us competitive, to help us have that competitive advantage the parliamentary assistant spoke of earlier today. That's why the program was put in place as a two-year pilot program: to see whether or not that would give us a competitive advantage, that it would match the programs in Quebec and British Columbia so that television and film production would come here and not to other provinces. The program worked, the program proved itself, we did become a major North American centre, and I'm afraid we're going to lose that. We already saw, when the cuts began, productions leaving Ontario that were scheduled to come here. I don't think we'll ever be able to measure how much we have lost in television and film production that would have come to Ontario if that program had stayed in place.

I don't think the tax credit program is a reasonable substitute, because it only rewards successes at the end of the day. Big producers, the ones who are clearly successful, will still get some benefit, but it will not help to encourage new productions and the risk of new productions. It won't provide that upfront investment that's necessary to get new productions off the ground. That support for risk is needed, and I say again there was no risk for government in keeping this program going because it was a moneymaker for government. It had proven itself; it deserved to be made permanent; it deserved to have increased funding from $15 million to $25 million to meet the demand that was there because of this growing industry. That is what we had committed to, I say to the member for Perth, that's what we believed would have helped jobs, it would have helped revenue and it would have kept us world-class. I am sorry we've lost it.

The Acting Speaker: Ms Bassett has moved third reading of Bill 70, An Act to provide Co-operative Education and Film Industry Tax Credits, to create Economic Growth, to implement other measures contained in the 1996 Budget and to amend certain Acts administered by the Minister of Finance.

Is it the pleasure of the House that the motion carry? I declare the motion carried.

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

It being 6 o'clock, I adjourn the House until 10 o'clock tomorrow morning.

The House adjourned at 1758.