36th Parliament, 1st Session

L103 - Thu 3 Oct 1996 / Jeu 3 Oct 1996








































The House met at 1003.


Clerk of the House (Mr Claude L. DesRosiers): Honourable members, it is my duty to announce to you that there is a vacancy in the office of the Speaker by way of resignation of the Honourable Ed Doyle. It is therefore my duty to call upon you to elect one of your numbers to preside over your deliberations as Speaker. Therefore, I ask for nominations for the office of Speaker.

Mr Jim Flaherty (Durham Centre): I wish to place in nomination the name of the member for Mississauga South, Margaret Marland.

Mr Harry Danford (Hastings-Peterborough): I rise in my place to second the nomination of the member for Mississauga South, Margaret Marland.

Clerk of the House: Mrs Marland, do you accept the nomination?

Mrs Margaret Marland (Mississauga South): I accept the nomination with pleasure.

Clerk of the House: Further nominations?

Mr Monte Kwinter (Wilson Heights): I have pleasure in putting in nomination the name of Gilles Morin, the member for Carleton East, as Speaker of the House.

Mr Michael A. Brown (Algoma-Manitoulin): I second the nomination of the member for Carleton East, Gilles Morin, for the office of Speaker.

Clerk of the House: Mr Morin, do you accept the nomination?

Mr Gilles E. Morin (Carleton East): Yes, I accept. Oui, j'accepte.

Clerk of the House: Further nominations?

Mr Joseph Spina (Brampton North): I nominate Derwyn Shea, the member for High Park-Swansea.

Mr John O'Toole (Durham East): I second the nomination of Derwyn Shea for the position of Speaker.

Clerk of the House: Mr Shea, do you accept the nomination?

Mr Derwyn Shea (High Park-Swansea): I accept.

Clerk of the House: Further nominations?

Mr Bill Grimmett (Muskoka-Georgian Bay): I move the nomination of Jack Carroll, the member for Chatham-Kent, for the position of Speaker.

Mr Bart Maves (Niagara Falls): I second the nomination of Jack Carroll for the position of Speaker.

Clerk of the House: Mr Carroll, do you accept the nomination?

Mr Jack Carroll (Chatham-Kent): I do, with thanks.

Clerk of the House: Further nominations?

Mr Toni Skarica (Wentworth North): It gives me great honour to move that Chris Stockwell, member for Etobicoke West, do take the chair of the House as Speaker.

Mr E.J. Douglas Rollins (Quinte): I would like to second the nomination of the member for Etobicoke West, Chris Stockwell.

Clerk of the House: Mr Stockwell, do you accept the nomination?

Mr Chris Stockwell (Etobicoke West): I do.

Clerk of the House: Further nominations?

Mr Bert Johnson (Perth): I, Bert Johnson, move, seconded by Ted Chudleigh, that David Tilson, member of the electoral district of Dufferin-Peel, do take the chair of the House as Speaker.

Mr Ted Chudleigh (Halton North): I rise in my place with honour to second the nomination of David Tilson, member for Dufferin-Peel.

Clerk of the House: Mr Tilson, do you accept the nomination?

Mr David Tilson (Dufferin-Peel): I do.

Clerk of the House: Further nominations?

Mr Gerry Martiniuk (Cambridge): I move that the member for the electoral district of Kitchener-Wilmot, Gary Leadston, do take the chair of the House as Speaker.

Mr Peter L. Preston (Brant-Haldimand): I'm pleased and honoured to second the nomination of Gary Leadston as Speaker of the House.

Clerk of the House: Mr Leadston, do you accept the nomination?

Mr Gary L. Leadston (Kitchener-Wilmot): I'd be honoured to accept it.

Clerk of the House: Further nominations?

Mr John L. Parker (York East): I, John Parker, move, seconded by Marion Boyd, that Floyd Laughren, member for the electoral district of Nickel Belt, do take the chair of the House as Speaker.

Mrs Marion Boyd (London Centre): It's my honour and pleasure to second the nomination of the member for Nickel Belt.

Clerk of the House: Mr Laughren, do you accept the nomination?

Mr Floyd Laughren (Nickel Belt): With appreciation to my nominator and seconder, yes.

Clerk of the House: Are there any further nominations? If not, I declare the nominations closed.

If I could have your attention, please, while the lists are being prepared -- a list will be posted in each ballot box -- I'm going to take a few moments just to outline again what the general procedure is for voting.

Members on my left should exit through that far corridor, go out into the lobby, come back here and accept ballots, come to a voting booth and deposit their ballots, after filling them out with the name of the candidate they want to vote for, into the ballot box at the end of the table. The doors will be open at all times. Members are free to come and go. We would like members to follow this process to try and speed it up and do it as quickly as possible. It could be a long day and I ask for your patience. We will cooperate. If you have any questions during the day, we will be more than pleased to answer them.

There will be bells. The way it will happen is that when I see that most of the people have voted, I will give a deadline. I will announce that the polls will close in about five minutes. Once I'm satisfied that everybody who wanted to vote has voted, the polls will be closed. The counting will take place in another room. Five minutes before the count is announced on each ballot, I will ring the bells so that you will know to come back to hear the results of the ballot and to witness the declaration of an election or to go on to a further ballot.

If the members want to proceed, we can begin with the first ballot. Voting can begin now.


Clerk of the House: Attention, please. The polls will be closing at 10:30, in approximately three minutes. Would those of you who have not voted who are in the chamber please come and do so right now, or if you know of people who want to vote who are nearby.


Clerk of the House: We will now proceed to a second ballot and I will proceed to name the names who are left on the second ballot. They are listed by alphabetical order. After I have done so, any of the members who still remain on the ballot and who wish to withdraw may do so. If not, we will go on with the vote with the names I have read out.

Mr Jack Carroll, the member for Chatham-Kent; Mr Floyd Laughren, the member for Nickel Belt; Mr Gary Leadston, the member for Kitchener-Wilmot; Mrs Margaret Marland, the member for Mississauga South; M. Gilles Morin, the member for Carleton East; Mr Derwyn Shea, the member for High Park-Swansea; and Mr Chris Stockwell, the member for Etobicoke West, are the remaining candidates in the second ballot.

Are there any of those who wish to withdraw at this point? Not seeing any, we will now proceed to the second ballot. If you'll just hold your seats, it'll take a few minutes' wait until the ballot boxes are back on the table and to get the candidates' list back into the ballot box.


Clerk of the House: Voting for the second ballot is now closed and I would ask that the scrutineers and the counters remove themselves with the ballot box to the counting room, please.


Clerk of the House: We will need a third ballot and I will proceed to announce the names of those candidates remaining on the third ballot by alphabetical order:

Mr Floyd Laughren, Nickel Belt; Mr Gary L. Leadston, member for Kitchener-Wilmot; Mrs Margaret Marland, member for Mississauga South; M. Gilles Morin, member for Carleton East; Mr Derwyn Shea, member for High Park-Swansea; and Mr Chris Stockwell, member for Etobicoke West.

Are there any of the candidates I've just named who wish to withdraw at this point? Seeing none, we will proceed to the third ballot.


Clerk of the House: We will need a fourth ballot and here are the names, listed by alphabetical order, of the candidates remaining for the fourth ballot: Mr Floyd Laughren, member for Nickel Belt; Mrs Margaret Marland, member for Mississauga South; M. Gilles Morin, member for Carleton East; Mr Derwyn Shea, member for High Park-Swansea; and Mr Chris Stockwell, member for Etobicoke West.

Are there any of those candidates I have just named who wish to withdraw from the ballot at this time? Seeing none, we will proceed to a fourth ballot.


Clerk of the House: The fourth ballot will be closed at 12:45. All members who are not in the chamber and who have not voted are asked to do so.


Clerk of the House: Voting on the fourth ballot is now terminated. The counters and the scrutineers will now retire to the counting room.


Clerk of the House: We will need a fifth ballot. I will read out the names of the remaining candidates in alphabetical order: Mrs Margaret Marland, Mississauga South; M. Gilles Morin, Carleton East; Mr Derwyn Shea, High Park-Swansea; Mr Chris Stockwell, Etobicoke West.

Do any of the candidates I have just named want to withdraw at this time? Seeing none, we will now proceed to a fifth ballot.


Clerk of the House: Voting on the fifth ballot will terminate at 1:30. Any member not having voted is encouraged to do so.


Clerk of the House: Voting on the fifth ballot is now terminated.

The scrutineers and the counters will now remove themselves to the counting room.


Clerk of the House: A sixth ballot will be necessary. I will proceed to read the names of the candidates remaining on the ballot, in alphabetical order: Mrs Margaret Marland, Mississauga South; M. Gilles Morin, Carleton East; Mr Chris Stockwell, Etobicoke West.

Are there any of the candidates whom I have just named who would wish to withdraw at this time? Seeing none, we will proceed to a sixth ballot, but I would ask everyone to make sure they print the names very legibly, and please move along the other sides to the voting booths.


Clerk of the House: Voting on the sixth ballot is now terminated. I would ask the counters and the scrutineers to retire to the counting room.


Clerk of the House: We will need a seventh ballot. The candidates remaining on the seventh ballot, listed by alphabetical order, are the following: Mrs Margaret Marland, member for Mississauga South; Mr Chris Stockwell, member for Etobicoke West. I would ask members to proceed to a final ballot.


Clerk of the House: I declare that the voting on the seventh ballot is now terminated. The scrutineers and counters will now leave to count the ballots.


Clerk of the House: Members of the House, you have elected as your Speaker the Honourable Chris Stockwell, member for Etobicoke West.

The Speaker (Hon Chris Stockwell): Sit down, please. I would like to thank the people of this Legislature. It's one thing to be elected at large in your riding. I've done that four or five times and that certainly is a memorable experience. To be elected by a group of your peers is a different memorable experience but equally cherished.

I want to thank every member who ran for Speaker. Each and every one of them, I will say, performed that election with dignity and fairness, and I think every member who stood in their place and how they voted was indicative of the type of House or Legislature we have. We are partisan by nature, we come here with political agendas, but when it comes down to decent, fairminded individuals, I don't think the people could have elected 129 better people. Thank you very much.

I just would like to say one quick thing. My wife and two children came down today. Charlene and Kale and Victoria, you can stand. I think I can allow that.

This House is adjourned during pleasure.

His Honour the Lieutenant Governor entered the chamber and took his seat upon the throne.

Hon Henry N.R. Jackman (Lieutenant Governor): Pray be seated.

The Speaker: May it please Your Honour, the Legislative Assembly has elected me as their Speaker, though I am but little able to fulfil the important duties thus assigned to me. If, in the performance of those duties, I should at any time fall into error, I pray that the fault may be imputed to me and not to the assembly, whose servant I am.

Hon David Johnson (Chair of the Management Board of Cabinet and Government House Leader): I am commanded by the honourable the Lieutenant Governor to declare to you that he freely confides in the duty and attachment of the assembly to Her Majesty's person and government and is confident that the proceedings will be conducted with wisdom, temperance and prudence.



The Speaker: We'll proceed with members' statements.

Mr James J. Bradley (St Catharines): I think the people from the three political parties would like to extend to you our congratulations. The process has been very challenging. We've gone through a number of ballots today. We have had excellent candidates who have allowed their names to stand for the position of Speaker of the Legislative Assembly.

As a representative of the official opposition, I would like to convey to you our sincere congratulations and our very best wishes as you assume some very onerous responsibilities.

You have people who are deputies, who are very capable people as well, who will be of great assistance to you. I know that the people who are at the table will be more than happy to assist you on many occasions. I'm sure you will have the cooperation of members of all three political parties as you assume this very challenging and sometimes difficult responsibility as Speaker of the Legislative Assembly.

On behalf of the official opposition, I would like to extend our congratulations to you and to all of the candidates who allowed their names to stand for the position of Speaker.

Mr Bud Wildman (Algoma): Mr Speaker, on behalf of the New Democrats, I would like to add our words of congratulations to you and best wishes for success in the exercise of your high office. I just would say that we regret the fact that we will no longer have the opportunity to hear your insightful and energetic interventions in the debate. I want to remind you, though, that as Speaker you must sit in that chair and you can't move around.

I want also to say that we congratulate all of the members of the House who ran for the office of Speaker. All of them deserved and got considerable support, which is one reason we went through so many ballots. All of them could have served in your position, I'm sure you'd agree, and will be willing to work with you to ensure that the business of the House is carried on in a dignified and expeditious manner, keeping in mind that the rights of the minority will always be protected.

Hon David Johnson: Mr Speaker, as a person who has known and served with you for many years, I'm delighted to stand in my place and on behalf of everybody today, including all the members on this side, add congratulations to you.

The member opposite mentioned that they would miss your insightful and energetic interventions. I was thinking perhaps I could make the same comment from this side, but I'm sure, having known you from the past and your dedication and insight into the political process, and your knowledge of the rules and fairness and wit and many other excellent characteristics, that you will take hold of this office and give a new meaning to the word "Speaker" in the provincial Legislature.

I want to remind you that is a no-smoking chair. That may be a slight problem you encounter over the course of the next several months.

You do bring with you the confidence of all the members of this House. We're looking forward to working with you. We're looking forward to your leadership.


The Speaker: Thank you. I'd like to personally thank the members for St Catharines, Algoma and Don Mills. I am very pleased and hopeful that this will be a less rowdy place to be. Maybe if we can just calm down a little it would be helpful, and you know I would have cooperated.



Mrs Lyn McLeod (Leader of the Opposition): Because things are somewhat unusual today, normally before we come into the House we would know which ministers are definitely going to be here for questions during question period, and I just want to determine that the ministers currently present will be here for question period.

Hon David Johnson: This is a problem today because, as you might guess, many of the ministers some time ago, even before this process was set into place, have made other arrangements, so there will be a number of ministers missing.

I believe that the list that has been brought from the opposition ranks -- I'm not sure if the third party has seen this list. Absent are about seven ministers and there are a couple of question marks who aren't on this list. I believe, and I'll just check and see if anybody who's in their seat at the present time -- will everybody be here through the proceedings? The Premier, I know, is in another meeting which was scheduled, and it will be most difficult for him to be here. I think what you can count on is what you see at the present time.

The Speaker: Thank you, Mr House Leader. Let's move to members' statements.



Mr Michael Gravelle (Port Arthur): Mr Speaker, congratulations.

After tomorrow morning, Thunder Bay will forever be changed. You see, tomorrow the Health Services Restructuring Commission will deliver its final verdict regarding the future of health services for my community and northwestern Ontario.

I have risen repeatedly in this House, as has my colleague from Fort William, to object to the offensive reductions in hospital beds and health care services for the people of northwestern Ontario. I rose recently to protest against the minister who claims that this is a non-political commission, at arm's length from the ministry, then asks his deputy minister to write the commission, endorsing the recommendations made on June 27. This action by the ministry makes a mockery of the appeals process and is a direct insult to the thousands who have eloquently appealed this decision based on a sense of fear for the future.

Yesterday, the final insult was delivered that typifies the minister's and the commission's true nature. The commission has agreed to brief provincial members of Parliament on their final report but only after they've briefed the hospital CEOs, after they've briefed the media and after they've conducted a closed-door interview session with the media.

This is a deliberate attempt by the commission and the minister to control the reporting of this incredibly important event. I'm outraged that my privilege as a member of this House and as the duly elected representative of the people of Port Arthur has been ignored and trampled on by a non-elected body that is making major changes in my community but has absolutely no accountability to the people it will affect.


Ms Frances Lankin (Beaches-Woodbine): Mr Speaker, may I add my words of congratulations and say that I'll miss you from the CBC panel. It was going to be good, but anyway.

Mike Harris and the Conservatives want to pull the plug on Ontario Hydro: move to privatize it, move to sell it off to their friends. When they do that it means we're all going to end up with higher rates. That's because the private owners want profit, understandably. Hydro's own studies show that rates will be going up by 32% under private ownership and the Harris Conservatives plan on selling off Hydro's most efficient and profitable water-powered stations with the lowest operating costs. That means the Conservatives' corporate friends will make big bucks on cheap power while the taxpayer rates go up.

If you take a look at who wins, you know who it is; it's the folks who are going to make the money from the selloff, it's the commissions that'll go to the bankers and the profits that'll be skimmed off the top.

If you look at who loses, it's the rest of us. It's not their big-buck friends, it's the ratepayers who are going to have to pay more; small business owners whose rates will go up; northern communities who are going to see their rates double; farmers who are going to be especially hard hit and all of us who care about the environment who are going to see deregulation and privatization gut the protections that we've worked so long and so hard for.

The Tories often talk loudly and proudly about their so-called Common Sense Revolution. Let me tell you, to us on this side of the House, the New Democrats, who will be holding hearings across the province, we say selling off Hydro makes no sense at all.


Mr Bruce Smith (Middlesex): Mr Speaker, likewise, congratulations on your election as Speaker.

Earlier this month my colleague Helen Johns, MPP for Huron and parliamentary assistant to Health Minister Wilson, announced the next step in our government's three-year plan to repatriate the remaining 66 people with acquired brain injuries back to Ontario from US facilities.

In addition to our government's ongoing reinvestment of health care dollars, this initiative includes the allocation of up to $2.8 million in funding this year as part of the program involving seven community providers, including Dale Head Injury Services Inc, located in London and serving southwestern Ontario. Dale Services has responded enthusiastically to the government's announcement by describing it as both positive and a progressive step.

As all members know, ABI persons may require specialized rehabilitation for months or years; rates of recovery differ with each person. However, proper care and support can promote significant recovery and quality of life. Our government's announcement will enable ABI persons to receive this treatment and care back home, closer to their families and friends.

I wish Dale Services much success in their continued efforts to serve ABI persons.


Mr Rick Bartolucci (Sudbury): Today I received a copy of a letter from a young teacher. I'd like to read a few excerpts from it.

"Dear Mr Snobelen,

"Just a friendly reminder from your employer. I am concerned about your job actions since you have been in the position of Minister of Education. In the beginning, you really had my eyebrows raised. Now I am ready to issue you a layoff notice.

"I am a young teacher. I realize that I only paid $40,000 for my education and spent four years in university. As I expected, upon graduation, I sent out 200 résumés and received very few responses. There are thousands of others just like me.

"With regard to your proposed cuts: simply start cutting responsibly. Stop cutting where it hurts most, at the level of students and teachers. Here are some suggestions from your employer. I suggest you consider them carefully as we, the constituents, are the ones that decide if you will be permanently laid off just as you have done to many other young, energetic and intelligent teachers.

"Consider the 85 factor for teacher retirement.

"Stop looking at public education as a business. These children are our future.

"Give credit where credit is due. You have almost completely destroyed all of the teacher morale in this province.

"Stop coming up with changes to the education system on a whim. It seems like you come up with these insane ideas on a weekly basis.

"I realize that I am just an average person but it is the average people like me who got you elected. What future is there for a person like me?"


Ms Shelley Martel (Sudbury East): I want to return to the continuing crisis at the family support plan, a crisis which the Attorney General would rather ignore than admit is of his own making. The fact is that women and children who used to receive support payments on a regular basis are now not. That's a direct result of the cuts made by this Attorney General in his haste to help finance the tax cut.

This Conservative government closed the eight regional FSP offices in August and at the same time the Conservatives also laid off 290 experienced FSP staff. There is not enough staff left to deal with the FSP caseload and that means that money legally owing to families across Ontario is not making it into the hands of women and children who need it.

Last week I pointed out that my office had received only eight responses to 50 inquiries we had made on behalf of constituents to the Ministry of the Attorney General. After raising this, within 24 hours I received a letter with information on 21 cases. The only problem is that the ministry forgot to provide us with the case numbers and the names of the clients involved, so we can't match our inquiries to the responses we received.

My staff faxed the whole letter back to the ministry last Friday asking for file numbers and for names. Today we still have not received a response. We've now faxed 16 other inquiries to the minister on behalf of constituents and still no response.

This system is in a crisis and the Attorney General has got to admit it.



Mr R. Gary Stewart (Peterborough): Mr Speaker, again, congratulations.

I rise in the House today to announce the grand opening of a truly splendid and remarkable community facility in Peterborough this coming Saturday.

On October 5, the people of Peterborough will be joined by Ontario's Lieutenant Governor for the grand opening of Showplace Peterborough. Showplace Peterborough will be Peterborough's centre for the performing arts, a place for Peterborough's own to showcase their talents and attract top performers from across North America and indeed from around the world.

The dream began back in April 1993 with the creation of its board of directors on a joint financing venture between all three levels of government to the tune of $1.75 million. Showplace Peterborough even agreed to privately raise the city's portion of the funds and did so.

Personal and corporate involvement led Showplace to pass the $1-million mark in their campaign by August 1995 and recently launched another campaign to raise the remaining $800,000. This truly is a remarkable feat and worthy of applause.

I am proud to stand here today to thank every volunteer for making such a dedicated commitment to Showplace Peterborough and I wish them every success.


Mr Frank Miclash (Kenora): Mr Speaker, I too would like to congratulate you on taking the chair.

My statement is directed to the Minister of Northern Development today and it's a follow-up to a question that I asked him in the spring session. The minister will know that the Ontario Farm Products Marketing Commission has now opened up the northern dairy industry to big southern Ontario companies. The new policy, as the minister knows, will result in the loss of jobs in northern Ontario and the possible closure of local dairy companies such as Vacationland Dairy in my riding.

I think the question I have to ask of the minister is what kind of interventions he might have had being the advocate for the north, knowing the jobs that we need in the north, an advocate who would ensure that we do not lose jobs in terms of this new government anti-north -- and I must say, it's an anti-north policy.

I have to ask him what kind of involvement he had when it came to Vacationland Dairy and what they would have to do in terms of preparing for the changes which I have indicated will cost northern jobs. I just hope that the minister will have looked at this, will have looked at it carefully, will know what it's going to do, not only in terms of the northern dairy industry but also in terms of jobs throughout the north.

I am worried. I am worried about Vacationland Dairy, which I have seen grow over many, many years. They have worked hard to come up with a plant that will service the needs of my constituents. Again, I can't impress upon the minister enough what it would have been for him to intervene in terms of holding these jobs in the north where they belong.


Mr Tony Martin (Sault Ste Marie): Congratulations, Mr Speaker.

I would like to take this opportunity to recognize Saturday, October 5, as having been declared World Teachers' Day by the United Nations and to add my voice of appreciation and support for this international recognition of our teachers. Teachers are the foundation of our education system and play the major role in the educational growth and development of our children and youth.

Second, the quality of education offered by our teachers in Sault Ste Marie particularly is indicated by the Reader's Digest choice of six White Pines Collegiate teachers as Canada's top educators. John Ferguson, Robert Moore, Ken and Myra Piirtoniemi, Wendy Piper and Pam Torgerson are winners of the 1996 Reader's Digest Leadership in Education Awards for their outstanding work on the Lake Superior Basin project.

I wish to recognize the dedication and commitment of all our teachers as they encourage our students to reach their full potential. These recognized individuals are yet another example of why our children receive a world-class education here in Ontario.


Mr John O'Toole (Durham East): I'd like to extend my personal congratulations, Mr Speaker Stockwell.

I'd like to bring to the attention of the Legislature an important event that is taking place this Saturday in my riding of Durham East. On October 5, the Tyrone Mill in Tyrone will be celebrating their 150th anniversary.

Over the years the Tyrone Mill has changed owners and the type of business. The mill is an excellent example of a small business and its ability to survive in today's economy. Its key to continued success has been achieved by the owner's insight and ability to adapt to the changing needs of the community.

In the beginning, the business at Tyrone Mill was flour. Today, owner Bob Shafer operates the mill as an apple cider business and a sawmill. The mill continues to be powered by water.

Along with being a successfully run business, the Tyrone Mill is a historic landmark. It is the oldest mill in the region of Durham.

I'd like to extend my thanks to Bob Shafer, the owner, for his interest, hard work and commitment in preserving a piece of our Ontario heritage. Congratulations on a successful small business, one of which I am very proud.

I again welcome all members of the Legislature to Tyrone Mill's 150th anniversary on October 5. Come and enjoy the spirit and history of a rural riding.



Hon John Snobelen (Minister of Education and Training): Congratulations on your election, Mr Speaker.

I'm pleased to rise to inform the House that our government is proclaiming this Saturday as World Teachers' Day in Ontario. October 5 was designated by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization as a day to acknowledge the valuable contribution teachers make to our society. Our government is joining jurisdictions around the world in recognizing the commitment, creativity and caring of the teaching profession.

On this special occasion, I'm also pleased to acknowledge and recognize the presence today in our chamber of Mrs Eileen Lennon, first vice-president of the executive of the Ontario Teachers' Federation, and Mrs Margaret Wilson, registrar of the new Ontario College of Teachers, who are here today representing the teachers of Ontario. Welcome to the Legislature.

As I visit schools throughout the province and speak with students and parents, I am continually impressed with the significant role teachers play in our young people's lives. I'd like to express my admiration for these men and women who inspire, challenge, guide and encourage our young people so they can become confident, knowledgeable and productive citizens.

In saying this, I recognize the increasing demands that are being placed on our teachers. When our society is faced with pressures, we often turn to teachers to be the problem-solvers who can cure all ills.

I would say to the teachers of Ontario that I am committed to changes in our education system that will enable you to work as effectively as possible. I want to ensure that our resources are directed to the classroom, not buried in layers of administration. Let me assure you that I value your dedication and to work with you to ensure that our children get the highest quality education possible.

Today, I'm delighted to have this opportunity to pay tribute to Ontario's teachers. You are the lifeblood of our education system, bringing vitality and energy to the classrooms of Ontario. It's through your hard work --


The Deputy Speaker (Mr Bert Johnson): There's too much yelling and shouting. If you would like to do that, then you're welcome to go outside. You're not welcome to do it in here. Would you please bring yourselves to order.

Mr Peter Kormos (Welland-Thorold): If I do it outside, Snobelen won't hear me.

Hon Mr Snobelen: Thank you so much, Mr Speaker. I have become somewhat --


The Deputy Speaker: I've spoken in reply to some things that I've heard and I'd like to warn the member for Sudbury and the member for Welland-Thorold that I'll not warn either one of them again -- not once.

Hon Mr Snobelen: Thank you, Mr Speaker. Let me repeat that today I am very delighted to have had this opportunity to pay tribute to Ontario's teachers. You are the lifeblood of our education system, bringing vitality and energy to the classrooms of Ontario. It's through your hard work and commitment that our students are gaining the skills and knowledge that will prepare them for a future of promise.

Mrs Lyn McLeod (Leader of the Opposition): I hope the Minister of Education will indeed choose to celebrate World Teachers' Day on Saturday. I hope he will celebrate it by at least refraining for a day from mentioning his personal goal of taking $1.2 billion out of the educational system. I hope that instead of talking about that he will sit quietly and think about his plan to take $600 million more out of the educational system and how many more teachers will be laid off if he carries out that plan and what that will mean to education and to students.


I hope the Minister of Education will celebrate teachers' day by setting aside his inflammatory statements about Ontario's overpaid and underworked teachers. In John Snobelen's view, as we have seen, trained teachers can be replaced by a teenage supervisor of hamburger production at McDonald's.

I find Mr Snobelen, the Minister of Education, to be rather hypocritical in the words he gives this House today. They're hypocritical words coming from the man who set out to create a crisis in education and succeeded beyond even his most remote imaginings. He is right when he says that there are increasing demands on teachers in Ontario, and those demands are being placed on teachers because of the cuts that he and his government have condoned.

I would like to truly celebrate teachers today. I'd like to celebrate teachers, starting with a music teacher I had in grade 9 -- so it was many years ago -- who said, "You know, you should think about going to university," and changed my life, as I know countless teachers across this province change the lives of thousands of young people every year.

I want to celebrate my daughters' teachers, most particularly the ones who saw the uniqueness in each of my children and found the ways to draw that out.

I want to celebrate teachers in today's classrooms in Ontario, many of whom are struggling with classrooms of 40 students and are still trying to find a way to respond to the individual needs and the strengths of each young person.

I want to celebrate the teachers who are constantly searching for new ways to help students learn and new ways to create excitement about learning, and I want to celebrate the teachers who patiently work with special needs students, trying to give them that extra measure of understanding and encouragement they need to be able to continue.

I want to celebrate the teachers whose contribution to young people can't be measured solely by the hours they spend in the classroom, but have to be measured too by the countless hours they spend counselling and coaching and mounting drama productions and providing teacher assistance and organizing clubs.

I believe we have a lot to celebrate in Ontario when we recognize teachers. We have come a very long way in meeting the very idealistic goals of public education, the goal of giving each child an equal opportunity to develop his or her full potential.

Teachers in this province understand how good our education system is and they understand why it is good. They understand because, without any question at all, the achievements of education in Ontario are the achievements of Ontario's teachers.

I wish that the minister understood how good our school system is, not because it doesn't need to change but because any changes that he contemplates should be based on a clear understanding of what is good about our education system and what needs to be valued. I wish the Minister of Education understood that it is indeed teachers who provide education to students. You cannot value education and devalue teachers.

The minister talks of making changes that enable teachers to work effectively. I suggest to him that he start by truly valuing teachers, because you can't make effective change in education without them.

Mr Frank Miclash (Kenora): I would like to follow up on some of my leader's comments and say to this minister that for all the nice things he said about teachers today, that will not make up for what he has said about teachers in the past. It just won't work, Minister.

As I travel from school to school I hear that teachers are becoming demoralized. They are saying they cannot take it any longer -- cannot take the criticism they face on a daily basis.

I spent 10 enjoyable years in the classroom, but from what I hear from teachers today I am fearful. I am fearful about what you are doing to that profession, about what will be in that classroom should I choose to go back into it.

Minister, we have some very, very dedicated professionals in the classroom, and I would just hope that you would take the time to go around and speak to them to find out what their needs are, how they are feeling about what you are doing in terms of education and in terms of the students who face these teachers every day.

Mr Bud Wildman (Algoma): I want to respond to the minister's statement acknowledging the declaration of October 5 as UNESCO's World Teachers' Day.

I listened very carefully to the minister's statements, as I attempt to listen to all of his musings, and I'm interested in the fact that he says he is "continually impressed with the significant role that teachers play in our young people's lives." And he wants to express his "admiration for these men and women who inspire, challenge, guide and encourage our young people so that they can become confident, knowledgeable and productive citizens." I hope the minister is sincere in that statement.

I note that he says he recognizes the increasing demands that are being placed on our teachers. All of us recognize that in the modern society there are more and more demands being made on teachers' time, both inside the classroom and outside the classroom. But those demands are also being complicated by the changes this government and this minister are making with regard to funding our education system. If the minister is really seriously concerned about the demands on teachers' time, why is it he continually goes around the province, until today, saying that teachers are overpaid and underworked?

Perhaps it can be best expressed by a letter I received just today from a young teacher in Richmond Hill. I'll just read portions of it. It's addressed to Mr Snobelen. It says: "Just a friendly reminder from your employer. I am concerned about your job actions since you have been in the position of Minister of Education. In the beginning you really had my eyebrows raised. Now I am ready to issue you a layoff notice. Your job is to represent the people and to implement their ideas. You are failing to do your job. Thank you for providing such a bright future for young and intelligent teachers. Maybe we should say forget it, quit school and just start assembling cars because we can't get jobs."

Further on she says: "Stop looking at public education as a business. These children are our future. When was the last time you visited typical classrooms throughout the province? Remember that one of our boards was recently voted the best education system in the world. Give credit where credit is due. Teachers are constantly trying to boost children's self-esteem. You have almost completely destroyed all of the teacher morale in this province. The best education in the world costs money, and we are getting tremendous value for our education dollar. Stop coming up with changes to the education system on a whim. It seems like you come up with these insane ideas on a weekly basis."

This is a letter that was written from the heart by a very demoralized and discouraged young teacher who wants to help young children in our province to achieve the best they can and to reach their potential.

The minister says he's "committed to changes in our education system that will enable you" -- meaning teachers -- "to work as effectively as possible." Let's understand what that means. What the minister is essentially saying is, "We want to ensure that you work more." That's what he really means when he says "to enable you to work as effectively as possible." That's essentially what he means. He doesn't believe that teachers work hard enough.

He says he wants to ensure that resources are directed to the classroom, and yet he took $400 million out of education last year, which annualized works out to almost $1 billion; and this year he apparently wants to take something like $600 million more out of public education in our province.

He then goes on to say, "I value" the teachers' "dedication and want to work with you to ensure that our children get the highest quality education possible." The teachers are "the lifeblood of our education system."

These words sound awfully hollow to teachers in Ontario today. They want a Minister of Education who is a minister for education, who advocates for education, and doesn't continually attack the system for which he is responsible.




Mrs Lyn McLeod (Leader of the Opposition): I will place my first question to the Minister of Community and Social Services. First I want to return to the issue we raised with you yesterday, when we revealed the plans that are being developed in some secrecy within your ministry which include consideration of the charging of new user fees for the disabled who want to take advantage of vocational rehabilitation services, the kind of training that will help these people find jobs.

You had at least three opportunities in yesterday's media scrums to rule out categorically user fees for the disabled and say, "We are not going to bring in user fees for the disabled." You refused to make those guarantees. You got angry at being found out that there was any indication that these kinds of discussions were going on within your ministry, but beyond your anger you didn't provide the disabled of this province with any guarantee at all.

Minister, you've had 24 hours to rethink your answer and, I hope, to rethink the kinds of discussions that are going on in your ministry. You've had an opportunity, I believe, to hear from some of the disabled who are outraged. I will give you another opportunity today. Will you guarantee that you will not bring in new user fees for the disabled?

Hon Janet Ecker (Minister of Community and Social Services): I thank the honourable member across the way for this question. I know she is very concerned about this matter, as I am very concerned about this matter and the fear that has been provoked in the minds of many people in the disabled community.

This government, I suggest, does not make policy on the back of an envelope; we don't make policy on the fly. We consult, we listen and we're consulting again, which is exactly what we're doing in the disabled community. My predecessor met with an advisory committee that represented a wide range of people in the disabled community on many occasions. I am meeting with groups like the Ontario Association for Community Living, the Ontario March of Dimes, the Canadian Hearing Society, the Canadian National Institute for the Blind, and the list could go on. I find it very difficult to understand how consulting with the groups most affected is considered as developing policy somehow in secret.

Because the honourable member seems to feel that we're not listening to what the disabled community has said, I suggest the SARC report from 1988, and if you look at the date, I believe that was the Liberal government's. The report said:

"One of the worst aspects of receiving social assistance is the stigma associated with the term `welfare.' The stigma is felt equally by all recipients, disabled or not. The often severe difficulties and physical barriers that confront people...are compounded for social assistance recipients by the indignity of being treated as second-class citizens.

"The status of social assistance recipients with disabilities has led many to advocate that their income needs be met by some other program.

"The committee...agrees that disabled people should be removed entirely from the social assistance system."

Let me also quote another report, the Advisory Group on Persons with Disabilities to the Social Assistance Review Committee in 1987, also when Ms McLeod's government was in power: "That a universal income support system for disabled persons be established, that it be combined with an income-tested allowance that recognizes individual rights and family needs."

I could go on at great length. There is much documentation and there are many reports about how the disability community has asked governments to remove them off welfare and develop a special program that meets their needs. That continues to be the commitment this government gave when we were elected, that continues to be the commitment we are working on and that continues to be the commitment and guarantee that we give to the disabled community.

Mrs McLeod: The minister knows full well that the memorandum we saw yesterday had absolutely nothing to do with removing the stigma of welfare from the disabled of this province. It had everything to do with removing the support that the disabled in this province need, and that's why people are frightened. Minister, they are frightened that you are not going to consult with them until you have made your decision and are ready to impose user fees on them the way you imposed user fees on the disabled and seniors of this province for prescription drugs. That's the kind of consultation, after the fact, that they are very concerned about.

I take it, from the fact that you will not give a categorical assurance that you're not going to charge user fees for the disabled, that their fears are well founded, that they have reason to be concerned that they are going to be facing user fees when you bring out your report. The other fear we've heard today and yesterday is from people who fear they're going to be denied any kind of support at all, because you're no longer going to consider them to be disabled as you change your definition. That's what the memorandum said. It talked about taking people off the list. It talked about limiting the amount of time people could get support.

Many of the people in the disabled community have already seen what's happened with the limitations that were placed on accessible transportation when the city of Toronto decided it had to find out how to kick the right people off the Wheel-Trans system, and the right people who got kicked off turned out to be kidney dialysis patients and stroke patients. They're very much afraid that's exactly what's going to happen to them.

Minister, I ask you to give these people the assurance; I ask you for another guarantee. Will you give a guarantee that your redefinition of the disabled is not going to result in a single person who is now receiving support as a disabled individual losing that support?

Hon Mrs Ecker: I'd be quite happy to confirm or deny policy decisions when those policy decisions are made, but as I said yesterday and as I say again today, we are going to continue to consult with the disabled community before we make final decisions. Are we developing proposals? Of course we are. We've been very clear about that for over the last year. Are we listening to what the disabled community has said? Are we considering the recommendations they have made? Absolutely.

For example, as I said, the advisory group on persons with disabilities talked about combining a new allowance with an income-tested allowance. We've got another quote from the Canadian National Institute for the Blind that suggested we have an income-based allowance. Those are recommendations. I think we should do them the courtesy of listening to those recommendations and of considering them. I would like very much to be able to confirm the policy details. I will be very pleased to do so after we've consulted and after we've made decisions.

Mrs McLeod: We had a consultation yesterday because our phones were ringing off the hooks with members of the disabled community who were calling to register their outrage with the kinds of proposals you are considering to charge user fees and to change the rules for who qualifies for disabled support.

Minister, if you had bothered to consult with members of the disabled community, if you had heard anything they have to say, these proposals would never have been on the table because they are an affront to the disabled community. I ask you, as you talk about consultation, can you name one disabled group or even one disabled individual, can you name anyone outside your own ministry, who has told you that you should impose user fees on the disabled? Can you name anyone who thinks the best way to serve the disabled is to change the rules and deny people support?

Hon Mrs Ecker: As I have said, we have not made any decisions. We have been listening to the message the disabled community has been telling us. We will continue to do that. I find it passing strange that the member across the floor, when she had her own little red book some time ago, made a commitment, "We will begin our reforms by taking those who are disabled from the welfare system and giving them income support," and those are the proposals we are developing.

I suggest that if the member opposite has concerns about what is happening, perhaps she may wish to direct some of her concern to her federal colleagues. In the Globe and Mail today, it is reported that when they are looking at the Canada pension plan reforms, on the benefit side the federal proposals would tighten CPP eligibility for the disabled. Perhaps she might wish to raise her concern with her federal colleagues in Ottawa.


Mrs Lyn McLeod (Leader of the Opposition): My second question is also to the Minister of Community and Social Services, but as I hear her responses and her professions of a willingness to consult on proposals that no one in the disabled community would ever consider giving support to, I worry how she will consult on the other area of responsibility in her ministry, and that is child care.

Minister, you have recently released a paper on child care reform, and in that paper you advocated less monitoring of licensed facilities, higher ratios for children as young as two years of age and lower wages for staff who are already paid poor salaries. Ironically, in this paper you also talk about the fact that funding for children's special needs is not responsive enough. I find it ironic because that's the same kind of individualized funding that Matthew Dolmage and other families receiving special services at home support need and that you are cutting.


But what I find most offensive about your child care paper, Minister, is the title: Improving Ontario's Child Care System. Virtually every recommendation in that report will have a direct impact on the quality of child care in this province, and it will not be positive. Minister, can you explain to me how lower wages for already poorly paid staff, higher teacher-child ratios and less monitoring will improve the quality of child care?

Hon Janet Ecker (Minister of Community and Social Services): Again I repeat, since the honourable member seems to keep raising it, we have not cut the funding for the special services at home program.

In regard to child care, again, I believe the honourable member, with all due respect, has misread the document very seriously. It is not a document about less monitoring of licensed centres. It is not a document about lower wages. It is not a document about somehow disturbing the quality in child care centres. It is a document, a report, that takes a very complex system that is a very necessary system, that takes the amount of funding that we have dedicated, the $600 million that we have set aside for child care, which is the largest amount that any government has dedicated to child care, and takes a look at how we can spend that money in the most effective way to protect child care support for the parents who need it, to protect the quality in the system, and to make sure that is done in a fair way and an equitable way for all the staff who are working in those programs.

Mrs McLeod: I'm not sure I have the memory for this, but I'm told that the last time this House talked about reducing child care standards in the province of Ontario, it was under the last Conservative government in 1975, when Margaret Birch was looking at increasing ratios and reducing standards. Twenty years later we have a new Tory government and we have the old fight back again.

Minister, one of the key initiatives in your paper, and I do not believe that I have misread it, is the reduction of $4,500 in the wages of child care staff. This will mean that the average wage of child care staff will go from $19,000 to $14,500. Minister, those figures come from the 1991 Canadian census data as well as from a survey done by early childhood educators.

You indicate, Minister, that you want to create more access, more subsidized spaces for the working poor. But do you really believe the way to provide additional supports to the working poor is to make child care workers working poor? And in what way, Minister, does lowering wages help to recruit the trained staff that we need for child care?

Hon Mrs Ecker: With all due respect, if the honourable member had read the report, the honourable member would know that the report does not recommend lowering wages for child care workers. The decision for child care workers in terms of what their salaries should be is a decision between the employers and the employees. It is not a decision for this government to be making. There are no cuts in that money. That money is not being taken out of the child care system. That money is staying in the child care system. If that proposal is accepted, that money will stay in the child care system through a stabilization grant equally and fairly --


The Deputy Speaker: I'm sorry. There's too much noise. There are too many questions being asked and there's too much. I can't hear the answer.

Hon Mrs Ecker: Perhaps the honourable member across the way is saying she supports the current way that those particular subsidies are delivered to the system. Where there are employees in the system who are getting very low wages, there are others who cannot pay those wages because there isn't that support for the entire system. We think it should be fair. That is the goal that we are doing; that is the objective that we are trying to achieve with these proposals.

We will be consulting with the child care community. I had spent many, many months consulting beforehand to get their feedback. These are proposals. We will be consulting again, because I would like to hear their feedback before we make any final decisions, and I stand by that commitment.

Mrs McLeod: I can tell the minister that I do indeed support wage enhancement programs which would bring the salaries of child care workers up to a reasonable level, because I believe it's important to have well-paid, trained child care workers dealing with our young children. I particularly believe it is important, when we have a government that has abandoned any kind of commitment to pay equity, that we have some program in place which ensures there is going to be some reasonable compensation for child care workers. It is you, Minister, in your proposals, who is taking that wage enhancement away in order to subsidize, supposedly, a greater number of spaces.

I believe you have simply ignored all the research that tells us that quality child care benefits children and poor- quality child care has a negative effect on child development. We need well-trained and well-paid staff in our licensed facilities.

I find it ironic that you are planning to use the money saved from cutting salaries to create 12,000 new subsidized spaces. In my view, that's a clear sacrifice of quality for quantity, but I don't believe you're even going to get the quantity. You failed to mention that as a direct result of your government's cut to municipalities, we are going to lose 9,000 subsidized spaces by December 1996. So we're going to end up without more quantity, just less quality. Do you not realize, Minister, that that's what we'll have, less quality and no more quantity?

Hon Mrs Ecker: I guess one of the things that many governments that have wrestled with the child care field have found is that whenever someone tries to address the problems that are in that system -- and I heard a lot about the problems in that system from every group involved, including the Ontario Coalition for Better Child Care -- any change is somehow a quality issue, whether it is or not. Quality is extremely important in this sector. That's why the proposals in this report talk about tougher licensing and tougher standards, because we believe quality is extremely important and that is something that parents expect.


Mr David Christopherson (Hamilton Centre): In the absence of the Minister of Labour, my question is to the government House leader. Minister, a couple of hours ago I received a copy of a leaked cabinet submission dated September 17 of this year in which your Minister of Labour is recommending that your government mount a major attack on the rights of injured workers in this province.

For example, in this cabinet submission there's a recommendation that billions of dollars be cut from the benefits that injured workers receive and that billions of dollars in benefits go to your rich corporate friends. In this recommendation, it also suggests that workers be denied the right to claim for chronic stress. That, of course, would push that problem on to the public-paid health system as well as pushing many injured workers on to the welfare system.

In fact, this cabinet submission recommends denying a worker's right to the confidentiality of their medical records. To add insult to injury, this cabinet submission suggests that the bill be tabled, read for a first time, have second reading, third reading and royal assent by the end of this year.

The Speaker (Hon Chris Stockwell): Question, please.

Mr Christopherson: Minister, you will know that that kind of time frame will not allow for proper province-wide public hearings that injured workers are entitled to. My question to you as the government House leader is, will you withdraw this? But assuming that this is your game plan, will you at least assure injured workers that they will be given an opportunity to have a say in this and guarantee there will be province-wide public hearings on this submission?

Hon David Johnson (Chair of the Management Board of Cabinet and Government House Leader): I'm not here to make any announcements on WCB reform, and the member opposite is not in a position to make any announcements either. What I will say is an obvious statement of fact, that Minister Jackson has reviewed this matter, has consulted with many involved in this field, has consulted extensively, has come forward with a report. The report has been considered by the minister.

I'll also say, to state the obvious again, that the workers' compensation system is a system that needs reform. There is a huge unfunded liability. The question is, how are injured workers served through a system that has a $12-billion unfunded liability? How do we serve the injured workers of tomorrow through a system that can't afford to give the kind of protection they think they deserve? How are the employers of the province of Ontario served by premiums that are among the highest in Canada, premiums that are higher than any other province other than the province of Newfoundland?

There will be reform to the workers' compensation system. The reform will be along the lines as outlined in the Jackson report, as outlined in the Common Sense Revolution, as we campaigned on during the election, and those reforms will come forward on a timetable announced by the minister.


Mr Christopherson: Minister, this is not speculation. This leaked cabinet submission is signed by the Minister of Labour. It says very clearly what you intend to do, and for the record, it goes beyond even the horrible things the Jackson report recommended.

In your response to me, you started outlining an argument of why things should change. In the absence of your colleague the Minister of Labour here to debate the issue with me, I'm calling upon you today, as the government House leader, to ensure that the injured workers of this province can engage in the very debate that you started right now. I ask you again -- you're the minister responsible for allowing legislative committees to go out on province-wide hearings -- will you deny, first of all, that this is going to happen, in which case I don't have a third question. But if you're not prepared to do that, will you at least guarantee the injured workers of this province that they will have their democratic say and that you will hold province-wide public hearings before you mount this attack on injured workers?

Hon David Johnson: Again I'll reassure the member that there will be reform, as we promised. There will be reform, and reform is overdue in the workers' compensation scheme.


The Speaker: Order, please.

Hon David Johnson: This is a system which does not have in its present form the financial stability and capability to defend and to pay --

Mr Peter Kormos (Welland-Thorold): All he's asking for is public hearings.

The Speaker: The member for Welland-Thorold.

Hon David Johnson: -- the injured workers in the years ahead. This is a system that is charging too-high premiums and killing jobs in the province of Ontario. So there will be reforms. I would also remind --


The Speaker: Order. I would ask the member for Welland-Thorold to withdraw that comment, please.

Mr Kormos: I withdraw it.

The Speaker: Thank you.

Hon David Johnson: I will also remind the member opposite that indeed, through the Jackson hearings that Mr Jackson held --

Mr Kormos: There were no hearings.

Hon David Johnson: Over 200 meetings. The minister has had over 200 meetings, and further, beyond those 200 meetings, many written submissions, and they involved injured workers, health workers, employers. They were very extensive, they were very comprehensive and they involved a wide range of individuals concerned about this matter.

Mr Christopherson: My point in pushing the issue of public hearings at this stage is because there's a track record with this government of not wanting and allowing democratic debate.

This is the government that owns Bill 26. This is the government that killed the royal commission on WCB reform, gave it to Jackson. He disappeared underground for a year holding private, secret meetings -- not public meetings, private secret meetings. This is the government that rammed through the anti-worker Bill 7 without one minute of public hearings.

This is the government that tried to ram through Bill 49, the amendments to the Employment Standards Act, which we forced into province-wide public hearings. As a result of that, you withdrew one of the more ugly aspects of what you were recommending after you'd said it was nothing but housekeeping. I might add that your own staff, when we were analysing this, offered up amendments, and when asked about them they agreed that yes, if they hadn't made those amendments, the law would be more confusing than it was before you introduced Bill 49.

So there's every reason in the world to hold province-wide public hearings, but the most important is that your track record of allowing a democratic voice is so tainted that the only trust people can have in what you do is if they get a chance to see it themselves and have a say for themselves.

My question to the minister is very straightforward, and has been from the first time I asked him. As a result of what's in this leaked cabinet document, as a result of your own disgusting track record in trying to muzzle democracy in this province, will you do the honourable thing and either assure us you won't do this, or guarantee us that workers will at least be allowed their democratic right to have a say and guarantee province-wide public hearings before you attack injured workers?

Hon David Johnson: I will say that this is a government concerned about the workers of the province of Ontario. This is a government which has brought forward measures to promote job creation in the province of Ontario. This is a government which has seen --


The Speaker: Order.

Hon David Johnson: -- the increase of some 150,000 new jobs in the economy of the province of Ontario over the last year. Those jobs, I might say, have come through a number of measures: through the repeal of Bill 40, the labour bill; through the reduction in the income tax; through the removal of red tape and, yes, through the reform of the workers' compensation system which is long overdue.

Injured workers realize that they must have a stable financial situation. They realize that you cannot have a system with an unfunded liability of some $16 billion. How can that support the injured workers of the future?

There will be reform in the system. There has to be reform in the system. Everybody realizes that. This is a government which has held about 200 meetings with injured workers, with health care workers, with employers. This is a government which has listened to all sides to this issue and realizes that reform must be brought forward for the good of the workers who will be here in the province of Ontario in future years.


Mr Gilles Bisson (Cochrane South): Mr Speaker, I'd like to congratulate you on your election this afternoon as Speaker of our House.

My question is to the Attorney General. Attorney General, repeatedly in this House you have come in and you've repeated over and over again that there's no problem in the FSP system, in light of your having fired 290 employees within the FSP system, with your having closed down the regional office of the FSP. You keep on saying there's no problems within the family support system.

I have a case within my riding that you say doesn't exist, and the case is quite simple. I have a father who's trying to make sure that his ex-wife and his children get the money they're entitled to through payments that he makes through his paycheque to her through the family support plan. You say those situations don't exist. But in this case, I've got Don Tremblay who has put a payment into the system that he has tried through August, September, and even his October payment to get over to his wife Elaine, and as a result of the changes you have made absolutely no money has gotten over to Elaine. She sits there now in Timmins having to borrow money from her family as best as she can to put food on the table for her kids, and is not able to pay the rent. What do you say to Elaine and her children?

Hon Charles Harnick (Attorney General, minister responsible for native affairs): The family support plan, as it is now known, as I indicated, had a difficulty some weeks ago. Those cheques have all been distributed and the family support plan at the present time is not holding any trust moneys on behalf of any individuals, save and except --


The Speaker (Hon Chris Stockwell): Order, please.

Hon Mr Harnick: -- moneys that are in the suspensory account. And the moneys that are in the suspensory account are at a level commensurate with the level they have traditionally been at. As a result of that --


The Speaker: Order, please.

Hon Mr Harnick: Mr Speaker, if they want to hear the answer I'm really happy to give it to them. The suspensory account right now contains moneys in it for cheques that cannot be identified. That account is at a level commensurate with the level that it has always been at --



The Speaker: Order. I would ask the members of the third party to please come to order. The minister is trying to answer the question. I appreciate the fact that you may not agree with his answer, but you've asked the question, please allow him to answer. Thank you.

Hon Mr Harnick: I can tell you, I can assure you because I check daily, the family support plan does not have any moneys in it that have not been distributed, save and except for moneys in the suspensory account. I would ask members to ensure that they urge their constituents to identify the cheques that they send to the family support plan so they can be transmitted as fast as possible. The cheques that are in the suspensory account are cheques that quite simply cannot be identified.

Ms Shelley Martel (Sudbury East): I say to the minister, don't you dare try to blame people who are sending cheques in for this problem. People who send their cheques in have been doing that on a regular basis. There has been no problem with these payments going to women and children who need it. That is the point we have been repeatedly trying to make in this House. As a result of your closing the offices and your laying off 290 staff, women and children who used to get support payments on a regular basis are now not and that's a fact.

I want to raise with you another case. Minister, you can shake your head all you want. You explain this case to me then. Jewell Brunette has been on the family support plan for a year now. She has a 10-year-old son. Up until your cuts in August, she received $585.92 on a monthly basis. Since your cuts in August, she has not received her September payment nor her October payment. She's now behind on one mortgage payment. She's supposed to make another mortgage payment tomorrow and she can't because she doesn't have any money.

I want you to explain to Jewell Brunette and other women and families like her why you're financing the tax cut on her back and other families across this province.

Hon Mr Harnick: The member for Sudbury East has given me a list of cases that were a problem and I have provided her with answers to those questions and satisfied her and satisfied myself.

Ms Martel: On a point of order, Mr Speaker: That is patently untrue. I had to give them to him today because there's no file numbers or names on the cases. We don't even know whom they belong to. How can you say that?

The Speaker: Order. Although you may see that as a point of order, it may be a point of difference, but it's not a point of order. I ask the Attorney General to continue and I would ask for order from the third party, please.

Hon Mr Harnick: I have tried to provide the member for Sudbury East with the details of the cases that she has indicated are outstanding. She understands because we had a brief discussion about the difficulty of providing file numbers and names unless she provides me with an authorization from the individuals to do so.

If she has further matters that she wants me to look into I am happy to do that. I am not going to try to answer individual questions. But I have endeavoured to provide her with the answers to the cases and I can tell you --


The Speaker: Order. I ask the member for Beaches-Woodbine -- I see that as very unparliamentary language. I ask her to withdraw.

Ms Frances Lankin (Beaches-Woodbine): If it's unparliamentary, I'll withdraw it. I don't recognize what's unparliamentary about it, but I'll withdraw it.

The Speaker: To the member for Beaches-Woodbine, I'll provide you with a list and I'm fairly certain you'll find that. Attorney General.

Hon Mr Harnick: If there are further items the member wants me to look at, I am happy to do that. But I have provided her with information as to the status of the cases and every one of them has been satisfied. I tell you that the problems that continue are problems that have existed with this plan from the beginning.

The Speaker: The member for London Centre.

Mrs Marion Boyd (London Centre): To the Attorney General: Minister, you keep claiming in this House that everything's okay with anything you've done. The reason you get cases every day is because your colleague the minister responsible for women's issues said, "Bring the cases to the minister and he'll explain them." Quite frankly, you keep telling us people have received money when we know they haven't. Yesterday you tried a magnificent damage control mechanism with your new family responsibility thing. There are many good things in that bill you presented yesterday, but what you didn't tell the people of Ontario and what you didn't tell the women who rely on the family support plan is about the mechanisms you've put into that bill to end their cases if they're hard or impractical for the FSP to continue to do.

It's absolutely outrageous that in your bill you suggest that arrears are uncollectible for a number of different reasons when the family support plan and even the SCOE plan over the last few years were able to do that. In your plan you say anything that is in arrears for a long period of time, and particularly before the SCOE plan came into place, will be considered uncollectible. You have put into your plan that no money can be collected from the estate of a deceased payor.

There are many different aspects of this which mean that you plan to make this plan look more efficient under your government by simply closing cases. Every time you close a case, it means that woman and those children do not get the support to which they're entitled. That encourages people to go on to welfare, because welfare is one of the ways you can close a case. It encourages people to evade payment, because then they will be declared to be uncollectible. You're doing this so that your pals at the Royal Bank don't have to spend too much money chasing down deadbeat dads.

The Speaker: Could I have the question, please, the member for London Centre.

Mrs Boyd: What mechanism are you going to put in place to make sure that all the cases, the most difficult cases, the ones that these plans were put in place for are not going to be closed by your director or, as the bill provides, the agency to which you are handing over the scheme, the Royal Bank? Shouldn't there be at least someone available to have a hearing if someone disputes this notion of your director or the agency to which you assign the case that it is uncollectible?

Hon Mr Harnick: I have a little difficulty taking a lecture from a person who was in charge of a plan that started out with $300 million in arrears but five years later those arrears had shot to $900 million. There wasn't a single, solitary move that they made while they were in government to permit the plan to have tools of collection to stop that escalating debt and to put money in the hands of women and children. I will stake the amendments we have made, which will give the plan --

Mr Bisson: On a point of order, Mr Speaker: The standing orders do say a minister or member is not able to mislead the House, and that is what the Attorney General is now doing in his statements.

The Speaker: I did not hear the member mislead the House. Go on, Attorney General.

Hon Mr Harnick: I will stake the enforcement tools we have put in that bill against anything they ever did as a government in terms of running the family support plan.


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


Mr Mike Colle (Oakwood): My question is to the Minister of Transportation. Yesterday, in response to a question from a member of your own party, the member for Muskoka-Georgian Bay --

Mr James J. Bradley (St Catharines): A lob ball question.

Mr Colle: It was a lob ball question, a staged question -- you stood up in this House and you praised the Rama express train that goes from Toronto up to Casino Rama and you talked about how this train was going to help solve the traffic mess that exists around Casino Rama. He asked you what you were going to do about this traffic crisis, this traffic mess up there.


How could you stand up in this House yesterday and say that this train was so great and had great ridership when the same day, yesterday, your own GO Transit was cutting off this train? Did they not ask you? Did you not ask them? What kind of credibility does that give you when you stood up yesterday saying this train was great and meanwhile they were cutting off the train at the same time?

Hon Al Palladini (Minister of Transportation): Mr Speaker, I would like to offer my congratulations on your election as Speaker.

I am disappointed -- and I guess there is a little bit of a solemn look on my face -- because of what really did happen. What I did say yesterday was that I wanted to commend CN and the Rama people and GO for putting something of this nature together to see how we could help alleviate the traffic problems we are indeed having. I am disappointed that for some reason it hasn't worked. I've got to give the parties that thought about it and tried to put it together -- I thought it was an excellent idea and I will still commend them for taking it up and trying it for two months.

I would like to follow up by saying to you that I'm going to take a look at the possibility, working with CN, to see if it might reconsider, along with the casino people and GO, because I believe it's a worthwhile service. Our highways cannot take that type of traffic jam. The area itself cannot take that traffic jam. I would like to encourage the motorists who elect to drive to reconsider and try the train, if we are able to put the service back together again, because it is a great ride.

Mr Colle: We just wonder what is happening in your ministry. You stood up here yesterday as the Minister of Transportation saying how great this train was. You said, "GO Transit, along with CN Rail and Casino Rama, have started a new train service...which has been well received." They've been telling you the train's working well, and all of a sudden your own GO Transit, which is one of the partners, is at the same time saying: "There's no ridership. The train is a disaster because there's no ridership."

Are you ever in contact with GO Transit? Did you ask them whether or not the train should be pulled? What is the answer? How will you now do something about this traffic disaster near the casino since you pulled the train, or GO Transit pulled the train without letting you know? Whom are we to believe now? GO Transit? You? What do we do now? There's no train.

Hon Mr Palladini: It was not GO Transit that hired the service; it was GO Transit that took the opportunity to utilize equipment that was sitting idle. It was clearly Casino Rama that took the initiative in working out a deal with CN. CN was the operator of this transit, not GO. It was CN that operated the train and it was GO Transit equipment that was transporting the people up there.


Mr Tony Silipo (Dovercourt): Mr Speaker, my congratulations to you on your election to the position of Speaker.

I have a question for the Minister of Municipal Affairs. I want to ask the minister about another leaked government document. There seems to be a pattern developing. This one is from the Ministry of Finance and it indicates that the government has already made the key decision regarding value-based province-wide reassessment of property taxes for 1998 and that the marching orders have been given. That is going on at the same time as Mr Crombie is supposedly out there consulting with people about exactly the very issue the government has already made up its mind on.

As if that wasn't bad enough, what we also know is that in this same government document there is no mention of any measures the government is going to take to ensure that people won't lose their homes and businesses as a result of this reassessment. Why are you charging ahead without saying what you'll do to help seniors, low-income people, tenants and the many other people who are going to be hit with big property tax increases and be seriously in danger of losing their homes and businesses?

Hon Al Leach (Minister of Municipal Affairs and Housing): Thank you very much, Mr Speaker, and my congratulations as well on your election. I'm sure you're going to do a fine job.

To the member opposite, this is really rather humorous. They'd better do something about their leaked documents, because I had a press conference to announce all that about July 13, where we announced that this government was accepting the Crombie recommendation to introduce a value-based system --

Mr Mike Colle (Oakwood): Market value. Say it, Al. Market value.

The Speaker (Hon Chris Stockwell): The member for Oakwood, come to order.

Hon Mr Leach: -- an actual value-based system to be implemented province-wide and updated on a regular annual basis. If that's the kind of leaked documents they've got, they're in big trouble.

Mr Silipo: I found it interesting that the minister refused to use the term "market value," which was in there. More important, he refused to answer the question I asked him, which was, what measures is he taking to ensure that seniors and other low-income people are not going to lose their homes and businesses? That's what's going to happen.

I want to ask the minister particularly about another aspect of these changes. The city of Toronto, for one, believes that your system of market value assessment will tax properties at the so-called highest and best use. As the minister will know, that means that if you have a property that's zoned, for example, for a big office tower but on which you only have a small grocery store, you're going to get taxed under your new system at the higher use. That is going to ruin thousands of small businesses.

Because the minister can clarify this right here and now, I would like to ask him to confirm clearly that his new tax system will not tax properties at their highest and best use but will only tax those properties at the actual use, what they're actually being used for -- not what they could be used for but what they are actually being used for. Will you commit to that, Minister?

Hon Mr Leach: I can assure the member that the Crombie panel has proposed and recommended mitigating strategies to ensure that the shift in taxes from the AVA system -- a very fair and balanced system that has been long needed in this province, that no other government has had the guts to introduce, but we're going to do it. We're going to make sure there's an opportunity to phase in any shifts in taxes. We're going to ensure that seniors are protected. We're going ensure that small business is protected. We're going to look at the taxes on businesses to make sure they're protected.

I can assure you that the system we're going to bring in, that will be introduced -- the assessors now out in the field undertaking those assessments are going to bring a fair and equitable system into the assessment system in the province of Ontario.


Mr Dan Newman (Scarborough Centre): Speaker, I want to begin by congratulating you on your election. I know you'll carry out the functions of the office of Speaker with both trust and dignity.

My question today is for the Minister of Education and Training. Almost two weeks ago the minister announced the beginning of a consultative process to reform Ontario's secondary schools. This is a major initiative which will impact every member of the Legislature, including you, Speaker. Would the minister please outline to the members what the secondary school reform consultations will be examining?

Hon John Snobelen (Minister of Education and Training): I want to thank the member for Scarborough Centre for the question. Before I address that, I think it's important that I straighten out for the record some comments earlier in the day in question period that may have inadvertently misled this House.

I was surprised somewhat -- I'm sure this is accidental, but I'm shocked when the Leader of the Opposition and the member for Algoma may have inadvertently misled this House by saying that I had suggested that the teachers in the province of Ontario were somehow overpaid or underworked. For the record, to be clear, I have never made that comment. In fact, I have never made a comment that was not encouraging to the hardworking teachers of the province and I'm glad to have a chance to straighten the record today.


Mr Bud Wildman (Algoma): On a point of order, Mr Speaker: You are well aware, as all members are, that a member can correct his own record. He cannot correct someone else's record.

The Speaker (Hon Chris Stockwell): The point of order is well taken, member for Algoma. It's also a well-recorded fact that a member can answer the question any way they choose.

Hon Mr Snobelen: I'm pleased that the member for Scarborough Centre has asked about our secondary school reforms, because I, like many of my colleagues, am very excited about what we can accomplish with our secondary school program in Ontario. I agree, as my colleagues do, with the two royal commission reports that have suggested that we go to a four-year program and meet the rest of the provinces in the country, and I'm glad to be doing that.

As we've said very clearly to the people of Ontario, we'll be looking for demanding and relevant curriculum for our students --

The Speaker: Answer, please.

Hon Mr Snobelen: I am answering, Mr Speaker, and I'm going as quickly as I possibly can, sir.

The Speaker: Okay, you're going to have to go quicker, I think.

Hon Mr Snobelen: I'm just dancing as fast as I can.

We're also interested in expanding or looking at expanding our co-op programs, which 60,000 students in Ontario now participate in. We're looking for high standards for those students who are going to university, but we're interested in the 70% of students who do not go to university or college after high school.

Mr Newman: Would the minister kindly inform the House as to how the consultative process will work and who will be invited to participate?

Hon Mr Snobelen: Unlike my colleague to my right, I have keen ears and was able to discern the question, so I won't ask the member for Scarborough Centre to repeat it. We are involved in a consultative process. We're looking for, of course, consultation from people who are active in the teaching profession, people who are active in the education community. We have received some of that in developing our secondary school program and our recommendations. Now we're looking to get input from parents and students across the province: what kind of education system they want; what kind of secondary school system they want; what improvements they see to grade 9; what kind of co-op they want; what kind of testing we should have in our secondary school program, and what should be the core curriculum.

So I'm very pleased that the member for Wentworth North has taken on the responsibility of getting in contact with parents. We have, I think, a variety of response numbers for that, we have a mail-in on the back of our information sheet that we've sent to parents, and we are actively seeking out the opinions of parents and students as to what kind of secondary school system they think will fit their needs.

Mr Frank Miclash (Kenora): My question is to the Minister of Education and Training as well. Minister, I indicated earlier on in the House today that I had been around speaking to a good number of teachers throughout the riding and throughout the north. I've been hearing a lot of comments regarding the way you're handling the education system and their unhappiness in the classroom.

But I think when it really hit home is when I spoke to a young person who I thought was the most dedicated teacher I have known since taking this job and in my previous job. She is a person every school would want, a person with a lot of energy, hardworking, a lot of enthusiasm, dedication. She loves children. She's that person who puts in that extra little bit, that extra little time after school.

Unfortunately, Minister, she has become terribly disheartened with the entire system. She looks at many things that face her today and she's actually losing her enthusiasm for teaching, citing such things as her classes being too large, a lack of support for students with special needs, a heavier workload and a frustration, a real frustration that she cannot provide the services to meet the needs of her students.

The Speaker: A question, the member for Kenora, please.

Mr Miclash: Minister, what do you have to say to a person like Barbara who, as I say, was one of the most dedicated people in the system but has lost that dedication today?

Hon Mr Snobelen: I want to thank the member opposite for the question. I notice that he says that a teacher he has talked to is disheartened with the system, and I can tell you I've spoken to a lot of teachers who would echo that comment. We have said all along that there's nothing wrong with the teachers in the province of Ontario, there's nothing wrong with the parents in the province of Ontario, there's nothing wrong with the students in the province of Ontario, but there are some problems with the system. So I would echo the comments of that teacher. In fact, I am disheartened with the system too. I'm disheartened when I hear comments about too large a class size when I know that we have more teachers in the province of Ontario versus students than any other province and yet we can't seem to manage to get that reflected in the classroom. I'm disheartened with that too.

I can assure the member opposite that we are doing everything we can to make sure that the quality of education in Ontario is not only protected but enhanced.

Mr Miclash: Minister, let's make it very clear. You have created this problem. You have created the problem that many teachers -- maybe this is the crisis you were looking for. I'm going to send over Barbara's phone numbers, send you her phone numbers at work and home. She wants to talk to you directly. Would you have the courtesy to call Barbara up and find out what the problems are that she cites that you have created for her in the classroom today?

Hon Mr Snobelen: I can assure the member opposite that I have talked to and spoken with teachers right across this province. I think the member opposite knows that. I think he knows that I have been in virtually every area in this province and have been to the students. If we can arrange a telephone call with a teacher, I'm always, always pleased to make that kind of call.


Ms Marilyn Churley (Riverdale): My question is for the Minister of Environment. We recently learned that the consolidated hearings board has given approval for ICI Canada to dump 3.4 billion litres of waste water into the St Clair River, 3.4 billion litres of contaminated water, despite the objections of Walpole First Nation. The chief is quoted as saying, "We will not tolerate the destruction of our lands and the threat to the health of our people."

It's my understanding this water that is to be released contains phosphate, fluoride, ammonia and suspected and known carcinogens. Because I may only have time for one question, I'll ask you now --

The Speaker (Hon Chris Stockwell): It doesn't work that way, member for Riverdale.

Ms Churley: I should know that.

Minister, can you explain to the House why your ministry argued before the board that 3.4 billion litres of contaminated waste water should be released into the St Clair River, and will you go to cabinet and have that decision overturned?

Hon Norman W. Sterling (Minister of Environment and Energy): I am happy to respond to that. The fact of the matter is that there are various levels of contamination involved in all waste water. I understand there was a hearing process associated with this particular water, and considering the volume of the river to which this was being discharged, this technical committee recommended that discharge was okay.

I want to know from the member whether we should have advisory boards and hearing processes and technical people advising the minister and then have the minister reject that advice out of hand. I guess that's what the member would like the Minister of Environment to engage in.

I believe that I as a minister am responsible for setting the policy, for setting the discharge requirements and then allowing the technical community to have their say, but that if there is a hearing and there is a decision brought forward, I should support that decision in most cases.

Ms Churley: Minister, let me remind you first of all that it was you and your government who killed the Clean Up Rural Beaches program. You did that. I don't know what you said at the cabinet table, but the previous minister did that.

Minister, you have talked quite a bit, since you were appointed, a good line about protecting the environment, but the reality of your actions, and this proves it today, doesn't even come close to your words.

Think about the cumulative effects of these toxic products in the waste water. Think of the effect its going to have on that river and therefore the health of the people. I am going to ask you again to look into this case and go to cabinet and ask cabinet to overturn it. It is a bad decision for the environment. You have talked a good line since you were appointed to this position, and I ask you today to put your money where your mouth is and have this decision overturned.

Hon Mr Sterling: I will always pay respect to members of this Legislature and their concerns about the environment and will be glad to look at this file again. On my first blush of looking at this file, I was impressed by the process that had been gone through with regard to this matter. I was assured by this technical panel that in fact this discharge was well within the limits that have been set by previous governments for these kinds of discharge.



Hon David Johnson (Chair of the Management Board of Cabinet and Government House Leader): Mr Speaker, I have a statement with regard to weekly business next week.

Pursuant to standing order 55, I wish to indicate the business of the House the week of October 7.

Monday, October 7, we hope to complete second reading of Bill 79, which is the Courts Improvement Act. On Tuesday, October 8, we will begin second reading of Bill 81, the Fewer Politicians Act. On Wednesday, October 9, we hope to complete second reading of Bill 81, the Fewer Politicians Act. On Thursday, October 10, we will debate third reading of Bill 75, the Alcohol, Gaming and Charity Funding Public Interest Act.



Mr Monte Kwinter (Wilson Heights): Mr Speaker, I want to congratulate you on your election.

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;

"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 Toby Barrett (Norfolk): Mr Speaker, congratulations on your election.

I have another set of petitions from legal owners and users of firearms who are concerned about ammunition restrictions.

"Whereas the NDP government under former Premier Bob Rae passed legislation, Bill 181, the Ammunition Regulation Act, which placed 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;

"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 for homes with firearms;

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

"Whereas Bill 181 will do nothing to combat the illegal uses of ammunition;

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

I sign and support this petition.


Mr Mike Colle (Oakwood): Mr Speaker, congratulations on your election.

This petition is about dangerous high-collision intersections.

"Whereas there are a number of dangerous high-collision intersections throughout Metropolitan Toronto and Ontario;

"Whereas a pilot project installing photo-radar-type cameras would help monitor these dangerous intersections and act as a deterrent;

"Whereas photo-radar camera monitoring systems have worked well in Australia and other jurisdictions improving safety;

"Whereas the provincial government is using a photo-radar-type camera on the new 401 tollway to collect tolls;

"Whereas the increase in traffic and the growing disregard for speed limits and traffic laws is the cause of grave concern to pedestrians, cyclists and safe motorists alike;

"Whereas funding for extra policing is not available and very limited considering the great number of demands on the police;

"We, the undersigned, petition the Legislature of Ontario as follows:

"That the provincial Solicitor General support the installation of photo-radar-type cameras as pilot projects at Metropolitan Toronto's 10 most dangerous intersections and at various other dangerous intersections throughout the province."

I affix my name to this petition.


Mr Tony Silipo (Dovercourt): I have a petition signed by over 100 people, workers represented by the Canadian Union of Postal Workers in Ottawa, Woodstock, Guelph, Welland and Port Colborne, that reads as follows:

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

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

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

I support this petition and have affixed my signature to it.


Mr Dan Newman (Scarborough Centre): I have a petition here signed by 71 residents of Scarborough Centre who live at 130 Bellamy Road North. It's a petition regarding co-op housing. It's in the correct format and I'm presenting it on their behalf.


The Deputy Speaker (Mr Bert Johnson): The Chair recognizes the member for Yorkview.

Mr Mario Sergio (Yorkview): Mr Speaker, I was going to say congratulations on your election. I wish you had run -- who knows? But you're looking very good.

On behalf of residents in my riding, I wish to submit a petition which is addressed to the Legislative Assembly of Ontario, and I'm going to read it as follows:

"Whereas the government is intent on cutting educational funding so that children are denied their basic right to quality education; and

"Whereas the government cuts to day care facilities restricts parents' access to affordable and decent child care programs within the province; and

"Whereas the Harris government is intent on abolishing rent controls, and the rent-geared-to-income program, which provides decent housing for low- and middle-income tenants, consisting of 40% seniors, 42% families and 18% special needs and disabled tenants; and

"Whereas the government has introduced user fees on basic necessities such as prescriptions, medication for seniors, textbooks for school children and essential services like firefighting and policing; and

"Whereas the cuts to services will impact upon everything from public transit to borrowing library books; and

"Whereas the government has seen fit to abandon job training programs and failed to create a formal job strategy for the province despite continually high unemployment;

"We, the undersigned, petition the Legislative Assembly and the Mike Harris government to live up to their promises of protecting rent control, not introducing user fees, and creating over 725,000 jobs in the province."

I concur with the content of the petition and I will add my name to it.


Mr James J. Bradley (St Catharines): I have a petition that reads as follows:

"Whereas the Progressive Conservative Party of Ontario promised not to cut one penny from health care; and

"Whereas the Mike Harris government has proceeded to cut over one billion much-needed dollars from community hospitals; and

"Whereas the people of St Catharines have come to rely upon the caring professional service provided by health caregivers at the General Hospital, the Shaver Hospital and the Hotel Dieu Hospital, and who view this betrayal by the Mike Harris government as an attack on quality health care services in the Niagara region; and

"Whereas the residents of St Catharines do not accept the notion that any of its hospitals should be closed, because they are essential in order to maintain a caring and humane society;

"We, the undersigned, petition the Legislature of Ontario as follows:

"That the Ontario government keep their election promise and restore health care spending to the level at which they promised during the last election campaign, so that all three St Catharines hospitals are able to continue to provide their much-needed valuable services."

I affix my signature to this petition and hand it to Trevor (Buzz) Nelson of Ferndale School in St Catharines.



Mrs Marion Boyd (London Centre): I have a petition to the Legislative Assembly of Ontario:

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

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

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

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

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

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

This is signed by a number of people from London, in my riding, and I am proud to affix my signature.


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

«Attendu que des soins de garderie 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 ont des bonnes conditions de travail fournissent des soins pour enfants de très haute qualité ;

"Whereas the best child care system, for all children, is one that is accessible, affordable and regulated for quality; and

"Whereas recent cuts to child care are destabilizing the entire child care system in Ontario;

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

«Que tous les financements publics pour les soins de garderie soient remis en place, incluant les contributions, les fonds capitaux et les subventions opérationnelles ;

"That all existing commitments regarding wage subsidies, pay equity, grants, and any other funding programs and/or policies that help to stabilize high-quality child care for children and families in the province of Ontario be retained;

«Que des audiences publiques soient tenues dans le cadre de la revue des services de garderie.»

J'y ajoute ma signature.


Mr Bruce Crozier (Essex South): Speaker, you must have been a teacher. I think you have eyes in the back of your head.

I have a petition on lottery machines 6/49.

"Whereas the government of Ontario has a responsibility to regulate the distribution of lottery machines; and

"Whereas the lottery machines are distributed under the rules and regulations outlined under the Ontario Lottery Corp; and

"Whereas small independent operators are routinely discriminated against by the Ontario Lottery Corp because they lack the power and influence of large corporations;

"We, the undersigned, petition Premier Harris and the government of Ontario to consider revising the rules set out by the Ontario Lottery Corp to provide small independent operators with the opportunity to obtain lottery machines 6/49."


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;

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

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

I've affixed my signature to it.


Mr Mario Sergio (Yorkview): I have a further petition from the residents of my riding. They are extremely concerned with the possibility of rent controls being eliminated. It is addressed to the Legislative Assembly of Ontario and reads as follows:

"Whereas the government of Ontario has announced its intention to remove rent controls from apartments that become vacant so that landlords can charge whatever rent they want; and

"Whereas the government's proposed law will eliminate rent control on new buildings and allow landlords to pass on repair bills and other costs to tenants; and

"Whereas the government's proposal will make it easier for landlords to demolish buildings and easier to convert apartments to condominiums; and

"Whereas due to the zero vacancy rate in Metro Toronto the removal of rent control will cause extreme hardship for seniors and tenants on fixed incomes and others who cannot afford homes;

"We, the undersigned, petition the Legislative Assembly of the province of Ontario to keep the existing system of rent control."

I do concur with the content of the petition and I will affix my signature to it.


Mr James J. Bradley (St Catharines): This petition is addressed to the government of Ontario.

"Whereas the government of Ontario appears to be moving towards the privatization of retail liquor and spirits sales in the province; and

"Whereas the LCBO provides a safe, secure and controlled way of retailing alcoholic beverages; and

"Whereas the LCBO provides the best method of restricting the sale of liquor to minors in Ontario; and

"Whereas the LCBO has an excellent program of quality control of the products sold in its stores; and

"Whereas the LCBO provides a wide selection of product to its customers in modern, convenient stores; and

"Whereas the LCBO has moved forward with the times, sensitive to the needs of its customers and its clients; and

"Whereas the LCBO is an important instrument for the promotion and sale of Ontario wine and thereby contributes immensely to the grape growing and wine producing industry;

"Therefore, be it resolved that the government of Ontario abandon its plan to turn over the sale of liquor and spirits to private liquor stores and retain the LCBO for this purpose."

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



Mr Tilson, on behalf of Mr Harnick, moved second reading of the following bill:

Bill 79, An Act to improve Ontario's court system, to respond to concerns raised by charities and their volunteers and to improve various statutes relating to the administration of justice / Projet de loi 79, Loi visant à améliorer le système judiciaire de l'Ontario, à répondre aux préoccupations exprimées par les oeuvres de bienfaisance et leurs bénévoles, et à améliorer diverses lois relatives à l'administration de la justice.

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

Mr David Tilson (Dufferin-Peel): I would like to make a few comments with respect to second reading of this bill.

It gives me great pleasure to rise today to start off the opening debate on second reading of Bill 79, which I've indicated is called the Courts Improvement Act, 1996.

This bill has four purposes which I will list for you:

It amends the Courts of Justice Act to provide for the appointment of case management masters and makes consequential amendments to other acts.

It amends the Courts of Justice Act to change the names of Ontario courts.

It changes the regulation-making power in the Charities Accounting Act from the Lieutenant Governor in Council to the Attorney General on the recommendation of the public guardian and trustee. It also permits the making of regulations which will relieve charities of the time and expense of obtaining court approval for non-controversial issues.

Finally, the fourth purpose of this bill is that it makes housekeeping and other minor amendments to the Courts of Justice Act and the Children's Law Reform Act.

The main purpose of this bill, as we know, is to set the stage for greater efficiency in Ontario's civil courts, indicating, as I have said, that it allows for the expansion of case management, which is a proven method of handling cases faster and at less cost.


It renames the Ontario courts to make their status and function more recognizable to the public. This bill, as I've indicated, gives charities more flexibility in their affairs and increases their capacity to attract volunteers.

These and other legislative changes in Bill 79 are consistent with the government's goal of making Ontario's justice system more accessible and more effective. They support our government's effort to get rid of red tape that harms more than it helps. Most important, Bill 79 helps the government deliver better-managed and more effective civil justice services. A well-functioning civil justice system is important to businesses. They need to be sure that they can resolve their disputes with a minimum of time and cost. This is a prime consideration in their search for places in which to invest and create jobs.

Therefore Bill 79 fits into our government's plans to create an environment which will attract more jobs to this province. It fits into our goal to increase public confidence in the civil justice system by ensuring that it operates at maximum efficiency and better meets the needs of the public. With this bill we are taking the first big step towards lasting improvements in Ontario's civil courts.

The Attorney General would like to acknowledge up front that Bill 79 continues initiatives begun by both previous governments, going back to the Liberals in the late 1980s. Indeed, a key source for the bill's civil court amendments is the first report of the Civil Justice Review established by the NDP government in 1994.

This group of judges, the Ministry of the Attorney General officials and representatives from the bar and the public have thoroughly investigated the strengths and weaknesses of Ontario's civil justice system. Their recommendations have been both practical and visionary. Our government has openly acknowledged the great contribution of the Civil Justice Review and has supported its members in the implementation of their key recommendations.

I have listed the four purposes of the bill and I'd like to spend some time in elaborating on those four issues.

The first purpose of the bill is providing case management masters. The bill amends the Courts of Justice Act to set out rules for appointing, paying and supervising case management masters. To explain the role of these new officials I wish to give a brief description of case management.

Case management is where a team of judges reviews civil cases to find out early in the process what the essential issues are. The judges then take the steps that will most efficiently and effectively resolve the dispute. We have tested case management in Ontario and find that it moves cases faster through the system, saving the courts and the parties in the case both time and money. Our findings agree with results in other jurisdictions.

Ontario's case management masters will be appointed by order in council for seven years, with three-year intervals. Their primary duties will be threefold: to hear motions, to preside at pre-trials and settlement conferences and to make sure that cases are proceeding according to the time lines set out by new case management rules.

To start with we expect to create these positions in areas of high civil caseload: Toronto, Ottawa and Windsor. Case management masters are a key initiative to the business plan for the Ministry of the Attorney General, our efforts to improve the administration of justice and to find innovative ways to deliver service. Furthermore the savings the courts will generate from greater use of case management will be used to pay for the new masters. Therefore the new positions will not create new costs for Ontario taxpayers.

The second purpose is to amend the Courts of Justice Act to change the names of Ontario courts. The General Division will now be known as the Superior Court of Justice. The Provincial Division will now be known as the Ontario Court of Justice. Both courts will be symbolically linked by an overarching court called the Trial Court of Ontario, what was formerly called the Ontario Court of Justice. These changes do not affect the structure of the courts in any way.

There has been some negative media coverage about the fact that we propose to change the names of the courts, but really, we believe there is no issue. Back in 1989, when the Liberal government pushed through court reform, the name Ontario Court (General Division) was clearly intended to be temporary. It was understood at that time that the name would eventually be dropped, as all trial courts and civil, family and criminal were merged and we would end up with one trial court, the Ontario Court of Justice.

That was the plan. However, two problems emerged. First, the Liberal government found out there could be no merging of the criminal and trial courts without extensive reform of the Criminal Code and the federal government at that time was not ready to go that far. The second problem was that in changing times the Liberals put Ontario out of step with the rest of the country. It's been a long-standing Canadian tradition to clearly differentiate the levels of court by their names. The name General Division conveyed no information to the public; not only that, it tended to devalue the status of the court itself.

The changes under Bill 79 make the designation of the courts clear and restore some of the recognition that this province's courts deserve.

In addition to changing the names of the courts, Bill 79 allows all judges in the province, whether provincially appointed or federally appointed, to be called justices. This was another part of the Liberals' court reform plan that was not enacted. Judges will now be called Mr or Madam Justice. The Chief Judge will be known as the Chief Justice of the Ontario Court of Justice. The associate chief judges will become Associate Chief Justice of the Ontario Court of Justice.

We think the changes in court and judicial designation under Bill 79 are timely. In essence, these are promises that have been made to the judiciary in the past but were never fulfilled. Fulfilling these promises is our government's way of acknowledging the great contribution Ontario's judges have made to the quality of justice in this province.

The third purpose I have indicated is changing the regulation-making power in the Charities Accounting Act from the Lieutenant Governor in Council to the Attorney General on the recommendation of the public guardian and trustee.

This particular issue we believe will be of great interest to service clubs and charitable groups and organizations that provide volunteer work in this great province, all over. It has caused great concern to the volunteers and directors of those organizations that provide work for those organizations. We believe Bill 79 will make it easier for charities to administer their affairs.

Right now a charity that wants to pay for directors' liability insurance must actually go to court for approval. They have to hire a lawyer; they have to fill out all the paperwork that's required to go to a judge to obtain that approval. All of that is timely. It's timely for the judicial process, it's costly to the charities and the organizations, and really, it's most inappropriate and causes great difficulties. In fact we expect there is a whole slew of directors from charitable groups around this province that simply aren't aware of it.


The same process applies if the charity wants one of its beneficiaries to serve on the organization's board of directors. These are simple non-controversial matters that charities should not have to deal with by going to court. Doing so is a waste of time and resources for the charities themselves and for the courts. Not only that, it discourages people from giving their time to these organizations, and I think that is one of the most important issues of this initiative. We're trying to encourage people to volunteer their time and to cause them less cost from going through this whole process of having to go to court for approval for directors' liability, and other volunteers who provide assistance to these organizations.

This one issue is a prime example of overregulation of government rules that create great problems in this province and certainly do not address the modern business problems and demands faced by charitable organizations. They spend a great deal of time trying to raise money and doing the benefits for all kinds of worthwhile things in this province, and to be saddled with this obligation of having to go to court to get approval for directors' liability insurance is most inappropriate.

The Red Tape Review Commission has rightly concluded that these rules constitute more of a hindrance than a help. With Bill 79, we will remove the need for charities to get court approval to give certain benefits to volunteer directors. We will also modernize the rules for recordkeeping and the management of special funds. We will develop regulations to govern these activities.

After this bill becomes law, it will be clear that when a charity is ready to undertake any of these activities, it can simply comply with the regulation instead of going to court for approval.

The public guardian and trustee will advise the government on new regulations that work best after consultation with the legal community and the charitable sector.

I can say that even in my own community, organization after organization has been asking for this, and it's a request that I think will be received well around the province.

There are a number of minor housekeeping amendments, which is the fourth and final purpose of the bill, which make amendments to the Courts of Justice Act and the Children's Law Reform Act.

The bill allows Ontario to abolish a $3,000 judicial allowance given only to federal judges appointed before 1990 who have not elected supernumerary status. The Liberal government curtailed these payments, and the NDP went further but stopped short of eliminating them entirely. We now have in Ontario a bench where half of the judges of equal standing receive this payment and the other half don't.

The federal government has long disapproved of this practice, and with reason: It is out of line with what happens in most other provinces. Only one other province still makes this payment. The allowance was originally intended as compensation for some duties that were seen as extrajudicial. These duties are no longer viewed in the same way. Abolishing this allowance will save a significant amount of money, funds that could be used to support other improvements in the justice system. In addition, it will support the federal government's desire for country-wide uniformity in the salaries that they pay superior court judges.

Other minor amendments under Bill 79 include clarification of the appeal route from the new family court and correction of drafting and other language errors. Bill 79's housekeeping amendments allow special advisory committees for courts to meet as needed instead of quarterly. This gives the committee greater flexibility to deal with issues the court system faces as it goes through rapid change.

Those are the four main purposes of Bill 79. I believe the House will receive them well. I would indicate that the main thrust of the bill has to do with trying to make the justice system move faster, more efficiently and more economically, and that the appointment of case management masters is a process that has been well received and, we believe, will solve many of the problems that now exist.

The first report of the Civil Justice Review, issued in March 1995, recommended that case management be introduced on a province-wide basis for all civil cases. The Civil Justice Review is composed, as I've indicated, of members of the judiciary, the ministry, lawyers and the public. The Civil Justice Review recommendations are similar to recommendations included in a report by Lord Woolf to the Lord Chancellor in England in August 1996. Lord Woolf at that time concluded, "Case management is a fundamental reform necessary to improve the efficiency of the civil justice system and lower cost to litigants."

The Civil Justice Review recommended that a new judicial office, called "judicial support officer," be created to support case management. The ministry has worked closely with the Chief Justice of Ontario (General Division) in creating this new office, which has been renamed "case management master." Case management masters require more active involvement of judges to manage cases through the various stages of litigation. Case management masters will assist judges in carrying out monitoring and the management of civil cases. The case management masters are term appointments. Their term can only be renewed by the Chief Justice of Ontario.

In conclusion, I would like to emphasize that without Bill 79 we cannot continue to implement case management, and without case management our civil courts will be continually plagued by backlogs and delays. All of the parties of this House, going back to the Liberal governments of the 1980s and the NDP government, have shown a commitment to case management. We owe it to the individuals and the companies that use the civil courts to ensure passage of this legislation. Many of their representatives have given of their time and ideas in the development of these amendments. We plan to continue consulting with these individuals and organizations, and with members in this House, on the implementation of these changes.

Mr Speaker, it being almost 6 of the clock, I would ask that we adjourn this debate.

The Deputy Speaker: It being 6 o'clock, this House stands adjourned until 1:30 o'clock next Monday.

The House adjourned at 1759.