36th Parliament, 1st Session

L104 - Mon 7 Oct 1996 / Lun 7 Oct 1996














































The House met at 1331.




Mr Michael Gravelle (Port Arthur): Three days ago the Health Services Restructuring Commission returned to Thunder Bay to swing its axe and render its final verdict on hospital closures in our region. The result? Shattered dreams, certainly for those of us who believed that a new acute care hospital was vital for our area to lead us into the future; anger at a commission clearly following orders from the health minister, whose main goal was to remove $40 million annually from health care in our community regardless of the consequences; fear for those of us who know that our hospitals, already working at full capacity, must remove half of their acute care beds within three years; and further anxiety because of the commission's virtual dismissal of the long-term-care needs in our community.

Now we have learned that the health minister will not be gracing us with his presence today. Clearly he's avoiding us because of the fact that his restructuring commission's only job is to skip across the province and take $1.3 billion our of our hospitals, all this motivated by the need to find $5 billion for a tax cut nobody wants any more.

Nothing is more important to the people in Thunder Bay and our region than health care. The decision last week was flawed in many respects and will not look after the health care needs of our citizens. I promise you that we will fight this government for more than it has left us. All of us on all sides of the House cannot rest until this government's senseless destruction of our future is stopped.

I ask the Premier to answer one question I was asked this past weekend: When you finish this process, where will the sick people go?


Ms Marilyn Churley (Riverdale): This government has shut the two and a quarter million people of Metro Toronto out of a critical decision-making process that involves the future of education for their children. Alarmingly, the Minister of Education's subpanel on education financing includes no one from Metro Toronto. This is the group that may well recommend raiding Metro's coffers to fund other school boards across the province. Why has Ann Vanstone, chair of the Metropolitan Toronto School Board, not been included on this panel? Is it because she might say something the government doesn't want to hear?

Among the many who have concerns with this government's direction in education are the many active members of the parent-staff association of Frankland Community School in my riding of Riverdale. They're deeply concerned, as I am, not only about the lack of Metro representation, but also about the mandate and time line this government has given the subpanel to come up with recommendations on overhauling education finance.

The minister also released, on September 19, a discussion paper entitled Meeting Students' Needs. The deadline for the response is today. This paper speaks of massive changes to the way we fund our education, including funding for children with special needs. His lack of meaningful consultation with parents and leaders in the education field makes a mockery of our democratic system.

The minister muses about creating a crisis. Let me assure him he's on the right track here. He's creating more crises than he can shake a stick at and no amount of public relations jargon will be able to save him.


Mr Bert Johnson (Perth): As the Minister of Economic Development, Trade and Tourism mentioned at the opening of this session, there has been more good news for the riding of Perth. I'd like to take this opportunity to share it with you.

On Monday, September 23, the town of Listowel and the province of Ontario were pleased to announce that Moriroku Co Ltd of Japan will invest $16 million in a 125,000-square-foot injection moulding plant that will employ 80 people. Construction of the new plant will begin in October of this year and is scheduled for completion in May 1997. It's projected that by the year 2001, the plant will employ 140 workers. The new plant will be called Listowel Technology Inc and will initially manufacture parts for Honda of Canada.

This is not the first good news announcement that I have made on behalf of the people of the county of Perth, and I do not see it as being the last. This government's policies and practices are showing the world that Ontario is once again becoming a prosperous place. For the people of Ontario, that means the government is doing what it promised: returning jobs, hope and opportunity to Ontario.


Mr Rick Bartolucci (Sudbury): I rise today to share with the House, and more specifically the Minister of Health, the results of a public opinion poll conducted in Sudbury by the Sudbury Star on health services restructuring in Sudbury.

The results of this survey are not surprising. An overwhelming majority of Sudburians are fearful of the government-controlled Health Services Restructuring Commission's ill-fated decision to remove two of our three acute care hospitals from our community.

I want to tell the Minister of Health that the survey found that an astonishing 83% of respondents believe the one-hospital plan will result in a deterioration of health care services. Only 5% believe that this new system will be an improvement. Reactions from those surveyed ranged from disbelief to sadness to anger, all aimed at the Big Blue Tory bulldozer that ransacked our entire community.

Here are just some of the comments of residents surveyed in our community: "Emergency services will deteriorate"; "Service will decline"; "The community will suffer"; "Too far too fast"; "We'd better not get sick."

Sudburians and I understand that the hospital system needed some adjusting. The local district health council recommended a two-hospital site. The Minister of Health agreed to support the DHC's recommendation and then, in an about-face, Tory-like move, reneged on his written commitment.


Mr Peter Kormos (Welland-Thorold): Speaker, the joy about your election down in Niagara was overcome with shadow by a crisis that's looming there, a crisis that quite frankly has its origins right here in Mike Harris's Tory Queen's Park.

CUPE Local 1287 members have been on strike since September 3. These are the 650 regional workers down in Niagara who provide public services like water treatment and sewage treatment and day care and home care and social services and road maintenance.

The strike hasn't been about money. It's been about preserving valuable quality and affordable public services. I tell you, the taxpayers of regional Niagara are paying, because right now the cost is higher to keep these people out on their picket lines than it would have been had the region accepted their last offer. In fact, the support for this dispute and this work stoppage on the part of those CUPE workers is overwhelming: 97% rejection of the last regional Niagara offer.

Its origins are in Queen's Park because, rather than a made-in-Niagara solution that the workers in CUPE 1287 are eager to participate in, the administration at regional Niagara is insisting on imposing a made-at-Queen's Park, a Harris Tory resolution, which means more privatization, more job loss, lower quality and more paying for taxpayers. It's time to put an end to that.



Mr Jim Flaherty (Durham Centre): I'd like to inform my honourable colleagues in this chamber today about Ontario Foot Health Week which takes place this week, from October 7 to 12, 1996.

This annual event, aimed at educating the public and promoting better foot health, is sponsored by the Ontario Society of Chiropodists. This is an association of foot care professionals, many of whom are trained right here in Ontario, as opposed to podiatrists, who are trained in the United States.

Chiropodists provide consultative, orthotic and soft tissue surgical care to many thousands of Ontarians each year. They number over 200 all across the province and can be found in nearly every village and town, from Kenora to Prescott to Pelee. They are our neighbours and friends, yet it is a relatively unknown profession.

Chiropodists practise in hospital clinics, where they are partially funded by OHIP, and in private practice on a pay-as-you-go basis. The principal difference between chiropodists and podiatrists in Ontario, which is the only jurisdiction in North America to make the distinction, is that chiropodists may only perform minor surgical operations.

I know my honourable colleagues will join me in congratulating these foot care professionals on a job well done during Foot Health Week.


Mr James J. Bradley (St Catharines): The Conservative government of Mike Harris has dealt a major blow to the amateur sports community in Ontario with yet another drastic cut in funding to all sports and the complete abandonment of 26 sports organizations.

It was apparent last week, when I asked the Minister of Citizenship, Culture and Recreation to disassociate herself from the comments of her parliamentary assistant, Tony Clement, MPP for Brampton South, who had said, "Amateur sports groups in Ontario are welfare recipients who have to be taken off the dole," that her so-called new strategy would amount to a virtual end to significant support for amateur sports groups in our province.

Yet another segment of our society has been sacrificed to finance a 30% income tax cut that will benefit the most wealthy to the greatest extent.

Thousands of youngsters who participate in healthy, constructive athletic activities previously supported by the recreation ministry, along with thousands of volunteers who willingly assist amateur athletes, have been abandoned by the Harris government. If the present trend continues under the unfair and unwise sports policy of the Conservative Harris government, only children of the rich and influential will be in a financial position to participate in athletic activities, with the implications for health and social wellbeing of the people of Ontario now obvious.


Mr Rosario Marchese (Fort York): "Homelessness" is a word we will be hearing a lot of in the coming months. This word is also synonymous with "hopelessness."

Last week the Toronto Coalition Against Homelessness held a press conference here at Queen's Park. It is estimated that there are between 25,000 to 50,000 homeless people living on the streets of Metropolitan Toronto. This figure in my view, and it should be the view of many, is a shocking statistic.

In July this year a coroner's jury investigating the deaths of three homeless men recommended that an advisory committee be struck to identify successful models of affordable and supportive housing and develop a plan of action to ensure that the homeless, in particular those with substance abuse and mental illness, have access to appropriate housing and support services, and that funding should be provided by the appropriate government ministries to carry out this plan.

Sadly to date, these recommendations have not been acted upon. The days are getting colder, and I urge the Minister of Housing in particular, as well as many other ministers, to study those recommendations and deal with the problem now before more people die of hypothermia on the streets this fall and this winter.


Mr R. Gary Stewart (Peterborough): I rise in the House to recognize and honour National Family Week, which begins today and runs until October 13.

This year's National Family Week theme urges us to celebrate the strengths and importance of family and what they mean to each of us. The family unit is pivotal to a strong and developing community. This week we are encouraged to rediscover the many ways that families support and help their members. We should all be encouraged to stop and reflect on what families are all about. Families are about caring, families are about nurturing, and families are about supporting and developing the potentials of all of their members. Families are the backbone of our lives and of our communities.

Let me congratulate and honour all of my constituents who are celebrating National Family Week. I encourage all members to participate and celebrate the many strengths and benefits that families bring to our lives not only during this recognized week but every day of the year.

Mrs Lyn McLeod (Leader of the Opposition): On a point of order, Mr Speaker: I wanted to make a point of order under standing order 33(a). You'll be aware of course that standing order 33(a) falls under the rules of orders that are set out in the standing orders of the Legislative Assembly which require question period to be entered into at a particular time in the afternoon. The purpose of question period, as stated under section 33(a), is that "Questions on matters of urgent public importance may be addressed to ministers of the crown...." It seems quite evident that if questions on matters of urgent importance are to be addressed to ministers, the ministers have to be present for the questions to be placed to them.

With that in mind, I ask you in all seriousness about the sustained absence of the Minister of Health. Mr Speaker, I want you to be aware that on Wednesday last the Minister of Health was in the building and was present at health estimates, but did not --

The Speaker (Hon Chris Stockwell): Order. I understand. I heard your point of order, to the Leader of the Opposition, and I appreciate the concern that you bring to the place with respect to your point of order, but it is not a point of order with respect to the ministers being in their place at the time. It's something that you may want to address through your House leaders' meetings, and address it there you should. But to ask the Speaker to rule as to the whereabouts of certain ministers and when and how they should be in this place you know is not a point of order. I appreciate that.

Mrs McLeod: With respect, I do believe that has a direct bearing on the carrying out of democratic responsibility of the Legislative Assembly. I would ask whether or not the Speaker has any role in determining whether an avoidable absence over consecutive days is in fact a deliberate violation of the standing orders of this House.

The Speaker: I appreciate that and it's not within the Speaker's purview. It's not within the standing orders and the orders that govern this House. Frankly, it's something the Speaker literally has no control over. I would ask again that if you would like to take this up with the government, you may do so through the appropriate channels, but clearly this is not an appropriate channel. I appreciate the input.



Mrs Lyn McLeod (Leader of the Opposition): My first question was indeed for the minister responsible for closing hospitals, but since he doesn't feel it's important for him to be here --

The Speaker (Hon Chris Stockwell): Order. I would caution the member. We have ministers, they have responsibilities, and I know not of one who has that responsibility. I would ask you who you're going to put the question to and to name them properly, if you would. Thank you.

Mrs McLeod: It's difficult because we have a Minister of Health who doesn't feel that he's responsible for anything related to health care in this province. But in his absence, I will go to the minister whose responsibility is quite clear and whose fiscal agenda is really driving the destruction of health care in this province --

The Speaker: The question is to?

Mrs McLeod: -- and that's the Minister of Finance.

Minister, having devastated health care in Sudbury, last Friday the Big Blue Tory bulldozer rammed its way back through Thunder Bay. They ignored all of the concerns that were expressed in our community over a period of months and they just simply bulldozed three of our five hospitals to the ground. The result and what they left us with was 50% fewer hospital beds, $41 million slashed from health care in our region and literally hundreds of nurses and lab technicians and health care providers facing the elimination of their jobs. What they've done is taken all of the hope out of our community and left only discouragement and very real fear.

The people of Thunder Bay now know the cost of your tax cut in all-too-real terms. I ask you, do you really believe that your tax cut is worth destroying health care, not only in Thunder Bay and in Sudbury but in every community across this province?

Hon Ernie L. Eves (Deputy Premier, Minister of Finance): The honourable Leader of the Opposition knows full well that there is absolutely no correlation between the tax cut and hospital closures. She also knows full well that the current hospital restructuring exercise was commenced by the previous government. I give them credit for that. They may not want to take it today, now that they're sitting on the other side of the House, but that is indeed where this process started. I say to the honourable Leader of the Opposition that she knows full well that the final recommendation as announced by the Health Services Restructuring Commission on Friday is very consistent with the Thunder Bay District Health Council hospital services review report. She knows that very well. She knows that full well. She knows they're consistent. The ultimate goal in this exercise is the care of the patient and delivering better patient care to people in the province of Ontario.


Mrs McLeod: This is not some kind of abstract academic exercise; this is about the destruction of health care in my community. What I know full well is that this is not about patient care in my community. This is not even -- you've been badly briefed and maybe the Minister of Health is equally badly briefed -- about agreeing with the community direction. The community direction was ignored, as was the joint submission of our district health council and four of our five community hospitals. The Lakehead Psychiatric Hospital couldn't participate because it was forbidden to give its input by the ministry itself.

This has everything to do with the cuts that you and Mike Harris and Jim Wilson have made to hospital budgets, it has everything to do with starving community hospitals to the point where they have to close, and if they don't do it voluntarily, your minister's hatchet men come in and do it to them. We know full well that taking $40 million out of health care in Thunder Bay and another $40 million out of health care in Sudbury has nothing to do with improving quality or improving access to health care in our communities. It has only to do with your $1.3-billion cut. If you are really concerned about quality and access to health care, you should repeal your $1.3-billion cut. Will you do this? Will you take away the financial crisis that you have created for health care in this province and allow patient care, not your cuts, to determine the future of health care in Ontario?

Hon Mr Eves: The honourable member knows full well that the two previous governments eliminated some 8,600 beds from the health care system in the province of Ontario without doing the proper administrative thing and didn't close one single medium-sized hospital in the entire province, although they had no problems eliminating 8,600 beds, which would be the equivalent of 33 medium-sized hospitals in Ontario.

I say to the honourable member again that the hospital restructuring committee is independent. It is not part of the government.


Hon Mr Eves: You people can laugh if you want over there. Some important decisions have to be made about the future of health care, not only in Thunder Bay and Sudbury, but in virtually every single community in this province.

I advise the honourable member to take the advice of the editorial page in her own Thunder Bay Chronicle-Journal on October 5: "The bottom line for most people should be this: If we had a new hospital it would offer exactly the same services that the refurbished and enlarged general hospital will, but it would cost more than twice as much money. If the prospect of raising $13 million locally and regionally seems daunting, try $90 million for emphasis on the size."

Why don't you understand what the editorial board of your very own home-town newspaper has understood? It is time to restructure, do things more cost-effectively and provide better services to the patients of Ontario.

Mrs McLeod: If the Minister of Health had been here he might have been able to tell you in advance that what that editorial is recommending is something that might approach some kind of semi-decent facility being left in our community after you shut down three of our five hospitals. You would be aware that because your hospital commission is not independent in any way, shape or form, what that editorial suggests is needed as a minimum is much more than a fractional little bit of what your commission is leaving in Thunder Bay, either in terms of beds or of dollars to have a decent facility for people to get care in.

It is your cuts, and I come back to that, that are driving this. It is not some independent decision of a commission about what people in my community need. It is the fact that you have taken the dollars out of their budgets and the hospitals have to be shut down as a result of that. I can tell you what you must know full well, that not only are people scared in my community, but they are scared in communities right across the province.

In my own community, they are afraid they won't get health care and they're going to be put on planes and sent to Toronto. People in Toronto are scared because they know you're going to shut down health care in this city too. People in Kincardine, 3,000 of them, came out last week to say they are afraid of what you and Jim Wilson and Mike Harris are going to do when you get into Bruce county. There are 3,000 more people in Wiarton who are also frightened. They are pleading with you to stop your cuts and save their hospital services. Will you listen, will you stop the cuts and will you acknowledge that a second-rate health care system is too high a price to pay for your tax cut?

Hon Mr Eves: Does anybody really believe that the amount of our tax reduction on July 1 has absolutely anything to do with the hospital restructuring exercise?


Hon Mr Eves: There are 35 chirping people on the other side of the floor. Talk about playing politics with an issue, talk about fearmongering for your own political benefit -- I think you've hit rock bottom today. You know this government has pledged to reinvest savings we find in the health care system in the health care system. You know we pledged for well over a year that the health care budget would not go below $17.4 billion, despite the fact that your pledge was $17 billion, $400 million lower, I say directly to you, ma'am, who made that commitment of $17 billion. Our health care budget this year will approach $17.7 billion, some $300 million more than we pledged and some $700 million more than you thought was appropriate for health care in the province of Ontario. If you want to talk about who is cutting health care funding, pick up the phone, phone your honourable federal cousins and talk about reductions in transfer payments to this province and --

The Speaker: The question's been answered.

Mr Dominic Agostino (Hamilton East): On a point of order, Mr Speaker: In the minister's response to the Leader of the Opposition he used a term that I don't think is appropriate. We have to address members by their titles, not by gender basis. I would ask you to ask him to withdraw that.

Hon Mr Eves: I'll be happy to withdraw that. Please don't refer to me as "sir," especially coming from you.

The Speaker: I ask the Minister of Finance to withdraw the last comment. I don't think it's particularly helpful.

Hon Mr Eves: I withdraw, Mr Speaker.



Mrs Lyn McLeod (Leader of the Opposition): My second question is to the Minister of Finance. I'll say to the minister that I know and believe full well that your need to find the $5 billion for your tax cut is what's driving you to take $1.3 billion out of the budgets of our hospitals before you have any idea what the impact is going to be on the health care of people in the communities across this province. If you suggest that I am playing partisan politics by telling you how frightened the people in my community are that they are not going to get health care, I suggest that you have hit rock bottom and I dare you to come to my community and tell them they have no reason to be worried. Your commission didn't have the courage to do that publicly.

I want to raise a question of a second impact of taking $1.3 billion out of the hospital budgets, another impact the Minister of Health has not been here to defend or to attempt to explain, because last week the Toronto Hospital fired 322 nurses. I suppose you're going to try to tell us that had nothing to do with your cuts to hospital budgets. The fact is that patients at that hospital are going to lose a half a million hours of nursing care and the hospital clearly says it is because you chopped $32 million from its budget as part of that $1.3-billion cut. I ask you to tell me, Minister, how will firing 322 nurses at Toronto Hospital and 15,000 nurses across Ontario improve health care quality, access for patients, waiting time for surgery being reduced or getting faster treatment in emergencies?

Hon Ernie L. Eves (Deputy Premier, Minister of Finance): The province of Ontario, as the member full knows, doesn't fire anybody in the nursing community. Various hospitals in every single community across Ontario have been asked to deal with smaller budgets and transfer payments from the province, just as we have been asked by the federal government to deal with smaller transfer payments from them. We accept our responsibility and we deal with our responsibility, just as they are doing at the local level.

Mrs McLeod: The minister's friend Jim Wilson stands up in this House, when he's here, and says, "Don't worry about closing hospitals, because bricks and mortar don't cure people; it's people who cure people," and that is our point exactly, because nurses are on the front lines curing people. When you cut hospital budgets you leave hospitals with no choice, so they have to cut nursing staff. There are consequences because when you cut nursing staff, patients don't get care, nurses aren't there to give the morphine injection that patients need when they're in pain and they're not there to give the intravenous or antibiotics that patients need. You can't solve the problem of cutting nurses by taking a six-week crash training course and giving it to cafeteria workers.

Minister, we believe that nurses matter, so I ask you: Why are you and Mike Harris and Jim Wilson so determined to turn our hospitals into Third World institutions where families practically have to move into the hospitals to make sure their loved ones are going to get the care they need?

Hon Mr Eves: The honourable member knows full well that the ultimate objective of this is better patient care for everybody. Everybody would agree that the health care system has to be changed and restructured. Even the Ontario Nurses' Association understands that. They are having a town hall meeting on October 8, which is tomorrow, in North Bay, Ontario. I read to you from the notice about their own meeting. They understand that the health care system in Ontario has to be restructured and reformed because for too many years we've gone on the old base, the old system. For too many years we've invested our dollars in bricks and mortar as opposed to investing it in people who provide patient care and new technologies. That is what the restructuring exercise is all about.

I do understand that in the short term, and in terms of people having some concerns about what may be happening in their particular community, they have those concerns. But I would also suggest to the honourable member that she is doing nothing to assist the situation if she's out there fearmongering without approaching this in a constructive manner.

Mrs McLeod: My community approached it in a constructive manner. They made a joint submission. It was ignored by the commission. The nurses of Ontario are approaching this in a constructive manner. I've been at two of the town hall meetings, and they say loudly and clearly that you cannot start to provide plans for health care by slashing $1.3 billion from hospital budgets, by shutting down hospitals, by carrying out behind-closed-door meetings and by slashing nursing staff in hospitals right across this province. They're telling you that you can't do it. People in Kincardine and Wiarton and Toronto and Sudbury and Thunder Bay are telling you that you can't do it. Hospitals are telling you they can't manage with your cuts.

All you're leaving them with in terms of some sort of local option is a choice between a guillotine and an electric chair. That's all you've left our communities when it comes to providing health care. You are taking, with your $1.3-billion cut, and it is a direct impact, 13 million nursing hours out of our hospitals. It is hard to believe. It's not just nursing care, it's also the technologists, the janitors, the cleaners and all the people who are an integral part of providing good health care.

Minister, stand up today and admit that your government's health restructuring is a sham, that it's in total shambles and at the end of the day all you'll have accomplished is having chopped your $1.3 billion from our hospital budgets and hurt patients in the process.

Hon Mr Eves: I'll say to the honourable member very directly, at the end of the day we will stand by our commitment of $17.4 billion to health care and in fact we will exceed that figure by substantial amounts. She knows that, I think.

Mr Bud Wildman (Algoma): What about all those nurses?

Hon Mr Eves: Speaking of nurses, we all understand, I think, that nurses are a very important component of the health care system in the province of Ontario, that they provide front-line services to patients.

Mr Bernard Grandmaître (Ottawa East): Why are you getting rid of them?

Hon Mr Eves: We aren't getting rid of any of them, I say to the honourable member. The hospitals are dealing individually with their situations as they see fit. The Ministry of Health has committed $17.3 million for the first five years of the nurse practitioner education program. The Ministry of Health has committed $170 million in long-term-care community services. That is going to create some 4,400 jobs in the long-term-care sector, and the member knows full well a great many of those jobs are going to be for registered nurses and registered nurse practitioners, RNAs.

The member knows full well that the ministry is providing $1 million for the province-wide nursing project to create centres of excellence, to demonstrate effective improvement in patient-client outcomes through the use of best knowledge, skills and technology.

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

Hon Mr Eves: So the Ministry of Health is making these reinvestments. At the end of the day there will be more money, not less, being spent in the health care system in the province of Ontario, but we will have a system that is better equipped to deal with patients' needs on a front-line basis.


The Speaker (Hon Chris Stockwell): I think you'd like to welcome a couple of delegations that are here today. The introduction of guests --

Interjection: Stop the clock.

The Speaker: The clock is stopped. You can tell because the numbers stop moving.

I would like to inform the members of the Legislative Assembly that we have in the Speaker's gallery today a South African delegation attending a parliamentary cooperation program hosted by the Legislative Assembly. They're up in the Speaker's gallery, if they'd like to rise.

On my left, if you would also please welcome the delegates attending the 12th biennial conference of the Association of Parliamentary Librarians in Canada. Welcome.

The Speaker: Third party questions? You can start the clock too.


Mr Howard Hampton (Rainy River): In the absence of the Minister of Health again today, my question is also for the Minister of Finance. I'll read from the headline of the Toronto Globe and Mail. It says the Mike Harris government has cut $30 million for the Ontario treasury by confirming yesterday the closure of two of Thunder Bay's five hospitals. It's the Minister of Finance, I gather, who gets the $30 million, not the people of Thunder Bay and the region, who lose out in terms of $30 million in health care.

Let me ask the Minister of Finance this: The Minister of Health has already cut hospital budgets in the province by $343 million this year. You took $42 million out of Sudbury annually and you're taking, by our estimates, about $38 million annually out of Thunder Bay. We think, if we start adding up the numbers, that this year you're going to take far in excess of $343 million out of hospital budgets. If you add the closures to the budget cuts, you're going to take quite a lot in excess of $343 million. Since you're taking all this money, $343 million in across-the-board cuts and $40 million at a whack annually out of towns and cities like Thunder Bay and Sudbury, what are you doing with the rest of the money, other than giving it away in a tax break to the wealthy?

Hon Ernie L. Eves (Deputy Premier, Minister of Finance): First of all, I'm sure the honourable member appreciates the fact that any hospital restructuring that is done, be it in Thunder Bay, Sudbury or elsewhere, is not going to happen overnight. So those cost savings, if that's what you want to refer to them as, are not going to be found the next day at 9 o'clock after the story appears in the Globe and Mail the previous day. These things take time. There are not going to be patients displaced. People are going to do this in a thoughtful and organized and rational manner. That's the first statement I'd like to make.


The second statement I would like to make to him, as I've said to the Leader of the Opposition, is that at the end of the day moneys are going to be reinvested in the health care system in the province of Ontario. This can't happen overnight either. Some of the moneys, quite frankly, are already being reinvested in the health care system before any restructuring even starts to take place. That will be a continuous, ongoing process over the next few months and years.

Mr Hampton: I note that the Minister of Finance did not disagree with my assessment. The fact is that the government is taking far more out of hospitals than it has so far admitted; it admits to taking $343 million. But simply add up the numbers out of Sudbury and Thunder Bay and it's very clear that the government is taking far more money.

If this is what the Minister of Finance refers to as reinvestment, let me tell you what the commission said in Thunder Bay. "The health services review commission has requested that the Minister of Health ask the Thunder Bay District Health Council to lead a process for developing a plan to build an integrated system of delivery of health care services, including the feasibility of moving towards the establishment of an integrated governance structure for health services."

This is all that is being offered to the people of Thunder Bay: You are going to be requested to ask for a process that hopefully leads to a plan. Is this the Conservative government's definition of reinvestment in the health care system for Thunder Bay, that you have to request someone to ask to lead a plan that might lead somewhere? Is that your definition of reinvestment?

Hon Mr Eves: To the leader of the third party, do you not want us to consult the local community when we're taking these decisions? I've gone through saying to the leader of the third party that we are doing these things in a thoughtful, rational, organized process; they're not going to be accomplished overnight, nor are hospitals going to be closed overnight, nor are hospitals going to be merged or their services rationalized overnight. This is a long and ongoing process that is merely starting now.

Mrs Lyn McLeod (Leader of the Opposition): Starvation is a slow process, but it's happening faster.

Hon Mr Eves: Despite the interjections of the Leader of the Opposition, she had her opportunity to ask two questions; she'll have an opportunity to ask some more if she wants in a few minutes. However, I say to the leader of the third party that these things are long overdue. We've talked about the 8,600 beds that have come out of the system under the two previous administrations, that your ministers of health extracted from the system. I'm not necessarily critical of the fact that those beds were reduced, except that they didn't do the other component of that, and that is to reduce the administrative side of the equation at the same time so that at the end of the day we can invest our health care dollars that we have committed to spend, and then some, in a more patient-delivery-mode system of health care in the province of Ontario.

Mr Hampton: The Minister of Finance tries to give soothing words, but the fact of the matter is that health care services are going to be lost in communities like Thunder Bay and like Sudbury when those hospitals are closed, and this government has no upfront alternative services either in place now or planned for those communities.

I can tell the Minister of Health what people think in those communities. They believe that they aren't going to see a full portfolio of alternative community services like home care, like community care, like health education and like the kind of disease prevention strategies you need. What they're seeing is that you walked into Sudbury and you announced cuts of $42 million a year to health care and you've got no alternative to present to Sudbury; you walked into Thunder Bay and you're taking $38 million a year out of health care and you've got nothing concrete to offer the people of Thunder Bay in terms of alternative services. They know that what you're really doing is you're taking money out of health care and you're transferring it into a tax break for the wealthiest people in this province.

Let me ask you here, what are the alternative services for Thunder Bay? What are the alternative services for Sudbury? What are they, where are they and when are we going to see them?

Hon Mr Eves: Those are going to be developed over a period of time, as I've explained to the honourable member, nor are the hospitals closing tomorrow morning at 9 o'clock. Maybe that's what you envision will happen, but that is not the way the process is going to work. You know very well that the Minister of Health has already invested substantial moneys in northern Ontario and elsewhere in the province of Ontario -- $170 million that I talked about earlier in question period about long-term care reinvestment, employing 4,400 more people. Do you not want those 4,400 more people employed, I say to the leader of the third party?

Mr Hampton: That's actually a cut, Ernie, with what's supposed to be spent. That is a cut, Ernie; do you understand that? That's not an alternative, that's a cut.

The Speaker (Hon Chris Stockwell): Leader of the third party, come to order, please.

Hon Mr Eves: Expanded kidney dialysis services province-wide: $25 million. Cardiac surgery reinvestment: $15.5 million. Cardiac stents in a lot of cardiovascular units, including Sudbury -- are you opposed to that? Restored out-of-province coverage. Expanded diabetes care: $5.8 million. A $70-an-hour sessional fee to northern and rural Ontario that your government wouldn't commit to, our government did: $13 million. Community-sponsored contracts, 21 northern communities --

The Speaker: Answer, please, Minister of Finance.

Hon Mr Eves: -- $6.7 million. Do you not want that to go into northern Ontario? Expansion of psychiatric care services in Timmins: $194,000. What have you got against Timmins? Do you not want that money reinvested? I can go on and on and on. The member knows that we are reinvesting money in the health care system --

The Speaker: Minister of Finance, order. The question's been answered. Leader of the third party, second question.

Mr Hampton: Speaker, you're very good with numbers. If you add up everything that the Minister of Finance has mentioned, it still comes to less than what is being taken out of the health care system and much less than what is being taken out of Sudbury and Thunder Bay.

The Speaker: The question, third party? Who's your question to?


Mr Howard Hampton (Rainy River): My second question is to the Minister of Labour, who has now taken over the task of gutting the Workers' Compensation Board. The minister wasn't here on Thursday when we asked about a leaked cabinet submission proposing a sweeping attack on injured workers, but fortunately today we've got another leaked document. This is the mother of all documents in terms of the destruction of the Workers' Compensation Board, about 58 pages detailing all of the cuts that are going to happen at the Workers' Compensation Board.

The document includes a communication strategy which anticipates the following worst-case newspaper headlines on the government's proposal. The first one is, "WCB Overhaul Attack on Workers." The second one is --

The Speaker (Hon Chris Stockwell): Leader of the third party, order. You know full well that signs are not allowed in this place. It's your time and as long as you hold them up I can't allow question period to continue. You can either choose to hold them up and I'll stand here as long as it takes, or you can put them away and we'll continue.

Mr Hampton: Well, Speaker, I seem to remember someone holding up "Call Police" signs in this House all the time, but I guess that was then and this is now.

My point is simply this: When you read this cabinet document, it becomes very, very clear that the government's agenda is to take literally billions of dollars from injured workers and to redistribute that money to employers, to some of the bad bosses we've been hearing about.

The Speaker: Is there a question?

Mr Hampton: There is a question.

The Speaker: May we get to it, please.

Mr Hampton: Since you got headlines over the weekend such as, "Proposed Changes to WCB Assailed" and "WCB to Hurt Workers," my question to the minister is, when you're giving $6 billion to employers and taking $15 billion from injured workers, don't you understand that no amount of communications planning, no amount of spin-doctoring will distract people from understanding the real Conservative agenda, to take from working people and to give to those who are already wealthy? Don't you understand that?


Hon Elizabeth Witmer (Minister of Labour): I just want to assure you that there has been recognition in this province now for several years that the WCB is in need of an extensive overhaul. It is not appropriately focused, as you well know. In fact, your Minister of Labour, Bob Mackenzie, said the following: "There is a growing feeling that the WCB is becoming a drain on Ontario's economy, on our ability to attract investment and jobs and spark business confidence. Never has there been such unanimous agreement that the board is in critical need of reform and renewal." This was Bob Mackenzie at committee hearings on Bill 165, and how we agree: There is a need for reform. There is a need to ensure that injured workers will always have the appropriate protection. However, we are changing the focus at the WCB. Our focus is going to be to develop a coordinated strategy that will focus attention on prevention in order that we won't have the disability and won't be required to provide the compensation and will avoid the human cost of the injury.

Mr Hampton: I guess I have to remind the Minister of Labour that the Workers' Compensation Board had a surplus and has a surplus. In fact, the Workers' Compensation Board liability over the longer term has actually been dropping. So an attempt to cook up another phony crisis isn't going to work here. The Workers' Compensation Board is actually in a better financial position now than it was three years ago, so don't try to cook up some phony crisis.

I want to go directly, though, to this prevention business that the minister is talking about, because if you turn to page 11 of the cabinet submission you find that what the government intends to do is take away $1.4 billion from older injured workers; that is, people who are older. They're not back in the workplace; they're retired. That's got nothing to do with prevention. That's taking money, $1.4 billion, from somebody who's been seriously injured and is living on a limited income. It's got absolutely nothing to do with prevention. It's called taking money from those who are not well off, it's called taking money from those who are living on a fixed income and it's called transferring it to your wealthy friends. So don't try to mix in any prevention when it comes to page 11.

Let me ask you this: How are you going to explain to older injured workers that you want to take $1.4 billion from their pensions and make that part of the $6 billion you're going to give to your wealthy bad bosses? How do you explain that? How do you justify taking $1.4 billion from older injured workers so that you can give $6 billion to employers?

Hon Mrs Witmer: I'm extremely surprised that you are not concerned for the future security of benefits for the injured workers whether they be older or younger. I would indicate to you that it is that massive unfunded liability we have today, which presently stands at $10.9 billion, that is seriously jeopardizing the ability of the WCB to pay out benefits to injured workers.

Did you realize, despite what you're saying today, that between the years 1991 and 1995 over $1.65 billion was transferred from the investment portfolio to cover the yearly benefit costs? So there is less and less money available to cover the costs for the future. This is the problem we are trying to address. We are trying to make sure there are benefits available in the future, but at the same time we want to change the focus to prevention. We want to make sure that the workplaces are as safe and healthy as they possibly can be. I would encourage you and the members of your party to work with us in that endeavour.

Mr Hampton: Let me go right back to the minister. Why is the minister taking $1.5 billion from injured workers and billions of dollars from elsewhere in the system, and why is the minister giving $6 billion away to employers?

While I'm at it, your document reveals that you plan to change the name of the Workers' Compensation Board. The document reveals that changing the name is going to cost $1 million. If you're so interested in the financial health of the board, why spend $1 million merely for a name change? Why give $6 billion away to employers? It would seem to me that the smart thing to do would be to care for those financial resources, to make sure they stay in the system and, above all, not to waste $1 million on a name change. Why give away all this money if you're worried about the financial health of the board?

Hon Mrs Witmer: I would just remind the leader opposite that it was your own Minister of Labour, Mr Mackenzie, who recognized that there was a need to overhaul the WCB, it was your government that embarked on the program of de-indexation of pensions and it was your government that first started to reduce the level of benefits. Obviously, if we're going to continue to have a viable system, we are going to have to ensure that we make the changes that are going to ensure that benefits are available for the future.


Mr Mike Colle (Oakwood): A question for the Minister of Transportation: Earlier this year you falsely accused GO Transit of running 2,000-seat trains with only 20 passengers. Do you remember that? Then last week you stood up in the House and praised GO Transit for the Casino Rama express train, yet the next day you scrapped that train to Casino Rama. Most recent is your announcement that GO Transit will be privatized, yet the Minister of Finance is saying that is not the case. What is going on? Do you know what is going on in your ministry? Have you got your signals crossed again?

Hon Al Palladini (Minister of Transportation): Sometimes I wonder if the honourable member really knows what he asks. This government has said all along that we want to do better for less. We've been saying it. We've also been saying that we feel public transit is a major entity in moving people around. I'm also on record saying many times that I'm a big supporter of GO. As a matter of fact, I would like to see GO expanded even further to deliver better services. All we want to do is deliver better services for the people in the GTA, and we're committed to doing that. Nothing has changed, and we are going to do better for less, as we've been saying all along.

Mr Colle: The general manager of GO Transit, Rick Ducharme, is saying that you don't know what you're talking about, since many of those operations are already contracted out, from train maintenance to operations. Even the trains themselves, if you don't know, have been sold off to some offshore holding company in Germany. Isn't this just a smokescreen? It's got little to do with privatization, but rather, this is about more cutbacks to GO service and this is about provincial offloading of the running costs of GO on to the backs of local property taxpayers in cities like Oshawa, Whitby, Oakville, Richmond Hill, Milton, Georgetown, Mississauga, Bradford, Barrie, Stouffville and Markham. Isn't this what this is all about? It's not about privatization; it's about you making property taxpayers pay for your responsibility, which is running the GO system.

Hon Mr Palladini: I don't know whether there was a question in that, but the province has no intention of getting rid of GO. In fact, I'm hoping we can expand and increase ridership with GO.

Commercialization is just one option, and we are going to take a look at other options as well. I can assure the honourable member and the people in the GTA that we are not going to get out of the GO business.



Mr Tony Martin (Sault Ste Marie): My question is for the Minister of Consumer and Commercial Relations. In the gallery today there are dozens of Loeb franchisees who have travelled a long way and brought literally thousands of petitions calling for this government to introduce franchise legislation. I introduced a private member's bill over a year ago that went nowhere. Since then 45 franchisees have lost their stores. The 22 here today stand to lose theirs on November 2.

Your government received the report of the franchise working group over a year ago and you've done absolutely nothing. My colleague and I are afraid for the future of small business in this province. Dreams are being destroyed. Your own parliamentary assistant said in the debate on my bill, "There is a need to address the problems associated with the franchise sector."

Mr Peter Kormos (Welland-Thorold): Yes, but he voted against the bill.

Mr Martin: Yes. But still the government has done nothing.

Will you commit today to franchise legislation before November 2? On this day, when we celebrate the week of the family, will you bring in legislation that will protect these families before they lose their ability to make a living?

Hon David H. Tsubouchi (Minister of Consumer and Commercial Relations): I am aware that there are some problems right now between franchisees and franchisers. I believe it is important for franchisers and franchisees to work together to resolve this because it's a very important working sector in the province.

I know that franchisees are looking right now to get a more even playing field, a level playing field in terms of their businesses. I'm quite aware of this fact and I've asked my staff to restart their efforts to get moving on the franchise legislation. I think it's very important.

A number of things have come out from franchisees, as my colleague Mr Martin knows. Certainly part of what they're asking for is some sort of alternative dispute mechanism to resolve cases before going to court. This is very important, I believe. We're looking at disclosure requirements to make sure, before franchisees enter into these agreements, they have some awareness of the business commitments they will be entering into. There are a number of issues that franchisees have brought up, and yes, this government is interested in looking after their interests.

Mr Kormos: The minister is, among other things, minister of consumer protection. We've got victims sitting right here in the Legislature who have come to this chamber for help. They're under attack by Loeb and its parent company Provigo, one of Canada's most profitable companies that has abandoned good faith in its franchise agreements and has forced these people, who could ill afford the cost and time of litigation, to litigate.

Time is of the essence, Minister. They can't wait for you to draft your legislation and let it stand in order before it gets passed through this House. They need your help now. They're on the verge of losing their businesses, their life savings and their families' futures. You've got to deal with them today.

It's your job as minister of consumer protection. Tell us when you're going to introduce legislation providing a regulatory scheme to protect these franchisees and please tell us that you will use your office to mediate in this dispute between them and Loeb/Provigo. These are victims, and if you aren't helping them you're against them, and by God, if you're against them you're destroying families and small business in this province.

Hon Mr Tsubouchi: The member across the way will know that I'm meeting today with a delegation of Loeb franchisees. In fact, prior to that meeting my colleague Mr Lalonde has asked me to meet with a number of other members who were not part of that delegation, and I'm accommodating that request as well to meet with these stakeholders.

I'm quite surprised that the member is accusing us of dragging our heels. I might refer him to the Hansard back on October 13, 1993, when the then Minister of Consumer and Commercial Relations, Marilyn Churley, was indicating that if, when the Liberals were in power -- and insert "NDP" in there if you like -- they had moved ahead with legislation, possibly the problem we're looking at now wouldn't be happening. The issue is that even if we passed legislation today, it wouldn't resolve the specific problems.

Mr Kormos: These people are here today. They need your help now. Will you help them?

The Speaker (Hon Chris Stockwell): The member for Welland-Thorold, you're out of order.

Hon Mr Tsubouchi: The minister then went on to say that she will be making a commitment to making sure the process is kept in place and there is a resolution of the problem.

Mr Gilles Bisson (Cochrane South): What are you going to do? You are the government.

Hon Mr Tsubouchi: I must say I'm quite surprised at the member across the way as well, because if they had such a commitment, perhaps when their colleague Mr Jim Wiseman in 1994 -- after that kind speech by the then minister, he provided a private member's bill to actually address this, which was not supported by their party.

So we will be moving ahead. We will be meeting with the stakeholders.


Mr R. Gary Stewart (Peterborough): My question is to the Minister of Natural Resources, Northern Development and Mines. As we enter another hunting season in Ontario, it has come to my attention --

Mr Gilles Bisson (Cochrane South): I have a copy of that question.

The Speaker (Hon Chris Stockwell): Order. The member for Cochrane-South, would you please come to order.

Mr Stewart: Do I get to start over again, Mr Speaker, so that everybody will know what I'm asking?

The Speaker: It might make it a little easier if you start where you left off.

Mr Stewart: Thank you, sir. As we enter another hunting season in Ontario, it has come to my attention that a new fish and wildlife board is advising the minister on fish and wildlife issues. Conservation and wildlife preservation is very important to a number of my constituents. We must ensure that future generations will be able to enjoy the fish and wildlife in this province.

Could the minister please update my constituents on the status of the board's first meeting and what has been accomplished to ensure that conservation of fish and wildlife remains a priority?


Hon Chris Hodgson (Minister of Natural Resources, Northern Development and Mines): I had a little difficulty hearing the question and there's a bit of disturbance here, but I'll answer the best I can the gist of it.

The member is absolutely correct that this government is following through on its commitment to dedicate all licence fees, fines and royalties to a special account for hunting and fishing opportunities for Ontarians. Consistent with that promise was a commitment we would create an advisory board of those who pay the user fee, if you like, for fishing licences or hunting licences.

The inaugural meeting was an orientation session. It was held on September 7. The board consists of 11 members from different parts of Ontario and it's led by a biologist and lodge owner, Mr Phil Morlock. The board will give advice to the minister. The advice, along with an account of where the money is spent, will be tabled in this Legislature on a yearly basis.

Mr Stewart: The Peterson government at one time stated that all revenues collected for hunting and fishing fees would go back into the resource, but unfortunately -- surprise -- it never happened. Our government made a serious commitment to ensure that the money collected from fees and licences would be put back into preservation of fish and wildlife. I believe that approach is welcomed by many.

Minister, can you please advise the House what action has been taken on the issue of allocating revenues obtained through fees and licences, and will they be put back into fish and wildlife conservation?

Hon Mr Hodgson: I thank the member for the question. I'd like to remind the House that Bill 26 fulfilled our commitment to dedicate all the revenue from fishing licences and hunting licences. As this House will know, back in the late 1980s, when they brought in the residential fishing licence, we were promised that money would go into a special account, not thrown into the consolidated revenue fund and spent other than in areas that would enhance fish and wildlife management in this province.

Mr Bud Wildman (Algoma): Where's the other $20 million?

Hon Mr Hodgson: The NDP minister, Mr Wildman, is interjecting here. He said it couldn't be done. I'm here to tell you that we followed through on a campaign commitment that we made in the spring of 1994. It's another promise that's been kept by this government.



Mr Jean-Marc Lalonde (Prescott and Russell): I have a question for the Minister of Citizenship, Culture and Recreation, the Honourable Marilyn Mushinski. Minister, last Friday I attended your press conference at York University where you announced your government's so-called strategy for provincial sports organization funding.

Pas une personne parmi tous les représentants d'organisations sportives que j'ai rencontrés affirme être en accord avec la façon de faire du gouvernement et la façon de laquelle ce dossier est traitée.

I did not meet one single person who was actually consulted on this. I met some people who received a letter saying they would be consulted but were never consulted.

So my question is this: Before cutting funds to 26 of the 81 provincial sports organizations, how many of them were actually consulted, and can you tell us the names of these organizations?

Hon Marilyn Mushinski (Minister of Citizenship, Culture and Recreation): Mr Speaker, let me start off by congratulating you on your appointment as Speaker of the House.

To the honourable member, as I suggested last week, we have had an 11-month consultation process with provincial sports organizations. I will be happy to provide the list since it is too long to read it today.

Mr Lalonde: The minister just said through 11 months of consultation. As I said in my previous question, no one has been consulted on this issue, no one. What you have announced on Friday, Madam Minister, is the reduction of the amateur sports budget from $11.8 million to $8.1 million for 1996-97, which in turn means that at least 26 sports organizations will no longer qualify to receive government funding.

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

M. Lalonde : C'est ça, votre stratégie. C'est clair que cette stratégie est de réduire le financement et non de promouvoir le sport amateur en Ontario.

How can this government hold a straight face and say that it is committed to amateur sport, that it wants to develop coaches, athletes and volunteers and increase participation among children and youth with such a strategy?

With the introduction of your so-called strategy, this government implies that sports organizations have spent Ontario taxpayers' money unwisely, that they are welfare cases and a burden for our society. Besides reducing the amount of money dedicated to amateur sports and changing the way the money is distributed, what did this government do to improve sports organizations in Ontario?

Hon Ms Mushinski: Let's be absolutely clear. As I said last week and as I have said on a number of occasions, a sports system without a strategy is no system at all. Clearly the new strategy that I announced last week was intended to spend taxpayers' dollars a little more wisely.

Let me tell you what has happened in the last 20 years of a system that was supported by the previous government and the government before that. It grew from 55 provincial sports organizations to 81, and let me read to you what some of those funds went towards.

Why, for example, were we funding 10-pin bowling? Do you think taxpayers want to spend money on bureaucrats subsidizing 10-pin bowling? Why were we paying administrative dollars for horseshoes? Why were we paying administrative dollars for baton twirling? Why were we paying for equity in synchronized swimming, since I haven't yet seen one male synchronized swimmer?


Mr Gilles Bisson (Cochrane South): I would image, Speaker, there are many interested parties in the response they just got from the minister.

My question is to the Minister of Transportation, the minister who is quoted as always saying he can do more for less. On the weekend there were a number of reports in the paper where you and others were commenting on possible future plans that you have for GO Transit. You talked about everything from privatization of GO Transit to cutting subsidies to GO Transit. You even went so far as to suggest that you were prepared to offload, download on to the municipalities of the province of Ontario that are serviced by GO 25% of the operating cost.

I want to remind you that in the last election you ran on a document called The Common Sense Revolution. In that Common Sense Revolution you said two things. Number one, you said there was only one taxpayer. Clearly, offloading 25% of the cost of GO Transit on to municipalities is going to mean either there's going to be a cut in service or -- guess what? -- there's going to be an increase in taxes in those municipalities. You failed on that promise.

The second thing you said was that you'd work closely with municipalities. I've taken the time to speak to a number of people within the transportation industry. Nobody's been talked to about passing 25% of the cost on to municipalities. What do you attempt to gain by passing 25% of the cost of GO Transit on to municipalities, other than increasing municipal taxes?

Hon Al Palladini (Minister of Transportation): I want to reiterate again that we are taking a look at everything this government does to see how much involvement there should be with government in the delivering of services. GO is just one of them. We want to maximize the dollars that we put into GO -- this is what I've been saying all along -- and work with the municipalities to see how we can get a better return on the dollars we put in.

As far as the honourable member's question about the municipalities is concerned, it's clear that the municipalities benefit from GO Transit, so there are some things that maybe we've got to talk to them about. The 25% participation could be one of them. Again, I want to emphasize that these are just thoughts.

Mr Tony Silipo (Dovercourt): A supplementary to the minister: You've clearly said, today if not on the weekend, that you intend to proceed with your 24% downloading on to property taxpayers in the GTA. But what is really puzzling is that I don't understand where the common sense is in asking those same property taxpayers not to fund a system that they're going to benefit from, but to fund in effect your privatization of the system, so that 25% is going to go not into paying for service, but into paying for the profits that your wealthy friends are going to make through the privatization of GO Transit. Where is the common sense in that?

Hon Mr Palladini: Every day over 100,000 people are going to take the GO train. That's not going to change. If anything, we have intentions to see how we can increase ridership.

As for the honourable member's assumption that we are going to sell off our GO assets, again, that is not the intent of this government. We have the intention to see how we can better deliver the services and be more efficient in delivering those services. The possibility of commercializing it could increase services and make it cheaper for Ontario taxpayers, for the taxpayers in the GTA, to take benefit from that. I want to say commercialization is only one option we are considering. However, we are going to be willing to take a look at other possibilities.



Mr Jim Brown (Scarborough West): My question is to the minister without portfolio with responsibility for privatization. Over the last several months we have seen the unions at the LCBO and TVO run extensive advertising campaigns in support of maintaining these organizations in their present state. We can all appreciate the fact that there may be some apprehension among the employees of both these agencies with respect to their future, given the government's commitment to looking at both the LCBO and TVO as possible privatization candidates. Would the minister indicate to us when the employees of the LCBO and TVO and other government agencies might have a better idea of the government's plans and, thus, their individual futures?

Hon Rob Sampson (Minister without Portfolio [Privatization]): Mr Speaker, I want to start off by congratulating you on your victory. Given the flavour of the discussion and the debate in this House, I know you will do a great job.

Mr David S. Cooke (Windsor-Riverside): That's not what you said down at this end

Hon Mr Sampson: Oh, yes it is.

I want to thank the member for the question. I understand the concerns of the people in Ontario, the workers of the public service, the workers of the various agencies and boards and commissions of this province as we as a government review the way in which we are currently doing business in this province, but I think it's important for those people to understand that while change is certainly difficult to initiate sometimes, it's important for us as a government to continue to deliver on our plan to try to do better for less, to try to take a look at what government is doing and see if there are better ways to do it, see if there are more efficient ways to do it, see if there are more economical ways to do it. That is something we are doing, and we'll be coming forward shortly with a plan that will allow this government --


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

Hon Mr Sampson: -- to exercise that plan to deliver on our commitment to try to make sure that this government is doing what it's supposed to be doing efficiently and effectively and fairly.


Mr Bud Wildman (Algoma): On a point of order, Mr Speaker: I rise on a point of order related to your ruling earlier. I didn't want to interrupt question period, and I know you would agree that it would be better to raise it now.

I want to draw to your attention Hansard of October 23, 1991, when a member then from Durham rose in the House on a point of order with the then Speaker. He said he noticed that the member for Etobicoke West was displaying a sign that said, "Call the police." He raised objections to this, saying he believed it was out of order. The Speaker then ruled. The Speaker said:

"To the member for Durham East, the question about signs in the chamber has been raised on occasion both during this Parliament and previous parliaments. There is no standing order with respect to signs in the chamber." Then further, "If a rule change is sought, members will have to approach the standing committee on the Legislative Assembly with their request to have something put in the standing orders, but without anything specifically in the standing orders, it makes it very awkward for the Speaker to make" a ruling with regard to the display of signs in the Legislature.

Mr Speaker, I know you would want to deal with this. Perhaps, then, you would consider whether this matter should indeed be referred to the Legislative Assembly committee, because obviously, according to the Speaker in 1991, it was not out of order to display signs by the member for Etobicoke West.

The Speaker (Hon Chris Stockwell): That was quick work, as a matter of fact, member for Algoma. What I will do is take that under advisement. I think that's probably a wise decision at this time.



Hon David Johnson (Chair of the Management Board of Cabinet and Government House Leader): I move that Mr Pouliot and Mr Kormos exchange places in the order of precedence for private members' public business; and that the House will commence at 11 am on Thursday, October 10, to discuss ballot item number 40 only.

The Speaker (Hon Chris Stockwell): Any debate? Is it the pleasure of the House that the motion carry? Carried.



The Speaker (Hon Chris Stockwell): I recognize the member for -- it'll be easy, because it's the one I can remember -- Scarborough North.

Mr Alvin Curling (Scarborough North): Thank you, Mr Speaker. Let me commend you for the excellent job you're doing so far.

A petition to the Legislative Assembly of Ontario:

"Whereas the Harris government plans to sell public housing;

"We, the undersigned, petition the Legislative Assembly of Ontario not to privatize public housing and to allow for public hearings."

I affix my signature along with those of the many people who are extremely concerned about this thing.


Mr Tony Silipo (Dovercourt): Mr Speaker, I have a petition signed by a number of workers from your own community of Etobicoke, Mississauga and Toronto, all members of the United Steelworkers of America. It 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; and

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

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

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

I agree with this petition and am affixing my signature to it as well.


Mr John O'Toole (Durham East): I am pleased to present a petition that has some 500 signatures from my riding of Durham East.

"To the Parliament of Ontario:

"Whereas pregnancy is not a disease, injury or illness;

"Whereas abortion is not therapeutic;

"Whereas abortion is never medically necessary;

"Whereas the Canada Health Act does not require `elective procedures' to be funded;

"Whereas there is no right to publicly funded abortion;

"Whereas it is the responsibility and the authority of the provinces exclusively to determine what services will be insured;

"Whereas there is mounting evidence that abortion is hazardous to women's health;

"Whereas the availability of abortion at public expense leads to the use of abortion as a means of birth control;

"Whereas Ontario taxpayers funded 45,014 abortions in 1993, at an estimated cost of $25 million;

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

"That the Ontario provincial government remove abortion as a service or procedure covered under the provincial health insurance plan."

I affix my name.


Mr Rick Bartolucci (Sudbury): This petition is to the Legislative Assembly of Ontario.

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

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

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

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

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

"We, the undersigned, petition the Legislative Assembly of Ontario to rescind the Health Services Restructuring Commission's recommendation to close two acute care Sudbury hospitals and return to the DHC model of a two-site hospital system."


Mr Doug Galt (Northumberland): I have a petition from Cobourg. It's addressed to the Legislative Assembly of Ontario.

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

"Leave our health care system alone. No cuts; no caps to our doctors' wages."


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

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

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

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

I've affixed my signature.


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

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

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

"Whereas 80% of the orphaned cubs do not survive the first year; and

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

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

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

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

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

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

This is signed by hundreds of people from all over the province of Ontario, and I'm happy to affix my signature.



Mr John R. Baird (Nepean): I have a petition from my constituency of Nepean which reads as follows:

"To the Legislative Assembly of Ontario:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

I'm pleased to affix my own signature thereto.


Mr Dominic Agostino (Hamilton East): I have a petition to the Parliament of Ontario.

"Whereas the current rate of unemployment in the construction industry in the Ottawa-Carleton area is at a record level of 48%;

"Whereas Ontario-based construction workers and contractors encounter a great many regulations that effectively prohibit them from working in Quebec while construction workers and contractors based in Quebec encounter no such restrictions in Ontario;

"Whereas negotiations over the last number of years between various governments from Ontario and Quebec that were dedicated to eliminating barriers to labour mobility have failed to level the playing field for Ontario and Quebec workers;

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

"That the proposed Construction Workforce from Quebec Act tabled by Jean-Marc Lalonde, MPP for Prescott and Russell, on June 4, 1996, to protect Ontario workers and contractors in the construction industry be adopted."

I sign my signature to the petition.


Mr Mario Sergio (Yorkview): I have a further petition signed by residents of my area concerning the intended removal of rent control. It is addressed to the Legislative Assembly of Ontario.

"Whereas the government of Ontario has announced its intention to remove rent control from apartments that become vacant so that landlords can charge whatever they want for rent; 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 Ontario to keep the existing system of rent control."

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


Mr James J. Bradley (St Catharines): I have a petition to the government of Ontario that reads as follows:

"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 instead retain the LCBO for this purpose."

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


Mr Dominic Agostino (Hamilton East): I have a petition to the Legislative Assembly of Ontario, in particular to Premier Harris and Minister Wilson.

"We, the undersigned, will not accept any cuts to health care that would restrict our access to family doctors. It is important that a family doctor is allotted the funds to continue providing obstetrical services, hospital care, surgical assistance, hospital visits and after-hour emergency care. Please do not touch access to our family doctor."

I agree with that and sign my name to the petition.


Mr James J. Bradley (St Catharines): I have a petition addressed to the Legislative Assembly of Ontario.

"Whereas the Conservative government of Mike Harris has closed three out of five hospitals in Thunder Bay and two out of the three hospitals in Sudbury; and

"Whereas drastic funding cuts to hospitals across Ontario are intimidating hospital boards, district health councils and local hospital restructuring commissions into considering the closing of local hospitals; and

"Whereas hospitals in the Niagara region have provided an outstanding essential service to patients and have been important facilities for medical staff to treat the residents of the Niagara Peninsula and will be required for people in Niagara for years to come; and

"Whereas the population of Niagara is on average older than that in most areas of the province;

"We, the undersigned, call upon the Minister of Health to restore adequate funding to hospitals in the Niagara region and guarantee that his government will not close any hospitals in the Niagara Peninsula."

I affix my signature as I'm in full agreement with this petition.


Mr Gilles Bisson (Cochrane South): I have a petition on behalf of some 1,000-plus people who have signed this petition on rent control from the area of northern Ontario, and it reads as follows:

"To Premier Mike Harris, Minister of Municipal Affairs and Housing Al Leach and members of the provincial Legislature:

"Whereas to abolish rent control in favour of a market system would be disastrous for tenants and give further power and allow unnecessary profit for landlords,

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

I affix my signature to that petition.


Mr Dominic Agostino (Hamilton East): "To the Legislative Assembly of Ontario:

"Whereas the Common Sense Revolution states that a Conservative government `will not cut health care'; and

"Whereas during the 1995 election campaign, the Conservatives clearly promised to defend the health care system by protecting ministry funding, stating in a campaign backgrounder, `There will be no cuts to health care funding by a Harris government,' and calling this their first and most important commitment;

"Therefore, we, the undersigned, call on the Minister of Health to reject all recommendations that would close any Hamilton area hospitals."

I support that fully and sign my signature to it.


Mr Gilles Bisson (Cochrane South): I have here yet another petition on rent control, this time from the good people of the city of Toronto in around the Riverdale area. There seems to be some 500, 600 signatures here, and it reads as follows:

"To Premier Mike Harris, Minister of Municipal Affairs and Housing Al Leach and members of the provincial Legislature:

"Whereas to abolish rent control in favour of a market system would be disastrous for tenants and give further powers and allow unnecessary profit for landlords,

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

I affix my signature to that petition as well.


Mr James J. Bradley (St Catharines): I have a petition addressed to the government of Ontario.

"Since video lottery terminals will contribute to gambling addiction in Ontario and the resulting breakup of families, spousal and child abuse and crimes such as embezzlement and robbery;

"Since the introduction of video lottery terminals across Ontario will provide those addicted to gambling with widespread temptation, will attract young people to a vice which will adversely affect their lives for many years to come;

"Since the introduction of these gambling machines across our province is designed to gain revenue for the government at the expense of the poor, the vulnerable and the desperate in order that the government can cut income taxes, to the greatest benefit of those with the highest income;

"Since the placement of video lottery terminals in bars in Ontario and in permanent casinos in various locations across the province represents an escalation of gambling opportunities; and

"Since Premier Mike Harris and Finance Minister Ernie Eves were so critical of the provincial government becoming involved in further gambling ventures and making the government more dependent on gambling revenues to maintain government operations;

"We, the undersigned, call upon Premier Mike Harris and the government of Ontario to reconsider its announced decision to introduce the most insidious form of gambling, video lottery terminals, to restaurants and bars in the province."

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




Resuming the adjourned debate on the motion for second reading of 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 Speaker (Hon Chris Stockwell): The member for Dufferin-Peel had the floor.

Mr Gilles Bisson (Cochrane South): He's not here.

The Speaker: Further debate, the member for Downsview.

Ms Annamarie Castrilli (Downsview): Mr Speaker, may I first of all take this opportunity, since it's my first opportunity, to congratulate you as Speaker. I'm sure you will do a formidable job, and we're all looking forward to it. With your indulgence, I'll be splitting my time with the member for St Catharines.

The Speaker: Is there permission from the government side?

Ms Castrilli: Do we have permission?

The Speaker: Yes.

Mr Bisson: It's called "unanimous consent."

The Speaker: Is there unanimous consent to split the leadoff time between the two? Agreed.

Ms Frances Lankin (Beaches-Woodbine): That's a better question than "Is there permission from the government side?"

The Speaker: I'm sorry. That was probably inappropriate. I apologize. The member for Downsview.

Ms Castrilli: Calling Bill 79 the Courts Improvement Act is a sham. The stated purposes of the bill, as set out, are to amend the Courts of Justice Act to permit the appointment of case management; to change the names of Ontario courts from Ontario Court (General Division) to Superior Court of Justice and from Ontario Court (Provincial Division) to Ontario Court of Justice; to give power to make regulations under the Charities Accounting Act to the Attorney General; and to make housekeeping and minor amendments to the Courts of Justice Act and the Children's Law Reform Act.

Let me say at the beginning that I'm very much in favour of the simplified rules for charities. The kinds of provisions under this act dealing with charities certainly will be welcomed by the charities themselves, that have had to deal with a lot of bureaucratic delays in doing what is very routine activity such as purchasing insurance for directors. Certainly, with respect to that portion of the bill, part II, I am in agreement.

I look forward to assessing further the effectiveness of case managers, who are introduced under part I of the act. As you know, there have been some pilot projects with respect to case managers, and the results are still quite mixed. Whether they will be effective remains to be seen.

The real problem with the bill is that it fails miserably in addressing the fundamental and most serious problems with the justice system as we now have it. This is only a thinly veiled agenda to change the names of the courts. This is not substantive, it is not meaningful, nor is changing the names of justices meaningful or substantive.

The first thing I'd like to address is the cost of some of these changes. The member for Dufferin-Peel said yesterday that this was to avoid public confusion. If that's the case I guess we're going to have to make some changes to the courts, to the names of the courts. It's interesting to note what this will actually cost us. In fact, if you take into account that we have 160 courthouses in the province and the Toronto Star in July this year indicated that it would cost an estimated $160,000 to $800,000 to change the signs on those courthouses, one wonders why we're going to that trouble when we have such a serious crisis in the justice system and the minister is cutting quite significantly in his own portfolio.

The minister well knows that there are some very serious problems. Offenders are now being released on to our streets and the justice system is clearly grinding to a halt, according to some of the people who are most directly involved in the justice system, not just as politicians

I will remind the Speaker that we've had several cases this year that have been tossed out because of the crisis in the justice system, because of the lack of crown attorneys, because of the lack of facilities. These include cases that go all the way to rape. I remind the Speaker that the Toronto Sun reported on January 20 that a rape charge had been tossed out, and it wasn't the only one that was tossed out. We had several that were tossed out. It's really unbelievable to think that we would not be safe in our own homes. It's unconscionable to think that we would have to worry about our safety on the streets because of the lack of foresight and planning of this government.

There are now 461 crown attorneys in this province, down from 481 earlier this year, and they are grappling with a caseload that is staggering -- something in excess of 500,000 cases for 461 people to handle per year, and that caseload is growing. Lest people should not be aware of this, our crown attorneys are funded at the very lowest level in the country. This is what we think of our justice system. Yet we continue to cut crown attorneys; the government continues to cut court staff; the government continues to reduce funding. In total, 606 jobs and $60 million have been yanked out of the ministry, and I'm sure very much is still to come.

You'll be interested to know that we are even facing a shortage of judges. There are some interesting statistics which you should be aware of with respect to the number of judges we have per population. In a case that came before the courts recently, September of this year as a matter of fact, the following statistics were cited: In Essex, with a population of 339,230 people, they had nine judges; in Middlesex, with a slightly higher population, 14; in Hamilton-Wentworth, almost 465,000 people, only 17 justices; in Ottawa-Carleton, with 730,000, only 15 judges; in Simcoe, with 312,000, seven judges; in Brampton, with almost a million people, 10 judges this year. This makes for some really difficult decisions for the justice system in trying to balance time, in trying to find time to try those very serious criminal cases that come before them.

Province-wide, nearly one third of all criminal cases are now on red alert. In the greater Toronto area nearly half of all the criminal cases in the Ontario Court (General Division), which deals with the most serious criminal offences, are now on red alert. Other regions are becoming equally dangerous. I refer, for instance, to a Toronto Star story of September 28 of this year which says quite clearly, "Delays Threaten 50% of Criminal Trials." What that means is that if these cases stay in the system longer than eight months, they risk being thrown out. We cannot afford another Askov crisis, in which more than 100,000 criminal cases were dropped, but that's the direction in which we're heading because we're cutting so dramatically, we're cutting without planning and we're cutting without thinking about the very real damage that will occur in society.


You will remember that last January some of our top judges, Justices Dubin, McMurtry and Linden, wrote to the Attorney General to say that there was a crisis looming, that something needed to be done. I'd like to quote from that letter:

"It is apparent that little, if any, consideration has been given to the impact of the cuts which are being proposed on the ability of the justice system to serve the public, and the right of the public to have access to the courts. We would urge you to seek a moratorium on any cuts to the administration of justice until a proper analysis of the impact of any proposed cuts can be made. Unless this is done, we fear that the result may well be chaotic."

This is from the top judges in the province, some of the most respected legal minds in Ontario. They do not take actions lightly. When they write to the minister to suggest that there is a crisis, we have to believe them. That crisis, frankly, is upon us.

We all remember that this government made an election promise. Their Common Sense Revolution said very clearly that they would guarantee full funding for law enforcement and justice. I wonder how that stands. How do you reconcile a promise which is so clear, which is set out in black and white, with the current actions of this government? How can you possibly reconcile the guarantee of funding vis-à-vis a cut of $60 million and a loss of 600 jobs? That is a question for the government to answer.

I acknowledge that there have been some additional moneys invested into courthouses in several cities, but the fact remains that the system will continue to disintegrate without adequate staffing levels -- without prosecutors, without court staff -- above all, without a plan. All the courthouses in the world will not deal with the problem of the backlog. As I pointed out, that backlog is very real, is very critical and will have a tremendous impact on our society and on our safety.

The minister has repeatedly denied plans to lay off crown attorneys. He has denied plans to scale back prosecutions. He has denied, but all of his actions are to the contrary. The facts are clear: $60 million has been cut, 606 jobs have been lost and the system is in chaos.

I'd like to quote Mr Justice Casey Hill, who just recently threw out a criminal charge due to the intolerable delays, who placed the blame squarely on the shoulders of the government. He said, "To the extent that there exists institutional governmental recklessness arising from insufficient resources, this cannot be condoned by the courts." The courts are being put in an impossible position of having to deal with a situation not of their making, a situation which they consider to be unjust but over which they have no power to act.

We all know that more recently Madam Justice Lang spoke out very strongly on the growing chaos within the courts due to the funding reductions. In a memo she outlines the layoffs of file clerks, useless statistics on numbers and kinds of cases heard by the courts in the Toronto region, long delays, significant delays in issuing and entering judgements of court orders, profound data entry problems, problems of courtroom security. This is as recently as October 1 of this year. Madam Justice Lang attributes the problems to the implementation of budget cutbacks before the implementation of considered efficiencies; in other words, no planning, just cuts.

The minister's failure to act quickly and substantively is contributing to the problem. With his policy of cut now and Band-Aid later, it's a bogged-down criminal justice system that will continue until the real solutions are implemented, and it is the reason this piece of legislation is of no real value.

It has been suggested that the minister will further slash crown prosecutors as soon as caseloads have been reduced. He plans to avoid prosecuting certain crimes, such as break and enter and threats and fraud. Imagine encouraging that kind of behaviour by not prosecuting it any more. At a time when we have increased poverty, at a time when we have increased unemployment, at a time when people are losing their jobs, this is the very time that we decide not to prosecute break and enters. It's giving a licence to people to steal. It's creating tremendous anxiety in the community. It is creating tremendous anxiety particularly among the most vulnerable, our seniors who still live at home, who face the prospect of not having these crimes prosecuted and therefore encouraged.

A prosecution blitz, I suggest, is no longer a matter of choice, it's a necessity, yet it is still only a temporary solution. But because what we have right now is an unmanageable backlog of cases before us I would call for a halt to all further funding reductions and, from emergency round table discussions between people who understand the system, who are involved in the system, individuals who have already criticized the system from within, suggest that it's time for action, that we cannot just think of the bottom line, that there is a social cost here; that it is also fundamental that we give access to our courts to individuals. The present system simply does not do that.

There are many other issues within the justice sectors that require close attention. In the wake of this government's determination to slash spending within the family support plan, for instance, single parents and children have suffered as their cheques have been delayed in the bureaucratic shuffle.

Community-based solutions have been ignored. Instead, what we have done is institute 1-800 numbers, 1-900 numbers, making it even more difficult for people to find justice and to find solutions and to find an equitable way to deal with the problems they have to face on a daily basis.

The victims' services: There was a good-news announcement a while back, you may remember, about how moneys collected through the victims' justice fund should be returned to local communities, a move that I certainly applaud. Yet earlier this year the government withdrew $10.2 million from the fund and failed to assure victims that this assistance will continue beyond two years; nor has it explained what it intends to do with the remaining millions.

Victims have been asking for an explanation. In spite of the assurances that were given that these moneys would be there to assist them, they have been worried that they will not be there. I think it's time that the government makes it clear what it intends to do with that fund and makes it clear to victims that they should not be victimized once again by the government, having been victimized before by criminals.

For a month the Attorney General sat on the sidelines while the legal aid system was brought to the brink of collapse.

Mr David Tilson (Dufferin-Peel): On a point of order, Mr Speaker: The topics being raised by the opposition at this particular point in time are dealing with her role as a critic of the Attorney General's office. She's going through a whole slew of topics which have absolutely nothing to do with this bill. It may be with respect to a general critique of the Attorney General's office, but not with respect to this bill. I would hope that she would stick to the topic.

Ms Castrilli: Mr Speaker, I think the comments I am making are exactly the point. We have a justice system that is in shambles and what we've got from the government is nothing more than platitudes, and that's what this bill is all about. I think it's entirely appropriate to show the shortcomings of a government that does not really take seriously the justice system and the crisis that it faces.


As I was saying, for months the Attorney General sat on the sidelines while the legal aid system was brought to the brink of collapse, an essential component of the justice system that ensures access to justice by ordinary Ontarians. That has created tremendous difficulty for people as they have tried to access the courts. Let us remember that the courts are not just for the rich, they're not just for the wealthy; they're for all of us. Justice is supposed to be blind and it's supposed to be blind also to our bank accounts. The kind of system that we have now does not make it possible for ordinary people to access the system fairly. We have in fact very few lawyers who are willing to take legal aid cases, and those numbers decrease daily.

I'd also like to remind the members that following the Galligan report into Karla Homolka's plea bargain agreement, I asked for the commitment of the minister to develop plea bargain guidelines, because that's another area where there has been significant concern on the part of the public not only in Ontario but throughout Canada. People have been very concerned that criminals can bargain their way to freedom without any kind of guidelines, without any kind of rules, without any kind of public accountability.

I asked for the minister's commitment to develop plea bargaining guidelines and in fact I was given that commitment on at least one occasion in this House. But up till now, we have seen nothing. I think that's very serious. I think we need to ask that there be very clear rules for that aspect of the justice system and that there be a time frame for implementation, because the wounds that have followed the consequences of the Karla Homolka and Bernardo tragedies remain with us and remain with the Ontario public, and it's up to us to make sure that those kinds of things do not happen again.

We've seen other cuts which have included reduced funding for partners in community safety programs, and certainly in halfway houses and the Ontario Provincial Police. Particularly in the area of halfway houses I'd like to focus just a moment of your attention. The justice committee of this House investigated the whole issue of the abolition of halfway houses. Every expert who came before us said: "You cannot abolish them. They are a necessary component of the justice system. They're a necessary component of the rehabilitation process. They're a necessary part of a continuum of justice if we are to have a successful system." Yet the alternative, as far as the government is concerned, would be electronic monitoring, which is not a deterrent, as we found out from some of the expert witnesses who came before us. It isn't even a deterrent, because 50% of people who are on electronic monitoring offend while they're on electronic monitoring. The whole point of halfway houses was to provide a bridge between the justice system and the community.

Not to mention the cuts in the provincial police: Again, I remind you that the Common Sense Revolution said very clearly, "There will be no cuts to law enforcement and to justice." I had occasion to ask the chief of the police union about this, and I asked him, "What do you think that meant?" He said, "I thought it meant no cuts." Well, of course we've had cuts. Those cuts threatened severely our justice system and our ability to have a safe and secure province.

As if that weren't enough, we've had the announcement just last Friday that the administration of justice offices in Thunder Bay and Brampton will be closing -- more jobs lost, less justice available, less accessibility to justice.

In short, what we have here is a bill that is misnamed. It is not an act to improve Ontario's court system. It isn't that at all. It's an act to change the names of the courts, it's an act to change the names of the justices, it's an act to provide some assistance to charities, but it by no means is an act to improve Ontario's court system.

For all of the reasons I've outlined, this act is deficient, and I wish the Attorney General and the government had the courage to bring in legislation that truly dealt with the problems and truly dealt with reforming our court system, which, as I've indicated, is in desperate need of reform.

The Deputy Speaker (Mr Bert Johnson): For anybody who didn't hear the ruling on the point, the point of order is that a person must speak towards the subject involved, and the Speaker saw nothing the matter with the comments being made.

The Chair recognizes the member for St Catharines.

Mr James J. Bradley (St Catharines): Thank you, Mr Speaker. I recognize your wisdom in this regard. Your flexibility has to be commended by all members of the Legislature who recognize that in dealing with these bills there are many peripheral issues that we like to bring into it, because it's all part of the justice system. I appreciate your ruling in that particular case. I think it's a very wise one.

I look at this bill, as my colleague from Downsview has, as essentially an excuse to change the name of the courts. Its effect on really streamlining the system so that it can be more effective is minimal, if I may have a somewhat objective look at it. It's objective because I'm not a lawyer and I have no job in the judicial system, nor do I ever intend to have a job in the judicial system.

But I want to look at what has essentially happened that has slowed down the process. First of all, I think you, Mr Speaker, as all of us who represent constituents across the province, convey to the House or to whomever we can the feeling that people are frustrated at a court system that allows some people to go free. In this particular case, they were allowed to go free because of decisions that are made by the court that it is taking too long to bring a person to justice.

Perhaps I can be accused of erring on the side of wanting to see those who are potentially guilty brought to justice, as opposed to the strict legal interpretations that lawyers may be preoccupied with. I happen to be very concerned when I see that cases are dropped solely because the case has not been brought to court in sufficient time to satisfy certain of the judges. That means that people who have been charged with a crime, who have had police departments working on a case, who have had the crown attorneys, or as most would know them, the prosecutors, working on a case have those cases abandoned. So the time, in essence, spent on a case already has been somewhat of a waste of time, and we're not even going to see the case come to fruition; that is, a decision by the court on whether the accused is guilty or not guilty and what penalty shall be meted out if the person is guilty. That's frustrating to the average person who doesn't follow the court system carefully.

I've been in a court only once and that was representing the province of Ontario in a court in Detroit against the authority which was building the new incinerator in the city of Detroit. They wanted to have that incinerator constructed with only electrostatic precipitators instead of the scrubber baghouse technology which was required.

I found it a fascinating experience, you'll be interested to know, Mr Speaker, because you have to make judgements in this regard. One actually had to answer the questions when the lawyers put questions to an individual on the stand. Having been a minister in years gone by, I had to be reminded several times by the judge in the Detroit court to answer the question instead of dealing with some other matters, as ministers are wont to do in this House, and it was a rather shocking experience.

But I digress. I want to go back to the legislation itself. I want to address myself to that.

I know there has been some courthouse construction, and I think that's important enough. It's important because we need the facilities. There are some planned in Windsor, Hamilton and Cornwall, for instance, and there's a consideration of new facilities in Peel, and some renovations have taken place at 361 University Avenue in Toronto. I want to say that some of that has been good and positive, and I think that will be helpful. I don't think you'll get any objection from members of the opposition there.


Where I'm concerned is when I see the government foisting upon the Attorney General, who surely could not want this to happen, considerable cuts in the number of people available to deal with the cases in the court. I become concerned. I side with the Attorney General when in private he has to go to cabinet to describe this, then come to the House and nod his head in a sideways motion when he must defend the government policies.

It is clear that a shortage of personnel is the most serious problem that we have in Ontario at this time. There are, as of September 23, 1996, only 461 prosecutors in Ontario. That's down from 481 earlier this year. The government has not replaced 20 crown attorneys lost through attrition this year, and indications are that this trend will continue. The crowns that remain on staff face ever-increasing caseloads.

A former colleague of mine in the Legislature, on the governing side at that time, a former Attorney General of this province, the Honourable Roy McMurtry, Chief Justice in Ontario at this time, "has called for more judges and staff for the Ontario Court of Appeal, saying it will be unable to resolve cases within the case management framework recommended by the Civil Justice Review. Chief Justice McMurtry has stated that US appeal courts have at least four to five times the number of judges, law clerks and lawyers for the same caseload, and that Ontario also has fewer appellate judges per capita than other Canadian provinces." Who am I to second-guess the former Attorney General of the province of Ontario, I think a former member for Eglinton and a man well respected in the judicial community and in the law community for his many years of service in this House and now on the bench?

"These problems will not be solved or addressed by the creation of new court facilities, though they are helpful, or by changing the names of courts or by spending public funds on new signs, letterheads and official forms. One study commissioned by the Association of Law Officers of the Crown has shown that if the government is forced by the staffing cuts to look to outside counsel for legal advice and representation in civil matters, it will end up costing the province tens of millions of dollars, as outside lawyers working on government contracts tend to bill at about $169 per hour, as opposed to the $110 per hour effectively paid to government lawyers."


Mr Bradley: I heard the interjection from the Attorney General, who said that they are going to, on contract, hire individuals for this purpose. We see, in this particular case, Justice McMurtry suggesting that the costs will be excessive. Again, I would ever hate to doubt or question Chief Justice McMurtry in matters of this kind, with his knowledge, background and experience in this field. The Attorney General smiles.

As far as the charities regulation is concerned, there are some good things in this, I think. "The action to be taken in this bill will avoid the need for charities to obtain court approval for technical issues involving no serious dispute, such as using funds to purchase insurance." I think some would want to help out the charities in that regard.

I noticed in the World's Biggest Bookstore in Toronto that there was a book on sale by Walter Stewart, apparently on charities in Ontario. I must read that. I think it's Walter Stewart, who has written several books. This one is new. I think it's about $29, so I might be able to afford this one, even on the meagre salary that is paid in this House. I intend to read that because it may have some effect on the ramifications of this bill.

It's clear that this so-called Courts Improvement Act is a thin disguise for the government's true agenda; that is, to change the name of Ontario courts for the second time -- I know the member for Etobicoke-Humber must be shocked at this, and Etobicoke-Rexdale as well -- in five years. Both these individuals are people who have said that they want to see a halt in unnecessary government expenditures. Here we have an example of it. I would hate to think what the member for Etobicoke-Lakeshore would have to say, having read some of his comments on other matters before the House, comments with which I find myself in full agreement. I hope he does write more op ed pieces for the Toronto Star, because they are very informative for the general public.

"This needless and costly change does nothing to address the real and serious problems confronting our justice system at this time. This pointless exercise will not deal with the fictional public confusion about the courts. In fact, by changing the name of the courts for the second time in five years, this bill is likely to worsen, not reduce, public confusion."

I would suggest that most members of this assembly who are not lawyers couldn't tell you one court from another court, in any event. Just when we get used to calling them by one name, Mr Speaker, you and I will now have to find out what the new name is and read all the signs that go with it.

"Perhaps this change" -- no, I'd better not read that part because it suggests something about Superior Court justices that I cannot prove.

"Whatever the reason, there's no justification for the waste of what could amount to be $2.5 million of taxpayers' moneys on new signs and letterhead for the 160 courthouses across Ontario."

If there was one thing this government wanted to be certain about, it was to eliminate these kind of unnecessary expenditures. No doubt, tomorrow morning, when the government caucus meets with the cabinet in full caucus, the members of the back bench of the government will be raising this issue and asking why they could possibly want to waste $2.5 million in taxpayers' money on new signs and letterhead for the 160 courthouses across Ontario. They will no doubt challenge this, and I encourage them to do so. After they have finished challenging the Minister of Health over the hospitals he's closing, they'll want to get on to this issue.

"It is absolutely inexcusable for this government to be fiddling about with name changes, spending taxpayers' money on new courthouse signs and letterhead, while a court backlog crisis threatens 50% of criminal cases on the books in Metro, while the government continues to allow the number of prosecutors to dwindle, while even Ontario's Chief Justice is calling for more judges and staff to handle the existing caseload."

This must concern the member from Rexdale, who is a fiscal conservative.

Mr John Hastings (Etobicoke-Rexdale): More than you'd ever know.

Mr Bradley: That's probably true.

"The resurrection of case management masters may be helpful in speeding up the resolution of civil court cases in Ontario." We welcome any measures that might achieve that goal, so I want to be positive; I don't want to be negative throughout this. I find some good things in the bill and I find some bad things. Sometimes they come back: They're removed by one government, then another government has a look at them and they will do it. I'm prepared to be positive and constructive in my comments where I feel the government is doing the right thing and I'll be negative when they are not.

"However, this measure will do nothing to resolve the serious problem unless the government plans to invest proper resources and planning and appoints sufficient masters to handle the vast volume of work. The government has already failed to show its commitment to ensuring there's a sufficient number of judges or prosecutors."

Let's see why the government is doing some of these things. It's obvious, as my colleague the member for Scarborough-Agincourt has said on many occasions, that the tax cut is part of this. There is a debate in the United States as well, and a debate nationally here. The federal Progressive Conservative Party thought it would be attractive. Despite the caution of John Crosbie, an eminent and wise individual in the former government of Prime Minister Mulroney, who cautioned that at this time they cannot afford a tax cut, the YPCs -- there are other names that members use for them here; they are more extreme in their opinions than regular members of the Conservative caucus, I'm told -- persuaded the government they should move in this direction.


But I want to say that if the government is to deliver its 30% cut in the provincial income tax, a cut which will benefit the wealthiest and most privileged people in our society the most, it's going to cost us in services in this province. I would prefer to see the quality of life enhanced in Ontario rather than putting more money back in my pocket through a cut in the provincial income tax.

I would say I want to see that quality of life increased for the people of Rexdale, for the people of Wellington and Peel, for the people of Stayner, Owen Sound and other places. The member for Grey-Owen Sound is here this afternoon. He will know what I'm talking about when I say that the quality of life is diminishing for people in this province when the government unwisely implements cuts so it can finance a tax cut.

I remember the member for Grey-Owen Sound was critical of the tax cut, not because he said people wouldn't like to have it, but he said that in his area -- and I read the Owen Sound Sun Times very often; it's one of my favourite newspapers. He noted that in his area they're closing hospitals and they're diminishing the number of teachers in schools and there's a real problem out there that the member for Grey-Owen Sound and I, who don't always agree on matters, both agree on. Certainly I think the court system would be the same. If I asked the member for Grey-Owen Sound or any member of this House, "Do you want to see people going free because a case can't be brought to court and proceeded with in an appropriate period of time?" they'd say, "No, let's put the resources forward." It's happened in the past and everybody's tried to address it.

The Attorney General will be eager, as will the parliamentary assistant, to say, "Well, what happened back in the years when you people were in power?" Indeed it's been an ongoing problem. I thought this government would address it because I well remember the member for Willowdale, the good opposition critic that he was -- and I hope he has the opportunity to serve in that capacity again because he was very good as an opposition critic in the field of justice. I remember his bringing to this House the issue of courts and how slow the courts were and what that was meaning for cases before the courts. But when I see them cutting prosecutors, and my friend the member for Wentworth North who was a prosecutor would understand this, and not having sufficient number of judges, we're going to see people going free who shouldn't be going free. And all this in the context of fewer police officers as well. So the justice system is in difficulty.

In Metropolitan Toronto today they have far fewer police officers than they had five years ago and many of our Conservative friends would suggest that the crime cases are more significant today than they were then, and yet I see them cutting the number of police, the number of prosecutors and the number of judges. I wonder how, on one hand, they can be extremely right-wing and anti-crime, but with the other hand they are pulling away the resources from the justice system to deal with these problems. Certainly in the social services system we see the funds being withdrawn there, where the problems originate.

I'm pleased to be able to discuss the bill as a non-lawyer, as an objective observer of this House, a bill which has some features which I think are commendable and are supportable and some features which I think are not. I could go into some considerable detail on these matters, but I think that members of this House have had sufficient contribution from me in this regard.

I'm going to be listening as I did listen with interest to the member for Downsview on her observations as a person steeped in expertise in the legal field. I'll be interested in the former Attorney General, the member for London Centre, and her observations and those of others in this House who are perhaps more familiar with the intricate details of the ramifications of this legislation.

But sufficient to say, Mr Speaker, as I know you will agree in your heart of hearts, that if this government is truly committed to bringing about a good justice system in this province, to fighting crime in this province, it would restore the number of police officers and increase them, it would restore the number of prosecutors and increase them, and restore the number of judges and increase them to process this. We do not get a quality of life without being prepared to invest the funds in that quality of life.

I know that tomorrow morning, having heard this speech and others, my good friends in the Conservative caucus will confront the parliamentary assistant and the Attorney General and the real people who run the government, the advisers of the Premier, who will be there to put the case forward, and instead of simply applauding -- as they have to in the House, and I understand that -- the minister and the Premier and being nice to the advisers to the Premier, behind closed doors when you have the opportunity, you will do as the new Speaker of the House used to do in his former incarnation as a backbench member of the Conservative Party. You will call the authorities to task and demand that we have a justice system which is appropriately financed and supported by this government.

The Deputy Speaker: Questions and comments?

Mr Tilson: The members for St Catharines and Downsview have made some interesting comments. I'd like to correct some of the things they're talking about. They have talked about how this bill is going to result in a tremendous cost to the taxpayer of this province, and they refer to the changing of signs on courthouses and other such things.

I can tell you that the town that I come from, which is a town called Orangeville, has a courthouse. There are many rural courthouses around this province that all have a sign on their front lawn. And you know what it says? It doesn't say "The Ontario Court of Justice" or "The Ontario Court (General Division)" or "The Ontario Court (Provincial Division)"; it says "Courthouse." That's the sign that you're suggesting is going to cost zillions of dollars for changing it. I can say that you'd better start looking at some of the signs that you're talking about that are going to result in those costs.

With respect to the stationery or the forms of the current system, the government has thought that out very carefully. Again, if you review the legislation and the paperwork that has been put forward by our ministry, you will see that it'll take one year after the bill has been proclaimed for the new documentation to take effect. So there is going to be absolutely zero cost with respect to the introduction of this bill.

This whole bill, if you listened to my comments last week, was started by your government. When I say "your government," I mean the Liberal government, the continuation of the amendment to the process that you started off. In fact, the 60,000 cases that were turfed out weren't the fault of the Askov case, they weren't the fault of the NDP government. They were the fault of your government, and they took the blame for it. As a result of your actions, or your inactions, that caused that terrible disgrace, unfortunately the NDP had to take the blame for that.

Mr Speaker, I guess my time has expired.

Mr Bisson: I recognize, as do many people in this House, that this bill deals with civil law, not with criminal law, but none the less the member did make mention of the police. I think it comes back to what we talked about in this House a little while ago, which is that this government is doing a raft of reforms that don't do a heck of a lot to advance the cause of the people of this province. It has more to do with following somewhat of a corporate agenda.

I look at what they're doing in the police, all of it to pay for the tax cut, and I recognize that this is the Attorney General's bill, but none the less it's being rumoured that the Solicitor General will pass the costs of policing in communities like Iroquois Falls, Cochrane, Matheson, Manitouwadge and other communities that are now being patrolled by the Ontario Provincial Police directly on to the residents of those communities, a service that used to be paid for by the province of Ontario, that was run by the province of Ontario and that was funded by provincial tax dollars.

What is this government doing in order to pay for its tax cut so that the wealthy in this province can make a buck through their tax cut? They're transferring the cost of that on to those municipalities. All of this at a time when the government, when it was in third place, ran on the Common Sense Revolution, which said, "There is only one taxpayer." I remember that quite well. They said, "We're not going to offload any of our responsibilities on to the lower levels of government." They weren't going to do such a thing, and they were going to work with municipalities to try to figure out ways to become more efficient.

In speaking to mayors across northeastern Ontario, more specifically to the mayors of Cochrane South, Mr Power and Mr Graham, they say to me: "Hey, these guys aren't talking to us. They aren't coming to us and saying how they're going to deal with the question of being able to have the local citizens pay for police." Not at all. They're doing that behind closed doors, they're making their own decisions about how they're going to do it and the people who are affected don't even have their say. So I think the member for St Catharines, although that particular point wasn't directly related to this bill, does make a good point and I think the people of Ontario are starting to wise up to what this government is really doing.


Hon Charles Harnick (Attorney General, minister responsible for native affairs): Mr Speaker, thank you for the opportunity to reply to the speech by the member for St Catharines, eloquent as always. I was very pleased that the member for St Catharines made reference to Chief Justice McMurtry, the wise judge and very good politician that he was when he was the Attorney General, because it's quite simply the recommendation of Chief Justice McMurtry that caused us to review the name of the court. That is exactly why we took the step we did: to avoid confusion, to name the court in a way that's consistent with the way the court is referred to in most statutes, to be consistent with other provinces. It also bears noting that the reference to justices and calling judges of the provincial court "justice" was something that was passed by a Liberal government in the late 1980s and never proclaimed. We will now be proclaiming a section that will refer to provincial court judges as justices.

The other thing I want to touch on is the reference that was made by the member for St Catharines to reductions in the complement of crown attorneys. I've been very clear that there will not be any reductions to the complement of crown attorneys. At the present time, we have a full complement of crown attorneys. There will not be any reductions to the complement of crown attorneys. On top of that group of very dedicated men and women, we also have per diem crowns who supplement their numbers. We will continue to use those per diem people as needed.

The other thing that I'd like to tell you is that there was a reference by the member for Downsview that the crown attorneys in the province of Ontario are the worst paid in the country. I've spoken with the member from Hamilton, Mr Skarica, a former crown attorney. He assures me that crown attorneys in this province are the best paid in the country.

Mr Tony Martin (Sault Ste Marie): I find it passing strange that the minister could get up and then talk as he just did in this place, knowing all his government has done to destroy the system of justice that has been built up over the years in this province.

The Deputy Speaker: The comments are to the speakers.

Mr Martin: Okay. I guess I'll just agree with the speaker in everything she said in condemning the minister and the things he's doing to the justice system in this province. It's amazing that no area is left untouched by this government in its attempt to diminish the role of government, to take away from people the very rights we've all fought for over the years, side by side, so that we can be held up as one of the most progressive and caring countries in the whole world. Ontario, in Canada, is seen as a jurisdiction that people everywhere would give their soul to come and live in. Because of the system of justice that we have in place people have access to the courts. The cuts that are being made by this government are just unbelievable.

When you think about it, in my own community the number of people now who used to have access to legal aid and the community legal clinics and all the different institutions that were put in place over the years by your government when it was in power before, by the Liberal government, supported and improved on by the NDP government when we were in power, now all that has been taken away, all that is as so much sand with water poured on it -- it's disappearing. I'm concerned and I certainly stand toe to toe with the members from the Liberal Party as they stand up and condemn this government for the very drastic and damaging cuts it's making. There's nothing in this government's --

The Deputy Speaker: The member's time has expired. The member for Downsview.

Ms Castrilli: I'll just make a few comments, first with respect to comments made by the member for Dufferin-Peel. I don't recall ever suggesting the Askov case was anyone's fault. I was simply pointing out, as judges have pointed out, that we have a very serious situation which approximates what happened then. We're talking about 50% of cases in Metro Toronto and 33% of cases in Ontario that are now on red alert and are capable of being thrown out. They've been in the system almost eight months. That's the significance of the Askov decision that the government needs to be aware of and cannot fudge with and cannot try to blame on anyone else.

I also want to challenge what the Attorney General has said. The fact is that the number of crown attorneys is down from 481 to 461 and the funding of crown attorneys is at the lowest level. Those aren't figures that we made up; they come from the crown attorneys' association itself. Mr Skarica notwithstanding, the reality is that we fund our system at the lowest level in Canada. It shows, and that is why we have the crisis we have at this point in time.

This bill is really about people's safety, accessibility to the justice system and fairness. This bill does pretends that it improves the system. It's called an act to improve Ontario's court system but will do very little to improve the system, give accessibility, give justice, give fairness and give people security in their own homes and on the streets. I think it's not named properly and it is unforgivable that the government should try to dupe the people of Ontario by suggesting it is anything other than a renaming of the courts.

The Deputy Speaker: Further debate?

Mrs Marion Boyd (London Centre): I am delighted to have an opportunity to stand and speak on this act. I will differ with my friends from the Liberal Party in talking about this act. I will attempt, at least, to use the time I have to help people understand why this is an important improvement in the courts. It's not perfect, and in the course of my remarks I will talk about the things that concern me that are not in this act that would have made it much more responsive to the kinds of suggestions that were made by the Civil Justice Review.

None the less, let me say that I empathize with the Attorney General. It is very difficult to get the people of Ontario to understand what a huge transformation is happening in the court system. It's important for us to recognize that transformation is long overdue. While it would be improper, probably, to suggest that the system has been limping along using quill pens, it's not too far from the truth. In fact, the system has not evolved, has not changed to the extent it ought to have to meet the needs of the system.

The person who began that change was the former Attorney General, a member of the Liberal Party, who made the first big changes in terms of the court system. Those changes went into effect in 1990. I think it's important for people to understand that those changes caused a great deal of disruption and bad feeling within the justice system. They were done rather abruptly, with what the members of the courts, various levels of the courts, felt was not enough consultation. It was done in a way that was not explained to the general public, and that's why it's important for us to use this occasion to talk about why these are important changes and why it's necessary for us to understand a little bit more about how our justice system works.

While I would not suggest that the Askov situation occurred simply because of the disruption and dismay -- need I say what has been described to me by various people as actual despair -- within the court system, it had its effect. For the system to work appropriately, it needs to have the strong support of all members of the system. Quite frankly, the disruption that was caused by those changes caused a great deal of ill feeling and, I would suggest, contributed to some real difficulties that our government then experienced in carrying on some of the changes from there.

That's why I'd like to deal first with this issue around the change of names of the courts. I'm comforted this afternoon, and certainly we will all be watching to make sure that the Attorney General's word is kept, that changing the name of the court will not have the kinds of costs that have been speculated about in the press. The reality is that in order for the changes to occur, there needs to be a real buy-in and a better understanding of the levels of justice that are there within the court system.


It is important for the Attorney General to make a change which will be seen as supportive of the justices at all levels in order for them to be active and enthusiastic participants in the change, because the change that's being implied by putting in place a case management system is a huge change. It requires the buy-in of all the participants within the system. It is important that when there have been irritations that may seem trivial to us -- certainly I, like the member for St Catharines, have no vested interested here. I'm not a lawyer and I certainly never intend to be part of the judicial system and have no desire to be, but I understand that for those who are part of the judicial system, a name is more than a name.

For many of the justices, because they deal with their counterparts all over the country, they have found it particularly demeaning that their superior court is not seen as being a superior court. In fact, I can remember both the late Chief Justice Callaghan and the former Chief Justice Dubin saying to me in very passionate terms that it was hard for me to understand why this was such an issue for them, but it would be easier for me to understand if we didn't call our ministers in government "ministers" but every other province did. It is important for us to understand that that is true. It is particularly true of a profession where, frankly, the terminology of pecking order is no small thing. It is a profession that puts a lot of its emphasis on the relationship between different levels of competence, different levels of practice, and pursues within itself a real pecking order depending on the level of experience that people have. It is not surprising that people set a lot of store by a name in that kind of system.

I think we should get away from that. I need to be very clear that I don't think that's very healthy in an institution, that I think we probably depend far too much on titles, that it is important for us to understand that titles don't make the person. But in the practical circumstances that are being faced by the current government in implementing massive changes that were begun by the Liberal government when it was in power, were continued by our government and now fall to their lot to continue to pursue, it is important that these kinds of irritations disappear.

I will say to the minister that while I wish it weren't necessary and I wish we all could really ignore this kind of hierarchical naming, I understand why it is important for the minister to include this in this bill and why it is part of the price he is paying to get the cooperation he needs to make the huge changes that are implied.

It's really important for the people who are listening to this debate to understand that this bill has nothing to do with criminal process in law except by extension. In other words, this is talking about the civil side of the law -- a very undramatic, often unromantic area of law, and one which people who have not come in contact with civil law often fail to appreciate. But it is a part of the law that affects the largest number of people in a very direct way, because of course all of family law is part of civil law, Small Claims Court is part of the civil process, and then of course all of the tort system that goes through is part of that civil justice system. All of those areas affect, indeed, the quality of life for people, and often in a more direct way than a criminal process does. The criminal process affects us when we are the victim or the witness to a criminal act. It affects all of us as a society because it makes us feel less safe. But the civil law is the law that we can appeal to in terms of maintaining quality of life through many different ways. So it is an important part, yet it's very hard to get those who are not engaged in civil law to understand how much it affects the day-to-day life of individuals.

One of the ways in which we tried to do that in our government was to have the process of the civil law review, to try to have a process that involved members of the public as well as those who are engaged in the judiciary, in the legal professions, to actually look at the process that goes on through the civil justice system and to take some responsibility for designing the kinds of changes that need to be made.

The process that we went through with the civil justice review -- and the parliamentary assistant referred in his introductory remarks to the great debt this bill owes to that process -- was probably one of the more stimulating exercises that one could have in terms of looking at a change of this sort, because it was a process that engaged all of those who had had experience, one way or another, through representatives of the public, the judiciary, the courts administration and, of course, lawyers. So the recommendations that came forward didn't look at the law strictly from the point of view of the legal profession or from the judicial point of view or from an administrative point of view; we had the input of the public into that whole process, and that was extraordinarily important.

I should tell you that those who conducted the civil law review were, quite bluntly, blown away by the dissatisfaction expressed by people within the general population when they went out to consultation in many communities around Ontario, when they heard of the way in which people were feeling victimized by the untimeliness of the court process, by the difficulty of getting their issues dealt with in a prompt and clear way, by their belief that the extension of time over which these issues were being considered led to more acrimony and indeed more adversarial concerns, and that this was costing us all, as a system, a great deal.

The advice that was given was blunt. In many cases it was words that those judicial members of the committee had never heard used to them before about the system. It called upon all of those within the legal profession to really look not only at the conduct of the judiciary but at the conduct of lawyers themselves in terms of prolonging this whole system.

The changes that the Attorney General has introduced in Bill 79 are only a small part of the process that is required in order to case-manage this system. I'm going to read from page 181 of the Civil Justice Review, because I think it is important for us to understand what case management is all about. First of all, reading from page 175 of the report, the study that was done of a number of case management projects undertaken under our government and that came out in 1993 indicated:

"(a) that case management has reduced the delay between most stages in proceedings and substantially reduced the overall passage of time from commencement to resolution;

"(b) that less overall time spent on case-managed files by the bar and the public resulted in lower overall costs; and

"(c) that the cost per file of administering case-managed cases to resolution is significantly lower than that of administering non-case-managed files."

In other words, we took the process of trying out case management over a number of years and in different models in this province over the last five years.


We have the data now and reports on how that worked on which the current minister could base this kind of recommendation to the Legislature. It's something we should all be very proud of and we should give credit where credit is due, because for those judges and those court administrators who had the courage to go forward and try these things out, life wasn't always easy. In fact, they frequently found themselves the recipients of all of the frustration that members of the public and indeed their colleagues had been feeling over a number of years.

But it was tried out and it was evaluated. There were a number of evaluations that were made and universally the decision was, and I'm going to read from page 176 in the report:

"Evaluation of the pilot projects has demonstrated that case management had reduced the time during which cases receive services from the court; the number of services received; and, in some jurisdictions, the number of very expensive services -- trials -- received. Not surprisingly, then, our review of administrative costs on a per-file basis...underscores the potential for long-term savings following a reasonable period of adjustment. Over time, case management can reasonably be expected to result in a net decrease in administrative operating costs."

This goes on in the report at great length because it's terribly important for us to understand that the objective is to get the cases through the court in a timely fashion. The objective is to resolve these disputes, but if the ministry in the way in which they organize case management can do that in a way that also saves costs, surely we all ought to be prepared to give them some credit for that.

It's important, however, for us to really understand what a massive change this is and how many barriers there are to implementing such a change. One of the reports that was done by Quindeca, who looked at the case management systems that we had used, the models that had been used, said:

"At the same time, the biggest hurdles" -- these are the biggest hurdles to case management -- "have come from within the ranks of the active participants: bench officers who do not support or enforce the case management rules; lawyers who abuse the system with repeated motions for extension of time; and administrative staff who delayed in providing an adequate infrastructure to support case management operations. These hurdles, however, were not and are not so formidable that they cannot be overcome. And, in fact, many have already been resolved."

"Perhaps, however, the single most important byproduct of the case management system and the one that is not easily quantified is the numbers of believers in the case management program. Whether the numbers support the final conclusions or not, it is vital that the program's success be measured by whether the people who were hopefuls" -- in other words, hopeful of a change -- "had actually become believers in the system. The mere presence of believers in the system (judges, lawyers and staff)" -- and, I might add, the public -- "all point to a measure of success -- one which may not be quantifiable, but which has a far more significant effect on the program than the ones that are quantifiable. It is especially encouraging that these believers comprise their number from people who have been involved in the program and people who have seen the practical results."

So, for once, this government is taking action based on experience, based on real experience, real testing out of a change, an evaluation of that and a testing that in fact tells us that they are on the right track in many ways with what they are proposing.

I really want to get on the record why this is such an important change, because it is one of those technical kinds of details, one of those things that it is hard for people to appreciate. Let me read again from the Civil Justice Review, on page 180. This is a quote from the report to the review from the 12 case management judges on the Toronto civil project, who were led by Mr Justice Douglas Coo. The report concluded:

"Case management is the way of the future. The judges in the Toronto region, who have been involved in either the original calendar system or in the team, support the expansion to 100% case management for all civil cases in the Toronto region, other than commercial, family and landlord and tenant. The team system has worked well. There need to be some adjustments to the rules to expand the use of registrars to deal with all the routine time extensions and to sign consent orders. As well, time needs to be allocated to allow judges to conduct follow-up appointments during the regular sitting day for the small number of files that would benefit from follow-up with one judge. A fixed, predictable trial date is a cornerstone of case management. Cases will not settle without a fixed date. There are not sufficient judges to hear the necessary trials, if judges are also expected to do motions presently being conducted by the masters. Additional judicial assistance is required to assist with routine contested motions. The restoration and expansion of the masters is the way to provide this much-needed assistance. As well, significant improvements in the system could be achieved. Mandatory early conferences at the close of pleading and trial scheduling conferences, both conducted by masters, would promote early settlement and would result in fewer, shorter trials."

So it's quite clear that the judges who were involved -- and, I may say, not all terribly enthusiastic at the beginning of the experiment -- felt that this was the way to go, but they very clearly said they needed the support of what the Civil Justice Review calls "judicial support officers" in order to accomplish that task. Otherwise there would need to be a huge increase in the numbers of judges, and the likelihood of the federal government agreeing to the numbers that would be required under the section 96 approval system that they have is unlikely. The federal government pays for our justices, and it is important for us to understand that any changes we as a jurisdiction need to make in terms of streamlining our process cannot assume that we are going to get more than our share of the number of judicial positions the federal Liberal government is prepared to fund.

It's important for us to know that within the context of our own situation here in Ontario, we are limited in what we can do. So the solution of having additional support officers, what the minister has chosen to call case management masters, was taken.

I should say that I have tried ever since I became Attorney General to determine why the previous minister, Ian Scott, removed the class of masters out of the picture in the judicial system. I have never received a particular explanation that told me why all of a sudden we found ourselves in a situation where no more masters were to be appointed. Masters are not well understood by the general public because they are seen as being quasi-judicial -- they are quasi-judicial. In fact, they performed, in very selected areas of the province, only three places -- here in Toronto, in Ottawa, and in London --

Hon Mr Harnick: Windsor.

Mrs Boyd: -- oh, and in Windsor -- the specific function of moving motions along, a specific function of doing some of the preliminary work necessary to get a case to trial. That's pretty unglamorous, so a lot of people didn't even understand the importance of them.

As I say, I have no idea why that whole class of people was removed by the previous government. I know we did not believe we should reinstate them at the same level as they had been there in the previous legislation. We believed that it was important to have judicial support officers for whom we had a great deal more flexibility than we did under the old appointment procedures for masters and that we needed to find a way to appoint these people that accorded with the kind of appointment process that had been set up under the Liberal Courts of Justice Act.


So we knew in our government and in our process with going forward with the Civil Justice Review that some solution needed to be found to this kind of position that was necessary in order to move things along. We knew that there were not going to be more justices appointed in overall terms and that if we were going to have a more efficient and effective system, we had to find some way to do it.

It's really important, I think, that the tone set by the Civil Justice Review around case management be prolonged, that the tone and the understanding of the importance of this change as described in the report be understood by everyone. I'd like to read from the report again. It actually quotes the Quindeca report again, summarizing it. It says:

"Case management is not about single acts of herculean effort, though sometimes these are required to take a project over the hump or to reduce the backlog. Instead, case management is about institutionalizing a process and a support component that has as its first and second concern the fair, just, economic and timely management of cases. It is simply a way of doing business.

"Case management is not a pilot project. It is not a buzzword or a fad. It is not a trick to transform judges from experienced, respected jurists into process managers. And, it most certainly is not a means to other ends. Case management is, in fact, an end unto itself. It is preservation of the most important roles and functions of the judiciary. It is ensuring that the public's trust is protected. It is fulfilling the very reason that courts exist. To think of case management in other terms is to relinquish it to a lesser task.

"To make case management the order of business for all, many things must be done.

"Foremost is a clear articulation from the bench, bar and ministry leadership that case management is not a program or a project but is the regular order of business. To this end, case management must cease being a separate set of rules or procedures -- it must instead be the rules of the court, the rules of civil procedure, the standards of judicial administration or the terms of reference.

"As long as the principles of case management are secondary to the daily routine of work, the efforts put towards case management will be extracurricular, excessive and burdensome. And, only a few will do it as they have been doing so far."

So it's important for us to recognize that the step that's being taken by putting case management masters into the Courts of Justice Act is a commitment on the part of this government to follow through with the process of court change that has now been going on for, really, the last 10 years and to take it the step further that it needs to go. It really behooves us all to recognize that and to give credit where credit is due.

There are some difficulties, it seems to me, with the way in which the bill suggests that this would be put into place, and those suggestions are ones that I really hope the Attorney General would be prepared to consider quite seriously, because I think the way in which the appointments process goes on and the way in which this piece of it has been introduced, without the context of the whole plan, is a bit of a problem.

First of all, to speak of the context, much of what is in the Civil Justice Review -- and I would just remind the members of the Legislature that the Civil Justice Review was in and of itself a long and fairly arduous process that involved those engaged in the justice system over a fairly lengthy period of time, but many of the changes that are envisioned in the Civil Justice Review are not the subject of legislation but are a matter of routine and policy and procedure within the ministry.

One of the issues that comes about when we take a piece out of it, a piece that needs legislative authority, is that we may see it outside of the context of all of those other things. Now, if all these other things are being done and the kind of support that is necessary to make case management really work within the ministry is going on in the ministry, then this is a very good thing. If, on the other hand, this is the only piece of the work that is being done, it could be very dangerous and damaging. The reality is that we need to know from the Attorney General what the other pieces are, where they're at and how they mesh with this kind of legislative change before a real final judgement can be made.

I would suggest to the Attorney General that he listen to the recommendations within the Civil Justice Review about his responsibility, together with others in the justice system, to ensure that there is clear information available to the public, to legislators when they are considering legislative amendments, to the general public using the courts and indeed to the profession of law itself. It is extraordinarily important that we know that these other pieces are in place in order to be sure that the changes in Bill 79 are going to work the way they ought to work in the whole general picture of things.

Let me read again from the Civil Justice Review, because the Civil Justice Review pointed out very clearly what their recommendations were around what they called "The Requirements for Effective Caseflow Management." The first point they make is that "The pilot projects in Ontario, then, have demonstrated that caseflow management works and that it is worth doing, provided that it is properly resourced." That comes back to the kinds of concerns that my colleagues in the Liberal Party were expressing. It does take resources to make a massive change in a system of this sort. Let me read what the implementation of caseflow management must be accompanied by, according to the Civil Justice Review:

"(a) the support and commitment of the bench, the bar and the ministry, to make it work;

"(b) the necessary technological systems, including computer hardware, computer software and communication networks, and including the training and staff support which are essential to make such technology effective;

"(c) the appropriate level and complement of staff support, including case management coordinators, scheduling staff, secretarial and file management staff;

"(d) a willingness on the part of the judiciary to take responsibility for managing the pace of litigation and to enforce the time parameters set down;

"(e) the appointment of judicial support officers to provide case management and judicial support;

"(f) a strategy to reduce the existing backlogs at the same time as the new system prevents future backlog;

"(g) the completion of an independent resource-needs analysis to determine the appropriate mix and quantities of the ingredients referred to above;

"(h) the articulation of clear goals and standards -- both on a systems-wide basis and on the basis of monitoring the rules and time standards of individual cases -- in order to provide benchmarks against which the effectiveness of the system can be measured;

"(i) the development of a detailed operational transition plan to phase in the introduction of case management on a province-wide scale over a reasonable period of time; and, finally,

"(j) the creation of an ongoing, periodic review mechanism in order to ensure that the caseflow management model continues to work as well as possible."

In other words, it's not enough for us to have legislation that creates case management masters if all of the supporting context is not there. That is not a matter of legislation, for the most part; that is a matter of ministerial decision-making and policymaking within the government. I would urge the minister to take the opportunity to speak to his bill in a way that the parliamentary assistant didn't, to explain this context and to give us clear assurance that the infrastructure that was envisioned to support case management is going to be in place.

In particular, it's important for the minister to tell us whether the resources will be there, because it is very clear that if this works well the savings will be enormous. That was clearly the vision in the Civil Justice Review and I believe very clearly the intention of the minister. But it is important to know that the dollars that are required up front to make the technological changes to ensure that the support staff who are envisioned in the team approach to case management, of whom the case management master is only one -- the judge, the case management master, the case management coordinator, the file clerks, all of those people act as a team to move these cases through the courts. So it's important for us to know whether the case management master has a team or whether the case management master is envisioned as a miracle worker without that kind of support. It's really important to know that.


It's also important to know what plans the minister has for evaluating the success of this system. It was very clear to us as we went through the pilot projects that the necessity of proving the value of case management was very real, and I don't believe that's changed today. I don't believe that three or four successful projects have convinced the bench and the legal profession, and certainly not the public, that this is the way to make the system work better.

We heard the scepticism from our colleagues in the official opposition. I don't think they're any different from the rest of the general population. It's going to be necessary for that measurement to happen and for us to be able to look at how massive and clear this change really will be. I think that having benchmarks is very important. We know there is a very low public opinion out there of the ability of the courts to really provide justice, so it is important as we go through this change to find the ways to show them that these changes are real.

One of the real concerns I have around the whole issue of the case management masters, however, is based on the way in which these people are going to be appointed. One of the major and, I would say, lasting and most impressive changes that the former Attorney General Ian Scott made in his term of office was to put in place an advisory committee to look at applications for the provincial bench, where the Attorney General has the power to recommend appointments, and to have that advisory committee representative of the public as well as of the judiciary and of the legal profession. It was extremely important because there was a general feeling out there, a feeling that we see expressed in our newspapers every day, that the people on the bench are not necessarily representative of the people who come before the bench. So it was extraordinarily important and a huge change in Ontario when former Attorney General Ian Scott put an advisory committee in place on a non-mandatory basis. In other words, they would receive advice, but in his scheme the Attorney General was still free to appoint outside of the recommendations of the advisory committee.

The advisory committee proved to be a very important mechanism to broaden the kind of representation that existed on the bench in Ontario. By the time we came into office in 1990, there had already been a significant shift in the kind of people who were putting their names forward and the kind of appointments that were being made. There had been a change from pure political patronage, which very often appointments to the judiciary had been in the past, to at least some input in terms of competency, in terms of interest in wanting to be a judge, in terms of the general competence of these people.

It became very clear that while some who were applying to the bench found quite offensive that necessity for people to appear before and be interviewed by a committee of people composed of judges and of lawyers and of the general public, and some in traditional parties felt it did not give them the kind of power they wanted to see the bench reflect their values, in fact it succeeded in having us move forward with a bench based on ability, based on their willingness to do the kind of job that was required to be done in the current circumstances.

I think our experience was, and the experience continues to be, that we can all be very proud of the kinds of changes we've seen in our Ontario provincial bench. There is a willingness on the part of the judges in the provincial bench to recognize the changing times and the changing context within which they are forced to make their decisions. There is an understanding of the need to get up-to-date information about changes that have occurred in society, in demography, in values that impact on the kinds of decisions they are being asked to make in the courts. There is a willingness to take into account new legislation in a much more rapid way.

There was an outcry when we put in our Courts of Justice Act in 1993-94 around the requirement for the Chief Judge to make sure there was an educational component through the Judicial Council that was available to provincial judges. But the kind of use provincial judges have been making of that has been quite extraordinary, and they have become enthusiastic supporters, for the most part, of their need to get new information and see their work within the context of the general society as it is.

We see that the initial reluctance that was there has changed quite dramatically and we see that happening at other levels of the judiciary as well. The enthusiasm just a couple of weeks ago -- the American Judges Association was here, and the level of the program was quite extraordinary and would give great confidence, it seems to me, to the people of the province that judges do not live in an ivory tower, that they are engaged in the current problems of the day and understand their role, understand that their authority in making decisions around cases is an extraordinary factor in terms of the kinds of changes that happen within society over time.

What is wrong with the current bill in front of us in terms of appointment is that it becomes a new patronage pool. Appointments are to be made by the Lieutenant Governor in Council on the recommendation of the Attorney General. There is no advisory council; there is no public input into the kinds of candidates that would be there.

It's important for us to understand that the Attorney General still has the authority to choose or not to choose, in the case of provincial judges, whether to go along with a recommendation by the advisory committee. In fact, the advisory committee often presents several names, and the Attorney General is free to choose from among the names that come forward as being appropriate.

The Attorney General need not fear that by having an advisory council for the appointment of case management masters, that would curtail his authority to name who he felt was appropriate. It would simply mean that those people had gone through a process that indicated there had been some adjudication of their talents, of their ability to do that kind of work, not just whether they're affiliated with a particular point of view, particularly a political point of view.

It is important for people to understand that these people are being appointed -- true, not for life, which was envisaged in the original civil justice report -- for a period of seven years. Then it is up to the Chief Justice, based on their performance, whether they will be reappointed. They can be reappointed ad infinitum, until they are 65, for three-year periods at the recommendation of the Chief Justice.

It is extremely important for us to understand that these people will become in effect gatekeepers to the civil justice system in the province. They are the primary people who will determine what issues need to go on to adjudication and what issues are resolved. They will be doing the pre-trial work. They will be doing a lot of the work that moves those cases along, and in many cases their work will involve trying to get a resolution to a dispute long before it goes to trial.


It is important for us to understand that these people will be very important in terms of ensuring that this system goes forward. I'm sure the minister will say that he wants to be sure, and that he believes any Attorney General would want to be sure, that the person is capable of doing the job. I'm sure that's the case, but that isn't the same objective as an advisory committee looking at those kinds of applications. I would say to you that public input into this process is essential. We now have public input into the process of appointing justices of the peace. We now have public input into the appointment of judges in this province. Even the federal government, which of course stopped short of having the minister have to accept recommendations from an advisory council, at least has improved its advisory system around the appointment of federal justices.

I know the Attorney General is going to say, as he does in the compendium, that what is happening is that we are going to appoint these people the way we appoint deputy judges, and if it was okay to appoint deputy judges under our government, why isn't it okay to do it here? There's quite a difference. Deputy judges are appointed on the recommendation of judges -- regional judges and the Chief Justice -- that is true, but they are per diem deputy judges. They have a very limited scope of practice. They are simply applying the rules of the Small Claims Court, and they do so largely on a pro bono basis, if you like, because for many of them they are senior enough that the daily stipend they earn and the number of times they perform this task in no way really affect their overall income. They are quite different in the sense that this is not a full-time job for them. It is not seen as being a lifetime job for them. It is a job that they do as a supportive job to the justice system as needs to be done. It is a job they do to gain some experience in adjudication and, I'm quite sure, in many cases to beef up their résumé when they send it to the federal justice minister. I don't think there's any question about that.

But the reality is that deputy judges are in a totally different position than these case management masters will be. We are talking about appointing people to very important full-time tasks that will go on for at least seven years, possibly for the rest of that person's career. The minister proposes to do that without any public input to the appointment process at all -- quite contrary to the practice that has built up in Ontario over the last 10 years and, frankly, even the process that is beginning to happen at the federal level.

It is really not appropriate, it seems to me, for the minister to compare deputy judges and case management masters under these circumstances. We all want to be sure that these are the best possible people because they are going to be extraordinarily influential in terms of the way the court system works. I would ask that the minister consider amendments to put an advisory committee in place, to see this as part of the process through the rest of the justice system. Otherwise it will tarnish the ability of case management masters to be seen in the same light by the public, the legal profession and their fellow judicial officers, because they will not have been subjected to a similar kind of process.

It seems to me that this is particularly true because the bill also gives the Lieutenant Governor in Council, on the recommendation of the Attorney General, as we know these things go, the right to set the number of case management masters who are going to exist, to set the qualifications for those case management masters, to outline a code of conduct -- the Chief Justice gets to outline a code of conduct for these people -- all without any public input, which is not the case for any of the other levels of the judiciary; not the case, for example, for deputy judges, for whom there is a council which must recommend and deal with issues such as conduct of deputy judges. There is a council that recommends the qualifications required and the kinds of criteria that need to be used.

The minister would be well advised to look at the importance of having that kind of council there, because accountability for judicial officers is one of the major issues the public raises around its lack of confidence in the ability of our system to deliver justice. The fact that there is public input to the whole issues of appointment and determining codes of conduct and so on is extremely important. I would urge that the minister respond to the very clear requests in the Civil Justice Review to continue to involve the public more fully in these processes, because the Civil Justice Review committee was very clear that this is one of the things that made its process so important and gave it the credibility with the public that it required. It is a challenge to any jurisdiction these days to have some public commitment to the way in which our courts operate.

It is extremely important for us to understand that in many cases people coming to the courts with a dispute will never see another judicial officer other than this case management master. This will be the face of justice for large numbers of people who come before the system. So it is important that they have the same kind of process for their appointment and that we can be sure they have the confidence of the public. That is a very important aspect. I tell the minister now that it is really important for him to consider that.

Similarly, it is interesting to me that there is no provision within this act, as there is for judges and for deputy judges and for justices of the peace, around accommodation of disability, around what you do when one of these people becomes disabled in the middle of his or her work. That was a very important change that happened in the Courts of Justice Act the last time around, because there was no provision for us in terms of that. It's important for the minister to consider that an amendment to add in some provision around disability accommodation is probably wise, because we all know that when you have an appointment, in this case for seven years, many things can happen to us in seven years. So it is important for the minister to have some way of dealing with accommodating to that disability that doesn't involve disciplinary practice. Right now, someone could be removed as part of the disciplinary practice with the court, but they would not be accommodated. That's an issue that the minister ought to look at.

It's really important as well for us to understand that in the disciplinary process the Chief Justice has all of the same recourses as he has in terms of any of the other complaint processes. It's important and it's a good policy that there is a range of action that the Chief Justice can take when there's a complaint that is found to have grounds. That part is very important. But the reality is that in the case of case management masters, unlike the case of deputy judges, there is no council provided for in this legislation. It is important, both in terms of due process and in terms of public confidence around accountability that that provision be there.


The minister may think he can set up a quasi-judicial layer within the system without having these safeguards. I think he is mistaken to do so. I think it is a big mistake to do so, especially at a time when gradually, with the whole input of the public, with the more open accountability of the judicial system, there is at least a sense that the system is not closed, in fact a sense on the part of the public that they have a role to play in terms of accountability. I would urge that the minister consider that.

I would also urge that the minister consider what kind of response he is undoubtedly going to get to the suggestion that the remuneration for case management masters will simply be set by the Lieutenant Governor in Council. The remuneration of judges is set by a special commission looking at all the factors, looking at what happens in other provinces and all that sort of peripheral information that really is necessary in order to maintain the status of our court and the excellence of our court. It's important that the public be clear that there is a mechanism for the setting of salaries in the case of these people. They're clearly envisioned to be there for a length of time that also has some rationale behind it.

My friends in the Liberal Party are very concerned about the cost of this system, but they didn't talk about the cost of another whole layer because we don't know what the cost of that would be. The minister has yet to tell us how many case management masters there might be or what the salary might be for those case management masters. Are they going to earn more than our judges, who currently earn $124,000 plus a bit per year? If they're not going to earn that much, what are their qualifications going to be?

The recommendation from the Civil Justice Review was that they have a minimum of 10 years before the bar, either here in the province or here in the province and in other jurisdictions. But the minister in this act clearly says that there will be a combination of things and that that'll all be done by the Lieutenant Governor in Council through regulation. That means there's no input into what those qualifications are going to be and there is no base. At least with provincial judges you know that they have practised law, they have been called to the bar, for 10 years before they are appointed. That's a minimum.

It seems to me that the minister has a duty to give at least a minimum kind of qualification in here. With the way it's left open and the fact that all the appointments are left up to him, the suggestion of the member for Wellington to the member for St Catharines that maybe he was looking for an appointment as a case management master is not as absurd as it might have been. I would just say to the minister that it's important to put minimal qualifications in here and to be sure that we are talking about people who are familiar with the law, who have practised the law, who will be able to perform the quasi-judicial functions envisaged in this piece of legislation.

I think the minister will find he has lots of support if he is willing to make some of those changes, because it is very important for us to have real confidence that the people who are going to be doing this very important work have been appointed in a process that ensures accountability.

As we go through the rest of the act, there are a lot of changes that are consequent to some of the changes that have already been made and some that are consequent to changes that were made in the last amendments to this act. Most of them are simply adding into all of those sections the case management master as a layer within the system. That's quite appropriate because it is very important for us to be sure that the authority is clearly there. One of the ways in which we find the courts often disrupted is if there is any way for an attorney who is in dispute to dispute the qualification of the person judging the case. So it is extremely important -- it might be quite tedious to some members of the House -- that there are so many consequent changes, simply adding in case management masters to various pieces of the Courts of Justice Act. But it is really important that those pieces be done.

One of the other issues that was not mentioned by my colleagues in the official opposition is the issue of the lengthening of the term of office for the Chief Judge of the Provincial Division. When the Courts of Justice Act was put into place the Chief Judge was to be appointed for six years, then there was a year of transition if a new Chief Judge had not been named.

It's important that we have a rationale from the minister as to why he is extending in this piece of legislation the length of term for the Chief Judge to eight years, plus one further year if a successor is not appointed. I may be mistaken, but it seems to me that one of the areas the current minister praised in our Courts of Justice Act was that we had limited the terms of the Chief Judge of the Provincial Court and the regional senior judges. I remember quite an eloquent speech on his behalf about how important it was that the same person not be exercising the extraordinary power that pertains to the Chief Judge or to regional senior judges over too long a period of time, particularly when there is a real effort to get transition within the court and to get the courts moving.

The minister, when he was in opposition, talked about barriers to change often being the people who were in place in certain positions of authority. I don't think that's changed very much and, with no disrespect at all to current office holders or to anyone who might hold the office in the future, I am curious why the minister would have changed his mind and extended the term of the Chief Justice for an additional two to three years. I know that certainly would be a recommendation from the Chief Judge, and that the recommendation, as I recall the rationale that was given to me, was that it would permit the Chief Judge to oversee a greater array of changes within the court over a longer period of time, thus entrenching those changes.

But I see some real danger in extending that period of time for those judges. I think it is important that we have some turnover, that we have some change in the system, that those judges who are practising as regional senior judges have some sense that they may have an opportunity to serve their province as Chief Judge in a more timely fashion. I think that extending the term is not necessary and is quite a puzzling aspect of this bill.

Another section of the bill, subsection 67(2) of the Courts of Justice Act, concerns the Family Rules Committee of the civil justice courts. It's very interesting that the minister has chosen to expand the Family Rules Committee by having the Chief Justice of the Ontario Court be able to add two lawyers at his or, some day, her recommendation to the family rules but did not follow the clear recommendation that came out of the Civil Justice Review that there be members of the public on that Family Rules Committee.

I repeat what I said before: When the Civil Justice Review committee toured around this province, one of the clear things they were hearing from the people of Ontario was that laypeople have a role in the administration of justice in this province and that they ought to have some say, some representation on these committees that determine the very way in which the law will work for the public. The minister is allowing the Chief Justice of the Ontario Court to appoint yet two more lawyers to this committee but is not taking the recommendation that the Civil Justice Review had of adding public representation on the family rules committee. I urge the minister to amend this act to do that. It would be a very important gesture on his part to the input of the public who, if they become engaged in the actual delivery of justice services in the province, I believe will be less critical of the best efforts of the judiciary, the legal profession and the ministry to deliver those services.


I suppose I shouldn't be too surprised, because another element in this bill is the removal of the requirement that the regional courts administration committees, which include the public, must meet at least four times a year. When the parliamentary assistant introduced the bill, he said this would give flexibility to the community. We know what this government means when they talk about flexibility. It means their flexibility, not the flexibility of public input.

The reality is that one of the very few places the public have official input into the court system is through the regional administration committees that were envisaged by the changes in the Courts of Justice Act brought forward by the Liberals but were put into place by our government. It was a very difficult process getting those courts administration committees to actually operate -- to meet and to be functional and to report to one another about what they were doing.

It is important for the minister to recognize that more, rather than less, public input was envisaged by the process of having the Civil Justice Review. It is important for the minister to recognize that both the judicial and the legal profession members of that committee became convinced over time that if there is public representation and a public stake in the way the courts run, there will indeed be more public confidence in the delivery of justice.

I urge that the minister withdraw that because I can tell him there is still enough resistance on the bench and among the legal profession to having the public involved in courts administration management. It is to his benefit, to the benefit of the ministry, to have what I know will be the support of the public on those cases. His whole challenge is to get this system moving, and moving appropriately, administered appropriately. His best allies in doing that are the members of the public who understand how the administration of the courts is not working and could work better.

I would urge him to revisit that whole issue, because if the requirement that the courts adminstration committees meet at least four times a year disappears, they simply will not meet. That will make it harder for this minister to accomplish the enormous change he is trying to accomplish through this act and the other various measures he is undertaking.

It is important for all of us to recognize that there is not an effort in this bill to do a lot of the things that we still need to see happen in the justice system. My colleagues in the Liberal Party were quite right to talk about the ongoing problems that there are within the criminal system around the timely movement of cases and what that means to the confidence of the public in the administration of justice. They are quite right that this is a problem. It is separate from this act, but it is a problem. I would urge the minister to provide for the public the kind of information they need to see why this change in the civil justice side of the system is likely to help in the criminal justice side of the system.

We are talking about the same justices who work in both sides of the system. We are talking about an appeal process that may be civil or criminal. Although some justices specialize in one side or the other, the reality is that the backup in the system affects both sides of the system. If the minister is successful through these measures and what I trust are the other measures needed, the twinning measures in an administrative sense that are needed in order to carry this through, it will have a positive effect on the criminal side of the system. It's important for him to understand that he must demonstrate that to the members of this House and to the public if he is to regain some confidence in his ability to make the changes that are happening.

There are a number of changes in the act that are to other bills, and they follow along on the kinds of changes that the minister is making. Perhaps the most significant one is the change in the Charities Accounting Act amendments. There is no question that many of the members of this House have, as I have, sat on volunteer boards of directors of charitable organizations in our communities and know how irksome the process has been around some of the changes that, as time goes on, those charitable boards know should be made for the protection of their organizations and indeed for their own protection from liability. So it is good that this process under the Charities Accounting Act is being streamlined along the lines that have been suggested by the public guardian and trustee.

That is another whole area of administrative law where enormous changes have been made and more still need to be made. This is a positive change in that those changes can now happen without those small charitable organizations having to go through the kind of approach to the court that was necessary in the past. So it's a good change. I hope it is understood by the charities and I hope we will find a way to help all of those volunteers that the government is hoping to get engaged in the delivery of services understand that it is a positive position to be in in terms of being a director of a charitable organization under those circumstances.

It is also important, I think, to mention the Construction Lien Act. One of the most important areas of change that we were working through in our government and that I see now being carried through in terms of the changes here is to find some way to deal with the process around construction lien problems. They are very real problems because they involve the very livelihood of many tradespeople and many developers. It is extraordinarily important that the work we did during our term of government to get those two sides together to suggest a process to resolve disputes in a more timely fashion is being carried through by the current government.

I think there will be great relief that much of the progress that has been made in dealing with this very thorny, very detailed area of law is being resolved by the minister. The minister, when he was in opposition, was very eloquent about the problems faced by people in the construction lien area and the need for a more effective quasi-judicial role to resolve those things and to build the expertise around the very complex issues that are involved in many of those cases. He is now adding the case management master as one of the officials who can deal with the issues that come up in construction lien, and that is a very positive aspect.

In terms of the rest of the act, it largely talks about these names of the court. It's important for us to know that the bill itself is already to be amended. The minister has given us amendments to date calling the first level the Court of Ontario rather than the Trial Court of Ontario. I think that answers some of the concerns that had been raised around too much detail, and possibly confusing detail, in the new naming of the courts. I won't go into any great detail about that whole issue of renaming the courts except to say that anything that makes it possible for these massive changes in process to go through in a smooth manner is very important.


The changes that are there in section 50 of the act around complaints against judges are a very good cleanup of some of the issues that arose as a result of the last changes to the Courts of Justice Act. It makes provision for cases where the complaint is against the Chief Justice or against a regional senior justice. That was a very important criticism of the changes that were made last time. Justices who were not in that situation felt there wasn't provision if in fact such a complaint came up. Of course, we're very much aware over the last couple of years that complaints against judges do happen and that it is very important to have a process to deal with those complaints that the public can have real confidence in. None of the other changes are anything except housekeeping, as I see them. As I read them, they all are enshrining the kinds of major changes the minister has put forward.

In closing my comments, I'd like to again make a plea to the minister that it is really essential, if people are to understand how important these changes are, that the context be provided, and in a way that ensures the concomitant administrative changes actually are being carried through. It is easy enough for people to dismiss this as an act that caters to the sensitivities of particular judges or justices and as simply a renaming of the courts. It is important that we do our part to try to help people understand that it is a great deal more than that, that its impact will be much greater than that and that our time spent on this act is worthwhile. This is not a small little housekeeping issue of an act; this is an act that has substantial impact.

As we go through the period of discussion, I will be looking for the minister, through whatever speakers he puts up on this bill, to give some of those contextual comments, to give the kind of assurance people need that care is being taken to make sure this act actually has the effect that he envisages it will and that I certainly hope it will.

I also hope that as we go on, we will see this minister coming forward with some of the other big changes that are necessary to resolve some of those issues that were mentioned by my colleagues in the official opposition and that we certainly have seen mentioned by prominent jurists over the last couple of years. It's important that those concerns that have been raised are dealt with. It's important that we deal with the technological change that's necessary and that we explain to people very clearly what that technological change is.

I know that not very long ago I was speaking with a lawyer in a rural part of the province who continued to be really quite agitated around the electronic filing of things. There are many people out there who haven't been trained on computers. This will not work if we don't get electronic filing and that sort of thing done. It's not possible to make these changes unless we find a way to get people on board at all levels. That will mean creating for people a sense of competency around the new technologies that work.

Right now, given the kinds of problems many lawyers are facing in their professions around legal aid funding, which certainly is creating difficulties for them, possibly in terms of the numbers of lawyers that are around and the kind of competition that is there, and certainly in terms of the liability insurance, it is hard for many lawyers to look at the additional cost of equipping themselves and their offices to deal appropriately with the new technological age.

It's important for us to have computers in schools; it's very important for us to have computers in the courts as well. It is a very backward area. It is one area where, frankly, government has fallen far behind the private sector in terms of the way we have adapted to technology. We have not provided our judges with laptops, for example. They are still using longhand. Even for those who are able and willing to be computerized, very often there is a resource problem for them in terms of that.

I'd say to the minister that overall we'll be supporting this bill. We will have some amendments, particularly around the public input aspects, and I hope he will consider those seriously. We will want to be supportive of the kinds of changes that need to go along with these kinds of legislative changes to make our courts more efficient and more effective and certainly more meeting the needs of the public as they bring them to them. We'll be looking forward, as the debate goes on and as we look at amendments, to seeing a real commitment on the part of the government to make this new change really work.

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

Hon Mr Harnick: My congratulations to the member for London Centre for a very thoughtful speech, quite simply because she has realized very astutely that the key aspect of this bill is to begin the implementation of the Civil Justice Review, something that I think, as the Attorney General, the member for London Centre deserves a lot of credit for initiating. Quite simply, the cost of litigation, the speed with which private disputes are resolved -- their cost is far too high. The Civil Justice Review started to develop a procedure to answer the problems that litigants were having when they went to court.

We are committed -- I as minister am very committed -- to the implementation of the Civil Justice Review. I'm committed to the appointment of case management masters. I'm committed to the development of case management. We will have this fall 100% case management in Ottawa, and I hope within less than a year at least 50% case management in Metropolitan Toronto.

As the member very astutely points out, technology is a very, very major component. We are now looking to the private sector to provide us with private sector efficiencies and, in providing private sector efficiencies, providing us with the technology that will save us huge amounts of money, as the member referred to, and at the same time provide us with the technology to take the Ministry of the Attorney General from the 19th to the 21st century.

I congratulate the member on her presentation and thank her for her thoughtful comments.

Mr Michael A. Brown (Algoma-Manitoulin): In commenting on the speech by the member for London Centre, as I've looked through this bill and listened intently to the comments, I can't help but think about a situation in my own constituency that I don't think this bill really addresses.

As the Attorney General, who is also responsible for native issues in this province, would know, we have had the "Operation Rainbow" case going for some time. This court case has been dragging on for well over six years and has cost the government and the first nations literally hundreds of thousands of dollars. I fully recognize that the Attorney General has no ability to move this along, but I can tell him that as the minister responsible for native affairs, he should be talking to his colleague the Minister of Natural Resources, because this case is really about resource allocation. The government should be making a meaningful attempt with those first nations to resolve this issue, and then we wouldn't have it clogging up our courts, costing us hundreds of thousands of dollars.

I have met with those people in the first nations who are very concerned with this issue as well as, and the minister would know this, the Manitoulin Municipal Association, whose leadership and membership have all called on the Minister of Natural Resources to open up meaningful negotiations surrounding the resource allocation issue. I would suggest to the minister that if his colleague the Minister of Natural Resources would get out there and begin these negotiations, we wouldn't have this case in front of the courts this very day. It's been six or seven years that this has dragged on; since, I believe, about 1989. It's time for a resolution. This is an example of where courts do a very bad job of resolving the important issues of the day.


Mr Bisson: I want to congratulate my colleague the member for London Centre, who spoke at length on this particular bill and I think brought forward a number of points of view in regard to the bill in a very thoughtful and very thorough manner, as is indicative of this member. I've noticed in the House for the past number of years that she's been here that every time she takes the opportunity to debate a bill, she's normally on target, on issue and has done her homework. I want to congratulate her.

I just want to echo one of the comments the member for London Centre has made to the Attorney General. I too, like the member for London Centre, am somewhat concerned about the process you're going to go through to hire the case management masters. It seems to me that there has been a good process that was set up by the former government, the NDP government, under the appointments of the justices of the peace. There is a fairly public process there where people have an opportunity in their communities to have input about who those people will be. After all, they are basically the ones who will have in their hands the control of those particular cases. I would echo, as the member for London Centre did, that the Attorney General and his government should really take a look at the question about how we appoint the case management masters; at least take a look at that.

As is the member for London Centre, I'm generally supportive of what the government is doing in this particular piece of legislation. I think it's incumbent upon opposition members as well as government members, at times when we agree on particular issues, to give that support and to indicate so publicly. In this particular case I think there are a number of points raised in this legislation that make some sense, things that need to be done. I would argue that probably some of those things we would have done ourselves if we had been given the opportunity on June 8, 1995, to be returned as government.

I want to congratulate the Attorney General on at least moving forward with some of those initiatives. At times in this House we are somewhat partisan, but there are days, like today, when we can agree on some matters on behalf of the people of this province, the people we are sent here to represent. Again, I would like to congratulate the member for London Centre.

Mr Toni Skarica (Wentworth North): I'd like to make some comments regarding underfunding of crown attorneys. The truth of the matter is that they're the highest-paid in the country. Before I ran, I made over $100,000 a year personally. When the NDP government lost the election and our government won, the NDP cabinet ministers and myself suffered the same fate: We both took dramatic pay cuts. I say to my rich friends in the NDP, I share your pain in having to scale back your lifestyle. I share that pain.

I'd like to talk about how it happened. For those of you who are interested, how did I make $100,000 a year? If you go back 10 years to 1985, when the Honourable Roy McMurtry was the Attorney General, I made $35,000 a year and crown attorneys were among the lowest-paid in the country. Thanks to the generosity of the next 10 years of NDP and Liberal governments, I went from $35,000 a year to $100,000 a year.

So I would like to say to the members of the opposition that I thank you, that my children thank you, my ex-wife thanks you, her lawyers thank you. It's no coincidence, I would suggest, that during that 10 years, while my salary tripled, so did the Ontario government debt.

To conclude then, if I'm ever back in the crown attorney's office and if the opposition are ever back in power, I look forward to your continuing generosity, but I doubt that the public will look forward to it in a similar fashion.

The Acting Speaker: The member for London Centre, you have two minutes to reply.

Mrs Boyd: I'd like to thank the Attorney General for his comments, and also my colleagues in the other parties. I won't make any comment on the member for Wentworth North. I think he made that very clear all on his own.

I would say just in response to my colleague from Willowdale that I do believe that the course of change needs to build, but it is important for him to recognize that a lot of the resistance is still there within the system, and it is going to be important for all of us in this place to be supportive of measures while at the same time being mindful of the need for appropriate resourcing for those changes.

The minister needs to understand that on this side of the House we will be watching very closely around the resource issues, because we know he's been required, as every other ministry has been, to drop his expenditures. Approximately $14 million is out of his budget, and it's going to be hard for him to make the changes he wants to make in an appropriate way unless he has the resources.

It will take time to get the resources out of the system: As the inefficiencies disappear the resources will be there. I would just caution the minister not to make the same mistake that some in previous governments have made, assuming that those costs are going to come out faster than they do. It is a system that moves slowly and it does need some upfront money in order to make this change really work.

The Acting Speaker: Further debate?

Mr John L. Parker (York East): It is my pleasure to rise and add my remarks to today's discussion of 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 administrative of justice. It's somewhat daunting to rise after listening to the remarks of my friend and colleague the honourable member from Wentworth North, with his poignant remarks on this bill.

Mr Bud Wildman (Algoma): He just admitted he was responsible for the provincial debt.

Mr Parker: My friend opposite is telling me that my friend from Wentworth North took personal responsibility for the provincial debt. No. What I heard was my friend from Wentworth North thanking the previous NDP government for going into debt to finance his bank account. I wasn't aware that crown attorneys were so highly valued in this province. They obviously got a few pay increases when I wasn't paying attention. I'm going to have to pay them a little more respect than I have in the past. My high regard for the honourable member for Wentworth North of course has always been at least equal to my respect for any of my co-counsel, and I'm pleased to see that my friends opposite share that high regard for him.

Speaking "cleanup," as it were, on this bill, I will keep my remarks short. I will alert the other side that it's not my intention to speak out the clock. I'm told that the ball is to be passed over to the other side before we reach 6 o'clock. I will make a few remarks at this stage, I will keep them germane to the bill, and then it's my intention that I will sit down and allow the opposition one more kick at the can before the day ends.

I might begin by reflecting on what we have heard so far in the course of this afternoon's discussion and lend my sincere compliments to my friend from London Centre for her remarks, which I thought were very apropos and were very well focused on the content of the bill itself. It was very gratifying to hear such approving words from the other side on this bill and a recognition of the important improvements this bill makes to our justice system.

I'm afraid I can't be as complimentary in respect to the remarks we heard from the official opposition. I found that they tended to avoid the content of the bill itself and rambled on at some length on matters quite peripheral or not at all connected with the bill. I heard the usual litany of diatribes about the legal aid system and other rants about the state of the justice system in this province, none of which are the subject of this bill and none of which fall within the scope of this bill.

But it was instructive to hear that when the third party spoke to the content of this bill, the comments were, by and large, supportive and complimentary. It was quite some time into the remarks of my friend from London Centre that she found a few nits to pick with some of the details to be found buried in the content of the bill. Perhaps, if some of us gave it that much time, we would find room for reasonable people to differ on some of the fine points of the bill: whether a particular judicial officer should be appointed for this many years or that many years. But this is the stuff about which any group of people can come to differences of opinion and have different reasons for preferring one approach or one term over another approach or another term.


But generally speaking and substantially speaking, the comments opposite were very supportive of this bill, and those comments were most welcome. In particular I want to compliment the member for confining her remarks to the substance of the bill. That's what I found most encouraging and most pleasant, that the comments were focused on the bill itself and didn't indulge in a general rant on subjects having nothing to do with the bill, which is, I'm afraid, something we've grown accustomed to and something we were treated to a little earlier from my honourable friend who's running for the leadership of her party. I wish her well in that quest. I think she's ably suited to the task of leading the Liberal Party and leading the official opposition in this province. If today's performance is anything to go by, I think she will do well as Leader of the Opposition in this House.

In the time available to me, I might just review the content of the bill and remind those present of the subject matter of the bill. I'm pleased that the third party doesn't need this reminder, but perhaps the official opposition would do well to be reminded of the content of this bill, about what it does and what it's about and, by inference, what it doesn't do and what it isn't about and what really isn't relevant to the debate today.

This bill is a modest bill. It's not particularly glamorous. It's 21 pages. It has 11 sections to it, if my count is anything to go by. Really, what this bill is all about at the end of the day is doing better for less. I'm pleased to receive the recognition from my friends opposite that it is possible to achieve savings in the current system and it is possible that those savings can be achieved in the context of doing a better job of delivering the product.

Mr Speaker, I'm very pleased to see you back in the seat. Congratulations on your recent approval and best of luck to you in your new duties.

This government is all about doing better for less. This bill is a good example of how that can be achieved. Just as adding costs to a system and adding expenditures to a system don't necessarily make the system better and don't necessarily do a better job of delivering the product, so removing costs from the system and removing expenses from the system don't necessarily do a worse job of delivering the product or doing what is required to be done.

This bill improves the system, improves the delivery of the product, and it does so in a way which removes some of the costs from the system, removes the costs from the taxpayer and removes the costs from the participants in the judicial system, the parties to the judicial process.

There are four basic elements to the bill. First of all, it amends the Courts of Justice Act to provide for the appointment of case management masters and make certain consequential amendments to other acts that arise out of that appointment. That is a very key element of the bill and is a very important part of streamlining the judicial system, reducing costs and getting to the result more quickly, more efficiently, at less cost to everyone involved and with less aggravation, quite frankly, to everyone involved.

It also amends the Courts of Justice Act to change the names of Ontario's courts. Right now, the courts in Ontario have names that were recently applied to them that no one has really grown accustomed to and that have no basis in the traditions of our system or the system in use anywhere in the common-law world. The amendments in this act restore names that are rooted in the traditions of our system, have some meaning within the traditions of our system and have the support of those who are involved in the system -- the judiciary and the legal profession who work with this system every day.

The bill also changes the regulation-making power in the Charities Accounting Act, essentially taking the authority from the Lieutenant Governor in Council and transferring it to the Attorney General on the recommendation of the public guardian and trustee. What's that all about? What's that's about, Mr Speaker, and I know you're paying close attention to this, is streamlining elements of our management and administration of charities in a way that will encourage volunteerism, will make it easier for charities to get on with the job they're there to do, make it more attractive for volunteers to serve on boards of directors, make it more straightforward for charities to subscribe for insurance to protect their directors, and generally get more people involved in the system and make it easier for them to apply their volunteer efforts to the ends of the charitable causes rather than getting bogged down in the bureaucracy of administering the charitable system.

The fourth aspect of the bill is to include a host of other consequential changes that flow out of the first three, essentially changing definitions, inserting the concept of the case management master in the various elements of the judicial system here and there throughout the entire system.

So there are three substantive provisions in this bill amending the Courts of Justice Act to allow for the appointment of case management masters, changing the names of the courts in this province to bring the names into compliance or into line with the names that are traditional to our system and to the common-law world, and changing the regulation-making power in the Charities Accounting Act to streamline our charitable system to make it more straightforward for the volunteer participants in our charities to get on with the job of doing the work of the charities and to be less involved and less bogged down in the bureaucracy of dealing with the fine points of accountability in the act and racing off to court every time they want to do something, which by now has become routine. The fourth aspect of the bill is simply consequential amendments to other acts that arise out of the other provisions.

This is a bill that is about doing better for less, it's a bill that is about removing costs from the system and it's a bill that is about focusing everyone's energies on achieving the desired results.

Just a reflection on the role of the case management master and then maybe I'll wrap up my remarks at that point. When people get involved in the litigation process, usually they don't want to be there. Usually they are in this process because all other alternatives have proven unsuccessful, there is a difference of opinion and it's got to be resolved ultimately. That's what brings them to court. It is a tragedy when the court system itself becomes the subject of further disputes and further costs and further aggravation. What we have all too often seen is a court system that itself generates further frictions, further difficulties, further points of dispute and inevitably further costs. It generates costs to the taxpayer and it generates costs to the participants -- to the plaintiffs, to the defendants and to everybody else involved in the system.

It is desirable for everyone concerned to get to a resolution of the matter in dispute as effectively and as efficiently and as fairly as possible. By the appointment of case management masters to focus the efforts of the people involved towards arriving at the resolution of the major point in dispute, this bill will have the effect of bringing matters to a head more quickly, more cleanly, getting the procedural matters out of the way and certainly out of the hands of judges, where they don't have to waste their time handling these things. The masters are perfectly effective, and in my experience they have been supreme at being able to get at the heart of the procedural matters and getting them off the table so the parties can concentrate on the substantive matters in dispute. That's what this bill restores. That's what this bill allows and promotes. The effect, at the end of the day, and it bears repeating, is to reduce the cost to the taxpayer. It reduces the time consumed in the litigation process, it reduces the costs of the litigation process and it gets problems resolved more quickly.


Mr Speaker, it is with some pride that I speak in favour of this bill this afternoon. I am pleased, with those remarks, to again extend my best regards to you in your new role. With that, I'm pleased to sit down and turn the matter over to my friends.

The Speaker: Questions or comments?

Ms Castrilli: I can't resist thanking the member for York East for his complimentary comments in one regard, but I must say I wondered if he really listened to what I had to say with respect to the substance of the bill.

I certainly found agreement in the bill with respect to simplification of the rules affecting charities. I certainly thought it was worthwhile to see what the effectiveness would be of the case managers.

There's going to be a change to the name of the courts. You say it will reduce costs. I'm not convinced it will reduce costs. I think there are things built into this bill which will not make it very easy to support that contention.

The difficulty with the bill is that its title leads you to believe there's going to be a reform of the system. Therefore, my comments were indicating that there is still a great deal to do, a great way to go. We here in the opposition want to be very sure the government understands that there is a whole list of things that need to be done and that we'll be monitoring, we'll be watching, we'll be suggesting, as we must do in the public interest, in the interest of the people of Ontario.

It was not intended to be a rant; it was intended to be a very constructive basket of suggestions for the government to heed and to follow. We hope that they take our advice.

Mr Wildman: I am not one learned in the law and have not had the opportunity to serve in any particular capacity in this House that would lead me to be particularly knowledgeable about the subject matter before us, but I am an aficionado of Rumpole of the Bailey. I must say that in listening to the member for York East I felt a bit like Rumpole when he appears before, sometimes, a younger member of the bench and is lectured by the member of the judiciary, the judge, on some matter, and Rumpole seems completely nonplussed and perplexed about what is going on. He's always trying to figure out what is really in the mind of the judge and what has bothered him to lead him to do this, because what Rumpole is really interested in is, by hook or by crook, ensuring that he gets his way.

To have compliments showered on my friend the member for London Centre by the member for York East gave me pause. I think that her presentation was very, very good and thorough, and it was helpful to me as someone who is not particularly experienced in these matters despite the fact that I have had the opportunity on occasion to debate bills and legislation related to the courts. I was a little bit taken aback, though, that in the midst of his praise for the member for London Centre's presentation, the member for York East accused her of being a nitpicker. What real praise is there in calling a member --

The Speaker: Thank you. Questions or comments?

Mr Tilson: The member for York East I believe covered one of the major areas of this bill which I think we all need to look at. The whole legal system in this province hasn't been working. It's become too costly. It's too lengthy. We're looking at alternative dispute resolution. We're looking at mediation. We're looking at a number of things. There's been a problem with family law cases taking too long, in particular the need for possible mediation in that area. With respect to legal aid, that has become unbelievably costly, and we have been overwhelmed by that. So we've had to look at new things.

The member for London Centre has obviously had some experience in her former capacity as Attorney General, particularly in the area of case management, and has made some comments in her speech, as did the member for York East. That's an area that has been proven in other jurisdictions, has been proven in test cases in this province that I believe will be a success in this province.

Case management masters, as we've indicated in the past, will support judges in motions. They will preside at pre-trials; they will preside at settlement conferences and controlling time lines of cases. All the issues we've looked at -- cost, time, administration of the judicial process, administration of the court process -- in this system of case management masters and case management I believe will be the success this province cries out for.

Case management certainly requires an early determination of essential issues. I believe that was one of the major crutches of the member for York East in supporting this bill.

The Speaker: Questions and comments? Responses?

Mr Parker: I began my remarks with the expression of my intention not to speak out the clock. It looks as though I actually did that, but I'll respond briefly to the remarks that have just been made.

First in response to my friend from Downsview, there was some doubt expressed as to whether the court name change could be carried out without incurring new costs. I think that point was addressed quite ably by my friend from Dufferin-Peel earlier today. As far as the cost of changing letterheads is concerned, that's going to be phased in over about a one-year period. Letterheads are normally reordered over the course of that sort of period. They just have to change the name on the letterhead next time it's ordered within that one-year period, not a really big cost item. If that's going to be the main hook on which to hang your argument against this bill, that's a pretty insubstantial hook, I would suggest.

My friend from Dufferin-Peel also noted that the sign in front of the courthouse isn't likely to change. Right now it typically says "courthouse." It will continue to say "courthouse" -- not much of a cost involved in changing that.

My friend from Downsview suggested that this bill doesn't do everything that might be done to improve our justice system. I'll grant her that. We can't do everything in one day. On the one hand the opposition tells us that we're moving too quickly; today we're being told that we're moving too slowly. I guess that's the way it is with the opposition. If you don't like the position they take, that's okay; they'll take another one. They've got several opinions on any matter that you want to raise. I'm not surprised that they're telling us to move faster and slower at the same time.

I always enjoy hearing from my friend from Algoma. He's perplexed that I speak in complimentary terms in respect of my friend from London Centre. I don't think I have ever spoken of the member for London Centre in anything other than complimentary terms. He called her a nitpicker, I didn't.

Mr Wildman: No, you called her a nitpicker.

Mr Parker: I said she found nits to pick. My friend from Algoma therefore says I called her a nitpicker.

The Speaker: Further debate?

Mr Sean G. Conway (Renfrew North): I'm happy to move the adjournment of second reading debate on Bill 79.

The Speaker: It being 6 of the clock, this House stands adjourned until 1:30 of the clock tomorrow.

The House adjourned at 1800.