36th Parliament, 1st Session

L105 - Tue 8 Oct 1996 / Mar 8 Oct 1996
















































The House met at 1332.




Mr Michael A. Brown (Algoma-Manitoulin): Mr Speaker, this is my first opportunity to congratulate you on your new position.

The people of Ontario should know that the Chi-Cheemaun ferry service from Tobermory to South Baymouth is non-existent at present. Last week the Chi-Cheemaun experienced mechanical difficulties and will be out of commission for the season.

Manitoulin Island and the Bruce Peninsula will be and are experiencing severe economic repercussions as a result of this disruption of service. The loss of tourism dollars to businesses on Manitoulin and Tobermory will be significant. I'm told already of premature closings of some businesses as a result of the lack of ferry service.

In addition, people from the North Shore and Manitoulin, people from southern Ontario and university and college students who want to return home for the Thanksgiving weekend with family and friends will be greatly inconvenienced.

It is time that the Minister of Northern Development and Mines takes responsibility for this important transportation and tourism link. It is time that he put the Nindawayma back in service so that the Chi-Cheemaun has a backup. It is time this government behaved responsibly with regard to the people of Manitoulin and the Bruce Peninsula and made a commitment to northern transportation.

We can only be thankful that this breakdown did not occur in July.


Mr Tony Martin (Sault Ste Marie): Every day that we wake up now we hear of another instance of this government not wanting to listen to or hear from the people of this province, not being interested at all in some of the traditions of this democratic place as it brings forth its agenda to reduce health care, reduce education and do all kinds of other mean-spirited things to the people of this province.

Every day since they took power there's been example after example of legislation coming through this place where there has been no desire to go out to the public for their input or to consult or hear what people had to say, nor the presentation of an impact study.

This morning in my office I had a call from the press in Sault Ste Marie, who are now finding it very difficult to access Queen's Park. The cutting of the tie line has effectively cut off the ability of thousands of people in this province to phone Queen's Park and access a minister's office by simply calling one number and asking for that office. Now, if they don't have the number, if they don't have the money that's required to pay for long distance, they cannot phone Queen's Park, they cannot talk to ministers, they cannot give their input, nor can they hear from government offices just exactly what they're doing and why they're doing it. This is disgraceful. It's a diminishing of and disrespect for democracy.

We're going to hear, later today or tomorrow, another piece of legislation: the diminishing of the number of MPPs in this place. There will be no input there either.


Mr Gary Fox (Prince Edward-Lennox-South Hastings): I would like to congratulate Paula Stephanson for her successful swim of Lake Ontario on August 16 and 17. At the age of 17, Paula is one of the youngest swimmers to successfully cross the lake. This feat demonstrates the drive and sheer willpower of this local teenager.

At 11:40 pm on August 16, Paula not only entered the cold waters of Lake Ontario but began swimming against the wind and seven-foot waves. The 52-kilometre swim took Paula just over 22 1/2 hours. Paula was accompanied by a sailboat with navigational equipment, two Zodiacs and a power boat.

A swimmer cannot be touched during a swim but may rest periodically by treading water or changing strokes. Each hour during the swim, Paula had some rest time before getting back into the rhythm.

Congratulations, Paula, on a terrific accomplishment.


Mr Dominic Agostino (Hamilton East): Mr Speaker, first I want to add my congratulations on your election and a job well done so far.

I rise today to speak of the sesquicentennial celebrations that have been going on all year in the city of Hamilton. The great and glorious city of Hamilton is celebrating 150 years of existence. These celebrations will come to an end at the end of this year, which has been a great year for Hamilton.

We have hosted the Juno Awards, a visit by His Royal Highness Prince Charles, a visit by Governor General Roméo LeBlanc, the Ford world curling championships, and we're going to cap this off in November with the Grey Cup game in Hamilton, hopefully involving the Hamilton Tiger Cats.

This has taken a tremendous effort month after month by many people, led by Mayor Morrow and Hamilton city council, who have shown tremendous vision and leadership in planning these celebrations. I want to congratulate the mayor and the council; the co-chairs of the sesquicentennial, Milt Lewis and Vincenza Travale; the executive director, Carmen Rozzoto; and most of all the tens of thousands of Hamiltonians who have worked hard, participated, become involved and made this celebration truly a great event in the history of the city of Hamilton.

I know everyone in this House joins me in wishing Hamilton another 150 wonderful years. I'm sure the Premier and everyone in this House wish the Tiger Cats a Grey Cup victory in November in Hamilton.


Mr Bud Wildman (Algoma): In order to counter some of the negative comments that have been made by the Minister of Education and Training about our public education system in Ontario, I thought I should put on the record some facts.

Ontario's graduation rate in 1993 was 84%, which is two percentage points higher than the national rate. On average it's about a 10% improvement per decade since the 1960s.

Canada has the highest post-secondary education participation rate in the world, with more than 40% of graduates going on to higher education. In Ontario the participation rate is 50%.

Canadian students who have graduated since 1989 are generally more literate than those who graduated ahead of them: 25% of Ontario students aged 16 and over are reading at the highest literacy rate measured.

There are a number of awards that have recognized excellence in our education system. Here are just a couple of examples.

Doris Chan, a student of the North York Board of Education's A.Y. Jackson Secondary School, was one of four Canadian students who competed at the 28th International Chemistry Olympiad.

Of the six students representing Canada in the International Mathematics Olympiad in India, four were from Ontario.

We've already seen the award for the Durham Board of Education and White Pines Collegiate in Sault Ste Marie.

There are many, many others who have won awards in education in Ontario. I think we should celebrate the successes of public education.



Mr Douglas B. Ford (Etobicoke-Humber): I rise today to recognize the 25th anniversary of the Islington Ratepayers Association and the celebration which I had the pleasure of participating in earlier this month.

The association has made a significant contribution to the Etobicoke community through its suggestions and feedback surrounding the activities of various levels of government. When it comes to matters at Queen's Park, the members of the Islington Ratepayers Association are very vocal. For example, this organization supports our initiatives to decrease the size of government, is optimistic about the recommendations of the Crombie commission and wants to see changes made towards a more efficient and accountable government.

When I was at the celebration last week it was a pleasure to meet many of the individuals who are so interested in the changes we're making. It was clear that the recent legislation to decrease the number of MPPs at Queen's Park was well received.

Those involved with the ratepayers' association should be proud of their achievement. Over the years, members such as president Terry Reardon have done a great service to the area through their goodwill.

On behalf of the province, I express my gratitude to the people of the Islington Ratepayers Association and wish them success in the years to come.


Mr Richard Patten (Ottawa Centre): I rise today to point out some examples of doubletalk regarding education that the minister and the government continue to espouse.

On August 20, addressing the Ontario Teachers' Federation, the minister said, "I'd have to say it's about fixing a system that's not working." Meanwhile, in Europe on September 11 the Premier said to potential European investors in London, England, "Ontario has a top grade education system." Then again, CBC News at Noon on September 20 quoted lawyer Leon Paroian, who is reviewing Bill 100. In response to a brief which basically said, "If it ain't broke, don't fix it," Paroian replied, "I have a different proverb. `If it ain't broke, break it.'" It sounds to me like the strategy of creating a crisis.

The minister's doubletalk on the value of teachers in his statement on World Teachers' Day, "You are the lifeblood of our education system, bringing vitality and energy to the classrooms of Ontario," flies in the face of the many critical remarks he has made over the last year about teachers. Further, the minister stated on October 3, 1996, "The achievements of education in Ontario are the achievements of Ontario teachers." If the minister really believes this, he should be prepared to involve the teachers' associations and federations in meaningful consultations related to his numerous reforms.


Mrs Marion Boyd (London Centre): In this House, the Minister of Health has said a number of times, in relation to the $2 fee that is now being charged on drug benefits, that part of the action of the government has been to improve the Trillium drug plan. But those of us who work in our offices in our constituencies know that there are many complaints about the Trillium drug plan that need to be dealt with. These are numerous, especially for people who are in particular danger.

I have had a number of discussions with the AIDS community around the Trillium drug plan, and they have the following concerns that they want me to bring to the Legislature.

First, because the plan takes into effect last year's income, someone who becomes ill and has a sudden drop in income is judged to have a deductible at the previous year's income.

There's a 12- to 13-week wait, and when drugs cost anywhere from $500 to $1,500 a month, that puts people in real jeopardy in terms of carrying on their drugs.

People cannot find anyone to talk to personally in the Trillium drug plan office. They have reported that those people working in the office say there are only five people remaining in that office to process claims and that this becomes worse at the end of the year.

I would urge the Minister of Health to look at the Trillium drug plan and keep his promise to make it more effective.


Mr Bart Maves (Niagara Falls): A couple of weeks back on a Saturday I participated in a ceremony commemorating the life of Mr Sam Alfieri, a famous Niagara Falls entrepreneur who passed away in February 1996 at the age of 69. For over 40 years, until his death earlier this year, Mr Alfieri ran the famous Capri Restaurant, located at the corner of Stanley and Ferry. Over the years, the place has been frequented by many Hollywood stars and thousands of tourists.

Mr Alfieri was a popular entrepreneur and committed member of the Niagara Falls community. For more than 20 years, Mr Alfieri served on the city of Niagara Falls parking and traffic committee. He also served several terms with the Niagara Falls Canada Visitor and Convention Bureau and spearheaded efforts to improve Ferry Street, where his business was located.

But many of his friends and close acquaintances remember Mr Alfieri as someone who had a passion for politics. His restaurant is known as a hangout for the city's politicians. Many of us would seek Mr Alfieri's advice because he had a knack for knowing what was on the public's mind. Anyone who avoided his advice did so at their own peril. I know I will sincerely miss my chats with him and his warm pats on the back.

The life of Mr Alfieri has touched us all. I and all the people of Niagara Falls will certainly miss his kindness, friendship and generosity, but his legacy will live on in the kindness and hospitality of his family.


Mr Tony Silipo (Dovercourt): On a point of order, Mr Speaker: Being a stickler for the rules, as you are, and a well-informed person, I'm sure that you would not want our proceedings to go on this afternoon without our recognizing that we are doing so under the watchful eye of Hugh MacGinnis, the reeve from the village of Dutton, who is sitting in the gallery to the end of the chambers.

The Speaker (Hon Chris Stockwell): That is not a point of order -- it's not anywhere near a point of order -- but I certainly will.

Mr Rick Bartolucci (Sudbury): On a point of order, Mr Speaker: I see my friend is back today. After perusing Hansard very, very diligently and carefully, I can't find any place where the Minister of Health would get the impression that I didn't like him. I just want to clarify the record and say that I do like him all of the time, even though I don't like what he's doing.

But more importantly, he's still waiting for the puppy that our caucus promised him, so my point of order, Mr Speaker, is that I'd like to present him with a puppy. You'll notice that the puppy won't bark, but it won't dirty. It has a head of stone. It truly is a commonsense puppy. Could I have one of the pages deliver it to him?

The Speaker: That, again, is not a point of order. You may give the Minister of Health a puppy in your own time. I don't know if it's appropriate to be doing it here.


The Speaker (Hon Chris Stockwell): Ministers' statements? None. Then I will respond to the point of order raised by the member for Algoma yesterday with respect to signs in the Legislature. I spent a considerable amount of the hours in between yesterday and today reviewing some of the previous decisions by the previous Speakers brought forward with respect to signs in the Legislature. It falls under standing order 13(a), which says in part, "The Speaker shall preserve order and decorum," which is a rather broad and very interpretive approach to signs in the Legislature.

In 1989, after due consideration, the standing committee on the Legislative Assembly advised the Speaker that standing order 13(a) gave him sufficient authority to rule on the use of signs or displays in the House as he sees fit.

While exercising some discretion, past Speakers have sought to discourage the use of signs and props in the chambers, and the examples are several. I'll just mention a few.

In January 1983, acting Speaker rules the member for Oakwood should put his sign down and stop the demonstration.

In May 1983, Speaker directs the member for Nickel Belt to remove the sign from the front of his desk.

In March 1991, the Speaker addresses House after question period: "I just hope that we can continue in the future having members speak without bringing props into the House."

In June 1991, the Speaker allows the clock to tick during question period until members put signs away.

In June 1993, acting Speaker directs the member for Nepean to remove props, saying, "Props are not considered to be parliamentary."

In November 1993, the Speaker rules that we discourage all members from bringing signs into the chamber and asked them not to display them.

I know the member for Algoma brought forward the ruling in 1991 by then Speaker Warner with respect to the member for Etobicoke West. If you happen to read a little further on, in December 1993 the same Speaker Warner ruled, "Speaker Warner admonishes the member for Etobicoke West and directs him to remove a sign reading, `Call Police.'" He stated, "Members will know that in order to try and maintain decorum in this House, we discourage members from having signs of any description and would ask the members to please abide by that." I am in complete agreement with Speaker Warner.


Further, I would like to inform the members of the Legislature that it's important that we try to get as many questions on the question period agenda as possible. I know the backbenchers, having sat on both sides of the Legislature in the back bench -- it is an important part of their jobs to represent their constituents in the most visual and effective way they can, which is to get questions on the legislative agenda during question period.

I would ask that the leaders of both parties and the respondents in the cabinet please make your questions and answers more succinct, direct and to the point. It seems to me reasonable that you could probably get a question put in a minute or a minute and a half. If it isn't going to get put in a minute or a minute and a half or less, it probably isn't going to get put. That is probably the analogy you can use.

To the ministers, the same situation applies. We should be able to get a reasonable response in a minute to a minute and a half, and it would give the opportunity for both back benches to get more involved in question period, which I think is both productive and effective for all the members in the House today.



Mr John Gerretsen (Kingston and The Islands): In light of what you've just stated, Mr Speaker, I'll make my question a one-line question to the Premier because the Minister of Education is absent today.

Mr Premier, do you agree with me that school libraries and the reading of books are an integral part of classroom education?

Hon Michael D. Harris (Premier): Yes.

Mr Gerretsen: The answer was "yes," but let me just remind you that in your Common Sense Revolution you stated, "Classroom funding for education will be guaranteed." Students across Ontario are feeling your cuts in the classroom. When students in St Thomas returned to school last month they found there was something missing in their school, namely their librarian. Students in Hamilton have actually found themselves locked out of their school libraries because of your budget cuts.

Premier, will you admit that your cuts are having an effect on classroom education and that your cuts are denying students the opportunity to read and learn in their school libraries?

Hon Mr Harris: Absolutely to the contrary, there is not a single action that has been taken by this government or the Minister of Education or the Minister of Finance that ought to have caused any diminution of service in the classroom.

Mr David S. Cooke (Windsor-Riverside): You can do better than that. Twenty per cent cut --

The Speaker (Hon Chris Stockwell): Order.

Hon Mr Harris: We are dealing with a system run by school boards, programs delivered by school boards, of which there has been extensive examination and study, one by a former cabinet minister of the Liberal Party, who estimated I think that in the bureaucracy above the schools, above the classroom, not including libraries, there might be upwards of $1 billion being wasted.

Mr James J. Bradley (St Catharines): Read the whole report.

The Speaker: Order.

Hon Mr Harris: There was a reduction of less than 2% that was passed on to the school boards, about $260 million in operating last year, peanuts compared to what former Minister Sweeney identified as waste within the system. So if there has been an effect on classroom teaching, it ought not to be tolerated, and the Minister of Education is looking at ways, even though it's not our jurisdiction, to ensure to the best of our ability that it does not take place.

Mr Gerretsen: You don't seem to understand that libraries in schools are the great equalizers, that no matter how rich or how poor a student is, school libraries provide an opportunity for all children to learn. Your cuts are taking that away from them.

We have worked hard to increase literacy in this province over the last number of years, and your actions are undermining these efforts. It's not just in school libraries that programs are being cut; literacy programs have been cut as well. The ministry has cut literacy programs by as much as 25%, according to the Ontario Literacy Coalition, programs that support libraries specializing in literacy materials. Many school boards are claiming that as a result of the funding cuts they are dropping adult literacy programs.

Will you admit that your cuts are destroying literacy programs, taking books away from children and hurting the education system that you are so quick to brag about overseas as being number one yet are condemning at home?

Hon Mr Harris: No, there has not been one single action taken by anybody -- the Minister of Education. Certainly the Premier has not suggested to boards: "Cut libraries. Cut services there. Cut literacy money being spent there." I appreciate the member's concern, because I think he shares with me my belief that we are dealing here in Ontario with an excellent education system, the best teachers you are going to find anywhere in the world. This is what we've all been saying, including the minister. But there is a problem with a system where, when faced with reductions in the vicinity of 2%, the only response is to go and attack programs that are of benefit in the classroom and to literacy. That's not acceptable, that's not to be tolerated and I hope you will work with us to make sure that's not the case in the future.

The Speaker: New question.

Mr Gerretsen: When you cut the provincial funding by as much as 25%, you are affecting the programs.

The Speaker: Who's your question to?


Mr John Gerretsen (Kingston and The Islands): My second question is to the Minister of Health. Welcome back to the House. Before I proceed, perhaps I will fill you in on what's happened during your absence. The people of Sudbury have been left scrambling to save their local health care services after your Big Blue Tory bulldozer plowed under two of their hospitals, slashed their hospital operating budgets by $41 million and cut the number of acute care beds from 571 to 365. In Thunder Bay, exactly the same thing has happened. They've got 50% fewer acute care beds. Right here in Toronto, as a matter of fact, the Toronto Hospital has fired over 322 nurses. Remember, those are the people who cure people, as you like to call the health care providers. This is another direct result of your cuts to hospital budgets, seriously threatening patient care. That makes for quite a busy week while you were away.

I say "you" because indeed you are the minister responsible for the steering of the so-called restructuring committee that's slashing $1.3 billion out of the health care system.

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

Mr Gerretsen: In light of everything I've stated, is this what you envisioned when during the last election you promised voters that your government would protect health care: $1.3 billion in cuts to health care, hospital closures and hundreds of layoffs?

Hon Jim Wilson (Minister of Health): The honourable member mentions my absence, which to say the least is unparliamentary, but I will remind members that Honda Canada Manufacturing is expanding, some 1,600 new jobs. I was at Honda yesterday, along with the Honourable Bill Saunderson, celebrating that expansion and that tremendous vote of confidence from the manufacturing sector in the province of Ontario.

In response to the honourable member's question, we have fully kept our campaign promise and our Common Sense Revolution promise to maintain health care spending at $17.4 billion and above. Secondly, the record would be clear that over the four and a half years I served as my party's health care critic I never once criticized the hospital restructuring. The previous government launched over 60 studies and spent $26 million. I assumed all the way along, as did the district health councils, that something would be done with those studies, that they wouldn't be allowed to gather dust on the shelves and that patient care would become the focus of the health care system. When you see, as has been pointed out in the commission's two reports today, excessive administrative costs well above the provincial average, then I think it's incumbent upon all of us to encourage the restructuring and to drive those excessive administrative dollars down to patient services.

Mr Gerretsen: Minister, if you think that less funding, fewer hospitals and fewer health care providers will make for better patient care, you're fooling yourself but you're not fooling the people of Ontario.


Let me tell you what your actions will result in: cheaper, second-rate health care and more money in the pockets of the rich, thanks to your 30% tax cut. You say your cuts will not affect patient care. Tell that to the people of Thunder Bay and Sudbury, who have already been dealt their sentence from your so-called restructuring commission. Tell that to the thousands of people in Kincardine and Wiarton, who are bracing for the Big Blue bulldozer machine to hit their communities. Tell that to the hundreds of nurses at the Toronto Hospital and the 15,000 nurses province-wide who will no longer be around to care for patients. Tell that to the patients who are now aware of the fact that former cafeteria workers are being trained to perform tasks once reserved for medically trained professionals because hospitals are trying to meet your bottom line.

The Speaker: Question, please.

Mr Gerretsen: Minister, will you not acknowledge what thousands of people have been trying to tell you for so long, will you not admit that your cuts to health care are affecting patient care and threatening to destroy quality and accessible health care as we know it?

Hon Mr Wilson: What I will admit is that this is the only government in Canada that's undergoing health care restructuring that has not cut the overall health care budget. He may want to talk to his federal Liberal cousins, who cut health care and social service transfers to this province by $2.1 billion. We've had to cut just about everything else in government, outside of the protected areas, to make sure that we can continue to fund the health care system at the level we committed to during the campaign and that we've more than lived up to since coming to office over a year ago.

Mr Gerretsen: You've cut $1.3 billion out of the hospital budgets, and you know it. Do you not hear what the thousands of people in communities across Ontario are telling you? They are telling you that they're frightened. They're worried that they will not be able to access the kind of care that they need in their own communities. They know that when a $1.3-billion cut is driving the restructuring process, cheaper, inferior and less accessible health care is inevitable. These are the real concerns out there. These are the people you made your election pledge to, and they want answers.

Minister, will you not finally agree that a second-rate health care system is much too high a price to pay for your 30% tax cut? Will you not, together with the Minister of Finance and the Premier, admit that enough is enough, restore the $1.3 billion cut and protect health care for Ontarians, as you promised in your last election?

Hon Mr Wilson: Again, there is nothing to restore. The honourable member is incorrect. The health care budget is fully intact. We're making the investments in community health and in mental health and community-based services as required, not only on direction from the commission but much ahead of what the commission is recommending.

Secondly, I'd remind -- because I'm free to talk about Thunder Bay now that the commission has issued its final orders. Thunder Bay is only being asked to do what other hospitals are doing in Ontario. The 586 patient-days per 1,000 population, 25% of our hospitals in Ontario are currently achieving that rate, and the commission adjusted for the fact that it is the north, that it is the northwest and that they may have to admit people more often. What they said was, "You can admit people as often as you used to in the past, even though that's well above the provincial average, but they shouldn't stay as long if you're applying all the modern techniques and doing what other hospitals are doing in the province." So this isn't revolutionary, it's not pushing the envelope with respect to expectations that we should have for our health care providers and our administrators and our hospitals, because we already have 25% of the hospitals in the province meeting those expectations and truly have already undertaken their own restructuring to become efficient. Quality of care has not suffered in those 25% of hospitals.

The Speaker: Answer, please.

Hon Mr Wilson: Quality of care is not suffering. Dr David Naylor's second atlas came out -- Mr Speaker, really quickly -- just a few months ago and he cannot find any evidence to substantiate your stories about suffering quality and access.


The Speaker: Order. The question has been answered. The leader of the third party.


Mr Howard Hampton (Rainy River): My question is for the Minister of Labour. Last month, the Union of Needletrades, Industrial and Textile Employees, UNITE, made a presentation to the committee studying your bad bosses bill that attacks workers' rights set out in the Employment Standards Act. These workers put on a sweatshop fashion show. They know that your government's Bill 49, the bad bosses bill, would make conditions worse for low-paid women by making it more difficult for them than ever before --

The Speaker (Hon Chris Stockwell): Order. To the leader of the third party, you know full well that demonstrations aren't allowed in this place. I would ask that it discontinue.

Minister of Labour, you're on. Respond.

Mr Hampton: I have not had a chance to put the question.

The Speaker: Oh, I'm sorry. If you'd put it quickly, please, then.

Mr Hampton: I will put the question. It appears that the government doesn't want to see the pricetags on the clothing, so let me just put it to you this way, Minister. The women who are wearing that clothing were paid less than the minimum wage for manufacturing that clothing, for sewing it, less than the minimum wage. In fact, you're going to make it more difficult for those women to even have the minimum wage enforced; you're going to make it more difficult for them.

The Speaker: The question, please.

Mr Hampton: Why do you insist on taking workers' rights out of the Employment Standards Act? Why do you insist on making it more difficult for women like that to even have the minimum wage observed, to even get their wages paid, to even raise a complaint with the Ministry of Labour? Why are you doing that?

Hon Elizabeth Witmer (Minister of Labour): To the leader of the third party, I am shocked and I am surprised that you can stand there, after having been in opposition for five years, as I was, and sending you letters and telling you that there was a problem on behalf of these women. I want to tell you that it indicates here that you never made any commitment to these women, and yet you've got the gall to stand up in this House today and ask for appropriate protection. We are giving those women the protection they deserve, that you refused to do; that's why we are doing a complete review of the Employment Standards Act. We will ensure that there are basic minimum standards and that these people will receive the protection they deserve, which, I can tell you, you refused to commit to do in the five years when you were in government.

Mr Hampton: It's interesting to see how the government now attempts to rewrite history. We at least gave women like that the opportunity to join a union, to fight for their own rights, rights that you're taking away; that's what we did. We at least sat down with women like that and started to work on a process that would mean that the minimum wage could be enforced; you're taking that away.

I want to go back to the point. Those women were paid a piece rate of $4.52 to make that clothing, which sells for $59.45; $59.45 is what the clothing sells for in Ontario stores, and they were paid a $4.52 piece rate, which works out to $5.40 an hour. Yet you are going to make it even more difficult for them to enforce the Employment Standards Act.

The Speaker: The question, please.

Mr Hampton: That's why they came here today: not to complain about what we did under Bill 40 for them but to point out that you're going to take money out of their pocket, you're going to make it more difficult for them to enforce the Employment Standards Act in order that you can give the worst bosses in this province more money. How do you justify that, Minister? How do you justify it?


Hon Mrs Witmer: I want to just tell the leader of the third party one more time that I have met with this group of women on several occasions while I was the opposition critic for labour and now as the Minister of Labour. I understand their concerns. We are the first government since 1974 that is prepared to completely review the Employment Standards Act in order that women such as those here today have the opportunity to make sure that the basic minimum standards are there for their protection. We are going to be enforcing the act. We're the first government that has had the courage to deal with the Employment Standards Act.

Mr Hampton: Those women tell a slightly different story from the Minister of Labour. Yes, they acknowledge that the Minister of Labour has met with them. Then the Minister of Labour has totally ignored them. What they don't understand is that the Minister of Labour keeps promising a review of the Employment Standards Act. They ask the Minster of Labour: "Why are you cutting us before you do the review? If you're so interested in our welfare, why don't you put off the cuts and why don't you do the review of the Employment Standards Act and see how it can be improved instead of cutting workers' rights?"

They also ask another question, and maybe you can answer this. If you want to improve the Employment Standards Act, if you want to ensure that it will be enforced, why did you lay off a third of the Ministry of Labour staff whose job it is to enforce those labour standards? Why did you do that if you're interested in enforcing it?

Hon Mrs Witmer: I want to again indicate to the leader of the third party that we have made tremendous strides since taking office over one year ago. When we came into this position, there were 4,000 cases before the officers who were dealing with the employment standards act. We have been able to reduce that caseload significantly. We are the first government that has demonstrated a commitment. We have moved people around. I also want to tell you that we have endeavoured to improve communication about the act for workers such as the workers in this audience today. We translate the information into different languages.

Mr David Christopherson (Hamilton Centre): We had to force them to take the bill out to public hearings. You wanted to ram it through in two weeks.

The Speaker: The member for Hamilton Centre.

Hon Mrs Witmer: For the first time, as I indicated to you before -- and I know that the critic for labour is not interested in listening because he had five years in opposition in order to help these women --

The Speaker: Answer the question, please, Minister of Labour.

Mr Christopherson: You don't want to listen. You stand there and lie. It's lies.

The Speaker: Order. I ask the member for Hamilton Centre to withdraw that comment.

Mr Christopherson: Mr Speaker, if I said something unparliamentary I withdraw it.

The Speaker: No, I think it's got to be a little clearer, member for Hamilton Centre. I want you to withdraw the comment you made. It's very clear what you said. You know exactly what is unparliamentary.

Mr Christopherson: Speaker, I think I've followed the format used by many members of this House in withdrawing. I said that if I said anything unparliamentary, I withdraw it.

The Speaker: The member for Hamilton Centre, there are no ifs, ands or buts about it. What you said was unparliamentary. I give you the last warning to withdraw. Withdraw.

Mr Christopherson: Speaker, I sincerely do not believe I am doing anything wrong procedurally and I stand by what I said.

The Speaker: I give the member for Hamilton Centre a last opportunity. There's nothing "if" about it. It was unparliamentary. I ask you to withdraw the comments. Last chance.

Mr Christopherson: Mr Speaker, I have used exactly the same language, I believe, in the past when I have attempted to be in proper accordance with the rules. I say to you, with respect, sir, if I said anything unparliamentary then I withdraw it.

The Speaker: Thank you, member for Hamilton Centre. Again, this is the first ruling and I will let the member for Hamilton Centre stand, but I'm going to suggest that in the future, to withdraw, you withdraw the remarks you made. We know what is unparliamentary. I will give all the House a warning: There's no "if" any more; we know what it was you said and I would ask in future that you please withdraw.

Finally, the Minister of Labour.

Hon Mrs Witmer: Just to conclude my remarks by indicating to you one more time that we are doing what no other government has done since 1974; we are going to ensure that the basic minimum standards are protected and we are going to make sure that the women in this gallery receive the protection they deserve.

The Speaker: New question, the leader of the third party.

Mr Hampton: The record will show that the Minister of Labour has done away with inspections and done away with enforcement, and then says there's no problem. That's what's really going on.


Mr Howard Hampton (Rainy River): My second question is for the Minister of Health, the minister who is more and more assuming control over the destruction of hospital care in Ontario.

Minister, 322 nurses at Toronto Hospital received layoff notices on October 2, 242 full-time and 80 part-time. The chief executive of the hospital says that the layoffs are a direct result of the cut in funding from the provincial government. And in Windsor last week, 14 of 39 nurses at Malden Park Continuing Care Centre were laid off. What's so strange here is that Windsor's health care system has already been restructured. In fact Malden Park is a result of the restructured services in Windsor, but still they were hit with a 6% decrease in funding and layoffs for nurses.

People are very concerned because people know that when you lose nurses out of the system the mortality rates go up and people end up spending more time in hospital, not less. In fact a British expert was here, Dorothy Wedderburn, and she says you are making the same mistakes that Margaret Thatcher made in Britain, cutting holes and cracks in the health care system.

Does the minister think it's good for health care that all these nurses were laid off at Toronto Hospital and that it's good for health care that these women were laid off at Malden Park in Windsor? Does the minister think that's good for health care?

Hon Jim Wilson (Minister of Health): Hospitals are autonomous corporations. The government of Ontario doesn't own any of the 219 public hospitals. They have public boards that make decisions. At the end of day, though, my responsibility as Minister of Health on behalf of the people of Ontario is to make sure that quality and access is maintained. I can assure you that this year for the first time we sent back more operating plans of hospitals because we didn't feel they were protecting quality -- they weren't cutting administration first, for example -- and that we're doing everything we can to make sure both quality and access to services are maintained as hospitals become more efficient.

So with respect to the Toronto Hospital, we looked at their operating plan and we're confident at this point that they'll be able to maintain quality and access because of the new way they're doing business in terms of having teams of nurses not just assigned to a unit where there may or may not be any patients, but teams able to respond to the actual patient needs throughout the hospital.

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

Hon Mr Wilson: It is a new way of allocating human resources for that hospital. It's not a new way for the system. We'll be monitoring it very carefully to make sure both quality and access for patients are maintained.

Mr Hampton: I'm beginning to think we should call the Minister of Health the minister of fantasyland. He takes $343 million out of hospital budgets. Those hospitals are very clear with him, as they are with everyone else, that the minister's cuts are the issue. It's the minister's cuts that are forcing the layoff of nurses here in Toronto, in Windsor. It's the minister's cuts that are going to put 900 front-line nurses and health care workers in Thunder Bay out on the street without a job and it's the minister's cuts that are going to put hundreds of nurses and other health care workers in Sudbury out on the street without a job. It's no one else; it's the minister's cuts.

I want to ask the minister again, do you think it's good for health care for people that all of these people, all of these health care workers, all of these nurses, are being laid off as a result of your cuts? Do you think that's good for health care? Do you think that's good for people across Ontario?


Hon Mr Wilson: Again, the honourable member from the party across the floor has a lot of gall to ask this question. Over 2,000 nurses were laid off in the five years that you were in office. You closed 8,600 hospital beds. The problem is, you forgot to get rid of the administration. You know, just maybe if you'd done some restructuring properly over there, actually got rid of the waste and duplication and the excessive administration in our system, there would be more money around today for patient care. So what we're having to do is to go through the restructuring.

We've already invested $170 million in community-based care, creating 4,400 new jobs for nurses and homemakers and other health care providers. The health sector training and adjustment program has already had over 2,000 nurses go through it in terms of helping them to retrain for jobs in the community. Health care is a growing sector in this province overall. Yes, shifts are occurring, but there are jobs in health care in this province. It's one of the expanding sectors as the population gets older and grows.

The Speaker: Answer, please.

Hon Mr Wilson: There's a net employment increase in health care. It's just that some people will have to retrain to get the new jobs in the community-based side of the sector.

Mr Hampton: The minister comes right back to the point we've been trying to drive home for weeks and he wants to ignore. The fact is that millions of dollars are being taken out of communities like Thunder Bay and Sudbury and there is no guarantee of the community services.

At the Toronto Hospital, all of the nurses who are being laid off are not as a result of restructuring. Those are just health care cuts. The fact of the matter is, we have not seen any evidence yet of the reinvestment that is going to put those nurses and other health care workers back into health care. All we're seeing from your government is health care cuts. That's what we're seeing at the Toronto Hospital -- health care cuts, nurses being laid off. That's what we're seeing in Windsor at the home for the aged -- health care cuts, nurses being laid off. That's what we're seeing in Sudbury and Thunder Bay -- health care cuts. We're not seeing the schemes, the plans that will reinvest and that will put those people back to work doing front-line health care.

The Speaker: Question, please.

Mr Hampton: So I ask the minister again, do you think it's good for health care, do you think it's good for people across this province that all of these nurses are being laid off as a result of your health care cuts?

Hon Mr Wilson: Already the restructuring, without seeing any of the hospital dollars from the savings that hospitals are being asked to achieve over the next three years -- that just started on April 1, so in reality the ministry or the government hasn't seen those savings -- we've made all kinds of reinvestments.

Thunder Bay, for example, over the last few years has had a 136% increase in its home care budget. It is ready for the customers that will come as a result of moving towards more community-based services, which give greater dignity to individuals to remain in their homes.

Frankly, you spent millions of dollars surveying seniors. You surveyed them to death. But what came out of those surveys is that consistently they said they prefer to stay in their homes; they prefer that investments be made in community-based services.

Just on September 25 I announced $250,000 for a crisis response service in Thunder Bay. The Thunder Bay Mental Illness Support Network gets $166,500. We've spent several million dollars expanding cardiac stents, some of that for northern Ontario; $170 million, as I said today --

The Speaker: Answer, please, Minister.

Hon Mr Wilson: -- 4,400 new jobs in the community-based sector; an expanded diabetes network for the north and throughout Ontario. Some 40 announcements we've made in reinvestment dollars long before we've seen any money out of hospital restructuring. The fact of the matter is, we've put more money up front. That's why the budget's up this year.

The Speaker: The question's been answered.

Hon Mr Wilson: We're investing in community services --

The Speaker: New question, the opposition. Order, Minister of Health.


Mr David Ramsay (Timiskaming): I'd like to continue with the line of questioning to the Minister of Health about his health care cuts. Minister, we hear a lot of buzzwords in your answers about restructuring and hospital closures, bricks and mortar, and community-based health care. I'd like to bring you down to the patient level and talk to you about some of the cases that I and other members have to deal with on a day-to-day basis.

Richard Adams in my constituency had a heart attack in March of this year. After a series of tests through the cardiology department at Memorial Hospital in Sudbury, April 23, it was decided that he needed heart surgery and he was put on the list. At that time, he was told that it would be about two to three months before he could have surgery. Mind you, emergency cases would be coming in from time to time and the possibility was there that he would be bumped. He was pretty anxious by July. On July 20 he was told that he was 20th on a list of 194 waiting for heart surgery. They couldn't get any answers over the summer, so they came to my office on September 6 and we were able to determine that he was now 10th on the list.

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

Mr Ramsay: Four days later, he was called to say that his surgery was scheduled for September 23. On September 19 he had a heart attack. They got him into surgery on September 24, but unfortunately he died a few hours after surgery. How is your restructuring and closing of 228 beds in Sudbury going to alleviate this problem?

Hon Jim Wilson (Minister of Health): The restructuring has not occurred. Sudbury and Thunder Bay have two to three years to make the changes. To mix the two issues is simply fearmongering.

When I announced recently the $2 million for cardiac stents, and at the previous announcement that we made with respect to increasing the number of surgeries this year and next by 19%, Dr Hugh Scully, one of the world's leading cardiologists and cardiac surgeons, said that Ontario's doing the best job of all of the provinces in Canada. The object is to eliminate waiting lists, but I can say today that Ontario has the shortest waiting lists in Canada as a result of the reinvestments that this government made, and we made those reinvestments before we've even received the comprehensive report on cardiac care from the provincial cardiac care network. To tie restructuring into a current day-patient is a simply wrong.

At the end of the day we'll have more money for surgeries. In Winnipeg, when they restructured, they had 33% more surgeries after restructuring than before. That's because the dollars were driven into surgeries and away from administration, bricks and mortar, waste and duplication.

Mr Ramsay: I asked you how we could do a better job. I don't like the situation today. As far as I'm concerned, it's not good enough because I don't want to see 194 constituents from northeastern Ontario dying this year because they can't get to operating rooms. How does the reduction of 20 operating rooms at Memorial Hospital down to 12 mean we're going to have better access? How is closing down of the recovery rooms in those hospitals by over 200 going to mean we have better access? You're capping those operations down. Sure, we're getting a few more next year. We're getting about 19 more next year than we did for this year. We're losing people in northeastern Ontario. The system's not working well today and your restructuring is not going to make it any better. The capping and the cutting that you're doing to pay for the Mike Harris tax cut are killing people in this province. What are you going to do about it?

Hon Mr Wilson: That's extremely unfair, to say the least. I won't comment specifically on the Sudbury restructuring because we're in that period of time when the public and others are to submit their comments to the Health Services Restructuring Commission.

But let's look at Thunder Bay. You're right, there is a specialist recruitment and retention problem. You know what? The commission is asking that we spend over $4 million to set up a special program in addition to what we do now and what previous governments have done to really try and retain and attract specialists to the north. They've asked that we reinvest $1.2 million in new adolescent mental health services. They've identified a gap in services and asked that we take money and reinvest it in there. There's $2.3 million in transitional care beds. This is a new type of bed for Ontario when you don't need all of the services of a $400 to $500 acute care bed and you're not quite ready to go home or you're not quite ready to go into a $95-a-day nursing home bed. They're asking for a brand-new system of beds to look after those people who are in between. It's a good and efficient use of our health care dollars. It's the proper thing to do for patients. Patients have long been asking for a transitional type of institution or type of bed.

The Speaker: Answer, please.

Hon Mr Wilson: All of the reinvestments identified by the commission fill gaps in services and indeed, at the end of the day, will improve the services in Thunder Bay and in other areas across the province.



Mr Rosario Marchese (Fort York): My question is to the Minister of Municipal Affairs and Housing. This morning at 8 o'clock, I joined with a group of people -- the Ontario Coalition Against Homelessness and the Ontario Coalition Against Poverty, including residents of Seaton House -- all very concerned about the growing number of people dying in the streets. As I stepped out of my home, I realized this morning that it was very cold and that it was raining as well. So I walked back into my warm house to pick up a coat and to pick up an umbrella, including a cap. As I drove to Seaton House, it occurred to me that the men and women with whom I was joining don't have a warm house to go back to, to pick up a warm coat, an umbrella or a cap.

A number of things have happened. According to the department of public health, many homeless deaths occur in the months of September, October and November. There are approximately 25,000 to 50,000 homeless. What are you going to do to make sure that the ravages of winter do not claim more homeless this winter?

Hon Al Leach (Minister of Municipal Affairs and Housing): I'll refer the question to the Minister of Community and Social Services.

Hon Janet Ecker (Minister of Community and Social Services): I think the honourable member will know that we are continuing to support municipalities in the cost-sharing arrangement we have so that they continue to provide emergency housing and shelter for those who need it.

Mr Marchese: The reason I asked the Minister of Housing is because I know that Mike Harris had appointed him to deal with issues of homes for people who don't have them. He didn't create a ministry of homelessness; he created a Ministry of Housing to deal with the issue of homes. That's the question, by and large. Homeless people do not have a warm home to go back to. He refers me to another ministry. Then the other minister says, "Oh, we're dealing with it; we're cost-sharing with municipalities." I'm not quite sure how they're dealing with the fact that more and more people are dying on the streets. That's the reality. Both of you and the Premier have the fiduciary responsibility to deal with all of the citizens of Ontario. What we have known and what we know is that more and more people will die on the streets.

The question I have for you, Minister, as I did for the Minister of Housing, is this: We've learned from an article by John Ibbitson in the August 26 Kingston Whig-Standard where he says the following: "Insiders of Ontario's Tory government say the province will not accept an inquest jury's pleadings to spend more on the homeless, claiming it only worsens the situation." Is this what the Premier appointed both of you to do? Is this your response to the homeless issue that we face here in Toronto and elsewhere?

Hon Mrs Ecker: I appreciate the concern of the honourable member about those who need such shelter. I can only repeat that the Ministry of Community and Social Services is taking its responsibility here very seriously. This funding is being maintained. We are continuing to support the municipalities in exercising this very important and, I believe, very necessary responsibility.


Mr Steve Gilchrist (Scarborough East): My question is for the Minister of Citizenship, Culture and Recreation. Last Friday, when you launched the government's new sports strategy, the Liberal Party, even before your announcement, came out with its position, I guess demonstrating the same ESP skills that led to its incredibly successful election platform strategy last year. Their inference was that this new policy would hurt sports development of provincial athletes from all levels, all the way from junior to Olympic. Do you believe this new policy hurts athlete development in this province?

Hon Marilyn Mushinski (Minister of Citizenship, Culture and Recreation): Absolutely not. Let me tell you what our new strategy is going to do: It's going to target our resources on the development of athletes and coaches, and it's going to be spending taxpayers' money smarter by requiring value for the resources we spend. I don't think funding administration for snooker and horseshoes is a particularly wise use of taxpayers' dollars. In fact, previous governments allowed too much of the taxpayers' support to be absorbed by administrative costs. The Liberals have lost touch --

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

Hon Ms Mushinski: -- with the notion of value for money. If they want to continue to support --


The Speaker: Order. I say to the members of the opposition, I cannot hear the answer and I'm --


The Speaker: You know, it's your time, and I really believe it is your time, and the problem is that standing here is not productive. If I can't hear the answer, I can't possibly rule properly. I ask all members to allow the answer to be put. Can you please sum up, Minister of Citizenship?

Hon Ms Mushinski: I'll sum up by saying that if the Liberals want to continue to support snooker and solo swim and fly and bait casting and parachuting under the guise of competitive sport, then I would suggest they defend those decisions in their own ridings.

Mr Gilchrist: Madam Minister, on a short supplemental, before the comprehensive sports strategy was introduced, could you tell this House how much money precisely was spent on sport that went directly to the athlete and how much went towards overhead and administrative costs?

Hon Ms Mushinski: The province provides the provincial sports organizations with anywhere from 20% to 40% of their operating expenses. Of the money that we invest as a province, over 50% is spent on administration. We don't believe that's a strategic use of taxpayers' dollars in support of amateur sport. What we do believe in is directing our resources, and what this new policy will do is direct our resources to the development of athletes, coaches and volunteers, which we believe is the foundation of our provincial sports system.


Mrs Sandra Pupatello (Windsor-Sandwich): My question is for the Minister of Health. Minister, we have a very serious situation in the Windsor area regarding a lack of obstetricians for women who are pregnant, and in particular women at risk who are pregnant. I know you're very aware of the circumstances in Windsor because we call you on a repeated basis. Moreover, we have had all of the women call your office. As you know, we don't have a solution yet and I'm looking for some leadership from you so that we can solve this very important issue in Windsor.

Hon Jim Wilson (Minister of Health): As we speak, administrators from the hospitals in Windsor and the health care leadership are meeting here in Toronto to come to offer some solutions and advice to the ministry on what we can do. We have a very good plan, actually, that we're proposing to them, but we need their buy-in to make sure that we're not stepping on anyone's toes.

Mrs Pupatello: Minister, may I suggest, that so far all of your work has been a complete failure because the result is that I currently have 68 women in my office alone that we are trying desperately to find obstetricians for. We have looked in London, we have looked in Chatham, and of course we're also looking in the United States where you suggested that they could "pop across" the river in order to deliver a baby.

I guess my greatest concern is for women at risk. I've got to get you to understand how serious an issue this is. Our Windsor hospitals are not the issue. The issue is that they don't have in some cases family doctors, in all cases obstetricians, who are prepared to deliver these children. Where women are at risk, we have a very real risk of harming the future of the children and the future of the moms.

Minister, this is very serious. Please don't just brush this aside. You've been talking about negotiation for some time. That is not an option. Gestation is only nine months long and you've been at this for several months already. I'm asking you today: You must come up with a solution. Being agreeable to pay American fees is not an answer. Our women do not want to have babies born in the US. We need obstetricians in the Windsor area and we need a solution today.


Hon Mr Wilson: Other than giving constant criticism over the past few months, this member has never offered one solution. We gave obstetricians a $14,000 raise on April 1. We're paying their malpractice insurance.

We're at the negotiating table dealing with their other frustrations. Some of them are very real frustrations, and we're very concerned about that. We are meeting with the hospital people today to offer what we think is a solution and to hear their solutions. I'd like to hear your solutions to this. You constantly scaremonger and you constantly refuse to give us the names of patients who you claim want help.

We want their names. We want to help these women. If it means sending someone to the US because they are having a difficult birth and they need the service, by golly, the service, the patient, the baby and the mother come first, and we'll do whatever we have to do to make sure mothers and children receive the services they deserve from this health care system and from this government.

Mrs Pupatello: I have a point of order, Mr Speaker: It's about something given by the Minister of Health that is completely erroneous to stand in Hansard. We have continuously --

The Speaker: That's not a point of order. The member for Windsor-Sandwich, come to order, please.

Mrs Pupatello: On a point of personal privilege.

The Speaker: There's no such thing as a point of personal privilege. There is a point of privilege. If you'd like to take up a point of privilege, I will take it up after question period.


Ms Frances Lankin (Beaches-Woodbine): My question is to the Minister of Community and Social Services. In order to build the quality child care system we have in this province today, a necessary component of government support has been the capital dollars to construct the centres. In 1994-95 your ministry spent about $40 million in constructing new child care centres. In 1995-96 your government cut that down to $5.8 million. This year you've budgeted $83,000. The Ministry of Education and Training, which used to have a fund to support the building of new child care centres in new schools that were being constructed at $10.5 million a year, has actually cancelled that program altogether. That was a $50-million budget line between the two ministries that's been cut to $83,000.

How can you justify this virtual elimination of support for the construction of not-for-profit child care centres while at the same time trying to deny that you're dismantling the not-for-profit system in this province?

Hon Janet Ecker (Minister of Community and Social Services): It was a little difficult to hear some of the figures the honourable member across the way was using, but I don't believe she recognized the $7 million in capital funding we spent on centres with the serious health and safety needs they had in those centres.

Ms Lankin: The minister ignored my question. The $7 million that you spent was for health and safety upgrades at centres that were just about to close altogether. I'm talking about capital for new centre construction. Your government has cut it from a combined budget of over $50 million a year down to $83,000. What does that mean? that means no new centres are going to be built.

Let me give you an example that I know you're familiar with: the Central Eglinton Children's Centre in the Eglinton public school, a replacement school that's being built, a new school, and there are no dollars to replace the child care centre. That's only one of four schools in downtown Toronto where this is happening. We're going to lose four centres. We're going to lose 214 licensed spaces, and 214 kids and families are going to be without access to not-for-profit child care. You sent them a letter that said, "Go to philanthropic organizations." No child care centre in this province has ever been able to get that kind of assistance.

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

Ms Lankin: Then you said: "Go to the Toronto board. They'll fund it." Your Minister of Education and Training has said they can't spend money outside the classroom. Minister, you announced in your budget a new $40 million for child care, we're halfway through the year, and you have not told anyone how to access that money or what you're going to spend it on. You won't be able to spend it all. Why won't you please spend $1.5 million of that and save these four child care centres in downtown Toronto that we need so badly? Save the 214 spots for those 214 kids and 214 families.

Hon Mrs Ecker: Thank you for the question. We are protecting that funding for child care. It's unfortunate that in this particular circumstance the school board seems to have some difficulties with their priorities on this issue. We have set out the $600 million; we've put forward proposals on how that $600 million is proposed to be spent.

I find this question passing strange. Last week, the honourable member was criticizing me because we weren't consulting. We are now consulting on those proposals before we make decisions, and now she's complaining that we don't appear to be moving on them. I think we need to hear and consult, and I will stand by that commitment.


Mr Gary L. Leadston (Kitchener-Wilmot): My question is to the honourable Minister of Transportation. Over the summer, I understand that the honourable minister and the Minister of Municipal Affairs and Housing announced an initiative called the community transportation action program. I understand that the goal of this program is to allow and encourage communities to get the most out of their existing transportation resources. My question is, can the minister explain how the program will achieve this objective?

Hon Al Palladini (Minister of Transportation): I want to thank my colleague the member for Kitchener-Wilmot. Certainly I would be happy to share this information with all the House members. We have been saying all along that this government is committed to doing better for less and spending tax dollars very wisely. That means getting the most out of the resources that are already paid for and available. Many communities have service vehicles that are not being utilized to their fullest extent. We must develop efficiencies and eliminate duplication. We are working with those communities to help them better deliver the services in a more cost-efficient way. Together with my colleagues, as the honourable member mentioned, the Minister of Municipal Affairs and Housing and also the Minister of Community and Social Services and the Minister of Health --

The Speaker (Hon Chris Stockwell): The answer, please, Mr Minister.

Hon Mr Palladini: -- we will be working with the municipalities, assisting them in developing these opportunities. I want to give some examples, because it is important.

The Speaker: I'm afraid you don't have the time.

Hon Mr Palladini: For instance, one Ontario city --

The Speaker: Thank you. Supplementary?

Mr Leadston: The program obviously is well intentioned, and I hope it does achieve the results that are intended. Does the minister have any evidence that this type of initiative has worked elsewhere, and are there any real savings?

Hon Mr Palladini: One example is an Ontario city that has nearly 200 vehicles at its disposal and only 20 of these vehicles are basically available for specialized transit. There has to be a better way of communication in the transit system to see how best they can utilize that.

In Philadelphia, a broker manages transportation for social services for the state. They introduced a modern management system, and the cost per trip has gone from $21 to less than $6. In Wakulla county, Florida, a private sector brokerage firm computerized scheduling and dispatching. The service available has gone up 50% while the costs have come down 12%.

I believe this government owes it to Ontario taxpayers to make sure we exploit every opportunity to make sure we can deliver the services in a cost-effective way.


Mr James J. Bradley (St Catharines): My question involves the Americanization of Canada, similar to the last question.

The Speaker (Hon Chris Stockwell): And who is it to?

Mr Bradley: It's to the Minister of Environment and Energy, who I know is lurking in the background. Minister, I know you were invited to attend the founders' meeting celebrating the founding of the Niagara Escarpment Commission last weekend. I don't know if you made it or not, but I know you were invited to that. You deserve considerable credit for that; I want to say that.


May I ask you this question, however: Will you assure the people of this province that the Niagara Escarpment Commission will have full jurisdiction and control over all the lands within the Niagara Escarpment Commission and you will not turn over responsibility for those planning decisions to local municipalities, which often have a vested interest in development of those lands and which often do not have the capability in terms of the staff numbers to be able to deal with the many applications that come before the commission?

While you're doing that, would you ensure that the people you place in the position of escarpment commission members are those who are going to protect the Niagara Escarpment? Because you've already bounced five or six people who were designated to do that, and they've been bounced by your government because they aren't Tory hacks.

Hon Norman W. Sterling (Minister of Environment and Energy): I want to tell the member for St Catharines I was at the dinner of the founders for conservation, along with Mr Wildman, a former Minister of Environment, and I was looking for the member for St Catharines, who is a former Minister of Environment, and the member for Ottawa East, who is also recognized, but unfortunately there weren't any Liberals at that particular founders for conservation dinner to celebrate the protection of the escarpment, to celebrate the environment and to celebrate what has been accomplished in the past.

The member for St Catharines well knows my record on the escarpment. He well knows that when I brought out the plan in July 1994, I said at that time that if I was going to err I would always err in favour of the escarpment. Therefore, I intend to appoint sensitive people to the commission, people who will uphold the protection of the escarpment, people who will have the concern of the escarpment and the preservation of the escarpment, the preservation of its beauty forever for all of the Ontarians in the future, as I have in the past.


Mrs Sandra Pupatello (Windsor-Sandwich): On a point of order, Mr Speaker: Pursuant to standing order 34(a), I'd like to advise the Speaker of my dissatisfaction with the Minister of Health and his response to my question today. I am requesting a late show.

The Speaker (Hon Chris Stockwell): That's completely in order, and if you file the appropriate papers it will be done.


Mr Bud Wildman (Algoma): On a point of order, Mr Speaker: I won't prolong this, but I would like if you could, please, to review the Hansard of the exchange between the Minister of Health and the member for Windsor-Sandwich as it relates to standing order 23(i) and determine whether or not the Minister of Health did in fact violate the order.

The Speaker (Hon Chris Stockwell): I did not hear anything that the Minister of Health did that would contravene any of the rules in the standing orders. If you'd like to enlighten me with respect to exactly how you felt the minister broke these rules, I would be happy to hear your point of order. But I myself didn't hear them, and if you could illuminate me a little more I'd appreciate it.

Mr Wildman: If you look at page 18 of the standing orders, it says that it is out of order for any member to impute "false or unavowed motives to another member." If you will review Hansard, I would think it would be quite clear that the minister did in fact impute motives.

The Speaker: I say to the member for Algoma, I myself didn't hear it. I'll be happy to --

Mr Dominic Agostino (Hamilton East): Oh, come on, Chris.

The Speaker: I myself didn't hear it, I say to the member for Algoma. There are many comments across the floor that I don't hear. I'll be happy to review Hansard, if that's what's needed, and if there is any action to be taken I'll certainly do it.

The minister is here as we speak. I would ask the minister if he would --

Hon Jim Wilson (Minister of Health): On the same point of order, Mr Speaker: If I may have my two cents' worth on this, I in no way broke any rules in this House. I honestly answered the question, as I always do, and I think it's an absolutely cheap shot by the member for Algoma to raise it in such an underhanded way; I really do.

Mr John Gerretsen (Kingston and The Islands): Yes, you did.


The Speaker: Order, order.

Mr Wildman: Mr Speaker, I rest my case: Now he's imputing my motives.

The Speaker: I will tell the members that I can always ask the Minister of Health to withdraw.

Ms Frances Lankin (Beaches-Woodbine): No ifs, ands or buts.

The Speaker: No ifs, ands or buts; I agree with the member for Beaches-Woodbine. But I will say that I did not hear anything that was out of order. If he chooses to withdraw, that is a decision that he can make. I didn't hear anything that was out of order, and it's not up to me to go back and check Hansard. If you'd like to bring it --


The Speaker: I'm asking for order. If you'd like to bring it back tomorrow -- you go through Hansard and bring it forward to this House and rise on a point of order -- you can. I've asked the Minister of Health if there's anything he feels he should withdraw. He says he hasn't. Then we will move on because I heard --

Mr David S. Cooke (Windsor-Riverside): It's your job. You could review Hansard.

The Speaker: Order.


The Speaker: Member from Hamilton, I want you to come to order. I want the members opposite to come to order on the opposition side.

Mr Gerry Phillips (Scarborough-Agincourt): On a point of order, Mr Speaker: To be helpful to you perhaps, I think the Minister of Health, in an answer to the member for Windsor-Sandwich, said that the member for Windsor-Sandwich was not trying to solve the problem, and I may be paraphrasing here, but merely to score political points. The question was asked in an attempt to solve a problem and the Minister of Health clearly imputed motives. I think the minister, who obviously came running back in slightly out of control, as periodically happens, could solve this problem by simply standing in his place and saying: "I'm sorry. I did impute a motive. That was improper."


The Speaker: Order. With all due respect to the members of the Legislature, I will say to the members I did not hear the Minister of Health --

Mr Tony Ruprecht (Parkdale): All of us heard it.

The Speaker: Member for Parkdale, come to order, please. I did not hear the minister say anything that was out of order. I might add that if we are now at the stage where members opposite and the government side are going to start suggesting we withdraw things like, "You're not helping to solve the problem," may I suggest that we may well be here for a long, long time trying to withdraw and not withdraw. I didn't hear him impute motive. I asked the minister to withdraw. He said he didn't impute motive. He said he will not withdraw. It's up to the members of this Legislature to go over Hansard. If you believe there is something in Hansard, you may deal with it in that vein. I did not hear it. I've asked the minister to withdraw. The question's been resolved. There will be a late show. Thank you very much.

Mrs Sandra Pupatello (Windsor-Sandwich): On a point of order, Mr Speaker: I've requested a late show with the Minister of Health and I would suggest, given the nature of the discussion that we've just gone through, I would especially request the Minister of Health himself to be present for the late show so that he can deal with this matter.

The Speaker: That's not a point of order. There's nothing at all that the Speaker can do to ensure those things. It's well beyond the role.

Hon Michael D. Harris (Premier): On a point or order, Mr Speaker: I believe this is a point of order. It has to do with the 90-second suggestion you had for questions and answers. My first opportunity since you assumed the chair was in response to the first question of the day and I did not want to use up question period time or deal with your 90-second rule in paying my compliments to you, Mr Speaker, on your election as Speaker. I wished to wait beyond question period. Might I --


The Speaker: Order. I can't hear the Premier.

Hon Mr Harris: Might I, not only in offering my congratulations on your election, say that from my observance, in your short time so far in your tenure you have conducted yourself with great grace and dignity and have my wholehearted support.


Mr James J. Bradley (St Catharines): Mr Speaker, on a point of order: I don't like doing this in the House, but I'm wondering why the government has delayed the calling of a motion for the rotation of the Deputy Speaker. I expected it to be forthcoming today, in fact I expected it a while ago, but other events transpired. I'm wondering if the government knows why.

Hon David Johnson (Chair of the Management Board of Cabinet and Government House Leader): If I can respond to that, my apologies to the House leader of the opposition party. We did discuss this yesterday. It was a matter that was delayed because of the election of the new Speaker, but that has taken place, and I'll give my undertaking that it will be forthwith. Unfortunately, we weren't prepared to deal with it today, but hopefully tomorrow. Unless something comes up that prevents it, I'll give my undertaking that tomorrow will be the day.



Mr Alvin Curling (Scarborough North): I have a petition to the Legislative Assembly of Ontario and it reads:

"Whereas the Rent Control Act protects Ontario's 3.3 million tenants and allows for security and stability in their homes and communities; and

"Whereas lifting rent control in Ontario would leave tenants with uncontrollable rent increases and financial instability; and

"Whereas the Progressive Conservative government is considering changes to the Landlord and Tenant Act favouring easier and faster eviction by landlords;

"We, the undersigned, petition the Legislative Assembly of Ontario to save rent control."

Many people have signed this petition and I affix my signature to this petition.


Mr Rosario Marchese (Fort York): I've got a petition to the Legislative Assembly of Ontario and it's a petition to end the spring bear hunt.

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

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

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

"Whereas 95.3% of 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 US 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."

I affix my signature to that.


Mr Gary L. Leadston (Kitchener-Wilmot): I have a petition to the Legislature of Ontario from the First United Church.

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


Mr Rick Bartolucci (Sudbury): These petitions continue to flood my office.

"To the Legislative Assembly of Ontario:

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

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

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

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

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

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

I affix my name as I am in agreement with the petition.


Mr David Christopherson (Hamilton Centre): I have a petition to the Legislative Assembly of Ontario forwarded to me by Cathy Walker, the national health and safety director of the Canadian Auto Workers union. The petition is signed by thousands of auto workers, many of whom right now are engaged in a heroic struggle to protect their jobs in this province and across North America. I want to say that we stand behind those workers in their fight there, as we do here for health and safety in the province of Ontario. The petition reads as follows:

"To Premier Harris:

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

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

On behalf of our caucus, I affix my name to this petition also.


Mr Joseph Spina (Brampton North): I have a petition to end the spring bear hunt. A few of these petitioners are from my riding; most of them are not. However, out of respect for my constituents I'd be pleased to present this petition. It is a reiteration of the petition of the member for Fort York. I'll just read the last statement.

"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."

I present this to the Legislature.


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 from nurses in the community of London which is, as you may know, a regional health centre. The petition to the Legislative Assembly reads as follows:

"Whereas members of this community are writing to you in hopes of gaining your support with regard to the proposed wage rollbacks of nursing staff; and

"Whereas as concerned health care professionals we have been affected by many changes throughout the past several years. With layoffs, wage freezes and increasing responsibility, there has been a direct impact on both patient care and nursing as a profession; and

"Whereas the new proposal by the Ontario Hospital Association of a 20.3% wage rollback has brought forth many concerns, frustrations and disappointments. With the three-to four-year wage freeze from the social contract nurses have, in essence, already taken a rollback due to increased tax and a higher cost of living. We understand that everyone has to take part in the solution and nurses have accepted this. In fact, we have adapted and worked together towards a better health care system. A 20.3% wage cut is not the way to continue this process; and

"Whereas we, the undersigned registered nurses have been targeted here. We are the people that the public see on their travels through the health care system. We work weekends, holidays and nights. We care for the public on a daily basis. We are the largest population of staff providing care for the public. A cut such as this devalues the service we provide. Nursing is a female-dominated profession and as such is an easy target for the cutbacks and wage rollbacks;

"This profession is asking for your help and support."

This is signed by many hundreds of nurses in the London area, and I'm proud to affix my signature.


Mr Tony Ruprecht (Parkdale): I keep getting petitions on the $2 user fee against seniors and disabled persons. This one reads:

"To the Legislative Assembly of Ontario:

"Whereas the Ministry of Health has started to charge seniors a $2 user fee for each prescription filled since July 1996; and

"Whereas seniors on a fixed income do not significantly benefit from the income tax savings created by this user fee copayment or from other non-health user fees; and

"Whereas the perceived savings to health care from the $2 copayment fee will not compensate for the suffering and misery caused by this user fee or the painstaking task involved to fill out the application forms; and

"Whereas the current Ontario Minister of Health, Jim Wilson, promised as an opposition MPP in a July 5, 1993, letter to Ontario pharmacists that his party would not endorse legislation that will punish patients to the detriment of health care in Ontario;


"Therefore, we, the undersigned Ontario residents, strongly urge the government to repeal this user fee plan, because the tax-saving user fee concept is not fair, is not sensitive, nor is it accessible to low-income or fixed-income seniors; and lest we forget, our province's seniors have paid their dues by collectively contributing to the social, economic, moral and political fabric of Canada."

I'm affixing my signature to this document.


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

This is signed by over 200 people involved in co-op housing in the London area, and I'm proud to affix my signature.


Mr Rick Bartolucci (Sudbury): My office continues to get many petitions which state:

"To the Honourable Solicitor General and Legislative Assembly of Ontario:

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

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

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

I affix my signature as I am in agreement.


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

"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 and 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 tax, 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 Harris and Finance Minister 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 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 as I'm in agreement with this petition.


Mrs Marion Boyd (London Centre): "To the Legislative Assembly of Ontario:

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

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

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

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

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

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

This is signed by people from all three ridings in the city of London, and I'm proud to affix my signature.


Mr Tony Ruprecht (Parkdale): I keep getting petitions against the Dellcrest organization. This is addressed to the Legislative Assembly of Ontario.

"Whereas the Dellcrest Children's Centre is planning to open a 10-bed open custody residence for troubled kids at 182 Dowling Avenue in south Parkdale; and

"Whereas the residence is an inappropriate site for the rehabilitation of troubled kids because it is within walking distance to illicit drug and prostitution activities; a large number of unsupervised and supervised rooming-houses that are home to ex-psychiatric patients, parolees and our society's most vulnerable and ostracized members; and a number of licensed establishments that have been charged with various liquor infractions; and

"Whereas the Ministry of Correctional Services and the Dellcrest Children's Centre have decided not to hold open discussions with our community prior to the purchase of this house for the purpose of an open custody residence; and

"Whereas the decision to relocate also expresses a total lack of regard towards our community's consistent and well-documented wishes for the Ontario government to stop the creation or relocation of additional social service programs in an area that is already oversaturated with health and social services for disadvantaged, troubled or disfranchised people,

"We therefore, the undersigned local residents and business owners, urge the Ministry of the Solicitor General and Correctional Services to suspend plans to relocate the open custody residence for troubled kids until a full review of the Dellcrest Children's Centre's decision can be conducted, and explore with us alternative locations which are more appropriate."

I will sign my name to this petition.



Mr Wettlaufer moved first reading of the following bill:

Bill Pr72, An Act respecting the University of St Jerome's College.

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



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.

Mr Sean G. Conway (Renfrew North): I adjourned the debate last evening and I'd like to take the opportunity this afternoon to make some remarks with respect to Bill 79 currently before the House with a wonderfully felicitous title, An Act to improve Ontario's court system.

Hon Noble Villeneuve (Minister of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs, minister responsible for francophone affairs): Music to my ears.

Mr Conway: I'm glad the Minister of Agriculture says it is music to his ears because I think all honourable members would hope and pray that in fact it is that. I want to say in the presence of the Attorney General that there are many aspects of the bill as presented that are highly commendable and certainly let it be clear I'm standing in support of Bill 79.

I support it if for no other reason than that critical section of the bill which deals with judicial nomenclature. I can't imagine that Charles Harnick will in the course of his term as minister of justice do anything that will make him a happier Attorney General, as far as the judges of Ontario are concerned, as that part of Bill 79 which now allows that every judge in the province, whether it is the lowly former magistrate or the highest of Ontario's superior court judges, can all be styled Madam or Mr Justice. I want to commend Charles Harnick for that. I'm sure that on behalf of the scores of judges, from the provincial court bench to the highest court in the land, there is no little bit of joy that he has managed to do this.


I can well remember 10 years ago, when that nefarious Ian Scott in his court reform arranged things in so unhappy a way as to leave a battery of former High Court judges rather unclear and very much unsatisfied in the styling of themselves and their judicial roles. So I say again on behalf of those men and women of the judiciary, who clearly can't be here, that I'm sure they would want me to say on their behalf that no greater effort has the Attorney General expended than by providing in this legislation that nomenclature which now allows all judges in Ontario, high, medium or low, as we used to say, to be styled Madam or Mr Justice.

I say that somewhat facetiously because I have a great regard for judges, and we are very well served by our judges, but there are times when, in social dialogue with retired judges, I find it quite extraordinary the extent to which some seem to be interested in what the good people of Moose Creek and Willowdale might consider a mere trifle. But let me say finally, and again, that Charles Harnick has certainly put that subject to rest, and we have in Bill 79 a very important piece of amendment which makes it possible now for everyone to be styled Madam or Mr Justice.

There is also intended in Bill 79 a change that allows for the public trustee to do certain things without the rather elaborate process of court reference that has been in place for some time. I have to take the word of my colleagues who are more familiar with the legal and judicial intricacies than I that this is a good thing. I certainly hope it's a good thing.

Let me use this opportunity this afternoon to say to my friend the Attorney General that I continue to hear from too many of my constituents, whom I believe to be fair and serious in their criticism, that we still have a lot of work to do in cleaning up the office of the public trustee. Too many good people with too many very serious family concerns and problems find themselves in an endless and costly and enormously frustrating tangle with the office of the public trustee.

I know in my own family we've had some of that experience. When I think of what one of my family members, who was faced with an enormous personal tragedy, has had to endure over eight or 10 years, I've got to tell you that is not something I would want to visit on anyone else, and it's not something of which I'm very proud, given the fact that I, as one of the members of the assembly, have some responsibility for providing better answers, quite frankly, than I've been able to provide, not just to my aunt but to other people who have complained over the last number of years.

So I would encourage the Attorney General to be as vigilant and as vigorous as he can, and I know it's certainly his intention to do that, to clean up some of those problems that have bedevilled the office of the public trustee over the last number of years. I'm not really now talking about major policy issues; it's just routine administration. It seems to be --

Hon Charles Harnick (Attorney General, minister responsible for native affairs): The attitude.

Mr Conway: The Attorney General says it's the attitude, and perhaps it is. I myself haven't had a great deal of experience, but as I say, I am very concerned about the experiences that some very good constituents, including some of my close relatives, have had with an office of government that simply does not appear to be as efficient as we would expect.

We have as well in Bill 79 the creation of a new office, case management master. I'm told by my friends in the Liberal Party --

Mr Gilles Bisson (Cochrane South): You have friends in the Liberal Party?

Mr Conway: I have friends in the Liberal Party, I say to Mr Bisson. I sound like Neville Chamberlain when I say that, and he found out where his friends really were.

The court management question is obviously an important one. I support this philosophically and conceptually. I only hope that as an administrative mechanism it works, because let me say, in a rather bipartisan fashion, that with some of what other architects of court reform have promised -- these were not people associated with the current party in government -- there has been much less, I would say decidedly less, performance than there has been promise. Out in the county towns of eastern Ontario, where his seatmates the top cop and the Minister of Agriculture and I live, I hear, and I suspect they hear, that things aren't as efficient or as effective as some of the advertisements that were offered eight, 10 and 15 years ago.

I'm hopeful that the new attorney, with a fresh perspective, is going to learn from that experience and -- not guarantee; there are no guarantees in this business and in life generally. I expect that we are going to have some positive results from these new masters to be appointed to Ottawa, Windsor and Toronto.

Let me be a little confessional about case management and court affairs. Here I tread very personally, because I went to court this summer. I'm not a lawyer. I've probably been to court on very few occasions previously, mostly on ceremonial occasions to see some friends installed as judges. I went to court this summer as a private citizen. It was a matter relating to the Highway Traffic Act and I won. That's not the point. It was the provincial court in Cobourg, Ontario. I think my reaction was probably the reaction of a lot of people who are not normally in court, and I suspect that's a lot of people.

Hon Mr Villeneuve: I hope so.

Mr Conway: The Minister of Agriculture says, "I hope so"; I do too. I was astonished at what I experienced on that beautiful July day in that marvellous Ontario town and that gorgeous old Victoria Hall in Cobourg. Somebody the other day asked, "What was it like?" I said: "Do you know what it was like? It was like a combination of a Moroccan bazaar and the old Toronto bus terminal on a busy Friday afternoon of a long weekend." That's what it was like. It was an astonishing place, a very important public place. Members of the assembly who are lawyers probably say, "He's just stating the obvious." It wasn't obvious to me. It was absolutely astonishing. I'm not kidding, a Moroccan bazaar, the old bus terminal; people coming and going and everyone looking for everyone else.

Let me say -- I hope I'm not breaching some edict of the conflict of interest act, and I mean this as no comment on my own rather favourable result -- that I couldn't believe how patient the provincial court judge was that day in the midst of what seemed often near chaos. There were scores of people, regular folks. This would be their experience with the courts of the land. There were lawyers coming and going, police officers and court officers coming and going -- "Are you Morin?" "No," "Are you Harnick?" "Maybe," "Are you Conway?" "Yes" -- trying to figure out who was on first and what was on second, and the poor judge and the court clerk trying to make something of this. Remarkably, miraculously, they did, to the great credit of that court official and the judge and, to be fair, certain of the lawyers present. But incroyable, it was absolutely astonishing. I cannot imagine that in 1996 this was a routine day, and I checked. I asked. I said, "This must be remarkable." "No, no, it's even better on certain of these other days."


Mr James J. Bradley (St Catharines): Was this Judge Guzzo?

Mr Conway: It had nothing to do with our illustrious colleague the member for Ottawa-Rideau.

I say this very seriously because we are asked, and I'm proud to come here today and support Bill 79 because it suggests that we are going to make this system more efficient. We had bloody well better make it more efficient and we all have a responsibility. Again I wish I were more knowledgeable about the legal trade because like my friend from Moose Creek I think I spied a few lawyers who were perhaps more interested in running the clock than cleaning the docket -- only a suspicion, I say.

One of the feelings, one of the impressions I had to a lot of this was that there is a third party to all of this, namely, the taxpayer. We're paying a lot of the freight, we're paying for the buildings, mostly provincially but with some municipal support, I'm sure, as well. As one now rather senior member of this Legislature I was astonished and concerned by the chaos of that day, so I say to the Attorney General, you will have my support for Bill 79 and any other measures that can be shown to deal with that problem. As a matter of fact, over the course of the next few weeks I am going to make it my business to visit a couple of courts here in Toronto and perhaps some place else in the province, probably my own town, although my constituents will think the fateful day has finally arrived.


Mr Conway: Yes, exactly. I'm not kidding when I say this. It is one of those things. It's like middle-aged men who have all these opinions about the health care system, and when you ask them, "When was your last personal encounter with the system?" they'll tell you, "Twenty-seven years ago, when I cracked a rib playing hockey in Brockville." Of course they're full of advice as to what's wrong with the system, but when you ask them, "When did you last sit at an emergency department in a hospital?" -- "Oh, my wife did or my sister did, but no, I haven't been there." I'll tell you that being there, experiencing the reality is a very real education, and it was for me on that occasion.

There is good news. In the Ottawa area, and I might be treading very indelicately here, I heard from sources that under the very capable leadership of the senior judge, James Chadwick, there has been very considerable progress made in cleaning up one of the worst dockets in the country.

Hon Mr Harnick: Big time.

Mr Conway: And the attorney agrees. He said, "Big time."

Let me stand in my place and congratulate Mr Justice Chadwick and all the judges and court officials and administrators who have done that. Some day I might like to go to a legislative hearing to have somebody explain to me what made that work. I have some sources but they may not be entirely unbiased.

Mrs Marion Boyd (London Centre): Should we tell him?

Mr Conway: The former Attorney General, the member for London Centre, said, "Should we tell him?" Yes, Marion, and you'll have two minutes when I sit down. I'm very interested. All I know is that for many years in the 1970s and 1980s I used to hear and I used to read in the national capital press about the mess in the Ottawa courts, that the dockets were endless, the delays --

Mr Bradley: Were there any barbers appointed?

Mr Conway: Listen, I'm not here to engage in that kind of politics, Mr Bradley. I will leave that for another day.

I'm serious, because it was a mess and it's much better now. Apparently some people under the leadership of Mr Justice Chadwick made real progress. How do we do that elsewhere? I'd be very interested because as a Legislature we've got to encourage and support that. I repeat that most of the judges I have known are people of outstanding ability and very real commitment, but I'll tell you I hear from certain public servants that over the years and decades the independence of the judiciary has sometimes led to some not very good attitudes around administrative efficiencies. I don't expect sainthood from anybody on the bench, but we all have a responsibility to make sure that the system is efficient and that there is good public access.

Let me say in this respect that Bill 79 gives me an opportunity to flag some concerns that became public a few months ago when three of the country's most outstanding jurists -- Charles Dubin, Roy McMurtry and Sidney Linden -- wrote a letter to the Attorney General of Ontario raising very serious concerns, if not alarms, about what government cuts were going to do, as they saw it, to the administration of justice, and quoting Mr McMurtry, a former Attorney General and now the Chief Justice of the Ontario Court (General Division) --

Hon Mr Harnick: Court of Appeal.

Mr Conway: Sorry, he's been promoted since: Chief Justice of the Court of Appeal. Quoting Justice McMurtry from that --

Mrs Boyd: Court of Appeal of Ontario.

Mr Conway: Of Ontario; thank you, Marion. It's very important to get these titles clear. McMurtry back in the late winter of this year said, "The government of Ontario is actively pursuing policy options that will seriously limit access to the publicly funded court system.

"The central irony," he went on to say, "is that we are gathered here at this conference this weekend to talk about improving our civil court system at a time when ill-considered and unrealistic budget cuts threaten the ability of our civil justice system to survive, let alone improve its service to the public. Society simply cannot function," Justice McMurtry went on, "without a system that allows people to have their disputes resolved and determined in an orderly and effective fashion. The alternative is civil chaos and perhaps even violence."

That's not just anybody. That's a Chief Justice and a former Attorney General of Ontario.

I don't expect the current Attorney General to engage this debate fully for a variety of reasons that we can all imagine, but I simply do on second reading of Bill 79 want to recall those admonitions, those concerns, some genuine alarm from people who are not accustomed to entering the public debate. In fact, I can't remember in recent times when not one but three chief justices sallied forth into the public domain and said, "There is a problem." Chief Justice Antonio Lamer has been doing something of the same, if in a rather different context, federally.

Legislators, who have a responsibility to Parliament and the province beyond, I think have an obligation to draw to the Attorney General's attention these kinds of concerns and to ensure that no bean counter loose in the department of justice or worse still in government services is in fact pursuing an agenda --

Mr Ted Chudleigh (Halton North): White beans.

Mr Conway: White beans. I say seriously that these concerns are going to have to be dealt with and I expect that in fact they are.

Just a couple of other miscellaneous items. Speaking about spending money -- and I know times are tough. I see where there was an order paper question put down by one of my colleagues a few months ago and it had to do with court improvements to the magnificent old courthouse in Lanark county at Perth. The answer comes back from Dave Johnson and it just absolutely stupefies people I know in eastern Ontario. You're going to spend 1.3 million bucks over a three-year period on the Lanark county courthouse. Well, my friends say yes, certain things need to be done, but 1.3 million bucks?

That tells them two things: that times are not nearly as tough as Ernie Eves would have you believe, and more importantly, that there are some bureaucrats loose in the department of the Attorney General and elsewhere in government who are still determined to prove that by that most important measure in government bureaucracies, namely, the amount and depth of broadloom in and around your office, they're still in charge.

That's $1.3 million dollars being spent on a building I don't know particularly well. I've been in. It's a beautiful building. But people who are in it all the time tell me: "How is it possible? In what public interest? Yes, some renovations, some repairs, but $1.3 million?"


No. Let me be frank with you; let me be very frank. These people say to me, "You know, Conway, this is exactly what you get with some of the court reform that you and your friend Scott were all about 10 years ago." I raise this concern quite frankly in a way almost as self-criticism. This really galls me because there's probably more to the story than I've been told, but I've got to tell you, all politics is local, and when I go to Lanark county, ably represented by my friend Leo Jordan, people I know, Liberals, Tories and independents, say, "What on earth is going on at that courthouse?" In fact, the reason the question --

Mr Bruce Crozier (Essex South): Leo probably doesn't know.

Mr Conway: I can't speak for the member from Lanark, but what's our message? "Times are tough. We've got to deal with the deficit. We've got to maintain services." I think we all know that.

It's just like the Office of the Assembly. Well, I won't get into that debate, but I'm very worried that when we create these kinds of regionalized administrative mechanisms -- the poor old Attorney General has got plenty to worry about, but I know from my time in politics and my life experience, short as it is, that the more regionalized you make these functions, the more likely the bureaucracy is going to be centralized and harder to manage. I hope that when we create the new court masters, we in fact get the efficiency without the kind of turf that I think is probably part of the concern with the Lanark county courthouse renovation.

I could name others. I can name others not in this particular period of time. You know, I talk about turf, and I guess this is perhaps straying a bit. I'm not going to spend too much time because there will be another time when I can talk about some of this.

I spent some of my late summer reading Archie Campbell's incredible report about the Bernardo case. Bill 79 is not the place to debate that at any great length, but I'm going to tell you one thing. My blood pressure is still twice what it should be when I think about the kinds of turf wars that Mr Justice Campbell unearthed. It is a scandal of the most outrageous kind when people in police forces -- and I raise this subject in the context of turf wars. One could not imagine, surely, a greater public interest that ought to draw everyone together in common cause to the one end result, namely, getting that criminal or group of criminals that did those horrible things to those innocent young people. What we have in 450 pages of Mr Justice Campbell's report is, I submit, one of the most detailed and disturbing accounts of a turf war that almost joyfully -- let me rephrase -- that almost mindlessly set out to subvert the common good, the public interest. It reads like some kind of fiction, some kind of novel, and we'll talk about that another time.

I don't blame anybody here for that, but we set general policy, we fund organizations. All of us expect, whether it's courts administration or policing or the criminal justice system, that reasonable men and women, particularly when they're faced with an outrage such as we saw in the Bernardo case, are going to drop everything, including all of or most of the barriers, and marshal their efforts in common cause to the end that we all desire.

I simply raise this in the context of Bill 79 because it has been my experience that within the administration of justice there is turf, as you would expect to find it. My opening remarks about nomenclature are perhaps the most innocent and delightful example of that. I know because I've made the odd mistake and was quickly reprimanded for getting the titles wrong. As we move forward in different circumstances, I think we all have a desire to see that these barriers and these turf wars are dealt with and lessened and improved in all reasonable ways.

I want to make a final comment about something again involving judges, because this bill deals with judges. I don't know how many people have read this book, but those of you with an interest in justice affairs ought to read this book because you've paid, through I'm sure some public subvention, for part of this. We have something in this province now called the Osgoode Society. Mr Justice McMurtry is very actively involved, and they've done some fabulous work in terms of highlighting the administration of justice in celebrated cases and such like.

This is a book published this summer by the Osgoode Society by William Kaplan called Bad Judgement: The Case of Mr Justice Leo A. Landreville. Some of you who are a bit older than I will remember the case specifically. I don't want to get into that, but what is astonishing about Mr Kaplan's analysis is that -- and remember, Landreville was the former mayor of Sudbury who accepted some shares from Northern Ontario Natural Gas. There was all kinds of controversy around conflict of interest. Those questions did not arise until after Landreville had left the mayor's chair in Sudbury and had gone on to the Ontario Supreme Court. He was then the subject of concerted pressure to get him off the bench, and in the end he was removed.

It was a case with some of the qualities of the Bienvenue case that we've just seen in Quebec. In both the Landreville case and, just last month, the Bienvenue case, Parliament was pushed to the very brink of having to exercise its prerogative to remove a superior court judge. Landreville backed down at the very last minute, as did Bienvenue.

What is interesting, and the reason I raise this story, is what Mr Kaplan, a noted author, tells us about the mindset of the people at the law society, who did their own investigation into the Landreville case, and then the royal commission appointed by the federal Minister of Justice, Mr Cardin, headed by probably the most distinguished jurist of the time, Ivan Rand.

Very briefly, what the Kaplan book tells us is that the law society and the Rand royal commission basically hung Leo Landreville out to dry, not primarily for what he did -- and in my view he was guilty politically of a serious miscalculation and misconduct. It was bad judgement, without a doubt. But that wasn't the bad judgement and the misconduct for which Leo Landreville was charged and convicted by, in particular, Mr Justice Rand. They just didn't like him. They just didn't like this pushy Frenchman with this flashy apparel and this, dare I say it, Jayne Mansfield kind of wife and the Mexican -- I mean, it's a very interesting story. For neophytes of the judicial system like myself to read a story like this is to be reminded that we need an important and independent judiciary. But I'll tell you, they are not always acting, particularly in cases like the Landreville case, with quite the motivation that we might have expected.

Let me just say to the Attorney General, good book. I hope that if you haven't read it, you do.

The Deputy Speaker (Mr Bert Johnson): Questions and comments?

Mrs Boyd: The member from Renfrew, as always, has delivered an elegant and rather charming speech on this bill. He should know that there's a simple answer to what happened in the Ottawa courthouse to change the issue of backlogs, and the word is "teamwork." The word is the judiciary working together with courts administration people, working together with the public members and the members of the bar in the courts administration committee there, looking at what was going wrong, what needed to be done to smooth out the situation and make cases move a bit more quickly. It sounds very easy when you say it quickly, but in fact it took a great deal of work.


The member was quite right to mention the name of Mr Justice Chadwick, who took on that task, understood that the task was a difficult one and managed to work with the rest of the team -- and it's quite a complex team. The purpose of many of the changes in this bill is to create that kind of teamwork and that kind of case management that is going to make that system work more smoothly in many other places.

With respect to the very latest comments of the member from Renfrew, when he talks about a disciplinary action and efforts to ensure that justices act appropriately, that is a very important aspect of the disciplinary process that's in the Courts of Justice Act, which is being amended by Bill 79. Part of my concern is that we would like to see a similar process set up for the case management masters being proposed in the act, to ensure that there's public scrutiny of that kind of disciplinary action.

Hon Mr Harnick: I want to say to my friend the member for Renfrew North that I appreciate his support on this bill. I also appreciate some of his very astute observations. First off, I appreciate his recognition of the job that's been done in eastern Ontario by Mr Justice Chadwick, where between cooperation from the bench and bar and thousands of hours put in by lawyers who have helped pre-try cases for no remuneration, the backlog of cases has disappeared in Ottawa. Under the direction of Mr Justice Chadwick, we've now gone to 100% case management in Ottawa. We are determined to do the very same thing in Metropolitan Toronto. We will very shortly be going to 25% case management. Thereafter, I hope by the end of next year, we're going to be at 50% case management.

These are very important things, because what we're doing is giving to judges the opportunity and the role to control the pace at which cases move. It will no longer be based on the way lawyers want cases to move. The time limits will be set by the judges. We hope that as a result of that we will be able to move cases through the system in a way that will promote greater access and less cost to those who need the system, and that is the public.

Just to touch on a couple of other aspects of the member's comments, he very astutely noticed how busy the courts were. I can tell him that we have 1.2 million charges going through courts every year in this province. It's astounding. It's a huge number. As well, he notices the change to the name of judges, being referred to as justices, something that Ian Scott had put in a bill. It wasn't proclaimed. I don't know why. I'm pleased to be able to do that.

In terms of the office of the public trustee, he's right: We do have to do more to make that a more public and user-friendly office.

Mr Crozier: I want to respond to a few of the comments from my colleague the member for Renfrew North. He can always take a bill, in my estimation, and get into the real meat of the bill and into some of those areas where those of us who read the bill or summaries of that bill don't always find those little niches we should be speaking of.

When he talked about his visit to the court, I was particularly interested. I would say to him, just so I don't forget, that if he's going to visit a court in the Toronto area, I would appreciate it if I might be able to go along with him.

The only time I've ever been in a court, and I've had many people come to me about the same situation, is when I was selected for court duty. How wasteful that seems to be. I'm speaking from a layman's point of view, because I don't know all the administration that goes on behind the scenes. I can recall, for example, being told that I should be in court the next day for selection for jury duty, and I got a call at 11:30 at night to say that I didn't have to be there. On the other hand, during that week or two I was on call, I would expect not to have to go and then, lo and behold, I'd get a call to come in the next morning at 8 or 9 o'clock.

I hope that through this bill and further improvements to the justice system as it works in the province of Ontario, those areas where the possible jurors are brought into the system can become more efficient and certainly not waste a lot of time and effort and money of the court and of the private citizens who may be on those lists.

The Deputy Speaker: Does the member for Renfrew North want to respond?

Mr Conway: I want to thank my colleagues for their kind remarks. I would say to the member for London Centre that I appreciate her candid commentary on what made Ottawa work. I guess my only question then is, what do we have to do in Metro, Hamilton, Windsor and anywhere else to create the same kind of chemistry and synergy to get the same result? I'm entirely pleased to hear that it's as good as it is in Ottawa, because it was as bad as it could get, apparently. That's good practice. What do we have to do to replicate that, particularly across the larger urban centres in the province? To the extent that people aren't playing along with that objective, how do we responsibly bring some pressure to bear, recognizing that there is some obvious independence we have to respect?

By the way, I want to correct an impression that maybe I left in referring to the Landreville case, that if you appoint a judge to a royal commission you might end up with something much less than you expect. Again, I don't expect saintly behaviour, but I must say the Kaplan book I found astonishing. For me, Ivan Rand is a saint, and to read the account of what not just Rand but the rest of the legal and judicial establishment did to Landreville, who had made some serious mistakes, in my view, for which punishment was due, none the less gave me some very real concern, given the fact that we as parliaments and legislatures are creating more and more of these commissions of inquiry headed by judges.

In the last few seconds, I want to say that the member for Downsview, Ms Castrilli, asked me to simply read into the record some material from the crown attorneys' association, because some very incomplete information was left yesterday by the member for Wentworth North. According to our information, 461 crown attorneys earn annual salaries in Ontario of between $48,000 and $126,000, but only two individuals are in that highest category. The average is down around $60,000 to $70,000. Very wrong impressions were left yesterday that crown attorneys were now being paid, on average, about $100,000. Our information is that only two crowns earn $100,000 and most, overwhelmingly, earn about $65,000 to $70,000.

The Deputy Speaker: I have a short announcement. Pursuant to standing order 34(a), the member for Windsor-Sandwich has given notice of her dissatisfaction with the answer to her question given by the Minister of Health concerning obstetricians. This matter will be debated today at 6 pm.

Further debate?

Mr David Christopherson (Hamilton Centre): I appreciate this opportunity to comment on Bill 79. As I'm sure most members and many of those watching have come to realize, much of this bill deals with aspects of the court system that do not show themselves to the public face on a day-to-day basis, unless of course you're a lawyer or involved in the court system directly. In reading the Hansard of yesterday, I see that my colleague the former Attorney General, Marion Boyd, the member for London Centre, dealt very adequately and very thoroughly with many of the technical aspects, given her expertise and experience in this regard.

I want to comment on some of the aspects of this bill, but in particular I want to speak to many of the issues that this government has addressed that pertain directly to Bill 79 in terms of the overall court system and justice system that we have evolving in Ontario under the Mike Harris Tory government.


First of all, I want to say that we will indeed be voting in favour, at the end of second reading, for Bill 79. We are not entirely pleased with some aspects and we will be offering up amendments in committee, but in large part much of what is in Bill 79 is the result of work that was started under the jurisdiction of Premier Rae and Attorney General Boyd. Given that this government hasn't strayed too far from that, it's not unusual that we indeed would be supporting this.

Speaker, as you know, we've attempted to bring as much constructive contribution to this House as possible. That may not always seem the case. The reality is that it's just not always that possible, given this government's agenda and the harm and damage that it's inflicting on families and communities in Ontario. But Bill 79 is an opportunity for us to support a piece of legislation that will offer up some improvement.

I want to say at the outset of my remarks that we came very close in my community of Hamilton, in the heart of my riding of Hamilton Centre, to seeing a major disaster in terms of the courthouse in Hamilton. I'm sure the Speaker and members of the House will know that under the Liberals certainly in Hamilton there was an idea brought forward, headed up by a respected local lawyer named Dermot Nolan, that the old post office in Hamilton at the corner of John and Main that had been vacated by the federal government be looked at as the home of a new consolidated courthouse.

To their credit, the government of the day, the Peterson Liberals, agreed, after much work in our community, that this was a good idea. When we came to power it hadn't gotten much further than the idea that it would happen, this was a good idea, and some approvals were in place. But the real green light and money flowing hadn't happened. I'm very proud and pleased that over $60 million was committed by our government to complete the conversion of that post office into a new consolidated courthouse that created jobs as well as improving the court system. It's also a health and safety issue, because one of the driving factors was lawyers and police officials and court officers who said that if something wasn't done with the existing facility, they were going to have to take very dramatic action. I think that would have led to the ceasing of any kind of activity in those courthouses. So this was a good thing.

Unfortunately, there was a time during this government's initial days when it was slashing and hacking away at funding in downtown Hamilton. They had announced the slashing of funding for the Lister Block, which was an important renewal project in downtown Hamilton. The four local Tory members did not fight to protect that investment; they let that money go. That building now sits there vacant with graffiti on the side of it. A tremendously important opportunity was lost. At the same time as the courthouse was on the chopping block, we also saw millions of dollars of investment in my community in non-profit housing and the jobs and the economic benefits that my community would have received chopped and gone.

This courthouse was on that chopping block. It was only through the concerted effort of everyone in our community, particularly the leadership of Mayor Bob Morrow and regional Chairman Terry Cooke, working with me and others to ensure that the pressure stayed on this government, that this money was not denied to my community, as tens of millions of other dollars of committed investment by our government had been taken away from my community and those jobs ripped away from my community.

For anyone who thinks I'm being a bit of an alarmist, go talk to the people in Brampton, because they weren't quite as fortunate, as I understand it. We were going to do the work there, and that work and that project, as I understand it, has been indefinitely suspended by this government. So Hamiltonians had every reason to be fearful we were going to lose that courthouse.

I also want to draw attention to a commitment this government made with regard to justice and law enforcement. In the Common Sense Revolution, they said, and I quote: "The people of Ontario are rightly concerned about community safety in our province, particularly the increasing incidence of violent crime. That is why funding for law enforcement and justice will be guaranteed." I'm repeating this for emphasis: "That is why funding for law enforcement and justice will be guaranteed."

Yet what do the experts in the field say? Well, here's what the police had to say. David Griffin of the Police Association of Ontario, in a news release of January 18 of this year, said, "The Progressive Conservative government is abandoning its law-and-order promises." That's from David Griffin of the Police Association of Ontario -- not a group, quite frankly, that was opposed to the election of this government, because they believed them when they made that commitment and that guarantee about funding for law enforcement. They're saying, "The Progressive Conservative government is abandoning its law-and-order promises."

What else? Well, John Moor, president of the Police Association of Ontario, said that Premier Harris "has betrayed the police." That was in the Toronto Star, January 10 of this year, that the Harris government "has betrayed the police."

On the court system side, we know that Chief Justice McMurtry, at a Canadian Bar Association conference in February 1996, said, "The government of Ontario is actively pursuing policy options that will seriously limit access to the publicly funded court system." Mr Speaker, you know as well as I do that access to a fair justice system is as important as the structure of that justice system is in and of itself. That's Chief Justice McMurtry raising that concern. In fact, the month before, Chief Justice Roy McMurtry, who was then the Chief Justice of the Ontario Court (General Division), wrote a letter with two other top judges urging Attorney General Charles Harnick to place a moratorium on cutbacks until the impact could be fully understood.

Exactly what is it they're speaking of? First of all, in the case of the police, they immediately felt the impact of the cuts to municipalities and regions through the transfer payments -- a 48% cut in transfer payments. The police association felt the impact of that, because it's the local police services boards, through the taxation powers of the regional municipal governments, that were having their police budgets cut. It's not a wonder the police were asking what happened to their guarantee, what happened to the guarantee in the Common Sense Revolution that funding would be there for police and law enforcement.

They further felt betrayed under the omnibus Bill 26. I was there when they made their presentation in Hamilton. The room was full, packed with police officers who were outraged at the betrayal of this government by the measures contained in Bill 26 in terms of what was being taken away from them, and with no consultation even. On a related matter, the firefighters felt the same way. That's the record of this government as it relates to the funding of police services in this province, and this government's commitment to support police when they took away rights that police associations and the officers they represent had in Bill 26.


What about the court system? What happened to the guarantee in the Common Sense Revolution in terms of funding for the court system? Well, we've already seen approximately $116 million in cuts to the Attorney General's ministry operating budget.

Is it any wonder that the Chief Justice spoke out? I don't need to tell members of this House that chief justices do not speak out on public matters unless they feel they have absolutely no alternative because that's not the way they operate. Yet they have a responsibility to the public and to the justice system and they feel that responsibility. This is an honourable Chief Justice, a former minister of the crown, who felt that he had no option but to stand up and speak out and defend the court system that he was charged with managing, an incredible thing for a Chief Justice to do. And yet in the face of this government breaking its promises, cutting funding to law enforcement, to the court system, what choice did they have? They would be shirking their responsibilities to the people of Ontario if they didn't speak out.

The police association had every right and responsibility to speak out when they felt betrayed by this government, which is exactly the way they felt, and for good reason. They were betrayed.

That $116 million has shown itself in delays in the issuing and entering of judgements and court orders. There are concerns around courtroom security. They've laid off file clerks; that has created more delays. The current Attorney General said in his response to the previous speaker that I believe 1.2 million charges every year are processed through the court system.

The Attorney General has spoken out many times about the need to find ways to take issues out of the court system that don't jeopardize public safety and community safety but to try and make the system work better because of the backlogs and the delays. Fine, fine words, but the actions of this government say a very different story.

There are a number of things that this government is doing that are loading even more into the court system. In addition to the cuts and the betrayal to the police, this government has cut the ability of the poorest people in Ontario to have access to significant parts of the justice system by hacking away at the legal aid system. They are cutting in the education system. They're cutting in the health care system. They're cutting in social services. They took away 22% of the income of the poorest of the poor.

It doesn't take a sociologist to understand that those kinds of attacks on the structure and foundation of what makes Ontario the great place that it is to live is going to lead to problems in our communities. There's a generation out there that is facing a bleak future and this government is doing nothing to help them. In fact, everything they're doing is going to harm the ability of our young people to be positive contributors to our society. So we know, the studies are there, that a lot of those young people unfortunately are going to find themselves in the court system and they will progress as young offenders to becoming adult offenders.

Let me say parenthetically that the changes that the Solicitor General and Minister of Correctional Services has made by cutting out halfway houses, slashing of programs -- the whole approach of this government to youth crime is not going to help the problem. It'll sound good on a bumper sticker, but people who know and are experts in the field will tell you that it's going to do a lot of damage. All of this is going to funnel and find its way into the court system and it's going to require the police to be doing more and more in our communities.

They're also passing legislation that's taking away rights of workers and telling those workers, "You no longer have your rights protected in law." I use as an example the changes to the Employment Standards Act. Employment standards officers will no longer be enforcing the right of a worker to get back money they're owed from a bad boss if it's over $10,000. The answer is, "Go to the court system."

The minister made the case that while these are mostly wealthy executives and that's how they get to be high numbers, we heard in the public hearings that's not the case. Many of them are people who are working for not much more than minimum wage, but it's the length of time they've been ripped off by bad bosses that generates the money to a tune of $10,000. This government's answer to those people isn't: "Yes, we're going to help you. Yes, we're going to be there to make sure that you get your money back when you're ripped off." No, their answer is, "Go to the court system."

This is at the same time that the Attorney General is saying that he wants to try to make the system more streamlined and take issues that shouldn't be there out of the system. They already had these cases that weren't in the system and this government's feeding into that court system issues that don't need to be there. They're going to do the same thing with a minimum amount of money in terms of a worker being ripped off. What's that limit going to be, Speaker? I'd like you to stand on your feet if you know and tell me as a member of that caucus, because we don't know. All we know is that the government's going to give itself the right to set that limit. If they set it at 200 bucks and you're only ripped off for 100 bucks -- and I'll tell you, 100 bucks is a lot of money for someone making minimum wage -- do you know what this government says? It used to say: "Yes, we'll go in there and fight and get that money back. We'll be there for you because you're the most vulnerable in this society." Their answer is, "Go to court."

Hon Mr Harnick: What are you talking about?

Mr Christopherson: The Attorney General scrunches up his face and asks, what am I talking about? I don't know where he sits at the cabinet table in relation to the Minister of Labour, but he ought to talk to her because that's exactly what she's doing. She is changing the law so that those people can only get the money back if they go to court. Who's going to go to court for $100 when it costs you $65 just to file the papers?

That's exactly what you're doing. That's exactly what your government is doing with this legislation. It's right there in the law. In fact, the only reason the people of Ontario know that's the case is because we forced this government to take that bill out across the province for four weeks, and under the glare of public scrutiny it became very clear that while they were taking away those workers' rights they were telling them their answer now is to be found going into the court system.

That is what the law will do if it's left in its current form. That's the hypocrisy of the notion that this government stands for law and order, stands for helping the police, stands for improving, and not just does it stand for these things, but more than anybody else. Nobody else cares about law enforcement and community safety like they do. Sure, because look at their promise. It's written down, must be true, except when you ask the Chief Justice what he thinks, except when you ask the police association what it thinks, especially when you ask the labour movement and the most vulnerable workers in this province what they think. They'll all tell you a very different story about this government's view of law enforcement.


It needs to be asked: Why are they breaking that promise? They're breaking that promise because the Attorney General, just like the Minister of Health and the Minister of Education and the Solicitor General and the Minister of Labour, has to find his quota, his share of the cost of giving the most wealthy in this province a 30% tax cut. That's why there was $116 million cut from the court system, not because I think this Attorney General particularly wanted to. I know the honourable member from the last Parliament and I think him to be an honourable individual. But I think he's breaking their promise and their commitment to the people of Ontario in terms of funding for courts and police and community safety, and he's doing it because he had to find his share of the $8 billion in cuts, the largest part of which is necessary to pay for that 30% tax cut.

More and more people are saying to themselves: "I keep hearing about this tax cut and I keep seeing hospitals closing in my community and I see what's happening in my education system. Everywhere I turn there are layoffs and cuts and privatization. Yet the benefit's supposed to be this tax cut. I saw a couple of bucks in my paycheque, but it's sure not worth what's happening, not when I look at all the things that are being taken away from me as an average working middle-class family, and when I take a look at what's happening to environmental protection, when I look at the whole agenda. All of that is not worth two, five, 10, 15 bucks a week, not when my brother and husband" -- or wife or son -- "just got laid off from a decent-paying job because there's a hospital closure or because there are people being laid off from the education system."

When they start looking at the price that's being paid for that tax cut, they're saying to themselves, "I'm not so sure I'm winning in this deal."

But I can assure you, for those people who can afford the best lawyers, for those people who can afford the best education, for those who can afford whatever it is this government takes away from the public sector, they're doing quite well with this tax cut, thank you very much, because they're getting $5,000, $7,000, $10,000 a year. That's decent coin; that's a substantial amount of money. Quite frankly, if everybody was getting that kind of money there wouldn't be the viewpoint there is. But there aren't that many people getting that much money, just your rich friends. Most working people are lucky to get a few bucks, and the poorest of the poor are getting none of it. In fact, the poorest of the poor are getting over 20% less to pay for that.

You are prepared to cut funding to the court system and to cut funding to police to pay for this tax cut. That's why you've got people like the Chief Justice speaking out and why you've got the police association speaking out.


Mr Christopherson: You can see we finally woke them up. We must have touched some nerves out there when they realized they can't leave that kind of explanation, that kind of insight, that kind of truth out there without challenging it with more of their simplistic Orwellian doubletalk.

That's why they all cranked up in the last few minutes. I'm glad I was able to wake them up. I think I've served a public good by doing at least that. Unfortunately, unlike the election for Speaker, there are not enough opportunities for those who know that what I'm saying is the reality. They can't do anything about it, so they follow lockstep behind the Premier and the cabinet, blindly walking down a road that, if it were just a political debate, I would find quite engaging and amusing. But the reality is that you're hurting people.

I'll wrap up my remarks saying again that because you're continuing the work that we started and Bill 79 is a bill that will help, we'll make some amendments in committee and we will continue to support this if you stay on the course where you're going to be doing good things and making real improvements. But we will not let you off the hook for the damage that you're doing to the rest of the justice system. It can't be separated. I hope that people like Chief Justice McMurtry and the police association are prepared to step forward when indeed you do break your promise on community safety and law and order, because that's what you have done. You've broken your promise and you've been called on it by people who expected you to keep that promise.

With that, I would only end my remarks by asking this government to truly start listening to the people who are being hurt by your measures. I look in the faces of the members across from me, and you can see that they just don't believe it. They're talking to people who haven't been hurt or they're talking to their rich friends who will never be hurt or they're not talking to anyone and they're like the Minister of Labour, who hides in her bunker and never comes out.

I'm not sure, but if you really took a chance and listened to the people you have hurt, then I think there are a lot of members of this government who might start to feel a little bit differently about this agenda and about the harm that it's doing to the average working middle-class families in this province, because that's still the majority and you still need them at the end of the day for any kind of re-election hope you may still think is there.

Thank you for the opportunity to speak.

The Deputy Speaker: Questions or comments?

Hon Mr Harnick: You know, over a period of time, some people just don't get it. They just don't get the fact that after you've been a minister of the crown in a government that ran up $100 billion worth of debt in this province, that ran the deficit -- at one point it was even reputed to be up to $18 billion; it settled back down on an annual basis at $12 billion. There was an attempt by the former government to spend its way out of a recession. You know what they did? What they did was they prevented any ability for people to find jobs. As a matter of fact, after five years of that member's party's government, on which he served, there was a negative number of jobs created, many thousands fewer jobs than there were before.

When I listen to the member talk about how important it is to look after the working-class people of this province, the best thing that a working person, any working person, has is a job. They did everything they could while they were the government to make sure that all of the investment left the province, the ability to create jobs left the province. The people they purport to represent in their attempt to create a class warfare in Ontario couldn't get jobs because of their economic policies. They forget the situation that they left this province in. That record will live in history as the darkest time in the history of this province, because working people had no security, they had no jobs, they had no hope, they had no opportunity. That's the position they left the government in when they left.

When I listen to this member talk about these things, it appals me. He forgets where he's been and he forgets where we now have to be going. We have to create jobs, hope and opportunity. We've so far created 150,000 jobs. That's where real security is.


Mr Bradley: I thought the member for Hamilton Centre made some good sense on many of the points that he made during his speech. The latest contribution by the Attorney General seems to be a bit off topic, but you've been very liberal in your interpretation of that, so I'll be perhaps looking at the periphery of this issue as well.

I'll get the Solicitor General of days gone by to comment on this. He will remember well that the members of the government, including the present Attorney General and the present Solicitor General, pointed fingers across the floor and mentioned that the government was being soft on crime because somehow it wasn't providing the resources -- the necessary police resources, the necessary prosecuting resources, the necessary resources for courts -- to be able to deal with matters in the justice system. I know it must gall him to be criticized today by a government which has made those significant cuts. There's a denial of that, but I think the Attorney General is probably receiving wrong information from those who are supplying the information to him because I know he wouldn't personally want to state facts to the House that would not be true. So I know it must be misinformation that's making its way to the front of his desk.

What we are seeing, as the member I think has appropriately pointed out, are significant cutbacks. You can't have it both ways. You can't say, "We're against crime. We're for law and order in this province," and then cut the number of police officers, for instance in Toronto, by hundreds upon hundreds of people, or cut the number of prosecutors that are there on a permanent basis, or cut the resources available to courts and still make that claim. I think the member appropriately pointed that out to members of this House.

Mrs Boyd: I certainly agree with my colleague from Hamilton Centre that there is a real reality in terms of the difference between the talk of this government prior to and since the election around law-and-order issues. We all received copies of the business plan of the Ministry of the Attorney General and we all have the detailed analysis of what that means in terms of personnel and in terms of administration of the courts and so on. The minister is unwise to suggest that there are not hundreds of people being laid off in the Ministry of the Attorney General; there are. Two hundred and ninety people have been laid off in the family support plan. There are many in the courts administration area who will be laid off. The ministry has fairly grandiose plans around privatizing many of its functions, which it says it can pay for out of the savings through the case management system it is putting in place under this bill.

I would just caution the Attorney General when he speaks to remember that it is a historical reality that many ministries tell ministers, "If we do this particular form of streamlining, we will save these numbers of dollars," and then propose five or six different ways in which those same dollars can be spent. It seems to me that the Attorney General would do well to listen to the cautions of his colleagues within this House that the savings that will accrue -- and they will accrue -- from the kind of case management system that he is talking about already, as my count goes, between the changes in technology, between the changes in other capital costs, between many of the changes of the costly case management masters, and they will cost money, those dollars are going to be spent many times over. The Attorney General would be wise to be very cautious.

Mr Tony Martin (Sault Ste Marie): I also want to commend the member from Hamilton for his speech this afternoon. I certainly thought, as I listened to him tell of his understanding and experience and knowledge of this subject, that he was painting a picture that all of us need painted. The context within which everything in this government unfolds is a context of cuts and a diminishing of our ability to continue to deliver services in this province in a way that we've come to expect and to accept as the norm.

This piece of legislation is no different than everything else the government has delivered so far. It's something positive in the middle of a whole bunch of negative. It's like a smokescreen. On one hand you say, "Here's something we think will be good for people," and in fact is good for people, will be good for the system. But when you put it in the context of everything else they're doing, it just doesn't balance out. In the end, even though in this instance they're going to be doing something that we as a party can support, at the end of the day the whole justice system will not be well served and this government will not live up to the promises that it made in the Common Sense Revolution and in the talk that they deliver out there to the people of Ontario and in this place.

For the member from Hamilton to get up and say what he did in such an eloquent and passionate way serves the process here of debate very, very well and I'm sure will be much appreciated by people out there who are trying desperately to put some sense to what it is that this government is doing, to try and put the pieces together so that at the end of the day they have the full picture because the group across the way I don't think still fully understand what the full picture is. I don't think they know at the end of the day what the result is going to be. I'm telling you that it won't be good news.

The Deputy Speaker: The member for Hamilton Centre can take two minutes to wrap up.

Mr Christopherson: I want to thank my colleagues, the members for St Catharines, London Centre and Sault Ste Marie, for their kind remarks and their supportive comments.

I want to reserve the majority of my response to the comments of the member for Willowdale, the current Attorney General. I wrote down that he said I don't get it. I find it quite interesting that in his entire two-minute diatribe, a responding diatribe to be fair, he didn't once defend what I accused him of doing.

He talked about jobs, and I'm going to preserve a little bit of the two minutes that I have to comment on that, but it's important to note that he did not defend himself against the charges and allegations I made in terms of the promises that were broken, the effect on the majority of people of Ontario and the ultimate impact on the most vulnerable and on our children and what's going to happen to law and order and public safety as a result of their measures. He didn't comment one word on any of that.

He went on and talked about the fact that it's best if somebody has a job. Well, what kind of job? This government is so keen on privatizing that every opportunity they have to kill decent paying jobs in this province, they're going to go for it. They like the idea of minimum wage jobs. They like jobs that compete with the southern United States, the right-to-work states, Mexico and other Third World nations. That's the way they want to compete and it's the workers out there who are going to pay for that at the same time that corporate profits are going through the roof.

He talked about investment leaving the province under us. After our Bill 40 in 1994, we had the historic level of $8 billion invested in the manufacturing sector, the highest level in the history of Ontario. More nonsense coming from this government.

The Deputy Speaker: Further debate?

Mr Crozier: It's my pleasure to make some comments today on Bill 79, the Courts Improvement Act. I might say at the outset that, generally speaking, we want to support any bill that will reduce public confusion about the courts, that will make the courts more efficient and that, in the end, will be better for the citizens of the province of Ontario. Speaker, with your indulgence, it would be interesting for me today to know how many lawyers there are sitting in the House at the present time. Who around would want to identify themselves as a lawyer?


Mr Crozier: At least somebody will admit to it. The reason I say that is that it is obvious I'm speaking from a layman's point of view. In the last three or four minutes it seems to me that we've gotten into rather an economic discussion. I feel much more comfortable in an economic discussion, but I know that if I went on with that discussion, you might bring me back to the bill at hand, and rightly so.

I'd like to begin by giving a little bit of background because a lot has been said today about courts being confusing. Certainly I, for one, would agree that the general public, the vast majority of us who have never been in a court before, find them confusing, intimidating and costly. If we can do anything at all to make them less confusing, less intimidating and certainly less costly, as I said at the outset, we'd be pleased to support that.


As you know, probably even with a traffic ticket, when you turn it over and it says you can plead guilty or you can appear in court on a certain date, I think what most people do, depending on the amount of the fine and the type of offence, if it's a lesser fine and a lesser offence, is they probably just simply sign the ticket and send it off because they know it's going to be an expensive process to defend themselves, albeit I understand on occasion some people act as their own lawyer. It seems to me there's some saying about someone who acts as their own lawyer acts for a fool or some such thing as that. The first thing you want to do is go and talk to a lawyer, of course. Unless you happen to have a lawyer as a very close friend, that advice is going to cost you some money. Let's, then, assume that very few of those people have access to the court system.

Late this summer, this bill was tabled, Bill 79, the Courts Improvement Act. It's my understanding that it has four main components or purposes: (1) to amend the Courts of Justice Act to permit the appointment of case management masters; (2) to amend the Courts of Justice Act to change the names of Ontario courts; (3) to give power to make regulations under the Charities Accounting Act to the Attorney General, acting on the recommendation of the public guardian or the public trustee; and (4) to make housekeeping and minor amendments to the Courts of Justice Act and the Children's Law Reform Act.

I'm always a bit leery when it says, "to make housekeeping and minor amendments," because, as my colleague the member for Renfrew North said earlier today, and I commented on his speech, it's often those little parts of a bill that those of us who are not familiar with law find are either the most interesting or are the ones that have a great effect on our lives and we don't realize it until some time later.

In any event, on the same date that the bill was introduced to the Legislature, outside the House the Attorney General announced that six civil court sites in Toronto would be consolidated at a new court at 393 University Avenue and that a new facility is under construction. There will be 23 courtrooms, and they're expected to be completed this month. I hope that those renovations are on track, because as we have heard today, we all understand the need for some improvement in the physical facilities of our courts. As well, two new courtrooms will be added to the existing courtrooms at the 361 University Avenue courthouse, and renovations on those are expected to be completed around December.

The total cost of all these renovations is supposed to be in the area of $11.5 million. In view of the other areas in our court system where funds have been restricted, some being in the areas of personnel, I hope and I trust that this $11.5 million that we're spending on fixed assets will be money well spent, because we all know, and even the Attorney General and others might agree, that our court system, in order to function properly and perhaps even improve it, would need even more money. We'd all like to do that, but we understand the fiscal constraints that we're under these days.

Because there may be some watching today who are not familiar with the background that leads up to changes that are recommended in this bill, people might want to know what the background is that led up to this and why it is we feel we need them. In 1989, Attorney General Ian Scott announced a plan that was based on a 1987 report of Mr Justice Zuber, to reform the trial court system in Ontario. These changes were designed to address public dissatisfaction with the existing court system. At the time, the trial court structure consisted of eight different trial courts divided into roughly three hierarchical levels. One of the key components of the plan at that time was the creation of a single court. I certainly would agree that when you take eight different trial courts divided into three different sections, a move to make them into a single court would certainly be a great step towards that objective of making our courts simpler, less confusing, easier to understand.

Court reform was seen as leading to a simpler, more efficient, less expensive, cooperatively managed trial court system. There in a sentence is the objective of any Attorney General, of any Legislature, of any court system; that is, that it be a simpler, more efficient, less expensive and cooperatively managed system.

Phase 1 of court reform came into effect in September 1990. It established a court called the Ontario Court of Justice. This court was divided into two divisions: the Ontario Court (General Division), which consisted of what had previously been the High Court, the district court and the surrogate court; and the Ontario Court (Provincial Division), which continued the existing jurisdiction of the old provincial court. The General Division hears civil law cases, serious criminal cases and all jury trials. The Provincial Division deals with most criminal trials and preliminary hearings. Family law disputes are heard at both levels. I would suspect that most people in the province, if they've had any connection with a court at all, would be most familiar with the General Division, which hears civil law cases.

Phase 2 of court reform would have -- and I emphasize "would have" -- merged the General and Provincial divisions of the Ontario Court of Justice into a unified, one-level trial court with only three divisions -- criminal, civil and family -- again easier for us to understand. Those of us who are laypeople can picture in our minds what a criminal court would require, what a civil court might handle and certainly what a family court might handle. In addition, the appeal court structure was going to be reformed. The total cost of the reform at that time was estimated to be about $16 million over three years.

The dedication of judicial and administrative resources to the resolution of the criminal court backlog problem, which we have all heard about for a number of years, was combined with the failure of the NDP to raise the Small Claims Court maximum enough to keep pace with inflation. I might say at this time that when I say the NDP, it just happened to be during their jurisdiction. At that time, in the early 1990s --

Mrs Boyd: We tripled it.

Mr Crozier: What's the amount now?

Mrs Boyd: It's $6,000.

Mr Crozier: I was going to say that I can remember when I was in small business -- and perhaps you could too, Speaker -- that the limits hadn't been changed for a number of years and were simply too low. If the limits are too low, then you have to go to a higher court. You generally involve lawyers. The cost of the court and the cost of the lawyers add up so quickly that sometimes it wasn't even worth taking the debtor to Small Claims Court.


I can recall a little story that I'll tell you about Small Claims Court. I won't name the parties involved because it's not important, but it gives you an indication of the atmosphere in Small Claims Court as opposed to what I would call an official court situation, and that was that I had, in my business before, taken a debtor to court. The situation was that someone had purchased some material under a family member's account. In most cases in a small town you don't question if a son, daughter, daughter-in-law, son-in-law, whatever, comes in and purchases material. You think nothing of it. But in this case it ended up that the bill was unpaid.

I went to Small Claims Court, not experienced as a lawyer, and stated the case that this material had been purchased, I thought in good faith, but remained unpaid. The judge in this case -- again, it was a small town -- was somebody who was known by both me, as the plaintiff, and the defendant. After listening to the defendant, the judge almost in a fatherly way said to this defendant, "Did you use the material?" Yes, he did. "Well, don't you think then that really any honourable person would pay this?" Then the judge said, as part of it, "Albeit the price was too high," and looked at me with a wink. So I got the message that he was having fun with me but he also was able to get it across to the defendant it was the honourable thing to do.

Small Claims Court was, as I said, a much more relaxed atmosphere. I certainly went back to our business and reviewed our prices, but we couldn't change them. I just thought I'd add that as a little story that might help some of us understand the court system.

Back to Bill 79, the legislation at hand: The key elements of Bill 79, I feel, are the changes that it makes to the Courts of Justice Act. There are two major changes. The rationale for these amendments is to speed up the civil courts and allow them to provide more affordable and accessible service to the public. The key elements are as follows.

Case management masters: I had to do a little bit of research to understand what case management masters are, and after having done that research, I think if these are brought in and if they are managed properly they certainly should help the system.

Bill 79 creates the position of case management master in Toronto, Ottawa and Windsor. What these are for, more for the information of those who may be watching, they're intended to support judges in managing the civil caseload by hearing motions, presiding at pre-trial and settlement conferences and controlling the time lines of the cases. Certainly if the time lines of cases can be reduced, if cases can be handled more quickly, I think we're all in favour of that. As a matter of fact, if there can be settlement before these cases go to court, I think that's even better.

Essentially, the masters support the judges by handling these preliminary and interim matters and disputes, all of which we know are time-consuming. The masters were originally phased out under phase 1 of the court reform that I spoke about earlier but are now being resurrected by the government within a case management framework and will supposedly allow them to ensure that disputes get to trial or are settled within a reasonable period of time.

Within such a framework, if a case does not proceed within a reasonable period of time, it will be dismissed. Again, we've heard a lot of rhetoric -- maybe not even just rhetoric; a lot of serious discussion about cases being dismissed, and the general public can't understand this. In particular we're advised of those higher-profile, more serious criminal cases and we can't understand why they're dismissed just because the courts couldn't handle them in time. I suspect, although I don't know, all governments, that this has been happening for a number of years, that these cases have built up, time lines have been exceeded and therefore serious cases have been dismissed. Creation of these masters follows the recommendations of the 1995 report of the Civil Justice Review calling for the establishment of a case management framework that is properly resourced, and I think that's important, and effectively planned.

So far three Ontario case management projects, in Windsor, Sault Ste Marie and Toronto, have already been established with what I am told are mixed results. It's likely that these new masters will eventually form the backbone of a province-wide case management system.

Subsection 1(17) of the bill amends the Courts of Justice Act to provide that case management masters shall be appointed by the Lieutenant Governor "on the recommendation of the Attorney General." In order to be appointed a case management master, a person must be a member of a provincial or territorial bar for a set period of time to be specified in the regulations.

A case management master holds office for a period of seven years, and the amendments allow for unlimited reappointments for three years at a time, subject to the requirement that case managers retire at age 65. The jurisdiction of case management masters is to be conferred by the rules of the court rather than by statute, and case management masters will be prohibited from acting as arbitrators, adjudicators, referees, conciliators or mediators without authorization unless the rules of the court require participation in alternative dispute resolutions.

I think all of us who are laypeople can understand that case management masters should have experience; therefore, having been a member of a provincial or territorial bar for a period of time, because obviously they can best understand, in most cases, the needs of the court. I hope that these case management masters will not merely be places for political parties to place their friends. I hope, believe and trust that they will be well-qualified people and that we will, in those cases, only accept the most qualified.

Under subsection 1(17) as well, complaints against case management masters will be handled by the Chief Justice, who will appoint a committee to investigate and report and will have the power to dismiss the complaint or impose one of a set of specified sanctions.

On a lighter note, I hope these committees which are used by the Chief Justice will also be effective. Oftentimes committees are made fun of because we find that things aren't always done in a timely fashion by them. I hope this will help to speed things along. According to the ministry this process, to which the rules governing administrative processes will not apply -- for example, there is the Statutory Powers Procedure Act -- is expected to be simpler and less costly than the full complaints procedure used for provincial judges.

You've noted throughout that in looking at this bill I've suggested or at least found that in many cases what's being changed is so that it can be simpler and therefore I think more timely and certainly less costly.


Pursuant to subsection 1(14) of the bill, case management masters are like judges: They're immune from civil liability. I suppose if I were a lawyer I would better understand why the case management masters should be immune from civil liability. Perhaps someone in their response will be able to explain to me why that's necessary, because I'm always just a little nervous when someone is stated to be immune from something for a decision they've made, although I even understand that there are things that we do within this Legislature, things that we say, for which we are immune. I guess, when used properly, that has to be there, because sometimes we may not be able to speak out on issues and say things within reason, within the Speaker's judgement, that we would always like to say.

I want to point out again that these case management masters must be knowledgeable, experienced people, because they will be immune from civil liability. Pursuant to subsections 1(1) and (2) of the bill, appeals from the decisions of case management masters will go to the Ontario Court (General Division), as it is currently known.

Consequential amendments have been made to certain other acts, including the Construction Lien Act, the Evidence Act, the freedom of information act and the Law Society Act in order to reflect and incorporate the new case management masters.

In the brief time I have left, I'd like to address the issue of court name change. I'm not sure how important this area is, but it's my understanding that it's going to cost some money, so I hope this is not just window dressing when it comes to name changes. Bill 79 makes changes to the names of the Ontario courts, this for the second time in six years. Essentially, the Ontario Court (General Division) will now be known as the Superior Court of Justice and the Ontario Court (Provincial Division) will now be known as the Ontario Court of Justice.

All judges in both courts will now be known as Mr or Madam Justice, and my colleague the member for Renfrew North had a considerable amount to say on that earlier. Previously, Provincial Court judges were known only as "Your Honour." The official explanation for this change is that the current names of the courts are confusing to the public, as the final merger of the two courts planned under a previous government's court reform has not occurred. Ontario judges have reportedly also repeatedly requested that the name be changed.

I don't know that this name change will clear up any of the confusion of those of us who are out on the street and hope that we never have to go to court. I guess, if need be, I could always go to my lawyer and have him or her explain the difference in the courts and, I suppose, only hope that if I ever had to go to court at that time, it would be in one of the lesser courts. In any event, we're going to change court names.

There have been press reports that I will refer to that indicate this change has been prompted by veteran judges from the General Division who were annoyed that their court was merged with a lower court in 1990, thus diminishing their stature. I don't know about that. I've always held judges in the highest of esteem and I can only comment that this has been reported in the press.

Press reports also indicate that the government hopes to placate provincial judges by calling them justices, a more prestigious title than judge, thus diffusing any objection to the changes on their part. Speaker, like your position, I treat it with respect and honour, and if this will go some way towards making the position of what was formerly a judge more prestigious in being called a justice, then so be it.

But my point here is that the cost of changing the names of courts has been estimated at $2.5 million. There was a report in the Toronto Star that the ministry will not be spending any money on changes for forms or letterhead or changing the signs of each of the province's 160 courts. Other press reports said that the ministry is planning to use up all the court letterhead and filing forms before the new supplies are ordered and that no signs will be changed.

Well, if we're going to make it less confusing and we're going to change the names now, but we're still going to call them the old name or at least the signs are going to be the old ones and the letterhead is going to be old, I suggest that may even be more confusing than it is now. On the other hand, I can't fault the government for wanting to use up the paper. Perhaps they could get all that letterhead in and, if there were blank sides to it, we could print things on the other side for all this paper that flows through the Legislature.

It's clear, however, that this name change will at minimum require the replacement over a period of time of hundreds of courthouse signs across the province if mass public confusion is to be avoided. The cost of replacing only one sign, we're told, on each of the 160 courthouses in the province has been estimated at -- if you can believe this, and this was in the Toronto Star on July 10, 1996, so I believe it -- between $160,000 and $800,000. If not changed, as I've pointed out, the existing signs could last another 20 years before wearing out. That would add to the confusion that I'm not even sure is there now, because we always go to a lawyer to straighten it out for us. Without the new signs and letterhead, the court name change would seem to be completely futile and pointless, as the public will remain unaware of the new names. I think we have a little bit of a dilemma here if we're not going to spend some money on it.

That's about all I would like to cover today: the court name change and the confusion that it will hopefully save us; the court masters who will help move the system along. Truly, I hope that this does in the end make our courts more timely, that it's simpler and easier for us who are not in the legal field to understand, and that it will, in doing that, be at least less costly, if not any more.

Thank you for your indulgence, Speaker, and for those in the Legislature for some comments from a layperson.

The Deputy Speaker: Questions or comments?

Mrs Boyd: I'd like to congratulate the member on his speech and point out that exactly the fact that he is a layperson and is struggling to understand how the justice system works is a very important point indeed. One of the problems faced by us in this province -- frankly, in this country -- is that there is a general public lack of understanding around how the court system works, what the process is, who the various players are and what the public accountability is of the justice system.

For a member who is a layperson to outline some of the questions that he has about the justice system points out to us the necessity to follow the recommendations that are in the Civil Justice Review, on which this bill is largely based, to really improve public education around how the court system works, how best to access the court system, exactly what the process is and exactly how public accountability can be assured within the system.

The member very rightly pointed out that this is a lack for most people. One of the things we know is that it is important for us to understand what our rights are and how our system works if we are to be able to exercise our rights to be treated equally before and under the law.


It is my belief that the current act and the way in which the system is to be structured, the way in which cases are to be moved along under the case management system will permit a better opportunity for the general layperson involved in court action to have a sense of what the deadlines are, what the time lines are, who does what in the courts, so that they can feel as though they have more confidence in their knowledge about how the system works.

The Deputy Speaker: The member for Essex South, to wrap up.

Mr Crozier: Thank you, Speaker and my colleagues here. I think you've been rather easy on me today. As was just said, I appreciate those comments because it is difficult for most of us to understand the court system, and yet in a democracy such as ours, we want to be able to depend on the courts. For most of us the courts should be, along with other law enforcement functions, a comfort to us. They should be a support to most of the citizens of Ontario.

I will only end by saying and re-emphasizing that the courts also have to be accessible to the average person when necessary, and by "accessible" I mean the system has to be efficient and less costly perhaps than it's been in the past. To those ends, we will be supporting this bill.

I understand that it's going to committee and that in those areas where we've raised questions, we'll be able to make amendments. I'm sure government will be open to those amendments that will make even further improvements.

The Deputy Speaker: Further debate?

Mr Rosario Marchese (Fort York): I am pleased to speak on this bill, the Courts Improvement Act, and want to begin by saying that my colleague from London Centre yesterday did a tremendous job, a thorough job of scrutinizing what's in the bill, offering her long years of experience in community involvement, but also as a former Attorney General who got very actively involved in the work that she was doing and was able therefore to offer many positive suggestions about what they have done, that we began to do during our tenure and certainly under the tenure of my colleague from London Centre, and offered some other areas of criticism in terms of what else needed to be done.

In these debates it is always important to have members who take the time, the interest and the care to provide useful input that will make a particular bill much more effective for all of us, because we're all affected by the court system, whether we be judges, lawyers, victims or anybody who is affected by a particular problem that lands you in the court system.

I wanted to make those comments because often we don't do a very good job of taking the time and making those very concrete, positive suggestions. So I wanted to say that.

I have two or three areas of interest of mine as it relates to this particular bill that I want to speak to, and one of them is on the whole matter of the case management masters. This bill creates the position of case management masters. As some have pointed out, case management masters will support judges in managing the civil caseload by hearing motions, presiding at pre-trials and controlling time lines of cases. I believe that is obviously an important function. Others have spoken to this and I believe that many believe it is an important function to build into this particular bill.

Where we have a concern is around the whole issue of how we make the appointments. These appointments are going to be for seven-year terms of office, with unlimited three-year renewal. We have no quarrel with that. We think that's an appropriate thing to do. The problem is not in the fact that we make them long-term but how we make those appointments -- that concerns me a great deal -- and the way it's structured is that the Attorney General makes those appointments.

Why do I worry about this? I want to tell you what some people who were in government prior to this election, who have very good experience with what the members of the opposition, Conservative members, used to say then in the standing committee on agencies, boards and commissions.

When I was in that committee, chairing it for a while or popping in every now and then when needed or when I was interested in some of the appointments, many of the Conservative members were only interested in weeding out those we had appointed who were NDP-affiliated, somewhat affiliated, somewhat connected to the New Democratic Party, therefore they scrutinized those members in such a political way that it bothered many of us.

Why did it bother me? It bothered me because we made many appointments that were not politically connected, who were not NDPers and may have been Liberal-affiliated and Conservative-affiliated members. We did that. In fact, my only worry is that we appointed too many Liberals and too many Conservatives during our reign.

I learned from what this government is doing at the moment that we should have done more appointments that were connected to the things we believed in instead of trying to do our best to appoint people not based on their political affiliation but on their expertise. The Conservative members at the time simply took advantage of the fact that every now and then we brought over a few who were NDPers. That bothered me a great deal.

What we did or tried to do was to make a change in the appointments process that would change the system as we knew it because there was no system in the past. The Liberals had no system. I understand it was a very close-knit group of people, one or two, who made the appointments process. The Tories had no system. The only system they had was to do what they've always done: They appointed their political, Conservative, patronage friends. That was the system they had in place then.

Mr Steve Gilchrist (Scarborough East): As opposed to hiring their enemies?

Mr Marchese: As opposed to, Mr Gilchrist, doing what we did. Allow me to explain it so it's clear to you. We established a standing committee on agencies, boards and commissions. It allowed you, the critics then, Conservatives and Liberals, to bring forth people and ask them questions about their credentials, their expertise, their knowledge of the field and their political affiliation. You took advantage of that, because the first questions your colleagues asked in that committee were: "Are you an NDPer? Do you have an NDP membership?" That was always the first question. That's what they looked at. It didn't matter to them that the people we were appointing had the expertise. It was irrelevant to them. What was relevant was the fact that some of them may have been connected to our party.

At least in our process, where we created a process, we allowed you the possibility to comment and even hammer away at the government for that 5% or 7% of all the appointments we made that were very clearly NDP-connected. The rest of them were all your friends, and I regret that. I really do. I regret that we appointed many of your friends. Why would we do that? Just to appear to be neutral, to appear to be fair. In our attempt to be fair to everybody, we designed a process that would permit many other than NDPers to be there. Why would we do that when we clearly see in your appointments process -- and the Chair of the committee is here. He knows as well as other members of that committee who are here that most of the people you appoint are Tories, and you do that with a straight face.



Mr Marchese: They can't hear you in Italian. He's speaking Italian to me, Mr Speaker, and he's distracting me. I really would like to answer back in Italian but I can't because, as you know, Italian's not permitted in this Legislative Assembly. I would like to speak in Italian.

To the member, why do I prolong this point? I prolong it because the Tories in opposition said: "We're going to be different. We are going to appoint people based on merit, not on affiliation." That's what your friends said. It's laughable. It's tragically stupid and tragically funny, but that's what they said. They said, these Tories, that they were going to be different, that the only people they were going to appoint were those who had the expertise and the knowledge in the field. Isn't it laughable, Mr Speaker? Because you know -- you're on that side -- that the people who have been appointed so far have been very politically connected, and you should be embarrassed. All of you should be embarrassed because you fine Tories were going to be different. But people know better.

Hon Mr Villeneuve: Where's this in the bill, Mr Speaker? I don't see this in the bill.

Mr Marchese: Mr Speaker, one of your friends says I'm not speaking to this bill. He fails to understand the connection I'm making. We're talking about case management masters. We're talking about the fact that the Attorney General at the moment, the way it's currently structured, is going to make the appointments, and he, the Attorney General, was in committee many a time in the standing committee on agencies, boards and commissions where he clearly -- he and Stockwell and all the others -- went there to talk about the kind of political appointments we had made. So why do I worry about this? It's very connected.

Hon Mr Harnick: On a point of order, Mr Speaker: I would like to correct the record. I was never on the standing committee of agencies, boards and tribunals.

The Deputy Speaker: That is not a point of order.

Mr Marchese: Mr Speaker, he will have a turn in his two-minute rebuttal. He and the Minister of Agriculture both know exactly what I'm talking about. The Minister of Agriculture says I don't know what I'm talking about, but he knows very well what I'm talking about because he's very much a part of the problem. He was there in the previous opposition party; he's not newly elected. He knows what I'm talking about. The Attorney General knows what I'm talking about. He knows. He can deny it when he has his two-minute rebuttal, but he knows clearly what I'm talking about.

Why I am worried, speaking very clearly to this specific issue, is that he, the Attorney General, is the only one at the moment who is going to make the appointments. Now, you might believe him and all of you out there listening and your friends might say: "Oh, but don't worry. This Attorney General is very honourable. The only people he will appoint are those who clearly have the expertise, the knowledge and the interest to be there." If you believe that, then we're okay. We can all go home and we can forget about how they behaved in the past because now they're in government and the only appointments they're going to make are those who have the expertise. There's no politics in this at all, no political patronage. If you believe that, then just simply turn off the television and don't worry. But I don't believe them.

I believe what we need here is a judicial appointments advisory committee to speak to this, to advise on who the case management masters should be. Why is that important? We have a Judicial Appointments Advisory Committee for judges, and I believe that is very, very important to have. Why? Because it includes a number of judiciary folks, it includes many lawyers, it includes as well members of the public. That's important. These people in this advisory committee bring together a great deal of expertise and legal and community-based knowledge that we need. I have much more trust and faith in a judicial advisory committee recommending case management masters than I do simply leaving that job to the Attorney General; not because he's not capable, not for that, but rather because I believe that he needs the advice of an advisory committee similar to the one we have for judges. I believe it's important.

I believe he will support it in the end when we propose an amendment of this sort, because otherwise there's no scrutiny of these individuals. A judicial advisory committee provides that scrutiny. There are no job descriptions for the case management masters. A judicial advisory committee could look at that, review that and feel comfortable that in the end it made a wise decision about the people appointed. I would feel better knowing that there is such a group dealing with that issue. Remember, there are no minimum requirements for these people, so how can we feel comfortable about who is going to be appointed? Why would we leave this job simply to one individual, the Attorney General? Again, not because he may not be capable -- that's not the issue -- but rather to place our trust in a group of people that would have the ability to scrutinize very carefully who gets appointed.

In this regard, that's why I spend some time on this, because I believe the job of these case management masters to be important. We have to look at this. I'm hoping the Attorney General will comment, not just in terms of what we said about patronage appointments, what they said in the past and what they're doing presently, but rather address this particular component I raised, which I believe to be a very important part of what we're doing with this bill.

There is another matter I want to speak to, and that is the whole matter of a regional courts management advisory committee. At the present moment, this committee meets at least four times a year. It is within the act that they are to meet four times a year. I believe this is an important thing to do and to continue to do. Why do I think it's important? Because these people are representatives of the public. They reflect the opinions, the feelings, the frustrations and/or knowledge and experience of the public. It's important for these people to meet on a regular basis, at least four times a year, something that should happen, because these are the people who deal with issues of backlog, these are the people who deal with issues of the physical aspect of the court in terms of how that affects the proceedings of the court, how it affects people who have to come to the court, a whole number of things that connect to the aspects of the court system.

Having public input in this particular area is important, is essential. If you simply take this requirement away from the bill, as they are doing, there is no requirement that this group meet. If there is no requirement that this group meet, we're not certain whether it will want to meet at all.

If you build it into the bill, then they are required to meet; but if you don't, my sense is that it won't happen. I'm not sure whether that's deliberate on the part of the government or not. I'm not sure whether it is that they don't want public input, public representation or the involvement of these people to address these issues because, by having such a group scrutinize the proceedings, the backlog issues, that might become a criticism of the government should it comment. Perhaps that's it. I'm not sure.

Maybe the Attorney General, in his two-minute rebuttal, will also respond to this, because I want to know whether he's trying to shut off the democratic process and to clearly shut off the voice of such a community or such a group or not. If that's not the case, what is it? Is there a reason they don't want this committee to meet a minimum of four times a year? I want to know. I hope he will respond to this.


As you can see, the aspects I comment on have a lot to do with community input and community involvement, which I believe is an essential part of the democratic process. When you take those democratic processes out of this field, you're making it closed-shop. You're saying, like the Attorney General is saying: "We don't need this committee, we don't need to have a judicial advisory committee to make the appointments, because I can do it and you can trust me. You've elected me to do the job, Mike Harris has elected me to do the job, so you can trust the fact that I will do it very objectively, cleanly, fairly, to represent the interests of the community." Well, that may be, but I don't think that's a good thing. I don't think the public out there is saying: "Exclude us from this process. Don't take into account the opinions we have that might improve the court process, because we trust you to do it. That's why we elected you." I don't think that's what the public is saying or what they want.

Those are two important components of this particular bill that I want to speak to, and I will add another that I think is also very useful, and this is praise for the government in terms of what it's doing: the changes it's making to the regulation power in the Charities Accounting Act from the Lieutenant Governor in Council to the Attorney General and the recommendations of the public guardian and trustee. It allows for regulations for charities to avoid the need to go to court for approval of technical breaches. This is useful, and again it connects to community involvement.

All the areas I've spoken to connect to involvement and community advice, and in this particular component it's community involvement. It's important because a number of individuals who have volunteered to sit on a number of volunteer boards, charities and the like, were very concerned about liability in the event that they said or did something that might have been possibly untoward, and there were no protections for these people. So what they have introduced here is useful and I praise it. We need ongoing community involvement in non-profits, in charities, because without them this system would collapse. Without volunteers, everything we do would collapse.

Approximately $4 billion worth, if it were to be calculated, is being given by volunteers actually devoting their time sitting on boards, agencies and commissions where the remuneration is very small, or on non-profit groups where there is no remuneration whatsoever. Volunteers up to the present have been spending a great deal of time, energy and commitment towards making improvements, wherever they are. If we didn't initiate the change being recommended by this minister, many people would likely not want to be involved, and that's a problem.

It's certainly a problem for Tories, because they're relying a great deal on volunteers. In fact this whole province is going to be run by volunteers -- and the private sector, of course, because they really believe the private sector can do the job better, irrespective of the fact that they don't care about what happens to humans. But the volunteer sector? Gee, that's a big component of what this government is doing, so I welcome this particular change and I know they needed to have this particular change, because they rely a great deal on volunteers and they're going to rely more and more on volunteers.

They have a parliamentary assistant travelling the province, I know in Sault Ste Marie -- I was talking to a colleague. They're travelling all over, talking to people about volunteers and how we get more and more people to volunteer. Like I tell you, I'm not sure how they're going to do that. It's like making a stone bleed, because so many people are volunteering now that I'm not sure they can take time off work to do the job government should be doing by providing the funding for the services to be maintained in every area.

My colleague the member for Hamilton Centre talked about the Tory funding cuts, which are creating chaos in Ontario's court system. He went on at length about that. It is creating chaos in the court system because the cutbacks are always connected to people. When you fire people they're connected to services, and when the services are no longer there people are going to be very upset by that. Your volunteers are not going to be able to do the job of the people who were there in the past doing it on a paid basis, as it should be, because a lot of these things cannot be done by volunteers.

But as I say, I welcome the fact that the Attorney General has made this change in the Charities Accounting Act because I think that it was welcomed. We support it and I know the Liberals and others support this as well.

I want to comment briefly on another matter. The bill proposes that complaints against case management masters be handled in a manner similar to complaints against deputy judges, but we know that deputy judges are not full-time or long-term employees as envisioned by the act. There should be, we argue, a council for case management masters similar to deputy judge councils, and it should be responsible for approving the code of conduct proposed by the Chief Justice.

I know that my colleague the member for London Centre will be proposing that as a change too and many other recommended changes that we'll be looking at and supporting. We hope that the Attorney General will listen, from time to time, to some of the suggestions we have made. I say this sincerely. I say this because he will know that the member for London Centre, and he applauded her earlier on, has made a number of useful suggestions and recommendations that support what he has proposed here today, but she's also made a number of critical comments about other areas that need to be changed. I am hopeful and I'm assuming that with the same interest he showed in her support he will show similar support to some of the changes I have spoken to and that my colleague the member for London Centre has spoken to. I'm convinced he will listen to that.

The three areas again are: Please don't make the appointments a political matter. Do yourself a favour and make sure that the case management masters go through a judicial advisory committee because then you will get our support for that. You will get the support and trust of the public, who will know that there will be no political patronage involved, that you are only interested in making sure you have the best advice from an advisory committee that will bring expertise from the legal field and expertise and knowledge from community people.

Then he can free himself from any attack that I certainly am waging against him and his government on the whole matter of political patronage. He will be doing himself a favour by doing that. There's absolutely no political advantage to allowing himself that particular privilege of appointing people -- no political advantage whatsoever. I see this as something that will help him and his government in appointing a judicial advisory committee.

On the whole matter of regional court management advisory committees, I argue, keep the system as it is because it will allow these committees to meet and to talk about the matter of backlog and the whole matter of the physical aspects of the court. We need that input. I think the minister needs that input. If he doesn't want that input, people like me, and others, in this House and outside this House, will say, as I have said, that they do not want to hear from the regional court management advisory committee, which is largely a community-based group. If he doesn't do that, he's telling me he doesn't want to hear from them. So I say keep this committee; keep the current structure which allows them to meet four times a year. There is no political advantage in eliminating that whatsoever -- none.


Perhaps in his two-minute rebuttal he can comment on the patronage issue and free himself on that, and he can comment on this issue about not allowing this committee to meet four times a year. I hope on this front, the Attorney General will have some useful feedback to me as it relates to three or four of the matters that I've raised.

The Deputy Speaker: Questions and comments.

Mr Bradley: I'm glad the member mentioned the political patronage system that used to dominate the court system in years gone by at both the federal and provincial level and how there's been a move away from that. I think while there have been many good people appointed to the bench and to other positions within the legal profession who in fact may be characterized as patronage appointments -- many of those people have been very capable individuals in any event -- the best way of handling a system of justice in the province or federally is to have appointments which are recognized by an independent body as being non-political.

That doesn't mean that people who have served in political office or may be associated with one of the political parties in this province should be precluded from holding a position in the courts or in the court system, but it does mean that a more objective group will be able to make recommendations so that the people we have on the bench and in other positions are indeed selected as being capable people and receive some widespread support.

I know it's attractive. Each one of us, as we get into power, probably have people whom we know who hope they might be appointed to the bench for one reason or other. I have seen that in years gone by. I'm sure there are many, with the Conservatives returning to power now, who will be looking for that to happen.

The more we depoliticize the system, the better off we will be, and I think that movement towards doing so is a movement which is to be commended. I think the member for Fort York was pointing to the attributes of such a system that we hope will be continued well into the future.

Mrs Boyd: I certainly agree that the points made by the member for Fort York around having appointments to the case management masters made by the Judicial Appointments Advisory Committee are very well taken.

I'd like to quote from Hansard, June 20, 1994. The now Attorney General, in talking about the amendments to the Courts of Justice Act, which put into place in a permanent way the advisory committee that was put in place by the previous Attorney General, said:

"The second aspect of the bill is the Judicial Appointments Advisory Committee, and again that's an aspect of the bill that is really nothing particularly remarkable, because it's been in operation in the province of Ontario for many years, or for at least the last several years, dealing with the appointment of provincial court judges. Now we have legislated that procedure. We've recognized a formality to it that is, as well, a good thing. It's a good thing because both the Ontario Judicial Council and the Judicial Appointments Advisory Committee involve significant input from the public so that the justice system is not elevated to a point or to a position above the public's reach and understanding. The public is very much a part of these procedures, and I think that as well is a good thing for the administration of justice in Ontario."

I would agree with the now Attorney General in those comments. We all know that the pool of provincial judges has often been the pool from which federal judgeships have been chosen. People get elevated from provincial judgeships to federal judgeships often, and I believe the same will be true of case management masters. They will provide a pool from which the selection of justices at both the provincial and the federal levels is likely to be made, because they will have proven their ability. Therefore, it is very important that this first step be part of a public appointments procedure and not just at the fiat of the government that happens to be in power.

Mr Crozier: I didn't have the opportunity in my brief remarks that I gave today to reiterate what I had earlier briefly commented on, and that is, I would hope with the case management system that's going to be put into effect and the streamlining of the court system that we don't forget that the general public who serve on juries, who are dedicated individuals who probably, through serving on a jury, do so at some economic loss in many cases and do so at some time away from their families and the things they like to do -- I hope that the system becomes more efficient behind the scenes so that kind of thing doesn't occur. I gave the example earlier, and there were some members who weren't here at that time, of having been called late at night to be told I didn't have to go in the next day when there was jury selection, or on the other hand, having been called late and having to make arrangements for the next day.

I hope in all this streamlining that our jury selection, at least the scheduling of when you have to be there for jury selection, has a little more order to it, because that again saves time in the court and saves time for individuals who participate in it. I didn't get selected for a jury at that time and it would have been interesting to have done so, but everyone wants to do their part, I'm sure, in a system that's more efficient and less costly.

Ms Shelley Martel (Sudbury East): I want to commend my colleague the member for Fort York for his comments this afternoon, very much which followed from the discussion that my colleague the member for London Centre had in this House yesterday with respect to this bill.

There is no doubt that we are going to support this bill; we made that clear yesterday. However, both of my colleagues have been very clear that there are significant changes that should be made to be clear that the whole notion of patronage is taken out of the changes that the Attorney General wants to make. That would, if he would follow through on that, follow very much in line with work that was begun by the former Liberal government and then very much carried on under us.

For example, it was our government that significantly changed the process whereby justices of the peace are appointed in this province. We made it very clear that no longer could a friend of a friend of someone else who was in power automatically become a justice of the peace, but in fact there would be a committee that would be established that would have representation from the bar, representation from the community and others who would assess the qualifications of people who wanted to be justices of the peace and to make a determination as to whether they would be appropriate to serve in the judicial system in our province.

We secondly followed up from the Liberals and made it mandatory that appointments made by the Judicial Appointments Advisory Committee would be mandatory. That again, I think, takes the politics out of the process, allows for people who have to use the system and who need to have access to it to be assured that they are going to get a fair hearing, that it's going to be non-partisan, independent and that the people who are making judgements about their cases are qualified to be there. We have made it clear to the Attorney General, and I hope he will take our advice on this, that he should do the same with respect to the case management masters. We should have a process in place where the public has the opportunity to participate and take patronage out of it completely.

The Deputy Speaker: The member for Fort York has two minutes.

Mr Marchese: I thank the members for St Catharines, London Centre, Essex South and Sudbury East. I was expecting the Attorney General to respond to some of the things I had raised, because I thought he took an interest earlier in some of the comments I had made, but I'm comforted in the belief that he was listening and comforted in the notion that somehow he's going to respond positively to what I said. Why else would he not have spoken?


The advice I have to the Attorney General is the following. First, depoliticize the appointments process. It is good for you and good for everyone in Ontario to have a judicial advisory committee do the appointments of these case management masters. You depoliticize it by getting yourself out as the sole arbitrator appointments person of these individuals. We think it's in your interest and everybody's interest to do so.

Again as it relates to community involvement, in the same way that he made changes to the Charities Accounting Act, I would recommend to him that he continue the requirement that would permit the regional court management advisory committee to meet four times a year. That will allow for the input of the community to be had. It will permit the Attorney General to know what this advisory committee is thinking. But if you don't allow them to meet at least four times a year, my feeling is they're not going to meet at all. Is that what you want? Do you want them not to meet? Because that's what you're doing by doing this.

I hope he's listening to the suggestions that we have made.

The Deputy Speaker: Further debate?

Mr Michael A. Brown (Algoma-Manitoulin): It's indeed a pleasure to speak to Bill 79. I think members should be reminded about what this bill actually does.

It first amends the Courts of Justice Act to permit the appointment of case management masters. I think we would all agree that having a little bit more management in the courts might be a very good thing for the province of Ontario and we have to be supportive of that. In that vein, we over here in the opposition have indicated support in general for this bill, although we have a few minor difficulties.

The second thing it does is that it amends the Courts of Justice Act to change the name of the Ontario courts. Well, that's earthshattering, that really is. I suspect that lawyers and judges may appreciate that, but frankly I don't think this is going to change the world for my constituents or for most of those people who from time to time may have some interest in the court system or some need to use the court system. Changing the name, while laudatory perhaps to the legal profession, probably does not do very much for the ordinary fellow from Kagawong or Killarney or Massey. It's probably not going to make a heck of a lot of difference to them what we call the courts, because they don't know what we call the courts now.

The third point is that it gives the power to make regulations under the Charities Accounting Act to the Attorney General, and that's a recommendation of the public guardian and trustee, again probably a good thing but hardly the stuff that earthshattering material is made of.

Fourth, it makes some housekeeping and minor amendments to the Courts of Justice Act and the Children's Law Reform Act.

This bill is very supportable. I'm glad it's going to committee, as I understand, but basically it doesn't change a whole lot of anything unless you like to print new stationery. If you like to print new stationery, this will be good for printers in Ontario and that will probably create jobs, and wow. But in terms of being very impressive, I'm not sure it really changes very much.

What we have to do is see this in some kind of context, and I think the context was laid out by the Attorney General this spring. The Attorney General this spring announced $120 million worth of cuts to the justice system, of which $60 million and 606 jobs came out of the Ministry of the Attorney General. At the time, the Attorney General promised all of Ontarians that there would be no cut to core services. Despite that, we've learned that there are 70 less crown prosecutors in Ontario; 15% of the crown prosecutors were cut.

What that means in Algoma-Manitoulin is that we no longer have a crown attorney in the district of Manitoulin. There is no longer a crown attorney in the great judicial district of Manitoulin. To my constituents that was important. To have a crown attorney who understood the district of Manitoulin and the legal problems that might arise there was far better than importing people to prosecute cases, often being briefed on the way over to the courtroom from Sudbury. That's not always most effective. It's hard on the defence lawyers. It's difficult.

The second thing I wanted to talk about quickly, because the government whip seems to be a little antsy, is the fact that we're not seeing justices of the peace appointed in any kind of a timely manner. We have needed a justice of the peace in the Elliot Lake area for months; it must probably be going on a year. I've written repeatedly. We have not seen a justice of the peace appointed for a city of 14,000 people on the north shore. The police officers are sometimes driving two and three hours to get a warrant. It's just unacceptable. Therefore, when the minister tries to make believe that this is important and significant, I don't think my constituents are going to notice a heck of a lot of difference.

The third point, and I've been on this matter for a long time, is that somebody should have a look at judicial district lines. We have a case where one part of my riding is in the Algoma district, which means you have to go to the Sault, but you have to drive through the Sudbury district to get there. That does not make any sense. It's just something that should be corrected.

Given the time, I will complete my comments.

The Acting Speaker (Mr Ed Doyle): Questions and comments? Further debate?

Mr Tilson has moved second reading of Bill 79. Is it the pleasure of the House that the motion carry? Carried.

Shall the bill be ordered for third reading?

Mr Bud Wildman (Algoma): Hey, I thought you left that job.

The Acting Speaker: I broke my deal.

Hon Mr Harnick: Speaker, with unanimous consent, the bill should be referred to the justice committee.

The Acting Speaker: Agreed? Agreed.


The Acting Speaker (Mr Ed Doyle): Pursuant to standing order 34, the question that this House do now adjourn is deemed to have been made. The member for Windsor-Sandwich has given notice of dissatisfaction with the answer to a question given earlier today by the Minister of Health. The member has up to five minutes to debate the matter, and the minister or parliamentary assistant may reply for up to five minutes.


Mrs Sandra Pupatello (Windsor-Sandwich): The minister?

The Acting Speaker (Mr Ed Doyle): The minister shall be here momentarily.

Mrs Pupatello: I hope the Minister of Health intends to be here for this address, since he is responsible, along with the Premier of Ontario, for the dire situation.

If I could refresh the memory of the House, my question today was in regard to the obstetricians in the Windsor area. We have women in my constituency office alone, 68 at last count, for whom we cannot find obstetricians. Several of these women are considered at-risk cases by their family doctors; others simply don't have family doctors.

Today, the minister responded by telling me that I might be scaremongering somehow. When these women call our offices the first thing we do is we call the minister on their behalf and we suggest that they call the minister directly, which they have all done. I'd like to share with you these women's experiences.

What has happened is that the minister's office has responded by telling these women to call the College of Physicians and Surgeons. The college of physicians in turn tells the women to call the obstetricians in my home town. Of course, they're not taking on new patients, and so the women are in the midst of this vicious circle which they can't get out of.


At this point, they call us again. We make intervention on their part. I will tell the minister that I have personally called him and not once have received a phone call back. I have written letters to which I've had no reply. The women themselves have written letters as well.

Even if the women are not at risk, we consider prenatal care for these women paramount in the healthy development of children and healthy moms in my community. Likewise, the women at risk are in a particularly dangerous position because they must have prenatal care, so at some point the minister has agreed that the women can pop across the river for care.

The minister suggests today that I have done nothing to help him find solutions. Au contraire, M. Minister. We have intervened to find hospitals in the States that will take these women on, only to find that we must get pre-approval by OHIP, and we begin working with the OHIP offices. What we have found out as late as today is that what the OHIP office requires is a letter from the college of physicians which will authorize the pre-payment of OHIP once the women do go over. We called the college today and they are not aware of having to write any such letter, because you, Minister, are not keeping your various offices informed of what this process must be.

At the end of the day, all that matters to me is that I have 68 women on my office list who currently do not have obstetrical care, and several of those women are at risk. Minister, you are in charge. It is your responsibility to find a solution. I have tried to help these women and, in contrast to what you said to me in the House today, I have tried to help find obstetricians for these women. We've used up all of the resources in London. The London OBs are telling us: "We can't take any more." One of my constituents, who has a heart problem, the London OB refuses to take along the 401 because it's too dangerous for her. I can't tell you the number of cases.

All of the women have called your office. Your ministry has sent them around the bend. They land up back on our desk and we are trying to find solutions. You announced today to the press, not to the House, that you are in negotiations to open up a clinic where you are going to fly in obstetricians --

Hon Jim Wilson (Minister of Health): I told you that in answer to my question.

Mrs Pupatello: Apparently you did, outside the House today -- that you are in negotiations to open up some kind of clinic. This is what they did in Saskatchewan back in the 1960s because the government could not handle the job action that was laid out to it by the doctors there.

Instead of dealing with the issue at hand, you are proposing a Band-Aid solution. You think you'll bring obstetricians in from somewhere -- England again? What OB could possibly want to come into our area with the kind of atmosphere that currently exists? The response from my obstetricians today is simply that if the hospitals enter into negotiations to open up a clinic, all of them will cease immediately, only furthering the very action that you're trying to prevent.

If you are truly concerned with solving this problem, I am asking you please to enter into serious negotiation with an area like Windsor, which is very unlike the city of Toronto as far as doctors are concerned. We have very special problems. We've had shortages that have existed for some time. Your action since you became minister has only exaggerated the issue for us. Your clawbacks were simply the last straw for our doctors. You must deal with the issue.

Our OBs in our town are already working every weekend. They are already working every day of the week. They simply cannot take more patients on. Everything you have done to date has simply exacerbated it for our doctors, and at the end of the day our patients to do not have the care that you are responsible, as the Minister of Health, for delivering. It is your responsibility to deliver healthy babies for healthy mothers in my community, and I would like a direct answer that will not exacerbate the situation and simply throw more gasoline on the fire in my town, because that is what you are doing today.

Hon Mr Wilson: First of all, the honourable member is incorrect. I mentioned the fact that her hospital administrators were down this afternoon, meeting with ministry officials. That shouldn't be a surprise. We've been trying to find solutions to this very serious problem for quite some time.

I'm pleased to announce -- and it's not meant to put fire, but if people can't get services, I have to provide services -- that if a clinic is the way to go because obstetricians there are refusing to provide services, then we're going to open up a clinic in conjunction with your two hospitals, and the proposal is that an obstetrician will staff that clinic along with the multidisciplinary team.

Mrs Pupatello: You know and I know it's a Band-Aid solution.

Hon Mr Wilson: Well, you've had a shortage --

Mrs Pupatello: It's a Band-Aid solution.

The Acting Speaker: Order. Allow the minister to respond.

Hon Mr Wilson: Mr Speaker, she's asked me to come here, when I'm supposed to be somewhere else, to respond to the very serious concerns of her constituents. I'd appreciate it if she'd listen for the next four minutes, the time I have.

Obstetricians in this province were given about a $14,000 raise, if they're doing an average of 165 births per year, which is the average, so the average obstetrician got a raise. I can't think of anybody else who got a raise. We're paying their malpractice insurance up to the 1995 levels. I have said consistently that we will pay the 1996 one from January 1, the extra 20% increase, if Justice Dubin comes back and indicates that --

Mrs Pupatello: On a point of order, Mr Speaker.

Hon Mr Wilson: How can she do a point of order?

The Acting Speaker: No order. I'm sorry.

Hon Mr Wilson: There's no order in this.

The Acting Speaker: No point of order in this.

Mrs Pupatello: The obstetricians in Windsor are double the level of any other obstetricians in Ontario.

The Acting Speaker: Order, please. Allow the minister to continue.

Hon Mr Wilson: Just for the record, we've given them a raise; we've exempted baby deliveries from the threshold. You'd think if you wanted to make more income you'd redouble the number of deliveries you do, whether you're a family practitioner or an obstetrician. We're moving to work towards this clinic. Apparently it was an excellent meeting. It's a multidisciplinary approach which I think would suit Windsor very much and it's a local solution that we're working on together between the ministry -- at the end of the day my job, on behalf of the people of Ontario, is to make sure there's access to services.

A question I have would go right to your federal cousins. They're good at penalizing provinces under the Canada Health Act. The fact of the matter is that if I take all reasonable measures, including giving raises, we are in the serious negotiations you've asked for. But at the end of the day, if somebody refuses to look after a patient or take on a new patient, there's only so much we can do. We've come to the conclusion at this point that a clinic has to take some of the pressure off, and I think you would agree that it's preferable to have the services on our side of the river than on the American side, and that's what we're working at.

At the same time, though, I want to say to obstetricians in the area that we are trying to deal with their frustrations, which I think come around the schedule of benefits. Yes, ophthalmologists and dermatologists are billing $450,000 a year in a 9-to-5 job and obstetricians have to get up at all kinds of hours and deliver babies, as do a lot of family practitioners, but that's something I can't solve overnight. It's called relative value in the fee schedule. It's trying to recognize the lifestyle and concerns and frustrations that certain doctors have.

I remind you that the NDP gave the OMA the fee schedule under the 1991 agreement and said, "Make any changes you want." All changes to the schedule of benefits, which is the schedule of medically necessary services in each province, have to go through cabinet, and the NDP said, "You make the changes." They didn't make one change in five years. The only change that's been made is the one we made on April 1, which was to give obstetricians a 30% raise based on a 10-year-old OMA report that said baby deliveries in this province are historically underfunded.

When I got the fee schedule back after Bill 26 we made the change, we gave them a raise and we're dealing with the rest of their frustrations at the table. It's one of the things I'm trying to say to the OMA, "Look, I'll help you with the politics of changing the fee schedule and recognizing the lifestyle." Unlike downtown Toronto, where they may never have to see an emergency room, family practitioners in rural areas have to take weekend and night emergencies on call. That has to be recognized. It's not recognized in the fee schedule now. It's an historic problem and this government is committed.

I can tell you it's a very difficult thing because medical politics, with 35 specialty groups and then the family practitioners and general practitioners, are very difficult politics. I'm willing to help them adjust the fee schedule to recognize the frustrations that obstetricians and other specialists have.

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

The House adjourned at 1810.